Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today in Testing

I am not sure if Kim Myong-chol is a variation of our own Kevin Barrett, but North Korea gave him a PhD just like UW Madison gave one to Dr. Conspiracy. Most sources refer to him as Kim Jong-il’s “unofficial spokesman” so it is worth notice as he writes today about the Dear Leaders intentions.

Why Pyongyang is going nuclear: Unlike the other so-called "axis of evil" states, North Korea is a nuclear-weapons state and has the will and capability to torch urban US. … Since his country is now a member of the nuclear club, Kim has lost any appetite for talks with the US. His interest is in how to settle the long-standing scores of the Korean people with the US.

Other sources term Kim Myong-chol a “freelance propagandist” but the party line being peddled is a specific threat to nuke US cities. During the missile test frenzy last July, there was speculation all this bellicose rhetoric is mostly for internal consumption, but why then play it out in the world press? While the Nork’s seem intent on testing media response the United States is doing testing of its own.

US carries out subcritical nuclear test: The United States says it has carried out a subcritical nuclear experiment successfully at an underground test site in Nevada - the 23rd such test since 1997. …The administration said the subcritical tests do not involve nuclear explosion because they are designed to "examine the behaviour of plutonium as it is strongly shocked by forces produced by chemical high explosives".

Maybe its time to put a NukAlert on the Christmas list and remember the good news about nuclear destruction is that:” Simple measures taken immediately after a nuclear blast, by a trained public, can prevent agonizing death and injury from radiation.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Universal Healthcare in California

Our good neighbor to the northwest has thoughts about a grand social experiment.

California Adopts HillaryCare: The California Assembly passed a bill on a party-line vote yesterday that would eliminate private health care and force Californians into a single-payer state-run medical system. … Hillary Clinton tried to foist the same system onto the entire country, and the nation reacted by ending forty years of Democratic domination in the House. Perhaps the same result could come from this irresponsible social engineering project. When people start to understand that they just created a DMV for health care, California voters may just revolt against the entrenched Democratic power structure.

Ok, technically this is just a house vote which mirrors similarly styled legislation approved by previous incarnations of the state Senate, but it begs the meaningful question: Should Schwarzenegger allow the will of the people to destroy not only a healthcare system but also the entire State economy? I say go for it Arnold, because the inherent strength of our Federal Republic system is that these utopian fantasies can be played out and fail on a local basis prior to being adopted by the country as a whole. I am all for field testing before roll out.

Don't Worry - Be Happy: According to a spokesperson from Kuehl's office, SB840 won't cost the state a penny. It will, in fact, save state and local governments, which now provide services to the uninsured, an estimated $900 billion in the first year.

Again, technically this may be true since it is the private sector which will pay the “additional 8 percent on the payroll tax that businesses pay and a 3 point hike on the state income tax”. State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D) Santa Monica says care would improve under her proposal but universal healthcare is not and never has been about individual health. Socialized medicine is entirely about mandating that you must pay someone else's medical bills.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Money Trails Don’t Lie

There is a lot of straight talk coming from Bush Administration officials recently. Other bloggers are discussing how Donald Rumsfeld is naming names as he calls out the American media for their unhelpful activities. It should also be noticed that Stuart Levey at the Treasury Department is also on going on record without any ambiguity.

Blunt Talk: "Iran is like the elephant in the room if you will ... they are the central banker of terror. It is a country that has terrorism as a line-item in its budget," said Stuart Levey.

Banks Warned: "What I think we're likely to see and what I'm going to try to make happen is you're going to see banks around the world — and you're already seeing banks around the world — ask themselves the question, 'Do I want to be Iran's banker?'," Levey said.

You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?” The politicians have clearly given the green light to the employees to screw diplomacy and get to the point. The world is complex but not necessarily indecipherable. As our head of the Treasury Department’s newly-created Office of Intelligence and Analysis says: Money trails don't lie. True enough.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wisconsin’s Sobriety Checkpoint Decision

Interestingly, “Medieval folklore distinguished four successive stages of drunkenness, based on the animals they made men resemble: sheep, lion, ape, and sow”. Those were days before blood alcohol concentration became an objective benchmark to support the subjective assessment of inebriated behavior. Behavior, responsible or not, is the true issue with drinking and driving, and in the four way primary race for Wisconsin Attorney General, the topic of Sobriety Checkpoints is an important and defining issue.

Wisconsin is one of only 11 states which by statute, protects citizens from police stops without reasonable cause to believe the driver has committed a violation of the law. Democratic challenger Falk and Republican candidate Bucher have both come out in favor of removing this protection, specifically to allow police searches of individuals in the general traffic flow. Bucher has a legitimate history of supporting aggressive policing and is being true to his values. Falk has political consultants and has never met an expansion of government power she does not like. Falk, after all, thinks Kelo is a wonderful decision and a similar Supreme Court decision legitimizes this police power nationally.

Republican candidate J.B. Van Hollen rejects attempts to change existing law.

“Yet, unlike Paul Bucher and Kathy Falk, I do not favor new laws that treat repeat drunk drivers the same as first time offenders. I also oppose the Falk-Bucher push for mandatory random roadside traffic stops. Their effectiveness is questionable, at best. I also believe they take away the presumption of innocence, clearly reflect a liberal, big-government philosophy, and are not a wise use of scarce law enforcement resources.”

There is a trade off between safety and freedom and our comfort level with police checkpoints indicates where we believe that balance point should exist. Freedom to travel without government inspection and permission is our historical tradition, and this tradition has been destroyed in commercial air travel and is under threat in personal car travel. I reject all arguments that attempt to equate the two because commercial and personal activities are fundamentally different.

The rational for police checkpoints are all variations on the greater good theory. The logic always goes that at some point, at some dollar value, society should be better if individual freedoms are restricted. The question is what value of safety is gained in exchange for the loss of our freedom. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an excellent source of information and it appears realistic to claim at the very most a 20% reduction in alcohol related fatalities with checkpoints.

In other words, trading away our freedom leaves at least 80% of the problem intact, and as Van Hollen emphasizes, there are ways to achieve these same results without surrendering our right to drive without random and arbitrary government interference.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Hey! It’s the weekend. A very good weekend.

Matt Kenseth wins it: Matt Kenseth stormed to his second straight Nextel Cup victory in Saturday's Sharpie 500 and became the first driver since Dale Earnhardt in 1987-88 to win the Bristol night race in back-to-back seasons.

Kenseth clinches Chase spot: Matt Kenseth continued his momentum-building run toward the Chase on Saturday night, pulling off a weekend sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Last three races: Michigan Cup – Win, Bristol Busch – Win, Bristol Cup – Win.

Trifecta!!! We Believe.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Understanding the Correct Threat

Anti-war conservative writer Steve Sailer is making an argument that Iran simply isn’t a threat that merits the level of concern being expressed in the west. To his credit, he has done the research and compiled extensive and detailed lists of exactly what military equipment the Mullahs possess.

The Iranian War Machine: So they've got 6 good MiG-29s, 30 Soviet Su-24s, and 35 pretty good Chinese planes. In contrast, Israel, for example, has "555 combat aircraft (90 probably stored)." And, of course, Iran is missing most of the components of post-1979 air supremacy, such as AWACS-style flying command posts and stealth planes.

Look, Iran was deterred, fairly successfully, by Saddam Hussein's post-1991 House of Cards regime. That's one of the reasons the President's better-informed father and the younger, more sensible Dick Cheney left it stand in 1991.

What the Iranians have been investing in are, intelligently enough, missiles and, presumably, nuclear weapons development, which makes a lot of sense if their military strategy is to deter attack. Iran hasn't started a war with anybody since, at least, the middle of the 19th Century.

The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 was classic military vs. military warfare and Iran showed no great tactical genius, other than the ability to exchange massive casualties with the enemy. In that sense, Iran is not a military threat to the United States or Israel or maybe even Iraq. Unlike 1930’s fascism, however, massive ground armies are not the threat the Islamic Republic poses to the world, so comparative inventories of tanks and artillery are meaningless.

The Mullahs want dominion over the Muslim world and eventually an entire world united under the one permissible and true faith of Islam. If the 1980’s taught the Mullahs anything, it was that conventional war will not achieve those goals. The levels of government below the leadership have bright and highly educated people, like University of California - Berkeley educated Mohammad Jafar Mojarrad, who understand global economics and the requirements, conventions and mutual agreements that keep the 21st century towering far, far above all previous economies built by man.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fluff Talk On Property Taxes

Oh surprise, surprise, surprise: both major-party candidates in Wisconsin's gubernatorial race -- Democrat Jim Doyle and Republican Mark Green -- said that they will run on platforms emphasizing a "property tax freeze." Pardon me if I’m not filled with overwhelming enthusiasm because all campaign talk about property tax relief is simply flaming Barbara Streisand.

Governor's Race And Property Taxes: According to the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, property taxes have increased an average of 4.5 percent each year during Doyle's term. Last year was the lowest in recent history, with an increase of 2.3 percent. Doyle accomplished the modest increase by greatly increasing the funding for schools by more than $900 million. He essentially bought down the property tax with money from the state's transportation fund. Doyle argued that he provided relief without harming education.

Real change requires real change and meaningful property tax relief requires transforming it into a finite sales tax, payable over time. Imposing an open ended obligation on land ownership is wrong and stare decisis does not make permanent indebtedness to the state correct. Wisconsin voters still have the lingering flavor of TABOR and the bitterness should clue people that the direction to take is not attempting to limit spending, but rather to limit an individual’s obligation to pay.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What should America do?

The nuclear chess game heats up and the DANEgerous Roundup of articles is worth review, especially this tidbit. “This morning, Germany agreed to sell Israel some new submarines and to finance part of the purchase price. The new submarines can stay under water far longer than Israel's existing subs, and can deliver missiles with nuclear warheads.” Since everyone is brainstorming I thought I too would release of few rough and unpolished thoughts.

What should America do?

1. Pull all United States Troops out of Europe and tell Europe they are on their own to deal with their future. If the left believes our troops aren’t needed in the violent parts of the world, they certainly aren’t needed in happy peaceful little welfare states.

2. Give Iran a training bomb. Something really big with motion detectors, GPS sensors and most importantly, dual controls like any state of the art training vehicle. The Mullahs can then have their pride of ownership but if they get dangerous, then we take back control.

3. Give one to Saudi Arabia too. Maybe they can build a shrine around it and make even more money off the tourists.

4. Declare any advocacy of Jihad a hate crime and designate any words written or spoken in support of Jihad an explicit exception to 1st Amendment free speech. Prosecute and incarcerate violators.

5. Have Condi Rice authorize the Sierra Club to make official trips to Moscow and Beijing with a PowerPoint presentation about how atmospheric radioactivity doesn’t stop at political borders. Allow them discuss how carbon dioxide has the potential to burn up the planet.

6. Have the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association update and revise all literature about the dangers of second hand smoke to include the dangers of second hand radiation.

7. Have the Department of Education revise approved lessons plans so that instruction emphasizes the importance of wind sails and ox carts to pre-industrial economies and the self esteem that comes from raising your own food.

8. Quit whining about the lessons of the 1930’s. The marketplace of free ideas has effectively said “no thanks” and the customer is always right.

9. Immediately release grant funding for non-electric blogging research.

10. Update the Endangered Species List to bring it in line with reality.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Begging the State for Land

During the refinancing debate about the Overture Center, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz tells the editors of the Capital Times: “I believe in city ownership”. There is no reason to doubt that all of the Kathleen Falk wing of environmentalist Democrats absolutely believe in de facto government ownership, period.

Plan involves better use of site of Hill Farms building: In a first for the state, officials are working on a plan that would make it the developer on a project designed to make better use of the sizeable parcel of land where Hill Farms State Office Buildings now stand. State officials - with a nudge from the environmental group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin - unveiled a concept at Monday's Plan Commission meeting that calls for redeveloping the approximately 21-acre site on Sheboygan Avenue and Segoe Road, much of which is now parking lot.

You may recall 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin is the group Cieslewicz founded because the Nature Conservancy was not allowing him to politicize the environmental movement to the degree he desires. It was this political environmentalism that captured Falk’s attention and convinced her to have him elected Mayor.

The reason this particular location is sending the city to the state begging for the land is because it's a perfect and crucial fit for their model New Urbanist neighborhood. The Hill Farms State Office Building is across from the newly constructed but slow selling mixed use Weston Place Condominiums, and also across from the parcel they successfully stopped Whole Foods from developing as a grocery store with surface parking. Most importantly, it is somewhat close to railroad tracks which they believe possess magical lifestyle transformational powers for the 3.5 mile commute between Hill Farms and the Capital Square.

As Falk aims for statewide political power, this is a handy reminder of the difference between environmentalists and conservationists. The later want clean surroundings and areas preserved for recreation. Environmentalists want to change the way we live and they want to do this by government control of society.
The Cieslewicz Credo: "There's nothing that's environmentally friendly about large-lot developments".
In other words, small is better than big and none is best of all in terms of private land ownership. Falk’s Democrats are philosophically against the traditional American dream and the rest of Wisconsin should be paying attention to the heavy handed style of government with which her team operates in Capital City.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Just Inside the Safe Side of Physics

Yesterday, Matt Kenseth wins his third race of the 2006 Nextel Cup season and solidifies his position as 2nd in the points standings. With three races left to qualify to compete for the season title, a second championship is very much in achievable reach. After the race, the Cambridge, Wisconsin native explains how he achieved the win at the end.

Winning team interview: I just drove it right on the edge of the right-front. I was loose off a little bit when I was on the right-rear, but I just made sure I didn't drive in too hard and skid the right-front so I had something for the end.

In other words, Matt repeatedly takes 3,400 pounds of automobile running at slightly over 200 miles an hour into a turn with enough precision that the centrifugal force is focused on the right front tire, to the point where only the edge of the tire makes contact with the pavement, and short of the point where that last edge of contact slides across the surface. Every one of us can turn a car but very few of us can balance that turn just slightly inside the safe side of physics.

There is a lot being written about the lack of American “will” to succeed but I don’t believe courage and ability has withered away from the American character. I just think it has not been sufficiently required … yet.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Smart Managers of Public Money

The economy seems be doing just fine and most state legislatures seem to be benefiting from the “unexpected revenue”. Most, but not all.

Most states reporting big budget surpluses: For first time since Sept. 11, 2001, the vast majority of states reported that they saved an average of 10 percent of their budgets, one of the highest percentages of unspent money in decades. The $57 billion in unexpected revenue has afforded states an opportunity to find all sorts of creative ways to spend and save their cash, according to a report released last week by the National Conference of State Legislators.

All but five states -- Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- reported surpluses this year. … The report notes that year-end balances are widely considered one of best indicators of state fiscal health.

The budget in Wisconsin is a mess, and since only the disingenuous and inept would blame the problem on the economy, there must be another factor.

National Conference of State Legislatures: "Not only do we have the rebounding economy to thank for this, we also should applaud the diligent work of state legislators across America who have been smart managers of public money," said NCSL President Steve Rauschenberger, an Illinois senator. "State legislators have learned from the budget crisis of the early part of the decade, as we can see by the prudent choices they're making now."

Ahhhh! The key seems to be legislators able and willing to make “prudent choices”. Of course it is hard to change an entire team, so maybe the thing to do is to change the manager.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Just Forget Tammy, Dave

In the last 10 days the Dave Magnum Newsroom puts out five press releases and each and every one is about trying to get incumbent Tammy Baldwin (D) to debate him. Now I am going to vote for Dave, just like I did last time when he lost 63% to 37%, but please, please, please give the debate mania a rest.

The Wisconsin 2nd Congressional district is gerrymandered for the Democrats and the Madison liberals love Tammy. She has nothing to gain from talking with a 37% loser, and in the unlikely event challenger Dave goads her into some verbal faux pas, it will make no difference. The Democrats are going to vote Democrat even if their candidates are busted for drunk driving, bid rigging, double voting or campaigning at work. Being petulant about an opponent ignoring you is not a positive sign of leadership, Dave.

Dane County is growing and there were 90,370 votes for Bush this last election. This is roughly 2,000 more votes than went for Magnum in the entire 2nd district in 2004. These are vote totals that can help tip statewide races towards Green and Van Hollen. If Magnum wants a meaningful role in the Republican Party of Wisconsin, he needs to identify the areas of frustration within our district and come up with a positive message to get the private sector to come out and vote. Above all, he should be realistic about the money and votes stacked against him and stop wasting any time and resources on frontal attacks of entrenched positions. In other words, just forget Tammy and simply work for what you believe.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Kathleen Falk Mailer

A Kathleen Falk for Attorney General mailer arrives today and the following sentence is worth noting. “There is no office more important when it comes to protecting our environment, our rights, our communities, our families and our future.” On Kathleen's list, the “environment” is primary and “our rights” secondary. I would dismiss this as an arbitrary compellation of equally important values, however, everything in Falk’s past words and actions leads me to believe this is a true reflection of her values.

Any tough talk about fighting actual crime, e.g. Taking the Fight to Gangs, is merely necessary election posturing and even these attempts to appear serious boil down to having task force meetings and government programs to address bad behavior.

Falk’s also pledges creating Operation Take Back Our Towns, a task force comprised of school officials, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, law enforcement agencies, parents, and community leaders designed to prepare effective, localized solutions to the gang problem. Falk also pledges to make sure Wisconsin is a full participant in, and beneficiary of, the many national programs designed to address the problem of youth in gangs.

Democratic controlled Milwaukee continues to see “the largest percentage increase in murders of any large city in the nation between 2004 and 2005 – an increase of 40%, outpacing the national average nearly tenfold”, which she pledges to address by being in Milwaukee one day a week, for meetings.

Those of us living in Dane County and paying attention to her leadership understand that when she places “fighting sprawl” first on her list of “issues that matter”, she is completely serious in her belief that the American economy of home, yard and car is the wrong direction for Wisconsin. There is no reason to believe her priorities will change in a Statewide office.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Talking Buys Time

OK, it has been 73 days since Lola and I last heard Ben Sidran play live and outside in the Wisconsin evening air, so tonight it is Jazz at Five on the Capital Square. The 10 piece Latin Jazz group Madisalsa follows with Santana styled rhythms and one excited youth blurts out: “This is so Madison; there is no other city like it”. More mature adults converse about the stupidity of criminals, the folly of trolley and the impact of taxes on the poor.

In Tehran, the Chinese Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai has a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqch to express Chinese regrets the United Nations took so long to stop the horrible fighting in Lebanon. It is speculated the Chinese are advising the Mullahs to say the right words on the world stage, because simply put, talking buys time. The leadership of the Islamic Republic is not stupid and their spending is not dependent on tax dollars. Their dreams are of grander things than simply looping in circles and time, after all, is what it takes to achieve visionary goals.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Clock Ticks in Mexico

While many are making the case that Israeli political handling of the war in Lebanon is an unmitigated disaster, with Hezbollah strengthened locally and also specifically with Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq, another potential instability has been simmering all summer long to our immediate south.

The Mexican Presidential election last July still has no declared winner as the Federal Electoral Institute is reviewing claims of election fraud in the close race. The Tribunal must conclude their investigation by August 31st and declare the winner by September 6th. Leftist supporters of trailing candidate López Obrador are claiming massive fraud and planning widespread protests if events don’t go their way.

Massive and Systematic Election Fraud: “Taqueo and Saqueo” These preliminary recounts demonstrate mainly two kinds of fraud: “taqueo,” or the stuffing of ballot boxes with false votes as if putting extra beans inside a taco, and “saqueo,” or “looting,” that is, the disappearance of legitimate ballots cast.

Mexican law allows for investigation of any challenged votes, but the investigative tribunal is refusing Obrador’s grandstanding attempt to force a recount of every single vote in the country. Since the point of grandstanding is to impress an audience, the popular socialist is doing his best to make sure his audience comes out to applaud his performance.

Lopez Obrador strikes out: Angered by the Federal Electoral Tribunal's unanimously rejection of his calls for a full recount of some 41 million ballots, defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has urged his supporters to step up the protests, clogging up downtown Mexico City, occupying toll booths on federal highways and blocking access to several major banks and the Finance Ministry.

Admittedly, poor Catholics without military weapons are a different scale of threat from Jihadist Muslims with Iranian munitions, but assembling and agitating large crowds is fraught with unpredictable dangers. Freelance journalist Kenneth Emmond writes that Obrador is going to be a long term fixture in Mexican politics, and the best case scenario may be for him to remain the outsider activist.

Lopez Obrador: a fixture on Mexico's political scene: Indeed, a political victory for Felipe Calderón and a loss for López Obrador might be the best possible formula for making a better Mexico — a kind of political division of labor. In this scenario, President Calderón would be in charge of political stability — negotiating among the parties, putting forward proposed legislation and, one hopes, convincing the majority of legislators to support the reforms, budgets, and sundry other laws that constitute the nation's business.

Meanwhile, López Obrador, still leader of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) but on the outer fringe of the formal political process, would focus on creating real change, using his gifts as self-appointed legislative watchdog and master of the maxi-demonstration. He'd keep a watchful eye on the key issues in front of the people from the point of view of social justice — and make sure that President Calderón keeps his hands clean!

The worst case scenario is Russian weapons via Venezuela ending up in the hands of “activist” protesters, not satisfied with simply hanging around outside banks and Federal buildings.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Has Condi Fallen From Grace?

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House tallies up the political fallout as the war in Lebanon pauses briefly to let both the self proclaimed humanist elite, and the murderous Hezbollah Muslims feel triumphant in the moment.

Winners and Losers: CONDI RICE. By some accounts, Rice was a hindrance to the Israeli war effort. She apparently insisted on the temporary truce following the Qana tragedy and reportedly advised against any massive incursion by the IDF into southern Lebanon. For this, she was widely criticized in the Administration; so much so that her deputy handled the shuttle diplomacy between Beirut and Tel Aviv following Qana and she was marginalized to the point of being banished to the UN to work on the cease fire resolution. We know how that turned out. Rice lost prestige in the Administration because she has temporarily lost the trust of the President. And that makes her a big loser.

Wasn’t it last year about this time the draft Condi for ’08 mania was peaking? Lawrence Auster at View From the Right reduces liberalism down to the phrase: We’re guilty, AND nothing can ever harm us. Well we are not perfect and privilege and prosperity can be as transient as life itself, but you never get the feeling Dave Zweifel and his comrades believe there is a larger danger beyond a few misguided individuals.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Business Growing Outside of Madison

Wisconsin State Journal Headline: Commerical building is strong in suburbs.

Let’s read this again: “Commerical”, ostensibly from the modern English root word Commer, meaning a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles founded in 1905 and surviving for years largely by building military trucks. For a moment, I thought the socialist High Road COWS had found a way to lure defense manufacturing jobs back into Dane County, but it turns out only to be typo.

The point of the story is that there is more commercial building going on outside of the city limits, than underneath the jurisdictional thumb of the People’s Republic of Madison.

Fitchburg was Dane County's No. 1 spot - outside Madison - for commercial construction starts over the past 12 months, with $72 million worth of major projects. For a city that's one-10th the size of Madison, Fitchburg alone had enough new offices and stores going up to equal more than one-fourth the value of Madison's nonresidential building starts during that time period. … Crook also credits the favorable tax climate and aggressive business development office in the city of 22,000 along Madison's Southwest Side.

Verona and Middleton are also seeing business growth and while the article doesn’t come out and say the City of Madison’s active interference with private business is a disincentive, it is not hard to believe that keeping business expansion a business operation rather than an exercise in social justice, tends to make working with the surrounding communities more attractive.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Russian Jet Fighters to Venezuela

Control of the skies is a huge advantage against ground armies such as those the Americans defeated in Iraq and the Israelis are fighting in Lebanon. Any country dreaming of military parity with the elite armed forces on this planet can not help but desire a state of the art Air Force, so Hugo is going to buy one.

Russian Arms For Hugo Chavez: But, more importantly, in a deal the United States tried to block, Chavez successfully ordered 24 of Russia’s latest jet fighters and 53 helicopters during his time in Moscow. This is on top of the 40 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles the Venezuelan military had already ordered in an earlier transaction from Russia that go to make up the $5 billion in arms Chavez may eventually buy.

In the article, Dr. Stephen J. Blank of The Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College remarks that “Venezuela probably cannot begin to maintain or even operate this arsenal”. This assumes that Russian military technicians and advisors aren’t part of the deal. I suspect Hugo Chavez is shrewd enough to purchase the extended warrantee and service agreement for all of his new machines. After all, when money is no object then why settle for less than the best? To keep the Chavez threat in perspective, it is good to review the most recent public data for United States Oil imports.

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries: The top five exporting countries accounted for 70 percent of United States crude oil imports ... . The top sources of US crude oil imports for May were Canada (1.868 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.576 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.457 million barrels per day), Venezuela (1.169 million barrels per day), and Nigeria (1.075 million barrels per day).

If Chavez makes a “business decision” not to ship oil directly to America, the consequences will immediately and adversely ripple through our economy. If Chavez makes this decision subsequent to or in coordination with an Iranian closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the economic consequences would be multiplied. I believe, that deep down inside Putin hates the Muslims but Chavez, like Raúl Castro, is an old school communist and thus a perfectly acceptable client for all the Russian military merchandize Hugo wants to buy.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Decision Time About Lebanon

John “McQ” McQuain has been updating his post about this confusing day in the hot war between the country Israel and religious army Hezbollah. The morning starts with a decision to go fight person to person and ends with waffling indecision about whether to entrust the security of the state to the United Nations, in order to avoid that bloody hell of ground to ground combat. The anguished thought process of the Israeli leadership is captured in emails McQ is posting from Israel.

The situation in Israel tonight has become extremely confused, verging on the chaotic. Government ministers, like the foreign minister and prime minister, are publicly feuding. The government is saying that the assault into Lebanon will definitely be rolling tonight while it has simultaneously implied that it intends to accept the cease-fire resolution. Leaders of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are demanding to be unleashed while leaks from some government members hint that they have no confidence in the military. The media has now surged into the battle with highly contentious columns and editorials.

There appear to be two basic and competing schools of thought. One argues that Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah without incurring unacceptable losses and re-occupying parts of Lebanon, thereby winding up in a counterinsurgency situation. The other school of thought argues that the price of accepting a cease-fire that leaves Hezbollah intact is much higher than the cost of war.

It is the same quandary the entire Western World is trying to resolve because the West no longer has accepted guidelines for suppressing a religion. The war on terrorism is, and has always been, conflict with a religious doctrine that is well financed, well armed, effectively stateless and aggressively hostile. The very concept of forceful persecution of religious belief runs counter to the value we assign freedom of thought, but persecution and suppression is going to be necessary for any lasting peace and safety.

I have no faith in the United Nations and their past performance merits none. For the moment, however, Western aversion to prolonged violence seems willing, yet one more time, to let third party individuals have a go at creating peace. Of course, there will be no lasting solution as long as Jihadist Muslims have military weapons in addition to their intolerance and false understanding.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Time Out After Narrow Escapes

Arrgggghhh!!! …. Muslims continue brainstorming about creative ways they can murder large numbers of people for the divine glory in killing and dying, and the Capital Times believes there is a whole lot of propaganda going on but only from the other side. The people who scare me are the ones convinced they absolutely know the truth.

Time to spend time at The People's Cube to escape all this righteousness.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hillary Declared A Legitimate Target

The hallmark of 21st century progressive thought appears to be pride in the ability to identify flaws and imperfections. As the Lieberman primary defeat demonstrates, the left is in an upsurge of internal finger pointing as the control of the party in play. Foreign Policy in Focus expands on the current trend in an article which, with perfect liberal logic, argues that everything is Bush’s fault but the Democrats are at fault also.

Why the Dems Have Failed Lebanon: Thus, in order to protect the profits of politically influential American arms merchants, the Democrats joined with Republicans in supporting language in the resolution claiming that Israel's actions were “legitimate self-defense.”

Yet another Democratic co-sponsor of the Senate resolution was Hillary Rodham Clinton, a front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008. Speaking at a rally in New York City in support of the Israeli attacks against Lebanon, she praised Israel's efforts to “send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians [and] to the Iranians,” because, in her words, they oppose the United States and Israel's commitment to “life and freedom.”

Clinton's statements were challenged by her opponent in the Democratic primary for Senate, union activist Jonathan Tasini, who pointed out that “Israel has committed acts that violate international standards and the Geneva Conventions,” citing reports by a number of reputable human rights organizations, including the Israeli group B'Tselem. Clinton's spokesperson dismissed Tasini's concerns about Israeli violations of international humanitarian law as “beyond the pale.”

Tasini has called for a debate with his opponent to demonstrate how her unconditional U.S. support for Israeli militarism actually threatens Israel's security interests. The Anglo-Saxon Protestant Clinton, who—like the vast majority of the overwhelmingly WASP Democratic Party leadership—has never lost a relative to the region's violence, has thus far refused the challenge.

The campaign website for Hillary Clinton’s primary challenger Jonathan Tasini boasts of Cindy Sheehan’s support and the “huge flood of new volunteers” in the wake of Lieberman’s defeat. Embolden by the Connecticut election, the anti-war movement has the “WASP Democratic Party leadership” in their sites and appear completely willing to purge the party of any adult realists, including Hillary.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chavez Prepares for History

While the world media focuses on the Middle East, Hugo Chavez completes visits to major anti-American capitals, then returns home to reflect on his observations and weigh them against his ambitions. Elephants in Academia writes an insightful review of Hugo’s 2006 World Tour. Chavez understands that by a convergence of location, wealth, power, philosophy and ethnicity, he is uniquely positioned on the global stage to influence the entirety of distrust and resentment towards the powerful and prosperous United States.

From King to Kingpin?: Mr. Chavez has been planning for the role of anti-American kingpin for some time, but current events may conspire to provide him with the perfect venue for his official debut. The official demise of Fidel Castro will be an invaluable opportunity to assert himself both regionally and globally. He will be able to closely identify himself with the revolutionary Fidel and his life-long crusade against the United States, but I expect he will also try to inaugurate a new era of anti-Americanism that stretches beyond Latin America to embrace like-minded fellows from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Upon his return to home, Chavez surprises many by naming his elder brother Adan to the post of Secretariat of the Presidency, effectively removing him as Ambassador to Cuba at the moment Fidel Castro, his mentor and revolutionary icon, lies dying. It was slightly over two weeks ago the two visited the home of Che Guevara together and I suspect the old man would perfectly understand the timing of this administrative shift. The reason may lie in the words of Adan Chavez himself.

Adan Chavez: In order to achieve a revolutionary popular movement, which would allow the taking of power, one had to have a strong influence within the popular masses and have support within the Armed Forces. … A civilian-military movement was consolidated, the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200 (MBR-200). They were reading, discussing and finally decided that they had to rescue the revolutionary ideas of Simon Bolivar, Simon Rodriguez and Ezequiel Zamora.

The “taking of power” requires a combined civilian-military movement. Elder brother Adan assumes the highest civilian position in the Chavez Regime, balancing youthful friend and newly installed Defense Minister General Raul Baduel. In the space of three weeks Hugo looks in the eyes of Castro, Putin and Ahmadinejad and concludes the moment of opportunity is his for the taking. He places his two most trusted confidants at his side. Lebanon is open warfare, Castro is dying, c’est la vie, carpe diem.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Reuters and Image Validity Awareness

To its credit, the blogging community once again exposes the use of manipulated pictures in the world news media. The coverage is widespread on the blogs so I will only link to a Michelle Malkin roundup about how Reuters is caught using digitally altered photographs from Lebanon.

Creating image fraud is becoming very easy as the software that manipulates baseline data improves. In practice, there is no meaning difference between what can be created from an image derived from traditional or electronic photography, but there is a fundamental difference between the two processes in terms of establishing image validity.

Film photography produces a physical object which then becomes the source of the image. The film negative is a tangible thing that can be handled and examined, and the sequence of images along a roll of film document the position of the individual moment within a period of time. A step is required to create a positive image from a negative source and while the positive image can be scanned and manipulated, the actual negative and direct print are discrete and unaltered items.

Digital photography has no comparable substantive product to prove the truth of the image. The ease of direct imaging combined with the transmissibility of image data has won the commercial competition between the two formats. The observant, however, are beginning to understand that in the digital age, there is an imperative to view all pictures presented for our viewing with much more skepticism than in the past.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Déjà vu Salty Dog

Townhall picks up an AP story dated August 6, 2006 in which Dr. Jeffery Cutler of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute does a press release to warn people about the danger of salt.

Americans Should Shake Salty Food Habit: Salt is salt, the experts say, and it's bad for your health. Chances are you're eating way too much of it. … Health officials aren't concerned about the dash in your pasta cooking water or the sprinkle on your scrambled eggs. Salt added at the table or during cooking accounts for less than a quarter of the sodium in the American diet. It's processed and restaurant foods that are the problem.

Curiously, last year Townhall picks up an AP story dated August 31, 2005 in which Dr. Jeffery Cutler of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute does a press release to warn people about the danger of salt. Only last year John Stossel took the time to check the facts and then proceeded to dismantle this piece of health police grandstanding.

Half-baked science: Many experts on blood pressure told us there isn't enough scientific research to justify the government's anti-salt campaign, and there definitely isn't enough to justify Cutler's 2,400-milligram limit. … I couldn't read Cutler's mind, so I don't know that he pushed his anti-salt campaign because he wanted to build himself a little empire. But consider the choices of the bureaucrat: If he finds that you're probably eating "more than 20 times the salt your body needs," his findings may be on "Good Morning America," and he's important. If he finds no threat, he is just another bureaucrat.

The telling point is that the public should be concerned about the salt in “processed and restaurant foods”. I hope readers in the conservative blogosphere understand that when science writing aims at producing an emotional response, it is best to take the message with a grain of salt. Literally.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Rat People of Pakistan

Jihadist Islam is producing western examination of all aspects of the existing religious culture and one unusual story explores what are termed the “rat people” of Pakistan. The British online newspaper Telegraph has details about the strange phenomenon of retarded children with very small heads and what the defect may indicate about all of us.

What makes us human? The word "microcephaly" comes from the Greek, "small head". But in Pakistan, such children are known as chuas or "rat people". … it was common enough to attract the attention of Geoff Woods, a geneticist working at Leeds University. He found that it ran in families. That implied that its cause was genetic; it was caused by a mutation. Or, more precisely, several. By the late 1990s, the disorder had been mapped to deficiencies in at least six different genes. ... All seem to encode proteins that are needed if neuroblasts - the cells that give rise to the brain's neurons - are to divide and prosper.

The interesting part is that only the cerebral cortex in the brain appears to be effected in what is now more specifically identified as autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH). Afflicted individuals are otherwise completely healthy and normal except for the small heads and a stable retardation present from birth. The abnormality appears to require defective genes from both parents, so it is a recessive trait which would remain rare except in unique circumstances. In Islamic Pakistan, the high frequency of this rare disorder appears to be driven by customs in which “some 60 per cent of marriages are between first cousins”.

The research team lead by Dr Geoff Woods believe their work may help explain how humans became human at a genetic level. Again from the Telegraph article:

In the last three million or so years, the human brain has approximately trebled in size. This change, remarkable in its extent and speed, must have been caused by mutations - advantageous mutations - that swept through the populations of our ancestors as they wandered, generation after generation, across the African veldt. … Chimps and humans each have about three billion nucleotides in their genomes - 99 per cent of those may be identical, but that still leaves about 30 million differences.

If what makes humans different from animals is the size and function of our brain, then as few as a dozen genes may be responsible for the biochemical instructions yielding the structural reason why we emerged as a unique species.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ray Allen on Crime in Madison

Madison Mayoral challenger Ray Allen has a press release today calling out incumbent Dave Cieslewicz on the increasing crime problem in the city.

Press Release on Public Safety: According to a recent report compiled by the Madison police, robberies are on the rise, especially in the northern, central and eastern parts of the city. “Crime is increasing citywide. We need an increased police presence not only downtown, but an increased police presence citywide” Allen said. Allen noted that crime has been increasing since the Mayor took office, but public safety was not a priority for City Hall. “City Hall’s lack of priorities is eroding Madison’s quality of life, especially when it comes to public safety”

A recent report prepared by the Madison Police Department, shows a 60 percent increase in robberies in the first half of 2006 compared with the same time period in 2005. Madison, not too long ago, was ranked the best place in the nation to live. Now Madison is ranked 53rd in the nation. “Our crime rates are going up and our quality of life rankings are going down” Allen pointed out.

The New Urbanist City of Madison Comprehensive Plan being aggressively implemented by the current administration will increase the rate of crime and cost of policing Madison for years going forward. I posted the following links in May 2005 for their discussion of how the core principals of this government planning and control ideology actually create crowded neighborhoods susceptible to criminal predation. Building crime friendly projects is an issue Ray Allen should keep discussing in the campaign for control of City Hall.

The Claremont Institute: In fact, as long ago as 1976, architect Oscar Newman, who created the concept of defensible space, proved that all of these things make neighborhoods more susceptible to crime. SafeScape's authors wrote, "Newman took the 'eyes on the street' concept argued that the reason 'eyes on the street' provide safety in urban, mixed commercial and residential areas is because there is a visible link between residents and the street." That is such a distortion of reality that it amounts to an outright lie.

Reason Online: The reason mixing retail with residential areas increases crime is simple: Space is only defensible if residents have the clear right to influence and control what takes place there. In commercial or public areas, everyone has the right or excuse to be present, and offenders are indistinguishable from law-abiding citizens. Mixed use therefore reduces residential control over the neighborhood and provides criminals with anonymity as they merge into the background.

Dave Cieslewicz has demonstrated his low regard for personal freedom and low concern about public safety when they conflict with his views of how people should live their lives. Madison absolutely needs to reclaim our government from these visionaries and activists.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Searching for Zealots

Bill Lueders is the quintessential Madison journalist. In a brief essay this week titled Wanted: Global-warming zealots, he admits to being “fascinated with obsessed, push-it-to-the-limits but-still-stay-in-bounds activists." Being a writer he wants a new topic for a book and is apparently seeking role models with absolute certainty in their cause.

It may be, however, that Bill finds himself lacking the pure internal conviction that the modern economy is in fact something bad for the planet. He is a writer and perfectly capable of stringing together the approved words of the global warming advocates.

Certainly, this is an issue of unparalleled urgency. Near-certain ecological catastrophe. Predicted deaths in the hundreds of thousands -- annually. Rising sea levels that will submerge heavily populated areas, including much of Florida, California and Manhattan. More frequent heat waves, hurricanes and droughts. A million species extinct in less than 50 years.

Lueders is a also a good editor and must sense in himself that this is mostly dry rhetoric artificially hyped. Is it a "million species" because saying a million doesn’t require an actual count? Furthermore, what exactly differentiates an ecological catastrophe from ecological collapse? He calls around town looking for the enlightened and finds only the indoctrinated.

From the Isthmus you can see the lakes of Madison and Bill Lueders knows they were not always there. There was a time when ice covered Wisconsin was a frigid wasteland and moraines litter our landscape from the great melting. Lueders knows our forests were clear cut to build Chicago, and that Horicon Marsh was for decades a drained dirt pancake. He knows the current problem is an abundance of wild bear in the woods and huge numbers of geese in the wetlands.

Bill should look out the window and decide if the ice caps should happen to melt off Antarctica, would the terrain remain barren rock or bloom into life. The problem is the human doom hypothesis does not explain all of the evidence, and more importantly, does not rule out all other explanations. Each year the weather warms to the hot nights of summer then cools again. Change is normal and even the sane liberals do not dispute that fact.

In the cynical history of journalism, newspaper writers have always understood that words serve a purpose. Good liberal Bill should be honest with himself about the purpose of the global warming advocates, and as he searches for zealots with driving emotional attachment to the cause he needs to focus on one central question. What are they afraid of?

Are they afraid of change? Change happens constantly. Are they afraid of ecosystems collapsing? All evidence is that mother earth springs back to life after each tragedy. No, the motivating fear is that the warming won’t stop until it burns everything. It’s the primordial fear of fire fanned by Nintendo PlayStation prophecy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cuba Threatened with Disgusting Freedom

The Capital Times collects the best of the local Madison reaction to the coming death of Fidel Castro. The sentiment is basically: Cubans love their island paradise, so please keep the horrible, horrible freedom away. U.S. moves toward Cuba worry locals:

Ricardo Gonzalez, a former Madison alderman who was born and raised in Cuba and founded the Madison-Camaguey Sister City Association, said … he also is troubled by the reports prepared by the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, … “(This) is nothing more than a plan by the United States for the annexation of Cuba”.

Robert Kimbrough, a retired UW-Madison English professor and prominent local Socialist who has gone to Cuba 16 times with Madison delegations: "It is disgusting". The 2004 report said, 'We pledge to help the Cuban people, and a new transition Cuban government, as you move away from the totalitarian Communist dictatorship and toward a free and representative democracy.'

Dr. Bernard Micke, a UW Health physician who heads the Wisconsin Medical Project that takes medical supplies to a hospital in Cuba: “The Cubans are capable of governing themselves whether Castro is there or not. It is not a dictatorship to the degree that our government would like to paint it. This is a very functional government at the local and national levels,”

I forget, which foreign government was the last one the United States “annexed”? I thought it was the Philippines but apparently that country is still a member of the UN. It might have been when we invaded Hawaii and forced a vote for statehood at the end of a gun. In addition, Dr. Micke is a fine physician but should seriously consider that many prison systems have well run healthcare services that require the input of medical supplies, because virtually nothing is manufactured internally.