February 29, 2008 Comes down to Texas?
Maybe, perhaps, possibly, might happen, but expect to hear "it was Bill's assertion" not Hillary's, that she had to win Texas and Ohio. She is now talking about the complexities of the Texas race and Pennsylvania as the firewall. So, maybe the Texas-Ohio talk was, as W. calls it, "bull." In any event it looks like an Obama victory in Texas with Ohio up for grabs.
Prediction: If Hillary wins the primary in Texas (65 percent of delegates) and loses the caucuses (35 percent of delegates) she will motor on to Philadelphia. Second prediction: The Democratic Party power brokers will eliminate caucuses for the 2012 race.
Hillary may be "proud" to be on the same stage with Barack, but she won't leave the stage without a big push.
Great Lakes Compact: "Waukesha leaders question compact" screams the JS headline. Is it something in the water they drink? Who knows, but officials like Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas seem to think to hell with everyone else--Waukesha is all that matters. To listen to Vrakas, one would conclude that Waukesha can handle the Great Lakes diversion threat all by itself. I hear him saying to other states and Canadian Provinces, "Get out of our way." Let's hope that Peter McAvoy and other voices of reason carry the day.
March 13: The People's Legislature will hold a rally in the Capitol. The theme? "Unfinished business." The Assembly is running out the clock to avoid a vote on a bill almost everyone supports--public financing of Supreme Court elections. The rally will give voice to those of us opposed to WMC's plans to buy the Court and to preserve the integrity of the Court in the future. See you at the Capitol.
February 28, 2008 Nader has lots of support
My e-mail traffic makes clear that many of you are fans of Ralph and agree with his decision to run. Should prove interesting.
Quick hit on school vouchers in Milwaukee: Turns out the voucher kids do no better than public school kids. No kidding. JS writes: "The first full-force examination since 1995 of Milwaukee's groundbreaking school voucher program has found that students attending private schools through the program aren't doing much better or worse than students in MPS." Another privatization program not living up to its billing.
February 27, 2008 A few thoughts
The debate was fine. As suspected, Hillary would not be confrontational sitting two feet from Barack. While her advisers urged blood and guts, the fact is you cannot pull it off in a debate. (One of her coaches, Madison's own Brady Williamson, was on stage.) The format doesn't allow for personal attacks. And while you can win on points, it is tough to knock-out an opponent. This ain't bean bags but it ain't boxing either.
Think about the memorable lines in all previous debates to make my point. Reagan to Mondale--I won't hold your age against you; Bentsen to Quayle, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you Senator, are no Jack Kennedy. I turned off the TV convinced that Obama has done it. He will be the nominee and he can handle anything McCain and his loopy radio talk show host can throw.
Speaking of McCain, he said he must convince the American people that "we are winning the war in Iraq" or he will lose. If that is the case, he will lose. Almost 4,000 soldiers killed; 60,000 wounded; $498 billion spent thus far; $275 million per day; 700,000-one million Iraqis killed; 4 million refugees--all this from the National Priorities Project. And the rebuilding of the devastated country has not even begun.
Cost to Wisconsin? $8.3 billion. The equivalent cost of 1.3 million four-year scholarships! Winning? Winning? Are you nuts?
Maybe electing the Court is not a good idea afterall. When the WSJ promoted an appointed Court, I jumped on it like a hungry dog on a bone. But without public financing of Supreme Court elections, we get the Court WMC buys. Could we do worse? I doubt it. And the WMC candidates would not even make it to first base in a serious vetting process for Circuit Judge or Assistant Attorney General. The resume of Michael Gableman is pedestrian at best. I don't mean to be a snob, but we do want bright and accomplished lawyers on the Supreme Court.
He attended Hamlin Law School--not exactly the Harvard of the Midwest; and his resume lists no honors. Then, apparently not getting a job offer from a law firm upon graduation, he became an adjunct professor at, you guessed it, Hamlin, and did some clerking for a few years.
With his resume, as put on the internet by WMC, he would not get an interview for an opening at the Department of Justice, and now he wants to be a Supreme Court Justice? Ah, but worry not says WMC--lots of policemen and sheriffs like him. Whoa Nelly! The Missouri Plan is looking good.
February 26, 2008 Get the hook!
The recent behavior of Hillary Clinton can best be described as erratic. From, "I'm honored, honored, to be on stage with Barack Obama," to "Shame on you, Barack Obama! meet me in Ohio," it seems obvious that she needs someone to get the hook, pull her off stage, and explain that if she should happen to win Ohio and Texas and go on to win the nomination, she will need the people she is now mocking. The over-the-top impersonation of Barack was the final straw. This is not junior high school.
Meanwhile we suffer from the slimy tactics of Harold Ickes and Mark Penn, who gave swift boating a try this week with the Barack photo. None of it seems to be sticking as Obama has opened up a big lead 54 percent to 38 percent and is the likely winner in Texas and Ohio.
WMC: Meanwhile, back in the land of La Follette, the WMC air war has begun. Turn on your TV and see a man behind bars. The WMC sponsored candidate would keep him there but, of course, moderate Louis Butler would, if you believe the wing nuts at WMC, set him free. Welcome to Wisconsin Willy Horton. WMC describes the two candidates--their man is a "traditionalist" who "opposes judicial activism." The sitting Justice is, "A judicial activist" who expands prisoner rights.
What happened to the Basting Commission? Butler called on an independent group supporting him to "stand down," whatever that means, while WMC goes on a TV buying spree. Justice Butler is right--the candidates should run their campaigns but that won't happen. (Read Dave Zweifel's WMC comments.)
Percy Julian passes: Sad to report but Civil Rights pioneer Percy Julian died on Sunday. Jeff Scott Olsen told the Cap Times, "He was a model for other lawyers in how to be a good lawyer and a kind heart at the same time." Well said. Percy left his mark and will be missed.
February 25, 2008 Nader
I think I will run for president and I hope you will as well if you disagree with Hillary and Barack on any serious national issue. We could create an Internet game entitled "Pick-a-Party" and assign all candidates to a party for a November scrum. Why not?
Let me see, our old friend Tom Harkin is better on almost all issues than Barack or Hillary (or Ralph Nader) in my view, so why not nominate Tom to run on the "Farm Party" or Al Gore on the "Stop Global Warming Party"? Or, with luck, we could get Mo-Joe Lieberman back for an encore heading the "This time I'll lose Florida as an out-of-the-closet-neocon Party." Why not?
Under the catchy theme, announced on Meet The Press, "Dissent is the Mother of Ascent," Ralph Nader, tired of hearing that he is responsible for George Bush, Roberts, Alito, trillion dollar deficits, the sub-prime loan scandal, repeal of Habeas Corpus, Gitmo, 4.5 million displaced Iraqi citizens, and the hiring of BLACKWATER, announced that he is running for president. I can visualize the chanting crowd--"Dissent is the mother of ascent."
What kept Ralph out of the Democratic Party primaries? He certainly could have helped Dennis Kucinich raise all the issues Nader now hopes to raise. What issues convinced him to run against the Democratic nominee? Repeal of Taft-Hartley, single-payer health insurance, bias toward Israel in our foreign policy, and waste in by the Pentagon.
I probably agree with Ralph on most issues, but eight years ago, when he declared there was not much difference between Bush and Gore, I decided something was wrong with me or Ralph. I can't influence Ralph, but I feel compelled to speak on Ralph's latest move.
There is a chasm between Obama and McCain; perhaps a crevice between Nader and Barack, but no matter how wide the crevice, this is no time for an Evil Knievel dare. Ralph knows better than anyone in this coountry how difficult it is to change policy directions. He also should know, announcing, after the vetting of presidential candidates has occured, doesn't add to the debate.
February 24, 2008 If it looks done it probably is
Bill Clinton threw down the challenge to his wife: Win Ohio and Texas or you are done. One could almost hear her teeth grinding a thousand miles away as her spouse said, in essence, you can't win Hillary but I did.
Since the Clinton challenge, the papers describe her as "somber" or "wistful" or "a realist" or "resigned." And the finger-pointing is in full swing.
The title I like best in this Maginot-line-inspired campaign goes to Mark Penn. He labeled himself "chief strategist" but the campaign had no strategy and only tactics. But what does he care? He earned (took) millions in fees and his PR firm will have plenty of future business. Candidates lose, but consultants blame someone and move on. There is always another campaign.
More descriptions: "Morale low," "staff exhausted," "out of money." And the topper came last night: "Meet me in Ohio," hollered Hillary. How dare you, Barack Obama, accuse me and my husband of supporting NAFTA! How? Because without a 100 percent effort by Team Clinton, David Bonier, Dave Obey and other progressive Democrats would have defeated NAFTA and millions of good jobs would still be here. That's how.
She said, "Shame on you Barack Obama." C'mon, Hillary. Stop listening to the likes of Tom Buffenbarger, president of the once-progressive Machinist Union, who introduced her in Ohio, as Frank Rich reported, by deriding Obama supporters as "latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust-fund babies." Whoa Nelly! This guy known as "Buffy" sounds like the wheels are off. (OK, I admit it. I drive a Prius. But "trust fund?" Still looking!)
Time to wrap this up and stop the fear-mongering that a combination of Super-dooper delegates and the seating of Florida and Michigan will thwart the democratic will and nominate Hillary Clinton.
February 23, 2008 Year Six
And so year six begins. Five fascinating years since we started FightingBob.com. Time flies when you are having fun. Our thanks to Dave Zweifel for his nice column celebrating our birthday and to our pal Jim Hightower who will be in Madison and Milwaukee April 5 & 6 to help raise money for FightingBob. Jim's latest book is Swim Against the Current: Even a dead fish can go with the flow. You will love it!
We need your help to meet a challenge. We have a supporter who has pledged to match $10,000 raised before May 1. So, your hundred dollar check will be worth more. Give us a hand.
Words: Well, you read O'Reilly's remarks. Amazed that the mainstream media ignored his explosive remarks? I am. Imagine: "I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there is evidence..." O'Reilly should be fired immediately. Period.
Obama and Clinton: The Wisconsin decision is in. Wisconsin loves Barack. Votes: 58 percent vs. 41 percent Money raised in January in Wisconsin: $195,000 vs. $35,000 Delegates 47 vs. 34
Hillary seemed to concede at the end of debate 19. An Obama-Clinton ticket would have been laughed at a year ago but not now. Odds are it won't happen, but no one thought JFK would prevail upon LBJ. He did. It seems clear for now that the dark forces in her camp--Ickes, Bill and Wolfson--are losing. They want he to go hard negative and she went in the opposite direction. Good for Hillary Clinton.
McCain: I could care less if he had a sexual relationship with a lobbyist. The question is whether he tried to help her clients and the answer is yes and hell yes. He has disqualified himself.
Best line: Barack: by saying "get real" Hillary seems to be saying that my supporters are delusional. Good stuff.
February 22, 2008 Party-line
Some of you are of an age where you remember the old party-line telephones. One felt guilty if he or she lingered for a moment before hanging up--just to find out who was talking to whom. (If mother saw you linger, it was off to bed!) The modern day equivalent of the party-line phone is open records, especially when people sending emails think they are shielded from public scrutiny.
Someone figured out that all the communication among the Basting Commission members (a/k/a the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee) was, in a word, confidential. It ain't. It is now available to anyone and your mother won't punish if you linger over the emails.
The email makes clear what my mother preached that "you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear." You can't create a commission to regulate Supreme Court elections behind closed doors and expect the public, or even the media, to get behind the idea. And if you cannot enforce your rulings, save the emails.
It appears that even the board that governs the State Bar did not know about Basting's plans. And apparently the Bar is frozen in place.
The fundamental problem of Supreme Court elections begins and ends with millions of dollars from WMC fronts pumped into the election to elect a pro-business Justice. Ethics? Dishonest TV spots? You name it and I will label it irrelevant if you don't deal with the money. You cannot change the system of buying the Court if you don't.
Served on a platter to the members of Basting Commission was a golden opportunity to do a great thing, but their gaze was elsewhere. The governor, Senate, the public, the entire Court, and most members of the Assembly favor public funding of Court elections. Did Basting & Co. jump on the public financing express train? Even testify in favor? Nope and double nope.
While opportunity slipped away, now we know that Basting, rather than lobbying to drain the swamp, was sending out emails to gain more "balance" on his do-nothing, center-right Commission by naming a WMC board member to the Commission and one other Republican activist. Want to know why you should not jump into the major leagues until you can hit a curve? Read the email.
Meanwhile it is deja vue. We are about to get another Ziegler (Wilcox) election. Help!
February 21, 2008 Supreme Court
Following this Blog, we present a short video of testimony from Sen. Mike Ellis, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, Mike McCabe and Jay Heck on campaign reform. Not present to discuss the Supreme Court crisis? The Basting Commission and the State Bar Association Basting heads.
Eli Wiesel said, "The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference to evil." Enter our evil "deciders" in the State Supreme Court race--liberal, and soon to be outspent 10-1, the Greater Wisconsin Committee supporting Louis Butler and, neocon Wisconsin Club for Growth ready to put five million into the April 1 contest for Gableman. (Club for growth works with WMC. WMC wants to guarantee its members a victory in the Supreme Court every time. Hey! Who can blame them? Life is unfair---so toughen up and enjoy the ride!)
Darrin Schmitz is running the WMC sponsored Gableman campaign. Don't know if he and Gabelman wear WMC jackets but they might as well. Darrin won't let the WMC-sponsored candidate cooperate with the Basting Commission. Why? Says Darrin, subversives like Bill Kraus are on the Commission. Whoa Nelly! Bill Kraus is everyone's favorite Wisconsinite. So what's the real deal? Gabelman wants to be free to attack Butler.
I know what you are thinking. Basting won't take that nonsense. Right? Wrong. Instead of fighting for publicly financed Supreme Court elections and disclosure of contributions, Basting is sending emails to Darrin Schmitz. Save us!
The Clinton Problem Will she follow Harold Ickes and Mark Penn into the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove Hall of shame or will she get on the positive side and let the people decide? Place your bets.
Editor of Arizona Republic: "McCain is essentially an honorable person but he can be imprudent." Guess so! He was referring to the "Keating Five" but there may be more.
February 20, 2008 Hope + brilliance + Michelle
Not in my lifetime has there been a campaign like this one. Starting with the indefatigable candidate with his unique delivery and an incredible ability to reach into an audience and grab their attention, mind and soul; a family history that makes him a folk hero from the start; and a wife who is every bit as smart, articulate and committed to change as he is, and the message has been shouted, "Not this year Hillary, not this year."
Al From and other DLC Democrats (not small "d" democrats) are panicked. The party of working families is back! The DLC is done. Huzzah! The real insiders have not given up despite 11 wins in a row. Ickes and Wolfson think they can really go negative, pull down Barrack into their murky water and Hillary floats to the top. Nonsense. You can't "swift-boat" a man like Barack. They tried out a couple of punches and they fell flat. in fact, Hillary is in danger of losing her own reputation as well as loyal supporters, if she lets the dogs run free. Bill Clinton beat her to it but she might join him in the penalty box.
The results were amazing. One could not absorb the information before Barack was in Houston claiming Texas as Obama territory.
Independents 62-34; white men 62-36; white women 48-51; and his position on the supposed skimpy program was preferred on Iraq, Health care, education and the economy.
The figure burned into the memory bank--
Obama 58 percent Clinton 41 percent
Oh, almost forgot. McCain proved Frank Rich a prophet. The GOP is now grumpy old white guys.
New Rules? Congratulations to the State Senate. They passed "Impartial Justice" by a 23-10 margin giving us hope that it may pass the neocon Assembly. Mike McCabe believes it will pass in the Assembly if the leaders permit a vote. Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald and Speaker Mike Huebsch are the "deciders."
Lemme see. All 7 members of the Court support the concept of public funding; the Governor supports the bill; the Senate supports it and damned near every citizen in the state support public financing of judicial campaigns. Those who get in the way of a bill this popular may find people a bit cranky.
The 10 votes to continue the corruption of the courts:
February 19, 2008 ELECTION DAY
Yes, we are relevant. Yes, a lot is on the line. If Hillary wins she temporarily halts the Barack Express and gives a shot in the ribs to Jim Doyle in the process. If Barack wins, he may set the stage to win Ohio and Texas. So, friends, vote!
I had fun yesterday. Took our grand daughter to hear Michelle Obama, a brilliant speaker, at the Overture. If they put spouses on the ticket, Michelle Obama would win hands down. Simply stated, she gave a phenomenal speech.
Fidel: Can't let this moment pass without mentioning Fidel's decision to step aside. What will the poor neocons do? Their number one target is gone after 50 years of embargo and the infamous invasion. He survived. Suppose the Cubans elect a government we don't like? Another invasion? Let's hope not.
Musharraf defeated--U.S. policy rejected. Another policy disaster for Condi and W. A revolution led by lawyers when Musharraf removed the Chief Justice ends with an overwhelming defeat for one of Bush's closest allies. (How are things in Afghanistan?)
Basting Commission. In Stark contrast to the risks lawyers were willing to take in Pakistan to protect the integrity of their Supreme Court, our attorneys react passively to the announcement that Big Money will purchase the seat held by Louis Butler. (The Senate will take up the impartial justice bill today.)
Is there time or will the majority in the Assembly defeat reform? Maybe Tom Basting could invite lawyers from Pakistan to come to Wisconsin to teach us about the importance of an independent judiciary. Just a thought.
February 18, 2008 Super Delegates and horse feathers
One thing I do not miss are the "people in the know" vs. the rest of us in Washington. As the wine flows at expensive restaurants, grand Pooh-bahs tell the younger would-be Pooh bahs about the sanctity of the Super Delegates, and almost all of it is nonsense.
The idea was to guarantee control of the Party's nominee by the money boys--the Poo bahs. They were determined to avoid another brilliant grassroots McGovern-style campaign. It was my lucky day when the grand daddy Pooh bah and money man, Bob Strauss, tried to recruit me to help rid the Democratic Party of the "nutty McGovern" people. (You know. People like me.) While they didn't get me, they got 800 Super Delegates instead.
Even Mark Shields opined that the Super Delegates were created "to bring adults to the Party." More horse feathers. Get out of D.C. once in a while, Mark.
Listening to NY Senator Chuck Schumer on "Face the Nation" yesterday gave me the chills. Michigan, with only Hillary's name on the ballot, and a letter from the Clinton campaign that Michigan and Florida should not count, was a minor problem to Schumer. Count 'em! Super Delegates? Vote your conscience whoever you are.
Polls say 47-43 Barack over Hillary in Wisconsin. Better get out and vote no matter which one you support. Hillary's return to Wisconsin means she thinks she is doing better and could carry Wisconsin.
BASTING ON THE HOT SEAT: The so-called Basting Commission created by Tom Basting will be watched carefully today. Will Tom Basting demand passage of SB 171--publicly financed Supreme Court elections, instead of the WMC auction? Or will his group sit it out? Seven members of the Court want public financing of judicial races. Don't hold back, Tom! Your chance to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness.
February 17, 2008 Here we go!
Tuesday we get a chance to tell the nation how this blue state, with an open primary, feels about Barack and Hillary. There have been no polls to speak of and so we go with our gut.
In watching the Democratic Party fundraiser last night, my impression was of an exhausted and troubled Hillary Clinton. Her enthusiastic introduction from Barbara Lawton seemed out of sync with the candidate's flat speech. (Both Lawton and Doyle ignored one of the basic rules of introduction of famous people: Make it short--the audience wants to hear the candidates. Will you ever forget Jim Doyle's lengthy introduction of The Boss at the Kerry-Edwards rally?)
Barack was energized, articulate and engaging. He has campaigned all over Wisconsin and should win unless I'm missing something, while Hillary has only visited Kenosha and Milwaukee and will skip the rest of her schedule in Wisconsin.
She has ceded Wisconsin unless Republicans cross-over to vote for her. Presumably, her time will be spent trying, along with Bill, to persuade super delegates to ignore speeches, ignore polls, ignore the primary and caucus voters, and name her as the nominee. A prescription for the death of the Party.
I didn't know until last night that 18 delegates to the convention will be unpledged--you know, Super-Dooper delegates. Seventy-four will be pledged. Guess which ones will be wooed by Walter Mondale and Bill Clinton and which ones will go to "official" functions.
February 16, 2008 Where do I send it?
As panic in the Clinton camp hits the media, the latest Ickes "surge" to seat the Michigan delegation, where only Hillary's name was on the ballot, becomes a bit too obvious. If they thought they had most of the Superdooper delegates they would have waited until after Wisconsin and Ohio to come up with a new plan, but apparently they don't. Or, have they concluded that she will lose Wisconsin and Ohio?
Wisconsin congressmen Kind and Kagan have now pledged to vote with their constituents. My guess is that Tammy Baldwin and Dave Obey will follow suit. The common sense of that approach is overwhelming the cynics who want victory at any cost.
So, here is the latest anti-democratic move. The NYT reports party elders will be asked to intervene. Yikes, and Whoa Al Gore. If you had trouble identifying a Superdelegate, chances are you will have the same problem with the concept of "Party Elder."
All I can do is ask, "Are I one?" I'm over 60 and therefore am an "elder." I have been a nominee of my party twice; I help candidates when I can. I think I should apply. Do you agree? OK, where do I send the appliction? How about to Al From of the DLC? Perhaps.
I have a better idea. Let the voters decide in the remaining primaries. If no winner emerges, have a new national primary. Why not? Bob La Follette took the nominating process out of the back room.
Let the people decide. I like Al Gore, but who else would qualify? And where have you been?
February 15, 2008 A crock?
Bob Lutz, CEO of the General Motors that reported an incredible loss last year, gives us some idea about his I.Q. Not since Michael Moore's brilliant Roger and Me has G.M. been so naked. Lutz told a private luncheon group that "global warming is a crock of shit." One can only imagine a conversation between W. and Lutz. (This country is in trouble!)
Hot News: Some Sheriffs endorse WMC's Supreme Court candidate Gabelman. Not explained in the news release is what qualifies sheriffs to evaluate Supreme Court candidates. This is in the "Funeral parlor directors endorse Surgeon General candidate" category. Stick to fighting crime. Pahhleezze.
Roger Clemens: Did he or didn't he? And Commissioner Selig doesn't know? C'mon.
Marlys Matuszak passed this week. No one did more for Dave Obey than Marlys. She will be missed by all.
Noted: Hillary Clinton is complaining that Barack won't debate her in Milwaukee while she campaigns in Ohio and Texas. Her JSeditorial board interview was via phone. Would the debate be via Black Berry? Her tepid effort in Wisconsin must be disappointing to Barbara Lawton and other public figures who backed her from the start.
February 14, 2008 Victory at any cost? Bill Dixon told me that "politics ain't bean bags" and he was correct, but even politics has some rules. The Clintons have always operated as if the rules don't apply to them--especially when running behind.
Look at Florida and Michigan. They were told not to move their primary and they did. The candidates agreed not to compete in those two states--delegates won't be seated. OK so far? Hillary got more votes in Michigan possibly because hers was the only name on the ballot. And she got more votes in Florida.
I smelled a rat when she flew to Florida to a "victory" party the night of the primary. Now, sit down please because Hillary wants to claim both states! Whoa Nelly! Are you kidding? Had you made the argument months ago, you might have some shred of credibility. Not now.
And Mark Penn argues, get this, that super delegates are better positioned to decide than caucus delegates because, I'm not making this up, "Caucuses tend to attract fewer voters than primaries." Ufdah! Super delegates, anointed by the insiders, are more representative of Minnesotans than the DFL caucus attendee? Cut the horse heathers.
One more point. To keep pointing out that African-Americans support Obama suggests that it is because he is African-American. Nonsense! Blacks are the most loyal group of voters in the Democratic fold. I got 85-90 percent of the African-American votes when I ran for governor and U.S. Senate, and my pale Irish skin was not the reason.
The Clintons can't stop playing the race card. But take this to the bank: If the Superdelegates steal this nomination, there will be hell to pay.
Wisconsin Supreme Court: State Bar President Tom Basting appointed a commission to study TV ads of the two candidates running for the Supreme Court. He modestly appointed himself chair and provided the funding from the State Bar. (I've asked for the minutes of the Board of Governors approving this modest effort, and a copy of the budget, but no luck. Surprise, surprise.) Basting was apparently stung by criticism from Charlie Sykes, Bradley Foundation fellow and right-wing nut. Sykes found a contribution Basting made to a Democrat! Wow!
Basting's response? He put a WMC Board member on the panel. WMC is the problem, for heaven's sake. They want to buy the Supreme Court majority and threaten to pour millions of dollars into Gabelman's campaign from anonymous donors to defeat moderate Justice Louis Butler. Nice going, Tom Basting.
Paul Soglin braved the cold to picket WMC. [WMC called with a correction. Paul didn't make it to the picket line.] The signs read: "Don't let WMC Buy Our Court." I looked but did not see the Basting Commission or Tom himself on the picket line, nor did I see them testifying in favor of public funding and disclosure of money givers. We need real reform not a do-nothing commission.
I'm on Joy Cardin tomorrow. 8-9 on week in review--a lot to discuss.
February 13, 2008 What a night!
Some 20,000 people met at the Kohl Center to experience the Obama magic. Our Superdelegate Senators were not there; and no members of the House delegation. Why not? Even without endorsing him, they could have been there to welcome Barack. (Too clever by half for those who want to be wooed by the Clintons to rescue her flagging campaign?)
The NY Times reports Hillary has already ceded Wisconsin and will focus on Texas and Ohio. (I can only imagine how those who endorsed Hillary long before Iowa feel reading that news this morning.) The advisors surrounding Hillary are telling her what consultants always preach: "you gotta go negative--it is the only way to stop him." Let's hope she resists the impulse.
Maryland, Virginia, Nebraska, Washigtoon State and D.C. to name a few and the list goes on. Eight in a row by big margins.
Meanwhile, McCain looks like he is on a different planet.
Reform: It appears that campaign reform may happen soon. Hard to believe, but the system is so corrupt that even the corrupted are getting on board.
February 12, 2008 We had fun
Last night 250 supporters of Barack Obama came to the progressive party at Madison's Majestic Theatre. They gave more than $6,000; heard and danced to great music from VO5, and, had fun! Peg Lautenslager started the program and she warmed up the joint for John Nichols, Joe Parisi and the star of the evening, Congresswoman Gwen Moore. Gwen was on fire.
While some of us thought the arrival of Obama tonight would kill the event at the Majestic, it did the opposite.
Great organizing job by Vicky Selkowe. In Jim Hightower's new book he accuses the Bob Fest crowd of having fun. As he says, we "put the party back into the Party." Guilty as charged!
Primaries: D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Think about it. Maryland, one of the hard nuts to crack in the Civil Rights movement, will probably vote for a black man for president of the U.S. Amazing! Obama will appear tonight in Madison as the results in those three primaries come in. Should be a fun night.
February 11, 2008 Time to concede? Barack won 'em all--Washington, Louisiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Maine. Hillary can't slow down the momentum. If she loses Virginia and Wisconsin it's over.
She should take comfort. No one could have defeated Barack Obama in this year.
I'll be at the Majectic on King Street in Madison at 5:30 tonight discussing Superdelegates and other stuff. Should be fun, and that is what has been missing for seven years.
February 10, 2008 The listing ship
Read the following comments on so-called Superdelegates. The first from Barack Obama, winner of Nebraska, Louisiana, and Washington state yesterday. He believes delegates should follow the will of the voters.Howard Wolfson, communications director for Hillary Clinton responded, "It should be whoever [sic] they think would be the best president." Go ahead, Howard, finish the thought--experience trumps all things including the will of the people.
Behind the move to seat Florida delegates, despite the rules, not to mention Michigan, where only Hillary's name appeared on the ballot, is Harold Ickes, the general of the no-holds-barred Clinton race in 1992. One thing seems clear. Hillary is Bill, Bill is Ickes, Ickes is Carville. Win or take them down with you!
Here is the disaster unfolding before Howard Dean's eyes. Yes, the Howard Dean Ickes and the DLC torpedoed in 2000. The "reformer" and now chair of an evaporating Party that is setting itself up for defeat. If so-called Superdelegates snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Clinton, John McCain is the next president and Mike Huckabee the VP. Yikes!
What to do? Wisconsin must take the lead or renounce Bob LaFollette's legacy. Yes, Superdelegates must pledge to follow the results of the primary on the 19th. Must. Dave Obey is a Super Delegate. His book is entitled "Raising Hell for Justice." Paul Wellstone often said he was the "democratic wing of the Democratic Party." As are most of you. Memo to Obey--time to raise hell for democracy.
We should call on the Superdelegates in Wisconsin, (and it is hard to find out their names. Here are some: Steve Kagan, UW senior Awais Khaleel, Tammy Baldwin, Russ Feingold, Herb Kohl, Joe Wineke, Ron Kind, Gwyn Moore) to pledge to support the winner of our primary come hell or high water.
If Harold Ickes and the DLC hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton despite the popular vote then "turn out the lights the party's over."
February 9, 2008 Spare me
It is almost unbelievable but the Catholic Church, the church of my upbringing, is racing back in time to remind every Jew and Catholic that the Church has a disgraceful record in dealing with the Jewish faith. Centuries of holding Jews responsible for the death of Christ were momentarily altered by Pope John XXIII.
But that was John; we have Benedict. Hot news from Pope Benedict XVI, the Latin mass is back. The prayer, brought back with the Latin Mass, "calls on God to enlighten the hearts of Jews so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the Savior of all men." (No mention of women, so maybe they get a pass to heaven without acknowledging that Jesus is the Savior. Just lucky, or does the Pope think women will just go along to get along?)
In a classic understatement, carried in the NYT, conservative Rabbis issued a warning that the old/new prayer would "cast a harsh shadow over the spirit of mutual respect and collaboration...and make it more difficult for Jews to engage constructively in dialogue with Catholics." Gee. Think so? Just because your religion is placed in the ashcan? C'mon, why so sensitive?
Gates: The Europeans are confused about the mission in Afghanistan. Really? So are we. Hubris.
Feingold lectures Hillary and Barack. He wants them to deal with issues. (Probably not the key judiciary committee votes on neocon judges.) Hello Russ. The GOP has a candidate; Karl Rove will coordinate a campaign that would make Joe McCarthy blush; we are spending $275 million per day on Iraq. Barack and Hillary want out of Iraq, McCain would stay for 100 years and "never surrender."
That's enough for me. I hope Russ will lead a campaign to throw out the Super Delegates. They pose a greater threat to democrats and Democrats than some fuzziness on issues from Clinton and Obama.
February 8, 2008 Change is blowing in the wind
If you need proof that we need the Cap Times, read the Wisconsin State Journal editorials for a week. Today is no exception. The WSJcondemns Peg Lautenslager, again, for challenging the nuisance caused by a cranberry operation. Do they get this stuff through a pneumatic tube hooked up with WMC? Or do they just let the Farm Bureau write unsigned guest editorials?
It is not a question of whether the Cap Times experiment works, it is essential to a healthy intellectual atmosphere in Madison that it succeeds. I can't imagine this as a one-paper town.
The WSJ wrote, "This will end the era of two daily papers." No it won't. It ends the era of two printed papers but not the end of the Cap Times as a competitor.
I was privileged to emcee the 90th birthday celebration of the Cap Times in December. It was a celebration of substance. My off-hand comment that one reads the Cap Times for facts, the WSJ for fiction, probably offended a few but so what? That is, in part, the mandate from Evjue, John Patrick Hunter, and Elliot Mariness.
I got lots of calls, most began, "Did you hear the Cap Times is going out of business?" I can only surmise that the roll-out of the new approach raised more questions than it answered.
I'm reminded of a Pete Seeger song, "You can't scare`me I'm sticking with the union." Well, I'm sticking with the Cap Times. (Besides, the snow doesn't cover my computer.)
February 7, 2008 Where do I begin?
John McCain has a lock on his party's nomination in part because he supported the "surge," and Johnny says it is working! Don't you wonder what he is on? I'd like some.
GOP Senator John Warner, a former hawk, said yesterday, "By any fair standard the level of progress to date has fallen below expectations." Take that, John McCain. By any "fair standard." And the costs? Gates testified yesterday. He is asking for $685 billion for Defense--$170 billion for the occupation of Iraq and the nutty war in Afghanistan. Cost of these two mistakes? That's $275,000,000 per day and Gates said, and I'm not making this up, "I have no confidence in that figure." He is not warning that it will be less...that you can take to the bank.
How are things going in the land of Rummy, Wolfie and Cheney? Well, Cost of War says we have spent $492 billion; 700,000 Iraqis have been killed; almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed and 60,000 injured. And for that John McCain deserves the brass ring? Whoa Nelly!
Gates added that Afghanistan is half-again the size of Iraq with 3 million more people. So? Read carefully, Afghanistan is "under-resourced" and you know what that means. More money, more troops, more death. I can hardly wait to hear McCain's take on our "under-resourced" ally.
Dan Bice reports on a lawyer disciplined for using an inmate as a paralegal and claiming his work. Bice missed the rest of the story. The state of Wisconsin reimburses lawyers for public defender work $40 per hour--second lowest in the United States, blue or red. That is a disgrace and the Legislature should act. No, I'm not excusing the disciplined attorney.
February 6, 2008 What a night!
I'm not objective. FightingBob.com won't endorse, of course, but on a personal level, I support Barack. But whether you agree or you prefer Hillary, it was a hell of a night for Democrats. She won the popular vote by about 30,000; he won 14 states; she won California, he won New Mexico, Missouri, North Dakota, Colorado. Had he won California, it would be all over but the shouting.
The good news--both were civil; we have a real choice; it looks like a united Party will face a divided GOP. (Gotta admit--I get goose bumps thinking what Obama could do for this country.)
The primary reason was that Congress had not approved. The NYT quoted the governor of Alabama saying this is "the most consequential legal ruling in the 18-year history of the water war, and one of the most important in the history of Alabama." He seems happy.
I am not as happy. This means the prospect of Atlanta running out of water could happen sooner and Wisconsin still has not enacted the Great Lakes Compact. Georgia will look at Lake Michigan and ask us to share. Brace yourself. Message to Legislature: Get moving.
One other sour note--The Duluth-to-Wausau extension cord has been completed. Price--$440 million. JS reports that executives from ATC and WPS and the PSC participated in a ceremony to announce the completion. One can assume they enjoyed a toast or two at a local Club while the rate payers waited outside in the snow.
February 5, 2008 Words matter
I'm not sure what we would have done had Bill Moyers not returned to PBS, but he did. Thank goodness. Bill had Katherine Hall Jamison, Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, on his program last Friday, and she will be a frequent guest leading up to the November election.
She and Brooks Jackson, a truly nice guy, have a website, Factcheck.org that you will find useful. On Friday, Jamison pointed to a few words in that awful State of the Union address that make the point that words matter. Bush said the U.S. "may have a protective over watch mission" in Iraq. What does that mean and what, may we ask, is "protective over watch"?
The suspicion is that it is related to John McCain's latest rambling that people don't care how long we stay in Iraq, 100 years if necessary, they care about casualties. Now, what does that mean? Jamison muses it may be a signal that Bush will seek a long-term "treaty" to remain in Iraq, with or without permission, on an "overwatch" mission. Yikes!
Patriots--Lucky they didn't play the Packers. Now that Bobby Knight has retired at Texas Tech rumor (started here) is that Knight and Patriot coach Belichick will form a charm school. Just a thought.
I'm sure my parents voted for FDR, but I recall how upset they were over his attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court by increasing the number from 9 to 15. (FDR announcecd the plan on this day in 1937.) And, if the sitting justices did not retire at 70, they could be replaced. Republicans went wild. The plan died, but the Court changed direction and New Deal legislation suddenly passed constitutional muster.
Who is "packing" Wisconsin's Supreme Court? Yup, the conservatives who condemned FDR to the ashcan of history. WMC will pack our Court in a more insidious way. FDR was transparent. WMC operates in the shadows. He would have done it with legislation; WMC will do it the old-fashioned way--by buying it!
February 4, 2008 Wow!
Instead of watching the mind-numbing pre-Super Bowl program, we watched C-SPAN and saw what Andrew Rosenthal of the L.A. Times called "the most fantastic rally in 20 years of covering presidential campaigns."
It was held at UCLA and featured Michelle Obama, Oprah, Stevie Wonder (who fell off the platform with Michelle--no damage), Caroline Kennedy, and last but not least, Maria Shriver. It was a blast and it was an event other candidates could never duplicate--not in a hundred years.
Barack has the momentum and I think he will carry California. If he does, credit his wife and some incredible women who know how to put on a rally. Oprah said, "Some call me a traitor to women. I'm not a traitor, I am a free woman who has the right to choose." Good stuff.
Exxon: By any measure, the $40.6 billion in profits last year is worth noting--and worth raising hell over. NYT reported that the $404 billion in sales exceeded (I'm not making this up) the gross domestic product of 120 countries. Exxon Mobil earned $1,287 every second of 2007. All this while 2 million families nationwide face the loss of home, dreams, safety and pride. What the hell is going on? You may feel sorry for those families, but I weep for Chevron with a paltry $18.7 billion. It's tough being number two.
100 Years or more: The delusional John McCain is scrambling to explain his inexplicable comment that we could stay in Iraq for 100 years "because the surge is working, we are winning and the American people only care about casualties." When asked about it yesterday he said it is the wrong question to ask.
That cockamamie notion should knock him on his posterior. Speaking of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon finally, my friends, told us, my friends, that "total casualties through January 5, 2008, is 72,000." And, my friends, my friends, my good friends...well, you get the picture.
February 3, 2008 Corruption!
Can't say we were not warned. Bob and Phil La Follette, Justices Ryan in 1873, a unanimous Supreme Court in 2007, Gaylord Nelson, and Bill Proxmire all told us to be alert for special interest money distorting our issues and corrupting even the best of public officials. As they say in Green Bay, "and so?"
The answer is alarming. We know the guy who is poisoning the community well and how he is doing it; we know the pollution is injuring us; and our plan? Expand the well or filter the water. Isn't it time to nab the polluter?
Think about two stories this weekend. Should the DNR Secretary be appointed by the governor or the DNR Board? Good question. Scott Manley of WMC speaking for the polluters says let the governor appoint. Why? Spencer Black, good guy with white hat, responds business "wants the governor to be in charge because it's easier to exert influence and steer campaign contributions." Right on Spencer, but ain't it a shame? Our environment suffers because of special interest money. The governor should say, "Hey, them's fighting words!" He doesn't.
The other story--special interests out to steal our Court. The simplistic answer of WSJ--appoint them! Nuts to that. Finance them, publicly. Follow the recommendation of the Court not WSJ.
February 2, 2008 Birthday coming!
Hard to believe but FightingBob.com will celebrate our 5th birthday on February 23. OK, let's get it out of the way. How about a contribution? C'mon. You can do it. We have paid our way by passing the bucket at events, free help, and small contributions.
We are excited to announce that Jim Hightower will be our guest and will help us raise money in Stevens Point, Madison, and Milwaukee in early April. He will help raise money for Bob.com and you will have a chance to buy his new book. He devotes a chapter to the "politics of fun." (You know, Fighting Bob Fest and FB.com.)
Robson: They said the Senate coup to oust Judy Robson as Democratic leader was not about gender. OK, you threw our Person of the Year out for other reasons. But yesterday, as Senate Dems met to announce a new stimulus package, it looked odd. About seven white men, placing a smile on the faces of the highway boys, who also made it clear that nurse Robson was wrong in pushing so hard for a statewide smoking ban. Whoa Nelly! The only smile broader than the highway lobbyists's was on the face of the Tavern League. Now, why the coup?
February 1, 2008 Hot news!
Could use some in this long winter. Sit down before reading further, but Wal-Mart will not go to (ruin) Stoughton after all! Hooray and hallelujah. Christa Westerberg, in the vortex of this multi-year fight, called with the good news. Could it be that this community-wrecker is slowing down? Let's hope so.
Listening to McCain and Romney argue about bragging rights on Iraq is so other-worldly it nearly defies description. Sixty-four killed in Baghdad yesterday; two U.S. Soldiers killed, bringing the total to 3,943 and 39 in January. Ah, but brag the Bushies, only 599 civilians were killed in January! Violence is down. What's missing? How about resettlement of millions of homeless Iraqi civilians. Whoa Nelly!
McCain says stay for 100 years if necessary; the surge was "mine" and it is a success story. Yah, sure, Johnny. Mitt says he is as tough as McCain, and as pro-war as anyone. Ron Paul was the only one in touch with reality. "You guys arguing over who said what when is nuts. We are bankrupt. We never should have invaded because Iraq had no connection with 9-11." OK, Ron.
February 1, 1960--a life-changing event occurred. Four college students sat-in to demonstrate against segregated eating facilities in Greensboro, N.C., and the Civil Rights movement got a tremendous boost. Read this from the NYT archives: "The demonstrations were generally dismissed at first as another college fad of the 'panty-raid' variety...some whites wrote off the episodes as the work of outside agitators."
A few months later the UW Student Senate voted funds to bring a busload of Fisk University students to the UW campus to discuss the direct action movement. The enators stood and sang, "We shall overcome." Then my first picket sign as we protested on the square agasinst chain stores with segregated counters in the South.
Today, a black man might be elected president of the U.S. Those brave students in Greensboro started something.
"Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?" -Old Irish saying