Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


The Libertarians have nominated their presidential candidate. He's Michael Badnarik, a computer programmer from Austin, Texas.

The party has experienced growth by recruiting disenchanted Republicans who are fed up with their party's poor performance. Considering, the Republicans control virtually every branch of government, they deserve more blame than they're getting.

There are even some reports saying the Libertarians could draw enough votes from Bush's base in November to cost him the election. To those Republicans who are fed up with George W. Bush but just can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, you have my blessing to vote Libertarian.

Doonesbury: In Memorium - the war in Iraq.


Milwaukee Insight: Time to Take Care of Our Great Lake

Jim Rowen writes about the continuing problem of sewage overflows, and the increasing stress on Lake Michigan in general.


Former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech yesterday about American policy in Iraq. Full video of the speech is available over at C-SPAN. Clips at This is a brilliant speech that all Americans should take the time to watch or read. Here's an excerpt:

"George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President." -Al Gore

That's just one small portion of the speech which is in such contrast to the bumbling approach our President took on Monday when speaking at the Army War College. For more information on the state of the Administration, see the Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.


Bush election campaign ran from call center in India.

They weren't kidding when talking about the benefits of outsourcing. Apparently they were trying to lead by example. Representatives in the center raised funds via telephone for Bush/Cheney 2004 and the Republican Party. After 14 months, they abandoned operations in July 2003 when some genius thought it may not have been sending the best message to voters about the president's commitment to American jobs.

For the record, the RNC is denying the above story has any truth to it.

If the above story wasn't bad enough, the Bush campaign was caught selling clothing made in Burma in violation of current US trade policy. Ironically, the President himself implemented the ban to punish the dictatorship in Burma just last year.


The US and UK appear to be at odds over who will control US forces after the handover of sovereignty on June 30.

It's another sign that a rift has grown between the American and British governments over the handling of Iraq's transition. This comes a week after reports that British commanders are increasingly butting heads with US forces over the release of Iraqi prisoners and military tactics in general.

'Nick Berg Was a Soldier of Peace' by Michael Berg.

I don't know if I can add much to what Berg says in his column in that I can't relate to what he's going through right now. What happened to his son was tragic. It was an especially horrific event if you've witnessed the footage itself.


If you missed Prime Ministers' questions on C-SPAN last week, Tony Blair was hit with condoms filled with purple flour by two protestors. The perpetrators were signed in by a member of the House of Lords. The galleries in the House of Commons are not open to the public.

The BBC link has video of the incident. You can also watch the entire session on C-SPAN's website. If you've never seen Prime Ministers' questions before, give it a look. It's very entertaining even if you're not a political junkie like yours truly. You also have to respect Blair in that the guy is very quick and astute when responding to the opposition parties. I can't imagine our president ever being able to go through this type of weekly scrutiny.


Advisers Likely Will Change if Bush Wins

The article ends with this: "Vice President Dick Cheney, perhaps the most influential member of Bush's war council, has weathered speculation that he might be replaced on the GOP ticket. He has been an active campaigner and has drawn continual expressions of support from Bush.

But he is still a potential wild card. Cheney's approval ratings are even lower than Bush's. And, after four heart attacks, his health remains a concern."

I continue to disagree with folks who think Cheney will be replaced as Bush's running mate. If President Bush was going to replace his veep, he would have done it earlier before the campaign heated up. Such a move could have been easily explained by Cheney's health. Kicking Cheney out at this point will be interpreted as an act of desperation by the president in order to boost floundering poll numbers.

It would make all those Bush/Cheney 2004 signs and bumper stickers cool collector items though.

GOP Senator Rips Bush on Iraq, Terrorism

No, it's not Sen. McCain. This comes from Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. Lugar bluntly criticized the president for his lack of vision for democracy in Iraq, properly fighting terrorism, and for not promoting better trade relations in the world.

At least Lyndon Johnson had the foresight and the humility not to run again when the Vietnam War got out of control. He thought that new leadership would be best for the nation so a solution to the conflict in Vietnam could be found. Who can honestly say that this president has the ability to commit such an act of patriotism?

Sewage overflows as MMSD closes all gates.

This is a mess, no pun intended. Milwaukee residents have watched as this has become more of a problem. With surburan sprawl and more wetlands being sacrificed in favor of concrete, increasing pressure has been placed on the deep tunnel. The question now becomes how best to fix the problem.

One of the reasons I supported Tom Barrett's election as Milwaukee mayor was his solid record on protecting the environment during his time in Congress. The League of Conservation Voters gave him outstanding scores of 100% and 93% in his last term alone. I'm confident he will fight tooth and nail to reform MMSD, and modernize our aging sewer infrastructure.


Obama admits he dislikes his most loyal follower

Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama has a loyal fan who follows him everywhere in public filming him, and he just happens to be a campaign worker for Republican opponent Jack Ryan. The Ryan camp says they're just trying to hold Obama accountable, but at what point does the campaign worker cross the line into stalking?


"Broken Engagement" by Gen. Wesley Clark. The strategy that won the Cold War could help bring democracy to the Middle East-- if only the Bush hawks understood it.

Be sure to read the above article in the Washington Monthly. Clark eloquently maps out a vision for promoting democracy in the Middle East. Among many points Clark makes, he advocates more European involvement, and incentives for leaders to have a greater stake in the stability and prosperity of the region.

The present administration hasn't a clue nor the ability to understand the current scenario like Clark does. They're driven by ideology and are blind to their own incompetence. The good news is I believe every day more voters have come to that same conclusion.

Mark Shields: Who represents America? Another great column by Mark Shields.

The Republican Party has been taken over by globalist neoconservatives and the religious right. There are many lifelong Republicans out there who know deep down their party has abandoned them. Here's a message to those folks. This is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, or even Ronald Reagan for that matter.

The new GOP platform: Balance the budget? Yawn. Big, powerful, intrusive government? Love it. Protect the environment? Screw it. The military-industrial complex? Bring it on.


If you missed Meet the Press on Sunday, take a look at the transcript of Tim Russert's interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell's press aide interrupts the interview, and even turns the camera away after Powell is asked a question about the evidence he presented to the United Nations regarding Saddam Hussein's alleged biological and chemical weapons stockpiles. The beginning of this segment doesn't appear in the video on MSNBC's site, but if someone locates a copy, post a comment with the URL.

Russert: Finally, Mr. Secretary, in February of 2003, you placed your enormous personal credibility before the United Nations and laid out a case against Saddam Hussein citing...

Powell: Not off.

Emily: No. They can't use it. They're editing it. They (unintelligible).

Powell: He's still asking me questions. Tim.

Emily: He was not...

Powell: Tim, I'm sorry, I lost you.

Russert: I'm right here, Mr. Secretary. I would hope they would put you back on camera. I don't know who did that.

Powell: We really...

Russert: I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate.

Powell: Emily, get out of the way.

Emily: OK.

Powell: Bring the camera back, please. I think we're back on, Tim. Go ahead with your last question.

Russert: Thank you very much, sir. In February of 2003, you put your enormous personal reputation on the line before the United Nations and said that you had solid sources for the case against Saddam Hussein. It now appears that an agent called Curveball had misled the CIA by suggesting that Saddam had trucks and trains that were delivering biological and chemical weapons. How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?

Powell: I'm very concerned. When I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information that the Central Intelligence Agency made available to me. We studied it carefully; we looked at the sourcing in the case of the mobile trucks and trains. There was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately, that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate. And so I'm deeply disappointed. But I'm also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation, it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment of the intelligence community. But it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it.

Russert: Mr. Secretary, we thank you very much for joining us again and sharing your views with us today.

Powell: Thanks, Tim.


AP: Kerry and Nader to Meet Wednesday

I'm not sure what good will come of this, but I suppose it can't hurt. It would be nice if Nader would swallow his pride and bow out, but I'm not banking on that happening.


The Roots of Torture: The road to Abu Ghraib began after 9/11, when Washington wrote new rules to fight a new kind of war. A NEWSWEEK investigation.

The Newsweek story backs up Seymour Hersh's column in the New Yorker about who signed off on interrogation procedures in Iraq.

The Bush Administration probably hoped last week's trip to Iraq by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would throw water on the fire, but with mounting evidence that Rumsfeld himself signed off on this strategy, it's not going away anytime soon.

Stunning plea to Marquette: Alum makes offer to bring back Warriors.

About a decade ago, Marquette changed their nickname from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles. The administration's action irked many alumni and fans of the university's athetics program. Wayne Sanders, a member of Marquette University's Board, announced he and another trustee would each donate $1 million if MU would go back to the old nickname.

The rationale for the change was essentially political correctness. What I never understood was if the mascot was offensive to Native Americans, why not just change the mascot itself and keep the name? The name Warriors in and of itself doesn't seem to be a problem. On a sidenote, doesn't it seem odd to anyone that we still have a professional football team called the Redskins? In any case, MU didn't rule out the idea and I'm guessing there will be further talks about the issue in the near future since there appears to be a lot of support for this. Oh, and I'm sure the potential donations won't hurt Sanders' cause either.


Police union rejects Bush, backs Kerry

Sen. John Kerry picked up the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. It's a big deal for the Democratic presidential nominee. The union has a winning track record having endorsed President Bush in 2000, and former president Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Thanks to Ben for the heads up on this.


Ebay bidder trying to scam you out of your Powerbook by using a fake bank account? Send him a P-P-P-Powerbook.

I heard about this one from Metafilter. It's quite possibly the funniest Ebay story I've seen since the infamous Ryobi Router Table auction.


Private Contractors and Torture at Abu Ghraib, Iraq is a good article over at Corporate Watch.

Two Washington Post writers have an article about the erosion of the line between soldiers and civilian contractors.

All of this points to President Eisenhower's fear of a military industrial complex coming true. Civilian contractors are taking over jobs that used to be performed by military personnel. Who are these people accountable to? In committee hearings before the Senate, General Taguba said his report on prison abuse only covers the soldiers being implicated, and not the contractors who were hired to run the interrogation of the prisoners.

While the soldiers face courts marshall, the contractors who are most likely responsible for the torture going on in these prisons, are not being held accountable.

More flash for you junkies. This one about El Rushbo is a little old, but it's excellent.

Appleton Post Crescent Newspaper Backs Off Letter Request

For those outside Wisconsin, Appleton is in one of the more conservative areas of the state. The newspaper has reportedly been saturated with letters criticizing President Bush on any number of issues. Apparently worried about a backlash from their readers, the paper solicited letters from Bush supporters, but then backed off after it appeared the paper was taking sides in the arena of ideas.

You know they're in trouble when they can't even get people to write in supporting the President in a very conservative district like this. Maybe this has something to do with it.


The Exorcist in 30 seconds with bunnies.

Some good flash fun... bunnies!

I admit to having somewhat of an addiction to talk radio of all stripes (right, left, sports, and NPR when I need genuine intellectual dialogue or need sleep).

So today, I'm listening to local right wing talker Mark Belling spout off about the war in Iraq, evil, liberals hating America, etc. He is pounding his fist about how we shouldn't settle for Muqtada al-Sadr trying to turn Iraq back to the days of Saddam Hussein. As a public service to Belling and those who think like him, I'll point out at this point that al-Sadr's uncle, parents, and brothers were all killed by Saddam Hussein's regime. You see, Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim, and al-Sadr is a Shiite cleric. Historically, these two groups have not gotten along well to say the least. Sunnis are a minority of the population and ruled the country until the US invaded Iraq in March 2003.

Now supposedly our intention is to set up a democracy there. If you love Iran, you'd certainly love Iraq as a democracy. We're talking fundamentalist Islamic state as Shiites make up a majority of the population. My point here is it's just one more example of willful ignorance and naivete that has painted how the right is approaching this war. It's amazing the number of people who still believe Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

Bonus lesson: Osama bin Laden (for those who've forgotten, he's the one who actually attacked this country) and the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. This is a country where women are persecuted, and have virtually no rights, a country where they don't have elections, and they breed terrorists. In addition to rebuilding Afghanistan, you'd think we'd focus on that country during this "war on terrorism." Apparently President Bush's ties to the Prince Bandar and the Saudi Royal Family trump those concerns.

Class dismissed.


Family criticizes U.S. government over death: Father of victim says if son had not been detained by military he could have left country before violence worsened.

What happened to Nick Berg is outrageous, and I'm seething with anger toward the savages that did this.

Now take a moment to put yourself in his father's shoes today. On top of the fact that he just lost his son, he's got to be just agonizing over the fact that this incident should never have happened.

Kerry's legendary lead.

Mark Mellman, president of the Mellman Group, espouses in his column for the Hill that no challenger has ever done as well against an elected incumbent at this point in the campaign cycle.

This harkens back to the article I posted a few days back about a potential Kerry landslide.

There is no doubt in my mind that no matter how much the most fervent Bush supporters stand by their candidate, they are seriously worried about this race. Democrats are more hungry for this election than any election in my memory. It kind of reminds me of how Republicans felt in 1994 when they managed to take both the House and Senate from the Democrats. While it was predicted that Republicans would make gains, almost nobody predicted they would win both houses of Congress. For these reasons, I'm coming around to the idea that this election could be a decisive one for Sen. John Kerry.* However, it's still too early to predict how this thing will end up and I'm half kicking myself for even posting articles like this.

*The caveat being that those stupid electronic voting machines don't screw this whole thing up.


NEWSWEEK: Clark, Gephardt, Edwards Being Vetted as Potential Kerry Running Mates; Insider Predicts Decision Will Be Made by End of This Month

Gen. Wesley Clark appears to be at the top of the list of candidates being considered to become Sen. John Kerry's running mate. Clark would lend the campaign extensive military credentials as a retired four-star general.

The timing of Clark's vetting is intriguing given that he provided the Democratic response to President Bush's radio address this past weekend, and also appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday.


E-Vote Controversy Comes to Commission

This whole voting machine controversy is just a ticking timebomb. My fear is that bomb will explode in November throwing yet another Presidential election into chaos. Moving from the hanging chads of punchcard ballots to insecure electronic voting machines with no paper trail is not progress in my eyes.

Why is it this country cannot figure out how to do the most important thing a representative democracy does (voting)? I'm to the point where I think we need to forego all this voluntary guidelines talk. Perhaps we should just decide on one specific standard and all vote the same way. What a concept.

For those who would scream "states rights," I remind you that the Supreme Court invoked the equal protection clause of the Constitution to stop the recount in Florida in 2000. Translation: different counties voted different ways so they decided the recount itself violated the rights of voters.

In Milwaukee, we use the marksense ballot where you fill in a little arrow next to your candidate of choice and feed your completed ballot into an optical scan machine. It seems to work well enough. Maybe we should try it everywhere.

CDs, DVDs not so immortal.

The legend of so-called CD rot has come up again. I remember stories about this when CDs really caught on in the late 80s-early 90s. If I remember correctly, first generation discs were not of the same quality as ones produced later on. The article also suggests that how one treats the CD has an impact on its life (duh). It also points out that the label side is more sensitive to damage than the underside.


No ads on the bases says MLB.

They reversed course on this pretty quickly. I can only imagine the number of upset baseball fans they must have heard from today. Then again, maybe the Spiderman 2 people realized this wasn't going to be the best way to launch what they hope is a summer blockbuster.

On an unrelated baseball story, odds are rising that the nation's capital could be the new home of the Montreal Expos.

Casualty of War by Wil S. Hylton for GQ Magazine.

"Four years into an embattled Bush administration, Colin Powell is hard at work at something he's never had to worry about before: salvaging his legacy."

This is a few days old, but a very revealing read.


Commenting is now available courtesy of Haloscan. Fire away.

Ads for Spider Man 2 to appear on bases.

I haven't had any problem with stadium naming rights, players endorsing products, or advertising around the interior of the ballparks. The fact that this sale will produce ads on the field of play itself crosses a line I don't think should have been crossed. Feel free to discuss.


Editor-in-chief of U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quits, complaining of American control

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) The head of a U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quit and said Monday he was taking almost his entire staff with him because of American interference in the publication.

On a front-page editorial of the Al-Sabah newspaper, editor-in-chief Ismail Zayer said he and his staff were ''celebrating the end of a nightmare we have suffered from for months ... We want independence. They (the Americans) refuse.''"

The text of the US Army report on Iraqi prisoner abuse is now available.

I meant to post Seymour Hersh's column about this earlier, but wanted to read the whole article before I did so. This course of events is disturbing on so many levels, not least of which is the negative impact it's going to have on stabilizing Iraq.

This is outrageous, and while I want to believe this is an isolated incident, the evidence suggests it's systemic and more widespread than this. We as Americans should be holding ourselves to higher standards than this if we're ever to regain credibility as a promoter of liberty and human rights around the world.

A Kerry Landslide? In his column, Chuck Todd writes that the least likely scenario in November is a close election. This is because elections are historically referendums on the incumbant.

I'm not sold that the election won't be close, mainly because of the country being more polarized geographically than in recent elections. On the other hand, the media has an interest in hyping how close this election could be. Todd makes a good case for why the election could very well be a rout.

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson is making the rounds doing interviews with media outlets that will pay attention. He did a good interview with Buzzflash that I encourage you to check out.

For those who have forgotten, last summer Wilson's wife was outed as a CIA agent in a column by Robert Novak. The Justice Department opened an investigation in fall to identify who produced this information to Novak. The investigation has predictably slowed to a crawl.

One can only imagine if something like this would've happened while Bill Clinton was President. They would've impeached him, prosecuted the offenders, and had enough time at the end of the day for happy hour.


Media Matters for America officially launched today. Its mission: "comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

Contrary to what conservatives would have you believe, the concept of the liberal media is a myth that they use to look like victims and attract sympathy from cynics.

Media Matters' president and CEO is David Brock, former right-wing propagandist turned truth-teller. Hats off to Mr. Brock and his staff. It's about time a media monitoring organization like this was created.

If you're not registered to vote, it's easier than ever to do so. Sites like, and the DNC allow you to type in your zip code, and register.

Here in Wisconsin, we're able to register at the polls on the day of election. However, many states require you to register weeks or months before Election Day. For instance, when I lived in Maryland, I had to register at least a month before the presidential election in order to vote. Don't put this off, and miss the chance to vote in November. The stakes are too high.


Who served in the military?

This has been available for a while, but considering the right-wing attacks on Sen. John Kerry's military service and his anti-war efforts, I thought this was as good a time as any to post this juicy item.

By the way, do you think Ed Gillespie and the Republican National Committee are regretting their demand that Kerry release all of his military records? Kerry promptly responded by doing just that. In the coming weeks, I foresee new pressure on President Bush to do the same.