Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bill Clinton coming for free Milwaukee rally

Bill Clinton's coming to Milwaukee on Friday, and you can forget the $500 ticket. It won't even cost you 5 bucks. Details:
Bill Clinton to Rally Voters in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE - President Bill Clinton will rally voters to elect Democrats at a public event on Friday, November 3 in downtown Milwaukee. The rally will be held at the Milwaukee Theatre at 500 W. Kilbourn Ave. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Governor Jim Doyle, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Falk, and other Democratic candidates will all be there.

Call 1-877-646-2006 or click this link to RSVP.
Note that it does not say what time he's coming. Plan to be there awhile.

-- Working for Change. (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Did Green unspend his $467,000?

Bruce Murphy of Milwaukee Magazine has spotted a slight contradiction in Congressman Mark Green's description of just where that $467,000 in illegal special interest money resides:
In a Sunday story, Mark Green told the media he planned to finish his campaign without spending the $467,844 in federal campaign funds he transferred to his campaign. Both the state Elections Board and a Dane County judge ruled that the transfer of funds was illegal; Green wants the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

It sounds very upright that Green won’t spend this money. But on August 30, after the Elections Board made its ruling, his campaign spokesperson, Mark Graul, told the press that the $467,844 had already been spent. So what are we supposed to believe at this point?
Murphy says Green did the same shuffle with money from Tom DeLay.

Zounds! Zogby off again

There's a new Zogby poll that says the governor's race is tied - or, if you listen to the Green campaign, that Mark Green "leads" by one half per cent.

That's some pretty precise polling from a firm that doesn't even do interviews with voters, but uses an automated survey. [Correction: It's an interactive Internet survey. See below. I knew better but was too hurried.]

Before anybody gets too excited, consider this: The same poll has Herb Kohl leading Robert Gerald Lorge by 9%.

Anybody want to put some money down with that point spread?

Zogby had Doyle in a dead heat way back in November 2005 against either Green or Scott Walker(remember him?).

Ask President Kerry about Zogby.

From the Oldies but Goodies Xoff Files:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Poll shows tight governor's race --
and John Kerry beating George Bush

I said here recently that my money is on Jim Doyle to win reelection in 2006, but I am not giving any points. I expect it to be a tight race, as his last race and the last two presidential races have been in Wisconsin.

A new Zogby poll bears that out, showing Doyle in a virtual dead heat with either Mark Green or Scott Walker.

Whenever I post poll results that support my position or opinion, my faithful right-wing readers pick it to pieces, nitpicking the methodology and conclusions. One even suggested recently that no sample of less than 1,000 people was meaningful statewide, forcing me to point out that 1,000 -- not 50,000 -- is a typical sample for a national poll. (Statewide are usually 400-600.)

So I won't go into detail about Zogby's methodology, which you can read about here. I will note, however, that Zogby uses a new technique of inter-active online polling and actually does only 20-40 telephone calls in each state. And many who participate in the surveys are "regulars" who do it all the time. All of that's a little troubling, and the jury is still out on its accuracy.

So before the Republicans get too gleeful, they might want to take into account a scene in the new documentary of the 2004 Kerry campaign, "Inside the Bubble." Zogby's Soundbites blog reports:

It features, among other not-ready-for-prime-time moments ... Kerry message guru Robert Shrum confidently declaring a few days before the 2004 election: "Zogby [a prominent pollster] just announced who's gonna win. Us!"

POSTSCRIPT: Forgot to mention the Senate race, which has Herb Kohl one point ahead of Tommy Thompson (a non-candidate, unless he is unhappy with how much ink he's getting lately) and 8 points up on former Rep. Mark Neumann (is he even thinking about running?)

Scooter Jensen: Still a player

Not only is he not in jail where he belongs, but former Assembly Speaker and convicted felon Scott Jensen is helping to fund legislative campaigns. One Wisconsin Now reports.

The second shoe

Jim Doyle gets both Madison papers, a rare feat. Today's Capital Times:
Editorial: Doyle for governor

Over the past four years, no governor in the United States has more consistently and effectively challenged the agenda of the Bush administration, its congressional allies and their amen corner in the state legislatures than Wisconsin's Jim Doyle.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress began to erect barriers to meaningful stem cell research, Doyle developed a $750 million strategy to ensure that Wisconsin would continue to lead not only in stem cell research, but biotechnology, biomedical and health sciences research.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress sold out prescription drug policy to the big pharmaceutical companies, Doyle established a pioneering Web site to help Wisconsinites learn how to fill their prescriptions through Canadian pharmacies safely and at a fraction of the cost.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress sold out energy policy to the big oil companies, Doyle doubled Wisconsin's commitment to heating assistance for low-income families and took steps to make tens of thousands of additional families eligible for state aid to help pay skyrocketing home heating bills.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress refused to increase the minimum wage, Doyle overcame legislative opposition and hiked Wisconsin wages.

When Republican legislators attempted to undermine grass-roots democracy in Wisconsin by dramatically restricting the ability of local elected officials to create budgets designed to meet the needs of their communities, Doyle vetoed the measure.

When Republican legislators sought to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling protecting rights of victims of corporate wrongdoing to seek fair compensation for their pain and suffering, Doyle vetoed the legislation.

When Republican and Democratic legislators voted for a mean-spirited "marriage" bill that was designed to exploit stereotypes and enshrine discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and families, Doyle vetoed the bill.

When Republican and Democratic legislators voted for legislation that would have made it possible to carry concealed weapons into public spaces despite the fact that the legislation was opposed by public safety, domestic violence and community groups across the state Doyle vetoed the proposed law.

Reading a list like this one makes it sound like Doyle has been a perfect governor. Unfortunately, that's not the case. As readers of this newspaper know, we have disagreed bitterly with his moves on tax policy and business regulation.

We think he should be far more supportive of Wisconsin's best-in-the-nation state employees. And we fear that he has taken too many bad lessons on ethics and campaign finance from one of his predecessors, Tommy Thompson. On many of these issues, we like what Green Party nominee Nelson Eisman has to say.

But the close race for governor is not between Doyle and Eisman. It is between Doyle and U.S. Rep. Mark Green, a Green Bay Republican who gave unquestioning support to the Bush administration on every one of the issues listed above and who would have signed every piece of legislation that Doyle vetoed.

The choice is a stark one. And, as such, it is easily made.

Voting to re-elect Jim Doyle as governor is not merely the wise choice. It is essential if Wisconsin is to resist the most dangerous policies of the Republican right, which neither understands nor respects Wisconsin values.

Live from Wisconsin: American Halloween

Family ties demand that I plug this, since our son is a field producer for the G4 network and is working on this extravaganza which takes place tonight, live from Menomonee Falls.

Mark and Mike of "American Movie" fame will be hosting Halloween from their lawn in Menomonee Falls. They will be grilling out polish sausages, talking with locals, dealing with zombies, and at the same time, trying to create the first ever 5 minute live horror film.

Everyone is invited.

If you can't go, at least visit the website and check out the outtakes of the promos, which are hilarious. The official scoop:
Here's your big chance to be on live TV.
The date: Tuesday, October 31
The Times: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. LIVE!
The location: The House
N57W15940 Bette Dr
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Parking: The actual block that the house is on will be closed off to traffic, but parking is available on any of the adjacent streets! DJ's Bar & Grill and Karl's Country Market are also approved parking locations.

The cost: Free.

Food: Mark and Mike will be handing out polish sausages to the crowd. (Some Wisconsin Halloween tradition?)

Requests: Please dress in costume! If you would like to be a zombie in Mark's live movie, please dress as a zombie!!

Should be a great time! We look forward to seeing you!

The G4 Staff.
In Milwaukee, G4 is on Time Warner, Channel 149, if you want to watch live from your home, which is probably the option I will choose.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One more personal reason to vote no

I've known Bill Hetland, one half of the couple featured in this column, for almost 40 years. I knew him as a talented journalist who revitalized a lot of smaller daily newspapers in his travels around the Midwest; he's since had a career change. I've only met Phil Anderson, his partner, in the last six months. They have one of the most caring relationships I've ever seen.

Anyway, this is one of 100 reasons I am voting no on the gay marriage/civil union amendment:
Staying together 18 years is about mutual commitment, not sex

By Bill Guida
Kenosha News
Published Sunday/Oct. 14, 2006

Bill Hetland's dedication, devotion and commitment to Phil Anderson, his life partner the past 18 years, was immediately familiar.

Meeting them as a couple for the first time, I find myself comparing their home life to that of my late parents after most of my eight siblings and I'd grown and gone.

From the time a massive stroke totally paralyzed Ma on her left side at 54, Pa tended to her every need for 16 years, bathing her, assisting with her other bathroom needs, cooking, cleaning house, doing the wash and the ironing.

Phil, 51, barely survived a car wreck in 2001 that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The next year a stroke further affected his left side, his speech and vision.

Three years ago, when the couple celebrated their 15th anniversary together, Bill presented Phil a "Certificate of Survival."

It's a tribute for enduring femur reconstruction, nine broken ribs, back, lung and gall bladder surgery, severe bladder and urinary tract infections, a debilitating stroke, excruciating chronic pain and two major seizures.

As we talk, Boss, their golden retriever/chow/Australian shepherd mix, comfortably sprawls atop Phil's lifeless legs in the hospital bed where Phil stares reflectively at the ceiling between engaging a visitor in conversation and puffing the Pall Mall cigarettes he chain smokes.

Weekdays, he spends half the day in the sunroom of their modest Sheridan Road bungalow where he can look out on traffic and nearby houses after Bill has gone to work and the caregiver who assists Phil each morning has left for the day.

Bottles of Phil's prescription pills crowd a shelf across the small room.

A VA records clerk before his crash, Phil was the one who worked on the house, wrenched the car, did the yard work and fixed things. Bill, by his own admission, is "a klutz with tools."

They met by chance in 1987 when Phil was celebrating his 31st birthday in Wausau. For Bill, it was love at first sight. But Phil was ending a relationship that had soured, and they didn’t become a couple until 1988.

"We just hit if off," Bill says. "I thought he was a nice, kind, caring person."

Reflecting on the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, he adds: "It just enrages me when I hear people say couples like us are a threat to the sanctity of marriage.

"If people got a chance to meet individuals like us, I think it would change a lot of minds. Twenty-five years from now those (pushing for the amendment) are going to look back and be ashamed."

Bill served with the Army in Vietnam. Phil was trained as a Marine sniper. Both have honorable discharges.

Yet they fear being denied benefits given to other veterans and their spouses, like the right to be buried together in a VA cemetery or housed together in a VA assisted-living residence should either or both of them need it someday.

Bill says including a ban on civil unions could permanently prevent transferring "spousal" benefits, a move he sees as mean-spirited and vindictive.

Phil worries passage will someday force them to separate.

"If it wasn't for Bill, I'd be alone. I would have nobody. I wouldn't have a partner," he says, his emotions welling, eyes pleading. "I wouldn't be able to cope. I'm also a lover, and I need that companionship. I wouldn't have that love."

Bill quietly echoes his partner.

"It would be a life without the person who's most important to me," he says. "I've loved him since we first met, and that hasn't changed. It would be devastating not to have him around."

Now, whenever I do a column of this nature, I get responses lecturing that marriage between one man and one woman is based on properly aligned "plumbing."

Only, replace the images of Bill and Phil with your parents, grandparents, yourself and your wife, husband, girl- or boyfriend.

Ban proponents frequently cite Old Testament proscriptions barring male-to-male and female-to-female sex as an "abomination," but Bill and Phil say that misses the point.

Because of Phil's injuries, they haven't shared a bed in over five years.

Not having that intimacy hurts, but they say sex has less to do with their relationship than the need for mutual love and affection.

Says Phil, "I can sleep alone at night because I know my love is upstairs sleeping, and, in time, he will return downstairs to take care of me."

AG JB? That would be a crime

Can't take credit for this video, and don't know who did it, but enjoy.

UPDATE: I'm told the video is from Matthew and Peter Slutsky of DoubleSpeak

Their website describes what they do as an online radio show. They say: "This show aims to penetrate through the Republican noise machine and give the Democrats a forum that will resonate with the American people."

The website covers their road trip across the country in a minivan speaking with politicians and others, and includes Wisconsin visits with Russ Feingold and Kathleen Falk.

I supported it for a minute ...

An Xoff correspondent sent this from Saturday's Journal Sentinel, with a comment:
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green on Friday continued to try to defuse stem cell research as a campaign issue, saying he supports 'all the research that's taking place in Madison - all of it.'

"Later, however, Green said he wasn't aware of new, privately funded research in Madison that destroys human embryos, and said he doesn't support that."
This is a stunning admission on Green's part -- he took a position before he had made ANY inquiry on the scope of the activity being undertaken by UW professors and researchers!

Maybe he should be auditioning for Saturday Night Live -- "What's all this I hear about stem cell research? Oh -- never mind!"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

First shoe drops for Doyle

In Madison, where the State Journal and Capital Times have spent decades smiping at each other and taking opposite sides on almost every issue, people take notice on the rare occasions when a political candidate is endorsed by both papers.

Here's the first:
State better off with Doyle

A Wisconsin State Journal editorial, Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wisconsin is better off than it was four years ago.

That's a simple yet powerful reason for re-electing Gov. Jim Doyle to a second term.

Doyle, a Democrat, deserves a measure of credit for Wisconsin's progress in economic development, education and health care.

Doyle inherited a record state budget deficit and sluggish economy when he took office in January 2003. He also faced a hostile Republican-run Legislature and an entrenched state bureaucracy wary of change and reductions.

State government still has significant money problems. Yet Doyle has responsibly made difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions to help the state improve and prosper.

Just weeks into the job, Doyle proposed eliminating thousands of state government jobs. He called for a virtual freeze in general spending and a smaller percentage of aid to public schools. The painful and dramatic actions were needed to balance the state's books.

By his second budget, Doyle managed to restore the state's commitment to paying for two- thirds of school costs. And at the Legislature's urging, he adopted spending limits on local governments to ease property taxes.

Significantly, Doyle kept his promise not to raise taxes. Instead, working with the Legislature, he eliminated a tax that had punished multi-state businesses for creating jobs in Wisconsin.

Doyle has made decisions in a fair-minded way -- often disappointing the fringes of both major political parties.

For example, Doyle and the Legislature improved regulatory flexibility for the benefit of businesses and the environment. Doyle signed a reasonable cap on medical malpractice awards. In a bipartisan fashion, he helped ensure that the General Motors plant in Janesville stayed put.

Doyle has traveled with Wisconsin business leaders around the world to boost state exports. He supports ethanol to help farmers. And he is a champion of high technology, including embryonic stem cell research at UW-Madison.

Since Doyle's election four years ago, Wisconsin has gained more than 90,000 jobs, when seasonally adjusted. The state's per-capita income is rising. The vast majority of workers and more children in Wisconsin have health insurance.

Doyle's opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R- Green Bay, has some good ideas. But he has failed to make a compelling case for change at the top.

And while Green is not extreme, the Republican-run Legislature sometimes is.

Doyle stopped the Legislature from putting barriers between patients and the medications their doctors prescribe. Doyle made sure women, including university students, have easy access to birth control. Doyle vetoed legislation that would have allowed concealed handguns in shopping malls, movie theaters and on playgrounds.

The State Journal has certainly disagreed with some of Doyle's decisions, and we reserve the right to disagree with him in the future. Nevertheless, he has the state headed in the right direction. He deserves Wisconsin's support Nov. 7.
That's a surprise. Unless the Cap Times mischievously decides to go Green (party, not candidate), Doyle will get them both. That's usually a harbinger of victory -- not because they have statewide influence (they clearly don't), but because it is a sign that some consensus is emerging among those of very different views.

Tell us how you really feel

Journal Sentinel headline on its editorial on the gay marriage/civil unions amendment:

Overly broad, dangerous, unfair and simply unnecessary

How many more?

Green Bay Press Gazette:
Local Marine killed in Iraq

Zimmerman is area's first war casualty since '04

By Nathan Phelps
Green Bay Press Gazette

People who knew Luke Zimmerman say he was a hard worker, an upstanding individual who always had a smile and had long aspired to be part of the U.S. Marine Corps.

On Friday, friends and family got the news the 24-year-old Marine from the town of Green Bay was killed in Iraq.

Zimmerman, a 2000 Luxemburg-Casco graduate, was a close friend of Steve Metzler and his family. He worked for Metzler and his wife, Julie, who own Julie's Café on Main Street in Green Bay, for four years. They'd also taken him on a family vacation and he was a best friend to Scott and Troy Metzler, two of Steve's sons.

"He was a great friend," said Steve Metzler, who lives in Green Bay. "He was always smiling … the life of the party. He was always upbeat. He was a hard worker and he was a dedicated worker … and he was a man of his word.

"He was a lot of fun, he was a dedicated kid. You couldn't have asked for a nicer guy."

The Department of Defense had not yet given public notification of Zimmerman's death Saturday afternoon. That announcement from the military normally takes a day or two after family is told of the death.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who does she think she is, Scott Jensen?

Different strokes applied to different folks:
Judge says Thompson can't remain free during her appeal

Associated Press Writer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has denied a former state employee's request to stay out of prison while she appeals her conviction on charges she steered a travel contract to a donor of Gov. Jim Doyle.

In a ruling released Friday, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa said Georgia Thompson hadn't shown that she was likely to have the conviction on two counts of felony fraud overturned or be granted a new trial.

As a result, he upheld his earlier ruling that she report to prison to begin serving an 18-month sentence on Nov. 27.
And on the other hand:

Jensen to remain free pending appeals;

Ex-lawmaker's case could take two years

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jun 20, 2006

Madison-- A judge ruled Monday that former state Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen won't have to begin serving his 15-month prison sentence until he exhausts the appeals of his conviction for having aides campaign on state time.

The Town of Brookfield Republican will not have to start his prison sentence on July 15 as originally ordered and instead can remain free on a $10,000 bond, said Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert.

The appeals process could take up to two years.

Ebert noted that he remains convinced a jury was correct in convicting Jensen earlier this year of three felonies and one misdemeanor. But the judge said he recognized that if Jensen ultimately wins his appeal, time spent in prison "cannot be returned" to him.

Of course, if Georgia Thompson wins her appeal the time she spends in prison will be returned to her, apparently.

Quote, unquote

"We're going to have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a Republican governor in the state of Wisconsin..."
-- Karl Rove, in Waukesha. Let's play this one back in 10 days.

Representation without representation

Here are some excerpts from a letter to the editor of the Capital Times. Eugene Hahn, I regret to say, is the incumbent Republican state rep in Columbia and Sauk Counties:
Dear Editor:

When asked in last week's Lodi candidate forum to provide views on stem cell research, Eugene Hahn stated several times that he didn't know much about stem cell research, adding: "When I'm not certain, it's better to vote no." Meagan Yost [his Dem opponent] countered: "I'm an advocate of finding out the information before you vote, not after you vote."

... Hahn then pleaded a case against "gay marriage," ending with: "I think a civil union will probably be a better solution." Meagan Yost had to point out to Hahn that the proposed constitutional amendment would also ban civil unions...

Eugene Hahn helped block a vote on a Republican-sponsored ethics bill, then sent us all that glossy campaign piece: "Gene has worked hard to reform the way things are done in Madison." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in a Sept. 24 top-of-the fold expose, quoted Hahn as saying he would leave making changes to others: "We need something, and I haven't got the vision to see how this thing goes." ...
Steve Braker
Hat tip: My old comrade, Fighting Ed.

Just wondering

Does this look presidential to you?

Friday, October 27, 2006

GOP suppression drive paying off?

It appears the concerted Republican effort over the last several years (some would say decades) to intimidate minority voters or put up barriers to keep them from the polls is beginning to pay off. The NY Times:
Democrats' worries are backed up by a Pew Research Center report that found that blacks were twice as likely now than they were in 2004 to say they had little or no confidence in the voting system, rising to 29 percent from 15 percent.

And more than three times as many blacks as whites -- 29 percent versus 8 percent --say they do not believe that their vote will be accurately tallied.

Voting experts say the disillusionment is the cumulative effect of election problems in 2000 and 2004, and a reaction to new identification and voter registration laws.

Long lines and shortages of poll workers in lower-income neighborhoods in the 2004 election and widespread reports of fliers with misinformation appearing in minority areas have also had a corrosive effect on confidence, experts say.
Every one of those tactics and problems has been evidenced in Milwaukee. And the right-wing keeps up the pressure to make it even harder to vote. Eventually, if not this year, the GOP will win some close elections it should have lost because of its success at keeping minorities away from the polls. That's what the phony voting fraud charges and calls for photo IDs are all about, pure and simple.

Quote, unquote

"They take a prominent Republican and use that as a means to try and make mainstream conservative Republicans like myself look out of the mainstream."
-- "Mainstream" GOP State Sen. Tom Reynolds, after prominent GOPers Frank Urban and Kate Bloomberg endorsed his Democratic opponent, Jim Sullivan.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Obama a rock star at 9 a.m.?

I know Sen. Barack Obama has rock star status among Dems right now, but this set me back: Too many people coming to accommodate at Turner Hall? At 9 in the morning? On Halloween?

Rock on, Senator:

Due to the overwhelming response, we have moved the Barack Obama rally to a new location:


Join U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Governor Jim Doyle, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, and Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Falk for a rally in Milwaukee on October 31 at 9:00 a.m. at the Pere Marquette Park.

Call 1-877-646-2006 or click the link below to RSVP today:

Obama event.

Senator Obama will talk about what's at stake in the November elections and rally voters to turn out for Democratic candidates on November 7. Senator Obama has dedicated his life to public service as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and leader in the Illinois State Senate. And now, Senator Obama continues his fight for working families in the U.S. Senate.

Join Senator Barack Obama as Wisconsin Democrats rally to victory on November 7!

Quote, unquote

"You know your opponent is scared when his main opposition against you is, 'My opponent likes girls.'"
-- Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., in response to a racially-charged Republican TV spot in his Senate race.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Won't Cindy make the wingnuts wiggy?

I don't know if this has been announced yet; I haven't seen anything in the media.

Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan, the woman who ruined George Bush's three-month summer vacation, will be in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 4, for a Bring the Troops Home rally.

That should give McSykes and their army of sycophants enough material to be outraged for at least a week. Extra blood pressure meds all around. The McCarthyites will be in full bloom, finding communist links everywhere they turn. It should be quite a fun week. Hope Charlie, Jessica & Co. don't blow a gasket. (Actually, I kinda hope they do.)

Milwaukee is one of the communities with a referendum on the Iraq War on the November 7 ballot, and Cindy Sheehan is no doubt coming to crank up the troops -- the antiwar troops, that is.

The rally, organized by Peace Action Wisconsin and sponsored by a broad coalition of peace organizations, will run from 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, in the heart of downtown Milwaukee.

Y'all come.

Some guys are just hard to please

The WashPost:
Bush Is Reassuring on Iraq But Says He's 'Not Satisfied'
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 26, 2006; Page A01

President Bush declared yesterday that the United States is winning the war in Iraq despite the deadliest month for U.S. troops in a year, but he added that he is not satisfied with the situation and vowed to press Iraqi leaders to do more to stabilize their country on their own.
Man, what does it take to satisfy that guy, anyway? We won the war three years ago, as I recall.

-- Scott Stantis, Birmingham News, via Cagle.

Red state, blue state, purple rage

Jim Hightower's been roaming the country, promoting lefty causes and candidates, and checks in with what he's observed. His AlterNet column even has a Wisconsin angle, with a Fighting Bob Fest reference.

His conclusion:
The people of America are soooooo much bigger than the politics that are being served up to us by the elites. I find that people everywhere are fed up with the red-state/blue-state hokum that passes for political discourse in our country, and they're in something of a purple rage about the system's abject failure to address the BIG matters that are on people's minds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How low can you go? Rush sets the standard

David Montgomery in WashPost:

Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity.

To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele in a Maryland U.S. Senate race.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act....This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Limbaugh was reacting to Fox's appearance in another one of the spots, one for Democratic Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill against Republican James M. Talent.

But the Cardin ad is similar. It is hard to watch, unless, for some reason, you don't believe it. As he speaks, Fox's restless torso weaves and writhes in a private dance. His head bobs from side to side, almost leaving the picture frame.

"This is the only time I've ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has," Limbaugh said. "He can barely control himself."

Later Monday, still on the air, Limbaugh would apologize, but reaction to his statements from Parkinson's experts and Fox's supporters was swift and angry.

"It's a shameless statement," John Rogers said yesterday. Rogers, Fox's political advisor who also serves on the board of the Parkinson's Action Network in Washington, added: "It's insulting. It's appallingly sad, at best."

"Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," said Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-authored "Parkinson's Disease and the Family." "Any other interpretation is misinformed."
See Fox's similar spot for Gov. Jim Doyle here.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat ass. The Plank.

UPDATE 2: Brew City Brawler says McBride goes even lower.

UPDATE 3: The Recess Supervisor reviews the GOP response ad.

UPDATE 4: Katie Couric on her interview with Michael J. Fox.

Straying from the course

The White House says that not only is "stay the course" not our Iraq strategy, but it never has been.

Think Progress begs to differ.

Quote, unquote

"Wisconsin doesn't need a district attorney; it needs an attorney general, and Falk is the right person for the job."
-- The Appleton Post Crescent, in an endorsement editorial.

An objective source

Jessica McBride has a new litmus test for how you tell if a Democrat is a moderate: You ask a conservative.

If it's Jim Doyle you're asking about, you don't just ask any random conservative. Jessica turns to an objective source -- her husband, Paul Bucher, the failed AG candidate.
SATURDAY, Oct. 21, 2006, 10:55 p.m.
Sunday's slanted stories on the governor's race

In big A-1 Sunday stories, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubs Jim Doyle a moderate and Mark Green a conservative partisan.

This is typical. Liberals are painted as moderates and Republicans as extremists in the MSM (Russ Feingold, for example, always comes across as sort of a maverick Independent in the media). Many reporters are liberal. To them, liberalism is the norm - the sensible middle. They don't see themselves as extremists, so they see other liberals as moderates too.

See, here's the test: A conservative would never consider Doyle a moderate. Just for kicks, I turned to my husband before I wrote this posting and tested my premise. "Do you think Gov. Doyle is a moderate?" I asked. He started laughing. Most conservatives will probably have the same reaction. I know I did.

These two stories have to be read to be believed. If Doyle himself had written them, they couldn't be any better for him. Painting Doyle as a moderate is a MATTER OF OPINION, not objective reporting. Further, why is Doyle not labeled a partisan, but Green is?
Her hubby, of course, is the guy who is investigating whether Doyle "rigged" the Elections Board vote. The Elections Board, Ethics Board and apparently the Dept. of Justice have determined there were no violations, but Bucher is still "investigating" and no doubt will be until after the election, so the GOP can keep claiming Doyle is under investigation.

So, next time she's wondering whether some Republican is a moderate, I assume she'll ask some objective Democrat, like me. Fair's fair. And no, Paul Bucher is not a moderate.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sensenbrenner ponies up 100K to NRCC

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner is making an investment to try to remain a part of the majority in the House. He's like to chair a committee again, no doubt.

The tight-fisted Sensenbrenner has given the National Republican Congressional Committee $100,000. Of course, it's from his campaign account, not his wallet. Still, it's a sign he wants to try to buy a spot in leadership if the Rs happen to prevail.

CQ has the story and list of other big donors. Rep. Paul Ryan, who had $1-million-plus in the bank the last I knew, did not make the list, although he may have given a lesser amount.

Republicans duck women's forum

GOP legislators in the Eau Claire area have found a new excuse to duck forums with their opponents -- claim bias by the sponsors.

This is an even higher standard than the one which suggests that the governor can never meet with anyone who has contributed to his campaign or approve a state contract with any donor, or anyone who might donate later. That's the strangers-only clause.

Now the GOP have combed through their challengers' finance reports to see if any forum sponsors might have given money to a Democrat. Found one. So sorry, no show.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram has the story, and Jody at the Side Street has some words on the GOP girly men.

Piercing the Green-WMC gloom and doom

You wouldn't know it if you listen to Congressman Mark Green or the business groups like WMC that support him, but Wisconsin has done well -- much better than many Midwestern states -- in adding manufacturing jobs under Gov. Jim Doyle.

That doesn't fit the Green-WMC matrix, of course, so they continue to spread gloom and doom. Paul Soglin sets the record straight.

Doyle, Green close on health care? Not hardly

Although I am often accused by the wingnuts of being a complete water carrier for Jim Doyle and the Democrats, I don't think I have ever just printed Dem releases or columns.

Today's the exception.

When I read the Journal Sentinel story claiming that there is little difference between Jim Doyle and Mark Green on health care issues, I was flabbergasted. Health care is actually one of the defining issues in the race, and Green and Doyle are poles apart.

I was going to write about it, but the day is slipping away and I have other fish to fry and dragons to slay.

So I'm going to let Dem Party Chair Joe Wineke say it, with some minor edits in a column the party released today:

... [H]ealth care remains among the top priorities for Wisconsinites across the state...

Over the last four years, Governor Doyle has worked hard to provide access to affordable, quality health care. He has been a leader in allowing the reimportation of safe, affordable prescription drugs from Canada.

He's worked to establish the BadgerRX program and implement BadgerRX Gold, which enable the state of Wisconsin to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices.

He successfully negotiated with the federal government to save SeniorCare from elimination, ensuring lower prescription drug coverage for more than 100,000 Wisconsin seniors.

The Governor is working to expand FamilyCare statewide. The program helps seniors move out of nursing homes and back into their own homes and communities, while still receiving the health care they need.

And Governor Doyle has proposed a plan for the future that would help make health care costs even more affordable for working families. The Governor wants to make health care premiums tax free for all Wisconsinites and make sure every child has health care coverage through his BadgerCare Plus plan. And through his Healthy Wisconsin initiative, the state will continue to help lower health care costs for small employers by 30 percent and work to cut the uninsured rate in half by 2010.

But while Governor Doyle has worked to help Wisconsin families afford the health care they need, Congressman Green has done the opposite in Washington.

Congressman Green has voted to cut nearly $7 billion from Medicaid -- the federal program that thousands of Wisconsin children, seniors, and disabled people rely on for their health care.

He cast the deciding vote on the President's prescription drug program -- a disastrous bill that nearly eliminated SeniorCare, gave away billions to the big drug companies, and contains a massive coverage gap affecting thousands of seniors.

He's voted to prohibit the federal government from negotiating with the drug companies for lower prices.

He has voted against providing greater access to generic prescription drugs, which are just as effective, but are significantly lower in cost.

He's voted against allowing Americans to reimport safe, affordable drugs from Canada.

And Congressman Green has proposed a health care plan that would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts, which would help only the healthiest and wealthiest Wisconsinites, at the expense of Wisconsin's working families.

There couldn't be a sharper distinction between Governor Doyle and Congressman Green on this critical issue. While Governor Doyle has worked hard to ensure middle class and working families receive the health care they need, Congressman Green has voted for the big drug companies at the expense of average Wisconsinites.

There's only one choice for voters who want a Governor committed to providing quality, affordable health care to all Wisconsin citizens -- and that's Governor Jim Doyle.
UPDATE: If I had seen Seth Zlotocha's excellent piece first, I could have saved myself the effort.

If a poll falls in the forest ...

In a campaign season in which the Wisconsin news media have given prominent play to horse-race stories, and have fallen all over themselves to report on every poll to come along -- including many that deserved to be ignored -- how do you explain this:

A professional statewide poll, which asked objective questions on the governor's race, issues of concern to Wisconsinites, and people's views of media coverage of the issues, was totally ignored when it was released this past week.

The survey, sponsored by One Wisconsin Now, was done Oct. 9-12 with a sample of 708 voters by Abacus Associates, a national survey research firm. The sample size and neutral questions asked make it more reliable than most of the polls which have been publicly released and reported on during this campaign. Unlike some of the others, these pollsters actually interviewed real, live people on the telephone.

In a series of releases, OWN rolled out the results:

Health care is the top issue on voters' minds. Voters believe the issue has gotten far too little coverage by the media during the campaign.

Doyle leads Green by 6% in governor's race, and one reason is that he is seen as more likely to deal with health care issues.

Universal health care reform has broad support.

Voters are unhappy with the legislature's record on health care.

There was some interesting material in the findings, not the least of which was the public's assessment of which issues have gotten too little attention, and which have gotten too much. That's contained in this memo, one of several released by OWN.

John Kraus, OWN'S executive director, is experienced at media relations, having handled communications for a number of statewide political campaigns and officeholders, from Libby Burmaster to Russ Feingold. He's handled press for presidential candidates in Wisconsin. In short, he knows how the media works and how to sell a story. This one should have sold itself. But there were no buyers.

OWN's releases went to more than 200 members of the Wisconsin media every day last week, and to several national political blogs and websites.

And the stories that resulted? Zero.

Even the horse race question on the governor's race did not get a mention, except for a Journal Sentinel blog. Even WisPolitics.com, which thrives on all things political, took a pass.

[UPDATE: WisPolitics says I'm full of beans, or full of something. WisPol had the horse race item on its front page, and carried it as the second item in Wednesday's PM Update to subscribers, although that's a limited audience.]

So how to explain it?

One Wisconsin Now is a new kid on the block. But it was treated like a serious player in the policy debate when it made its debut, with a major story in the Journal Sentinel, among other notice. And there have been plenty of published reports about polls by firms I've never heard of before, so that can't be it.

OWN has a point of view. It's progressive (OK, say liberal if you must). But the conservative bent of organizations like the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute hasn't prevented WPRI's studies, reports and polls from getting prominent coverage. So that must not be it, either. After all, we all know about the media's leftish slant.

Was it because the very first release said that voters think the media are neglecting issues like health care and writing too much about Georgia Thompson?

If you're waiting for an insightful answer, or even a good conspiracy theory, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I am truly puzzled.

I am more curious than anything else about how and why this could happen. The findings of that survey could, perhaps, have added something to the final weeks of debate -- and perhaps even to the final weeks of campaign coverage. It's a missed opportunity, and I can't imagine why it was missed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Shining the light on a half-baked clown

State Sen. Tom Reynolds' ham-handed attempt to squelch criticism from blogger Gretchen Schuldt, who described him as a half-baked clown (does he know truth is a defense?) has prompted a short piece on a national site, OpEdNews. It's written by Michael Leon, a Madisonian.

This is a fight Reynolds may wish he never picked. Every time his lawyer makes another threat, Schuldt just gets feistier.

Quote, unquote

"I have not read one book about me ... You know, I just -- I feel uncomfortable reading about myself... [it is] weird to be reading books about yourself when you're still trying to be the President."
-- George W. Bush, of course, on ABC's This Week. He said he couldn't learn anything from those books anyway.

Hat tip: Think Progress.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Staying the course

WashPost reports:
Bush: No Iraq Pull Out Until 'Mission is Complete'

President Bush met today with his top advisers and military commanders on Iraq, but he offered no indication of change in strategy in his weekly radio address where he vowed not to pull U.S. troops out until "the mission is complete" and said one of the causes of the increased violence in Iraq is the enemy's desire to break America's resolve.

"The terrorists are trying to divide America and break our will, and we must not allow them to succeed . . . ," Bush said.

"Retreating from Iraq would allow the terrorists to gain a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America. Retreating from Iraq would dishonor the men and women who have given their lives in that country, and mean their sacrifice has been in vain. And retreating from Iraq would embolden the terrorists, and make our country, our friends, and our allies more vulnerable to new attacks."
So, at least no secret plan to end the war in the next two weeks.

This guy is amazing.

Failure to communicate

I'm not sure this is true, and it could bring a defamation suit, but I heard this story about the Robinsons, of Boots and Sabers.

One day Owen decided to wash his sweatshirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to Wendy, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"

"It depends," she replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"

He yelled back, "Go Aggies!"

Hat tip: Jack Lohman.

Post-debate mopup

I didn't watch Round 3.

Doyle won me over in the first two. I'm not undecided any more.

Fortunately, the Mathias family watched, and reading their report is like sitting in their living room during the debate.


UPDATE: NO KNOCKOUT! The AP sounds surprised:
After three governor's debates, no clear victor emerges

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press, October 21, 2006

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- After three prime-time governor's debates, no clear winner emerged with a knockout punch to propel a candidate to victory on Nov. 7.

The good news for Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Rep. Mark Green is neither of them suffered a self-inflicted blow that could have derailed their campaigns.
Just when was the last time a debate decided an election?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another mystery explained

Journal Sentinel's ad check of recent Doyle ad, by Steve Schultze:
The ad states:

* Doyle "helped create 170,000 new Wisconsin jobs." But the 170,000 figure uses seasonally unadjusted numbers to bolster the tally. Though the count is technically true, by using January 2003 -- generally a low point for employment during the year -- as his starting point and comparing it to last August -- generally a high employment month - Doyle's ad creates a rosier impression on state employment, a Journal Sentinel analysis published Sunday found. Using the method preferred by most economists - comparing seasonally adjusted payroll estimates - gives a net yield of 91,300 new jobs for the Doyle era."
An Xoff correspondent says:
I don't know, call me crazy, but maybe the reason that the Governor uses January 2003 is that is when he took office.

In case you need them ...

10 good reasons to vote NO on the amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions, courtesy of The Shepherd Express

WMC's October surprise

The Journal Sentinel recently asked, apparently rhetorically, Which suitor would be business' best match?

There's even been talk that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce was sitting out the governor's race.

Welcome to reality and WMC's October surprise

The message -- which Democrats should take to heart and remember for more than a week -- is that no matter what efforts they make to reach out and try to work with groups like WMC, they are Republicans at heart and will screw you in the end.

I think we'll see a different approach in Doyle's second term. I hope so.

As I was saying ... Today's JS profile on Doyle, second paragraph:
He signed almost all bills that the Republican-leaning state chamber of commerce, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, pushed through the Legislature. He pushed a job creation package of regulatory reforms for businesses wanting to expand or move to Wisconsin. He wanted nothing to do with a task force that suggested raising the sales tax in exchange for a new school-aid formula.
And Paddy Mac got the WMC memo on vetoes.

-- Matt Davies via Cagle.

Quote, unquote

"The principle sin of the neoconservatives is overbearing arrogance. It is not so much that they have been wrong. It is that nobody has ever convinced them that they have ever been wrong."
-- David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and Fort Atkinson's contribution to the right-wing leadership.

For a lot more great quotes and story on GOP infighting, go here and click on link to graphic.

Character counts, at least some of the time

This one does not seem to require any comment from me:
During National Character Counts Week, Bush Stumps for Philanderer

By Dana Milbank
Friday, October 20, 2006; Page A02

LA PLUME, Pa., Oct. 19-- So it has come to this: Nineteen days before the midterm elections, President Bush flew here to champion the reelection of a congressman who last year settled a $5.5 million lawsuit alleging that he beat his mistress during a five-year affair.

"I'm pleased to be here with Don Sherwood," a smiling president told the congressman's loyal but dispirited supporters at a luncheon fundraiser Thursday. "He has got a record of accomplishment."

Quite a record. While representing the good people of the 10th District, the married congressman shacked up in Washington with a Peruvian immigrant more than three decades his junior. During one assignation in 2004, the woman, who says Sherwood was striking her and trying to strangle her, locked herself in a bathroom and called 911; Sherwood told police he was giving her a back rub.

At a time when Republicans are struggling to motivate religious conservatives to go to the polls next month, it is not clear what benefit the White House found in sending Bush to stump for Sherwood -- smack dab in the middle of what Bush, in an official proclamation, dubbed "National Character Counts Week."
Read it all.

Campaigning in the courtroom

State Sen. Tom Reynolds -- or at least the people pulling his strings -- seems to think you can win a political campaign in the courtroom, by filing or threstening to file lawsuits and complaints, and by issuing pugnacious statements.

Robert Dohnal and J. J. Blonien, Reynolds' campaign guys, spend far more time and energy on bluster and threats than they do running any kind of real campaign, except to help Reynolds hide from debates.

Yes, there will be a lot of Reynolds mail soon; Reynolds is a printer by trade and cranks out a lot of his own campaign material, when he's not busy printing things for groups that compare the Pope to Satan. But that's another story.

In the last few months, Dohnal and Blonien have written to everyone they can think of to spread bogus double-voting charges against Reynolds' opponent, Jim Sullivan. They've asked for investigations about everything and everyone under the sun, including the Wauwatosa city clerk.

They've complained to the DAs in two counties about a campaign commercial from an independent group and a letter from a Democratic State Senate committee. Both, they say, spread false info about Reynolds, and charges should be filed.

(Why would anyone spread false information about Reynolds when there is no much true material that is truly outrageous?)

Now Reynolds & Co. have a lawyer threatening ex-reporter turned blogger Gretchen Schuldt, saying they'll file a lawsuit if she doesn't retract a post about Reynolds using campaign money to pay his utility bills.

As a former reporter, Schuldt is no doubt quite familiar with the libel and slander laws. You have to wonder whether Reynolds and Dohnal have even a passing acquaintance with them.

You have to try really hard to libel an elected official. You pretty much have to knowingly, maliciously, deliberately publish false information with the intention of doing them harm. (That's not the statute language, but it's a shorthand version.)

There's also a criminal stature in Wisconsin that says it's illegal to knowingly spread false information with the intention of influencing an election. It's one that should come off the books. As far as I have been able to determine, no one has ever been prosecuted, let alone convicted, under that statute. If Dohnal thinks he has the first case, he should file a verified complaint with the DA, not just ask him to look at a letter or commercial. If he does, it'll be thrown out, but maybe not until after the election, and maybe that's all he wants.

The Journal Sentinel wrote about the utilities issue today which tells you more than you ever wanted to know about Reynolds' real estate.

It also has this quote from Schuldt:
"This is an attempt to intimidate a constituent," said Schuldt of Milwaukee, who lives in the 5th District.

"I've not libeled anyone. If it's wrong to question what a politician does with his campaign funds, our country is in a sorry state."
Gretchen, on her Milwaukee Rising blog, just keeps asking questions.

Meanwhile, as a public service, here are Gretchen's original reports, which prompted the threatening letter:

Saturday, September 23, 2006
Questions about Tom Reynolds' utility bills

It's one thing to have your campaign headquarters in your house, as State Sen. Tom Reynolds (R- Loony Land) does.

It's another thing when you charge utility costs for your "campaign headquarters" to your campaign fund, as Tom Reynolds does. Even when there's not an election looming.

Let's go back to February, 2004, when Reynolds was very comfortably in the middle of his first term. Some people recognized him for the half-baked clown he is, but there was certainly no election threat on the immediate horizon. No reason to be burning the midnight light bulbs cooking up campaign strategies.

Yet Reynolds charged $57.79 for "gas and electric" for his "campaign headquarters" (his house) to his campaign fund. Hope none of that went to keep his kiddies warm at night. That would be a lot like converting campaign funds to personal use, which would be a distinct no-no.

State statute makes that clear:

No person, committee or group may make or authorize a disbursement or the incurrence of an obligation from moneys solicited for political purposes for a purpose which is other than political, except as specifically authorized by law.

Maybe Reynolds was in campaign mode in those election off years. In March, 2004, his campaign picked up two payments -- $58.43 on the 13th and $45.20 on the 29th; in May of that year, it was another two payments -- one for $29.44 and one for $35.81, both paid on May 28.

(In June he spent $197.28 at Half Nuts, which seems so appropriate, if somewhat understated.)

Reynolds, in fact, has been charging utility costs to his campaign fund since before he was elected in 2002. That year, a $40.17 electric bill was picked up by the campaign fund on Sept. 16, a week later, on Sept. 24, another $239.85 electric bill was paid by the same source, according to Reynolds' campaign finance report.

Reynolds' house /campaign headquarters isn't all that big -- 1,408 square feet, according to the West Allis city assessor's office. Utility costs should be relatively modest.

On and on it went, with utility costs sloughed off to the campaing fund more frequently:

November 2002 $140.98.
November, 2002 $76.18.
March 2003, $79.91
Sept. 2003, $68.33
November 2003, $32.94
December 2003, $61.06
February 2004, $57.79
March 2004, $58.43
March , 2004, $45.20
May, 2004, $29.44
May, 2004, $35.81
July 2004 $25.94
July 2004 $23.42
September 2004 35.52
September 2004 $26.32
November 2004 $32.99
December 2004 $33.83
December 2004 $58.12
Feb. 2005 $103.98
March 2005 $64.12
April 2005 $75.63
April 2005 $28.55
June 2005 $29.14
July 2005 $28.59
July 2005 $27.95
September 2005 $30.26
October 2005 $26.42
November 2005 $29.47
December 2005 $28.78
December 2005 $101.26
February 2006 $95.02
March 2006 $85.95
April 2006 $97.30
May 2006 $74.77
June 2006 $50.94
June 2006 $69.84
August 2006 $200.30
August 2006 $113.83

It could very well be that Reynolds is not charging the full cost of his utilities to his campaign, but he needs to explain how he separates his family's utility bills from his campaign headquarters' utility bills. A guy who literally poses for holy pictures can't be keeping his family warm with campaign funds.

Oh, yeah. Not a dime from Reynolds' campaign fund went to JJ Blonien, Reynolds' campaign "consultant" who also is on Reynolds' senate payroll as a staffer. Wonder how they keep those two roles nicely separate.

Sunday, October 15, 2006
Reynolds camp can't get its story straight on utility charges

Tom Reynolds used his campaign funds to pay utility bills for the "campaign headquarters" in his home, according to Reynolds' own campaign finance filings.

Bob Dohnal, Reynolds disciple and publisher of The Conservative Digest, said the bills were for Reynolds' print shop, not for his home, despite what Reynolds said in his campaign filing (and I don't think you are supposed to fib on those).

The State Democratic Campaign Committee sent out letters to Reynolds' supporters telling them of Reynolds' creative use of their money to heat his home. Reynolds then issued a statement suggesting that the utility payments were for his home, but just for the campaign headquarters part of it:

"The State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee comprised of: Chairperson, Judy Robson, Treasurer, Mark Miller and Executive Director, Matt Swentkowfske published the attached letter. The letter, with actual knowledge of the falsity of the statement, by the authors accuse me of violating state statute by using campaign funds for paying my private utility bills. The letter acknowledges that the authors know of my use of my residential property for my campaign headquarters. However, the authors go on to say that I pay my home utility bill from my campaign account which is a violation of State law. The letter also informs the Reynolds' supporters that I am using the hard earned money of supporters and contributors to my campaign illegally "to pad Tom Reynolds own pocket."

Reynolds demanded an immediate retraction and apology. You're going to be waiting a while for that one, Tom.
As for winning the election in the courtroom -- ask Congressman Mark Green how that's working out.

UPDATE: Cory Liebmann says: Ask Reynolds a question, prepare to be sued.

UPDATE 2: Gretchen Schuldt responds.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Too good to be true

Poll puts Doyle lead at 13 percent; Green disputes it

Associated Press Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Jim Doyle leads Republican challenger Mark Green by 13 points in a new poll released Thursday that was immediately disputed by a Green campaign spokesman as "flat out wrong."

The lead is more than double that shown in a survey released earlier this month.

The latest poll done by the St. Norbert College Survey Center and paid for both by the college and Wisconsin Public Radio surveyed 400 likely voters between Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The poll showed the Democratic incumbent with 51 percent support and Green with 38 percent. Wisconsin Green Party candidate Nelson Eisman had 1 percent, with 7 percent undecided and 4 percent choosing other.
I agree with Green. (Mark that down.)

Best guess, from a variety of polls done in the last couple of weeks, is that the poll released yesterday by One Wisconsin Now, which had Doyle up 6 (7 among definite voters) is about right.

A simple plan

The State Senate Democrats' plan to take back the majority certainly contains no secrets.

Despite the front-page placement of the JS story, the TOP SECRET document, stolen by Republicans six months ago but kept quiet for a last-minute dirty trick, is elementary.

The campaign plan: Win enough seats so there are more Ds than Rs in the Senate. Focus on the seats that Democrats have the best chance to win. Raise a lot of money. Do some polling to help refine a good message. And recruit some decent candidates.

Republicans see all sorts of nefarious plans, of course, and say they want to ask the State Elections Board to see whether there is any illegal coordination between Senate Dems and friendly organizations who are helping them.

If you read the plan, the Ds are very careful to make certain they are following the law, even down to when they buy polls so they can legally get them at a discount rate. And, yes, it is perfectly legal for Progressive Majority to work with campaigns and candidates. That is what they are set up to do.

But that doesn't matter. Republicans will run to the Elections Board and complain about something, so they can say in the next two weeks that Senate Dems are "under investigation." There's no chance it will be done before Nov. 7 and they don't want it to be.

If there were evidence of any real wrongdoing or illegality, Republicans would have turned it over months ago to the district attorney, looking for indictments and charges against some sitting Dem Senators. In fact, they'd have an obligation to do that, since the days of the two parties covering up for each other's abuses in the Capitol are supposedly over since leggies on both sides were convicted.

This is nothing but a diversion, a last-minute ploy by the GOP to try to hang on to the majority that seems to be slipping from their grasp.

The news media, unfortunately, seem all too happy to play along.

Read the documents yourself, if you've already finished rearranging your sock drawer and getting the loose threads out of the carpet. If you make it through to the end, you are a political junkie extraordinaire. Tell me what you learn that you didn't already know.

The plan.

The strategy.

The agendas. (WARNING: For hard core only.)

Michael Mathias wonders: Are GOP aides stealing the lunches, too?

'I'm not your guy' -- Green's got that right

Congressman Mark Green has a line he loves to use lately, whether in the recent debate or in his new TV spot.

If you want blah, blah, blah, he says, I'm not your guy. There are several variations; the TV commercial says something about if you want higher taxes, I'm not your guy.

Since Green also says in his new ad that he wants to be positive, not "negative like Jim Doyle," you'd think he wouldn't put his new positive spot right above three negative ones on his campaign website. Whatever.

Knowing his people are busy, I thought they might appreciate help with their next script, which continues the same theme and message:

Hi, I'm Mark Green, and I'm sick of dirty, negative campaigns like the kind run by that lying, sleazy, unethical, crooked skunk Jim Doyle.

I'm a different kind of candidate.

If you want to cure diseases through stem cell research, I'm not your guy.

If you think women should make their own reproductive choices, I'm not your guy.

If you think you should be able to buy safe, affordable prescription drugs from Canada, I'm not your guy.

If you think the war in Iraq is a waste of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, I'm not your guy.

If you think the minimum wage should be high enough to get people who work full-time out of poverty, I'm not your guy.

If you think banks should pay their fair share of state taxes, I'm not your guy.

If you want someone to look out for consumers, instead of giving billions in tax breaks to Big Oil, I'm not your guy.

If you want someone who will help middle-income people and working families instead of the wealthiest people in America, I'm not your guy.

And if you want someone who will level with you and tell you what he really stands for, instead of dancing around the issues, I'm not your guy, either.

Fortunately, there's an alternative.

Jim Doyle's your guy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wacky is right

This from the guy who is starting to make State Senator Tom Reynolds seem sane by comparison:
Wacky WEAC Liars
By Bob Dohnal, Publisher
Wisconsin Conservative Digest

It is really hard to understand how the people that teach our children can tolerate the lies being told about people that are actually their friends, with their own money.

I am talking about the commercials being aired by WEAC on TV against Senator Tom Reynolds, the most effective tool educators in his district had last session to get funds for their district.
The rant goes on for awhile. Dohnal is a Reynolds campaign advisor.

Only problem is, WEAC is not running any commercials against Reynolds.

It's another group entirely.

Dohnal never lets the facts get in the way, though. But for someone who's always talking about legal action when people say something he doesn't like or claims isn't true, he might want to do a little fact-checking himself now and then.

UPDATE: WEAC not wacky, Dohnal says.

I'm not sure he's the best judge, but here's some of today's e-correspondence:
Enclosed is an article I circulated yesterday amongst the blogs. That article is in error. It was not WEAC that bought and paid for the ad and I have been assured that there was not any dues money that went into paying for it. Until I find different then I have to accept their word.

This is actually a relief to me as I could not see why the teachers were going to kick someone that helped the education group with such a sleazy ad. Teachers have a responsibility to reach for a higher ground and stimulate good, solid debate.
Dohnal wouldn't know higher ground if he tripped over it; he's been waging a totally negative campaign against Jim Sullivan for months. The ever-litigious Dohnal is still talking about going to the DA about the spot.

Hot Potato Found in Waukesha Water Utility Files

Here's the story of one water policy drama that played out behind-the-scenes at the Waukesha Water Utility, where a team of consultants and government officials is working hard to win a diversion of Lake Michigan water:

As the debate over whether Lake Michigan water should be piped to suburbs beyond the Great Lakes basin heated up in 2004, the utility received a memo from a Milwaukee law firm that included a summary of the potential results - - good and bad - - if New Berlin got a Lake Michigan diversion.

The utility's response at the time? It told the author that the memo's preparation hadn't been authorized or coordinated with the utility's consulting team.

The utility eventually paid the law firm about $4,000 of an initial bill of just over $10,000 and filed the memo away.

Courtesy of the Wisconsin Open Records Statute, read the intriguing history of the unwanted and hitherto undisclosed water memo, including its suggestion that Waukesha woo Milwaukee with an offer of tax sharing, below...

The City of New Berlin wants a diversion of Lake Michigan water to the city's western portion that is outside the Great Lakes basin.

Proposed diversions from The Great Lakes - - the world's largest system of fresh surface water - - are becoming more contentious because some fast-growing Waukesha County suburbs are aggressively pressing for diversion permissions now.

Yet it turns out the case against diversions was included in a legal memorandum that sat unnoticed for two-and-a-half years in the strangest of places - - the files of the Waukesha Water Utility - - which itself wants a diversion of Lake Michigan water about six times larger than New Berlin's, records show.

Proposals to divert Great Lakes water are splitting the region along urban/suburban lines.

Citing radium contamination and potential water supply issues linked to the over-pumping of deep wells, some suburban and allied Waukesha County business interests argue that Waukesha communities are entitled to Lake Michigan water - - even if their communities lie outside the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin.

Meanwhile, many environmentalists fear that a New Berlin diversion could cause precedent-setting water losses to an already fragile and indispensable fresh water ecosystem.

And some Milwaukee activists and officials worry that selling water to the fast-growing suburbs would contribute to the very suburban sprawl that is draining value from the state's largest city.

The issue is front-and-center because all eight Great Lakes states are reviewing rule changes to a Compact their Governors signed with two Canadian Great Lakes provincial premiers in 1985.

The changes lay out potentially higher legal barriers that could slow or block the diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha, western New Berlin and other municipalities outside the Great Lakes basin.

An open records request to Waukesha's Water Utility this summer unearthed numerous documents about water policy planning in Waukesha and some other Waukesha County communities.

Among the more documents were Waukesha's confidential - - and unsuccessful - - behind-the-scenes proposals in March and May that sought Gov. Jim Doyle's permission to divert water relatively quickly from Lake Michigan without applying to the other Great Lakes states for approval. (http://wisopinion.com/index.iml?mdl=article.mdl&article=5113).

The open records request also produced the June 10, 2004 legal memorandum - - "Arguments For and Against the City of Milwaukee Selling Water to the City of New Berlin."

The memo was prepared by Attorney Barbara Boxer at the Milwaukee firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Buren, S.C., and relied heavily on City of Milwaukee records to support the pro-and-con arguments that the memo summarized.

On the negative side of the diversion argument, according to the memo: encouragement of urban sprawl, possible job losses, potentially-insufficient payments to Milwaukee, possible harm to the Great Lakes basin, and New Berlin's non-compliance with a Milwaukee requirement that municipalities seeking its water have a comprehensive housing strategy - - an omission the memo said New Berlin had subsequently addressed.

On the relationship of diverted water to the issue of job losses, the memo cited the earlier relocation of 42 Milwaukee firms to New Berlin's Industrial Park that had occured in the 1970's.

"The sale of water to New Berlin will create competition for industrial development between Milwaukee and New Berlin that may result in a loss of industry and related property tax revenues to Milwaukee" during the current decade, the memo said, citing Milwaukee records.

On the plus side, and again relying on Milwaukee records, the memo said selling water to New Berlin could help stabilize Milwaukee's water rates, provide an essential service to the suburbs, bring Milwaukee needed revenue, foster regional cooperation and establish a wider, cooperative governmental model.

Boxer's conclusion was that the argument for regional cooperation, because it had helped secure an earlier water sale agreement with Milwaukee to supply Lake Michigan water to New Berlin's in-basin territory "gives considerable insight into strategies that may help advance the proposal for Waukesha."

The memo further suggested "an approach based on a regional tax concept" could help Waukesha "overcome many of the arguments against Milwaukee's sale of water."

Boxer suggested she provide the utility with additional research into regional tax plans elsewhere.

Efforts to reach Boxer and the law firm for comment since September 24, 2006 have not produced a reply.

Dan Duchniak, the Waukesha utility's General Manager, distanced the utility from the memo.

Duchniak told Boxer by letter on August 30, 2004 that the memo had not been authorized contractually and had not been coordinated with his team of consultants.

"Without this effort and coordination, our position for a successful application to the Great Lakes Governors could be compromised," Duchniak wrote.

Records show that the Rinehard firm had a $60,000 contract with the Waukesha Water Utility in 2003 for work on drinking water quality and compliance issues, but not on the subjects outlined in the memo, Duchniak said.

Duchniak said his objections to the memo were entirely procedural and were unrelated to the memo's substance.

He said initially rejected a bill for the memo's preparation for $10,107.90, and later agreed to pay $3,945.

Duchniak's letter to Boxer included an offer to review a proposal from Boxer's firm for additional work, including lobbying, but a request to the utility for all contracts related to Waukesha's diversion planning shows no contracts with the firm.

The utility has retained Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., to work on some diversion legal planning, Martin Schreiber & Associates for public relations and lobbying, and GeoSyntec Consultants, Chicago, Illinois, for engineering advice.

Health care helps Doyle to 7% lead

Governor Jim Doyle leads Congressman Mark Green 47%-41% in a poll done for One Wisconsin Now last week, and OWN says voters' beliefs that Doyle will do a better job on health care issues is working to his benefit. (Update: Among "definite" voters it's 48-41, which is where the headline came from.)

The poll of 708 likely voters was done by Abacus Associates, a reputable national firm.

Respondents were asked whether Doyle or Green would do a better job on six health care issues, and Doyle won most by a whopping margin.

Who or what's responsible for rising health care costs?

Survey says: Drug company profits, first of all, with health insurance company profits in second place.

More detail, including the press release, polling memo and more, are available right from One Wisconsin Now.

Results are consistent with OWN's findings that voters rate health care as their #1 concern. More later.

-- Rex Babin, Sacranento Bee, via Cagle.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Green's videos on F-You Tube

An alert reader, who chooses to go nameless, notes that our friend Congressman Mark Green has posted his campaign spots and videos on a site called dailymotion.

It's sorta, kinda of a wannabe YouTube. But it has a ways to go.

For one thing, it's littered with porn. Go to the site to watch Mark Green on video talking about his positions, and you could end up learning about all sorts of entirely different positions. (Dennis York, come on down.)

My trusted but undercover correspondent notes:
The vast majority of videos on dailymotion are from France and other European countries. In addition to the large amount of porn on the site, a large number of the videos clearly violate copyright laws in a more blantant way than YouTube because they seem to allow users to upload entire Seinfeld, Simpsons, and South Park epidodes.

There are a lot of sites out there that are trying to copy YouTube and some of them are trying to get traffic by allowing users to upload anything without any oversight whatsoever.

Given the large number of video sharing sites that exists out there (YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, Grouper, Revver, Vimeo, Metacafe, MediaMax, etc) it seems very odd that the Mark Green campaign would choose to upload their videos to one of the more shoddy video sites on the internet.
Here the link to all of Green's videos, but be careful out there.

Catching up with the news

This sounded vaguely familiar. Wednesday's Journal Sentinel:
Regulators contribute to candidates
Some on Elections Board deny campaign support is a conflict


Madison - State Elections Board members regularly give to partisan candidates, even though they regulate campaigns and the election process.

Four of the nine members of the board have written campaign checks while serving on the panel, records show.
There was this Oct. 6 item in the WisPolitics weekly report to subscribers:
Board Members Donated to a Bevy of Candidates

A WisPolitics review of the WDC database showed current SEB members have contributed nearly $25,000 to partisan candidates and candidate committees for the state Legislature or constitutional offices.

See a WisPolitics chart detailing SEB members' political donations: Link
Researching the Oct. 18 story shouldn't have been too tough.

UPDATE: CATCHING UP WITH THE NEWS, TOO:Then there's this Oct. 17 story about a complaint being filed against All Children Matter. It was reported right here three days earlier, and the Xoff post was based on a Racine Journal Times story. But hey, when you're the only daily in town, what's the rush?

Standing up to power

As often happens, Seth Zlotocha has posted
a commentary
on something that I'd been ruminating about but hadn't gotten around to -- the Harley giveback blackmail.

Nothing surprising that the company asked the workers to amputate their own limbs, sell out future co-workers with a two-tier wage scale, and swallow some poison brew. That's par for the course these days.

The surprising thing is that in 2006 the workers stood up and said no.

A demand for concessions made by a pin-striped Chicago lawyer, sitting across the bargaining table, changed my life -- for the better.

It's not easy to say no. It's frightening. Management holds all the cards. And if you think the National Labor Relations Act protects workers, think again.

But once you take a stand, you'll be forever changed. Life may get harder economically, but you'll hold your head higher and stand up straighter.

Hats off to the Harley workers.

-- Working for Change. (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Whether it's 90% or 92%, Green is W's guy

Journal Sentinel readers must have been a little perplexed by Monday's seemingly conflicting stories on just how loyal Congressman Mark Green has been to his leader, The W.

A front page story said Green supports Bush 90% of the time, and made it clear that the 10% certainly didn't qualify as any major issues. Whether it's starting a war in Iraq, limiting stem cell research, or running the country into trillion-dollar debt by giving tax cuts to the rich, Mark Green has been a reliable vote.

As a candidate for governor, he doesn't mention Bush. And he doesn't even admit that he's a Congressman, if you watch his commercials or read his campaign material. Chair of the Victory in Iraq Caucus? Who, me?

It is not worth the time to examine the difference between the 90% Bush-Green partnership and the 92% Doyle claimed in a commercial. There is not a dime's worth of difference.

But enough. Let's turn it over to Mike Plaisted for further analysis.

UPDATE: Cory Liebmann on Green's rubber stamp record.

Voters ready to bring the troops home

Voters in a dozen Wisconsin communities, from Milwaukee to Boscobel, will have a chance to express themselves on Nov. 7 on the war in Iraq. Referendum questions on withdrawing US troops are on the ballot. Two dozen similar ballot questions passed in April.

Three weeks before the vote, this from Political Wire:

Support for Iraq War at All Time Low

A new CNN poll finds support for the war in Iraq at an all-time low, with just 34% of Americans saying they approve and 64% saying they disapprove.

Women led the opposition, with seven in 10 saying they oppose the war and only 28% saying they favor it, the lowest support among women in any CNN poll taken since the invasion more than three years ago.

A new Zogby poll shows just 34% think the war has been worth the loss of American lives, down from 40% two weeks ago.

The State Journal's George Hesselberg does a roundup.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ya think?

This from the Journal Sentinel's Katherine Skiba, charged with reporting Tommy Thompson's every utterance and innermost thought:
Political analysts say Tommy G. Thompson faces long odds if he tries for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
Filed under: Duh!

UPDATE: JS columnist Mike Nichols offers some insight into why people run for offices they can't possibly win.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

... who's the most negative of all?

Could it be the person who penned this about Jim Doyle and Mark Green:
it has become clear that neither major-party candidate for governor is fit for public office.
Or the one who said the negative campaign is
compelling evidence of their moral turpitude.
Is it at all ironic that someone writing on behalf of Common Cause, in the guise of bemoaning negative politics, says worse things about the two candidates than either of them has said about the other?

Davd Behrendt, take a bow.

UPDATE: Mike Plaisted:
If Mark Green were to run over to Jim Doyle in a debate and hit him in the head with a baseball bat, the Journal Sentinel would run an editorial that they should both stop fighting.

An all-Cheesehead presidential race

Scott Milfred of the Wisconsin State Journal fantasizes about a Russ Feingold-Tommy Thompson matchup.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Complaint names school choice group

A complaint has been filed against All Children Matter, the school choice group that talks about everything but school choice during this election cycle, saying the group broke state elections law.

All Children Matter mailed an attack piece against State Rep. John Lehman, who's running for the State Senate, which included the words "vote against John Lehman."

To do that legally, the group would have to be registered as a political committee, report its donors and expenses, and report what it was spending as an independent expenditure against Lehman.

This is no small item. It is a major violation. Here's the story from Racine, which includes a copy of the literature.

Earlier post: Anti-Doyle group breaks the law.

Having a complaint filed against them is just another day at the office for All Children Matter's people. Does this sound familiar?
A national school-choice group with ties to Amway and Wal-Mart has been accused of violating Florida election law with a flier touting a candidate for state House District 41. Joe Durek -- a businessman running against traffic engineer Steve Precourt and attorney Dennis Horton in Tuesday's Republican primary -- this week filed the accusation with the Florida Elections Commission. Durek contends that All Children Matter, which promotes school choice, "expressly" advocated for Precourt and violated campaign-contribution limits when it sent out the mailing.
Then there's this, also in Florida:
Officials with the Florida Democratic Party say they intend to file a libel suit against a school choice advocacy group that is supporting Legg in a heated bid to represent west Pasco. At issue, the Democrats say, is a campaign flier sponsored by Michigan-based All Children Matter. The group, which promotes vouchers and other school choice options, has authored at least four mailers supporting Legg - a charter school founder and teacher - in the District 46 race.

The latest one, however, could land the group in court. The bifold flier's headline reads: "Lien on Dee" and states "Dee Thomas Didn't Pay Her Taxes On Time" - resulting in an IRS lien on her business.Thomas, a 58-year-old physical therapist, on Thursday called the ad - regarding an incident 22 years ago - "absolutely untrue and distorted."State party officials call it something else: libel."We are going to file suit today," Steven Schale, Florida Democratic Party spokesman, said Thursday.
And the Dallas Morning News report:
Ms. Miller also took aim at the All Children Matter Texas PAC, a pro-voucher committee that Dr. Leininger helped launch in late 2003. She questioned recent cash balances reported by the PAC and asked whether it has filed reports with the ethics commission as frequently as required... Children Matter donated some $54,000 in services by Austin GOP pollster Mike Baselice to a newly formed PAC that helps pro-voucher incumbents and candidates, the Future of Texas Alliance PAC.
In Missouri, there's a different angle; a legislator used her access to the group's bank account as leverage to get an appointment she wanted:
Meeting secretly, the House Ethics Committee deadlocked Monday on a complaint alleging ethics breaches "tantamount to bribery" against a Republican lawmaker who suggested she could attract campaign cash for Republicans if given a House leadership position. The 4-4 partisan vote on a motion to dismiss the matter means the complaint against Rep. Jane Cunningham, of Chesterfield, technically is still alive...

Democratic Rep. Rachel Storch, of St. Louis has publicly criticized Cunningham for sending a Nov. 29 letter to Republican colleagues as Cunningham was applying for reappointment as chairwoman of a House education committee. In that letter, Cunningham claimed to have helped raise $381,220 for Republicans, much of which came from the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based political action committee All Children Matter. The group supports parental school choice policies such as vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools. "Remaining in that leadership position will help secure the continuation of these benefits to our caucus and to the state," Cunningham wrote in the letter. Cunningham ultimately was appointed chairwoman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
Innocent until proven guilty? Of course. But when there's this much smoke, there's a good chance there's a little fire somewhere, too.