Two Quick Things About Cars:

First, I am a huge Penn & Teller fan. If you are as well, go here and watch their new commercials from Ford.

This is a fun add campaign. I hope that it helps the cars catch on.

Second, look at this! The new Saturn Sky. I love convertables. I think that was always a big hole in the American car companies lines - you could have a Mustang or nothing.

Click here and here for info.


Irony Defined:

Senator saves opponent from choking
Maryland lawmaker performs Heimlich maneuver on challenger

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland Sen. John Giannetti was waiting for his penne pasta and meatballs order at an Italian restaurant when he saw a man choking. Giannetti rushed over, performed the Heimlich maneuver, dislodged a chunk of seafood, and possibly saved the life of his opponent in an upcoming race.

The choking man, Jim Rosapepe, is challenging Giannetti in the Democratic primary for the suburban Washington district.

"It's one of those really weird, cosmic things," Giannetti told The (Annapolis) Capital. He said Rosapepe was hunched over and moving toward him in distress, so he decided to try performing the Heimlich.

Rosapepe thanked his opponent for saving him Monday, though the race is still on.

"Obviously, it's an incredible coincidence, and a happy coincidence," said Rosapepe, a member of the University of Maryland system's Board of Regents.

Similar incidentIt's not the first time in recent months that a Maryland politician saved someone from choking.

Last October, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, a Democrat running for governor, performed the Heimlich maneuver on a county commissioner who choked on a chicken sandwich while the two dined.

In the Senate, ruled by Democrats, President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he hoped the Annapolis Italian restaurant event would soften competition between the two Democratic candidates.

"Maybe this means we'll see a more uplifting campaign as a result," Miller told The Washington Post. "I mean, I would think you'd be very hard-pressed to say anything bad about a man who saved your life."

Another Example of the Fine Work Russ Does:

U.S. Sen. Feingold: Cosponsors Bill Addressing "Doughnut Hole" in Medicare Coverage

Great Press Release Title: "DPW: While Green Bankrupts Federal Government, Walker Bankrupts Milwaukee County"

Here are the facts, below are excerpts:

While Congressman Mark Green has spent the last eight years in Washington, D.C. turning record surpluses into record deficits, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has spent the last four years bankrupting Milwaukee County.

As County Executive, Walker has repeatedly run Milwaukee County into deficit and said just last month that the budget gap for 2007 may hit $80 million. In 2003, Milwaukee County’s budget ended up $3.5 million in the hole under Walker’s leadership – the first time in 13 years that the county budget had closed in the red. In 2004, the county budget ended $1.5 million in the red.

Green helped President Bush and Republicans in Congress turn record surpluses into the largest federal deficits in American history. Green also voted for four consecutive Bush budgets that not only created record deficits in Washington, but increased federal spending by 33 percent – from $1.84 trillion in 2001 to $2.48 trillion in 2005. The 2006 budget deficit is expected to hit $337 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Both Green and Walker also helped build a culture of overspending and fiscal mismanagement in Wisconsin as state legislators – a culture that led to a $3.2 billion deficit, the worst deficit in state history. Luckily for Wisconsin families, Governor Doyle cleaned up that mess handed to him by Republicans, balancing two straight budget deficits without raising taxes.

Quote of the Day II (Evaluate Bush Edition)

Michael Tomasky in the American Prospect:

I’m really not sure at this point that the country and the world will survive three more years of this bumbling, deceitful, artificial, and thoroughly mediocre man, and his bumbling, deceitful, artificial, and thoroughly mediocre courtiers. (Liberals, let’s just start saying it insistently and unapologetically: We were not being “elitists”; we were right in the first place -- he is just not smart enough to be the president of the United States.)

Quote of the Day (Class Warfare Edition):

From Altercation:

“Class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination." — Arthur Schlesinger Jr, The Vital Center, 1948


Sid Smith for Congress!

Here's a good story, exceprt below:

AUSTIN, Texas - Given his age, Sid Smith's campaign slogan seems obvious: "At 95, who needs term limits?"

The former newspaperman and real estate agent, who scoots around his hillside home with the help of a cane, is running for Congress in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

A Democrat whose platform is essentially to work to defeat all Republicans, Smith is adamant about protecting abortion rights.

"I don't think this country should leave to nine old people whose arteries are getting older all the time" the decision of whether a woman can have an abortion, he said.

The son of a Ukrainian immigrant father, Smith grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1932, the heart of the Depression. He brags that he's the only candidate who had the pleasure of voting against President Herbert Hoover.

Today in History - Bobby Sands, MP Edition

It was today in 1981 that Bobby Sands began his hunger strike for prisoner's rights.

Here is a good song about it by Black 47.

Great Job Gregg!

Credit Where Credit is Due (from the Action Wisconsin Blog)...

A highlight of today's debate came when Representative Gregg Underheim stood up to tell his fellow Republicans to vote against the amendment. If discrimination is appropriate for our Constitution, he wanted to know, then where does it end?

Here're the highlights:

Constitutions protect individuals from undue intrusion into their lives by government. The right to free speech is a constitutional prohibition on governmental restriction. Freedom of religion is a restriction that says government can't prevent you from worshipping as you want. Passing this today will change the nature of the Constitution. This is anti-constiutional.

Constitutions ought not treat gay people differently than anyone else. This ban moves us from protecting people to disenfranchising them.

What we are doing today is wrong.

This is an anti-constitutional act. In virtually no other area do constitutions prohibit indivduals from participating in a specific activity. We today are singling out a group of people and saying you will be restricted from engaging in a specific activity. What or who is next? We are now saying that it is acceptable that this document single out specific people. It is the wrong thing to do.

What social policy are we going to put into the Constitution next? When the constitutions are evicerated, some college professor is going to look back, and ask, “How did this happen?” It was Republicans that decided to do that. How did that happen? The one thing the Democrats never did was this. They never wrote a constitutional amendment that ensconced social policy. The never sat down and said they were going to put social policy in the constitution.

Today, we are crossing a line, a line the matters.

We are crossing a line that says it is okay to put our policy preferences in the constitution for perpetuity. That is not the role of this document. We are so overstepping those bounds, it is frightening. We should not be doing this, and I hope that people on my side of the aisle will vote with a clear conscience.

Kinda Sad, Really

D’oh! More know Simpsons than Constitution
Study: America more familiar with cartoon family than First Amendment

CHICAGO - Americans apparently know more about “The Simpsons” than they do about the First Amendment.

Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

But more than half can name at least two members of the cartoon family, according to a survey.

The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with
just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

Joe Madeira, director of exhibitions at the museum, said he was surprised by the results.

“Part of the survey really shows there are misconceptions, and part of our mission is to clear up these misconceptions,” said Madeira, whose museum will be dedicated to helping visitors understand the First Amendment when it opens in April. “It means we have our job cut out for us.”

The survey found more people could name the three “American Idol” judges than identify three First Amendment rights. They were also more likely to remember popular advertising slogans.

It also showed that people misidentified First Amendment rights. About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination contained in the Fifth Amendment was a First Amendment right, the survey found.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Jan. 20-22 by the research firm Synovate and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Editor's note: The five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.

That sound you don't hear is your freedom slipping away.


Threats to Marriage:

Go read Xoff here. It is worth it.

"It's time our commander in chief stopped stage-managing his troops and listened to them."

Kristoff in the NYTimes:

A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq — and soon.

The poll is the first of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?"

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw "immediately."

That's one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even the American troops on the ground don't buy into it — and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale.

While the White House emphasizes the threat from non-Iraqi terrorists, only 26 percent of the U.S. troops say that the insurgency would end if those foreign fighters could be kept out. A plurality believes that the insurgency is made up overwhelmingly of discontented Iraqi Sunnis.

So what would it take to win in Iraq? Maybe that was the single most depressing finding in this poll.

By a two-to-one ratio, the troops said that "to control the insurgency we need to double the level of ground troops and bombing missions." And since there is zero chance of that happening, a majority of troops seemed to be saying that they believe this war to be unwinnable.

In Case You Wanted to Know Where the Democrats Stand on Individual Rights:

DPW: Wineke: Mean-Spirited Amendment Discriminates

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

GOP Promoting Hatred and Ignorance in Attempt to Gain Votes in November

MADISON – Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke released the following statement today in advance of the expected vote by the Republican-run State Assembly to approve a constitutional amendment that would jeopardize existing legal protections for unmarried couples in Wisconsin, ban civil unions outright, and discriminate against gays and lesbians:

“Today, legislative Republicans are set to pass a constitutional amendment that is
unnecessary, mean-spirited, and discriminatory. Put simply: Wisconsin Republicans are promoting hatred, ignorance, and bigotry in a disgraceful attempt to gain votes at the election booth in November. It is absolutely despicable, and Republican legislators should be ashamed of themselves.

“Never before has the State of Wisconsin added a clause to its state constitution that would discriminate against one group of people. At a time when we should be promoting and ensuring civil rights and liberties for all Americans, Republicans want to turn back the clock. With this vote today, Republicans will bring Wisconsin one step closer to writing discrimination into our state constitution.

“Any way you look at it, this proposed constitutional amendment promotes discrimination – plain and simple. The Legislature should never be a part of it, and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will never condone it. The legislature surely has better things to do than put hate into our constitution -- like passing proposals that make health care, home heating and higher education more affordable for the middle class. It is my hope that voters will reject this shameful amendment and the GOP agenda of fear this November.”

Here's Something People in Politics Should Remember...

Want to live longer? See glass as half-full
Study shows optimists are blessed with better health

CHICAGO - Optimism is good for the heart, a study said on Monday.

The most optimistic among a group of 545 Dutch men age 64 to 84 had a roughly 50 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death over 15 years of follow-up, according to the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Previous research has suggested being optimistic boosts overall physical health and lowers the risk of death from all causes. A positive attitude also has been shown to help patients who suffer from heart disease caused by narrowed arteries.

Good Letter:

State is only a minority shareholder

Republican gubernatorial candidates Scott Walker and Mark Green need to take Economics 101 before continuing to blast the University of Wisconsin System's policies on pay and out-of-state tuition ("Walker wants to shake up UW System," Feb. 23).

UW is a "state-assisted" system, receiving only about 30% of its revenues from state allocations, down from over 50% two decades ago. The State of Wisconsin is a minority shareholder, so to speak, but still wants to act as if it owns the system.

If the state wants to create more access to UW for Wisconsin residents, then it needs to invest more money in the system to pay their way. If not, people from other states are lined up ready and willing to pay for those seats and to invest in UW, which has become, de facto, a semi-private school. Welcome to the market economy in higher education.

Gregory Jay
Whitefish Bay

Funny Crossed Names:

Scott Walker, 42, of 904 Madison St. was arrested on suspicion of possession a controlled substance and was taken to the Boone County Jail, where he was freed on a $5,000 bond.


I just might be able to see the future.

November 2004 - as my fellow Democrats were comiserating the Kerry loss, the comforting words that I would offer were always, "Don't worry, Nixon was re-elected too."

Well, now we see this:

The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.

Mr. Bush's overall job rating has fallen to 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.

For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn't care, compared to 47 percent last fall.

Just 30 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling the Iraq war, another all-time low.

By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly – the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq.

Even on fighting terrorism, which has long been a strong suit for Mr. Bush, his ratings dropped lower than ever. Half of Americans say they disapprove of how he's handling the war on terror, while 43 percent approve.

Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January.

Looks like they are coming around. Let's hope for the impeachment and resignation...

NYTimes Misses an Important Part of the Story

I urge you to read this story about the falling wages and middle class hopes for manufacturing in the midwest. They mainly focus on Caterpillar.

They discuss in depth the two-tier contract forced on the UAW workers where new workers will gat half the pay of older workers:

"I remind them they are making more now than they were before they came to Cat," said Mr. Doty, who spends part of his day at the one-story union hall of United Automobile Workers Local 974 arguing that $12 to $13 an hour is good pay here. "And I assure them that five years down the road, when the present contract expires, we in the union are going to improve their lot in life."

That does not seem likely. After more than a decade of failed strikes and job actions — mainly in Illinois, where Caterpillar has its biggest factories — the U.A.W. reluctantly accepted a two-tier contract that provides for significantly lower wages and benefits for newly hired employees. The new second tier is as much as $20 an hour below the cost of employing Mr. Doty, 50, and a dwindling band of other veterans.

The CEO of Caterpillar responds with:

"What we've done is reposition ourselves to actually grow employment in our Midwestern plants," said Jim Owens, Caterpillar's chief executive. "We finally have a labor cost that is viable."

This leads to a long discussion of the workers wages and opportunities for growth.

What's missing?

What is the CEO's wage? What multiplier of the average wage is it? What multiplier of the average wage was it 20 years ago?

What % of pay change and bonus has there been in management and executive overall?

By leaving out this part of the story, they have neglacted a major part of the reasons for the growing divide in America and the disolution of our middle class.

The Rich Really Are Getting Richer:

Here are the numbers from Krugman in the NYTimes:

A new research paper by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, "Where Did the Productivity Growth Go?," gives the details. Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per year. So being in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, like being a college graduate, wasn't a ticket to big income gains.

But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint.

Just to give you a sense of who we're talking about: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that this year the 99th percentile will correspond to an income of $402,306, and the 99.9th percentile to an income of $1,672,726. The center doesn't give a number for the 99.99th percentile, but it's probably well over $6 million a year.


Quote of the Day - Civil Unions and Individual Rights Edition:

The last time we wrote discrimination into the Constitution was the original 3/5ths clause and slavery. Along with denying women the vote, the most reprehensible acts of our founders. We learned the lessons of history, and gave equal and free representation to these groups.

Now, the Wisconsin Republican Legislators want to write discrimination back into Wisconsin's founding document. Let's look back at what the leaders of the previous anti-discrimination movements said.

This quote was just featured on an NPR show about the early days of the Constitution I was watching. It struck a nerve to me and our current debates:

Has the God who made the white men and the black left any record as declaring us different species?Are we not supported by the same food, hurt by the same wounds, pleased with the same delights? And should we not then enjoy the same liberty, and be protected by the same laws?-James Forten, 1813

Interesting Points from a letter to the Cap Times:

Dear Editor: I see the Republicans are trying to be inscrutable in their races. Mark Green and Scott Walker are trying to be squeaky clean, incorruptible and fiscally responsible. Not one claim is true.
Mark Green came to Milwaukee in November with Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Ney went golfing on Jack Abramoff's credit card to St. Andrews golf course in Scotland. Mark Green took tainted money from Tom DeLay and Abramoff, and his chief aide goes to sporting events and gets wined and dined by Abramoff or his associates. Worse, he supports George Bush's irresponsible fiscal budgets, which leave us drowning in red ink.

Walker also states that everybody involved in the Tom Ament pension scandal should be sued, except the law firm that advised them, the same law firm that state Republican party chairman Rick Graber belongs to.

Jeffery Hall, Military Cartoonist:

Here is a really interesting namesake link:

Downrange by Jeffery Hall
It's only fitting that a man born on the 4th of July would go on to serve his country. Jeffery Hall has been associated with the military since 1988 and is currently a contractor working in Iraq and a SSgt in the Tennessee Air guard. Downrange is based on Jeff's daily OIF experiences and is published weekly in the Stars and Stripes, The Scimitar, and Freedom Watch.

More on the Local Labor Council Endorsement

As I posted here, I am very proud to have the support and endorsement of the Winnebago County Labor Council. I also posted my request for support in that post.

A member of the deciding body discussed the endorsement a little more here.

As to Jef Hall’s endorsement… We did not hold a question and answer for County Board candidates. Jef requested our support, and answered the questions we provided. Sometimes, we endorse based on the candidates actions. Jef has been a supporter of union issues and union activities in the past and we felt his history spoke for itself. We made the same call when the Winnebago County Labor Council was among the first to back Peg Lautenschlager for AG. If there are other County Board candidates who would like the Labor Councils endorsement, they should follow the same process and we will consider their request. Our next meeting will be on March 28th.

Thanks again to the hard working people of the Winnebago County Unions that have chosen to support me. I will continue to support the hard-working families of Winnebago and Wisconsin.

Amen, Streetwise! Shop Locally:

This comment is perfect:

The next time you get set to drive to Appleton or out to the highway to do some shopping, just take a moment and ask yourself whether you can find the same things at local stores and shops. You might think differently about how much we have here already.

County Board Size - Another View

Al Matano, a member of the Dane County Board discusses the new law for county board size adjustment here. Below are the resaons I agree with him:

Citizens will lose representation. It's simple arithmetic. Dane County's population is about 450,000. The County Board has 37 members. That means that each member represents about 12,000 citizens. Cut the number of members in half, as has been suggested, and each one would represent about 24,000 people.
As things are now, neighborhood associations and individuals can call on their local representatives the way they would call on a neighbor. If districts become large, that access will decrease. Double the number of people each member represents, and they will no longer be able to be so responsive.

Elections will become more expensive, preventing regular people
from running for office.
In this election cycle, only 10 races are contested, while 27 are uncontested. If we have half as many districts, a higher percentage will be contested, right? I don't think so. Making the mountain twice as tall won't result in more people taking on the challenge.

If each district doubles in size, campaign expenses will more than double. At present candidates largely spend their campaign money on printing and sometimes mailing campaign brochures, and their time ringing doorbells. This will not be possible if each candidate has to reach twice as many voters.
As the size of the districts increases, candidates will begin to advertise in media like radio and weekly newspapers. Campaigns will become more expensive and more distant from the voters. "Regular people" - people like some of the ones I tried to get to run in this election cycle - will not even consider running for office. Cutting the size of the Dane County Board in half will convert the body from a citizens'
legislature to a professional legislature.

The idea of cutting the size of a legislative body has a certain "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" kind of appeal, but it doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny. "Mr. Smith" would roust the corrupt legislators who have let government stagnate and are in office to serve their own interests. In reality, local governing bodies are populated by hard-working public servants who serve because they care about their community. We put in long hours deciding arcane issues because those issues matter in deciding the future of our community.

Mark Harris has his view here. Which I think is very valid.

I discussed this previously here.

Rep. Pocan has a great point on the Assembly calender:

Can You Get Paid for the Whole Year to Work Only Until March 9?

2006 is a good year to work at the State Capitol, according to Republican leadership. Word is that the GOP leaders want us to finish session on March 9 for the year. That gives us two weeks to finish all legislative activity. Bills that don’t pass will die.

How does the public perceive a legislature that doesn’t take up issues that really affect their lives, but quits trying in March and will likely still collect lots of per diem dollars on top of their salaries for the rest of the year?I think I know the answer.

Hint: Look for a lot of new faces coming to the legislature next year.

Read it all here.

Unfortunately, I think people will use this info to argue that we need a part-time legislature. I don't think that is the way to go. I discuss why here.

Just because bad legislators want to be paid full time for part time work, don't change the system - change the people.

And publicly finance campaigns.

An Unscientific View of Interest in Politics:

I have run this blog for almost 2 years, putting up information I felt important either for myself or others (I have a discussion on my thoughts on blogs here if you want to read more).

However, what are the most visited spots on the jef4wi blog?

#1 - my link to the Brokeback Mountain Parody

#2 - my link to a site that allows you to make South Park-style pictures

I think this is a very un-scientific study on why we have such low voter turnout....

Top Defense Dept People Knew of Torture

Text and Links from Mother Jones:

More documents prove that top defense officials approved of abuse at Guantanamo detention center
American Civil Liberties Union has released documents that prove that top Department of Defense officials endorsed interrogation methods at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp that the FBI described as both abusive and illegal.

“We now possess overwhelming evidence that political and military leaders endorsed interrogation methods that violate both domestic and international law,” said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU. “It is entirely unacceptable that no
senior official has been held accountable.”

A memo written in 2003 names
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, former Commander of Joint Task Force--Guantanamo, as favoring interrogation techniques that the FBI said “could easily result in the elicitation of unreliable and legally inadmissible information.” That memo also indicates that FBI personnel brought their concerns to senior Department of Defense officials, but those concerns were ignored.

A few days ago, The New Yorker released a memo from Alberto Mora, outgoing General Counsel of the U.S. Navy, which describes his unsuccessful efforts in 2002 and 2003 to convince the Pentagon to renounce the prisoner abuse at Guantanamo. One of the people he had trouble convincing was his boss, William J. Haynes II, General Counsel of the Department of Defense.

At one point, however, Haynes did take Mora's concerns to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who responded by joking that he himself often stood for eight hours a day. "Torture? That's not torture!" One of his staff members reminded him that he had the option to sit down whenever he chose.

Democrats Fighting for Wisconsin Residents in All Areas

Alex Hummel covers Joe Wineke's editorial board interview this week:

Dems still see blue in Oshkosh
Republican-led communities full of potential

There's a bulls-eye painted on Oshkosh, and it's "blue," not "red."

State Democratic leaders preparing for a Wisconsin-wide battle for power in Madison this fall are making no bones about the fact that long, Republican-led communities like Oshkosh are full of Democrat-potential in the looming elections.

"We believe very strongly that we have a decent chance of winning Underheim's seat, and I believe we can even beat Carol Owens," Wineke told The Northwestern during an editorial board visit last week.

Wineke's tour touting the party's new "Democratic Difference" platform, also took him to Appleton and Green Bay last week. The platform is focused on the middle class and slate of fundamental issues, from wages to affordable health care to energy cost assistance.

My favorite part of theis article is Rep. Owen's response:

"I've done the right things for the right people."

Click here to learn more about the Democratic Difference.

The Capital Times Dave Zweifel covers the Democratic Difference as well.

Joe Wineke, the former state senator from western Dane County and now the chairman of the sate Democratic Party, has embarked on a whirlwind trip this month visiting newspaper editorial boards around the state to remind them that not only is his party very much alive, but it has a plan to prove that it is the "true friend of middle-class families."

I can't remember the last time that the chairman of the Wisconsin Democrats came to visit us, which either means that they've taken The Capital Times for granted all these years or they just haven't worked very hard at getting their message out. I suspect it's more of the latter.

Wineke is determined to change that and he bristles when he hears political pundits contend that Democrats don't have a message that can win elections in what those pundits insist is today's more conservative or, at least, middle-of-the-road voting climate.

"That's nonsense," he said. "All but one of our constitutional officers, both our U.S. senators, half of our House members are Democrats and Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in each of the last five elections. How can anyone say we don't win elections?"

He does acknowledge, though, that the party has an image problem nationally. That, he said, is because the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to define them. He recounted a recent appearance on a radio show in which a caller insisted that Democrats are "anti-family," as if just to be a Democrat means a person isn't happily married, doesn't have good kids and doesn't go to church on Sundays.

"I'll tell you who is anti-family," he fumed. "It's the party that constantly votes against providing schools with resources they need, the party that votes against every attempt to extend health care and prescription drugs to people, the party that supports continuing a questionable war that is costing our sons' and daughters' lives."

The Democratic Party needs to make that clear and quit letting Republicans and their clever marketing campaigns tell Americans what the Democrats supposedly stand for.

Wineke, who has been the party chairman since last June, is armed on his visits with a stack of literature that compares the Democrats with Republicans in Wisconsin on everything from health care to education, from the economy to the environment, comparisons that he promises will be told "loud and clear" to Wisconsin voters this year.

Will Jenson Bring Down Green and Walker?

In his bid to clear his own name and salvage his political career, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha, is apparently ready to sacrifice the two Republican candidates for governor.
During Jensen's corruption case this week, former legislative staffers have implicated aides to both Republican gubernatorial candidates - U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker - in having them do illegal campaign work on state time and using state resources.
According to the testimony, the incidents occurred while the aides were still working in the Legislature and, for the most part, before they had gone to work for either Green or Walker, who were both members of the Assembly while Jensen was speaker.
But the effect has still been devastating, with recent headlines focusing on both Green's and Walker's role in the scandal that have renewed questions about what both men knew about illegal campaigning by legislative staff members.