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Friday, June 23, 2006

Cory is Moving to One Wisconsin Now

It was in October of 2004 that I began the Eye on Wisconsin blog. I joke with friends that it started as a form of "therapy" to allow myself to vent regarding the 2004 Presidential Election. Not quite two years later, so much has changed for this blog. Last year I started providing investigative reports on a variety of issues. Not long after, to remain on the cutting edge, I produced and hosted the Eye on Wisconsin podcast. Not long after that, Eye on Wisconsin broke a couple stories that appeared in the AP and other outlets. Next I was honored to have the blog hosted at Wisopinion.com, the state's premier political news service. Then in only a year we saw over 50,000 hits at Eye on Wisconsin.

Now I am excited to take another new step, unfortunately this one involves leaving Eye on Wisconsin. As of today, I will no longer blog at Eye on Wisconsin. I am very excited to inform my readership that I am moving over to One Blog at One Wisconsin Now (OWN). One Wisconsin Now is the beginning of a long-term effort to re-light the flame of Wisconsin's proud progressive tradition. I will be serving as OWN's Netroots Coordinator and Editor of One Blog.

I am looking forward to all of the exciting possibilities that the future holds for OWN, for Wisconsin, and for our reinvigorated progressive movement. Thanks for your loyal readership and I hope that you will join me today at my new home, the One Blog.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Notice to Eye on Wisconsin Readers

I will be moving to a new blog starting tomorrow morning. I will provide you with my reasoning and the specific details at that time. Please stay tuned.

The Tale of "Two Americas" Revisited?

According to a report in the Washington Post, the U.S. is losing it's middle class neighborhoods. While at the same time the story reports that rich and poor neighborhoods are growing. The story relies on a Brookings Institution study that was released yesterday. It found that as a share of all urban and suburban neighborhoods, middle-income neighborhoods in the nation's 100 largest metro areas have declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000.

This study seems to be consistent with a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week reporting the continuing decline in population in Milwaukee County (-2%). Specifically the Journal Sentinel report pointed out large decreases in 14 of Milwaukee's 18 suburbs. Many of those suburbs have been the bastion of Milwaukee County's middle class. The paper found that wealthier areas such as Waukesha(+5%), Ozaukee(+4.6%), and Washington (+7.4%) Counties saw large increases.

The Journal Sentinel story rhetorically asks why we should care about these population estimates. It quickly answers the question like this:
They show where homes, roads and shopping malls are being built, where jobs are created, how the overall quality of life is sustained.

During the 2004 Presidential Campaign John Edwards often spoke of the "Two Americas." It described an America where the wealthy added to their riches while the middle class struggled to stay out of the poor house. With few people in positions of power that are willing to do something about this problem, it seems that the trend will sadly continue in a downward spiral.

Discrimination Amendment Harms Our Principles

Yesterday the non-partisan group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign came out against the Discrimination Against Gays Amendment (ht to In Effect).

WDC takes a slightly different angle against the amendment than we usually hear. Take a look at part of the group's statement:
The effort to ban gay marriage and civil unions by amending the state Constitution does serious harm to the principles and institutions of democracy in Wisconsin, disrespects and disregards essential checks and balances in the policymaking process, and misuses the Constitution for purposes that are neither legitimate nor in keeping with the intentions of the Constitution's framers.

WDC goes on to list their three main objections to such an amendment: 1. Wisconsin's Constitution should not be used as an instrument of discrimination. 2. The process of amending the Constitution should not be used as an end-run around the normal lawmaking process. 3. The Constitution should not be used by any candidate for public office, political party or interest group to gain an electoral advantage.

"Health Courts" Unhealthy for Malpractice Victims

The U.S. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will be holding a hearing today to examine several medical malpractice issues. One of the concepts to be examined will be the idea of replacing judges and juries with a so-called "health court."

Several consumer groups have expressed their opposition to this change stating that it would take away a victim's right to a jury trial. In a press release, the group tells us what malpractice victims will face if this idea is realized:
"a vaguely defined administrative bureaucracy run by political appointees charged with developing uniform schedules of compensation for specific medical injuries." Experience with similar systems "strongly suggests that they will provide worse protection for patients than the civil justice system currently provides"

Perhaps the largest concern is for the most severely injured victim's of malpractice. Trying to fit their suffering and complicated injuries into some bureaucratic box is a fool's errand. Also the unsettling thought that such a political body could be forcefully lobbied by big insurance companies and others from the health industry give us yet another reason to dismiss such ideas.

Against the Old Poll Tax but for the New One?

The Republican run Congress is having to delay renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which eliminated many anti-black voting practices of the past. Apparently what caused the the delay was House Republican disagreement on providing bilingual ballots and continuing federal oversight of Southern states. This delay has also pushed back the U.S. Senate taking up the issue next week.

To his credit, F. James Sensenbrenner was right in the middle of the Republican fight with their own over the Voting Rights Act. He said that as a result of a dozen hearings in the Judiciary Committee, he believes that discrimination still exists and that the federal oversight should continue.

The above actions of F. James Sensenbrenner are admirable, but much of that good will is extinguished after his recent joint action with Republican candidate for governor Mark Green. As I have previously written, these two Republicans are insisting that Wisconsinites that register at the polls must provide a driver's license number. This is contrary to a ruling by the State Elections Board which approved the use of voters Social Security numbers. After that ruling the two Republican Congressmen ran to the U.S. Department of Justice to get an opinion on the State's ruling. The U.S. Department of Justice then came back telling the State that voter cannot use the social and must use the driver's license. That disagreement will likely continue in court.

It seems clear that this is a naked effort by Senensbrenner and Green to move us one step closer to requiring voter ID's to exercise voting rights in Wisconsin. A study by UW-Milwaukee shows us that requiring Voter ID's puts a disproportional burden on minorities, the elderly and students, among others. A Voter ID requirement in Georgia was overturned last year by a federal judge. That judge compared the Voter ID requirement to jim crow era poll taxes on black voters.

I guess the obvious question for F. James Sensenbrenner is why are you against the old poll tax while at the same time advocating for the new one?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Would 19 GOP Senators Oppose This?

Yesterday we learned that two of our soldiers in Iraq were killed and likely tortured beyond recognition. In the raw emotion of these events, the U.S. Senate acted in a rarely bipartisan fashion. They passed an Amendment that said the following:
"To express the sense of Congress that the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States."

Seems reasonable enough to me. The inexplicable point is that what should be a slam dunk amendment was opposed by 19 U.S. Senators. All of them Republicans, to include likely 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona.

Now I did not hear debate on the issue (if there even was debate). But I am at a loss to explain their reasoning in voting against this amendment. Any ideas?

The Staggering Rise of Global Warming Pollution

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group just released a study on national and state trends in Carbon Dioxide emissions since 1960. Since our government has decided to allow global warming pollution to increase unchecked, the news is not good.

According to the report, from 1960 to 2001 the total U.S. increase in Carbon Dioxide emissions has risen by 95%. The regions with the largest rise was in the Southeast and the Gulf South, increasing 163% and 175% respectively. Among the states, Texas saw the largest increase in emissions having grown by 178%. Rounding out the top ten are Florida, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri and Arizona.

From 1960-2001 Wisconsin's went up by 78%. During that time, the largest increases in Wisconsin were from 1960-1970 and from 1990-2001. For only the emissions in 2001, Wisconsin ranked 19th between Virginia and West Virginia.

Our Bad Image in the World is Costing Us

As George W. Bush is meeting with European leaders in Austria today, he may want to know that the image of the U.S. in the world seems to continue it's rapid decline. Apparently Bush appointing his trusted aide, Katherine Hughes, to help improve our image has not been very successful. Today in the Christian Science Monitor they report results of some recent polls.
Results of a new global attitudes survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center show that a country's image of Americans is at least several percentage points higher than the same country's image of America as a nation. Bush's numbers are below both of those categories.

Another poll published this week by the Harris group shows that Europeans generally pick the US as the world's biggest threat to global security over Iran. This was true even in Britain, although Germans and Italians rank the US below Iran.

The story also asserts that this bad image in the world may be hitting us right in the pocket book in tourism dollars. According to the story, in 2002 the US brought in 9% of international travel. Today the number is down to 6%. According to the Travel Industry Association each percentage drop represents 150,000 jobs and $15 billion in spending.

Did Republicans Misplace Part of Their Press Release?

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin put out a press release yesterday entitled "Big Oil Gives Thousands to Mark Green." In the release they list the thousands of dollars in contributions that Mark Green has received from Big Oil.

In an attempt at "gotcha" politics, the Republican Party of Wisconsin sent out a press release this morning listing contributions to Doyle from oil companies (although not Big Oil companies like BP and Exxon Mobile).

The Democratic release had one thing that the today's Republican one lacks. A clear record of direct support to Big Oil through Mark Green's votes in Congress. Apparently Republicans could not find one thing that Doyle gave back to his oil company contributors. The Democratic Party went on to give a detailed list of Mark Green's votes supporting Big Oil:
In return, Mark Green:
Stood with Big Oil, voting for a $500 million subsidy for oil & gas companies [Source: HR5427, Vote 201,5/24/06]

Stood with Big Oil, voting for $5 billion in tax breaks, subsidies, and giveaways for Big Oil companies from tax bill [Source: HR4297, Vote #109, 4/27/06]

Stood with Big Oil, voting to give billions to oil companies [Source: HR6, Vote #445, 7/28/05]

Stood with Big Oil, voting against $15.5 million for energy efficiency [Source: HR2419, Vote #207, 5/24/05]

Stood with Big Oil, voting repeatedly to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) inAlaska [Source: HR5429, Vote 209, 5/25/06]

Stood with Big Oil, voting against cracking down on gas price gouging [Source: HR6, Vote #118, 4/20/05]

Stood with Big Oil, voting to give $13 billion in tax breaks and spending to oil companies, voted for drilling in ANWR, and voted to promote offshore drilling [Source: HR4, Vote #320, 8/1/01]

It looks like Big Oil's investment in Mark Green was a good one for them. All the while Green's constituents seem to only receive a gouging at the pump.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fair Wisconsin Launches "$30 by June 30th"

Fair Wisconsin is the lead organization fighting what I call the Discrimination Against Gays Amendment (even though it is discriminatory against many other groups and people).

Fair Wisconsin has launched what they are calling the "$30 by June 30th"campaign. The idea is to donate 30 bucks to Fair Wisconsin by June 30th, then get a few friends to do the same. Their goal is to raise $30,000 during this effort.

Fair Wisconsin has already done so much to fight this proposed amendment and I have a feeling that they will keep fighting it in every way until the last vote is counted in November. So please consider helping them in any way that you are able.

Favoring Some Churches Over Others

What welcome news reported in today's Oshkosh NorthWestern!
In the last two weeks, more than 700 religious congregations have taken a public stand against the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin to ban civil unions and same-sex marriages.

According to the story, this represents over 500,000 congregants in Wisconsin. The story goes on to mention that even entire denominations and fellowships have taken a public stand against the discriminatory amendment.

An absurd and arrogant statement from Julaine Appling, coordinator of the Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage, is quoted in the story. In it she claims the following:

"The people of this state that have any idea about what the Bible says about marriage, they believe marriage is one man and one woman," Appling said. "And I think they'll go into the voting booth and say this is about whether a man and a woman comprise the institute of marriage, and they'll vote yes."

Let me try to get past the absolute arrogance of her comments and mention two things. 1. The fact that she is mentioning biblical interpretation as being the reason that people should vote for the amendment, is the very reason that the amendment should be rejected. It is an issue of personal and religious belief, not that of government policy and state law. 2. Why should the long arm of the government reach in and endorse any church's doctrine over that of another? Clearly we now know that not all churches think alike on this topic. Why invalidate the beliefs and values of one congregation while favoring another?

Congress Creates More Confusion for Vulnerable

Just last week we learned that the big Medicare Prescription Drug plan has continued to cause problems for some of our country's elderly. Some have even lost coverage because of the various glitches in the program.

Now we find that Congress has caused even more problems for the nations most vulnerable. When Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 they included in the legislation new regulations requiring residents to prove their citizenship when applying or renewing eligibility for various social programs. The regulations go into effect on July 1 and require people to provide a passport, birth certificate or other documentation before taking part in programs. Some of the programs that could be affected are Medicaid, BadgerCare, and SeniorCare.

A story in the Racine Journal-Times reports that State Officials worry that as many as 850,000 Wisconsinites may find these new regulations burdensome. The story continues to report the following:
The state now will have to set up a system to verify citizenship and figure out when they reapply for the program.

"For SeniorCare, we are going to have to create an entirely new process," Helgerson said.

An estimated 40,000 people will need to reapply from July though September.

Potentially putting all of these vulnerable people in jeopardy and for what reason? Keeping illegal immigrants from enrolling in these programs? For the most part, they are already barred from enrolling in the programs. As the story also points out, there are not large amounts of illegal immigrants finding their way into these programs in the first place.

It seems that in their frenzy to attack illegal immigrants, the leadership in Congress continue to throw out reason and good sense. It appears that the majority of people that could lose services will be the very people for whom they were created.

Presidential Speeches Will Not Protect Our Ports

Yesterday George W. Bush gave the commencement address at the Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, NY. The Merchant Marines help secure our ports, so I thought it quite strange the Bush would actually appear there to speak. Why might it be an awkward speaking engagement for him? Well, isn’t he the one that approved the outsourcing of our port security to the United Arab Emirates. Even the Washington Times disapproved of Bush’s actions then.

Since 911 we have heard a lot of tough talk from Bush and the right wing about protecting America. Yet almost every chance they get, they seem to block measures taken to protect our ports. Many people feel that this is our greatest vulnerability to terrorism. Yet Bush and the Republican led Congress seem to block and ignore when it comes to port security. Here is the record (unfortunately it is rather long):

In 2005, only Republicans in the Senate voted against an amendment to the FY2006 budget that set aside $150 million in security grants specifically for port security.

In 2004, only Republican Senators and wanabee Republican Zell Miller voted against an amendment to the FY 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. That amendment sought to provide $150 million for port security development and research grants. Specifically these funds were intended to help develop equipment to detect nuclear weapons in containers entering our ports.

In 2003 Republicans in the Senate voted against an amendment to the FY 2004 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. That amendment would have provided $238 million for port and border security. Once again all Republicans and Zell Miller voted against providing the funds to protect our ports.

In 2003 only Senate Republicans and Zell Miller voted to table an amendment by Robert Byrd to provide $1.13 billion for Homeland Security in a FY 2003 War Supplemental. That tabled amendment would have provided funding to strengthen security at our ports among other important things.

In 2003 only Senate Republicans and Zell Miller voted to table an amendment by Senator Hollings to provide $1 billion to improve port security in the FY 2003 War Supplemental.

In 2003 House Republicans (including all Wisconsin Republicans in Congress) voted to kill an amendment to add $250 million for port security grants and $150 million for research to develop capabilities against chemical weapons, among other things.

In 2005 House Republicans (including all Wisconsin Republicans in Congress) voted against an alternative Homeland Security Authorization Proposal that would have done many things to protect American. One of those items would have provided an extra $400 million to protect ports. Thirteen million dollars of that amount would have been used to double the number of overseas port inspectors provided in Bush’s budget that year.

The latest in that long line of neglect is $650 million that was stripped out of a national security funding package moving through Congress. Opponents of the funding appear to be citing George W. Bush’s threat to veto the measure if they do not cut as much from it as possible.

Isn’t our nation’s security the number one responsibility of our elected officials? Shouldn’t that be their first priority? Couldn’t they have found the money to fully fund the port security from somewhere else in the budget? I have an idea; why not simply use the money in the most recent $70 Billion tax cut for rich investors? Even just a small portion of that massive tax cut could fully secure our ports with tens of Billions of dollars to spare.

What does it say about the leadership in our federal government when they decide to spend many billions for tax cuts for wealthy investors, but balk at fully funding port security? More importantly, what will it say about us if we put this crowd back in power after the November mid-term elections?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mayor Favre Takes a Vow

Eddie Favre Mayor of Bay St. Louis Mississippi and distant cousin to Brett Favre has taken a vow. He has vowed not to change his shorts until the citizens of his Katrina ravaged town have been “made whole.”

In an AP story we learn that more than 70% of the homes in Bay St. Louis were wiped out. Also this from the AP:
Roughly three-quarters of the city’s pre-storm population of 8,000 is back, but many of those who returned are still waiting for the financial assistance they need to start rebuilding.

Meanwhile, a frustrated Favre says he’s reduced to serving as a morale-booster while he presses state and federal officials to deliver aid to homeowners and the city, which anticipates a $15 million budget deficit over the next three years.

“I hate to see my people suffering so much and know that, to a large extent, there’s not a ... thing I can do to help them,” Favre said.

Nine months after the killer storm, some communities, including Bay St. Louis, are still haggling with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the timetable and cost of debris removal. And now another hurricane season is upon the city. (emphasis mine-Cory)
According to the story, Mayor Favre sported his shorts when sharing the stage with George W. Bush and at the annual Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington.

Some Convicted Felons Have More Rights than Others

So it’s official, former State Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen will be appealing his convictions in the freedom of his own home rather than serving his time in prison. This from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Day Watch:
Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert said he remains convinced that the former Republican leader was convicted based on overwhelming evidence. But the judge said he recognized that if Jensen ultimately wins his appeal, time he spends in prison "cannot be returned" to him."

I am persuaded by a more basic humanitarian impulse, and that is to preserve a young family intact" while the appeal process runs its course, said Ebert, who stayed his order that Jensen begin serving a 15-month prison sentence on July 15.

You have got to be kidding me. I have personally worked on many criminal cases where a person has been convicted of one or more felonies. I don’t remember ever seeing any of them kept out of prison while they appeal. Although most of those defendants were African American men and could not afford an attorney, much less the powerful TRIAL LAWYERS that Jensen has hired. So what if these young men win appeals of cases that they are forced to launch pro se from a prison library? That is time that “cannot be returned” to them. Apparently Jensen’s time is more precious.

The continuous double standard in our system of justice is sickening. This is only another example that the rich, powerful, and connected live in a different world than the rest of us. Even after being convicted of multiple felonies.

By the way, does anyone have an idea of how long Jensen’s appeal may take? Does anyone doubt that he will appeal it to the Supreme Court? Could this mean that he has bought (by way of expensive trial lawyers) a “get out of jail free card” that will not expire for years?

What an injustice.

I’ll Pay for Paul Ryan’s Ticket to “An Inconvenient Truth”

How strange that on the same weekend that I was able to see the Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” it was reported that three of Wisconsin’s four Republican members of Congress voted against increasing funds for monitoring vehicle fuel efficiency. Congressmen Paul Ryan, F. James Sensenbrenner, and Tom Petri were the offenders.

It was an amendment to HR5576 and was passed without the three Wisconsin Republicans support. It increased funds for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration office in charge of vehicle fuel efficiency. It will raise funding from $1.3 million to $8 million and give the agency more tools to enforce current standards.

A former administrator of the agency writes the following regarding the importance of the bill’s passage and increased fuel efficiency standards in general.
Poor funding and the failure of congressional authority have prevented the Office of Fuel Economy from effectively monitoring the auto industry and setting the maximum feasible levels for fuel economy standards. With this amendment, the Office of Fuel Economy will again have the funding and authority to take an active stand as a proponent of vehicle fuel efficiency and innovation.

Fuel economy standards have not been raised since I issued the first CAFE standards almost three decades ago. The current car standard, which took effect in 1985, is only 27.5 mpg. If it were raised to an achievable average of 40 mpg, we would save approximately 3.4 million barrels of oil a day. In a year, the quantity saved would be one and a half times greater than our current annual imports from the Persian Gulf.

Although the current standards appear to be outdated, The Union of Concerned Scientists proclaims the CAFE standards a success commenting:
CAFE standards increased new car and truck fuel economy by 70 percent between 1975 and 1988. In 2000 alone, CAFE saved American consumers $92 billion, reduced oil use by 60 billion gallons of gasoline, and kept 720 million tons of global warming pollution out of our atmosphere. The original schedule for CAFE improvements ended in 1985, leaving Congress and the administration responsible for future improvements - none of which have been pursued, leading to the current drop in fuel economy of the national vehicle fleet.

So when the CAFE standards have been followed, they have saved consumers money AND reduced the amount of global warming pollution? So what is the big debate in giving the Office of Fuel Economy more tools and funding to do its job?

I intend to ask Paul Ryan that question if he accepts my invitation to see “An Inconvenient Truth.” While I’m at it, I think I’ll cover admission for Sensenbrenner and Petri also. I think that we deserve an explanation from all three of them on their “no” votes last week.

A Bone to Pick with Milwaukee's DA

In Saturday’s edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they reported on the sentencing of two men convicted in the killing of a minister on Milwaukee’s north side. Judge Kahn stated at their sentencing that this was clearly a hate crime. Judge Kahn is quoted in the story as saying the following:

"I can come to no other conclusion (than) Mr. Ward's suspicion or belief that Mr. Jemison was gay was a factor in the commission of the crime."

So the rhetorical question that I have for the Milwaukee County District Attorney is, why did you not charge these men with the Hate Crime Enhancer that Wisconsin has had on it’s books for years now? Perhaps a better question would be why have you never charged ANYONE (to my knowledge) with a hate crime?

I am told that District Attorney E. Michael McCann does not believe in the Hate Crime Statutes. I’m sure that he’d say that it is bad law and hard to prove. Yet here we have a clear case of the judge stating that this incident was a hate crime. We also have successful convictions that we can point to across the state. So why not utilize this enhancer in Milwaukee County?

Pardon me for lecturing a longtime DA, but you are a District Attorney not a legislator. If you don’t like the law then lobby the lawmakers. In the mean time it is your job to enforce the law as it is, not as you think it should be.

I have personal experience with the Milwaukee County DA not enforcing the Hate Crime Statute. I have a friend that was assaulted and permanently injured. Based on witness testimony, it was clearly a hate crime. Yet no hate crime was charged.

It is clear that the Hate Crime Statutes will not be used by the DA’s office with McCann at the helm. Let’s hope that the new District Attorney will enforce all of the laws in Wisconsin, not just the ones that he/she agrees with.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Interesting Numbers from a New Poll

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll addressed a large variety of issues. Below I have listed a few of the more interesting findings:

The Economy
By 39%-16%, Americans expect economy to get worse in next year; 43% say it’ll stay the same. Democrats lead on handling the economy by the largest margin, 16 percentage points, since 1993. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Among independents, 25% worry Democrats will too quickly raise taxes and spending. But 37% say Bush’s party isn’t sufficiently curbing spending and shrinking the deficit. As House and Senate near minimum-wage clashes next week, 55% of independents are more likely to support a candidate who backs an increase.
The Environment
59% say climate change warrants “some action” or “immediate” steps, up from 51% in 1999.
Wedge Issues Among Republicans
Among Republicans most interested in 2006 elections, gay marriage trails Iraq and immigration as issue; 22% cite it as a top factor in November choice. Just 5% say flag-burning.

What About World-Wide Terrorism Mr. Cheney?

In a recent radio interview Dick Cheney claimed that the war in Iraq was "in part responsible" for the absence of terrorist attacks since September 11th.

The fact that Cheney failed to mention is that his own State Department has reported that world-wide terrorism rose fourfold last year.

Would You Fix the Medicare Drug Plan Already!

How many reports do we have to read regarding the massive Medicare Drug Plan and it's many glitches and problems? Is someone eventually going to fix this monstrosity? The latest report appears today in a USAToday story.
The problems that plagued low-income seniors and people with disabilities during the rollout of Medicare's prescription-drug program in January have continued on a smaller scale, causing some new beneficiaries to lose coverage or spend their own money at pharmacy counters.

The problems occur when people turn 65 or become eligible for Medicare disability benefits and are involuntarily switched from Medicaid drug coverage to the new Medicare plan. Thousands lose Medicaid drug coverage, typically for two to six weeks, before Medicare kicks in. Health counselors say the trouble dominates their caseloads.

"It is a national problem," says Barbara Murock, a state health policy specialist in Allegheny County, Pa. "It's happening all the time."

Since January, most of the early problems have been rectified. But each month, 10,000 to 70,000 new people fall into the gap between Medicaid and Medicare.

It seems that George W. Bush, Mark Green and the others that gave birth to this huge expansion of government gave plenty of thought to how it could benefit big drug companies. For Example, not allowing the government to negotiate with them for lower drug prices. Why didn't they give as much thought to the elderly citizens that would rely on the program?

These constant revelations of gaps, cracks and screw ups in the program are almost maddening. That is for someone that is a long way away from needing it. How much more so for the elderly that need help now?

Is the Graber Record Worthy of Promotion?

Spivak and Bice first broke the story that Republican Party Chairman Rick Graber might be taking a new job with the Bush Administration.

It seems that some on the right are not crying over his departure.

I can say that I don't blame them. During Graber's tenure Wisconsin voted for Gore and Feingold in 2000, Elizabeth Burmaster in 2001, Jim Doyle in 2002, and John Kerry in 2004. Hardly a record worthy of promotion.

John Gard Runs From Another Debate

State Representative and Republican Candidate for the 8th Congressional District, Terri McCormick, put out an interesting press release today.

Apparently her primary opponent Assembly Speaker John Gard has declined to debate her later this month. McCormick states that this is the fourth time that Gard has run away from a debate. McCormick makes the following point in the release:

"The people should decide who represents them, not the money on a 30-second television commercial," Rep. McCormick said. "For people to make a well-informed decision, those running for office must be willing to share their ideas and their plans to solve problems."

Gapparentlytlly feels that since he has already banointednted as the chosen one from Republican party leaders, that he should not have to go before the public and defend his positions and record. The backing of the establishment and big money should not determine who wins any election.

Gard may run from debates with McCormick, but if he wins the Republican Primary, he better be prepared for one heck of a fight. That would include several debates, if he doesn't try to run from those as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

They Attacked Clinton, Will They Attack Bush?

Yesterday I posted that Rudy Giuliani feels that the folks in D.C. don't have an energy policy. I also provided a link to Republican attacks against Bill Clinton in a position paper from 2000. They accused him of not having an energy policy. Below I have listed some of the Republican attacks used against Clinton and compared them to economic times under Bush.

Attack: When OPEC slowed oil production in 1999, oil prices went up from $10 to $30 a barrel.

The Bush Energy Policy (if it exists) has had a chance to do it's magic for six years now, and what do we have? Just a couple months ago, oil hit an all-time record of over $75 a barrel.

Attack: Spikes in Oil prices affect other aspects of the economy. In March of 1999 the core rate of inflation was .4 percent, the largest in 5 years.

The core rate of inflation for the last 3 months has been .3 percent. This is the highest increase since 1995.

Attack: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates 5 times from June 1999-April 2000.

The Federal Reserve raised rates 14 times in 2005.


Now we see that economists are worried about what they call "stagflation" among other things. How did all of this happen? Will anyone take responsibility? All of this while the Republicans were in charge of the entire federal government? Are we to believe that this is just a strange coincidence or a long series of failing policies? Whatever the cause, someone should pay a price. Someone beside workers with stagnant wages and the poor with increasingly cut benefits.

Could This Be Called Paul Ryan's Pay for Play?

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Spivak and Bice reveal that Congressman Paul Ryan has been leaning on bureaucrats regarding the proposed casino in Kenosha. This from today's column:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, as we earlier reported, dialed up the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Minneapolis late last year to lean on the bureaucrats about the $808 million casino being proposed at the Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha. Big-shot businessman Dennis Troha, the driving force behind the off-reservation casino, and his friends and family donated more than $31,000 to the Janesville Republican's campaign in 2005.

But now we learn that Ryan was in the face of top federal officials in February to find out what was taking them so long with the casino application.

"Jim Cason and I met with Congressman Ryan yesterday afternoon," George Skibine, director of the Office of Indian Gaming Management, wrote in a March 1 e-mail. Cason is the associate deputy secretary at the U.S. Interior Department.

"He (Ryan) asked us for a time frame to get a decision on this application. He was also really annoyed with Maria Wiseman for missing her self-imposed deadlines for reviewing the draft (environmental impact statement)."
This is not the first time that Spivak and Bice have told us about the money given to Ryan from the Kenosha Casino interests. It's just the first time that they've shown us what this kind of money gets a donor.

So let's review. Advocates for the casino give Ryan more than $31,000 in one year, and then Ryan gets in the face of the folks at the Bureau of Indian Affairs because they are not moving fast enough for his benefactors. If we switch the name Ryan to Doyle, wouldn't most on the right start talking about a "pay for play" scandal? I've asked this question before, but what's the diff? Where are the press releases? Where is the consistency? Where is the outrage from Republicans? Nowhere to be found, only double standards.