Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Brief personal anecdote

Where I work, they are advertising for a full-time driver to serve as courier between the customer and our office.

The ad first appeared in Sunday's Journal Sentinel. Since Monday, we've had over 70 applicants for the job, and many of them stopped in to personally meet with HR and apply. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised considering the number of layoffs recently at places like Tower in Milwaukee.

I found myself wondering how many other jobs each one of these guys has tried applying for only to get lost in a sea of resumes. Meanwhile, how many of them are trying to feed a family, or scrape together enough money to pay for gas in a given week? It made me sad.

$4 a gallon on the horizon?

Time to start walking more. Thankfully, I live in the city where mixed-use zoning isn't an endangered species as it is many of Milwaukee's suburbs.

From CNN Money:

"There's no question gas will hit $4 a gallon," Ben Brockwell, director of pricing at the Oil Price Information Service, said. "The question is how high will it go and how long will it last?"

OPIS tracks wholesale and retail oil prices and provides pricing information for AAA's daily reports on fuel prices.

Brockwell said with gasoline prices now exceeding $3 a gallon before even reaching the wholesale level, it "doesn't take a genius" to expect retail prices to hit $4 a gallon soon.

"Consumers haven't seen the worst of it yet," Brockwell said.

Flood protections cut for FY2006

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives voted to slash $71.2 million in federal funding for the New Orleans district of the Army Corps of Engineers. The real effect of these cuts would be that many future flood and hurricane prevention projects wouldn't see the light of day.

I want to stress that these cuts in funding had no effect on the hurricane damage we're seeing in New Orleans today since they are part of the Fiscal Year 2006 budget. That doesn't change the fact that cuts such as these have a real effect on the lives of people.

From the June article quoting Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA):

Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

"I think it’s extremely shortsighted," Landrieu said. "When the Corps of Engineers’ budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana."

Badger Blues has a related post on this subject.

Hannity misleads audience on funeral protest

Many of you are aware that members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka have been protesting the funerals of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The church was founded by Baptist minister Fred Phelps of fame. They have been showing up at many of these funerals claiming that these fallen troops are being punished by God for not opposing homosexuality.

As if that wasn't bad enough, right-wing lapdog Sean Hannity went on the air Tuesday and lied to his audience about who was responsible for these idiotic protests. On his radio show, he referred to the group as being from Kansas (while never identifying them by name), and then launched into this rant:

"I guess this is just another example of how the anti-war left supports our brave troops. Cause isn't that what they always say? They're disrupting the funeral tormenting a grieving family. Can you believe I even have to bring this story to the airwaves? And creating an incredible spectacle in the middle of an occasion to honor a guy who died serving his country! But of course they're supporting our troops. They're not supporting them, they're targeting our troops!"

Either Hannity's a complete moron who can't read the copy in front of his own eyes, or he's simply feeding his listeners with hatred for those who oppose the war by blaming them for something they have had no part in. We report, you decide.

It is telling that he has to resort to this kind of deception in order to drum up support for a war he's supported all along without question.

By the way, Phelps and his reactionary nutcases in Topeka are now thanking God for destroying New Orleans via Katrina.


Photos of Katrina

There are a bunch of photos up on Flickr submitted by people, many with a first hand account of the damage left by Hurricane Katrina.

The amount of damage in Louisiana and Mississippi is striking with photos like this one showing St. Bernard Parish, LA buried underwater.

The water level in New Orleans is still rising as a result of levees breaking. They were designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

Just how bad was music in '92?

Terrible judging from the top hits that year. Some others have contributed their music meme so I'll pile on. Like Jay and Jed, I graduated in 1992 which featured this list of 100 chart toppers. The ones in bold are those I like.

1. End Of The Road, Boyz II Men
2. Baby Got Back, Sir Mix A-lot
3. Jump, Kris Kross
4. Save The Best For Last, Vanessa Williams
5. Baby-Baby-Baby, TLC
6. Tears In Heaven, Eric Clapton
7. My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It), En Vogue
8. Under The Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. All 4 Love, Color Me Badd
10. Just Another Day, Jon Secada
11. I Love Your Smile, Shanice
12. To Be With You, Mr. Big
13. I'm Too Sexy, Right Said Fred
14. Black Or White, Michael Jackson
15. Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus
16. I'll Be There, Mariah Carey
17. November Rain, Guns N' Roses
18. Life Is A Highway, Tom Cochrane
19. Remember The Time, Michael Jackson
20. Finally, CeCe Peniston
21. This Used To Be My Playground, Madonna
22. Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough, Patty Smyth
23. Can't Let Go, Mariah Carey
24. Jump Around, House Of Pain
25. Diamonds and Pearls, Prince and The N.P.G.
26. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, George Michael and Elton John
27. Masterpiece, Atlantic Starr
28. If You Asked Me To, Celine Dion
29. Giving Him Something He Can Feel, En Vogue
30. Live and Learn, Joe Public
31. Come and Talk To Me, Jodeci
32. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
33. Humpin' Around, Bobby Brown
34. Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover, Sophie B. Hawkins
35. Tell Me What You Want Me To Do, Teven Campbell
36. Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg, TLC
37. It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, Boyz II Men
38. Move This, Technotronic
39. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
40. Tennessee, Arrested Development
41. The Best Things In Life Are Free, Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson
42. Make It Happen, Mariah Carey
43. The One, Elton John
44. Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, P.M. Dawn
45. Stay, Shakespear's Sister
46. 2 Legit 2 Quit, Hammer
47. Please Don't Go, K.W.S.
48. Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes), Mint Condition
49. Wishing On A Star, Cover Girls
50. She's Playing Hard To Get, Hi-Five
51. I'd Die Without You, P.M. Dawn
52. Good For Me, Amy Grant
53. All I Want, Toad The Wet Sprocket
54. When A Man Loves A Woman, Michael Bolton
55. I Can't Dance, Genesis
56. Hazard, Richard Marx
57. Mysterious Ways, U2
58. Too Funky, George Michael
59. How Do You Talk To An Angel, Heights
60. One, U2
61. Keep On Walkin', CeCe Peniston
62. Hold On My Heart, Genesis
63. The Way I Feel About You, Karyn White
64. Beauty and The Beast, Calms Dion and Peabo Bryson
65. Warm It Up, Kris Kross
66. In The Closet, Michael Jackson
67. People Everyday, Arrested Development
68. No Son Of Nine, Genesis
69. Wildside, Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch
70. Do I Have To Say The Words?, Bryan Adams
71. Friday I'm In Love, Cure
72. Everything About You, Ugly Kid Joe
73. Blowing Kisses In The Wind, Paula Abdul
74. Thought I'd Died and Gone To Heaven, Bryan Adams
75. Rhythm Is A Dancer, Snap
76. Addams Groove, Hammer
77. Missing You Now, Michael Bolton
78. Back To The Hotel, N2Deep
79. Everything Changes, Kathy Troccoli
80. Have You Ever Needed Somone So Bad, Def Leppard
81. Take This Heart, Richard Marx
82. When I Look Into Your Eyes, Firehouse
83. I Wanna Love You, Jade
84. Uhh Ahh, Boyz II Men
85. Real Love, Mary J. Blige
86. Justified and Ancient, The KLF
87. Slow Motion, Color Me Badd
88. What About Your Friends, TLC
89. Thinkin' Back, Color Me Badd
90. Would I Lie To You?, Charles and Eddie
91. That's What Love Is For, Amy Grant
92. Keep Coming Back, Richard Marx
93. Free Your Mind, En Vogue
94. Keep It Comin', Keith Sweat
95. Just Take My Heart, Mr. Big
96. I Will Remember You, Amy Grant
97. We Got A Love Thang, CeCe Peniston
98. Let's Get Rocked, Def Leppard
99. They Want EFX, Das EFX
100. I Can't Make You Love Me, Bonnie Raitt

Wow, there were some slim pickings that year. It's no wonder I was such a big punk and metal fan in high school.

If you wish to see if your top 100 is equally as hideous, go to Music Outfitters and type the year you graduated high school in the search box. The first search result will be the list of the top songs from that year.


The flawed Iraqi constitution

Salon columnist Joe Conason discusses the pending Iraqi Constitution, and the process by which we've gotten to where we are in Iraq today.

"The terrible irony, of course, is that this flawed process has badly damaged broader American interests in Iraq and the Mideast. Having been forced to choose among the Iraqi factions, we have assisted the Shiite factions aligned with Iran and advanced the cause of Islamism in southern and central Iraq.

Should civil war break out in the wake of a constitutional debacle, the withdrawal of American troops will become more difficult and more dangerous -- and the prospect of Iraq ending up as a failed state and an international base for Islamist terror far more likely."


Say goodbye to the 440th

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission has spoken, and the 440th Airlift Wing at Mitchell International Airport lost their battle to stay open. The eight C-130H transport planes will be removed, and some personnel will be moved to Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

As a consolation, General Mitchell Air Guard Station will be getting three KC-135 refueling aircraft allowing opportunities for at least some workers displaced by this decision. Earlier this week, the commission voted to keep Wisconsin's Fort McCoy intact.

Excerpt from the governor's statement:

"We recognize that the BRAC Commission had hard choices to make, and while this one didn't turn out the way we hoped, overall Wisconsin has come out of this process better than many other states. When we started this fight, there was great concern about the future of Fort McCoy - and we're very pleased that we were able to protect it, and secure additional resources to preserve the base well into the future."

Mitchell's 440th airwing currently has 1409 military personnel, and 379 civilian employees working there.


Drinkin' Liberally update

Thanks to the efforts of Stacie and Jason, we're on the verge of having a Drinking Liberally chapter in Milwaukee.

The draft plan is to have it at Club Garibaldi every other Wednesday of the month. Garibaldi has a lot of space in their back room with tables and chairs so they should be able to accomodate.

If you want some input in the planning process, head on over to this thread at the Vast Dairy State Conspiracy and leave a comment.


Pro-Life Wisconsin shows its true colors

Lest you had any doubt that the organization is run by some real extremists, read this column in the Shepherd by Bill Christofferson.

Chad Simon, a Marine from Wisconsin, was badly injuered in November while serving in Iraq. Simon never regained consciousness after an operation to remove part of his skull. He had a living will, and the decision was made to disconnect his feeding tube on August 4.

From Xoff's column:

Jack Schuster, the family's attorney, said Chad's wife, Regina, made the decision after much soul-searching and with a judge's approval. While the family seemed to be at peace with carrying out Chad's wishes, others who didn't know the Marine weren't happy with the family's decision.

Pro-Life Wisconsin, which calls itself "your 100% pro-life voice," accused HospiceCare of murder. "Sgt. Simon was rendered handicapped by the bomb in Iraq; he was murdered by those who were in charge of his medical care," the group's press release declared.

The group has since revised their press release, but has refused to apologize for their statements.

There's no place like Fox

It's one thing for them to have another night of O'Reilly lying or the anchors talking about another story involving sex and teenagers. This time, they've actually ruined the lives of an innocent couple who were guilty of nothing. Two weeks ago, Fox News incorrectly identified their house as the home of a terrorist.

In what Fox News officials concede was a mistake, John Loftus, a former U.S. prosecutor, gave out the address Aug. 7, saying it was the home of a Middle Eastern man, Iyad K. Hilal, who was the leader of a terrorist group with ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London.

Hilal, whom Loftus identified by name during the broadcast, moved out of the house about three years ago. But the consequences were immediate for the Voricks.

Satellite photos of the house and directions to the residence were posted online. The Voricks told police, who arranged for the content to be taken down. Someone even removed the street sign where the Voricks live to provide some protection.

What idiots. How people watch their dumbed down version of broadcast news is beyond me.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for this one.


Good God

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is cozying up to the religious right this week by coming out in favor of teaching "intelligent design" in public schools. The move is another sign of McCain trying to solidify his front-runner status for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

This whole pitch by right-wing interests to teach intelligent design AKA creationism in science classes is just ridiculous. For one, it's not science as University of Washington biology professor Richard Olmsted recently explained in an editorial.

Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, people are still trying to debunk evolution without any facts or evidence to back up their criticism. Instead, the push for "intelligent design" is simply a marketing gimic to undercut important science that students need to learn.

Teaching creationism in public schools has a place in a religious studies class where students can learn about it alongside numerous other faiths of note. It just doesn't belong in the science lab.

McCain interview via Political Wire.

Robertson's nuts. What else is new?

There's not much to add to the backlash against televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson's call for the assasination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson on Monday's program. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

There are crazies all over the political spectrum. Unfortunately for America, Robertson enjoys the support of millions of Christian conservatives who provide him with his power and influence in right-wing politics.

I did find this comment in the Metafilter thread amusing though.

Brian Wilson at the Pabst

Went to see the Brian Wilson show at the Pabst Theater last night with my dad. It was an incredible show in a beautiful venue.

For those who have heard Wilson's resurrected SMiLE album, you'll have some idea of just how complex it would be to perform this music live. Along with Wilson's backing band, consisting of guitarist Jeff Foskett and members of the Wondermints, they were joined by the Stockholm Strings and Horns. They not only provided essential musical elements for the performance, but also got into the act by wearing firehats during Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, and tossing carrots, cucumbers and other veggies around during Vega-Tables.

Wilson himself was in rare form. For most of the show, he provided the lead vocals and played his keyboard. During the encore, Wilson strapped on a bass guitar and paraded around the stage playing old crowd favorites Surfin' USA and Fun Fun Fun.

For those who haven't gained an appreciation for his music, or only know of the top 10 hits he did as part of the Beach Boys, I recommend picking up last year's SMiLE release, and the 1966 Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.


Protection from BS

More Americans need to start wearing these to events where our fearless leader speaks.

Then again, maybe they are and that's one explanation for his drop in the polls.

US oil consumption feeds Islamic extremism

Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria reminds us in his latest column that while the US may not have much control over the price of crude oil, we need not strive to be the most obese consumer of it. Adding to that, at a time when we are trying to quell the rise in Islamic extremism, perhaps we ought to consider policies that curb the amount of money that we contribute to some of these countries through our use of oil.

"Over the last three decades, Islamic extremism and violence have been funded from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not coincidentally the world's first and second largest oil exporters. Both countries are now awash in money and, no matter what the controls, some of this cash is surely getting to unsavory groups and individuals."

Andrew Sullivan adds his take on Zakaria's column at Daily Dish:
"Fareed writes that 54 percent of today's U.S. fleet of cars are made up by these ugly, behemoth tanks that guzzle gas, and make life miserable for everyone not in them. My anti-SUV ire always goes up in the summer, when I see these vast, bloated symbols of excess bulldozing down the narrow streets of Provincetown, pushing every bicyclist, pedestrian or small child out of their way. My only solace is thinking of how many of these SUV owners are pouring money away to keep their mobile homes on the road. Pity that same money goes to finance Islamist terror."

Unfortunately, many people want to have their cake and eat it too. The recent energy bill passed by Congress does nothing to raise fuel efficiency standards at a time when gas prices are rising rapidly.


State GOP leaders are lousy investigators

The leadership of the Wisconsin Republican Party may want to stick with its normal mission of running a political party. Earlier this month, the GOP completed its "investigation" of supposed voter fraud and forwarded their findings to US Attorney Steven Biskupic.

After party chairman Rick Graber, Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) held a press conference in front of one of the houses they cited, it turns out there was no fraud involved with any of these cases. In fact, the culprit was crappy bookkeeping.

Biskupic is quoted as saying there is evidence of double voting in some other cases. Let's hope he can now continue his investigation without any further interference from the crack team of wannabe sleuths over at Republican Party headquarters.

Drinking Liberally - Milwaukee style

I second Stacie's motion to get a Milwaukee chapter of Drinking Liberally going.

You may be asking what this group is all about. It's really not complicated at all as the organization's site explains:

"An informal, inclusive Democratic drinking club. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don't need to be a policy expert and this isn't a book club - just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it's not taboo to talk politics."

There are 91 chapters to date, and Madison, Minneapolis, and Chicago are already there.


National Review's McCarthy "off the bus" on Iraq

Andy McCarthy joins the growing chorus of conservatives who see what a failure the Bush Administration's Iraq policy is.

"Now, if several reports this weekend are accurate, we see the shocking ultimate destination of the democracy diversion. In the desperation to complete an Iraqi constitution – which can be spun as a major step of progress on the march toward democratic nirvana – the United States of America is pressuring competing factions to accept the supremacy of Islam and the fundamental principle no law may contradict Islamic principles."

H/T Kevin Drum.


Finley addresses water supply issue

In an interview with the Small Business Times, outgoing Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley says the water supply is the "major issue" facing the county.

Here are a few excerpts:

SBT: You mentioned the supply of drinking water. That's not a lifestyle issue. That's a life issue. How critical is the problem?
Finley: "It's very critical, and unfortunately, not enough people are aware of it yet. And it really comes down to two things, Steve: quantity and quality of our water supply. First of all, we were developing so rapidly, that we have not replenished the water we've been using. And secondly, we've discovered that much of our water supply is contaminated ..."

The deeper Waukesha digs into its aquifer, the higher the level of radium contamination there is. The other part of the problem is Waukesha has developed without regard to the effect on the environment, in this case the water supply. This is something critics of urban sprawl west of Milwaukee have been screaming about for years.

SBT: Ultimately, is the solution going to be to somehow bring water from Lake Michigan through Milwaukee County, which would be costly, or is it developing better and more water treatment facilities in Waukesha County, which also would be costly?
Finley: "The answer is there are a number of options, and you just mentioned two of them. There are options of digging more wells. There are options of trying to reclaim more rainwater. There are options to reclaim the Fox River. There are options of conservation. You know, we have little or no water conservation programs in Waukesha County. So, the answer here is it's going to have to be all of them."

Most of Waukesha County lies west of the subcontinental divide, and therefore it cannot, under current law, acquire water from Lake Michigan unless it is granted an exemption. This is highly unlikely, because it would require the consent of the states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes.

So whose fault is it that Waukesha has had "little or no water conservation programs" over the years? You've only been running the county for 14 years Dan! Fortunately for Finley, he's on his way out and will be drinking Milwaukee water at his new gig at the Public Museum.


Hagel: "We are seen as occupiers."

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is getting increasingly vocal in expressing his unhappiness with the Bush administration's Iraq policy. In July, he bluntly stated that "the White House is completely disconnected from reality" and "the reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

While traveling around his home state of Nebraska, Hagel enountered a lot of cynicism from his constituents about how things are going there.

Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, acknowledged the U.S. military presence was becoming harder and harder to justify. He believes Iraq faces a serious danger of civil war that would threaten Middle East stability, and said there is little Washington can do to avert this.

"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.

Hagel has said he agrees with the president that there shouldn't be a timetable written in stone for the withdrawal of troops, but has predicted that the US will start "withdrawing troops from Iraq next year." Not surprisingly, that would occur around the same time as the midterm elections.

Nebraska has voted Republican in presidential elections for decades, but this growing discontent with the war in Iraq now includes people who were previously very supportive of the policy.

"The feeling that I get back here, looking in the eyes of real people, where I knew where they were two years ago or a year ago -- they've changed," he said. "These aren't people who ebb and flow on issues. These are rock solid, conservative Republicans who love their country, support the troops and support the president."

Repeal the minimum markup on gas

The proposal to repeal the minimum markup on the price of gasoline in Wisconsin is a good idea.

The current law is essentially corporate welfare written into the state code. How many other businesses have this kind of mandatory price cushion given to them by the state?

"We're one of no more than a handful of states that maintain a law that came out of (the) Depression era that requires that there be an actual markup on gasoline. (What) people will notice when they come over the border from Minnesota is that there's a 10, 20, 25-percent drop. The reason is not nearly so much the tax as it is that we have the minimum markup law," Doyle said.

The minimum markup law, which has been in place since the 1930s, requires wholesalers to mark up their prices by at least 3 percent and retailers by at least 6 percent. Supporters of minimum markup say it helps prevent large companies from potentially running smaller retailers out of business.

Gov. Jim Doyle and many Republicans in the legislature appear to be on the same page on this one. At a time when commuters, truckers, families, and businesses are all being hit by the sharp increase in gas prices, now is as good a time as any to ditch this law.

Poll on Iraq

JSOnline's poll question of the day is on Sen. Feingold's resolution setting a date for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

Go take the poll here.


Buchanan on Sheehan

In his latest column, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan opines on why Cindy Sheehan's anti-war message has resonated and become a public relations nightmare for the White House.

Put bluntly, the bottom is falling out of support for the commander in chief. What is remarkable is that no Democrat has stepped forward, as Gene McCarthy did, to lead an anti-war crusade and call for a date certain for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Cindy Sheehan is filling that vacuum.

As the White House seems to be losing control of the debate, our war leaders no longer seem to be singing from the same song sheet. When the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Casey, spoke of "substantial" withdrawals of U.S. forces by spring, with Rumsfeld beside him, he was contradicted by Bush who dismissed this as "speculation" and reportedly rebuked.

Since the time Pat submitted this column, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has announced he will introduce a resolution calling for a complete withdrawal of US troops by the December 31, 2006.

Meanwhile, there are still reportedly 14 "enduring bases" being built in Iraq. This would be a good question for ambitious journalists to investigate since it looks like we have no plans for a complete pullout any time soon.

The impact of the county

Eye On Wisconsin has a good post on how Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker is driven by ideology when it comes to the needs of Milwaukee County residents. In this case, it's the county's Behavioral Health Division that Walker has continued to target.


"One of the last few years I was helping the person that I know lobby the County Board to restore the Targeted Case Management program. This person told me that they had an appointment with Scott Walker. They asked me if I would come with them, and I agreed. In that meeting I asked Walker that if the managers for the program could rework their staffing and other issues and came up with a slimmed down version of the program would he keep the program. Walker told me that he would “look at it.” The managers of the program did exactly that, and the result was a program budget that would not call for an increase in the tax levy to pay for it. What did Walker do? He once again tried to privatize it. It was at that point that I knew that Walker’s cuts and efforts at privatization where not about the budget, but about ideology and/or something more."

Read the rest here.


Those loving the gas prices

The Houston Chronicle had an article the other day about whether or not gas prices are affecting boating.

The article itself is sort of interesting, but this is the money quote:

"I love these prices. The higher, the better," said Frank Gafke, of Galveston, a senior service leader for Halliburton on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Gafke said Halliburton's profits - and his savings account - had increased markedly since fuel prices began rising. He predicted that prices soon will reach $3 per gallon for automobile drivers, as well as for recreational boaters.

And, he said, relief at the pump probably won't come anytime soon.

"Oil just hit $66 per barrel and gas jumped up 6 cents,'' Gafke said. "And if we take any action against Iran, that's only going to cause more price increases. But if you can afford the boat, it doesn't matter what gas costs."

87 Octane currently goes for $2.69-2.79 a gallon at most gas stations in the Milwaukee area.


A US Marine's PTSD reared its ugly head in Massachussetts over the weekend.

A decorated U.S. Marine, who had been treated for post-war stress since serving in Iraq, opened fire outside a Massachusetts
nightclub, wounding two people, Boston media reported on Monday.

Daniel B. Cotnoir will be arraigned on Monday on charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and assault with intent to murder after the incident early on Saturday in the city of Lawrence, The Boston Globe said.

Cotnoir had complained to police after a crowd of nearly 30 people gathered outside a nightclub and restaurant near his apartment. After someone hurled a bottle that shattered his bedroom window, Cotnoir fired "a warning shot," the newspaper said.

The bullet hit a 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man.

Thanks to Monkeyfister, Blah3 contributer and Navy Veteran, for posting this story.

This is a stupid idea.

It wouldn't be the first one from State Sen. Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis). In this case, he's proposing a constitutional amendment that would shift the responsibility for sustaining or overriding the governor's veto to the ballot box in some cases.

Way to go Tom. Anytime you have to do the hard work the voters elected you to do, just buck it back to them. Now that's leadership.


Maxwell's Silver Hammer

The old Beatles tune interpreted in a Flash cartoon.

Via MeFi.

From Sunday's WaPo: U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq

"We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. "That process is being repeated all over."

U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the sentiment among Kurds and Shiites to create a special status. The Shiites' request this month for autonomy to be guaranteed in the constitution stunned the Bush administration, even after more than two years of intense intervention in Iraq's political process, they said.


Speaking of talk radio, officials in New York are investigating a loan to Air America Radio from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club.

The loan reportedly took place in early 2004 when then Gloria Wise development director Evan Cohen was also serving as chairman of Air America.

The network's star, comedian and talk show host Al Franken, addressed the issue briefly on his show Monday. He called Cohen "a crook" and said the network's current managers had discovered the loans through forensic accounting.

"I don't know why they did it and I don't know where the money went. I don't know if it was used for operations, which I imagine it was," Franken said. "I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

He added that he believed the station has a moral obligation to repay the money.

When it came to light that Cohen had lied about the amount of money he had been able to raise to keep the network operating, he was forced out and replaced as chairman in May 2004. The management shakeup was profiled in the HBO documentary Left of the Dial.

Milwaukee finally has a liberal on the radio. Nicole Devin won WISN's Milwaukee Talk Star competition and will take over the morning drive timeslot on the station. Congratulations and best of luck to Nicole.

Next step: Christopher Walken for President.


Thomas Oliphant had a good piece in the Boston Globe this week on the state of the economic recovery.

"To be more precise, the country has still not recovered its lost jobs. In the private economy not tied to the boom-bust cycle of military spending, employment is still slightly down from its prerecession level and is not likely to catch up before the end of this year. Americans also know that the very brief dip in economic output four years ago was followed by a painfully slow resumption of growth. They also know that the tiny bits of improvement spiced by three rounds of tax cuts have been eroded or wiped out at the gasoline pump and in the sharp escalation of health care and housing costs."

Speaking of oil prices, I recommend Kevin Drum's writings on the problem of peak oil production.

Doyle Veto of Photo ID Bill: Episode III

The gov has again vetoed legislation passed by the legislature that would require a photo ID to vote in Wisconsin.

I addressed this same issue the last time Doyle vetoed the bill and the legislature failed to override it.

The governor needs to go on offense on photo ID lest he risk becoming Mark Green and Scott Walker's bitch on the issue. He should propose providing voter ID cards with a digital photo to residents who register to vote.

Meanwhile, Doyle did sign AB 61 which is part of his election reform proposal, and would actually address the problems associated with poll workers witnessed during the 2004 election. It's one step, but it shows that the state's election process can actually be improved when the politics of the governor's race are set aside momentarily.

David Sirota summarizes a Rolling Stone article about the state of Congress, and how deals are cut these days. Considering the recent passage of the obese highway bill, the piece is particularly timely.

From Sirota's piece at the Huffington Post:

"The problem with Congress is largely a problem with the corruption of the GOP. But, that said, the problem also involves Democrats, a powerful cadre of whom seem comfortable in the minority, and seem comfortable selling their souls to the highest corporate bidder. Unless Democrats really change, unify, and take up policies that challenge Congress's bought-off behavior, they will not be able to electorally capitalize on corruption."

No argument here.

The home of American punk rock will continue to operate thanks to a civil court ruling in New York on Wednesday.

The dispute involved about $100,000 in rent increases, interest and fees. The club says the increases went unpaid for four years because of a bookkeeping mix-up. CBGB's said it wasn't billed for the increases, but Rosenblatt said the increases were clearly stated in the lease. CBGB's rent is $19,000 a month.

In her ruling, Judge Joan Kenney praised the club's impact on the neighborhood, which she said was plagued by "destitution, degradation and substance abuse" when the club opened in 1973.

CBGB's was the club where bands like the Ramones, Patti Smith, the Talking Heads, and Blondie got noticed. The folks over at deserve some credit for helping win this fight.


Changes in the works for the 2008 Democratic primaries?

DNC chair Howard Dean says a study is underway about the nominating process. The study comes amid growing criticism that Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence in the process.

Many Dems were ticked last year when John Kerry locked up the nomination pretty quickly after Iowa. While he ran into some stiff competition from John Edwards here in Wisconsin, it wasn't enough to stop him.

It seems to me that at some point something has to give since every election cycle, more states move their primaries up to give themselves more of a say in the process.

For those of you who use Mozilla Firefox, there's a workaround for preventing pop-up ads. While the browser has pop-up blocking built in, some advertisers have recently found a way around the feature.

On a related note, I'm happy to report that a full 40% of visitors to this site are now Firefox users according to my latest stats.

Thanks to Skatz for the link.


As indicated earlier this week, the president has signed the $286 billion highway bill into law.

Upon signing it at a ceremony in suburban Chicago, our fearless leader once again demonstrated his remarkable ability to state the obvious:

"Highways just don't happen," Bush said. "People have got to show up and do the work to refit a highway or build a bridge, and they need new equipment to do so. So the bill I'm signing is going to help give hundreds of thousands of Americans good-paying jobs."

Here I thought all the work on the Marquette Interchange downtown was being done by a mysterious colony of highway building monkeys.

Baghdad Mayor Alaa al-Tamimi has been fired.

The mayor of the capital of Iraq was forced out this week when a group of armed men reportedly entered the municipal building and installed a member of a Shiite militia. The head of the city council ensures us there's nothing to see here.

The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control and that Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri.

"If we wanted to do something bad to him, we would have done that," said Mazen A. Makkia, the elected city council chief who led the ouster and who had been in a lengthy legal feud with Tamimi.

"We really want to establish the state of law for every citizen, and we did not threaten anyone," Makkia said. "This is not a coup."

Whew. I feel better already. Democracy in action.


State of the Nation

Pork-barrel spending, budget deficits, tax cuts, and benefit cuts for the troops coming back from Iraq.

Salon has an alarming article today about a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to go back over some 72,000 cases of vets who currently receive benefits as a result of being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"Veterans groups say the Bush administration's sticker shock from the Iraq war is behind the review. To them, the review of 72,000 PTSD cases is part of the administration's larger strategy to manage a budget that is already making it harder for veterans to get benefits or healthcare.

Last month, the V.A. admitted that veterans healthcare will be $1 billion more this year and $2.6 billion more next year than the agency previously claimed. The department says it underestimated the number of troops coming back from war, but critics say the agency was trying to lowball the V.A. budget. After beating back Democrats' efforts to give the agency more money, embarrassed Republicans quickly began moving $1.5 billion in emergency funds to the department. (Former House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman and New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith long sought more funds for the department. Veterans groups and Democrats think that the GOP removed him from that post in favor of Indiana Republican Rep. Steve Buyer because he might be more amenable to cost cuts.)"

If you're not a Salon member, view the ad to get a site pass and the full article. More people need to be reading about this.

Stephen Elliott has an entry at the Huffington Post talking about the "swift-boating" of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Army Spc. Casey Sheehan who died while serving in Iraq.

Sheehan and others have been camped out outside of President Bush's "ranch" in Crawford, Texas. She is vowing to stay until the president until he agrees to speak with her about the war.

While Drudge leads the charge to trash this mother, a blog called Meet With Cindy has been created to support Sheehan's efforts.

The Space Shuttle Discovery has landed safely in California after being rerouted due to some nasty weather in Florida.

Now that the shuttle is back, and the folks at NASA breathe a sigh of relief, the discussion will turn to if the shuttles should be retired prior to the scheduled year of 2010.

One thing I did find strange is that they used the oldest remaining shuttle in the fleet, Discovery, for the first shuttle mission since the loss of Columbia in 2003. While I plead ignorance on the various specs that make the shuttles unique from one another, I would have thought Endeavour (completed in 1991 to replace Challenger) would have been the obvious choice for this past mission.


Before running for the hills their districts, Congress passed a pork-filled $286.5 billion highway bill and sent it on to the president.

One of the most egregious projects in the bill, as Xoff points out at the link above, is the $230 million bridge to an island in Alaska populated by 50 people. Said one DC lobbyist who didn't want to be identified:

“That’s going to be a sweet bridge that six people a day use.”

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has sharply criticized the bill, and lists a number of pet projects contained in it including a few here in Wisconsin.

President Bush initially vowed to veto any highway bill that spent this much, but last week said he will sign it into law. This just begs the question of whether or not this president will ever veto anything, most notably excessive spending.

During my recent podcast hunting, I came across the Dawn and Drew show. I had read about the show in articles online and in the local media.

The hosts of the show (Dawn and Drew of course) are Milwaukeeans who now live on a retired farm in rural Wayne, Wisconsin. The shows are basically the couple talking about whatever comes to mind, and since the FCC isn't involved, it can get shall we say.. entertaining.

After starting the show less than a year ago, it has become one of the most popular podcasts available on Itunes and Podcast Alley.

BBC News has a column today by John Simpson that nicely summarizes the late Peter Jennings and how he viewed journalism.

"Peter did what he could to halt the downward spiral of television news in America - that terrible turning inward, which means the less you know about the world, the less you want to know about it, and therefore the less a ratings-obsessed industry decides to tell you."

"He loathed the arrival of the Fox network, with its open, noisy adherence to a political agenda, and believed it would destroy the old-fashioned notion of honest and unbiased reporting forever."

"Now, though, he seems to me like the last, best example of a tradition that had already started to vanish long before his death - the tradition of Martha Gellhorn and Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite, people who went and found out what was really happening before they started to talk about it."

Hat tip to Ben.


Hooray for quizzes.

You Are a New School Democrat

You like partying and politics - and are likely to be young and affluent.

You're less religious, traditional, and uptight than most Democrats.

Smoking pot, homosexuality, and gambling are all okay in your book.

You prefer that the government help people take care of themselves.


CIA Leak Case Rewind

My friend Phil has a column in Vital Source that sums up the whole affair rather nicely. It's worth reading to refresh your memory of the details, and players involved in the case. The column also explains how this all ties into the Iraq war and the Bush Administration's incompetence when it comes to foreign policy.

Contrary to wishful thinking by some bloggers, this thing is far from over.


From the Onion: White House Denies Existence Of Karl Rove

More great satire from one of the best weeklies around.

Ohio was hit hard this week with stories like this one:

"Rosemary Palmer and her husband, Paul Schroeder, were making plans to attend funerals of Marine reservists killed Monday when a relative saw two servicemen in uniform walking toward the house.

"My sister-in-law saw them and screamed, 'Get down here!' So we knew. They didn't even get a chance to knock," Palmer said.

The couple's son, Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder, and eight other Marines from Columbus-based Lima Company were killed Wednesday in the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) represents the Brook Park, Ohio district where 20 Marines killed this week in Iraq were from. Kucinich and Brook Park Mayor Mark J. Elliott have announced a memorial service will take place Monday at the I-X Center in Cleveland.

Bush 41 and his former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney visited Saudi Arabia today to offer condolences to the newly crowned King Abdullah for the death of King Fahd.

"Bush himself has had close ties with Saudi Arabia's royal family for decades. In 1990 he won Fahd's agreement to send half a million troops to Saudi Arabia to launch the war on Iraq that forced it to end its occupation of Kuwait.

But the decision to station non-Muslim soldiers in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines at Mecca and Medina, angered many Saudis and was a principle grievance of Saudi-born militant
Osama bin Laden."

According to Reuters, journalists weren't given access to the the US delegation.


Conservative columnist Robert Novak cries "bullshit" at James Carville live on CNN, reminding public that CIA leak case still exists.

Inside Politics host Ed Henry had planned to ask Novak about the case during the show. Novak walked off the set before Henry was able to move from the talk of Katherine Harris' Senate run to the CIA leak investigation.

Newt Nostalgia

Kevin Drum links to a post describing how former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was reasonable compared to those who rebelled against him and forced him out (Tom DeLay, Dick Armey).

"The sad thing is that he's right. It's hard to believe, but the leadership of the modern Republican party is now so insane that liberal Democrats can legitimately look back and say that Newt wasn't really all that bad."

There's more. In today's WaPo, ol' Newt warns Republicans not to write off the narrow victory by Republican Jean Schmidt in Ohio so quickly:

"There is more energy today on the anti-Iraq, anti-gas-price, anti-changing-Social Security and I think anti-Washington [side]," he said. "I think the combination of those four are all redounding to weaken Republicans and help Democrats. . . . I don't think this is time to panic, but I think it's time to think. If we don't think now, then next September [2006], people will panic when it's too late."

A group of Republican legislators are proposing legislation to scale back the governor's partial veto authority.

Funny, they didn't seem to care as much when Tommy Thompson was using and abusing this authority when he was governor. Even so, I actually agree that the Wisconsin governor's power is excessive and should be scaled back.

As the press release points out, before 1990, the governor was allowed to make whole new words by dropping letters off of words contained in a bill. This legislation would go further by taking that approach to words and sentences.

Flash-based public service announcement of the day:

How Pregnancy Happens

Give it a look. You just might learn something.


The state Republican party, Rep. Mark Green, and conservative bloggers are all over a report put out by the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) alleging Milwaukee is second in the nation for cases of voter fraud.

Conservative blogger John Cole analyzes the report and ACVR, and concludes the supposed non-partisan group is nothing more than a front group for Republican interests:

Sorry folks. I am calling bullshit on this group and on this report. The group was newly formed this year, it appears to be made up of nothing but Republicans, and for what it is worth, non-partisan groups concerned with voting rights don't issue reports that amount to little more than "Democrats are worse. Neener Neener Neener!"

Be sure to check out Brad Blog to see which media outlets got suckered into reporting on this phony story.

Brewtown Politico is Political Site of the Day for August 3, 2005. They've been giving out the award since the first selections were made in July of 1995.

Welcome visitors. Just to give a little background, this site has been in operation for about 2 and half years. I started it as a way to put to use my compulsive daily use of the net to keep up on current events. As the URL implies, I'm based out of Milwaukee, and therefore many posts focus on local politics, but with the world getting smaller and with events like the war, and high profile elections, a lot of time has been spent here focusing on national politics as well.

Thanks to the folks at PSoTD for the honors of the day.

Ohio's 2nd Congressional district had a special election yesterday to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Rob Portman who was appointed by President Bush to be a US trade representative.

The two candidates competing for the seat were Democrat Paul Hackett and Republican Jean Schmidt. Schmidt is a former state legislator who marches in lockstep with the president on the war.

Hackett is a US Marine reservist who just completed a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq, but has criticized President Bush on the war. Hackett was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1999, but volunteered for duty even though he opposed the US going into Iraq. Additionally, he has cited Bush's idiotic "bring 'em on" remark in 2003 as the "most incredibly stupid comment" he has ever heard a president make.

The district in question is solid Republican and voted 64% for Bush last November. Once the ballots were all counted, Schmidt won the seat with 52% of the vote to Hackett's 48%. However, the fact that Hackett almost pulled out a victory in such a "red" district is going to wake up GOP pollsters, and get them to ponder how vulnerable the House is to Democratic takeover in 2006.

Let the Republican rationalizing begin.


While apologists for John Bolton defend their guy for getting a recess appointment, let's remember that President Clinton's nominee for UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke actually turned down a recess appointment.

From the Washington Note a few days ago:

"The Holbrooke revelation came out earlier this week, thanks to Janine Zacharia and Roger Runningen, two reporters for Bloomberg. They wrote:

At one point during the long stalemate, White House officials raised the prospect of a recess appointment with Holbrooke, according to two people who were involved in the matter. Holbrooke refused, saying it would diminish his credibility at UN.

The recess appointment idea for Holbrooke was not public knowledge, even among most foreign policy insiders. Rather than accept the offer and weaken our hand at the UN, Holbrooke waited - for what turned out to be 14 long months. And Holbrooke, unlike Bolton, had the support of majorities in both parties."

Paul over at Public Brewery has posted the results of a research project about the Daily Show.

If you're a regular viewer, the findings will make a lot of sense. It's interesting to see the content broken down into percentages as it gives you a window into how Jon Stewart and the producers approach the show itself.


Tom Daykin has a column in the local daily about the future of the Pabst brewery site now that the city council has voted down the proposal to provide developers with a $41 million subsidy.

The options range from a scaled back version of the PabstCity project to selling the property to another developer. This passage in particular caught my eye:

"Any project at the Pabst site would require some level of city subsidies, industry professionals say.

PabstCity's request for $41 million included $16 million to create new streets, sidewalks, sewer lines, water mains and other public infrastructure; $14 million for environmental cleanup and demolition costs; $9 million for renovation of historic buildings; and $2 million for a job-training fund aimed at minority workers."

I've maintained that I don't have a problem with the city paying for infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, sewer and water, etc.) since that is the job of the city. The rest of the stuff should be the responsibility of the developers. They bought the land knowing they would need to improve and rehab the property itself, and they shouldn't have taken for granted that the city would step in and help pay for that.

It's official. The president has predictably bypassed the Senate appointed John Bolton to be UN ambassador.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported the nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation after Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) voiced his opposition to Bolton. The Senate then voted twice against cloture, rejecting his nomination to the high post.

Under the rules of recess appointments, Bolton will serve until January 2007 when a new Congress convenes. Without the Senate's approval, Bolton has been set up to be a particularly weak representative for US interests at the UN.