May 21, 2013
Why is everybody always picking on me?
Democratic Party chair Mike Tate is telling people that by asking how much the Democratic Party shells out for his compensation package I am picking on him. No, Mike, I am not picking on you. I am just asking you to tell us how much the party will have to pay the next chair and how much you get paid. You could get some very talented people for the salary a legislator gets.
The admin committee should be held accountable not just you. My bone with you is to ask why you did not notify Democrats or the media about the filing deadline--last Friday I think but cannot say for certain. You give the impression that "the fix is in." Is it?
May 19, 2013
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski is leaving his post with Democrats. He has been the party's spokesman for three-and-a-half years, according to party chair Mike Tate, but was demoted after a couple of statements. One compared Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer and a second one suggested that he does not fully suport a woman's right to chose abortion.
The WSJ remained silent on his compensation. No mention of a severance package, and no indication if the party has hired a replacement or if they have named someone. Is it true that the party will pay $120,000? C'mon! This is serious business not bean bags. We have a right to know all the facts.
Mike Tate still refuses to tell us his compensation package. Will hell freeze over first?
May 18, 2013
Was there a deadline?
We were told by a source that the chairmanship of the Wisconsin Democratic Party will be handed to Mike Tate again. Who decided? Apparently Mike Tate, the current chair, decided to set yesterday as the deadline for applicants to file for "his" job.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there does it make a noise? Asked another way, if Mike Tate is the only Democrat who will qualify for the job of chairman, who will decide his compensation, priorities and plans? Well, apparently the answer is Mike Tate.
I don't really know Mike Tate, so it is hard to tell if he knows what he is doing. Some of the tasks are obvious: candidate recruitment; fund raising; framing the issues for debates; expanding the party base. What is he doing to prepare for a right-to-work campaign in Wisconsin? Where is the master plan for the party to become relevant? What grade should we give this well compensated employee of the party?
I can say that I have received hundreds of fundraising requests from Mike Tate but never a request for my position on policy. Hells bells, I can't even find out what he is paid. The Democratic Party appears to be out of gas. Time for an internal debate on the direction of the Democratic Party--third party or second!
May 17, 2013
A second Party
Fighting Bob believed in weak political parties. For example, he believed that the people should nominate candidates for office, not the party bosses. If Fighting Bob, his son Phil (note: this post originally identified Phil as Robert's brother), and his wife Belle could see us now they might change their minds a tad.
Sit before reading the following. I have been badgering Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate to post his compensation package online. He refuses to do that and will not disclose his compensation to party members or media who call the Democratic Party office. I have an idea that his compensation package is quite generous. A former elected official is also in the dark, but she said "rumor has it" his pay is in six figures plus insurance and memberships in some exclusive clubs paid for by the Democrats! (Milwaukee Athletic Club and North Hills Country Club.)
Here is the straw that broke the camel's back. Tate announced that he will run again, but won't tell Democrats or the media when the election will be held, when the filing deadline is, etc. Imagine trying to recruit someone really good and when asked how much she would be paid is told that it is none of her business!
We were told yesterday that the filing deadline for the two-year job is today. Yup! Today. Notice? Nope! We called the party but we were only allowed to talk with an intern who knew almost nothing--by design. I asked if a notice had been sent to Democrats and he didn't know.
More rumors. After Graeme Zielinski compared Walker with Jeff Dahmer people were outraged and Tate gave the impression that Zielinski was suspended or fired. When Zielinski said he was not really in favor of abortion, some caution flags went up. He went into hiding.
More rumors. He (Graeme) has been making $60,000 per year, but is now moving on and the party has hired a person to replace him with a salary of $120,000. (You can't make this stuff up!)
Why do I suspect that Tate's pay is high? If he was not earning a big salary he would not be fighting so hard to keep the job. And he might be telling us he is making a big sacrifice.
Paul Wellstone was fond of saying "we are the democratic wing of the Democratic Party." What wing in Tate in?
May 14, 2013
I never imagined retirement, but tomorrow I will officially retire from the practice of law. I will not "retire" from Fighting Bob. In fact, I hope to spend more time on FightingBob.com.
We had a great evening recently to thank volunteers for all their hard work on Bob Fest 11.
Mark your calenders for number 12. Kickoff September 6 and Fighting Bob Fest on September 7.
Just thought you should know.
May 13, 2013
Whenever I look back on the third year of Obama's presidency, looming over me will be a picture of Harry Reid. Why? Because he refused to reform the filibuster rules. The result is that Obama's nominees are not being approved. Federal judgeships remain unnfilled, EPA and many other top job openings are slowing the work of the administration. Reid is doing more harm to Obama than the GOP. Big mistake Harry, big mistake.
I remember When Russ Feingold voted in support of lots of Bush nominees saying that the president deserves to appoint his team. So much for that bull.
Let's pressure Reid to get with it.
May 12, 2013
If you are homeless, hungry, and cold, there is one way to make this a happy Mother's Day. Slap-a-cop! You may have read the article by now, but it is worth repeating.
A woman trying to quit smoking took the law into her own hands. In order to quit she needed a smoke-free area and the jail provided that along with a few meals. She pled no contest, was found guilty of miseaner battery and tossed into a relatively comfortable jail cell. Could this become a movement?
Is this a new version of Alice's Restaurant? Slap a cop, cop a meal, you get the drift.
May 11, 2013
The most important issue of the day is defined by a headline in today's NY Times: "Heat-trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fear of Major Climate Change." While Rome burns, Inhofe, Issa, King and crew are not afraid to face the future. Why are they not afraid? I can't figure it out.
Are they protected by the bible? Controlled by ignorance? Or are they, in a word, morons? A professor at Columbia, who is not a moron, said, "It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster." It sure does! It brings to mind Barbara Tuckman's March to Folly. Then there are articles that should scare the bejesus out of you including this one: "Study finds an increase in arsenic levels in chicken." Whoa Nelly. What else do you need to know?
We are out of clean drinking water in many communities while fracking continues polluting millions of gallons of water to extract oil and gas. Damn the consequences! We want cheap energy no matter how much it really costs.
May 10, 2013
New coach or new owner?
George Karl was voted coach of the year in the NBA. Karl, you might remember, once coached the Milwaukee Bucks. But he was fired. Why? Well, if the owner of a sports franchise keeps losing there must be someone to blame other than the owner. Van Gundy, Nelson, Karl, etc.
Please get ready for story after story in the Journal Sentinel arguing for a new arena to house the hapless Bucks I am serious. The Walkerites, including the doyen of River Hills, Alberta Darling, will soon tell us that we could lose the NBA franchise unless we put the wrecking ball to the Bradley Center and build a taxpayer funded Kohl Center in Milwaukee. This would allow the Bucks to continue rent free for a long, long time. There is nothing wrong with the Bradley Center, but Kohl and the leaders of the Greater Milwaukee Committee will argue that a new facility is needed to draw more fans. Bull roar.
We cannot afford high speed rail or a tolley or better schools, but we can afford a new arena for Herb Kohl? C'mon! No one will prove that a new arena will improve the win-loss ratio, but accept on faith alone that Milwaukee will be a better city with a new arena. Nonsense.
May 9, 2013
How do you know when you are losing?
James Hansen, who just retired from NASA, argues persuasively that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will be a game-changer. I can think of few issues that will define the Obama presidency as clearly as the pipeline. Almost every legitimate environmental organization opposes construction and it is now on Obama's desk. It is up to you, Mr. President. If Romney had won, the approval would have been made by now. Bush is not president. Obama is!
Will he or won't he sign the approvals to proceed? Place your money on approval of the pipeline when the administration is already trying to come up with a plan to hide the pipeline decision. Read this headline in the NY Times today: "Foes Suggest a Trade Off if Pipeline is Approved." Whoa Nelly. Are they crazy? It looks like the decision has been made so throw a bone to the good guys and tell them to get out of the way. When the ice in the Arctic has melted, once food shortages lead to riots, once the heat goes up 8 degrees, it is probably over! And too late to do anything. I mean OVER.
So, what do our leaders focus on? Benghazi!
Heritage Foundation is in the shadow of the Bradley Foundation. Remember, Bradley sponsored the Bell Curve, holding that blacks kids were not as smart as white kids! When will his nonsense stop?
Did you know that Hispanic kids are not as intelligent as whites? And neither were their parents and grandparents. Thanks, Heritage Foundation!
May 7, 2013
Can't hear you!
As Rick Perry might say, "Oops." The Vikings in the NFL love free speech so much that they will go so far as to fire an employee for expressing an opinion, presumably to give him more time to get his message across.
Chris Kluwe, the Vikings punter, supported gay marriage. Now he is out of a job. Kluwe wondered if this might "discourage other NFL players from speaking out on issues." Ya think?
Read the NY Times story today.
May 6, 2013
Here comes the Cat. And he ain't no kitten.
When I ran for office, a number of people asked how I dealt with the pressure. I always smiled and responded that if you want to feel pressure, think of yourself as a union leader who has just taken his members out on strike. That is pressure! If you run for office, the worst that happens is that you lose. (Or perhaps win!) If you take your members out on strike they could lose their jobs permanently, lose pension and insurance and, of course, the union might well lose union security--dues check-off.
You must consider the possibility that management will not bargain in order to break the spirit of the union or force the union to go on strike. Management might lock out the employees, will threaten to close the plant, lay-off a big percentage of the work force, or move the plant to Mobile or Bangladesh.
The union leadership is almost always on the defensive. If they urge the members to strike some members are furious. If the union tells the members to keep working under the old agreement, some members will ask "why pay dues" if the union can't improve wages and working conditions. A legitimate question.
What is the problem? The problem is that the National Labor Relations Board is a body of laws, regulations and decisions that sit on the shelf because the GOP has killed the enforcement power of the NLRB. The NLRB is supposed to make sure both labor and management obey the law but it does no such thing. The result is that those companies that laugh at the NLRB simply ignore directives from the board. Instead of pressuring management to bargain in good faith, the NLRB simply watches the slow death of the labor movement.
I wish the Steelworkers in South Milwaukee well, but the dice are loaded.
Keep watching for news about Caterpillar and the United Steelworkers. Dimes to donuts Cat will do everything possible to kill the union.
May 4, 2013
Scott Walker, our college drop-out, is down-playing around with his presidential possibilities. Whoa Nelly! His "presidential" plans? Egad! Let me say it again. His "presidential" possibilities. Now do you believe me?
His platform appears to be 1.) "I survived a recall" and, 2.) Whatever the Koch brothers want it to be. The far right folks are lining up behind Walker because they don't have a viable candidate who is sufficiently to the right of Sarah Palin who could win if the Kochs put in roughly $70 million. And why wouldn't they put $70 million in to take over the White House and the Congress?
We are no longer a democracy, so does it matter who runs? Share your thoughts with us please. I say yes, in the long run, but probably not in the short run. it does matter because democracy could be re-introduced and we have to pick up the shattered country and put it back together again. Can't expect Humpty-Dumpty to do it all!
How about the announcement that the Republicans might need to take up arms to gain control. There you have it. These nuts are ready to use the second amendment to shoot their way to power. Damn. Where is John Wayne when we need him? My thought is to take these people seriously. We had two friends killed by a skinhead because he wanted to kill a Jew for Christmas. And then there was David Koresh and the Branch Dividians, and lots of others.
We can talk bravely or dismissively, but I am alarmed. You can bet that the Karl Roves of the world are gathering names just in case they have to start shooting.
May 2, 2013
Snow in May?
Believe it. Co-host Eric Schubring is snowbound in Hayward, so our regular Thursday Fighting Bob Radio program will be delayed.
Sorry, but we will make it up!
Boots on the ground in Iran or Syria?
Retired colonel Wilkerson, chief staff for Colin Powell, warned that the same forces that got us into Iraq are trying to use Syria as a reason to bomb the hell out of Iran before invading. Yikes! Just as we thought peace might be in full bloom in our garden, here comes John McCain with his right-wing buddies and a late-spring frost.
We are in economic danger because we fought two unfunded wars. Is sequester part of the build up to the next unwinnable war? Keep your eyes focused. I can hear them now. "Yes we made an exception for air travel. Why not for our troops to stop the evil-doers?
If anyone knows how much Dem Party chair Mike Tate is paid, please tell us. He won't say!
May 1, 2013
Private sector bargaining
It makes me wonder. Union employees belonging to the United Steelworkers rejected a terrible six-year deal proposed by Caterpillar in South Milwaukee. In years gone by, the Cat offer would have been laughed at, but these days there isn't much laughing.
The deal that was offered would freeze wages for six years. Ten years ago the union would have walked immediately after a rejection, but the union now is understandably scared that Caterpillar is out to break the union. So the union asked the company to extend the current contract and return to the bargaining table. (Don't bet on it.) The company was training replacement workers in case there was a strike. Nice.
Caterpillar purchased Bucyrus International in 2010 for $7.6 billion. Bucyrus had good relations for decades with the union but who knows what the bottom line is now. Here is a hint. Cat is the world's largest manufacturer of mining equipment. Caterpillar, trying for the Pinocchio award for this year, said, "We believed that our employees rejected what we believed to be a competitive contract offer."
Employees are paid between $18 and $34 per hour.
Here is some speculation. A deal will be made with the Steelworkers, but it will be contingent upon the union helping to gain approval of the proposed mines in northern Wisconsin. Then the Walker administration will pressure the unions to support the mining bill, pitting workers against workers.
April 30, 2013
And you thought we were winning their hearts and minds
They must be kidding! Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirms that the CIA dropped off bags of money on his doorstep every month. He could spend the money without oversight or accounting. Some estimate that tens of millions were given to the president of Afghanistan, but in a news conference he said the payments were for a small amount! I believe...
Some of the money paid off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support Karzai depends on to remain in office.
This is truly outrageous. Karzai is more corrupt than we are! Should we expect to see the Koch brothers in Kabul? Karl Rove?
While the CIA was bribing Karzai, the death toll of our soldiers killed in Afghanistan continues to mount. We are now over 2,100. For what? And this is the "smart war"?
April 29, 2013
Not your fault?
Who is at fault then for hundreds of deaths in the collapse of the building in Bangladesh? The owner of the clothing factory says, "Don't blame me." The western clothing importers say, "Don't blame us." Ah, it must be the workers' fault. They have not denied it while digging through the ruble in hopes of finding a lost husband, wife, mother or brother. Whose fault is it?
Let's start with the customers. Who are the companies that bought products from this living hell? J.C. Penney, Benetton and Pri-Mark to name a few. I hope all of them are sorry, but sorry ain't enough. The Benettons of the world should be forced to pay a living wage, or the their products made by virtual slaves will be stopped at our border confronted with a sign that says, "Open for Business but not death on the job and exploitation."
The NY Times reported that western brands expressed sorrow over the accident. How touching! But none have agreed to tougher independent safety inspections.
Do these big companies really give a hoot about the lives lost? Hell no! They could turn on a calculator to figure out how people could live on 18 cents per hour. They had to know that lives were at risk. They had to make decisions to not press for better working conditions and wages.
This is not a moment to get all misty-eyed about America the beautiful. This is an outrage.
April 28, 2013
Wealth matters. No kidding!
A professor from Stanford wrote an op-ed in the N.Y. Times under this headline: "No Rich Child Left Behind." That is reality. Not exactly hot news, but I hope Scott Walker reads the article as he plunges in to expand the voucher program. The article asserts that income is a better predictor of success in school than race. Now, face it, we have always instinctively known that was the case. No amount of bull feathers will obscure the fact that money or lack of money early in life will be an important, indeed crucial, factor in childhood development. A child coming into first grade who reads at a fourth-grade level is bound to do better. More money--higher test scores. For that reason and others I was cynical about "No Child Left Behind" and Arnie Duncan's "Race to the Top." Both seem like gimmicks.
We don't need gimmicks. We need fewer voucher schools and more teachers to make up for the educational deficit facing poor school districts. So, what do we do about the wage gap, the wealth gap, and the education gap?
We need more nutrition, more teachers, smaller class. Stop the games.
Gimmicks won't cut the mustard.
April 27, 2013
Whose idea was this anyway?
Hooray! Airlines will run on time. Okay, okay, Head Start kids will continue to suffer; people who depend on food stamps will continue to suffer, but we can't inconveniece the business class folks now, can we?
How about that Walker! Rent to own in his budget. Too much says Mike Ellis. Mike says rent to own is thievery. First the GOP promotes pay-day loans that end up costing as much as 500% interest. Now Walker wants to bring rent to own to Wisconsin so that poor people can pay twice or three times as much for furnture and appliances. What's next?
It turns out that factory workers in Bangladesh were paid as little as 18 cents per hour. And you can bet that the fringe benefit package is just great.
April 26, 2013
The cost of life-extending drugs
The last sentence of the NY Times article on the cost of cancer drugs would be a good way to start the discussion about the cost of health care, with emphasis on the pharmaceutical industry.
The new drugs designed to extend life for a few weeks or months are so expensive that only the wealthy can afford to pay the price. A doctor in London was quoted saying, "Pharmaceutical companies have lost their moral sense." He concluded that we are getting to the point where it is becoming unsustainable.
Someone asked, "If you are making $3 billion a year on Gleevec could you get by with $2 billion?" Another comment, this one from the director of the Knight Cancer Center, asked when do you cross the line from essential profits to "profiteering"? Damned good question.
And when you pause and think about it, who decided to pay Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin millions to lobby for the pharmaceutical companies? And who decided that negotiations for lower prices should be forbidden? Yikes!
Perhaps we can help the corporations find their moral compass.
April 24, 2013
I can hardly believe it but Mike Tate announced that he will seek a third term as chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. While he has been in the chair the GOP has gained total control over all three branches of state government and there is no discussion about a Democratic candidate to oppose Walker. I can believe that he is running, but cannot believe that he might be unopposed!
Tate will have a hard time finding work based on his performance over the last two terms. Democrats need leadership and Tate is not a leader.
I did not receive a call, e-mail or fax from Mike informing me that he is running again. Not that I am so important, but since I had to learn his decision by reading about it in the Wisconsin State Journal I will bet thousands of Democrats were as surprised as I am.
On the other hand, I should expect a cold shoulder because I've had the temerity to ask how much he is paid as chair. I couldn't get that information from Tate or his office. But it is understandable that Mike did not notify other Dems.
His spokesman, Graeme Zielinski, is apparently still on staff despite comparing Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer. And Zielinski angered many progressives when he announced that he really is not a big fan of a woman's right to decide reproductive issues, i.e. choice. The Democratic Party staff is more rogue than organized.
As women are attacked in North Dakota, Arkansas, Virginia and several other states (have no doubt Wisconsin will be in the hot seat soon), why would the chair hire anti-choice staff? What is the message to women in Wisconsin?
And, once again, I ask Tate to tell us his current salary. Is that asking too much?
The Republicans are wild about the university system having some money in reserve. They prefer the UW be on its knees as Walker and Vos push quietly for privatization of the Madison campus. They want the UW in beggars clothes at all times.
Advice to Walker: Keep your eye on jobs instead of more Koch-inspired nonsense.
April 23, 2013
A day of rest
I decided this morning to take a day off. So, please write a guest blog for us; 250-500 words. I will be back tomorrow.
April 22, 2013
Not your fault, Abner
One of my all-time favorite congressmen is Abner Mikva. He represented constituents in northern Illinois in the House, and later was appointed as an appellate court judge and White House counsel. Abner offered a bill every few years to ban assault weapons when he was a congressman. And, of course, his amendment rarely got more than a few votes. He recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I look at it sometimes as my greatest failure."
What infuriates him is the Democrats' willingness to concede that the finding by the Supreme Court in D.C. vs. Heller. conferring gun rights on individuals is correct. Mikva calls that court decision "absolute garbage." Why do Democrats concede that the holding in Heller is correct? My guess is that Democrats think that ducking this issue will help them in red states. The path of most nonresistance. Dust off Profiles in Courage.
I believe that the battle must continue. We will prevail if the 90 percent act. Listen to Judge Mikva.