Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


Obama rallies voters downtown

Illinois Senator Barack Obama urged Wisconsin voters to back Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats at a rally in Pere Marquette Park today.

If you missed it, Pundit Nation offers up some good photos of the event.

Quote of the Day: Mahatma Gandhi

"Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle," - Mahatma Gandhi.

Via Andrew Sullivan.


Slick polling map

Majority Watch has their latest polling data up. It's displayed with an interactive map so you can peruse the most competitive races.

Their methodology is here.


Quote of the Day: Viguerie edition

Richard Vigeurie, the chairman of and founder of Conservative Digest, offers this up in an emailed release:

“The big-spending, high-deficit, morally-deficient Republican Party hasn’t anything to offer conservatives except Halloween scare tactics about the Democrats. But since the GOP majority in Congress has engaged in an unprecedented spending spree, conservatives know that Democrats cannot be any worse and that divided government may lead to less spending,” Viguerie said.

“And conservatives have learned that, while Republicans sometimes provide significant symbolism on social issues, in truth, many of them have a disdain for values voters,” he added.

“Trying to frighten conservatives by yelling ‘Nancy Pelosi’ and ‘Harry Reid’ won’t work this time."

Viguerie recently released a book entitled Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause.

Bad political websites

CNET ranks the worst political websites on the net.

Among the winners are House Speaker Dennis Hastert who notes on his page that he was "ednorsed" by the Northwest Herald, and Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana who imitates Indiana Jones on his welcome page.

Hat tip to Political Wire.


Limbaugh the idiot

Crooks and Liars has video from Countdown showing conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh accusing Michael J. Fox of exaggerating the effects of Parkinson's disease in political advertisements. It gives you a glimpse into what a pathetic personality Limbaugh is, as he flails his arms in a mocking fashion during the broadcast.

Fox is supporting Gov. Jim Doyle in the Wisconsin governor's race, and today the governor called out the attacks by Limbaugh on Fox as unspeakable.

UPDATE: Corrected the Crooks and Liars link.


Firefox II

Happy day. The new Mozilla Firefox 2.0 browser is out. I downloaded it and used it at work today without issue.

The tabbed browsing now has more features, and the browser is quicker and more secure. Also, there's a built in spell check, which could could help some of the spelling deficient bloggers out there.

You can download it here.

Pumpkin carving liberally tonight

Tonight's another Drinking Liberally Wednesday. In the spirit of Halloween, our group will be teaming up with Milwaukee's Brew City Bruisers to carve pumpkins for the Beulah Brinton Pumpkin Palace. Pumpkins will be provided.

The fun starts at 7pm at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S Superior Street in Bay View. I'll be working late, but look forward to seeing some freaktastic jack-o'-lanterns upon my arrival.


Fox endorses Doyle

In a new television spot, Michael J. Fox urges voters to re-elect Jim Doyle on November 7th. He points out the investments that Doyle has put into embryonic stem cell research in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Doyle's Republican opponent Congressman Mark Green has stood in the way of advancements in embryonic stem cell research. His votes speak loud and clear.

On May 24, 2005, HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act came up for a vote. It would have allowed for funding research on embryonic stem cells derived from embryos from fertility clinics that would have otherwise been destroyed. Mark Green voted no.

The bill passed, but President Bush vetoed it. On July 16, 2006, the House held a vote on overriding Bush's veto of the bill. Again, Green voted no.

When Mark Green says he supports stem cell research, he's talking about another bill which passed the House 431-1 to support cord stem cell research.


Tillman: "Somehow nobody is accountable for this."

Pat Tillman's brother Kevin has written an article about the Iraq war that merits reading, and some reflection. Rather than clip a section from it, I'd urge you take a minute and read it in its entirety.

Kevin is a former baseball player, drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 1999. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he quit baseball and enlisted in the Army. His brother Pat did so as well, turning down a big contract to play for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. They served together in Iraq, and later in Afghanistan. Pat died from friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. The cause of his death wasn't disclosed to the family by the Pentagon for over a month after the incident.

UWM - MU series back on

UWM will play Marquette in men's basketball again starting in 2007.

A pair of "unidentified UWM donors" reportedly stepped forward to make up for the discrepency between the two sides.


Away on November 7th? Vote absentee

If you're tied up or out of town on Election Day, there is always the option to vote absentee in Wisconsin.

Head over to the state website to download an application for an absentee ballot. It's in PDF format so you must have a version of Adobe Reader installed. Mail the completed application to the municipal clerk in the city, village or town where you live.

E.g. in the city of Milwaukee, send your application to:
200 E WELLS ST, ROOM 501
MILWAUKEE, WI 53202-3565

You also have the option to vote absentee in person at your clerk's office up until 5:00pm on Monday, November 6th, the day before the election.

Doyle-Green debate video online

WISC-TV in Madison has put video of the final debate for governor online.

The debate was a little more heated than the previous two yawn fests. While you're watching it, you can also follow the live reaction from Michael and Anne over at Pundit Nation.


Madison's wisdom

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

"In war, too," Madison continued, "the discretionary power of the Executive [Branch of Government] is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
--President James Madison in 1795.

Madison, the nation's fourth president, presided over a tumultuous period in our country's history, not least of which was the War of 1812. He co-wrote the Federalist Papers, and became known as the father of the US Constitution. As a check against what Madison warned about, he and others gave Congress the exclusive power to declare war. We have witnessed the results of what happens when a president declares war on his own, or is simply handed the power to do so by Congress.
"The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies. A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted."
--Madison in 1793.


Iraq 2003 in review

Tuesday's Frontline, titled the Lost Year in Iraq, reviews the events in Iraq in 2003. Among those interviewed are former CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, and Richard Clarke. It's available for viewing online if you missed it.

Despite the efforts on the ground in Iraq by both military and civilian personnel, the biggest mistakes were policy decisions made by the Pentagon in the post-war period. The one that stands out the most was the order to disband the Iraqi Army rather than use them in post-war reconstruction. That decision had a direct impact on the size of the insurgency.

"The problem you have there is, with that order, you suddenly tell somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 soldiers that they're out of jobs, and they're all still armed. Now, whether they became terrorists, we don't know. But to me, that's just not a good beginning. Sun Tzu says you don't want to go to bed at night with more enemies than you woke up with that morning. Well, we went to bed with a whole lot more enemies that night than we had begun the day with.

But again, I don't fault Ambassador Bremer for that. I think that was another decree that he brought over in his briefcase; I think he was told to do that." -Lt. Gen. Jay Garner

Garner led the post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad. He served as director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (OHRA), but was replaced by Paul Bremer after only a month.


Green is W's biggest backer in the Badger State

The local daily published an article noting what many of us knew months ago. Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mark Green is the president's best friend in Wisconsin when it comes to supporting the Bush agenda. He served as Co-Chair of the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign in the state, and has a voting record in Congress supporting the president 90% of the time. In the words of a friend of mine, what do Wisconsin Republican congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan, and Tom Petri have in common? They all opposed President Bush in Congress more often than Mark Green.

Washington is under one-party rule by Republicans right now. In Wisconsin, the legislature is controlled by Republicans with only Democratic Governor Jim Doyle preventing such a situation here. If Mark Green wins on November 7th, and the Dems fail again to pick up the State Senate or Assembly, Republicans will rule mirroring what we have in Washington now. That's what the party bosses at the state GOP would love to see, but I'm optimistic that's not what most Wisconsinites want. In three weeks, we'll have a say.

On the AAR chapter 11 filing

Radio talk network Air America Radio filed for bankruptcy protection Friday. It's disappointing for those who would like to see a progressive Milwaukee station, but the network plans to restructure and continue to air its programming.

A valid criticism of how the network was setup is that management decided to pursue an expensive strategy of purchasing individual radio stations around the country to fill them with their programming. The more traditional approach to radio is syndication where stations purchase a company's programming a la carte. Successful progressive talkers like Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller have done just that with the Jones Radio network.

According to AAR founder Sheldon Drobny, he tried to purchase the network before the ownership filed, but was turned away. Drobny and his partners at Nova M Radio now plan to launch their own network featuring Mike Malloy, and John Zogby.


Clarke remains the favorite for Sheriff

Over at Watchdog Milwaukee, John-David Morgan scribes about the breakdwon of support for Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and challenger Vince Bobot in the recent Democratic primary. In short, Clarke cleaned up on the north side while Bobot carried the east side, downtown, and the south side of the city.

Clarke's Republican opponent in the general election is Don Holt of the Wisconsin State Patrol. Morgan makes a good case that Clarke is the likely winner in the general election. He has attracted support from local Republicans, but continues to run as a Democrat despite his refusal to officially join the party. The most interesting results from the November 7th election may be how many Republicans cross over for Clarke, and how many Dems decide to vote for Holt.

Marquette - UWM talks break down

This is a shame. After years of the Marquette and UW-Milwaukee men's basketball not playing each other, negotiations have broken down over resuming the series. Since the schools are only a few miles apart in the city of Milwaukee, there's a natural rivalry that is sure to generate interest. The article indicates the sticking point is the amount of money Marquette is offering UWM for the games at the Bradley Center. UWM Athletic Director and Marquette coach Tom Crean appear to be at a standstill for now.

Haidet's contention is that MU would be able to offset the up-front money it would pay UWM with the sizable crowds it would be sure to draw at the Bradley Center.

"There's a lot of money to be made when you have a sellout crowd," Haidet said. "Certainly, I would think that any game played between the two of us is going to be a sellout, wherever it's played."

Even so, Crean said there were no further counteroffers forthcoming.


Santorum's in trouble

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has some more bad news regarding his struggle to hang on to his Senate seat. According to various news sources, neither the Republican National Committee (RNC) or the National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to run ads on his behalf.

It's revealing that the party would pull resources from Santorum, who is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Instead the groups are focusing on tough re-election fights in Tennessee, Missouri and Ohio.

More Santorum news at Santorum Exposed.

UPDATE: Social conservatives are set to go all out to fight for Santorum's re-election. Pastors are planning on stuffing voter guides into Sunday church bulletins, and Santorum backers from England will be crossing the pond to help out.

Colin Hanna, head of a PA conservative group called Let Freedom Ring defined the stakes: "If Rick Santorum were to lose, it would be cited as a turning point in the social conservative movement."


Colbert highlights Lasee's nonsense

On the Colbert Report this week, Stephen Colbert highlighted a bill proposed by State Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue) to arm school teachers in Wisconsin.

Watch the video here.

Charge this man

Fred points to a story from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and it's not good. Earlier this year, a dog recovered a bag from Tichigan Lake that contained the bodies of several drowned cats. The Racine County Sheriff's Department tracked down a local man named Mike Miller who admitted to drowning the cats after feeding them for nearly two years. Previous efforts to humanely trap the animals allegedly went unheeded by Miller.

The ALDF has contacted the Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes who hasn't taken any action against the man so far:

ALDF learned of the situation after a Racine resident read in a newspaper that authorities would not take action because no law was being broken. But a quick look at Wisconsin code reveals that Miller’s alleged actions are illegal under Statute 951.02, which prohibits treating any animal in a cruel ("causing unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering") manner. Drowning results in a slow, agonizing death, causing an animal to suffer up to 20 minutes and is condemned by the American Veterinary Medical Association in its 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.

ALDF sent a letter to the Racine County District Attorney urging criminal cruelty charges, but no response has been received.


National GOP conceding Minnesota Senate race

The National Republican Senatorial Committee won't be running television ads in the race for Minnesota's open US Senate seat.

Recent polling shows Democrat Amy Klobuchar well ahead of her Republican opponent Mark Kennedy. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee won't be running ads either which essentially says the national parties agree their money is better spent on a more competitive race. The Democrats will likely retain the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Mark Dayton.

Don't be fooled. Amendment bans civil unions

WKOW 27 in Madison is reporting that canvassers for the "Vote Yes For Marriage" campaign have been telling residents that the amendment on the November 7th ballot doesn't address civil unions.

On the contrary, the amendment is pretty clear that it does, and the Vote Yes campaign pointed out that its own website agrees with that claim. The article mentions that Vote Yes doesn't train volunteers on how to approach voters. Maybe they should start if they want to have an honest debate based on facts rather than confusion.

To review, here's the language of the amendment:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."


Making of Milwaukee on MPTV

I watched the first part of the Making of Milwaukee series last night, and it was pretty good for the most part. Longtime Milwaukee historian John Gurda narrarates the three part series, the second part of which airs tonight.

The series is based on Gurda's own book of the same name which came out a few years ago.

Part 2 airs tonight locally on Channel 10 WMVS at 7pm with part 3 airing Wednesday night. More information about the series is online at the Making of Milwaukee site.


Introducing Hastert's opponent: John Laesch

Mother Jones has a good profile of Democratic Congressional candidate John Laesch. He is running against House Speaker Dennis Hastert in Illinois' 14th Congressional district. The only incumbent speaker who has lost re-election was Democrat Tom Foley who was defeated in the 1994 Republican landslide. Also, Hastert has never been reelected with less than 64% of the vote.

Since last week, with the Speaker under fire, Laesch has suddenly gotten national attention and is being taken more seriously. Laesch's campaign site is here. Here's one ad supporters began running via YouTube in September:


The first days of a Democratic House

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put forward the following proposal for the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress should Democrats take control after the November election. It's a beginning, but the prospect of such initatives seeing the light of day is long overdue.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.


Wisconsin 8th Congressional race could be close

National Journal released its rankings of the most competitive Congressional districts in the country. Telling stat: Of the top 30, 29 of them are Republican held seats.

The election to fill the seat being vacated by Mark Green ranks #24 on the list. The race is between Democrat Steve Kagan and Republican John Gard.

The rest of Wisconsin's districts are pretty much not competitive. Like too many districts around the country, they tend to be solidly Republican or Democratic due to how the lines were drawn after the 2000 census. Someday soon, we must address the need for reform when it comes to redistricting. It's hard to get excited about a race when you know the outcome before it even begins. Thankfully, the 8th CD is an exception this year.

Thoughts on Hastert

House Speaker Dennis Hastert still hasn't resigned his position after the political fallout over the Foley scandal, and the debate continues as to whether he should.

The smartest thing for him to do to take some of the heat off may be to simply announce he won't seek the Speaker's chair in the 110th Congress should Republicans retain control of the House. The odds currently are that Republicans will be in the minority, and there is little chance that his colleagues will elect him to the job again if they remain in the majority.

Based on this latest poll from Survey USA, the status quo may not be the best strategy for Hastert and House Republicans:


Eisenhower's military-industrial complex

The last great Republican president, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned our country of what was to unfold if we weren't vigilant.

Excerpt from the documentary Why We Fight:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
-Eisenhower in his farewell address to the nation.


Imperial history of the Middle East

From Maps of War (larger version here).

Progress on public housing in Milwaukee

This is an important story that merits attention since it affects those whose needs are all too often ignored. Mayor Tom Barrett called a meeting that included County Exec Scott Walker, representatives of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development along with the Helen Bader Foundation. The topic at hand was the state of public housing for those with chronic mental illness.

The meeting, closed to the media and the public, was called in the aftermath of stories published in the Journal Sentinel that revealed the horrific living conditions of hundreds of people in Milwaukee with chronic mental illness.

The newspaper found people in the care of county psychiatric workers living in filthy rooming houses and apartments. They included places with rats, broken toilets, dangling electric wires, broken smoke detectors and no heat or running water. In some places, landlords served spoiled food that they had retrieved from other people's garbage. One woman regularly was left to sit in her own waste.

Such action is long overdue. The paper deserves credit for its series on the sorry state of public housing in the area as do those who are now cooperating to improve it.


Baseball playoffs prediction thread

American League

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
Oakland A's vs. Minnesota Twins

National League
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets

The lineup of teams in this year's playoffs is quality. The likes of the Twins, Padres, and Mets are all entertaining to watch. I'll go with the Mets to win the World Series.

Hastert struggling to hold on to job

Since last week, when the Mark Foley scandal broke out, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has come increasingly under fire from colleagues and the public for how he has handled the situation.

The Washington Post reported that Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said he told Hastert in spring about the concern over contacts between Foley and pages and was told it would be taken care of. Hastert told the press Friday that he didn't recall such a conversation. Boehner then contacted the Washington Post to change his story and said he couldn't recall if he had told Hastert. It looks like the House leadership was trying to coordinate a consistent story at that point.

Today, Boehner reverted back to his original story by saying this:

"I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of," said Boehner. "And, and, and my position is it's in his corner, it's his responsibility. The Clerk of the House who runs the page program, the Page Board—all report to the Speaker. And I believe it had been dealt with."

Also today, the conservative Washington Times called for Hastert to resign.

US News reports that the next 24 to 48 hours are critical for Hastert if he is to retain his job as House Speaker.


Recommended reading: Foley free edition

Here are some important and interesting items from over the weekend.