Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Well put

Joel McNally writes about the stem cell research issue in his Shepherd column this week:

Right now, there are more than 400,000 unused frozen embryos stored in fertility clinics. The number is growing. If those frozen embryos are not used for medical research or a tiny number for some fringe project such as Nightlight’s, the embryos will be destroyed.

That’s the really big lie Bush and Green are trying to perpetuate when they claim they oppose stem cell research because they are pro-life.

The bill vetoed by Bush and opposed by Green specifically limited federally funded stem cell research to frozen embryos that were slated for destruction.

The choice isn’t between using embryos for medical research or creating a blizzard of 400,000 snowflakes. The choice is between medical research that could save millions of lives or throwing embryos into the dumpster.

Which choice is pro-life?


Wisconsin: Most representative state?

An interesting article over at CNN cites some research done by their polling director says so. A set of 12 different measures shows Wisconsin represents a microcosm of the country as a whole.

For example, let's take the number of college graduates who live in each state. Wyoming is dead center among all 50 states, with 30.22% of its population holding a college degree. In Wisconsin, the number is 30.24%.

Or take housing values. On a state-by-state basis the median housing value, in North Carolina, is just over $111,600. The median housing value in Wisconsin is roughly $111,500. The Badger State is also fairly close to the state-by-state average on population growth, home ownership, population density, and the number of blacks and Hispanics who live there. The number of whites and blue-collar workers who live in Wisconsin is much further away from the average state's figures on those measures, but not enough to keep the Badger State from claiming the top spot.

Thanks to Meghan for the link.


The paper vs. the governor

If there was ever a sense that the Journal Sentinel has been carrying water for Gov. Jim Doyle, Bruce Murphy debunks it in his column in Milwaukee Magazine.

The JS has also been checking the Doyle administration’s inner documents and staff calendars in its effort to question major campaign contributions received. A July 7 story headlined “Timing of Doyle gift questioned” merely told us that former administration secretary Marc Marotta met with a Philadelphia attorney on the same day the lawyer donated $10,000 to Doyle. So who was questioning the gift? Both State Elections Board head Kevin Kennedy and State of Wisconsin Ethics Board attorney Jonathan Becker were interviewed, and neither offered criticism. The only critic was state Republican Party Executive Director Rick Wiley, who was quoted accusing Doyle and Marotta of “lying” and “arrogance.” This is a front-page story?

The editorial board may still endorse Doyle, but the editors in the news division seem to be aligning themselves more with conservative talk radio all the time.


I agree with Xoff and Sykes

Tom Daykin recently wrote an article in the local daily about a proposed development for a parcel of land in the Park East corridor. As Xoff points out, the two competing proposals are of different scale for the parcel bordering N. Old World 3rd St., N. 4th St., W. Juneau Ave. and W. McKinley Ave.

  • Plan A, a $101 million development, would include a 175-room hotel, 70 condos, 55,000 square feet of offices, 31,000 square feet of retail space and a 330-car parking structure.

  • Plan B, a $34 million development, would feature a 202-room hotel, a gas station/convenience store, 14,000 square feet of offices, 9,000 square feet of additional retail space and a 400-car parking structure.

The County Board appears to be leaning toward supporting the smaller Plan B, and the only reason appears to be the percentage of minority contractors hired for the work. The goal would be 37% under Plan B and 27% under Plan A. These are percentages though so the larger proposal not only provides more development for the city, but more $$$ for minority contracters:
-- 27% of Plan A's $104-million project is $28-million that would go to minority contractors.

-- 35% of Plan B's $34-million project is $11.9 million for minority firms.

Daykin's article also mentions that Plan A would produce $2.02 million in annual property tax revenue, and Plan B around $626,000 at a time when Milwaukee County is still trying to get its books in order. To echo Xoff, do the math!


Brownback doing stand up on Senate floor

The Daily Show reported on Bush's veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), during the debate on the bill, gave a speech explaining human embryos that was ridiculous but hilarious. If he wasn't serious, he could be one of the better comedians around.

Watch the segment here.


It's official

Bush vetoes embryonic stem-cell bill.

Expanding stem-cell research in this country is stuck in the mud until we get a pro-science president, or more supporters elected to Congress who will vote to override a veto. According to a new Gallup poll out today, the front running Republicans are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. On the Democratic side, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore have a the most amount of support.

Personally, the only reason I think Clinton is up there is name recognition. I don't think I've spoken to any Democrats who want to see her become president, or believe she has a chance. For those considering supporting her, name me a state that Hillary could win that Kerry didn't. One reason why a Gore candidacy has potential is that he has built in support from those who voted for him in 2000, and can build on that.

Unfortunately for now, scientific research and the ability to move forward toward medical cures will suffer until we answer that next question of who will lead the country after 2008.


Stem cell research bill moves to Bush

The Senate has passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act by an overwhelming 63-37 vote. Unfortunately, that won't be enough to override President Bush's veto which will be the first of his presidency. Every Democrat except Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted for the bill along with 19 Republicans.

Last year it passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 238-194 with every Wisconsin Republican opposed including gubernatorial candidate Mark Green. Here's the roll call from today's Senate vote:

YEAs ---63
Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Clinton (D-NY)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Frist (R-TN)
Gregg (R-NH)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Stevens (R-AK)
Warner (R-VA)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs ---37
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Coleman (R-MN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagel (R-NE)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Martinez (R-FL)
McConnell (R-KY)
Nelson (D-NE)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

The media miss the point again

In the midst of all the hoopla about the president saying the word shit on mic during a conversation with British PM Tony Blair at the UN, the press failed to pick up on the substance of what he had to say.

It wasn't lost on Ezra Klein who breaks it down:

That's a big deal: Bush believes it within the Syrian government's power to calm the conflict. Theoretically, that should have major implications for American diplomacy and, possibly, policy. So what's CNN's headline? "Open mic catches Bush expletive on Mideast"! The story is not that his substantive views on the issue have been uncovered, but that the president curses.


Big Dig = Money Pit

In recent history, especially under former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin had quite the bloated highway budget. Some highways were expanded unnecessarily and small towns had bypasses built around them around the state.

We haven't come close to Massachussetts though where the $14.7 billion dollar big dig project continues to be an extremely expensive headache. Today, Republican governor Mitt Romney announced that 1100 bolts used to hold the tunnel together are unreliable and will need to be replaced.

Planning for the project got underway in the 1970s, but didn't receive federal funding until 1991. It was designed to replace an overtaxed surface highway that ran through downtown Boston.


Former Nixon counsel John Dean on modern conservatism

DEAN: I ran into a massive study that had really been going on for 50 years now, by academics. They‘ve never really shared this with the general public. It‘s a remarkable analysis of the authoritarian personality, both those who are inclined to follow leaders, and those who jump in front and want to be the leaders.

It was not the opinion of social scientists, it was information they drew by questioning large numbers of people, hundreds of thousands of people, in anonymous testing, where they conceded, you know, their innermost feelings and reactions to things. And it turned out that these people were—most of these that came out of the testing were people who had been prequalified to be conservatives, and then they found that this, indeed, fit with the authoritarian personality.

OLBERMANN: Does it really—do the studies indicate that it really has anything to do with the political point of view? Is it—would it be easier to essentially superimpose authoritarianism over the right than it would the left? Or is it theoretically possible that they could they have gone in either direction, and it‘s just a question of people who like to follow other people?

DEAN: They found—they have found really—maybe a small, 1 percent of the left, who follow authoritarianism, probably the far left. But as far as widespread testing, it is just overwhelmingly our conservative orientation.

He appeared on Keith Olbermann's show this past Monday. The rest of the transcript is here.


Mark Shields: Iraq war a gift to Iran

Columnist Mark Shields on Friday's Newshour with Jim Lehrer had this to say during a discussion with David Brooks on the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, and how the Iraq war has helped Iran increase its influence in the Middle East:

MARK SHIELDS: They are not unrelated. I mean, the United States' war against Iraq has been an undiluted gift to Iran.

We removed from the scene Saddam Hussein, their nemesis, the man who had waged war against them. We destroyed his army. There's a Shia government now friendly to Iran in power in Iraq. Now, I mean, these are not unrelated.

If they're on the march, I mean, they were given their marching orders. I mean, their position has been strengthened and enhanced by the United States' actions and policies.

We are in a position right now, Jim, as the Israelis are finding out, much to their pain, that when you have military power, there are limitations on what you can to in responding to asymmetrical terrorist attacks.

I mean, all of the military power in the world, we could win the war in Iraq militarily. We could do it the same way we won World War II, go in and level the cities, destroy Fallujah, drive them out, kill them. And that would be a political disaster, and the recriminations and the retaliation would be felt for generations and centuries.

So we have achieved everything we can do militarily, everything we can do with the military. The rest of it is political, and it's not working.

Dreyfus opposes marriage amendment

Former Republican governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus has a column explaining his opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment in Wisconsin to ban same-sex marriage, and civil unions.


Federally, such an amendment would never pass muster with the Supreme Court. The very First Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly states, "Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, OR prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Such an amendment nationally would do that very clearly. We wouldn’t put up with that as Americans, so why would we as Badgers in this state?

I would warn church leaders to be very resistant to inviting the government into your tents. If you let the camel’s nose in, the hump will surely follow.

Now let me move on to the term "civil union." Actually, all of us who are married before an altar of God signed on to a civil union as well. Do you remember that after the wedding you both probably went into the cleric’s office and signed some papers? That was the civil contract aspect of marriage, and the state has granted the power to execute such a contract to both clerics and judges. You may call that your marriage license, but it is actually a union recognized under civil law.

He goes on to say that we should separate the civil union contract granted by the state from the religious aspect of marriage carried out by the church, a concept a lot of reasonable Wisconsinites could support.


Wisconsin needs campaign finance reform

The Shepherd has an interview with outgoing Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann on the state of government in Wisconsin, and the need for reform following the caucus scandal which resulted in convictions for both Democratic and Republican state legislators.

A bill to reform campaign finance in Wisconsin has been under consideration in the legislature for a long time. As McCann mentions, it passed the State Senate overwhelmingly, but a faction of Republican members of the Assembly conspired to keep it from coming up for a vote.

Shepherd: SB 1 passed …
McCann: By 28 to 5 in the Senate.
Shepherd: But it was killed in the Assembly.
McCann: Right, in the Republican caucus. They wouldn’t bring it on [to the floor for a vote]. Rep. Stephen Freese (R-Dodgeville) was in the position to do it. But this is not a partisan thing. One of the most forceful speakers on this issue is Mike Ellis, a Republican senator [from Neenah], and Freese supported it. We don’t know exactly what happened in the Republican caucus, but it was beaten down there. They didn’t want to vote on it. They didn’t want to put their membership on the line. I’ve heard Mike McCabe [of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign] say that if it went to a vote it would have won. But the Republicans didn’t want to go on record as voting against it.

Scroll halfway down this page to read the article entitled “There Has Got To Be Campaign Finance Reform”.


NYC and DC lose anti-terrorism funds

The Senate voted against restoring cuts to homeland security funds for New York City and Washington, DC today. Under the new funding formula, New York lost 40% of its funds and DC lost 43% even though these two cities were the ones attacked on September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, anti-terrorism funding has shifted to less populous areas of the country leading yours truly and others to conclude that this has quickly become another pork filled program courtesy of a big spending Republican Congress.

Rural areas have been pitted against major population centers in competing for federal domestic security dollars.

Sen. Charles Schumer, also a New York Democrat, chastised the Department of Homeland Security's list of possible terrorist targets that includes a petting zoo and flea market in less populous areas.

"I've been to petting zoos when I was a kid and I took my children to petting zoos and I never saw a terrorist hiding behind one of the sheep in Little Bo Peep's flock," Schumer said.

The vote went along a largely party line vote of 47-53. Wisconsin senators Kohl and Feingold both voted in favor of restoring the funding.

Reich on the deficit and economy

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has a response on the news the White House is pushing about the deficit not being nearly as bad as forecast. He's quick to point out that while revenues have increased, they're still running $100 billion behind what the White House projected in 2001 when it campaigned for its large tax cuts.

The best way to find out whether the Bush tax cuts have really helped is to compare the current recovery with every previous recovery since World War II. What do we find? Real revenue growth in this one is trailing the average of all previous recoveries. So is the rate of new investment. So is the rate of job creation.

You don’t have to have total recall to remember that after Bill Clinton raised taxes and cut spending, we had faster revenue growth than now, a higher rate of new investment, more jobs, and a more rapidly-vanishing deficit.


Bush in town for Green fundraiser

Congressman Mark Green is holding a fundraiser downtown tonight at the Hilton for his campaign for governor. His guest of honor at the event is President Bush. As the Doyle campaign is noting, Green has voted to support the president's agenda 93% of the time.

David Broder has a column on the WaPo site breaking down the governor's race in Wisconsin. The stem cell issue is going to be one of those issues in the spotlight come November, and it's another one where Green is on Bush's side opposed to embryonic stem cell research. Karl Rove has stated Bush may make the bill his first veto if it passes the Senate.


Patriotism vs. Nationalism

Christopher Dickey has a column in Newsweek where he outlines the differences between patriotism and nationalism. George Orwell wrote that patriotism was “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people.” Dickey explains the distinction:

But American nationalism, unlike American patriotism, is different-and dangerous.

The second part of Orwell’s definition tells you why. Nationalism is the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or an idea, “placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.” Patriotism is essentially about ideas and pride. Nationalism is about emotion and blood. The nationalist’s thoughts “always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. … Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception.”

Memo to Fred Phelps

The nutjobs from the Westboro Baptist Church are focusing on the part of Leviticus that mentions homosexuality while completely ignoring other parts of Mosaic Law set forth in the book.

They need to visit God Hates Shrimp.


Frank Zeidler passes

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that former Milwaukee mayor Frank Zeidler has died from congestive heart failure at 93.

Zeidler was Milwaukee's third and last Socialist mayor, and served from 1948 to 1960. His brother Carl also served as mayor from 1940 to 1942, but left to serve in World War II where he was killed.

Frank Zeidler was instrumental in expanding the city of Milwaukee during an era of suburbanization. The size of the city doubled during his three terms. He expanded the parks, fought for civil rights, and worked with the feds on improving Milwaukee's highway system. He ran for president as the Socialist Party's candidate in 1976.

Zeidler resided Milwaukee's north side, near 2nd and Locust, where he had lived since 1946.

Henry Rollins writes to Ann Coulter


Wave of redistricting ahead?

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the 2003 non-Census redistricting that took place in Texas was legal, with the exception of one of the districts. I immediately began wondering if this would set the stage for districts being redrawn every time some state legislature switches from one party to the other.

In 2003, the Texas state legislature, with major involvement from then Majority Leader Tom DeLay, redrew the state's congressional districts despite the fact that this has historically only been done every 10 years in line with the Census as the Constitution requires.

The WaPo says that at least for now, Democrats don't seem eager to resort to such tactics. However, the folks at Donkey Rising are saying maybe they should be.

Thank you Tom DeLay for opening up this great can of worms.


Milwaukee wireless network 6 months behind

The city of Milwaukee has reached an eleventh hour deal with Midwest Fiber Networks to remain the vendor of choice to build the city's wireless network. The test network was to already be online at this point with the citywide operation in place by the end of 2007.

The city had threatened to go with another vendor after aldermen cited slow progress by the company on getting the work underway.

I share the skepticism of Left on the Lake on when this project will be ready for prime time.


CT Senate race getting interesting

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is in a tough primary battle to retain his seat in the Senate. He's facing challenger Ned Lamont, who has a lot of support from the folks over at Daily Kos, and others.

Bull Moose has a post about Lieberman's outstanding record on the environment, and how some Democrats are making a mistake by trying to force him out. I've said similar things in previous writings myself.

Lieberman announced over the weekend that if he loses the primary, he would run as an independent. What makes it interesting is that now his colleagues like Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-CT) are rallying behind Lieberman (obviously in hopes of avoiding that scenario).

If Lieberman loses the primary, he ought to bow out and give Lamont credit for taking down a well known incumbant senator since a three way battle would only help the Republican candidate. If he wins the primary, Lamont supporters should support Lieberman in November if they believe having the Democrats in power would be an improvement over the current lot.

Post 4th post

Hope all of you were able to enjoy your 4th of July. If you had the day off, all the better.

I awoke, walked down to the local coffee shop and took in the parade down here in Bay View. A few notable faces were present including Rep. Jon Richards, Sen. Jeff Plale, and County Exec Scott Walker (who received a less than stellar reception). It was civil though, and people enjoyed themselves. There is plenty to be upset about right now given the state of the nation and where we're headed on any number of fronts domestically and internationally.

One's love of country does not need to mean one cares much for its leaders. Questioning the government's actions when you see it hurting the country is the epitome of patriotism. It's just as much that person's country as the one who carries water for a failed administration.

Now go here to watch 45,000 bottle rockets being set off.


Happy 230th

Draft of the Declaration

You can read the original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, complete with the edits, by clicking here or on the image.

Once you're done there, don't forget to read the response from King George III.


Former governors oppose amendment

Former Wisconsin governors Pat Lucey, Lee Dreyfus, Martin Schreiber, and Tony Earl have issued this statement in opposition to the ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state:

"We oppose the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage. As former governors, we believe the ban runs contrary to the values of freedom and fairness that make Wisconsin great.

"The founding document of our state is designed to lay the foundation for our government and protect individual freedoms. The civil unions and marriage ban is wrong because it would mark the first time we have ever amended our constitution to limit freedom.

"We also oppose the ban because it is unnecessarily harsh and far reaching. Marriage for gay couples is already illegal in the state of Wisconsin. It is unfair to single out a group of people in our state and deny them any measure of basic legal protection.

"We urge the people of Wisconsin to carefully consider the civil unions and marriage ban, and the impact it will have on families who live in our state. We hope you will join us in voting no in November."

Noticeably absent is Tommy Thompson, who hasn't publicly commented on the amendment. As Xoff notes, Tommy's currently serving as honorary chair to Mark Green's campaign which is probably why he's choosing to stay quiet.


Milwaukee in the news

Milwaukee's getting some good press around the country. The Trib recently had an article about Chicagoans heading north to buy homes.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article about Racine's changing economy.