June 30, 2008 Surely you jest
"U.S. Advised Iraqi Ministry on Oil Deals." Once again, the leftist NYTmust be stirring up trouble by falsely suggesting that our country is involved in the decision to grant no-bid contracts for our oil, temporarily under ground in Iraq, to ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and BP. Yikes! Is there no end to the cynical perspective suggesting that we invaded Iraq for oil?
C'mon! We did not do that. We invaded Iraq to spread democracy and to make certain that Iraq's sophisticated nuclear weapons would not be dropped on Fargo.
So, here we go (says NYT): "In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting contracts, advisers and a senior State Dept. official said." I say nonsense.
First of all, there would not be an Oil Ministry had the U.S. invaders not guarded it during shock and awe and afterward. The claims by the irresponsible lefties at the Times are as nutty as Alan Greenspan's latest book in which he said it was "war for oil." (He must have been misquoted.)
In case you may be tempted to think that our country is involved I have absolute, irrefutable proof it was not. First, Condi Rice said, "The U.S. government has stayed out of the matter of awarding the Iraq oil contracts. It's a private sector matter." And she said that on Fox News, so you know she is a truth-teller or the gang at Fox would have ripped her apart. I like Condi.
If that is not enough for the lefties, Dana Perino said, "Iraq is a sovereign country and it can make decisions based on how it feels that it wants to move forward in its development of its oil resources." (OK, OK, she forgot to mention the gun to their head, but that is a detail.) I trust Dana, don't you?
Take that, you doubting Thomases. Take that. I am canceling my subscription to the "Pravda" Times.
June 29, 2008 Really?
Justice Annette Ziegler met with the JS editorial board and the softballs were duly noted. To show what a good winner she is, she will not raise money to repay the debt she and her millionaire husband lent to her campaign. A mere $823,000 will leave a ping in their bank statement. But that's okay because Mr. Ziegler is on the bank board and he need not anticipate a call on his loans.
She thinks negative TV spots are just dandy because the public "has a very good compass and they're able to sift through the rhetoric..." She defends self-funded campaigns because if a candidate does not, "it increases the likelihood that your campaign is, A, funded by people who donate to your campaign and B, the message is driven by outside interests." (Sort of the Herb Kohl "No one's senator but yours" approach to justice.) How about a rule prohibiting law firms from making contributions? And, you have closed the books on your last campaign. Are they open for the next race?
If you would take a contribution for the next one, what are the rules you will impose on yourself and your Bank Director husband? More loans?
She did join the other justices in asking the Legislature to publicly finance elections, but in the Journal Sentinel meeting she seemed to lack enthusiasm: "There aren't a lot of great options there as far as I'm concerned."
All in all, the loan, if considered an investment, was pretty good. She will earn $1.5 million over her term, so the $823,000 loan will pay off.
Housing Crisis:NYT reports today that 6 million homeowners may face foreclosure. Conservatives say the government should not get involved as that might reward foolish investments. Nonsense! Speaking of foolish investments, we spend $341 million per day on Iraq--how about one week's worth to save six million people who could soon be on the street?
June 28, 2008 'Taliban imperil Pakistani city' That NYT headline should grab your attention. The story is a sad one. Pakistan is coming undone. "In the 1980's the Americans used the city as rear base for the mujahedeen, the Islamic fighters, supplied by Washington to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden came here ...20 years ago. Mr. bin Laden held meetings at a house here that gave birth to Al Qaeda."
So, how's our old ally Osama doing? And this is called "the good war" by many, including Barack Obama on the campaign trail. Don't we learn anything? If the Brits could not hold Afghanistan; if the Soviets could not hold Afghanistan; why would the U.S. do better? (The terrain alone should tell us something.)
We have had many comments on the Obama decision to become the first candidate to opt out of presidential public funding. Read our regular GuestBlogger Bill Kraus for his take on the decision.
June 27, 2008 No flamethrowers, please
I sure miss justices Brennan, Warren, Frankfurter and Black. Their decisions were interesting and erudite. Catch the latest from Justice Scalia, the favorite of W. and McCain. He wrote, "The American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon...it is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency (easier than a howitzer, flamethrower, or grenade launcher one supposes. Evidence? Nah!)"
I made up the howitzer, flamethrower and grenade launcher part. Scalia didn't write that, but read on, McDuff: "It (the handgun) is easier to use for those without upper body strength to lift and aim a long gun. It can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."
That's it. He is nuts. And, my guess is he has never fired a handgun in his life. It ain't as easy as you think, Antonin. (Cheney wisely gave him "long guns" in the duck blind.)
The decision by gun-totting Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts and Alito is not as bad as we feared. Scalia wrote that the Second Amendment's protections apply only to weapons in common use, like rifles and pistols." Park your flame-thrower at the church door!
Where's the proof of any of this? Oh, just bring hundreds of lawsuits and we'll figure it out.
Ah, but there is some good news. The Court struck down the so-called "Millionaire's Amendment" that attempted to level the playing field for the non-millionaires. Several House and Senate millionaires were seen doing cartwheels on the lawn. One screamed, "Take that you rabble! Go inherit a million bucks like we did!"
June 26, 2008 Who won?
"Mrs. Clinton will introduce some of her top donors to Mr. Obama on Thursday night in Washington," says the New York Times. What? Who are these heavy breathers who need an introduction to the nominee? Mark Penn, per chance? Terry McAuliffe, the boy scout who acts like he is on a serious over-dose of amphetamines? Given Obama's fundraising prowess, and in light of her reckless spending, shouldn't he introduce her to his heavy hitters?
The Clintons supposedly owe $22 million dollars to someone. Would it be impertinent to ask for some transparency? If we read between the lines, most of the money is owed to the Clintons. Pardon me, but who gets paid first? The vendors, staff, or Bill?
The Clintons are adults and they made the decision to double-down as the primary season came to a close. Was that a wise decision? Had it worked the easy answer would be affirmative. But isn't it unseemly for the power team to ask Barack to pick up the tab after the Clinton banquet? And, Hillary wants a plane if she is expected to campaign; and her staff won't get paid next week; and Bill? Well, he did it again.
He is "obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to get Obama elected." Calm yourself Bill; don't overdo your enthusiasm. But if you would actually do whatever is asked, how about a $250,000 speech every day until the Convention? That could bring in more than $17 million. That would eat a big hole in the debt.
And the Clintons are now insisting on a major role at the Denver Convention. In 1992, presumptive nominee Bill Clinton refused to permit a speech from Jerry Brown until the Brown delegates bought whistles and threatened to disrupt the other speeches. Clinton finally agreed to "let Jerry speak!" (Had Hillary won, would Barack be featured in Denver?) The speech cop for Clinton in 1992? Harold Ickes. What goes around, often comes around.
June 25, 2008 Why I hate June 30
If you have fought for an end to our corrupt political system over the years, June 30 is like a hot poker applied to your buttocks (not one of Carlin's seven words). Why? Because it is on this date that lots of candidates call, e-mail, or write (some do all three) and others throw in a fund raiser at a local tap. The message is, "We have a (insert one) critical, crucial, important, election-deciding deadline coming up on June 30." Give $500, $250, $100--hell, I'll take five bucks. Why is June 30 crucial/critical/key to success? I'm not making this up. On June 30, financial disclosure reports are due. The candidates would have you believe this report is critical because "that's when political observers (called consultants) and the media will look at our financial strength and decide if we can win."
No kidding. They all say that. Not because of an issue like ending the occupation of Iraq, NCLB, floods, and scandals. No, it is solely to satisfy people you will never meet! In Washington, D.C. no less. These folks and the wise media will hand out report cards and pigs will learn to fly.
Translated, the message means, if you give some money today and beat or meet the deadline, a consultant can get paid and that, friends, will possibly decide the election! (In any event, it means that if you give you will get another appeal for the "all-important" Setember 30 deadline when the media will really be watching. And don't put away your Visa card or check book--November is really, really, really critical. Not for a woman's choice or flood damage--it is the election to determine the leadership in the State Senate, Assembly, House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate.
Ooops! I forgot. It is also the presidential race where the Democrat concluded that the promise of a piddly $84 million from the public proves "the system is broken." I think I'll wait to contribute. Eighty-four million?
June 24, 2008 Feingold on target
When asked about the decision of Barack to opt out of public financing, Russ spoke for many advocates of public financing: "I wish he had not done that."
Asked by Amy Goodman, "What do you think of the Democrataic compromise on FISA?" Feingold said, "It is a sad moment for America and for the Democratic party. It is no compromise it is capitulation."
I'll miss George Carlin, arrested in Milwaukee for using the seven words. More than the seven words, his insightful commentary was always funny and on target. From the NYT: "His humor was always a little subversive and aimed at puncturing hypocrisy and feel-goodism. He hated religion, corporate and government doublespeak, shopping malls and trendy child rearing practices."
Like nearly all Democrats running in the Iowa caucuses, Obama gave full endorsement of ethanol. Now he gets plenty of advice from Tom Daschle, who serves on the corporate boards of three ethanol companies.
Life in politics is complicated, and I'm reminded of the old saw that "to every complex problem there is a simple solution--and it is always wrong." The issues are many and the choices fraught with danger. Should Barack support the huge subsidies to ADM and other producers--fifty-one cents per gallon? Should he oppose the 54-cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol made from cane sugar? Are we driving the world's poor into starvation with escalating corn prices? If so, what do we do?
Meanwhile, John McCain hugs the free trader position by opposing the tariff on Brazilian ethanol. Trust the market seems to be his position. (Oops! There goes the Brazilian vote!)
Before rolling over it caught my attention that Bill Clinton has not yet endorsed Barack Obama. Oh well.
June 22, 2008 Ever wonder?
Do you wonder why we begin almost every day writing for FightingBob.com? Why we get excited with articles you write?
Six years ago, Bob Fest attendees asked us to create a progressive Internet news & views magazine and we did. Yesterday was proof that the idea was a good one. We covered the Midwest Energy Renewal fair; talked with, listened to, and videotaped our friend Jim Hightower; and met lots of progressives who are already planning for our seventh Fighting Bob Fest.
Perhaps in a rush to publish, JS did not describe the Reason Foundation for its readers. The Reason Foundation is another corporate front espousing the libertarian philosophy. You know, less government, fewer regulations, private beats public every time; and privatize darned near everything. Their theme? "Free Minds and Free Markets."
Poole, cited with reverence by JS, opposes light rail and expansion of public transportation of any variety. (His goal may be to paint Ron Paul as a liberal.) Odd that Poole is noticed and noted by JS just as three-quarters of Americans now support more funding of public transportation. (To JS's credit, they also published an opposing view.) Keep your eyes wide open.
Fighting Bob Fest is shaping up to be our best yet. Good news on speakers, breakout sessions, and a call to action.
Justice Wants a Clean Campaign next April. Chief Justice Abrahamson said that. Don't we all? But WMC spokesman Jim Pugh suggests that WMC does not. "She has the worst voting record--worse than Justice Butler." Buckle your seat belts.
June 21, 2008 Money and those who raise it
I suggest you read our weekly guest blogger, Bill Kraus, this morning. He is on target as usual. Civility is MIA in politics today and one reason is that an army of consultants, moving from campaign to campaign like migrant workers, is always, always bugging the candidate to "get on the phone--raise the money." Why is it vital to raise the money? Well, of course, to pay the consultants and to go negative.
Barack has changed his mind and will opt out of the puny $84 million in public funding. I tried to defend him last night--the system is broken; now he can go after red states that have not been in play; he never formally committed...McCain will have RNC and 527 funds...I trotted out all the arguments but there was a tinny sound. I wish he would have stayed with the offer he made to McCain. He will soon learn that they always have more money and 2008 is no exception.
Meanwhile the headline in the Appleton Post Crescentsaid, "Doyle to keep the fund raising cash". The Republicans had the cheek to suggest that the governor should give the money raised at a golf outing at the UW golf course to flood victims. (The outing was $1,250 per golfer. More to sponsor a hole.)
OK, it was silly to ask him to put the money in the flood victim's account, but what is Doyle thinking? Is the money to help Obama, Assembly Dems, Steve Kagan, or is it to get ready for another term in two years>? Fund raising, like nicotine, is addictive. We need public funding not thousand-dollar golf outings. Neither Barack nor Doyle advanced the cause this week.
June 20, 2008 Energy
No, I'm not talking about breakfast food. I'm focused on the crisis.
Yesterday, we blogged on the big oil companies stealing oil in Iraq with a fountain pen, to borrow a line from Pretty Boy Floyd. Familiar names--ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron but "Total"? What is Total? It does sound like breakfast food. Well,it turns out it is the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world. Who knew? These days of corporate spin, mergers, and acquisitions you don't even know where to protest. Ah, yes--the estimated profit from Iraq oil? It is $4.725 billion! The invasion was worth it! (Do you think that Bush 41 might make a few bucks from "wise investments" through the Carlyle Group? I do.)
What do we do? I would begin in Custer, Wisconsin, this weekend at the 19th annual Energy Fair. The ReNew the Earth Institute shows "how to change the world while having fun." Now that sounds a lot like Fighting Bob Fest and it reminds us that Jim Hightower will be in Baraboo on September 6 and, more good news, he will speak this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Energy Fair as well.
I'll be there at booth N9 indoors. Hope to see you on Saturday.
"Capitulation not a compromise," said Russ Feingold about the proposed FISA deal to give immunity to telecom companies. It is amazing. The administration breaks the law, spies on all of us, and Congress goes to the ball game. Privacy is dead. And we thought it was bad in the McCarthy period? Yikes!
Catch this headline in NYT: "U.S. Says Exercise by Israel Seemed Directed at Iran." Gee. You think so? The article says, "More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters...and Israeli helicopters and refueling tankers flew 900 miles--the same distance between Israel and Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Nantanz."
Warning! They are going to do it. They will bomb iran. Who is "they?" Well, ask Dick Cheney. Shaul Mofaz, deputy prime minister (the guy who will likely take over if Ehud Olmert goes to prison on corruption charges), said Israel might not have a choice: "If Iran continues with its program we will attack." We will attack. Think about that and ask how the U.S. became a passive observer (enabler?) of the Israeli foreign policy. We will attack. McCain would applaud, Democrats in Congress would duck, Bush would help in the attack, and Barack? Vegas isn't taking bets.
June 19, 2008 Oh boy!
The lead story in the NYT, under the headline "Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back" tells us all we need to adopt a new policy in Iraq.
Grab your seat folks, here we go. "ExxonMobil, Shell, Total and BP, along with Chevron...are in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for, I'm not kidding, "no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest oil fields...The no-bid contracts are unusual for the industry...".
And the denouement: "There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the U.S. had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract." Ah, c'mon! Would we go to war for oil companies? How cynical.
And that's not all. These companies get a right of first refusal. In other words, if, down the road, some other companies bid for the oil, our pals can "match bids" so they can keep the work. Needless to say, those already operating will have a huge advantage over new bidders.
Security? Security? As the number 4,095 killed in Iraq is printed in the same story (Gerard M. Reed), guess who will provide security for big oil. You guessed it--our sons, daughters and grandchildren. Well, I say nuts to that. If BP and the other big boys get the contracts, let them hire BLACKWATER. Get our troops out of there now! This is an outrage. ExxonMobil's profits are not worth one soldier's life.
June 18, 2008 Polls and more polls
Polls and pundits have made it easy for us to stay home, avoid street protests, or even vote. Every day there is a new poll; "white women over 60 with college degrees who belong to more than one club favor Obama 32-31." Now the Political Science Department at UW-Madison has entered the game. (All you need to get recognized are numbers and a good name. Nobody knows how the poll was really conducted or the pollster's record, but hey, it beats going to meetings.)
Here is the result of the "Do you like him/her and if so, how much?" UW poll.
Combining "strongly favorable" and "somewhat favorable" the results tell us something but not much.
Herb Kohl 65%
Russ Feingold 59%
Jim Doyle 57%
Van Hollen 23% (Oops!)
Oh, and Obama beats McCain 50-37 so no need to worry about turnout, meetings, and all the rest. And 62 precent believe the Lakers will beat the Celtics in game six--why watch?
Water damage: A modest suggestion to the Doyle administration. Given the uncertainties of future weather patterns, dare we think--global warming, and given the absurd price of gas, would you please put the $1.9 billion I-94 project on hold?
June 17, 2008 How did we get into this mess?
Words spoken by Katharine Lyall just last year. Former UW President Lyall warned that privatization is on track and will, in essence, soon swallow UW-Madison.
In fact, she said de facto privatization is already here! The reason? The one oft-repeated here from the late Frank Remington, the personification of the Wisconsin Idea. He said years ago: "Wisconsin will have to choose--large prisons or a great university system." Lyall did not put the blame on prisons but pointed out that state support of the UW is only 18 percent and headed south. In her view, other "constituents" contributing significant amounts deserve a place at the table.
In essence, she says, brace yourself: One day you will wake up and it will be Private U not the great state university of Wisconsin. In that scenario we could anticipate WMC setting admissions policy. (Hell they select our judges, why should students get a free pass?)
Curriculum? George Will, new member of the Bradley Foundation Board can handle that task. Overall direction? How about Mark Belling and Charlie "Bradley Foundation fellow" Sykes on the board of governance. Whoa Nelly!
Did the Regents ask Biddy Martin if she understands that her fiduciary duty runs to us and not WMC?
Wisconsin Way: I'm not making this up. The JS calls the Wisconsin Way, founded at the Madison Club for Madison Club members, "a grass roots organization." Really. This front designed to focus on property taxes rather than who pays and who does not, is a perfect example of why those at the top are, in Bill Moyers' words, "Winning the class war they started." Grass roots. Paahhleeze. See you at the Club.
June 16, 2008 Biddy meet Scott Carolyn "Biddy" Martin will soon be the new Chancellor at UW Madison. Scott Walker is a Milwaukee-based privatizer and Milwaukee County Executive. Both will play significant roles in our future. Will Biddy go with the privatizers or will she defend our great state university from the attack led by Walker and Sykes?
Walker wants to be governor and he knows that the path will be cleared for him by the Charlie Sykes/Bradley Foundation folks who would sell the sidewalks if they could. But first he must, ala Grover Norquist, shrink government to the size that it could be "drowned in a bathtub."
Walker has no privatized success stories to tell, so he relies instead on balderdash in calling for more privatization of governmental services and the sale of physical assets. Like those who sold the Milwaukee Public Museum of Natural History that damned near bankrupted the 100-year-old institution, Walker tells us that privatizing Mitchell Airport will save lots of tax dollars. Like a guest on "Antiques Roadshow," Walker thinks everything has a price and his role as an elected official is to get the best price and damn the consequences. Forget the people served by government and focus on the sale! Take short-term gain and forget that the profit-maximizers will rob us in the future. (Selling the parks, closing the swimming pools, and more vouchers for schools will permit him to seek statewide office on a silly "No new taxes or increased old ones" platform. He should say, "No government--social Darwinism.")
Biddy Martin will take a pay cut to accept perhaps the best job in Wisconsin. She will be paid about half a million per year plus house, car, etc. One hopes she will not compromise the integrity of the UW by serving on corporate boards with those who think like Walker. (She shouldn't serve on union boards either for that matter.)
And, one hopes that her first priority, "higher faculty salaries," will not lead her down the path of UW privatization. It is time to lead. As Hightower's book proclaimed, "Even a dead fish can go with the flow."
Spend less on prisons, more on education, build a better Wisconsin.
No explanation from super delegates Herb Kohl or Russ Feingold for disregarding the results of the Wisconsin primary won by Obama with an impressive 18 percent margin. (Both endorsed Obama the day after he had secured the nomination. Why did they wait?)
No discussion noted about the silliness of a small "d" Democratic party having Super-Dooper delegates. If they don't listen to the people...well you get the idea. Isn't it time to permit real voters not self-styled super delegates the chance to nominate candidates? You know, isn't it time to follow the dictates of Fighting Bob? The only thing missing from the smoke-filled rooms is the smoke!
Sad news--Sue and Tom Holmes lost their Baraboo home-building business to the flood. They are fine but face tough rebuilding. Our thoughts are with them.
The Media Reform conference in Minneapolis, attended by 3,500, continues in the news. Check today's freshly posted Article. Listen to Bill Moyers telling Laura Boyd that FightingBob is "one of my favorite sites."
Hearts out to all suffering from the floods. I'm eager to hear Bill McKibben's take on the change in weather patterns. McKibben will keynote Fighting Bob Fest on September 6.
June 14, 2008 Sure hope not
Whoa Nelly! Did Democratic senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad receive special treatment from Countrywide for their mortgages? Dodd said, "As a United States Senator, I would never ask or expect to be treated differently than anyone else in refinancing their home." OK, I believe him. But, whether or not he asked, did he get favorable treatment?
Conrad said his excellent credit rating is the reason Countrywide gave him good terms. "I thought I was getting 'good service' from a capable loan officer. I felt I was getting special treatment but not a special rate." Yikes!
Place this in context with our good friend Bernie Sanders, whose "Letters from Vermont" are featured in the latest piece by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Bernie said he was blown away by the "volume of responses to his request for emails from his constituents and the depth of the pain" experienced by real people in this economy. One man wrote, "Today I am sad, broken, and very discouraged...winter is behind us but now gas prices are rising yet again. I just can't keep up." He would not receive special treatment from Countrywide.
Democratic Convention: For those who couldn't attend because of flood waters they have been forced to read someone's blog about hospitality rooms and food, e.g. "The Doyle-Lawton campaign" he blogs, "controlled the bar in Holiday Inn Ruby's restaurant while a 3-piece rock band played to a largely subdued crowd." Talk about cognitive dissonance--rock band? Doyle?
The only news I could find was about a Clinton delegate, Debra Bartoshevich, who said she will vote for Hillary in Denver and for John McCain in November. Talk about your skunk at the picnic. Joe Wineke is mad as hell and will try to deny her credentials in Denver. Really.
New group, Advancing Wisconsin, apparently has lots of money. Headed by Megan Mahaffey, who served as the Doyle selection for executive director of Democratic Party until last week, will have lots of paid staff. Should be interesting.
June 13, 2008 Oh, Scalia!
Poor Scalia. Bush is about to vacate the White House before he could convince four of his colleagues to burn the constitution. He will never again enjoy the view from the mountain that he climbed in Bush v. Gore when the majority, pushed by Scalia, in the classic result-oriented decision, appointed W. president of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay was his opportunity. He could get rid of that pesky habeas corpus but only three others joined him.
Obviously in need of an anger management program (he should attend with John McCain) Scalia hollered, yea screamed, that permitting prisoners the right to challenge detention "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." Proof? Scalia knows what Scalia knows! (I wonder if he is auditioning for a program on FOX Views. Perhaps he is lonely at the Court. Time to quit?)
And then there is Bush the cowboy president: "I strongly agree with those who dissented." (Put up your dukes, Kennedy, was on his tongue.) Was there a question pending? I say, hooray for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Stephen Bryer and, the writer of the opinion, Anthony Kennedy. But look at the five and you will see why it is critically important to imagine a "McCain Court" or an "Obama Court." Any supporter of Hillary Clinton who says it doesn't matter who wins in November should listen to the argument. The next president could appoint four members of the Court. If you liked Bush v. Gore you will love the review of Roe v. Wade written by Scalia.
Democrats meet tonight in Stevens Point. Jim Doyle will give the keynote. (Rumor has it that Joe Wineke will soon step down as Party Chair.) One hopes the 500 delegates will insist that the governor push public financing of Court elections--at a minimum.
June 12, 2008 Open government? Why bother?
The Journal-Sentinel editorial board has come down four-square in favor of poor little Wal-Mart in the battle for Muskego's future. The JS editors argue that a citizen group "Muskego First" is out of line by urging a recall of elected officials, apparently, even if they deliberately mislead their constituents by hiding details of negotiations between Wal-Mart and the city.
One would think that a newspaper would fight for transparency in government. But, alas, not so. "Citizens absolutely have a right to be heard." Wow! Jefferson would applaud. But not so fast. Apparently, if they can be heard at one meeting, they should then shut-up and accept their lot. Be reasonable folks.
"Officials are elected to use their best judgment. They shouldn't be subject to recall when they do, just because someone disagrees with them."
Had it not been for a recall, Perrier would be trucking millions of gallons of our spring water out of Wisconsin.
Jim Johnson: Yesterday I blogged about the Vetter-in-Chief for vice-president. He resigned. (I'm sure we had nothing to do with the decision, but congratulations to Jim and to Senator Obama. Good, decisive action.)
But you must enjoy the arrogance of the establishment. "Mr.Johnson's departure deprives Senator Obama of decades of experience and access to Washington's power elite." That was not an editorial. That is from the news article in the NYT. Whoa Nelly. Poor Barack--no more Georgetown dinner parties. Where will he eat?
June 11, 2008 Say it ain't so
I remember Jim Johnson, student government participant at the University of Minnesota and National Student Association delegate. In those days we discussed the plight of migrant workers, poverty in Appalachia, the excitement of the Kennedy administration. Johnson went on to head Fannie Mae, sat on prestigious corporate boards like Goldman Sachs, and UnitedHealth Group of Minnesota. He headed the compensation committee of UnitedHealth Group where he approved more than $1.4 billion for the chief executive. A bit much by migrant worker standards.
The package, according to the NYT, became so controversial that Senator Obama introduced legislation to curb the excessive pay for the big boys. Known as "Say on Pay." The Obama proposal would give shareholders a voice in compensation. Here is what he said: "The rate at which executive pay has grown, as compared to stagnating wages among American workers, is rightfully frustrating shareholders and employees alike..."
Jim was not working pro bono. United health paid him $3.1 million in stock options with an underlying value--catch this--of $175 million and a director's fee of $400,000 per year. Yikes!
I know, I know, give him a honeymoon period--but at those rates it would be quite a party. I'll bet that if "Say on Pay" were extended to voters, Jim Johnson might not be vetter in chief.
June 10, 2008 Too much
No use trying to compete with the incredible pictures of what was Lake Delton. Hard to believe that 90 percent of the lake is gone and with it well over a billion dollars in tourism revenues and some of the best scenery in our state. This will be a test for the Sykes Brigade, who rarely miss a chance to holler "no new taxes, no increase in taxes." Will they shout that message from the new shores of Lake Delton to the Assembly in Madison? Will the state get involved or will the Lobbyist's Legislature quietly kill rebuilding plans?
New plan? The folks who Willy Hortonized Wisconsin with false attack ads accusing Justice Butler of gaining freedom for a black rapist have a new theory. I'm not making this up. All McCain needs to do is get 49 percent of Kenosha County and carry Racine and he wins Wisconsin. This is the result of looking at the pathetic 19 percent turnout in the Gableman-Butler race. Wait 'till they hear about the plant closing in Janesville, the sagging economy, high tuition, antipathy toward the occupation of Iraq. McCain will need more than Kenosha!
Bomb, bomb, bomb: McCain, Cheney, and Olmert (has he moved here to avoid prsecution at home?) are at it again. Seems like there is a perpetual AIPAC meeting in D.C. with Olmert and others demanding we bomb Iran before Bush leaves for his new home in Dubai! Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can't think of anything worse than a new war with Iran. If you think $4.00 a gallon is a lot, just wait to find out the price if Iran is bombed!
June 9, 2008 100 years and going strong
FightingBob.com contributing editor Dave Zweifel reminds us that two things of great moment occurred 100 years ago: the Progressive magazinebegan and continues to lead the way on social and economic justice issues. The other slipped by David. Yes, 100 years ago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Haven't done that again. Unlike the Progressive, the Cubs have been mostly a disaster over the past 100 years. So, congratulations to Matt Rothschild and the Progressive crew. Well done.
Special Education wins in federal court. Federal Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein ruled for Disability Rights Wisconsin, one of Fighting Bob's favorite advocacy groups. The decision sets higher standards, early intervention in behavioral cases, and appoints Ann Coulter (no, not that one) to oversee implementation. She will have lots of authority to make certain the plan is implemented. We will publish the decision on the FightingBob.com Documents page.
Congratulations to Jeff Spitzer-Resnick and his team. Listen now as the "no tax" crowd whines that this decision is too costly. (But we can afford to be in Iraq?) Like the Fram oil filter ad says, "You can pay now or you will pay later!" Check our prisons and jails and you will find thousands of inmates who dropped out, in many cases because of learning disabilities. Cost for each inmate? About $25,000 per year. We can educate our kids and prepare them for the future or we can build and fill more and more prisons. Our choice.
Bill Richardson, labeled "Judas" by the ultimate Bill-o-phant James Carville, says, "What hurt them was their sense of entitlement that the presidency was theirs and all the acolytes should fall in line." Agreed, but let's not forget Mark Penn--in, let's hope, his last campaign for a Democrat.
Moyers vs. O'Reilly Factor: And the winner is...Bill Moyers. Moyers was ambushed by an O'Reilly Factor crew at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis. Karen Chin, our indefatigable videographer got it all on tape. Take a look and enjoy as Moyers held his ground and hammered Rupert Murdoch, who predicted low oil price. Well worth the price of admission.
At the beginning of the clip you will see Fighting Bob Fest coordinator Laura Boyd talking to Moyers, and you will hear him say nice things about Bob Fest and FightingBob.com. Thanks, Bill Moyers. Can't think of anyone I'd rather hear from.
June 7, 2008 We are the strongest...
nation on earth. Well, OK, a few problems have come up. The dollar is plunging, "oil prices have doubled in the past 12 months...up 42 percent since January 1...up $11 per barrel yesterday.." $4 at the pump headed for $5...and unemployment jumped to 5.5% just as unemployment comp is running out for 1.55 million unemployed for 27 weeks.
The NYT reports that the unemployment rate for blacks is 9.7 percent; Hispanics 6.9 percent." As always, the stats under-state the problem. In addition to 8.55 million unemployed in May, 5.2 million are working part time but need/want full-time jobs. How many of us could go 27 weeks without pay? How many more uninsured will we discover?
Oh, almost forgot. In Milwaukee, unemployment among black male adults is over 50 percent. Now that is trouble and troubling. At least our prisons are full!
California's Governor Schwarzenegger declared an "official drought." He will not be in a mood to support the Great Lakes Compact.
One thing seems obvious. McCain has no clue on how to take on these problems.
Big Brown, made bigger with steroids, goes for the triple crown. Barry Bonds is not in the race.
June 6, 2008 Bob Fest VII
Hard to believe but our 7th Bob Fest is coming fast. Over 30,000 have attended the first six Fests and we expect more than 10,000 on September 6. Check out our revamped site FightingBobFest.org for all the latest.
We are excited to welcome Bill McKibben who wrote the first account, for a general audience, of global warming. The End of Nature is a classic often compared to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's death. How different this country would be had he lived. Just imagine President RFK instead of Richard Nixon. The untimely deaths of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Walter Reuther, Paul Wellstone. Makes one ill to look back, so we must look forward.
No primaries to worry about so MSNBC with Keith is less essential for the moment. On the other hand, Israeli P.M. Olmert is trying to get Bush to bomb Iran before Olmert goes to jail. Yikes!
Our staff is in Minneapolis for the Natioanl Conference for Media Reform--the gift of Nichols and McChesney. Look for their reports next week.
June 5, 2008 At last
After the moving St. Paul speech by Barack, after Barack had enough delegates to claim victory, after Hillary made her graceless speech in which she declined to endorse the winner, Senators Kohl and Feingold endorsed Obama. I am befuddled. Why, after a tremendous victory by Obama in Wisconsin's February primary, would Russ and Herb sit on their super delegate votes until the game was over? Their press statements further confuse me. I thought Wisconsin believed passionately in primary contests.
Kohl:"Now that Senator Obama has won the nomination, we can unite behind his historic candidacy. I fully endorse his candidacy."
And Feingold:"Either one would be an outstanding president...I told Senator Obama he could count me as an endorsing supporter at the Democratic Convention."
Wow! Such enthusiasm. Such support.
When the dust settles the people must take a hard look at the concept of "super" delegates.
Meanwhile, Hillary won't release her delegates but will stop campaigning, and will endorse Obama. One must conclude that ends her most recent quest for vice president.
Kohl also said "both candidates ran spectacular campaigns." Really?
Doyle confirms support for the incredible $1.9 billion expansion of I-94 from Milwaukee to Illinois border. Really.
June 4, 2008 Enjoy the moment!
Thank you MLK Jr., LBJ, Bob Moses, Diane Nash, Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Medgar Evers, the families of the three boys killed in Mississippi, John Lewis, Connie Curry, Paul Potter, Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Some names you will recognize and some you won't, but all are heroes to me. Thanks to thousands of good people who not only sang We Shall Overcome but believed it. Lived it. Thanks Pete Seeger, Woody and Arlo. Special thanks to Jesse Jackson.
Yes, a black man is the nominee for President of the United States.
This is an amazing moment. How lucky we are to have lived long lives so we could tell the Civil Rights story to grandchildren. A new chapter? No, a new book. America, enjoy the moment. I can hear the refrain from King, "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!"
The only sour note was the refusal of Senator Clinton to graciously join the celebration. Instead of accepting the results, she will seek "guidance" from Party leaders--while she pushes to be vice president. I suggest she might start with Jimmy Carter, Jim Webb, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, Gwen Moore and Al Gore.
And can anyone explain this headline? "Kohl nears endorsement as Obama nears nomination." I searched but could not find out if Kohl did endorse.
Sad Day in Janesville: News of 2,400 good jobs lost and the ripple has not started. OK, I'm just going to blurt it out--"How do you like NAFTA now, Bill Clinton?" Had you listened to David Bonier, Janesville might be in business to stay.
Jim Doyle said, "I'm mad and I want to get even." I don't know what that means. Meanwhile, it is time for more than the usual "job training funds...re-training...will be provided." We need a plan. Yes, we will have to raise taxes to develop a meaningful plan of action.
June 3, 2008 Big day? Will Senator Clinton end or just suspend? Sounds like the latter given the timing and pre-publicity. The tone of the rhetoric is more Harold Ickes than Vilsack. Ickes, the arrogant and uncompromising leader of the anti-Obama attack, "Can't believe the chutzpah of the Rules Committee" giving some Michigan delegates to Obama. Imagine that? A contest...oh never mind. More tomorrow.
In the meantime, our friend Tom Harkin is taking the lead to get Democratic senators to make a decision today. Grab your seat folks, Herb Kohl is quoted in the NYT saying, "It's time." Don't get too excited. Herb will announce his vote "within days." By then it probably won't matter. Oh, but why hurry, Senator? Barack only won Wisconsin's primary in the state where primaries were created by La Follette to let the people, not the boys in the smoke-filled rooms, nominate our candidates, by 18 percent. And Russ?
Assuming he wins South Dakota and Montana today, Obama, says NYT, needs only 25 Super-Doopers to end what has gone from happy times to a nightmare thanks to incredible racial insensitivity from the Clinton camp. No matter what she says tonight, it may be too late.
Chuckle for the day? Governor Doyle appointed Frank Busalacchi, the guy pushing the loopy $1.9 billion I-94 expansion idea, to, I'm not kidding, "The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission." Rumor has it Busalacchi plans to build a highway to every commission meeting.
June 2, 2008 And if that doesn't work?
I missed some of the Rules Committee deliberations because I was driving to New Richmond for the Democratic Party Unity Lunch. I can assure you there was a lot more unity in New Richmond (and some excellent legislative candidates) than at the Rules Committee in D.C.
For my money, the Alice in Wonderland award goes to Michigan Senator Carl Levin. He improved upon the old saw first-year law students learn: If you don't have the facts, argue the law; if you don't have the law on your side, argue the facts, and if you don't have either, shout!
Levin shouted that Michigan, with no real primary, should be given full status. Why? I'm not making this up. Because he is mad as hell that New Hampshire gets to go first! Whoa Nelly. In essence, Levin said: Yes, we deliberately broke the rules; yes, we did nothing to correct the Ickes trick of getting the leading candidates to withdraw so Hillary could claim victory, but don't look at us. Get mad at New Hampshire. It was the old "look over there" trick. Ah, life in the Senate must be fun.
McAuliffe, the hyper-caffinated chair of Hillary's campaign, said the Michigan result giving her 69 delegates was "ridiculous." I agree. Zero would have made sense.
Iowa's former governor and co-chair of the Clinton campaign in Iowa, Tom Vilsack, said "She should quickly get behind" Obama.