Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chavez's Discounted Trial Offer

The current issue of the Madison weekly Isthmus has an article about a ploy Hugo Chavez is playing with America. Chavez is offering to supply governmental officials deeply discounted oil.
Fueling Controversy Madison officials are now awaiting an offer from the Venezuelan government for low-cost diesel fuel that might reduce the financial burden on cash-strapped Madison Metro. … Ald. Austin King believes the city ought to seize the opportunity: "Rejecting Citgo's offer on a purely political basis isn't just short-sighted, it's downright cruel."

New York and Massachusetts have accepted more than 20 million gallons of heating oil at 40% discount. But opponents say U.S. cities shouldn't accept help from a Latin American leader who's denounced President Bush and U.S.-style capitalism.
I suppose a 40% below market discount to elected officials in technically neither bribery nor a kickback. If it was, then New York and Massachusetts would be totally corrupt. Alderman King with his usual emotionally derived logic suggests it would be cruel not to embrace a gift from a hostile foreign government, to save the bus system. More reasoned workers, however, are pointing out this good will offering from socialists may cause other problems for struggling local mass transit.
Madison Metro Memo We have a contract with Harkney Oil Company for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel that expires June 30, 2006. There is a clause in the contract that allows us to cancel with 30-day notice. … If the CITGO offer were accepted in lieu of competitive bidding, Metro would be in non-compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. Non-compliance carries serious consequences. Metro relies on substantial federal and state funding (50%) for its operations and capital purchases (80%).
Austin King must believe that the grant and gift economy is equally as viable a basis for government operations as legal contracts within a market system. If Austin was true to his beliefs he would remember the pledge he made last year.
Oil Addict "My name is Austin King and I'm an oil addict,” declared Madison, Wisconsin Alderman Austin King. “Having recognized that we all have a problem here, we must work vigilantly to kick the habit.
So kick the habit Austin. Just say no to dictators bearing gifts abroad while building armies at home.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Climate Change Follies

Bill Clinton, dispensing his wisdom in Davos, Switzerland, proclaims “climate change” the biggest problem in the world. Al Gore must have slipped him a cheat sheet because I doubt Honest Bill has done his own homework on the matter. Still, this type of sweeping broad prioritization of danger is a bit an overstatement even to professional climate researchers such as UW Madison Associate Scientist Stephen Vavrus.
Climate Changes is One of Top Issues: "I wouldn't go quite that far," said Stephen Vavrus, an associate scientist at the UW-Madison Center for Climatic Research. "There are so many problems that exist and will exist regardless of climate change."
So climate change may not be the ONLY problem in the world, but like almost all grant funded climate researchers, Vavrus believes the orthodoxy that the atmosphere has been changed by mankind, which must logically lead to the conclusion that we are existing in an unnatural state of being. Being unnatural means that the four billion years of continual life on this sun warmed rock in cold space is "potentially" threatened.
"Basically, for better or for worse, we are conducting a big experiment on the world. We're changing - and have already changed - the composition of the atmosphere drastically and we don't really know exactly what's going to happen."

He used another diagram to show climate change going back a millennium - to 1000 A.D. The graph was flat with a dramatic spike in the 20th century and the largest jump in the 1990s. … "This really suggests that things that are happening now really are unusual. Not just in the recent past but (over) the more distant past, too."
To call 1000 years ago the “distant past” is to illustrate the point that you can teach dogma to intelligent people. It is also a good example that memorization, knowledge and wisdom are different, which is why they have separate words.
Vavrus predicted that the number of extremely hot days will increase dramatically in the future. That, combined with an aging population - which doesn't survive as well in hot temperatures - is going to problematic, he pointed out. But like economics, climate change is not an exact science. "I'm almost certain there will be surprises. The system is too complicated," he said.
Of all the hypothetical dangers imagined by the climate change cult, the idea that old people are to stupid to seek shelter from the heat is at the top of the intelligence insulting arguments. Do they believe people in Florida retire to Wisconsin to escape warmth? Still I love the admission that climate science is complicated like economics. If computer models could predict the future of chaotic dynamic systems, then there would never be losers on Wall Street.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Paraphrasing Madison Thinking

On his blog, Paul Soglin links to an Oscar Madison post about the Ford Motor Company layoffs. Oscar is the blog pseudonym of a UW Madison Law Professor and Soglin apparently found the thoughts to be insightful. The Professor writes with such a pure socialist understanding of the announcements I was going to carefully fisk it, yet each time I started, I stoped. The flaws within this piece of socialist reasoning simply are not worth wasting my time to enumerate them. It’s more amusing to just paraphrase the message.
Our beloved unionized and highly compensated labor has to suffer for the short sighted and profit motivated errors of the capitalist owners. Yet while our sympathy goes out to the workers, in the larger picture it is our fault for allowing a private Oil and Auto industry to have developed in America.

In a prior century the railroads had the growth and political clout, enabling them to have their way with the economy of our country. Since "creative destruction" is inherent in capitalism, however, the railroads were doomed to be surpassed by other industries. This rise and fall of industries is not truly progress because the change has not been good for America. The Oil and Auto industry only achieved dominance over the railroads because of massive government subsidies to build roads. The roads in turn gave us residential sprawl across a polluted and destroyed environment, trapping workers into dependence on these private corporations.

All of America is now controlled by the corporate interests of Oil and Autos, and these profiteers require the continual violence of war to maintain their dominate role in our society. Oil and Autos will eventually fail, but not before the suffering and damage is widespread both within our country and across the world.
Feel free to cut and paste to the source material.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Reminder on Conventional Wisdom

Arnold Kling writing at TCS Daily reminds us about the dangers of conventional wisdom.

Stuck on 1968: The Conventional Wisdom among well-educated liberals in 1968 included the following: Anti-Communism was a greater menace than Communism. The planet could not possibly support the population increases that would take place by the end of the twentieth century. Conservatives stood in the way of progress for minorities. Government programs were the best way to lift people out of poverty. What underdeveloped countries needed were large capital investments, financed by foreign aid from the rich countries. Inflation was a cost-push phenomenon, requiring government intervention in wage and price setting.

The degree of confidence in these beliefs was so strong that liberals in 1968 came to the overriding conclusion that: Anyone who is not a liberal must be incorrigibly stupid.

Kling’s point is that all of these liberal beliefs proved to be incorrect over time. The corollary, which Republicans should not forget, is that contemporary conventional wisdom may be equally susceptible to error. Poverty, the expense of healthcare and inequalities of income in America are volatile emotional issues that can be exploited by the Democrats. Missteps in the Middle East can easily create an economic collapse comparable to the global depression of the 1930’s, and all the carefully calculated, computer assisted congressional redistricting won’t prevent voter approved expansion of the government dependent citizen.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Error and Impropriety in Wisconsin

Back in 2002, I remember an anti-Jim Doyle slogan floating around that went something like: if you elect a crook you get a crook. Now that a Federal Indictment has blood in the water, the inner circles of both parties are focused on each other, sharpening their rhetoric and talking amongst themselves.
There's No Eye in Team: Reasons abound why Wisconsin has gone blind to political corruption. Among them is the pathology evident in the major political parties. Belonging to a political party used to be like joining a club. Now it's more like getting caught up in a cult.

The leaders of the major political parties who populate Wisconsin's state Legislature and our nation's Congress are not remotely representative of the people. These bosses are obsessed with who's right and who's left. If they’d spend half as much time thinking about what's right and wrong, we wouldn't be in the midst of political corruption scandals of historic proportions.

Just as likely, we're approaching one of those historic turning points that calls for the creation of something brand new and tests our capacity for democratic renewal.
I suspect there is plenty of Error and Impropriety in State Government. An Ed Thompson for Governor Sticker is still pasted on my passenger side visor. I wasn’t one of the 185,455 Wisconsin voters that voted for him in 2002, but I was willing to listen to a third party message.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Undermining Traditional News Judgment

The restructuring of the “old media” is underway at breakneck speed. Dummocrats post a link to an experiment being attempted by the Wisconsin State Journal.
Wisconsin Paper Lets Readers Choose Page One Stories: If you've ever wanted to pick the stories that appear on Page One, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison is about to give you the power. Under a new initiative launched Monday, the 101,000-circulation daily will let readers vote on its Web site each day for the story they'd most like to see on the front page.

Critics may resist what they see as a popularity contest undermining traditional news judgment," Kelley acknowledged. "But we aren't too worried that you'll be scribbling up our first draft of history with Paris Hilton's daily exploits. Our unscientific poll is just another way for you to tell us what you find to be the most important, interesting or vital information of the day."
What caught my eye was Managing Editor Tim Kelley expressing concern about “undermining traditional news judgment”, as if journalistic decision making was ever on par with medical, legal or any of the multiple forms of technical judgment. Let me illustrate the “traditional news judgment” of the Wisconsin State Journal.
Wisconsin called emerging biotech hot spot: Wisconsin is one of five emerging biotech hot spots to be detailed today by e-mail newsletter FierceBiotech, according to a Forbes.com story Tuesday. … Carroll said those areas provide financial support, such as tax grants and equity funding, and organizations to help biotechnology companies grow. But he conceded his choices are not based on scientific methodology. "This is not unlike judging dance contests based on audience applause. There is no particular algorithm," he told Forbes.com. "This is about chemistry as determined by FierceBiotech."
Tim Kelley or some other editor approves publishing a e-mail newsletter piece about the Madison business climate that proclaims its own conclusions are “not unlike judging dance contests based on audience applause”. Journalism has always been about cherry picking the words and images to present to the public, and the reality is the blogosphere is destroying the old media monopoly on content selection. In an adapt or die world of commerce, it looks like the old media is deciding to embrace the blogs as just another legitimate source of words.
State Journal gives readers a voice in front page stories: Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin gave the paper credit for trying to interact with readers but doubted whether this was the right way to do it. "Involvement is one thing; abdicating front page placement is another," he wrote on his blog.

Doyle's luck takes a turn: As the pseudonymous blogger Dennis York put it, "The $10,000 contribution from Craig Adelman has now guaranteed a half a million dollars' worth of ads run against Doyle. Hope it was worth it.
It makes you wonder if the newsprint factories can be quickly converted to toilet paper production.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shield Night In Make Believe Land

The Shield on F/X. Some people like it.

The Darkness Behind "The Shield": To simply call "The Shield" a great drama series damns it with faint praise. Week in, week out, it sets the bar for steadfast excellence that everything -- not just other TV shows -- should reach for.

Some people don’t.

Sadistic Violence: "The Shield" is one of television's most troubling successes. … But the focus of the series is Mackey and his corruption, and there are very worrisome aspects to the approach taken by the writers, producers and directors. Viewers are likely to find themselves rooting for the "bad guy," Mackey, who for all his contemptible traits often seems sympathetic.

Forced to choose, I’ll take “The Shield” over “24”. Vic Mackey has a bit more verisimilitude than Jack Bauer.

Monday, January 23, 2006

UW Professor Barrett Heads to Caracas

Fresh from his talk to the Dane County Democratic Party, UW Madison Professor Patrick Barrett is taking theories of radical voting reform down to rapidly radicalizing Venezuela.
Wisconsin Green Party Leadership Heads to Caracas: Members of the Green Party of the United States will be among the 100,000 social activists from nations throughout the Americas attending the World Social Forum (WSF) in Caracas, Venezuela, January 24 to 29. Greens heading to Caracas for the WSF include Patrick Barrett, Ben Manski, George Martin, Peter Camejo, and James M Leas. Barrett, Manski and Martin are all three from Wisconsin.

The meeting in Caracas is significant in 2006 because it recognizes the challenges that some governments in South America (especially those led by Presidents Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and President-elect Michelle Bachelet of Chile) pose to the U.S., especially to the Bush Administration's pro-corporate agenda and attempt to control fossil fuel industries in the Western Hemisphere; U.S. military incursions in Colombia and threats against Venezuela and Cuba; and U.S.-backed international trade agreements that have damaged democracy, worker and environmental protections, and economic conditions throughout the Americas.
The gathering is self described as “non-governmental and non-partisan” and while there is some concern that “Venezuela is overly politicized and that the strong leadership of Hugo Chavez and his popularity would turn the forum into a ¨Chavista Forum”, the Caracas setting is undoubtedly at the center of the most dynamic active socialist experiment on the planet.
Land of Change: The Venezuelan government is carrying out agrarian reform, redistributing government land and large private estates. It has launched mass literacy and adult education programmes, and set up basic health centres across the country -- many staffed by Cuban doctors.
I wonder if the good Professor will have a chance to explain to Chavez the Four Pillars of the Green Party, especially the part about violence being morally wrong and logistically ineffective, because violence doesn’t address the root cause of problems.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bush To Address Health Care

Early indications are that President Bush will focus his State of the Union Speech on the issue of health care costs. It is good the Administration is taking this matter very seriously because people will vote their pocket books and fears, and the Democrats are counting on the expense of medical therapy to win them votes if they promise relief.
State of the Union Address Will Focus on Health Care Frustrations "The American people are very, very frustrated with the health care system, for good reason," Al Hubbard, the chairman of Bush's National Economic Council, said Wednesday in an interview. Health insurance premiums are rising faster than inflation. The number of employers offering health coverage is dropping. The ranks of the uninsured are growing. These developments explain why health care is near the top of many Americans' list of worries. Taming health care costs and energy prices will be priorities for Bush this year, Hubbard said.
The Republicans ignore the issue of health care costs at their peril. It will not be enough for the administration to promote consumerism in healthcare without simultaneously presenting the pubic with the evidence that Universal Health Care plans are financially breaking down around the world. Britain’s National Health Service would be a good example.
HNS Told: Put Money Before Medicine On Thursday, Ms Hewitt will issue the first rulebook for NHS managers in an attempt to eliminate the financial deficits threatening to destabilise reform plans for hospitals and primary care services.

Patients to look after themselves to save the NHS cash MINISTERS are hoping to rescue the NHS from its continuing cash problems through a “semi-privatised” scheme that trains patients to avoid hospital or their GP. The Expert Patient Programme, which has cut hospital visits by 16 per cent in trial areas, is to have its budget tripled before becoming a not-for-profit company, The Times understands.

The programme, set up four years ago, was based on an American “self-care” plan devised to save on the astronomical costs of US hospital care and was tested in various areas of Britain. Six months into the trials, GP consultations fell by 7 per cent, while local outpatient visits and emergency care attendances dropped by 10 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
It is interesting to note that the program showing actual health care cost savings is modeled on an American plan, and that long term the British Government is looking for ways to return the cost of healthcare back to the private sector. The Democrats will get millions of votes with promises to have someone else pay the medical bills. Blunting this push towards socialized health care in American will once again entail explaining to freedom loving citizens the financial Ponzi Scheme created when mandatory taxes are used to fund the insatiable demand for more and better medical results.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

An Iranian Stock Sell Off

Friday was a bad day for the United States Stock Market as sellers of American securities overwhelmed buyers. MSN Money Central says the market was “Infected with wide-spread selling” and Forbes points out “It was the biggest one-day drop for all three indexes in nearly three years--since March 24, 2003”.

Speculation about the reasons for selling centered on the usual suspects of disappointing earnings growth and concerns about the price of oil, but why people are selling is a different matter from who is selling. Based on other news, it would not surprise me if some portion of the selling pressure originated from the Iranian Government adjusting their holdings.
Confusion Over Iran 'Assets Move' The Iranian students news agency (Isna) reported on Friday that Iran's central bank governor Ebrahim Sheibani had revealed that the country had started to shift assets from Europe.

Iran Says Not Planning to Move its Money to Asia Iran, which has said it is shifting its money out European accounts as the threat of U.N. sanctions mounts, will not move its currency assets to Asia, a deputy central bank governor said on Saturday. Tehran has bitter memories of its U.S. assets being frozen shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution and many foreign and domestic media speculated that Iran was eying accounts in Malaysia, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. "Iran at the moment has no plan to transfer its currency accounts to those countries," Mohammad Jafar Mojarrad told the official IRNA news agency, when asked about the reports on Tehran shifting its holdings east.
The Iranian Government remembers 1979, and the US response to the kidnapping of American citizens by freezing bank assets. A quarter of a century later, Iran is taking preemptive action to get their money out of Europe, and I doubt their holdings were entirely Euro dominated cash accounts. The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is run by individuals who completely understand Western economic theory.
Mohammad Jafar Mojarrad
Vice Governor (Foreign Exchange Affairs)
The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran
PhD in Economics, 1977; University of Pennsylvania.
Major: Econometrics and International Trade &Finance.
MA in Economics, 1973; University of Pennsylvania.
AB (Hons) in Economics, 1971; University of California, at Berkeley.
A key member of the Central Bank of Iran was schooled at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, and it may be his Berkeley background that prepares him to operate the Islamic banking model.
Iran Daily Economic Focus Islamic thinkers have always criticized the banking principles of the capitalist world for two main reasons. Firstly, they believe that western banking systems run contrary to usury-free banking prescribed by Islamic tenets. Secondly, such banking systems attach great significance to accumulation of wealth in the hands of capitalists - what Muslim scholars strongly believe prevents social justice from being administered.

For the very reason the Usury-Free Banking Law was promulgated and put into practice after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. According to this law, interest was removed from the capital market and a state-controlled administrative system was formulated for the banking system. The government, henceforth, closely watched the performance of banks and was in charge of making their policies.
Both Locally and Nationally the observation is being pointed out that American Left and Islamic Jihadist rhetoric is nearly identical. The convergence of thinking may well have its roots in the false concept that earned wealth and social justice are incompatible.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Unholy Lust of Scientists

HT to Climate Audit for the editorial by philosopher David S. Oderberg. If money corrupts, then is it unreasonable to suspect there may be corruption in science? When science is pursued for the paycheck, what deference is due the paymaster?
The Unholy Lust of Scientists: Some scientists fudge data; others omit inconvenient evidence; yet others misrepresent the evidence they do have, obtaining levels of precision discordant with what may reasonably be expected from frequently messy experimentation with its many variables. Some scientists do all of this and more.

It may be inviting poison e-mails to say it, but I venture to suggest that contemporary science is now so corrupted by the lust for loot and glory that nothing less than root-and-branch reform can save it. For a start, although I distance myself wholly from his anti-rationalism and methodological anarchy, I share the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend's demand for a separation of science and state, or at the very least a radical curtailment of public financial sponsorship of scientific research. How could the millions thrown at scientists be anything other than a veritable inducement to misconduct?
Politicians of every persuasion are seeking justification for public policy in science, and the pressure is on grant recipients to provide conclusions, rather than dependable, replicable and accurate results. For true believers in limited government, the separation of science and state is a legitimate starting point.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Falk Given Prime Spot at the Trough

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk found a cash machine today. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will be supporting Falk’s bid to defeat incumbent Peg Lautenschlager in the Democratic Primary for State Attorney General.
AFSCME: PEOPLE Conference Endorses Falk for Attorney General: The Wisconsin PEOPLE Conference is the political arm of AFSCME Councils 40 and 48. These Councils represent more than 40,000 public service and health care workers in every county in Wisconsin. AFSCME is the nation’s largest public employee union, with more than 1.4 million members nationwide. The union devotes significant resources to political action, making its PEOPLE Conference a major player in national, state and local politics.
The significance of this endorsement is that it comes from the political action committee of the massive public employee union. A quick search through The Institute On Money In State Politics data base shows that in the 2004 election cycle, the PAC was in the top tier of donors to individual Wisconsin Candidates, with 97.55% going to Democrats. Sorting AFSCME cash grants by size, the top three awards go to Doyle, Doyle and Doyle.
Wisconsin 2004 – Top 20 Contributors to Candidates:
Wisconsin PEOPLE conference AFSCME 40 & 48: Sorted by Dollar Amount
Doyle, Jim, Governor, Democrat, WI received $10,000 on 05/27/2004
Doyle, Jim, Governor, Democrat, WI received $5,000 on 08/14/2003
Doyle, Jim, Governor, Democrat, WI received $5,000 on 02/14/2003
This is a nice haul, especially since there was no election for Governor in 2004. It looks like Falk’s decision to award the Governors wife the Martin Luther King Jr. award last week is going to have a nice return on investment. What I didn’t realize until today, however, was that the AFSCME money machine and the unionization of public service all began here in Capital City.
AFSCME History In 1932, as the country suffered through the worst economic depression in its history, a small group of white-collar, professional state employees met in Madison, Wisconsin. They formed the Wisconsin State Administrative, Clerical, Fiscal and Technical Employees Association (which soon became the Wisconsin State Employees Association).

The leader of the group, Col. A.E. Garey, was the director of the state Civil Service system, and the reason for the group's creation was simple: basic survival. Wisconsin state employees held their jobs based on competitive civil service examinations and there was genuine fear that state politicians might attempt to return to a political patronage, or "spoils" system. … In the November, 1932 elections, Democrats in Wisconsin rode Franklin D. Roosevelt's coattails into office. And sure enough, in January, 1933 a Democratic senator introduced a bill in the state legislature that would dismantle the state's civil service system. ...

The desire for collective bargaining became AFSCME's driving force. … In 1961, President John Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, which legitimized collective bargaining for federal employees and helped create a favorable atmosphere for similar demands from all public employees.
The rest, as they say, is history. Taxpayer paid public service solidified into permanent and protected jobs. Having abolished the patronage threat after elective leadership changes, the union membership settled into the safe comfort of good enough for government work. Now Kathleen Falk has been given a prime spot at the trough for the siphoned off tax dollars.

HT GOP3.com: The Triumvirate who today announced their succession plans: GOP3.com: The Next Generation, GOP3.com: Deep Space Nine, and GOP3.com: Voyager.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Dust Up Over EPA Guidelines

Joel Schwartz writing at TCS Daily has a two part posting dissecting both the environmentalist dissent and junk science over Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines on very small airborne objects. The issue focuses on the level of fine particulates, termed PM2.5 in agency jargon, that should be considered acceptable on both a daily and annual basis.
Particle Civics: When the Environmental Protection Agency cuts allowable particle pollution levels more than 45 percent, you might expect commendations from environmentalists and the press. You’d be disappointed.
The EPA is recommending dropping the acceptable maximum daily level from 65 ug/m3 down to 35 ug/m3. The annual standard for air quality adopted by the Clinton administration in 1997 would be maintained and a stricter daily standard enforced. The Save the Earth fanatics are upset because in their pursuit of purity, this is not enough.
Could public debate on air pollution be any more absurd? EPA proposes a new standard that would reduce allowable peak PM2.5 levels by 45 percent and that would double the national PM2.5 non-attainment rate. Yet environmentalists call this “status quo” with a straight face, health scientists claim EPA ignored their recommendations, and journalists endorse these false assessments.
Status quo will never be acceptable to the eco-socialistists and the grant funded environmental research community. Why stop at good when perfection is possible?
Faith Based Pollution Standards: The Environmental Protection Agency claims its new more stringent standard will save thousands of additional lives each year. On the other hand, environmentalists and many air pollution researchers claim EPA is killing thousands of people by not clamping down even further. As I detail below, both views are mistaken.
Schwarz points out the methodology problems afflicting so much of the environmental work being presented as science. The two major defects are publication bias and data mining or model selection bias. Both originate from the desire to find significant and meaningful knowledge from statistical analysis of measurements of the complex and dynamic atmosphere, compared to the complex and dynamic health of large populations. The validity of statistical conclusions ultimately depends on the validity and precision of the underlying data.
Thus, the entire PM2.5 regulatory enterprise rests fundamentally on the results of small and inconsistent statistical associations that are likely the spurious result of publication and model-selection biases. The result is unwarranted public fear, an ever-expanding regulatory state, and large amounts of Americans’ income squandered on minute or perhaps non-existent risks.
Simply put, there is no legitimate evidence to indicate that spending millions of dollars enforcing expanded Federal Regulations would have any impact at all on human health. The pursuit of purity is derived from an idealized conception of nature embraced by environmentalists. In reality, nature is pretty messy and all life has evolved to deal with a baseline level of dust in the wind.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jobs Are Ending Iraqi Terrorism

Bill Roggio’s weekly summation of Security Incidents In Iraq links to an intriguing analysis of why the Iraqis are slowly ending the terrorist insurgency themselves.
The Civil War Among Sunni Arabs: January 16, 2006: Terrorist attacks against certain types of targets get lots of media coverage, especially when, as there usually are, lots of attacks. What is less reported is the ultimate success, or failure, of those attacks.
The attacks are not achieving any long term goals the article reasons, because the impetus behind the terrorist insurgency has always been a mixture of both the desire for power and the need for a paycheck.
As large as it is, the oil industry is not the largest employer in Iraq, the government is, with 1.2 million employees. The government has always been a major employer in Iraq, and during the 1990s, it became the main employer because the embargo, imposed at the end of the 1991 war, shut down much of the economy.
George W. Bush effectively ended the “old economy” and what is not being reported in the MSM is that a “new economy” is growing as the Iraqi population exercise their new freedom.
… before 2003, the Sunni Arabs had the lowest unemployment rate in the country, because they got priority for those government jobs. That all changed in early 2003, and the Sunni Arabs want to get back to work. Right now, one of the easiest, if dangerous, ways to make money is to go to work with one of the many Sunni Arab terrorist or criminal gangs. … The problem with the terror economy is that most of the people getting terrorized (killed and maimed) are Iraqis, many of them Sunni Arab Iraqis. This has caused a backlash against the terrorists. Moreover, the booming economy has made more jobs available even to Sunni Arabs.
Many newly unemployed individuals in need of money accepted terrorist money in the wake of the collapsed dictatorial economy, but as the new economy develops there are increasingly ways to earn income without dodging the dangerous backlash of murderous activity. Most Sunni Arabs, like most all people, prefer peaceful livelihoods.
While Sunni Arabs believe, in general, that they should be running the country, they are more specifically concerned about having a job, and access to the rapidly rebuilding economy. The Sunni Arabs have access to the ten TV and 75 radio stations that have opened up since 2003, and know what's going on in the rest of the country. The Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004, and has been going up as the unemployment rate is going down.
The violence will end in Iraq as the Iraqis themselves lose the will to fight the brighter future unfolding around them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Michelle Bachelet New Socialist President

Chileans have elected Michelle Bachelet to be their new president. Imagine Howard Dean as a female pediatrician and realize that the USA now has an opportunity to observe how a liberal socialist administration affects a healthy economy.
Chileans Elect Socialist, First Woman President: SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Socialist Michelle Bachelet, a separated mother and former political exile, won elections on Sunday to become the first female president in socially conservative Chile with a victory that underscores the left's growing hold on Latin America. … With almost all votes counted, Bachelet, from Chile's ruling center-left coalition, had 53 percent versus 47 percent for opposition candidate Sebastian Pinera, the government Electoral Service said.
Dr. Bachelet is the daughter of a Chilean Air Force General that opposed the 1973 military coup. Pinochet jailed her family for their opposition to his dictatorial rule of the county and her father died in captivity. The important point is that Bachelet comes from elite Chilean society and she understands how money and power work in the country. As a true socialist, she wants to use the power of government to direct the wealth of society for the benefit of the poor.
Chile's Bachelet Becomes Nation's First Woman Leader: Michelle Bachelet won election in Chile, becoming the nation's first woman president after pledging to help students, workers and retirees benefit from the copper- rich country's economic growth. … The next president will take power with the highest credit rating in Latin America, a seventh year of economic expansion under way and a record budget surplus because of a surge in prices for copper, Chile's top export. Bachelet, a Socialist party member and the second woman elected president in South America, said she will use that revenue to help almost 3 million poor in a country where workers earn an average of $522 a month.

Chileans ``must know that the society in which they live protects them,'' Bachelet told thousands of supporters. ``My commitment is that in 2010, we will have consolidated a system of social protection.'' She said that she will improve access to education and health care and provide for the elderly.
Outgoing President Ricardo Logos astutely managed the surge in revenues stemming from strong prices for the primary export copper. In some ways the Chilean situation resembles the post cold war “peace dividend” economy that the Clinton Administration inherited, and rather than Howard, Michelle Bachelet may more correctly be analogous to Hillary. It will be interesting to see how she gets along with Hugo.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Searching for Fairness and Accuracy

Madison based PR Watch, aka Center For Media and Democracy, is a group with the mission to monitor the public relations industry and to “recognize and combat manipulative and misleading PR practices”. In other words, they have set themselves up to counter any spin that hired propagandists use to influence the public. The Center also runs a “wiki” format encyclopedia of these propagandists and their employers.
Source Watch: A key difference between Wikipedia and SourceWatch is that Wikipedia's editorial policy is based around the concept of neutrality. Unfortunately, a neutral point of view only works when there is a universal consensus on at least the basic, key facts, a state which is hard to achieve in the face of disinformation. Thus, SourceWatch is based on the policy of "fairness and accuracy".
A quick run through the Staff Biographies indicates these propagandist monitors have leftist inclinations. Since they overtly declare they are rejecting neutrality in favor of fairness and accuracy, I searched through a few entries.
Monsanto The Monsanto company was created in 1901 by John Francis Queeny. Named after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto, the name Monsanto has since, for many around the world, come to symbolize the greed, arrogance, scandal and hardball business practices of too many multinational corporations.
OK, nothing neutral in this entry and since this group is the watchdog for disinformation this must be a fair and accurate description of the company.
Cato Institute Founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and David H. Koch, its stated mission is "to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace" by seeking greater involvement of the "lay public in questions of public policy and the role of government." Despite its decidedly ideological agenda on many topics, members of the Cato Institute are often cited as non-partisan experts on news programs.
Now that I’m aware of the facts, the next time I see someone from the Cato Institute on the news I will know the person is a paid shill for the concepts of limited government and individual liberty.
George Soros "Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979, when he began providing funds to help black students attend the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Today he is chairman of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the founder of a network of philanthropic organizations that are active in more than 50 countries.
Philanthropy is a good thing therefore this Soros gentleman must be extra special good if he engages in philanthropy in more than 50 countries. SourceWatch is wiki format and I could edit any of these entries, but then again my edits could be edited by those with more knowledge. For now it is good enough to know where to turn when I need guidance to help me see through the disinformation all around me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Whole Foods Marketing Ploy

Because I understand that the whole “Global Warming Movement” is based on false premises and fake data, it irritates me that increasingly more corporations are using environmentalist marketing to bring in customers.
Whole Foods Goes 100% Wind Generated Electric Whole Foods Market, the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, has made a landmark purchase of renewable energy credits from wind farms to offset 100% of the electricity used in all of its stores, facilities, bake houses, distribution centers, regional offices and national headquarters in the United States and Canada. This is the largest wind energy credit purchase in the history of the United States and Canada and makes Whole Foods Market the only Fortune 500 Company purchasing wind energy credits to offset 100% of its electricity use.
Whole Foods knows there is a market niche for affluent idealists believing there is a "green" way of doing everything from eating to post digestion product disposal. The company also desires to charge premium prices for anything they can because they say so to their investors.
Declaration of Interdependence We earn profits every day through voluntary exchange with our customers. We know that profits are essential to create capital for growth, job security and overall financial success. … As a publicly traded company, Whole Foods Market intends to grow.
Organic Capitalist Swine! - I defer further fisking to a Ph.D. in Economics.
Whole Foods Buys Wind Energy To Increase Pollution Of course, a cynic might say that Whole Foods is just one big corporate scam artist taking advantage of consumers’ beliefs. Kind of like the Church of Scientology and the “Televangelists.” This is especially the case when you realize that it’s all just a publicity stunt – no “wind energy” will actually end up in Whole Foods stores or offices: Because power does not flow from wind farms directly to a home or business through a utility grid,
Still, if anyone living in Waukesha or Milwaukee wants to burn gasoline driving over to pay top dollar in a store with wind powered lighting for the organic lettuce display, then please feel free to spend money at the Madison Wisconsin Store. Conservative shoppers may take comfort in the fact that Whole Foods is absolutely 100% a Non-Union Shop.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Falk Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I love America, because in spite of politicians doing things for political reasons, this is still a land of freedom and opportunity. The City of Madison and Dane County give out The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards once a year.
Nomination Form (pdf) The inscription on the Dane County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Award reads: For effort as a leader in Dane County, and for exemplifying the true legacy of Dr. King. Please describe how your candidate/nominee satisfies this description.
Eligible individuals must be a resident of Dane County and from this pool of thousands of worthy individuals, a few are nominated for recognition. A government committee then selects one or two who they believe most exemplify the true legacy of Dr. King. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announces the 2006 winners.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Award Winners “I am delighted to announce that Paul Kusuda and Jessica Doyle were selected as joint-recipients of the 2006 Dane County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Award. These individuals work tirelessly, in many capacities, to provide inspiration and guidance and to share their personal knowledge with so many in our community who find obstacles in the way of their hopes and dreams,” said Falk.
I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. would be thrilled that an award named in recognition of his accomplishments, will be given by Kathleen Falk, a white female politician, to Jessica Doyle, the white female wife of the white male Governor. The very same Democratic Governor who recruited Falk to run for Attorney General against the Democratic incumbent. The beautiful thing about America is that anyone, regardless of race, can achieve award winning success.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Chavez Slams Plane Plans

The American Left’s favorite South American leader, Hugo Chavez, is expressing concern that the Bush Administration he believes is out to overthrow him, is not going to help him maintain his military air force.
Chavez Slams U.S. Over Planes: CARACAS - President Hugo Chávez said Tuesday that Venezuela would consider buying Russian-built MiGs or Chinese warplanes if the United States fails to honor a contract to supply his country with parts for its F-16 jets.

Venezuela purchased its fleet of 21 F-16s in 1983. U.S. officials have said the 1982 contract does not obligate the United States to supply parts indefinitely to Venezuela or to upgrade the planes.
I don’t think the Pentagon is overly afraid of 1983 technology of their own design, but there is no real value in enabling a nuisance to mature into a danger. The Venezuelan President is creating what all budding dictators aspire to possess: an army and an enemy.
Chávez also urged Venezuela's military to prepare for a possible invasion by the United States. … ''If we are going to war, the only war possible for us would be the one that we are obliged to make against an invasion by North American imperialism,'' he said. … Chávez has called on his countrymen to prepare for a conflict by learning to use a firearm and joining the nation's military reserve. Chávez said he is creating a new socialist system in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter.
Funny how the “new” socialist system immediately begins with a weapons buildup. Seems pretty much like “old school” socialism to me. HT DANEgerous

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Kangaroo Court Date for Bush

Hat Tip to Elephants in Academia for an update on the Impeach Bush Movement. Ed Garvey and crew hosted a dress rehearsal in Madison last week, prior to the International Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration, to be held in New York on Jan 20-22, 2006. The Bush Crimes Commission will present to Kangaroo Court the Indictments of the worst administration in the history of human life on earth, and the tribunal will then find them guilty on all counts.
The Charter: This tribunal will, with care and rigor, present evidence and assess whether George W. Bush and his administration have committed crimes against humanity. Well-established international law will be referenced where applicable, but the tribunal will not be limited by the scope of existing international law.
Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tribunal will NOT be limited by the scope of existing international law. The Bush Crimes Commission will not be limited by law. Nope, international law just gets in the way of the performance.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dane County Republican Potential

As a Madison resident, I still feel betrayed and abandoned by the Republican Party. Prior to the Republicans agreeing to a redistricting plan that gave Madison to the Democrats, Capital City was represented from 1991 to 1998 by Republican Congressman Scott Klug. Scott is now working with the Dave Magnum campaign and while the 2nd Congressional District is undeniably weighted toward Democratic votes, an energized Republican base has the potential to tip State races toward Republicans.
Dane County Republicans Will Be Key Everyone knows Dane County is liberal land. What's easy to forget is that our county, as the second largest in the state, is home to many conservatives. Sure, they're significantly outnumbered and often disregarded. … Consider the last presidential election. About 90,370 people voted for President George Bush in Dane County. … The only other Wisconsin counties with more Bush votes in 2004 were Milwaukee (180,287) and Waukesha (154,926).
If there is life in the Republican Party of Dane County it is news to me. I think they still maintain a website … somewhere.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Liberal Buzz Word: Presenteeism

A nominee for the new liberal buzz word of 2006 is Presenteeism, defined as lost productivity that occurs when employees come to work but perform below par due to any kind of illness. Presenteeism is being used as the rationale for liberal attempts to make almost all employment include employer paid sick leave time. Left wing thinking is concerned about income for the poor and this is the latest attempt to use government to mandate income to individuals, other than compensation for work. The political effort to enact presenteeism justified policy has started locally in Madison.
2006 Madison City Council Issues The paid sick leave ordinance proposal initiated by the Healthy Families, Health City campaign will likely come before the full council sometime in February, according to Van Rooy. He says he's unsure of the outcome on the matter (and is unlikely to support the proposal, per earlier comments), with significant numbers lining up both for and against the proposal.
Progressive Dane has a proposed ordinance on the Madison City Council agenda which requires employers to budget and fund paid sick leave for almost all employees in the city limits. An organized group is coordinating this latest in a series of municipal level mandates on people who have chosen to live and work Capital City.
Healthy Families Madison The Campaign introduced an ordinance at the September 20, 2005 Madison Common Council meeting. The ordinance was co-sponsored by nine Alders (Benford, Gruber, King, Knox, Konkel, Olson, Rosas, Verveer, and Webber). … This ordinance would require all employers within the City of Madison to provide their workers with at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours the employees work.
The Healthy Families website lists the Dane County Democratic Party as supporters and I believe Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and his mentor Kathleen Falk will support passage of this anti-business ordinance, if Progressive Dane can deliver the two or three additional votes needed for passage. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin will support this municipal level action because it is exactly what the National Democratic Party is proposing at the Federal Level. Sen. Russ Feingold is a co-sponsor of S.932 Healthy Families Act which pairs with H.R. 1902 Healthy Families Act in the House. (retype the bill number into search screen for text)

Just like the Smoking Ban and Municipal Minimum Wage, the City of Madison probably will enact the nation’s first Mandatory Sick Pay requirement this year. Wisconsin Courts will likely uphold the precedent if there is no direct logical conflict with State law, and good restaurants may be relocating to Monona and Middleton. The Democrats are depending on health care issues for votes and they will savor every policy victory they can achieve.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Forests May Be Bad for Nature

Forests may be bad for the planet according to Stanford University Professor and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Ken Caldeira. According to predictions derived from algorithms programmed into a computer, some forests may be counterproductive to the goal of cooling down the planet.
Forests May Be Bad For Planet Canada's forests may actually worsen global warming rather than cool the planet, says a controversial study by a Stanford University physicist and environmental scientist. This doesn't mean we should bulldoze forests to fight global warming, says Ken Caldeira. Forests are still valuable ecological features in many ways.
I find it hard to believe an environmentalist research scientist is making a serious argument that inappropriate forests are a danger to nature but it’s true.
Temperate Forests Could Worsen Global Warming The researchers used complex climate modeling software to simulate changes in forest cover and then examined the effects on global climate. Their results were surprising. "We were hoping to find that growing forests in the United States would help slow global warming," Caldeira said. "But if we are not careful, growing forests could make global warming even worse."
The environmentalist movement is approaching cult behavior marked by an absolute faith that human activity has the power to overwhelm a 4 billion year old ability to cycle a natural molecule, essential for the existence of life on Earth. In the psychiatric need to validate this tenet of faith, the movement assigns credibility to software prophecy in spite of the rational understanding that no model of reality is real.
Carbon Cycle Modeling Lawrence Livermore modelers have been formulating and testing a suite of models to reproduce carbon absorption, transport, and storage processes. The models cannot possibly incorporate all climate factors everywhere--even Livermore's advanced supercomputers cannot provide that resolution--so modelers must select the most important climatic factors and influences and represent them as well as possible.
Climate models are no different than video games. Trying to build digital mirrors of reality is the same process regardless if you want to create digitally the behavior of a human face, or the behavior of the entire planetary atmosphere.
ICT Graphics One of the “holy grails” of computer graphics is being able to create human faces that look and act realistically. … Our “killer app” would be a device in which a person sit, and after a brief “scan,” yields a computer graphics model of their face that we could stick onto a video game character’s head, or composite into a movie frame for special effects shot. These computer-generated images would be so realistic that they would be indistinguishable from photographs. This level of realism is called Photo-realism.
Over the last several decades computer generated graphics have improved but software modeled human behavior is still beyond human capability.
Technology Review Why its such a hard problem exactly what our eyes detect as wrong in a digital human isn’t yet well understood. But University of Southern California graphics researchers Lewis and Ulrich Neumann are trying to find out. In recent experiments, their group showed glimpses of real and digital faces to volunteers to see if they could tell the difference. The results were striking and frustrating. We spent a year working on these faces, but we couldn’t fool people for a quarter of a second, Lewis says.
So computer models can not correctly model the behavior of a single person, but the climate scientists want to believe their models are correct with a precision necessary to predict the future. The cult of environmentalism has no tolerance for non-believers. In their world view the consensus has been achieved so the virtue of the cause is now beyond scientific skepticism. Skeptics are now deniers who refuse to accept the truth. The problem for the movement is that there are still scientists who understand the scientific method.
Reflections of a Climate Skeptic The advantages of accepting a dogma or paradigm are only too clear. One no longer has to query the foundations of one’s convictions, one enjoys the many advantages of belonging to a group that enjoys political power, one can participate in the benefits that the group provides, and one can delegate questions of responsibility and accountability to the leadership. In brief, the moment one accepts a dogma, one stops being an independent scientist.

The blind adherence to the harebrained idea that climate models can generate “realistic” simulations of climate is the principal reason why I remain a climate skeptic. From my background in turbulence I look forward with grim anticipation to the day that climate models will run with a horizontal resolution of less than a kilometer. The horrible predictability problems of turbulent flows then will descend on climate science with a vengeance.
Conservatives understand that socialism is a flawed approach for achieving a just and prosperous society, but that has not stopped Universities from being filled with well funded socialists. In the same way, the Universities are filled with grant money employees dependent upon the cash flow from uncritical sympathizers. Personally, I don’t care how big a computer is running the software, digital prophecy is simply not science.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Donkeygate Scandal in Iran

Beware the Meat Industrial Complex, especially if it is run by the families of high ranking Mullahs. This is a great example about the pitfalls of excluding the private sector from essential social functions. As scandals go, the US has Abramoff but Iran has Donkeygate.

Regime Sells Donkey Meat for Beef: According to the Islamic regimes media, in recent months the regime has been selling donkey meat to people who thought were buying beef. Two of the larger wholesale meat distributors of Tehran who purchased all the donkeys of villages around Damovand are the source of this scam.

The State Livestock Affairs Logistics (SLAL) and the Government Trading Corporation (GTC) are the two main importers of meat in Iran. The private sector is not allowed to import. It is also known that the entire meat cartel, [including the above-mentioned companies that imported the rotten meat from Brazil and India] is run by the families of high-ranking Mullahs.

Iranian Donkey with Couscous: This is a great Persian dish that isn't too spicy.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb boneless donkey roast, in 3/4 inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 1/4 cups donkey stock
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 ounces white pearl onions, peeled
8 ounces butternut squash or sweet potatoes, in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup pitted prunes
3/4 cup couscous

Heat oil on medium high. Sprinkle donkey with salt and pepper and brown in oil for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and cinnamon, bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir in onions, squash or sweet potato, vinegar, and honey, bring back to a boil Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes until meat and vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, cook couscous in another pot. Add prunes and chick peas to stew, cover, and heat just until mixture returns to a boil (about 2 minutes). Serve stew over couscous.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wisconsin Project Iran Watch Update

The Wisconsin Project is a non-profit foundation run under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin since 1986. The organization goals are tracking and hopefully slowing the spread of nuclear weapons. Over time the scope of interest expanded into biological and chemical weapons as it becomes clear there is a continuing desire to possess products with extreme lethality. In 2004 the Project specifically began tracking events involving Iran and there is a recently updated report for anyone needing to refresh themselves about current events.
Iran Watch Status Report 1/3/2006 Iran has turned down the most promising prospect for compromise: a Russian proposal that would have allowed Iran to continue operating some enrichment-related plants but would have moved uranium enrichment itself to Russia. … Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani officially rejected it on January 1.

On December 23, 2005, the U.S. State Department punished nine entities under the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 for transferring equipment and technology to Iran that could be used in mass destruction weapon programs. The sanctions were reportedly imposed for transfers of missile and chemical weapon-useable material. Six of the nine companies punished were Chinese, and two had been previously sanctioned by the State Department for similar activities.

China, Russia and North Korea have combined to supply Iran’s missiles. Iran’s 1,300 kilometer Shahab-3 missile is essentially an imported North Korean Nodong missile enhanced by Russian technology. … it is widely assumed that if Iran fields a Shahab-4 missile, it will be a copy of Russia’s SS-4 missile. Both the Nodong and the SS-4 can carry a nuclear warhead. North Korea, in addition to selling the Nodong missile, has furnished Iran a fleet of SCUD-B and SCUD-C short-range missiles, plus the factories to make them.

For at least the last decade, Chinese organizations have also sold Iran the ingredients and equipment needed to make poison gas. According to the latest CIA report, Iran has continued to seek “production technology, training, and expertise” from Chinese entities. In 1996, the press reported that China was sending entire factories for making poison gas to Iran, including special glass-lined vessels for mixing precursor chemicals and hundreds of tons of chemicals useful for making nerve agents.
A report in the Guardian yesterday says some Western Europeans are involved in what can only be viewed as a armament buildup in preparation for conflict.
Intelligence Report Claims Nuclear Market Thriving It emphasises that west European engineering firms, germ laboratories, scientific thinktanks and university campuses are successfully preyed on by multitudes of middlemen, front companies, scholars with hidden agendas and bureaucrats working for the Iranian, Syrian or Pakistani regimes.
One hundred years ago in 1906 an earthquake destroys San Francisco and the world is shocked at the magnitude of the damage. Still I doubt the majority of the population would believe that in less than half a century, Europe would be engaged in the factory slaughter of humans. With the hindsight of history none of us should be skeptical about the extremes of human behavior, even in these “modern times”.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Gadolinium Bomb Therapy

“It’s the most lethal cancer there is” according to the UW Madison press release about a potential therapy for the brain cancer Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).
Non-Invasive Brain Cancer Treatment It's the most lethal cancer there is. The only good thing about it is that, if left untreated, death is relatively quick and pain-free, since this tumor does not form painful metastases in other parts of the body," says De Stasio.
Working with the Synchrotron Radiation Center in Stoughton, UW-Madison Physics Professor Gelsomina De Stasio is researching ways to introduce the element gadolinium into the nuclei only of cancer cells. In theory, x-rays would then cause the element to emit electrons that damage DNA in a very narrow area around the gadolinium atoms thus killing only the diseased cells. The process is similar Gadolinium Neutron Capture Therapy - a cancer treatment that De Stasio likens to "making a microscopic nuclear bomb explode in each cancer cell." The difference is that x-rays are used to generate the photoelectric effect rather than using thermal neutrons, which are difficult to generate for clinical purposes.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Was Abramoff Wired?

I usually don't blog about Federal Government “scandals” because most of them turn out to be posing and posturing over minor transgressions, but when an election year starts with guilty pleas to three felonies, there may be enough of an earthquake to do some actual damage to the status quo.
Public Corruption - Jack Abramoff Guilty Plea Jack Abramoff has officially pleaded guilty to three felony charges in Washington, DC.[1] The three charges—conspiracy, honest services mail fraud, and tax evasion—are related to his lobbying activities in Washington on behalf of Native American tribes.

It seems that Mr. Abramoff has been cooperating with prosecutors for 18 months without a plea agreement in place, and that he contacted them “to admit his wrongdoing and to seek forgiveness from those he has wronged. … This minor tidbit is potentially huge. It is fair to speculate whether Mr. Abramoff has been wearing a wire or recording telephone conversations as part of his cooperation during the past 18 months.
Guilty pleas by a prominent Washington lobbyist are especially noteworthy because he turned himself in to the Justice Department 18 months prior to today’s actual court appearance. The press coverage is focusing on Republican contacts but dollars also went to plenty of Democrats. The Washington Post has a nice chart of the top 20 recipients: How Abramoff Spread the Wealth. In fact, the more you delve into the largess the more Abramoff Connections you find among the Democrats.

If Jack wants to spread the guilt around Congress there are plenty of people from both parties with some explaining to do. The comment section at the Free Republic post lists names and numbers: Democrats Don't Know Jack? The speculation has already started about whether this has honest to goodness clear the bums out potential. I suppose that question depends on if Jack wore the wire this last year and a half.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Soglin Blasts Madison City Government

The cracks within the Democratic Party of Wisconsin continue to grow and promise to get ever more visible in this election year. In April 2003, Paul Soglin a six term Mayor of Madison, Lost to Dave Cieslewicz 29,717 to 28,528 after Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk endorsed Cieslewicz and appeared in his television ads. It is interesting that Soglin decided to begin 2006 blogging with a broadside against City Hall.
Inclusionary Zoning - A Lesson for the Left: This is about how a combination of decisions can lead to a series of events culminating in the economic decline of a city. All it takes is a few bad decisions, a lack of credibility and public officials who do not understand the externalities of their decisions. This is about unintended, but foreseen consequences.
Paul indulges in a little historical oversight, pointing out the lesson that free people will move to places that offer them a better life. This mobility of free people is a factor municipal government planning can't make go away.
The flight to the suburbs was not white flight, it was middle class flight. It was just that most of the folks who could flee were white. Those middle class black families that could afford suburban life joined the migration in the 1970's. … With the jobs and the middle class, many cities made valiant efforts to revitalize their core, sometimes with success but always at a price. The cost to the tax basis for renewal was considerable and it was accompanied by gentrification, sometimes unavoidable.
Hizzoner then gets specific about the danger of the progressives running Madison.
Starting in 2003 the city of Madison enacted three new laws, all admirable, all with lofty social goals, and all reflecting the values of its residents: The already stiff smoking ban ordinance was expanded to cover all public places including taverns. The city enacted a city minimum wage ordinance. The city enacted an IZ ordinance. While not enacted, there is also in development at one stage or another, city sick leave and health insurance proposals. There are specifics that are problematic with the IZ ordinance, but as a group these ordinances resulted in a sharp blow to the business community.

Now progressives, absent a fundamental understanding of the role of different levels of government, and unintended consequences they never contemplated, are destroying what they love.
Paul Soglin is a true believer Democrat but even he can tell that the alliance between the UW Madison Socialists like Joel Rogers and Patrick Barrett, and the Environmentalist Democrats like Cieslewicz and Falk, is dangerous to the economic health of Madison.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chicken with Mushrooms

Steve Forbes believes the major international “hot potato” for 2006 will be the showdown with the Mullahs ruling Iran over their nuclear weapon program.
Mushrooming Crisis: Iran's soon-to-be successful push for atomic weapons, not the Iraq war, will be the global hot potato of 2006. All diplomatic efforts to dissuade Tehran from going nuclear have predictably failed. Russia is not going to pull this radioactive chestnut out of the fire, either, even though members of the Bush Administration still pretend it will. … Last month Iran cut a deal with Russia to buy an advanced weapons system that can destroy incoming missiles and laser-guided bombs. Russia also helped Iran launch a satellite that could give early warning of an air attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.
German periodical Der Spiegel is making a splash claiming the US is warning European leaders about impending attacks against Iranian nuclear weapon and military facilities.
Is Washington Planning A Military Strike? According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.
Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House makes his usual coherent and convincing case that the Spiegel story is an intentional leak, specifically planted in the European media and directly aimed at the Iranian government.
Happy New Year President Ahmaninejad This leak is not very subtle in its implications. The reason for that is simple; the United States government feels it absolutely vital that Iran get the message clearly and unmistakably. Also, it is hard to match the subtley of Ahmadinejad whose diplomatic tip toeing resembles an elephant walking across a field of eggshells. Saying you will “wipe Israel off the map” is not very subtle and hence, the response “we will bomb the crap out of you” is entirely appropriate.
The game of chicken has begun and the consequences of bad judgment include the real potential for an exchange of nuclear weapons and a collapse of oil production and delivery to the United States. I still believe both the military and government of the United States have a complete aversion to the use of nuclear bombs, but for the sake of credibility they are taking steps to insure that the old warheads in our possession will work. See: Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW)
An Uncertain Role For US Nuclear Weapons While slashing the funds for the development of bunker busters, US Congress meanwhile approved a seemingly more modest program called reliable replacement warhead (RRW) aimed at maintaining America’s existing nuclear capabilities.

Fears about potential loopholes aside, the adopted RRW program will first and foremost allow the US government to keep its already existing nuclear weapons in proper working condition. And this is an important prerequisite if the US wants to keep a nuclear deterrent in the 21st century. As a former US official explained: “The worst thing to have is the notion that you have a deterrent but it’s based on systems that you can’t rely on.”
We all know that time is a continuum and human events keep moving irrespective of the labels placed on short term segments. Israel is a product of World War Two which was the product of World War One and so forth. The Cold War is over but Russia still exists and while the Kremlin blinked in the game of nuclear chicken, they may want to see what happens if less rational zealots keep pushing, eyes wide open, into the abyss.