Kevin Tillman Regains His Voice, Uses It...

Click here for an article by Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman. The Tillman brothers joined the armed forces together after Sept. 11. Kevin Tillman walked away from an NFL contract to do so.

It is a must read.

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.


Oshkosh Northwestern Needs to Tell the Whole Story

On 2 occasions, the Oshkosh Northwestern has failed its readers and the voters of the 54th District, which includes most of the city of Oshkosh.

State parties loaning staff to Oshkosh Assembly candidates

By Bethany K. Warner of The Northwestern
All politics is local, the saying goes.

But that notion gets called into question, campaign watchdog groups say, when legislative staffers from Madison are loaned to local candidates.

The two candidates running for the 54th Assembly District seat – Republican Julie Pung Leschke and Democrat Gordon Hintz – both have campaign staff members currently on leave from their legislative staff positions.

Craig Trost a legislative staffer for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, is helping the Hintz campaign. Brian Pleva, a legislative staffer for Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, is helping the Pung Leschke campaign.

The arrival of outside campaign help underscores the importance both parties are placing on the race in the 54th. Some, like Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, argue it also shows the need for further campaign reform.

The whole story: Craig Trost is an Appleton native, UW-Oshkosh graduate who was active in local politics, very involved in the UWO Democrats and even worked for a short time after graduation for the Northwestern. After becoming involved in politics directly, Craig co-ordinated the Fox-Valley (including Oshkosh) area for both Jim Doyle in 2002 and John Kerry/Russ Fringold in 2005.

Craig requested a leave of abscence to come back to his home territory and work on a campaign that he cared about. He was not assigned by shady Democratic Party officials in Madison to excert thier control. He is a proud Fox Valley resident and UWO alumni who is coming back home to be part of the change that we are creating in an area that he deeply cares about.

Group pushes for emergency contraception for rape victims
By Krista B. Ledbetter of The Northwestern

Judie Koeppler is looking for some compassion for rape victims. But a bill that would've offered what she was looking for died at the end of the 2006 state legislative session.

Compassionate Care for Rape Victims, a bill introduced in both the state Assembly and Senate, would have required all Wisconsin hospitals that provide emergency services for rape victims to provide information about emergency contraception and dispense it if requested by the patient. Because it was pending at the end of the legislative session, the bill expired, and will need to be reintroduced in January if it is to be considered again.

Koeppler and Susie Elbing, both members of Concerned Citizens for Women's Health in Winnebago County would've liked to see the bill become law. They said offering information about and providing emergency contraception, or Plan B, directly at the hospital would help the thousands of women per year who get raped prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

"Eighty percent of rape victims are under the age of 16," Elbing said. "It is inexcusable and senseless to not tell this girl there's emergency contraception."
A study conducted by the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Coalition in late 2005 and early 2006 concluded that 33 percent of hospitals in the state dispense Plan B unconditionally. The remaining hospitals either never, or sometimes provide the emergency contraception.

"This is all about preventing abortion," Koeppler said. "Emergency contraception is not going to cause an abortion, it's going to prevent a pregnancy that could likely end in abortion."

Opponents of CCRV said recent legislation to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter renders the bill needless.

Sen. Carol Roessler, R-Oshkosh, said the bill's flaw was that it mandated that faith-based hospitals would have to provide something that went against their moral mission.

"That is where I see the problem," she said.

However, in Oshkosh, both Aurora Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center have procedures in place to offer information about emergency contraception, and provide it if requested, said Koeppler, who sits on Affinity's professional activities committee.

Mercy, a faith-based hospital, follows Directive 36, developed by United States bishops in consultation with the Vatican. It states a rape victim should be allowed to defend herself against possible conception from a sexual assault, and should have access to emergency contraception if she is not pregnant.

The Whole Story: We are in the middle of a very important election season in Oshkosh. If the Northwestern felt it important to get this information out to Oshkosh, why did they not take the time to call the candidates for the 54th and report their views on this? They will most likely have to cast a vote on this issue in the next session.

Final Thought: The Northwestern needs to be more responsible and complete in their coverage of the 54th Assembly district.

Altercation: 655,000 dead: reporting the reporting

The following is taked directly from Altercation. I have wanted to post something about it, but Eric Alterman gets it right on:

655,000 dead: reporting the reporting

According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, George Bush's lies have killed not 30,000 innocent Iraqis, as the president not long ago estimated, but nearly 22 times that amount, or 655,000. Neither the Pentagon, nor much of the mainstream media have made much attempt to make their own counts -- it's just not that important to anyone. So how has the U.S. media reported on these shocking-albeit-necessarily-imprecise findings, based on door-to-door surveys in 18 provinces, by the experts trained in this kind of thing? The actual methods included obtaining data by eight Iraqi physicians during a survey of 1,849 Iraqi families -- 12,801 people -- in 47 neighborhoods of 18 regions across the country. The researchers based the selection of geographical areas on population size, not on the level of violence. How strict were their standards? They asked for death certificates to prove claims -- and got them in 92 percent of the cases. Even so, the authors say that the number could be anywhere from 426,000 to 800,000.

Well, Greg Mitchell has written two columns on the topic for Editor & Publisher and he finds, here and here, that:

The Associated Press casts a very skeptical eye on the study, emphasizing the views of one "expert" Anthony Cordesman, (as the AP describes him) who charges that it is nothing but "politics," with the November election approaching.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, interviewed Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for many years. He called the Johns Hopkins survey method "tried and true" and added that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have."

Sarah Leah Whitson, an official of Human Rights Watch in New York, told the Post, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy" of the survey.

Frank Harrell Jr., chairman of the biostatistics department at Vanderbilt University, told the Associated Press the study incorporated "rigorous, well-justified analysis" of the data.

Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report, told The Christian Science Monitor: "That's exactly wrong. There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don't think there's anyone who's been involved in mortality research who thinks there's a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there's a better way to do it."

The sampling "is solid. The methodology is as good as it gets," said John Zogby, whose polling agency, Zogby International, has done several surveys in Iraq since the war began. "It is what people in the statistics business do." Zogby said similar survey methods have been used to estimate casualty figures in other conflicts, such as Darfur and the Congo.

I recall seeing on The Daily Show that when Bush got done playing around with Suzanne Malveaux and her fashion statement that day, she asked him about the study. He replied that "their methodology has been pretty well discredited." This is a bald-faced lie, of course. But here's my question. Were there any follow-ups? Or was the purpose of the question merely to get the president on the record without holding him responsible for anything at all, even the unnecessary murder of hundreds of thousands of people? What the hell kind of society kills all these people and cannot be bothered to care? Cannot be bothered to count them and when someone does, risking their lives in the process, lies to discredit them -- and no one cares about that either?

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Recommends Every Wisconsin Democrat for Election!

Below is the MJS's Recommendation in the 63rd Assembly Race:

Editorial: Recommending Daley From the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Oct. 18, 2006
Tim Daley, a Democrat and Union Grove attorney, is our pick in his race against GOP Rep. Robin Vos in the 63rd Assembly District.

There have been missteps in Vos' first term, chiefly his vote to kill an ethics reform bill. It would have merged the state Elections and Ethics boards, creating a new Government Accountability Board with teeth to monitor behavior at the Capitol. Vos voted against the measure. He said the current system works OK. He's wrong.
Daley would like to see the bill resurrected and also opposes the Taxpayer Protection Amendment. Vos favors it.

On government funding for embryonic stem cell research and on the gay marriage amendment, Vos gives unsatisfactory answers. He says he is for embryonic stem cell research if the embryos are first put up for adoption with the donors' consent. On gay marriage, he says he is for the public deciding but, when pressed, says he will vote for the amendment.

Daley is for embryonic stem cell research, with no unreasonable strings attached and is against the gay marriage amendment. Vos is commendably accessible to constituents, but Daley is more right on the issues. Not a good fit for this district that skews Republican? Ethics reform, funding promising research and fairness for all Wisconsin residents cross partisan boundaries.

Let's look at the MJS's analysis of the issues that cause them to recommend Daley:

1. TABOR - Daley is against it, Vos is for it... Recommendation Daley
2. Marriage Amendment - Daley is against it, Vos is for it... Recommendation Daley
3. Stem Cell Research - Daley is for it, Vos is against it... Recommendation Daley
4. SB1 & Ethics Reform - Daley is for it, Vos is against it... Recommendation Daley

It seems to me that the the MJS just endorsed not only the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's platform, but just about every candidate we have up for election in 2006.

Thank you, MJS!

Doyle 51% - Green 38%

St. Norbert Poll Shows Doyle With 13 Point Lead
(AP) MADISON Gov. Jim Doyle leads his Republican challenger by 13 points in a new poll released Thursday. The lead is more than double that shown in a survey released earlier this month.

The latest poll done by the St. Norbert College Survey Center and paid for both by the college and Wisconsin Public Radio surveyed 400 likely voters between Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Don't stop working, however...

Olbermann on the Death of Habeas Corpus

Click here.


US Carmakers Are Not Burdened by Labor Alone:

According to a recent report, inefficient design adds $2,400 to the cost of a car:

Side-view mirrors show Detroit’s problems
Report puts a number on Asian advantage over big U.S. automakers

It’s no secret that like companies like Nissan and Toyota are outrunning their American rivals, but now a new study has put a number on the advantage Asian automakers have over Detroit’s Big Three.

U.S. automakers make an average of $2,400 less per vehicle than their Japanese counterparts because of less-efficient purchasing and manufacturing procedures, according to a study by the Harbour-Felax Group, an industry consulting firm based in suburban Detroit.
By restructuring through layoffs and plant closures, GM and Ford are not focusing on the root cause of their problems, Felax said. One large U.S. automaker, which Felax declined to identify, makes 81 different types of wing mirrors, while its Asian counterpart Honda only makes two, she said. By using more common parts and processes, U.S. carmakers can close the gap with their rivals, she said.

“You can cut labor, but at the end of the day you can’t cost cut your way to competitiveness,” Felax said, adding that automakers need to share components between their vehicle brands to save money, especially commodity components that will not have a major impact on a car buyers' purchasing decision, like wing mirrors or batteries.
Felax calculates that for every component that is shared between vehicle models, automakers stand to save between $1,000 and $1,500 dollars per vehicle.

“So if you multiply that saving by the volume of vehicles made by any one of these companies you can see there’s a potential for saving billions of dollars,” said Felax. “GM still produces the largest volume of product of any other carmaker, and this is an issue over which they have total control” — as opposed to the vagaries of consumer tastes and gasoline prices.


Wal-Mart Workers Stage a Walkout!

From Businessweek via MSNBC:

For months, politicians and activists have been saying that the low prices at the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, come at a tremendous cost to its low-paid employees. They point to lawsuits that contend the company discriminates against women and forces low-paid employees to work through lunch breaks and after their shifts, without extra compensation. Wal-Mart has also been boosting its political contributions to stop initiatives aimed at forcing the retailer to raise pay and benefits.

Now, as Wal-Mart rolls out a new round of workplace restrictions, employees at a Wal-Mart Super Center in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., are taking matters into their own hands. On Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift walked out in protest against the new policies and rallied outside the store, shouting "We want justice" and criticizing the company's recent policies as "inhuman." Workers said the number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift.
The protest wasn't led by any union group. Rather, it was instigated by two department managers, Guillermo Vasquez and Rosie Larosa. The department managers were not affected directly by the changes, but they felt that the company had gone too far with certain new policies. Among them were moves to cut the hours of full-time employees from 40 hours a week to 32 hours, along with a corresponding cut in wages, and to compel workers to be available for shifts around the clock.

In addition, the shifts would be decided not by managers, but by a computer at company headquarters. Employees could find themselves working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week and noon to 9 p.m. the next. "So workers cannot pick up their children after school everyday, and part-timers cannot keep another job because they can be called to work anytime," says Vasquez.

In addition to scheduling changes and reduction in hours, workers are now required to call an 800 number when they are sick. "If we are at an emergency room and spend the night in a hospital and cannot call the number, they won't respect that," says Larosa, who has worked at the store for six years. "It will be counted as an unexcused absence."
The scheduling changes, which have been rolled out in Wal-Mart stores around the country in recent weeks, are a sign that the retailer is acting on ideas outlined in an internal document that was leaked last year. In the memo, a Wal-Mart executive said it would find ways to rid its payroll of full-time and unhealthy employees who are more expensive for the company to retain.

Wal-Mart executives have recently told Wall Street analysts that the company wants to transform its workforce from 20 percent part-time to 40 percent. Recently, it was also reported that older employees in some stores who had back and leg problems were barred from using stools on which they had sat for years.
What's next at the Hialeah Gardens store, where store managers have had to pitch in to keep the store open? Is this the first step to forming a union at the store? That's unlikely, given the fate of previous attempts to unionize store employees. When employees in Jonquière, Que., Canada, voted last year to unionize, Wal-Mart shut the store. Vasquez says the workers haven't really talked about their plans, beyond getting the company to change its practices. "At this point, we just want to be heard," he says.

Survey-gate: day 70

Leschke still won’t answer ethics survey while her campaign is run by antireform special interest groups

OSHKOSH – Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair Jef Hall today called on Republican candidate for the 54th Assembly district Julie Pung Leschke to stop her stalling tactics and finally answer a six question survey on ethics reform.

Seventy days ago, the August 6th Oshkosh Northwestern editorial called on all candidates to return a survey circulated by three clean government groups, including the League of Women Voters. To date, Leschke has refused to respond to the survey. In that August 6 editorial, the Northwestern said:

“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 2007-2009 term in the state Assembly?...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.”

In an October 2 televised Eye on Oshkosh debate, Leschke called the questionnaire a “special interest survey”, despite the fact that it was issued by an organization in which she claims membership. She went on to state that she left a name for herself as a reformer during her time on the county board, which was cut short when she quit during her second term.

As a result of refusing to answer the survey, Leshke has earned the endorsement of the anti-reform organization, Wisconsin Right to Life. Furthermore, the anti-reform group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), is running corporate attack ads for Leshke targeting Democratic candidate Gordon Hintz.

So far, WMC, the Wisconsin Realtors Association, and All Children Matter, a group that supports taxpayers funding private schools with no oversight, have spent an estimated $70,000 supporting Julie Pung Leschke’s campaign. All this is money that does not need to be reported to voters.

“In three weeks, Oshkosh has a decision to make,” said Hall. “Oshkosh will either vote for Gordon Hintz for leadership for a change, or for Julie Leschke and her special interest pals in Madison whose measures attacking local control have lead to the unfair garbage fee on Oshkosh property owners.”

Leschke has often called herself a reformer in her partial term on the County Board. However, while on the board, Leschke voted against resolution 54-72000 on July 25 2000 which added an advisory referendum to the ballot calling on the state legislature to pass meaningful campaign finance reform. The advisory referendum went on to have the support of more than 92% of the voters in Winnebago County.

“It’s simply irresponsible for Leschke to call herself a reformer when her record indicates she not only opposes campaign finance reform, but is comfortable with unregulated large corporate and special interests bankrolling her campaign,” said Hall. “Oshkosh needs leadership for a change. We need Gordon Hintz in the Assembly.”