January 31, 2007
State of State
Another State of the State speech that had "status quo" written all over it. All's well they do tell. Peace, harmony, health care, bipartisanship, and ethics reform. Everything good will come, eventually. "What's the rush?"
Time to settle in, open a beer and watch "da Bears" win the Super Bowl.
Doyle gave a good speech. He obviously cares about children, health care, and the environment. Good for starters. Now, as they say, its "Show Time!" Will our gaze be fixed on so-called "phony issue ads?" Or will Wisconsin take on a winable fight for campaign finance reform? (I had a little trouble defining "phony issue ads." And who is responsible for them? It will be interesting to read the proposed legislation. If the governor is serious this will be a battle royal. If it is "Hey! Look over there" so you won't focus on public financing, the real reform, then ho-hum.)
No mention of our exploding prison population; alternatives to incarceration; or the proportion of our inmates who are of color in a state with a small African American population. Racial divide seems to have become the third rail in Wisconsin.
No hint of a beefed up Public Service Commission devoted to long-range planning. No comment on how our utility rates have gone from the basement to the penthouse in the past ten years. No comment on protecting the Great Lakes.
It was a decent start. Not an inspiring "follow me" speech, but no clinkers either. Forward!
January 30, 2007
How can members of Congress look in the mirror? They get regular pay raises, they have the best health care avaliable, and their pension program should make us all slightly angry. Why do we have career politicians? Where else would these folks get $160,000 per year plus all the perks?
But what about those at the other end of the scale? The minimum wage worker who works full time but cannot afford health care, a pension, or a movie on Saturday night. The Senate is taking up the minimum wage for the first time in decades. The White House, peopled with "compassionate conservatives", says, "Not so fast Teddy." If you want an increase in the minimum wage, give business another tax break! C'mon! the minimum wage increase won't hurt any one so why another tax break?
The WSJ printed an interesting chart showing that a student today must work more than four times as many hours at the minimum wage today to pay for tuition as he or she did in 1970. The student must work 1,307 hours today compared to 297 hours in 1970.
When you listen to the State of the State message tonight, listen for a reduction of tuition. No student can work 1,307 hours and concentrate on calculus.
Time for Wisconsin to step up on behalf of students and working families. And, how about incrceasing our minimum wage every year by the cost of living increase?
January 29, 2007
I'm not kidding!
"I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it." So sayeth Hillary Clinton on the war. Let me see. There would not have been a vote but I would have voted against it. Whoa Nelly! What the hell does that mean?
She went on in Iowa to dodge the question of her vote for the war, and unlike John Edwards and Chuck Hagel, she would not tell us what she would have done with the new informaation. Her husband made Mulligans famous but she said "You don't get do-overs in life." Really? How sad. I thought Easter came every year.
January 28, 2007
Tens of thousands
The headline in some papers carried the news that "tens of thousands" of anti-occupation people demonstrated in Washington. The header could have been, "tens of thousands, representing millions of others, are way ahead of Hillary, McCain, and most other presidential wannabes." The cry is to stop playing politics and to get our troops home now!
For my money, no group defined the desire to bring the troops home better than 80-85 good people who braved zero degree wind-chill in Richland Center yesterday. Their vigil gave voice to those young people who have given their lives. As each name and age of Wisconsin's fallen was read aloud, more than a few tears were shed.
They want our troops home now. Why? They know the war is over, that the surge is a fraud, that we cannot impose our will on those engaged in a civil war. They are practical people. They are patriots. They know what is happening and they want action not bull-roar.
They vigorously oppose any notion of a war with Iran. They are angry that Members of Congress, including Ron Kind, Herb Kohl, and especially, Senator Clinton, are hugging the middle stripe in the road instead of hugging these young children sent to face possible death or permanent injury while our "leaders" play politics.
No amount of dancing around the issue will satisfy the folks in Richland Center. This fiasco must stop. And they are looking for leadership.
January 27, 2007
Day of protest
I am off to Richland Center for a rally calling for an end to the occupation. While we are rallying in Wisconsin, tens of thousands will be ignored in Washington, D.C. I say "ignored" because the incumbents are afraid to show up. Yikes! We send 18-year-old children off to face the enemy and officials are afraid to face us?
Call, email, write, holler--this madness must stop.
January 26, 2007
Brain injury a plus!
An exciting report in NYT today. A brain injury halts smoking addiction. An injury to the brain, near the ear, makes the smoking addict forget the urge to smoke.
Imagine where this could lead. Before we nominate a candidate for president, ping! A blow above the ear and he forgets war! A generation of peace follows; we have money for schools, housing and health care. (Not to mention the potential cure for all sorts of addictions.)
Let's begin with the president. Ping--he forgets the rush he felt with "shock and awe." Before he bombs Iran, ping! And he is back on the ranch.
Seriously folks, what do we do to stop this madness?
As we watch the debacle in Iraq, Cheney appears desperate to take our gaze off that war by starting another. We must yell, write, march to stop what our Pakistani ally says would be a catastrophic mistake.
Maybe impeachment is the only course. Your thoughts please.
January 24, 2007
I'm out of state and missed most of the performance--oops!--I meant the State of the Union speech. (It is just a rumor, but I heard that Ringling Brothers took charge of seating, the applause meter and speech.)
I did catch Webb and he was superb. Bush seems to be singing the anti-war anthem with modification--"All I am saying, is give war a chance."
Meanwhile, can you imagine I. Lewis Libby--rhymes with G. Gordon Liddy--thinks he is a scapegoat for Karl Rove. Say it ain't so, Karl! C'mon! Don't shoot your wounded--what are you? A Democrat?
To quote Hightower, "Why are we in this hand-basket and where are we going?"
January 23, 2007
How about Social Security?
With the war effort falling into chaos, the president's advisors are urging him to focus on domestic policy tonight. Now there's a surprise! How about dusting off his private investment idea for social aecurity; that could make us focus on our country rather than Iraq.
I'm sure you will be watching tonight and will count the times people jump up and applaud. High drama. What if they all sit on their hands? Could be fun.
January 22, 2007
The president told USA Today he is not worried about his legacy. Good thing.
January 21, 2007
The money race
It is true for those seeking the nomination for governor, senator or president. It is not so much what's in your head as it is how much you have in your bank account. Hillary Clinton is now a candidate. (There is a surprise!) Her entry was moved up because she feared getting behind in the money race with Obama. Who cares about Iraq and Afghanistan? The command is, "go get the money."
Hillary, the most cynical one of all the candidates, knows what she has to say to get big money on her side. Free trade, not mushy fair trade; Iraq is a mistake, but let's wait and see; health insurance not single-payer health coverage as a birthright of every American. In other words, run as Bill governed. Hug the yellow stripe in the middle of the road even if the road turns right.
This country has become a plutocracy not a democracy. Money selects our nominees, controls the platform of both parties, decides most elections. Obama may be another Bobby Kennedy, but if the money boys don't like him...
Meanwhile, the NYT reports that Pakistan may be helping the Taliban retake Afghanistan. Soon Bush will send more troops to "the good war." And 20 of our soldiers died over the past 48 hours in "the bad war." There is an urgent need for leadership. Put down the tin cup for now and be about the business of geting our troops home now.
January 20, 2007
Ethics reform is floundering because Speaker Huebsch is trying to cripple the proposed law. He insists that if any provision is found to be unconstitutional the entire bill collapses. And he and Mark Gundrum insist on an unconstitutional provision to give special "rights" to incumbents.
The spokesman for the governor said, "We're just letting the process take its course." Like letting kids go free in a candy store, the governor won't police the store.
The provision condemned by Mike McCann and Brian Blanchard would permit the incumbents to be tried in their home county instead of Madison. No other criminal defendants have that option--and that, according to Blanchard, may make the bill unconstitutional. (You don't suppose these incumbents want a friendly prosecutor do you? Nah! Too cynical.)
This turkey dance, cloaked in cries of "bipartisanship," is becoming a farce. While bundling of contributions continues and outside groups frame our elections, the bi-partisans argue over an 85-page bill they are trying to doom from the start.
Time for the governnor to jump into the battle.
January 19, 2007
When you read Craig Gilbert's article in MJS today, you will ask, "How did this happen?" Steve Kagen has taken on the FDA, reporters in his district, the White House and, sadly, the truth. Kagen won the Democratic primary in the race to replace Mark Green. He ran against two Democrats who ran the old-fashioned way with small contributions, parades, hand-shaking. Kagen won the new-fashioned way--he bought it with $2.5 million of his family money.
Kagen told a story that doesn't sound right. He says he stopped Karl Rove from leaving the White House men's room. "You recognize me? My name's Dr. Millionaire and I kicked your ass." If it happened, and that is unlikely, he should apologize. If he didn't have that confrontation, he should enjoy his first and last term in Congress. Meanwhile, the Republicans are thanking their lucky stars. Nancy Nussbaum or Jamie Wahl would not have done anything so stupid. Lesson? Well, just because you have money and call yourself a Democrat, doesn't mean you are qualified for office.
We need public financing. Congressional seats should not be for sale. Give me an old-fashioned candidate not Dr. Millionaire.
Incumbent protection Both E. Michael McCann and Brian Blanchard, the two who cleaned house in the Lobbyist's Legislature, have spoken out against special treatment of incumbent members of the Legislature under the draft ethics bill.
Time for real reform. Why not ask Blanchard and McCann to submit a draft? Too bold? Makes sense to me.
January 18, 2007
Ethics can wait
It looks like some wrangling between the far right Republicans and the way out Republicans might kill ethics reform for now. The "way outs" are working to put in provisions that might be unconstitutional so the entire law would collapse. The "far rights" want to make sure the new entity is so cumbersome that it will be gathering dust on the shelf. The bipartisan incumbents want to protect incumbents. (No one else will understand the new system.)
The governor's office seems to be enjoying the show. "Hey, we called a Special Session, didn't we?" In other words no need for Elliot Spitzer-style leadership: let them flounder.
But don't get excited. Ethics reform, even if it passes, remains in a sea of corruption. (It is finger in the New Orleans dike as Katrina moved ashore.) This bill won't sweep the Capitol clean. No need to fear, the lobbyists will be unaffected. The big fish, public funding, or declairing that no entity doing business with the state can make campaign contributions won't be included. Those provisions are SUBSTANCE. The bill deals with PROCESS. Incumbents love process because it sounds like reform but it isn't. Okay, it is a little reform--maybe better than nothing. Maybe.
News heard on Jean Ferraca's WPR program: The Army is recruiting abroad. "Join the U.S. Army and you will earn citizenship." I am not kidding. Whoa Nelly!
January 17, 2007
The Special Session of the Lobbyist's Legislature, called to take up ethics reform, started letting the public in on the action yesterday. (For the best analysis of the draft bill, see Mike McCabe's testimony on behalf of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.)
The bill is not perfect, but most reformers think it is a step forward. When Mark Pocan says it is the best we are going to get, it probably is--at least in the Assembly. Should be interesting to watch the Senate. The 800-pound boulder is ignored however. Without publicly financed campaigns, this bill is almost irrelevant. But, we must take what we can get.
The word of the day? "Bi-partisan." The words not used? "open government." It seems like an impossible task for the Legislature to draft in public.
Meanwhile, things in Iraq are getting worse. The U.N. says 34,452 civilians were killed last year. Ten times the number the U.S. admits. And 70 students killed yesterday and four more U.S. soldiers; 470,000 abandoned their homes since February; 12,000 Iraqi security forces died in 2006. And our debt is out of site.
The president, appearing on public TV, appeared almost pleased with his handling of the war, and Mr. Cheney says there has been "tremendous progress in Iraq." Yah, sure.
Things are out of hand. Time to leave.
January 16, 2007
Condi is in Egypt. She is not calling for elections because (I'm not making this up) the Bush administration now says "stability trumps democracy" in the new board game designed by Dick Cheney. Don't believe me? Read today's NYT. So, let me see. It was not WMDs, it was not Saddam's involvement with 9-11, it was not a missile delivery system and it was not our desire to spread democracy. What was it? Or am I impertenent?
If Saddam were still alive, would Condi favor him to lead the new government? We worked very well with him years ago, Iraq was stable under him, he was not a religious extremist...
Jimmy Breslin wrote The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight several years ago. Now the title for this administration should be The Gang That Couldn't Hang Straight. My God, how could they have done worse? Decapitated? C'mon. Ah, but no taunting. Give them some credit.
A quote from Move On: "Escalation is just a word for more people dying. More Americans, more Iraqis, and they're going to be innocent people."
January 15, 2007
Today we should pause and think about the many lessons taught by MLK Jr. The Civil Rights battle rushes to mind but recall his call for an end to the Vietnam war and his last march--for economic justice. Instead of carrying on his fight for justice, our University System president is forced, by reactionary legislators, to justify why our state university should welcome diversity.
We learned from WPR today that minority youth in Wisconsin are three times more likely to be sent to adult prisons than the national average. Ten times more likely to be incarcerated than white youth.
Were King alive today, he would visit our prisons and
conclude that something is seriously wrong. Given the relatively small minority population, why is it that so many prisoners are minorities? And why is the staff of the institutions almost exclusively white?
Yes, we should pause and then re-dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of social and economic justice. To have a chance of success, military spending must be re-directed. We need education, housing, jobs, health care, living wages, and a sound Social Security system. Then King's dream will have a chance.
January 14, 2007
It ain't enough that this adminstration detains people, places them in prison, and denies the protections of habeas corpus. That is just the beginning. Now (I'm not making up his title, honestly) "assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs" Charles D. Stimson is mad as hell. He lashed out at corporate law firms that represent the detainees.
Get this. He doesn't care if ACLU and other nutty groups go to Gitmo, but he hates it when big corporate firms do: "Corporate C.E.O.'s seeing this list should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists."
Why say more? And today we learn the Pentagon and CIA are looking at corporate books. You don't suppose those CEOs who permit their law firms to represent the terrorists are targeted do you? Nah. That would be wrong.
January 13, 2007
Condi Rice, faced by a tough Barbara Boxer who pointed out that the Iraqi "sacrifice" would not be borne by Boxer's kids (too old) or grandchildren (too young) and who asked the secretary, "Who pays the price?" Good question, as members of Congress and the adminisrtation enjoy tax breaks, health care, nice pensions, good wages, free travel and their kids don't volunteer for duty in Iraq. Yes, when the president calls for sacrifice the Bush twins are safe. I know, I know, two or three sons of congressmen are in Iraq, but you know the truth. Michael Moore made the point in font size 20.
Rice's pathetic response was to plead faux innocence, "Gee, I thought single women had come further than that." You can do better, Condi. Just admit that this is the first war where the wealthy got tax breaks.
Like the draft? Charlie Rangel is making sense.
Oh no! Congressman Steve Kagan, who beat John Gard, has a problem. He has been told by the FDA to stop selling homemade anti-allergy shots at his clinics. (Kagan, as reported by AP, spent $2.5 million of his own money to win the primary and general election.) We look forward to the response from the Congressman. Thus far, "a spokesman for Kagen declined to elaborate on a statement issued by Kagan" that said his clinics "compound allergen injections for patients."
The question is whether such compounds should first receive FDA approval. Apparently, the FDA thinks they should.
January 12, 2007
Do something! Please.
Watching our president's speech Wednesday was painful. No emotion, no enthusiasm, he seemed to be going through the motions and nothing more. But someone is writing the script and there is evidence to support the notion that that "someone" is determined to prolong and enlarge this conflict.
That "someone" ordered the bombing of Somalia; embeded CIA and counter-insurgency troops into the Ethiopian army. That "someone" ordered a raid of an Iranian consulate in Northern Iraq and the kidnapping of Iranians working there. (Remember how we reacted when our people were taken into custody by the revolutionary guards in Iran? Well?)
"Someone" put words into the Teleprompter for Bush to read, carefully repudiating the Baker-Hamilton call for diplomacy with Syria and Iran, by threatening both countries Wednesday night.
Seventy percent in one poll and 61 percent in another oppose the "surge." How does the president respond? By provoking Iran, apparently in the hope Iran will respond and give us an excuse to bomb the hell out of them.
Here is why I am scared. Plenty has been written to suggest he is planning a nuclear attack on Iran. Yikes! If Paul Revere rode all night warning that the British were coming, leaders in the Senate must assume the worst, jump on a horse, grab a lantern and ride through Washington screaming, "The President is nuts!" Or, "He is not in control." I think a coup has occured and the warnings are all over the place starting in the Pentagon. Those who oppose the "someone" are fired. "Someone" is so afraid that a Democratic Congress will find the truth about the Iraq fiasco, he is willing to use nuclear weapons.
This is no time for caution, Congress. Act now!
January 11, 2007
Course evaluation time
Professors face student evaluations after each course taught. Were we grading the speech last night, our president would not be pleased with his grade. It was so bad I almost felt sorry for him. My mind floated a bit and I thought he might just look into the camera and say, "This is not going to work but don't blame me! Cheney made me do it!"
But my fantasy was not realized. Instead, in the face of plumetting poll numbers, a Republican revolt in the Senate, and awful news from Iraq, he threatened Iran and Syria. (The bully leaving after a thrashing on the playground yelling, "I'll be back and I will beat you to a pulp.")
I cannot recall a moment when there was such overwhelming opposition to a foreign policy move. Not even Vietnam at the end. Even the mainstream media anchors are now attacking Bush. Everyone knows the surge is a terrible idea. (And, when the ultimate opportunist Norm Coleman jumps ship, you can bet it is over.)
Top grade for Dick Durbin's response and to Barack Obama for their clear and articulate opposition. (Hey! How come Illinois is producing such high quality leadership?) Where is Hillary?
The "new" strategy is no strategy. It is a bandaid on a gaping wound. C'mon Democrats. Follow Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold. Bring the troops home. Stop the carnage.
Line of the night? The president warned Iraq that if they did not follow his plan, "You will lose the support of the American people." Bad news, W. The American people are at the head of the parade.
January 10, 2007
Hey! Watch the Congress!
Ted Kennedy will introduce a bill requiring Bush to get Congressional approval before sending new troops. In other words, no escalation of this fiasco unless Congress, with eyes wide open, approves. (Was that Hillary hiding behind the podium?) Some estimates have 10 Republican Senators on board. With Bush'a approval rating an an all-time low 26 percent, we could be on the way towards an end to the occupation.
Speaker Pelosi will do the same in the House. Good for her. Sure sets up the presidential address tonight.
Collaboration. Tough word. Recall the marvelous novel Trinity? Leon Uris' central theme was the Catholic church officials collaborating with the British to supress th Irish. Friends told us of how the Dutch fought Dutch officials who collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. Now in a shocking revelation, thousands of priests, monks and nuns apparently collaborated with the Polish secret police. The NYT raises the question of what Pope John Paul II knew. Did they hide it from him or did he approve? Four of the collaboraters are now bishops. Where is an Albert Camus for our time?
Last note. The administration would have us believe they did not approve of the way Saddam Hussein was hanged. Really, now, are we to believe that the Iraqis are dictatiing policy to our helpless and impotent authorities? If so, time to leave.
January 9, 2007
On the eve of the presidential announcement of a strategy in Iraq (can't be a new one--never had an old one), coming almost four years since the invasion, our attention is now supposed to be on Somalia. Yah, sure, Ole. I suppose tomorrow night the president will say that had Clinton finished the task in Somalia years ago we wouldn't be bombing innocent people today.
So, listen up Democrats in Congress! If you want the blame for our failed effort in Iraq, cut off our funds and the next president will have to return to Iraq. And one can only hope that the new Congress will stand up to the challenge.
Did you enjoy the peace advocates, led by Cindy Sheehan, who interrupted Rahm Emmanuel's news conference? I thought it was an appropriate reminder that the vote in November was not to put John Dingel or Steny Hoyer into more comfortable chairs, it was aimed at bringing the troops home.
I think Henry David Thoreau was applauding. He said, near death, "I don't know why I was so well behaved. What demon possessed me that I obeyed the rules." Well done, Cindy, well done. Rahm might not invite you to lunch, but you earned Henry David's citizenship award.
If you read the Guestblog by our regular writer, Bill Kraus, you will get a better idea of how we should proceed than you will from the speech tomorrow night.
January 8, 2007
FBI and Rehnquist
Of all the shocking stories to emerge in the past year--Secret CIA prisons; kidnapping called "renditions," Bush saying he can read our mail; Cheney and Secret Service making a deal to never reveal who visited Cheney in the White House (Jack Abramhoff for example); repeal of habeas corpus; the most underplayed is the AP report that "the Nixon and Reagan administrations enlisted the FBI's help in blunting criticism of Rehnquist at Senate confirmation hearings."
Wow! Think about that? If the FBI intimidated citizens, do you suppose they used one of J. Edgar Hoover's tricks in "talking to Senators"? The AP story goes on: "In 1971, Deputy AG Richard Kleindienst directed the FBI to investigate witnesses who were planning to testify against him at the Rehnquist confirmation hearing." And old pal John Bolton emerges from the shadows. "Thurmond" (yes, Strom) "just gave Bolton these names and we want to know what they are going to say." Voter intimidation, minority voters, was the charge against Rehnquist. Who better to protect the minorities than Strom Thurmond?
Did Rehnquist know about the secret help from the FBI?
Did he provide names to the FBI? Had this come out while he presided over the impeachment of President Clinton, would the Chief have been impeached?
Before we spread more democracy, we might want a fresh start here at home.
January 7, 2007
Could it be this bad?
People laughed or sucked in large amounts of air when Charlie Rangel called for a military draft. Well, remember when General Eric Shinseki said that success in Iraq would require hundreds of thousands of troops? He was discarded as a hopeless pessimist. Turns out he was right, as more than 3,000 Iraqis are killed every month. Security is a myth, the central government a joke, and thousands leave the country every month. Would you stay if you heard that America might send 20,000 more troops to a city of 6 million people? I wouldn't.
Frank Rich points out in today's NYT that the new top commander of the Iraqi occupation, General David Petraeus, endorsed a formula of "20 counterinsurgents per 1,000 residents as the minimum troop density required." Whoa Nelly! Bring back Shinseki and take up Rangel's call for a draft?
Nope! President Bush will call for 20,000 more troops-your kids not his--and (I'm not making this up) a jobs program to "clean the streets and paint schools." Why not introduce No Child Left Behind? Hey! If NCLB has cured all the problems of our cash-starved public schools in our country, why not in Iraq? I know, I know, schools are targets of suicide bombers; teachers are leaving the country in droves; and kids are afraid to venture out to attend school. But freshly painted schools and clean streets could be the answer!
If the president calls on us to sacrifice, I will believe him if he calls for repeal of tax breaks for the wealthy and a no-deferment draft to provide 300,000 troops to pacify Iraq. I would oppose such a plan, but it would be an honest assessment of the mess he has created. Twenty-thousand new targets? Not on your life! Not on the lives of our children and grandchildren. Come on, Democrats. Follow your instincts and the demand of the American people. Bring them home, don't send more!
January 6, 2007
Whose war is it?
The worst-kept secret in America is the "new" strategy in Iraq to be announced on Wednesday. Bush got rid of all military leaders in Iraq and the Pentagon who oppose the coming surge and he has all but announced the plan to add 10,000-20,000 troops to the dead-end task of securing Baghdad.
It occurs to me this is the brain-child of our pal Karl Rove. The surge is so stupid there must be a reason, unrelated to "Iraqi Freedom," that Bush is pushing the notion that more of the same will work miracles. Hint: Democrats will either approve the funds for the surge, the increase in the Army and Marines, or they won't. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wrote to the president and it reads well. The NYT reports the two said, "Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point." They dimissed the surge as a policy "that has already failed. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq."
Sounds great, but Rove is betting the Dems won't have the political courage to cut the funding for the surge--the only way they can save lives, stop the war and get our troops home. Talk, hearings and letters won't do it.
So Rove's bet is simple. The GOP can hang the war on the Democrats if they abandon the voters and provide funds for more troops. Then Iraq will belong to both parties. A hint he may be right: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama attended a meeting with President Bush. Hillary did not issue a statement after the meeting. Barack was clear and forceful: "I personally indicated that an escalation of troop levels in Iraq was a mistake and that we need a political accommodation, rather than a military approach to the sectarian violence there."
Just watch. Hearings will provide opportunities for Dems to scold Bush, Cheney and Rummy, but at the end of the day, will they follow Joe Lieberman and Hillary? Or will they do what most of the American people want by bringing the troops home? Approve the funding for this fiasco or show political courage? (Ain't it odd? The American people have spoken. They want an "end to our national nightmare" as President Ford said a generation ago about another fiasco. So, it shouldn't require a lot of courage to do what the people want, but apparently it does.)
January 5, 2007
In a shameful exhibition of vengeance, guards in ski masks taunted Saddam Hussein in his last moment with cries of "Moktada! Moktada!" and "Go to hell!" Equally disturbing is the decision of the tone-deaf Bush administration to ignore this example of American insensitivity. I'm not making this up. The State Department's official statement exclaimed, "While the execution was imperfect, it is in the past and people should move on." Whoa Nelly! That is in the past so why respond?
I suppose the administration will make the same plea when the new Congress asks about no-bid contracts, the failure of American intelligence, the lack of WMDs in Iraq. Hey! That's in the past. Move on people, move on.
And soon we get the new "strategy" for our Iraqi mis-adventure. Random House defines strategy this way: "Skillful management in getting the better of an adverseary or attaining an end."
Bush apparently does not grasp the difference between tactics and strategy. The name of "the surge" should be, "Hey! If it doesn't work, let's do more of the same."
The media is intent on framing the debate over this disaster. Night after night we hear why it would be suicidal for the Democrats to cut funding. Really? Isn't it true that most Americans want out of Iraq? The attitude seems to be--stay the course and you will elect a Democrat in 2008. And chickens have lips.
January 3, 2007
E. Michael McCann retires today. He has been District Attorney of Milwaukee County since December of 1968. That is not a typo. Thirty-nine years of scandal-free public service. Well done, Michael. Well done.
Now we must figure out how we can persuade him to take on campaign reform. Why not? Oh yes, if they put up a bronze statue of Barry Alvarez, is there room for an E. Michael bronze? (How silly of me. Sports is much more important that law enforcement. What was I thinking?)
And farewell to the People's Lawyer, Peggy Lautenschlager. She was damned good. Thanks, Peg. We all felt more comfortable knowing you were our top lawyer.
The incredible mis-handling of Saddam's hanging is having repercussions throughout the world. Now the Bush administration would have us believe the occupying authority had no role to play. Innocent bystanders. They even tell us they urged restraint and the quiet of a Texas execution. Yah, sure, Ole.
Congratulations to Jim Doyle, Barbara Lawton, Doug La Follette and Dawn Sass on innauguration day. Enjoy your day.
January 2, 2007
Here we go!
Optimism has returned. There is a chance we will have national health care, a significantly higher minimum wage, and an end to the Iraqi nightmare. So, you say, if that happens, will there be any issues left for the 2008 presidential race? I think so.
Back to reality. My next Cap Times column argues that things are so bad in Iraq the Democrats have no choice but to cut funding for the "surge." If left alone, the Dems might punt but they will feel the heat and Feingold, Harkin, Kennedy and Levin will push the envelope. Those seeking the presidency? They will have no chance unless they push for an end to the occupation.
On the state level, Judy Robson, as the first woman to hold the position as majority leader in the Senate, will push and cajole Jim Doyle to return to his liberal roots. No more excuses that he must compromise with the neocons in the Lobbyist's Legislature. Now he can lead on campaign reform, health care and fair taxation.
Should get interesting. Optimism or realism? We'll soon see.
January 1, 2007
To begin the year, a gift from Matt Rothschild of the Progressive. He found this quote from Governor Francis E. McGovern in the January 21, 1911, issue of La Follette's Weekly
"The influence of money in political campaigns in Wisconsin must be removed. No more important or urgent legislative problem exists or can possibly be presented to you. It involves the purity of our elections, the independence of public officials, the integrity of the electorate, the security of representative government, and the perpetuity of free institutions."
It doesn't get much better than that. Ninety-six years later, let us pledge to follow Governor McGovern's lead.
Iraq: Now 3,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed. The estimates of Iraqi deaths are harder to determine. NYT gives the following range: The U.N. says 28,000; the Iraqi Health Minister says 150,000; Iraq Body Count says 52,000 and the Johns Hopkins report says 600,000.
I commented on the execution of Saddam the other day and now we know it was handled so poorly one susupects Haliburton took charge. Read this paragraph in NYT:
"...nor would any explain why those who conducted it had allowed it to deteriorate into a sectarian free-for-all that had the effect of making Mr. Hussein, a mass murderer, appear a pillar of dignity and restraint, and his executioners...Shiites, seem like bullying street thugs." And this: "They changed him from a criminal into a martyr."
Democrats--you take over Congress in a few days. Bring our troops home. Enough hearts have been broken, enough minds ruined from head injuries, enough....
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