July 31, 2012
That Romney is something else
A Palestinian official summed up Romney rather nicely: "The man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding." (I would add common sense, but who asked?)
I listen to Romney and the movie Being There comes to mind. The challenged Gardiner, Chauncey, is declared a genius because no one knows what he means when he talks. Same with Romney: "Michigan, where the trees are the right height." Israel and Palestine, where Jewish culture gives them a leg up on the Palestinians. Yikes! But how about Romney sitting through a celebration of the British National Health Service. Romney, cheering the health care in Israel because only 8 percent of GDP goes to health care there but 18 percent in the U.S.
He really doesn't get it! But he did pick up the endorsement of Lech Walesa (sounds like sell-out).
Yippee! "The Conversion of a Climate Change Skeptic." The Koch brothers have been funding research to deny that climate change is the result of man made pollution. The Koch's leading researcher has now written an op-ed piece for the Times recanting. Read the article as homework before Bill McKibben speaks at Fighting Bob Fest on September 15.
We can also confirm that former Congressman and Governor ofLouisiana, Buddy Roemer, will speak at Fighting Bob Fest. We are delighted that the governor will speak. and, Dr.Jill Stein, Green Party candiate for president will also speak. Add these to Jim Hightower, Mahlon Mitchell, Greg Palast, Mike PapantonioGwyn Moore, and we are in for a treat.
July 30, 2012
Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco
These two have published a book with a great title: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. It is a fascinating journey into Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Camden, New Jersey; Welch, West Virginia; and Immokalee, Florida. This book hit me in the gut. It will move you to engage in battle. (Bill Moyers spent a whole hour interviewing Hedges and Sacco on Bill Moyers and Company.)
Hedges is ready for the revolt and believes it is just around the corner. I have trouble going that far, but Hedges sure makes me wish I could see the end of this fight. I cannot develop confidence in the occupy movement as the beginning of the revolt. Door-to-door GOTV doesn't make a dent.
What can we do? They raise the fundamental question: With the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, how long can we hold on? We thought our all-in effort to elect Kloppenburg would work. It almost did but not quite. We got a million signatures on recall petitions, and we thought that would give us the momentum we needed. Almost, but not quite. We raised lots of money from middle class warriors and we had some good candidates. If letters to the editor, calls to your congressman, and demonstrations don't help, what alternatives do we have?
I look forward to reading your thoughts on Days of Destruction. Hedges has lots of good ideas.
July 29, 2012
The gods are crazy
Mike McCabe reports that the Republicans spent $84.5 million and Democrats spent $52.6 million. All this money was spent on the recall elections. Wow!
I wonder where the Democrats spent 52 million bucks. And I am more than a little curious how they raised that much money. Given the pathetic results the conclusion is inescapable that the money was not spent wisely. But we don't know because there has not been an accounting--no audit or a report from the Democratic Party leaders. Instead of an audit we got a survey! There were questions like, "What could we have done differently?" and other brain-twisters but no accounting, so it is impossible to know how they could have done things differently.
There are some in the party who, believe it or not, seem to feel that the $50 million was worth it because the party won control of the State Senate. Whoopee! Problem? Well, the Senate will not convene until January and the one-vote majority has already been threatened by Tim Cullen. And, given the gerrymander of the legislative districts, the Dem euphoria will be short-lived. Even worse, the state Senate will in all likelihood pass legislation permitting mining just to mention one reason to question if the Democrats really won a majority.
If conservative Cullen can get his way by threatening to consult Joe Lieberman's playbook, who is next on the Cullenexpress?
Note to Mike Tate: Could we please get an accounting? Who put tht survey together? What is the party's position on mining in Wisconsin? Who were the consultants hired by the party?
July 28, 2012
Edward Bennett Williams, now deceased, was president of the Washington Redskins and later the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. Williams once opined that "the only thing dumber than the dumbest NFL owner is the smartest baseball owner."
Williams and Bill Veeck had a lot in common. They wanted "NFL socialism": revenue sharing in Major League Baseball. Why? Because it would give meaning to the old refrain in the NFL, that "on any given Sunday any NFL team can win." And because there is no competition in the NFL for stars because all teams get an equal share of revenue, win or lose, any team can win the Super Bowl. But it would be a miracle if the Brewers win the World Series because they cannot keep great players like C.C. Sabathia or Zack Greinke.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's headline writers wrote, "Greinke (was) one of the great ones, but he had to go." Whoa Nelly! The JS writes, "Baseball is not set up for a small market franchise to have more than one $100 million contract on its payroll." So the Brewers and their apologists who write for the JS must now feed us BS about some minor league players traded to Milwaukee who just might turn out to be greats. Left unsaid is that if one of the minor leaguers becomes great he too will go elsewhere!
There is a statue outside Miller Park of Bud Selig. Everyday, pigeons have an opportunity to let Selig know that his system is a disaster. The pigeons ask, before unloading on Selig's head, "Why do the Yankees get all the best players?" Answer: Because they keep all the New York TV and cable money.
I was reminded of Williams' analysis when I read the story of the Brewers losing perhaps the best pitcher in all of baseball because they cannot afford to keep him. Take a look at Green Bay. Without revenue sharing they would never have won the Super Bowl.
July 27, 2012
Our subscribers write lots of high quality, thoughtful letters, comments and articles. No wonder roughly 30,000 visit FightingBob.com every week.
Ten years ago, at Fighting Bob Fest, the suggestion was made from the floor that we create our own e-magazine so we would not have to push the corporate media to cover our events. We took action and created Fighting Bob.com. It has been a great success. Now we can expand.
We have Fighting Bob blog-talk radio and we will be pushing to make Fighting Bob a membership organization.
A lot on our plate so come prepared to get involved!
Your comments also give me guidance in writing my daily blog posts. Keep sending them. I read them all.
FIGHTING BOB FEST
We have an extremely strong lineup for Fighting Bob Fest this year. Beginning with Bill McKibben, the Paul Revere of the environmental community. Your homework assignment, due just before Fighting Bob Fest on September 15, is to read his superb article in Rolling Stone. Possibly his best ever.
Then Phil Donohue will inspire us again. He will introduce his film Body of War, and Norman Soloman will speak on how easy it is to go to war. Gwen Moore, Tammy Baldwin, Patty Loew and Terry O'Neil, president of NOW, will take on the war on women. John Nichols, Greg Palast and, of course, Jim Hightower, will make you laugh and make you angry.
The Green Party candidate for president, Dr. Jill Stein, will speak. Mahlon Mitchell and Juan Cole will inspire-the audience.
How many will attend? I don't know, but we have averaged between 8 and 9 thousand. Given the enthusiasm we felt at the recall rallies, we expect our biggest crowd ever.
Please register today at FightingBobFest.org.
Tables are going quickly, so if your group wants an exhibit table get your application in to us soon.
July 25, 2012
So Tim Cullen doesn't want to play pick-up ball with the other kids unless he can set the rules. Tsk. Tsk. I may be delusional, but the apparent reason he might leave the Senate Dems is that his office has a bad view. Or was it that he didn't like his committee assignment? Egad! We need a part-time Legislature if the kids are arguing stickball over street hockey.
The recalcitrant one of the 14 who headed for Illinois to stop the stampede wanted in the worst way to sneak back into town, but there was too much publicity. He made it clear that if they went again it would be no Cullen. Whoa Nelly.
No one has accused Tim of being a progressive since he made a bucket full of dough in guiding Blue Cross Blue Shield to "for profit" land.
As for money in politics, Tim was the first Dem leader to tell WMC that they had better give to Dems if WMC wanted bills to become laws.
OK Tim, you made your point, I think, so you can go back home.
July 24, 2012
Global warming? Nah!
As we approach the evening news, our hope is for tolerable temperatures predicted. The newspaper tells us the permafrost in Alaska is no longer perma...if you get the drift.
Polar bears, down to 20,000-25,000, may disappear soon. Drought is scaring the bejesus out of me when 78 percent of the corn crop is in drought. A couple years of this and we might see food riots throughout the world.
Everything is pointing in the wrong direction. Yet there is no panic. Hell's bells, there isn't even a collective sigh. Don't you wonder what is going through the minds of political leaders who are able to ignore the possible death of the planet?
That is the reason I am so happy that Bill McKibben is coming to Fighting Bob Fest. He is the national leader and we need his directions.
War has never seemed so silly. We are out of Iraq but the fighting has picked up again. Why did we invade Iraq? I forget. And Afghanistan? I forget. Phil Donahue and Norman Solomon will get the crowd moving.
Sick and tired of the war on women? I am. The president of NOW, Terry O'Neill, will raise hell at Fighting Bob Fest.
We are going to put forth a motion to have FightingBob.com become a membership organization. I am confident we can do it.
So we have Fighting Bob Fest, FightingBob.com and
Fighting Bob Radio. How do we keep going? You are the answer.
July 23, 2012
California GOP vs. Wisconsin Democrats
The NY Times reports that the California GOP is in decline and, in fact, is now a minority party or well on its way to that status. Why? Because the California GOP has turned control over to the extreme-right ideologues. One Republican said his party is becoming a party of enthusiastic young social conservatives run by southerners. As the Republican Party becomes more white and Anglo, the Hispanic population is exploding.
In describing the situation, one Republican consultant says, “It doesn’t do any of the things that a political party should do. It doesn’t register voters. It doesn’t recruit candidates. It doesn’t raise money. The Republican Party in the state institutionally has become a small ideological club that is basically in the business of hunting out heretics.”
Meanwhile, Wisconsin has Charlie Sykes and other right-wingers searching out "liberals" they call RINOs: Republicans in name only.
And the self-anointed candidates on the Democratic side of the aisle are on their own to raise money, build a staff and articulate issues. That leads to wealthy candidates who will reluctantly take the Democratic stamp of approval and, if elected, slide right on most issues of importance to the base.
La Follette did not want strong political parties that could be manipulated. He thought the direct primary would produce the best candidates. It is time for a change.
July 22, 2012
Is it over?
I am an optimist. I was born with the optimist's gene. I had parents who urged that we always chase the rainbow to look for the pot of gold; teachers who promised great things if we worked hard and kept our noses clean; wife and family that encouraged me to take on all comers. I ran against incumbent Robert Kasten for Senate; took on over-funded Tommy Thompson for governor. I even gave Herb Kohl a run. (OK, I agree--we didn't even make Kohl sweat, but we pushed hard.)
So why am I wringing my hands this morning? Because I fear that we are now in post-democracy America. I'm in a pickle. If I write that it is all over, I would be encouraging followers of Fighting Bob to give up and then, surely, I would be abandoning my friends on the left.
Ever hear of Carl Forti? Well, you will because he might well helpelect Mitt Romney and defeat Tammy Baldwin. Carl Forti: a low-profile Buffalo native who operates below the radar and coordinates his super PAC through his firm in Virginia. His Super PAC is American Crossroads. Make a note.
It is all about money. Not just enough money to run a good campaign but rather hundreds of millions of dollars. Today's New York Times: "At 40, Steering the Right's Vast Money Machine."
The story could knock the props right out from under the most entusiastic optimist. Buckle your seat belts folks. It will be one hell of a ride.
July 21, 2012
Here we go
I had computer problems this morning. The news out of Colorado is depressing. I would like to hear Michael Moore's take on this awful story--thinking of Bowling for Columbine.
We are getting close to Fighting Bob Fest on September 15. We will have another planning session soon and will assign volunteers to welcome the key guests. Delighted that Bill McKebben is coming. We need his perepective.
Do we need asssult weapons? I don't think so.
July 20, 2012
Is it over?
When Mitt sends his wife out for an interview so he can continue dragging a huge red herring across the stage you know they are in trouble.
I must admit that Ann seemed rather pleasant until now. But she talked and said much more than she was instructed to say. The line that will live on? Easy: "You people" have been given enough. Then she went on add that if we could see Mitt in action we would see what a good person he is. He gives 10 percent to the church. (As Frank Rich added, "ten percent of what? It could be 10 percent of nothing.") I wonder if the money parked in Swiss banks and the Caymans is used to tithe?
Prominent Republicans are making the case. George Will, for example, says Mitt must make his taxes available.
How could anyone run for governor, serve four years, run for president twice and dream that the media "you people" would not demand to see his tax returns? It makes no sense, and so the only explanation is that he is scared. Panicked. He is the rich kid who gets caught with a snowball in hand to hit a passing car and his friends took off. What is he hiding? It must be important because he is paying one hell of a price for not following his father's advice.
A few are suggesting that Mitt might drop out before the Republican Convention. While unlikely, he may not have a choice. You go, you people!
Fighting Bob Fest 11 is shaping up. Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president will appear. Jim Hightower, everyone's favorite, will bring news from "swing state" Texas. Terry O'Neil, president of NOW, will lead a discusion on the war against women.
We are extremely pleased to welcome Phil Donahue. He and Norman Solomon will speak on the importance of peace. Congresswoman Gwen Moore will spark the crowd. And our breakouts are the best ever.
Click here to Register
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July 19, 2012
Good for the judges!
The headline says it well: "Second Judge rejects photo ID requirement signed into law by Walker."
Judge David Flanagan issued a permanent injunction so there will not be a photo ID required for the August primary or the general elections in November. Hooray! This dovetails with the earlier injunction issued by Judge Niess. Flanagan hit the nail on the head: The state's requirement that voters show a photo ID is an impermissible impairment of the right to vote. With that ruling, Judge Flanagan pulled Wisconsin out of the outrageous efforts to make it a red state through the back door. We are not Mississippi!
Predictably, our attorney general says he will appeal. He should look in he mirror and ask how he could support the notion that hundreds of thousands of his "constituents" would have been denied the right to vote! Shame on you, AG. Shame on you.
With this ruling, it is odds-on that Wisconsin will go blue in November. Now let's do all we can to promote the Flanagan ruling in the 10 states that have passed voter suppression laws!
Tune in to Fighting Bob Radio today at 11AM. Call in with questions or comments 213-943-3485.
July 17, 2012
Education? Who needs it?
Wisconsin has always been special. We had a higher minimum wage than the federal one; we honored academic freedom (a/k/a/free speech); we had the lowest tuition in the Big 10; we were as enthused about the marching band as we were about the football team; no scandals to embarrass us; we welcomed out-of-state students. Joe McCarthy intimidated many elsewhere but not at our great state University of Wisconsin where the president of the UW stood up to the demagogues and threatended to resign if the Young Communists were not permitted to meet at the student union.
We enjoyed civil service not political-hack service; we were first to have publicly financed elections; we outlawed corporate involvement in politics a hundred years ago. The Public Service Commission controlled the utilities. Our publlic schools were the best in the nation. But, alas, no more!
It turns out our once proud public schools are dropping like a stone compared with other states. Thanks to the GOP we will have fewer teachers every year. We now welcome corporate interference in our elections and we oppose publicly financed elections. We are, to borrow a phrase from our best pal Jim Hightower, "in a world of hurt." Wisconsin had two great newspapers, the Milwaukee Journal and Madison's Capital Times. Now we have none.
The Democratic Party was a bastion of progressive thought but now the party sends out surveys asking what went wrong and asking us to name the issues that we care most about. We had two great Senators--Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire--now we have know-nothing Ron Johnson.
July 15, 2012
The rich and the rest of us
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West wrote this Poverty Manifesto, and while not precisely on point for this blog it is close enough.
I want to discuss the Obama dilemma regarding a lengthy article in the NY Times. It looks like Penny Pritzker is tired of raising millions for Obama. Is she upset that she was not given a cabinet post? Perhaps. Was it a snub to not be invited to Camp David? Probably. Or is the real issue that organized labor is attacking the Pritzker family, Penny in particular, because they want higher pay and better working conditions at the Hyatt hotels owned by the Pritzker family? All of the above probably, but it is the Hyatt issue that grabbed my attention.
Those exploited Hyatt workers would normally be considered Obama's base. The Pritzkers and their friends would normally be considered Romney's base. Which is it? And what does this tell us about November and beyond?
While Obama is struggling to keep pace with Romney in fundraising, I am confident that many Dems are hoping that the unions will play opossum now so the Pritzkers will get back into the political fundraising game. And that is the problem. If a Democrat has to pull his punches during fundraising time, what can you expect from him once the election is over? Not much. Last year it was news that billionaire Penny Pritzker was going all-out for Barak Obama. This year it is not a story, or is it?
No one from the administration came to Wisconsin during the uprising and that angered lots of folks. But one must ask, Was it a decision to not stick a finger in Koch's eye? Perhaps a friend of the Pritzkers who might be asked to give $100 million or so to Penny's fundraising pals, the Koch boys? Too cynical you might be thinking, and I would say probably not cynical enough. If both parties drink from the same well the poison hits both of them. More and more lobbyists urge their clients to give generously to both candidates. Cover your bets or butts!
Prediction: The super rich will drop Obama like a bad penny (pardon the pun) and jump on board the Romney express. The result could well be President Romney.
Citizens United is an unmitigated disaster. If Ron Johnson decides to give $50 million to the Republican candidate running for Feingold's seat, we are in deep, deep trouble. Why? Because Obama must then depend on the Pritzkers. Whoa Nelly.
July 14, 2012
C'mon, Mitt, you can do better
When I ran for the U.S. Senate I thought voters should be invited to read my tax returns. I must admit I did not like making my returns public. Not because something was wrong, rather it was a sense of giving up privacy. But we made them public and responded to all questions.
As executive director of the NFL Players Association we were subject to the Landrum-Griffin Act and every year we filed an L-M 2 form. That form gave detailed reports on monies earned and spent by the union. Like handing over my tax returns it was unpleasant to be so open, but in the end it was healthy to have all the information out there for public or member inspection. The Garvey-Lawton campaign in 1998 was the first in Wisconsin to put all contributions on the Internet. Not a delight to do that but a necessity. Voters should know who is contributing to the candidates. Period!
Mitt Romney won't release his tax returns. If he won't release them then he should not be president of the U.S. He has money parked in off-shore islands; he has money in Swiss bank accounts, but he won't say how much nor will he provide tax returns. Is there a reasonable explanation why he will not keep his money secure in good old U.S. of A.?
Let me see. After 1999 he says he was out of Bain, but in an SEC filing he is listed as CEO, sole shareholder and president of Bain. Yet he claims he had no involvement with Bain after he left to run the Olympics! Cut the bull, Mitt! Let us in on the good stuff. Show us your returns. We don't care if you are rich. We just want the truth.
Guess what. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has a survey that apparently is being mailed to somebody. We don't know who will get the "survey" but Mike Tate probably does.
This memo should be directed at the staff. Tell us why we lost more ground two years ago than any Democratic Party in America. We lost the Feingold seat, two congressional seats, the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature. Yikes! Mike, tell us why we lost the Walker recall. Were you in favor of the recall? Was it your decision to keep Biden and the president out of Wisconsin? Tell us about your role and your post-election thoughts!
I have some thoughts about the Democratic Party activities.
Join me in asking Mike Tate and his staff what went wrong. Mike, you are paid to help Democrats and your record is horrible. What went wrong?
As I look at the so-called survey, I am thinking of a hypothetical interview with Mrs. O'Leary, whose cow kicked over the lantern that caused the great Chicago fire.
"On balance Mrs. O, would it have been better to keep the cow outside the barn?" Mrs. O, Why did you not wait for sunrise before milking the cow?
Mrs. O, Once the fire began were you prepared to extinguish the fire? Why didn't you? Who is to blame, Mrs. O? You, the cow or the fire department?
Did you survey the fire department after the fact? What steps have you taken to make sure that another cow will not cause another fire?
Back to Mike Tate. Mike, believe it or not, you work for the Democratic Party the party does not work for you. Instead of asking undisclosed people "What do you think the Democratic Party should have done differently to change the outcome of the election?" it is time for you to share your thoughts with us. Please tell us what you and your staff could have done differently to win the recall.
Here are a few questions I would like you to answer. 1.) Who first nominated you for the chairmanship of the Democratic Party? 2.) Were you opposed by anyone? 3.) What was your starting salary and what are you paid now? 4.) List all staff members and give us the salary or other compensation for each.
We demand transparency from public officials. Seems to me that the same should apply to you. Send us the names of all who were surveyed by you and the unedited responses.
Who authorized this cockamamie survey? Did you have input from consultants? If so, name them.
July 13, 2012
'Is there a VIP entrance?'
Paul Krugman picked up on that quote as many of you did. Think about the chutzpah of one of the millionaire or billionaire supporters of "off-shore Mitt." Stuck in traffic in the Hamptons. Oh no! How difficult can life be!
At least they would be welcomed into the Ron Perlman and David Koch house through the "VIP" entrance. The guests were puting up $75,000 per couple at a minimum. Mitt and Mary should have champagne and caviar at the door! Not just any door but the VIP door. But no! There was no VIP entrance and no caviar! How shameful, how middle-America, how insulting!
Looks like a real fight between Hovde and Tommy Thompson, or is it? I think the money boys want Thompson and the Tea Party folks want Hovde. If Koch pours money into Hovde he will be the nominee.
Paul Ryan has lots of money in the bank--a big chunk from foreign banks.
It is astounding that the super wealthy are not only flaunting it, they are daring us to do anything about their status.
I am eager to get together with you at Fighting Bob Fest on September 15 in Madison. I am mad as hell about Citizens United and we must take it on!
July 10, 2012
FIGHTING BOB FEST NUMBER 11
Click Here to Pre-register to Fighting Bob Fest #11
Fighting Bob Fest #11 Facebook event page
Progressives, Democrats, Socialists, Kenyans, Republicans, Greens, Independents and the politically homeless--join us at the Alliant Center in Madison on Saturday, September 15.
We are delighted with the program this year. We have a great list of speakers and we will be spending more time on breakouts given the disastrous Citizens United and Montana decisions. We must find ways to fight back to limit money in politics or face disaster after disaster as the Koch brothers, Ron Perelman, Shelden Adelson dominate elections, not with ideas, but with obscene amounts of money. We will spend more time this year on breakout sessions specifically searching for your ideas. Breakouts will have facilitators to ensure every voice is heard.
While the program is shaping up, we need your input and your commitment.
Please pre-register. We ask for $25 per person to get us up and moving. Entry is free but we will ask for your help. (Parking is also free!)
Booths are going fast! We expect 10,000 in attendance.
Jim Hightower is coming back for more Wisconsin beer, brats and tofurkey. I can't imagine Fighting Bob Fest without Hightower; Terry O'Neil, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) "The real war on women" will be her topic.
Ellen Bravo, founder of 9-5, Mike Papantonio, co-host of Ring of Fire will make his first trip to Bob Fest to fire up the crowd..Mike is not shy and I expect you will really enjoy his talk.
Special treat--Phil Donahue (Yes that Phil Donohue) and Norman Solomon have a special anti-war treat for you. The war on war!
Other speakers will be announced soon. Next week we will announce the breakout sessions.
Speakers will include Barbara Lawton, Greg Palast and our good friend John Nichols. Add it all up and you are in for the best Fighting Bob Fest yet!
WE STARTED THE MOVEMENT--LET'S KEEP GOING.
Click Here to Pre-register to Fighting Bob Fest #11
Fighting Bob Fest #11 Facebook event page
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent." I have always liked that quote. Bobby Kennedy spoke it often, and as I think about the problems we face in our country I think about that quote and ask, how can leaders remain silent in the face of evil?
Look at our Supreme Court. David Prosser, who, in my view lacks both the credentials and the temperament to be a judge, let alone a Supreme Court justice, is a case in point. He apparently has an anger issue and he attacked Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. He was choking her. He doesn't deny that fact and in fact said that he found his hands on her neck! He asked himself, What should I do? And he responded, remove his hands from her neck. The next question should have been, "Now what would a rational lawyer do next?" But instead of resigning from the court as he should have, he was last seen flitting around asking his fellow justices to recuse themselves because they saw him choke a female justice.
What would happen to any citizen who attacked a justice? Tried to choke her? Prison would be a good guess. What happens to Prosser now? He will be paid well over $100,000 per year to serve us. He goes unpunished and evil triumphs because good people remain silent. Are we on notice that Justice Prosser is a threat to the safety of our Supreme Court justices? If there is another "incident" are we liable?
I must ask, where is the Bar Association? Why have the officers of the State Bar remained silent? And now it turns out that former Prosser aid and Assembly speaker John Gard urged governor Walker to appoint three members to the judicial panel who are, in Gard's view, "fiercely conservative" to the panel. I am not making this up! Gard assured the governor's office that his nominees "would never wimp out." Is that sufficient to take another look?
How can we restore confidence in the Supreme Court? Can't be done unless good people speak up--Where are the deans of our two law schools? What example are they setting for their students? When I was in law school they did not have a legal ethics class but we had people with impeccable ethical standards to lead the way. We had Frank Remington, Bob Skilton, Nate Feinsinger, Bill Foster, Robert Curry, and Gordon Baldwin, who could be counted on speak up. I am confident what they would say today.
Nate taught that if a negotiator ever lies he must resign. Why? Because the process depends on honesty.
David Prosser should resign. And John Gard? Oh good grief who cares?
July 9, 2012
Laugh or cry?
When Kevin Phillips declared on Bill Moyer's show several years ago that class warfare began in 1984 and the wealthy have won, it gave me a jolt. Phillips said, in essence, that the Republicans had always been captured by the rich--as it should be. The wealthy need a political party. The disgrace, he wrote, was that the Democrats were in the same boat drinking from the same wine glass.
Having given plenty of speeches condemning the growing divide between the rich and the rest of us, I smiled but then the reality hit me. My generation has ushered in another gilded age. We became Wall Street, we believed that greed is good, that the IRS is just another obstacle to be dealt with.
It crystallized with the fundraisers Sunday in the Hamptons. Several parties, most costing $75,000 per couple, were an "invitation." If not an invitation, they were an opportunity for good natured ribbing by protesters.
Ron Perelman was there; and what would an event be without David Koch? A local pilot flew over the party with a giant red and black banner "Romney has a Koch problem." The Times reported that most of the super rich, stuck in a traffic jam, did not talk with the ill-mannered non-super-rich, but a few couldn't resist. One did roll down the window and shouted "Obama is a socialist!" Wow. Is that all you've got?
Laugh or cry? Your choice.
July 8, 2012
Wouldn't you know. I was all set for the $75,000 per couple Mitt Romney fundraiser at the home of David Koch, the billionaire who spent so much money in Wisconsin that he should be made an honorary citizen, and now the dinner might be canceled. My invitation hasn't arrived yet. Damn it! We even got a second mortgage on our house and put $75,000 into envelopes to get ready for the party.
Who will attend the Romney party? Mitch McConnell thinks it is none of our business! He is worried that Obama would "punish and intimidate" big contributors so he is urging Congress to deny all efforts to require disclosing names of contributors to the super PACs. I am not kidding! Doesn't this hit your funny bone? Corporations are people; money is speech; disclosure could lead to violence. It is nuts.
We must reverse Citizen's United. Period.
July 7, 2012
The Supreme Court sinks lower
When I was in law school, Wisconsin could brag that our state Supreme Court was one of the best in the nation. No one would argue that proposition today. What went wrong? Like the other two branches, money corrupted the court and public officials failed to speak up. When the court was functioning properly, very few special interests poured money into the court elections. It would have been unseemly to contribute thousands to candidates for a Supreme Court race and there was a risk that the other justices would resent WMC's purchase of the Court. Such a strategy could back fire.
Something else happened. The court used to attract very bright and capable lawyers to the court. Tommy Thompson changed that. He carefully altered the court with appointees whose main credential was that they liked Tommy. Once appointed it was nearly impossible to defeat them in an election. If a sitting Justice wanted to retire, Tommy would persuade him to stay until after the next election so he could appoint a replacement who would be ideologically compatible with Tommy and WMC. Then he pushed the court to disaster with some awful appointments. Mediocre justices were appointed.
Last week, the court failed to discipline David Prosser for physically attacking a fellow justice. For goodness sake. There are people sitting in jail who did less. Unbelievable? No. Predictable? Yes.
July 6, 2012
I am rich. Therefore you can trust me!
When Herb Kohl ran for the Senate his theme was about as simplistic as it comes.
"No one's Senator but yours." It was clever and effective. He was saying, I am so wealthy that I will not even think about self-dealing. No lobbyist need call; special interests will not be welcome in my office; I am trustworthy because I am rich! A lot of people bought the line, and Herb is probably the most popular public official in Wisconsin.
So what happened in the 1988 campaign? Herb avoided debates, avoided tough issues, funded his own campaign and won easily. And he remained in office, as far as we know, for four terms. What did he accomplish? Not much. Did he show up for work? Who knows? Indeed, one is hard-pressed to name a single piece of legislation or cause bearing his name. We saw Feingold-McCain but not Kohl-McCain. What is the point of seeking one of the most important jobs in America if you are not planning to do something important? Mo Udall said some people just want to be called Senator; some want to do things that will help people.
So here we are facing an election to replace Herb Kohl. What are the Republican choices? A guy named Hovde whose net worth is over $50 million. He takes the No One's Senator But Yours another step into the abyss. Hovde tells us that we can trust him because he made outrageous amounts of money as a hedge fund manager. Message seems to be, "Hey, I know how the system works to favor wealthy people. Ride with me oh party of wealth!"
There is also corporate Tommy Thompson who has made millions and millions of dollars by serving on the boards of those he once regulated. His theme seems to be, "Vote for me. I can't get any more corrupt than I am so you can trust me! Besides, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel likes me."
What a mess we have created.
July 5, 2012
I think we have it!
On Saturday, physicists reported to the world that they had discovered a new subatomic particle, the Higgs boson. Higgs boson apparently holds the key to understanding why there is diversity and life in the universe. Fascinating stuff. People stood in line for hours to be in the hall when the announcement was to be made. The suspense was incredible.
I am reminded of a law client in Eau Claire whose father took him to the train station in Milwaukee every Saturday to listen to men standing on orange crates to deliver their wisdom. His favorite was a man who repeated over and over that "youse guys don't know what youse guts don't know." And he was right.
I had no idea what these brilliant scientists were searching for. Higgs boson has never been seen! Yet thousands of scientists have searched for decades to find it. The discovery will help answer all sorts of questions such as, "Why is the universe made of matter instead of anti-matter?" Goodness I am ignorant. I don't even understand the question!
I'll bet Mitt Romney has already supported both theories. At a minimum, the religious folks will be heard and I don't think you will appreciate their answers. Good stuff.
July 4, 2012
4th of July
It is so hot I can only hope you are taking it easy. Incredible.
Fighting Bob Fest speakers and breakout sessions will be announced next week. This will be a great happening as we look to the future. Meanwhile, if you have topics we should discuss, please let us know.
All the best.
July 3, 2012
Fines become felonies
When I was asked by Judge Crabb to represent all inmates at Super-Max prison in a class-action lawsuit, I got a bit nervous. Who were these people? What awful crimes had they committed that landed them in the new Wisconsin prison where, according to Tommy Thompson, the "worst of the worst" are housed? Inmates who cannot get along in the general prison were sent to Super Max--in Boscobel.
The Justice Department refused to permit our law firm to meet and discuss cases with the so-called worst of the worst. We had to obtain court orders to get access. The first inmate I talked to was delighted to be talking to anyone in a position of authority. I asked why he was in Super Max and he explained that he lost his driver's license in Brown County, and was given a fine to pay. He continued driving even though his driving privileges were suspended.
"O.K. I said, how did you get to Super-Max?" He responded that he had been arrested again for operating a vehicle without a license. OK, why Super Max? He had sex with a guard in Green Bay. I immediately assumed rape or abuse of some kind. I asked and he said, "No, sex was consensual." Why were you sent here? "They said I was a threat to society." And, he added, "If I am a threat to society, there are a hell of a lot of threats to society out there."
What happened to the guard? "She was put on leave for a month," he said. So, here is a man, convicted of driving without a driver's license sitting in a Super Max cell at a cost to the taxpayers of about $65,000 per year! Does this make sense? No, but read on.
The New York Times reports today that it is not is not unusual for a poor person in Alabama to go to jail for a minor offense and then find out that he or she must pay huge fees to get out of jail. A woman, like our guy in Boscobel was ticketed for driving without a license, was locked up for 40 days, turned over to a for-profit company, and told she now owes $3,170--part of it to the private company!
Another was convicted of traffic and license violations. He has been in jail for 24 months and owes $10,000! Imagine that. In Alabama it is dangerous to drive while poor, but Wisconsin ain't heaven either. As towns, counties, and cities are strapped for cash, they could make a lot of money on traffic violations. This is an outrage.
July 1, 2012
Climate change? Nah!
I heard it on TV so it must be true. One Republican Senator believes that global warming is happening! One!
Pick up the paper and what do you see? An incredible fire in Colorado that might burn all year. Drought in places near and far. Flooding where there is no drought; food shortages are predicted.
How much longer can Wisconsin's farmers hold out without substantial rain? Not long. Temperatures in triple digits. St. Louis 108; Washington D.C. 103; Milwaukee 95-96. As kids we knew that if the temperature got to 90 or so it was axiomatic that a hard rain wold clear the air and lower the temperatures. We loved sitting on the screen porch while the downpour continued. Not now. The prediction is all week in the 90s!
Then I read in the NY Times that sea levels are rising between New York and Boston. Why there? I don't know, but we had better figure out what action is required. Friends from Washington, D.C. called--heat unbearable, tornado force winds and a downpour.
The Dems and GOP agreed to spend a lot of money on road builing and Obama staved off a manate to permit the XL Pipeline. What are we doing about climate change? Nothing!
Perhaps one reason is that no one trusts anyone. While there is no way to understand the tea party types, millions of reasonable people don't think they are getting the whole truth. If sea levels destroy Florida, people will understand. And I predict they will ask, Why didn't you warn us? But are we so nuts that we will sit and watch New York go under water. Lend me your fiddle!
Herb Kohl voted the right way on Obamacare. Ron Johnson, an extremist on the right, voted no. Scott Walker--remember him? He says Obamacare will reduce access for those truly in need of assistance. Is he crazy?
Fighting Bob Fest: September 15. It is going to be a hot one.
By the way. Is anyone working for the Democratic Party taking responsibility for two disasters?