Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Foley story isn't going away with resignation

Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned Friday after it was publicized that he wrote sexually charged e-mails and instant messages to teenagers in the House of Representatives page program.

Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) reportedly informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the matter months ago. He and other GOP leaders in the House are now trying to deflect criticism now that didn't do enough to pursue it.

Rather than launch an investigation Friday, the House referred the matter to the Ethics Committee to see if an investigation is warranted. TPM passes on this statement today from Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI), the Democratic Member of the House Page Board:

"As the Democratic Member of the House Page Board, any statement by Mr. Reynolds or anyone else that the House Page Board ever investigated Mr. Foley is completely untrue.

"I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House Page and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter.

"The first and only meeting of the House Page Board on this matter occurred on Friday, September 29 at approximately 6 p.m., after the allegations about Mr. Foley had become public."

As to the politics and how this impacts the election for Foley's seat, Florida law allows Republicans to name a replacement to serve in his place if he wins. As Rick Hasen points out, the fact that Foley's name remains on the ballot is going to work against that effort.


Rieckhoff book cites Kerry campaign flaws

Raw Story has reprinted a portion of Paul Rieckhoff's book entitled Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington.

In the book, he speaks to the way the Kerry campaign ignored sound advice from advisers when it came to choosing a running mate among other things. The excerpt is good so I may have to pick up the book itself.

Rieckhoff served in the Iraq War as a Lieutenant with the National Guard, and also founded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.


AIDS Walk benefit Friday night

Our Drinking Liberally host Club Garibaldi is having an AIDS Walk Charity event Friday night, September 29th, the night before the big walk.

It's open to the public at the cost of a $10 donation. Food and beverages will be provided.

Club Garibaldi is located at 2501 S Superior St.

For more information about the AIDS Walk, visit their website.


Arnold signs bill on greenhouse emissions

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state in an effort to combat global climate change. The new law calls for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Fellow Republican governor George Pataki praised the move, and said states shouldn't wait for the federal government to act on this matter. British Prime Minister Tony Blair applauded the measure as well, and addressed the signing ceremony by video link.

"You are showing brilliant leadership that will inspire and excite a lot of people worldwide," Blair said. He expressed hope that leadership on the issue would come from "states within the United States of America" and "hopefully, in time, from the whole of America."


Another good Olbermann commentary

Monday night, Keith Olbermann delievered another great commentary on the topic of 9/11 and in particular the Fox News propaganda effort over the weekend.

Crooks and Liars has the video.

Excerpt from the transcript:

"The basic plot-line was this: Because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the right wingers who have advocated it—who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews—have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden‘s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie “Wag the Dog.”

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton‘s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing."

Olbermann is doing the job that journalists used to do in the days of Murrow and Kronkite before the mainstream media became obsessed with pop culture, and maintaining cordial relationships with those in power.


Start your week with a little funny

Classic Lewis Black:


Assembly Republicans flip flop on ethics bill

State Republican legislators who helped kill Senate Bill 1, the ethics reform bill, are now claiming to be supportive of the measure. It's no surprise that this comes just weeks before an election being dominated by that very issue.

To refresh our memories, recall that the State Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly on a vote of 28-5 back in November of last year, and Gov. Jim Doyle said he would sign it. Assembly Republicans killed the bill back in May on a 45-51 vote.

Assembly Speaker John Gard (now running for Congress), brushed off the need for the bill in this quote from the local daily a few weeks before the vote:

"The fact of the matter is we have the toughest ethics laws in America," Gard said. "Those laws were enforced in Wisconsin, and people were convicted and are being punished. Combining the ethics and elections boards is a whole 'nother discussion."

Starting last year, five ex-legislators - former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala (D-Madison), former Sen. Brian Burke (D-Milwaukee), former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield), former Assembly Majority Leader Steven Foti (R-Oconomowoc) and former Rep. Bonnie Ladwig (R-Racine) - were convicted of misconduct or ethics violations.

Ellis said Assembly Republicans view his bill as an attack on Jensen, who faces sentencing May 16.

"They haven't accepted the fact that what Jensen did was wrong and if they were to pass this, they would have to come to grips with reality and admit what he did was wrong," he said.

Among other reforms, the bill would combine the state Elections and Ethics boards to create an independent Government Accountability Board.

SB 1 history here.


Bin Laden dead? Maybe not

Intelligence sources in Saudi Arabia, along with French counter-intelligence claim to have obtained information that Osama bin Laden died of typhoid in August.

But former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who now is an ABC News consultant, said he doesn't believe the report of bin Laden's death.

"Unless we hear from other sources," he said, "unless we hear chatter among the al Qaeda people themselves — and, frankly, in the end, unless we see the body — we should not be jumping to the conclusion that he's dead."

If it's true, good riddance to this menace to the world. Until the body is produced though, I remain skeptical.

GOP also lobbied elections board

According to the Associated Press, Rick Wiley, head of the state Republican Party, spoke with Republican board member John Savage prior to the vote. Reportedly, Savage had been spreading the word to others at a party fundraiser that he didn't think the vote would favor Green keeping the PAC money.

As I said the other day, I would've been more suprised if supporters from both campaigns hadn't contacted board members on such an important ruling. It's revealing that this story didn't come from the Journal Sentinel, but instead the AP. The fact that the paper didn't report on whether or not the Green camp had lobbied the board as well is either a sign of bias, or another sign of the deteriorating quality of the paper that began with the merger of the Journal and the Sentinel.

Xoff has more on the story.


WWI gets its due

It's about time someone made a movie about the crazy war that was World War I.

I'm still waiting for the day when someone writes a decent script that gets picked up for a War of 1812 blockbuster. Consider that:

  • You've got America vs. the British and Canada.
  • It was the last war fought against foreign invaders on American soil.
  • Americans invade and burn the Canadian parliament building in York (now Toronto).
  • The Brits respond by invading Washington and burning every government building in DC save the Post Office.
  • Francis Scott Key writes the Star Spangled Banner, based on the Battle of Baltimore, set to the tune of the English drinking song To Anacreon in Heaven.
  • The war's most famous conflict, the Battle of New Orleans, took place a couple weeks after the treaty had been signed to end the war.
Sounds like the makings of a good flick to me.

Barrett responds to Madison

Recently, the Madison paper the Isthmus sponsored a forum entitled "How to Keep Milwaukee from Becoming Madison." Reportedly, the forum wasn't as abbrasive as its title, but it prompted Mayor Tom Barrett to respond in kind to the paper.

Dave Diamond, a Madison resident himself, sends a message to the Isthmus and city residents that Milwaukee is not their enemy.


Election board lobbied. Green PAC decision Monday

The local daily reported Thursday on Doyle campaign lawyer lobbying the state Elections Board while they were considering whether gubernatorial candidate Mark Green could transfer his federal PAC money into his state campaign. According to the article, such an act is legal. I probably would have been surprised if campaign lawyers didn't get involved in a decision like this considering its implications on this race and ones in the future.

Reading through the correspodence, Democratic board member Carl Holborn makes it pretty clear to Doyle campaign lawyer Michael Maistelman that he will make a decision based on the facts and law not pressure from an attorney.

In the meantime, Department of Justice lawyers argued before a Dane County judge that the transfer of Green's PAC money was in violation of both state and federal laws. A ruling is expected Money er, Monday.

Nothing like a good old fashioned election campaign on the issues.

What's really wrong with American media

Cap Times columnist Dave Zweifel correctly points out the true bias of the mainstream media, prioritizing sensationlism over more important stories.

"To prove a point, an Internet blog called Think Progress looked closely at the network newscasts the evening of Aug. 17th. That happened to be the day that U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Bush administration had blatantly violated the U.S. Constitution with its secret NSA domestic communications surveillance program.

It also happened to be the same day the announcement was made that Thailand had in its custody a man who claims to have murdered JonBenet Ramsey.

Newspeople gather at the Los Angeles airport in August to interview passengers from the flight with John Mark Karr, the suspect in the killing of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

According to the blog, here's the score:

• NBC - 7 minutes, 39 seconds on the JonBenet story, 27 seconds on the judge's decision.

• CBS - 3 minutes, 23 seconds on the JonBenet story, 25 seconds on the decision.

• ABC - 4 minutes, 3 seconds on JonBenet, 2 minutes on the decision."


Marriage amendment to be debated

This could be interesting. At the very least, I'm sure it will be more exciting than the governor's debate last week.

MADISON – The two lead campaigns involved in the proposed same-sex marriage ban will debate in two forums set for Tuesday and Oct. 2.

Julaine Appling, CEO of the amendment-supporting Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, and Mike Tate, campaign director for the opposing Fair Wisconsin group, will debate before media panels in two debates.

The first debate is in Green Bay a week from today; the second is in Waukesha on Oct. 2.

**Green Bay Debate
Tuesday, Sept. 26th
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Location: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Executive Dining Room

**Waukesha Debate
Monday, Oct. 2nd
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Location: Room N133, UW-Waukesha

Under the ground rules agreed to by, Fair Wisconsin and the Family Research Institute, Appling and Tate each will deliver 2-minute opening and closing statements separated by 2-minute answers to questions posed by journalists. No audience questions will be accepted.


Conservatives calling for a Democratic House

The Washington Monthly has archived a number of articles put out by conservatives recently. They all share the common theme of calling for a Democratic House in the November elections.

Maher: Even Bulgaria gets it about evolution

Living up to the name of his former show "Politically Incorrect," Bill Maher said this to say in an interview with the Onion this week.

"AVC: When we last spoke to you—it's been almost 10 years now—the last question asked was 'Are the American people stupid?' How would you answer that today?

BM: They are. Even more so than 10 years ago. People come up to me all the time and say, 'This is such a stupid country.' And it is. Unfortunately, it is. It has millions of bright people in it. I like to think that they comprise a good part of my audience. But there's no doubt about it, it's a stupid country. It was in The New York Times last week that when they asked the question 'Do you think human beings evolved from an earlier species of animal?' the only Western nation that responded 'no' more often than America was Turkey. Thirty different countries, including Bulgaria. Ooh, that one hurt. I got to say, that hurt. That was like a knife in the gut. Even Bulgaria gets it about evolution more than we do. That's a stupid country."


Why I like Dave Obey

Rep. Dave Obey of Wisconsin's 7th district fired back at Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) this week. Boehner fired off the tired right-wing talking point of questioning the patriotism of Democrats who continue to question the war in Iraq, and the Bush Administration's prosecution of it.

"I come from the state of Joe McCarthy," said Obey, D-Wausau. "(I) know a third-rate McCarthy when I see one. And we saw one yesterday."

McCarthy, a Republican from Appleton who represented Wisconsin in the Senate from 1947 until his death in 1957, made headlines by accusing the Defense Department of employing unnamed Communists.

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that he wondered if his friends who are Democrats "are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."

Boehner's comment came in response to Democrats who accused President Bush of using his Monday night speech commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to build support for the war in Iraq.

Sensenbrenner gives Milwaukee the finger

Proving again what a hothead he is, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner lashed out at Milwaukee saying it "is rapidly becoming the murder capital of the U.S." The remark came when Mayor Tom Barrett had the audacity to question the all knowing F. Jim's support of a bill at the top of the NRA's priority list.

The bill in question "would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from from releasing data used to trace guns used in crimes back to the dealers who sold them." When Barrett criticized the measure for restricting the ability of law enforcement to combat gun crimes, Sensenbrenner responded by calling him a "crybaby." Brilliant debating, Congressman. Jolly good.

On the subject of homicides in Milwaukee, of course a lot has to be done. Filling the 200 vacancies in the police department would be a start. To call Milwaukee, which ranked 25th in the country in 2005, the next murder capital is by definition an overstatement.

Congressman, maybe if you weren't spending your time as Judiciary Committee Chairman being the NRA's bitch, you could work with the mayor, and others in the city to do something proactive to help decrease the murder rate in Milwaukee and elsewhere.


City opens up bidding on citywide Wi-Fi

The city council has ditched Midwest Fiber Networks to do the work on a citywide wireless network for Milwaukee residents. Last October, the company proposed setting up the network at no cost, and would set up deals with service providers to provide internet access.

In an effort to get the project rolling, Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council have opened the bidding to other vendors. So far, Earthlink and Cellnet have entered discussions with the city on the initiative.

This looks like a good move to me. The city has been more than patient with Midwest, and opening up the bidding to others can only help Milwaukee residents get the best bang for the buck.


Drinking Liberally - birthday edition tonight

Tonight marks one year since we started up our bimonthly gathering known as Drinking Liberally.

It's been a busy day, but I will be down tonight to discuss last night's election results with everyone and do some celebrating as well.

Stop on by Club Garibaldi anytime after 7pm to raise your glass with us. Club G is located at 2501 S Superior St in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood.


Polls are closed

Here are a few sites to check for results:

Updated results from the Democratic primary
Attorney General (97% in):
Kathleen Falk 187,811 52.58%
Peg Lautenschlager 169,371 47.42%

District Attorney (94% in):
John Chisholm 36,578 65%
Larraine McNamara-McGraw 20,125 35%

Secretary of State (98% in):
Doug La Follette 230,001 71.14%
Scot Ross 93,319 28.86%

Sheriff (95% in):
David Clarke 32,541 52%
Vince Bobot 29,482 48%

US Senate (98% in):
Herb Kohl 300,700 85.52%
Ben Masel 50,925 14.48%

Celebrate America. Vote!

The fall primary elections are today. I'll post results later when they come in. Here are the official Brewtown Politico endorsements:

Attorney General: Kathleen Falk
District Attorney: John Chisholm
Secretary of State: Scot Ross
Sheriff: Vince Bobot
US Senator: Herb Kohl

Where to vote in the city of Milwaukee.
Where to vote everywhere else.


My journal from DC five years ago today

I was working on the Hill in Washington when the attacks took place. Rather than attempting to write a summary of my thoughts on that day, I pulled this entry from my journal (some personal information omitted). It's not my best writing, but it's the stream of consciousness that went from my head to the pen that day.

Tragedy struck America today as terrorists hijacked four planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

I arrived at work as they were reporting on the Trade Center crash. Just after 9:30, I went down to get coffee at Cups in the Russell building. As I arrived in the coffee shop with my co-worker Katie, they reported the Pentagon had been hit just a few miles from the Capitol.

As we returned to the office, talk of evacuation plans was commencing. People seemed to be rushing out of the Hart building. Shortly after we had gotten back, the staff all assembled, we were ordered to evacuate, and proceeded to Senator Feingold's apartment. He welcomed us in and we regrouped, all flooded with all kinds of emotions.

Russ gave us a pep talk and talked about how he had just visited Pearl Harbor and analyzed the horror of that event to what happened today.

About a half hour later, we were evacuated from Russ' apartment, because of its proximity to the Capitol.

Some of us then went over to co-worker Brian's apartment. We spent the afternoon glued to the television and talking about the day's events.

DC became a ghost town as people left work for their homes. I left and walked to Union Station at 4pm with Kirsten. She was worried, because friends of hers work in the World Trade Center.

We stopped by MF's apartment (where most of the rest of the staff had gone). John Nichols was there. We talked briefly and then proceeded to the Metro station. The train was sparse, and I made it home at around 5:15.

It was a crazy day. My last week in DC interestingly enough. Next week, I begin my new job as the immigration caseworker in the Milwaukee office.

Congress will be in session tomorrow. The budget process will be on hold as we deal with the aftermath of today and address what should be done.

View from Arlington Cemetary: 9/15/2001.


Bolton nomination dead?

After Sen. Lincoln Chafee pulled his support for the nomination of John Bolton to continue to serve as US Ambassador to the UN, it appears there won't be a vote in the forseeable future, if ever. At the Washington Note, Steve Clemons posts that the nomination appears to be dead.

After the Senate didn't support Bolton's nomination in 2004, the president appointed Bolton as a recess appointment meaning his term expires at the end of this year unless the Senate supports him.

Chafee is in a tough primary battle to save his job in Rhode Island. If Republicans end up supporting Steve Laffey, it would almost certainly result in the Democrats picking up the seat in November.

Pre-war intelligence report released

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on intelligence leading up to the Iraq war. Based on information gathered before and after the war began, the committee found no evidence of ties between Saddam Hussein and terrorists like bin Laden and Zarqawi.

"Post-war findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa'ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa'ida for material or operational support," it concluded.

The report confirmed that Zarqawi was in Baghdad between May and November 2002 - a fact much played up by Mr Cheney in the invasion's immediate aftermath - but said he was very far from welcome there. Instead, Saddam attempted, unsuccessfully, to track him down and capture him. Until the US invasion, Zarqawi was affiliated with Ansar al-Islam, a radical group in Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Iraq and unconnected to Saddam.

The full report is available on the committee's website.


Quotes of the Day

The AP has an interesting article on how Southern women are turning their backs on the GOP and plan to vote Democratic in larger numbers this year.

"I think history will show him to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant," said Barbara Knight, a self-described Republican since birth and the mother of three. "He's been an embarrassment."

Also, this quote exemplifies how some Americans will continue to blindly support the president no matter how poor his job performance becomes (emphasis mine):
"There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through."

Way to use the brain that God gave you.


Florida Senate race (virtually) over

The infamous Katherine Harris won the Republican primary for US Senate in Florida Tuesday. She defeated challengers despite the intervention of Gov. Jeb Bush and others who tried to push her out of the race. Her campaign has had staff defections, and has raised illegal contributions.

Harris currently trails incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by 30 points. An embarrassing defeat would be fitting considering her partisan role as Florida's Secretary of State in the 2000 presidential election.

In May, the Florida Republican Party even pulled its previous support for Harris in a letter:

"Katherine, though it causes us much anguish, we have determined that your campaign faces irreparable damage," said a May 7 letter to Harris obtained by the Associated Press. "We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support."


Debate alert

Tonight (Tuesday), Milwaukee Public Television is airing a debate between the Democratic candidates for Milwaukee County District Attorney.

Larraine McNamara-McGraw and John Chisholm are both running to replace outgoing DA E. Michael McCann. As Xoff wrote, MacMac really screwed up her chances the other day after accusing police of possibly being responsible for shooting a 13-year-old girl with no evidence to back up such a claim.

The debate will be moderated by Ben Merens and airs tonight at 9:00pm on WMVT channel 36 following the always entertaining Globetrekker.

That Green ad

I was watching tv with some friends last night, and that Mark Green ad came on where he shoots basketball poorly and rides his lawnmower while his family paints him as a regular guy who's not extreme. Since it came out, I've argued with others who think it's a good ad while I've said it only raises the profile of the idea that Mark Green is too reactionary for most Wisconsinites.

Many people seem to think it's a nice family friendly way for him to introduce himself to voters who don't know him. To be honest, the first time I saw it I thought "Is this guy running for dork?"


Labor Day's founder

The Labor Day holiday is traced back to the Knights of Labor and a parade they organized in New York on September 5, 1882. There's a good article from the Detroit News though about another laborer who developed the idea and organized his own parade earlier that year. It got got the attention of the Knights of Labor who moved the idea forward.

History has almost forgotten Peter McGuire, an Irish-American cabinet maker and pioneer unionist who proposed a day dedicated to all who labor. Old records describe him as a red-headed, fiery, eloquent leader of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

McGuire introduced his idea formally at a meeting of the Central Labor Union on May 18,1882. "Let us have, a festive day during which a parade through the streets of the city would permit public tribute to American Industry," he said.

The following September New York workers staged a parade up Broadway to Union Square. Few, if any, workers got the day off. Most were warned against marching in the parade with the threat of getting fired. Despite the warning, more than 10,000 workers showed up for the march. Led by mounted police, bricklayers in white aprons paraded with a band playing "Killarney." The marchers passed a reviewing stand crowded with Knights of Labor: a holiday was born. McGuire's holiday moved across the country as slowly as did recognition of the rights of the working man.

Read the rest here.


Life in Iraq before the war

This is two youtube posts in a row, but I came across this one this afternoon and thought it was worthy of sharing. The video covers Iraqi street life just two weeks prior to the US invasion in 2003.