I Want to Save a Child's Sight!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Sorry, I'm a nerd, but the title for the 7th, and final Harry Potter book was revealed today by author J.K. Rowling to be: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." [CNN] [Yahoo]

You can take Scholastic at their word, or go to the authors site, and try this:

"If you go to her home page, click on the eraser and you will be taken to a room -- you'll see a window, a door and a mirror.In the mirror, you'll see a hallway. Click on the farthest doorknob and look for the Christmas tree. Then click on the center of the door next to the mirror and a wreath appears. Then click on the top of the mirror and you'll see a garland.Look for a cobweb next to the door. Click on it, and it will disappear. Now, look at the chimes in the window. Click on the second chime to the right, and hold it down. The chime will turn into the key, which opens the door. Click on the wrapped gift behind the door, then click on it again and figure out the title yourself by playing a game of hangman."

Most readers are now fearing for our heroes' life. I for one feel that Harry will somehow make it through this, but many do not. I can't wait for the book to come out!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Ok, so now that the Christmas/Holiday/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah, et al, season is upon us, I would like to air a gripe.

Why does every f-*ing card have to be bathed in glitter??? I can't even tell you how high this is on my "things that piss Ben off" list.

So, I'm starting a petition. Leave a comment if you so desire.

I, the undersigned, hereby boycott and vow to malign all forms of glitter, that substance being so nicknamed whore or stripper-dust, or the bane of all existence. Any item received during this joyous holiday season that contains even a fleck of said glitter, will be immediately shunned, and all cards immediately burned. Those that support the giving and/or use of glitter will be stoned.

I, the undersigned, do solemnly swear, this 18th day of December, 2006:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Win One for Bob

Time to win one for Bob.

UW-Whitewater faces Mount Union in the Division III Title Game on ESPN (3 PM Central). Whitewater head coach Bob Berezowitz will be retiring after the game.

Go UW-W! Since this is my alma mater, I'll be pulling hard for my beloved Warhawks!

Game Preview UW-W coverage

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SENATOR Feingold

A letter from Russ:

"Dear Friends and Supporters,

On Sunday, November 12th in Racine, I will hold my 1000th Listening Session with the people of Wisconsin. Before reaching that milestone, I want you to know that I've decided to continue my role as Wisconsin's Junior Senator in the U.S. Senate and not to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

Like many Americans, I am excited by the results of the November 7th election. My fourteen years in the Senate have been the greatest privilege of my life and I am extremely pleased with what we have accomplished. During so much of that time, however, we Democrats have not only been in the minority but have often been so deeply mired there that my role has often been to block bad ideas or to simply dissent. That is a very important role but I relish the thought that in this new Congress we can start, not only to undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America, we can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies. The Senate of the 110th Congress could also well be a place of greater bi-partisan opportunities for change; something I am very proud to have been effective at in both Republican and Democratic Senates.

I hope all of you know how much I have appreciated the incredible response you have given me and the efforts of our Progressive Patriots Fund since January, 2005. In addition to all of our work in Wisconsin and D.C., I have traveled to seventeen states trying to promote the election of progressive Democrats in all states. At every stop from Birmingham, Alabama to Burlington, Vermont, to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, to Las Vegas, Nevada, people have agreed with my view that we need to stand up for a strong, principled Democratic party that is willing to replace timidity with taking the risks of promoting a platform of bold solutions to our nation's problems. Unfailingly, people responded well to my positions: opposition to the Iraq war; calling for a timeline to redeploy our troops from Iraq so we can focus on those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001; my opposition to the flawed provisions of the USA Patriot Act that threaten the freedoms of law-abiding Americans; my call for accountability for the Administration's arrogant disregard for the law especially with regard to illegal wiretapping; fighting for fiscal responsibility including tough common sense budget rules that will help end the reckless policies that have heaped a mountain of debt on our children and grandchildren; as well as my strong belief in guaranteed healthcare for all Americans and substantial investment in alternative energy sources and technologies.

Yet, while I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, "Run Russ Run", or "Russ in '08", I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations. This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured.

I'm sure a campaign for President would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda. At this time, however, I believe I can best advance that progressive agenda as a Senator with significant seniority in the new Senate serving on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary and Budget Committees. Although I have given it a lot of thought, I cannot muster the same enthusiasm for a race for President while I am trying simultaneously to advance our agenda in the Senate. In other words, if I really wanted to run for President, regardless of the odds or other possible candidates, I would do so. However, to put my family and all of my friends and supporters through such a process without having a very strong desire to run, seems inappropriate to me. And, yes, while I would strongly prefer that our nominee in 2008 be someone who had the judgment to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning, I am prepared to work as hard as I can through the Progressive Patriots Fund, and consistent with my duties in the Senate, to maintain or increase our gains from November 7 in the Congress and, of course, to elect a Democrat as President in 2008.

Most important, I want to continue my work as a Senator from this wonderful State of Wisconsin. Our fourteen year ongoing conversation that has taken place in hundreds of communities in Wisconsin in the form of open Listening Sessions is the principal reason I have been perceived as "ahead of the curve" on many key issues. Simply listening to the reasoning and passions of Wisconsinites remains the best source of good ideas and common sense I've ever encountered.

I love this country very much and am so lucky to be able to serve it in the United States Senate. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Recommendations for Tuesday

I won't call them "Endorsements" because they would carry all of the weight of a paper hammer. Instead, they are recommendations on how I hope these races turn out.

I urge you to support for reelection, Governor Jim Doyle. He has turned around a huge budget deficit, and has done a competent job in Madison. He's not perfect, he's not all that inspiring. But, his commitment to Education, something of utmost importance to me, and our futures, sets him FAR above challenger Mark Green.

House, 5th District:
I urge you to support Bryan Kennedy over incumbent F. Jim Sensenbrenner. Sensenbrenner is a partisan hack, who when challenged, takes his toys and goes home. Support a real change, vote Bryan Kennedy.

House, 8th District:
Kagen. Why? Vote Kagen. Gard is a pinched, self-serving, you-know-what. Can't stand him. Oh, and I'm qualified to say this because this is my home district. I grew up in the Green Bay area, and I know the people there. I still have a LOT of family up there. Kagen is the only choice in this race.

Does it really matter? Seriously. Van Hollen doesn't understand what the job is, and Falk is, according to Van Hollen, underqualified. Vote Falk.

Marriage Amendment:
Vote NO! VOTE NO!!! A Fair Wisconsin votes NO! This is such a backwards attempt at criminalizing something that is already illegal. Who the hell cares if someone is gay? Who the hell cares what they do with their lives? They should be afforded all of the same conveniences and legalities that everyone else is. I seem to remember something in an important National document that states "all men are created equal." I guess the Republicans didn't get that memo.

Death Penalty:
Vote NO! Vehemently, and without shame, vote NO. This is another attempt to turn Wisconsin's clock back to the "good old days" of 1850. It's called rehabilitation people.

Howard-Suamico Schools Referendum(s):
Vote YES and YES. Most of you in the Milwaukee area don't know anything about this one, but I do. The first question is to build a new, sorely-needed elementary school in Suamico, and the second is to do improvements on existing buildings. The district is expanding at an alarming rate, as families move out of the cities to the quiet "suburbs." Vote YES and YES to ensure that these kids have a classroom to go to every day.

There are many other races that I could profile, but haven't the time at this point. This should get you started anyway. I know, big surprise, I recommended the Democratic ticket. I don't hide my allegiances, and will flat out say right now that I REALLY hope the Dems take back both the House and Senate, and we can get back to doing the business of this country, rather than just for big business.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Support Bryan Kennedy on November 7th

Pardon me for being so incredulous, but what happened to the JS? Did the Editorial staff grow a conscience overnight?

Today, they endorsed Bryan Kennedy for the 5th Congressional district, over F. Jim Sensenbrenner. You can read the endorsement here. Here are some highlights:

"Two years ago, we recommended Jim Sensenbrenner for another term representing Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Today, we simply cannot. Sensenbrenner has been wrong on too much, from an immigration policy that puts him at odds with much of his own party and the business community to failure to exert meaningful oversight over White House domestic spying policies."

"Sensenbrenner was wrong on immigration. His enforcement-only plan included making felons of undocumented immigrants and a useless 700-mile fence that will do nothing to solve this national problem. Worse for Republicans, his obstinacy split his own party and cost it a rare opportunity to significantly broaden its base. Sensenbrenner was wrong on the USA Patriot Act. We need many of its provisions in this era of terrorism, but the version he championed strode upon the liberty of every American. Sensenbrenner was wrong on Real ID, which will cost states millions of dollars to implement and which fixed something that wasn't broken. Sensenbrenner was wrong not to dig deeper into the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but didn't bother with the real spade work. Sensenbrenner was wrong to waste taxpayers' money by taking more than $160,000 in junkets since 1994, not to mention the more than $200,000 in world travel paid for by lobbyists and think tanks over the past six years. Sensenbrenner was wrong to push bills that would make it harder for police agencies to track illegal guns and to crack down on rogue gun dealers. Sensenbrenner was wrong to indict Milwaukee as "fast becoming the murder capital of the U.S." and wrong to lash out at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, calling him a "crybaby" for having the brass to criticize Congress. It's but one example of the congressman's increasingly belligerent and unproductive tone."

Sensenbrenner is just wrong. Please support Bryan Kennedy on November 7th.

Friday, October 20, 2006

To The Undecided

Whomever you may be...

I'm really not sure how anyone could be undecided in this years Governors race between Democrat Incumbent Jim Doyle, and Republican challenger, Mark Green. Much like I couldn't fathom being undecided in the last Presidental election.

That being said, see for yourself where you stand with the candidates by taking this JS Online quiz. It's best if you check 'Select All,' and have all 15 issue questions. Let's just say that I heavily favored one candidate over the other.

And don't forget to watch the debate tonight! It airs on MPTV at 7, or WTMJ-4 at 10:30.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Drinking Liberally!

Happy Birthday, Drinking Liberally!

Sadly, no, I will not be able to attend tonight. My wife is all achy, and I can't leave her home alone with a 10-month old.

I know, I know...I've been a BAD Ben PAC!!! I haven't attended in a long while, and they're even bringing cake!!! Read for yourself:

"Drinking Liberally has been coming together in Milwaukee for the past year! It's been a great year of making friendships, networking, and having a darn good time.

One of our members will be bringing delicious cake, so get your tuckus down to Club G on Wednesday (September 13) and enjoy the cake (free!), chicken wings (30 cents apiece!) and Spotted Cow ($2 off pitchers!), and celebrate a great year of bringing the Left together in Milwaukee!

7:00 onward at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior St. in Bay View (a.k.a. Milwaukee)."

DL is a great event. It brings all sorts of really wonderful people together, united by a cause. I will make a better attempt to come again SOON. Sorry that I can't join you all!

Friday, August 25, 2006


So, we just moved from our duplex on the east side, near the University, to Brown Deer. We really like it here so far. The neighbors seem nice, and the house is fantastic.

I wanted to find our new polling place online, so I knew where to vote in the primary coming up in two short weeks. I also wanted to find out whom our State Representative and Senator were. Little did I expect.....

F. Jim.

I can't say that I'm surprised, but after being spoiled by having Gwen Moore as our Rep for two years now, I'm more than disappointed.

I met Bryan Kennedy two years ago at an event for GrassRoots NorthShore, where he showed up to campaign for F. Jim's seat. I was immediately impressed by his poise, and most especially, his message. He was positive. He was engaging. I wasn't in his district, told him so, and he still wanted to talk to me. This was someone that I could get behind. Now, I am able to get behind him for real, where my vote will count for him.

For anyone on the fence in this race, if that's possible (if only because F. Jim is so polarizing), I urge you to give Bryan Kennedy a chance. Check out his campaign website, and the comparison between the candidates.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Little Pink Houses

For you and me.

Yes, that's right, even in this "blazing" economy of Bush's, my wife, daughter and I were able to "afford" a house. (Not a pink house by the way, it just sounded cool)

That's the majority of the reason for my long departure. Again, I apologize. I really did want to comment on the Stem Cell fiasco. (I'm really pissed, as you can imagine)

But, once we finally get settled, I'll hopefully be able to post more, and to attend Drinking Liberally again.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Republican Priorities

We all know that the Republicans don't care about Joe Normal and every other non-rich family in America. But does the "average" person know about the Republican priorites? The good-puppy press reports that our "great leader" and his cronies have our best interests at heart, but do they really? Here are two recent issues that show where the heart of conservatives really lie.

Comforting the Comfortable

"Two weeks ago, the Senate killed an effort to repeal the federal estate tax on multimillion-dollar fortunes. The "no" votes were a stand for budget sanity and basic fairness. But the pro-repeal camp doesn't want to take no for an answer."

"In an attempt to rally support, House lawmakers have included in the bill another, totally unrelated, tax cut — for timber companies, worth $900 million over the next three years. The measure, based on the theory that American timber companies are at a disadvantage in the global marketplace, is essentially a special-interest giveaway that would encourage every business with international competitors to demand its own tax break. There is much to reform on the competitiveness front, but it should be done comprehensively, not on the basis of who has the senators best positioned to carve out a special deal."

"All this effort for a bill that would put $760 billion in new debt on the backs of Americans in the name of making a handful of extremely rich people even richer. Congressional leaders may know how to count votes, but otherwise their math is pathetic."

Afflicting the Afflicted

"At the same time that Republicans are fighting to exempt the richest estates from taxes, they are blocking a raise for the nation's poorest workers."

"Senate Democrats tried unsuccessfully this week to raise the federal minimum wage, which stands at just $5.15 an hour. It has not been increased in nearly a decade, and at its current stingy level, the rate flies in the face of Americans' belief that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded. A minimum-wage worker earns just $10,700 a year, nearly $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Since the minimum wage was first adopted, there has been a long tradition of bipartisan support for regular raises."

"Just 23 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll. These dismal ratings are no surprise when Congress's highest economic priority is handing out tax cuts to millionaires and oil companies, and its one point of fiscal restraint is protecting employers from having to pay a decent wage to factory workers and waiters."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good News on AAR in Milwaukee

Got this in the ol' inbox today:

"Nova M Radio, the company owned by Air America founders Shel and Anita Drobny, has identified a radio station for sale in Milwaukee. Nova M, which is working with us to bring AAR to Wisconsin, is not at liberty to reveal which station it is, but we understand that it’s a good station with excellent coverage of the greater Milwaukee area. That’s wonderful news.

The challenge? The current owners will not lease it. They will only sell it outright.

For five million dollars.

That’s one hefty goal. But it’s not mission impossible. The potential for a strong progressive radio voice in Milwaukee is there. We just need several million bucks to buy the microphone. So we’re calling upon on everyone in Milwaukee’s progressive community to participate in the spirit of this truly progressive venture.

If you’re of modest means and you’d like to stake your claim in bringing a progressive voice to Milwaukee, become a founding sponsor of the station. Go to AirAmericaMilwaukee.com, click “BECOME A FOUNDING SPONSOR,” and follow the instructions.

If, on the other hand, you’re financially capable of INVESTING on a larger scale – or if you know of anyone else who has the resources – email us at info@airamericamilwaukee.com, and we’ll hook you up with Nova M. It’s not just a moral investment. It’s a financial investment in talk radio’s biggest success story, Air America Radio.


The Milwaukee Air Force"

Hopefully we can bring this quality radio programming to Milwaukee!

Friday, June 02, 2006

My Absence

I apologize for my recent (the last month) absence. Life has taken over my......life, and blogging has taken a back seat to my daughter.

I see that in my absence, I lost my coveted spot towards the top of the alphabetical listing of "lefties" on Xoff's blog. I also have a lot of blogs to add to my blogroll...there are several new blogs on the WI section of Lefty Blogs.

Anyways, I'll try to come up with some new hard-hitting posts in the very near future. It's just hard when your wife is out of town and you're home alone with a 7-month old! That, and some question on the future and direction of my blog, and there you have a nice little hiatus.

I promise I'll return! Oh, and for those wondering, we've now brewed TWO batches of beer! The first was and is pretty iffy...but the second is just OUTSTANDING. Go Bock! :)

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Way with Words

Sorry, I had to post this, it's just hilarious:

"While Congress is up on Capitol Hill declaring English the national language, President Bush was downtown trying to enrich it.

He reprised a word of his own coinage, "suicider," as his own shorthand for "suicide bomber." According to various Web sites that track the field of English studies known as "Bushisms," he first used "suicider" in 2002 and has invoked the word frequently since.

"Suicider" is in none of the standard dictionaries, not even the 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary considered the definitive standard. At least the word is not there yet; the president is a determined individual.

He used "suicider" again Tuesday. Four times. In the White House. In the stately East Room. At a serious diplomatic function. In front of a visiting head of government, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. How much more serious can you get?

So there it is. "Suicider" is a for-real word. The Decider has spoken."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Johnny Everlasting

I'm embarrassed.

No, I didn't trip over my shoelaces, or fart in public. I'm embarrassed because of Johnny Lechner.

I attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. (Note to UW-M students: I have no qualms with the Wisconsin-Whitewater moniker. Let that be a lesson to you.) I had a fantastic time in college, and I graduated in five and half years with two bachelors degrees.
Never once did I want to stay in school longer than that. By the time I finished, I was READY to be done. Not so for Johnny Lechner, who has already been in school for 12 years, and is coming back for more. This of course has earned him notoriety and some small measure of fame. Stop. Don't feed his ego.

He was scheduled to finally graduate this spring. Five days before graduation, he pulled his application, and stated: "I realized that if I went one more year, I could study abroad," Lechner said. "That's one thing I haven't done."

I was at UW-W at the same time, in the middle of his perpetual stay. I met him a few times, mostly because he could play a guitar and liked to serenade the ladies. Ladies: he has nothing to offer you...he's 29, and still in college...the first time.

You can unfortunately read more about him here: [JohnnyLechner.com] [CNN] [JSOnline]

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

So Big!

My daughter Keira is six months old today. I can't believe how fast the time has gone, and how big she has grown! She is now 16 lbs, and 25 1/2 inches. Here's what she looked like six months ago. You can see more pictures here.
Happy six-months Keira! Daddy Loves you!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Limbaugh Arrested

"Rush Limbaugh was arrested Friday on prescription drug charges, law enforcement officials said." [Yahoo]

Yes, that's correct. Everyone's favorite wingnut radio host was arrested today in Florida on charges of "fraud to conceal information to obtain prescription."

He posted bail and was released an hour later. We all knew he was on drugs (look at half of the stuff he says), but really, good one Rush-o!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mouth of Sauron Resigns

Breaking: The "White House shakeup" continues today with Bush mouth-piece Scott McClellan resigning.

"Appearing with Bush on the White House South Lawn just before the president boarded a helicopter at the start a trip to Alabama, McClellan, who has parried especially fiercely with reporters on Iraq and on intelligence issues, told Bush: "I have given it my all sir and I have given you my all sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary." [Yahoo]

Glad this liar is leaving...can we get rid of the rest of them too? Will Rumsfeld have the stones to do the same? Nope.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reverse Glass Ceiling

I've never written about my job before. Those of you that have attended Drinking Liberally (when I've been able to attend) know where I work, and that I love it there...except for this:

I've run into a brick wall lately. I have applied for a position in another department three times, and have not been treated fairly all three times. I'm applying for this position for several reasons: interest, a new challenge, it's a natural career path for me, and of course the pay raise. But I've run up against a glass ceiling, one usually reserved for one of the not so much white-male sector of the population.

To define, from Wiki: "The term glass ceiling (or officially known as 'vertical segregation') refers to the observation that upper management in corporations and other large organizations consists predominately, if not exclusively, of a certain demographic (e.g., white heterosexual men) despite non-discrimination policies. A "ceiling" is suggested because persons outside the dominant demographic group are evidently limited in how far they are able to advance inside the organization ranks; the ceiling is "glass" (transparent) because the limitation is not immediately apparent. The "glass ceiling" is distinguished from formal barriers to advancement, such as education or experience requirements. The existence of the glass ceiling is frequently cited as a failure of existing anti-discrimination action."

Basically, what happened is that three times I've applied, and three times this department has hired a less qualified woman. I have absolutely no issue with whomever they would hire, if they are the most qualified/best fit person that applied and interviewed. That is, however, not the case. My company works on the basis that you can hire whomever you want, just make it look legit. Even in my own department, many people have been passed over for promotions and extra duties because they weren't part of the "inner circle," those that have the power and make the decisions. Apparently, I have to be a woman to be hired in this department, or kiss a lot of ass in my own to move up. Sorry, but I come from the school of thought that those with the best ideas, the merit, the talent, and the proven abilities move up. Apparently, not so much. I guess it only took me 4 years out of college to figure that out.

Does anyone else out there have a similar experience here in Milwaukee? Any suggestions?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

6th Title

Congrats to the Wisconsin Badgers on winning their 6th National Title last night at the Bradley Center! [UWBadgers] [WSJ] [JSOnline] [Slideshow] [JS - Special Section]

When you say Wisconsin, YOU'VE SAID IT ALL!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tom, In His Own Words

With the hammer falling on...well, the hammer this week, here are some of my favorite Tom DeLay quotes, from Christy Harvey at the Center for American Progress:

1. “Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” – Those famous DeLay priorities. (And here we thought it would be “providing armor” or “having an exit strategy.”)
2. “I AM the federal government.” – Smokin’ Tom to a staffer, after being told he wasn’t allowed to puff on his cigar in a federal building.
3. “You know, you’re never a prophet in your own hometown.” – DeLay, explaining his unpopularity with some of his constituents. (Houston Chronicle, 8/23/98)
4. “We march forward with a biblical worldview, a worldview that says God is our Creator, that man is a sinner, and that we will save this country by changing the hearts and minds of Americans.” – DeLay’s view of his role in government.
5. “When faced with the truth, the truth hurts. It is human nature not to face that… People hate the messenger. That’s why they killed Christ.” – DeLay, explaining why some Americans weren’t delighted with that “biblical worldview.”
6. “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?”— DeLay to children living in the Astrodome during Hurricane Katrina
7. “So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself.” – Houston Chronicle, repeating DeLay’s rationale for not serving in Vietnam.
8. They’re the “Gestapo of government:” – DeLay, proving it’s not easy being green, talking about the Environmental Protection Agency.
9. “Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup.” – DeLay, blaming the shootings at Columbine on, obviously, teaching evolution in schools.
10. “This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS – not only do you kick him – you kick him until he passes out – then beat him over the head with a baseball bat – then roll him up in an old rug – and throw him off a cliff into the pounding surf below!!!!” – DeLay right-hand Michael Scanlon (yes, that Michael Scanlon, the Jack Abramoff buddy who used to work for The Hammer) in an email during the Clinton impeachment trial.

Special Bonus Countdown: Five Things You Wish You Knew About Tom DeLay
1. DeLay Gone Wild. DeLay was kicked out of Baylor University for…oh, how did his spokesman put it… “too vigorous a social life.”
2. Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em. DeLay reportedly started smoking at age 6, becoming the first kid in 2nd grade to suffer from nic fits.
3. Magnum P.I. He Ain’t. DeLay shaved his moustache in 1984 after a study found Republicans wouldn’t elect a guy with facial hair. (Houston Chronicle, 6/22/06)
4. Wasn’t Indiana Jones Taller? DeLay “keeps two large leather bullwhips on display in his Capitol office, occasionally demonstrating his prowess in whipcracking.” Oooh, Tom!
5. The Nicknames That Aren’t Fit to Print. The Hammer. The Exterminator. The Meanest Man In Congress. Hot Tub Tom.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Milwaukee Democratic Party

I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to the Milwaukee Democratic Party. They have a new website, and even though my blog is listed on there as The Ben Pac, you should still check it out. They have a smattering of Milwaukee blogs on the right side, and the site is pretty clean and user friendly.

Note to the Milwaukee Dems: my blog is actually Ben PAC (as in Political Action Committee)...for those of you new to my site, it started as a joke while working on the Kerry and Feingold campaigns in 2004, and now, it's my blog name. Although, the "The" title is pretty quality...Is that like Stephon Marbury calling himself Starbury?


Weren't our gas prices supposed to go DOWN? Here's a site that shows the current state of Milwaukee gas prices. I'll give you a hint: not pretty.

Didn't Bush tell us that by going to Iraq, and "fighting HIS good fight" that we'd have lower gas prices? Bush allowed fuel rules to be tightened this week, but not by much, and they don't go into effect until 2008. This "savings" amounts to a few weeks worth of oil consumption, not the years that Bush would have you believe.

It's getting harder and harder to afford to drive to work. Other countries pay a lot more for gas than we do, but they also use LESS of it. With wages stagnant (while CEO salaries shoot through the roof), it becomes harder for middle-class Americans to afford gas. (Read the original post at STiTP).

Cheney Steps Down

In a bold move, Vice-President Dick Cheney has stepped down effective immediately, according to White House sources. They would not state the reason why he has stepped down, or if Bush asked him to step aside.

Cheney is expected to address the media shortly.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Walker Walks Away

Scott Walker gave up his bid for the Wisconsin Governorship today.

"Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is pulling the plug on his bid for the governor’s office, leaving fellow Republican Mark Green a clear shot at incumbent Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in November. He planned to make the announcement early this evening during a speech at a Republican Party congressional caucus in Waukesha where Green was also scheduled to appear. "I give my full support and endorsement to my friend Mark Green," Walker said in a speech prepared for a 5th Congressional District audience at the Country Springs Hotel. He released a copy of his remarks this afternoon to the Journal Sentinel." [JSOnline]

Make no mistake; this is a big win for Wisconsin. But, we have miles to go with Mark Green, who is worse than Walker, if at all possible. The DPW had this to say:

"“The good news for Wisconsin voters is that Scott Walker is out of the race; the bad news is that extreme Mark Green is still in it. Make no mistake; Scott Walker would have been the wrong choice for Wisconsin’s next Governor. But it is hard to recall a candidate as vulnerable and ill-suited to serve as Mark Green. "

Good Riddance Walker...I hope you don't ever run for office again; but that might too much to hope for.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

End the War

I apologize for the lack of bloggy-goodness lately. Life has been interesting.

But this got me (and has had me) riled up. This weekend is the three year anniversary of our illegal invasion of Iraq. What have we accomplished? What does the future hold? Why are we still there? These are questions that our leadership cannot, and is not qualified to, answer.

There have been many rallies to end the war all around the world, including Sydney, Australia, Tokyo, and Turkey. Sunday, they protested in South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, and London.

All protesting under one theme: Get the US out of Iraq. I think that it would come as no surprise to most of you that popular world opinion is against this war. Popular opinion in the US has turned against the administration, and against our occupation. Blame can be spread around for this. Bush wanted to take us into Iraq from the moment he took the oath of office (and probably before). Rumsfeld, our Secretary of Defense, has botched the war planning on every level.

From the NYTimes:

"Many who supported the invasion have taken this anniversary to argue that it all would have been worthwhile if things had been run better. They argue that if the coalition forces had been large enough to actually secure the country, to keep insurgents from raiding Saddam Hussein's ammunition depots, to give the people a sense of safety, the country might well be on the road to a hopeful future. We doubt it. The last three years have shown how little our national leaders understood Iraq, and have reminded us how badly attempts at liberation from the outside have gone in the past. Given where we are now, the question of whether a botched invasion created a lost opportunity might be moot, except for one thing. The man who did the botching, Donald Rumsfeld, is still the secretary of defense."

"Chances are that at the time George W. Bush did not have an inkling of how badly he was being served by the decision makers at the Pentagon. But the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld continues to hold his job tells us that Mr. Bush doesn't care, that he prefers living in the same dream world that his secretary of defense inhabits. In their wishful thinking, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld undoubtedly tell themselves what they tell us: that the Iraqi people are better off than they were under the brutal dictator, that the Iraqi security forces are gradually learning how to take over defense of their own country and that a unified government is still a good possibility. It's true that many Iraqis are better off. Others are in far worse straits — their homes have been ruined, their relatives killed, their jobs evaporated and their ability to walk the streets in safety obliterated. Women's rights are being threatened in the south, and sectarian warfare has put families with mixed Shiite-Sunni ancestry at risk in their own neighborhoods. It is hard to quantify relative degrees of misery and pain in these circumstances. But unlike the horrors of Saddam Hussein, the horrors of the present can be laid at America's doorstep." [NYT]

There are several conclusions that we can draw from all of this, but I'll leave most of that for the historians. One, Bush got us into this war on false pretenses, and to disasterous results. Two, Donald Rumsfeld is a terrible decision maker, and lives in the same fantasy-world that Bush lives in. They call it "Everything-is-fine-land."

"The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies." By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input. In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down." [NYT]

Please...let's show our brave troops that we really support them, not with car magnets, but by bringing them home.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wisdom at Last

On March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Maryland Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at American University, was requested to testify. At the end of the testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said:

“Mr. Raskin, my Bible says that marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?”

Raskin replied:

“Senator, when you took the oath of office, you swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not swear to uphold the Bible.”

The room erupted in applause.

I received this this in an e-mail, but I found the quote online. You can view this candidates profile here, where he is a candidate for State Senate in Maryland. While the quote above differs just a wee bit from the original on his site, the sentiment is the same. People, let's put religion and prejudice aside, and allow everyone the same rights.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Shoot Harry

You have to check out this online game! Make sure you have LOTS of beer before you shoot, just like Unka Dick!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The OK to Discriminate Amendment

A lot has been said in the blogosphere and cheddarsphere about the so-called "Marriage Amendment." I will from now on call this the "Ok to Discriminate Amendment," which passed the assembly last night 62-31. One Republican voted No, and six democrats voted yes.

You all know where I stand on this issue: it's a terrible idea, rooted in fear and bad politics. Republicans are trying to turn out more of the vote in November against Doyle, and now, against common sense. Why do we have to discriminate? Are we really going to amend the Constitution of our state to write in discrimination? This will not defend "traditional marriage." All this does is legalize discrimination against a particular group. I thought all men were created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I guess I was wrong. Aren't representatives supposed to listen to their constituents? I guess not...only 70% of Wisconsin is opposed to this.

Here, however, is my favorite quote from Rep. John Gard (R-Sun Prairie) : "Schneider confronted Gard in the hallway to criticize the move. "Go to hell, Marlin," Gard responded." Wow...was Gard channeling his inner Dick Cheney? [GB P-G]

Xoff has it right...Be sure to also read NO on the Amendment, and Fair Wisconsin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Favorite Headlines: 02/22/06

Bush Out of Loop on Port Deal [NYT] [CBS]

"President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday."

Hmm...so, who was "approving" this deal? Who in the administration was approving this deal, and how did Bush not know about it? And wouldn't they then have to get Congressional approval after "approving" it? This totally doesn't add up, and someone is lying. My bet is on Bush, who was most likely told by Rove and "senior officials" to say that he didn't know about the deal until after. Purely my speculation, of course, but nonetheless, it fits. So if Bush says he didn't know about it until after it was "approved," then my question is, why is he so vehement about vetoing any Congressional attempt to block this terrible deal?

Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War [Yahoo] [NYT]

"A powerful explosion shattered the golden dome of one of Iraq's most revered Shiite shrines this morning, setting off a day of almost unparalleled sectarian fury in cities and towns across Iraq as protesting mobs took to the streets to chant for revenge and set fire to dozens of Sunni mosques." and "Insurgents posing as police destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, setting off an unprecendented spasm of sectarian violence. Angry crowds thronged the streets, militiamen attacked Sunni mosques, and at least 19 people were killed."

I thought the insurgency was in its last throes? At least that's what they want you to think. Nope, they disguise themselves as police, and then bomb a holy site. I'm telling you that insurgency is dying out! Is it 2008 yet?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Budget Fictions

I rarely do this, because I don't like to just copy and paste, but this editorial from the NYT was just too good to pass up:

"When it comes to President Bush's new budget plan, what you don't know will hurt you."

"Mr. Bush's spending and taxing proposals are a mass of missing information. The cost of keeping the military in Iraq and Afghanistan isn't included. Neither, as it turns out, are the usual projections of the long-term effects of proposals to cut $183 billion from domestic programs other than entitlements."

"The administration's obfuscation is, however, being deciphered by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent watchdog organization. Specialists backtracked through tables of opaque data and deduced the following: Over five years, veterans' benefits would be cut 13 percent, or $10 billion. Despite all the political talk about energy research and alternate fuels, $4.4 billion would be cut from energy programs. Environmental spending, including for national parks, would be cut 22 percent, or $28 billion; housing, fuel, child care and nutrition programs for the poor and elderly would lose 13 percent, or $24 billion. Topping this surreal concoction is a 13 percent cut — $53 billion — in education and job programs by 2011."

"Political realists have already declared the budget dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. That's not enough. The administration's assault on domestic programs should stand as a permanent reminder of the folly of the $285 billion in additional upper-bracket tax cuts the president and the Republican-controlled Congress are aiming for across the next five years. Despite the budget fictions, the damage from the tax-cut mania will haunt future generations." [NYT]

Just take a look at what this budget is, a give-away to his rich corporate buddies and donors, and a screw-the-poor initiative. He comes to Milwaukee touting "alternative energy" and then with the other hand cuts support for it. $53 billion in cuts to education and job programs over the next five years! Has this man no soul? Or did he lose it in a game of poker when he was all coked up?


"President Bush said this afternoon that he would veto any legislation seeking to block the administration's decision to allow a state-owned company from Dubai to assume control of port terminals in New York and other cities."

"Mr. Bush's rare veto threat came as Republican leaders and many of their Democratic counterparts called up today for the port takeover to be put on hold. They demanded that the Bush administration conduct a further investigation of the Dubai company's acquisition of the British operator of the six American ports."

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Mr. Bush told reporters who were traveling with him on Air Force One to Washington, according to news agencies. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, 'We'll treat you fairly." [NYT]

Could this be the first veto from Bush??? He would really choose this issue as his first veto in office? Ok, so pretty much every Senator has come out against this idea. And how does the Administration respond? By calling it racism. David Sirota says that this is all about free trade, and that there is a deal in the works for a free trade agreement with the UAE:

"The fact that no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact is telling. Here we have a major U.S. security scandal with the same country we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of a burgeoning national security scandal."

What happened to "we won't negotiate with terrorists?"

Monday, February 20, 2006

No Safe Port

The rats are in charge of watching the cheese.

"Two Republican governors on Monday questioned a Bush administration decision allowing an Arab-owned company to operate six major U. S. ports, saying they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states."

"The deal -- which will affect the ports of New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Miami, Florida; and New Orleans, Louisiana -- has triggered security concerns among some members of Congress and the public."

Bush has sold and turned over control of US Port Security to a company from the United Arab Emirates, or UAE. Great idea! Let's turn control of six of our most important, and largest ports to a foreign government with documented links to terrorism against our country. How many times did Bush use the term 9/11 in any of his recent speeches, and yet, he can't figure out that the UAE actually had a part in that attack?

"Critics have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, they contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea, and Libya by a Pakistani scientist." [Yahoo] [CNN] [WP] [NYDaily]

Just another way that Bush is making this country less safe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

MY Spring Starts Today

Well, the weather outside is frightful, but that doesn't dampen my spirits today. Whatever the forecast may be, MY spring starts today.

Is Ben crazy? (No more than usual...). Today, pitchers and catchers reported for spring training! It is one of the happiest days of the year, and marks the true beginning of spring. Sure, they practice in warm, sunny climes like Mesa, AZ, and Winter Haven, FL, but that means that better weather, and better days are on their way.

Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney's Got A Gun

From David Letterman last night:

Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses

10. "Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm"

9. "Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page"

8. "Not enough Jim Beam"

7. "Trying to stop the spread of bird flu"

6. "I love to shoot people"

5. "Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter"

4. "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"

3. "Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?"

2. "Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly"

1. "Made a bet with Gretzky's wife"

(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter

"Vice President Dick Cheyney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets. Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was "alert and doing fine" in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday after he was shot by Cheney on a ranch in south Texas, said Katharine Armstrong, the property's owner." [Yahoo]

So, what information did this guy have on Cheney?

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Olympics Are Coming!

The Turin Olympic Games are here!!!!!!!!! (For those keeping score at home, these are the games of the XX Olympiad).

Here's part of the reason that I love the Olympics.

But, for 17 days, we all get to become experts in sports and activities that we may have never even heard of before. I mean, they can include Curling in the Winter Games, but Baseball isn't in the Summer Games?

No, seriously, I love the Olympics. U-S-A! U-S-A!

The Innocent Have Nothing to Hide

Thanx Xoff! The original is at Working for Change.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Errors - HELP!!!

Sorry that I haven't posted a lot in the last few days...I've been having a lot of trouble with my browser(s). I made the mistake of downloading IE 7 (Beta 2), which overwrote my IE 6.x. Now, I can't seem to view anything correctly, because any website with any kind of security doesn't allow you to use a beta browser, including Blogger. So, I've been trying to figure out how I can go back to my original browser, and in the meantime, I downloaded Firefox.

Does anyone have any recommendations for me? (PLEASE leave a comment!!!) It will probably be months before IE 7 is mainstream enough to be accepted by most/all websites. I do like Firefox, however!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tax Hell

"President Bush had it exactly backwards in his speech Tuesday night when he exhorted lawmakers to keep cutting taxes. He noted that when the going gets tough, leaders are tempted to take stands that are crowd pleasing yet counterproductive, like championing protectionism in the face of global competition. Fair enough." "But then he warned that in today's uncertain times, lawmakers might even be tempted to do something as weak-kneed as "increasing taxes."

"We hope Congress will realize that extending the tax cuts would be an act of political cowardice, not courage. The country is already deep in debt, and the tax cuts are largely to blame. In the next two weeks, the administration expects to hit the nation's legal debt limit — $8,184,000,000,000 — and has told Congress it needs to vote to raise the debt ceiling to nearly $9 trillion, a 51 percent increase since 2001, when Mr. Bush took office. Congress must raise the limit or the government will default. But Congressional leaders are looking for ways to downplay the vote, precisely because it's a disgrace."

"Casting the tax cuts in stone now would be particularly craven because they don't expire for another three to five years. But Mr. Bush and his supporters in Congress are hot to act now. That is because the cuts they want to extend the most — special low tax rates for investment income — overwhelmingly enrich the rich and will be even harder to justify in the years to come, when, by all reasonable estimates, the country's financial outlook will have deteriorated further. The tax cutters are not being brave. They are afraid they won't get their way if they wait." [NYT]

Whatever happened to having a sane tax policy? How did Bush squander the surplus that Clinton left him? Why is nobody else asking him these questions? Wake up America, you may have to accept a bit of sacrifice, and have your tax bill go up by $2. These tax cuts were meant to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer, and they're doing a great job of it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hilarious or Ironic?

This has to be one of the funniest (ok, most ironic) headlines I have ever read:

"Bush to Say 'America Is Addicted to Oil' in Speech" or "Bush Will Urge End To Oil Addiction" [NYT] [Yahoo] [CNN]

"President Bush plans to tell Americans tonight that they must not retreat from challenges at home and abroad, that they make the economy of the United States the best in the world, but that they must break a national "addiction" to oil." And "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. ... The best way to break this addiction is through technology," Bush will say."

A noble goal to be sure...but, what has Bush done except the OPPOSITE of this statement??? Isn't that the "junk science" that Bush has been touting for the last five years?

All the more reason why we should be a wary audience for the State of the Union tonight.

Excerpt: "When President Bush gives his State of the Union address tonight, expect to hear a renewed call for setting the administration's first-term tax cuts in concrete, combined with warnings that letting the cuts expire would retard economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"As proof of tax cuts' ability to spur the economy, Mr. Bush generally cites productivity growth, job creation and the rise in personal income. Productivity has indeed been stellar, and supply-siders claim that is because tax cuts have led to investment, which led to higher productivity. But business investment has been flat for five years. Meanwhile, the benefits of productivity growth have been concentrated among the wealthy. So tax cuts haven't unleashed investment, but they have contributed to inequality."

Breaking: Concealed Weapons Veto Override Falls Short

Score one for common sense:

"The state Assembly today came up short in its attempt to override Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto of a measure that would have allowed residents to carry concealed weapons. The 64-to-32 vote was a boost to Doyle, who mustered enough support from fellow Democrats to fend off a veto override on the measure for a second time. All Republicans voted for the override; they were joined by Democratic Reps. Barbara Gronemus of Whitehall, Mary Hubler of Rice Lake, Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids and Amy Sue Vruwink of Milladore." [JSOnline]

The United States of Discord

Tonight, Bush will stand before the nation at 8 PM CST and tell us that he has no new ideas on how to fix the problems that face this once-great nation.

Yes, that's right...we will hear the exact same rhetoric that we've been hearing since the 2004 election season began. We will hear about making his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. We will hear about the state of health care, and how we must dismantle Medicare/Medicaid because it is a social program and too expensive. We will hear about Social Security, and how his private accounts will do nothing to create long-term solvency. We will hear that the war in Iraq will go on forever, and more of our brave service men and women will go on dying and being maimed for a pack of lies.

Topics that Bush will cover, and links:

Here's what Xoff thinks about what Bush will say on Healthcare.
Jeff Hall has a hilarious (and sadly true) cartoon.
The Amtal Rule on Healthcare: We're broke!
The Center for American Progress: What Bush Will Say, What You Should Know. They have great reviews on such topics as:
-Alternative Energy
-Warrantless Domestic Spying
-Making Tax Cuts Permanent
-Katrina Reconstruction
-Healthcare and HSA

Monday, January 30, 2006

Virtual Confirmation

By a vote of 72-25, the Senate voted to cloture today, virtually assuring that Samuel Alito will receive confirmation to the Supreme Court tomorrow.

"Some Democrats and at least one Republican who voted to end debate are certain to oppose the nominee in the actual confirmation vote on Tuesday. But since only a simple majority is required for confirmation, Samuel Alito could be a member of the Supreme Court by Tuesday afternoon." [NYT]

"In the end, only 24 of the chamber's 44 Democrats went along with the filibuster, a maneuver allowed under Senate rules to block a vote by extending debate indefinitely. It was also supported by the chamber's lone independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont." [CNN]

"Now, on the eve of what is expected to be the Senate confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, coming four months after Chief Justice Roberts was installed, those planners stand on the brink of a watershed for the conservative movement. In 1982, the year after Mr. Alito first joined the Reagan administration, that movement was little more than the handful of legal scholars who gathered at Yale for the first meeting of the Federalist Society, a newly formed conservative legal group. Judge Alito's ascent to join Chief Justice Roberts on the court "would have been beyond our best expectations," said Spencer Abraham, one of the society's founders, a former secretary of energy under President Bush and now the chairman of the Committee for Justice, one of many conservative organizations set up to support judicial nominees." [NYT]

So, here we are...ready to give another Bush nominee a free pass to a LIFETIME appointment. The jury is still out on Roberts, but while he was accomplished, Alito is anything but. He has proven himself to be an ideologue. Then you've got Senators like Herb Kohl. You sir, are a tool. You leave me breathless with disappointment. Even if you vote against confirmation tomorrow, you are still a complete disappointment.

Score another rubber-stamp victory for Bush.

Friday, January 27, 2006

If Not Now, When?

Show some backbone!

While John Kerry (yes, that very same John Kerry) tried to rally the dems to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito, 4 TRAITORS to the cause put a severe damper on the fire.

"The three Democrats who have said they will vote for Judge Alito are Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. And a fourth, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, said today after meeting again with the nominee that he is "leaning in favor" of him and does not want a filibuster." [NYT]

41 votes are needed to sustain a filibuster, but if Conrad defects to the dark side, then that would put the republicans at 60, which would be enough to force a vote. Harry Reid has come out against Alito, but also against a filibuster. I have to agree with Kerry on this one, if not now, when? We can't afford to worry about some other upcoming battle to use the filibuster. We need to use it now. If Alito gets onto the court, he could turn this country back to a time when rights were just words, not actions. Didn't we install Harry Reid as Senate Minority Leader so that he could help us stand up and fight, to give us a voice? That voice is drowned out, lost in the wilderness. Dems are afraid of the political cost of such a battle, and what it might do to November election prospects. I think the American people might just respect their tenacity and willingness to stand their ground. Then again, with the press against them, that's a mighty mountain to climb.

For extra reading, try "Senators in Need of a Spine" from the NYT. "Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead. It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination."

"Senate Democrats, who presented a united front against the nomination of Judge Alito in the Judiciary Committee, seem unwilling to risk the public criticism that might come with a filibuster — particularly since there is very little chance it would work. Judge Alito's supporters would almost certainly be able to muster the 60 senators necessary to put the nomination to a final vote. A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court."

Well said...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

"Now the Lorbeckis, like small-business owners across the nation, struggle each year with double-digit increases in health insurance premiums for their full-time workers. Spending thousands of dollars each month to insure their employees is the right thing to do, Patti Lorbecki said. So it irks her to see a big company such as Wal-Mart fall short in doing the same, forcing some of its employees and their families to get health care through government programs."

"I certainly want to pay for our employees' health care benefits, but I'll be darned if I have to pay for Wal-Mart's, too," said Lorbecki. "Why should small-business people have to foot the bill for someone who is making millions and millions in profit?" she asked." [JSOnline]

There's been much ado made in the news these past few weeks about Wal-Mart and it's health insurance/benefits offerings for it's employees. I'll be upfront, I have not shopped at Wal-Mart in a very long time, and I refuse to do so in the future. I believe that Wal-Mart embodies all that is going wrong with big business in America today. From what I understand, the "average" Wal-Mart employee makes approximately $10/hour, or under $21,000/year. They purport that 86% of their employees have insurance...but that includes insurance obtained by spouses and those on Medicare and Medicaid.

Many media outlets keep spreading the false claims that "Wal-Mart employees are only slightly more likely to collect Medicaid than the average among the nation's large retailers." Maryland just took a big step forward by passing a bill requiring large firms like Wal-Mart to pay their fair share, or 8% of their payroll on employee health insurance, or they must pay the difference into Maryland's health care program for the poor. [MediaMatters]

Here's the Wal-Mart Benefits Memo: My favorite paragraph:
"Wal-Mart’s healthcare benefit is one of the most pressing reputation issues we face because well-funded, well-organized critics, as well as state government officials, are carefully scrutinizing Wal-Mart’s offering. Moreover, our offering is vulnerable to at least some of their criticisms, especially with regard to the affordability of coverage and Associates’ reliance on Medicaid."

So, what do we do about it? Will State laws or increased regulation force them to pay more for their employees wages and well-being? No. I believe the only answer is to convince others to stop shopping there...hit them where it hurts, and force them to listen to what these "well-organized critics" are actually saying about employee benefits.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Quotable Doyle

"The bill does not create a single job, help a single Wisconsin citizen afford health care or improve schools for a single Wisconsin child. The Legislature should spend more time trying to get jobs into our communities instead of more guns." -Gov. Jim Doyle on the Concealed Carry Weapons law, which he vetoed on Friday.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Drinking Liberally on Television

For any that may have missed it, here is the clip (Quicktime Required) of Drinking Liberally on TMJ-4, this past Tuesday night.

Overall, I thought they did an alright job on the segment. They didn't paint us as loonies or anything, and tried to tell people who we are.

I second Scott in saying a big THANK YOU to Club Garibaldi. We couldn't have done it without your wonderful hospitality!

Special thanks to Scott and Scott!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Home Brewing

Tomorrow, I will embark on a new chapter in my life, brewing my own beer.

I got a kit from my parents for Christmas, complete with everything necessary to make my own beer, from the House of Homebrew. They gave me a kit to make an Irish Stout, my favorite style of beer. (Is there a bad kind of beer???)

Basically, what I have to do it boil everything together for an hour, then cool it down. Once at about 80 degrees, I have to put it in the "Ale Pails" that came with the kit, and let it ferment with the yeast for a week. Then, next Sunday, I will siphon the beer from the pails into bottles, and that will then sit and age/bottle-condition for 4 weeks before it is ready to consume. It will make 5 gallons of beer, or roughly 2 cases. The only thing I need yet are some sturdy bottles, since bottle caps and the bottle capper came with the kit.

If anyone out there has any advice or tips, they are most welcome. This is something that I've wanted to try for a long time, and I can't wait to see how the stout turns out!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Blogroll Update

Inspired by the warmer than normal weather, I decided to do a bit of EARLY spring cleaning. I've added several new blogs, that should have been on here a long time ago including:

The Amtal Rule
Left on the Lake
Crawford's Take
Leaning Blue

and an updated link for Eye on Wisconsin

I also updated some of the normal Politics and Reference links.

I apologize if I missed anyone...drop me a line if you want in!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

In His Own Words

"Some commentators are complaining that Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearings have not been exciting, but they must not have been paying attention. We learned that Judge Alito had once declared that Judge Robert Bork - whose Supreme Court nomination was defeated because of his legal extremism - "was one of the most outstanding nominees" of the 20th century. We heard Judge Alito refuse to call Roe v. Wade "settled law," as Chief Justice John Roberts did at his confirmation hearings. And we learned that Judge Alito subscribes to troubling views about presidential power." [NYT]

Never mind any concerns over his record, he is still headed toward confirmation.

"Several committee Democrats made it clear they were not inclined to vote for Alito, including Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles Schumer of New York. After four days of hearings, there are "even more questions about Judge Alito's commitment to the fairness and equality for all," Kennedy said. The Democrats repeatedly attacked Alito's decisions as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and his writings while a lawyer for the Reagan administration — including a 1985 statement saying the Constitution did not protect the right to an abortion — and they highlighted his membership in an organization that discouraged the admission of women and minorities at Princeton University." [Yahoo]

A lot has been written about Judge Alito, not all of it fair. But, this man is seemingly a wolf in sheep's clothing. When asked about his previous experience, he hid. When asked about his membership in "Concerned Alumni of Princeton - a group whose offensive views about women, minorities and AIDS victims were discussed in greater detail at yesterday's hearing - is also deeply troubling, as is his unconvincing claim not to remember joining it." What else is he hiding?

There is no vote more important than that for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court (except a vote for war). Let's hope our Senators slow down and make the educated choice, not the rushed, partisan one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Return of the Ben

Yes folks, that is correct, I will be returning to Drinking Liberally this week! And not only because I got this from Scott:

Milwaukee Liberal Drinkers:

Let me get right to the point. This coming Wednesday, January 11th, is Drinking Liberally night again, but this one is a special one. WTMJ-4, the Milwaukee NBC affiliate television station, is sending out a camera crew to talk to us. Yes - we will be on TV!

Jason, Stacie and myself are asking you to come and REPRESENT! This is our chance to get our message out and attract even more people to our get-togethers.

If you have never come to Drinking Liberally this is the perfect time to introduce yourself. Remember, there are no dues or fees, there is no ideology to subscribe to, no candidates to endorse and no speechmaking. Drinking Liberally is a social event, designed for left-leaning locals to get together and chat about whatever they feel like. So bring a friend and come raise a glass with us on Wednesday.

Drinking Liberally meets from 7 p.m. to whenever at CLub Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior Street in Bay View. There's a map on our web site: http://milwaukee.drinkingliberally.org
See you there!

I very much look forward to seeing you all again!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Corruption is My Co-Pilot

Corruption is everywhere in US politics. But while it took 30 years for the Democratic Party to give in to corruption, it took the Republicans less than 10. We are now mired in scandals of Government that rival, and exceed, any other period of our government.

"The media is falling all over itself to portray former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) as a saint for publicly saying he is "outraged" over the GOP's corruption scandals. Incredibly, almost no one has noted that it was Gingrich who was the architect of the "K Street Project" and the systems of corruption that have taken over politics. Perhaps even worse, it was Gingrich who was the key figure in helping a guy named Jack Abramoff ascend to prominence as a lobbyist and vote-buying artist in the first place. So how come the media is allowing Gingrich - who is gearing up for a run for president - to get away with playing Mr. Clean?" [Sirota]

Here is Gingrich's quote about the Abramoff scandal: "I think as this thing unfolds, it'll be so disgusting, and the Republicans will be under such pressure from their base, that they will have to undertake substantial reform," said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker (who himself had to pay $300,000 to settle a 1997 ethics case). "This is like Watergate." [NYT]

The keys to the Republican party have been handed over to a partisan minorty composed of the rapture-right christians and those with severe ethics issues. Those are the spokespersons for this party, people like James Dobson, Tom DeLay, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Dick Cheney, and those of that ilk. You've got someone like Pat Robertson that believes that "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza." Maybe it was the fact that he weighs 300 pounds, is 77 years old, and has a LOT of job related stress. Strange. [CNN] [MediaMatters with VIDEO]

Looking on the bright side, at least DeLay won't be the House Majority Leader anymore! He states: "Mr. DeLay said he had "always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land." [Yahoo] Ummm...sure you did. I think he also has a bridge for sale.

The Democrats state that they want a sweeping House ethics investigation. Ok, but let's be honest here: what are you going to do with the results. My biggest complaint about the Democratic Party of recent days is that they have been more like the cowardly lion, and less like well, someone who points out the other sides failings, and DOES something about it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Fair Day's Pay

"The federal minimum wage has been a paltry $5.15 an hour for more than eight years. Polls show that there is strong popular support for raising it, but Congress has resisted. Unions, community groups and advocates for the poor are increasingly taking the matter directly to voters through state referendums to raise their states' minimum wages, according to an article yesterday in The Times. Their intentions are laudable, but the efforts only highlight Congress's failure to set the federal minimum wage at a reasonable level."

"Keeping the minimum wage at a reasonable level has appeal across the political spectrum. Liberals see a higher minimum wage as a way to lift the working poor out of poverty and narrow the gap between rich and poor. Many conservatives see it as a way to reward work. In a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, 86 percent of respondents, including 79 percent of social conservatives, supported increasing the minimum wage to $6.45 an hour."

"But the idea has some influential opponents. Business interests, led by the restaurant industry, have lobbied to keep the minimum wage low. Some free-market conservatives, heirs to the original opponents of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, oppose it on ideological grounds. In recent years, these forces have prevailed. The same Congress that has passed huge tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations has consistently refused to help those on the other side of the economic divide." [NYT]

Shame on Congress and all law and policy makers that have shunned the idea of not raising the minimum wage. Many cities and hamlets here in Wisconsin took measures into their own hands, and passed increases in the minimum wage on their own. Milwaukee was considering this, but nothing has happened on it in quite a while.

Ben at Badger Blues notes (from this NYT article) that: "The same report, by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning research center, and United for a Fair Economy, a group seeking to narrow the gap between rich and poor, found that in 2004 the ratio of C.E.O. pay to worker pay at large companies had ballooned to 431 to 1. If the minimum wage had advanced at the same rate as chief executive compensation since 1990, America's bottom-of-the-barrel working poor would be enjoying salad days, with legal wages at $23.03 an hour instead of $5.15."

For more on what it's like to try to live on a low-income or minimum wage job, read Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich: "As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test. So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty."

Congress seems so concerned about the next round of upper-bracket tax cuts and tax cuts in general, that they aren't seeing the big picture, or bothering to see the effects of their work. I'm sure glad that we have our legislative priorities in order.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Nearer, My God, To The GOP

"This, apparently, is what the Democrats had in mind when they vowed after President Bush's re-election to reclaim religious voters for their party. In the House, they set up a Democratic Faith Working Group. Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, created a Web site called Word to the Faithful. And Democratic officials began holding conferences with religious progressives. All of this was with the intention of learning how to link faith with public policy. An event for liberal politicians and advocates at the University of California at Berkeley in July even offered a seminar titled "I Don't Believe in God, but I Know America Needs a Spiritual Left."

"A look at the tactics and theology of the religious left, however, suggests that this is exactly what American politics does not need. If Democrats give religious progressives a stronger voice, they'll only replicate the misdeeds of the religious right."

"When Christians - liberal or conservative - invoke a biblical theocracy as a handy guide to contemporary politics, they threaten our democratic discourse. Numerous "policy papers" from liberal churches and activist groups employ the same approach: they're awash in scriptural references to justice, poverty and peace, stacked alongside claims about global warming, debt relief and the United Nations Security Council." [NYT]

I realize that this was written by someone from the Heritage Foundation, but he makes some sense. Let's keep religion out of policy. It's ok to make some issues moral issues. For instance, I believe that the economy is a moral issue because of the way it effects everyone's lives. But there is a difference between injecting morals and right and wrong into a political discourse and involving religion.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

Happy 2006!!! Try not to make too many resolutions that you can't or won't keep. You see how well my flying car is working out.

Seriously though, may 2006 be better than 2005's wildest dreams.