Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Recommended News Items

The Alito hearings have been front and center, but I noted several other interesting developments this week. The January 29, Sunday, NY Times carried an article on the front page involving James Hansen, a scientist at NASA, who claims that he was denied permission for a public radio interview because his views on global environmental issues do not agree with those promoted by the Administration.

The other interesting feature is in the February 6 issue of Newsweek (and carried online as well) about the revolt of the palace guard in which at least two conservative officials, James Comey and Jack Goldsmith, carried out a secret battle against NSA's decision to wiretap without warrants and/or FISA permission. This is the type of story which seems to elude reporting by most media outlets.

Don't forget tonight!

Don't forget the DRAIN THE SWAMP VIGIL in Wisconsin Rapids tonight....

RIP Coretta Scott King She apparently died in her sleep last night. She was 78 years old.

Just In over the (streaming) radio. Alito Confirmed Damn.

More later when I'm not so bummed out.


Monday, January 30, 2006

'The filibuster was defeated

I'm pretty bummed out over it and some people are really despondent but Ben Burch of the White Rose Society had some encouraging words.

But we did win, and I'll tell you how;

Eight days ago, there was no opposition to Alito whatsoever. No filibuster was planned, and even had one been started, there was not a chance in hell that anybody but the one Senator to propose it would vote against cloture. The Far Right had just had "Justice Sunday" an illegal use of the pulpit to promote a political agenda which they spent millions of dollars on in order to motivate their zombie-like zealots, and it looked like no opposition was even possible.

In that eight days, we worked a miracle; We got the man who was elected President in the last stolen election to declare that he was going to filibuster, and we got MANY (I don't have the final count) Democratic Senators to vote NAY on cloture. We organized a campaign entirely through our resources here on the Internet, and swamped every fax machine and phone line in Washington DC and elsewhere with our message to vote against Alito and against cloture. We have proven that we can motivate and act with little money and few resources a campaign that nearly set the massively funded GOP Fascist Juggernaut on its ear.

And we learned who our friends are; Those Senators, bloggers, and broadcasters who stood by us, or who were honest enough to be convinced by us to support our Cause deserve our praise and unending support in the dark days to come.

-Ben Burch
White Rose Society Webmaster

Yeah, this defeat sucks.

Yeah, our leadership could have done more.

but now is not the time for defeatism....we, that is, those of us who fought in this latest battle, need each other more than ever...we need to recruit more people to our (just) cause and rally them around our banner.

We need to weed out the traitors, the quislings, the Vichy Democrats and replace them with those who have the courage to LEAD in thive their legislative districts instead of following the polls...those same polls that have been driven by hours upon hours of RW propaganda telling people what to think and say...

It's not going to be easy.

Oh yes, one more thing. We certainly didn't win today. But we didn't lose either...politically that is....we had nothing to lose going into today...absolutely nothing.

Monday Thread

A couple of things to remind you of.

First don't forget the DRAIN THE SWAMP VIGIL tomorrow night. Anybody from Marshfield, Pittsville or points in between need a ride? And before I forget, here's a special salute to Tom O'Brien and his friends for being so dedicated.

Also, if you have some time on your hands before 3:30PM our time, call Senator Kohls office about the filibuster of Alito. Kohl hasn't said if he will support it yet.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

The reason I called you all here.....

In some regard I'm happy. I'm actually happy that the Democratic party isn't acting like a bunch of....er.....ummmmmm.....sheep being led to the slaughter. They're fighting back in Washington and I'm happy to see it.


Feingold to Support Filibuster!

We knew he was going to vote against the nomination but there has been some question as to if he would support the filibuster.

Just breaking on the blogs....he's supporting the filibuster which is significant because Feingold's philosophy has always been to give the President his choice of nominees. (e.g. Feingold voted FOR Roberts, and FOR Condi Rice)

Biden and Obama said on TV that they will support the filibuster BUT

Biden said he's in it for "one vote only" which means he'll abandon it on the second vote for cloture. Thanks Joe...tell the repubs exactly WHEN you'll surrender. jeeeeesh!


Thanks, I'll watch THE WEATHER CHANNEL instead

It's getting to the point where I can't watch the Sunday morning talk shows anymore. They don't educate me anymore; they only increase the profits of the manufacturers of blood pressure medications and anti-acids. The once-trusted moderators are now suspect in their motives and loyalties. For instance:

Tim Russert, of Meet the Press fails to disclose that he is a central player in the Valerie Plame outing and continues to report on the case pretending he is an uninterested observer. In addition, last week, he lead a "lovefest" over James Carville's new sports radio talk show...while being effusive in his praise and pumping for the show he failed to mention Carville's co-host: Tim Russert's son!

Bob Schieffer, of Face the Nation has an "exclusive interview" with Dubya which fails to note that Sheieffer's brother was first appointed by Dubya to be Ambassador to Australia and now has been appointed as Ambassador to Japan.

And what can you say about Chris Mathews of Hardball? He continues to pound hard on two Republican talking points regarding the Abramoff scandal (that Abramoff gave to both Democrats and Republicans; and, that what Abramoff was doing isn't actually illegal but just the way business is done in Washington) without disclosing that he was scheduled to be the feature speaker at a fundraiser for the scam charity run by both Delay and Abramoff, The Capitol Athletic Fund. Additionally, Chris is often a well-paid speaker before business and trade groups.


Who can you trust?

The Weather Channel. At least you know the only thing they're trying to sell you is video of the Storm Stories series.


note: thanks lolo for reminding me to reset the time.... :0

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Anybody hear about this?

Take a look at this story from the New York Times


The chief prosecutor in the Jack Abramoff inquiry will step down next week because he had been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 — The investigation of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist, took a surprising new turn on Thursday when the Justice Department said the chief prosecutor in the inquiry would step down next week because he had been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush.

The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill..."

Coincidence right? Maybe. But coincidences like this are where conspiracy theories breed.

What do you think?

Good (Saturday) Morning!

Let's see....what's happening in the blogosphere......

Reports from democraticunderground.com say that the voice mailboxes of almost all of our Democratic Senators in DC are full and cannot take any more messages. So if you want to leave a message about the Alito nomination or cloture vote, you're going to have to call the district offices. I think that's a good thing.

The DUers also had a running thread over Wisconsin's Concealed Carry which, naturally, has been given the "happy face" nomenclature of PESONAL PROTECTION act On DU that thread is what is known as "troll bait" and it's living up to its name .

Don't forget the DRAIN THE SWAMP VIGIL


Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Thread

Just a few notes:

Marshfield News-Herald this morning shows Amy Sue and Marlin will vote to over-ride Governor's Veto of Concealed Carry. No comment.


Things don't look too good for sustaining a filibuster on Judge Alito. There seems to be a lot of Democrats running scared. Some are just afraid of Frist pulling his so-called Nuclear Option of doing away with the filibuster altogether. Our old favorite The Rude Pundit has something to say about that:


For Democrats to actually fear an ad campaign that says, with low, evil music playing, "Charles Schumer wouldn't let the nomination of Samuel Alito come to a vote on the floor of the Senate" is to fear dust mites, to fear shadows. Besides, the instant comeback of "Didn't filibuster Roberts, bitch" seems to take out the whole obstructionist charge.


As Republicans fret and fume if a filibuster happens, threatening some recriminations, even the "nuclear option," remember this from everything we know about Rovean politics, the way of the wolverine: they attack when frightened. They don't compromise. They don't look for solutions. They attack and attack until they get what they want. And if they still don't get it, they try to do it anyway.


Politics is about power, (explitive deleted) Use it or lose it. Sure, sure, there's easy principles to defend in blocking Alito because of what Alito believes, but there's also the pure assertion of power against those who seek to disempower the rest of us.

Warning....that website contains a lot of profanity so if you're the least bit sensitive to it, don't go.


Better Late than Never...........

Sometime late this afternoon, Senator John Kerry (Yes, that John Kerry) announced that he would lead the effort to filibuster the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

It will be an uphill battle for sure and the results are far from certain, but at ast the Democrats are fighting back. No matter what beef we might have had with Kerry, we have to hand it to him for taking a leadership position here.

Its been quite a day on the blogs...a lot of activism in getting the "faithful" to email, fax, or call their Senators to give them support (translated: courage)in setting a filibuster in motion. I'm always amazed by the passion and dedication of people on the "blogosphere". Some Senator's telephone systems were overwhelmed.

Some Senators have my sympathy.

Like Mary Landreiu of Louisianna. She needs all the goodwill from the Senate and Bush Administration that she can get to rebuild New Orleans. I can understand why she (or would be) hesitant to oppose the Administration's nominee. But I have a sad message for her though. The opposition is going to do everything in their power to thwart the reconstruction (funds have already been cut to $6 billion from $30) and blame the Senator politically....no matter which way she votes on the nomination. There is no "profit" in trying to appease them.

Stay tuned to CSPAN...things could be exciting through next Tuesday.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday Open Thread


Reading the Progressive blogs is depressing today. There's a lot of anger over Dems not filibustering Alito. Supposedly there are eight (8) Dems who won't support it. The Repubs know that they're going to win this one and they're getting a bit arrogant. Look at this from Chron.com (out of Houston..the on-line version of the Houston Chronicle

Just hours after Senate debate opened on his nomination to the Supreme Court, Alito posed for photographs and congratulations with Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and other senior GOP senators. Although a Senate confirmation vote is not expected until Friday at the earliest, the group acted as if the result was not in doubt. Alito, an appellate judge for the past 15 years, thanked "all of the senators who supported me and were kind enough to meet with me."

Meanwhile, the White House renominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. President Bush nominated Kavanaugh, the White House staff secretary, in July 2003, but he fell victim to intense battles between Senate Democrats and Republicans over numerous judicial appointments. A May 2005 bipartisan pact averted a showdown over judicial filibusters and enabled some contested nominees to win confirmation. But it left Kavanaugh in limbo.

News out of Wisconsin is that the State Senate successfully voted to override Governor Doyle's Veto of the Concealed Carry Law . Our own Julie Lassa voted to override...one of four (?) Democratic Sentators to join the Repubs.
(Julie, I love you dearly, but I think you're wrong, wrong, wrong on this one.)

Don't forget the DRAIN THE SWAMP VIGIL in Wisconsin Rapids on the 31st. I'm going to drive down. Anybody from Marshfield or Pittsville or points between who needs a ride give me a call.

Oh, yes, Thank You Dave Wille for getting the blog address emailed out to everybody.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bryan Kennedy

I haven't done this although I've been meaning to do so.

One of the worst of the worst of the Republicans in Congress is Wisconsin's own Jim Sensenbrenner, who, you might remember, didn't like the Dems holding a hearing and came in and singlehandedly cut off their microphones. His support for the Patriot Act and other even more intrusive "security measures" has been sickening. Up until now he has run with absolute impunity in what has always been considered a "safe" district for Republicans.

Last election cycle, Bryan Kennedy ran against him, and, predictably only garnered something like 35% of the vote.

But things have changed.

Bush's coattails won't help Sensenbrenner as much as before. And Bryan is much better known and better funded than before. I raqn into him at the State Convention in June and I'm impressed with him.

So here's a little plug for Bryan. If you have a few extra dollars to spend on campaign contributions consider sending some to Bryan Kennedy's campaign. If you want to know more about him, here's his website:

  • http://www.bk.2006.org/
  • Drain the Swamp!

    Tom O'Brien and the "Bring them Home" group will be meeting at 4:30 on Sunday at Judy's house to finalize plans and make signs for the DRAIN THE SWAMP! vigil.

    The actual vigil will be held on Jan 31st at "the usual spot", the Riverway Expressway Bridge....hmmmmmmmm, it strikes me that there is something else scheduled for the 31st....what could it be? [/snark]


    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    Back to the drawing board

    The meeting last night went well only from the standpoint that it ended up in a "draw". They didn't get their contract/agreement and I didn't get mine.

    I won't go into a lot of detail, those who want to know what went down can email me and I'll be happy to go through the whole blow-by-blow description.

    In the meantime, there's a lot goin on today.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Alito's nomination on a straight party-line vote, 10-8. Surprisingly Herb Kohl voted against the nomination. Now there's speculation over whether the Democrats will filibuster. Odds? My guestt is 55-45 against filibuster, but we'll see. The debate opens tomorrow.

    Yesterday we lived through the Orwellian nightmare that is commonly known as a Presidential Speech . While the President spoke at Kansas State University, he treated us to another dose of Newspeak by labeling domestic spying as, get this: Terrorist Surveilance Program . Um.....yeah....right.... I suppose those peace protestors who were giving out PB&J sandwiches to Halliburton employees are terrorist too? The military put them under survielance. It just gets more bizarre every day. Today Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is torturing the truth (sorry couldn't resist the pun) about domestic spying again. These guys never stop.

    Zogby poll is out showing 52% of American favor Impeachment if Bush violated the law. That's encouraging.

    Jump in and add a comment if you want. Opinions are always welcome.

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    "Monday, monday....can't trust that day...."

    A few things going down today that have me a little bit apprehensive. Apprehensive in the sense that I'm uncertain as to the nature of the issues and, therefore feeling totally unprepared.

    One issue has to do with a business decision which I won't get into but the other has to do with our efforts to get Democracy Now! rebroadcast on the local cable access channel.

    As some of you may note, we've been trying to get this done since early last summer and we were fortunate enough to get the committee to agree to rebroadcast from a tape kindly provided by my next door neighbor. Although this required the physical effort of taping it every morning at 7AM and then physically delivering it to the cable station, it worked very well. That is, until my neighbor moved and we could not find anybody else willing to do the taping.

    While doing that, we began negotiations with the Public asscess channel to put up a satellite dish (one-year for free) and broadcast Democracy Now! either live or tape delayed, directly from the Public Access studios. We ran into a lot of stalling tactics and finally, after four months of delays, we received the new, City Attorney's version of the agreement necessary to do the rebroadcasts.

    I spent some time going over the two agreements this morning and find that the major difference between the two is that the local contract has layer upon layer of protections from liability for the local access channel. Beyond that, there are things in there that I don't understand. For instance there is a tremendous amount of verbiage of the start/ending date of the agreement as compared to the original agreement. Reason says that this is just "lawyer talk" but having been involved with lawyers in the past, there is that uneasy feeling that there is a purpose to this verbiage beyond the obvious.

    Yeah. I know. I'm cynical. I'm suspicious. Paranoid? Not yet, but I'm working on it.

    Anyway. I'll go into the meeting tonight with my naivete' in tact and come out...
    ..ummmmm...okay...I'll clean it up...let's say LESS naive'.


    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Coffee, TV and anti-acids

    Good morning!

    What was life like before the invention of the TV remote? I've forgotten.

    It sure came in handy this morning...flipping back and forth between Meet the Press and This Week . It brings up an interesting question: Who speaks for Democrats? I'll have to think about that.

    In the meantime, I'll continue to scream at the TV, sip coffee and take Tagemet.

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Singin'Those Ole' Medicare Blues

    Most of you have read horror stories relating to the latest mismanagementbungling by our current administration. I am referring to the new Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Yes, the one that several states and many local pharmacies have had to jump in and bail out so that seniors can obtain the drugs they desperately need. The NY Times today, for example, ran a story on mentally challenged people residing in an assisted living home in FL (not a state that volunteered to bail out seniors) who were unable to obtain prescriptions and therefore had to be hospitalized to treat normally controllable symptoms.

    Fortunately, I am one of the luckier ones who recently dabbled in arcane and mysterious drug program facts and foibles. However, I do have a story to tell. Although it has a probable happy ending, it contains an element of mystery, a tinge of shock, and even a touch of humor. Please bear with me as I set the stage and lay out the intricate details necessary to carry the plot forward.

    For several months I railed angrily against the new drug plan and stated in front of many witnesses that I would join one "over my dead body"! I had (and still do have) all the usual gripes that it would be the death of the Medicare program, that the bill was voted on unfairly and with much arm-twisting and threatening, and that it would only mean more profits for drug companies and insurance companies. Then my doctor prescribed yet another expensive drug and I was forced to do some quick math (a subject I have always hated!) My drug costs per year had finally surprised the $3000 mark. My pharmacist, quick to notice the bills, also, was good enough to suggest the AARP Medicare RX Drug Plan which he had just researched. So, I went home, clicked on the site and liked what I saw (low premium, no deductible, huge formulary, all my drugs covererd) which brings me to the main body of my tale.

    Having a question or two, when I finished with the site, I decided to switch to the telephone. I was simply ecstatic to find that I had to listen to some god-awful non-rock music for only an hour and a half before I got a real person! This kind lady answered all my questions, at which point I offered to enroll. She then took down a few stats that I am always just bursting to share (birthday, age, medicare number!) and at that point she said I was partially enrolled but she would need to switch me over to a licensed insurance rep who would complete the process. Imagine my intense delight when I was again exposed to that same noxious music as before for another hour and a half! Abruptly, a male voice startled me from my trance and proceeded to finalize the enrollment. I remember joyfully calling all my friends and neighbors shortly thereafter and bragging about how easy it was to understand the program and how lucky I was to have found such a great drug plan. Little did I know!

    About a week later, I received not one, but TWO letters, each with a different letterhead, telling me that I had successfully enrolled in their drug plans. One letter contained the AARP Medicare RX letterhead, the other, United Medicare Med Advance. I took these letters to my pharmacist who looked them over carefully, noting that United was the insurance company who handled the AARP plan and that my ID numbers were the same on both letters. So, not to worry. I immediately ordered drugs and was delighted to save about $300 compared to what I had been paying for 3 refills. Again, I regaled my friends with platitudes of praise for the drug plan.

    Yesterday, the mail contained more than the usual bills. United Medicare MedAdvance sent me a letter in which they informed me that since I had requested to enroll in another drug plan on the same date, I had been removed from their plan (and rightly so. I am not so old, nor so addled that I would believe for a moment that I could belong to two drug plans at once!) However, this left at least one burning question searing my brain. If I was no longer in United's plan, was I in the AARP plan? Or possibly in some other plan which I had never heard of? I called my pharmacy and was told to call the County Department of Aging. Luckily, the woman who answered was extremely knowledgeable and told me that indeed there were two different plans out there both administered by United. The plans have different premiums and different formularies. (that word means a list of drugs covered to all of you younger folks who are well out of this mess for now) but AARP and United Health (the real name of the insurance company) are both in Hot Springs, AK, and both seem to have interchangeable telephone numbers. Not to try topping that, but they both use the same ID numbers for their subscribers (verified by AARP this morning.)

    Every story needs a conclusion (this one more than most, being so lengthy!) so here goes. I finally got through to AARP this morning. No, don't even ask how long that took! The rep I spoke to verified that I was now back into the AARP Plan after being removed temporarily to place me into the United Medicare Plan, after which I was bounced back to AARP! I should add that about a week ago I did get a card and packet from AARP and also a letter from Medicare stating that I had successfully enrolled in the AARP Plan. Meanwhile, some or all of my drug bills may or may not have gone to United Medicare, AARP thinks it will reimburse United directly. That would be nice! My stoy, hopefully, will end for sure on Monday when I have an appointment to share all my letters, drug card, drug recepts, ad nauseum, with the pharmacist who probably is as confused as I am at this point! The mystery remains--how did this happen? I can only conclude that somehow I got switched to a rep from United Medicare instead of one from AARP during the finalized enrollment process.

    Now to the moral or the point of this story--What if I had been completely addled or totally bedridden? Who would have solved this dilemma and how? People in nursing homes or those unable to speak and decide complicated issues for themselves for other reasons are really at a great disadvantage; in fact, some may be facing a life or death issue, something our present government should have considered BEFORE the drug changes took effect.

    Saturday Open Thread...

    Jump right in...thoughts? Comments?


    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Friday Open Thread

    Lots to talk about today...Conyers is holding hearings (live on CSPAN, I think). There's the outrageous comments by

    Chris Matthews: paraphrased, "Bin Laden sounds like Michael Moore"
    Tucker Carlson: paraphrased, "Bin Laden sounds like Howard Dean"

    other RW media personalities: Bin Laden sounds like Democratic Party talking points.

    This is outrageous! I've already fired off a couple of emails and may do more by this afternoon.

    The liberal blogosphere is angry. Check out some of these sites:


    You might have to copy and paste them into your browser but they're worth it.

    More later


    Ouch, That's going to leave a scar!

    Daily Kos hits it on the nose:

    Bin Laden's trail went cold 10 months ago and he's on tape making fresh threats against us. Zawahiri wasn't killed in the airstrike, and now he's also on tape taunting us. Karl Rove said today Republicans plan to make security the issue in 2006.
    Guess what? So do we.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Get is Straight! The Abramoff Scandal is a REPUBLICAN Scandal

    By the time my wife came home from her job last night, I could hardly talk. My voice was almost gone from screaming at the TV set. Didn't matter which channel I watched; didn't matter whether it was cable tv or network (I assume satellite wouldn't have made a difference either, but then I don't have satellite) the talking heads were all pounding the same line, right out of the White House talking points memo. Here's the line:

    Abramoff gave money to DEMOCRATS AND Republicans.

    bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz WRONG!!!

    Probably the best explanation comes from one of my favorite Bloggers, Jane Hamser at firedoglake. Here's here site:


    Jane has been having a running argument with the Ombudsperson at the Washington Post over her claims that the this is a "bipartisan" scandal. I commented to Jane that she spelled out the differences so clearly and simply that it bordered on the "See Spot Run." genre.

    Anyway it's well worth the read.


    Thursday Open Thread

    See everybody tonight!


    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    A couple of items

    It looks like all the blogs are getting into the "call to battle" mode.

    The subject, of course, is the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to become an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

    I don't know what is going through the minds of our Democratic Party leadership in Congress, but on the web and blogsphere, the message is stand up and fight back; Filibuster if necessary but stop this nomination at all costs. Democrats who are expressing no desire to fight or are anxious to vote to confirm Alito (like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska) are getting labeled as DINOs (Democrat in Name Only) or "Pink TuTu Democrats" (Democrats who are afraid to fight).

    One of the most ....ahhhh...unartful and downright profane calls to battle comes from one of my favorite bloggers, The Rude Pundit at this address:


    He raises a good point that our elected reps should take into consideration. That is, for years, our Democratic candidates have been asking for our votes and money by telling us that if we don't help them get elected, then a Republican will get in and vote to confirm somebody who will overturn Roe v. Wade, pass a flag burning amendment, mandate prayer in school....etc., etc...well, you get the picture. Now the whole ball of wax is on the line and this is (literally) what we paid to see.

    Speaking of activists...we have a good group of activists meeting in Rapids.called the "Bring them Home" group. They're planning something special in the way of a protest for Jan 31. (I think) I'll get some more details and post it here on the blog.

    Oh, yes, one more thing.

    Jennifer Dolan has resigned as publicity chair because she will be very busy with her Master's Degree Project. The replacement will be confirmed (or rejected) by the general membership tomorrow night....More about that on Friday.

    Hope to see you all at the meeting tomorrow night at the Pittsville American Legion Hall at 6:30 PM.


    "Open Thread"

    Hi...thought I'd give this a try....even if you're not a regular "blogger on the Wood County Dems Site, you can join in on an "Open thread" by just adding comments.

    Feel free to discuss anything you want....

    Jump right in! The water's fine!


    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

    I'm just curious how many members read this blog.....I'll talk about it more at the meeting Thursday night.

    Btw: I subscribe to the newsletter from the Chequamegon Dems which is the composite of the Bayfield and Ashland County Democratic Parties and I just received the most recent today. I'm impressed that they have such an active group.

    I was a bit surprised to see some names showing up in their minutes/news that are also popping up in the Ashland Daily Press> in discussions of the Mayor/City Administrator issue. As many of you know, I was a former Mayor of Ashland and I pay a lot of attention to the happenings in Ashland and the whole Chequamegon (pronounced Sha-wa-ma-gon)Bay region. The Mayor and the City Administrator were locked in warfare for some time until the Administrator accepted another City Administrator's job in another State. At that point, some of the Mayor's supporters on the City Council (and also prominent Chequamegon Dems) circulated a petition to eliminate the City Administrator position and return to a full-time Mayor.

    What's the fabled Yogi Berra quote? It's deja vu all over again.

    This issue was fought the first time at the end of my second term of office in 1984. To my absolute horror, a group of my supporters circulated a petition DURING THE CAMPAIGN to change the form of government to City Administrator because (as they told me) they were afraid that if I were to be defeated, then the City would be in the hands of a Mayor who would be an incompetent administrator. They wanted continuity and a full-time, elected Mayor does not lend itself to continuity.

    I'll argue that issue any day.....I think that over the years, I've come to believe that ,accountability is more important than continuity. A good friend of mine, Dr Malcom McLean, President of Northland College in Ashland at the time, once quoted an obscure philosopher (at least to me) who said something to the effect that a society that governs by committee will always be SAFE but will never be GREAT. Really, that's the choice. What are you willing to give up to be safe? (Sort of sounds like the discussion from earlier today doesn't it?)

    The Citizens of Ashland are going to have this debate (again) and in the end, they will have to choose. It should be interesting.


    Reminder and Invitation

    Just want to remind all my fellow party members that you are free to add comments to any of the posts on this blogsite. Just click on the comment sections at the bottom.

    Looking forward to your comments....this is a nice way for those of us spread throughout the county to keep in touch with each other.


    Bed-wetting Wankers

    I can't take credit for the moniker in the Title Block, it was first used by some other progressive bloggers in describing what I think, rightfully, was the logical conclusion to all those Republican talking points that said (in so many words), "Quit bitching about Bush ordering illegal wiretaps. He only did it to protect us from those murdering terrorist who are hiding under every leaf! He had to PROTECT US!"

    If you took even ten seconds to think about it, it became very clear that the crux of that argument was based on the logic of fear that goes something like this:

    We're afraid of Terrorists
    Please protect us President Bush
    We don't care what you have to do
    We don't care what laws you break

    Hence, the blogosphere coined the phrase "bed-wetting wankers".

    But they weren't the only ones who noticed the inherent cowardice in the argument. Al Gore saw it too and included this in his wonderful speech yesterday.

    "Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."
    The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.
    Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.
    Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars?
    It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

    I'll have to admit that his speech stirred patriotism in me that I haven't felt in years. I can honestly say that I looked upon September 11, 2001 with an entirely new perspective after that speech. Yes, as horrible as the events were, they were not apocolyptic. We survived that day and we'll most certainly survive if again if terrorists somehow find a way of attacking us again. We need to be vigilant but not scared. We need to stand up to the terrorists instead of being bed-wetting wankers who look to "Daddy" in the form of a male authoritarian figure to protect us.

    Look at these words again:

    "It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. "

    It's time for us to stand up for our liberties. It's time for us to stand up for the Bill of Rights. In short, it's time for us to start acting like Americans again.


    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Just a reminder

    On Martin Luther King Jr., day:

    Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic?Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right?And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.-- Martin Luther King Jr

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Did You Ride the (emotional) Rollercoaster Too?

    I’ve gone from annoyed to angry.

    Angry to enraged.

    Enraged to incensed.

    And now, incensed to depressed.

    All this in just two days too! That’s got to be some kind of record for me.

    So what caused this rapid downward spiral?

    The Alito Hearings.

    I think I’m going to have to agree with Senator Biden when he says that these Supreme Court Nomination Hearings are a waste of time. And, of course, Biden should know because he used his allotted time for questioning to engage in some of the most shameless grandstanding and self-promotion I’ve ever seen. I swear that one of his so-called questions took nine minutes and fifty-five seconds of his allotted ten minutes and then it required only a simple yes or no response from Alito. (Okay, I’m exaggerating but not by much)

    Then there was Alito himself going through this now familiar bobbing and weaving routine to avoid giving even a single answer of substance. We have become accustomed to this routine where nominees are coached and schooled on how to avoid answering questions no matter how hard the Senators press for a substantive answer. In addition, this is AFTER they have been chosen because they either do not have a paper trail which would give some clue as to where they actually stand philosophically on some issues, or, a paper trail that could be explained away as being the lawyer’s advocacy for one client or another. In Alito’s case, some of the advocacy was for his client, the Reagan Administration so the right-wing views expressed in his writings were casually written off .

    Even Alito’s record as an Appellate Judge was obfuscated to create an aura of doubt about where he really stands even though some of the issues addressed showed that Alito’s opinions were far removed from mainstream legal thought and, in my opinion, far to the right of most conservative thought.

    Alito tripped over himself a few times with the old, familiar dodge, “I can’t discuss (insert issue here) because there may be a case concerning (insert issue here) coming before me as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.” That’s been a classic tool of nominees to keep from addressing issues for a long time, but although Alito used this tool frequently, he went ahead and talked at some length about the death penalty while, in fact, there are no less than four (4) cases concerning the death penalty pending before the court now. (Thanks to Reddhead from firedoglake.) So Alito contradicted himself once again.

    But alas….. nobody cared.
    There were brief moments of hope in the hearings.

    Feingold seemed to be onto something in noting that Alito’s “Moot Court”, the forum used to prepare him for the hearings, may have included Senator Lindsay Graham. (The Washington Post had reported it and it was picked up by the blog: The Daily Kos) This would have been a clear violation of the Senate Ethics rules. But apparently that didn’t pan out.

    Kennedy thought there was information in papers from the old Princeton elitist group, Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) that would tie him (Alito) to the sexist, racist policies of the CAP. But apparently there was nothing there except the obvious fact that Alito had used the group to build up his “street cred” (cool. I get to use a “ganstra rap term.) with the Reagan Administration.

    But in the end it was all useless.

    The bottom line at the end of the hearings was exactly what it was at the beginning. The Republicans have the votes to put a far, far; far rightwing ideologue on the court and the Democrats in the Senate won’t filibuster. This guy will change the balance of ideals on the court to decades to come. My son’s children (and he isn’t even remotely close to having any yet.) will suffer through the convoluted ramblings of this Supreme Court Justice long after I’m gone.

    And that’s depressing.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    The Hypothetical Hypothetical

    It seems our kindly conservative friends are fond of using the "24" to justify the use of torture of prisoners. But that's carrying things a bit too far. Our friends at The Blue Republic (http://www.thebluerepublic.com/) have a great take on this. I have the author's permission to reprint it here.

    You say you’re against torture, and as a nation we should never endorse its use. But what if a nuclear weapon is set to go off in Manhattan within hours and you have a terrorist in custody who knows where the bomb is? He's not talking. Do you torture him for information?

    Of course you do! Do you see the error of your ways? How foolish you’ve been – do you think for a moment that torture isn’t a necessary tool in our war on abstract nouns? In this simple scenario, the intellects on the right have rendered your bleeding heart supposition - that torture is in itself evil - into American-hating “Michael Moore think”. You godless, Christiane Amanpour loving bastard!Unless……perhaps you were employing reasoning that is a tad more sophisticated than the question posed above. Is that it? Is it possible that the masters of right wing rhetorical reasoning like Dick Cheney may have missed some logical construct that would make the above scenario seem both stupid and simplistic beyond measure?Gasp! I think I know where you’re coming from.

    For example: if you were holding two people and only one had the information about the location of the bomb - but you didn't know which one - would you torture both people? And for that matter, what if there were 200 people in custody and you didn’t know which one had the information? What about 2,000? Hey, the moral ambiguity here is starting to vaporize. And here’s one for you – what if the “terrorist” has an innocent 14 year-old pregnant daughter who doesn’t know where the bomb is, but if you tortured her…the terrorist dad might spill his guts? Indeed, while you’re making up scenarios – why not make up one where we actually know where the bomb IS! It doesn’t take too much contemplation to realize that the simple scenario offered by the fans of torture is not only simple-minded, but dishonest

    Be sure to click on the link and read the whole article. I comes in handy when arguing with Republican apologists.


    Thursday, January 05, 2006


    I'm forgetting my (web) manners....

    In referencing David Brooks article in the NYT below, I neglected to give the link for the article....

    I think a free subscription is required but I know may of our party are AVID readers anyway so....

    here's the "linky thing":


    Dave Obey gets good publicity...FROM A REPUBLICAN!

    In case you didn't catch it, David Brooks, a conservative columnist, has a list of things the Republican Party must do in order to rid itself of the stink of Jack Abramoff. His third "suggestion" is interesting:

    Third, Republicans need to steal David Obey and Barney Frank's lobbying-reform ideas. For some insane reason, having to do with their own special interests, Democrats have been slow to trumpet the ideas coming from their own party. Republicans have a chance to hijack them before the country notices. Specifically, there should be a ban on lobbyist-paid travel. (Members should be allowed to take spouses on publicly financed travel because it is important that members get out and see the world.) Former members should not be allowed to lobby on the House floor. All lobbyist contacts with government officials should be posted on the Internet.

    Our favorite Congresscritter, Dave Obey, has been a voice in the wilderness for years when it comes to the Democratic party. Maybe this mention by a prominent conservative columnist will wake up the ruling powers within the Democratic party and they will listen to Dave.

    Brooks has sounded an alarm bell for us that we should be paying attention to. The Democratic Party needs to get "out-in-front" of the issue of lobbying reform and take a firm stand against corruption. We have an opportunity before us much like the one the Republicans had in 1994 where they rode to power on a theme of "Reform".

    If the party chooses the reform platform route, it must also be willing to make some very hard choices. Nobody can be naive enough to believe that corruption only exists within the Republican Party. If there are instances of corruption within the Democratic Party we must have the courage to expose it and deal with it of our own volition and not wait for it to be exposed by some special prosecutor. That will take extraordinary courage because we will risk losing the opportunity to regain majorities in either of the Houses of Congress.

    Maybe we need a quick lesson in courage from Dave Obey.

    and as an aside.............

    I don't usually watch Chris Matthews' program Hardball on MSNBC (also occasionally known as MSRNC, (for Republican National Committee)) but I did last night to see if Matthews would admit that he was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for a charitable group known as The Capital Athletic Foundation. That foundation was founded by everybody's favorite exterminator, Congressman Tom Delay, and a repository for money (bribes) from Jack Abramoff's clients. As it turns out and audit exposed that less than 1% of the money went to the organization's stated mission: "athletic activities for inner-city youth". Matthews didn't admit his involvement and went on reporting the Abramoff story with all the self-righteous indignation that we've come to expect from him.

    There was a side benefit to watching Matthews last night though. He reported on Newt Gingrich's speech in which he called upon the Republican Party to reform itself and also to "fire" Delay as Minority Leader. To his credit, Matthews reminded correspondent Andrea Mitchell (who has her own problems regarding the Plame Incident and now the NSA ILLEGAL spying scandal) that Gingrich himself had left Congress under the cloud of scandal. After Andrea reluctantly admitted that Gingrich "had issues", Matthews said singer's reminded him of the old Hollywood quote: "I knew Doris Day BEFORE she was a virgin."