July 31, 2007
It is hot in Iraq!
Last year we were in federal court in Phoenix. The temperature outside was 114 degrees and I thought I would pass out after a one-block walk in the sun. All the Chamber of Commerce nonsense about "dry heat" is just that: nonsense. Dry or humid, we are not built to deal with temperatures that high. (To make it worse, some architect in Arizona made the federal courthouse all glass. Smart or the result of sun stroke--you decide.)
Temperatures in Baghdad would make Phoenix seem like a summer destination. No wonder Iraqi politicians are off on a one-month vacation. No wonder except for the fact that there is a war going on. But you have to give them credit--Bush convinced them to cut back from the planned vacation of two months to one! Huzzah. But one member of parliament put it in perspective: "There is no reason for parliament to remain in session because it has nothing to vote on." Whoa Nelly!
Here is one reason they should be in session: 3,642 American soldiers have died in Iraq and thousands will be working in August, covered from head to toe in protective gear, trying to carry out an ill-defined mission for politicians who don't give a damn.
Why the stalemate? You guessed it. Oil. Recall thousands of picket signs "no blood for oil"? I do. A million deaths and three million dislocated people later, the parliament is off on vacation.
Join us at Fighting Bob Fest to demand an end to this fiasco. It is their oil. Let them sort it out. No more blood for oil!
(By the way, our glitch is fixed so please pre-register.)
July 30, 2007
And I thought W-2 would end poverty!
Here is the cold water in the face: "The number of Wisconsin children living in poverty grew by 18.8 percent between 2000 and 2005 even as the number of children declined." That sad report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Finally, we can tell the Bradley Foundation, the Hudson Institute, and all the other flim-flam artists that poverty does not disappear when a state eliminates benefits. We need housing, day care, health care, good paying jobs, public transportation, and good food. Wisconsin, the dairy state, might begin by making sure every student starts the day with a nutritious meal. Can't afford it? Give me a break.
Bob Fest: We have had some problems with pre-registration button. Don't get frustrated. Try again and don't forget Pay Pal.
This week we will publish the schedule. Five weeks to go.
July 29, 2007
Of umpires and referees
When the Packers traveled to New York city for their first championship game under new coach Vince Lombardi, the coach wanted to avoid the distraction of meeting with media. (Avoiding the press in NYC is like avoiding the sun while golfing on a hot day.)
Pete Rozelle was the commissioner of the NFL and to Pete the media was the key to the success of the NFL. The commissioner persuaded Lombardi to hold a news conference.
Only one question was asked before Coach Lombardi left the room in disgust. The question came from a goof, Dick Young, and it was, "Coach, are you afraid the referees will be 'homers' because you are playing the Giants in New York?" Lombardi snapped, "That is the dumbest question I have ever heard. This news conference is over!"
To Lombardi, the idea of a referee favoring the home team was sacrilege. Everyone in sports knows the referee, umpire, or field judge must be above all that. If the fans think the calls are wrong for an undisclosed reason, there will be no fans. Simple as that.
That is why the NBA is in turmoil. A referee was allegedly betting on games and helping the team he bet on. The NBA must clean this up immediately or go out of business.
Okay, you know all that. The reason I write about the referee scandal is an article in WSJ announcing that Annette Ziegler will be sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice on Wednesday despite Mike McCabe's pending complaint to the Judicial Commission. Last May she settled similar charges of conflicts of interest with the Ethics Board and in doing so, she acknowledged her errors and paid $17,000 in penalties. How she could be sworn in with these charges pending redefines chutzpah. But away she goes. And, how does her patron, WMC look at it? Jim Pugh, WMC spokesman said, after pointing out she got 58 percent of the vote, and I'm not kidding, "That's a mandate. That's a landslide. The people have spoken."
One conclusion is obvious. The only thing that WMC cares about is that its candidate won. And now they want to fix our Supreme Court so that the referees are all "homers." First target? Louis Butler. This is a disgrace. This is an insult to all the good people who have served on our Court and who argue cases before the impartial Justices. Lombardi understood the importance of impartiality. Jim Pugh and WMC thumb their noses at the coach and all of us. If Pugh could have arranged "homers" to help the Packers defeat the Giants he would not have hesitated, and when Vince Lombardi learned of it he would have walked out of the NFL. If you listen to WMC, they want to win every case that comes before our Supreme Court--before anyone listens to the arguments or reads the briefs.
I miss the integrity of Vince Lombardi. There is something more important than winning a case or a ball game.
July 26, 2007
Read the plaque!
The plaque on Bascom Hall must be covered with ivy or graffiti because Assembly Rep. Steve Nass can't read it. Just as I began to write about out lying Attorney General Alberto Gonzales I came across an AP story quoting Whitewater Republican Rep. Nass calling for the elimination of the Haven Center because (I am not kidding) it is "too far to the left." This trumps Gonzales. (Steve ought to attend Bob Fest for comparative purposes.) He doesn't claim shoddy research at Haven, he just disagrees with the Haven Center so he wants to close it! Whoa, Stevie. Why so angry?
John Wiley, sensing wolves at the door, said, "The Assembly budget dismantles the University to satisfy party politics and eliminates pet peeves." Me thinks you understate, Brother John. The plan is to dismantle the Madison campus and sell off the pieces to the corporate world as part of the privatization plan of the Bradley Foundation.
There aren't too many potential buyers for the Haven Center, where they actually think about the problems of society and debate solutions, so kill it. Why bother with research when they could just listen to Charlie Sykes every morning? He and his patron, Bradley, have the answers. Just think, had it not been for the brilliant W-2 program, Wisconsin would still have poor people. Yikes!
Let me see. Close Haven, cut off the law school, eliminate the School for Workers, censor articles, deny controversial speakers (You know, the ones who think Nass is nutso), and we are done. When did Wisconsin lose its reputation for academic freedom? Read the plaque. Please. We can still save it.
July 25, 2007
What's the rush?
We got an early peek at the September report on the surge from our pal General Petraeus and our Ambassador Crocker, and, guess what? They will tell the nation in September that "we" need more time in Iraq but if given another year, all will be well." (A cynic might conclude that Petraeus, a cheerleader for Bush in 2004, is playing the neo-con game. You know the plot. Keep releasing optimistic reports until Bush-Chaney leave office so the next president will be blamed for "losing Iraq.")The swift-boat line will be, "If only we had given the generals more time!"
As a student I heard Joe McCarthy blame Democrats and commies in the State Department for "losing China." I was accused by a neo-conn State Senator of killing two million Vietnamese! Why? We ended the Vietnam war too early and millions died because of our protests. Whoa Nelly!
Now the game is to lose the election in 2008 to a Democrat while the neo-cons rebuild. The chaos in Iraq, not to mention Iran, Syria, and Lebanon will be the fault of the Democratic President. Or, if the neo-cons can elect a Republican in 2008, then Plan B--bomb Iran into the 18th Century, will be implemented and people like us silenced.
We need thousands of you on September 8 to raise your voices with Laura Flanders, Granny D, Jim Hightower and Cindy Sheehan to send a loud and clear message to stop this travesty now.
Want to know why I'm scared? NYT reports that Bush and Maliki meet via Internet and discuss religion. "They of course, also share a faith in God."
Catch this. Because too many soldiers stationed at Fort Lewis are returning in caskets, the military will no longer hold services for each one--only a monthly service for all those killed serving their country! Why? I'm not making this up. "The practical reality that the services take time to plan, including things like coordinating rifle salutes and receptions." Need more proof the Bush twins are not in uniform? What a disgrace! Maybe Bush could out-source the services.
July 24, 2007
McCabe rides again!
Fighting Bob Fest rabble-rouser Mike McCabe points out that "nearly two out of every three dollars contributed to Assembly Republicans from 1999 to 2006 has come from special interests who oppose the universal health care" plan put forward by Judy Robson and her Senate Democratic colleagues. Mike points out that "voting constituents take a back seat to cash constituents." You betcha! Keep at 'em Mike. The Democracy Campaign site is the nation's best in connecting the dots.
More confusion: The leading opponent of the war/occupation, Russ Feingold, wants to censure Bush. That, of course would eliminate impeachment as an option but even a the milder censure is opposed by Harry Reed. "Too much time," complains the Senate majority leader. Really? Then is cutting off funds too time consuming as well?
How do you feel? I'm eager for Bob Fest to gain some clarity. See you on the 8th of September. Censure? Sure; impeachment? Why not?
July 23, 2007
I almost forgot!
Yes, there are other issues and it appears that we are on the verge of national health care. Governors of both parties are calling on the Congress to expand health care for children despite the dire warning from our leader, W. Bush, that the program is "a step down the path to government-run health care."
Don't you wonder how the President justifies his superb "government-run" health care program? Don't you wonder how electcd officials give themselves superb health care they deny to the people who elect them?
Bob Fest will coincide with the "surge" report and the return from summer vacation! I can't wait to hear your view of the surge.
July 22, 2007
Buddy can you spare a dime
The song of the great depression comes to mind in thinking about the enormous increase in the federal minimum wage today. The minimum will increase from $5.15 to $5.85. Time to celebrate! If a minimum wage worker works a full 2080 hours over the next 12 months, she will add $1,456 for the year. Wow!
What will she do with this windfall? Add to her 401(K); put more into the kid's college fund; or put it in her gas tank to help our oil companies through a tough time? I'll bet on the oil companies. You?
How long are we going to put up with this embarrassing treatment of working people? No health insurance, fewer and fewer plan on a college degree for their kids as our policy-makers raise tuition so they can build and fill more prisons. (Let's call 'em the "build and fill" boys. We suggested in 1998 that Tommy Thompson's vision for Wisconsin was "Very large prisons connected by very wide highways.")
John Edwards has called for a minimum wage of $9.50 per hour by 2012. That's still not enough, but that will make our DLC Dems squirm. The Edwards plan would have an impact--an increase of nearly twenty thousand dollars per year. And he advocates universal health care. Okay, John Edwards!
Bob Fest: A reminder that we are running out of booth space so send in your form if your organization needs a table. And, pre-register please. Got an extra $20 laying around? We need your help. Thanks.
We have a bumper sticker in mind for the WMC selected judge who will oppose Louis Butler for Supreme Court.
July 21, 2007
No party hats but so what?
Governor Doyle made a couple of moves on Friday. He moved his closest ally in government, Matt Frank, from the Department of Corrections to head the DNR. Just days after DNR Secretary Scott Hassett informed New Berlin officials they could begin negotiations with Milwaukee to move Lake Michigan water outside the Great Lakes basin, Hassett was given the thumb. While I would like to think that the reckless move by Hassett caused the shake-up, that would be too much to hope for.
If Hassett is anything, he is loyal to Doyle and it stretches credulity too far to imagine that the Hassett letter was an independent initiative. It had Doyle's finger prints all over it.
So, why the move? To ask the question is to provide the answer. No big deal. (It is the equivalent of the Brewers bringing up a promising AAA shortstop and a relief pitcher.) Two decent, honest, good public servants, both Doyle loyals, have moved into different positions, one from Corrections to DNR, one from Corrections to corrections, signaling nothing other than more of the same as Jim Doyle moves toward term number three.
Jim Doyle and Susan Goodwin have been reluctant to place Democrats who supported Tom Barrett or Kathleen Falk into positions in the administration so why not appoint Republican Rick Raemisch?
PSC is 100: When told that the party to celebrate 100 years since Fighting Bob led the nation by creating a body to regulate utilities would be held at Maple Bluff Country Club, I just chuckled. But fear not, the rabble, known as rate-payers, are invited to the courtyard in front of the PSC. What a statement. Let me see--ratepayers on the black top at the PSC, utilities at the bar at Maple Bluff with the Commissioners. Something is wrong with this picture. Perhaps they could hold a fund raiser.
Hold the party hats.
July 20, 2007
House cleaning finished, repair work done, and FightingBob.com is back. Thank you for your patience.
Surprises: First, the generals want more time before the new "strategy" in Iraq is judged. (I always thought strategy was long-term and tactics were short-term, but the generals somehow think a two month delay is long-term. Nutso.)
Surprise number two: Headline hollers "Bill supports Hillary." If ever a wife deserved support from a husband, Hillary has lots of chips to cash. Elizabeth Edwards, the most refreshing voice in the presidential race, criticized Hillary in case you missed it, and Bill will stand by his woman.
Good for the Mayor: Tom Barrett won't be pushed around by New Berlin or the DNR on the application to use Lake Michigan water on the west side of the subcontinental divide. He is demanding more water conservation, adoption of the Compact by Wisconsin, more communications and serious study. Ah, but Mary Lazich, state Senator from New Berlin, won't push the Republicans to pass the Compact and won't push for conservation of water. (Can't have any brown lawns in New Berlin, can we?)
Poor Mary has her ideology to defend and ideology is more important than water to this senator. (Can't regulate developers, can we? What about jobs and our mantra--economic development!) Can we permit Wisconsin to be governed by a Compact involving seven other states? And, worst of all, a Compact involving Canada? You know, the place with single-payer health care. One can almost hear her discussion with Charlie Sykes: "Charles, if we join with those commies in Canada in governing our Lake Michigan, what's next? Singing 'Oh Canada' at high school hockey games?"
So good going, Mayor Barrett. I hope the DNR is listening. The message to New Berlin--ideology or water. Water in your faucets or on your manicured lawns?
July 19, 2007
Attack on our site
If you saw the picture posted on our site, you probably wanted to up-chuck. Yes, someone hacked into our site and yes, they apparently want you to stop participating on Fighting Bob's site. That won't happen but it sure caused panic in my world.
We are doing what the experts tell us to do to make sure this doesn't happen again. Sorry for the inconvenience. See you soon.
July 15, 2007
Tony Snow, that truth-teller, informs the nation whenever asked that progress is being made in Iraq while the report on benchmarks suggests otherwise. the benchmzrk report said, New York Times, "The Iraqi government has made unsatisfactory progress toward increasing the number of Iraqi security forces capable of operating independently." Which is it? Surprise, surprise, it must be Tony Snow's version, because Maliki says, "Iraqi forces are able to secure the country." Indeed, Maliki makes Snow seem like a pessimist.
He says, according to the NYT, the "Iraqi forces can secure the country "anytime." Take that Mr. Snow! Take that! While President Bush scolds Maliki for not doing enough, Maliki has quietly worked an unnoticed miracle. He is ready! "Bring 'em on," says Maliki. "We can stand up so you can stand down." When? Now.
Now that 70 percent of Iraqi people want us to leave and the Iraqi government says leave "anytime" 'cause we are ready to restore order, what are we waiting for? Let's go!
If you missed Moyers Journal on Friday you can catch it Sunday morning. Conservative Bruce Fein and not-so-conserative John Nichols made a compelling case for impeachment. It is not all about punishing Bush and Cheney; it is about our future. If this duo gets away with breaking the law, ignoring Congress, implementing torture, spying on us, and lying us into war, what is the message to future presidents? You guessed it.
I continue to think that Democrats feel they can ignore the past because one of their own will occupy the White House in 2009. a) I think that may be wishful thinking as the bigs will pour a couple billion into the race; and b) Just because you have a "D" behind your name, it doesn't automatically mean you are a small "d."
Impeach now. I'm sure that participants at Fighting Bob Fest will have an opinion.
July 14, 2007
Lasee meet Shakespeare
Frank Lasee, Assemblyman from Green Bay, is either fronting for those who want to privatize the UW-Madison in calling for an end to our Law School or he never got a copy of Henry VI and thinks killing all the lawyers is a new idea. His idea. (On the other hand, he may see the battle between the Assembly and the Senate as a mirror of the battle for power between the Houses of York and Lancaster.)
Here is a quote from brother Frank: "It's about the big picture. We have too many attorneys clogging our court system and hurting our citizens." Okay, Frank, take a nap. When you wake up, how about banning the lobbyists and campaign contributors. Then we can talk about too many lawyers.
DNR is dangerous: My eyes deceive me. The DNR gave permission to New Berlin, in Waukesha County, to "launch negotiations with the Milwaukee Water Works [grab your chair] for the purchase of Lake Michigan water for use outside the Great Lakes basin." Whoa Nelly!
New Berlin's mayor is very happy while Rep. Jon Richards and all thinking people are unhappy. As Richards said, this violates the pending federal compact that would protect this fantastic resource. For heaven's sake, has Jim Doyle lost it? Scott Hassett would not write that letter without clearance by Susan Goodwin and the Governor.
Would it be asking too much for Jim Doyle and Scott Hasset to explain? And, if water is sold to New Berlin, can we deny Arizona and Nevada the same right? And will Wisconsin thumb its nose at Canada and the other states bordering the Lakes?
Maybe Lasee is less dangerous than the DNR. By the way, whatever happened to candidate Doyle's call for the re-establishment of the Public Intervenor?
July 13, 2007
Let us begin with our own genius, John Nichols, the associate editor of the Capital Times, national correspondent for the Nation magazine, board member and contributing editor of Fighting Bob.com and Fighting Bob Fest and author of The Genius of Impeachment.
Tonight, Nichols is interviewed by Bill Moyers on Moyers' Journal on PBS. This is not a five minute interview, it is the focus of tonight's Journal.
The interview comes as more and more members of Congress are uttering the forbidden word--impeachment. (Could we start with Alberto Gonzales? Please.) Watch Nichols tonight and send us your comments. Is there time to impeach?
In watching Bush at his controlled news conference yesterday, the unmistakable conclusion is that he knows the so-called war in Iraq has been lost. He is urging his Reublican colleagues and the always-compliant sour puss Joe Lieberman to wait for September 15. (Dave Zweifel tells me Bush probably wants to get past Fighting Bob Fest on September 8 before the surge report is presented. Never know.)
Speaking of Bob Fest--Ellen Bravo will lead a panel on the Role of Women in the Workplace. Next week we will give you a complete rundown of the five breakout sessions.
With 34 booths already taken only 16 remain. So if your organization wants a booth, apply soon.
No genius in Assembly: When I hear the name Mike Huebsch, Speaker of the Assembly, the word "genius" does not come to mind. In praising his slash-and-burn budget that would, in his words, permit "Milwaukee to survive" and who said, "We are going to show the taxpayers of this state that government can live within your means," the operative word is "mean." Mean to students, mean to faculty, mean to police and fire. I could go on, but suffice to say that this package is so bad Governor Doyle is sounding like a Democrat. He seems angry. OK, Huebsch may be a genius afterall.
How about the House? Better late than never; 223-201 to begin bringing home our troops in 120 days, with complete withdrawal by April of 2008. Congratulations to Nancy Pelosi and David Obey.
July 12, 2007
On and on
Let me see. Pope Benedict XVI has antagonized Muslims; he is bringing back the Catholic prayer to convert Jews, and now he asserts the "primacy" of the Roman Catholic Church by telling us that "other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches." Yup, words not heard for decades, "Catholicism is the only true path to salvation." Whoa Nelly! Now he has almost everyone mad.
Then you turn the page and read that our Supreme Court has opened the door for victims of "clergy abuse" in the one, true Church. What is going on?
Good news: A good Republican, Joe Lean, who knows a lot about health care from his days as Secretary of Health and Family Services under Tommy, praised the health care plan of Senate Democrats. You know, the plan rejected in the Assembly and scoffed at in the East wing of the Capital. He joined Alain Enthoven in saying, "This plan is exactly what this state needs."
Hooray for Lean!
July 11, 2007
Michael Moore has done it again!
Saw Sicko last night. You must go. It will depress you, leave you with a sinking feeling that our nation has lost its collective soul, but it will also persuade you to demand single-payer health care in America. (Germany beat us by a century or so, all other industrialized nations have it, how about us?) I will try to get all of our legislators to see the movie.
Michael Moore, with Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and now Sicko has captured our attention and challenged the nation's conventional wisdom for years. He is fighting the good fight. Someone asked, "What can we do?" My response is simple: Let's challenge all of our friends to participate in (more than attending) Fighting Bob Fest with a commitment to adopt a plan of action.
Speaking of Iraq...Bush's approval rating is down to 29 percent; 70 percent now want to have our troops home by April; while the only hawk in the presidential race, John McCain, is collapsing at the starting gate. Even the editor of the Dallas Morning News said last night that Iraq is "a disaster. I was wrong to support the invasion. This is a war we cannot win." Welcome aboard.
But the president keeps talking about the surge. Yikes! Let's tell him at Fighting Bob Fest that we want out of Iraq now! That it is criminal to place our young soldiers in a combat zone they cannot define.
Let's raise hell. To do otherwise is to be an accomplice.
July 10, 2007
Intellectually lazy and stuck in the past
The Republicans in the state Assembly, marching to the music of the Bradley Foundation and lead cheerleader Charlie Sykes, must have taken a page out of Woody Allen's movie Sleepers. The leaders seem to have tucked themselves into bed about two decades ago when nearly every politician called for smaller government, tax cuts, tax cuts, and if desperate, a tax freeze. They recently woke up and hollered the day before Wisconsin Eye might catch them on TV, "No tax increase!" Period.
Don't you wish teacher would tell them to pull out their rug and take a nap? I sure do. This nonsense of government on the cheap is too simplistic for words. Our population grows; the special needs population increases; the University needs money for research that will fuel our economic engine; prisons are over-crowded and understaffed; tuition is getting in the way of working families; we are losing faculty; teachers have been frozen in place for too long; the mentally ill are in desperate need of help, need I go on?
Aha! The Assembly leaders have an answer. (I'm not making this up.) They propose a 15.8 percent--$28 million--cut in aid to Milwaukee, our most important city and the one most in need of assistance.
One word on this idea: Nuts!
Iraq: The media tells us there is discussion in the White House about leaving Iraq gradually. Better hurry boys, because we've had more than enough. It is time for leaders to emerge.
July 9, 2007
This war, this occupation
This incompetence. Ask anyone if they could have imagined just how badly the pre-emptive strike and the occupation of Iraq have gone and you will see a shaking head. Every day we read about more bombings, more deaths, more sectarian violence and yet the administration "stays the course."
That is about to end. Now that spending on the war has reached $442 billion with commitments that will take us to more than two trillion dollars, more and more people are getting the message. We can't remain in Iraq, provide health care for our children and seniors, pay for education, fight the Taliban, and maintain a sound economy while cutting taxes for the top 1 percent. Can't do it.
As the slump (or collapse) of the housing market portends more trouble in the near future, there will be a stampede by Congress to get our troops home so domestic issues can be addressed. Fighting Bob Fest could be the best celebration you have ever enjoyed or the loudest demand for peace now you have experienced in years. I'll bet on the latter but who knows? It could collapse in a hurry. (By the way, people from 27 counties and five states have pre-registered for Fighting Bob Fest, and half the booth space has been spoken for. Time to sign up.)
Health Care: Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head in responding to the argument that Canadians wait longer for treatment: "Yes, they wait longer for elective surgery. But over all, the average Canadian's access to health care is as good as the average insured American--and much better than that of uninsured Americans, many of whom never receive needed health care at all." Amen. A full 47 million of us have no coverage. Is this a fiscal or a moral crisis?
The neo-cons worry more about embryos used to cure disease than they do about parents watching a child die without treatment. This is a moral crisis.
July 8, 2007
Institutions in transition
"It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit." That editorial from the paper of record, the New York Times.
Yes, the same paper that helped lead this country into the Iraq war with irresponsible reporting, including printing leaks from Cheney's office that Cheney could then point to on talk shows as proof that Sadaam had WMDs, now concludes that the war is lost and not worth one more American life. Hooray! Maybe the NYT will come to Fighting Bob Fest! Our theme--Peace and Justice Now!
The game for the architects of the pre-emptive strike was to say, "Golly. If even the NY Times supports our theory..." we must be right and the left should go along with the invasion.
Welcome aboard, NYT! While this important institution moves forward, the Catholic Church is hell-bent on a return to the days of Pius XI and XII. Yes, get out the old Latin prayer books. Whoa Nelly! Pope Benedict is bringing back the Tridentine Mass, in Latin, that asks Catholics to pray for Jews to convert. Let me see. He has enraged Muslims, infuriated ntive peopls in Brazil snd now he reminds the world that anti-Semitism has long plagued the Church. Yikes! This is the Pope, who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, helped elect W. Bush by denying communion to John Kerry and other Catholic office holders who have the audacity to pledge allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, not teachings from Rome.
This is the Pope who recenty issued ten commandments for use of the car. High on the list, I'm not kidding, is to not use a car "as an occasion of sin." Who told on us?
So let us celebrate, in English, the awakening of the NY Times, not the Latin Mass.
July 7, 2007
The Cap Times recently published a suggested list of things to do and eat in Milwaukee. The sentence that caught my eye was this, "Or do you simply want to stop by the Milwaukee Public Museum before it's permanently placed in receivership?"
You may be tired of my complaints about the clumsy and, some would say, disastrous privatization of our wonderful natural history museum, but it is the canary in the mine. (Or in this case, the mind.) Frank Zeidler joined our rallies opposing this theft of a great public asset, but the powers that pushed were too strong and voilà! A great public entity is now on the brink of bankruptcy. At one meeting sponsored by the Unitarian Church a Foley & Lardner lawyer gave a warning to all of us: "We will prove to Mr. Garvey that we can do a better job of running the Museum, the Zoo, Mitchell Field and the highways." Thanks for the warning.
He forgot to mention the great state University of Wisconsin. Now the neo-con Bradley Foundation sponsored-Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) is attempting to pave the way for corporate control of the Madison campus of our university system. I'm not making this up. In their most recent report the WPRI announced that their favorite "spinner of things corporate," Wood Communications, has found, (I'm not making this up either) "Deep ambivalence" toward the UW System. (What in the world "deep ambivalence" means is your guess.)
But make no mistake. The Bradley Foundation "family," including Bradley fellow Charlie Sykes, will flood you with stories of "efficiency" leading to lower tuition, a cure for athlete's foot, and a solution to life's persistent problems if only the Madison campus goes the way of the Milwaukee Public Museum.
We have been warned. Are the UW leaders ready to fight or have they given up?
July 6, 2007
Coalition of the Billing
A great headline in the Capital Times on the story that "private contractors outnumber troops" in Iraq. More than 180,000 civilians are working under contracts with the U.S. in Iraq! This was the hidden story of the occupation until Jeremy Scahill wrote BLACKWATER: THE RISE OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL MERCENARY ARMY.
Ike could not have imagined in his farewell address that 50 or so years later the United States would "privatize" war. That we would turn to mercenaries.
At the 4th of July concert the orchestra in D.C. always asks those who served in the Army to stand; then the Coast Guard; the Navy; the Air Force; and last but not least, the Marines. I guess next year they will call on the Blackwater and Halliburton vets to stand and receive the thanks of a grateful nation!
Exciting news. Jeremy Scahill confirmed that he will be at Fighting Bob Fest. Bob Fest, with Scahill, Cindy Sheehan, Granny D, Laura Flanders, Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore is perfectly timed to coincide with the administration's report on the so-called "surge." We can and will raise our voices in demanding peace now!
A little problem for Blackwater and other mercenaries. Turns out, surprise, surprise, their employees get brain injuries just like our troops. The problem is they can't use veteran's hospitals and the insurance companies often turn down all claims. Another tragedy in the making.
Pete Domenici, conservative "hawk" Republican from New Mexico, has had enough. He joins other Republicans, Lugar and Warner, in calling for, I'm not kidding, "a new strategy" in Iraq! Not "cut and run" but "blame and leave" seems to be his advice. (Has there been an old strategy?)
Time to end it and, by the way, it is not acceptable to blame the Iraqi government for the Cheney-Bush mistakes. Unseemly for a great power. Must we remind Domenici about Paul Bremer and Abu Ghraib?
See you at a most exciting Fighting Bob Fest.
Speaking of privatization, if you like how they have handled the rebuilding of Iraq and the Public Museum in Milwaukee, wait until they get their hands on the State University of Wisconsin. Charlie Sykes and the Bradley Foundation boys have plans. More tomorrow.
July 4, 2007
AT&T and its lobbyists
I was pleased to receive a call from my state Senator Fred Risser, but upset with his message. AT&T had delivered a book full of names of his constituents, supposedly in support of the bill to eliminate local control of cable licenses.
WISCONSIN CONSUMERS WANT VIDEO CHOICE!
Your constituent, listed below
EDWARD GARVEY (supports bringing real alternatives to cable in Wisconsin.)
There it was. My own page. Thank you, AT&T and your gaggle of lobbyists. My name, home address, and a message of support for the bill that I oppose. (The bill the state Democratic Party Chair had been hired to push through our legislature.)
Turns out I am not the only one listed as a supporter of AT&T among many who oppose this corporate power grab. Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin got his own page; Cynthia Laitman, who led the effort to get the Democratic Convention to oppose AT&T, got a page as well! She is not happy. Reps Sondy Pope-Roberts and Joe Parisi got their page after voting against the bill! They are not happy, Risser is not happy, Soglin and I are unhappy and Laitman is furious. Today, the Wisconsin State Journal ran a good story on this fraud.
This effort to use so-called grass-roots efforts (we call this astroturf, not grass) to bamboozle legislators is headed by former Doyle spokesman Thad Nation. (Don't you wonder if that is his real name?) Nation says, "You had to take a proactive step to get on the list." Yah, sure Thad. Like blogging against it? Raising hell that Joe Weinke was one of your lobbyists? Are those "proactive" steps?
So how did five opponents of this bill get on the list of supporters? Don't look to AT&T for answers. They claim that names and home addresses were not part of their customer database. Whoa Nelly! Where did the information come from? I hope Senator Risser holds a hearing to find out. This is nonsense. (Oh, yes, a mistake on my part. I told the WSJ reporter that I am not an AT&T customer. I was wrong. We are dropping AT&T but we are still customers. Not for long!)
Hillary and Bill: If she doesn't win the nomination I suspect the pundits will look back on her decision to bring Bill into her campaign in Iowa. Maureen Dowd reminds us, as only she can, that while Mrs. Clinton was condemning the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence because "Bush has elevated cronyism over the rule of law" sitting on stage was Bill, who pardoned Marc Rich, the fugitive tax-evader and former husband of Bill's fundraiser. Who was the lawyer for Rich? "Could it get any worse?" Scooter Libby. Yikes!
July 3, 2007
Corrupt to the core!
So sayeth former Ambassador Joe Wilson upon hearing that the president commuted the prison sentence of Scooter Libby: "Nothing surprises me. This Administration is corrupt to the core."
Bush said he commuted the sentence because "it is excessive." Hot news to the prosecutor, the judge and the Court of Appeals, but Scooter is free--not pardoned yet, but free nonetheless.
It was obvious from the beginning that he would never awaken in a prison cell. If he began singing, impeachment would surely follow. So, Cheney-Bush waited until the 4th of July (when most of the media and all of Congress are on vacation) to announce that Scooter will not go to prison.
The behavior of this administration is almost unbelievable. To list the outrages would take too much time, but tonight on Countdown on MSNBC Keith Olbermann will call on Cheney-Bush to do the honorable thing and resign. Should be good viewing.
Meanwhile, at a Democratic Convention in Milwaukee described by one loyalist as "lacking in energy and purpose" there were a few surprises. John Edwards won the straw poll; by a voice vote, the Convention voted to permit officers and staff to lobby for corporations--no word on whether AT&T will sponsor next year's convention. Barbara Lawton, after praising the "tableau" of good Democrats running for president, announced she would be the Midwest coordinator for Hillary Clinton; and Jim Doyle, after hinting he may run or a third term, was unavailable to the media. Here are the Democrats, meeting almost without notice from the media, and the titular head of the party won't talk to the media. What's wrong with this picture?
And so it goes.
July 2, 2007
Not the least bit phased by accusations in the British media of taking two billion dollars in bribes from a British arms dealer, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, is selling his Aspen home for $135 million. (You must be a billionaire to get a tour so don't even think of Bob Fest 7 at Bandar's home. Won't happen.)
The NYT says there are 946 billionaires according to Forbes magazine. So, lots of tours ahead!
MJS expose. The Journal Sentinel is opening Pandora's box in looking at money given by the state to companies who promise to create jobs. It's a laudable goal, but they missed the entire story of the Golden Books scandal by a country mile. Let's hope the rest of the series improves.
Mistake. Yesterday I mentioned 769 delegates attended the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee. The official number is 670. The real number?
July 1, 2007
Fighting Bob Fest
In just about eight weeks, progressives from all parts of Wisconsin and 15-20 other states (most from Iowa and Minnesota) will gather in Baraboo to raise hell. Led by 97-year-old Doris "Grannie D" Haddock, the attendees will formulate strategies to bring our troops home, deal with social justice in light of recent Supreme Court decisions, and plan for peace. A tall agenda.
Cindy Sheehan will be on hand to receive the Belle Case La Follette citizenship award; Jim Hightower will make us laugh rather than cry about the pathetic state of American politics; Daniel Kuene, our poet emeritus, will engage our souls; Laura Flanders will entertain and challenge us; Mike McCabe will, as always, expose the soft underbelly of our system--the corrupting influence of money; Matt Rothschild will play Paul Revere and warn of problems on the immediate horizon. Gwen Moore and Tammy Baldwin, as always, will get straight to the point.
We will finalize the break-out sessions this week. And we will have plenty of progressive mustard (including a new one called "Impeachment"), good Wisconsin beer, and great food and music. Peter Leidy, Chuck Mitchell, the Raging Grannies, and more.
I can't wait. We need a chorus for peace and justice as never before. Please pre-register and help us pay the expenses. The speakers do not get a fee but we have lots of expenses. See you in 8 weeks on September 8.
Dem Convention. Couldn't make it this year but we will try to get some first-hand accounts. Disappointed that the 769 delegates gave approval to Chair Joe Wienke's lobbying for AT&T or any other entity. Oh well.