August 31, 2006
You have to smile
Any time something or someone slows the money train hauling dough to candidates you gotta love it. The Wisconsin Elections Board voted 5-2 to order Mark Green to give back $467,844. He violated the rules, and Kevin Kennedy said, "You shouldn't have accepted it you've got to give it back." Hey! Who knew the Elections Board was still functioning?
I'm not kidding. Green's campaign manager came up with the perfect response. He said they would tell the Elections Board that Green already spent the money! (To steal a line from Doyle and Green TV spots, "That's extreme.")
Here is the sad part. All Green has to do is hold a big fundraiser and he will get more than the EB penalty.
Time for reform, but let us pause and praise the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for bringing the matter to the EB.
August 30, 2006
The stats are horrific. Thirty-seven million Americans living in poverty, 300,000 more in 2005 than in 2004, joined the ranks of people in "severe poverty"--half the poverty rate. Eight million children without health insurance, and almost 47 million total without health insurance. In this "special place," as Fighting Bob called it, 550,000 of our neighbors have no health insurance while our median income fell by more than $2,200 in 2005.
Read and ask, "When will our politicians stop pandering to the wealthy with tax breaks, subsidies, and no-bid contracts and figure out we are, to quote our friend Jim Hightower, 'in a world of hurt'?"
How can our health care system survive with 44 million people depending on emergency rooms as their only haven? How can the Fransiscans justify closing the ER at Milwaukee's St. Michaels Hospital? Where do those 40,000 people who relied on that emergency room last year go this year?
What are we thnking about? Will we watch people die on the streets before we listen to Harry Truman's plea for national health care back in 1948? Meanwhile, the costs go through the roof and small employers are laying off people so those who remain can receive health care. Most Americans get health insurance from employers. If the economic downturn continues, millions of employees will be in trouble and will join the ranks of the uninsured.
So, wake up incumbents! FDR said, "If you are faced with a crisis, do something! If it doesn't work, try something else. But for God's sake do something!"
To Jim Doyle and Mark Green. Give us your best shot. Cut the bullfeathers about cute ideas to trim government and tell us how you will deal with our real economic problems. We'll be listening.
August 29, 2006
Time for dumb ideas
It is "dumb idea" time in the gubernatorial race. Just before Labor Day, when Wisconsin voters are puting away the campaign gear and starting to read stories about politics, consultants urge candidates to float some new ideas because the old ones haven't started any bonfires. They hope something will catch on to divert attention of the voters from real problems like the outrageous cost or prisons or high tuition or unemployment in Milwaukee. You get the drift.
Mark Green wins this week's contest. MJS reports he wants to replace the Commerce Dept. with, I'm not making this up, a "public-private" board of 12 people. Who would chair the board? Someone with lots of business experience? Nope. He would. (The only thing this professional politician has run to our knowledge is a lawn mower in his loopy TV commercial.)
His former pal in the Legislature, Scott Walker, wants to have a similar board run Milwaukee County. Were Scott and Mark drinking from the same bubbler or do both rely on the Bradley Foundation for ideas? You guessed it.
An idea for Mark. Since he has no experience in commerce, he might have WMC appoint all twelve of the board members. And, to save money, why not operate out of WMC's building? Hey, we're on to something!
August 27, 2006
Frank Rich's column in Sunday's NYT is a must-read. He tells of President Bush's latest news conference, when the president was asked, "'What Iraq had to do with the attack on the World Trade Center.' Mr. Bush testily responded, 'Nothing'."
Nothing? Nothing? As Rich points out, the world knows the White House connived to pound in the suggestion that Saddsam ordered the attacks on 9/11. Let me see. There were no WMDs; Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11; the mushroom shaped cloud was gas from the administration not a real threat.
Place yourself at the kitchen table with a family that lost a son or daughter and explain why we invaded Iraq. Think of the cost--$309 billion; think of the lives of 60,000 Iraqi civilians killed; focus on the death of 2,700 U.S. soldiers.
David Giffey's book, Long Shadows: Veterans Paths to Peace will be unveiled at Fighting Bob Fest on September 9. Perfect timing.
August 26, 2006
Could you bring a salad?
The MJS carried a story that Jim Doyle also met with executives of Dominion Resources from Virginia. Dominion was interested in purchasing the Kewauneae nuclear power plant. Predictaly, Doyle said the meeting was appropriate. "On February 10, 2004, two months after Doyle's meeting with the utility, Dominion officialas met with Susan Goodwin, Doyle's Chief of Staff and half an hour later Goodwin called PSC Chair Burnie Bridge."
Earlier in the story, Doyle emphasized the independence of the PSC. "I don't call the PSC and tell them how to decide cases. THe PSC makes independent adjudications."
As to the call from Goodwin to Bridge? Doyle explained, "They talked about what they should be doing in a cabinet retreat that we were planning." Well, now, if the PSC is independent and not subject to pressure from the governor, why would the Chair of the PSC, a former Deputy Attorney General when Doyle was AG, be planning a retreat with the Governor's Cabinet? "You can bring a salad..."
Bridge and Goodwin were unavailable for comment. Finishing up retreat plans perhaps.
August 25, 2006
Always enough for DOT
The story out of the home of the lobyists is that the state of Wisconsin must spend $698 million more on highways or 40 percent more per year. (For perspective, the editors of MJS were drooling over the proposed expenditure of $250,000 for housing for mentally ill people under the care of the county.)
Yesterday the lobbyists permitted a legislative committee to meet and discuss the heavy demands of the lobbyists for more spending. While they couldn't figure out how to pay for the increase, we caught a glimpse of the plot.
Here is the plot that will unfold after the election: First, the Republicans and business Democrats will agree to spend the money. Then they will raise gas taxes a little, double the cost of car registration, announce that privatization will save money and voila! Private donor corporate execs will get huge contracts. As the highway boys see it, Governor Green will sign off in a New York minute.
If you like the way they ran the Milwaukee Museum, wait until they get their hands on road repair!
Oops! MJS also reports Susan Goodwin, deputy governor, met with the Virginia utility that was trying to purchase the Kewaunee nuclear plant. Nothing wrong with that, says the PSC and the governor's office. Really?
August 24, 2006
Some very good news. David Giffey's book, Long Shadows. Veterans Paths to Peace, will be unveiled at Fighting Bob Fest. There will be a book signing and David will speak at the breakout devoted to peace. I'm thrilled that the timing worked out. Needless to say, the occupation of Iraq will be a major theme on September 9.
All the booths have been snapped up--more than 60 groups will be there to push their agendas. The presence of the groups adds flavor to Bob Fest. And The Nation will provide 1,000 free issues to be given out. Another reason to arrive early.
Want to help? Go to the site and volunteer.
August 23, 2006
Yesterday my blog was devoted to the paltry sum Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker was devoting to the scandal of "miserable and often dangerous living conditions that psychiatric patients, under the county's care, endure." Those words appear in today's MJS editorial. One would think the editors would start a crusade but alas, the editors of MJS praise, I'm not kidding, "An Ambitious Plan."
"Scott Walker is wisely proposing to put nearly $250,000 in next year's budget to enhance housing programs for those with chronic mental illness." Now there you have crusading journalism! Walker plans to outsource the planning to a "national expert" and join a national group, and MJS is full of praise for his ambitious plan. Egad!
Speaking of free rides, a new group called ThrowTheRascalsOut.org is calling on We The People and other debate sponsors to include "all three candidates for governor." In other words, give Nelson Eismsan a chance to be heard. Makes sense to me.
August 22, 2006
Don't open your shirt Scott
Because your heart might fall out. Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County Executive who has brought the county to the brink of bankruptcy, suggested selling the county's parks, closing swimming pools, and ruined the Milwaukee Museum, has a new idea. I am not making this up.
The MJS wrote about horrific living conditions for those with disabilities. Walker's bold idea? He would spend $250,000 for "permanent solutions." No, not $250K per person. That pittance is for the entire community.
How would he spend the money? Again, I'm not making this up. It would be $50K to hire a national expert to develop a master plan. And $25K to join a group of agencies called "Continuum of Care"; and the rest to "enhance the availability of permanent housing for people with mental illness."
Don't you wonder what world he lives in? Wisconsin has plenty of expertise in the housing issue; we know how to take care of people with disabilities. Scott Walker makes a joke out of deplorable living conditions. And MJS? Meg Kissinger treated this as news. Whoa Nelly! Maybe next year he could dedicate fifty bucks to the homeless so MJS could say he cares about the homeless. C'mon!
August 21, 2006
Some good news
Ever get tired of all the bad news? Of course you do. Oil approaches $72 per barrel because of unrest in Nigeria, unrest between U.S. and Iran, obscene profits for oil companies, oil leak in Prudoe Bay. If those stories don't depress you, read on--Europeans may decline role in Lebanon; civil war in Iraq; Joe Lieberman attacks Rumsfeld.
So, when something good happens, how about a smile? I refer to Tiger Woods. I'm a golfer, so I occasionally watch golf on TV. This year, thanks to a Christmas gift from our daughter, we drove to Medinah and saw part of the PGA. It was fun. But the real thrill was on Sunday watching the best golfer in history, methodically and with incredible skill, win the tournament by five shots. It was Michael Jordon, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Ben Hogan. He is the best and he does it with grace and style. A moment to savor.
And while savoring a moment, I smiled as our regular GuestBlogger Bill Kraus wrote about the once "honorable profession" of lobbying. "Now they have become the bagmen in a corrupt system." Well said my friend. Well said. Words to inspire us at Bob Fest to energize the People's Legislature. See you in Baraboo.
August 20, 2006
We The People (WTP)
Ah, elections are coming so it is time for stilted "debates" under the name of We The People. Who are "we" and how will "we" be selected to "participate"? Who selects the topics not to mention the candidates? Be quiet. Please. The show is about to begin.
The audience will be selected by the Wisconsin State Journal if it is run this year as in the past. Only the Democratic and Republican candidates will be permitted in studio. Why? Good question. And the filtered questions won't touch on issues like why a majority of adult African American men in Milwaukee are unemployed and what to do about it. Or why more than 60 percent of the inmates in supermax are people of color but none of the guards or staff are. They won't be asked about our exploding prison population, our lack of rehabilitation programs, or the so-called Truth in Sentencing that is bankrupting the state.
No, they will focus on taxes, death penalty, abortion, gays, guns, and perhaps stem cell research and, did I mention taxes? WTP calls the non-economic issues "quality of life" issues. Like what? The closing of emergency rooms by Milwaukee hospitals? Lack of adequate funding for special education?
A suggestion. The People's Legislature and the League of Women Voters should host a wide-open series of debates.
P.S. Don't expect similar WTP "debates" between Herb Kohl and the Green candidate for Senate. Why not? Good question.
August 19, 2006
Say it ain't so, Joe!
Joe Lieberman seems happy now. He can admit that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich are his soulmates after all. No more hanging around with progressives like Tom Harkin, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy or up and coming Barak Obama. No siree! Now that the news from Connecticut is that the GOP has said "farewell chump" to the Republican candidate for Senate, Alan Schlesinger, and have rushed to support Joe Lieberman, the screen has been pulled back and we see the real Joe Lieberman. Ah, the Wizzard of "Wink and Nod" for big business. Endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and a defender of oil, gas and insurance lobbies, he still claims to be a Democrat! Yikes!
You know the guy. Ran with Al Gore while keeping his name on the ballot for re-election to the Senate; the guy who couldn't wait to congratulate Bush for winning; the guy Bush kissed on the cheek with both hands on his ears after the State of the Nation speech. Yup. That one.
While disagreeing with Joe Lieberman for years, I thought he had more pride than to accept Newt Gingrich's endorsement. Now he is consorting with Rove and McCain, while claiming he will oppose Lamont "for my party and our country." (Imagine if Falk or Barrett had run as an independent after losing the primary to Jim Doyle. It would be Governor McCallum today.)
I'm reminded of John Connally's decision to switch to the Republican party just as Watergate was picking up steam. One said, "This is the first recorded case of a rat jumping on a sinking ship." One can only hope that Democrats, should Lieberman win, pull up the welcome mat and tell him to caucus with his like-minded colleagues. Will they? Sadly, I doubt it.
August 18, 2006
Reading the paper and listening to Amy Goodman and Joy Cardin could make a pessimist out of an Irish optimist. "Brighter '06 Deficit Outlook But Long Term Looks Grim." If Congress extends the tax break for the rich, it would cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years."
All that to say, the Bush administration is the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history. Who pays? You know--working people whose wages are not keeping up and whose services are reduced. While Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans get in a lather over property taxes, WMC members are chuckling.
Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head (or the donkey on the other end): "Democrats have been afraid to make an issue of inequality for fear that they might be accused of practicing class warfare." And, of course, they might offend wealthy contibutors.
I recall an early debate with potential Senate candidates when Bill Proxmire retired. I said, "Raise the progressive income tax," and one of my Democratic colleagues immediately accused me of "class warfare." I was more than a little startled. I wonder what my accuser that night would say about Bill Moyers, who said, "The rich declared class war in 1984 and they have won."
As utility rates escalate, gas and heating fuel increase, the minimum wage remains at $10,400 a year, and almost 50 million of us do not have health care, pessimism is on the rise. Call me a class warrior if you must.
August 17, 2006
As adults, we know there are consequences that flow from our actions. As we keep fingers crossed that the cease fire will hold, problems abound from the bombing of Lebanon. An oil spill into the sea of 15,000 tons of oil is an ecological disaster. Thousands of people returning to thier homes find rubble. And Hezbollah says they will rebuild Lebanon with money from Iran and give money directly to the people. In other words, side-stepping the government of Lebanon. This is a nightmare unfolding in front of our eyes.
Meanwhile, key volunteers met last night to work on final prep for Fighting Bob Fest. It is amazing to see these good people with creative energy and hard work producing the biggest progressive meeting in the country. Imagine what they could do with money! Somehow, I think, it is better this way. The consequences of their dedication and hard work will be all positive. And we applaud them.
August 15, 2006
24 days to go
As summer drifts by, Fighting Bob Fest number 5 is now just 24 days away. This year you get a bonus--Friday night, Barrymore Theater in Madison, a great panel will "hold the media accountable." Then on Saturday the fun begins at 8:30 in the morning.
With Tammy Baldwin, Tom Harkin, Bert Grover, Jim Hightower, Stan Gruszynski--get ready to get involved. As Iraq continues to disintegrate, we will remind all attendees of the cost of this tragic mistake. This year the call to bring our troops home should shake the rafters.
We still need volunteers so don't hold back. Let us know if you can help make this Fest the best yet.
August 14, 2006
Imagine the joy in Lebanon and nothern Israel among common folks, soldiers, nurses, doctors and children.
One must ask the question, "OK, now that the infrastructure of Lebanon has been destroyed, 1,000 people killed, 500,000 people homeless, what was that all about?"
Is war the answer? Is bombing with cluster bombs or smart bombs a solution? Can't we figure out how to live in peace?
Iraq is now back in focus. Bob Herbert descibes the path we are on in the New York Times as "demolition derby policies." And Paul Krugman says today, "The Bush administration saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved but as a political opportunity to be exploited." Strong words but they ring true. Now 2,589 confirmed killed in action--their families deserve answers. (Yesterday I incorrectly wrote that the toll of our soldiers was 2,678. I over-stated.)
Russ Feingold is speaking out to bring our troops home now. So is Ned Lamont, Lieberman/Rove slayer in Connecticut who, by the way, turned in an impressive performance on "Face the Nation."
The tide is turning. When the headline is "57 killed in Baghdad by bombs" it is increasingly difficult for Democrats in the Congress to remain silent.
August 13, 2006
Yesterday I posed the question: "Incompetent or crooks or both?" Well, the following from NYT answers the question: "The latest allegations come after years of relentless speculation about where billions of dollars in reconstruction and oil money has gone."
The Minister of Electricity is unavailable: "He left the country after he learned that he was being investigated." Think he might have some Swiss bank accounts?
The story continues. There is an investigation over the purchase of $300 million of "defective and outdated helicopters, machine guns and personnel carriers by the defense ministry." Think about that! How many soldiers died because of this corruption?
Yesterday, Scott Simon interviewed a general who resigned so he could comment on the Iraq invasion and occupation. He called on Rumsfeld and "his inner circle to resign." They won't, so they should be fired. No strategic planning, no-bid contracts, billions of dollars missing, 2,678 dead soldiers, and uncontrolled violence. As the general said, "It doesn't matter if you call it civil war. Things are out of control."
And if Hillary had attended the 8th CD Democratic picnic yesterday she would know that Democrats want our troops home now.
August 12, 2006
Incompetent or crooks? (Both?)
The U.N. hired Ernst & Young to audit the financial records of Iraq. The results, in a minor story in the NYT, conclude no one knows how much oil was exported, the price of the oil, or why billions of dollars are missing. Well, someone knows but not Ernst & Young.
The occupier's view? "The (American) embassy is working to support the government of Iraq's continuing efforts to strengthen its financial institutions and controls." The embassy said that in writing, presumably to avoid media questions. Check out this quote: "Other instances of accounting errors involving hundreds of millions of dollars appeared to be common."
Do you remember when Wolfy and Rummy assured us this invasion and occupation would be paid for, not by us, but by the sale of Iraqi oil? As of today, we have spent $306.2 billion on Iraq and most accounts say the country is worse off today than it was under Saddam.
And, yes, 2,587 American soldiers have lost their lives. For what? So our government could misplace billions of dollars? This makes FEMA seem almost competent. Yikes!
When your school district cuts funding this year for Special Ed or the arts, think about the wasted funds in Iraq. They don't know where the money went? C'mon!
August 11, 2006
The Best and The Brightest
How do you know our corrupt political system is keeping many of the best and brightest from seeking office? Check out the two Republicans seeking to become the people's lawyer, J.B. Van Hollen and Paul Bucher. (Yes, the one who blew the Chmura case.)
On air from State Fair Park, with Bradley Foundation's favorite host Charlie Sykes, Van Hollen said, "you suck" to Bucher, who reminds one of a terrier puppy. Well, our terrier wasn't going to take that. No siree. He said, and I'm not making this up, "I don't suck. I resent that." Result? They went behind the horse barn and boxed for an hour. Sykes held both jackets.
Just kidding about the last part. Van Hollen apologized for "lowering myself to his level." Now, there is a sincere apology! (And, I'm not making up that quote. See the MJS article.)
Neither candidate is expected to attend Fighting Bob Fest next month.
August 10, 2006
Nader on Lieberman
Ralph Nader was interviewed about Joe Lieberman, by, who else, Amy Goodman. He urged Lamont to broaden his attack on the "independent" candidate. (Or as a friend calls him, "Loserman.")
Turns out Joe received the highest ranking from the Chamber of Commerce and even its endorsement. Odd for a Democrat. Why? Well, Lieberman fronts for the insurance industry, oil and gas folks, and the utilities. He supported NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO. You name the issue. If it was a priority for big business, Joe was on board.
More Bob Fest news soon. A new addition to the "Hold them accountable" menu. Keep reading.
See you in Baraboo in a month. There will be plenty to talk about.
August 9, 2006
What about me!
I've never been comfortable with Joe Lieberman and last night it hit me. He said, "For the sake of our state, our country, and my party, I cannot and will not let the results stand."
Recall the year 2000 when Al Gore foolishly tapped him to run as his vice-president? Well it was re-election year for the Senator and he chose to run for both positions. That decision did not show much confidence in Al Gore but did show the Joe Lieberman we saw last night. "It is all about me!" He wasn't really saying he will challenge Lamont for state, country and party. He will challenge his party's choice for Joe Lieberman's ego. Period.
But let's celebrate. The DLC will scramble now. And it will be entertaining to watch Hillary bob and weave. Visualize the New Hampshire primary between Russ Feingold, with a clear position on Iraq, and Hillary Clinton with a clintonian position(s). Feingold wins and Iowa is next. Hello Tom Harkin.
Congratulations to Ned Lamont.
I suspect we will have a moment or two to cheer at Fighting Bob Fest in a month.
August 8, 2006
What should we believe?
The most recent Harris poll tells us that 50 percent of Americans believe Saddam had WMDs. Whoa Nelly! Some 2,600 soldiers killed, somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths later, half of us believe Iraq had WMDs? Yikes! Can't discount talk radio, Fox News and CNN. Pretty scary.
Speaking of believing, does anyone believe the president of BP-Amoco, Bob Malone, when he says the company just found out its pipeline lost 200,000 gallons of oil? That they just learned that the pipeline is corroded? Unless he has FEMA keeping an eye on the pipeline, I suspect some foul play that translates into $4 per gallon and billions more profit for BP. But Malone did issue a public apology. How about lowering prices as his penance?
Finally, the future of the Democratic Party may well be decided today in Connecticut and Georgia. If Ned Lamont defeats Joe Lieberman, we will be on the way to a plan to end the occupation. And if Cynthia McKinney wins her election despite Republican efforts to influence the Democratic primary, she will become a real spokesperson for change.
Big day. Keep your fingers crossed!
Don't forget to mark your calendar--September 9, Fighting Bob Fest.
August 7, 2006
Hillary Clinton has been a supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq since day one. She has opposed Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin and other brave souls who have tried to set a timetable, adopt a plan, do something for heaven's sake.
But last week the media told us she was now a war crtic. She made this statement to Rummy: "I just don't understand why we can't get new leadership that would give us a fighting chance to turn the situation around." And that qualifies her as a critic?
I recall Hillary sitting with Republican senators praising the military training of Iraqi soldiers and urging us to be patient. Now that our occupation has gone from "big mistake" to "incredible tragedy and civil war" Senator Clinton wants to "turn things around" with new leadership. How about a new policy? How about joining those calling for withdrawal?
About two years late, Senator. Maureen Dowd hit the nail on the head when she wrote, "Hillary wants to avoid Joe Lieberman's fate by arguing how the administration went about the war..." not that it was a mistake from the get-go. Bob Herbert said it best in today's NYT: "Slick Willie has morphed intgo Slick Hilly, as the carnival of death in Iraq goes on."
Let us hope the people of Connecticut nominate Ned Lamont, and let us hope Hillary catches up with the American people. Join us, Hillary, in demanding that our troops come home. Now!
August 6, 2006
Another addiction case
The headline in Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal:
"35 ARE CAUGHT Up IN DRUG-RING CASE."
Yesterday, I blogged on the startling fact that lobbyists were paid $47 million during the current Legislative session. That is $356,000 and change for each of the 132 members of the Lobbyist's Legislature.
I long for the day when the headline is: "132 ARE CAUGHT UP IN VOTE-BUYING CASE." If you think groups paid $47 million to "educate" legislators, stop reading now! (Bill Broydrick explained: "We ensure that key groups are heard. You want to avoid the tyranny of the majority." He said that.)
You might think the lobbyists would hang their heads, but no, they eat in Madison's finest restaurants, drive nice cars, wear beautiful suits, have the latest in gadgetry to keep track of the "Madison 132."
One, Broydrick, is angry with the Ethics Board. Broydrick says his firm was listed as number 2 with $2.11 million in fees, but he says he is really number one! No kidding. He claims the Ethics Board listed Capitol Consultants as number one but Capitol is, according to Broydrick, really two distinct firms that share office space. (I'm not making this up. It appeared in Saturday's MJS.)
You probably won't meet Bill "I'm # 1" Broydrick, but you will meet his staff if a developer is trying to bambozzle a local community into allowing a 60-100 million gallon ethanol plant to be built in your community. Broydrick works with one of Wisconsin's largest law firms, those who finance these projects, the railroad and local officials. Their most recent effort is in Arena. No need to educate residents; no need for environmental impact studies; no need for a referendum; no need to look at alternative sites or the predictible increase in asthma; no study of the economic impact on home values; no reason to follow the Arena growth plan; no charge to the developer for road repair. And no discussion by the Town Board. I guess they are worried about the "tyranny of the majority."
The lobbying and law firms assure the community there is nothing to worry about and no reason to force the developer to pay for independent studies. Odd, isn't it? Firms that justify their existence on educating decison-makers exclude the public in the process of deciding what is good for them.
If you like what they do in Madison, you will love what they are doing to our local communities.
August 5, 2006
Room at the table?
Okay, I didn't do a blog yesterday. Joy Cardin had Bill Kraus and me on "Week in Review." What a pleasure. Bill, as you know, does a weekly Guest Blog on FightingBob.com and is truly the most civilized soul in Wisconsin politics. It was fun to discuss issues rather than score points.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Ethics Board announced that 750 entities paid $47 million to lobbyists. And that is just what is reported. I'd love to know the real figure, wouldn't you? (Wonder why we call it the Lobbyist's Legislature? At Bob Fest Mike McCabe and Nino Amato will lead a break-out session of the People's Legislature on action to clean up Wisconsin.)
Think about it. There are 33 Senators and 99 Assemblypersons. So $47 million for the group equals $356,000 per legislator! That would suggest that money plays an important role. Or am I too cynical?
August 3, 2006
Twenty-year-old Ryan Jopek died in Iraq this week. The second youngster from Merrill, Wisconsin and the 59th soldier from Wisconsin to die in this outrageous adventure.
Ryan was a basketball player who was planning to attend college in the fall. Just a few weeks and one roadside bomb away from getting started in life.
Twenty years old! I paused to look back to when I was Ryan's age. Senior at UW-Madison, excited about JFK's presidency, jumping into the Civil Rights movement, lots of dreams. The man who stole Ryan Jopek's dreams, George Bush, won't be coming for the funeral. He is coming to Wisconsin soon but not to visit the family. He will try to boost John Gard's candidacy.
The human cost of this invasion/occupation is intolerable. 100 Iraqi deaths every week, our soldiers injured for life, physically and emotionally, number in the thousands and we passed another milepost. The war has cost us over $300 billion!
Three hundred billion dollars would have provided 14.6 million four-year scholarships to public universities. Ryan Jopek should be on his way to the UW on one of those scholarships but his life is over. Think about this tragedy. 20 years old.
At Fighting Bob Fest on September 9, we will honor Ryan and all those who have suffered in this tragic waste of human beings. We must stop this occupation and bring our troops home.
August 2, 2006
Why we don't run
The CapTimes carried a sad story written by David Callender. The Falk campaign reported an expenditure of $16,500 to an out-of-state firm specializing in negative research on those in office or seeking public office. C'mon. Do we need outside firms to dig up dirt on our opponents? This is a small state and an even smaller political circle. We know each other's weakneses. What issue in the Attorney General's race would a negative research firm uncover?
Did someone utter a four-letter word? Does she go to church and if so, does she stay for the sermon? Did he make a contribution to Ralph Nader? Or speak at a group labeled subversive? Yikes! Let's debate issues. Let's talk about your vision of the future.
Good people often choose not to seek office for this very reason. We all have things in our background we prefer to keep out of the media. Let's ask our candidates to fight the evil we know about. It's called domestic surveillance. We don't want Alberto Gonzalez digging up private emails and listening to our phone calls. Well, same goes for private sector firms whose goal is to tarnish reputations.
Who needs this nonsense?
(Disclosure. I have endorsed Peg Lautenschlager but if she hires a negative research firm, I won't hesitate to comment. We need issue-oriented campaigns. Don't believe me? Ask Jim Moody or Joe Checota.)
August 1, 2006
Tax havens are heaven!
On August 17, 2003, I wrote about the highly partisan but officialy "non-partisan" Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. WTA is noted for issuing reports on how high Wisconsin taxes are but rarely, if ever, points out that our corporate taxes are among the lowest in the country.
Today WTA has an opportunity to demonstrate just how concerned they are about legitimate taxpayers carrying such a heavy load. The NYT reports on the 400 page study conducted by our friend from Michigan, Senator Carl Levin, exposing how offshore accounts are used to cheat the people of America.
The estimate is that these tax cheats cost us $70 billion a year! Whoa Nelly! (My exclamation not Senator Levin's.) That is about seven cents of every dollar you and I pay in taxes. One called before the Senate Committee owns the New York Jets. Two others, the Wyly brothers, (no relation to the Coyote cartoon)own most of Texas and Arizona or so it seems. Their defense? "We relied on our accountants and lawyers." Yah, sure Wyly. Best line in the story, from an advisor, "Ain't capitalism great!" (It was not a question.) He went on, "I just hope the IRS does not select his return for an audit."
Along those lines, President Bush is supposedly cutting the IRS legal staff. Which ones? Those who look for fraudulent tax avoidance schemes. Oh, and the Center for Public Integrity, a truly non-partisan group, reports that Sam and Charles Wyly were the ninth-largest contributors to President Bush in 2000. (I checked my contributor list for 1998 and no $100 contributions came from the Wyle boys.)
So, WTA--have at it. Check out Wisconsin taxpayers using offshore accounts. Ask Accenture if they do. Let's get beyond moaning about our tax "burden" and go for the gold!