Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Gun shop owner calls for more gun control

The local daily today profiled Badger Outdoors since it leads the nation in firearms sold that have been tied to crimes.

They quote co-owner Mike Beatovic in the story, and asked him if he thinks more safeguards are needed. While the National Rifle Association may not agree with him, he says he supports additional laws mandating background checks on all gun purchases.

Studies have shown that most crime guns change hands at least once after they are sold by a gun shop or other dealer. However, no background check or paperwork for sale is done after the initial purchase. That is wrong, Beatovic said.

He said he has done background checks for people who are selling guns privately and want to make sure they aren't selling to a felon. Beatovic said all gun sales should require background checks.

"Anyone in their right mind should not be against it - and that comes from a gun owner and NRA member," he said.

AAR event tonight

Come on down and support bringing a progressive voice to Milwaukee radio. The owners of Air America Radio, Anita and Shel Drobny, will be in attendance.

The event takes place tonight at 7:00pm at the Hi-Hat Garage on Brady and Arlington on Milwaukee's east side.

See the website for more details.


A pro-Kyoto treaty nominee for Treasury?

The president nominated Henry M. Paulson Jr. to succeed John Snow as Treasury Secretary on Tuesday. During his tenure as chairman of Goldman Sachs, Paulson has fought to curb global warming and get the United States to sign on to the Kyoto protocol which would place limits on emissions. As chairman of both Goldman Sachs, he has argued that it's imperative for the US economy that we do so.

Statement from the Nature Conservancy, where Paulson serves as Chairman of the Board.

The Kyoto Protocol is a key first step to help slow the onslaught of global warming and benefit conservation efforts…Until the United States passes its own limits on global warming emissions, innovative companies based here will lose out on opportunities to sell reduced emission credits to companies complying with the Kyoto Protocol overseas. Additionally, without enacting our own emission limits, U.S. companies will lose ground to their competitors in Europe, Canada, Japan, and other countries participating in the Protocol who are developing clean technologies.

Violent holiday weekend

What should have been a weekend of relaxation and honoring of those who gave their lives for the country turned violent in Milwaukee.

A total of 28 shootings, four of them fatal, occurred over the course of the long weekend, ending with a gunman shooting up South Shore Park yesterday in the normally peaceful Bay View neighborhood.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is calling for the city to follow Chicago Mayor Daley's lead in stepping up the police presence in high crime neighborhoods by dispatching cops in so-called "battle dress."

MPD spokesperson Anne E. Schwartz, quoted in the GM Today story, sums up what's at the root of this madness:

Schwartz said the 28 incidents since Friday night left four dead, including those killed in the park shooting, and 24 wounded.

But she said virtually all the incidents did not involve random violence, as in a street robbery, but stemmed from such things as road rage, tavern fights or arguments like the one that apparently occurred at South Shore Park.

"We can tell you that the majority of those shootings are people with anger management issues," she said.


List of worst tech products ever

PC World brings us their rundown of the 25 worst tech products of all time.

Topping the list is everyone's favorite internet service provider, America Online.


Great clip from Senate history

The late Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, testified before a US Senate committee on appropriations for public broadcasting in 1969. Then President Richard Nixon wanted to cut the proposed endowment in half since the country was fighting the Vietnam War. Rogers' passion convinces Senator Pastore of the importance of funding programs such as his.

Watch it here.

Thank you Metafilter.

Missing the joke

The Republicans running Rep. Tom DeLay's legal defense fund apparently don't understand Stephen Colbert is a satirist since they posted a bit from the Colbert Report on their site. In the segment, Colbert plays the part of a staunch DeLay defender and throws out the right-wing talking points and some of his own in amusing fashion.

Link from Firedoglake.

UPDATE: YouTube pulled the video, but you can still watch it on Comedy Central's site.


Stem cell bill stalled in Senate

One year after the House of Representatives passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, it still hasn't seen the light of day in the Senate.

As noted here and here, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) stated he would make this bill one of the top priorities this year. After 5 months into the new year, it's still not on the calendar for debate.

Today, supporters of the bill rallied on Capitol Hill urging the Senate to finally take up the measure. The president has threatened to veto the Act if it passes. The Senate should give him the chance to do so since Bush to this day still hasn't vetoed a single bill.


A new study finds that, surprisingly, marijuana smoke is not linked to lung cancer.

The answer isn’t clear, but the experts say it might have something to do with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is a chemical found in marijuana smoke.

Cellular studies and even some studies in animal models suggest that THC has antitumor properties, either by encouraging the death of genetically damaged cells that can become cancerous or by restricting the development of the blood supply that feeds tumors, Tashkin tells WebMD.


Quote of the Day: Bentsen edition

Former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen died today. He served under former President Clinton who at one point presented him with an autographed pictures which reads as follows:

"To my friend Lloyd Bentsen, who makes me study things until I get it right."

From the Houston Chronicle.


Drudge proves why he's not reliable source

For the second time today, Matt Drudge has had to yank a story.

Sunday, he claimed that Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean intervened on behalf of candidate Mitch Landrieu in the New Orleans mayoral race. Drudge printed a retraction today after being contacted by DNC lawyers asking him to take down the false story.

Also today, he printed a a story saying Al Gore and company took 5 cars to travel the 500 yards from their hotel to a screening of An Inconvenient Truth, the new movie about global warming. The story was pulled from Drudge's site after it came out that they actually walked to the screening.

These two stories exemplify why Drudge has little to no integrity when it comes to breaking news. He's a tool out to destroy those he disagrees with regardless of the facts. Thanks to C&L for the tip.

Investors pursuing local Air America affiliate

The Business Journal has an article in this week's edition about Air America's owners visiting town seeking to acquire a station for the network.

Anita Drobny and her husband, Chicago venture capitalist Sheldon Drobny, were among the founders of Air America in 2003. They formed a company this year called Nova M to obtain radio stations that would carry the network. Previously, Air America has simply provided programming on stations owned by other companies.

Wisconsin is among the states they've targeted with Milwaukee being their first priority, the couple said in an interview. Anita Drobny met recently in Milwaukee with a group that includes members of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party.

"We believe very strongly that Wisconsin needs to have much more balanced information on the radio waves," Anita Drobny said.

In addition, a website has been set up advising visitors to stay tuned.


Another good trailer remix

This time, the Ten Commandments gets the makeover.

The result: the amusing 10 Things I Hate About Commandments.


Dear Ndugu NSA

Have a question you need answered, and you want a reliable source?

Ask for all your needs.

Via BoingBoing.


Politicians make lousy doctors

The new ad put out by Planned Parenthood cleverly makes the point that decisions about birth control and family planning are best left to individuals and their physician.

Discovered via Xoff.

Another wrestler running for office

Those of us who watched pro wrestling in the 1980s are familiar with this guy's work. He was the Iron Sheik's tag team partner, and would sing the Russian national anthem before every match.

Now Nikolai Volkoff is running as a Republican for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Hat tip to blip.


It's mental health month

The National Mental Health Association is promoting its Mind Your Health campaign as part of a month-long effort to educate the public on the seriousness of mental illness.

It wasn't too long ago that we locked people in asylums for suffering from severe mental illnesses. Conditions like schizophrenia, depression, and multiple personality disorder are the result of a chemical imbalance affecting how neurotransmitters communicate in the brain. We've come a long way toward treating mental illnesses such as these as medical disorders rather than personality flaws, but we have much to learn.

Our knowledge of the brain is still in its early stages, and I would love to be around in a few hundred years when our methods of treatment these days will appear primitive. Part of getting there is to convince more people afflicted with mental illness to seek treatment, and for others to take the disease more seriously.

NPR's Talk of the Nation had a good program yesterday on this issue. You can listen to it in their archives.


Pentagon 9/11 footage released

Judicial Watch has succeeded in getting the release of video footage of the attack on the Pentagon.

They've released two of the surveillance videos, but neither show much more than we've seen before in still frames. At least it's something. After Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison for his connection with the 9/11 attacks, the government's case for withholding the footage was no more.


No Tommy in '06 campaign

Former governor and HHS secretary Tommy Thompson ended the speculation today when he declared he won't be running for governor.

Not even the bootlicking from Mark Belling could convince him to jump in and run against incumbent Jim Doyle. In all honesty though, if Doyle was to lose to a Republican, Tommy would have been the lesser of two evils. Unlike Mark Green and other reactionaries on the right wing, Thompson supports embryonic stem-cell research, and opposes gimics like TABOR.

For those who want Tommy to run for US Senate against Herb Kohl, don't hold your breath. I'm sure there are plenty of lucrative lobbying jobs that he'll be able to choose from.


Gore on SNL

Former veep Al Gore had a guest appearance on last night's Saturday Night Live.

In the opening skit, we are transported to a world where Gore is president, and the scenario is bizarro current day.

Crooks and Liars has it up for viewing.


Good riddance to the Hummer H1

2006 will mark the last year for GM's Hummer H1.

The H1 gets about 10 miles per gallon, but Walsh said rising gas prices didn't factor into GM's decision. He noted that H1 buyers typically have been less sensitive about gas prices than most other drivers.

Auto analyst Erich Merkle with the Grand Rapids consulting company IRN Inc. said the decision fits with steps GM has taken to bring the Hummer brand to more mainstream drivers with the H2 and H3.

Sales of the H1 dropped 16% in 2005.


DC may get representation

After over two centuries, the District of Columbia may finally get representation in Congress under a bill currently under consideration. The District currently has no voting member in either the House or the Senate. DC gets its funding as part of the annual budget process which is voted on by Congress.

The legislation crafted by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., and the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate, Democrat Eleanor Holmes, balances the proposed addition of what would be a solidly Democratic D.C. seat with a new seat for Utah, a state that voted 71 percent for President Bush in 2004.

"It is simply inexcusable that residents of the District of Columbia, the capital of the free world … do not have a representative with a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, the People's House," Davis said at a news conference Thursday.

Davis said his House Government Reform Committee would vote on the measure soon, and that Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., would take up the issue. Davis and Norton have been promoting the D.C. vote issue for years, but this would be the first committee vote.

We may have to get used to saying there are 437 members of the House soon.

Qwest to NSA: Get FISA approval for records

The National Security Agency requested phone records of tens of millions of phone calls made by their customers. AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South all complied.

The one company that refused the request was Qwest Communications based in Denver, Colorado. In response to the NSA's request, Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio told them to obtain approval under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

This from the USA Today article:

Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused.

The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. "They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them," one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events.


GOP Congress continues fiscal irresponsibility

This week, the Republican House and Senate continued doing the one thing they're good at. Pass tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthiest among us, and put the deficit and national debt at record levels in the process.

This plan includes $70 billion in tax cuts. Meanwhile, the deficit is projected to be more than $300 billion this year, and we're still fighting two wars. It's time to take the credit card away from the children.

The WaPo has an article detailing the plan, and includes this handy little chart about how the plan affects you.

Hat tip to Left on the Lake.

Mayor vetoes electric buses

Today, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett vetoed the plan passed by the city council yesterday calling for the contsruction of an electric guided bus system to be built in the city.

He cited that there were too many unanswered questions with the plan, and I have to concur. As I stated yesterday, I'm all for improved mass transit if it's done correctly. The plan as passed by the council was lacking in many ways. At least light rail is a proven technology that is working in many thriving cities around the country.

Personally, I'm not ready to throw $300 million at this electric guided bus idea. It's an unproven and proprietary technology, and I'm glad the mayor is skeptical as well.


Common council approves Connector

The Milwaukee Common Council voted 9-6 to approve a network of guided electric buses in the city today.

The Milwaukee Connector project has been under study for years now. The panel has ruled out light rail, and endorsed guided electric buses as the preferred alternative.

I'm in favor of rail transit in Milwaukee, if it's done right. Rail has all kinds of benefits that buses don't. Rail has its own right of way whereas buses get caught in the same traffic jams as cars. Like freeway exits, rail stops are better for business investment since they have dedicated stops. Buses aren't static, and routes change all the time.

Ald. Robert Bauman has raised legitimate concerns about the lack of vision in the current plan. Also, I need some convincing as to why we are going with a technology that is provided by a single company and is only used in two other cities.


Some funny on a Monday

More at the Perry Bible Fellowship.


Death penalty backgrounder

Since it looks like the question of reinstating the death penalty may be on the November ballot, it's time for some research.

I saw the movie Capote recently, and didn't realize that death by hanging was still a regular practice in the past 50 years. In this case, it was Kansas which has since moved exclusively to lethal injection. A friend sent me this link with what methods are used in each state, and thought I'd pass it on:

Methods of Execution in the United States


Danforth: gay marriage amendment silly

Former Republican Sen. John Danforth of Missouri is criticizing his party on their support of the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. He called it the latest example of how the GOP is being controlled by right-wing evangelicals.

Danforth, a Missouri Republican and an Episcopal priest, made the comments in a speech Saturday night to the Log Cabin Republicans, which support gay rights. He said history has shown that attempts to regulate human behavior with constitutional amendments are misguided.

"Once before, the Constitution was amended to try to deal with matters of human behavior; that was prohibition. That was such a flop that that was repealed 13 years later," Danforth said.

Referring to the marriage amendment, he added that perhaps at some point in history there was a constitutional amendment proposed that was "sillier than this one, but I don't know of one."

More press for Drinking Liberally

This time, it's the Shepherd.

Scroll down to the second article to read it.


GOP Assembly will pretend to pass ethics reform

The Wisconsin State Assembly has sunk ethics reform for now. The Republicans marched in lockstep against it with a the exception of five who joined the entire Democratic caucus in voting for the bill.

As drafted, the bill would have merged the State Ethics Board with the State Election Commission, and given the new body additional oversight into investigating political corruption.

Never fear though. The Republicans already have a backup plan to protect themselves in the November election. The Wisconsin State Journal reported last Friday that Assembly Majority Leader Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) would introduce a few measures to make it look like they're actually doing something in lieu of serious ethics reform.

Those include measures to prohibit the state from picking up the cost of state employees' health insurance premiums if they go on leave to work on political campaigns, and writing into state law existing prohibitions in Senate and Assembly rules against state employees engaging in campaign activity on state time or with state resources.

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said lawmakers "ought to be laughed out of the building if they think this constitutes reform.

"These are just tiny little baby steps I think people probably assume had already been enacted," he said.


Geography not our strong suit

National Geographic has conducted a study on American students' knowledge of geography and the results aren't encouraging.

  • One-third of respondents couldn’t pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
  • Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • Two-thirds didn’t know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
  • Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
  • While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
  • Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world. Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

Geography, both national and international, is definitely under-emphasized in our classrooms. The ethnocentric attitude of some people hasn't helped either. How many American adults, many of them also critics of the schools, could point out countries like Venezuela or Pakistan on an unlabeled map? I'm venturing a guess that quite a few would have trouble.


Three years since mission in Iraq accomplished

Media Matters takes a look back at the media coverage of the president's photo-op on the USS Abraham Lincoln three years ago today.