Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ask the Wisconsin Torture Caucus

Green donor to vote on Green donations

The State Elections Board has a new member,Gregory Paradise, to help decide a crucial case about Mark Green's contributions, and he should be an expert on the issue, being a $500 donor to Green himself.

The Journal Sentinel, which continues to play the role of Green advocate and apologist, reports the donation, but then tries to explain it away:
Paradise donated $500 to Green's campaign in May, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign records - a donation that a Doyle campaign official said proved he was handpicked by Green to serve on the panel. But two Democratic board members often have given to their party's legislators and candidates, records show.
Actually, records don't show that any other Elections Board members have donated to either Green or Doyle, unless it was in the pre-primary report filed this month, which is not in the data base yet.

If this is a Green-Doyle dispute, as it is portrayed by the newspaper, contributions to one of them might be relevant. Giving to any Republican or Democrat is not comparable to giving to one of those two, and would hardly be a disqualifier, since the board members are named by the political parties and partisan elected officials.

How independent and open-minded will Paradise be? Back to the JS story:

[Assembly Speaker John] Gard said he did not tell Paradise how to vote on any issue. "He'll figure it out," Gard said.
UPDATE: Seth Zlotocha says that if all you know if what you read in the JS, you probably have no idea what the latest case against Green is all about.

UPDATE 2: The AP reports on Paradise's appointment and his contribution to Green, but adds:
Paradise, an attorney with Mohs, MacDonald, Widder & Paradise in Madison, said he is not affiliated with any political party.
That must mean Paradise hasn't paid his party dues. If there's any doubt of his Republican connections, check these contributions to candidates for US Senate and House, Republicans all, from Open Secrets:

Michels, Tim J

Michels, Tim J

Welch, Bob

Magnum, David

Musser, Josephine

Sharpless, John Burk

Sharpless, John Burk

Zien, David A

Klug, Scott L

Klug, Scott

Klug, Scott L

Klug, Scott L

Klug, Scott L

What the JS was saying 4 years ago

The Journal Sentinel has started a snarky new feature, designed mostly, it appears, as another platform to take potshots at Gov. Jim Doyle for things he said on the campaign trail in 2002 that either have not come to fruition or, in hindsight, turned out to be wrong.

The series is supposedly about "what the candidates were doing and saying four years ago." But Doyle was running for governor, while Congressman Mark Green doing little except raising and banking Washington special interest money while winning a lopsided re-election victory. So Doyle clearly will be the recipient of most of the cheap shots.

Here's Friday's:
4 years ago, Doyle didn't expect 5% growth

Madison -- Four years ago, then-candidate for governor Jim Doyle attacked a prediction that future state revenues will grow by about 5%. But that's exactly the growth that his own state budget director recently predicted, and said it will wipe out any future budget deficit.

On Sept. 25, 2002, the Democrat's campaign ridiculed the prediction by the top deputy to then-Republican Gov. Scott McCallum that tax collections would go up by about 5% a year.

"Scott McCallum has been spending too much time with his friend Rosy Scenario," Doyle, then the attorney general, said in a statement. "That is exactly the kind of wishful thinking and dishonest budgeting that got us into a $2.8-billion (deficit) hole to begin with."

According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, state tax collections have averaged annual growth of 5% for decades.

Now, fast-forward to Aug. 15 of this year, when a Doyle appointee, state Budget Director David Schmiedicke issued his own "rosy scenario." It dismissed conclusions of Republicans like Mark Green, the GOP candidate for governor, and the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance that there is a deficit -- a two-year gap that could be $2 billion or more, depending on how you count.

Said Schmiedicke: "Over the past 20 years, revenues have grown at an average rate of approximately 5% a year. Assuming only average growth -- and without having to cut anything from the budget -- the state will see revenue growth of about $1.9 billion. That more than covers the so-called 'structural deficit'."

Schmiedicke's report came out days before Doyle proposed new tax deductions for health-care premiums paid an employer, if those premiums are not already tax-exempt, and for child care.

Another in an occasional series of what candidates for governor and their aides were saying, and doing, four years ago.

And here's what the newspaper didn't tell you:

Reporter Steve Walters forgot to mention that we were just coming off of an economic recession that had been made worse by the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The previous two years had shown very low growth.

Here's what the JS had to say in an editorial at the time:
Fuzzy math from McCallum
Posted: Sept. 28, 2002

We mean no disrespect when we assert that straight talk in this gubernatorial campaign will be at a very high premium. Example: Gov. Scott McCallum's recruiting of Rosy Scenario. The other day, talking about economic growth to the La Crosse Tribune, McCallum said his computer models estimated an increase in state revenue of more than 5%. This, the governor seemed to imply, would do wonders toward addressing Wisconsin's fiscal mess - specifically, spending projected to exceed tax revenue by as much as $2.8 billion for the biennium beginning next July 1. "The focus needs to be on growth," the governor said, "instead of saying how deep do (cuts) need to be."

There are a couple of problems here. First, the budget repair bill that McCallum signed in late July already may be obsolete. Tax revenue for fiscal year 2001-'02 - the first year of the current biennium, which ended June 30 - fell short of expectations by nearly $190 million. As a result, revenue must grow by 6.8% in the current fiscal year to hit estimates made by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau earlier this year.

Slight problem No. 1: The state has averaged about 5.5% in annual revenue growth over the past two decades, and it may be mighty difficult to hit even that target if the national and state economies don't pick up some steam soon. The fiscal bureau itself acknowledges as much: It has projected an increase of tax collections in the current fiscal year of 3.1%, less than half of what's needed to fill the gap.

Slight problem No. 2: A return to average revenue growth, unlikely as it is, would not absorb a $2.8 billion shortfall, still leaving a massive hole - more than $1 billion - to fill. McCallum has ruled out any and all tax increases. Fair enough: We don't much like tax increases, either, and we believe the governor is right to hold the line. But exactly how does he propose to solve the problem if he is not prepared for deep cuts in spending?

Attorney General Jim Doyle, McCallum's opponent, hasn't earned a bye in this fix-the-budget board game. The Democratic candidate also has ruled out general tax increases on income and sales, regularly stressing that Wisconsin taxpayers have paid their fare share and that the state must shed its reputation as a high-tax state. But Doyle's education proposals might well result in higher property taxes, as McCallum supporters assert in attack ads, unless he can detail another way to pay for them.

Even so, McCallum was Tommy Thompson's lieutenant governor for 14 years and has been his own man in the hot seat since February 2001. Along with the Legislature, he was a party to the budget repair bill that, in fact, repaired nothing because it used onetime tobacco-settlement money to patch things up.

Both men need to better spell out how they intend to deal with the state's fiscal mess. But given his performance during the state budget follies of 2002, McCallum shoulders the bigger burden in explaining how he intends to tame a structural deficit once and for all.

From the Sept. 29, 2002 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Friday, September 29, 2006

-- Joe Heller, Green Bay Press Gazette, via Cagle.

Can anyone take this case?

Congressman Mark Green wants the state supreme court to rule on whether he must return $467,000 in special interest money that the State Elections Board is illegal.

We pointed out a couple of potential problems and conflicts and suggested the court could be shorthanded.

The Associated Press has expanded the list:
If the case gets to the Supreme Court, there are a number of potential conflicts:

Justice David Prosser served as a Republican member of the Legislature and speaker of the Assembly at the same time Green was caucus chairman.

Justice Jon Wilcox is a former Republican lawmaker who has had his own run-ins with the Elections Board.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley received a $100 donation from the governor's wife, Jessica Doyle, in December 2004 for her successful campaign for re-election the next year.

Justice Louis Butler was appointed to the bench by Doyle in 2004.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson also has ties to the Doyle family, having been longtime friends with Doyle's recently deceased mother.
It takes four justices out of seven to agree to hear the case. The AP is suggesting that anyone who ever met Jim Doyle or Mark Green may be disqualified. In fact, when the AP gets done, there are only two left: Pat Crooks and Pat Roggensack.

Carrie Lynch, however, has discovered a $500 contribution from Mark Green's campaign to Roggensack when she ran for the court. So strike her.

That leaves Pat Crooks, who may have a little problem in light of all of the contributions he's taken from the law firm representing Green. If $100 from Jessica Doyle is an issue, these would be, too:
Clark, Jeffrey P
$100 - Thursday, February 16, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Brookfield, WI 53005

Graber, Richard W
$250 - Thursday, February 16, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Shorewood, WI 53211

Clark, Jeffrey P
$100 - Tuesday, March 07, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Brookfield, WI 53005

Weber, Ralph A
$100 - Thursday, December 15, 1994
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Stanton, Thomas M
$150 - Tuesday, October 18, 1994
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Menasha, WI 54952

Stanton, Thomas M
$150 - Tuesday, March 21, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Menasha, WI 54952

Clark, Jeffrey P
$50 - Monday, August 07, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Brookfield, WI 53005

Stanton, Thomas M
$100 - Friday, August 11, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Menasha, WI 54952

Graber, Richard W
$150 - Thursday, March 16, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Shorewood, WI 53211

Weber, Ralph A
$100 - Friday, March 24, 1995
Reinhart, Boerner, et al
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
So who's going to hear this case? If you believe in the theory that friendship, an acquaintance, or small contributions make a judge unable to decide a case fairly, on the merits, the whole court will have to sit this one out.

UPDATE: It turns out that Pat Crooks is "a dear friend" of Mark Green's.

UPDATE 2: On the Elections Board, Green donor to vote on Green donations.

Dear Mr. Editor ...

The dialogue continues, as Mike Plaisted writes the Journal Sentinel again.

Today's target: The Spice Boys.

UPDATE: Plaisted gets a screw-you response from the paper's managing editor, but the paper does publish an abbreviated letter to the editor.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote, unquote

"I think that I've become -- I hope -- a credible spokesman for a muscular view of anti-terrorist activity by the Democrats as well as the country. The fact is, I've never been just an anti-war guy."
-- Sen. Russ Feingold.

Rounding up Republican votes

Since Republicans claim the State Elections Board shouldn't be partisan, and members should look at the law, not their political loyalties, what's their rush to get another GOP representative on the board before the next vote on Congressman Mark Green's money?

The Greenies did a bonehead thing by hiring a lawyer from the same firm as one of the board members, Patrick Hodan, who had to abstain from the vote in the last go-around. The board voted 5-2 to tell Green to return $467,000 in illegal contributions from federal PACs. Both no votes were Repubs,, while four Dems and a Libertarian appointee voted yes.

Today's story:
Elections Board member resigns ahead of key vote on Green

By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press, September 28, 2006

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican member of the state Elections Board who recused himself from matters involving Mark Green's campaign has resigned from the board.

Patrick Hodan of Milwaukee said he had to resign because his law firm represents Green's campaign in its dispute over $1.3 million that Green raised as a congressman and transferred to his run for governor.

The board has already ordered Green to get rid of $468,000 of the transferred money.

The resignation comes just one week before it is to consider whether to strip Green of an additional $775,000 that a watchdog group contends cannot be used in Wisconsin.

"Given the importance and significance of the matters that likely will come before the Board in the next several weeks, I believe it is important that the Board have a full complement of voting members to deal with these matters," Hodan wrote in a resignation letter dated Wednesday.

Hodan's law partner, Don Millis, represents the Green campaign. As a result, he recused himself from the Aug. 30 vote in which the board voted 5-2 to order Green to give up $468,000 in donations from political action committees not registered in Wisconsin.

Hodan was appointed to the board in 2002 as the designee of Assembly Republicans.
There's nothing wrong with the Rs wanting all the votes they can get. But they want to have it both ways, condemning the Democrats who voted as mindless partisans, while lining up their own people to vote with Green.

Isn't politics fun?

UPDATE: Green donor to vote on Green donations as the Election Board's newest member.

A new 'dialogue' with JS editors

Mike Plaisted, a Milwaukee defense lawyer who blogs semi-occasionally, has started a dialogue, he says, with Journal Sentinel editors over their coverage of the governor's race.

So far, it's more of a monologue. Plaisted writes an insightful letter to the editor, the JS responds with more of the same kind of coverage that provoked the letter, and Plaisted writes another letter.

The good news is that rather than wait for any of his comments to appear in the newspaper, which could be a long wait, he has decided to post them on his blog. He's threatening to do a daily critique; I hope he does.

In case he does, you might want to add this to your blogroll.

Debate tonight on Iraq policy

Iraq: Stay the Course or Withdrawal?

A debate's set tonight at 7 at Northshore Library, 6800 N. Port Washington Rd., sponsored by Grassroots Northshore, the same folks who sponsored the recent debate on the gay marriage and civil unions amendment.

Jack Murtaugh of 4th Street Forum will moderate. Van Mobley, a history professor at Concordia University, and Darryl deBoer, an Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran, will argue to stay the course.

For withdrawal will be Rae Vogeler, Green Party Candidate for US Senate, and Kelly Parrson, an Iraq Veteran.

U.S. troop withdrawal is on the Nov. 7 ballot in Milwaukee and many other communities across the state.

The group will sponsor a death penalty debate on Oct. 11 at the Whitefish Bay Library.

Going after the goo-goos

I've certainly had my complaints about the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and Common Cause, the "good government" groups, or goo-goos, that seem to find an ulterior motive for every dollar anyone contributes to a candidate.

I've voiced some of those complaints on this blog.

Mike McCabe of WDC has been willing to pile on Gov. Jim Doyle whenever the news media have wanted a quote. The goo-goos have had more than their allotted 15 minutes of fame this year.

I've often thought they were misguided, or at least overzealous. But I've never complained that they are partisan, picking on Democrats. They pick on everyone.

The Republican Party disagrees. In an ill-advised release today, the Rs accuse the Democracy Campaign of being Doyle dupes. It calls WDC "puppets of the Doyle campaign."

The WDC, you see, filed the complaint with the State Elections Board about Green's illegal $467,000 in special interest PAC money, and now has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission. Doyle and the Democrats, in this case, are happy to see WDC challenge Green.

That, according to the Rs, means WDC is "doing the bidding of the Doyle campaign."

Somehow, I don't think that will play very well, at least with anyone who's been paying attention.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Green gets a mild spanking

I wondered whether he could get away with a TV spot in which the narrator actually claims the Journal Sentinel said something it didn't say, like: "The Journal Sentinel reports Doyle secretly rigged the State Elections Board vote to try to steal the election."

The newspaper responds with a mild rebuke, flogging Green with a wet noodle:
Editorial: Green ad steps over the line

A recent television ad for Rep. Mark Green includes the caution, "Don't be fooled."

We agree. The ad says the Journal Sentinel reports that Gov. Jim Doyle "secretly rigged a state Elections Board vote to try and steal the election."

Don't be fooled. The newspaper didn't write that. News stories reported on calls from a Doyle campaign attorney to Democratic members of the Elections Board before a key vote that was to determine if Green should return nearly $468,000 that went from his congressional campaign fund to his governor campaign. Another news report cited a call from the state Republican Party head to a board member on the same matter.

A Sept. 22 editorial mostly bemoaned the blatant partisanship of the Elections Board in that vote and urged reform that would remove partisanship from such decisions. Specifically, it urged passage of legislation that would have removed the partisanship.

But the editorial also agreed with board counsel that there was likely nothing illegal about those calls, though it welcomed an investigation into whether open meeting laws were broken. So, "rigged?" "Steal?"

There is something rigged here, but that would be the system itself. In campaign finance generally and on the Elections Board, partisanship trumps the public good. Board members are chosen in a system that ensures partisanship.

Yes, some of Doyle's campaign finance actions do raise smoke. As does the timing of an endorsement of Green by Realtors and home-builders, more than $100,000 from these interests and a proposal he issued on housing regulations.

Ethics is a worthy issue in this campaign. But misrepresenting what's reported won't help the cause.
Boy, that smarts.

Ask the candidate

WISN-TV, Milwaukee's Channel 12, seems determined to become the top station for covering politics. Frankly, there is not much competition. The station's latest:

What Do You Want To Ask The Gubernatorial Candidates?

MILWAUKEE -- Do you have a question or questions you would like to have Gov. Jim Doyle or Republican challenger Mark Green answer?

Next week, WISN 12 News anchor Terry Sater will be a panelist questioning the candidates during a primetime debate.

If you submit your questions, 12 News will try to get them answered.

E-mail your question to
The debate is on Friday, Oct.6, from 7 to 8 p.m. and will be broadcast statewide.

More or less negativity ahead?

Expect Less Mud to Be Flung in Political Ads
Advisers: Attack Spots Don't Wash With Cynical Voters
That's from Advertising Age.

But, as they told us in the Marine Corps, there's always that 2% that didn't get the word.

Supreme Court could be shorthanded

Congressman Mark Green is eager to have the State Supreme Court decide his appeal of the State Elections Board ruling that he has $467,000 in illegal special interest money in his campaign.

Although it is a non-partisan court, the political affiliations of the justices are common knowledge. There are four Republicans and three Democrats, or three conservatives and three liberals, if you prefer.

But who will hear the case, if the court agrees to take it?

Justice Jon Wilcox's own campaign for the court was fined $60,000 by the elections board -- the biggest such penalty in state history.

As a campaign lawbreaker who's had a run-in with the State Elections Board himself, Wilcox, a former Republican legislator, should recuse himself from the case.

Carrie Lynch says Wilcox isn't the only one who should refrain from participating.

UPDATE: Wisconsin Democracy Campaign files a Federal Elections Commission complaint, wants all $1.3-million returned.

What the Iraqis think

Think Progress has more.

Cockfighting gets Green's juices flowing

You won't often hear me say this, but I am in agreement today with Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner.

Sensenbrenner and I think Congressman Mark Green's priorities are out of whack.

With all of the pressing issues facing Congress in the closing days of its session, Mark Green's top priority is -- a bill to ban cockfighting and dogfighting.

Green is ready to go to the mat with Sensenbrenner, and may ask the House to suspend the rules to take it up. AP reports:
In a statement, Sensenbrenner said he opposes animal fighting but that Congress should spend its remaining days on more important issues, such as border security, terrorist tribunals, and updating foreign intelligence surveillance laws.

"Trying to ram-through animal fighting legislation with these issues outstanding would win the prize for 'misplaced priorities,"' he said.
It's hard to argue with that, especially since cockfighting already is banned in every state except Louisiana and New Mexico. All 50 states ban dogfighting.

What is it about this issue that gets Green so worked up? It makes you wonder if there's an organization like the Anti-Cockfighting Political Action Committee pushing the bill, in addition to the Humane Society.

Has anyone ever seen a dogfight or cockfight in Wisconsin? Have you even heard about one?

This little dustup with the chairman is just the latest in along list of misplaced priorities for Green.

He's voted for Bush budgets with trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the richest Americans, and billions for big oil, taking the US from its biggest surplus to its deepest debt ever. At the same time, he's voted to cut vital programs that would help Wisconsin famililes -- student loans, health care for seniors, aid to farmers, veterans benefits. He's voted eight times against raising the minimum wage.

All in a day's work. Our man in Washington.

A dog-loving friend says there is dogfighting in Wisconsin. It's already illegal, however, just like gay marriage, so we probably don't need a federal law or a constitutional amendment.

UPDATE 2: Hulk Hogan's for the bill, even though it could end his career.

Almost forgot: On the state level, Green's top priority is trying to get kooky part-time lecturerer Kevin Barrett fired. Cheap thrills, and cheap headlines.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Burying the bad news

American subscribers to Newsweek will get a little different view of the world this week than Newsweek readers overseas. Johnny Cougar has the evidence.

Building name recognition

There is certainly a time and a place to practice civil disobedience, but I'm not sure it's on the campaign trail when you're running for office. From the Waukesha Freeman:
BROOKFIELD - Bob Levis, Wisconsin Green Party candidate for the 5th Congressional District, was arrested Monday during a peace protest outside the office of his former high school friend and now political opponent, U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner.

Levis and four others, including Wisconsin Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor, Leon Todd, each received a $487 ticket for disobeying a police officer after they blocked the Bishops Way exit onto Bluemound Road from Sensenbrenner’s office during the noon-hour protest, according to a news release issued by the Brookfield Police Department.
On the other hand, that is a lot of publicity for $487, and given the way the media covers third-party candidates it may be the only way either of them gets their name in the Freeman.

Will Rogers, not Jesse James

If I did only half of the things i get credited or blamed for, I would be one busy guy.

I know how Jesse James felt when he got blamed for every robbery in six states, even when he was home in bed when the occurred.

Jessica McBride:
MONDAY, Sept. 25, 2006, 6:53 p.m.
Speaking of media hits...

Jeff Wagner is right (in another of his superbly argued columns)...

The Spivak and Bice hatchet job this Sunday on Milwaukee County DA independent candidate Lew Wasserman hit below the belt. I'll come out and say it: It had Xoff's hand written all over it. Calling someone's kids and basically asking if they like their dad? Some things should be off limits. Yes, even in campaigns, and, even in a Spice Boys column.
I'm actually more like Will Rogers than Jesse James. All I know about Lew Wasserman is what I read in the paper.

For someone who holds herself out as a journalist, or at least a journalism teacher, that is a totally reckless, baseless charge, made without a shred of evidence. It would be hard to find any evidence, of course, because I am totally innocent. And Jeff Wagner, while he didn't mention my name, basically seconded her motion. Dad29 chimed in, too, hiding behind his anonymity:
As Wagner (via Jessica) points out, the hit-job done by the SpiceBoyzzz had all the elements of a Christofferson/Xoff campaign trick: ignore the issues, go for the personal attacks.
Speaking of personal attacks ... Am I guilty till proven innocent? Maybe I should hire that Wasserman guy to defend me. He now comes highly recommended by McBride and the other right-wingers, even though he comes out of deep left field.

UPDATE: I should not have lumped all right-wingers together. Texas Hold 'Em and Right Off the Shore have actually looked at Wasserman's campaign materials, and reach a different conclusion.

Afterthought: You don't suppose the source could have been one of those ex-wives or four kids he forget to mention, do you?

Quote, unquote

"It's a good thing I had a bag of marijuana instead of a bag of spinach. I'd be dead by now."
-- Willie Nelson, after a recent bust on his bus. The quote is probably apocryphal; it's all over the Internet, but not in any news sources. Too good not to share, though.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Extra! Green appeals, but we don't know what

Seth Zlotocha probably thought he was being funny when he wrote on Monday about Mark Green's court case:
I'm also giving 5 to 1 odds that tomorrow's Journal Sentinel article on the decision will focus on the subsequent appeal should the ruling go against Green -- and I wouldn't even put it past the news editors to run the story in the Metro section.
It turns out he was prescient, although wrong about placement; the story did run on page one.

But he got the spin and the headline right:
Green plans appeal
Judge rules against him on funds; state high court is next

Madison - Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green vowed Monday to take his fight to spend $467,844 in out-of-state donations to the state Supreme Court, after a Dane County judge upheld an Elections Board order that he divest himself of the money.

Green campaign aides said they will ask the state Supreme Court to take the controversy directly, bypassing the Court of Appeals. The Green campaign promised to put $467,844 from political action committees in a separate account and not spend it, pending a Supreme Court ruling.
What's missing? Well, now a judge -- not just the State Elections Board -- has said that Green has $467,000 in illegal special interest money in his campaign.

You wouldn't know that from the story. The words "illegal" or "broke the law" or "violated the law" don't appear in the story.

We do get this choice, pull-out quote from Green: "Today's ruling did not give us more clarity"

Really? It seemed pretty clear. A judge agreed with the Elections Board and said Green's PAC money is illegal.

The story tells us that the judge is a Doyle appointee, but doesn't say he got the case after Green asked for a different judge; the first one was not a Doyle appointee. And its analysis of the Supreme Court fails to make it clear that there are four Republicans and three Democrats on the court. Instead, we're told:
The justices' partisan loyalties have been blurred by recent decisions, with key votes being cast by Justice Pat Crooks and Justice Patience Roggensack.
The kinds of cases they've split off on are about issues like caps on malpractice awards, not partisan issues. Crooks and Roggensack are both Republicans.

The AP plays it straighter:
Judge: Elections Board correctly ordered Green to forfeit money


MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Elections Board correctly ordered Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green to get rid of $468,000 in campaign donations from political action committees not registered in Wisconsin, a judge ruled Monday.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess rejected Green's request for an injunction to stop the board's order from going into effect. He said Green wasn't likely to prevail on the merits of his case.

"The bottom line is that the Elections Board reached the correct result, regardless of the infirmities, if any, in its process," he wrote...

The board said the money violated Wisconsin campaign finance laws requiring committees to be registered here.
Earlier: Green loses in court; conspiracy continues.

UPDATE: Green finds the missing $467,000.

Mark Green's positive campaign

The Xoff Files on Aug. 6:
Green vows to run positive campaign

By Charlie Mathews
Herald Times Reporter

MANITOWOC-- Gubernatorial candidate Mark Green sought votes and money Friday in the Lakeshore area, while promising to run a clean, positive campaign.

"Politics has to be about giving people something to vote for," said the Republican congressman from Green Bay, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle.

"Negative ads that are over the top turn people off," Green said of TV commercials he admitted he hasn't seen, but believes do not help either major party gubernatorial candidate.
His excuse then was that he "hadn't seen" the ads his friend Steve King was running.

What's his excuse now, since his own campaign is running the slimiest ad of the year.

The Journal Sentinel will be surprised to find out that "The Journal Sentinel reports Doyle rigged the State Elections Board vote to try and steal the election." That's what the ad says. It uses newspaper "clippings" that are put together like a ransom note -- a word here, a word there.

UPDATE: The Greenies and their allies are in full negative attack mode. The Republican Governors Assn. just finished running a Georgia Thompson spot Monday, and today All Children Matter pick up where the RGA left off. The ACM spot, you won't be surprised to hear, is another attack ad on Doyle trying to make him look like a crook. What's it all mean? Green's losing, down in the polls, has no positive message that works, and is going to spend the next six weeks trying to tear down Doyle. All of the negatives they've run so far haven't worked; I don't think these will, either.

WHY GREEN'S WORRIED. Two recent polls show Doyle beating Green on his home turf, the Spice Boys report.

Green loses in court; conspiracy continues

Now a circuit court judge has ruled that Congressman Mark Green's transfer of $467,000 in federal special interest money to his campaign for governor was illegal.

Green says he's appealing directly to the State Supreme Court, but will set that money aside in the meantime and not spend it.

In last Thursday's hearing the judge suggested that Green had come into court with "unclean hands" because he had not complied with the Elections Board order to divest himself of the money within 10 days. Putting the money into escrow amounts to washing his hands.

You can read the judge's order yourself. Among other things, he suggested Green had used the wrong avenue to appeal on the board's rule.

But based on one read-through, these seem to be the key paragraphs:
In short, a "donation" under 2 U.S.C. § 439a(a)(5) is a "contribution" subject to the limitations and other regulations contained in Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin statutes governing the use of money in Wisconsin political campaigns. Thus, even if the Court were to adopt Green's argument that the Elections Board should be enjoined from enforcing its Emergency Rule and Order because they are illegal for any number of reasons -- arguments which raise some serious and legitimate questions -- Green still cannot succeed on the ultimate merits of this case because the Court cannot grant the requested declaratory judgment finding "that funds a state campaign committee has on hand when it converts from federal registration are not counted against Wisconsin's contribution limits." (Complaint, paragraph 50) Controlling federal law, through its incorporation of Wisconsin's campaign finance law, in fact compels the opposite finding. ...

For the same reasons that Green cannot demonstrate that he will likely succeed on the merits of the case, he falls short of showing irreparable harm if the temporary injunction is not granted. That is to say, whether the Elections Board is enjoined from enforcing the Emergency Rule and Order or not, Green's duties under the law remain the same. Under 2 U.S.C. 439a(a)(5) and Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin statutes which it incorporates, Green must subject the donation from the federal campaign to the provisions of Wisconsin law governing "contributions" to political campaigns. Thus, at least at this very preliminary stage of the lawsuit where the pleadings are not even complete, it is simply unnecessary for this Court to enter the thorny procedural and constitutional thicket created by the Election Board's actions in promulgating the Emergency Rule and issuing its Order, let alone allow it to sidetrack the Court's decision on Green's Motion for Temporary Injunction. The bottom line is that the Elections Board reached the correct result, regardless of the infirmities, if any, in its process.
(Emphasis mine)

Steve Walters of the Journal Sentinel starts the conspiracy theory, noting that the judge was appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle. Walters doesn't note that the original judge assigned to the case was the county's chief judge, Michael Nowakowski -- who was not a Doyle appointee, Green's campaign asked for a replacement, which is how Judge Richard Niess got the case.

UPDATE: Dave Diamond thinks it may be time for Green to move on to another subject.

MORE BAD NEWS? The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, flushed with success, says in its e-mail alert today that it is "researching the issues and evaluating whether to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission," which could question almost the entire $1.3-million Green laundered into his gov's campaign, not just the $467,000 in PAC money.

UPDATE: Judge rules against Green; Journal Sentinel forgets to mention it.

Mail in your ballot, and don't forget your ID

Hell-bent on passing a photo ID requirement for voters, Congressman Mark Green and his Republican colleagues in Congress trampled on the rights of states like Oregon, where they actually have been trying to find innovative ways to make voting easier, not harder, and increase, not decresase, turnout.

In Oregon, where voting is done by mail, the new law would pose no small problem. Blue Oregon explains.

Cheney, Cheney, he's our man

Decisions, decisions.

If I'm going to the Pfister to see Mr. Popularity, Dick Cheney, today, should I just buy the regulasr $1,000 blue plate special ticket, or pop for the five grand to have my photo taken with him?

I hope there are lot of photo ops with Congressman Mark Green and Dick Cheney. They would look good in some commercials about Washington corruption and the debacle in Iraq.

The event is one more way for special interests to give money to Mark Green. The checks go to the party, which then spends it on behalf of Green's campaign.

Does that sound shady? Does it remind you of Green's problems with taking special interest money for one campaign and illegally using it for another?

This event seems legal, so enjoy the lunch. Hope the judge's decision in the Elections Board case this afternoon doesn't give anyone indigestion.

Chaney's positives-negatives in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll are 34-50, with 13% "very positive" and 35% "very negative." Hope it rubs off.

UPDATE: Did you know that Paul Soglin and Dick Cheney were classmates? Well, sort of.

I don't suppose, in light of this report yesterday, that anyone will ask him about this, from Think Progress:
CAUGHT ON TAPE: Cheney 'Can't Buy' Idea That Iraq War Is Creating More Terrorists

President Bush isn't the only one who ignored the findings of the NIE that "the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism." Vice President Cheney did too.

On the September 10, 2006 broadcast of Meet the Press, Tim Russert presented Cheney with a CBS/New York Times poll that said the majority of Americans agree with the intelligence community's assessment that our actions overseas are creating more terrorists. "I cant buy that," Cheney responded.
UPDATE: Cheney, addressing a huge throng of 125 at the Pfister, defends the war. Green doesn't stand or sit anywhere near him, but says not to read anything into it. If all 125 paid $1,000 (doubtful) that should just about pay the costs to fly Air Force 2 to Milwaukee for the event.

CARRIE LYNCH: Green takes the money and runs.

Guess who's paying for security?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Let the wingnut speak

James Wigderson has touched off quite a debate over whether a speaker he describes as an anti-Semite should appear before the right-wing Wisconsin Forum.

If you don't like it, don't go. Stand outside and protest. Tell the sponsors you disagree with their decision. E-mail advisory board members (especially John Savage, who's he's feeling left out of the e-mail loop). Attend the event and walk out when the speaker starts to talk. But let him appear.

If we give the Nazis a permit to rally at the State Capitol, these conservatives certainly can invite whomever they like.

Is this a great country or what?

Reynolds taps campaign to keep the juice on

State Sen. Tom Reynolds, R-Pluto, may seem like a dim bulb to some observers.

But he's bright enough to figure out how to get his campaign to pay for the utilities in his home -- which, of course, is also his campaign headquarters, Gretchen Schuldt has discovered.

Hmmm. I work out of a home office...

Stay of execution in Mineral Point

Another great idea shot to hell.

There'll be no reenactment of a hanging in Mineral Point next weekend, George Hesselberg reports in the Wisconsin State Journal.

What's to blame? Simply:
The delicate sensibilities of the populace, the recommendation of a tourism consultant and the uncomfortable and unplanned connection to the November election referendum on the death penalty doomed the ambitious plans of a pair of local boosters.
In a way, it's too bad. Maybe they could have combined it with a reenactment of the Kenosha hanging of John McCaffrey in 1851, when it took him about 15 minutes on the end of the noose to die in front of a crowd of thousands. It was the only legal execution in the State of Wisconsin (Wisconsin was still a territory for the Mineral Point hanging), and was so gruesome it led to abolishment of the death penalty.

Maybe they could take the show on tour around the state during October, reminding the people of Wisconsin why this state hasn't had capital punishment for 153 years -- and why they should vote to keep it that way on Nov. 7.

Thanks for asking, but no thanks

My favorite Milwaukee daily asks: Is it time to lift nuclear ban?

No, it's not.

Not until there is some safe way to handle and store the deadly waste those plants produce, which is so potent it needs to be kept out of the environment for 250,000 years -- give or take a few.

Every day, the plants we already have keep producing more of the highly radioactive waste, and we keep stockpiling it.

Twenty-five years ago, when Wisconsin was considering a moratorium on nuclear plant construction, the industry said the solution to the waste problem was just around the corner. Now, they say it's just around the next corner.

Is it time to lift the ban? Not on your life.

Is Iraq just a fart in a windstorm?

George Bush tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer than in the grand scheme of things, the ongoing violence and death in Iraq amount to almost nothing -- a fart in a windstorm, as one of my political friends (who shall go nameless) might say.
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war... We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see -- you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people... Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy. (emphasis added)
Hat tip: Carpetbagger Report via Think Progress.

Posing for holy pictures

Some of the same Republicans who killed an ethics reform bill in the Assembly are now running for re-election as ethics reformers.

I'd heard about the mail from State Rep. Judy Krawczyk (R-Green Bay), who helped kill the ethics bill.

It turns out that what she's doing is part of a broader GOP strategy to try to turn a political liability into an asset.

The Journal Sentinel has the story.

Another DA candidate bites the dust

You have to wonder sometimes where John Chisholm found his opponents in the campaign for Milwaukee County district attorney. Did he recruit them himself?

First it was MacMac, Larraine McNamara-McGraw, his Democratic primary opponent, who suggested Milwaukee police may have shot a 13-year-old girl -- a suggestion that had zero basis in fact and made MacMac look like a loon.

Having beaten MacMac 65-35 in the primary, Chisholm now faces Lew Wasserman, an independent, in the general election. No Republican even filed. And if any independent has ever been elected to office in Milwaukee County, no one remembers it.

Any remote chance Wasserman would be taken seriously was killed off today by the Spice Boys' Sunday column.

It turns out that Wasserman has been a little less that forthright in his biography. He forgot to mention four of his six children, and two of his three wives.

And although postng the photo above (that's him the center) on his website, Wasserman didn't really explain his abbreviated time in the Army until the Spice Boys asked him about it. Then he offered a variety of reasons for his early discharge, none of them very convincing:
As it turns out, Uncle Sam asked him to hit the road after only 10 months of service. Records show that he initially was given a general discharge "under conditions other than honorable." Eight years later, Wasserman, then a law student, persuaded the military to upgrade his dismissal to a general discharge "under honorable conditions."

Even with the switch, Wasserman acknowledged that this is still short of the honorable discharge given to those who successfully complete their service time.

"I didn't want to leave the military," he said. "I didn't go up to somebody and say, 'Can I get out?' "

At first, Wasserman said he was tossed after an incident at a base in Georgia in which he removed the clip from his sidearm because he was afraid a prisoner that he was bringing to the hospital would overpower him, grab his weapon and shoot him.

"Shortly after that, some sergeant in my company came to me and said, 'You're going home,' " Wasserman said. " 'We don't know what to do with you, so you're going home.' "

After we questioned whether that really was enough of a screw-up to get a ticket home, Wasserman blamed his exodus from the service on the anti-Semitism that he said ran rampant in his unit.

"I was the only Jew in a company of 180 men, and I got hassled for that on a daily basis," Wasserman said. "Sometimes that was physical."

Finally, Wasserman said that when he used the f-word to a sergeant and mouthed off to officers - details that he said he was recollecting as our contentious interview continued - his military career ended.
Chisholm was an Army lieutenant who trained as a paretrooper and served a tour as an infantry officer in Korea.

Wasserman's exchange with the Spices about whether he is a public defender is a classic, too. Check it out.

(Disclosure: My daughter is Chisholm's campaign manager. But I'd write this in any case.)

Iraq war has made terrorism threat worse

This just in:

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has made the threat of terrorism worse, and fueled the radical terrorists' movement.

No, it's not Sen. Russ Feingold talking, although he has been saying exactly that for quite a while.

This time, it's U.S. intelligence agencies. The NY Times has the story:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23-- A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document...

The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Don't know much about Ramadan...

... and don't want to know, either. This is the kind of insightful commentary we've come to expect from the Texas Hold 'Em Blogger:


September 23rd, 2006 by Peter

One section of Islam celebrates Ramalamadingdong starting today, one celebrates it starting tomorrow.

Whatever date the wackos start celebrating, it's time for the rest of us to start being even more observant, considering the possibility of a major jihadist attack occurring during the holiday.

Posted in Islamofascism, Islam & Violence
Gee, Peter, I wonder why some Muslims don't like Americans very much.

Only a billion Muslims (wackos) will observe Ramadan, the most sacred time of their year. (File that under Islamofascism and violence.)

Voice of America notes that even George W. Bush has expressed good wishes as Ramadan begins.

From Bush's message:
Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the common values that bind us together. Our society is enriched by our Muslim citizens whose commitment to faith reminds us of the gift of religious freedom in our country.

Laura and I send our best wishes for a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak.

I know Jessica McBride, like Peter, long ago declared she knows all she wants to about Islam. But in case anyone else would like to know more about Ramadan, here's a link.

Scandal vs. sanction

The Georgia Thompson case is now officially a scandal, according to today's page one headline.

And the State Elections Board's finding that Congressman Mark Green has illegally transferred $467,000 in special interest money, and the board's order to return the money? For the last two days, that has been described as a "sanction," here and here.

Do you think the headline writers are conscious of how their work will look in campaign television commercials, or is that just an accident?

I'm trying hard not to be a conspiracy theorist, but it gets harder every day.

UPDATE: The final piece of evidence that the Journal Sentinel new pages have leaned heavily Greenward: McBride defends the newspaper. I rest my case.

The plot thickens in Elections Board case

Here's a little something else for Paul Bucher to investigate. It wasn't front page news, of course, and the Journal Sentinel didn't do its own reporting, but at least this story made the paper -- or at least part of it did.

For some mysterious reason, only about half the story ran, on the front of the Metro section, with a line that said turn to 5B for the rest. But the rest didn't run, so you never got to read the part about Wiley's phone call, or the Democratic reaction. I'm not suggesting it was intentional, but it is still distressing.
GOP leader also contacted board

No strategy discussed in brief call, Wiley says

Associated Press

Madison-- On the day a district attorney announced he will investigate lobbying of Elections Board members by an attorney for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, the head of the state Republican Party said he too had conversations with a board member the day before a key vote.

At issue is the appropriateness and legality of conversations and e-mails that took place before the board voting 5-2 on Aug. 30 to require Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green to return nearly $468,000 in campaign donations.

On Thursday, the Journal Sentinel revealed that three Democrats who voted for Green to return the money had been contacted in the days leading up to the vote by Doyle campaign attorney Michael S. Maistelman.

Elections Board attorney George Dunst has said there was nothing illegal about the contact, and Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said Friday he will not be launching an investigation.

But Paul Bucher, the Waukesha County district attorney who lost in the Sept. 12 Republican primary for attorney general, said Friday that he believes he has jurisdiction to look into the allegations surrounding the meeting that occurred in Brookfield, which is in his county.

Bucher said he plans to look for violations of the state's open meeting laws, ethics code and lobbying statutes.
That is where the story ends, at least in my edition of the newspaper.

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story:
Meanwhile, Republican Party executive director Rick Wiley said Friday that he spoke with Elections Board member John Savage, a Republican who was selected to serve by the party, on the day before the vote. Wiley said he called Savage to consult with him after hearing that Savage told people at a GOP fund raiser that he did not believe the vote was going to go in favor of Green.

Wiley said Savage told him that given the partisan makeup of the board - which has four Democrats, three Republicans, one Libertarian and one non-partisan appointee - it was unlikely Green's position would win out. Wiley said he told Savage he had to agree, but they didn't discuss any other strategy about the vote.

A call to Savage's home late Friday rang unanswered.

Wiley said he talked to no other board members and that he knows of no one else with the party or Green's campaign who spoke to the board.

Doyle's campaign seized on the news.

"For days Republicans have been pointing fingers at everyone but themselves to distract voters from the simple fact that Congressman Green violated state and federal laws with his illegal transfer," said Melanie Fonder, Doyle's spokeswoman. "What's wrong here is the Republican hypocrisy has been exposed."

Wiley said he figured that would be the Democratic response, but his brief conversation with Savage was different from the e-mails Maistelman sent that outlined specific action board members should take and how they should vote.

"He was bound and determined to write the language for this transfer and how they were going to deem that Mark Green did this illegally," Wiley said.

The three Democrats who were lobbied by Maistelman, along with another Democrat and a Libertarian board member, voted in favor of the order against Green. Savage and another Republican member voted against it.
The reason it's not a better, juicier story is that Maistelman put things in writing. Wiley wisely made a phone call, and no one will ever know what was said in that conversation. Good to hear it was not about "strategy." Maybe that's because the Republican board members were automatically going to vote to let Congressman Mark Green break the law. It's a little hard to believe that Wiley called Savage to find our how many members of the board were Republicans, and hard to understand why, only four of nine members are Dems, why it should be assumed the decision would go against Green.

There was nothing wrong with Maistelman contacting board members, and nothing wrong with Wiley's phone call. But, sauce for the goose ...

Afterthought. It should be noted that this AP story comes after two days of the JS failing or refusing to ask the right questions, and letting Green and the GOP get away with carefully parsed statements that "no one from the campaign" had contacted any board members. I still say that if Green's lawyer didn't talk to any board members before the meeting, he should be fired for malpractice.

UPDATE: This Dem Party release is amusing and on target:
Wiley Calls for Resignation of
Republican Elections Board Member

RPW Executive Director Attacks Democrats
for Doing Exactly What He Himself Did

MADISON-- The hypocritical partisan attacks from Republicans just keep coming.

Yesterday, the Republican Party of Wisconsin called on Democratic members of the State Elections Board to resign over contacts with a Democratic elections lawyer that the board’s own attorney said were legal and appropriate. [Source: Associated Press, 9/22/06]

That same day, it was learned that RPW Executive Director Rick Wiley called his own appointee on the board just one day before the board ruled that Congressman Mark Green violated state campaign finance laws. [Source: Associated Press, 9/22/06]
UPDATE 2: Saturday's story was reprinted in Sunday's paper, inside the Metro section, in my edition, with a note saying only part of the story ran in some editions because of a production error.

A nugget from WisPolitics' report to subscribers:
[Republican board member John] Schober said he was not contacted prior to the Green vote. But, he said, it isn't unusual for members to receive e-mails as a group and wouldn't condemn his fellow board members for their contacts with Maistelman.

"Mere contact in and of itself isn't prohibited," said Schober, who was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center. "The fact somebody contacted them to me isn't improper. It isn't for me to judge other board members and how they arrive at their decisions."

Friday, September 22, 2006

The O'Reilly Enemies List

Not since Richard Nixon have we seen so comprehensive a list of people who need to be punished for their transgressions.

In fairness, this is technically not an "enemies" list. It is, Media Matters says, "the list of people he specifically attacks" in his new book, Culture Warrior. [It} "shows that among the dozens there appear to be only two clear conservatives -- Michael Savage and Ann Coulter." Don't you wish you were in this distinguished company?
Air America host Al Franken
Michael Savage
The New York Times
Air America Radio
Boston Globe
Washington Post
Baltimore Sun
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Miami Herald
New Orleans Times-Picayune
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Kansas City Star
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Houston Chronicle
Denver Post
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Oregonian
San Francisco Chronicle
Sacramento Bee
Los Angeles Times
St. Petersburg Times
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert
New York Times columnist Frank Rich
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
Roger Baldwin, founder of the ACLU
Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU
University of California-Berkeley professor George Lakoff
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Harris Green
Howard Dean
Progressive financier George Soros
Progressive financier Peter Lewis
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz
New York Daily News entertainment columnist Jack Matthews
Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez
Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez
Dan Rather
Tom Brokaw
Ted Koppel
ABC News producer Rick Kaplan
Walter Cronkite
Bill Moyers
Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
British Broadcasting Co.
Newsweek senior editor and columnist Jonathan Alter
Ann Coulter
New York Times Magazine columnist Randy Cohen
New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger III
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller
Sam Donaldson

Jon Stewart

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof

New York Times assistant editor Adam Cohen

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jeff Gelles

Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board

Associated Press television writer Frazier Moore
Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker
Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson
Ted Turner
National Public Radio host Terry Gross
Jane Fonda
Jeremy Glick, author and son of 9-11 victim Barry Glick
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan
Filmmaker Michael Moore
Barbra Streisand
Washington State Supreme Court
Associated Press
Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt
The "majority" of the Vermont press
Susan Sarandon
George Clooney
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA)
Alec Baldwin
Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin
David Letterman

GOP abhors playing politics

Isn't it disgusting that someone's politicizing the State Elections Board case against Congressman Mark Green? Republilcans are outraged that anyone would play politics with a board appointed by politicians.

I'm glad we have a principled prosecutor who can step in and do the right thing, even if he has no authority.. Shouldn't he be out rounding up illegal aliens?

Now those dirty Dems are smearing Mark Green's reputation. What next?

UPDATE: The plot thickens.

Role reversal: Voters knock on candidate's door

WisPolitics reports:
After Reynolds Misses Debate, Organizers Drop By His House

By David A. Wise

WAUWATOSA -- A small group of organizers and attendees of a 5th Senate District candidate forum paid a visit to the West Allis home of Sen. Tom Reynolds Wednesday night to express their discontent with the fact the Republican incumbent refused to attend a debate earlier that evening.

Reynolds said he didn't attend the debate with Democratic challenger Jim Sullivan out of concern that possible footage of the event would be used against him in an attack ad.
I assume they didn't bring a camera.

Quote, unquote

"Work like hell for campaign finance reform, but until then donate 'til you bleed."
-- Russell Wallace, quoting his unidentified political mentor on his Reform Dem blog, where he has concluded that money and television advertising win elections.

Hat tip: Waxing America.

To lobby or not? Doyle damned either way

Sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Thursday, the do-gooders, politically naive, and Republican partisans all joined the chorus to complain that someone lobbied the State Elections Board on behalf of Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign. Even an editorial writer or two chimed in.

Two years ago, some of the same people criticized Doyle for not lobbying the Elections Board.

The issue then was regulation of issue advocacy campaigns, which the board rejected by a single vote. One of the "no" votes was cast by Martha Love, then a member of the board representing the Democratic Party. The other votes against it all came from Republicans, and the proposal failed 5-4.

Here's what Jay Heck of Common Cause had to say about it:
The commitment of Governor Jim Doyle to this or to any campaign finance reform measure must also be called into serious question yet again. Doyle, the titular head of the state Democratic Party, said he supported this measure but yet again failed to secure enough votes to get it passed. Does anyone seriously doubt that if the Governor had really wanted to see this reform measure passed by the state elections board, that he would have been denied by members of his own political party?

The Democratic appointment of Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha) to the Elections Board changed his no vote in May to yes in support of the reform measure largely because State Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison) had 14 Assembly
Democrats sign a letter to Kreuser's appointment to the board, Carl Holborn, in support of closing the issue ad loophole in August.

Had Governor Doyle called Martha Love--which he did not do-- he could have had secured this reform. He did not and the reform measure lost by a single vote.
Lobbying members of your own party was a good thing then. The end justifies the means, apparently. So it was good that Holborn changed his vote after getting some pressure from Assembly Dems, but bad that he was lobbied via e-mail by the Doyle campaign's attorney?

More from The Badger Herald:
The Elections Board is composed of nine members: four Democrats, three Republicans, one Libertarian and one appointment from the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Martha Love, the only Democrat on the Board to vote against reform, joined the three Republican and one Libertarian Board members, who voted to defeat the proposal.
The outcome of last week's decision has caused some to question Governor Jim Doyle's dedication to campaign finance reform.

However, Melanie Fonder, a spokesperson for Doyle, said the Governor repeatedly made it clear he supports reform and that he is disappointed with the Elections Board ruling...

"This latest episode where Gov. Doyle, who did nothing to convince Martha Love [to vote for reform], is another example of his insincerity for campaign finance reform," Heck said.

Fonder said "it's very unfortunate," but she placed most of the blame on the Republicans. She also noted that if a single Republican had been willing to vote for reform, the legislation would have passed.

"The Governor is disappointed that the Republicans killed this,"Fonder said.
Heck, on the other hand, noted that the Republicans have always opposed reform and were never expected to vote in favor of regulation.
[It is wrong] to suggest that Republicans are to blame here," Heck said.
And a Journal Sentinel story by Steve Walters, the same guy who broke the big "scandal" Thursday:,
Elections Board refuses to regulate 'issue' ads

Democrat joins 3 Republicans, Libertarian to defeat measure, 5-4

Those who have been pushing campaign-finance reform for years lamented the vote and said Doyle should have done more to try getting it approved.

"It's a lost opportunity," said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, a non-profit group that helped negotiate a campaign-finance package that died in the Legislature. "We haven't done anything in this state since 1977 to reform our campaign-finance laws, and that's just astounding."

...Three board members appointed by Republicans, Brant and Milwaukee County Democratic Chairwoman Martha Love voted against the proposed rules. They outvoted Myse and three board members named by Doyle and other Democrats.

Heck and Mike McCabe, executive director of the non-profit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign that monitors campaign cash, blamed Doyle for failing to convince Love to change her vote.

Doyle "says he supports (regulation), but I've yet to see actions backing up those words," McCabe said.
Doyle and his campaign have long opposed the transfer of federal campaign money into a state account. They opposed it when Tom Barrett did it in 2001, and they opposed it when Mark Green did it. This time, the campaign's actions backed up its words. Is everybody happy? I think not.

UPDATE: The plot thickens.

Mark Green, our man in Washington

They say your life and property are never safe when Congress or the state lefislature is in session.

Look at how much damage Congressman Mark Green managed to do in a very short trip to Washington, as reported by Cory Liebmann of One Blog:
Mr. Green Goes to Washington (Votes Twice for Torture and Once to Disenfranchise)

Congressman Mark Green took a short break from campaigning and fundraising to go to Washington D.C. to vote on two very important items of interest. Whether the U.S. should unilaterally change the Geneva Convention meaning of torture and whether voters should have to show a photo ID when voting...

Congressman Mark Green is apparently so fond of torture that he voted for it on the House Judiciary Committee numerous times in only one day. The first time that the House Judiciary Committee voted on torture the President's proposal was defeated. Surprisingly three Republicans voted with all of the Democrats in rejecting the use of torture. Not Mark Green.

Not being happy with the result, Congressman F. Jim Sensenbrenner rounded up the two Republican members that were absent during the first vote and twisted the arm of a third and held what amounts to a do-over. With the second try the dictatorial Republicans were able to put their seal of approval on Bush's desire to dishonor our commitments to the Geneva Convention. So Congressman Mark Green showing that he will follow Bush to the end, followed through with a yes vote for torture twice in one day.

Then Congressman Mark Green stood on the House floor making the tired old claims of possible voter fraud in Wisconsin. By the way, what is it with the radical right wing and their constant bashing of our beloved state? First they bash our economy, then they accuse our largest city of being the "murder capital of the U.S." and now their accusing us of sponsoring voter fraud...

So it looks like Congressman Mark Green was a busy man yesterday. Even though the media has failed to ask him a few important questions regarding his opinion as a U.S. Congressman, he came through for Wisconsin voters yesterday and showed us two things. He is apparently for torture and for disenfranchising voters. I don't count either of those as Wisconsin values.
Here's what the NY Times had to say about the photo ID bill backed by Green:
Keep Away the Vote

One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party's strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic. The Senate should not go along with this cynical, un-American electoral strategy.

The bill the House passed yesterday would require people to show photo ID to vote in 2008. Starting in 2010, that photo ID would have to be something like a passport, or an enhanced kind of driver's license or non-driver's identification, containing proof of citizenship. This is a level of identification that many Americans simply do not have.

The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting.

Noncitizens, particularly undocumented ones, are so wary of getting into trouble with the law that it is hard to imagine them showing up in any numbers and trying to vote. The real threat of voter fraud on a large scale lies with electronic voting, a threat Congress has refused to do anything about.

The actual reason for this bill is the political calculus that certain kinds of people -- the poor, minorities, disabled people and the elderly -- are less likely to have valid ID. They are less likely to have cars, and therefore to have drivers' licenses. There are ways for nondrivers to get special ID cards, but the bill's supporters know that many people will not go to the effort if they don't need them to drive.

If this bill passed the Senate and became law, the electorate would likely become more middle-aged, whiter and richer -- and, its sponsors are anticipating, more Republican.

Court after court has held that voter ID laws of this kind are unconstitutional. This week, yet another judge in Georgia struck down that state's voter ID law.

Last week, a judge in Missouri held its voter ID law to be unconstitutional. Supporters of the House bill are no doubt hoping that they may get lucky, and that the current conservative Supreme Court might uphold their plan.

America has a proud tradition of opening up the franchise to new groups, notably women and blacks, who were once denied it. It is disgraceful that, for partisan political reasons, some people are trying to reverse the tide, and standing in the way of people who have every right to vote.
UPDATE: The new law would cost the states $11-billion. Any idea how Gov. Green would pay for it?

All the news that fits our point of view

All in a day's work for Journal Sentinel editors:

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2006, 1:05 p.m. , JS Online:
Justice Department: Green transfer illegal

Friday morning paper:
Green heads to court over sanction

The news, of course, is not that Green is going to court. That was reported last week.

The news is not that a Doyle lawyer lobbied some members of the Elections Board, although Steve Walters managed to start today's story with that. It was reported yesterday.

The new development was that the state Dept. of Justice argued that all of the $1.3-million Green transferred from his federal account was illegal, except for $43,000 he could transfer from one committee to another. Previously, only $467,000 in political action committee money had been questioned.

The online story made that point. But by morning all was back on track in the JS newsroom, where everything Jim Doyle does is wrong and everything Mark Green does is just peachy.

UPDATE: Jay Bullock on the JS' campaign narrative.

Gretchen Schuldt, a former JS reporter, notes a little inconsistency.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Madison can keep its identity

Madison, worried that it might somehow turn into Milwaukee, gets some advice from Mayor Tom Barrett about 10 ways to make sure that never happens.

UPDATE: Dave Diamond says the real question is how to keep Madison from becoming Waukesha.

State Sen. Ron Brown anti-family?

Those shady right-wing groups are at it again, running negative radio commercials in the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls area, where State Sen. Dave Zien is in some real trouble. The spots, sponsored by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Builders and others, rip Zien's opponent, Pat Kreitlow, for opposing the so-called Taxpayer Protection Amendment, a constitutional amendment that went down in flames last session.

A Daily Kos diary describes the spot:
Two adults, a male & a female, talking about how they spent a lot on school supplies & clothes. They talk about how much they're taxes and how they can't keep their money because of that. Then the woman says you should hear how bad it will get with Pat Kreitlow, since he's against the "Taxpayer Protection Amendment" which would cap taxes & spending. She says Kreitlow calls it a scheme & a gimmick. They wonder why he opposes lowering the tax burden, and lowering taxes to keep jobs to then keep keep kids living in the Chippewa Valley. Then, the best part of the ad: the two claim that Kreitlow isn't worried about kids' future, and since he's against the "Taxpayer Protection Amendment," he's against families. That's right, Pat Kreitlow is against families.
What makes this especially interesting is that Ron Brown, the State Senator in the district adjoining Zien's, is one of five Republican Senators who voted against the TPA, also known as Bride of TABOR, when it died in the Senate.

Brown, who like Zien is targeted by Democrats this fall, is the only one of the five up for re-election this fall.

Will we hear radio spots from WMC et al. saying Ron Brown is anti-family? Or will the Democrats have to run them?

Today's 'expose'

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

People lobby the State Elections Board members to try to persuade them to vote their way.

Not surprised?

The Journal Sentinel thought it was worth the top headline on page one today:
Doyle lawyer urged sanction
He lobbied 3 on Elections Board before Green vote

Madison - A lawyer for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign repeatedly lobbied three Democratic members of the State Elections Board before they voted with the majority to order Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green to divest $467,844 in donations from out-of-state political action committees, records show.
Giving it that kind of play, of course, suggests that the paper uncovered some wrongdoing.

You had to read to the 14th paragraph to find this:
[Doyle's lawyer Michael] Maistelman's contacts with the three board members were legal, said board legal counsel George Dunst. Any member of the public, and officials of the Green campaign, could have contacted board members to argue their position before the vote, Dunst said.
"Not that there's anything wrong with that," as Jerry Seinfeld would say.

Quote, unquote

"...It's like, are we bored with the war now? Is that the new thing? We don't cover a war guys are fighting? And I watch the news, I don't see the war any more. It has been taken off television, and Bush must love it. Certainly Karl Rove loves the fact that the Iraq War has gotten boring for the American people..."
-- Chris Matthews on Imus, via Think Progress.

So much for supporting the troops

This Federal Times story speaks for itself.
Parental leave bill killed

Congressional negotiators have killed a Senate-passed proposal granting liberal time off work for people caring for the children of deployed U.S. troops.

A two-part leave plan had passed the Senate earlier this year, amending the federal government's donated leave program and encouraging private-sector businesses to also create flexible leave for people, other than parents, who are carrying for the children of deployed troops.

Sen. Russell D. Feingold, D-Wis., was the chief sponsor of the plan that was attached to the Senate version of the 2007 defense authorization bill. He called it the Military Family Support Act, and said it was aimed at caregivers who were helping single parents or dual-service couples in which both the husband and wife were deployed.

Sen. James M. Jeffords, I-Vermont, was the chief co-sponsor for the proposal for a benefit that would apply to those who are 21 years old or older and are designated as the primary caregiver for the child of a deployed service member.

For federal workers, Feingold's plan would have allowed leave donated by co-workers to be used ahead of regular leave for caregivers who need time off when carrying for children. Current rules allow donated leave to be used only after all regular leave has been exhausted for someone who is not the parent or legal guardian of a child.

For the private sector, Feingold's provision encouraged, but did not require, businesses to create liberal leave programs for caregivers.

The Senate passed the leave plan in June by voice vote, an indication that the Senate did not consider it controversial. It ran into problems, however, when the House and Senate began negotiations to write a compromise version because the provision attached to the defense bill falls under jurisdiction of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The chairman of that committee, Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., announced he opposed the plan because it considered it unnecessary.

That left House negotiators no option but to refuse to accept it, according to congressional aides involved in the negotiations who asked not to be identified because details about the closed-door talks over the defense bill are considered sensitive until work is completed and because they are not authorized to talk with the press.

Rep. George Miller of California, ranking Democrat on McKeon's committee, had urged adoption of the plan but he couldn't persuade McKeon, and because he is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress, his recommendation carried less weight to negotiators than what the Republican chairman wanted.

Prediction: Sullivan will win debate

It's debate night again in the 5th State Senate District.

My money's on Jim Sullivan, the Wauwatosa alderman and Democratic candidate, who will show up.

It would be a nice surprise if the incumbent, Republican Tom Reynolds, showed up. But he's afraid if he does someone might record what he says for posterity.

The debate -- or Sullivan forum -- is at 7 p.m. at St. Therese Catholic Church, at 95th & Bluemound Road.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meet Jack Bauer.

He plays to win.


Brawler explains.

Back by popular demand

Meet the next President?

The San Francisco Examiner's headline, "Meet the Next President: Russ Feingold knows what he wants," makes it sound like our boy is in the race for sure.

The article puts some words in Feingold's mouth:
The White House is where Feingold wants to go.
He certainly doesn't say that, and says he doesn;t even know if he'll run.

But the Examiner seems certain. Story.

Voucher group to invest $1-million in Green

A school choice group based in Michigan, but with Wisconsin connections, has bought three weeks of television time in Wisconsin at a cost estimated at close to a million dollars to help Congressman Mark Green in the governor's race.

It begins on Sept. 26, the day after the current negative commercial from the Republican Governors Assn. ends. No coincidence.

Also, it's no coincidence that Green released his education plan, including a call to expand school choice, Tuesday, a couple of days after the buy was placed.

Is that pay to play, or just politics? Is this different from Green accepting more than $100,000 from real estate interests just before announcing his housing plan, which benefited them?

(I let the news media know about the buy yesterday, but they showed no interest. Too busy combing through candidate finance reports, looking for $1000 from somebody with a state contract, I guess.)

All Children Matter is the group which did the opposition research and filed the complaint about Dem State Senate candidate Donovan Riley double-voting in Illinois and Wisconsin. Riley, who dropped out of the race, was a school choice opponent running against Jeff Plale, a school choice supporter. All Children Matter crowed about that, and said that would free up money for other races, including the gov's race, describing Green as a "champion of school choice."

An affiliate, Alliance for Choices in Education, ran radio commercials attacking Doyle on the school choice issue in February during a dispute over raising the cap on school choice enrollment in Milwaukee. Doyle agreed to a compromise, but apparently will get no credit for that.

The new million-dollar buy is bound to be negative, and may never mention school choice (especially since it only benefits Milwaukee. I don't think I'd be advertising that in Green Bay.)

So, what does Green's education "plan" have in common with his other "plans?" The Journal Sentinel:
Brookfield - U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay, the Republican candidate for governor, endorsed a broad set of education initiatives Tuesday, including expansion of Milwaukee's voucher program and merit pay for teachers, but fell short on providing some critical details.
I will leave the analysis to Jay Bullock, who does a thorough job and concludes:
All told, then, the Mark Green "plan" for education in Wisconsin is at best a collection of stale conservative ideas backed by clearly flawed studies or anti-union ideology. At worst, it's a cynical and empty pile of rhetorical sugar that the yeast that are his supporters can gorge on--and, predictably, they're already blowing gas...

Without any actual examination of what's in these proposals or an understanding of the underlying issues, Green's supporters have just jerked their knees with joy that Green wants to expand choice and weaken or eliminate the collective bargaining power of that evil union. They don't give any thought for whether these proposals would do thing one to improve teaching and learning or save taxpayers any real money.

And these proposals won't: What Greens's got is a collection of empty rhetoric and promises to help private schools, not public ones. You've got the end of collective bargaining with no promise of reward (except a commission to study merit pay) for teachers who lose their protections. You've got gimmicky one-size-fits-all solutions imposed on the hundreds of widely varying Wisconsin school districts. There is nothing about addressing, for example, the achievement gap or, as Doyle has done, providing students an incentive to take accelerated classes. How anyone can call that awesome or ambitious or significant is beyond me.