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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, May 31, 2008

McCain Double Standard Giving Me a Dean Campaign Flashback

by folkbum

Anyone besides me remember this?
MR. RUSSERT: But how many troops--how many men and women do we now have on active duty?

DR. DEAN: I can't tell you the answer to that either. It's...

MR. RUSSERT: But as commander in chief, you should now that. [. . .]

DR. DEAN: So your perception--your position is that I need to know exactly how many people are on duty today in the active military forces...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, have a sense...

DR. DEAN: ...six months away from the first primary?

MR. RUSSERT: If somebody wants to be president of the United States, have a sense of the military.
Does anyone else besides me remember all the crap that Howard Dean took after that, from the GOP, from the media, from conservative warbloggers? The critics were everywhere. I had just started blogging back then and I was neck-deep in the Dean campaign, and it all remains pretty vivid to me.

It's all I've been thinking about the last couple of days after John McCain said, while he was here in Wisconsin, "We have drawn down to presurge levels" in Iraq. We haven't--troop levels there are about 15% higher right now than they were before last summer's "surge."

Look, foreign policy is supposed to be McCain's area of expertise. It's supposed to be the one thing that he knows really, really well. The Iraq war, in particular, is supposed to be McCain's ace in the hole--if anyone can finally win this war, McCain would have us believe, it's him. Yet McCain consistently shows he has no idea what's going on in Iraq, from this latest blunder to having to be corrected by Joe Lieberman about who is funding which insurgents. I respect the fact that he served and that he was a POW in Vietnam. That takes a lot of character and I respect him for that. But he clearly doesn't know what's happening now, not a deep level nor even at the basic level of how many troops we have serving there.

And, as Tim Russert would say, as commander in chief, you should know that.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I just got a $640 raise

by folkbum

This fall I'll be driving about 140 fewer miles per week to work. The commute was not the only--or primary--reason for transferring to a new school; it is, however, a nice bonus.

In addition, it will be very, very good to have about an hour of my life back every day that I used to spend in the car.

Wisconsin dislikes Pawlenty

by folkbum

One of the kind of dumb things about SurveyUSA's polling of potential full-ticket (i.e., president and vice president vs. president and vice president) matchups between McCain and Obama is that most people in the country have no idea who, for example, Kathleen Sebelius or Tim Pawlenty are. (The biggest dumb thing is that the odds of any one of the people polled as potential ticket-mates being the actual veep candidate are pretty slim. I mean, Chuck Hagel as Obama's running mate? Come on!)

In Wisconsin, we should actually have a good idea who Pawlenty really is, though. He is Minnesota's governor, which means that probably more people in Wisconsin have heard of Pawlenty and what he's been up to than in other state besides Minnesota itself.

The results? We don't like him. In polling of Wisconsin released today, McCain-Pawlenty loses the state to Obama in every permutation, and McCain-Pawlenty provides the worst matchup of all for the GOP, losing to Obama-Edwards by 15%. Here's the graph; click on the image for a link to SUSA, where you can see the cross-tabs and so forth.



I can't wait for the SUSA poll of Minnesota. (Of note, googling around for this story, I found Minnesota Monitor, which is keeping good track of Pawlenty's VP odyssey here.)

Is this how bad I-94 traffic has gotten?

by folkbum
A plane en route to Waukesha from Milwaukee made an emergency landing at a New Berlin golf course about 11:30 this morning, emergency officials said.

The 34-year-old pilot from Milwaukee suffered "some minor scratches" but was taken by ambulance to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa as a precaution, New Berlin Police Lt. Mike Glider said. The pilot was alone on the Cessna 150 single-engine plane, which was on its way to Crites Field from Mitchell International Airport when it experienced engine trouble, he said.
People have to fly instead of drive 30 miles! I think now even Mark Belling would agree that we need high-speed rail to prevent these kind of accidents in the future!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Reason to Avoid Texas

by capper

As if being the home of the Cowboys and George W. Bush wasn't bad enough, Texas is just dandy with this.

Disgusting.

Honey, Have You Seen The Cat?

by capper

Some pictures I got in an email. I've never seen so many eagles in one place before. Even more amazing to me is that the pictures were supposed to have been taken in Minoqua, WI.









I'm not well

by folkbum

My anniversary post yesterday features the classic color-blindness test digit 5. But in the back of my mind all along I was thinking, I should convert it to black and white just to screw with people.

Meeting Readers (and: Go see a play)

by folkbum

The readership of this blog is not terribly large, and I generally get the sense that the bulk of those readers are from four categories: 1) other local bloggers; 2) local and state political folk keeping track of the hoi polloi; 3) people googling the new CFO of the Argo Group (apparently one of the lucky escapees from Bear Stearns shares my name); and 4) Dan.

However, I was at a function yesterday afternoon wearing my (metaphorical) Bay View Compass hat and sat down at a random table. The woman I sat next to read my name tag and said, out of the blue, "You're my favorite blogger!"

That, like, never happens, that I meet real people who are readers and fans. So, Laura, thanks. To show my appreciation, I am going to demand now that the rest of you, my readers, go see Laura's play:

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
Presented by Bay View High School
2751 S. Lenox Street, Milwaukee
Thursday, May 29, 7:00 PM
Friday, May 30, 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 31, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.

Also, confidential to Laura, the question which we discussed: The answer is indeed yes. Email me and we will talk.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dunkin Donuts Caters to Crackpots

By Keith Schmitz

What a great country we live in. Here in Milwaukee we have one-man crazed mob John McAdams hounding radio stations and furniture stores. Nationally Michele Malkin, who proves clowns can be played by women, sees Rachel Ray as a terrorist.

Watch out for those exploding bottles of EVO.

On the Huffington Post:
Dunkin Donuts has pulled a commercial featuring pitchwoman Rachael Ray wearing a scarf because Michelle Malkin and other conservative observers thought the scarf looked too much like a keffiyeh, what Malkin describes as "the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad."
Well. Now we all know what a keffiyeh is. And I thought the chain only sold pastry that coats your teeth.

Malkin crowed after DD yanked the ad...
It's refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists. Too many of them bend over backward in the direction of anti-American political correctness....(no, now they are bending over for something else).

Fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence -- unintentionally or not -- they matter. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In post-9/11 America, vigilance must never go out of style.
Looks like advertising stylists everywhere had better watch their wardrobe choices or they will have to answer to astro-turf bloggers.

My question is who gets to eat the cost of this prematurely pulled ad - the agency or the client?

If Dunkin Donuts had any donut holes they would have told Malkin to take a dunk -- in the Boston Harbor.

Could this country find more ways to turn itself into a laughing stock?

This is dumb, dumb, dumb

by folkbum
State plans to add new lanes to I-94 in a 35-mile stretch from the Illinois border to Milwaukee's south side are in line for federal approval this week, and a construction start within a year. [. . .]

According to the Final Environmental Impact statement, there would be very little difference in travel times in Racine and Kenosha counties whether lanes are added or the road is rebuilt with its current six lanes.

In the one-month comment period that ended May 5, statements in opposition to the expansion outnumbered those in favor by nearly 3 to 1, based on a review of those submitted in writing and via telephone.
So this summer, when gas is over $4 a gallon, we're talking about expanding a highway for no good reason with construction to begin next summer when gas is $6 a gallon and to be completed in a few years when gas is $12 a gallon. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

We must be the only region left in the nation that is banking on the automobile as the future of transportation.

UPDATE: See Milwaukee Rising and The Political Environment (whose post aptly names this project: "planning for yesterday").

Five

by folkbum



Seems like it was just yesterday that I started this crazy thing, but it wasn't--it was five years ago. Of course, in those days, I had to chisel out the posts on slabs of rock and catapult them personally into readers' caves.

Things are much more advanced now. I have lackeys to deliver the slabs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The County Board Shows Some Common Sense

by capper

While catching up on the news, I was heartened to see that the Milwaukee County Board has decided to take some time to analyze the foolish proposal to move the mental health complex. This is especially true given that the county has already invested so much money and effort in getting the current facility up to code.

Furthermore, the numbers I have seen aren't adding up the way Walker is presenting them (more on this at a later date).

What is disconcerting is Walker's persistence on the issue:
Walker has suggested closing the deal soon, noting that St. Michael owner Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare might not wait much longer for the county to decide. The County Board last week voted to delay consideration for two months for more study.

After all, we all remember what happened the last time the board rubber-stamped a proposal from the County Executive without giving it a thorough vetting.

What About My Prosperity?

by capper

So, coming back from a long holiday, what do we have?
  1. Gas prices still above $4 a gallon
  2. Health insurance rates that are $2000 higher than the national average, and
  3. Wages that are lower than the national average

That hurts.

And where are the so-called "Americans For Prosperity?"

They're spouting hot air at a tailgate party about how being ecofriendly is cutting into their already excessive profits. Way to go, guys!

I'm ready to go back up north, even with its giant mosquitoes from hell.

When I run for president, this will be my platform

by folkbum

One item, and one item only: All holidays will be moved to Fridays.

I mean, the first day of work in a week always feels like a Monday even if you didn't have to work on the actual Monday; missing work on a Monday is not really avoiding "Monday" at all. But a Thursday before a long weekend will always feel like a Friday. So we move all holidays to Fridays--the number of "Mondays" will remain unchanged, but we'll have a lot fewer Thursdays.

Plus, I'll get rid of the penny.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I guess the "professionals" were right--Obama can't win Ohio

by folkbum

Oh, wait, yes he can. In spades.

They Won't Even Need Hydrogen

By Keith Schmitz

Aptly named event from Americans for Prosperity on July 26th

Tailgate for Taxpayers...

Hot Air Tour

Some weekend links

by folkbum

Here are a couple of things I've had lying around for the last few days that I'm just not going to get to in earnest.

• The real John McCain, in video form or in book review form.



• I've come to like these sites a lot for Dem Primary wonkery: fivethirtyeight and DemConWatch. DemConWatch reminds us that Obama wins, even with FL and MI counted as-is.

• Your "liberal" media: A bunch of xenophobic liars, it seems.

• 620 WTMJ carries Michael Savage's show in the middle of the night when no one can hear it except the sad, pathetic losers who probably find crap like this funny. A few others have already blogged this, but it's worth reminding you: Contact John Schweitzer, the general manager, and let him know what you think of Savage: (414) 967-5521 or email jschweitzer@journalbroadcastgroup.com. You could also try Tom Parker, the program director: (414) 967-5207, tparker@620wtmj.com.

UPDATE: No offense intended to the non-pathetic, non-losers who don't find Savage's crap worthwhile and instead choose to listen to more reasonable radio as they work/ party/ study/ wrap the tin foil around their heads/ enjoy the quiet of the night/ rob banks/ otherwise engage in productive activities overnight. Apologies.

Slow Weekend

by folkbum

A significant portion of the writing team here at the outrage factory will be away from the internet tubes for much of this long holiday weekend, spending time with family, friends, and other bags of skin.

Speaking of bags of skin, I tried to find the Peter Mulvey song I borrowed that from on YouTube, but no one has snuck video of it that I can see. So, instead, something else:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who's Watching The Watchers

by capper

What's it going to take before people start worrying about the abused and neglected children in Milwaukee County?

I have pointed out before that the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare isn't doing their job in protecting these kids that have already been maltreated.

Now we see that the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council, which was formed to oversee the BMCW, can't even oversee themselves.

I can't imagine why a County Board Supervisor, or a private citizen couldn't make any of the meetings, but even if they had a valid reason, then they should resign and let someone who gives a darn take their place. Without oversight, the BMCW will continue to try to get away with murder, sometimes literally.

And for the conservatives that might be worried that the gubmint is only trying to take away their God-given rights to abuse children, let me point out that this Council is part of an agreement to settle a huge class action suit, and failure to follow through could end up costing the taxpayers millions of dollars, like Sheriff Valvoline Clarke is costing us with his failure to live up to his end of the bargain, regarding the overcrowding at the Milwaukee County Jail.

But it should be enough just to want to keep kids from further abuses.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Walker: How Not To Win Friends And Influence People

by capper

So Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has a hybrid bus schlepped up from Alabama. I'm sure it was to use it for a photo op and to promote his myopic view for mass transit in Milwaukee. It's a good thing that the photo op part didn't work out, or we would have had the opportunity to see a nice snapshot of Walker with egg on his face.

He invited a group of city officials to come and enjoy the nice ride that this bus provides. But he changes the route, and leaves several officials stranded in front of city hall, standing around like most of the riders of the bus system lately, waiting for a bus that wasn't coming there anymore.

Not only did he have the problem with communication, and didn't do a lot to win people on his side with his faux pas, but the buses he likes aren't much better than the old derelicts that are in use now:

The 60-foot hybrid bus demonstrated Tuesday costs about $900,000, carries 63 passengers and gets 7.5 miles per gallon on the freeway and 4.5 mpg in the city, the manufacturer says.

By comparison, the transit system's current 40-foot diesel buses each cost about $350,000, carry 40 passengers and average 4.4 mpg between city and freeway use, county and transit system officials say.
Not only does the bus get negligibly better mileage, if one is to believe the manufacturer, but carries only a half again as many riders, but costs nearly three times as much.

Of course, this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time, that Mr. Fiscal Responsibility has proven himself to be anything but fiscally responsible.

For other takes on the bus fiasco, check out James Rowen and Craig Kowalski, who had this telling cartoon, by Stuart Carlson, as well:


Paul Ryan's Perpetual Motion Machine

By Keith Schmitz

Rising GOP star Paul Ryan has unveiled his "A Roadmap to American's Future" which did not fail to disappoint in that his innovative ideas to take us down this road are the usual retreads of right wing ideology.

Others will pick apart this turkey but my portion of the bird will be healthcare.

Surprise! Ryan wants to resort to the usual in GOPworld -- tax credits -- to pay for Americans to pay for health insurance.

With family tax credit being $5,000 to buy health insurance this will still leave a generous portion for uncovered Americans to pay when considering the average annual premium.

But this proposal reveals the usual problem -- relying on health insurance. If nothing is done to reform the current system, woes will still persist for average Americans.

Insurance to a greater extent is not protecting people from the rising costs of health care. A recent study showed Americans tumbling into debt when they run aground in a health care crisis.

It's no shock. Not only can't coverage keep up as medical costs soar, but it is well known health insurance companies find ways not to cover people and have staffs of medical experts to make sure that happens. Doctors offices have to employ full timers to provide the paperwork and answer trick questions.

There are also many people who could not get that coverage even if they had the money because of pre-existing conditions.

But what Ryan is proposing is a means to keep funding perpetually these insurance companies which exist to provide profit. Health care coverage appears to be a sideline.

This time our tax dollars help to make stoke their engines. Further, there is suspicion that once these tax credits happen companies will dump off their employee coverage. How convenient.

Why is it every time a Republican program is offered it is really wrapping for some corporate benefit? Can't the GOP ever leave their buddies out of the equation, or is that the way they feel government works?

Sorry Paul. When it comes to this portion of the road you are paving the way to hell for millions of Americans, but not with good intentions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thoughts for Ted Kennedy

by folkbum

Even the good prognosis for Senator Kennedy is bad. Let us hope for the best.

Aside: I don't recall--and I don't think I just missed it--any particular show of "classlessness" or anything of the sort from us lefty bloggers when, for example, Tony Snow had a relapse of his cancer. Yet since Saturday the righties have made sure that we don't forget those imaginary lapses in decorum.

Doris Nails It

By Keith Schmitz

Doris Kearns Goodwin was on Morning Joe this morning talking about the Kennedy Administration with presidential adviser Ted Sorenson.

The talk naturally drifted over to the Obama candidacy. In discussing the shift brought about by JFK in the 60's, Dr. Goodwin made the comment that "the Obama campaign has made politics sexy again."

That's the potential that lies ahead. Every 25 years or so a candidate comes along that shuffles the national deck -- TR in 1900, FDR in 1932, JFK in 1960, Reagan in 1980.

The times they are changing. Polls show people are recognizing the role government plays in organizing, investing and stabilizing in society. Young voters -- include evangelicals here -- are becoming more socially aware and environmentally conscious. Those are the voters who cement trends and cause them to last a generation.

The concept of "hands-off" government has run its course and the country is ready to go off in a different direction. The US is falling behind, people know it and fortunately are smart enough to pick up on that it is time to shift gears.

As in these four past administrations, fine minds could find their way into government.

Of course in politics anything can happen between now and November, but as usual history is almost irresistible.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pop Quiz

by folkbum

Read the following paragraph:
Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone--a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. ... Eating on the street--even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat--displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. ... Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. ... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.
That paragraph appears in (a) an angry European's list of things he hates about Americans; (b) a particularly testy early edition of Emily Post; or (c) a report prepared and released at taxpayer expense by the federal government's President's Council on Bioethics written by the founder of said Council himself.

Answer here. It's a little long, but it explains a whole lot of this, I think.

Race and the Race

by folkbum

One of the last times I ran for any elected office was when I ran for treasurer of my high school senior class. (I lost.) The day before the vote, the school dragged all the kids in my class down to the gym and sat us on the bleachers where we were forced to listen to speeches from all the candidates for all the various offices.

My high school was suburban, but racially integrated as the result of a merger between a number of districts a couple of decades before. In the district's single high school, perhaps 30 or 35% of the students were of African or Asian descent, and the rest of us were white. I do not remember the complete breakdown of who from what racial background was running for which meaningless post my senior year, but I do remember one jerk from the audience that year, a white jerk.

As the students were streaming out of the gym back to class, speeches finished and hopes lifted, this guy yelled out, several times, "Vote for all the white people!"

Let me show you a map:


You've probably seen that map already; it's the counties so far that have voted 65% or more for Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. I took this from DHinMI from before the West Viginia primary, and could not find an updated one from afterwards, but imagine, if you will, that most of the gray WV-shaped area there is also purple (not all, just most).

It's pretty easy to see that Clinton excels in a range stretching from the Appalachians across the Ohio River valley to the Ozarks. (At the link above, you can view the 65% maps for Senator Barack Obama to see that he, too, has areas of strength.) Let me blow up that segment of the map:



I've added a yellow circle showing, roughly, where I come from, where my high school was located that some idiot in a mullet and a heavy metal-band t-shirt can shout out "Vote for all the white people!" before the election of senior class officers. I'm from right there in the thick of it. (It will look even more like it after Kentucky votes on Tuesday.) These voters you hear about in West Virginia who still think Obama's a Muslim or who can't imagine relinquishing control of the US to a black man are, in a very real way, my people.

I knew well enough at 17 that I didn't want the vote of our racist antagonist here, but I also knew that I would be getting it whether I wanted it or not. In this one small way, I think I can say I know how Hillary Clinton feels.

I do not want to suggest in any way that Clinton has gotten as far as she has solely on the basis of some racist vote. On the contrary, when you look at the map of Clinton's 55% and higher victories, you can see that she pulls in the votes pretty well in minority-heavy districts all across the country. I voted for Clinton here in Wisconsin for two solid reasons that had nothing to do with race, making up my mind literally in the voting booth that afternoon. (And if that racist vote were really that powerful, I would have been treasurer of my high school senior class.)

However, it is clear that race is playing a role in this primary for Clinton, as sure as it is for Obama--many of his 65% counties are concentrated across the South where blacks are often the bulk of Democratic primary voters. But there is, I think, a very real difference in the two.

For Clinton, not because she wants it, not because she's cultivated it, not because she deserves it, there is a "vote for all the white people!" mentality that is boosting her vote totals across a limited geographical spread. Again, please do not think that I am accusing Clinton of being racist--she is not--or accusing all those who voted for her of being racist--the vast majority are not. But the difference between a mere victory for Clinton and a blowout across a swath of America has been, I think, those who are motivated by race.

And the same for Obama. However, instead of an antithesis of the "vote for all the white people!" mentality that Clinton has benefited from, there is instead an energy and excitement among African American voters about the chance to finally vote for someone who isn't white. Obama has motivated black voters in this cycle like no one has before, theoretically putting states into play--like Mississippi, where the biggest Democratic upset of the year came largely thanks to black voters even as whites were winning West Virginia for Clinton--that would not have been in play in anyone's wildest imaginations a year ago.

I do not think that my Ohio Valley brethren are enervated over the opportunity to vote for a white presidential candidate. Seems to me that they've had the chance to do exactly that for the last, oh, 200-some years. Rather, a "vote for all the white people!" mentality is a move to protect perceived power as opposed to spread power to traditionally disenfranchised groups.

The irony, of course, is that the poor whites who inhabit the Appalachians and Ozarks and points in between, and who have been giving Clinton her blowout margins, are the furthest thing away from any source of real power. In the same way, the kid who shouted out to my senior class was someone I didn't know (in a class of more than 450 students, that's not that hard), and who likely didn't have any connection to any of the other non-mulleted candidates for any of the offices in that year's low-impact election. Yet at least in the white candidates, there's enough of an "us" (versus "them") to believe.

African Americans across the South, too, who gave Obama his biggest margins, also lack access to traditional structures of power, but are turning out in record numbers.

In many ways, this is perhaps what's most exciting about this election: Both candidates are drawing in huge numbers of Democratic voters whose interests are usually not served by the primary or general election process. No one would have guessed a year ago or even a few months ago the nomination process for either major party would be fought out among those whose voices are usually silenced in the decision-making process. (Both parties count, often too heavily, on the votes of those out of power to help maintain their power; see, for example, What's the Matter with Kansas?, or any one of a billion internet screeds about how the Democrats take the black vote for granted.)

Much about this election season has made me uneasy, not the least of it the bringing back up unpleasant high school memories. But a lot of it has also left me feeling pretty positive about the direction of my party, specifically, and of the country, more generally. The incidental ugliness from some voters will end up, I believe--I hope!--no more significant in the long run of this election than a solitary mullet-head shouting out to 450 kids in a hallway.

In the end, we'll have made history--and that's something people from all different backgrounds should be proud of.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vote fraud investigation costs $700,000 of our tax money per fraudulent vote uncovered

by folkbum

Outsourcing the story to Josh Marshall:
Two years ago Texas' Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott declared war on what he claimed was rampant vote fraud in Texas. He set up a special vote fraud unit and got a $1.4 million grant from the feds for the work.

Now, two years on, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News, we have a run-down of what Abbot came up with--26 cases.

The details tell the story: All 26 cases involved Democrats, and almost [all] were either blacks or Hispanics.

Of the 26, 8 appear to have been genuine cases of fraud, two of which were cases of people actually casting fraudulent ballots, as opposed to bogus registrations.
Republican Attorney General in a Republican state with stricter voting laws than Wisconsin using $1.4m in federal tax money found, of the millions of ballots cast in the last two years, two--two!--that were bogus. TWO. And yet I am willing to bet that the comments thread below fills up with conservatives from across Badgerland averring with no evidence whatsoever that vote fraud is The Most Serious Issue Ever and that We Must Have Voter ID Laws NOW.

It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

200,000

by folkbum

Last night, this blog had its 200,000th visitor as recorded by Sitemeter--though I have not had Sitemeter since this blog's inception, meaning the real 200,000th visitor came by probably a couple of months or more ago.

Ironically (or, more accurately, coincidentally) the person (from Tempe, Arizona, visiting at 10:26 PM CDT last night) landed on and read only this page--the post celebrating my 150,000th visitor, according to Sitemeter. Interesting, no?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Car Stuff

by folkbum

So I've been back in my Scion now for a little over two weeks. Props to Lou's Auto Body/ Carstar for the solid and timely repair work. There was even a minor leftover issue that Dave Cook and his team took care of quickly and without additional hassle or cost.

But after driving the Prius for a little more than two weeks, I got pretty good at optimizing the gas mileage, getting close to the Toyota-claimed 48 mpg much of the time.

So when I got back into the Scion, I tried to drive the way I was driving in the Prius. And for the first full tank after I picked it up--driving my normal drive, just trying to pay more attention to how I was driving--I drove 346 miles on just over 10 gallons of gas. Before the accident, I was getting 30 or 31 mpg; just driving more carefully, I was able to get almost 35 mpg.

Food for thought! Anyway, here are a few high-mpg driving tips for you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shoddy Journalism

by capper

This morning's paper had an article about Walker trying to push his plan to move the Behavioral Health Division from the county grounds in Wauwatosa to the old St. Michael's Hospital. (By the way, it's still a very bad idea, on many, many levels.)

Steve Schultze wrote the article, and it is pretty obvious that he wrote it from press releases from Walker's office, with only one or two phone calls. He misses a lot of different angles to this story. But perhaps the most offensive part of the article (outside of Walker's plan itself) is the last paragraph (emphasis mine):
The report says the shift to St. Michael would provide an opportunity for "culture change" throughout the county's Behavioral Health Division, whose employees staff the mental health complex. High absenteeism, high overtime costs and difficulty in recruiting workers have plagued the division in recent years. In addition, employees have publicly raised concerns about safety at the complex after several instances of patient assaults on staff and other patients.

A "culture change"? And did he bother wondering why there was high absenteeism, high overtime, and problems with recruitment? Perhaps he should have referred himself to an article that he wrote himself last year, which discussed that due to the low staffing cause by Walker's ineptitude, there was an increase of assaults on staff by 50%. The citizens of Milwaukee County had their chance for a culture change on April 1st. Now it's too late. This move, from what I hear, will only make things worse, as far as staffing goes.

But Schultze didn't bother to check, and apparently went with whatever the press release said. This doesn't surprise me too much though. It's not the first time I've wondered about his reporting.

Perplexed

by capper

Somedays, I just can't tell if I'm on the inside looking out or on the outside looking in.




Inspired by Elliot

If Gas Prices Continue To Rise...

by capper

With gas now going for as high as $4.19 a gallon in some parts of town, it won't be long before we see these:






Diesel prices are even worse, so just for my friend Bill, I've got a picture of his new rig:



Chuck Chvala joins cast of "Boston Legal"?

by folkbum


The jsonline folks have to generate hundreds of pages every week, and this sort of thing almost never happens, which is a testament to their talents. Still, when it does happen, it's pretty funny.

Denny Crane!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Dixie

By Keith Schmitz

Spent part of my day at Neeley's Bar-B-Q in Memphis and the other in a place called Olive Branch, MS. The significance, other than having a project for a client, is that Olive Branch is in the Mississippi first Congressional District.

Tonight the GOP lost that seat in a special election to Democrat Travis Childers. The GOP dropped something like $1.3 million, augmented by GOP shadow groups in support of Greg Davis.

The place where I was had Davis signs all over. There were Davis leaflets on the cars at the local Krogers.

No matter. In a district that probably matches up in partisan breakdown to the Wisconsin 5th, the GOP saw another seat slip away.

The pundits can talk all they want. This year will not be pretty for the GOP.

Who knows? Maybe Paul Ryan might feel hot breath at the back of his neck?

The GOP and those that have steered it to the hard right earned it. And in the MS-01 gas is only $3.55 a gallon.

Here We Go Again

by capper

Shortly after the 2002 election for County Executive, Scott Walker announced that there was a large deficit in the budget for the Parks Department. He pinned the blame on then Parks Director Sue Baldwin, even though he knew about the deficit as early as six months previously.

We are now just past seeing Walker being re-elected as County Executive, and there are new stories of bumbling.

As I wrote about last October, an inmate named Freddie Dudley allegedly was AWOL from the Community Correctional Center (part of the House of Corrections), when he said he shot a person on the far north side. At that time, Walker fired four officers (one of which was cleared and allowed back to work). I questioned Walker's motives and the wisdom of the actions he was taking.

Now it turns out that Dudley didn't kill anyone, and there are even questions if he was even AWOL from the correctional center. There is a call from the union to have the other three officers reinstated with back pay:
Three correctional officers recommended for firing over Dudley's purported walk-away from the work-release center should be immediately reinstated with back pay, said Kevin Schoofs, president of the correctional workers union.

Raffael Nash, Allamont Perine and Steven Stahl were suspended in October and recommended for firing because they failed to properly count Dudley and other inmates, according to disciplinary charges.

Those officers were political scapegoats for County Executive Scott Walker and top House of Correction officials, Schoofs said. Walker called for harsh discipline of any officers found at fault, after the Dudley homicide charges were issued.

The former manager of the work-release center also was recommended for firing in connection with the Dudley case, but that discipline was overturned by the county's Personnel Review Board.

As the right is fond of saying, where do these good officers go to get their good names back?
The three officers have been scheduled for a review in June. This was reported last year, when they were fired. Walker spins it in a way to save himself face:
Monday, Walker said there should be a review of the disciplinary charges against Nash, Perine and Stahl in light of the new evidence about Dudley.

If it turns out the three failed to follow work rules properly, the discipline should stand, Walker said.

Ironic that Walker mentions follows rules, when he doesn't. From another article in this morning's news, this about the County's failure to follow through on the law to become greener:
Swift consideration should be given for potential alternative energy applications for county facilities, such as the latest technology for solar panels for heating buildings, Weishan said.

He also faulted County Executive Scott Walker for foot-dragging on hiring a director of sustainability and environmental services, which was called for in last year's "green print" mandate. That person should have been hired months ago, he said.

Walker said the money for the position was approved in the 2008 budget, but not pegged to start until April 1. A job description is now being developed and should be ready to be advertised soon, he said. The job will pay about $108,000 a year.

Nothing like getting a jump on something you know is coming, so that you can be in adherence of the law you signed, eh, Scott?

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Progress Up North

by capper

First, thanks to everyone who has asked about my place up north. Things are getting better, albeit at a snail's pace.

The good news is that the Lambeauni rides (and mows) again. If you remember, it was buried under snow and debris:



After the snow finally melted, I was able to physically pull it out of the garage. Once outside, I got the key and tried it and with a big belch of smoke it started like nothing happened to it. The only serious problem was that the steering wheel was shattered. I was able to order a replacement wheel and put it on this past weekend:



There are a couple of scuffs and scratches on the hood, but nothing that probably wouldn't have happened just from use.

The garage is still a wreck, and I am having bad luck finding a contractor that isn't either swamped in work, charging through the nose, has a bad reputation, or any combination thereof.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we are planning on cleaning out the rest of the contents and start on the take down of what's left of the roof:



If anyone is interested in buying some old tools, like planes and a hand drill, let me know.

Signs Point Positive in Milwaukee

By Keith Schmitz

I want to second Gretchen Schuldt's post on the good effects of Joesph Zilber's $50 billion kick-start gift to revitalize Milwaukee and Marcus White's appointment to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

From a personal standpoint as Chair of the Interfaith Conference Congregational Action Network, it has been both a pleasure and an inspiration. working with Marcus. Hate to see him leave considering how much he got done with Interfaith, but the resources and connections through the GMF will magnify Marcus' ability to effect change here in Milwaukee.

Two other things that auger well for the metro area.

Though it got some mention for their launch last month, the new Common Ground organization will be bringing together groups -- conservative, moderate, liberal, religious, social justice, labor, business -- to find common solutions to metro-wide problems.

Milwaukee has been notorious as a city that is way too splintered, and this movement will find issues and approaches that will encourage joint efforts across all spectrums. Very refreshing when you think of it.

The second is a national trend. More people are waking up to the idea that government does have a constructive role in bringing progress. Over the last 25 years we have seen the effects of limiting government's role as evidenced by our crumbling infrastructure, our falling behind in research world-wide and the idea that in our financial markets we have to have a referee to prevent chaos on the playing field, thanks to the sub-prime mortgage blow-up.

Also polls show that Americans are warming up to government financed health care.

Looks like Milwaukee might be heading in the right direction.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day, and condolences

by folkbum

To all the mothers out there, and anyone who has a mother, I hope you enjoyed this gray and chilly day. But please keep Rick Esenberg and his family in your thoughts, as he lost his mother this week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

RIP, Richard Oulahan

by folkbum

Milwaukee lost one of the Good Guys yesterday:
Richard Oulahan, a passionate, committed and outspoken fighter for the poor, who built Esperanza Unida into an award-winning agency dedicated to creating family-sustaining jobs, died Friday. He was 60.

Oulahan spent more than 30 years building the south side nonprofit into an agency that won national acclaim for its programs to train poor people in auto repair, welding and other skills designed to lead to well-paying jobs.
My thoughts are with my friend Dennis and the Oulahan family today.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Oh Boy, More Time for Shootings, Vince Showing the Latest Gadget and It's Your Money

By Keith Schmitz

This might be a case where more is not better. From the Media Post site:

NBC Makes A Leap To 24-Hour Local News Channel

A media critique by Wayne Friedman , Friday, May 9, 2008

ARE LOCAL TV STATIONS' PROGRAMMING operations in trouble? Apparently, yes. What's the answer? Do more -- a lot more.

You can easily make a case that the Internet and other digital options are eating into local TV stations' advertising revenues.

So NBC figures to grab more --- not less -- shelf space. It will be starting up a local 24-hour digital news operation under the NBC banner through its New York City outlet, WNBC's new digital signals. It'll run on local cable systems' digital tiers.

Local TV digital signals will be the new world of programming homesteading. Right now filling 24 hours of content is a tough chore, costing a lot of money. But with news you can extend more easily into a 24-hour channel. Cable news networks in the '80s, like CNN, started this way.

In this DVR world, you don't want to time-shift news. You want news immediately -- and refreshed, with updated leads to stories you might have missed.

A 24-hour local news network would draw more viewers --albeit in sorter 10 minute to 15 minute increments -- just as national TV cable news cable channels have been doing for the last two and half decades.

NBC isn't the first to do this. Some cable operators have been into the 24-hour local cable TV news world for some time -- including Cablevision System's longtime News12 channel in the New York metropolitan area.

NBC, with a brand name already in place, seems to have an advantage over other cable news networks.

But is the move too late?

"In order to remain successful, local stations must put the appropriate weight on the additional platforms beyond their core television station," said John Wallace, president of NBC Universal's Local Media Division, which includes the NBC owned stations, in a release.

Reminder: Saturday Music

by folkbum

I know you're all already planning on being there, but just in case it slipped your mind for a second, remember that the Portage Road Songwriters Guild will be playing tomorrow, Saturday, May 10, at the Coffee House in Milwaukee. To whet your appetite a little, here are the lyrics to one of the new songs I'll be playing tomorrow:
Parking Lot Lights
© Jay Bullock 2007

I’m standing in the parking lot lights
Of a brand new Ikea
Somewhere between the 60 foot Jesus
And the Creation Museum
This used to be fields where we’d lay
And watch the stars go by
But those stars are gone gone gone
Gone into the lights

They built a new interstate ramp
To build these chains around
And they’re building new wings on every
Warehouse church in town
And the woods behind my parents’ house
Became houses twice that size
The woods are gone gone gone
Gone into the lights

The little one-room church
I grew up going to
Has given up its land to the road
To make more lanes than two
And they straightened out the curve
Where my daddy nearly died
Now it’s gone gone gone
Gone into the lights

The fountains in the business parks can run a city dry
There’s not a single sidewalk anywhere in sight
The valleys are full of condos, the hills are flatter now
Give the people what they want, it doesn’t matter how

I’m standing in the parking lot lights
Of someplace I don’t know
Where the people worship size
And the people worship roads
The people don’t even notice
Just get in their cars and drive
They’re gone gone gone
Gone into the lights
The 60-foot Jesus, by the way, is quite real.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

McAdams, Maher, Miller, McCain, and manipulating Catholicism

by folkbum

Well, as John McAdams continues his crusade--and I use that word on purpose--against Bill Maher, it's important to consider it in a larger context. Several larger contexts, actually. One is provided by Waukesha Freeman columnist Tim Schilke:
Objections raised by Milwaukee’'s whiny fringe to Maher’'s controversial opinions focused on his criticism of various Christian religions. Admittedly, Maher is known to point out from time to time that some Catholic priests molest children, which is of course a horribly true thing to point out. And as a regular viewer of his HBO television show, "Real Time with Bill Maher," I can confirm that his commentary on religion is fair and balanced across all religions. Maher'’s views stand in contrast to comedian Dennis Miller, who will also be sponsored by American at the Riverside Theater later this year. Miller'’s criticism of religion seems to begin and end with Islam, which is, of course, acceptable religious bigotry to American and the local overly sensitive crowd. [. . .]

Imagine the conservative uproar if a handful of left-leaning activists succeeded in pressuring American to cancel its sponsorship of Dennis Miller’'s show, due to his bigoted view of the Muslim religion? Or, even due to his newfound conservative views related to the war in Iraq? How would American justify appeasing one group of fringe voices while ignoring another group? Not that I'’m suggesting anyone should put American in such an impossible position. I would never do such a thing.

Or, perhaps American could just use the same logic that it used regarding Bill Maher. When Miller appeared on "The O’Reilly Factor" to discuss the pope’'s recent visit to America, he said, "Now, listen, I have my qualms with the Catholic Church in the last few years. Last time I went to confession I said, ‘You first.’" Funny, isn’'t it? Not to Catholics, who would probably demand a boycott of American for sponsoring Miller, if only he weren’'t also a loyal Bush backer.
Read, as they say, the whole thing. It's important to remember that McAdams here is clearly going after Bill Maher because of Maher's politics, not out of some sense of obligation to protect religion, or even to protect Catholicism. And it's certainly not to protect "Christians"--Bill Maher, as it turns out, is one himself.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon also serendipitously is talking about this this week. He cites regular Catholic-defender Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review; K-Lo is stunned that Catholic nuns would be trying to vote for Democrats. After reminding readers that support for George W. Bush's Iraq policy is far less true to the Catholic spirit of preserving life than just about anything else these days, Greenwald writes,
This is what tawdry religious manipulators like Lopez have been doing for years--selectively accepting slivers of moral dogma and religious institutions purely for political gain, while advocating policies that could not be more opposed to that dogma and those institutions.

That's how many of the right-wing ideologues who are responsible for this, and want much more of it--such as Lopez -- can continue to parade around as faithful Catholics righteously devoted to the sanctity of "innocent human life," even as they wage war against the Church's explicit teachings and, by doing so, continue to obliterate more "innocent human life" than virtually any other political faction in the world.

In our political discourse, that's how warped the concept of "moral issues" has become. As McCain supporter Gary Bauer (about whom McCain recently said: "I am honored to have Gary Bauer's support, and his advice and counsel will be critical as we continue to bring our Party together for victory in November") once put it: a Vermont court's ruling on same-sex marriages "was in some ways worse than terrorism." Somehow, the policies of ours which result in the greatest obliteration of innocent human life--or its complete degradation--are totally drained of any moral component. And the entire playing field of "moral issues" is thus ceded to religious hucksters like Lopez and her political comrades as they openly support the most morally grotesque, and irreligious, policies imaginable.
I've been frustrated in my other recent on-going argument (about Barack Obama and his growing support among voters who were supposed to be "running away from him in droves"), but haven't yet written about, exactly this sort of thing. In comments to my post yesterday, Brian Fraley kept trying to backpedal away from his mistruths while adding this: "[T]he Obama folks are refocusing their message to connect with the values voters." James Wigderson, the other "professional," devoted a whole column to the notion that those supporting Clinton, as opposed to Obama, are "values voters." (To his credit, Wigderson does question the sincerity of both Clinton's and McCain's "values.") The implication from both is that somehow the nearly 17 million Americans who have cast their lot with Obama lack values, are not part of the moral center of the nation. That's ridiculous and massively offensive, and it is clearly designed, whether from Fraley or Wigderson or any nation pundit like Lopez, to lay the groundwork for November.

Have no doubt: This is all politics, this is all about November, even Bill Maher. The Maher affair is all a variation on the "values voters" theme, as demonstrated repeatedly by McAdams's taking offense on behalf of all of "us Christians."

As I responded to McAdams in the comments of the original post--a response he ignored, but whatever--my original Maher post veered into completely different territory because it is impossible to discuss intelligently what's going on in the anti-Maher crusade without context. It's a context that excuses people who speak against the Catholic church, like Dennis Miller, if they are suffuciently Republican. It's a context that excuses candidates for associating with anti-Catholic prople if those candidates are Republican. (Recall that Catholics issued an edict that anti-war Catholic John Kerry should be denied Communion because of his pro-choice stance, something celebrated by pro-war Republicans everywhere. However, serial adulterer pro-choice, pro-war Republican Rudy Giuliani took communion at a mass celebrated by the pope last month.) It's a context that excuses religious bigotry when that bigotry is perpetrated against Islam by Republicans. It's a context that calls Barack Obama elitist but not Republican John McCain and his eight houses and private jet rides. It's a context that celebrates "free speech" by those who toe the (Republican, pro-war) party line and seeks to squelch speech by opponents.

Make no mistake: The abuse and manipulation of religion in presidential politics has been around at least as long as I have been alive. But that doesn't make it any less right, any less offensive, or any less excusable when someone like John McAdams or Kathryn Jean Lopez or George W. Bush engages in it.

My fervent hope is that in this election, finally, with Republicans and the pro-war fatalist generally despised and distrusted, we can finally expose the "values voters" fraud for what it is.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Smell the Sizzle -- Senate Grills EPA Official

By Keith Schmitz

One of the legacies of the Bush Administration has been a total disrespect for science. As we all know, the facts have a liberal bias.

Tonight on C-Span viewers watched the Democratic half of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee query George Gray, EPA Research & Development Assistant Administration about the administration's policy towards scientists and science at the EPA, and its shortcomings in both environmental and people protection.

Fortunately for him the GOP members lovingly fed him marshmallows.

This hapless man had to defend:

  • The rejection by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson of 1,700 peer-reviewed scientific studies and the unanimous recommendations of its own advisory committees when he set the new ozone standard.

  • The forced resignation of EPA regional administrator Mary Gade, who had been investigating dioxin contamination in Michigan by Dow Chemical.

  • Closed meetings with the White House Office of Management and Budget and other government agencies when the EPA considers the risks from toxic chemicals. Democratic senators said the closed meetings were an opportunity for interference from government officials and industry groups.

  • And the most disturbing --The Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group, surveyed some 5,500 EPA scientists last year and found the agency was "under siege from political pressures," Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist with the group, told the Senate panel. She said 1,586 scientists completed the surveys, and 889 of them said they'd experienced at least one incident of political interference in the past five years.

Gee, maybe the next Democratic administration should appoint Jane Fonda Secretary of Defense.

Mutant Dandelion--UPDATED

by folkbum

[UPDATE: It could be nuclear!]

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure I'll take a lot of guff for the state of my yard (I don't really care; I'm not one of those "yard guys"), but I spotted this monster today:

 

I don't know how it got that way or what kind of damage it will do when it becomes sentient. But I thought you all would want to see it.

Where are the concern trolls "professionals" now?

by folkbum

Two weeks ago, after the Pennsylvania primary, the "professional" Brian Fraley wrote that it was all over for Barack Obama because "[b]lue collar white catholic swing voters, who may have been warming up to [Barack] Obama at one point, are running away from him in droves."

Let's look at Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, shall we?
White Obama Clinton
OH     34%    64%
PA     37%    63%
IN     40%    60%

Cath. Obama Clinton
OH     36%    63%
PA     30%    70%
IN     41%    59%

<$50k Obama Clinton
OH     42%    56%
PA     46%    54%
IN     50%    50%


Running away in droves my foot. And, no, Obama didn't win clear majorities in these categories; but the predicted collapse didn't happen in PA and it didn't happen last night, either.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

by capper

A close friend of mine recently lost her mother. The onerous task of going through her mother's, and subsequently, her late father's, belongings has fallen upon her, in order to put the estate in order.

As she was going through their papers, she came across a newspaper clipping from April 18, 1988. Her parents liked to stay up on the then current politics, and were quite savvy about these things, especially on a local level. This clipping, which she shared with me, was a paid advertisement taken out by the late Mayor Henry Maier. Here is the article, with any misspellings mine, as that I have to transcribe it the old fashion way:

An open letter to Sig Gissler, Editor of the Milwaukee Journal:

Dear Sig:

Your column of Sunday, April 10, was historic. It represented the first time in my 28 years as Mayor that a Journal editor signed a column attacking me in his newspaper. None of that wishy-washy editorial "we".

As you can see, I'm so impressed I have decided to expand the audience for my response. The Sentinel's ads no doubt have a better readership than the Journal's op-ed page. And it seems to be the only way that one can get a timely response to the Journal.

I'm not going to respond to the gossipy bits in your column, nor such passe Chicago-style usages as "hizzoner" and "blankety blank" (which I thought went out with "The Front Page"), nor your distorted view of the reality of such things as the circus parade and my record of leadership. I'm concerned with a more serious matter.

You see, your column reflects what I believe has been the basic difference between my viewpoint and that of the Journal over the years. We both realize that city and suburb co-exist in the context of a greater metropolis, and must be concerned with the development f this region in which we live. But there are two ways of looking at the metropolis.

You can look at it, as I think the Journal does, from a suburban orientation which
distances itself from the city except as a work place and an entertainment center. This also includes seeing the city as a source of finger pointing headlines without the Journal offering workable solutions. If this orientation is coupled with an indulgent bent, it also professes an interest in social concerns as perhaps a balm
to conscience.

But this is not the viewpoint of people who live in the city and with its problems. In addition to the largest concentration of poverty in the state, they city includes thousands of people who are barely making it. They also like the good things of life, but they greatly concerned about how you pay for them because it is more difficult for them to pay.

At the same time they do not wish to be looked upon as some kind of third world colony of the metropolis where missionaries from outside pontificate on how they ought to live.

The Journal has taken a position that the problem of the metropolis would more likely fade away if only mean old Henry Maier didn't "attack" the suburbs. Forget the fact that professional suburban interests have reacted like the landed gentry in the days of Robin Hood whenever I have made a proposal that would upset the status quo. (In one of our conversations which he apparently didn't tell you about, former Journal editor Richard Leonard told me that my problem was that I was trying to change the status quo and "it is very difficult to change the status quo.")

It is my belief that the issues deserved to be examined as issues rather than turned into another analysis of the personality of Henry Maier (as was again the case in your column).

I am sure you will be pleased to know that I was published as long ago as 1975 on "Conflict in Metropolitan Areas" in the distinguished Annals of American Political Science. There you would have found many of the issues spelled out. In that paper I said, as I have said many times in the past, that I have nothing against the people of the suburbs; many of them are the same people who once lived in the central city. I wrote, "The people of the metropolitan area are not so much at fault as
is the system which generates conflict."

In that paper I repeated proposals I have made for a four-county metropolitan transportation authority; regional industrial recruiting and sharing of new tax base coupled with a regional sharing of low-income housing; a metropolitan social district to take responsibility for financing and meeting social problems; and a metropolitan
school district.

I did not consider any of these proposals as "attacks" on the suburbs, but rather as changes int he system to benefit both the central city and the other municipalities of the metropolis.

I still do today.

Well, Sig, you concluded your piece by saying you bear no grudge and wishing me luck.

I bear no grudge either. So good luck, Sig,

Sincerely,

Henry W. Maier

Mayor
Well, it's twenty years later and the Journal has since merged with the Sentinel, but is still pandering more and more to the suburbs. And now we see that there are still suggestions of dissolving the county government in favor of regional approaches.

Like I said in the title, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

More Anti-Catholic Bigotry

By Keith Schmitz

Go to it John McAdams:

From the AP
About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn’t have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary’s Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn’t get one but came to the precinct anyway.

“One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, ‘I don’t want to go do that,’” Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren’t given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back in the 10-day time frame allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. “You have to remember that some of these ladies don’t walk well. They’re in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts.”

Nonetheless, she said, the convent will make a “very concerted effort” to get proper identification for the nuns in time for the general election. “We’re going to take from now until November to get them out and get this done. You can’t do this like school kids on a bus,” she said. “I wish we could.”
Right off the bat probably more people inconvenienced than the number of illegal voters in Indiana.

Further Adventures in Cognitive Dissonance

by folkbum

The photo of Miley Cyrus accompanying a magazine profile is staged with too much shoulder: How dare that photographer Annie Liebovitz compose such an image!

The photo of William Ayers accompanying a magazine profile is staged with an American flag on the ground: How dare that radical hippie Ayers treat a flag that way!

What a glorious day to be alive.

Monday, May 05, 2008

American TV conned by whiny hypocrite

by folkbum

iT has the gory details. It seems John McAdams--who finds anti-religious speech offensive only when he disagrees with the speaker's politics--has bullied American TV into pulling their sponsorship of a concert appearance by Bill Maher. See my earlier post about it.

Lucky for us, McAdams has done the hard work of finding the contact information for the local retailer: Wyn Becker and Stephen DeShong at the corporate headquarters in Madison at (608) 271 1000. You can email them from this page.

What American needs to know is that it's been had by someone willing to manufacture outrage against people whose politics he finds distasteful. McAdams approvingly links to the blogger who calls Latinos "chattering chihuahuas" and Islam the "Religion of Piece (of Arm, of Leg, of Torso)." McAdams approvingly links to the blogger who said the reason women get raped in the military is because they're there. McAdams applauds organizations who bring anti-Muslim speakers like David Horowitz and Walid Shoebat to speak.

But slap your logo next to someone who disapproves of Bush-McCain politics? That's a logo too far.

Send your email or make your phone calls to let American know how disappointed you are that they caved to a vocal minority of hypocrites. Then meet me at Colder's.

Selective Outrage on Display. As Usual.

by folkbum

Nothing so amuses me as watching the molehills of everyday life become mountains of self-righteous outrage on Wisconsin's right. Usually, the indignation dies a quiet death, because in righty space, no one can hear you scream, thank jebus.

Other times, real people get hurt, physically or financially, because some nut or another gets his Hanes in a bunch over something that, left alone, would have hurt no one at all.

The latest is the news that comedian Bill Maher will be in town, sponsored in part by WKLH radio and American TV. Because Maher dislikes religion--he's got animosity for all religions, in equal measure, as it turns out, not mere "anti-Christian bigotry"--some righties are leading a charge against the sponsors. Mike Plaisted and the Illusory Tenant have a good discussion going about just how ridiculous it is.

But I will ask, as is my wont in these situations (I even have a rule named after me just for this!), why Maher is subject to a standard from righty bloggers that others are not.

John McAdams, the Marquette professor (chair of the Department of Outrage, I believe) who is leading the Maher reaction, has a whole category of posts tagged with "free speech" (a tag missing from his Maher posts!) that include things like praise for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for bringing noted anti-Muslim speakers Walid Shoebat and David Horowitz to campus (flashback: David Horowitz hates me!). The bigoted (by the Maher standard) messages of Shoebat and Horowitz are sponsored at UWM by your tax dollars and mine, which to me suggests that they might be afforded greater scrutiny than those sponsored by the commercial enterprises like American TV. (I tend to believe that American and WKLH know the market well enough to make decisions that benefit them financially. They know that Bill Maher is going to make them more money than would be lost from the sad protests mounted by Milwaukee's Perpetually Offended. It's all a part of the belief that the free market knows what's best for itself. If McAdams wants to dispute that, he's welcome to.)

Yet the anti-Muslim speakers get a pass and the anti-Muslim sponsors get kudos because the targeted religion is not McAdams's Catholicism, but Islam. (One wonders if Maher had been booked to play UWM instead of the Riverside whether McAdams would have praised UWM for "bringing controversial speakers to that campus" or still have launched this little jihad.)

And then there's the case of bigots on the blogroll. McAdams, just to the right of the space where he denounces Maher's supposed anti-Christian commentary, permanently links to a blogger who regularly calls Islam the "Religion of Piece (of Arm, of Leg, of Torso)" and mocks celebrants of sacred holidays like "Ramalamadingdong." If anti-religion is the test, McAdams's links fail, miserably.

So it seems to me there's a bit of beam in McAdams's own eye that needs to be addressed before he can reasonably complain about the mote at American TV.

--

This is the nut, by the way, of the Wright-Hagee--and I would add Rod Parsley to Hagee--controversy that has been all bubbly here on the blog lately. Liberals are held to standards by the right and by the media that conservatives are not. Barack Obama and John McCain are not being treated equally at all. And don't give me that "Obama knew Wright for 20 years" crap--McCain, knowing Hagee's and Parsley's views, actively sought their blessing and their spiritual advice, and he continues to relish the endorsement of those two clear bigots without facing any media scrutiny.

The McCain camp knows exactly what they are doing with this, too: They know that the John McAdamses of the world will vote for McCain regardless of what anti-Catholic horse they hitch the "Straight" Talk wagon to (as far as I can tell, McAdams has not written a single word about Hagee, and neither has Patrick Dorwin, whose BadgerBlogger is helping to attack American TV). However, McCain's people know that some voters in key states like Ohio and Florida will veer to a third party or just stay home if they don't hear the dog whistles from Hagee and Parsley. It's a calculated pander, like Hillary Clinton's insistence on rolling back the federal gas tax--it's a stupid idea but apparently it polls well in Indiana. Clinton is willing to take an image hit among people who will vote for her over McCain anyway in order to score a few thousand votes in the tight Indiana primary tomorrow.

However, in keeping with the theme, Clinton is getting nailed for this pander while McCain keeps getting a pass. See also the "McCain Flag Lapel Pin Watch." Or the "McCain's hiding assets" watch. Or the "McCain's got lobbyists running his anti-lobbyist campaign" watch. Or the "McCain's lying about Democrats and health care" watch. And so on.

I do not expect the media to turn around and apply the same level of scrutiny to McCain as to Obama and Clinton any more than I expect John McAdams or Patrick Dorwin to chastise the vulgar anti-Muslim bigots on their blogrolls the way they have American TV. But as long as I have this small microphone, I will never let them forget that they are hypocrites.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

by capper

Today's paper has an article about the Public Policy Forum issuing a report that states that the Milwaukee County Transit System is in dire straits, and something needs to be done, and done now. From the article (emphasis mine):
A $10-a-car countywide vehicle registration fee could be one of the best options for keeping the financially troubled Milwaukee County Transit System intact, the Public Policy Forum says in a report to be released Monday.

But the vehicle fee, also known as a "wheel tax," would be only a short-term measure to hold the bus system together until state and local officials can agree on a longer-term solution, such as a local sales tax, local gas tax or major increase in state funding, the nonpartisan research organization says.

And if county officials don't pursue any of those options and keep patching transit budget holes one year at a time, they soon will be forced to eliminate all Freeway Flyer routes and nearly all night, weekend and suburban service, the report warns. That would leave "a transit system that is a shell of its former self," the report says.

Such service cuts could slice into the regional economy because 75% of bus riders have few if any other transportation options, 52% don't even have driver's licenses and 43% ride buses to work, the report adds.

I've said before that I know Rob Henken and admire the work he did when he was with Milwaukee County. He is very intelligent and knows his way around a spreadsheet. He has also save Scott Walker's bacon from the fire on more than one occasion. That is why I hope that people will take what he is saying seriously.

What is even scarier is that Walker knows how good Henken is, but still isn't listening:
County Executive Scott Walker said he was studying options that would be "more rapid and more politically viable" than raising taxes.

In other words, he's hoping to keep slapping bandaids on the hemorrhaging wound he has created over the years, and that this would be enough to keep it from blowing up in his face until he can run for governor again. Yeah, right. And guess who gets to pay for the clean up of his mess?

Now, I'm not happy about the thought of a wheel tax. But the part I am not happy about is that this could have been avoided, and at a much less uncomfortable level. But Walker and his supporters wouldn't have any of it, and now we will all have to pay more for their obstinance.

Just don't say I didn't warn you. Because I did.

"The Banner Was the Least of It"

by bert
We have learned lately that you can't overflog a story. So let's let Juan Cole talk some too about the Mission Accomplished anniversary, even though Capper has also covered it.

Cole, the Mideast scholar at the University of Michigan, points out that the banner declaring the mission accomplished (which Bush's handlers were wimpily blaming on the ship's people . Doesn't anyone besides me remember Eddie Haskell?) was not the only problem that day. Cole revisits President Bush's aircraft carrier speech. Our president said five years ago that "our nation is more secure" and that "we destroyed the Taliban."

Cole also adds some comments in brackets to speech excerpts, as when Bush mentions Al Qaida:
"The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of Al Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding. [There was no operational connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. None. And the US occupation of Iraq gave al-Qaeda a new lease on life ]."
There's more, all of it helpful. And it is helpful because as we continue to reap this whirlwind in Iraq, it helps to realize how much --uh, let's say-- fertilizer was used when we sowed the wind.

Rev. John Hagee Is a Bigoted Whack Whose Endorsement McCain Sought and Received


How can a complete whack like the Rev. John Hagee whose endorsement of and political relationship with John McCain are a matter of public record not dominate the airwaves?

The apocalyptic-minded and anti-Catholic Rev. John Hagee was pursued by John McCain, and Hagee ultimately endorsed McCain in late February when they appeared together in San Antonio. (picture at right)

Hagee is a bigoted nut, but also a major Republican political player whose specific foreign policy prescriptions are seen by him as preparing the way for the Second Coming, and are identical to the controversial policy positions taken by McCain on Iran and Iraq, now.

Turns out that Hagee, of the let’s-bomb-Iran corner of the rightwing, is also a prominent signer of the Forgotten American Coalition's statement proclaiming that we need to stay in Iraq and that the “… Iraq War must be seen in the broader context of Islamo-fascism's war on America and Western Civilization. It is one front in a global conflict fought from Europe and the Middle East to Africa, the Balkans, the Indian Subcontinent and, finally, to the streets of our cities. ...”

If those words sound familiar, it’s because McCain had been repeating them in substance in his stump speech for months.

What has not been repeated for months is Hagee's venom coming from the Founder and National Chairman of the religious right's Christians United for Israel.

As Frank Rich writes this morning of Hagee:

Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is 'the Great Whore,' Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking 'the blood of the Jewish people.' That’s because the Great Whore represents 'the Roman Church,' which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Have a look at this video and you'll get the picture; I bet former State Senator Tom Reynolds is even blushing.



Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stimulus Check Open Thread

by folkbum

How'd you spend your dough? I haven't even gotten my check yet, but I already spent it--on the deductible to get my Scion back. But it seems good as new.

You could spend $5.00 of your stimulus check a week from tonight down at the Coffee House, at the annual Portage Road Songwriters Guild New Song Showcase. I will be there, as well as five other people who might actually be worth your time and money.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Introducing The New Five Dollar Bill

by capper

Taking a page from the US Postal Service and their commemorative stamps, the US Treasury Department revealed their new commemorative five dollar bill, honoring Mission Accomplished Day:


But like with the stamps, the Treasury Department advises people to use it quickly, as that it might not be good for long, and may need supplementary bills.