Thursday, June 30, 2005

Global Warming: Put Up or Shut Up

The best news I have heard recently is that the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce is starting to question the questionable science behind the global warming movement. It is an incredibly beautiful and warm Wisconsin summer evening so I am not spending it reviewing the fraudulent claims of the global warming hysterics. Anyone who cares can search this blog for past posts but let me state my feelings as concisely as I can. Carbon dioxide and water are the two essential building blocks of life on earth and a foundation law of physics is that heat dissipates in open systems like a planet in orbiting in the cold of space. It is time the politicians demand that scientists attest to the validity of their publications and I believe the frauds will be exposed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

WTDY Host "Sly" Praises Hugo Chavez

Madison’s long time “shock jock” Sly Sylvester on WTDY 1670 AM knows you create audience with controversy. It was only a couple months ago he called Condoleezza Rice an Aunt Jemima, which even the NAACP conceded was inappropriate. Because Sly is an individual working hard to maintain himself as a local celebrity it is hard to tell if he really believes that Venezuela under Chavez is better than American under Bush.
“And while I am not suggesting that the United States is becoming a third world country, it is interesting to note that Venezuela's government and the United States' government are moving their respective countries in two different directions. Heading in the wrong direction, unfortunately, is the United States.”
Sly knows there is an audience in Madison that eats up everything anyone can say bad about the Bush administration, but all these twenty something activist liberals should take a long hard look at Hugo Chavez, and what his administration is doing to South America’s oldest democracy. For a detailed profile of a socialist it is hard to beat the talent analysts at The Nation.
Hugo Chavez and Petro Populism: “Lately Chávez has been talking about a "revolution within the revolution," about "transcending capitalism" and about "building a socialism for the twenty-first century." It is a discourse that frightens his enemies, electrifies his base and inspires the left throughout Latin America.” … Just as the urban poor and campesinos love Chávez because of his swarthy, indigenous looks, tight curly hair and his rough, down-to-earth talk, so too are the wealthier classes driven apoplectic with rage by the fact that their president looks likes a construction worker or cab driver.”

"They lost because Chávez has a deep emotional connection with the people, and they have no connection with the people. Also, he has spent a lot of money on the barrios. He pours money into the barrios." In 2004 government spending jumped 47 percent, much of which went to pay for healthcare and education--the missions. But despite the oil windfall, the government has had to borrow heavily. Instead of turning to international financiers, it has increased its internal debt to Venezuelan banks.”

“Garcia says that in the past four years this internal debt has gone from $2 billion to more than $27 billion. The Finance Ministry confirms these figures and says that 60 percent of this debt is held in government bonds. "But what makes this really crazy," says Garcia, "is that the government is depositing all its oil revenue in the same banks at about 5 percent, then borrowing it back at 14 percent. It's a very easy way for bankers to make money. That's why I say this is a government for the rich."
To sum up, Chavez is a dictator in the making who is using whatever means necessary to achieve power. He is using the money from Venezuela’s oil industry to buy the votes of the poor while demonstrating financial discipline similar to the restraint of an alcoholic locked in a liquor warehouse. The financial ineptitude is so obvious not even an admiring writer for The Nation can ignore the reality of a country heedlessly on its way to bankruptcy.

When a thief runs out of available money the next step is to grab weapons and start stealing directly, or start selling some of them for big profit to other criminals. Chavez has already handed over Venezuela’s judicial and security forces to Cuba’s Fidel Castro whom he openly admires and emulates. There is also extensive evidence that Chavez has close working relationships with Columbia’s socialist guerilla force “FARC” and other international groups with anti-American intentions.
Pentagon Chief Escalates Threats Against Venezuela: “Echoing US rhetoric from the Cold War, Rumsfeld described Venezuela’s agreement to buy military hardware from Russia as a threat to the hemisphere. “Certainly I’m concerned,” he said, referring to the arms deal, which involves the purchase of 100,000 AK-47 rifles as well as 10 military helicopters from Moscow.”

Overview PDF (11 Pages): An overview on the dynamics of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, terrorism and its international supporters.
Hugo Chavez is rapidly becoming the most dangerous threat to America in this hemisphere but this will not be picture the Madison media paints for their target audience. The kids think Chavez is out saving the rain forest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Little Walking Perspective

It is an excellent evening for walking so I stroll through the park, pausing to watch the multiple softball games and listen to the pings off the metal bats. As twilight sets in I set off down a favorite path through a prairie restoration with all the plants in summer bloom. All evening the cool clouds would drop occasional sprinkles but right before sundown a gap opened on the western horizon, glowing orange between the dark ground and the darkening sky. I have always enjoyed a little active meditation to clear the mind and a bit of time to put the electronic humming of the information age into some larger perspective.

It would be clever justice if Weare, New Hampshire does condemn Judge Souter's house to build the Lost Liberty Hotel. I hope the developer’s plans include walking paths for the guests through the gardens. It took five Supreme Court votes to remove the restraints on eminent domain but it will only take three votes to demonstrate the consequences of the greater good being imposed top down.

Monday, June 27, 2005

I Should Just Watch Cartoons

I have two quick observations on a hot summer night. First, blogging is not inherently conducive to optimal physical activity. Second, reading law professors debating religion is not conducive to an inner sense of harmony and well being. The day of the Supreme Court issued the Kelo ruling affirming there are no principled restrictions to the use of eminent domain seizure, and therefore, no principled protections for individual private property; I called for the resignation in total of the current bench. After a couple days of thought I’m still convinced that replacing the entire Supreme Court has some merit, and now think that anyone with a law degree should be barred from the sitting on the Court.

Today the Supreme Court came down with two opinions about the relationship between Church and State. In effect they say governments can display the Ten Commandments outside of a government building but not inside a Court Room. All afternoon long a swarm of lawyers descended on the pro and con opinions, dissecting out little chains of precedent and quibbling about the relative equivalence of variations in the meanings of words and phrases.

I wish the court would have simply said that church means an organization of clergy and religious officials, and in America there is no organized government church. Separation of Church and State means no State Church and nothing more. Religion means a set of beliefs about life and death, and therefore, the word church and the word religion are not equivalent and are not interchangeable. If lawyers will not commit to the definition of words then perhaps it is time to remove the lawyers from judgeships. Let the lawyers make their case to people of common sense and principle.

In America there are plenty of organizations free to believe any set peaceful religious beliefs their member’s desire. Individuals are free to join any religious organization they want or not to join any organization at all. Peaceful beliefs mean that human sacrifice is not tolerated, period. I think the Supreme Court is trying figure out a way to say that in a society with religious freedom it is permissible to be identified with your choice, but there are formal government proceedings where the external trappings of belief should be set aside. Nine adults should be able to come up with simple clear statements but first they need to stop thinking like lawyers and start thinking like citizens.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bush Administration To Attack Comet

From the Wisconsin State Journal comes news there will be a July 4th Comet Attack by the Federal Government. A NASA mission named Deep Impact will send a probe on a suicide journey into comet Tempel 1 currently falling through space at 23,000 miles an hour. The massive explosion expected to follow the impact should expose the theorized icy core of the comet. On our nation’s birthday for only $333 million dollars, scientists should be able to view pristine primordial space ice for the first time.

No cost estimate is given for restoring the comet’s natural environment back to it’s undisturbed natural beauty, nor was a Sierra Club spokesperson quoted in the article. NASA is guaranteeing that the unprovoked attack of a neighboring space object will not cause it to slam into earth in a retaliatory suicide attack. Government authorities are saying comet Temple I is being targeted because it keeps drifting close to Earth every six or seven years. Finally, NASA firmly denies that Hollywood interests were controlling the government in 1998 when the mission was conceived.
“The Deep Impact spacecraft shares the same name as a 1998 Hollywood disaster movie about a comet headed straight for Earth. NASA says that the names for the space mission and blockbuster movie were arrived at independently around the same time and by pure coincidence.”
I hope NASA can back up their guarantee because there is speculation that violence far away in outer space potentially reaches the Earth. See: Prior Post: Connections.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Smoke Wars: Prohibition or Regulation

In Madison, as in many cities nationwide, there is an ongoing campaign to abolish tobacco use. On a Prior Post: The Smoke Wars there is a link to a detailed history of the anti-smoking movement in Wisconsin. Thursday evening the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill requiring local governments to allow smoking in restaurants, taverns and other workplaces. The anti-smoking groups reacted in quick and predictable fashion and in fairness these are links: Smoke Free Wisconsin Response and American Cancer Society Response.

I support what the Assembly is doing not out of love for tobacco or for smoking in public, but rather because it touches on many of the issues important to the ongoing evolution of the society we design for ourselves. The health effects of direct smoking and the second hand smoke studies used by the anti-smoking movement have been covered extensively elsewhere, so I would like to point out a constitutional concern based on our First Amendment right to peaceful free assembly.

Municipal governments have re-defined smoking as a health matter which they then claim a right to regulate as a work place safety issue. An important aspect of smoking as a health concern is that it is not an imminent health threat like a viral or bacterial epidemic. On one hand, directly inhaling smoke from multiple packs of cigarettes, consistently over thousands of days, correlates with increased rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, there is no evidence of immediate or short term life threatening consequences from tobacco smoke. Heavy smokers pretty much start dying off in their 50’s after years of the habit. This is a sad but tolerable fact within a free society allowing individuals to make both good and bad personal choices.

The First Amendment to the Constitution insures American citizens have the right to peaceful free assembly and no municipal government has authority to abolish this Federal right. None of the existing municipal ordinances claim smoking is violent or associated with violent activity. Smoking is a peaceful activity. None of the existing municipal ordinances claim smoking causes proximal life threatening consequences like cocaine and the opiates. The point the State Assembly is correctly making is that municipal government has the power to regulate where and when smokers can assemble, but absolute prohibition of a peaceful assembly exceeds the authority of local government. Personally, I have no problem with the concept of limited government power.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cross Plains, Wisconsin

One thing I love about history is that true existence existed down to the level of the smallest detail. Viewed from a distant perspective our history is the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, a devastating Civil War, World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam, and then Iraq. In tighter focus our ancestry it is millions of stories like the following.
“As the United States developed westward, towns and villages built alongside roads and railway lines. The town of Cross Plains was settled along two major military roads that crossed each other on a beautiful, fertile prairie. Within 20 years of the first town meeting in 1847, two more villages were established nearby, Christina and Foxville.

People were attracted to the area by the good farm land, abundant wildlife and business potential. The Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul railroad line went through the northern part of town and the Madison-Mineral Point stage road crossed through the southern part. These available shipping routes were important to the growth of all three villages.

The first store in the area was opened around 1850 in Cross Plains by the Baer brothers. By 1880 there were hotels, a lumberyard, blacksmiths, a shoe store, churches, schools, harness shops, a post office, saloons and other businesses throughout the three communities. A grist mill was built in 1857 and the area's first bushel of wheat was shipped out from the railway depot in Foxville. Saeman Lumber and Henry M. Zander's Creamery and General Store provided local farmers with the means to trade for items they could not produce on the farm. Butter was traded at the general store and grain and livestock were traded for building materials. The farm products were then shipped off to Milwaukee and other cities on railroad cars.”
The Fifth Amendment was ratified in 1791 and by 1847 Europeans were moving to live first along the military roads and then beside the railroads which followed shortly thereafter. The settlers were attracted to the location by good land with wildlife and the opportunity to make an honest living. By 2005 the town was less than 3,000 residents, mostly all United States citizens, and committed to their community through events such as the Cross Plains Worlds Fair from Friday, June 24, 2005 through Sunday, June 26. Perhaps because they live in a Democratic county within a corporate culture country they felt the need to write a mission statement which reads:
“The mission of the Cross Plains "World's Fair" is to organize and conduct a community event each year that will promote good will for the Cross Plains area and unite the citizens of the Village of Cross Plains and local service organizations in a cooperative non-profit venture, the net proceeds of which shall be used solely to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the Cross Plains, Wisconsin, community, by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”
On June 23, 2005 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that municipal government has the right to seize private homes owned by U.S. citizens if the majority elected government wants the property for economic development. Private owners in the minority have no choice but to either take the money offered or not. From 1847 to 2005 Cross Plains, Wisconsin grew from zero to 3,000 residents while Chicago, Illinois grew to over 3 million people, so Cross Plains has room for economic development.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Supreme Court Should Resign In Mass

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of municipal government in Kelo vs. City of New London. Bloggers across the political spectrum are commenting although I have yet to come upon any enthusiastic support of the winning side. This may be a good moment for everyone to actually read the Fifth Amendment and decide if this brief passage truly reflects what we believe about our society.
Amendment V - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The left is having problems with the reality this decision gives government new power to seize property of the poor for the direct benefit of corporations, and indirect benefit of the total population. The right understands correctly this decision expands the seizure power of government by setting the standard of individual property protection so low that it effectively ceases to be a barrier. When this case was accepted by the Supreme Court in February I wrote the following analysis.
"The troubling aspect of this case is that normally when private land is taken under the power of eminent domain, the ownership of the land transfers to the public as represented by the government. Applied fairly this seizure power provides things like public roads and city parks. In this instance, which is not unique, eminent domain is being used to transfer the ownership rights from one private party to another private party, with the hope that the new private owners will make the land available for public use.

At the heart of the dispute is what the “public use” phrase in the 5th Amendment means. Privately owned and open to the public, for example retail shops and restaurants, is a classic business model that can be considered public use of land. This is very different from publicly owned and used by the public such as a community swimming pool. It is meaningless to use the term “public use” without direct reference to the property being used.

In this case the city government believes the greater good of the community will be served by seizing private homes for the benefit of a private organization. If the amount of revenue a government can receive from a property is the determining factor in exercising the right of eminent domain, then the whole concept of private property is mute. If the government can legitimately transfer ownership rights between private parties based on the highest bidder, then there is no meaningful right of private ownership, only a right to fair compensation as determined by the government."
So now the Supreme Court has determined that it is constitutional for government to change the ownership of private property as long as they justify the seizure and transfer as having some form of public use. In other words, individual property owners have no legitimate defense against any type of seizure that a majority desires. This may be a good time to ask that the entire Supreme Court resign in total. They no longer reason with any demonstrable consistency of logic or conviction. It will be politically bloody but we should just pick a brand new Supreme Court, nine brand new judges and let them clean up this mess.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Mini TIF Tiff

It is late on a hot Wednesday night and lacking the ambition to do new thinking I am resorting to pulling up old posts like Building A Model City In Madison. Actually there is some justification since there is a bit of an update reported in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dean Mosiman continues some good reporting in the following article.
Madison Aldermen call for more TIF scrutiny: “Alds. Mike Verveer and Judy Olson, members of the leftist political party, are proposing a series of changes to the city's tax incremental financing (TIF) policy to ensure projects don't harm the city. … "If we are going to meaningfully shape TIF projects and get the biggest bang for the taxpayers' dollars, then we have to end the first-come, first-served rush by developers to get the city's limited TIF funds," Verveer said.”
It’s amusing to see the State Journal refer to Alders Verveer and Olson as belonging to the leftist political party, as if there were any representatives of limited government on the Madison City Council. I suppose the truth is that anytime a group of twenty people are assembled there will be a gradient of opinion on social issues, and it looks like some on the left end of the left side are not comfortable with Mayor Dave and the big developers being all buddy-buddy on building projects.

There is even some evidence around that Progressive Dane is not all that thrilled about trolley cars. It seems the Greens have enough common sense to understand that busses can go get the poor where they live, rather than hoping the poor will move themselves to live near fixed rail systems.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fair Warning: Socialized Health Threat

It is the first official day of Summer and while most Wisconsin residents are relaxing on a warm workday evening, there are activists working on a plan to impose a very bad health care plan on every single individual living in the State. The website is up and running with the details. Everyone in Wisconsin should take this movement very seriously.

Wisconsin Health Care For All: “Universal health-care coverage in Wisconsin: It's not just a dream. … After considerable legal, economic and political study, we have endorsed a "provide-or-pay" plan for Wisconsin. Non-insuring businesses are required to either provide coverage, or contribute to a fund that buys coverage for their employees.”

“The strategy: We invite you to join us in a two-year push to achieve health care for all in Wisconsin. We will work with members of the Madison City Council to create a model law for Madison. Then we will move on to other local governments around the state.”

Brochure Page One (PDF): “Our Goal: Health Insurance for every person in Wisconsin because Health Insurance = Health Care. … By law employers will either provide insurance for their employees or pay their local government to provide an affordable comprehensive plan. Everyone must have health insurance.”

Brochure Page Two (PDF): “It's cost effective. Everyone is covered. Sharing the cost of health care among the well and sick, young and old saves money. … Local governments in Wisconsin have the authority to pass "provide or pay" group plans. These plans will attract insurance companies. We will work with local governments to see that all Wisconsinites benefit from universal health care. We can do this job one local government at a time.”
Point 1: Health Insurance does not equal Health Care. This is a deliberate phrase being used to create a false impression with the public. An object or a service is not the same thing as the price paid for that object or service. Care means diagnosis and treatment. Insurance means someone else pays most of the cost of diagnosis and treatment.

Point 2: The only mandatory requirement for hiring individuals is paying for the work performed under State and Federal Guidelines. The goal of this movement is to create a second mandatory financial obligation on all employers regardless of size.

Point 3: U.S. Citizens are currently free to pay their own health care debts and only their own health care debts. The phrase “everyone must have health insurance” means this freedom is abolished. This design imposes a mandatory obligation on an individual to pay the medical bills of strangers.

Point 4: Health Insurance does not reduce the cost of health care. Health Insurance divides the total cost of health care among a pool of individuals, regardless of who created the expenses. The inflation in health care pricing is in large part due precisely to the fact that insurance has blunted competitive market forces.

Point 5: The dollar volume of expenses an individual incurs is significantly dependent on the choices that individual makes. Keep in mind how the City of Madison has already demonized smokers precisely because of potential health effects.

Point 6: This people behind this movement are intelligent and serious about achieving their goals. More importantly they are absolutely correct that Wisconsin municipal governments have the right to enact and enforce this type of socialist control over municipal residents and business operations. The courts will not override an ordinance of this design.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Hot Monday Night Doldrums

It feels like a summer Monday night. I keep exploring off in different directions looking for the compelling good idea for the day but can’t seem to settle into any single area. I wanted to find an online version of “Sustainable Times”, a pulp newsprint ad-rag I found on the east side over the weekend, but there is nothing in the digital realm. I was ready to dissect the article urging us to buy second hand clothes since the “U.S. ships tons of clothing overseas where it can disrupt local markets”. I wonder if she means the local overseas markets that make all the clothes worn in the U.S. in the first place.

The same paper has a long article about Socially Responsible Investing which begs the question can an anti-corporate socialist invest in the stock market and still be a socialist? The more I work through the thought process of the left, the more it seems they have real issues with the concepts of wealth and money. In general wealth is bad if it belongs to the wealthy and good if it belongs to non-profits or the government. It’s as if large sums of money cease to be wealth outside of a corporate structure. I do like this post over at Coyote Blog which concludes:

“And that is the heart of socialism's failure. For the true source of wealth is not brute labor, or even what you might call brute capital, but the mind. The mind creates new technologies, new products, new business models, new productivity enhancements, in short, everything that creates wealth. Labor or capital without a mind behind it is useless.”

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Driving Will Continue In The Future

The Socialist – Progressive movement in the United States is to a large degree dependent on convincing voters the American way of life is neither sustainable nor safe for the environment. I believe they are wrong on both counts. A foundation eco-socialist belief is that the world is running out of oil, and therefore, oil based economies, especially the United States, will contract dramatically or collapse entirely. The progressive leadership’s hatred of capitalist organizations appears to blind them to the reality that the laws of physics still apply, and human imagination allowed to explore the universe will create solutions that preserve political and economic freedom.

Kudos’ to UW Madison Professor James Dumesic and the Dumesic Research Group for doing true science with measurable and reproducible results, and unlimited potential for sustaining the quality of life our ancestors fought and worked to provide us. The following two articles cover the innovative research, and the key point to understand is that it is possible to economically produce liquid fuel, so there is no reason to fear fictional horror stories the left is selling.

New Green Diesel: “University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering researchers have discovered a new way to make a diesel-like liquid fuel from carbohydrates commonly found in plants. … The fuel produced contains 90 percent of the energy found in the carbohydrate and hydrogen feed. If you look at a carbohydrate source such as corn, our new process has the potential to create twice the energy as is created in using corn to make ethanol."

Process Increases Biodiesel Efficiency: “The researchers' method converts biomass into liquid alkanes within a self-sustained refinery. Alkanes are hydrocarbons. The simplest is methane. More complex alkanes are the main components of gasoline. … The conversion process has the potential to allow domestically-available biomass to become part of the solution to the United States' current dependence on fossil fuels, according to Dumesic.”

Computer generated projections are not science. Cherry picking and analyzing only favorable data is not science. Calling yourself a scientist does not necessarily make your work scientific. When trained activists pontificate about peak oil, simply ask them so what?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A True Madison Acitivist Story

The following is a true story about a Madison Activist who discovers that not all environmental organizations have the environment as their main agenda. While reading this journey about one persons Green Corps activist career, I am reminded that religious cults are also non-profit organizations. What Green Corps Brochures Won't Tell You By Nathaniel Miller.
“Green Corps sounded like the ideal program. I had been an activist in college and Green Corps claimed that it took college graduates, trained them, and paid them to work for a year on various campaigns with big-name environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.”

“After the August training was complete we were sent into the field to work on campaigns with various environmental organizations. Some people worked on Clean Energy issues with Greenpeace in Florida and California. I went to work with the Sierra Club in Madison, Wisconsin.”

“Naomi Roth stated, “maybe racism will be solved in a couple hundred years, but the environmental movement needs to recognize its base of power is with the white middle class, and that is where we should organize.” Central Staff constantly reiterated the statement that “Diversity is not part of Green Corps’ mission.”
In the end Nathaniel Miller Gets Fired from his position working with Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey in Hulsey’s Sierra Club office. In Madison there is always work for youthful idealists and Nathaniel moves on to another position with the Student Environmental Action Coalition where activists work to achieve both social and environmental justice through national campaigns to Prohibit the Use of Tampons.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Big Brother Redux Referral

When I was a child, my grandfather had an old metal drum beside the back alley to burn trash. Paper in particular burns to complete oblivion, beyond the reach of reclamation technology. I recommend reading the entire Big Brother Redux post below.

My Catharsis “Another day, another violation of our civil rights by our Department of “Justice”.”

I want to make sure the Republican’s remember that I vote Republican because the Democrats desire to oppress more liberties than the Republicans, but neither side is without prohibitionist zealots with members fully willing to use power to stop behavior they do not like. The important word in that last sentence is like …

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Rumor, Rumor! Read It Here First

There was a Bryan Smith sighting yesterday. The former blogger of Sanity in Mad City (in hiatus) was spotted attempting “civil dialog” with a Madison Liberal. As of this evening Bryan has not yet been called a “Nazi” but it’s clear that dealing with Madison Democrats has his adrenaline pumped. The real news is that Bryan let the following comment slip out:
“if they knock down the village bar, that's the last straw. I'm running for city council :). # posted by Bryan Smith: Wed Jun 15, 03:25:55 PM”
I am officially starting the rumor that Bryan Smith is running for the Madison City Council with hopes of one day soon going head to head with Oil Addict and Madison Alderman Lyin' Austin King. Maybe sometime in the near future the two will get into official discussions on subjects like Raising Madison Bus Fares. I can envision Mayor Dave Cieslewicz sitting passively while the conversation between King and Smith goes like something like this:

Bryan: Madison Metro is coming up about $421,000 short this year, and we can no longer depend on State and Federal tax dollars to bail out a system that costs Madison more to operate than it earns in passenger fares.

Austin: Are you logrolling me? Are you trying to get me to trade my vote for a vote on your capitalist spending plan?

Bryan: Calm down Austin. All I’m saying is that the busses are packed on the morning and evening commutes into central Madison, but our deep discounting of bundled fares for the UW-Madison and State of Wisconsin workers aren’t covering our expenses. The fact that ridership is very high at these two times demonstrates there is a market for mass transportation at these specific times. Perhaps that market could be contracted to licensed and regulated private bus companies.

Austin: What about social justice? Where is the Social Justice in charging poor people to ride to work? You are trying to keep the poor from working!

Bryan: Mayor Dave! Can’t you make Austin shut up? This is insane.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lost on Wednesday Night

The solid cloud cover almost lasts until the very end of the day when in the cool evening air occasional rays of bright sunshine break though reaching the ground. This statement is true for:

a) Wednesday, June 15, 2005,
b) Four hundred million seven hundred five thousand six hundred twenty six years ago,
c) Eight hundred million four hundred thirty two thousand sixty three years in the future,
d) a only,
e) a & c,
f) b & c,
g) none of the above if you are on a boat,
h) all of the above if the confidence limits for the data are tweaked.
i) who cares, what else is happening?

Jiblog: “Today is officially Jiblog's 1st Blogiversary. I thought about doing a great big retrospective on the last year, but then I decided "ah, screw it." Thank you to all of my readers for making this an enjoyable year of blogging.”

Badger Blogger: “This socialized medicine plan makes HilleryCare look good! And WHY are supposedly pro business groups like Wisconsin Independent Businesses supporting a plan that will bankrupt small businesses? How many businesses can afford a tax of 8% - 10% of their entire payroll? This will kill businesses and drive other out of Wisconsin and there is no way new businesses will move to Wisconsin.”

Lance Burri: “…before Democrats talk of sitting on their hands in 2006, or half-heartedly supporting Doyle, or even flirting with a third-party candidate, they need a reality check. For now and for the foreseeable future, Doyle is all they've got.”

Free Will: “Because Democrats sent Loftus, Chvala and Garvey to carry their Party’s campaign banner, legislative Democrats are in the minority in both chambers, by a handsome margin to boot, leaving Jim Doyle too few allies among his Party to matter, and no one on the GOP side willing to trade budget votes against the hope of Green or Walker winning next year.”

Wigderson Library & Pub: “Het2Blog has changed it's name to Cooler Near the Lake. Same Link. I like the name change. Maybe I should change mine to "Warmer Inland?" Naaaahh.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Problems With Driver License Based ID

Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin rushed this Press Release to the public today claiming it proves “Republicans are not interested in election reform; they are interested in stacking the elections in their favor and turning away voters like the elderly, women, African Americans, Hispanics, and young people who traditionally vote Democratic.” It may well have been a “Howard Dean Moment” with yips and whoops and the euphoria that comes from unbridled expression of simultaneous superiority and contempt.

The press release while filled with invective is missing almost anything from the actual report so in the interest of accuracy, here is the link. The Drivers License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin (PDF) by John Pawasarat, Employment and Training Institute, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, June 2005. The report which compares census data to drivers license lists appears to make the case that the Wisconsin Drivers License system is to messed up to be an effective ID system of any kind.

The first major issue centers on the fact that not everyone has a drivers license. When the existing license holder population is divided up, it is clear there are subgroups that either don’t drive or don’t drive legally. The caution that must be applied to this analysis is that not having a drivers license does not mean the person does not have a photo ID. “A portion of the population without a drivers license – whether valid or not – will have a photo ID, but without an analysis by race and location, it is not possible to estimate that population.”

This study generates lots of graphs from the manipulated data but since the number of other photo ID holders by their own admission is unknown, it raises the question: so what? Besides, the whole study ignores the fact that there are provisions in all proposed voter ID legislation to provide ID for those who need them. If you are a legal Wisconsin voter you can vote.

A second issue concerns the accuracy of the residential information on the drivers license. ”Those students and young adults living away from home but retaining their permanent home address on their drivers license need to provide proof of residence to vote prior to registration under current laws. Because the drivers license is a valid ID, regardless of address, few if any in this population would have a photo ID with a current address.” This is also a concern in minority populations that move frequently.

The problem that Republican sponsored photo ID legislation is attempting to correct is the accuracy of voter identification. The current system attempts to verify residential location but does not attempt to verify the individual actually doing the voting. If Democrats want the existing photo ID system to be considered flawed beyond utility, then where is Joe Wineke’s outrage that students, minority youth and the elderly are shut out by this unfair, unjust and inaccurate system required just to buy Sudafed? Do the poor not suffer their allergies the same as the rich? The hypocrisy is just unbelievable.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Abu Ghraib & Guantanamo in 4 Paragraphs

The war on terrorism should more accurately be called the war on religious terrorism. Our inherent American sensitivity toward religious beliefs apparently prevents our leaders frankly stating this fact loud and clear. Our soldiers are in Afghanistan and Iraq only because Islamic extremists emerged in this large region of the planet and have demonstrated that no society on the planet is safe from their anger.

The unique and defining danger in this conflict is the emergence of a branch of Islam that believes in human sacrifice. I know of no other term that applies to the concept that a divine being grants favors to individuals who kill other humans. Tyrants and criminals who kill for personal gain can be controlled by their fear and greed, but religious killers who sacrifice human life for immortal glory must be captured or eliminated.

The harder task is to disprove the power of a blood thirsty God. The opponents of this war have objections to every aspect of the conflict, but they do not have an answer about how to rid the world of the powerful notion of achieving immortality by killing others. The only answer is the one the Bush Administration has been forced to pursue, and that is to prove to the entire world that human sacrifice does not work in the world of the living.

What I see in the Abu Ghraib photographs is the absence of blood, bruises, burns, broken bones and bullet holes. What I read about in Guantanamo are trapped men given every single opportunity to summon Allah to save them from their captivity. Every day these men exist with flesh intact and free to pursue their devotion as proscribed by their religion is another day the Islamic world observes that an all powerful being does not answer calls for the vindication of wicked killers.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Lazy Daze and Bad Law

Quickly surfing around the local blogsphere there is considerable support for being lazy now that real summer weather is established in Wisconsin. It appears the legislature is ahead of the public in that lazy politicians screw up the bad legislation Governor Doyle signed this week. In the spirit of summer, I resort to referring to my prior comments and supporting documents and defer to Boots & Sabers who nicely sum up my feelings on this whole sad sorry story of government taking away another piece of freedom from the public, because it was the easiest thing for them to do. As always the public is left to adapt to the consequences, like budgeting more shopping time when driving the car to Wal-Mart.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Buy Wisconsin Pot This Weekend

Lola and I recommend buying POT this weekend and the best opportunity is the 14th Annual Cambridge Pottery Festival where forty nine Local Ceramic Artists will be displaying their wares. If you want plates, bowls, cups or vases you can purchase factory molded single glazed Martha Stewart Living Chinese imports or hand made Wisconsin pieces of superior quality and style. Madison residents in particular are reminded they are to think global, act local, eat local and eat off local dishes.

We highly recommend Susan & Eric Anderson of Markesan, WI who created the “Altered Pottery” shown in the photograph on the artist list page. Jerry Reinwand of Portage, WI for his continual development of crystalline glazed porcelain which no photograph does justice. Finally Ruth Hansen from Verona, WI because there is apparently no limit to her imagination about the shape and form clay can obtain.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lake Geneva's Moonbat Gathering

UW-Madison's Havens Center organized Wisconsin Radfest 2005 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin last week and I missed the actual event. The Havens Center is part of the UW-Madison’s Department of Sociology which makes it a Wisconsin taxpayer funded aspect of our general commitment to “higher education”. The center exists for the expressed purpose of proposing utopian alternatives to activists. You can’t make this stuff up.
“The traditional tasks of critical social thought have been to analyze the sources of inequality and injustice in existing social arrangements, to suggest both practical and utopian alternatives to those arrangements, and to identify and learn from the many social movements seeking progressive social and political change.”

“The Havens Center seeks to promote progressive social and political change through engagement with the activist community in Madison and beyond. The principal vehicle for this effort is RadFest/Midwest Social Forum, an annual conference for progressive activists and academics held the weekend after Memorial Day.”
For any one seriously wanting to understand the left the Radfest Program (PDF) is a guided tour of the clumped aggregate of dislikes and concerns that the socialists want to knit into a grand theory of HOW WE SHOULD LIVE. As an extra bonus it includes a wonderful listing of Wisconsinites working to achieve “radical” change in the Badger State.

I don’t know how people decide which sessions to attend. Ed Garvey is talking about how to create a “people’s legislature” while next door the Madison Area Democratic Socialists talk about how to defeat Wal-Mart. Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager making the case that women should rule the world or three UW-Whitewater Professors discussing how horrible it is that Ward Churchill was protested. Finally from a purely tactical standpoint, how does one decide between learning to organize mobile home parks or how to effectively use race in campaigns. After all in the real world, the democrats don't care what utopian dream you believe as long as you vote them into power.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Jagged Little Pills All Around

Isn’t it ironic that Canadian Alanis Morissette sings the United States National Anthem to open the NBA Finals the year that no National Hockey League games were played? Right now I’m too tired for proper outrage at each and every single Wisconsin politician and my methamphetamine dealer just quit to take a $7.85/hr job doing short order cooking. Apparently Woodman’s still carries the ingredients to make killer beef tips on the grill.

Isn’t it ironic that Governor Jim Doyle is outraged now that he supports what he used to oppose. I would be tempted to call this a “flip flop” but in my cool logical methamphetamine free brain, I understand the Governor is engaged in nuanced policy alternatives sensitive to the changing needs of his constituents.

Governor Doyle June 2005: "I am deeply disappointed that the Joint Finance Committee today voted down a bipartisan recommendation for construction of a Hmong Cultural Center. … "I urge the Legislature to reverse course and provide the deserved and necessary funding for the Hmong Cultural Center."

Governor Doyle July 2003: “The Legislature's budget committee voted Tuesday to spend $3 million to help build a Hmong cultural center in Milwaukee - a project Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed because it was part of a pork-barrel deal that got a now-recalled senator to vote for the state budget.”
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz feeling the need to toss in his 2 cents worth goes on record saying: "I am very disappointed that the Joint Committee on Finance failed to support building a Hmong Cultural Center in Madison.” Not only will there be no State cash to build more density into Capital City but all those Hmong are potentially qualified condo loan applicants, even those who are not U.S. Citizens.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Neko Case Night

Lola is trying to pass this off as a Honky Tonk Night but there is no way a “theatre” can ever equal a sleazy bar. Tonight it's Neko Case at The Barrymore Theatre for one show only.
“Over the past five years, it's become abundantly clear that Neko Case has emerged as the finest female country singer of her generation, the 30-something redhead possessing such a unique, instantly recognizable voice, evoking husky-voiced torch singers from decades ago, the Nashville chanteuses of the 1960s and '70s, and combining it all with a tough-girl edge, a result of her punk rock background.”

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Daydreaming on a Warm Afternoon

The talk on the radio is speculation about the 2008 Presidential election and who will be players and what topics will move the public to the polls. A guest is making an educated guess that “immigration” will be the deciding issue three years in the future. He has a documented track record of taking polls and analyzing polls and projecting what the polls foresee. The next election will be about who is a citizen and what does citizenship mean.

It’s the warmest day of the year in Wisconsin so I grab my best kaleidoscope, wander outside, sit down and point it at the sky. As I twist the cylinder the translucent trinkets jumble around in reflectively multiplied colored patterns. At times I create brilliantly blue striated triangles with pure green centers, and at other times I create ruby red clusters flecked with diamond white insets. Each little motion in the progress of time changes the structure of the pattern. The next election will be about what can be done to keep me and my loved ones healthy and alive, and who pays price.

So let me tip the hat to Boots & Sabers for exposing the Dean Health Plan and WEA Trust Non-Compete Agreement. Once large pools of money are accumulated it is much easier to keep them intact if you don’t have to defend against predatory competitors.
“This is an email from an Account Manager at Dean Health Plan in Madison to a person at WEA Trust. In it is discussed the language of a non-compete agreement between Dean Health Plan and WEA Trust where Dean promises to NOT approach any school districts which currently use, or plan to renew with, WEA Trust.”
The health care available in the United States is the best on the planet, and it achieved this level in large part because individuals and organizations can profit when they improve the results of medical treatment. Health care financing in America, however, is deeply flawed and wide open to political manipulation of human fears and desires. Both factions of the Democratic Party see this as their best hope back into power, especially if no one is checking the citizenship of urban voters.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Madison Property Tax Screw Up

Buried way back on page 40 of the Madison City Council June 7th Agenda (PDF), the Council gets to decide if they want to pay back $2,775,000 of property tax money to American Family Insurance. It appears that Madison overplayed a money grab from the big boys who have pretty good lawyers, ample cash and can read State Tax Law.
“Item 101 Approving a settlement of property tax litigation with American Family, authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to sign settlement documents authorizing a payment of $2,775,000 from City resources to effectuate the approved settlement, and amending the 2005 Operating Budget to reduce estimated General Fund revenues by $933,000 to recognize the City's share of settlement costs.”
The history and details are in Legislative File ID 01349 which has a link to the full legislative text file. Allow me to paraphrase the message to the council: We are screwed if this goes to trial and we should settle this quickly.
“The City of Madison and American Family Mutual Insurance Company have been litigating the property tax assessments for the American Family headquarters. … Prior to the mediation, the City had concluded that a significant refund likely would be due to American Family if the cases were tried. The issue at trial would focus more on the amount of the refund, not whether one was due. … The City of Madison must pay the full amount of the refund and then file with the State Department of Revenue to be repaid the shares for other taxing jurisdictions.”
Oh but the fun is just beginning! Not only does the city have to pay back what they owe; they need to pay back what they distributed to other governmental units. The script may go something like this: Hi, I’m Mayor Dave. My administration gave you some tax dollars and now I need the money back. I understand that you have already spent it but I really need (fill in the blank*) to write me a refund check.

* Possible choices include the Sun Prairie School District, the DeForest School District, Madison Area Technical College, Dane County (sorry Kathleen) and the State of Wisconsin (my bad Jim).

It will be curious to see if the Green Party alderpersons Konkel, King and Benford can be persuaded to voluntarily give tax dollars back to a private business because Two Million Seven Hundred Seventy Five Thousand dollars is a lot of money. It’s enough to buy 1.3 million gallons of fossil fuel or to pay for 232 annual full time minimum wage jobs. Who knows how much trolley track it could build on the Isthmus? This is just another set back like the lost school referendum, and I’m positive Mayor Dave still thinks like the little engine that could: I can afford light rail, I can afford light rail, I can afford light rail.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ed Garvey and Brett Hulsey Update

In an update in the Monona Wal-Mart battle, "anonymous" points out that Monona City Councilman Peter McKeever is also an attorney with the law firm founded by Democratic Party uber-liberal Ed Garvey. Garvey & Stoddard support liberal agenda items in the court system. One area of specialty is fighting Wal-Mart expansion and it is telling that the firm has represented the two organizations identified at the initial organization meeting to stop the Monona store.
“A more recent issue facing communities is whether to site big box stores, especially Wal-Mart. Citizens across the state are saying “no,” and Garvey & Stoddard is helping them. We currently represent groups fighting Wal-Mart in Janesville, Minocqua, Beaver Dam, Waupaca, and Franklin.”

“Garvey & Stoddard was retained by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Sierra Club, 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin, Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, and the River Alliance of Wisconsin …”
The presence of Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey at a non-governmental meeting outside of his elective district must mean he is involved in his capacity as Senior Midwest Regional Representative for the Sierra Club. Brett Hulsey and the Sierra Club believe that the oil based economy in general and the automobile in specific cause permanent harm to life on planet earth. Brett’s writing clearly shows his primary goal, whether as government agent or private citizen activist, is to stop people from driving cars.
Better Communities Start With More Transportation Choices (PDF): “Sprawl and a lack of transportation choices force people to own and drive cars in order to reach most destinations.”

New Roads Are Not The Answer (PDF): “Congestion plagues a road, the road is expanded, and more people can now drive on the road. Public transit or carpool riders switch to driving, drivers switch routes and take longer trips, and congestion reappears at a greater level than before the construction. More traffic is dumped on local streets. Welcome to Induced Traffic.”

Highway Health Hazards (PDF): “Crucial public policy changes must include a more balanced transportation policy, greater emphasis on public transportation systems and other options such as walking and bicycling. In addition, we need to limit development near new roadways.”
Much of the environmental movement’s logic is flawed. Many evironmental arguments are composed of cut and paste snippets of anecdotal evidence, bad statistical analysis, computer generated projections misrepresented as science and plausible sounding horror stories. When Brett writes that an expanded road “causes” more traffic, it is probably no concern to him that the cause comes from people’s love of personal freedom, and not because concrete and lane paint “force” them into anything.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Unfilmed Scenes

On the hillside there is a clearing in the forest and the blue and white canvass is still stretched between the wooden paint chipped camp chair frames. No other humans are in sight and only Lola is within earshot of a shout. Fluff tufted seeds drift in the air in an aimless search for a landing. First one and then another with about the frequency of meteors and satellites on clear June nights. Then the wind picks up and for minutes on end blows strong enough to brush back the exploratory branches of trees and bushes, testing their strength and resilience. Afterwards in the relative calm a bumblebee darts inches above the grass line between the wildflowers.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Monona Wal-Mart Opponents Flunk Reading

Two weeks ago I wrote about how Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s former organization is the opposition in the Monona Wal-Mart Battle and commented that Monona citizens should be concerned that Madison is “in effect” working to control their municipal development. The opposition has set up a website called A Better Monona which covers their campaign to prevent a new store from opening. One post reads in part:
“The Supercenter will certainly raise the property tax value of that land, and provide jobs to staff and manage the store. But the NET taxes and NET jobs within the city depend also on how many local businesses have to cut jobs or close down in the face of Wal-Mart's predatory pricing.”
The post then offers a link to a “balanced and thoughtful” article entitled How Do You Deal with the Entry of a New Wal-Mart Supercenter into Your Town?
“My studies of Wal-Mart supercenters in Iowa and Mississippi have shown that total local sales usually increase after the opening of a supercenter. This is because a huge store like this one will keep a lot of residents shopping at home, rather than outshopping to other localities, and it will also attract more residents from outlying areas.

This effect can be observed in most communities of up to 50,000 or so in population. In larger places, the impact of one store is hard to measure;

In summary, a new supercenter makes the host place more of a regional trade center. In larger communities, it sometimes forms a critical mass that attracts such other chain stores as home improvement and office supply retailers and restaurants.”
This is an absolutely fair and balanced assessment of the local economic effects of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It makes me wonder if Dane County Commissioner Brett Hulsey or anyone from Dave Cieslewicz’s 1000 Friends of Wisconsin actually read the link they were posting. In all probability, some eager “activist” took the “resources” Kevin Pomeroy provided and liked the title of this article enough to include it in the post.

Let me put the findings in other terms. A Supercenter has both good and bad economic effects and the size of the community is directly related to the severity of any adverse effects. If I drop a bowling ball into a 25 gallon aquarium it pretty much messes everything up. If I drop a bowling ball into Lake Monona the ripples are barely enough to bounce a floating baby duck. The opposition will attack with wave after wave of anecdotal evidence of small business disruption, so it will be useful to question what size of little town suffered the horror stories.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Russ Feingold will Handle the Money

I’m cleaning off the summer fans outside in shorts and The Doors “Light My Fire” starts playing on the radio, the old fashioned way, with static. The weather is to beautiful for politics so the briefest summary about “The Progressives” is that the lead issue is health care reform, and give your money to Senator Russ Feingold. Seriously, funnel all campaign donations through Russ’s Progressive Patriots Fund. Russ will handle the money.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An Apology to Joel Rogers

I owe Joel Rogers an apology on the fact that I have referred to him as a “Socialist”, whereas in his own writings he refers to himself as a “Post Socialist”. I suppose a post socialist comes into existence when the failure of the socialist experiment forces a review of what went wrong so that the subsequent experiment works better. This is how the scientific methods works, hypothesize, experiment, analyze and try again.

If I understand Joel’s writings correctly, the socialist experiment failed because “State Socialism” became corrupt and did not produce the goal of a more even distribution of resources. In other words, State Socialism failed to create an egalitarian and participatory culture. Since the autopsy concludes the cause of death was found in the central government institutions, there is still the possibility a truly just and fair society may emerge from the “Radical Democratic” concepts of traditional socialism. Since imposing utopia top down didn’t work, the lesson to be learned is that utopia needs to be developed from the local level. Experiments with “Empowered Participatory Governance” in towns and cities still have the potential to home grow a workers paradise. Of course, all gardens require a gardener.

After Howard Dean and Arianna Huffington open the Tuesday June 2 session of the Take Back America Conference 2005 , Joel Rogers wraps up they day teaching how to build a Progressive Movement. At some point in the conference there will be a photo opportunity where Joel and Senator John Edwards share a few words. The only question is if someone snaps the shutter to capture the moment.