Diebold On Winnebago17

For anyone that is watching the Diebold Touchscreen Voting Issue in Winnebago County - check out my County Board blog: Winnebago17 - where I am posting updates and research.

Please send me any info you have to:


(this is an email address for County Board business)


Today's Press Release: Republican Leader Brings Anti-Reform Message to Fox Valley

Republican Leader Brings Anti-Reform Message to Fox Valley

OSHKOSH – The man who killed the recent ethics reform bill, Assembly Majority leader Mike Huebsch, will visit the Oshkosh area Thursday Night, spreading his anti-campaign reform agenda to attendees at a Fox Valley fundraiser for 54th Assembly District candidate Julie Leschke.

Despite the convictions of five Wisconsin legislative leaders on campaign fraud charges, Huebsch lead the charge to strike down Senate Bill 1, a campaign and ethics reform bill with broad bi-partisan support. The defeat of SB1 was described by the Oshkosh Northwestern as an “Incumbent Protection Plan” in an April 21 Editorial that keeps legislators like Huebsch safely in office.

The new majority leader has been described as a “powerful … legislator who [is an[ aggressive campaign fundraiser with close ties to powerful lobbyists,” for whom improved ethics implementations could be problematic (Capital Times, April 22, 2006). Despite the recent convictions of five Wisconsin legislators on campaign fraud charges, including close Huebsch colleague Scott Jensen, sentenced earlier this week to 15 months in prison, Huebsch has still stated he is proud of Wisconsin’s ethical practices — a claim the Janesville Gazette called “so pathetic.” (May 6, 2006).

“Perhaps Huebsch prefers not to reform campaign finance rules so that he can continue to receive hefty donations from special interest groups who want to continue to buy their way into power,” said Jef Hall, Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair.

“Ms. Leschke told the Northwestern she agreed with SB 1’s ‘spirit’ without committing to backing the actual reform bill. You either support ethics reform or you don’t. The 54th District deserve someone who takes a firm, principled position like Gordon Hintz has, not rhetoric. Actions speak louder than words - featuring Huebsch at her fundraiser suggests Ms. Leschke is out of step with Oshkosh voters’ demands for clean government.”

According to a Wisconsin State Journal May 15 Editorial “There is reason to believe that the Assembly would approve ethics reform, if Gard and Huebsch would permit a fair vote.”

Roger Utnehmer, president and general manager of the Door County Daily News, wrote recently “Shamefully, Assembly Speaker John Gard and Majority Leader Mike Huebsch have led a reform blockade that can only be viewed as an attempt to protect unethical behavior..... Members of the Republican Party would be wise to look to others who support clean government for leadership…..”

”And so would Oshkosh.” Hall concluded.


Join Us In the Democratic Difference!

Democratic Difference Rally!

This weekend, the Republicans will be holding their State Convention in Appleton.

Join your fellow Democrats to show the Republicans why Democrats are going to win in November!

Speakers will include 8th Congressional District Candidates Steve Kagen, Nancy Nusbaum, Jamie Wall, Representative Tom Nelson and candidates for the State Assembly from throughout NE Wisconsin!

WHERE: Houdini Plaza - Corner of Appleton St & College Ave, Appleton
Just Down the Street from the Republican State Convention
Parking at Lawrence St & Appleton St Parking Ramp

WHEN: Saturday, May 20th, 10am

For more information, please call Hope at (920) 569-6226 or email winshiph@dnc.org

Pass it on!

We'll see you there!

Problems With Part D - Part 1,223..

Krugman covers the many start up problems, summing it up with:

But Part D's bad start isn't just another illustration of the administration's trademark incompetence. It's also an object lesson in what happens when the government is run by people who aren't interested in the business of governing.

Here are examples:

Even Mr. Bush has acknowledged that signing up for the program is a confusing process. But, he says, "there is plenty of help for you." Yeah, right.

There's a number that people needing help with Part D can call. But when the program first went into effect, there were only 300 customer service representatives standing by. (Remember, there are 43 million Medicare recipients.)

There are now 7,500 representatives, making it easier to reach someone. But should you believe what you're told? Maybe not. A survey by the Government Accountability Office found that when Medicare recipients asked for help in determining which plan would cover their medications at the lowest cost, they were given the right answer only 41 percent of the time.
Adding drug coverage as part of ordinary Medicare would also have saved a lot of money, both by eliminating the cost of employing private insurance companies as middlemen and by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. This would have made it possible to offer a better benefit at much less cost to taxpayers.

But while a straightforward addition of drug coverage to Medicare would have been good policy, it would have been bad politics from the point of view of conservatives, who want to privatize traditional social insurance programs, not make them better.

Moreover, administration officials and their allies in Congress had both political and personal incentives not to do anything that might reduce the profits of insurance and drug companies. Both the insurance industry and, especially, the pharmaceutical industry are major campaign contributors. And soon after the drug bill was passed, the congressman and the administration official most responsible for drafting the legislation both left public service to become lobbyists.

So what we got was a drug program set up to serve the administration's friends and its political agenda, not the alleged beneficiaries. Instead of providing drug coverage directly, Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies. The administration's insistence on running the program through these companies, which provide little if any additional value beyond what Medicare could easily have provided directly, is what makes the whole thing so complicated. And that complication, combined with an obvious lack of interest in making the system work, is what led to the disastrous start-up.

Not to Say I Told You So, But....

Didn't we really know all this would happen back in Nov 2004?

Confidence in GOP is at new low in poll
Democrats favored to address gas, health care in particular

Public confidence in GOP governance has plunged to the lowest levels of the Bush presidency, with Americans saying by wide margins that they now trust Democrats more than Republicans to deal with Iraq, the economy, immigration and other issues, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that underscores the GOP's fragile grip on power six months before the midterm elections.

Dissatisfaction with the administration's policies in Iraq has overwhelmed other issues as the source of problems for President Bush and the Republicans. The survey suggests that pessimism about the direction of the country -- 69 percent said the nation is now off track -- and disaffection with Republicans has dramatically improved Democrats' chances to make gains in November.

Democrats are now favored to handle all 10 issues measured in the Post-ABC News poll. The survey shows a majority of the public, 56 percent, saying they would prefer to see Democrats in control of Congress after the elections.

The poll offers two cautions for the Democrats, however. One is a growing disaffection with incumbents generally. When asked whether they were inclined to reelect their current representative to Congress or look around for someone new, 55 percent said they were open to someone else, the highest since just before Republicans captured control of Congress in 1994. That suggests that some Democratic incumbents could feel the voters' wrath, although as the party in power, Republicans have more at risk.
Only a third want the GOP to remain in the majority in Congress. Nearly three times as many Americans say they will use the elections to express opposition to the president (30 percent) than to show support for him (12 percent).
The current president's decline has been particularly steep among Republicans, who until last month had remained generally loyal while independents and Democrats grew increasingly critical. According to the survey, Bush's disapproval rating among Republicans has nearly doubled in the past month, from 16 percent to 30 percent, while his approval rating dipped below 70 percent for the first time. Nearly nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents do not like the job Bush is doing as president.
Bush's fading popularity is matched by waning popular support for the Republican-held Congress. A third of the country approves of the job Congress is doing -- identical to the president's poor job performance rating -- and a 10-year low. Even Republicans are divided over the performance of the Republican-controlled Congress: 49 percent approved while 47 disapproved, a view shared by seven in 10 Democrats and political independents.
By 2 to 1 or better, the public preferred Democrats to handle gas prices and health care. And by double-digit margins, they preferred Democrats to deal with education (23 percentage points), the budget (20 points), the economy (18 points) and protecting privacy (15 points). Democrats also had a 14-point edge on handling Iraq, immigration and taxes.

Only on terrorism did Republicans come close -- though, by 46 to 41 percent, the public still preferred the Democrats.


On one other measure, incumbents look slightly less threatened. More than three in five, 62 percent, said they approve of the way their own representative is doing his or her job, up from 59 percent last month. At this point in 1994, an equal percentage gave good ratings to their representatives, but by October that number had plunged to 49 percent.

The ability of people to let themselves be duped is amazing!


Life in the Bubble:

First lady Laura Bush said on Sunday she does not believe opinion polls showing her husband's approval ratings at record low levels.

Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Laura Bush said she did not think people were losing confidence in President George W. Bush, despite a series of polls showing support for him at its lowest point in his five-year presidency and among the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.

"I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country. I see people, I see their responses to my husband. I see their response to me," she said.

"As I travel around the United States, I see a lot of appreciation for him. A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Stay the course'."

How are we supposed to station troops on the border?

U.S. reserves nearly 'broken,' says chief
Iraq, Afghan conflicts sap military resources

The U.S. Army Reserve, tapped heavily to provide soldiers for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is “degenerating into a ‘broken’ force” due to dysfunctional military policies, the Army Reserve’s chief said in a memo made public Wednesday.

“I do not wish to sound alarmist. I do wish to send a clear, distinctive signal of deepening concern,” Lt. Gen. James Helmly said in a Dec. 20 memo to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.

There is a real problem with trying to solve every problem by throwing troops at it...

Privacy Alert: Bush Administration Tracking Reporters Calls to Get Sources

From the ABC News Blog:

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling
May 15, 2006
10:33 AM
Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.
Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.

The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

Lennon not seeking re-election

Winnebago County DA will not seek re-election

Winnebago County Dist. Atty. Bill Lennon announced Monday afternoon that he does not plan to run for re-election.

"I came to this job with the goal of restoring honesty and integrity to the district attorney's office," Lennon said in a news release. "I believe I have achieved that goal and will look back at my time in office as one of my proudest accomplishments."

Lennon cited his defeat in April in the race for Winnebago County Circuit Court judge as part of his motivation for leaving public office. Lennon was defeated by Karen Seifert for the Branch 4 seat.

"I feel it is time to look to new opportunities for me and my family," Lennon said.

Lennon thanked his supporters for help, and wished luck to the candidates who will run for district attorney this fall. Lennon urged candidates to refrain from "the types of personal attacks that marred (his) campaign for district attorney against Joe Paulus and E.J. Jelinski."

Lennon was elected district attorney in 2002 and re-elected in 2004.

Give him credit where it is due - it is classy of him to announce well before it is time to take out nomination papers. It will give people who want to run a chance to think it over.

What If?

Al Gore on SNL.


Oshkosh Northwestern: No Need for the Death Penalty

Read it all here:

There isn't a compelling reason in modern-day Wisconsin to have a death penalty. It hasn't served as a deterrent in states that have it. We don't need it here.

State Sen. Alan Lasee, R-De Pere, has authored a bill for a non-binding vote on the November ballot about bringing back the death penalty. But it's a referendum looking for a problem.

Note - as I pointed out before Rep. Dean Kaufert was also in on it.

Right now, Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states with the District of Columbia that lack the death penalty. The penalty is an idea that doesn't live up to its promise. It isn't a powerful enough deterrent to crime.

There is an appeal, admittedly, to survivors who know someone who was murdered and would want the death penalty for the criminal. But we need the rule
of rationality and not the rule of emotion to guide our justice system. Revenge is a poor basis for creating good law.

Facts show that states with the death penalty have a credibility problem. They sentence the wrong people to death. Likewise, death penalty states sometimes place too much trust in DNA for evidence. DNA evidence isn't always conclusive. The several reversals of wrongful convictions have shown this.

States with a death row also can exhibit a strong rush to justice. Gary Nelson of Georgia was wrongly sentenced to death in 1978 for a murder of a child he didn't commit. He wasn't freed as an innocent man until 1991. The hype around the 1978 sentencing overshadowed the need for the rational rule of law.

Even the phrase for the issue is incorrect. The concept should be called the "discrimination penalty." A person who is low-income or a minority has a higher chance as a criminal to get sentenced to death row. At its core, the death penalty is the antithesis of the Civil Rights movement. It gives a voice to racial discrimination that would be illegal in any other context.

The bottom line should be proof enough, truthfully, to avoid wanting a death penalty. The legal costs of prisoners fighting to stay alive exceed the cost of "three hots and a cot" to imprison the person over the same length of years. Smart states should ban the death penalty on excessive costs of appeals alone.

In sum, our state experience, rational thought, death of innocents, discrimination and high costs aren't welcome here. We haven't had a death penalty since 1853. We don't need one now.

Leave the death penalty off the law books of the state of Wisconsin. This isn't a state that wants a reputation for sentencing innocents to death.

The Final Thought: Wisconsin shouldn't enact a death penalty. A non-binding referendum on the death penalty in November should be defeated.