December 31, 2008
Now what, Pat?
Now that Governor Blagojevich has appointed Roland Burris to fill Obama's Senate seat, is that it Fitz, or do you have some tape of the former Attorney General arranging for the purchase? Hard to believe, but the Democrats, with lots of help from the U.S. Attorney, look more and more like a Saturday Night Live skit. No role for Tina Fey, but somewhere in America there is a head of hair to match the governor. Let the fun begin.
Who, in this moment of hope for the new president, could have imagined a worse way to end 2008?
December 30, 2008
Joe Bidden predicted that the Obama-Biden team would face a major test shortly after taking office. Wouldn't you know it would be Israel challenging the new team?
I was amazed yesterday to hear a talk show host on WGN ask, "What the hell is going on over there?" She went on to say the Israeli bombing in Gaza is "like using an atomic bomb to kill a fly."
Never thought I'd hear those words, but the bombing of civilians is not popular even when the assurance is that Israel is trying to "limit civilian casualties." Yah, sure Ole! Bomb a city, but act surprised that the civilian population will suffer? C'mon! The only thing less believable was the Pavlovian response of the Bush administration condemning Hamas. OK, fair enough. Hamas is no friend, but Bush/Cheney/Rice, and soon Bidden, Clinton and Obama, must complete the thought or the Obama team will suffer from a credibility gap throughout the world. Yes, condemn Hamas, but demand that Israel stop the bombing. Now!
That Fitzgerald is busy, busy. Just when he looked like a prosecutor with an air-tight case, he rushes to court seeking permission to release "some" of the tapes but not all. Why does our modern-day Eliot Ness want permission to release tapes he thinks will harm the governor? To help the legislative impeachment of Blagojevich. Message to Fitzgerald--do your job and let others do theirs. Impeachment may be the answer, but that is not your decision.
December 29, 2008
Lighten up, Journal Sentinel
I admit that it was not a good use of time to watch the Packer-Lion game yesterday--always more snow to shovel, salt to spread--but I did it and I'm glad. Glad in part because I read the JS account of the rather exciting game and concluded I must have been watching a different game.
The game I watched had lots of "might-have-been" moments, exciting plays and suspense. Guys fighting like hell to win in weather that was awful. It was fun. But it seems that the JS sportswriter would have preferred a no-show forfeit. Here are the headlines, "Good for Nothing" the victory only keeps team from further humiliation" and the denouement? The Lions aren't really NFL caliber, so forget the stats. C'mon.
Fact is Lambeau was cold and the players performed admirably even though their season was over no matter the outcome. They gave the fans their money's worth--would that the Bucks would do the same. One of my favorite sportswriters, the late Leonard Koppett, like most sportswriters, loved baseball and basketball but for inexplicable reasons never warmed to the nation's choice, football. Leonard could not explain the bias. The JS coverage of the Packer game did nothing to dispel the charge. (If the JS wanted to watch a team give up, fold, destroy itself, he should have watched the Dallas "group," a/k/a team, that got whipped by Philadelphia. Now that was a real humiliation.)
Yup! It's that time of year. Get yours to us so we can list Fighting Bob's New Year's resolutions. Don't make them too serious. Life is serious enough.
December 28, 2008
Did he really say that?
Yes He Did! Just when you think that we have moved into a new Century with new racial views, some jerko from Tennessee runs for national chair of the GOP and reminds us of Lester Maddox and Bull Connor. His calling card? To the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" he played his new tune, "Barack the Magic Negro" on Rush Limbaugh's radio slam-o-rama. Even Newt up-chucked. But not Ken Blackwell, the African-American who helped deliver Ohio to Bush. Ken said the reaction to the song demonstrates "hypersensitivity." Oh, sure.
WaMu: The CEO took $88 million between 2001 and 2007. For what? "If you were alive, they would give you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan." Here's the rub. JP Morgan Chase bought WaMu for $1.9 billion dollars in September "and received $25 billion a few weeks later as part of the financial bailout." Surprise, surprise! JP Morgan Chase "declined to make WaMu executives available for interviews. Read the story in NYT and weep. Not only did they push mortgages people could not afford, they did not hesitate to throw people out on the street--Main street not Wall Street.
Majority Dems promise to be nice: Democrats control the Assembly, the Senate and the governor's chair. First words from the new leaders? "We will be nice to the Republicans because they were so nasty to us." The new assistant majority leader said, "We have a fresh perspective." How quaint.
I'm slightly more interested in his legislative priorities than I am about the level of civility he shows to colleagues in the People's House. QEO, revenue caps, direction of the PSC, mercury in our water, elimination of tax loopholes for banks and WMC, free tuition to our universities, fewer prisoners, public financing of campaigns. You know, the stuff of politics, not bean bags and Emily Post. Pass public financing into law and see if "nice" trumps ideology.
The new Assembly Speaker "vows to end the system of in-your-face 'gotcha' politics." Funny. I have not heard from one taxpayer or soon-to-be-unemployed state worker that he/she gives a hoot about "gotcha," but I hear a lot about unfair taxes.
December 27, 2008
Assemblyman Bob Ziegelbauer, D-Manitowoc, got our attention by refusing to take the 5 percent pay increase foisted upon our legislators. Good for Ziegelbauer, the Republican in Dem clothing! Good move. But then his highly principled stance soured right before my eyes.
True, Ziggy refused the raise but before reaching for your checkbook, here is more information. Ziegelbauer, in addition to his $47,400 salary, plus per diem, is Manitowoc County Executive. That job pays $74,000, so his total salary at the public trough is $121,400, plus health care, plus per diem, plus pension (one or two Bob?), and mileage. My estimate is a compensation package worth $170,000 when you add it all up. (I'll ask Bob's office to comment in case I'm on the high side.) No wonder Bob is willing to give up a $2,000 raise. As they say, "Keep the day job".
Think again, Bob. The Mayor of Manitowoc is not seeking the office again. How about taking that job as well? Mayor, County Exec, legislator. Three full-time jobs, but hey, you could handle it!
Wal-Mart: I'm sure you saw the story, but let's all smile again. They agreed to pay $640 million to settle more than 600 lawsuits accusing our pals of cheating employees out of wages for hours worked. Tsk, tsk.
Senator Herb Kohl on GM workers: I'm not making this up. Herb Kohl issued a news release on December 23 about the plant closing in Janesville throwing 1,200 workers out of good jobs. Herb said, "We're all thinking about the GM workers in Janesville today. They are skilled workers who turned out an excellent product, and we will do everything we can to help them through this difficult time and move toward a brighter future." That's it? How will you help them? A brighter future?
December 26, 2008
Not sports again!
Some of the most vehement responses come from regulars who object to reading about sports on FB.com. My defense is that it ain't about sports--it is economics, fairness and stupidity.
Milwaukee Brewer fans had hopes that the new owner Mark Attanasio would somehow find enough money to keep the great pitcher C.C. Sabathia in a Milwaukee uniform. Dream on! The incredibly rich and selfish NY Yankees signed C.C. and A.J. Burnett to whopping big contracts. But they didn't stop with pitchers. All in all, the Yankees spent $423 million on free agents while the "other 29" spent a total of $296 million. The Yankees might win all their games.
Can Baseball save the "other 29" or can the "other 29" save themselves? Yes. All they have to do is share all revenue equally--just like the NFL, and presto-chango, the Brewers could win the pennant. The Packers could win the Super Bowl next year, and thus the fans have a reason to cheer.
Bud Selig---go to the corner with dunce cap. Get ready for New Year's resolutions. Coming soon on FB.com.
December 25, 2008
Coleman behind by 47
The news from Minnesota is that Al Frankin is 47 votes ahead of Norm Coleman. The Minnesota Supremes ruled unanimously against Coleman who claimed that some votes were counted twice. Before breaking out the good stuff, keep in mind there are still 1,600 votes to be counted--absentee ballots improperly rejected. Frankin is claiming victory; Coleman is promising litigation.
I have to say that in the dissent in an earlier decision members of the Court cited none other than Stalin: "Josef Stalin is alleged to have said,'I consider it completely unimportant who will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this--who will count the votes, and how.'" And if Stalin is not enough, add Tom Stoppard in Jumpers: "It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting." (Check Bush v. Gore)
And your Christmas gift comes in the form of an article from the Capital Times about FDR's pardon of WWI opponents, including Fighting Bob La Follette. A nice gift.
Some Legislators are responding to our blog suggesting bad timing for a raise. Hope so!
Merry Christmas from all of us at Bob.com and Bob Fest.
December 24, 2008
We should be thinking good thoughts about friend and foe alike. This is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa--good cheer and peace on earth. But something is in the way and I think I have discovered the source of problem. It took another viewing of Frank Capra's classic, It's a Wonderful Life, the movie we watch every year. George Bailey, the good guy, played by James Stewart, saves the town from the grasp of the awful banker, Henry Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore.
(If the bankers had any sense they would stop moving in and out of Las Vegas to save taxes and instead open a banker's version of the Anti-defamation League that would lobby to stop TV stations from showing this subversive movie.)
Here is the deal. Banker Potter is back! There is a new director for our modern tragedy, George Bush, but, alas, no Jimmy Stewart has emerged--not yet. People are not thinking kind thoughts this season--they are mad as hell.
I have never felt so much anger. Don't believe me? Announce at Christmas dinner that you think it is good that the banks are refusing to tell us how they are spending the bail-out money. "None of our business." Then duck if a shoe flies at you.
Could this be happening? We, Congress, gives 700 billion dollars to bankers who have, allegedly, used the money for bonuses, bank purchases and elaborate parties and "decline to account for the gift? Is this true? "Yes, Virginia, there are bankers."
Try being the casting director--Hank Paulson as Potter is easy; Barney Frank as the bar tender; Nancy Pelosi the angel? Where oh where is Jimmy Stewart?
December 23, 2008
Pay raise? Bad timing.
The Wisconsin Legislature will give a pay raise to its members just a few days after the Janesville GM plant closes. Bad timing folks. Their pay goes from $47,400 to $49,000 while the Janesville 1200 go from middle-class to poor.
In addition to the $49,000, the legislators get $88 per day just to show up. I'm not making this up. (Why a per diem close to $100? Damned if I know.) So tack on another 5-10 thousand; add health care worth $15,000 and pension and you have a job worth keeping. No wonder so much time is spent gerrymandering districts every ten years not to mention fund raising. As for public financing, why would our comfy lawmakers risk joining the Janesville 1,200?
I think it is time for a different approach--a part-time Legislature on per diem-only. Or total public financing. The image of the well-paid legislator sitting in a fine establishment while the economy tosses people onto the trash heap is not healthy.
Merry Christmas, legislators. Merry Christmas.
December 22, 2008
None of your business!
Associated Press asked 21 banks how they spent the bailout-billions. You will never guess how they spent the money! Oops! I meant to say you will have to guess, because all 21 told AP nothing. Here is the position of the banks in brief, brought to you by JP Morgan Chase: "We have not disclosed it to the public [nor the Congress]. We're declining to do so."
OK, I oppose torture...isolation...water-boarding, stress positions...but we should at least consider solitary confinement at Supermax for bankers who refuse to tell us how they spent a couple hundred billion of our money! C'mon.
I look at the standard form banks require a borrower to fill out and ask, "What the hell is going on?"
Schedule A--all cash on hand; schedule B--all securities; F--any notes and loans receivable; Schedule E--notes payable...and on and on and on. The ending is perfect: "We may report information about your account to credit bureaus. Lender may share information...capacity, character, reputation, mode of living..." I am not kidding! And they won't tell us how they have used our tax dollars? Whoa Nelly!
If you put in bad information you might face "a fine not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than two years." What is the old saying about the goose and the gander?
Judge Crabb ordered the state to keep seriously mentally ill (SMI) inmates out of Supermax. If we don't demand an accounting fron the banks then we are SMI.
December 21, 2008
Do we really care about Rick Warren?
I grew up in a family where the religion of one's neighbor, classmate, or even family member was not to be discussed. It was too important for casual conversation. I learned this early following an argument I had with a classmate about Martin Luther. When my friend left my parents called me into the living room. My dad went straight to the point: "Neither of you know what you are talking about and you are not to discuss religion again. His religion is none of your business. Talk about politics or sports but not religion." I followed his advice.
When the Reverend Wright gave his goddamn America speech, I thought of my father's advice to avoid mixing politics and religion. Wright could have used my dad's advice. Now Barack has stoked the religious fire by naming Rick Warren to give the invocation on January 20. Apparently to blunt the outcry, he named Joseph Lowery to give the benediction.
Why do we need an invocation and a benediction? We are swearing in a president and vice president not anointing the bishop of Washington. A president must draw a line between church and state. A line blurred by Bush.
Invocation? You kidding? (And while I'm at it, could we ask politicians to stop looking into the camera beagle style with these words, "And, God bless America"?) I suspect God is more interested in the entire world than in our elections. Meanwhile, I can only hope that Warren and Lowery are told there is a trap door beneath them and one divisive word, one suggestion we are a Christian nation, and down-you-go!
December 20, 2008
Blog is late--computer must have been angry.
But this message is too good to pass up. WMC, yes that one, is turning over a new leaf. Why? "Wisconsin business faces new challenges," and (I'm not making this up), "a changing political landscape."
So they want to cooperate with "all stakeholders" your guess is as good as mine. WMC says they want to build a "shared vision" for economic growth. Cut the bull feathers. All of this means that Haney has figured out that the Democrats are in the majority in the Senate and the Assembly and we have a Democrat moving into the White House. Call out the troops!
"Fellow stakeholders...put down your agenda--give WMC time to regroup."
December 19, 2008
Bailout or set up?
W. says it would be terrible to burden Obama with auto industry in bankruptcy. Why? I guess he likes him. No, that doesn't ring true. Perhaps to set conditions that are so tough they can't be met so Obama will have the failure on his plate? That's the W. we know.
Viability by March 31? Are you kidding? If that doesn't doom Detroit I'll be surprised, because if not in the black two months after innauguration--Chapter 11 and good-bye UAW!
If they survive wages and benefits must be competitive by end of 2009. That is code for breaking the contracts with UAW--wages and benefits at non-union levels. Why join a union under that scenario?
Lookout Barack. He is not trying to help you.
December 18, 2008
I can still remember the days when legislative battles took place in the Capitol and the combatants would close up shop and head for Inn on The Park to share some laughs and some good cheer. Gaylord Nelson told me the Senate in D.C. stopped functioning effectively when the Dems and Republicans stopped having a scotch together after tough debates.
One could, as they say, disagree without being disagreeable. (I should note that those days came to a halt when attack ads on TV came of age. If someone goes on TV to call you a thief it is hard to lift a glass with him.)
Mark Musolf, killed in a car accident on Tuesday, was a throw-back to the good days. A Republican who respected Democrats and could acknowledge short-comings in his own Party. Mark served as Deputy Attorney General when another good guy, Don Hanaway, served as Attorney General. They were pragmatic public servants, not ideologues. Mark had other jobs with governors Thompson and Dreyfus, but he will be remembered as a good man with a desire to make government function. Well done, Mark.
Democracy Campaign. Check it out. Special interest groups spent a minimum of $7.1 million on legislative races! And most of the big givers did not report on the full amount so Mike McCabe had to estimate. But we do know that WEAC spent two million dollars and change while the right-wing Coalition for America's Families poured in $1.4 million to people they never met.
While the political world is shocked by the alleged "sale" of the Illinois Senate seat, outsiders are buying state government in Wisconsin. Time to demand public financing for all races, but let's begin with judicial races.
Thought for the day: Merrill Lynch paid $5-$6 billion in bonuses in 2006. Think about billions over and above incredible wages. Goldman Sachs gave over 50 people 20 million dollar bonuses last year. How do those stack up to your bonus?
December 17, 2008
He did what?
Assembly Dems were too cute by half when someone recruited Jeff Wood, Republican incumbent, to switch to "independent." He won the election and the Democrats completed the deal, naming him chair of the Ways & Means committee. (Is this really appropriate behavior? Or does it smell a little like Illinois?)
Jeff apparently celebrated--a bit too much--and found himself relieving himself along the Interstate. You know the rest. Cops approached, checked his car, found two bags of marijuana, arrested him, and gave a black eye to Dem majority in the Assembly. Whoa Nelly! Gotta wonder if he got his $88 per diem.
Bob Fest: Yup! Our eighth Fighting Bob Fest announced. September 12--Saturday after Labor Day. Baraboo. Mark your calendar and check www.Fighting Bob Fest.org. See you in Baraboo!
Lookout! Barack, look out! Afghanistan could be your Vietnam, your Iraq.
December 16, 2008
Hard to keep up
Hightower often quotes Lily Tomlin, "No matter how cynical you are, these days, its hard to keep up." Wisconsin made it through the presidential election without a trace of fraud, making the pre-election lawsuit brought by J.B. Van Hollen against GAB look even more like a waste of taxpayer dollars. Such thoughts are quickly dismissed. His "Special Assistant," attorney general Kevin St. John (I'm not certain, but I think all former Michael, Best lawyers on board the SS Van Hollen are called "special") said, in spite of the lack of any problems, "The lawsuit is justified."
Enter Lily Tomlin. Bush appointee U.S. Attorney Steven Biskukpic, recruited by Van Hollen to ferret out election fraud in Milwaukee, didn't find any. Oh boy. Biskupic resigned early and will join Michael, Best. Why no election fraud? Biskkupic said, "Corruption is less ingrained in Wisconsin than in Chicago." Tell that to Van Hollen. We have known that for 100 years.
And congratulations to the recipient of the "Robert Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year" award, given in the name of Robert Habush. This year's winner is Dan Rottier of Habush & Rottier.
It is hard to keep up.
December 15, 2008
The JS headline, "Bush's Iraq-Afghan farewell tour marred by dissent." I guess so. The ultimate insult, throwing a shoe at someone. In this case, the thrower hollered "A farewell kiss you dog." That accompanied the first shoe. The second, "This is for the widows, orphans and those you killed."
One cable guy referred to this as Bush's "victory lap." Some victory. Six years of war and occupation later, the president of the USA must sneak into town unannounced. Recall the prediction we would be welcomed as "liberators"? A slight miscalculation. Now 4.5 million Iraqis are homeless, as many as one million killed, the re-building a shambles. Seen any polls lately?
Was the real reason for the tour to avoid a decision on the auto bailout?
Senator Schumer--please. Senator Charles Schumer, quoted in the NYT, told the Wall Street folks to relax. "We are not going to be a bunch of crazy, anti-business liberals. We are going to be effective moderate stewards you can trust." Yikes! Schumer headed the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) and he increased Wall Street's contributions to the DSCC by 50 percent.
The quid for the quo? Schumer embraced "the free-market the deregulatory agenda." No free lunch.
Q: Senator Schumer, how did the Wall Streeters do?
Second Q: "Who is crazy now?"
December 14, 2008
Should we teach honesty?
Read the business section of the newspaper and weep. Attorney and high society member Marc Drier sold $380 million in fake paper to clients and other people who wanted to cheat the tax collector. This guy had enough chutzpa to go directly into the Defrauder Hall of Shame. (Nice note. He owned a Picasso and a Warhol of Jackie Kennedy. The NYT reports that "somebody not affiliated with the firm removed several pieces of art from the walls and carted them off." Who says the art thief was "not affiliated with the firm?"?) Could have been Drier in costume.
Oh, yes, Marc Drier prided himself in hiring the best and the brightest lawyers from Harvard.
Then there is Bernard Madoff. He swindled $50 billion, that's right, fifty billion dollars, from people, says NYT, who wanted "high return and low fees." (Let's see. Fifty billion. He could have picked up our tab in Iraq for five months.)
Fred Wilpon may have to sell the New York Mets because he lost hundreds of millions in Madhoff schemes. The "Marvelous Marv Throneberry" award goes to Fred.
Not done. A 500-page report is circulating in Washington that reports on the re-building of Iraq by Cheney and Rumsfeld's pals. Lies, cover ups, exaggeration, incompetence, poor planning--waste of $150 billion dollars--worse than that, Iraq is no better off and we are missing a ton of money.
So now, Mr. Fitzgerald, what were you thinking when the told the media that the governor of Illinois, (a "petty thief" by Madoff standards) was on "a crime spree"? And since when do prosecutors make such incriminating statements before trial? I missed something in your "Lincoln would roll over in his grave" speech. Why the rush? The FBI man in charge made it clear that Illinois was among the most corrupt states if not the most corrupt. Hum with me..."New York New York..."
So, do we teach our kids to be honest?
December 13, 2008
Watch your arm
President-elect Obama has said a thousand times, "I will reach across the isle to work with Republicans." This pledge of civility is fine and dandy, but watch your arm! There may be ferocious dogs guarding the other side. (Cerberus perhaps?)
The Obama family asked if they could move into Blair House early so the children could start school on January 5 with all the other kids. The reciprocal reach across the "isle" from President Petty? "No! Blair House is booked--come on the 15th." (And I imagine a note that said, "Check-in after 3:00. Need help with bags--dial 411.")
Ah, such grace. Such élan. Such bull feathers!
United Electical leads the way: Almost unnoticed in the story of the successful sit-in at Republic Window & Door was the story of the democratic union, the UE. The UE was too militant for the AFL in the 1930s and application for membership was denied. UE became the first charter in the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the CIO. After WWII, the CIO booted the UE for its militancy.
The UE's response was to keep on doing what they had always done. Live "union democracy." The UE calls itself a "rank and file union." The members run the show.
Sit-ins don't just happen. Rosa Parks had been schooled on what to expect and how to respond. In Chicago the UE members made plans. They sat-in and negotiations began. Almost a deal when the CEO suddenly demanded that if the banks loaned money to the employees the loans would have to cover his BMW and his Mercedes plus $37,500 in severance pay for him! I am not making this up. The UE said go to hell and talks stalled. But, with a nudge from Bill Daley, the 40 percent owner of the company, JP Morgan Chase, found $400,000 to seal the deal. Kudos to UE. They deserve a standing O.
One can only imagine what would have happened had the UAW taken similar action in a GM plant. As for reaching across the isle, the Republican senators told Obama, "No thank you. This ain't bean bags. We play hardball."
December 12, 2008
Kagen is on the ball!
Yes, we need help for the auto industry, but there are lots of people ready to grab the dough with no intention of helping workers, dealers or suppliers. Congressman Steve Kagen did some digging and, as we pointed out in the December 7 GarveyBlog, Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the path to hell, should not be permitted to receive and keep our money. This super-secretive investment group owns NewPage corporation and immediately shut down two paper mills in Wisconsin, costing 750 people their jobs. Jobs that should have been saved. When Cerberus bought Chrysler 30,000 jobs were cut.
Kagen voted against the Chrysler bailout for that reason. Well done, Steve!
Meanwhile, it is a given that the Republicans will support the bailout if GM will destroy the UAW. I'm not kidding. Whoa Nelly!
More blueprints. The corporate funded right-wing Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has one; now Jim Wood's Potemkin Village, the Wisconsin Way, funded by corporations and Realtors has one. What do they have? A blueprint. Huzzah! The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind. The answer my friends is in the blueprint. No corporate taxes.
We have survived Joe the Plumber, is this Jim the Carpenter? C'mon. As my friend used to say when he heard a fraudulent scheme, "I was born at night but not last night." No corporate taxes? Meet me at the Club Bar.
December 11, 2008
The Gods Must be Crazy
Allow me a few minutes on the absurd. First, Baseball owners, under the steady hand of Bud Selig, once again told the nation that Baseball has the Yankees and everything else is minor league. The Colorado G.M. said this, "The Yankees operate in a world by themselves--they don't affect the market." He is as loopy as the Illinois governor. Whoa Nelly.
I have not seen such enthusiasm over a pitcher for decades as CC Sabathia aroused. He got the Brewers into the playoffs and gave hope that someday the world series might return to Milwaukee. And the guy from Colorado says the Yankees "don't affect the market"? Just dreams destroyed?
Like a shopper on black Friday, the Brewers got run over. They offered a pittance--$100 million for five years. Not worth a glance as the Yankees gave him $161 million--by my figures 32 million and pocket change per year. Poof! Dreams of a World Series placed alongside the Senate seat in Illinois for Blagojevich.
Still not convinced owners in baseball are a couple bubbles off plum? The Yankees still want some guy named A.J. Burnett and will pay him $80 million over 5 years. And Blagojevich's wife yelled blank the Cubs? How about the Yankees?
Now Illinois and the nutty governor. Everyone is shocked and so are we, but the idea that money is not a factor in politics is just as nutty as Blagojevich. Apparently someone was willing to pay him! Face it. It is well known that ambassadorships cost a bundle. The Court of St. James or Paris might be in the millions. Where's the outrage? Not on tape! Lobbyists in the transition are spreading money like peanut butter. Yes, the governor should step down, but so should every incumbent who helps manipulate our totally corrupt system.
CC Sabathia For Senate!
And Joe the hapless plumber? He is appalled by McCain. Really? Well Joe, get a license and move to Alaska.
December 10, 2008
Remember the first Clinton election? Within days we heard about "Whitewater" and then Gennifer Flowers, and then Trooper-gate, then...
The scandal chase had begun and would not stop until that awful speech by James Sensenbrenner that ended the impeachment train. The attacks only ended when Bill and Hillary moved to New York. It is obvious in retrospect that "they" were determined to bring down the Clinton presidency before it began. A second term? Make it impossible.
Karl Rove, the right-wing talk shows, and Rove's pal Roger Ailes (Kasten's media guru) at FOX News never took their foot off the scandal pedal. (Remember the charge the Clintons murdered Vince Foster? Yikes!) There are no boundaries. Millions of taxpayer dollars funded the so-called independent investigation by right-wing counsel Ken Starr.
When Starr was finished--much smoke little fire. (Would this have all come back had Hillary won the nomination? You can bet the farm!) Now we learn that Governor Blagojevich, pronounced, DEM o CRAT, is nuts. Bonkers. Over the hill. Off the farm.
We are told that the U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald, the guy with molasses on shoes in the Cheney-Libby investigation, moved quickly in Chicago to bug the Governor's bedroom and office phones. The FBI guy in charge told the media, as if asked his opinion, that Illinois may be the most corrupt state in the country. "If not, it is in the competition." Thanks.
Rove and the boys have been quick to point out that Tony Rezko, a convicted felon who contributed money to candidate Obama, was clearly involved with the nutty Governor. Voilà! Get ready for months of radio talk attempting to link Barack to Rezko and Blagojevich. Lookout Barack. Here they come!
Almost forgot the allegation that a sitting governor talked with the editor of the state's largest newspaper about unfair coverage. No! There's gambling at Leroy's Café? Tommy Thompson and the Journal Sentinel editors did not discuss the four-part series on corruption in the Thompson administration? C'mon.
Am I appalled by Blagojevich's alleged conduct? Of course. Do I wonder if the Bush-Cheney appointed Fitzgerald may have crossed the line? You betcha.
December 9, 2008
I'll give you odds
Many years ago I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bill Veeck the baseball genius and former owner of the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. He told me that when the baseball owners meet, "They check their heads with their hats." And Edward Bennett Williams, great trial lawyer, former owner of the Washington Redskins, and later the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, told a D.C. audience, "The only thing dumber than the dumbest NFL owner is the smartest baseball owner." The crowd roared.
So, time has passed, Veeck and Williams have as well, but the Major League Baseball owners? Just as dumb as ever. Need proof? Pete Rose was banished for life because he gambled on baseball. Where are the baseball owners meeting? I'm not making this up. They are meeting in Las Vegas! Maybe, just maybe they don't know that there is gambling in Vegas where the odds are set on next season. Whoa Nelly! Don't wake Commissioner Selig. (I used to joke that the baseball union leaders should not take a salary.)
Last offer of proof in support of E.B. Williams's assertion. In 1920, the NFL began. They opted to share revenues equally. Result? Little Green Bay can compete with New York, Chicago and L.A. The New York Yankees can purchase any baseball player because they won't share revenues equally. Milwaukee keeps 'em for a season or two. Sort of an audition for the big time. Then the Yankees or Boston swoop in like vultures and grab them.
Note to baseball owners--fans are smarter than you. Share revenues equally so our team has a chance. Oops! I forgot. Bill Veeck told me he was called a "communist" by his fellow owners when he suggested sharing TV revenues. Not so bad. They called me a red when we went for 55 percent of gross revenue in the NFL.
Bud--get out of Vegas; hire some people who like fans; jump into the 20th century. Stop helping Edward Bennett Williams. You make Bill Bidwell look smart and that takes some doing.
December 8, 2008
Reality check time
A few headlines, one domestic, two foreign, hit me upside the head. Why is it that policy makers can't seem to think long-term, out-of-the-box? Take California prisons. A federal monitor held that Cal. must spend $8 billion to fix the over-crowding in the state prisons. 8,000,000,000 dollars and the state is broke--should consider merging with Utah or GM!
150,000 inmates,in facilities built to house half that many--many of whom are seriously mentally ill, have created an unconstitutionally dangerous setting. What to do? A three judge federal panel may order the release of 50,000 or so. Legislators will scream. When those legislators passed laws to, "lock 'em up!" apparently no one asked the question posed by our late colleague, Frank Remington, "What happens when the state cannot afford to build more prisons?" Frank told the Wisconsin legislature that eventually they will be forced to choose between more prisons or a first-rate university. The federal judges in California may well say--not your choice. You dropped the ball!
Wisconsin? Watch carefully. We may be next.
Now to foreign policy-makers. How about this headline--"Militants in Pakistan destroy 100 NATO trucks" carrying supplies to our soldiers. Yikes. And this one, "Pakistan spies help" the anti-American militants. Remind me. How did the Bush people maintain our great relationship with Pakistan? No need to think long-term.
One last one from yesterday. NATO and U.S. are re-positioning troops in Afghanistan brining them near Kabul in anticipation of a major attack.
Frank Rich had an important message for president-elect Obama. The brightest are not always the best. Think Robert McNamara, the whiz kids, and Vietnam. Think Afghanistan.
December 7, 2008
Come along with me
We used to sing. "If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me..." I have some new lyrics after reading about the real owners of Chrysler in a superb expose in the NY Times yesterday.
Headline, "Chrysler's Friends in High Places." Just above the headline are pictures of Dan Quayle; John Snow, the first Treasury Secretary on W.'s team; David Hobbs, a former assistant to president Bush for legislative affairs; John Breaux, former Senator but now a rich lobbyist; Arnold Havens, former general counsel of the Treasury Department and so it goes. Why were they featured? Read on.
This sentence sent chills down my spine, "Chrysler is controlled by one of the world's richest and most secretive private investment companies, Cerberus Capital Management." Snow has lobbied Hank "the bank" Paulson, his successor at Treasury, on the Chrysler bailout for Cerberus! Who knew? "Last year Cerberus and 100 co-investors bought 80% of Chrysler for $7.4 billion" and began cutting employees with a meat-ax; 30,000 within a short time while asking Paulson and Congress to save the poor workers--bail out Chrysler! Whoa Nelly! They meant to say "Bail out Cerberus!" As Vince Lombardi once yelled following a second Packer penalty, "What the hell is going on out there!"
So, my new lyrics, "If you want to feel kinda stupid, just come along with me." So, here are a few of my questions: Q. Did Paulson tell Congress that Snow was lobbying him? Q. Who is involved with Cerberus? Q. Is the Congress on Ambion?
I supported the bailout but now feel like a fool. Q. Is the threat of GM to file for bankruptcy real or is it just a Paulson trick to take our eye off the ball? Q. Are we to believe that our Congressional delegation didn't gulp when John Snow, Breaux and other well known greasers showed up for "Chrysler"? And, what is wrong with the UAW?
C'mon! What the hell is going on?
December 6, 2008
Barney Frank hit the nail on the head: "Obama says we have only one president at a time. I think he seriously over-estimates the number." Making Barney's case, Bush is wandering around in a daze with Laura playing Nancy Reagan while her mate complains he got bad intelligence from CIA on WMDs in Iraq. (One can only hope he does not start teaching history.) Good Lord, he got bad intel? Get this guy away from the red phone! He's gone over the hill.
Stare at the numbers--533,000 jobs lost In November; 1,200,000 jobs lost in October and September; 1.9 million jobs lost in a year, and keep in mind that a majority of African-American adult males in Milwaukee are unemployed.
The official unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, but when the discouraged are counted the percentage is close to 13 percent. And millions without health insurance...We have a problem.
While the economy is falling fast, president-elect Obama is watching carefully, but it is time to act. One story says Democrats in the lame duck Congress don't have the votes to save auto but will have enough in the new Congress. Idea: Convene the new Congress January 2; get it rolling on an informal-but-serious basis and tell the nation what to expect. Why not? If unemployment goes up another half million in December--and that is likely because people don't have money to spend on Christmas gifts--Katie bar the doors.
The "Washington way" is to wait, name the cabinet, enjoy the parade, and then get things moving. There is an ad on TV where the guy says, "Sometime life comes at you fast." Life is coming at Barack Obama fast--and coming to auto workers even faster.
December 5, 2008
The awful choice
I have learned that many of you do not favor the Big Three's bridge loan. Many have said bankruptcy would be a better approach. There is plenty of room for argument given the Neanderthal-like positions of the auto makers over the years on almost everything. Lobbied like hell against increased miles-per-gallon requirements; supported NAFTA to soften UAW; remained in the warm bed provided by big oil; out-sourced; treated communities like Janesville terribly...etc., etc.
So, should we support them now or let 'em sink as pay-back while drowning the workers in the same tub? When I come upon a fight I immediately check out the sides. If the "good guys" are in the fight I join them. Join when they need you not when it's over. I think the workers need us now. It might not work, but so what?
Possibly all you really need to know is that the talking heads on CNN and right-wing-talk-radio-nuts are gleeful that they can openly attack the UAW. Listen carefully---it wasn't free trade or NAFTA--it is the workers who caused the problem! You know, "Six-figure salaries on the line yada yada."
The Packers understand the blame game. It was not the decision to let Favre go that doomed the season, it turns out, it was, I'm not making this up, the punter! So they got a new one. (The last team to blame the punter? Detroit in the 1970s. That took care of their problems. Haven't checked recently, but I'll bet the Lions are doing swell.)
We lost some great people the last couple of weeks. Becky Young, a legislator with a conscience and a commitment to social justice passed on. I've never been sure about heaven, but if there is one she is organizing the inhabitants. A memorial in Madison Saturday, Pyle Center, at 3:00. She is missed already.
Dr. John Stephenson, who is the example for Med students to follow, passed last week. John was the personification of the Wisconsin Idea. His life was dedicated to those in need in this country and beyond. Like Becky Young, social and economic justice provided the light on his path. Thank you John for an extraordinary life.
Odetta also died. She was the first folk singer I ever saw and she was the fantastic. She appeared at an NSA congress with Josh White--try to imagine the thrill of being in that audience at 19. She sang "This little light of mine..." but her light was not little.
December 4, 2008
Buddy can you spare a dime?
Not old enough you say? Me either, but my dad often hummed the tune and it meant a lot to him. It meant a lot to millions of unemployed. As Congress climbs its high horse to declare that the auto industry and its union don't deserve help because they don't call Wall Street "home," here is a reminder of the lyrics of the Great Depression anthem.
"Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time,
Once I built a railroad; now its done. Brother can you spare a dime?
You know the rest..."Say, don't you remember I'm your pal? Buddy can you spare a dime?"
The UAW, the Democrat's pal, could sing the song and just substitute "car" for "railroad."
Dave Obey remembers the lyrics and he expressed my thoughts.
If we were in normal times, opined David, we would tell the auto industry, "Sorry buddy, you screwed up, you go down and somebody else takes your place. But, these are not normal times--the most dangerous times since the '30s. We risk the whole system going down."
Are they kidding? Congressman Ryan? Let the auto industry go down? Whoa Nelly! Time for action from the Bush and the Obama administrations. Buddy, can you spare a dime? If you can't, and if the industry collapses, the blame will be on the doorstep of the Party in control of House, Senate, and White House. Forever. When LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, he said it would cost the Democrats the South for decades. He was right, but he did the right thing.
If the Democrats don't help the people impacted by the auto industry they can kiss the Midwest good-bye. Bill Clinton passed NAFTA, we live with the results. Obama was elected to give hope. Time to deliver.
December 3, 2008
Max Cleland lost three limbs fighting for this country, but six years ago Saxby Chambliss ran against Max and, in a Rovian rant, questioned Cleland's loyalty to America. Whoa Nelly. John McCain condemned Chambliss six years ago but that was then.
Yesterday the voters in Georgia, surprise, surprise, elected Chambliss again with votes to spare. Shame on 'em.
Some said that had Jim Martin and Al Franken won the Democrats would have an automatic filibuster-buster 60 votes. Nonsense. Joe Lieberman would have to be among the 60 and "Its all about me Joe" would negotiate on every vote. E-bay would set up shop in his office. And other Democrats, not wishing to be part of the herd, would also rebel. Frankly, I think 57 or 58 Dems in the Senate is enough. Barack has started reaching across the isle. Time for GOP to follow suit.
December 2, 2008
Whether or not you like his appointments, Barack Obama has lots of courage to name these people to his cabinet. He breaks the mold. Few politicians surround themselves with people who have the stature to say, "Mr. President, Governor, Senator, you are wrong." Most like hearing, "Great speech Governor, great speech."
So kudos to Barack. He has the stature to pull it off and we better hope he does.
Votes are in--what happened? According to the GAB, 69 percent of us voted--2,983,417. Not bad, but four years ago 73 percent of the eligible voters went to the polls. Most of us were confident Obama would win because of GOTV. And, that might be the case, but fewer than four years ago? We better check it out.
December 1, 2008
Here comes change
Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, General Jones--now there is change. You betcha! Rahm, like Hillary, voted for the invasion and has continued to support the occupation. He was reluctant to steer money to Congressional candidates in 2006 who called for an end to the occupation. Hillary accused Barack of being a wimp on war. Would he be as ready as Hillary or McCain to be commander-in-chief? Don't think so! Did anyone answer the 3:00 a.m. call? Did that TV spot force Obama to announce that he is going to make Afghanistan his Iraq, but managed better to prove he is just as tough as Hillary?
And are we to believe that Secretary Gates is simply a malleable civil servant who will now be the face of peace in Afghanistan and troops out of Iraq as soon as possible? Or are we facing more of the same?
Church and marriage: The New Yorker reports, "Of the forty million dollars spent on behalf of California's anti-gay marriage ban, Prop 8, some twenty million came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Pardon me, but one would think the Mormon church would shy from controversy over marriage. Don't believe me? Ask Mittens Romney.)
Isn't it time we took a long hard look at the tax-exempt status if they are major players in politics? Twenty million bucks ain't chump change.
Winter is here. Enjoy.