Poster from WhiteHouse.org
All this talk about drivers' licenses and photo IDs got me to wondering: How secure is your driver's license info and photo? Can anyone get access to it for identity theft or other purposes?
More editorial commentary from the Journal Sentinel's Greg Borowski, who seems to have gone from reporting on election problems to crusading for photo ID cards for voters.
A probe headed by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann was launched in January. In May, the two said they had found clear evidence of fraud in the city, but emphasized it did not involve an organized effort.None of the many Republicans present thought to make those bold-faced comments, so Borowski supplied them himself. That's full-service reporting.
They said more than 200 felons voted illegally in the city and there were at least 100 other cases in which someone used a fake name or false address to vote, or voted twice.
So far, 14 cases have been filed in federal court, 10 involving felons who illegally voted while still on probation or parole and four involving cases of double voting. In addition, two cases were filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court involving false registration cards submitted in voter registration drives.
Of the felon-voting cases, four people are awaiting trial, one was acquitted, one was found guilty at trial, and three reached plea agreements. Officials have been unable to locate the 10th to pursue charges.
In the double-voting cases, one resulted in a hung jury, one was dismissed when the individual was found incompetent to stand trial, one resulted in a plea agreement and the other is awaiting trial.
By its very nature, voter fraud is difficult to detect and hard to prove in court. It is one thing to determine that a fake name was used, and another to learn who used the fake name.
"We need to rely on the records," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Frohling. "There has been a lot of coverage about human errors and the integrity of the records."
While Republicans have cited the cases of fraud in the photo ID debate, many Democrats have argued that the number of cases is so small that a major change, which they say would burden the poor and elderly, should not be implemented.
At a hearing in Milwaukee last week by a U.S. House committee, critics of such a requirement cited the smallest measurement of the cases - the number convicted - to say the problem is not severe.
That approach, though, ignores how other crime is measured. Cases of burglary, for instance, are not measured by only those where a prosecution leads to a conviction.
Right-wing bloggers and Bush apologists spent the weekend assuring us that the Libby indictment was "not about the war," using a quote from the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to back up their claim.
FITZGERALD: This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel. This is simply an indictment that says, in a national security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer's identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person -- a person, Mr. Libby -- lied or not. The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction. And I think anyone's who's concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn't look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.So Fitzgerald, in a very lawyerlike way, explains the indictment. In a narrow sense, he's right; the indictment isn't specifically about the war. But the whole case is.
Rep. Tom Petri, is among 13 Republican House members backing an anti-torture amendment to the defense appropriations bill. The amendment, by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former prisoner of war, was added in the Senate on a 90-9 vote but was not in the House version of the bill.
Hurrying another Supreme Court nominee into the spotlight is an indication that Karl Rove & Co. still know how to play the game.
prelude to Badger State race in 2006
The New Jersey governor's race, in its final days, continues to offer a possible preview of the Wisconsin governor's race in 2006.
NJ-Gov: Forrester and Stem Cell ResearchEarlier post: NJ stem cell ad sign of things to come?
by Scott Shields
The Forrester campaign is in crisis mode, trying to deal with the fallout of the Carl Riccio ads that have hit the airwaves hear in New Jersey. His lack of support for embryonic stem cell research has always been a problem for Forrester, as New Jersey voters overwhelmingly support it. However, the anti-choice wing of the state's Republican Party does not. And in order to win the gubernatorial nomination earlier this year, Doug Forrester needed their support. Rather than taking a principled stance against embryonic stem cell research, Forrester has tried to play both sides of the issue, claiming that he supports stem cell research, but not public funding for it. He's been much more quiet about the fact that the stem cell research he has supported is adult stem cell research, not embryonic. There's a huge difference between the two (see the non-political Wikipedia's 'stem cell' entry for more information).
On Friday, Forrester claimed to have a miraculous change of heart and now claims to completely support embryonic stem cell research and even the public funding of it. But he sounded like a complete and total buffoon in the process. The Star-Ledger reported his bizarre transformation.
hurricane relief donations flowing
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma have come and gone, but the need for help and donations will continue for a long time. As the nation's short attention span wanes. The Houston Chronicle offers some offbeat ways to help, including one, the Blame Game, that is close to my heart. You can read the story here, for more details on the items listed.
George W Bush ... A man of principle, a man of honor. On the first hour of the first day...he will restore decency and integrity to the oval office.
The nation’s largest Iraq War Veterans group, Operation Truth, launched a nationwide television advertising campaign Thursday, calling for a change in course in Iraq, and an exit strategy that honors the sacrifice of the 2000 American troops who have been killed in the ongoing conflict there.
Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly's "Political Animal" blog:
This, from the AP, is Fitzgerald's summary:
LIBBY'S DEFENSE....Scooter Libby's lawyer has outlined Libby's probable defense against Patrick Fitzgerald's perjury charges: he forgot.
As lawyers, we recognize that a person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred.
I sure hope Libby has a backup plan. Granted, pleas of faulty memory are pretty common in court cases, but Libby has a high bar to overcome:
His first interview with the FBI was only a few months after the events in question. This isn't a matter of being hazy on a few details years after the fact.
It's been pretty well documented that Libby was obsessed with Joe Wilson. This wasn't just a sideshow for him, it was something he spent a lot of time on.
Libby testified that his knowledge of Valerie Plame's CIA employment came from reporters. This was false, but it isn't just a matter of Libby's testimony not matching that of the reporters who supposedly told him about Plame. Fitzgerald also has a bunch of evidence showing that Libby actively pursued information about Wilson and discussed his wife's status with numerous people within the White House. That's a lot to forget.
Libby repeated his false story on four separate occasions. He didn't just alter a few details here and there, he made up a detailed cover story and stuck to it rigorously in front of both investigators and the grand jury.
I sure wouldn't want to try to put lipstick on that pig in front of a jury. If that's all Libby's got, he'd better get on the phone with Fitzgerald pronto and start trying to cut a deal.
"At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterward, under oath and repeatedly."
grow up to be Scooters ...
This from Greg Borowski's story in the Journal Sentinel, on the Congressional "hearing" on election problems in Wisconsin earlier this week. He's writing about a photo ID requirement for voters:
Backers, including a member of a national election reform commission that recommended such a provision, said it would help restore confidence in the election system, assist poll workers and help guard against some forms of voter fraud. Critics said it would unfairly hit the poor and minorities, with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) declaring flatly it would "have the effect of disenfranchising over a quarter of a million eligible voters in our state."So Borowski decides to referee Moore's comments and offer some editorial comment of his own.
The figure was based on a study of people without driver licenses. However, such a statement assumes that none of them would obtain a photo ID and ignores provisions that exempt some elderly from the requirement. Backers of a photo ID requirement noted that plans in Wisconsin, vetoed by Gov. Jim Doyle, would have provided free IDs to those who could not afford one.
The UW-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute did the study, which found:
Among black males between ages 18 and 24, 78% lacked a driver's license, the largest percentage of any demographic in the study. Other groups in which a majority lacked a driver's license were black males of any age (55% lack a license); Hispanic women of any age (59%); and black women, Hispanic men and Hispanic women between ages 18 and 24 (all between 57% and 66%).
By contrast, only 17% of white men and white women of voting age in Wisconsin lack a driver's license.
You don't have to be a genius to figure out that the groups most likely to be disenfranchised are those who vote heavily Democratic.
Yes, the bill would let them get a different kind of photo ID from the state. But the fact remains, that it would create one more barrier for those people if they want to vote. Advantage: Republicans.
All of the "voter fraud" talk is a mere smokescreen. The photo ID bill is pure, partisan power politics at work.It's also inaccurate to say that the federal election reform commission has endorsed what has been proposed in Wisconsin for photo IDs. The Carter-baker commission has endorsed something called REAL ID, a very different and very expensive proposition. We'll discuss that another time, but, as one Wisconsin lawmaker said, that is a horse of a different feather.
Voter ID Law Is Overturned
In a case that some have called a showdown over voting rights, a U.S. appeals court yesterday upheld an injunction barring the state of Georgia from enforcing a law requiring citizens to get government-issued photo identification in order to vote.
The ruling allows thousands of Georgians who do not have government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses and passports, to vote in the Nov. 8 municipal elections without obtaining a special digital identification card, which costs $20 for five years. In prior elections, Georgians could use any one of 17 types of identification that show the person's name and address, including a driver's license, utility bill, bank statement or a paycheck, to gain access to a voting booth.
Last week, when issuing the injunction, U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy likened the law to a Jim Crow-era poll tax that required residents, most of them black, to pay back taxes before voting. He said the law appeared to violate the Constitution for that reason. In the 2004 election, about 150,000 Georgians voted without producing government-issued IDs.
The Journal Sentinel weighs in today with an editorial on AG Peg Lautenschlager's wrong-headed lawsuit against the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Maybe there will be some political benefit to this stunt outstate, but it is playing badly in Milwaukee,, and opposition is bipartisan, from Mayor Tom Barrett to Republican radio hosts.
State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager filed suit Thursday against the taxpayers of Milwaukee County to get them to spend more money than they're already spending on sewage cleanup. The suit is disguised as a case against the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, but the reality is that LautenschlagerEarlier post: Lautenschlager grandstands,taxpayers pay.
is demanding that taxpayers fork out more money to fix one aspect of a complicated problem that would result in a marginal improvement in water quality.
Lautenschlager is asking a judge to tell the district to upgrade its system to stop future dumping of sewage into Lake Michigan. But the district is already working to upgrade its system: It has allocated $900 million for sewer projects and is in the middle of a $58 million long-range planning effort aimed at identifying still other improvements. That's not small change, and it will result in improvements.
Can the district do more to reduce the amount of partially treated sewage that is dumped into the lake? Yup. ShouldUnited Water Services and district officials be held to account for any mistakes in operations or judgment that result in unnecessary dumpings? Absolutely. But if the idea is to build a new system aimed at stopping all dumping, that's a) probably not possible, given the nature of Mother Nature and b) prohibitively expensive, to the point of draining the budgets of municipalities and taxpayers in the district.
We doubt very much that, given the current tax climate, paying for a system that would end all overflows or virtually all overflows would sit well with taxpayers...
... Lautenschlager ... apparently wants taxpayers to spend billions more on a "solution" that won't make the waters very much cleaner. That's not serving the citizens of Wisconsin.
Jessica McBride "reports":
"The MSM are now exploding - very belatedly - with stories about a potential Diane Sykes' candidacy for SCOTUS."So far, it's a pretty small explosion.
Racine Alderman Pete Karas read this editorial by the Janesville Gazette the other day, and decided the Gazette needed to get its facts straight before it promotes concealed weapons as a way to “ward off criminals” instead of what they really are: a danger to the community.
To the Editor:
I read with dismay your editorial entitled, “Residents deserve the right to carry guns,” which appeared in the Janesville Gazette on October 23. Although I disagree with your position on this issue – I find it hard to believe that more guns on the street will make our neighborhoods safer – I was most shocked at the inaccuracy of what your editorial presented as fact.
First, you mention a few of the limited places that the proposed concealed weapons bill will not allow people to carry concealed weapons. You neglected to mention the exceptions. The bill clearly states that one would be able to carry weapons in a school zone if just “passing through,” in taverns if they derive over half of their revenue from food sales, at sporting events that are not school or professional (a little league game is allowed,) or in Municipal Buildings unless there are metal detectors installed.
The second misstatement of fact is your statement that posting a notice will prevent permit holders from bringing concealed weapons into shopping malls or other private businesses. While it is correct that to not allow weapons in a store or other private business a sign must be posted, your editorial failed to mention that visitors to the inside of a mall, store or private business must be “personally and orally” notified of the prohibition upon entry. In addition, this bill does not allow any individual or business owner to prohibit the carrying of guns on the outdoor portion of their property, e.g. in yards, parking lots and outdoor markets. I find this an incredibly unreasonable portion of the proposed law, usurping the property rights of a business owner.
The third fallacy deals with your contention that if the legislature does not pass a concealed carry law, that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will chip away at the current concealed carry prohibition. This speculation, no doubt, comes from an opinion written by one justice in a decision last year which allowed people to carry weapons in their home or personal business and has widely been quoted by the authors of this bill. I suggest the entire decision and opinion be read, as it will be easily interpreted otherwise.
Fourth, the editorial mentions that if one is convicted of domestic abuse, a violent misdemeanor, a felony, or drunken driving they will not be allowed a permit. What you fail to mention, once again, are the exceptions. For example, it must be two drunken driving convictions within the preceding three years to be denied a permit and if the violent misdemeanor is three years old, the person may obtain a permit. Furthermore, virtually none of the prohibitions for people to carry a concealed weapon apply to out of state licensees who will also be allowed to carry guns in Wisconsin.
I would suggest that before your Editorial Board takes another stand on such an important issue, they actually read and research the bill that they are writing about. I believe that when even the supporters of the concept of carrying concealed weapons learn of the actual content of the bill, most will agree as I do, that this bill, as written, is unsafe policy for the people and businesses of Wisconsin.
Alderman Pete Karas
New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine -- like Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle -- is a true stem cell champion.
Keep the kids inside. Here for Halloween in the district, our own scary F. Jim Sensenbrenner. Show up with a Bryan Kennedy button and give him a scare.
Well, this settles it. If ex-hubby Charlie and F. Jim both endorse her, I'd have to be for Diane Sykes for Supreme Court, wouldn't I? The only other assurance I need is that Harriet Miers likes her, too.
Republican radio talker Charlie Sykes and I had a little exchange the last couple of days over the war in Iraq, started by his calling the observances and vigils to mark the death of the 2000th American servicemen "soirees."
A Celebration in Search of an Occasion
It was, perhaps, not the best possible time for the Republican Party to hold a soiree.
The war in Iraq reached a macabre milestone yesterday afternoon as a 2,000th soldier was added to the list of the U.S. dead. Consumer confidence took a surprise tumble to a two-year low, the Conference Board announced. Support for the GOP fell to its lowest level in at least 13 years, according to a poll released by the Pew Research Center. All of Washington, meanwhile, was waiting for Friday's deadline for a prosecutor to say whether he is indicting top White House officials.
And yet, there they were at the gilded Mellon Auditorium last night: the Republican Party's biggest donors, men in tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses, dining on Asian spoon canapes, orange carpaccio and seared mignon of beef, and listening to the soothing tones of a jazz band and a keynote address by President Bush. About 250 Republican Eagles -- those who have contributed $15,000 or more to the party -- and guests were in town for the Eagles' 30th-birthday dinner, which was expected to bring the party more than $1 million.
Of course, the event was scheduled when nobody imagined this would be the darkest political week of the Bush presidency.
The NY Times today profiles Susan Ralston, Karl Rove's assistant, as someone who's coincidentally shown up in key roles in two investigations. Before working for Rove, she was Gal Friday for sleazeball lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- and procurer of free tickets for Mark Green's guy, Mark Graul.
You never know what will happen once local voters feel empowered and learn how easy it is to get some petitions signed.
JEFFERSON — The Coalition for a Better Jefferson has forwarded a petition to the City of Jefferson seeking to require certain studies if a developer or landowner seeks to annex or develop properties that exceed 15 acres. . .
The ordinance ... would essentially outline additional planning steps designed to assist the city as it considers large-scale developments.
Were this ordinance to pass, it would require these larger-scale developers or owners seeking annexation for their larger-scale properties to have four reports prepared as part of the process of consideration. The reports would include:
• An environmental impact statement, as defined in the applicable Wisconsin statute.
• A traffic impact statement prepared by an engineer selected by the city.
• An infrastructure analysis which considers the impact of the proposed development on the city’s sewer system, sanitary sewers, transportation grid, right-of-way, and other infrastructure elements.
• A community impact statement which reviews how the proposed development might affect the community overall.
This would look at things like how the development might affect the police and fire departments and other emergency services; the impact on schools; the wildlife, migrating birds, wetlands, or historical impact of the property as it exists; the economic impact on the city, including likely jobs lost and gained, the impact on the tax rolls, and other such considerations.
The proposed ordinance would require these studies to be done by independent, paid consultants, and it also would give the community a right to a hearing on any of these topics.
The city . . . could ask the developer to pay up front through an impact fee or could order a special assessment of the affected properties.
“The long and short of it is that taxpayers would generally not have to pay for the impact studies,” [John] Rhiel [of the committee] said, “but that these studies would give the community more of a three-dimensional picture of how the development would look at the end, rather than letting development happen step by step. . .
“This action partly came out of the experience the community had with the annexation request for the land that Wal-Mart was considering,” Rhiel said.
“A lot of people had a lot of opinions about what that development would mean for Jefferson, but we didn’t have a lot of facts, aside from Wal-Mart’s general reputation,” he said. “We didn’t have enough reliable information on how this specific development would affect this community.”
As a public service, here is a column the NY Times would like you to pay to read, but which deserves a wider audience:
By BOB HERBERT
Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.'s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They're scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don't finally land them in a federal penitentiary.
See them sweat. The most powerful of the powerful, the men who gave the president his talking points and his marching orders, are suddenly sending out distress signals: Don't let them send me to prison on a technicality.
This is not, however, about technicalities. You can spin it any way you want, but Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is ultimately about the monumentally conceived and relentlessly disseminated deceit that gave us the war that never should have happened.
Oh, it was heady stuff for a while - nerds and naïfs swapping fantasies of world domination and giddily manipulating the levers of American power. They were oh so arrogant and glib: Weapons of mass destruction. Yellowcake from Niger. The smoking gun morphing into a mushroom cloud.
Now look at what they've wrought. James Dao of The Times began his long article on the 2,000 American dead with a story that was as typical as it was tragic:
"Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, fresh off the plane from Iraq and an impish grin on his face, sauntered unannounced into his wife's hospital room in Georgia just hours after she had given birth to their second son."
The article described how Sergeant Jones, over a blissful two-week period last May, "cooed over their baby and showered attention on his wife."
"Three weeks later, on June 14," wrote Mr. Dao, "Sergeant Jones was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on his third tour in a war that is not yet three years old. He was 25."
Three times Sergeant Jones was sent to Iraq, which tells you all you need to know about the fairness and shared sacrifices of this war. If you roll the dice enough times, they're guaranteed to come up snake eyes.
Sergeant Jones told his wife, Kelly, that he had "a bad feeling" about heading back to Iraq for a third combat tour. After his death, his wife found a message that he had left for her among his letters and journal entries.
"Grieve little and move on," he wrote. "I shall be looking over you. And you will hear me from time to time on the gentle breeze that sounds at night, and in the rustle of leaves."
In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, an additional 15,000 Americans have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sacrificed one, two and even three limbs. Some have been permanently blinded and others permanently paralyzed - some both. Some have been horribly burned.
For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody's guess.
This is what happens in war, which is why wars should only be fought when there is utterly and absolutely no alternative.
So what's ahead, now that the giddiness in Washington has been replaced by anxiety and the public is turning against the war?
Even Richard Nixon's cronies are crawling out of the woodwork to urge the Bush gang to stop the madness. In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, now 83, says the administration needs to come up with a clearly defined exit strategy, and fast.
Said Mr. Laird: "Getting out of a war is still dicier than getting into one, as George W. Bush can attest."
But President Bush, who never gave the country a legitimate reason for going to war, and has never offered a coherent strategy for winning the war, seems in no hurry to figure out a way to exit the war.
Soon after the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the American death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000, the president gave a speech in which he said: "This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight."
Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.
Bruce Murphy must be psychic.
I’d like to commend you and your staff for the reasonable approach that has been taken with the twenty-eight Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District communities. I believe that working cooperatively with all parties toward a sensible and pragmatic settlement is in the best interest of taxpayers.
My reaction to your announced legal action against the MMSD and its 1.1 million customers is just the opposite. Quite frankly, I am disappointed.
In 2002, the MMSD entered into a court sanctioned stipulation that resulted in a $900 million tab for taxpayers. That agreement was approved by the Attorney General’s Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. There is little doubt that capital investments had to be made to improve the performance of the regional sewer system. At the end of 2005, more than $570 million in public funds will have been spent. Work on the remaining projects will be completed by 2010. Nine hundred million dollars is not pocket change. It comes from hard-working citizens who don’t hold most government agencies, or higher taxes for that matter, in high regard.
I have asked the MMSD Commissioners to hold a special meeting on Monday, November 7th. I asked for this meeting because I was not happy with the Commission’s action to increase the MMSD’s 2006 capital budget an additional 2%. And while I understand MMSD’s need to keep pace with meeting the stipulated demands, I want to reduce costs.
In order for the Commission to accurately plan for 2006 and beyond, please provide my office and the MMSD the specific actions and/or projects you feel are necessary for the MMSD to undertake in order to satisfy the compliance issues you have raised at your press conferences. I also would like to see all costs associated with those actions and/or projects.
In addition, please provide my office and the MMSD, a detailed account of what MMSD actions and/or capital projects your office has found to be delinquent in meeting the 2002 stipulation. This would include actions and/or projects the MMSD has completed, that are currently being undertaken, and those actions and/or projects that are planned.
As you are aware, there are one hundred twenty-three MMSD capital projects included in the District’s 2006 budget. It may be in the MMSD’s interest not to fund those projects if you are planning on expanding the scope and costs of any or all of those items. I assume that you would agree that you have a responsibility to MMSD and its ratepayers to inform them of the financial impacts of your action.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this request. I look forward to reviewing your information prior to the November 7th MMSD Commission meeting.
The gloves aren't off yet, but the Republican gov primary contestants are edging closer to getting into the ring, at least.
Scott Walker's e-newsletter -- using two Republican radio talkers from his home base of Milwaukee as proxies -- gives Mark Green a little slap:
This special edition of the Walker Weekly highlights two articles that appeared recently discussing the strength of Scott Walker's message. Both Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes offer a strong case for why you should join the Winning Walker team.
Mark Belling: "The voters want tax relief in Wisconsin and they will keep voting against those politicians that won't give it to them. Walker has the all-time winning Wisconsin issue in the tax freeze and his ability to produce four consecutive budgets with absolutely no increase in the property tax levy. The tone-deaf crowd in the Republican Party that is backing candidate Mark Green is oblivious to the appeal of Walker's message and will wake up next September in shock when Walker crushes Green in the GOP primary. Even after that result, the Madison crowd and the state media will argue that Walker's win is a "Republican thing." Walker will then beat Doyle. Will they hear us THEN?"
Charlie Sykes:"County Executive Scott Walker's budget includes a property tax levy increase of zip, nada, bupkus. Swept into office in the wake of the Ament pension scandal, Walker promised to freeze property taxes. Unlike Doyle's "freeze," Walker's comes without asterisks, loopholes, hedges, fudges, or backdoors. It doesn't rely on reassessments or sleight of hand. For Walker a zero increase means a zero increase. All of which makes Walker a double anomaly in Wisconsin politics (1) a politician who actually does what he says he will do, and (2) an officeholder prepared to actually make cuts in spending."
Belling's rant conveniently lets Walker send something around the state callling Green's backers "tone-deaf" without having to actually say it himself. But Walker's certainly spreading it.
Belling, by the way, has a long history of making bold pronouncements and predictions that turn out to be totally wrong, but he conviently forgets to ever mention them again. I am saving this one.
From my buddies The Gun Guys:
President Bush has backed down on his plans to suspend the David-Bacon prevailing wage requirements for Katrina cleanup, under pressure from Dems and some Repubs.
I can't decide if it's really her or not, but Harriet's own blog is hilarious. Check it out at HarrietMiers.blogspot.com
working to end the war in Iraq
Anyone on the right want to slime Ray Maida? Is he a moonbat? Does he dishonor his son's sacrifice? Charlie? Jessica? Who wants to be first?
Calls are pouring in after retired Madison police detective Ray Maida was interviewed on ABC's "Nightline'' last week, talking about how poorly the U.S. military treated his family in dealing with the death of his son Mark, an Army sergeant in Iraq.
The family never received a call from his commanding officer. Three months after his death, the family learned the details of what happened from an interview in The Washington Post with Terry Rodgers, a soldier and close friend who was with Mark when a bomb exploded their patrolling Humvee. They had only six hours' notice that his body would be arriving at the airport in Milwaukee and also had a difficult time getting his possessions returned.
In the wake of the "Nightline'' show, Maida has been asked to speak around the country, including a request from MoveOn.org to talk when the 2,000th soldier dies in Iraq.
"I just haven't returned the call," says Maida, his voice, understandably, alternating between weary and impassioned. "I can only speak about it once every few days. I can only do it in bits and pieces and then afterward I cry. But I want to share Mark's story." Mark, a 2001 Memorial High School graduate, was killed in May.
The "Nightline'' segment titled, "We regret to inform you..." was anchored by Chris Bury, a UW-Madison alum who was on Madison radio in the late '70s and is the show's main substitute anchor. Maida says the interview took two days and four hours of taping for what was originally intended to be a seven-minute segment.
"The guy who videotaped it said it was the longest interview they'd seen," says Maida, "and 'Nightline' decided to make it the whole show."
Maida and his son Chris, an Iraq war veteran, will be speaking Thursday, Oct. 27, sponsored by Military Families for Peace, at Union South at 7 p.m. They plan to have video and pictures of Mark's life, as well as stories from the large anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., last month, where Maida met Mark's friend from the Post story.
"The reason we speak," says Ray Maida, "is we met Terry Rodgers at the peace rally and he told us how the two of them had discussed how they were going to go to every get-out-of-Iraq rally they could when they got home."
Click here to find a local vigil. Here, too.
It appears my use of the word Chickenhawk has stirred up some of the folks who think the only way to honor the dead in Iraq is to add to the numbers, instead of bringing the troops home. Good. The super-patriots could use a little shaking up.
If you're a prosecutor who's brave enough to indict -- or even think about indicting a Republican -- you'd better wear some protective gear.
W pals bushwhack CIA leak prosecutor
WASHINGTON - As the White House and Republicans brace for possible indictments in the CIA leak probe, defenders have launched a not-so-subtle campaign against the prosecutor handling the case.
"He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things," one White House ally said, referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
John Stocks, a Wisconsinite with Gulf Coast roots, has kept us informed of his efforts to help family and friends in the New Orleans area, aided by the generosity of many. This is his report:
Card is not coming. Gee, what could be more important? Hotline reports.
Invited to "cover his remarks?" Will there be questions? Can anyone in the Wisconsin media think of anything they'd like to ask the White House chief of staff? Or will they be led by the nose? Film at 10.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin is pleased to announce that the Honorable Andrew H. Card, Jr. will be the featured guest at its 3rd annual reception in Milwaukee. The event will take place [Tuesday], October 25, from 5pm-7pm at the University Club, 924 East Wells, in Milwaukee. The media is invited to cover Mr. Card’s remarks at the general reception, held in the main lounge on the first floor, from approximately 6:30pm to 6:45 pm. All cameras need to be preset by 4pm on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
A new Harris Interactive poll shows American sentiment about the situation in Iraq remains generally gloomy, with fewer than a quarter of Americans saying they are confident U.S. policies in Iraq will be successful.
For the first time, a majority of Americans (53%) feels that military action in Iraq was the wrong thing to do, according to the survey of 1,833 U.S. adults, compared with 34% who feel it was right.
At the same time, 66% of U.S. adults now say President Bush is doing a "poor" or "only fair" job of handling Iraq, while 32% say he is doing an "excellent" or "pretty good" job. That's little changed from a September Harris poll that found 65% rated Mr. Bush negatively and 34% rated him positively.
Sixty-one percent of Americans say they aren't confident U.S. policies in Iraq will be successful, slightly higher than 59% who lacked confidence in September. Additionally, only 19% of Americans surveyed believe the situation for U.S. troops in Iraq is improving, while 44% believe it is getting worse.
Some people were having a lot of fun today with this exchange over the sewerage district's budget, and an amendment to raise taxes 4% instead of 2%, as reported by the Journal Sentinel:
"This amendment saves $2.5 million over six years," Dale Richards, a commissioner from Oak Creek who supported the plan, said Monday.
Another commissioner, Rep. Pedro Colón (D-Milwaukee), didn't buy that logic.
"Only in government would someone argue that raising taxes saves money," Colón said after the meeting.
Great sound bite.But anyone who's even taken out a loan or a mortgage, or waited a year or two to buy something, understands that paying now is almost always cheaper than paying later.
and Sykes is there with a shovel
I wondered which Wisconsin wingnut would help shovel the pile of manure (read bullshit) that's piling up on the right-wing Internet, claiming that peace activists are planning "parties" to "celebrate" the death of the 2000th American service member in Iraq.
Republican nastiness just fine
Pat Kreitlow, the Chippewa Falls Democrat who has just announced his candidacy against State Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, describes his first week on the campaign trail on his blog, Chippewaffles.
The White House is worried that if the satirical Onion uses the presidential seal on its website, people might think the phony Presidential radio addresses it produces are real? That says a lot about Bush's Saturday messages. NY Times story.
The first step toward a gag rule aimed at stopping non-profits from speaking up about issues is about to come to a vote in the House of Representatives, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
Engages in partisan and nonpartisan voter registration, voter identification, and get-out-the-vote activities;OMB Watch has more.
· Publicly “promotes,” “supports,” “attacks,” or “opposes” a candidate for federal office, which could be interpreted to include criticism of elected officials who may be seeking reelection;
· Broadcasts any ads – public service announcements, grassroots issue advocacy, anything – that refer to federal candidates within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary; or
· Lobbies, except if the group is a 501(c)(3) organization it may lobby within permissible limits.
My favorite press release of the day, from the Republican Party of you-know-where, quotes its Chairman, Rick Graber:
'Those who voted for George W. Bush were promised a mind like [Antonin] Scalia's for the Supreme Court. Instead, they've been given a mind like George W. Bush's.'"
Wisconsin Republicans can relax about requiring photo ID cards for voters.
Nickolaus, in a reply to Murphy, agreed that the poll worker was not properly trained, noted that the training is the responsibility of local clerks, not the county, and invited him to be a poll worker at the next election.
Your poll official demanded that a woman trying to register to vote present her driver's license. When the voter said she had forgotten it, your poll official claimed that the woman would be unable to register or vote unless she could present a valid driver's license. No offer of a provisional ballot, no request for additional information - just a simple statement of no license no vote.
... I happened to be standing there and was able to intervene and make sure this voter was able to exercise her rights. It wasn't easy, though. Your poll worker put up quite a fight, arguing for her own misguided interpretation of Wisconsin law.
I pointed out to your poll worker what is clearly laid out on the State Elections Board website:
As of January 1, 2003, the federal "Help America Vote Act of 2002" requires any person registering to vote to supply their Wisconsin Department of Transportation - issued driver's license or identification card number. If the elector does not have a Wisconsin driver's license or I.D., they must provide the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number, or indicate that the applicant has neither a driver's license nor a Social Security Number.
Although the Registration Form may ask for either the Driver's License number or the last 4 digits of the Social Security Number, a voter should not be turned away if they lack that information. If you cannot supply acceptable Proof-of-Residence, your registration form can be substantiated and signed by one other elector who resides in your municipality, corroborating your residency information.
It wasn't until after the voter pointed out that the registration form actually had the check boxes allowing you to write your Social Security Number, or indicate that you had neither, did the poll worker finally, and grudgingly, relent. Apparently, that was the first time this particular poll worker bothered to look at the registration form...
The focus of election officials in Waukesha County and across the state should be to help the citizens of Wisconsin cast their ballots, not finding ways to turn eligible voters away from the polls.
There are two sides to every issue, they say, and Scott Walker manages to be on both sides of this one.
In other words, no.
As for the Hurtgen-related funds, Pfaff says the contributions were made for the county exec's race and have already been spent. "If information becomes available later about campaign contributions (from indicted individuals), we'll return it," pledges Pfaff.
Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette recently became the fourth GOP lawmaker to return campaign funds received from indicted ex-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Roll Call reports:
LaTourette has donated $13,000 that he received from DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee to Hurricane Katrina relief funds. The six-term lawmaker has not commented publicly on his decision to give up the money, but he is informing constituents of his action when they ask about it.Meanwhile, Wisconsin Reps. Mark Green and Paul Ryan, who have received about $55,000 in DeLay political action money between them, continue to offer new excuses every day to rationalize keeping the money. They are making a political mistake, although Green, as a candidate for governor, is at much more risk that Ryan, whose House seat is quite secure.
“As a former prosecutor, I trust that the legal system will work and Tom DeLay, like every American, should have his day in court and should be afforded the presumption of innocence,” LaTourette wrote in a letter to Aurora, Ohio, resident Palmer Peterson dated Oct. 11. “However, in order to remove any questions that may arise about these contributions, I have made a donation in the same amount to the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund, which will help with relief efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.”
As it turns out, Peterson is more than just an average constituent — he’s a Democrat who is planning to run against LaTourette next year.
Peterson posted his original letter, as well as LaTourette’s response, on his campaign Web site, www.palmerjpeterson.com. In a follow-up statement, Palmer said LaTourette “did the right thing.”
LaTourette is the fourth House Republican to return money doled out by DeLay since the former Majority Leader was indicted Sept. 28.
Reps. Jeb Bradley (R-N.H.) and Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) both returned the campaign funds they received from ARMPAC. Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.), who along with LaTourette was booted from the House ethics committee at the beginning of this Congress, also donated his ARMPAC money to Katrina relief.
So James Dobson, described by the WashPost as a "leading conservative Christian," may be summoned to testify on the Harriet Miers nomination.
to give himself more job security
The report below is from Gary Fisher, a Madison journalist who has covered the Board of Veterans Affairs and has an ongoing interest in its activities.