August 31, 2010
Wall Street in revolt?
The NY Times is scary this morning: "Wall Street is deserting Obama," screams the header over Andrew Ross Sorkin's column in the business section. They loved Obama, funded his race for president, but now see him as a traitor to his "elites." They appear to be ready to join Beck's god squad.
Catch this: Sorkin says the Wall-Streeters take Obama's rejection personally. His support for regulation, was compared by one to Hitler's invasion of Poland! My god, Beck might be more like them than Obama ever was!
Here's the rub. Sorkin writes, "Mr. Obama was viewed as a member of the elite, an Ivy League graduate (Columbia, class of ’83, the same as Mr. Loeb), president of The Harvard Law Review — he was supposed to be just like them. President Obama was the 'intelligent' choice, the same way they felt about themselves." I think Sorkin got it right.
Get back to your supporters, Mr. President.
President Petraeus? When do we start to leave Afhanistan and who will decide?
Fighting Bob Fest--all set. Looking forward to answers and challenges from a tremendous list of speakers, breakout leaders and you.
August 30, 2010
Leave us alone!
In an interview in the MJS, right-winger Ron Johnson, a Republican who hopes to defeat Russ Feingold, said, "Conservatives just want to be left alone. The problem is liberals are not leaving us alone."
Don't you wonder what he is talking about? Maybe he is urging a continuation of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq so long as "conservatives" need not participate. Who really knows. To find out, we invited Johnson to the Fighting Bob Fest kick-off on September 10, along with Russ Feingold and the other Republican David Westlake. Thus far only Feingold has accepted.
Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. What a ticket! Think 2012. Beck's "god-o-rama" sounds more and more like a presidential fantasy trip for the two who would have us believe they are turning down their rhetoic to become the Trojan Horses of 2012. Ya, sure, and Rush Limbaugh is a moderate!
Fighting Bob Fest: All the booths are taken, but if you forgot to send in your form send us an email and we will try to help.
The countdown begins today; 9/11--Baraboo.
August 29, 2010
No less than a million!
Michele Bachman, the congresswoman who makes Sarah Palin look and sound like a Rhodes Scholar, was in her glory at the non-partisan, non-political god fest convened by Rupert Murdoch's paid clown, Glenn Beck. She hollered, "Don't let anyone say we had less than a million people at our event. We are witnesses!" In that case, I expect at least a million at Fighting Bob Fest on September 11. (Probably plus one.) Might get a little crowded, but with Bachman as our witness we will not need more porta-pots.
Who are the Koch brothers and why are they giving away so much money? Jane Mayer, in a brilliant article in the New Yorker, exposes the billionaires who are bankrolling the tea party, the Beck-o-rama in D.C., and lots of right-wing causes and candidates. While you didn't think the tea party was genuine, even the most cynical will be surprised by reading Mayer and Frank Rich. Rich writes, "There's one element missing from these snapshots of America's ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it" (and have been doing so all summer).
Both Rich and Mayer's articles are too good to summarize in a blog. Great reading and one can almost hear light switches going on all over America. Oksy, not at the Wall Street Journal or Fox News, but everywhere else.
These generous guys are at the center of climate-science denial (they have vast fossil business), but give generously to Sloan-Kettering cancer hospital. They are behind Sharron Angle and Joe Miller. Their daddy was among the Birch Society founders and leaders a generation ago. They pour money into the arts to mask their agenda. They want to be honored as "good corporate citizens."
What do we do about this avalanche of money flowing into our political process, our schools, the arts? How do we counter the god-squad of Beck-Palin? How do we protect our last hope of non-Murdochian communications, the internet?
We decide to fight! It is that simple. Fight and organize. Yes Fighting Bob Fest, but take it on the road. Raise money? Yes, but also raise hell about the corruption of our society. And we must not permit the theft of the Civil Rights movement by those who, had they gone to Selma, would have been on the other side of the bridge.
See you in Bababoo!
August 28, 2010
Glenn Beck or Paul Singer?
Which one is more harmful to our country? A silly goof on Fox television who mocks Martin Luther King with his nonsensical parade, or Paul Singer, the head of a $17 billion hedge fund who has contributed millions of dollars in support of candidates who agree that there is no need for regulation on Wall Street? Your vote is as good as mine, so you decide as we prepare for our progressive celebration in Baraboo to celebrate the progressive tradition of Wisconsin's Fighting Bob La Follette.
Singer has an agenda and if you take his money you had better toe his line or you are off the list. You must be anti-regulation of business, pro-Israel, and, surprisingly in favor of gay rights. Or else. No public disclosure but he has given more than $4.2 million to groups supporting gay rights. (Aha, so that is why gay-basher Ken Mehlman is out of the closet! Had to please this guy--the singer names the tune! Singer is active. He loaned his jet to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and he supports lots of individual candidates.
Singer, reports the paper of record, controls Elliott Management--the biggest source of money to the Republican National Senatorial Committee. He sponsored the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, And only he knows the full list of takers.
So, do you vote for Daddy WarBucks or goof-ball-Beck? I vote for singer because he is helping to destroy our country by eliminating our right to vote. He is the subversive, Beck is just a clown who will pass like Father Coughlin in a previous generation. But Singer will be around long time. With his bottomless wallet, he will join with Murdoch and other billionaires to take control of our elecoral process. It is already a nation of rich and poor--but just wait until Social Security, Medicare. unemployment compensation are killed by the greedy jerks. "We got trouble...right here is River City..."
Fighting Bob Fest: A true celebration of Dr. King will take place in Baraboo. See you on September 11. All the booths have been taken but if you forgot, check the FightingBobFest.org web site. There could be cancellations.
August 27, 2010
Not to worry! Take your time!
I am not objective but let me be clear. The ruling by Reagan-appointed federal judge Royce Lamberth that throws federal funding for embryonic stem cell research into confusion, is a travesty.
Some argue that the halt to stem cell researchers is "no big deal" because Judge Lamberth will probably be overturned. Don't bet your life on that b.s. I'll bet they did not ask those engaged in research, some on the virge of finding possible cures for autism, Parkinson's, and Lou Gehrig's disease, for their views on the impact this ruling will have on the ongoing search.
Politicians on the right donned party hats and applauded this activist Judge. Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, candidates for governor, jumped at the chance to please their party's right-to-life ideologues. If either one is elected governor, you can safely take Wisconsin out of the race for cures. Top researchers would bail out of Madison in a hurry. Private funding would stop. Rather serious consequences even if you only look at the economic impact. At a minimum, the ruling wastes precious time for those with the diseases.
I am more than a little interested in the work at the Waisman Center and in labs all over the world seeking answers. So you know my bias, our daughter was diagnosed at an early age with autism and I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's. So our interest in the research is rather intense. When researchers tell us that a cure is possible, it has a significant impact on our family.
Barrett summed it up: "If extremists like Scott Walker get their way, the rollback on stem cell research will continue and the hope of a cure for those suffering from diabetes, Parkinson's and other diseases will be snuffed out for purely idealogical reasons." Barrett promised that if elected governor, "scientists and researchers--not politicians--will drive our research."
Tom Barrett makes sense.
August 26, 2010
Imagine that Ike is president and has recently proposed what is now known as the interstate highway system. Had Scott Walker been around he would have given this opinion to Ike:
"Dear Mr. President: I am opposed to the so-called interstate highway system you propose. We, in Wisconsin, are very happy with our highways and feel that there is no need to travel outside Wisconsin. We have milk, honey, cheese and plenty of beef. Those wishing to purchase some of our goods are capable of accepting delivery without traveling on expensive roads.
"We are interested to follow the lead of Los Angeles--a city that is taking out all trolley lines. We think they have the right idea--a family sedan for every American not noisy trolleys.
"Be well, Mr. President. Thanks for your help in defeating Hitler. Greatly appreciate your help.
"Sincerely, yours in Beautiful Wisconsin, Scott Walker
"P.S. The idea you propose might also interfere with our happy state by encouraging outsiders, from other states--perhaps even from other countries--to drive to our Eden. It has been stated that Karl Marx stressed the importance of transportation systems--his ilk may be behind your plan. We can't be too careful. We lost China and we could lose Milwaukee."
So, Mr. President, put that money back in the taxpayer's pocket. We need more roads but not those going out of state. Stay home! We are happy here and don't want foreigners--some might not even be Christian--driving Willy-nilly around our state.
Forward to stem cell research: And embryonic stem cell research! My lord, what will they think of next? Killing embryos! For what? To save a few people with fatal disease? Prayer in church not death in the lab should be the best approach. Soon you will have death squads roaming the halls of hospitals. Enough! Neuman and Walker say death to research! Vote for life! Vote for ignorance!
August 25, 2010
Where to begin?
One of the announcers, hired by the Brewers to bring the same level of objectivity to the Brewers' on-field pursuits as Fox News brings to the "news" in general, asked on air, without laughing out loud, "Have you noticed that He is more humble now than He was before the statue was unveiled?" The "He" is Bud Selig.
As the Milwaukee Symphony played in the background, the 7-foot statue of Bud was unveiled in front of Miller Park. Standing between the statues of Robin Yount and Hank Aaron, is Bud, for eternity or until the Brewers win the World Series, whichever comes first, will be Bud Selig, coat, tie, and baseball in hand. He will watch through the bronze as the taxpayers, who gave Bud the venue, moved Highway 41, tore down County Stadium, gave Bud parking, concession revenue and naming rights, will file past in anonymity. Not even the guy who pushed the stadium authorization through the Legislature in the middle of the night, Tommy Thompson, will be remembered. But Bud? You betcha. (I think a 12-foot bronze of Tommy or George Petak would make more sense if Bud gets 7 feet, but no one asked me. Surprise surprise.)
Catch this Fox News-like moment reported in the newspaper in Milwaukee, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that hired lobbyists to push the tax-payer funded monument:
"Some in the baseball community have called him the greatest commissioner in history," and, reports the MJS, the "greatest commissioner" comment was repeated several times during the celebration at the great unveiling. Repeated by those, it must be noted, who were invited to speak. Did the reporter think an angry fan would be invited to comment on the Brewers' rather pathetic season? Or comment on the idiotic revenue distribution in baseball that will defeat the Brewers for as long as Bud, Robin and Henry stand tall at the monument to idiotic government spending. For Fox sake!
The reporter concluded with this gem. Without the Brewers we would be Omaha! "Braun, Bogut or Bach..." the community must be served! Save us, Bud. Don't stop now! Build a new home for the Bucks for your pal Herb Kohl--get the taxpayers to foot the bill, make a bronze for Herb...
August 24, 2010
Good news. We will honor Doris "Granny D" Haddock at Fighting Bob Fest. Friends and family members of Granny D's will drive to Madison for the kick-off on Friday the 10th and on to Baraboo on the 11th. The Raging Grannies will dedicate their performance to the memory and inspiration of this remarkable woman.
With us or them? Kenneth Feinberg had to know someone would ask: "If you're not with BP and you're not with the government, who are you with?" The response from the nation's leading mediator that "my decisions are strictly my own" might not satisfy everyone. But it should be noted that no one has questioned Feinberg's integrity. Not bad for openers.
Fighting Bob Fest is around the corner. Nearly all booth space has been claimed and I urge you to go to the booths page at FightingBobFest.org and check out the informative and sometimes humorous commentary. A good read.
August 22, 2010
Volunteers need not apply
If you are in charge of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, identify yourself and, as my mother instructed, be quick about it. Elections are a just a few weeks off. There isn't much time to change course.
There is a Feingold re-election campaign, a hot race for lieutentant governor, 70 or so Assembly races, and, I almost forgot, we have a gubernatorial contest. They are anything but coordinated. Lots of individuals with their own agendas, their own get-out-the-vote plans, all raising money from the same people.
Is the Democratic Party involved? Not much! The party no longer selects candidates, no longer trains them, no longer gives them a platform. We have, in essence, electoral anarchy. If there is influence it comes primarily from special interests. The Democratic Party has lost the playbook. While the costs of education soar, property taxes continue to escalate despite falling real estate values, unfair taxes persist, payday loans thrive, and unemployment staggers all of us but particularly African-Americans, Democrats are urged, cajoled, begged to give money to candidates in a system that ignores them on the issues except for one: money raising. And we know that campaigns are now so expensive that your $50 or $100 or $200 contributions are meaningless. And when the dust clears, the new incumbents will listen to special interests not the one-time $50 contributors.
What has happened to politics in Wisconsin as we approach the November elections is downright scary. The activists are getting a bit long-in-the-tooth and can't figure out a useful role because their only contact with electoral politics comes in the form of a request for money or a request to sponsor a fundraiser! They are not asked to get involved in campaigns. The expensive campaigns only want paid staff. Volunteers are not as dependable.
Seniors on fixed incomes can't afford to pledge thousands of dollars to contribute to candidates they don't know. Why should working people continue to contribute money to people who ignore their plight once elected?
Young people are, for the most part, not interested and are not recruited because they are not likely to give big contributions. The Democratic Party has gone underground or so it seems. The Democratic Party of Gaylord Nelson, RFK, and Hubert Humphrey has "matured into a "job fair." Over night.
Gone are the big plans--the war on poverty is a distant memory. The commitment to decent wages for migrant workers died with Caesar Chavez. Enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment, once a Democratic Party crusade, is a foggy memory. Civil Rights? A better chance the 14th Amendment will be repealed than there is hope for equality.
So we hope that wealthy people will run and finance their own campaigns. Whoa Nelly!
If a party tells its members that the only thing they can do is give money the party dies.
August 21, 2010
Tort reform and BP
The assault on the civil justice system by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the national Chamber of Commerce, and Republicans seeking to blame someone for costly medical tests, have invested heavily in the notion that if we simply neuter the damned lawyers then malpractice would disappear, unneeded tests would go away, runaway juries in manufacturing cases would be a thing of the past....Well, you know the arguments.
The main argument goes something like this: Medical costs have sky-rocketed because of malpractice law suits; most suits are frivolous but force hospitals and doctors to order unnecessary tests to protect themselves from these baseless suits. Logic is missing, but that matters not. And juries are not to be trusted!
Just as the WMC types make a little progress, truth gets her boots on just in time to take a look at BP. We have been assaulted by BP ads and TV spots assuring us that BP, a good corporate citizen, won't rely on defending lausuits it will voluntarily pay $20 billion, and will not rest until the Gulf is cleaned up. Trust us! We are your neighbors and we are committed. How deep is our commitment? Twenty billion dollars! How about that? Well, now the details are leaking out and it looks like BP might have stolen Barack's watch while the negotiations moved on.
Turns out there is a lot of fine print in the BP offer. For example, victims must settle all or get nothing. Take money from BP and you must waive all claims against Halliburton, Trans Ocean, and all others. (Halliburton? Whoa Nelly!) If a claimant got paid to clean up the mess, any monies paid to him will be deducted from a lump sum payment. It is likely that people who have been injured will get a hat full of oil.
Where must the victims go? One guess: the much-maligned tort lawyers who can pool resources to take on bully BP.
OK. I must ask. Who negotiated this deal for the administration?
August 20, 2010
Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, is under indictment for the mortal sin of lying to Congress about steroids. Apparently it is rare indeed for anyone to lie to Congress. Okay, okay, the tobacco executives who stood, raised right hands, and swore tobacco is not addictive might have been guilty of a little-white-lie or "fibs" as we labeled them as kids. Anyone else? BP, or Goldman, Sachs or AIG? Nah! Little fibs.
Now pardon my cynicism, but what was the Tillman story again? The government "and the NFL secretly arranged for Tillman to return to the NFL without fulfilling his commitment to the army." He refused, went to Afghanistan, was killed, eulogized by President Bush, and hailed as a hero. The film The Tillman Story comes out this weekend. The film shows a "cynical chain of command that lied to the family and used their son as a propaganda tool."
And Roger Clemens did what? And Bill O'Reilly? And Fox gives $1 million to the Republican Governors? (Jon Stewart said it best: The Republicans should be paying Fox, not the other way around!)
And Clemens might go to prison? And we did not torture prisoners? Congressional leaders who take money by the buckets tell us that money does not influence their votes. The military made up the story of Pat Tillman leading a charge to kill Taliban, and O'Reilly is naive, and...so it goes.
August 19, 2010
A story in today's NY Times under the heading "Mexico: Mayor's Body Found" grabbed my attention.
The article said, "The body of a small-town mayor who was kidnapped Sunday was found dumped by the side of a road on Wednesday. The mayor, Edelmiro Cavazos, had been fighting corruption in the police force of his town, Santiago." How would you like to be put in charge of finding a candidate to run for mayor in Santiago, Mexico, to replace mayor Cavazos?
Recent stories from Mexico suggest that the government is re-thinking its war on drugs. Why? Almost 29,000 have been killed in the war to take control of the country back from the drug gangs, and violence is increasing not decreasing.
Why is the battle occurring on our border to the south? Because the demand from Americans for illegal drugs is so great that criminals will do anything to get a piece of the action. Millions, perhaps billions, of dollars are flowing south to Mexico to purchase the drugs. Drug gangs are not only winning, they are replacing governments in Guatemala, El Salvador and parts of Mexico. They are running hospitals, schools and performing other governmental jobs.
What is our response? Build walls and send arms to kill the gang leaders. Guess what? Prohibition didn't work nor will the war on drugs. It is time to legalize drugs, educate people about the dangers, and stop lying to our citizens that a "surge" into the Mexican drug war will be successful. It is time to put the drug gangs out of business. Yes, some people will become addicted. Some people get drunk on whiskey. We can try to force people to follow the law but we can't work miracles.
ZWEIFEL: His post today is right on the money. Read, weep, and come to Baraboo to develop a plan of attack.
August 18, 2010
Can we be heard above the din?
Lots and lots of noise. As many as 11 million people in Pakistan face mass starvation and death by water-born disease, economic and political collapse, near-total destruction of the country's farmland, and the water is still rising! How are we helping the victims? Well, I imagine we are doing for Pakistan what we are doing in Haiti. Don't hear much about Haiti anymore--problems must have been solved. What will we do if another Katrina hits us?
Incredible fires in Russia, heat waves in northern Europe, 100,000 square miles of ice floating around looking for a place to land. Not to worry.
One thing, on the positive side, is the miraculous disappearance of most of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Poof! Gone! Huzzah!
And we know how to test seafood for contamination from dispersants or oil. It is the old-fashioned milk bottle "smell test." I kid you not. Sniff raw seafood. If it smells like Windex, we are told to discard it. (Don't take it back to the store.) If there is no odd smell, eat it in confidence. If you eat it and get sick, do not blame BP--hell's bells, they are doing all they can. Just because your sniffer is on the blink is no reason to point fingers at poor old BP.
Just think of the positive economic impact from the hiring of hundreds of lobbyists by BP!
Cape Cod waterways are facing a pollution crisis, with many ponds and estuaries threatened by rising nitrogen levels, says NY Times. Damn it! Why can't we remain focused on the Muslims in New York? C'mon folks, look at the real issues--global warming is silly. Burning more coal is the answer.
Fighting Bob Fest: Nearly all booths have been taken--we have a few available but act now. Check the Bob Fest site for the list. If you can spare $25, please send it to us. Thanks.
The schedule will be sent out today to all who have registered. Jesse Jackson, John Nichols, Thom Hartmann, Laura Flanders, Greg Palast, Jim Hoghtower Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore--this [romises to be the best yet, See you in Baraboo!
Check out the article about the Mott strike in NY Times. Wonder why workers are angry? Read and weep.
August 17, 2010
Wisconsin in the spotlight
President Obama came to Wisconsin, a state he should carry with ease in two years if the past is prologue, but the president's visit was not exactly spectacular. Tom Barrett, according to the NY Times, "sought to emphasize his own independent credentials" even as he introduced the president at a Barrett fundraiser. He said, "If you are looking for the ideologue in this race, it's not me." Who asked? Is there one?
Barrett went on to say, as if someone had posed a question, "The problems of this state will not be solved by bumper-sticker slogans."
This is an odd year. I am eager to rejoin the progressives at Fighting Bob Fest in just a few weeks. This is no time for caution. The Tea Party folks are out in full bloom. Like you, I am proud to call myself progressive. Ideologue? See you in Baraboo.
Kaz Oshiki passed away a few months ago. He was Bob Kastenmeier's chief of staff for many years. A wonderful person who made every visitor to Bob's office feel special. A celebration of his extraordinary life will be held Saturday August 21 at St. John's Lutheran Church in Madison, 322 East Washington Avenue, at 2:00. Kaz is missed. Simply stated he was special.
August 16, 2010
Say again, General Petraeus?
I am not kidding. General David Petraeus said yesterday, "I did not come to Afghanistan to preside over a graceful exit." Oh, really General. Tell us, or Wikileaks, why you did go to Afghanistan. "To do everything possible to achieve our objectives," according to the NY Times.
Who sent you or are you in charge? He suggests, (warns) that he might come out in opposition to Obama's plan to begin that "graceful exit." You recall that Obama is Commander-in-Chief? What has changed? the General finally has the resources he has needed. In the last few weeks, the General "has everything in place to finish the job. Remind you of the Fog of War? Reminds me.
Victory is just around the corner...honestly. "He expressed his confidence despite the fact that every phase of the war is going badly," we are told.
Our general declined to discuss the status of Karzai or his brother except to assure us that Karzai "is the elected leader of a sovereign country." Other insights were buried.
Bice: Suggest you read MJS today as Dan Bice tells us about the plans of Nick Hurtgen and Gary George to be set free. Fascinating reading.
P.S. I'll bet the president's press secretary is really angry with David!
I am eager for Fighting Bob Fest to get under way. We, the so-called "professional left" had better get our ducks in a row.
August 15, 2010
In a word
Take a moment to reflect on our progressive heritageand then try to figure out if you (we) are "using" the progressive label to hide your (our) communist thoughts, as Glenn Beck charges. Or would you agree with Robert Gibbs that attendees at Fighting Bob Fest should be drug-tested? Take this you lefty ingrates! Gibbs exploded--"You will only be satisfied when we have Canadian health care" (got a problem with dat?). Donna Smith of the California Nurses and part of the film Sicko, will speak at Bob Fest September 11 on the fight for universal healthcare. Don't tell Gibbs or the Journal Sentinel!
And, apparently, we won't rejoice "until we eliminate the Pentagon." (A good start, I'd say.) Gibbs, the public face of this administration, said we would not be satisfied even if "Dennis Kucinich was president."
Well, we have been honored by having Dennis appear at two Fighting Bob Fests, so I suppose Gobbs is not too far off the beam. Bernie Sanders, one of our favorites who electrified Bob Fest attendees twice, is a Socialist! Yikes. Must we declare? Where is Joe McCarthy when needed?
And Maureen Dowd in what can be described as a snippy column, labels Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow and the blogosphere as the "lefty tower of babble." She tells us that "the word progressive is meaningless." Worse. Calling yourself progressive "is just a stupid disguise" used to paper-over the fight between the radicals and the liberals.
Oh my goodness. I like the word progressive and it belongs to us. Not to Dowd or Al From or Karl Rove. Dowd would have us believe she is one of us because she questions Papal infallibility. Some radical that Dowd.
Ah, finally, Dowd and Gibbs agree: There is a "professional left" that would bring down our president at the drop of a hat. Such crap. If you see someone from the professional left, call us immediately. They are as difficult to find as snow leopards. Really.
Come to Fighting Bob Fest--and yes, i think we need shirts proclaiming that we are proud to be progressives. Don't know what it means? Come to Fighting Bob Fest and you will know. As a Supreme Court Justice once said, "You will know it when you see it."
Suddenly we are communists.
My, my Maureen. Calm down.
August 14, 2010
Prefect of The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
No less. Who knew such a hifalutin office existed? Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who caused quite a stir by ordering office-holders who were Catholic to stop receiving the sacraments if they support a woman's right to choose. And, needless to say, he ordered Catholics to vote against the office holders and candidates who defied Burke. No doubt he had similar views on birth control, but no matter. We were so pleased Burke left La Crosse to become Archbishop of St. Louis we volunteered to help him pack for his journey down the Mississippi. He declined.
It didn't take long for the reactionary Burke to find trouble or "opportunity" to move up on the Pope's list of favorites. He demanded that the members of a parishioner-owned church, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, to close its doors and turn over the keys (and the equity) to the archbishop.
No thank you was the response, and on Christmas Eve a few years ago, Burke threatened all parishioners with excommunication if they attended mass celebrated by a defiant young priest, Marek Bozek, a recent arrival from Poland. A standing-room-only crowd of "sinners" filled the church and gave a standing ovation to Bozek as he walked down the aisle.
Now Burke is about as happy with Bozek as Madison's bishop is with the sinners in Wisconsin's capital. But Burke has moved up in the Church. (See title in the headline.) He is now the highest judicial authority in the church. In December 2005, he ruled that the defiance constituted a "schism." Oh, no, not a schism! Yes, ruled the Vatican and rising star Burke, in his new capacity in Rome, affirmed Archbishop Burke's order of excommunication. Surprise, surprise Burke rules for Burke! And the Pope got in the swing of things--laiczed priest Bozek (whatever that means).
Meanwhile, the Archbishop and Appolistolic Signatura Burke is suing the parish to take control of the property worth several millions of dollars.
Unbelievable? Not really, the church in Madison has ruled that birth control is covered in its new insurance policy, but if Catholic employees use the benefit they are subject to dismissal. Ouch.
You must read the whole story in today's New York Times. Yikes!
August 13, 2010
Sports on my mind
What do you say when you meet a genius? "Hi, genius"? And what can you say when that genius passes on? "Thanks for sharing"?
I spent many years in sports and I met two geniuses. Bill Veeck and David Dixon. Veeck died years ago; Dixon two days ago. Both had a lasting impact on the sorts they loved. (See Dixon's obit in NY Times today.)
Veeck and Dixon were, above all else, decent human beings. Both would scoff at the NHL decision a few years ago to cancel an entire season just to prove a point. They took chances, they worked both sides, they had plans, they wanted to entertain fans and they did.
Thanks David--hell of a ride. You made it interesting!
What? A Republican intellectual? No, Paul Ryan, media darling, man selling old wine in new bottles or vice-versa. Ryan can't seem to understand that most Americans were not born to wealth. Most Americans need Social Security and Medicare. Most Americans do not have off-shore holdings to shield them from taxes. Most Americans are not wealthy. Most Americans...oh, never mind. More later.
August 12, 2010
Confused? Join the Group!
Fighting Bob La Follette described money in politics as "evil" and he didn't even know about the legal machinations on behalf of friendly sounding front groups like "Club for Growth," "One Wisconsin Now," "Right to Life," or "Americans for Prosperity." Those groups were not even born in the La Follette era.
These fronts, organized and paid for by millionaires, billionaires, church groups and ideologues, keep smart and comfortable lawyers stabled, like thoroughbreds before the Derby, ready to ride into any court, anywhere to protect the front groups, privatizers and military hawks behind the banner of the First Amendment. Names like Bopp and Wittenwyler become known because of the lawsuits they bring on behalf of the folks who say they are afraid to speak on their own behalf. (Such timid people. They will pay to destroy candidates, but only in the shadows!) There could be repercussions!
"No precedent? No problem." They look for a judge anywhere at any level to holler "freedom of speech" the minute anyone tries to take back our democracy from the Gordon Geckos of America.
It is obvious that only insiders can follow the money. The Government Accountability Board settles with some not all; federal judge might; State Supreme Court asked to delay. Only the wealthy can keep up. You know, the people with the barn full of lawyers.
Stay tuned. On September 11 in Baraboo you will hear from John Bonifaz, Mike McCabe, and, I have a hunch Jesse Jackson and Jim Higtower might have views on this subject, too. Should be fun!
August 11, 2010
Climate change? C'mon!
The headline is one you will remember...Where were you when you read that a 100-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Greenland?
If the freshwater reservoir in Greenland were to collapse, global sea levels could rise 20 feet! Think about that, and ask what in the world is Congress waiting for? Incredible fires in Russia, floods in Asia (the floods in Pakistan will decide that country's future--not the CIA).
What do we do? See you in Baraboo on September 11--Fighting Bob Fest--come armed with ideas.
August 10, 2010
Welcome to the cattle call
I can't recall the exact date when I heard of a new Tommy Thompson-sponsored program in education calling for school vouchers, but I do recall my immediate reaction. (Some would say "cynical response.") I said that if Tommy and his Tonto, Jim Klauser, are in favor of a program "to help minority parents" by giving them more money to spend on education, then cover your wallet!
That was long ago, and my advice today is the same, although my warning goes not to the departed Thompson/Klauser quinella but to the Obama administration's "overhaul of our failing schools."
More than $3.5 billion of federal financing is available "for school turnarounds"--28 times the amount as in 2007. Arne Duncan is the Klauser of the administration offering simple answers to complex questions. Catch these words to live by: "We need everyone who cares about public education to get into the business of turning around our lowest-performing schools. That includes states, districts, nonprofits, for-profits, universities, unions and charter organizations."
Ohio State had a "vendor fair" for those offering solutions to school problems. "It was like a cattle call," said one attendee. Snake oil, perhaps?
What seems obvious is that any plan has a chance to be funded whether or not the entity has any credentials or experience.
It seems obvious that the "plan" is really no plan. It is throw the stuff against the wall and something will stick. I think we need more than an Arne Duncan grab-bag to take on our failing school challenge.
August 8, 2010
GRITtv host Laura Flanders will join us for the Fighting Bob Fest Kickoff on Friday night, September 10, at the Barrymore in Madison. There was a time when the Kick-off welcomed just a few speakers and a chance to raise some money and promote the the next day's Fest. Now we have quite a kick-off program--Greg Palast, Laura Flanders, Jim Hightower, Thom Hartmann, Senator Russ Feingold and more. Plan to get to the Barrymore early! And like the old days, we will pass the bucket, so bring some cash.
I will join you for a beer. Better yet, let's give Hightower the first crack at buying a beer.
Elizabeth Warren, please! We want her to be the consumer advocate so, Mr. President, give us a break. Appoint her now!
The oil has disappeared! Huzzah!
Whew! Mother Nature has apparently been hired by BP. One day we were anticipating a long-term disaster, but the oil has magically disappeared! Where did it go? Don't bother asking questions. Just come to the shore and enjoy. As for BP's pledge to clean up--they will, of course, if there is anything to clean up!
Bob Fest: Lots of calls for tables at Fighting Bob Fest; money starting to trickle in, volunteers signing up. We need you loud and clear. Hate to imagine the Tea Party claiming the progressive banner in Wisconsin--not gonna happen!
August 7, 2010
A great start
My day began with this stunning headline: "Greenspan Calls for Repeal of all the Bush Tax Cuts." Hard to beat that one.
Then we announced that Laura Flanders, host of GRITtv, will join us at Fighting Bob Fest. Should be a good day.
August 6, 2010
Send Ryan to Denver
Among the great fibs heard in my lifetime, such as "ethanol is the answer to all our energy needs," I add Paul Ryan's "Road map for America's Future." Paul Krugman correctly identifies Ryan as the Flimflam Man, and Krugman proves his case. "Ryan is the Republican poster-child for new ideas," Krugman writes. His Roadmap is supposed to give us a "major overhaul of federal spending and taxes."
Ryan has been described as "intellectually audacious." If so, Krugman modifies it by calling it "the audacity of dopes."
Simply stated, Ryan's plan cuts taxes for the well-off, eliminates increases in domestic spending, inflation or no inflation, and gives vouchers to seniors instead of Medicare. Seniors, buy your own insurance. (Sounds like Newt.) But don't take my word for it, read Krugman's column in today's NYT.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH. The brilliant privatizers are always coming up with cute plans that will ease the burden of taxing the rich and the corporations. Denver, in desperate need of money in 2008, bought into a complex funding plan that would make Bernie Madoff blush. The result? Denver is deeply in debt and there is no solution in sight. Denver might be better off its leaders had listened to their parents when they warned, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."
The front page NY Times story on the Denver Schools desperate gamble is must reading. "To avoid mounting expenses the Denver schools are looking to renegotiate the deal. But to unwind it all, the schools would have to pay the banks $81 million in termination fees." Whoa Nelly! The system is breaking down and it ain't pretty.
Almost unnoticed is the Iraqi Crud. Hundreds of service members "have fallen ill--poisoned by the thick, black smoke produced by the burning of tons of trash generated on U.S. bases." Kellog, Brown & Root is being sued for the so-called burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports the Washington Post. What's burning? "Plastic water bottles, styrofoam food containers, mangled bits of metal, paint, solvent, medical waste, dead animals. The garbage is doused with fuel and set on fire." (I'm not making this up.)
One man said, "You'd cough up black stuff and you couldn't catch your breath, and your eyes were burning." The taxpayers thank you, Brown & Root!
August 5, 2010
The Reverend Jesse Jackson
Jackson Action. We are all excited to welcome Reverend Jesse Jackson to Fighting Bob Fest. Jesse has been in battles for civil rights, workers rights and women's rights for more than 50 years, and we will honor him at Bob Fest 9.
From the student-led sit-ins in Greenville, South Carolina, to the factory shutdown in Kenosha, the Reverend Jackson has been in the thick of the battle for social and economic justice.
The news of Jackson's acceptance of our invitation spread quickly. There can be no doubt that his speech will spark a lively discussion in Baraboo.
Volunteers Needed: As the September 11 Fest date approaches, we need volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, from driving the speakers to Baraboo from the airport to registration. We need another 50 volunteers. Don't wait. We need you now.
Same sex marriage: The federal court knows discrimination when it sees it. "Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest." Huzzah! Celebrate! Enjoy! And congratulations to arch-conservative Ted Olsen and liberal David Boies, the odd-couple who took on the challenge. Catch this line: "Prop 8 fails to advance any rational basis for singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license." Exciting stuff. (Take that, James Bopp.)
The Bob Fest break-out session on "Israel-Palestine, A progressive View" will be well attended. Given the turmoil in the region it will be hard to resist.
It is time to pre-register and donate: $25, please.
August 3, 2010
They never sleep
The monied interests in our country that get the tax breaks and bail-outs, own the media and seldom join the Armed Forces to risk life and limb in wars they approve of prefer to operate in the shadows, often behind nice sounding names such as "Club for Growth." They would like to keep the funding of their speech a secret. You are not to be told where money comes from in their effort to elect politicians who follow their agenda. Is that warm and fuzzy TV spot paid for by BP, Target, Goldman Sachs or by a candidate? None of your business, holler the money-boys. None of your business.
It is ironic that the law firm founded by Phil La Follette is suing the Government Accountability Board because the Board thinks you have a right to know who is behind this nonsense, and that they should, as the name implies, be accountable. The citizen should not be the victim of a three-shell carney game. We should know who is paying to help us decide if the TV spot is a trick or treat.
Ah, say the folks who own the talk shows, cable systems and networks, the First Amendment is too delicate a flower to be tested by shining light on the buds. Nonsense. One Wisconsin Now (OWN) has been duped by those who already own Wisconsin. (Read the complaint online.)
Fighting Bob wrote, "Money is the instrument of evil...it corrupts the electorate." Indeed! And they never sleep.
August 2, 2010
Pahhleeze, Governor Palin
Sarah Palin said it. "Governor Brewer of Arizona has [close your eyes--get the kids out of the room] the Cajones to take on immigration." But President Obama does not have them! Remember the threat of "death squads"? Do you think Palin will start "cajones" squads? The line from I married an Axe Murderer comes to mind: "pants down!"
Sure, 1,900 Dutchmen are no match for 50,000 Frenchmen, but the Dutch are the first NATO country to pull out of Afghanistan.
Censors at work. No, I am not thinking about NSA. I am reading a Washington Post report that the illegal drug squads are dictating to the media which stories to report and which ones to bury. Nuevo Laredo, a city of 360,000, has three TV stations, four daily newspapers, and five radio stations. None mentioned a recent gigantic gun battle because the gangs told them not to! Drug smugglers are censoring the news, and sometimes creating news--if the people at the news outlets don't follow orders they are killed.
Question for Bill Bennett and the Obama administration: How are we doing in the U.S. war on drugs? Is it time to consider drastic action? What do you think?
What's that in my Fruit Loops? Can't tell me? Why not? No one seems to know!
Unbelievable. There is a big recall of cereal but no one is saying why, although the industry is admitting there is a peculiar smell in the box.
Did you know (I certainly did not) that there are 80,000 chemicals on the U.S. market, and 62,000 of them are exempt from the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act?
There is a huge gap in government knowledge about chemicals, says the Post. Good Lord. But not to worry. The cereal industry tells us that everythong is fine. Need more info? Call BP.
August 1, 2010
I didn't really enjoy it. You?
Wisconsin State Journal: I have never liked the Wisconsin State Journal. Always biased in the wrong direction, it has now gone completely over the hill. Take a look at the Sunday front page coverage of Ron Johnson, candidate for Senate. The story by Clay Barber would be over the top as a campaign piece. Fox news would blush.
A few treats to save you some time: Johnson rolled into town for a Q&A at, catch this, "the tony Madison Club." (As far as I know, the major achievement of the "tony" Madison Club was a white-males only policy for years...and, yes, they expelled Fighting Bob LaFollette for opposing the U.S. entry into WW I.)
The "article" went on to say, "his responses were quick and confident....with his media team in tow...the latest rock star of the Republican Party [others Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman?]..."it was a nuanced, if unspectacular, performance without a misstep."
You should know this Tea Party ideologue thinks health care for all is a disaster; corporations are over-regulated; and taxes for the wealthy are too high. Read the interview and know why Madison needs two newspapers!
Fighting Bob Fest
In about a month, thousands of you will gather at our favorite outdoor café to laugh, applaud, and plan for the future. Yes, Jim Hightower will be back. (Could we hold one without him? Possibly but it would be less fun.)
Thom Hartman, heard on more than 100 radio stations, seen often on Free Speech TV, prolific writer and progressive, will join us Friday night for the Bob Fest Kick-off at the Barrymore, and on Saturday from the main stage. His most recent book: Threshold: The Progressive Plan to Pull America Back from The Brink. Hightower commented that Hartmann has " big answers to the BIG questions."
Donna Smith, nurse organizer, will raise hell and hope as she lays out plans for better health care. Dave Obey will return to center stage to discuss, among other things, Afghanistan. Russ Feingold will speak at the Barrymore Friday night as will Greg Palast. Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore will share their views on Saturday, September 11.
The Raging Grannies will honor our deceased hero Doris Granny D Haddock. David Couper will bring a special touch on the issue of values. Couper, once police chief in Madison, now a minister, will stir the passions. Mike McCabe, superstar of campaign reform, will join John Bonifaz in taking on the Scalia-Alito Court on Citizens United. Daniel Kuenene, our favorite poet, will read at the Barrymore and part of a new play, "I, Nixon" will be performed on Friday the 10th.
Stan Gruszynski is back. And our special honored guest is the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
You don't know Tom Geoghegan? You will. A great mind not spoiled by Harvard.
Check the Bob Fest site often for updates and much more detail.
We are almost ready--see you in Baraboo.