February 26, 2009
Bobby for President?
(Editors' note: Ed Garvey is on vacation until March 13.)
Some talking heads speculated that Governor Bobby Jindal would be the GOP nominee to oppose Obama in four years. In a "Hey! We like minorities" move, somebody in the GOP had the bright idea to have the governor respond to the great speech delivered by the president. Oh, ma gosh was that a mistake! I can hardly wait for Saturday Night Live. This could top Tina Fey's Palin.
If you are advising Jindal, tell him that the person who came up with that idea is no friend. "Bobby we hardly knew ya," and now we won't get a chance. Whoa Nelly, what a disaster.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan gets worse--or is it Pakistan? How depressing. "Four U.S.Soldiers killed" yesterday; "Taliban accepts Pakistan Cease-Fire" while another story predicts the Obama surge will drive the enemy deeper into Pakistan...and so it goes. Another military victory "just around the corner," if only the "politicians will let our troops win." If only...Yah sure Ole!
February 24, 2009
Obama hit the ball out of the park! Great speech, good humor, hope-filled vision for America--it was fantastic. (Had he dropped two words it would have been damned-near perfect on national issues. The two words, "clean coal." Oh well, lots to cheer about.)
We will be on vacation for two weeks starting Saturday. Good time to think warmth--green grass--baseball. Who knows, I might find a computer, but in any case, GarveyBlog will be back March 13.
Send your ideas. In the meantime, our GOTV effort for April 7 will be pushing you for help. Gotta get them out to vote.
Doesn't get any better
I like two British comedies, one starring Judith Dench, the other featuring the Prime Minister answering questions in the well. One is comedy by design the other proves that reality is funnier than fiction. (Imagine if Tommy Thompson had gone to the well, or W., or just about any American politician.) Well, well, it happened yesterday. The only things missing from teacher Obama and his Republican students were the third-grade desks and the dunce cap.
John McCain, "C" student, asked the teacher a question and so did others. (Where was Palin when they needed her?) Obama made them the class clowns. My guess--the GOP won't do that again.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans are optimistic about Obama, and most Americans oppose the Republican refusal to cooperate with the president. Take that to the bank--or the credit union.
Bob Herbert hit the nail today: "That Can't-Do Spirit" of the congressional Republicans. Wonder how they will act tonight. Catch this from Herbert: "The idea that the government is spending trillions on wars, banks, tax cuts, and so on, while still neglecting its infrastructure needs and at a time when Americans are desperate for jobs---is mind boggling." Head of the class for Bob Herbert.
GOTV for April 7 election. We need you.
February 23, 2009
This is Fighting Bob.com's sixth, so happy birthday to all of you who check in every day, to hundreds of you who have written articles, and millions who have visited.
To understate, we find ourselves in choppy water on our sixth birthday. The two daily papers in Philadelphia, the Daily News and the Inquirer today join the Star Tribune of Minneapolis in bankruptcy court. (Chapter 11--not 7--so they might emerge stronger.)
The Chicago Tribune, owner of radio and TV stations, indeed Super Stations, with the modest call letters WGN--"world's greatest newspaper" along with the LA Times--spell trouble trouble; The Capital Times, now weekly in print and daily on the web; 20 daily and 159 non-daily papers in Pennsylvania are gone, while at home in Wisconsin the WSJ struggles and rumors of MJS's ultimate collapse circle like buzzards.
What is our role in this strange land? How strange? A Mexican billionaire bailed out the Paper of Record or we might have finished our sixth year without the NYT! Whoa Nelly! Imagine our world without newspapers. Where will we get dependable news and views? I think the answer is right here. But we must do more. We need your help. We need expanded coverage of state government. We must...OK, your turn, Happy birthday.
February 22, 2009
The official title of the gathering in Mazomanie Saturday was "The Wisconsin River Valley Grassroots Festival". Some dubbed it "Little Bob Fest," but whatever you called the happening in the snow storm, optimistic progressives gathered to keep the flame burning.
It was well worth the occasionally harrowing drive if only to see Dr. Linda Farley who, with husband Gene, has been tireless in pushing health care for all. Chief Justice Abrahamson spoke of the importance of an independent and fair judicial branch of government. New legislators Kelda Helen Roys and Fred Clark spoke of their challenges; Representative Steve Hilgenberg urged the group to help by reminding incumbents why they were elected.
It had the optimism and enthusiasm of Fighting Bob Fest. While all applauded the Obama election, there was a refreshing willingness to disagree over issues such as Afghanistan.
Kudos to Nate Timm and the other organizers.
February 21, 2009
Here we go again
The headline reads, "Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan." The story reads like ones we read leading to Vietnam and Iraq. I clearly recall JFK telling the nation that we were sending "advisers" to help the South Vietnamese. Then it was "Green Berets" as if soldiers in soft hats could define a mission. Soon it was thousands of troops, bombing of North Vietnam, Kissinger, Cambodia, Laos and Tet.
Iraq was going to be a couple of months in fact Tommy Franks was on his way out and soon we saw "Mission Accomplished." The same leaders who believed that sign assured us that we would be welcomed as liberators. More than 4,000 dead soldiers and a million civilians killed, and another NYT story this morning informs that the military is divided on Iraq pull out. No kidding.
I will bet the farm that many in the Defense department believe we need a ground assault in Pakistan, thousands more troops, more drones, more money--victory is just around the corner! We can't cut and run...if only the Europeans would step up to the plate...if only. Isn't that right Bob McNamara, Henry Kissinger, Richard Pearle, Rummy and Wolfie? Isn't that right?
Time to listen to peace mongers.
February 20, 2009
Friends don't let friends
Finish the thought: Friends don't let friends, "vote Republican, drive under the influence, yell fire in a crowded theater."
Add one more, please, "Friends don't let friends go to war."
Yet the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan have all the makings of Barack's Iraq or LBJ's Vietnam. The use of drones by the Obama administration to bomb suspected enemies in Pakistan coupled with the decision to send 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan was rationalized by the NYT editors: "The situation is unraveling so quickly, Obama had no choice." Really? No choice but to send our brothers, fathers, sisters, sons and daughters to Afghanistan to fight? The editorial comforted us by saying that the troop deployment will permit policy-makers time "to come up with a strategy...there isn't a lot of time."
Let's see. Same Defense Secretary, same Pentagon, same Joint Chiefs, but they don't have a strategy yet? Whoa Nelly! They want our soldiers to hold the line while they develop a game plan? "Hey, you guys hold 'em while we figure out a plan. We'll be back ASAP. Oh, and good luck."
C'mon friends of Obama, let's urge him to demand a better choice.
The governor clarified his position on toll roads...sort of. No toll roads! Well maybe in 15 years. Not now. I do not, I did not, I probably won't until my sixth term...
Tomorrow is grassroots organizing day at Wisconsin Heights High School--Mazomanie. Questions call 608-220-0139 beginning at 9:45. See you there.
Joy Cardin today. Week In Review at 8:00 a.m.
February 19, 2009
What did you say?
I'm a suspicious type. Jim Doyle said that "As long as I am governor, we will not have toll roads in Wisconsin." Yesterday he told the JS editorial board (yes, they still have one) "I hate toll roads but...". A thought. This is a subtle message that he will soon resign so toll roads could be used in Wisconsin.
A thought or two for the governor. "Highway Jim," as they call him, should reconsider the enormous waste of money he plans to spend expanding I-94 from Milwaukee to Illinois. Two billion bucks! Shovel ready or not, it is nutso. Second, if he succumbs to the road builders and the privatizers on toll roads, use the automated pass system and charge according to one's income. Example: Madison to Chicago--five tolls. 50 cents each for the driver making $25,000 per year or less; $5 bucks each toll for the driver making $100,000 per year or more. You get it--a progressive toll plan.
And while you think about that idea, imagine if all fines were linked to ability to pay. Why not?
Federal Court rules judicial candidates cannot be prohibited from taking party label. The decision, written my Judge Barbara Crabb, looks like a four-credit course syllabus. Analysis coming soon to a Blog near you.
February 18, 2009
Finally an incumbent said the magic words "we must raise taxes." I think it was Walter Mondale in 1984 who told us that taxes had to go up and his lackluster, albeit honest, campaign lost.
So for decades politicians have said "no new taxes" or "no increase in taxes." Some took an oath, one famously said "read my lips!" Well, reality came up and took a bite of flesh this week. Party preference didn't matter to governors from California to Wisconsin. The reality is that tough times trump bumper-sticker government. (OK, not in Wisconsin, where the Fitzgerald boys whine about taxes as if locked in the last decade. They should give out bumper stickers, "GOP: No new ideas.")
Doyle said the words. Good for him. True, it is odd that the increase in tax revenue from cigarettes is more than the proposed increase from corporate income taxes, but, hey, the debate started last night.
And almost as unbelievable was a call to reduce the awesome prison population. Frank Remington tried to persuade then Tommy Thompson and AG Doyle that the state was going to face disaster with policies leading to over-crowding. "You will one day be forced to choose between a great university and large prisons." Boy was he on target 20 years ago.
Last night Doyle took a halting step forward in calling for early release of up many non-violent prisoners on a "$30,000 annual scholarship." Truth-in-sentencing began December 31, 1999, and the prison population has exploded. One "truth" missing in that politically motivated act--the cost to taxpayers. Time to "bell the cat." At least Doyle found the cat!
DPI Results: The two winners will face-off on April 7.
Evers 34 percent
Fernandez 31 percent
National Guard: Picture caption on front page of JS: "Not since WWII have so many Wisconsin Army National Guard Members been mobilized for overseas combat." More than 3,200! And president Obama is calling for more troops for Afghanistan! C'mon! End these foolish wars. Now.
February 17, 2009
Wow! Excitement fills the air. Colleagues at work are buzzing. It is Primary Election Day. Get out the party hats and chill the bubbly stuff.
Actually only about one out of ten voters will vote for one of the most important jobs in the state--Superintendent of Public Instruction. Important only if you think education is important.
The only spark in the five-person race came in a forum the other night, when candidate Todd Price made it clear he opposes continuation of the voucher program. Period.
Is there a WMC sleeper in the contest? Hard to know, but do vote today.
Oh my gosh. Three or four people will decide how more than two billion federal simulous dollars will be spent in Wisconsin? State Senator Mark Miller, State Rep Mark Pocan, and Governor Doyle will decide where the money goes. (And you thought the president of MG&E and the spouse of Susan Goodwin, Al Fish, the Governor's Chief of Staff would decide?)
The governor, according to JS, "would provide spending plans to Miller and Pocan and if the two of them agree" the money will flow faster than a shoe at a Baghdad news conference. "If either of them object to a project, off it goes to Joint Finance! Odds of that occuring are worse than the Brewer's winning the World Series.
While I normally disagree with the banker-dominated Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance, Todd Berry has it right--"there's certainly room for mischief" under this plan. Even Scott Fitzgerald made sense and that is rare. "It's something that needs to be fully debated." Of course he fell off the wagon by limiting debate to the Joint Finance Committee. How about the entire Legislature?
If a Republican governor made a proposal like this the Democrats would scream from the roof tops. Start shouting!
Why does my mind recall Lord of the Flies?
February 16, 2009
Fighting Bob.com was an idea expressed at our first Fighting Bob Fest. (Mark your calendar--September 12 is number 8.) Attendees suggested that progressives needed a voice and voilà! www.Fighting Bob.com became a reality on February 23, 2003. Hard to believe, but I've written more than 2,000 GarveyBlog posts for a total of 2,500 posts including our regular GuestBlog entries from Bill Kraus; more than 200 fellow progressives have posted more than 900 articles--I'm not making this up. Check our archives to see for yourself.
More than 10 million page views and 4 million visitors. That is exciting and leads to the question, what's next?
This week we think about a state that might find no daily papers when the next presidential election rolls around; and more conglomerate control of commercial radio. We will grapple with our role. Your input is requested.
How have we done? Where should we go? Give us your thoughts.
Primary tomorrow: DPI is important, but you would never know it by the mood in the state. Check out the Web sites, ask around, vote tomorrow.
February 15, 2009
The hole is deep
Our corrupt political system may be beyond repair because the forces of evil give just enough "honest graft" to the good folks who call for reform but do nothing. Just enough to keep them in line. "In line" means letting the private sector control our elections. Like compulsive gamblers, these toothless reformers want one more spin of the wheel--could be their lucky night!
Am I missing something? If the legislators ban fund raising during the budget debate are they not admitting that contributions are corrupting? So corrupt the corrupters should be muzzled while the budget is debated. How about when campaign reform is debated? Or school vouchers, or Healthy Wisconsin? Are these issues of lesser significance? "Let the bad guys spend at will?"
Bad news: We will not be saved by the U.S. Supreme Court in the infamous West Virginia case where Don Blankenship allegedly bought a justice or two. Nope. Nor, apparently, will the Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature ride a white horse into town. Satisfied to ban fundraising while the budget is debated, Dems, with no help from the governor, holler that they have made "a generational" move by declaring no fundraisers while the budget is debated. Yikes! Some move!
It gets so deep it is hard to yell "Don't make waves!" Take the little-noted ruling by retiring Federal Judge Rudolph Randa. A group calling itself the Institute for Justice wants some credit and so do the Bradley front folks at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, WPRI. That group, with "scholars" like Charlie Sykes, Jim Miller, and Mike Grebe, claim they produced data that helped Judge Randa put the nail in the coffin of small independent gas stations, according to a press release from the Institute for Justice.
Hit Goggle for the Institute for Justice and guess what pops up? Yup! Wisconsin Right-to-Life fighting, you guessed it, campaign finance reform. Whoa Nelly!
Generational move? Yah, sure.
February 14, 2009
Huzzah! The stimulus package passed. Not in time to save the Madison Rep, but maybe in time to save the nation. The 40-year-old Madison Rep has gone dark with two plays canceled. Not a good sign. If Madison can't or won't support an excellent rep theater, times are indeed tough. Perhaps the Congressional theater is all we need. Judd (short for Brutus) Gregg goes for Hamlet, etc.
Odd note. We were in the audience for what turned out to be the last performance of the Rep in 2009. No one made a pitch to the audience to save the rep even though one of their best performances was on stage.
DPI race has once again found a way to fly under the radar. No one knows there is a race. A pop-quiz--write down the names of the five candidates. See? Couldn't do it could you? There was a "forum" the other night, mislabeled "debate," in Madison, although the religious schools sponsoring the forum, I'm not kidding, had two candidates doing well. The odds-on favorite Tony Evers, and Todd Price, who made his opposition to school vouchers front and center. Vote next Tuesday. But before you do watch Karen Rybold-Chin's video of the forum/debate.
Let's end the week with a Calvin Trillin-induced smile.
"The Wall Street ways are mighty funny;
a bonus comes for losing money.
about this rule they're quite devout.
No wonder they need bailing out."
Thank The Nation for permitting us to share Trillin.
Okay, Mr. President. No Republican votes in the House; three in the Senate; Gregg tries to embarrass you, and, I would argue, Gates wants to get you bogged down in Afghanistan while keeping our troops in Iraq. Reach across the aisle? Evil Knievel maybe. You? Forget about it for a while.
February 13, 2009
Remember when Hillary suggested that she and McCain were ready to be Commander-in-Chief but Barack had only given a speech? It was tough sledding for Obama after that charge but not as tough as the sledding caused by the-vetter-in-Chief. (Is someone in charge?)
Whoa Nelly! Bill Richardson at Commerce had to pull out while a grand jury investigated; apparently couldn't find a Democrat with his views on Iraq so he kept Gates at defense! No need to comment on Daschle again, but now the silliest of all appointments, Judd Gregg, resigned before they could hang his picture at the Department of Commerce. Hooray! Bye-bye! So long! Good riddance; hardly knew ye--but that's okay--didn't want to anyway. Keith Olberman hit it on the head: "Gregg made a fool of himself," but how about the Democratic governor of New Hampshire who made a promise (negotiated?) to appoint a Republican to replace right-wing Republican Gregg? Good Lord.
Senator Mark Miller upset WMC by telling them the truth at a WMC event. They hurt our reputation with their whining. Tsk, Tsk! Criticism of WMC? How dare you, Mark Miller? Oh, that's right, Midge Miller took on a sitting president in her own party and won. Keep fighting, Mark.
Governor Doyle appointed Stephanie Rothstein Circuit Court judge in Milwaukee. No comment, but Ann Gaylor must have cringed at the governor's praise justifying her appointment: "She has worked with several non-profit faith-based organizations" and lives in Whitefish Bay.
AG J.B. Van Hollen reorganizes. He folded the "public integrity" unit into a field operation. I'm not making this up.
February 12, 2009
Centrist Senators In Charge?
The power in the Democratically controlled Congress has been delivered on a silver platter to the so-called, self-labeled "centrists." More Lieberman than Obama. Ben Nelson, Susan Collins, and Senator flip-flop from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, rule. Step aside Tom Harkin, Bernie Sanders, Carl Levin and Russ Feingold. Why follow Obama when we can tune-in Collins?
This is getting tiresome. First, the "leaders" accept the notion that nothing passes unless they have 60 votes, which means that 40 of 100 Senators are really in charge. Why? They say the word filibuster and the majority melts. Why? Oh, Strom Thurmond led a filibuster 40 years ago--we don't want that, do we? Lots of fundraisers would be missed. Can't challenge them to actually filibuster while we are engaged in raising funds, can we?
I listened to the build up to the Geithner speech. Listening to him was hardly what the nation needed. It reminded me of third-grade kids in front of class giving the "what I did this summer" speech. He was awful. And he forgot to tell us the details! Yikes!
I'm with Tom Harkin--"I am not a happy camper. I am not happy about it." Chances are the "best and the brightest" will not push the right buttons, and then what? Ask the centrists? Please Joe Lieberman, tell us what we must do--other than prepare for the rapture.
February 11, 2009
It happens all the time but the impact is even greater following a presidential-energy-sucking-marathon. Spring finally arrives, daffodils peek out, snow gives way, and students head south. And most people, even good citizens, put politics in the attic---most don't vote in the spring. (Don't believe me? Ask former Justice Butler.)
A Fighting Bob.com group met last night to begin a modest crusade to get out the vote this spring. The effort begins with no money but lots of energy. We will not endorse a candidate for Supreme Court but will urge people to make a choice and vote. The group will ask those contacted to sign a voter pledge and to take responsibility for getting 10 others to vote.
Who knows? Might work. Interested? Let us know.
February 10, 2009
Birthday is coming
Hard to believe but FightingBob.com's birthday number 6 is just around the corner. If we needed a reason to publish, writers Kraus, Pocan, McNally and more than a hundred others give us all we need. And, Fighting Bob Fest number 8 will be in Baraboo September 12. The economy will be the focus and the lineup of speakers is shaping up. (Bob Fest got an early start on Joy Cardin's Week in Review and on WOJB, our regular Wednesday talk program with Eric Schubring.)
What a difference--Obama vs. W. It is as if the A team just arrived. Thoughtful, articulate and confident, it was a pleasure to watch and listen. Should be a great four years. Oh, and hands across the table? Big table.
Want to feel scared? New York Times, according to NYT, could disappear. Other daily papers? Most will fail before the next presidential race. Yikes!
February 9, 2009
We need spring. Too many goofy things are happening and there is no way to explain most of them except cabin fever a/k/a winter doldrums.
Case number one: The activist group 9-5, friends of Fighting Bob Fest, pushed a direct legislative provision on the ballot in Milwaukee and 69 percent voted in favor of guaranteeing up to nine days of sick leave to employees in Milwaukee. In other words, the sick leave provision became law, but not so fast Fridley. The Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, WMC's little brother, went to court to stop implementation of the ordinance. Normally, the City Attorney would be obliged to defend the people's will but Mayor Barrett did no such thing and the Court enjoined the ordinance. So 9-5 defended but not the City. Huh? Cabin fever. Send Barrett some place warm.
Gerard Randall, a flexible guy in Milwaukee, a pal of Tommy Thompson, Elizabeth Coggs, Scott Walker, Tom Ament, and Zigman Joseph has a nice job. He is getting $248,000 to consult for the county on out-of-work African Americans. He's getting $12,000 per month according to Dan Bice of the Journal Sentinel. Nice work if you can get it. Cabin fever--virulent strain. Send Scott Walker to Florida.
Governor Doyle, a Democrat, DLC-wing, puts a utility executive in charge of distributing the stimulus money coming to Wisconsin. Whoa Nelly! If you run into the governor, offer to drive him south. (Of course the utility exec is quickly immunizing his decisions: "I will only make suggestions not decisions." If you believe that you need warm weather.)
The President appoints Republican Senator Gregg to his cabinet, but Gregg would not even vote for the president's stimulus plan! He voted, I'm not kidding, "present." What the hell? Then, like an eastern version of Blagojevich, the governor of New Hampshire negotiates to name a Republican to the open Senate seat--and so it goes. Come on Spring!
February 8, 2009
Lobbyist or consultant?
The NYT reported on the post-Senate career of Tom Daschle last week. He did OK. About $5 million in four years. "Daschle did take on an array of clients seeking influence in Washington, including concerns involved in Indian gambling, ethanol, health care, telecommunications and federal contracting." And this is "our" guy!
He was affiliated with a law firm, "operating in the gap between the popular understanding and legal definition of a lobbyist or consultant."
Then there is the "advisory board" including former senators Slade Gordon and Bob Kerry. They got $100,000 a year just to attend quarterly meetings. Not bad! I'd like one of those jobs. And there is his firm's client, UnitedHealth, the giant insurance company with all kinds of issues pending before the Department of Health & Human Services that he was going to head. (How big is United Health? $81 billion a year---one-third from the feds.)
Washington is out of control. Not long ago I met a lawyer who tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me that a fee of $850 per hour is "reasonable." I told him that I had never met a lawyer worth $850 per hour. "Now you have," was his rejoinder.
Think about the hourly rate charged by Tom Dachle's firm. Whoa Nelly! If he made $5 million over four years, $1,250,000 per year, his firm had to make something as well. Suddenly, $850 per hour sounds like bargain basement.
Wonder why people are a tad cynical?
February 7, 2009
Pink slips, furloughs, and good whiskey
The jobless report released yesterday was sobering. To deal with the bad news, House Democrats quietly headed out of Washington for a very fancy resort that is out of reach financially for nearly all of their constituents, for some planning and expensive whiskey. While not a mouse in the corner, I can imagine the discussion. "How could the media, the Republicans and, yes, fellow Democrats, turn on Tom Daschle? A man of Congress, a friend, and a brilliant deal maker, on a familiar career path, thrown under the bus! Where's the loyalty?"
The cries from the resort, heard on TV, were aimed mostly at the recalcitrant GOP Senators. How dare the Republicans play politics with the economy after we won in November? Congressional Democrats did no such thing following their dramatic victory in 2006. Remember? Impeachment, and investigations--"off the Pelosi table"--and now our president reaches across the aisle but no return--hey, not fair. So why would Republicans act like the enemy now? C'mon! Play ball! "You make us look soft."
In the background one might have heard some comments about 600,000 jobs lost in January, 200,000 state workers in California, what do they call it? Oh, that's right, "furloughed." (I thought that happy state happened only in the military but it turns out it applies in civilian life as well--not so happy, but better than a pink slip. When you were furloughed in the Army you still got paid.)
Imagine giving a speech to all 200,000 of those folks on furlough, as a leader of the Democratic party via closed circuit TV. "My fellow Democrats. We must all pitch-in to save the economy. You won't get paid today and we, your leaders, are stuck in this very old three-star resort. We call this "shared sacrifice." And, Tom Daschle can't be with us tonight but you know the demand on lobbyists. It aint easy. So, fellow Democrats this drink's for you! Hang-in and good night."
February 6, 2009
Let me get this right. The NYT reports that former General Zinni was supposedly offered the Ambassadorship to Iraq by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. The offer was withdrawn by the Obama administration and they asked him to represent us as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The general's response? "Stick it where the sun don't shine." I'm not kidding. Hello? What? Mr. President, "Stick it"?
Turns out the crude former general was, until December, an executive of DynCorp, a firm with contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In November 2008, DynCorp was awarded a $99 million contract by the Pentagon. Why? To help rebuild Iraq and train the police. (A DynCorp manager made news when he used an armored car to transport hookers in Iraq. Take that Spitzer!)
As Vince Lombardi once hollered, "What the hell is going on?" Since when do we appoint former generals, burdened with business conflicts, to ambassadorships? And who does Zinni think he is? "Stick it where the sun don't shine?"
Get this general out of the picture. Quickly. In case you are worried, here's some good news: Zinni is now full-time with DynCorp. No word on the hookers.
Imagine the panic among progressives over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's sad illness had McCain won? We wish her the best.
February 5, 2009
The President announced a $500,000 "sensible" cap on executive pay for banks and other financial institutions on the receiving end of the proposed trillion-dollar bailout. One can almost hear the moans from Park Avenue and Rodeo Drive. "Good lord, how can we be expected to live on half-a-million per year?"
It has always been like a bone in my throat, when an increase in the minimum wage is proposed, or, god forbid, a "living wage", the cry from the Right is that an increase will force small restaurants to close. No proof needed.
Well let's place the cap proposed by president Obama in context. The executives would receive (earn) about $241 per hour. The minimum wage, frozen for a decade, finally went up in 2007 from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour. At that rate, a 40-hour-per week employee got $12,168 for the year. But hold on! Good news is coming--the minimum wage climbs to $7.25 next July. That would bring in $15,000 per year next July. The struggling executive, getting a bailout from the taxpayers, including the poor ones, would get $485,000 more than the minimum wage earner. Whoa Nelly. We can still afford the bubbly!
If Congress is looking for a sure-fire way to stimulate the economy, raise the minimum wage to $15- $20 per hour. All of that money would be spent immediately. I know all the arguments that would be raised against it, but so what? The economy needs a boost, minimum wage workers need a significant increase, the gap is absurd, so, let's go.
February 4, 2009
So sayeth the president as headlines screamed "Daschle Ends Bid." "I'm frustrated with myself and with our team," said Obama to NBC. But, "Ultimately my job is to get this thing back on track."
That's for certain, and to get it back on track call the question. Yea or nay--with us or not. Time to vote. If they filibuster let them.
As for Gregg..are you kidding?
February 3, 2009
Do they think we are stupid? Yup!
The legislative Democrats should go on a retreat before tackling the next budget battle. Something is going very wrong and the new Democratic majority should take some time off to listen to their rhetoric, develop a progressive agenda, and stop trying to make, as my mother would say, "silk purses from sow's ears."
The Assembly Democrats, abandoning public financing of campaigns, have opted for a silly substitute they call "bold" and "significant." No longer do we hear the cry for public control of our elections, clean elections the end of graft. The Dems appear comfortable letting the money folks run things. Good Lord. Jim Haney controls despite the elections.
The Democratic plan--I'm not kidding--is no fund raising for incumbents while the budget is being debated. (Why not tie fund raising to snow emergencies? If a legislator is stuck in Madison, why not hold a little fundraiser?) Here is the best part: No penalties if the Assembly members violate the rule. None.
The Senate Democrats won't even pass that Milquetoast provision. And the Governor? Yikes! He seems to be opposing the Assembly provision based on some cockamamie notion of fairness, but his position is unclear. Get this: "It's completely unfair to have one side play by one set of rules and the other side play by another set of rules." What does he mean? When he says "side" how is side defined? And why is it unfair? C'mon, governor. You promised publicly financed elections--time to deliver.
I conclude with a quote from Tom Nelson, Dem Assemblyman from Kaukauna: "This is the most significant reform in a generation. We're getting the job done." Brings to mind the conversation between the optimist and the pessimist. The optimist said, "This is the best of all possible worlds." The pessimist responded, "You are right." Nelson says this is the most significant in a generation--he's right.
The governor of Illinois, oops!...the "former" governor, will probably go to prison because he bargained over the appointment of someone to the Senate. The governor of New Hampshire, a Democrat, bargained over the appointment of a Republican to fill Judd Gregg's seat so Gregg could join the Cabinet without giving Democrats a chance to stop filibusters. He goes, not to prison, but becomes an honorable, patriotic, public servant. I don't get it.
Calvin Trillin ends his ode to John A. Thain of Merrill Lynch in The Nation this way:
"And now they say, you'd search in vain for dimmer bulbs than John A. Thain."
February 2, 2009
Nice people do win--sometimes!
Six times to be precise. I'm talking about football and the Rooney family. Six times Dan Rooney's team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have won the Super Bowl. This year they did it in the most exciting ending ever seen. Who was the coach? Mike Tomlin, the youngest winning coach in Super Bowl history. And, he is African American. He would not have been hired in the 1970's when institutional discrimination stood as a barrier to blacks in the coaching ranks. Not even as an assistant coach.
Rooney helped the NFLPA break down that wall. Congratulations to Mike Tomlin, Dan Rooney, and the NFLPA.
Almost forgot. Rooney rented a bus and campaigned for Barack Obama. His first thanks last night--to President Obama. If you cheered for the Cardinals, take heart. The good guy won.
February 1, 2009
Change business as usual
Throughout the campaign, Obama the candidate promised to shake-up Washington. He said it won't be "business as usual," but I'm not so sure that he remembered that pledge now that he is in office. Lots of things seem the same. There are a few items to test Obama against the "business as usual" model. What has changed?
We learned that the "Wall Street Looters" (Maureen Dowd's description--and a good one) took $18.4 billion worth of bonuses last year. That must be corrected. She calls for "disgorgement" and appointment of a special prosecutor. And here is a line to remember: "Spare the rod, spoil the jackal." Claire McCaskill, the terrific Missouri senator, brought forward a darn good idea: Any firm taking our tax dollars could not pay anyone more than we pay the president. (Babe Ruth notwithstanding.)
The president said the "theft" was regrettable and irresonsible, but he and Geithner complain there us nothing they can do. Horse out of barn. Balderdash! The looters don't need the money--they are just testing the toughness of the new president. If they get away with this outrage the bailout may fail because the public will not trust the president.
Grade for Obama on the "business as usual-meter"? A 5 on a 10-point scale.
Response to Tom Daschle not paying his fair share of taxes? "Stupid mistake," but no harm no foul. Score: 3.
Geithner, IRS boss who, like Daschle, screwed up? "Oh, mistakes happen. I need him in the White House." Score: 4.
Afghanistan: The president visited the Pentagon to meet the brass. What? Not enough room for them to come to the White House to acknowledge the boss? Then he permitted a drone bombing in Pakistan that killed a dozen or so; called for 60,000 troops to be assigned to Afghanistan; and, well, frankly, sounded a lot like Rumsfeld when Rummy assured us Iraq would be fine. Obama is about to be dragged into his Vietnam, his Iraq--it is war as usual! Score: 2.
Campaign is over, Mr. President. Gates, the Pentagon, and the Wall Street looters are staking out their territory as they always do. It is, or appears to be, business as usual in Washington. Lookout, Mr. President!