Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Greenpeace founder endorses nuclear power

Thirty years after he helped start the environmental watchdog group Greenpeace, Patrick Moore has come around on nuclear energy.

In a guest column in the Washington Post, Moore puts some myths to rest and makes the point that we have to ween ourselves off coal fired power plants if we are ever going to seriously reduce CO2 emissions.

Slashdot link located via Scott's site.

Colbert and the Correspondents

Stephen Colbert, of the Colbert Report fame, headlined the annual White House Correspondents dinner last night.

There were some amusing moments, and some uncomfortable ones for the administration too. Crooks and Liars has a segment available for viewing.


Symbolism over substance on gas prices

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) gave a press conference at a Washington, DC gas station Thursday about the rising cost of gasoline. He arrived at the event and departed in a hydrogen powered automobile. Once he was out of sight, Hastert switched back to his good old gas guzzling SUV.

USA Today's blog elaborates.

Racine Journal Times: Health care not a problem

The Racine Journal Times, supposedly a bastion of liberalism according to some conservatives, editorialized in a news article Tuesday that health care is not a serious issue. This despite the fact that 44 million Americans are without coverage, and millions more are contributing a growing proportion of their income to afford care for themselves and their family members.

Read more at the Diamond Mine.


When future activists don't pay attention in science class...

They grow up to be uneducated anti stem-cell research activists, judging from this bit of news. Governor Jim Doyle, as part of an effort to make Wisconsin a leader stem-cell research, signed an executive order allocating $5 million dollars to attract companies to do the work in Wisconsin.

The response of Wisconsin Right to Life, in a desperate attempt to oppose this move, was to put out this BS:

"Embryonic stem cells are too dangerous to put into a human person because the cells cannot be controlled and can create tumors."

Doyle's opponent in the November election, Congressman Mark Green, has the full support of Wisconsin Right to Life for his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research. Someone send these folks back to biology class so they don't dumb down the education of their fellow Wisconsinites any longer.


Cynical quote of the day

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."

John Adams
US diplomat & politician (1735 - 1826)

Courtesy of Sed.


Immigration debate requires reason

Today, the president came out staunchly against any legislation calling for massive deportations of illegal immigrants. While the specifics of immigration reform are debatable, I have to say that Bush deserves credit for rejecting such an idea so vocally. It's unrealistic, and immoral for the damage it would do to families. Children who are born in the United States are automatically considered citizens.

Unfortunately, the immigration debate is a perfect example of an issue that is too often viewed in black and white terms. This has resulted in the messed up situation we find oursevles in where millions of immigrants are residing in the country without status. On one hand, you have emotionally charged reactionaries like this guy calling for all illegals to be kicked out. On the other hand, it's ridiculous for the other extreme to say we should just relax our immigration restrictions and allow as many people in as possible.

A sensible immigration policy requires that we recognize the millions of people here who are working and don't have any status. The solution lies in creating a method by which they can obtain a work visa, permanant residency, and eventually eligibility for citizenship. Failing to admit that's what we must do will only result in more of the current problem.


Bush: government developed iPod

Harkening back to the jokes about Al Gore inventing the internet, the president has credited government research for development of the iPod. Before your joke reflex kicks in though, it's true that the research the government funded into microdrive storage, electrochemistry and signal compression had a major hand in developing the technology used in iPods and similar devices sold on the market today.

As a segue, I can't resist taking this opportunity to point out that Al Gore never claimed to have invented the internet, but he did play a major role when he was a Senator through legislation. Those development efforts have earned him thanks and recognition in the industry, as noted by Snopes:

In May 2005, the organizers of the Webby Awards for online achievements honored Al Gore with a lifetime achievement award for three decades of contributions to the Internet. "He is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions," said Vint Cerf.

Cerf is the former vice president of MCI Worldcom and now works for Google as their "Chief Internet Evangelist." He has often been called the father of the internet for his role in developing the TCP/IP protocols.


Earth Day XXXVII

Saturday marks the 37th Earth Day since the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson held the first one in 1970. The positive response led to the official creation of the day becoming an annual event.

Xoff, Nelson's biographer, has a good post with some ideas on how to spend the day.

Lisa Kaiser, for the Shepherd, has a column about the growing problem of electronic waste.

Computers are a major culprit with people buying new ones every few years and dumping the old ones in landfills. The state of Wisconsin setup a Computer Reycling Program in 1997 to deal with just that problem. If you drop your computer at one of the specified sites, the state (via the Department of Corrections) will use those parts to put together working computers. They then get donated to preschools, daycare centers, and other organizations and individuals in need of them.

If you're in Wisconsin, there's a list of sites here.

In the long run though, there needs to be more coherent national and international policy to deal with this issue since computers and their components simply stop working eventually.


Rogue intern or bitter staffer?

I had to crack up when I read this article from the AP:

Nobody expects to get a letter from a member of Congress that ends with an expletive.

But that's what happened when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., recently corresponded with a resident of her southeast Missouri district. The letter ended with a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter a - "i think you're an ..."

Emerson says she can't explain how the offensive language made it into the last line of the letter, which otherwise reads like a typical response to a citizen's question about last year's testimony of oil executives before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Kerry "thinking hard" about 2008

According to Reuters, the junior Senator from Massachusetts is thinking hard about another run for the White House.

"I will make that decision toward the end of the year, but I'm thinking about it hard," Kerry said in response to a question at the Latin Economic Forum at the United Nations.

"If you can get help me find 60,000 votes in Ohio ...," he joked, referring to the close race in that state on which his 2004 loss to President Bush hinged.

Hopefully he has some honest people advising him just how much of a longshot he would be if he did run again. The fact that he didn't run a successful campaign against this unpopular president last time around has lost him a lot of support.


A suggestion for failing newspapers

I was discussing the environment last night with a relative. From the polar ice caps melting, to smog and unsafe drinking water, there are numerous issues of importance that need attention.

In your daily newspaper, you have the national, the local, the business, sports, and entertainment sections typically. Somewhere in there, there's a weather page as well. It seems to me you could expand on that, and dedicate at least a small portion of the paper to an Environment section.

Looking at Wisconsin alone, and the number of issues we have ranging from sprawl, to maintaining family farms and wetlands, there would be plenty to write about.

Waukesha mayoral race: the aftermath

Since the results of the mayoral election in Waukesha, Democrats have celebrated and Republicans have been puzzled.

I spent some time in Waukesha over the weekend, and had a chance to discuss the results with some family members. One of them raised a very valid point. Even though the elections in the city are technically non-partisan, the city has a long history of electing mayors who lean Democratic.

While the county of Waukesha is solidly in the Republican camp, the city is much more diverse ethnically, economically, and politically. Since I was surprised by the results myself, I thought it necessary to post these points as follow-up.


Democrats shouldn't expect to win by default

David Sirota, in a recent column, calls out Democratic Party leaders for running a campaign about nothing. Hopefully some of the party's movers and shakers take it to heart.


In making such a limited critique, Democrats tacitly validate conservatives’ ideological goals and further reinforce the public feeling that Democrats have no convictions of their own. For example, despite the GOP scandals and the political opportunities they present, Democrats refuse to push serious reforms like public financing of elections and instead push half-measures and focus on Republican missteps.

In the process, they are implicitly saying they believe the system that most Americans know is corrupt is actually perfectly acceptable. The same thing on Iraq: The Democratic Party refuses to take a position wholly different from the Republicans, simply saying the management of the war—rather than the war itself—is the problem.

National Democratic leaders will say they are forced to use the “competence” argument because it is the one big theme that unifies their ideologically diverse congressional membership. But that hides the not-so-secret fact that very powerful, very vocal, and very ideological forces within the Democratic Party support many of the conservative goals that a “competence” strategy inherently validates.

Hat tip to Pete Ross at Donkey Rising.


Frank Jude verdict is pathetic

The Milwaukee police officers charged with the vicious beating of Frank Jude, Jr. in 2004 were all acquitted by a jury on Friday.

In short, I'm shocked that the verdict came down like this. I find it ironic that during the period of time when two young boys were missing, the police were aggressively pushing residents to come forward with any information they had on the incident. Evidently, there's a double standard at the MPD where you don't dare turn in your fellow officers when they commit such a terrible wrong.

Mayor Tom Barrett was outraged as well, and says he plans to pursue federal charges on the matter.


West Wing writers changed election results

I suspected as much, but now it's been confirmed. The writers for the West Wing had initially planned to make Republican Arnold Vinick the winner of the election on the show. Those plans were altered though after the death of John Spencer.

Instead, Lawrence O'Donnell, an executive producer of the show, said he and his fellow writers had declared Santos the winner only after the death, in December, of John Spencer, who played Santos' running mate, Leo McGarry. At that time, the plot for Sunday night's episode had been set: The election was to be won by Alan Alda's Arnold Vinick, a maverick Republican (modeled a bit on Sen. John McCain), whom many Democrats (including the Democrats who write the show) could learn to love.

But after Spencer died, O'Donnell said in a recent interview, he and his colleagues began to confront a creative problem: Would viewers be saddened to see Smits' character lose both his running mate and the election? The writers decided that such an outcome would prove too lopsided, in terms of taxing viewers' emotions, so a script with the new ending - including the election-night death of Spencer's character - was undertaken by John Wells, the executive producer of The West Wing and ER.

More generals want Rumsfeld fired

That makes a total of six gernals who have now publicly called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni told CNN Rumsfeld should be held responsible for a series of blunders, starting with "throwing away 10 years worth of planning, plans that had taken into account what we would face in an occupation of Iraq."

The spreading challenge to the Pentagon's civilian leadership included criticism from some recently retired senior officers directly involved in the Iraq war and its planning.

Six retired generals have now called for Rumsfeld to step down, including two who spoke out on Thursday.

"I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him," said retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, who led the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq.

"Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces," he told CNN.

Retired Major Gen. John Riggs told National Public Radio that Rumsfeld had helped create an atmosphere of "arrogance" among the Pentagon's top civilian leadership.

"They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign," Riggs said.


I second my fellow Scott

Scott Feldstein has a must read post over on his site.

In short, some conservatives should really stop playing the role of the pitiful victim, and he accurately summarizes why.


Another general calls out Rumsfeld

Retired Gen. John Batiste is demanding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resign due to his numerous failures in leadership.

In recent weeks, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni all spoke out against Rumsfeld. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died.

"You know, it speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," Batiste said.

"But when decisions are made without taking into account sound military recommendations, sound military decision making, sound planning, then we're bound to make mistakes."

Batiste, a West Point graduate who also served during the previous Gulf War, retired from the Army on November 1, 2005. While in Iraq, his division, nicknamed the Big Red One, was based in Tikrit, and it wrapped up a yearlong deployment in May 2005.

White House denies it lied about weapons labs

From Reuters:

On May 29, 2003, Bush hailed the capture of two trailers in Iraq as mobile biological laboratories and declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The report in The Washington Post said a
Pentagon-sponsored fact-finding mission had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. The newspaper cited government officials and weapons experts who participated in the secret mission or had direct knowledge of it.

The Post said the group's unanimous findings had been sent to the Pentagon in a field report, two days before the president's statement.

Explanation coming soon: "White House didn't receive field report on weapons, forgot password to e-mail."


Hersh: The Iran Plans

Seymour Hersh's article on the Bush/Cheney Administration's Iran war planning is up at the New Yorker.

The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”

Give it a read. Hersh is one of the most respected journalists around. While the president may dismiss the article as "wild speculation," it's telling that he reacted so defensively to it.


Stem cell research would suffer with Green as governor

As noted on this site before, Mark Green has voted against expanding stem cell research along with his Republican colleagues at the federal level.

Today the DPW put out a release on Green's opposition to expanding stem cell research. This is an important medical issue, and a very timely one for the state considering the research taking place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and elsewhere.

Electing Green in November puts that research at risk.


Green's out there on reproductive rights

The headline on this article in the Wisconsin State Journal, Green and Doyle differ on abortion, tells us nothing new.

If you take the time to read it though, you'll quickly learn what an extremist on abortion rights gubernatorial candidate Mark Green is. He favors a law in Wisconsin similar to South Dakota's recently passed ban. That means there would be no exception for the health of the mother, and no exception for rape or incest victims.

Xoff has more.


Students push new name for UWM

A group of students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, of which I am a proud graduate, are clamoring for a name change. One of the primary reasons is some students are tired of being in the shadow of UW-Madison, the system's other doctorate granting research university. Their preferred name would be Wisconsin State University, and Chancellor Carlos Santiago has expressed support for exploring the idea.

I do think UWM is a great university with excellent facilities, and some top notch faculty. It also offers many more programs than the rest of the system. Personally though, WSU doesn't really do it for me. I'd much rather retain the city in the name. University of Milwaukee, for instance, would be much better.


Relevant quotes from the wartime president

Courtesy of Think Progress:

“There’s just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.” [Bush, 9/30/03]

“I want to know the truth. … I have no idea whether we’ll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.” [Fox News, 10/8/03]

“I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information.” [Bush, 10/28/03]

It's like having a child for a leader. He plays dumb, and refuses to admit wrongdoing.

Libby: Bush authorized Iraq intelligence leak

Former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby has testified that President Bush himself gave the thumbs up to releasing classified intelligence on Iraq. He reportedly did so to rebut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's findings that Saddam Hussein wasn't seeking to purchase enriched uranium from Niger.

The documents don't specify whether or not Bush authorized the release of the classified identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife, as part of the intelligence leak. The speculation is sure to continue until it's learned one way or another though.

Here's a key portion from the court papers made public today. NIE stands for National Intelligence Estimate, and Defendant is Libby.

Defendant’s participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 (discussed further below) occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller – getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval – were unique in his recollection. Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin (then the communications person for the Vice President) regarding the NIE and Wilson. Defendant was instructed to provide what was for him an extremely rare “on the record” statement, and to provide “background” and “deep background” statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson. During the conversations that followed on July 12, defendant discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with both Matthew Cooper (for the first time) and Judith Miller (for the third time). Even if someone else in some other agency thought that the controversy about Mr. Wilson and/or his wife was a trifle, that person’s state of mind would be irrelevant to the importance and focus defendant placed on the matter and the importance he attached to the surrounding conversations he was directed to engage in by the Vice President.


Smearing of Jill Carroll shameful

When Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was freed from captivity in Iraq, and returned home to the States, she faced a number of attacks from right-wing pundits and bloggers. They took it upon themselves to presume that Carroll was some kind of traitor, or at the very least couldn't be trusted.

Rory O'Connor sums up this pitiful episode over on Alternet.

"It's a disturbing sign of our partisan-crazed media ecology that Carroll came under sustained assault from pro-war right-wing bloggers and talk radio hosts who attacked her for stating -- while under obvious duress -- that she had not been threatened during her confinement, as well as for wearing Muslim dress and sympathizing with her captors.

Anyone with a brain -- or even a heart -- would know, as Carroll pointed out once she was free, that "fearing retribution from my captors," she could not speak freely, that "out of fear, I said I had not been threatened," when in fact, she "was threatened many times."

What was Carroll's crime? Merely this: She is a suspected member of "the liberal media" that hard-up, hard-core supporters of this illegal, unconstitutional and unwinnable war -- from the White House down -- claim is allying itself with the insurgents resisting America's occupation of Iraq."

Taking initiative on abortion

With states like South Dakota outlawing abortion, and the Supreme Court tipping increasingly against reproductive rights, it's about time Democrats grasped on to this issue and went on offense.

Senate Dems, led by Harry Reid, are introducing the Prevention First Act, which seeks to increase access to contraception, and sex education, initiatives the vast majority of the country supports.

"The bill would prohibit group health plans from excluding contraceptive drugs, devices and outpatient services if they cover the cost of other prescription drugs and outpatient services. It would also require the secretary of health and human services to disseminate information on emergency contraception to healthcare providers and require hospitals receiving federal money to provide emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault.

The bill would also mandate that federally funded programs provide information about contraceptives that is medically accurate and includes data on health benefits and failure rates."

Not only is this legislation needed, it will also expose the real extremists on social policy in this country through their opposition.

Results for those paying attention

  • Jane Carroll won the Milwaukee Circuit Court seat 54% to J.D. Watts' 46%.

  • Interestingly, referendums calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq passed in 24 of 32 counties where they were on the ballot. Many of them were close, but the results are certainly disappointing for war proponents who wanted the referendums to go down to an embarassing defeat.

  • More interestingly, the city of Waukesha voted in upset fashion, 53% to 47%, to elect longtime alderman Larry Nelson mayor over Republican State Rep. Ann Nischke. Nelson opposed the issue that Republicans are using as a rallying cry, the so-called Taxpayer Protection Amendment which restricts local control of budgeting. If even Waukesha is rejecting conservatives like Nischke now, maybe the times are a-changing.


There's voting today

Today there were a number of local races on the ballot around the state.

In Milwaukee, the only contested race is for Milwaukee County Circuit Court branch 39. Attorney and former Assistant DA J.D. Watts, who has graced Drinking Liberally with his presence, is up against Assistant District Attorney Jane Carroll.

WisPolitics will be posting the results of this and other elections around the state after 8pm when the polls close.

DeLay throws in the towel

Facing his growing legal troubles, and an almost certain loss in his re-election bid, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will resign his seat in the coming months.

DeLay told Time Magazine that he won't seek re-election, and has scheduled a press conference to announce his decision on Tuesday.

As to why DeLay is resigning the seat prior to his successor taking office, Political Wire notes the reason is likely because the Republican lobbying scandal has reached his inner circle.


What happened to the stem cell resarch bill?

Legislation moving stem cell research forward is still stalled in the Senate.

Last fall, a deal was reached between Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) that the bill would be one of the first priorities in the Senate in 2006. So far, it hasn't reached the Senate calendar.

The legislation passed the House of Representatives last summer by a vote of 238-194. It only needs to pass the Senate, which it will if given a vote, to move on to the White House for the president's signature. Maybe it's time to contact your Senators, and put the heat on again.


Quote of the week: Wes Clark

"This Administration has taken us on a path to nowhere - replete with hyped intelligence, macho slogans, and an incredible failure to see the obvious. It started with a fight we didn't finish against Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and included a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq. Along the way we've failed to halt proliferation with both North Korea and Iran and the Administration has shown tragic incompetence in everything from nation building in Iraq to disaster relief in Louisiana.

Let's face it: we're not going to win the war on terror unless we start making more friends and fewer enemies in the world, and we're not going to be able to protect the American people without a new strategy."

-Retired General Wesley Clark giving the Democratic radio address this week.

Drinking Liberally gets mention in the local daily

Club Garibaldi was profiled in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday.

In the interview, owner Joe Dean mentioned Milwaukee's Drinking Liberally chapter which meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, and reporter Steven Potter gave us a mention in the article. Happy anniversary to Joe and Tag who have run their fine establishment for six years this month.