Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Imitation Is The Most Sincerest Form Of Flattery

This afternoon, Judith Davidoff, of The Isthmus, wrote about the whole sickening saga of Brian Sikma's lies regarding the phony beating of a Republican volunteer and how it ensnared so many of the other right wing propagandists.

Compare that story to the one I wrote last night.

They even used my Scribd publication of Christian Schneider's original post.

No, it's not plagiarism, but they strike me as being very familiar.

And I am flattered and proud to know my work is good enough for real reporters to use.

Bradley Foundation Confirmed As Funding Source For Racist, Voter Intimidation Billboards

On Monday, I wrote about how the good folks at One Wisconsin Now joined forces with theGrio to expose the people behind the racist billboards which popped up in the Milwaukee area in 2010 and again earlier this year. The funding for these attempts at voter intimidation came from the Bradley Foundation, laundered through the Einhorn Family Foundation.

Today, Dan Bice verified that it was indeed the Bradley Foundation that funded the racist billboards using the Einhorn Family Foundation as a front group. Bice verified the story directly with Michael Grebe, head of the Bradley Foundation and Scott Walker's two-time campaign chair, who readily admitted that his group supplied the money for the billboards.

But Grebe had a couple of jokes about the whole thing.

One joke went like this:
Grebe said the donation had nothing to do with Walker’s campaign.

“We have always maintained strict separation between my personal political involvement and the foundation’s activities, which are not political,” Grebe said.
Yeah, and if you believe that, you'll believe that Brian Sikma and Christian Schneider are bona fide reporters.

The other joke was this one:
In response, Grebe said the grant was never secret - Bradley annually publishes a list of grant recipients - and the billboards were not racist. He noted that the billboards appeared in such places as Ozaukee and Washington counties.
As one commenter on Bice's article pointed out, if one wore their white hood and robe in Waukesha, that means they're not racist because that's a predominately white area, right?

Interestingly, Charlie Sykes, just this morning, had already used the argument that the billboards weren't racist because they had some of them in predominately white areas. I say it is interesting due to Sykes' relationship with the Bradley Foundation, which I had pointed out in my original post about the billboards:
OK, I have to admit that I just love the fact that it was the braggart Sykes that gave up his buddies.

For those that are unfamiliar with the details, Sykes had an affair with Bradley Foundation spokeswoman Janet Riorden. He eventually married her after divorcing Justice Diane Sykes. He also had her on his shows, but under the alias Liz Woodhouse, because he believes in being open and honest his listeners.
Something that I had omitted in that post is that the Bradley Foundation also bankrolls the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, where Sykes is the editor.

Adding to the hilarity of it all is James Wigderson playing the one man echo chamber with his "Yeah, what he said" post.

Now, the giggles really start when one looks at Sykes' "proof" that the billboards weren't racist. Sykes posted this map, which allegedly shows the location of the billboards:

Now, unlike Brian Sikma would do, I cannot and will not vouch for the accuracy or veracity of the map, since it does come from a source which is well known to be highly unreliable.

But for the sake of discussion, let's presume that the map is accurate and that is the true layout of where the maps were placed.

I don't know about the gentle reader, but golly gee, they seem to be pretty well concentrated on the inner city of Milwaukee. In fact, the concentration of these billboards is so high, they make the outlying ones more of an exception to the rule, thereby strengthening the point that they are indeed racist, rather than evidence that there was no racist intent.

And that is, of course, if one can look past that the first set of billboards, like the one at the top of this post, showed minorities behind bars. Yeah, no racism there at all.

Unlike Wigderson, I won't waste the pixels to demand that Grebe and company issue a public apology for the racist billboards or for trying to intimidate voters.

The lot of them thinks that being rich/conservative/white means never having to say you're sorry.

The Difference

'Nuff said!

Lie Of The Century - We Have A Winner!

Our condolences go out to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Christian Schneider, Brian Sikma and a host of others, but ladies and gentlemen, we have to call off the contest for Lie of the Century.

The winner is none other than Michele Bachmann who told this doozy:

I'm only sorry that Illy-T isn't here to enjoy the moment. He'd love it.

That Thing Called Rape.....

The long list of republicans who have brought up, redefined and diminished rape, is too long to list!

Luckily someone started a Republican rape Hall of Fame to keep track of it all!

The problem with their website though, is they can never keep it current!

Just when they think they are caught up, THIS HAPPENS!

John Koster, a Republican congressional candidate in Washington state, said Sunday that "the rape thing" is not a good enough reason for a woman to have an abortion, the Associated Press reported.

Asked at a campaign fundraiser whether he supports abortion rights in some situations, Koster replied that he only supports abortion in cases where a woman's life is in danger.

"Incest is so rare, I mean, it's so rare," he said. "But the rape thing-- you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption, and she doesn't regret it."

He added, "On the rape thing, it's like, how does putting more violence onto a woman's body and taking the life of an innocent child that's a consequence of this crime -- how does that make it better? You know what I mean?"

How Low Can You Go?

Mitt Romney has just set the bar! Hurricane Sandy just caused major devastation on the East Coast of the US!  President Obama stopped campaigning and started working on the helping Americans devastated by the storms immediately!    The republicans can not quite grasp the fact that a politician would put Americans lives over their own re-election so its been hard on them!

This is where Mitt Romney comes in. He also stopped campaigning, except for the fact that he didnt stop campaigning, he just stopped calling it campaigning.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As Malcontends points out, Mitt is collecting things that the Red Cross does NOT NEED!

Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel. - Red Cross

A quick recap before we get to the egregious act of Mitt Romney,   The East coast gets hit with a devastating storm, President Obama stops campaigning and starts working bipartisanly with republicans from the east coast to help Americans.     Mitt Romney, continues campaigning but instead of giving a speech, he collects unwanted items in a battleground state(not in a Hurricane Sandy affected area) so he can take have a nice photo op  so the American people know "he cares".   While this is not necessarily bad, it just shows him to be the shallow empty shell that we all know he is. 

However as Capper likes to say, there is more there is always more!   At first glance you can say, its nice that Mitt has taken the time to collect all of these items, even if they are not wanted by the Red Cross, as someone can use them.   You can not control what people bring when they want to give and you ask for donations. 


The Mitt Romney campaign BOUGHT $5000 worth of supplies from Wal-mart so the crowd would have something to give away!

By the time Romney's motorcade rolled up to the high school, the projector screens were displaying Red Cross donation information, and grocery bags stuffed with supplies were piled up in a corner of the gym.
Romney kept his speech brief, expressing concern for the victims of the storm, while trying to keep the mood of the event upbeat. Standing on a small platform, he recalled a time in high school when he and his classmates were charged with cleaning up a football field covered in garbage.
“The person who was responsible for organizing the effort said, 'Just line up along the yard lines,'" the candidate said. "'You go between the goal line and the 10-yard line. And the next person, between 10 and 20, and then just walk through and do your lane. And if everybody cleans their line, why, we’ll be able to get the job done.'"
"And so today," he went on. "We are cleaning one lane, if you will."
The crowd of about 2,000 erupted in applause.
But even as Romney, clad in blue jeans and rolled-up sleeves, hustled around his area of the gym, shaking hands, thanking supporters, and stacking cases of bottled water on top of each other, signs of stagecraft remained.
As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan T-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!"
Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?"
The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."

So not only did they get a cache of goods the red cross could NOT use for Hurricane relief that was needed in "non battle ground states", but it was the Romney campaign itself that bought the unwanted supplies!  I guess the people working the Romney campaign have not had much experience giving.   Then in Mitt's effort to show how much he relates to "the folks" he told a story of how when he was in High School, he helped clean up the football field once.  Which is analogous to cleaning up NYC after the storm

Mitt set a new low in American politics yesterday and further showed why he has no business ever being considered for the Presidency of the United States!    Mitt though, is in on the joke, as he could not get out of that event fast enough, he had to get to a concert

Also Fox & Friends desperately tried to make Mitt Romney the hero here:

Mitt's Right Wing Baggage

Bill Maher nails it here, with what Mitt would bring to Washington!

Duffy Supporters Don't Think Much Of Women Voters

There currently is a radio ad going on by one of these sleaze groups supporting Sean Duffy in a rather sexist manner:

Think Progress has the scoop on the group that put on this ad, Young Guns Network, which appears to be in violation of their 501c(4) tax status by airing this ad. The part of the ad that is so offensive is:

EMMA: Hey, Olivia. What’s it gonna be?
OLIVIA: Hi Emma. Hmmm. Latte, cappuccino? I can’t make up my mind.
EMMA: That’s how I felt about this election… until I took a good look at the candidates.
EMMA: I’m for Sean Duffy. He’s pretty cool, actually. He’s part of this new generation of leaders, the kind we need in Washington. He’s a good husband and father and he fights for small businesses, like mine. So I can keep the doors open and even hire more people.
OLIVIA: He’s the cute one, right?
I've know a lot of women, and I have yet to hear one of them say they're going to base their vote on the "cute one." OF course, the women I know have too much self respect to allow themselves to be denigrated in that way.

86 Paul Ryan

OK, this is funny, and hard hitting, and not completely safe for work:

Lyrics can be found here

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Charlie Sykes: Torn Between Two Liars, Looking Like A Fool

Yesterday, I wrote a fairly comprehensive expose on the biggest lies told by Brian Sikma and his propagandist group, Media Trackers.

I pointed out that Sikma outdid himself when he came out with the false story of a Republican volunteer who claimed to be savagely beaten. Sikma even went so far as to repeat his libelous lies on the Charlie Sykes show. Despite it being an obvious hoax, Sikma swore up and down that he verified all the facts and stood by his report.

Brian Sikma
That is, he stood by his story until it became unraveled and he had to admit that it wasn't true. But even then, he lied again, trying to put all the blame on the fake victim and ignoring his own boasting of how he verified his supposed facts.

Because of his scurrilous attacks on an innocent man, he has put himself in line for a possible libel lawsuit that could cost him and Media Trackers a lot of money. Even James Wigderson had to admit that Sikma could be in a world of hurt because of his reckless behavior.

Charlie Sykes did not hesitate to throw Sikma under the bus in order to try to salvage his own reputation:
Then came Media Trackers which claimed it had hard evidence, in the form of a lengthy transcript of graphic and obscene threats against Woods, which they attributed to Pocan's gay partner. If true -- and if MT could verify the information -- the story was a potential game changer. But...

On yesterday's show, I expressed skepticism about the story and asked Brian Sikma how he knew this was not a hoax -- specifically noting the pattern we've seen elsewhere -- and how he had "verified" the now-discredited text messages. Sikma cited multiple sources who had "verified" the texts.

But despite his "sources," obviously the text messages had not been verified, because they were fake.

The group issued this statement last night:

Media Trackers regrets that we were repeatedly lied to and misled. We regret that our readers were subject to the dishonest claims of a dishonest individual. Despite the best efforts to verify the accuracy and integrity of certain claims, a cover-up sometimes works. Those who create and maintain such fabrications deserve to be ruthlessly exposed for they hold the power to destroy the credibility of innocent people.


Unfortunately, that's not really good enough.

The ultimate responsibility for the lies and deception rests with Kyle Wood; but it was unacceptably sloppy to run with the unsubstantiated story.
But if Sykes thinks that he's out of the woods by dogging out Sikma, he's sorely mistaken.

Let me explain.

My colleague, Jeff Simpson, already pointed out that Christian Schneider*, aka Atomic Pantload, had also done his own bit of trouble with this story.

Christian Schneider
When it came out that the story was a lie, Schneider first put a single line way at the bottom of the post updating people that the story had been recanted. No apologies, no explanations about his role in it, just that one line.

Then suddenly, the story went poof into cyberspace. In it's place, Schneider came out with a new post, utterly changing his story:
Earlier today, I wrote a lengthy post about this Daily Caller story that detailed an alleged attack of a gay GOP campaign staffer in Dane County.

From what I now understand, there are some questions about some details that appeared in the original story, which I quoted at length. As a result, I decided to hold off on running the post until I can verify some of the facts that have been reported.

Whoa! So Schneider is part of MJS management now?

Note how he indicates the story on the same day he wrote it? I wonder how he explains Jeff using that post this morning, days after Schneider wrote the original post.

Schneider then did a follow up post again repeating his alleged skepticism:
When I first heard the story, I wanted to write about it, but I questioned some of the details in the original Daily Caller story. So I took down my original blog post and began making attempts to talk to Wood himself to get more details.

On Saturday afternoon, Wood and I talked for around a half hour. He was very pleasant. He sounded calm and credible, adding details to already published reports of the incident. I was always aware that there was still a question as to whether the incident actually happened, which is why I titled the post in the form of a question. But to me, his story at least seemed plausible. I wanted to give him the chance to tell it it public.

As it turns out, my original skepticism was well-founded. It is still unclear as to how much of Wood's story took place, if any at all. He clung to his story until today at 3:52, when I received an e-mail from him verifying a detail in my blog post about him. At that point, he said he would no longer be speaking to the media. Presumably, he recanted his story to the police shortly thereafter.
Huh? Now he's saying that he spoke to Wood on Saturday, after he posted his original story? And now he's claiming to be a reporter? I don't know which is the bigger fallacy, the story or that claim.

Schneider obviously thinks he's safe to say what he wants since no one can know what he originally wrote, as that he had deleted it.

Oh,Schneider is such a silly man. Even before I could get online, a thoughtful friend and already sent me the link to his original post, via Google Cache. I ask you, gentle reader, does this really look like the post of a person filled with skepticism and doubt, or of a man who hadn't already interviewed the alleged victim?
Beaten for being a gay Republican? An interview with Kyle Wood

By Christian Schneider
Oct. 28, 2012

At 7:00 last Wednesday morning, Kyle Wood was just one of thousands of campaign staffers strewn throughout the country, making phone calls and knocking on doors for candidates on the ballot in November. But an hour later, Wood was lying on the floor of his apartment, covered in blood, having been the victim of a beating he believes was politically motivated.

Wood, 29, who is volunteering for Republican Chad Lee in a Madison-area congressional race, believes the attack was punishment for “betraying” his fellow gays. “My feeling, based on the statements that were made [during the attack], it probably had something to do with the fact that I support a Republican candidate running against an openly gay man,” Wood told me. “And as a gay man, I’m supposed to support that gay man. And I don’t. “ (Lee is running against openly gay Democratic State Assemblyman Mark Pocan.)"

And since Google Cache links don't last forever, another reader provided me with the pdf form of the article, which I have available for the gentle reader here.

The whole story seems to be rather self-assured and the work of a two-bit hack that was trying to score some cheap political points, even if it meant smearing and libeling an innocent man.

It makes me wonder if Schneider and MJS are also going to be liable to a libel lawsuit.

But this is where Sykes has got himself a problem.

Schneider is a "Senior Fellow" at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, yet another right wing propaganda group funded by the Bradley Foundation, as well as a member of ALEC.

Sykes is Schneider's editor there.

Charlie Sykes
If Sykes wants to be consistent, he's going to have to point out that Schneider told a lie as egregious, if not worse, than the one Sikma told. Then he's going to have to decide whether he can use Schneider's work anymore.

And if Sykes doesn't want to hold Schneider to the same level of accountability, he's going to have to explain why not. Would it be because Schneider is a higher caliber hack and liar?

I have no clue what Sykes will do.

In fact, I'm a little surprised that Sykes even called Sikma out on his garbage. Sykes doesn't have an issue with telling lies himself. Every time that PolitiFact has checked his statements, he has been caught with his pants on fire. And when he is confronted with his lies, Sykes readily admits it:
"My ‘evidence’? Absolutely none."

Sykes went on to label his remark "an off-hand wisecrack" -- "You know, humor, hyperbole, joke."
Which brings us to the same question I asked yesterday:
My question is, given how often so many of them have been proven to be dishonest - whether on their own volition or by feeding off of stories from people like Sikma - how can anyone believe what any one of the right wing propagandists, bloggers and squawkers?

*Not to be confused with the other Christian Schneider, though how the mistake could be made is pretty obvious.

Cross posted at Whallah!

Three's a Crowd!

Tommy Thompson was given a simple question in a recent debate, one that he knew he could not answer.

After this answer, the Wisconsin State Journal gave Tommy their endorsement because of his ability to "tackle partisan gridlock" and work across the aisle.   Yes once you overlook the joke, you have to realize WHY Tommy could never work with Tammy Baldwin or the democrats anymore - because three is a crowd!   

It is impossible for Tommy to work with Tammy because he already has his lab partner - ALEC!

Since ALEC is telling Tommy privately exactly what to do and how to do it, it is hard to bring a third party into the equation.   Unfortunately for the great State of Wisconssss, Tommy has already Committed to ALEC and left the rest of us out in the cold! 


Romney's "Sensitivity" Short-Lived

Yesterday, I commended Mitt Romney for deciding to cancel his campaign events on Monday night and Tuesday due to Hurricane Sandra. I reckon I spoke to soon and forgot Romney's notable inconsistency.

Romney's campaign issued this statement yesterday (emphasis mine):
"Out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy, we are canceling tonight's events with Governor Romney in Wisconsin and Congressman Ryan in Melbourne and Lakeland, Florida. We are also canceling all events currently scheduled for both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan on Tuesday. Governor Romney believes this is a time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harms way. We will provide additional details regarding Governor Romney's and Congressman Ryan's schedule when they are available."
The reality of what they did was something completely different:
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will make two appearances at campaign offices in Wisconsin later Tuesday before embarking on a full day of campaigning around the state Wednesday.

Ryan is due to appear at GOP victory centers in La Crosse and Hudson on Tuesday to collect donations for storm relief efforts.
If Romney and Ryan won't show respect for the American people now while they're trying to win over our hearts and our votes, why would anyone think that they would show any respect for us if they were in control?

How Right Wing Sausage is Made

Science Fiction Writer and WPRI paid hack Christian Schneider wrote a fable the other day, one of his best pieces of work. 

Beaten for being a gay republican!  Over 1300 words of pure republican bliss!

The story however had one major tell:

To date, Wood has been reluctant to talk to any media, especially on-camera.   “I’m not going to win Princess Kay of the Milky Way or anything anytime soon, I look a little rough,” he joked.

Wood was reluctant to talk to the media because he knew he was lying, however his fake story had to be told so he chose people who were NOT the media.   Schneider of course, The Daily Caller and mediatrackers for some examples to make sure and get their message out to as many people  as possible before the house of cards fell!

This was yet another great example of how the echo chamber works.  They make up a story and a couple people run with it, allowing fellow paid and unpaid hacks to repeat repeat repeat!   Wisconsin reporter, Crazy Fred Dooley , Alpha Male Randy Hollenbeck and  Boots and Sabers(owen deleted the story like it never happened- no apologies or retractions) to name a few!   

This was an excellent example of the republican noise machine.

* Make up a story.

* Get it out there to as many people as possible in the 24 hour news cycle(shame on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for giving Schneider a forum).  Extra credit here for being incredibly upset and emotional about this story!

*  When story is proven to be false, either pretend you knew it all along or pretend nothing ever happened.

* Lather, Rinse, Repeat!   

This is how right wing sausage is made, and it is as ugly as regular sausage!  The thing to know is when there is a story spreading through the right wing blogosphere and hate radio squawkers, wait a couple days for the actual truth to come out! 

PS:   In case your wondering about how Schneider addressed his ridiculous fable as being false.  He amended his 1300+ story to add this at the end.

UPDATE: on October 29, Wood recanted his allegations to the Madison Police Department.

Yes he is THAT dishonest!

Much more on this story here and here!  

Brian Sikma and Media Trackers: Natural Born Liars

Last week, Tommy Thompson had an attack on his opponent, Tammy Baldwin, only to have it completely backfire. Thompson, who tried to falsely portray Baldwin as not supporting the memories of 9-11 survivors, is still feeling the repercussions of not only lying, but also having his own ethical issues arise from it.

Undaunted, Thompson did it again this week when he again tried to smear Baldwin, this time complaining that Baldwin allegedly did not support providing body armor for the troops fighting in the Middle East. If possible, this attack was even more false and more disgusting than his previous one. From Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Who the heck would vote against armor-piercing protection for our troops, except for someone who's hanging so far out on the left that she can't even think straight?" Giuliani asked.

Now a variation on that theme is the centerpiece of a new Thompson ad ripping Baldwin.

"She fought to block funding that provides body armor for our troops just to make a political point," the TV spot says.

But experts say the measure coming under scrutiny is a feel-good bill that wouldn't lead to federal defense cuts, much less slice federal funding for body armor.

That's just political spin.

"The notion that, if this bill would pass, it means that Tammy Baldwin would be denying body armor to troops, is ludicrous," said Kenneth Mayer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Four times in the past, Baldwin was listed as a co-sponsor for legislation that would allow peace-loving taxpayers to get a conscientious objector exemption from the Internal Revenue Service to stipulate that their income taxes wouldn't be used for war. Their taxes would go into a "peace tax fund," with the money being divvied out for non-military items.

Every two years, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia introduces the bill, and then it sits in the House Ways and Means Committee without a vote. Baldwin most recently backed the bill three years ago.
So where would Thompson get such a false notion? Bice explains that as well:
Earlier this month, Media Trackers - a conservative group that digs up dirt on Democrats - was the first to suggest that Baldwin's support for this measure meant she favored "denying body armor and medical supplies to U.S. military personnel" fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From there, the story took off. It was picked up by Breitbart, a conservative online news site, and plugged by talk show hosts Jerry Bader and Charlie Sykes.

Brian Sikma
Brian Sikma, who wrote the Media Trackers' piece, has defended his original post, saying he never contended the peace fund bill would "cut" funding for anything in the military. He said his point was that under the bill, anyone would be able to "block" their taxes from being used to support the U.S. Department of Defense.

But even Sikma went beyond that in a television appearance over the weekend.

"Tammy Baldwin clearly has a credibility problem when it comes to national security issues," Sikma said on Sykes' "Sunday Insight" show on Sunday. Among other things, he said, "She voted against body armor and medical supplies."

Except there was no vote.

The measure has not come up for a vote in committee or on the House floor during Baldwin's 14 years in Congress. The last time anything happened on the proposal was July 1995 when a House committee held hearings on it.
But where Sikma claims that he did not write the bill would cut funding, he actually did write that:
Despite the fact that some believed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were controversial, many on both sides of the political aisle thought that the troops deployed should at least receive the supplies and protection they needed. Baldwin’s work on the so-called Peace Tax Fund actively sought to block funding for needed protection and life-saving equipment for these deployed military personnel.
As a note to Sikma, I did screencap the post, so there's no use for you trying to delete it or change it like you usually do.


The fact that Sikma, who is the communications director for Media Trackers, is confabulating things is neither new or shocking, although it remains very offensive and disgusting.

Media Trackers, and Sikma, is sponsored by the Bradley Foundation, the Koch Brothers and the Sam Adams Alliance, much like its sister propagandist agencies, MacIver Institute, Wisconsin Reporter and WPRI.

Sikma and his propagandist agency has a lengthy history of having credibility problems. Perhaps their most famous example is where they tried to accuse recall petition signature collectors of bribing underage women to sign the petitions. This was utterly and completely proven to be false.

They then accused Senator Lena Taylor and her mother of housing a felon who had allegedly voted fraudulently. It turned out that this too was a lie and that the alleged felon was actually an ex-felon and was legally allowed to vote.

Sikma and his group has regularly tried to discredit the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and its investigation into the illegal campaigning that was done by Scott Walker and his staff. They have gone as far as scouring the Facebook pages of the employees of the DA's office and stalking their houses. To this day, they have not been able to prove one act of impropriety, but that does not keep them from making the innuendos.

Perhaps the most classic example is when Sikma and company accused a lefty group of providing ribs for votes. Even though they knew their allegations were false, they still made them. But when they were called into the DA's office to testify on their allegations, their story changed completely:
Then came the bombshell:
Q: All right. Did anyone tell you that in order to get a ticket for food you had to sign up to vote?

[Roth] A: No, not explicity. [sic]


Q: Do you have any other information that you could offer that would shed some light on this...?

A: ...I can't say if that was a necessary or that was explicit that one had to sign in and get in the van to take the food or the ticket

In other words, Media Trackers's anonymous source knew the pro-union Wisconsin Jobs Now group did not engage in illegal activity. But that didn't stop Media Trackers from "reporting" otherwise.

So this begs the question: if Media Trackers wasn't going to cooperate with investigators (perhaps because they knew the facts weren't on their side), why did they ever bother issuing a press release making such serious allegations. Simple. They only needed to smear Wisconsin Jobs Now for the short period before the recall election. They didn't need to win a court case, they just needed to win a media war. And win they did.
To put the icing on the issue, they also ended up with a little spat with their sister agency, MacIver Institute, who got dragged into the mess.


Despite the long history that Sikma and his agency has of distorting the truth, if not flat out lying, and not taking any responsibility for their behaviors, Sikma might have finally outdone himself now.

Sikma recently reported that Kyle Wood - a Republican volunteer for Chad Lee, the political opponent to Mark Pocan to fill Tammy Baldwin's seat - was brutally assaulted. He further reported that he had copies of text messages which had been allegedly sent by Phillip Frank, Pocan's husband.

Suggested  new logo for
Media Trackers
Although Sikma has since deleted the post and put up a different one in its place, here is a flavor of what he wrote, thanks to Google Reader and another right wing blogger who was one of the many that fed into the story, but like Sikma, deleted their post:
A series of shocking text messages purportedly from Philip Frank, the partner of Democratic State Representative and Madison-area Congressional candidate Mark Pocan, threatened a volunteer for Pocan’s Republican opponent days before the volunteer was found beaten.

Last Wednesday, Kyle Wood, a full-time volunteer with Republican Chad Lee’s Congressional campaign, was beaten inside his home in Madison by an unidentified attacker who claimed that as a gay man Wood should be supporting the gay candidate for Congress.

The text messages obtained by Media Trackers allegedly show Philip Frank, Pocan’s partner, making sexually-charged comments to Wood before threatening him and making racist statements about the spouse of Chad Lee. The messages were apparently sent two or three days before the Wednesday beating, according to Wood, who is alleging to investigators that the messages came from Frank.

After mocking Wood for supporting the Republican candidate, Frank is accused of writing, “Remember your station in life and remember not to cross the husband of a powerful man. You are on shaky footing as it is, push much farther and you won’t have a future in this town, or any other.”
The news was so big that Sikma was breathless on Monday morning as he shared his story with Charlie Sykes on Sykes' squawk radio show.

But guess what. Even though Sikma claimed that he had verified the story, and the thing had taken off nationally, it turned out to be another lie. This time, Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Sikma's reporting skills, or lack thereof:
Wood claimed the attack occured [sic] on Wednesday morning when an unidentified man knocked on his door and then brutally attacked him as soon as Wood answered it.

Following that news, Media Trackers printed damaging allegations about "a series of shocking text messages purportedly from Philip Frank," Pocan's husband. Media Trackers printed the whole series of text messages, which were laced with threats, sexual innuendo and racist language and which were supposedly sent to Wood just days before the alleged attack on him.

“Remember your station in life and remember not to cross the husband of a powerful man. You are on shaky footing as it is, push much farther and you won’t have a future in this town, or any other," one of the supposed messages reads.

Brian Sikma, the Media Trackers blogger who wrote the item and who regularly accuses mainstream journalists of sloppy and biased reporting, said his story was based on information from Wood. Sikma said Wood's "conduct is unacceptable and such actions have no place as a part of our public debate," but Sikma made no mention of his own role in the allegation against Frank getting onto the Internet.

Sikma said that Media Trackers had also talked with workers in Lee's campaign and other unnamed individuals who knew Wood "in an attempt to verify his personal integrity." Sikma refused to say whether Media Trackers had reached out to Pocan's campaign before running the story.

But Dan McNally, Pocan's campaign manager, said Media Trackers never contacted the campaign. He had no other comment.
Keep in mind now that Sikma claims to have verified the text messages, but didn't even know the phone numbers. He said that he had verified the veracity of the texts and the statements, but couldn't name the people that verified them. And he utterly lied about contacting the Pocan campaign or Mr. Frank.

If you go back to Sikma's interview on Sykes' show, Sykes even expresses concern about the veracity of the story. Sikma again guaranteed that the story was absolutely true and that it was checked and double checked.

Now that the story has been proven to be a hoax, Sikma has gone into damage control mode and has thrown Wood under the bus:
Wood had shared information with Media Trackers subsequent to the beating purporting to show harassing text messages sent to him by Philip Frank, the spouse of Democratic Congressional candidate Mark Pocan. Individuals who know Wood verified the accuracy of his claims to Media Trackers but those claims now appear to be false. Media Trackers believes Wood misled us and lied when questioned about the accuracy of the information he claimed to have.

Harassment and violence should never be tolerated regardless of the motives behind it. Nor should fabricated claims of harassment and tolerance be allowed to stand without condemnation. Wood lied to law enforcement and the public about his beating and previous instances of harassment. His conduct is despicable.

The extent of the fraud perpetrated by Wood’s claims spreads far beyond Wisconsin as media outlets across the country picked up his story and repeated his allegations. Wood owes the public, Rep. Mark Pocan and his spouse Philip Frank, and law enforcement officials an apology.

Media Trackers regrets that we were repeatedly lied to and misled. We regret that our readers were subject to the dishonest claims of a dishonest individual. Despite the best efforts to verify the accuracy and integrity of certain claims, a cover-up sometimes works. Those who create and maintain such fabrications deserve to be ruthlessly exposed for they hold the power to destroy the credibility of innocent people.
Even if one wanted to believe Sikma's story that Wood simply lied to him, Sikma has a lot of explaining to do himself.

For instance, he will have to detail what he did and with whom he spoke to verify the texts' veracity and Wood's integrity. Sikma should also explain how the police figured out that the story was false and whether he played a role in that matter.

He should, but he won't.

He'll be too busy preparing his defense for the libel lawsuit that Mr. Frank should file against him.

As a last note, I wanted to point out that a lot of right wingers were duped into this story. Most of them, like Sikma, resolved their dissonance by throwing Wood under the bus. Others just deleted it. And like Sikma, their credibility has been hurt. But it's their own fault. After getting proven to be a liar so many times, there is no reason for anyone to believe him.

My question is, given how often so many of them have been proven to be dishonest - whether on their own volition or by feeding off of stories from people like Sikma - how can anyone believe what any one of the right wing propagandists, bloggers and squawkers?

Islamophobia in Michigan

In this country nowadays, it's not unusual to see large amounts of prejudice and hatred toward Muslim-Americans. It's been elevated for the past 11 years and it doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. This is 2012. I thought we had moved past racial and religious bigotry.

It was reported today on ThinkProgress, that the gentleman running for the 11th congressional district seat in Michigan, Dr. Syed Taj (D), has now been graced with Tea bagger bigotry. And it's ugly.

Here is the commercial that is running, painting him as an Islamic extremist hellbent on taking over the United States and all that yadda yadda.

Let us analyze this mess, shall we? 

First, this commercial links Dr. Taj to the Democratic Socialists of America. From the statement on his campaign site, Dr. Taj states, "The ad claims Dr. Taj relies on funding from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Dr. Taj’s FEC filing is publicly available; the Taj Campaign has not received any funding from the DSA. A physician colleague, who also happens to be on the DSA board, hosted a fundraiser in his home at which individuals made donations to Dr. Taj’s campaign." See? You know what should be frightening the hell out of everyone? Millionaires and billionaires who give excruciatingly large amounts of money to super PACs run by shady, crooked people like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. They are people who are literally BUYING our democracy and taking away our voices. Chevron just donated $2.5 million dollars to defeat President Obama. That is what is worrisome!

Next comes the obvious line of attack. The cheap shot. Since Dr. Taj is Muslim, he HAS to be a terrorist or some sort of supporter of Islamic extremists, right? Well, duh, according to this ad. My god, the man even states he wants Muslims to have POWER! Because, of course, why should we give Muslim-American's a voice in our government? Who do they think they are?! Human beings?! But what really gets me is the "Too extreme for Michigan. Too extreme for America." Extreme in what ways? They never mention that, but I think it's safe to assume what they mean. It's utterly asinine.

Notice the pac who is putting on this ad? The Freedom's Defense Fund? Guess who runs that one. Jerome Corsi. You may remember him from such masterpieces as "Obama Nation" and "Unfit For Command" about John Kerry. Corsi is an extreme birther, truther, and idiot extraordinaire. You might be asking yourself, "wow, I thought he fell off the map? What's he up to these days?" Oh you know, being a racist bigot, screwing with elections, hanging out with Republican presidential candidates. Yup. Corsi is spending his time lately with Mittens! He claims he's part of the press corps, but no one believes it's that simple. We should be VERY concerned that this is the company that Romney and Paul Ryan choose to keep.

Whether it's religious bigotry, hatred and disdain of women, loathing immigrants and people who are of different backgrounds, the GOP has become a toxic sludge that is poisonous to the very ideas of justice, freedom and liberty that we cherish. The right-wing speaks of a deep loving obsession for the Constitution but when it comes time to act, they do the total opposite of what these founding documents stand for. Think about this video when you go to vote. This is just a glimpse into a meek, hate-filled future if the GOP is allowed to make gains on November 6th.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More AFP-WI!

We have written alot about our friends at Americans for Prosperity Poverty - WI! As we get closer to the election, we know that the koch funded astroturf organization will be stepping up efforts.  The Kochs have made no secret of that!  Their problem is in their messaging.   Since the Koch brothers are despicable people, it makes sense that they would bring in people who are just as despicable, to try and get out the right wing vote.

This time they are bringing in an all-star from the despicable line up: Ann Coulter!

Dear Jeffrey,
Don’t miss our rally and book signing this week featuring Ann Coulter in Madison, Wisconsin! You will be educated, motivated and receive tools to fight back against Obama's failing agenda.

Meet New York Times best seller Ann Coulter after you are educated on economic freedom and the failing policies of the administration. Join AFP-Wisconsin, Coulter, and other activists alike to demonstrate the grassroots are demanding a change in policies from the administration.

Where: Monona Terrace Community Center, 1 John Nolen Drive, Madison

When: Sunday, November 4, 12 - 1 PM

The failures just keep piling up. We need an agenda that will lead America to Prosperity, not one that puts us deeper in debt.

I hope to see you on the road!
Luke HilgemannWisconsin State DirectorAmericans for Prosperity

Luke Hilgemann, and the rest of his AFPWI group would like to introduce you to Ann Coulter.  Let me save you some time.   

(talking to a disabled Vietnam vet) "People like you caused us to lose that war." -- Ann Coulter on MSNBC
Disgusting. This disabled Vietnam veteran fought against communism when no one else like Ann would. She was fired from MSNBC because her comment was so bad.

 "There is a growing body of evidence that radiation in excess of what the government says are the minimum amounts we should be exposed to are actually good for you and reduce cases of cancer." -Ann Coulter, on fears over the fallout from Japan's nuclear crisis, Bill O'Reilly interview, March 18, 2011

 "I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot." --Ann Coulter at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference

 "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." Ann Coulter

 "The swing voters -- I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don't have set philosophical principles. You're either a liberal or you're a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster."  Ann Coulter

Then let's not forget her recent "tweet" during the presidential debate: 

  “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

Not everyone thinks she is funny.   

So this is the person that AFP-Wi felt was best suited to come to WI and help "get out the vote"?  Are you going to take your family to see her?  Is what she said acceptable?  Do you find these statements funny?   Is such hateful and stupid rhetoric what makes one a "rockstar" on the right?  Iw onder if Paul Ryan or any other republican politico will show up and endorse this? 

Those are all questions that you have to decide.   

Let them know how you feel!




Ted Turner: Dumb A$$ Of The Day

I don't even know...

Saying that the increasing number of suicides in the army is a good thing? He needs to shut the hell up.

Thoughts And Observations Regarding Frankenstorm

Frankenstorm, the perfect storm consisting of Hurricane Sandy, a nor'easter and high tide, hasn't even landed yet and it's having a significant impact on the East Coast and the rest of the nation.

Flooding, such as the pictured East River in New York City, is already happening. Flights in and out of the region are all but cancelled. The storm is even big enough that it has closed Wall Street for at least today and tomorrow.

The storm is so big and so strong that forecasters are warning that we will feel it's impact here in Wisconsin.

First and foremost, on behalf of myself and my co-authors, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the storms path. We hope everyone stays safe and doesn't unnecessarily put themselves in harm's way. (Especially you, Jenna Pope!)

The people in New Jersey should be especially cautious, since they have a governor that was so busy running away from a blizzard that he forgot to call a snow emergency.

As one might expect, President Barack Obama cancelled his political events, including an appearance in Green Bay on Tuesday:
Due to Hurricane Sandy, President Obama’s campaign event in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Tuesday has been cancelled. The President will remain in Washington, DC to closely monitor the impact of and response to the hurricane.
However, Mitt Romney was more in a Catch-22. If he held political events, such as his appearance scheduled for Monday night at State Fair - yeah, Mr. Teahadist was to hold his event decrying government spending at a government-funded place - he'd be labeled insensitive and compared to George W. Bush for more than his economic policy. If he canceled events, his side would wonder about his intelligence, his manliness and his American-ness.

Romney decided to cancel his events as well:
Out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy, we are canceling tonight's events with Governor Romney in Wisconsin and Congressman Ryan in Melbourne and Lakeland, Florida. We are also canceling all events currently scheduled for both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan on Tuesday. Governor Romney believes this is a time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harms way. We will provide additional details regarding Governor Romney's and Congressman Ryan's schedule when they are available
For what it's worth, I think Romney made the right call, but he'd be better served if he didn't put himself in the category of being a leader. All he's really going to be doing his ordering his servants to protect Ann's horse and his yacht. I would also be remiss if I did not point out that Romney said that FEMA should be shut down.

It should be noted that Romney's decision was not an immediate thing. In fact, this morning, they were first advertising that the turn out was going to be "so big" that they moved their event from the product pavilion to the State Fair Expo. (Part of me wonders if that's not what they rented in the first place and that they were pretending that they were going to use the other building to inflate his popularity.)

Scott Walker appeared on Charlie Sykes' show to commend Obama on cancelling his events, stating that he would do the same thing. He must have forgotten about two years ago, when Milwaukee County was hit with massive flooding and Walker left town to go campaigning and left all the work to his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

And what would any natural disaster be without a Pat Robertson-like blaming of the LGBT community (emphasis theirs)?

A Christian religious leader has already claimed that Hurricane Sandy is further proof that “God is systematically destroying America” as political judgment for the “homosexual agenda.” John McTernan previously made similar allusions about Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012), which he reiterated in his urgent call to prayer posted Sunday evening (via Gay Star News):
Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina. Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!
McTernan believes that it is noteworthy that Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years after the “Perfect Storm,” because 3 is a “significant number with God”:
Twenty-one years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection.
It appears that God gave America 21 years to repent of interfering with His prophetic plan for Israel; however, it has gotten worse under all the presidents and especially Obama. Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!
And this is just the beginning, folks.

Funder Of Racist Voter Intimidation Billboards Exposed

In 2010 and again this year, Milwaukee was bestrewn with racist billboards meant to intimidate minorities from voting in the elections. One Wisconsin Now, in a joint investigation with news service theGrio, found out who funded these vile monstrosities. From OWN's press release:
A joint investigation by theGrio news service and One Wisconsin Now has uncovered that Milwaukee’s Einhorn Family Foundation is the “private family foundation” that anonymously funded voter suppression billboards in Wisconsin in September 2010 and again this year. A review of IRS documents also showed Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation, headed by Scott Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, and one of the largest sources for right wing funding in America, gave the Einhorn Family Foundation a $10,000 grant, at the time the 2010 suppression billboards appeared, “to support a public education project.”

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said, “This was not an act of free speech, but an expression of racism as despicable as the ‘whites only’ signs of the Jim Crow South. We said we’d find out who was behind this, and we have.”

The comprehensive story that includes background and the findings of the investigation, as well as more about “Wisconsin’s Dark Money,” authored by theGrio Managing Editor Joy-Ann Reid, is available at:

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who would attack the sacred right to the franchise,” said Ross. “A broad coalition of progressive organizations fought tirelessly to bring these billboards down and they are ready to ensure everyone in Wisconsin who is eligible to vote and wants to vote, gets to vote.”

Ross noted that extensive on-air comments by Milwaukee radio talk show host Charlie Sykes, attempting to put a positive spin on the foundation demanding anonymity in sponsoring the racist, voter suppression billboards, was instrumental in the investigation.

“We want to thank Bradley’s marquee personality, Charlie Sykes,” said Ross. “Sykes’ big mouth over the radio about his conversation with the then-anonymous donor and his long and personal ties to Bradley’s half-billion-dollar, right-wing empire led us to also scour the Bradley Foundation IRS records and find the Einhorn gift. So, thanks a million, Charlie.”
OK, I have to admit that I just love the fact that it was the braggart Sykes that gave up his buddies.

For those that are unfamiliar with the details, Sykes had an affair with Bradley Foundation spokeswoman Janet Riorden. He eventually married her after divorcing Justice Diane Sykes. He also had her on his shows, but under the alias Liz Woodhouse, because he believes in being open and honest his listeners.

The fact that the Bradley Foundation funded these racist billboards is not surprising. They have a long history of promoting racist agendas, most notably funding the infamous and highly offensive "The Bell Curve," a study which basically said that poor children, especially minority children, aren't worth educating because they would get no benefit from it.

The article from theGrio again proves that when it comes to these fascists, there's more. There's always more:
Ross believes there is no coincidence that Wisconsin-style tea party politics is spreading nationwide under Priebus’ tenure as national party chair

“When voter suppression allegations have surfaced in Wisconsin for the past decade, the name Reince Priebus has always been close behind,” Ross told theGrio. In 2010, Priebus was cited by name, in an aborted voter caging plot targeting minorities and college students involving the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity and Wisconsin’s Tea Party leaders, including documents that referenced ‘billboards’ as part of the scheme multiple times.”

“In 2002, the Wisconsin state Elections Board enacted new guidelines for poll-watchers in response to a Priebus-led racially-charged voter intimidation scheme in Milwaukee,” Ross continued. “In 2008, Priebus’ Republican Party of Wisconsin sent out an email recruiting volunteers for alleged ‘inner city’ voter intimidation in Milwaukee. In 2012, it was uncovered Priebus’ RNC is behind an anonymous lawsuit intervening in a case involving our unconstitutional voter identification law. That this anti-American garbage is turning up in other states now that Priebus is running the RNC is of no surprise to us in Wisconsin given his career of scheming to deny legal voters their right to the franchise. Americans have always rejected politicians, like Reince Priebus, manipulating the voting system for partisan advantage and they will do it in this case as well.”
The amount of irrational hatred these people have is beyond comprehension. And the fact that they have as much power and influence as they do is utterly frightening and sickening.

Thompsons Cash In With Company That Harmed Thousands Of Women

In my last post, I pointed how Tommy Thompson is suffering a self-inflicted political wound when his attack on Tammy Baldwin backfired badly. In said post, I pointed out how Thompson profiteered at the expense of volunteers who went to New York City after the 9-11 attacks.

Today, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has come out with a ton of evidence that Thompson also profiteered via a company that has caused irreparable damage to thousands of women across the country.

Long story short, Thompson joined the board of C.R. Bard in 2005 as a "volunteer" status. That volunteer status ended quickly when the company gave Thompson 1,200 shares of its stock, a value of about $120,000. In fact, Thompson was given almost $1,500 this month alone in dividends from the company.

If you watch a lot of TV, you might recognize the company's name. They've been involved in numerous law suits across the country for faulty medical products, transvaginal mesh implants and hernia mesh implants, and are paying out $184 million in damages and fines. While that would be a helluva lot of money for you or me, it's not even a drop in the bucket for this company, There's been commercials from law firms involved with these cased trying to cash in on these lawsuits.

In return for their largesse, Thompson's been touting that companies, like C.R. Bard, should be allowed to bring their billions of dollars of profits back from the Cayman Islands (Hello, Mitt Romney!) tax free.

On the "bright side," Thompson does believe in sharing the wealth - with his racist son. He made sure that his son, Jason "Kenya dig it?" Thompson also cashed in by getting in on some stock options for work he allegedly did, per Thompson the elder, for an unnamed third party.

Yeah, right.

So, in a nutshell, both Tommy Thompson, and his son, Jason, got lucrative stock deals from a company that made faulty devices that have caused serious harm to thousands of people. In return, Thompson the elder has advocated that the company be allowed to keep their ill-gotten blood money tax-free.

And what of the people that were so harmed for life?

Well, I'm sure if Thompson had a brief moment of honesty and morality, he would agree with analyst Debbie Wang, who called the pittance of a pay out "a cost of doing business."

It's past the time to put Thompson out to pasture on his farm in Elroy.

Thompson's Desperate, Deceptive, Dishonest and Incompetent

While I was up north, I had the opportunity, or perhaps I should say, misfortune, to do something I almost never do - watch TV.

If you thought that the political ads in the urban areas were bad, they are almost wall to wall in the more rural areas. The Green Bay and Wausau television markets have a lot more area to cover, so the ads during the silly season are almost nothing but political ads, the same ones over and over and over.

One of the ads that I sadly saw over and over again was the one by Tommy Thompson in which he politicizes the horror of the terrorist attack of 9-11 to score a few cheap political points. Thompson claimed that Tammy Baldwin had voted against a memorial honoring the victims.

Not only was the commercial base and insulting for trying to politicize something as somber and painful as the memory of those 3,000 souls lost, but he was lying through his booze-soaked dentures.

Showing her moxie, Baldwin did not take this insult passively. Instead, she came back and struck a mighty blow of her own by presenting the facts regarding not only her own record on respecting the victims and survivors of that horrid day, but also Thompson's record:

Unlike Thompson's smear attack, which was utterly false and omitted key facts, Baldwin's rebuttal is based on documented facts.

On November 16, 2008, an article appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal and covered Thompson's ethical problems with the provision of health care coverage for 9-11 volunteers. The article was written by Dee J. Hall and was titled "THOMPSON AND A 9/11 CONTRACT - DEAL INVOLVES LA CROSSE FIRM, AND TREATMENT OF SOME PATIENTS IS CRITICIZED." (Sorry, no link.) Here is the article in its entirety, just to show how corrupt Thompson was and is:
Like thousands of other Americans, Judy Wolff, a nurse's aide at Holmen High School near La Crosse, dropped everything and rushed to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to see how she could help.

A volunteer with the American Red Cross, Wolff went to the World Trade Center site to help victims and their families get food vouchers and pay bills as they coped with the stunning loss of life, injuries and joblessness caused by the attacks.

After three weeks of breathing in a toxic cloud of crushed concrete, asbestos, lead and fumes from burned jet fuel, Wolff herself now is fully disabled - one of thousands struggling with a constellation of ailments common to those who helped victims and pulled bodies from the wreckage seven years ago.

Adding to her troubles: The 51-year-old Wolff has had to fight to get insurance coverage for her prescriptions, medical appointments and upcoming surgeries, even though Congress has set aside money specifically to care for her and the estimated 4,000 other responders living outside of the New York area. (Responders living near Ground Zero are cared for at a network of New York area hospitals.) The problem began in June, Wolff and others say, when Logistics Health Inc., of La Crosse, headed by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson , won an $11 million federal contract to provide medical care and health monitoring from the agency Thompson once led - a decision that continues to raise eyebrows on Capitol Hill.

Prior to June 1, responders living outside New York were served by a small nonprofit funded by the Red Cross with donations it got to help the victims of 9/11. Five months into Logistics Health's one-year federal contract, just a fraction of those patients have gotten the required medical monitoring, according to figures from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

And while NIOSH officials say all of the patients, such as Wolff, are now getting needed treatment, the claim is difficult to verify. Responders come in and out of the program at different times, depending on their health, said Fred Blosser, spokesman for the federal agency. As of last week, 187 patients were actively being treated for medical problems, Blosser said. In addition, he said 274 patients - out of 4,000 responders - have received testing and medical monitoring services.

Dr. Jim Melius, chairman of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Steering Committee, which coordinates care for 9/11 responders, said some patients may have simply dropped out of the program during the rocky transition to LHI. He said HHS should cancel the contract.

"I just don't have any confidence that they (LHI) have the capacity or the understanding to do this," Melius said. "They are doing a disservice to these people. There are hundreds more in the medical treatment program and thousands more that need medical monitoring, and they're not getting it."

Logistics Health spokeswoman Tracey Armstrong referred all questions to NIOSH, saying its federal contract prohibits the company from answering any questions from the media. But Blosser said the contract only requires that the company submit to NIOSH for review any statistics it plans to disseminate to the press.

Blosser said the agency was "pleased" that "progress is being made and additional responders are being brought into the program." But he said he's aware of the criticism that LHI is moving too slowly.

"We will be monitoring that information as time goes on to make sure that progress is being made and that responders who want to receive treatment ... are being served," he said.

'Just like that'

Anne Marie Baumann, senior vice president of the FealGood Foundation, which helps injured and ailing 9/11 responders, said she's heard from about three dozen responders around the country, including Wolff, about problems getting reimbursement for prescriptions and treatment from LHI.

"All of them were receiving services, and then all the services stopped, just like that," Baumann said. "I lose enough responders with cancer and leukemia and suicide. I don't need to lose them because they couldn't get their medications."

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic congresswoman representing Queens and Manhattan who has spearheaded the effort to care for 9/11 responders, said it's not clear where the blame for the delay lies, "but even administration officials admit that the start of this program was anything but smooth."

After Logistics Health Inc. took over this summer, Wolff said, her claims for reimbursement for expensive cough medicine and an inhaler came back as denied. And it wasn't until mid-October - more than four months into the one-year contract - that the company agreed to pay for her treatment for a respiratory ailment that afflicts many 9/11 responders.

Wolff, who lives just 15 minutes' drive from the Logistics Health office in downtown La Crosse, said she doesn't want to single out anyone for blame. But John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, isn't so circumspect. Feal points the finger directly at Wisconsin's former governor, who is also president of Logistics Health.

"I know Judy Wolff really well, and she's suffering. And I know Tommy Thompson and his group, and they're neglecting these people," Feal said.

Thompson spokesman Jason Denby referred questions about the contract to Logistics Health. But he said that Thompson - who is on boards and in management and consulting positions at 22 companies - "has been working closely with the team (at LHI) to ensure that the contract is carried out properly."

Partner at law firm

Thompson , 66, came to Logistics Health shortly after being President George W. Bush's secretary of Health and Human Services, which includes NIOSH, during Bush's first term. Upon leaving his federal post in December 2004, Thompson quickly assembled a large portfolio of private sector positions, including partner in one of Washington, D.C.'s most influential law firms, board directorships on medical device and pharmaceutical companies he once regulated, and as an executive with Deloitte & Touche, a major federal contractor that provides health-care consulting services.

In March 2005, Thompson was named president of LHI, which provides "customized health care solutions" for private companies and the federal government using a network of medical and dental providers. Armstrong declined to say how much the privately held company pays Thompson .

Since the former HHS secretary joined Logistics Health three and a half years ago, the company has seen its federal contracting business skyrocket. According to OMB Watch, a nonprofit group that tracks government contracting, the company of 400 employees has gone from $19.9 million in federal contracts in 2003 to $104.8 million in 2007, including part of the first year of a five-year contract to provide health and dental services to military reservists worth an estimated $790 million.

In at least two published interviews, LHI founder and chairman Don Weber has credited the company's recent growth to Thompson 's connections in federal government.

"If I were to go in a try to get a meeting with some of the decision makers in these organizations, it would take me a lifetime," Weber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in February 2006. " Tommy is able to make a phone call - and then we get in front of people who make decisions. And when we can show them what we're all about, it expedites decisions."

Weber made a similar statement to the La Crosse Tribune in September 2006.

"He ( Thompson ) has definitely had an impact" on the company's growth, Weber told the newspaper. " Tommy really is able to get us in to see the right people, the decisionmakers."

Denby insisted that Thompson has never contacted anyone at his former agency to discuss business. "He doesn't talk to HHS about contracts. It's simple," Denby said. Armstrong also didn't respond to messages seeking an interview with Weber.

Request was conceled

How Thompson 's company won the contract to provide 9/11 responder care has come under scrutiny. Last fall, the administration solicited bids to provide medical and pharmacy care for ailing responders living outside of New York City. In December, a few days before the bids were due, HHS canceled the request for proposals. Knut Ringen, a Seattle consultant, said his client, Zenith Administrators and QTC of Diamond Bar., Calif., was ready to submit its bid when the solicitation was canceled.

Suspicious about the change, one New York City congressman held a hearing in January to try to force HHS to explain why the request for proposals had been scuttled. The agency declined to send a representative to the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement.

Blosser said the process was halted because it wasn't clear how much the government would pay for patients with health insurance, although Congress had appropriated $108 million for that purpose. He said the solicitation also was "structured in a way that inadvertently limited interest from bidders that may have been equipped to address the complexity of the program on both the local and national scale."

U.S. Rep. Ed Towns, chairman of the subcommittee, didn't buy the explanations offered by the health agency.

"It is really a baffling decision, and they can't even get their stories straight for why it happened," the Democrat from Brooklyn said at the hearing. "First they said that the bidders were confused. Well, we talked to bidders, who had invested a lot of time and money in their proposals, and they said they were ready to go. Then the administration said there wasn't enough funding. Well, how could they know that before the bids came in?"

In March, the HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes NIOSH, issued a new request for proposals. LHI was among four bidders. Ringen prepared a second proposal, this time just from Zenith. He said LHI's $11 million proposal was several million dollars less than those of the other three bidders. Blosser declined to say how much the other proposals would have cost, adding that such information can't be released to the public under federal contracting rules.

"We could not do the project on the budget LHI proposed - at least and do it responsibly," Ringen said. "We couldn't even come close to what they were proposing."

In the transition

Before LHI got the contract, the nonprofit Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics provided heath-care services for 9/11 responders, many of whom had sought for years to get help from the federal government for respiratory, gastrointestinal and mental health problems. After the contract was awarded in May, Katherine Kirkland, the association's executive director, said her group tried to ease the transition for patients.

"We offered to talk with them (LHI) and work with them, and they said they had everything under control and they'd get back to us," she said.

Kirkland said she tried unsuccessfully to contact LHI as dozens of patients began calling her with complaints about lack of service. Finally, she said, the association and the Red Cross agreed to continue paying medical claims for the patients beyond the scheduled end of their program on June 30.

"In spite of everyone saying whoever got the contract, that they'd be ready on Day 1, they weren't," said Kirkland, whose association continued to pay claims through July under its agreement with the Red Cross.

Kirkland said Logistics Health isn't solely to blame. She said the federal government "just didn't allow enough time for the transition" for a program that serves patients scattered across nearly every state. "I just don't think they (LHI) understood and I don't think the federal government understood what was involved in providing treatment for these people," she said.

Wolff said she continues to struggle with the effects of her three weeks at Ground Zero: Depression, looming surgeries and permanent disability that makes her unable to work. She said she's had to cancel doctor appointments because she can't afford the gas to get there.

Towns, the New York City congressman, said the care provided to Wolff and others is "one of the worst-managed programs I've seen. The lack of action for these heroes, and the bureaucracy they've had to go through, is simply unacceptable. It is shameful."
The question the gentle reader should be asking themselves is this: If Thompson would be willing to sell out these heroes for a "few shekels," do you really think he would even blink an eye at selling out you or me?

A bonus question would be: Where the hell was Thompson's campaign manager?  He should have known that Thompson had this history and steered clear of the whole issue.