Thursday, November 30, 2006
The right's new favorite punching bag
This month the state of Minnesota elected the first Muslim to Congress when the voted to send Keith Ellison to Washington, D.C. This should be a great opportunity for our country to start looking past the stereotypes many people hold of Muslims. Instead, some on the right have questioned whether or not he is fit to serve in Congress right out of the gate.
It started when Fox "news" host, Glenn Beck, said to Ellison "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies" during an interview after Ellison won. I'm sure he would ask any milk truck driver that gets elected to Congress to prove to him he is not going to take young girls hostage and shoot them too. After all, the lunatic that did that claimed he was made at God.
Now we see the right-wing radio network has resorted to making stuff up to beat up on Ellison. Think Progress has the story here. Make sure you check out the picture of Speaker Dennis Hastert and note the lack of a bible...
Just what would it take for J.B. Van Hollen to say he has a conflict of interest in a case? As Van Hollen gets ready to take office next month, the body of evidence gets stronger every week that he should not get involved in the state's case regarding a cranberry grower and yet he continues to insist there is no problem.
The Shepherd Express sums up the problem nicely:
Incoming state attorney general J.B. Van Hollen hasn't taken office yet, and there are already questions concerning a conflict of interest. While on the campaign trail, Republican Van Hollen promised to drop a lawsuit against a cranberry grower, a lawsuit filed by his predecessor, Democrat Peg Lautenschlager. But what Van Hollen didn't say was that he worked for the law firm that represents the defendant, the cranberry grower. Van Hollen also accepted at least $3,500 in donations from cranberry operations, including some from the wife of the grower named in the suit.No problem even though he has taken campaign cash from the grower's family. What would be the signal that the cranberry growers are too close to Van Hollen then?
When the offices of the Department of Justice have cranberry treats instead of candy? Cranberry drinks at Van Hollen fundraisers? When Van Hollen pulls a Violet Beauregarde and blows up like a cranberry colored balloon?
And where are all those rightie bloggers on this one? A couple of months ago, it seemed the right talked nearly every single day about donations to the governor supposedly yielding results, but not one word on this? I guess some animals are more equal than others.
Even if you set the campaign donations aside, a law firm debating whether or not they should get involved in this case would take a pass because they would have a conflict of interest. Why does Van Hollen think the office of the Attorney General should have a lower set of standards than law firms?
Keep in mind this is a case where the judge said the grower was intentionally polluting the water, but it isn't a full-fledged public nuisance right now. It is developing into one though. Without state involvement in this matter, the pollution was not going to get any better because the grower didn't think he was doing anything wrong. So Van Hollen isn't fighting to dismiss a lawsuit because the grower wasn't abusing resources; he is arguing the state should look the other way while our resources are polluted.
This is the foundation Van Hollen is building his new office on and Wisconsin residents should be wary of the future.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
An ease of the freeze - for Republicans
Last week's Wispolitics Report noted that Bob Delaporte has returned to work in the Capitol. Good news for him right? But isn't there a hiring freeze in place on the Assembly side of the building?
A memo dated June 7th from John Gard told Assembly Members that since the state budget reduced the amount of money available for the Assembly, he was instituting a hiring freeze until the end of the year to save money. Any exceptions to that would have to be approved by the speaker on a individual basis.
Many of us suspected that last little bit translated into Republicans can hire anyone they want and Democrats can't hire anyone. And I guess we were correct on that one. Unless Rep. Huebsch's constituents have a lot of real press emergencies pending, I'm at a loss to understand why he needed this staff person right away but everyone else has to wait until January.
New hires for the next session usually start in January after inauguration. If the Republicans had followed that rule, the freeze would be over too. But that would require some sort of fiscal restraint wouldn't it?
One big happy classroom?
The Madison School District announced today that it will not scrap the gifted and talented program at East High. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from many of the parents in this area. The proposal to eliminate the classes comes from a line of thinking that in order to close the achievement gap, students should be placed in "heterogeneous" classes where students of all achievement levels are grouped together in one classroom. But does this work?
Is there a body of research out there that proves putting students in classrooms like this does what people are hoping it will do? It seems counter intuitive that this would work so I'm curious if there is proof out there that this is a good solution.
It would be one thing if high schools had a small number of kids in the classroom. Teaching fifteen kids of different levels seems somewhat doable. Teaching twenty-five to thirty sounds just crazy. The kids on the high and low end would probably be neglected because it is asking way too much of a teacher.
Many of the parents in my neighborhood have told me the only reason they still send their kids to East High is because of the talented and gifted program. So will the heterogeneous classrooms really close the gap or just close it on paper because the high achieving students have fled the school so the remaining students will be closer in achievement?
Can this problem be solved this late in a child's education with a broadly applied program like this or is anything short of intensive individualized tutoring to make up lost ground a waste of time? Is this the only option we have to try to close this gap? Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater says this is part of a big plan.
Rainwater's vision would take at least two years to implement and be molded through steering committees made up of experts. He said it would include a broad "system of changes" to address the achievement gap. "Many children of color and poverty are not meeting standards," he said, adding that graduation rates are still too low for students in those categories.I've looked at the MMSD website for the plan, but haven't found it yet. Hopefully the school district will post the plan soon and plan for a period of discussion.
City of Madison strikes good compromise on Cherokee Marsh
Hats off to the city of Madison for finding a pretty decent compromise on the potential new development near Cherokee Marsh. Having some new homes built there will be an economic bonus for the northside of the city. It also might even be a net environmental gain since much of the land being targeted for development is currently used as farm fields that are probably sending some bad stuff into the marsh.
Local activists should be applauded for their efforts to protect the marsh too. The original proposal from the owner of the land would have placed too many homes in areas critical to the health of the marsh and most likely would have caused some major flooding problems.
You can find a Wisconsin State Journal article about the compromise here.
Three U.S. House races still not over
Three U.S. House races are still up in the air. Two of them - Rep. Debra Pryce's seat in Ohio and Rep. Robin Hayes in North Carolina - are headed for recounts. The other is potentially headed for a new election after electronic voting machines malfunctioned.
You can find a story about them in the Washington Post here.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Should we start taking bets now on which Republican is going to get this job? The possibilities for fun are endless with this one.
Straight-party voting, helpful tool to politicians or voters?
Some in the Republican Party are really reaching now. They are arguing that their party's losses this November were exaggerated by straight-party option voting and they want to do away with it. So does the straight-party option change races or is it nothing more than a time saver for people at the polls? I'd say the latter.
An article in The Hill newspaper runs through a few of the Congressional races this year and looks at the margin of victory to try to determine if straight-party voting accounted for the win or not. It includes the race for the 8th CD between Steven Kagen and John Gard.
In Wisconsin, Green Bay-based Brown County cast more than one-third of the 8th District’s 275,000 votes and saw straight-Democratic voting increase from 7,300 to 14,000. Democrat Steve Kagen wrested the Republican-held open seat by about the same margin.That stat alone doesn't dig deep enough for Wisconsin voters. Wisconsin's split ticket voters have much more impact on the race than straight-party voters. The loss of Kathleen Falk to J.B. Van Hollen for Attorney General versus the win by Dawn Marie Sass over Jack Voight for State Treasurer is proof of that.
There may have been a few extra votes for Dems, but John Gard was going to lose to Steve Kagen with or without the straight-party voting system. Someone like Dawn Marie Sass or someone running for a county clerk position probably benefits from the straight-party voting system, but none of the high-profile congressional races can be explained away by this.
The really telling stat in this article is this one:
On average, about one-third of voters use the option where it is available.One-third is about equal to the hard-core party loyalists that will never vote for the other side. There may be slight increases and decreases once in a while like we saw this year, but the Republicans would have lost Congress even without that voting option.
If they want to think otherwise and not take a hard look at the issues they presented to the voters in this election, that's just fine by me.
You can find the rest of the article here.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
A new Thanksgiving cranberry dish
This week the Wisconsin State Journal did a great service to Wisconsin voters by dishing Attorney General-elect J.B. Van Hollen's conflict of interest on the cranberry case. Then they declined to eat their own creation when they wrote an editorial today saying the state should drop the lawsuit, but Van Hollen should not be involved in the decision.
How is that even possible at this point and why did they bother digging up this story? Van Hollen ran around the state telling anyone that would listen that he intended to drop the lawsuit if elected. His opinion is so intertwined with this story that there is no real way to remove Van Hollen from the decision now.
Do you think the employees of the Department of Justice are going to rock, paper, scissor for which unlucky guy/gal has to go tell the new boss that they aren't going to listen to him right from the moment he walks in the door? Or does it seem more likely that they will just drop the lawsuit?
Maybe it doesn't matter that the Wisconsin State Journal doesn't want to dig in or that Van Hollen's spokesperson is desperately trying to spin legal mumbo jumbo to keep the public from thinking Van Hollen is trying to corrupt the legal process before he even sits down at his new desk.
The court of public opinion will probably produce the correct judgment that Van Hollen is trying to pay back his employer for putting him on the payroll while he ran for office and some of his campaign donors for their support. Contrary to what some politicos think, the court of public opinion rarely gets those verdicts wrong.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Religion and government don't mix
Yet another horrific example of why religion doesn't belong in politics.
Racine Republicans go Rovian
You have to read this story to believe it. Racine County Republican supporters of County Executive William McReynolds are calling for Supervisor Ken Hall to resign.
Ken Hall is the Racine County Supervisor that released a report detailing just how expensive McReynolds' side businesses are to Racine County taxpayers. You can find the report at this post from Progressive Majority Wisconsin.
And just like Karl Rove telling Republicans to question the patriotism of every Democrat saying President Bush's 'stay the course' strategy was flawed, McReynolds supporters in Racine County are pointing the finger at Hall because he is asking the county to look into McReynolds' business dealings.
The most absurd part of this is that the McReynolds supporters are not saying McReynolds didn't do business to benefit himself using the county's resources. They are saying he gets to play be different rules.
Halbach said Hall’s concern that McReynolds violated county work rules were unwarranted because those rules do not apply to elected officials like the county executive.No there's a tactic the public loves. Politicians claiming they are not guilty because they get to play by rules they make up as they go along instead of the ones everyone else has to live by in their job. What are the chances the public doesn't think the ethics rules that apply to county employees should apply to McReynolds?
If you think they don't want McReynolds held to the same standard, I suggest you check the results of the 21st Senate District elections held earlier this month. The people of Racine County gave a verdict on that one and the McReynolds backers on the County Board would be wise to listen to the people more than they listen to McReynolds trying to save his own neck.
Or they could go with the Rovian tactic of trying to blame Hall for McReynolds' ethical lapses. Of course they may want to ask the Republicans in DC cleaning out their offices over the next month how that strategy worked for them before they decide.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Interesting question for Van Hollen team
Crawford's take has some interesting questions for the Van Hollen Team. I don't know much about the laws in this area, but perhaps someone else out there does and can help. You can find them here.
Kreibich thinks he sucks
This article about Rep. Rob Kreibich's loss with nearly $100,000 in the bank is hilarious. It has this beauty of a quote:
"As an incumbent, if you can't hold your Assembly seat spending $50,000, you don't deserve to be in office," Kreibich said...So Kreibich thinks he sucks and clearly his district thinks he sucks too or they wouldn't have voted for someone else.
The article is good for a laugh since Kreibich is desperately trying to convince himself and others that he wouldn't do anything different. He even exaggerates the Dem voting average to make it look like there is no way he could win. His district averages about 53%, not the 55% he tries to sell in the article.
He says he is saving the money in his account for a future race and throughout the article makes it sound like he never intended to spend the money he raised for his assembly race on that election. I'm guessing a lot of donors might get a little upset at being duped about why they were writing a check to Kreibich's campaign.
Does Kreibich really believe that he couldn't have won that race if he had spent the rest of his funds? I doubt it. He lost by less than 200 votes. And really, what kind of a Democracy does he think we have if $100,000 can't by 200 votes?
It was the economy stupid
Part of the reason Republicans lost is that they have absolutely no idea just how much working families are struggling. Every time a pundit tried to bring up the struggle of the working man or woman, the Republicans would say something along the lines of the Dow is at a record high so the economy is doing great.
If they had taken the time to look beyond their buddies on Wall Street, they would have seen articles like this one from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that says demand at food pantries is way up and the cupboards are bare.
Please take some time during your holiday shopping to add some extra food in your cart and drop it off at a local food pantry.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
A new level of Republican fiscal irresponsibility
This story from the AP is outrageous. The Republicans running Congress right now have decided that they are going to leave their budget mess behind for the Democrats to clean up next year rather than finish the appropriations bills now that they should have done before the elections.
It's of course part of the plan for the Republicans to take back control in two years.
The bulging workload that a Republican-led Congress was supposed to complete this year but is instead punting to 2007 promises to consume time and energy that Democrats had hoped to devote to their own agenda upon taking control of Congress in January for the first time in a dozen years.
And I do hope the doctors remember this little move too:
Now, with the agenda shrinking, a session that will be the last for 45 retiring or defeated House members and senators should be wrapped up by Dec. 8.
That could work against efforts to forestall a cut in physicians' Medicare payments. Under a formula dating back to 1997, Medicare payments to doctors for office visits will drop an average 5 percent on Jan. 1 — unless Congress steps in. Keeping them the same for another year would be expensive, about $10.8 billion, and chances are mixed at best for the doctors' lobby.
Hat tip: Talking Points Memo
House seat could be decided by Congress
In what could be a smaller version of the Supreme Court decision to pick a president, the U.S. House of Representatives could end up picking which candidate won Katherine Harris' old seat.
I hope the Dems don't end up picking the winner. Rather, I'd like to see them use this to create a verifiable election result for electronic voting and force the companies to open up those machines.
You can find the story here at TPM Cafe.
The right is just wrong on the state budget
Charlie Sykes was in a lather this morning on his talk show about the state budget. He kept saying Governor Doyle lied and the press bought it. He even had Rep. Mark Green call in to give the sour grapes analysis. Then he produced what he said was the 'smoking gun' to prove the media committed malpractice.
What was his proof? This letter to the editor that George Mitchell sent to newspapers, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel didn't run it. No wonder the right thinks there is liberal bias in the news. They believe every time their own words aren't used it's a scandal.
Sykes' blog post title about it is so over the top it makes it sound like someone was killed - What Did They Know And When Did They Know It?
Here's what they did know and it was true - the budget for this cycle was balanced. The "deficit" they are talking about is future commitments for the state. And as Doyle pointed out in one of the debates, it would be irresponsible for the state not to have long-term plans for budgeting on some items. That doesn't mean we have to pay for them this minute.
Former Governors Thompson and McCallum didn't pay for the things in the budget cycles they were in, but Governor Doyle is expected to pay for things in the future. Yeah, that's fair.
Mitchell uses a family budget analogy to try to drive home his point, but his analogy is a little off. He likens the structural deficit to annual spending a family does beyond their annual income and uses credit cards or savings to pay for it. But a family spending too much money on a vacation and putting it on their credit card is not what the structural deficit is for the state.
The better comparison would be the balance on a car loan for the family vehicle. The family does owe that money, but it doesn't have to pay it all tomorrow. To get to the really big number being thrown around for the structural deficit, you'd also have to add in things the family will spend money on such as food and utilities during the next year.
The Doyle team did not lie or try to hide the structural deficit for next year either. Mitchell's own letter says that Doyle's budget director told everyone that there will be a structural deficit.
Is the budget perfect yet, no. It probably never will be either no matter what party is writing it. But the press didn't give Governor Doyle a pass on this issue. The press gave Governor Doyle the credit he deserves for getting the state going in the right direction again after years of mismanagement by Thompson and McCallum.
Seth takes a look at the so-called bias on budget reporting here and Jay looks deeper into the budget costs that feed into the structural deficit here.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Workers get union, workers win big
A deal was just announced for the striking janitors in Houston. They have been on strike for about a month. It's a big victory and shows the power of standing together to demand better treatment from employers. SEIU organized the 5300 janitors just last year.
Under today's agreement, the SEIU janitors will get a 50.5 percent pay raise over the two-year contract. On January 1, pay will increase to $6.25 an hour, a 21 percent increase over current wage of $5.15 an hour. That will go up to $7.25 an hour on January 1, 2008, and $7.75 on January 1, 2009.The deal also gets crazy things like vacation and health care coverage for the workers. It's like they think they are entitled to be treated like human beings or something.
Hopefully this victory will translate into more successful union drives around the country. No one that works full-time should be at the poverty level or without health care coverage.
You can find the rest of the article from the Houston Chronicle here.
Consider this a done deal
A press release by CRG Walworth says they have enough signatures to put a measure reducing the size of the County Board from 25 to 11 next April. Given the success of these measures in other counties this month, the Walworth County Board members should start making plans for more than half of them no longer having seats. Walworth County is about as Republican as they come and should have no trouble passing this one.
Question is of course, with the county being so Republicans, and with Republican supposedly being the part of smaller government, why didn't the board do this themselves a long time ago?
New White House rule: No sex ever
Under the 'you just can't make this stuff' category...From Think Progress:
The new HHS appointee for family planning authored this (PDF) power-point on how too much sex causes brain damage. He believes that even married couples should not use contraception. If you want to know where theo-conservatism goes next, the war on contraception is clearly a major priority; and Keroack is the kind of guy the Christianists want controlling your sex life.Unfortunately, this guy does not have to be confirmed by the Senate.
It's almost like the Republican woke up after election day and decided that since all the Democrats to town will not touch them with a ten-foot pole, let's try to make sure no else is having sex either.
Like I said right after this election that showed more women than men voting, stay engaged ladies. There is so much more to do.
U.S. businesses need national health care to compete
Charlie Sykes had a blog posting last week that is incomplete and leaves people wit the wrong idea about what the biggest problem facing American auto companies. He put up a chart from Forbes that shows some of the costs American auto companies must deal with to produce a car. His post is trying to give the impression that the unions are the reason reason American car companies can't compete. He even highlights the costs of providing health care to retirees.
Yes, how dare all those people think they can have health care coverage.
Sykes' post should have called for the only solution to this problem - a national health care system. Without it, our companies will continue to be at an incredible disadvantage in the global economic fight.
General Motors and other companies have been trying to get the government to address this problem to help them compete with car companies in other nations that do not have to pay for health care costs. In 2004:
...the automaker, known for its innovative approach to health care, spent $5.2 billion to cover 1.1 million retirees, employees and their families. Prescription drugs cost GM $1.9 billion...and lately almost year brings another double-digit increase. The auto workers didn't make the health care costs go up, but they are being blamed for the problem by people like Sykes.
The rising cost of health care really pushes up the price of American made vehicles. Take GM's cost estimate:
But the figure that prompted Wagoner to raise his voice is $1,500. That is the amount of money added to the price of every single vehicle to cover health care, a cost that his foreign competitors do not bear.American companies cannot continue under this failing health care system and expect to stay competitive. G. Richard Wagner of GM agrees:
"The cost of health care in the U.S. is making American businesses extremely uncompetitive versus our global counterparts," he said. "In the U.S., health care costs have been rising at double-digit rates for many years. In 2003, they were about 15 percent of GDP, at least 30 percent higher than the next-most-expensive country."It's time for our country to start the debate necessary to radically change our health care system. Hopefully the new crop of Democrats on their way to Washington, D.C. will start that debate sooner rather than later.
You can find the rest of the Washington Post article that the above quotes came from here.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
For the true addicts
For those that simply cannot get enough speculation on elections, The Fix over at the Washington Post is looking toward the 2008 elections for the Senate. Things look promising for my side, but so much can change now that the Dems have to lead.
A cursory evaluation of the 2008 Senate playing field shows Democrats seemingly well-positioned to build on their 51-seat majority. Of the 33 seats up for reelection, just 12 are held by Democrats. And of those 12, only two Democratic incumbents received less than 54 percent of the vote in 2002 -- Sens. Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Mary Landrieu (La.). Johnson took 50 percent in his victory over John Thune (who went on to beat Tom Daschle two years later), while Landrieu won a December runoff against Republican Suzie Haik Terrell with 52 percent of the vote.You can find the rest here.
Republicans must defend 22 seats and have more obvious vulnerabilities. At first glance, just three GOP senators -- Norm Coleman (Minn.), John Sununu (N.H.) and Wayne Allard (Colo.) -- look vulnerable, as each won in 2002 with less than 54 percent of the vote. But the complicating factor for Republicans is that there are a number of rumored retirements that may come before 2008, creating more open-seat opportunities for Democrats. GOP incumbents on the retirement watch list include Allard, as well as Thad Cochran (Miss.), Pete Domenici (N.M.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and John Warner (Va.).
U.S. House election update
If you are wondering what has happened in all of the seats that were considered too close to call last week, you can go TPM Cafe's summary here. Also note, since that was written, Republican Heather Wilson has been declared the winner in the New Mexico seat by 879 votes. Patricia Madrid, the Democratic candidate, had not decided whether or not she will seek a recount.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Support striking workers
If you can, take some time tomorrow to support striking USW Members at Goodyear.
Here are the details:
Join striking USW members from Goodyear Tire and Rubber as they take their fight against corporate greed to Goodyear dealers in the Milwaukee area.
Strikers and their supporters will be leafleting several Goodyear dealers to alert consumers to the fight to preserve retirement and health care benefits for Goodyear workers, and for all working families in the US .
Meet in the parking lot east of the Milwaukee USW office:
Saturday November 18th
12 pm to 2 pm
1126 S 70th Street
Cars will convey from there to selected Goodyear dealers for informational leafleting.
For more information, contact Doug Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your support !!
District 2, United Steelworkers
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel All Politics Watch Blog has a summary of the timeline for the three assembly recounts.
Madison - Three narrowly won Assembly races will be recounted.
Canvassers in southwestern Wisconsin began a recount this morning requested by Democrat Gail Frie, who lost to by 430 votes to Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby), according to unofficial totals. Assembly Speaker-elect Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) said that clerks discovered an extra 100 votes for the Democrat after the election, prompting the candidate's request for a recount.
The two other recounts, which will begin Monday, are by narrower margins. Republicans hope to reclaim two of the eight seats they lost in the Nov. 7 Democratic sweep. Unofficial counts said Rep. Judy Krawczyk (R-Green Bay) lost by 78 votes and Rep. Debi Towns (R-Janesville) lost by nine votes.
If the recounts do not reverse any results, Republicans will control the Assembly 52-47 for the session that begins in January.
The recount in the Krawcyzk race is expected to take less than a day, but the other two could take longer because they include rural areas where votes must be recounted by hand, said Kyle Richmond, a spokesman for the state Elections Board.
Notice the line about the 100 votes that were found after the election for one of the candidates. This is why we elect folks in November and don't swear them in until January. There are mistakes and time should be allowed to get accurate vote counts before everyone starts yelling for folks to concede. Making sure we get an accurate count is an important part of our democracy.
Get over yourselves
Some people need to find reality again after the November elections. From the New York Times:
Liberal bloggers say they are not receiving the credit they deserve and are chafing at how what they call the mainstream media has showered too much credit on Emanuel and his senate counterpart, Charles E. Schumer of New York, for the sweep.
Emanuel and Schumer. You know, the head of the teams that raised the money and oversaw campaigns across the country. Yeah, the bloggers did as much as these two did to help bring the majority to the Democrats.
Spoken like a bunch of people that have never worked on a single campaign.
Frank Lasee announces his bid for the 8th CD (more or less)
This press release about the Iraq occupation by Rep. Frank 'a gun in every classroom' Lasee is a good indication that he is looking at running for the 8th Congressional District against Steve Kagen in 2008.
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part...
UPDATE: Rep. Frank Lasee was spotted in the rotunda yesterday. He was on one knee in front of the veterans memorial with his hand on his chin and some photographer was furiously snapping shots at him. Yeah, that guy is up to something. Maybe he's working on a Match.com entry.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The extreme dream team
The right half of the blogosphere has been debating whether or not the Republicans lost the election because they were not conservative enough. In Wisconsin we may get to see that debate play out in dramatic fashion after seeing the leadership elections in the senate.
The Wisconsin State Senate elected three extremists to run their caucus - Senator Scott Fitzgerald will be the Minority Leader, Senator Joe Leibham the Assistant Republican Leader and Senator Glenn Grothman will be the Republican Caucus Chair. I guess Attila the Hun wasn't available.
These three men will likely pull their caucus pretty far to the right. That means we will get to see if a more "conservative" message will attract enough voters to bring the Republicans the majority in two years.
I'm betting on no.
Conservative these days seems to mean the government should get to stamp its approval on your lifestyle, your doctor appointments, your schools, your local government spending and your religion. Fitzgerald, Leibham and Grothman are all followers of the pretty strict social litmus tests the so-called conservatives have put in for the Republican Party so I'd be surprised if their leadership didn't follow the path we've seen at the national level that help end Republican rule in DC in just twelve years.
Letting these three guys set the message and recruit candidates for the next round of elections could help the Democrats win the elections before they even start. What are the chances these three are going to recruit any socially moderate candidates or push any issues that are not designed to divide people into groups?
Maybe they'll look back to the winning formula former leaders like Mary Panzer brought to the caucus for guidance. Love her or hate her, Panzer was smart enough to do things like recruit Senator Sheila Harsdorf to run against former Senator Alice Clausing instead of a really conservative male. Running a slightly moderate woman was the key to winning that race and Panzer knew it.
Seems unlikely that a leadership team that includes the guy who ran against Panzer because she wasn't conservative enough is going to following her formula. And really, that's just fine with my side.
Not one Dem incumbent defeated
It's official. The Republicans failed to beat a single Democratic incumbent Senator, Representative or Governor last week. The counting has ended in the two close races against incumbent Democratic Representatives in Georgia and the Democrats have come out ahead.
Just how big is this? From CQ Politics:
Barrow's win also means the Democrats held all of their House, Senate and gubernatorial seats — including open seats where they were the incumbent party — that were up for election this year, a feat not accomplished since World War II.You can find the rest of the article here.
Note-You'll also see there that Rep. Steny Hoyer easily won his bid to be the Majority Leader of the House.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
You can say that again
"Republicans had a failed agenda. The contrast was pretty stark," she said. "They focused a lot of time on socially divisive issues, and we spent time on issues that united people. The real values are making sure families have affordable health care, not whether they have guns in every pocket or a redefinition of marriage."--Senator Judy Robson on why the Senate Democrats won the majority
The values argument could well be changing. Even some Evangelical Christian voters abandoned the Republican's value game after numerous articles revealed the Rove team was using them and thought little of them as a group. The values argument could be very interesting to watch over the next two years.
You can find the rest of the Capital Time article that the Robson quote came from here.
And speaking of John Gard
John Gard seems to be totally clueless as to why he lost his election. The American public had just finished a complete election day rejection of the Bush Administration's tactics of trying to convince the public that it is just too dangerous to vote for Democrats when Gard busted out this (from WBAY):
Gard says he isn't shocked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's abrupt resignation. His concern is what impact it will have on terrorism.John, put down the Bush talking points and slowly back away. Really, it's time. Junk like this help swing the 8th CD into the Dem column. No one bought it and even President Bush has changed his tune dramatically in the last week.
"The enemy is watching, and they see how people react, and they realized that if you can mess with American public opinion you can weaken their resolve, and that will allow a terrorist, our enemies, to gain strongholds where they shouldn't. That's my belief."
"I just hope with the gang that's going in there now that they remember that we are living in a dangerous world, and I just hope they are committed to standing with the troops and committed to realizing that America is not a guaranteed thing. It requires nurturing, it requires caretaking. And you got to understand, you take the fight to the enemy, you don't let them take the fight to you."
Perhaps I shouldn't expect more from a candidate that couldn't understand the national polling showing just how unhappy the people were with President Bush. Approval ratings in the thirties for President Bush didn't scare John Gard. No sir. He brought the president into Green Bay for some good ol' boy backslapping when the AP had the president's approval ratings at his lowest level of 33 percent. Some might call that loyalty. I'd call it ostrich-like devotion.
Just a few days before the election, the Republican that won the governor's race in Florida blew off the president for fear of what it could do to his poll numbers. When Bush came to a rally for the candidate, the candidate went elsewhere.
But not John Gard. He paraded people the public disapproves of through Green Bay like a starstruck teenager and then had to wonder why he lost the race. Even Vice President Dick Cheney's approval numbers in the teens didn't scare John Gard. He brought the vice president not long after he shot a guy in the face.
And now John Gard is letting everyone know he is going to run for something else. His thank letter to his supporters included this line:
Ultimately we narrowly lost. . . this time.
and this line:
Get ready: the future is right around the corner
I can't wait to see who else is around the corner to campaign for Gard next time. Tom DeLay probably has some free time...for now. Better snatch him up quick before the word "time" means something else to DeLay.
The John Gard that ran the Joint Finance Committee was an ok guy. If that guy had run for Congress, he might have won. But the John Gard that was the Speaker of the Assembly ran for Congress and he lost. As he gears up for another election, will Gard reconnect with that little farm boy from Lena and emerge a better candidate next time? We'll see.
In the meantime, are there bets on what office Gard will run for next? He left his "John Gard for Congress" website up with just a post office box listed. Is he leaving the up for a reason? Or does he have his eye on something else?
Fun election map
The New York Times has a fun map about the elections here. Ignore the fact that it looks like lots of pregnancy tests all lined up. It's got a lot of fun facts to compare.
It shows the all the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives that swung the House to the Dems and the voting percentages from 2004 and 2006. You can also chart out things like income level and voting percentages for the presidential election.
One thing to notice - The Wisconsin 8th CD that was lost by John Gard had one of the largest swings. With the exception of the Pennsylvania 10th CD, Wisconsin's 8th CD is the bar the farthest to the right on the 2004 bar above the map. Yeah, that's right. The only seat that swung from farther on the right was a seat that had an incumbent try to choke his mistress. Nice work John Gard!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Senator Alan Lasee's letter
Here is the letter that the Senate Democrats should send back to Senator Alan Lasee after he wrote this absurd letter to them, but they are much too nice to do it.
Dear Senator Lasee:
Thank you for sending your letter full of things you would like us to do when we take over the Senate next year. We all needed a good laugh.
Your offer of help in our transition to controlling the senate is so ridiculous it seems almost cute. Why would we want help from someone who thought his job was to allow only the people that agreed with him time to speak on the floor? Perhaps you should go to the rumpus room and think about the things you have said in the past before sending off letters trying to make yourself look all statesman like. You're not fooling anyone.
Remember this from the Wisconsin State Journal on 12/29/04
Republicans in the state Senate want to impose time limits on floor debates, saying they can't let the chamber disintegrate into a "rumpus room" as plans to televise legislative proceedings statewide move forward.Rest assured, we will treat you better than you treated us. Not because you deserve it after the way you treated us, but because we are good people.
Senate President Alan Lasee, R-De Pere, said he wants the Senate Organizational Committee to set time limits on a bill-by-bill basis.
Thanks again for your letter. We can handle it from here.
UPDATE: Seth over at the In Effect blog has a few other items from Lasee's past that are worth noting.
The GOP may have to spend many years undoing the damage they did this year by trying to convince voters that the problems our country is facing stem from immigrants instead of the way the federal government was being run by the Republicans. From Talking Points Memo:
How many years did the GOP put itself back with the rising population of hispanic voters in this country by running pretty much their whole campaign on immigrant bashing?
The answer, I think, is a lot. And exit poll data suggests a big drop off for Republicans among hispanic voters. According to the CNN exit polls, the 2004 spread as 40% for Republicans, 53% for Democrats. This year it was 26% for the GOP and 73% for Democrats.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Need a good laugh? The guy that won the election for Attorney general in Eau Claire County is named Rich White. Why is this funny? Some friends of mine that did doors up there said his yard signs said "Rich White Republican" and that's how the ballot probably read too.
You can find the vote tallies here. Scroll down to the District Attorney race under the statewides, congressional and statehouse races and you'll find Rich White (Rep.) ran unopposed.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Ryan and Sensenbrenner insult our troops
Two Wisconsin Republican Congressmen had statements recently that are so insulting to our troops and our nation that they should be asked a few more questions about the statements before being allowed to pretend they were on the correct side of this issue a few days after the election was over.
The president's decision to bring new leadership to the Defense Department is the right thing to do, and it's a change that's overdue.
-- U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, responding to the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The war has been mismanaged.--GOP U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner.
Really? Do you think those statements might have been helpful a few months or even a year or so ago? Do you think if you and a few more Republicans would have spoken up a long time ago that we could have changed the path of the war sooner?
Just how long have these two felt like this and looked the other way while the war raged on and soldiers died so they could try to protect their party going into the election? Ryan says it's overdue so he must have been thinking this for a while but kept silent. Keeping that to himself for five minutes was too long when you are talking about people dying.
Senate Republicans unable to look in the mirror
It's generic. It's nothing to do with any of our candidates. It's all about the national tide that swept through Wisconsin that we didn't think was going to.
-- Keith Gilkes, chief operative of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, calling Tuesday night "a Republican bloodbath."
I certainly hope Gilkes really believes this. If he and others in charge of electing a Republican Senate here in Wisconsin believe that, my side will have a much easier time in two years maintaining the majority.
Yes, the Dems ran the table and picked up all four competitive races in the state senate. But they were not won with eight-point margins like the governor's race was on Tuesday.
The national feelings did feed into the Dem victories, but the races were a lot closer and that suggests that if Republicans had done a better job running the senate, they could have won their races. Or at least some of them. Instead, then Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz let then Speaker John Gard run the senate on the God, gays and guns platform that neglected to deal with issues that Wisconsin residents want answers on now.
Nothing to do with your candidates? By all means keep telling yourself that Mr. Gilkes. Please keep recruiting candidates like Senator Dave Zien who's absurd focus on concealed carry left him unwilling or unable to work on the issues people really care about. Please keep looking the other way while senators like Tom Reynolds become the laughing stock of the state. Please keep firing up the right-wing talk show hosts to go after people like Senator Ron Brown for not being the right kind of Republican. And please recruit candidates like William McReynolds that are the definition of a slimy politician.
It makes my life oh so much easier.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thank a vet today
Veterans Day should be a time for everyone to thank the vets in their life for the sacrifices they made.
As I've mentioned before, I usually read the obituaries in the paper. I try to take note of the ones with the flag that designate a veteran and learn a little bit about them. We are losing the World War II generation fast and so many of them have led fascinating lives since the war. The obituaries only offer a glimpse of their life, but you can still learn a lot of them. Not surprisingly, many of them continued to give to their communities throughout their life.
Today the paper contained the obituary for Reuben L. Brandt of Reedsburg. He was 80 years old. I'm always glad to see veterans like the one in today's paper that have been blessed with a long life after their service.
If you are looking for a way to learn more about the veterans of our state, you can check out the upcoming events at the Wisconsin Veterans museum here.
UPDATE: And I thought hitting 80 was a nice long life. There are still 13 vets from WWI living and this story in the Washington Post details a little bit of the life of one that is the just shy of 106. And he is the youngest of the veterans from that war still living! Good for them.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Arrogance doesn't pay
In case anyone was wondering the answer to one of my questions in the "first random thoughts" post...
Rep. Rob Kreibich (R-Eau Claire) had $115,408.08 in the bank on his pre-election report. That report covers campaign spending through 10/23/06. Think he spent over $100,000 in the last two weeks? I'm guessing no.
Update: I guess Spivak and Bice were wondering about the answer to my question earlier this week.
The referendum effect
There has been a lot of talk about how the Republican strategy of putting the proposed amendment to ban on gay marriage and civil unions and the advisory vote on the death penalty backfired because it drove up Democratic turnout. That's true, but there is something else at work here that is very typical of our state that is being ingnored. Split-ticket voters.
Wisconsin has one of the highest percentages of split-ticket voting in the nation. Putting two Republican-themed items on the ballot in a year that turned out to be very anti-Republican let enough conservative voters split their vote in a new way. They could vote socially conservative on two issues and then punish the Republicans for their mismanagement of the government. The Republicans gave some of their swing voters a way out and they took it.
Kathleen Falk also fell victim to Wisconsin's need to split their vote. How else to explain how Dawn Marie Sass got elected but Falk did not? When the many split ticket voters in our state found themselves in the voting booth looking down the line and wanting to vote Dem over and over again, they needed a balance. And they found it by voting for a Republican for Attorney General and voting for the social issues on the back. The Attorney General race was the easiest choice to vary on because, right or wrong, the law and order theme is more associted with Republicans.
While many find it odd that Van Hollen is the only one to survive the Democratic wave, I think it's more likely that he won because of the Democratic wave. In a typical year, when voters weren't so upset at the legislative section of government and they could have varied their votes further down the ticket, Van Hollen would have come up short.
Let's hope the Republicans have learned their lesson on referendums. Playing games with the electorate is no way to modify the constitution of our state.
Dem wave brings diversity to the U.S. House leadership
An article in the NY Times yesterday had a run down of the outgoing committee chairman versus the incoming committee chairman in the U.S. House of Representatives. There are a lot of differences between the two groups, but one could have lasting effects that could dramatically benefit our country in the long run.
The new likely chairman list includes four African-American men. Rep. Charles Rangel will lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Alcee Hastings will lead the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson will lead the Homeland Security Committee and Rep. John Conyers will lead the Judiciary Committee. The previous list had none. Does it matter? I think it does.
It means our country will see these men on television more often now. The nation will see black men in positions of power and prestige instead of the negative way they are often portrayed on television.
And hopefully that will have a lasting effect on our nation.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is calling on both Jack Voight and Kathleen Falk to officially throw in the towel today. Why is there such urgency? No one is hurt by waiting for the official canvass to come in. There are errors that do turn up. Like this example from Wispolitics:
But La Crosse County Clerk Marion Naegle said her office found a mistake yesterday that flipped the results. Instead of 20,374 no votes and 20,358 yes votes that were initially reported, the final numbers were 21,172 no votes and 21,324 yes votes.Elections are run by humans that sometimes make mistakes. That is especially so when they have had a really long day like election day. So why not wait for the official results? J.B. Van Hollen and Dawn Marie Sass can go ahead with their planning to be in office. That's their right. But how is the planning harmed by Voight and Falk waiting to see the official results?
Naegle said the Town of Campbell had incorrectly tallied its votes, causing the discrepancy.
No place to turn
Do you think the Republicans are as gung ho on paperless voting systems now that Senator Allen's (R-VA) concession gives control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats? They more or less couldn't even do recount since many of the voting machines there do not have a paper trail. From the New York Times:
"A recount with these machines essentially involves an election official hitting the reprint button and then saying, 'Oh, the results are the same that we already printed - all fine here'. This tells us nothing about whether we have the correct tally. Garbage in, garbage out." -Avi Rubin, electronic-voting expert.It will be interesting to see how many converts the Virginia race creates in the Republican party.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
First random thoughts
I'm pretty tired so this post will be very random. But going to bed late and happy on election night is a much better than late and deflated.
Thank goodness we will still have Doyle. He may actually get to do more than block shots from the Republicans now that the senate went our way.
Very happy for my friends in the state senate. Few believed that they could do it, but I always knew they could.
Hats off to my friends in the Assembly for getting the important work done early of recruiting quality candidates in every race they could win. It paid off big. I'm sure lots of people thought my five seat pick up prediction was shear madness. Who would have thought I was low balling it?
Do we really have a state treasurer that handed out matchbooks with the phrase "Get off your ass and vote for Sass?" during one election? I guess so. Hilarious.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets their wish of Doyle constantly needled by J.B. Van Hollen for the next four years. Thanks WMC. Dem groups left Falk hanging out their by herself and now they have Van Hollen as a reward. Super. Bright side, the Repubs are probably stuck with Van Hollen as a candidate for governor.
Women win big! We have the first female Speaker of the House. Women can correctly claim that they delivered Doyle. There are new women heading to D.C. And the near total ban on abortion went down in South Dakota. Keep flexing those muscles ladies. There is so much more to do.
If any Dem leaning groups besides labor had spent some money on the assembly in Wisconsin the Dems could have taken over. Really. There are a number of races that were decided by less than one percent and incumbents went down that few thought were in trouble.
My favorite one is Rep. Kreibich. Not only did Senator Zien's mailer trying to confuse people about his challenger Kreitlow not work in Zien's race, apparently Kreibich should have been working on his own. How much money do you think Kreibich and Rep. Freese have in the bank today?
And now who jumps into the race for Speaker with Rep. Huebsch? His election is no longer a done deal after last night.
How many shredders do you think are running in the White House right now in anticipation of Democrat subpoena power?
I hate that a more conservative state, Arizona, beat a gay marriage amendment but we couldn't do it here. The youth of Wisconsin will have to start changing that starting today.
And speaking of gay rights, what do you think Congressman Green's kids will think of his gay bashing mailer when they are older and have gay friends. I think dad will have a tough time explaining that one.
The death penalty referendum won, but not by as much as I thought it would. That gives me hope. Plus, Senator Lasee's bill that he would have pushed hard if the Republicans retained controlled is never going to see the light of day now. And that's a good thing for our state.
Oh it's a happy day for sure.
Looks like Dems are picking up the Wisconsin State Senate baby
Ok, I'm not 100% positive on this as there are still some numbers coming in, but from what I'm hearing on the phones, Dems have run the table on the four competitive state senate races.
And the Assembly is looking like they are going to pick up more seats than anyone thought possible.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
McReynolds throws in his dirty towel
John Lehman has defeated William McReynolds. This is the one I am the happiest about. McReynolds shouldn't be in office period much less promoted. I predict he will not be in office much longer in Racine County either.
One down, two to go.
South Dakota turns back abortion ban
CNN is saying that South Dakota voters have turned down a near total ban on abortions.
It's a good set up for the case that the Supreme Court has in the chamber on the day after election day. The new Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in a court challenge regarding so-called partial birth abortions. More on that later.
A woman runs the House
WOO HOO!! Nancy Pelosi is going to be the first woman to be Speaker of the House. CNN is reporting that the Democrats will take control of the House.
What a great day for women! It's about damn time.
All of the dumb commercials run by Republicans warning that Pelosi could be Speaker of the House didn't work. She's here.
Deal with it.
Dems pick up three so far in U.S. House
CNN is reporting that the Dems have picked up two seats in Indiana and one in Kentucky by beating Rep. Hostettler, Rep. Chocola and Rep. Northrup. That is a good sign for Dems. Indiana and Kentucky aren't exactly big blue states.
CNN is also reporting that Dems have picked up three U.S. Senate seats. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. But those are the three easy ones most people were expecting to go our way. There is still a long way to go to a majority.
Turnout seems to be high
So far all of the news reports that I have seen indicate a higher than normal voter turnout for a non-presidential election year. If that holds, that's a good sign for the Dems.
You can find a Washington Post article on turnout here.
There are also many places experiencing voting glitches and some have extended voting hours to make sure everyone that wants to vote can do it. We could be in a for a long night.
None of the extended hours are in Wisconsin that I know of so please go and vote within the normal time frame. If you haven't voted yet, go now! As long as you are in line before the polls close, you have the right to vote.
You can find a report on some of the voting glitches from CNN here.
Elections Board confusing people
A story in the Wisconsin State Journal today highlights something I've been thinking about ever since I saw the supposed public service ad being run by the Wisconsin Elections Board on television. The ad is needlessly confusing and may even keep some people from going to vote because they think they will have to do a lot of time consuming tasks before they can vote.
It's like a campaign ad for the Republican Party advertisement for an overly restrictive voter ID program.
Most people going to vote today do not have to register. If you are voting in the same place you have been voting for a while now, you don't have to register or show ID to vote.
But even if you do have to register, please go and vote. It won't take as long as waiting for the Bush Administration to change the path of the occupation of Iraq if there isn't a very large message sent to him today.
I'm trying not to get too far into the hype of a Democratic tidal wave and keep in mind that if there is any party that can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it is mine. But here goes....
Governor - Jim Doyle wins with 52% of the vote. Mark Green just never seemed to catch on because this year voters just weren't buying the cookie cutter "Democrats are going to raise your taxes and I'm a fiscal conservative" crap campaign. The biggest indicator that Doyle is going to win is the last minute money coming in. The money is coming in almost two-to-one for Doyle. That means folks think Doyle is going to win and want to say they were with the winner.
Attorney General - Kathleen Falk wins, but by a little less than Doyle. Republican J.B. Van Hollen pulled the wool over more eyes than I thought he could, but not enough to win. At the end of the day, he is still too conservative to fit the entire state.
State Senate - Dems pick up three seats and control. I'm not positive which three will go for us and all four races in play might go our way. But if I had to guess... The national feelings will trump the missteps like Kathleen Vinehout's poetry press release and corrections will be made this year in Dem seats like the 31st held by Ron Brown. William McReynolds will get beat by John Lehman because McReynolds is the definition of a dirty politician. And while I'd like to think our state would stop supporting Tom Reynolds, we need so many Republicans to vote our way in that one that it might not be doable. That leaves Dave Zien getting beat by Pat Kreitlow and since according to a comment on an earlier post about Zien on my blog that Zien was out last night drunk with Glenn Grothman, I'm going to say that's our third seat.
State Assembly - The Dems pick up about five seats. Rep. Mark Pettis will lose to a far superior candidate - Ann Hraychuck, Gordon Hintz will pick up the seat being vacated by Rep. Gregg Underheim and one of my two sleeper races (Rep. Steve Freese in the 51st or Garey Bies in the 1st) will go to the Dems. Two other races of the ones in play will go Dem too just because they contained Repubs sitting in Dems seats and this is the year for the correction. Brett Davis could be one and the open Andy Lamb seat, Debi Towns, Jeff Wood or Judy Krawczyk could be the other.
Amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions - Wins with about 56% of the vote. Fair Wisconsin for the most part ran a really great campaign. But there were two errors that helped sink the effort to beat back discrimination. One, they should have stuck with talking about the second part of the amendment despite what many of the people writing checks probably wanted to focus on for this campaign. The second part of the proposed amendment was a gift that should have been used to bury this piece of trash. While I'd like to think most people in Wisconsin would like to see happily committed gay couples have the same rights to benefits that I do, I unfortunately know too many that don't and they will vote. Just as a campaign is no time to convince new people to vote, a campaign is also not the time to convinve people to think a new way. You have to work with what you have, not with what you wish you had. Two, the ad that said something like nothing will change if this doesn't pass was a mistake. When you run an entire campaign about all of the bad things that can happen to people if this passes, putting out an ad saying nothing will happen only confuses people. My father called and asked me which way he should vote after seeing that ad and I knew all was lost. However, even a perfect campaign might not have pushed enough people far enough away from their prejudices for this to go down. At the end of day, unfortunately life isn't fair.
Death penalty advisory vote - Passes easily. There was hardly any attention to this because there was so much going on this election cycle that not enough information got out there about why this is so wrong. (And I count myself as part of the group that should have spent more time on this)
Dane County Sheriff - Dave Mahoney wins. The Republican, Mike Hanson, says he'll bring the H.E.A.T. as part of his plan. I don't remember what it means because I was laughing so hard when I saw the ad. I really hope some guy with a lame ad using abrevations doesn't win. The ad also says if we elect him, we'll get more bang for our buck. Yeah, we don't really want the sheriffs shooting people. We want the sheriffs to stop the shootings.
U.S. House of Representatives - Dems pick it and some of my least favorite Republicans finally get sent packing. The ones that aren't really Republicans. They are just hate-filled opporunists with no core beliefs. Folks like Senator Rick Santorum (yes, I know he's in the Senate but it fits better here), Rep. John Hostettler and Rep. J.D. Hayworth could all be job shopping very soon and I couldn't be happier. I'm gonna guess Dems come away with 223 seats.
Wisconsin 8th CD - Kagen wins by a hair despite his mouth. And then let's get that guy some media training.
U.S. Senate - Until Monday night, I really didn't think the Dems were going to be able to get control of the Senate. I thought the Dems would come up a seat or two short. But all the talking heads on Hardball with Chris Mathews said it is going to flip. One of them had a good point on why it will flip. He said the Dems will not pick up five. It will either be three or six because the Dems will either have a good night or they will not. Plus, there are races like Virginia and Montana where the Repubs don't have a full ground game in place because they weren't expecting to have a race. If Tucker Carlson thinks it's going to be a Dem Senate, it's good enough for me. Personally, I'd almost rather see it tied so Vice President Dick Cheney has to sit and swear a lot while casting tie breakers. Almost.
Oh no, I've been swayed by the hype of cable televison just while writing this post.
Get out and vote
If you don't like the direction our government is going, get out and vote today.
Don't listen to all the stories saying it's going to be a runaway year for the Dems and then think you don't need to vote.
Bring a magazine in case the line is a little long. Please don't let a line keep you from casting the vote necessary to bring the change you want to see. The Republicans will stay in line so you should too.
The New York Times listed Wisconsin as one of the states to watch state legislative races as a measure of just how strong the voice for change in this country is right now. Let's show them.
Monday, November 06, 2006
The "gift" of health care
In the last week of a campaign, some candidates really show their true colors. And Congressman Mark Green put his on full display with a mail piece this week that is nothing short of gay bashing.
The outrageous piece of mail sent out by Congressman Mark Green is offensive on many, many levels. But once I got past the obvious homophobic message the mailer was suppose to get across, something else jumped out at me. This line as reported by the Capital Times made me want to spit nails:
The brochure says Doyle favors "a multi-million dollar gift to partners of state employees" and is "working to give health benefits to domestic partners that could cost as much as $13 million in taxpayer funds."
The right to be treated by a doctor so you don't die is a gift in Congressman Mark Green's world. And if you aren't enough like him and his supporters, it's a gift you don't deserve.
If you don't find this statement outrageous, try inserting "African Americans" or "Jews" in that sentence and see how you feel. Our state should never be deciding which human beings get health care based on categories some have created to divide people.
And we certainly shouldn't elect leaders that are willing to sign their name to a piece of mail that spells out that kind of policy before they get into office.
Voters should take the gift of taxpayer paid for health care away from Congressman Mark Green tomorrow and never give him another chance to look a gift horse in the mouth again.
Dave Zien's truthiness problem
Dave Zien thinks his constituents are dumb.
There is really no other conclusion to come to after seeing his late election mailer trying to convince voters that somehow his opponent is endorsing him.
Kreitlow/Kreibich. Both former newscasters. Oh it's clever. I'll give his team that much. But let's hope it's too cute by half and it backfires on his team.
It's one thing for Zien to tell voters he supports things and then vote another way when he gets to Madison as he has been doing for years. Or to cultivate the role of rebel while taking in more taxpayers dollars to joyride around on his motorcycle than many people make as a salary for an entire year. But to actually send them mail that insults their intelligence is quite another. When has any candidate endorsed their opponent in the final week of a campaign? I'm gonna guess oh, never.
And will any voter in the area think Rep. Kreibich's endorsement of a fellow Republican is a surprise? I suppose it's possible given that many people can't name their elected officials.
But I've read numerous conservative blogs stating that Zien is going to walk away with this race. This flyer says the Zien team knows he is in a very tight race and could lose tomorrow. Why would someone comfortably ahead bother with last minute tricks like this?
The flier could end up getting the campaign in legal trouble because they used a copyrighted image. But let's hope that's not all too little too late to hold Zien accountable. Otherwise he will win his election by one of the most deceitful means I've seen in quite a long time.
Two potential sleeper Assembly races
There are two races to watch on Tuesday that could surprise people. The 1st Assembly District and the 51st Assembly District.
The 1st Assembly District is currently held by Garey Bies. He is being challenged by Democrat Ame Grail. The district is conservative but Grail cannot be written off as liberal Democrat. She is a former small business owner and currently a realtor. She has been very active in her community and has heard how unhappy people in that area are with the current legislature. Bies doesn't seem like he's even running to win this time and he could be handed a loss as a result.
The 51st Assembly District is currently held by Steve Freese and he is being challenged by Steve Hilgenberg. Freese has two big problems going into this race. Problem number one - he has built himself up as someone fighting to change Madison and now is one of the people that regularly stands in the way of change and his constituents know it. He could have been the vote to bring SB 1, an ethics reform bill, to the floor this session and chose his leadership team over his constituents. Problem number two - his district is trending Democratic in a big, big way. Senator John Kerry got just over 55% in 2004 and Senator Russ Feingold pulled in just over 59% that year.
The national trends also could help feed into the right people come out to vote on Tuesday giving the Dems two seats no one was expecting them to pick up.
A united front against discrimination
I'm not crazy enough to think anything that I say here will sway a voter one way or another so even though I've posted a lot in the past about the proposed amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions, I doubt anything I type today will change a vote. But when was the last time the major newspapers in our state have all editorialized the same way on an issue?
Here is a sampling of the editorials compiled by One Wisconsin Now:
"For as long as homosexuality has been a political issue, gay men and women have been condemned as filthy, sinful and abnormally promiscuous. It's against this backdrop that many gays and lesbians yearn for the mainstream values embodied in faithful, lifetime relationships. Gays who embrace this lifestyle should be encouraged, not discouraged, which is why Wisconsin voters should reject the marriage amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot."
"Hopefully, Wisconsin residents will see this ballot question for what it is - an attempt to discriminate against and deny freedoms to fellow citizens. It is discouraging to even have to state editorially that this shouldn't be allowed."
"The issue really is not about gay marriage. That is already banned by Wisconsin statutes. The real danger in this amendment is what would happen to any unmarried couples because of the second sentence, banning civil unions and adversely affecting relationships "similar" to marriage. The amendment is unnecessary. Gay marriage already is banned in this state."
"Unfortunately, the language of the proposed amendment goes too far. It prohibits 'a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.' What the heck does that mean?"
"Voters' beliefs and decisions are, honorably, their own to keep and make. But the Nov. 7 state referendum amending the Constitutional definition of marriage is more un-Wisconsin than 'On Wisconsin.'"
"It's true that, someday, the issue of same-sex marriage or civil unions in Wisconsin might end up in a courtroom. But passing this amendment virtually guarantees that it, and other related issues about how we define domestic life, will end up in a courtroom because of the uncertainty of its language. This is the wrong answer for our constitution, so it’s the wrong answer for Wisconsin."
"If we really wanted to protect marriage, we would be spending more time and money on efforts to reduce domestic violence. We would be working to ensure that all families have access to adequate health care. We would be working to wipe out hunger and poverty in children. These efforts would do more to protect marriage and family than a constitutional amendment designed to discriminate against a fairly large segment of society -- many of whom, we suspect, adhere to the same conservative positions as Republicans, who ushered the amendment through the Legislature and onto the ballot."
"Amending the constitution to require discrimination goes against everything that Wisconsin stands for. It breaks faith with the most fundamental of the values that have guided this state for all of its 158 years."
"But this amendment, as worded, is not just harmlessly unnecessary; it's dangerous. The pernicious potential of this amendment is to undo protections, current and future, provided to both unmarried homosexual and heterosexual couples."
The other side of Green's mouth
We've already seen that Congressman Mark Green has tried to have it both ways on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions when the Log Cabin Republicans said Green told them he would not enforce part of the amendment. Now we see Green is trying to have it both ways on abortion.
In a comment to a post by blogger Dennis York, Susan Armacost of Wisconsin Right to Life said this:
Mark Green opposes rape and incest exceptions but he has said that if the legislature presented him with a bill that contained rape and incest exeptions, he would sign it into law.
Really? Do you think he says that when he is campaigning to single issue anti-abortion voters?
Thompson twins can't get enough of themselves
There must be some sort of genetic mutation in the Thompson family that causes them to say crazy things near election time in order to see their name in the press.
First we had Tommy Thompson saying he was going to run for president. He had to say this after his former advisors told him to stop saying he was going to run for governor again so he could still get press calls.
Now we have his brother Ed Thompson encouraging people to write his name in for governor as a protest. He thinks people that are angry about the legislature not doing what they want them to do should vote for him so he can not do what they want him to do from the sidelines. Oh wait, he's just kidding now. See, that way he can get another round of stories about how he is just kidding.
You can almost hear them singing the old Thompson Twins hit "Hold Me Know" as they desperately search for their own name in the newspaper on election night...
Madison school referendum information
In case anyone in the Madison area is looking for more information than the tiny bit covered in the papers on the Madison school referendum, you can go here for more information and opinion from both sides.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
NRCC's dirty phone tricks might show up in WI
Last week I posted about the NRCC's campaign filing that said they were going to be doing phone calls against Democrat Steve Kagen in the 8th Congressional District. This article about a close race in Pennsylvania shows just what all those phone calls might be like in Kagen's race.
Hat tip: Talking Points Memo
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's cynical endorsement
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsed Republican J.B. Van Hollen for Attorney General. That endorsement stems from one thing - the paper would love to see Van Hollen investigating Governor Doyle for every little thing he does over the next four years.
How else to explain why they endorsed a candidate that is completely wrong on many of the major issues the paper cares about?
Investigations - whether they are grounded in reality or result in any charges - sell newspapers. And why do the hard work of actually digging into the issues facing our state when stories about "scandals" can be written simply by having a partisan Attorney General throw bombs at the governor and calling up some goo goo for a quote?
The Journal Sentinel said they aren't worried about Van Hollen's crazy statements and fringe beliefs because he can't legislate and he promised not to be too crazy.
No word on whether they checked behind his back to see if he had his fingers crossed.
What about his performance in this election would give any paper or person the belief that Van Hollen will be balanced or represent any view other than his extremist point of view?
Van Hollen's view of the role of the Attorney General isn't even balanced. Van Hollen's "all violent crime, all the time" mentality regarding the job led even more conservative newspapers like the Appleton Post Crescent to endorse Kathleen Falk.
Van Hollen may not be able to technically legislate, but he can pick and choose what his office takes on, or more importantly doesn't take on for cases and enforcement. He can do a lot of damage in four years.
Here's hoping the readers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel see through the game this newspapers is playing.
198 vs 180
Those are the number of safe Democratic seats and safe Republican seats respectively in the U.S. House of Representatives according to the NY Times map today. Love having our number bigger than their number.
That U.S. map is looking better all the time.
It also lists 16 seats that are leaning Dem, 25 that are leaning Repub, and 16 that are tossups. If those polling numbers are correct, the Democrats only have to win four of the 16 tossups to win control.
GOP campaign theme
"Stop Gay Marriage Now So Osama Doesn't Get Away!"
-Sign on a truck circling a campaign event where President Bush was stumping for a Republican candidate in Colorado
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorses Doyle
The Sunday edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will contain an endorsement of Governor Jim Doyle.
The editorial includes:
"Inheriting a $3.2 billion deficit from previous GOP governors and Legislatures, he balanced the budget and, eventually, restored state funding to public schools to two-thirds. Simply, the state's ranking as a high-tax state predates him, and it is disingenuous to point the blame his way just now.
As a check against legislative overreach, Doyle's veto has been invaluable. On concealed carry, on legislation that would have had pharmacists' personal views trump what a doctor prescribes for a patient, on voter ID - whose true intent is voter suppression - and on legislation that threatened embryonic stem cell research.
Green is anti-abortion. Doyle is for a woman's right to choose. Green is against government funding of pioneering embryonic stem cell research. Doyle is for it. Green favors a taxpayer protection amendment that would limit, through the constitution, local spending. Doyle, forcing a freeze on local governments to accomplish much the same thing, is against it.
Doyle is the better choice."
You can find the editorial here.
Only Republican kids trick or treat
I have a nomination for the lamest excuse for being down in a poll ever given by a campaign. When the Van Hollen team was asked about a recent poll that showed J.B. Van Hollen trailing Democrat Kathleen Falk in the race for Attorney General, Brian Fraley said the poll was "conducted during a night when GOP suburban families were out trick or treating..." and then said the campaign was not troubled by the poll.
Yes, only Republican children trick or treat since the legislature passed that law declaring the children of Democrats just don't deserve any candy.
What will the excuse be election night when the final poll comes in? The vote was conducted on day when GOP suburban moms had too many soccer games?
Friday, November 03, 2006
McReynolds/Vos Team expensive for Racine County Taxpayers
Republican State Senate candidate for the 21st District William McReynolds and Republican State Representative Robin Vos make quite a team. Together they have build a profitable popcorn business in Racine County.
The bad news for the Racine County taxpayers is that they did it by using a lot of county resources. The good news for the Racine County taxpayers is that one of their county supervisors is watching their back.
Racine County Supervisor Ken Hall and other Racine County residents were so outraged by the reports in the Racine Journal Times of McReynolds' abusing county resources in the that they did a little investigating on their own. Turns out, McReynolds has been using county resources even more that originally reported.
Hall has issued a report that you can find at a blog post from Progressive Majority Wisconsin. Some of the lowlights of the report include:
Analysis of call records obtained with open records requests for the periods from April 2003 to December 2005 for the office phone of the Racine County Executive, and for the months of April 2003 to May 2003 for the County Executive’s government issues cell phone produced 562 contacts and the likely loss of more than 20 work days.
The report also notes that Racine County pays a higher salary to its county executive because it is a very demanding job. That job also includes rules that say under no circumstances should county phones be used to "Solicit business for personal gain or profit."
This report shows that once all the information is fully examined regarding McReynolds use of county resources for personal gain, he is going to have a hard time winning an election for dog catcher.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
NRCC hits the phones for John Gard
These will be some pretty ugly phone calls...
CONQUEST COMMUNICATIONS GROUP
2812 EMERYWOOD PARKWAY
RICHMOND, Virginia 232943718
Purpose of Expenditure: Phone Banks
This Committee OPPOSES The Following Candidate: KAGEN 4 CONGRESS
Office Sought: House of Representatives
State is Wisconsin in District 08
Date Expended = 11/01/2006
Person Completing Form: CHRISTOPHER J. WARD
Date Signed = 11/01/2006
Amount Expended = $4674.84
Calendar YTD Per Election for Office Sought = $1095277.94
Hat tip: TPM Cafe
Polls and more polls
Blogger has been acting nuts for a week now and eating my posts or not letting me put stuff up. Hopefully it will get better soon, but in the meantime...
If you want to get your polling fix for the House of Representatives, Slate.com has links to polls in every state. They have three polls listed for the Kagen/Gard race in the 8th CD here, but you may have seen them.
They are also scratching their heads over some of the Zogby results so the Green Team shouldn't be too excited over their fake .5% lead.
You can find the polls here.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Botched joke vs botched war
So the right wing has pinned its election hopes on trying to make Senator John Kerry's botched joke about President Bush worse than President Bush botching the war.
Which one hurts the troops more? I'd say the war/occupation.
Why would Kerry rip on the education level of the troops? He is a Yale graduate that fought for our country. The college kids in the audience at the time of the comment got the joke, but that didn't stop the righties from trying to serve this up as some red meat for the base right before an election.
Look we all know Kerry isn't a great speaker. We have the 2004 as a painful reminder of that fact.
But the fact the Bush Team is trying to hide with this media blitz is far more damaging than any botched joke or bad speaking engagement. It is becoming more and more clear to the citizens of this country that the Bush team isn't doing even an ok job managing the war. A slide from a Pentagon presentation shows the situation in Iraq is slipping closer and closer to chaos every week.
Which of course is what this orchestrated reaction to Senator Kerry's lame joke is all about. The Republicans figure, if people are going to be thinking about Iraq anyway, let's have them think about this comment from Senator Kerry instead of the real problems we have there.
And that line of thinking about Iraq is the real scandal.
Welcome to your district Mr. Reynolds
Senator Tom Reynolds' (R-West of Sanity) campaign flak J.J. Blonein seems unfamiliar with Reynolds' senate district. When former Brookfield Mayor Kate Bloomberg and former state Rep. Frank Urban endorsed Dem Jim Sullivan in the 5th Senate District against Reynolds this week Blonein said:
"Frank Urban and his wife are the consummate RINOS," Blonein said.Notice how Blonein only really acknowledges Urban in his comment. Bloomberg is just "his wife" even though she is a former Mayor of Brookfield.
And by RINOs does he mean Republicans that don't think questions about religion in a job interview are appropriate? Does he mean Republicans that don't think women should have to die in childbirth anymore and pharmacists should fill legal prescriptions for birth control? Does he mean Republicans that don't think senators should be writing tax breaks to benefit their own household?
Well, welcome to Senator Tom Reynolds' district Mr. Blonein. You'll find a lot of so-called RINOs in this district. In fact, they made Reynolds general election victory possible last time around. You cannot win without them and calling them names and dismissing them as irrelevant is probably not a wise campaign strategy.
Comments like that lead to comments like this:
"Tom Reynolds has been an embarrassment to our communities," the Republicans wrote in a letter sent Oct. 25. "He puts his own shortsighted, obsolete views before the interests of his constituents and Wisconsin. We think it's time for a change."You can find the letter from Urban and Bloomberg here.
Napoleon Dynamite/ Tommy Thompson on campaign trail for Green
"Wisconsin will be healthier, better and stronger than it is today...You will see once again the eagles soaring, the Packers scoring and the Harleys roaring." -Tommy Thompson as Napoleon Dynamite on the campaign trail for Congressman Green.
This is maybe the lamest endorsement quote I've ever seen. Did people actually applaud this comment at the rally with a straight face?
I expect to see a "Vote for Mark" t-shirt on Thompson while saying "Vote for Mark and all your wildest dreams will come true" any day now.