Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

Courtesy of Project Censored.


Democrat declared Washington governor-elect

Christine Gregoire was certified the winner in Washington's gubernatorial race today after a hand recount of ballots put her ahead of Republican opponent Dino Rossi. Rossi is now calling for a revote.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a handy timeline of events in the Washington governor's race if you need a recap of the events from the last two months.

Throughout the process, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed has been a model for how the office is supposed to function. Compare that to the blatent partisan actions of Florida's Katherine Harris in 2000 and Ohio's Ken Blackwell in 2004, both of whom also served as co-chairs for the Bush/Cheney campaign while supposedly presiding over an election process in a non-partisan fashion.


Asia Toll Nears 77,000 As Aid Arrives

The death toll continues to climb. It's 33,000 higher than a day ago.

The net and blogosphere have contributed several stories, images, and video to people around the world. Wikipedia already has an extensive amount of material contributed by readers worldwide on this disaster.

Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence

Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.

Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Wisconsin gets F on reproductive rights

Some of Wisconsin's laws that NARAL opposes include:

• A 24-hour waiting period, after required counseling, for abortions.

• An unconstitutional ban on abortions that was not changed following the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. If Roe were overturned, it would become illegal in Wisconsin to have an abortion or help someone have one.

• A ban on using public funds to counsel or refer women for abortions.

• Some restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion.

• Prohibition of so-called partial birth abortions unless a woman's life is endangered.

• Allowing some health care professionals to refuse to participate in abortion and euthanasia.

• No public funding for elective abortions.

• Required parental or guardian consent for minors, though a court may waive that requirement in some cases.

• Targeted regulations and reporting requirements for abortion providers.


Asia Struggles to Cope With 44,000 Dead

"Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 44,000."


Iraq's Top Sunni Party Withdraws from Jan. Election

"The Iraqi Islamic Party is withdrawing from the elections because we do not think the situation will improve in the next few weeks to give conditions for credible elections," party Secretary-General Tareq al-Hashimi said.


Ninety years ago today, the Christmas Truce took place in the midst of World War I.

German troops in Belgium began decorating their trenches with trees and candles, and singing Christmas carols. British and French troops on the other side responded by singing English carols. Both sides then exchanged Christmas greetings, and at one point the Germans proposed a Christmas "truce."

The truce was accepted and troops from both sides emerged from their trenches. First, they buried their dead they weren't previously able to get to. Then, the troops shook hands, exchanged gifts, and played games.

The truce reportedly spread to other areas. It's an inspiring story illustrating a moment of humanity in the chaos that is war.

Bill O'Reilly wins Media Matters' award for Misinformer of the Year.

Here are ten primary reasons why the organization awarded the Fox News. Click on the link above for more detailed explanations of each complete with sources.

  1. O'Reilly falsely claimed Bush didn't oppose 9-11 Commission.
  2. Falsely claimed Iraq had ricin.
  3. Repeated discredited claims on Iraq-Al Qaeda link.
  4. Fabricated "Paris Business Review" as source for success of French boycott.
  5. Cited phony stats to argue that taxes on rich are excessive.
  6. Confused on elementary economics.
  7. Doctored quotation to suggest Soros wished his own father dead.
  8. Questioned if Kennedy would show up to Democratic convention ... as Kennedy spoke behind him.
  9. Disparaged Democrats with trifecta of voter falsehoods.
  10. O'Reilly on the radio: Three lies, one broadcast. Lie No. 1: Bush tax cuts didn't create the budget deficit. Lie No. 2: "Socialistic" French, Germans, and Canadian governments tax at 80 percent. Lie No. 3: Canadian, British, and French media are "government-controlled," but Italian media is free.


Fooey to the World: Festivus Is Come

It's December 23rd. Happy Festivus.

It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds re-enacted by bunnies.

Another Angry Alien Production.


Washington governor's race could swing after hand recount: Democrats claim win; GOP says race 'too close to call'

"Washington's most populous county is expected to announce its manual vote recount Wednesday, which could swing results in the closest governor's race ever in state history."


Morning Sedition's Marc Maron has had his dream diary about the Air America holiday party visualized in Flash courtesy of

Amusing animation for fans of the show or Maron's stand up comedy.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll: Rumsfeld losing public's support

"The secretary's approval rating has fallen from 71 percent in April 2003 at the height of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to 41 percent in the new survey.

As for Bush, 49 percent of respondents said they approved of the job the president is doing. That number is down from his November approval rating of 55 percent. Bush is the first incumbent president to have an approval rating below 50 percent one month after winning re-election. The question had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points."

Save Social Security: Where Do Your Legislators Stand?

A good start to the long battle to come over the future of one of FDR's most successful New Deal programs.


Powell speaks out more on War (later in article)..

Powell characterized the strategy (Iraq) this way: "Try to solve it peacefully. If you can't solve it peacefully and the problem is still there and it does require military action, then get a coalition to undertake that military action."

One must wonder how supportive Powell really is/was of V.P. Cheney and Sec. Rumsfeld. It's been recently told he would try to keep them away from Pres. Bush if possible.

Rumsfeld to personally sign all condolence letters

The Defense Secretary came under criticism recently when it was discovered he was using an autopen to sign letters to families expressing sympathy for their fallen loved ones. It's one thing to use an autopen for general correspondence. To use it under these circumstances is just another sign of Rumsfeld's ambivalence to the needs of troops and their families.


Bull Moose weighs in on Time's person of the year.

"He is the Mr. Magoo of American politics who has presided over a war that was based on a premise that was wrong and a post-war period that has proven to be disastrous. He eschews all responsibility and admits no wrong.

He is America's chief beneficiary of the soft bigotry of low expectations."


Scrooge & Marley, Inc. -- The True Conservative Agenda by Thom Hartmann

Hartmann wrote this piece this past summer, but with Christmas a week away and Republicans looking to dismantle Social Security, it's title and content are timely. Several parts of the article debunk conservative and libertarian assumptions about founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson, whom they claim would support their contemporary economic ideologies.

"Those seeking profits," Jefferson wrote, "were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Indeed, it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government. No other depositories of power have ever yet been found, which did not end in converting to their own profit the earnings of those committed to their charge."

A new EPA rule would allow wastewater treatment facilities to dump sewage into lakes and rivers.

Doug Hissom reports in this week's Shepherd Express on how that could affect the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD):

"The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District may be able to blend to their heart's content if a new EPA plan is put in place. "Blending" is when partially treated sewage is released, a trick MMSD's operator, United Water, has used to avoid massive untreated overflows. The new rule, expected within a few weeks, reverses current regulations calling for full treatment. Expect more beach closings, dumps in the lake, and maybe another cryptosporidium outbreak or two, environmentalists say, which would threaten the health of the 35 million people who drink and use Great Lakes water."

MMSD has repeatedly faced criticism for the practice from local conservative talk show hosts looking to criticize city officials. I wonder if they'll be as vocal on the fact that their favorite president's EPA has endorsed the "blending" process.


The momentum is growing within Republican ranks for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be given the boot.

  • Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) now says Rumsfeld should be replaced.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee fired off an angry letter to Rumsfeld Wednesday about the status of up-armored Humvees in Iraq.
  • Even neoconservative columnist William Kristol wants Rumsfeld out.
  • Retired Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, of Gulf War fame, expressed anger at Rumsfeld's performance last week during a question and answer period with American troops in Kuwait.
  • Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told the Associated Press that he has no confidence in the Defense Secretary.
  • Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has repeatedly expressed displeasure with the way the Iraq war has been administered, and Rumsfeld's job performance.

Newsweek interviews Afghan president Hamid Karzai in this week's issue.

NEWSWEEK: Is there an official amnesty policy to welcome back these so-called good Taliban?
KARZAI: The Taliban are welcome to join us. It's their country, too.

NEWSWEEK: Would hard-line elements in your new government be open to dealing with the Taliban?
KARZAI: Yes, of course. Everyone in the government is open to it. We have discussed it already. Everyone wants them to come back.


Wisconsin AG finds no wrongdoing in records destruction

An update to this story from March. According to the state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, the destruction of 129 boxes of old state records was caused by “employee error in the manipulation of a data sorting system.”

No intential wrongdoing, just good old unmindfulness by an employee.


Thomas Oliphant for the Boston Globe: What they don't tell you on Social Security reform

Social Security was created as part of FDR's New Deal program in 1935, and it's been very successful. That's precisely why ideological conservatives want to dismantle it. Democrats have been accused for years of crying wolf for saying Republicans want to take away Social Security. Now that the GOP controls all the branches of the federal government, they're attempting their first move to chip away at the program by allocating Social Security dollars toward Wall Street via so-called "private accounts."

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that even with conservative estimates in economic growth, Social Security revenues can fund the program until 2052. Thereafter, it should still be able to fund 81% of the benefits. To blow up the whole program when adjustments can be made before then is absurd.

It's also worth repeating that Social Security is not a pension program. Many of us, myself included, are investing in 401Ks, IRAs, thrift savings plans and such for that purpose. Social Security is an insurance program meant to provide a minimum income standard for our retired citizens, and those unable to work for reasons beyond their control.

For more reading on the subject, check out economist Paul Krugman's column from last week.

On Monday, members of the Electoral College met across the country to cast their ballots for president, and Americans were on the edge of their seats awaiting the outcome as delegates met in state capitals around the country.

The suspense surrounding West Virginia Republican delegate Richie Robb's decision has come to an end. Robb had threatened to cast a ballot against George W. Bush regardless of the election results, but held his nose and voted for the incumbent president instead the Moonie Times reports.

In Minnesota, state officials were shocked to learn one of the ten DFL delegates cast a ballot for someone named "John Ewards" thus granting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry only nine electoral votes from the state.


Add Wisconsin's Rep. Mark Green to the list of Republicans who voted to change caucus rules to allow indicted members of the House of Representatives to serve in a leadership role.

As previously reported here, Rep. Paul Ryan opposed the rule change and Rep. Tom Petri supported it although the paper points out they weren't present for the actual vote. Rep. James Sensenbrenner once again ducked the question.

Bush picks EPA chief Michael Leavitt to be HHS Secretary

Awaiting word as to whether Leavitt is also surprised that terrorists haven't infiltrated our food supply.

The Bernard Kerik story has played out over the weekend, and there's not much to add to what's already been poured over. If you've been completely ignoring the news since Friday afternoon though, Kerik withdrew his nomination to be President Bush's main man at the Department of Homeland Security.

The excuse was that he had one of those illegal immigrant nannies that have done in many a politician in line for a promotion. The actual reasons are somewhat different.

The History Channel presents the Real Story of Christmas.

From Atrios.


Bill Scher, of Liberal Oasis, explains why the passage of the intelligence reform bill this week is a victory for Democrats.

This bill was passed because the families of the 9/11 victims, the 9/11 Commission, Democrats and sensible Republicans kept up the political pressure to make it happen. If they hadn't, many Congressional Republicans and the White House would have gladly watched it fade away into legislative oblivion.

We also got a glimpse into how the House of Representatives is going to operate when the 109th Congress opens next year. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert had the votes to pass the bill in November but held up the vote, because the majority of Republicans in the House opposed it.

Deadly shipwreck now a major Alaska oil spill: Slick measured at 2.5 miles in diameter and expanding

"Thousands of gallons of heavy bunker fuel and diesel spilled from a soybean freighter that was ripped clean in half off the shore of Unalaska Island. Near a wildlife refuge 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, the area is home to sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, tanner crabs, halibut and kelp beds."

The Children of Iraq

The images are saddening, frustrating, and horrifying. These are children who are now being raised in a climate of despair and instability. Then there are those who have been killed or are maimed for life.

The last third of the images are graphic. There, you've been warned.

Milwaukee Issues Weigh Heavily on Doyle Re-Elect Chances by James Rowen.

Rowen, who worked for former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist, knows what he's talking about when he says Democratic governor Jim Doyle needs Milwaukee voters to be passionate about his re-election. Sen. Russ Feingold is certainly more liberal than Doyle, yet Feingold just won a third term easily defeating opponent Tim Michels.

Doyle needs to take on the state Department of Transportation (DOT), a state agency which, as Rowen points out, recently awarded a $685,000 no-bid contract for a website about the reconstruction of the Marquette interchange in downtown Milwaukee. When's the last time any of you web designers out there saw a nice gig like that?

Doyle's biggest threat likely comes from a potential challenge from Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Walker won in a special election back in 2002 after a pension scandal at the county. Yet Walker, a Republican, is on record in favor of freeway expansion in the city and although he claims to be a staunch defender of taxpayer dollars, hasn't spoken out about the Marquette website deal or the bloated budget at the state DOT itself.

If Doyle takes on the DOT and the roadbuilders, he may lose a few campaign contributions, but he will earn the respect of city residents who oppose major freeway expansion and state residents who want their tax dollars spent more wisely.


Back in late March when the Air America radio network premiered, we heard all the doomsday predictions from conservatives who wanted it to fail. We haven't heard anything lately from those same folks who would now have to concede that liberal radio is fast becoming a success.

The network is now at 40 affiliates with reportedly more to come after the new year. They have also secured new financing and brought on Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser as their chairman. Also, Al Franken and Randi Rhodes have renewed their contracts with the network with Morning Sedition hosts Marc Maron and Mark Riley and others expected to follow.

The success of Air America really started when they moved from a model of purchasing radio stations to seeking out affiliates who wanted to air their programming. The shows themselves have also matured whereas when they started their flow was a little rough around the edges. With conservative radio getting more boring by the day as the hosts read the daily marching orders faxed to them by Grover Norquist, Air America and other liberal talk show hosts like Ed Schultz are seeing the fruits of their labor pay off.

"If you think the 10 commandments being posted in a school is going to change behavior of children, then you think employees must wash hands is keeping the piss out of your happy meals. It's not." -Jon Stewart on Larry King last night.


U.S. GIs Hit Rumsfeld With Hard Questions

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., concluded after asking again.


A new study by the Institute for Wisconsin's Future says Wisconsin's tax burden ranks 15th in the nation in taxes and fees. The state also ranks 18th in overall spending among the states.

This isn't what we've been told by the alarmist Republicans in the state legislature who continue to endorse the idea of amending the state's constitution to limit local government spending in the form of the so-called Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). If folks at the local level and their legislators want to spend more, they ought to be able to do so without having to genuflect to the state legislature by going through a referendum. Likewise, if those citizens think their local governments are spending too much, they have the opportunity to vote them out of office.

Something to remember is that each state works differently in how it collects revenue. Some put more of the burden on fees, and others focus more on property, sales and income taxes.

Ohio recounts pending as state certifies presidential election

While I don't expect the outcome of the election to change, I'm in full support of a hand recount in Ohio. There have already been examples of Bush receiving thousands more votes than he should have due to mechanical and clerical errors. That's a primary reason why the public should oppose electronic voting machines with no paper trail. With such machines, there's no way to actually have a manual recount should it become necessary.

The public ought to be able to have confidence in its democracy and its vote. The alternative is we become Ukraine.


We've got an update to the DeLay rule change story from a reader who has received her letter on the issue from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, of Wisconsin's 5th Congressional district. Here are a couple quotes from it:

"I believe that those who have committed illegal acts should be punished. At the same time, I do not endorse personal Member-to-Member attacks based on partisanship."

"This partisanship is especially dangerous in matters of foreign policy, when the lives of our troops are on the line."

Not surprisingly, the letter gives us no news of the Congressman's actual position on the rule change, but serves up plenty of rhetoric to chew on.


Bush sets out plan to dismantle 30 years of environmental laws

From the Independent newspaper in the UK:

"In little over a month since his re-election, they have announced that they will comprehensively rewrite three of the country's most important environmental laws, open up vast new areas for oil and gas drilling, and reshape the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

Contrast that with the Republican president of 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt. He was committed to environmental conservation, expanding the country's national park system, and protecting America's forests and wildlife.


Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says

A congressional report has found that many American kids are being taught lies in their abstinence education classes. Some of the interesting assertions being taught include the idea that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, touching a person's genitals can cause pregnancy, that a 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person", HIV can be spread via sweat and tears, and condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31% of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

Who needs scientific facts when you have moralistic good intentions? There's $170 million of your tax dollars well spent.

The closing paragraph of the Washington Post article reads like a punchline to the ridiculous nature of the curriculum under scrutiny:

Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."


Election Day has come and gone, but as consumers we also get to vote every day with our dollar. Enter Choose the Blue, a website that tracks corporate political contributions.

Just enter in a company's name, and you can find out by what percentage they favor Republican or Democratic parties or if they split the difference. It's a useful site for people who wouldn't mind throwing a few more bucks toward companies they agree with politically, and fewer toward those they don't.


The world responds to in the form of

Thank you world for being so understanding.