Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


On judicial activism

A few months ago, the New York Times published an op-ed on who the real activists on the Supreme Court are.

To measure this, they looked at how often each judge voted to strike down legislation passed by Congress. Here's the breakdown:

Clarence Thomas 65.63 %
Anthony Kennedy 64.06 %
Antonin Scalia 56.25 %
William Rehnquist 46.88 %
Sandra Day O’Connor 46.77 %
David Souter 42.19 %
John Paul Stevens 39.34 %
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 39.06 %
Stephen Breyer 28.13 %

Historically, courts will often defer to Congress on many issues that come before them. In such instances, they cite that the matter is a "political question" and not for the court to decide.

Certainly some laws passed by Congress are unconstitutional, and it would be irresponsible for a justice to never vote to overturn a law. It's more about the pattern here, and how eager the justices are to subvert the will of Congress and the people. Looking at the data above, it's the conservatives who tend to legislate from the bench and not the moderate to liberal justices.


In choosing Samuel Alito to be his nominee for the Supreme Court, the president has acted predictably.

He needed to shift the focus off of the CIA leak investigation and on to something else. What better way to do that than to have an old-fashioned drawn out Washington brawl?

Today's action is the president telling the far right wing that if they whine loud enough, he will oblige. Think Progress reports that Alito is an unabashed opponent of Roe v. Wade and would vote to overturn it. He also would vote to strike down legislation passed by Congress like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Alito appears to be the defintion of a right-wing activist judge.


Bush expected to change subject Monday

Four days after the failed nomination of Harriet Miers, the president is expected to name his choice for Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court on Monday.

Some conservative cheeseheads have been playing up the notion that Judge Diane Sykes, of Milwaukee, could get tapped for the job, but the AP says Samuel Alito and J. Michael Luttig are leading candidates.

We'll learn soon enough Monday when Bush attempts to shift the public's focus from west wing scandal to SCOTUS nomination.

UPDATE: It's Alito.


Death of a talking point

That being that Valerie Plame Wilson's status at CIA wasn't secret. This from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference:

"Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well-known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Libby indicted on five counts

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted Friday on counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to the grand jury. White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove remains under investigation as part of the probe into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.

While the indictments are a victory for those who have been fighting for accountability of the excesses of this administration, they mark a sad day for the country.

The events of today will feed the cynicism of many citizens who already hold a deep disdain for politicians and the workings of government. It is not their fault for feeling that way. This government has failed its people, and these events serve as another example of just how badly.

UPDATE: Think Progress has posted the indictments. Fitzgerald's website is getting slammed.

Fitzgerald to hold press conference

The grand jury investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame ends today. Federal prosecuter Patrick Fitzgerald has scheduled a press conference for 1pm CST.

From Reuters:

Indictments could trigger an immediate shake-up at the White House, already on the defensive over the response to Hurricane Katrina, opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers.

Despite initial denials, both Rove and Libby spoke to reporters in June and July 2003 about Plame.

It was unclear how Fitzgerald would keep the Rove investigation going since the current grand jury is scheduled to expire at the end of the day on Friday.


Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination

SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination today.

It was becoming pretty clear that she wasn't going to be confirmed as she had growing opposition from Senators of both parties, and was facing what would have been some pretty intense hearings before the Judiciary Committee.

The fact that Brewtown Politico came out against her nomination yesterday was most surely a coincidence.


The White House vs. The Onion

No really, this is no joke. The associate counsel to President Bush has formally written to the Onion advising that it doesn't have permission to use the presidential seal of approval. They cited a recent article poking fun at the president's weekly radio address. Do they not realize this is a satirical newspaper?

Dyskeptic has more on the article in the Times.

A few thoughts on Miers

In the weeks following her nomination, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers appears to have lost support rather than gained it.

This past week, Miers ticked off the Senate Judiciary Committee by answering a questionnaire with brief and vague responses.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) wants Miers to prove she's a bona fide conservative now scrapping the Republican line that there should be no "litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees.

Cronyism has a long history in politics, and maybe if Miers was a more impressive nominee it would be less of an issue. Still, imagine if President Clinton had nominated his personal lawyer to be on the Supreme Court. I don't doubt for a moment that Republican Senators would be crying foul.

As I said when Miers was nominated, her lack of experience as a judge isn't a disqualifier. However, in the weeks since then, I haven't learned anything that convinces me she belongs on the Supreme Court.

Drinking Liberally tonight

It's another Drinking Liberally week. Join us tonight at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee at 7pm.

Map here.


Iraq constitution passes, American fatalities reach 2000

The new Iraq constitution has passed despite strong opposition from the country's Sunni minority. If the constitution had gotten a 2/3 No vote in three provinces, it would have gone down to defeat. After over 2/3 of the voters in two Sunni provinces voted against the proposal, only 55% of the majority-Sunni Nineveh province voted against it.

CNN is also reporting that the number of American troops killed in Iraq has reached 2000. Hopefully the passing of this constitution leads to a more peaceful Iraq, but I'm more than a bit pessimistic about that actually happening given the level of opposition to this constitution by the Sunni minority. In the two other Sunni dominated provinces, 97% voted against the constitution in Anbar, and 88% opposed it in Salaheddin.

Jeffrey Goldberg has interviewed Brent Scowcroft, former Bush 41 National Security Advisor, for this week's New Yorker. Scowcroft, a longtime Bush family friend, has some very harsh criticism for the Bush 43 administration and its foreign policy.

Excerpt courtesy of Steve Clemons:

"I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes," he said. "You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neocons do it."

The neoconservatives -- the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war -- believe in the export of democracy, by violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. "How do the neocons bring democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize." And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism," he said.

Rosa Parks: 1913-2005

Rosa Parks died Monday at the age of 92. She helped inspire the civil rights movement through her act of civil disobediance 50 years ago.

"Before her arrest in 1955, Parks was active in the voter registration movement and with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where she also worked as a secretary in 1943.

At the time of her arrest, Parks was 42 and on her way home from work as a seamstress.

She took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery. The bus filled up and the bus driver demanded that she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.

'The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't,' she once said.

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her."

She went on to work for Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and became a prominent advocate for civil rights. Parks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1996.


Leak investigation expands

This is an interesting development. UPI is reporting that federal prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald has done some deep digging into the forged documents on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq.

It's those phony documents that really started this whole thing to begin with. Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson took a trip to Niger and subsequently discovered that no such sales took place. When he reported that in the press, his wife was then outed as a CIA agent in the now infamous column by Robert Novak.

From the UPI story:

Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.

This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush's closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair's aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.


Afghanistan in 1977

Before the Russians invaded, before the civil war, and before the Taliban, Afghanistan was a very different place.

Joanne Warfield has put together a photo essay of her trip to Afghanistan 28 years ago.

The country deteriorated badly over these past decades. Hopefully the years ahead will be different, but there's a long way to go before then as the country deals with extreme poverty, massive poppy and heroin production, and entire regions under the control of warlords.

Found this one at MeFi.


No vote on stem cell research until 2006

Despite the bi-partisan support for expanded stem cell research, the Senate won't take up a bill doing so until next year.

In May, the House of Representatives passed HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act with a vote of 238-194. As Xoff reminds us, no Wisconsin Republicans voted for the legislation. There's a campaign issue for the candidates running to unseat them.

Despite the delay, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced today that it would be one of the first items on the calendar when the Senate reconvenes in January.


This week's Carnival

This week's Carnival of the Badger is up.

Head over to Subject to Change to give it a looksee. Thanks to Aaron for hosting this one.

Effort to kill Alaska highway pork fails

Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK) introduced an amendment to the Transportation bill today that would effectively kill the $230 million Alaska bridge to nowhere.

Unfortunately, the amendment failed with many senators fearing their own pork projects would be targeted if they yanked money from Sen. Ted Stevens' state. Stevens serves on and is a former chairman of the Appropriations Committee which decides which projects get funded. A total of 15 Senators voted for the amendment including Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold.

I normally don't agree with Coburn on much of anything, but I applaud his effort to reduce wasteful spending. In an article in the Hill, Coburn is quoted on each party's approach to the budget.

Of the current debate over spending and the budget, he said, "Republican politicians are the same as Democratic politicians in that they like to spend money. Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for it, and Republicans allow the next generation to pay for it."

DeLay booked in Texas

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was booked on charges of money laundering and conspiracy charges today in Harris County, Texas. As part of the process, he had to submit to a mug shot and fingerprinting.

The Smoking Gun already has the mug shot up. It was pretty smart of him to smile for the picture. Certainly some Democratic operatives were hoping for a gloomy DeLay arrest photo to use in future campaign advertising.


Kemp endorses voting rights for former felons

The House Judiciary Committee has started hearings on renewing the 40 year-old Voting Rights Act. Key provisions of the act are set to expire in 2007.

During the hearing, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, (D-NY) suggested that Congress amend the act to restore voting rights to felons who have served their time. Jack Kemp, the Republican nominee for Vice President in 1996, was testifying before the committee and voiced his support for the idea.

"It's important, if we're going to call ourselves a democracy, that everybody more or less have the right to vote," Nadler said.

Kemp quickly endorsed the idea, pointing out that minorities are disproportionately charged with felonies.

"My answer is unambiguously yes," said Kemp, a former congressman from New York, one of a handful of states that restores voting rights to criminals once they complete their prison term or probation. "It is a restriction that needs to be modified."


They're called elections. Use them.

So we have yet another attempt to recall an elected official in Wisconsin. This time, it's in Madison where some people are upset with the ban on smoking in bars that recently went into effect.

In recent years, it seems there has been an epidemic of recall elections at the state and local level, and it's about time we start to think about if these special elections are doing more harm than good to our democracy. If recall elections are necessary, they ought to be reserved for extreme circumstances like abuse of power and not over a disagreement on public policy.

These recalls appear to be happening because a minority of voters are too impatient to wait until the next election, and because it's a good opportunity for organized interests to install their own guy since special elections tend to have a lower turnout. In 1996, Democrats used the recall law to boot Sen. George Petak (R-Racine) after he cast the deciding vote in favor of building Miller Park, giving him the honor of being the first Wisconsin legislator ever to be recalled. Since then, we've had numerous other recall elections, and now we have the effort to recall Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in Madison. Whether the smoking ban is a good or bad idea isn't relevant here. What matters is that the mayor will be up for election again in a year from April and voters can keep him or throw him out then.

As Watchdog Milwaukee points out, at least one state legislator understands the problem. Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) has legislation pending in committee that would clarify the recall law. Under the bill, a circuit court would have to rule that a recall petition falls under one of these categories: inefficiency, neglect of duty, misconduct or malfeasance. This was required up until 1990 when that caveat was eliminated.


Ed Schultz blocked from Armed Forces Radio

The Ed Schultz show was set to start airing Monday on Armed Forces Radio, but at the last minute the show was pulled. The speculation is that the show was yanked, because of Schultz's criticism of the staged press conference between the president and troops in Iraq last week.

UPI reports:

Ed [Schultz] played an audio tape of Pentagon communications official Allison Barber helping troops in Iraq rehearse for their broadcast video teleconference with the president last week. Barber walked them through questions and their answers and warned them the president might ask questions not from the script.

The incident was widely considered an embarrassment to the White House, which appeared to be coaching soldiers for its own political purposes.

According to People for the American Way, Barber personally called Schultz -- regarded as a liberal in the world of talk radio -- on Monday to tell him his show would not be airing Oct. 17 after all.

AFN airs both Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson, but hasn't had a liberal alternative. Schultz's show airs locally from 2-5pm on 1400AM out of Racine (although it's difficult to pick up in much of Milwaukee).

Milwaukee Theatre underperforming

The newly refurbished Milwaukee Theatre is not doing nearly as well as supporters of the project had hoped.

Through the first eight months of the year, the $42 million Milwaukee Theatre has generated operating income of just under $1 million, nearly 40% under budget.

When expenses are figured in, the theater is nearly $188,000 in the red through Aug. 31.

Taxpayers paid the bill for the old Mecca Auditorium to be remade into the Theatre. Considering downtown already has a number of theaters and concert venues, what was the need for the public to subsidize another one?

It would have made much more sense to use the property as part of an expansion for the convention center so that it could better compete with other cities for business.

These numbers also vindicate those of us who opposed a subsidy for the Pabst City project since it would have added yet another concert venue in the form of a House of Blues.


Weekend open thread

It's about time for one of these. Here's a question. Given the chance, which American president would you want to have an extensive conversation with?

I'd have to go with Woodrow Wilson. The former head of Princeton University was ahead of his time when he looked at the world post WWI. My runners up would be Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman.


Carnival at Badger Blues

The new edition of the Carnival of the Badger is up.

This week's host is Ben of Badger Blues.

The era of huge government

Here are some interesting numbers. Reason Magazine, a libertarian periodical, offers up this data in evaluating the percentage growth or decline in the amount of federal spending during recent presidential administrations.

First Five Years, Percentage Changes in Real Discretionary Spending

LBJ: 25.2%
Nixon: -16.5%
Reagan: 11.9%
Clinton: -8.2%
Bush: 35.2%


Wi-Fi Milwaukee

This is intriguing. The city of Milwaukee is moving forward with plans to create a citywide wireless network for use by residents.

In general, users of such systems pay a monthly fee for access, as they do for other Internet access such as cable or digital subscriber lines to a home or office. With a user name and password, as well wireless capability on their computer, they are able to access the system from anywhere.

In a letter to council members, Mayor Tom Barrett says the plan would be at no cost to the city and taxpayers. Midwest Fiber Networks has or will line up partners that will include high-profile international service providers and equipment manufacturers to share in the cost, according to the letter, provided to the Journal Sentinel.

It would not be an exclusive deal, meaning competing firms or partnerships could create similar systems.

San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston and Portland are moving forward with similar plans. This could be a great upgrade of Milwaukee's technological infrastructure.

Time again for Drinking Liberally

It's another Drinking Liberally Wednesday here in MKE.

The venue: Club Garibaldi, 2501 S Superior St, Milwaukee 53207
The date: Tonight (Wednesday)
The time: 7pm

Take a few hours off your schedule and stop on down.


New twist in CIA leak case

The National Journal is reporting that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby didn't disclose a "crucial conversation" he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 to the grand jury.

You may recall that Miller recently was released from jail after agreeing to testify before the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. The article says that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald learned of the conversations only in the past few days, and that Libby also failed to disclose them to FBI investigators.

The fact that Plame worked at CIA was revealed in July 2003 by Robert Novak. Just a week before, Plame's husband Joseph Wilson's column entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa" appeared in the NY Times.

Mark Green in the spotlight

On Talking Points Memo yesterday, Josh Marshall profiled Wisconsin congressman Mark Green and his ties to indicted GOP ringleader Tom DeLay and the indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

At issue is the well documented relationship between Green's chief of staff Mark Graul and Abramoff. Graul is now running Green's campaign for governor.

Abramoff is under investigation by grand juries in DC and Florida in relation to a scandal involving Indian casino gambling. Abramoff along with Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and Michael Scanlon are accused of lobbying against the casino in question in order to force them to pay for their lobbying services. In the process, they kept Congress quiet by allegedly giving gifts to DeLay and other Republican congressmen in exchange for their cooperation on the casino deal.

Graul insists he's never met Abramoff, but that begs the question as to why he has been coninually treated to sporting events and concerts courtesy of Abramoff.

Defining traditional marriage

The Family Research Institute of Wisconsin is circulating a petition urging the preservation of traditional marriage.

Many will quibble with the definition of "traditional" and others will question the need for government to get more involved in the lives of its citizens with a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

Here at BP, we'd at least like to help get everyone on the same page with the definition part. Therefore, I submit the top 15 Biblical ways to acquire a wife to the record.


Madison vs. Milwaukee for public health school

The University of Wisconsin is in the process of creating a new school of public health. So far, plans have been on track for UW-Madison to rename its medical school to the UW School for Medicine and Public Health. That hasn't stopped Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett from pushing hard to have the school located at UW-Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial weighed in last week in favor of having the school at UWM. Today, the Wisconsin State Journal responds by pretending to play the role of peacemaker while endorsing having the school in Madison.

Granted, UW-Madison has an existing medical school, and UWM does not. The larger picture should be where a school dedicated to improving public health belongs. I would argue that it belongs in Milwaukee, a city more affected by the problems that the new school of public health will try to address.

Hat tip to New Milwaukee.

...and knowing is half the battle.

If you watched the G.I. Joe cartoons back in the 80s, you'll remember the little ethical tips characters would give at the end of the show.

FenslerFilm took it upon themselves to redo the audio for these public service announcements, and produce some pretty ridiculous cartoons.


Another extended vote in the House

The Republican controlled House of Representatives is building a track record for holding roll call votes open well past time has expired.

Friday afternoon, the House extended a vote scheduled for five minutes to 50 minutes on an energy bill so enough Republican arms could be twisted to vote in favor of it. Once again, their tactics worked as the bill narrowly passed 212-210.

Tempers flared on the House floor with Democrats crying foul and Republicans trying to drown them out with boos. Think Progress has details and the video here.

Another example of this is the Medicare prescription drug legislation in 2003 where the vote was held open for three hours and passed 220-215. Also, when the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) passed, the vote was kept open for almost two hours with the vote ending up 217-215.



Here's a hilarious example of just how much a trailer can differ from the movie it's supposed to represent.

Somebody took Stephen King's The Shining and made a brand new trailer for it.

It's in Quicktime format.

Sox sweep Sox

The Chicago White Sox have won their first postseason series since 1917. They swept all three games against the Boston Red Sox who won the 2004 World Series.

This means that my wish for a White Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals World Series is still alive. As a Brewers fan, I just want to see what Chicago Cubs fans do when their two biggest rivals play each other for the championship.

Trouble with the internets

If you're having trouble with your internet connection today, there's a big reason for it. A dispute over pricing between the world's two major providers has resulted in roadblocks across the net's infrastructure. The pricing dispute is between Level 3 Communications of Colorado and Cogent Communications of DC.

From the Boston Globe:

Although the scale of the disruption is unclear, the incident may offer more fodder for those who believe the Internet should be regulated by an international agency, such as the United Nations. Scientists in the United States invented the Internet, and the computers that oversee the network are still controlled by the US Department of Commerce, which favors a hands-off approach. But governments worldwide have launched a campaign to put the Internet under international control. American officials have resisted the idea, saying that UN oversight would introduce undue government interference and the threat of data censorship by authoritarian states like China.

In the meantime, read a book.


Proof Congress can still do good

The Senate voted Wednesday to ban cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of military detainees by all American personnel. The amendment to the Defense appropriations bill was offered by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and was endorsed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The vote was an overwhelming 90-9. These nine Republican senators shamefully voted against the measure:

The White House is threatening to veto the whole bill if it contains the amendment. I'd be quite surprised if the first veto this president makes since being elected is to a Defense bill while we're at war.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has the text of the amendment here. I should have posted it earlier.

Carnival Blue

Belle's hosting this week's Carnival of the Badger over at Leaning Blue.

Head on over and peruse the attractions.

Green and Ryan still refusing to return PAC money

Wisconsin congressmen Mark Green and Paul Ryan are still holding on to their DeLay dollars.

They're both claiming that they are unable to return the money for legal reasons. This week, another congressmen, Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), donated his nearly $15,000 received from Rep. Tom DeLay's TRMPAC to charity. Certainly that's an option for Green and Ryan if they're concerned about violating campaign finance law.

Xoff is urging people to head over to this Racine Journal Times link and lend Ryan some advice on the right thing to do.

As noted here last week, Green received $29,414 and Ryan received $25,390 from TRMPAC which has been under investigation. DeLay has now been indicted on counts of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering using TRMPAC as the vehicle.

UPDATE: The state Dems have set up a website urging Green to return his share of the PAC money.


Subpoena Dobson

"Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about," - James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, reassuring social conservatives that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is one of them.

Considering that Miers has no judicial record, and the White House won't release any documents from her tenure as White House counsel, the Senate Judiciary Committee should call Dobson to testify about this supposed sensitive information he possesses.

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) agrees:

"It's troublesome to me the comment would be made," Salazar said at a Tuesday press conference in Denver. "It seems to me, all of the (information) the White House knows about Harriet Miers should be made available to the Senate and the American people. If they're making information available to Dr. Dobson -- whom I respect and disagree with from time to time -- I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. Senator."

Homer: Limbaugh's become "a parody of himself"

Milwaukee sports talker Steve "The Homer" True was interviewed this week by True recently left Clear Channel's WISN-AM which airs conservative talkers Sean Hannity, Mark Belling, and Rush Limbaugh among others, and has started his new gig at 1510 WAUK.

During the interview, he was asked how he defined success, and in answering the question referenced Limbaugh and how his show has changed over the years.

"I loved Rush Limbaugh when he first started, he did creative things, he made you laugh. He doesn't do any of that anymore. He's become a parody of himself. It's almost inevitable though because he's so successful. He doesn't have to do anything, the core he has listening doesn't require. A few like me did, but why now alienate the people that like your show? Some people like Rush, (Howard) Stern don't have to reinvent themselves, but most of us do."

It looks like Limbaugh is wrestling with being a mouthpiece for the conservative establishment while keeping that base audience happy. The nomination of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court has him dishing out some pretty wishy washy commentary these past few days.


Political historian explains DeLay story

Yesterday, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) received two more indictments for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) allegedly raised $190,000 in corporate donations and then sent it to the Republican National Committee in DC. The RNC then turned around and distributed the money to Republican candidates for the Texas state legislature.

Texas law states that no corporate money can be used in political campaigns which is the obvious reason one would have to go through the convulated distribution process explained here.

Allan Lichtman cuts through the fog in defining the real impact of DeLay's corrupt politics in Texas. Lichtman is a political historian at American University and is running to succeed the retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD).

Excerpt from his post
over at Booman Tribune:

The big corporate interests behind Tom DeLay knew full well what they bought in Texas. They bought our government. Absent DeLay's gerrymandering, the Democrats, not Republicans, would have picked up congressional seats nationally in 2004, putting Democrats in a much better position to regain control of Congress next year.

Iraq war costing $5.6 billion a month

Here's a line of questioning for members of the media the next time the president has a press conference.

Whatever happened to the concept, pushed by the administration in the leadup to the war, that the sale of Iraqi oil would pay for the war?


Miers isn't a judge. So what?

I'm in agreement with Stacie that Harriet Miers' lack of experience as a judge doesn't automatically disqualify her as a nominee to the Supreme Court.

In fact, the late Earl Warren had no experience as a judge prior to being appointed to chief justice by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. Before that, Warren had served as governor of California, and Attorney General. He also ran for Vice President as Thomas Dewey's running mate in 1948 against President Harry Truman.

Of course, this probably won't provide much comfort to disgruntled conservatives upset about the nomination of Miers. Warren, a Republican, became known as a liberal judge who presided over landmark cases like Brown vs. Board of Education which outlawed segregation in public schools.

TABOR a failure in Colorado

Referencing them for the second time today, Think Progress has a post about just how bad the so-called "Taxpayers Bill of Rights" or TABOR has been for the state of Colorado. Republicans in the state legislature are proposing that Wisconsin adopt this policy.

Restrictions on the state budget have produced these great accomplishments:

- Colorado ranks 47th in K-12 education funding as a share of state income.

- Colorado ranks 50th in the nation in on-time immunization rates.

- The share of low-income individuals enrolled in Medicaid is lower than in all but five other states.

- Colorado has eliminated its affordable housing loans and grants program.

- Due to underfunding, court hearings that are required by statute to occur within two days of a filing routinely take 30 days.

Sounds great. What are we waiting for Wisconsin?

Conservative pundits not pleased with Miers

I haven't had much time to peruse SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers' resume. The reaction from some prominent conservative sources is amusing though.

From the piece over at Think Progress:

American Spectator Blog: " There is now talk of among some conservatives about a filibuster of the Miers nomination.
...According to several White House sources, few inside the building took the possibility of a Miers nomination seriously. Now that it's a reality, they are stunned. `We passed up Gonzales for this?' was one conservative staffer's reaction."

What seems to be emerging about Miers is that she's a Bush loyalist with no experience as a judge. Folkbum found this gem from National Review's David Frum:

"In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met."

This one could get interesting.


Congrats to the Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers wrapped up their 36th season today with a final record of 81-81. The last time they didn't have a losing season was 1992, the first year Phil Garner was managing the team and they still had guys like Paul Molitor, Gary Sheffield, B.J. Surhoff, and Robin Yount on the roster.

Finishing at .500 marks a turning point for a team that limped its way into their new stadium a few years ago. With new owner Mark Attanasio giving the team a new direction, and some good talent coming up from the minors, the future looks bright for the team.


Wisconsin needs redistricting reform

My friend Ben has an article in this week's Shepherd about the problem of redistricting in Wisconsin (second article down the page).

Under current Wisconsin law, districts are redrawn by the state legislature every ten years in accordance with the census. However, the process has become politicized to the point where the districts don't accurately reflect the views of the state. There appears to be a problem when we have two Democratic Senators, a Democratic governor, but yet 60% of the state legislative seats are in the hands of Republicans, many of them in safe seats.

The article points out different solutions that are being tried around the country. In Iowa, a state agency is responsible for drawing the districts. In New Jersey, an independent bipartisan commission draws them up. It's time for Wisconsin to start experimenting with new options. The next census is only a few years off.