2.10.2006

Misinformation on WRST!

Jut Mitchell, filling in for Tony Palmeri on WRST today had Steve Dedow, President of the Winnebago County Labor Council on as a guest.

Jut said he noticed on the Winnebago County Labor Council website that they were endorsing Kohl. Jut asked how they could, because Kohl voted in favor of CAFTA.

Jut, Kohl voted against CAFTA - click here for the roll call vote from Senate.gov (I Googled 'Kohl CAFTA' to find that - it wasn't difficult).

Same Google search - here is an editorial from the Cap Times:

Credit is due U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, for coming out early and aggressively against the proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement.


Here is Hohl's press release.

Kohl has heard from American workers that CAFTA's rules are a step backward from the labor conditions that exist in current trade programs with Central America. There is concern that some CAFTA countries lack adequate protections for workers' rights in their labor codes and that, even where such rights are spelled out, enforcement mechanisms are inadequate.


A retraction next week, please.

Nothing to hide...

A Perspective on the King Funeral Speaches

Again, a letter from Altercation:

Name: Dr. Ken Bridges

Hometown: El Dorado, AR

As a historian, I cannothelp but be amused by the absolute shock of many commentators that some speakers took a political tone at Coretta Scott King's funeral. The Funeral Oration of Pericles during the Peloponnesian War is considered some of the finest oratory of the ancient age. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was delivered at the dedication of a cemetery. Politics at funerals is nothing new. No, funerals in our society are not meant to make people feel comfortable. They are supposed to make you remember the life of the deceased and understand what that life meant to you. If Martin Luther King, Jr., were alive today, what would these conservative commentators be saying about him? Would they be quoting his great speeches or lauding his nonviolence? No, they would be questioning his sincerity and his effectiveness. They would be denouncing him as a radical and a hypocrite, just like they do with Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, and the NAACP. The King Family endured criticism for years, but always turned the other cheek and pressed on with their work. But all of this criticism from conservatives, as usual, overlooks the real issues -- what was Coretta Scott King's life dedicated to? It was a life dedicated to civil rights and equal justice for everyone, poor and rich, black and white. Martin Luther King wrote in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" that his goal was to create tension, the kind of inner mental and spiritual tension that would lead to growth. We need that
kind of spiritual and intellectual growth today. It is time that we took the example of the Kings and rise above the dark shadows of fear and into the light of truth and moral courage. We could use the inspiration of King instad of the desperation of Bush.

A Unique Look at the Bush Budget:

From Altercation:

Coretta Scott King admirers should note that Dubya wants to cut the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission budget by $4 million (a 1.2% decrease). When challenged about this, the Administration claims the EEOC's budget is "sufficient to meet its important responsibilities of enforcing civil rights law, investigating and litigating discrimination charges.... I guess racism went down 1.2% in the last year.

Another Bush Lie:

When will people start to pay attention?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

"FYI from FEMA," said an e-mail message from the agency's public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, "are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires."

Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to.


Remember - Bush stayed on vacation as this was happening - just like during his 2001 vacation when he recieved a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike un the US" and went fishing.

Here's something to remember when they tell you about the Administration's effectiveness of wiretapping Al-Queida only:

"I don't want to be on the list. I want to fly and see my grandma." Edward Allen, 4, after a Continental Airlines agent refused to let the preschooler board a plane because his name matched one on a government terrorist watch list. He was eventually allowed to board after his mother intervened.

Yer Doin' a Heck of a Job, Bushie!

America’s trade deficit hits all-time high
Imports continue to soar as U.S. manufacturing contracts


WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit soared to an all-time high of $725.8 billion in 2005, pushed upward by record imports of oil, food, cars and other consumer goods. The deficit with China hit an all-time high as did America’s deficits with Japan, Europe, OPEC, Canada, Mexico and South and Central America.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the gap between what America sells abroad and what it imports rose to $725.8 billion last year, up by 17.5 percent from the previous record of $617.6 billion set in 2004.

It marked the fourth consecutive year that America’s trade deficit has set a record and was certain to spark increased debate in Congress over President Bush’s trade policies. Since mid-2000 the country has lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs and Democrats blame the administration’s policy of emphasizing free trade agreements.

Last year’s deficit reflected the fact that imports rose by 12.9 percent last year to an all-time high of $2 trillion, swamping a 5.7 percent increase in exports, which were up 5.7 percent to a record high of $1.27 trillion.


Now, it is not just China - we cannot say the problem is that we are being killed by cheap labor alone because:

America’s trade deficit set records with much of the rest of the world as well. Among those records was a $122.4 billion gap with the 25-nation European Union, a $92.7 billion deficit with the nations that belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a $76.5 billion deficit with Canada and a $50.1 billion deficit with Mexico. Canada and Mexico are America’s partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The deficit with the countries of South and Central America rose to a record $50.7 billion last year.


We are being beaten by the EU as well. They have some of the hightest labor costs and huge social program costs. It is time to stop blaming these.

Only a sound trade policy and increased investment in education will turn this around. Or else:

The rising trade deficits must be financed by increased borrowing from foreigners, who so far have been happy to sell us their products and hold U.S. dollars in payment which they invest in U.S. stock, bonds and other assets. The concern is that at some point foreigners will want to reduce their dollar holdings. If the change occurs at a rapid pace it could send the value of the dollar, U.S. stocks and bond prices all plunging.


We are mortgaing tomorrow.

Namesake - this is a good one!

"We really like balloons because the buoyancy force keeps you in the air. You don't have to keep a propeller going," says Jeffery Hall, an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

2.09.2006

Quote of the Day (Republican Edition):

Credit where credit is due - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said:

Senator Graham then addressed the argument that the president has the inherent power under the Constitution to authorize the warrantless wiretapping. Such a view, said Senator Graham, would undermine the principle of checks and balances. "Taken to its logical conclusion," he said, "it concerns me that it could basically neuter the Congress and weaken the courts."

Moments later, he added, "And when the nation's at war, I would argue, Mr. Attorney General, you need checks and balances more than ever."

House Republicans Put Fox in Charge of the Henhouse:

Text and links from the Center for American Progress:


CORRUPTION -- TOM DELAY AWARDED CUNNINGHAM'S SEAT; ETHICS COMMITTEE STALLED:

Criminally-indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) "scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him" with Duke Cunningham’s former seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. It should be a smooth transition: contractor Brent Wilkes, a co-conspirator in Cunningham's plea agreement, has given $30,000 to DeLay, "who flew on Wilkes' jet several times and has been a frequent golfing buddy." DeLay also yesterday claimed a seat "on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers." In related news, CongressDaily (subscription only) reports that the House ethics committee "has not begun any full-scale investigations into members in question, including Reps. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, Bob Ney, R-Ohio, and William Jefferson, D-La., among several other potential cases." Said one Republican source, "They are not going to meet for many, many months."

Libby: Cheney Authorized Leaks

Read it all here:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

NYT Has More on th NASA Liar...

The Bush administration long ago secured a special place in history for the audacity with which it manipulates science to suit its political ends. But it set a new standard of cynicism when it allowed NASA's leading authority on global warming to be mugged by a 24-year-old presidential appointee who, quite apart from having no training on that issue, had inflated his résumé.

In early December, James Hansen, the space agency's top climate specialist, called for accelerated efforts to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming. After his speech, he told Andrew C. Revkin of The Times, he was threatened with "dire consequences" if he continued to call for aggressive action.

This was not the first time Dr. Hansen had been rebuked by the Bush team, which has spent the better part of five years avoiding the issue of global warming. It was merely one piece of a larger pattern of deception and denial.

The administration has sought to influence the policy debate by muzzling the people who disagree with it or — as was the case with two major reports from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2002 and 2003 — editing out inconvenient truths or censoring them entirely.

In this case, the censor was George Deutsch, a functionary in NASA's public affairs office whose chief credential appears to have been his service with President Bush's re-election campaign and inaugural committee. On his résumé, Mr. Deutsch claimed a 2003 bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas A&M, but the university, alerted by a blogger, said that was not true. Mr. Deutsch has now resigned.

The shocker was not NASA's failure to vet Mr. Deutsch's credentials, but that this young politico with no qualifications was able to impose his ideology on other agency employees. At one point, he told a Web designer to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang.

As Dr. Hansen observed, Mr. Deutsch was only a "bit player" in the administration's dishonest game of politicizing science on issues like warming, birth control, forest policy and clean air. This from a president who promised in his State of the Union address to improve American competitiveness by spending more on science.

2.08.2006

Walker's Twisted Logic

Bill Christofferson gets it right here:

Walker also proposed some bigger ticket items, among them, to "turn back" mandated programs - such as courts - to state government unless they are fully funded by the state.

That should be easy, don't you think? The state government is rolling in dough, and would no doubt be eager to pay for the court system. Why didn't anyone think of that before?

Of course, if Scott Walker is governor in 2007 -- which is about as likely as me being the new county executive -- there could be a little problem getting that done.

You see, Walker has already promised that he would freeze taxes and hold the line on spending. That doesn't leave a lot of room to be taking back any programs. If he were governor, he'd just tell the new county executive to suck it up and think about opening a custard stand in the courthouse.

Walker's real goal -- besides successfully taking the focus off how big a financial mess his administration is in -- is to just get past the fall election before Milwaukee County goes into receivership. If he's governor, it'll be someone else's problem. And if he's still the county exec (which he is certain to be), he can always blame Tom Ament.
So, let's put this in a simple thought - Walker, as County Exec says that the State needs to pick up the bills for county Government, at the same time promising to cut taxes if he becomes Governor.

This logical impossibilty is brought to you by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Irresponsible pabering says I.

Quick Thought on Local Campaign Contributions

Paul Esslinger is making hay on a few blogs about comments he made on a local program. Click here for the info/video.

The gist of it is he "argued that Council members should recuse themselves from matters that affect campaign contributors."

This is an honorable stand. But it is also an impractical one in the real world. The State Ethics Board declares:

In general, the ethics code contains two kinds of restrictions. The first restricts an official from personally profiting from holding public office, apart from the receipt of salary and expenses to which the official is entitled. The second restricts an official from participating in decisions in which the official has a personal financial interest.

Accepting items
A. A local public official may not accept items or services of substantial value for private benefit, or for the benefit of the official's immediate family or associated organizations, if offered because of public position.
B. A local public official may not accept (and no one may offer or give) anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the official's vote, official actions or judgment.
C. A local public official may not accept (and no one may offer or give) anything of value that could reasonably be considered a reward for any official action or
inaction.

Controlling conflicting interests
A. A local public official may not take official action substantially affecting a matter in which the official, the official's immediate family, or associated organization has a substantial financial interest.
B. A local public official may not use office or position to produce a substantial benefit for official, family, or associated organization.


If you look at Mr. Esslinger's own votes and actions on the council, you can see the impracticality of this. 2 examples where he violates his own standard are:

Last year, Mr. Esslinger accepted money from the owner of Mueller on Hwy 21 & 41 to run for mayor. Yet he still voted and participated in the debate regarding how we were going to route the frontage roads. And for the road-building budgets. Both of these had a direct effect on the interests of a campaign contributor.

Mr. Esslinger introduced the resolution to put the Iraq War question on the ballot for referendum. He did this even though he accepted the support of "Citizens for Responsible Government" a local PAC/Special Interest Group. Tony Palmeri, one of the leaders of the referendum and it's most publicly outspoken proponent, gave money to this PAC.

Under the standard that Mr. Esslinger is proposing in the interview, both of these actions on his part were unethical.

Do I think that Mr. Esslinger was acting unethically when he did this? No, I do not. He was doing the business and duties of a council member. He did not personally profit from either action. Was he repaying support for his campaign? Who knows - that is for the voters to decide. Unless the actions violate the standards above, they are not illegal.

All other calls are up to the voters to decide. Is this elected official working in my best interests or not?

That is really all this flap he is trying to create is. It is just about getting elected.

The only way to get the special interests out of campaigns all together is public funding (which I support). Otherwise you need contributions to get elected. In the perfect case, people who agree with your stands on issues will contribute and you can be yourself. If anything else happens, the voters and the Ethics Board will get involved.

UPDATE - Cheryl Hentz points out a third situation (in comments):

To those who seem to think that councilors should recuse themselves from voting on issues pertaining to those from who they have received campaign contributions, maybe Paul Esslinger should also recuse himself from voting on the Ben Ganther liquor license, as well as any and all matters pertaining to the issuance or revocation of liquor licenses, or any other tavern-related matters that come before the council. After all, he was (along with three others of us) endorsed by and received a financial contribution through a PAC donation last year from the Tavern League.

But, Then Why Did You Sell Them Missiles, Ollie?

Oliver North: "There is no such thing as an Islamic moderate.":

And it shows that the words 'Islamic moderates' are -- that's an oxymoron. There is no such thing as an 'Islamic moderate,' or they would be out ordering calm and talking about the consequences of government censorship, which, of course, is what you're going to have under the caliphate if the so-called extremists have their way.

Why, then does Bush hold hands with Saudi Princes, did Rumsfeld give weapons to Saddam & you get weapons to Iran?

Ollie, you know you are lying. You know there are moderates out there - the problem is you and your party refuses to deal with any of them.

Bush's NASA Censor Lied About College Degree

George Deutsch, the Bush political appointee at the heart of administration efforts to censor NASA scientists (most notably to prevent James Hansen from speaking out about global warming), did not actually graduate from Texas A&M University.

Read the rest here.

Sign of the Apocalypse of the Day:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open more than 1,500 stores in the United States in the coming years, on top of nearly 3,200 it already operates, the world's largest retailer said Tuesday.

John Menzer, the company's vice chairman and head of its domestic Wal-Mart stores division, said Wal-Mart was on schedule to meet an announced target of between 335 and 370 new U.S. store openings this year after 341 last year.

As part of its growth plans, Wal-Mart also is experimenting with new formats for Supercenters to fit the big box structures into tighter urban neighborhoods. New styles will include multilevel stores and underground or above-store parking rather than a huge lot out front.

Brokeback Mountain - Parody

Click here - it's worth it.

2.07.2006

Tough Questions....

As we go into the new election season remember this when a candidate promises to ask the tough questions.

Irony...

On the day that this was signed into law, this was the celebrity gossip.

Good Comic...

2.06.2006

Close, but not quite...

I have previously covered how entertaining I think it is to look at people with the same name:

Scott Walker, meanwhile, had four of his teeth pushed into the roof of his mouth...


As a rugby player, I'd love that story if I were Walker.

Another one of me...

Jeff Hall, MSW, a licensed clinical social worker for the Twin Ports Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Superior, was awarded a certificate of recognition by John A. Scocos, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. Hall was recognized for his service and assistance to veterans at the clinic.

OK - this guy is even nicer than me...

Way to keep up the good name!

Fun Stuff....

Look up 'Mark Green Campaign Manager' in google and who is the #1 result?

Click here.

Petri Guns for a Chairmanship (Again)...

From the HTR today:

Petri seeks chair of House panel
WASHINGTON - Republican Congressman Tom Petri wants to make sure his party’s leaders are clear on his goal of chairing the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

He sent a letter today to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) confirming and reiterating his long-standing intention to seek the chairmanship of the influential committee.

The letter noted that he will not be seeking the chairmanship of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, but will remain on the committee.

Petri is currently vice chairman and senior member of the transportation committee.

His letter to Hastert stated in part that he “believes strongly in the important work of that committee in ensuring that we have the basic infrastructure and transportation network needed to keep us competitive in the 21st century global economy.”

“I am working toward the goal of becoming chairman of that committee in the next Congress upon the expiration of the current chairman’s term,” Petri told Hastert.


Well, let's see what happens - he has been passed up before. Including by new Majority leader Boehner who is far behind him in seniority - yet ended up chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in front of Petri.

Plus - Novak doesn't think he can get it.

Great Analysis On Bush Incompetence:

Harsh but true analysis from today's Altercation:

If I were the kind of blogger who ran contests, I’d have an essay contest today asking people to write in and explain which of the following two stories is the more perfect representation of the Bush Administration’s overall approach to the rest of the world. Is it this one, in which we learn that the administration’s toleration and encouragement of corruption in the conduct of its unnecessary and counterproductive war is actually providing the financial resources to the Iraqi insurgents to further destroy that nation and, in the process, kill the American soldiers [and Iraqi civilians], whom the very same administration has so foolishly and callously sent into harm’s way? You’d think so, wouldn’t you, until you read this one, in which we found that the warrantless domestic spying regime instituted by the Bush administration—instigated even though they already had the power to instigate wire taps without a warrant if they merely went to the trouble to get one within seventy-two hours—has yielded virtually no useful information with regard to national security.