Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


It looks like Air America's site has been overwhelmed with traffic today which is making it difficult to listen to. No worries. You can also tune in via KPOJ in Portland, Oregon.


The liberal radio network Air America launches Wednesday in New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and XM Satellite Radio channel 167.

The main attraction of the various shows on the network is comedian Al Franken's show the O'Franken Factor. It will be interesting to see how the network does. In the past, skeptics have panned the idea of liberal radio citing that liberals are too nice, too open minded on issues, and not entertaining enough to make it on radio. The Air America network will be a big test to disputing that idea.

From my perspective, there's a huge market not being served here. In the past, I've asked myself just how many more Rush-clones do we need before some investor takes a stab at something new? While the network doesn't have a Milwaukee affiliate, it is on Chicago's WNTD (950 AM), and will be available via streaming audio at Air America's website.

As tax day nears, here's some more on everyone's favorite issue. When it comes to tax policy, what really needs to happen is we need to simplify our tax law. I'm not talking about a flat tax. On the contrary, I think we should maintain a progressive tax system, but eliminate many of the ridiculous tax shelters that exist.

In reforming tax laws, we're also going to have to deal with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Created in 1970 after it was discovered that many high-income households hadn't paid income taxes in years, the AMT is increasingly affecting middle income households, something it was never intended to do.

Two is Enough: Why large families don't deserve tax breaks. By Dalton Conley over at Slate.

Conley is the author of a book called The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why. The main thrust of his article is that government shouldn't be encouraging large families through tax policy. This argument brought to mind the idea that many had in the past about social welfare payments based on the number of kids one had (remember President Reagan complaining about welfare queens). Funny that the crybabies on the right don't complain about this sort of social engineering, but then again I guess they're not seeking out the "poor vote."


Big developments in the Milwaukee mayoral race today as Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt was hit with five civil charges for violating campaign finance laws. Pratt responded at a press conference claiming full responsibility for the mistakes his campaign had made, but then charged that this course of events has been politically motivated. My first response would be that if Pratt is claiming full responsibility for his violating the law, he shouldn't try to claim that this all happened as a result of some sort of conspiracy against him.

This comes on the heels of a new poll put out by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel over the weekend showing that 44% plan to vote to elect Pratt, 44% will vote for former Congressman Tom Barrett, and 12% are undecided. In just over a week, those undecided voters will get to decide who the next mayor of Milwaukee is. The speculation is that turnout may actually be lower than it was in the mayoral primary since it fell on the same day as the Democratic presidential primary. Like any tight race, this one is going to come down to which campaign is better organized at getting its supporters to the polls.


Tony Kornheiser ended his run today as a talk show host on ESPN Radio. The show was available in Milwaukee on Sports Radio 1510.

The Tony Kornheiser Show changed the nature of sports talk radio. Rather than endless sports geek talk about third round draft picks, Kornheiser mixed sports with pop culture, politics and his own unique sense of humor. His guests consisted primarily of sports journalists rather than athletes which was a good idea considering most athletes are pretty boring to listen to as they typically talk endlessly in cliches.

Mr. Tony will be hard if not impossible to replace on the radio. He'll still be available to his fans on ESPN shows like Pardon the Interruption and Dream Job and in his Washington Post column. For fans and the curious, be sure to check out some of the entertaining audio clips from the show available on the ESPN Radio site.

"If you're out on your bike tonight, do wear white." -Tony Kornheiser


I haven't commented on the Milwaukee mayoral race in a few weeks so I thought I'd consume a few lines of text on that. It's safe to say that Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt has run one of the worst campaigns for local office I've ever seen.

First, Pratt's campaign has a $116,000 discrepency in its financing reports (a huge sum in a Milwaukee mayoral race). Then come reports that the District Attorney's office has opened a John Doe investigation into this matter.

If that wasn't bad enough, other signs of Pratt's inability to manage money came to light with news of his not paying the YMCA for a trip to Africa he took in 2001, and that the American Jewish Committee paid for a junket to Israel in 2002. More details are available at the website Waiting for Marvin.

The election is a week from Tuesday on April 6. I believe Pratt's opponent Tom Barrett is going to win this election, because of his integrity as a local leader. Barrett served the area well in the state legislature, and when he was in Congress. The city would do well to elect him the next mayor of Milwaukee.

Claim vs. Fact: Administration Officials Respond to Richard Clarke Interview.

The Center for American Progress has compiled a response to the White House's attempted character assasination of Richard Clarke. This White House and those who carry its water continually refuse to engage on the issues. Their first instinct is always to destroy the messenger rather than the message. Once they've weakened their prey, then perhaps they respond to the issues at hand.

We've seen this repeatedly over the past few years when dealing with criticism from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

There's another good article by Fred Kaplan at Slate explaining why Clarke has been effective in his message. The Bush Administration is deeply worried about the impact of these recent events, because their integrity on the issue of fighting terrorism is vanishing.


With all the attention given to the Supreme Court hearing the case on the Pledge of Allegiance, I thought it'd be a good time to dig up the origins of the pledge.

As Professor Baer points out in that second link, a socialist named Francis Bellamy came up with the first version of the pledge in 1892 for a Boston family magazine to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' disovering America. The magazine was selling flags to American schools and as a result of this new pitch, they sold flags to about 26 thousand schools by 1892.

You can read the article for further details, but as most people know, the clause "under God" was added later by Congress and President Eisenhower in 1954. The Supreme Court is going to decide the case involving the California school in the coming months.

Whatever the outcome of that case, I think it's safe to say the pledge has been excessively politicized over time, and is damaged goods as a result. Perhaps this wouldn't have happened if the words "under God" weren't added in the first place, or maybe the problem started with the creation of the pledge itself. I agree with Professor Baer on this point. I think it's time we stop merely pledging allegiance to a flag. Rather, let us pledge to uphold the United States Constitution and fight for the rights it guarantees within it.

Sacramento Kings' 29-game home winning streak against the East brutalized by the Milwaukee Bucks.


One can tell that Richard Clarke's accusations have the Bush Administration worried. As could be predicted, their cronies have responded by attacking the messenger rather than admitting they've made mistakes in the past.

Judging by how the White House has reacted to the smoke of these charges (the vice president going on Limbaugh's radio show to receive softball questions), it looks like there's plenty of fire here.

Josh Marshall has done some good writing on this, and I encourage people to check out Talking Points Memo as this story develops.


Former Bush anti-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke's take on terror.

In his book, Clarke charges that the Administration ignored al Qaeda before 9/11, and says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted to focus on Iraq directly following the attacks.

Clarke will be interviewed tonight on Charlie Rose.


Could Stern's anti-Bush rants shock the vote?


McCain Says Kerry Not Weak on Defense

The Bush campaign wants to dumb down the issues. They don't want people to think about the nature of Congressional debate. Thankfully, there are still Republicans like Sen. McCain who don't believe it's necessary to resort to this sort of pandering.

It's no conincidence that the Bush campaign hasn't responded to Sen. Kerry's call for a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Obviously it's because they know the president would fail if he had to operate outside of soundbite style "gotcha" politics.

Wisconsin State Rep Johnsrud retires, says part of reason is GOP pandering to "right-wing zealots"

Another sensible Republican legislator bites the dust. Editorial at


Bush campaign close to writing off state as Democratic turf

Conservative columnist Bob Novak laments the fact that Illinois is increasingly becoming a solid Democratic voting state.


Obama, Ryan Win Ill. Senate Nominations

"CHICAGO - State Sen. Barack Obama, a former civil rights lawyer seeking to become just the third black U.S. senator in a century, easily won the Democratic primary Tuesday, setting up a high-stakes fall race with Republican Jack Ryan that could decide who controls the Senate."

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican elected to the Senate in 1994, is retiring. While Illinois has historically been a moderate swing-state, it's leaned Democratic recently. The state's senior senator Dick Durbin is a Democrat, the governor Rod Blagojevich is a Dem, and the legislature is also controlled by the party. This is a seat the Democratic Party should be able to pick up in the fall.

State mistakenly destroys records from Gov. Thompson's administration

Whoops. Whoever is responsible for this commited a major mistake. Assembly Speaker John Gard wants an investigation into the incident, but I don't suspect any foul play here. After all, Thompson's political enemies would probably rather have all the records available so the public has the ability to learn how Thompson was a shill for lobbyists like the roadbuilders.

From the article, it looks like mostly constituent correspondence was lost, but it's still a shame to lose materials from a notable Wisconsin governor like Tommy Thompson.


McCain tells baseball: Act on steroids

It's time for the player's union to act in the best interests of the game and for the health of the players themselves. I should've posted this last week, but better late than never.

NPR's Talk of the Nation did a feature on Internet animation this past Friday.

In addition to the audio of the story, there are links to amusing animation like Homestar Runner and the End of the World.

Check it out to brighten your Monday. I stumbled across it today while trying to take my mind off this nasty cold I've come down with. Enjoy.


Manhole covers in Milwaukee are being swiped at an alarming pace

More Tommy, less tummy

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson sets a personal goal for anti-obesity cause.

Socialists Oust Spain's Ruling Party.

The upset victory over the conservative Popular Party just three days after the tragic railway bombing that killed 200 people.

Staffers Challenge

The Discovery Channel came up with a nice little flash game to coincide with its upcoming documentary entitled Staffers which airs this week.


Bush Administration Ordered Medicare Costs Withheld - Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau

"WASHINGTON - The government's top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan."


Kerry Comment Riles Bush Campaign


The Daily Brew takes on the Bush campaign's claim that the president has used "steady leadership in times of change."

Today's Journal Sentinel reports that Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt's campaign has a $116,000 discrepency in his campaign finance reports.

The UWM Panthers lost 65-62 to UIC last night in the Horizon League Championship. It was a tough loss for a team and a school that badly wanted a second consecutive shot in the NCAA tournament. A primary problem for the Panthers was they only made 8 out of 20 free throws. They were solid from the 3 point line, but had trouble with field goals.

Today, a consolation prize came in the form of the Marquette Golden Eagles losing to TCU 64-62. The speculation now begins as to the possibility of the two Milwaukee teams meeting in the first or second round of the NIT. The brackets will be announced Sunday.

Study: We're Eating Ourselves to Death

Thanks to Brad for the link.


UWM Hosts Title Game Tuesday.

For the second straight year, my Panthers are hosting the Horizon League Championship game at the US Cellular Arena. The winner will advance to the NCAA Tournament. While I enjoy seeing NBA games at the Bradley Center, there's nothing like a packed house at the old Arena.

Standing in the Panthers' way to the big dance is conference rival UIC. If you're not able to go, you can catch the game on ESPN Tuesday night at 8pm CST.


No Brewers games on over-the-air television this year.

For the first time in Milwaukee Brewers history, there will be no games featured on over-the-air stations. All 115 televised games will be available via cable or satellite on Fox Sports Net. It seems to be the trend as the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres already feature games only on cable/satellite.

It's unfortunate that 27% of households in southeastern Wisconsin won't be able to watch the Brewers on television especially when the team is trying to grow their fan base. Then again, maybe I'm just annoyed, because I don't have cable.

Petri, Feingold Resolution Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Republican Party

The party began 150 years ago in Ripon, Wisconsin. Republican Congressman Tom Petri has introduced a resolution in the House, while Democratic Senator Russ Feingold has introduced the Senate version.

Legal delays hold up Hobbit film.

While New Line holds the rights to make the Hobbit movie, MGM which holds the distribution rights to it. Personally, I think the Hobbit would make a great film, especially if it's done stylistically like the recently completed Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel would have turned 100 this past Tuesday.

He changed forever how children's books were written, and he made it fun for adults to read them too. Thanks to Jay for reminding me of the good doctor's birthday. US Job Growth Anemic in February.

There's been a negative backlash toward the ads President Bush is using. The television spots, which started airing this week, feature footage of the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks.

The point of the ads is to link the president to the events surrounding 9/11. Regardless of the ads or how people feel about them, this president is linked with those events, just as President Wilson will be forever linked with World War I and the League of Nations. Most people probably expected the president to utilize this event as it's been well known he would be running a campaign focused on national security.

To me, it's not the ads that are offensive. The real shamelessness comes in September when the Republican National Convention takes place in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden. Normally the convention would take place in August, but it was pushed back to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Unlike traditional party conventions, this one will feature events at several sites outside MSG, at locations like Central Park and Ellis Island.

I'm not convinced Americans won't see through this charade and reject the president for this pandering. Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks like he wants to minimize his role in this affair.


The late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun's papers have been made public at the Library of Congress. Manuscripts, videos, and other documents are now available for viewing in the LOC's Manuscript Division Reading Room in Washington, DC.

Blackmun was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1970 and served on the Supreme Court until 1994. He died in 1999 at the age of of 90. Blackmun's best known for writing the majority opinion in the landmark Roe v. Wade case which granted women the right to legal abortion.

More information about Blackmun is available at the PBS Newshour website.

Former astronaut and US Senator John Glenn criticizes President Bush's space plan.

"We have projects that are planned or in the queue now, projects that people -- academics and laboratories and companies -- have spent millions of dollars to get ready," Glenn said. "That pulls the rug out from under our scientists who placed their faith in NASA, and our scientists within NASA who devoted years and years to their work."

The Daily Kos wraps up the primaries.

I couldn't have said it much better myself. The real campaign started Wednesday, a full eight months until Election Day. It really makes me believe that this primary system needs to be reformed at some point. Part of the problem is the primary system has become too frontloaded. The other problem is it wraps up 3/4 of a year before the election which is way too much time in my opinion...but I digress.

Sen. John Kerry ran a hard fought campaign, and has proved in this race and in the past that he has what it takes to win. I don't believe for a moment that Kerry will pull any punches this year against President Bush. Many have characterized him as not having the charisma that Sen. Edwards and former President Clinton have. He does differ from both of them, but when Kerry speaks he projects in a way many former presidents have. He speaks from his gut with gravitas, and looks downright presidential.

Sen. Kerry's resume speaks for itself, and in a time when the nation has major challenges on its hands, a leader with such experience may be just what the doctor ordered.


Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) Will Not Seek Reelection.

While the Democrats are going to have an uphill battle retaining all their southern Senate seats due to retiring Senators, Colorado is a potential battleground for them to pick one up. It should be remembered that Sen. Campbell was a Democrat until he switched parties after the Republicans took back the Senate in 1994.


Kerry cements Democratic presidential nomination.

The AP is reporting that Sen. John Edwards will drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination tomorrow. The announcement will come at 2:30 PM CST during a speech at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.

What do you say when the candidate you've supported disbands his campaign? I believe Edwards was the best candidate in the race to beat the sitting president. While he's only completing his first term in the US Senate, that's not necessarily a negative in the eyes of many voters. In many ways, Edwards energized this Democratic race. On the night of the Iowa caucus, his comeback to finish second place was more impressive than Kerry's victory in my eyes. I was also proud that the state of Wisconsin played a critical role in extending this race and giving the Edwards campaign a shot in the arm at a crucial time.

The type of campaign Edwards ran was an optimistic one. While it's important in a presidential campaign to point out the reasons why the current administration is failing, Edwards projected a vision for the country when he gave speeches and participated in debates. More than anything, Edwards introduced himself to a country which didn't know much about him if they knew of him at all.

While the North Carolina senator isn't seeking reelection, I wouldn't expect him to fade away from the political arena. He's young, energetic, and has too much talent. I'd be surprised if he doesn't run for office again, or at least land a cabinet position in a Democratic administration. Much speculation will be on if Edwards is considered to be John Kerry's running mate. While I'm sure he'll be on the short list, I'm not convinced Kerry's strategists think two sitting US Senators on one ticket is the best option. If Edwards is not picked, I'd expect him to be a top choice for Attorney General if Kerry is elected in November. I wasn't going to get ahead of myself and start predicting where John Edwards is headed next, but chalk that up to my being a little disappointed that tomorrow my candidate will officially bow out of what has been an exciting race for the Democratic nod to be President of the United States.

Cheers, Senator Edwards. The country has been well served by your candidacy, and this American looks forward to hearing from you again soon.

EU opens new front in trade war, imposes sanctions on US for giving tax breaks to exporters.

Blasts rock Baghdad, Karbala in Iraq.


Dems race to 'Super Tuesday'.

Sen. John Edwards hopes to win some states in tomorrow's series of primaries, and has been focusing particularly on Minnesota, Georgia and Ohio. After tomorrow, the focus shifts to the March 9 primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas where the North Carolina senator expects to do well. Who's Sauron -- bin Laden or Bush?

"The success of "The Lord of the Rings" has launched a war over Tolkien's politics, pitting pundit against pundit, and Viggo Mortensen against John Rhys-Davies."

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