Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Olbermann on Rumsfeld

Keith Olbermann delivered a brilliant commentary on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday.

Here's an excerpt of the transcript:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.


Former state Senate candidate Donovan Riley has been charged with voting twice in the 2000 presidential election by Waukesha DA and candidate for Attorney General Paul Bucher.

One thing I don't understand is why someone would go through the trouble of voting in Illinois in addition to the swing state of Wisconsin. It's not like there was any doubt that Al Gore would win Illinois overwhelmingly. In the end, Gore won the state with 54.6% of the vote to Bush's 42.58%. Then again, the act itself seems to me a pretty stupid exercise anyway.

Read the complaint.

Libertarian speaks out on Green's PAC money

Yesterday, Mark Green was ordered by the Wisconsin Elections Board to return $468,000 in campaign contributions from out of state political action committees not registered in Wisconsin. Green's campaign has responded by saying the ruling was partisan, and a dirty trick orchestrated by the Doyle campaign.

Libertarian board member Jacob Burns, who voted in support of the ruling, responded today. Here's a portion of the statement.

At the State Elections Board meeting, it was frankly a matter of obvious law as to why I voted in favor of having Congressman Green rid his campaign of the illegal PAC money. As a candidate for state office, Congressman Green is required to follow all state election laws, even the laws he was exclusively exempted from when he ran for national office.

Wisconsin campaign laws were created to limit the influence of special interests and big business on Wisconsin politicians. PACs that were not registered in Wisconsin tainted the money transferred by Congressman Green. The money from these unregistered PACs is in violation of state law.

Xoff has more.


Riley drops out, Dems hopeful of taking Senate

While I was away, Donovan Riley quietly dropped out of the Democratic Primary for State Senate. It wasn't unexpected, since he didn't deny the double voting charge from the 2000 election. Even if it is a legal matter, you should be able to say yes or no when a reporter asks you if you voted twice.

Riley had been challenging state Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) in the primary. Many Dems aren't happy with Plale's stance on issues like stem cell research, and concealed carry. I'm thankful the charge arose now rather than after the primary had Riley won. Plale's not a perfect senator, but I'd certainly rather have him than another reactionary like Sen. Tom Reynolds.

Holding the seat will also be important for Dems if they are to pick up the State Senate. The Assembly is pretty unlikely since the districts are currently drawn in favor of Republicans, but the Senate is a good possibility consdering they're only down 5 seats (19-14).



I have returned from sunny California, and have become acutely aware that it's very gray here. It's good to be home, but that weather is going to be missed as we close out the summer in Wisconsin.

On my way out of dodge, I heard about this story (as I'm sure many of you did). Congratulations Milwaukee, you're the drunkest city in America. Now go to your room.


Quote of the Day: Vacation tomorrow edition

Before leaving for my vacation, I leave you with this quote from David Broder's column talking about Republican incumbents and the trouble they may have this election year.

For all of them, service in this Congress has turned out to be a handicap rather than a benefit to their chances of advancement. The reason was explained in blunt terms by the Republican governor of one of the states where a congressman of his party is struggling for statewide office. "What has this Congress done that anyone should applaud?" he asked scornfully. "Nothing on immigration, nothing on health care, nothing on energy -- and nothing on the war. They deserve a good kick in the pants, and that's what they're going to get."

Displacedyankeedemocrat says the quote comes from the Republican governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. He's in a tough re-election to save his job, and is trying his best to distance himself from Republican governance in Washington.

Another Drinking Liberally Wednesday

Come on down to Drinking Liberally tonight at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood.

I'm going on vacation to San Diego tomorrow so this may be the last time you see me. We get underway at 7pm. Come on down, and share a pint along with some good old fashioned dialogue.

Club G is located at 2501 S Superior Street south of downtown.


Clinton to stump for Doyle

According to Daywatch, President Clinton will be in Milwaukee to campaign for Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday October 24th, a couple weeks before the November 7th election.

Clinton left office in 2001 with a 65% approval rating, the highest in recent history. While that level of support doesn't automatically translate into support for Doyle, I'd rather have Clinton working for my campaign than an incumbent president in the 30-40% range.


The gray lady through right wing eyes

Here's some amusing satire to start the week with courtesy of the Huffington Post.

What right-wingers see when they read the New York Times.


FISA violation stands out in surveillance ruling

The ruling this week by US District Judge Taylor struck down the secret wiretapping program, put in place by the Bush Administration, as unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the program violates the law on several fronts. Taylor declared the program goes against the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, the separation of powers doctrine, and not least of which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was put in place after Watergate and codified a procedure by which the government can conduct wiretaps on suspects by getting a warrant from the FISA court. In urgent cases, FISA also provides a remedy whereby the government can go forward with a wiretap without a warrant as long as it later justifies its actions before the FISA court. Under the Bush administration's program, they've simply been conducting surveillance without going to FISA, before or after the fact, leading to the judge's ruling Thursday.

Glenn Greenwald breaks down the ruling point by point.


Kohl endorses Lamont

In the high profile Senate race in Connecticut, Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl is endorsing Ned Lamont to serve as their next senator:

From Bob Geiger:

Patrick Morris, of Senator Herb Kohl's (D-WI) press office, had much more to say, which was a refreshing change compared to some other statements. "Senator Kohl has known and worked with Senator Lieberman for a long time, and respects his principled stands and commitment to public service," said Morris. "However, the voters of Connecticut have clearly chosen Ned Lamont to represent the Democratic Party this election year, and Senator Kohl honors their choice and will support their nominee this fall."


Falk releases plan to curb gang activity

Attorney General candidate Kathleen Falk released her proposal today to combat gangs in Wisconsin. It involves using the Wisconsin Organized Crime Control Act to give the Department of Justice jurisidiction into local gang activity. Improved coordination between state and local governments on this issue would be a positive change. Falk also says she will work out of Milwaukee's DOJ office once a week to carry that initiative out.

Quoting Falk:

“I was born in Milwaukee, and I care deeply about my home town. The people of Milwaukee deserve as Attorney General who is here,” said Falk. “I will be on the front lines, working side-by-side with local officials, law enforcement officials, and community leaders to create solutions to Milwaukee’s rise in violent crimes.”

Another indication Sen. Tom Reynolds is losing

On the heels of yesterday's post, we have this BS coming from local conservative Bob Dohnal. He's accusing State Senate candidate Jim Sullivan of double voting even though the charge was dismissed by the District Attorney's office six years ago when it was found that the records mixed up Sullivan with his father Jim Sullivan, Sr.

Xoff explains the episode here.

Watchdog Milwaukee has more on this as along with documents.


Riley accused of double voting

If this story is true, State Senate candidate Donovan Riley's campaign is in trouble.

Riley is running in the Democratic primary against incumbent Jeff Plale. The district covers the east side, downtown, Bay View and the south shore suburbs. He's running on the message that Plale's voting record has been too conservative for the district on issues like stem cell research, abortion, and concealed carry, and that the district deserves a state senator more in line with its constituents.

The complaint filed with the state Elections Board contends that Riley was registered in Wisconsin and Illionis when he was practicing law, and voted twice in the November 2000 election. There needs to be a better response than this press release from Riley soon or it will become a major political problem for the campaign.

If the allegation is true, the race is over. If it turns out he was simply registered in two cities, that's a different story since voter rolls all over the country contain people that have moved and registered in their new wards.

Jason has more on this at Dyskeptic.

CSM telling Jill Carroll's story

The first part in a series documenting journalist Jill Carroll's abduction in Iraq went online Sunday. I read it last night, and it was quite a read.

The latest article is here with part 2 posted today. Go to this page to start with the introduction and Part 1.


How Wisconsin lost the UP

This little bit of Wisconsin history comes from the book on Milwaukee street names under the entry for downtown's Mason Street. It was named for then Michigan governor Tom Mason.

"At the age of 19, Mason had become acting governor of the Michigan Territory, an area that included Wisconsin. As Michigan's statehood approached, the issue of its border with Ohio heated up. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 had set the border between the two states as a line due east from the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Ohio was admitted as a state in 1803 with a border slightly north of where it should have been, a border that included the harbor of Toledo as part of the state.

Tom Mason, deciding to take back that which was rightfully Michigan's, sent terriotorial troops to take control of Toledo, beginning the "Toledo War." The Ohioans fled as the Michigan troops moved in; the Michiganders won the battle but not the war.

The United States Congress, in a move to settle the dispute, offered Michigan the northern portion of what would have been Wisconsin in exchange for the Toledo Strip. Michigan thought it was a poor swap, that the Upper Peninsula was too wild for settlement. But they had to take it or leave it, because Congress wouldn't allow Ohio to lose Toledo. Michigan accepted and became a state, and Mason, the Toledo War hero, became its first governor."

As Wikipedia notes, Michigan ultimately benefitted from acquiring the Upper Peninsula after the discovery of vast amounts of iron and copper.


Kohl the progressive

Sen. Herb Kohl gets flack sometimes for not being more visible on the public stage. He's more of an operator focusing on issues like agriculture and Social Security, but he also serves on the important Judiciary and Appropriations committees.

While I have disagreed with some of Kohl's votes in the past (e.g. the bankruptcy bill), I agree with him most of the time otherwise. I would hardly call Herb a closet Republican, and I'm guessing those on the right would take offense at such a characterization.

Dave Diamond breaks down Kohl's record which shows that our senior senator is more progressive on the issues than many think.


WI-08: Wall releases new ad

The new ad from Democratic congressional candidate Jamie Wall entitled Pigs Fly is quality.

Wall is one of three Democratic candidates vying for the open seat in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional district this fall.

Hat tip to jef4wi.

The GOP double standard on moderates

It was amusing this week to see so many Republicans praising Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) before and after his primary loss. In the meantime, Republican moderates like Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) are berated as RINOs (Republican in Name Only) when they don't tow the party line.

Chafee himself is facing a primary challenger in Cranston mayor Steve Laffey. He also faces a tough re-election fight against Democratic candidate Sheldon Whitehouse if he defeats Laffey. The latest Rasmussen poll has him losing to Whitehouse by six points.


Focus tales

For the past four years, I've owned a 2000 Ford Focus. At the time I bought it, I actually was looking for something along the lines of a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla. The Focus was more affordable though, and had the features I was looking for. Overall, it hasn't been a bad car, but it has had its share of recalls.

This week, it gave me some interesting grief. After exiting the store I had been shopping at, I got into the car and put the key in the ignition. Much to my surprise, it wouldn't budge. It behaved as if I was trying to use the wrong key in it. I fought and fought, but it wouldn't move. In the end, AAA had to tow it to the dealer where I paid a nice sum to have a new ignition mechanism put in since Ford hasn't issued a recall or extended warranty on the part.

After doing numerous online searches, it turns out I'm not the only one with the issue. See this story from WJLA in Washington, DC, or video here.

Needless to say, I added my complaint to the hundreds of others with the NHTSA. If any other Foci owners out there in the wilderness have had this issue, I'd be curious to hear what your experience was.

Breaking up with Joe

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) lost his bid for the Democratic nomination tonight in Connecticut. He has served three terms in the Senate, and was chosen as Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential election.

Lieberman has been a staunch advocate for the environment. When I was on Sen. Feingold's staff, I was proud to work alongside Sen. Lieberman's office in supporting legislation declaring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge wilderness to prevent oil drilling there.

In recent years, Lieberman has increasingly aligned himself with the Bush Administration's foreign policy. With the majority of Americans fed up with the lack of progress in the Iraq war, voters in the CT Democratic primary decided to hold Lieberman accountable and nominate Ned Lamont to be their next Senator.

In the past, I have given Lieberman the benefit of the doubt considering his record on the environment, and the federal budget despite his approach on the Iraq war. According to his campaign though, he will now seek an independent nod to retain "his seat." If Lieberman felt he was more suited to run as an independent, he should have cut his ties with the Democratic Party before. Now that he has lost in the primary, an independent candidacy not only cries sour grapes, but it also raises the likelihood that the Republican candidate will win in November since it could divide the Democratic vote.

If Lieberman wants to be remembered as more than a sore loser, he ought to concede that he lost a valient fight tonight, and endorse Ned Lamont to be the next US Senator from Connecticut. Thank you for your service to the country, Sen. Lieberman. It's time to move on.


Gov scales back minimum markup law

Gov. Jim Doyle issued an order to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection today to not enforce the minimum markup law on gasoline containing ethanol. The move ensures that those of us in Wisconsin that use blends containing ethanol, or those filling up with E85 gas will save at least a few cents when we fill up.

The minimum markup law has been around since the 1930s, and requires wholesalers and gas station owners to each charge 3% more than they paid for their gasoline.


Quote of the Day

Things aren't looking good for Joe in Connecticut.

"I have no more confidence in Lieberman," said Reardon, an 83-year-old retired truck driver from Meriden. "He doesn't tell the truth. He goes to Iraq and says everything is great and I'm supposed to believe him? What am I, stupid?"

New Tomorrow


Drinking Liberally on the radio

WUWM's At 10 aired the feature this week about Drinking Liberally featuring Scott, Jason, and Stacie.

Scott has posted an audio clip if you missed it.

More on that changing Kansas electorate

An article in the American Prospect examines the increasing number of Republicans in Kansas and elsewhere bolting the party and running as Democrats. This fall in Kansas, nine former Republicans are running for office as Democrats for offices like Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

In Virginia, Ronald Reagan's former Navy secretary Jim Webb has become a Democrat and is running for US Senate in November. Even former NBA player Charles Barkley has made the switch.

From the article:

“The more converts you get, the bigger the party you have. Are there going to be some people inside the Democratic Party who are resentful of switchers? Yes, there are people like that,” said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. “[But] of course it’s better for the Democrats to get those switches because it means: a) the party is attractive to people who it wasn’t attractive to in the past; and b) that’s how parties grow!”

Rothenberg noted that the fracture between moderates and conservatives in Kansas could lead to Democratic gains in 2006 in that state. Meanwhile, a July Zogby poll showed that while Webb trailed Allen by ten points, Allen's numbers continued to reside below 50 percent, indicating that he is vulnerable, and pollster John Zogby called it a competitive race.

But the implications extend beyond 2006, or even 2008. As the country witnesses the massive failure of Republican governance, coupled with the increasing isolation and elimination of the party’s moderate wing, large swaths of the electorate may be up for grabs. Webb thinks so. He says that despite his party switch, his basic beliefs haven’t changed. “I’m a realist on foreign policy, a moderate on social policy, and a populist on economic policy,” he said. “Thirty years ago, the Republican Party embraced people like me. Today, however, the Republicans’ extreme wing has pulled the party so far outside the mainstream that a lot of people who share my basic beliefs are looking for new leadership.”

Ignorance that makes your head hurt

An article from Raw Story details former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith's account of conversations the president had about Iraq just prior to the war.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

Now I'm sure many Americans weren't aware of the distinction either before the Iraq war, and a lot of war supporters likely still aren't. However, they're not the ones sending our troops into harm's way.


Estate tax/wage bill dies in Senate

A bill to both slash the estate tax and raise the minimum wage failed in the Senate on Thursday shortly before the August recess. Facing an uphill battle in this year's elections, Republicans sought to get their estate tax bill passed by tying it to the popular increase in the minimum wage. The ploy failed though when the bill didn't get the votes required for passage.

Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) described the poor record of the 109th Congress during Senate debate on the bill:

For the last 19 months, congressional Republicans have done nothing for the people. The little they have done on behalf of special interests and the well-connected has made America less safe and middle class life more difficult.

Look at their record. This Congress will be remembered more for interfering in the Terri Schiavo affair than it will for trying to solve America's health care crisis.

On every major issue, the Republican Senate has been missing in action.

Mr. President, we have 136,000 troops in the middle of a civil war in Iraq. Over 2,500 of our soldiers have died in this intractable war, over 18,000 have been wounded, many of them grievously, over $300 billion of America taxpayer money has been spent.

Has the Republican Congress done anything to turn this situation around? No. In fact, they've made the situation worse by rubberstamping President Bush's failed policies and allowing him to "stay the course" - even as the evidence suggests we desperately need to change it.


Sanity prevailing in Kansas

After the Kansas state school board supported teaching intelligent design, and anti-evolution standards in classrooms, voters removed conservative forces from power on Tuesday by electing moderates in their place.

The Kansas standards, meant to be guidelines for teachers across the state, were seen as a victory for the "intelligent design" movement, which holds that the world is so complex that a higher authority -- God -- must have created it.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted early on Wednesday, moderates had gained two seats and secured a third on the 10-member board, pushing conservatives -- two held their seats -- into the minority.

"We're going to have a new majority on the school board," said Boo Tyson, executive director of the MAINstream Coalition, which helped fund the campaign against the conservatives. "The people of Kansas have said they want their school board focused on something else than this hot-button issue."

Here's hoping our midwestern friends to the west are in the early stages of figuring out what is the matter with Kansas.


I guess all political donations are evil

Carrie Lynch expresses that sentiment in a post today about Republican accusations regarding contributions to the Doyle campaign. Excerpt:

A story in the Wisconsin State Journal today is the one that makes it official. The story is highlighting a ridiculous accusation by the Republicans about a business that gave money to Governor Doyle but didn't get any business from the state. If you have been following the news, adding this story to the mix means business that don't get contracts from the state cannot give money and businesses that do get contracts from the state cannot give money before OR after getting a contract.

That's everyone I guess. Anyone that works for a business is not allowed to give money to politicians because you just never know if your employer might get a contract from the state or might not get a contract from the state.

Keep in mind that Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green voted against banning unlimited soft money contributions from corporations in the House a few years ago. It's a bit ironic that Green and his backers in the GOP are throwing out all these accusations about contributions when it's they who have stood in the way of campaign finance reform at the national and state level for years.

If the state Republicans want to finally support a vote on the campaign finance reform bill in the legislature, which Gov. Doyle has said he would sign, great. If Mark Green wants to have a debate about how best to push back on the influence of corporate money in politics, I'm all for it. Until then, this concern seems rather disingenuous.