Friday, June 30, 2006

Lola's New Car Day

Excellent choice Lola! One sparkling, shiny, Barcelona red metallic, brand spanking new 2007 Camry with a 268 horsepower six cylinder acceleration generator. This ain’t no Chicken Little, western civilization is ending hybrid machine. A six CD player and one moon roof appropriate for night racing on those high banks at Bristol. Maybe next year, you will play the Kelly Bires role and beat Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart at Madison International.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Creating Outcast Americans

This CNN headline, presented as a quote from a federal official, is absurdly false.

Surgeon General: No safe level of secondhand smoke.

NO SAFE LEVEL. There are no qualifications, no mitigating factors, no dose levels or exposure durations without risk to safety. The laws of physics are proportionate but molecules dispersed in air possess an absolute. - I don't think so. - Passionate hatred has a way of purging reason from thought and anti-smoking zealots hate tobacco.
Killing the Passive Smoke Debate: But none of this has the least impact on the various federal, state, and city agencies and organizations like the American Lung Association for a very good reason. They already know they’re scientifically wrong. The purpose of the passive smoking campaign has never been to protect non-smokers, but rather to cow smokers into giving up the habit. It’s easy to agree with the ultimate goal, but inventing scientific outcomes and shutting down scientific debate as a means is as intolerable as it was when Nazi Germany “proved” the validity of eugenics.
The corruption of science for political ends is one of the most disturbing trends in public discourse. Activists working to manipulate emotions shamelessly concoct horror stories that are a mix of objective numbers like “126 million nonsmoking Americans”, and subjective concepts like safety. The hodge podge intends to imply the conclusions are true so the recommendations should be followed.
What Risk? Some general principles emerge. (i) Since all organisms have repair mechanisms against environmental damage, there are thresholds for all damaging agents. Therefore, extrapolation from high dose rates to very low levels does not make sense. (ii) Doses and dose rates should not be confused. (iii) There are very large species differences in response to damaging agents. (iv) Unrecognized variables lurk everywhere. (v) The costs of enforcing demonstrably false standards are huge.
The anti-smoking advocates consciously choose to use psychological tactics on the American public. One milestone is making indoor smoking socially unacceptable. The next goal is to make individual smokers into social pariahs to be shunned and avoided. The method is to create fear in the public in excess of reasonable and justifiable concerns.
Wisconsin Tobacco Control Policies: By 1986, health advocates began to mobilize for action that favored an institutional rather than an individual strategy. ... 1986 Surgeon General’s Report on environmental tobacco smoke, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking.” This report transformed the nature of the debate about smoking from one of “personal right” to “harm to others.”
Truth is good and liberty is good and safety is good, but pursuit of the risk free life at the expense of honesty and freedom is unworthy of the medical profession.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Futures So Bright...

A little food for thought for our local lovers of government planning.
The Most Optimistic Country in the World: For 70 years, Mohandas Gandhi's myopic vision of backward-looking socialism as a template for national advancement was accepted as revealed wisdom by a string of Indian prime ministers, starting with his acolyte, Nehru.
So what happens when a free population decides to stop living how wise and compassionate leaders instruct them to behave, and start using their liberty to pursue their desires?
Forbes Magazine's Rich List last year placed India eighth in terms of the number of billionaires. The number of millionaires trebles every three years. Today, street peddlers pack cellphones.
The economic evolution of Asia is shaping up to be a contest between market driven India and authoritarian driven China. For the last decade the world has focused on the explosive growth in China, aided by a communist leadership willing to command the movement of mountains (literally) to achieve economic growth. Less apparent is the maturation of India into a productive modern society. If history is any lesson, the future will favor societies that are not afraid of the liberty and mobility of their populations.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Madison Traffic Calming

Shortly after Kathleen Falk manages to swing the Mayoral election to Dave Cieslewicz, city streets which work just fine during any number of Paul Soglin administrations begin to collect lumps, bumps and permanent obstructions. From the very beginning, this incarnation of Madison City government is intent on traffic calming. I was saving this link for a later post but Vicki McKenna beats me to the punch this afternoon.
A Desire Named Streetcar: PROPONENTS OF TRAFFIC CALMING--mostly government planners--not only oppose new highway construction and, in some instances, highway maintenance, but want to reduce mobility by installing roadway barriers and traffic-slowing devices that clog up the roads. In other words, rather than alleviate congestion, traffic calming aims to induce it.

Why create congestion? The goal is to make driving as undesirable as possible, thereby discouraging sprawl and encouraging people to live in high-density areas, where they will either ride mass transportation or walk. Since most cities have trouble filling seats on their money-losing transit systems, traffic calming is also another way to try to make these systems more financially justifiable.
Immediately upon obtaining administrative power Cieslewicz aggressively pursues the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan. The expressed purpose of the plan is for reducing the “negative effects of motor vehicle use” and to “alter driver behavior”. Traffic calming works by creating physical barriers to smooth traffic flow including, “removal of excess pavement width in some areas” and eliminating straight lanes in order to "vertically deflect and horizontally shift the vehicle driver's path, causing the driver to devote more attention to the task of driving". In other words, the entire point of traffic calming is to make driving more difficult and more time consuming for citizens.

The Kathleen Falk – Dave Cieslewicz wing of environmentalist Democrats share a core belief that human life should not be dominant over nature, and it is the proper role of government to regulate human behavior for minimal impact on the natural world. Cieslewicz leaves his job at the Nature Conservancy specifically because it is not active enough in pursuing political changes. He creates 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, modeled on a Portland, Oregon organization.

Organizations like catchy phrases and Mayor Dave picks the slogan: "Perfecting the places we live and protecting the places we don’t". It is a brilliant summation of what the eco-socialist movement believes. People should only live is certain places so that the damage humans inflict on nature can be minimized. The more people that can be crowded into small spaces the more nature can be protected, and the more efficiently government services can operate to perfect the lives of the subjects.

Idling in line while trying to get off the beltline, or weaving slowly around islands of dirt in intersections, or steering crooked paths through paint lines on otherwise straight streets are not natural to Madison. These are political problems, intentionally created by this administration in the foolish hope that people will abandon their love of personal freedom and embrace more limited and restricted lives.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A 10K Government Grant to All

After NASCAR I get sucked into a C-SPAN rebroadcast of a program from last April, where American Enterprise Institute fellow Charles Murray is discussing his latest book titled In Our Hands. This self-proclaimed libertarian writer from a conservative think tank “suggests eliminating all welfare transfer programs at the federal, state, and local levels and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone age twenty-one or older.”
A Plan to Replace the Welfare State: The place to start is a blindingly obvious economic reality that no one seems to notice: This country is awash in money. America is so wealthy that enabling everyone to have a decent standard of living is easy. We cannot do it by fiddling with the entitlement and welfare systems--they constitute a Gordian Knot that cannot be untied. But we can cut the knot. We can scrap the structure of the welfare state.
Is income redistribution acceptable as a way to rid ourselves of the expensive, damaging failure of the welfare state? Murray has a long research career understanding the reasons why government paternalism destroys the value systems required to create prosperity with justice. His writings were influential in achieving welfare reform in the 1990’s and now he is selling a plan to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and the entire entitlement travesty in one fell swoop. Career liberal UW Madison Professor of Philosophy Harry Brighouse finds the proposal somewhat familiar.
Crooked Timber: The central proposal is for a basic income grant of $10,000 per year for every citizen aged 21 and above. There are two catches. The first is that everyone must spend $3000 of that grant on a basic health care package … The second is that all other government welfare programs … would be abolished to pay for the grant. … This is a case of the left having the ideas, and the right adopting and selling them.
Just as the left reluctantly had to acknowledge ideas from the right on welfare reform last decade, the right needs to recognize that poverty and healthcare are problems continuing to drive votes towards socialist elements in the Democratic Party. Expunging Marxist influenced government programs will require a meaningful political solution to both issues. Still, I question whether direct cash payment is a good solution and Gioblog points out the primary concern.
Gioblog: Creating a single number that applies to every American is an invitation to overwhelming political pressure. Now, in the case of a flat tax, where the same federal income tax rate applies to everyone, the effect is ingenious in creating a massive political constituency to keep the number (the rate) DOWN, which is good. But in the case of Murray's plan, in which he creates in effect a guaranteed minimum income for every American, the number would create a massive political constituency to continually RAISE the number, which would be a disaster.
The goal should be to maximize liberty by minimizing dependence upon government and I am more inclined to support measures which protect a persons first $10,000 of income from any government seizure.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mark Green Warns Against Vote Fraud

Republican Party will not accept voting fraud this November. The June 21st letter about Voter Registration from future Governor Mark Green and Congressman Sensenbrenner.
Kevin Kennedy
Executive Director
Wisconsin State Elections Board
PO Box 2973
Madison, Wisconsin 53701

Dear Kevin:

We understand that the Wisconsin State Elections Board (SEB) will be meeting this Friday, June 23, 2006 to again re-evaluate the state's compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) as it pertains to voter registration. We write today to urge the board to revert to its original decision back in January that stated if a person has a valid driver's license they must provide their license number when registering to vote.

We are aware that a letter was sent to you on June 13, 2006 by John Tanner, Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), that clearly indicates the decision made by the SEB to allow the last 4-digits of a person's Social Security number for registration purposes, even if the person has a valid driver's license, violates federal law.

Along with the June 13th letter, you should have received a copy of the letter written to us from William E. Moschella, Assistant Attorney General in the office of Legislative Affairs at USDOJ on June 6th that again clearly indicates HAVA's requirement that if a person has a valid driver's license, they must provide that number for voter registration purposes.

The evidence against the SEB's decision to allow for a person to register with the last 4-digits of a Social Security number even if they have a valid driver's license is undeniable. We would strongly urge the SEB to revert to its January 18, 2006 decision rather than waste taxpayer money by fighting a potential federal lawsuit.

Sincerely, Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Congressman Mark Green
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Wisconsin State Election Board has decided to Violate the Law anyway. The only reason to break the law is when following the law prevents you from obtaining your goal, so what could the State Elections Board desire?

Friday, June 23, 2006

KELO ... Kelo oh oo

KELO … Kelo oh ooo – daylight come and me wanna come home. Republicans understand your right to your own your home is not for sale to the highest bidder. Madison newspapers should ask Dave Cieslewicz and Kathleen Falk and Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold if Bush did something good. Any hesitation from an unqualified yes is a sure tell of socialism.
Republican George W. Bush Executive Order: By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.
DANEgerous has more reminders that the Liberals on the Supreme Court are the people who believe the humanely conceivable achievable greater good is always, always, always more important than private property rights.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Streetcars Of Desire

A quick and simple way to distinguish a sales pitch from business analysis is how the pros and cons of a decision are handled. The one page notice for this evenings Streetcar Opportunities Forum lists four positive points and no negative considerations, so this is simply Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Infomercial Professional Charlie Hales putting on their version of a “Make Money in Real Estate with No Money Down”, huckster pitch to the suckers.

Charles Hales is a former Portland, Oregon City Commissioner who was the lead individual in getting a streetcar system built in the city. He points out that streetcars are not light rail because street cars require miles of wire to be suspended overhead, breaking up sightlines like some gigantic overhead spider web. Hales is currently with HDR Inc. which is an engineering consulting firm on the prowl for new work. Hales job is to find projects for HDR, Inc. and they smell money in Madison. How much money? Charlie Hales gives hints in his 2002 exit interview.
Your business card says you're now a transit planning principal. What does that mean?

It means I'll be doing a combination of streetcar projects and planning projects around the country. There's a rising interest in the streetcar. It's really a new tool in the transit tool kit. There have been subways for a long time. There has been light rail for the last 30 years, and there have been buses for, you know, 50 years or longer. But the streetcar is really a different animal than the other forms of transit. … It's for circulation within an urban area, not to bring people in for jobs or entertainment and then back out at high speeds and high volumes. And it's much cheaper.

How much cheaper?

The typical light-rail project is $50 million to $100 million a mile. The streetcar was $12 million a mile. So there are lots of cities that can afford to build a streetcar that couldn't afford to build a light rail.
Twelve million dollars a mile to take away existing roadway in downtown and clutter up the skyline with wires and the streets with tracks. Twelve million dollars a mile and it does not get people to and from work. Long term operational costs are another matter and of course, structure alone does not guarantee ridership. Ridership depends on convenience as Hales admits.
There's nothing wrong with the streetcar. Its goes fast enough once you get on. How many of them there are on the track at any given time determines how long you have to wait for the next one.

So we could have streetcars every five minutes?

Absolutely. You can have streetcars every three minutes. It's a matter of money.
It’s a matter of taxpayer money and Mayor Dave and his allies, Downtown Trolley and Dane Rail and Transport 2020, want lots and lots of it for his favorite pet project.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Load It Launch It

Q and O ask an excellent question.
Taepodong-2: Anti-missile defense drone?: I can't imagine a more fitting response to the impending North Korean missile test than success in shooting the missile down (assuming our system works as advertised). They test their missile, we test our missile interceptor. Let's face it, we only have the word of a notoriously unreliable regime that it's a test. Once the missile clears North Korean air space, it becomes fair game.
There is buzz on the net that President Reagan’s vision of a missile defense is coming of age, exactly at the time it is needed most. Back in the day, a fear of death could make mutually assured destruction a viable way of keeping missiles in the tubes. The real problem of the 21st century is the rogue launch.
Star Wars Now: Remember the scoffing when Ronald Reagan first proposed a ballistic missile defense? A typical example: in 1985 an aide to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin, the Wisconsin Democrat, announced, "Star Wars research is an imprudent use of taxpayers' dollars. By continuing it, we're essentially throwing money into a bottomless pit."
I had a few earlier thoughts on the subject here. I have no doubt every military on the planet would love the see the experiment simply to learn how good United States technology has become. The real kicker is that North Korea has invested their national pride in a rocket propelled by a liquid fuel so corrosive it eats metal. If they load it they will launch it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Emerald Ash Borer Problem

The problem with a pure love of nature is occasionally nature acts in destructive ways, forcing the question how much money should be spent fighting Mother Nature. The Capital Times points out the issue in a story about a bug, the Emerald Ash Borer, at the borders.
City to protect or remove threatened ashes: Andrea Diss-Torrance, an entomologist with the DNR, told The Capital Times today that the clear-cutting technique is successful if a small "pioneer colony" of emerald ash borers is found. … Eddy said the state is planning to fund initial efforts against the emerald ash borer, but if funding dries up, the borer's bite might become big. "In Indiana there wasn't enough funding to eradicate it so nothing's been done," she said.
In typical Capital Times disregard for the accuracy, there are absolutely no plans to protect individual trees. The City and County will completely participate in the Wisconsin DNR plan for killing and burning of every healthy Ash tree in a half mile area around any discovered infested tree. It makes no difference if the trees are public or private property. The DNR has little respect for private property and they are intent on saving nature from nature, even if it means sacrificing the lives a few trees so that the majority of the trees can live in safety.

A little green beetle from Asia called the Emerald Ash Borer is drifting outward from its original point of discovery in 2002 near Detroit, Michigan. The larval stage of the insect has killed millions of Ash trees. Michigan is working on Treatment/Control Options which include a USDA Quarantine of wood products. Last week the bug was confirmed in Kane County, Illinois just west of Chicago.

The question the DNR should answer is if Ash trees on private property can be shielded from state mandated destruction by use of one of the insecticide treatments proven to work against the beetle. This is a serious question because memories of Dutch Elm disease still haunt government officials and the clear cutting of healthy trees was an abysmal failure at stopping the beetle transmitted fungal disease, despite the huge amounts of public funds spent for the purpose.

I suspect the emerald ash borer, like the elm bark beetle, will not even notice a half mile clear cut zone. Ecosystems are constantly disturbed and they rebound back with changes and adaptations. After four years on the North American continent there is some evidence that natural predators are emerging to take advantage of this shift of the fauna. Still, nature works on much longer timeframes than government employees paid to believe they have a duty to keep nature natural, even if it means interfering.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Iraq Amnesty Plan

Discussing proposed amnesty conditions for Iraqi insurgents, the post Amnesty-Expediencey-Failure at Badger Blog Alliance catches my attention with this statement. “This is a slap in the face to the people who shed their own blood and gave their lives so the Iraqis could come to terms - in peace.” I disagree.

The word amnesty has become contentious in conjunction with the debate over immigration control and illegally present residents. For the problem of ending the violence in Iraq, however, amnesty is probably an essential requirement for achieving peace. Despite the despicable way the press has covered the war in Iraq, a better society is being created by political methods under American military protection. The violence will end when the political opponents of the new government cease fighting and join the political process.

Perhaps a better word than amnesty would be forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of our core western values and forgiveness is what ends conflict. Iraq is subduing internal insurgency in a society that has been ruled by power rather than rule of law, therefore, it is absolutely essential the insurgents believe an honest offer that if they stop fighting, they will not be pursued and persecuted. A cycle of violence ends when both the victors and vanquished accept the reality of past events and agree not to pursue retribution. This is a truth Abraham Lincoln knew and Republicans should understand.

To bestow amnesty and mercy upon political insurgents removes their last major reason to continue fighting. Forgiveness is what differentiates the new government from Saddam’s oppression. Personally, I believe there is no better way to honor the sacrifice of our troops than to insure a permanent peace results from their actions.

Friday, June 16, 2006

National Popular Vote Proposal

The coalition of Democratic Party interest groups is in high level disarray but there are individual organizations within the aggregate mix that are funded, focused and working towards their goals. Althouse links to early coverage of the National Popular Vote proposal, to adjust the constitutional method of conducting the Presidential elections. This horribly bad idea needs to be addressed in a serious way.
A Horribly Bad Legislative Idea: Legislative houses in Colorado and California have recently approved this plan, known as the National Popular Vote proposal, taking it partway to passage. Other states, too, are exploring the idea of a binding compact among states that would oblige each of them to throw its electoral votes behind the national popular-vote winner.
This is an attempt to subvert one of the foundation principles of our constitution, by legislating circumstances where a state MUST cast Electoral College ballots for the winner of the national Presidential vote tabulation, REGARDLESS of the state’s Presidential vote tabulation. This is an attempt to override one of the primary structural safety checks against tyranny written into our constitution.

America is Federal Republic composed of individual states, which utilizes democratic public voting within a multiple step process to determine a legitimate Presidential leader. The Electoral College is insurance against the mob rule potential of pure democracy. It is a federal right granted to the states with the passage of the constitution. It can not be modified at that state level without federal approval.

More importantly, the rational for the Electoral College is intimately entwined with the logic granting two Senators to each state. If the historical reasoning creating the Electoral College is wrong, then two Senators from each state are also no longer justifiable. Elements within the Democratic Party desire a pure unfiltered “winner takes all” popular vote Presidential election, which creates opportunities for individuals like Hugo Chavez to seize power. The National Popular Vote proposal needs to be aggressively rebuked whenever it is presented for consideration.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Taming Global Capitalism

One of the repeated phrases in the conservative blogosphere is, to paraphrase, ‘we should believe what they say’. This comes up in discussions about Iran’s desire to create the chaos required for the return of al-Mahdi, the 12th Imam. It is an equally valid tactic when assessing the intentions of the socialists within the American Democratic Party.
Taming Global Capitalism Anew: One of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century was a social contract that provided far more economic security and prosperity for working Americans than had existed in any previous period. But successive waves of changes in the world economy, together with the ascendancy of a strain of economic philosophy that puts the freedom of capital above the interests of society, have placed enormous strain on the postwar social contracts of all Western countries, resulting in stagnating wages, greater insecurity and levels of income and wealth inequality not seen since the early 1900s.
UW-Madison’s very own Sociology Professor is clear the new socialist revolution needs to begin in the United States. Changing the world starts by seizing the power necessary to implement leftist ideas, because power achieves when persuasion fails.
JOEL ROGERS: American progressives have lots of ideas on the alternative international rules and institutions in monetary policy, finance, trade, human rights and development needed to make globalization work better for the North and South. What we lack is the power to implement them. … We should build a high-road--high-wage, low-waste, democratically accountable--economy right here. Doing so will give focus to domestic efforts, connect them practically to international ones and eventually yield the organization, experience and confident social base we want to contribute to global fights. Building the high road here should be at least half of any international strategy.
A Columbia University Nobel Prize winning economist contributes his two cents.
JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Yet Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries have shown that there is an alternative way to cope with globalization. These countries are highly integrated into the global economy; but they are highly successful economies that still provide strong social protections and make high levels of investments in people. They have been successful in part because of these policies, not in spite of them. Full employment and strong safety nets enable individuals to undertake more risk (with the commensurate high rewards) without unduly worrying about the downside of failure. These countries have not abandoned the welfare state but have fine-tuned it to meet globalization's new demands. We should do the same.
The good Professor may have a stable income, a good resume and a fancy circle of admirers, but as an economist offering Sweden as the model the United States should emulate he is simply wrong and wrong.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Quiet Hum of the Status Quo

Yawn … too quiet around here. Where’s Dave?

Wisconsin District 2 : Based on Federal Election Commission data released on Thursday, June 01, 2006 incumbent Tammy Baldwin (D) is banking $544,572 vs. $65,547 for challenger David Magnum (R). This may explain the quiet hum of the status quo.

Looks like it’s going to be pretty uneventful in all but one of the Wisconsin Congressional Races. I am so happy the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act is keeping money from producing competitive choice. I’m sure Russ, humble and modest to a fault, will probably give all the credit for pre-ordained outcomes to computer assisted gerrymandering, but there is no need for self effacing humility Senator. Your efforts towards protecting job security are well known.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Democratic Plan for Ruling America

The current composition of the Democratic Party makes their leadership my enemy. This has nothing to do with violence, but rather with the understanding that achieving their goals requires a price I am unwilling to pay in terms of personal liberty. The people to fear are not the moonbats and the adrenaline liberals. The people to fear are the ones with money, votes and detailed plans for government control of the population.

The real test of American political will is not until the 2008 free for all Presidential election. Do not believe talk from the left or the right about the Democrats not having a plan. The plan is called New Energy for States and this 50 page PDF files outlines the issues and solutions the Socialist Democrats intend to pursue.

Success depends on selling the absolutely false myth of catastrophic androgenic global warming, combined with our real challenge of energy supply and distribution. Infusing all policy goals is the open desire to seize government for the purpose of controlling America’s prosperity and security.
(Page 5 Introduction) The United States faces an energy crisis, and an amazing energy opportunity. The crisis is our current dependence on an outmoded fossil-fuel energy system. This is simultaneously speeding environmental degradation, missing economic opportunity, and making our country less secure. The opportunity is that we have the natural resources, technical ingenuity, and manufacturing and other capacity needed to achieve, relatively quickly, far cleaner energy generation and far greater energy efficiency. Seizing that opportunity would have enormous benefits to our quality of life, our national security, and our prosperity. It will also help save the planet from the mounting threat of global warming.
Government control of profit.
(Page 10) This regulatory approach — called “decoupling” — indexes retail rates to sales volume. If volume drops because of energy conservation, rates are adjusted upwards. If volume increases and the increase was preventable, rates are adjusted downward. By holding utility profits constant irrespective of sales, volume becomes irrelevant.
Government control of markets.
(Page 11) Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are a tool states can use to require utilities to increase their use of renewable energy sources over time, thus creating a stable market for renewable energy in the state. ... A Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) establishes a minimum content of renewable fuel that refiners must blend with traditional gasoline.
Worker owned rural collectives.
(Page 15) As the cost of agricultural inputs continues to rise and prices of commodities fall, farmers need ways generate more revenue. Instead of only growing and selling commodities, many farmers have formed agricultural cooperatives to process crops and return added value to producers, rather than leaving these profits to middlemen.
Government control of land use.
(Page 30) Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a style of development that makes walking, bicycling, or taking transit a desirable mode of transportation. More than simply building near rail stations, TOD requires careful consideration of the mix of homes, shops, offices, parks and other land uses, the layout of these land uses, and the design of the physical environment.
Government control of permissible energy use.
(Page 35) The most common energy bond strategy is to couple efficiency retrofits, which yield quick and sizable cost savings, with renewable projects that take longer to pay off, but work toward the long-term goal of weaning America off fossil fuel. Combining these projects under one bond allows states to meet two goals — decreased energy use and a stronger renewable energy infrastructure — and still enjoy a relatively short payback period.
Wage Control.
(Page 38) Job Quality Standards most commonly take two forms: wage standards and mandates for employer-provided healthcare. … Under wage standards, employers must pay the going market rate to employees. The rate can be tied to the state or regional median or average wage, or to the prevailing wage in a particular industry.
Investing pension funds in “government-owned infrastructure”.
(Page 37) One emerging approach is to invest this pension money into energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for government-owned infrastructure. Energy savings resulting from these infrastructure upgrades are then used to repay the capital costs of the programs, plus an investment fee to the pension funds. Once the program has been paid off, the state receives revenue in the form of decreased energy costs.
What is the technical definition of pension fund looting? Control land use and control energy use and wages and profits in the cities, and let communes flourish in the farmlands required to feed those cities. This is all fancy new wrapping around some discredited old theories.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Let the Entertainment Begin

The political improv act with the most entertainment potential is underway.
Peg Attacks: “If she lacked the commitment to the Democratic Party to delay joining until she was 45 years old, can Wisconsin Democrats really count on her to stand up and take action for what they believe in?”
At first glance I thought the incumbent Attorney General was invoking the spirit of Ronald Reagan: "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." But wait, this is a Democratic Primary challenge and Miss Peggy is absolutely going to argue about personal traits rather than public issues.
Kathleen Reacts: “Lautenschlager’s negative attack on Kathleen Falk on the eve of the Democratic State Convention shows how desperate Lautenschlager is,” said Falk Communications Director Adam Collins. “I guess we know what kind of campaign we can expect from Peg Lautenschlager.”
Huh? Sending the manservant to point out Miss Peggy is a mean girl? No spin about joining the Party after mature reasoned consideration of principal, as opposed to habitual behavior adopted in some adolescent hormonal flush of emotion. Seriously Kathleen, this is Miss Peggy talking about your age in public. At least go after her wardrobe. I guarantee a few snide remarks about her inability to coordinate accessories will get you more press coverage than rattling off a list of your endorsements.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Wisconsin State Journal Calls for Help

Wisconsin State Journal Editor Ellen Foley writes an editorial for the Sunday edition. She begins by describing how everything is fine in the newspaper business, then promptly follows with her professional understanding of the problem facing the newspaper business, finally ending with a plea for someone in the public to provide her with ideas.
Help Chart the Future of News: We are in the midst of a cultural transition that is shattering the media landscape as it divides two of the most privileged generations: the Baby Boomers and their children. The older generation prefers the slow and thoughtful media of the newspaper that generates a community conversation. The younger generation demands the fast, free media of the Web that resolves stress and chaos in their lives.

Playing out here is an age-old conflict between the values of community versus the individual. Journalists will almost always choose to write about a conflict unless given a better angle. To balance this story we need to invite some new voices from people who can imagine a solution. I open up my inbox to you at
What strikes me as missing in Ms. Foley’s analysis, is understanding the contest between the internet and print media is about accurate information and acknowledgement that all reporting is subject. The internet makes source checking available to the public and there is no value added when newspapers are simply filling space by passing on press releases verbatim and doing local reprints of purchased press reports.

Several of Ms. Foley's recent press journalism claims of fame, are stories based on uncritical acceptance of information from unnamed and anonymous government sources. The press has always been willingly manipulated by politicians, so stop pretending no one in the industry has personal opinions that inevitably manifest themselves in the words selected for inclusion and highlight, and those words left out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Swedish Socialism Update 2

Several weeks ago an article delving into the problems with Swedish socialism caught my attention and I write a few comments on it here. Swedish author Johan Norberg confirms and expands on the fact that “Long the paragon of social democracy, the Swedish model is rotting from within.”
Swedish Models: THE SOURCE of the problem was the fatal irony of the Swedish system: The model eroded the fundamental principles that had made the model viable in the first place. The civil service is a powerful example of this phenomenon. The efficiency of the civil service meant that the government could expand, but this expansion began to undermine its efficiency. According to a European Central Bank study of 23 developed countries, Sweden now gets the least service per dollar spent by the government.

Since 1995 the number of entrepreneurs in the European Union has increased by 9 percent; in Sweden it has declined by 9 percent. Almost a quarter of the population of working age does not have a job to go to in the morning, and polls show a dramatic lack of trust in the welfare system and its rules.

The real worry is that Sweden and other welfare states have reached a point where it is impossible to convince majorities to change the system, despite the dismal results. Obviously, if you are dependent on the government, you are hesitant to reduce its size and cost.
In a very broad sense, American society is facing two major problems. The first is the acute flare up of Islamic religious violence across the planet. The second is a more chronic condition where the role of government continually expands with destructive consequences for the principles of individual liberty and individual responsibility. Socialists who believe their failures in Russia and Eastern Europe were due to institutional corruption rather than flaws in the concept are being given another victim to autopsy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gestures of Good Faith

In all the discussion about the killing of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (may eternity return to back to you the suffering of your willful creation) a comment on Rick Moran’s commentary piques my interest.
Badge 2211 Said: The killing of Zarqawi is great news and I have a different take than Rick does about its effect on the insurgency. Was it just a coincidence that 600 Sunni prisoners were released just a day before? Was it also a coincidence that right after the disposal of that Zarqawi trash can that the three most important slots after PM were filled (Interior, Defense and National Security)?

I think not. This could very well be the tipping point in the war against the Sunni insurgency aided and abetted by the demise of Zman and a political resolution to what was becoming a dangerous and bloody deadlock for the duly elected Iraqi government. Ahmadinejad and his agents in Iraq could suddenly find themselves with the klieg lights pointed solely upon them.
The Arab world understands the acquisition and use of power, and public manifestations are usually the planned results of deals and decisions made in private. There is a role for timely forgiveness and gestures of good faith even among bitter rivals, if a level of common self interest can be agreed upon. The fact that a Sunni General will head the Defense Department of the Shiite lead government of Iraq may be a sign the Iraqi’s want to remain Iraqi, rather than subjects of the Caliphate to the east.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Libertarians Get No Respect

Perhaps following some epiphany moment, Rolf Lindgren is complaining that Wisconsin Libertarians are not being taken seriously by the major parties.
Wisconsin Libertarian Ben Masel, running for U.S. Senate as a Democrat, was promised a chance to speak at the democratic party state convention. This was a primary reason for running as a democrat, as Ben could address all the democrats about medical marijuana and other related topics. The Democrats reneged.

Another Wisconsin Libertarian Dave Redick said he was running as a Republican for U.S. Senate so he could get more news coverage. However, Dave is not getting any news coverage now and will get none after he loses the primary. Nor did he get to speak at the Republican convention last month.
A third party that turns out a consistently large block of votes will get political attention. Votes are how the game keeps score. Trying to get the big boys to respect you simply on issues is simply not going to happen.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Greatest Photograph Ever Made

Mike Johnston is posting his thoughts on the top 10 greatest photographs and is writing astute explanations for his decisions. Today he offers up, in his opinion, The Greatest Photograph Ever Made. I submit the following comment and will wait and see if it passes moderation.

Good choice and I have no disagreement with the logic that places this image in your top spot. I do have an ongoing debate with myself about the meaningful difference between a chemical photograph and an electronic photograph, and this is clearly an electronically created image. I keep thinking there is a real difference between the direct effects of photons and the assemblage of photon data. The prints of Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith are masterpieces of images derived from film. Is there an artistic distinction between their work and work that is “not something that was ever witnessed directly by a human being”?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another World is Possible

Wisconsin’s premier Moonbat gathering has been renamed the Midwest Social Forum rather than its traditional moniker: RadFest. The annual raison d'ĂȘtre for the UW Madison Havens Center is heading east this year.
Join us in Milwaukee: The Midwest Social Forum is an annual gathering of grassroots organizations, community activists, artists, workers, educators, students, and others committed to making a better, more just world possible. It provides an open space for exchanging experiences and information, strengthening alliances and networks, and developing effective strategies for progressive social, economic, and political change. This year it will be held in Milwaukee, July 7-9, 2006, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union.
The conference is providing a handy dandy list of every significant progressive leftist Organization in the area, including Madison’s own Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth (George W. Bush planned the whole thing) and Ed Garvey. “Another world is possible” according to the tag line and the UW Sociologists, the self proclaimed rightful heirs of the “Wisconsin Idea” who believe themselves to be on a worthy mission “to suggest both practical and utopian alternatives”, are extending open arms to everyone who really wishes life could be better, would be better, if only …………

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Re-creating Silicon Valley Wealth

According to the Wikipedia entry, Paul Graham becomes rich after selling his startup company to Yahoo. Having achieved the American Dream he now writes essays, including two recent pieces about his thoughts on where entrepreneurial start ups – start up. Like all good rich California liberals, he seems to sincerely believe that Republicans desire to impose a police state on the country, but once you toss aside the nudge, nudge, wink, wink Democratic smug signals, he has some interesting points to make for all the government planners.
How to Be Silicon Valley: I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. … Do you really need the rich people? Wouldn't it work to have the government invest in the nerds? No, it would not. Startup investors are a distinct type of rich people. They tend to have a lot of experience themselves in the technology business. … Bureaucrats by their nature are the exact opposite sort of people from startup investors.

Building office buildings for technology companies won't get you a silicon valley, because the key stage in the life of a startup happens before they want that kind of space. The key stage is when they're three guys operating out of an apartment. … A corollary is that you have to keep out the biggest developer of all: the government. A government that asks "How can we build a silicon valley?" has probably ensured failure by the way they framed the question. You don't build a silicon valley; you let one grow.
After reasoning that the key to Silicon Valley type economic success is to use a great university in a town that is residentially attractive to “smart people”, Graham launches a 2nd lengthy examination of why America leads the world in leading edge technology companies. Among his ten factors are the facts that in America you can fire people and become rich.
Why Startups Condense in America: I think one of the biggest obstacles to creating startups in Europe is the attitude toward employment. The famously rigid labor laws hurt every company, but startups especially, because startups have the least time to spare for bureaucratic hassles. … Across industries and countries, there's a strong inverse correlation between performance and job security.

The problem in more traditional places like Europe and Japan goes deeper than the employment laws. More dangerous is the attitude they reflect: that an employee is a kind of servant, whom the employer has a duty to protect. … Gradually employment has been shedding such paternalistic overtones and becoming simply an economic exchange.

In the US it's ok to be overtly ambitious, and in most of Europe it's not. … So if you want to encourage startups you should have a low rate on capital gains. Politicians are caught between a rock and a hard place here, however: make the capital gains rate low and be accused of creating "tax breaks for the rich," or make it high and starve growing companies of investment capital.
It is no secret that Wisconsin is one of the Top 5 Regions attempting to re-recreate the financial success of Silicon Valley, but this time with Biotechnology as the leading edge research to be commercialized. The search for the “smart people” covers the World and Madison is doing everything possible to build a model city for them.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

What A Wonderful World

Feel the breeze, sway with the music and watch the sun set over Lake Mendota, ahhhh!” The Isthmus Jazz Festival translocates to the UW Madison Memorial Union Terrace and the performers groove and bebop in perfect weather against the iconic Madison backdrop.

Of course you need to be a member in order to purchase a Leines or a Capital, and so in some sense The Isthmus is retreating from the greater community and back into the University. One thirty something adult gentleman arrives wearing the most elaborate multicolored silk screen Che Guevara shirt I have ever seen and it reminds me of the difference between the left and the right.
Che Guevara: "Hatred is an element of struggle; relentless hatred of the enemy that impels us over and beyond the natural limitations of man and transforms us into effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy."
The musical groove from Ben and Leo Sidran is more in tune with pleasant summer evenings and when Gerri DiMaggio, Jeannie Woodall, Sara Yervand, Michelle DuVall get together to sing Louis Armstrong's “What A Wonderful World”: it is.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sniffing for the Third Way

There is a widespread belief the political status quo is due for a very big shakeup. Six months away from the next round of federal elections the scent of the third way is in the air. The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the issue.
Peggy Noonan: The problem is not that the two parties are polarized. In many ways they're closer than ever. The problem is that the parties in Washington, and the people on the ground in America, are polarized. There is an increasing and profound distance between the rulers of both parties and the people--between the elites and the grunts, between those in power and those who put them there.
An excellent analysis at Q and O concurs with the growing disconnect between career politicians and the American citizen, but notes the ideological division between our professional rulers is very real.
Dale Franks: The party system, as it's developed at the national level since 1968, has left liberty-loving Americans at a bit of a loss. One of the parties seems to have a laissez-faire attitude towards economic questions, but has become increasingly totalitarian on moral issues, while the other party has become laissaez-faire on moral issues, while becoming increasingly totalitarian on economic issues. Within a generation—indeed, half a generation—we have turned out one party in Congress for their arrogance and wild spending, only to see their successors from the opposing party quickly growing to ape their predecessors ways. And in both cases, Federal Spending has grown and grown.
Somewhere on the internet is a cogent explanation of why it is highly unlikely America will develop a stable long term third party alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. I can’t find my way back to where I read it so I am downloading the internet in an attempt to locate the post.

The point made is that the two established political parties are playing a continual game where the most votes wins. If any third party movement develops into a significant block of votes, then the existing political organizations will change to capture those precious requirements for power. In other words, big fish eat little fish to remain big fish, and they will morph into something different to remain big. As long as citizen votes legitimize our politicians, then whenever our conflicting desires coalesce into blocks of voter turn out, the process will induce change within the government.