Monday, January 30, 2006

There is a First Time for Everything!

I was interviewed for a below the fold story in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That is defiantly a first. Don't get too excited, I'm only qouted a few times. The story is about the recent talk of regulating political blogs. I am against the regulation idea as I view blogging as a free speech issue. The other first in this story is that I appear to share the same view as Marquette Professor and conservative blogger John McAdams. Well, there really is a first time for everything!

Eye on Wisconsin Podcast 1-30-06

This week we ask you to take a little action, Scott Walker “welcomes” an audit on contracts, should we or shouldn’t we, a “promo from Rick Graber”, the travel contract and more.

Music by Josh Woodward, Milwaukee’s Pierce Street, and Ernie Van Veen. Some of the music on this podcast was provided by the Podsafe Music Network.

Follow this LINK to the podcast.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Scott Walker "Welcomes" Audit, Hometown Paper Breaks Silence

Oh my goodness, I wish Xoff was around to see this! The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sort of reported on the story that I broke here, “Contract Questions for Scott Walker”. Well, let’s not give them too much credit for slightly reporting on this topic several months too late. They were almost forced to do so thanks to Milwaukee County Board Supervisors on the Finance Committee (John Weishan in particular).

In a committee vote of 4-3 they endorsed a review of two contracts that were awarded to a company whose executives were also contributors to Scott Walker. You may recall that I originally reported that the company in question received rather low scores in the bidding process but still won a $1.2 million contract and also got a $250,000 No-Bid contract.

A few weeks after I posted the original report, the AP picked up the story. The Journal Sentinel still did nothing. The excuses that were passed down to me were weak. “The amount given to Walker was too small.” My response to that is so what? So if I do something that MAY BE just a little naughty, it’s A-O.K. with you? Also what about when you reported on Jim Doyle in the past based on only a $50 donation from someone? That is a lot smaller than a $2,000+ gift. Their other point was that “many of the other companies that scored higher than Phoenix Care Systems/Bell Therapy were awarded contracts that year”. So why did the companies that scored so much higher than Phoenix/Bell get so much less cash? Yeah, they were awarded contracts but the lower scorer was awarded the BIG DADDY of contracts for that year. So how do you explain that? If you can’t explain it then why didn’t you report on it?

Scott Walker’s response was typical of him when he is being held accountable. He claims it’s “politically motivated.” And your constant often unfounded attacks on Doyle are not “politically motivated” right? Walker also said that he “welcomed the audit.” Well good for you! I hope this means that you will convince your allies on the County Board to vote for the audit on February 2nd, which is when the committee’s request will be heard.

I encourage all Milwaukee County residents to call their County Supervisors at 414-278-4222 and ask them to support the Finance Committee’s recommendation. If Walker is “welcoming the audit” then they should be receptive as well.

The Journal Sentinel Gets it Half Right

In an editorial today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rightly describes an add produced by Neo-Con talker Charlie Sykes as "over the top." The add compares Gov. Doyle to racist southern governors of the past. Why would they accuse an adoptive father of two African-American sons of being a racist? Well that is simple, because they refuse to meet Gov. Doyle halfway on the school choice issue. For that they compare Doyle to racists? Yes, they only care about winning and are brutal to anyone that does not totally agree with them.

Where the Journal Sentinel gets it wrong, is where they buy into the false message of the right wing.

On the issue itself, Sykes and Holt are right. We agree - and have argued in past editorials - that more students should be allowed to enroll in the voucher program.

Governor Doyle HAS proposed to RAISE the Thompson era cap (from 15% to 18%)! This means that more students WOULD be allowed to enroll! He simply does not want to totally REMOVE the cap and cause a public school harming free-for-all. He also wants to impose some standards on these schools. If we are using tax dollars, why should we not make sure that those dollars are invested well?

The issue here is that the right wing does not know the meaning of compromise. They are like a spoiled brat that always wants their own way with no questions asked. As we can see in this recent spot, if they don't get their way they will make any dirty and unfounded accusation.

No Lose Manpower Situation Ticks Off CRG

Citizen's for Republican Government is standing in the way of progress in Milwaukee again. They are opposing plans to move Manpower Inc.'s new corporate headquarters to downtown Milwaukee from their two suburban locations. What exactly is your major malfunction? How is it bad to move a major corporation into the city's ascending downtown area?

Apparently their sticking point is that the city will help finance the building of a parking structure, which will be free to Manpower workers. A member of CRG makes the frivolous claim that Mayor Barrett is "attempting to stuff money into his cronies pockets." Oh stop with the false sloganeering! First, I was not aware that Manpower Inc. is a "crony" of Tom Barrett. Second, this money is not being given away. It is called an INVESTMENT!

The city plans on providing what is called Tax Increment Financing for the parking structure. In other words, the money will be paid back WITH INTEREST. What is the downside of that? Particularly when this will further renovate the area, bring a major Corp. to downtown, benefit local business, generate more property tax revenue, and create more jobs. "Yeah, but I don't get to park for free downtown, that's not fair!" Oh get over yourself, I spend a lot of time downtown and have to pay also, so what?

This seems like such a slam dunk that I really have to question CRG's real motivations. I personally suspect that the Republican Club really seeks to discredit and weaken the Democratic Mayor at any cost. Even if that cost is damaging the City and it's residents.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Paying All of the Taxes, Getting None of the Benefits

Earlier this week Action Wisconsin released a “Summary of Benefits Available to Married Couples Under Wisconsin State Law”. The document is an amazing 12 pages long describing 200 benefits and responsibilities under Wisconsin law. The categories of benefits include the following:

Spousal/dependant support, health insurance, worker’s compensation, wrongful death, income tax, various property and housing benefits, child rearing, medical related, probate and other legal process benefits.

The No on the Amendment blog also reminds us of over 1,300 federal benefits that are denied to committed gay and lesbian couples. This issue is about equal rights and regular everyday life type subjects.

How long will gay and lesbian taxpayers be treated as second class citizens?

Doyle for Unitary Executive of Wisconsin!

OK, the title is a bit deceiving, but since Neo-Cons want to make Bush into a “unitary executive” I thought perhaps they would do the same for Governor Doyle. You wont you say? Well, explain to me why I should trust Bush with that kind of power? Come now. Let us sit down and discuss what this really means. I really don’t think that real conservatives will be for this kind of unchecked power.

In a Federalist Society publication in 2001, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito affirmed his belief in what is called the “unitary executive”. Some have described this as a “King with Advisers” form of government. Republicans, knowing that this talk sounds like a power grab, have claimed that it simply means that we “only have one president.” This desperate defense is completely absurd. It also shows the contempt that the Neo-Cons have for the people of this country. Do they really think we are that stupid?

Rather than argue over the definition right now, why don’t we look at how the Bush Administration has used this theory. Remember when John McCain had to “negotiate” with Bush for him to sign the anti-torture legislation? You saw the meeting of the two on the news, but what you might not have seen was Bush writing his “signing statement” that accompanied that bill. A signing statement is basically the President giving his interpretation of the law he just signed. Something does not seem right here, because I thought that the Judicial Branch was the one that interpreted law. In any case, this is what the Bush Administration put in that signing statement:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power.

In other words, “Even though I’m signing this bill, I’ll torture whoever I want to! Screw the courts!” Bush is not only trying to take away from the Judicial Branch by claiming the power to interpret law, but he is also in effect rewriting the legislation, thus replacing the Legislative Branch also.

The signing statement has been a presidential tool for some time, but Bush has taken it to frightening levels. This from Jennifer Van Bergen in a piece from the Find Law website:

President Bush has used presidential signing statements more than any previous president. From President Monroe's administration (1817-25) to the Carter administration (1977-81), the executive branch issued a total of 75 signing statements to protect presidential prerogatives. From Reagan's administration through Clinton's, the total number of signing statements ever issued, by all presidents, rose to a total 322.
In striking contrast to his predecessors, President Bush issued at least 435 signing statements in his first term alone. And, in these statements and in his executive orders, Bush used the term "unitary executive" 95 times.
Combine all of these things together and you’ve got an attack on a fundamental belief of the founders- the seperation of powers. If you will not listen to my reasoning, will you listen to some of them?

James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, No. 47, that:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Another early American, George Nicholas, articulated the concept of "power divided" in one of his letters:
The most effectual guard which has yet been discovered against the abuse of power, is the division of it. It is our happiness to have a constitution which contains within it a sufficient limitation to the power granted by it, and also a proper division of that power. But no constitution affords any real security to liberty unless it is considered as sacred and preserved inviolate; because that security can only arise from an actual and not from a nominal limitation and division of power.

Responding to this historic quote Van Bergen comments:

Yet it seems a nominal limitation and division of power - with real power concentrated solely in the "unitary executive" - is exactly what President Bush seeks. His signing statements make the point quite clearly, and his overt refusal to follow the laws illustrates that point: In Bush's view, there is no actual limitation or division of power; it all resides in the executive.
This is truly a frightening time for our democracy and I only wish that thoughtful conservatives would stand up and be counted. If you are out there, I hope you answer that call as I hope I would if my guy claimed these King-like powers.

State Senate Overrides Doyle on Guns, Celebratory Fire In Virginia

Yesterday the State Senate successfully voted to override Gov. Doyle’s veto of the concealed carry legislation. How ironic that on the same day a gun toting counterpart in Virginia fires off his gun in his legislative office. This from today’s Richmond Times Dispatch:

A remorseful Del. John S. Reid apologized yesterday after a handgun he was attempting to unload went off in his legislative office, firing into a bulletproof vest hanging in the middle of the door to the reception area.
No one was hurt in the accident, which happened shortly before 9 a.m. on the seventh floor of the General Assembly Building.
Reid said he didn't think anyone was outside the door when the gun went off. The door opens to the area where secretaries work and visitors including constituents, lobbyists and staff members -- frequently walk by.
If the NRA led Republican Party of Wisconsin is able to override Doyle’s veto in the Assembly, they might want to start passing out protective gear at the door to the Capitol.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bush Stole My Civil Liberties, F. Jim Drove the Getaway Car

When we were talking about oral sex, stained dresses, and Bill Clinton, F. Jim Sensenbrenner
was more than happy to accommodate those that were hunting the President. Actually, he was one of the hunters (for some reason that mental picture always reminds me of Elmer Fudd).

With Bush we are talking about lying to take us into a war, illegally eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, and a “unitary executive.” Call me crazy but I think that these topics are much more serious than the old BJ. Where oh where is F. Jim, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee while so many important issues are upon us? Who knows, but we do know that one thing he is not doing is exercising any oversight or accountability. Remember the days of “rule of law” and the president “is not above the law”? Well, I guess those ideas only pertained to Presidents that are Democrats.

F. Jim has been abusing his position as chairman to protect Bush rather than exercise oversight or accountability. Since Bush has clearly broken the law with his warrentless spying (take a look at this homework assignment for proof) F. Jim should now be charged with obstruction/party to a crime. Don’t believe me about his record? Take a look at a few things on his wrap sheet:

Last year when the Democrats on his committee were hearing witnesses that were critical of the Patriot Act, F. Jim stormed into the room and single-handedly cut off the witnesses and shut down the hearing. The rule breaker broke just about ever rule in Robert’s Rules of Order on that occasion.

Democrats could never get F. Jim to take up a topic in the committee, so they were forced to take the issues up themselves. F. Jim refused to give their forums any recognition so that they would not be official hearings. In case you did not know, the Republicans control everything in Congress and Dems need permission from them to even get a room in which to hold said forums. After F. Jim and one of his aides heard some of the things being said in the Dems forums they reportedly told the Dems not to bother asking for another room ever again. Gee, and I thought that this was the “People’s House”. Apparently the people that have Democratic representatives don’t matter to F. Jim.

Democrats offered a resolution demanding that the White House turn over critical documents regarding the treasonous outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. NO! Said F. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) the ranking member of the House Judiciary committee and others demanded that they conduct an inquiry regarding Bush’s illegal spying on American citizens. F. Jim once again refuses to conduct any oversight. Conyers then was forced to have another “forum” that lacked official sanction because of the obstructionist F. Then F. once again would not allow them to have a room, so the people’s representatives were forced to meet in the basement of a House office building. Sounds like rules on a plantation to me.

John Nichols wrote the following on this topic in the Capital Times this week:
As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sensenbrenner has a constitutionally mandated responsibility to take seriously the charges of executive lawbreaking and impropriety that are currently in play. If he cannot execute this responsibility in a reasoned and bipartisan manner, then he has a duty to step aside.

That is a serious choice. But, surely, the issues that are at stake demand such seriousness as the American people have clearly indicated. A new Zogby Poll shows that 52 percent of Americas believe that if George Bush violated the law when he ordered security agencies to engage in warrantless wiretaps on the communications of U.S. citizens who were accused of no crimes, the president should be impeached. So widespread is this faith that almost one quarter of those who identified themselves as "very conservative" expressed support for impeachment as a response to the spying scandal.

So far, however, Sensenbrenner has allowed his partisanship to prevent him from even beginning to execute his constitutional duties.

I agree with Nichols but I’m sick of F. Jim’s continual "party before principle" values. I say arrest Bush and while you are at it, arrest F. Jim Sensenbrenner too! For me there is no difference between the guy that robbed me and the one driving the getaway car.

The Swaggart Defender of Marriage Awards, Vol. 2

The term “swaggart” is a word that we have coined to describe a hypocrite. For a full explanation, take a look at our first presentation of this award. As you all know, Republicans claim to be the defenders of marriage in their effort to discriminate against gays. So how ironic is it that so many of them have abused the “sacred” institution? I mean really…the institution of marriage should get a restraining order against most of these hypocrites. With that being said, let’s get on with the presentation:

The second winner of the “Swaggart Defender of Marriage Award” is:

Neo-Conman & Talk Show Host Charlie Sykes

While he may be willing to discuss how gay people are seeking to damage the institution of marriage, he is not likely to confess his own failings in that area. Here are the facts:

  • Charlie Sykes divorced his first wife in 1977.
  • He then married former state Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes in 1980.
    They had two children together.
  • On September 11, 1996 Charlie Sykes received THIS CITATION from the Whitefish Bay Police Department for setting off fireworks on public grounds. Here is the interesting part- he was found doing this in Big Bay Park, after hours, with a woman that was not his wife at the time. Go ahead. Read it yourself.
  • Sykes then began using this “park women” on a radio panel in 1997. He even gave her a fake name which eventually the media revealed. First he said she was only a listener, then a “family friend” that did research for him.
  • The “park women” was apparently married during the “park incident” as she did not get a divorce until 1998.
  • On July 29, 1999 Diane and Charlie Sykes filed for a divorce.
  • Both agreed that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
  • The marriage was officially dissolved on June 1, 1999.
  • Barely a year after the divorce with Diane, Charlie married his third wife. And yes it was the “park women.”

Yes this great defender of marriage loves the institution so much that he has been married three times! I know several gay couples that have been together for a longer period than all three of his marriages. Some would call his constant remarrying immoral. Others would be bothered by the park incident with “the other women”. Honestly, I could care a less about Sykes’ personal life. It is the hypocrisy that bothers me.

I can hear my detractors once again, “this is mean spirited!” Well, tell that to the gay couples that you attack on a regular basis. “This is too personal!” Yet the personal lives of gay couples is not off limits to your rantings and discriminatory laws. “This hurts his family and kids!” What about the families and kids of same sex couples? You don’t seem too concerned about them. None of these things seemed to bother you when it was Bill Clinton (and his family) or John Norquist (and his family). As a matter of fact, Sykes still brings up the Norquist situation whenever he wants to discredit his political enemies. So please, spare me your lectures. Your hypocrisy may earn you the next Swaggart award.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dear WTMJ Radio....

I understand that Milwaukee’s WTMJ Radio is getting rid of one of their right wing talkers (hat tip to Xoff). Mark Reardon aired on weekday evenings on the neo-con flagship. The reason that WTMJ gave for Reardon’s departure was “2006 budget adjustments.” As a part-owner of the airwaves that they use, I have thought about sending the following letter.

Dear WTMJ,
I understand that you have an opening for a talk show host on your station. I have a revolutionary idea for you in filling the slot. NO MORE NEO-CONS! You are based in an area of the state that is largely much more liberal than any of your current hosts. Could you possibly try bringing on ONE LIBERAL? Now don’t give me that standard answer that there is not a market for it…do you not know where you are? In any case this would be a perfect time to test it.

There are a lot of liberal candidates that would do a good job as a talk show host. If they are liberal and they can read/think, they could easily make mincemeat of your current line-up. Then again, maybe that is why you don’t want to hire a liberal.

If money is the real issue in Reardon’s departure then you should hire a liberal that will work for cheap. Perhaps you should choose one with less radio credentials. I doubt that the liberal majority around your station would mind as they are starving for SOME representation on the airwaves.

Actually, if you are considering inexperienced liberal candidates with very limited talent who also come cheap, I am looking for a third job. Oh the joys of the Bush economy! Hey, that would be a good topic for your new liberal host! Well, let me know ASAP otherwise I may have to take that part-time position scrubbing toilets. Thanks for your time.

Cory Liebmann

Only the GOP are Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Republicans in Wisconsin were granted one of their most important wishes yesterday. Georgia Thompson, purchasing division supervisor for the state Department of Administration, was indicted in federal court. The indictment was the result of an investigation into the awarding of a state travel contract to Adelman Travel, whose executives donated to the Doyle Campaign. How ironic that the very same people that insisted on Tom Delay being “innocent till proven guilty” are now (and for some time) convicting Thompson and even Governor Doyle (who has not been implicated in the indictment). Obviously, that does not stop the GOP from promoting their conspiracy theories. Republican hypocrisy will be once again laid bare when more from their ranks are indicted in connection with the Abramoff and Plame scandals. I have a funny feeling that we will not see such a rush to judgment from them at that time.

After reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s report on this indictment, there are several details that are important to remember. First, the indictment, “does not allege a pay-to-play scheme in which the contract was awarded in exchange for the money.” Second, Georgia Thompson was actually hired by the Republican McCallum Administration. Even if one is inclined to believe the right wing conspiracy theories, it would be very difficult to accept that a Republican hire was at the center of a grand Democratic plot. Really now, just think about it. If you are going to plan such an elaborate scheme, why would you make the main player a person that your last opponent hired?

If early media reports are any indication, it seems that they will be perfectly happy spreading Republican gossip regarding this case. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker not only single handedly convicted Georgia Thompson, on WTMJ News, but convicted Gov. Doyle even though he has not been implicated. Did the crack Journal Communications reporters challenge Walker’s politically motivated accusations? Certainly not! Remember they are the same people the refused to report at all on Walker’s own contract scandal. If we are seeking fair and balanced reporting on this indictment, we better look elsewhere. Equally, if we care about the facts of this matter, we should pay no mind to Republican pronouncements of guilt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Is Tom DeLay Buying Another Wisconsin Republican?

We already know that indicted Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has invested tens of thousands of dollars in Wisconsin Republicans. Mark Green accepted nearly $30,000 and Paul Ryan accepted $25,000. In my opinion, this money has purchased lockstep voting from these Congressmen. The problem is that they are supposed to be representing Wisconsinites. If this is not the case, then someone give me one example where these two have ever voted against the Delay wing of the party.

Now we find out that even amid his various indictments and possible scandals, DeLay’s machine is looking to replace their man (Mark Green) in Congress. Apparently the latest person that they would like to own is John Gard. Gard is running in the GOP primary for Mark Green’s current seat (Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District). The Capital Times gave us some details this week:

In Wisconsin, where Republican voters will choose a nominee next September to replace U.S. Rep. Mark Green, the Green Bay area conservative who is seeking his party's nomination for governor, the DeLay operation has made its choice.

It is supporting outgoing Assembly Speaker John Gard of Peshtigo for the Republican nomination in Green's northeast Wisconsin 8th District.

The National Republican Campaign Committee is already providing financial support to Gard, despite the fact that another conservative Republican legislator, state Rep. Terri McCormick of Appleton, is also seeking the seat.

DeLay's operation has refused to meet with McCormick because, while she may be right on their issues, she tends to think for herself. She says things like: "The voters should speak first instead of political insiders."
So the DeLay faction of the Republican Party refused to even meet with McCormick? Why? Because she “tends to think for herself”? If this is true, then my description of them as the neo-con ZOMBIE brigade has been justified all along. We’ve had enough of this lockstep voting and blind loyalty. We can assume that if the DeLay crowd has backed him, that Gard plans on representing that wing of the party rather than Wisconsinites in the 8th Congressional District.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Christmas is Over, So Why is Scrooge Still Here?

In his state of the state address last week, Gov. Doyle proposed a very forward thinking cutting edge agenda, that actually helps average citizens. One proposal is expanding a program in which the state helps people with their heating bills. At a time when heating bills are at record highs and people are struggling, this particular plan could be popular with regular working folks. Last week the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau revealed that there may be $93 million more in tax collections than anticipated. The Governor’s heating assistance proposal would only account for $6 million of that extra money.

It seems like a no-brainer. So why is Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) being a scrooge so long after Christmas? The Appleton Post-Crescent reported over the weekend that he thinks that the money should go somewhere else.

Congressman Mark Green is also joining the scrooge chorus of “we can’t afford it.” As Carrie Lynch points out on the What’s Left blog, Green and the Republican controlled Congress have no business lecturing anyone on fiscal conservatism. They have outspent any Congress in history.

Rep. Mark Pocan debunks the Republicans claims that Doyle’s plans will cost too much, saying the following on his blog last week (January 18th post):
The one universal Republican beef was the “cost” of the new programs. Well, the cost in this budget cycle is about $6 to $15 million out of a $54 billion budget, less than 1/3 of one percent.Given that Governor Doyle has erased a $3.2 billion deficit, the reality is that $15 million is a piece of cake for the Governor to find in savings and other areas without raising taxes one dime.And to the Republicans who whine about the costs, what about the good chunk of Republican bills you’ve passed that cost a bunch. To name a few (costs generally in this budget cycle only, with more costs in future): Education Tax Credit $9.3 million ($20.6 million per year thereafter), Research Tax Credit for Engines $1.1 million (more than twice that in future years), and Mandatory 25 Year Sentence for Child Sex Offenders $11.7 million in first two years (Up to $632 million by year 25!).Just remember, people care a whole lot more about paying for heating costs, healthcare and education than they do getting a tax credit for engine research. Wait, they won't get that credit anyway, only your corporate masters will.

It seems clear that Ellis, Green and the rest are more concerned about the political implications of what would be a popular Doyle program. They should put politics aside and do what is best for the public. I know that I would appreciate the help this winter.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

There is Just No Pleasing Those Republicans

News flash! Rick Graber and the Republican Party of Wisconsin are not happy with the recommended sentence in the “tire slashing” case. Although it makes me want to gag, lets dissect their latest piece:

We urge Judge Brennan to disregard the District Attorney's recommendation for probation and in turn call for him to invoke a sentence of jail time.

Graber should know that the prosecutor only made this offer because the prospect of even getting a conviction was in jeopardy. We can see that the jury was struggling with the largely circumstantial case. We also know that the one defendant that did not take the deal was even found NOT GUILTY. The prosecutor was probably not going to get the other 4 defendants to plead if he insisted on jail time. Can you imagine what wild accusations would have been made if all 5 were acquitted?

It should also be noted that the crime that the 4 defendants plead to are equal in degree to a domestic violence or disorderly conduct charge. These also carry a maximum of 9 months in jail. I don’t know if any of the 4 have a previous record but if they don’t they should not see any jail time given WHAT THEY WERE CONVICTED OF…a misdemeanor. I have never seen a case of a defendant, that has no criminal record, getting jail time for a similar conviction (other than being in jail just after they were arrested). Graber is way outside of the norm on this and seems to only want to punish Rep. Gwen Moore through the incarceration of her son.

This case shows that Democrats will stop at nothing to undermine efforts by Republicans to get-out-the-vote on Election Day and has shed light on the extent they are willing to go for their own political gain.

Now didn’t I tell you yesterday that they were going to start with the tinfoil hat conspiracy theories? Four people have been convicted in this incident, not the Democratic Party. Do I have to start naming Republicans who have behaved badly just before and during past elections? Does that bad behavior mean that the Republican Party as a whole orchestrated a grand conspiracy to suppress dem voters?

Judge Brennan can look forward to months of press releases, ranting by the local radio propagandists, and contact from the rest of the neo-con zombie brigade. I am confidant that he will not be forced to do anything in a court of law based on the coming storm of political pressure.

Will the Dems Win Back the State Senate in '06?

This is from a very interesting analysis in the current issue of Milwaukee’s Shepherd-Express. Below I have listed some of the races that could be competitive according to Louis Fortis. I have also included some of his comments for each one:

RACINE (Currently by Cathy Stepp)
"One of the Assembly districts in Stepp’s district is strongly Republican and one is strongly Democratic. But a third is a swing district, and it’s represented by Democrat John Lehman, who is running for Stepp’s Senate seat. Lehman is well regarded and has an excellent shot to become Racine’s next state senator."

"Four years ago moderate Republican Peggy Rosenzweig held this seat, but Reynolds beat her in the Republican primary when many moderate Republicans voted in the Democratic primary to support Tom Barrett, who had represented parts of the district in both the state Senate and Congress. This put the Republican primary in the hands of the right-wing cultural conservative faction, Tom Reynolds’ base. Since getting elected, Reynolds has been in the news often for such things as asking potential staff in hiring interviews whether they are born-again Christians, divorced or plan to remain virgins until they marry."

"Democratic Sen. James Baumgart lost to then Republican Assemblyman Joe Leibham by just 47 votes after being outspent 4 to 1. Leibham is far more conservative than his district, and his consistent votes to cut SeniorCare and his anti-worker votes in one of the state’s most labor-heavy districts will work against him. Leibham also comes off as just a little too “slick” for his district."

"In Eau Claire’s other Senate district, Republican Ron Brown defeated 20-year incumbent Rod Moen in 2002 by just 400 votes. This Senate district is a 52% Democratic district and John Kerry won it by 7,000 votes just two years ago. Brown, a retired fire chief turned politician, appears not to enjoy the give-and-take of state capitol politics and some Republicans wonder if he has the drive and desire to mount a serious campaign this year. The Democrats have two strong candidates who are testing the waters, a police officer and a female farmer, so it will be an interesting campaign season in Eau Claire."

Fortis also lists two other seats that the Democrats might be able to take back (Dave Zien’s and Dale Schultz’). Follow the link above for that analysis and to read the entire piece.

Friday, January 20, 2006

"Tire Slashing" Case Resolved: A Few Observations

It looks like the “tire slashing” case in Milwaukee has been resolved. According to the Journal Sentinel, the jury had been deliberating for about six hours when they sent a note to the judge. The note reportedly included “We have people that are adamant about their decision and are not budging. We don’t know what to do.” The defense attorneys asked for a mistrial, but Judge Brennan ruled that not enough time had transpired to declare one. Before deliberations were complete, the State offered a plea deal to the defendants. Plead “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property with state recommendations of probation and restitution. Four of the five defendants took the deal and one did not and was found not guilty by the jury.

Are the four defendants now guilty from a legal perspective? Yes, of criminal damage to property. Did they actually do it? Maybe. Did former Republican Reps Bonnie Ladwig and Steven Foti actually do what they have plead to? Probably. The point is that not everyone who pleads guilty actually committed the crime. I know, I know, I can already hear you saying “if they are not guilty why would they plead?” Try facing the exposure of being convicted of a felony and spending 3.5 years in prison. Now imagine that you get an offer to all but guarantee no jail time and no felony conviction. What would you do? Tough choice isn’t it?

Obviously the DA would not have offered the deal if they felt that they had a strong case. They got nervous and offered a good deal. They were probably smart to make the offer since most of the case (what I have kept up with) seemed to be circumstantial, and the one defendant that did not take the deal was found not guilty.

One more observation. I’m sure that Wisconsin’s right wing conspiracy theorists (insert name of your favorite blogger or radio host here)will start making all kinds of statements about what they think happened that night. Since I don’t want to be left out of all of the fun, let me offer my own “theory.” IN MY PERSONAL OPINION (to avoid one of those GOP frivolous lawsuits) I think that it may have been Karl Rove rolling around in the mud that night. See, this way they could sabotage their own vehicles, blame it on the other guys and get a lot of free political mileage. That would fit Rove’s MO since he is suspected by many of bugging his own guy in Texas and blaming the other guy.
OK that’s not what really happened, but it is just as legit as some of the right wing conspiracies that we might hear soon.

Charlie Sykes' Newfound Love for the Race Card

It seems that Charlie Sykes, captain of the neo-con zombie brigade, has turned a new leaf. He’s playing the race card. First he produced a commercial basically accusing Governor Doyle of being a racist. Forget the fact that he has two adopted black sons and has proposed several initiatives that will be helpful to many in the African American Community. Now he is targeting our fellow blogger Xoff. What is Xoff’s great sin? He is questioning the legality of running those issue adds on WTMJ Radio. Responding to the question today, Sykes entitles a post “Xoff To Black Kids: Shut Up.” I don’t pretend to know the legal implications of this matter, but I do know that Sykes response is typically outrageous.

I find it hard to believe that the new advocate for the African American Community in Wisconsin is Charlie Sykes. He is the same guy that would love to cut every social program that benefits that very community. All so that other white guys in his tax bracket can possess more stuff. Such a noble advocate!

When any African American dares to suggest that race is ever an issue, Sykes and those of his ilk are outraged. Apparently he is not so offended when some rich white guy with a political ax to grind does the same.

Neo-Con Surrender Monkeys At It Again

I try to focus on state news here but I have something to say about the domestic spying/Patriot Act issue. So Bin Laden put out another tape? Big deal. Republicans rolled out all of their favorite fear mongers as soon as the tape hit the news. In what appeared to be a very coordinated campaign- “the boogie man is going to get us so you must surrender your civil liberties!” For all of their false machismo, right wingers are some of the biggest sissies I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of them). Another Bin Laden tape comes out and none of them question why he is still alive and free. They only spook themselves into believing why this tape should make THEM less free. Scare a neo-con cult member and I guess you can get anything you want.

While I’m at it, let me address a few other things on Bush’s illegal domestic spying program.

  1. Neo-Cons keep saying that Clinton and Carter wanted to do the same thing. I know that this may be hard for you to understand, but you should not believe everything that some blowhard radio jock says. If Clinton or Carter really sought to spy on American citizens without a warrant, then state your source. Tell me specifically the people involved and the exact case. If you can’t do that then you are likely promoting a lie.
  2. If Bush needs to authorize an emergency operation, he can do so without a warrant and then get the warrant after the fact. So what’s the problem with that? Perhaps you are afraid that the FISA court would not approve the spying because it is unjustified.
  3. The FISA court is largely a rubber stamp for all administrations since it’s inception. The most denials it has ever given has been to the law breaking overreaching Bush administration. Yes, out of thousands of requests over the years, the FISA court only refused 4 of them (all Bush requests).
  4. Why do you all assume that the people being spied on are actual terrorists? How many people have we falsely arrested/detained already because we allegedly thought that they were terrorists? So if we can actually be wrong about these things, then how do we KNOW that we are spying on terrorists rather than innocent citizens? And if Bush does not want any oversight on this issue, then how do we know he’s even spying on terrorists rather than political opponents/groups (like the Quakers)?
  5. Many true conservatives are also voicing real questions about the domestic spying program, so don’t pretend that it is just a liberal concern. Former Congressman Bob Baar, Grover Norquist, David Keene, Paul Weyrich, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, and several others. Hell, according to the paper the other day your very own F. Jim has not committed on this issue. Pennsylvania Senator Arlin Spector is concerned enough with it that he will be holding hearings next month.

So please spare me your overcompensating chest pounding in the future. I may be forced to replay the tape of you cowering in a corner surrendering all of your civil liberties.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hand Holder Needed for Green While in Wisconsin

We already know that Congressman Mark Green is a mere follower, led by the hand by Republican Party Bosses. Now we know that he apparently needs adult supervision even when he is back in Wisconsin.

This from the Journal Sentinel’s Capitol Blog:

During Gov. Jim Doyle’s “State of the State” speech Tuesday night, Assembly Democratic Leader Jim Kreuser’s staff heard someone trying to come in to the office through a door marked “Do Not Enter,” said Kreuser spokesman Seth Boffeli. An aide to Kreuser opened the door to see who was trying to get in, and was surprised to see Green, a Green Bay Republican and one of Doyle’s challengers for governor, Boffeli said.

Green tried to walk past the aide, saying he needed to get to the office of Assembly Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo), who is running for Green’s seat in Congress.

A Capitol geography lesson is needed here: The Speaker’s offices are found behind the front end of the chamber, while the Minority Leader’s Office is at the other end of the chamber, adjacent to the Assembly parlor -- and a good 100 or so feet away.

Kreuser’s staff told Green that he was trying to enter the Democratic leader’s office – not Gard’s – but Green tried again to gain entry. Finally, he took their word that he couldn’t get to Gard’s office through Kreuser’s and left, Boffeli said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Will Scott Walker Pass The Buck Again?

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker tried to bury bad news at the beginning of a holiday weekend last Friday. What was the bad news? The report that the Milwaukee County Parks Department has a $2.3 million deficit. Does that not sound familiar to anyone else? It should because the same thing happened in 2003.

Let me briefly summarize what happened at that time. The Parks budget was $2 million in deficit, then Director of Parks Susan Baldwin devised a deficit reduction plan that she says was affirmed and reaffirmed by Scott Walker. This plan included early closings of pools in the summertime. When constituents (mostly in Walker’s suburban strongholds) started complaining, Walker had to take quick action that would pass the buck to someone else. That “someone else” he passed the buck to was Susan Baldwin and four of her colleagues whose resignation/retirement he demanded.

Such drastic action was taken at that time and now an even greater deficit. Who will Walker blame now? The only common denominator between the deficit in 2003 and the current one is Walker and his policies. It does not take a genius to figure out that this County Executive job was only a stepping stone for Walker to run for Governor. It seems clear that he is only trying to bide his time as County Exec and then let some other poor soul clean up his mess.

The 2003 Parks budget incident revealed much about Walker, his political ambition and what kind of person he is when he thinks no one else is looking. Last year Susan Baldwin and others filed a lawsuit against Walker regarding their premature termination. That case has now been moved to federal court, but shortly after its filing, I obtained a copy of the actual complaint. Given the deja vu we're experiencing with the new Parks deficit, it seems to be an appropriate time to share this information.

Page 3 of Complaint

In June of 2002 Scott Walker offered to reappoint Susan Baldwin if she agreed to waive her Backdrop Benefit and Service Credit Enhancement. Baldwin did waive these items and was reappointed by Walker as Parks Director. Baldwin also took a $1,000 pay cut as a result of Walker’s urging.

On August 18, 2003 Walker reaffirmed his approvals of Ms. Baldwin’s projected $2,000,000 budget deficit reduction plan. Around this time is when pools started closing and constituents started getting upset.

On August 19, 2003 Ms. Baldwin and other’s were advised that they could either retire, resign, or be terminated effective immediately. Baldwin made a counter offer to Walker that she resign and not say anything negative to the press. The condition- as long as she was able to use sick/vacation time in order to continue her employment until October 28th. This was important because if her employment was terminated prior to that date, she would not get the full retirement benefits due her after a long career with Milwaukee County.

Page 4 of Complaint

On that same day Walker accepted, through Corporate Counsel William Domina, the offer from Baldwin. Because of this agreement, Baldwin refused requests from the press to comment on the Parks deficit and pool closings.

Page 5 of Complaint

On the very same day that the above agreement was made, “Walker made false statements of fact to the media that Ms. Baldwin had not alerted him to a projected $2 million parks budget deficit.” Because of the above stated agreement, Walker surely knew that Baldwin could not respond to his comments.

Page 6 of Complaint

Less than a week after the agreements were made, Scott Walker decided to not allow Susan Baldwin to continue her employment until October 28th. What was the reason that Scott Walker and the County broke their word? “The press was asking too many questions and Mr. Walker was taking too much heat.” So apparently Walker’s political standing was more important than his word. This decision had a direct effect on Baldwin’s retirement as it cut her payments by 25%.

For me, this complaint only verifies the person that I already believe Scott Walker to be. Blind political ambition seems to conquer all other standards. It is his blind ambition that shortchanged the future of these long time public servants. It is his self interests that forced them to remain silent while he “made false statements” about them. It is this same drive that causes Walker to post continual deficits in the Parks department. It’s high time that Wisconsin voters act in their own best interests and dispatch Scott Walker from the Governor’s race this year and from Milwaukee County in 2008.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Mad Dash to Give Back Cash

Look out everybody! This could get dangerous. Mark Green and Scott Walker are tripping over themselves in a mad dash to give back campaign cash. From today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Mark Green and Scott Walker, meanwhile, have sought to one-up each other in efforts to portray themselves as the cleaner GOP alternative to challenge Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in the November election.

U.S. Rep. Green, after prodding by opponents, is ridding his campaign of some $31,000 in donations from DeLay, plus $8,800 from donors under indictment in an Illinois corruption case and their spouses. Total donations dumped by Green: $39,800.
Green had previously set criminal conviction of a donor as his threshold test for returning political donations.

Walker, the MilwaukeeCounty executive, says his standard goes further. He'll return the $6,000 in 2004 contributions from two indicted Illinois donors and one of their spouses.

And he'll also give back the $2,500 he got from the wife of another indicted Illinois giver, P. Nicholas Hurtgen, whose firm had won lucrative bond business from the county. Hurtgen also helped with the guest list for a 2003 Walker fund-raiser in a Chicago suburb.

Walker defended the donations as appropriate, when asked about them by the newspaper in mid-2004.

Now he's scouring his donation records and may shuck even more money if the givers have any scent of scandal, Walker said. Total Walker giveback: At least $8,500.

Eye on Wisconsin Podcast 1-16-06

This week we “sing a song of taxes” and the continual shifting of burdens to the working and poor. Rush Limbaugh performs for his birthday, the “tire slashing” trial Doyle cleaning up Green’s Medicare mess and more.

Aside from the Limbaugh performance, all other music this week is performed by the Nashville Session Players via the Podsafe Music Network.

Follow the THIS LINK to the podcast!

Zogby Poll: Majority Favor Bush Impeachment for Spying

This from the Vermont Guardian:
By a margin of 52 to 43 percent, citizens want Congress to impeach President
Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to
a new poll commissioned by, a grassroots coalition that
supports a Congressional investigation of Pres. Bush's decision to invade Iraq
in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International.
The poll found
that 52 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "If President Bush
wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or
disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr. The Anti-War Activist

From Martin Luther King Jr.’s November 1967 speech at the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace:

Now what are some of the domestic consequences of the war in Vietnam? It has made the Great Society a myth and replaced it with a troubled and confused society…It has given the extreme right, the anti-labor, anti-Negro, and anti-humanistic forces a weapon of spurious patriotism to galvanize its supporters into reaching for power, right up to the White House. It hopes to use national frustration to take control and restore the America of social insecurity and power for the privileged.

…It is disgraceful that a Congress that can vote upwards of $35 billion a year for a senseless immoral war in Vietnam cannot vote a weak $2 billion dollars to carry on our all too feeble efforts to bind up the wound of our nations 35 million poor. This is nothing short of a Congress engaging in political guerilla warfare against the defenseless poor of our nation.

When I first decided to take a firm stand against the war in Vietnam, I was subjected to the most bitter criticism, by the press, by individuals, and even by some fellow civil rights leaders. There were those who said that I should stay in my place, that these two issues did not mix and I should stick with civil rights. Well I had only one answer for that and it was simply the fact that I have struggled too long and too hard now to get rid of segregation in public accommodations to end up at this point in my life segregating my moral concerns.

Green Pal Steps Down Amid Abramoff Scandal

Remember when Congressman Mark Green brought his congressional pal Bob Ney (R- Ohio) to Milwaukee to lecture us on voter fraud? Well, because of his ties to Republican super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, he has now stepped down from a leadership position. Ney was the chairman of the House Administration Committee, which ironically oversees lobbying.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Doyle Cleans Up Another Green Mess For Elderly

Late last year we found that the Republican’s huge Medicare Prescription Drug Plan put at risk Wisconsin’s superior Senior Care program. It was reported at that time that Governor Doyle personally lobbied HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt to save Senior Care. Although Congressman Mark Green voted for this big government Medicare Plan, he did not have the foresight to see the threat to Wisconsin’s Senior Care until Doyle took charge of the issue. Then Mark “Johnny come lately” Green pretended like he was front and center on the issue.

Now that the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan has taken effect, we are seeing anew how terrible it is for regular folks. A recent story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes some of the problems as follows:
The state Department of Health and Family Services, pharmacists and advocacy
groups say thousands of people in Wisconsin have had trouble getting their
prescriptions since the Jan. 1 start of the Medicare drug plan.
The most
widespread problems have been among the more than 110,000 people who are
eligible for Medicaid as well as Medicare and were automatically enrolled in the
new program.

Governor Doyle, once again having to intervene so that people will not have to go without their medicine, has enacted an emergency “stopgap” until the feds get their act together. This is not exclusive to Wisconsin but reportedly is a problem all over the country.

As many said at the time of it’s passage, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan is a windfall to drug companies. As many predicted, this plan would cause more problems to those that are supposed to be its beneficiaries. Mark Green and other members of Congress should be held responsible for passing this “big government” boondoggle that clearly benefits corporations and has already left many seniors without the medication that they need.

Friday, January 13, 2006

McBride Swipes Judge’s Robe, Puts on Tinfoil Hat

Don’t look now, but I think Jessica McBride just swiped Judge Brennan’s robe. Yep, she has all but declared herself judge and jury in the “tire slashing” case. As a matter of fact, she has tried to charge the defendants with new crimes. In her recent post, she repeatedly makes accusations of “fraud” and “voter suppression” in this matter. Here is what the actual charges are in the case:

Statute 943.01(2) (D) Criminal Damage to Property (Over $2500)

Now I am a little surprised that hubby (Paul Bucher) didn’t tell Jessica that in court legal words have specific meaning. She should really not toss around these words when these are not the charges. I mean, as much as I’d like to charge George Bush with sexual assault (for screwing the working class and poor) I know that it is probably not legally appropriate.

Somewhere in her post, McBride loses the judicial robe for her official GOP tinfoil hat. Yes, because now she has made this act of damaging property into some grand orchestrated conspiracy to steal an election. Sounds like a “sore loser” to me, but where does she get this idea? Well, apparently she heard a defense lawyer doing their job in DEFENDING their client. Apparently the lawyer suggested that the slashing was done by out of state operatives. McBride takes this defense and jumps right off the deep end with it.

I’d like to see McBride apply her formula to a similar case. Less than a month ago, one of the top Republicans in New England was convicted of an election related crime. In this Republican plot, James Tobin and others jammed Democrats phones on Election Day 2002. These phones were to be used to help get out the vote. In one case it was “get out the vote” cars that were targeted and in the other it was “get out the vote” phones. Even though it was not charged, I wonder if McBride would describe this Republican plot as “voter fraud/voter suppression”. Also I wonder if she would accuse the Republican Party of conspiring since they actually paid Tobin’s legal bills.

As a typical Republican, McBride then manages to advocate for voter ID’s in the same post. I’m not entirely sure how requiring voters to show identification at the polls would have stopped vandals from slitting tires. Next thing you know, she’ll be telling us that ending same day voter registration will cure Type II diabetes. For McBride’s sake, I hope that we can find something to cure the delusional neo-con blogger.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Quick Glimpse Into The “Tire Slashing” Trial

I was in the Milwaukee County Safety Building yesterday and remembered that the “tire slashing” trial was going on there. I decided to sit in on a very small portion of the trial while I was in the neighborhood. Since this is news in the state, I thought I’d share it with everyone.

It was maybe about 11:15am and the gallery in the courtroom was rather empty. Aside from the media and all of their equipment, there appeared to only be a handful of people watching the proceedings. Congresswomen Gwen Moore was there with what appeared to be family on the front row. The defendants were all sitting with their attorneys on the right side of the courtroom. The prosecutor’s table was to the left of them and jury box to the far left.

There were 14 jurors in the jury box. Most appeared to be rather attentive with the exception of one young man that seemed to have a hard time staying awake. The makeup of the jury was as follows: 5 white men, 5 white women, 1 African American man, and 3 African American Women.

The testimony that I heard was rather mundane as it was a representative of the Sprint telephone company. The DA showed the witness and jury a blown up version of various cell phone records. The exhibit was nearly impossible for anyone in the gallery to see because it was facing the jury. Gwen Moore got up and walked across the courtroom to the only corner where a person had a chance of viewing the exhibit. She was very alert during the entire proceeding. It sounded as if some of the documents displayed information regarding which towers picked up specific calls made by someone (they never said who, I’m assuming one or more of the defendants). It sounded as though the DA was setting up the case that those records could place the defendants in specific parts of town at the times of certain phone calls.

There were several objections during the Sprint Rep’s testimony by defense counsel. The judge seemed pretty balanced in either overruling or sustaining the various objections. During the cross examination by the defense lawyers, a few points stood out. The witness admitted that he is not an engineer and that he did not generate the DA’s records. He also testified that he basically received some training and travels all over the country to testify for Sprint. The female defense lawyer (sorry I don’t know your name and I don’t have time to look it up now) asked this witness if he knew what various symbols and initials meant on the documentation. The witness did not know what these thing meant. And that was it.

The judge gave the jury a few instructions and they left for lunch. After that proceeding Gwen Moore got up and before she even got close to the door, the TV cameras were waiting. She went to the cameras and spoke to reporters. She mentioned how her son was innocent and that she now knows how hard it must be for poor people who are wrongly accused.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Welcome to Eye on Wisconsin!

I would like to take a moment to welcome all new readers to Eye on Wisconsin. You may already know that we are the latest blog to be hosted on Eye on Wisconsin was started over a year ago. The weekly podcasts that we offer have been produced for almost a year.

At this time, most of our old content has not been moved from our original site. I believe that this will be completed in the near future. In the mean time, feel free to visit our original site for all archived content.

Also please notice that I have listed links to some of our most popular posts below.

“Contract Questions for Scott Walker”

“Is the Faith Based Initiative a Fraud?”

“Did Bishop’s Creek Profit $425,000 from Last Years Fire? Was There a Conflict of Interest at Commerce?”

“Free Advice to Voters: Think Twice about Scott Newcomer”

“1 Guilty Lobbyist + 1 Indicted Delay= Lots of Dirty Green”

“A Class War for Christmas”

Homework Assignments for Rick Graber

Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin Rick Graber put out a press release Monday that deserves a response. It was regarding a report that Senator Russ Feingold has not taken impeachment of Bush off the table. Although it was only two paragraphs long, the Graber press release was packed with inaccuracies. Since I’d like to give Graber the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume that he did not thoroughly research the subject before issuing the release. I’d like to offer him some homework, which may help avoid similar mistakes in the future.

On Feingold’s Comments


Try reading Feingold’s actual statement in this story.
It appears that Feingold has not yet determined anything on Bush’s wiretapping of American Citizens. It appears that he wants to “find out what happened” and doesn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.” Feingold also clearly states that “IF THERE IS A LEGAL VIOLATION there needs to be accountability.”

Bush’s Spying Is A-OK?

1. Read the comments by Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. He seems to disagree with Bush’s “legal basis” for spying on Americans.
2. Try reading the Fourth Amendment of theU.S.Constitution. You do remember the Constitution don’t you?

Warrants? We Don’t Have Time for Warrants!

Since a warrant would come from the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court, you may want to read that law.


Try reading THIS SECTION on “emergency orders”. It clearly shows us that in an emergency, the Attorney General can authorize the spying operation as long as they obtain the warrant no later than 72 hours after the fact.

But What Are My Odds?

If you are worried that the FISA Court won’t grant the warrants (even the retroactive ones), then the following should comfort you. Sorta.


Read this story. It will show you that out of over 18,000 requests since 1979, only four were denied by the FISA Court. The denials were all over reaching requests from the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

So Close But Yet So Far

As I rushed to prepare for a busy day this morning, I managed to read an interesting story. “Mudslinging Starts Early in Campaign for Governor” was the title on the front of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. My interest almost turned to glee as it seemed that they might, however vaguely, mention the no-bid contract that Scott Walker awarded to a company headed by campaign contributors. The story was originally broken right here at Eye on Wisconsin. Unfortunately the Journal Sentinel only mentioned that Walker gave back $325, but did not mention why. You see, as Xoff has already stated, Walker only decided to give back this small amount AFTER the AP picked up on our story. So why not report this little detail? I really don’t understand it, let’s look at the facts:

  • Walker received campaign contributions from executives at the company in question.
  • Walker’s Administration awarded a no-bid contract to the company.
  • We reported on this issue.
  • The AP felt our story legitimate enough to pick up on it.
  • Walker apparently saw the terrible appearance of the whole thing and gave back a small portion of the money.

Given these facts, why would the Journal Sentinel not report? Why would they take us right up to the edge but hold back on vital aspects? In this very story they printed partisan allegations of both Doyle and Green. Why not the full story on Walker? Are they in a love affair with Scott Walker? Perhaps they are simply embarrassed because some blogger beat them to a story. In any case, it’s a pathetic shame.

The Poll I Thought I Missed...But Didn't

I opened my paper on Monday and found a very large add in the main section. “Will Senators Kohl & Feingold listen to Ted Kennedy or the people of Wisconsin?” was the title. The paid advertisement was referring to the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. “Oh my,” I thought, “did I miss a major poll taken in Wisconsin on this issue?” So I read the entire add but found no poll results. I only found name calling, and extreme right wing spin.

The dishonesty made me wonder, who would promote such an add? Then I looked at the bottom and read “Focus on the Family Action.” “Oh…only the religious wrong would be so sinfully dishonest,” I said to myself. For those that don’t know, Focus on the Family is headed by quack and all around wacko James Dobson, and is based in Colorado.

So why are these people telling us what “Wisconsin values” are? Could it actually be “Wisconsin Values” that have put Senators Kohl and Feingold repeatedly in office? I trust those “polls” much more than the edicts of an out of state fringe group.

Data Proves Progressive Could Win Plale's Seat

When I posted that State Sen. Jeff Plale would face a progressive primary opponent, I also made a case that a progressive could win that district. If you’ll recall, I made the following comment:
South Milwaukee and Cudahy are very blue collar working class suburbs. If
a progressive candidate can tap into those blue collar issues more effectively,
a win seems possible. Also some of the southeastern suburbs are becoming more
ethnically diverse than they once were. Targeting these communities could
also help tip the balance in the 7th Senate District.

At the time I made that comment based on my own personal knowledge of the district. Since then, I happened to obtain some data from the November 2004 elections. Russ Feingold was running against Tim Michels in that cycle. The distinctions between the two were unmistakable. Yet these supposedly conservative voters of South Milwaukee and Cudahy voted for the clear progressive. Not only did they vote for him, but they did so in convincing numbers. Russ Feingold won in South Milwaukee 6,830 to 4,932. In Cudahy Russ won 5,807 to 3,917.

A progressive CAN win in the 7th Senate District, whether they will is a different story. My advice? You might want to study Russ Feingold.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Eye on Wisconsin Podcast 1-8-06

This week we have a special announcement. We will discuss the Abramoff Scandal, Doyle’s new campaign/ethics package, a message from “Mark Green” and the trouble that Bush has brought to miners and privacy.

Music this week: The UK’s DJ Topshelf, Milwaukee Band Pierce Street, and NYC’s Hired Gun performing “Arrest the President” at the end of the show.

Listen to our podcasts on Itunes or simply follow THIS LINK.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mark Pocan's New Blog

ProgressiveState legislator Mark Pocan (D-Madison) debuted a blog this past week. In his press release he promises to “showcase the good, the bad and the ugly in Wisconsin government.”

Below are a few highlights from his new blog:

Mark doubts whether the Discrimination Against Gays Amendment (DAGA) is really about marriage at all. He even reveals a few overheard comments from Republicans in Madison, expressing how they don’t really like dealing with this issue.

Mark questions whether the so-called Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance is really a non-partisan group. He proceeds to make a convincing argument that they should really be called the Corporate Taxpayer’s Alliance.

He also questions why Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) seems to be undermining Gov. Doyle’s attempt at ethics reform. He suggests that maybe it could be pain pills that are making Ellis act so strange (apparently Ellis recently slipped on ice and was injured).

Mark talks in detail about how money taints our political system. He mentions his proposals of having publicly financed elections (something that I support). He also discusses the new ethics package that Doyle has introduced.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I Dubb Thee Senator Cold Feet

After a statewide chorus for Governor Doyle to act on campaign finance and ethics reforms, he announced a package yesterday. What is his just reward for taking action? So far politicing, second guessing, backbiting and naysaying. With this kind of reception from some so called reformers in our state, perhaps I can see why a governor has not introduced such changes in the past.

This package does not go as far as I would like to see either, but our goal should be to at least move forward. The Governor must know that if he went too far it would stand no chance of passing a Republican controlled legislature. Here are the major reforms that the Governor is suggesting:

  • Offer 100% public financing for Supreme Court candidates.
  • Ban all fundraising by incumbents and challengers during the budget period.
  • A one year ban on lobbying for former legislators, staff, governors, and appointees.
  • Merge the Wisconsin Ethics and Elections boards.
  • Ban the use of campaign and tax dollars to pay for legal defense fees.

Although he is referred to as a reformer, Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) is already saying that one part (the last item) of the reform package stands little chance of passing. Based on his press release and comments thusfar it looks like this “great reformer” is willing to toss the entire proposal. Let me say one thing to Sen. Ellis about trashing this proposal over the small details. It may not be perfect but it is a "quantum leap from the cesspool we're currently living in." Does that line of reasoning sound familiar? It should because that was your reasoning when you were trying to push your campaign finance reform legislation.

In Ellis’ early statements, rather than trying to support any advancement he bitterly suggests some of the following:

  • As previously mentioned, the ban on campaign and tax dollars for legal defense will not pass.
  • That Doyle is doing this for political reasons.
  • Doyle stole everyone else’s ideas.

Tell me Senator Ellis, if I solve these problems for you will you try to get this package passed? First I will suggest that they grandfather in your friends that still await trial. Even though I have a problem with this, let them use public dollars since the other side did. I will try to convince you to stop the political sniping and second guessing and just concentrate on advancing the cause. If credit is what you want for some of these ideas, I will start referring to the package as the Ellis inspired reform package. Make you feel better? Good.

Now that I have solved your issues with this reform package, I expect effort and support from you. If you don’t keep your end of the deal then I must doubt your real motives. I will be forced to wonder a few things (some out loud): Do you want to see Doyle lose the upcoming election so bad that you would sacrifice efforts on your “signature issue”? Have you been preemptively taken to the woodshed by your party’s leaders? Perhaps it is something very simple such as cold feet.

Places to Go People to See

Madison Meeting to Organize Impeachment

WHO: This town meeting is organized by the Clarence Kalink Chapter of Veterans for Peace. Co-sponsoring are the Green Party of WI, Dane County Democrats for Peace, the South Central Federation of Labor, among others.

WHAT & WHY: This is a town meeting open to all especially those persons in the south central Wisconsin area. The purposes of the meeting are: 1. To update persons on the national movement to impeachment President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld; 2. To discuss how to work at the local level to help communities understand the reasons and need for impeachment; 3. To discuss how to encourage the WI Congressional delegation to support House impeachment efforts, and 4. To discuss how to move the impeachment issue into the November 2006 congressional campaigns.

WHEN & WHERE: 1 PM to 3 PM, Saturday, January 7, 2006 at the Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53589

Shorewood Meeting About The Future of Iraq -- And George Bush
Come and hear nationally known columnist John Nichols give his views on these important topics. Discussion to follow.
January 10, 2006 From: 07:00 PM until 09:00 PM
4048 N. Bartlett Ave.
One block north of Capitol Dr. and one block west of Oakland Ave. Enter at the northeast door. Questions? Email the Host

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Campaign $$$ Questions for Paul Ryan

I must admit that I am happy to see Congressman Paul Ryan getting rid of the $949 given to him by Jack and Pamela Abramoff. This act does bring up a few questions however. Ryan has claimed that he could not give back the tainted $25,000 in Tom Delay money because it was all spent (among other excuses).

Ryan received the contribution from Abramoff in the year 2000. According to the Racine Journal Times he received $6,345 in Delay money that same year. Then he received $10,000 in Delay money in 2002. So here is my question. How is it that you have apparently not spent the Abramoff money but you have somehow spent all of the Delay money? You received the bulk of the Delay money after you received the gift from Abramoff. How did the Abramoff cash manage to stick around while the Delay money vanished?

New Journal Sentinel Policy: Bring Up Doyle Everywhere

Not only does the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel find another reason to print yet another headline about Jim Doyle today, but now they even bring him up when reporting on the Jack Abramoff scandal. No, Doyle has absolutely nothing to do with the corrupt Republican lobbyist, but they found a way to sneak his name into the story anyway. One minute they are talking about Paul Ryan dumping a contribution from Abramoff, then they are talking about Green’s chief of staff showing up on Abramoff freebee lists, and then BOOM! A mention of Doyle and the Adelman contract. Huh? How are those two related again? What’s next? Are you going to start slipping Doyle’s name into every negative story, even if he had nothing to do with it? I can see it now, “there was another homicide today, and oh…by the way….Governor Doyle blah blah blah blah blah.”

File This One Under Hypocrisy

This has nothing to do with Wisconsin other than the fact that there are Southern Baptist churches all over the state. It does however show some of the frequent hypocrisy in those groups that sit in judgement of others. From an Oklahoma TV Station:

An executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention was arrested on
a lewdness charge for propositioning a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel,
police said.
Lonnie Latham, senior pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church, was
booked into Oklahoma County Jail Tuesday night on a misdemeanor charge of
offering to engage in an act of lewdness, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker said.
Latham was released on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon.
Latham, who has spoken
out against homosexuality, asked the officer to join him in his hotel room for
oral sex. Latham was arrested and his 2005 Mercedes automobile was impounded,
Becker said.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Journal Sentinel Suffers Amnesia Today

Imagine that Jim Doyle’s chief of staff showed up on freebee lists of a lobbyist that just plead guilty for multiple felonies. Further imagine that this lobbyist had also bribed governors and their staffs with trips and gifts. Do you think that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel would mention that while reporting on the guilty plea? Given the Journal Sentinel’s obsession with putting Doyle on the front page for any and every reason, it seems like a sure thing. Since the actual lobbyist is Jack Abramoff and the chief of staff is Republican Mark Green’s Mark Graul, the paper says nothing.

This imbalance seems to be a pattern with the Journal Sentinel. Although they won’t stop reporting on Doyle campaign contributions from contractors, they refused last month to report on Contract Questions for Scott Walker (story broken here). Now the other Republican candidate for governor has a former chief of staff (current campaign manager) on a freebee list of a guilty lobbyist and it is not even mentioned in today’s Front page story.

Either the Journal Sentinel has been so shell shocked by false accusations of liberal bias, or they have a horse in this race. Given their choice of coverage, it seems that horse may actually be an elephant.

1 Guilty Lobbyist + 1 Indicted Delay= Lots of Dirty Green

At this point most of you know that super lobbyist Jack Abramoff has plead guilty to several counts of fraud in federal court. He is expected to plead guilty in a federal case in Florida as well. His various cases have spawned what reportedly will be a wide ranging congressional corruption investigation. As a result of his guilty plea, Abramoff has now turned state’s evidence, and is expected to tell all about congressional corruption. Some reports have suggested as many as 20 congressmen and their aides are subjects of that ongoing investigation.

One thing that we know for certain is that Abramoff gave Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas) tens of thousands of dollars. We also know that Tom Delay then redistributed large amounts of money to other congressional Republicans. As we reported early on after Tom Delay was indicted, Wisconsin’s Mark Green and Paul Ryan were beneficiaries of the Tom Delay cash. There has been a steady chorus of people demanding that Green and Ryan give back the tainted money. Both Republicans have given 101 different reasons for why they would not give it back. At one point, Mark Green reportedly said that he would only consider giving money back after a conviction.

We now KNOW that someone has committed numerous federal crimes (Abramoff). We also KNOW that he gave tens of thousands to Delay who gave tens of thousands to Green/Ryan. My question for both men would be the following: Can you guaranty that none of the illegal money from Abramoff made it through Tom Delay into your respective campaigns? If you can’t give the public this guaranty, then you MUST give back the tainted money now! I would hope that you would want to avoid the VERY APPEARANCE of impropriety. Even Mark Green’s Republican primary opponent for Governor, Scott Walker, has now said that Green should give back all of the money.

Mark Green might be more concerned about the Abramoff scandal than Ryan because Green’s former chief of staff Mark Graul (current campaign manager) shows up on various Abramoff freebee lists. Some of these freebee items are the very types of things that Abramoff used to influence some congressmen and their aids. This along with the growing corruption scandal, and the tainted money from Delay would be overwhelming to any normal person. Green once again has an opportunity to do what is right in one of these instances. His actions in the next several days will tell more about him than any of the TV commercials that he plans to produce in his run for governor.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Defend Marriage! Ban Fundamentalist Weddings!

Xoff is advising us that the right wing is trying to rename their latest attack on gay people. What most have called the “gay marriage amendment” is now being called the “defense of marriage amendment.” Julaine Appling, executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, was the latest one pitching the new name.

It is true that marriage is in need of defending, but not from gay people. Appling is likely relying on her own personal and religious views to advocate for this descrimination. If her position was really based in verifiable fact then she would be “defending marriage” against the many other things that actually do damage it.

If Appling dared to look past her predjudice, she would find some very interesting data. In a Boston Globe report from 2004, there was a very good article about the state of marriage in America. It discussed which states had the most divorce and which states had the least. The studies cited in that article were done from a wide range of groups (including a Christian Fundamentalist one), but they all came to the same conclusion. The state of Massachusetts had the least amount of divorce in the nation! Yes, liberal Massachusetts where gay couples are allowed to marry freely. As a matter of fact, the top five were all from the “liberal” northeastern states. Yes even Vermont with it’s dreaded civil unions was in that elite group of pro-marriage states. Some of the worst states in the country for marriage are the southern Bible Belt states where Christian Fudamentalism dominates.

Given the above data, I would encourage Julaine to contine to “defend marriage.” I only recommend that she change targets. Apparently gay marriage and civil unions actually help the institution of marriage. It seems that marriage’s real enemies are no fault divorce, poverty, poor education and Christian Fundamentalism. Constitutional amendment anyone?