All but 26 people on our roster are billionaires.
Another strong factor is his underdog cult-hero status among many Democrats stemming from the highly controversial 2000 election against Bush. Let's not forget that he won the popular vote and, to many of us, the election (does anybody really still think Karl Rove and Jeb Bush didn't rig Florida?!). As a result, he could be dubbed The Comeback Kid and ride the momentum that goes with it. Remember, Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960 then returned in '68 to squeak past VP Hubert Humphrey by a 43.2% to 42% margin (Alabama Governor George Wallace picked up 13.5%) to become president.
Since 2000, Gore's become an extremely passionate and rousing speaker. He's dropped the stiff wonkish routine and found his mojo. Plus, he's rested, he's confident and his prescience on a number of key issues and events is now clear. He's also squeaky-clean, with no skeletons in his closet, as 2000 proved.
Lastly, Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the Republican-controlled Congress and with Bush, as the consistently plummeting polls indicate. Timing is everything they say, and 2008 may finally be the right time for Al Gore.
I have always been a big Al fan. My current favorites are Gore, Edwards and of course Feingold.
But, 2008 is a long way away, let's think about 2006.
A group of House Republicans have proposed a plan to offset the costs of relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina that includes trimming military quality-of-life programs, including health care.
Possible sources of funding cuts to free up money for Katrina relief include reduced health benefits, consolidation of the three military exchange systems and the closure of the military’s stateside school system.
Service members would be offered cash if they are willing to accept reduced health care benefits for their families. “The less comprehensive plan would encourage individuals to be more cost-conscious when purchasing health care products by including deductibles, co-payments and a maximum annual out-of-pocket expenditure limit,” according to a written explanation provided by the study group. Reduced health care benefits could save $2.4 billion over 10 years.
The stateside system of elementary and secondary schools for military family members could be closed, saving $788 million over 10 years, the study says.
Third, other states resent American hypocrisy. We condemn India and Pakistan for testing nuclear weapons and demand that North Korea and Iran forego them, yet we keep thousands of weapons of our own and are planning to build more. We lecture other countries about the rule of law and the importance of human rights, but hold thousands of detainees without trial and torture prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. And when these abuses are exposed for the world to see, our President refuses to apologize and doesn’t ask any senior officials to resign. No wonder the rest of the world has less respect for U.S. leadership and growing misgivings about U.S. primacy.
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all person held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free; and the Executive Government of the United States including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
(Insert your own voter-ID comment here...)
Here is the follow-up:
Man sentenced for concealed weapons
By Bethany K. Warnerof The Northwestern
A Berlin man was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation on Wednesday for his part in bringing concealed weapons to the Markesan High School grounds during the school’s June graduation ceremony.
Jesse J. LaRue, 27, pleaded no contest in Green Lake County Circuit Court to misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon, possessing dangerous weapons on school grounds and obstructing an officer.
According to the criminal complaint LaRue and Andrew Adams, 19, drove LaRue’s car to Markesan High School. A later search of the car revealed a wooden club, an air rifle, nine knives and machetes, and 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition, according to the criminal complaint.
During the sentencing hearing, District Attorney James Camp said LaRue admitted to owning three of the knives and a dagger found in the car.
“These are weapons. They are on school property,” Judge William McMonigal said. “There is simply no place in school for weapons. If the court did not impose a significant jail sentence it would undermine the seriousness of the offense.”
A high school custodian alerted police about the men during the graduation ceremony after noticing them wearing long trench coats and acting suspiciously, the criminal complaint states. In addition to the weapons, the car also contained three masks.
Adams acknowledged carrying a 9mm pistol that was found in a search of the area, the complaint states.
Adams is charged with six offenses, including a felony for possessing a firearm in a school zone. His case is still pending and no court action is currently scheduled for that matter.
The six-month jail sentence was a point of debate in LaRue’s plea agreement. Camp argued that without jail time, the sentence would not be enough of a deterrent to LaRue or others in the community. “For that reason, I believe it cries out for jail,” Camp said.
Camp said LaRue’s intentions for the weapons were not known.
James Peebles, LaRue’s attorney, argued that LaRue’s six-month sentence should be reduced because of time served because he was not able to post bond. LaRue’s bond was set at $10,000 in June.
“Mr. LaRue is not constantly in trouble,” Peebles said. “Mr. LaRue has not had a problem with being a law-abiding citizen.”
LaRue said nothing on his own behalf when offered the opportunity during the sentencing.
His probation conditions include a mental health assessment, alcohol and drug abuse assessment and no possession of firearms.
Bethany K. Warner: (920) 426-6668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HIT THEM WHEN THEY’RE DOWN
Hitting someone when they are down is poor sportsmanship in sports and politics. It is particularly horrible when is comes to taking advantage of the poor and unfortunate people that are victims of Hurricane Katrina. President Bush signed an executive order that lets States pay substandard wages for cleanup and repair works to their neighborhood and homes. The suspension applies to more than 100 counties and Parishes in the States hit by Katrina - indefinitely, for all contracts, whether or not they are meant to clean up and rebuild devastated areas.
The order cancels "prevailing wages," which assure that workers on Federal jobs receive hourly pay akin to workers doing similar work in those areas. Prevailing wages in the Deep South States are barely above poverty: $9.55 an hour. We're talking about slave wages here for a desperate group of workers washed out of their homes, out of their jobs, out of the world as they knew it.
Count on seeing workers lose wages in hundreds of Federal contracts that have nothing whatsoever to do with hurricane damage. In addition to the devastated Golf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, President Bush included the counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe in Florida, which are areas not devastated by the storm.Count on seeing the poverty rates in these areas, already among the highest in the nation before Katrina, rise sharply with no relief from Federal reconstruction efforts.
President Bush's stated reason for suspending the prevailing wage law is to "cut red tape" and "relieve the burden from the backs of taxpayers" in this emergency. The "red tape" comes in the form of wage records that employers in Federal contracts had to keep, until now.
Does the president have no shame? By suspending the Davis-Bacon laws in the areas devastated by the hurricane, he is already taking advantage of those suffering. Davis-Bacon laws require Federal contractors to pay laborers and mechanics at least the prevailing-wage rates (and fringe benefits) that other similar workers in the area receive. Once again, wealthy contractors, who are being awarded contracts without competitive bidding that guarantee them a certain profit regardless of how much they spend, will reap millions from this disaster. At the same time, the Americans doing the hard work of restoring these ravaged cities are forced to live without even a basic living wage.
And now, in the cruelest irony, President Bush is saying that in New Orleans—where a quarter of the city is poor, 40 percent of its children live in families below the poverty level and the prevailing wage for construction labor is less than $10.00 per hour—that working families should suffer a pay cut as they rebuild their destroyed communities. By suspending the Davis-Bacon Act, President Bush is forcing more people into the poverty as we have so dramatically witnessed in the past week and hastening the economic recovery of these ravaged areas.
President Bush also suspended Federal rules to allow FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to extend no-bid contracts to corporations engaged in the rebuilding. In doing so, he also allowed companies with close political ties to get to the front of the line.
Through these actions, the President revealed that despite all the rhetoric about compassion toward the victims of Katrina, the administration's crony capitalism and corporate agenda is never far below the surface.
FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers quickly suspended rules in order to allow no-bid contracts and speed up reconstruction. Politically connected firms like Haliburton, Fluor Corporation, and Bechtel have already scooped up hundreds of millions of dollars for post-Katrina.
Bush also revoked rules prohibiting companies with a track record of violating federal labor laws, as well as environmental, consumer protection, civil rights and tax laws by signing outsource employment contracts with Federal agencies.
Now the President is taking advantage of the Katrina tragedy to get rid of workers' protections in favor of higher profits for favored corporations. The suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act is an open invitation to employers to hire people who are desperate for jobs, and pay them low wages.
Indeed, suspending Davis-Bacon is the exactly the wrong move at this time. What the devastated areas need are people with jobs that pay decent wages so they can contribute to stimulating the local economy. Federal funds should be used to help get families back on their feet, not to exacerbate their suffering.
Arthur M. Sachs
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.
Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.
Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said. The trustee decided when to sell the shares, and the Tennessee Republican had no control over the exact time they were sold, she said.
HCA shares peaked at midyear, climbing to $58.22 a share on June 22. After slipping slightly for two weeks, the price fell to $49.90 on July 13 after the company announced its quarterly earnings would not meet analysts' expectations. On Tuesday, the shares closed at $48.76.
The value of Frist's stock at the time of the sale was not disclosed. Earlier this year, he reported holding blind trusts valued at $7 million to $35 million.
Frist's father, Thomas, founded the company, and his brother, Thomas Jr., is a director and leading stockholder.
The family is worth $1.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine. HCA -- formerly known as Columbia HCA Healthcare Corp. -- has been a top contributor to the senator's campaigns, donating $83,450 since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/20/AR2005092001767.html
The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002.
It also contends that he concealed his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area. Abramoff is the person identified as "Lobbyist A" in a 13-page affidavit unsealed in court, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.
Until his resignation on the day the criminal complaint against him was signed, Safavian was the top administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.
Remember, this is along with the DeLay stuff as well. It was Abramoff's relationship with DeLay that started this investigation.
What does Rep. Petri (a former member of the House Ethics Committe) think of this:
"So, it's a little bit like a traffic infraction, you can get arrested for things, but it's not as though it's a murder."
Here's the quote:
Watch the entire question here:
The president should have done that on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001. The country was ready. But the president whiffed. Katrina - nature's 9/11 - has given him a rare do-over. Imagine - I know it is a stretch - that the president announced tomorrow that he wanted an immediate 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax - the "American Renewal Tax," to be used to rebuild New Orleans, pay down the deficit, fund tax breaks for Americans to convert their cars to hybrid technology or biofuels, fund a Manhattan Project to develop alternatives for energy independence, and subsidize mass transit systems for our major cities.
And imagine if he tied this to an appeal to young people to go into science, math and engineering for the great national purpose of making us the greenest nation on the planet, to help liberate us from dependence on the worst regimes in the world for our oil and to help ease the global warming that is heating up the oceans, making our hurricanes more intense and our lowlands more vulnerable. America's kids are hungry to be challenged for some larger purpose, which has been utterly absent in this presidency.
I like this article for 2 reasons:
1. It shows a real path to progress for America.
2. It makes the point that without adequate funding properly directed, government can do nothing.
Lessons current politicians need to know.
I am not happy with the result, I think we could have won. Still, it is better than a loss.
There was overwhelming support in the room. The only voices against were the usual crowd of "grumpy Gus's" and employees of a retail association and the realtor's.
A supervisor I spoke with said that of the calls he recieved, 90% were against the tax. He did add, however, that of the people he spoke with, it was only the 10% for it that had complete information ('quality calls' he called them).
Here is a roll call:
For holding it over:
Arlene Schmuhl, Bernard Egan, Claud Thompson, Donald Griesbach, Forrest E. Weber, Grant Sim, Harold Steineke, James Lauson, Jeanette Diakoff, Jerold Finch, Joseph Hotynski, Joseph Maehl, Kenneth B. Robl, Michael Norton, Patrick Brennand, Patrick O'Brien, Phillips L. Scoville, Robert Warnke
Alfred Jacobson, Bill Wingren, Chuck Farrey, David Albrecht, Frank Tower, Harvey J. Rengstorf, Herbert Kramer, James Koziczkowski, Joanne Sievert, John A. Schaidler, Kathleen Lennon, Paul Sundquist, Stan Kline, Stephen Rankin, Steven Arne, Thomas R. Pech Jr., Thomas W. Widener
Note: Sups. Pech & Lennon left directly after this vote and did not stay for the rest of business.
Update: I heard that Sup. Pech had a work commitment that he left to attend even the part of the meeting that he did. A post of how hard it is to have a full-time job and be in government is comig...
Well, Rep Petri - explain these:
But hundreds of millions of dollars will be channeled to programs that critics say have nothing to do with improving congestion or efficiency: $2.3 million for the beautification of the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California; $6 million for graffiti elimination in New York; nearly $4 million on the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; $2.4 million on a Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana; and $1.2 million to install lighting and steps and to equip an interpretative facility at the Blue Ridge Music Center, to name a few.
In Illinois yesterday, Bush appeared with one of the most influential beneficiaries of earmarked spending: House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who secured $207 million for the "Prairie Parkway" through Kane and Kendall counties.
Jan Strasma, chairman of Citizens Against the Sprawlway, which has fought the project for years, said the parkway exemplifies precisely what Bush once vowed to combat. The Illinois Department of Transportation is only two years into a five-year study into the project and has not yet determined whether a highway is needed or improvements to existing roads would suffice.
From Fox News:
The bill calls for nearly half a billion dollars to build two bridges in Alaska. One will connect the Alaskan mainland with a tiny island called Gravina (population: 50). It will cost U.S. taxpayers $230 million. In fact, when it comes to pork barrel politics, Alaska is the new West Virginia. That's because Alaska Rep.Don Young chairs the transportation committee. The transportation bill is named after Young's wife. The second bridge the bill appropriates money for — another $230 million — will be called "Don Young Way."
-- Construction of "Renaissance Square" in Rochester, N.Y., including a performing arts center. $7 million. Rep. Louise Slaughter, a highly partisan liberal Democrat.
-- Renovation of a historic depot and bus station in Jessup, Ga. $1 million. Rep. Jack Kingston, a leading Republican conservative.
-- Improvement of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. $1.5 million. Rep. John Dingell, the senior member of the House and a fierce Democratic battler.
-- A new parking building in Oak Lawn, Ill. $4 million. Rep. William Lipinski, an 11-term Democrat.
-- A series of improvements for the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Va. $2.5 million. Rep. Rick Boucher, an 11-term Democrat.
Even your fellow republicans know it is out of hand.
In a study of investors’ behavior 41 people with normal IQs were asked to play a simple investment game. Fifteen of the group had suffered lesions on the areas of the brain that affect emotions.
The result was those with brain damage outperformed those without.
The scientists found emotions led some of the group to avoid risks even when the potential benefits far outweighed the losses, a phenomenon known as myopic loss aversion.
One of the researchers, Antione Bechara, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, said the best stock market investors might plausibly be called “functional psychopaths.”
In related news:
Ex-Tyco executives get up to 25 years in prison
Kozlowski, Swartz punished for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars
And I hope they 'enjoy' every minute of it - send on Ken Lay next.
In it, I said that Mr. Hayford did not want to pay taxes for the services he used in Winnebago County.
Well, it turns out I could not have been more right - here is a previously published item from Mr. Hayford:
Reader Reaction Forum: What tax would it be OK with you to raise?
NIMBY TAX: I have many suggestions, things I do not like or use. Cauliflower is one item legislators should tax heavily. I do not use state campgrounds, so a hefty increase in fees for that would help. I do enjoy golf, though, so those fees should be held to a minimum. Legislators should increase income taxes on the rich, defined as anyone who makes more money than I do.
Do we now see the type of argument that side is making against providing services for our citizens?
This is an email urging you to join the fight for those who need the Winnebago County services the most. I am sure you have heard by now about the proposed sales tax. I do not believe that the Northwestern has been complete in it’s coverage. There have been many articles that touch on the sales tax only, not the Property Tax Relief or the service cuts.
This will be disastrous to the poorest among us. This was finally covered by the Northwestern this morning. If this is not passed, we can expect cuts of:
District Attorney: Completely eliminate domestic abuse investigator.
Human Services: Indigent elderly services waiting list jumps to 96, waiting list for services for developmentally increases to 24, 10 full-time workers laid off.
Park View Health Center: About 24 employees laid off – that includes 17 already losing jobs do to closing of a resident unit - must cut additional $996,828 from budget.
Sheriff: Work-release center closes, eight corrections officers laid off; DARE, boat patrol, snow patrol and ATV programs discontinued; includes four detectives and four patrol officers laid off
Courts: Nine total people laid off including two clerks, one supervisor laid off.
What do these deep cuts represent? Lost service to those most in need: crime victims, indigent elderly, developmentally disabled, abused children the unemployed and working poor.
While sales taxes are often regressive, it is not so in this case. Working poor, middle income and fixed income elderly homeowners will find an actual decrease in their overall county taxes paid (for a calculator to see how this works, please go to http://www.jef4wi.com/slstxsht1a.xls and http://www.jef4wi.com/slstxsht1b.xls).
Why? As part of the resolution, there is a $.40 and $.70 sales tax reduction in the mill rate. For the most needy groups among us, this property tax decrease will offset most or all of the sales tax.
Therefore, what are we looking at? We see a choice of cutting services to the most needy of us, or reducing the tax burden on those with large amounts of expendable income, as well as tourism revenue.
What side do you come down on? Reduce taxes on those who can afford it, or cut services on those who cannot?
I urge you to contact not only your county board member, but all of them. There is a list below, along with what their current status is. Please call or email yours first, then work down the list.
Let them know that you not only support giving needed services to the people who need them the most, but that you will support them in making this decision.
Please join me in my support of Winnebago’s most needy. The vote is tomorrow (Tuesday Sept 20), so please call today.
p.s. - I have put several resources on the tax issue on the homepage of www.jefhall.com - please visit.
Go here for a list of County Board Members:
Here is the best Northwestern article so far:
No Winnebago County Board supervisor can support a half-cent sales tax Tuesday's in good conscience. Why? County leaders have not explored any meaningful cuts that justify levying a new tax, putting a new burden on folks who can afford it least.
1. There was no member of the Northwestern's editorial staff at Mr. Harris' presentation before the board of the cunecessaryary to reach a 0% or 2% budget. He has pursued every avenue of cutting possible. He outlined them in detail.
2. The tax is not on those who can afford it the least. I have calculator at my website (http://jef4wi.com/slstxsht1a.xls and http://jef4wi.com/slstxsht1b.xls) that shows those working poor and elderly homeowners will actually save money on this tax. Half of the tax burden will fall on people from outise the county, people that are not currently paying in, and the services cut will overwhelmingly effect the poorest among us.
Property tax levies in Winnebago County from 1993 to 2002 increased 98.4 percent, or about 10 percent annually. That happened before the property value increases in Oshkosh this year that will raise taxes higher for thousands of your constituents.
Mr. Harris has proposed a 2% budget increase with this tax. It is the leanest budget proposed for Winnebago County in over a decade, maybe more. It is intellectually dishonest to say this responsible budget is wrong because past ones have been.
Those same property owning families, incidentally, cut costs when they have bills that outstrip their income.
The county, when it cuts costs, cuts services. These services are overwhelmingly to the poorest of us that the Northwestern is claiming to argue for. Once again, go to the calculator, most property owning families of fixed or lower means will save money after the sales tax.
But Harris campaigned that he would support a sales tax to reduce property taxes instead of for new spending.
There is no new spending, costs go up, that is what Mr. Harris is proposing the tax for - he is actually cutting overall.
Statistics show that fewer than 30 percent of Wisconsin counties with a sales tax use them to offset property taxes, according to a 2002 study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
All revenue collected through a sales tax offsets property taxes. It is money that will not be needed to levy through property taxes.
Last year and the year previous, county government increased spending by $5 million after drawing on reserves. A half-cent sales tax in its first year will increase the county's tax capacity $7 million more. A half-cent sales tax in 2007 will increase that capacity $12 million more.
1. Because Jane VanDeHey drew on the reserves is one reason that we cannot cover her costs through the property tax levy. This was spending that should be matched this year to provide the same level of service, however because it was not part of last year's levy, it cannot be raised this year after the freeze. Had we had a balanced budget last year, it would be easier to make budget without the sales tax.
2. The sales tax cannot pass with out property tax relief - it is part of the resolution.
There are ways to save money. They are well known and have been discussed.
The Northwestern has only suggested that we save money by lowering union pay (illegally) by changing contracts that were bargained in good faith. This is not a way to save money.
Well, Mr. Hayford himself is one reason we need to implement the tax. I hope everyone noted the footnote:
David A. Hayford lives in Appleton and is the CFO of Oshkosh Investments, Inc.
Mr. Hayford currently uses county services (roads, quality of life, police protection, etc) to have a business that profits him personally, yet he pays no taxes whatsoever into the county coffers himself.
Why? Right now the county is funded through property tax funds, and his house is in Outagamie County.
That is one of the main points of the tax - Mr. Hayford says that: "It is $14 million additional tax coming from the pocketbooks of Winnebago County taxpayers. Winnebago County taxpayers, do you want to assume that burden?" This is where he is being misleading - it is not from Winnebago County taxpayers, almost half of that tax will be collected from people that live outside of Winnebago County.
People like Mr. Hayford.
That is why he is against the tax, he wants to make a profit through his business in Winnebago County, but does not want to pay to cover county services.
I think Mr. Hayford said it best himself when he said:
The Golden Rule of politics is: "Them's that got the gold makes the rules."
He wants to take personal profit from Winnebago County, but not help care for it's residents. I hope that all that gold he's got will sooth his consciencence.