Thursday, August 31, 2006

More weaseling from the Green Team

This email is classic. Mark Green's campaign manager complains about the Elections Board ruling and asks people to contribute $450,000 to "help Mark get even."

You'd almost think he was going to use it to replace the $467,000 in illegal PAC money the board has ordered him to return.

But Green says he's not giving the money back.

Instead, he claims what the Elections Board did is illegal, and blame it all on Doyle:
Are you as mad as I am at this illegal act by Jim Doyle? Want to help Mark get even?

I hope you’ll help us raise $450,000 for Mark in the next 72 hours using our secure Web site .

I know that is a lot of money, but if everyone who receives this e-mail can find a way to send us $50, we will be able to counter this illegal act by Jim Doyle and his allies on the board. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Jim Doyle is on the ropes. He knows his days are numbered and he’ll break any rule to try and hold on to his job. We can’t let him get away with it.

Let’s show Jim Doyle he can cheat all he wants, but we are still going to beat him. Click here and make your contribution using our secure Web site.
Pretty ironic coming from someone who's just been found to be breaking the rules and illegally transferring money. To Green, the ruling is just another opportunity to raise more money.

Here's the whole thing, for your amusement:

From the Desk of Campaign Manager Mark Graul

Dear fellow Green Teamer:

Jim Doyle has sunk to a new low. After four years of using our state government to help raise campaign cash, he has now corrupted the State Elections Board into trying to stack the deck against Mark Green.

As you probably heard, yesterday, Jim Doyle’s allies on the state Elections Board attempted to illegally strip over $450,000 from Mark’s campaign account.

Let me give you a little history behind their action. For 29 years, the state Elections Board has allowed federal candidates to convert their campaign accounts to a state committee. Five years ago, Democratic Congressman Tom Barrett did just that when he decided to run for governor.

Jim Doyle tried to stop then-Congressman Barrett by filing a complaint with the state Elections Board claiming Tom Barrett’s move was not allowed. On a unanimous and bipartisan vote, the board ruled that what Tom Barrett did was both allowed and proper.

So, just four years ago the state Elections Board allowed a Democrat to do exactly what Mark did by converting his federal campaign account to a state committee.

Now let’s fast forward to yesterday. Jim Doyle now controls the state Elections Board and his cronies voted on party lines to retroactively apply a rule they invented to try and steal money Mark had legally raised and converted to a state account.

Jim Doyle’s allies took this action despite the fact that their own attorney said that everything Mark did was completely in line with Wisconsin law. You can read the memo here where the state Elections Board attorney tells the board Mark is in compliance with state law.

Wisconsin’s leading campaign finance reform advocate, Senator Mike Ellis, called Jim Doyle’s ally’s actions “political shenanigans at its worst” and “an absolutely atrocious ruling, totally illegal.”

Like any fighter, Mark will not be deterred by Jim Doyle’s latest attempts to bend the rules. Instead, he will get even by working even harder to send Jim Doyle and his corruption plagued administration packing.

Are you as mad as I am at this illegal act by Jim Doyle? Want to help Mark get even?

I hope you’ll help us raise $450,000 for Mark in the next 72 hours using our secure Web site .

I know that is a lot of money, but if everyone who receives this e-mail can find a way to send us $50, we will be able to counter this illegal act by Jim Doyle and his allies on the board. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Jim Doyle is on the ropes. He knows his days are numbered and he’ll break any rule to try and hold on to his job. We can’t let him get away with it.

Let’s show Jim Doyle he can cheat all he wants, but we are still going to beat him. Click here and make your contribution using our secure Web site.

Together, we will rid our Wisconsin of Jim Doyle and the corrupt brand of politics he practices.

Thank you for your continued support.
UPDATE: The Libertarian member of the Elections Board has a very different version of events.

Elections Board shuts down PAC laundry,

but Green Team still won't come clean

This should be fun to watch.

The State Elections Board has told Congressman Mark Green he has 10 days to return $468,000 in contributions from federal political action committees which are not registered in Wisconsin.

That's almost half a million dollars in special interest money from PACs who could not legally give to his campaign for governor.

They didn't give a damn about the Wisconsin governor's race, but they cared about how Mark Green voted in the House. It's quite a list: Drug companies, Tom DeLay, the NRA, bankers, AOL Time Warner, Sony, Enron, Halliburton, WorldCom, Big Oil -- every bad actor who wants something from the federal government lined up to give money to Mark Green. Since he's been in politics, he's raised $1.75-million from special interests, and he transferred a half million dollars of it into his governor's race.

[This is the list of money he said he was transferring. Click the tab for Schedule 1B to see PACs.]

But which money he transferred, like $2,000 from DeLay, and which was "spent" (another $28,000 from DeLay), seems as arbitrary as Graul saying the PAC money's all spent.

Using what appeared to be a legal loophole, Green turned the illegal money into legal money -- he thought -- by running it through his federal House campaign committee and then transferring it to his state campaign account.

Wednesday, the Elections Board said that is illegal, touching off fireworks that may still be exploding right up until the November election.

I was preoccupied on Wednesday and haven't heard or read all of the responses to the board's decision, but I've seen a few. And they are quite entertaining. (Can't wait to see my local newspaper's spin; it's bound to be enlightening, but I am writing this in advance of getting my Journal Sentinel talking points.)

Republicans, of course, are screaming bloody murder, claiming corruption and who knows what all? (See Dad29, Boots & Sabers, Stepping Right Up, or any of the usual suspects. They all have their talking points.) It's the usual hope that if they make enough noise and send up enough smoke maybe the real issue will be obscured.

And there is a lot more heat than light in their commentary.

Mark Graul, Green's campaign manager, has a well-deserved reputation for being a weasel with words, always twisting things, and seldom giving the same answer twice in a row. He was off and running soon after the board's 5-2 vote. (More about that later, if I remember, but I'm told the Libertarian Party rep on the board led the charge.)

This early story from the Wisconsin Radio Network is a keeper. It's priceless, because it is classic Graul, saying one thing when he means the opposite:
Green campaign will comply with State Elections Board ruling

Officials with Congressman Mark Green's gubernatorial campaign say they'll abide by a decision from the State Elections Board, even if they don't agree. The Board is ordering Green's campaign to divest $468,000 they say was transferred illegally from the Congressman's federal campaign fund. Green campaign manager Mark Graul says the decision was made for the benefit of the Doyle campaign, and indicates the corruption present under his administration. He says it's an embarrassing moment for good government in Wisconsin. Graul also points to a memo from a State Elections Board attorney, which he says shows the ruling will not have an effect on available funding for the campaign. Graul says there are no plans to challenge the decision.
That sounded more than a little weaselly. And, sure enough, what we find a short time later is that Graul's idea of "abiding by the decision" is to ignore it.

He went back to "The dog spent my PAC money" defense, claiming the money was already spent, and referring to a memo by the board's attorney, George Dunst, to back up that claim. I've discussed the issue before; here's a link. reported to subscribers Wednesday afternoon:
Green campaign manager Mark Graul insisted the targeted PAC contributions had already been spent and there was no money left that would be subject to the order. Graul said the campaign based its belief on past EB precedence and the opinion of the board's legal counsel.

But Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy said the board rejected that stance today. He said if Green did not comply with the orders to divest itself of contributions from out-of-state PACs, the board would sue to enforce its actions...

Graul said the campaign hasn't received a copy of the ruling from the SEB yet and wouldn't speculate on what the campaign's next move might be. Attorney Don Millis, who represented Green at the hearing, said the campaign could seek an injunction to halt the board's decision.
In a post titled, "Dirty Money," the lawyer who posts as Dicta says:
The news might get even better if this is true:

Elections Board members and Don Millis, a former Elections Board chairman who represented the Green campaign at the meeting, said they expect the fight over the PAC donations to play out in front a judge.

A constant news story about a legal battle by Mark Green to hang on to dirty money is a political gift that would keep on giving right up to November 7.
I don't know who will win the legal battle, but it seems certain there will be one.

As I said at the beginning, this should be fun to watch.

Green says he'll ignore the ruling. He's probably trying to drain his campaign account in the next 10 days, before the lawsuit starts. When it gets to court, the first thing a judge is likely to do is order him to set the $467,000 aside until the case is decided. Dissing the Elections Board seems like a risky strategy for a candidate for governor.

: The board is too partisan? The Wisconsin State Journal says Green has no one to blame but Assembly Republicans -- I would add Green himself -- for not passing an ethics reform bill, SB-1, that would have changed it. Editorial.

UPDATE 3: Chris Cillizza of The Fix at WashPost considers the implications of the ruling, given Green/GOP bashing of Doyle on ethics and fundraising issues.

More weaseling from the Green Team.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The new face of the amendment

Photo: David Feldman.

Reynolds' bomb-throwing Fruitcake Brigade

State Sen. Tom Reynolds and his band of merry henchmen continue to spread wild charges about everyone in Wauwatosa in hopes of confusing and obscuring the real issue in Reynolds' reelection campaign.

Reynolds and his brain trust -- to use the term very loosely -- would like it to be a referendum on IslamoFascism in Wauwatosa, or something of the sort. But the questions before the voters in November are simple ones:

Does Tom Reynolds deserve to be reelected? Is he competent to serve? Does he represent your opinions?

There is a lot of evidence to the contrary, some of which is listed by Carrie Lynch at What's Left. She wonders whether he is even competent to vote, let alone hold office.

Gretchen Schuldt wishes he would just go away.

A lot of reasonable conservatives do, too.

Reynolds is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the conservative movement in Wisconsin. Even Republican radio host Charlie Sykes has publicly taken him to task for his association with anti-Catholic bigots.

The GOP has to be kicking itself for not fielding a primary opponent. But the party is a captive of the far-right, who helped Reynolds defeat Peggy Rosenzweig to win the seat four years ago. She was a RINO, a Republican in Name Only, in their eyes. But they could have found a real conservative who wasn't crazier than a bedbug to take on Reynolds this time, and they failed.

Reynolds' campaign is in the hands of two far-out fruitcakes, Bob Donahl and J.J. Blonien, whose idea of campaigning is to send out flaming e-mails, file complaints against anyone they can think of, and talk tough.

They're hoping to kick up enough dust, with phony charges about Reynolds' opponent, Jim Sullivan, to make the voters forget about Reynolds.

Reynolds ducked a debate with Sullivan on the pretext that there might be a video camera there to capture what he said and make him look foolish. He's quite capable of doing that himself, with or without a camera.

Instead of discussing any issues, the Reynolds campaign continues to launch bogus attacks -- first against Sullivan, recycling double-voting charges that were discredited long ago, now against the Wauwatosa city clerk for doing her job and correcting inaccuracies in the voter file when it came to her attention. Blonien and Dohnal also have filed a phony charge against Sullivan and his lawyer, for warning them they could face legal action if they keep spreading malicious lies.

It's a vicious cycle that probably won't end anytime before the election. They just keep blowing smoke.

They complained to the DA in 2000 when Sullivan was running for Tosa alderman, claiming he had voted twice. The DA's office investigated and found that claim had no merit. They revived the old, discredited charge this year, but when that was exposed as a Blonien-Dohnal dirty trick, they went after the city clerk and Sullivan's lawyer.

The complaint against the clerk was filed with the State Elections Board, who sent it to the DA, where it should have been filed. Odds are that the DA will investigate and dismiss the complaint, and then the Reynolds people will scream that the decision is political.

This whole thing is sheer lunacy.

Dohnal keeps sending me crazy emails saying the race is over, Sullivan is destroyed.

I have enough faith in the voters and the electoral process to believe that even in a district which is pretty heavily Republican, people will do the right thing in November and elect a state senator who does not embarrass them, and who might actually represent them. Party loyalty only goes so far, and I can't believe this isn't past the limit. We'll see.

UPDATE: Christine McLaughlin, blogging at WauwatosaNow,has a good assessment of the situation, including:
Apparently it's not about the truth. It's about tarring and feathering the other guy. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to put the death sentence into the hands of folks like this.

FRUITCAKE RESPONDS. Bob Dohnal emails with exactly the kind of message I was describing, apparently having no sense of irony or awareness that he is describing himself. Dohnal says:
I love your website articles, all the spicy language, the intellectual content.Remember Watergate. As this thing unravels day after day and the questionable claims of Ledesma come out it will push Sullivan out of the race. Doyle won't be far behind. People never learn, if you are honest and forthright you don't have to make up stories and then worry about then falling apart and then make the statements inoperative.
Precisely. I know you are, but what am I?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Don't ask, don't tell on gun issues

Another sign that the legislature doesn't exactly represent the citizens when it comes to gun issues:

Here's a group that has filed as a 527 with the IRS: Wisconsin Concealed Carry.

This from their website, under a list of endorsed candidates:
"Please note that there are other candidates and legislators who support our efforts but who, for a variety of very good reasons, do not want to be associated with our political action committee. These candidates and legislators have our silent support and our best wishes."
Hat tip: J. William Kraus.

Rating the raters: Fordham gets a D

Woe is us! Today's topline Journal Sentinel story says Wisconsin schools get a bad grade, a D:
The report being released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington uses harsh terms in critiquing the standards that are intended to guide instruction in Wisconsin schools.
Aside from a one liner, "Fordham is politically conservative," the story gives no background on the group.

It does mention, however, that Fordham did a similar study in 2000, when Wisconsin got a C-.

Here's what the author of a peer review, Gerald Bracey of UW-Milwaukee, had to say about the 2000 report:
The problem with the evaluations is a simple one: the states’ rankings for quality of standards are inverse to their performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). That is, the same states that have done the best job in the eyes of the Fordham report’s authors in implementing high standards have shown the poorest performance on widely accepted national tests for student achievement, and vice versa. These states have also performed poorly when compared to other nations.
So, the better states did in student achievement on national tests, the worse they were ranked by Fordham. Bracey's conclusion:
The Fordham Foundation has produced system for rating states’ standards, the validity of which is not at all obvious. The procedures for determining the rankings are unclear and, therefore, difficult to replicate. The qualifications of the "experts" whose expertise was used in some unspecified way is questionable. If the system had some immediately obvious merit, these objections would be of no import.

When one looks, however, at the most immediately obvious place for validating the system – the academic performance of the states – one finds absolutely no correlation. States with well received standards score low, states labeled as "irresponsible" because of their "lousy" standards score high. Taking this report seriously could well lead reformers down blind alleys or toward questionable ends.
Emphasis mine, of course.

An Xoff reader who knows how to Google offered a few links, which help to understand where our friends at the Fordham Foundation are coming from:

Milwaukee-based Rethinking Schools (yes, lefties) discussed Fordham on the first anniversary of Sept. 11:
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a conservative research group populated with former officials of the Reagan and Bush Administrations and headed by Reagan's former assistant education secretary Chester Finn, marked the anniversary by releasing a collection of essays, titled "September 11: What Our Children Need to Know."

The Fordham approach is profoundly anti-intellectual. For Fordham, the Sept. 11 attacks can be explained by "the presence of evil." And evil, like the devil, needs no explanation. In this self-serving, unscholarly approach, "we" get to be the good guys, because, of course, evil only attacks good. This is Popeye versus Bluto, not scholarship - and it certainly does not help our students think clearly about today's world.

The ideological blame game that Finn's foundation promotes has its own ugly political agenda. It seeks to attack teacher unions, ridicule sensitivity to issues of diversity, discrimination, or civil rights, and to intimidate teachers who dare to ask students to reflect critically on any aspect of American life.
Finally, here is how Fordham describes its mission:
We advance the reform of American education by:

--engaging in solid research and provocative analysis;

-- disseminating information and ideas that shape the debate;

-- supporting quality schools and organizations in Dayton, in Ohio, and across the nation;

-- sponsoring charter schools in Ohio and building their academic excellence; and

-- informing policy makers at every level about promising solutions to pressing education problems.
No surprise, then, that their 2000 report pimped for charter schools, as Bracey noted:
The report argues that the dangers of these inadequate standards reach beyond merely the public schools: "Standards-based reform done poorly could do great damage to market-style reform. Consider charter schools. In the 31 states that today have both mediocre-to-inferior academic standards and charter school laws, these new schools are finding themselves being held strictly accountable for reaching standards that are not altogether worth reaching."2

There is little evidence to date, however, that charter schools have been held accountable to academic standards.3 Performance questions surrounding actual operating charter schools have focused primarily on allegations that they have mismanaged money, while ignoring student learning and achievement.
With that background, I'd say the Fordham 2006 report itself is probably a D. It is certainly suspect.

UPDATE: Since great minds think alike, as it often happens, Seth Zlotocha, unbeknownst to me, had already posted a thoughtful comment on the same issue.

Iraq war is a state issue

John Nichols of the Capital Times writes that the war in Iraq is an issue in the governor's race, or certainly should be. I couldn't agree more, especially, as I've been pointing out, Congressman Mark Green has marched in step with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld every step of the way, but has been hiding it lately. I, too, would like to hear more from Jim Doyle about it. Nichols says:
During a Wisconsin Public Radio discussion last week about the impact of the war in Iraq on this year's elections, I was asked by a caller about the governor's race. The caller was almost apologetic, wondering if perhaps the inquiry was appropriate for a discussion of foreign policy.

In fact, it was entirely appropriate, and I was pleased to address the line of "reasoning" that says candidates for state constitutional offices ought not discuss the costly mess in Iraq because debates about military affairs are reserved solely for federal campaigns.

Let's be clear: The war is a state issue.

The occupation of Iraq, which has taken the lives of dozens of Wisconsinites, which has severely injured hundreds of this state's sons and daughters and which has dispatched Wisconsin National Guard units to the Middle East for excessive stretches of time, is costing Wisconsin a fortune.

While the worst costs of the war are human, the economic impact should never be neglected.

According to the National Priorities Project, the cost of the Iraq war will reach $318 billion by the end of this summer. That breaks down to $2,844 for every American household or $1,075 for every American.

The total cost to Wisconsinites for maintaining George Bush's war will surpass $5 billion next month.

In fact, by the end of September when the gubernatorial campaign will hit its stride Wisconsinites will have paid $5,079,600,000 toward a Bush administration project that is rapidly degenerating into civil war and that has no end in sight.

What could Wisconsin spend more than $5 billion on?

Health care, education, housing, aid to cities and farms, cutting property taxes the list is endless.

Unfortunately, aside from Green Party gubernatorial candidate Nelson Eisman, the contenders for the state's top job are not talking much about the war, or its incredible cost to Wisconsin. Republican Mark Green is a cheerleader for any and every foreign policy blunder the Bush White House makes he even voted to allow the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq. And Gov. Jim Doyle, the Democrat who in the Vietnam era was an anti-war firebrand, has been troublingly vague about this conflict.

It's a far cry from the early 1930s, when a young Republican governor made the case for dramatically increasing state aid to those left unemployed by the Great Depression with impassioned speeches that recalled how the country had barely a decade earlier found billions of dollars to spend on World War I. Phil La Follette told legislators that, if the resources could be found to drag the United States into that senseless European struggle and to enrich the munitions merchants who emptied the federal treasury in the name of "patriotism" then surely it should be possible to pull together the money needed to create a jobs program for Wisconsin.

The genius of Phil La Follette, as Jonathan Kasparek notes in his fine new biography of the man, was that the progressive Republican governor had what Kasparek refers to as a "profound grasp of the meaning of America."

La Follette recognized that the struggle to right the course of Wisconsin could not be unlinked from the struggle to right the course of America.

Surely, that remains as much the case today as it was in the 1930s. And those who seek the governorship this year particularly the incumbent would do well to acknowledge this fact.

A closer look at Green job 'plan'

Paul Soglin looks beyond the rhetoric in Congressman Mark Green's new economic development "Plan," and finds a lot of omission, deception, and misinformation. Suprised?

UPDATE: The Appleton Post Crescent notes that Green wants to consolidate a lot of power in the governor's office, and asks the editorial question:
If (Green) loses, is this plan still a good idea, with Doyle in charge? Green's answer should be fascinating.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Another poll has Doyle up

I am not a huge fan of the Wall Street Journal-Zogby poll, but will share the latest results with you, for what it's worth, since the Green Team probably won't put out a press release on this one.

They have Doyle up 49.7 to 43.1. No poll in the world is that precise. Greenies will probably celebrate that Doyle's under 50. (It only has Herb Kohl at 50.7, so factor that in.)

Standing in the anti-gay gap

As a Christian Leader, are you prepared to "stand in the gap" on the issue of homosexuality?

That's what homophobes Focus on the Family and Family Research Institute of Wisconsin want to know, as they plan a six and a half hour training seminar Tuesday in Milwaukee.

It's not a good sign that the well-funded Focus on the Family, James Dodson's group, is getting involved in the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions. But it's not surprising that the locals have had to appeal for national help, given the strong campaign Fair Wisconsin is waging against the amendment.

Seth Zlotocha has the lowdown.

SpongeJohn GardPants probably won't be in attendance, since he's busy campaigning to take his anti-tolerance message to Washington. Wouldn't it make you proud to have him representing Wisconsin in Congress?

How many more?


Pair of Wisconsin natives killed in Iraq

Two 21-year-old soldiers from Wisconsin were killed by roadside bombs in Iraq, their families said Monday.

Army Pfc. Shaun Novak, of Two Rivers, was killed Sunday in an explosion while he was riding in an armored vehicle, his aunt Sheila Halverson said.

Cpl. Kenneth Cross, of Superior, was also killed by a roadside bomb Sunday in Iraq, according to Gerald Nelson, a cousin.

Cross was recently married and was living in Steilacoom, Wash., with his wife. He had served one year in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Baghdad. It was not known what unit he was serving in or where he was based in the U.S. His parents, Michael and Elizabeth Cross, live in Superior.

Halverson did not know what unit Novak was serving in, but said it was out of Fort Hood, Texas, and he had been in the infantry...

He enlisted in the Army in 2004 and was shipped to Iraq in December of 2005, his aunt said.

"Shaun felt like he should serve his country. We're all very proud of him," said Halverson, adding that his grandfather had also served in the military.

...Novak enjoyed working on cars outside of school, said high school principal Ridgley Schott.

"He was all excited about driving a Hummer" in the military, added Ellen Johnson, the high school's attendance secretary whose son Kurt was a Novak's friend.

Schott said Novak had done particularly well in business education at Two Rivers High School.

"He was a quiet, solid student," the principal said.

"If he was a soldier like he was a student, he did it well."

Johnson said Novak had last visited home in April.

"He was glad to be there and do what he had to do" in Iraq, she said. "But he was looking forward to coming home."

Novak had expected to return from Iraq for good at Thanksgiving, Halverson said, but was supposed to serve another year in the Army at Fort Hood...

Novak and Cross become the 59th and 60th Wisconsin residents to die as a result of service in Iraq.

Got jobs? Need money? Call Gov. Green

Congressman Mark Green knows how to create more jobs in Wisconsin. Just put him in charge. His position paper is heavy on government involvement to stimulate business and create jobs. After protecting our shores and delivering the mail, government's other job is to hand out taxpayer money to businesses.

And who better to hand it out than the governor himself? Some of Green's ideas:
"Putting the governor in charge of job creation..."

Replace the Department of Commerce with a public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) that will move at the speed of business. In order to attract businesses, the new WEDC will operate like and move at the speed of business. It will be led by a nonpartisan, 12-member Board of Directors, chaired by Governor Green, and a cabinet level CEO. The other members of the board will include industry leaders from all sectors and sizes of business, labor and the University of Wisconsin System. The WEDC will still be subject to Wisconsin’s open meetings and ethics laws.

Establish a JOB LINE that rings in the governor’s office. Mark Green will put a JOB LINE phone in the governor’s office so that anyone looking to create new jobs in Wisconsin will only need to know one number – Governor Green’s.
As Dave Diamond observes:
For a guy who's been running a campaign critical of the Governor's involvement in various business deals, Congressman Green sure wants to give the governor a whole lot of authority to conduct business deals. Irony overload.
That's right on point, at a time when Republicans are screaming bloody murder every time Gov. Jim Doyle's schedule shows he has even met with anybody doing business in Wisconsin.

UPDATE: The Doyle campaign says Green's main job creation experience is in sending jobs overseas.

Voter Suppression 101

I hate to give Congressman Mark Green and the Wisconsin Republicans any more ideas about how to suppress voter turnout, but this Wausau Daily Herald story is fascinating:
Kids Voting a lesson in democracy

How many votes must a candidate receive in order to become president if an election is decided by the House of Representatives?

If the two houses of Congress cannot agree on adjournment, who sets the time?

Those are just two of the 68 questions that were asked of voters in the South before literacy tests designed to discourage blacks from voting were banned by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Some eighth-grade classes will be answering those same questions this fall at Horace Mann Middle School as they study democracy, suffrage and citizenship through the Kids Voting USA program.

"That will be something new we will try as part of the program," said Al Betry, social studies department chairman at Horace Mann Middle School in the Wausau School District.

"I think what it does is it really brings history alive," he said. "It makes them put themselves in someone's shoes who was being discriminated because of racial or ethnic issues."

Whites did not have to take the test, even if they were illiterate, because they were "grandfathered in."

Ask Paul Bucher

Something you're dying to ask Paul Bucher? Here's your chance: An online chat at 2 p.m. today. Other AG candidates will follow at JS online. I assume they screen the questions, or I might have a few.

Xoff unplugged

When Joni Mitchell wrote, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone," she wasn't talking about electricity.

But being without it for two hours this morning was a rude reminder of just how totally dependent we are. Except for a cell phone, I was virtually out of commission. Even the phones require power.

I ended up out on the deck reading a book, certainly not a bad thing.

But I'm clearly not ready to go off the grid.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thou shalt not fly a foreign flag

Local conservative bloggers Patrick McIlheran and Jessica McBride are lionizing the mayor of Arcadia, Wis. for standing up on illegal immigration. Brew City Brawler has already examined Paddy Mac's Sunday column -- and found it wanting -- so I'l leave that to him.

One of the things Arcadia's mayor wants to do is to "regulate the flying of foreign flags."

They are way ahead of him in Colorado, as Matt Rothschild of The Progressive reports. A world geography teacher who displayed foreign flags in his classroom is in hot water and will leave his job.

Is that where we're heading? It surely could be a good revenue enhancer in Milwaukee, especially during the ethnic festival season.

New Orleans: Right from the source

On the first anniversary of Katrina's landfall, the news media are filled with stories about New Orleans a year later.

If you want to get it unfiltered, here are a couple of sites: Everything New Orleans, and Looka!, described by the proprietor as:
Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.
I've been checking in now and then for the last year, and if you love New Orleans, it's well worth a visit. He also has a website The Gumbo Pages:
a personal web site that's gotten out way of hand; a huge, labyrinthine and delightfully overgrown compendium of knowledge about New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine and culture, and lots of other fun and fabulous stuff; dedicated to the enjoyment of great food, drink and music, and to the preservation of New Orleans culture.
Many people still desperately need help, of course. There are many ways to donate. This is one of my favorites, connected to the venerable Tipitina's uptown music club, which helps New Orleans musicians and is about to deliver $500,000 worth of new instruments to Crescent City schools.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

-- Don Wright, Palm Beach Post, via Cagle.

Uncovering the under-covered DA's race

In other news, the Shepherd Express revealed that there is a Democratic primary for Milwaukee County district attorney, and actually asked the candidates about some issues. Read it here.

In fairness, WISN-TV has covered the race and run a segment with the candidates, but that's about it. The Journal Sentinel has run one story which shed little light on the race, and which Jay Bullock dissected as an example of what's wrong with the media. Expect an editorial soon complaining that the candidates haven't talked about the issues.

New blog off to fast start

Progressive Majority Wisconsin launched its new website and blog on Friday, and already has triggered a story in the Racine Journal Times raising some questions for County Exec and State Senate candidate William McReynolds.

McReynolds,a former sheriff, was also part-owner of a company that sold material to the sheriff's department.

Quote, unquote

"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin."
-- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), quoted by the Orlando Sentinel

Hat tip: Political Wire.

Right-wingers rate the talkers

Charlie Sykes says it's making him blush that he came in first in an online poll by the conservative Badger Blog Alliance, asking people's favorite talk show host in southern Wisconsin. A rather limited category. But he wasn't too embarrassed to put up a link to the results.

Anyway, Sykes is first, ahead of rival Mark Belling at WISN.

Remember the audience here. These are readers of the right-wing blogs.

If Charlie's blushing, Jessica McBride must be weeping. Even among that crowd, she comes in behind unabashed liberal Kathleen Dunn of public radio.

The results.

So, who's your favorite blogger in Bay View?

'The dog ate my PAC money'

It's hard to predict what the State Elections Board will do Wednesday about the massive amounts of special interest money Congressman Mark Green laundered into his governor's campaign through a legal loophole, which has since been closed.

The board's attorney, George Dunst,has written a memo that says the Green campaign is in compliance with the law:
Dunst said in the memo that the money in question was raised by Green as a member of Congress and therefore not counted under the limit for candidates for governor. The clock on counting contributions for Green's race for governor started on Jan. 1, 2005, Dunst said.

Wisconsin has no law that counts money raised in one campaign as donations received for another when it is carried over, Dunst said.
However, Green didn't move any of the federal money into his governor's account until Jan. 25, 2005 -- after the clock had started. And he didn't carry over the money, he moved it into a brand new state campaign account.

Sometimes the board takes Dunst's advice, and sometimes it goes in entirely the opposite direction.(Some critics, when he disagrees with them, say the "t" in his name should be silent. But when he agrees with them, he's a genius.)

My guess is that this time the board will give Green a pass. He transferred $1.3-million in contributions from his federal House campaign to his state campaign for governor. But a new rule, which took effect last Dec. 1, will forbid others from doing the same thing in the future. Given that he's the last one to use the loophole, the board will probably let it go, even though that will allow him to raise almost twice as much special interest PAC money as Jim Doyle.


The worst thing in Dunst's memo was the suggestion that the board couldn't enforce PAC limits anyway because Green has probably already spent the money. The amount in question is $468,000.

It's an argument politicians use when they don't want to do the right thing and return a tainted contribution. Green and Congressman Paul Ryan both used that song and dance about PAC money they'd gotten from Tom DeLay. But Green eventually found a way to dispose of the dirty $30,000.

As long as Green has more than $468,000 in his account -- which he does -- it's hard to argue that he already spent the money. On June 30, he had $3.1-million in the bank.

I suppose there could be a first-in, first-out theory, which says the first dollar you spend is the first one that you received. But I've never seen that principle argued by Green's campaign or any other.

There may be other, legal reasons to say Green can do what he did. But "I already spent the money" should not be one of them.

It ranks right up there with "The dog ate my homework."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ethics Board gets its dander up

This might be the toughest thing the State Ethics Board has ever said, in an exchange reported in the WisPolitics Report to subscribers:

It is logic-defying, incumbent-protecting decisions like this that have led many, including myself, to call for the dissolution of the Ethics Board and the creation of a new entity to monitor elections and elected officials.

-- Republican candidate for attorney general J.B. Van Hollen, after the Ethics Board unanimously cleared AG Peg Lautenschlager of wrongdoing in the TAP Pharmaceuticals lawsuit settlement. She had given a $50,000 from the settlement to Wisconsin Citizen Action.

It is disturbing that a candidate for attorney general, in order to jockey for a political advantage, would want a government agency to ignore the facts and misapply the law.

-- The Ethics Board’s response to Van Hollen.

The stem cell breakthrough, Day 2

I suggested yesterday that the apparent new breakthrough in stem cell research, which harvests cells without destroying embryos, could offer a lifeline to Congressman Mark Green, whose opposition to embryonic stem cell research threatens to sink his campaign for governor.

Republican radio host Charlie Sykes agrees. He says Mark Green and George Bush should, "Declare victory. Defuse the issue. Move on."

I'm betting that's not likely.

The Catholic Bishops, who pull Green's strings, are still opposed.

And Wisconsin Right to Life, which waffled momentarily yesterday, is back on its usual path with a strident news release today:
After consulting with researchers and others regarding the accuracy of the scientists' claims, Wisconsin Right to Life Executive Director Barbara Lyons said:

... "The published experiment the scientists refer to ended up in the destruction of all of the embryos involved. They DID NOT simply extract one cell from an embryo ...they plucked the embryos cell at a time."

Even if the scientists had conducted the experiment exactly as it has been portrayed (extract only one cell from an embryo and let the embryo live and grow), there is still a great risk of harm or death to the embryo. The way it has been portrayed, there would be no risk to the embryo. That is not the case.

There is also a chance that the one cell could form a new embryo, a twin of the original embryo, if put in the right conditions.

"If the scientific community and the biotech industry are really serious about alleviating disease and devastating conditions, they need to stop killing human embryos to obtain stem cells and concentrate on using adult stem cells that have shown success in over 72 diseases and conditions.

The time they are spending trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public should be spent on research that will actually help people," stated Lyons.
This is the group that calls Mark Green one of its heroes. This is his base.

It's safe to say that Extreme Green has his marching orders. He'll try to sound reasonable on the issue, but don't look for him to embrace this new breakthrough. Barbara Lyons & Co. would never forgive him.

More reasons to leave Wisconsin

As Wisconsin considers whether to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing domestic partnerships, this story speaks for itself:
UW researcher leaves over partner benefits

MADISON - A promising University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who has won millions of dollars in grants says he is leaving the school, citing its lack of health insurance benefits for his domestic partner.

Rob Carpick, associate professor of engineering, said he will depart for the University of Pennsylvania, which offers domestic partner benefits, at the end of the year. He's taking with him a research portfolio that has won $3.4 million in grants from the National Science Foundation, branches of the U.S. military and private companies since 2000.

"After six and one-half years of working very hard, I found it's problematic to work in an environment where you are not treated equally," Carpick, 37, said in an interview with the Associated Press. "Fortunately, there are other entities that are more enlightened than the state of Wisconsin on this issue and the University of Pennsylvania is one of them."
Should we celebrate? Two fewer gays in the state? Stem cell researchers will also be packing their bags soon, if hardliners in the legislature have their way. There are a lot of reasons we're pushing people out of Wisconsin that have nothing to do with the state's tax ranking.

UPDATE: George Roberts's comment notes, there is quite a hoo-ha about this issue in the comments to a Dennis York post.

This is the FBI! Did you say dynamite?

An Illinois man's suggestion -- at a public hearing -- that the Army Corps of Engineers blow up a dam brought him a visit from the FBI, who considered him a terrorism suspect.

The NY Times first reported on the bizarre sequence of events on Sunday:
On July 25, Jim Bensman of Alton, Ill., attended a public meeting on the proposed construction of a bypass channel for fish at a dam on the Mississippi River. Less than a week later, he was under investigation by the F.B.I. — the victim, depending on how you look at it, of either a comedy of errors or alarming antiterror zeal.

The meeting was organized by the Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains Mississippi River navigation systems, including the Melvin Price Lock and Dam in East Alton, Ill., where it is considering construction of a fish passage.

At the meeting, Mr. Bensman, a coordinator with Heartwood, an environmental organization, suggested the corps simply destroy the dam. It was an idea the corps itself had considered. In fact, a photograph of an exploding dam was included in the corps’ PowerPoint presentation, explosive demolition being by far the most common method of dam removal.

Mr. Bensman said he had long criticized the system of locks and dams as environmentally damaging and an unfair government subsidy benefiting boat traffic over railroads. “I’ve been fighting these things for decades,” he said.

But news accounts of the hearing did not put it quite like that. One newspaper said simply that he “would like to see the dam blown up.”

On July 31, he said, he got a telephone call from someone who identified himself as Matt Federhofer, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation...

When Mr. Bensman learned what the call was about, “it was just kind of disbelief,” he said. “How could anyone be so utterly stupid as to think that was a terrorist threat?” For one thing, he said, it would be ridiculous for a would-be terrorist to announce explosive intentions at a public meeting, much less a meeting sponsored by an arm of the military.

But when the agent said he wanted to visit him at home, Mr. Bensman became frightened. “I was thinking, I need to talk to an attorney,” Mr. Bensman recalled. “And he said, ‘Well, O.K., I will put you down as not cooperating.’ ”

That was when Mr. Bensman got angry. “I know what Bush is doing with all these secret programs spying on the so-called terrorists, all these provisions in the Patriot Act that I think crosses the line, being able to spy on a suspected terrorist without the check and balance of a court or a judge,” he said. “That’s just something that really worries you.”

He said he also remembered that the F.B.I. had a history of spying on civil rights, antiwar and environmental activists. He said one reason he knew his caller was a genuine agent was that he could cite items in Mr. Bensman’s own F.B.I. file.

Mr. Bensman said the agent had told him that someone from the corps had asked the F.B.I. to investigate him. “I was saying, ‘What in the world?’ There is no way anyone in the corps could reasonably think I was a terrorist threat. They know me.”

Kevin Bluhm, the corps official who moderated the meeting, said he doubted the call came from the corps. Though he conceded that Mr. Bensman had long been a thorn in its collective side, “he’s not malicious, oh no,” Mr. Bluhm said. “This was just Jim. He comes to a lot of our meetings, and he is anti a lot of the stuff that we do.”

Mr. Bluhm, who leads the corps’ public communication efforts along the Mississippi, said he could understand why the F.B.I. felt obliged to check Mr. Bensman out, but “if they would have asked me first, I would have said no, there’s not that kind of risk there.”
In a subsequent story, we learn that the reason the FBI got involved was because someone from the Corps of Engineers fingered Bensman. Just following procedure, the Corps says:
A spokesman for the corps district, Alan Dooley, said he believed that the brouhaha was a result of a security officer’s following Army regulations. Mr. Bensman attended a corps hearing on July 25 on alternatives for improving fish movement in the Mississippi River at the Melvin Price Lock and Dam in East Alton, Ill.

Constructing a channel was one proposal. Another, which Mr. Bensman endorses, was removing the dam, an alternative considered by the corps and a project that would normally be accomplished using explosives.

Mr. Dooley said a report in an Alton newspaper, The Telegraph, described Mr. Bensman as advocating that the dam be blown up, which, technically, he did.

Mr. Dooley said that when the district security manager, Kent Hayes, learned of the report, he “looked at Army regulations concerning possible threats to public facilities, and it was his determination that it should be forwarded to the appropriate federal agency, which in this case was the F.B.I.”

Today, the Times editorializes: A (Terror) Fish Story. Sleep soundly. We're on Orange Alert.

Gov's race #9 on national list

Wisconsin's governor's race drops to #9 this week on the The Fix lineup in the Washington Post, by Chris Cillizza, down from #7. There are so many hot races that he expanded the top 10 to 15 this week. Rankings are on the basis of those most likely to switch parties.

9. Wisconsin: Incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle (D) appears to have reversed his earlier free fall with a television campaign that touts his accomplishments while linking Rep. Mark Green (R) to President George W. Bush. A recent Research 2000 poll showed Doyle with a 48 percent to 38 percent lead, although another poll -- conducted by Republican firm Strategic Vision -- showed Green with a 45 percent to 44 percent lead. As always, our advice is to average the two polls and see what you get. By our calculation that produces a mid-single digit edge for Doyle. (Previous ranking: 7)

Riley out; massive vote fraud confirmed

Donovan Riley has pulled the plug on his State Senate race, the Spice Boys report.

Riley, facing allegations of double voting, had not been actively campaigning but now has made it official, apparently -- although Spivak and Bice seem to be the only ones who got this statement Thursday afternoon:
I am no longer seeking election to the State Senate," said the 69-year-old former hospital executive. "During the campaign, a question was raised about an election that occurred years ago. It is important for me to focus on helping address that question and doing so is incompatible with running a campaign.

"I intend to return to private life and retirement."
Expect Waukesha DA Paul Bucher to stage a circus trial, and Republicans to call for massive changes in election laws, like forbidding people to move from Illinois to Wisconsin within 60 days of an election.

Riley still hasn't been charged or convicted. If he is guilty,it's a single, isolated case, discovered not by the election system but, most likely, by a professional opposition research firm hired to investigate Riley.

It's hardly a sign of widespread fraud that requires drastic measures. But try to tell that to Mark Green & Co. They'll be all over this like green on grass. (No, I'm not suggesting Green uses grass, just didn't want to say white on rice.)

Democrats must support voter fraud.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quote, unquote

"... the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results."
-- Lt. General Gregory Newbold, retired director of operations at the Pentagon's military joint staff, quoted in a new Jamie Wall for Congress television commercial.

Why Reynolds ducked debate

One Wisconsin Now offers top five reasons State Sen. Tom Reynolds cut and ran from a debate with his opponent, Jim Sullivan.

And they didn't even use any of these:

-- He was watching the Little League World Series on ESPN.

-- It was the night he had plans to pick the loose threads out of the carpet.

-- He thought it was a costume party. (That for fans of Start the Revolution Without Me.

-- He couldn't find his toupee.

-- Frankly, my dear, he just didn't give a damn about his constituents.

OWN Action also has a video of the event.

-- Vince O'Farrell, Illawarra (Australia) Mercury, Melbourne Express, via Cagle.

McBride still on the warpath in AG race

If you missed the Jessica McBride-Owen Robinson exchange last week, there's always her post on Josh Schroeder's blog up Rice Lake way. He's for this Van Hollen guy; she's not.

This intra-party warfare is always fun to watch -- especially when it's the other party.

Hat tip: Brew City Brawler.

Another chance for Extreme Green

A new breakthrough in stem cell research poses a new dilemma for opponents of embryonic stem cell research: What's their excuse now?

Never fear. They've already come up with some, as Seth Zlotocha explains.

Here's another chance for Congressman Mark Green, who keeps insisting he supports stem cell research, to prove it. Zlotocha asks the right question:
Green has said in the past, as Bush did, that he merely opposes the use of public funds for research that destroys embryos. Since this research does not destroy embryos, does that mean he's willing to support it with public resources -- or is he going to raise the bar on his opposition like the president?
My guess? He'll do whatever George Bush and the Catholic bishops tell him to do. As usual.

Has Green found a lifeline to pull himself out of his politically fatal stem cell problem? The health of Green's campaign is seriously threatened by his know-nothing position, and could use a miracle cure. A Wisconsin Technology Network article quotes his press guy:
Luke Punzenberger, press secretary for the Green Campaign, said the Republican gubernatorial candidate is encouraged by the news. "He thinks this is a very promising development in stem cell research, and it's clear that we may be able to conduct this research without grappling with some of these signficant ethical questions," Punzenberger said.
Green himself was probably "too busy campaigning" to even read the paper and find out about the breakthrough. If they follow the campaign's usual M.O., tomorrow they'll backtrack.

Pluto loses status.

Folkbum has more.

Drunk drivers of the world, unite!

-- Susan Lampert Smith, in a Wisconsin State Journal column, says the drunk driver vote could be crucial in the attorney general primary:
If every drunk driver in Wisconsin voted for Peg Lautenschlager, she'd win the race for attorney general hands down.

Heck, even if the people who've actually been caught the way the attorney general was when she was arrested for drunken driving in early 2004 gave her a sympathy vote, she'd wallop her primary opponent, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

I bring this up not to humiliate Lautenschlager - she has Falk and the Republicans to do that already - but to point out that she's got a lot of company here in the state that beer made famous.

State statistics from Jan. 1, 2001, show that nearly 300,000 licensed Wisconsin drivers had at least one drunken driving conviction. That's larger than the population of Madison, Wisconsin's second-biggest city. And how those drivers feel about punishment for their dangerous habit could make this contest interesting.
We may have a whole new voter demographic developing here. Besides asking your age, religion, and income, pollsters will start asking you whether you're a drunk driver, and if you've ever been caught.

Direct mail lists will be developed and special campaign pieces targeted to drunk drivers. And then a massive get-out-the-vote effort -- which probably should include an offer of rides to the polls.

Only in Wisconsin.

On a related note, it made me swell with pride to read that Milwaukee is the drunkest city in the US. Coming just after UW-Madison lost its title as the number one party school, we needed a shot. Or a few shots. (Does 10 or 12 beers and a few shots sound like a lot, one drinker asks a reporter.) Makes you proud, ain'a? More members of the Drunk Drivers of Wisconsin political action committee coming up soon.

Even W loses optimism on Iraq

Bubble Boy Bush has caught on that things aren't going so hot in Iraq. But, hey, if we hadn't gone in there, maybe there'd be a lot of people dead, or a civil war, or something. The report:
Bush's New Iraq Argument: It Could Be Worse

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer

Of all the words that President Bush used at his news conference this week to defend his policies in Iraq, the one that did not pass his lips was "progress."

For three years, the president tried to reassure Americans that more progress was being made in Iraq than they realized. But with Iraq either in civil war or on the brink of it, Bush dropped the unseen-progress argument in favor of the contention that things could be even worse.

The shifting rhetoric reflected a broader pessimism that has reached into even some of the most optimistic corners of the administration -- a sense that the Iraq venture has taken a dark turn and will not be resolved anytime soon. Bush advisers once believed that if they met certain benchmarks, such as building a constitutional democracy and training a new Iraqi army, the war would be won. Now they believe they have more or less met those goals, yet the war rages on.

While still committed to the venture, officials have privately told friends and associates outside government that they have grown discouraged in recent months. Even the death of al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq proved not to be the turning point they expected, they have told associates, and other developments have been relentlessly dispiriting, with fewer signs of hope.

Bush acknowledged this week that he has been discouraged as well. "Frustrated?" he asked. "Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times and they're difficult times and they're straining the psyche of our country."

Fudging the numbers

Today's front page Journal Sentinel story on independent spending on television is accurate -- as far as it goes. But it won't be accurate for long. Here's the report:
Ads drown out the candidates
Independent groups outspend Green, Doyle in TV spots

With independent groups outspending the two candidates on television, the Wisconsin governor's race illustrates a fact of life about modern campaigns.

The candidates are just one set of voices among many, sharing the airwaves with allies and enemies outside their control.

The two contenders for governor, incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle and GOP challenger Mark Green, have spent a total of $778,000 this year on broadcast TV in the state's three biggest markets.

Meanwhile, five independent groups have combined to spend $969,000.
However, that ignores what's about to happen, as illustrated in this recent report from WisPolitics:
Gov. Jim Doyle has reserved airtime for nearly $4.8 million in TV ads in markets from Milwaukee to Duluth, according to numbers compiled by WisPolitics and a campaign observer.

The figures show Doyle has about $4.2 million worth of airtime on network TV affiliates, and almost $600,000 of cable advertising.
And Green is now up on TV and says he will stay on until the election, 11 weeks away. His spending will probably be close to Doyle's when all is said and done.

What the candidates' campaigns spend will dwarf what any outside group does. The imbalance exists now because the campaigns have just started their TV buys.

This was a story that had to be written now, because it soon won't be true.

Quote, unquote

"It’s not a good sign when an elected official, trusted by his constituents to serve the public good, refuses to go on the record and talk about where he stands on the issues.”
-- State Senate candidate Jim Sullivan, at a one-man debate where Tom Reynolds was a no-show.

Bob Kasten and the dustbin of history

The 1980 election was tragic for American liberals. Nationally, conservatives targeted vulnerable lefties and ran well-funded campaigns that resulted in a liberal bloodbath. The Reagan landslide was the final wave that put Republicans over the top and gave them control of the Senate.

In one night, we lost Birch Bayh, John Culver, Frank Church, George McGovern, Warren G. Magnuson and Gaylord Nelson. Almost the only survivor who was targeted was Alan Cranston of California.

We're reminded of that in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article pointing out that the sons of Birch Bayh and John Culver -- and of Jimmy Carter, who lost to Reagan -- are all in the political mix this year.

For Wisconsin Democrats like me, to whom Gaylord Nelson was an icon, what made the loss especially hard to swallow was that Nelson lost to Bob Kasten, a lackluster politician whom we thought -- and hoped -- we had seen the last of when he lost a GOP primary for governor to Lee Dreyfus in a stunning 1978 upset.

Kasten reportedly celebrated his victory over Nelson so hard that he was barely able to speak an intelligible word -- or stand up -- when it finally became clear he had won. He went on to distinguish himself as a drunk driver and, after losing to Russ Feingold in 1992, reportedly found work as an arms dealer. Classy guy.

One critic who reviewed by biography of Nelson said I should have sought out more negative opinions, perhaps interviewed Kasten. I didn't interview Kasten for a reason: He wouldn't rise to the level of a pimple on Nelson's rear end.

Maybe it's because he beat Nelson, or because the first campaign I ever ran was against Kasten, but whatever the reason I still detest Kasten so much that I have probably run on to excess and ruined this observation by David Shribman, who wrote the article:
But -- and we can see this clearer in 2006 than we could in 1980 -- the most important part of that election was who won. Many of the winners turned out to be ephemeral characters, of course, remarkable mainly for how peripheral and idiosyncratic they were. No list of Senate greats would include Bob Kasten of Wisconsin, Jeremiah Denton of Alabama, Paula Hawkins of Florida, Mack Mattingly of Georgia, Steven D. Symms of Idaho, Alfonse D'Amato of New York or John P. East of North Carolina. Not one of them is in politics today, nor remembered for much of anything.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reynolds chickens out.

As predicted.

Lehman lets another one get away

From the Daily Reporter:
$330 million power plant planned in Kansas

Emporia, KS – Westar Energy Inc. officials announced plans Tuesday to build a new 600 megawatt electric generating plant near Emporia that is aimed at meeting demands during peak periods.

The natural-gas-fired plant, with a cost of $330 million, will begin operating by summer 2008, initially generating up to 300 megawatts. Westar expects to break ground on the plant next summer.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said it will launch a radio commercial blaming State Rep. John Lehman of Racine for the plant not being built in Wisconsin.

"First Lehman let the Honda plant get away, and now this," WMC Jim Pugh said. "Next thing you know someone will be building things in California."

The Iraq-9/11 disconnection

A Capital Times editorial:
The Iraq-9/11 disconnection

Just to confirm for any Republican strategists who might still be thinking about suggesting that the United States needed to invade and occupy Iraq as part of a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, here is what President Bush said when the issue arose at this week's press conference.

Question: (What did Iraq have to do with) the attacks upon the World Trade Center?

Bush: Nothing.

Green cuts and runs from Iraq caucus

Congressman Mark Green has cut and run from the Victory in Iraq Caucus he co-chairs in the House of Representatives.

Someone much more familiar with Green's House webpage than I says that the caucus used to be featured on his official House website. There was a link with an Iraqi flag with "Victory in Iraq" on it.

On his website today, there is literally no mention of his being the co-chair, or even being a member of the caucus. He lists the following:

Caucus Membership:

Congressional Autism Caucus, Republican Housing Opportunity Caucus, Coast Guard Caucus, Reserve Components Caucus, Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, Public Pension Reform Caucus, Pro-Life Caucus, Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, Defense Group, Rural Caucus, Great Lakes Task Force, Sportsmen's Caucus, Produce Caucus, Privacy Caucus, Western Caucus

Elsewhere on the site, his bio offers this:
As a member of the House Judiciary and International Relations Committees, Green is actively involved in our nation's policymaking in the war on terrorism, working to craft effective national strategies for fighting terrorists both at home and abroad. He played a role in successful efforts to create a new Department of Homeland Security, dramatically reform the U.S. immigration system, and redesign counterterrorism laws and procedures with the USA PATRIOT Act. He has fought to boost budgets for intelligence, defense and law enforcement antiterrorism activities, including plowing more dollars into local terrorism preparedness projects. Green was also part of a small bipartisan delegation chosen by the House speaker to go to Afghanistan and report back to the Congress on the progress of our efforts there.
The word Iraq is never mentioned, even though Green has visited twice and always comes home to announce that we're winning.

Now Green doesn't have a word to say, as Americans turn against the war and want the troops home. He's voted down the line for the war, but he's hoping no one mentions it as he tries to sneak into the governor's office.

Green's partner in crime on this one, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, the Victory in Iraq caucus co-chair, continues to list his membership in various places on his website : bio, caucus membership, issues, etc:
Today, Joe serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the Education & the Workforce Committee, and the House Committee on International Relations. He was appointed by the Speaker to the highly influential Republican Policy Committee and works as an Assistant Majority Whip. He is Co-Chair of the Victory in Iraq Caucus, Co-Chair of the Bulgaria Caucus, and Past Co-Chair of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Wilson has a long list of news releases on Iraq [search for Iraq on the site], and his home page features a photo with the troops in Baghdad. You won't even find the word Iraq on Green's House site, or his campaign website.

Ever hear the term "summer soldier?" These are the times that try Mark Green's soul. He's being tested and coming up short.

UPDATE: Tonight, Green's site includes an Iraq flag with links to photos and a journal of Green's trip to Iraq. I'd swear it was not there this morning. In fact, this cached page from Google shows what was up earlier today when I visited the site. Do bloggers get fast action, or what?

This June 30, 2005 release announcing the caucus is still there, if you dig a little:
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmen Mark Green (R-WI) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) announced the creation of the Victory in Iraq Caucus:
“Despite what many Americans see and hear in the media, Iraq is well on its way to a brighter future,” Green said. “Democracy is taking hold, Iraqis are embracing their newfound freedoms, and our courageous troops are steadily stamping out terrorists bent on derailing Iraq ’s march toward prosperity. There’s a lot to hang our hat on. But, Iraq is still a dangerous place, and that’s why we must continue supporting our troops, trumpeting their successes, and affirming America ’s commitment to finishing the job. That’s what this caucus will help accomplish – it’s a voice for victory.”
UPDATE: Brew City Brawler takes the time to read Green's comments and journal from his Iraq trip. Quite revealing. Says the Brawler: "Most people would try to cover up documentary evidence of being so wrong, so disastrously wrong."

Can you say pap?

Fresh from offering not one idea to balance the state budget, Congressman Mark Green has moved on to promise more pie in the sky. the JS reports:
Green promises crackdown on city crime

Flanked by police officers and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in Sherman Park, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green said today that he will lead an all-out effort to end the "culture of crime in Milwaukee."

In a statement issued by his campaign, Green said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had "turned a blind eye" to the crime problem in Milwaukee and promised a stronger effort to show that "this park, this neighborhood, these streets and every park and neighborhood do not belong to the thugs and gangsters."

A statement released by Green's campaign, however, did not provide any details on how Green would tackle crime in the city, nor did it provide a measuring stick for success, such as a particular reduction in the murder rate or crime rate.
Rudy, I might believe. Green, uh uh.

Party aside, PAC transfers are wrong

From's Tuesday afternoon report to subscribers ...
-- GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green said today that he has no plans to return PAC money he transferred from his federal war chest to his gubernatorial account, saying that he followed state laws governing the transfer.

Green said that Gov. Jim Doyle transferred money from his attorney general’s fund to his gubernatorial account without raising questions and that Tom Barrett did the same with money from his congressional fund when he ran for governor in 2002.

“Democrats only want to raise this question when it’s a Republican candidate,” Green said...
Green is conveniently rewriting history.

When then-Congressman Tom Barrett, a Democrat, wanted to transfer money in 2002 from his Congressional campaign account to his governor's campaign, Jim Doyle's campaign strongly objected and argued before the State Elections Board. So did the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC).

The Doyle objections about Barrett were the same as the Democracy Campaign is raising about Green -- that money from federal political action committees who could not legally give to the governor's race, because they are not registered here, was being laundered through the Congressional account. In Green's case it's about $500,000 in PAC money of a total of $1.3-million transferred in. Since he did that the loophole has been closed, and such transfers from federal to state campaigns will not be allowed. It was already illegal to transfer state campaign money to a federal race.

Here's what WDC had to say on its Big Money Blog:
The Democracy Campaign has long opposed allowing federal office holders to use money raised for federal campaigns in order to run for state office. We opposed Democrat Tom Barrett's transfer of money he raised as a member of Congress to help finance his 2002 run for the state's highest office. It was wrong when Barrett did it, and it's wrong for Green to do it.
The Green smokescreen about Doyle changing his campaign from attorney general to governor has nothing to do with the issue. Both are state campaigns subject to the same limits and rules. The issue is about using federal PAC money, which could not be legally given to a campaign for governor. For once I agree with WDC: It was wrong when Barrett did it, and it's wrong now.

Rock Netroots on "We already spent the money."

'Democrats must support voter fraud'

Paddy Mac is back.

Today's Patrick McIlheran column gets a couple of things right. Unfortunately, they are both at the beginning of the piece, and it rapidly goes downhill from there.

He begins with:
Making Donovan Riley show a photo ID wouldn't have stopped him from having a second helping of democracy in 2000. A belief, engraved on his heart, that cheating's wrong would have done that.

I'm theorizing about its absence: So far, the lefty Democrat seeking to unseat his own party's state Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) is merely accused of voting in both Illinois and Wisconsin. He's guilty of nothing but the weakest defense since President Clinton argued about "is." Riley says he forgot he'd already voted.
I don't know if Riley voted twice, and neither does McIlheran. He is accused of it by a political enemy. He has not been charged, let alone convicted of anything. You can bet if there is even the flimsiest excuse that Waukesha DA Paul Bucher will charge him.

So McIlheran is right. Riley is merely accused.

He's also right that requiring a photo ID would not have stopped Riley from voting twice. If that's really what he did, he used his own name.

It's also true that Riley has mounted less than a strong defense, for whatever reason. Because he's guilty? Maybe. But maybe not. I think McIlheran mischaracterizes it.

All that aside, once he's carefully protected the paper from a libel suit by using the word "accused," McIlheran proceeds -- based on the premise that Riley must be guilty -- to basically accuse Democrats of supporting voter fraud. Why else hasn't the party purged Riley from its website, he wonders.

Maybe it's because he's innocent until proven guilty. Like most Dems, I'm withholding judgment. If he's guilty, I'll be the first to condemn the double voting. But I don't know whether he's guilty or the victim of a political dirty trick. I hope we have an answer before the primary.

Because all of the Democrats haven't roundly condemned Riley, they condone vote fraud, McIlheran suggests:
Riley shows that fraud takes place. His supporters' silence shows that a swath of the political spectrum doesn't take it seriously. We can't ignore it until there's organized electoral theft. In saying he didn't find evidence of such theft in 2004, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic pointed out that vote fraud is hard to pin down. We should pay heed to what we do see.
OK, I'll say it again: There is no evidence, despite all of the noise from McIlheran's Republican friends, that there is any widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin. After a thorough investigation, Biskupic found a couple of isolated cases, and couldn't even win those in court.

Voter fraud is hard to find in Wisconsin because it simply isn't there.

Adopting all kinds of new restrictions, as Republicans propose (Mark Green said yesterday that the first bill he'll sign as governor is a photo ID bill for voters), will do little or nothing to improve our election process. But it will make it harder for many people to vote, which is their real intention.

I'd support the purple finger system, which Paddy Mac mentions in passing, because seeing people with purple fingers might remind and encourage others to vote. They'd probably be a lot more effective than an "I voted" sticker on your lapel. Democrats want more voter participation, not less.

By the way, another Democrat, Jim Sullivan, also has been accused of double-voting. In his case the charge comes from the lunatic fanatic Reynolds-Dohnal-Blonien team. They are old, phony, discredited charges. But McIlheran doesn't suggest the Democrats condemn or shun Sullivan. Maybe it's because in this instance it's Republican Reynolds whose trying to defraud voters?

UPDATE: Riley out; massive voter fraud confirmed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Camera-shy Reynolds may skip debate

Organizers of a debate planned Wednesday night between State Sen. Tom Reynolds and his Dem challenger, Jim Sullivan, report:
After agreeing weeks ago to participate in a candidate forum on August 23, State Senator Tom Reynolds threatened Tuesday to boycott the event if video cameras would be allowed.

Senator Reynolds and Democratic challenger James Sullivan have both confirmed their attendance at a forum scheduled for Wednesday, August 23 at 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church West (13001 West North Avenue, Brookfield). Reynolds sent a written agreement on July 14. The forum is being sponsored by congregations belonging to the SOPHIA and MICAH organizations.

Becky Steffes, an event organizer, said "I couldn't believe he was coming up with this at the last minute. This is a public event. Part of the reason for a candidate forum is that we want people to go on the record with their views. If there is something he is ashamed to have on tape, he shouldn't say it."

Mark Doremus, SOPHIA President said the event will proceed with or without Reynolds' participation. "We've invited people in good faith. There will be a chair for Mr. Reynolds, and an opportunity for him to speak to potential voters. If he does not fulfill his promise to participate, it will be his choice."
Reynolds, you may recall, stopped someone from taping a town meeting he was holding with constituents in his district in June. Reynolds has a good reason to be camera-shy.

He much prefers to let his brain trust, Bob Dohnal and J.J. Blonien, write poison pen letters for other people to sign, making charges they know are false and then pretending they had nothing to do with it. That has backfired badly, and the brewing scandal may be just one more reason Reynolds doesn't want to be filmed.

WisPolitics reports Reynolds has chickened out.

UPDATE: Crazy like a fox? The Spice Boys write about Reynolds' shyness today, but he refused to flatly say he won't attend. Is this a ploy to get all of the people with cameras to stay home, so he can show up at the last minute in a camera-free zone?

Will Green catch it from Giuliani?

Catch what?

A tolerance for gay rights.

Or will Green catch hell from his friend Rudy for his bigoted position?

This from John Kraus of One Wisconsin Now:
Giuliani, who has called “a champion of gay rights,” (, 02/26/2004) will be campaigning in Waukesha and Milwaukee with Green on Wednesday. Green supports the extreme and divisive amendment put on the ballot this fall by the Republican-controlled legislature to outlaw civil unions in Wisconsin.

The first sentence of the amendment would ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples. But in Wisconsin, gay marriage is already illegal. This divisive amendment is about much more than gay marriage. The second sentence would ban anything “identical or substantially similar” to marriage for all unmarried couples gay and straight. This means that civil unions would be outlawed in Wisconsin.

Green is a strong supporter of legislation at both the state and federal level to write discrimination into the constitution and ban civil unions.

In contrast, Giuliani has favored extended civil-rights protection for gays and lesbians. (New York Post, June 5, 1993) In 1998, Giuliani submitted a bill to the New York City Council that extended the benefits city agencies must grant to gay and lesbian couples. “I’m proud of it,” Giuliani said of the bill. “I think it puts New York City ahead of other places in the country.” (New York Daily News, May 13, 1998)
Read the rest of the study in contrasts between Green and Giuliani.

Thinking small, writing big

Whoa, Nelly!

For perhaps the first time ever, I'm going to link to a post by Fighting Ed Garvey, who seems to think he is the illegitimate grandson of Bob La Follette. But even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile, as Ed would say.

Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker got a huge ride from the Journal Sentinel this morning, with a top-line story making him out to be a hero who is helping the mentally ill.

His proposal is extremely thin soup, but the paper is very invested in the issue, having done an exhaustive series on problems with housing for the mentally ill. The JS wants to show that all of its work brought some results, however meager. Thus, this story:
Housing initiatives proposed
Walker wants to spend $250,000, suggests permanent solutions


Milwaukee County is dramatically shifting its focus in mental health care to provide permanent housing for hundreds of people who now live in squalor.

Under a proposed budget, the Behavioral Health Complex in Wauwatosa would be sold to fund permanent housing for people with mental illness.

The move comes five months after a Journal Sentinel series chronicled the deplorable and sometimes deadly living conditions for people under the care of county psychiatric case managers. The newspaper found many of the county's sickest mental patients living in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, in buildings with dozens of health and safety violations.

Typically, these places are infested with rats and roaches. Some have no heat or running water. Others have broken toilets, faulty wiring, missing smoke detectors and windows painted shut. Over the years, dozens of patients have died in these places from environmental flaws such as exposure to extreme heat.

County Executive Scott Walker said Monday that he is proposing spending nearly $250,000 in next year's budget to enhance housing programs for people with chronic mental illness, at a time when other county programs are being substantially trimmed. His plan calls for some realignment of county agencies, including the creation of a housing section specifically for the Behavioral Health Division.
Says Garvey:
The MJS wrote about horrific living conditions for those with disabilities. Walker's bold idea? He would spend $250,000 for "permanent solutions." No, not $250K per person. That pittance is for the entire community.

How would he spend the money? Again, I'm not making this up. $50K to hire a national expert to develop a master plan. $25K to join a group of agencies called "Continuum of Care;" and the rest to "enhance the availability of permanent housing for people with mental illness".

Don't you wonder what world he lives in? Wisconsin has plenty of expertise in the housing issue; we know how to take care of people with disabilities. Scott Walker makes a joke out of deplorable living conditions. And MJS? Meg Kissinger treated this as news. Whoa Nelly! Maybe next year he could dedicate fifty bucks to the homeless so MJS could say he cares about the homeless. C'mon!

Green, the gas tax, and getting it wrong

I mentioned Congressman Mark Green's fast shuffle on the gas tax question yesterday, but didn't really do it justice. The story below pretty much speaks for itself. Green didn't mention that he wanted to reduce the gas tax during two interviews because he was "rushed." He has no idea how rushed he'd be if he were governor.

Clearly, Green's not ready for prime time. Maybe he should just let Mark Graul to all of the interviews, news conferences, and debates. Then he wouldn't have to go around behind Green trying to clean up his messes.
Madison - Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green said Monday that he would lower the gas tax by 2 cents a gallon if elected.

Green, a U.S. representative from Green Bay, issued a statement on the gas tax just hours after the Journal Sentinel reported Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had promised not to raise the 32.9-cent gas tax over the next four years.

In two earlier interviews, Green declined to say what he would do with the gas tax, noting he would wait on the recommendations of a legislative committee on transportation that will come out after the Nov. 7 election.

In his statement Monday, Green said he would stand by a November 2005 pledge to eliminate a 2-cents-a-gallon gas tax used to clean up leaking underground fuel tanks and for other environmental programs. The remaining 30.9 cents a gallon goes toward transportation.

Trimming the 2 cents would leave no revenue source for those programs. It also would mean $273 million in bonds would have to be paid off with other funds. Green's campaign would not say how he would pay off the bonds or fund the programs. Together, the bond repayment and programs cost $79 million a year.

Dan Leistikow, a Doyle aide, said Green's plan was irresponsible and would lead to cuts in education.

"It's pretty clear he's trying to govern by press release and blow a huge hole in his budget," Leistikow said.

Until this year, the tax for environmental work was 3 cents a gallon, but Doyle and the Republican-run Legislature trimmed it by a penny. Doyle vetoed a Republican budget provision to explore phasing out the remaining 2 cents.

Green's campaign manger, Mark Graul, said Green did not bring up the 2-cent reduction recently because he was "rushed" during two interviews that centered on other subjects.

"Mark Green is not saying he's going to raise the gas tax," Graul said. "In fact, the only thing he has said for sure is he wants to lower it by two cents. . . . He will say categorically that he will not raise the gas tax unless it is accompanied by some other kind of relief for Wisconsinites."
Green has a real dilemma on the gas tax. He's promised the roadbuilders he'll "be there for you," so he can't take away any money from road-building. Instead, he'll just gut the environmental cleanup fund. Brilliant.

Afterthought: Remembering the way Graul handled his own ethics violations in the press, maybe he's not the answer.