Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Think Wisconsin's a big tax and spend state relative to the rest of the country? Check out this chart from the US Census Bureau.

It has our fine state listed as 16th in the nation in overall collection of revenue, and 25th per capita. In spending, Wisconsin ranks 15th in spending (16th per capita).

Link courtesy of Grassroots Northshore.

As you're no doubt aware, Terri Schiavo passed away today after being off her feeding tube for 13 days.

Unfortunately, her death is not going to stop right-wing reactionaries from using her as a political football. Guys like Rep. Tom DeLay are already using it to distract people from focusing on his acts of corruption.

The fact that the majority of Americans have seen through all the noise provides some hope. Also, conservative commentators like Joe Scarborough have looked like complete fools as they have gotten called out either not knowing the facts or intentionally misleading their audience on the case.

By the way, for those who would have us believe this whole case turned out the way it did because of the rulings of liberal activist judges, several of the judges involved were appointed by Republicans including President George W. Bush himself. This minority faction of powerful interests has no shame.

I've just received word that this blog has been included in MKE Online's blog of the week poll.

The poll started today, and continues through Wednesday, April 6th. So get on over there and vote for Brewtown Politico (it's #8 in the list), and tell your friends too. If elected, I promise to uphold the honor and integrity of Blog of the Week, and continue pretty much what I've been doing on this site these past two years.

The Montgomery Advertiser has run a positive editorial about our own Sen. Russ Feingold. The commentary comes in response to his trip to Alabama where Wisconsin's junior senator sought to mend fences after some comments he made in a Salon article ticked off the mayor of Greenville, AL.

It's an open question as to whether Feingold will indeed run for president in 2008. In the meantime, it's commendable that he sees the long term importance of spreading the progressive message to even the "reddest" areas of the country.

WUWM aired their piece on local bloggers today, but it turns out I'm one of those they interviewed who didn't survive the editing process. They didn't end up using much audio from the bloggers themselves since the bulk of the time was spent talking with the director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project about bloggers and the impact of the medium.

There should be an archive of it available on their site today if for some crazy reason you'd still like to hear it without yours truly. ;)


A Law Gets Lost: Some Creditors Make Illegal Demands on Active-Duty Soldiers

Some families of men and women serving overseas are getting screwed over by banks and other creditors who are trying to collect on debts, and in some cases threatening foreclosure on mortgages. This is in direct violation of a law passed in 2003 which protects soldiers and their families. From the article in the NY Times:

"The law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, protects all active-duty military families from foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service. The Supreme Court has ruled that its provisions must "be liberally construed to protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation."

Yet the relief act has not seemed to work in recent cases like these:

¶At Fort Hood, Tex., a soldier's wife was sued by a creditor trying to collect a debt owed by her and her husband, who was serving in Baghdad at the time. A local judge ruled against her, saying she had defaulted, even though specialists say the relief act forbids default judgments against soldiers serving overseas and protects their spouses as well.

¶At Camp Pendleton, Calif., more than a dozen marines returned from Iraq to find that their cars and other possessions had been improperly sold to cover unpaid storage and towing fees. The law forbids such seizures without a court order.

¶In northern Ohio, Wells Fargo served a young Army couple with foreclosure papers despite the wife's repeated efforts to negotiate new repayment terms with the bank. Wells Fargo said later that it had been unaware of the couple's military status. The foreclosure was dropped after a military lawyer intervened."

Radio/TV columnist Tim Cuprisin has stumbled across our petition to bring liberal talk radio to Milwaukee.

While he correctly points out that petitions don't decide what programming is placed on the airwaves, the fact of the matter is it's merely a vehicle to point out that a lot of us feel a market is not being served in brew city. Hopefully, it will help wake up some broadcasters and program directors to the idea that they would be better served airing such programming on one of their frequencies.

The petition is online at if you wish to sign it and/or send it on to others who may be interested in doing so.


For those who are interested, I'm going to be on WUWM's At Ten program this week discussing the ever popular topic of the blogosphere. They interviewed myself and a variety of other bloggers so it should be an interesting listen.

If you're in Milwaukee, the show airs Wednesday at 10am and 10pm CST on 89.7FM. Otherwise, you can listen online and download archives of the show in WMA format as well.

UPDATE: Looking at the show's schedule, it appears the piece has been bumped to another day. I'll post an updated day/time when I learn more from the folks at the station.

The local daily had a good article in Sunday's paper about the perspective of Wisconsin's senators regarding the impending showdown on federal judicial nominations, and the potential nuclear option by Republicans.

What's interesting is it seems many GOP members of Congress believe (wrongly IMHO) the recent decisions by judges on the Schiavo case are going to decrease public confidence in the judicial branch.

In fact, many of the judges who rebuffed the case are conservatives, some of whom were even appointed by President George W. Bush.

So much for the idea that this is an example of that tired old argument of "liberal activist judges" writing law from the bench.

Brewtown Politico sells out!

I've added Google's AdSense to the sidebar to help support the site so if you take a moment to click on over to a site that interests you, it's much appreciated.

End of line.


From Reuters: Many Germans want Berlin Wall back

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nearly a quarter of western Germans and 12 percent of easterners want the Berlin Wall back -- more than 15 years after the fall of the barrier that split Germany during the Cold War, according to a survey.

The eastern half, under Soviet control throughout the Cold War, has had a rough time assimilating into the rest of Germany with unemployment running much higher there than in the western half. Old grudges and stereotypes have also survived over the years after the fall of the wall:

The poll also found that 47 percent of the easterners agree with the statement that the West "acquired the east like a colony", while 58 percent of the westerners back the statement that "easterners tend to wallow in self-pity".

Device That Blocks Fox News a Mixed Bag for Creator

Formerly a registered Republican, even a precinct captain, Kimery became an independent in the 1990s when he said the state party stopped taking input from its everyday members.

Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies are never retracted, and what winds up on the air is more opinion than news. "I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he says. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."


Jerry Springer is moving his radio show to the Air America radio network.

The show, which broadcasts out of Cincinnati, will replace the underperforming show Unfiltered which suffered from a lack of syndication on the one year-old radio network.

Springer was elected mayor of Cincinnati in 1977, and attempted a run for governor in 1982. While he came in third in the primary that year, he has maintained an interest in Democratic politics, and was an Ohio delegate at the 2004 DNC. Apparently he's trying to move beyond his reputation for running one of the trashiest talk shows on daytime television. That's fine since guys like Howard Stern, Mancow and numerous morning zoo shows have already cornered the market on exploiting white trash on the radio end of broadcasting.

Bush Approval Drops Amid Souring Economic Views

"PRINCETON, NJ -- President George W. Bush's approval rating is now at 45%, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted March 21-23. This is the lowest such rating Bush has received since taking office, although it is not significantly different from the 46% approval rating he received in May 2004."


Tonight, we shift our focus to Rhode Island where Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) faces re-election in 2006. Chafee is one of those northeastern moderates, or RINOs as the right wing likes to say. He's enjoyed support from his home state after taking over the seat from his late father Sen. John Chafee.

These days, however, Lincoln Chafee is looking at a tough re-election fight next year against a yet unnamed Democratic opponent. While Chafee often votes with Democrats on issues like the environment, abortion, and fiscal sanity, he's been unwilling to change parties. In past years, it may have been less of an issue, but with Democrats out of power, Chafee is one seat standing in the way of them retaking control of the Senate.

When I worked on the Hill, I had a chance to meet Chafee and thought him to be a nice enough guy and I respected his independence when it came to his positions on issues. I remember reading that one reason he had stayed with the Republican party despite its shift to the right was that his family has had a long legacy of involvement in the party. Considering that he's serving in his father's former seat, I can imagine that would be a decision he wouldn't take lightly. Having said that, today's Republican party is not the party it was when Chafee's father served. There are even rumors the party may run another candidate in the Republican primary to oppose Chafee.

On the Democratic side, the speculation currently is that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) will seek the Senate seat. If Chafee wants to retain it, his best hope at this point is probably to either become a Democrat or pull a Jeffords and become an independent and caucus with the Democrats.

The HBO website has posted a preview of the upcoming documentary Left of the Dial which covers the rise, fall and resurgence of Air America.

Drudge has posted a synopsis of the show which is set to air March 31st on HBO.

I'm also urging readers to take a few moments to sign a petition to bring the Air America network and other liberal talk radio to Milwaukee where conservatives currently dominate the airwaves.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Shooter had a plan, FBI says

"Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called on Judiciary Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to take 'immediate committee action' in response to the shooting.

'It is difficult for us to conceive of a more pressing public policy matter than protecting our children from school violence,' the Democrats wrote."

While I'm not sure what types of legislative measures could have prevented this horrible event, it's certainly worth holding hearings on the problem of school violence, what causes it and what role the government should play in trying to prevent more incidents like this from happening.

I know the news is saturated with coverage on the Schiavo story, but I found this latest Gallup poll data interesting. The results show across political and religious lines, the majority of Americans support the decision to remove the feeding tube.

However, CNN got caught red-handed creating a distorted graph using the Gallup data where it appears Democrats far outnumber Republicans and independents when it comes to supporting that very decision. Anyone who has taken statistics in college knows this is one of the ways to intentionally mislead people into thinking a poll says something it doesn't.

The Associated Press has obtained documents under a Freedom of Information Act request showing that Osama Bin Laden was in Tora Bora during the US operation in October 2001.

That's according to a witness detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who says he helped him escape. The unidentified detainee was reportedly a commander for Bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The IRS is finally investigating illegal campaign activity by some of the nation's churches.

During the campaign, reports came out about Bush/Cheney 2004 asking churches to send their directories to their campaign so that members could be recruited as volunteers and solicited for donations. The agency is also investigating an an event where Sen. John Kerry spoke to a congregation at a Florida church.

The IRS certainly isn't on everyone's list of favorite government agencies, but they're doing the right thing here. As part of the tax-free status that our nation's churches enjoy, they shouldn't be engaging in this type of campaigning.


Over at the Vast Dairy State Conspiracy, Stacie has a great follow-up on Rep. Daniel LeMahieu's proposal regarding birth control access at the University of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported over the weekend that LeMahieu would be introducing a bill to prohibit students from obtaining emergency contraception through the school's health center, something they are currently allowed to do.


Raw Story has a copy of the Republican strategy memo for exploiting the Terri Schiavo story for political gain.

According to DC's Inside Scoop, it's rumored that the office of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is the source of these fine talking points.


The Republican controlled state legislature in Wisconsin is once again interfering in the private lives of adults.

The legislature is considering a bill to prohibit the University of Wisconsin-Madison from providing birth control to students. It's laughable that anyone still buys into the notion that these "conservatives" want a smaller government.

"Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, enthusiastically backs the ban, saying birth control promotes a "contraceptive mentality" hostile toward life. She acknowledged science can't always say how the pill works but said 'we advocate always erring on the side of life.'"

While not all opponents of abortion are against birth control, Hamill speaks for a large segment who oppose the very notion of contraception and sex that isn't meant to produce children.

Around Wisconsin, protests for second anniversary of Iraq war


UWM owns Boston College to move on to the Sweet Sixteen!

UWM is in the NCAA tournament for the second time, and has now won two games. They will play #1 ranked Illinois in the 3rd round of the tourney next week.


Business leaders in Colorado are urging their state legislature to revise their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

"TABOR was passed by Colorado voters in 1992 to limit how much the government can collect and spend. It has come under fire recently after state budget woes forced the state to cut funding for various programs. Some business leaders claim TABOR handcuffs state government from maintaining transportation, education, health care and other infrastructure systems vital to business.

'The business community has said this is not good for business, and this is not good for Colorado,' said Gail Klapper, who signed the ad and is director of the Colorado Forum, which represents about 60 businesses statewide."

Despite the negative impact TABOR could have on the Wisconsin economy and infrastructure, Republicans are continuing to push for it here. Their plan would amend the state Constitution and put a cap on what local governments are allowed to collect and spend in taxes.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Sen. Russ Feingold's campaign has registered Normally, this wouldn't raise any eyebrows except that Feingold is not up for re-election for his Senate seat until 2010 fueling speculation he is exploring a run for president.

"'We saw so many sites being snapped up out there that we reserved a few sites,' says George Aldrich, Feingold's past campaign manager. He notes that many sites, such as, seeking to draft Feingold, are already taken and some already have content. Others are parked by supporters in case Feingold decides to run."

A whois search shows the campaign has registered the .net and .org variants of the domain as well.


The crew over at Air America's Morning Sedition have given Milwaukee its own spot on their website in response to the petition.

If you haven't heard their show, give it a listen sometime via their website. It airs from 5am-8am CST weekdays.

Thanks to Jonathan Larsen, producer of the show, for setting the site up.

UW-Milwaukee upsets Alabama in the NCAA tournament!

It's UWM's first NCAA tournament victory in school history.

Rural Waukesha County Vanishing by James Rowen

A good piece on the negative effects of local urban sprawl. For those who would say "people should be able to live where they want," I would say that's all fine and good except don't expect the rest of us to build you sewers and roads to get there then. Since Waukesha has been so shortsighted in their planning, they've suddenly discovered they're running out of water. Their options are digging for new wells in the Waukesha area or turning to Milwaukee for city water. However, since most of the county is beyond the subcontinental divide, it currently is unable to obtain Milwaukee water by law.

I see no reason to open the door to giving water to communities west of the divide since elected officials from the affected western suburbs and exurbs have shown little ability to conserve the resources those areas already have.


Senate Votes to Open Alaskan Oil Drilling

The US Senate voted 51-49 today against removing funding in the federal budget for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Supporters of drilling believe that this will help make America energy self-sufficient. However, when you consider that recent US Geological Survey estimates that there's about 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Arctic Refuge when you take into account the cost of bringing that oil to market. Also, if we start now, that oil's not going to get to market for ten years.

In a nutshell, if you're expecting this scheme to lower your gas prices, it's not going to make a damn bit of difference. If we're serious about lowering our dependence on foreign oil, we ought to be talking about raising CAFE standards, and doing a better job of urban planning so we don't have to consume so much Texas tea.


I'm starting an online petition to bring liberal talk radio to Milwaukee. It's way past time that the rest of us have a broadcast outlet for our point of view in this city.

I've really had it with local talk radio to the point where I can't listen to much of any of it anymore since there's no response to the one side that's getting airplay. On WTMJ, You've got Charlie Sykes in the morning who doesn't seem like he believes half the crap he spews into the airwaves. In the afternoon, Jeff Wagner is the conservative talk show host for those who have a hard time with conflict. Then you have Jonathan Green in the afternoon which is just terrible radio. Hello, let's have three hours of commercials, interwoven with hacky right-wing jokes by a washed up radio guy. My guess is most people tune in to see how bad traffic is.

Mark Belling over on WISN is the conservative talk show host for the true believer. With the benefit of having his show begin immediately following Rush Limbaugh, Belling preaches to the converted but doesn't hesitate to eat his own when need be. He can actually be entertaining if you can get past how wrong he is on most everything.

There you have it. Milwaukee talk radio, all conservative all the time except when they're doing sports, although I do like the local sports talk on WAUK in particular.

Since we're dealing with the fact that Republicans control the entire federal government, and many state governments (including our own state legislature), it's time for another voice to be heard. I'd encourage conservatives to sign the petition as well. If you truly believe your way is the correct way, and that given all the information people will choose conservatism over liberalism, what are you afraid of?


The resume of corruption continues to grow for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). From today's edtion of the Financial Times:

"Among his troubles are new allegations about a trip Mr DeLay, his wife, two aides and two lobbyists took to Britain in mid-2000, during which he played golf at St Andrews and visited Margaret Thatcher. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Choctaw Indians and a gambling services company made donations to a Washington group that covered most of the $70,000 (€52,000, £36,400) costs of the trip, just two months before Mr DeLay helped defeat a regulatory measure the tribe and the company opposed.

Mr DeLay has said the trip was paid for by a Washington-based research group, as permitted by House ethics rules. But questions on the true nature and funding of this trip, and another to Korea, prompted calls for a full ethics investigation."

As has been widely reported, there was a terrible shooting at suburban Milwaukee hotel this past weekend. While attending a weekly church service at the Brookfield Sheraton, the suspect Terry Ratzmann fired off 22 bullets and then shot himself. Four people died at the scene and three at Froedtert Hospital where they were being treated.

He was a member of the Living Church of God, a Christian sect that doesn't celebrate Christmas or Easter and believes we are living in end times.

Ratzmann also maintained a website which will probably be taken down in the coming days.


The Online Coalition has a letter to the Federal Election Commission(FEC) raising questions about an upcoming rulemaking that could effect political communications on the internet, particularly blogs. I encourage everyone to give it a look and sign up so that these concerns can be aired.

Sen. Russ Feingold also spoke to this issue in a diary entry on MyDD earlier this week.

Avalon Theatre gets a Hollywood ending

Landmark Theaters plans to purchase the Avalon, one of Milwaukee's oldest remaining movie palaces located in Bay View, and reopen it as a theater. It's a happy ending to those of us who didn't want to see the owner convert it into office space.

Unfortunately, the planned Rosebud theater will not open in the new Outpost Foods as result of this development. For a neighborhood that has no theaters right now, it was a stretch to believe it could support two competitors right off the bat.

From a Boston Globe article regarding Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions:

"Romney can take heart in the survey's finding that only 34 percent of Bay State residents said Senator John F. Kerry, who drew strong support here for his 2004 campaign for the White House, should launch another bid for president. Fifty-seven percent were opposed to another Kerry run for president."

If Kerry's own constituents don't even want him to run for president again in 2008, he should think long and hard before pursuing the high office again.


So there's a proposal out there whereby Waukesha County will sell off the two year institution UW-Waukesha to the state of Wisconsin so that it can be merged with the nearby UW-Milwaukee.

I started my college career at UW-Waukesha before transferring to UW-Milwaukee, and a primary reason I would support such a merger is the pain in the ass it was to transfer credits between schools. I distinctly remember taking Math 105 and English 102 at UW-Waukesha. When I transferred, neither fulfilled my math or english requirements. It ended up not being a big deal since I tested out of them both, but that's beside the point.

As to whether this is a good idea, the only question that needs to be asked is if it makes the University of Wisconsin system more efficient in serving the students. If this had been in place when I was going to UWW, it certainly could've saved me some time and money.

Now that I think about it, all in one week we have Freepers agreeing with Krugman, Stacie agreeing with Republican state Rep. Scott Jensen, and me agreeing with Mark Belling. What the hell is the world coming to?!

The new Star Wars trailer is out.

There's a Quicktime version here, a smaller one here, and a torrent available here.


Okay, seeing as this is a Wisco-blog, I should probably weigh in on the shooting of the cats issue.

Basically, the proposal would allow hunters with small game licenses to shoot cats that aren't identified with a collar. There's problem #1. Just because the cat doesn't have a collar on means nothing. These days, many, if not most, cats are microchipped for identification purposes. So unless you have a scanner with an uplink to the database, there's no way of knowing if the cat's feral or domesticated. Also, good cat collars are of the breakaway kind so that if the cat gets caught on a tree branch for instance, it prevents the cat from choking. With this new proposal, that safety mechanism now has the unfortunate effect of putting the cat at risk of being shot to death.

The hunter who developed this idea probably didn't expect the kind of backlash from passionate cat people, and I'm sure he proposed it with the good intention of controlling the stray cat population.

The best and most humane method of dealing with strays is the Trap-Neuter-Release solution. You trap the promiscuous adult cat, get it fixed, and then release it (since it's feral by this age, it has zero chance of being adoptable). There are many veterinarians who participate in such programs along with volunteers who help with trapping the cat.

Cambridge Chatter, formerly of our fine state, speaks to this today as well.


As of March 1, 2005, all consumers in the midwest, including Wisconsin, have been eligible to get a credit report free of charge under a new amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

While you have to pay a fee to get your FICO credit score as part of the report, you can at least peruse your payment history with regards to loans, credit cards, and utilities and make any corrections. Mine looked in order except that I was reported to have worked for some employer I've never heard of. Upon seeing that, I promptly notified them and it should get corrected.

You can get your credit report online by going to and then selecting your state and one of three vendors.

For those who would say I never give the president any credit, I will extend him kudos for signing this bill which gives more power to consumers over managing their credit. If you're curious, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (H.R.2622 in the 108th Congress) passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Wisconsin's governor Jim Doyle could learn something from Montana's governor Brian Schweitzer.

Schweitzer is proposing the state legislature pass a bill to crack down on individual and corporate tax evaders who are cheating the state out of at least $10 million a year.

Maybe if we did such a thing here, Doyle wouldn't have to worry so much about people not paying sales taxes on their internet purchases.

Hell must be freezing over. Freepers are agreeing with NY Times columnist Paul Krugman on what a sellout the bankruptcy bill is to the banks and credit card companies.

Via Atrios.


Personal Accounts Tank in Polls, GOP Says

Notice the AP uses the GOP language of "personal accounts" as coined by Frank Luntz in his infamous strategy memo. It's neither here nor there though since the language hasn't helped sell the idea of destroying Social Security in the name of saving it.

Irish President McAleese headed to Brew City to salute Irish Fest

Nifty. Irish Fest is one of Milwaukee's better annual ethnic festivals.

Light posting tonight as I get set to watch my alma mater UW-Milwaukee play the Detroit Titans in the final game of the Horizon League tournament. The winner will advance to the NCAA tournament.

Tune into ESPN at 8pm CST to see some entertaining basketball.


There's an excellent history of the politics of Social Security over at Badger Blues. Every time the GOP has tried to undercut the program, they've lost either at the presidential or Congressional level.

As Ben at Badger Blues notes, their strategy has shifted with the most recent attempt to replace Social Security with private accounts. Now, those who despise the New Deal and Social Security are pretending they are trying to preserve them, but their actions speak the opposite.

The question becomes whether the public will see through their sales pitch, and hold them accountable at the ballot box as they have in the past. Recent polling data indicates this new strategy may be failing. The most recent Gallup poll shows support for the president's plan has dropped from 43% to just 35%.

While the president's latest response to criticism over Social Security is to set up a "war room," it may be too late if the Democrats stay united against the plan, and Republicans slowly jump ship.


US Senate to vote on minimum wage proposals

The minimum wage debate is set to shift this week from Wisconsin to Washington. Milwaukee and Madison have raised the minimum wage recently with La Crosse due to consider it. The cities passed the increases in hopes that the state legislature would consider an increase in the state's minimum wage.

The minimum wage increase before the Senate will come in the form of an amendment to the bankruptcy bill. In the House of Representatives, conservative legislators like Wisconsin's own Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner are opposing any amendments to the bankruptcy bill in order to fast track its passage, get it to the president and away from public scrutiny.


New York Times columnist Frank Rich goes after the mainstream media about the lack of news being reported and its failure to cover the Jeff Gannon story:

"Though a few remain on the case - Eric Boehlert of Salon,, Joe Strupp of Editor and Publisher - the Gannon story is fast receding. In some major news venues, including ABC and CBS, it never surfaced at all. Yet even as Mr. Gannon has quit his "job" as a reporter and his "news organization" has closed up shop, the plot thickens. His own Web site - which only recently shut down with the self-martyring message "The voice goes silent" - has now restarted as a blog with Gonzo pretensions. The title alone of his first entry, "Fear and Loathing in the Press Room," would send Thompson spinning in his grave had he not asked that his remains be shot out of a cannon."

Sylvia Feingold, mother of Sen. Russ Feingold, passed away Wednesday at the age of 86. My condolences go out to Russ and his family.


The bankruptcy bill, currently under consideration by the Senate, deserves to die.

The Boston Globe has an editorial mentioning a recent study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School which shows that between 46.2% and 54.5% of all bankruptcy filings are due to serious medical problems. As the article points out, the medical condition often forces that person to stop working. In other cases, it's the cost of the care that has bankrupted families.

Where is the effort by this president and Congress to address health care costs and access to care? Nowhere to be found. It's telling that this is one of the top priorities out of the gate for the Republican controlled Senate in the 109th Congress.


In a new column, David Sirota nails the point that it's easy for Republicans to cut taxes and act like fiscal conservatives in Washington since they can borrow and print more money. However, now that some of these former GOP Congressmen have become governors, their tune has changed dramatically on tax policy.

One glaring example of this is Mitch Daniels, who was President Bush's former budget director from 2001-2003. Daniels, now governor of Indiana, is raising taxes on wealthy income earners to balance the budget. Unlike in Washington, governors like Daniels have to actually balance a budget, make tough decisions and assign priorities to the responsibilities of government.

"...these governors are not seen as mere turncoats to be ignored - they are seen as mortal threats to conservatism itself. Because by embracing progressive policies during their states' budget crises, they are exposing conservatism as ill-equipped to deal with real-world challenges.

They are, in effect, publicly admitting that while the mantra of tax cuts and less government makes for nice rhetoric in Washington, it is virtually useless in solving concrete problems."
-David Sirota in his column available here.

As Milwaukee gears up for the inevitable reconstruction of the area's freeway system, lines are being drawn and sides taken on how to rebuild it.

As Waukesha Freeman reporter Dennis Shook opines, Citizens Allied for Sane Highways (CASH) has been one of the most vocal opponents of expanding the East-West freeway in the city of Milwaukee. In the Story Hill neighborhood alone (the area north of Miller Park), 140 houses and 13 businesses would be destroyed according to CASH.

Much to the chagrin of Waukesha officials, the state is leaning toward rebuilding the freeway from the Illinois border to Milwaukee first before tackling the East-West.

Schuldt said if she had the chance to talk to freeway expansion advocates like Kanavas and Finley, she would "invite them to come to Milwaukee. Then I would invite them to look these people in the eye and say, 'I want to tear down your house so I can get to the Zoo from downtown four minutes faster, some 20 years from now, during rush hour.'"

The local daily ran a column on the history of freeways in Milwaukee this past week for those interested.


High Court Ends Death Penalty for Youths

"'The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest,' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Juvenile offenders have been put to death in recent years in only a few other countries, including Iran, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia. Kennedy cited international opposition to the practice."