Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No Joy In Mudville Tonight

I should be shouting from the rooftops tonight. The Guns In Malls bill has gone down for this session of the lege. I can't get too worked up though. It'll be back in one form or another. The NRA won't let it die the death it deserves. The tizzysphere is already up in arms.

In the states where Concealed Carry has passed the NRA has come back with Fire First legislation or relaxed standards for licensing or smoke screens and obstruction. They won't give up. They play on the fears of insecure people who are made more fearful by the politicians they trust to protect them and to build a better, less violent society.

It's not about rape. Those who understand domestic violence and street crime know that. It's about some misguided vigilante mystique and the power of white men to feel superior with a gun in their trousers. JB van Hollen the Republican candidate for AG was predictably upset.

Jim Doyle has been on the wrong side of law abiding citizens. right to protect
themselves for far too long. It is unfortunate that partisan politics has
again gotten in the way of sound public policy. As Attorney General, I will
work with a bi-partisan coalition of legislators who wish to pass the
Personal Protection Act, because I know that we should not fear allowing
Wisconsinites who are properlytrained and licensed the ability to exercise
their constitutional rights.

Mark Green spouted off as well.

"Unfortunately for Wisconsin’s law-abiding citizens, partisan politics took
precedent over freedom and individual rights today. I am disappointed that
Governor Doyle has once again put the Wisconsin legislature in a position of
having to overturn his bad decisions. “Unlike the governor, I trust the people
of Wisconsin with the right to carry a firearm to protect themselves from those
who seek to do us harm.”

Get the illegal guns off our streets. Stop pushing artificial limits on governments which take policemen off our streets. Start providing hope for those who have none instead of playing the poor against those who soon will be poor because of the profligate spenders in our nation's capitol not because of the decisions made in our town halls.

Lead, for the sake of whatever you believe in. Stop spreading fear and start spreading solutions.

Mike Anderson Open House

Mayoral candidate Mike Anderson had an open house Tuesday night at his home in Evansville's historic district. Unfortunately, only a small crowd was there to hear what he had to say. I stayed for an hour and left unsatisfied.

He is an earnest, impassioned man with a narrow view of what he hopes to accomplish if elected mayor.

Mike started with a ramble about his struggles with the committee which enforces the restrictions on homes in the historic district. He told of his troubles with the committee, with local contractors and with the rules and restrictions on his deed. He repeatedly said that his reasons for running weren't personal and acknowledged that city workers had treated him well when he had interactions with them.

After half an hour of one-sided discussions of various siding materials and porch rot a woman asked how he would go about bringing business to the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the finer points of the downtown revitalization, suggesting that maybe condos would be in order. He proposed bringing a distribution center to town without comment on the infrastructure changes needed to attract a business of that nature. He did score points when he said that it was important to keep the industry that we have in town and recognized that Evansville needs more blue collar employment. He talked about, "that Smart Growth thing," in a dismissive way and without showing any familiarity with its aims or results.

When asked why we should vote for him he said that he was committed to making Evansville better even though he was naive to the ways of city government.

As I said, I came home disappointed. He's a likeable man with some decent ideas and more passion than savvy. I could support him being on one of the city committees. I just won't be able to vote for him for mayor in good conscience. His vision for Evansville, as articulated tonight, is too narrow to be viable. The learning curve, he admits would be steep.

"It sounds corny," he said, "But I've played sports all my life. Sometimes the Coach has to ask the team what is best."

Evansville Mayoral Race (Now It's News)

Update: I've brought this back to the top because of the open house tonight.

It's as official as being published in the Review can make it;

Mayoral candidate Mike Anderson will have an informal open house at his home at 7 N. 4th St, Evansville at 7 PM on Jan 31.

The Evansville Lions Club will sponsor a more formal forum at The Bauer House at 6:30 on Feb 7. Candidates' presentations will be limited to 15 minutes. Space may be limited. RSVP to club president Steve ver Kuilen at 882-6775.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Who Says I Can't Do "Heartwarming?"

Baby Jessica is 19 now and just got married.

Feel better now?

The CEO Administration At Work

In Iraq.

In Houston.

In the oil bidness and in Washington.

Profits up in Chicago (8,000 laid off.)

What's good for General Motors is good for the country.

Perfect storm, tsunami, avalanche, dominoes, house-of-cards.

So, every time our President says, "9/11," Tuesday night have a shot. Every time he says, "it's hard," buy one for the person on your right. Every time he says, "security," start weeping softly. The CEO's are yukking it up and don't need your particular buzzkill.

Fun With Typos

Ahh, is it Freudian or something less?

Here's the editorial headline from the MJS: " Editorial: A study to fill in the blanks on vouchers."

Here's the link from The Wheeler Report: "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A study to fill in the blacks on vouchers."

Update: Ahh well, it's fixed now. I knew it would be.

Seth Says, "Dems Need Concealed Carry Issue"

Seth offers his take on Concealed Carry, its possible impact in an election year and why Democrats need to come back with a CC bill of their own. It's an interesting proposition and workable in may ways.

Who is listening?

ChexMix, Short Beers, and Cornell- A Super Bowl Warmup

Grad students serving themselves from two buffet tables took smaller portions when served from smaller bowls, even though the same amount of food was available. The same study showed that, when allowed to pour their own, the same group poured less liquor into Collins glasses than into Old-Fashioned tubs.

If you chose to use psychology to get your kids to eat more carrots or to get your brother in law to eat fewer mini tacos. The link is under the title.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Writing For A Targeted Audience

Philander Smith College president, Walter Kimbrough told his audience at the college that inviting Ann Coulter to speak at the black school in Little Rock made sense because like hip hoppers she is "raw, outspoken, uncensored." He also called her the "conservative answer to rapper Lil' Kim -- [both] attractive and sexy, long-haired blondes. ..."

Coulter did her part to stir the pot starting with a joke about poisoning Justice John Paul Stevens with rat bait and declaring that crack cocaine "has pretty much gone away."

Sean at The American Mind offers his reaction;

Coulter Again Gives Conservatives a Bad Name
The unfunny Ann Coulter out did herself when she joked, "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee." She's not a pundit. She's an unfunny comedian who uses conservative politics and long blond hair as her schtick. She's boring and she insults the movement she thinks she promotes.

The circus continues.

H/T to Wigderson L&P

Google and You

So far Google has resisted efforts to get them to turn over bulk search results to the White House. The government says they need to know an entire week's worth search words in order to fight pornography. Google says that raw searches can give a wrong impression and has refused to co-operate citing a user's expectation of confidentiality. Those statements are true but overly simple.

My points are these. Google owns and operates blogspot which hosts this and un-numbered other blogs. Recent searches that brought folks to this humble ranter include, "cognitive psychology", "Neil Bush", "valentine party ideas for third graders", and "New York Times Select." All of those words are somewhere on this site but search results that point here are at best misleading.

Speaking as someone who is easily distracted by the sparkly things on the Internet, I don't want anyone in any government trying to play Connect the Dots with my search words.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Concealed Carry- What Could Go Wrong

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Virginia Del. John S. Reid, R-Henrico, right, explains to the media Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, in Richmond, how a handgun he was unloading in his office accidentally discharged. (BOB BROWN / Times-Dispatch)

Roll over the post for the full story. Then call your Rep to tell them to uphold the veto.

Update: Another story of Fun With Firearms from Charleston, SC.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Brett Davis Defends Gun Law

The Monroe Times has a story on business efforts to keep concealed weapons off their premises if the Assembly votes to over ride Governor Doyle's veto.

The business owners are concerned about language in the proposed concealed carry bill that states that an owner or occupant must have posted a sign and "personally and orally notified the individual" in order to prohibit weapons from being brought into a nonresidential building like a bank or pharmacy.

Evansville's Rep, Brett Davis claims that this is similar to posting "No Smoking" signs but then goes on to explain, "According to interpretation by the Wisconsin Legislative Council, all a business owner has to do is post a sign prohibiting weapons," Davis said. "In order to be fined, violators have to be verbally warned, so if you notice they are carrying, you can call the police and they have to tell them before they are penalized. Gun carriers are going to be trained, so when they see the sign they will know what it means."

That sounds a little more involved than putting up a sign. Davis has said that he will not split his vote and will vote to over ride the veto when the bill comes for consideration in the Assembly.

An Aphorism Is Born

This guy needs to rethink his disposal issues. Maybe next year he goes for the artificial tree.

This woman won't get the chance to refine her wake-up calls. May she rest in more peace than she offered her boyfriend.

Let's propose this as the newest aphorism for 2006, "If it's on fire, don't drag it."

Taxes, Services and Flim-Flams

Al at Your Local Government Pontificator has some things to say about tax cuts in Rice Lake and what they had to give up to save $100. It's kind of like the Sally Struthers commercials where 17 cents feeds one child for one day. One hundred dollars per household may be a 5% cut in taxes but it also means a 5% cut in funds to pay for the things we've come to expect.

There are those who say we need to keep cutting taxes and cutting taxes without any consideration of what those taxes provide. The TABOR crowd would have us believe that even though energy costs have risen precipitously we should, somehow, absorb those costs without charging any more.

The school funding fiasco in Illinois is coming to a head as Governor Blagojevich is down to exploring Keno and on-line lottery ticket sales to pay for school construction. There is no "Magic Government Dust" which works without maintaining a healthy balance of revenue streams.

The Carnival Is Back In Town

Well, Milwaukee anyway. The Layton Park Blogger has the Carnival Of the Badger XXIII and it's a quickie. Go on over and check out what the Cheddarsphere has to offer this week.

Next week the Carnival moves over to Know What I Mean? for the first time.

Head over to Nick's to volunteer to host a future carnival.

Can't We Call It Something Without A "Gate" In The Name?

From dictionary.com

civil service n. Abbr. CS
Those branches of public service that are not legislative, judicial, or military and in which employment is usually based on competitive examination.
The entire body of persons employed by the civil branches of a government.

patronage n.
5. The power to distribute or appoint people to governmental or political positions.
The act of distributing or appointing people to such positions.
The positions so distributed or filled.

Georgia Thompson, so far as we know now, is a civil servant, hired during a former administration without regard to her political leanings. I'm willing to wait to see how this plays out but looking at the indictment I see a lot of nothing there.

Ben at Badger Blues recites my mantra; "A good rule of thumb is never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence." My lovely wife calls that "assuming positive intent."

There has been a lot of wild speculation while Doyle's competition for the governor's office weighed in. Scott Walker spouted "rotten from the head" boilerplate and vowed to "clean up Madison." Mark Green offers something he calls an aggressivee reform agenda" that doesn't go as far as the bipartisan reforms offered by Doyle two weeks ago. The Doyle statement was terse and to the point; zero tolerance, confidence in the procedures, respect for prosecutors, yada, yada.

So far, there's not much here. A civil servant may or may not have cooked the books in a way that gave the job to the low bidder. No wonder Scott Walker is confused.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blatant Blog Theft- Evansville Mayoral Post

Mason has had some luck with questions and answers for the Evansville Mayoral candidates over at Chasing Ambulances In My Nightmares. Karen Aikman has engaged with Mason and with Mark to answer some of the questions we are all asking. I have, shamelessly, stolen and brought them over here. For the entire discussion at the source click the title of this post.

Also Mason has posted the following times for Mayoral meet and greets.

(1) Open house at Mike Anderson's on Jan. 31 at 7:00pm.
(2) Lion's Club hosts an open forum at Bauer House on Feb. 7 at 6:30pm.

The Exchange:

At 5:34 PM, Karen Aikman said...
# Why should I vote for you? Because I am contributing to your blog.
# Why do you want to be mayor? So I can work with you if you should become an alderman
# Quien es mas macho Ambulance Fugo o Jeff? No Se.
# What do you think of the skatepark? Maybe the next AFV $10,000 winner will be one of our own!
# How do you feel about Evansville going blog crazy? Far be it for me to criticize the medium that allows folks to sit around, in the comfort of their homes, sipping their cold beer and arguing over facts that are as often as not inaccurate anyway.
# Evansville needs a hotel (or probably more important a bed and breakfast), how will you get one here? Done. We granted "The Coffee House Ladies" a conditional use permit to run a B&B out of their home. Perhaps you can check in and tell us how it is!
# My kids are perfect...don't you agree?Of course.# Do you have an idea on how to get these taxes down? yes
# What is the biggest problem facing Evansville Today and, follow-up, how do you solve it? One problem is not more problematic than any other. You solve them one step at a time.
# I like a nice cold beer...Discuss. One should never discuss a man's wife, his dog, or his choice of beer.

At 6:19 PM, Jeff said...
Thanks for posting. It's good to see you have a sense of humor.

At 6:21 PM, Mark Schnepper said...
Karen,Probably one of the most pressing issues in Evansville is the high taxes. Please elaborate on your plan to lower taxes. As mentioned in Mason's post, you would be considered the "insider," in this race. As I am sure you are aware, some people on the Observer sight are calling for change.
Please explain if you intend to take the city in a different direction or if you feel that you would like to follow Mayor Ringhand's leadership example. Many people who have "adopted" Evansville feel excluded (I will admit it is better than it was when I moved here in 1998, but I think that is partially due to the influx of people). Any thoughts on making Evansville feel more inclusive?

At 8:57 PM, Karen Aikman said...
First I would like to say that I considered Mason's line of questioning to be somewhat SNL-esque and so after some thought, decided to answer with tongue in cheek responses. I do appreciate your more considered question and will attempt to answer it.I find a few questions presented here.

Let's take them one at a time.Taxes:The level of property taxes is indeed high in Evansville. This problem is multi pronged. As I understand it, it has much to do with County demands as well as the local school district. It is my understanding and observation that the City of Evansville has not raised the city's percentage of tax levy in some time. We have been relying on growth in number of houses as well as appreciation of those house values to increase revenues. This has been working for the short term. I also have to applaud the efforts of the various city department heads for their sacrifices in keeping expenses down. These may be drops in the ocean, but one look at the police department phones will illustrate how hard these people work to save the rest of us money and how dedicated they are to any amount they can save. Pick a department and I can give you a list of how they scrimp and save. I Chair the Finance and Labor department so I am well informed on this.

So what do we do?It's Econ 101. We can either cut costs or raise revenues. We don't feel we can cut costs especially, so it's raise revenues. How do we do that? Bill Connors has been driving an effort to have residential developments contain higher valued homes. This is being done but will only go so far. I believe the key will be with Commercial development. Commercial property tax is a great source of revenue. We have a few existing commercial areas, Downtown, North on 14, (Union St.) and the East Side. All of these areas represent an opportunity for increased revenues.

For Union Street and downtown, we have created a TIF district. Despite some recent concerns expressed on the blog, when this TIF was created, public hearings were provided for and it was agreed there was a need and benefit to encouraging private property improvement with the use of public funds. The very general idea being that over time the city would recover it's investment with the increase in property tax generated by the increased value of the properties. We are seeing some movement in this direction and are encouraged by the increased interest in improving the properties in this area.

For the East side, we can all see the development that is going on over there. While it is hard to see valued stores leave the convenience of the downtown, they nonetheless have not left the city limits and they continue to not only contribute to our property tax revenues, but have increased their contributions. In short our tax base is rising as a result. One addition spurs another and hopefully we will see additional commercial development out there. The hope is for commerce in the form of incubating local business as well as attracting new investment. It is widely agreed that incubating is a better bet for growth than the off chance of recruiting some giant outside interest like Epic. LandsEnd is often used as an example of this type of homegrown success. You certainly are aware that taxes are a complex and delicate issue and I don't pretend to have the answers. As pointed out, I do ask questions however, and I get answers from people who know much more than I do, so that I can make the best decisions I can. I welcome any suggestions from yourself or readers of these blogs.

On making Evansville feel more inclusive... and...Please explain if you intend to take the city in a different direction or if you feel that you would like to follow Mayor Ringhand's leadership example.

I too moved here in 1998. November I recall. Like you I can remember a difference, an atmosphere if distrust and exclusion. My husband and I were actually turned away from a meeting that had been posted in the paper to discuss the fate of the lake. As we walked in, all conversation stopped. We were asked why we were there. When we said to participate in the lake discussion, they said there would be no such discussion. I showed them the notice in the paper, they said they would take note of our position and asked us to leave. Which we did.

Times have changed and I do indeed attribute most of it to the leadership of Janis Ringhand. To the extent that she allows everyone in her meetings and provides the opportunity to voice opinions, I will continue with that. I plan to improve upon it. I think I can do a better job of communicating with the public to keep them better informed. I already try to participate in these blogs when I believe it is appropriate to do so.As to the direction...that's hard. So much gets laid out beforehand. I can tell you that I do not intend to lose focus on the entire city. Every corner cries out for attention and it can be given. We need to monitor the rain water runoff of the West side. We need to continue promoting the TIF. We need to prepare for the Main Street reconstruction. We need to not let go of the lake. I would like to see commercial development on the East side. There has been housing development plans that need to be monitored. And, we have traffic flow issues. So whatever that direction is..that's where I plan to go. I hope this answers your question.

H/T to Evansville Observer

"You Just Have To Pay Your Share Of The Check."

Russ Feingold made a call for real and substantive change in lobbying laws today at the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee On Lobbying and Ethics Reform. His testimony called for 5 changes.

  1. A real lobbyist gift ban
  2. Address privately funded travel
  3. Slow the revolving door
  4. End reliance on corporate jets
  5. Improve lobbying disclosure

He also warned that we should beware of those who are mired in the current scandals and are proposing changes as face-saving measures;

...But the first point I want to emphasize today is that this Committee should
resist the temptation to let opponents of reform change the subject. By all
means, consider all proposals that will have an impact on the problem, but don’t
let side issues take your attention away from the abuses that need to be
stopped. Whenever someone disparages basic reforms of the gift and travel rules
by saying “what Congress really needs to do is _X_”, be skeptical.

He issued a call for bipartisan action saying;

But working together on a bipartisan bill does not mean being timid. It does not mean Democrats and Republicans should come together to protect the status quo or find the lowest common denominator. Now is the time for bold and decisive action, not weak knees.

Feingold laid out the case for real reforms and the steps necessary to effect them. Who is Statesman enough to follow his lead?

Just Thinking Out Loud

If this came up for a vote today in the US Congress would it pass? Would the President veto it?

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized."

It seems clear to me. "Probable Cause" is there as is "Oath and affirmation." "Place, persons, things;" that seems clear as well. "Shall not be violated" is crystalline. I don't see where the problem is.

Okay, what about this one, then?

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve,
protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Just thinking out loud.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Diva Moves On- Sadie Says Goes Dark

Sadie Says is going dark but we can still get the diva at Watchdog Milwaukee. He leaves us with a tale of the Mayonaise jar and the beers. Its a good lesson for all of us.

Twirling The Cognitive Kaleidoscope

Dennis York asked us to all take a deep breath a couple of weeks ago. It's that time again. Go ahead, breathe deeply. Now, let it out slowly.

The good folks at the Department of Clinical Psychology at Emory University tell us that our minds are made up already, that Owen can't change our mind any more than Xoff or E'ville Alder Fred can. Facts be damned, we know what we want and we'll do what we can to get it.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly
engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the
cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they
get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional
states and activation of positive ones."

The study shows that, in the face of facts that challenge our political beliefs we stick fingers in our ears and make humming noises. This is why the unknown can so often slide under the radar. If we haven't made our minds up we can be open to accepting the unknown.

In politics it may be, "Better the devil you don't know," than the other way around. This study means that all Charlie Sykes is doing, all the puffery of McBride and the bluster of Xoff, my stick-poking and Peter's name calling are just ways of showing off for the herd.

Green Defends Cuts To the Most Vulnerable- Calls It His Duty

Mark Green's response to an upcoming ad campaign targeting 11 member of the House and their support for the bill which would slash $39B over five years shows where his priorities lie. A week after calling on states to clean up after his vote on the Medicaid debacle Green has said, in essence, "Let them eat cake."

In defense of his vote to raise Medicare co-pays and put more restrictions on qualifying for nursing home care Green said, "No amount of pressure from liberal special interests will convince me to raise taxes or shrink from my responsibility to reduce government spending."

So there it is. My 102 year old grandmother is just another liberal special interest. The tens of thousands of poor people struggling with the Medicaid fiasco are just another liberal special interest. Now I'm clear. Conservative special interests get no bid contracts. Liberal special interests have their Medicare restricted. Conservative special interests get tax cuts. Liberal special interests have their child support endangered by cuts in enforcement.

Accountabilty Day is coming. I'll make sure that my Liberal Special Interest gets an absentee ballot at the nursing home. It's the least I can do for Mark Green.

Monday, January 23, 2006

One Fewer Clinton Supporter

When does Molly Ivins agree with Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh?

When the answer is Hillary for President. Read Molly's take on Clinton and Leadership here.

Evansville Mayoral Race (Not news yet)

There are three announced candidates for Mayor of Evansville. Karen Aikman, Sandy Decker and Michael Anderson. The primary election is scheduled for Feb 21st and, as of this writing, no forum is planned at which city residents can get to know the positions of the candidates.

Over the weekend I asked some questions of some locals and there are contacts being made with two groups who have held these types of events in the past. I hope that something will come of these contacts.

Does anyone out there know of any other efforts being made to let us meet the candidates?

What's the Difference?

Just so somebody says it out loud. Lobbying is not bad. The practice of hiring someone to plead your case to lawmakers is an old and well-regarded one. Lobbyists often provide expertise and guidance in the making of law. Many of the groups who lobby are people just like us on the left or the right. The bulk of lobbyists do not break the law or wink at ethics laws. "Everybody" does not violate.
Let's look at some things that are bad.

The abdication of law-making to lobbyists is bad. Industries and single issue groups should not be handed the keys to our processes. Advisement is different. This is a different thing from lobbying.

Giving gifts for consideration is bad. Accepting gifts for consideration is bad. Establishing a quid pro quo system for consideration is very bad. It is possible to cross one line without crossing both lines.

Breaking the law to generate funds to influence elections is not bad. It is a felony. When you have lobbyists making statements of this sort on their company bios it can be very, very bad.

Jack is directly involved in the Republican party and conservative movement
leadership structures and is one of the leading fund raisers for the party and
its congressional candidates.

h/t to TPM

Sunday, January 22, 2006

State Reacts To Tire Slashing Plea Bargain Then Goes Out For Fish Fry

There was a plea deal on Friday in the Milwaukee County case in which tires were slashed on some vans that the local Republicans intended to use to get out the vote. Sensing that a hung jury threatened his case, the DA took a Criminal Damage to property plea deal from four of the defendants while the fifth was found Not Guilty.

Most of the state found this to be not remarkable. The DA got guilty pleas from 80% of the defendants and a weak case was closed. The tizzysphere over by the lake found this to be outrageous. There were allegations of Big Picture voter fraud and national conspiracies.

The short version is this. The courts are a busy place. Getting a conviction at all is a victory for the DA who take them where he can get them. Ask Brian Blanchard. Sometimes half a loaf is the best there is.

I may need to be corrected on this next point (Do it gently please. I'm old and the Madison papers don't cover all of the Milwaukee vandalism cases.) Has there been proof given that so many as one voter was denied a trip to the polls by the actions of the men involved in this trial? Is the Republican Party of Milwaukee County so ineffectual that a few flat tires early in the morning caused them to throw up their hands in despair and proclaim, "Oh, Woe. Our intentions are for naught. Now we'll never be able to get anyone to the polls," and then go home in defeat?

I'm solidly against vandalism. Apparently they thought they'd have been found guilty of something and took a deal. That's good. Their motives were despicable and wrong. I deplore them for interfering in the election process and condemn them for trying to illegally influence it. I also think the judge would have let Howard Dean off the hook if the DA had dragged him into the case.

It was what it was. It's over. It's time for the offended in the southwest corner of the state to start the healing process and catch up to the rest of Wisconsin.

Gunderson Says, "Not Enough Third Graders Know How To Use Guns." 73 Reps Agree

Scott Gunderson has run another truly foolish bill through the Assembly. Stating that he feels Wisconsin has fallen away from its hunting tradition he authored a bill to allow third graders to hunt. In the woods. With real guns.

Each third grader would have to be accompanied at arm's length by a mentor designate by the child's parent or guardian and they would have to share one weapon. If the child still wanted to hunt by age twelve they would have to complete a hunter safety course.

The truly scary part of this provision is that 74 of our lawmakers voted to pass it. How does this make Wisconsin better? Where is the pressing need to have third graders with weapons in our woods? Is it not possible to teach respect for and a love of nature without having a gun?

I'm an occasional hunter of small game. This loopy proposal is enough to make me give that little bit up.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fun With Press Releases

Pour yourself a big bowl of Cocoa Puffs and read these between cartoons.

Carrie gives a left-handed take on John Gard's Reagan Rhapsody. The Sun Prarie Republican apparently got to shake the President's hand and it made him forget that he's a politician, too.

Jeff did the proofreading that Scott Walker's team didn't. Just a little tense problem, but that will only get tenser for The Hero of Milwaukee's Golf Courses as Primary Day approaches.

Ve Arr Marytoors To Damoocratzya

At The Tap has a post about the moral authority of the US. It's probably a minor story in the grand scheme of things but the picture of the Brazilian fighter planes that come with the link took me straight to Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.

Visions of Ice9 swamping the Earth on a morning with this much new snow are a little overwhelming.

Good News Saturday

Ozzie Guillen is a US citizen.

Chewbacca is a US citizen.

Hagrid is now Sir Robbie. Coltrane was given OBE for Services To Drama.

My boss is a brand new US citizen. She reminds me every day of why people work so hard to become one of us.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's A Silver Anniversary Today

26 Years ago.

"God, how I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

25 Years ago.

"It's morning in America."

Carrying Charlie Sykes' Water In Their Right Hand

Wow! All it takes is one evening for the right side of the Cheddarsphere to lose it altogether.

Xoff posted an article with the claim that WTMJ and host Charlie Sykes have created and are running a "spot" criticizing Governor Doyle's position on school choice caps which violates laws against advocacy ads. The resulting snot-storm threatens to coat all of Wisconsin as the perpetually offended finds a common target.

Jess Bucher accused Xoff of violating the law himself by advocating for Doyle on WisOpinion. The Sykes Writes crowd swarm-posted Xoff's site with many missing the point outright. Peter DiGaudio ruined a right-side wrapup of the controversy by repeating Sykes' wacky claims that the Governor is, somehow, a racist.

There are some points being missed by the offended right-wingers.

  1. Sykes spot, as he calls it, runs on WTMJ, an entity which is regulated by the FCC and which has restrictions placed upon it because of its use of the public airwaves. Bucher would have us believe that the marketplace decides who should be heard and that the privilege of station ownership carries no responsibility to the public.
  2. WisOpinion is a forum for, surprise, opinion. They open the floor for folks on either side of an issue to spout. WTMJ hasn't seen fit to do that and some on the right say that allowing dissenting opinions to Sykes' would somehow be outraging.
  3. The governor has already offered a solution to the problem that Sykes would have us believe he cares about. The video-game, all-or-nothing mentality of Sykes and his ilk will brook neither discussion or compromise of it.
  4. Sykes doesn't have to give a rat's rectum about school choice or anything else he blusters on about. He is required by his employers to bring in listeners. As long as he delivers a demographic that they can sell in the next booking period and doesn't get them sued they will be happy.
  5. The perpetually-annoyed, burning with the flame of self-righteousness think that only their own should be allowed to use these baiting tactics on the radio. If anyone else would dare try, Peter would call them a name, Jess would fume until some other shiny thing caught her eye and Charlie would turn it into an Arbitron-beater and laugh all the way to the bank.
  6. The most strident bloggers on this topic, the ones who say they only want an open discussion are the ones who don't tolerate comments on their own posts. Sykes and Bucher have never allowed competing facts or conflicting opinions and DiGaudio just turned off comments because he said he didn't like all the name calling. (There's the difference between irony and coincidence, right there.)

Charlie Sykes gets paid to stir the pot and isn't above pandering to do it. If his employer broke campaigning laws then they should be punished for it. If they didn't then the tempest dies away.

Bill Christofferson doesn't need me to stand up for him. He's made his point and defended it. I had to put my two cents in to try to shine some light on the mushy logic and bullyragging by those who choose to disagree.

The guy I really feel sorry for is Mark Belling. He hardly gets any attention at all for having nearly the same shoddy logic and making the same wrong argument as Sykes. His post says that the schools that get to pick the kids they want to teach are the schools that have the kids that anyone would love to teach. Kind of a chicken with no egg riddle, isn't it? Stuck in Charlie's shadow again, Mark pouted about the lead paint problem he doesn't believe in, too.

Some things never change.

It's A Birthday Party- It's A Carnival- It's Carbirthidal

Carnival of the Badger XXIII is up at From Where I Sit and it's an Eliot Stearn's birthday surprise edition.

The carnival is looking for a home for next week. Mix your metaphors, step up to the plate, put your nose to the wheel, tow the line and contact Nick to volunteer.

Building Bigger Government- One Crony At A Time

Let's review some of what we know about Grover Norquist. The presidential strategist, fund-raiser and president of Americans for Tax Reform. He's famously quoted as saying that he wants to make government small enough to drown it in the bathtub.

It would appear that his whole family does not share his philosophy. His brother David just got a prime new gig as CFO of the Department of Take Your Shoes Off.

Start The Day Feeling Good

Carroll Spinney is getting a lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmys this year. Spinney has been giving us Big Bird and my hero Oscar the Grouch since 1969.

He has, in many ways, raised two generations of American children and his influence has carried the world over.

Congratulations, Big Bird.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just For the Record

Yes, I heard what Ray Nagin said. Yes, it was every bit as ignorant and self-serving as anything Pat Robertson spouted about New Orleans. Recanting it the next day doesn't count. Yes, I still can't wait to get back to New Orleans for fried green tomatoes at The River Shack.

Administration Response to Medicare Debacle

The Bush administration has launched its response to the Medicare "fix" that has caused health-care emergencies in more than a dozen states.

Knowing that this pharmaceutical nightmare can't be fixed the administration is reacting in the only way they know. They are sending their medical advisors out on a dog and pony show across the country to tell us that it's all working very well and the administration is doing a "heckuva job."

When the truth is untenable, it's time to start lying in earnest.

College Is A Fountain Of Knowledge...

...where students go to drink.

Mark Green Voted Against Your Grandmother

Why does the Abramoff scandal matter in Wisconsin? What possible effect can Tom DeLay have had here? Why bother? I've heard it often enough.

It's a tangled story and one that does not translate well in the days of soundbite newscasts. It can't be summarized in a single sentence on a crawler or wedged easily between commercials for cruise vacations and little purple pills.

We are seeing the effects of big-money, Abramoff/DeLay influence right now on our kitchen tables.

Tom DeLay funneled money illegally through TRMPAC to Republican candidates. Abramoff used money skimmed of from his shell charitable foundations to support and elect others. The Texas gerrymandering is being investigated now but the effects on us are being felt by the most vulnerable of us.

The Medicare Part D reform package is proving itself to be a debacle on the order of FEMA. Bad legislation, written at the behest of big pharmaceutical companies is causing havoc in pharmacies across Wisconsin and the nation. Twelve states have declared health care emergencies to make sure that patients can get the medicine they require.

When this piece of horrendous legislation was being forced through the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was threatened with dismissal for sharing the true costs of the bill. Retiring Rep Nick Smith has told of being offered a bribe on the floor for hi support. In the meantime former Rep Billy Tauzin, who authored the bill for Big Pharma, has cashed in his chips and taken a job as chief of The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

As shameless as the shilling is, as hard as it hits our seniors and the poor, perhaps the worst effect of this legislation is the dumping of the costs into the laps of the states. The Senators and Reps who voted for this outrage, knowing of its flaws, as a sop to the neo-cons in Washington are culpable and should be held accountable by the voters.

When you finish helping your mother get her medicine from the pharmacy after 10 days, when you've walked your grandfather through the maze of plans that may or may not offer what he needs, when you decide that government of big Pharma is not what Lincoln had in mind, then it's time to remember who brought this mess to your house.

Send a letter to thank Mark Green for this mess. Tell Paul Ryan that you think this is unacceptable. Give F Jim Sensenbrenner that you've had enough of his alliance with the business-as-usual crowd and against the people of Wisconsin. Hold them accountable and vote them out.

Forgive Me, Please, For the Random Neural Firings

When I saw this headline in the Journal, "Supreme Court upholds Oregon suicide law," my first thought was, "Great. Now Stoughton will want it, too."

I should have gone back to bed then.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Go. Tell Your Friends.

Taking Robola's admonition to heart, here is a link to his well-written summary of the Abramoff spin and anti-spin machine. No matter how hard some on the right attempt to smear the entire Congress with the detritus of this scandal, the simple fact remains that Jack Abramoff was a Republican fund raiser. Nevermind that some of his clients may have found it in their interests to donate to both parties. Jack Abramoff only gave his money to Republicans.

Robola orders his points and expands on them as he offers quotes from other sources.

From Bloomberg:

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates
and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show.

Abramoff’s tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he
began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past.

And from the LA Times:

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, 210
current members of Congress have received contributions from Abramoff, his
Indian tribe clients or SunCruz Casinos since 1999. Most received less
than $10,000, but 25 lawmakers received $21,500 or more. Twenty were Republicans
and five were Democrats, but none of the Democrats received money directly from

Wishing cannot make it so for the defenders of the DeLay/Abramoff cabal. This is a Republican scandal. As Robola says, "Go. Tell your friends." Don't let the repeated lie become the common knowledge again.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Comments On Comments- A Clarification

We have a new blog in Evansville. Chasing Ambulances In My Nightmares is a nominal Blawg, but I think time will actually tell here. Mason seems to have caught on to the comments?/no comments? question with the post I link to here.

This may be the perfect answer to the high and mighty who have refused comments at all or to the self-righteous who denounce name callers in their blog and then go on to call names of their own after they turn comments off. If he can maintain this for more than two days I predict he'll be on a lot of blogrolls in a week or two.

I'll just pop-up the link and let you chase it. It does carry a PG-13 warning (or it would if, you know, we did those sorts of things.)

Play Nice On the Monkey Bars

The Recess Supervisor is back after a week's absence. Speculation has been rampant that Playground Politics had fallen victim to a crackdown on Capitol blogging that took Capitol Curmudgeon away, seemingly for good. The RS is back with a post on lifting the School Choice Caps this afternoon.

Welcome back.

The Tao Of Steve- Foti Meets Martin

Steve Martin showed us all how to have a million dollars without paying taxes.

You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and
never pay taxes! You say.. "Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay
taxes?" First.. get a million dollars. Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to
the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?"
Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!" How many
times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I
forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I
forgot armed robbery was illegal." Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have
committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from
people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?" Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"

Now Steve Foti has used the same defense for his transgressions and, for some bloggers notably Ragnar Mentaire, that's enough. Foti said, in essence, "I didn't know."

For several years, I have allowed certain of my staff to participate in partisan
political activity without ensuring that taxpayer funds would not be utilized
for their compensation. Had I then recognized the illegality of that practice, I
could and should have prevented same.

I have to disagree with Mentaire. I liked Chuck Chvala. I'm sorry he did what he did. Now it's time for the accounting. Foti has had his chance just as Jensen will have his to defend his innocence.

"I didn't know." " I forgot." "Everybody else was doing it." Excuses don't feed the bulldog, a wise man once said. They broke the law. That's not Brian Blanchard's fault.

A Little Bit Of Puffery

I humbly submit my thanks to the good folks at WisOpinion.com for including this endeavor on their roll of Wisconsin political blogs. When I asked to be added I noted that I hoped to be somewhere in the middle but that I leaned left too often, too long.

I've found many of the blogs to which I link through this one site. I hope you'll look at their list and find favorites of your own as often as you click through my reading list.

Another Myth Exploded

A new study claims that reports of cannibalism among the Donner Party were overblown. One trapped group may or may not have partaken of one another. The other, with the Donners themselves, almost certainly did not.

Another Great American Myth falls by the wayside. But it still left us with these quotes from The Big Bus, one of the best/worst movies ever.

Dan: You eat one lousy foot
and they call you a cannibal. What a world!


Kitty Baxter: Dan's a good man, and he's never eaten a whole person in his entire life. (Spoken by someday First Lady Stockard Channing)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Selective Ignorance

One of the beautiful things about America and the choices we have is the ability to ignore so many things. If a magazine fails to catch my interest, I don't have to subscribe to it. If a TV show is icky or stupid (both very technical ratings terms, I assure you) I can turn my TV off. If a movie's subject isn't interesting to me or if it stars Michael Parre, I don't have to go.

One of the nice things about living in my little corner of the world is that I can regularly ignore Mark Belling. I don't even have to make a lot of effort to let him slide under my radar. His radio station is out of my market and his columns are seldom carried in any of the four newspapers that come to the house.

It's just that, every once in a while, a headline pops up on WisOpinion attached to his byline that makes me think I might want to not ignore him for a minute or two. It's kind of like forgetting that you don't like eggplant or avocados. Someone close to you may crave them 4 days out of 7 but you just can't keep them on your rather ample stomach.

The headline was "Sue-wee!" and It just made me want to see what he was going to add to the debate about the laws that protect consumers from companies that make products that are truly dangerous. Belling and I agree that lawnmower makers shouldn't be penalized if the neighbor picks it up to use as a hedge trimmer and that paint strippers used as hair dryers should qualify the user for a Darwin Award rather than a court award but he was off on a rant about trial lawyers, our governor and lead paint.

And he was on a roll. His dander raised, hackles askew he was preaching to his choir. Apparently he believes that only certain groups should be allowed to contribute to campaigns and that those who stand up for the consumer (for a fee) should be shut out of the political process. He worked himself into a Sykes-class dudgeon, spittle flecking the very words of his screed and then he sailed off into the part of the territory where the buses don't run.

...But some of that paint is still on the walls of older houses, especially in
urban areas like Milwaukee. Kids eat the chipped paint scraps and get poisoned, or so the theory goes... (emphasis added)

It would appear that this Limbaugh wannabe has found evidence to convince him that decades of studies showing the effects (pdf.) of lead paint on those who live in older houses are theories to be ignored along with evolution and gravity.

Well, now. Harrumph. I know who I'll be ignoring for a while longer.

Scott Walker Wants To Be Scary

The Scott Walker For Governor Website lists the reasons he thinks Dems and Doyle fear him. The best he can come up with for reasons is that one person who interviewed him is married to someone who ran for office in an opposing party 30 years ago and onbce lived in Berkeley.

I hate to be the one to break it to him but he didn't make me recoil in fear. He made me laugh like a little girl with that post. There is some news that makes me, and should make all thinking people, fear Scott Walker. Besides his documented lapses in judgement Walker believes that local governments are allowed to use deficit spending.

A newly found $2.3 million shortfall in the Milwaukee County Parks Department will mean that the county finishes in the red for the third straight year. Walker allowed the department to work off-book and officials thought the deficit would be on the order of $250,000. The fact that it is actually tenfold that leads me to believe they should have stuck with GAAP and kept it all on one set of books.

Walker wants the people of Wisconsin to believe his experience in leading Milwaukee County means he should be governor. Now that scares me.

A tip of the resistol to Xoff

Know Your Opposition

Richard Russell offers up a Field Guide To the Elephants which shows just how fragile the Gingrich coalition that makes up the Republican party actually is. He compares it to the Roosevelt Democrat coalition and offers insight into how today's Dems might benefit from the inherent fragility of governing coalitions.

We easily recognize that fragility in the governments of countries which have more than two viable parties. The subtle left/right shifts of interest groups mask it in our own.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Best Blonde Joke

Usually I'll change a joke some before I post. This time I have to leave it exactly alone.

Badger Blues has the Best Blonde Joke Ever. Check it out. Read all the way to the end.

Update: Sometimes it's in the way you tell a joke. I think Belle has an even better version of the same story.

How To Read The Foti Story

Most of the newspapers that I saw used the AP version of the story regarding Steve Foti's upcoming plea deal in the caucus Scandal. I wanted to help my readers to better understand this story as it's written. I have no reason to believe that the AP is anything other than accurate, but sometimes the nuances get left out.

The source said the deal includes a recommended jail sentence of 30 days, a
fine and an agreement to testify against Rep. Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha, also
charged in the probe.

This means that Brian Blanchard will be in a folding chair outside the booking room to make certain of the arrangements for Foti's accommodations. It also meant that one more seat on the Huber van over to the Capitol would be taken.

Foti's attorney Franklyn Gimbel had been trying to reach a deal with Dane County
District Attorney Brian Blanchard to settle the case without a felony
conviction. He has said a sticking point was Blanchard's desire to have Foti
testify against Jensen, ...

This means that, while Foti had no compunction against defrauding the citizens of the state and of his district, he is a little squeamish about telling the truth about one of his colleagues. A reputation for telling the truth in public can be bad for a lobbyist. All depends on how you do your lobbying.

Foti now works as a lobbyist, and a felony conviction could jeopardize that
career. Legislation is now pending that would prohibit felons from lobbying
lawmakers in Wisconsin.

Foti is worried that a new law could keep him out of the Capitol rather than any sense of decency or shame. He doesn't appear worried that potential clients would be embarrassed to have a felon as a spokesperson. He's well enough connected to the current lawmakers to let a client get past the smell.

I think we need a countdown pool on when Jensen drops the quest for a trial and cuts a deal of his own. I pick 71 hours before the court date is due. What's your guess?

It's A Good Day

We had a meeting at Blackhawk Tech on Thursday night and I found my first interdepartmental mail in my box. It was my teaching certificate from the state.

I'm officially a teacher now. It is a very good day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Law Of Improbable Dispersal

One of the many laws attributed to Murphy is the Law Of Improbable Dispersal. It stated that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. It's hard to not think of this as I watch the Republicans trying to smear Democrats with the Abramoff brush.

There are probably a few Dems out there who have been dining at Abramoff's trough and they need to go down if that's true. However we miss the point if we think all that money that Jack slopped around was distributed evenly.

It's becoming increasingly clear that a lot of politicians and political organizations saw some cash from one of the entities created by Abramoff. After all, that's what lobbyists do. What they shouldn't be doing is creating a skewed system which delivers government to the highest bidder. Abramoff's web of shell corporations and consultancies was put together to further the Republican cause, pure and simple.

Now that DeLay's influence is on the wane the corporation founded by his staffers to garner his influence is closing its doors. The duplicity of Ralph Reed is becoming clearer and his candidacy in Georgia is headed the same way.

The fact that money with the stink of scandal shows up in many campaign chests doesn't surprise anyone. The question is, "How did it get there?" Did a strong lobbying organization make a donation as part of their covering enterprise or did someone chase after it, slavering like a staffer after Wizard's tickets?

We can't let the "Everyone does it" crowd control this discussion. Everyone does not do it and we'll need to build on the strengths of the ones who did not seek Abramoff's advantages in either party if we're going to come out of this with a stronger democracy.

The difference between involvement and commitment is the difference between ham and eggs. The hen is involved. The hog is committed. There are a lot of committed Republicans in this mess.

Carnival of the Badger XXII- This Time It's Personal

Jenna over at Right Off the Shore hosts this week's Carnival Of the Badger and shows that the whole cheddarsphere is taking it personally.

The carnival is the place that brings together the best Badger blogging of the week. Next week the show travels over to From Where I Sit and after that it could be your turn to host. Just send an e-mail to Nick over in his world and all the glory could belong to you for one week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Feel The Power

This is starting to bother me a little. Timing is everything, I guess.

I post about a giving spirit. Republicans start giving to charity.

I make a post about Dick Cheney taking over the whip if there's an impeachment and he winds up in the hospital within the hour.

I post about Dennis York and Charlie Sykes each having a little purge and DY talks about packing it in again.

I report on the stupid thing Pat Robertson said last and his deal with Israel falls through.

It's almost enough to make me want to post about Ann Coulter getting a big honking wart on her nose.

Troubled Times- A List Of Questions

I'm not sure how to react. First we have three pipe bombs in the parking ramp closest to the government buildings in Madison and today we have a report of three suspicious objects dropped into the sewer system downtown.

This just feels hinky and wrong to me. Nevermind the thought that this stuff can't happen here. We've seen too often that it can. What kind of a twisted mind takes pleasure in this kind of activity?

Do we believe the authorities when they say that there is a level of disconnection between these incidents? Do you feel better thinking that there are more than one person doing stuff like this?

What's the motive? Where's the benefit? What the hell is the point? Is this some kind of sick joke? A protest against the Patriot Act and its purveyors? An object lesson by someone who hopes to see it tightened or by someone hoping to show its futility? Is it just some whackjob who likes to blow stuff up?

My first reaction is to ask, "Do I feel safer now than I did before?" Well, when I went to the Great Dane last Saturday I had the Beautiful Wife park outside the ramp.

My second is to wonder how long before we see the perfect headline, "Madison Police Find Pipe In Sewer."

That Pesky "Comments" Thingie

I don't much like it but I've had to add Word Verification to comments on THC. The bots have found me.

The one from Golf Instructor, I thought, was targeted at my backswing but the one from the UK mortgage site was just trolling. The one from Dale Jarret, or at least made in his name, disappointed me. I've met DJ and have trouble believing he'd condone the spamming.

Ah, well. They've gone bye-bye now, except the one that drew a comment of its own and we'll all have to put up with the scramble of random letters. I told you that I'd do my best to maintain a little decorum here.

To my regular readers, I apologize. To Mr Cheney, "I hope you're feeling better." Remember, GW is just one heartbeat away from running this country.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Priority Check

Our leaders promise us that no child will be left behind and yet we continue to get news like this.
Compare their efforts to relieve illiteracy with the effort in Iraq.

What would two trillion dollars buy in America? What would the return be? Why can we not see how our future is being squandered?

In The Big Picture It Means Nothing I Suppose

I hate myself for going here but so much has been made of it that I can't resist.

Did anyone else notice that Charlie Sykes purged his blogroll about the same time that Dennis York had a little purge of his own? Go ahead. You can find it without the link.


Three Chord Blogging

RJ Eskow has a post on HuffPo that compare bloglibs (you know who you are) to the Punk Rock scene. Consider it something to get the bad taste of Kathleen Parker's column out of your mouth.

History Repeats Itself, First As Tragedy, Second As Farce.

I'm starting to feel sorry for Jack Abramoff. He's living out one of my favorite songs. "What Have You Done For Me Lately," by Steve Goodman describes the short time that gratitude lasts.

Up until the wheels started to fall off Jack was one popular guy. His restaurant was packed with the powerful and the hangers-on of the powerful. His phones rang constantly, his e-mail buzzed and his picture hung in offices across Washington.
Now he sits alone, pondering a future that includes bed checks and pressed ham lunches and wonders where it all went.

There are those who say he brought it onto himself, that by bragging about his influence he made himself too large a target to ignore. A fall to hubris is one of the oldest themes in epic tragedy.

He was a hero of the administration, a Pioneer, perhaps a Ranger. These are the movers and shakers who traded money for access. They are the ones who bundled soft money for Bush-Cheney on the understanding that they could trade it for face time for clients. Chicago Shorty wrote that, with time, "Their faces grow long and their memories grow short." Bush claims that he wouldn't know Jack Abramoff and certainly never met him. His aide, Erin Healy, said Thursday that Bush didn't consider Abramoff a friend. "They may have met on occasion, but the president does not know him," she said.

A couple of hundred grand no longer makes an impression, I guess, on a President who squanders billions.

Mark Graul certainly sought favors from Abramoff and now says that he wouldn't know the man if he walked into the room. There is a word for someone who sells favors to a stranger for something of value, but I won't use it here because this is about the sorry state of Jack not the sorry state of Mark.

Abramoff becomes a tragic figure, not sympathetic but tragic, as he waits for the time to go Judas on those he thought were his friends. He's surely remembering the Old Testament now. Hosea railed against idolaters, those who would set up false gods, "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

I just think about Steve Goodman singing, "You cast your bread on the water and what do you get? A hard luck story and your bread gets wet." Jack is waiting now, wondering when the whirlwind is coming in earnest.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sic Transit G-L-O-R-I-A

I am soooo ready for racing season to get started. This story just slapped me awake last week.

Alan McNish is a Scotsman who has been racing since he was in his teens. He's been a test driver and Sunday driver for top Formula 1 teams, a LeMans Endurance Series winner and a veteran of many endurance races.

Boris Said is a NASCAR driver of some talent and the son of a racer. He's a two time Trans AM series champ and a two time Daytona 24 Hour winner.

Rusty Wallace is a veteran of more than 30 years of racing. He's been a winner in CARA, ASA, USAC and a Winston Cup Champion. Wallace has put together a team to tackle the 24 hours on the high banks of Daytona in three weeks. with these two drivers and one other.

What do the headlines say? "Danica Patrick to race in Rolex 24 At Daytona."

Rusty is a promoter and a hustler in the best sense of both. He knows what it takes to get attention from fans and sponsors. I hope they all have a good time and a safe weekend. The Daytona race has turned into a nail-biter the last two times it has run. Let's hope for that again.

Next Steps Question

I'm all for accountability in our elected officials. Don't misunderstand me. I just need a little clarification.

Are the folks calling for impeachment of GW Bush really willing to have control of the government fall into the lap of Dick Cheney?

Counting on the excitment of that to give him a coronary isn't anymore of an exit strategy than waiting to be hailed as liberators in Iraq was.

Sunday Afternoon Politics

Before the rise of the blogosphere, before Fox News, before the Internet if you wanted to get into a really good political tussle on a Sunday afternoon you had to play cards with your relatives.

Every family has a schism of some sort when it comes to what we now call red vs blue and my family is no different. One of my cousins is a sucessful businessman, a former player in the Thompson and Bush 41 arenas and a good card player. We started off yesterday with a short round of dancing around the Governor's race and came to the agreement that the GOP primary would be almost as ugly as homemade soap and that the general election would be worse.

After the preliminaries were out of the way we danced over to 2008. He said that he'd probably jump on the Giuliani horse early and I said that I wasn't ready to jump but that Feingold looked strong through the long glass. Then I pulled the Joker of wild-ass provocation out... I said that it wouldn't matter anyway, that we'd have an attack on the Sear's Tower before September so that the Fed could suspend elections and just prop George 43 up for the duration. His reaction was not the one I'd hoped for.

Nothing. No sputtering. No laughter. No nothing. Just the gentle flap of cards on a plastic tablecloth. My brother wasn't any help. "What's up with the Sear's Tower?" Ah, well. You can't have all winners. I couldn't draw a rise with the most idiotic assertion I could fabricate. Maybe I'll have to start thinking outside the box.

We got back to the task at hand and came to the sorry conclusion that it would most likely fall to Rudy and Hillary on the basis that all the country is essentially the same as NYC anyway. I just couldn't resist one last toss. "What about Feingold vs. Mitt Romney? Would a Jew running against a Mormon make James Dobson's head explode? Could you support that?" He just smiled and trumped my Ace.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Looking For the Wiggle Room

In his letter stating that he would not seek re-election as House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay said that he had, ""always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land. I am fully confident time will bear this out."

I'm not sure that's the same as always acting in an ethical manner (full stop.) Call me biased but if I hear someone say that his ethics were constrained by "just this set of rules" or "by the way we do things," then I'll be sure to count the silverware before they leave.

If you know the game is rigged and you helped write the rules of the rigged game then it's not enough to say that you followed the rules. C'mon, there's Ethics and then there's Moral Relativism. Right?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saturday Morning Housecleaning

I need to get a few reminders off my desktop. Excuse me for sweeping them in here.

Global Language Monitor Gives Bush Award: "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" won as President's most memorable phrase of 2005. GLM called it the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. Read about it here. Try to control your sobbing.

Does everyone have their Christmas lights down? At the very least, turned off? Random Yak offers a little incentive with a gallery of bad lights. Get the last of the Tom and Jerry batter out of the fridge and be thankful you don't live next to these folks.

In a real treat, John Leo wrote a column that didn't piss me off. He offers up the aphorisms of 2005 collected from across all forms of media. Some are profound, some disturbing, some will become classics, some should have been edited earlier. Check it out.

There. That should help clear things up around here. Next on the list is filling the bird feeders. I'll see you later.

A Short Mystery- What Happened To the Inner Voice?

One of the more peaceful parts of my day is the few minutes I spend at Richard Lawrence Cohen's blog. He supplies the moment of zen, the connection that calms my day.

Recently he offered a mystery of the wordy type. Enjoy

Friday, January 06, 2006

Too Quick By Far- Fitzgerald Boots One

Sen Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) Fired off a quick shot at Gov Doyle today regarding the mistaken enrollment of about 2100 Wisconsin seniors in Medicare Part D rather than Wisconsin's SeniorCare. Fitz lambasted Doyle for the switch in a Press Release:

"I am appalled that the Doyle Administration would kick more than two thousand
eligible seniors out of the SeniorCare program without notice," Fitzgerald said.
"It is unconscionable that the state would force these seniors into a new
prescription drug program without notice and without offering them any
assistance in selecting the Medicare Part D plan which best suits their needs."

"To forcibly remove eligible seniors from SeniorCare and enroll them in Medicare
without notice, consultation or assistance is beyond comprehension," Fitzgerald said. Governor Doyle should apologize to the 2,200 people, reinstate their SeniorCare benefits and explain publicly why he directed DHFS to take such drastic, indefensible action."

Blogger Brian Fraley piled on Doyle while stating that "...I personally think we're foolishly subsidizing the pharmaceutical industry with some of these programs." Fraley went on to state that the administration was wrong to change the coverage arbitrarily and secretively.

Except it wasn't true. The Doyle administration had been trying to keep the federal program from usurping the benefits of some 2100 Wisconsin seniors for the last month without luck. Their press release posted on Wisopinion.com made this clear. When the facts were made clear to Fitzgerald he issued a statement blaming his office for the confusion and offering his help to resolve the issue.

I think that they'll do just fine without him.

Update: This post has been edited due to a factual error. I made the error. I corrected the error. I apologize to Tom Reynolds for stating that the press release was his.

Local Election News

Evansville alder Fred has posted a quick look at the upcoming local elections on his blog. I've also included a link or two to the Evansville Observer that may help local voters. Those of you from Waukesha County may look at your navels for a few minutes. The rest of you are excused.

Council to meet re: Primary Election for Mayor, Jan 6.

The official list of City candidates is here.

Carnival of the Badger XXI/ The Sick Version Is Up

Nick has this week's CoB up over in his world and it's full of flying things. Pink elephants, toothy bats, reindeer and Kleenex all fly over the best of the Cheddarsphere.

Next week Jenna takes the Carnival to Madison in Right Off the Shore.

Pat Robertson Opens His Mouth- Something Stupid Comes Out

Right-wing millionaire/preacher Pat Robertson calls Ariel Sharon's stroke and brain hemorrhage God's retribution for dividing Israel. No mention was made of other contributing factors such as Sharon's weight, physical condition, age or diet.

God could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It's A Runaway Hit

"Why can't I quit you?"

Okay, I got it from Sadie who got it from American Idle via Wonkette. The Lobbying That Dares Not Speak Its Name, indeed.

A Question For A Fired Head Coach

Can I have your tickets, Mike?

Giving Response Warms the Heart

It's gratifying to me to see a post serve as a call to action, to see ordinary people respond quickly in a concrete way to carry out my suggestions. I had just only published a plea to let the Holiday Spirit carry on now that the holidays are over. Never did I imagine that people in the highest places of government would take up my suggestion and begin to act so quickly on it. And now we see all of these people in a giving mood.

The Bush campaign gives thousands to the American Heart Association.

Montana Congressional delegation returns funds.

Dennis Hastert makes a $70,000 contribution to unnamed charities.

Istook, Dorgan, and Brownback all took to heart the message to give a little something back.

How long before Mark Green and Paul Ryan get into the spirit of post-holiday giving?

Update: Roy Blunt shares the love, Bob Ney gives $6500 to the American Indian College Fund, keeps $7000 for hinself, and Texas Tom sees the light and gives till it hurts. link

Update II: Paul Ryan finds $949 to give to USO Operation Phone Home, which provides calling cards for soldiers to call home from abroad, and to the Bert Blain Memorial American Heart Association Heart Walk. He's still looking for the $25,ooo that Cadillac Jack funneled through Texas Tom and TRMPAC. (H/T to Xoff)

Impolite T-Shirt--Funny, But Rated R

Rae over at Crawford's Take has a link to the funniest t-shirt of the moment. Unfortunately this will bring about more indignation than the events that precipitated it.

I Wonder If My Daughter's Husband Knows

Okay. I'll admit it. I was, apparently, a bad father. I allowed...no. I encouraged my daughter to play with Barbie when she was little. As she grew older I actually (put down the torches and pitchforks) purchased for her the special Holiday Barbie.

I didn't know. It was a simpler time back those 20 years ago. We didn't have the Internet to tell us how very wrong we were. Thank heaven the CWA is around now to tell us that Barbie causes gender confusion in pre-schoolers and promotes h***sex****ty. Barbie didn't have a web site for making people queer back then but she must have had an agenda. How else can you explain those gowns?

I'll apologize to my daughter as soon as I can.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Paul Soglin Made Me Do It

Well, not really. Paul has just made Waxing America a clearinghouse for "Coulter Got It Wrong" stories and I just wanted to add one of my own from the CBC.

Update: Okay, it's a bad link. But if you right click and open in a new window it should open.

Statute Of Limitations

Our Christmas tree has joined several others from the neighborhood out on the curb. My lovely wife isn't a believer in leaving it up for too long. There should be a time for decorations to be down and put away, after all.

A friend of mine always left the lights draped on his front steps all year. He'd put in red and white for St Valentine's Day or green and white for St Patricks Day. I think he skipped St Swithin's Day. That brought new definition to the whole "Holiday Lights" argument.

Some icons of the season are best put away sooner rather than later. There's a Santa down the street that's taken on a distinct Detroit lean. The interior light can't make the corner so his beard never did light properly. Now, a week after Christmas he's just a wobbly fat man with a brown beard in a bad red suit. He needs to be down.

Snowmen have a longer shelf life. They can stay up until the Winter Wonderland wears out its welcome. By the time the boy's basketball tourney rolls into town the snowmen are just a mirror of the gray slush hanging from the wheel wells of the Buick. Frosty the Fenderberg, as it were.

Some of the holiday spirit should last longer, though. There are no good reasons to let that feeling of goodwill to fade along with the taking down of lights. Let this be the time to decide to make a difference by committing to a local effort to make life better. If you need some suggestions here are mine. (If you think you don't, please reread the paragraph above.)

  1. Literacy. There are literacy programs in most every county and they need your help. Two or three hours a week can be the difference in helping someone to learn to read a story to their grandchild or to help someone get the job that takes them off the public dole and lets them support their family. To find the program nearest you contact Wisconsin Literacy in Madison. They can connect you with a local program that needs your help.
  2. American Red Cross. Still the big mack daddy of helping people. They are always in need of donations of money, of blood, and of time. Give freely of all of these. There is still no better way to turn your good intentions into good works than the Red Cross. You say you have a problem with the Red Cross? Get over yourself. People need your help. Now.
  3. The Heifer Project. This one requires money more than involvement but is a great way to involve friends and family. Your donation buys an animal to help a family become self sufficient. Whether you donate enough for a heifer or for a hutch of rabbits you can make a difference.
  4. Your local community fund. Every town has one. They go by many names. They always need help. It's a great way to meet your neighbors and for you to do those things you've always said, "Somebody oughtta do." Let it be you.

Just because the tinsel is ground into the carpet and Dick Clark is back in storage doesn't mean that the spirit of giving should stop. There is no statute of limitations on the holiday spirit. Jacob Marley told me so.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It Makes A Difference

Sportswriter David Poole helped to make a fine distinction in an article about NASCAR champion Tony Stewart. "It's easy to get into a rut and think that you've gotten your rhythm."

Check once in a while to see where you're at. If you have to stand on tip-toe to see over the edge, you're probably in a rut.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It's Not Too Late

Happy New Year. Welcome 2006. It is now officially too late for some things.
  1. It's too late to pay your property taxes for 2005.
  2. It's too late to be named Time's Person of the Year 2005.
  3. It's too late to go to rodeo clown school. (Trust me on this. Have you looked at your ass in a mirror since the Henderson's Christmas party? You ain't gonna be able to wear the barrell.)
  4. It's too late to stop smoking in 2005.
  5. It's too late to follow the Dead on tour. (Way too late. Stop thinking about it.)

However, we now have a brand shiny new year to play with and that gioves us all kinds of time to do some things.

  1. Say, "I love you." Be sincere and grateful and say it often.
  2. Say, "Thank you." See #1
  3. Make a difference. Find a cause and promote it. Volunteer your time. A check is good but it's not enough.
  4. Teach someone. Help them learn to read or to read signs in the wooods. You'll both be better.
  5. Stop whining. You're not helping anyone. Help find a solution and fix it.
  6. Think twice before you speak. It's never too late for that.

Everything Old Is New Again

Animus toward the French. Discussion of the place in society of working women. Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas.

All in the spirit of year-end review? Yes. This year? No.

Richard Lawrence Cohen takes a look back at the year that was 1932. Visit it here.