May 31, 2008
Buckle your seatbelt
Here we go folks. The final three primaries and the all-important Democratic Party Rules Committee meeting to decide what to do about clear rules violations by Florida and Michigan. Violations that the Clintons have elevated to profiles in courage. Brave Michigan and Florida! "Count every vote..." Nonsense.
For my money, I'm tired of reading about the poor folks in Michigan and Florida. How about the other 48 states? The most galling "fact" comes in the form of a statement: "She won Michigan's primary" when everyone knows she did not. This is not a close case.
As pointed out in The New Yorker, if you think she won Michigan, the tally would be 328,309 for Clinton and 0 for Obama. Not too likely in a real contest. But Hillary continues to put all those votes into her popular vote total so she can claim she is leading.
If the Rules Committee follows the rules and gives the two states 50 percent of the delegates, and if Hillary takes it to the Convention, send the results to President McCain.
What did you say? Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton joined picketers in Kewaunee. Members of Boilermakers Local 487 on strike since May 19. Good for Barbara. She said what any Democrat would say to those on the picket line trying to save their jobs and fighting for economic justice--shame on the scabs hired to break the union.
Ah, but the story doesn't end there. Some scabs, probably sent out by the company to talk to the media, complained that they were called scabs and, (say it ain't so) the "Lieutenant Governor" is apologizing for using the word. She called it "an absolutely inexcusable mistake." She says should have called them "replacement workers." Whoa Nelly!
John Matthews, Madison Teachers' union leader sent a strong message to Lawton: "a scab is a scab is a scab." If scab is too strong for the Doyle-Lawton team, how about "job stealing, dream wrecking, union-busting, tools of management?"
There is an old union song entitled "Which Side are You On?" You must be with the workers or the scabs. Simple as that.
May 30, 2008
John McCain's handlers, a/k/a lobbyists, have a new trick--they say Barack should go to Iraq. (Why? He hasn't been there in a year and, saith Lindsy Graham, we were losing then but not now!) I'm reminded of Ike's speechwriter, Emmet John Hughes, who gave the famous line to war hero Ike: "I will go to Korea!" (He didn't say, "My opponent should go to Korea.")
If Barack should go to Iraq, why not Afghanistan, Darfur, the occupied territories, Syria, North Korea, Iran, South Africa and Lebanon? In fact, why not send Barack Obama on a tour of all the hot spots in the world until November? And, to show how tough he is, he should not be provided the cover McCain had on his phony tour.
Please Barack, don't go for the bait. Challenge McCain to visit West Virginia to watch the coal companies blow the tops off mountains; to the parts of Chicago where Obama worked just out of law school; to the Army hospitals to check out conditions; to inner city emergency rooms to talk with the uninsured.
Van Hollen: My, my, J.B. thinks he might summon the courage to venture out of state to attend the ever-dangerous Republican Convention--get this--without 24-hour protection from our DCI agents. Wow! What will he say to the 3,400 Wisconsin National Guard troops being deployed to Iraq--the biggest Wisconsin mobilization since WWII?
"Men and women in our National Guard. Iraq is dangerous but if you think that is dangerous, I'm going to a 5-star hotel in Minneapolis without armed guards. At least we are winning in Iraq! I will attend the Republican Convention on your behalf to praise the war effort, demand more money to support the war, and to demand defeat of the proposed G.I. Bill! We want you on the ground in Iraq not in the University. Good luck."
JS Editorial: The Journal Sentinel took on the Supreme Court for not giving meaningful punishment to Judge Ziegler. Well done.
John McCain held a $1,000 per-plate fundraiser--must have been some meal at those prices. Ah, closed to media and riff-raf. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall? Rumor has it Scott McClellan was not invited so don't feel bad.
May 29, 2008
Inadvertent takes on new meaning
The Wisconsin Supreme Court took action, or inaction, depending on your perspective, in the infamous Annette K. Ziegler matter involving 11 cases in which she presided as Judge when the West Bend Savings Bank was a party and the Judge's spouse was a director of the Bank.
You decide the meaning of "inadvertent." Go ahead, put on your robe, read the Court's opinion and Justice Ziegler'a news release, then write your opinion on the meaning of "inadvertent."
First, the Court: "...we conclude as a matter of law that the Judge violated the Code as charged...although we conclude that her failure to recuse herself (In cases involving her husband)was willful and diminishes public confidence in the legal system, the judge was cooperative with the Ethics Board and the Judicial Commission, and after the election admitted publicly the violations at issue."
Second, the news release from Justice Ziegler: "I am pleased the Supreme Court, the Judicial Commission, and the Judicial Conduct Panel have all now confirmed that the mistake I made was "inadvertent."
I said you should decide but permit one inadvertent. Whoa Nelly!
Sometimes cases linger for years but the Court seemed to be in too big of a hurry to follow the advice of Justice Butler, who dissented: "I would remand to the Judicial Conduct Panel for further fact-finding." Why reject that advice in one of the most important cases to come before the Court on the incredibly important issue of public confidence in our system of justice? "Judge Ziegler's election was more than one year ago. It is time to conclude this matter for the sake of Judge Ziegler, the Judicial Commission, this Court, and the people of the State." (Odd. I have not heard people of the state demanding a quick decision. I guess I go to the wrong watering holes.)
Add this decision to the one reached this week (behind closed doors) by the Government Accountability Board, that it has no jurisdiction over the possible violations by Justice Gableman--statute of limitations is three years---the calls were made more than three years ago---and one must conclude something is broken
Public confidence? Yikes!
May 28, 2008
March of Folly
In 1984, Barbara Tuckman wrote March of Folly. It should be required reading for all wielders of power, you know, incumbents. She talks of "wooden-headedness" (WH), the source of self-deception, playing a remarkably large role in government. What is WH? Well it "consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish not the facts...and the refusal to benefit from experience."
And she never met Frank Busalacchi, our Secretary of Transportation, a misnomer if there ever was one. We should call that job "Dispenser of Pork." From 1992-2007 Wisconsin has spent $19.2 billion on highways and a mere $2.2 billion on mass transit. Why? More money flows to campaign coffers from, as I lovingly call them, the "Highway Boys," than from any other source. And, when you couple wooden-headedness with campaign dough, you come up with a plan to expand I-94 by two lanes from Milwaukee to Illinois. 35 miles. Cost? Only $1.9 billion--if all goes well!
This is the dumbest idea put forward by the Doyle administration, from our point of view, but it ensures that he will have quite the bankroll for terms 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Mayor Tom Barrett opposes this boondoggle on grounds it will quash public transit. Will two more lanes permit shorter drive time to Illinois? No. Who says? DOT! Will the two lanes fill up with huge trucks within 24 hours? Yes. Who says? Common sense and experience.(Read the story in JS.)But DOT (DOP) will act on hope not fact; self-interest not experience. The public interest? Forgeddaaboutit.
After incumbents read Tuckman's book, they should be required to watch "The Gods Must be Crazy."
The Clinton Surge: On the 31st, the Rules Committee of the Democratic party will meet in D.C. and be surrounded by Clinton supporters demanding that the Rules Committee change into the Anarchy Committee, discard the rules, and give Hillary Clinton all the Michigan votes in the contest that didn't happen. Yikes! This will be a show. I'll be speaking in New Richmond on Sunday. Plenty to talk about.
May 27, 2008
And the beat goes on
Bill Clinton says there is a conspiracy. Democrats are engaged in a cover-up. They are not telling us about polls, secret ones, showing that (she) Hillary is winning in the general election against McCain and he (Barack) is losing. In fact Bill doesn't think Barack can win. Thanks, Bill. Sorry we had to interrupt your speaking tour for these primaries.
Who knew Bill and Hillary are fans of Rodney Dangerfield? "She gets no respect." According to president Clinton, the Obama people (unnamed) and the media (unnamed) "want Hillary to cry uncle." ("Aunt," perhaps?) Bill, the consummate bully, claims Barack is "pushing, pressuring and bullying" the Super-Doopers to bring this primary to a close. She may be ahead in some poll but he has won the nomination.
C'mon! "Cover up," "bullying," and "no respect?" Yikes.
Wisconsin: Grab your seat! The Government Accountability Board, meeting (I'm not making this up), in secrecy decided they can't investigate Judge Gableman's conduct beyond three years.
Senator Ellis, Republican, said the Legislature refused to follow his lead by giving the watchdog five years. And, reports JS, Ellis claims Governor Doyle froze him out of talks leading to the three-year statute of limitations. Doyle's spokesperson denied the claim.
All we know is Gableman cannot recall if he used state phones to raise money for Scott McCallum, who appointed him to the bench.
The charges are now before J.B. Van Hollen! Whoa Nelly!
J.B. is afraid of the GOP convention. Can you guess what he will do to Gableman?
Question. If gableman committed a felony, would our Court seat him? Are there any standards?
May 26, 2008
The finish line
Bill Clinton's "blood is boiling" because the media has, once again, picked on Hillary. Imagine making a big deal out of her South Dakota statement explaining why she remains in the non-race. Just imagine. Watching Howard Wolfson on "Face the Nation," the message seems to be that Barack should have thanked her for a reminder of our history. I suppose the NAACP should have thanked her for her "hard-working Americans, white Americans" comment. And Democrats one and all should show appreciation for the fact she kept her name on the Michigan ballot while the other candidates did what they agreed to do by removing their names. Now those scoundrels, like Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris in 2000, stand in the way of counting Michigan and Florida in the Clinton win column. Shame on Barack--he should know this ain't bean bags.
Paul Krugman today puts the responsibility for uniting the Party on Barack's shoulders while exonerating Hillary of nearly all sins. But could we, Jon Stewart style, meet on camera 3? Barack now has a commanding lead--1,977 to 1,779. He needs only 49 more votes from the Super-Doopers.
He has won the popular vote and he has carried the most states. What is to be gained by her frenetic efforts at this point? The game is over. Barack won, Hillary lost but the Clintons threaten to take the fight to the convention. What fight? Krugman's solution? Reward Hillary by offering her the Vice Presidency. Unity above all.
Meanwhile, Barbara Lawton, a strong Clinton supporter, sees the end to her candidate's campaign when the Michigan and Florida issues are decided this week in the Rules Committee.
It should not go that way. If the "Super" delegates are really super, a decision should be made to erase the doubt if there is any before the Rules Committee gets the full-Clinton press. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold should help end this mess by getting off the bleacher seats and entering the contest.
Barack needs only 49 more delegates to be the undisputed victor. He carried Wisconsin by 18 percent. Let's go!
Memorial Day: My bias--I got through Law School on the GI Bill. For Bush and McCain to oppose the new GI Bill is unconscionable. The Webb-Hagel bill would make the GI Bill as generous to Iraq veterans as it was to me. But get this from NYT: "Bush and McCain would prefer, to their great discredit, that college benefits remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform will remain in the service." How cynical can you be about those who have risked all for country? Follow McCain on this one!
May 25, 2008
Thanks a lot WMC!
Made coffee, got the paper, sat down to read and enjoy the Sunday NY Times but no such luck. There, for all to see, were pictures of Ruben Lee Mitchell, convicted rapist, next to a picture, familiar to all of us, of Justice Louis Butler. As the NYT reported, "Gableman falsely suggested justice Butler had helped free a rapist." While too late to help Justice Butler, it is not too late for the Court to call Gableman on the carpet. (Physician heal thy self comes to mind.)
The TV spot, as the Times reminds us, had this assertion: "Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with, (as he would be branded, Loophole Louie) on the Supreme Court?" The voters now know that the Supreme Court did not release him early. Whoa Nelly!
When Justice Jon Wilcox received campaign contributions in violation of the rules, he paid a substantial fine and acknowledged that he, as a candidate, is responsible for his campaign. Justice-elect Gableman is responsible for his campaign. If he knowingly lied about the Mitchell case, should he be rewarded with a couple million bucks over 10 years?
Our awful little secret is now out. Our friends around the country know that WMC is buying our Court one justice per year. We learned they had a three year plan--Ziegler first, Butler second, Abrahamson third. Most in the Bar poo-pooed such stories. Well, two down, one to go.
Will they stop when they control six or seven? No way. They will move to take over the Appeals and Circuit Courts.
Jusice Butler told the NYT, "The system is broken and that robs the public of their right to be informed. They should not be making decisions based on ads filled with lies, deception, falsehood and race-baiting."
Time for a do-over; a Mulligan; or, as we have called it, a "Gableman." The contest was intentionaly flawed. Do it over. To do less invites the purveyors of hate to Wisconsin. Then we reward them. That is nuts.
Bad news: Just learned that "Utah" Phillips passed last night. Songwriter, organizer, inspiration. He will live on.
May 24, 2008
Always the victim
I am (almost) at a loss for words. I keep asking myself and anyone who will listen, "What was she thinking?" How could she wander aimlessly into the thicket of RFK's assassination in the context of her bizarre Quixotic effort to reverse the decision of the elected delegates?
There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. The "white Americans" comment, the "count Florida and Michigan and I'm winning," announcement, and now this lollapalooza. She is too smart, politically savvy, and tactical to make such mistakes so are they deliberate? Two out of three?
Trying, once again to fight unseen enemies out to get her, she blew any chance she had to unify the party she has carefully and deliberately divided. She was claiming the mantel of victim again but now the screen has been pulled back and we clearly see the Clintons, not as victims, but aggressors. Bill refusing, like an aging rock star, to leave the stage, and Hillary incapable of accepting the verdict of her Party, motors on. After her comment, most people would step aside but not Hillary--on to Puerto Rico!
Keith Olberman and Dick Durbin summed it up pretty well. Durbin called it "careless" while Keith Olberman identified Hillary's comment as irresponsible and politically career-ending. My diagnosis? She is exhausted and can't shake Bill's demand she take any path that will get him back into the White House.
She should congratulate Obama for becoming the nominee of Bobby Kennedy's Party, send Bill to Fiji, and sleep for a couple of weeks.
What is he thinking? Yesterday's GarveyBlog dealt with our brave Wisconsin Attorney General planning to attend the GOP convention in Minneapolis. He and his side-kick, attorney Ray Taffora, want 24-hour protection while the lion of justice listens to Rev. Hagee and other high-minded speakers roar. J.B. claims some dangerous folks have threatened to disrupt the convention. That is news to the people at the St. Paul Police Department, who "know of no such threats" according to officer Ray Walsh.
Jim Johnson returns to help Barack pick a veep. He vetted candidates for Mondale and we got Geraldine Ferraro; he helped Al Gore and we got a Republican, Joe Lieberman. Whoa Nelly! Who vets the vetter?
May 23, 2008
Can ya blame J.B.?
Our attorney general is one brave guy. On our watch he has agreed to go toe-to-toe with thugs who are considered war criminals in many countries. He will be surrounded by men and women responsible for torture and violation of law by intercepting e-mails and phone calls. Scofflaws who have driven millions of innocent people from their homes. I'm not kidding. Little wonder that he needs protection. Go, J.B., go!
Where will J.B. Van Hollen meet these folks? Catch this in Steve Walters' story in JS: "Top aides to Attorney General Van Hollen are debating whether to use state agents to provide 24-hour security (for Van Hollen) during the Republican convention in Minneapolis."
An agent who questioned this ridiculous waste of taxpayer's dollars was quickly demoted. One of his top political appointees explained the danger to J.B.: "I do not think that an on-duty DCI agent who is protecting the Attorney General at a political event," is wrong. Catch this. Protection is warranted because it is an event at which certain (unnamed) groups have "threatened to violently disrupt."
It is delusional not dangerous. Does the A.G. think terrorists are targeting him? Maybe he needs some help. If Van Hollen is afraid to attend the GOP Convention, he might pick a different job. Researcher for Charlie Sykes perhaps?
C'mon, J.B. Don't be afraid. I'll go with you.
May 22, 2008
What is going on?
Before we could absorb Hillary's determined fight on behalf of "hard-working whites," and cable guys telling us that there are too many racists in America to elect a black man, and if he can't carry Kentucky he might lose New York, the NYT lets us stew on this header: "As Obama Heads to Florida, Jews There Have Their doubts." Yikes!
Just below the fold on the front page was this quote, "They'll pick on the minister thing, they'll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color." Then this quote, "His father was a Muslim and you can't take that out of him," said Ms. Choitner. Egad! Fortunately the NYT also quoted Rabbi Saperstein, Alan Dershowitz, and Joe Lieberman's stepson, speaking in favor of Obama.
As for Joe Lieberman, FightingBob.com carried his speech at the CUFI convention. He praised John Hagee and compared him to Moses. C'mon Joe!
And now to the equivalent of Swift-boating. George Bush went to Israel to join the 60-year celebration and uses that happy occasion to accuse Obama of appeasement similar to Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler! Why? Plant the seed. (The Bushies probably knew that the Rev. John Hagee's pronouncement that God sent Hitler to earth to drive the Jews to Israel was about to surface and wanted a distraction. Or, Bush was trying to scare Jews into rejecting the "appeaser.") Throw enough mud at the wall and some of it will stick.
The report that a senior official in the Bush team suggested, while in Israel, that Cheney and Bush have decided to bomb Iran before leaving office should scare everybody. But the seed is planted and the question posed to Jews is whether Barack is tough enough. Would he "obliterate" Iran as Hillary promised to do if Iran attacked Israel? Meanwhile, the media ignores Rev. Hagee's hate mongering.
Back in reality, oil went to $135 per barrel yesterday. Some predict $200 by Labor day. Gas at the pump? Lookout. Better stay home this summer.
May 21, 2008
Hillary said it again: "We are winning the popular vote." The missing caveat is, of course, "If you give me all the votes in Michigan in violation of the rules and my agreement not to count those votes; and, if you give me all my Florida votes despite the rules and an agreement among all Democratic Party candidates not to campaign in Florida's primary and not to count them, then, maybe, perhaps, possibly, I'm ahead." And as NYT columnist Gail Collins added, "If Puerto Rico becomes a state before June 3..." Really.
Then there is a newly discovered "Democratic coalition", according to the Clinton camp and even the NY Times. (Margaret Mead, move over.) The Times, in listing the challenges facing Obama include "winning over elements of the Democratic coalition, like working-class whites, Hispanics and Jews..." Until Hillary dropped the race bomb, I never heard of the Democratic Coalition consisting of white working class." I thought unions made up of working class people, spoke for them, not a self-appointed candidate. Hard working people of all races, creeds, and backgrounds belong to unions and the unions have, for the most part, endorsed Obama not Hillary. Really.
But on to the contest. Obama has secured the majority of elected delegates. I'm not making this up. His total, including Super-Doopers is 1,956 and Clinton has 1,776. She trails by 180 and only Montana, South Dakota and P.R remain. Obama needs about 60 more delegates to cross the finish line.
The strategy now? Roll the Rules Committee to give Hillary all the Michigan votes, push the Super-Doopers, keep advancing the dangerous and irresponsible race card. Even Chris Matthews is nervous about all the talk about how a black man cannot win the general election. Instead of taking the lead by telling racists to bug off, Hillary and the corporate media keep talking about the whites in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia... C'mon Hillary. Stop the divisive politics based on race.
Any word from Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold? Obama carried Wisconsin by 18 points. It is time to make a decision.
May 20, 2008
Why deal with reality? Make believe is more fun!
I thought there must have been a national computer glitch that caused the popular vote totals in the Clinton-Obama contest to crash. There on my TV screen was Hillary Clinton shouting that she has more popular votes than Obama--in fact more votes than any Democrat running for president has ever received. I thought this will be hot news to Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, but more importantly to the Super-dooper delegates.
Instead of her husband's wagging finger we got Hillary's nodding head to demonstrate, one supposes, that she believes what she just said. Yes, the head nod is all one really needs in the Clinton's make-believe world.
For the record, Obama will clinch the nomination in the real world when the Oregon results roll in tonight. And, the popular vote? Well, Mrs. Clinton is counting all the Michigan votes and her Florida votes. In reality, Barack has 16.4 million and Clinton has 15.7 million. Obama has 1,611 elected delegates and Clinton has 1,444. The NYT reports he needs only 17 more and she needs 182 more to clinch the nomination.
But, hey! Why deal in reality? She will win Kentucky and Puerto Rico, he will win Oregon, so, she would say, let the Supper-doopers decide after they corrupt the process on May 31. (Nod, nod.) Look out! The Rules Committee meets on the 31st of this month and you can bet the ranch the DLC folks will try to move make-believe into the reality column by counting Michigan and Florida. "Rules, smules." Hillary can win. True, the Gallup poll found Barack well ahead of her yesterday but "there you go again" thrusting reality into the deal. Make-believe is more fun. I sure hope Kucinich wins Kentucky, Puerto Rico and Montana.
Roger Breske to Save Our railroads? Better believe it. Jim Doyle has just appointed Senator Breske Railroad Commissioner. The job pays $85,000 plus benefits. Breske's unique credentials for the job were not spelled out in the announcement, but relax. He has been on a train.
Upon accepting the job, he inspired us with these words: "These days the railroads have dwindled down and we have to do something." Would it be impertinent to ask what that "something" is?
May 19, 2008
I have worried for years that the rightwingnuts would kill NPR, PBS, WPR by slowly, ever so slowly, cutting off the flow of public money, thus increasing the dependency on corporate largess. Then, suddenly cutting the private "underwriting" funds while advancing the argument that there is no need for PBS. The enemy of the privatizers used to be the Democrats, but now it is public radio and TV along with the Internet.
Read the item that set off my alarm bells. This header in the NYT: "Lehrer Says News Hour Money Woes Are Worst Ever." He said the tight money is the worst in his 25 years. ADM, the self-proclaimed "super market to the world" cut their underwriting by approximately $7 million. Two corporate sponsors remain, Chevron and Pacific Life. Now that is comforting. After the ADM decision, salaries were frozen and 401(k)contributions suspended at "The News Hour." Imagine if Chevron quits. Whoa Nelly! Don't suppose that the staff might go a little easy on stories about gas prices and insurance problems do you?
Read the article and ask if there is a better way to pay for "public" broadcasting. There must be. We need PBS, WPR, WPTV, NPR, "Frontline," Moyers, "NOW."
Speaking of gas prices, on Saturday, we drove to Michigan through Chicago. Gas in the morning--$3.799; gas coming home--$4.04. And at the last oasis the flashing sign said "no fuel." My guess is that the oil boys will create a "shortage" of gas to shore up their ludicrous arguments justifying the price increase when supplies are up and demand is down. Why not a little "shortage"?
May 18, 2008
"Say it ain't so, Joe!"
The words spoken by a young boy to his idol, White Sox player, "shoeless" Joe Jackson in the movie about the fixed 1919 World Series. (Time and space won't permit the real story of Mr. Commisky, Judge Keenasaw Mountain Landis...but I digress.)
Somehow, as Senator "waffle" from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter said, and I'm not making this up, "The NFL and its athletes are enormous role models for everybody." No kidding, he said that but he could not stop there. Say it ain't so Arlen!
"If you can cheat in the NFL, you can cheat in college, you can cheat in high school, you can cheat on your grade-school math test. There's no limit as to what you can do. Hell. You could become a United States Senator and take contributions from team owners, Comcast, and others." (OK. I made up the U.S. Senator bit.)
The Patriots apparently spied on opposing coaches. And...? Arlen says the integrity of the NFL is at stake. Lemme see. The NFL, the institution that slipped the merger of the NFL and AFL through Congress by giving a franchise to New Orleans to "appease" Hale Boggs and Russel Long is the model of integrity? Could we call that "honest graft"? Or is he thinking about the half-century of the NFL's color barrier, antitrust violations, the refusal to help the old-timers who built the NFL, and broken promises to local stadium authorities? Memo to Arlen--get a grip.
Back to real Patriots:
This week will probably end the Clinton campaign.Out of money and too far behind, she--indeed we--have a chance to come together to wtite a new book on America. Not just a chapter although I can imagine a chapter on race relations; one on Barack and JFK's call to our young people to "ask not..."; I see a new chapter on diplomacy first, war last; I can see a chapter on mutual sacrifice if war becomes necessary. And a chapter on a more humble America.
But racism has not only reared its ugly head, it has become fashionable for the cable guys to accept it as fact not illness. We must do better and demand better. Racism is unacceptable.
We have a chance--let's not blow it.
May 17, 2008
I spoke to 40 people in Waukesha County yesterday--the heart of the GOP. I asked if anyone knew when the GOP state convention was scheduled. Not one hand went up. (Hint. It started last night.) The Party conventions used to be fun and noteworthy. Today, most legislative leaders skip the conventions and the media does as well.
Why? Because the parties play no role in our money driven system. They used to select, train, staff and fund the candidates. Today it is none of the above.
Feeling smug? OK. When is the Democratic convention? By the way, the group had not heard of Fighting Bob Fest but now will charter a bus for our seventh Bob Fest on September 6. More fun by a mile than a GOP convention.
May 16, 2008
Golf or no golf?
The president is nuts. In my view, forget impeachment, keep him sedated. A guardian should be appointed and the red phone hidden. This is scary. He gave up golf because a mother who lost a son in Iraq...some solace that would be. Yikes!
A question or two on the Great Lakes Compact. What was being negotiated if it is identical to the Compact language passed in other states? Why was this done behind closed doors? Why, given New Berlin's water needs, are they happy? Why is everyone so happy?
Hello Russ and Herb...we voted for Barack in February. Time to join the parade?
May 15, 2008
Edwards and Super-Doopers
Got home just in time to watch and listen to John Edwards's endorsement of Barack Obama. He was so eloquent it remains a mystery why he never got more support for his run. But he sure got a rousing response from the Flint, Michigan (yes, that Michigan) crowd.
Why endorse now? Well, one might suggest that the Dems in North Carolina voted for Barack in big numbers but if that was the motivation, why haven't Russ and Herb declared for Wisconsin's favorite candidate?
Maybe Edwards was pushed by conscience as he watched the race card being played by Hillary Clinton but if that were true, why would our two Senators, both on the Judiciary Committee, not jump into the fray shouting "Enough Hillary! Enough!"?
The two Wisconsin College Dems Super-Doopers endorsed Barack yesterday and so did Senator Lena Taylor. So, why are our two Senators afraid of the deep end of the pool?
Compact Passes: We have been urging the Legislature to put aside parochial concerns and pass the Great Lakes Compact. Both houses did just that yesterday. While the process was less than a model of open government, it did pass. Were changes made? Hint--When Republican State Senator, Neal Kedzie, praises the "negotiators" better read it more than once. But for now--congratulations to the Legislature.
Now to the major leagues. When the states out west put a straw in Lake Superior will the Compact save us? Better sleep with one eye open.
May 14, 2008
Remember and hope
Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney were murdered in 1964 because they were bringing change to Mississippi. Two whites, one black, all three heroes. Like Bob Moses, Diane Nash, SNCC and other Civil Rights champions in 1961-1964, they risked their lives to bring the vote to black Americans. Bob Moses was pistol-whipped by the sheriff for bringing middled-aged blacks in to register to vote.
In thinking about their sacrifice, I was saddened to read this headline in the NYT: "Race was an unusually salient factor in Clinton's victory" in West Virginia.
The race card, deftly but transparently played by Bill and Hillary, works--in some places. (Barack won in Nebraska yesterday and Nebraska isn't exactly Harlem. And Vermont, and...you get the picture.) But with pundits, exit pollsters and a candidate willing to play on racial fears, it is suddenly OK to say "hard working Americans, white Americans support me." Or is it OK?
If I could only forget Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner and Moses, I guess I might say, "Congratulations Hillary, you won West Virginia." But I can't. No use shaming the Clintons 'cause they don't listen. So, instead I will focus on the disaster the Democratic Party faces if Barack Obama is defeated because he is black.
Ah, good news: Obama has a commanding lead--1,883 to 1,716.
Anyone heard from Super-Doopers Kohl and Feingold? The Wisconsin primary--58 percent for Barack--took place February 19--about 84 days ago. How long does it take to decide? This would be the perfect moment for our Senators to shout that Democrats don't reward those who exploit racial division. We remember the struggle.
May 13, 2008
Welcome to Red State Wisconsin
We know that the Republicans want to disenfranchise predictable Democratic voters. Students, Hispanics, blacks and seniors. Been doing it for decades. In 2004, long lines due to inadequate number of voting machines in student and minority areas meant fewer voters. No need to review the grand theft of Florida in 2000.
So, knowing that the new plan is to reduce Democratic voters in 2008, what is the 2008 plan and what's to be done? It begins with phony stories of voter fraud and leads to photo IDs. One must recognize the size of the problem. Bruce Murphy, writing in Milwaukee Magazine, gives us the data needed to get people moving.
Catch this: "The ETI study found 14 percent of Wisconsin residents--558,000 people--lack a driver's license or state-issued photo ID. Forty-six percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of African Americans lack photo ID. And 177,000 senior citizens lacked a driver's license or state-issued photo ID."
Grab your seat, I'm not making this up. The study, conducted by the UW-Milwaukee Employment & Training Institute (ETI), found an incredible 82 percent of 18-20-year-olds in college-intensive neighborhoods in Wisconsin lacked driver's licenses issued for the zip code in which they lived. Will they be challenged at the polls? A hint. What is at stake?
If photo ID were to become law in Wisconsin,it would take a massive effort to get photo ID for these groups of likely Obama voters. Red State column, here we come! I think we had better discuss this at Bob Fest.
Wisconsin would, with photo ID, become a red state. Period.
May 12, 2008
I wondered when the hand of Karl Rove would surface. This is his biggest challenge and perhaps his finest hour. A) he was not indicted; B) He is a pundit on FOX Views; and, C) He has hatched a new plan to hold down voter turnout. Like watching a great bridge player make contract with a lousy hand, watching Rove operate is kind of exciting. How will he steal the November 5 election? He knows McCain can't win it on his own. He understands the war is an expensive disaster and the economy is in the tank. So, what's the plan?
Is Wisconsin the key along with Missouri, Michigan and Florida? Like a carney game at the county fair, trying to keep track of the pea is riveting.
In 2000, clearly won by Gore despite the weight of Joe Lieberman on the ticket, Rove & Company used the friendly confines of Florida and the even friendlier Scalialand to steal the election. In 2004, he moved to New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Ohio to "elect" Bush and Cheney. Check out the DVD entitled UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections and you will find part of the answer--the machines!
But there is more. If you thought voter IDs are bad, Missouri is trying to pass a constitutional amendment to require proof of citizenship from all who register to vote. You can bet the farm that Missouri is on the Rove list. Arizona requires proof and the NYT reports 38,000 voter applications have been tossed since 2004. The Mo. Secretary of State thinks the constitutional amendment could disenfranchise up to 240,000 votes. If so, guess who wins the "show-me" state.
Twenty-five states require some form of identification at the polls--seven a photo ID.
While Rove plots along, the Clintons keep the focus on their argument that an African-American can't win. How about some attention to making sure this election is real?
May 11, 2008
Every day for the past five years FightingBob.com has posted a Blog or two and refreshing articles you have sent to us. You are a big part of our success and we thank you. Take today as proof. Read the latest from our regular weekly guest blogger Bill Kraus: "Lawyers in love (with the status quo)." Kraus takes on the lambs in the bar association and forces us to think about the independence of the judiciary. Imagine that!
Then our regular contributor of the written word, John Smart signs in with "Senile as a Fox." He raises the question, will Cheney and McCain team up to invade Iran to help get McCain elected? They are capable of such mischief but could they actually be in the planning stages? John Smart's article will give your Mother's Day brunch group something to chew on.
Cost of War: Lest we forget, the occupation, killing, maiming, and bombing, continues. To this day, the war has cost us $518.7 billion. That is $4,691 per household, 1,721 per person; and $341 million per day. Yikes! Kind of puts a damper on your $600 stimulus package. Gas? $5.00 coming up?
Hooray for Eric Gagne. For non-sports fans he is possibly the best pitcher in baseball to save games. (If the Brewers are leading in the 9th inning, it is his job to stop the other team--and save the victory.) He is not doing so well of late. The blame? Grab your seat, I'm not kidding, he blames himself. He said, "I don't deserve the 9th inning right now." Wow! Imagine if the Bush administration were blessed with that much humility. Gagne for Secretary of State!
We are getting excited about Fighting Bob Fest VII on September 6. A new approach this year as we turn words into action. Stay tuned.
May 10, 2008
It screams off the morning paper--Another contract for the discredited mercenaries! Why? Well, "We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq," says Patrick Kennedy, an undersecretary of state. Think about that statement. Blackwater, under investigation on several fronts: murder, rape and tax avoidance--but we can't live without them? Yikes!
Decision time. Institute a draft or end the occupation. One or the other, but our proud nation cannot permit these scofflaws to represent us. (I suppose the Blackwater folks wear flags in their lapels, but that isn't enough.)
We are going broke, the dollar keeps falling, gas is inching up to $5.00 per gallon, and we pay $10 billion a week on the occupation. And John McCain says, "Don't worry, be happy."
Speaking of McCain, I had not been thinking about his wife's sources of income until she announced, defiantly, "I will never release my tax returns." Really? Now I am curious. You?
Sandra Day O'Connor, in a talk to Marquette University faculty and students, has concluded we should appoint judges not elect them. (I guess Scalia, Thomas, and Alito should convince us that appointment is the better path. I don't think so.) But we must level the playing field for the upcoming campaign. Public financing, disclosure of outide sources of income, rules to protect the Court.
May 9, 2008
Oh my God!
Just when both campaigns began talking about peace and a respectful exit strategy for Hillary, she drops the equivalent of the "F bomb" at the prayer breakfast. I am stunned and it ain't easy to stun me. I've heard just about everything in politics from Trent Lott's suggestion the U.S. would be better off had we followed Strom Thurman's Dixiecrat platform in 1948, to the Rev. John Hagee blaming Katrina on a gay pride parade. But Hillary Clinton is not Trent Lott nor is she loony like Hagee. She is held to a higher standard.
The Clintons have been quietly playing the race card in an appeal to southern whites for a long time. Bill's comparison with Jesse Jackson's 1988 South Carolina victory was just one example. Hillary's Rev. Wright fixation was another. (I reach no conclusion about her recently acquired southern accent.) But she went way off the farm yesterday. Way, way off.
In her USA Today interview she claimed she would be a better candidate than Barack because a recent poll showed that Senator Obama's support among (I'm not making this up--even the NYT carries it in an editorial today) working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again. There's a pattern emerging here."
The NY Times agrees: "Yes, there is a pattern--a familiar and unpleasant one."
Then the editorial reflects the sentiments in my blog of yesterday. "The undeclared superdelegates should stop their coy posing" and get on with it. There is no justification for delay in taking on John McCain.
As for Hillary, she ought to be ashamed of herself. Fostering racial division is a grave insult to her supporters, her Party and our country. It is time for her Wisconsin team to help Barack deal with racial division. The primary is over. He won, she lost. A phony "count the votes" chant Tuesday in Indiana sounded tinny and manufactured. Her interview is shocking.
Time for action Herb, Russ, Paula and Lena. Your Party has been pushed to the brink of disaster by a sore loser who appears ready to take down the winner and damn the consequences. Why? Another run in 2012? Pay back? Whatever the reason it is not a pursuit of lofty goals.
There is time to heal but not much and apparently healing will take place, if at all, without Hillary and Bill Clinton. But the process can and should begin now, in Wisconsin.
May 8, 2008
No matter what Hillary Clinton says about soldiering on to West Virginia, Kentucky, and the other primaries, it is off the front pages. Everyone knows it is over, and there is nothing left to cover. If no one is in the forest we don't know for sure if the falling tree made a noise, and if Obama and Clinton are not competing the news people won't cover Hillary's rallies, fund raisers or ideas. A one-horse race is no fun and the fun is gone, the game is over, Obama is going to be the nominee.
The problem is not her gritty determination to go on it is the subliminal message, openly stated by one of her inner circle after her Pratt-fall in Indiana, that is the problem: "She can't get the nomination and Obama can't win in November." If her decision to fight on even though it is over is sending that signal, the Democrats are in deep doo-doo.
And the signal? That an African-American can't win in America? Whoa Nelly! It is time to send a distress signal to our SUPER-DOOPERS. Herb Kohl remains undecided; Russ Feingold voted for Barack and is "inclined to support him" but not yet? His aide, Paula Zellner, understandably has to wait for Russ. Lena Taylor? C'mon, Lena.
I want a woman president in my lifetime and I want a new chapter in race relations in my lifetime. The latter should happen this November and if the Clinton camp is responsible for another white male, John McCain, winning in November, the Party is indeed over.
We can't tell the Clintons what to do, but we can ask Wisconsin's super delegates to get involved. We elected you to lead. What are you waiting for?
May 7, 2008
On to the White House!
So said Hillary Clinton after Barack's stunning 14-point victory in North Carolina while Indiana was still "too close to call." My night began with decisions--tune in Keith and his screaming colleague Chris Matthews; check C-SPAN; or turn to CNN and a guy named Wolf? Nervous time. The Clinton team had talked about a surprise "game changer" coming soon in N.C. and the first news on MSNBC--the irrepressible Terry McAuliff, seemed giddy about what was about to happen.
Face it, the forces of darkness were ready to shove Barack off-stage had she won Indiana in double digits, as predicted, and North Carolina by any margin. She didn't and the Ever-ready-bunny McAuliff was not seen again.
It was one hell of a victory for Barack Obama. He picked up 19 more delegates and two-hundred-thousand more popular votes. He is, as you know, getting close to the number needed. For the record, Indiana-- Clinton 51 Obama 49; N.C. Obama 56 Clinton 42.
Barack's speech was inspirational while Hillary seemed to be facing reality. She seemed to be saying "it is over" but the words continued to challenge Barack on the gas tax. "On to the White House" was her call, but the look on Bill's face said, "We will need a visitor's pass." And the nasty Lanny Davis, the Clinton's pit bull, lashed out at every former Clinton "traitor."
The only one looking more stunned than Bill Clinton was Chris Matthews. If it is over, who will tune in Hardball?
Nothing good can happen in the remaining primaries. All she can do is tear down Barack--can't catch him in delegates or popular vote total. It all ended last night. Ah, but the yellow caution light came on--"Count the votes" was the chant--you know, Michigan and Florida. Pahhhleeeze!
A new chapter is about to begin.
May 6, 2008
The more I listen to the talkers the more confused I become. It fascinates me how TV anchors making hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year can seriously question if Barack is an elitist. What are they? Men of the people? I've reached the conclusion that it is more about one's university than one's mother and father or even life experiences. Given Barack's tremendous achievement of being elected the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, the talkers suggest he must be smarter than they are so write him off as an elitist. (In Adlai Stevenson's day he would be an "egghead.") And spending years as a community organizer--elitist?
All I know is that I'm sick of George, Charlie, Wolf, Brian and Joe. But they do shape the debate and that is too bad. Today is the most important day for Barack since Iowa. Win North Carolina and it is game, set, and almost match.
The crowd in Indianapolis last night for Obama's finish was breath-taking. No other politician since Bobby Kennedy could draw a crowd that size. And the speech? Tremendous.
Back in Wisconsin, the JS reports that Gwen Moore is on the road for Barack. Given his 18 percent victory in Wisconsin, little wonder she joins Dave Obey, Governor Doyle and most Wisconsin delegates in supporting Barack. (One off-key note: Russ Feingold has not decided yet.)
Bill Berry writes a superb article today, "Rooting for Sustainability." And regular contributor John Smart hits an issue most of us missed in "Whale of a job, Brownie."
For my part, I'm getting excited about Bob Fest VII on September 6. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature will get us moving to save our planet if it is not too late.
See you tomorrow after the anchors tell us how to read the results in North Carolina and Indiana.
May 5, 2008
Ah, the end is near
Yes, indeed, tomorrow we get Indiana and North Carolina. Barack won Guam by 5 votes over the weekend. Good thing he did not fly to Guam to win their 4 delegates. Instead, like Texas, Hillary and Barack split the four. (The likely Michigan and Florida solution.)
Best line of the weekend? Hillary sent a surrogate to argue her position on the gas tax. Barack pointed out the Clinton surrogate is a lobbyist for Shell Oil. "This is truly a shell game," Barack deadpanned.
Best question? George Stephanopoulos: "Senator Clinton, can you name one serious economist who favors your gas tax proposal?" Answer was Clinton-speak about "elites." Nice try, George. He then got second place, too, for asking if her campaign "would ever release the names of donors to her husband's foundation?" Her response? "No." Or was it NO?
Best new line: Barack, "Politics did not drive me to working people. Working people drove me to politics." Take that, Rocky!
Best student? Hillary, so says Robert Reich: "She has learned how to be ruthless."
Best understatement goes to "Rocky" Clinton: "I'm no shrinking violet."
Good news for all of us? All things come to an end. This primary is almost over. Get ready, John McCain.
May 4, 2008
Who will tell the people?
The title of Bill Greider's great book was borrowed by Thomas Friedman in the Sunday Times. I always knew that eventually Friedman would write a column I agreed with, and sure enough, today is the day. Catch this, "Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is 'toughening up Barack' so he'll be able to withstand Republican attacks.
"Sorry, we don't need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people...we are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes." Well said, Thomas Friedman.
Will Rev. John Hagee, McCain's guy, join Cheney in leading us to bomb-bomb Iran to divert attention from the failed surge? When will gas reach $5 at the pump? Is anybody thinking about breaking up the oil companies? Or taxing their outrageous profits? Have we lost Afghanistan as surely as we have lost Iraq? (Remember a few weeks ago when Gates flew to Munich to urge the Europeans to send more troops to Afghanistan? The NY Times reported then, "Mr. Gates said he would speak directly to the people of Europe, and not to their governments...Gates acknowledged that there was a risk in making a personal appeal to Europeans for support in stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan..." Guess what? It didn't work and this week we will send 7,000 more American troops to Afghanistan!)
Forget the silly gas-tax moratorium. Who will tell the people we are going broke? We can't afford one war let alone two.
Now the table has been set. If Barack wins N.C. it is all but certain he will be the nominee. Indiana? No way. (He won Guam by seven votes. One in N.C. is enough.)
May 3, 2008
They stole the fun
"They" would be the Clintons and their bully-surrogates. The "fun they stole" is the enjoyment and excitement of the campaign this year. Not just the excitement of the Obama campaign, but the pleasure we felt when Kucinich, Biden, Dodd and Richardson were on stage. (While I was pulling for Edwards, he wasn't much fun.)
They were the "best and the brightest" and Democrats were proud of their candidates and looking forward to November. "Our turn" was the refrain. But a funny thing happened on the way to Denver. Bill Clinton, James Carville, and Howard Wolfson pushed the nasty button, turned to scorched earth tactics, and seemed to holler, "This is our party--if Hillary doesn't get the nomination, we will defeat Barack," and poof! The fun was gone. When Richardson endorsed Obama, Carville called him "Judas." Judas? Whoa Nelly! But the below-the-belt punch may have worked on Edwards who has remained on the sidelines--even in his own state.
Then there was the Hillary pause on 60 Minutes, the Bill Clinton comparison with Jesse Jackson's 1988 South Carolina victory, Bill claiming the Obama camp (incredibly) played the race card on him) the Rev Wright's 10 days on stage and Hillary's confession that she would have quit his church. Then she and McCain passed the commander-in-chief test...the 3:00 a.m. phone call.
The Clintons hint to super delegates that Barack cannot win. (Could any African American win?) It is clear that the Clinton tactics have worked. If she and Bill win in North Carolina--look out Barack, the bullies will roll you.
May 2, 2008
The White House press secretary, Dana Pereno, said they should have been more specific five years and 3,900 soldiers' lives ago. I'm not kidding. Should have said, "Mission Accomplished for troops on this ship."
Bush now holds the record: 71 percent disapprove of his handling of the job. Don't you wonder about Cheney's numbers? But they still have power and some of us think they will bomb Iran to prove it and to help John McCain. They want some good news or a diversion from the failure of the surge, and bombing Iran could provide it for McCain. Whoa Nelly!
Gotta love politics. Bill Clinton ("they played the race card on me") appointed Joe Andrew as chair of the DNC. He is today a super delegate from Indiana, but he switched from Hillary to Barack and, guess what? The Clinton campaign questioned whether he is from Indiana. C'mon.
Average for a gallon of regular is now $3.60. I heard a mention of this odd fact ob PBS. "Supplies are up and demand is down. It is hard to explain the rising prices." Really? How about price gouging for starters. Shell's first quarter profit--9 billion dollars; BP's profit $7.6 billion. Break up the oligopoly and prices will suddenly trend downward.
May 1, 2008
Can it be? I heard a news program without a single mention of the Reverend Wright. Huzzah! Much more fun to watch Hillary try to figure out how a gas pump works. And, of course, the analysis of the brilliant McCain-Clinton 18-cent gas tax moratorium. That ought to teach BP. C'mon. If the Clintons are not attacking Obama they seem to be working in tandem with the hapless McCain.
Here is the latest:
Pledged delegates: Obama 1,732 Clinton 1,597 (Obama leads by 135.)
Super delegates: Obama 244 Clinton 263 (Clinton leads by 19)
Total-- Obama 1976 Clinton 1860 (Obama lead: 116)
Iraq: Oh yes, almost forgot. April--deadliest month since September. The surge didn't work, so bomb Iran? (Let's invade Grenada again--it went just fine.)