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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Far Out Pictures

by capper

I realize that this probably has been around the internet a few billion times, but I just got it today and thought it was really stunning. Here are a series of pictures taken from one of the Endeavor's space missions. I was just struck by the brilliance and sharpness of the pictures.

Betcha We Don't Hear About This From Certain People

by capper

When a private printing company had people's Social Security numbers printed on the front of state mailings, the right was screaming murder and calling for people's heads, and rightfully so.

I wonder if we will hear the same kind of calls for action now that a private insurance company released the personal information for more than 100,000 people?

Hillary Channels Bill

We Are Only As Good As Our Sources

Buckley was before my time, but his passing has led me to review some of his commentary.   He was as wrong as Limbaugh, but at least he had class and respect for his debate partners.  The political environment in which I became aware featured no one as eloquent.  I was never well acquainted with his commentary, but I nostalgically miss it.

The media I grew up with has far less to do with substance and everything to do with style.  "News" outlets are far more concerned with the latest gotcha headline than they are with covering issues that matter.  How can we expect a competent political system if we don't demand a competent and responsible media to inform the voters?

You can sense that all sides are fed up with it, but no one speaks out against it until a good shot of gotcha smacks them in the face.  Clinton has a legitimate grievance against the glowing coverage her opponent has received, but she has been an eager participant in the media's nonsense.    I recently thought the media would pounce all over the hypocrisy of Clinton repeating the ridiculous charges of plagiarism leveled at Obama during the Texas debate, then moments later play off Clinton's and Edwards comments as her own.  If we have to play the gotcha game we should at least evenly apply the rules.

Journal Sentinel Still Behind On Stories

by capper

In today's JSOnline Newswatch, they have this little blurb:
Have county transit changes affected you?

How have you been affected by Milwaukee County Transit System fare increases and service cuts? Please contact Journal Sentinel reporter Larry Sandler at to let him know, and please include your name and a telephone number where you can be reached.

I'm sure that it's not Mr. Sandler's fault that this story is so slow in the making for MSJ, but they are several months late, just like they were on the pension scandal. Actually, both of them.

I would kindly suggest that Mr. Sandler take advantage of Gretchen Schuldt's hard work as his launching point.

Hillary Clinton Borrows Edwards Finishing Line

Taylor vs. Walker: BlogTalkRadio Debate

by capper

There was a debate Tuesday between state Senator Lena Taylor and County Executive Scott Walker, via BlogTalkRadio. The debate was hosted by Kyle Duerstein and he has it up on PantherTalkLive. Be advised, it is almost two hours long.

Listen to it without any of the heavy editing by Sykes, or any of the right wing echo chamber. And to be fair, I will not influence you with my astute observations and keen insights in this post. However, the comment thread, if one forms, is fair game.

There is also a blurb about it at JSOnline.

This is all via the Thoughtful Conservative. Many thanks, TC.

John McCain, Fear and Lying

via MAL Contends

Update: McCain buddy Bush picks up the lying talking point.
BUSH: It's an interesting comment. 'If Al Qaida is securing an Al Qaida base'?Yes, well, that's exactly what they've been trying to do for the past four years. That's — their stated intention was to create enough chaos and disorder to establish a base from which to either launch attacks or spread a caliphate.

From the inception of the Bush presidency which effectively began on September 12, 2001, the war paradigm and fear have been its trademarks.

In policy and politics, Bush and neocons have transformed this country into a permanent culture of fear while claiming to be the sole instrument to provide security.John McCain has picked up the torch, and is now lying, howler after howler, on the campaign trail with impunity.

The question is: Will the media that credulously reported the weapons-of-mass-destruction and al-Qaeda/Saddam lies [“allowed to stand unchallenged,” it was later reported with regret] continue to let John McCain lie with the newest iteration of the al-Qaeda will strike us from Iraq fable?“(Al-Qaeda in Iraq) if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base. They’d be taking a country, and I’m not going to allow that to happen,” John McCain tells us.Ludicrous.

As Juan Cole writes:

The allegation that (McCain) makes about there being ‘al-Qaeda in Iraq' that could well take over the country is part lie and part insanity. ... The idea that this small minority of violent Muslim fundamentalists could take over Iraq is completely crazy. They haven't even been able to keep their toehold in Baghdad-- the Sunnis have been largely ethnically cleansed from the capital by Shiite militias.

In GOP political rhetoric, al Qaeda has become inclusively the Islamofascists—the coming caliphate composed of everyone in Iraq and the Middle East who raises a gun or thought against foreign invaders, though Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (and assorted other authoritarian states) remain our steadfast, democratic friends.

And McCain is taking his fear show on the road as he looks to the general election, blasting Barack Obama for answering Tim Russert’s hypothetical question about reinvading Iraq should America withdraw in the future.

Asked Russert: ". . . do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn, with sizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civil war?"

Obama: . . . Now, I always reserve the right for the president -- as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad.

That’s just too much for McCain.

“Al Qaeda is there now,” Mr. McCain said today in Houston, with a tone of belittlement in his voice. “So to state that somehow if Al Qaeda were there that he would consider going back militarily is really a remarkable comment, and I don’t think displays an understanding of the size of the threat and what’s at stake in Iraq.” (Bosman, NYT)

But as Juan Cole points out: “Note that Obama was simply responding to Russert's hypothetical, which assumed that the US was already out of Iraq but that in the aftermath, there was ‘insurrection’ or ‘civil war.’ The world that Russert imagined was presumably one in which Iraq had firmed up enough for the US to get out ... "

There are two blatant lies that McCain peddling:

- That Al Qaeda, such as is, can take over Iraq and pose a danger to the United States

- McCain's failure to acknowledge that Obama’s statement to which McCain has now spent two days misrepresenting was based on Russert’s hypothetical question

There is nothing “remarkable” about Obama’s comment, except in the disingenuous manner that McCain, Mr. straight talker, is presenting it.

But McCain’s blatant lying is remarkable and ought to be challenged by someone besides Juan Cole.

John McCain’s character, specifically his willingness to lie, is on display, and every journalist ought to be reporting on what is happening.

Instead, the newest media narrative, as I write, is: Can Obama withstand this McCain attack, and is he seasoned enough on military and foreign policy?

Let's hope that the media will heed the lesson of its admitted failure before the Iraq invasion.

From The Times and Iraq (New York Times, May 26, 2004):"We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves."

Good idea.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Rorschach Reports

by folkbum

The last couple of days have seen two "big" reports released that at the same time tell us nothing we didn't already know and provide all sides with new stores of ammunition. I doubt anyone's mind changed about anything as they read these reports; their reactions almost certainly reflect what they already believe rather than anything about the reports themselves. They become mirrors, or Rorschach tests--what people say about the reports tells us more about those commenting than about the content of the reports.

The first is the report out on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, or the Voucher Program, as it's usually called. The report notes that comparable samples of students from the Milwaukee Public Schools and from voucher schools perform about the same. There's one reaction from people who dislike the voucher program, such as this conservative MPS teacher who, like me, has seen the effects of these schools on MPS first-hand. He writes,
So the kids are not doing better, but you are hurting the big schools on a number of factors. Bigger schools have more money and therefore have more programs and more opportunity. You have all these kids going to small schools all over Milwaukee with the bare minimum. And obviously they are not learning more. Cut cut cut cut cut is what happens all over MPS, so kids can leave and parents can pretend their kids are getting a better education.
On the other hand, you get a predictable reaction from people who support the voucher program; Owen Robinson comments, "So… same performance for a fraction of the cost of MPS. Sign me up." (We've talked before about how specious the doing-more-with-less argument is.)

A third predictable reaction was Mayor Tom Barrett's jumping all over the reports notes about the funding flaw. Barrett claims the flaw costs Milwaukee taxpayers $47 million extra this year. I think that number may be high; apparently, the mayor is basing the figure on the researcher's belief that perhaps 90% of the students currently taking a voucher would be in MPS without the program. That number seems high to me based on recent data from the Public Policy Forum. I wrote about the 2006-2007 PPF report here, and noted that almost 60% of the new voucher users that year were not new to the schools the attended; i.e., they were students who would be in private schools regardless of voucher availability. The 2007-2008 report confirms this trend, noting that this year 44% of new voucher students were already enrolled in voucher schools before joining the program. (I meant to write more about this when the PPF report came out earlier this month, but I did not; you can hear an enlightening interview with Anneliese Dickman of the PPF on "Lake Effect.") Barrett still has a point; whether Milwaukeeans are being screwed out of $47 million or $24 million, we're still getting screwed.

The second report was the long-awaited Milwaukee Police Department investigation into the 2004 election in Milwaukee and allegations of "vote fraud." The report confirms what everybody already knew--the Milwaukee Election Commission in 2004 dropped a massive turd of a mess. Sloppy record keeping and incompetent (or willfully blind-eye-turning) poll records cast doubt over the whole affair and likely allowed a few bad seeds--felons or out-of-state ACORN volunteers--to cast votes illegally. The number of bad votes that could have been prevented by a photo ID law seems minimal, and the report reaffirms US Attorney Steven Biskupic's previous assertion that there were no organized attempts at fraud.

But a quick tour around the blogs this morning will show you, again, that those commenting have had their previously-held views firmly reinforced by the release of this report. Liberals and liberals like Bill Christofferson and the Brawler point out--rightly so, I think (I'm not above being a part of the Rorschach crowd)--that requiring an ID at the polls would solve virtually none of the problems in the report and likely cause more disenfranchisement than bad votes it would prevent. Conservatives see justification for such draconian measures.

To an extent, I think these reports encourage the Rorschach response in their refusal or inability to take any kind of a firm stand. The voucher report is very cautious about how this is the first year and we can't make any judgments yet. The voting report does nothing but identify what we already knew about the Election Commission three years ago--and much of that has changed since with the installation of a new boss and a crackdown on sloppiness. At least Biskupic took a stand on vote fraud, saying in the face of right-wing pressure that there was no organized fraud--but, then again, that almost got him fired. Maybe there's something to that . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Can We Have A Little HIPAA Over Here? Revisited

by capper

A couple of weeks ago, I had already pointed out how Walker and his administration doesn't only ignore state law, but has a high disregard for federal laws as well. Being the astute observer that I am, I wrote (emphasis mine, now):
It appears that Walker's acting director of the Department of Administration, didn't bother checking the law, or running this past the Clerk of Circuit Courts, John Barrett. Instead, she just went ahead and released this information. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Walker is mum on the subject.
Chris Kliesmet, spokesman for CRG, wrote a letter to the editor at MSJ, trying to foist the blame on John Barrett. In this morning's paper, Mr. Barrett answers those accusations, in his own letter to the editor:
Chris Kliesmet, spokesman for Citizens for Responsible Government, recently criticized my concern over the release of confidential information in a letter ("Clerk to blame for mishandling release," Feb. 21).

Evidently in his world, responsible government does not expose mistakes made by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's administration. What is mystifying is why CRG is so angry about transparency in government - a concept it claims to stand for. Transparency should include all government and not just the party one favors.

What Kliesmet's letter didn't say was that the Walker administration had input and released this data. It violated "the fundamental rule of secure record keeping that demands public and private information be kept separate." This whole debacle has cost the taxpayers money. County employees had to scour 188,000 invoices to remove confidential information. I hope CRG will pay the taxpayers back for this cost.

I do not believe confidential information should be made public. Not surprisingly, the law agrees with me. I was not consulted about the release of confidential information. I did not grant and will not grant anyone the authority to publish such information. It was only when the Journal Sentinel exposed the problem that the data was finally removed. I call that service.

John Barrett
Clerk of Circuit Court/Register in Probate,
Milwaukee County
The question that remains is: Does this fall under Safety (violating people's privacy), Affordability (sticking taxpayers with the bill to correct yet another one of his blunders) or Pride (not following the law)?

Weak Arguments

Walker and the usual suspects from the right are starting to pour it on in his efforts to win the re-election bid he promised he would go after.

So far, their efforts have been rather feeble.

They try to argue about Senator Taylor's competence, highlighting a YouTube video lifted off of Eye on Wisconsin WisconsinEye, in which, during a moment of frustration, she states that she is "utterly confused." Of course, these are the same people that had no issue at all of Bush's ability to speak in public, which I highlight in this post at my other home away from home. That makes that point moot.

Next, they try to build up Walker with some silly video in which Walker is touting his ill-conceived plan to gut the Parks Department. Ken Mobile cites Mark Maley of the Parks People who highlights how dumb this idea is:
- Seasonal employees require copious hours of training before they are effective. In fact, nearly all of their training is currently conducted by a full-time Park Maintenance Worker, the same position that is proposed to be cut. The responsibility for competent training will fall to a greatly reduced force of full-time employees who will be asked to train an even higher number of these transitional employees. This is a recipe for further dysfunction.

- These temporary staffers require much more supervision than dedicated full-time staffers. In keeping with the continual reduction in field staff, the supervisory ranks are at an all-time low and struggle to keep a watchful eye on their charges while keeping up with their myriad other duties. A good work force is one that has a stake in providing a quality product while keeping on task. With an even greater dependence on a transitional workforce that has no real stake in the operation, creating that “buy-in” is a harder sell and keeping them on task over the long term is a wish.

- Because of low wages and lack of benefits a high percent of seasonal employees are college and high school students who are not available during the school year. This is especially problematic during the early- to late-fall period when park personnel have the task of mending the hundreds of athletic fields that were tortured during the main sporting season. Local sports enthusiasts have already taken note that their “fields of dreams” have turned into nightmares over the last number of years due to lack of maintenance. This bad dream will only be exacerbated by this further reduction of available, competent full-time staffers.

Then we have the usual mantra of she's gonna raise our taxes. Yawn. If one would look at the JSOnline bit on today's debate, they would have read this (emphasis mine):
After the forum, Taylor said she would look first at eliminating inefficiencies and mismanagement in county government as a way to come up with money for transit. She'll consider a sales tax later, in the context of a larger discussion about all county needs, Taylor said.

Of course, don't forget who already debunked that bit of humdrum weeks ago. Thank you very much.

What Walker's supporters don't mention is that Walker has already acknowledged that there is a need to increase taxes to save the parks. He does it every time he and the handful of friends he has left in Madison try to get the parks district off the ground. Nor do any of them ever mention the fact that Walker has yet to have a budget that didn't blow up by midyear, if not sooner.

I did find irony in the news tonight, that showed a clip of Walker speaking of the importance of education. I hope he was sincere in his statements, because he sure had shown that in his own academic career. I recognize that losing an election for student president, even if the loss was a landslide decision favoring a write-in candidate, Walker could be upset and even embarrassed. But to quit college over that doesn't show a lot in the way of personal fortitude.

The thing that bothers me the most is how low this race has already gotten, when I saw that someone had used a racial slur against Senator Taylor. I will not name or link to the site, as it is a respected conservative site, and I respect the proprietor of that site. But as disappointing that there are still such ignorant people out there, I am just as disappointed, if not more so, that the proprietor didn't even admonish the commenter for their vulgarity.

And, of course, I would be remiss, if I did not encourage you to show your support for Senator Taylor. You can help bring sanity back to Milwaukee County in many different ways. Please visit her website for more information.

Clinton's Hail Mary

via MAL Contends

Let's put tonight’s democratic presidential debate in football terms.

Hillary is down by 13 points, her team has the ball on her own 30-year-line with four minutes to go in the fourth, having displayed no ground game and an inconsistent passing attack.

Her opponents’ defensive cornerbacks are Lester Hayes and Mark Haynes (of Raiders fame), the pass rush is the 1985 Bears, and the linebackers are a bunch of LTs.

MSNBC bills the debate as Hillary’s Last Stand. The debate’s headline ought to read: Abandon hope, Hillary, if ye enters here.

It would take a hail Mary pass, an immaculate reception, a drive to end all drives, and Barack Obama's invoking the name of Satan for Hillary (the let's-trust-George W. Bush-to-do-the-right-thing-on-Iraq Hillary (Vote: Oct. 11, 2002)) to win this game.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Winter Of My Discontent

by capper

I usually enjoy the winter. The cold doesn't bother me and I only get annoyed with the snow when it hampers travel plans. But the last couple of years have really caused me to start rethinking my attitude towards winter.

Last year, on Valentine's Day, the wonderful and beautiful mrs. capper, on her way to work, hit a patch of black ice and lost control. She spun out and went down a steep hill, driver's side first, towards a small copse of trees. Fortunately, she didn't roll the car and it stopped snug up against a tree, instead of into it. She was shaken but not hurt, but the car was totaled. When I got to the scene of the accident, I literally became ill, because I saw how close I came to losing the love of my life. I've been on edge whenever she has to drive in winter weather since then.

Fast forward to this year. This past weekend, my bride and I went up to our home away from home, our place up north. It was the first time in three weeks that we got the chance to go, because of the weather, and we were both anxious to get back there. When we arrived, we found snow drifts that were four to five feet deep in places, not to mention the end of the drive where the plow placed another four foot tall wall of snow.

Even with the snow blower snapping two shearing pins, we managed to get all the snow cleared out of the drive. The next day we dug out the mailbox and I cleared the three feet of snow off the front porch. I figured I'd do the garage and the main roof Sunday morning. I obviously thought wrong.

Sunday morning, we heard a muffled "whoompf" and ran outside to find this.

That's the inside of what was our garage. To make it even worse, my Highlander was parked in the garage.

And to make sure I got the point, or maybe just to add insult to injury, the garage also took out "the Lambeauni," my Packer-orientated lawn tractor.

Then, as I was scurrying in and out of the garage trying to salvage things before it collapsed, I had a rafter fall on my head given me a slight cut and a large lump. Oh, I'm telling you, this is not going down as one of my better weekends.

The construction crews should be out tomorrow to try to peel the garage door out and hoist the roof enough to get my vehicle out, then we have to wait and see if it salvageable or not. The Lambeauni probably can be fixed, if we can get it out of there.

Everyone tells me that we should be grateful that no one was in the garage at the time, and no one got hurt. I know that they are right, and I am glad that we are OK. Things can be replaced, but people can't. But still, this sucks. Considering the amount of time that the garage sits empty, why did it have to pick one of the rare occasions by car was inside of it before collapsing?

And no, I wasn't doing this to make Bill feel better, and I am not going to blame Walker.

UPDATE: They got the car out of the garage, and to the body shop. It still runs, but the amount of damage vs. the worth of the vehicle makes it still iffy whether or not they decide to total the car.

Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts.

Be very, very quiet

by folkbum

At least that's my plan. There will be daylight sometime ahead, but I don't know when. The rest of the gang will keep you entertained, though, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clinton Rules -- McCain Edition

By Keith Schmitz

This week the New York Times committed the effrontery, the utter effrontery, of emitting a whiff of scandal over the possibility that GOP presumptive presidential nominee John McCain would be too cozy with lobbyists. The Times did however sexed it up with the hint that McCain was having an affair with one of the lobbyists.

But the result of The Times releasing the article unleashed the predictable firestorm from not only the right wing blogs but also the mainstream media, particularly Chris Matthews on Hardball, who has an almost embarrassing man-crush on McCain.

The incident prompts Media Matters to lay out the contrasting coverage afforded the Clintons by the press.

I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton but the unfavoritism press attention given her and the President is glaringly obvious. The New York Times in particular led the pack, putting out the slightest hint of scandal during WhiteWater.

Take the case of Katherine Willey. When the widow leveled her charges of foundling against Bill Clinton she got full treatment on 60 Minutes and splashy coverage days afterward. Her story, it turned out to be bogus and so fake that Ken Starr's successor Robert Ray in his wrap up report hinted that she purgered herself and could have been charged. The only coverage that got was in the back pages of USA Today.

So for your edification, here are the Clinton rules as spelled out by Media Matters:

1) If any part of an alleged scandal turns out to be true, the media behaves as though the entire story is true.

2) Media parse every statement by progressives in response to controversy, looking for something to ridicule -- whether the ridicule is fair or not.

Think the so-called Kerry botched joke, which Charlie Sykes tried to ride for all it is worth (hard because it was worth nothing).

3) Media parse every statement by progressives in response to controversy, looking for something to ridicule -- whether the ridicule is fair or not.

That is pretty much the way the mainstream media delivers it. And yet the ingrates on the right continue to attack the press.

Fortunately some in the press are taking a fresh look at McCain's relations with lobbyists. Hope they won't be scared off from the job.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Liberal Media In Action

by capper

I just posted on the first debate between Senator Taylor and Walker. It was difficult to do this post. Not because the results weren't to be as expected, with Taylor winning, but because the local media did such a lousy job covering it.

First, they gave two different reports. There was the immediate JSOnline Newswatch report that was posted yesterday afternoon. Then there was the one that was heavily edited and put in this morning's paper. Go ahead and compare the two.

And while you're at it, count how many times they highlight Walker against how many times they mention Senator Taylor.

And to top it off, check out the last part of the edited version:
Both Walker and Taylor said they'd be advocates for education, another area not directly under the county's purview. Both said they were backers of school choice, though Taylor later qualified her stance. She said she favors requirements that choice teachers and administrators have state certification, a stand not shared with many choice proponents.

Some choice advocates have viewed Taylor as anti-choice, particularly for her lack of support for a plan last year to provide additional state funding to offset property taxes paid for the Milwaukee choice program.

Not only do they report on something that has absolutely nothing but then gets it wrong. With reporting like that, Senator Taylor will have to beat two opponents.

To help Senator Taylor get her message out, please go here and help anyway you can.

Taylor vs. Walker: The First Debate

by capper

Yesterday, State Senator Lena Taylor and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker had their first official debate. Unfortunately, I wasn't there, and the only information is from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (More about this in my next post.)

Senator Taylor pointed out that Walker has failed to work with other leaders, including the County Board, Mayor Tom Barrett, other regional leaders. Even more significantly, Walker willfully sabotaged any efforts to get more money to come to Milwaukee County during the last state budget talk, by putting his own political aspirations before the good of the County. (Not surprisingly, the county budget is already in critical condition and large cuts or other drastic measures will be needed in the near future. Walker is probably just hoping to make it past the election before the matter hits the fan.)

Senator Taylor also highlighted some of her accomplishments, including successfully passing budgets on a state level, bringing millions of dollars to Milwaukee County, effectively pulling Walker's butt out of a mess. Senator Taylor also pointed out that she would find better ways to improve the local economy, including helping people get back into the workforce.

Walker, who got by far, much more coverage, also got away with some, shall we say, inaccuracies. Walker said that he helped form groups studying transit, but fails to state how he has sabotaged those studies. He said that he has worked well with Halloway (who has a history of being less than ethical himself). Another one of his bragging points is the proposed move from the mental health complex to the old St. Michael's hospital. He fails to point out that this would be more expensive than doing the necessary work at the current facility. (This must be the affordability part of his plan.)

Walker said that he had also worked with local communities to train and equip paramedics. This must have been after the County Board overrode his veto of the whole County portion of this budget. He also boasts of going on a local trade mission to the Czech Republic. I can't wait to see this. What is the Czech phrase for "Putting lipstick on a pig.", anyway?

Walker's plan for the future includes the "new approaches" of slashing budgets and privatizing everything that he can, including the airport. That's an attitude that raises questions from even one of his biggest backers.

But the most telling part of who won the debate came in afterwards. Senator Taylor's campaign manager, John Zapfel, put out this statement right after the debate:

“Today, Lena Taylor outlined exactly why she is the best choice to lead Milwaukee County into the future. She has the relationships with the Governor and the State Legislature to fight for the needs of Milwaukee County in Madison, as she did when she provided the county with $3 million for the transit system in the recent budget. She has the ability to work with the Mayor, the board Chairman, and the County Board to get things done. And she has the experience necessary to be an effective Milwaukee County Executive.

“In contrast, Scott Walker has demonstrated an inability to work with public officials in both Madison and Milwaukee, opting instead to blame others for the lack of funding for Milwaukee County. He even failed to approach Senator Taylor this past budget cycle when she was on the Joint Finance Committee in the State Legislature, neglecting his duties as the county’s CEO.

“Milwaukee County residents need action and results, not excuses and scapegoats. Lena Taylor is the right choice for the county, and the voters will make their voices heard on April 1.”

Meanwhile, the MSJ article reports that Walker was doing a lot of mewling:

Speaking after the debate, Walker said that Democrats had made sure that Taylor got credit for sponsoring the $3 million transit budget amendment for Milwaukee County as a way to boost her county executive bid. The aid permitted the County Board to preserve bus routes that Walker had proposed cutting.

First point goes to Taylor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Debate Reminder

by capper

Just a friendly reminder that there will be a debate between Senator Lena Taylor and Scott Walker tomorrow, Thursday, February 21 at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Street. The debate is scheduled to run from 11:45 to 1:30 p.m.

The debate is co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Press Club and the Public Policy Forum and will be moderated by William Holahan, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Admission, which includes lunch and parking, is $40 for press club members and $50 for non-members.

Also, there apparently will be an blogtalkradio debate next Tuesday.

H/T The Thoughtful Conservative

A Bad Night for Bloggers?

by folkbum

Almost worse than writing prediction posts, and certainly worse than writing endorsement posts, is the dreaded morning-after post. Everybody else is gonna be all "winner!" this and "significance!" that and if I want to stand out and keep my reputation as original and thoughtful, I have to come up with something clever and otherwise un-beat-to-death on a morning like this one.

The pressure to make WisOpinion sometimes is enormous.

So here's my spin: Last night was a bad night for bloggers.

Now, a constant theme of mine is that blogs don't vote. I think the blogs play an important role in the public discourse, of course, and we are slowly weaseling our way into polite society. Nothing pleases me quite so much as seeing my blog on the first page of google results for some particular candidate or issue. But blog fervor does not, cannot, will not replace actual voters, who more often than not end up doing what they want anyway.

And last night was a case study of that in several ways.

For starters, two bloggers lost their primaries for Milwaukee County Board. Okay, technically Jason Haas isn't really blogging any more, and he didn't really try in his race, but he finished dead last of four in my district. Dan Cody, who does blog, also finished last--albeit much closer--in his race in the 15th Supervisory District.

Sam McGovern-Rowen, son-of-a-blogger, finished third in his race for alderman in a crowded field here in Milwaukee. (On the upside, both Dan and Sam got more votes in their races than Republican hero Rudy Giuliani did statewide--and almost as many as Republican savior Fred Thompson.)

The liberal side of the Cheddarsphere is not the only side that suffered last night. Conservative blogger enemy number one Michael McGee, Jr., took first in his primary from behind bars. (Not that I'm happy about that, either, but it's a particular blow to them and their complaints about the "alderthug.") All their plans to crossover and vote for Hillary Clinton to torpedo Barack Obama got them nothing but a total Republican turnout that was less than either Clinton's or Obama's vote totals individually. If I were Kathy Carpenter, the one blogger who survived the night, I'd be worried.

I'm sure that someone else, somewhere, is putting up a more interesting collection of pithy observations about last night's primary. The fact that some of the biggest coming contests--state supreme court, Milwaukee county Executive--lacked a primary kind of means there just weren't many fireworks to be had, and the to-do list doesn't really kick in until today: The real work starts in earnest now in both of those big races. Clinton needs to seriously consider suspending her campaign at this point. And bloggers need to keep rethinking their oft-inflated view of themselves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How Not To Make A Point

by capper

I have often expressed my concern about the possibility of Wisconsin passing a concealed carry law. Naturally, there are some squeaky wheels who sit in opposition to this position, and advocate for such a law, citing antecdotes.

In today's JSOnline Newswatch, there is another antecdotal story that confirms my postion:
A 76-year-old West Bend man was charged today with brandishing a shotgun at a city snow plow driver after apparently becoming angry that the plow struck his mailbox.

According to a criminal complaint filed today, Edward H. Haas, of West Bend, at about 4:45 p.m. on Monday followed the plow driver to the next block on Park Avenue and parked a minivan in front of the plow, blocking its path.

The plow driver said Haas ran up to the truck, yelled "You hit my mailbox four (expletive) times," went back to the van, pulled out a double-barrel shotgun, brought it up to his shoulder and aimed it at the driver, the complaint says.

When he saw Haas point the gun at him, the driver immediately stepped on the truck's accelerator and turned it away from Haas, according to the complaint.

West Bend police responded and went to Haas' home, but Haas refused to come to the door after police knocked. Officers entered the house and after a brief search found a shotgun in a basement storage room that fit the description given by the plow driver, according to the complaint.

Haas told police he did not aim the gun at the driver but waved a broom stick at him, the complaint says.

Haas was charged Tuesday with pointing a firearm at another person and disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon. Both are misdemeanors. If convicted on both counts, Haas could be imprisoned 18 months.

Haas has no prior criminal record, according to online court records. He could not be reached for comment.

This man has gone through 76 years without committing a crime. And he was wielding a shotgun, not a handgun. Yet he threatened someone's life and safety in a moment of rage.

Now imagine hundreds, if not thousands of younger people, packing handguns, walking and/or driving around. It only takes one moment of rage and someone could get seriously hurt, if not killed. Of course, the recent news of a rash of shootings, both locally and abroad, already proves that point.

A Walk(er) On The Wild Side

by capper

Now that the primaries are over, it is now time to turn our focus on April 1st, when the spring general elections are being held. Even though I am sure that these races will get more heated as the next few weeks go by, here are some things to help whet your appetite.

Zachary, of Blogging Blue, takes the time to recap a few of the lies that Walker has told and some of the many promises that Walker has broken.

We also have Gretchen Schuldt, who has been telling the undercovered scoop of Walker failing to keep the community safe. For a refresher on Round 1 as Walker gets chastised by Chief Judge Kitty Brennan, I would refer you to my post from last week.

Gretchen now gives us details of Round 2. The highlight is when Judge Brennan gives Walker a sharp right to the chin with this:

I've already expressed my opinion that a GPS program will only be safe if there is sufficient law enforcement monitoring of offenders and strict enforcement of violations. I do not see adequate monitoring and enforcement staffing levels or jail beds addressed un your current GPS proposal...
We also have the Brawler of Brew City, who creatively hypothesizes what it might look like have Walker loses, and he is forced to go out and look for real work. Here is just a teaser to pique your interest, but do make sure to read the rest. It is hilarious:

Recruiter: I've been looking through your materials. I just wanted to note I was surprised by how many misspellings I caught on your resume --

Walker: I'm giving my secretary 30 days to fix those or she's gone.

Recruiter: Isn't it your responsibility to make sure your resume is clean before you submit it --

Walker: Fifteen days? Would that be decisive leadership or what? Think of what I could do for your business!

Recruiter: Right...and that's why we're here. OK, first off, congratulations on your political career. I think it's safe to say that your ascension to county executive has challenged my belief that this country is a meritocracy.

Walker: Thanks!

I think that the biggest slap at Walker came from Milwaukee County voters, when they decided to keep John Weishan, Jr., on the ballot, while the pro-Walker candidate, Matthew Muelver, doesn't make it past the primary. The results with 90% of the votes counted:

John Weishan (inc) 3,139 36%

Timothy Manzke 2,445 28%

Matthew Muelver 1,888 21%

Richard Eaton 1,343 15%

This just echoes of the special election last summer, when Walker backer/crony Chris Kujawa lost handedly in a race for the County Board.

To continue the roll, please support Senator Lena Taylor. To get more information, please click here to get to her website.


By Keith Schmitz

I never thought I'd live to see a black man get a Texas crowd of 20,000 cheer upon hearing the names of Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay.

On a lighter note, John McCain says "he's ready to protect a health care system that is the envy of the world."

So is he running to be president of France?

Hillary Clinton: Winning the hearts and minds of wingnut bloggers all across Wisconsin

by folkbum

No, I don't know who I am voting for yet. But the conservative side of the Cheddarsphere has made up its mind: Hillary FTW!

See, just on my first run through the dark side, Lance Burri, The Game, Fred Dooley, Patrick Dorwin. There are undoubtedly more. (In comments below, 3rd Way points us to Sarah Kirby.)

Now, there are also plenty of people that I actually like who are voting for Clinton, out of much more pure reasons, like Mike Plaisted.

But the growing pro-Clinton wave on the right ... I feel like I need to take a long shower.

Something else to think about

by folkbum

Barack Obama seems to have won the coveted Susan Werner endorsement.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vote Tuesday, with recommendations

by folkbum

The more often I do these kind of posts, the more often I'm convinced that they have little effect. But I do them anyway--people grow to expect them and sometimes they even help me work out some of my own messy thinking.

City of Milwaukee
There are a handful of primaries around the city, only two of which are really getting any attention. For the city's 6th Aldermanic District, I recommend Una Van Duvall--as I did during the recall election last year. There is a great deal of speculation about whether Michael McGee, Jr., the incumbent, can hold the seat from behind bars. Let's hope this is the year he is let go. In the 3rd Aldermanic District, there are about a bazillion candidates. I think many of them would do well on the Common Council, but I think my readers could do a lot worse than electing Sam McGovern-Rowen to the post.

Less visible are two campaigns closer to my home. The 13th Aldermanic District is just across the street, literally, from me; I recommend current alderman Terry Witkowski in his primary. In the 14th Aldermanic District, which is mine, I recommend Tony Zielinski, the incumbent. I do not always agree with him, but he has got to be the hardest working man on the Common Council right now. His opponents, to put it mildly, are nuts. Arthur Kimball seems to be on a personal vendetta against Zielinski, lobbing attack after attack at Zielinski at the forum last week--most of the attacks were quite baseless. Andrew Reid seems to be running on a platform of "I don't know the answers, but I'd like to be the guy you elect to try to find out the answers." That did save him the trouble of having to answer the questions at the candidate forum, but I don't think it makes for a very good campaign. (The candidate forum I tried to live-blog--before my battery ran out--is YouTubed here. Watch it if you don't believe me about Kimball!)

Milwaukee County
Again, not a lot of primaries, and I will only comment on two. In the 15th Supervisory District, I recommend a longtime friend of this blog, Dan Cody. In the 14th Supervisory District, where I live, I recommend Chris Larson. Jason Haas, also a longtime friend of this blog, is a good guy, but this is not his time. Steven Kraeger, who told a Bay View-centric audience at the candidate forum last week that he would "have Scott Walker's back," couldn't even earn Walker's endorsement. That honor(?) went to Sebastian Raclaw, who at the forum seemed more reasonable that I thought he would be. But Raclaw also plans not to devote his full-time attention to the work of the County Board, planning instead to keep his day job as a Milwaukee police detective. Hence, I plan to vote Larson.

In my head I have a long series of on-the-one-hands, pro-con lists that go on for pages and pages and pages. In the end, I come back to a few paragraphs I've written over the last year or so:
On the Democrats' side, I will repeat what I've said before about Hillary: I really, really, really want to have an election sometime in my lifetime without someone named Bush or Clinton on the ballot. Please. (Technically, 1976 was "in my lifetime," but I obviously couldn't vote then.) We don't--we shouldn't--have an aristocracy in this country; another eight years of a Clinton would make it feel uncomfortably like we do.

I have little doubt that Hillary would make a good president--and I think she can, indeed, win--so I will vote for/ volunteer for/ get excited about her candidacy should she be the nominee. But I don't think I'll be connecting the arrow next to her name.

Obama has the potential to be a transformative candidate, a transformative president. As a veteran of the Dean campaign in 2004, I love transformative campaigns. Obama has the potential--indeed, he has fulfilled it in some early contests--to motivate younger voters and others often left out of presidential politics to vote in large numbers. His rhetoric and his tone is all about unity and hope and change, and he's a much more convincing agent of change in that sense than Clinton. Obama's Democratic majority would be larger, have longer coattails, and would look more like 21st-century America.

Clinton, on the other hand, would not be transformative. But she would be a fixer. Again, I think back to what drew me to Richardson--the idea that we'll need someone in the White House who has the ability to pick up all the severed threads of American democracy and secure them before this thing really falls apart. I have no doubt that Clinton can do exactly that.

Which is not to say that Obama couldn't also assemble a team who can handle the mundane, real, and practical challenges he would inherit next January, or that Clinton wouldn't be able to put together a wide and historic voting coalition with coattails and all in November. It's just that each seems to have a different key strength, which leaves me at this point unable to recommend voting against either one.
To be consistent, I'd have to not vote for Clinton. On the other hand (see?) I think she is the more liberal candidate, and a few of Obama's positions--like how he Harry-and-Louised Clinton, or his saying Social Security is in crisis--undermine Democrats and Democratic themes. I think Obama has the momentum, has had since Iowa, really, to win the nomination. On the other hand (I promised myself I wouldn't do this!), if Clinton and Obama both camp out for two weeks in Ohio--a must-win in November--because Wisconsin didn't settle this thing, it can only be good for organization-building leading up to the general this fall.

In short, I still don't know what to do. I will enthusiastically support Obama in November, but does his being the likely nominee tip the scales to make me vote for him now? Should I try to keep Clinton in the race longer to keep the excitement building and keep McCain shut out of the media spotlight? Should I cross over and vote for Huckabee to try to keep the Republican process extended and nasty?

I probably won't know until tomorrow afternoon when I have the pencil in hand. And even then, I may flip a coin.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Which Is Worse?

by capper

Which is worse?

Driving on a skating rink or driving through nearly a foot of snow.

OK, it was a trick question. The answer is both.

George W. Bush Visits the Africa Continent

by bert

Our president has deepened his knowledge of the world during his time as our leader.

Then (June 2001):
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."

"This is a large place with a lot of nations, and no question not everything is perfect."

But to be serious a second, I applaud him for this trip and for drawing some attention to Africa.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Self-indulgent Reminder: Come see me play

by folkbum

I know not all of you will be down at the Founder's Day Dinner being wowed by Sens. Clinton and Obama tomorrow night. The much cheaper event--though without the mediocre conference center food--is the finals of the Coffee House Midwinter Talent Contest. There will be seven very talented performers (plus me) vying for the top prizes. The skinny:
The Coffee House
631 N. 19th Street, Milwaukee
8:00 PM • $3.50
See you there. We now return you to our regularly scheduled mayhem.

Candidates and Content

by bert

A throng of republicans are right now turning their doleful eyes upward to right-wing radio sages for help. These people need to know why they should loathe Barack Obama.

So far, that help has been unsatisfactory.

The best thrust the right wing can orchestrate at the moment against Obama is that he is empty. This is obviously the talking point. Obama offers no specifics, they tell us. He is “content free”.

I don’t think that’s going to work, though. I was struck, after attending a Mike Huckabee rally last Wednesday for the heck of it, that Huckabee’s speech was no more full of “content” than a speech I heard Obama deliver last year at a rally in an Iowa gym.

It’s okay for Huckabee to stir applause and “amens” with wispy code words about “respect for life”. (I don’t even recall that he used the word “abortion” at this speech.) But apparently Obama needs to deliver a powerpoint lecture to the good people of Waterloo-Cedar Falls on his future trade policy with Azerbaijan. Otherwise, he’s a rock star and an empty suit.

It is laughable to hear Charlie Sykes dutifully talk this Obama point this week on his radio show. As a matter of fact, today Charlie again said Obama is “content free.”

It’s naïve for me to ask this, but why doesn’t Charlie have Obama on his radio station, as he has had Republicans like Huckabee this week, and ask Obama to give some content? If Charlie thinks it is a problem that people don’t know enough about Obama, Charlie and his transmitter possess a solution.

Like I said, naive question. Of course the right wing’s real problem is not what they say it is. Their honest-to-goodness problem is that their project to destroy Obama is not getting traction, yet.

Another Campus Massacre

By Keith Schmitz

Once again families were visited by tragedy thanks to the out of control actions of one person augmented with firearms.
A gunman dressed in black stepped from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday and shot 21 people, six of them fatally, then shot and killed himself, said university President John Peters.
According to Peters:
A preliminary investigation has not uncovered a police record on the gunman, and records showed he had no contact with NIU police while a student there.
Here's the point. Another "law-abiding citizen" responsible for the firearm deaths of a large number of people.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bill Clinton In MIlwaukee

By Keith Schmitz

The real American for Prosperity President Bill Clinton will be Milwaukee this morning. Doors open at 9:00.

Here's the place:

Italian Community Center
631 East Chicago St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

The public of course is invited.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Walker Blames George Bush, Jim Doyle

by capper

Talk about being held with the bag, the daily paper in these parts are now reporting that the Milwaukee County Pension Fund is going bad, in a real bad way:
The Milwaukee County Pension Board got a sobering assessment Wednesday of the lagging economy's impact on the pension fund - and some dire speculation on how far south it might go this year.

The county fund lost $56 million in January, a 3.4% drop, to $1.55 billion. The reduction in the fund's value comes on the heels of a $50 million drop for the fourth quarter of 2007, which lowered last year's growth yield to a lower-than-expected 6.3%.

The economic slowdown is hitting or will affect nearly all sectors of the
economy, according to Terry Dennison of Mercer Investment Consulting.

He warned that the county's pension system, which relies on county taxpayer contributions to stay afloat, "could implode" if things spiral down as he fears they may.

"This is not a typical recession," Dennison told the Pension Board. "This one has the elements of system failure. . . . It's spread into everything now."

So the County's Pension Fund drops $100+ million in the last four months, there is talk of major recession (thanks for nothing, Bush), but this doesn't worry County Executive Scott Walker:
County Executive Scott Walker said he was more concerned about potential state budget cuts than he is about the problems with the pension fund.

County Auditor Jerry Heer said the pension fund was in better shape than some board members suggested. The county has taken steps to stabilize the pension system in the wake of the 2002 county pension scandal, he noted.

Okay, Mr. Heer, but what about the pension scandal that just surfaced last year? What did Walker do about that, besides nothing?

Why do I keep thinking about the phrase, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned"?

Question for John Torinus

By Keith Schmitz

When it comes to business there are few as sharp as John Torinus and as one who leans to the right, someone who can lay out a reasoned, civil argument.

He will be part of a panel discussion tomorrow at Marquette on health care. Torinus is a big fan of so-called market-driven health care as a solution to our problems.

Torinus will be pushing the idea of catastrophic health insurance policies as part of his overall approach.

Because of work conflicts I cannot be there and would like someone to ask Toriuns, what is to prevent insurance companies from not covering people due to pre-existing conditions, and preventing these companies from denying coverage do to loop holes as they do now.

Seems to me if there is not some kind of regulation of these practices even with the meager proposed coverage, a large number of people will still be at risk.

Walker Watch: Lawbreaker, Liar, Loser

by capper

Walker hasn't kept many, if any of his previous promises. Now he isn't even bothering trying to keep his current campaign promises to provide safety, affordability or pride to Milwaukee County. We have lots to cover so let's get at, shall we?

Scott Walker, Lawbreaker:

We already have seen how Walker would cut state-mandated positions in the county. Only the county board kept him from sending the county into violation of the state law.

Then very recently, we have seen how Walker has violated the federal laws on privacy. Ken Mobile has more on this violation and Jim McGuigan gives us some details on CRG, who owns Walker, and keeps him on a short leash.

Now, thanks to the intrepid and impeccable Gretchen Schuldt, we see that Walker wants the circuit court judges to stop giving convicts Huber (work release) priveleges. She provides us with a letter from Chief Judge Kitty Brennan pointing out that Huber is a state-mandated law, and cannot be refused to people who are eligible for it. This can cause all sorts of other problems. From Judge Brennan's letter:
Judges are obligated by law to consider work release along with many other sentencing possibilities. It’s part of the statutes and case law requirements. It’s up to you, as the ultimate supervisor of the HOC, to provide a work release center that effectively and safely supervises offenders.

If you decide to eliminate your work release center, please consider that you may be creating bigger problems for the public. All of those offenders who would otherwise be eligible for work release must then be housed in the jail or House of Correction. That will significantly strain the jail and HOC capacity and cost the taxpayers a great deal of money. In addition, without a work release program, no convicted offenders will be able to earn the money to: 1) provide restitution to victims; 2) support their families; or, 3) pay their fines and forfeitures.

Scott Walker, Liar:

One of Walker's favorite campaign themes is that State Senator Lena Taylor would be bringing in a million dollars or more in special interest money from all over, including Madison and Washington, D.C. He even exploited his wife to get this false message out.

Well, as it turns out, Walker is the one getting the big bucks, and most of it is from outside of Milwaukee County. Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that 62% of the money he raised came from outside of Milwaukee County, including $7,500 which came from the Walton family. The Walton family is, of course, of Wal-Mart infamy. And, of course, as usual, Ken Mobile has beaten me to this story.

I do take heart in the fact that even though Walker has raked in four times the money that Senator Taylor did, at least her money shows a strong support amond Milwaukee County citizens. And we are the ones that will be voting, not the Wal-Mart family or the special interests from outlying counties.

Scott Walker, Loser:

To wrap up this episode, we return to Ken Mobile again. He has a post showing that even though Milwaukee County has absolutely nothing to do with MPS or with school choice, Walker is deciding to make this one of this talking points. To make matters worse, Walker is such a loser, he can't or won't even tell the truth on this matter either.

Mr. Mobile also shows that Walker is misrepresenting himself on his crime prevention position as well. That is nothing new either.

If you are as tired as I am of this lying, lawbreaking loser, who doesn't even know what his job is, even though he has supposed to have been doing for the last six years, please give whatever support you can to Senator Lena Taylor.

Of course the economy is humming along fine--look at all those new jobs!

by folkbum

The employment statistics are among those presented to bolster the claim that the George W. Bush economy has been a boom (leading to, dare I say it, prosperity?). All those new jobs people have, the argument goes, means we're not inarecession/ goingtodie/ inneedofaDemocraticpresident/ whatever.

Via Marginal Utility, there's this stunning fact from Marshall Jevons:
George W. Bush is in line to be the first president since World War II to preside over an economy in which federal government employment rose more rapidly than employment in the private sector.
The accompanying graph (from the New York Times, which also
has the story in words, but who needs words when you have a graph?) shows that since Eisenhower, only one president has shrunk the size of the federal work force. Your hint: It was not any of the small-government conservatives.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Abraham Lincoln: Fortune Teller

by capper

Seeing that today is Lincoln's birthday, and given the recent love-to-hate fest in Pewaukee, and that we are trying to survive the last year of Bush, while choosing someone to fix the country, I think the following quote from Honest Abe is more than appropriate (circa 1864):
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

14th District(s) Candidate Forum

by folkbum

The Lake Express has complimentary WiFi, so assuming that my battery holds out (I forgot the important half of my power cord), I will try to provide some updates as the forum progresses. Looks like County City candidates are up first, but we're about five fifteen minutes behind.

The League of Women Voters is moderating tonight. The Aldermanic candidates: Tony Zielinski (inc.), Andrew Reid, and Arthur Kimball.

Opening Statements:
TZ: Originally ran on property taxes, public safety, business revitalization, environment, and constituent services. Gives examples, including that he cut more budget items than any other alderman, but need to keep essential services; put more law enforcement on the street, law enforcement endorsements, etc. Revitalized business, anti-sweat shop legislation.
AR: Mostly life-long resident. Brought back nighttime trick or treat--make the neighborhood feel like a neighborhood again. My job is to get residents involved, want to hear from you first.
AK: Important for voters to be informed about choices--don't base vote on signs or who you know. Instead, who will represent you best. Live in Bay View for 14 years, seen growth and change. Been involved, have a Masters in Public Administration, worked with public agencies. Taxes increase as services decrease, our budget is leveraged and politicians failing.

Q1: Most important issue?
AR: Business--why so many vacant storefronts? Bring more business here = more money to fight crime and beautify. Walking business district.
AK: Fiscal Stability--MKE has structural deficit, borrow every year to support services because, in part, TZ puts more police on the street. MKE has too many cops per population based on a study, plus so much overtime. Police, debt too much. Need responsible govt.
TZ: Property taxes, Public Safety, and Business Revitalization. Have MBA and JD; my education provides me with expertise to make most sound decisions. We are not engaged in deficit borrowing, we borrow against revenue coming in the same year--not a deficit. Need safety, need strong business, which Bay View has grown in.

Q2: Last fall MPS lowered tax rate, resulting in cuts. How would you balance tax cuts and needs of MPS, and work with school board?
AK: City is integral to MPS, more integration of services (i.e., share gras cutting). Bay View High School is a problem--what has TZ done with BVHS. Wants to turn BVHS into a charter school, provide complete package to make BV attractive and stable. Also, be more rigorous in budgeting.
TZ: Some things I've done at BVHS: Gotten violence prevention counselors in BVHS, helped bring bursing apprenticeship, sits on board with community for improving BVHS, added truancy to list of nuisance property violations.
AR: (Digs at TZ for not answering question) This is why I'm here, want to investigate and look for answers, don't have all the stats about this money. But I will fight for it, find a way to do it.

Q3: Safety in MPS (my question)?
TZ: Need police in schools, supported efforts to get partnerships into schools for safety.
AR: Cops in schools, no. MPS has budget, should hire private security. MKE has cancelled auction program--bring it back and hire private security.
AK: Obviously we have enough officers, but do we want them in schools. Problems in MPS are social ones--poverty. TZ wants to give truancy tickets to poor parents. Sets students up for failure, increases cycle of poverty.

Q4: Homeless? ...

And this is where my battery died. I have handwritten notes for the remaining questions and the county candidates, but let me reiterate what I said this morning, because it's still true: I plan to vote for Tony Zielinski and Chris Larson next week.

Content-Free, Self-Amusement Blog Alliance

by folkbum

Is there a single sentence in this post that has even an ounce of truth in it?

Reminder: BVNA/BVC Candidate Forum Tonight

by folkbum

If you live in the City of Milwaukee's 14th aldermanic district, or the Milwaukee County 14th supervisory district, or--like me--in both, there is a candidate forum tonight sponsored by the Bay View Compass and the Bay View Neighborhood Association.
The Bay View Compass and the Bay Neighborhood Association are sponsoring a candidate forum on Tuesday, February 12 at the Lake Express Terminal Lobby, located at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive.

The event begins at 7:00 pm and is open to the public.

Candidates for the contested Aldermanic District 14 seat (incumbent Tony Zielinski) and County Supervisor District 14 seat (incumbent Richard Nyklewicz, Jr., who is retiring) are forum participants.

Candidates for Aldermanic District 14 are Arthur Kimball, Andrew Reid, and Tony Zielinski and for County Supervisor District 14, Jason Haas, Steven Kraeger, Christopher Larson, and Sebastian Raclaw.

Candidates will be asked questions prepared by BVNA, the Bay View Compass, and from members of the audience. Bring a question your next County Supervisor and Alderman--this is your chance to quiz the candidates about the issues and policies that matter to you!
My initial leanings are to vote to re-elect Tony Zielinski and for Chris Larson (sorry Jason, but I'm voting for the guy who can win here). I expect to be at the forum, and may take my laptop for live(ish)blogging.

The primary is next Tuesday, and the general election is April 1.

Speaking of Prosperity

by folkbum

Amid all this talk of Republican conservative* mid-weights gathered around talking about prosperity, I found this from Lance Mannion:
Republicans don't know they're out to wreck things because a.) they tell themselves out loud over and over again enough times so that the believe it that they are doing what's best for the poor in the long run and b.) what drives them at all times, in all their choices, including inspiring their antipathy to helping the poor, is their absolute horror at the thought of paying taxes---they quite often make the wrong choice, pick the policy that will not work or work well, because it is the cheapest! [. . .]

If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributer cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk.

And they do this so that they don't have to chip in on gas.
*Someone posted recently that they don't want to be called Republicans, but I forget who and I can't find the link. If it was you--or you know who did it--remind me and I'll fix it.

I was going to endorse a presidential candidate this morning on my blog

by folkbum

But I have to shovel snow instead. One more thing to blame on the weather . . .

Monday, February 11, 2008

An Ode To Winter In Wisconsin

by capper

Why I Love Wisconsin ...

It's winter in Wisconsin
And the gentle breezes blow,
70 miles per hour at 52 below!
Oh, how I love Wisconsin
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose is frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Wisconsin,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground

Can We Have A Little HIPAA Over Here?

by capper

Last week CRG made a almost-noticed breakthrough. They introduced a data base that was to show all of the contracts that government has with various agencies. Their goal, apparently, was to increase transparency in government. While I have issues with CRG, I find this to be an admirable goal. After all, if there was more transparency in government, perhaps we wouldn't be in Iraq, or dealing with a sagging economy, while companies like Halliburton and Blackwater get sweetheart deals.

Unfortunately for CRG, the only goverment agency to respond so far was Milwaukee County. And now it turns out, the County got it wrong. They did not screen the information they gave CRG, and CRG did not double check it, and now, the personal and private information of individuals has been released to the public. Anyone who needed a psychiatric evaluation, whether for a criminal hearing, a commitment hearing, or for the purposes of granting guardianship for a person unable to take care of themselves, their names and case numbers were available for all to see.

This is of course in direct violation of HIPAA and the right to privacy that is federally protected.

It appears that Walker's acting director of the Department of Administration, didn't bother checking the law, or running this past the Clerk of Circuit Courts, John Barrett. Instead, she just went ahead and released this information. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Walker is mum on the subject.

To make the matter worse, when the error was discovered last Friday, CRG said they would. However, it was still up as late as Sunday night. I guess they were too busy over the weekend helping Walker with his campaign appearance (more on that on another day).

This is akin to the repeated failures of the State of Wisconsin, who on three separate occassions allowed the Social Security numbers of people to be printed on the labels of mailings. Of course, when that happened, the right didn't take long from blaming bureaucrats to blaming Governor Jim Doyle.

However, when Scott Walker's administration commits the same offense, the most we see is an "oops".

Owen Robinson, the only person on the right to even acknowledge this story, when challenged on the Doyle vs. Walker aspect said:
It depends on what action, if any, is taken. In the case of the state, we have seen repeated gaffes with the release of personal information. Yet, we haven’t seen any positive action taken to correct it. This indicates an issue with the leadership.

In this case, I believe this is the first case of such a gaffe (please correct me if I’m wrong). If it remains an anomaly, then it’s just an “oops.” If it happens again and Walker does not take more stern corrective action, then Walker shares the blame.

I can accept mistakes. We’re human and they happen. But the lack of management tans my hide.

Well, Owen, you better have Wendy drive you to the tannery, because this isn't the first time Walker and his sidekick, Archer, have come up on the wrong side of the law.

It is time for a change. The taxpayers of Milwaukee County are already having to pay for the multiple lawsuits that have been lost by David Clarke. We don't to keep paying for Walker's ineptitude as well. To support Lena Taylor, just go to this site.

UPDATE: The paper is now reporting that nearly seven thousand violations of confidentiality laws were posted for six days. They now have been removed. Scott Walker says, "Huh," and Cynthia Archer says, "I can't find the wisdom in them doing what we wanted them to do."

Where Credit Is Due

By Keith Schmitz

The big difference between those labeled liberal and those labeled conservative? Conservatives are totally hard-wired and binary. When it comes to government, it is bad, bad, bad. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just look at the railing from the circus that came to town the past weekend in the form of the oddly named Americans for Prosperty conference, presided over the Mark Block, someone that I have only seen wearing either brown or black shirts.

Never mind that government helped build the middle class in the 50's and 60's and by catering to the wealthy minority from Reagan on, helped to stagnate it. Never mind that government intervention in the form of the Marshall Plan (which Republicans at the time in Congress wanted to stop) rebuilt Europe and prevented a return to turmoil and maybe totalitarianism.

We liberals on the other hand can have issues with corporations because, many times by putting profit over people, they earn it. Now of course this statement will elicit cries from the right wing of "commie," "socialist" and the newest from the aptly named JONAH Goldberg, "fascist." Huh?

But we don't view the world in black and white. We realize that business and economics is merely a tool for good or bad, depending how it is used and who uses it.

Take Michael Rosen's piece on Johnson Controls. Rosen took time to point out that JCI is not only moving into green markets but is using decently paid labor to turn out the products to do it. Though it is too bad that JCI's lithium batteries are to be made in France rather than here in the US or Milwaukee, the company is actually paying $4 more per hour in labor costs.

This kind of flies in the face of the right wingers who will show up shortly below, bellowing that companies must provide "value" to their shareholders by cutting wages and benefits so that the writers' mutual funds can fluff their retirements, that this country is going to lose money by responding to climate change (JCI will make money -- lots of it), and oh yeah the other chestnut -- jobs are not being created in tired old Europe and in hated France. Don't they have something called government supported health care?

Indeed they will say these things. But since when have they resorted to using facts?

John McCain: Like Hope, but Different

by folkbum

Hat tip: Everywhere.

Hasta la Vista?

By Keith Schmitz

Viewing the binary world of TV talking heads on Morning Joe talking about how Barack Obama is losing Hispanic voters to Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Somehow this spells doom on the road to the White House.

All well and good...for now.

But as usual the cluelessness of millionaire pundits floats to the surface.

What in the world would make anyone think that in November Barack would lose the Hispanic vote to John McCain, or for that matter Hillary would lose the African-American vote?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Thug-ization of James T. Harris

by folkbum

Dear Mr. Harris,

I've been reading the Wisconsin right-wingers for long enough to basically know what level of degradation and idiocy to expect from all the major players--who's good with the faux outrage, who dazzles with cherry-picked statistics, who's likely to fall into standard racist or sexist tropes, and so on.

Of all of them, I'm quite surprised that you, sir, would resort to something like this. As often as you decry the "thug" culture and the coarsening of our nation's discourse by such things as rap music, it confuses me that you would look to exactly those things for inspiration, that you would accuse the Clinton family of "pimping out" Chelsea Clinton.

Now, I know that you have standards for what your not-yet-adult daughter can and cannot do, and perhaps you may be legitimately dismayed that a 28-year-old woman would, even at that age, go outside the house or do things that she wants to do. (Can you doubt that she'd like to see her mom win the nomination?) But if that's true, I don't understand why, for example, you haven't said anything about 23-year-old Meghan McCain being similarly "pimped out" for her father's campaign. Sarah Huckabee, 25, has sometimes been called her father's "field general," and often talks to the press, but I guess she's not being "pimped out." You take no time to reflect on how the two Cheney daughters--or the two Bush daughters, for that matter--worked on the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

Heck, Mitt Romney locked his boys in an RV last year--I guess so that they couldn't escape and enlist--to force them to drive around Iowa while their father blew through their inheritance. Not a peep from you--though maybe boys can't be "pimped out."

So it makes no sense to me that you'd accuse only the Clintons of "pimping out" their child, unless you're only willing to attack a family that campaigns together if that family is Democratic.

I don't let my students use that kind of language in class, and it would never, ever occur to me to use "pimping out" (or anything similar) as a line of attack against Republicans. I mean, you can go back and examine all the fun that the left had with those Romney kids--and it was a blast--and there was no resorting to the gangsta-rap bag of sexist metaphors.

I just wonder if this is the start of a trend. Are we going to see more attacks from you that have their origins in the thug culture you so decry? I mean, really, how long before you start promoting this "Bros Before Hoes" t-shirt? It seems just a matter of time now.


Hat tip: The ever-brilliant capper.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

How Effective Are Concealed Carry Laws?

by capper

I fully expect the right to talk about the news from last night and use it as one more reason why they think Wisconsin needs to have a concealed carry law.

However, there are two basic flaws to their arguments.

First, it has been said time and time again how most of the gun shootings stem from gang members feuding with other members. Since both sides are armed, would this be a version of concealed carry, albeit not a legal one? Even though these gangsters know the other side is probably armed, this does nothing to slow them down from taking shots at each other. Why would the CCW proponents think that regular citizens being armed would slow these people down from using guns on them?

Secondly, as the CCW proponents are fond of pointing out, Wisconsin is one of the two or three states that don't have concealed carry laws. Yet in the last week or so, we have seen mass shootings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge and Kirkwood, MO. None of these shooters seemed to detered by the possibility of citizens having guns. Heck, even the shooters in L.A. and Kirkwood weren't detered by the police, who obviously have guns and extensive training in their use.

So, how can they possibly think that by having Wisconsin pass a CCW law would have any effect on shootings here?

The Real American Dream

by capper

Today, in Pewaukee, there is a small gathering of right-wing anti-tax zealots attending something called Defending the American Dream Summit, which is being sponsored by Americans For Prosperity. Their message is basically summed up as "Taxes are bad." Their most recent and questionable claim to fame was a rally in Madison last fall in which they were outnumbered two to one by people like firefighters, corrections officers, state employees, and people that understand that society needs basic services to provided in order to stay intact, and that these services need to be paid for.

Besides being a fairly transparent campaigning event for Scott Walker and Mike Gableman, they will be apparently doing a lot of cheerleading on ways to cut services to people that need it, like the poor, the elderly, the disabled and school children.

But their summit today is misnamed at best, and is rather misleading. The term American Dream came from a passage from The Epic of America, written by James Truslow Adams in 1931:
The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

This definition has changed over the years and has included other aspects, such as the Declaration of Independence, in which is written the phrase:
"…held certain truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The basic premise of the term American Dream throughout all references is that people should have a chance to have the best life they can, regardless of race, class, gender, or any other trait that has been traditionally discriminated against.

The AFP and their followers have limited this vision down to simple material wealth, and are highly resentful of anyone or anything that would get in their way of attaining more of it. They also apparently don't feel the need to be responsible for anyone or anything else, but the addition to their own material wealth.

Grumps give a good example of this mentality out in this post dealing with the recent snow storm:

Still, Rock County has four plows operating in two 12-hour shifts, down fromeight plows about five years ago, Coopman said. Those same four plows patrol thesame stretch in both light snowfall and blizzards.

Coopman compared the snow plows to fire trucks. "You pray you never need them," Coopman said. "But in our business, elected officials have said we'll take our chances and start cutting back on having those 'fire trucks' available. Then when you have the fire like (Wednesday), you don't have them."

Every time you say that government needs to make cuts, every time you stand up and shout that your tax dollars are wasted you have to take part of the responsibility for the choices made in your name. Your nattering about waste, when looking at real hard choices, leads to cuts in services.

You are responsible for the lack of plows an the roads.

Listen. Learn. Figure it out. Some days the Cavalry isn't coming. Prepare. Grow the Hell up.

Instead of the American Dream being considered a situation of "more for me, screw the rest of you" as presented by the AFP, I much prefer the way the Changes to Win Foundation is choosing to defend the American Dream:

With a new Congress we have a chance to build a better future for our country and our children. For years, America’s been heading in the wrong direction with American workers working hard yet losing ground. Wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, fewer and fewer workers have health care, and retirement security is increasingly a thing of the past. But a new Congress brings new hope. Together we can restore the pillars of the American Dream:

  • A paycheck that supports a family.
  • Quality, affordable health care for all.
  • A secure and dignified retirement.
  • The freedom to join together in unions.

I think it would be better for everyone to have a chance at the best life they can have, not just the elitist few.