Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Bush gives another forgettable speech on Iraq

The prez gave another speech at a military base today, one of the few places he seems to be able to give a high profile speech these days. There was nothing new, but you can read his wishful thinking at the WaPo.

This president is in complete denial about the reality in Iraq, and when he gives speeches like the one he gave today, he's simply playing on his remaining supporters' emotions rather than using logic and reason to critically evaluate the situation at hand.

Seymour Hersh has a new column citing sources at the Pentagon, CIA, and State. If you think the generals are really the ones the president is listening to, think again.


There are grave concerns within the military about the capability of the U.S. Army to sustain two or three more years of combat in Iraq. Michael O’Hanlon, a specialist on military issues at the Brookings Institution, told me, “The people in the institutional Army feel they don’t have the luxury of deciding troop levels, or even participating in the debate. They’re planning on staying the course until 2009. I can’t believe the Army thinks that it will happen, because there’s no sustained drive to increase the size of the regular Army.” O’Hanlon noted that “if the President decides to stay the present course in Iraq some troops would be compelled to serve fourth and fifth tours of combat by 2007 and 2008, which could have serious consequences for morale and competency levels.”

Many of the military’s most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don’t want to jeopardize their careers. The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were fucked up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves.

Wonkette shows us the prez's evolving vision for Iraq based on speeches given since the war began. If these components were planned in this order all along, it's easy to see a big part of the problem.


Halbach family steers clear of politics

In the wake of the brutal murder of Teresa Halbach, and the charging of Steven Avery, some have stepped up the debate on issues like the death penalty and concealed carry.

Wisconsin hasn't had the death penalty since 1853, and it has not passed laws allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Some in the state legislature would like to change those laws riding on the publicity of the case. They'll have to do so without the help of Halbach's family members like Teresa's brother Mike Halbach:

"It is important to note that it is the politicians who are renewing these discussions, and not my family and I," he wrote in an e-mail.

"These renewed discussions will result in what is best for the state of Wisconsin, whether it's a continuance of the laws we currently have or a change. It boils down to what the 5 million people of Wisconsin want, not the family of Teresa Halbach."

New Firefox

Mozilla will release the new version of its Firefox browser today (version 1.5).

If you're still using IE, give this browser a try. Aside from the fact that it's a more secure and efficient browser, the extensions allow you to change and add a lot of features to it. Since Mozilla is open source, anyone with the ability to code can write an extension for the Firefox browser. For myself, I don't know how I ever lived without tabbed browsing and mouse gestures.

Head over to Mozilla's site to get the new version once it's released.

UPDATE: It's up on their ftp site.


The impact of blogs is overstated

Bull Moose has a good post up today about the blogosphere and its place in contemporary politics.


Moreover, it is a delusion to believe that the blogosphere is representative of anything but the hundreds of thousands of scribblers that join in this marvelous medium and the few millions of good folks who read it. The Moose is always struck by how few people actually read a blog or even are familiar with their existence - even those who are politically active. Of course, it is also true that a diminishing number of people by the day read mainstream newspapers and journals - not necessarily a healthy phenomena for a functionary democracy.

So, alas, it is generally a good thing that the blogosphere provides an opportunity for more and more Americans who want to get engaged and sound off. However, we should keep it in perspective. The blogosphere is generally an ideological hothouse that does not reflect the everyday thoughts of Americans. In that way, it is much like talk radio.

I generally agree with the points made in the post. It's easy for us bloggers to sometimes overstate our influence and take ourselves too seriously. Blogs are serving a good purpose as a watchdog of politicians and the media. It's important to maintain some level of humility though in the midst of fulfilling that role.

Marshall Wittmann, author of Bull Moose blog, is Sen. John McCain's former communications director.


Waukesha won't tap Lake Michigan anytime soon

Earlier this week, the Waukesha Freeman reported that the new compact will be signed by the Council of Great Lakes Governors in December.

The optimistic headline reads "Compact to allow Waukesha County
access to Lake Michigan water." As Xoff notes though, there are many hurdles ahead before lake water can be piped out to the city of Waukesha.

Since Waukesha lies west of the subcontinental divide, it drains its water into the Mississippi River and not Lake Michigan. The Freeman article mentions that the sticking point is a requirement mandating that communities accessing lake water west of the divide return its treated wastewater back to Lake Michigan. Waukesha officials seem unwilling to do that, because of the cost.

Waukesha has become a sprawling suburban community in recent years with a lot of new housing, strip malls, and roads being built. The growth has taxed the water resources of a city once known for its quality water. Radium levels in Waukesha's water are now in violation of federal clean water standards.

Whether Waukesha will eventually agree to the conditions required to get Milwaukee's water or whether it explores new sources within Waukesha County remains to be seen. Regardless, their experience should serve as a lesson to other city planners and officials. Growing beyond your means can have expensive and hazardous consequences.


Gay marriage debate not over in 2006

One year remains until voters will have the glorious opportunity to save marriage from its impending doom in the state of Wisconsin. The constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will be on the ballot in the November 2006 election.

It's expected to pass, but with a year until it comes up, there is plenty of time for opponents to make their case. One aspect of the ban that's sure to get attention is that over 300 legal experts have determined that the amendment could result in banning not only marriages, but civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. Some businesses and local governments currently offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.

Here's another thing to keep in mind. Consider that the opposition to same-sex marriage skews toward older people. By and large, young people are much more supportive of two people of the same sex getting married.

Regardless of the outcome of next year's vote, the debate over gay marriage will not end. This is an ongoing and evolving issue. A few years ago, there was much larger opposition to civil unions and domestic partner benefits. The debate over same-sex marriage has moved the goal posts in favor of those advocating for the rights of the gay and lesbian community.


More intelligence withheld from Congress

National Journal reports that ten days after September 11, 2001, the president received a daily briefing which concluded that the US intelligence community had no evidence of any ties between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda.

Quoting from the article:

"One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda."

To date, the White House has refused to turn over a copy of this briefing document to the Senate Intelligence Committee which has requested it along with other briefings as part of the investigation into pre-war intelligence failures.


Scott Walker: hypocrite

Eye on Wisconsin has picked up on an interesting pattern coming from Milwaukee County Exec and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.

Walker has accused Gov. Jim Doyle of awarding contracts based on political contributions, an unsubstantiated accusation. The contract in question had an open bidding process and there's no evidence of any shady dealings took place.

The interesting part is that Walker has received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from a couple of execs for Phoenix Care Systems. Now this revelation from Eye on Wisconsin:

In 2004, Phoenix Care Systems and seven other companies went through a bidding process for a Milwaukee County contract. During this same year two Phoenix executives gave to the Walker campaign (pages 1 and 2). Five of the seven companies competing with Phoenix scored higher than them, yet Phoenix ended up getting the contract (Scored pages 1, 2, and 3). Phoenix was chosen for the contract less than three months after the two executives gave their last gifts of the year to Walker. This was no small contract (remember the Adelman contract was only $250,000). The Milwaukee County contract that was awarded to Phoenix was for $1,248,112!

Way to practice what you preach there Scotty.


Remembering RFK

There's a good column in today's Boston Globe about Robert F. Kennedy, who would have turned 80 today.

"In throwing his political weight behind the powerless and the oppressed -- and later in his opposition to the war in Vietnam -- Robert Kennedy took huge political risks. He possessed a rare moral vision for what America might become if it would only confront the demons of racism and poverty. His support for the civil rights and peace movements stood conventional political wisdom on its head. The safe, smart thing for him to have done would have been to support Lyndon Johnson and patiently await his turn for the White House. It is a measure of his political courage that he chose a far more dangerous course."

RFK was assassinated on June 5, 1968.

Hat tip to Brad for the link.


Rep. Jean Schmidt: coward

Newly elected Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) showed her true colors yesterday when she had ranted like a true wingnut during the debate on the Republican Iraq resolution.

Think Progress has the video here.

Excerpt from the WaPo story:

She told colleagues that "a few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," an Ohio legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer. "He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

Dozens of Democrats erupted at once, pointing angrily at Schmidt and shouting repeatedly, "Take her words down" -- the House term for retracting a statement. For a moment Schmidt tried to keep speaking, but the uproar continued and several GOP colleagues surrounded her as she sat down, looking slightly dazed. Presiding officer Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) gaveled in vain for order as Democrats continued shouting for Schmidt to take back her words. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) yelled "You guys are pathetic!" from the far end of the Democratic section to the GOP side.

Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, "Say Murtha's name!" Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt's comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party's side.

At 5:31, when order was finally restored, Schmidt rose again and said softly, "My words were not directed at any member of the House." She asked that they "be withdrawn" from the record.

Schmidt barely won her seat recently in a narrow victory against Iraq war vet Paul Hackett. The district skews overwhelmingly Republican.

GOP plays politics with Iraq again

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) got a lot of attention this week when he offered a resolution calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq at the earliest practicable date. So rather than debate Murtha's resolution and have a vote on it, the Republican leadership plays a political game and offers a two sentence resolution, which they had no intention of supporting, calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops.

Both are non-binding, but do you notice any subtle differences between the two?

Murtha's resolution:


Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

And now the Republican leadership's version:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that
the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces
in Iraq be terminated immediately.

In short, they wanted to divide the Democratic caucus and play a political game rather than seriously deal with the mission in Iraq. The ploy failed though, with a vote of 3-403 much to the chagrin of the House Republican leadership.


Vatican official: "Intelligent design" not science

The so-called "intelligent design" theory has taken a beating lately as voters have rejected it, and even Pennsylvania's reactionary Sen. Rick Santorum has come out against it being taught in public schools.

Add the Vatican to the list of critics as its chief astronomer has now dismissed it:

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

"Hard argument to beat." -Ben, who sent me the link.

Unemployment rate 15% for returning vets


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that for the first three quarters of 2005, nearly 15 percent of veterans aged 20-24 are jobless -- three times the national average.

According to the website VeteransToday, published by veterans for veterans, the high unemployment rate is "partly because most service members seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the early stages of their military careers and possess limited transferable job skills or very little civilian work experience".

The government is also worried about the number of veterans without a permanent address.

"The tragedy of homelessness among veterans persists, even when the economy is robust and unemployment is low," the California Department of Veterans Affairs said.

CIA leak case gets more interesting

WaPo reporter Bob Woodward gave a deposition Monday before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald as to who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to him.

From CNN:

Legal experts have speculated that Woodward's source in the Plame affair came from within the White House, State Department or CIA, but White House officials have ruled out President Bush; his Chief of Staff Andrew Card; Bush's counselor, Dan Bartlett; and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Woodward, too, has said it wasn't Card. It wasn't Libby, either, he said.

Scooter Libby's lawyers are trying to use this to help their case by saying he may not have been the initial source in the White House to reveal Plame's identity. However, when Fitzgerald gave his press conference, he said Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter. It seems to me this only bolsters the obstruction of justice charge against Libby since there's obviously more information that wasn't revealed during the initial phase of the investigation.


Senate may block Patriot Act

It looks like the full Senate may be poised to block the Patriot Act conference report when it comes before the body. Yesterday, I wrote about how the conference committee tossed out the reforms the Senate had previously put in which curb the most egregious parts of the act.

Also, earlier this week the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Civil Liberties Union joined forces to limit the current reach of the Patriot Act.

From Bloomberg:

The lobbyists are focusing on two particular provisions of the law. One of them, which allows investigators to use so- called National Security Letters to request records, has been invoked about 30,000 times a year, according to the Washington Post. The Justice Department won't confirm that number, saying it's a secret.

The business and rights groups -- which include the Washington-based National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which represents 47,500 attorneys, judges and law Professors -- are asking that the new version of the law require more judicial oversight of the requests, a position that is opposed by President George W. Bush.


Conference committee kills again

As if we observers of Capitol Hill didn't see this coming, the conference committee working out the final version of the Patriot Act re-authorization has done away with the reforms the Senate added in July.

This from Sen. Russ Feingold today:

“Reports out of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization conference committee are extremely troubling. In July, members on both sides of the aisle in the Senate unanimously agreed that changes needed to be made to the PATRIOT Act and passed a bill that took important steps to protect Americans’ rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, it appears that the conference committee is likely to reject that bipartisan consensus.

In 2001, I was alone in the Senate in opposing the Patriot Act. But for the past several years, a bipartisan coalition has been working together to seek modifications. I agreed to support the Senate version of the reauthorization bill even though it did not go nearly as far as the SAFE Act. I cannot stand by while the conference committee undermines the modest protections for our rights and freedoms contained in the Senate bill. The American people deserve better.

Working with my colleagues, I will consider all procedural options at my disposal to fight a final reauthorization bill that doesn’t fix the Patriot Act.”

Just a reminder, the House basically re-authorized the existing Patriot Act while the Senate added reforms that addressed concerns around the more controversial provisions. For example, under the current Patriot Act, the FBI is allowed to search a residence without court approval, whereas the Senate reforms would require it.

As Feingold notes, the Senate unanimously supported those changes. With the conference committee stripping them away, it's going to take pressure to defeat the Patriot Act conference report in the full Senate. This vote is more important than when the Patriot Act was passed in 2001 for one reason. Back then, sunset dates existed on those controversial provisions.

Time to let your Senators know what you think on this issue.


Report issued on FDA's rejection of emergency contraception

Back in September, Susan Wood, head of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health, resigned in reaction to the agency rejecting making Plan B AKA the "morning after pill" available over the counter. She alleged the agency was ignoring scientific research showing the pill is safe and should be made available for purchase without a prescription.

Now we have a report from the Government Accountability Office that says FDA took unusual steps in rejecting the the sales of Plan B. It's also being reported that some of the documents GAO looked at show the decision to reject over the counter sale may have been made before the scientific research could be completed.

The report confirms what we knew in September. The current government continues to ignore science and instead tries to play the role of parent in imposing codified morality on the rest of us.

In the meantime, women are being denied having their prescriptions filled at stores like Target because moralistic pharmacists think they know better than the women themselves or the doctor who prescribed the medication to begin with.


Edwards comes around on Iraq vote

Former senator John Edwards published an op-ed in Sunday's WaPo:

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

As a backer of Edwards in the 2004 Democratic primary, it's refreshing to hear him do something the president and many politicians haven't yet done in admitting what a mistake this war was. There will be speculation that Edwards is just trying to keep his name alive for 2008. That doesn't invalidate his position, and it doesn't excuse war supporters from dealing with the reality in Iraq, and the manipulated intelligence that led us there.

For his part, the prez is trying to squelch further criticism of the leadup to war with his divisive speech on Veterans Day where he pointed the finger at war critics in Congress claiming they had the same intelligence as he did. As Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus reported over the weekend, don't believe some of the deceptive statements coming from our fearless leader:
But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

The RNC has now issued talking points in response to the Post article, but I don't see how they'll help. If you're president, and still debating the merits of a war three years after the resolution passed, you're in some trouble.


The politicization of Veterans Day

Paul Rieckhoff, head of Operation Truth, reacting to President Bush's speech today:

“On Veterans’ Day, the President spoke a lot about the reasons for the war in Iraq, but very little about how he plans to take care of the people fighting that war, and what the future holds for them.

“Those of us who fought in Iraq deserve to know why we became Veterans in the first place. On today of all days there should be consensus on the need to rise above partisan bickering over who said what in Washington and begin real investigations into prewar intelligence. It’s unfortunate that the President doesn’t think he owes that to the people who have been unwavering in their bravery while carrying out his plans.”

Today is supposed to be a day to honor veterans, and not an opportunity to use them as a backdrop while you engage in some beltway catfight. Conservatives are elated that the president appears to be fighting back against war critics. Liberals are ticked that their patriotism is again being questioned. Meanwhile, the important questions about faulty pre-war intelligence go unanswered.


Robertson confirms "intelligent design"=creationism

If there were any doubts that the powers pushing "intelligent design" were attempting to sneak creationism in through the back door of our public schools, televangelist Pat Robertson just laid them to rest. He lashed out at the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania today for throwing supporters of the idea out of office.

From Reuters:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

You're a crazy old man Pat, but points for honesty.

House strips ANWR drilling from budget

The House Rules Committee has deleted a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act that calls for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Senate had attached the measure to the bill.

The US Geological Survey has estimated that there may only be about six months worth of oil in the refuge, and it would take ten years to bring to market. It's also likely that most of the oil would be exported to other countries. Add to that the implications for the environment and negative impact it could have on the wildlife habitat, and it simply makes no sense to open ANWR to drilling.

Bloomberg's win in New York

I was waiting for Republicans licking their wounds from Tuesday's elections to point to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's re-election in New York City as a sign of promise. Jessica McBride has come through on that front.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that a Republican couldn't get elected mayor in heavily Democratic New York City. However, the experience of Rudy Giuliani taught us that liberal Republicans can.

On Bloomberg, it's important to keep in mind that he was a lifelong Democrat until 2001. It's common knowledge in New York that the only reason he switched parties was to avoid a crowded primary race on the Democratic side. He has maintained a liberal record on the issues which is why he's able to get Democratic votes. If I was a conservative Republican, I wouldn't find solace in Bloomberg's victory.


"Intelligent design" backers lose in PA

The voters of conservative Dover, Pennsylvania threw out eight Republican school board members who supported teaching so-called intelligent design in public schools. All eight were voted out and replaced with eight Democrats in a clear victory for science and reason.

Unfortunately, Kansas continues down its anti-science track as the state Board of Education voted 6-4 to approve curriculum that casts doubt on evolution and endorses teaching "intelligent design." What's next, teaching L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics?

The ousting of the Dover, PA board members came after they approved standards similar to Kansas. The new members have pledged to repeal those measures and revert back to teaching evolution. Hopefully voters in Kansas will follow Dover's lead and throw the bums out down the road.

Drinking Liberally tonight

It's the second Wednesday of the month so it's time for another round of Drinking Liberally, Milwaukee style.

Tonight we'll toast the Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, and raise a glass to Daddy Ben.

Hope to see you there at Club Garibaldi ~7pm.


Doyle should make reproductive rights an issue

The election for governor is a year away, and it's sure to be competitive. While I still think it's incumbent Jim Doyle's to lose, he's going to need issues to go after either Mark Green or Scott Walker on.

In the context of the New Jersey governor's race, Scott Shields says the following at MyDD:

If Samuel Alito makes it onto the Supreme Court, as many believe he will, it's not unlikely that he will vote to overturn the right to privacy as determined by Roe v. Wade. While this won't instantly criminalize abortion, it will turn family planning into a state issue. While voters often ignore reproductive rights in state elections, moderates and progressives can no longer afford to do so.

SurveyUSA's recent 50 state poll shows that 57% of Wisconsin residents consider themselves pro-choice. With Green and Walker both opposed to abortion rights, Doyle should press them on what action they would take in the event that Roe is overturned at the federal level. Even with those numbers, if we end up with a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, you can rest assure that the religious right is going to push hard to criminalize abortion in Wisconsin if Roe is overturned. Doyle should make it clear that his re-election could be essential in preserving reproductive rights for women in Wisconsin.


Falk is in

The speculation is over. Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk will formally announce her candidacy for Attorney General at the Milwaukee County Courthouse at 12:30pm today.

Falk will face current AG Peg Lautenschlager in the Democratic primary next September. She previously served as an assistant attorney general for 14 years, and as a public intervenor for the Justice Department.


Alito broke pledge to Judicary Committee

When Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was facing confirmation hearings in 1990 to be a US circuit judge, he pledged to recuse himself from cases involving Vanguard mutual funds. Since Alito owned more than $390,000 in funds from the company, there would be a conflict of interest if he was to hear such a case.

However, Alito presided over a case in 2002 involving a woman trying to get money from her deceased husband's retirement account which was frozen by Vanguard. Alito ruled in Vanguard's favor in the case.

From the Boston Globe

After Alito ruled in Vanguard's favor in the Maharaj case, he complained about her efforts to vacate his decision and remove him from the case, writing to the chief administrative judge of the federal appeals court on which he sat in 2003: ''I do not believe that I am required to disqualify myself based on my ownership of the mutual fund shares."

The White House, asked about the seeming contradiction between Alito's two statements, said that Alito was put on the case due to an error by a computer system that should have warned that he was taking a Vanguard-related case, because the investments were listed in the database.

A computer error? That's a pretty lame excuse. A computer error didn't prevent him from recusing himself from the case. Based on his statements on the case, Alito's arrogance did that for him.


A house divided?

More on the potential Lautenschlager vs. Falk matchup for Attorney General.

Jay has a defense of the current AG over at Folkbum's Rambles and Rants. Also, Jason of Dyskeptic Radio says the Democrats shouldn't seek to eat their own.

I respect both their opinions, but I agree with Xoff on this one. It really does come down to electability. As I stated previously, Lautenschlager has done some good things like taking on MMSD, but looking into the future, I see her playing a lot of defense in a general election against the winner of the Republican primary.


TABOR dies in Colorado

Voters in Colorado reversed course and suspended the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Tuesday's election.

Supporters of the idea in Wisconsin have used Colorado as an example to push the idea here, but after its negative effects on their state economy, voters there thought better of it and chose to ditch the idea. They even gave up tax refunds in order to improve the state (that's sure to make Grover Norquist cringe).

The Cap Times has an article about how the Colorado vote is damaging to the campaign to bring TABOR to Wisconsin.

Assembly Dems urge Falk to run for AG

A group of ten Democrats in the State Assembly have signed on to a letter urging Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk to run for Attorney General.

Falk has toyed with the idea for a while, but with recent polling data showing Lautenschlager is vulnerable to a primary challenge, she looks set to jump into the race.

Lautenschlager may be doing some good things at the state level, but her past legal and ethical problems leave her vulnerable to losing the seat. If Democrats want to retain it, they could do far worse than having Falk run in 2006.


Democrats come to life in Senate

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took the Senate into closed session today throwing Republicans into a tizzy.

Reid and the Senate Democrats are demanding that the Senate Intelligence Committee complete Phase Two of the Senate Select Committee on Inteligence report on the intelligence failure on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) said the report would be completed after the November election. Then this past March, Roberts changed his tune and said that "it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further."

The intelligence failures on Iraq deserve to be investigated, and so far the Republican leadership in Congress has done little more than act as apologists for the White House and its screwups. Thanks to Reid's move today, an agreement has been reached to complete the report.

Bucks prediction thread

Make your Milwaukee Bucks predictions here.

They're starting the season with a new coach in Terry Stotts, they have a healthy point guard in TJ Ford, and they recently acquired Jamaal Magloire to be their starting center.

Brewtown Politico predicts 44 wins, and a sixth seed going into the playoffs.

Then and now

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan - October 10, 2003:

Q Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

The indictments issued against Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby show that he was very involved, and first leaked the information to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

The indictment also cites that "Official A" (now reported by sources involved to be Karl Rove) had a conversation with Robert Novak about the matter. In that conversation, Novak advised him that he would be running the now infamous column outing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. The indictment doesn't reveal who told who about Plame in that conversation. Novak has maintained that two senior Bush administration officials came to him with that information.

Additionally, it's now known that Time reporter Matt Cooper's source on Plame was Karl Rove.

What's clear is that McClellan's statements that Libby and Rove weren't involved in this were simply untrue. More than likely, McClellan was lied to and kept out of the loop so that his ignorance would be genuine when standing before the press corps.