Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel: final jump.

Hi folks,

The past is disappearing over the western horizon.

Yesterday, it rode off on a Harley.

Ciao Evel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Judge Z again, supremely trying cases with personal conflict.

Hi folks,

From One Wisconsin Now:
Even as she remains the focus of an unprecedented conflict of interest ethics investigation, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler is set to hear arguments Thursday in a case where she has numerous conflicts of interest. The case involves a dispute between the state and the Neenah-based Menasha Corporation.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which spent $2 million on Ziegler's behalf in her recent election, previously filed an amicus brief siding with Menasha. In the same race, Ziegler also received a contribution from the company's former top executive.

The case before Ziegler and the Court, Wisconsin Department of Revenue vs. Menasha Corporation, 2004AP3239, involves the eligibility of a business for a state sales tax exemption.

Annette Ziegler has a dog in this fight and must recuse herself from the case. In response to the conflict, One Wisconsin Now has begun an online petition drive calling for Ziegler to recuse herself in the case. Sign the Petition Today! After you sign, don't forget to forward the petition to at least five friends.

Apparently, the appearance of conflict no longer matters to Americans or, more shockingly, to Wisconsinites. Where's Fighting Bob when we need him?

Maybe I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

That's probably it.

Mp aka Louis Renault, Prefect

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Judge Ziegler: admission and admonition.

Hi folks,

Admission is good for the soul and Justice Ziegler has been exemplary, since being caught.

More is incoming, but most recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting:
Posted: Nov. 16, 2007

Madison - Stung by a drawn-out ethics inquiry, new state Supreme Court Justice Annette K. Ziegler has begun routinely disclosing campaign contributions she received from parties with matters pending before the court.


In a separate investigation covering some of the same cases, the Judicial Commission concluded Ziegler should be publicly reprimanded. Ziegler has agreed that punishment would be appropriate. The panel of appeals judges will make its own recommendation to the Supreme Court.

And from the Wisconsin State Journal:

Although the panel earlier asked the two sides to discuss additional cases and other ties between Ziegler and West Bend Savings Bank, those issues weren't probed Monday. Presiding Judge Ralph Adam Fine also appeared to signal he was unlikely to come down hard on Ziegler. He described her acknowledged violations as "not even a blip on the screen" compared to wrongdoing by other Wisconsin judges, including those who've been disciplined for lying to investigators and falsifying documents.

Ziegler attorney James Troupis acknowledged "a judge is assumed to know the provisions of the code and know its applicability in a given case." But he said Ziegler inadvertently violated the code when she handled cases involving West Bend Savings Bank, where her husband is on the board of directors.

Two of the three Court of Appeals judges — Fine and Charles Dykman — appeared puzzled about how Ziegler could overlook such a "bright line" rule. It requires judges to announce their conflict of interest or remove themselves from cases in which they have close ties to one of the parties.

If it's a blip, that means it still showed up on the radar. These 'mistakes' are important because they mar the appearance of being just -- something just as important for our public officials, especially our Supreme Court Justices, as actually being just.

What's next?


Monday, November 19, 2007

5,000 Soldiers Deserted Army in 2007

And we're not even to Christmas yet.
NPR : Nearly 5,000 Soldiers Deserted Army in 2007:
by Nancy Mullane
November 19, 2007

Army desertion rates are up 80 percent since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The actual numbers of deserters are still low — less than 1 percent of the entire force — but they show a steady increase over the past few years. The Army says nearly 5,000 soldiers deserted in 2007, a 42 percent increase from 2006.
42 percent more seems like a lot. Too bad those soldiers couldn't get into the Alabama Air Guard.


Mouseland. A reminder.

Hi folks,

Some of you are probably not familiar with Tommy Douglas, one of the last century's great Canadian populists but, what with the political party apparatus laying track and running our elections, a story of his kept coming back into mind. I never voted in a single election when this story wasn't front and center in my mind. You can swap Canada for the US here without missing a thing.


As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

That man knew were his towel was.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Getting your flu shot this year? Got Mercury?

Hi folks,

It's always something.
JS Online: Most flu shots contain mercury, but few know it

About 80% of all flu shots distributed in the United States contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal consists of 49.6% ethyl mercury, an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal that allows manufacturers to sell the vaccine in large, multi-dose containers without fear of contamination.

A typical 0.5 milliliter flu shot contains 25 micrograms - or 50,000 parts per billion - of mercury.

The EPA classifies a liquid with 200 parts per billion of mercury as hazardous waste. The limit for drinking water is 2 parts per billion.

Using the standards set for methyl mercury consumption - the kind that's in fish - an average 130-pound person getting the flu shot would exceed the daily limit by more than four times. A 22-pound baby would get more than 25 times the amount of mercury considered safe. And doctors are recommending that many babies and children get two flu shots this season.

Tiddly pom.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some West Bend Referendum Fallout.

Hi folks,

Just to catch us up. The telephone blitz from the Americans for Prosperity (sic) lobbyists turned out not to be illegal after all... which is good. Here's some of the Journal article

Group's calls to West Bend are legal

Official says message about schools came close to violating law

Posted: Nov. 5, 2007

West Bend - A national group advocating lower government spending did not violate state election laws when it sponsored computer-generated telephone messages for West Bend School District residents about a proposed $119.3 million school building referendum, Washington County District Attorney Todd Martens said Monday.

The message from Americans for Prosperity did not expressly promote or oppose a particular vote on the referendum in today's special election, so the group was not required to register to campaign on the issue, Martens said.

The district attorney responded to a request from It's Time, a West Bend group supporting passage of the referendum, to investigate whether the message violated state law. The calls were placed Friday.

"I believe the language in the call comes dangerously close to express advocacy," Martens said in a letter to It's Time. Martens, in the letter, urged Americans for Prosperity and its state director, Mark Block, "to scrupulously adhere to the requirements of Wisconsin elections and campaign financing law."

"The communication in question obviously opposes the referendum question," Martens said.

"Although it appears that some of the information in the call is misleading and a distortion of the true financial impact of the referendum on taxpayers, the veracity of the political speech is not the issue in determining whether Americans for Prosperity is required to register as a political committee," according to Martens' letter.

This was quite a learning experience. Apparently, distorting facts in order to sway voters is not legally the same thing as advocating the position you're attempting to sway voters to vote for.

I love this country.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

West Bend Library threatened with liberty by religious group.

Hi folks,

I guess public institutions do have to advertise religious events:

Wisconsin Library Finally Allows Posting of Pro-life Event Flyer

West Bend, WI ( --
After the pro-life law firm Liberty Counsel intervened on behalf of a West Bend, Wisconsin resident, a library director agreed to allow a flyer announcing a pro-life event to be posted in the library along with other community announcements. Mary Weigand wanted to inform others about an annual Life Chain event, but the library director refused to allow the flyer and insisted that the library policy prohibited religious material. Weigand contacted Liberty Counsel. After receiving Liberty Counsel's demand letter, the library director apologized to her and allowed the flyer to be posted on two library bulletin boards in time for the event. Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented, "When libraries or other government facilities create an open forum such as a community bulletin board, it is impermissible to discriminate against religious viewpoints."
Good news for all of us. Now we can count on Liberty University to defend library flyers posted by socially conscious Lutherans who want to schedule prayer vigils outside anti-tax seminars, and maybe even a Muslim students alliance that wants to protest racial profiling outside Mitchell International Airport.

Unless, in America, some animals are more equal than others.

[whew... did I actually need to add that link?]


West Bend school referendum, Is an out of state anti-school group breaking the law?

Hi folks,

Something from the Journal-Sentinel on out of state interlopers brought in to sway the referendum vote:

School referendum backers think telephone campaign violates law

Posted: Nov. 2, 2007

West Bend - A national group advocating limits on new taxes and government spending jumped in on a local school building referendum election Friday, just four days before voters go to the polls.

Americans for Prosperity, which maintains a state office in Milwaukee and has offices in other states, sponsored computer-generated telephone calls that began blanketing homes in the West Bend School District on Friday afternoon, according to local residents.

Several members of a local referendum support group have asked the Washington County district attorney's office to investigate the telephone campaign as a possible violation of state election laws. State laws generally require groups to register with municipal or school district clerks before campaigning on a ballot issue. [my italics]


School District officials confirmed Friday that no individual or organization had registered to campaign in opposition to the school building referendum.

Hmm. So, we have an out-of-state group that jumped into a local issue and decided not to bother following the law? They have friends in the district, though, including our good friend Owen Robinson, over at Boots and Sabers. I know Owen is a big supporter of Americans for Prosperity -- although how you can vote against the single biggest booster of economic prosperity in a globalized economy (improving the educational infrastructure) and still claim to be in favor of prosperity, doesn't make any damn sense to me.

Here's the latest update on this from the local pro-school group,

“Americans for Prosperity” Phone Messages

If anyone received an automated TAXPAYER ALERT call – this is an outside group headquartered in Texas with an office in Milwaukee. They are attempting to sway the election. It is likely NOT a coincidence that they started this on the Friday afternoon before the vote next week. Our DA, Todd Martens, has agreed to investigate if this is an illegal activity over the weekend. This group is not registered as an action committee.

There are three major misleading parts to the message:

  • The use of OUR in the message from a group outside the community to seem like they are local. "for each child added to our district since the last time they hiked our taxes"
  • The use of the immeasurable "since the last time they hiked our taxes". What was the last time? The last referendum? The last time a building was built? The last time the general tax amount was raised? It is impossible to know.
  • To accurately measure cost per student, it would be necessary to determine the number of students that were educated in the buildings over 60 years and then divide that by the referendum amount. 60 Years is given as the average life of a school building in the US. In West Bend we get more life out of the buildings, our average is 84 years.

If you got the above mentioned call, please write a letter and fax it to the DA (262-335-4739). This group may not be playing by the rules that we have been following very closely. If you don't have fax, please bring it to Sara Fleischman's home (1142 Kinross Ct.) this weekend. It will be dropped off Monday at 8am.

It sure seems like a lot of people from outside of our district don't want us to decide how to spend our own money on our future. I wonder why that is?