RIP Bowie:

Bowie was a member of the Oshkosh Rugby Football Club and a great guy. He will be missed.

Brian R. Bowers

Brian R. Bowers, 40 of Oshkosh, died at his home after a courageous and inspirational battle with cancer on Thursday, December 15, 2005. He was born in
Milwaukee, on October 2, 1965, a son of Ronald and Diane Schwantes Bowers. Brian married Jill Braun on January 13, 1996 in Oshkosh.

Brian graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh, and was a member of St. Raphael's Catholic Church. He was employed with United Parcel Service. Brian was an avid hunter and fisherman, played Rugby, and built a cabin on land up north, on Mars Lake. Above all he loved being with his daughter Kendall.

Survivors include his wife Jill of Oshkosh; one daughter, Kendall Bowers, Oshkosh; parents, Ronald Bowers, Elcho, WI; and Diane Wheat, Hortonville; one sister Dawn (Dan) Kunda, Adell, WI; paternal grandfather, Ed Bowers, Menomonee Falls; maternal grandparents, Elroy and Frances Schwantes, West Bend.

Funeral services will be held at the Konrad-Behlman Funeral Home- Eastside on Sunday, December 18, 2005 at 4:00 p.m., with Fr. Doug Le Captain officiating. Family and friends may call at the funeral home Sunday from noon to the time of service. A memorial has been established to fund the college education expenses
for his daughter, Kendall.

Thank you to all our family and friends who supported him through his battle.

Konrad-Behlman Funeral Home
402 Waugoo Ave.


Quote of the Day:

Courtesy of the Journal's Spivak & Bice

"Mark Green has this huge amount of egg on his face caused by the fact that he wanted to attack the governor on property taxes and he got a $309 reduction,"
said a gleeful
Joe Wineke, state Democratic Party boss. Never known for his restraint when stomping on a Republican, Wineke added, "Nobody could be that dumb."

Big News on a Major Oshkosh Issue


(I am not being sarcastic - I love Taco John's - I used to work aroung the corner from the one in Appleton - had lunch there 2 times a week)

Way to go with the scoop Streetwise!

(Now update a little more)

Petri Votes to Authorize Patriot Act

Thank God for Russ Feingold:

Bush authorized NSA to spy on Americans
Agency has monitored hundreds within U.S. since 9/11, newspaper reports

The National Security Agency has eavesdropped, without warrants, on as many 500 people inside the United States at any given time since 2002, The New York Times reported Friday.

That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States, the Times reported.


Great Press Release...

I am continuing to be amazed by the research and message efforts of the state party - Great Job!

DPW: Wineke Sends Walker Examples of Property Tax Bill Reductions

CONTACT: Jessica Erickson, Communications Director, 608-260-2406

Walker’s Own Campaign Manager Saw a $145 Reduction, While His Republican
Opponent Mark Green’s Tax Bill Went Down More Than $300

MADISON – In response to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s challenge last month to Governor Doyle to produce an average property tax bill anywhere in the state not increasing next year, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke today sent Walker some examples of bill reductions, including for members of Walker’s staff and even his Republican opponent Mark Green.

In his letter to Walker, Wineke said he was happy to report that an analysis released this week by the State Budget Office shows that Wisconsin residents across the state will see dramatic property tax relief under Governor Doyle’s property tax freeze. In fact, the report even shows that Wisconsin taxpayers fare better under the Governor’s responsible freeze than the Republican plan.

“If you refuse to believe the facts of this report, I suggest that you look across your campaign office at your campaign manager Bruce Pfaff, whose property taxes went down $145.27 this year – a reduction of almost 3.5 percent,” Wineke said. “Or you could ask your chief of staff Jim Villa for a copy of his tax bill, which went down $2. Even better, you could check in with your unpaid campaign spokesman Mark Belling, who will tell you that his property taxes went down a whopping $448.58 this year.”

If he is still not convinced, Wineke said Walker should ask to see a copy of the property tax bill for his opponent Mark Green, whose taxes went down by $308.90 – a reduction of 5.61 percent. Earlier this week, Green’s campaign showed it wasn’t ready for primetime by criticizing the Governor for failing to deliver on reducing property taxes, when Green himself saw a reduction of more than $300.

Even more Republican critics of the Governor are saving big because of Doyle’s property tax freeze:

· Joint Finance Committee Chair Dean Kaufert saw his property tax bill drop 4.42 percent, a savings of $172.67.
· Senate President Alan Lasee’s property tax bill decreased by 4.54 percent, a savings of $160.
· Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz’s bill dropped 3.53 percent, saving him $86.05.
· The co-authors of the TABOR bill both saw their bills drop, saving Senator Mary Lazich $20.47 and Representative Frank Lasee $14.80.
· Senate President Pro Tempore David Zien’s property tax bill plummeted almost 10 percent, saving him $537.68.
· Other members of the Joint Finance Committee saw significant savings. Rep. Scott Jensen’s bill dropped almost 8 percent, saving him $345.01, while Rep. Jeff Stone saved $361.69 on his property tax bill. Rep. Kitty Rhoades saw a savings of almost 7 percent, a $247.45 reduction, while Senator Robert Cowles saved $24.70 on his property tax bill.

The following additional Republican co-sponsors of TABOR all saw their property taxes go down: Rep. Don Pridemore, Rep. Ann Nischke, Rep. Scott Suder, Rep. Terry Musser, and Senator Tom Reynolds.

In addition, the following Republicans saved on their property tax bills due to Governor Doyle’s freeze: Rep. Mark Gottlieb, Senator Ron Brown, Congressman Tom Petri, Rep. Al Ott, Rep. Judy Krawczyk, Rep. Garey Bies, Congressman Paul Ryan, Senator Glenn Grothman, and Senator Cathy Stepp.

“It is time that Republicans stop complaining and thank the Governor for delivering on real, meaningful property tax relief,” Wineke said. “The reality is Governor Doyle’s property tax freeze is holding the line on property taxes across the state, and many homeowners like Bruce Pfaff, Mark Belling, and Mark Green will actually see their bills go down.”

Altercation Gives Russ the 'Quote of the Day':

Quote of the Day: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), the lone Senator who voted against the Patriot Act when it was originally considered in 2001, appeared on C-SPAN at 8:00 am ET to discuss where things stand on re-authorization. He said he could not support the version of the Patriot Act currently before the Senate because it makes "essentially the same mistake" as the original legislation.

When a very angry caller asked Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI): "If we have another terrorist attack, are you going to say 'it's my damn fault?'"

Feingold answered: "Good morning to Texas."

Sen. William Proxmire dead at 90


Support Our Troops:

"Too little has been said about the responsibility of the state to the soldier. This goes beyond the obligation for the soldier's welfare if he is wounded or when he retires. It goes beyond the obligation for the care and support of his dependents. The state has a more fundamental obligation to look to the justice and wisdom of the cause in which the soldier is committed."

Sen. Eugene McCarthy, 1975

Bob Hebert has a column on him here.

Well Said, Northwestern:

The Final Thought: Wisconsin will not land jobs of the future if it continues to ignore its core economic and budget weaknesses and focus on secondary, divisive political issues.


Bubble Boy....

Maureen Dowd in the NY Times:

Never ask a guy who's in a bubble if he's in a bubble. He can't answer.

'Cause he's in a bubble.

But the NBC anchor Brian Williams gamely gave it a shot, showing the president the Newsweek cover picturing him trapped in a bubble.

"This says you're in a bubble," Brian told W. "You have a very small circle of advisers now. Is that true? Do you feel in a bubble?"

"No, I don't feel in a bubble," Bubble Boy replied, unable to see the bubble because he's in it. "I feel like I'm getting really good advice from very capable people and that people from all walks of life have informed me and informed those who advise me." He added, "I'm very aware of what's going on."

He swiftly contradicted himself by admitting that "this is the first time I'm seeing this magazine" - his version of his dad's Newsweek "Wimp Factor" cover - and that he doesn't read newsmagazines.


Brian struggled to learn whether W. read anything except one-page memos. Talking about his mom, Bubble Boy returned to the idea of the bubble: "If I'm in a bubble, well, if there is such thing as a bubble, she's the one who can penetrate it."

"I'll tell the guys at Newsweek," the anchor said impishly.

"Is that who put the bubble story?" W. asked. First he didn't know about it, and now he's forgotten it already? That's the alluring, memory-cleansing beauty of the bubble.


"Whether or not it needed to happen," the president told the anchor, "I'm still convinced it needed to happen." The Bubble Boy can even contradict himself and not notice.


The president's bubble requires constant care. It's not easy to keep out huge tragedies like Katrina, or flawed policies like Iraq. As Newsweek noted, a foreign diplomat "was startled when Secretary of State Rice warned him not to lay bad news on the president. 'Don't upset him,' she said."

UW Madison Requiring Union-Made

Companies who manufacture officially licensed apparel products will be required to purchase at least 25 percent of their goods from factories that allow some form of unionization for workers, under UW-Madison’s pilot program, Chancellor John Wiley announced Tuesday.


What a load of hooey...

I'm watching the Oshkosh Common Council meeting. Esslinger just came out of nowhere with wanting to move the City Manager's contract to 2 years from 3 years.

Now, everyone is talking about the fact that they discussed his contract over the summer, I'm guessing that means 3+ months ago.

Why couldn't Esslinger have mentioned this 'idea' in that time.

Very unprofessional.

John Gard: "Don't Vote for Walker" or "Milwaukee is the Problem With Wisconsin"

Well, Walker - watch what you ask for - you just might get it (it's a good thing he is running for Gov, I'm pretty sure he could never be elected in Milwaukee County again)...

With a vote expected today on ending gas-tax indexing, officials were reacting to a recent statement by Assembly Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo) that "people in Peshtigo have just about had it subsidizing empty buses" in "Scott Walker's bus system" and won't be "pushed to the back of the line" for road funding by Milwaukee.

A good point on the training of Iraqi troops:

From Newsweek:

Bush says U.S. troops can’t leave Iraq until the Iraqis can handle their own security. That may never happen because the Iraqi army is deeply divided on
sectarian lines, each loyal to its own ethnic group. The reality is that American commanders are training Iraqi soldiers to be more efficient in fighting their own civil war when the time comes, which it inevitably will.


How Wal-Mart Ruins Communities

Paul Krugman articulates the argument better than I do:

But it's clear why those concerned about the state of American workers focus their criticism on Wal-Mart. The company isn't just America's largest private employer. It's also a symbol of the state of our economy, which delivers rising G.D.P. but stagnant or falling living standards for working Americans. For Wal-Mart is a huge and hugely profitable company that pays badly and offers minimal benefits.


But instead of resting its case on these honest or at least defensible answers to criticism, Wal-Mart has decided to insult our intelligence by claiming to be, of all things, an engine of job creation. Judging from its press release in response to the religious values campaign, the assertion that Wal-Mart "creates 100,000 jobs a year" is now the core of the company's public relations strategy.

It's true, of course, that the company is getting bigger every year. But adding 100,000 people to Wal-Mart's work force doesn't mean adding 100,000 jobs to the economy. On the contrary, there's every reason to believe that as Wal-Mart expands, it destroys at least as many jobs as it creates, and drives down workers' wages in the process.

Think about what happens when Wal-Mart opens a store in a previously untouched city or county. The new store takes sales away from stores that are already in the area; these stores lay off workers or even go out of business. Because Wal-Mart's big-box stores employ fewer workers per dollar of sales than the smaller stores they replace, overall retail employment surely goes down, not up, when Wal-Mart comes to town. And if the jobs lost come from employers who pay more generously than Wal-Mart does, overall wages will fall when Wal-Mart moves in.

So Wal-Mart has chosen to defend itself with a really poor argument. If that's the best the company can come up with, it's going to keep losing the public relations war with its critics. Maybe it should consider an alternative strategy, such as paying higher wages.

At least thet are willing to admit it...

WIBA sells name of its newsroom to a business

It's been done with stadiums, pools and concert halls. Now, in an unusual move, Madison's WIBA radio station has sold the naming rights to its newsroom.

Beginning Jan. 1, the WIBA newsroom will be called the Amcore Bank News Center.

"This simply means they get 'name branding' with the description of the news center on air," confirmed Jeff Tyler, vice president of Clear Channel Radio-Madison, which owns WIBA-AM 1310 and FM 101.5. "What listeners will hear on air is something like, 'Now from the Amcore Bank News Center, here's WIBA's Jennifer Miller.'• "


Kelly McBride, a journalism ethics trainer for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., opposed the plan. "The idea is that a newsroom is an advocate for the public," McBride said. "It's Madison's news, not Amcore's news. If you
have corporate branding, that is going to taint the whole product as a marketing

Wal-Mart Christmas Carol Lyrics

Click here.


John Tierney on Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays vs 'taking Saturn out of Saturnalia'

Why do some Christians object to the term "holiday tree"?

Because it hides the ancient link between the tree and Christianity, found in an original Christmas gospel:

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon shepherds abiding in the field, and the angel said unto them: "I bring you tidings of great joy. On this Christmas go forth and smite a mighty tree, a Norway spruce with pleasing boughs, and place it in your home, and adorn it with candles and red balls and strands of silver."

And the shepherds were sore afraid and said unto the angel: "What is this spruce you speak of? What is Norway? Wouldst thou allow a small palm tree?"

And the angel said: "Whatever. Only place on its highest point a star of gold, or, better yet, an angel."

Please note, the angel did not call it a holiday tree.

Is that "original Christmas gospel" in the New Testament?

No, but never mind where it comes from. That's the kind of cynicism that's ruining Christmas. As a matter of historical fact, people in the ancient Middle East did put greenery inside their homes in December.

To celebrate the birth of Jesus?

The Egyptians put date palm leaves into their homes to celebrate the return of the sun at the solstice. Romans honored the god of farming with evergreens and gifts during the Saturnalia, their weeklong solstice festival.

Did the Romans say "Happy Holidays" to one another?

No, the traditional greeting was, "Io, Saturnalia" (the first word was pronounced "yo"), which meant roughly, "Ho, praise to Saturn." Scholars suggest that the date of Christmas was picked in the fourth century to coincide with the Roman holiday.

Did Roman pagans complain that Christians were taking Saturn out of Saturnalia?

Perhaps, but in those days there were no conservative all-news channels. The pagans in northern Europe must have complained about their traditional Yule solstice festival. Christians not only co-opted customs like burning a Yule log, but also turned Yule into a synonym for Christmas.

They took the Yule out of Yule?

And put it into Christmas. For all we know, some Norse lumber merchants tried appeasing both pagans and Christians by marketing "holiday logs," but the
term didn't stick.

One way of looking at things:

Frank Rich in the NY Times:

Since we don't get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers' fictions to discern what's really happening.

Mr. Bush's "Plan for Victory" speech was, of course, the usual unadulterated nonsense. Its overarching theme - "We will never accept anything less than complete victory" - was being contradicted even as he spoke by rampant reports of Pentagon plans for stepped-up troop withdrawals between next week's Iraqi elections and the more important (for endangered Republicans) American Election Day of 2006. The specifics were phony, too: Once again inflating the readiness of Iraqi troops, Mr. Bush claimed that the recent assault on Tal Afar "was primarily led by Iraqi security forces" - a fairy tale immediately unmasked by Michael Ware, a Time reporter embedded in that battle's front lines, as "completely wrong." No less an authority than the office of Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, promptly released a 59-page report documenting his own military's inadequate leadership, equipment and training.

What raised the "Plan for Victory" show to new heights of disinformation was the subsequent revelation that the administration's main stated motive for the address - the release of a 35-page document laying out a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" - was as much a theatrical prop as the stunt turkey the president posed with during his one furtive visit to Baghdad two Thanksgivings ago.

As breathlessly heralded by Scott McClellan, this glossy brochure was "an unclassified version" of the strategy in place since the war's inception in "early 2003." But Scott Shane of The New York Times told another story. Through a few keystrokes, the electronic version of the document at whitehouse.gov could be manipulated to reveal text "usually hidden from public view." What turned up was the name of the document's originating author: Peter Feaver, a Duke political scientist who started advising the National Security Council only this June. Dr. Feaver is an expert on public opinion about war, not war itself. Thus we now know that what Mr. McClellan billed as a 2003 strategy for military victory is in fact a P.R. strategy in place for no more than six months. That solves the mystery of why Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey of the Army, who is in charge of training Iraqi troops, told reporters that he had never seen this "National Strategy" before its public release last month.

What Would Jesus Do?

Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times:

Do you really think that if Jesus returns to Earth tomorrow, his priority is going to be organizing a boycott of Target stores? You think he's going to appear on Fox to say, 'Worry about genocide and hunger later - first, let's battle with liberals over what holiday greeting to use'?

Irony on the front page...

Did anyone notice the irony on the front page of the Northwestern this week?

It is not their fault, but it was a good statement.

The Northwestern did a great story Teachers at Head of Class:

One elementary and one middle school teacher recently became national board certified teachers and the first two in the Oshkosh school district.

Jacob Shapiro Elementary School third-grade teacher Shirley Rose and Merrill Middle School special education teacher Paul Smith were among 62 teachers in Wisconsin to earn the certification, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

The National Board grants the certification for Professional Teacher Standards. The National Board is a nonprofit organization dedicated to quality teaching.

Earning the certification is a rigorous process involving writing, submitting sample student work, videotaping lessons and an exam, Rose and Smith said.

Along side of this front page article was news of the second passing of the 'No Gay Marriage' Senate vote and impending referendum.

Meanwhile, Paul Smith and his partner, Paine Art Center Executive Director - the 'immoral' people that need to be banned the right to truly be together are fighting this outrage and distraction.

Aaron is the Executive Director of the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, and he serves on the boards of the Oshkosh Area United Way and the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton. Since moving to Wisconsin from Massachusetts in 2002, he and his partner Paul Smith have been vocal advocates for marriage equality.

This is the face of the real people that will be hurt by this. And the quality people that we in Wisconsin will lose.

Today's reading...

In church today, the first reading was from Isaiah 61:

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I think this is a passage for our times. In a time when the ruling (Republican) party runs on keeping 'Christ' in Christmas, keeping 'Gods' laws in relation to banning homosexual marriage, women's health options. All the while cutting the safety net for the poor, increasing the prison population and advocating torture.

Let's remember that when, in the bible, they spoke of Jesus - it was the poor that were the focus. This passage was to let people know who will be helped - the poor, the prisoners and the downtrodden.

Something the remember this Holiday Season....

Newsweek CW outlines it perfectly:

While Medicaid recips must sacrifice health care, House extends tax breaks for the wealthy. Merry Christmas!