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Friday, May 30, 2008

Krupp: Big Oil Has A Friend In Paul Ryan


-- With the start of the summer season on Monday, so to begins the season of exorbitant, annual gasoline price hikes across America. And Marge Krupp, the Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin's First Congressional District, asks what her opponent has done to help district voters stave off rising prices and keep the gas prices within the limits of a working family's pocketbook. "My opponent has not taken a credible stand on the rise in fuel costs, and the predicted rise in fuel costs over the summer season," says Krupp, "because he receives thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the same oil companies making billions of dollars of profits." According to FEC filings, Ryan received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from international oil companies, like Exxon-Mobil, during his decade-long tenure in Congress.

"Paul Ryan's relative silence on this issue speaks volumes about where his focus is," proclaimed Krupp, "it is on being re-elected and not about helping working families in this district." Consumers in Southeast Wisconsin have been feeling the pinch of high gas prices in recent months, with no end in sight. At press time, the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in the Kenosha-Racine area stands at $4.09/Gallon and holds at $3.93/Gallon in Janesville. Truckers, also feeling the strain of higher costs at the pump, are dealing with $4.79 for gallon of diesel gas in Southeast Wisconsin.

Krupp also noted her opponent's vote against an increase in oil company taxes in the most recent energy bill, citing it as "a vote for those wish to make the rich richer and working families poorer."

For More Information Visit:
Krupp For Congress

View Paul Ryan Corporate (2007) Donors here.

* Ryan voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)

* Rated ZERO% by the Campaign For America's Future (CAF), indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Insiders Gain Fast Track For City Jobs

According to a Gazette report, the Janesville school superintendent proposed a new job position within the administration and before anyone could say the word “uncle,” a school board member explained she would apply for the job and quit the board if hired. I can't blame her.

Under past school boards this probably would have gone unchallenged but at least one board member, former Wisconsin state legislator Tim Cullen expressed his disappointment for the seeming parochial trap the superintendent laid for the board members. At the same time, the superintendent should be given some benefit of the doubt that he was unaware a board member would step forward for the job.

Recently, in a similar but unrelated incident at Janesville City Hall, an incumbent dropped out of the council race only to return to paid city administrative duties six months later under obviously suspicious circumstances. This is followed by yet another report that a recently retired city official will return in a permanent? part-time capacity as a paid consultant. Both of these hires coming under city manager Steve Sheiffer, who will be retiring in a few months.

The only real way to stop this from re-occurring in the future is for the Janesville School District and City Council to enact a 1-year moratorium rule on hiring officials for jobs where their former position, influence or relationship to others has given them an inside track of information to acquire the new position, qualifications notwithstanding.

Janesville City Council Taking New Direction

On another issue, the Janesville City Council approved a bartender’s license for an applicant despite an alcohol advisory committee ruling against it. The applicant had past convictions, including felony charges of drug possession, with intent to deliver. However, the applicant has served her time and proved she has turned her life around and needs this second chance to be a productive member of society. This is very different from the anti-resident zero-tolerant city councils of the recent past. They would have denied this applicant in a heartbeat. But not this time.

Council members Amy Loasching and Tom McDonald deserve high commendations for their compassionate remarks and reasons for the decision in granting the license. I also give a big thumbs up to Tim Cullen for not letting the situation at the school board go unchallenged.

Maybe…just maybe, this is the dawn of a new day in Janesville.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Janesville Park Plans Promote Sprawl

Tuesday's Janesville Gazette front-page headline story was about a private study approving of the city of Janesville's plan to continue acquiring land for park expansion.
JG Excerpt:
It recommends that the city buy property adjacent to regional and some neighborhood parks as it becomes available to provide recreational flexibility and better use of the larger parks. As part of the study, the city surveyed residents, including the members of 32 special-interest groups. Many residents suggested improvements to existing parks and new purchases, such as more riverfront land.
What this article really says is – Janesville will continue to pull fully developed (established sidewalks and utilities) inner-city properties including riverfront off the tax rolls to provide additional green space for the increase in city population expected from the new homes being built on the wide-open swaths of virgin green space ringing the fringes of the city.

So, not only are we pulling some of the most attractive properties off the tax rolls, we are adding to the annual maintenance budget. Perhaps the worst part is this plan forces any new residential or commercial development to the open space edges thereby increasing the city's carbon footprint - AND offering a TIF District on top of it all. They call this Smart Growth?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Immemorial Weekend for John McCain

Alternet Excerpt:
On Thursday, May 15, the House of Representatives made history. By an overwhelming margin, lawmakers passed the landmark new GI Bill which will make college affordable to the more than 1.6 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
So what's the big deal? Well, once again, two Wisconsin representatives, Sennsenbrenner and Ryan, have voted “no” on a bill that would provide our returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with tuition and stipends to attend the four year colleges of their choice. Bush has promised to veto this bill.

Why in the world would anyone oppose providing educational benefits for veterans of current wars? One sickening explanation was given by John McCain.
Education A Disincentive:
McCain has expressed concern the bill might lead to reduced enlistments. He favors an alternative measure that would give returning service members education payments based on years of service.
A soldier could be sent into Iraq and two days later get his arm blown off or lose a leg or an eye, if he’s lucky – and someone like McCain would say "you didn't put your time in" and deny him this benefit? Which brings me to this infamous quote about soldiers getting an education.
Stuck In Iraq:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” – Sen. John Kerry
Kerry was hung out to dry after that statement by GOPer's like McCain, another Vietnam veteran, who called on Kerry to apologize, saying: "The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq is an insult to every soldier serving in combat.”

Less than two years later McCain would deny veterans the opportunity to make the most of an education just to keep them in Iraq?

What’s so wrong when John Kerry suggests an education might help keep soldiers out of war, but so right when Bush, McCain and their rubber stamping supporters fear that an education might help keep soldiers out of war?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lake District Pursue Higher Instead Of Deeper

In Thursday’s editorial, the Janesville Gazette encouraged the RKLD to keep up the fight against the state Department of Natural Resource's powers and reasoning establishing the water level height of Lake Koshkonong. This coming after a recent ruling re-affirming the DNR’s constitutional powers as a state agency.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Resident and business owners who want more water will never be satisfied if the district abandons the fight now.
This is probably the most telling statement describing the perpetual contradiction concerning Lake Koshkonong, that adding more water will create the deeper conditions they want. They are ignoring the shallow nature and heavy gravity within their own defense, and have put their own self-serving economic benefits and interests as the driving force to over-rule the decision achieved by the DNR's fine balance between economic and environmental impact concerns.

On Thursday night, the RKLD Board voted to appeal the recent circuit court decision. No doubt, economics played just as heavy a role. Advancing to the Appellate Court will cost each parcel owner in the RKLD district only $5 and another $12.50 if the case goes to the state supreme court.

Besides the extremely low cost on their end to pursue the matter, one of the RKLD’s reasons to continue the fight is the idea that the DNR would have surely appealed the ruling, had Dillon overturned their constitutional powers. So it turns out, the lake district's argument has reached the point beyond the data, the logic or the reasoning behind their passionate pursuit. It has become a combative exercise not to justify their own cause but to defeat the other guy as well.

Sounds political to me.Cartoon? sent in by a reader.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Garin Responds To Ryan’s Roadmap

Paulette Garin – Press Release

Healthcare: Basically, Ryan is still promoting his Health Savings Account plan. His proposal segregates the high-risk, chronically ill, and those with pre-existing conditions to be subsidized by the individual states. So the burden of cost shifts, but is not diminished. You may derive some benefit from this plan provided nothing serious ever happens to you. It does not appear that his plan does anything to reign in the disproportionate influence of the insurance industry. Why would it? Take a look at his list of campaign PAC donors – BIG Pharma and the insurance industry.

Medicare: On the surface, this appears to be a “privatization” of Medicare, which we are already experiencing with Medicare Advantage. It appears to be another plan where the insurance industry will get to “cherry pick” amongst the healthiest. His proposal limits your choice of insurance providers to a pre-determined list. You really are not free to choose. Better check out which companies are on that list, what relationships they have with our congressman, and who really stands to benefit.

Social Security: Another move toward “privatization.” If this is the same type of plan that he has been advocating for years, you would be limited in your choices as to where you could invest your personal retirement funds. Once again, who stands to benefit – the investment managers on Wall Street? What relationship do they have with our congressman? Better check out his PAC contributions and personal assets. Always be suspicious of "privatization" until you carefully examine what constraints are put upon the program and who will actually gain.

Taxes: Ryan is pushing a “Taxpayer’s Choice Act,” which would basically create a two-tier flat tax system. The highest tax rate would be 25% as compared to the current 35%. While paying lower taxes appears attractive, how does the government make-up for the $840 billion revenue shortfall created by this proposal? We already have a staggering deficit, driven by defense spending, AND that does not even include the cost of the Iraq War. We have placed enough of an overwhelming financial burden on our children and grandchildren.

It’s just the same old GOP strategy to demonize taxes and attract voters when in reality the plan will most likely only benefit the wealthiest amongst us. If Ryan were truly a fiscal conservative, what has he done to balance the budget, to eliminate the government’s ‘no bid’ contracts, and to end expensive sub-contracting to private companies? Better check out his PAC donors once again.

Ryan claims government is wasteful and inefficient, yet he continues to promote layers of bureaucracy that would now get intermingled with private enterprise. My overall impression of Rep. Ryan’s plan is that it is just more GOP spin to complicate matters and mislead people into actually believing that he is working for his constituents and not for the special interest groups who are funding him.

For more information:
Paulette Garin for Congress

View corporate donors (2007) to Rep. Paul Ryan here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Krupp: Paul Ryan's Proposals Are Wrong


PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisconsin -- Later today, Congressman Paul Ryan is planning on announcing an 88 page proposal on Healthcare and Social Security, and his Democratic challenger, Marge Krupp issued a key question in regards to his plan, "Why does Paul Ryan want to hurt the senior citizens of Wisconsin?" Krupp, Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin's First Congressional District, challenged Ryan's proposal was working against the financial security of those that she wants to represent, "The seniors of this district count on a monthly Social Security check as part of their income and Paul Ryan is trying to undermine that." Ryan's plan calls for a privatization of Social Security services that some say could lead to a destabilization of the program.

Also proposed in Ryan's plan is a health insurance tax credit that would allow Americans to purchase a healthcare plan of their choice. Krupp again asked why Paul Ryan would issue such a plan, "This is the same kind of proposition that the Bush Administration has been giving the American people the past eight years, why is Paul Ryan trying to punish our working families and seniors?"

Krupp also noted that Ryan receives tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from private insurance companies and is at the will of these individuals when it comes to issues of Healthcare or Social Security.

For more information:
Communications Director
Krupp For Congress

You can hear Marge Krupp counter the claims of Paul Ryan and his faltered plan for America on Bob Bach's Morning Edition radio show from WUWM, Milwaukee Public Radio - 89.7, tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

Insider's Information A Fortunate Circumstance

Tuesday’s Janesville Gazette contained a story about a former council member’s string of fortunate events that led up to his employment as the city’s new assistant attorney. Of course, one of the things that needed to occur was the position to become vacant in the first place. In the hard copy version of the paper was this statement.
JG Excerpt:
Helen Hanau was the city’s former assistant attorney. She left the job Jan. 25.
That didn’t quite make sense considering the city was advertising for the job in October of 2007, about one month before the newly hired assistant attorney announced he will not seek another term as council member. The Gazette quickly changed that statement in their Web version to read….
JG Excerpt:
Helen Hanau was the city’s former assistant attorney. She left the job in late summer or early fall, Winzenz said.
Is that it? Did she retire? was she fired?, quit?, or was she caught breaking into the break room pop machine? Is that as good as it gets trying to find out what happened to the former city assistant attorney? The correction couldn't even place the time in the right season! Taxpayers deserve better than this.

This is what we’ve come to expect from the town's only daily paper. About half the story. By not reporting a clear and detailed story as to the circumstances surrounding the job vacancy, the Gazette plays hide-n-seek with the truth. They leave the door open for misinformation, rumors and false accusations to help dampen the hard facts. Their readers deserve better than this. But more importantly, the absence of a straight answer also appears as another stonewall job by the city administration following a recent city council meeting questioning new hires and fires during this period of major administration transition. The city manager, Steve Sheiffer, is in his final months of office.

Of course there is a lot more here to question than the Gazette’s brand of selective journalism. And I certainly don’t blame the former council member for taking the job, qualifications notwithstanding.

But, does it matter that a mid-level city employee was unceremoniously dismissed or pushed out of their job and left unreported in the news? Does it matter that soon afterwards a city council member with similar qualifications announces he would not seek re-election? Does it matter that over six months pass and no one is hired from a pool of six finalists? Does it matter that the new assistant attorney applied for the job soon after his last day serving on the city council? Does it matter that his mom is the city boss’s longtime assistant?

Uhhh.....not in Janesville.

Again, this posting is NOT an attack on individuals or beneficiaries of this series of unfortunate events. This is a criticism of the process, policies and the people who continue to betray the public trust.

I'll leave this posting on this most inspiring quote from the distinguished senator from Virginia.
Parade Magazine Excerpt:
Our challenges lie in improving the way we’ve been selecting our leaders. To the American voters, I offer this advice: Be as shrewd and ruthless in your demands on our leaders as the wizards running campaigns are in their strategies to get your vote. Do your part to send to Washington people who truly want to solve the problems of this country from the bottom up.
You won’t regret it. You will benefit from it. And the stakes could not be higher. – Sen. Jim Webb

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCampaign Crack-Ups

RNC Throws Lincoln Under A Bus

Capital Times Excerpt:
Duncan says a hard struggle lies ahead in Iraq and McCain is determined to fight through it. But he says McCain, like Lincoln did, "understands the importance of the struggle."
Seriously, wherever they find party leaders like Duncan, please democrats, stay the hell away.

But to even tie in Lincoln’s internal struggles dealing with our fragmented country during the Civil War with the hallucinatory machinations of McCain’s contradictory fortune-telling campaign sound-bites regarding Iraq is ludicrous. If anyone is in a position similar to the hard struggles of Lincoln it is President Nouri Al-Maliki of Iraq who like Lincoln is presiding over a fractured war-torn country cycling in and out of civil war. Any further similarities end there.
RNC Chairman Views:
- On the continuing battle between Obama and Clinton: "I'm so happy every day that continues. It saves me an enormous amount of money."
Spoken like a Janesville Republican. Always looking to save that buck. With his huge jump-start advantage, why hasn’t McCain chosen his running mate yet? Oh, wait. They're saving money by not feeding another mouth.

While Hillary and Obama fight, John McCain leads. That's the message of McCain's latest campaign ad. He offers a $5000 tax credit as the center-piece for health care reform.

But John McCain voted against expanding SCHIP, a program which amounted to giving a $5000 tax credit to middle-class families. But now, he says he’ll fix health care by offering a $5000 tax credit? Why the flip-flop? Did Bush veto the Democrat's SCHIP just so GOPer’s like McCain could pander the expansion to get elected? Republicans would never ever get elected without offering a tax cut somewhere.

The media farce started by Bush over his "appeasement" statement continued as McCain slammed Obama for his claim that Iran is not as serious a threat to the United States as the Soviet Union was a generation ago.
Chicago Tribune Excerpt:
Such a statement betrays the depth of Sen. Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment," McCain said in remarks to the National Restaurant Association's convention in Chicago.
Betrays? But if McCain thinks Obama's perspective of Iran is all wrong, shouldn't that statement confirm Obama's reckless judgment and inexperience - and not betray it?

But this is where Obama stands out. The "silent treatment" foreign policy of Bush and McCain towards indifferent countries like Iran not only betrays the world but it also betrays Israel.

When I first heard Bush's remarks, Barack Obama or former President Jimmy Carter did not immediately come to mind. I thought Bush was taking a swipe at the six nations participating in appeasement talks with Axis of Evil, N. Korea. As if their ingenious argument will persuade Kim Jong-Il he had been wrong all along.

I get the feeling that Obama could debate McCain and Bush together on their wrong-headed foreign policy on the same stage, anytime - and win. Go - McCain - Go! Ra - ra -ra!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Two Congressmen Share The Wrong Track

For many here it came as a surprise that Wisconsin House members rejected the farm subsidy bill on a 5-3 vote. The three who voted for the farm bill were Democrats David Obey, Tammy Baldwin and Steve Kagen. While the other two Democrats, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind voted against it. They were joined by Republicans Paul Ryan, Tom Petri and Jim Sensenbrenner. Ryan, offered these reasons for his opposition.
New York Times: July 26, 2007
When farm prosperity is as good as it is right now, this is the time to reform,” said Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and a member of the dissident group. “If we can’t reform these farm programs at this moment in our history, we will never be able to do it.”
Followed by this more recent comment. May 14, 2008
"The farm bill should be focused on providing a safety net for family farmers in times of need, yet Congress has instead opted to subsidize the wealthy at a time when food prices are surging," he said. "Our agricultural policies are in desperate need of common sense reform and this bill fails to deliver." -- Rep. Paul Ryan
Sure, if there's one thing I hate, it's welfare for the wealthy, and voting against farm subsidies based on this perception, however inaccurate, is difficult to argue with until we look back at Ryan's vote on Big Oil subsidies in January of 2007. At that time all of Wisconsin's House democrats and one lone Republican, Petri, decided Big Oil no longer needed taxpayer hand-outs and voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies.

This of course leaves us with Sensenbrenner and Ryan as the only two Wisconsin Congressmen who share the common distinction of voting against Wisconsin farmers all the while voting for Big Oil subsidies. Why the double standard based on the recipient's wealth? Only they can answer that contradiction. Perhaps their perception of Big Oil's wealth wasn't windfall enough to deny the hand-outs.

Meanwhile, the Janesville Gazette title Politically popular farm bill gets election year boost followed in their old form and belittled the bi-partisan farm aid bill as nothing more than an election year gimmick. But when it came time to rollback federal subsidies padding windfall profits, Ryan and Sensenbrenner said NO. Hopefully that’ll give them the election year kick they deserve.Click Image For Poll Article

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Good News On Two Water Fronts

It is nice to know that the maverick state of Wisconsin has finally joined with the rest of the Great Lake states in a water compact designed to protect our most valuable resource from exploitation. Wisconsin's implementing bill of the Compact establishes Great Lakes sustainability, inventory control and conservation planning as the key to it’s passage. Yet the final compromise involved winning over those conservative Republicans as noted by the Political Environment - statewide, the water conservation planning will be voluntary instead of mandatory.

But for obvious reasons, I believe this compact will not hold firm against outside special interests or federal powers during a real water emergency. Nevertheless, a Compact is a good step forward to establish a common ground of understanding. Something the litigating parties in the Lake Koshkonong water level dispute should think about considering with each other.

Rock River Watershed Saved From long-term Damage

I'm also extremely grateful that Rock County Judge Daniel Dillon upheld the earlier decision of Administrative Law Judge William Coleman regarding the DNR authority establishing the lake's water level.
JG Excerpt Residents Divided:
It seems to me if you own property on the water, and the water’s no longer there, doesn’t that affect your property?” he asked.
But this remark seemed out of place coming from the judge during oral arguments, particularly after reading his thoughtful and comprehensive 50 point judicial review.

Technically, residents don't own property on the water. Their deeds are for land ownership only. Waterfront owners do hold some rights and restrictions, but the water is owned by the people of the State of Wisconsin, not just the few hundred that ring the impoundment. I'm not saying this to be snarky but the DNR has jurisdiction over the water held in administration rights granted by the state legislature. To my understanding of Judge Dillon's ruling, this is what he re-affirmed. He did not rule in favor of or against the litigating parties.

I'm not a huge fan of the DNR but I also happen to think that the water level is too generous as it is, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the reasonableness of the DNR's water level ruling and it's ability to withstand argument. It's legally durable.

But as long as the RKLD leaders listen to those who think that the court has given deference (other than to the DNR) to one party over the other, they will probably continue the fight. And that's a shame.

And as long as they keep thinking their water level argument is to not give ground to the other, that this is about pitting two sides against one other, the lake loses. Precious time and money is wasted just so somebody's tender ego avoids a bruise.
JG Excerpt Opposing Sides
“We know that the minute we lay down, the next step will be for the wetlands owners to call for a summer drawdown.”
With that poor attitude, their grandchildren will be fighting the same fight fifty years from now.

After reading Judge Dillon's ruling, any reasonable person should surmise that the DNR's water level determination and powers are just as durable against any special interest, including the wetland's party.

The best thing all the parties could do is accept the water level ruling and leave it in the dust behind them. Drop the legal offensives on water levels and drawdowns and seek common ground. Create a compact to improve the total lake environment and water quality. Dredging the lake and creating islands, a la Dubai, sounds extremely promising as does breakwalls for the wetland areas. The Dillon ruling should be the end of all battles and a new beginning for open compromise. Stop thinking this is about Lake Koshkonong waterfront property owners and start thinking about the entire Rock River Watershed AND your grandchildren.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Watch Your Backs With Young Guns

After reading the first report about a social-conservative democrat winning a House seat in a GOP stronghold in Mississippi, I skipped a beat before it all began to sink in and couldn't help but look for more perspective on this story.
Chicago Tribune Excerpt:
It happened again Tuesday, as Travis Childers (D) beat Greg Davis in a special election to replace Republican Roger Wicker, who served in the House since 1994 and was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat vacated by Trent Lott.
This is huge!
Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned for Davis the day before the special election, and Davis ran ads trying to tie Childers to Barack Obama,
This is DOUBLE HUGE! A Bush/Cheney rubber stamp running ads linking his democratic challenger to Barack Obama is DEFEATED? In Trent Lott’s district!!

But even in reports such as these, the MSM writes up the story not as a celebration of good news for a democratic change sweeping the country, but as a correction alarm for those who have been largely responsible for the mess we are in now.

Despite the trends, democrats can’t take anything for granted and must be prepared to defend their seats and fully support democratic challengers in districts that traditionally have been safe havens for the GOP. But voters should also take issue with some honorable democrats who have been crossing aisles to sponsor legislation with certain congressional GOP partisans. We have to let our democratic representatives and senators know that they shouldn't allow republicans opportunities to grandstand bi-partisanship efforts all the while they're stabbing democrats in the back.

Take our own Rep.Paul Ryan for instance. Here, he is at the center of a new group of partisans called Young Guns, a program that will raise money and provide strategic advice to recruit a breed of GOP congressmen that might be capable of leading their party back into the majority on Capitol Hill. THAT is their goal. They have basically taken on the role of the RNC while representing our interests in Congress. Their first target might be Rep. Steve Kagen of Appleton or who knows? Perhaps Rep. Ron Kind. Nothing is sacred, no democrat is exempt.

Democrats must be prepared to fight the long hard slog against Republican incumbents who are mislabeled as conservatives, even if they try to distance themselves from partisanship or Bush policies.

I have to hand it to them choosing a name like "Young Guns"...... for GOP wartime politicians who are young enough to serve in Iraq, but old skool enough to know better.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Krupp Calls For More U.S. Help in Myanmar

Krupp For Congress Press Release

The world wants to see the United States lead again, it is now
time for the United States to act and to provide that leadership.

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisconsin -- With a reported death toll of more than 34,000 and as many as 100,000 suspected to have perished as a result of Saturday's deadly cyclone, Marge Krupp is calling on more pressure from the U.S. government to allow relief workers to enter the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar. Myanmar's military regime has barred large-scale relief efforts, and at press, the United Nations is reporting that less than a quarter of the nation's affected are having their issues met. Without proper attention from experts trained in responding to natural disasters of this kind, the death toll is expected to climb rapidly.

Krupp, Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin's First Congressional District criticized the sluggish relief response by the U.S., "The lessons learned from the tragically slow response to Hurricane Katrina in our own nation should be applied to what could amount to a regional refugee crisis in Southeast Asia." Krupp also called on more pressure to be applied by Washington on Myanmar's military dictatorship, "The time to act is now."

Joint communication and aid in the form of relief workers and supplies between the U.S. and Myanmar could avert the possibility of more deaths and a flood of refugees to surrounding nations.

Marge Krupp is a highly qualified Democratic candidate for Congress who will fight to end the war in Iraq, strongly support working families and work hard to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous world. For more information, please visit her web site at Krupp for Congress.

Note: Rock Netroots Commentary is NOT affiliated with any campaigns for Congress, but will eagerly post information on all 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin democratic candidates as it becomes available.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wrong Way Ryan Votes Do Nothing

If you have been paying attention to the weekly voting tally on critical issues of local politicians representing us in Washington, you probably noticed Rep. Paul Ryan has voted time after time against the interests of working class people.

Homeowner Tax Breaks
Roll Call Votes:
Voting 322 for and 94 against, the House on May 8 adopted an amendment to HR 3221 that authorizes $7,500 tax credits for first-time home purchases and allows taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to treat up to $700 of their 2008 property taxes as a federal tax deduction.
Ryan voted against this bill and HR 3221, another bill offering FHA backing to mortgage lenders willing to rework up to 500,000 loans now headed for default. The $700 state property tax deduction on Federal income taxes was particularly telling of his unwillingness to alleviate some of the property tax burden for first-time home buyers.

Worker Protection
On another front no less important, Ryan voted against requiring OSHA regulations for controlling dust hazards in the workplace. HR 5522 would override weaker state rules that do less to prevent EXPLOSIONS! When Ryan voted "no" to this bill, he voted "Yes" to increased danger for workers.

Medicaid Safety Net Act
In a Thomas Rollcall published in the Janesville Gazette on April 28th, it was also obvious that when Ryan voted “NO” on H.R. 5613, he voted to leave it up to the state to either replace the federal funds with new state taxes OR terminate health care services to the poor. His “NO” vote meant “YES” on raising state’s income taxes by $13 billion over the next five years. That figures out to $2.6 billion a year divided among 50 states and considering Wisconsin is usually in the middle of pack, if Ryan had his way he would have increased our state tax burden by another $52 million a year. This is just one in a long, long line of “faux” fiscal conservatively driven domestic spending cuts inseminating higher local taxes.

Like Ryan, Bush has threatened to vote “NO” and veto the legislation. However the bill has 75 more votes than would be required to override a presidential veto.

Come November, 1st Congressional District voters in Wisconsin need to stand up and end this wrong track charade once and for all.

Democrat Wins In GOP Stronghold
May 13, 2008 (JACKSON, Miss.)— Democrat Travis Childers wins a U.S. House seat in Mississippi's deeply Republican 1st Congressional District.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New AT&T Cabinets Represent Lower Cable Rates?

Saturday’s Janesville Gazette contained a front-page article titled "Improving Infrastructure: AT&T placing new utility cabinets." The article ignored all the details of the legislation that empowered AT&T to enter into Janesville’s video market in the first place. Those cabinets represent that legislation. The title also indirectly implied that the introduction of the large ground mounted and exposed utility cabinets is merely a necessary upgrade of a previously existing technology. As all too often, the paper presented roughly half the story.

The Video Competition Act was legislation heavily lobbied by AT&T to smother local control over video providers under the guise of improved service and cheaper TV rates for consumers. This legislation was hyped by TV4US as the vehicle to create an open environment of competition between video services providers. Those cabinets represent the passage of the "Video Competition Act." Wisconsin consumers they insist, will finally have the chance to enjoy lower prices. Anywhere from 15% to 41% lower. Those cabinets supposedly also represent those lower rates.

So, the battle is over. AT&T won. TV4US now lists 17 video service providers signed up to compete for our TV-watching dollars. The city of Janesville is currently wired by Charter Cable and now is being measured and dressed for AT&T’s U-verse system.

The TV4US Website also has a nifty link still showing cable rate increases in Wisconsin. Say goodbye to that, right? I'm looking forward to TV4US presenting the new map reflecting the decline in our cable rates. I'm counting on the savings.

The big discussion surrounding At&T’s foray into Janesville should be about the future of community access channels (PEG) but instead is centered around the aesthetics and placement of those fiber-optic conversion cabinets. So, with competition being at the core of all of this activity, I have not heard the question: Can other communications companies also use these cabinets to supply digital services to their customers? And if not, will our city council plan for the future and take into account that another video provider might have to install their own cabinets in order to compete with this technology? Possibly side-by-side. Two, three or four cabinets? Perhaps up to seventeen? After all, wasn’t the legislation that greased the way for AT&T called the Video “Competition” Act? What Real Video Competition Could Look Like

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rip Rap

Why is it every time I see the TV commercial for, I think of

Why artificially inflated crude prices are good.
Speculators are often blamed for artificially inflating crude prices, but some experts say high prices are needed to cut demand and develop new resources.
If you've been reading Rock netroots for some time, this is what I have been saying all along. Except the "experts" in this article are half right, it's not the price of crude that was manipulated to exert conservation, but the price of gasoline. The tail has been wagging this dog for some time now and finally some experts “get it.” But they're still at least three years behind the curve. Prices of gasoline have been manually adjusted to increase the supply by limiting the demand. It has been priced to force some level of conservation on consumers to guarantee no physical shortages at the pump. This I believe was the rule for the domestic side of the "secret" Energy Task Force plan created by Dick Cheney soon after taking office in 2001.

But I also now believe this has all changed since June of 2007 as new pressures from OPEC have recently developed outside of the Energy Task Force's control. Gasoline prices are no longer artificially inflated by the task force to keep demand flat with refinery production. The U.S. gasoline price threshold has been reached. Instead, oil speculators have been doing this for them since. Obviously, the loss of price control from within the Bush Administration is not welcome.Here it is possible OPEC has decided to apply tit-for-tat economic pressure on the globe by slowly closing the spigot to coerce the U.S. military withdrawal from their lands. They have been doing this in the face of George W. Bush since the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner flew in May of 2003. Despite an over-supply, Bush nearly begged OPEC recently to increase production only to be rebuffed. Their tone with America has changed dramatically since then. And why not? Our government does it all the time.
Clinton, Obama Stealing Voters Attention

After bashing Democrats for weeks because we don’t have our presidential nominee chosen just yet, Faux news channel commentators are now worried that because Hillary and Obama STOLE the national spotlight, McCain is losing ground.

This coming after bragging how Republicans have a huge jump start advantage over democrats because they have their nominee so early in the game. McCain should expand his advantage and pick his running mate now - don't stall. Just too, too funny. Gotta love it!
Which presidential candidate was ranked 894 out of 899 students in high school?

You know what? I have to give McCain credit for his achievements. I don't know of many others who have gone as far as he has while being so ..... He's a U.S. Senator and should remain a U.S. senator. Look what we had with a 'C' average for the last seven years.
Teachers Overpaid In Low Wage Communities?
Teachers Give Job prospects an “F”:
"Teacher pay is so low it's ridiculous," said Ron Clark, a teaching expert and author, who began his teaching career in rural North Carolina 15 years ago. Clark suggested an annual salary of $100,000…….

Friday, May 09, 2008

Janesville Adjusting To Wal-Mart Effect

After reading the latest articles about the rising tension between union officials and Woodmans, I still don’t understand why workers would petition for union decertification. In many ways this thing sounds like someone has a personal problem, but beyond that, it doesn’t make any sense.

The real question to ask is: What will stop Woodmans from dropping wages and benefits when the union is gone? The same thing that stops Wal-Mart. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Is it a fair comparison? Sure it is, unless Woodman’s operates outside of conventional business practices OR you don’t believe competition is playing a role here.

And don’t believe the union busters who say competition will force Woodmans to pay higher wages. It’s a completely phony argument. Competition to sell more goods, increase sales and profits overrides all others and will force Woodman to pay less and less for products and employees against an adversary such as Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, Woodmans or GM are not in the worker business, unless you haven’t noticed, they’re selling something else. If they can earn more profits by paying less with fewer employees they would. It’s fundamental.

Many in Janesville have predicted that competition from the double-headed Wal-Mart/ Sam’s Club development would have an effect on nearby and long established grocery stores and mom and pop businesses. The latest episode with Woodmans seems to emanate from more and more evidence that its ownership is behind the drive to expel union representation. Together, this could be just the beginning of the clashing fronts evolving into the perfect storm for Janesville’s economy.
JG Excerpt:
For that, Bandemer lays the blame on the family’s patriarch, Phil Woodman, and his “union-busting interloper.” The pair is working hard to rid the Woodman’s stores in Janesville, Beloit and Madison of union representation, Bandemer and others said Thursday at a rally in Janesville.
In the heavily promoted global economy, perhaps American labor unions have it all wrong. Maybe they should be recruiting and representing workers who want to work harder, put in more hours and earn even less without retirement pensions, safety regulations or health benefits. Only then it seems would they get some support from the community and grow in this Wal-martized economy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Paper Disputes Letter Writer’s Views Of Free Trade

Wednesday’s Janesville Gazette contained a letter from a resident describing certain aspects of a Bush-brokered FTA with Korea and it’s adverse impact potential on the Janesville GM factory. The letter, as most letters are limited to 250 words, was an easy to understand perspective showing the possible effects in real dollars, and although it did not call out Rep. Paul Ryan by name, the writer concluded with an open and fair question to readers.
JG Letter Excerpt:
This is a typical FTA. The United States is always the loser. By the way, do you know how your U.S. Representative votes on FTA’s?
Although the vast majority of letters to the Gazette are usually left uncontested unless some serious or obvious mistakes were made with comprehension, clarity or lack of disclosure, the Gazette editorial staff would not let this resident’s perspective stand on it’s own. This particular letter came with a rebuttal attached in the form of an Editor’s note.
Editor’s Note:
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s office informs us that under the proposal, U.S. trucks would get duty-free access to the Korean market and that the top-selling Korean “truck” in the United States, the Hyundai Santa Fe, is assembled in Montgomery, Ala., and thus not subject to the current tariff. The proposal likely won’t be considered in this session of Congress. A spokesman says Ryan has concerns with aspects of the agreement, especially it’s impact on the auto industry.
The editor’s note was a poor attempt to dispute the writer's points using what amounted to be opinion from Ryan’s office. Ryan’s understanding of the consequences of FTA’s could also be called into question and are no more or less credible than your’s or mine. The Gazette's apparent defense of the Korean-FTA while injecting Ryan’s concern into the picture appeared to be just another opportunity for them to do Ryan’s bidding....again.

As a Congressman, Ryan should be demonstrating his constituency's position on FTA's with votes that represent his district's views, not his own. After all, who is he working for?

Besides, Ryan thinks the recent Janesville job losses were due solely to the lack of an energy policy. Oddly, and the above article link was written by Ryan, a supposed Conservatives Conservative, there was no suggestion from him that energy reform should include conservation – at all. It becomes obvious Ryan’s suggestions for the nation’s energy policy could have very well been written by Big Oil. The first three of Ryan's five steps to a sustainable energy policy are geared to increase consumption! The Gazette of course seems to tow the same line.

See how Paul Ryan votes on FTA’s here.
More Opinion: Ryan Out of Touch.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Newspaper Off Kool-Aid For a Day

After reading the Gazette’s thumbs up/down editorial on Monday, I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself. I then threw a bucket of water out my window to see if it would flow up or splash down. I looked into the sky with binoculars to see if any pigs were flying. To my dismay, everything seemed…. normal. Still puzzled, I had to read this excerpt….again. I couldn’t believe it.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Two area Republicans, Sen. Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn and Rep. Brett Davis of Oregon, scored poorly in a new ranking by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign related to legislation that would help put state government back in control of ordinary citizens rather than special interests.
If you happen to be surfing the Web and stumble in here, you won’t know or care anything about this, but this was startling news.
I can’t recall EVER when our town's daily newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, called out by name two of their three most beloved local politicians, both Republicans, and gave them a thumbs down AND mentioned the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign without a lefty connotation attached, all in the same sentence. I had to catch my breathe. But it got even better.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
In contrast, three Democrats, Sen. Judy Robson of Beloit and Rep. Mike Sheridan of Janesville and Chuck Benedict of Beloit, scored much higher.
What the…#?! scold Republicans while simultaneously writing up Dems without disparaging remarks just doesn’t happen. Not in this newspaper.

Unbelievable! Informing the reader with this additional information all in the same draft is unheard of around here. This has to be the very first time in the new millennium this particular newspaper fairly editorialized about Democrats without tying in a political gimme somewhere.

However, I’m certainly not convinced the paper has shed their partisan ways with one little fair and balanced perspective. Instead, they could have presented this brief commentary as a positive thumbs up for the democrats. But I'll take what I can get here. This is a gift horse. Nevertheless, this must have been very difficult if not painful for them. It reminded me of a baby’s first steps, so I have to give them a smidgen of credit on this one. What will we do with this information overload?

But it wouldn’t come as a surprise if they prove me all wrong tomorrow.

Monday, May 05, 2008

When Phony Non-Partisans Come Home - Part 2

One month has passed since the residents of Janesville elected three new city council members and unfortunately for me, a bad taste still continues to linger on. A recent anonymous comment here got my wheels turning again and pointed me back to the earlier primary election articles published by the Gazette reporting that one of the top vote getters in the primary, KellyO, had a police record.
JG Excerpt:
Convicted of disorderly conduct in 1999 after an incident at the Dart Inn. -- Convicted of disorderly conduct in 1996 after a confrontation with her ex-boyfriend in Traxler Park. -- Convicted of battery in 1994 after a fight with a woman in Beloit.
This article was published on March 6th, just a couple of weeks after KellyO collected huge primary vote numbers as reported in this February 20th newspaper article.

At least two points should be considered here. One: After debating well and gaining heavy voter support, it turns out two popular candidates, KevinB and KellyO, literally fell out of the sky. In the grand scheme of who's who inside Janesville politics, they were virtually unknowns, at least to the Janesville Gazette.
Two: After the newspaper received some public criticism about the criminal report article, the Gazette claimed they investigated KellyO only after receiving a tip about her background from a reader, and to be fair and balanced, they proceeded to check public open records of all the remaining candidates. The Gazette later published that the others apparently were “clean.” Fair enough.

Soon afterwards, another resident tipped off the paper in a letter about his concerns of political partisanship entering the city council election, a valid concern. The writer claimed KevinB, one of the top three vote getters in the primary, had ties to union labor and the Democratic party and that full disclosure was necessary. So be it.

Some residents in Janesville want supporters to disclose their associations, but not the candidates to disclose their associations. Very bizarre. Personally I believe all candidates should disclose their guiding political principles and philosophy including association with any politically active groups. This is a huge step forward in Janesville elections. Disclosing their community volunteerism, church attendance or education may work for some, but it doesn't cut it for me.

But something strange happened after this one. Instead of publishing the results of an inquiry of all the candidates ties or membership to local quasi-political groups, like the KellyO investigation, they chose to target KevinB alone. After thoroughly dismantling election chances for KellyO to stand on her own appeal, the Gazette proceeded to throw KevinB and his openly public supporters under a bus. At no time after the watershed article “When politics comes home” or during their endorsement editorial of council candidates did the Gazette claim to investigate or question the other five candidates as they claimed to have done with the tip they received previously about KellyO’s record. Of course after the lopsided negative publicity targeting KevinB and KellyO, the two favored primary candidates failed to make the final cut.

Instead, the people blindly elected three candidates without any record disclosing their connections to quasi-political groups published in the Janesville Gazette. For reasons of their own, the Gazette deliberately failed to inform their readers.

Afterwards, during the three weeks following the April election, the Gazette brazenly integrated the political views and opinion commentary from members of the political action group Forward Janesville in a variety of articles and editorials dealing with important city government issues. No connection?

Although it's too late for the election, residents should request that the three newly elected council members disclose all their community memberships to the Gazette, and demand the Gazette to publish the information. Not because an open democracy demands it, but because a “fair and balanced” newspaper neglected to.

I missed this aspect of the newspaper hit job at the time primarily because I wanted to keep blogging support to a minimum for my council picks as an experiment of sorts. Never again.

I also want to thank Anonymous 8:39PM from April 30th with the "skate right in" comment for helping me connect the dots.

Note: As a courtesy to the two candidates in this posting, abbreviated names were used to avoid search engine robots.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Rip Rap

Headlines: Gas Cheaper for First Time in Weeks

Time Excerpt:
The national average price of a gallon of regular gas fell 0.1 cent overnight to $3.622, according to a survey of gas stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. That's the first time since April 14 that retail prices have fallen. Diesel prices fell 0.2 cent to a national average of $4.249 a gallon.
Does anyone know what 1/10th of ONE PENNY looks like? Okay, if you buy 10 gallons, instead of it costing $36.23, it’s $36.22 and you’ll save a whole penny. Better hurry and fill it up before they change their minds.

McCain's Tax Cut A Boon To Big Oil Interests
GOP tax cut electioneering:
The McCain campaign, in a conference call after the speech, said the lost revenue would be paid for by money from the general fund, and that staffers were currently drafting a bill.
We have a General Fund? - I mean, with money in it? The best part was when McCain said "special interests" are against the gasoline tax cut.
I was extremely disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not offer an alternative to McCain's pandering. Someone should advise her she doesn't need to match McCain to beat him, she’s smarter than that.

Quote of the Month
"I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic?
How many years did Cheney serve?" -- Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Link

Richest country on the planet cannot afford cheap gasoline? Somewhere in that statement – is a lie.
In many oil producing nations gas is absurdly cheap. In Venezuela it's 12 cents a gallon. In Saudi Arabia it's 45. The governments there forego the money from selling that oil on the open market - instead using the money to make their people happy and encourage their nations' development.
This is the first time I can recall where a mainstream writer's journalistic slant was in favor of Venezuela's government.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Radical Tax Policies Threaten To Divide Nation Further

The Sunday edition (April 27th) of the Janesville Messenger contained their bi-annual tax ritual editorial titled,"Tax policy threatens to divide nation."
JM Editorial Excerpt:
According to a study conducted by Stephen Moore, a senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal, the top 10 percent of wage earners in the country now pay 68 percent of federal income taxes. The bottom 50 pay just 3 percent.
Oh, boo-hoo-hoo.

When the top 300,000 Americans collectively rake in income equivalent to the bottom 150 million Americans, something is wrong and it has nothing to do with taxes.

But to be fair, the Messenger editorial is about tax policy, and in simple terms we are taxed not as an individual but by the income we earn determined by sliding-scale brackets for the best and fairest of reasons. For instance, if the country produced $5 trillion in annual cash flows and you alone collected 2.5 trillion of it - you are in a bracket that collected 50% of all revenue, you would be required to pay 50% of the goverment's operating costs. It may be 20% percent of 2.5 trillion dollars or it might be 80% percent, whatever the government requires. Granted, I'm looking at supply side only, but this isn't rocket science.

A flat tax is an income-blind tax that would raise the cost of living tremendously to anyone earning less than $200,000.

The Fair Tax or flat tax recently promoted by some GOP presidential candidates including Mike Huckabee actually involves a prebate to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level. Is that what poor Americans really want? ....another entitlement? Contrary to what rich people think, the masses don't want a hand-out. They WANT to pay their fair share in taxes providing they're paid their fair share in wages. If you think there is a great divide between the rich and the poor now, you ain’t seen nothing till you see what a flat tax, a two-tier two-America's tax rate or sales only tax would do. Any of them would be devastating.

Drop the phony moniker and implications of the "Fair Tax" plan and endorse the implied simplicity of a Fair Wage doctrine designed to not only pay everyone a living wage, but a taxable one as well.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Written by Rev. Howard Bess

This past Sunday evening I listened to the entire speech that was given by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Detroit before a gathering of 12,000 members of the NAACP. The speech was brilliantly conceived, masterfully delivered and wildly cheered by the audience to which he was speaking.

Most people who watched and listened had little understanding of what was being said. Welcome to Black theology. Black theology is a particular application of liberation theology. And what is liberation theology?

The roots of modern liberation theology are found in Central and South America. In its inception, liberation theology was firmly rooted in the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic priests and bishops took note that the post-World War II prosperity in Europe and in the United States did not translate into prosperity for the poor of Central and South America. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer.

They took note that Jesus was poor and identified with the poor of his day. Jesus had found himself in an intense struggle with the wealthy and the powerful. Those with wealth and power killed him. A considerable body of Central and South American Catholic writers began identifying themselves with the Jesus who spoke out for the poor.

Peruvian Catholic Priest Gustavo Gutterrez gave the movement intellectual integrity when he published “A Theology of Liberation” in 1972. It was the definitive volume on liberation theology.

At first the Vatican was supportive of the movement. Pope John XXIII and Vatican II were seedbeds of encouragement. However, since the mid-1970s the Catholic hierarchy has become increasingly negative about the movement. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has been especially condemning of liberation theology. The Vatican silenced Gutterrez.

By the time Pope Benedict XVI visited Brazil in 2007, The New York Times estimated that there were at least one million Bible study groups in Brazil with an orientation to liberation theology.

Educator/sociologist Paul Freire was born into a middle class family in Brazil. His family lost everything in the great depression of the 1930s. Freire identified with the poor and never forsook them when he became a successful academic. His book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” published in 1973, is a classic in the liberation movement.

According to Freire the biggest problem with the poor is their “culture of silence.” After suffering poverty and oppression over a long period of time, poor people accept their fate in silence. The greatest challenge of any oppressed people is to break that silence.

Liberation theology in Central and South America, led by people like Freire and Gutterrez, broke down the control gates. They broke people out of their chains of silence. Things will never be the same in the South American hemisphere. Just as liberation theology comes out of the experience of the poor and oppressed in Central and South America, black theology flows out of black experience in America. It is an ugly history. First slavery, then segregation, then educational and economic discrimination.

The amazing part of the black story is the “culture of silence” that developed over the centuries. This is exactly the same “culture of silence” that Paulo Freire found among the poor in Brazil. People like Freire and Gutterrez broke the silence of the oppressed in our south hemisphere. Who will break the culture of silence for our oppressed black neighbors? Black movie stars, black writers, black musicians, black academics, and black athletes are making a contribution. However, the key is the black preacher. Martin Luther King Jr. was the prototype. Americans are almost totally ignorant about what is going on in American black churches and the leadership being given by very capable black preachers.

Jeremiah Wright is not a lonely voice. He is a part of a huge chorus of intelligent, educated, talented black preachers who understand how badly African Americans have been treated by their European American neighbors.

What is going on is much bigger than the 2008 presidential election. Wright is correct when he says that the attacks on him are really attacks on the black religious community. All Americans need to be listening.

And then there is feminist theology, gay theology and Hispanic theology. Straight, European American male dominated leadership is looking at rough times.

The Rev. Howard Bess is pastor of Church of the Covenant, an American Baptist church in Palmer. His email address is