Friday, September 30, 2005

Nice Finish Brewers

Light blogging tonight since I’m Downloading the Internet but congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers because the Win Assures a .500 Season. Down five runs after five innings the long ball power of Harvey's Wallbangers mysteriously appears. You have to believe the old man would have been pleased.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Aid and Effect in Africa

James Surowiecki, writing in the New Yorker last July, about monetary aid to third world countries notes the variability of results. Most of Africa is still trapped in poverty and tyranny, while India and Pakistan have large segments of their populations in better living conditions than previous decades. South Korea and Taiwan enjoy widespread prosperity.
A Farwell to Alms: This checkered record notwithstanding, it’s a myth that aid is doomed to failure. Foreign aid funded the campaign to eradicate smallpox, and in the sixties it brought the Green Revolution in agriculture to countries like India and Pakistan, lifting living standards and life expectancies for hundreds of millions of people. As for the Asian nations that Africa is being told to emulate, they may have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, but at least they were provided with boots. In the postwar years, South Korea and Taiwan had the good fortune to become, effectively, client states of the U.S. South Korea received huge infusions of aid, with which it rebuilt its economy after the Korean War. Between 1946 and 1978, in fact, South Korea received nearly as much U.S. aid as the whole of Africa. Meanwhile, the billions that Taiwan got allowed it to fund a vast land-reform program and to eradicate malaria. And the U.S. gave the Asian Tigers more than money; it provided technical assistance and some military defense, and it offered preferential access to American markets.
What seems to be important is that money is used to fuel a working system. Liquidity alone is not constructive, like how water is necessary for civilization but requires plumbing to sufficiently lift society above agricultural subsistence. In a weird way, the flood in New Orleans is a true metaphor for simply throwing money at a problem.

So money without an effectively structured system is prone to failure, and sometimes the beliefs within affluent countries prevent the proper system for the specific problem from being implemented. Again from Africa, an example of the West failing to use financial resources effectively because of overly broad prohibitionist thinking.
Niger's Famine: Tragedy struck Niger, the former French colony of West Africa, over the summer. Millions were at risk of starvation. Political corruption, drought and poverty were the main causes for the lack of food, but over this past year West Africa has also been ravaged by a plague of locusts. … And that is because they couldn’t use Dieldrin, an insecticide banned by the UN Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Dieldrin was sprayed across the path of the approaching hoppers and its persistence meant that a single spray of a thin barrier strip was enough to wipe out vast swathes of hoppers for weeks. There are alternatives, but none are anywhere near as cost-effective (on a useful life–cost basis alternatives are at least eight times as expensive), and for debt-laden cash-strapped countries of the Sahel lack of Dieldrin meant not stopping the hoppers.
The Capital Times has a story today about the Haunting Images of Africa which are soon to be a PBS special. Television will undoubtedly promote solutions requiring lots of money and massive government programs influenced by the desires of the liberals for their own 'dream home' civilization. Personally, I don’t have faith in planning solutions conceived from ideological theory of what should work. Freedom for local trial and error is slower and messier but in time the solutions that actually work emerge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

600 Years Ago In China

At the beginning of the 15th Century there were more than two Chinese individuals for every living European, and China was ruled by a stable and well educated government. Ming Emperor Zhu Di controlled the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country on Earth, and nearly a century before Columbus crossed the Atlantic, China's Empire of Exploration began.
SIX hundred years ago, in 1405, the Chinese imperial fleet set out on its first voyage to explore and trade with the world. The logistics of the enterprise remain unparalleled in maritime history - 27,000 men aboard 317 ships.

Unlike his father, Zhu Di believed in foreign trade as a swift way to enrich China, and his dynasty, without imposing a heavy tax burden on his subjects. He decreed: “Let there be mutual trade at the frontier barriers in order to supply the country’s needs and to encourage distant people to come”
The fact you are reading this in English rather than Mandarin is a direct result of the struggle of ideas and concepts of how society should be structured and ruled.
In 1424 Zhu Di died, and the conservative Confucian scholars gained ascendancy over the eunuchs, the executive branch of government, with their investment in trade. The Confucians thought merchants were parasites and wanted to curb increases in their power. Under the tribute system, the cost of return gifts often amounted to more than the benefits from tribute, and profits from trade went directly to the court; overseas trade did not lead to the hoped-for lessening of taxes. … An imperial decree banning ocean-going vessels was issued in 1436, and by the end of the 15th century it was a capital offence to construct a multi-masted vessel.
Revenue from trade flowed through the Empire, but spending is an enticing pastime for the powerful and they failed to use the wealth wisely. The three decade experiment of engaging the world through trade, backed by military power to keep theft and corruption in check, was ended by policy decisions turning the country inward and isolationist. China dismantled its Navy and the oceans of the world were left to the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wineke Exemplifies Democrat Hypocrisy

Republicans do plenty of things I consider stupid, like making someone show an ID to purchase Sudafed. I vote for Republicans in spite of their flaws because I simply can not force myself to think like a Democrat. Wisconsin Chairman Joe Wineke provides a classic example.
MADISON – Instead of asking Americans to sacrifice once again, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke today called on President Bush to ask oil companies that profited in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to sacrifice their excess profits and return them to the American consumer.
Let’s start with the concept of ‘excess profits’. Profit is only money left over after expenditures. In America, competition and free transaction determine how much money comes into a business. Excess profits means excess money, but I never hear Democrats complain about excess money derived from taxes, non-profit grant funding or plush union contracts.
Yesterday, President Bush said Americans must sacrifice and drive less because of concerns that the recent storms that hit the Gulf Coast could disrupt the gasoline market. Specifically, the President said Americans should avoid going “on a trip that’s not essential.”
Price is set by supply and demand so when supply is diminished it is prudent to call for voluntary reductions in demand. How can this possibly be bad?
“President Bush continues to call on Americans to make more and more sacrifices to make up for his failed leadership. It’s no secret that America’s working families have learned to make great sacrifices over the last five years with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress.
There have been hard times since the turn of the century. There was a painful recession after the collapse of the Clinton economy and the current administration is putting those Clinton era crooks in jail. There is also the little matter of divinely inspired murder.
“Instead of asking Americans to sacrifice once more, the President should call on the oil companies that profited in the aftermath of the hurricanes to sacrifice their excess profits and return them to the American consumer. Here in Wisconsin alone, consumers have been overcharged by an estimated $88 million.
Again the idea that too much money is bad, but now adding the concept there is a non-market price, an inherent value, that can be exceeded with a resulting ‘overcharge’. The overcharge concept has validity only if supply and demand is distorted by monopoly or government price controls.
“Sadly, President Bush and Wisconsin’s Republicans in Congress have yet to make any sacrifices themselves, continuing to champion tax breaks for the wealthy while amassing an irresponsible deficit that will be passed along for generations to come. Yesterday, Republican leaders in Congress even announced plans to introduce new legislation or amend existing measures to bestow even more tax breaks on the oil industry.
The Federal spending spree has been disgraceful but for Democrat complaints to be sincere there must be some evidence of attempting to reduce spending. Name one Democratic official that has voluntarily reduced or turned down dollars from Washington as excessive?
“While the President’s big oil cronies have enjoyed record profits -- $7 billion per month more than they were making just 18 months ago for the same oil – the Bush Administration has done little, if anything at all, to help lower the cost of oil. And while hardworking Wisconsin families struggle to fill up their cars at the pump, President Bush continues to jet around the country, consuming an enormous amount of fuel. In fact, the Air Force recently estimated that fuel costs for Air Force One have risen to $6,029 per hour – up from $3,974 an hour in the last budget year. [Associated Press, 9/27/2005] President Bush is telling the American people to do as he says – not as he does.
What Democratic efforts are being made to lower the price of oil by expanding supply and processing capacity? Is there a Democrat call for a moratorium on all private jet travel? The party of railroading the poor and using money from the Hollywood wealthy, with their personal planes, has no standing to request anyone to behave in ways they are not willing to impose upon themselves first.
“Americans know we can do better, and they expect more from President Bush and the Republicans in Congress. It’s time for the President to show some leadership and keep the promise he made in 2000 to reduce the cost of gasoline.”
So sorry Joe. Follow up this diatribe with a press release asking Kohl and Feingold to vote for opening up ANWR for drilling, and one telling Doyle to suspend the Gas Tax and return the transportation funds, then I’ll concede your sincerity. Short of that, all these words without any underlying actions to validate them just reinforce the negative stereotypes of your party.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Arrowhead-Weston & Electric Wisconsin

A well known satellite photograph of the Korean Peninsula at night shows a brightly lit South immediately adjacent to the nearly prehistoric darkness of the North. More recently satellite pictures of the pre and post Katrina Gulf Coast defined the tragedy by where the lights went out. America is primarily an electric civilization. We adjust our lifestyles when gasoline gets scarce but we pretty much stop our lifestyles when the power is out.

In the 1990’s the Thompson Administration invested heavily in building roads in Wisconsin, because personal and commercial transportation is essential to a healthy economy. Beginning in 2001 Wisconsin restructured its Electric Industry, splitting off production from distribution with the latter controlled by the American Transmission Company. Wisconsin is now building the electric infrastructure that will keep TV’s on for the Packers and Badgers and computers online for the bloggers.
Arrowhead-Weston is a 220-mile transmission line connecting Duluth, Minn., with Wausau, Wis. The line is needed to accommodate electric load growth in northern Wisconsin and to improve reliability of the electric transmission system in the region. According to a study issued in 2002 by the US Department of Energy, Wisconsin’s transmission system has one of the most congested interfaces in the country. Building the Arrowhead-Weston line will add an important element to Wisconsin’s transmission infrastructure – it will bring much-needed reliability to a seriously constrained system.
All large scale regional construction projects cause hardship for the individuals in their path. A good friend from college still holds a grudge against the power company that ran a transmission line through the rolling hills and sheep pastures of his childhood home. Eminent Domain is a cruel tool which is why I strongly oppose the mindless way it was expanded through the Kelo decision. Part of me sympathizes with the Active Opposition.
As you read this, American Transmission Company is mowing down farmer’s crops and cutting through woodlots along the right of way. Farmers who were counting on this year’s yields will have to wait for compensation if it ever comes, and landowners are witnessing their timber being stolen off of their land.

We need you to help the residents of Marathon County defend their land, homes, and livelihoods against the Arrowhead-Weston Transmission line. Much of the power comes from massive hydroelectric dams that have flooded an area the size of the state of Minnesota, displacing the Pimicikamak Cree Nation from their traditional homeland. Landowners and others have exhausted every means within the system to stop the theft and destruction. However, the fight is just beginning.
The opposition is wrong in the sense that the fight is over, and the 4.5 million residents of Wisconsin will be better off even though 800 private land owners will be directly impacted. Nothing in this build is done without consideration of the impact on people and the environment, and three quarters of the line is being constructed over existing right of way easements. Links to Project Facts and Property Rights outline what has been done to limit and mitigate the harm of Eminent Domain, but like it or not, the most prosperous future for the majority is electronic.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Patent Denied

The Packers go to 0-3 and Matt Kenseth blows a tire late in the race falling back to 9th place in the championship standings. Oh well, at least winter is on the way.

This obscure bit of information caught my eye and without going into great detail, I think it is a good idea the Courts are not inclined to let private corporations patent pieces of the genetic code.
Biotech Patent Case May Tank: More than 100 biotech patent applications -- part of a land rush to protect bits of identifiable genetic markers -- will most likely be thrown out as inventions lacking practical use, as a result of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The Monsanto Co. case, closely watched by the biotechnology industry, is the court's first application of the patent protection standard of "substantial and specific" utility to nucleotide sequences known as expressed sequence tags, or ESTs -- a component of DNA.
The ability of the Federal Government to award limited term exclusivity in the form of patent protection is part of the legal basis for the entrepreneurship success of the American economy. There are limits to what can actually be patented and in this case the Court says the patent must cover something that actually works.

Monsanto was attempting to patent sequences of genetic material known to control gene expression. In other words, they wanted exclusivity over their knowledge of the specific order of base pairs making up a section of a chromosome. In insisting a patent have “substantial and specific utility” a standard is being set that knowledge about a structural component of a cell is not the same as a new design for a vacuum cleaner.
"In this field, ability to guess has outpaced the ability to do," said Genentech Inc. attorney Jeffrey Kushan of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. "Tons of information is generated, but turning [it] into real products is more elusive," he said.

Simply identifying the 300 or so strings of nucleotides in an expressed genetic tag does not suffice to show a practical utility, it is only part of the gene map, according to Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul R. Michel.
This is good. I don’t really want anyone, private or public, to have ownership rights over the knowledge of how life works. Once someone starts owning the genes it becomes tempting to believe you can own the gene pool and then act accordingly.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Wal-Mart Crisis in Jefferson? - Maybe Not

John Stocco just went Darrell Bevell on Michigan and the Badgers WIN. Now if Bevell can get Favre not to throw interceptions this weekend could be totally footballicious.

Meanwhile the ongoing political conflict is having a flare up in Jefferson, Wisconsin. Both Jib, posting at Badger Blog Alliance and Owen at Boot and Sabers have noticed there seems to be statewide interest in Jefferson’s effort to recall an Alderman. Everyone seems to believe this is the influence of Wal-Mart on the tranquility of small town America.

According to the Capital Time Story, Jefferson is a town of 7,500 residents and over 1,000 signed petitions to recall Alderman David Olsen. The recall actually began over a month ago and both Xoff and Free Will posting at noted the activity and drew comments from the locals. The most adamant comments in support of the recall come from John Foust who knows Alderman Olsen very well.
From 1997 to 2001, Olsen was employed by the City of Jefferson to serve as Executive Director of two of its economic development agencies as well as the Chamber of Commerce, and served as the city’s representative on a County economic group. Olsen vehemently opposed opening these groups to public scrutiny, ignoring the opinions and orders of the City Clerk, City Attorney, a District Attorney, and even the Attorney General’s office.

Three of the groups disbanded and were forced to re-structure to comply with the law. Olsen was on the executive committee of the County group that disbanded rather than open up, never delivering the contracted services they promised to the County and leaving a $10,000 debt for unpaid rent.

In March 2001, his City board unanimously reprimanded him for “lack of prudent judgment” when he doubled his insurance coverage and back-dated documents to create his own retirement account without authorization, promoted Internet travel services over local businesses on the cover of a national magazine, and for filing a police report for “feeling threatened” when he was ordered out of a private office.

In December 2001, the City Council and his Chamber Board were furious to discover that he’d hidden a $30,000 slush fund, intentionally and repeatedly supplying misleading financial statements to the Council in order to plead poverty to justify more public funding. He was, as they say, "given an opportunity to resign."

Even after this, in April 2002 the Watertown Daily Times reported an incident where Olsen accosted a City employee at City Hall. The City Administrator ordered that Olsen have no further contact with City employees unless it was official business. Our Friendly Giant gets a little testy sometimes, it seems.

In 2004, Olsen was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Tourism against the wishes of local tourism leaders who wrote to the Governor and Secretary of Tourism to plead against his appointment.
So why is there active state wide fund raising to defend a small town Alderman? The key is that Democratic Party partisans are behind virtually all Anti-Wal-Mart activity in Wisconsin. As Xoff points out, Alderman Olsen is a Democratic Party hack of long standing. As such he understands the Democrats are philosophically receptive to the idea that Wal-Mart is out to get him. Once again, the locals know better than to believe this type of hype from a native son with a long history of failed self promotion. Again from John Foust comments:
Why would mighty Wal-Mart bother to fight a small-town Council member? Why aren’t they pressuring and bribing the other two no-vote Council members in the same way? (I think it's because Olsen is inventing and conflating in order to attract more attention to himself.) Four Council members are elected every year; the Mayor every other year. If they want a Council in favor of Wal-Mart, all they need to do is wait until the time is right. It's ludicrous to suggest they're even corporately aware of Olsen. The wasted effort alone (due to the proximity of the next election) should be proof that Wal-mart wouldn't bother. As you point out, Jefferson is really North Fort Atkinson or South Watertown or West Waukesha, as viewed at high altitude by the demographic models in Bentonville.
Wal-Mart doesn’t care about and probably doesn’t know about a David Olsen. Wal-Mart is to busy donating time, money and supplies to hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast to waste time on an exposed rat in Wisconsin.

Friday, September 23, 2005

American Cyberpolice Laws (soon)

The government is considering the freedom of the Internet and they don’t like it. Scott E. Thomas, Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, makes the case that government must expand into cyberspace. The Chinese Communists have a technical manual on the subject, but the CIA has probably already provided the Commissioner a translated copy.
US Committee on House Administration: September 22, 2005: (.pdf) I hope to make a few basic point: (1) The commission’s 2002 regulations mistakenly adopted a ‘total carve out’ for Internet communications that exempts from core statutory provisions even paid campaign advertising: (2) There are ways for the Commission to rectify the situation by regulating only Internet activity that raises the concerns underlying the core statutory provision while leaving the vast majority of Internet activity, including blogging, uninhibited: and (3) Congress should await the Commission’s effort and should not compound the current problem with enactment of the same ‘total carve out’ approach.
Regulations adopted by the Commission in 2002 exempt the Internet from existing campaign finance regulations and the Commissioner considers this a MISTAKE. In America there is still a means of communication outside the REGULATORY control of the political class and this is viewed as a BAD THING. Truly free speech, enabled by money to reach millions is feared as a threat which must be controlled.
In sum, as a result of the poor decisions made by the Commission in the rulemaking process, party committees will be using ‘soft money’ to pay for Internet ads bashing candidates; corporations, unions, foreign nationals, and wealthy individuals will be paying for Internet related expenses of requesting candidates and parties; and the public won’t have a clue who is paying for virtually all Internet advertising they will see.
The public is stuck on stupid in the mindset of the political class. The American consumer, immersed from first cognition in an atmosphere of competing claims about products and services, is an extremely good judge of value. It is, therefore, absurdly arrogant to believe Americans loose this ability to make rational judgments on competing political hucksterism. A lot of money promoting good value gets results, but a thousand internet startups have amply demonstrated that bad ideas just won’t fly.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for political activity. Its accessibility and generally low cost are invigorating the body politic. By the same token, its increased usage by candidates and parties and the increased resources being put into this technology for campaign advertising suggest a need to be cautious about attempts to ‘exempt’ all Internet activity for federal campaign finance laws.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are competing on principles. Both sides have gone ‘all in’ on emotional issues with the expectation that average Americans only vote when aroused. This is the politics of the tried and true. The safe way to hold serve and gain ground only when the opposition falters. This is the politics of the timid and fearful, and nothing highlights this more than fear of true free speech, 'exempt' from control. The parents are restless so every blogger needs to be ready to fight for your right to party.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Calling Foul on the Scaremongers

This is encouraging. Nice to see the Brits calling a foul.
Poison Experts Attack 'Hysteria' Over Chemicals: Britain's leading poison experts united last week to denounce pressure groups for mounting a 'hysterical, scaremongering' campaign about dangerous chemicals in the environment. They accused the groups - in particular WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund - of acting irresponsibly by publishing reports claiming most people have blood swimming with toxic compounds.

'Most chemicals were found at a fraction of a part per billion. There is no evidence such concentrations pose any threat to people's health. This is irresponsible, hysterical scaremongering.' … 'Frankly, I would have been very surprised if they hadn't found chemicals at that level,' said Professor John Henry, also of Imperial College. 'You find flame retardant traces because we have them in our homes. That's why fire deaths have plunged. These chemicals are monuments to mankind's progress.'
Science is a method. It is a process of measuring reality and testing real measurements against theory, with the skeptical assumption that you don’t know right or wrong until reproducible results confirm the hypothesis. Science presupposes human ignorance of the truth until the truth becomes consistently demonstrable. An individual asserting theories rather than results is the clearest indication there is no validity in their claims

Simply taking measurements is not science, its only prep work. An untestable general statement is not a hypothesis. Mixing measurements and plausible sounding possibilities is the opposite of science, and is time those individuals taking pride in their pursuit of verifiable knowledge stand up and denounce the fraudulent misuse of their discipline.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Madison's Worst Government Ever

Years of voter apathy have created the worst city government in Madison, Wisconsin history. Last evening the City Council meeting lasted nearly to sunrise. This morning the ‘play nice’ alliance between Academic Elitist Liberals, lead by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and Green Party Progressive Dane, headed by mother hen Brenda Konkel, is over.
Cieslewicz, Konkel Clash: I'm parting ways with Brenda," Cieslewicz said. "I think she exercises poor judgment. She puts the council through endless debate with no purpose."

Brenda Konkel: "It's been a pattern of disappointment," she said, ticking off other issues such as mandatory paid sick leave and bus fare hikes as other recent examples of Progressive Dane and Cieslewicz acting apart. "He focuses on getting 11 votes, not good policy," Konkel said. "Progressive Dane is concerned about passing good policies."
When children play at being lawmakers they tend to become enamored with the brilliance of their own ideas, to the exclusion of all evidence against them. Progressive Dane is a collection of desires arranged around a utopian vision of the environment and a coloring book understanding of economics. The anti-business implications of the ‘good policies’ Brenda’s little peepers champion became too much for the Planning Policy Wonks. The kids simply would not shut up.
Council OK's Lobbying Law: But several council members said the ordinance had been irreparably weakened because the council had given in to business interests. … "I'm concerned that the proposal today has more holes than a pair of fishnet stockings," said Lisa Subeck, a former Progressive Dane party candidate for the City Council.
Hours of wasting time over the Lobby Law forced nearly 90 registered speakers on the Smoking Ban to wait till the middle of the night for their four minutes of talking to the proverbial brick wall.
Smoking Ban Stands: At 3:45 a.m., Ald. Judy Compton, was saying "and the worst carcinogen known in the world is the mold found in marijuana," when Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, now wearing glasses, leaned into his microphone and told her she'd been speaking continuously for 11 minutes.
Sometime a few hours before sunrise a 10 – 9 vote retains absolute probation against indoor smoking within the city limits. Apparently the cultural traditions of American labor are not worth protecting now that there are expensive ways to treat disease, and politicians counting on winning votes with promises to pay the bills. The following sentence from a health victim pretty well sums up the thinking at City Hall.
Liberal Values Prevail: "The government has a right to protect people from businesses that put them at risk,"
No one should be surprised. The Cieslewicz Administration has always treated the City as if it were a Members Only Club. In other words, they treat the City as if it is an extension of the University, where applicants apply to be students or faculty or staff, and the Organization selects the people they want to incorporate into the fold. In reality, any city exists because private citizens choose to own property and businesses in a given area, and any government that does not preserve the rights and freedoms of all peaceful citizens is bad government.

As if to put a final exclamation point on the matter, Madison’s Highest Paid Employee abruptly resigns this morning amidst sexual harassment accusations. These people are just bad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Black Tuesday

The New York Times is ‘downsizing’ its payroll. Today is being referred to as Black Tuesday as the Times joins Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. in announcing staff lay offs. The workforce reduction comes just days after the Times implements Charges For Online Access To Columnists. Being able to print on paper doesn’t mean you can print money.

In their press release to employees Chairman Arthur Sulzberger and CEO Janet Robinson appear to value their own wealth over the lives of the working class.
"Given the continued financial challenges and the cloudy economic outlook for the remainder of the year, we believe it is prudent and necessary to initiate this additional reduction. We will be working through the bargaining issues with our unions and will observe all contractual obligations, including severance where applicable.”
Earlier this year I posted here about the exact day I stopped reading the New York Times and today’s events are not surprising to anyone paying attention to the news. This is just a larger than normal seismic event in the continuing implosion of an Eighteenth Century business model for information distribution. In the Twenty First Century information age, you can survive printing lies for the fiction market, but you can no longer print lies and call them truth.

HT Moonbat Central

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tal Afar, Iraq

Socialist Worker Online has a story about the battle in Tal Afar, Iraq. They actually lay out the objective features in straight forward detail. Over twice as many Iraqi forces as Americans, and months of prep work to assure that innocent civilians have ample opportunity to avoid the battle while Sunni Baathist thugs and Foreign Jihadist killers don’t. Civilians leaving prior to combat are provided food, water, housing and medical aid.
Iron Fist in Tal Afar: The U.S. therefore began preparing for a new onslaught on Tal Afar in July, building 80 miles of berms, or blockades, to restrict movement into and out of the city. According to CNN, the operation, known as “Operation Restoring Rights,” involved 4,000 U.S. and coalition forces and roughly 8,000 Iraqi soldiers and police in the Nineveh province, where Tal Afar is located.

Those who were allowed to leave were “screened” as possible insurgents in U.S.-run camps before receiving food and water. According to press accounts, there at least 100,000 refugees--a crisis that led the Turkish Red Crescent, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, to dispatch emergency aid across the borders.
In the Socialist view of the world, a slow developing effort to bring safety and elective rule to a major city is really a doomed attempt to install a puppet government and prevent the minority Sunni population from effectively organizing political opposition to a new constitution. A constitution imposed upon the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s crime syndicate by the millions of Iraqi’s who were not afraid to vote.
While the U.S. military aims in Tal Afar are unlikely to be met, Washington at least hopes for some near-term political gains by pushing Iraqi troops to the fore and giving its puppet government the illusion of power. … The U.S. blitz on Tal Afar will also disrupt efforts by the Sunni population in Nineveh province from mobilizing for a “no” vote in the October 15 referendum on the new constitution.
Socialist Worker Online ends their story with hundreds of thousands of refugees in the desert while a savage American attack is inflicted upon Tal Afar. Bill Roggio writing at The Fourth Rail picks up the story line.
Continuing Ops in Tal Afar: Coalition forces continue mop-up operations in Tal Afar. … About 20,000 of the city's population fled during the fighting, contrary to the stories of a mass exodus of civilians. Reconstruction efforts have been taking place in the city in conjunction with the fighting, with local Iraqis participating in the efforts to provide for jobs and ownership.

al Qaeda's predicament is as follows: It cannot take and hold territory, thus it is unable to project real power. To remain relevant in Iraq and to erode the will of the American public, it must conduct mass casualty attacks. But these attacks increasing alienate the Iraqi citizens, even sympathetic Sunnis and members of the insurgency. That the media cannot or will not recognize al Qaeda's dilemma is stunning, to say the least.
The American lead liberation of Iraq from criminal tyranny and the simultaneous dismantling of the operational structure of al Qaeda’s murderous religious jihad is probably the most humane military operation in history. IT IS STILL WAR, with all that is sickening and painful in human conflict, but the only people dreaming of fireballs incinerating millions are the islamofascists and their socialist supporters.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Capital Times Gets Punked

Greg Palast is an unrepentant liberal writer currently working in Britain for both the BBC and The Observer. One of his claims to fame is a best selling book about how George Bush stole the Presidential elections in both 2000 and 2004. When Palast states bluntly that British MP George Galloway is “just another self-promoting fart”, you would think the Madison progressive movement would understand they have been duped.
What's Left? Progressives vs. Ourselves: The Honorable Member of Britain's House of Commons has become the new love-child of American progressives for his in-your-face accusations about our own government's mendacity in sending our troops to war in Iraq. I myself quoted Galloway with admiration. But the man who saluted the "courage" of Saddam Hussein in 1994, who today can't and won't account for nearly a million dollars in income and expenditures for a charity he founded to buy medicine for Iraqi children is not, friends, the best choice as our anti-war spokesman.
Of course since The Capital Times, The Progressive and the UW Madison are sponsoring Galloway’s diatribe in Madison this evening, Capital Times Editor John Nichols is still pimping him like he is some social justice superstar.
Galloway's Frankness Invigorates, Shocks Americans: Galloway, who will appear at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus, became an instant hero to many opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq when the previously little-known member of the British Parliament flew to Washington to appear before the Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations.
So while Nichols is attaching the credibility of the Capital Times to this British firebrand, the English Left who know him best are asking why a British MP is touring America in the first place. Again, from the British reporter Greg Palast:
Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican Party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.
Hey John Nichols, you’ve just been punked by the Republicans.

Mysterious Disappearing Internet

36 hours of “connection failed” messages, one after another and each one exactly the same, as if being massed produced by some evil global corporation owned production line. Reboot, connection failed, reboot everything, connection failed, system restore, connection failed, system restore again, connection failed. Yahoo is probably using their weekend tech support to assist the Chinese Communist Government ferret out dissidents rather than aiding innocent American taxpayers. Why doesn’t the Federal Government make Yahoo help the needy in this country? I blame Bussssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Update: I’ve turned on comment word verification because spambots are appearing with greater frequency in the blogsphere. I seriously hate spammers. Why doesn't the Federal Government make them stop spamming? Maybe the reason is that spammers are really Republican operatives doing the bidding of Bussssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Seat Belt Fatality

The day after Dale Earnhardt crashed at Daytona in 2001, the focus of the investigation became the seat belt. In the weeks following his death NASCAR insisted the seat belt breaking caused the fatality, while the manufacturer claimed Earnhardt must have released the latch. Every NASCAR fan knows seat belts save lives which is why the no one expects anyone to be killed simply by hitting a concrete wall at nearly 200 mph. I was bummed out for days.

Today Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) announces that seat belt legislation he introduced has died at the Capital.
Seat Belt Bill Defeated in Committee: Madison… The Assembly Committee on Transportation last week voted down legislation that would have established standard enforcement of Wisconsin’s current Seatbelt law. The legislation would have allowed law enforcement to stop drivers for not complying with current law requiring the use of seatbelts on state roads.
Good. Seat belts are the best personal safety devices for all occupants of a vehicle in motion. Every person should buckle up every time. That does not change the fact that these are personal safety systems and not items like brake lights and turn signals that directly effect the interaction with other traffic.

Individual safety and personal responsibility should be taught and encouraged, but I am not comfortable with any legislation authorizing police to interfere with my peaceful pursuit of daily life, even if it is for my own good. The initial 2003 press release is blunt about this legislation being designed to punish citizens in advance for their own good.
Press Release 2003: Legislation was introduced today to require standard (or primary) enforcement of the state's seatbelt law. This means that motorists could be pulled over for an observed failure to buckle up. The possibility of receiving a citation for not wearing a seatbelt has proven in other states to be the most effective method to encourage more persons to comply with the state’s seatbelt law.
Representative Bies worked in the Door County Sheriffs Department prior to winning his legislative seat and he highlights legitimate concerns from both statistics and personal experience. The following numbers are probably true.
Upgrading to standard enforcement has resulted in an average 17 percentage point increase in seat belt use in states that have gone from secondary to standard enforcement. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that a 15 percentage point increase in seatbelt use spurred by a standard enforcement law in Wisconsin could be expected to save as many as 80 lives, prevent up to 2,086 injuries and save as much as $230 million in medical costs and lost time annually.
My concern as a citizen is that seat belts become a government issue only after an existing law such as speeding, operating while intoxicated or plain old reckless driving is violated. I believe behavior changes when government punishes people, but I don’t believe there is justice in anticipatory or preemptive repression of this politically defined risky private behavior. I am not ready for this level of a police state.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Healthcare Financing Update

There must be an instinctive reflex at The Capital Times forcing them to put a negative spin on everything. How else do you explain their headline and then the first line of the story?
Insurance costs show little sign of slowing: WASHINGTON - The growth rate of health insurance premiums failed to reach double digits this year, the first time that's happened since 2000.
Madison based In Business Magazine covers the story slightly differently.
Dane County Area Business Report: The drive to greater consumerism in healthcare is yielding bottom-line results, according to a new annual study by the Madison-based insurance solutions firm Mortenson, Matzelle, and Meldrum. M3 compiled information from 500 health plans offered by its clients and found that health insurance premium rate increases fell below double digits nationwide and in Wisconsin in 2005 for the first time in five years.
Healthcare FINANCING is still a huge mess in America and it will continue to be a damper on the economy as long as the burden falls on private business as this quote from the Capital Times story illustrates.
The survey shows that medium and larger firms haven't dropped health coverage for employees. Indeed, they're paying more than ever to provide that benefit. Premiums for a family of four now average $10,880 - or about the same amount as the yearly earnings for a minimum wage worker.
Removing this burden on employers will mean either shifting costs back to individual consumers or shifting costs back to taxpayers, which is of course the same thing. I believe consumerism is the correct direction if for no other reason than competition always increases value by forcing inefficiencies out of the provider side.

What will absolutely not help is forcing additional costs on employers with compassionate idealistic proposals such as Progressive Dane’s activist support of Mandatory Sick Day Pay for all employees. Again from In Business Magazine:
If the smoking ban weren’t enough, a group called the Healthy Families, Healthy City Campaign would like to place another burden on the Madison business community – mandatory sick leave. … Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold support a bill that would establish a national minimum of seven days of paid sick leave per year.
Details on the local Sick Leave Plan are outlined in an earlier post here. If Progressive Dane gets Mandatory Sick Leave passed, it would not surprise me if Madison small businesses convert their employees to 1099 status. Paying your own Health Insurance and your own Social Security Taxes would certainly be an educational lesson for the college crowd.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Britain Begins Work to Eliminate All Men

Our allies the Brits announce: Embryo with two mothers approved this week by Her Majesty the Queen’s government, or more precisely the bureaucracy established as the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. Hey, the BBC started this headline hyperbole race so I am merely upping the emotional ante.
UK scientists have won permission to create a human embryo that will have genetic material from two mothers.
Well technically yes. The work involves taking the nucleus of a normal male – female fertilized cell and replacing the surrounding cellular fluid with that from another female to avoid the mitochondrial DNA from the initial egg. Lead researcher Doug Turnbull puts the matter more concisely saying he is not altering the human DNA. "We are simply changing the energy source."
Professor Azim Surani, professor of physiology and reproduction at Cambridge University, said: "I see few ethical problems as we are dealing with the embryo at a very early stage where the cells haven't even started to divide yet."
I am not going to quibble about whether a single cell is an embryo or an egg, but the take away point is that the technology for designer humans exists. The question is how fast it becomes perfected. How long did it take from Wilbur and Orville on the sand dunes to Armstrong and Aldrin on the lunar dust? Bonus question: Under a system of taxpayer funded Universal Healthcare, who pays the medical bill for designer Barbie?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Moving Towards the Little Loop Future

The City of Madison unveils the best entertainment value in South Central Wisconsin with the New 2-4-$6 FARE. In tight budget times it only makes sense for the public sector to compete with private business for the consumer discretionary dollar.
On Saturdays, Sundays & holidays, up to two adults and four kids (age 17 and under) may ride the bus all day long for $6.

* Tell your driver you'd like to purchase a 2-4-$6 Pass * Then deposit $6 into the fare box - insert bills one at a time. * The fare box Card Reader will issue a 2-4-$6 Pass. Slide the pass in the Pass Reader each time you board that day with the pass.
For about an hour’s worth of minimum wage, or an evening’s worth of Madison bartender tips, a family of six can tour around the State Capital, the 'Wonders of the World Exhibits' at East Towne and West Towne Malls, plus the University of Wisconsin and surrounding moonbat preservation areas. The tour will take you past scenic water vistas along Lakes Mendota and Monona, and will actually approach a couple of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and one big one INSPIRED by the master of the flat top water trapping structure.

Compare this value to the anything on the Wisconsin Dells Price List. Taking the same family on an Upper Dells Duck ride costs about $75.00 if all the kids are under age twelve. Keep in mind that a Duck journey does not last all day like a Madison bus ride.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is absolutely confident that municipal people movers are the wave of the future so today the official Request for Proposals for the Madison Streetcar Preliminary Feasibility Study begins. A 23 page PDF file has Instructions for Bidders if your New Urbanist enterprise wants to tap into the community piggy bank.
Electric streetcars can act as a circulator among downtown destinations for both visitors and residents. Streetcars have the ability to move students and employees around the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, and also provide commuter options between homes and jobs within the City. … At this time, the City of Madison has committed approximately $300,000 toward the completion of this streetcar planning project.
The two essential features your proposal must include is an affirmation that a massive alternative infrastructure project will be financially viable in a city of 200,000 and a second affirmation that Mayor Dave is visionary for leading the city towards a future of expensive little circular loops. Any proposals without these criteria have zero chance of acceptance.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fighting an Ideological Epidemic

It is going to be a long frustrating season based on today’s Green Bay Packers loss to the Lions. I am going to try and look on the bright side by recalling the Packers have always had problems winning in Detroit. Besides the defense was better than absolutely horrible and could emerge as an average NFL unit if the penalties get eliminated. I’ll even give Brett Favre a pass considering the circumstances he has endured the last two weeks.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 Jihadist attacks on our country and I will forever remember how Brett Favre and the Packers took the field and won the first NFL game played after those evil assaults. That Packers victory over Washington was one of my personal indicators that American society would survive, and life would continue to progress back to normality. Not the normality of the 20th century, but at least one where games could be played and enjoyed while understanding and responding to the problem was being started.

It is sometimes forgotten with the passage of time, but during those first several days this country faced a real debate over what exactly was the problem to be addressed. In reading through various posts, I came across a Policy Review Online article from August 2002 that I believe correctly describes the evil we are still attempting to eliminate. Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology is a long article that deserves a slow and careful reading. As the author points out in the opening paragraph, correctly understanding the threat is necessary in order to effectively eliminate the treat.

The terror attack of 9-11 was not designed to make us alter our policy, but was crafted for its effect on the terrorists themselves: It was a spectacular piece of theater. The targets were chosen by al Qaeda not through military calculation — in contrast, for example, to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — but entirely because they stood as symbols of American power universally recognized by the Arab street. They were gigantic props in a grandiose spectacle in which the collective fantasy of radical Islam was brought vividly to life: A mere handful of Muslims, men whose will was absolutely pure, as proven by their martyrdom, brought down the haughty towers erected by the Great Satan. What better proof could there possibly be that God was on the side of radical Islam and that the end of the reign of the Great Satan was at hand?

It is essential to understand the practitioners of radical Islam believe all events are the desire of Allah, and western concepts of cause and effect are truly meaningless to al Qaeda jihadists. If this were a traditional political assault on the west, then the 9/11 attacks would have been followed by smaller and more frequent subsequent attacks, much like the ongoing political Palestinian struggle against Israel.

But in the fantasy ideology of radical Islam, suicide is not a means to an end but an end in itself. Seen through the distorting prism of radical Islam, the act of suicide is transformed into that of martyrdom — martyrdom in all its transcendent glory and accompanied by the panoply of magical powers that religious tradition has always assigned to martyrdom.

A campaign of smaller-scale acts of terror would have no glamour in it, and it was glamour — and grandiosity — that al Qaeda was seeking in its targets. The pure Islamic David required a Goliath. After all, if David had merely killed someone his own size, where would be the evidence of God’s favor toward him?

The danger of al Qaeda is precisely the fantasy ideology that Allah may decide to abolish infidel civilization if true believers show enough devotion through the martyrdom destruction of infidels. In the Jihadist mind, the existence of all things is the will of Allah, so being out numbered is no real problem if you exist in divine favor. No one should doubt that these religious fanatics will use whatever means of mass murder they can obtain if they believe their actions serve the will of the almighty.

There is one decisive advantage to the “evildoer” metaphor, and it is this: Combat with evildoers is not Clausewitzian war. You do not make treaties with evildoers or try to adjust your conduct to make them like you. You do not try to see the world from the evildoers’ point of view. You do not try to appease them, or persuade them, or reason with them. You try, on the contrary, to outwit them, to vanquish them, to kill them. You behave with them in the same manner that you would deal with a fatal epidemic — you try to wipe it out.

What the Bush Administration understands, both then and now, is that America is confronting an ideological epidemic, and the only way combat an evil ideology is to eliminate the practitioners and demonstrate to the rest of the world that Allah does not come to their aid. Jihad must fail so that the attraction of Jihad diminishes, or the concept of killing for divine glory will create a true hell on earth.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just Another Beautiful Day in Wisconsin

It is a pretty good Saturday to be a Wisconsin sports fan. Matt Kenseth from Cambridge Wisconsin finishes 2nd at Richmond, securing a Top 10 points position and the right to race for the NASCAR 2005 Nextel Cup Championship. I think that trophy would look real good next to the 2003 NASCR Winston Cup Championship trophy.

Wisconsin won their 2nd football game 65-0, but I don’t believe there is too much honor in humiliating a weak opponent. Ohio State and Michigan both lost their football games. To bad, so sad, time for the Big 10’s Big 2 to buy better players.

It was a gorgeous late summer day and an large number of people, perhaps those without tickets for Camp Randall, gathered instead in Baraboo for this years Fighting Bob Fest. Uncle Jimbo writes his analysis of the ‘progressive’ event in his Fighting Bob Fest Post-Game.
Fighting Bob was well feted by those carrying on his legacy, as 5,000 or so gathered in Baraboo to discuss ways to change the current political and governmental systems.

The overwhelming consensus was that the current ones favor corporate interests to such an extent that citizens are not really represented by their government, they are it's forced customers.

The one thing missing from all their reform ideas for a corrupt and fraudulent voting system was anything requiring photo ID to vote, the most effective way to minimize what fraud there is. The reason usually given is that it would disproportionately affect minorities, which to me is a racist sentiment. I don't see any way to read that besides, blacks are too dumb to go get an ID.
Uncle Jimbo seems a bit surprised that the overall tone of the meeting was positive, however, the substance was still more about problems then solutions. Perhaps being outside in the healthy thriving Wisconsin environment is a temporary cure for bitterness.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Night Cheesehead Update

Every time the door opens, the crowd looks to see who is coming in or going out. That’s the way it is on Friday nights in Wisconsin. On the TV Matt Kenseth finishes third in the Busch Race at Richmond and NASCAR ranks him #1 before the decisive Cup Race tomorrow.
We got a lot of emails last week saying we’re crazy at having Kenseth No. 1. It jammed our email box. If it keeps up, we’ll have throw in a disclaimer that Kenseth is the No. 1 driver under 200 pounds.
On the other TV the Milwaukee beats Roger Clemens in their attempt to finish above .500 for the first time since … Yount, Molitor and Gantner?
Roger Clemens lasted just three innings in his shortest start in more than a year, and the Milwaukee Brewers spoiled Jeff Bagwell's return from the disabled list with a 7-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Another beer please and yes, Randy Moss still can’t make your team a winner.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ungrateful Bitch

This evening the local news ran a story about a family arriving back to Madison after living the last 10 years in New Orleans. The mother didn’t miss the opportunity to blame the Federal Government for her problems. I suppose she will fit right into the majority Madison mindset, but really, what an ungrateful bitch for everything being done to salvage and restart their lives after her family’s decision to live below sea level in a hurricane zone. I have no sympathy for any survivors who are not grateful for the nations help after the storm struck.

Remember how bad this was: Katrina: A Photographic Timeline: (Warning: very big file – lots of photographs)
The near total evacuation of the major American port city of New Orleans, Louisiana was accomplished between Tuesday afternoon, August 30 and Friday afternoon, September 2, 2005. This evacuation occurred while other search, rescue, relief and evacuation operations were simultaneously being conducted throughout the Gulf Coast between approximately Lafayette, Louisiana, on the west and the Florida panhandle on the east -– an area of about 90,000 sq. miles, or the size of the entire nation of Great Britain.

I'd say this amazing achievement is the opposite of slow. I'd say that it's a stunning accomplishment and one that demonstrates superb organization, remarkable logistics flow, and the greatness of the American spirit.
The skills being used to rescue people have been developed in large part by the United States Armed Forces in their continuing goal of using force only against evil individuals while protecting themselves and the lives of innocent civilians.
Dr. Sanity: Even in peacetime. The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.
American military power is approaching the point where deadly force can be used with speed, precision and distance. This is the reality of the modern world and is why I want the power controlled by leaders who value principles like individual liberty, rather than group goals to be achieved by majority imposition.
Balad of the Hellfire: The act of attacking U.S. forces becomes increasingly difficult as the U.S. military leverages its technical abilities. … Within one minute, the firing location of the mortar tube is determined. Somewhere between two to four minutes, a Predator is on site, and begins shooting video. Within ten minutes the terrorist safe house is identified and attacked. All of this was done without a soldier having to get out of his seat or the need for legal approval.

It is quite possible the delay in detection of the insurgents to the firing the Hellfire missile was intentional. The operator of the Predator was no doubt interested in where the mortar team fled to, and hoped to maximize enemy casualties. Had the operator decided to attack upon immediate detection, the turnaround time from the firing of the mortar to the launch of the Hellfire would have been four minutes, plus or minus seconds.
I suppose the right to blame and complain is the price we tolerate for our freedom, but I do wish the whiners would be cut out in the editing rather than featured as the hook.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A New Battle Front in the Courts

The Democrats launched a legal assault against the US Federal Government by filing suit against the US Department of Energy in the United States District Court: Southern District of New York. The Wisconsin Department of Justice press release outlines the outrage.
Wisconsin Joins Suit Against the Federal Government: MADISON - Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced today a coalition of 14 states and the City of New York have sued the federal Department of Energy for failing to adopt stronger energy-saving standards mandated by Congress for twenty-two common appliances that use large amounts of electricity, natural gas and oil.
Reading the actual complaint it is clear the Democratic Party believes they can use the vehicle of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Subchapter III, 42 U.S.C. 6291-6317, to gain their political agenda through the courts.
Filed Complaint - pdf: 3. DOE’s continuing failure to meet Congress’ explicit deadlines for establishing stronger energy efficiency standards has grave impacts for consumers, the environment and energy reliability. DOE’s foot-dragging results in greater – and avoidable – energy use, causing (i) more air and water pollution and increased global warming emissions, (ii) higher electricity and natural gas bills for States and individual and business consumers, (iii) burdens on the nation’s electricity grid, contributing to the potential for blackouts and brownouts, and (iv) threats to national security.
What began as legislation to improve energy efficiencies of common consumer purchases is being morphed into a major threat to the global environment, the financial structure of the planet and the infrastructure of the United States, all of which combine to threaten the very security of the nation. If you take this complaint wording seriously, ecosystems are in danger of collapse and global economic depression threatens to destroy the America we love, all because Bussssssshhhh won’t force home dishwashers to meet an arbitrary efficiency standard, by a certain date, as determined by a committee of politicians.

Make no mistake about the intentions of this lawsuit. The Democratic Party wants total administrative control of as much of the land and wealth of this country as they can obtain, and legal precedent that subverts private ownership of both land and industrial production to the greater good, as defined by the Federal Government, is their best hope for power. Look how they take legislation aimed at improving things like light fixture lumens per amp and extrapolate to worldwide climate change for the worse.
33. Electricity generation and natural gas use in the United States cause a wide range of adverse environmental impacts, including air pollution emissions that threaten public health, contribute to worldwide climate change, and cause acid rain. The impacts of electricity generation also include water pollution, including toxic mercury pollution that harms fish and disrupts aquatic ecosystems. The extraction, production and transport of natural gas, and of fuels for electricity generation, also have major adverse environmental effects. Huge amounts of electricity and natural gas are wasted through inefficient usage, which, in turn, causes unnecessary electrical generation and natural gas use, and the pollution caused by that generation and use.
The Democratic Party does not believe the marketplace is capable of routine self-regulation. The Democratic Party does not believe consumer choice is sufficient to curb excesses in the marketplace when they occur. The Democratic Party is either trapped in a vision of the industrial yet pristine America of the 19th Century, or they are cynically utilizing romanced versions of the past simply to gain power.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Perfecting Frankenstein's Monster

This evening I wandered into a section of the internet filled with the writings of academic liberals. This stuff is almost intentionally unreadable, as if written by a secret priesthood using a mixture of English and private code to ward off inquisitive outsiders. Writing to obscure clarity is a curious phenomenon for Professors being paid to be knowledgeable, but it seems to be a common defense against taxpayers asking to examine the results of our expenditures.

I was trying to uncover a concise explanation of the concept of Associative Democracy some sociologists are trying to develop into a political theory. My cursory glance over the material indicates Associative Democracy is the idea that organizations of people with shared concerns should have an equal place in government along side the elected officials of Representative Democracy. In other words, the AFL-CIO should have an official role in government policy, and the Sierra Club should have a vote on all environmental legislation. Of course, Church and State still need to be separated.

The search wasn’t coming up with anything interesting until I found this one paragraph, written as criticism, which seemed to capture the whole problem of the academic left.
Source: Cohen and Rogers proceed as if fundamental principles do not matter. They denounce the status quo and condemn both parties for their failure to see the situation we are really in. But do they propose a principled direction in American politics -- one the results of which they would accept because they accept the principles? I do not think so.
These socialist scholars are desperately trying to find a way to organize social structures to achieve a desired outcome. They think equality and justice will come if they can just put the building blocks in the correct order. It is the desired outcome that is important and not foundational principles like individual liberty, including the right to be wrong. The socialist approach is like trying to assemble Frankenstein’s monster from bits and pieces of the dead. The socialists have given us a series of monsters from Hitler to Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot and they are back in the lab still trying to perfect a construction.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Finding Money for the Cause

Brad writing at Letters In Bottles reports an offshoot of the Cindy Sheehan Bus Tour stopped in Madison last evening and nothing much happened. They managed to attract maybe 2,000 true believers by camping for the night in the heart of the most Democratic area of Madison. The Wisconsin State Journal Article calls it “a near-capacity crowd”.

Milwaukee based Peace Action Wisconsin, another anti-(fill in the blank) organization reports they are soldiering on despite difficult financial times. If I’m reading the website correctly, the money problem became severe after the Presidential election. I think that makes their problems Bush’s fault.
The last twelve months, especially since the frustration of the presidential election and a slump in the economy, have resulted in unexpectedly low donations and membership renewals. Grant opportunities have also declined, with less foundation money to distribute due to lower interest rates. Therefore, we are launching our first major Fundraising Campaign to maintain our work for peace and justice.
True to the teachings from all those activist workshops, they are putting a positive spin on the fact they have reached 37% or $33,537 of their fund raising goal. They kindly provide a listing of the people who kicked in $100 or more. The contrast to the huge outpouring of dollars for Hurricane Katrina relief is striking. I doubt the anti-war activists understand that Iraq was every bit as broken a society as the Gulf Coast. The difference being that the American disaster was like an acute accident, whereas Iraq was like a chronic disease long ignored.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hollywood Suffers - To Bad So Sad

Life goes on in the rest of the world as the crisis in the south slowly transitions into the long recovery. After watching true and ongoing suffering I have no sympathy for the discomfort of the Hollywood fantasy industry. If fact, I hope reality takes a bite out of the smug superiority of the entertainment elite.
Hollywood Suffers: Summer 2005 was the worst since 1997 for movie attendance, which dropped sharply and rattled the complacency of studios.

With so many other entertainment choices - video games, limitless TV programming, home-theater setups - audiences may be edging away from moviehouses. In an Associated Press-AOL News poll in June, nearly three-fourths of adults said they would prefer to stay home and watch movies on DVD, videotape or pay-per-view rather than traipse to a theater. Almost half said they think movies are getting worse.
Count me in the half of adults thinking movies are getting worse. My opinion is definitely influenced by the ongoing parade of entertainers sincerely believing the ability to repeat dialog and emote on demand confers wisdom. I wonder if the working of the market place will make any light bulbs come on in celebrity heads. Bad writing, cliché humor, flashy bright bursts, and profiteering on concessions no longer attract my consumer dollar. If that was not enough, it doesn’t lure my discretionary spending when performers make clear they despise my values.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Oil and Water

Reality has a way of bringing some issues into focus and Hurricane Katrina forces energy policy front and center in the political debate. Joe Martin at Theocrats posts some well reasoned thoughts on why Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is wrong to pursue gasoline price controls. He argues that normal market activity will stabilize this abrupt disturbance of supply more efficiently than political attempts to be smarter than collective demand.
Why is Gas Expensive? Unfortunately, Lautenschlager’s grasp of economics seems to be more tenuous than her grasp of ethics. All of this talk reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of supply and demand. As I discussed yesterday, the current demand for gasoline outstrips the supply by approximately 5 million barrels per day. Gasoline usage must be rationed if stations are to avoid running dry during the middle of the day. High prices are the best possible means of rationing fuel. It’s not a perfect system, but it is the best one available.
In the longer term, there are real differences between how Republicans and Democrats approach the future energy needs of this country. Republicans control the oil industry which became dominant because oil it is the most efficient form of stored energy available. The market place made the oil industry wealthy, not government policy.

In their political calculations, many core Democratic leaders believe they need to side with alternative energy sources. UW Madison Professor Joel Rogers and the COWS helped create the Apollo Alliance which is the Democratic Party Plan for Energy Policy.
Beyond Petroleum: While it is difficult to see beyond the incalculable suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina, the impact on U.S. fuel supply is undeniable. … What is absolutely clear, however, is that too much reliance on a single energy source is a dangerous thing. As Katrina illustrated, supply interruptions are beyond our control, and without alternative options, there is no safety net to suppress price movements.

The 10 Point Plan: 9. Plan For A Hydrogen Future: Invest in long term research & development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and deploy the infrastructure to support hydrogen powered cars and distributed electricity generation using stationary fuel cells, to create jobs in the industries of the future.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and six other Democratic Governors support the Apollo Alliance. The organization also has considerable backing from numerous union and environmental groups, notably the United Steel Workers and the Sierra Club. The Democrats are offering a vision of the future where hydrogen, derived from water, powers America. There are many other areas where American life needs to change to make this vision viable, but the Democrats are very willing handle the required planning and necessary administration.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Lola to NOLA

Lola and I have attended about eight Marsha Ball shows, and Marsha often plays a Randy Newman song called Louisiana 1927 * This evening Fox News plays the song during the coverage of the Gulf Coast tragedy and Lola asks me to post the lyrics. The link goes to a sample MP3 file and the lyrics are as follows.

What has happened down here
is the wind has changed
Clouds rolled in from the north
and it started to rain
It rained real heard and it rained
for a real long time
There was six feet of water
in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day,
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood,
some people got away all right
Well, the river broke through
down in Plaquemine
There was six feet of water
in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away
They’re trying to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away
They’re trying to wash us away

President Coolidge come down
in a railroad train
With a little man with a notepad
in his hand
President said, “Little man,
ain’t it a shame
What the river has done to this
poor cracker’s land.”

The river rose all day,
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood,
some people got away all right
Well, the river broke through
down in Plaquemine
There was six feet of water
in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away
They’re trying to wash us away

*copyright Randy Newman, Warner-Tamerlane Pub. Corp. BMI

All day long the debate about the future of New Orleans has been kicked around. There is a great deal of talk about what the government should or should not do for the city, but I believe the citizens of New Orleans will ultimately determine the future of the Crescent City. Sooner or later, property tax bills will be sent out and the land owners will decide to pay for the right to claim the land, or they will walk away.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Just a Guess in a Party Dress

Sometime last Friday the US Army Corp of Engineers updated their website with standard bureaucratic press release material.
Corps Prepares for Hurricane Katrina: In anticipation of Hurricane Katrina making landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast near New Orleans, the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, began preparations Friday to support hurricane response operations.

And while still not knowing the exact path Katrina will settle on, MVD planners are not standing by and guessing what assets will be needed. The Corps has teams that are trained and ready to move into impacted areas with necessary support like ice, water, temporary power, housing and roofing, and debris removal.

"Right now, we are tracking the path of Katrina," said David Sills, Chief of the MVD Emergency Operations Center. … Last year MVD personnel responded to four major hurricanes, so we've got a good idea how tough this mission will be if Katrina hits the Mississippi or Louisiana Gulf Coast."

Anticipating potential requirements to pump water out of New Orleans, the Corps has begun discussions with partners to preposition assets to conduct un-watering operations should Katrina strike the southern Louisiana and New Orleans area.
Bureaucrats love planning because bureaucrats love predictable order. My newest favorite quote comes from Michael Yon’s post last week named Gates of Fire: “But once the shooting starts, a plan is just a guess in a party dress.” Preparation for possible consequences is desirable but it is not a substitute for leadership that reacts to the reality of the situation, no matter what the organizational chart and deployment sequence dictates.

That said, I have no empathy with those voices that are entirely criticism of the response to this massive influx of chaos into our civilization. Help constructively or shut up. If you found this post you can find the many ways to contribute to the relief effort.