Friday, March 31, 2006

Protection from the Evil of Kelo

Governor Doyle dropped his recurring “Dr. No” persona long enough to sign Assembly Bill 657 into law, establishing property rights protection destroyed by the abysmally bad Kelo vs. New London US Supreme Court Decision in June 2005. After defining the term “blighted” the essential sentence reads as follows:
2005 Wisconsin Act 233: Property that is not blighted property may not be acquired by condemnation by an entity authorized to condemn property under s. 32.02 (1) or (11) if the condemnor intends to convey or lease the acquired property to a private entity.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, fresh from their attempt to use government power to take consumer freedom of choice from Wisconsin residents, are rejoicing now that Wisconsin farmland can not be taken by the government and given to Biotech Research Park developers, New Urbanist high density condo builders, or Wal-Mart Super Centers.
New Law Will Protect Against Government Taking: Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Connecticut law condemning private property and turning that property to another private owner for economic development was constitutional. “That ruling showed that Wisconsin needed to change our condemnation law to protect private property from being taken by governments,” said Paul Zimmerman, Executive Director of Governmental Relations with the Farm Bureau. “No one should be forced by government to give up their private property just for the sake of economic development.”
Before the farmers get to hopped up on ethanol fueled celebration it should be pointed out that if Kathleen Falk or the DNR decide they want a piece of "ecologically sensitive" private land, they may well be able to manipulate a seizure of ownership. This updating of the statues is a good and necessary step, but this is just one small skirmish in the eternal struggle between the right of the greater power to take assets and the right of the individual to say “no”.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Socialist Self Dissection

It is worth notice when the intellectual left decide to dissect themselves, and who better than a Jewish academic philosopher and linguist like Britain’s Shalom Lappin. Take for example: “substituting one shrill opinion for its opposite for the purpose of promoting an unchanging Manichean agenda is a mark neither of insight nor of serious judgement”, commenting on iconic progressive Noam Chomsky.

One big problem with being a Jewish liberal is that the focus of the radical left is so fervently anti-American in specific and anti-Western in general, it is leading the historical anti-capitalist movement to side with the enemies of Israel.
Anti-Semitism in the UK: In pursuing this route, the radical left has largely abandoned progressive working class politics in favour of a politics of culture and identity focussed on the anti-Western agenda of Islamism. Rather than supporting democrats, labour unionists, feminists, and anti-racists within the Muslim communities of Britain this part of the left has chosen to embrace Islamism as a potent form of anti-imperialism. In so doing they have produced a new socialism of fools. … Given the lack of credibility currently enjoyed by secular leftwing ideologies in most of the Islamic world, this appears to be a clear case of political opportunism driven by ideological bankruptcy.
Lappin is a devote insider within the theoretical circles of socialist thought, writing with perfect sincerity that the establishment of the American, Canadian and Australian nations are the fruit of ethnic cleansing the native populations. He does, however, present a remarkable analysis of how the Marxist commitment to empower the working class and elevate the lives of those who survive by their labor has been sidetracked by the globalization of financial capital and an irrational distain for free markets.
How Class Disappeared From Western Politics: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the transformation of China into a super-animated, market-driven country, and the disintegration of secular third world nationalist movements in Africa and Asia, militant political Islam emerged as the most potent anti-Western ideology around. Faced with the choice of redefining their ideas in light of current realities or sustaining anti-imperialism as their focus, much of the radical left opted to embrace jihadism as the new incarnation of third world revolution, even while muttering formulaic misgivings over the religio-political project of the jihadists.
When the focus of the left shifted from the goal of improving the lives of ordinary people to simple opposition of western wealth and values, it blinded them to the reality they are providing support to an equally active global movement. A movement that promotes homophobia, the subordination of women, the justifiable killing of innocents and the unchallengeable authority of religion. The far left is so wrong that even the core left is concerned.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Libertarian Prison Story

Rolf Lindgren is currently listed as the press secretary for the Libertarian Party of Dane County and his recent activities are recounted in an Isthmus article from last summer.
Recall Cieslewicz: Local Libertarian leader Rolf Lindgren says enough is enough. He wants the people of Madison to raise up as one to recall Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz as punishment for the city's decision to enact an indoor smoking ban. Lindgren launched an earlier campaign, which failed miserably, to recall Gov. Jim Doyle.
This week Lindgren drops an email to the libertarian website Hammer of Truth which the webmaster decides to cut and paste in unedited completeness, calling it “a must read merely for the satirical and literary value”.
Drug Prohibition: A Prison Story: On July 3, 1990, I was snared in what I soon learned was a new type of crime that hadn’t existed in all annals of human history from 3000 BC until our generation, the reverse-sting drug crime. … However, being an entrepreneurial person in a capitalist country who believes crimes have victims, I foolishly agreed to borrow money and meet Nick and his “friend” David Matthews. I went to the Fairfield Inn on the Madison east side with $10,750 in a Hardees cup.

Of the financial law offenders many were crooks and many were not. One conspired to import 6 garter snakes from Canada, one sold guns to Oliver North and one cut down a Christmas tree on federal land. … There were mayors, assemblymen, prosecutors, CIA agents, city council members, tax resistors, a Federal Reserve Board banker, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s grandson, Pablo Escobar’s cousin, Roger Clinton’s connection, an IRS agent turned drug dealer and Al Gore’s cousin (who was released on January 21, 1993, the day after Al Gore took office).
Absolutely no facts have been checked so believe the story to any degree you desire.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Amnesty Challenges

Today in history courtesy of the Center for Immigration Studies: Mar 28, 1951 - This act enables the exclusion or expulsion of aliens due to their membership or affiliation with a Communist organization. The United States is a government of the people with the unstated assumption that the people are willing citizens of the United States. Political and human rights are distinct topics and America is being challenged to define the difference.

Michelle Malkin has the usual excellent round up of the reactions to Immigration Reform in the Senate and to demonstrations in the streets. How 'Bout Media Guest Workers seizes an excellent point from Thomas Sowell.
Guests or Gate Crashers: How often have we heard that illegal immigrants "take jobs that Americans will not do"? What is missing in this argument is what is crucial in any economic argument: price. Americans will not take many jobs at their current pay levels -- and those pay levels will not rise so long as poverty-stricken immigrants are willing to take those jobs.
In the broadest of brushstrokes the number of illegal residents is a result of business interests exerting influence over legislation and enforcement of existing laws. The millions of individuals and families living outside the law, however, can no longer be ignored. We are not going to fill railcars with bodies so the political question to be answered is how to demand individual responsibility which is the price of human rights while also defining our national expectations about cultural assimilation and validating ways to achieve citizenship.

Amnesty is a word that will become the central point of any political solution and the following variations come from a Federal Bill Comparison PDF File developed by NumbersUSA.
A. EXIT AMNESTY: The lawbreaker is forgiven the crime and not assessed the penalty. The Exit Amnesty waives one or more of the penalties the law currently assesses for illegal immigration, including civil and criminal penalties and bars on legal re-entry. An Exit Amnesty would, however, require illegal aliens to leave the United States.

B. REWARD AMNESTY: The lawbreaker is actually rewarded for lawbreaking by being given the very thing he/she attempted to steal in the first place. In the case of illegal aliens, most are seeking a job in the United States. A Reward Amnesty would give illegal aliens the legal right to work, either temporarily or permanently.

C. INSTANT JACKPOT AMNESTY: The lawbreaker wins the jackpot - he/she is instantly rewarded for breaking our immigration laws by being given lawful permanent resident status and put on the path to U.S. citizenship. Instant Jackpot Amnesties generally are limited to illegal aliens of a certain national origin (e.g., the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act) or who are working in a particular occupation in the United States (e.g., the Special Agricultural Worker amnesty included in the Immigration Reform and Control Act).

D. MULTI-STEP CITIZENSHIP AMNESTY: The lawbreaker is first given a Reward Amnesty (usually through a legal work permit and temporary resident status or “cancellation of removal”). After a period of time and usually after other criteria (e.g., holding a job; paying taxes; working in a particular industry), the formerly illegal alien is given lawful permanent resident status and put on the path to U.S. citizenship.

E. BLANKET AMNESTY: This is basically the Instant Jackpot Amnesty but for the entire population of illegal aliens (minus a few exceptions, such as certain criminals), although it may be limited to illegal aliens who have lived in the United States for a certain period. The “general amnesty” included in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, for example, was a Blanket Amnesty for all illegal aliens who had lived in the United States since January 1, 1982.

F. DE FACTO AMNESTY: This does not immediately reward illegal aliens with legal status but holds out the promise that if they avoid arrest long enough they will be exempted from the penalties for illegal immigration and granted legal status. The now expired Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is a De-Facto Amnesty because it says that all illegal aliens in the country who have the right through jobs or relatives to apply for lawful permanent resident status may do so from within this country with the tacit assurance that they may remain in this country illegally until their name comes up to the top of the list for a green card sometime in the future.
Democrats will paint Republican attempts at organization and control of illegal residents as racist and oppressive measures aimed at harming the poor and peaceful. Progressives dream of millions of Latino voters sweeping them back into power with promises of protection, income and healthcare. This Statism is a great danger to freedom as we cherish the concept and all of us who oppose the socialists need to be clever in the humane re-establishment of workable citizenship laws within our borders.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Green for Governor

I am not emotionally committed to either Scott Walker or Mark Green as the Republican candidate against incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle, but with Walker dropping out of the race I completely support Mark Green. There are already over 40 blog posts up about Walkers decision to withdraw and avoid an expensive and potentially damaging primary fight.

The general consensus is that this is primarily a financial decision by Walker who has raised significantly less money than either Green or Doyle. The ability to make hard decisions based on financial reality is a good trait and one that is serving Walker well as the administrator of Milwaukee County, and that will continue to be an asset valued by the Republican Party going forward. All successful politicians are a balance between ambition and survival and with this action Walker has preserved a bright future within the party.

Governor Jim Doyle "is the most vulnerable governor in the country of either party," according to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman and he absolutely must be ousted. Congressman Green put in his time at the Federal level and early Democratic criticism attempts to imply his loyalties lie more with the National Party than the desires of the citizens of Wisconsin. I believe there is some merit to the charge as evidenced by the fact he refused to condemn the industry driven unjustifiable and unnecessary ethanol mandate, but on the whole this problem is minor at best. At the national level as at the local level, Republican Party policies in general are the best hope of maintaining our prosperous, safe and free society. Doyle must go so vote for Mark Green.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spammer Indictment

IMHO, the only thing worse than spammers are residential telemarketers. Nice to see that some of the email con-men are being caught and ingeniously prosecuted under the more severe Federal mail fraud statutes.
SPAM: Nigerians Indicted: The interesting aspect of this case is that the indictment alleges conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and bank fraud, but not email fraud under the CAN-SPAM Act (15 U.S.C. § 7704). This is likely because the punishment for the first three offenses is far greater than the punishment for sending an email message knowing that the recipient would be misled by the subject heading of the email about material facts represented in the message, as proscribed by section 7704. The punishment for email fraud is up to five years in prison and a fine, while wire and mail fraud carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and bank fraud carries a punishment of up to 30 years in prison.

As we have seen before, prosecutors are required to charge individuals under the most “serious offense that is consistent with the nature of the defendant’s conduct, and that is likely to result in a sustainable conviction.”
By the way, if you believe the million dollar estate of a terminally ill foreigner is looking for Americans to help distribute the wealth to charity … you might be a Democratic voter.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Do Our Cosmic Neighbors Have Cows?

On a more ambitious evening I may try and analyze the relationship between navel gazing and star gazing. RedOrbit links to a picture from the Chilean Very Large Telescope ESO showing a brown dwarf hanging out in our corner of the cosmos.
The Suns New Exotic Neighbor: At a time when astronomers are peering into the most distant Universe, looking at objects as far as 13 billion light-years away, one may think that our close neighbourhood would be very well known. Not so. Astronomers still find new star-like objects in our immediate vicinity.
Astronomers have been avidly trying to peer back to the beginning of time which is the holy grail of universal inquiry, but they have also been working at the mundane tasks of actually trying to catalog our companions of the moment. There is a list maintained of The 100 Nearest Stars in mind numbing technical detail. In a nice touch they also keep a short list of those heavenly bodies that have been recently kicked off.

The Nearby Methane Rich Brown Dwarf of the article raises the question of whether cows exist in outer space. “Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering”. - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Instability In Iraq

Every now and then someone just nails a subject. I wish I had written the following article and I really wish the administration had someone who could explain reality with intellectual clarity, but this comes from a blogger on the Guerrilla News Network.
Instability In Iraq: When one listens to many anti-war arguments, one theme that often reappears over and over again is this claim that the US is creating instability in Iraq. Normally, I would respond by asking who cares? … But after some reflection I have realized what stability they are often referring too.

Before Saddam fell, Iraq was a very stable society. Everybody knew their place. Whatever violence did occur was planned violence organized by the state. Under perfect control. It could be turned on or off upon demand from Saddam, its dictator. …. Everyone lived in fear and no-one stood out. Most people who did not join the thugocracy, simply tried to live quiet lives minding their own business, praising Saddam, and staying below the radar screens of the security forces.

Democracy as it was suggested by the US lead process introduced many confusing new concepts that Iraqis are not familiar with. The notion that power would be passed to weak, passive people who mind their own business and just quietly go about their lives was a novel yet threatening idea. Women would be asked their opinion, meek and quiet people would have the same rights as the traditional thugs. And power would also be distributed by population size, as opposed to the traditional Sunni domination of the Shiites.

Things shall appear very unstable for a while as Iraqis must figure out for themselves what rights they can demand. Until these rights become engrained as normal rights and rights that people can demand without fear, there shall always be those who see intimidation and instability as a weapon of power.
I recommend reading the whole post but skip the sophomoric leftist attacks in the comments. The people who want to believe that the presence of police makes America a police state and that a disciplined military must mean fascism are beyond reasoning. It is hard to become unjustly incarcerated and extremely difficult to get yourself killed by our government. The people of Iraq are the ones who have lived under true oppression and you don’t just snap out of the mindsets that aided survival. Iraq is dangerous today because it was dangerous then and it takes time for populations to adapt to freedom.
PS: Thanks for the Letters in Bottles links Steve and Brad and for the record, celery and macaroni are the two items that should never go into a chili pot.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ethanol Mandate Post-Mortem

The unjustifiable Wisconsin Ethanol Mandate is presumed dead after having been indefinitely postponed in the Senate, but stranger zombies have re-emerged to haunt the helpless masses. Ironically, action at the Federal level may be the key factor in keeping this mandate deceased and harmless while at the same time demonstrating there was no need for this statist anti-market approach in the first place.
EPA Revokes Mandate: (2/15/06) In a move to provide greater flexibility in producing clean-burning gasoline to protect and improve air quality, EPA is revoking the two percent oxygen content requirement for reformulated gasoline (RFG) nationwide. … The revocation takes effect nationwide on May 6 and in California 60 days after the regulation's publication in the Federal Register.
The EPA announcement uses language to imply some noble action to remove a Federal “burden” but the reality is this reversal and backtracking from 1990 Clean Air Act guidelines has more to do with big dollar liability than any sincere appreciation for free markets. It turns out that mandating gasoline have additives to replace the completely demonized lead formulations merely created new environmental problems.
MTBE in Fuels: MTBE has been used in U.S. gasoline at low levels since 1979 to replace lead as an octane enhancer (helps prevent the engine from "knocking"). Since 1992, MTBE has been used at higher concentrations in some gasoline to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Oil Companies to Pay Clean Up Costs: (2/16/2005) LOS ANGELES - Under the terms of a settlement filed today in federal court, several oil companies will pay $1.5 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for costs it incurred while directing the investigation and cleanup of methyl tertiary butyl ether or MTBE, a gasoline additive, from a groundwater basin formerly used for drinking water by the City of Santa Monica.
So while at the State level Sergeant Schultz was working to give Wisconsin citizens one single government approved consumer choice, the oil industry and the Bush administration were figuring out how to keep MTBE from becoming the next Asbestos like permanent lawsuit industry for the trial lawyers. The simple solution is government will stop requiring MTBE and the industry will stop using it within hours of the May 6, 2006 sunrise.
Additive's Demise Pumps Up Fuel Prices: The federal Environmental Protection Agency, responding to more than a decade of concerns that MTBE is polluting water supplies and making motorists sick, recently announced that it would end its oxygenated fuel requirement on May 6. … Although not an outright ban on MTBE, the EPA's action, which follows federal legislation, effectively ends its use because refiners don't want any liability if they continue to use MTBE.
Of course any abrupt change in an essential market will have ripple effects and the ethanol industry is going to get the entire gasoline additive market by default. Absolutely 100% blue sky opportunities without the need for campaign cash to Governor Doyle for his signature.
Ethanol Industry Braces for Growing Pains: Energy analysts said it is unclear whether ethanol producers can manufacture and distribute enough supply once U.S. refiners phase out the use of a petrochemical called methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, which enables gasoline to burn more completely, and thus more cleanly, but carries some public health risks.
It’s the distribution factor that may cause everyone the big headaches because unlike gasoline, or leaded gasoline, or MTBE gasoline, ethanol blends can’t be shipped long distance through pipelines. Expect a lot more heavy truck traffic on the Interstates this summer.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring 2006

Spring! It’s not just the law of the land, it’s the law of physics.
People have been marking and celebrating the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years. The Great Sphinx which was constructed over 4500 years ago on the Giza Plateau in Egypt, faces due east on the Vernal Equinox. The monoliths located at Stonehenge, which are estimated to be over 3000 years old, mark the position of the rising sun on the Vernal Equinox. In Central America the Ancient Mayan Caracol Tower and Temples of the Sun and Moon also have alignments that coincide with the sun’s position on the Vernal Equinox.
Hey Mother Nature, turn up the heat. It’s about time for a little global warming.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Drug Development Tragedy

The initial test of a new drug has gone horribly wrong in London sending all six paid volunteer men into intensive care with multiple organ failure. Monoclonal Antibodies stimulate the immune system and are increasingly used in Cancer Therapy and have promise to treat other auto-immune diseases. The drug from German biotech company TeGenero having passed animal testing was given to establish the human dose and response data.
Catastrophic Immune Response A catastrophic over-stimulation of the immune system may have caused the horrific reactions suffered by six men taking part in the first human clinical trial of an experimental drug. An investigation by New Scientist suggests the drug may have caused a super-immune response – sending white blood cells called T cells rampaging through the body destroying its own tissues.

TGN1412 is a monoclonal antibody but works slightly differently from other similar drugs. It is a “superagonist”, causing a far greater immune cell response. It also does not require a second, specific trigger to kick-start this response, as do other monoclonal antibodies affecting the same T cell receptor.
In other words, part of the human immune system is turned on when two independent switches are simultaneously flipped activivating a T cell to attack a specific target. The two key system, one from the target and one from the antibody, keeps the immune system specific to the target. The experimental drug TGN1412 was designed with the ability to flip both of the activation switches on a specific sub-set of regulator T cells that diminish the immune response. It didn’t work and the company has released a Statement re: TGN1412.

As with all medical tragedies, there are groups that are quick to point blame regardless of the fact that The Risks of Clinical Trials are always present.
Russian Roulette Do you see the man to the right? The one who looks like the evilest German scientist to ever stumble in blood-smeared scrubs out of a Nazi laboratory? Gaze carefully upon the ominous shadowing falling upon his cadaverous features, the inhuman leer. Yes, readers, you are looking upon the horrible visage of none other than Dr. Thomas Hanke, Chief Scientific Officer of TeGenero, whose drug TGN1412 had six men in trials tearing at their skin and screaming.
What this horrific incident shows is the extreme difficulty for human understanding to safely design ways to alter the complex physiology of human health and disease. I strongly suspect that the anti-business left have members that are the most vocal in insisting that someone find a cure for AIDS right now! Drug company bashing has become political sport but this tragedy should remind everyone that effective therapies, much less cures, are expensive to find and develop. Any winners that emerge must also cover the costs of the failures.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Voting to Bring the War Home

The Capital Times takes pride that Wisconsin is spending lots of tax dollars on symbolic votes that by definition have no legal basis to affect anything. By every analysis the anti-war referendum project is simply politics using public funds.
War bellwether: state leads way on anti-war referendums: Groups involved in Madison's anti-war effort include the South-Central Federation of Labor, Dane County Democrats, Four Lakes Green Party, International Socialist Organization, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, the Madison Area Peace Coalition and Madison Ecumenical Center Board. Elected officials who have lent their name to the campaign include Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, State Reps. Spencer Black and Mark Pocan and State Sens. Mark Miller and Fred Risser.
Capital Times Editor John Nichols writing for The Nation titles his article about the anti-war referendum movement Bringing the War Home, which is exactly the danger this surrender and retreat strategy entails. There are large numbers of people in America who willfully refuse to believe that there is a significant danger to our society. The people and organizations listed above truly don’t believe that violence will follow retreating soldiers back to our shores. They do believe that if violence continues in the middle east it won’t harm us in Wisconsin.

According to the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice the wording on the Madison resolution is short and simple: “Should the United States bring all military personnel home from Iraq now?" The simplicity of the wording is an accurate reflection of the simplicity of thought behind the measure.

A Channel 15 news story about today’s Protest Rally attempts balance by quoting a troop supporter saying: “We got ourselves over there to help out the Iraqis.” The truth is we got ourselves over there to defend our country because Iraq, like Afghanistan, is an ideal battleground to defeat those individuals intent on harming us.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A New Al Gore Marketing Campaign

Three inches plus varying amounts of additional snowflakes descend on Madison today making this a routine mid-March weather event. The only regrettable aspect is that temperatures will remain seasonally below normal for the next several days. Once again a good time to remind everyone that Al Gore is a complete environmentalist wacko as evidenced by his latest global warming marketing campaign. The Heartland Institute posts a brilliant rebuttal to “The Loser” and his attempt to find funding and reasons to stay in the media.
Heartland Institute Statement on Gore Global Warming Campaign "Al Gore's call for the media to give free air time and donate huge financial sums to an alarmist global warming effort is a typical Al Gore campaign against scientific independence and a level scientific playing field. This is also typical of the propaganda campaigns and intimidation tactics advocated by global warming alarmists, attempting to 'shame' real scientists by subjecting them to public scorn.

"More than 17,000 scientists have signed a petition calling into doubt global warming alarmism Significantly, many of the scientists are specialists in climatology.

"There is still much to learn about the Earth's climate system. Only partisans, blind alarmists, and scientists more interested in research dollars than dissemination of the truth believe 'the debate is over.' Indeed, to the extent the debate is over, it is because initial alarmist predictions have been completely debunked.

"The only current debate is over whether the moderate warming projected will marginally benefit or marginally harm mankind and the Earth's ecosystems. The early indications are this moderate warming will benefit life on Earth, just as past global warming periods have.

"If Al Gore were indeed more concerned about human welfare than environmental and political posturing, he would ask the media to donate money and air time to halting the current malaria holocaust, from which more than a million people will die this year. Even the New York Times has called for the return of DDT, which effectively combated malaria until activists such as Al Gore banned it due to faulty data and a public scare campaign not unlike his current global warming effort."
Limited supplies of Sore Loserman merchandise are still available.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Safety and Evil Water Towers

In theory, I completely support transport security as an essential requirement for a prosperous society, however, every encounter with the TSA reminds me that we pay a price in liberty for security and the balance should be continually evaluated. Wealthy libertarian John Gilmore raises an interesting question: Within America, do we still have the right to fly without being required to prove who we are?
"Papers, please!" This mantra of totalitarian societies has become familiar to Americans – not from movies, but from their own government. From police encounters to airport security, from political protests to public buses, your right to move around freely without "accounting for yourself" is increasingly challenged. … The 9th Circuit stated in its Gilmore Decision that when traveling by domestic commercial air, citizens had a choice: they could either show ID or submit to additional screening.
The point being that public safety in commercial travel may be adequately assured merely by demonstrating the absence of weapons and, therefore, the government has no legitimate need to establish and record individual identity. The loophole exploited by Al Qaeda on 9/11 was not weapons screenings so much as Hijacking Survival Guidelines calling for passive cooperation with individuals seizing an aircraft. The intention of suicide terrorism is virtually undetectable but it is also unworkable without weapons and docile hostages.

Determining intention is very difficult as illustrated by the two water towers in Plover, Wisconsin. One is good but then there is the Evil Watertower.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Adventure of Travel

Four hours behind schedule the United flight descends slowly in the darkness over Chicago, and from the airline window I see a brightly lit large building surrounded by absolute blackness. My God I think, this must be a Wal-Mart that has killed off the adjacent small business, followed then by the realization that fatigue has sapped my reasoning to the point where I am susceptible to leftist delusions.

The exhausted gate attendants say the last flight to Madison may or may not leave at midnight, so Lola and I pay cash for Van Galder to bus us to the Dane County Regional Airport to retrieve the car. Three hours later we poke into a nearly deserted airport and discover our luggage has arrived a full 20 minutes before us. Shortly after 2 AM we reach home satiated with the adventure of travel.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bay Day 1

John Adams and two companions arrive on horseback in Philadelphia, the largest city in British America with 30,000 inhabitants, on Thursday, February 8, 1776 after a two week ride through bitter winter cold from Braintree, Massachusetts. Departing from Minneapolis in a climate controlled airliner, Lola and I land in San Francisco four hours later in the heart of six million United States citizens living in the Bay Area. The changes over the 230 years between these two points in time are the American Miracle.

Vacation blogging … edited and updated later.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Guilt Envy Indignation and Equality

The interesting quick read of the day: The Stone Age Trinity, which consists of guilt, envy and indignation. Max Border presents the idea that the human mind is hardwired by the evolutionary pressures of surviving as small groups of hunter-gatherers. These three emotions in reaction to perceived inequalities within the group reinforced a relatively egalitarian social structure.

The problem for Marx and all the collectivist derivatives of his thinking is that small group egalitarian systems break down fairly quickly and predictably once a group reaches about 150 individual members.
Now, folks who've encountered Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point may recall the "Magic Number 150." This number seems to be a kind of cut-off point for the simpler forms of human organization. Gladwell reminds us that communal societies -- like those our ancestors lived in, or in any human group for that matter -- tend to break down at about 150. Such is perhaps due to our limited brain capacity to know any more people that intimately, but it's also due to the breakdown of reciprocal relationships like those discussed above.
So much of the political process these days relies on provoking the ancient trinity of emotions from our small group ancestry, regardless of whether or not such feelings offer any appropriate solutions to maintaining peace and prosperity in a population of billions.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Posters and a T-shirt Army

Dr. Sanity turns her formidable analytical skills upon Hugo Chavez, postulating that the Venezuelan strongman is demonstrating the classical signs of Castration Anxiety. El Commandante aims to have two million people trained to march in synchronized groups which will undoubtedly lead to lengthy parades to show off the brand new Russian, Brazilian and Spanish military equipment.
Chavez Prepares His People's Army to Confront US: In the grimy, litter-strewn capital Caracas his face beams out from posters whipping up national pride and warning the gringos: "Watch out, Latin America is coming." … "Chavez is the people" reads the slogan under another Che Guevara-like image. Willing "Chavistas" (supporters of the president) are queuing up to enlist in the new reserve force. … Many work for the state and some have met informally for months, marching without weapons around car parks and sports grounds, their group leaders calling themselves sergeants and colonels and wearing T-shirts saying "Combatant of the Revolution".
I know this is the tropics, but perhaps someone should remind Hugo that May Day is the traditional date to order the subjects into the streets for review.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rummy on Truman

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s speech at the Truman Memorial Library on Thursday is now posted on the Department of Defense website. I recommend starting with the third paragraph and reading the entire text. As usual, Rumsfeld reminds us that the Bush administration is making decisions based on the information of the moment weighed against the historical understanding of our involvement with the world.
Rummy on Truman: But President Truman’s final words to the nation, as President, in 1953, I think ought to offer some comfort to those with questions about the struggle we face today. He said in part:
“Some of you may ask: when and how will the Cold War end?” This is 1953. He said: “when and how will the Cold War end? I think I can answer that simply; the Communist world has great resources and it looks strong, but there is a fatal flaw in their society. Theirs is … a system of slavery. There is no freedom in it, no consent. . . . I have a deep and abiding faith in the destiny of free men. With patience and courage, we shall some day move on into a new era."
And we did. But it wasn’t in that year. Or ten years. Or twenty years later. Or thirty years later. It was forty year later. He was right.
I have always been an admirer of President Truman because his life is testament to the wisdom of American values. He was a common man who achieved great power, used it wisely, and then freely returned to being a common man. In fact, a comparison between the post-Presidential behavior of Truman and Carter demonstrates how completely the Democratic Party has become consumed by petulant and petty opportunists. Hat Tip to Elephants in Academia for the link.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Defense of Marriage Amendment

The Wisconsin Legislature decides the people of Wisconsin need to actively save marriage and will present the following constitutional amendment for citizens to accept or reject.
"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."
I will not vote for this measure because the motivation is purely political self interest, rather than a serious attempt to resolve inequalities within the law. Tampering with the constitution should be the last resort of politicians and this is a spineless admission our elected officials want to avoid doing the hard work of seeking acceptable compromise between groups with differing values.

Any truly satisfactory political solution needs to be based on understanding the difference between abnormal and unnatural. Homosexuality is abnormal sexuality because everything we know about the nature of life reveals that sexual behavior is for the purpose of reproduction. Homosexual orientation, while abnormal is not unnatural in that it clearly arises within a subset of the population. The political issue is how we as a society will decide to apply values of right and wrong to our naturally occurring minority populations.

Marriage is an approved union between a man and a woman and the homosexual rights movement is wrong to attempt the redefinition of this historical word. It is important to understand that marriage is a social construction conferred and supported by organizations. The emotional bonds between individuals exist independently of institutional guidelines and while granted rights and expectations can influence feelings it is ultimately mutual agreement that keeps two individuals together.

Marriage should remain marriage, but if we are a society based on the idea that individual rights are the source of just governance, then there needs to be legitimate alternatives to marriage. Achieving valid recognition of the rights of non-married couples will require rewriting existing laws but that is preferable to partisan gamesmanship with our constitution.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Fraud of Academic Expertise

Michael Strong writing for TCS Daily makes the case that academic expertise, outside of the hard sciences, is a fraud being sold to a public conditioned to trust professors of higher learning.
Put Your Money Where Your Theory Is: The credibility of academia is based on the notion that professors are "experts in their field" who have achieved their position by means of a track record of exemplary scholarship. In the hard sciences, where "exemplary scholarship" is based on scientific work that is consistent with empirical research, this credibility is based on a solid foundation. Outside the hard sciences, the foundation for the credibility is more tenuous.

But without a responsibility to compare their conclusions with empirical realities, academic disciplines float off into the ozone. … Academics outside the natural sciences play shenanigans and their stock just keeps floating in thin air. … For the past hundred years we have assumed that the university "brand name" that gave us science and technology could also supply high quality thought, decisions, and judgment regarding politics and society. We were wrong. What to do now?
The Author heads up an organization named the Flow Project and he is most defiantly not a conservative in the current use of the term. What he has realized, however, is that leftist socialism has corrupted classic liberalism and needs to be purged from the educational culture.
Taking the Left Out of Liberal: We liberals should sharply distinguish “liberal” from “Leftist.” The latter characterized by anger, hatred, bullying, intransigence, and intellectual dishonesty. These spiritual diseases, legacies of the French Revolution and its Terror, began to infect liberalism in the early 20th century. This ugly spirit has contaminated much of academic life outside the hard sciences, economics, and business schools. As a consequence, many of the ideas and attitudes in the humanities and social sciences are profoundly, tragically misguided.
Conservatives who have been paying attention these last six years should understand the ivory towers need a thorough housecleaning. I suggest starting with the budget.