Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Will Bush wear a cardigan to save energy?

This from Drudge Report, so take it for what it's worth:


President Bush is considering an address to the nation asking citizens to conserve energy, a top White House source says.

Bush ordered the release of oil from federal petroleum reserves to help refiners affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Bush returned to Washington on Wednesday to oversee the federal response to the historic disaster. He plans to coordinate federal efforts, across more than a dozen agencies, to assist hurricane victims.

"Still undecided is whether or not to call for a nationwide effort to reduce energy consumption during this emergency," a top Bush source explains. "It is seriously being considered."

A second White House source says there are no plans for the president to address the country on gas.
Do you think he will wear a cardigan and sit by the fire, a la Jimmy Carter?

Will someone explain to him that the way to conserve is to turn the thermostat UP in the summer and DOWN in the winter?

Bush gives new reason for war: Oil

It's not my headline, it is from the Boston Globe. (Well, OK, I added "oil" but that's what they meant, as you'll see.

Here's the lead paragraph of the AP story:

CORONADO, Calif. -- President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
Hat tip:

Greens, Libertarians ask Doyle to end war

Cute. The Wisconsin Green and Libertarian Parties have found something they can agree on: It's time to bring the troops home from Iraq.

Instead of asking the President to offer a plan, or supporting Sen. Russ Feingold's proposal to set a target date for withdrawal, their press release blasts Gov. Jim Doyle and asks him to bring the Wisconsin National Guard home.

The Greens, somewhat ironically, are planning referendum campaigns called "Bring the Troops Home NOW!" They hope to get in on the ballot in April, seven months from now. I guess "NOW" is relative.

One manure digester will never be enough

Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk will announce Thursday that a plan is in place to develop a regional manure digester, according to a news advisory.

Given the amount of manure that is generated in the State Capitol alone, this sounds like a project that will never have enough capacity to meet the demand.

And now, some good news from Iraq

OK, you asked for it, you got it, courtesy of Grist:

Marsh o'Potamia
Once-vast marshlands being restored in Iraq

The marshlands of Iraq, drained nearly dry by Saddam Hussein, are making a surprisingly robust comeback. Seen by some as the inspiration for the biblical Garden of Eden, the lush wetlands once covered nearly 3,600 square miles near the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Mid-century drainage projects took a toll, but the marshes were primarily destroyed by Hussein -- and that was the least of his retaliation against the local Marsh Arabs, who supported a Shiite Muslim rebellion following the 1991 Gulf War. Locals began breaching the dikes after Hussein's government fell in 2003, and about 37 percent of the area has been reflooded -- a "phenomenal rate," according the United Nations. Japan is funding an $11 million project to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to about 100,000 Iraqis who still live in the marsh area, help renew the marshes, and train 250 Iraqis in wetlands management.

Why shouldn't gun nuts make the gun laws?

UPDATE: AG Peg Lautenschlager has gone to court to seek release of the draft of a concealed carry bill that the authors shared with the NRA but won't give to the attorney general .Press release.

This headline on this story about a dispute over who can see the draft of the latest concealed carry bill seems to miss the main point. Here's the headline:

Gun bill ignites open records dispute;
Does sharing draft with outsiders make it public?

The gist of the story is that there is still another bill being drafted to let people in Wisconsin carry concealed weapons on the street, on the bus, in the parks, in shopping malls, at athletic events, and other places where more guns are the obvious way to stop violence.

The attorney general's office has asked to see the bill draft, since in its latest incarnation the bill reportedly designates the AG as the one to issue the permits to gun-toters.

No dice, says one of the sponsors, State Rep. Scott Gunderson (R-Waterford). Drafts are confidential until they're introduced. The AG disagrees, and says that sharing a "draft" document with anyone on the outside makes it a public document.

Boring, huh?

Until you find out that the outsiders who have seen the draft and offered comments are the pro-gun lobby, the National Rifle Assn. The NRA offered "feedback," Gunderson says.

When Gunderson announced earlier this summer that the AG would be the one to issue the permits, Deputy AG Dan Bach made a written request for copies of any drafts that the authors had shared with third parties. Bach said he made the request because the new bill could hurt the Department of Justice's budget and could make the public less safe. I don't know about the budget, but I get the "less safe" part.

"I made the request primarily because I wanted to see the bill draft, and when I got the response that I got from them, it raised concerns . . . that once again this appears to be a situation where special interests are being afforded a role in the legislative process and the rest of us are being frozen out of it," he said.

That's the real issue: Should the NRA lobbyists secretly be writing gun legislation? (Some will say they have been for years, which is probably true).

Gunderson apparently doesn't see anything wrong with that.

Of course, he doesn't see anything wrong with every Tom, Dick and Harriet packing heat, either.

Watch for this bill to come out of the chute fast, get a quick hearing and be rushed to a vote before opponents have a chance to organize.

A squishy editorial follows the story.

Making hateful attacks on "hate speech"

State Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) has launched a hate campaign against hate speech, EyeOnWisconsin observes.

Suder's all worked up that a British Parliament member is to speak against the Iraq war on the UW campus, introduced by -- gasp! -- Jane Fonda. Worth a read.

Poll shows solid, growing support

for disengaging from war in Iraq

There's a lot to chew on in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, aside from the headlines that the President's approval rating is at an all-time low.

A series of questions on the Iraq war, how Bush has handled it, and what we should do, suggest that if Sen. Russ Feingold is out in front of the antiwar mood in this country, the gap isn't that big and is narrowing.

By a margin of 57-42, people disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq.

When asked whether the U.S. should set a deadline for withdrawing its troops,39% say yes and 59% no. That is a solid base for withdrawal, and it is likely to continue to grow. Feingold has not proposed a deadline, but rather a target date, of Dec. 31, 2006, but that seems to be too fine a distinction for most people and the media to make. (Supporters of the war, of course, don't want to get it, so they can accuse him of wanting to "cut and run.")

In any case, the pollsters told the 39% who supported a deadline in the previous question that a Dec 31, 2006 deadline has been proposed for withdrawing US military forces from Iraq, and asked their reaction. Four per cent said that was too soon; 45% said it was too late; the other 50% thought it was just right.

So 20% of the population thinks Feingold's date is just right, and another 19% think we should set an earlier deadline. That's a good start.

More telling, perhaps, was the question; "Do you think Democrats have gone too far or not far enough in opposing the war in Iraq?"

Fifty-three per cent said "Not far enough," 37% said they've gone too far, and 4%, like Goldilocks, thought it was just right.

Finally, people were asked whether they think the US should keep troops in Iraq until civil order is restored, even if that means more US casualties, or whether the US should withdraw to avoid further casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored. Respondents said we should stay, but the margin was only 54-44, and it has been in steady decline since July 2003, when 72% said we should stay no matter what.

The message is that people's patience is wearing thin. They don't see progress, they don't like Bush's handling of the war, and they are beginning to look for a way out. It may take some time to reach a consensus on how to do it, but that is the direction this country is headed.

If you want to pore over the results and offer your own analysis, feel free. Here's the link.


No better time than the present to introduce you to , a project launched a couple of weeks ago by Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media., a political consultant and internet strategist in Portland, Oregon.

LeftyBlogs regularly scans and collects the latest posts from almost 900 liberal blogs across the country, sorting them by state. It's an easy way to see what's happening in the blogosphere.

There was a little glitch in getting the Xoff Files link up and running properly, but that apparently was fixed in the middle of the night, resulting in a flood of posts from this site. But starting today it should work normally.

Check it out.

Newspapers take care of their own

Excuse me while I lapse into my journalism review mode for a moment.

Most people know that the best way to guarantee that you'll get a real obituary in the newspaper, rather than just a paid death notice, is to work for the newspaper. It's one of those perks, and it extends beyond the newsroom to other departments, too.

That's certainly their prerogative. They're the ones who buy the ink by the barrel, although we are the ones who help pay for it.

What prompted this was a Journal Sentinel story announcing the appointment of a new deputy managing editor, Thomas Koetting. It's a big job, but one were you may never read his name again unless he wins a prize, gets promoted again, or retires from the paper.

But this is the sentence that caught my eye:

He replaces Gerry Hinkley, who recently retired after a distinguished career at the Milwaukee Sentinel and the Journal Sentinel.
I don't know Gerry Hinkley, and I have no reason to doubt that she had "a distinguished career" at the newspapers. But I know that you would never read that kind of statement about a non-newspaper person unless it was in quotes and attributed to someone. This particular story didn't even have a byline, so you can't even say it was the reporter's opinion.

Which suggests, to anyone who has worked around a newsroom, that it was written by a higher-up, to be run as written without editing. I'm hoping the first thing Tom Koetting does is to end that practice.

Helping the people of New Orleans

Our hearts go out today to the people of New Orleans, a truly special city, and to the rest of the Gulf Coast devastated by the hurricane.

Nothing I can say or write will help. We're going to make a contribution today, but that seems so inadequate. People desperately need help, and many will never recover from this tragedy. And all we can do is write a check. I wish there were something more to do.

If you want to help, here are some suggestions:

Where to Donate

A variety of government and private agencies are en route to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, and federal officials said people wanting to help should not head to the affected area unless directed by an agency. Instead, Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urged people to make cash contributions to organizations. Cash donations "allow volunteer agencies to issue cash vouchers to victims so they can meet their needs," he said.

FEMA listed the following agencies as needing cash to assist hurricane victims:

· American Red Cross, 800-HELP-NOW (435-7669) English, 800-257-7575 Spanish.

· America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070.

· Adventist Community Services, 800-381-7171.

· Catholic Charities USA, 800-919-9338.

· Christian Disaster Response, 941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554.

· Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 800-848-5818.

· Church World Service, 800-297-1516.

· Convoy of Hope, 417-823-8998.

· Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522.

· Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210.

· Nazarene Disaster Response, 888-256-5886.

· Operation Blessing, 800-436-6348.

· Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, 800-872-3283.

· Salvation Army, 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).

· Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, 800-462-8657, Ext. 6440.

· United Methodist Committee on Relief, 800-554-8583.

-- Associated Press

In Wisconsin

Greater Milwaukee chapter, American Red Cross, (414) 342-8680

Southeast Wisconsin Tri-County chapter, American Red Cross, (262) 554-9997

--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Extra! Extra! Dennis York lives

He insists this is not an unretirement, but simply a need to get something off his chest on a timely topic.

Whatever the case, Dennis York is back, at least briefly, with an item that bashes lawmakers in both parties for trying to score political points on the tragedy that has hit New Orleans. (Although Judy Robson gets it a little more than John Gard, who seems like an afterthought). Here are Gard's release and Robson's letter, which actually has 18 signers including some Repubs.

Read York's Open letter to residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama here.

Welcome back, even briefly, Dennis, whoever you are. (Once again, he left no fingerprints.)

Story on Clark speech tilts toward GOP

First, something from the AP story on Wesley Clark's Madison appearance, and then a comment or two:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark called the war in Iraq a strategic blunder that has been poorly handled by the president, but he advised Tuesday against setting a deadline to withdraw U.S. troops, as fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold suggested.

Clark, a four-star general who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, called the war a mistake during a stop in Wisconsin to raise money for fellow Democrats. He said President Bush failed to plan for the aftermath of the initial invasion and committed a "strategic blunder" that cost 1,900 lives and $200 billion.

Still, he said his military experience has convinced him setting deadlines does not work. Clark spent 34 years in the military, including time as supreme allied commander of NATO.

"You put the deadline out there for us to come home, it's used against us," Clark said.

Feingold, D-Wis., earlier this month said the U.S. should set a target date of Dec. 31, 2006, to have all of its soldiers out of Iraq. He said the proposal was meant to jump start the process of bringing American troops home.

Wisconsin state Republican chairman Rick Graber said Clark's criticism of the war was politically motivated and a sign he will run for president in 2008. He said most Americans believe a deadline to withdraw from Iraq is a bad idea and Clark's comments show how little support exists for Feingold's target.

Feingold said in a statement Tuesday the deadline is meant as a target date to end the mission in Iraq and allow the U.S. to refocus its efforts on the larger fight against global terrorism rather than let the war "dominate our security strategy and drain vital security resources for an unlimited amount of time."
Although the AP writer, J.R. Ross, clearly knows Feingold has not called for a deadline, but rather a target date (as he explains later in the story), he allows GOP hatchetman Graber to comment on a "deadline" and say "most Americans" think it's a bad idea.

You would think the GOP chair with a corner office in one of the state's big law firms would read the Wall Street Journal, but maybe he missed its story last week, about a Harris poll, that said:

As in June, most Americans (61%) favor bringing a large number of U.S. troops home from Iraq in the next year, the poll shows. That's up sharply from 47% in a November 2004 poll. In comparison, 36% of those polled say they want to keep troops in Iraq until a stable government is established there, down from 50% in November, the poll shows.
Another poll, done for AP itself, showed 78% of Americans believe the Iraq war has either increased the threat of world terrorism or had no effect.

Unfortunately, Ross' story is what most Wisconsin newspapers will provide for their readers Wednesday morning.

Bush ends non-vacation early,

heads for higher ground

So after more than a month of insisting that being in Texas wasn't really a vacation, and that the President could do everything there he could do at the White House, it fell to Scott McClellan, Bush's spokesman, to explain to reporters today why Bush needed to go back to DC to handle the hurricane.

This from the press gaggle, via Wonkette:

Q This is more -- this is more symbolic. Cutting short his vacation is more symbolic because he can do all this from the ranch, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think -- no, I disagree. Like I said, this is one of the most devastating storms in our nation's history, and the President, after receiving a further update this morning, made the decision that he wanted to get back to D.C. and oversee the response efforts from there. This is going to -- there are many agencies involved in this -- in this response effort, and it's going to require a long and sustained effort on behalf of all the federal agencies working closely with state and local officials to help people recover from the destruction and devastation.

Q What is he unable to -- what is he unable to do in Crawford he could do --

MR. McCLELLAN: We'll talk to you all later. We've got to go. Thank you.

-- Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Stealth candidate may fit right in

This Journal Sentine lstory about a former Menomonee Falls trustee who filed a committee to to run for Assembly, but asked the State Elections Board if it could be kept secret, is interesting on a couple of counts.

One is the secrecy question, of course. Elections Board chief Kevin Kennedy says Chris Slinker asked to file anonymously, but the appropriately named Slinker denies it. Why on earth would Kennedy make up something like that?

Another is that Slinker left his state job working for State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-Whitefish Bay) last year after he was accused -- but never convicted -- of campaigning for local officials on state time. Maybe Rep. Scott Jensen (R-Not Convicted Yet) could find him one of those jobs to run Republican campaigns on someone else's payroll, like he did for Rep. Scott Suder. (Earlier post.)

Slinker says he's "exploring" a challenge to GOP Rep.Susanne Jeskewitz (R-Menomonee Falls), who he says is not conservative enough.

UPDATE:In a followup story, Kennedy says Slinker talked to an Elections Board staffer and "questioned whether it would be public" and whether there would be "another way to do it that is not" public. Those questions are not unusual from prospective candidates, Kennedy said. Whatever that means.

Quote, unquote

"One thing we do is tell both sides of the story." -- WTMJ talk show host Charlie Sykes.

I heard that today with my own ears, but managed to keep the car on the road. I could buy "we tell the OTHER side of the story." Both sides? Never.

Green-Walker debate will heat up later

What if they held a debate and nobody disagreed?

It sounds like that's what happened when Repub gov wannabes Scott Walker and Mark Green met for the first time in their long campaign to win the GOP nomination next year.

It was pretty much all sweetness and like, according to Amy Rinard's Journal Sentinel story:

An event billed as a debate between Republican gubernatorial candidates Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker nearly turned into a love fest on Friday with the two friends and former colleagues agreeing that they agree on most issues.

The only point of contention seemed to be whose experience is more relevant to being governor.
But it is early, and the climate will change. Right now both campaigns are busily doing opposition research, to explore every possible weakness or negative on the other guy.

In the final analysis, campaigns are all about drawing distinctions between candidates, and giving people a reason to vote for you instead of your opponent. And whether it is better experience to be a Congressman than a county exec is hardly going to be a voting issue for most people.

If the Walker-Green race is at all close a year from now, and hasn't turned into a foregone conclusion, you can expect the debates next August -- face to face and on television commercials -- to have some real bite. Right now, in front of Republican crowds, it makes no sense to be the one to take the first shot.

But by next summer this one should be fun to watch.

Everything you wanted to know about

Robin Vos but were afraid to ask

We told you Monday about Robin Vos, the Republican state rep from Burlington who was so modest he told everything about his personal tastes on a dating website but didn't reveal he was a legislator, saying he was "self-employed." Earlier post: "Sensitive legislator wants to meet skinny-dipping flirt with money, power."

Soon after that post went up, Vos' page mysteriously became unavailable on the website.

But never fear. Although we cannot recreate the page exactly as it existed, we have salvaged all of the data and photo, which we share with you now as a public service in case you want to warn your daughters about him.

His profile:

"Looking for someone to travel the world with me"

I am a:
37 yr old man

located in:
Burlington, Wisconsin, United States

looking for:
26 to 35-year old woman

within 50 miles of Burlington, Wisconsin, United States


my ethnicity:
White / Caucasian

body type:
About average

5’ 10” (177.8 cms)

sense of humor:
Friendly: I’ll laugh at anything

About me and who I'd like to date

I have been so fortunate during my life and now I just need someone to help me enjoy all that life has to offer. I like to consider myself intelligent and attractive, both mentally and physically. I have a close circle of friends and seem to make friends relatively easily. My spare time is spent doing a multitude of things. During the summer there's nothing that's better taking a long walk on the beach, going to the theater or movies, going out with friends, quiet nights at home, reading, biking and much more that I can not think of right at this moment.

I am registering here because I don't want to just meet people at the typical places and I figure there must be a lot of people like me who feel the same way. I am looking for someone who wants to have fun, meet new people, and is not afraid of saying how she feels. One of my favorite quotes ... "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." I try to live by this quote so I decided to take a chance and register here. Email me if you are likeminded.

She should love having all-night stimulating conversations, seeing plays/musicals/movies, enjoying a fabulous meal at an intriguing or quaint restaurant, traveling abroad or just going to the country for the weekend and staying at a cozy B&B or having picnics in the middle of the woods. I would love to meet a woman who loves the beauty of the fall and who is crazy about the Christmas Season. I love being spontaneous, so if we hit it off, don't be surprised if you receive a phone call telling you we're off and running for the weekend. I really enjoy making friends so it would be an honor to meet you and see what happens.


5’ 10” (177.8 cms)


Light brown

body type:
About average

body art:
Wouldn’t even think about it

best feature:


sense of humor:
Friendly: I’ll laugh at anything

sports and exercise:
Cycling, Running, Walking / Hiking, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Hockey

common interests:
Alumni connections, Business networking, Coffee and conversation, Cooking, Dining out, Hobbies and crafts, Museums and art, Music and concerts, Performing arts, Playing cards, Political interests, Shopping/Antiques, Travel/Sightseeing, Volunteering, Wine tasting


exercise habits:
Exercise occasionally

daily diet:
Meat and potatoes

No Way

Social drinker, maybe one or two


No Answer

my place:
Live alone

have kids:

want kids:

how many:

willing to adopt:


I have:
No Answer

I don't have, but like:
Dogs, Fish, Birds

I don't like:
No Answer


White / Caucasian

Christian / Catholic

Bachelors degree



About My Date

Auburn / Red, Black, Light brown, Dark brown, Blonde, Dark blonde

Blue, Brown, Grey, Green, Hazel, Black

3’ 1” (94.0 cms) to 5’ 9” (175.3 cms)

body type:
Slender, About average, Athletic and toned


White / Caucasian, Asian, Latino / Hispanic

Christian / Catholic, Christian / Protestant, Christian / Other, Christian / LDS, Spiritual but not religious, Other

Some college, Associates degree, Bachelors degree, Graduate degree, PhD / Post Doctoral



No Way, Occasionally

Non-alcoholic beverages only, Social drinker, maybe one or two


have kids:

want kids:

Long hair, Skinny dipping, Flirting, Public displays of affection, Dancing, Power, Money, Brainiacs, Boldness / Assertiveness, Erotica

No Answer

Move over McCarthy, here comes McBride

If this continues, we may have to call it McBrideism instead of McCarthyism.

Jessica McBride's latest complaint is that the media, in its news stories, calls Bush supporters conservatives but doesn't call Cindy Sheehan and anti-war protestors left-wing radical pinkos. Earlier, she had tried to link Sheehan to communist influences through Code Pink, one of many groups supporting Sheehan.

A sample piece of more recent guilt-by-association from McBride:

Left out of the piece? Sheehan is, in fact, buttressed by extreme Left-wing organizations such as Code Pink and the anti-Israel Crawford Peace House, among others. She has appeared in an anti-Bush television commercial created by PR guru David Fenton, a former photographer for the militant and violent Weathermen subversive organization. He also does PR for and a group of 9/11 families that harshly criticized Bush.

I've never heard of David Fenton, but I doubt that he pretends to be neutral when it comes to George Bush and the war in Iraq.

Is MoveOn now equivalent to the Weather Underground? If so, McBride and her conspiracy theory friends will be able to link all sorts of Dems to it.

Did you know that McBride once lived in Shorewood, which is right next to Whitefish Bay, which is the hometown of Bernadine Dohrn of the Weather Underground? Just wondering. Do you think there's a connection? Do I have to mention it every time I mention McBride?

Another Iraq veteran speaks

Here's another in a series of interviews with real live troops who have served in Iraq,in a report from AlterNet.

Part of the Q-A:

Did any soldiers express dissent or not agree with the reasons for the war once they were actively participating in the war?

We all bitched. The only ones who didn't were the Neocons.

Were you ever informed of an exit strategy while you were on active duty?

No. I am not sure my command is aware of the meaning behind the words "exit strategy"! Kidding, obviously.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sensitive legislator wants to meet

skinny-dipping flirt with money, power

Looking for an intelligent, attractive, spontaneous guy who likes taking a long walk on the beach, going to the theater or movies, going out with friends, quiet nights at home, reading, biking, traveling, having all-night stimulating conversations, seeing plays/musicals/movies, enjoying a fabulous meal at an intriguing or quaint restaurant, traveling abroad or just going to the country for the weekend and staying at a cozy B&B or having picnics in the middle of the woods?

Or are you exhausted just thinking about it?

His "turn-ons: Long hair, Skinny dipping, Flirting, Public displays of affection, Dancing, Power, Money, Brainiacs, Boldness/Assertiveness.

The blue-eyed, meat-and-potatoes conservative who posted his description on says he's self-employed. [UPDATE: He's taken down his listing, but you can find the content here.]

But, except for that discrepancy, he certainly seems like a dead ringer for State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, who announced last week that he is a single guy and that, "Saying I am against birth control is to say I am against water." His profile says he does want two children, though.

Happy hunting, Robin. Hope being outed as a legislator doesn't cramp your style.

No, 2005 is not 1968 -- or is it?

The time has come to choose sides again

Iraq is not Vietnam, and 2005 is not 1968.

That's the conventional wisdom. It's what we've been telling ourselves. But I'm less certain about that today than I was two weeks ago.

Something is happening in this country, and some of us have seen it before. An antiwar movement has been quietly building, showing up in the polls if not on the streets. And it is about to exert itself politically. Maybe, as Maureen Dowd suggests, there is "a cultural shift that is turning 2005 into 1968."

I remember 1968 very well as one of those defining moments when people had to choose sides. Recognizing that perhaps two-thirds of the people in the blogosphere were not born in 1968, it may be worth a little retrospective.

Historically, once the decision to go to war is made, this country usually unites behind its commander-in-chief, and even opponents of the war give him the benefit of the doubt, in the interest of presenting a united front, patriotism, and "supporting the troops."

But that "safe conduct" pass expires after a time. In this case, the revocation may come sooner than usual because we have learned that President Bush led us into war under false pretenses. He was determined to oust Saddam Hussein whether the facts warranted it or not.

So under cover of the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction he was just waiting to use, and that Saddam was somehow linked to Osama Bin Laden and the 9-11 attacks, Bush got his wish.

Now, two and a half years after "shock and awe" and 27 months after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished," the US finds itself bogged down in a war without a front, where substantial pockets of the population are hostile, and where the "host" country's own troops are woefully inadequate to provide its own security.

Parallels in LBJ's Vietnam and GWB's Iraq

President Lyndon Johnson went to war in Vietnam under false pretenses. After a questionable incident on the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, LBJ persuaded Congress to pass a resolution giving him more authority to wage the war, while offering assurances he had no intention to escalate a ground war. He promptly broke his promise, and in April 1965 the first Marines landed.

The public and the Congress gave LBJ his opportunity, just as they have given it to George W. Bush. But Johnson found himself in a war without a front, where substantial pockets of the population were hostile, and where the "host" country's troops could not provide security. Sound familiar?

Three years after those Marines landed, in April 1968, LBJ ended his reelection campaign the day before the Wisconsin primary. His other considerable accomplishments as President did not matter compared with his massive mistake in Vietnam.

LBJ's decision came after an embarrassing Democratic primary showing in New Hampshire, where Eugene McCarthy, a little-known Senator from Minnesota, got 40 per cent of the vote as an antiwar candidate. McCarthy's success got Bobby Kennedy into the race, and it got Johnson out. Kennedy was assassinated, Hubert Humphrey, LBJ's vice-president, beat McCarthy for the nomination, and Richard Nixon, with a secret plan to end the war, became president.

It took five more years, until 1973, for the last US troops to leave Vietnam. Another 20,000 members of the U.S. military were killed and 100,000 more wounded during that time.

Is Feingold the next Howard Dean or the next Gene McCarthy?

Tom Hayden, a Vietnam war activist who became a California state senator, asked this week whether Wisconsin's Sen. Russ Feingold is the next Howard Dean. Dean, of course, surged ahead in the Democratic presidential primary season last year because of his strident opposition to the Iraq war. Feingold is alone so far in calling for a defined target date of Dec. 31, 2006 to get US troops out of Iraq.

Perhaps a better question is whether Feingold is the next Eugene McCarthy. McCarthy was not in the antiwar vanguard with people like Wayne Morse, Ernest Gruening, Gaylord Nelson,Frank Church and George McGovern. But he was the one willing to run and make the case against a sitting president.

McCarthy did not win the White House, but he helped end the war. Feingold could end up with a similar result. If he does, it would be a great legacy. Sometimes it truly is better to be right than to be president -- although being both would be ideal.

Feingold hasn't said he's running for president in 2008 yet, but if he does he will start with a base who won't forget that he spoke up first. He has solid credentials on the issue, having voted against the war in the first place. None of the famous "voted for it before I voted against it" in his case.

I've never been a Feingold fanatic. Maybe it goes back to when I dismissed his chances of winning a Senate seat in 1988 and worked in the primary for one of the losers. I may not end up supporting him for president; he may not even run. But I am in Feingold's corner today.

Chicago 1968: A time to choose sides

In mid-1968, I had been back from Vietnam less than a year and was only three months out of the Marine Corps when I covered the Democratic convention in Chicago as a reporter. As the demonstrators on the streets said, the whole world really was watching,

I was still ambivalent about the war when I went to the convention -- and especially whether I, as a journalist, should come out against it -- but I wasn't ambivalent by the time it was over. It was a time when it was impossible to be neutral. The first Mayor Daley helped to radicalize me and crystallize my politics. It surprises me that Tom Hayden, who was tried as one of the Chicago Seven who organized those protests, would reference Howard Dean rather than Eugene McCarthy.

This country was already polarized last year, but Iraq -- although a key component --wasn't really what caused it. There were many other factors at work, too.

Now, it's about the war. It's about taking a stand. We are approaching another of those critical moments, like 1968, when you do have to choose sides.

Would-be presidential candidates who lollygag and mugwump on this issue do so at their own peril. This is no time to mince words.

Wanted: A candidate who will oppose the war

Armando caused a small uproar when he said on Daily Kos, the most-read liberal blog, speaking of "the Bidens, Clintons and Bayhs," that:
"We need to let them know that if they don't get on the right side of the Iraq debate, then we won't support their presidential ambitions."
I'm ready to say that right now. I will not support a presidential candidate who does not have a strong, clear position against the war and a plan to end US involvement there.

Clark, who will be in Madison on Tuesday, praises Feingold while saying he disagrees about setting a date for withdrawal. He writes in the Washington Post:

The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach -- or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.

Well and good. When should that be? How about a timetable, General?

Even when liberals were flocking to Clark last year I had trouble understanding the appeal. Maybe it's being an enlisted man, but it is highly unlikely I would be supporting a four-star general, for any public office.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of people in the US think the war was a mistake, another 61 per cent think we should get out within a year, and 37 per cent think we should pull our troops out right now, a recent poll says.

Feingold's position is perfectly reasonable and defensible. His detractors like to try to apply the knee-jerk "cut and run" description, but that's not what he's talking about. He's suggesting that we have a rational discussion and try to set a target date to leave Iraq, so that we are not there, as happened in Korea, 50 years from now.

Feingold links his position to a quest for more global security and a stronger focus on international terrorism, saying Iraq is a distraction that takes attention and resources away from the larger goal. Fifty per cent of Americans believe that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism, so he may be on to something.

The polls are already there. Action in the streets is beginning. Can the teach-ins on college campuses be far behind?

Cindy Sheehan's vigil and the 1600-plus observances, attended by hundreds of thousands across the country, to support her are just the first small indicators. In September, when Congress goes back into session, Washington will become the focal point of protests against the war. Feingold believes his Democratic colleagues will be "asking themselves how to do something against the war" in September.

They should waste no time. Remember that if 2005 truly equates to 1968, it could be five years -- 2010 -- before we get the last troops out. The American people will not accept that.

If President Bush means it when he says we will stay and fight in Iraq as long as he is president, there is only one thing that can prevent a Democratic victory in 2008. That is if the Democrats repeat their mistake of 1968 and nominate a candidate who is unwilling to run against the war.

Let's hope we at least learned that lesson.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Book 'em, Danno

Joel McNally confesses that he and his wife have signed confessions saying they may be committing premeditated murder, if the occasion arise. The Capital Times has the details.

Maureen Dowd: W has jumped the couch

Maureen Dowd introduces a new term -- jumping the couch, as in what Tom Cruise did on Oprah. W has jumped it big-time this week.

But the most telling line in her column is what I've been thinking all week about the way the tide is turning on the Iraq war.

Writing about a Crawford barbecue the President held for the press, she says: "W. chatted about sports and the twins, still oblivious to the cultural shift that is turning 2005 into 1968."

More on that later.

Political reporting 101: How big is the buy?

This story has been in my pending file for a couple of weeks, but is still instructive.

Between the Internet and 24/7 cable news, we are approaching the point where it won't be necessary to actually run any television commercials to get media coverage about them.

The example I've used is the group that wanted to discredit AARP, the American Assn. of Retired Persons, at the beginning of the Social Security debate. They simple made a spot that linked AARP to support for gay marriage, put it up on the Internet (I think for a day or less) and let the media take it from there.

Bingo! National coverage about the spot, everyone heard the message about AARP and gay marriages, and no one had to spend any money actually advertising on TV.

This story from New Hampshire brought that to mind. The Associated Press ran a story about a guy who was coming to the Granite State to campaign for Hillary Clinton for President, running TV spots, holding news conferences, and stirring up some positive talk about Hillary.

It seems no one asked the basic question: How big is the buy? The answer, it turned out, was $264, to buy spots on one cable system.

Meanwhile, Hillary's opponents, who announced a campaign to Stop Her Now, aren't faring too well, either. This report says the group, which said it would raise $10-million to defeat Clinton in her Senate reelection bid and kill her White House chances, had raised $12,000 -- and spent $27,000.

Bush writes a note to Cindy Sheehan

It's just come to light, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, that President Bush didn't ignore Cindy Sheehan after all. The White House has coughed up a personal note he wrote her a couple of weeks ago, in which he shared his feelings. Read it here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Quote, unquote

It seemed so ridiculous, all these people in such a rage, arranging over-the-top counter-protests and bringing out an army of motorcyclists all to bear down on a group of floppy-hatted, middle-aged women in matching pink shirts. But the more people who turned out to protect George Bush from having to answer Cindy Sheehan's questions, the more ridiculous he looked -- it's hard to maintain the manly man cowboy image when you cower in fear behind a group of bullies who stoop to attacking the character of a bereaved mother.

--Amanda Marcotte, after a visit to Crawford, Texas and Camp Casey, in a piece on AlterNet.

Liberals are so intolerant?

Yah, and so's your old lady

This from Mark Morford, SF Gate columnist. As the person said who sent this to me, "This is highly entertaining, but it's clear that ol' Mark doesn't get out of the Bay Area very often."


I get this a lot: Hey Mark, you nefarious and perverted liberal commie tofu-hugging sex-drunk San Francisco medical experiment gone wrong from the land of fruits and nuts (or some iteration thereof -- so cute, my hate mail can be), hey, I notice you love to ridicule those creepy Christian megachurches and you enjoy spanking wide-eyed Mormons and tweaking the litigious nipples of the cult of Scientology and you recoil from toxic Bush policy like a vegetarian recoils from undercooked veal ...

And I can tell you think Dick Cheney is pretty much the devil in a defibrillator and that America is so desperately on the wrong track it might as well be North Korea, and you clearly tend to wince in savage karmic pain when looking down the rusty barrel of a welfare-happy red state and I just have one slightly nasty and pointed and cliched question for you --

Here it is: Where is your supposed progressive openness? Your liberal generosity of spirit? I thought you Lefties were all mushy and passive and live-and-let-live?

In other words, where is that famous so-called tolerance I thought all you libs were supposed to possess like some sort of gentle polyamorous smiling hug for the world?

To which I reply: You cannot be serious. Does the answer really need to be articulated? Is it not painfully obvious? Can I have a shot of Patrón and a long nap before I answer? Here goes ...

You, hate-mailers from the sanctimonious Right and even some of you morally paralyzed middle-grounders from the Left, are correct. I am, in fact, deeply intolerant. It is true. I can hide my deep biases and predispositions no longer.

I cannot, for example, tolerate the dark and violent road down which this nation seems intent on careening like an Escalade on meth. I cannot tolerate brutal never-ending unnecessary wars and I cannot allow gay rights to be bashed and I truly loathe watching women's rights be slammed back to 1952. Or 1852.

I really have little patience for the gutting of our school system and the decimation of science and mysticism and the human mind for the sake of a handful of militant Christian zealots who truly believe the Second Coming will be arriving really soon but hopefully not before the next episode of HBO's "Cathouse: The Series," which they watch in secret with the lights off while clutching a Bible in one hand and a big tub of Country Crock margarine in the other.

I cannot tolerate an American president, ostensibly meant to be one of the most articulate and intellectually sophisticated leaders on the planet, mumbling his semicoherent support of the embarrassing nontheory of "Intelligent Design," to the detriment of about 300 years of confirmed science and 10 million years of common sense to the point where America's armies of dumbed-down Ritalin-drunk children look at him and sigh and secretly wish they could have a future devoid of such imbecilic thought but who realize, deep down, they are merely another doomed and fraught generation who will face an increasingly steep uphill battle, who will actually have to fight for fact and intellectual growth and spiritual progress against a rising tide of ignorance and religious hegemony and sanitized revisionist textbooks that insult their understanding and sucker punch their sexuality and bleed their minds dry.

I have surpassed my allowable limit for how much environmental devastation I can willingly swallow or how many billion-dollar tax subsidies our cowardly CEO president gives his cronies in Big Energy while doing nothing to ease our gluttony for foreign oil, all the while trying to tell us how many undereducated misguided American teenage soldiers we have to sacrifice at the bloody altar of oil and empire before we can call ourselves king of the bone pile again.

But I am perhaps most intolerant, not of Christians per se, not of faith, certainly not of radiant self-defined spirituality, not even of organized religion, though I do fully believe more independent spirits and raw human souls and moist sexual licks have been lost to its often narrow-minded and cosmically rigid brainwashing techniques than have ever been saved. But hey, that's just me.

I am most intolerant of, well, of those who allow such intolerance. Of those who would, based on their narrow views of sex, God, love, hope, war, the mind, the Earth, soil and animals and air and water and fire and love and spirit and drugs and guns and dildos, work to legislate those neoconservative beliefs, codify them, make them the law of the land, force their regressive beliefs on everyone else under punishment of violence and beatings and prison. I am, in short, intolerant of intolerance.

Oh, let us be clear. I love diversity, religious pluralism, peace and love and pacifism and good drugs and open-mouthed sensuality, happy to let you believe in any god you like and marry any gender you like and let you love how you will and be in full control of your sex and your body and your mind.

This, to me, is the America worth fighting for. These are the laws I support. Don't believe in abortion? Don't understand gay people? Sexuality make you rashy? Think Harry Potter teaches kids evil and witchcraft? Don't marry a sexy gay witch abortionist. But don't you dare, based on your limited understanding of God and life, make laws declaring that I can't.

But maybe this is the problem, especially here in San Francisco, the World Headquarters of Tolerance, where liberals tend to be so PC and open-minded they merely sigh and shrug when our government and half of the nation move to outlaw everything they stand for, when they openly loathe human rights and try to codify homophobia in the U.S. Constitution and slowly annihilate Roe v. Wade and treat any display of resistance or questioning of the norm the way a dog treats a fire hydrant.

Enough. Basta. Let's refashion the old, stagnant definition of tolerance and make it less about merely enduring, merely putting up with the existence of other narrow-minded beliefs no matter how devastating and embarrassing they obviously are to the nation's health.

Rather, let's flip that sucker over and baste it with raw goat butter and sear it on the open flames of divine justice and bliss and intellectual fire and white-hot orgasm and burn it new.

Let us take the rather flaccid word tolerance and pump it full of Ecstasy and medical marijuana and sake and real divine love and fancy book learnin', turn it on its head and spin it like a bottle and reclaim it from the neocon Right and turn it into, say, giddy outrage. Or radical reconsideration. Or ecstatic rebellion. Or wet conscious electric pointed awareness. Is this not a better way?

Let us explode those dead meanings, correct the mistaken neocon dictionary. Let us hurl that dying and mealy and abused term back at their powerful and often bigoted scowl. Here is your weak, ineffectual tolerance. We cannot swallow it anymore. In fact, we are choking on it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Cut and Run Russ?" Who says?

This story from the Green Bay Press Gazette raises some questions:

Feingold keeps up heat on Iraq policy
Not all colleagues joining his call to pull out troops by ’07

By Brian Tumulty
Press-Gazette Washington bureau

WASHINGTON — Although critics are labeling him as “cut-and-run Russ,” Sen. Russ Feingold says he’s getting a favorable response to his call a week ago for a complete pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2006.

“I’m extremely enthusiastic about the very strong positive response from people who are very grateful that somebody said something other than the slogans we are getting from the president,” the Wisconsin Democrat said.

As for how his plan has been cast by critics, Feingold said, “It’s different from just cut and run. It’s an attempt to create a plan and a time frame to finish the job and bring the troops home. It’s the people who are defensive about this, who realize the president is not doing a very good job, and are trying to spin what I am saying in a way that is simply inaccurate.”

No other member of Congress has joined Feingold in setting the end of next year for a full troop pullout, although a small number — including Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee — are advocating a start of the pullout by October 2006. Three other Wisconsin lawmakers interviewed this week indicated they aren’t ready to join their colleagues.

“When you set calendar dates, you send a signal to the enemy that they have to wait only so many months,” U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Hobart, said Thursday. Feingold holds a minority view, said Green, pointing out that 118 House members have joined the Victory in Iraq Caucus he co-founded.

But Green distanced himself from other critics who have labeled Feingold as “cut and run Russ,” saying the senator is a principled person who happens to be wrong on Iraq policy.
The article refers to 'critics' who have labeled Feingold “cut-and-run Russ,” but it never says who they are or that they spoke on background or asked for anonymity.

In fact Green 'distances' himself from these 'critics' yet we have no idea who they are. If the article is going to lead with a reference to 'critics' with a quote shouldn't we at least know who they are or that they didn't want anyone to know who they are? Or that they aren't Mark Green's staffers, off the record?

Growing numbers against Iraq war;

87% support people's right to protest

This is an amazing number: Eighty-seven per cent of people surveyed in an AP-Ipsos poll (results) say they support the right of critics of the Iraq war to protect US policies.

The poll found that only 37% approve of the way Bush is handling the war, 53% think the war is a mistake, and 47% think it has increased the threat of terrorism. Sixty per cent say US troops should stay until the situation is "stablized, but 37% would bring them home right now.

So the American people really do understand that it's OK to criticize the government. That doesn't mean, of course, that they won't call you everything in the book and suggest that you are a disloyal, unpatriotic Communist dupe (see some of the comments on this blog, for example). That, of course, is their right, although it doesn't seem too productive.

Rep. Mark Green, meanwhile, continues to tout the fact that 118 members of Congress (out of 535) have joined his "Victory in Iraq" caucus as proof that Sen. Russ Feingold, who wants to set a target date to get out of Iraq, is in the minority.

That number has been at 118 and holding for a long time, and considering that Green's group presents itself as a "support our troops" caucus, it's surprising every member of Congress doesn't belong.

The tide is turning. As someone said, the times they are a-changing. And Mark Green will be one of the last to figure it out.

One idea to prevent confusion

Letter to the Business Journal:

Avoid confusion on health care proposals

Your Aug. 5 edition carried a Guest Comment by state Rep. Jon Richards on the Wisconsin Health Plan. This plan was developed by David Riemer, former budget director for Gov. Jim Doyle, and supported by Richards and Rep. Curt Gielow. Your headline was "Wisconsin Health Care Plan has bipartisan support."

The problem here is that "Wisconsin Health Care Plan" is the title used for some three years for the comprehensive plan being developed by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and a number of major corporations in Wisconsin -- a plan quite different from the one described in the Richards' op-ed.

While the Riemer/Richards/Gielow proposal has a number of excellent components (some quite similar to elements of our plan), we feel our plan -- to be publicly proposed later this fall -- will be much simpler and less expensive. We expect it also will have significant bi-partisan support.

--David Newby, President, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Hey, here's an idea. Since the AFL-CIO plan hasn't been publicly proposed yet, how about calling it something else? Or is that too obvious?

From Working for Change. Click on cartoon to enlarge.

An Iraq veteran speaks

Mark Green uses an e-mail from one soldier in Iraq to support his case for Victory in Iraq, whatever that means, since no one has defined our mission or how we would measure victory.

There are lots of service people who have served there, with lots of different viewpoints.

Here's an interview with another, Kelly Dougherty, who is working to stop the war.

Do-Not-Recruit list comes to Milwaukee

The Do-Not-Recruit List, which prevents high schools from giving contact information on students to military recruiters, has come to Milwaukee.

Parents have always had the right to ask that their junior and senior sons and daughters be taken off the list, which schools must supply to recruiters as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. But until recently that provision was unpublicized.

Now parents not only have that option, but will know they have it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pro-Life Wisconsin says:

'We have really taken a pasting'

This exchange posted on DailyKos blog:

E-mail to Pro-Life Wisconsin

Dear Sir/Madam --

I read with dismay your recent press release regarding the death of Marine Staff Sgt. Chad Simon. Given your obvious grief over his passing and compassion for his family's loss, and in light of his great sacrifice to our nation, I was wondering what you did in the days leading up to his death in an attempt to save his life.

I anxiously await your reply. Thank you very much.


Here is the response that I received from the hate group:

Dear Matt,

Thanks for contacting us. To be honest, we had been contacted by certain members of SSgt. Simon's family who were alarmed that he might have his feeding/hydration tube removed. There was not much to be done, however, as the courts had already decided his fate. It is still unclear what exactly was in SSgt. Simon's living will document and exactly what his wishes were.

As for our press release, it has been greatly distorted. We put out a release that mentioned SSgt. Simon as an example of why ethical end of life directives are important. We perhaps were a little too aggressive in pointing out that SSgt. Simon did not die from the wounds he so valiantly received on the battle field, but instead died after having his feeding tube intentionally removed. His family was not mentioned, nor was the hospice center where he received care. [Do you think saying he was murdered might have been a little aggressive? The release did mention hospice care, and was rewritten after HospiceCare threatened a lawsuit. -- Xoff]

The sad fact of the matter is that while the press continues to play games around this issue, we have service men in Iraq who have signed end of life directives that may be used against them if they are incapacitated. People don't usually think about these issues and it is very easy to check a box without giving due thought to the intrinsic value of even a severely injured Marine. The press, however, will be the press. [Here's the release; Read it yourself.]

I hope I answered a few of your questions. I can understand why you were alarmed after reading some of the press stories around this issue. We have really taken a pasting. [Nowhere near what you deserve, but we'll keep working on it.]

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Marc Tuttle
Communications Director, Pro-Life Wisconsin
(262) 796-1111

One of several previous posts here on the subject.

Opening the floodgates

The Journal Sentinel, in an editorial on Great Lakes water usage, wisely suggests that there is more at stake, in considering Waukesha's request for water from Lake Michigan, than Milwaukee's desire to be a good neighbor.

The danger is that if we allow that camel to poke its nose into the tent, it will drink all of the water in sight. As the newspaper puts it:

But beyond the science, our concern is about precedent. Giving Waukesha what it wants would have negligible effect on Lake Michigan. But it would not be the only community wanting the water, and once that magic barrier is broken, who's next. Madison? Chicago suburbs? Cities in the Great Plains and beyond?

All the more reason to go slow -- and not be afraid to say no, if that is the appropriate answer when all is said and done.

Speaking of Waukesha and water, Jim Rowen wonders if there's something in the water there that makes Waukesha politics so interesting.

Dolly Parton latest to join musicians

against the war? She says no, but ...

The musical lineup at Camp Casey has almost been enough by itself to make you want to go to Crawford, clear some brush, ride a bike, or protest the war.

Marcia Ball last Friday, James McMurtry and Steve Earle on Saturday, Joan Baez on Sunday.

If I hear Dylan's on the way, so am I. But that seems unlikely.

I don't think Dolly Parton will show, either, despite some speculation on Salon that Dolly is anti-war. To wit:

NEW YORK -- As goes Dolly, so goes the South?

Call me crazy, but at a Meadowlands concert last November, it had crossed my mind that Dolly Parton -- proud fake flower of the South -- might have been flirting with quasi-political statement. In the midst of her half-dozen costume changes, flashing lights, waving American flags and medley of greatest hits, she had paused to talk about her memories of the 1960s before launching into treacly and overproduced versions of Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee" and John Lennon's "Imagine." I can't explain it, but it felt significant at the time -- intentional, pointed. Then again, in those weeks, it felt like weather forecasts and movie listings were telegraphing coded messages of post-election woe.

But on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, it seemed that maybe I had been on to something in November. Parton performed in New York on the second stop of her "Vintage" tour to promote the October release of "Those Were the Days," an album of covers from the 1960s and 1970s, including songs by Lennon, Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, Judy Collins and Bob Dylan.

By comparison with last fall, the show was practically Spartan: no costume changes, no medleys, not so many spotlight pyrotechnics . . . Sure, she was clad in a dress of many rhinestones, and there were the requisite boob jokes. But there were also the reminiscences about her good friend Jane Fonda. And her well-worn memories of a poor upbringing in Tennessee, how her "mama always had one [baby] on her and one in her," were accompanied on Thursday by an unfamiliar nostalgia for "the old hippie days" of the 1960s.

About an hour into the show, Parton picked up a guitar that looked like it had lost a fierce battle with a Bedazzler and began to talk in earnest about that old-time activism. "I didn't necessarily agree with all the politics of that time," she said, "but I think a lot of the things they were talking about -- like peace and freedom -- are about as American as apple pie." She then performed the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn."

And she wasn't done. Barely pausing for breath, she moved to Dylan, talking about how important it was that he had sung songs that had mattered to the country. She'd recently been listening to his antiwar classic "Blowin' in the Wind," she said, and had thought, "Well this song is about what's going on right now! I've got to record this."

Parton's live cover of "Blowin' in the Wind" should probably have been cringe-inducing, but it wasn't. Stripped down to Parton's powerful pipes and a guitar, it worked. And she definitely enunciated particular verses, especially the questions "How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? And how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?" Parton, who had perfect silence for the first half of the song, finished it to a massive standing ovation from the New York crowd. And however unlikely the messenger, it was almost impossible to imagine the lyrics being about anything other than a direct message to George W. Bush.

Parton's final protest song was "Imagine," which she prefaced by wishing that John Lennon had lived to see whether we would ever have peace. "I don't know that we ever will have it," she said with a casual laugh, "'cause we seem to like to fight a lot, I guess. But I still think it's something we can hope for and that we should hope for." The cover was much better than it had been in November, and she asked the audience to sing along to the song's final plea that "the world will live as one." I had really cheap seats, but I'm pretty sure she flashed a peace sign.

Parton, 59, will probably never appear on a "Vote for Change" lineup; she cannot afford to go all Dixie Chicks on her red-state fan base. And her performance Thursday didn't necessarily convince me that she would want to. A longtime interpreter of Scottish folk, bluegrass and mountain music, Parton may just have turned her attention to a more recent genre of grass-roots melody. But it's pretty telling timing, and Parton is a very, very smart woman.-- By Rebecca Traister
Just for the record, Dolly says in an AP story that she is not being political:

With so many of the songs associated with the anti-war movement of the '60s, she worried people might get the wrong idea.

"I'm certainly not into any kind of political thing or protest. People who know me will know I've chosen these songs to really kind of uplift and to give hope, like they were written for at the time," she says.

Still, she says the songs speak to the times - both then and now - and she didn't want to shy away from them.

"I just felt it was good time to bring a lot of these songs back," she says. "We don't want to be at war, but of course we have to fight if we have to. We don't want to lose our children in war, but of course we do. So we write about it and sing about it, and it kind of helps us relieve our grief and express ourselves."
But she is, as Salon notes, a very smart woman.

"Pro-life' outrage gets some notice

The outrageous behavior of Pro-Life Wisconsin, which accused a grieving widow and HospiceaCare of murder for following the wishes of a critically wounded Marine and allowing him to die, has still gotten scant notice in the media.

It is getting some attention today on the best-read blog in the country, DailyKos, and in an article by yours truly in this week's Shepherd Express.

Earlier post.

1960s here we come: American

Legion declares war on protestors

Editor and Publisher reports:

American Legion Declares War on Protestors -- Media Next?
NEW YORK The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

'We will stay, we will fight, we will vacation'

"An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations," he said. "So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror." -- President Bush.

So there you have it. How long will Americans continue to fight and die in Iraq? As long as George Bush is president.

Not sure where he gets the "we" part. It would be more accurate to say, as he did the other day, that "So long as I'm the president, I will have lunch with Secretary of State Rice, talk a little busines; Mrs. Bush, talk a little business; we've got a friend from South Texas here, named Katharine Armstrong; take a little nap. I'm reading an Elmore Leonard book right now, knock off a little Elmore Leonard this afternoon; go fishing with my man, Barney; a light dinner and head to the ballgame. I get to bed about 9:30 p.m., wake up about 5 a.m., so it's a perfect day."

Wonder who it is, exactly, that is calling for "an immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq." Apparently it's not his man Barney or Katharine Armstrong, and we sure as hell know it's not Secretary Rice.

Walker needs a mandate to do the right thing

Here's an interesting twist:

Scott Walker, Milwaukee county exec, is on the verge of proposing cuts in a county program that provides health care to the poor. No surprise there; people on the bottom have always been the target of Walker budget cuts.

But look at his rationale, in today's story:

Walker looks at cuts in health care for poor
County financial squeeze cited in considering action


Seven years after Milwaukee County committed to serving the uninsured after closing Doyne Hospital, County Executive Scott Walker is contemplating major cuts in - or elimination of - the county's health care program for the poor, which served 29,000 residents last year.

Walker said the county's ongoing budget squeeze and the fact that no state law mandates the safety-net General Assistance Medical Program explains his consideration of reducing the county's $13.7 million tax-levy support by $1 million to $5 million, or phasing it out entirely.

So Scott Walker, who complains bitterly about state mandates on county government, admits that he's someone who needs a state mandate to get him to do the right thing.

Let's file this under Suspicions Confirmed.

Quote, unquote

" 'It pains me to hear that more people should die because those people have died. That makes no sense. We can honor them by having an intelligent, honest policy."

--Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, a co-founder of the antiwar group Gold Star Families for Peace and the mother of a son who died in Iraq, responding to President Bush's statement that the US would honor the dead by continuing the war in Iraq.

A remarkable Republican rant

Just when you think that maybe you've been unfair to characterize Wisconsin Republicans as uncaring Neanderthals, along comes Gary Arneson, chair of the Republican Party in the 3rd Congressional District, represented by Democrat Ron Kind.

Arneson, the Tomah Journal reports, had this to say on Kind observing the 70th anniversary of Social Security:

"Ron Kind can celebrate the Socialist Ponzi scheme, house of cards, band-aid of the great depression if he wants to but now it's a tourniquet on our future. If it works, why is he pushing 401k's to supplement Social Security? It's because of the paltry 1.9 percent return on your investment. He wants you to continue to pay your FICA taxes into a system that everyone knows is going bust and then save for retirement again with a 401k plan. Kind is a tax and spend liberal who wants to keep FICA taxes going to Washington so he can spend it and keep people dependent on government."

Thanks for sharing.

Gary Hart: Who has courage to say "No more?"

Former Sen. Gary Hart challenges Democrats to speak out on Iraq, in a Washington Post op ed.

George McGovern's 1972 campaign, which Hart managed, suffered a crushing defeat, for a variety of reasons -- but not because of his principled stand against the Vietnam War. Sen. Russ Feingold, whose call for a target date for withdrawal is actually pretty moderate, is on the cutting edge of the Democratic Party on the issue, virtually all alone. Right now, the answer to the question Hart poses below is Russ Feingold.

From Hart's column:

No Democrat, especially one now silent, should expect election by default. The public trust must be earned, and speaking clearly, candidly and forcefully now about the mess in Iraq is the place to begin.

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

Sheehan, families speak for themselves

The Washington Post reports:

BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 23 -- President Bush, confronted by antiwar protesters on his travels, Tuesday renewed his refusal to meet with high-profile activist Cindy Sheehan, asserting that she does not speak for the majority of families who have lost relatives in combat.

I don't recall Cindy Sheehan ever claiming to speak for anyone but herself.

"I want one answer," Sheehan said: "What is the 'noble cause' MY son died for? There are also dozens, if not hundreds of families from all over the country who want to know the same thing."
Others are beginning to speak for themselves, too. Back to the Post:
"President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last ight," said Laura McCarthy, whose son is in Iraq, as she addressed 100 people at the Boise protest. "But no matter where he goes, he's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The name is going to be different, but the message is going to be the same."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mob scene at Mark Green event

Mark Green's newsletter says this Photo of the Week was taken at "the largest "Meet Mark" reception we've had yet," at Robinson Park in Wisconsin Rapids. Mark had 'em mesmerized, it would appear.

Hold page one!

Can you believe it? Scott Walker got called for jury duty, just like a normal person.

Of course, that warranted a press release.

Multi-media conglomerate at work

What on earth is going on? I was just in the car and heard Charlie Sykes, the Republican radio talker on WTMJ, spend several minutes promoting his blog and all of the great items he has posted there.

Is readership down?

F. Jim reviewed by Rolling Stone -- no stars

This from a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi, entitled, "Four amendments and a funeral: A month inside the house of horrors that is Congress."

This is the longest section on Sensenbrenner, but there's more.

Sensenbrenner is your basic Fat Evil Prick, perfectly cast as a dictatorial committee chairman: He has the requisite moist-with-sweat pink neck, the dour expression, the penchant for pointless bile and vengefulness. Only a month before, on June 10th, Sensenbrenner suddenly decided he'd heard enough during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the Patriot Act and went completely Tasmanian devil on a group of Democratic witnesses who had come to share stories of abuses at places like GuantanamoBay. Apparently not wanting to hear any of that stuff, Sensenbrenner got up midmeeting and killed the lights, turned off the microphones and shut down the C-Span feed, before marching his fellow Republicans out of the room -- leaving the Democrats and their witnesses in the dark.
Hat tip to EyeOnWisconsin.

When it comes to employment policies,

Suder brings experience to the table

So there will be an audit of University of Wisconsin employment practices, done at the request of the UW president by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau. Well and good.

"I want the people of Wisconsin to have every confidence that their public university system respects and properly invests in the employees who serve UW students, campuses and communities," President Kevin Reilly said. "A review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau would reassure the public and strengthen actions that the Board of Regents, the chancellors, and I will take following our own thorough look at employment policies and practices."

He acted after a pack of howling Republican legislators, getting a whiff of some political raw meat, pressed the UW to disclose how many felons it has on its payroll. That came after revelations that at least three convicted felons still are being paid by UW.

Republican legislators haven't had so much fun beating up the university since the 60s and 70s, when they were all wrought up about anti-war, anti-American students and faculty members exercising free speech and academic freedom. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to stamp out either one.

The UW has had a streak of bad performances recently when it comes to PR, and has mishandled enough things to put itself in a bad light with the public, without any help from the GOP.

But when Republicans go after UW, it's not because of its billing as the top party school in the country. It's because it's full of liberal pointy-headed liberal professors, as George Wallace used to say.

One interesting note was that State Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) was leading the pack of rabid Repubs howling for felons to be outed and, presumably, dismissed.

Suder's repeated calls for investigations of UW employment practices reminded some Capitol watchers that he's certainly someone who knows firsthand about unsavory employment practices.

Suder, a longtime Capitol legislative aide, was elected to the Assembly in November 1998. But he didn't take office until January. Two months without a paycheck. What to do?

Enter Speaker Scott Jensen (R-Still Not Convicted), whose office found Suder a cushy spot on the legislative payroll, "working" for two legislators who didn't even know Suder was on their payroll.

Suder couldn't remember exactly what he did, either, when asked by the Wisconsin State Journal.

The newspaper reported:
According to documents from the chief clerk's office, Suder received $4,609.16 in November and December 1998 from the offices of former lawmakers Robert Zukowski and Clifford Otte, even though he didn't work for either one that year.

When asked about the work he did in late 1998, Suder said he couldn't remember anything specific.

"I did mostly grunt work, special projects that related to the Legislature," Suder said. "I can't give you a particular project. There were a lot of things we did."

Asked what he meant by "grunt work," Suder said he couldn't think of anything specific.

Suder also initially said he couldn't recall where he'd worked at the Capitol, but later in the interview he said he worked at his home and at Jensen's office. However, Suder said he couldn't remember how much time he spent in either place.

"At various times I worked in the speaker's office, at various times at home, which I'm allowed to do," Suder said. "I can't tell you what I did on a daily basis."
With that background, it's a little harder to take Suder seriously when he says things like: "The UW's employment and dismissal policies need serious reform and their most recent actions are forcing the Legislature to intervene."

Who better to intervene? Maybe Jensen could help write personnel handbook.

On another note, it was ironic for Suder, who has sought to cut university funding, to criticize UW Pres Reilly when he said it would be costly, labor-intensive and time-consuming for UW to run a check on all employees to see if they had any felony records. It would be cost-prohibitive, Reilly said, prompting howls from Suder and the wolf pack.

Kevin at Lakeshore Laments blog first ridiculed Reilly and UW Regent President David Walsh, suggesting that the UW could just use the state court data base, called CCAP, to run a check. But someone must have told him that university professors are a little more mobile and haven't spent their entire lives in Wisconsin, so he rewrote the item to suggest that maybe all 50 states have similar systems. Right. Maybe Kevin could just get a list of UW workers and put their names in himself, or get a few other Republican bloggers to help.

CORRECTION: Sometimes when I read more than one right-wing blog at the same sitting it addles my poor little liberal brain. Kevin did not rewrite his post. It was Dad29, expanding on Kevin's piece, who took it farther and made it sound as though the CCAP data base was the answer. I lament that mistake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Editorial: State GOP should apologize

As if the gargantuan mess that was last November's election in Milwaukee wasn't bad enough, the Wisconsin Republican Party has been painting it as even more dire than it actually was. This campaign of hype crossed the line of decency two weeks ago, however, when it sullied the reputation of an innocent person, who now deserves an apology. -- Journal Sentinel editorial.

Yesterday's post,"Republican charges untrue, but they go right on making them."

Cue up the slime machine!

Cue up slime machine!

101st Fighting Keyboardists and chickenhawks. Great job defending our great nation against treasonous war heroes like Sens. Hagel and Kerry, and the families of war dead who refuse to thank Dear Leader for killing off their wives, husbands, and children. But the enemies of America won't rest.

Here's your next mission if you choose to accept:

Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

You know what to do. Get to it. --DailyKos.

What we are fighting for

Now the President has told us why he will ask more men and women to die in Iraq:

Bush said the nation has "lost 1,864 members of our armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan.

"We owe them something," he said at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for. We will honor their sacrifice by staying on the offensive against the terrorists and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us win and fight -- fight and win the war on terror."
We stay because others have died there, and we honor them by giving more lives.

Isn't that what they tell suicide bombers?

And a couple of other questions:

What exactly is our mission now, and how will we know when we are finished?

If we send more to die now so that the 2,000 already lost will not have died in vain, don't we owe the same thing to the next casualties? When does it end?

Who will be the last one to die for this mistake?

Perhaps a little more research is in order

How embarrassing is this for a legislator being touted as one of the Republicans' rising stars?

State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, is the co-sponsor of a bill, AB-285, that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if they have moral objections. The so-called "pharmacists' conscience clause" could allow them to refuse to dispense so-called "morning-after pills" but also birth control pills.

Planned Parenthood Advocates has started an online ad campaign to point out his views to his constituents.

And Vos responds by saying he doesn't really know what that bill does, but will listen at a public hearing and then decide whether he supports it. His local newspaper reports:

Vos said a public hearing next month on the proposed bill, of which he is a sponsor, will help him decide whether the bill would damage a woman's right to get her birth control and if he will continue to support it.

"I would like to wait for the public hearing in September to see what the bill would do," said Vos, who was not immediately familiar with the bill and its objective.
Normally, that is something you'd do before you agree to be a sponsor.

Racine Journal Times story.

By popular demand (two people), here is one more quote from the story:
Vos says the group has mistaken his take on birth control. "I'm a single guy," he said. "To say I am against birth control is to say I am against water."

Republican fraud charges untrue,

but they keep right on making them

So there stands Republican Chairman Rick Graber, egg on his face, vowing to keep ordering more eggs.

After pulling off a major case of fraud on Milwaukee media, holding a news conference which offered no facts and, it turns out, nine false claims of voter fraud, Graber & Co. say they plan to keep right on with their campaign to make the rest of the state think there is something rotten in Milwaukee.

From their perspective, what's rotten in Milwaukee is that there are too many Democrats there every time we hold an election. So the GOP has set out to find ways to keep as many of them as possible away from the polls. Their favorite idea is to require photo ID cards, despite clear indications it would disenfranchise many of the poor, elderly and minorities -- all of whom vote disproportionately Democratic in Milwaukee.

It was in support of photo IDs that Graber, State Rep. Jeff Stone and State Sen. Joe Leibham held a news conference, in front of the home of a family that turned out to be totally innocent of any voter fraud.

The GOP said it was turning over "evidence" of nine cases of double voting to the US attorney, another Republican appointed by George w. Bush. (They didn't mention that they had previously turned over 49 other cases, of which 48 proved to be unfounded.)

The Republican prosecutor, Steven Biskupic, investigated and announced that there was not a single case of fraud or of double voting among the nine new cases the GOP sent him. Biskupic's letter.

The newspaper story:

In a letter issued Monday, Biskupic's office outlines what it found in each of the nine cases.

Six of the names were incorrectly included in the city Election Commission's database of Nov. 2 voters because of clerical errors. For instance, names were not recorded correctly in polling place logbooks. Or the wrong name was recorded when names from the books were later scanned into a computer.

In the other three cases, the letter says, the individuals voted only in Milwaukee. For instance, someone with a similar name but different birth date voted in the other city.

The letter underscores the level of recordkeeping problems in the Election Commission office. During its investigation, the newspaper found hundreds of cases where people were listed in the database as voting twice, something city officials blamed on a computer glitch. The newspaper also found dozens of cases where the number of voters recorded in logbooks was different from the votes counted in the precinct.

"These raised a flag with us because of everything that has gone on over there," said Rick Wiley, executive director of the state Republican Party. "We're going to continue our investigation into what we consider a mess over there."

Wiley said the party last week sent 10 more names of potential double voters to investigators. He also said before holding its news conference, the party had sent 49 cases of potential double voting within the city of Milwaukee to investigators. Of those, Wiley said, investigators had indicated 48 of the cases were not cases of fraud, while the other is being looked at as a fraudulent vote.

"The governor continues to blame this on clerical errors," Wiley said. "But the investigation has made it clear. People have been charged with voting fraudulently in this election."

There is a mess in Milwaukee's election system. All sorts of efforts are underway to fix it. But it is the US attorney -- not the governor -- who says clerical errors were to blame in these false charges, brought by the GOP, of double voting.

And, yes, a small number of people have been charged, after thousands of hours of investigations, which are continuing. The GOP's batting record seems to be 1 for 58 on double voting charges. Back to the minors, wouldn't you say?

In the last presidential election, 277,535 people voted in the city of Milwaukee. The massive turned created all sorts of problems, most of them clerical and record-keeping problems.

The Journal Sentinel, which has written volumes about problems in Milwaukee's voting system in the presidential election, continues to write as though there is some kind of massive fraud involved.

What are the results of the investigation so far? Fourteen people charged, including 10 felons who should not have voted. None of these 14 cases have anything to do with photo IDs.

The paper reports:

So far, 10 felons have been charged with voting illegally. Two others have been charged with double voting. In addition to those federal cases, two were charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with falsifying voter registration cards. None of the cases has gone to trial.

"There still is no evidence of a widespread conspiracy," Biskupic said. "But there still is plenty of evidence of double voting and the like."

Based on that, and one other comment from Biskupic, the paper was able to write a headline that said:

Nothing points to fraud in 9 double voting cases;
But U.S. attorney expects other charges in election investigation

With the amount of investigating going on, there no doubt will be more charges. How many? Fourteen more? Four more? Forty more? There will not be massive numbers, and there will be no charges of any kind of organized voter fraud. It simply isn't there.

But it serves the Republicans to keep beating that dying horse. They'll never admit they lost Wisconsin to John Kerry last year; it had to be fraud, they say.

We're still waiting for that evidence, and no avalanche of news releases and press conferences will cover up the fact that there isn't any such evidence.

While we're giving out demerits, Mark Green should get in line. Here's what he had to say when Graber held his news conference to make his false charges:

In yet another shot to the core of our democratic system of government, the Republican Party of Wisconsin revealed late this afternoon that they have found a number of additional cases of apparent double voting in last Fall's election -- including people who voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin. Read more here.

These latest revelations are another black eye for Milwaukee, Wisconsin and further proof that we need a wholesale reform of our election laws -- including requiring voters to show photo identification before they vote.
Actually, Congressman Green, they are another black eye for the Republican Party, which needs to clean up its act.