Friday, March 31, 2006
Army bans privately purchased armor
Turns out it wasn't a low heat bill year after all
There is a story today in the Wisconsin State Journal that blows up one of the reasons some of the Republican state legislators trotted out as why we didn't need a special session to allocate more money to help people with their heating bills this year. Some of the Republicans said we didn't need it because it had been a mild winter.
There are about 29,000 reasons in this story that make this not true. Xcel Energy has 23,000 people that are behind on their heating bills this year and that is up from 17,000 last year at this time. Alliant Energy has another 6,000 people struggling to pay their bills.
Was it that hard to see this coming for the Republican legislators? We do live in Wisconsin. A mild winter means we have a record number of days where the temperature doesn't drop below thirty degrees. Warmer yes, but you still need the heat on. Combine that with energy bills that went up thirty percent and wages that didn't go up even close to that much or at all, and you've got thousands of people that can't make up the difference.
Two for one
Marisue Horton wrote a letter to the editor that was published by the Wisconsin State Journal on an issue I've been thinking about with the Madison School Board race. Why are Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak running a joint campaign and is it a good strategy?
A couple of weekends ago there were two campaign cards in my door. One was from Cole and one was from Mathiak. I thought it was interesting but probably just two folks sharing volunteers to get more done. But this week I received a piece of mail from the campaigns of the candidates with both of them on it so they have definitely linked themselves.
But is this a good strategy? Campaigns often link themselves with other candidates on literature, but it is usually an unknown candidate linking themselves to a well-known popular incumbent. Not only are both of the school board candidates trying to make names for themselves yet, they are running in two completely different kinds of races. One is running in an open seat and one is running against an incumbent so they might have been better off on their own using different strategies to fit their own race.
Horton, the letter to the editor writer, brings up another good question in her letter. Cole and Mathiak are trying to give the impression that one of the problems of the school board is that it is split into alliances. If that is true, why should voters vote to send another alliance?
Thursday, March 30, 2006
U.S. Senate passes ethics 'reform'
Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is again taking the lead in Congress but many of his own Democratic colleagues are unwilling to follow him on this one either. The Kansas City Star has a good article with an opening paragraph that really says it all:
The Senate passed a stripped-down lobbying reform bill Wednesday after almost comical discussions about why members who earn $165,000 a year couldn’t pay for their own burger at McDonald’s.Senator Trent Lott seems to think someone has to buy him a meal for him to listen to his constituents.
Feingold had a quick response for him that I think most Americans would agree with since it's what they do everyday - pay for your own meal. Feingold questioned why the lack of a free meal would keep Lott from his job.
Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said that an extended ban on free meals would have made it harder for him to help constituents.
“I’m a big fan of Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s,” Lott said. “Would I not be able to go to lunch with a longtime friend who owns those McDonald’s? Not only did I miss an opportunity to be with a friend, but I did not have the opportunity to hear the challenges and difficulties in running a small business in these towns.”
“It’s really very simple: Just to pay your own way,” Feingold said. “I just don’t understand what the problem is.”But, Feingold's amendment was rejected by the Senate 68-30. Can you say loophole?
Our bashful state legislators
What is it about the Taxpayer Protection Amendment that makes Republican state legislators unwilling to talk to the public?
Is it the fact that even the biggest proponents of the amendment aren't sure what it does and now think it needs to fixed? Again. Is it the fact that the more people get to know this rehash of TABOR they see it for what it is? TABOR with a new name. Or is it that when they took it the county they thought it would get the best reception, the public registered 230 against and 30 for it?
This week legislators again held a meeting on the amendment and they didn't want the public to attend again. In fact according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Senator Glenn Grothman said this:
Grothman said in his invitation that no notices of the two-hour hearing would be sent to the news media and that the intention was not to invite the general public.And to add insult to injury, Grothman lets the public know he thinks listening to them is a waste of time.
"To be honest, we learned a lot more from the invitation-only meeting," Grothman said, comparing the first invitation-only hearing with the first traditional public hearing.They learned more or they heard more of what they wanted to hear? Those pesky residents that will have to live with the result of this gigantic constitutional amendment didn't exactly say what the Republicans where hoping to hear.
Isn't it worrisome that the Republicans are only now asking for experts to talk to them about this? After they introduced it and ran around saying they all support it?
Note to Republican state legislators: The constitution was not meant to be modified by trial and error.
Selling the Madison School District
Since the Madison School Board election is coming up soon, I've been going through the candidate answers to The Isthmus' weekly questions. It's a good series that you can find here.
The extra credit section of the questions for week five has this:
Convince a family moving to the Madison metro area that Madison schools will provide as good as or better educational opportunities than they would receive in a suburban school district.So you would think the candidates would really talk up the positives of the district right? Maya Cole, Juan Lopez and Arlene Silveira do just that. Lucy Mathiak decided to take a different route.
She starts off saying the district has some good teachers but them moves on to these rather odd selling points:
This is how she would convince someone to send their kids to school here? It's along the lines of trying to sell a used car with an ad that reads "Used car for sale, really good color but the brakes don't work, it needs new tires, transmission is shot, the windshield is cracked and the gas tank has a hole in it."
At the same time, I am dismayed to learn that colleagues, children of colleagues, and graduates of our schools are increasingly questioning what they see in our schools and hear when they listen to the board. In the past two weeks I have learned that a family member who went through the East attendance area schools is moving to Waunakee, in part due to the school system.
When I mention that I'm running for school board, I am hearing about friends who are trying to decide whether to stay in Madison's public schools -- the range of options that I am hearing about include home schooling, private schools, and moves to nearby districts. I also hear of people who decline to move here, or accept jobs elsewhere, because of their experiences with the schools.
There are a lot of different ways to answer the Isthmus' question. But when you are trying to convince people that are currently sending their kids to Madison schools to vote for you to become a big part of the school district decision making process, talking about home schooling, the Waunakee School District and people moving out of Madison because of the schools is not one of them.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Missing boys in Milwaukee
Since I can't imagine the state I'd be in if my child was missing, I'm posting the following that was sent to my inbox about the two missing boys in Milwaukee.
Quadrevion Henning, 12, and Purvis Virginia-Parker, 11, were last seen at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19th, 2006. That is when they told Henning's grandfather that they were going out to play basketball in the area around North 53rd Street and West Hampton Avenue. Ten days later, the boys are still missing and believed to be in the Milwaukee area.
At 5:00 PM on March 25th, a family Web site (henningparker.com) was launched to assist in the search. The site displays the latest facts regarding what the boys were wearing as well as the most recent photographs and physical statistics. The site also provides a link to the latest poster in both PDF and JPG format. This is where the families really need your help.
Rep. Mark Green's tough spot
Normally I would laugh at the headline from a story in the Wisconsin State Journal about South Dakota's abortion ban putting the GOP in a tough spot, but the subject is too serious. I often find stories about the GOP getting caught in their own rhetoric funny. But this headline is about women's lives being in danger.
So Xoff brought up a good point the other day asking where Rep. Mark Green stands on the South Dakota abortion ban and when is a reporter going to ask him about it? We know he likes to pose for pictures with those fighting to end abortion rights and presumably, he likes to raise money from them as well. So would he support a similar law here if he became governor of Wisconsin? Women deserve to know. The folks Rep. Green likes to raise money from on this issue deserve to know as well.
Is he really on their side or using them?
His website says this:
Mark Green believes all human life deserves to be protected, which is why Wisconsin Right to Life called him a "genuine pro-life hero."Which sounds to me like he would support a similar ban here in Wisconsin.
During a debate on abortion in Congress, Rep. Green said this:
It is interesting, some of the tenor of the debate today. Some people are upset that we are taking this bill up because it is inconvenient.He was arguing that even though the topic may not be one folks wanted to talk about, Congress needed to talk about it. So even though the timing on the ban on abortion passed in South Dakota might be inconvenient for Rep. Green, he really should answer the question.
But what to say? Say yes he would support it and please the folks that he has pandered to for years with promises that he is their hero and alienate the vast majority of the population of the state that will vote for him? Or say no and have potentially thousands of supporters close their checkbooks and stay home on election day?
Tough spot to be in, but hey, the job of governor really isn't just breaking ground with shiny shovels and hoping someone will name a building or park after you. It's a tough job and there are a lot of hard decisions. The health and lives of women are riding on this one so we deserve an answer.
Welcome to the job interview Rep. Green. When can we expect your answer?
Fun with numbers
The full page ad I saw from the Institute for Legal Reform, a group that says they want tort reform, uses numbers in a creative way to try to convince people they are paying a lot of money every year for frivolous lawsuits.
The open with a long line that says frivolous lawsuits are driving away jobs, doctors and businesses from our state. And then they have these two lines:
And each American pays $866 a year in higher prices just to cover the cost of litigation. That amounts to $4.9 billion for the entire population of Wisconsin.However, if you look at the tiny print on the bottom of the ad, that dollar amount comes from the cost of the entire U.S. tort system. They didn't flat out say frivolous lawsuits are the only cost they are talking about, but that is definitely the impression they are trying to give. They are hoping folks will call up their representatives and say they are tired of paying almost $1000 a year to cover frivolous lawsuits. They drive home the linking of these two facts with the closing in big letters - "Lawsuit abuse hurts Wisconsin. And it hurts you"
Of course, the entire tort system is not hearing frivolous lawsuits. There are a lot of people that use the tort system to right serious wrongs that have happened to them.
The ad tells folks to demand that the flaws are fixed but never tells you what the group believes the flaws are or how to fix them. Perhaps that's because this group would be happiest if there was no tort system. Perhaps they think they shouldn't be held responsible for any of their actions.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Please don't make us vote on this again
The Washington Post has an interesting article today about Congress not following through on voting requirements before President Bush signed the budget cutting bill that was passed recently thanks to Rep. Mark Green. You know, the one that does things like cut student loans and make it harder for Medicare recipients to get wheelchairs. Fun bill.
Turns out the version that passed the House was different than the one that passed the Senate so the House needed to vote on it again before it was sent to President Bush. But, it seems the House didn't want it on record more than once that they voted to punish their constituents for their fiscal mismanagement so they neglected to take the vote and just sent the bill to the president to sign.
Oh the mistake is a $2 billion mistake, but hey, I guess they figure what's the big deal when you are as far in debt as the Republican Congress has taken our country?
How many times do you think Rep. Mark Green asked not to take that vote again? Or maybe he didn't ask since he seemed to be willing to vote that way when his leaders asked him to even though thirteen of his Republican colleagues did not.
Welcome to Pierce's Grocery
A big hearty welcome to the Pierce's Grocery on the Northside of Madison. And hats off to the determined Northside residents that have worked hard to bring this store here. We have been without a grocery story for years and have missed having one here.
Anyone that has had the displeasure of going to shop at the Copps store recently on Shopko avenue (the one that took our grocery story away in the first place) will be so happy to shop at the new store. In the last month, they have moved just about every product in the store. Sometimes more than once. Every time I go in there I feel like I'm on a scavenger hunt. I have never had so much sympathy for lab mice in mazes.
I'm guessing they are remodeling to try to keep their customers from shopping at Pierce's with the promise of fresh new store. If that's the case, they have really picked the worst time to do the remodeling. I've just had a month of really bad shopping experiences there where I have to ask where every product I want is located, and now a new store opens up.
Copps store folks keep saying they promise the store will be better when they are done. I don't care what the store will look like when they get done playing musical product placement, I'm shopping at Pierce's from now on.
Why let facts get in the way
You gotta love the story the Wisconsin State Journal is running today about Governor Doyle and state contracts. Buried in the story under a headline that accuses Doyle of taking questionable donations from companies doing business with the state is this:
There have been no allegations of wrongdoing with the Equis and Crowe Chizek contracts, and both ranked first in their respective competitions.But hey, why let facts get in the way of writing a headline that screams scandal?
Monday, March 27, 2006
Mark Green's new rules
Rep. Mark Green, Republican candidate for governor, has issued a pledge for the governor's race that he thinks both he and Governor Doyle should sign and accept as rules of the race. The first bullet of the pledge struck me as odd.
We will not run television or radio commercials, send mailings or distribute literature that mentions our opponent by name.Challengers cannot win elections without talking about how they differ from their opponent, the incumbent. Oh lots of candidates like to think they can win simply because people will like them better so they don't have to bring up the incumbent's record. It doesn't work like that.
You have to give the people a reason to fire the incumbent.
So I wonder, just how does Rep. Green think he can win without even mentioning Governor Doyle? I suppose the easy answer is that Rep. Green put this out there because he knows it's not a workable plan so he gets credits from the press for offering it but won't have to live by it. But I also wonder, just who has Rep. Green talked into doing the 'negative' ads for him that he needs to win?
Dancing around the tough questions
For someone who has never held office before, Madison School Board Candidate Maya Cole has the political art of not really answering a question down already. Below is her ‘answer’ to whether or not she would support building new schools at a time when the Madison school population is not growing. If you can find her answer below, please let me know. The other candidates actually answered this very important question from the Isthmus. You can find those here.
Cole: Madison schools are in the precarious position of experiencing somewhat stable or declining enrollment trends while being surounded by population growth outside the city limits. In making this decision as a board, we need to evaluate the process of how we got to a position of having to build a new school.
My first allegiance, as an elected official, is to go to the voters and explain why all the children come first.
There are many factors to consider. Dane County's birth rate is rising steadily. We need to understand trends beyond birth rates and use as many resources of data as we can. Our plan should include consideration of the demographic trends of the entire geographic area. I am concerned that parents of children attending Leopold have had to deal with unacceptable conditions at their school. We need a long term plan to ensure that what has happened to Leopold doesn't happen to other schools.
We need to take a hard look at what draws families to nearby districts. We should support the upkeep of our current schools. I would like to see an update on the age of each school, last date of improvement, and what improvements are upcoming for the physical building. We need to ask questions beyond the cost of building a school. What will be the cost of staff and support services? Will we build to cut down energy costs?
It is important to balance this choice with the other factors that keep parents in the existing schools. We cannot lose sight of all the other factors that make the district as a whole an attractive place to raise and educate kids. My priorities include a focus on equity, safety, proper upkeep of buildings, high quality teachers, healthy schools and a challenging curriculum.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Brian Fraley has this to say about the protests aimed at the anti-immigration bills this weekend in Milwaukee:
Those in this country illegally have committed a crime and are therefore criminals. It really is that simple.No, it's really not that simple.
We all encourage folks from other countries to cross into our country no matter how they get here by shopping around for the best deals we can get on items like produce. Every time you buy a head of lettuce for about 70 cents, you are supporting it. Every time you go to a restaurant because they have a really good deal on dinner, you are supporting it.
Grocery stores can offer lettuce that cheap because they buy it from producers that pay immigrants ridiculously low wages. Restaurants keeps their meals cheap by having immigrants wash dishes and clean the buildings.
Just let me know when you want to start paying $6 for a head of lettuce.
Those advocating for some sort of program where we allow those from other countries to come here and do the jobs Americans don't want to do and then go home when we are finished using them would be wise to look in a history book. Our country tried this once. It was called the Bracero Program. It was ended when many in our country realized how wrong it was to treat people like they are item we can import when we feel the need and they send back when we don't want them. The U.S. Labor Department official in charge of the program when it was finally ended called it what it really was, an update on "legalized slavery."
Many of the folks advocating new anti-immigrant laws pull out the national security issue to hide behind. We can secure our borders without punishing people that are merely coming here to work in restaurants and on farms to send money back to their families. U.S. businesses depend on that labor, which is the real reason we don't have more fences on our borders in the first place. Most people want the immigrants here, some just want to beat up on them when it is politically beneficial to them.
I have never understood people in this country seeking to punish immigrants that come here and work hard without causing any problems. Or complain that they don't speak fluent English immediately. Neither did the Polish, the Germans, or many other immigrants when they got off the boat.
How can anyone here judge an immigrant? Everyone born in the U.S. is just lucky that someone else did the hard work of getting here for them.
Xoff and others are right to call out Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and others that dismissed the rally in Milwaukee last week as an illegal immigrant rally. Calling it that perpetuates the image that many have that Latinos are all illegal and dangerous to our country.
I'm going to scold myself on misusing words to reinforce the point. A while ago, I did a post that was a lame attempt at humor about the lockdown of the capitol during the debate on the amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. My post reinforces the image that many have that gays are all leather pants wearing people that love to dance to ABBA. I should know better and the check on myself should have been - would I have done the same type of post using the stereotypes of a different minority. Of course all gay people do not wear leather pants and dance to ABBA and my post did nothing to advance the important debate about the amendment.
And Sensenbrenner calling the rally an illegal immigrant rally did nothing to advance the debate on immigration reform. Immigration reform is a very complex problem that deserves better from our U.S. Representatives.
Fighting the president from your own party
My previous post mentions the fight the organics community had with the Clinton Administration over the rules that govern the federal organic label and it got me thinking about that fight. It was a huge fight that had my old boss, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in a big battle with the president from his own party.
I worked on that issue for Peter and had the attorneys at the Ag Dept. yelling at me all the time and Peter took a lot of heat from the administration as well. The Ag Dept. wanted to have complete say over what would happen to the label in the future and Peter fought them on giving them that power. He could of looked the other way and listened to the Clinton team when they said, trust on this one, we are on your side. He knew that even if the Clinton team was with us 100% on the organic label now (they weren't) it didn't matter because Clinton wasn't going to be president forever.
And that fight was only about specialized food.
Somehow the Republicans can't muster up the courage to even question the president from their own party on something as important as the fourth amendment to the constitution. They won't even investigate whether or not the president's wiretapping program is following the law. When President Bush says trust me, they just say ok and look the other way.
There is one thing we can trust, history books will out this Congress for the cowards that they are.
Wal-Mart gets into organics
There was a story in the Wisconsin State Journal saying Wal-Mart is going to start offering more organic products in an attempt to attract higher-income shoppers to their stores. Overall, it's good news that a large store like Wal-Mart is expanding organic products. It will help encourage more farms to get into organic farming and reduce the total level of pesticides used in our country. It will probably help bring down prices of organic products as well.
The only concern I have is that Wal-Mart may use their strong-arm tactics to weaken organic regulations to lower prices in the same way we have seen them encourage companies to move American jobs overseas to cut production costs.
I will have to put my faith in the well-organized organic community to stop any attempts to weaken the organic regulations. When I worked for Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the author of the bill that created the federal organic program, the federal government was finally getting around to putting out regulations for a uniform federal organic label. The Clinton Administration was trying to allow things like genetically modified items into the organic label. The organic community organized a massive effort to beat back all of the horrible items the feds were trying to allow and they were successful.
Hopefully they can also keep Wal-Mart in check as they venture into the world of organics.
Don't understand, don't care
The Isthmus is quoting Jennifer Alexander, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce with this:
"The health-care issue is clearly one of great concern to our business members."But then she adds that while she only has a cursory understanding of the "Provide or Pay" proposal on health care, she's sure her group is against it.
It's a great concern to her members, but she can't even be bothered to truly evaluate a proposal before rejecting it?
I'm not advocating for the proposal, but shouldn't she at least evaluate a proposal for which one health care group has a survey of local businesses saying most of them like the idea?
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The Badger Herald
Even though the Editor in Chief of The Badger Herald, Mac VerStandig, takes me to task for not worshipping at the alter of Wal-mart here, if you are ever down near the UW-Madison campus you should pick up a copy of the The Badger Herald.
I read an issue of the paper earlier this week and was really impressed with the coverage of the issues being debated in the state legislature. They had more coverage in the one issue I read than the Wisconsin State Journal has in a week.
They are the more conservative of the two campus papers but, I was really impressed with the paper and wish my local paper would devote as much time and thought into their political and legislative coverage.
If you are wondering just how much the Wisconsin State Journal shorts political coverage, check out today's issue that has county board races with only about three paragraphs and a few bio points for each race. How in the world are voters supposed to make an informed decision with that?
Walker walks away
Scott Walker shocked the weekend news with his announcement that he was dropping out of the race for governor. The only thing that I was shocked by was how early one of them got out of the race. Republicans are very good team players (much better than Democrats) and eventually one of them was going to get out of the way so they could beat up Governor Doyle instead of each other. Time will tell if they picked the right one.
Rep. Mark Green has always been the stronger candidate in the Republican primary race, but not necessarily the better of the two for the Republicans come November. At one time, Rep. Mark Green would have been the hands down favorite to win the governor's race this year. He was well liked by both sides of the aisle when he served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, is a good speaker and was not part of the extremists of his party.
Then he went to Washington D.C. and drank the Kool-Aid.
Rep. Mark Green is not the same person he was before he went to Congress. In Wisconsin he was a leader of his party and probably fought to inject moderate policies into the agenda for the state. When faced with the larger challenge of being a U.S. Congressman, he took the easy route of going with whatever his party leaders told him to do. He is still not an extremist in his party but he has helped the extremists implement their agenda while bankrupting the federal treasury by doing nothing to stop it and voting however they have asked him to vote.
How else to explain his recent vote to cut funds used to make deadbeat parents pay child support, increase the interest rates for student loans, force Medicaid recipients to pay higher co-pays and deductibles, and make it harder to qualify for Medicaid-supported nursing homes? Thirteen of his Republican colleagues voted against these cuts. Why didn't Rep. Mark Green choose to stick up for Wisconsin residents instead of voting the way his party leaders told him to vote? A leader in the Wisconsin tradition would have voted against punishing students, the elderly and children and found a better way to deal with the budget mess Republicans have created.
How else to explain Rep. Green going along with a war without question that everyone in the country but federally elected Republicans and diehard party loyalists is now questioning?
How else to explain changing the rules of the House of Representatives to protect Rep. Tom DeLay and his team even after indictments were handed down?
The problem for Rep. Green is that Wisconsin voters would have preferred the political version of him before he went to D.C. because they like politicians that are a little different. They don't care much for those that go with the crowd all the time. Green hasn't led in Congress so why should voters think he will do so here as governor?
Walker has his faults too and heavens knows I don't agree with him politically, but as a Republican that found a way to win in Milwaukee County despite some pretty harsh budgets he may have been the better candidate for the Republicans in the race for governor.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The gentlemen's club
The Mic 92.1 this morning reported on the Pro-Show with Lee Rayburn that Rep. Mike Huebsch received a $250 campaign contribution from a strip club. Rayburn then asked the obvious question - was the donation 250 dollars bills folded up individually?
I figured they had to be mistaken. Huebsch went to Oral Roberts University so you would think he wouldn't support that kind of establishment.
But I was wrong. His campaign finance report lists a $250 donation from the owner of the 4 Mile Gentlemen's Club. I googled it to see if maybe by "gentlemen's club" they meant a gathering of nice men. The first thing that popped up on Google was the website stripclublist.com so I'm guessing it is not just a gathering of nice men.
I'm just glad it wasn't an in-kind donation.
No room in the tent
Some Republicans have recruited a primary challenge against Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. He is well, interesting. Here are some of the more interesting things he has done according to an AP story:
But he probably has promised to vote lock, stock and barrel with the extremists currently running the Republican party so hey, what's a little talk about aliens here and there if he will vote the way they want?
Republican Senate candidate Stephen Laffey once told a newspaper columnist that God wanted him to run for mayor of Cranston.
He spent $2,000 to soundproof his mayoral office because of fears peoplewere eavesdropping.
And when journalists noticed he had digitally erased a former friend from photographs on his campaign Web site, he suggested aliens were to blame.
Why the primary challenge? Senator Chafee has dared to take a few votes that represent his constituents rather than the Republican extremist views.
Republicans will let you in their 'big tent' but you might get pushed out one of the back flaps if you think on your own.
We see the same thing happening here in Wisconsin. Republicans have started chanting RINO (Republican In Name Only) at any member of their party that dares vote against their wishes. Has recruiting started in some of those seats too?
Please, please, please give us the guy being stalked by aliens in the Rhode Island senate race. The state of Rhode Island has three times as many registered Democrats as Republicans. And by all means, feel free to recruit folks like him to run for state senate and assembly races in Wisconsin primaries against any Republican you are unsatisfied with here.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Another minor reform the Elections Board should work on
Speaking of former State Senator Bob Welch's old campaign finance reports...
Welch also used to pay his wife to do the books for his campaign. Every six months or so he used to cut his wife a check for over $1000 for doing the books. I don't think candidates should ever be allowed to cut their spouses a check from their campaign account for work. Reimburse them for things they purchased for the campaign to use, yes, but not paying them to do things for the campaign. It's too much like putting campaign money directly into the pocket of the candidate and candidates could pay their spouse for work they never did just to get extra cash.
I'm sure she did do work for Welch's campaign but really, shouldn't spouses be willing to volunteer?
Welch didn't pay her an outrageous amount of money, but every year it was a couple extra thousand dollars into the family income. That's enough to take a nice vacation every year courtesy of your campaign contributors.
Your share of the federal debt
Ever wonder how much you owe to the feds because the Bush Team can't stop spending your money? $28,000 and change. Did he run up the whole debt? No, but he came in with the fiscal house set up by President Clinton to begin paying it down and instead has added $3 trillion!
The Federal Reserve Chief sees problems on the horizon with the large debt but President Bush and the Republican Congress seem to not be changing course at all.
From the American Progress Action Fund:
Since Bush has been in office, the congressionally-set limit on the total national debt has risen from $5.95 trillion to the current ceiling of $8.184 trillion. "That is more than $28,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the United States." By this week's end, Congress will likely pass a resolution to dig the hole even deeper, permitting the federal debt to "grow by $781 billion to avoid a disastrous government default." The measure would allow the debt to grow to almost $9 trillion, an increase of $3 trillion since Bush took office. Last year's budget deficit came to $319 billion, the third-largest deficit ever recorded. This year, the deficit is expected swell to $371 billion. Even Bush's newly-appointed Federal Reserve chief recognizes the unsustainable fiscal course that the president has led us down. "The prospective increase in the budget deficit will place at risk future living standards of our country," Ben Bernanke said yesterday. "I am quite concerned about the intermediate to long-term federal budget outlook."
A much needed campaign finance reform headed our way
Yesterday, Wispolitics had this:
Candidates will have to disclose what they acquired with credit cards, not how much they paid to them, under an action today by the state Elections Board."They will need to provide the same level of details as if written a check to all the individual vendors," said Elections Board Director Kevin Kennedy. "The staff felt we needed to have more disclosure but we needed the backing of the board on that, and they agreed."It's about time. I have no idea why the supposed watchdog groups of campaign finance have not been sounding the alarm on this one.
If you have ever looked at a campaign finance report, this jumps out at you as a potential abuse very fast. I've seen campaign finance reports with lines that just say "Mastercard bill - $1300.00". What in the world are they buying with that kind of money and why did it take the Elections Board so long to ask?
They could be buying stamps, paper, and other needed things for the campaign. They could be going out to lavish dinners paid for by campaign donors.
One of the worst abusers of this loophole I ever came across was former State Senator Bob Welch. He had numerous credit cards and gas cards that he paid money to from his campaign account. He paid thousands of dollars to them over and over. What did he buy with all that money? We'll never know.
But there are current users of this loophole too. Attorney General Candidate Paul Bucher has numerous payments to a campaign credit card for large amounts of money. He has listed a payment of over $600 and one for over $700 with no details of what it is other than "campaign credit card". He has numerous other payments like that as well.
His opponent, J. B. Van Hollen has what looks like credit card payments but he goes the extra mile to detail what the payments are for on his report.
No candidate should get to say they spent hundreds of dollars and not tell the people what they have purchased with that money. It's high time the Elections Board close this loophole.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
-By Ann Telnaes via Slate.com
Do I have an example you might ask? Why yes I do. How about this bit from President Bush from yesterday's press conference:
I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences ... and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.But, as pointed out by Talking Point Memo, that is not what happened. Saddam did say the inspectors could come in after we got the resolution passed but President Bush chose war anyway.
Madison School Board Candidate memories
The Isthmus has a running series asking the Madison School Board candidates a lot of questions and putting their answers in the paper (and online) every week leading up to the election. You can find it here.
One of the questions was:
As a student, what was your worst experience in school? As an adult, what lessons do you draw from it?One of the candidates, Lucy Mathiak, had this for a response:
I'm drawing a blank. Perhaps the lesson is that no matter how bad something seems, "this, too, shall pass."Seriously? It wasn't a question she was asked on the spot and had to immediately come up with something. She can't think of anything bad that happened to her in school? I'd have a hard time picking just one. Of course, I was taught by mean, old nuns until fifth grade.
Let's see, there was the time that one of the nuns told me my parents were going to hell because they were getting a divorce. Keep in mind, I was seven. Even if you did believe that garbage, would you tell that to a seven year old? I cried to God just about every night for years begging him to let my parents go to heaven.
There was also the day I tripped and fell in the snow bank on the way to school and everything in my school bag fell out into the snow and got ruined, including my flashcard that were written in marker by the nuns. That was bad enough but when I got to school the nun yelled at me to tell my mother to get a bigger school bag so I pretty much spent the whole day sobbing.
And that was just first grade.
What did I draw from these events? That many nuns are mean, old ladies that have no business working with little kids.
Care to share your least favorite nun story?
If you can't debate the topic, change it
President Bush criticized Senator Feingold's resolution to censure the president yesterday. Sort of.
Since President Bush knows he can't win on the facts about his illegal domestic surveillance program, he switched topics to the terrorists and accused Senator Feingold and his supporters of not wanting to keep an eye on terrorists. A comment that is beyond dishonest.
An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has President Bush previewing the ads they intend to try to run against Democrats in the fall:
"...They ought to take their message to the people and say, 'Vote for me. I promise we're not going to have a terrorist surveillance program.' "Feingold calls it like he sees it and fires right back:
"The president knows every Democrat supports wiretapping terrorists," said Feingold, who contends the wiretapping can and should be done with court approval. "So when the president says (we're) opposing wiretapping terrorists, he is being intentionally dishonest. It makes me feel even more strongly that he should be censured."In the article Feingold also points out something I have been thinking about too - the ads the Republicans are going to run against him about the censure might backfire. They will repeatedly bring up an issue that is not playing well with the American people and may cause a lot of them to demand answers.
Feingold is not afraid of the ads:
"I welcome the discussion. I welcome the ads. The more they say this, the more people are reminded the president must be held accountable. The more Republicans fume about it, the more it's clear they have something to hide. I hope they do it, and I hope they do it a lot," Feingold said of the ads.Nor should he be. More and more Americans are starting to ask questions about a program that Bush once said did get court orders, but now says doesn't need court orders.
Although Feingold should be pretty confident that HIS telephone conversations are being listened to by the White House.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The bloggers on the right keep calling Senator Feingold's censure resolutions a stunt. And this picture is what? Needed communication with the American people? How much do you think this 'needed communication' cost the American people?
If you didn't criticize this as a stunt, you have zero credibility calling Feingold's resolution a stunt.
Republicans out of touch with Wisconsin residents
If you want to know just how much Republicans like Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) are out of touch with how most Wisconsin residents live, look no further than this article in the Badger Herald yesterday about Grothman's visit to a UW Regent meeting about the "Taxpayer Protection Amendment" he has authored with Jeff Wood (R-Chippewa Falls).
In it Grothman says this:
"Almost everybody in the state, unless their parents kick them out of the house can wind up with a four-year degree for a reasonable amount of money," Grothman said. "Even if we up the tuition again, we are a long, long way away from saying that the university is unaffordable here."Oh and we have too many people getting four-year degrees anyway according to Grothman.
Yes kids, stop dreaming of going to the University of Wisconsin system for college. You read too much and we don't need that.
If only that was the worst comment Grothman made that day. The comment that truly illustrates just how far away Republicans like Grothman are from caring about things that affect the everyday lives of the residents of our state like rising tuition costs:
"Some people worked harder when they were in college, harder in the summers. Other people took more vacations."That's right, it's not the legislature's fault that kids can't afford college anymore. The darn kids just don't work hard enough. Never mind that state investment in our college system has plummeted in recent years. If the kids going to college now would just work harder, they could afford it. This from a guy that works for a place that is trying to wrap up its work for the year by March.
Note to Senator Grothman: Stop hanging out with former senate candidate Nancy "I work harder than poor people" Mistele.
Not too long ago I was at State Street Brats with some of my friends from college watching the men's basketball team take one of their last beatings of the year on the court when we started talking about tuition costs. We were wondering just how much it costs to go UW-Madison now. So we asked the kids next to us and we were all shocked by what it costs now compared to when we were in school.
In-state tuition is now $5,618 a year! That is about what it cost for the out-of-state kids when I went to school. We've been out of college for a while, but not that long.
But don't ask Senator Grothman for help kids because it's your fault that you can't afford college.
Monday, March 20, 2006
A seven versus and eleven?
Does ANYONE have George Mason playing Wichita State in the next round? If you do, you should consider a career in fortune telling.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
A really poor rate of return
Deb Jordhal over at the Above the Belt blog has a post trying to claim that Governor Doyle is handing out contracts to firms that donate money to him. Jordhal presents some rather odd 'facts' as proof that companies are buying contracts. Most notably, this one:
Foley & Lardner: Former DOA Secretary and Doyle Campaign Chair Marc Marrotta's firm received a $50,000 no bid contract with the Department of Commerce on November 4, 2004. Foley & Lardner employees have made a total of $166,540 to Doyle's campaign, $66,000 from the firm's conduit account.If the lobbying team over at Foley and Lardner is "buying" a $50,000 state contract for $166,540 they should all be fired.
I don't think they are that dumb and I don't think they are buying state contracts with their donations. Is it possible that a lot of folks over there happen to support Doyle's policies?
Voting to sink the future
Yesterday the Janesville Gazette also had a listing of recent votes in Congress and how area congresspeople voted. The listing of votes and what happened made my jaw drop. See if you have the same reaction.
The "fiscal conservatives" at it again - The Senate refused to reinstate the "pay as you go" rule requiring tax cuts or entitlement spending hikes be offset in the budget. Be proud that our two senators voted yes. Be angry that the measure failed in the Republican lead Congress. This means you have to...
Raise the debt ceiling to point we stop calling it a ceiling - Since the Republicans in Congress think we don't have to prove we can pay for anything, we might as well just start printing Monopoly money and be done with it. The Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling to $8.965 TRILLION! It has risen by $3 trillion since President Bush took office. Again, be proud that Senator Feingold and Senator Kohl voted no, but be angry that the "fiscally conservative" Republicans passed the measure.
Port security, we don't need no stinking port security - The same Republicans that were shocked and angry we were about to sell our port security operations to a state-owned company from UAE, refused to raise port security spending by closing a business tax loophole. (see how that's done Republicans, you sponsor spending, you match it with a reduction when you are in the hole). What good are tax cuts for businesses if a port and all the containers with the products of the businesses are blown up? Feingold and Kohl voted to increase spending for security but the measure failed on a largely party-line vote. The House voted on a similar measure - Rep. Ryan voted against it, Rep. Baldwin voted for it. The measure failed in the House as well.
Sorry grandma, you're time is up - Even though most Member of Congress couldn't explain the Medicare prescription drug coverage themselves if their life depended on it, they voted against giving people more time to figure out which program to be in. I guess this is how they are going to cut costs with the program - hope seniors are so confused that they don't sign up. Again, be proud Feingold and Kohl voted to extend the deadline, but be very angry that the Republican led Senate voted the measure down.
This is voting reform?
An article in the Janesville Gazette yesterday had many municipal clerks saying they are worried that the new voter computer system by Accenture will cause many problems for voters during the spring election next month.
Delavan City Clerk Sue Kitzman said voters over the age of 75 were not even showing up on the poll lists for the city of Delavan. Elkhorn City Clerk Nancy Jacobson said she was not able to print the poll lists for Elkhorn for the primary in February.
Could be a very long day for municipal clerks on April 4th.
The state of Wyoming recently cancelled its contract with Accenture because of the problems with the company's voting system software. Perhaps now that a county as Republican as Walworth County is highlighting the problems with this system, a few state level Republicans will start to take notice of the problems too.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Independents fleeing the sinking ship
I haven't looked over the details of this poll yet so it could have method flaws but I found it interesting that more Independents favor impeachment than censure. From Talk Left:
42 percent of independents favored censuring Bush, 47 percent of them said they favored impeaching the president.
Feel safer yet?
Seems hard for the Republicans in Congress to put our money where their mouths are when it comes to port security. I guess it's hard to fit it in with all the tax cuts for the wealthy they have planned.
From the American Progress Action Fund:
HOMELAND SECURITY -- RIGHT WING BLOCKS FUNDING FOR PORT SECURITY, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: President Bush says that protecting the nation's ports is a "solemn duty." But yesterday, right-wing legislators in Congress narrowly defeated an amendment roposed by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN) that would have provided $1.25 billion in desperately needed funding for port security and disaster preparedness, including $300 million to enable U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk containers at all 140 overseas ports that ship directly to the United States. (Current funding allows U.S. customs agents to operate at 43 of these ports.) Congress also defeated a $5 billion amendment by Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to provide an additional $965 million for port security and an amendment by Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to provide for our emergency responder communications equipment. Evidently, congressional concern about port security was fleeting.
Friday, March 17, 2006
The real March Madness
--From Weyant's World at The Hill
Republican calls against activist judges spurring dangerous activists
Check out this story from the AP about Supreme Court Justices receiving death threats from people that think they are activist judges.
The fringe element is taking its cues from Republican Members of Congress.
Is Rep. Feeney responsible for some lunatics words? No, but election year politics shouldn't try to stop Supreme Court Justices from reading things and he should think twice before trying to fan the flames with his actions. Clearly, he was trying to get people fired up with his bold letters jnto thinking that the foreign courts are taking over our Supreme Court, something that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Ginsburg said the Web threat was apparently prompted by legislation in Congress, filed by Republicans, that would bar judges from relying on foreign laws or court decisions.
"It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable support. And one not-so-small concern - they fuel the irrational fringe," she said in a speech posted online by the court earlier this month and first reported Wednesday by LegalTimes.com.
According to Ginsburg, someone in a Web site chat room wrote: Okay commandoes, here is your first patriotic assignment ... an easy one. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and O'Connor have publicly stated that they use (foreign) laws and rulings to decide how to rule on American cases. This is a huge threat to our Republic and constitutional freedom. ... If you are what you say you are, and NOT armchair patriots, then those two justices will not live another week."
Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., a sponsor of one of the congressional proposals, wrote about the legislation on his Web site and in bold letters featured a quote from O'Connor predicting the Supreme Court would probably increasingly rely on foreign courts.
It's not just the supremes either.
Worry is not limited to the Supreme Court. Three quarters of the nation's 2,200 federal judges have asked for government-paid home security systems, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this week.
Plan P for politics take two
Both of the Republican candidates for Attorney General pounced on AG Peg Lautenschlager yesterday about her attempts to make Plan B available to women over the counter. Brian Fraley of DailyTakes sparked them all with his take here.
Don't be fooled by all the chest thumping about Lautenschlager's poor wording choices about her efforts. Bucher, Van Hollen and Fraley are using this to get attention to the fact that they don't think women should be able to get an FDA approved drug easily.
You have Fraley saying this:
This is, at best, a questionable use of scarce Wisconsin criminal justice funds.Van Hollen saying this:
I can’t believe that our Attorney General is using the state’s resources to fight something like thisAnd Bucher saying this:
She demonstrated again today that she is too extreme for the top cop's job. She also demonstrated how she is once again using the position to further an activist, social agenda...All spoken like men that will never get pregnant as the result of a rape.
This fight is about justice and that is what the office of the Attorney General is supposed to be used for.
It is about justice for the women in Wisconsin that will unfortunately be raped or become the victim of incest down the road. Justice for many of them will not be a trial. Many of the victims of these crimes do not wish to have a trial and relive the nightmare over and over. They should not be forced to go that route to get justice.
Justice for these victims would be making it easy for them to correct someone else's actions, not their own. Justice for them would be preventing a pregnancy.
I really don't think folks like Bucher, Van Hollen and Fraley understand just how often rapes occur in this country. When most people think about rape, they think about a scary man jumping out from behind a bush and raping a stranger.
Most rapes in this country are far different. They are committed by someone the victim knows. These are also the people most likely to NOT seek a trial to gain justice. That is why women should be allowed to have access to Plan B without all the political games folks like Bucher and Van Hollen want to put them through.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Tax cheats get government contracts
Republicans usually vow to chase down every last person that stays on food stamps too long, but corporate tax cheats get government contracts!
Now that they can't say they didn't know, the Republicans better go after these folks with at least the same level of passion. Could be tough sledding if some of them have campaign contributions from the companies. From TPM Muckraker:
Senator Coleman (R-MN) is on the case so far, but let's hope he gets a lot of company on this one. You can find a news story at here USA Today.
Over 3,800 companies won contracts with the federal government despite owing a total of $1.4 billion in taxes, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee revealed yesterday.
It takes a special sort of CEO to get the government as a client even though he owes it money. But, as the panel pointed out, it takes a truly rare individual who will then use his profits to buy himself a fancy car, new boat, or a million-dollar property.
What could have happened without Gard's chamber lockdown
During the debate on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions, Rep. John Gard (R-Sun Prairie) locked down the chamber to keep gay activists from getting too close to the floor. I've uncovered the secret list of things Gard and other Republicans were afraid might happen if the gay activists got too close to the floor of the Assembly and made some changes in floor operations:
-References to village people no longer about people in Roberts, Winter, Glenbeulah or other smaller communities in Wisconsin.
-Instead of sitting Republicans on one side of the Assembly Chamber and Democrats on the other, the assemblyfolks are forced to sit girls on one side and boys sitting on the other -- and some secretly like the new seating arrangement.
-Numbers of speeches dramatically declines on mandatory leather pants Tuesdays as many assemblypeople are a little shy about the new look.
-Music from ABBA piped into the chamber reveals there are indeed a few secret dancing queens in the assembly chamber and they are not the gay activists.
-Gard finds a note on his desk that starts "To John Foo, thanks for everything" and asks about a road trip.
-When a staffer sends out an email saying the next floor session is going to be a drag, some assemblymen gets confused and show up with their feather boas.
-Activist bring back Senator Tim Carpenter to be in the Assembly.
According the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, some citizens in Waukesha County are looking to use the new power given to them to force county boards to resize.
They have hundreds signed up to help already:
Christine Lufter, president of the Waukesha Taxpayers League, said about 300 people have stepped forward offering help since the league started circulating petitions Monday for a countywide referendum on the issue.
A public rally is planned tonight in Oconomowoc to promote the petition drive.
Help for Dane County military families
A fund to help military families with a member deployed in the Middle East pay for things like rent and medical expenses is still available. It was established by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and the Dane County Board in 2005 and still has funds left so pass the word on to any military families you know.
They should contact Eleanor Harris at the Dane County Veterans Service offices at 608-266-4158.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
An open invitation
I just received an invitation to Fair Wisconsin's Kick-off event Monday March 27th to raise money to stop the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil union. I have to say that it was a great feeling to read the list of sponsors for the event and realize that many of my friends are not only unwilling to stand for legalized discrimination, they are willing to put up their own money to try to stop it from happening.
Do the people on the other side have the same feeling? Do they think, "So wonderful to see so many of my friends willing to spend money to make sure people do not have the same rights that I enjoy"?
Didn't get an invitation and want to know more about the event? You can find more information here.
The Cheesehead no longer stands alone
Talk radio is reporting that Senator Feingold has some company on his censure resolution. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have signed on according to 92.1 the Mic and the Ed Schultz show.
The gang that can't shoot straight
Rep. Frank Lasee, one of the Republican schemers of TABOR and all it's evil spawn is now saying we need to fix the latest version introduced by the Republicans. Lasee has a blog devoted to TABOR and is pretty much a one issue candidate with this and yet after years of work, the bill is not what they want?
How much time do they need to get this thing 'right'? I guess it's hard to write constitutional amendments seek to eliminate state legislative blame for budget problems without running into state legislative blame for budget problems.
Lasee tries to say that problems came up with this because as with any first try, there are mistakes. First try? I suppose it is the first try with this name, but they have been kicking this stinker of an amendment around for years and changing the name every time folks get to know it well enough to realize just how bad of an idea this thing is. His own blog has links to articles he wrote about TABOR years ago so who is he kidding?
Lasee seems shocked to realize that:
As it's currently written, the TPA lets the state rob local government revenue streams to spend on other state priorities. It then leaves local governments to backfill with property tax increases...Um yeah, that's what every version of this thing has done. And since it's the basis for the whole idea, every version will include it won't it?
Of course his real beef is that the local governments will actually do property tax increases to make sure they can do all the services that state legislators like Lasee force them to do.
Lasee also warns that there are more problems so stay tuned...
Can't dream up a better story so...
Law and Order CI has a show coming up about the Abramoff scandal. It's one of their ripped from the headlines stories. I wonder who is playing Rep. Tom DeLay? How do you find someone else with 'hair' like that? You can find the promo on it here at Talking Points Memo.
How safe is your job?
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a judge recently tossed out a case of a women who was fired from her teaching job in red-state Indiana for talking about peace in her classroom.
I get that some people would disagree with what she said, but she was answering a question from a student. It wasn't a lesson plan on how to fight against the Bush war in Iraq. Perhaps with the push for virtual schooling, the right could work to have kids taught only from the White House webpage and the Fox 'news' channel.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Better think twice next time you try to Google something. Big brother is trying to watch you.
From the American Progress Action Fund:
PRIVACY -- GOOGLE GOES TO COURT TODAY TO DEFEND USERS' PRIVACY RECORDS: Google heads to a San Jose federal court today to defends its customers' privacy records. The Justice Department lawyers asked the company in January "to turn over millions of users' search requests and one million randomly selected Web site addresses within 21 days of a court decision." Google resisted the subpoena on the grounds that supplying the government with the information would violate users' privacy. Google is also resisting the move because it fears that the records could expose trade secrets on how its search service works. The government, on the other hand, is seeking the information to buttress its defense of the Child Online Protection Act, a federal law that has been designed to keep children from sexually explicit content on the Internet. The Supreme Court previously blocked implementation of that act. "This case comes at a time when people are starting to recognize that the information they put into their computers creates a record," said Lauren Gelman, associate director of Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. To what extent those records can be demanded by -- and turned over to --the government will be central question for the court. "The government is not entitled to go on a fishing expedition through millions of Google searches any time it wants, just because it claims
that it needs that information," said ACLU staff attorney Aden Fine.
The right has started the public square flogging of Senator Russ Feingold for his resolution to censure President Bush for his illegal wiretapping program. They are yelling things like "pure politics" and claiming he is doing it to puff up his chances to run for president by making himself the darling of the far left of the Democratic Party.
Senator Feingold is doing this because he firmly believes it is the right thing to do. If this were a move purely to help him run for president, it would be a foolish one. Ask Howard Dean how gathering up the far left of the party works as a strategy for presidential politics.
History will mark this as the right thing to do. This is the move of a conservative, not a liberal. Conservatives are the ones that are supposedly for keeping government power in check and out of the private lives of the American people. The conservative wing of the Republican Party should have been the ones leading the charge on this one.
If the Republicans won't remember the early history of our country and the rights it was built on, they would do well to remember at least the recent past. They ran to the floor with impeachment proceedings about a president that lied to the American public about a personal relationship. They didn't seem to mind that it really looked like a bunch of dirty old men enjoying the details of someone else's sex life. They were standing up to president lying by gosh!
If President Bush authorizing a program to wiretap without a warrant and lying about it isn't a serious as President Clinton authorizing himself to have sex with an intern and lying about, let's try an experiment.
Pick which statement comes from Feingold about his censure resolution and which ones are about President Clinton lying and the whole impeachment mess.
Not only did the President break the law, he also actively misled Congress and the American people about his actions...He has fundamentally violated the trust of the American people.Or this one:
President X deliberately misled and deceived the American people, and people in all branches of the United States government...his conduct has violated the trust of the American people...Or this one:
Not only did he break the law, he also violated the sacred trust of the office of the President. And in so doing, he violated his oath of office.
Need more time to think? It's easy to understand why given the hypocrisy of the Republicans on this one.
The first statement is from Feingold. The second comes from a censure resolution of President Clinton about the intern affair. The last is from Senator Senator Bunning's (R-KY) floor statement during the impeachment trial of President Clinton.
Problem is, all three could apply to either situation but the lies from President Bush are much, much more serious. And if you don't think that President Bush broke the law with his wiretapping program or misled the American public about it and about going into a war, you're not being honest with yourself and should insert President Clinton into the same situation and see if you feel the same. The freedoms in the consitution weren't meant to be put on hold to support your party at all costs.
Honestly, which Senator will be remembered as looking out for American rights by historians? Senator Feingold for trying to stop a President from listening to phone conversations without a warrant or Senator Bunnning who enjoyed listening to phone conversations about someone else having sex?
Monday, March 13, 2006
Thanks for the 'help'
With even Congress becoming leery of the wiretapping program, can John Gard be very happy that Vice President Dick Cheney was defending the program with John Gard at his side today?
Maybe next time he comes to 'help' John Gard he can talk about other happy things from the Bush team like budget deficits as far as the eye can see, or a very confusing prescription drug coverage plan for seniors that no one understands, or the cuts to social programs that Rep. Mark Green helped jammed through Congress for the Republicans.
Appleton Post Cresent give GOP thumbs down
The Appleton Post Crescent doesn't think we should trust the Bush team to provide the best armor either.
To Republicans in the Legislature, for effectively killing a bill that would have provided high-quality body armor for Wisconsin members of the Army Reserve and National Guard who are sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. After concerns about the military's inadequate body armor, state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Rep. Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, crafted a bill that would provide funding for the body armor. The bill was supposed to have been taken up by a Senate committee last week but was pulled before the hearing without explanation. Attempts to attach the bill as an amendment to related bills were denied, too.
Rick Esenberg over at the Sharks and Shepherd blog doesn't think that the bill by Senator Dave Hansen and Rep. Tom Nelson to provide better body armor for our National Guard and Reserve troops before they are sent to combat zones is necessary. His reasoning:
And therein lies the point. I guess I trust the Marines more than I trust Sen. Hansen and Rep. Nelson to decide what does and doesn't work in combat.Our troops should trust the Bush team that sent them over to Iraq without the proper armor for their vehicles? The Bush team that sent them over to Iraq without the best helmets to protect them so that people have to raise money for them with this website?
This stat from a 2005 MSNBC story proves to me that we should not just trust the Bush team on this:
Of the nearly 2,700 Marine Corps Humvees in Iraq, fewer than 500 —that’s less than 18 percent — are fully armored, while the Marines have suffered some of the highest casualty rates, in some of the most intensive combat of the war.
I don't think they should have to trust that team. Would Rick and others think the same thing if it was him being sent there?
Back to school kids
Thanks goodness Governor Doyle signed the voucher expansion bill on Friday if only to have the children from the voucher schools back in school instead of running around the capitol building on a daily basis. Many staffers were starting to wonder just how kids could be at the capitol each day instead of in school.
Oh wait, that's right, before some accountability was put in place with this new bill, the students didn't have to study for the standardized tests that public school students have to take.
Kudos to Governor Doyle for insisting on some accountability both for the kids and the taxpayers.
Income trends in Wisconsin
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has issued a report about income trends in the states. The Wisconsin report highlights (or lowlights) can be found here.
It shows the gap between the rich and the poor is not growing as fast as in some other states, but it is growing. It also shows how wages are just not keeping pace with inflation. Yes, we've had low inflation lately but when you see this fact for the incomes over the last 20 years:
The average income of the poorest fifth of families increased by $2,519, from $17,677 to $20,197. This is roughly an increase of $120/yr.you have to admit that $120 extra a year is just not enough to deal with the increases in gas prices, home heating and health care costs.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Bush Team doesn't even believe what it says
A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that despite the Bush team saying things like this:
President Bush, for example, commented in a February 8 speech, “You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase.” Similarly, Vice President Cheney has claimed, “The tax cuts have translated into higher federal revenues.” Majority Leader Frist wrote that recent experience demonstrates, “when done right, [tax cuts] actually result in more money for government.” The Vice President also has stated, “The evidence is in, it’s time for everyone to admit that sensible tax cuts increase economic growth and add to the federal treasury.”When they have to be honest and chart out their federal budget, you actually get this:
The Administration’s own budget shows that it does not expect the tax cuts to produce revenue growth that would make up for their costs. Based on the budget projections for revenues in 2006-2011, real per-person revenues will grow at an annual average of 0.6 percent between 2000 and 2011, only about one-third the growth rate during the 1980s and less than one-fifth the growth rate during the 1990s. The Administration’s budget projects that revenues in 2011 will be about $450 billion below the levels projected before the 2001 tax cuts.You can find the end notes from the quotes and the whole report here.
The Fox Network's alternative reality
Check out this post from the Think Progress blog to see just how far the Fox Network will go to try to cover for the Bush Administration. They seem to think that the media is making up the suicide bombers in Iraq.
What are the odds?
This has nothing to do with Wisconsin politics but this story has such an unusual twist, I couldn't help posting it. What are the odds of this happening? From CNN:
Dirty politics this ain't: Senator saves rival's life
'Maybe this means we'll see a more uplifting campaign'
Thursday, March 2, 2006; Posted: 8:23 a.m. EST (13:23 GMT)
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (AP) -- State Sen. John Giannetti was waiting for his take-out order of Italian food at a Maryland restaurant on Monday when he saw a man choking. He rushed over, performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged a chunk of seafood -- saving the life of his political rival.
The choking man, Jim Rosapepe, is challenging Giannetti in the Democratic primary for the suburban Washington district.
"It's one of those really weird, cosmic things," Giannetti told The [Annapolis] Capital. He said Rosapepe was hunched over and moving toward him in distress, so he decided to try performing the Heimlich.
Rosapepe thanked his opponent for saving him.
"Obviously, it's an incredible coincidence, and a happy coincidence," said Rosapepe, a member of the University of Maryland system's Board of Regents.
The race is still on, but Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he hoped Monday night's incident would soften competition between the candidates.
"Maybe this means we'll see a more uplifting campaign as a result," Miller told The Washington Post. "I mean, I would think you'd be very hard-pressed to say anything bad about a man who saved your life."
New progressive web forum
Former State Representative Joe Plouff (D-Menomonie) has helped organize a new progressive web forum called Progressive Messengers. It provides progressives with information and an arena for debating new ideas. You can check it out here.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Plan P for politics
Imagine that the following, from the American Progress Action Fund, was about another drug. Say, Viagra for example. Can you imagine the outrage that would have occurred this happened with any other drug? The FDA commissioner just made up an excuse not to release the drug.
HEALTH -- INTERNAL DOCUMENTS REVEAL FDA PLAYING POLITICS WITH 'PLAN B': Internal documents made public by Rep. Harry Waxman (D-CA) yesterday have raised new questions about the Bush administration's refusal to allow over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive known as "Plan B." The documents show that, in February 2004, policymakers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found no problem allowing the so-called morning- after pill to be sold without a prescription to women of all ages. Yet 18 months later, former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford cited concerns about selling the drug to younger teens as a major reason for blocking the move. The new revelation is just the latest proof that the Bush administration is playing politics with "Plan B." Last year, the Bush administration promised to make a decision on the issue if Crawford were confirmed by the Senate. Then, in August 2005, after Crawford was confirmed, the Food and Drug Administration indefinitely postponed its decision on whether the "morning after pill" could be sold to women without a prescription. The administration has rejected the overwhelming judgment of scientists; instead, it has prioritized politics over women's health.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Catholic church puts politics before children
Boston Catholic Charities has decided to halt adoptions services because the state of Massachusetts allows gay and lesbian couples to adopt.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney gets it all wrong:
Romney is pointing the finger at the wrong adults though. Protecting the adult right to hate people is the mistake.
Gov. Mitt Romney said he planned to file a bill that would let religious organizations seek an exemption from the state's anti-discrimination laws to provide adoption services.
"This is a sad day for neglected and abandoned children," Romney said in a statement. "It's a mistake for our laws to put the rights of adults over the needs of children.
When people think leaving children without a home is preferable to a loving home that wants to adopt them, it is truly a sad day.
Things like this story are the reason I no longer consider myself a Catholic. It's been a painful journey, but I just can't bring my son up in a religion that says it's ok to hate people. It's like they missed the whole point Jesus was trying to make with his life.
There is something in the story that provides me hope that the religion I grew up in is not completely lost though.
Eight members of Catholic Charities board later stepped down in protest of the bishops' stance. The 42-member board had voted unanimously in December to continue considering gay households for adoptions.
I mean really, what would Jesus do in this situation? I think he would have voted the same way rather than leave the children homeless.
John Gard's death tax
This week we were forced to witness the Republicans in Wisconsin abandon Wisconsin's Guard and Reserve members with a truly stunning display of political games.
Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) had finally been granted a hearing on his bill to have the state provide the best body armor available to any Guard or Reserve member that is going to be shipped to Iraq of Afghanistan. The bill was to be taken up by Senator Ron Brown's Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. It was pulled from the schedule last weekend without an explanation.
Then this week Rep. Tom Nelson (D-Kaukauna) tried to add the bill by amendment to a veterans bill moving on the Assembly floor. The Assembly leadership yanked the whole bill rather than face the vote on the floor. Again, no explanation.
Until you think about who is coming to town this weekend to raise money for one of the Republican leaders from the Assembly.
Vice President Dick Cheney is coming to raise buckets of cash for Rep. John Gard and his bid for Congress. So what was Gard to do? Allow a vote that would embarrass Cheney and the rest of the Bush team by showing that they are not providing for our soldiers or get rid of the bill so Cheney will still come to town and raise him money? I mean really, we can't possibly expect Cheney to come to town while the papers are covered with stories about Wisconsin stepping in to take care of our soldiers if the Bush team won't do it, can we?
So Gard is asking people for $2500 a person to hear him say he will go to Congress to fight for the same things he fights for here, like getting rid of the Estate Tax. That's a tax the Republicans like to call the Death Tax. Gard wants to fight to get rid of a 'Death Tax' for multi-multi-millionnaires and billionnaires, but wants to impose and actual death tax on our soldiers by sending them off to combat zones without the best body armor we could provide.
Saying the lack of up-to-date body armor will cause deaths is no exaggeration. A recent Pentagon report found that 80% of all Marine casualties could have been prevented had they been outfitted with high-quality, up-to-date body armor.
Why is it even an option to send our soldiers in to combat zones without this armor? To be sure the Defense Department at the federal level should pay for this and every politician that hasn't fought for this at the federal level should be ashamed of themselves.
But every Republican politician in the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate should be just as ashamed of playing along with the Republican leadership's games in both houses this week. They had the power to stand up to their own leadership and demand action and they chose not to do that.
The Republicans will say Hansen and Nelson were playing partisan games by trying to force a vote on the issue. I think both Hansen and Nelson are really trying to do the right thing for our soldiers. They have waited patiently for their bills to be taken up and have gathered a bipartisan list of cosponsors. With time running out on the session, they were forced into this move by the Republican leadership. They are not playing partisan games.
And really, even if they were, does it matter as long as we get the soldiers the body armor they need?
Hamblin will have a new job this year
Republican Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin has announced he is not running for re-election. Watch for him to have a new 'part-time job' this year beating up on Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Falk. I wouldn't be surprised if both Bucher and Van Hollen have promised him jobs to get him to do this.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Abusing the military for political gain
Republicans always run around saying they are the party that fights for a strong defense and supports the troops. In reality, they like to use the troops to support their own political careers.
Take this story from Talking Points Memo that show the Republicans are using uniformed members of the military at their fundraisers now. It's against the law and military regulations. And it should be. Neither party should abuse the military like this to raise money.
This story in the Washington Post would lead you to think that the Bush administration is making sure our troops have everything they need in Iraq. But you'd be wrong.
Check out this website for Operation Helmet. Yes, despite $502 billion in defense funds and around $100 billion more in supplemental funding every so often for the Iraq war, the Bush team just can't seem to find enough funding to make sure our soldier's heads don't bounce around like a ping pong ball inside their helmets when IEDs go off near them. So the American public has to hold the internet equivalent of a bake sale to get the proper helmets for them.
The regular appropriations would be more than enough to buy this stuff if 'pro-troops' congressman like the now jailed Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) and others weren't selling out the troops by making the military buy stuff they don't want or need so congressmen can collect campaign donations.
And here is Wisconsin our Republicans have the same problem. They have time to vote on the same bills over and over again that the public doesn't want, like concealed carry, but as Xoff points out here, they just don't have time for Senator Dave Hansen's (D-Green Bay) bill to get our National Guard troops the best body armor available.
Why not? Probably because Senator Hansen is a Democrat and they have more important things to spend money on like new tax breaks for companies that make engines. I guess their needs are more important than our men and women in uniform.
But they still want the troops to come to the fundraisers, right? Maybe they will have to so they can get Senator Hansen's bill on the floor.
It's moves like this that have propelled a large group of military veterans to run for congress this year - as Democrats. Here's hoping they all win.
Hoping for disaster
The Madison Parks Commission again refused to sell the land under the former Lincoln School to the company that currently rents out the apartments so they can convert them to condos. The commission wants to keep the land as a nonusable park for the city rather than make hundreds of thousands of dollars on a piece of land we can't use.
If you were wondering why, wonder no more. Parks Development Manager Simon Widstrand had this to say:
"If anything ever happens to the building, we'll have the land and convert it to parkland."This is the plan? Hoping a natural disaster or a fire takes the building out for us? It's a rather impressive, solid-looking building so everyone in the city will have to keep their fingers crossed at once to make something happen to it.
Until then, if city residents can't get the financial benefit of the funds, I say it's time the Madison Parks Commission gets to work helping us use the land the way it is now. They could dig us some space and we could go the lake and sit under the building.
Just think of all the benefits to an underground lakefront park. You wouldn't need sunblock! Your kids couldn't run too far away from you, what with being in a pit and all. No strong winds off the lake blowing your picnic items away.
The possibilities are endless.
--By Tom Toles of the Washington Post
Our next constitutional amendment
Stop the gay penguins!! They are taking care of little baby penguins and before you know it, all the penguins will be gay! And the little human children might learn about this by reading a book about it. Thanks goodness there are two libraries in Missouri that are making sure children are not corrupted by this.
The Republicans better act fast and get this one moving before too many children in Wisconsin read this book!
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Senate Select Committee to Raise Money
Some enterprising reporter might want to start connecting the dots with this one. Earlier this year the Senate Select Committee to Bash the DNR held a 'hearing' in Arbor Vitae to take complaints about the DNR.
And then we see in the Wispolitics.com daily email in the upcoming events section:
-- 5 p.m. -- Majority GOP Conduit Fundraiser with Dale Schultz, Pinewood Country Club - Harshaw, 4660 Lakewood Rd., Harshaw.Hmmm, have a fake hearing to round up people that hate the DNR and then they hold a fundraiser 24 miles down the road a little while later.
I wonder who is on the invite list?
Madison City Council delays dealing with IZ
The Madison City Council again delayed dealing with Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) for at least six more weeks. Ald. Ken Golden had probably the best line of the night on the topic:
"They say lunacy is doing the same thing a second time and expecting a second result," he says. The real issues are the guts of the ordinance, he argues, "not the crap that we're debating tonight." Golden returns multiple times to what he terms the Groundhog Day-like nature of the debate. "Whichever outcome occurs, we will be dealing with repeal the night inclusionary zoning comes up."You can find the full story here at the Isthmus online.
Wal-mart finally does a responsible thing
From the Talking Points Memo Cafe:
After Massachusetts last month ordered Wal-Mart to stock the "Plan B" emergency contraception pill, Wal-Mart this past Friday announced that, effective March 20, all Wal-Mart pharmacies nationwide will carry emergency contraception, reversing the companies previous policyA spokesman for Wal-mart offers the most obvious reason they should have been stocking this in the first place: it is an FDA-approved drug. No pharmacy should get to decide which FDA-approved drugs they think are ok. It might be a drug for women's reproductive rights this time around, but it might be something else that you need next time. The spokesman said:
"Because of this, and the fact that this is an FDA-approved product, we feel it is difficult to justify being the country's only major pharmacy chain not selling it."Yeah, but you tried and would still be doing if a legislature hadn't made you stop.
Here an amendment, there an amendment, everywhere an amendment
It seems barely a week goes by without the state legislature passing a resolution calling for a new amendment to the state constitution. They recently passed a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions and now the senate has called for a referendum on the death penalty in Wisconsin and the assembly has called for one limiting the veto power of the governor.
How long would our state constitution be if these folks did not have to get voter approval on changes?
I do hope the Republicans remember their vote on this when the legislature is controlled by Democrats and the governor is a Republican (a scenario that will happen at some point) and they are wishing for a strong veto pen again.
And speaking of potential Republican governors (though not a likely one), according to Brian Fraley, County Executive Scott Walker is a new convert on the death penalty. Fraley wonders why Walker has flip-flopped on the issue but doesn't mention the most likely cause - polling of very conservative voters that he thinks he needs to get through the primary.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
How low can he go?
Just how bad are Bush's numbers? If he can't hold his own in red state like Indiania, I'd say they are pretty bad. Headline from The Indianapolis Star:
You can find the story here.
President Bush losing support among Hoosiers
Survey:Bush's approval rating has dropped 18 points in Indiana over the past year
Property taxes for schools
According to the Isthmus, three-quarters of Madison residents do not have children in the school district. Honestly, I did not know it was that high even though I am in that group. So the school board has to keep convincing the residents without kids in school that spending nearly half of their property tax payment on schools is a worthy investment.
It is. Strong schools mean a well-qualified workforce and strong property values among other things.
How would those running for school board this fall respond to homeowners that feel like they are paying too much? The Isthmus has the candidate's answers here. Arlene Silveira has the best answer.
Head of U.S. Indulgence
Who wouldn't want a job where you get to relax at private club for three hours a day? You would think the head of U.S. intelligence would be a little more pressed for time with his job protecting us from terrorism, but you'd be wrong. I'm not saying he shouldn't get some time to relax, but every single day?
From the American Progress Action Fund:
INTELLIGENCE -- WEAKENED INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR SPENDS HOURS EACH DAY AT PRIVATE LUXURY CLUB: "On many a workday lunchtime, the nominal boss of U.S. intelligence, John D. Negroponte, can be found at a private club in downtown Washington, getting a massage, taking a swim, and having lunch, followed by a good cigar and a perusal of the daily papers in the club’s library," Congressional Quarterly (CQ) reports. "He spends three hours there [every] Monday through Friday," says a "senior counterterrorism official" quoted by the paper. What explains all the leisure time? As reporter Laura Rozen notes, the larger point is that "Negroponte has the free time because [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld and [Defense Under Secretary of Intelligence Stephen] Cambone are the ones running intelligence policy, with scarce oversight from anybody, either the White House intel czar, or Congress." Indeed, "Washington's conventional wisdom" is that Negroponte's position "is a joke," CQ reports. "The main reason is that Negroponte’s group has little power over the Pentagon’s covert actions. It's not his fault. Congress set it up that way after Rumsfeld and company worked the rooms of the House and Senate office buildings."