Bush Sqirms on North Korea... July 10, 2006!

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Hintz returns PAC donations

From the OshNW:

Hintz returns PAC donations
By Bethany K. Warner of The Northwestern
Democratic candidate for the 54th State Assembly district Gordon Hintz said last week he returned campaign donations from political action committees and will not accept any PAC funds for the remainder of the campaign.

Hintz said he made the decision to return nearly $2,500 in PAC contributions because he wanted to be free of any "special interest appearance."

"When you're in a competitive race, plenty of people I've never talked to before are
sending you checks," Hintz said. "There's probably a price to pay with that and I started growing increasingly uncomfortable with that."

Among the returned contributions is $500 from U.S. Senator Russ Feingold's Senate Committee, $500 from the American Federation of Teachers Wisconsin and $500 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers along with smaller contributions from other groups.

Hintz said he never spent any money received from PACs. One in-kind contribution from Progressive Majority Wisconsin was reimbursed.


Kagen is Going to Win...

From Wispolitics:

The latest poll conducted by Maslin's firm in the race showed Kagen holding an 8 percentage-point lead over Gard in mid-September with a margin of error just more than plus or minus 4 percentage points. The survey was of 600 likely general election voters in the district. Another poll from the Dem-leaning Mellman Group, released around the same time as Maslin's, showed Kagen with a 4 percentage-point lead over Gard.

As part of its strategy, Gard's camp has declined to release internal polls or comment on polling data. Ulm did not comment on Gard's specific standing in the polls during the WisPolitics event.

Translation, Gards polls are the same or worse...

Help Steve Kagen anyway you can here.

A History of American Disenfranchisement

The NYTimes has a great article on this here.

The House of Representatives struck a major blow against democracy last month. It passed a bill that would deny the vote to anyone who shows up at the polls without a government-issued photo ID. The bill’s requirements are so onerous and inflexible that they could prevent millions of eligible voters without driver’s licenses — who are disproportionately poor, minority or elderly — from casting a ballot.

With that vote Congress joined a growing number of states that are erecting new barriers to voting. Republican-dominated legislatures and election officials have adopted absurdly difficult registration rules. They have removed eligible voters from the rolls with Katherine Harris-style purges, and required voters to buy ID cards to vote, a modern form of poll tax.

These new voting laws are disturbing, but they should not be surprising. The story of American voting is usually told as one of steady expansion: constitutional amendments extending the franchise to freed slaves, women and 18-year-olds, and Supreme Court rulings and federal laws eliminating voting obstacles for Southern blacks. But racial and religious minorities, women and the poor have historically had to fight not just to get the right to vote, but to stop it from being taken away.

America has a hidden history of disenfranchisement. It has operated, as a Harvard professor, Alexander Keyssar, recounts in his valuable history, “The Right to Vote,” on the expected lines of class, race, ethnicity and religion, and often for partisan gain. Right now, we are in another period of what Professor Keyssar calls “backsliding.” Minorities and the poor — and everyone who cares about American democracy — have to stand up for a principle that should by now be beyond debate: universal suffrage.

Long before the Constitution guaranteed women the right to vote in 1920, some women had already had the franchise and had it taken away. New Jersey, which gave women the vote in its state Constitution in 1776, disenfranchised them in 1807. Pennsylvania, which let blacks vote after the Revolution, took away their right to vote in the 1830’s.

Immigrants were another common target of disenfranchisement laws. In 1840, New York — which, like most states, did not require pre-Election Day registration — adopted a registration law that applied only to New York City, aimed at the growing Irish Catholic population. The lower classes were another target. In the 1800’s, New Jersey adopted “sunset laws” that required the polls to close before factories let out for the day. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, many states took the vote away from “paupers.”

Disenfranchisement was often motivated by partisan politics. In the South, at the end of Reconstruction, white Democrats pushed through poll taxes and literacy tests to reduce the black Republican vote. In the North, it was Republicans putting up the barriers, like New York’s 1921 constitutional amendment imposing a rigorous literacy test, aimed at keeping hundreds of thousands of Yiddish speakers from voting.

Poll taxes and literacy tests are unconstitutional today, but the forces of disenfranchisement have come up with creative new methods. In 2004, the Ohio secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, ordered election officials to reject any voter registration form that was submitted on less than 80-pound paper. The edict disproportionately hurt poor and minority voters by interfering with registration drives aimed at them.

This year, Florida adopted new rules for voter registration drives that were so onerous — and carried such draconian punishments for mistakes — that the League of Women Voters of Florida announced that for the first time in 67 years it would not register voters.

Election officials are still wrongly purging eligible voters from the rolls. Four years after Ms. Harris’s error-filled purge of felons, her successor as Florida secretary of state developed another error-filled felon list. She abandoned it only after news media pointed out that, oddly enough, it included 22,000 blacks, a group that votes heavily Democratic, but just 61 Hispanics, a group that tends to vote Republican in Florida. Just last week, a court struck down another error-filled voter roll purge, in Kentucky.

The voter ID laws that have been enacted recently have been set up not to verify voters’ identities, but to stop certain groups from voting. Georgia’s law — whose sponsor was quoted in a Justice Department memo as saying that if blacks in her district “are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls” — required people to pay for voter ID cards, until the courts held that to be an illegal poll tax. When it took effect there was not a single office in Atlanta where the cards were for sale.

The current wave of laws began after 2000, when the presidency was decided by just 537 votes. With today’s closely divided electorate, there is more strategic value than ever in disenfranchising people who fall into groups likely to support the other party. To a disheartening degree, this new wave is supported almost entirely by Republicans and opposed only by Democrats.

The opposition should be bipartisan. Disenfranchisement undermines not only American democracy, but also the whole idea of America, by illegitimately excluding some people from their rightful place in it.

Abraham Lincoln understood this. In 1859, after Massachusetts Republicans pushed through a requirement that immigrants wait two years after becoming citizens to vote, a group of German-Americans asked Lincoln what he thought of the law — which mere partisanship should have led him to support. “I am against its adoption in Illinois, or in any other place, where I have a right to oppose it,” he responded. “Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.”

A Property Tax Freeze Story...

Many candidates at the state lever (Gov, Senate, Assembly, etc) are talking about how they have cut property taxes.

What they always fail to mention is that they do not levy property taxes.

These taxes are levied by youth local governments, School Districts, Cities, Towns and Counties.

These state-level candidates talking about cutting property taxes forcing these cuts to governmental bodies that are slaves to these master's whims. They make decisions from on high in Madison with blatant disregard to the individual budget situations of these institutions.

They neglect to mention that they will feel no pain as a result of these actions. It is not their budgets.

It reminds me of a story/joke I was told as a child:

One day 2 brothers, one obviously older than the other walk into a dentist's office.

The older brother walks up to the person at the desk and says, "I need a tooth pulled, and my family doesn't have much money, so I want you to do it without any novacaine or anesthetic."

"Wow," says the lady behind the desk, "you sure are brave! Where is the tooth."

Turning to his younger brother, the older brother says, "Show the lady, junior."

Remember when your local city, town or county goes into budget deliberations this fall, that we are doing the best we can.

And remember that the pain is coming from the Republican Senate and Assembly.

That said, if you are a part of my Winnebago County Board District, please contact me at anytime with your opinions/suggestions.


A Blast From the Past...

Here is the full story.

The US Government has announced that it will release $95m to North Korea as part of an agreement to replace the Stalinist country's own nuclear programme, which the US suspected was being misused.

Under the 1994 Agreed Framework an international consortium is building two proliferation-proof nuclear reactors and providing fuel oil for North Korea while the reactors are being built.

In releasing the funding, President George W Bush waived the Framework's requirement that North Korea allow inspectors to ensure it has not hidden away any weapons-grade plutonium from the original reactors.

President Bush argued that the decision was "vital to the national security interests of the United States".