Monday, July 31, 2006

Summer Blog Break

There won't be any updates to this blog until the weekend, as I am taking a much needed break after teaching classes non-stop until the end of July. Hope everyone is enjoying the hot weather.

Sinead's "War"

For the final July John Lennon celebration entry, we turn to Sinead O'Connor. In October of 1992, Sinead gained notoriety by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live. Almost everyone who writes or speaks about that event conveniently forgets to mention that she tore the picture AFTER singing an a cappella version of Bob Marley's "War."

Years later, Sinead had the meaning of the event explained to her by John.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Valley Press Covers Up Fraud, Censors Courage

That's the title of the August Media Rant, which finds a connection between the local media's refusal to expose the fraudulent behavior of a "Key to the City" recipient at the same time censoring an act of real courage by a soldier.

Here's the way the piece will look in The Valley Scene.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Aug. 5th: Humane Society Rummage Sale

RUMMAGE SALE…at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society. OAHS will be holding a Rummage Sale on Saturday, August 5th from 10:00 am – 3 pm.

Did you have intentions to declutter the garage, organize the basement, or clear the crawl space this summer? Well it is not too late!!! We welcome the community to look around their homes for items in good condition that they would be willing to donate to benefit OAHS -100% of proceeds will directly benefit our operations.

All donations for the Rummage Sale can be delivered to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society on Wednesday, August 2nd between noon and 6:00 p.m. or on Thursday August 3rd between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. allowing our volunteers to organize and prepare our Community Room for the sale.

Please share our request with your family, friends and coworkers. Should you have any questions do not hesitate to contact OAHS, 920-303-3166.

An extra special thank you to Sharon Barlow, a special OAHS Volunteer, who will be overseeing the project.

OAHS * 1925 Shelter Court * Oshkosh, WI 54901 * 920-303-3166

Condoleeza Brazzi

(cartoon from Truthdig)

Condi Rice is headed back to the holy lands on Saturday to "broker peace." Somehow the American press can say "Bush Administration" and "broker peace" in the same sentence without any apparent sense of irony. It would be like reporting that the Corleone family sent Luca Brazzi to Brooklyn to "broker peace" with the Barzinis.

You have to go back to Dr. Henry Kissinger to find an American secretary of state as incompetent and delusional as Dr. Rice. That she could become Secretary of State after her shameful performance in front of the 9/11 Commission says much about the values of the current administration.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Military Intelligence and You!

Now THIS is funny:

Campaign Reform Survey: Hintz Yes, Leschke/Didlo No Response

The League of Women Voters along with Common Cause and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign recently posed 6 questions to all legislative, gubernatorial, and attorney general candidates. With former state legislative leaders convicted of felonies, and Wisconsin now a national model of pay to play politics, and with the ethical caliber of the state's politics at an all time low, you'd think that candidates would jump at the chance to demonstrate their support for reform.

Not so. In the 54th Assembly District, Democrat Gordon Hintz answered "Yes" to all 6 questions, but Republicans Julie Leschke (who is supported actively by assembly majority leader Mike Huebsch, a hostile anti-reform insider) and Larry Didlo did not respond. Leschke continues to disappoint by claiming to be indepedent and not a politician, yet almost always ending up on the side of the Republican party leadership in Madison. In other words, she's acting just like another politician.

If the 54th continues to remain in the hands of the Republicans, it should be someone like Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) who is willing to take stands that defy the party leadership. So far we have not seen that from Julie Pung-Underheim, I mean Leschke.

On the other hand, responding "Yes" to the 6 survey questions below doesn't really mean much of anything. Jim Doyle answered Yes to all six questions, yet no one seriously believes that he will lead on reform issues, especially given how his reelection campaign is for sale to the highest bidders. And no one around these parts other than Xoffian spinmeisters thinks that Gordon will go to Madison and defy Doyle on anything.

Mark Green would probably be worse than Doyle on campaign finance reform and ethics issues, but not by much. For honest government, the Green Party's Nelson Eisman is the only serious choice.

Here are the 6 questions Hintz answered yes to:

1. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for bipartisan legislation (similar to 2005-2006 Senate Bill 1) to strengthen enforcement of Wisconsin's ethics code and campaign finance laws by replacing the current State Elections and State Ethics Boards with a nonpartisan and politically independent Government Accountability Board with an enforcement division with the authority and resources to investigate and prosecute violations of state elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws and regulations?

2. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for bipartisan, comprehensive campaign finance reform that would reduce special interest influence and the cost of campaigning by setting new voluntary campaign spending limits as a threshold condition for receiving public financing grants equal to at least 35 to 45 percent of the legally established spending limits for the offices they seek as well as:

  • Provide supplemental public grants to candidates who are the targets of outside interest group spending and/or are opposed by candidates who do not agree to limit their spending and exceed the spending limit;
  • Require increased disclosure and regulation of so-called "issue advocacy" by interest groups or individuals;
  • Prohibit campaign fundraising during the state budget process and ban contributions by anyone bidding for a state contract;
  • Eliminate leadership-controlled legislative campaign committees;
  • Limit out-of-state special interest money;
  • Ban the pooling of special interest political action committee money to create so-called "SuperPACs"?

3. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for bipartisan legislation mirroring the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Law of 2002 (commonly known as McCain-Feingold) requiring the complete disclosure of the source of funding for so-called "issue ads" and requiring that the funds for such ads comply with campaign contribution limits in Wisconsin law? (This would limit individual donations and prohibit the use of money from the general treasuries of corporations, labor unions and Native American tribes to pay for such electioneering.)

4. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for legislative measures making electoral competitiveness a legal or constitutional standard that must be applied by the Legislature and the courts in establishing state legislative and congressional district boundaries?

5. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for legislative measures establishing an independent commission or authority to handle the task of redrawing legislative and congressional districts after each census beginning in 2011?

6. YES OR NO: Do you support and would you vote for legislation to tighten Wisconsin's "revolving door" policy by requiring at least a one-year "cooling off" period before former legislators, top legislative aides and key executive branch officials can become registered lobbyists and prohibiting persons convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor committed in their former capacity as a legislator, legislative aide or key executive branch official from becoming registered lobbyists?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

sdaeh rieht edih dna nur yeht semoc niar eht fI

Continuing with our July John Lennon celebration, and having already blogged about the sun today, let's watch and listen to John's Beatles' classic "Rain."

My Letter To Doyle

Today I emailed this letter to the office of Governor Doyle:

I read in the Thursday, July 27th Oshkosh Northwestern that Governor Doyle will attend the Friday "Mayor's Breakfast" in Oshkosh. At that event, CESSNA CEO Jack Pelton will receive the "Key to the City." For reasons that will be explained below, Mr. Pelton does not deserve the award. I urge the governor to boycott the event.

In November of 2004, CBS' Sixty Minutes did a feature on "Diplomas for Sale." Reporter Vicki Mabrey reported on online diploma mills, focusing specifically on "Hamilton University." According to the story:

"How do you get a degree from Hamilton? You start by filling out a form on a site that claims to be an independent referral service. But it really was set up to funnel business to Hamilton. You’ll then be offered dozens of degrees. If you’re accepted, and chances are good you will be, it can take as little as a week or two to get a diploma. Your main assignments are to write a short paper and a big check."

When Pelton became CESSNA CEO, his official bio stated:

"Pelton holds BS and MS degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Hamilton University. He is a resident of Wichita and currently serves on the board of directors for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Wichita’s Habitat for Humanity. A commercial, instrument-rated pilot, he is Citation rated and flies regularly as pilot in command."

The Hamilton "degrees" have since been removed from Pelton's bio on the website of Textron, CESSNA's parent company. When hiring Pelton as CESSNA CEO in December of 2003, Textron's news release included the Hamiton "degree" credentials. After the Sixty Minutes story, CESSNA issued a statement sweeping Pelton's deception under the rug. To my knowledge Pelton has never offered a compelling explanation for why he obtained the Hamilton "degrees."

Pelton hails from Kansas. Students from that area attending Independence Community College and working hard for their diplomas said that Pelton's appointment as CEO should produce anger because: "Some of us actually work to obtain a degree. People like Pelton, who have not earned their credentials, should make us feel cheated. Some of us study hard to get through school; all he did was write a big check."

Oshkosh is a university town. Allowing Pelton to receive the Key to the City will represent a slap in the face to all the hard working students in the community. UW Oshkosh professors, myself included, teach our students that there are real consequences to be paid for lying or misleading on one's resume.' To give Pelton the Key to the City sends all the wrong messages to our students and undermines the ethical principles we attempt to teach.

Radio Shack's David Edmondson was forced to resign as CEO earlier this year when it was revealed that he lied on his resume about earning college degrees. What Pelton did is even worse: he PAID for fraudulent degrees and waited until a network television show exposed the fraud before removing them from his resume.

In the fall I plan to reveal to the UW Oshkosh student press that city leaders and UW Oshkosh administrators stood by silently while a major award was given to a man who declared himself to have credentials that he did not work for. I hope I do not have to include in my letter to them that even governor Doyle refused to stand up for academic integrity.

Thank you.

Tony Palmeri, Ph.D
UW Oshkosh Department of Communication

Here's the immediate response I received back from Doyle's office:

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your e-mail message. I welcome you expressing your views and concerns to me, and I commend you for participating in your state government.

I take into account the views of all of the citizens of Wisconsin, and will keep your specific comments in mind during my service as your Governor.

If you would like more information about my positions on issues, or would like to read my public statements on issues, I encourage you to explore my home page at

I like to respond individually to every letter and telephone call I receive, however, I cannot respond to each e-mail individually due to the volume.

If your request is time sensitive, please call my office at (608) 266-1212. You may also write to me via conventional mail at Governor Jim Doyle, 115 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.

Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me again if I can ever be of assistance to you.


Jim Doyle

Doyle Should Boycott Mayor's Breakfast

Gannett reports that Governor Jim Doyle will attend the Oshkosh Mayor's Breakfast on Friday. This is the event at which CESSNA CEO Jack Pelton, recipient of two "degrees" from a diploma mill, will receive the Key to the City. It demeans the office of the governor to endorse an event that turns a blind eye to the kind of behavior that has led to the resignation of at least one other CEO (David Edmondson resigned as CEO of Radio Shack after it was revealed that he lied on his resume--but at least he, unlike Pelton, offered a public apology for his actions.).

Hot Story

According to the World Health Organization, the sun kills 60,000 per year. (Possible wingnut response: "See, why are we worried about 2,500 dead soldiers in Iraq? The sun kills more people every year.").

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Continuing with our July John Lennon celebration, below is the Stone Temple Pilots' cover of the Beatles' Revolution, one of John's better songs IMHO.

Labor Forum: Will Leschke Show?

Tonight, AFSCME Locals 48 and 579 along with the Winnebago County Labor Council and Wisconsin State Employees Union are sponsoring a candidates' forum. The event is at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Jackson St. and starts at 7 p.m.

54th assembly district Democratic candidate Gordon Hintz will participate, but it is still not clear if Republican front runner Julie Pung-Leschke will. I emailed her last week to ask if she would be participating, and her response was that "I have been trying to get a hold of Steve Dedow about that - we've been playing phone tag, back and forth several times." Steve Dedow is the President of the Winnebago County Labor Council.

It's not clear to me exactly what Leschke would need to talk to Dedow about before accepting the invitation. Two years ago Republican Gregg Underheim did not attend the same event, which upset even the anti-union Gannett press in town.

Leschke turned down an invitation to appear on "Eye on Oshkosh," a program that reaches out to the working people of the 54th. Should she be a no-show at the Labor Forum tonight, she will have established that she is either not yet ready, willing, or able to discuss the crucial issues that face workers.

Can Blogging Derail Your Career?

University of Michigan professor Juan Cole maintains Informed Comment, one of the more lucid places to go for commentary on the Middle East. He has drawn the ire of the wingnuts, resulting in a highly publicized attempt to prevent him from being appointed to a professorship at Yale. The Chronicle of Higher Education now presents an online forum sparked by the Cole controversy, "Can Blogging Derail Your Career?" Cole's Response Can be found here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Give Peace A Chance

Continuing with our July John Lennon celebration, and with war as popular as ever, here's John, Yoko and friends with Give Peace A Chance.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Lie That Won't Die

It's been almost 5 years since the Experimental Aircraft Association's bogus attendance reporting was exposed. Yet today, almost unbelievably, the Oshkosh Northwestern's Krista Ledbetter reports "nearly 700,000 visitors . . . " That's what happens when the "reporting " relies on EAA press releases and the editors are either too lazy or too scared to do their jobs properly. Back in 2003 the Northwestern did a story questioning the attendance figures (no longer online), but that has now apparently been relegated to the memory hole and they've decided to go with the bullshit numbers instead. So much for Gannett's code of ethics.

Down in Florida, the "Sun 'N Fun" fly-in was forced to adjust its attendance figures after some responsible reporting by reporter Rick Rousos. In November of 2003 the Sun 'N Fun management admitted to a paid attendance of 57,000. I would be shocked if the Oshkosh EAA attendance is much larger than that.

The continued lying about the attendance results in exaggerated estimates of the economic impact of EAA, which results in a continuation of the very generous treatment provided to the organization by Winnebago Couny and the city of Oshkosh.

This year in addition to the continuation of the attendance charade, we have to suffer through the shameful spectacle of the Key to the City being given to a man who lied on his resume'. What can be said about a mainstream press, city council, and county government that allows an organization to treat the city of Oshkosh like an ignorant backwater?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

Beginning Sunday, the Washington post features a series of articles on the Iraq fiasco written by Pulitzer prize winning author Thomas Ricks. According to the paper: "'Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq' was based on a review of more than 30,000 pages of military documents, several hundred interviews with U.S. military personnel, the author's own articles in The Washington Post, and reporting in The Post and other newspapers." The first installment can be found here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Come Together: Finger Pickin' Good

Continuing with our July John Lennon Celebration, below guitar virtuoso Michael Chapdelaine does a finger pickin' good version of "Come Together."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jon Stewart on Lebanon Coverage

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

State of Wisconsin v. Joe Paulus: No Closure

Can anyone really believe that the criminal complaint filed today by the Wisconsin Department of Justice against former Winnebago County rogue DA Joe Paulus will bring closure to this sordid episode? After an investigation of multiple years, the DOJ essentially repeated the federal case against Paulus. There is nothing new here. The DOJ press release says that "charges are not expected against any other individuals based upon the evidence available." They claim the investigation will remain open, but today's filing sure has the look of sweeping the matter under the rug.

For me, and I suspect for many others, the issue is not about how many years Paulus spends in jail. The issue is whether citizens of Winnebago County can believe that the 4 years worth of local, state, and federal investigations of the Paulus years have provided us with confidence that the culture of corruption has been removed from the county justice system. Sadly, today's criminal complaint filing, like the federal case earlier, does not provide that confidence.

There is one amusing part to the complaint. Paulus' partner in crime, former defense attorney, former assistant DA, and former Winnebago County Republican Party chair Mitch Schierland, told the DOJ that he decided to cooperate with federal investigators "for multiple reasons, including his religious faith . . ." Funny how he got religion AFTER the federal investigation began.

Black Eyed Peas: Power to the People!

Continuing with our July John Lennon celebration, below is a video of The Black Eyed Peas performing "Power to the People" with guests Mary J. Blige and John Legend. The Peas originally recorded the Lennon classic in late 2005 on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WPR Dumps Harry Shearer

Satirist Harry Shearer, perhaps best know for being a voice of The Simpsons, produces a radio show called "Le Show." The show was recently dumped by Wisconsin Public Radio because, according to Harry, they were "displeased with the political content" of the show. Shearer mentions the WPR dumping during the intro to his July 16th program, which can be heard here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

John and Chuck go to Memphis

July is John Lennon Month here at T2T. In the video below we have John and Chuck Berry doing "Memphis" on the Mike Douglas Show in 1972. In the middle of the video it seems as if someone shut off Yoko's mike so that she couldn't continue shrieking (though by the end of the video the mike is back on and she's shrieking again).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kevin Phillips on the American Petrocracy

Respected conservative writer Kevin Phillips argues that the oil motive is the "most plausible" one for explaining the Iraq fiasco, and he makes a convincing case in the July 17th cover story for the American Conservative.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Yer Blues

Continuing on our John Lennon theme, below is a classic video featuring John Lennon fronting a super group called "Dirty Mag" featuring Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on bass, and Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums. They play "Yer Blues" from the Beatles' White Album. As for the intro conversation between Lennon and Mick Jagger, let's just say they were not auditioning to be part of the "Just Say No" campaign.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What Barrett's Going To Teach

Right wing blogger Jessica McBride (who once appeared on Radio Commentary) posed some email questions to Kevin Barrett asking him to specify what exactly he will teach in his Islam class. Even though his responses are perfectly reasonable, McBride still cannot bring herself to defend Barrett's right to teach or defend the appropriate manner in which the UW Madison administration stood up for his course. In other words, she is locked into an ideology that has fixed her responses to Barrett regardless of what he says--the exact thing she and others are accusing HIM of doing as regards his approach to 9/11.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

An interesting new documentary will be released in September.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Strange Days Indeed at the Oshkosh Common Council

Last night the Oshkosh Common Council rubber stamped, with NO DISCUSSION, the purchase of Diebold touch screen voting machines. This paves the way for the placement of equipment in our polling places that the Diebold corporation ITSELF admits has security flaws that will not be worked out until after the September primaries. 28 members of the Winnebago County Board and all 7 members of the Oshkosh Common Council appear apathetic or oblivious to the fact that it is easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine.

The Council also approved, with Bryan Bain the only Councilor showing any real interest, the placement of over $100,000 worth of security cameras in Oshkosh buses. I suspected this council would have no concern for the "surveillance society" issues raised by bus cameras, but thought they would at least care about the expenditure when they are allegedly trying to save money. Absent any real need for the cameras--a need that was never demonstrated--we should not spend a dime on the technology.

Probably the most bizarre part of the evening was the presentation of an award by League of Wisconsin Munincipalities official Dan Thompson to State Senator Carol Roessler for her advocacy on behalf of their issues. Thompson seemed unaware that Roessler rarely visits the Oshkosh Common Council and has voted for budgets and levy freezes that have placed the city in its most difficult financial position in many years. To portray her as some kind of municipal heroine was nothing short of outrageous.

Strange days indeed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

UW Madison Stands Up To The Three Stooges

The UW Madison administration took a stand for academic freedom yesterday, clearing lecturer Kevin Barrett to teach a course this fall on "Islam: Religion and Culture." Provost Patrick Farrell said that "we cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas."

The decision disappointed the Three Stooges: Moe (Representative Steve Nass), Larry (Congressman Mark Green), and Curly (Governor Jim Doyle). Nass actually said that the decision is going to make it easier for him to argue for UW administrative cuts in the next budget. Curly and Larry were their typical gutless selves:

Matt Canter, a spokesman for Gov. Jim Doyle, said, "Everyone knows that Governor Doyle would have come to a different conclusion on this matter, but the governor recognizes the university has the legal authority to make their own personnel decisions."

Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor, issued a statement calling Barrett "as unfit to teach our students as a math professor who would tell us that two plus two equals five."

I have a feeling we have not heard the last of this matter. Certainly The Stooges won't let it rest, especially in an election year.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Retired UWO Physics Prof Wants Evolution Referendum on Ballot

Yesterday in the Oshkosh Northwestern on page B2 of the Local section appeared a huge ad titled EVOLUTION: TELL ALL. The ad complains that "evolution in the Oshkosh public schools is not taught truthfully." It asks readers to petition the school board to place a referendum on the November ballot: "Be it resolved that when evolution is taught in Oshkosh public schools is (sic) shall not be taught as fact, but rather with evidence, pro and con, and with an analysis of its testability."

In case there was any doubt about the nature of this petition effort, the ad says this in bold letters: "Churches collect signatures of your members."

The ad tells readers to go to for more information. The site and petition drive are the work of Dr. Sandra Gade, retired UW Oshkosh Emeritus Professor of Physics.

Lake Winneblogo addressed an earlier letter of Dr. Gade's here and here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Frank Zeidler and City Living

Former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler, the "Sewer Socialist" who served from 1948-1960, died recently at the age of 93. Zeidler was a rare breed among elected officials--honest, humble, principled, smart, able to disagree without demonizing his opponents, and, GASP, comfortable with losing every now and then. As stated in the Journal Sentinel piece:

"Zeidler was undeterred by the fact that his stands were often lonely. To him, politics was never just about winning; it was about principle and issues." Zeidler was one of the first big city mayors to take the issues of racial discrimination and civil rights seriously, leading to vicious personal attacks.

I met Frank Zeidler at his modest Milwaukee home on August 24, 2001. Milwaukeean Doug Freshner (a great man in his own right), former producer and technical director for "Commentary," arranged for cohost Jim Mather and I to meet and interview him. I have the interview on VHS tape--someday I will have it transferred to a digital format.

Since Zeidler left office in 1960, Milwaukee and virtually every American city has suffered from almost 5 decades of mostly mindless, unsustainable development, most of it the product of an unholy alliance between profit driven builders and "professional" governments that have raised the strip mall and big box retail store to mythological status. Once liveable cities devolved to near rubble and were replaced by the ugly Frontage Road monster which municipal Mr. Hydes cloned along virtually every highway in America.

What became clear in our interview with Zeidler was that he never gave up on the idea of the city as a thriving space for citizenship, community, and commerce. Now that gas has passed the $3 per gallon mark, perhaps the idea of liveable cities featuring strong neighborhoods and reliable mass transit might gain currency.

We certainly won't get there without some Zeidler-like leadership.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Contact Information For Referendum Drives

The summer of 2006 is shaping up to be an active petition gathering season for Oshkosh area activists. Candidates for partisan office must have their signatures in to the State Elections Board by early next week. More significant are two referendum drives.

The first referendum drive is another attempt to provide Oshkosh voters with an opportunity to take a stand on the Iraq war: "Resolved: The United States should immediately withdraw from Iraq, beginning with the National Guard and Reserves." If you have interest in helping to collect signatures for this referendum, or want to sign it, contact Tina Haffeman (, Jenni Ryan ( or me (

The second referendum is an attempt to make sure that the $10 a month garbage fee ends up in the waste dump of history after December of this year. The "Resolution to Establish Fee for Collection of Solid Waste and Recyclables" says: Now, therefore, be it resolved, that a fee of ZERO DOLLARS per month per residential unit for collection by the city of Oshkosh of solid waste and recyclables is hereby established.

Be it further resolved, that said fee shall be in full force an effect starting January 1, 2007.

To help collect signatures or sign the petition, contact Carl Sosnoski (235-7263) or me (

GOP: Grand Old Pork

Today's Boston Globe exposes the hypocrisy of the Congressional Republican leadership in Washington that decries pork-barrel spending while helping to block 40 attempts this year to remove special interest "earmark" projects from spending bills.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Watada Charged For Refusal

Lt. Ehren Watada, the soldier who won't stand silent while American soldiers and innocent Iraqis die for a neo-con chicken hawk world order fantasy, was charged yesterday with "refusing to be deployed with his unit on June 22 and with expressing contempt against officials, including the president, and conduct 'unbecoming' of an officer."

Presumably the prosecutors will try to establish that it would be more "becoming" for Watada to willingly give up his life for a flawed policy rooted in incomptence and arrogance.

$14.1 Million and Counting

Wisconsin's State Elections Board has now doled out over $14 million of taxpayer money to the Accenture Coporation for a statewide voter registration database. Earlier reporting on this travesty by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is informative:

In addition to the $13.9 million the state has agreed to pay Accenture, millions more are being spent on other aspects of the voter registration project – including at least $4.1 million to another private firm, Deloitte Consulting, for project management and $10.2 million for state Elections Board staff oversight, hardware and data entry – for a total cost of at least $28.2 million. In contrast, Minnesota relied on state employees to do its statewide voter list and completed the work at a cost of $5.3 million.

The outsourcing of voter registration in Wisconsin is the offspring of a political promise Governor Jim Doyle made to eliminate 10,000 state jobs, thereby reducing the size of the state workforce to 1986 levels. Fulfilling that campaign promise has prompted the state to outsource government services to private companies, even when the cost of outsourcing is considerably greater for taxpayers.

This is the same State Elections Board whose Executive Director, Kevin Kennedy, resorted to parroting Diebold talking points at a Winnebago County Board meeting designed to air concerns about touch screen voting machines. It's interesting how the SEB is now parroting Accenture talking points to sweep under the rug the database disaster; in the Journal Sentinel article we learn that the voter list expense and the delay are the result of Wisconsin being "complex."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Mid-Atlantic Region's Wisconsin

Guess who made these statements:

"The focus on short-term solutions to long term problems has continuously compounded the state’s deficit. It cannot and will not continue. It has undermined our state’s credit rating and prevented us from addressing other challenges, like property taxes, stem cell research, school construction and ethics reform. For too long the main objective of the budget process has been to finish it."

"The goal has been to complete a budget and go home with as little political discomfort as possible. Today, finishing the budget, simply for that purpose, is not good enough."

"Short-term patches that get us through the night are no substitute for sound fiscal policies."

Could be Jim Doyle or Mark Green on the campaign trail--though at this point only establishment party hacks could be dumb enough to think that Doyle or Green will provide anything other than "short-term patches" to the state's deficit woes. Neither Doyle nor Green are willing to show the leadership necessary to make Wisconsin's tax code progressive, thus making the budget crisis a fact of life.

The statement was actually made by Democratic New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, a former US Senator who now as Jersey's Chief Executive is willing to tolerate the shutdown of non-essential government services until the Democrats in the assembly give him a sales tax increase. Corzine, aware that Democrats in the state have lost elections after proposing tax increases, also said:

"Is a budget to be a political platform to seek reelection, as has too often been the case in the past, or is it a statement of our mutually agreed upon priorities with an honest and real way to pay for those same priorities?"

That's the rhetoric of leadership, but simply proposing to raise the sales tax (a regressive tax) from 6 to 7 percent shows that Corzine really is playing just another version of politics as usual. A proposal to raise the top income tax rate would represent real leadership because it would force Corzine (former CEO of Goldman Sachs who spent at least $43 million to get elected) to take on his Wall St. buddies. Instead he proposes to raise a tax that disproportionately hurts those who spend a greater share of their income on consumer goods; i.e. middle class and poor people. Some leader.

New Jersey's Assembly is controlled by Democrats who have called Corzine's sales tax proposal "dead." The Assembly Dems are hardly flaming progressives either, and they are scared shitless of running for reelection in 2007 after voting for any tax increase in 2006, but at least they are considering the possibility of asking for more from the wealthy. According to the New York Times:

"Legislators said that among the alternatives that were being discussed in private were a proposal to increase the income tax in the top brackets, an idea the Corzine administration has been cool to."

Wisconsinites ought to follow the New Jersey budget deliberations very closely as they portend what will happen here next year: a Governor that talks big but will not offer real leadership, a wealthy special interest legislature paralyzed by a system that keeps them indebted to big donors, smoke and mirrors from establishment party hacks to cover up their mutual responsibility for the mess, and a disconnected/marginalized public that ultimately pays a heavy price.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hintz/Leschke in Journal-Sentinel

54th District Assembly candidates Gordon Hintz and Julie Pung-Leschke are both quoted in a Journal Sentinel article on "Candidates Don Campaign Faces." Nice people, but makes you long for a Green Party candidate in the race.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Corporations Aren't People

Joshua Holland of Alternet has a great idea for a Defense of Human Citizenship Amendment:

SECTION 1. Citizenship in the United States shall be conferred only on human beings. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that citizenship or the legal incidents thereof be granted to corporations, partnerships, proprietorships or trusts.

The passage of Measure T in Humbolt County, California last month represented an example of activists making some progress in the struggle to reign in the power of corporations.

Holland in the Alternet piece argues that the so-called left in America needs to be bold and borrow a page from Karl Rove's Scorched Earth Politics for Dummies, a strategy of which the proposed constitutional amendment campaign would be part.

The modern American "left," whatever and whoever that is, suffers from some powerful psychological barriers that make it difficult to get such campaigns off the ground. Probably the major psychological barrier is the tendency to blame the population for rejecting ideas that they have not even been exposed to. "The average person will never go for something like that," "that's too radical," etc.

Educating citizens about something like corporate power is difficult and not always rewarding, so I guess it makes sense that some "leftists" would adopt a psychological framework that would define the entire effort as not worth the time. Much easier to expend energy on the lesser evil candidate in a partisan race, I guess, since at least they "can win."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Meet Rae Vogeler

Wisconsin's next US Senator, the Green Party's Rae Vogeler, will be in Oshkosh on July 3rd and 4th:

Monday evening, 6:30 - 8 p.m., open house meet & greet, at the Hardy House, 1437 N. Main St., Oshkosh.
Tuesday morning, 9 a.m. Oshkosh 4th of July Parade, Rae Vogeler will be walking with the Lake Winnebago Green Party in the parade.

President Feingold?

I wrote the cover story for the July, 2006 edition of The Valley Scene. The story tries to answer three questions: how much enthusiam is there for a Russ Feingold for President campaign? Does Feingold want to run? Can he win? You can find the piece here.