"Pigs Fly"

Jamir Wall has a good add out there - see it here.

Will the PA Greens Give the Money Back Now?

Text and links from the Center for American Progress:


Last month, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and a member of his staff met with Adrien Shanker and three other college students representing the gay rights group Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC). Following the meeting, Santorum posed with the students for a picture and signed a statement saying "sexual orientation and gender identity...is not a consideration in the hiring, promoting or terminating of an employee in my office." GenderPAC praised the senator for the move, stating it "puts him in good company with 169 other Members of Congress who have signed this statement." But yesterday, Santorum's office faxed the group a statement withdrawing his support. "To be clear, myoffice has not adopted the proposed 'diversity statement' nor the agenda of your organization," their office said in a fax.
"My name should no longer be reported as having adopted the 'diversity
statement.'" Shanker said he was "frustrated" with Santorum's "
flip-flopped message."

Quote of the Day

“If you landed here from Mars and looked at Congress’s agenda,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, “you’d think that the problem in America is that rich people don’t have enough money.”

Endorsement Raises More Questions on Campaign Reform Survey

Endorsement Raises More Questions on Campaign Reform Survey
Anti-reform group backs Pung Leschke

OSHKOSH – The recent endorsement of Republican Assembly candidate Julie Pung Leschke by an organization that publicly opposes election reform calls into question the candidate’s true position on clean government. It also contradicts her original response on why she failed to answer the League of Women Voter’s reform survey.

When asked by the Oshkosh Northwestern why she failed to fill out a six question survey on political reform distributed by three non-partisan groups, including the League, Pung Leschke, a former County Board Supervisor, said “I have surveys piled up a mile high.”

The ignored survey was distributed by the League of Women Voters, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and Common Cause.

“For someone who says she doesn’t want to be a politician, this former elected official ducks questions with the ease of a veteran, out-of-touch legislator,” said Jef Hall, Chair of the Winnebago County Democratic Party. “We need candidates who are straight forward with voters about where they stand on key issues. Gordon Hintz has supported campaign and ethics reform since day one.”

Wisconsin Right to Life announced their endorsement of Julie Pung-Leschke last week after reviewing their completed candidate survey.

“She ignored a non-partisan, six-question, yes-or-no survey” said Jef Hall. “It is tough to believe that she found the time to return a survey from an anti-reform interest group but not the survey from the League of Women Voters, in which she claims membership. Who snubs the League of Women voters?”

When pressed for a position on campaign and ethics reform in Saturday’s Oshkosh Northwestern, Pung Leschke ducked the question and once again offered no position, stating “I will devote myself to making something happen.”

However, Wisconsin Right-to-Life, who vehemently opposes potential life saving stem cell research and emergency contraception for rape victims, also opposes campaign finance reform. In fact in their survey, they state they are “opposed to any legislation which would require a citizen organization to provide the State of Wisconsin with information related to their issue advocacy activities or information related to their organization.”

“It is not surprising to get some-double speak from a Republican Assembly candidate trying to appeal to voters who want reform, while not alienating right-wing interest groups and anti-reform legislators like Majority Leader Mike Huebsch who are backing her campaign,” said Hall.

2006 Wisconsin Right to Life Candidate Survey Questions on Campaign Reform:

Question 13:
Will you vote against legislation which would restrict or regulate the constitutional right of citizen groups (such as Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.) to engage in issue advocacy? (Please see enclosed explanation.)

Question 14:
Will you vote against legislation which would force Wisconsin taxpayers to fund the campaign expenses of candidates? (Please see enclosed explanation.)

13 explanation:
Various campaign finance reform proposals would place severe and unprecedented restrictions on the right of citizen organizations, like Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., to communicate with the public regarding the positions of those who hold or seek public office. Proposals such as these are gross infringements on a particular type of political speech, called issue advocacy.

Some argue that restrictions on issue advocacy are justified in order to diminish "special interest" influences. But "special interest" groups, like Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., are made up of ordinary citizens who come together in order to advance the policy positions they favor. In doing so, these citizens have chosen to exercise their First Amendment constitutional right to associate.

Wisconsin Right to Life is opposed to any legislation that would restrict or regulate in any way the dissemination by citizen organizations of printed or broadcast issue advocacy communications that comment on the positions and voting records of office holders and office seekers, including any restrictions on the timing, amount, or funding sources of such speech. Wisconsin Right to Life is also opposed to any legislation which would require a citizen organization to provide the State of Wisconsin with information related to their issue advocacy activities or information related to their organization.

14 explanation:
Some lawmakers lament the fact that an insufficient number of Wisconsin taxpayers "check off" the sum of one dollar on their state income tax forms to fund the campaign expenses of candidates. These lawmakers have proposed legislation that would force taxpayers to pay for these campaign expenses by using taxpayer dollars for this purpose. This would result in taxpayers being forced to pay for the campaigns of candidates they may not want elected or with whom they may strongly disagree on issues of importance to them. Members of Wisconsin Right to Life, for example, do not want to be put in the position of funding the campaign expenses of candidates who are pro-abortion or in favor of assisted suicide.

Wisconsin Right to Life opposes legislation that would allocate any taxpayer dollars to fund the campaign expenses of political candidates.


Champagne Wishes, Caviar Dreams, Winnebago Republicans

Above is an invite for the 'Champagne Reception' for Republican Candidate Julie Pung-Leshke.

Just like before, we have different plans...

We will be hosting our reception right downtown at the Roxy:

Please Join State Assembly Candidate - Gordon Hintz
special guest - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl

For a Reception
Monday, August 21st - Noon to 1 p.m.

The Roxy Supper Club
571 N. Main Street

What Do Republicans Think of Members Who Support Campaign Finance Reform?

"She's (McCormick's) a nonentity," said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee to The Associated Press.

Wisconsin Uniting Against the Ban

Fair WI put out a good press release today overviewing the outpouring of support accross the board for people rights.

Last week, Wisconsin AFSCME PEOPLE Conference came out against the ban because it would endanger health care and retirement benefits for thousands of working families across the state. AFSCME, AFT Wisconsin, the state AFL-CIO, WEAC, CWA Wisconsin, and other labor and professional groups are offering financial support and people power to the effort.

This week, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce came out against the ban because of the harm it would do to the economy. Downtown Madison Inc. is also against the ban.

The Wisconsin Medical Society opposes the ban because it could interfere with health care issues like hospital visitation and medical decision-making.

The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups opposes the ban because it would jeopardize legal arrangements for elderly couples who choose not to remarry after the death of a spouse. CWAG is providing educational information about the ban to its statewide members and affiliates.

The Libertarian Party of Wisconsin believes the ban goes against their principles of personal liberty and small government. Former gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson speaks out often against the ban on his radio show in Tomah and at events around Wisconsin.

The Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA opposes the ban because it violates Christian principles that call on us to respect and love our neighbors. Numerous churches are organizing forums and volunteers to aid Fair Wisconsin’s efforts.

If you go to their website, they have a detailed list of support - it is an interesting group.

Evolution: The Oshkosh Northwestern is Right On

However, I bet the letters are about to be pouring in...

Editorial: Evolution debate not worthy of further energy
For a moment, let's consider some of the top issues facing the Oshkosh school system:

Adapting to a myriad of new state and federal education standards.

Finding money to fix aging buildings.

Crafting a long-range plan to address enrollment trends.

Engaging parents to get more involved in their children's homework and classrooms.

Working with the business community to graduate students with relevant job skills.

Preparing students for college.

Notice that you don't find the teaching of evolution as a critical or even tangential topic of discussion. That's because it is not relevant.

Sandra Gade, a retired physics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, is mounting a petition drive to ask the school board to change the way evolution is taught in high school biology classes.

Wisconsin law does not provide a mechanism for petition drives to force a vote on school curriculum issues unlike the municipal law that is behind the drive for a garbage fee referendum that could be placed on the November ballot in the city of Oshkosh.

The evolution petition drive is even less relevant when we consider the amount of time school officials have already spent on the issue.

District administrators met with Gade to listen to her concerns, reviewed the district's biology curriculum and textbooks, confirmed that Oshkosh's curriculum meets state and federal standards and consulted with UWO scientists on Gade's claims.

Moreover, Gade addressed the school board several times last spring during citizen comment portions of board meetings.

The issue has had more than it's fair share of discussion.

The school board and the community can safely move on and address the issues of far greater importance to the future of our schools.

The Final Thought: Oshkosh school officials have appropriately addressed concerns about the biology instruction in city schools. It is time to move on.

New County Board Agenda is Up

Details at Winnebago17 - My Winnebago County Board Blog.

Mark Green: Environmental Incident in Alaska Means We Need to Stop Caring for Wisconsin's

From NPR:

Workers are cleaning up more than 200,000 gallons of oil that leaked last week from a pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It's the largest oil spill ever on Alaska's North Slope, and it has added fuel to debates over the wisdom of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mark Green's solution:

Yesterday, Mark and his good friend – Congressman Paul Ryan – urged the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the reformulated gas requirement in Wisconsin due to an announcement about a supply disruption in Alaska. Mark said:

Wisconsinites have been feeling the burden of unfair gasoline regulations for far too long. With the potential for yet another spike in oil prices in the coming days, the EPA should immediately take steps to bring relief to Wisconsin motorists.

So according to Mark Green, because of 200,000 barrels of oil have been spilled into Alaska's tundru, we need to allow more polutant into Wisconsin skies, streams and lakes.


Working at Mid-East Peace, Then and Now

Kristof in the NYTimes:

Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser, says that when he was flying by helicopter to the Israeli-Palestinian talks at Camp David in 2000, President Clinton turned to him and said, “We’re either going to succeed or get caught trying.” In other words, even if the effort to achieve a Middle East peace failed, there would still be a payoff for the U.S. in the court of global public opinion.

“We used to get criticized all the time for being too tough on the Palestinians, on the Arabs,” said Dennis Ross, a Middle East envoy for both President Clinton and the first President Bush. “But nobody ever accused us of not being passionate about trying to resolve the conflict. We got enormous credit for that, because we showed we weren’t indifferent to a core grievance in the region. It’s been an enormous mistake in the last few years to send a message of indifference.”

He also points out:

The Tyndall Report, which monitors television network evening news programs, says that since the bombardment of Lebanon began, the crisis there has received more minutes of coverage on average each week than the Darfur genocide has received in total since it began in 2003.

Oh, to be 33 forever...

And sharing a birthday with me today are (from the NYTimes):

The Edge turns 45 years old today.

74 - Mel Tillis - Country singer
69 - Dustin Hoffman - Actor
67 - Phil Balsley - Country singer (The Statler Brothers)
59 - Larry Wilcox - Actor (''CHiPS'')
57 - Keith Carradine - Actor
48 - Deborah Norville - TV personality
45 - Rikki Rockett - Rock musician (Poison)
44 - Kool Moe Dee - Rapper
30 - JC Chasez - Singer ('N Sync)
30 - Drew Lachey - Singer (98 Degrees)
25 - Roger Federer - Tennis Player


For the Record

Al Gore - September 23, 2002:

"Now, here's another of the main points I want to make: If we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth-rate military of Iraq, and then quickly abandon that nation, as President Bush has quickly abandoned almost all of Afghanistan after defeating a fifth-rate military power there, then the resulting chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.

Newsweek CW Nails Bush

Mideast policy's a flop, his generals say we're losing and now he's in Crawford. Come home and fix things.

Cong. GOPs:
Typical election-year scam: Crumbs for the workers, but only if super-rich get billions. Not this time, fellas.

Ethics Reform: Weekend Catch-Up Edition

Well, it looks like there were several interesting stories in the local news about ethics over the weekend.

I would have blogged them, but I was in beautiful Grant Park, Chicago for the Lollapooloza Festival. (Quick synopsis - Best Stageshow: The Flaming Lips - Best Performance: The Hold Steady - Best Band I Had Never Heard Of: Panic! at the Disco - Best Cover: Britney's 'Toxic' by Nickel Creek - Surprise of the Festival: Perry Farrell doing children's songs, and Kanye West is as good as he says he is)

The Oshkosh Northwestern covered Julie Pung-Leshke's inability to answer 6 questions for the League of Women Voter's here (my press release, which is mentioned is here):

Winnebago County Democrats are criticizing 54th Assembly Republican candidate Julie Pung Leschke for not responding to a series of issues-based, ethics and campaign reform questions distributed around the state and co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Pung Leschke noted on her election Web site she is a member of the organization.

"She's been running for the State Assembly for almost seven months and voters still don't know where she stands on nearly every important issue in this race," said Jef Hall, chairman of the Winnebago County Democratic Party in a statement.

But Pung Leschke said the only reason she hasn't replied is because she is a first-time candidate swamped with surveys and knocking on doors.

"I have surveys piled up a mile high," Pung Leschke said.
Pung Leschke said it's "just a matter of time" before she responds.

How much time? Sorry, but that doesn't hold water for several reasons. One, she did fill out some surveys, ones she must have felt were more important than the League of Women Voters. And, should she win, as a Legislator in Madison, she will need to be a great multi-tasker and able to make sure she communicates with her constituents as well as does all of the duties and study of an informed Representative. If she cannot find time to answer 6 yes/no questions as a candidate, what will she do as an elected official?

The Northwestern then followed up with an editorial on Sunday:

That recent survey of state candidates for office on Wisconsin political reform issues should have been a no-brainer of the first degree.

Politics 101 teaches that candidates answer surveys because it's free advertising for their positions. Some politicians aren't going to get a passing grade, however. Assembly District 54 Assembly candidates Julie Pung Leschke and Larry Didlo didn't reply to the "Fall 2006 Government Ethics Voter Guide Questionnaire."

District 53 state Rep. Carol Owens, R-town of Nekimi, said she would refuse to reply.

What's up here? Why did these three people avoid giving answers? Is this an indicator of how they will act if elected to the 2007-'09 term in the state Assembly?
Frankly, the refusal to answer survey questions surprises this editorial board. Pung Leshke strongly advocated greater accountability when she was a Winnebago County supervisors. Owens should know by now how to fill out a survey. Didlo has asked for voter trust in past campaigns.

If these three candidates are as smart as they want people to think they are, they each will find a way to finish that survey.

But voters shouldn't let them off the hook. Voters should make sure that the six questions on the survey become the most common questions these candidates must answer.

The bottom line here is that constituents are entitled to know where political candidates stand when the issue is a statewide survey prepared by non-partisan interests.

With few reasonable exceptions, candidates who don't answer six survey questions probably shouldn't be in office in the first place.

I agree...