Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


One Wisconsin poll says Bush leads, another says Kerry

A couple of observations here. The first thing that stood out about these polls is the size of the samples used in both of them. The Badger poll had a sample size of 511 while the St. Norbert poll had a sample size of 402. As anyone who took a statistics class can attest, you need a sample size of at least 1000 to get within the 3% margin of error. These sample sizes will only get you to roughly a 6% margin of error. Therefore, I'd take them with a grain of salt.

Tomorrow marks one year since our commander in chief declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Thank goodness he wasn't too hasty to ride the wave of war fever, and throw together a fancy photo op. Well, perhaps we should take a closer look at what he had to tell the country on that fateful day.

Here's one excerpt from the White House website:

"The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.) "

Let's just disregard the fact that the al Qaeda connection has been thoroughly dismissed, I'm just glad we've got those WMDs under control. Those nukes could have.. er.. mobile weapons labs.. umm.. crap.

Well, at least major combat operations did end when President Bush said so... On second thought, maybe I need one of these.

Thanks to for adding Brewtown Politico to their WisOpinion weblog listing.

They do great work over at WisPolitics, and their site is invaluable for information gathering in regards to the Wisconsin political scene.


Sinclair Broadcasting has ordered its ABC affiliates not to air Nightline on Friday.

This move is pathetic and disgusting. Sinclair rationalizes its decision by saying the program, which will air the pictures and names of those killed in the Iraq war, hurts the war effort. That excuse is BS, and their word rings hollow when one looks at the fact that Sinclair has donated $112,000 to Republicans (and $0 to Democrats) since 2000.

I'm sure viewers in Sinclair's ABC markets won't have to worry about missing important programming like The Bachelor (note to fans of the show: I'm not advocating censoring the Bachelor. You just need to ask yourselves why you watch such tripe). The bottom line is the powers that be at Sinclair ought to be ashamed of themselves for depriving a segment of the country from having the opportunity to devote 40 minutes of their day to honoring our troops who have died in the line of duty.

In just over a month, America will celebrate Memorial Day. Using Sinclair's logic, maybe we should just go ahead and cancel that too.

Greens for Kerry

The Green Party will host its national convention in Milwaukee at the end of June. The convention will decide where those undecided delegates go, and I'm curious as to how many of them will consider nominating John Kerry. The Greens for Kerry site indicates there is a recognition of this election's importance, and that the issues they care about will only be further brushed under the rug should Bush win in November.


'Nightline' Devotes Show to Reading War Dead Names

Friday's edition of Nightline will consist of photos of American service men and women killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. while Anchorman Ted Koppel reads their names aloud on the program officially titled "The Fallen."

I'm hopeful that people, regardless of their opinion on this war, will tune in in large numbers to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed services who have sacrificed their lives in the service of this country.


More Bush Distortions of Kerry Defense Record

The latest Bush television ad campaign does what the president's campaign does best: distort, shamelessly attack, and downright lie. The non-partisan comes to the rescue once again.

Sen. John Kerry responded tonight on Hardball, questioned the president and vice-president's handling of the military, and called attention to the administration's intelligence failures.

Iraqis Say Council-Approved National Flag Won't Fly.

Perhaps it would have been wise to let Iraqis to decide for themselves what their new flag will look like. Obviously, the powers that be are gearing up for what's sure to be a high profile ceremony on June 30 when that so-called transition of power is to take place, and they want a flashy new flag to be raised at that time.

For the curious, here's an archive of Iraq's flags throughout history.


Mark Shields: How to Predict the 2004 Election.

4.23.2004 News | GOP "playa hatas"

"Rush Limbaugh and other angry conservatives mock John Kerry and the Dems for hanging with hip-hop stars. But they're dissing a key (and mostly white) bloc of youth voters."


Earth Day Founder Tries to Enlist White House. Good luck with that, Sen. Nelson.


Happy Earth Day, Mr. Bush. How come you never call?

Love, Earth

JS Online: Doyle weighs wider use of lake water

Currently, water from Lake Michigan cannot be diverted west of the subcontinental divide. For those familiar with Milwaukee, this line is drown north to south roughly a few miles west of the Milwaukee County line, meaning suburbs like Waukesha and parts of Brookfield and New Berlin cannot currently access Lake Michigan water.

For this to happen, I think some serious talks must take place between Milwaukee and the interested suburbs. While the suburbs keep demanding more of the city (expanded freeways and access to water being two issues), they haven't been willing to consider what's in the city's interest (minimizing urban sprawl and an improved mass transit network).

Those suburbs with diminished water supplies have nobody to blame but themselves for their water shortages. The writing has been on the wall for a while, and those of us who decry urban sprawl saw this coming.


Kerry Campaign Posts Navy Records Online

Right wing water carriers from Ed Gillespie to Rush Limbaugh spent the past few days attacking Sen. John Kerry by demanding he release his military records. The Kerry campaign promptly responded by making them public, and now making them available for viewing on the net.

The Republican Party was hoping they could start a scandal out of Kerry refusing to make the records public. Now they'll likely resort to criticizing Kerry's military record. It's a battle they're not going to win, and one that may raise the ire of veterans in America.

Milwaukee swore in its 40th mayor Tom Barrett Tuesday. On a chilly afternoon, there appeared a willingness by Barrett and new Common Council president Willie Hines to work together to unify a racially divided city.

Barrett also spoke to regional cooperation, correctly pointing out that the more successful urban regions of America are those where the city and suburbs work together for the good of the region as a whole. While we may not be ready for metropolitan government such as is in Indianapolis, it's important that city and suburbs cooperate to ensure we have an attractive job market, clean water, and a better transportation system among other issues. This does not mean they will always agree, nor should it. For instance, I remain opposed to widening the freeway within the city limits. For one, the price tag for such a project is outrageous at a time when all levels of government must tighten their belts. Regardless, that debate will continue, and I'm optimistic that Tom Barrett will be a leader on that and other issues so that Milwaukee can continue to grow and be successful.

You can view the whole long ceremony here. The text of Barrett's remarks are available at the city's website.


Supreme Court hears first test of Bush anti-terror tactics.

It should be fascinating to see how the court decides this one. Audio of the oral arguments is available at the PBS Newshour site.


Airing of Powell's Misgivings Tests Ties in the Cabinet

As the new Bob Woodward book makes evident, Secretary of State Colin Powell was kept out of the loop in talks about Iraq war planning. That coupled with Powell's opposition to going to war before exhausting diplomacy resulted in a major rift between himself and Vice President Cheney.

For those questioning the accuracy of Woodward's book, he spent hours in interviews with several people in the administration and interviewed President Bush himself. It looks like the White House is going to spend another week of news cycles trying to downplay new revelations in a book. I sense that their tactics of crying foul have become pretty ineffective.

The risk to the White House with this book is that Powell is one of the most respected members in the Administration. The revelations that his influence has been regularly undercut by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Bush, are likely to lead more people to question this Administration's motives and tactics regarding the war in Iraq.


Kerry: Bush needs to give UN 'real authority' in Iraq.

Sen. John Kerry appeared on Meet the Press today in an hour long interview with Tim Russert. The MSNBC link allows you to view a segment of that interview.

I thought he was direct in his criticism of the president, and articulate in laying out solutions for the future. It's quite a stark contrast to the interview the president had with Russert just a few weeks ago.

The Truth About 'the Wall' by Jamie Gorelick, member of the 9/11 commission.

With the help of her fellow commissioners, Gorelick has defended herself well from partisan attacks seeking to discredit both her and the commission's work. People need to see through charades like the criticism of Jamie Gorelick and get to the heart of the matter. The president opposed the creation of the commission, then didn't want to provide them with the necessary information, fought its extension, and will soon testify in private with Vice President Dick Cheney. There's an SNL skit just waiting to be written in regards to that last part.


Feingold charges Bush with 'historic mistake'

Once again, Sen. Russ Feingold tells it like it is. It's another example of why he'll be reelected come November. As far as who he'll face out of the primary, my guess is State Sen. Bob Welch. In my opinion, that'd be great. Welch can then have the honor of losing to both Sen. Herb Kohl and Feingold in bids for the US Senate.

Rove Rues 'Mission Accomplished' Banner

Karl Rove admitted this week he regrets the use of the "Mission Accomplished" banner used as a backdrop during President Bush's speech aboard an aircraft carrier in May 2003. Gee Karl, ya think?

My two cents is that Rove doesn't regret the act itself. He regrets that it blew up in his face with the end of the Iraq war not living up to the hype. If things were going better in Iraq right now, he'd be more than happy to have that photo op in campaign ads.

All this simply points out that while Rove may be good at direct mail, he's overrated as a political advisor.

4.15.2004 reports that Air America has won its case against Arthur Liu and Multicultural Broadcasting. AP story here.

(sticks tongue out at naysayers in the right-wing echo chamber)

Three Japanese Hostages in Iraq Freed

I thought I'd post this follow-up to the story of their capture from last week. A journalist and two aid workers were released just one day after it was announced that an Italian hostage had been executed.

There is still no word on the Mississippi truck driver Thomas Hamill, who is known to have been captured, or the identities of four bodies found west of Baghdad. It has been speculated that they may be the those of missing US contractors.

Senator Russ Feingold's classic 1992 campaign commercials are now available for viewing on his website.

Feingold came from behind to upset two strong challengers and win the Democratic primary for US Senate. He went on to defeat Republican incumbant Robert Kastan and is now running for a third term.

Russ Feingold has been a voice of reason on civil liberties, fiscal responsibility, foreign affairs, the environment, and clean government among other issues. He has represented the people of Wisconsin well, and has support among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. As this article in the Hill points out, his opponents are having a tough time making a dent in his solid support.

Take some time to contribute to this important campaign today.


The Iraq War did not Force Gadaffi's Hand

I thought this article was timely since the president once again linked Libya's agreeing to disarm with last year's success in the Iraq war.

The truth about Air America's sudden absence on the airwaves in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Drudge reported that they bounced a check and therefore Arthur Liu, owner of WNTD and KBLA, yanked them. This was of course reiterated throughout the right-wing echo chamber (Rush Limbaugh and his clones throughout the country). Once again though, these guys are lying to their listeners or are at least behaving like lazy reporters and not gathering the facts before opening their mouths.

Air America chairman Evan Cohen called station owner Liu's claims outright lies and says he's in breach of contract. Their court petition is available on the Smoking Gun.

Blah3 points out that Liu's political contributions signal where his loyalties lie in this matter. Confirm this yourself at the Political Money Line:

4/26/1999 LIU, ARTHUR $1,000 National Assn of Broadcast NEW YORK,NY 10013 MULTICULTURAL RADIO
10/12/1999 LIU, YVONNE $1,000 Bush, George W NEW YORK,NY 10128 MULTICULTURAL RADIO
10/13/1999 LIU, YVONNE $1,000 Giuliani, Rudolph W NEW YORK,NY 10128 MULTICULTURAL ORG
5/16/2000 LIU, ARTHUR $1,000 National Assn of Broadcast NEW YORK,NY 10013 WPAT-AM
6/30/2000 LIU, ARTHUR $1,000 Lazio, Rick A WKDM/WNWK
6/30/2000 LIU, YVONNE S Y $1,000 Lazio, Rick A
9/14/2000 LIU, YVONNE S $1,500 Republican National Cmte NEW YORK,NY 10128
4/6/2001 LIU, YVONNE S $500 National Republican Congre NEW YORK,NY 10128
5/7/2003 LIU, ARTHUR MR $1,000 National Assn of Broadcast NEW YORK,NY 10013 WPAT-AM/MULTICULTURAL

Meanwhile, the station is expanding to more and more markets, and now has affiliations with 16 stations which is up from the six when it launched two weeks ago.

Conservatives are even lamenting the president's performance last night.

"I was depressed," said conservative strategist William Kristol, one of the war's most vocal proponents. "I am obviously a supporter of the war, so I don't need to be convinced. But among people who were doubtful or worried, I don't think he made arguments that would convince them. He didn't explain how we are going to win there." -William Kristol in the Los Angeles Times. (Login with username: anonymous / password: anonymous).

Then again, perhaps his lackluster performance is just part of the strategy to lower expectations for the president during an election year. It worked in 2000.

Bush vows to stay the course in Iraq.

I don't think President Bush helped himself much in the press conference tonight. In fact, he stumbled badly when asked whether he thought any mistakes have been over the course of his time in office, and the war on terrorism. It was telling that he seemed petrified and resistant of saying anything at this point.

For a president who tonight reiterated that he doesn't govern according to polls, it seemed more evident than ever that this White House is acting out of desperation due to Bush's drop in those polls. They're doing so, because if they don't find a way to overcome the public's skepticism of their foreign and domestic policy very soon, they're going to be drafting resumes and writing a concession speech come November.


After 9/11: The Saudis Who Slipped Away. (Login with username: anonymous / password: anonymous).

The American media finally pays attention to this story 2.5 years later. Many have heard of it before. For those unaware, various Saudis, including members of the Bin Laden family, were allowed to fly out of the United States just days after the September 11 attacks. They were not questioned by the FBI prior to their departure. One would think that would've been wise, but that's just my take.

Journalists like Craig Unger have dug deeper to expose the long standing alliance between the Saudi royal family and the Bush family. Check out his work here.

New nationalism that unites Iraq.
"Tony Blair and George W. Bush must come to grips with the fact that they are not fighting 'terrorism' in Iraq, they are fighting nationalism - a struggle they will lose sooner or later."

"The most useful thing that could be done now would be for America's allies - Tony Blair the most important among them - to stop telling Washington that the Iraq occupation 'must not fail' and instead tell it that the occupation has already failed; that only policy reversal can save the US, its allies, Iraq and the region from generalised conflict."

William Pfaff writes the above in a guest commentary for the Observer, and hits the nail on the head. The current policy has failed, and anyone who is honest can see that unfolding before their eyes. The sooner we shift gears in Iraq the better. This does not mean retreat. It means this president must move beyond catchy slogans and ideology, and honestly improve our approach to stabilizing Iraq. Unfortunately, I have no faith that the Bush Administration has the sense or the ability to do this.


Man bets all on roulette and wins.

The Brit who sold all his possessions and headed to Vegas comes out victorious after betting on red.


Sunni and Shia unite against common enemy.

The two religious factions haven't joined forces like this since the Iraq Revolution of 1920.


North Korea says standoff with US at "brink of nuclear war"

"Cheney's trip to Asia has been overshadowed by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq where insurgents are threatening to kill three Japanese hostages unless Tokyo pulls out troops from the war-torn region."

Happy Good Friday.

Operation Hero Miles, a program created by Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), has allowed people to donate their frequent flyer miles in order to help troops on Emergency Leave reach home, and unite families with wounded family members recuperating at U.S. military hospitals.

Many families can't afford to pay for these trips which is what makes this program so important. Take some time out and donate your frequent flyer miles today.


From the while you were watching Condi  file: Seven hostages freed in Iraq; 5 still held.

Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi has stated that their troops will remain in Iraq despite threats that the hostages will be burned alive unless Japan pulls out. The kidnappers are reportedly part of a previously unknown group known as the Mujahedeen Squadrons.

Tonight's episode of Frontline was entitled Diet Wars.

The rise in obesity in America, along with the decrease in exercise and general physical activity in people's lives were covered. One of the physicians they interviewed talked about the very troubling growth of Type II Diabetes amongst teenagers. He also said he's seeing an increase in cases of heart disease amongst kids as young as twelve years old.

These revelations made me wonder if there's been a decrease in schools participating in the old Presidential Physical Fitness Award program. I recall my school participated in it. While I never personally won the award, the fact that we participated meant the school was dedicated to improving the health of its students through physical activity.

This is a problem that's only going to worsen if people don't begin to change their lifestyles as well as their children's. It's not just an American problem as the UK is catching up to us in the race to be obese. If you missed the program, it'll be online beginning Saturday at the Frontline website.


US Casualties Mount in Heavy Fighting in Iraq.

This looks like it's going to continue to get much worse before it gets better. Thirty Americans have died since Monday along with more than 130 Iraqis. It's only Wednesday, and this violence is escalating. I can't wait until June 30 though, because then things will magically change and everyone can do the democracy dance of joy.

Notice I haven't yet called the situation in Iraq analogous to Vietnam. I'm being careful, because apparently saying such a thing is now considered outrageous. Never mind the fact that the Bush Administration's "plan" for Iraq continues to be a complete travesty. I guess the real problem is there are Congressmen, Senators and citizens not marching in lockstep and being lapdogs for them.

Barrett defeats Pratt 54%-46%. Milwaukee's Mayor-elect calls for unity, celebrates city's diversity.

Congratulations to Tom Barrett. As a supporter of his, I believe he'll make a fine mayor and bring some fresh leadership into City Hall. He gave an excellent speech last night which you can view here.


Milwaukee: Vote Tom Barrett for Mayor on Tuesday April 6.

Local elections in Wisconsin are tomorrow. In Milwaukee, the most notable race is the race for Milwaukee mayor. The media coverage has focused more on the candidates' negatives than on their positions on issues. Therefore, I'm going to take this final opportunity to push my choice for mayor.

For years, Tom Barrett was my Congressman and he served his district well. Prior to that, Barrett served as a State Representative, and later a State Senator. His vast experience is exactly what this city needs at this time. We need someone who is familiar with other levels of government, and knows how to navigate the federal and state bureaucracies in order to get things done. Some of the most important issues ranging from the freeway plan, school funding, and environmental cleanup all require working with other levels of government to accomplish our goals.

Barrett wants to overhaul the city ethics code, a very timely issue considering three alderman were recently run out of office following scandals involving their campaign finances.

He also wants to reform the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District (MMSD). Even after the deep tunnel was completed, MMSD has continued to dump millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into Lake Michigan. This has to be dealt with, and Barrett's extraordinary record on the environment speaks for itself.

You can read more about Tom Barrett's positions at the issue papers section of his website. His experience, his solid record on education, balancing the budget, and the environment, along with his leadership skills are all reasons why Brewtown Politico is proud to endorse Tom Barrett for Mayor of Milwaukee.

Additional information for Milwaukee voters:
Click here to find out where your polling place is.
Click here for information on registering to vote.


How E-Voting Threatens Democracy.

Here's a nice history of what's going on with e-voting at Wired. This is serious and scary stuff that is not getting enough media coverage (surprise). What's at stake here is the legitimacy of this year's election, and the public's faith in their vote.

'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes.' Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is backing down and allowing thousands of documents from the Clinton Administration to be given to the 9/11 panel after Clinton's former deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey exposed they were withholding them. While White House press secretary Scott McClellan said they were only being withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," critics charged it was being done to tarnish the former president's record on terrorism.

It just keeps getting more interesting. Screenwriters can't even come up with stuff like this.

U.S. job growth jumps after months of weakness.

The economy added 308,000 jobs in March. Great news, right? On the surface, I would agree. However, unemployment did jump to 5.7%. Hopefully, the job growth can eventually stop the jobless rate from growing. I'm curious to see what these numbers are in Milwaukee, where unemployment rose to 9.4% in February.


The Dogs That Didn't Bark - Why Colin Powell and George Tenet aren't bashing Richard Clarke.

Another good article from Fred Kaplan over at Slate.

Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't on Terrorism (

White House national security advisor Condaleeza Rice was to give a speech on September 11, 2001 to outline a strategy for dealing with "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday."

The problem with the speech is that it did not address the threat of terrorism from groups like al Qaeda. Instead, it resurrected President Reagan's dream of a missile defense system. You can view excerpts from the speech here.

Sen. Miller: Sept. 11 investigation energizes terrorists.

If I had any doubt that Sen. Zell Miller (D-Georgia) has lost his grip on reality, this has put an end to it. It was bad enough that the president opposed the creation of the 9/11 panel, then opposed the extension of it, and has withheld loads of information from the commission. Now we've got Miller once again kissing up to the president. Why doesn't he just get it over with and officially become a Republican? He's retiring from the Senate though so his real motive may just be a job in the administration should Bush win another term.

President Bush visited Appleton this week. The Post-Crescent correctly points out that Democrats are not sold on Bush's remarks. However, I'd venture a guess that it's not only Dems in the Fox Valley that are disturbed by the job trends up there.

It's April 1st, America. Happy "I'm Embarassed by my President Day."