Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Relapse

Xoff is doing some blogging at Uppity Wisconsin.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Closing the Xoff Files -- A final word

This will be the final word on The Xoff Files.

What more appropriate time than Election Day to pull the plug?

When I started writing for this enterprise in March 2005, I barely knew what a blogger was. Next thing I knew, I were one.

Now, Blogger says I've posted 3,380 items. The counter says there have been 375,000 visits to this blog since we turned it on last May. A drop in the ocean.

I once wrote that if I ever blogged about blogging someone should just shoot me. But hold your fire; this is the exception.

To me, a blog is a tool, a means to an end, not a way of life. My identity has never been as a blogger. I decided to do it as a way to have a little more of a voice, and maybe a little more influence, on this election. I hope, in some small way, that I have helped to get a progressive Democratic message out, have had a little impact on the news media and its coverage, and have held the right wing talkers and bloggers just a little more accountable.

Now it's Election Day. I'm always cautious about predicting any results -- because I've been wrong so many times -- but I think today is going to be a good day to be a Democrat.

In any case, my hitch in the blogger corps is up, and I am not reenlisting.

I'm hoping I can be rehabilitated and lead a productive life.

I'm turning off the comments button on this one.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Reynolds' report doesn't add up

State Sen. Tom Reynolds is home-schooling his kids. Let's hope that his wife is the one teaching math, since Senator Moonbeam seems a little numerically challenged. No wonder he couldn't get his campaign address right. Gretchen Schuldt is on the case.

Consistent to the end

AP reports on a Green campaign stop in Pewaukee:
Among those appearing with Green was state Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, the author of a proposal that would lower the hunting age to 8.

Asked later about that proposal, Green declined to say if he would support it. He said such issues should be discussed after the election.

Suspicions confirmed

If you don't vote, don't bitch, they say.

It's just the opposite in Muskego, where two-thirds of the people who signed petitions to recall the mayor didn't vote in the mayor's election. The Journal Sentinel found 25% of signers weren't even registered to vote, and that Muskego isn't unique in Recall World.

The GOP's dirty telephone trick

We used to joke about doing a 3 a.m. get-out-the-vote phone bank, saying we were calling from the Republican Party to remind you that the polls opened in four hours.

But the GOP is actually using a similar tactic, with repeat robo-calls irritating voters, who think the calls are coming from the Dems.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been following it. Here's one of his posts that explains what's going on.

Dems are blaming Mr. Turnout, Karl Rove. From Democrats.com:
The calls are made to Democrats and swing voters at all times of day or night to make them angry. And they pretend to be from the Democrat ("Hello, I'm calling with information about Lois Murphy"). If you hang up, they call back 7-8 times, and each time you hear the Democrat's name, to get you angry at him or her. If you stay on, you get to hear a scathing attack on the Democrat.
UPDATE: Wisconsin's 8th CD is getting the calls, too, according to Steve Kagen's campaign. WisPolitics, in its PM Report to subscribers, says Stephanie Lundberg of Kagen's campaign says the autocalls start with “Hello, I’m calling with information about Steve Kagen.” She says she’s heard multiple complaints from residents receiving the call who hung up but were subsequently re-contacted multiple times. The calls then go on to trash Kagen as a liberal. Only if you listen to the end, without hanging up, do you hear that the call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

WISN-AM: Standing up for the elephants



I know there's no Fairness Doctrine for radio any more, but doesn't this corporate-sponsored billboard seem a little over the top?

It's not about right wing vs. left wing or liberals vs. conservatives. It is totally partisan. (In case you can't tell, that's a donkey getting its ass kicked by the elephant.)

Questions: Is this legal? (Probably.) Why would you want to discourage anyone, even stupid Democrats, from listening to your station? And why would I ever want to buy advertising on WISN-AM again?

I've frequently been tough on WTMJ-AM and have said little or nothing about WISN-AM simply because I haven't listened to their "star," Mark Belling, for at least 10 years.

Can't wait for next week's billboard: Probably white people stepping on blacks, followed by one with whites stepping on Latino immigrants. Nothing wrong with taking sides, is there?

They call it Standing Up for Milwaukee.

What do you call it?

Sunday, November 05, 2006


This greeted George Bush at a Colorado campaign stop.

ProgressNowAction has more.

Michael J. Fox in Milwaukee

Michael J. Fox, the guy who made Rush Limbaugh go off his meds, will be in Milwaukee for a rally with Gov. Jim Doyle on Monday morning in Milwaukee. [UPDATE: Did I mention it's in Milwaukee?]

It's at Serb Hall, 51st and Oklahoma, and doors open at 9:30 a.m.

If you want to see Fox firsthand and judge whether he's a faker or really has serious symptoms of Parkinson's disease, call 1-877-646-2006 or click this link to RSVP. It's free and open to the public.

Reality check: AG has big policy, legislative role

The Journal Sentinel endorses J.B. Van Hollen for attorney general.

Synopsis: We disagree with him on just about every issue you can think of -- concealed weapons, the death penalty, voter ID. He's just plain wrong on everything.

But the AG isn't a legislator, and Van Hollen says he'll just be the top cop, so we endorse him -- although we think Kathleen Falk would do a fine job, too.

Van Hollen's a prosecutor, too.

And we needed to balance our endorsement of Doyle for governor.


What's wrong with that is the basic premise.

The attorney general, when he/she chooses to use it, has a bully pulpit and can have enormous influence on what direction the state takes in its criminal justice system. The AG is an important force in shaping state policy, and legislators look to the AG for guidance on law enforcement issues.

The Dept. of Justice, which the AG heads, has its own legislative agenda and program for the legislative session and actively works for and against bills, from concealed weapons to consumer protection.

Congressman Mark Green certainly thinks the AG has influence on legislation. He's running a negative commercial in the closing days of the campaign attacking Doyle for opposing a sexual predator bill 12 years ago -- a bill that was improved and passed, with Doyle's support, because of his opposition to the weak initial draft.

Doyle even worked with then-Gov. Tommy Thompson on a whole set of juvenile justice reforms, back in the days when you needed votes from both parties to pass something.

There may be other reasons for the JS to endorse Van Hollen. But if the newspaper really believes that who holds the AG's office will not affect state laws and policy, the editorial board needs a crash course in how government works in Madison.

The AG, in truth, is more administrator and lawmaker than prosecutor. Except for a rare show trial -- like the Chai Vang case-- the attorney general doesn't prosecute anyone and hasn't in modern Wisconsin history. Doyle, who had an admirable record in 12 years as AG, won some arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. But, although he was a former Dane County DA and an experienced prosecutor, he never prosecuted a case as AG.

UPDATE: When Peg Lautenschlager personally handled the Vang case, here's what Van Hollen told WisPolitics in September 2005:
"I believe an attorney general has much more important things to do thanjust spending time in a courtroom," said GOP AG hopeful J.B. Van Hollen,who views Lautenschlager's decision to jump on the case as politically motivated.
UPDATE: The Wisconsin State Journal endorses Falk, so both Falk and Doyle have both Madison papers' endorsements. It is rare the WSJ and Cap Times agree on anything, let alone the top two state races.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Trivializing Green's ethical problems

Patrick McIlheran sizes up the candidates for gov on integrity and ethics and -- surprise! -- decides he prefers Congressman Mark Green, whom he's preferred all along.

Doyle, he says, has some ethical issues. Can't prove anything, just a bad feeling.

But Green?
[The Democrats']main charge is that Green often voted like a Republican and that his donors were Republican-type donors. Thus he voted for defense spending, for instance, because Lockheed Martin gave $1,000. This requires a cynical conviction that he had no prior Republican beliefs.

Green is also accused thus: His campaign manager got tickets to a Bucks game. And Green moved money from his congressional campaign fund to his gubernatorial one, something perfectly legal until state regulators made it illegal eight months later.
Ah yes, $1,000 from Lockheed Martin. If only Green's problems were that simple, and that insignificant.

A few examples of where Green has raised a total of $2-million -- that's million, not thousand -- in special interest money during his time in office:

-- $408,000 from health care interests -- $60,837 from pharmaceutical company PACs, pharmaceutical lobbyists and employees of the big drug makers. Another$91,665 from health insurance interests. Add $103,485 from dentists and dental interests. And Green $153,709 from the health care industry, including health care providers, physicians and specialists. No wonder Green's health care solution is "market driven." No wonder he voted against reimporting safe prescription drugs from Canada, to ban the government from negotiating lower Medicare drug costs, and to give the pharmaceutical companies billions in windfall profits.

-- $305,000 from banks. That includes $162,582 from individuals employed by banks and investment companies and $143,175 from banking industry PACs. Gov. Jim Doyle has cracked down on Wisconsin banks who were using a loophole to avoid paying any state taxes. Green says as governor he would stop those audits and enforcement that has collected $27-million from banks so far.

-- $42,000 from oil and gas companies. They're pikers compared with the bankers and health industry, especially considering that Green backed the Bush energy bill that gave them $8-billion in tax breaks.

In three days last August, Green collected more than $100,000 in campaign cash from Realtors, builders and others in the housing industry -- right at the time he put out a proposal to ease housing regulations.

There's plenty more, but you get the idea. It's not the grand from Lockheed that has people wondering.

Did Green take the positions he did because the special interests gave him all that loot, or did they build up his bankroll because he votes the way they like?

I don't know and I don't care.

What the numbers and the votes tell you is not that Green is on the take. It's that he is on the wrong side. Mark Green stands with the big corporations and the fat cats against the interests of Wisconsin's working families.

It could not be more clear which side he's on. That's what's wrong with Mark Green.

Back to Paddy Mac for a moment: He neglected to mention that those Bucks tickets Green's staffer got (and more than once) came from the office of felon Jack Abramoff, back when Abramoff was buying and selling Congressmen like cattle.

And, despite his pronouncement that Green's money transfer was perfectly legal, both the State Elections Board and a circuit judge have ruled otherwise.

Does Paddy think that people who find their way to his obscure editorial page column don't read the news sections?

This attempt at whitewash insults his readers (who, as far as I can tell, consist entirely of lefty bloggers).

--Graphic stolen from Rock Netroots

Saturday rally on Iraq war vote

Cindy Sheenan will speak at a rally sponsored by Peace Action and other groups at 5 p.m. today at 4th and Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee.

A referendum on the war is on the ballot Tuesday in Milwaukee and nine other communities, including South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and Fox Point.

"A little ways to go" in Iraq: Green

Congressman Mark Green almost made it through the whole campaign without having to talk about his vote and mindless cheerleading for the war in Iraq. Someone must have finally asked him a question. WISC-TV reports:
Green Defends Vote To Go To War In Iraq
Green Says War Has Been Successful

WISC TV, November 4, 2006

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- U.S. Rep. Mark Green said his vote in favor of the war in Iraq will be judged in history as a wise move.

Green was a vocal supporter of the war early on, but has been silent more recently as he turned his attention to state issues. Green, a Republican, is running for governor against Democrat Jim Doyle.

Green said the war has been successful, although there's "a little ways to go."

He told reporters Friday after a rally in Eau Claire that Americans are safer without Saddam Hussein in power and that the war might have helped prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.

But Green also said that war is a nasty, messy, dirty business and the people who voted for it had to be prepared for someone to die.

On his way out, Bucher lobs a stink bomb

In one of his last acts on his way to the unemployment line, Paul Bucher throws out a pre-election partisan stink bomb: The JS reports:
Bucher sees violation by Elections Board
DA won't file charges before Tuesday's vote

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said Friday he has evidence four members of the State Elections Board violated the open meetings law when they voted to force Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green to divest $467,844 from his campaign account.

"This decision was made well in advance" of the Aug. 30 meeting in Brookfield, Bucher said. "I believe I have evidence to show an open meetings violation and I will pursue that."

Four board members agreed to vote as a bloc, Bucher said. Because only seven of the board's nine members voted, the four who had strategized over the matter constituted a majority and violated the public meetings law, he said.

Bucher declined to name which members had agreed to vote as a bloc. Michael Maistelman, an attorney with Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's campaign, sent e-mails to three Democratic board members - Kerry Dwyer, Carl Holborn and Robert Kasieta - spelling out a strategy to punish Green's campaign.

Bucher said his investigation showed a fourth member was privy to those communications.

Bucher is a Republican who lost the GOP attorney general primary in September to J.B. Van Hollen. Bucher disclosed his findings just four days before Tuesday's election between Doyle and Green, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Green Bay.

"This just reeks of partisanship," said Anson Kaye, a spokesman for Doyle's campaign. "The timing of this announcement drains it of any credibility."

Brian Blanchard, Dane County's Democratic district attorney, added: "DAs should not announce charges before they're filed. It's not fair to the accused . . . especially on the eve of an election."

... Bucher said he could not file civil charges unless he received a notarized complaint about the matter, and in any case would not do so before the election.

State Sen Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) asked Bucher to look into the case after the Journal Sentinel reported on Maistelman's e-mails in September. Ellis said Friday he would file the notarized complaint to facilitate charges being filed.

"I want to find out what really happened," Ellis said.

A finding of an open meetings violations would have no effect on the order against Green, Bucher said. The Elections Board said Green had to return some of the money he had transferred to his state campaign account from his congressional fund in 2005 because it came from political action committees not registered in Wisconsin...

Bucher said the case was extraordinarily complicated and had taken weeks to review because he had to look into whether the Elections Board hearing qualified as a "contested case" under the law. It was not a contested case, he found; had it been, Bucher said he would have reviewed whether Maistelman's e-mails violated other laws...
That excuse for the timing just won't wash.

The State Ethics Board looked at the same question and decided weeks ago that it did not qualify as a contested case - a formal, adversarial legal procedure which would have banned contact outside of the hearing.

Or Bucher could have asked Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Elections Board. I asked Kennedy when the last time was the board heard a contested case, and Kennedy replied in a e-mail on October 19:
I am not sure if we have had a Chapter 227 contested case. The statute (Section 5.06) for resolving election administration complaints exempts the SEB from the contested case procedure. Our campaign finance enforcement actions are essentially charging decisions. We have to go to court under Section 5.05 (3) to enforce our decisions.
And why didn't Bucher ask for a notarized complaint to begin with? He's run it all backwards, producing the findings before a complaint is filed.

You don't think this is political, do you? I think Anson Kaye had this one exactly right when he said it "reeks of partisanship."

But, hey, we're talking Paul Bucher. What did you expect?

UPDATE: One Wisconsin Now wonders: Is Bucher setting the table for a challenge to the election?


UPDATE 2. The AP certainly offers a different version of what Bucher concluded:
Bucher: No criminal violation in Green money decision

By JAMES A. CARLSON, Associated Press, November 4, 2006

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- There was no criminal violation when the state Elections Board decided Aug. 30 that Republican Mark Green could not keep $468,000 in donations he had transferred from his congressional campaign fund to his run for governor, Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher says.

Bucher said that after reviewing the board's action, he concluded there was no technical violation of the law, even though he was very critical of what transpired.

The board held that Green's campaign had to divest of the money because it came from political action committees not registered in the state.

It later was revealed that a lawyer hired by the campaign of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had consulted in advance with Democrats on the board about what strategy to take in the vote. A top state Republican also had talked with a GOP member of the board before the vote that went 5-2 against Green.

Green has challenged the decision, but a judge upheld it and the state Supreme Court has declined to take up his appeal before Tuesday's election.

The state Ethics Board also reviewed the Elections Board's action and concluded Oct. 13 there was nothing improper about the contacts that political operatives had with Elections Board members before the vote.

The Ethics Board said the contact was not illegal because the Elections Board was not dealing with a "contested case." A contested case is defined as an agency proceeding in which two parties disagree over an issue and a hearing is required by law to make a ruling.

Bucher said Friday night he came to a similar conclusion, even though he feels the decision likely was a setup "but legally there's nothing I can do about it."

"I think what happened was inappropriate (and) it totally did not pass the smell test," Bucher said.

But because the board acted at a meeting and not at a special hearing required by statute, it could not be considered a violation of the law, he said.

However, he said he would proceed with an accusation that there was a violation of the state open meetings law.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ney resigns

AP via WashPost:
Rep. Ney of Ohio Resigns From Congress

By DAVID HAMMER, Associated Press, November 3, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, who pleaded guilty last month in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation resigned his seat in Congress on Friday.

The Ohio Republican, who had been pressed to quit by fellow lawmakers, sent a letter of resignation to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, according to Ney's chief of staff, David Popp.
Maybe now Congressman Mark Green will feel it's OK to ask his good buddy Ney to resign. He hasn't said a peep.

Green plays the gay card

I suppose it was inevitable. I just hope this blows up in his face.

Green claims he hasn't seen the anti-gay piece and won't comment on it, but it is from his campaign, not some outside group.

That means Mark Green is responsible for it. The buck stops with him, not Steve King or Juliane Appling or James Dobson. This is Mark Green himself bashing gays.

The Capital Times:
Green flier: Wisconsin is not San Francisco
It rips Doyle on benefits for gays, unwed couples

By David Callender and Judith Davidoff, Capital Times, November 3, 2006

Republican gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mark Green is accusing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of "sweeping aside the importance of family and marriage" by advocating domestic partner benefits for state employees.

"Why should taxpayers pay for the benefits of gay and lesbian partners or of unmarried opposite sex partners?" Green asks in a four-page campaign mailing to voters. "It's Jim Doyle's style - special deals for the few, while the rest of Wisconsin pays the bill."

The glossy, full-color brochure arrived in mailboxes as Doyle and Green began the final countdown to next Tuesday's election.

The mailing appears aimed at voters who are already likely to head to the polls in support of a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. Green supports the amendment; Doyle does not.

The brochure features a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge superimposed on a field of cows grazing and claims that "some things from San Francisco just don't fit in Wisconsin. Jim Doyle's liberal agenda is one of them."

Green said he hadn't seen the brochure and refused to comment on its contents during a campaign stop in Madison on Thursday.

Green spokesman Mike Prentiss said that the brochure is consistent with Green's opposition to domestic partnership benefits for both gay and lesbian couples and unmarried heterosexual couples.

He denied, however, that the mailing was implicitly anti-gay in its reference to San Francisco, a city known for being gay-friendly.

Prentiss said the reference is intended to remind voters of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whose district includes San Francisco. Neither Pelosi's name nor her image appears anywhere in the brochure.

Doyle spokeswoman Melanie Fonder called the brochure "another piece of trash from the Green campaign. That's where it will end up in most cases - in the trash. This is more of the same from him - designed to divide people."

Is Green planning to challenge his loss?

Congressman Mark Green's been assuring us that his inability to spend about $468,000 in illegal interest money won't hurt his campaign. They have enough to execute the campaign plan, even without that money, he's said repeatedly.

He said it again to WKOW-TV in Madison. But with a twist: Maybe he'll challenge the election results if he loses. Here's the story:

Green said his campaign has not been compromised by his inability to use $468,000 in campaign funds.

The State Elections Board ruled the transfer of the money from Green's congressional campaign warchest to the governor's race was illegal.

The funds came from political action committees not registered in the state of Wisconsin.

The State Supreme Court refused to hear Green's challenge to the ruling before election day.

Green said people have told him it was wrong for his campaign to be denied the money, when at least one previous congressman was allowed to use identical campaign funds in a bid for governor.

"In a strange way, it energized a lot of folks."

Green's attorney has said stripping Green of the ability to use the campaign funds could invalidate the results of the election.

Green declined to comment on whether he would challenge election results if defeated.
Is that why the Greenies have been so anxious to go to court on this issue? Are they trying to build a record so they can challenge the whole election if he loses? Or is he just making sure he has an excuse for his defeat, which seems more likely every day?

The State Supreme Court disapppointed him by putting off a decision until after the election. Or maybe it didn't disappoint him. Maybe that's what Green wanted, and Justice Patrick Crooks helped him get the desired result by voting with the liberals on the court.

And maybe Green's looking for a way to get it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which elected George Bush.

It seems to me that the voters of Wisconsin deserve to know, before the cast their ballots on Tuesday, whether Green is prepared to accept the results.

A "no comment" simply is not adequate.

UPDATE: Green tells AP he won't rule out challenging the results if he loses.

AND ANOTHER. Green lawyer tells WKOW-TV that a lawsuit could ask that Green be awarded the election itself, if he lost the election but won the lawsuit.

Are we as dumb as Rove thinks we are?

Today's NY Times:
Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry -- a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service -- and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, "They must think I’m stupid." Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team's real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry's mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men -- to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld's response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you've got -- get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories -- from "Cobra II" to "Fiasco" to "State of Denial" -- all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we've been making it up -- and paying the price --ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they're fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we're addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing --demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation -- to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century -- to bring out the best in us. His "genius" is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country's health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you're not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has -- through sheer incompetence -- brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq -- and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate -- it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we're as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don't think we're that stupid. Next Tuesday we'll see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Green to Graul: I thought we were surging

"So what's the spin, man? An independent poll by a reliable firm, done for a media outlet, and taken the last three days, has Doyle 6 points up? What does Zogby say about this?"

"Not to worry. We'll keep it out of the newspaper."

UPDATE: "I thought you said you'd get the story spiked. I read in the Journal Sentinel this morning that Doyle's 6 points ahead."

"If you did, it's because you read down to the 16th paragraph of a story that starts with how much people are giving to the lieutenant governor's race. Don't worry, no one will know."

'Shut up, or I'll sue your butts off'

Another day, another setback for the litigious team of Tom Reynolds-Bob Dohnal-J.J. Blonien, whose favorite campaign technique is to file complaints and threaten lawsuits against anyone who takes Reynolds' name in vain.

Dohnal, who publishes something called the Wisconsin Conservative Digest and picks fights on Reynolds' behalf, was frothing at the mouth last week about how the DA had found statements about Reynolds to be untrue and defamatory, and making threats about suing people's asses off.

Am I exaggerating? Here's a Dohnal e-mail. You be the judge:
The DA has ruled that the group, Building Wisconsin's Future was lying when they claimed that Sen. Tom Reynolds was using campaign money to heat his home or pay utilities as Gretchen Schuldt claimed. She started this whole smear campaign.

Let this be a warning to bloggers. You cannot say anything that you want on blogs. Your are subject to the same rules of libel and truth that prevail for other public discourse.

At present it is being determined what Building Wisconsin's Future is going to do but in the meantime they have pulled their ads.

At first I had blamed WEAC, but found that not to be true and immediately retracted and apologized. People, no matter who they are should not be subject to scurrilous lies.

Special note to Christofferson, Gretchen Schuldt and Jim Mcguign (sic). If you call Tom Reynolds and immediately apologize, run some tv ads to make up for the false material that you were propagating and apologize to the people in the 5th senate district he will probably forgive you. Tom Reynolds is a very nice and caring person. I am not.

I am tired of these sleazy charges being leveled against good people, conservatives who are friends of mine. If you do that you will face me and my bank of attorneys in court.

I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years hunting for trophies and have them over my fireplace. I would really like to add the butts of Gretchen Schuldt, Bill Christofferson and Jim McGuigan.

Bloggers bewares (sic), check your facts, tell the truth, drop the silly name calling and work to improve the debate. Bloggers can reach a place in the political discourse that is worth while. Otherwise bet (sic) to shut up.

Bob Dohnal, Publisher
Various newspapers
Ok, let's check a few facts.

The DA's office issued a letter today about a complaint against the State Senate Democratic Committee, which had produced a piece of literature repeating the charge about the utility bills. Reynolds had filed similar complaints against Building Wisconsin's Future, an independent group which ran some ads on the subject. Since it was the same issue, I assume the findings were consistent.

First of all, the DA's letter does not say anybody was lying. The DA's office did an investigation and concluded that the claim that Reynolds paid his home utility bills with the campaign checkbook was not accurate.

If you read the letter, you'll see the assistant DA who wrote it also said it was easy to understand why someone would make that claim -- because Reynolds' own campaign finance reports make it appear that's what was happening.

So, no intentional spreading of false information. An innocent mistake, caused by Reynolds' own sloppy reporting.

Another fact check: Building Wisconsin's Future didn't pull its ad. It had run its course, and the television buy was over. Dohnal says it "is being determined" what the group will do. I'm betting on nothing, considering the last sentence of the letter from the DA's office. It basically says it would be nice if the Senate Democratic Committee wrote a letter saying it's sorry, but the DA has no way to make that happen.

There's always that Dohnal lawsuit to see if he can put some butts over the mantle. Is it a little intimidating? That's what he wants it to be. And it can be a little scary when you're dealing with a fruitcake who talks so tough. He sounds like a road rage candidate who just might show up at your door with a gun instead of a subpoena. Apparently that's an occupational hazard if you're a blogger.

Dohnal might be better off just to find another hobby. You know how conservatives hate frivolous lawsuits.

UPDATE: Gretchen Schuldt has a few more questions about those Reynolds finance reports.

UPDATE 2: The SSDC has some questions, too.

Nastygram on gay marriage

You may have heard or read about the campaign treasurer for a Republican Assembly candidate in Oshkosh who resigned over the negative campaign being run against the Democrat, Gordon Hintz.

Here is the lie-filled, mean-spirited piece of mail that triggered it.

The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported:
Republican Assembly candidate Julie Pung Leschke's campaign treasurer has resigned, citing her discomfort with the flow of outside money and negative ads from interest groups in the campaign for the 54th Assembly District.

"I'm not resigning to try to hurt Julie, I'm resigning to make a statement about how nasty this process is. I think voters deserve better than that," former treasurer Robin Makar said.

Makar said she resigned quietly last week but decided on Monday to resign publicly after a mailer came out from Wisconsin Family Action suggesting that the election of Pung Leschke's opponent, Democrat Gordon Hintz, would open the door to the legalization of gay marriage in Wisconsin.

"I saw that postcard and it was just a lie. I saw that it was such a political ploy not just to damage Gordon and damage this amendment -- that is really near to my heart, I so believe it's wrong," Makar said. "The combination of two things, being such a lie and it being about something I feel so strongly about, I can't be quiet about stepping away from this."
Wisconsin Family Action is the lobbying arm of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, the group leading the charge for passage of the anti-gay amendment. Its leader, Juliane Appling, has warned that if the amendment doesn't pass we'll soon be legalizing polygamy and God only knows what else. If you listen to hear, and read the piece of mail from her group, you wouldn't know that marriage in Wisconsin is already limited to one man and one woman -- or that there is a far-reaching second sentence on civil unions that could do far more damage than any liberal activist judge. Now the group is not only misleading voters about the amendment, but trying to use it to defeat candidates who oppose it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another Blonien lie exposed

One more of the wild charges thrown about by State Senator Tom Reynolds demented "brain trust" bites the dust before the election. JS Daywatch:

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1, 2006, 1:36 p.m.
By Annysa Johnson

Tosa clerk cleared in voting probe
An allegation that Wauwatosa Clerk Carla Ledesma illegally altered a voting record on behalf of city alderman and 5th District Senate candidate Jim Sullivan has been rejected by the Milwaukee County district attorney's office as unfounded.

Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said in a report released this week that no charges would be filed against Ledesma, who'd been accused by incumbent Sen. Tom Reynolds' campaign of falsifying city records to refute an allegation that Sullivan had voted twice in the September 1998 election...

Reynolds campaign manager Jerome J. (J.J.) Blonien of Milwaukee, who filed the complaint, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. [JJ at a loss for words?]...

In the 17-page report on the probe, Landgraf said Sullivan did not vote in Wauwatosa in 1998, that Ledesma was within her powers as city clerk to amend his voting record, and that there was "no credible evidence" to suggest that Ledesma falsely certified the poll book page that shows Sullivan did not vote in that election.

It is the second time in six years that Sullivan has been cleared by the DA's office on allegations of double voting in prior elections. The allegations were first circulated by detractors in his 2000 bid for his Wauwatosa aldermanic seat.

Quote, unquote

"I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
-- Sen. John Kerry's prepared remarks, which he stumbled over and blew.

Kerry has apologized. When will George Bush apologize for the lives he's ruined?

UPDATE: Mike Plaisted says the willingness of local right-wing talk show hosts and politicos to blindly follow the White House lead and spend three days on Kerry may have locked up the state races for the Democrats. Link.

-- Cartoon by Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Dog bites man

A reader asks: How did Doyle lose this endorsement?
Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Wisconsin: Mark Green Is Latinos' Choice for Governor of Wisconsin
The mission of the RNHA is to build a membership organization to foster the principles of the Republican Party in the Latino community; to provide Latino Americans with a forum to play an influential role in local, state, and national Party activities; to increase the number of Latino Republican elected officials; and to create and maintain a network of Latino Republican leaders.

Mum's the word for TT on marriage amendment

At Caffeinated Politics, Deke Rivers wonders why Tommy Thompson hasn't joined the other former govs, from both parties, and Tommy's brother Ed, to oppose the gay discriminatioin amendment to the state constitution.

Ed, you'll recall, said he couldn't support Mark Green because of Green's support for the amendment. But Tommy's all over the Green campaign, even pretending Green supports stem cell research," when what he supports is highly limited and qualified.

The questioner correctly answers his own question:

So where is Tommy Thompson on the issue? Why is he afraid to join with his fellow Governors on both sides of the political aisle and forcefully reject this amendment? Could it be that he is thinking about running for President, and is afraid to upset the conservative right wing by doing the correct thing and calling the amendment just plain hateful?

But will he beat anyone up?

Steve King, the guy who tried to save John and Martha Mitchell's marriage during Watergate -- Martha said by roughing her up to keep her off the phone and away from reporters -- is now trying to save ours:
Conservative group gives $385,000 to support gay marriage ban

RYAN J. FOLEY
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - A group headed by the former chairman of the state Republican Party has given $385,000 to the campaign for a ban on gay marriage and civil unions, records show.

The money from Middleton-based Coalition for America's Families will help fund television advertisements meant to bolster conservative turnout on Nov. 7. A large Republican turnout also could effect the campaigns for governor and a key congressional seat in northeastern Wisconsin.

Coalition for America's Families has been running ads attacking Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle for more than one year. It made the donation to Vote Yes for Marriage on Oct. 26, according to records filed the next day with the state Elections Board.

Vote Yes for Marriage in turn has booked at least $266,000 in television advertisements in the Milwaukee and Green Bay markets to try to sway voters in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.

The group released its first ad Monday. The spot depicts a future in which children are taught that gay marriage is appropriate.

"Marriage means a man and a woman," a narrator says. "Vote yes to keep it that way."

The amendment would add two sentences to the Wisconsin Constitution declaring that marriage is between one man and one woman and the state would not recognize similar relationships among unmarried individuals, such as civil unions.

Coalition for America's Families, headed by former GOP chairman Steve King, does not have to disclose its donors and can accept unlimited contributions. It attacked Doyle in a television ad last year for supporting domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian state employees.
Isn't that sweet of him?

Harley roaring under Doyle

The AP report on a Tommy Thompson-Mark Green rally in Milwaukee includes these lines:
"Under Green, you'll see the eagles soaring, the (Green Bay) Packers scoring and the Harleys roaring." [Tommy Thompson, of course.]

Green said he wants to return Wisconsin to the prosperity it enjoyed under Thompson.

"I hear companies like Harley-Davidson and Menard's saying it's too expensive to do business in Wisconsin," Green said. "There's no excuse for letting them create jobs elsewhere."
It's tough times at Harley, all right. You can hear them crying all the way to the bank. The most recent report:
Forbes.com Market Scan

Harley-Davidson Dazzles Wall Street
By Tom Van Riper, 10-12-06

When Harley-Davidson beefs up its engines, its loyal customers waste no time hopping on.

The motorcycle maker dazzled Wall Street today by announcing record third-quarter sales and profits, a results some analysts attributed to a more powerful new engine the company installed into several of its models.

"If you've ever been to Sturgis, you know torque and power is a big deal to these guys," said William Blair & Co. analyst Bob Simonson, speaking of the South Dakota town famous for its annual motorcycle rally.

Harley-Davidson (nyse: HOG) said profit rose to $1.20 per share for the July-through-September quarter from 96 cents a year ago, on record revenue of $1.64 billion. Analysts had expected $1.10 a share in profit on $1.58 billion in revenue. The Milwaukee-based company also said worldwide motorcycle sales improved 9% for the first nine months of the year over 2005.

Lesser contributions to the strong quarter came from a 16% rise in revenue from the company's financial services unit, which makes up approximately 3.3% of the company's business, plus the repurchase of 17.2 million shares.

Management was quick to credit the July introduction of four new 2007 bike models - two new VRSC models, the FXSTC Softail Custom, and a Limited Addition 50th anniversary Sportster - with the big sales push during the quarter.

"With four new models and an all-new Twin Cam 96TM engine with 6-speed transmission on Big Twin motorcycles, the 2007 model line has been a big hit with customers,” said CEO Jim Ziemer. The company predicted its rekindles lineup would yield 11% to 17% profit growth through 2009...
Maybe Congressman Green would like to be a little more specific and tell us who's complaining???

Green: Pass amendment, then ignore it

Congressman Mark Green talking out of both sides of his mouth? Wanting to have it both ways on the amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions?

Shocking? No, just par for the course the way Green plays politics.

One Wisconsin Now has the goods.

If you agree with Mark Green, vote no.

UPDATE: A reader says there's another question we should ask Mark Green: what other sentences of the state constitution do you plan to ignore if you are elected Governor?

Judge deeds, not words

Would a guy who's surging in the gov's race and says he's now ahead run a commercial attacking Jim Doyle on a position he took on a crime bill 12 years ago?

Despite the Greenies' brave talk, they obviously don't believe Mr. Zogby either.

File under D, for Duh

HEADLINE: Abortion Ad Targets Women Voters
Story.

Missing the big news

Front page political coverage by the Journal Sentinel focused on the gov's race and rallies with Obama and Tommy T.

And it managed to work in the "fact" that the race is tightening, and cite the highly dubious Zogby poll that shows Mark Green up by .5% (yes, that's point five per cent. These Internet polls are precise.)

But in all this fuss over the gov's race, they missed the big story. Senator Herb Kohl is under 50 per cent of the vote, just like Mark Green and Jim Doyle. So, as the paper said about the gov's race, that will make the undecideds very important in the final days.

Don't believe Herb, who's the state's most popular politician in every poll I've ever seen, is under 50%?

That news comes from a highly credible source -- the Zogby poll, of course.

Mike Plaisted has some observations about the coverage, and who decides Tommy Thompson gets top billing over Barack Obama.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bill Clinton coming for free Milwaukee rally

Bill Clinton's coming to Milwaukee on Friday, and you can forget the $500 ticket. It won't even cost you 5 bucks. Details:
Bill Clinton to Rally Voters in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE - President Bill Clinton will rally voters to elect Democrats at a public event on Friday, November 3 in downtown Milwaukee. The rally will be held at the Milwaukee Theatre at 500 W. Kilbourn Ave. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Governor Jim Doyle, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Falk, and other Democratic candidates will all be there.

Call 1-877-646-2006 or click this link to RSVP.
Note that it does not say what time he's coming. Plan to be there awhile.


-- Working for Change. (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Did Green unspend his $467,000?

Bruce Murphy of Milwaukee Magazine has spotted a slight contradiction in Congressman Mark Green's description of just where that $467,000 in illegal special interest money resides:
In a Sunday story, Mark Green told the media he planned to finish his campaign without spending the $467,844 in federal campaign funds he transferred to his campaign. Both the state Elections Board and a Dane County judge ruled that the transfer of funds was illegal; Green wants the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

It sounds very upright that Green won’t spend this money. But on August 30, after the Elections Board made its ruling, his campaign spokesperson, Mark Graul, told the press that the $467,844 had already been spent. So what are we supposed to believe at this point?
Murphy says Green did the same shuffle with money from Tom DeLay.

Zounds! Zogby off again

There's a new Zogby poll that says the governor's race is tied - or, if you listen to the Green campaign, that Mark Green "leads" by one half per cent.

That's some pretty precise polling from a firm that doesn't even do interviews with voters, but uses an automated survey. [Correction: It's an interactive Internet survey. See below. I knew better but was too hurried.]

Before anybody gets too excited, consider this: The same poll has Herb Kohl leading Robert Gerald Lorge by 9%.

Anybody want to put some money down with that point spread?

Zogby had Doyle in a dead heat way back in November 2005 against either Green or Scott Walker(remember him?).

Ask President Kerry about Zogby.


From the Oldies but Goodies Xoff Files:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Poll shows tight governor's race --
and John Kerry beating George Bush


I said here recently that my money is on Jim Doyle to win reelection in 2006, but I am not giving any points. I expect it to be a tight race, as his last race and the last two presidential races have been in Wisconsin.

A new Zogby poll bears that out, showing Doyle in a virtual dead heat with either Mark Green or Scott Walker.

Whenever I post poll results that support my position or opinion, my faithful right-wing readers pick it to pieces, nitpicking the methodology and conclusions. One even suggested recently that no sample of less than 1,000 people was meaningful statewide, forcing me to point out that 1,000 -- not 50,000 -- is a typical sample for a national poll. (Statewide are usually 400-600.)

So I won't go into detail about Zogby's methodology, which you can read about here. I will note, however, that Zogby uses a new technique of inter-active online polling and actually does only 20-40 telephone calls in each state. And many who participate in the surveys are "regulars" who do it all the time. All of that's a little troubling, and the jury is still out on its accuracy.

So before the Republicans get too gleeful, they might want to take into account a scene in the new documentary of the 2004 Kerry campaign, "Inside the Bubble." Zogby's Soundbites blog reports:

It features, among other not-ready-for-prime-time moments ... Kerry message guru Robert Shrum confidently declaring a few days before the 2004 election: "Zogby [a prominent pollster] just announced who's gonna win. Us!"

POSTSCRIPT: Forgot to mention the Senate race, which has Herb Kohl one point ahead of Tommy Thompson (a non-candidate, unless he is unhappy with how much ink he's getting lately) and 8 points up on former Rep. Mark Neumann (is he even thinking about running?)

Scooter Jensen: Still a player

Not only is he not in jail where he belongs, but former Assembly Speaker and convicted felon Scott Jensen is helping to fund legislative campaigns. One Wisconsin Now reports.

The second shoe

Jim Doyle gets both Madison papers, a rare feat. Today's Capital Times:
Editorial: Doyle for governor

Over the past four years, no governor in the United States has more consistently and effectively challenged the agenda of the Bush administration, its congressional allies and their amen corner in the state legislatures than Wisconsin's Jim Doyle.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress began to erect barriers to meaningful stem cell research, Doyle developed a $750 million strategy to ensure that Wisconsin would continue to lead not only in stem cell research, but biotechnology, biomedical and health sciences research.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress sold out prescription drug policy to the big pharmaceutical companies, Doyle established a pioneering Web site to help Wisconsinites learn how to fill their prescriptions through Canadian pharmacies safely and at a fraction of the cost.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress sold out energy policy to the big oil companies, Doyle doubled Wisconsin's commitment to heating assistance for low-income families and took steps to make tens of thousands of additional families eligible for state aid to help pay skyrocketing home heating bills.

When the Bush administration and its allies in Congress refused to increase the minimum wage, Doyle overcame legislative opposition and hiked Wisconsin wages.

When Republican legislators attempted to undermine grass-roots democracy in Wisconsin by dramatically restricting the ability of local elected officials to create budgets designed to meet the needs of their communities, Doyle vetoed the measure.

When Republican legislators sought to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling protecting rights of victims of corporate wrongdoing to seek fair compensation for their pain and suffering, Doyle vetoed the legislation.

When Republican and Democratic legislators voted for a mean-spirited "marriage" bill that was designed to exploit stereotypes and enshrine discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and families, Doyle vetoed the bill.

When Republican and Democratic legislators voted for legislation that would have made it possible to carry concealed weapons into public spaces despite the fact that the legislation was opposed by public safety, domestic violence and community groups across the state Doyle vetoed the proposed law.

Reading a list like this one makes it sound like Doyle has been a perfect governor. Unfortunately, that's not the case. As readers of this newspaper know, we have disagreed bitterly with his moves on tax policy and business regulation.

We think he should be far more supportive of Wisconsin's best-in-the-nation state employees. And we fear that he has taken too many bad lessons on ethics and campaign finance from one of his predecessors, Tommy Thompson. On many of these issues, we like what Green Party nominee Nelson Eisman has to say.

But the close race for governor is not between Doyle and Eisman. It is between Doyle and U.S. Rep. Mark Green, a Green Bay Republican who gave unquestioning support to the Bush administration on every one of the issues listed above and who would have signed every piece of legislation that Doyle vetoed.

The choice is a stark one. And, as such, it is easily made.

Voting to re-elect Jim Doyle as governor is not merely the wise choice. It is essential if Wisconsin is to resist the most dangerous policies of the Republican right, which neither understands nor respects Wisconsin values.

Live from Wisconsin: American Halloween

Family ties demand that I plug this, since our son is a field producer for the G4 network and is working on this extravaganza which takes place tonight, live from Menomonee Falls.

Mark and Mike of "American Movie" fame will be hosting Halloween from their lawn in Menomonee Falls. They will be grilling out polish sausages, talking with locals, dealing with zombies, and at the same time, trying to create the first ever 5 minute live horror film.

Everyone is invited.

If you can't go, at least visit the website and check out the outtakes of the promos, which are hilarious. The official scoop:
Here's your big chance to be on live TV.
The date: Tuesday, October 31
The Times: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. LIVE!
The location: The House
N57W15940 Bette Dr
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Parking: The actual block that the house is on will be closed off to traffic, but parking is available on any of the adjacent streets! DJ's Bar & Grill and Karl's Country Market are also approved parking locations.

The cost: Free.

Food: Mark and Mike will be handing out polish sausages to the crowd. (Some Wisconsin Halloween tradition?)

Requests: Please dress in costume! If you would like to be a zombie in Mark's live movie, please dress as a zombie!!

Should be a great time! We look forward to seeing you!

The G4 Staff.
In Milwaukee, G4 is on Time Warner, Channel 149, if you want to watch live from your home, which is probably the option I will choose.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One more personal reason to vote no

I've known Bill Hetland, one half of the couple featured in this column, for almost 40 years. I knew him as a talented journalist who revitalized a lot of smaller daily newspapers in his travels around the Midwest; he's since had a career change. I've only met Phil Anderson, his partner, in the last six months. They have one of the most caring relationships I've ever seen.

Anyway, this is one of 100 reasons I am voting no on the gay marriage/civil union amendment:
Staying together 18 years is about mutual commitment, not sex

By Bill Guida
Columnist
Kenosha News
Published Sunday/Oct. 14, 2006

Bill Hetland's dedication, devotion and commitment to Phil Anderson, his life partner the past 18 years, was immediately familiar.

Meeting them as a couple for the first time, I find myself comparing their home life to that of my late parents after most of my eight siblings and I'd grown and gone.

From the time a massive stroke totally paralyzed Ma on her left side at 54, Pa tended to her every need for 16 years, bathing her, assisting with her other bathroom needs, cooking, cleaning house, doing the wash and the ironing.

Phil, 51, barely survived a car wreck in 2001 that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The next year a stroke further affected his left side, his speech and vision.

Three years ago, when the couple celebrated their 15th anniversary together, Bill presented Phil a "Certificate of Survival."

It's a tribute for enduring femur reconstruction, nine broken ribs, back, lung and gall bladder surgery, severe bladder and urinary tract infections, a debilitating stroke, excruciating chronic pain and two major seizures.

As we talk, Boss, their golden retriever/chow/Australian shepherd mix, comfortably sprawls atop Phil's lifeless legs in the hospital bed where Phil stares reflectively at the ceiling between engaging a visitor in conversation and puffing the Pall Mall cigarettes he chain smokes.

Weekdays, he spends half the day in the sunroom of their modest Sheridan Road bungalow where he can look out on traffic and nearby houses after Bill has gone to work and the caregiver who assists Phil each morning has left for the day.

Bottles of Phil's prescription pills crowd a shelf across the small room.

A VA records clerk before his crash, Phil was the one who worked on the house, wrenched the car, did the yard work and fixed things. Bill, by his own admission, is "a klutz with tools."

They met by chance in 1987 when Phil was celebrating his 31st birthday in Wausau. For Bill, it was love at first sight. But Phil was ending a relationship that had soured, and they didn’t become a couple until 1988.

"We just hit if off," Bill says. "I thought he was a nice, kind, caring person."

Reflecting on the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, he adds: "It just enrages me when I hear people say couples like us are a threat to the sanctity of marriage.

"If people got a chance to meet individuals like us, I think it would change a lot of minds. Twenty-five years from now those (pushing for the amendment) are going to look back and be ashamed."

Bill served with the Army in Vietnam. Phil was trained as a Marine sniper. Both have honorable discharges.

Yet they fear being denied benefits given to other veterans and their spouses, like the right to be buried together in a VA cemetery or housed together in a VA assisted-living residence should either or both of them need it someday.

Bill says including a ban on civil unions could permanently prevent transferring "spousal" benefits, a move he sees as mean-spirited and vindictive.

Phil worries passage will someday force them to separate.

"If it wasn't for Bill, I'd be alone. I would have nobody. I wouldn't have a partner," he says, his emotions welling, eyes pleading. "I wouldn't be able to cope. I'm also a lover, and I need that companionship. I wouldn't have that love."

Bill quietly echoes his partner.

"It would be a life without the person who's most important to me," he says. "I've loved him since we first met, and that hasn't changed. It would be devastating not to have him around."

Now, whenever I do a column of this nature, I get responses lecturing that marriage between one man and one woman is based on properly aligned "plumbing."

Only, replace the images of Bill and Phil with your parents, grandparents, yourself and your wife, husband, girl- or boyfriend.

Ban proponents frequently cite Old Testament proscriptions barring male-to-male and female-to-female sex as an "abomination," but Bill and Phil say that misses the point.

Because of Phil's injuries, they haven't shared a bed in over five years.

Not having that intimacy hurts, but they say sex has less to do with their relationship than the need for mutual love and affection.

Says Phil, "I can sleep alone at night because I know my love is upstairs sleeping, and, in time, he will return downstairs to take care of me."

AG JB? That would be a crime

Can't take credit for this video, and don't know who did it, but enjoy.

UPDATE: I'm told the video is from Matthew and Peter Slutsky of DoubleSpeak

Their website describes what they do as an online radio show. They say: "This show aims to penetrate through the Republican noise machine and give the Democrats a forum that will resonate with the American people."

The website covers their road trip across the country in a minivan speaking with politicians and others, and includes Wisconsin visits with Russ Feingold and Kathleen Falk.

I supported it for a minute ...

An Xoff correspondent sent this from Saturday's Journal Sentinel, with a comment:
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green on Friday continued to try to defuse stem cell research as a campaign issue, saying he supports 'all the research that's taking place in Madison - all of it.'

"Later, however, Green said he wasn't aware of new, privately funded research in Madison that destroys human embryos, and said he doesn't support that."
This is a stunning admission on Green's part -- he took a position before he had made ANY inquiry on the scope of the activity being undertaken by UW professors and researchers!

Maybe he should be auditioning for Saturday Night Live -- "What's all this I hear about stem cell research? Oh -- never mind!"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

First shoe drops for Doyle

In Madison, where the State Journal and Capital Times have spent decades smiping at each other and taking opposite sides on almost every issue, people take notice on the rare occasions when a political candidate is endorsed by both papers.

Here's the first:
State better off with Doyle

A Wisconsin State Journal editorial, Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wisconsin is better off than it was four years ago.

That's a simple yet powerful reason for re-electing Gov. Jim Doyle to a second term.

Doyle, a Democrat, deserves a measure of credit for Wisconsin's progress in economic development, education and health care.

Doyle inherited a record state budget deficit and sluggish economy when he took office in January 2003. He also faced a hostile Republican-run Legislature and an entrenched state bureaucracy wary of change and reductions.

State government still has significant money problems. Yet Doyle has responsibly made difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions to help the state improve and prosper.

Just weeks into the job, Doyle proposed eliminating thousands of state government jobs. He called for a virtual freeze in general spending and a smaller percentage of aid to public schools. The painful and dramatic actions were needed to balance the state's books.

By his second budget, Doyle managed to restore the state's commitment to paying for two- thirds of school costs. And at the Legislature's urging, he adopted spending limits on local governments to ease property taxes.

Significantly, Doyle kept his promise not to raise taxes. Instead, working with the Legislature, he eliminated a tax that had punished multi-state businesses for creating jobs in Wisconsin.

Doyle has made decisions in a fair-minded way -- often disappointing the fringes of both major political parties.

For example, Doyle and the Legislature improved regulatory flexibility for the benefit of businesses and the environment. Doyle signed a reasonable cap on medical malpractice awards. In a bipartisan fashion, he helped ensure that the General Motors plant in Janesville stayed put.

Doyle has traveled with Wisconsin business leaders around the world to boost state exports. He supports ethanol to help farmers. And he is a champion of high technology, including embryonic stem cell research at UW-Madison.

Since Doyle's election four years ago, Wisconsin has gained more than 90,000 jobs, when seasonally adjusted. The state's per-capita income is rising. The vast majority of workers and more children in Wisconsin have health insurance.

Doyle's opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R- Green Bay, has some good ideas. But he has failed to make a compelling case for change at the top.

And while Green is not extreme, the Republican-run Legislature sometimes is.

Doyle stopped the Legislature from putting barriers between patients and the medications their doctors prescribe. Doyle made sure women, including university students, have easy access to birth control. Doyle vetoed legislation that would have allowed concealed handguns in shopping malls, movie theaters and on playgrounds.

The State Journal has certainly disagreed with some of Doyle's decisions, and we reserve the right to disagree with him in the future. Nevertheless, he has the state headed in the right direction. He deserves Wisconsin's support Nov. 7.
That's a surprise. Unless the Cap Times mischievously decides to go Green (party, not candidate), Doyle will get them both. That's usually a harbinger of victory -- not because they have statewide influence (they clearly don't), but because it is a sign that some consensus is emerging among those of very different views.

Tell us how you really feel

Journal Sentinel headline on its editorial on the gay marriage/civil unions amendment:

Overly broad, dangerous, unfair and simply unnecessary

How many more?

Green Bay Press Gazette:
Local Marine killed in Iraq

Zimmerman is area's first war casualty since '04

By Nathan Phelps
Green Bay Press Gazette

People who knew Luke Zimmerman say he was a hard worker, an upstanding individual who always had a smile and had long aspired to be part of the U.S. Marine Corps.

On Friday, friends and family got the news the 24-year-old Marine from the town of Green Bay was killed in Iraq.

Zimmerman, a 2000 Luxemburg-Casco graduate, was a close friend of Steve Metzler and his family. He worked for Metzler and his wife, Julie, who own Julie's Café on Main Street in Green Bay, for four years. They'd also taken him on a family vacation and he was a best friend to Scott and Troy Metzler, two of Steve's sons.

"He was a great friend," said Steve Metzler, who lives in Green Bay. "He was always smiling … the life of the party. He was always upbeat. He was a hard worker and he was a dedicated worker … and he was a man of his word.

"He was a lot of fun, he was a dedicated kid. You couldn't have asked for a nicer guy."

The Department of Defense had not yet given public notification of Zimmerman's death Saturday afternoon. That announcement from the military normally takes a day or two after family is told of the death.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who does she think she is, Scott Jensen?

Different strokes applied to different folks:
Judge says Thompson can't remain free during her appeal

By RYAN J. FOLEY
Associated Press Writer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has denied a former state employee's request to stay out of prison while she appeals her conviction on charges she steered a travel contract to a donor of Gov. Jim Doyle.

In a ruling released Friday, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa said Georgia Thompson hadn't shown that she was likely to have the conviction on two counts of felony fraud overturned or be granted a new trial.

As a result, he upheld his earlier ruling that she report to prison to begin serving an 18-month sentence on Nov. 27.
And on the other hand:

Jensen to remain free pending appeals;

Ex-lawmaker's case could take two years

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jun 20, 2006

Madison-- A judge ruled Monday that former state Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen won't have to begin serving his 15-month prison sentence until he exhausts the appeals of his conviction for having aides campaign on state time.

The Town of Brookfield Republican will not have to start his prison sentence on July 15 as originally ordered and instead can remain free on a $10,000 bond, said Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ebert.

The appeals process could take up to two years.

Ebert noted that he remains convinced a jury was correct in convicting Jensen earlier this year of three felonies and one misdemeanor. But the judge said he recognized that if Jensen ultimately wins his appeal, time spent in prison "cannot be returned" to him.

Of course, if Georgia Thompson wins her appeal the time she spends in prison will be returned to her, apparently.

Quote, unquote

"We're going to have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a Republican governor in the state of Wisconsin..."
-- Karl Rove, in Waukesha. Let's play this one back in 10 days.

Representation without representation

Here are some excerpts from a letter to the editor of the Capital Times. Eugene Hahn, I regret to say, is the incumbent Republican state rep in Columbia and Sauk Counties:
Dear Editor:

When asked in last week's Lodi candidate forum to provide views on stem cell research, Eugene Hahn stated several times that he didn't know much about stem cell research, adding: "When I'm not certain, it's better to vote no." Meagan Yost [his Dem opponent] countered: "I'm an advocate of finding out the information before you vote, not after you vote."

... Hahn then pleaded a case against "gay marriage," ending with: "I think a civil union will probably be a better solution." Meagan Yost had to point out to Hahn that the proposed constitutional amendment would also ban civil unions...

Eugene Hahn helped block a vote on a Republican-sponsored ethics bill, then sent us all that glossy campaign piece: "Gene has worked hard to reform the way things are done in Madison." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in a Sept. 24 top-of-the fold expose, quoted Hahn as saying he would leave making changes to others: "We need something, and I haven't got the vision to see how this thing goes." ...
Steve Braker
Poynette
Hat tip: My old comrade, Fighting Ed.

Just wondering

Does this look presidential to you?

Friday, October 27, 2006

GOP suppression drive paying off?

It appears the concerted Republican effort over the last several years (some would say decades) to intimidate minority voters or put up barriers to keep them from the polls is beginning to pay off. The NY Times:
Democrats' worries are backed up by a Pew Research Center report that found that blacks were twice as likely now than they were in 2004 to say they had little or no confidence in the voting system, rising to 29 percent from 15 percent.

And more than three times as many blacks as whites -- 29 percent versus 8 percent --say they do not believe that their vote will be accurately tallied.

Voting experts say the disillusionment is the cumulative effect of election problems in 2000 and 2004, and a reaction to new identification and voter registration laws.

Long lines and shortages of poll workers in lower-income neighborhoods in the 2004 election and widespread reports of fliers with misinformation appearing in minority areas have also had a corrosive effect on confidence, experts say.
Every one of those tactics and problems has been evidenced in Milwaukee. And the right-wing keeps up the pressure to make it even harder to vote. Eventually, if not this year, the GOP will win some close elections it should have lost because of its success at keeping minorities away from the polls. That's what the phony voting fraud charges and calls for photo IDs are all about, pure and simple.

Quote, unquote

"They take a prominent Republican and use that as a means to try and make mainstream conservative Republicans like myself look out of the mainstream."
-- "Mainstream" GOP State Sen. Tom Reynolds, after prominent GOPers Frank Urban and Kate Bloomberg endorsed his Democratic opponent, Jim Sullivan.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Obama a rock star at 9 a.m.?


I know Sen. Barack Obama has rock star status among Dems right now, but this set me back: Too many people coming to accommodate at Turner Hall? At 9 in the morning? On Halloween?

Rock on, Senator:

Due to the overwhelming response, we have moved the Barack Obama rally to a new location:

PERE MARQUETTE PARK

Join U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Governor Jim Doyle, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, and Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Falk for a rally in Milwaukee on October 31 at 9:00 a.m. at the Pere Marquette Park.

Call 1-877-646-2006 or click the link below to RSVP today:

Obama event.

Senator Obama will talk about what's at stake in the November elections and rally voters to turn out for Democratic candidates on November 7. Senator Obama has dedicated his life to public service as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and leader in the Illinois State Senate. And now, Senator Obama continues his fight for working families in the U.S. Senate.

Join Senator Barack Obama as Wisconsin Democrats rally to victory on November 7!

Quote, unquote

"You know your opponent is scared when his main opposition against you is, 'My opponent likes girls.'"
-- Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., in response to a racially-charged Republican TV spot in his Senate race.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Won't Cindy make the wingnuts wiggy?

I don't know if this has been announced yet; I haven't seen anything in the media.

Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan, the woman who ruined George Bush's three-month summer vacation, will be in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 4, for a Bring the Troops Home rally.

That should give McSykes and their army of sycophants enough material to be outraged for at least a week. Extra blood pressure meds all around. The McCarthyites will be in full bloom, finding communist links everywhere they turn. It should be quite a fun week. Hope Charlie, Jessica & Co. don't blow a gasket. (Actually, I kinda hope they do.)

Milwaukee is one of the communities with a referendum on the Iraq War on the November 7 ballot, and Cindy Sheehan is no doubt coming to crank up the troops -- the antiwar troops, that is.

The rally, organized by Peace Action Wisconsin and sponsored by a broad coalition of peace organizations, will run from 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 4 at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, in the heart of downtown Milwaukee.

Y'all come.

Some guys are just hard to please


The WashPost:
Bush Is Reassuring on Iraq But Says He's 'Not Satisfied'
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 26, 2006; Page A01

President Bush declared yesterday that the United States is winning the war in Iraq despite the deadliest month for U.S. troops in a year, but he added that he is not satisfied with the situation and vowed to press Iraqi leaders to do more to stabilize their country on their own.
Man, what does it take to satisfy that guy, anyway? We won the war three years ago, as I recall.


-- Scott Stantis, Birmingham News, via Cagle.

Red state, blue state, purple rage

Jim Hightower's been roaming the country, promoting lefty causes and candidates, and checks in with what he's observed. His AlterNet column even has a Wisconsin angle, with a Fighting Bob Fest reference.

His conclusion:
The people of America are soooooo much bigger than the politics that are being served up to us by the elites. I find that people everywhere are fed up with the red-state/blue-state hokum that passes for political discourse in our country, and they're in something of a purple rage about the system's abject failure to address the BIG matters that are on people's minds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How low can you go? Rush sets the standard

David Montgomery in WashPost:

Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity.

To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele in a Maryland U.S. Senate race.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act....This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Limbaugh was reacting to Fox's appearance in another one of the spots, one for Democratic Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill against Republican James M. Talent.

But the Cardin ad is similar. It is hard to watch, unless, for some reason, you don't believe it. As he speaks, Fox's restless torso weaves and writhes in a private dance. His head bobs from side to side, almost leaving the picture frame.

"This is the only time I've ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has," Limbaugh said. "He can barely control himself."

Later Monday, still on the air, Limbaugh would apologize, but reaction to his statements from Parkinson's experts and Fox's supporters was swift and angry.

"It's a shameless statement," John Rogers said yesterday. Rogers, Fox's political advisor who also serves on the board of the Parkinson's Action Network in Washington, added: "It's insulting. It's appallingly sad, at best."

"Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," said Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-authored "Parkinson's Disease and the Family." "Any other interpretation is misinformed."
See Fox's similar spot for Gov. Jim Doyle here.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat ass. The Plank.

UPDATE 2: Brew City Brawler says McBride goes even lower.

UPDATE 3: The Recess Supervisor reviews the GOP response ad.

UPDATE 4: Katie Couric on her interview with Michael J. Fox.

Straying from the course

The White House says that not only is "stay the course" not our Iraq strategy, but it never has been.

Think Progress begs to differ.

Quote, unquote

"Wisconsin doesn't need a district attorney; it needs an attorney general, and Falk is the right person for the job."
-- The Appleton Post Crescent, in an endorsement editorial.

An objective source

Jessica McBride has a new litmus test for how you tell if a Democrat is a moderate: You ask a conservative.

If it's Jim Doyle you're asking about, you don't just ask any random conservative. Jessica turns to an objective source -- her husband, Paul Bucher, the failed AG candidate.
SATURDAY, Oct. 21, 2006, 10:55 p.m.
Sunday's slanted stories on the governor's race

In big A-1 Sunday stories, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubs Jim Doyle a moderate and Mark Green a conservative partisan.

This is typical. Liberals are painted as moderates and Republicans as extremists in the MSM (Russ Feingold, for example, always comes across as sort of a maverick Independent in the media). Many reporters are liberal. To them, liberalism is the norm - the sensible middle. They don't see themselves as extremists, so they see other liberals as moderates too.

See, here's the test: A conservative would never consider Doyle a moderate. Just for kicks, I turned to my husband before I wrote this posting and tested my premise. "Do you think Gov. Doyle is a moderate?" I asked. He started laughing. Most conservatives will probably have the same reaction. I know I did.

These two stories have to be read to be believed. If Doyle himself had written them, they couldn't be any better for him. Painting Doyle as a moderate is a MATTER OF OPINION, not objective reporting. Further, why is Doyle not labeled a partisan, but Green is?
Her hubby, of course, is the guy who is investigating whether Doyle "rigged" the Elections Board vote. The Elections Board, Ethics Board and apparently the Dept. of Justice have determined there were no violations, but Bucher is still "investigating" and no doubt will be until after the election, so the GOP can keep claiming Doyle is under investigation.

So, next time she's wondering whether some Republican is a moderate, I assume she'll ask some objective Democrat, like me. Fair's fair. And no, Paul Bucher is not a moderate.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sensenbrenner ponies up 100K to NRCC

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner is making an investment to try to remain a part of the majority in the House. He's like to chair a committee again, no doubt.

The tight-fisted Sensenbrenner has given the National Republican Congressional Committee $100,000. Of course, it's from his campaign account, not his wallet. Still, it's a sign he wants to try to buy a spot in leadership if the Rs happen to prevail.

CQ has the story and list of other big donors. Rep. Paul Ryan, who had $1-million-plus in the bank the last I knew, did not make the list, although he may have given a lesser amount.

Republicans duck women's forum

GOP legislators in the Eau Claire area have found a new excuse to duck forums with their opponents -- claim bias by the sponsors.

This is an even higher standard than the one which suggests that the governor can never meet with anyone who has contributed to his campaign or approve a state contract with any donor, or anyone who might donate later. That's the strangers-only clause.

Now the GOP have combed through their challengers' finance reports to see if any forum sponsors might have given money to a Democrat. Found one. So sorry, no show.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram has the story, and Jody at the Side Street has some words on the GOP girly men.

Piercing the Green-WMC gloom and doom

You wouldn't know it if you listen to Congressman Mark Green or the business groups like WMC that support him, but Wisconsin has done well -- much better than many Midwestern states -- in adding manufacturing jobs under Gov. Jim Doyle.

That doesn't fit the Green-WMC matrix, of course, so they continue to spread gloom and doom. Paul Soglin sets the record straight.

Doyle, Green close on health care? Not hardly

Although I am often accused by the wingnuts of being a complete water carrier for Jim Doyle and the Democrats, I don't think I have ever just printed Dem releases or columns.

Today's the exception.

When I read the Journal Sentinel story claiming that there is little difference between Jim Doyle and Mark Green on health care issues, I was flabbergasted. Health care is actually one of the defining issues in the race, and Green and Doyle are poles apart.

I was going to write about it, but the day is slipping away and I have other fish to fry and dragons to slay.

So I'm going to let Dem Party Chair Joe Wineke say it, with some minor edits in a column the party released today:

... [H]ealth care remains among the top priorities for Wisconsinites across the state...

Over the last four years, Governor Doyle has worked hard to provide access to affordable, quality health care. He has been a leader in allowing the reimportation of safe, affordable prescription drugs from Canada.

He's worked to establish the BadgerRX program and implement BadgerRX Gold, which enable the state of Wisconsin to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices.

He successfully negotiated with the federal government to save SeniorCare from elimination, ensuring lower prescription drug coverage for more than 100,000 Wisconsin seniors.

The Governor is working to expand FamilyCare statewide. The program helps seniors move out of nursing homes and back into their own homes and communities, while still receiving the health care they need.

And Governor Doyle has proposed a plan for the future that would help make health care costs even more affordable for working families. The Governor wants to make health care premiums tax free for all Wisconsinites and make sure every child has health care coverage through his BadgerCare Plus plan. And through his Healthy Wisconsin initiative, the state will continue to help lower health care costs for small employers by 30 percent and work to cut the uninsured rate in half by 2010.

But while Governor Doyle has worked to help Wisconsin families afford the health care they need, Congressman Green has done the opposite in Washington.

Congressman Green has voted to cut nearly $7 billion from Medicaid -- the federal program that thousands of Wisconsin children, seniors, and disabled people rely on for their health care.

He cast the deciding vote on the President's prescription drug program -- a disastrous bill that nearly eliminated SeniorCare, gave away billions to the big drug companies, and contains a massive coverage gap affecting thousands of seniors.

He's voted to prohibit the federal government from negotiating with the drug companies for lower prices.

He has voted against providing greater access to generic prescription drugs, which are just as effective, but are significantly lower in cost.

He's voted against allowing Americans to reimport safe, affordable drugs from Canada.

And Congressman Green has proposed a health care plan that would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts, which would help only the healthiest and wealthiest Wisconsinites, at the expense of Wisconsin's working families.

There couldn't be a sharper distinction between Governor Doyle and Congressman Green on this critical issue. While Governor Doyle has worked hard to ensure middle class and working families receive the health care they need, Congressman Green has voted for the big drug companies at the expense of average Wisconsinites.

There's only one choice for voters who want a Governor committed to providing quality, affordable health care to all Wisconsin citizens -- and that's Governor Jim Doyle.
UPDATE: If I had seen Seth Zlotocha's excellent piece first, I could have saved myself the effort.