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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Surrender To Big Oil And Shut Up

Borrowed from the Philadelphia Enquirer, Wednesday’s Janesville Gazette Editorial titled, ”Congress ducks harder choices on gas prices” was one of those rants attempting to prove that Democrats are no different than Republicans and just as helpless when it comes to doing something about the high price of gasoline. But if that were true, then why oppose democrats efforts and waste ink accusing them of grandstanding?

JG Editorial Excerpt:
“The American people can no longer afford the Republican rubber-stamp Congress and its failure to stand up to Republican Big Oil and gas company cronies,” House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said at the time. She said the Republicans had given the public “empty rhetoric rather than join democrats who are working to lower gas prices.
And that’s just it. Pelosi accused the Republicans of empty rhetoric, in other words, they made no attempt to enact legislation to hold Big Oil accountable. And to the contrary, that’s all the democrats are trying to do now, hold Big Oil accountable. Some way – some how. And you know what? The same people who claim democrats are ducking the issue now are the same people who rip Gov. Doyle for trying to tax oil profits, they are the same people who blast Rep. Judy Robson for standing up for people over profits, and they are the same people who accuse democrats of grandstanding because unlike the republicans, the democrats have held hearings on alternative fuels, climate change and hydrogen research.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
A year later, Democrats control Congress, Pelosi is Speaker, and gas prices are at a record nationwide average. Some analysts predict gasoline will hit $4 per gallon this summer in many parts of the country. Should we presume that Democrats are now in cahoots with Big Oil? No. Democrats can’t control prices now, just as Republicans weren’t responsible for rising gas prices a year ago.
This is classic. Again, the problem here is Republicans were accused of doing nothing at all and still do nothing about profits gouged out from record high prices. In fact, Bush and his beloved republicans call the record profits a sure sign of success and a direct result of the “free markets.” I have yet to hear that from those "same as republican" democrats.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Though oil companies may not be gouging, they make enough to forego governmental charity. The House did vote this year to rollback $14 billion in subsidies to oil companies but couldn’t agree on a version that might get past President Bush’s veto pen.
It might not get past Bush’s veto pen? Shouldn’t ANY version of cutting off $14 billion to profit-gouging Big Oil be better than none at all?

After ripping Democrats about doing nothing about gasoline prices, then ripping them again for trying to do something, the writer(s) of this article then slams renewables including ethanol and bio-fuel as potentially poor alternatives to gasoline. It's a can’t fail if you don’t try mentality and a sure sign that the Republicans answer to high gasoline prices is to surrender to the manipulated markets of Big Oil.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
It should levy a higher tax to discourage consumption and raise desperately needed revenue to repair crumbling highways and boost mass transit.
At the closing of this piece of work, the writer implies that paying the high gasoline prices to Big Oil now (assuming prices fall) is better than the government taking that extra revenue in the form of taxes to discourage consumption and repair our crumbling roads, mass transit systems or worse yet, pay back the money borrowed from Social Security. God forbid if that were to happen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Janesville Council Finally Walking The Walk

I was surprised to see so many people turn out against sidewalks in their own front yard. Where were all these people last year when the Janesville City Council gave away $2.7 million to build a water tower utility to service the special terrain and elevations of a privately funded residential development? The water tower funding was an issue unlike the sidewalk ordinance, where people could have made a difference by speaking out. One way or another, we have all paid for our own water utility and the sidewalk laying in front of our home.
JG Excerpt:
The city will borrow about $569,000 to pay for sidewalks, which will mostly be assessed to property owners at no more than $30 a foot. Of the 7.6 miles, developers already have paid for 2.6 miles. The city sent notices to 280 residents. The average assessment was $2,580, and the resident can pay in installments.
Just to put this in perspective, the $2.7 million water tower hand-out would've bought 17 miles of sidewalks at $30 a foot.

I can’t imagine the chaos if the council turned around and said everybody will pitch in to pay for the remaining sidewalks, including those who already paid in full for the existing walks in front of their house. Crazy idea, right? But that is exactly what they did regarding the water tower and no one said a word. The existing residents who have already paid for and into the infrastructure and maintenance of the Janesville Water Utility will be charged $2.7 million more simply because a deep pocketed developer wants to make more money building some homes. Like sidewalks, a specialized utility like a water tower should have been a special assessment. At least with the sidewalks though, unlike the water tower, we can walk all over them if we so desire.

Oddly enough, many reasons given in opposition to the sidewalks were actually testaments in favor of them. But the council is finally doing something right on the sidewalks by standing firm and it can’t be said any clearer than this quote from Councilmen Williams. “Just to let you know, if you live in the city, sooner or later you’re going to have sidewalks,” he said.

Aa - oh, I can see it now. Those special folks who were never part of the city fabric to begin with certainly don’t want to be part of one now. There goes the neighborhood.

Corporatism Infecting Wisconsin Democrats

As a fundamental democrat, I am troubled that Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Joe Wineke has registered as a lobbyist for corporate giant AT & T. and only he can answer why he chose to do this. Apparently he doesn't care about his own reputation and risks nullifying all the good hard work he has done for state democrats. But by continuing in this position he now risks hurting the party. Although he became a AT & T lobbyist late in the game, I would certainly like to see him withdraw from either the party chairmanship or the lobbyist position as soon as possible.

One of the things political bloggers expect that you won’t find in mainstream news and editorials is consistency. I have voiced my displeasure for our own State Rep. Mike Sheridan’s corporate ties with GM. Good government and corporation just don’t mix and although newspapers pick and choose their political endorsements based on party politics, other times endorsements and support are based strictly on their own bottom line. I believe people like Sheridan and Wineke have done well in their respective governmental capacities, but would do even better for our state and the democratic party without those corporate ties.

I am also beginning to wonder where fellow democrat’s heads are who voice their support for these corporate hybrids. What are they thinking?

Regarding their respective issues, I am rigidly pro-organized labor of which Sheridan represents but against the Video Competition Act lobbied by Wineke. But that really doesn’t matter when it comes to good government, as far as I’m concerned, they both should sh_t or get off the pot OR switch to the party where corporatism is not only welcome, it is the main qualifier for entry.

If the Video Competition Act prevails - Republicans win, and if Wineke remains a corporate lobbyist while chairing the Wisconsin Democratic Party - Republicans win.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Protest Gasoline Prices How-To

I for one salute the gas station owner shutting down his business for 24 hours in Mequon,Wisconsin in order to protest the high gasoline prices. His courage and willingness to forfeit a day of earnings is a rare occurrence in today’s atmosphere of cut-throat competition and where dissent of the status quo is viewed as a negative attitude. His one-man protest is something I can certainly relate to, but I have to agree with some of those who didn’t think it would make much difference.
JG Excerpt:
IMPACT: Industry experts say the move, which Pollack estimates will cost him $1,500, won't make a long-term difference. Pollack says he doesn't disagree, but he hopes the protest will prompt others across the nation to speak out as well.

The least I can do is speak out, so I thought what would really make a long-term difference?

Well for starters, don't boycott Big Oil. That will only lower prices by a nickel or a dime for the short term. Instead, consumers should organize and boycott everybody else. By everybody else I mean all the big box stores, restaurants, hotels, boutique shops, theaters, amusement parks and shopping malls. All the brick and mortar institutions. As far as gasoline is concerned? Buy as much as you keep in your tank, in fact top off constantly. You’ll need gasoline to drive to work and visit family and friends. Anywhere other than your job or the grocery store to sustain yourself are off limits to drive to. Only shop for frivolous consumer goods at places you can walk or bicycle to. What will this accomplish? It will force all the businesses other than Big Oil to send their lobbyists into Washington, DC to put real pressure on Congress to finally put real pressure on Big Oil in order to get their customers back at the stores.

Obviously, Big Oil is not going to lobby Congress for lower gasoline prices and for the most part, politicians work for and listen to corporate business interests more than anyone else. In a way some people pinched by the high prices are already doing this on their own but it needs to catch fire with the kind of enthusiasm that would finally force the issue.

Believe me, the businesses effected by this will send their lobbyists into Congress before they consider laying off employees or shutting down their business.

There is no other way to let Congress know that despite an oil glut, Big Oil has not been able to keep the country supplied with a steady flow of gasoline, and have been gouging huge profits because of doing an extremely poor job - extremely well.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Democrats Losing Battles - Republicans Losing War

Several weeks ago, in what was falsely publicized as a bipartisan effort in Wisconsin, Democratic officeholders fought to have the Bush administration extend SeniorCare for three years, and failed.

They crafted a troop funding bill that included timelines and benchmarks to help bring an end to the carnage in Iraq. They say it was bi-partisan, but Wisconsin Dems Feingold and Kohl added a provision to save seniorCare at the last minute. Unfortunately the bi-partisan effort ended there when Wisconsin Republicans including Paul Ryan voted against this bill and Bush also kept his promise and vetoed it. So what does the Democratic Congress do?

They had to do what I was saying all along, that the war in Iraq will not end until the Republicans say so. Now, the democrats turn in a war funding bill that Bush and his republicans wanted all along without timelines, which was bad enough but for some reason and only they know why, Wisconsin Dems insert the SeniorCare provision again.
Bill Passes without Timeline:
In a highly unusual maneuver, House Democratic leaders crafted a procedure that allowed their rank and file to oppose money for the war then step aside so Republicans could provide the bulk of votes needed to send it to the Senate for final approval.
Knowing the Republicans would vote to keep Bush’s bloody quagmire funded without timelines, why Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., would re-insert the extension in the war spending bill this time around is truly baffling. Also, when the bill was first vetoed by Bush weeks ago, the names of those voting against the SeniorCare timeline war spending bill got zero print here in Wisconsin. Word was the democrats were playing politics.

But now that the bill is passed, everyone hears who voted against the spending bill. On the national scene, Clinton and Obama get dragged over hot coals by the liberal? press and the local politicians who fought for SeniorCare but voted against the bill also get plenty of print.

BDN Excerpt:
- Among Wisconsin's House members, the bill was supported by Republican Reps. Thomas Petri, Paul Ryan and James Sensenbrenner and Democratic Reps. Steve Kagen and Ron Kind. It was opposed by Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Gwendolynne Moore and David Obey.

- In the Senate, Kohl voted for the bill but Feingold voted against it. Feingold wanted the bill to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, but it was not included.
Most of people who worked hard on saving SeniorCare, writing the provision and slipping it into war spending bill – VOTED AGAINST IT! While nearly all the Republicans who opposed SeniorCare in the earlier war drafts get the credit for saving it.

Some democrats have offered the idea that votes were bought for domestic spending like SeniorCare by giving the republicans the war funding without timelines. It is possible after all, state Republicans never proposed saving SeniorCare in the House or Senate. Chances are high, if left up to the republicans SeniorCare would have died.

SeniorCare was saved by the Democrats, they worked on the plan, they wrote the provision and only they slipped it into the spending bill. My question is why would democrats put SeniorCare into a controversial bill they would eventually vote against knowing the bill would pass with partisan votes from the very same people who wanted to kill the program in the first place? Bush is holding the entire country hostage, but the Wisconsin democrats just handed the credit for saving SeniorCare over to the people who simply don’t deserve it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Proof Bin Laden Dead

In a recent AP article reporting on a speech made by President Bush, he continues to trump up the threat from Bin Laden and old plans from 2005 to join with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq through communications with known al-Qaida operatives Hamza Rabia and Abu Fajah al-Libi.

Back on September 23rd of last year, I surmised from a collection of various international reports that Bin Laden was dead and Bush was knowingly using Bin Laden threats out of context with time and language. Now Bush has a new warning, unfortunately it sounds like the old warning.
Boston News Excerpt:
Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said the information was declassified because the intelligence community has tracked all leads from the information, and that the players were either dead or in U.S. custody.
Do we just assume Bin laden is included as one of the players? The President and his staff know enough about bin Laden, his operatives and his plans to use the possibility that he is alive as proof not of failure for his war on terror, but as a warning that bin Laden plans more terror strikes in the U.S. as the main reason to occupy Iraq. Knowing he is DEAD.

May 30th al-Qaeda warning........not bin Laden.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When .12 Means Zero Tolerance

After being ticketed two hours earlier and failing the preliminary breath test (.12), a Brodhead man was killed when he was ejected from his tumbling vehicle on County K in Plymouth Township.
JG Excerpt:
Stacy had acknowledged to DeWitt that he had been drinking, and his preliminary breath test, or PBT, administered by another Janesville officer at the initial traffic stop, indicated a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.12. Wisconsin's legal threshold for intoxication is 0.08.
With a reasonable cause to pull over this driver in the first place, making the decision to administer this test and then failing it should have raised the status of this traffic stop.
JG Excerpt:
"Despite not having clues to arrest Mr. Stacy, Officer DeWitt felt uncomfortable with Mr. Stacy continuing to drive with that PBT reading," Davis said.
Not having clues? He received two tickets - one for unreasonable speed (90+ mph in a 25 zone) and another for driving left of center (on a cell phone) – we’re talking about a possible head-on collision here. And a preliminary .12 alcohol level?
JG Excerpt:
While bad driving and a PBT over the limit could constitute a ticket, they generally are not enough probable cause in themselves for an OWI arrest, Groelle said.
For a town (Janesville) whose leaders preach zero tolerance when it comes to building codes, nuisance laws and other seemingly minor infractions, not arresting this drunk driver seemed unconscionable. Anyone can make a mistake, but when it comes to drunk drivers, anything higher than .08 alcohol level is the time to practice zero tolerance.

I cringe when I hear about ordinances that are enforced only at the discretion of authorities. Why have the equipment to administer a test for blood/alcohol levels? Why use mathimatical percentages and other scientific data for judgment when discretion is available?

Anybody familiar with Wisconsin drunk driving laws knows they are far too lenient, fines are too low and repeat offenders are too repetitious. And this case is just another good reason to handcuff drunk drivers to a street pole till they’re sober. What a sad, sad story.

The 800 lb. Al Gore-rilla

It’s way too early to begin speculating on who the next president will be. I do like nearly all the democratic candidates, particularly Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich and Richardson but not necessarily in that order. Of course the real heavyweight in my book is the no longer stiff and uptight Al Gore. The increasingly hard hitting yet lovable former vice-president has the experience, has already been swift-boated and ridiculed (double-jeopardy?) and still has NOT ruled out running for president. Recent polls show him at 17% as a non-candidate! If he throws his hat in the ring, he will most likely double his popularity to 34% the very next day without saying another word.
Gore: I’m Not A candidate, but…: fearlessly honest about President Bush in his new book, "The Assault on Reason," in which he claims that "the current White House has engaged in an unprecedented and sustained campaign of mass deception."

I watched the Nightline interview and he clearly left some wiggle room for the possibility of running in 2008. "Look, we're a year and half away from this election," Gore said, "[I] see no need to say, 'OK. I'm not ever going to even think about that in the future.'" The longer he waits, the less time Bush and his republicans party candidates will have to heal their self-inflicted wounds. So I don’t blame him for waiting for the right circumstances, but he’s got to make the decision by September to have an impact in the early caucuses.

Plus I really believe America is the kind of country that would want to return to him what we now know was rudely taken away from him – the presidency. I hope he runs.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Unfortunately Bush Still Relevant

White House Critical Of Criticism:
Carter was quoted Saturday as saying "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."
Even the White House tried to distance themselves from the failed Bush presidency by downgrading Carters criticism of the administration into a personal attack. And in doing so, was able to save their own skin by defending Bush against the “fabricated” personal attack.
"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded Sunday from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend.
Aaaaah, not so fast Fratto - you're included too as part of the administration's complete and utter failure.

Carter, said he doesn't "claim to have any relevancy" on the Iraq issue, though he sends reports to the president on his activities around the world. Actually, Carter’s criticism was mild and not about the office of the presidency or the country.

Think Progress

Why Risk Failure By Trying?

As I read about yet another privately owned semi-pro team’s difficulties of finding a home field stadium somewhere in Rock County, I wondered if the football team Gladiators have spoken with the Beloit Snappers. Now it appears there are at least two teams willing to help fill the stadium of dreams touted by several wealthy county residents. Which brings me to my point here.

The Rock County Gladiators, a new semipro football team approached the Janesville School District about using the districts premier high school stadium for a few games. The district is being careful about the request and understandably has liability concerns.

But whether it was the new four-court gyms of the Janesville School Referendum or the newly renovated Janesville City Hall kitchen complete with LCD TV, one of hot selling points brought up to convince the taxpayers to open their wallets is the idea that these facilities can be used by the public for various events and community activities. Now, I’m not for turning public-use facilities over to profit motivated private entities without getting a piece of the pie. But I wonder where the city attorney was with all of their liability insurance contingencies when pro-referendum salesmen insisted school facilities can double-duty as a center for other community activity.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
When the district was justifying its $70 million referendum to upgrade and expand the high schools, officials suggested improvements could lead to more community uses.
If everyone needs the same insurance coverage to use a public facility the schools requested from the Gladiators, its easy to say the community can use the facilities but only providing certain conditions are met first including:
-- obtain at least $10 million in liability coverage, naming the school or city as one of those insured.
-- agree to reimburse the city for any "financial consequences of injuries to persons or property."
-- The city obtain additional property insurance to cover damage to the structure, with the user paying for the coverage, costing about $500.
-- contract for security services and staff - no volunteers-according to any police or school district requirement.
-- The city would be able to cancel with two hours' notice, and the user would be responsible for finding an alternative site.
-- The user would pay for the cost of cleaning the facilities, and the city could hire a private service for that purpose.
-- The city could cancel the agreement with five days' notice.
-- The user pay the city’s usual commercial rate for use of the structure, and would be responsible for any additional costs of using the structure.

Considering we live in such a lawsuit crazy society, I agree with all of the school's demands, but where was all this rhetoric about liability during the referendum run-up? The next time someone helps justify spending $70 million with the double-duty public usage talking point, I'll ask them to guarantee the liability insurance among other things. I'm afraid we haven't heard the last about the tactics employed to pass the Janesville School Referendum yet. People are winning awards for pulling off this sham.

These protections are necessary and are just another reason why the county’s decision to scrap the land swap deal was a very smart decision under tremendous pressure. The county’s responsibilities to protect the taxpayers are no different than the school district’s - that's the reality. On one hand I admit we will accomplish nothing if we have to worry about every single thing that might go wrong, but I have to ask – Where are those deep-pocketed venture capitalists entrepreneurs and risk-takers when you really need them? Perhaps the risk really is too great.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Simple - Vote Democrat and Defeat Republicans

Tribune Excerpt:
Giuliani accused Clinton in Tuesday’s Republican debate and again yesterday of being hostile to tax cuts and free markets — fighting words to the center-hugging Democrat — but her campaign did not take the bait.
Bait? Abortion, gay marriage and gun rights are bait. It is a little early for this debate but I’d love to take Guiliani up on that.

Democrats have to know that the tax cuts Guiliani is referring to is the current shift of Republican sponsored tax increases from the Fed to the local level in every state in the union. Why don’t they call them on it? Simply, the Republican supported Bush tax cuts to the rich ARE TAX INCREASES at every local level in the country, everything from property taxes to sales taxes to tolls and including the banter about a flat tax. Any Republican mentioning the Bush tax cuts should be asked, “Why is nearly every state in the union looking for revenue and increasing taxes? AND how can you expect all people to pay the same percentage of tax regardless of their income? Why should a group collecting over 75% of all the income pay less than 75% of all taxes due? AND what is a Republicans definition of the “free markets?” Since we still have some environmental regulations and labor protections and unions in many industries, the very things republicans set out to destroy, certainly America can't fit their definition of the “free markets.” So who does? Countries like Mexico and China are at the top of the Republican sponsored corporate greed free markets right now.

I plainly do not get it - "it" being the endless, brutish, ignorant tirades against Hillary or ANY Democratic front-runner, especially coming from some my fellow Democrats.

I also don't get the idea that if a Democrat or a liberal happens to be wealthy, well they are hypocrites. They can't possibly work to empower the poor and reach out to the working masses and be wealthy at the same time. B.S. The Democratic platform is about prosperity for all - nothing less.

I can certainly understand some thinking that the Dems have sold out too, that they are complicit with the corporate power brokers controlling Congress. But for some reason the Republicans don’t have this problem – their goal is to win, corporate connections and all.

It’s just so obvious: Elect a Democrat and defeat the Republicans.
It's a simple concept, with no hidden meanings, messages or agendas.
Elect a Democrat and defeat the Republicans.
As a blogger with the world as my audience, I’m asking every Democrat to vote for the Democratic front-runner in 2008, whomever it might be.

Then, with the Republicans defeated, everyone can resume their business. Would life then be perfect?
Absolutely not, but the Republicans and their plans to destroy public schools, Social Security and shift tax increases from the Fed to the locals would be defeated, and that is what counts.
I just do not get it. Maybe it’s just me and I'm dreaming too much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GOP Letter Writers Spamming Again

JG Letter Excerpt:
Ryan again steps up to help constituents
In southeastern Wisconsin, we have an amazing young representative who's anything but partisan. He's obviously a Republican because of his desire for personal responsibility, less government, reduced taxes, strong defense and sound money management at the federal level. -- letter writer
First he’s not partisan but then he’s obviously a republican because of yadda, yadda, yadda. Pole-eese. Ryan IS one of the most dependable GOP rubber stampers in Congress AND thinks he can tax cut us into a surplus. Get a grip on yourself.
JG Letter Excerpt:
Democrats misrepresenting efforts to rebuild Iraq
Democrats have misrepresented reconstruction efforts in Iraq as a "civil war" to divert attention from the utter failure of Democratic social programs, which have left many U.S. cities more dangerous than Iraq. -–letter writer
Since Bush sent 28,000 more construction workers into Iraq, we should have plenty of National Guardsmen available here to attend to our national emergencies and social programs that have left America more dangerous than Iraq. Too funny.
JG Letter Excerpt:
Ryan earns praise for SeniorCare effort
Paul continues to work extremely hard for the people of Wisconsin. I wish our Democratic representation in Madison would exhibit the same concern for the people of Wisconsin that Paul does. --letter writer
At first I thought this was a joke letter or one of those failures at sarcasm…....but its not. This Ryan supporter really believes!! When his supporters are Fox News and Gazette-fed GOP dead-enders willing to defend him with this kind of dribble, you know Ryan will be tough to beat in 2008.

Marge Krupp and other Ryan challengers better start making notes - NOW!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Liberal Bloggers Holding Reality Accountable

For the past several months the twice-weekly Janesville Messenger ran editorial pages that would make the average right-wing blogger jealous with envy. Sunday’s edition was no different than the rest when they printed another article by the Heritage Foundation titled They’re Keeping Democrats Accountable.

Apparently, a couple of congressional staffers are fed up with the “liberal bias” of reality and have vowed to make things right by telling the untold truth about Congress, but only the democratic members. They’ve called their Website “Majority Accountability Project” (MAP) and intend to emulate left-wing blogs by supposedly punishing the other side, in their case the Democrats who happen to be in the “majority.” I don’t know what they would call their propaganda project if the Republicans became the majority again, possibly the “Minority Accountability Report” since the two guys starting this are rabid right-wingers.
Keeping Democrats Accountable Excerpt:
But to keep their Web site humming with a steady supply of information, the duo realize they must have access to the same information available to the Capitol Hill press corp. Thus, Brady and Giuliani intend to apply for congressional press credentials -- a notoriously difficult process for anyone who falls outside the traditional definition of a reporter.
This is the fundamental difference between what these guys want to do and what citizen-run left-wing bloggers like myself do. Why liberal bloggers have done so well has nothing to do with reporting stories and news as much as sifting through the garbage that most of the right-wing mainstream media produces and discovering a different truth, a more consistent truth to base reality on. For liberal bloggers, reality has worked quite well.

If MAP, acting as investigative journalists will report “scoops” and news stories with a right-wing slant (in their view the media establishment is liberal), they will be veering away from the “liberal” reality. What they are trying to do is as old as the hills and instead of disproving Republican corruption (in their view the stories are fabricated or over-reported) they will be attempting to justify and validate Republican action by digging up stories on democrats that are unreported or under-reported.
Keeping Democrats Accountable Excerpt:
While the Majority Accountability Project is only in its infancy, the Web site holds great potential as a pioneer in the online world. While most liberals will probably hate it, and some conservatives will complain about its support for Republicans, its model is one that others could emulate.
Nothing like slapping yourself on the back for what thousands of other political media bloggers have been doing for years on the Web. Liberals won’t hate this site, its not in our vocabulary to hate, but we will get a good hearty laugh if the hypocrisy and faux news is as consistent as expected.

Police Vacancy Changes Service In Neighborhood

Sunday’s Janesville Gazette contained an editorial titled "Police Chief Is On Target With Change" that upon first glance appeared to be just a harmless exercise in support of the decision by the city’s police chief to cut a neighborhood liaison police officer from the Fourth Ward district. But after reading it, I was more confused than ever.
JG Excerpt:
But Police Chief Mahan’s explanation makes sense. His plan involves eliminating Sullivan’s position – originally designed as a temporary post – to restore a seventh detective.
Since the Gazette didn't mention why the vacancy existed in the first place, they probably should have left it at that but instead preferred to send their readers “in circles.”
JG Excerpt:
But Sullivan had been promoted to specialist and would be leaving the Fourth Ward anyhow.
Ok – so replace him.
JG Excerpt:
Mahan’s decision doesn’t come during budget negotiations.
Ok – so replace him.
JG Excerpt:
Furthermore, Mahan wants all his officers to serve community policing roles.
Having all the beat officers take a turn working as a community liaison officer is the way to go. It will give them valuable experience and the social skills often necessary to become better officers, so replace Sullivan now – and replace his replacement with a different officer six to twelve months from now. Great idea Chief Mahan! But….
JG Excerpt:
And the school district doesn’t share Sullivan’s salary.
Hey, wait a minute! This isn’t about fiscal cavalry – or is it?
JG Excerpt:
“I’ve got detectives with a considerable workload, and we’re asking very detailed and thorough investigations from them. So it’s really just that I’m doing an assessment of the workload and making an adjustment." -- Chief Mahan
Fair enough. But why go through all the other talk about filling a vacant position, a promotion, and suggesting a revolving community team? Why not just cut to the chase. But.....
JG Excerpt:
"In my perspective, it's a mistake to only set up certain officers as being community policing officers, -- Chief Mahan
Sounds good, but...
JG Excerpt:
Mahan believes regular patrol officers can develop a good rapport with young and old, as well. To facilitate this, he keeps officers assigned regularly to neighborhoods.
Ok – you lost me there but the Gazette believes it makes sense. And that is where I’ll leave it.

It appears Officer Sullivan has had a tremendous impact in the Fourth Ward which is great news but, it appears what comfort, confidence and connections Sullivan brings to the table is needed in other areas of the city – which may not be good news after all.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

April Jury Found Ziegler Not Guilty

The second most confusing and depressing time for me as a fundamental voting American happened when Annette Ziegler was elected to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. The worst time I’ve had in the past ten years as far as my faith in the wisdom of the American public is concerned was when George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. That one stands out as the runaway leader in my “Dumb As A Rock” Award.

So I feel even more perplexed when local mainstream media commentators write that Ziegler doesn’t deserve her seat in the court because she is unethical, doesn’t get it or …..
JG Excerpt:
She is lying or incompetent. – Stan Milam
Now I completely agree with Stan but where was he on this issue the month before the election? He may have spoken out against Ziegler on his radio show or in his column before the election, but for some reason I couldn’t find any references on the Web and even if he did, it couldn’t have been too memorable. I just don’t recall what his position was before now.

But Stan’s opinion now is right on the button except for one big overruling force – that the biggest jury pool in the state of Wisconsin knew of these allegations, her depth of complicity and conflict of interest and said – we don’t care. A majority of 58% voted for her and her checkered past instead of the honest and professional Linda Clifford. Besides, these were not high crimes, they were minor procedural mistakes that should have only guaranteed her an election loss, but the people have spoken. Ziegler was above the law back then and she still is now, 58% said so and that’s good enough for me and it should be good enough for the Ethics Board and fellow Supreme Court Justices. It may not be smart, but that’s democracy in all its glory for good or bad.

My opinion before the election.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Reform The Budget - Not The Pen

As a resident, or the kind of cashless lobbyist most state officials ignore, the taxpaying citizen, I applaud Sen. Fred Risser’s opposition to Veto Pen Reform at this time. Past Republican-led state legislatures have been creating Frankenstein budgets for years, forcing the governors hand requiring extensive surgery just to make it float. Sen. Risser is stopping ill-timed reform to weaken the veto power governors have held since 1935. Over 70 years have passed since and the one legislator serving Wisconsin for over 50 years, Risser, is finally accused of partisanship from none other than a partisan newspaper. My question is - what took so long?

The new state legislature must find within themselves the ability to communicate a balanced and equitable budget, not just to the governor, but to voters in their districts as well. They need to start telling their constituents what cuts and other sacrifices they must make to help curb state spending or increase taxes in their name – not the governors. When they can develop at least two consecutive budgets that have the ability to stand on their own, then perhaps the senate should resurrect some veto power reform.

The Governor will no longer need the surgical tools to save the monster, if the legislature no longer sends him a patient.

If Governor Doyle did NOT have this veto power, public schools would have had to get by with $400 million LESS over the past two years. Since this is the same budget Republicans/Conservatives have pointed to as Exhibit A for evidence of the governor's excessive veto power, one can only assume they want to destroy public education in Wisconsin.

The fair and balanced partisan Wisconsin State Journal came out of the closet with their political activism and for the past 35 days began using their ink as a bully pulpit to attack Risser’s position on the veto pen. The paper also publishes a cartoon of Frankenstein with a running tally of days on his forehead and now has a “secret” Plan B if it goes on for much longer.
JG Excerpt:
Delay On Veto Draws Newspaper’s Wrath
Milfred said the editorials would continue until Risser acted. But he said the newspaper also has a secret "Plan B" if Risser holds out too long.
I have to admit, there's nothing like the Fourth Estate just coming out and being honest about their intentions, that they have other things on their "agenda" other than reporting the news.
Veto Reform is hardly a household issue in Wisconsin and the WSJ would like to change that. But there are much larger and important issues under the sun, and I urge Sen. Risser to consider those first - like impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Proposed Federal HealthCare Plan State-Based

The Janesville Gazette editorial staff is on a tear lately with bi-partisanship. I can’t remember when was the last time they opined on non-partisan issues without blasting democrats and liberals for their extreme views. So I was hesitant to comment on their editorial supporting not deriding a Feingold plan.

There does seem to be a trend happening with some right-wing supporters, news media and republican politicians lately. With the Bush Administration circling the drain, their supporters appear ready to jump ship from the hardcore partisanship practiced and preached by the Republican party, at least in appearance anyways. This all could be just an aberration.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Gazette threw cautionary support towards Russ Feingold. Both times, Feingold sponsored legislation with politicians the Gazette would lovingly refer to as conservatives, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Lindsay Graham. This time Feingold is resurrecting an old health-care idea of his and if I recall correctly, the Gazette half-heartedly supported his idea last year but also reminded readers back then of his low power ranking in the Senate. That was when the Republicans held the majority, now Feingold is ranked 35th in the Senate and this time around the Gazette makes no mention of it.

On a related note, its worth mentioning here that Rep.Tami Baldwin is now ranked 160th in the House, while Paul Ryan with his prestigious role on the appropriations committee is ranked lower at 187. Ahhh, so much for power rankings.

One of the keywords repeated often throughout the editorial is the idea that Feingolds plan is a state program.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Their State-Based Health Care Reform Act would launch five-year pilot programs in several states to cover the uninsured in the best way they fit. States could use Health Savings Accounts, single-payer systems, expand current programs or create new approaches. States would get great flexibility and need to meet only basic standards. States would provide some matching money and limited financial protections for low-income people, meet a baseline of coverage and expand coverage within the five-year period. States also would be expected to improve efficiency of health care spending and reduce administrative costs.
For the sake of supporting Feingold on this issue, I’m not going to argue about the Gazette’s view of Feingold’s healthcare plan. Let’s just hope that if it’s passed, it fares better than the last cost-effective and efficient state-based health related program Conservatives de-federalized, you know – Seniorcare.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Let The Sun Shine On Truth

Sometimes it is hard to tell from the language in an article whether it is genuinely designed to inform readers about an important public policy issue or instead to influence readers and sway public opinion.
Sun Shine On Sham Issue Ads:
In Wisconsin, sham issue ads have been exploding for a decade. Local advocates who monitor media buying and news reporting in Wisconsin estimate that, in 2006, contributions from special interests or advocacy groups allied with both major political parties financed approximately $15 million worth of sham issue ads.
Why just target ads allied with major political parties? In the mainstream media, both in newsprint and on newscasts we are bombarded with pro-source issue ads masquerading as public service information and news reports every single day with barely a hint of disclosure.

Did you ever turn on a half-hour local newscast, say Channel 3, and somewhere in the middle of the program they have a 7 or 8 minute consumer bit on Weber outdoor grills or the latest prescription drug? Its not a commercial, it doesn’t mention the competition, it is acted out by the news anchor with possibly a guest, nowhere is there a disclaimer, BUT IT IS presented as the news and within the news.

The same thing happens flipping the pages of your favorite newspaper. Some articles, primarily with a business focus, are a patchwork of existing information readily found on the subjects Webpage only to be repeated over and over again like a commercial. And without any investigative reporting or opposing viewpoint that’s just how it appears – like a sham ad masquerading as a news article.

Our local newscast and newspapers are not alone, nearly everybody is doing this. But if that’s the way it’s going to be, paying subscribers are at least owed a simple disclosure or disclaimer with each sham ad. Political and commercial news reports particularly but, single issue pro-source articles as well.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lines Needed To Import/Export Electricity

In Monday’s Gazette at the bottom of the front page of the local section was a small info-article about the application from the American Transmission Company (ATC) to build a 35 mile 345-kilovolt transmission line. After reading this article and several others like it over the past six months, one common word linked them all together to paint a specific impression.
JG Excerpt:
ATC intends the lines to increase the amount of power Wisconsin is able to import from Illinois as well as improve grid stability in the state. March 7, 2007
This has been the in-stock line repeated over and over again in nearly all the reports and articles regarding the sales pitch to gain permission to build the Rockdale-Paddock power-line. Its always about taking care of our needs here in Wisconsin. Its always about importing power.
JG Excerpt:
ATC Timeline - The line will allow Wisconsin to import electricity from Illinois.
Not once have I read these lines have import/export capability. Not once have I read that these lines will be used to export power to Illinois.
JG Excerpt:
It will allow Wisconsin to access Illinois power on the days it’s generated more cheaply there.
What about the days Wisconsin power is generated more cheaply?

Why the ATC would want this impression is rather obvious, but would the media ever have the wherewithal to initiate an inquiry and ask the tough questions? Never mind that these info-articles are presented like neutral news reports when in fact they are pro-source commercials.
Wisconsin has the 3rd lowest electric rates in the nation according to recent Edison Electric Institute comparisons.
And that survey was taken in 2005. Illinois deregulated as of January 1st and the average bill for electricity went up another 20%. Yet, the steady drumbeat here is that the power lines are needed for Wisconsin consumers when most likely the powerlines will open up a new customer market willing to pay more for electricity, not less. OK, you see where I’m going here and I don’t have a problem with exporting electricity despite the fact that Wisconsin power is mostly coal generated. My point here is why aren’t they upfront about this when explaining their reasons?
Grant County Business:
According to the Typical Bills and Average Rates Report by Edison Electric Institute released in the Summer of 2006, Wisconsin has the lowest average electric rates when compared to Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. Wisconsin electric costs averages 28% to 44% less than Commonwealth Edison, when compared on a kilowatt and kilowatts per hour consumption basis. This includes electrical demand from 150kW to 1,000kW.
The Grant business report is from the summer of 2006, again Illinois rates went up 20% since that report.
Retail Wheeling:
One option that has become the lightening rod of the current debate is that of "retail wheeling." Under this approach retail customers secure their own electricity and use the lines of the local utility for transport. Retail wheeling is best seen as "generation bypass" of local utilities.
Whether it is retail or wholesale bypass might not matter to the average consumer, but most of us I would imagine know the difference between importing and exporting. Apparently these transmission lines are not unidirectional and they can be used to import/export power. Why is it never mentioned in their info-commercials?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Not Even Dog Food

I remember a time not too long ago when the weekly Farm & Fleet sales booklet would have these nifty little “made in the U.S.A” symbols next to at least 50% of the goods. Over the years that percentage had been dwindling down to a point where about two years ago, the only thing remaining in the sales booklet that still had those USA symbols was for the most part – dog food. At that time, while blogging on a pro-union Webpage I used that observation in one of my “support America” rants by saying that “the only thing still made in America is dog food.”

Sometime last year I paged through the F & F sales flyer and for the very first time, I couldn’t find one of those USA symbols anywhere, not even on dog food. So when I first heard about the pet food contamination and its link to China, the coincidence was all too obvious to me. Now, I’m only using the F & F sales flyer as an everyday example most people in Wisconsin can relate to when seeking out American made goods. This is not a slap at Farm & Fleet, they like everybody else, have to compete in a twisted business environment and in my view at least have been one of the last big retailers to succumb to Walmartization.
“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”
Its amazing that places having the non-regulated labor and environmental conditions American capitalists crave, are also the same places with the most working poor and poisoned environments. This is what we have to look forward to with an idiot's definition of the “free markets” and we need to go back to school to compete with them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Republicans Announce SeniorCare Demise

On April 19th, the Janesville Gazette ran a story about Gov. Doyle and state democrats attempts to pull the Republican knife out of the back of Wisconsin seniors regarding SeniorCare.
JG Excerpt:
Doyle and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., met with Leavitt in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss the program's future. "The secretary made clear to us he was considering the extension very positively," Doyle said in a conference call. The governor said he expected to know within the next couple of weeks whether the six-month extension will be granted.
After nearly three weeks, Bush finalized the slow death of SeniorCare when he vetoed the troop funding bill on Wednesday. Included in the bill was a provision to continue funding Wisconsin’s popular prescription program to the end of 2009. The provision, written and sponsored by democrats Feingold and Kohl received no support from Rep. Paul Ryan or Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, just to set the record straight.

Governor Doyle wanted to get a three year extension.

The knife, deeply embedded by the hands of the Republican-led Congress who authored and voted for Medicare Part D is expected to deal the final death blow at the end of the year instead of June 30. Largely responsible for the Medicare Part D program, Ryan and Sensenbrenner said its too early to know how closely their Part D prescription plan will mirror the deceased SeniorCare program next year.

In a bizarre piece written by the AP, Saturday’s Janesville Gazette shamelessly posted this well-crafted RNC-style article titled, “SeniorCare Gets Slim Reprieve” as front-page headlines replete with a picture of Rep. Paul Ryan., and played up the grandstanding Republicans as temporary saviors of the state run program, the very same program they intend to kill. After the Republicans announcement to cut off the federal funds, this article rambled on with the notion that a federal agency is there to “help” state representatives craft a new plan that can work in conjunction with Medicare Part D. What’s very obvious in the AP article also is that Republicans are already gearing up to shift the blame to state democrats with announcements that the state, overburdened in high taxes can afford to save SeniorCare by paying for all its costs without federal revenue.
JG Excerpt:
Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the state should preserve SeniorCare by paying for all its costs.
This ploy by the Republicans is just one of many, many highly deceptive political games designed to increase local taxes or cut programs for no other reason than to replace the very same federal funding they legislated to cut-off.
JG Excerpt:
“There’s no reason that we can’t fully fund SeniorCare in this budget.” Fitzgerald said.
But, if the state can so easily afford to fund Seniorcare, why can’t the Fed? The fact is, Fitzgerald hails from the same party that is responsible for cutting off the federal funding of another state program and is deeply complicit in the republican platform’s drive to cut federal taxes and expenditures at the expense of higher and higher local taxes. This is repeated again and again in each and every state, in each and every program at the behest of the Republican Party.

I would expect that at the end of 2007, the Gazette will run a front page headline titled “Governor Announces End Of SeniorCare” with a picture of Jim Doyle near the sub-title of “State Budget Excludes Popular Program.” This in effect would complete the SeniorCare/RNC propaganda cycle designed to take credit away from those who deserve it, and place the blame with those who don't.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oil Is Cheap - Its The Barrels That Are Priceless

THE NUMBER ONE REASON why gasoline prices are high and expected to get higher is because RAISING THE PRICE IS THE ONLY WAY BIG OIL CAN DISCOURAGE DEMAND AND ARTIFICIALLY BOOST SUPPLY HIGH ENOUGH TO AVOID REAL TIME SHORTAGES AT THE PUMP ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Expect record profits. That this is happening without terror attacks, oil pipeline explosions and hurricanes only means that the profits posted this year will probably be a world record AGAIN.

Big Oil experts and economists have no scapegoats to blame it on this time. So for once we are at least hearing half the truth about the insufficient number of refineries which in effect keep production on a tightrope, as I have been saying for the past year. The price of gasoline is high, but not because BIG OIL has to pay more for distribution costs, raw product, infrastructure or manpower. But this time around, I don’t think prices will plummet in Rock County to $2.19 a gallon by Oct. 20th like it did last year because THIS YEAR IS NOT AN ELECTION YEAR.
Post Election Gasoline Prices:
VP Dick Cheney held secret meetings years ago with Big Oil in the White House and it can be safe to assume that Big Oil has been given free rein to do whatever it takes to ensure a steady supply of gasoline at the pump. If you have to raise prices to accomplish some level of control over consumption, then by all means, do it. The Bush Administration could care less about high prices, that's “free market” in their view, just don’t repeat the energy crisis the nation experienced in the 70’s with widespread shortages, long lines and rationing. It would doom his presidency. But we'll never know for sure because, the meetings were "secret."
INSTEAD OF platform drilling off the coasts or violating the sacred wilderness of Alaska, we should petition the U.S. Government to build at least four new refineries with taxpayer money to process the current glut of oil that privately held refineries can’t or won’t. Certainly the refining business is profitable as witnessed by Big Oil’s $10 billion quarterly profits and besides, if Big Oil can’t supply the country with enough gasoline, they leave no choice but to have the U.S. government intervene to guarantee a sufficient supply.

By the way, Congress will be allowing for more oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, but will this bring the cost of gasoline down? Ahh – no. Will it at least help us to become more oil independent? Ahh - no. The bottom line on this resource give-away is profits – nothing else. Arabs have the cheapest oil in the world no matter what anyone says.

DUE TO logistics, good percentages of Alaskan oil are being sold for a higher premium to countries like Japan and China. The Alaskan oil is then indirectly replaced by purchasing cheaper Arab oil to be used in the states. The more Alaskan oil pumped, the more dependent we become on the Arab oil needed to replace it, while greedy oil companies pocket the difference. But the Bush administration will swear that we need to open protected wildlife areas to wean ourselves off of terror sponsored oil. They have even defended the sale of Alaska Oil as a way to decrease our trade deficit with Japan. Their excuses to exploit our resources for the sake of America in the name of profits never ends.

WATCH FOR Republicans/Conservatives to once again blame gasoline taxes for the high price and demand for the taxes to be rescinded. In reality, this slightly lower price would work temporarily against Big Oil's objective to dampen demand thus forcing Big Oil to boost the price to the taxed value, but instead of the state collecting much needed revenue, Oil profits grow even larger.