Green's Washington Values: It's Okay to Take Freebies from Indicted D.C. Lobbyist

After Taking Tickets from the Indicted Jack Abramoff’s Firm, Green’s Campaign Manager Says That’s Just How Washington Works

MADISON – After trying to cover up the fact that he took ticket freebies from indicted Washington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s firm, Mark Green’s campaign manager Mark Graul is now excusing the behavior by saying that’s just the way business is done in Washington.

Records show that Graul, as Green’s Washington Chief of Staff, repeatedly took ticket freebies for Abramoff’s skybox in D.C. for NBA games, concerts, and a WWF event. But Graul initially tried to deny it, saying he never asked for tickets from Abramoff and doesn’t know the scandal-plagued lobbyist.

Now Graul’s story is changing once again. His new excuse: taking freebies from indicted lobbyists is just business-as-usual in Washington.

“I believe it’s illegal in Madison” to take freebies, Graul told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s legal in Washington.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/21/2005]

“Once again, Mark Green is showing the people of Wisconsin that he supports the culture of corruption that has entangled Republicans in Washington,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Mark Green seems to think it’s okay for his staffers in Washington to take freebies from an indicted Washington lobbyist. That may be how business is done in Washington, but it’s not how things are done in Wisconsin.”

After first saying he never took any tickets from Abramoff, Graul then said he did attend a Washington Wizards-Milwaukee Bucks game in Washington, but didn’t remember how he got the tickets. But an email from Graul buddy and Abramoff staffer Jennifer Calvert to Abramoff’s assistant says: “May I get four tickets to this game for Mark Graul, COS for Rep. Green? If that works, I’d like to get two for myself as well, to host Mark. Thanks.” [TalkingPointsMemo.Com, 10/10/2005]

Now Graul says he attended three Wizards-Bucks games in D.C., and that he was the contact person to receive freebies. “From time to time, people would call and offer tickets,” Graul told the Journal Sentinel. “There were a handful of times we said yes.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/21/2005]

And, while Graul continues to deny knowing Abramoff, it seems Abramoff knew him. After a Graul request for tickets to the NBA All Star Game and Dunk Contest, Abramoff himself replied that Graul would be put on the list for tickets while he figured out what he was going to do with the suite that night.

“The number of favors given to Green’s congressional office raises the question of why Mark Green and his staff were such favorites of Jack Abramoff,” Wineke said. “What else did Mark Green get from Abramoff, and what did he do to win such favor?”

Considering the large number of tickets Graul took from Abramoff’s firm, it appears Graul may have even violated Washington’s limit on freebies from lobbyists, Wineke said.

Graul’s deception is similar to Green’s ever changing story about why he won’t get rid of the more than $30,000 he’s taken from the indicted Tom DeLay, a close Abramoff associate. Green now admits it would be legal to return the money, but says he needs the dirty DeLay money for his run for Governor.


Milwaukee Magazine: Every morning, former legislator and current state Democratic chair Joe Wineke gets up, chews glass for breakfast...

..and starts chomping on Republicans, mostly Congressman Mark Green. Day in and day out, we get another broadside from Wineke, demanding that Green return the $30,000 in campaign donations he got from Congressman Tom DeLay.

This is hardly a major issue, but Wineke keeps firing away, and the issue has gotten play in the press and discussion by bloggers. And that’s exactly what Green doesn’t want.

Unlike Scott Walker, whose campaign has been plagued by mistakes, Green had been sailing along, with no negatives attached to his name. So why not just give back the $30,000? It’s a small price to pay to eliminate the issue. This is Public Relations 101: Put the story behind you and the public will forget by tomorrow.

Instead, Green has gotten into a game of claim and counterclaim with Democrats. Green says he can’t return the money legally. Democrats say he could give the money to a nonpartisan electoral cause. Green says the money has already been spent. Democrats say he has a huge war chest of donations. Green says he no longer has a federal campaign account (from his last race for Congress). Democrats say he does.

Does anyone really care about this? No, but it’s a diversion from Green’s message, and it puts him on the defensive. I would think Green is getting calls from Republican insiders telling him to give the money away and kill the issue. He would be well advised to listen.


A Good, Quick Write-up of Patient Abandonment

WI: Governor Vetoes 'Conscience Clause' Legislation

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) stood up for patients' rights
by vetoing a bill last week that aimed to expand so-called 'conscience clause' protections for health care workers. Medical students and pharmacists who refused to participate in medical procedures or fulfill prescriptions they found objectionable would have been covered under the so-called ‘conscience clauses,’ and the bill would have protected workers from punishment even if they refused to refer a patient to another professional for the treatment, reports the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report. The bill would also have lengthened the list of protected procedures to include the destruction of embryos, and the use of embryonic cells or fetal tissue not obtained from a miscarriage or stillbirth, in addition to already-protected abortion, euthanasia and sterilization procedures. The veto will stand, as there are not the necessary votes for an override, according to the Madison Capital Times.

In his veto message, Governor Doyle described this bill as “identical” to one that he vetoed in 2004, and strongly objected to the lack of referral requirements. “This bill doesn't even require health care providers to give you a referral to someone else if they object to a particular treatment,” Gov. Doyle said. “In fact, the doctor wouldn't even have to tell you about a treatment option that might exist. Even if your life was threatened, this bill would allow a doctor to withhold lifesaving medical care.” In a public statement announcing his veto, Doyle said, “Because it puts a doctor's political views ahead of the best interests of patients, this legislation ought to be called the ‘unconscionable clause.’”


GAO: Electronic Voting Machines Can Be 'Fixed' Causing Hijacked Elections

While electronic voting systems hold promise for a more accurate and efficient election process, numerous entities have raised concerns about their security and reliability, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate
security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues. For example, studies found (1) some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected; (2) it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate; and (3) vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level. It is important to note that many of the reported concerns were drawn from specific system makes and models or from a specific jurisdiction’s election, and that there is a lack of consensus among election officials and other experts on the pervasiveness of the concerns. Nevertheless, some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in federal elections—resulting in the loss or miscount of votes—and therefore merit attention.

Here's the report:

Hre's one blogger's take:


The Great Eric Alterman in the Nation: The Liberals are the Majority

Here is the liberals' problem in a nutshell: More than 30 percent of Americans happily answer to the appellation "conservative," while 18 percent call themselves "liberal." And yet when questioned by pollsters, a super-majority of more than 60 percent take positions liberal in everything but name. Indeed, on many if not most issues, Americans hold views well to the left of those espoused by almost any national Democratic politician.

In a May survey published by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 65 percent of respondents said they favor providing health insurance to all Americans, even if it means raising taxes, and 86 percent said they favor raising the minimum wage. Seventy-seven percent said they believe the country "should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.'' A September Gallup Poll finds that 59 percent consider the Iraq War a mistake and 63 percent agree that US forces should be partially or completely withdrawn.

The money quote:

(If our leading political reporters were forced to address these authors' evidence or to stop mouthing the nonsense dominating their own stories, our politics would be transformed overnight.)


The Beginning of the End of the Middle Class...

“Workers didn't simply earn more,” says Shaiken. “They drove into the middle class. Now we're looking at far more exit ramps from the middle class.”

Thursday, Ford said it will announce a restructuring plan in January that cuts plants and jobs. Meanwhile, auto parts maker Delphi began presenting proposals to its unions to reduce their pay. Before declaring bankruptcy, Delphi asked for a 60 percent wage cut.

The UAW Thursday acknowledged labor's tough choices.

"The tentative agreement is an essential step toward insuring that General Motors is a competitive and financially sound corporation," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

Retiree John Sanderson wants GM to survive, but he also wants the health care promised him. “For them to take anything away from me, to change anything, is stealing from me,” he says.


Universal, single-payer healthcare is the only save for American industry and the middle class.


Am I to assume this guy plans on being buried in a Native-American burial mound?

I read the article about the Hmong heritage for funeral services, and it make me angry that the Hmong want so much to come to the United States and live instead of their own land, and they want to keep their heritage going? Nonsense. If the Hmong chooses to leave their land, leave their heritage back there too. Learn our rules and our heritage. Period!

Dan Fisher Oshkosh

Click headline for link...

Here's a nomination for Olbermann's 'Worst Person in the World'....


DeLay's Arrest Warrant


Thought of the Day...

You never notice how many old-school Ford Escorts there are out there until you start driving one...


Sen. Carpenter: Potential $340 Million Windfall to Wisconsin Election Campaign Revealed

10/19/2005 Contact: State Senator Tim Carpenter (608) 266-8535

Madison — State Senator Tim Carpenter (D--Milwaukee) today revealed that he has donated to the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund a lottery ticket for today’s PowerBall lottery drawing, which has an estimated $340 million jackpot. “While the odds of the ticket I donated being a winning ticket are reported to be 1 in 146,107,962 it appears that the chances of the GOP-controlled legislature passing meaningful campaign finance reform is only slightly better,” stated Carpenter.

See Carpenter's Letter to Kennedy with the Lottery ticket: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=46781

If the $2 I spent on Lotto tix wins, it will be financing my elections for whatever I run for next!

DeLay Train of Corruption to Come to Wisconsin

MADISON – Republicans in Washington are planning to bring their culture of corruption to Wisconsin next week when the scandal-plagued Ohio Congressman Bob Ney holds a campaign rally in Milwaukee for Wisconsin Congressman Mark Green.

An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today reports that Green has asked Ney to bring his U.S. House Administration Committee to Milwaukee to study alleged voter fraud. The hearing’s line-up is full of Republicans and no Democrats, and smacks of partisan politics. Ney’s committee scheduled the hearing at a time when they knew the committee’s three Democrats would be unable to attend. And only after Democrats raised questions about the partisan line-up did the committee invite Democrat Congresswoman Gwen Moore to participate.

Although the hearing focuses on the election process in Milwaukee, no one from Milwaukee was invited to testify. And while the GOP-proposed voter ID “remedy” would disenfranchise seniors and the disabled, no representatives from those groups or independent groups like the League of Women Voters were invited either.

“Monday’s event is nothing more than a sham hearing that is really a campaign road show for Mark Green,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “It’s bad enough that Republicans are bringing Washington corruption to Wisconsin to try to teach us about clean elections. What’s even worse is that Bob Ney – one of Jack Abramoff’s lieutenants who is under federal investigation – is leading the show.”

It’s no surprise that Green has requested that Ney bring his congressional committee to Wisconsin to help out his campaign for Governor, Wineke said. Green has a close relationship with Ney’s political patron – the indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – and has taken more than $30,000 in tainted money from DeLay to use in his bid for governor. Although he could get rid of the DeLay money today if he wanted to, Green has refused to do so, coming up with excuse after excuse. Ney has also taken almost $25,000 from DeLay, and both Ney and Green vote with DeLay more than 90 percent of the time.

Green’s campaign manager Mark Graul also has close ties to the indicted Washington lobbyist Abramoff. As Green’s Washington chief of staff, Graul repeatedly took skybox ticket freebies from Abramoff’s firm, and when asked about it, tried to cover it up.

Ney is not only a close associate of DeLay, but also of Abramoff. Ney accepted many favors from Abramoff, including campaign contributions, dinners at the lobbyist’s D.C. restaurant, skybox fundraisers, and a golfing junket to Scotland in 2002, according to the Washington Post. Ney is under investigation by Florida federal prosecutors who are looking into Abramoff’s acquisition of a Florida casino boat company. Abramoff is facing fraud charges in that case. [Washington Post, 10/18/2005].

“You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep,” Wineke said. “By keeping company with the likes of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Bob Ney in Washington, Mark Green has shown the people of Wisconsin his true colors.”


Great Press Release, Joe!

Bush Approval Even Lower in WI:

According to Survey USA, only 36 percent of Wisconsinites approve of the President’s job performance – an approval rating even lower than the latest national numbers. Yesterday’s poll by CNN/USA Today has the President at a 39 percent approval rating nationwide.

“Republican lawmakers who walked lock-step with this President on his failed Iraq policy and ignored repeated calls for energy reform better prepare for some tough questions when they go to the doors of voters next year,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin families are fed up with the failed leadership of President Bush and Republicans in Congress.”

Wineke said recent polls show that the people of Wisconsin are becoming increasingly upset with President Bush over rising energy costs, his failure in Iraq, record federal deficits, his failure to extend the MILC program for Wisconsin dairy farmers, and the federal government’s failure to respond swiftly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“How many polls will it take for Republicans both in Washington and Madison to realize that their to-do list doesn’t match the priorities of the people of Wisconsin?” Wineke asked. “People are worried about how they’re going to adjust family budgets to pay for skyrocketing gas and home heating prices, and why their health insurance premiums are going up again this year.”


Bucher Prosecutes Alleged Felon for Voting - the catch: She had a valid ID!

How will Voter ID stop this? It won't. Are we going to list if someone is a felon on their driver's licence? If so, that goes right back to using ID for gun purchases...

On election day, Mitchell-Frazier filled out a voter registration card and voted at Prairie Elementary School, the complaint says. It states she listed a valid Wisconsin driver's license on her voter registration application.


Government Allows Troops to Gamble Away Their Pay, in Military-Owned Slot Machines

Military gambling is a big business. About $2 billion flows through military-owned slot machines at officers' clubs, activities centers and bowling alleys on overseas bases each year. Most flows back out as jackpots, but 6 percent remains with the house, about the same ratio as in Las Vegas.

Each year, the armed forces take in more than $120 million from on-base slot machines and $7 million from Army bingo games at home. These funds help pay for recreational programs for the troops.

But even military researchers have acknowledged that the armed forces are heavily populated by people who, like Aaron Walsh, may be especially vulnerable to gambling addiction: athletic, risk-taking young people who are experiencing severe stress and anxiety.

Slot machines have been a fixture of military life for decades. They were banned from domestic military bases in 1951, after a series of scandals. They were removed from Army and Air Force bases in 1972, after more than a dozen people were court-martialed for skimming cash from slot machines in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

But 1,500 machines remained on Navy and Marine Corps bases overseas after that scandal, and in 1980, the Army and Air Force started to restore the machines at many of their overseas bases. The Marine Corps and Navy slot machine programs are now run by the Army; the Air Force still runs its own program.

Today, there are approximately 4,150 modern video slot machines at military bases in nine countries, according to Mr. Isaacs and an Air Force spokesman.


Pentagon Deceives Soldiers Boost Re-enlistment - Bonuses Offered Are Not Paid

The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).

The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.

“This is outrageous,” the senator said in a telephone interview. “It makes me angry that this administration has broken another promise to our troops.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses.

The decision to cancel the bonuses had caused “tremendous uncertainty” among Guard members who had been counting on the money after they decided to re-enlist, Murray said in her August letter.


NYT on Voter ID (Is the Wisconsin Republican Party Trying to Establish Jim Crow in WI?):

Abolishing the Poll Tax Again

Critics of Georgia's new voter-identification law, which forces many citizens to pay $20 or more for the documentation necessary to vote, have called it a modern-day poll tax, intended to keep blacks and poor people from voting. A federal judge supported these claims yesterday and blocked the law from taking effect. Instead of continuing to defend the statute in court, Georgia should remove this throwback to the days of Jim Crow from its lawbooks.

Georgia Republicans, who get few votes from African-American voters, pushed a bill through the Legislature this year imposing the nation's toughest voter-identification requirements. When it was passed, most of the state's black legislators walked out of the Capitol. Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr., urged the governor to veto it. Under the new law, voters with driver's licenses were not inconvenienced. But it put up huge obstacles for voters without licenses, who are disproportionately poor and black. Most of them would have to get official state picture-identification cards and pay processing fees of $20 or more. Incredibly - beyond the cost imposed on such voters - there was not a single office in Atlanta where the identification cards were for sale.

Republicans claimed the law was intended to prevent fraud, but that was just a pretext. According to Georgia's secretary of state, Cathy Cox, in recent years there have been no documented cases of fraud through voter impersonation. There have been complaints about the misuse of absentee ballots, Ms. Cox says, but the new law actually loosened the antifraud protections that apply to them. Clearly, Georgia Republicans supported the law because they believed that making it harder for blacks and poor people to vote would help their electoral chances.

The League of Women Voters of Georgia, the N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights and voting rights groups sued. In a lengthy and hard-hitting opinion, Judge Harold Murphy of Federal District Court enjoined the state from enforcing the law. He relied in part on the 24th Amendment, which banned the old racist requirement that citizens pay poll taxes before being allowed to vote in federal elections.

At least one Georgia state senator is vowing to appeal, if necessary, all the way to the Supreme Court. That would send an ugly message about the state of American democracy. In the civil rights era, Southern states had to be told again and again by federal courts not to try to stop their black citizens from voting. It is shameful that in 2005, Georgia needs to be told again.


AMEN NYT!!!!!!

They get it 100% correct:

But successful companies do more than squeeze workers' pay and benefits. G.M. has to make cars that people want to buy. And policy makers in Washington also have to play a role. Our automakers compete with countries with national health care, like Japan and Germany. Lawmakers need to get it through their heads that health care reform isn't about handouts as much as competitiveness.


Illegal Activities in the State Republican Caucaus...

Republican legislative leaders voted tohire two law firms to defend two lawmakers the state attorney general says hid drafts of a bill that would let Wisconsinites carry concealed weapons. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager sued state Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, and Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, in September. She accused them of providing a copy of the bill to a National Rifle Association lobbyist but refusing the Justice Department's public records request for the draft.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Organization mailed ballots to its members last week asking them to authorize hiring the law firm of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek to represent Zien and the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich to represent Gunderson.

The Republican-controlled committee voted 6-4 along party lines to hire the firms, with the last ballots arriving Tuesday. The ballot didn't set any limits for how much the Legislature would pay the firms.

Neither Gunderson nor Zien immediately returned messages The Associated Press left at their Capitol and district offices Tuesday.

Republican legislators introduced the concealed weapon legislation late last month.


Who is supposed to be writing law, Zien or the NRA? Who was on the ballot?

A Must Read - America to Iraq: Do As I Say, Not As I Do:

A delegation of Iraqi judges and journalists abruptly left the U.S. today, cutting short its visit to study the workings of American democracy. A delegation spokesman said the Iraqis were "bewildered" by some of the behavior of the Bush administration and felt it was best to limit their exposure to the U.S. system at this time, when Iraq is taking its first baby steps toward democracy.

The lead Iraqi delegate, Muhammad Mithaqi, a noted secular Sunni judge who had recently survived an assassination attempt by Islamist radicals, said that he was stunned when he heard President Bush telling Republicans that one reason they should support Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court was because of "her religion." She is described as a devout evangelical Christian.

Mithaqi said that after two years of being lectured to by U.S. diplomats in Baghdad about the need to separate "mosque from state" in the new Iraq, he was also floored to read that the former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, now a law school dean, said on the radio show of the conservative James Dobson that Miers deserved support because she was "a very, very strong Christian [who] should be a source of great comfort and assistance to people in the households of faith around the country."

"Now let me get this straight," Judge Mithaqi said. "You are lecturing us about keeping religion out of politics, and then your own president and conservative legal scholars go and tell your public to endorse Miers as a Supreme Court justice because she is an evangelical Christian.

"How would you feel if you picked up your newspapers next week and read that the president of Iraq justified the appointment of an Iraqi Supreme Court justice by telling Iraqis: 'Don't pay attention to his lack of legal expertise. Pay attention to the fact that he is a Muslim fundamentalist and prays at a Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosque.' Is that the Iraq you sent your sons to build and to die for? I don't think so. We can't have our people exposed to such talk."

A fellow delegation member, Abdul Wahab al-Unfi, a Shiite lawyer who walks with a limp today as a result of torture in a Saddam prison, said he did not want to spend another day in Washington after listening to the Bush team defend its right to use torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfi said he was heartened by the fact that the Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban U.S. torture of military prisoners. But he said he was depressed by reports that the White House might veto the bill because of that amendment, which would ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of P.O.W.'s.

"I survived eight years of torture under Saddam," Unfi said. "Virtually every extended family in Iraq has someone who was tortured or killed in a Baathist prison. Yet, already, more than 100 prisoners of war have died in U.S. custody. How is that possible from the greatest democracy in the world? There must be no place for torture in the future Iraq. We are going home now because I don't want our delegation corrupted by all this American right-to-torture talk."

Finally, the delegation member Sahaf al-Sahafi, editor of one of Iraq's new newspapers, said he wanted to go home after watching a televised videoconference last Thursday between soldiers in Iraq and President Bush. The soldiers, 10 Americans and an Iraqi, were coached by a Pentagon aide on how to respond to Mr. Bush.

"I had nightmares watching this," Sahafi said. "It was right from the Saddam playbook. I was particularly upset to hear the Iraqi sergeant major, Akeel Shakir Nasser, tell Mr. Bush: 'Thank you very much for everything. I like you.' It was exactly the kind of staged encounter that Saddam used to have with his troops."

Sahafi said he was also floored to see the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, declare that a Bush administration contract that paid Armstrong Williams, a supposedly independent commentator, to promote Mr. Bush's No Child Left Behind policy constituted illegal propaganda - an attempt by the government to buy good press.

"Saddam bought and paid journalists all over the Arab world," Sahafi said. "It makes me sick to see even a drop of that in America."

By coincidence, the Iraqi delegates departed Washington just as the Bush aide Karen Hughes returned from the Middle East. Her trip was aimed at improving America's image among Muslims by giving them a more accurate view of America and President Bush. She said, "The more they know about us, the more they will like us."

(Yes, all of this is a fake news story. I just wish that it weren't so true.)


Dowd wonderfully points out Bush's contradictions on Miers...

I was just coming to grips with the idea that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't need to have any experience for the job.

Now it turns out that a Supreme Court nominee doesn't even need to always be a lawyer in good standing.

Harriet Miers shared a little secret about herself on her application to be an associate justice: "Earlier this year, I received notice that my dues for the District of Columbia bar were delinquent and as a result, my ability to practice law in D.C. had been suspended."

Ms. Miers, then the White House counsel, remedied the situation after she got the letter. But weren't the Bush spinners making a case for her by reporting that she was really great at managing the paper flow when she was the president's staff secretary?

Now we discover that she could be such a scatterbrain about paperwork that a little tiny thing like being able to legally practice law slipped her mind while she was serving as the lawyer for the leader of the free world?

There was another odd, unfocused episode with the Republican senator Arlen Specter this week. He said that he and Ms. Miers had talked privately on Monday and that she had expressed support for two Supreme Court rulings that established a right to privacy and are viewed as the foundation for Roe v. Wade.

Before Ms. Miers could even forget her bar dues again, the White House said that Senator Specter was mistaken, and Ms. Miers called to tell him so. Mr. Specter was willing to say he'd misunderstood, and will surely want to clear all this up in the hearings.

First the White House tried to make Ms. Miers seem more conservative by peddling her pedigree as a member of an ultraconservative evangelical church to its right-wing base. When injecting religion into the hearings backfired, officials started backpedaling and saying she shouldn't be asked about her faith, even though the president himself had said that her faith was a big part of her appeal.



Another 'Jeff Hall' sighting...

Up to 2,000 gallons of fuel oil leaked from a valve, mostly onto the ground, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall.

Click in headline for link...

Bush continues polling free fall...

President Bush's job approval rating continues to plummet, with 39 percent of Americans surveyed in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll supporting his performance, compared to 58 percent expressing disapproval.

The approval rating was the lowest the poll has recorded during Bush's presidency, down from 45 percent in a survey taken September 26-28, and the disapproval rating was up from 50 percent.


Only the rats are left on that ship...

I thought judges were not supposed to be political...

That is why they said Roberts was good...

Re: Mieres - Sen. David Vitter, R-La., issued a statement saying, “My top questions are: does she have a consistent and well-grounded conservative judicial philosophy and what objective evidence is there of it from her life’s work?”


An Idea on Voter ID

This came to me in the shower this morning (where all good thought seems to arrive):

Dems should sign on to Voter ID- if and only if the Repubs mandate this new ID standard to be used for background checks for gun purchases and stores and shows.

If this is truly about making sure felons do not vote, then it is perfect for keeping guns out of criminal hands as well.

When they uproar that this will limit gun rights, you will see that truth - they are not in this to protect the vote - they are in this fight to limit the votes of elderly, transient poor and college students.

Joe Wineke likes to tell the story about the meeting of 300 students he attended. He asked them to take out their driver's licenses and stand if the license showed their current address.

2 people stood up.

Voter ID is a partisan sham - we should fight back with a sham just as blatant to point out the hypocrisy inherent in their stand.

There's the challenge for a Dem member of the assembly to amend the Voter ID law when it next comes to the floor.

Or tack that on to the next concealed carry bill they try to shove through.

Just Pointing Out

I recieved a mail solicitation from the United Farm Workers yesterday.

It wasn't even printed by a union.

If you don't support your fellows, who will support you?

Florida, Ohio, Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 17 - Iraqi election officials said Monday that they were investigating "unusually high" vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many as 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq's new constitution. The investigation raised the possibility that the results of the referendum could be called into question.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of the referendum on Saturday would have to be delayed "a few days" because the apparently high number of "yes" votes required election workers to "recheck, compare and audit" the results.

Some Sunni leaders said the lopsided votes suggested fraud. Mishaan al-Jubouri, a National Assembly member and Sunni leader, said he favored a thorough investigation.

The Shiite and Kurdish political parties in power "were filling out forms and stuffing them into boxes," he said in an interview. "They were also voting in the names of those who hadn't come to vote."

Mr. Jubouri said that monitors in several southern provinces, for example, reported modest voter turnout in their polling centers, but that after the polls closed, officials released overall turnout figures there that appeared to be extraordinarily high. They included results from the predominantly Shiite provinces of Najaf, Karbala and Wasit, he said.

Some centers did not even have 20 or 30 percent voter turnout, he said.

"This gives an impression that the process wasn't transparent," he added.

In the weeks leading up to the referendum, some Shiite leaders expressed fears that the constitution could be defeated by a combination of a high Sunni turnout and a low Shiite one. To address those concerns, the National Assembly quietly passed a measure that changed the way votes were counted, lowering the threshold for passage of the constitution.

Under intense international pressure, the assembly rescinded the measure shortly before the referendum.

To guard against the possibility of fraud and intimidation, the commission deployed 57,000 election observers, drawn from local aid groups, and 120 representatives of political parties.

Mahmood Othaman, a Kurdish member of the National Assembly, said the monitors were largely partisans themselves, leaving very few objective safeguards in place.

In the Kurdish areas, the makeup of the teams effectively put the two main Kurdish parties in charge. "I expected these things," Dr. Othaman said. "I said it all along. If there is no census, and no outside observers, you can expect this.



Abstinence Only Education Does Not Work:

There may be a sillier strategy for dealing with sex among teens than promoting the choice of "abstinence-only-until-marriage," but I am not quite sure what it is. Not only is such an approach contradicted by everything that medicine and science know about teens and sex, but it flies directly in the face of everything all ordinary Americans know about teens and sex.

Recent surveys show that 70 percent of U.S. teens have engaged in oral sex by the time they reach 18, and more than 45 percent have had intercourse at least once. More than 70 percent of young women and 80 percent of young men approve of premarital sex, according to a study published recently in the Review of General Psychology.

In addition, studies show sexually transmitted diseases are spreading at an alarming rate among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly half of the nation's new cases of STDs each year occur among adolescents and young adults. A recent study found that teens who took pledges of virginity as part of abstinence-only sex ed classes ultimately had STD rates similar to other young people and were less likely to use contraception or other forms of protection when they did become sexually active.

In short, the idea that teens will remain celibate until they marry — and that they don't need information about sex — says much more about the values and fantasies of the people who are promoting these policies than it does about teens.


HOUSTON - Abstinence-only sex education programs, a major plank in President George W. Bush’s education plan, have had no impact on teenagers’ behavior in his home state of Texas, according to a new study.

Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

“We didn’t see any strong indications that these programs were having an impact in the direction desired,” said Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed the study.

“These programs seem to be much more concerned about politics than kids, and we need to get over that,” he said.


Judith Miller Applies for Job as Texas Judge:

New York Times reporter Judith Miller says she told a federal grand jury she could not recall where she heard name of the covert CIA officer whose cover was blown, even though she jotted it down in her notebook.

Miller wrote down "Valerie Flame."

"I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled," Miller said in a first-person account for her newspaper published Sunday.

Fitzgerald has been gathering evidence on conversations between Libby, vice presidential chief of staff, and Miller.

Wow - this guy can do it all:

running back James Doyle had 293 yards on 87 carries.


He must have done that right after vetoing Patient Abandonment - all in all a great Friday.

Let's suit him up for the Packers after the bye!

Did he really say that?

Joe did a great job of turning an attack on Gov. Doyle back at Mark Green in this article.

In essence - Doyle has accepted some money from out of Wisconsin - Joe responds:

As for the amount of out-of-state fundraising collected, Wineke said the vast majority of Doyle’s campaign funds come from within Wisconsin. Money received from out-of-state entities makes up about 14 percent of contributions the Doyle campaign received from January to June of 2005.“

Jim Doyle is a national leader in stem-cell research, reproductive rights [and] the issue of the right to vote,” Wineke said. “And it’s not a shock that Democrats across the country would support him — that’s not exactly something I would lose sleep over.”

Green himself is guilty of questionable campaign finance practices, Wineke alleged.

“Mark Green transferred $1.3 million from his federal account and my guess is 80 percent of that didn’t come from Wisconsin,” he said.

Great argument, well said and we do have the documentation to back it up - Way to go Joe.

How does Mark Green's campaign manager respond:

“Joe Wineke is a big fat liar,” Graul said

That sure is some great debate technique!


This is scary and over the line:

Washington, DC — The National Park Service has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions, according to an agency directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.

The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots (Government Service grades or GS-13, 14 and 15) include the “ability to lead employees in achieving the …Secretary’s 4Cs and the President’s Management Agenda.” In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and “the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks,” the number three political appointee in the agency.

The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.

The President’s Management Agenda includes controversial policies and proposals such as aggressive use of outsourcing to replace civil servants, reliance on “faith-based initiatives” and rollbacks of civil service rights. Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s “4Cs” is a slogan she uses to express her management approach: “4 Cs: communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation.”

“It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.

“The merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing.”

The order applies to all hires for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers, such as chief ranger or the head of interpretive or cultural programs. Overall, the policy applies to more than 1,000 mid-level management and supervisory positions in the Park Service.

“Presidents come and go but the civil service is designed to serve whoever occupies the swivel chair in the Oval Office,” Ruch added. “It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee.”


Walker's Budget Mess (Glad we have Harris, a responsible budgeter!)

Joel McNally: Walker dreams of failing to pay whole nation's bills

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker believes if he budgets what it costs to run his county, the terrorists will have won.

Someone has to take a stand against fiscal responsibility in local government and Walker is just the guy to do it.

As a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, Walker dreams of failing to pay his own bills at higher and higher levels.

The sky's the limit. One day a President Scott Walker could propose a $200 billion hurricane relief program and spending hundreds of billions on an endless war while continuing to cut the taxes of the richest people in America.

Walker's philosophy of government is incredibly simple: Not paying your bills is easy. It's coming up with the money to pay your bills that's hard.

In politics, coming up with the money to pay your bills is not only hard, but it also makes you very unpopular. The way government pays its bills is by raising taxes. And politicians who raise taxes are unpopular.

The last thing Walker wants to do is raise taxes and be unpopular when he's running for governor. So he submitted a county budget that doesn't raise property taxes one bit.

Walker's budget also leaves out the money to pay for a few little things. It shortchanges the amount needed to fund the county pension system by $27 million. It also leaves out money to pay 25 percent of the staff for the county's courts.

This isn't the first time deadbeat Walker has failed to pay his bills. Now those bills are coming back to him with all kinds of penalties and interest. It's a downward spiral that eventually leads to what Bruce Springsteen calls "debts no honest man can pay."

One of the more compelling reasons for Walker to run for governor is to try to beat it out of town before this entire shaky financial house of cards comes tumbling down.

You have to wonder how long deadbeats think they can avoid any consequences at all for failing to meet their financial obligations. Politicians count on fooling all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time.

It helps if you have the ability to look clear-eyed into a TV camera and exude sincerity. When you learn to fake that, you have it made.


Are Conservative Judges Just Not Smart?

Either that or they have brain defects that make them forget last week...

What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

Judge Kinkeade, through his secretary, declined to discuss the matter. Justice Hecht told me he remembers participating in the call but can't recollect who invited him or many specifics about it. He said he did tell the group that Ms. Miers was "pro-life," a characterization he has repeated in public. But he says that when someone asked him about her stand on overturning Roe v. Wade he answered, "I don't know." He doesn't recall what Judge Kinkeade said. But several people who participated in the call confirm that both jurists stated Ms. Miers would vote to overturn Roe.


Herbert's Advice to Democrats

Democrats need to tell the country the truth about taxes, about the benefits of investing in the nation's physical infrastructure, about the essential need to bolster public education from kindergarten through college, and about the shared sacrifices that will be necessary if anything approaching energy independence is to be achieved.

They need to be optimistic and hopeful as they deliver their message to the country, explaining that all of these things are doable, that they will strengthen the U.S. in the short term and create a better future for the next generation and the one after that.


I agree.

The Great Paul Krugman on Jobs, Pay and Executive Priorities...

In 1999 Delphi, the parts division of General Motors, was spun off as an independent company. Now Delphi has filed for bankruptcy. Its chief executive, Robert S. Miller, wants the company's workers to accept drastic wage cuts, from an average hourly wage rate of about $27 to as little as $10 an hour.

There are a lot of questions about how Delphi and the auto industry in general reached this point. Why were large severance packages given to Delphi executives even as the company demanded wage cuts? Why, when General Motors was profitable, did it pay big dividends but fail to put in enough money to secure its workers' pensions?

But Delphi's bankruptcy is a much bigger deal than your ordinary case of corporate failure and bad, self-dealing management. If Delphi slashes wages and defaults on its pension obligations, the rest of the auto industry may well be tempted - or forced - to do the same. And that will mark the end of the era in which ordinary working Americans could be part of the middle class.

There was a time when the American economy offered lots of good jobs - jobs that didn't make workers rich but did give them middle-class incomes. The best of these good jobs were at America's great manufacturing companies, especially in the auto industry.

But it has been a generation since most American workers could count on sharing in the nation's economic growth. America is a much richer country than it was 30 years ago, but since the early 1970's the hourly wage of the typical worker has barely kept up with inflation.

The contrast between rising national wealth and stagnant wages has become even more extreme lately. In 2004, which was touted both by the Bush administration and by Wall Street as a year in which the economy boomed, the median real income of full-time, year-round male workers fell more than 2 percent.


David Hayford Finally Admits He Has No Idea What He Is Talking About:

Now, I don't know this person, and am making no aspirations other than from the words he has chosen to submit to the Northwestern and the Post-Crescent, where he has chosen to make himself the posterchild for no sales tax.

In previous writings, he has asserted that the county added over 200 positions, which was incorrect. He admits that he does not live in Winnebago County, and therefore does not contribute tax revenue currently.

Then today he adds in this:

I have not studied the budget details, so am unable to make specific suggestions.


That is the problem with the anti-tax yellers, they have not studied (or in most cases even looked at) the budget. They, in effect, have no idea what they are talking about.

Noone wants a new tax. In this case, however, it is nessasary to make sure we can cover expenses.

Great Meirs/Bush Cartoon:



Sheriff: Without Sales Tax, Budget Cuts Will Make County Less Safe

Law enforcement cuts called for in Winnebago County’s executive budget would result in “cheap, inefficient” services that could hamper the ability of officers to keep the public safe, Winnebago County Sheriff Michael Brooks said.

Citizens could expect longer waits for officers in the event of crime, fewer officers patrolling to keep local highways safe and delays for completion of investigations, Brooks said.

“I believe it would be irresponsible to reduce our staffing levels to those included in the county executive’s 0 percent increase budget,” Brooks wrote.

He said a two-officer reduction to the detective bureau would make caseloads unmanageable for remaining detectives, and force them to prioritize their investigations. Patrol cuts would slow response and limit ability to spend the proper amount of time investigating cases, he wrote.

“I just think that’s a sad state of affairs,” Brooks said.

“The first priority is public safety, or should be public safety,” Brooks said.

Harris would recommend adding more than $1 million to the sheriff’s department budget for 17 positions if a half-percent sales tax was passed, according to the budget message.

Winnebago County Sheriff Michael Brooks reports that proposed budget cuts to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department would:

Eliminate the department’s boat patrol, thereby increasing response times when emergencies occur on the water.

Eliminate DARE and GREAT school-based crime prevention programs, and the community liaison, crime prevention officer position that administers numerous community programs.
Reduce the detective bureau by two officers, leaving overburdened, remaining officers to prioritize between highly solvable property crimes and more difficult, but more serious violent cases.

Reduce patrol by four officers, resulting in response delays, lesser highway patrol and decreased officer safety

Source: Oct. 11 letter from Brooks to Winnebago County supervisors


Northwestern Editorial Off-Base

We also think that, after cuts are made, the county needs to look at how to raise revenues without raising the taxes of property owners.


Dear Northwestern - Mr. Harris is not trying to increase taxes on homeowners - he is proposing to cut property taxes. He is trying to raise revenue for essential services and hold down property taxes at the same time.

He’s also overlooking the potential savings of privatizing Park View Health Center. Health care costs are too big a burden on a county budget with severe spending restrictions for the next two years. County government probably will have some financial ties to helping its most indigent, but that doesn’t mean it has to run the physical plant.

I guess I can understand the point the Northwerstern is making here. Afterall, they chose not to attend the educational session at the library where a member of the Eau Claire county board outlined why privatizing the nursing home actually cost the taxpayers a higher amount and reduced service.

Yet, the Northwestern endorses a 1.3 million dollar tax increase for the city of Oshkosh:

Let’s have our Oshkosh Common Council give serious discussion to privatizing the garbage service and removing it as a city cost altogether. The city budget for garbage collection in 2005 is about $1.3 million that could become a huge savings in 2006.


All this proposes is removing 1.3 million dollars from tax roles to fees. The 1.3 million can then be still charged as tax for other city needs, and collected as garbage fees for a required service. This is merely a shell game. It is not as if the city will allow you to save that money by piling up your garbage in your back yard.

Final Thought: The Northwestern needs to be more consistant and proactive in it's matter of covering the links between fees, taxes and service.