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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Columnist Molly Ivins Dies

Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the status quo and was arguably the premier expert on George W. Bush and his administration died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

The Janesville Gazette ran her weekly column, it will be interesting to see who they replace her with......if anyone.

* Tribute to Molly
* Her last column
* The Word on Molly:'She makes us pay attention'
* Read classic Molly Ivins columns
* The unsinkable Molly Ivins: A profile from 2001


"The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it's not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point,"

"Poor people do not shut down factories ... Poor people didn't decide to use 'contract employees' because they cost less and don't get any benefits."

I will miss her.

Majority Want Troop Pull Out

The quote: "even if we did, we would never ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq." -- Faisal Khetani
Janesville Messenger Editorial Excerpt:
Finally, we note the indignation of Othman Atta, the president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, who defended Khetani, saying, “his opinion is reflected by a majority of Americans.”
We doubt that, and wonder whether the response to the now-infamous e-mail would have been as pronounced had Muslim leaders like Atta been as outspoken in opposition to Islamist violence directed at the west in recent years.
It's one thing being against the 9/11 terrorists and their accomplices, but it's another thing disregarding a person and their rights because they are Muslim. Around here in America, they have a word for that.

A clear majority of Americans think Bush is headed in the wrong direction AND/OR doing a poor job of leadership regarding Iraq. If his plan is to escalate the war and surge the troops, one can safely assume Americans want to go in the other direction, and pull troops out, but you don't have to take my word for it. After I posted my original opinion and perspective of the Messenger’s outrageous editorial, a few interesting comments compelled me to google "Iraq war polls."

Granted, most of these polls are older than 3 months, but it would be a safe bet to say that the percentage favoring drawdown/pullout is even greater today. This is not earth shattering news for most people.

This first one is truly amazing. Even the majority of the soldiers in Iraq agree with Khetani. Ya think that soldier in Iraq who complained over-reacted just a bit?

Zogby: Seventy-two per cent of the troops said the US should withdraw within 12 months. Note:This poll gets even better when you realize it was taken in February of 2006 - 12 months ago!

CNN: A majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- favors setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Gallup: Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds.

USA Today: In the poll 57% say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops.

AP Poll:Since the invasion that number has virtually flipped-flopped, producing the 66 percent "wrong direction" result found in the current poll.

Washington Post-ABC poll: Shows strong bi-partisan opposition to his plan to send additional troops, 59 percent of all Americans, including more than a quarter of Republicans, favoring Congressional intervention to stop the president's plan.

Pew: On the troop surge in Iraq, Pew found those opposed ahead by a 61-31 percent margin, with Republicans more in favor (60-33 percent), Democrats more opposed (82-12 percent), and Independents also more opposed (62-31 percent)

Here’s one with a minority result. But remember, this one is for immediate withdrawal.

Angus Reid Poll: 47.8 per cent of respondents think the U.S. should pull out of Iraq now.

…..and another poll taken of Iraqi’s.

US State Department Poll:In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout.

……and one from Wisconsin.

USA TODAY/CNN:Most Wisconsin communities vote to bring troops home. 24 out of 32 communities passed a referendum calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

....and what does the rest of the world think? Don't even go there.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bush Not Just Speculating

State of the Union Excerpt:
“And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.” – President Bush
Apparently, the terrorists have not been doing their share impacting the price of oil. Neither have India, China, peak oil, hurricanes, failing infra-structure or the general violence in the middle-east. These things must have fallen off the planet for the time being. Our President will know what to do.

The price of gasoline has been falling a few cents a week for the past month. On Monday, the day before the SOTU speech, the price for a gallon of gasoline in Janesville was $1.99. By Thursday, it was $2.19.
USA today excerpt:
The price of crude oil, which accounts for about half the price of gasoline, rose last week after President Bush in his State of the Union speech called for doubling the nation's emergency fuel supply — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — starting with a government purchase of about 11 million barrels of oil this spring.
The President of the United States, a former oilman backed up by a fully staffed energy department with the latest information technologies and some of the top economic experts and consultants available – could not connect the dots and realize the impact this announcement would have?

You know, out of all the crooked deals, secret energy task force meetings, behind closed door meetings and other information blacked out in the 9-11 commission report, one would think Bush would have shown the proper discretion proposing the doubling of the national oil reserves. If there ever was a proper time to keep his mouth shut and invoke presidential powers to declare this as “insider information,” to be kept secret in the name of free markets and national security - this was it. But nooooo.

He did the only thing he could have done to stop the price of oil from falling further. He may have also saved the ethanol industry from having the carpet pulled out from underneath in doing so. The price of oil has been falling because speculators are putting their money elsewhere. He is a lot of things, but George W. Bush is no dummy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Time is not on our side

Back in November of 2005, Rumsfeld said Murtha was undermining the troops with his openness to debate the war in Iraq. The same thing holds true for today except a lot more are willing to speak up. More and more are beginning to feel the war of the 21st century will not be in Iraq, but will begin after the war in Iraq. Think Progess Excerpt
"Put yourself in the shoes of the enemy. The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder, maybe all we have to do is wait, and we’ll win." – Donald Rumsfeld
Ok, Rummy. How many years should we keep quiet? 1 year? Two? How about five or ten? Truth is, the cultural and religious forces behind the violence in the middle-east has been festering there for hundreds of years, if not millenniums. What’s a few more years to them? Or decades? They will wait it out as long as it takes, they've done it before. If anything, time is on their side, not ours, whether we debate about it or not. They have their democracy in Iraq, its theirs to lose - not ours. Here’s the plan: Drawdown the troops and get out ASAP.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Leftists Exposed As Defenders of America

Today, the Janesville Messenger editorialized their views about the controversy surrounding the Wisconsin businessman who refused to allow their products to be used in the Iraqi war efforts. Even though the newspaper said no one is suggesting that the businessman (Khetani) doesn't have the right to condemn the U.S. military, they are suggesting no one should have the right to come to Khetani's defense, and if they do, they should be labeled as evil anti-Americans.

Certainly, I think the comments were inappropriate, but in reality, the employee’s comments were exactly what I would expect from a Muslim right-winger practicing free enterprise. American corporatists and righties are not used to people who stand up for their principles when there is money to be made. The Messenger quotes the employee Faisal Khetani's now infamous e-mail reply “even if we did, we would never ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.” But then, in the Christian-like way only the Messenger operates, they finish this quote with toxic words of their own.
Messenger excerpt:
So there – and sweet dreams in the sand, baby killer.
I don’t know about you, but the Messengers words are far more inflaming and negative than what Khetani implied. Somehow through all of this the Messenger editor(s) think they exposed something evil and wrong with the left.
Messenger excerpt:
Our View *
Left revealed – again – in controversy involving Wisconsin online company.
It becomes clear that one of the things the right will never understand about the left is that the lefts willingness to defend the rights of even the most intolerant, hateful and bigoted right-wingers is not our weakness, but our strength.

This attempt by the Messenger to blast defenders of the most basic human rights and stretch it into something it is not, is not only dumb and transparent, it is a testament to their shortcomings and at the core of the rejection they experienced in the mid-term elections. Good job, Janesville Messenger, we couldn't have done it without you.

Who's Stealing Our Land

Rural Areas Outmatched In Development Game

By Peter McKeever

Jim Rowen is right: development is devouring Waukesha County, chopping the Kettle Moraine to bits, and bearing down on Jefferson County from both directions.

These developments don’t happen in the urban areas … the land there is already gone. Instead, it is the rural areas, villages and towns that have to deal with the proposals. Developers go looking for the weakest, hoping to pick them off one by one, like a pride of lions attacking a herd of wildebeest.

How the local municipalities handle the development proposals is often as ugly as what they get to see when the development is built. Too often blinded by the promised benefits of this sacred cow called “growth”, and out-gunned, out-manned, and out-smarted by the teams of engineers, architects, money lenders, builders, realtors, highwaymen, and campaign donors, the small towns fall in line without either a serious review or attention to their own ordinances and procedures.

And when the development is done, and the rural character is gone, they don’t understand why everybody’s taxes go up to support the increased costs for schools, infrastructure, and local services. Putting 500 new homes in a community of 5,600 places huge demands on government and increases costs and taxes.

The local review and approval process is typically ripe with procedural and substantive errors and problems, often involving the failure of local government to follow public notice, open meetings and open records laws and the failure to properly apply local zoning laws and follow land use plans. The board members, the “deciders” have little experience dealing with big sprawl subdivisions complete with new lakes and mega-McMansions, office complexes, malls, and tree-lined boulevards in place of town roads and scattered farms. They much prefer to have the proposal go away, and the quickest way to accomplish that is to approve it.

Their town engineers are hired consultants, from the same firms that often do work for the developers. Local board members and plan commissioners do not have, or are unwilling to spend, funds for independent engineering reviews, environmental assessments, property tax analyses, and feasibility studies. They really have no idea what the real long-term impact will be on the place they claim to care about.

Granted, the deck is stacked in favor of the developers, but these projects can be stopped. Town and village board members too readily cede their power to reject a conditional use permit, or even to impose meaningful conditions. An application for a CUP or a variance is seen as a new version of “Let’s Make a Deal”: if the developer tweaks this and that, often things he or she was willing to give up anyway, the project is approved without dissension, with praise all around for what a boon this will be to our town.

Local boards need to listen to their community. Drop the three minute limits on how long people can speak at public hearings…residents often have good ideas. And stop limiting appearances to just those who live within the jurisdiction. Recognize that the impact of these things is regional, and people living in nearby communities have a valuable perspective too.

Local boards need to make tough decisions, even when it means severely irritating the developers. After all, those developers are like tourists, they come and then they go. The difference is that instead of spending money, they take the money, and too often, the heart, out of the place they came to visit. They are in it for the money, not the community.

And perhaps worst of all, local boards approve these disasters out of fear of getting sued. Private property rights and all that, ignoring that we have a long tradition of limiting the impact an individual property owner can have on the neighborhood. A little backbone is in order: The land, the environment, the rural qualities and character that they cherish is lost to fear. There are many fates worse than a lawsuit, such as paving over the landscape.

And when a handful of local residents happen to hear about the proposal, (too often it is rushed through quietly, with little public notice), they are overwhelmed, discouraged, and demoralized. They don’t know where to start, other than with a faith that they are right. Community opposition is poorly organized, lacking experienced leadership, strategies, and the resources to retain badly needed professional help, even at reduced rates and even if they can find a qualified law firm willing to help.

A political strategy has to accompany a legal strategy to defeat these proposals: when the local board members understand that they may lose their seats if they approve the project, they quickly go looking for ways to turn the projects down. Lawyers can help local groups make sure the procedures are open and fair, and the standards applied fairly, but local residents have to treat it as a campaign, complete with flyers, buttons, yard signs, get out the vote efforts, and petitions, to say nothing of packing the hall at public hearings and meetings.

Usually the local groups are all alone; many statewide groups worry about policy (and ignore judicial elections) instead of fighting the site-based battles where the sprawl is defeated or wins. The land is nibbled away deal by deal, like a death by a thousand cuts. Project after project is approved. If the local battles are not fought and won, the land is lost, regardless of the policies and successes reported and measured in column inches.

And as the landscape is lost as if nibbled to death by ducks, lost by even well-meaning town and villages boards, so is confidence and faith in government and democracy.

-- McKeever is a Madison attorney.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Doyle Wants to Clear the Air

The Janesville Gazette keeps up their Doyle-bashing campaign today with a front-page story framing the Democratic governor as a big bad guy imposing his will on the people like a dictator and raising cigarette taxes just to punish smokers. The Gazette gathers the comments of about a dozen locals and frames the tax and smoking ban as a Doyle-only imposition. However, just before the New Year, the Gazette ran an editorial supporting a huge cigarette tax increase.
Gazette Pro-Tax Cigarette Editorial excerpt:
Normally we would oppose any new tax. However, the possible benefits are too great in this case.
The Gazette just like Doyle, went on record to say that if the tax has a beneficial impact on health, they support it. In addition, Doyle wants to take the issue straight to the public and is willing prove that his anti-smoking campaign is not just about raising taxes, but more importantly about public health. But the Gazette in typical fashion, paints the Governors proposal on smoking as an attack on citizen rights and just another way to raise more revenue to shift around. When in truth, only the state legislature and senate have the power to bring this plan into reality as noted by a comment earlier on this webpage.

I feel it is important to note that neither the governor nor the president has the power to raise or lower taxes. All they can do is approve or reject what the legislative branch sends them. It is up to the state senate and assembly to pass a budget that raises or lowers taxes. They then send it on to the governor to sign or veto. If they don't approve it (and it takes both the senate and the assembly to approve it), the governor doesn't have anything to sign. Yes, the governor can request items and attempt to influence the resultant budget, but he cannot raise or lower taxes without the legislature's approval.—Anonymous
As a non-smoker, my own personal view on this issue is a pro-choice decision, meaning people should have the right to smoke so long as it does not infringe upon the conscious rights of others. Now that we know better, smoking is a health issue more than a rights or partisan issue, but I would admit that historically, Democrats have been the only ones stepping forward banning toxic substances to protect our health and welfare. Unfortunately, as long as tobacco is legal, I find all of this cigarette rhetoric nothing more than blowing smoke rings. Hollow on the inside, with slowly dissipating boundaries.

However, whether legal or not, the best advice is to never start smoking and if you smoke - quit!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ryan Iraq Visit Will Scout Surge Possibilities

Does Rep. Paul Ryan trust the Presidents judgment? After steadfastly supporting George W. Bush throughout his presidency, it appears Ryan is starting to doubt the presidents strategy in Iraq. On one hand, he has called Bush’s plan “the last chance for victory,” while saying it wasn’t clear whether Bush had developed the best possible strategy. Ryan supporters won’t know if Bush’s plan will work until Ryan himself pays a visit to Iraq and informs his district with his own comprehensive battlefield report.
JG excerpt:
“I intend to visit Iraq in the next few weeks to see firsthand whether the proposed strategy for victory is workable” – Rep. Paul Ryan
Yes sir, we can trust Ryan for good judgment and straight answers. We will know once and for all whether the Bush “surge” strategy is indeed workable. Nevermind that the surge is no longer a proposal - it is reality as we speak.

By now most of us living in his district should ignore that Ryan has been responsible for some of the most shameful legislation ever presented in the modern Congress. His line-item veto proposal allows Congressmen to shirk one of the most important duties of their office and hands over budgetary responsibility and tremendous political power to the president. He sponsored a proposal discouraging participation in Social Security in what can be described as an underhanded attempt to dismantle it. He votes party-line 86% or 92% of the time, depending on which Congressional watch-dog you subscribe to. After winning re-election in November, it becomes increasingly clear that people in southern Wisconsin just don’t care that Ryan is largely responsible for or rubberstamped policies that most of the country now clearly defines as being “the wrong direction.” It then seems logical to deduce that those who voted for Ryan will patiently wait for him to return back from Iraq with his “victory report” so they will have the proper guidance to make up their minds on whether to support the surge after the surge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Republicans Should Reject Hagel

Darn it!! Just when I thought the Republican Party was hanging itself with every passing day, out comes an angry Republican who decided he’s not going to take it anymore. Nearly sounding like a Democrat with guts, Sen. Chuck Hagel scolded fellow Senators during the Senate hearing debate of the Bush “surge the course” strategy.
You won’t hear this often, but I am on the same page with the Republican senator from Nebraska regarding the escalation in Iraq. The last thing us Democrats need down the stretch is an honest and transparent politician on the other side to echo what we have been saying for the past few years. I hope the Republicans reject him or censor his comments.
Hagel quote:
"We're Article 1 of the Constitution," he said. "We are a co-equal branch of government. Are we not to participate? Are we not to say anything? Are we not to register our sense of where we're going in this country on foreign policy? Bottom line is this. Our young men and women and their families, these young men and women who are asked to fight and die deserve a policy worthy of those sacrifices."

Hagel says Republicans must change
Congressmen who ask too many questions have been branded as unpatriotic and treasonous by the Republican Party. Hagel should be no different. They should stop this raving lunatic, before he has a chance to rebel rouse any further. Too bad we can't trade Lieberman for Hagel. If you haven’t seen him on C-Span today, I highly recommend that you watch for re-runs of it tomorrow.

Bush HealthCare Plan DOA

I watched the State of the Union speech, and maybe I missed something here about some new idea proposed for healthcare by the president. One thing did set the tone at the beginning for the rest of the speech when Bush proposed a plan that he said will balance the nations budget in five years. That’s easy to say, when somebody else is President!

But getting back to healthcare, I really haven’t been able to pinpoint what he was trying to say except that he wants to shift taxes around and punish American workers who continue to receive health benefits from their employers by labeling the benefit as income and subject to taxes. This new revenue would then be used to offset a proposed tax cut on people who pay their own premiums. Although everybody will receive the tax deduction, declaring the benefit as income is very sneaky and will hurt the middle-class.
USA Today Excerpt:
Health insurance offered through jobs would become taxable income.

This will in effect discourage employer participation and eventually amount to a pay cut for the workers, and it does absolutely nothing to address the high cost of healthcare. After degrading worker compensation and benefits to lows never seen before, Bush and his Republican Party continue to use the tax code as the driving force to privatize healthcare, pensions and Social Security. They don’t seem to understand that the rising burden of “entitlements” is a direct result of less pay-in participation and that their fiscal mismanagement of Federal programs is at the very core of what ails us. He continues to take us in the wrong direction.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wish List for 2007

• That the U.S. will sooner rather then later finally begin to participate in the international “Global war on terror.”
• That this will be the year people connect Bush economic (tax) policy to higher local taxes and run-away debt.
• That Wisconsin municipalities, townships and school districts disqualify out-of-state residents for vacant top positions.
• That the next time wealthy people want to gift something to their community, they ask for nothing in return.
• That healthcare for all is permanently ingrained as the number one environmental, economic and social mission.
• That the next time wealthy people want Rock County residents to support their ideas, they don’t hire a special interest Republican consultant to connect with the people.
• That corporate developers and private investors will stop buying low priced wetland and delicate natural wildlife properties in Wisconsin, only to fill and destroy for their commercial needs.
• That candidates running for city council, school board and other non-partisan public office completely inform voters of their political philosophy including associated party leanings.
• That state and local government officials cannot appoint private citizens (cronies) to form oversight and appeals boards.
• That cities like Janesville will outlaw “sprawl” and encourage economic growth from “the inside out.”

Of course, "Peace on Earth and good will to all" is assumed to be the wish of a terror-hugging liberal peacenik, free-loading entitlement democrat, pro-choice welfare socialist do-gooder, so I won’t offer such a radical statement as something to wish for.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bush Containment of Iraq

I found this drawing on the web a week ago and wondered what was on the other side of the door.

Picked up this one today.

Bush Logic: Terrorists will follow our troops IF we bring our soldiers home.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

School Budget Deficit Fails To Add Up

After passing a $70.8 million school referendum in November to update and expand two high schools, the city of Janesville is now faced with a $1.9 million operating budget shortfall. Those willing to explain the problem have no qualms about labeling it a funding shortfall and placing blame at the doorstep of the state.
JG Excerpt:
State laws governing school revenues are closely tied to enrollment, and Janesville's enrollment is on a slow decline that is projected to continue through 2012, Bunton said.
That sounds fair enough……or does it?
JG Excerpt:
Instructional cost per student was $6,088, or 17th highest among the 22 districts. That figure also bests the statewide average cost for all districts, which was $6,224.
Using simple math and taking the higher figure of $6,224, the Janesville school district would have needed to lose 305 students over the past year for the Gazette to use the state enrollment laws as the primary factor for the budget shortfall. However……..
JG excerpt:
The district has a headcount of 10,372. That’s down 25 from last years 10,397.
Of course I’m oversimplifying here, but so what? 25 students at a cost of $6,224 per comes to a state funding shortage of only $155,600. A mere fraction of the projected shortfall and that’s with the assumption that the state pays the full $6,224 per student. Mind you, I’m not trying to make an attempt to prove anything here except to expose that blaming the shortfall on state (i.e. governor) enrollment laws is either a smokescreen OR somebody needs to explain what is really going on.

In a sidebar the Gazette slapped together to emphasize the keys points to the budget shortfall, “state laws” was right at the top.
JG Excerpt:
The issue: State laws that limit school district revenue are creating a gap between income and expenses for the Janesville School District, putting jobs and programs at risk.
When most people think of the state, the first thing they look to usually is the governors office. Without directly saying it, that is exactly what the Gazette wants the reader to think.

Read more opinion about what is behind all local and state budget shortfalls.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush Policy: Can it get any worse?

From the very beginning, one of the things that frosted Bush about Saddam Hussein was the fact that Hussein was dealing oil with nearly everybody in the world except the United States. Afterwards, the Administration with the full cooperation of the media twisted it around and shifted the focus for his own benefit and accused the UN of participating in crooked oil for food deals with Iraq. France, Germany and Russia, and others signed new oil contracts with Iraq just before Bush ordered the invasion. He would have none of it, as commander of the most powerful military on Earth, Bush was prepared to take the oil by force.
Truthout Excerpt:
New Oil Law Means Victory in Iraq for Bush

From those earliest days until now, throughout all the twists and turns, the blood and chaos of the occupation, the Bush administration has kept its eye on this prize. The new law offers the barrelling buccaneers of the West a juicy set of production-sharing agreements (PSAs) that will maintain a fig leaf of Iraqi ownership of the nation's oil industry - while letting Bush's Big Oil buddies rake off up to 75 percent of all oil profits for an indefinite period up front, until they decide that their "infrastructure investments" have been repaid. Even then, the agreements will give the Western oil majors an unheard-of 20 percent of Iraq's oil profits - more than twice the average of standard PSAs, the Independent notes.

Big Oil will rake off up to 75% of all the profits until their “infrastructure investments” have been repaid? Production sharing agreements have their place, but what was so wrong when some Americans asked that oil rich Iraq share in the cost of their own liberation? Dick Cheney railed against the American public when it was suggested that the American treasury be repaid with oil profits from Iraq. He went as far to say that should Americans taxpayers expect to be repaid, world opinion of America would plummet. Could it really have gone any further down than Bush has taken it? Bush constantly reminds us that the insurgents and militias will take the oil profits if we fail in Iraq, as if it really is the only prize worth fighting for.
Consortium News Excerpt:
Not only have possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a result, but U.S. forces killed Hussein’s two sons and turned the deposed dictator over to his enemies so he could hanged like a common criminal on Dec. 30.

So there can be little incentive for Iranian or North Korean leaders to follow the Iraq model of disarmament and inspections. Further, the explosion of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world has increased risks to the pro-U.S. dictatorship in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where Islamic militants with close ties to al-Qaeda are reported to be gaining strength.

The remaining two of the so-called axis of evil have nothing to lose now by nuking up. To them, it may be the only thing that can guarantee superpower militaries will not invade.

Out of all the conspiracies and accusations, from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11 was an inside job to the DaVinci Code, none of them are as believable or convincing enough as the evidence available to support the most inconvenient truth of all – that the Bush War in Iraq is all about oil. He is taking us on a ride to nowhere.

Janesville Break Room Too Hot To Handle

The argument over the remodeled break room at Janesville City hall is apparently over. Although our local newspapers seemed to have steered the focus on the high costs and supposedly lavish amenities, the truth was that city government broke down. The monetary costs in this case turned out to be secondary to the real problem.
JG excerpt:
Said (Public works director) Messer, ”It was never our intent to create a situation where the relationship between the council and citizens erodes. Obviously, this project touched a nerve in the community. That was the furthest thing from our intention.”
I disagree with this perspective, it is the relationship between the people and the manager that has taken a hit. The break room controversy also exposed a serious communication hole between city employees and council members that may only get worse in the coming months. To the contrary, the relationship between the council and the citizens may have only gotten stronger after this one.

If the duly-elected representatives (council) were deliberately kept out of the loop on this project as it seems to appear, then so were the taxpayers of Janesville. They know it, (we) were the real losers here.
JG letter excerpt:
City employees aren't eligible for profit sharing, etc. Most are paid average to below-average salaries for position requirements. Even the city manager, in a comparable position with the budget and employees he manages, would be paid three to four times that in the private sector.

So for once, Paul, given the verbal assault the city employees have had to endure from the fab five (the same five citizens who complain at every council meeting) and their minority posse, consider it a small gesture on behalf of the city manager. What else could he give?—Jeff Clark, Janesville

A couple of things here. One, some of your worst employees are those who always feel like they are underpaid and under-appreciated. After a certain point, they can never be satisfied, they carry a chip on their shoulder, are perpetually unhappy and are certainly no joy to work around. If some city employees feel this way, by all means go work somewhere else where you will feel better. Two, unless Mr. Sheiffer paid for the break room out of his own pocket, the improvement was a small (albeit unintentional) gesture on behalf of Janesville taxpayers, to give credit elsewhere is a slap in the face to the taxpayers. And finally, there is no better way to belittle (working for free)councilmen than to write-off their concerns and questions as the habitual complaints of ignored citizens.

The January 9th Gazette ran an article titled,"Council puts breaks on lounge controversy" which oddly enough did not contain one reference to the city manager or his input into the discourse necessary to amend the problem. It seems like only those who cared enough about the issue were quoted.

The city manager insulted questioning council members by abruptly exiting a council meeting in progress. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the city managers performance including some city employees and their willingness to get along with others. If you can’t take the heat, it’s time to get out of the kitchen.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

News Papers, New Year, Old Distortions

The January 7th, Sunday edition of the Janesville Messenger contained a Tammy Baldwin press release titled "Democrat Congress will have new direction in New year," that was severely re-edited by the paper. Whole sentences were lifted out of the article. On top of this, the newspaper runs an editorial twisting Baldwins perspective of the war in Iraq and her loyalty toward the troops as a failure on their part, when nothing could be further from the truth. Baldwin clearly lays blame for the delusional expectations in Iraq on the doorstep of the dysfunctional leadership residing in the White House.
JM Editorial excerpt:
In fact, the war in Iraq has been a remarkable military success. To suggest otherwise, which is the intent of Baldwin’s platitudes about absence and loss, is an insult to the sacrifices of American military families.
The perspective of the editor(s) is so out of touch with the reality in Iraq that even President Bush himself would find argument with. Our troops have done an outstanding job given the circumstances. Everybody knows this, and there is no greater honor to them than to wish them home and out of harms way as soon as possible.
JM Editorial excerpt:
To counsel retreat, then, as liberals so often do reflexively, smacks of a toxic combination of opportunism and naivete.
One only has to remove their rosy colored glasses and do a quick search on the internet to discover that the Messenger’s viewpoint is not only in the minority, but in a minority that is populated by irrational extremists whose beliefs run strongly counter to the American majority. I have been steadfastly against the Bush war in Iraq since February 5th, 2003, the day Colin Powell lied in front of the world at the UN, so I find it ironic for myself to now be in the majority. Apparently, the tide is turning.
DailyKos excerpt: "Anyone that still supports Bush and his and McCain's war truly, truly are in the outer fringes of this country.Link

These are just two of the sentences that the editor of the Messenger did not want their readers to see.
This Bush Administration turned a projected 10-year $5.6 billion surplus into a nearly $3 trillion deficit. Enough is enough.
Existing law, written to benefit big drug companies, prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices.
The Messenger might say they edited Baldwins press release for lack of space or word limitation. Unfortunately, they failed to say this in their editor’s note. Thanks to the internet, you can read her press release titled, "New Year – New Direction for Congress" uncensored and unedited here.

I don’t know what the Janeville’s newspapers expect to accomplish given their long history of deliberate omission and distortion. Perhaps circumspection is too much to ask of newspaper editors these days. Mainstream media have nobody to blame but themselves when they discover that readers look elsewhere to get the full story.

Memo to Robson, Baldwin, Sheridan, Hixson and other local Democrats: Ask newspapers that choose to run your press releases to either print the full message or note that they did not. Tell them some their readers are also your constituents and they demand it.

To their credit (not really because newspapers need no praise when they do their job) the Janesville Gazette ran the Baldwin press release in its entirety on Dec.29, 2006 AND without bashing her in the editorial. Pigs aren’t flying yet and, no doubt, they are saving ripping Baldwin for another day.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ryan Says One Thing - Votes Another

Paul Ryan is revered by southern Wisconsin Republicans as Mr. Fiscal Conservative, whatever that means to them, it’s puzzling why he considers transparency and accountability important enough to list in his brochure.
Ryans 2006 Annual Report Excerpt:
"The current practice of pork barrel spending must end, and our budget laws must be reformed to bring more transparency and accountability to the way our tax dollars are spent." – Paul Ryan

Yet, Paul Ryan voted against ending secret earmarks, and Pay-as-you-go.
Roll Call Vote Excerpt:
The new earmark rule requires a public listing and identification of the sponsor of any spending earmarks or narrowly targeted tax breaks in pending bills. This would require disclosure for the first time of the hundreds of earmarked appropriations and special tax breaks sponsored each year to benefit local projects or political friends.

Now, when a House member writes in an earmark for their own district, and buries it in a bill, they will have to sign their name to it. That’s transparency. The same bill Ryan voted against for earmark transparency also restored the “Pay-As-You-Go” rules that requires tax cuts and hikes to be off-set elsewhere in the budget. Since the pork spenders will now be identified through the new transparency, Paygo will add another dimension to earmarks and fiscal discipline as they will now also be accountable to the taxpayers to explain their spending or the taxing that may follow, instead of pawning it off onto future generations. Rep. Paul Ryan voted against this saying it ”will have the practical effect of simply raising taxes. We do not have a tax revenue problem in Washington, we have a spending problem…”

Things don't get simpler than this folks, if you spend beyond your means you will have debt, regardless of how much money you have coming in. Paul Ryan says the treasury is flush in Bush tax cut dollars, that they don't have a revenue problem. I could not have said it any better. Ryan confirms Paygo has the funding and as a ranking member of the House Budget Committee it will be up to his office to avoid it becoming tax as you go. Perhaps that is why he voted against it. Too much responsibility.

If anything, Ryans comments and vote should raise some alarms about his ability to lead the Budget Committee. He may very well be in over his head.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Priceless: An al-Jazeera Cartoon?

The Gazette ran this Cagle Cartoon at the top of their Jan.5th editorial page. Although they are considered cartoons, I normally consider them so bluntfully truthful that more often than not, they are attempts by their creator to make light of a serious situation or, at least afford an outlet to accurately portray a subject under the general safety of satire. Which is fine but, this cartoons creator should be questioned about the casket graphic with the word "priceless" to describe what we lost in order to accomplish the disturbing hanging and video taping of Saddam Hussein.

It is my opinion that the word "priceless" when used in a cartoon context, implies a twisted and humorous sense of satisfaction, whether innocent or not. No matter what your politics are about the war, using it under a American flag draped casket in this way was in such extremely poor taste, I don't know why any American newspaper would consider printing it. What are they thinking? But maybe it's just me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Young Republicans: Send Us

Where are more troops going to come from for the Bush plan to mount a "surge" in Iraq?

One possible area for recruitment would be Young Republicans.
Young Republican Excerpt: Join our nationwide network of 18-40 year olds who are active in local, state, and national politics. Impact the direction of our country by joining America's Oldest Political Youth Organization!
They certainly are in the right age group, but counter-terrorism and military combat operations seems to be mysteriously absent from their list of activities. The Pentagon should download their membership list and send them a “Go to Iraq Free” preferred card as reward for their unwavering support for George W. Bush.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bush Tops Evil Tyrants

I can hear cries of conspiracy from the right on this one. What happened to the other 53%? Certainly they believe the likes of Al Gore, the Clintons, Howard Dean or even Russ Feingold should have made that list. Or how about John Kerry or Max Cleland? Why didn't the American people choose these liberals, leftists, Democrats and traitors as the top villains? Over 50 million people voted for Bush, what happened since?
Watch Bush Villain Report 32 sec.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gazette Omits Xtra Information

Recently, readers of the Janesville Gazette have voiced their displeasure over a holiday weekend front page story about water contamination in Magnolia Township and its possible relationship to Larsen Acres Diary Farm. This story included a time-line side panel that attempts to link the contamination issue to a farm bill signed by Gov. Jim Doyle.
JG excerpt:
April, 2004 - Gov. Jim Doyle signs the Livestock Siting Bill into law for Wisconsin. The law restricts reasons municipalities can deny large farming operations. Ed Larson of Larson Acres sat on a task force to develop the law.
I’m not going to dispute their opinion of what they think the bill means, but I will let you know what they also failed to tell you. The Livestock Siting Bill, or AB 868 signed by the Governor, was raced through a greased legislative system on Republican skids pushed by many of the state’s factory farmers and lobbyists. The Republican-led state Assembly voted to pass it. The bill created a state-run micro bureaucracy called the Livestock Facility Siting Review Board to examine andd potentially over-ride local siting decisions. Some argue that local control has been taken away. I agree.

Appointed last fall by Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen, the diverse panel of citizens on the Review Board includes farmers, producers like Larsen Acres, environmentalists, conservationists, and local government. But if you only see what the Gazette prints they would have you believe that Gov. Jim Doyle is the mastermind behind this bill and that he is somehow in cahoots with Larson Acres, in an ever subtle way.

And just for the record, the bill’s lead authors are Republican Representatives David Ward and Al Ott, and two Democratic Reps. Barbara Gronemus, and Amy Sue Vruwink, but it also had introductory assistance from Reps. Gard, Gunderson, Hahn, Towns, Weber, Powers, Pettis, Olsen, Van Roy, Loeffelholz, Ainsworth, Kestell, Suder, Hundertmark and Nass; cosponsored by Senators Schultz, Brown, M. Meyer, Harsdorf, Jauch, S. Fitzgerald, Kanavas and Zien. All Republicans except for Jauch. Obviously weighted down by Republicans, some people would still call it bi-partisan legislation.

I’m not defending anyone here and I take the environment very seriously. It must be protected at all costs. However, the water issue in Magnolia Township does not seem to have deliberate or illegal toxic dumping at its core as many cases like this have, nevertheless it most certainly appears that this story was designed to impact readers with a sense of dirty politicking. I am not the only one to notice.
JG letter excerpt:
We aren’t a political group with an agenda, and we don’t wish to take a stand on Magnolia Township politics. We do wish to take a stand on the personal character and integrity of our members, the Larsons. The article you printed was neither time sensitive nor people sensitive. -- Archie Morton Jr. and Rene Johnson, Rock County Diary Promotion Council
How does the Gazette respond to their letter? By beating them over the head on the same page with two anonymous rants that even draws Briarmoon into the picture.
Sound Off Excerpt:
On Larson Acres: The Larson’s are the Magnolia Township version of Janesville’s Andreah Briarmoon. They feel like rules and zoning ordinances adhere to everyone but themselves, and then they try to take care of it in their own means, thus alienating their neighbors. – anonymous
I say let’s build the new fairgrounds next to Larson Acres.-- anonymous
The Gazette has all the tools to control a story and watch it take fire, always making sure they appear fair and noble and never standing downwind. Until now. Without the sources of information that are readily available on the internet, it would be extremely difficult to discover their omissions and motivations. More often than not, they conveniently leave out at least half of the story, which makes it difficult for readers to come to a reasonably informed decision. Perhaps that is exactly what they want.

On a separate note: When will the Gazette stop reminding us that Waco II never happened in Janesville?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Priorities For The Common Good

With all the problems facing our country, probably none is more pressing at this time than the need to reverse the expanding debt load future generations will be faced with. Starting with the recent election in November, we must remind those taking the reins of power that the single most important thing they must do to stop the growth in borrowing is to rollback at least some of the taxcuts that have put us in this hole in the first place. Since the taxcuts became law, our national debt has grown faster in the ensuing years than at any other time in our nations history. This, despite reports of unprecedented economic growth following one of the lowest points brought about by 9-11. If we can’t create surpluses during such prosperous times as many would have us believe, when will we?

Recently the President has chosen to continue playing politics as usual with the minimum wage and hinted to the new Congress he would be willing to accept an increase providing they cut more taxes to small businesses. I certainly agree with this, except the way it is framed. To let the people know that the message sent on November 7th was received, Congress should first increase the minimum wage as a stand alone bill. No.2, they should give small businesses the necessary tax cut, correct the alternative minimum tax income to adjust for inflation in exchange for repealing the taxcut given to the wealthiest 5%. No. 3, they should make permanent the tax cuts given to the remaining 95%.

What should be the priorities of Congress?
1. Increase the minimum wage
2. Rollback the tax cut on the wealthiest 5%
3. Give a taxcut to small businesses and reform the AMT
4. Repeal subsidies given to Big Oil
5. Create a White House oversight committee
6. Require Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies
7. Create an outside panel to enforce ethics rules
Payback Time
This should be accomplished in the first 100 hours. Afterwards, they could begin on a real working plan for Iraq, followed by universal healthcare. With the termination of company pensions, buy-outs and cooked-book investment schemes, we are living in a time when Social Security will be needed now more than ever before and Congress will have a full load there also. They must make SS stronger. Let the countdown begin.