-- Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, via Cagle.
"America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins," Bush said to the audience of uniformed U.S. Navy midshipmen. "America will not abandon Iraq so long as I am commander in chief."-- President Bush in today's speech.
It was good to read that the family of Teresa Halbach won't let themselves be used as political pawns. Too often, a combination of grief-stricken families and pandering politicians have inappropriately pushed those famlies into the spotlight on controversial issues.
We suggested a couple of weeks ago that Rep. Mark Green's fortunes may be tied to those of the increasingly unpopular George W. Bush -- and even more so to the Iraq war, which Green continues to champion. Post.
Photo of the Week
Last week in their email update, Mark’s primary opponent reprinted a column arguing that while most people believe Mark is the best candidate to beat Doyle, that reality might be in jeopardy because of Mark’s strong support for President Bush and his work on the War Against Terrorism. Here are a few excerpts from the column the Walker Team promoted:
Most Republican and Democratic insiders have tabbed Mark Green as the more formidable opponent against incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle and the favorite over Walker in the Republican primary.
Green looked squeaky clean, with a congressional record that might help and wouldn't hurt, being largely irrelevant in a gubernatorial campaign. All Green needed was a mediocre or better approval rating for President George Bush and congressional Republicans, and the specifics of his record might not have mattered.
But in the post-Katrina, post-Scooter Libby world, Bush's approval rating has plummeted and is likely to stay in the basement as long we remain at war in Iraq.
don't gay-haters understand?
Scott Walker, in a statement on why we need a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages, accidentally explains why we don't need such an amendment. Walker says:
"Current law already defines marriage as between a husband and a wife."In their zeal to punish gays for being gay, Walker and the right want to go beyond banning gay marriages and deny gay couples other legal rights -- even those bargained by public employee unions in Madison and Milwaukee to provide health benefits.
When I saw the headline:
Insurgent, insurgent, bo-surgent, banana-fana-fo-surgent, mi-my-mo-murgent -- insurgent!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued on Tuesday that the guerrillas fighting U.S.-led foreign forces and the American-backed government in Iraq do not deserve to be called an "insurgency."Islamo-fascists has a nice ring to it, don't you think? That seems to be the right wing's current favorite.
Asked at a Pentagon news conference why he did not think the word insurgency applied to enemy forces in Iraq, Rumsfeld said he had "an epiphany."
"I've thought about it. And, over the weekend, I thought to myself, you know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld instead referred to the guerrillas in Iraq as "the terrorists" and "the enemies of the government." U.S. military statements also have referred to insurgents as "anti-Iraqi forces."
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines an insurgent as "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government."
Who says newspaper editorials don't have any impact?
Now that Dane County Board Chairman Kevin Kesterson has been convicted of lying to a sheriff's deputy investigating political wrongdoing at the county level, he should have the decency to resign.And a Nov. 29 Capital Times news story:
Embattled Dane County Board Chairman Kevin Kesterson has resigned as both chairman and supervisor, ending his 10-month ordeal stemming from charges that he lied to a police officer about his knowledge of an e-mail smear made by a former supervisor against Supervisor Don Eggert.
Another poll from Survey USA, with Jim Doyle at 45-49 positive-negative. They've been polling every month since May, and the trend graph will show it is virtually unchanged from where Doyle was six months ago.
After reading the last several days of Wisconsin blogs, I have but one request:
Scott Walker still can't believe that he put out a press release and nobody printed it. He's found a sympathetic ear in Owen at Boots and Sabers. But he'll get no sympathy here, for reasons I have explained previously.
A line is forming outside the Iraq confessional. It consists of Democratic presidential aspirants -- where's Hillary? -- who voted for the war in Iraq and now concede that they made a "mistake." Former senator John Edwards did that Nov. 13 in a Post op-ed article, and Sen. Joseph Biden uttered the "M" word Sunday on "Meet the Press." "It was a mistake," said Biden. "It was a mistake," wrote Edwards. Yes and yes, says Cohen. But it is also a mistake to call it a mistake.
Madison radio station WIBA tries to clean up the mess after the Associated Press incorrectly reported that Citizens for Responsible Government was planning to try to recall Gov. Jim Doyle. WIBA's story:
Despite what you may have heard or read in a Milwaukee newspaper... Citizens for Responsible Government is NOT trying to recall Governor Doyle:A second version:
Sound bite: "categorically false..."
Chris Kliesmet of CRG... who blames the confusion on a headline writer at the Milwaukee newspaper. But Kleismet says they WILL launch a grass roots effort to make sure Doyle is not re-elected next year:
Sound bite: "...will go through regular election process, but not a recall effort."
Kleismet says Doyle has not been fiscally responsible. Citizens for Responsible Government is the same group that's trying to recall Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
It was somewhat of a surprise this morning when word went out that the group now involved in trying to recall Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz now wants to recall Governor Doyle.. with less than a year before the next gubenatorial election. That word also came as a surprise to Chris Kleismet.. spokesperson for that recall group .... Citizens for Responsible Government:
Kleismet says his group would like to see Doyle out of the governor's mansion but they will try to unseat him next year through the election process... not through a recall.
"Absolutely false"... that's the latest word from Citizens for Responsible Government on news this morning the group is launching a recall effort agaist Governor Doyle. Chris Kleismet... spokesperson for the group... says the confusion came from what he calls a misleading headline this morning in the Milwaukee newspaper. Kleismet does say his group will try to unseat Governor Doyle next year but through the election priocess:
Sound bite "... not fiscally responsible"
Citizens for Responsible Government is the same group that IS trying to recall Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
The headline writer gets the blame, but don't you think the person on the desk at AP, who wrote the wire version, should have read the story and not just the headline?
The result is certainly more exposure than CRG might have gotten if the story hadn't gotten garbled. But will the extra coverage help the group build its membership or make it seem like they're a little confused?
grotesque, gruesome grandstanding
Leave it to State. Sen. Tom Reynolds, R-Pluto, to come up with a death penalty bill that most death penalty advocates probably won't even support.
John McAdams, a Marquette University political science professor, said death penalty opponents have inflated the number of death row inmates who are exonerated and have understated the level of public support for it.
"The mass public isn't particularly deterred by the notion there may be some innocent people on death row," said McAdams, a proponent of capital punishment. "No public policy works perfectly . . . so they're realistic about policy."
So the state murders a few innocent people. Hey, nothing's perfect. Win a few, lose a few.
I've heard McAdams' philosophy expressed by grunts in Vietnam: "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."
The difference was, the grunts weren't serious.
Is this letter written by an unpatriotic coward who wants to undermine the morale of the troops? It's from Stars and Stripes, the newspaper serving our military men and women overseas.
War based on a lie
Weapons of mass destruction? I’m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we’ll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of “democracy” and “freedom” touted by our leadership at home and overseas.
This deception is furthered by our armed forces’ belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and “laissez-faire” society. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald’s, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again.
I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn’t exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans “feel good” about the “War on Terrorism.” The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq.
Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, “bring ’em on” so we can get our “mission accomplished” and get out of this mess.
Capt. Jeff Pirozzi
Camp Taqaddum, Iraq
Love the way the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign rolled everyone together in its news release:
Madison - The three Republican and Democratic candidates for governor next year have accepted nearly $23,000 since 2003 from Illinois contributors who have been convicted or indicted of extortion, fraud, bribery or other crimes, or who are connected to state and federal criminal investigations, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has found.If you bother to read it and do a little math, even on your fingers, you'll find Jim Doyle's share is $6,500 while Walker and Green have more than $24,000 between them, counting contributions from wives which are also listed. Of that, about $14,000 went to Green and $10,000 to Walker. Of course, that doesn't count other money Nick Hurtgen and friends raised for Walker, which totaled at least $25,000.
The state Board of Veterans Affairs decided today that it was not urgent to change its rules and effectively make John Scocos Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Life.
Seeing any real or perceived support for sweeping rule changes vanish into the ether during a telephone conference Monday, the Veterans Affairs Board agreed to consider further comments before voting in December on the proposed changes to board rules.
Most controversial is the proposal giving the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs secretary unprecedented power by requiring a unanimous vote of seven board members to remove the secretary from office for mismanagement or misconduct.
Now it requires four votes of the board to appoint the secretary and five votes for removal.
Board members Peter Moran and Marv Freedman cautioned for more input before any action is taken.
"We should take no action binding on future boards," said Moran.
Department lawyer John Rosinski opined, and board Chair Ken Wendt agreed, that the process legally allowed a vote on the changes at the teleconference, and (Wendt)
saw "no reason to postpone a vote."
Freedman said he wasn't raising the legality of today's notice but "the appropriateness of (voting)now instead of at December meeting." Reiterating his request for a delay, Freedman told Wendt "it's the principle I just mentioned. The board teleconferences only on matters that are time sensitive."
Board member Kathy Marschman said she was "willing to delay the proposal on the number of votes to remove the secretary after discussing it with "other folks."
Marschman, who initially proposed the rules changes out of thin air, said the "proposals are board matters and I'm curious why it has generated an attack on Secretary Scocos. "I hope the board works through this and recognizes that it's board business, not about him."
Marschman said it is "troubling that a newspaper the quality of the Journal Sentinel" how it portrayed board members" and weblogs comments directed at the secretary that people will "wonder what's going on." [Can't speak for the JS, but that's exactly what comments on this blog were intended to do. -- Xoff.]
Board members Don Heiliger and Walt Stenavich also agreed to revisit the proposed changes before the Dec. 9 board meeting in Union Grove.
"I'd like to see (the existing) document with Marv's (and Moran's) comments added side by side," said Heiliger.
County Veterans Services Officrs President Rick Gates, Dane County CVSO officer Michael Jackson and Marathon County CVSO officer Scott Berger attended today's meeting to urge the board to delay its action.
"It is bad public policy to make the secretary for life," said Berger. I see no reason."
In opposing a unanimous vote to remove the secretary for cause, Jackson said he's also adamantly against the board paying legal fees for a secretary accused of wrongdoing.
State Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, staffer and junior vice commander of the Wisconsin Military Order of the Purple Heart, John O'Brien, who opposes former State Sen. Rod Moen's confirmation to the board, was an observer at the meeting. Moen has been nominated by the governor to replace Marschman, whose term expired May 1, but she has refused to step down and the Republican-run State Senate has not confirmed Moen yet.
Wisconsin Veterans Museum director Richard Zeitlin said said he'd been with the agency since John Moses was secretary several years ago.
"The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs' mission is to help veterans and their families, said Zeitlin.
"There's not much mentioned about achievements today," he said. "Through the achievements of this legislature (and governor) the WDVA has received solid gains."
The G.I. Bill (tuition breaks for vets returning from the Middle East) is a progressive step forward . . . I haven't heard anyone say how these proposed rule changes would benefit the veterans of Wisconsin."
Bill Kloster, the deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, said he'd get the current proposal in the mail Tuesday, which is 10 days before the December meeting, and then forward electronic copies of today's comments from Freedman, Moran and other board members to the board in a few days.
Don't expect to receive an electronic copy if you request one, however, because Rosinski states, "hard copies of the requested documents will be sent to you as soon as they are finalized. Electronic copies of documents are not provided because of the capability of altering those documents after they are provided to the recipient."
Understandably, there was some confusion today over just what Citizens for a Republican Governor (former Citizens for Responsible Government) were announcing in a top line Journal Sentinel story.
UNDATED (AP) - A conservative group that claims credit for forcing a number of county executives across Wisconsin to step down, is hoping to parlay their success into a recall effort of Governor Doyle.A later AP story didn't mention the recall:
The conservative group is called Citizens for Responsible Government. It's forced Pewaukee Mayor Jeff Nowak to step down, and it's been trying to get Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz (shihz-LEH-vich) to do the same.
Now C-R-G is hoping to extend its pitch for fiscally conservative policies by organizing a recall of Governor Doyle.
The group is facing an uphill battle. The group expects it will need a least a (m) million dollars to organize a recall effort, but it has less than five-thousand dollars right now.
C-R-G executive member Orville Seymer says he's frustrated that there has been little action on a proposal to limit state and local tax revenue.
Populist group hopes to build statewide baseet cetera
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Citizens for Responsible Government, a populist group that has been involved in a number of local campaigns during the last few years, plans to begin a large-scale membership and affiliate drive after the holiday season, its executive administrator says.
Chris Kliesmet told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the CRG network aims to have "boots on the ground" in all 72 of Wisconsin's counties and raise a war chest of $1 million from a membership base of 10,000 people.
"We've had so much focus on issues locally," he said. "At some point in time, you have to make a strategic decision to stop fighting brush fires and look to build a dam upstream."
He said the organization now has a couple thousand people as members, but there is no dues-paying process and no statewide database of CRG supporters. The Journal Sentinel said the most recent campaign finance reports show the network has $4,863 in its bank account.
Turncoat Barbara Boxer, who says she's a Democrat but is raising money for Scott Walker for governor, tries to make the case that some kind of Jim Doyle conspiracy is behind Kathleen Falk's candidacy for attorney general.
but has been treated well by media
Scott Walker, unhappy with the Journal Sentinel, takes a page out of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke's playbook and e-mails Republican radio host Charlie Sykes:
Charlie,Yes, Scooter, everyone thinks there is bias in the media. And everyone thinks it is against them.
What's up with the newspaper? Apparently they couldn't find enough room to put in a story about a major plan to stop the automatic increase in the gas tax each April, but they could find room to run a story about two people from Wisconsin escorting Mr. Potato Head in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now, I think that's kind of cool, but doesn't a major newspaper have some sort of a responsibility to cover an announcement about a major change in the gas tax?
Other places covered the story. Wispolitics.com had this on the website. The transportation lobby put out this release in opposition to repealing the gas tax indexing.
Does anyone think that there is any bias in the media?
Let's file this one away under "Suspicions confirmed." Madison's Mayor Dave does not appear to be in any danger of being recalled, even if his foes manage to collect enough signatures, which seems unlikely, judging from this story.
Brace yourself. Shocking news!
Learn something every day -- and count the day lost that you don't catch hell for something.
I am not making this up. The White House is claiming that its secret plan to end the war in Iraq, which it had just not gotten around to sharing with us yet, is pretty much the plan Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, proposed in an op ed on Saturday.
Coming soon, the LA Times reports, the Bush secret plan to end the war:
"Pivot" is a very kind word to describe what Bush appears poised to do -- move in the direction advocated by people his administration has called cowards and traitors.
U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout From Iraq
By Paul Richter and Tyler Marshall, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — Even as debate over the Iraq war continues to rage, signs are emerging of a convergence of opinion on how the Bush administration might begin to exit the conflict.
In a departure from previous statements, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi soldiers had advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops in the country probably would not be needed much longer.
President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces.
The administration's pivot on the issue comes as the White House is seeking to relieve enormous pressure by war opponents. The camp includes liberals, moderates and old-line conservatives who are uneasy with the costly and uncertain nation-building effort.
in its rush to welcome Wal-Mart
An op ed column by a public interest lawyer Brent Denzin explores what's happening with Jefferson Wal-Mart and questions why city government is unwilling to collect more information before welcoming a superstore, and has rejected a petition for direct legislation:
In the rush to flood the city with below-poverty level jobs, the council has forgotten that its authority has limits. Whether citizens believe that Wal-Marts will save or destroy their community, their right to directly participate in government does not end on election day...Unspoken is the question of whether this issue is headed to court.
While the whole process has been dirty, at best, the latest decision in Jefferson crosses the line. The council's recent actions should not be considered yet another issue in a deep debate about our changing economic and environmental landscape. The reaction should be clear and definite: These actions are not only unwise, irresponsible and undemocratic; they are illegal and unacceptable.
I've been among those saying for awhile now that any Democrat who has presidential aspirations in 2008 needs to establish his/her bona fides on the Iraq war. I can't imagine that the party will turn to someone who continues to support the Bush administration's failed policies, even under cover of "supporting the troops."
Eye On Wisconsin continues to needle the Journal Sentinel over its lack of interest in writing about questionable contracts awarded by Milwaukee County to a low-ranked firm whose execs are donors to County Exec Scott Walker.
“Felons lack the qualification to vote only because we say they do. Just like we say you have to be 18 to vote or you have to vote in your district. So it is simply a matter of policy."
for another defense hawk
The effects of last week's rancorous House debate over Iraq continue to be felt.
Racine County Exec William McReynolds has "clarified" and "reaffirmed" his policies about giving county supervisors access to county staff, he says.
DIALING IT DOWN. I see Gov. Doyle has ordered the thermostats turned down in state buildings to save money -- from 72 degrees down to 68. Our themostat hasn't been at 72 since the energy crisis of 1973.
Rep. Jean Schmidt, who called colleague John Murtha a coward on the House floor last week, said she was delilvering a messahe from a Marine colonel. Now that colonel says he never mentioned Murtha and would never call a fellow Marine a coward.
Mark Graul, Rep. Mark Green's campaign manager and ex-chief of staff on the Hill, gets another mention today by Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo:
Here's one thing I'm interested in. A couple days ago, the Washington Post quoted sources close to the Abramoff investigation saying that investigators are "are looking at half a dozen members of Congress, current and former senior Hill aides, a former deputy secretary of the interior, and Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues."
Now, six members of Congress -- not so many when you consider there are more than 500 hundred of them. But note the standard. Presumably, these are the ones FBI agents and federal prosecutors are looking to possibly charge with criminal offenses and send to prison.
Given how common a practice it is for big contributions to secure votes on key legislation in today's Washington (and yesterday's Washington too, for that matter), you've really got to cross the line in a big way to get into legal trouble for taking bribes, as already seems to have happened with Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). The DOJ doesn't enforce House ethics rules (then again, nobody does anymore. but that's another story). Nor are there laws against general sleazeballery.
So how big a swath will the Abramoff scandal cut in the House? Six under scrutiny for actual charges? Figure there are ten times that many tarred with his brush, revealed to be deep in his web of corruption, on the freebie gravy train, even if they violated no specific laws which could land them in jail. How does the Abramoff scandal play in their districts?
Last month we did a few posts about a guy named Mark Graul, one-time Chief of Staff for Rep. Mark Green (R) of Wisconsin and now his campaign manager as Green runs for Governor. We noted that Graul's name shows up again and again getting tickets to various Abramoff skyboxes back in 2000. (These are from a collection of Team Abramoff emails we received a few months back.)
Graul first denied getting any freebies. But as we published more and more of the emails and the local press started taking notice, he eventually sorta kinda 'fessed up. And he came up with a new line which was basically, tough luck, that's how business is done in Washington.
When asked about the Abramoff freebies, Graul told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "I believe it's illegal in [the Wisconsin state capital of] Madison. It's legal in Washington."
So how many other members of Congress up for election next year were on the Abramoff gravy train?
on Veterans Affairs power grab
The attempt to change the rules at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, in effect making John Scocos DVA Secretary for Life, is beginning to attract the attention of state legislators.
State Rep. Bob Turner, D-Racine, a Vietnam vet:
"I believe he has done many good things on behalf of Wisconsin veterans, and respect his service to our country. Despite my support for Secretary Scocos, I am deeply deeply offended by the actions of the Board of Veterans Affairs which I believe is legally questionable on several levels-and certainly ethically questionable," Travis said.
There are no Republicans or Democrats on the battlefield-only Americans.
It is shameful that certain members of the Veterans' Board and State Senate want to make veterans' issues partisan.
I suggest people back off and return to our usual nonpartisan approach to veterans issues.
If people insist on going forth with activities that are illegal or questionable, I have no other choice than to ask for legal investigations, but I hope folks take a few deep breaths and decide to keep politics away from our service people.
I do not believe that the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is meant to be a lifetime political appointee. There are protections built into the system, and these protections are consistent with our representative form of government. Allowing a life term for any appointee is tantamount to totalitarianism. I would hope that the members of the Board will understand this and vote accordingly.State Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs, Small Business and Government Reform, (and the Kitchen Sink) calls the board's latest ploy an unabashed "power grab."
Republican Party and all ships at sea
Eye on Wisconsin is just wondering where the concern is about some questionable county contracts he revealed earlier this week:
Paging U.S. Attorney Steven M. BiskupicRead it all.
You are investigating allegations regarding the awarding of a state contract to Adelman Travel. The amount of that contract was $250,000 and Adelman won the bid. The Scott Walker/Milwaukee County contract with Phoenix Care Systems was for over $1.2 million and that company did not even score very high.
Not to mention that they also received a no-bid contract from MilwaukeeCounty during the same year. Now I’m sure the fact that the executives of that company gave money to Scott Walker is just a coincidence, but we really should err on the side of caution. Don’t you agree? Please email me when you have the press conference scheduled.
Walker's record on gas tax a problem
Are the Republican candidates for governor finally going to start to mix it up a little and begin to talk about their differences? Is Scott Walker really more against taxes than Mark Green? Green says otherwise.
Just one problem for Walker: If the automatic gas tax issue is the litmus test, Walker flunks.
Scott Walker turns up the pressure on his fellow GOPers. Here is his plan:
*Stop the automatic gas tax increase. This would save $38.6 million in the current budget.
*Protect the Transportation Fund from being raided (like Doyle did in the past two budgets - he took $486 million in 2005/2007 budget)
*Allow the sales tax collected from vehicle-related purchases (currently used in the general fund) to be put in to the Transportation Fund
*Work to end EPA regulations for Reformulated Gas
Walker provides this background:
Background: In 1995, former Governor Tommy Thompson proposed a 3.5% "oil franchise fee" - an indirect gas tax that would raise gas prices about 3.85 cents per gallon. The plan also would tie the state gas tax solely to the national inflation rate. And finally, it would have allowed Milwaukee County to impose a 2-cent-per-gallon gas tax dedicated to the transit system.
At the time, 10 of us in the Assembly stood up against the plan and stopped it - twice. We took the heat on taxes - not from Democrats, but from Republicans in the leadership like Speaker David Prosser, Caucus Chair Mark Green and Rep. John Gard. Still, we blocked the major tax increase.
Most of the 10 were from southeastern Wisconsin. Our constituents were smarting (and still are today) over reformulated gas and how much it was driving up the cost of a gallon of gas.
Now, the next step is to stop the annual increase in the gas tax - without a vote.
Where else do we give an increase without justification for the use of those tax dollars? As Conservatives, this should be a litmus test. Not just because it is the gas tax, but because it is taxation without representation. Forcing a vote forced government to justify the use of those tax dollars.
This puts pressure on Mark Green. He is closely aligned with Speaker John Gard, who hasn't shown much enthusiasm for ending the automatic gas tax increase. But they can't afford not to get on this bus.
Even Mark’s GOP primary opponent, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, got into the act calling for more spending. Here’s an excerpt from this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story:
OK, so it's not exactly a slugfest yet. But it's the early rounds, and as the fight announcers always say, Green and Walker are feeling each other out. Sooner or later, they'll start to throw some real punches.
Walker, a Republican, finds himself arguing the same points as the advocates and the administration of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, whom Walker hopes to run against next year. The issue also pits Walker against fellow Republicans in Congress, who support the trim as part of a much larger budget-cutting package.
getting Lake Michigan water
Waukesha Freeman columnist Dennis Shook seems quite excited to report the news that a new Great Lakes water compact could allow Waukesha County to get water from Lake Michigan.
Waukesha, like dozens of communities near the Great Lakes basin boundaries, will be eligible to APPLY for a diversion, but it's premature to say they can or will be hooked up. There's an important difference between applying for a diversion, being approved, and turning on a spigot.So, Waukeshans (Waukeshites?) (Waukeonians?), keep the cap on the champagne for now. "There's many a slip twixt cup and lip," as Ben Franklin would say.
There are many unanswered questions about the whole process, assuming that the Governors agree on Dec. 13 to sign the document that is still being reviewed:
1. What is the format for an application? What does it have to include?
2. Are the legal and scientific mechanics in place to review it?
3. How much public input will there be?
4. Will a decision, either way, be appealable? If so, to whom?
5. Will a community be required to return diverted water to the source (in Waukesha's case, that community continues to balk, citing the expense)?
6. Will a community be allowed to blend diverted water with other water for the return if required (in Waukesha's case, that could include radium-tainted
water, which MMSD may not want or be able to handle, and which may harm Lake Michigan).
7. Will a community seeking a diversion be required to have, in place, a functioning water conservation plan - - achieving what results, and for how long?
And every diversion application for a city like Waukesha (in a so-called boundary straddling county, will be considered by all the states with its precedent-setting potential in mind. That means the decision is political, as well as legal and
That is why all such applications will have to win unanimous approval from eight Governors. That means the bar continues to be very high, and why, since 1985,
applications have been few in number and even fewer have been approved.
And why conservation has to be the driving element, prior, during and after an application is forwarded, and also needs to be the driving element in all Great
Lakes communities, diversion application or not.
State Rep. Mark Pettis, R-Hertel, is hell-bent on letting members of the military drink in Wisconsin, even if they are under the legal drinking age of 21.
Sen. Russ Feingold is trying, while Congress is in recess, to enlist support for the Senate's version of the Patriot Act, which modifies some of the most troubling provisions in the bill.
Cowards! Traitors! Cut and run!
Iraqi Leaders Call for Pullout TimetableI forgot "ingrates, but Folkbum has it covered.
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Reaching out to the Sunni Arab community, Iraqi leaders called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.
The communique - finalized by Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders Monday - condemned terrorism but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.
The leaders agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation" and end terror attacks.
One more example of the kind of thinking that lies behind efforts to disenfranchise minorities through photo ID requirements. This from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Voter ID memo stirs tension
Sponsor of disputed Georgia legislation told feds that blacks in her district only vote if they are paid to do so.
The chief sponsor of Georgia's voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district "are not paid to vote, they don't go to the polls," and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.
The newly released Justice Department memo quoting state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) was prepared by department lawyers as the federal government considered whether to approve the new law. It also says that despite Republican assurances the law would not disenfranchise elderly, poor and black voters, Susan Laccetti Meyers, the staff adviser for the Georgia House of Representatives, told the Justice Department "the Legislature did not conduct any statistical analysis of the effect of the photo ID requirement on minority voters."
Some insights on the Republicans' gay-bashing from a new conservative blog, I Am The Force:
Most people in today's world have friends or family members who are gay. We should all be thankful to them for coming out of the closet and helping dispel ignorance and fear in the "straight" community. The Gundrum Republicans are wrong today because the gay couple down the street is no threat to you or your family. They are people, the same as you or I, who deserve to live their lives as they wish and be left alone to do so. The concept of toleration is even offensive and passe'. You shouldn't have to tolerate them, because there is nothing offensive to tolerate. Who they love and what they do in their sex lives is none of your business, and doesn't affect you and your family in any way. So there may be many people out there who still fear gays and lesbians, but that does not excuse a political party trying to exploit those fears for partisan political advantage. If you can't be okay with the private lives of others, well then, at minimum, just leave them alone. Is that too much to ask?Read it all.
More and more regular people in Wisconsin and around the world are understanding this every day. And over time, the civil rights of homosexuals will become as solidly recognized as the civil rights of women and minorities. When George Wallace stood at that schoolhouse door to fight integration, he certainly experienced short term political gain from the white Jim Crow supporters of Alabama, but he was wrong nevertheless. And history will judge the Mark Gundrums of the world in the same manner. It is a shameful thing to condemn a sub-group of people in our society as second class citizens. The Republicans of Wisconsin are simply wrong on this issue, and they will eventually pay at the polls.
agenda, but do little or nothing for families
Rep. Mark Green was touting his award from the Family Research Council the other day, saying he had won a "True Blue" award for "his strong defense of families and the sanctity of human life."
"Since coming to Congress, one of my highest priorities has been protecting the needs of families,"Green said. "The work we do in Washington can strengthen or weaken family bonds, and the "True Blue"Award is a reminder of just how significant an impact our votes in Congress have."What could be finer and more voter-friendly than a pro-family group?
This year, Green was recognized "for demonstrating extraordinary integrity and character in his defense of families and the sanctity of human life through his votes in Congress."
"Stronger neighborhoods and communities start with stronger families, and that's why it's always important that we support public policy that protects the values of human life, religion and family institutions such as marriage," Green said.
Since the early 1990s, FRC has emerged as a leading conservative think-tank championing "traditional family values" by lobbying for state-sponsored prayer in public schools, private school vouchers, abstinence-only programs, filtering software on public library computers, the right to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.The agenda doesn't stop there, either. To get a "True Blue" award, Green needed to vote with the council 100% of the time on "pro-family" issues that included:
FRC's objective is to establish a conservative Christian standard of morality in all of America's domestic and foreign policy.
FRC has dedicated itself to working against reproductive freedom, sex education, equal rights for gays and lesbians and their families, funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. FRC supports a school prayer amendment and would like to "disestablish"the Department of Education.
One of the things that makes politics so interesting is the ability of two people, two groups, or two political parties to look at the same information and reach totally different conclusions.
No one outside the administration has been more adamant or outspoken in arguing that there is no substitute for victory in Iraq than has McCain, the Naval Academy graduate and survivor of years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. Others in the field of potential 2008 presidential candidates also support the war, but for none of them does it represent as large a gamble.I read that column and concluded that if McCain doesn't change course, he may be the Republican nominee but can never be elected in 2008. I don't believe anyone who is still an Iraq hawk in 2008 can win. (I don't think changing your position in 2007 will work very well, either.) McCain's support for the war may well make him the Hubert Humphrey of 2008.
Even Veep Dick Chickenhawk -- I mean Cheney -- has toned down his rhetoric on Iraq critics a little bit, following the lead of his partner in crime, W Bush. Bush is now the good cop, Cheney the not-quite-as-bad cop. But he still gets his licks in.
Cheney said in his speech today that he does not believe it is "wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof" and that he enjoys "energetic debate on issues facing our country." He called [Rep. John] Murtha "a good man, a Marine, a patriot" and said that while he disagreed with him, the congressman was "taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."I guess if you were the chief of the "Find 'Evidence' of WMDs No Matter What" Unit, as Cheney was, you'd be a little testy about it, too.
However, Cheney said: "What is not legitimate and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence.
My remarks today concern national security, in particular the war on terror and Iraq front in that war. Several days ago, I commented on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline quote, Cheney Says War Critics Dishonest, Reprehensible, endquote. The one thing I’ve learned in the last five years is that when you’re vice president you’re lucky if your speeches get any attention at all but I do have a quarrel with that headline.Here’s exactly what Cheney said just a few days ago, on November 16:
To quote President Bush, it is “deeply irresponsible to rewrite history.”
And the suggestion that’s been made by some U.S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.
Murtha was the one-man tipping point. Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse. "We're the target, we're part of the problem," he told NEWSWEEK. Back in Washington, he resumed his weekly pilgrimage to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, visiting severely wounded casualties in rehab and agonizing over what he saw there. "I think those visits affected him deeply," said [Rep. Rosa] DeLauro.
In a long chat with an Irish colleague, he talked about his congressional hero and mentor, another blue-collar Irishman, Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill. No liberal on defense, in 1967 O'Neill had stunned President Lyndon B. Johnson by telling him that the Vietnam War had become a lost cause. Now, Murtha mused, it was his turn to confront a president with harsh truths.
gets contracts; one without even bidding
Suppose that Jim Doyle's administration awarded a $1.28-million contract to a company that scored sixth in a field of eight bidders.
of attempt to give him lifetime job
John Scocos says he's flattered that the state Board of Veterans Affairs thinks so highly of him that it is about to make him Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Life.
"I'm very flattered that the board would care that much about me . . . that the board would look to change the rules from five to whatever the number is (seven)," Scocos said, referring to the number of votes it would take to fire him.I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that Scocos doesn't know that "whatever the number is" is seven, and hasn't reviewed all of the multiple changes Marschman wants the board to make.
As to why he needs all this extra body armor, he contended that there's nothing unusual about the special flak jacket he is set to receive.
"I'm not looking for any protection," Scocos said. He added, "I don't think it's any different than anybody else."
Republicans have taken great delight, of late, in the Democratic debate over the primary for attorney general between Peg Lautenschlager and Kathleen Falk.
So here you go, Wisconsin. Your choices for governor next year are:
A two-faced hypocrite from Green Bay whose chief-of-staff took a bunch of freebies from a lobbyist who is under indictment for wire fraud and conspiracy
A college dropout from Milwaukee whose friend and fundraiser is under indictment for extortion and mail and wire fraud.
Maybe Spencer Black isn't such a bad option after all ...
One more thing for which we can thank Reps. Mark Green, Paul Ryan, F. Jim Sensebrenner and Tom Petri:
Attention, right-wing bloggers:
Bush Tones Down Attack on Iraq War CriticsThe whole story.
By TERENCE HUNT,
AP White House Correspondent
BEIJING - After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy.
"People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."
The president also praised Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., as "a fine man" and a strong supporter of the military despite the congressman's call for troop withdrawal as soon as possible. . .
"I heard somebody say, `Well, maybe so-and-so is not patriotic because they disagree with my position.' I totally reject that thought," Bush said.
"This is not an issue of who's patriotic and who's not patriotic," he said. "It's an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq."
Frank Rich in NY Times:
Read the whole column on Truthout.
If anyone needs further proof that we are racing for the exits in Iraq, just follow the bouncing ball that is Rick Santorum. A Republican leader in the Senate and a true-blue (or red) Iraq hawk, he has long slobbered over President Bush, much as Ed McMahon did over Johnny Carson. But when Mr. Bush went to Mr. Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania to give his Veterans Day speech smearing the war's critics as unpatriotic, the senator was M.I.A.
Mr. Santorum preferred to honor a previous engagement more than 100 miles away. There he told reporters for the first time that "maybe some blame" for the war's "less than optimal" progress belonged to the White House. This change of heart had nothing to do with looming revelations of how the new Iraqi "democracy" had instituted Saddam-style torture chambers. Or with the spiraling investigations into the whereabouts of nearly $9 billion in unaccounted-for taxpayers' money from the American occupation authority. Or with the latest spike in casualties. Mr. Santorum was instead contemplating his own incipient political obituary written the day before: a poll showing him 16 points down in his re-election race.
No sooner did he stiff Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania than he did so again in Washington, voting with a 79-to-19 majority on a Senate resolution begging for an Iraq exit strategy. He was joined by all but one (Jon Kyl) of the 13 other Republican senators running for re-election next year. They desperately want to be able to tell their constituents that they were against the war after they were for it.
They know the voters have decided the war is over, no matter what symbolic resolutions are passed or defeated in Congress nor how many Republicans try to Swift-boat Representative John Murtha, the marine hero who wants the troops out. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970.
The Ohio State political scientist John Mueller, writing in Foreign Affairs , found that "if history is any indication, there is little the Bush administration can do to reverse this decline." He observed that Mr. Bush was trying to channel L. B. J. by making "countless speeches explaining what the effort in Iraq is about, urging patience and asserting that progress is being made. But as was also evident during Woodrow Wilson's campaign to sell the League of Nations to the American public, the efficacy of the bully pulpit is much overrated."
Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006
Does the name Bob Ney ring a bell?
Sparta soldier killed in Iraq
When he was about 10 years old, Alex Gaunky stared up apprehensively at the climbing wall in the field house of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
He climbed up several feet, but fear brought him back down. He tried again, climbing a little higher, came back down and tried several more times, reaching a greater height each time, his father, David Gaunky, recalled Friday.
"He kept trying until he finally made it to the top, and pretty soon was trying the harder sections of wall," David Gaunky said in a telephone interview.
"He never let fear keep him from doing something that he wanted to do."
That persistent attitude drove Alex Gaunky to enlist in the Army fresh out of high school after the Navy turned him down because of a food allergy about a year and a half ago, said his father, who learned Friday morning of his son's death in Iraq.
The 19-year-old private first class from Sparta was a combat engineer with the Army's 101st Airborne Division. He was injured when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by a vehicle that came across a road and crashed into his convoy, his father said.
The soldier, who had been in Iraq for about 2 1/2 months, died Friday morning while being airlifted to Germany, his father said.
Like most Americans, I didn't know who Jack Murtha was until about 48 hours ago, when he stood up and spoke out on the war in Iraq.