Saturday, September 30, 2006

Help A Brother Out

The Observer has the posted agenda for the Planning Commission Meeting Monday night 10/2 and I'm not going to be able to make it.

One of the agenda items is something I have written about before and which troubles me still.

Presentation by staff

Initial discussion by Plan Commission

Public hearing

Final discussion by Plan Commission Motion to recommend to Council the adoption of Ordinance #2006-31 as drafted Zoning code text amendment to allow city planner to review and act on minor site plan amendments

This change puts the power of the Planning Commission in the hands of the City Planner and the City Engineer. Since they both ostensibly work for the Mayor, I'm not sure why the Engineer and the Mayor voted on this the last time it was discussed.

Help me out. Go to the meeting and put in your two cents-worth. Then let me know who voted this time.

Blind Squirrel Finds Acorn

Jessica McBride pegs the reason that budgets never get cut. She wants Scott Walker's axe to spare her favorites.

Someone cares about the programs that governments provide. Even if one person can't see the value of a program there are others who do.

We Saw It Months Ago

Jack Abramoff thought Ken Mehlman was a "Rock Star." Here at The Happy Circumstance we knew that months ago.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Skybox Fun

It looks like Karl Rove knew that Jack Abramoff's associate, Susan Ralston, had access to all the good tickets in Washington.

Who else got his seats from Ms Ralston? Congressman Green's COS and Campaign Manager Mark Graul. That's who.

Innuendo And Out The Other

Jim McGuigan wonders what Family Values really means.

A Quick Poll

What's your favorite line from this story?

1) The older man, a 56-year-old Japanese national, then sat in a seat beside a jockey in his 20s, from Louisville, Ky.,

2) Federal agents questioned two airline passengers Wednesday after a dispute that began when a man sprayed the person sitting next to him with perfume,

3) Before the flight, the older man left his assigned seat and laid down in the aisle.

4) He also asked for a glass of water and poured it on his head,

5) The older man) thought it (the iPod) was not going to be good for the plane ... with all the rules on electronics

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Congressman Green Voted For It Before He Acted Against It

Seth says that the law Mark Green has broken is one that he voted for. Twice. And now claims he's forgotten.

New Hostess For The Carnival

I know. I know.

I've missed a Carnival or three. But you can check out this week's Carnival Of The Badger at Moetro-Belle To Marine. New voices for an old friend.

Why Is This A Surprise?

Nick says that Sykes took a cheap shot at someone at the expense of the truth. I'm shocked.

Monday, September 25, 2006

James Asks The Question That Democrats Haven't

Why doesn't Rep Scott Newcomer live in his district?

The money quote?
Newcomer has been defending himself with an
opinion issued by State Elections Board counsel George Dunst
(who was given
a false timetable by Newcomer). Dunst's opinions have now been overruled so
often the State Elections Board should institute instant replay.

The Cheney/Green Ticket Is Bad For Wisconsin

Mark Green hasn't shown much sensitivity to how voters might feel about his actions. He and his campaign are doing everything they can to keep the "Washington Money" story alive. Every day they come up with some new tone deaf story about why they shouldn't be held to account for money raised outside Wisconsin campaign law. (I know it was raised legally under Federal law. Whether you believe the transfer was flawed or not, you have to agree that he could not have raised that money if he wasn't sucking on the K-Street teat.)

Now he and John Gard are doing everything they can to make sure that when we read our morning paper we are sure to tie them to the sinking administration in Washington. Today Dick Cheney is coming to Milwaukee to thump the tub and make rain fall on the GOP candidates campaigns.

Green's votes last week to support torture and to disenfranchise American citizens show his unwillingness to distance himself from the extremity of his party. Pictures with Shotgun Dick will only cement the relationship in people's minds.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Commit A Subversive Act- Read!

This is the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week. I've provided links to the Top Ten according to the American Library Association. For you overachievers, number 14 on the list of books most often objected to is Captain Underpants.

"Harry Potter" (Series) (J.K. Rowling)
"To Kill a Mockingbird" (Harper Lee)
"The Color Purple" (Alice Walker)
"The Outsiders" (S.E. Hinton)
"Lord of the Flies" (William Golding)
"Of Mice and Men" (John Steinbeck)
"Goosebumps" (Series) (R.L. Stine)
"How to Eat Fried Worms" (Thomas Rockwell)
"The Catcher in the Rye" (J.D. Salinger)
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (Mark Twain)

It Needs To Be Said

Hugo Chavez is a tin-horn South American crank. He poses the same level of threat as the Packer's running game.

Remember when leaders of that stature didn't bother us?

Getting Back To The Good Old Days

Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. ... "And the Union workhouses?" demanded
Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

Do you wonder why our jails are crowded?

A Georgia woman was jailed for 14 months because she was unable to pay her $700 fine.
She served the sentence at Atlanta's Gateway Diversion Center, a halfway house
that allows its inmates out on day-release to work as long as they pay room and
board. Hurley, 45, worked at a restaurant earning $700 a month and was
supposed to pay the fine with that money, according to a petition filed this
week. But monthly bills including a $600 payment to the center and $52 for
transportation left her with only $23.22, out of which she also had to buy soap,
toothpaste and other items.
The story goes on...
Hurley said she paid $7,643 in all but nobody explained why so little of that
money went toward paying off the debt.

Please, Please, Please

Let my obituary have a better headline than this.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Admonition To Bloggers

Read At The Tap for a week. Then explain to me why you aren't linking there.

Headlines this morning?

Satirist Reports Job Getting More Difficult

Wisconsin State Journal Surrenders

Equal Parts Innovative Design and Simply Gross

The Burden Of Free Speech

James reminds us that the motto of The Wisconsin Forum is "Ideas have consequences." In a free society, what are those consequences?

The Wisconsin Forum, which James describes as a "pro-business" group is bringing to Milwaukee Joe Sobran, a conservative columnist, apparently of some reputation. According to Owen's post, Sobran's own press release claims that the windbag Buchanan believes him to be “perhaps the finest columnist of our generation” and that the pornographer Coulter considers him "the master." Those accolades say, perhaps more about Buchanan and Coulter than about Sobran.

What James does say about Sobran shows us something about him (Sobran)
Sobran left National Review after his anti-Semitic views could no longer be
tolerated by the magazine. Since then he has continued to promote his
anti-Semitic views, and has associated with Holocaust deniers.

Sobran is the flip side of Kevin Barrett. A free society has a stake in allowing these fools and worse to say their piece. Government has no place denying them their right to spew bile, venom and filth into our society.

However, the people of a free society has to accept the responsibility of being free. It is up to us to condemn and bullyrag those who foul our society with their nonsense. It is incumbent on a free people to stand up and say, "This shall not pass in our society."

This post has a narrow focus. It is a condemnation of the ideas of Joe Sobran, an anti-Semite who happens to hold conservative views otherwise. It is also a call to action. Look around you. See the filth that passes for commentary, the vituperation and slander that pass for argument. Then stand up and do your duty.

Speak up to the Wisconsin Forum. Speak, as the saying goes, truth to power. Do something.

You can't sit idly by and expect someone else to make this a better country or a better world. That's up to us.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Unclear On The Concept- Bad Crooks At Work

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Shylo Kujawski -- who has "Grand Theft
Auto" prominently tattooed on his back -- was spotted acting suspiciously in a
Vancouver suburb where several stolen cars had been reported.

Reuters has the rest.

In other car theft news. It takes a village to help a 14 year-old steal a car.

The Power Of Blue

Evansville is proud and it's time to let everybody know it.

The football team is ranked #1 in Division 4. That's good. 29-1 in the conference over the last four years and 42-8 overall.

The Boy's Soccer program is getting better all the time and is a power with which to be reckoned. That's great.

But the girls...the girls...Coach Quentin Yoerger's Blue Devils haven't lost in a dual meet in nine years. Nine years? That's truly incredible.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Buying A Cart Before We've Replaced The Horse

The Observer has the skinny on a proposal to have a "go-to" person for economic development in Evansville. I'd be happy if we had a grip on hiring a new City Administrator.

It's All About The Timing

There was a time when I thought we were lucky in Rock County to have two viable candidates for Sherriff.

If Scott Wasemiller does nothing to distance himself from the uproar about the current Sherriff I will consider us less lucky.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blogging Activity Or Lack Thereof

Let's just say that I am less than thrilled with my ISP right now. If I hear, "Well, there shouldn't be a problem with that," I will probably start yelling.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's Got To Be Tough For John Gard

...knowing he's not even the smartest politician at his breakfast table.

What's The Biggest Hypocrisy?

DK says this is the Bush administration's biggest hypocrisy.
If you were to pick the single greatest hypocrisy of the Bush Presidency,
wouldn't it have to be this: that the man who ostentatiously claims Jesus as his
favorite philosopher (he of "do unto others as ye would have them do unto you"
fame) would say,
in all seriousness, "Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon
human dignity. It's very vague. "What does that mean, 'outrages upon human

What's your entry?

When Will The Swiftboaters Come For Colin?

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.
To redefine [the Geneva Conventions'] Common Article 3 would add to those
doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."
-- Former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell, adding his voice to those who say that George W. Bush's plans for the treatment of detainees would set a dangerous precedent that could be used later against American soldiers.

Monday, September 18, 2006

She Hasn't Figured It Out Yet

In Jessica McBride's live blog of the debate she offers this advice to Mark Green.
On the other hand, my advice to Mark Green for future "forums": Talk less about
generalities and more about specifics. The presentation was heavy on anecdote
and not as heavy on specifics. If I was an average Joe, I would distill that
Green wants a tougher property tax freeze, but I'd be less sure where he will
cut spending.

If she had been paying attention for the last 90 days she would have known that Green has no specifics. He's made his pie-in-the-sky $1 billion spending promises. He's told the road-builders that he'd be there for them. He's delivered for the realtors but he has no plans to give cuts to McBride's "Average Joe."

If Mark Green had any compassion for the working families of Wisconsin, if he had any conception of the burden that his Congressional voting has placed on them, if Congressman Green had a scintilla of empathy for "The Average Joe" he could never have voted the way he has in Washington.

Mark Green has no specifics to offer, Jess. A lot of people have seen that for months. You need to get used to that.

What He Said Last Week vs What He Said Before

George W. Bush on Osama bin Laden, Sept. 15, 2006: "There's kind of an urban myth here in Washington about how this administration hasn't stayed focused on Osama bin Laden. Forget it. It's convenient throwaway lines when people say that."

George W. Bush on Osama bin Laden, March 13, 2002: "You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you ... And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure . I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."

The Church Of America

Soon to drive out your local chapel...Sam's Church. From At The Tap.
"...we're confident that the majority of american consumers won't be able
to tell the difference."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jim Sensennbrenner- Soft On Crime

Flyin' Jim stood up for his corporate backers against Milwaukee's law enforcement community last week. Once you get used to taking all those free trips it's hard to stand up for what's right, I guess.

One Quick Reminder

More of the same. Photo courtesy of Talk To Tony.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Let Me Get This Straight

The President Of The United States is arguing that we aren't torturing enough people? And citizens are on his side?

WTF happened here? When did we become the evil guys? Can we ever again become the "Land of the Free?"

The Devil Is In The Details

They told the Mayor of Gallatin, TN that the movie was about a superheroine and that there was no nudity or offensive content so he let them use his office for filming. The movie, as it turns out, is Thong Girl 3.

Thong Girl was a comic first, the story of young Lana Layonme who fights crime in Nashville with her superpowers of flight, superstrength and a laser-butt. Thong Girl 3 tells of a villain who is trying to turn country music performers into rappers and Lana's efforts to repel him.

The Mayor, when asked about using the city site for the movie said,
"They said it was family friendly. We've had a lot of movies filmed in
this area during the past few years. In fact, I think Sally Field was in one of
them. Anyhow, I thought it was good for business."

Another Mark Green Success Story

Remeber that Victory In Iraq Caucus that Congressman Green was instrumental in building up? Follow this link from the web page of the House Armed Services Committee to the Caucus site to see all they good they do.

The HASC site also has links to a list of all the good things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan> The header on the page says,
Check back often - because there is a lot of good news to tell about Iraq and
The page was last updated in late 2005.

h/t Atrios

Friday, September 15, 2006

Congressman Green Calls On The Experts

Remember when Congressman Green had his pal, Bob Ney, come to Milwaukee to hold a show-hearing about fraud? It turns out that he had called on a man who knew what fraud and double-dealing was.

Congressman Ney is pleading guilty.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Unclear On The Concept- Bad Crooks Division

She stole $2.3 million and used it to play the lottery.

I Know A Blogger Who... found of inserting the sound of crickets chirping when she thinks other bloggers are silent about things which might embarass them and their POV.

Here is every word of analysis that Jessica McBride has published regarding Tuesday's elections as of 10 AM Thursday.


When I Read The Headline I Can Think Of At Least Three People I Know

"I think I have an obsession with guns."
So said the young self-styled Goth who went on a shooting rampage in Montreal. The headline on the article says,
"Montreal college gunman "loved guns, hated people""
We all know people like that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First Happy Circumstance Photo Caption Contest.

Owen took the picture at the Washington County GOP Brat Fry.

What's the caption?

My Choice?

"Hey, Paul? Over there. Can you read the writing on that wall?"

John Gard's Gift To The Green Campaign

One more newspaper in the state has recognized that GOP leadership's failure to reform the State Elections Board is at least partly to blame for Green's heartburn over taking federal PAC money for use in a state race.

Wisconsin Has The Last Word

Paul Bucher showed last night that he truly does suck. His concession speech was an amalgam of sour grapes and finger-pointing. To the end he refused to see that his pandering to the farthest right of his party was taking him away from the voters who might have elected him.

Bucher claimed that JBvH had "bought" the election and refused to take any responsbilty for a campaign that left him with little recognition beyond the southwest corner of the state. The architect of that campaign is now free to go back to spending the proceeds of his business sale and daydreaming about the good old days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Headline Said...

Iraqi officials praise capture of al-Qaeda number two in Iraq.

...and it dawned on me. These guys have more number twos than an Uno deck.

Never Forget

Be the best American that you can. Start by voting.

Update: Bill Wineke says we are a poorer country now than we were before 9/11, not because of what was taken from us but because of what we have given up. He says there is plenty of blame for everyone.

Masters Of Understatement

"Afghanistan is a country promising a lot of growth opportunity for our
company," Coke's Pakistan and Afghanistan manager, Rizwan Khan, said at the

The first major business opening in Afghanistan since 2001. Let the occupation begin.

An Old Familiar Tune

Carrie has a post which links to a Channel 27 story about Congressman Green's campaign using foreign made promotional material.

Where did you hear that story before? Right here on June 26.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Happy Circumstance Endorses...

Lest the suspense build for too long.

In the 8oth Assembly District we have two candidates in the Democrat primary race.

One has experience in business and governance. She served and led in City Hall for four terms, two as Mayor. She knows how budgets and coalitions are built. She led Evansville through several major projects and kept the uproar to the minimum. Having run for the office once before has given her the chance to get to know the 80th and what the people stand for.

The other candidate comes to us with a lack of experience at least, a puffed resume at best, and poor judgment at worst. Wally is earnest but untried, a luxury we can't afford.

Janis Ringhand will work tirelessly for the people of the 80th and the people of Wisconsin as she did for Evansville. I'll be voting for her on Tuesday.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jaw-Dropping Assininity

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next
person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4
operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk
about today.

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back
us if they think we are going over there for a long war."

...."In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight and take out
the regime and come out. But a lot of us planners were having a real hard time
with it because we were also thinking we can't do this. Once you tear up a
country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was very challenging."

Read more.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Why Madison Adopted Pluto

James is under the mistaken impression that the council voted to make Pluto "Madison's Ninth Planet" just so they could ban smoking there.

My sources tell me that Mayor Dave is planning to announce that he's moving the Haloween Party there.

International Literacy Day- Today

Today is International Literacy Day. There are events throughout Rock County. Please make time in your day to give to helping others read. Two hours per week of your time can make all the difference in someone else's life.

In Janesville the Read-a-Thon will be held in the lobby of the Hedberg Public Library September 8th, from 10 AM to 2 PM, as area dignitaries, celebrities, authors and other supporters of literacy will take part in the event as readers. Authors will be available for signing books and literacy facts sheets and book marks with information of the Alliance and where to find help will be handed out.

The Beloit event will be a Literacy Day Fair at the Rotary Center on the Rock River, featuring local press and a live remote from WGEZ radio. The Library will have a remote library card application process, food vendors will be serving lunch and State Senator Judy Robson will give greetings and participate as a reader in the Read-a-thon. Booths for literacy, the library and the bookstore will be set-up. Area authors will be present for book signings and readings. Other local officials, including some adult students, will be reading aloud from their favorite books. The Literacy Day Fair will also run from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

What Could Go Wrong?

Trained? check

Licensed? check

Personally protected? check

Shot the Hell out of the ceiling in the toilet at Wal-Mart? check

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Two Links For Fred

Real Debate Wisconsin has made a home for MRQ. I'll still check over there every week for that.

Fred also has a video of what is, perhaps, the only trio ever written for keyboard, funnel and theramin. He calls it nuttily brilliant. I call it "Whaa?"

Can We Try To Take Opinion Out Of It?

Let's see if we can agree on some facts.

1- Mark Green took PAC money while he was in Washington from entities not registered in Wisconsin. (We agree?)

2- Mark Green wants that money to be used in his race for Governor. (That's pretty clear as well?)

3- The State Elections Boardis a legally constituted arm of Wisconsin government. (Whatever your opinion of its make-up, you can agree that it is made up in exactly the way the law calls for it, right?)

4- The Assembly and Senate have done nothing to change the make-up of the SEB or to substitute another body to uphold standards. (Nada. Bupkus. We agree?)

5- Mark Green says that $500,000 of out of state money is more important to him than following a legally issued order to return it and he will either ignore or fight that order to keep it. (He doesn't really have a plan to deal with that either. Damn, I was doing so good until then. Just ignore the snark.)

Rock County Literacy Facts

Literacy is the stream that flows through all the fields.
-- Barbara Tornholm

Rock County Facts

17.7% of residents over age 18 are lacking a high school diploma or its equivalent.

4.6% of adults over age 25 with no high school credential have less than a 9th grade education.

11% of Rock County residents over 25 years old have a 9th – 12th grade education with no diploma.

The Hispanic population in Rock County has increased 239% between 1990 and 2000.

8.9% of Rock County’s population 16 to 19 years old are not enrolled in school and are not a high school graduate (U.S. Census 2000).

From 1993/94 to 2004/05, the number of Limited English Proficient students served through Blackhawk Technical College increased 553% (Client Reporting System).

Of the 375 basic skills students at Blackhawk Technical College, 58% entered reading instruction below the 9th grade level, 62% entered writing instruction below the 9th grade level, and 77% entered math instruction below the 9th grade level (Client Reporting System).

In 2004/05, 78% of the English Language Learners served by Blackhawk Technical College were enrolled in the three lowest functional levels of the six levels of English as a Second Language (Client Reporting System).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Fun With Inspirational Posters

So much Internet. So little time.

Letters In The Gazette

The voice of reason.

Editor, the Gazette:
With control of the Assembly at stake again this year, it is vital that we
elect the strongest candidates in the primary Sept. 12.In the 80th District, we
have a strong candidate in Janis Ringhand. Her experience in business served her
well in Evansville city government. Her four years of experience as alder and
two terms as mayor will serve the entire district well in Madison.
She successfully led Evansville in a time of 30 percent growth and led the
city through the process of developing a Smart Growth Plan that brought all
involved parties together. She worked tirelessly to lay the groundwork for a
successful downtown construction project and to bring new industry to
Her opponent is earnest but inexperienced in government. I'll be voting for
a proven leader Tuesday.


If This Doesn't Make Owen's Head Explode, Nothing Can

Molly Ivins is now a grad-you-eight of Texas A&M University.

The Happy Circumstance Endorses- The Ho-Hum Edition

There are two primary races on the Democratic side which haven't received a lot of attention and I won't spend a lot of time on.

In the US Senate race Ben Masel is taking on Herb Kohl. Kohl has been a less than stellar Wisconsin Dem but he has been a reliable, solid presence in Washington. If the Republicans hadn't found someone to run I'd have probably cast a vote for Rae Vogeler of the Greens in November. As it is I'll vote for Kohl in September and in the general. He isn't a candidate to stir the emotions but he is a solid choice in a time of uncertainty.

Speaking of less than stellar the race for Secretary of State is a snoozer. Doug LaFollette has been in office since the Ford administration. Scott Ross is an up and comer looking for a shot at a cushy job. The office is quickly becoming an anachronism. Inertia says I'll probably pull the lever for LaFollette. Again, a race with no passion connected to it.

Wisconsin Literacy Facts

Literacy is the stream that flows through all the fields.
-- Barbara Tornholm

Wisconsin Facts

Approximately 1 million Wisconsin adults qualify for adult literacy and English language services (U. S. Census 2000 and NALS 1992). Only 50,000 (or approximately 5%) of adults in need of services are currently receiving them.

18.93 %, or 785,782, Wisconsin adults, age 17 and order are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma.

7.3%, or 368,712, residents over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home.
From 1990 to 2000, the Hispanic or Latino population in Wisconsin more than doubled (107% increase) (U.S. Census 2000).

Wisconsin has the worst graduation rate (50th out of 50 states) for African Americans (Center on Wisconsin Strategy 2002).

47% of adult females and adult males incarcerated in Wisconsin lack either a high school diploma or its equivalent. 49% read below the ninth grade level. 74% perform math below the ninth grade level (Wisconsin Department of Corrections 2006).

785,682 Wisconsin adults, age 16 and older, are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

If The Truth Shall Set You Free...

Why is the Bush administration working so hard to keep it hidden? From the LA Times.

Deadly, Intentional Ignorance on Guns
The Bush administration has blocked collecting data on gun sales and crime. Now Congress wants to go even further.
September 3, 2006

TWO YEARS AGO THIS MONTH, the federal ban on assault weapons expired. Since then, sales of such weapons have almost certainly increased, and the number of crimes in which they have been used has undoubtedly risen. Unfortunately, there's no way to know for sure. That's because the public and law enforcement agencies no longer have access to information they could routinely get just a few years ago.

A decade ago, the federal government was beginning to make some progress in making information about crime and guns more widely available. During the Clinton administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms started analyzing its vast database for the first time and in 2000 released its "Commerce in Firearms" report. This report — which was supposed to be issued annually — was full of information about gun sales as well as sales patterns of weapons used to commit crimes.

Armed with that information, federal and local law enforcement began cracking down on suspect dealers and shifting more resources to areas with disproportionately high levels of gun crimes. The federal government also began collecting information from 40 cities nationwide about their gun crimes and looking for helpful patterns in the data.

Today, such information is no longer available. In 2003, federal lawmakers slipped in a provision to an appropriations bill that bars the ATF from spending money to analyze its gun-crime database or making any data available to the public. The federal government also has stopped collecting cities' gun-crime data.

Congress is now intent on going a step further. This month, it's expected to vote on a package of bills that would make it harder to track other kinds of information. One would bar the federal government from releasing gun-crime data of any kind. Another would make it a felony for a law enforcement agency to share information about gun data with another jurisdiction. (This would make it a crime for a police officer in Los Angeles who wanted to pass along a tip about a gun crime to police in Long Beach.)

The gun industry says this kind of information has no value to the public at large and that law enforcement agencies could use it to harass dealers. That's nonsense. What they're probably worried about is that such information could show how to make gun-control laws more effective.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Playing Fast And Loose With Time And Space

I'm proud of my family. Perhaps you've been able to tell. We've charted the genealogy on several sides back into the mid 19th Century. Many of my ancestors have been farmers of one sort or another. My father's grandfather came from England and through hard work and more than a little gumption came to own his own farm in Sauk County. My mother's great-grandfather founded a farm in Sauk County that has been in the family for more than 120 years. One of his brothers came to own and work most of an entire county in northern Kansas, sending one stepson to die with Captain Keogh's I Battalion at Little Big Horn.

All of this is interesting, of course but it doesn't make me a farmer or an Indian fighter for that matter.

One of the candidates for the Democratic Assembly seat has made much of his family's 150 year farming tradition. He features it prominently on his website, including a headline from the State Journal celebrating his family's dedication to the land. He should be proud of them and share their stories in the same way that I share the stories of my family.

The fact remains, though, that Wally is a Townie. He grew up on Fair Street in Evansville and lives in Oregon now. That's not really the impression that his website leaves. That concerns me.

Fellows' website also reprints a Review story which quotes him saying that municipal taxes under Janis Ringhand grew 37%. Searching the Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance website for the number that Fellows cites you can see that Evansville's tax rate fell 5.5%. Granted, the city experienced growth in the 30% range and tax revenues grew along with that but to say that the mayor was responsible for exorbitant tax increases is more than a little unfair. Requests from the Ringhand campaign to clarify his numbers have gone unanswered by Mr. Fellows. That concerns me.

Fellows website goes on to cite his work on Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold campaigns in the past. He wants us to believe that he's a Progressive candidate. He fails to mention that he volunteered on Brett Davis' campaign two years ago. In Wally's defense, he does say that he now stands opposed to many of the views of the man he helped elect just two years ago. That concerns me.

Wally Fellows says that he has Common Sense Ideas that he wants to put into play for us but he has no government or leadership experience. I hope that he does get involved in some way and learns his way around government. I just don't want him to learn at my expense. The Assembly vote this time is too important to trust to a newcomer.

And, if he loses in September, he'll have time to clarify the things he claims on his website.

Construction Starts Today

Find an alternate to the Madison/Main intersection.

The Observer has the full release.

I'll Take The Under For $200

Bumper sticker on a minivan in Monroe over the weekend.

Eugene Debs
President '08

How To Tell When Desperation Sets In

Pat Kreitlow deconstructs the efforts of Dave Zien to show us what a desperate campaign is willing to do.

An excerpt:

Smear the Opposition

For that, you can use an old-fashioned tactic of the
desperate: the "push poll." Reputable scientific polling asks voters' opinions
on carefully chosen questions which might include negative statements about both
candidates in order to see what voters are thinking. Push polling is nothing
more than calling voters and making up stuff in a way that smears your opponent,
"pushing" them into an opinion, not measuring one. It's kind of like an
interactive attack ad.

For example:"You support Pat Kreitlow? Well, would you support him if you
knew he wanted to raise your taxes 75%, has flip-flopped on the issue of
polygamy, and wants to give automatic citizenship to illegal aliens intent on
burning the flag?"

Okay, that's not exactly how the questions have been worded, but we've
received several calls about this current push poll, and we're hoping someone
will eventually play along with the “pollster” and hit the Record button on
their telephone while it's in progress. It will make for good entertainment… in
a woeful kind of way.

United States Literacy Facts

Literacy is the stream that flows through all the fields.
-- Barbara Tornholm

United States Facts

42% of adults between the ages of 25 and 67 have, at most, a high school education (U.S. Census 2000).

20% of preschool aged children live in poverty and are likely to be part of families where the parent with the highest education has less than a high school education (National Institute of Family Literacy).

2/3 of all jobs, and the majority of jobs that pay wages sufficient to support a family, require skills associated with at least some education beyond high school (Carnevale & Derochers, 2003).

In 1999, only 65 % of those without a high school diploma worked full-time, while 77% of those with a bachelor’s degree worked full-time.

In 2004, high school graduates earned 38% more than those with less than a high school education. The average annual earnings for full-time workers 25 or older without a high school diploma were $22,232, while those with a high school diploma made $30,640, those with some college made $35,970, those with an associate’s degree made $37,480 and those with a bachelor’s degree made $53,581.

The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) estimates that 30 million adults in the U.S. –14% of the country’s adult population – have only the most minimal ability to read and write in English.

67% of prison inmates nationwide are high school dropouts.

22.2% of the foreign-born population had less than a 9th grade education, compared to 4.7% of the native population (Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau 2000).

Americans spent $64.38 per taxpayer on video games in 2002. The federal government spent $3.56 per taxpayer on adult basic education and literacy instruction in the same period.
66% of high school graduates do not have the skills and qualifications necessary to attend college (Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute, 2005).

70% of the more than one million inmates in state and federal prisons are functionally illiterate or read below the eighth grade level (National Adult Literacy Survey, 1994).

46% of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma (NCFL, 2002).

One in five adults – over 40 million Americans – has pressing literacy needs (NALS).

Almost 50% of adults on welfare do not have a high school diploma or GED (National Institute for Literacy).

43% of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty, 17% receive food stamps, and 70% have no job or a part-time job (National Institute for Literacy).

American businesses are estimated to lose over $60 billion in productivity each year due to employees’ lack of basic skills (National Institute for Literacy).

Monday, September 04, 2006

May You Have A Peaceful Labor Day

Until the rain stops and you can get outside you can relax and read The State Of Labor by Sen Robson.

Because of the activism of working men and women, decade by decade, workers
gradually gained more protections. Wisconsin passed the nation’s first workers’
compensation in 1911 and the first unemployment compensation law in 1937. These
laws served as models for other states. In 1937, the Wisconsin Employment
Relations Act added critical state support to the right of workers to

Like all social movements, the labor movement is a story of struggle,
success, failure, and progress – a story that continues today. For example,
Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature had to fight long and hard to increase
the state minimum wage. The struggle to increase the national minimum wage is
still ongoing in Congress.

It Becomes Clearer By The Day

Last week The Observer posted a link to a story which told of our servicemen and women who could not be deployed overseas because of the crushing debt loads they carry to so-called payday loan establishments.
"We're seeing a growing trend of folks who are not eligible to deploy because of
financial problems," says Capt. Mark Patton, commander of Naval Base Point Loma
in California. Patton says debt problems can cost some servicemembers their
security clearances.

Now the government is looking to put limits on what those types of lenders can charge military personnel. Nevermind the effect that they have on normal working neighborhoods. How will those predators make up the revenue? Lisa has the answer.

International Literacy Facts

Literacy is the stream that flows through all the fields.
-- Barbara Tornholm

International Facts

When compared to five other industrialized nations in the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (2003), the U.S., ranked fifth in prose and numeracy literacy behind Bermuda, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, but ahead of Italy.

The United Nations estimated that in 2005, there were 785 million illiterate adults in the world (UNESCO Institute for Statistics).

Women account for two out of three illiterate adults. In 2000 there were 236 million more illiterate women than men.

From 1980 – 1995, the illiterate population of men fell from 327 million to 318 million, while the numbers of illiterate women grew from 551 million to 565 million (Aksornkool, 2001).

In 2000, about 70% of the world’s illiterate adults lived in three regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia, and the Arab States and North Africa.

75% of the world’s illiterate adults live in just 12 countries.

Wisconsin's Natural Resources

I've had the pleasure of eating at Mader's. Don't talk to me about that. The Heidel House, The White Horse in Madison, Piggy's in LaCrosse. All fine establishments. I've done the fine dining thing at The Ovens Of Brittany when they were open and I've spent 110 Euros on a meal at Doyle's in Dingle, Ireland. Wonderful meals with a variety of the finest, freshest ingredients, some that had still been swimming that morning.

But, when the mood hits, none of them can compare to a Wisconsin tradition since 1931.

I stopped at Baumgartner's in Monroe for lunch on Saturday. Before the meal was over I had been engaged in a philosophical discussion about which was Baumgartner's "best" sandwich. The sandwiches are served on rye bread a placed on a small square of white paper, no fancy china here.

The beer is local. Down the street local. They have a fine variety of Berghoff and Huber brands along with Blumer's Root Beer on tap. Most of the cheese is from Green County which has a one of a kind factory up on County N.

I used to deliver salt to The Chalet back when I was with Diamond Crystal. We'd drive up the hill to the backside of the factory and back out onto the roof of the cooler, around the basketball hoop. There we'd wheel the salt down the ramp into a storeroom where they would dump it into a gravity feed box to flow down to production.

What could be worth all that, you ask? The Chalet is the only cheese factory in the US that still makes Limburger cheese. All of which brings us back to that "best" sandwich.

I was having hard salami and limburger with a Huber Bock. The couple next to me were having limburger with braunschweiger and splitting a bowl of "second best" chili with Berghoff Red. They had never tried the hard salami and wanted to know if it was better than the liver sausage. I admitted that the braunschweiger was a regular choice of mine and that it was, indeed, a fine choice but that I was in the mood for the contrast between the hard cured texture of the salami with the creamy bite of the limburger.

We both agreed that more tasting on another visit would be necessary.

Baumgartner's serves their limburger sandwiches with another fine Wisconsin product, an Andes mint. If you save a swallow of Bock you can get that minty taste out of your mouth.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Don't Forget. Don't Neglect.

Just as a gentle reminder, the primary election is a week from Tuesday, September 12. We in the 80th will choose between Democrats for Assembly and will have a choice between Attorney General candidates in both parties.

Take your photo ID to the polls. It will save everyone a lot of grief in the long run.

If you haven't updated your voter registration, primary day is the perfect time to do so. It will save you time and trouble in November.

On Wednesday the State Journal will highlight the Assembly Democratic Primary in the 80th as part of their series on local primaries.

Wednesday is also the cutoff for Letters to the Editor of The Gazette. Letter received after that may not run in time for election day.

International Literacy Day

Next Friday is International Literacy Day and September is Adult Literacy Awareness Month. There are a variety of activities in Rock County that will give you opportunity to participate. I'm sharing the press release from one of Wisconsin's best Literacy advocates, Michele Erikson. As she says, it depends on us.

August 23, 2006

For Immediate Release
Michele Erikson, Director
Wisconsin Literacy

Array of Activities Celebrate Adult Literacy Awareness Month
International Literacy Day – September 8th

There are numerous ways to celebrate International Literacy Day, September 8th, and Adult Literacy Awareness Month this September. Local literacy organizations, the Rock County Literacy Alliance and Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. will be sponsoring several activities that will help raise awareness around the state and in your community.

International Literacy Day was established by the United Nations in 1967 to promote awareness of the 800 million adults worldwide who lack literacy skills.
Nearly 40 years after the United Nations asked the world to recognize the lack of literacy skills, America and the world are still feeling the impact. Illiteracy affects almost every facet of our society, from our global and local economy to health care, crime, jobs, corrections, graduation rates and poverty. Many think of illiteracy as a socio-economic issue, effecting only the poor or immigrants, however low literacy rates carry a shocking price tag for us all.

Consider the fact that 19% or 785,682 Wisconsinites, age 16 or older, are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma. Further, over 360,000 residents over the age of five speak a language other than English at home, with the majority of them possessing very limited English skills. Nearly 30% of Wisconsin’s population growth in the last decade stemmed from immigrants – 21% from people of Hispanic descent alone. Without language and literacy skills how will they fill the labor shortage as baby boomers retire? Our state has the worst graduation rate (50th out of 50 states) for African Americans. Low literacy skills drive up health care premiums, with $75 billion dollars lost EVERY YEAR due to patients’ inability to read prescriptions or follow doctors’ instructions. And 40% of America’s manufacturers cannot implement productivity improvements due to their employees’ lack of literacy skills. More adults are finding themselves left out and left behind as jobs are outsourced and manufacturing plants move south. So how do we continue to compete in the information-driven, global economy?

In Rock County a literacy alliance has been planning a Read-a-thon in Beloit and Janesville to read aloud on behalf of those who don’t read at all. The Rock County Literacy Alliance is a consortium of adult literacy providers including the Janesville Literacy Council, Stateline Literacy Council, Blackhawk Technical College, YWCA Hispanic Outreach Program, Beloit and Hedberg Public Libraries, Arrowhead Library System, and Wisconsin Literacy.

In Janesville the Read-a-Thon will be held in the lobby of the Hedberg Public Library September 8th, from 10 AM to 2 PM, as area dignitaries, celebrities, authors and other supporters of literacy will take part in the event as readers. Authors will be available for signing books and literacy facts sheets and book marks with information of the Alliance and where to find help will be handed out.

The Beloit event will be a Literacy Day Fair at the Rotary Center on the Rock River, featuring local press and a live remote from WGEZ radio. The Library will have a remote library card application process, food vendors will be serving lunch and State Senator Judy Robson will give greetings and participate as a reader in the Read-a-thon. Booths for literacy, the library and the bookstore will be set-up. Area authors will be present for book signings and readings. Other local officials, including some adult students, will be reading aloud from their favorite books. The Literacy Day Fair will also run from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

What can you do to help improve literacy rates in your community? Volunteer! Through the continued support of Verizon, Wisconsin Literacy and its member agencies will kick off the 4th Annual 900 Tutors in 90 Days Campaign. Literacy programs earn money through the Verizon grant for each new tutor, while community members have an opportunity to teach someone to read. Many local programs are recruiting and training volunteer tutors between September 8th, International Literacy Day, and December 8th. After an initial 12-15 hours of training, new tutors are matched with an adult learner to provide goal-oriented instruction three hours per week. To find a literacy program near you, visit and click on “Find.” For information on adult basic education programs through the Wisconsin Technical College System visit

As we celebrate International Literacy Day and “Adult Literacy Awareness Month,” there is something we all can do to strengthen Wisconsin’s workforce, families, and communities through literacy. Our state’s future depends on it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Au Revoir, Mon Cher

Bon chance

Choices- For My RPG Friends

At The Tap Says: UN Authorizes Peacekeeping Force

Guess where.
The force, composed primarily of Bangladeshi and Turkish troops, will be under
strict orders not to fire unless fired upon. The Turkish government has
expressed some concern for the safety of its soldiers in the state of Texas, due
to the potential use of technicals, pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine
guns or other weapons.

Those Wacky Theocrats

Adultery is now a criminal offense in Cambodia, punishable by up to a year in jail. Proponents say it will prevent officials from corrupt dealings to provide for their mistresses. Others call it a victory for "Family Values."

Katherine Harris has had no response.

One reaction:
There are only a couple of countries in the world which prosecuted personal
immorality based on their sacred texts such as the ousted Taliban regime,"
opposition MP Eng Chhay Eang said in the debate.
"They forced people to follow their tradition which cannot be accepted. So did Pol Pot's regime. They murdered people who had love affairs," he added

What's The Buzz?

The Yahoo Buzz Index is a pretty good measure of what is resonating with the American public on any given day. One of the Big Hitters this morning is "What's A Fascist?" Searches for an accurate definition are up 112% in the last day. It would appear that people are no longer willing to take Rummy's word for the definition.

Of course, Aly and AJ were still getting more searches, especially in Wisconsin. Probably the BBA influence.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Jess Bucher Brings Out The Worst Instincts In Almost Everyone

I know that I've taken my share of shots at the self-proclaimed journalist and Malkin wannabe. The Brawler deconstructs her with some regularity and most of the rest of the Cheddarsphere has had a chance at her strained reasoning and purple prose. It's always good when someone new gets a chance to swing the bat.

Today we go to Jody Up North who says "Jessica McBride Makes Stuff Up."

First Endorsement- Lazy Rooster Edition

They tell about the rooster that was so lazy he'd wait until the rooster on the next farm crowed and then just shake his head. THC endorses Peg Lautenschlager for AG in the primary on 9/12 but I'm willing to let Richard list the reasons.

He's done it so well. Read for yourself.
Back in 2002, Peg already had the best resume of any candidate for the
office. A Phi Beta Kappa college graduate with double honors, she started out as
a private attorney and subsequently served on the faculty of UW Law School, as
district attorney for Winnebago County, in the Wisconsin Legislature, and as US
attorney for western Wisconsin. Now, after 4 years of actual on-the-job
experience, nobody else even comes close to her qualifications.

How It's Done

GWB is stumping around the country, calling for a re-election of the Congress that's gotten us into the myriad messes we're in and then claiming that his speeches "aren't political."

If he really wants to see what non-political speech looks like he should get a tape of Congressman Green's family portrait commercial. GW could shoot some hoops, mow the White House lawn and have Jenna and Barbara talk about how extreme he is. Then he wouldn't have to talk about plans or policy or actions or any of that stuff.