Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Wisconsin Republicans received dirty DeLay $$

Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) has returned his share of the PAC money he received from Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Will Wisconsin's congressional Republicans take the high ground and return their share as well?

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Rep. Mark Green received $29,414 and Rep. Paul Ryan received $25,390. The other two members of the delegation received far less with Rep. Tom Petri getting $1,295 and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner getting a measly $20 (what's the point?).

Eye on Wisconsin points out that both Green and Ryan also contributed $1000 to DeLay's legal defense fund, obviously knowing that the majority leader would someday need it. Green, who is running for governor, should send back that PAC money ASAP if he wants to stop this from becoming an issue in his campaign. As for Ryan, his consitituents should be disappointed that while he tries to maintain a reputation of independence, he is really quite beholden to the House Republican leadership.


Dreier's out, Blunt's in

Apparently, the House Republican caucus didn't take kindly to Speaker Dennis Hastert's selection of Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) to replace Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Indicted) as majority leader.

After a lot of behind the scenes posturing, the Republicans voted unanimously to make House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) temporary majority leader. Dreier's opposition to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage sealed his fate as the caucus decided to go with DeLay's second in command, a conservative from Missouri.

To recap, the House majority leader Tom DeLay was indicted yesterday on charges of conspiring to violate state election law. As Molly Ivins explains in a previous column, it's really hard to violate Texas campaign finance laws. DeLay and company managed to do it though by raising illegal corporate contributions.

Roberts sails through

Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts was confirmed on a bipartisan vote of 78-22 today.

Both Wisconsin senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold voted to confirm.

Bottled water not as good for your teeth

Some dentists are voicing concern about the amount of bottled water people, especially children, are consuming. The reason being that bottled water doesn't contain the fluoride that water from the tap does.

Bottled water may not be the best choice for children's oral health if it's all they drink. Most of it lacks fluoride, which can be a problem for children under 13, said Dr. Blane Christman, a dentist at Marshfield Clinic-Ladysmith Center.

"Some of it is just spring water, so it's like well water. The biggest thing with that is when the teeth are developing," he said. "A lot of new mothers are very, very aware they need to have fluoride for their children."

The bottom line: Want better teeth? Drink more tap water.

Carnival time

This week's host for the Carnival of the Badger is Real Debate Wisconsin.

It's chock full of blog goodness for your perusing. Head on over and give it a look.


Travis County DA a bipartisan prosecutor

Since apologists for the now indicted Tom DeLay are predictably going to cry foul about DA Ronnie Earle being a Democrat, let's examine his record shall we?

Media Matters points us to a recent editorial in the Houston Chronicle:

While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a June 17 editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: "During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts." This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: "Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats."

So much for that excuse.

DeLay indicted, steps down as majority leader

The grand jury in Texas has wrapped up its investigation. Result? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted.

From the AP:

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay's attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

DeLay has stepped down as majority leader. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has reportedly tapped Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) to take his place. This is why the House ethics rules change, AKA the "DeLay rule," was such an important issue last year.

Drinking Liberally tonight

The second meeting of Milwaukee's chapter of Drinking Liberally is tonight (Wednesday). It starts up at 7pm down at Club Garibaldi (2701 S Superior St).

Here's a map.

We had a great turnout the first time. Come on out for a drink along with a side dish of politics.

Final season of West Wing?

Tim Cuprisin's column in the local daily indicates the following:

The move of NBC's "The West Wing" to Sunday nights hasn't brought in new viewers, with only 9 million folks tuning in, a couple million less than last season's average.

The move to 7:00 CST Sundays means the show competes directly with the Simpsons. Certainly, not all Simpsons viewers are also West Wing viewers. However, I'm sure I'm not alone in being a fan of both shows, and I'm speaking as someone who doesn't watch a lot of televison. The departure of Aaron Sorkin combined with this time change may seal the fate of the West Wing, one of the few shows I've watched religiously for over five years.


Libraries: protectors of democracy

It's Banned Books Week again. This year the American Library Association has compiled a list of the ten most challenged books of 2004:

"The Chocolate War" for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence

"Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, offensive language and violence

"Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy and political viewpoint

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, for offensive language and modeling bad behavior

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, for homosexuality, sexual content and offensive language

"What My Mother Doesn't Know" by Sonya Sones, for sexual content and offensive language

"In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, for nudity and offensive language

"King & King" by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, for homosexuality

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group

"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, for racism, offensive language and violence

Also, be sure to check out the list of the 100 most challenged books from 1990-2000 as compiled by the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

England Convicted

Army reservist Lynndie England, she of pointing at Iraqi prisoner while smoking fame, was convicted by a military jury today on six of seven counts of abusing prisoners.

England was one of nine reservists charged with the abuse, and only the third to be convicted. The other six made plea deals. So far, nobody higher up the chain of command has been charged with any wrongdoing despite all we know about torture techniques being authorized.

For those who still insist on being apologists for the techniques that have been used in Iraq, perhaps you missed the news articles indicating that 70-90% of those arrested and sent to Iraqi prisons were innocent.


Deep Undercover

Tom Tomorrow is a genius. His comic "This Modern World" is a must-read this week.

There are some people who apparently will give this administration a pass every time they screw up.


Donahue riles O'Reilly

Former MSNBC talk show host Phil Donahue was on Bill O'Reilly's show debating the war in Iraq this week.

It got heated after O'Reilly tried to play the same game he plays with all his guests (get emotional, loud, and don't take the guest seriously). Donahue was having none of it.

This is the second C&L link I've posted in as many days, but I think you'll find it worth viewing.

Woot, Folkbum pwns blog of the week!

Congratulations to Jay for winning the second semi-final round of the blog of the week contest for MKE.

I'd like to think my vote swung it, but maybe it wasn't that close.


Roberts clears Judiciary Committee

On a 13-5 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced its approval of Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts.

Wisconsin's two Democratic senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold both voted in favor. They were joined by ranking member Pat Leahy (D-VT). You can read Kohl's statement here, and Feingold's statement here.

I'm actually not all that surprised that Roberts received the support that he did. He's been impressive during the hearings, and comes across as a very intellectual and reasonable judge. From what he said in committee, he agrees that Roe v. Wade is established case law, and ought to be respected. Considering the unqualified idealogues that the president could have nominated, Roberts may be a gift.

His nomination now moves to the full Senate where it's expected to pass.

Tucker vs. Maher

Crooks and Liars has a great clip from Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show from the other day.

He had on Bill Maher, and spent the time talking about the hurricane, FEMA, and Tucker's compulsive need to go after Bill Clinton. Needless to say, Maher easily handles the boy wonder of conservative punditry.

Paging Pedro Colon

The Wisconsin State Assembly voted to override a partial veto by Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday that cut $15 million in funding for nursing homes.

A two-thirds majority is required to override a veto, and with Rep. Pedro Colon missing from the chamber, only 64 votes were required according to the Republican leadership. Democrats in the Assembly are crying foul though accusing them of bending the rules in this case.

Democrats also contended the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote of all lawmakers present. Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, said Assembly rules define "present" as being recorded present on the day's opening roll call. Colon was there for the opening roll call, which meant there were 97 representatives present and Republicans needed 65 votes to reach a two-thirds majority, he said. But Republicans wouldn't budge.

"This is just spineless," Colon shouted at Speaker Pro Tempore Stephen Freese, R-Dodgeville, at one point.

Race to replace MN's Dayton heating up

Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) announced earlier this year after serving only one term that ends in 2006.

On Tuesday, prominent Democrat Kelly Doran dropped out of the race so he can run for governor. This leaves Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, children's safety advocate Patty Wetterling, and Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation president Ford Bell. On the Republican side, Congressman Mark Kennedy is running.

With 2006 shaping up to be an important election for Democrats, Minnesota is a crucial state to hold on to. It's hard to imagine this state having two Republican senators with Sen. Norm Coleman being the other.

Coleman may face a tough challenge of his own in 2008 with Al Franken having all but announced his candidacy.


Big government GOP

Fareed Zakaria has a new column in Newsweek and nails what precisely is wrong with Congress and the federal government as it operates today.

"Congressional spending is now completely out of control. The federal coffers are being looted for congressional patronage, and it is being done openly and without any guilt. The highway bill of 1982 had 10 "earmarked" projects—the code word for pork. The 2005 one has 6,371."

"Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest."

That is the state of affairs we find ourselves in. In the 2006 midterm Congressional elections, it's time to rid the country of this corrupt cancer on our institutions. This anti-big government facade has been played out by the same people who have produced the largest government in U.S. history while sending the bill to future taxpayers.


This is brilliant

Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania has started a new fundraising strategy that makes good use out of the protestors picketing outside clinics.

Description from their site:

Here's how it works: You decide on the amount you would like to pledge for each protester (minimum 10 cents). When protesters show up on our sidewalks, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania will count and record their number each day from October 1 through November 30, 2005. We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP. At the end of the two-month campaign, we will send you an update on protest activities and a pledge reminder.

Tragic story gets worse

On Meet the Press a few weeks ago, Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard spoke of a colleague's mother drowning in a nursing home before rescue crews could reach her.

As it turns out, she did drown, along with over 30 others. The owners of the nursing home have now been charged in connection with their deaths.

Broussard's sequence of events also didn't match with the facts that have come to light.

Broussard must have been confused “because I was calling, not my mother calling me, I was calling her,” Rodrigue said. Further, Rodrigue says he never made any calls after Monday, the day he figures his mother died, based on conversations he’s had with another person who had a family member perish inside St. Rita’s. Officials believe that the residents of St. Rita’s died on Monday, Aug. 29, not on Friday, Sept. 2, as Broussard had suggested.

Broussard could not be reached for comment Friday, but Jackie Bauer, a spokeswoman for Broussard who was present during the Meet the Press interview, said "it was a misunderstanding."

Light rail usage booming in Minneapolis

The Star Tribune reports that use of the light-rail system there hit a
record 838,500 riders in the month of August.

A few weeks ago, they also published a piece on how the rail system is resulting in new development in long negelected parts of the city like the Greater Longfellow area of Minneapolis.

"For a long time, this area was kind of a lost part of Minneapolis, almost forgotten about, but now with light rail and the Hiawatha corridor development, we have all this attention." says Scott Paine, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. "It is a big change for the neighborhood as a whole."


DeLay: No fat in federal budget

As if you needed more reasons not to take Tom DeLay seriously, the House Majority Leader is now claiming that all the fat has been cut out of the federal budget.

Not only is this laughable, but it's plain as day that this is just not true. Case in point, the recently enacted highway bill. If $230 million highways to nowhere don't qualify as "fat," then it's obvious that the Republican leadership in the House can't be trusted to spend our tax dollars wisely.


Vote for Pedro Bryan

Well okay, you can't actually vote in the 2006 midterms yet, but there's something simple you can do to help make Wisconsin's Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner into citizen Jim Sensenbrenner once again.

Democracy for America is having an online vote for the organization's first endorsement of a Congressional candidate. Bryan Kennedy, who ran against Sensenbrenner in 2004 is mounting another challenge. Some of the issues he supports include a balanced budget, increased hazard pay for our troops, and expanded stem cell research.

You can learn more about him at his website. Then head on over to DFA's website and vote Bryan Kennedy for Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District.


Prez Chat

On the president's speech last night:

Wonkette took down the minutes with the help of a martini to ease the pain.

BBC News has a cross section of reaction from readers.

Wait a minute. Did he go on the air with his shirt buttoned wrong?

[Full text of the speech.]


CRS: Blanco took steps needed

The Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan research arm of the Library of Congress, has issued a report on the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. The report was requested by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of the House Judiciary Committee.

There have been assertions that Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) dragged her feet on getting the feds involved. In fact, she issued a request to the feds on August 27, 2005 for President Bush to declare a state of emergency for Louisiana.

From Rep. Conyers' press release:

All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

Read the CRS report in PDF.


The first meeting of Milwaukee's Drinking Liberally went off without a hitch.

We had great turnout, and it was fun being able to meet everyone face to face. Special thanks to Stacie, Jason, and Scott for doing the legwork to get this thing off the ground. There are pictures up for viewing here.

If you couldn't make it, the next one is scheduled for Wednesday, September 28th again at Club Garibaldi.


Minimum markup law lives

The State Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to keep the minimum markup law in place. The law, passed in the 1930s, requires wholesalers to add at least 3%, and retailers 6% to the price of gasoline. While this provides a nice cushion to artificially protect some gas stations, it prohibits others from offering more competitive prices to consumers. The article quotes Phil Woodman, president of Woodman's Food Markets, Inc. who supports the repeal.

To illustrate the point, Woodman said his actual cost per gallon for unleaded gasoline, including transportation and taxes, was $2.62 on Sept. 6.

"If the minimum markup applied to that real cost, I could have sold gas to my customers for $2.86 per gallon 30 cents per gallon less than what the law makes me charge," Woodman wrote.

State Sens. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), and Fred Risser (D-Madison) voted to keep the law despite Gov. Jim Doyle's support for repealing it.

Meet Folkbum

Milwaukee's chapter of Drinking Liberally has its maiden voyage tonight (Wednesday).

Here are the details:

Club Garibaldi, 2501 S Superior St

Things get started at 7:00pm. Come on down, and have some good conversation served with the drink of your choice.


Roberts hearings in progress

The WaPo has live blogging going of the John Roberts for SCOTUS hearings.

I've only caught portions of the hearings so far, but was impressed with his responses regarding the right to privacy today. Ben at Badger Blues says he's sold on Roberts. Barring any new revelations rising to the surface, I'd be inclined to second that. So far, he has demonstrated he's a well educated, intellectual judge. I wonder what the folks on the far right are thinking about their nominee today.

Milwaukee Connector still alive

As JSOnline reports, the study to improve Milwaukee's mass transit continues. Plans to build a light rail system have been scrapped with the focus shifting to a less expensive electric guided bus system.

It's unfortunate that light rail has gotten a bad rap in this city. It's almost as if the opponents have never visited other cities where it works so well. Other cities around the country have built or are in the process of building light rail transit networks.

I'm not sold on this electric guided bus idea. The only country that currently uses this technology is France, and from what I've been reading, it's unproven in snowy conditions which is obviously a concern. Milwaukee's failure to move forward with improved transit is one thing that holds us back while cities like Portland, Minneapolis, and Phoenix thrive.

For those who question the need for more transit options and think buses serve the need just fine, I'll explain briefly. Buses use the same streets as cars, which means when there is a traffic jam, buses get caught up in it along with all the other cars. This leads to delays and renders the system unreliable to some degree. Also, bus routes are subject to change and therefore aren't the economic development tool that fixed rail lines are. Just as a freeway exit provides economic opportunity, a rail stop does the same.

[Milwaukee Connector site]


Brown's out at FEMA

Just days after FEMA chief Michael Brown was removed from overseeing relief efforts on the Gulf Coast, he has resigned as head of the agency.

The answer to my question from last Tuesday: Yes, and the number is six days.

The war on punk rock clubs

It started in New York at CBGB.

Now it has spread to Milwaukee's own Cactus Club.

Eric Uecke, who owns the Cactus, has plans to completely renovate the club. Unfortunately, a vocal minority of Bay View residents are opposing the project, and they've got Alderman Tony Zielinski backing them up. Uecke bought the club a decade ago, and it's needed renovating for much longer than that.

From the article:

Uecke, who owns and lives in the house next door to the club at 2494 S. Wentworth Ave., estimated the changes, which include adding 12 feet to the north side of the structure to make space to expand the bathrooms and make the building handicapped accessible, will cost between $150,000 and $175,000.

In addition, Uecke, who has owned the club for 10 years, would replace the existing bar, floors, external signage and ventilation systems, among other things, and enclose the garbage bins outside.

Interestingly, Zielinski is supporting a new outdoor liquor license kitty-corner from the club at Groppi's grocery store which is all fine and good. However, it's disappointing that he would choose to join with a small number of busy bodies in opposing the renovation over supporting a good investment in this property and the neighborhood.

For those who want to attend, there will be a hearing before the Utilities and Licensing committee tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3pm in room 301-B on the third floor of City Hall. If you can't attend, but want to send your comments to the members of the committee, here are their names and e-mail addresses:

Alderman James Witkowiak (Chairman) -
Alderman Jim Bohl, Jr. (Vice Chairman) -
Alderman Robert Puente -
Alderman Joe Dudzik -
Alderman Willie Wade -


Back from the fest

My friend Dave and I left early this morning for the 2 hour trek up to Baraboo. Our destination: Fighting Bob Fest 2005.

Along the way, we stopped at the gas station for a few necessities, and I ran into Rep. Dave Obey who was scheduled to speak later in the morning. We had a short conversation, and he talked about working in DC this past week on the hurricane relief package as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.

We got to the fest around 10 and got registered. Upon scoring some seats in the grandstand, we were treated to the first speaker of the day, my old boss Sen. Russ Feingold. His speech focused a lot on the Iraq war, which is currently being overshadowed by the disaster on the Gulf Coast. Feingold reminded the attendees not to let this administration off the hook on Iraq. He also pushed for reform of the Patriot Act so that terrorism can be combatted without sacrificing our civil liberties. The Senate has passed a bill that would do that, but it stands in stark contrast to the one passed by the House which would essentially leave the bill as is. Feingold is urging people to contact their Senators and sign on to this petition to help make this reform happen.

The next speaker was Obey who spoke elloquently about the late Gaylord Nelson, and the history of progressive thought in Wisconsin. He also spoke out about the Bush Administration's incompetence when it comes to managing government, and fighting what he called "the dumbest war since the War of 1812."

After that, we walked around and perused the grounds. Representatives from groups like the Sierra Club, and Amnesty International were there, and 92.1 The Mic was doing a remote broadcast. Then it was time for a Jamaican chicken sandwich and a seat in the shade. It was a rather hot day as those who attended can attest.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. The country needs more events like these, and not just so the regular activists have a place to go to get motivated. It's important, because many people are becoming disaffected with this government. They are the ones that need to hear alternative ideas, and know that they too can be involved in changing the status quo. Only then will America see the emergence of a new progressive era.


Heading up to Baraboo

I'll be attending Fighting Bob Fest this weekend with my buddy Dave.

It's the fourth year of the event which brings together progressives to celebrate the tradition of clean and open government. As the name suggests, it honors the legacy of Wisconsin's own Bob La Follette, who took on the railroad monopoly, and championed reforms progressive taxation, and the direct election of United States Senators.

Details on the event are here. Democrats, Republicans, Greens, independents, etc. are all welcome to attend.


More whining on the AM

While driving today, I flipped on local righty talk show host Mark Belling. He was going off about a "puff piece" in the local daily on Wisconsin Attorney General Pet Lautenschlager.

Lautenschlager has been through a lot in the past few years ranging from a drunk driving offense to breast cancer. So Belling takes the opportunity to play the conservative-as-victim role by pointing to what he perceives to be a liberal bias in the newspaper. He questioned aloud whether the paper would ever print such a piece about a Republican.

As a matter of fact, the paper just the other day featured similar writings about the life of the late chief justice William Rehnquist, a native of Shorewood and no stranger to controversy. I suppose if this is pointed out to him, Belling would modify his argument to say that the Republican has to be dead in order for him to be praised.

I'm not trying to defend Lautenschlager here. Incidentally, I am hoping that Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk decides to challenge Lautenschlager in the Democratic primary next year. Lautenschlager's legal and ethical problems should be enough for voters to look for a new top cop.

UPDATE: In the comments, Stacie pointed out this recent article on Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) proving that a Republican doesn't have to be dead in order for the paper to publish a gushy piece on them.


Katrina Timeline

Josh Marshall has started a Hurricane Katrina Timeline at his site.

He says it will continue to be updated as more facts become known.


The animals of the Gulf Coast

It's heartbreaking to think about the pets and other animals that are starving in Louisiana and Mississippi. Many people had to leave their pets behind in the midst of the evacuation, and many were simply separated in the middle of all the chaos.

Fortunately, there are some good stories to tell. In one case, a family's two dogs, a cat and a guinea pig have been saved thanks to a doctor who volunteered to stay behind and care for the animals.

My friend Jason at Cambridge Chatter is urging people to give to the Humane Society's Disaster Relief Fund so more of these animals can be brought to safety.

Are Brown's days at FEMA numbered?

Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has a lot of people calling for his head after this past week, including some from the conservative side.

The conservative World Net Daily has an article pointing out Brown was fired from his previous job as a commissioner at the International Arabian Horse Association. In 2001, he got the job as head of FEMA through a college friend, Patrick Rhode, who was was an event planner for President Bush's campaign. Brown had no previous experience in emergency management.

Andrew Sullivan is calling for Brown to be fired.

Even Michelle Malkin has a post on her blog entitled MEMO TO BUSH: FIRE MICHAEL BROWN.

Brown's appointment happened for one reason: cronyism. He has no experience that qualifies him to be running such an important agency of the government and ought to be given the boot.


State Fair Park will house hurricane victims

Good. Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis will begin housing evacuees of Hurricane Katrina as of today.

Each room at the youth center has 12 bunk beds, a toilet, a shower and two sinks. The center also has larger restrooms, a dining facility and a recreation room.

Officials plan to work with organizations such as Catholic Charities, which is experienced in relocating people to temporary housing, to eventually move evacuees out of the youth center.

A group from Kaukauna sent buses to pick up evacuees in Houston and could be bringing them to Wisconsin later Monday.

Don't pack your things yet Sandra

It's Roberts for Chief Justice.

"The swift move would promote to the Supreme Court's top job a newcomer who currently is being considered as one of eight associate justices. It would also ensure a full 9-member court, because retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has said she will remain on the job until her replacement is confirmed"


"For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody."

This morning on Meet the Press, Tim Russert interviewed Jefferson Parish, Louisiana president Aaron Broussard and asked him questions about relief efforts down there. Here's an excerpt of the transcript:

MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

Wonkette has the video here. The transcript itself really doesn't do the segment justice.

In the meantime, the folks at National Review have called for the 2008 Republican National Convention to be held in New Orleans. After all the events of this past week, these guys are focusing on symbolism at the expense of substance. Unbelievable.

R.I.P. Chief Justice Rehnquist

William Hubbs Rehnquist has died after a year-long battle with thyroid cancer. He was born in Milwaukee on October 1, 1924 and raised in Shorewood.

In 1972, he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Nixon, and promoted to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986. Rehnquist's tenure came as the court gradually shifted to the right. Only two justices currently serving on the court were appointed by a Democrat (President Clinton).

Rehnquist's death means that the most senior justice, John Paul Stevens, will temporarily assume the duties of chief justice until a replacement is appointed. President Bush now has the opportunity to appoint another justice before the hearings on John Roberts, who is replacing Sandra Day O'Connor, even get started.

If he so chooses, Bush can also promote a sitting justice to chief justice and nominate another associate justice. My guess would be that Bush promotes Antonin Scalia to chief justice. However, with the Supreme Court reconvening in a month, he may opt to appoint a chief justice from outside the court, and avoid the third round of hearings that a promotion would entail.


I agree with David Brooks

It's rare when I agree with the conservative columnist for the Times, but on the Newshour yesterday, he summarized accurately how the events of this week tie into the public's declining faith in government these past few years.

DAVID BROOKS: This is -- first of all it is a national humiliation to see bodies floating in a river for five days in a major American city. But second, you have to remember, this was really a de-legitimization of institutions.

Our institutions completely failed us and it is not as if it is the first in the past three years -- this follows Abu Ghraib, the failure of planning in Iraq, the intelligence failures, the corporate scandals, the media scandals.

We have had over the past four or five years a whole series of scandals that soured the public mood. You've seen a rise in feeling the country is headed in the wrong direction.

And I think this is the biggest one and the bursting one, and I must say personally it is the one that really says hey, it feels like the 70s now where you really have a loss of faith in institutions. Let's get out of this mess. And I really think this is so important as a cultural moment, like the blackouts of 1977, just people are sick of it.


FDA official quits in disgust

This is from a few days ago, but I felt it was important to post. Susan F. Wood, head of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health, resigned this week. In her letter, she explains how the FDA is ignoring the scientific research showing Plan B, the so called "morning after pill," is safe and should be available for purchase over the counter. This week, the agency refused to allow that leading to Wood's resignation.

Excerpt from her letter:

"I have spent the last 15 years working to ensure that science informs good health policy decisions. I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective today."

I've really grown tired of the government's anti-science approach to public policy under this president. It's affecting the environment, our education system, and the health of people.


How to help

If you're looking to help out with a donation to assist in relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Katrina, I've added a link in the sidebar where you can donate. If you have your own site, you can post the ad with the HTML text available here. All proceeds will be sent to the Red Cross.

Understandably, many people can't afford to contribute money, but would still like to help out in some way. One way you can always help in times like these is to donate blood like I plan to do this week.

To find your local donation center, head on over to and click on the little map or enter your zip code in the box.