Frist Admits Alito is Out of the Mainstreem:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Republican Party activists on Friday night that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats."

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, made the remark to fellow Republicans during a private tour he gave them of the Senate chamber when the Senate was not in session.

Frist was not available for comment following his remarks.


The Continuing Saga of Bad Walker Press Releases:

I know I am being nit-picky here, but this guy is not running a po-dunk blog (like me) he is running for the highest office in the state.

Let's get spelling and grammar right....

Walker's experience as an elected executive shows he get the job done for
Wisconsin's working families
Now did you mean 'shows he will get the job done' or 'shows he gets the job done' or what. You know, simple words and tenses can mean a lot when you are writing bills and laws.

Also, it doesn't make you look like an amateur. Come on Scott Walker, stop obsessing about homosexuality and start running spell check.

Krugman: Lobby and Money Influences Made Medicare Drug Coverage Fail

In today's NYTimes:

The most important problem with the drug bill is that it doesn't offer direct coverage from Medicare. Instead, people must sign up with private plans offered by insurance companies.

This has three bad effects. First, the elderly face wildly confusing choices. Second, costs are high, because the bill creates an extra, unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. Finally, the fragmentation into private plans prevents Medicare from using bulk purchasing to reduce drug prices.

It's all bad, from the public's point of view. But it's good for insurance companies, which get extra business even though they serve no useful function, and it's even better for drug companies, which are able to charge premium prices. So whose interests do you think Mr. Scully and Mr. Tauzin represented?

Who are Scully & Tausin?

Consider the career trajectories of the two men who played the most important role in putting together the Medicare legislation.

Thomas Scully was a hospital industry lobbyist before President Bush appointed him to run Medicare. In that job, Mr. Scully famously threatened to fire his chief actuary if he told Congress the truth about cost projections for the Medicare drug program.

Mr. Scully had good reasons not to let anything stand in the way of the drug bill. He had received a special ethics waiver from his superiors allowing him to negotiate for future jobs with lobbying and investment firms - firms that had a strong financial stake in the form of the bill - while still in public office. He left public service, if that's what it was, almost as soon as the bill was passed, and is once again a lobbyist, now for drug companies.

Meanwhile, Representative Billy Tauzin, the bill's point man on Capitol Hill, quickly left Congress once the bill was passed to become president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the powerful drug industry lobby.

Surely both men's decisions while in office were influenced by the desire to please their potential future employers. And that undue influence explains why the drug legislation is such a mess.

And don't forget - Rep Tom Petri's comments:

Without question the most significant domestic legislative accomplishment in 2003 was congressional passage of Medicare drug reform.

Now, Petri has still not sold his up to $25 million stake in Walgreen's.

I would like to point out, as I have had questions from a friend on this, that it is not Walgreen's fault that Petri is enriching himself through this program. From all reports they are working hard to provide the best service possible to people in this system

However - this passed by one vote. And Petri, because of his Walgreen's stock, should not have voted.

The problem is the decisions that are made by Congress because of personal financial interests.

More Thoughts on Cars

In a previous post I commented on my thoughts for a direction for the Detriot Automakers:

Ford, Chevy, please make a quality American, union-built competitor for the Prius, Camry or Accord. I know many people who want to buy that car.

Thomas Freidman makes similar (better) comments today in the NYTimes while calling for a gas tax:

The more Detroit goes green, the faster it will be propelled down the innovation curve, making it more likely that Detroit - and not Toyota or Honda or the Chinese - will dominate the green technologies of the 21st century. A permanent gasoline tax will also make solar, wind and biofuels so competitive with oil that it will drive their innovations as well.

He also points out that our dependance on oil for inefficient cars is fueling both sides of the 'War on Terror'.

First, we are in a war against a radical, violent stream of Islam that is fueled and funded by our own energy purchases. We are financing both sides in the war on terrorism: the U.S. Army with our tax dollars, and Islamist charities, madrasas and terrorist organizations through our oil purchases.


A few good points in one rant:

This appears as one (run on) paragraph in today's Altercation by Eric Alterman, but I am going to separate it:

On Bush's chances in Iraq:

I seem to recall from freshman philosophy that somebody big, David Hume, argued that just because the sun has risen in the East and set in the West every day since time immemorial is no argument for the fact that it will necessarily do so tomorrow. Still, I think it’s a good bet. And I think it’s a good bet that the Bush administration will continue to screw up Iraq even worse than before.

On Naderites:

Discredited Neocon war cheerleader Lawrence Kaplan tries to argue that because certain liberals have embraced realism, here, they have abandoned liberalism. Bull**it. He is purposely confusing “idealism” with “utopianism.” Without realism, idealism is mere vanity. (See under “Nader, Ralph.")

Once Again, Bush Broke the Law:

From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration appears to have violated the National Security Act by limiting its briefings about a warrantless domestic eavesdropping program to congressional leaders, according to a memo from Congress's research arm released yesterday.

The Congressional Research Service opinion said that the amended 1947 law requires President Bush to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of such intelligence activities as the domestic surveillance effort.

Still at the trough...

This is what the Republicans in the House call 'reform':

Congressional leaders of both parties are staging a fire sale on promises to clean up the lobbying and influence-peddling abuses rampant on Capitol Hill. Many are long overdue, notably a ban on the gratis meals and gifts and junkets that have made Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay symbols of Washington's easy-money subculture.

But an egregious loophole already gapes in the first wave of promised crackdowns: the very gifts and golf and beach adventures to be banned under lobbying reform would still be permitted under the separate campaign finance law. Yes, so long as boondoggles, whether on distant slopes or at nearby watering holes, are formally characterized as campaign events and include a handover of campaign checks, they exempt lobbyists from restrictions.

Hebert on White House Spying on Americans...

I am jealous of people that can boil complex issues down to simple sentances, it is an ability I wish I had.

Bob Hebert does it in today's NYTimes:

I find it peculiar that an awful lot of Americans who would be outraged by the burning of the American flag are positively sanguine about the trampling of the Constitution.

Here is some more, he is commenting on Gore's speach:

One of the ugliest aspects of the Bush administration is the outright deceit that is such a major aspect of its modus operandi. Tens of thousands of men, women and children are tragically dead because of the war in Iraq, which was launched from a monstrous superstructure of deceit. Why wouldn't we expect the administration to deceive the public about the illegal spying of the National Security Agency?

As Mr. Gore noted, "During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the president went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place."

The president was either lying, or -- I don't know what.

Stew's Back!

I for one, really liked the Everyday Editor Blog. But, I will agree with him that it got out of hand.

I look forward to seeing his daily insights into the OshNW.

Here is is first post discussing why he left. He has some good lines:

When the Everyday Editor blog was launched three months ago, it was an experiment and learning experience. Yup, it has been all of that and more. One of the best things I learned (or was reminded of) is that even the editor needs an editor. And Lord knows I needed one on Jan. 8.

There has been some speculation in the blogosphere that Everyday Editor blog would return to engage in election rhetoric. I can promise you it will not. I’ll leave that up to the professionals, for better or worse.

Great Petri Coverage and a Call For Him to Return All the DeLay Money:

Love this paragraph:

Congressman Tom Petri doesn't have all the answers, but he at least knows some of the questions after more than 30 citizens spent an hour asking him about topics ranging from head lice to the federal deficit.

And then he said:

When questioned about a campaign contribution from a political action committee controlled by indicted Congressmen Tom De Lay, Petri explained that DeLay had attended a political fund-raiser in Ripon. Although DeLay had paid for the cost of the trip to the benefit for Petri, Petri was required by law to report the cost of the trip as an in-kind donation to his campaign.

Petri is so wrapped up with DeLay that DeLay helps him raise money? Petri should probably return all the money DeLay's name helped him raise at this event.

National Republicans Running Scared in the 8th - Sell Out McCormick

I like this quote:

"The national folks asked and we looked at it and determined, in the interest of keeping the seat, it needed to be done. It has the potential to be a competitive race. The Democrats have raised a lot of money and we can't take the election for granted."

More on the story:

Republican state Rep. Terri McCormick has learned to her dismay that the state Republican Party allowed the National Republican Congressional Committee to send financial support to Assembly Speaker John Gard for the 8th Congressional District seat before the primary election.

The usual tradition is to wait until after the voters have selected a candidate.

"I had phoned the NRCC for weeks trying to get a meeting with them. I still am unclear about what was decided and why," said McCormick, of Appleton, who learned about the party's action from a Gannett reporter who called her from
Washington, D.C.

"The voters should speak first instead of political insiders."

Rick Wiley, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, confirmed that the state party authorized the RNCC to provide resources for Gard for the primary election. The Wisconsin party did not endorse Gard, he said. It responded to a request to grant permission to the national organization.

"He impressed the leadership in D.C. There are contributions in the next campaign finance report from House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other members of the leadership," Wiley said.

Personally, I can see why Gard would impress the National Republican Leadership. I wouldn't take that as a compliment. They are, after all 'tainted'.

Northwestern Is Right on Concealed Carry:

Editorial: No proof hidden gun law makes streets safer

Commend Gov. Jim Doyle for promising to veto the bill that would allow concealed handguns. Nobody needs the increased level of government bureaucracy that this bill would allow.

Senate Bill 403 passed the Senate this past Tuesday. The Assembly voted on the issue in December. This is efficiency of government at work, but the euphoria is missing one thing. There's no chief threat to safety that needs more guns on the streets.

This bill doesn't guarantee that Wisconsin society will become safer with a law that lets people carry concealed handguns. This bill becoming law will mean we will read more stories about civic-minded people gunned down by officers mistaking them for the criminal element.

There's another dark side to this bill, too. Domestic abuse situations may mean less safety for our police officers. As state Sen. Fred Riser, D-Madison, has explained, police officers under this bill aren't allowed to know whether people involved in domestic disputes have a permit for a concealed gun

That's an affront to the safety of police officers and should be enough reason right there to veto this bill.

We note, too, that the lists of people with concealed gun permits won't be available to the public. That's absurd. People have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent especially. This isn't a permit for something people must have. It's a privilege. The public deserves to know who has a permit just as much as it deserves to know who has a boat permit.

Senate Bill 403 is a solution looking for a problem. Wisconsin lacks a reason for this bill. Therefore, Doyle should veto it.

Remember, this is one of the things that both Walker and Green have pledged to sign as soon as they take office.



Here's the picture. This is the text along with it:

Hamster named Gohan, right, and snake Aochan live togther in a cardboard box at Mutsugoro Okoku zoo, outskirts of Tokyo, in this January 14, 2006 photo. Gohan and Aochan make strange bedfellows: one's a 9 centimeter dwarf hamster; the other is a 120 centimeter-long (yard-long) ratsnake. Zookeepers at Tokyo's Mutsugoro Okoku zoo presented the hamster _ whose name means 'meal' in Japanese _ to Aochan as a tasty morsel in October, after the snake refused to eat frozen mice. But instead of indulging, Aochan decided to make friends with the furry rodent, according to keeper Kazuya Yamamoto. The pair have shared a cage since. (AP Photo/Mutsugoro Okoku Zoo, Kyota Nomura)

Another hit - this time direct...

As I stated before, my site tracker gives me basic info on visitors. It includes what city they are in, what internet service they use, and if they came from a search engine, what they typed in to get there.

Lat week, I posted a blog about someone from the House of Representative hitting my blog. Well, it just happened again, but this time it is because they searched "jef hall blog".

Whoever is calling, let me know if you have any questions.

Here's the interesting info in the site meter:

Domain Name - house.gov (United States Government)
IP Address - (Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives)
ISP - Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives

Continent : North America
Country : United States
State : District of Columbia
City : Washington
Time of Visit - Jan 18 2006 4:59:38 pm
Referring URL
Search Engine - search.yahoo.com
Search Words - jef hall blog
Visit Entry Page

What Liberal Media?

Eric Alterman make a great point here:

Alterman also contended that, even if television pundits or politicians were not overtly liberally biased, the structure of media in general allows for much more coverage of conservative interests.

“Everyday I read the Business Section of the New York Times. Not the Labor Section, not the Environment Section,” Alterman said, referring to two nonexistent sections. “These are conservative assumptions.”

Medicare Part D - the Rollout is a Failure

From the Miami Herald:

Many of the sickest and poorest beneficiaries nationwide are going without life-sustaining medication because of program failures, misinformation and confusion. The federal government has botched the roll-out of one of the most-expensive entitlement programs ever, and the frail elderly are paying the price in pain, aggravation and tears. Congress should rethink the program and fix flaws inherent in the overly complicated program.

The situation has grown so critical that, last weekend, the Bush administration ordered private Medicare drug-plan insurers to cover an emergency 30-day refill of prescriptions and cap co-pays for low-income seniors at $5. It isn't known if this will work. Earlier, CMS had directed pharmacies to provide the refills and bill Medicare. Yet many pharmacies refused because they either didn't get the notice or didn't trust that they would be paid.

Why, beacuse this all goes through private insurance companies. Medicare pays a subsidy to them to then pass on to the local pharmacist. If this was done directly from Medicare to the pharmacist, we would save billions and have a functional system.

How bad is it? Consider that 20 states have intervened to subsidize drugs for low-income beneficiaries who can't get their prescriptions covered under the new program. Florida should join the effort. Otherwise, poor seniors will be left out on a limb by the Medicare program until the crisis is resolved.

Wisconsin was one of those states (thank you Gov. Doyle).

Since the benefit began on Jan. 1, countless needy beneficiaries have been charged excessive fees or denied coverage altogether. Others who enrolled in plans based on formulary information from Medicare's website or pamphlets have discovered the plans do not cover their medicines. Jammed phone lines have prevented pharmacists from verifying enrollment and seniors from resolving issues. One Broward pharmacist who serves transplant and dialysis patients estimates that up to 40 percent of his low-income clients haven't been able to get their medicines through Medicare. The snafus have created a national medical emergency.

Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration does not see a crisis. Those who can't get their medicines would disagree. The problem is urgent. A national remedy is needed -- now. Gov. Jeb Bush should ensure beneficiaries get drug coverage now, and bill the federal government later.

Aren't you glad you have a Democrat in the state house? If only Petri or Green hadn't voted for this - it passed by one vote.

And don't forget, Petri said in December 2003:
Without question the most significant domestic legislative accomplishment in 2003 was congressional passage of Medicare drug reform.

Bloomberg News Says What We All Feel:

American workers have rarely taken home a smaller share of the nation's prosperity, a condition that is undermining bipartisan support for free trade and creating friction between President George W. Bush's administration and the Federal Reserve.

After 16 consecutive quarters of economic growth, pay is rising at a slower rate than in any similar expansion since the end of World War II. Companies are paying less of their cash gains in the form of wages and salaries than at any time since the Great Depression, according to government figures.

"There is no doubt that something is happening'' to reduce labor's share of income, says Robert Solow, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. An economy that doesn't distribute its gains widely is "poorly performing,'' he says.

I say this quote...

...and wasn't sure if they were talking about Iraq or the Republican House Caucus:

...a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

It turns out that is was another success story from Bush's Iraq adventure. This time reported by USAid here are some exerpts:

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

"External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," USAid's assessment said. "Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."

The paper, whose existence was first reported by the Washington Post, argues that insurgent attacks "significantly damage the country's infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq".

"In the social breakdown that has accompanied the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime criminal elements within Iraqi society have had almost free rein," the document says. "In the absence of an effective police force capable of ensuring public safety, criminal elements flourish ... Baghdad is reportedly divided into zones controlled by organised criminal groups-clans."

The lawlessness has had an impact on basic freedoms, USAid argues, particularly in the south, where "social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police". USAid officials did not respond to calls seeking comment yesterday.

Wait - "social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police" - that's sounds like the Republican house members as well...

If we must be in Iraq, can't we do well by them?

Can I get a witness?

Gregg Underheim makes Scott Jensen's witness list.

Energy-Saving Buildings Save American Jobs

Friedman in the NYTimes:

When it comes to energy and the American people, George Bush and Dick Cheney are guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

No one has lower expectations for the American people than a vice president who thinks "conservation" is simply a personal virtue, not a national security imperative, and a president who can barely choke out the word.

But Americans are starting to lead themselves. The most impressive project I've seen is by Texas Instruments, which is building a "green" chip factory here in Richardson, near Dallas. T.I. is keeping 1,000 high-tech jobs in Texas by building its newest facility - to make wafers used in semiconductors - in a cost-saving, hyper-efficient green manner.

T.I. always wanted to keep its newest wafer factory near Dallas so it would be near its design center and ideas could flow back and forth. But China, Taiwan and Singapore were all tempting alternatives, offering low wages, subsidies and tax breaks. So the T.I. leadership laid down a challenge: T.I. could locate its new wafer factory in Richardson, if the T.I. design team and community leaders could find a way to build it for $180 million less than its last Dallas factory, erected in the late 1990's. That would make its cost-per-wafer competitive with any overseas plant's.

He then goes into the details of how they changed designs in the building to save the required money in heating & energy.

"Green building added some cost, but over all we built a green building for 30 percent less per square foot than our previous conventional facility." This is expected to cut utility costs by 20 percent and water usage by 35 percent.

And finishes with:

To entice T.I. to build again in the Dallas area, the University of Texas, the State Legislature and private sources put up $300 million for a 10-year effort to improve science and engineering studies at the University of Texas in Dallas, so T.I. will have plenty of educated workers.

So hats off to the leaders of T.I. Thanks to their vision, Dallas - not China - has the newest T.I. wafer plant, a new investment in education and a great example of how a green factory can be efficient and profitable and can create good American jobs in the 21st century.

Powerful Article on 'Swift-Boating'

From the New York Times. Before you call it liberal crap (you know who you are) I want to point out who wrote it:

James Webb, a secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, was a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam.

Here is is in full. Here is the link.

Purple Heartbreakers
Published: January 18,

Arlington, Va.
IT should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves.

Not unlike the Clinton "triangulation" strategy, the approach has been to attack an opponent's greatest perceived strength in order to diminish his overall credibility. To no one's surprise, surrogates carry out the attacks, leaving President Bush and other Republican leaders to benefit from the results while publicly distancing themselves from the actual remarks.

During the 2000 primary season, John McCain's life-defining experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam were diminished through whispers that he was too scarred by those years to handle the emotional burdens of the presidency. The wide admiration that Senator Max Cleland gained from building a career despite losing three limbs in Vietnam brought on the smug non sequitur from critics that he had been injured in an accident and not by enemy fire. John Kerry's voluntary combat duty was systematically diminished by the well-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in a highly successful effort to insulate a president who avoided having to go to war.

And now comes Jack Murtha. The administration tried a number of times to derail the congressman's criticism of the Iraq war, including a largely ineffective effort to get senior military officials to publicly rebuke him (Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was the only one to do the administration's bidding there).

Now the Cybercast News Service, a supposedly independent organization with deep ties to the Republican Party, has dusted off the Swift Boat Veterans playbook, questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved his two Purple Hearts. The article also implied that Mr. Murtha did not deserve the Bronze Star he received, and that the combat-distinguishing "V" on it was questionable. It then called on Mr. Murtha to open up his military records.

Cybercast News Service is run by David Thibault, who formerly worked as the senior producer for "Rising Tide," the televised weekly news magazine produced by the Republican National Committee. One of the authors of the Murtha article was Marc Morano, a long-time writer and producer for Rush Limbaugh.

The accusations against Mr. Murtha were very old news, principally coming from defeated political rivals. Aligned against their charges are an official letter from Marine Corps Headquarters written nearly 40 years ago affirming Mr. Murtha's eligibility for his Purple Hearts - "you are entitled to the Purple Heart and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart for wounds received in action" - and the strict tradition of the Marine Corps regarding awards. While in other services lower-level commanders have frequently had authority to issue prestigious awards, in the Marines Mr. Murtha's Vietnam Bronze Star would have required the approval of four different awards boards.

The Bush administration's failure to support those who have served goes beyond the smearing of these political opponents. One of the most regrettable examples comes, oddly enough, from modern-day Vietnam. The government-run War Remnants Museum, a popular tourist site in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, includes an extensive section on "American atrocities." The largest display is devoted to Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator and governor of Nebraska, recipient of the Medal of Honor and member of the 9/11 commission.

In the display, Mr. Kerrey is flatly labeled a war criminal by the Vietnamese government, and the accompanying text gives a thoroughly propagandized version of an incident that resulted in civilian deaths during his time in Vietnam. This display has been up for more than two years. One finds it hard to imagine another example in which a foreign government has been allowed to so characterize the service of a distinguished American with no hint of a diplomatic protest.

The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats.

A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

Rudyard Kipling summed up this syndrome quite neatly more than a century ago, writing about the frequent hypocrisy directed at the British soldiers of his day:

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

I am reminded of the Republicans who, at their national convention in 2004 wore band-aids that they drew purple hearts on. The mockery and hypocricy is unbelievable.

On the State of the State Reactions

Just a few quick notes on this article in the Northwestern:

Michelle Litjens, chairwoman of the Winnebago County Republican Party, said she would like to say she was surprised by DoyleÂ’s speech, but sheÂ’s not."

He started out saying that it was his affordability agenda but all he talked about was spending more money," Litjens said. "He talked a lot about fiscal responsibly but also talked a lot about spending; it was quite an oxymoron."

I think she has no ground to stand on here. She is criticizing plans that, for a modest cost, will help more people get college degrees, nursing care and health insurance. All items that contribute to the good of society and the economy.

If she wants to officially come out as against this, I am willing to take that fight every day.

Ronald Kane Hardy, co-chairman of the Lake Winnebago Green Party, said that while Doyle proposed quite a progressive platform, heÂ’d be impressed if he saw one-third of what Doyle said make it to the statehouse floor.

Hardy said he had hoped for more out of Doyle.

"I think a lot of people in Wisconsin would have liked to hear him speak out about gay marriages," Hardy said. "This is a fight that many of his supporters are going to be fighting and it would have been a positive message for him to send to potential allies if he were to make a stand on the amendment."

First off, I like Ron a lot. I do think he is a little off-base criticize Doyle on these two points. It is not on Doyle to get bills to the statehouse floor - we need to get them through Republican committees. We have seen time and time again that good legislation will not be allowed to the floor by the committee chairs (I'm talking about you, Underheim and Roessler!).

As to the marriage amendment, Doyle is the best friend that the LGBT community and their supporters have in the state. Even though it was controversial, he has vetoed every bill brought forward to discriminate on the basis of sexuality. If it were not for Doyle, these bad laws would all ready be in place. The whole point of going the amendment route is because the Republicans have to go around Doyle to get this bigotry into law. He has stood firm for the rights of all people.
As have the Democratic leaders. Our state DPW Chair, Joe Wineke proudly testified against the amendment, and your very own humble Winnebago Dems Chair is part of the Speakers Network for Action Wisconsin fighting this.

I thought the State of the State address was great. I did not get a chance to watch it live as I was at the County Board meeting (more on that later), but listened to it online later. I am excited about the debate on Wisconsin's future through the 2006 Election Season.

UPDATE - Ron talks about the difficulty in getting legislation to the floor on his blog:

(Doyle) put forward a fairly progressive agenda, most of which will never see his desk in the form of legislation due to the fundamentalist majority in the state legislature.


Quote of the Day - Taint Edition

3 dirty republicans are trying to take over DeLay - one really said this:

Shadegg, a Republican of Arizona, sought to turn his rivals' experience against them and claimed that ''the level of taint" in his record is dramatically different from theirs. He cited ''the long practices that go on in the House that they've had a chance, particularly, to clean up and haven't cleaned up."

"We were never intending to rebuild Iraq," McCoy said. "We were providing enough funds to jump-start the reconstruction effort in this country."

Bush Turns his back on the 'Iraqi Marshal Plan'

After more than 2 1/2 years of sputtering reconstruction work, the United States' "Marshall Plan" to rebuild this war-torn country is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet and no plans to extend its funding.

The $18.6 billion approved by Congress in 2003 will be spent by the end of this year, officials here say. Foreign governments have given only a fraction of the billions they pledged two years ago.

With the country still a shambles, U.S. officials are promoting a tough-love vision of reconstruction that puts the burden on the Iraqi people.

"The world is a competitive place," Tom Delare, economics counselor at the U.S. Embassy, said this month during a news briefing. "You have to convince the investor that it is worth his while to put his money in your community."

And Bush wonders why we are hated in the Middle East? Read it all here.

Today in History - Busy Day Edition

All from the NYTimes:

On Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii's monarchy was overthrown as a group of businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate


Three U.S. soldiers were killed north of Baghdad, pushing the U.S. death toll in the Iraq conflict to 500.

Israel handed over its military headquarters in Hebron to the Palestinians, ending 30 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank city.

Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, 36, was shot by a firing squad at Utah State Prison in the first U.S. execution in a decade.

In his farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the rise of ''the military-industrial complex.''

The United Nations Security Council held its first meeting.

Birthdays (very diverse):

Ben Franklin (happy 300th!), Al Capone, Betty White, James Earl Jones, Muhammad Ali, Steve Earle, Susanna Hoffs, Jim Carrey, Kid Rock,

Go Hilary!

In comments yesterday:

The House “has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about,” said Clinton, D-N.Y. “It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.”

“We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence,” she said. “I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country.”


Like I always say, "Vote for Jef(f) Hall!"

Jeff Hall announces candidacy for sheriff

Published January 14, 2006

Thirteen-year veteran of the Albertville Police Department and former Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Hall announced he is running for the second time for the office of Marshall County Sheriff.

A product of the Marshall County school system, Hall is a graduate of the Northeast Alabama Police Academy at Jacksonville State and recently became a member of the Stepping Ahead substance abuse program’s board of directors.

Hall won the 2002 Democratic nomination against two other candidates then faced Republican incumbent Mac Holcomb in the general election losing by a narrow margin.

Even though he spells Jef wrong, vote for him down in Marshal County. Plus he is a Democrat!

P.S. - This is not me, I am not running for Sheriff....

Tech Concepts You Need to Know for the New Year

To: Geeks

From: Popular Mechanics

If you are so inclined, read up on such things as: Body Area Network (BAN), Metadata, NAND Flash Memory, Nanoparticle Batteries, Micro Fuel Cells, Mobile VoIP, Modular Pebble-Bed Reactor, Mobile WiMAX and many other things geeks will be discussing in 2006.

p.s. Geeks is used as a loving term here, I proudly consider myself a geek.

A Great Point...

...made in Maureen Dowd's comments on the death of NY Times Journalist David Rosenbaum:

As his pal Robin Toner put it, David thought that behind every arcane tax provision and appropriations bill, "there were real people, getting something or having something taken away by their government." You had to keep digging and arguing to find the truth in the fog. Even when he was smothered by conventional wisdom, Robin recalled, "David's voice would break out: 'I disagree!' "

Today in History - Iraq War Edition

On Jan. 16, 1991, the White House announced the start of Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

Quick Thought on Alito:

"I have racked my memory about this issue, and I really have no specific recollection of that organization." Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Jr., to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, on Alito's membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group that lobbied against the admission of women and minorities to the school

Yet he featured it on his 1984 resume for a job in the Reagan administration...

So, if he is willing to lie on his resume, how do we know he is not willing to lie in the confirmation hearings?

Good Cartoon from Newsweek:

Here it is.

Newsweek CW on Medicare Part D:

Once again, they get it in less than a sentance:

Old: Flawed Medicare drug bill at least gives discounts.

New: Beg for pills at Rx counter or die.

Chomsky, in other words...

Tony Palmeri has links to a Noam Chomsky interview in which he is critical of Democratic Leadership (as is his right). But, I would like to point out to the 3rd party movers & shakers that like to quote Chomsky this passage in the Wikipedia on Chomsky:

his stance on U.S. elections is that citizens should vote for their local Democrat where this will keep the Republicans out, and support more radical candidates such as the Greens in areas where there is no risk of letting the Republicans win

You may not want to believe it, but an overwhelming amount of Democrats are working for change. While I believe that there are huge differences between the positions of the Democrats and Republicans (most obvious on display here in Wisconsin Legislature), even Chomsky argues:

Professor Chomsky - a linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a renowned chronicler of American foreign policy - said there were "small differences" between Senator Kerry and the Republican president. But, in an interview on the Guardian's politics website, he added that those small differences "can translate into large outcomes".

He reserved his especial venom for the Bush administration's plans for the health sector: "The people around Bush are deeply committed to dismantling the achievements of popular struggle through the past century no matter what the cost to the general population."

Where as here in Wisconsin we have two great leaders on the national level for healthcare access, Dave Obey and Russ Feingold. Do you think there is a difference between their policies and Mark Green's, Paul Ryan's or Tom Petri's (all rabid supporters of Medicare Part D)?

As pointed out in an op-ed open letter to Ralph Nader by Tony's friend, Austin King, Chomski said:

Last month, Noam Chomsky told David Barsamian that anyone who says "I don't care if Bush gets elected" is basically telling poor and working people in the country, "I don't care if your lives are destroyed. I don't care if you're going to have a little less money to help your disabled mother. I just don't care, because from my elevated point of view I don't see much difference between them.'" That's a way of saying, "Pay no attention to me, because I don't care about you."

Austin King continues:

So though we do not oppose your running or begrudge you your right to run, we will do all we can to make sure that swing-state voters who would otherwise vote for Kerry do not vote for you on Election Day.


The world, our nation's poor and disenfranchised, and the people of Madison and the people of Providence - largely among our nation's poor and disenfrachised - cannot afford four more years of Bush. We know voting for you on Election Day will not facilitate Bush's defeat, and we do not understand how voting for you will yield long-term gains for the progressive movement.

Just as putting another Republican in Rep. Underheim's seat will not facilitate change to healthcare in Wisconsin. It will not ensure the continuance af Seniorcare. It will not protect the rights of racial, economic and other minorities.

This is going to have to be a serious, open debate that we have over the next few months...

Democrats Protected Freedom:

Former President Clinton said Thursday that he never ordered wiretaps of American citizens without obtaining a court order, as President Bush has acknowledged he has done.

Clinton, in an interview broadcast Thursday on the ABC News program ''Nightline,'' said his administration either received court approval before authorizing a wiretap or went to court within three days after to get permission, as required by law.

''We either went there and asked for the approval or, if there was an emergency and we had to do it beforehand, then we filed within three days afterward and gave them a chance to second guess it,'' Clinton told ABC.

Bush said in December that he authorized wiretaps without obtaining court permission and defended the practice as a ''vital tool'' in tracking terrorist suspects and accomplices.

Krugman: Bush's Healthcare 'Cure' is the Problem

Here is the article, snips below:

It's widely expected that President Bush will talk a lot about health care in his State of the Union address. He probably won't boast about his prescription drug plan, whose debut has been a Katrina-like saga of confusion and incompetence. But he probably will tout proposals for so-called "consumer driven" health care.

So it's important to realize that the administration's idea of health care reform is to take what's wrong with our system and make it worse. Consider the harrowing series of articles The New York Times printed last week about the rising tide of diabetes.

The administration's principles for reform were laid out in the 2004 Economic Report of the President. The first and most important of these principles is "to encourage contracts" - that is, insurance policies - "that focus on large expenditures that are truly the result of unforeseen circumstances," as opposed to small or predictable costs.

The report didn't give any specifics about what this principle might mean in practice. So let me help out by supplying a real example: the administration is saying that we need to make sure that insurance companies pay only for things like $30,000 amputations, that they don't pay for $150 visits to podiatrists that might have averted the need for amputation.

To encourage insurance companies not to pay for podiatrists, the administration has turned to its favorite tool: tax breaks. The 2003 Medicare bill, although mainly concerned with prescription drugs, also allowed people who buy high-deductible health insurance policies - policies that cover only extreme expenses - to deposit money, tax-free, into health savings accounts that can be used to pay medical bills. Since then the administration has floated proposals to make the tax breaks bigger and wider, and these proposals may resurface in the State of the Union.

Critics of health savings accounts have mostly focused on two features of the accounts Mr. Bush won't mention. First, such accounts mainly benefit people with high incomes. Second, they encourage wealthy corporate employees to opt out of company health plans, further undermining the already fraying system of employment-based health insurance.

The bottom line is that what the Bush administration calls reform is actually the opposite. Driven by an ideology at odds with reality, the administration wants to accentuate, not fix, what's wrong with America's health care system.


Bush Caught in Another Lie

Text and links via truthout.org

The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

Oshkosh Northwestern : Diversity is a local issue

A Great Reason to be Proud of Oshkosh:

Editorial: King Day esteem here result of city's diversity emphasis

Any visitor to Oshkosh can't help but notice that the cause of diversity has been embraced more in recent years. That's good news for Oshkosh as it prepares to celebrate Monday observances of the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

There was a time when cities made their King "observation" by renaming highways or streets. Thankfully, our city wasn't content with that. Our city has chosen the more pro-active route by finding ways to make diversity an issue and working on those issues. Likewise, we have seen fit for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to become the unofficial sponsor of making this day a major city event.

What Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become in Oshkosh is that very important moment to see how our area residents have worked on issues of diversity.

We recognize that our residents have accepted a second generation of former Hmong refugees and that labor statistics show they are among our most industrious citizens.

We recognize that our area has seen Latinos discover the American Dream in a way that inspires us all.

We recognize that Sudanese who fled their nation chose Oshkosh as their place to embrace America's brand of freedom.

We recognize diversity issues are more than ones of bringing refugees or war survivors. We recognized the great work done by the Oshkosh Area School
and its District Board of Education to raise the academic performance of minority students. This includes the work of UWO to recruit people of color. The UWO work deserves special mention because it also includes an emphasis on student retention so that young adults of color earn the degree they desire to earn.

Finally, we recognize the Revs. Ralph and Carol DiBiasio-Snyder, pastors of First Congregational Church of Oshkosh, as recipients of the Celebration of Diversity Award from the Oshkosh Human Relations Council.

Again, all of these accomplishments were made possible in a community that has dared to be different by trying to find new ways to implement a sensitivity to diversity. The community's gain is that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than a federal holiday.

For we who live in Oshkosh, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one to chart our future involvement in issues of diversity by reflecting on the work of the past year.

The Final Thought: Martin Luther King Jr. Day has special meaning in Oshkosh from the city's work on diversity issues