Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Progressive talk coming to town via Chicago

I come out of retirement briefly to announce a victory of sorts in the quest for progressive talk radio in MKE. Chicago's WCPT-AM is moving from 850AM to 820AM.

It's still a daytime only station, but the move greatly expands its reach allowing Milwaukeeans to receive it on their radios.

Read more at the station's website.


Videos to watch

Thanks to all who have contacted me following the announcement that I'm taking time off from blogging. Here are a few videos I'd like to leave you with.


Closing a chapter

Four years ago, I started up Brewtown as a general blog about politics, sports, and pop culture from a Milwaukee perspective. Over time, it evolved into its current incarnation with an emphasis on politics.

Since I've started the site, the Iraq war started, the 2004 election occurred, and the Democrats took back Congress among other developments. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have taken the time to visit this site over the years. Hopefully, it has had something to offer you and has played a small part in raising issues and moving our community and country forward.

With that, Brewtown Politico is going into hiatus. I have ideas in mind for my next venture, but haven't decided whether it'll be a blog or something different. I'll continue to see some of you down at Drinking Liberally, and elsewhere. Until then, best wishes.


Hegerty out in November

Milwaukee's police chief Nan Hegerty announced today that she will resign in November.

She has served in that position since being appointed in 2003. It appears that Hegarty has had strained relations with the rank and file, and Mayor Tom Barrett. The Frank Jude beating was the beginning of the end, and now the Fire and Police Commission and the mayor will have some time to consider a new candidate.

The police chief can't control everything. Considering how many of today's violent crimes are being committed by people with obvious anger management issues, the problem has to be confronted on multiple levels. A new police chief can raise the bar though, and set a new course for dealing with the problem.


Heh, nice.

Tim Grieve posts this bit on Salon today:

From the "Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out" Department, the New York Post reports that incoming House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel has sent Dick Cheney packing from his "palatial" digs just off the House floor.

The office has traditionally belonged to the Ways and Means Committee chairman, but Republicans lent it to Cheney when he became vice president. According to the Post, Rangel was so eager to oust Cheney from the space that he sought approval for the move from Nancy Pelosi within hours after the polls closed in November.

The Vice President is the president of the Senate under the Constitution, and has an office on that side of the Capitol, but he has no business occupying office space on the other end in the People's House. Well done.

Quote of the Day: McGovern edition

"I have to tell you something I've never said before publicly. I voted for him in 1976." -George McGovern

McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, was on Larry King Live this week talking about the late Gerald Ford.

Hat tip to Political Wire


MN Congressman will use Koran at swearing in

Incoming Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) will use a Koran rather than a Bible at his swearing-in on Thursday. He is the first Muslim member of Congress, and will get to use a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Rep. Virgil Goode, a Virginia Republican who represents the area where Jefferson lived, was one of those who criticized Ellison for wanting to use the Koran, calling for strict immigration policies specially crafted to keep Muslims out of the United States.

The English translation of the Koran from Jefferson's collection dates to the 1750s. Jefferson sold his collection to the U.S. Congress after its library was lost when the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. Much of his collection was destroyed in an ensuing fire in 1851 but the Koran that Ellison will use survived, Dimunation said.


Edwards on Hardball

I'm not backing a horse in the 2008 race yet, mostly because we don't yet know who all the candidates are. That being said, John Edwards is already running an aggressive campaign and engaging voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and across the country. ConnecticutBLOG captured a recent appearance on Hardball.

Edwards has also cleverly coined the phrase "McCain Doctrine" to describe the push to substantially increase US forces in Iraq.


Disputed Florida race not over yet

Looks like the Florida Congressional election with 18,000 missing votes will be taken up by the House of Representatives.

Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who has pushed for better safeguards on electronic voting machines, said on Friday he would make a procedural point to establish the swearing-in of Florida Republican Vern Buchanan does not prejudice ongoing challenges by his Democratic opponent, Christine Jennings.

"This is a district, Sarasota area in Florida, where there's no way of knowing whether the result presented by Florida's secretary of state is valid. In fact, I think there is significant evidence that it is not," Holt told reporters.

Buchanan was certified the winner of the November 7 election by a 369-vote margin. Oddly, about 18,000 ballots in Sarasota County had no votes recorded for the disputed House race, while other races on those ballots were voted on.

The disputed Florida seat had been held by Republican Rep. Katherine Harris (news, bio, voting record), the former Florida secretary of state who certified George W. Bush as the winner of the disputed 2000 presidential race in Florida over
Al Gore.


CIA officer: Saddam will be a martyr

Former CIA field officer Robert Baer has an editorial on Time's website speaking to how Sunnis will view the era of Saddam Hussein following his execution.

"It doesn't matter to the Sunni that Saddam is guilty of the crime he's charged with: the massacre of 140 Shi'a villagers in 1982 in reprisal for an attempt on Saddam's life. At the risk of oversimplification, the Sunnis think the Shi'a villagers deserved it. It was that kind of rough justice that Saddam used to keep Iraq together.

Nor do the Sunni care that Saddam is guilty of a lot more bloodshed, from gassing the Kurds at Halabjah to the invasion of Kuwait. Nor do they care he was a catastrophically incompetent leader who more than the United States led to their downfall.

All they care about is this: as the current war grinds on, as Iraq's death toll starts to approach Saddam's deadly legacy, as the Sunnis lose more and more of their power, as memories fade, Iraq's Sunni will think of Saddam's rule as a golden era. They'll remember Saddam as the leader who kept Iraq together, kept them on top and prosperous, kept the Shi'a and the Kurds in their place, and kept the Iranians from invading during the Iran-Iraq war."

AG rules ban doesn't apply to partner benefits

Outgoing Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued decision that the amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions that passed in November doesn't apply to domestic partnerships in the state.

Madison officials had inquired about this since domestic partner benefits are offered to city employees. As the article mentions, Lautenschlager's declaration is advisory, but courts often rely on such opinions to render decisions.


Quote of the Day: Ford on Iraq edition

"I don't think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," Ford said, "I don't think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer."
-President Gerald Ford

Ford revealed his opposition to Bush's invasion of Iraq in a 2004 interview with journalist Bob Woodward . The interview was "embargoed" until Ford died earlier this week.


RIP President Ford

Former President Gerald Ford has died.

In 1974, then Vice President Ford succeeded Richard Nixon who resigned following the Watergate scandal. Ford had been appointed to the job of VP after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading no context to tax evasion making him the only unelected president in American history. Until then, Ford had served in the House of Representatives as a Congressman from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 93.


The Mic stays put

Clear Channel has reversed its decision to convert Madison's progressive talk station to a sports format after a backlash from listeners.

The ratings have been good for the station. Criticism has been directed towards those who haven't done an adequate job of selling commercial time to support it.


Let this be a lesson

Former State Senate candidate Donovan Riley will pay a $10,000 fine, and surrender his law licenses in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

Riley, a Wisconsin resident who worked in both states, was found to have voted in both Wisconsin and Illinois in the 2000 election.

Worth the price? Not so much.

La la la

"We're not winning, we're not losing."

There's your commander in chief George Bush, Jr. after only last month saying that we were winning in Iraq. Rather than exhibit leadership, he's been the cheerleader who is years behind coming to grips with his failed crusade.

In the meantime, even the conservative National Review columnist Rich Lowery is conceding what many war supporters have been denying for too long:
"Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war."


Battle: 1 War: 0

For the supporters of the marriage amendment in November's election, civil unions are not dead in Wisconsin like many of them had hoped. While the amendment did include civil unions, the debate goes on. From the Cap Times:

Young voters - particularly college students - tended to be overwhelmingly against the amendment, and heavy turnout on some UW campuses was credited with helping Democrats regain control of the state Senate.

"Everybody looks at this and feels it's just a matter of time. Young people clearly don't have the same" views as older voters, Doyle said. "It's a generational thing."

The fact that young people are much more supportive of civil unions and gay relationships in general means as time goes on, civil unions will likely be recognized in Wisconsin despite the wishes of those kicking and screaming into the modern era.


2006 in review: Jib Jab style

Jib Jab reviews 2006 in its latest cartoon.

Ah, what a year.


Midwest buyout is bad for city and state

AirTran is taking the won't-take-no-for-an-answer approach to its bid to buy out locally owned Midwest Airlines. Joe Leonard, Airtran's CEO, was in town Thursday schmoozing with local leaders to make the deal sound like a win-win for Midwest customers.

I have nothing against AirTrain. They've carved out a niche as a budget airline, and have done quite well. However, as any Milwaukeean who flies out of Mitchell airport knows, Midwest offers Milwaukee direct flights to a lot of cities. Many of these routes would be at risk with a buyout from an outside firm. Also, as someone who is on the taller side, Midwest's four across seating is a godsend.

Add to that the fact that a buyout would result in Milwaukee losing another major local company to an outside buyer, and I think you can count it as a net loss for the community.

Full disclosure: A few more flights on Midwest, and I'll be eligible for a free roundtrip ticket.


Sen. Johnson recovering from surgery

The AP is reporting that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) is in critical condition following emergency surgery. He suffered bleeding in the brain caused by a congenital condition.

Johnson's condition, also known as AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large and become tangled.

The condition is believed to affect about 300,000 Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The institute's Web site said only about 12 percent of the people with the condition experience symptoms, ranging in severity. It kills about 3,000 people a year.

It sounds like he's doing well from the report. The story is making big news, because if Johnson needed to be replaced, Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) would likely name a Republican giving control back to the GOP in the Senate. As happened after the 2000 election, a 50-50 tie would give the deciding vote to Vice President Dick Cheney.


Dems freeze earmark spending

This is a good thing. Appropriations chairmen Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) have said earmark requests from Senate and House members will be frozen until appropriate lobbying reforms are passed.

Congress adjourned Saturday after failing to finish its work on the 2007 budget. Work will have to be completed on it in January when control of the House and Senate is turned over to the Democrats.

Hat tip One Wisconsin.

Cheney's search keywords

Vanity Fair speculates on what Dick Cheney's searches on Google may be on his computer.

My favorite: bunker refurbish HDTV


Time to educate politicians on Islam

First it was President Bush not knowing the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Now we have future House Intelligence Chairman Sylvester Reyes (D-TX) thinking that al Qaeda is predominantly made up of Shi'ites.

"Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said in a recent interview with Congressional Quarterly, a periodical that covers political and legislative issues in Congress.

Unfortunately for Reyes, the al Qaeda network led by
Osama bin Laden is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

Many Americans don't know the distinction either, but they're not the ones in charge of intelligence gathering and foreign policy in this country.


Cool photo blog

I came across this site today while aimlessly websurfing with my morning coffee.

Even if you haven't lived there or visited, the New York Daily Photo has some great snapshots of life in this great city.


Jim gets demoted

Outgoing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will relinquish the gavel when the Republicans become the minority party in January. He was reportedly seeking a position as the Ranking Member on the committee in the new Congress. Unfortunately for Jim, that position will go to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

To add insult to injury, Sensenbrenner didn't get a Ranking Member on any other committees. He has been serving in the House of Representatives since 1979.

WisPolitics has the list of new Ranking Members in PDF format.

Crossposted at Sensenbrenner Watch.



"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved."

From the opening of the Iraq Study Group report's Executive Summary.


Thank you Lincoln Chafee

Sen. John Bolton has resigned as Ambassador to the United Nations. He was given a recess appointment to the job two years ago after the US Senate refused to confirm him.

With the Senate wrapping up business under Republican control, George W. Bush had called for Bolton to be renominated for the job. Outgoing Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee which has jurisdiction over the matter, publically opposed Bolton. This led to the committee headed by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) refusing to hold a vote on the nomination once it became clear the votes weren't there for an endorsement.


Sporadic blogging ahead

I have to head out of town for work for the next week so blogging may be sparse.

For now, I leave you with a fascinating Charlie Rose show about the human brain. It covers a wide range of subjects ranging from the psychotherapy of Freud to perception and cutting edge brain research.

A stupid debate

I have to wonder what it is with guys like Rush Limbaugh, President Bush, and others insisting that the Democratic Party be called the Democrat Party. Here's what Limbaugh was saying on his show yesterday about the matter.

"Well, uh, ladies and gentlemen, they are not the Democratic Party. I know what they're trying to accomplish here. They're attempting to kill two birds with one stone by having the title of their party have Democrat as a root word, but Democratic itself is a word that conveys action and conveys philosophy and conveys behavior, all of these things, versus the Republican Party."

Who is this they he refers to? It has been called the Democratic Party since the days of President Andrew Jackson in the 1820s. Democrats are members of the Democratic Party. Check your dictionary, Rush. You too can learn English despite your self-inflicted hearing loss.
"Is it really fair for one party to have a title or a name that implies they are a certain kind of people at the exclusion of all other political parties? That's why they want this to be utilized in that way, because it implies something, it states something about them that it doesn't state about the Republicans."

Wow, jealous much? If the Republican strategy has devolved into ideas like not acknowledging the very name of the opposition party, no wonder they lost control of Congress.


A WWI movie worth seeing

I received Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) from Netflix and watched it tonight.

It was released last year, and is based on the true story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. During World War I, on Christmas Eve of that year, a group of Scottish, German, and French soldiers called a cease fire for the evening so they could observe the holiday, share gifts, have mass together, and bury their dead.

The characters in the film speak in English, German, and French with subtitles where they're appropriate.