August 31, 2009
Where to begin? How about the Big Apple, where a couple of stories should grab our attention. First this NYT headline: "Concern is High That Mob May Seek Cut of Stimulus Pie." That's right--the Mob is back! Or, more accurately, never left. "Insufficient oversight" led one official to conclude, "It's like putting a bank robber in a toll booth." Bad enough, but catch this: "The Mob also has cornered the market on the city's lucrative emergency snow removal contracts, as well as controlling city school bus contracts." Whoa Nelly! School bus contracts controlled by the Mob in a city whose mayor is spending millions of dollars "bar coding" all who might vote? But he does nothing about the Mob controlling snow removal and the buses the kids take to school? What's wrong with this picture?
In another New York story, a "little judge" is helping to forestall evictions and foreclosures by forcing banks to obey the rules. Imagine that. The judge said, "I'm a guy from the streets. I see a bank giving a $500,000 mortgage on a building worth $300,000 and the interest rate is 20% and I ask questions, what can I tell you?"
No indictments: At least no indictments in the Big Apple stories, but how about Ehud Olmert, once Prime Minister of Israel, who was forced out of office and was recently indicted for taking graft. I'm a bit confused. Had he taken the $600,000 in cash for a campaign, it would have been OK, but he apparently stuffed the graft into his pockets. The former approach would have been "honest graft" but the latter is a crime. Help me out.
Who votes? Nah! Who counts. (Stalin's infamous quote.) The headline is, "Rising Accounts of fraud cloud the (check one) vote in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine..." You name the country--add USA to the list. Will anyone believe that the U.S. ally, Karzai, actually got 50 percent plus one to avoid a runoff? I doubt it, but 2-1 he will announce he got 53 percent.
Maybe it is just my imagination, but it seems like the words "fraud," "corruption," and "secret deals" are creeping into almost every story. I need a break.
See you at Bob Fest!
August 30, 2009
If you listen to the rightwing front groups, they are the guardians of family values. Marriage is between one man and one woman; gay life is simply a choice; Right to Life; vegetative state forever; no stem cell research; opposition to death panels. (OK. They had to make up the death panels, but give them credit for creativity.)
So, where does that place us, the keepers of the dream? Are we in favor of granting a constitutional right to die, kill Grandpa, and to pull the plug ASAP?
Nicholas Kristof, in a powerful column in today's NY Times, answers. I won't give it away--like a good movie plot--but here are a few hints. The American Journal of Medicine reveals that 62 percent of bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. (Seventy-eight percent of those filing had health insurance that didn't do the job.) There are 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year, says-National Academy of Science, but what do they know that Big Pharma doesn't? (Yes, unnecessary deaths.) Because of a lack of treatment--and we are the killers?
Can a nation, a group, a party claim the moral high ground knowing what we know about the scandalous profit-making in health care? Huge profits earned by defeating Medicare for all? I don't think so.
Health care will be front and center at Fighting Bob Fest, where we dedicate our fight to the memory of Dr. Linda Farley, who drove thousands of miles to spread the word about the beauty of single-payer coverage for all.
Bernie Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, Tom Harkin--health care will be the focus.
No second vote: "Go to your room!" Ah, the management folks at Mercury Marine will not permit the union to vote again. Why not? I suspect because they were never serious about staying in Wisconsin, but they wanted to lay the blame on the loyal employees--not the scofflaws at Mercury, for the decision.
Teddy Kennedy: It was quite a scene. It was JFK, RFK, MLK Jr. It was the end of an era, but just the beginning of the fight for economic justice. I feel renewed and am confident you do as well.
Well done, Ted. Well done.
August 29, 2009
Bigger than life
When Ted Kennedy, accompanied by his niece Caroline, entered the hall at UW-Eau Claire, campaigning for Bill Clinton in 1992, the room seemed to lose oxygen, sigh, and then explode with applause and near-raucous shouts. It was more than a political rally--it was part of our history. Teddy took it in stride. He was, after all, the nation's torch-bearer for social justice. He was the repository of our dreams of peace articulated by his brother Bobby; he would not shy from the "liberal" tag. He was a liberal and proud of it.
He electrified the crowd. He was the dominant figure on the stage--any stage. He will be missed, but the "cause of [my] life...that all Americans...north, south, east, west, young, old...will have health care as a right and not a privilege" will be enacted because we will not let that dream, that promise, die. I promise.
Think it over, Mayor Barrett: Mayor Tom Barrett is a good man with a bad idea. On Wisconsin Public Television's Here and Now he articulated the reason he and fellow Democrat Jim Doyle would eliminate the elected school board in Milwaukee and thereby end the collective bargaining agreement between the board and the teachers, union protection--pensions and all.
Why this anti-democratic plan? (Sit down before reading.) Money! A Democrat surrenders to check-book education because, he told us, Arne and Barack have $5 billion to give to school systems that replace school boards with mayoral control. He informed us that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing might get the money if Milwaukee doesn't act quickly! You can't make it up! As the kid said to Shoeless Joe Jackson, "Say it ain't so," Tom. Say it ain't so.
Fighting Bob Fest has invited Michael Bonds, Milwaukee Public School Board president, the Milwaukee and Madison teachers, and you to a special breakout session on September 12 focused on the proposed MPS takeover. Fellow small "d" democrats--see you in Baraboo.
August 28, 2009
What did you say?
Speaker of the Assembly Mike Sheridan said he probably won't run for governor. Really? However, he would not rule out a run or walk, until he meets with the candidates--I am not making this up--"to get their plans on the economy," and, this will grab you, "ensure they will partner with the Legislature." He said that.
What, do you suppose, he means about "partnering with the Legislature"? And one can only speculate what the candidates will say about the economy that will help him make his decision. His body, the Assembly, hasn't even hinted at an economic plan other than offering blood oaths that they will never, never, ever raise taxes to a level where Wisconsin could properly fund health care, schools and reduce tuition. No siree! No new taxes. Take it to the Payday loan office.
In fact no taxes at all on big contributors if we can just partner with the governor and cut more programs. (Perhaps have all mayors take over public schools.)
Note to Sheridan. If you think you might run, pass public funding of campaigns so people like you can run with a chance of winning. Plan B: Start buying lottery tickets.
August 27, 2009
Two Weeks! Lots of choices!
Some tough choices will confront you at Fighting Bob Fest, now less than three weeks from today.(Kickoff at the Barrymore 9-11; Fest in Baraboo on 9-12.) Will you join the health care breakout with Dr. Gene Farley, Bernie Sanders and Tim Carpenter or will you go to celebrate Belle Case LaFollette on her 150th birthday? We added a breakout to make your choices even more difficult--one on the proposed takeover of Milwaukee public schools by Barrett, Doyle and Evers. (Sounds like a double play combo.)
Reps for the teachers and the school boards will head a breakout that will weigh in on the idea of eliminating democracy in education. The next big battle.
Food--how we grow, transport and consume will be a hot topic. "Creative strategies for working at the intersection of agriculture and culture," is a breakout that will be informative and fun.
Could we meet and not discuss a $50 million gubernatorial race in Wisconsin? Had enough? Join Mike McCabe at the money-in-politics breakout.
Can democracy live without the daily newspaper? McChesney and Nichols, never at a loss for words, will challenge you.
Activists will enjoy a breakout planned by our friends from 9-to-5. Get ready for action to secure health care for all.
Only a few exhibit booths left--order yours today.
Music, debate, fun, and good beer. Can't beat it. I shared time with our friend Jim Hightower on WOJB--he articulates the issues better than anyone.
See you soon.
August 26, 2009
Even though we knew he must be near death when he could not attend the funeral of Eunice-Kennedy Shriver, the news that Senator Ted Kennedy died was a shock. So many of our hopes and dreams rested in his family's name over the years since JFK's election that we somehow thought universal, comprehensive health care would be passed to honor his life while he was alive. Somehow, we dreamed, Teddy would make one more trip to DC to shame his colleagues into acting. Not to be, but I'll bet he tried.
So, as Jim Hightower said, "It is up to us."
The sadness we lived through when his brothers were killed--as if a member of our family had died--rushes back over us. We worried that some kook would try to end Ted's life. Cancer beat the kooks just as hundreds of millions of dollars spent by insurers, hospitals and pharmaceuticals have defeated true health care, but his life and his death may help Democrats in Congress remember they are the party of working families not the home of the super lobbyists. Note to Congress: pass single payer now.
How different our country would be had JFK lived through two terms followed by Bobby and, who knows, Teddy. Today nuts carry loaded assault rifles to political rallies, schools and churches while louder nuts are given talk shows with no responsibility to rally the others.
Joe Hill said it well: "Don't grieve. Organize."
OK. Mr. President, we get it. You won't let any DLC Democrat call you a "liberal." No sir! OK. we get it, but we are still pulling for you. Let's see: More troops to Afghanistan; secret deal with the drug companies; doubt on public option; continued contracts with Blackwater; mayoral takeovers of school systems; and now four more years of Ben Bernanke. Whoa Nelly. Even the staid NY Times wrote: "Another Great Depression was avoided, but the Great Recession could have been eased, and perhaps avoided, if officials like Bernanke had taken precautionary action...he did not distinguish himself before the crisis..."
Bar Code Campaigns: Recall our disappointment when Obama refused public funds in his race against McCain? Well, he won and now there is no limit on spending, real or acceptable. Mayor Bloomberg is assigning a bar code on all voters supermarket style. Read the NYT story today and ask how long we will tolerate this nonsense. Democracy my foot. This is not democracy.
August 25, 2009
Lady and gentlemen--start your engines!
The race for governor began last week when Jim Doyle, the state's money-raising champion since Tommy left town, announced he would not seek a third term. No one noticed, but just as the sun rises in the east, polls and more polls quickly told us who is winning and who us not. Members of the media, especially MJS, seem incapable of serious reporting on polling groups, questions they asked, their track record, who is paying them, or the motives of those shouting polling results.
Example #1 is the Tarrance Group, a Republican polling company. This Republican firm, without disclosing who paid them to do a poll, immediately declared to the world that their poll shows Walker and Barrett in the lead. Get this. Tarrance reports that 44 percent of the voters prefer Scott "I can bankrupt the state faster than anyone" Walker, while 43 percent favor Mayor Tom "I can run your schools" Barrett. I have hot news for Tarrance. Sixty-five percent of the public has never heard of Scott Walker.
Anyone familiar with politics in Wisconsin, other than the MJS, knows that the Tarrance poll is nonsense. People/voters in Wisconsin are focused on back to school, the Brewers, Packers, Favre in a Viking uniform...not the governors' race. C'mon.
My bet--Walker paid for the poll to tell Republicans that Walker, not Neumann, is their best hope.
Daily Kos, not paid for by any candidate, reports Lawton beating Walker 44-35 and Lawton is only two points behind Tommy Thompson should he sneak back into town.
Keep the clips on pollsters--you will enjoy reading them when it is over.
August 24, 2009
Shame on Mercury Marine
Once upon a time it was the law of the land to encourage collective bargaining. The rationale was clear. America would be more productive if workers and managers worked together. Industrial peace was a primary goal. And the theory was that rule-making by democracy in the plant was preferable to government imposition of rules.
Ah, but that was before ant-labor people were appointed to the National Labor Relations Board; before President Reagan destroyed the Air Traffic Controllers union; before Democrats looked to business for campaign dough. Kevin Phillips said, "It is no disgrace that Republicans support management. The disgrace is that the party of working people, the Democratic Party, opposes labor." Example--credit for NAFTA goes to the Clinton administration.
It used to be illegal for a company to threaten to close or move jobs as a bargaining tactic. Ah, used to be indeed! Mercury Marine told its 1,900 employees, "Take a seven-year wage freeze and a 30 percent cut for new or returning workers, or else!" The "or else" was clear: "We will move the jobs to Stillwater, Oklahoma if you vote no."
They were not negotiating. They were the third grade bullies threatening to take their ball and bat and go home. "My way or the highway."
What Mercury did should be illegal. If the Democrats expect rank-and-file help in the future they had better do more than Jim Doyle, who played the middle. He hopes for a settlement. "I cannot do it alone." Is he blaming both sides? Which side are you on, Governor? Are you telling us the union should have accepted? Is that your idea of bargaining? Would a three-year freeze get your support?
Good for the union. They had the dignity to refuse the bully's humiliating threats.
Afghanistan: Sum up the "good war"--the "Obama war"--with one sentence from Admiral Mullen: "I think it is serious and it is deteriorating."
Fighting Bob Fest will be heard on this good war.
Judicial nominees: Senators Feingold and Kohl have sent three names to the president to replace retiring Judge Barbara Crabb. They are Louis Butler, William Conley and David Jones. What? You don't know much about them? Ask your senators.
August 23, 2009
August is almost over, Bob Fest just around the corner, the elections in Afghanistan completed, and the pundits are busy laying blame. Why won't we get health care? Obama was too distant, Congress is too weak, the Democrats too busy fighting each other, the faux death panels too scary, the enormous cost too great.
Some truth to all of the claims but the reality is, whatever your answer, that 50 million Americans are without health care and you can add 5 million more every year as the pharmaceuticals, hospitals and insurance folks double the cost (triple their profits) before the end of 2011.
Why are we in this fix? Someone is poisoning the common well and we just stand around and watch him do it. We might even politely ask him to stop poisoning our well. But we won't take action.
You guessed it. The well represents our elections, the poison has a dollar sign. When I ran for the U.S. Senate my opponent out-spent me 3 to 1, and I almost won because shoe leather still mattered. But not today when Mike McCabe, of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, with straight face, predicts a $40 million race for governor in Wisconsin! Next year!
Whoa Nelly! Guard the well, boys, guard the well. Face it, it is probably too late. When progressives attending the Tom Hartmann "Brunch with Bernie" show at the Barrymore asked me to run for governor, I just chuckled. Raise 15-20 million with my politics?
Here it is folks. Either stop the guy poisoning the well or move. I say stop it now if you expect single payer Medicare for all. Stop it now if you want fair Supreme Court elections in LaFollette land. Stop it now if you want fair progressive taxes. Note to Jim Doyle--thinking legacy? Devote every day you have left as governor to achieving public funding of our campaigns. Your kids might want to run someday.
See you September 12 in Baraboo.
August 22, 2009
Brunch was great
Brunch with Bernie Sanders, broadcast with an enthusiastic live audience at the Barrymore providing the energy, was lots of fun. The crowd loved Thom Hartmann, Bernie, Fighting Bob Fest and Madison's progressive leaders who were interviewed. My informal poll of the crowd--99 percent favor universal, comprehensive, single-payer health care.
Bernie praised Fighting Bob Fest and said he was eager to be with us in Baraboo on September 12. He and Hartmann urged radio listeners on Air America to hold similar Chautauquas in every state. Sounds like a plan!
Hartmann told of a group that attends rallies shouting slogans such as "Keep Government hands off Medicare!" or, "Kill Medicare--let old folks die in the private sector."
Every Friday tune in to Tom Hartmann. Good guy.
Scahill: Jeremy Scahill deserves a standing ovation for exposing Blackwater in his book with that name. (Jeremy will speak at the Bob Fest Kickoff and at Bob Fest.) Someone asked, "What's new about Blackwater?" Two things jump out--first a name change. Blackwater is now Xe, pronounced "Zee." Second, the Obama administration, according to NYT, is still using these scofflaws: "The State Department continues to award the company more than $400 million to fly our diplomats around Iraq, guard them in Afghanistan, and train our security forces."
Are you kidding me? Whoa Nelly! Hired by the CIA to kill foreign leaders, accused of murdering innocent Iraqis--and we fork over four hundred million? Citigroup is sounding better and better.
Now here is a surprise: "The State Department declined to discuss its ties with Blackwater publicly but privately a senior official [always a "senior official"] said [get this] it would be costly to terminate, without cause, the contracts with Xe." I am not making this up. He thinks there is "no cause" to justify firing this crew? Yikes!
Mercury Marine: Our friends in Fond du Lac vote tomorrow on the seven-year wage freeze. Our thoughts are with you.
So, why did Doyle announce he won't run, in your view? What should he do with all the loot in his campaign account?
August 21, 2009
I was wrong
My initial reaction to the announcement that the Army will hold classes dealing with depression was laughter. Having been through lots of military classes, this seemed humorous. "You will not be depressed--that's an order," was how I visualized the approach, but, a career officer friend wrote to me to tell me that I was wrong. His unit has completed two blocks of instruction and, he said, "It was worthwhile and very engaging. The discussion was the most important aspect of the program." He added, for my benefit, "This is not 1969--this is different." And the cost? Cheap, compared to the cost of one military aircraft. (Cheap, if it helps those in service cope. Mea culpa.)
Kohl on health care: He told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, "The debate in Congress should go on as long as needed. We should not settle and move on."
The debate moves to Baraboo on September 12 and Fighting Bob Fest.
Reminder: Brunch with Bernie this morning at the Barrymore or on 92.1.
Mercury Marine votes on Sunday: The owners of Mercury Marine, Brunswick Corporation, say they will probably move the plant to Stillwater, Oklahoma, if the Machinists Union in Fond du Lac rejects proposed concessions calling for a seven-year wage freeze and a 30 percent pay reduction for new hires.
Backdrop: There were 576,000 new unemployment compensation claims last month. January peaked at 956,791.
Imagine the pressure on the union members. Vote no and the jobs may go out of state. Vote yes and jobs might go out of state but, the argument goes, they might keep the 1,900 jobs in Wisconsin. In this post-NAFTA era, unions have lost almost all bargaining power in the industrial sector. (Don't you wonder how Scott Walker would deal with this problem?)
August 20, 2009
Brunch with Bernie & Thom
Thom Hartmann and Bernie Sanders have been spending an hour most Fridays on an Air America radio show they call "Brunch With Bernie." They cover all topics political. It is stimulating and fun.
Tomorrow, Friday, Hartmann will broadcast live from the Barrymore Theatre in Madison (yes, the same Barrymore where the Fighting Bob Fest Kick-Off takes place on September 11). Hartmann's discussion with Bernie live and they will take questions from the audience--for an hour. You should be there at 11 a.m. for one of the best discussions on the air. Seven dollars is the admission--well worth it.
I plan to be there. Thom will sign books after brunch.
Can you top this? Headline on Tuesday, NYT, "Army Will Train Soldiers to Cope With Emotions. Ninety-minute classes seek to prevent suicide and depression." You can't make this stuff up.
Ninety minutes from depression to happy warrior. Feeling sad? Get the new Army Manual on Happy Times and feel better. But there is more. NYT informs us that "the new program is modeled on techniques that have been tested mainly in middle schools." Next sentence: "Usually taught in weekly 90-minute classes, the methods seek to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration--for example, the tendency to assume the worst." Ready for the example? "My wife didn't answer the phone; she must be with someone else."
Oh Boy! Who will teach these courses to soldiers in combat? Some 1,500 sergeants. I am not kidding. Cost? A mere $117 million. General Casey asked a group of soldiers, "Is this too touchy-feely?" One soldier responded honestly, "Yes sir. All a young private wants to do is hang out with his buddies and drink beer."
Having had military classes, I have an idea how this will go. Sergeant: "OK, it is against orders to be depressed. If any of you people feel depressed--snap out of it! Now. Or else!"
August 19, 2009
Stay away from Milwaukee?
Milwaukee Magazine editor/blogger Bruce Murphy is trying to make silk purses out of sows ears. Bruce tells us that no democracy is really more democracy when it comes to education because "a tiny percentage of city residents vote" in school board elections. Result? "Lazy or clueless board members get re-elected." And the media's role? Oh well.
"A mayor-run school system would be more democratic" because those really interested in education will vote in the mayoral race. Whoa Nelly.
His real agenda seeps out: "These elections are often special interest affairs." (I guess he believes legislative, court, mayoral and statewide constitutional races are pure as the first snow.) He dismisses opponents of the takeover with odd comments: "Garvey lives in Madison"; "Unions have gotten very favorable contracts from the MATC board."
So, unlike our motto--"Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?"--Bruce would say if you don't live in Milwaukee or if you are involved in collective bargaining for teachers, bug out. This is a private fight. As for those who ran for school board or supported candidates who did, you are clueless, so be quiet or you will be sent to the mayor's office!
To prove it is not a private fight, we will have a session at Fighting Bob Fest on this issue. You are invited, Bruce. Call if you need directions, or check out our website.
August 18, 2009
Here comes the train!
The governor likes it; Obama's education chief proposed it; the mayor of Milwaukee loves it; the Bradley Foundation really, really loves it, Alberta Darling thinks it is great. So buckle your seat belts.
Ah, the aroma of reform is in the air. Soon Howard Fuller will join the chorus and all of us will be told, in no uncertain terms, that anyone who questions the take-over of Milwaukee schools is jeopardizing our children's futures and forcing the school district into bankruptcy. We will be back to charity schools unless MPS goes along with plans developed behind closed doors.
The agenda? Reduce teacher pensions, insurance and pay. Eliminate the union if the teachers balk. The mayor could even prohibit collective bargaining. I am not kidding. The mayor would have the power to eliminate the school board and, in effect, the union. The first step was the shocking announcement that MPS might fail unless there is oversight of the budget and reforms that will permit "pay systems for teachers based on student performances," says the doyenne of River Hills, Senator Darling. On the other side? Catch the irony of a legislator, Jason Fields (D-not-d Milwaukee) who agrees with R- Alberta. "In any other job, if you don't produce, you don't continue to get paid and you sure don't get bonuses," says Jason. I have a feeling he won't miss the daily paper.
He is trying to tie teacher pay to student performance. Could we do the same with legislators? For example, could we judge based on the recidivism rate? How about cost of tuition? Unemployment rate tied to legislative pay? Hey! We may be onto something. But back to education.
Yah, sure, Jason, think about it. How would you judge teachers of special needs kids? Would music and drama count, and if so who grades? Is the homeless child moving from school to school likely to do well on tests? Should a teacher be blamed for the impact if poverty on performance? Is it just like River Hills?
Of course we will be told there is only one way to solve the MPS crisis. Only one, so no need for discussion or votes. Their way or no way.
We added a session at Fighting Bob Fest that will focus on this bizarre idea.
August 17, 2009
Is anyone in charge?
Press secretary Gibbs said on Face the Nation yesterday, "Obama will be satisfied if the private insurance market has choice and competition." He really said that. I am not kidding. Note to Gibbs: stay home on Sunday. The headline in the NY Times: "Public Option in Health Plan May be Dropped." (Read "may" as "has been dropped." As in, "we lost.")
HHS secretary Sebelius, proving she is not ready to play in the Major Leagues, said "the public option was not the essential element. [Sit before reading.] "This [public option] is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it." Back to Kansas, please!
And the ubiquitous David Axelrod, proving the axiom that former campaign staff are rarely good staff in the White House, added, "The president remains convinced that a public plan was best way to go." Imagine that half-time pep talk. Back to Chicago! Go elect somebody. Open a gubernatorial race in Wisconsin--go for it!
And Democrat Kent Conrad won't be pushed to vote just after Fighting Bob Fest. (I made that up.)
"We will be ready when we are ready. We will not be bound by any (presidential) deadline," said Conrad. Conrad, in his first Senate campaign said he would not seek re-election if the national debt was not cut in half. About five years into his first term he was asked about the pledge. He said, "I had a temperature of 102 degrees that day." Maybe Obama should take his temperature now. He and his co-op idea may be delusional.
It sure looks like we are watching a disaster unfold before our eyes. I am eager for Tom Harkin's keynote at Fighting Bob Fest. The choir needs a boost.
August 16, 2009
The news spread like wild fire--"Doyle isn't running!" None of the callers was in tears, none listed his favorite to replace him, everyone asked why Doyle and Barrett would take on the most controversial, ill-conceived--behind closed doors program in recent memory on Friday--the takeover of MPS--and drop out of the 2010 race for governor on Monday.
One seasoned observer suggested Barrett must be downing Tums by the handful. He might go to something stronger. I would! It looks like this is one more pay-back from Doyle to Barrett for running against him eight years ago. Doyle just eliminated Barrett from the governor's mansion. There is no way, he went on, for Barrett to push through a mayoral take-over of Milwaukee schools, called "racist" by the president of the Milwaukee School Board Michael Bonds, deal with incredible unemployment, homelessness, and a host of other economic problems in Milwaukee while campaigning full time around the state. Suicidal.
So what is the reclusive governor up to? Yes, his poll numbers are down, and yes, he is tired of dealing with deficits, and, yes, battles with the Legislature ain't fun anymore, but the school take-over announcement just days before he lip-synced Roberto Duran's famous "no mas, no mas!" makes no sense. Unless he was floating the idea as a trial balloon. (If so, it floated like a Baby Ruth in Caddy Shack with everyone jumping out of the pool.)
Or could it be that Doyle will join Arne in the Department of Education--special adviser on urban schools?
Back to the timing. He has picked fights with Barbara Lawton all the time, left Barrett in the swamp, and now what? "Blue Dog" Ron Kind? What's the deal, Governor?
One note: Alan Borsuk apparently is no longer a "reporter" on MJS staff. The pro-voucher Bradley Foundation favorite was described in JS on Sunday this way: "Alan Borsuk is a longtime Milwaukee education reporter. His pieces looking at education issues will run regularly in the JS. Whoa Nelly!(At least his pieces will now be labeled opinion. That's an improvement.)
We will add a breakout at Bob Fest on the MPS school take-over. Should be a hot one.
August 15, 2009
Could we take a look at your credentials?
When Jim Doyle ran for governor, I don't recall any TV spots or printed material informing us that he might lead a take-over of Milwaukee's public schools or that he had expertise in education. Do you? And Tom Barrett, former state legislator and congressman didn't, as I recall, ask for votes so he could knock out the elected school board and take total control of Milwaukee's schools. Did you hear anything along those lines?
And Tony Evers ran this year, 2009, to head our schools and I don't remember him suggesting that "a vote for Evers is a vote for one-man rule in Milwaukee schools." Did you? (Had a Republican suggested this nonsense, these three would have headed the list of opponents.)
By now you are well aware of the plans of the Doyle-Barrett-Evers trifecta. The mayor would appoint the superintendent of Milwaukee schools, eliminate the nine people elected to govern Milwaukee schools or, if he wanted, he could just name a new board of "friendly advisers."
Doyle and Evers? they will work with Barrett, the Bradley Foundation, talk-show bloviators, in support of this anti-democratic move. Doyle's job? Sell the legislators on the notion that he and Barrett can get more dough from Arne and Barack if they follow Arne's lead. Whoa Nelly!
Think about it. Collective bargaining takes place between the union for teachers, MTEA, and the school board. Eliminate the board and it stands to reason that the collective bargaining agreement is dead and the union's voice silenced. Big move, lots of implications, scary times. How scary? Tim Sheehey, president of WMC's Milwaukee affiliate, is "grateful" and says "it is about time." And to give us an indication that he knows what he is doing, he warned "that the school district will go bankrupt because of unfunded retirement liabilities," unless the plan is adopted. Note to teachers--don't retire just yet! Sheehy has plans for you.
Sheehey's support and comments raise lots of questions. How long has he been involved in this coup? What will he do about promises made in bargaining?
When Sheehy said "It's about time," he is suggesting that it should have happened sooner! How come WMC and Sheehy know more than the Association of School Boards, the unions, and the legislators from Milwaukee? Who was invited to attend the secret meetings?
Note to the governor and the mayor. Before you start something this explosive, this anti-democratic, you had better build a consensus, explain all the details of your "plan," and put it to a vote--decisions made with Sheehy behind closed doors are probably bad ones.
Note to Evers: You were elected to lead not follow. Start now. Stop this train before it leaves the station. If they can eliminate school boards and collective bargaining promises you are next in line.
Tell us about the educational credentials of your two partners that would give us confidence they have a clue.
August 14, 2009
Behind closed doors
Peter Leidy sang his lyrics to the old song on Here & Now a couple months ago. We will ask him to sing it again at Fighting Bob Fest and dedicate his song to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Governor Jim Doyle, DPI Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, with special mention to recently departed DPI Superintendent Libby Burmaster, and Arne Duncan, Obama's Education Secretary(and grant giver}.
Just about everyone in education condemned the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative, but not Arne Duncan, appointed by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to run Chicago's schools. Arne liked the power vested in the mayor's choice--he could fire teachers, close schools, ignore teachers' unions, silence or eliminate elected school boards, and replace entire faculties without asking anyone. Democracy doesn't really work, so why bother? Now, it is true that some bleeding hearts accused Arne of heavy-handed approaches but, hey, tough love!
And now that the president has taken care of universal healthcare, it is time to turn to urban schools.
Last April, the mayor of Milwaukee (a city where a majority of adult African Americans are unemployed), Governor Doyle, and Burmaster issued a statement critical of the Milwaukee school board and hinting that a mayoral takeover of MPS was being discussed behind closed doors. (My blog post of April 25 will remind.) The buzz word was "accountability" of management. Accountability of the elected school board--not the mayor for public safety or the governor for budget shortfalls--no, the focus was on schools! If kids fail, it is the fault of elected Boards. Period.
Well they dropped the hammer yesterday. Emerging from closed door meetings, Doyle and Barrett, armed with support from Evers, announced a deal. The mayor envisions appointing both the MPS superintendent, and, sit before reading, the school board. I am not making this up. (WPR referred to this as a "detail." Yikes.)
Barrett said the magic words--the school system will be, you guessed it, "more accountable to the public." Why? Get this: because everyone knows the mayor and the superintendent "will be accountable directly to the mayor rather than nine board members." Translation, please.
Evers, who never, to our knowledge, mentioned an MPS takeover in his DPI campaign, is in support of the Doyle, Burmaster, Barret plan, but not, apparently, wildly enthused. "I think there are all sorts of reform issues...this could be one of them," he said.
Where is Arne? Oh, he says systems run by mayors are in line for lots of federal dollars. Whoa Nelly! If you want more money, without raising property taxes while dumping expensive insurance costs for teachers, take over to get in line!
I don't know how this story will unfold, but it should begin with transparency. The mayor, the governor, and the superintendent of DPI should inform us of all details, all long and short-range plans. Education is too important to be decided in secrecy. And democracy is too important to be snatched from the voters without a lot of discussion.
Open the doors. Let us in!
August 13, 2009
Could we get serious?
Much ado about the very bright and talented attorney appointed to head the Wisconsin Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). By now you have read the complaints from the GOP that Doyle's appointee was not a member of the Wisconsin Bar, tsk, tsk, etc., etc.
Here is my problem: Having been Deputy Attorney General I thought I knew something about the various lawyers in government. Governor Earl had an appointed attorney and he also turned to the state's law firm, the Department of Justice, or he asked for outside legal help. Frankly, I had never heard of the Office of Legal Counsel until the GOP outburst; Doyle's plea is that we shouldn't blame him because, while he knew she was not in the Bar when he hired Chandra Miller-Feinen, he assumed she had taken care of that detail. Then she resiged. Wow. We must be in good shape if this tops the agenda.
OLC? Return to anonymity. When? Now. GOP--get a life.
Hypocrisy: The Secretary of State, USA, is touring Africa. Blowing her top at a question from a student got all the publicity, but she took time to lecture Africans on, of all topics, corruption. Catch this part of her speech in Nigeria: She told the audience that Nigerians are desperately poor, despite having so much oil, [I am not making this up] because of 'a failure of government' at all levels."
The NYT reported, "Nigeria is notoriously corrupt" and she lectured them on this issue.
Imagine hearing that accusation when everyone knows the health care debate in her country is now dominated by lobbying, campaign cash, and secret deals. Corruption indeed. Not us! The business section of NYT had the story headlined, "A trickle of Aid for the Little Guy," just below coverage of a story on executive pay headlined, "Huge Bonus Hangs over Pay Review." If a $100 million payout bonus is exempt, what isn't?
One man. One-hundred million dollar bonus. Execs at Citigroup--the guys who received $45 billion in taxpayer assistance--are defending the guy's bonus. Whoa Nelly!
Listen up, Nigeria. Corruption stands between you and the universal prosperity we enjoy in corruption-free America. Yesterday NYT carried comments by Judge Rakoff on pre-merger bonuses: "Bank of Ameica and Merrill Lynch effectively lied to their shareholders." About what? Oil in Nigeria? Nope, $3.6 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill. And catch this from the judge: "Do Wall Street people expect to be paid large bonuses when their company lost $27 billion?" Good question, Judge. Good question. (Imagine how bad it would be if we were as corrupt as, say, Nigeria.)
Send Bernie Madoff to Nigeria. What they need is a good Ponzi scheme. And I'll pay for Billy Tauzin's airfare.
August 12, 2009
Insurance reform or real reform?
Time to get nervous, fellow progressives. President Obama said yesterday, "Every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got."
And now he says he has never supported a single-payer plan. Baloney! We have all seen the tape where he said as a candidate in Illinois, "first we must take back the Congress and then the presidency. I am a supporter of single-payer coverage." What changed his mind? Let me take a wild guess--the DLC and the insurance special interests.
Question, Mr. President: When have we "come close" to insurance reform before? And, am I dreaming, or do the Democrats control the White House, House of Representatives and Senate?
Mr. President, we want health care reform not insurance reform. If your party were not in control, insurance reform might be as much as we could hope for but not now.
You are right that the special interests are fighting. Their tools--cash for Baucus, Hoyer, and Pelosi campaigns, not to mention help from highly paid lobbyists who used to be Democratic leaders. And the phony demonstrators who are bought and paid for the opponents of real reform.
Astroturf: A perfect name for the paid mobs disrupting discussions around the country. Astroturf is to grass what insurance reform is to health care.
Having campaigned in this state many times, and with Fighting Bob Fest hosting thousands of folks, crowds do not, repeat do not, shout and yell. They don't yell that "god will punish supporters of universal health care." They give everyone a fair hearing. If the special interests win, who is to blame?
See you in Baraboo at Fighting Bob Fest for a civilized discussion.
August 11, 2009
Be sure to read...
Historian Stanley Kutler reminds us that "I am not a crook" Nixon resigned 35 years ago this week. You will enjoy Kutler's article, "All on tape." And Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting approach to To Kill a Mockingbird in the August 10 issue of The New Yorker. Kutler and Gladwell remind us of how fascinating and complicated it was a few decades ago. I highly recommend both.
Wisconsin Public Radio's Kathleen Dunn invited me on the air yesterday and it was fun. But one caller said something that made me uncomfortable. He suggested that the liberals love Barack and, therefore, have trouble finding fault with his presidency. I'm not sure he was right, but I do very much want him to succeed. Face it. One could not live through school desegregation, Bull Connor, George Wallace, SNCC, MLK Jr., the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and his brother, without feeling that Obama, if he is good, can eliminate racial division on his own. He carries a heavy load.
That, of course, is foolish thinking, but as Jesse Jackson has preached, we must keep hope alive. So when I see secret deals in the White House with the pharmaceutical industry I wince. Or when his legal team adopts the Bush legal position on detention, I am more than disappointed. I expect him to be different. Perhaps we are asking too much of one man. The caller was almost on target--but I think we are, in reality, so afraid he will fail that we feel a bit guilty when demanding that he live up to his potential. Whatever it is, we must keep the pressure on. We must demand the change he promised.
Long story--just begun.
August 10, 2009
Take a hard look at Wisconsin's criminal justice system and ask if something has gone terribly wrong. Politicians will tell you they have improved the system. Let's take a look.
My mentor in this area, the late Frank Remington, would not be pleased. Wisconsin pays attorneys who take public defender appointments $40 per hour--the lowest in the country. (I'm not making this up. Mississippi is better!) So, step one--raise the pay. The feds pay $100 per hour--let's join them.
District attorneys will tell you they are under-staffed and overwhelmed. On top of the normal caseload problems, Governor Doyle has ordered (as in ukase) eight furlough days for all assistant district attorneys. Furlough as in no pay for eight days. (Many doubt he can legally do that but, hey, it is summer time and heat makes us do foolish things.) We should be adding staff--not subtracting.
Prisons are full, jails are full, we can't, and should not, just build more of these dysfunctional institutions. It is time to declare that the demagoguery surrounding the passage of so-called Truth in Sentencing was just bloviating and the law should be repealed. Let judges be judges, case by case.
We need to look closely at incarceration. It doesn't work, it costs a lot of money, it requires no creative thinking. Wake up, Governor. Time to lead.
August 9, 2009
Granny D is coming
She walked across America at age 90 to promote campaign finance reform; she wrote You're Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell; she ran for the Senate; she has inspired thousands at Fighting Bob Fest and the good news today is that she will celebrate her 100th birthday with us on September 12 at the eighth Bob Fest.
Her visit reminds us that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn all campaign reform this fall and finally end the pretense of democracy in this land. "Of, by and for the corporations." Move over Abe.
The doctor gave her permission to travel and I'm sure you will want to be in Baraboo to welcome her "home."
What a line-up. See you in Baraboo.
Write on Hank, write on! Turns out Hank Paulson wasn't a stranger at Goldman Sachs. No, he remained in the loop. While told by Treasury Dept. lawyers not to contact Goldman---are you sitting down? "Hank disregarded that advice "because the crisis required action." Yousers! He did apply for a waiver from the ethics code after talking to Goldman. A waiver? Send him to share a cell with Bernie Madoff I say.
But Hank can't talk now: "He is writing his memoirs and his publisher has barred him from granting interviews!" I am not kidding. And you wonder why people have tuned out?
August 8, 2009
JOBS JOBS JOBS
Unemployment fell to a mere 9.4 percent last month. Altogether, 247,000 jobs were lost, gone, vaporized. And that's the good news! At least 422,000 unemployed people gave up looking for work because there are few jobs and lots of applicants. Stock markets up, bonuses at Citigroup up, greed up, defense spending up, spirits down.
Get this--584,000 of us have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. They are called "long-term" unemployed. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Bank of America "bonus babies" are called "lucky, worthy, and essential." How essential? Oh, a million dollar bonus should tell you how essential they are.
If you are a black adult male in Milwaukee you are in trouble and not considered essential. Currently 55 percent of you are unemployed. Good luck finding a job. Tom Harkin, our keynote speaker at Fighting Bob Fest, once said "We need more than 'jobs.' Hell, slaves had jobs. We want good jobs that pay more than poverty-level wages."
We want universal comprehensive health care. But not so fast. Those folks in thousand-dollar suits in Washington tell us you don't want it--you don't want to be worry-free about the health care available to your kids. (Face it. You would miss seeing a cannister at the cash register in the local café, with a picture of a child in need of surgery, begging you to make it possible with your pocket change.)
But more good news. You can borrow the money for the operation at a pay day loan-shark outlet. Yup. And, not to worry. You can pay the 200-400 percent interest with, you guessed it, a bigger loan. How lucky are you that you live in Wisconsin--the only state that does not regulate these sharks! And aren't you pleased that Democrats and Republicans want to maintain that unregulated status because if they are limited to, say 36 percent, some of them will stop helping us and fire employees! You can't make it up. Every night you should get down on your knees and say a prayer that those nice money-lenders will remain in our state. We need them! Remember the operation to save the child.
Then there is one program that is working--Cash for Clunkers. Naturally, Fox Views and other wing-nuts deride this idea. And they oppose regulation of loan sharks, higher minimum wage laws, single-payer health care, fair trade, an end to our occupation of Iraq, a pull-out from Afghanistan, reduced defense spending. What do they support? Yup. The free market--unless they need a bail-out.
August 7, 2009
Welcome Wendell Potter to Fighting Bob Fest
Fighting Bob Fest is shaping up to be the most important forum on health care in the country. Senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders, champions of the little people, are coming to Bob Fest on September 12; so are champions of universal coverage, congresswomen Gwen Moore and Tammy Baldwin; and the Raging Grannies, who push single-payer coverage in song will be there.
And so is Wendell Potter! After 20 years of working with CIGNA, Potter has come over to the good side and now works with one of our favorites, The Center for Media and Democracy. You saw Potter on Moyers' Journal; or you caught him testifying before Senator Rockefeller. "CIGNA Whistelblower to Testify" was the CBS headline. Moyers aired the interview twice and I watched it both times.
We are delighted Potter will speak. Fighting Bob would approve and so would Belle. His theme: "Profits before Patients."
Must legal advisers practice law? Who knew? Jim Doyle appointed Chandra Miller Fienen as his senior adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. Some attorneys have their shorts in a bundle because she is not admitted to practice in Wisconsin. So what? Chances that lawyer Doyle takes legal advice from Miller or anyone? Slim and none.
There are more important issues, like the state of Wisconsin paying public defenders the lowest hourly rate in the entire country. Now that is worth getting excited about. That is a disgrace. Doyle's legal adviser barred from the State Bar's summer picnic? Don't worry about it.
Sotomayor: Finally! A Hispanic woman on the Court. Congratulations all around. It was 68-31 in favor. But, Sessions warns--no more appointments of judges who are empathetic! Or else Sessions will hold his breath until he dies and then you will feel bad. Empathetic perhaps.
I'm still apoplectic over the secret deal between White House and Tauzin. That reminds me of Willy Nelson's "Dreams don't make noise when they die."
August 6, 2009
Do not read!
The following must be a Republican propaganda piece to undermine confidence Democrats have in our President. It can't be accurate, so cover your eyes.
NYT reports, "White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal [really--stop reading] to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion."
"White House officials acknowledged for the first time that it had committed to protect drug makers from bearing further costs." For example, Obama "assented to move away from ideas like allowing the government to negotiate drug prices or the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada." I am not kidding!
Must have been someone desperate for a deal. Billy Tauzin met twice with Rahm Emanuel at the White House after reaching agreement with Max Baucus! And, according to NYT, "They blessed the deal."
It might be true because Tauzin, who heads the trade group, spelled out the deal while expressing his belief the drug industry could trust Obama. Not only that, he threatened to pull the multi-million dollar TV spots paid for by his trade group supporting Obama's plan! Whoa Nelly!
"That is a done deal. Now it is up to the White House and Senator Baucus to follow through on their end," said Tauzin.
Yesterday the president urged Democrats to stop attacking the Blue Dogs instead of raising hell about the efforts of the industry-sponsored shouters who are hell-bent on disrupting open discussion.
Peter Leidy will sing his version of "Behind Closed Doors" at Bob Fest.
And Obama told us it would no longer be "business as usual in Washington." Yikes!
Can we still win Medicare for all? Damned right we can. See you in Baraboo.
August 5, 2009
Truth needs her boots
Shaw said, "A lie gets half-way around the globe before Truth gets her boots on." It turns out she may have lost her boots. Check out these items: "A trade group representing coal producers and power companies indirectly hired a lobbying firm that sent fake letters" to members of Congress.
NYT reports that the letters purported to represent non-profit groups opposed to climate change legislation. (Ed Markey suggested this may be a "fraud on Congress," but I doubt if any jury would find that this fraud is out of the ordinary for this Congress. Need proof? Take another look at Bill Moyers' Journal. His interview with former Cigna director of communications Wendell Potter is a classic.)
#2---"Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy."
Who paid the writers? Well, surprise surprise, a pharmaceutical company--Wyeth.The articles pushed the benefits of hormone replacement therapy while down-playing the risks." Wow! Truth--grab your boots! The articles appeared in, get this, 18 medical journals. Predictably, "The articles did not disclose,"...you finish the thought. Minor point--Wyeth is a defendant in 8,400 suits from women claiming they developed illnesses as a consequence or we would never know the truth about these articles. Is this an honest mistake? Ya, sure Ole.
I predict Wyeth and the AMA will condemn the lawyers.
#3: "G.E. Agrees to pay $50 million to settle SEC charge". G.E. had "misled investors with fraudulent accounting." A mistake like the fake letters? Nope!
"G.E. bent the rules beyond the breaking point"-- and the word that sticks in the throat--"intentionally."
Then we have the fake crowds yelling at Democrats at meetings on health care--paid for by the healthcare industry.
Lemme see. They lie about global warming, promote "clean coal", down-play riskss in hormon replacement, intentionally use false information in accounting practices, hire people to disrupt mettings on healthcare, author fake letters to Congress.
Hello? See you at Fighting Bob Fest for a truth-telling moment. Let's hope Truth has her boots on.
August 4, 2009
The Fight Has Just Begun
That is the theme of Fighting Bob Fest number 8. September 11 is the kickoff at the Barrymore in Madison, the main event, as always, is in Baraboo the next day at the Sauk County fairgrounds.
The timing could not be better. Members of Congress are holding constituent listening sessions, while right-wing "Astro-turf" (as in phony grassroots) groups try to fool people into thinking they are honest-to-God grassroots voters opposing health care for all. Remember the Florida "insurrection" demanding that they stop counting the votes? The corporate media went for the fake and we ended up with Bush and Cheney. After the shouting stopped, the truth came out: the "insurrection" was mainly paid "agitators."
This time, everyone understands the game. Phony protests bought, rented, leased and planned by the health care industry are faking a revolt against universal coverage. It won't work, but expect some commotion at Bob Fest anyway.
Fighting Bob Fest, coming just weeks before the all-important vote in Congress, is loaded with speakers on health care: Harkin, Sanders, Farley, Vinehout, Baldwin and Moore--a tough lineup for the Astro-turf crowd.
Some have suggested that we take action on the 12th. How do you feel? Buses to D.C., petitions, resolutions, demonstrations? Your choice.
How is the "good war" going? Here are a few headlines: "Insecurity and Fears of Fraud Cast Pall over Election in Afghanistan." Don't like that one? How about this: "Bomb Aimed at Police Kills At least Ten in Afghanistan." Or maybe this upbeat note: "To date, 756 service members killed in Afghanistan." How about, "NATO Chief Urges Bigger European Role in Afghan War"?
I suspect attendees at Fighting Bob Fest will have something to say about the "good war."
August 3, 2009
Good news or bad?
Woke up planning to write a positive report on a meeting with Congresswoman and Fighting Bob regular Gwen Moore, but before I got started I read a newspaper article about pay-day loans and almost plunged into the Madison-based scandal before telling you about Gwen. So, let me tell you. About 80 people from around the state listened to Gwen discuss the need for strong health care reform: "Not just any old bill. I will fight for real reform."
The crowd, on a warm afternoon, was with her all the way. While she wouldn't question the motives of the self-named "Blue Dog" Democrats, she made it clear they would not win her support. "Not on your life," she said. With Tom Harkin, Bernie Sanders, Kathleen Vineout and Gwen all coming to Fighting Bob Fest on September 12, we should have quite a time.
What a pleasure to hear Gwen Moore. She is the real article.
Now on to pay-day loans: Ya think we don't need newspapers? Well, we do. Need proof? Read Cary Spivak and Patrick Marley's excellent expose in MJS. Catch this headline: "Payday Lenders giving lobbyists big payday to stop interest cap."
You know the story--we have written about this scandal often and you see the payday loan-shark outlets sprinkled around the state. Those at the bottom of the economic ladder go in for a loan. The rates go from 100 percent interest to "sky's the limit." Borrowers often begin with a small loan but when unable to pay the rates can skyrocket quickly hitting 400% or more as borrowers "roll over the loans." Wisconsin is the only state in America that does not regulate this awful "industry."
Here is the scandal. Lobbying against the victims of the loan sharks are people who led the Democratic efforts to take back the majority in both the Assembly and Senate last year. As Howard Cosell once asked while looking skyward, "When will the hypocrisy stop!"
Governor Doyle is expected to return $11,000 in campaign contributions from the sharks. (Who expects him to do the right thing? I do and I'm confident you do.)
August 2, 2009
Cash for what?
It probably began as a joke, but then someone had the good sense to implement the "Cash for Clunkers" program. It is generous to call it a "program," given all the confusion on car lots across the nation, but the idea of putting money in the hands of people who will spend it makes so much sense you wonder why the Washington folks are so surprised that this idea worked. (Imagine spending on something other than a new highway!)
Jon Stewart asked mid-credit crisis why we don't just give anyone who buys an American car a bonus. I don't recall the number he used, but I remember thinking, "Hey! That might work."
Think about it. If the minimum wage went up, those affected would spend the money. Instead of billions/trillions to the banks to encourage them to get money circulating, Stewart had it right: Give the money to the folks who spend! When? Now. So, as unemployment insurance runs out, extend the benefits for 5 years. Don't dilly-dally, up the amount and keep it going.
August 1, 2009
Mr. Rose didn't respond
Ah, how lucky we are to live in a country that protects the right of some of our citizens to speak freely. (Not to a police officer in the foyer, but hey, Gates is black and should obey orders.)
No, I am not going to re-live the beer in the garden story (see Bob Herbert for my views). I am, however, going to comment a bit on Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Immelt, Bill-O-The Clown, and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Murdoch heads Fox-distorted-views; Ailes holds a special place in the Garvey home as the media piranha for former Senator Bob Kasten; Jeff Immelt of General Electric, proves that the press is free if you own it; and Charlie Rose, the TV journalist on PBS, acted like a hobo invited into the big house for dinner.
Seems that Rose and those he talks with in private decided it was unhealthy for Americans to have Bill-O and Keith attacking the owners of their cable stations. I guess attacks on Bill-O or Keith were OK, but suddenly Bill-O attacked Jeff Immelt, chairman of GE. Tsk, tsk. (The NYT called it "an ambush.")
Thin-skinned Immelt was asked about GE's business in Iran. Whoa Nelly! If Immelt is not safe from questions that might expose conflicts of interest like that, is anyone safe?
So, Rose hosted an off-the-record summit meeting sponsored by Microsoft in May. You can't make it up. Rose asked Immelt and Murdoch about the feud. The result? A cease-fire--between Bill-O and Keith--sealed by a handshake by Murdoch and Immelt. The loser? You and me. If the big bosses are called out, heads will roll.
Charlie Rose will never regain his special place.
GE declined to comment; Murdoch declined to comment; Charlie-the-peace maker declined to comment. But kudos to Keith, who emailed that he is party to no deal. He may join the unemployed soon.
But read this, "'It was time to grow up,' a senior employee of one of the companies said." Yikes! Bean bag or croquet anyone?