Thoughts for St. Pat's

I thought this was great - from an essay on Irish Pub's in the NYTimes:

And here are some more glorious and sorrowful mysteries: how race and nation, faith and place, define and divide us endlessly; how ethnicity makes fast friends of strangers and also poisons the well of humanity; how religion calls us to worship and so miscalculates our Gods. If there is only one God — as all Muslims, Christian and Jews believe — then isn't the one we believe in one and the same? If there is no God, aren't we off only by one? And if there are many, aren't there plenty to go around?


Quote of the Day (Bretton Woods Edition)

Altercation has this gem in a review of the book "A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights" by Elizabeth Borgwardt

The review was written by Eric Rauchway - in it he says:

The only way our interconnected world can survive is if everyone sees the benefit of staying in the game. Sticking up for our rights means sticking up for everyone’s rights; preserving our prosperity means pointing a way toward everyone’s prosperity. Preserving our credibility means playing by the rules. Respect for the rule of law is a political choice, and one that we should again make synonymous with The American Way, in our own interest.

Where is the next Roosevelt?

Today in History - Is it repeating? Edition

Today in History:
Truongan, South Vietnam, Nov. 16 -- A group of South Vietnamese villagers reported today that a small American infantry unit killed 567 unarmed men, women and children as it swept through their hamlet on March 16, 1968.

Today in Today:
U.S. launches largest Iraq air assault in 3 years
50 aircraft, 1,500 soldiers attack targets north of Baghdad

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating in Salahuddin, a province that includes Samarra, a town located 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Let's hope there is more care taken than in 1968, or that was taken yesterday:
U.S. forces flattened a house during a raid north of Baghdad early Wednesday, killing 11 people — mostly women and children, while insurgent attacks elsewhere left four dead, police and relatives said.

Remeber to keep the innocents of this war in your thoughts as well as our fighting forces.

Bush Freefall Continues, and the People Want Democrats in Congress

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll might sound like a broken record, but the tune grows louder as congressional midterm elections get closer and closer: President Bush is once again facing the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, the lowest percentage of Americans who believe the country is headed in the right direction, and an electorate that greatly prefers a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled one.

Yet the poll also shows something else that goes beyond the November midterm elections: A strong majority believes Bush is experiencing a long-term setback from which he’s unlikely to recover. “He’s losing his grip on governance,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican Bill McInturff. “It’s now a sense that we’ve seen the best that he’s going to produce as president of the United States.”

Indeed, it’s the situation in Iraq that appears to be at the heart of Bush’s problems. According to the poll — which was taken of 1,005 adults from March 10-13, and which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points — 61 percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of the situation. Moreover, 57 percent are less confident that the war in Iraq will come to a successful conclusion, which is a seven-point increase since December. And 61 percent say the United States should reduce the number of troops there, while just 31 percent want to maintain the current troop level.

Looking ahead to the midterm elections in November, the poll shows that 50 percent prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress versus 37 percent who want it controlled by Republicans. McInturff says it’s a “problematic environment” for the Republicans. “You are working harder as a Republican [candidate] because you are pushing uphill.”

Good News for Oshkosh Tourism:

From today's Northwestern:

EAA Museum benefits from Titanic exhibit
I'm pleased to report that over the past few weeks there has been a noticeable increase in visitation to the EAA AirVenture Museum. However, we certainly can't take credit for it ourselves. The reason is the Titanic exhibit at the Oshkosh Public Museum bringing a large increase in out-of-town visitors!

We know from our own experience that such undertakings require significant organizational effort, and also carry a certain degree of risk. It's wonderful to see the exhibit having been a titanic success, raising the profile of the Oshkosh Public Museum and, in fact, benefiting the entire local tourism economy.

I'd like to congratulate and thank the Board, staff and volunteers of the Oshkosh Public Museum for their fine endeavors, and we hope to repay the favor later in the year, when the EAA AirVenture Museum takes its first trip into space.

Adam E Smith Director, EAA AirVenture Museum, Oshkosh

Two Solutions to the 'Angel' Controversy

Make no mistake about it, it is illegal to put this statue up on public property. The Angel is a religious symbol.

However, instead of drawing lines in the sand and pushing personal agendas, as I suspect the parties involved will currently be predisposed to doing, I have seen 2 very good ideas for solving this issue.

It will be a test as to if the parties involved are really interested in 'the children' or if they merely want to push religious symbols into the public sphere.

The Northwestern today had this solution:

Our city should explore the role of being a facilitator on the issue as an alternative. We called people at Mercy Medical Center and Aurora Medical Center to see whether either would be receptive to hosting the statue, as many medical centers have an Angel of Hope. Both local hospitals are very receptive to acting as host for the Christmas Box Angel statue.

Also, local commentator Robert Nordlander copied me on a letter to the editor he submitted with this solution:

A monument celebrating childhood could include Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. That would be appropriate. It would celebrate life and leave the issue of angelic entities in the realm of the human imagination whence it sprang.

Lets hope that we can have an open, non-dogmatic dialog about this. There are reasonable solutions that follow the law.

Halliburton Endangers Troops

Memo: Halliburton failed to purify GIs’ water

Halliburton Co. failed to protect the water supply it is paid to purify for U.S. soldiers throughout Iraq, in one instance missing contamination that could have caused “mass sickness or death,” an internal company report concluded.

The contaminated, non-chlorinated water at Ar Ramadi was discovered in March 2005 in a commode by Ben Carter, a KBR water expert at the base. In an interview, Carter said he resigned after KBR barred him from notifying the military and senior company officials about the untreated water.

A supervisor at Ar Ramadi “told me to stop e-mailing” company officials outside the base and warned that informing the military “was none of my concern,” Carter said. He said he threatened to sue if company officials didn’t let him be examined to determine whether he suffered medical problems from exposure to the contaminated water.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press, said the company failed to assemble and use its own water purification equipment, allowing contaminated water directly from the Euphrates River to be used for washing and laundry at Camp Ar Ramadi in Ramadi, Iraq.

“Countrywide, all camps suffer to some extent from all or some of the deficiencies noted,” Wil Granger, Theatre Water Quality Manager in the war zone for Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary, wrote in his May 2005 report.

AP reported earlier this year allegations from whistleblowers about the Camp Ar Ramadi incident, but Halliburton never made public Granger’s internal report alleging wider problems.

The water quality expert warned Halliburton the problems “will have to be dealt with at a very elevated level of management” to protect health and safety of U.S. personnel.

I wonder who Halliburton was using as the water-purification expert?


On the Bush Budget:

Text and links from the Center for American Progress:


A Blueprint For Fiscal Disaster
This week, the Senate is debating the 2007 budget resolution, a blueprint for how Congress plans to allocate
$2.8 trillion in federal spending next year. The federal budget is a concrete embodiment of policy choices, a moral document that reflects the values and priorities of our nation. The budget that the Senate is currently debating runs counter to many of our nation's longest and deepest held beliefs; it prioritizes tax cuts for the rich and wasteful spending in the defense budget while shortchanging veterans benefits, education, health care, energy research, homeland security, housing for the elderly and disabled, and child care for working families. The Washington Post writes, "[I]t's time to pause and consider the unabashed recklessness of the Bush administration's fiscal policies and its unwillingness to alter its tax-cutting course to accommodate new budgetary realities." Indeed, while President Bush and his conservative allies claim their cuts to domestic programs are needed measures to assert fiscal discipline, the reality is that the Senate budget plan would actually increase the deficit over the next five years by $266 billion.


Recognizing that Congress needs to take action to address Bush's fiscal irresponsibility, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) offered an amendment to the budget resolution yesterday that would have imposed greater fiscal restraint. The right-wing rejected the so-called "pay-go" rules, requirements that tax cuts be offset by budget savings or revenue increases in order to prevent the deficit from growing even larger. "For those who say they are fiscally responsible, here is your chance,"
said Conrad. "You are going to be able to prove with one vote whether you are serious about doing something about these runaway debts and runaway deficits or
whether it is all talk." One of those right-wingers who failed to meet the test was Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). The amendment failed by a 50-50 vote after Coburn, who claims he is willing to
make the tough decisions to reform the way the government spends its money, switched his position from a pair of votes last fall. Conrad has pledged to re-introduce the "pay-go" amendment when the
Senate votes to increase the debt limit later this week, and the right wing will
have yet another chance to demonstrate whether it can back up its rhetoric with action.STRIKING THE WRONG BALANCE: The right wing has announced its
commitment to repeal the estate tax and make the Bush tax changes permanent. A repeal of the estate tax would cost nearly $1 trillion over the first 10 years of enactment. While a responsible reform could exempt about 99.5 percent of all estates from the tax and avoid the lion's share of costs, alleged "compromises" circulated by Senate Republicans would spend over 90 percent as much as repeal to help this tiny group of wealthy heirs. In all, once made permanent, the tax changes will eventually add over $400 billion to the debt and deliver over $100 billion to the richest one percent of tax payers each year. Bush is also proposing a $439.3 billion defense budget, and $67 billion in emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on top of that. Based on recommendations from American Progress Senior Fellow Larry Korb, progressive lawmakers identified $60 billion in military funding that goes to unnecessary Cold War-era programs that could be spent better elsewhere. To preserve his tax cuts for the rich and his costly defense programs, Bush is balancing the federal deficit on the backs of those who can least afford it. Some marginal spending measures that were recently rejected: $1.5 million for veteran's medical services, $2.8 billion for higher education funding, and $975 million for the widows and orphans of soldiers. Conservatives haven't been willing to march in complete lock-step with the Bush budget, however. Bush proposed cutting $7 billion from education and health care spending, hurting valuable programs that serve our nation's schoolchildren and cutting vital investments in public health, a move that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is now pushing to overturn. The Senate has turned back an administration effort to raise $800 million by imposing new fees on veterans for health care. Similarly, Bush proposed cutting $36 billion from Medicare, a move that was also rejected by the Senate. Reflecting on the impact of the budget spending priorities, Specter said, "We have done more than cut the fat. We have done more than cut through the muscle. We have done more than cut through to the bone. We have cut into the marrow. It is that serious."


Since Bush has been in office, the congressionally-set limit on the total national debt has risen from $5.95 trillion to the current ceiling of $8.184 trillion. "That is more than $28,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the United States." By this week's end, Congress will likely pass a resolution to dig the hole even deeper, permitting the federal debt to "grow by $781 billion to avoid a disastrous government default." The measure would allow the debt to grow to almost $9
trillion, an increase of $3 trillion since Bush took office. Last year's budget deficit came to $319 billion, the third-largest deficit ever recorded. This year, the deficit is expected swell to
$371 billion. Even Bush's newly-appointed Federal Reserve chief recognizes the unsustainable fiscal course that the president has led us down. "The prospective increase in the budget deficit will place at risk future living standards of our country," Ben Bernanke said yesterday. "I am quite concerned about
the intermediate to long-term federal budget outlook."

They hate us for our freedom....

U.S. forces flattened a house during a raid north of Baghdad early Wednesday, killing 11 people — mostly women and children, while insurgent attacks elsewhere left four dead, police and relatives said.
The U.S. military acknowledged the raid and said it captured one insurgent. It took place near Balad, about 50 miles north of the capital. But the military said only four people were killed — a man, two women and a child.


Why isn't this bigger news?

From a 'Headlines' email I get daily from MSNBC:

Retail sales drop more than expected
Retail sales fell a larger-than-expected 1.3 percent in February as auto sales plunged and consumers took a breather after spending big in January, a government report showed on Tuesday.

U.S. current account deficit hits record
America's deficit in the broadest measure of international trade surged to an all-time high of $804.9 billion last year as the country went deeper into debt to


Doonesbury on the Importance of Blogs...

Post-Crescent Gets it Right - WI Republicans are Wrong

Thumbs Down
To Republicans in the Legislature, for effectively killing a bill that would have provided high-quality body armor for Wisconsin members of the Army Reserve and National Guard who are sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. After concerns about the military's inadequate body armor, state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Rep. Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, crafted a bill that would provide funding for the body armor. The bill was supposed to have been taken up by a Senate committee last week but was pulled before the hearing without explanation. Attempts to attach the bill as an amendment to related bills were denied, too.

Media Criticism:

My favorite pundit is goming to UWGB - I urge everyone to come see how a real media critic works:

Author will speak on liberalism at UW-Green Bay
GREEN BAY-"How Did Liberalism Become a Four-Letter Word?" will be the topic for author Eric Alterman when he speaks at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 15 in the Christie Theater located in the University Union at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, 2420 Nicolet Dr. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Alterman is the author of the best selling 2003 book, "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News." "National Catholic Reporter" has described Alterman as "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today."
Alterman also had a bestseller with "The Book on Bush: How George W. Bush (Mis)Leads America" (2004). His most recent book is "When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences," a historical examination of four specific post-World War II presidential lies.
Alterman is a professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, media columnist for "The Nation," the "Altercation" weblogger for MSNBC.com, and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress where he writes and edits the "Think Again" column.
Alterman's book, "Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy," won the 1992 George Orwell Award, and "It Ain't No Sin to be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen" won the 1999 Stephen Crane Award. Alterman lectures frequently, contributes to many national publications, and has been a columnist for "Worth," "Rolling Stone," "Mother Jones," and "The [London] Sunday Express."

Newsweek CW on the Sopranos New Season:

America's true First Family is back, with better ratings and firearm-safety record than White House.

Budget Cuts to Family Services Hurt Kids in Mississippi

Something to think about as we make budgets in Wisconsin and Winnebago County (from an opinion piece by Bob Hebert in the NYTimes):

When it comes to providing desperately needed services for children who have been beaten, starved, sexually abused or otherwise mistreated, the state of Mississippi offers what is probably the worst-case scenario.

Way back in 1992 the Child Welfare League of America issued a blistering report about the backward state of affairs in Mississippi. The league warned that vulnerable children would suffer irreparable harm if steps weren't taken to reduce caseloads, increase staffing and locate additional foster care and adoptive homes.

In 2001, Sue Perry, the state's director of family and children's services, warned top state officials that "the crisis needs to be addressed by whomever has the power to rectify the situation — before a tragedy occurs."

She quit the following year, saying in a letter to then-Governor Ronnie Musgrove that the system was starved for resources and had deteriorated so badly that protecting the children had become "an impossible task." At the time she wrote the letter, Ms. Perry was being directed to abolish 88 additional full-time positions.

She told the governor that Mississippi's children had been placed at such great risk that some would die. "I am sorry to inform you," she said, "that this has already happened in DeSoto County. A 19-month-old child was brutally beaten by his stepfather in a case known to this agency."

Warnings don't get much louder, but the honchos in Mississippi were in no mood to listen. These were poor kids, after all. What claim did they have on the state's resources?

Two years after Ms. Perry resigned, Gov. Haley Barbour acknowledged that the state's Department of Human Services had "collapsed for lack of management and a lack of leadership." Collapsed. That was the governor's word. Was he serious? Was he planning to do something about it? You must be joking. He made the comment as he was announcing additional budget cuts for the agency.

Mississippi doesn't even try to fully staff its Division of Family and Children Services. Caseloads for child protective workers are absurdly high. Where national standards call for a maximum of 12 to 17 cases per worker (depending on the types of cases involved), there are counties in Mississippi where the average caseload for workers is 100 and beyond. According to the lawsuit, the average caseload in Lamar County is 130.

How bad is Mississippi? In the papers compiled by Children's Rights for its lawsuit is a reference to testimony by a key official of the Department of Human Services, who said the state would "not necessarily investigate" whether sexual abuse had occurred if a "little girl" contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

“There is no area in which the people think the Republicans are better able to handle the problems than are the Democrats.”

Who said that, Howard Dean? Hillary?


The head of the American Conservative Union warned Wisconsin conservatives that many Republican politicians are losing the support of their base and that the situation could lead to a loss of GOP congressional control.

We've got them on the ropes, but they know it - we cannot stop our efforts.

"A conviction is not reform..."

Those were the words of Lt. Gov. Lawton yesterday.

Something to remember as we put the Jensen verdict (rightfully) in the Republicans craw. Green and Walker do have answers they owe us on what their parts in Jensen's actions were.

Howevr, we need to continue to seek reform in electioneering and fundraising. Up to and including full public funding of campaigns.


Doyle Recognizes Tibetan Community and Struggle

The Governor of the State of Wisconsin Jim Doyle issued a Proclamation recognizing The Wisconsin Tibetan community and their plea for justice on the 47th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day and proclaiming March 10th as Tibet Day in Wisconsin.

A PROCLAMATION WHEREAS, the United States Congress has enacted legislation declaring Tibet an occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile; and

WHEREAS, the United Nations Human Rights Sub commission has passed a resolution concerning the present threat to the distinct cultural, religious, and national identity of the Tibetan people; and

WHEREAS, the suppression of human rights and freedom in Tibet must be the concern of all freedom-loving people everywhere; and

WHEREAS, on March 10, 2006, Tibetans throughout the world will gather in their host countries to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising against the Chinese occupation of their country and honor more than a million Tibetans who have died in their struggle for the independence of Tibet; and

WHEREAS, the Wisconsin Tibetan Association and the Wisconsin Chapter Of Students For Free Tibet will gather to commemorate this day at the Capitol of the State of Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting that we recognize Wisconsin’s Tibetan community and their plea for justice on this 47th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day; NOW,

THEREFORE, I, Jim Doyle, Governor of the State of Wisconsin do hereby proclaim March 10, 2006 TIBET DAY in the State of Wisconsin, and I commend this observance to all citizens.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin to be affixed. Done at the Capitol in the City of Madison this third day of March in the year two thousand six.

Another Jeff Hall

Jeff Hall, news director of WJCW-Radio