Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It’s Halloween – Be Fearful

It is Halloween night and so I am eating porcini tortellini and Kit Kat bars while watching The Sixth Sense. If the combination of fungus pasta and corporate chocolates does not scare you, perhaps The Evil Watertower of Plover, Wisconsin will instill fear into your slumber.

The Evil Watertower lives on the east side of I-39 in Plover, Wisconsin. The Good Watertower lives on the west side of I-39 in Plover, Wisconsin.

Many, many years ago, these two water towers used to be friends, great friends. But after the Good Watertower got her beautiful new paint job and her snazzy Plover logo, the Evil Watertower became angry. The Good Watertower has serviced Plover with drinking water for a number of years and is loved by her customers.

The Evil Watertower has worked for a factory all his life, where he has been abused and even worse in his eyes, taken for granted. The Evil Watertower then started conspiring to take over the factory and the world. Then, he will no longer be ignored and taken for granted. These plans have been put in motion and should not be taken lightly.

Have you ever misplaced your keys, or forgotten something at the grocery store? Chances are, Evil Watertower might have been a part of that. When something bad happens to you, try to think about your water source. Nothing is safe, and if Evil Watertower had his way, we would all be drinking pre-poisoned bottled water. Some of you already are.

The Good Watertower loves everyone, provides clean drinking water and promotes peace and prosperity, but the Evil Watertower hates everything, especially the Good Watertower, and can’t be trusted. The Evil Watertower has a plan for total world domination and has already started spreading the infection. You have been warned.

Monday, October 30, 2006

UW Madison Attitudes

David White at Human Events Online trots our local Moonbat Kevin Barrett onto the national stage. He is using Dr. Conspiracy the correct way. The point is not that a madman is irrational, but that rational individuals discredit themselves justifying a right to madness in public education.

9/11 Conspiracy at Public University: Although few professors agree with Barrett's "inside job" conspiracy theory, nearly all considered it extremely important to stand by his appointment while being interviewed for this piece. Their reasoning breaks down roughly into three camps: The first rejects any judgment of professorial speech. … A second group sees the issue in terms of autonomy for the university. … A third group combines both these arguments. Surprisingly, it includes Donald Downs, president of UW-Madison's Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights—an organization that exists to confront political correctness on campus:

In other words, academic culture is completely infused with the attitude they are above criticism and interference from outsiders. It is a cult of tenure that rewards obedience with lifetime income to pursue fancies and dreams. Noticeably absent is any expressed concern for the pursuit of accuracy and utility in knowledge that differentiates education from superstition and propaganda.

Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543): His investigations were carried on quietly and alone, without help or consultation. … In 1530, Copernicus completed and gave to the world his great work De Revolutionibus, which asserted that the earth rotated on its axis once daily and traveled around the sun once yearly: a fantastic concept for the times.

The difference between Nicolas Copernicus and Kevin Barrett is not the unconventional nature or absurdness of their ideas against the common knowledge of the time. It is that Copernicus works for years attempting to understand why theory does not completely explain observation, until logic and observation force him to consider a new explanation may be possible. Barrett, on the other hand, conceives a story he likes and finds shelter in an institution unwilling to demand any standards of proof and truth in speech. It is a difference between a humble desire for understanding and driving desire to emote loudly from a safe place, with public income.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More Doyle Means More Debt

The Wisconsin State Journal used to be the rational counterpoint to the overt partisanship of the Capital Times. With the newspaper industry struggling in the new media environment, I am tempted to believe the editorial board is thinking only about circulation in choosing to endorse Jim Doyle for a second term.

WSJ Opinion: Doyle inherited a record state budget deficit and sluggish economy when he took office in January 2003. … By his second budget, Doyle managed to restore the state's commitment to paying for two- thirds of school costs. And at the Legislature's urging, he adopted spending limits on local governments to ease property taxes.

The editors appear to believe the Doyle budgets are the reason to re-elect him. Of course the National Conference of State Legislators points out the vibrancy of the US economy has most states flush with new revenue. As I noted here, the press coverage last August points out: “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.” Besides a budget is simply a spending plan and not evidence of fiscal responsibility behind the dispersing of the cash. Our former Congressman discusses the ugly truth behind the Doyle Administration of Wisconsin.

Scott Klug: Green will not balance the budget by turning to more borrowing. Instead of cutting $2 billion in spending the last four years, Gov. Doyle added another $2 billion in bonds, or more simply, $2 billion more in long-term debt. According to Standard & Poor's, which rates the creditworthiness of states, Wisconsin's bond rating is the second worst in the country.

For example, he raided more than $1 billion dollars in revenue dedicated to transportation funding, such as gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. Then, to keep building highways he borrowed money. In the future, more and more transportation tax dollars will have to be used to pay that debt rather than pay for new roads or railroads. It's a death spiral we have to pull out of immediately.

More Doyle means More Debt. The Cato Institute grades the Doyle Administration as a D with following analysis.

2006 Fiscal Policy Report: While running for governor, James Doyle pledged to hold the line on taxes, scale back the state payroll, and cut corporate taxes by changing complex rules that taxed companies on their payroll and property, not their in-state sales. Once in office, Doyle was able to deliver on the corporate tax cut, and he eliminated around 2,000 government jobs. Yet the state budget still grew in his first year by nearly 5 percent in real per capita terms according to Census Bureau data. The general fund budget has grown, on average, by more than 5 percent in real per capita terms the past two years—only slightly more than Doyle’s proposed budgets for that period. In fact, Doyle seems to have little interest in really restraining government spending. He has consistently expressed his opposition to a substantial cap on the state budget. On the tax side, Doyle doesn’t seem interested in even holding the line on taxes anymore. He vetoed a plan from the legislature to freeze property taxes. Wisconsin still has the seventh-highest state and local tax burden in the nation. James Doyle has done very little in his first term to change that or to enact policies that might get government under control.

Wisconsin had a record budget deficit when Doyle took office and rather than bringing spending in line with revenue, he simply borrowes for the moment and deferres the bills for the rest of us to pay. This is simply bad government.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Much For Your Continent?

The communist Chinese leadership is hosting a really big business meeting in Beijing. There is much wealth to be spread around to friends.

People's Daily: Heads of state or government leaders from more than 40 African countries have confirmed their attendance at the upcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

The Economist warns the Chinese appetite for food and natural resources is unchecked by concerns of authoritarian regimes and human rights abuses with potential trading partners. After all, that is business as usual for the heirs to Mao.

Never too late to scramble: In the first week of November Chinese and more than 30 African leaders will gather at the first Sino-African summit in Beijing. And Chinese companies, most of them owned by the state, have been marching in the footsteps of their political leaders.

Now China wants commodities more than influence. Its economy has grown by an average of 9% a year over the past ten years, and foreign trade has increased fivefold. It needs stuff of all sorts—minerals, farm products, timber and oil, oil, oil. China alone was responsible for 40% of the global increase in oil demand between 2000 and 2004.

So it is with many African countries, fed up with the intrusiveness of Europeans and Americans fussing about corruption or torture and clamouring for accountability. Moreover, the World Bank and many Western donors were until recently shunning bricks-and-mortar aid in favour of health and education.

I wonder how many cocktail party laughs will be generated about ‘the concerns’ of World Bank President and Bush White House friend Paul Wolfowitz.

Sudanese president to attend: In an interview this week with a French newspaper, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Chinese banks ignore human rights and environmental standards when lending in Africa. "We do not accept such criticism," Zhai Jun, an assistant foreign minister, said at a news conference. China believes no government "should interfere with other country’s human rights and internal affairs," Zhai said.

Globalization is taking place and the world, having witnessed how the sole planetary superpower responds to direct provocation, is now merrily going their own way.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Democrats Offer False Hope

I said this a month ago: There are no instant answers to the problems of disease in the stem cells, and it is cold and callous to offer the false hope of quick cures. The Democrats both nationally and in Wisconsin are intentionally misleading the public about stem cell research and I find this disgusting. The public needs leadership willing to explain there are several types of stem cells and the therapeutic promise is from adult cell lines.

Have human embryonic stem cells been used successfully to treat any human diseases yet? The official answer from the National Institutes of Health.

Stem Cell FAQ: Scientists have only been able to do experiments with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) since 1998, when a group led by Dr. James Thomson at the University of Wisconsin developed a technique to isolate and grow the cells. Moreover, federal funds to support hESC research have only been available since August 9, 2001, when President Bush announced his decision on federal funding for hESC research. Because many academic researchers rely on federal funds to support their laboratories, they are just beginning to learn how to grow and use the cells. Thus, although hESC are thought to offer potential cures and therapies for many devastating diseases, research using them is still in its early stages.

Adult stem cells such as blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow (called hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs) are currently the only type of stem cell commonly used to treat human diseases. Doctors have been transferring HSCs in bone marrow transplants for over 40 years. More advanced techniques of collecting, or "harvesting", HSCs are now used in order to treat leukemia, lymphoma and several inherited blood disorders. The clinical potential of adult stem cells has also been demonstrated in the treatment of other human diseases that include diabetes and advanced kidney cancer. However, these newer uses have involved studies with a very limited number of patients.

When the academic researcher who created human embryonic stem cell lines explicitly states there are no therapeutic benefits from this research in the foreseeable future, it should silence those politicians who are exploiting the sick for personal power.

Dr. James Thompson: The political process and the press have so hyped expectations that people expect to see these therapies in the next couple years. (That's) not going to happen. When anything brand new like this wants to enter the clinics, it takes a long time.

The Republican controlled government is funding research on existing human embryonic cells lines and it is a lie to say otherwise. Obviously there is research curiosity into the biochemical and genetic processes by which a single cell becomes a human being, but the diseases of individuals arise from the cells of those individuals, and effective treatments are much more likely from the adult stem cells already programmed to produce healthy replacements. No Republicans are calling for ending public or private funding in these areas of stem cell research.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

AG Debate Coverage

The Attorney General debate between Democrat Kathleen Falk and Republican JB Van Hollen is reviewed by Dee Hall of the traditional Main Stream Media and Sean Hackbarth a Wisconsin blogger. The comparison is fairly interesting.

(MSM) Van Hollen, Falk trade charges vs. (Blogger) Falk-Van Hollen Debate.

MSM: Van Hollen, 40, appeared relaxed and genial.
Blogger: worked the room greeting people and shaking hands.

MSM: Falk, 55 … appeared tense and was often on the offensive.
Blogger: arrived and proceeded promptly to the debate stage to receive instructions on the debate format. In the debate Falk was the one more on the defensive.

MSM: Falk charged Wednesday that her opponent, Republican J.B. Van Hollen, would not stand up to the Bush administration and big business in support of Wisconsin's environmental and consumer laws.
Blogger: A few times she pointed out WMC, the business trade group, was spending $2 million on ads against her.

MSM: Van Hollen said Falk, a Democrat, would "turn a blind eye" to illegal immigration and would file "nuisance" lawsuits against law-abiding companies.
Blogger: Van Hollen said Dane County under Falk’s charge “turns a blind eye” on illegal immigration.

MSM: Van Hollen repeatedly mentioned Falk's lack of experience in criminal law enforcement.
Blogger: pointed out Falk’s lack of experience in prosecuting criminals.

MSM: Falk painted Van Hollen as a right-wing extremist.
Blogger: …

OK, so Sean fails to report the right-wing extremist charges, but he does report how both candidates respond to the job specific issues of street gangs, methamphetamine and an inefficient State Crime Lab. Interested voters wanting to know candidate positions on these serious problems won’t find them in the newspaper.

What is clear is that the business community really don’t want Kathleen Falk in office because she has a track record in this state, and it has never been about public safety or jobs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Suppression of Human Rights

The Muslim Brotherhood “is believed to be the principal organization from which modern terrorist groups, including Hamas, were established(1) and Human Rights Watch is indignant about how Egypt is dealing with them.

Egypt: Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood Deepens: (Cairo, October 26, 2006) – In a new round of arbitrary arrests, the Egyptian government has expanded its crackdown against members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The government should immediately release all members of the nonviolent organization imprisoned in the government’s months-long campaign, Human Rights Watch said today.

The war on terror, or more correctly the war against Islamic Jihadists, is being fought in ways which we probably know little about, but undoubtedly involve money and support of Muslim governments willing to suppress their internal Jihadist movements. Human Rights Watch apparently believes the legitimate front organization has renounced and severed all connections with their violent past.

Wikipedia: The Muslim Brotherhood … is a world-wide Islamist movement, which has spawned several religious and political organizations in the Middle East dedicated to the credo: "God is our objective, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations." As stated on its charter and its website, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to install a just Islamic empire and a worldwide Caliphate, through stages designed to Islamicize targeted nations by whatever means available. Although the Brotherhood itself renounced violence in the 1970s, many of its branches continue to practice violence through terrorism and assassination.

What is clear is that the movement has an effective political arm which is consistent with their expressed goal of controlling every aspect of human life. From the group’s official English website link via Wikipedia:

The Muslim Brotherhood has gone through the latest legislative elections on the basis of a clear-cut program under the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, given the fact that Islam, as Imam el-Banna said, is a comprehensive program that encompasses all aspects of life: it is a state and a country, a government and people, ethics and power, mercy and justice, culture and law, science and justice, resources and wealth, defense and advocacy, an army and an idea, a true belief and correct acts of worship (Imam el-Banna’s Teachings Message).

The "message" is a call for absolute uniformity of belief in all aspects of life, which strikes me as completely inconsistent with the very human rights being watched. Maybe someone versed in the tricks and techniques of progressive explanations can clarify this paradox.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DNR Can Disregard Own Rules

This is not comforting. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals declares the Wisconsin DNR does not need to abide by their own rules. This is very discomforting actually.

Milwaukee Federalists: Section 227.57(8) plainly states that an agency action that is contrary to its own rules, that it has promulgated itself, is invalid. But apparently, the rules don't apply to the DNR.

The decision comes from a Vilas County lawsuit where DNR agents “commenced an enforcement action” over two piers on private property in the absence of any complaint.

DNR’s Duty Trumps Agency’s Own Rules: The DNR can enforce actions against oversized piers, even if no one complains about them. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Oct. 10 held that, notwithstanding agency rules to the contrary, the DNR’s obligation to protect the public trumps the rule.

The “obligation” to protect the “public” is justification to ignore the rules. This is a prescription for abuse of power and Democrats want to exponentially expand the power of government over private holdings. The National Center for Public Policy Research sounds a warning which should be heeded.

Beware of 'Invasive Species' Regulations: In 1999 President Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order that created the "National Invasive Species Council" which broadly defines "alien species" as "any species ... that is not native to that ecosystem." Since Clinton's Order, numerous regulatory measures have surfaced in Congress that seek to control so-called non-native species in ways that would likely harm private property rights and Americans' access to public lands.

The essential question is how long does it take a resident to become a native? In the real world, plants and animals constantly spread across the planet, dying out in unsuitable areas and thriving in the right conditions. The environmentalists would have everyone believe an ecosystem is a fragile creation of fixed components in exact balance, like a museum display.

Invasive Species: Animal, Vegetable or Political? More than 50 bills are pending in the U.S. Congress to address so called "invasive species." Most bills would expand federal authority to further control land use and authorize billions of tax dollars to eradicate non-native flora and fauna.

The key problem with government's handling of the issue of non-natives is that it takes a simplistic view, bundling all the species together and exaggerating their effects on ecosystems and commercialism; if they come from outside our borders, we must assume they are harmful until we have evidence to prove otherwise. Resulting legislation such as those referenced above grant government sweeping authority, threaten property rights and authorize billions of taxpayer dollars when the actual problem is a small number of non-native species that impact the economic interests of some commercial industries.

When Democrats control the government their environmentalist membership will demand the right of access to all lands, public and private, for the purpose of purifying nature back to the arbitrary point in time they wish to recreate. They will want more power to police and new powers to dictate acceptable flora and fauna.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cutting Through Central America

Panama has a traffic problem. Congestion is backing up traffic and decreasing the efficiency of travel. Rather than demanding that the world engage in less trade and thus fewer shipments, the country decides to expand capacity to meet need. What a radical idea.

Panama votes for a bigger canal: VOTERS in Panama have decided, by a margin of four-to-one, to go ahead with a proposal to expand their famous canal. … Some 5% of the world's seagoing traffic passed through it in 2005, including over a third (by weight) of cargo going from north-east Asia to the United States' east coast. Rapid growth in world trade means that the canal is suffering congestion.

Nicaragua has a poverty problem. They also have some dusty old plans for a canal of their own and an idea that if the passage was wide enough to handle oil supertankers going from Venezuela to China, shippers may pay a premium for the shortcut.

Nicaragua canal: just a pipe dream?: Proponents of the Nicaragua plan have already been at pains to stress that their canal will meet a real need - that of the new breed of super-tankers too large to fit through even a widened Panama waterway.

Of course really big boats of consumer goods would also be potential customers.

Giant rival for Panama Canal: The new route would cut 500 miles - or at least a day - off the route between California and New York, and could considerably shorten and cheapen the journey from China to Europe for large ships.

Of course that poverty problem means the country is short the $20 billion or so dollars to build anything. Since President Enrique Bolanos is leaving office, the individual who wins the elections beginning November 5th gets the task of charming the international capital markets. That individual could well be Daniel Ortega.

Back by Unpopular Demand: From 1979 until 1990, Ortega led a Cuban-style dictatorship, denying Nicaraguans their basic political freedoms, confiscating private property to benefit his cronies, and wrecking the Nicaraguan economy.

Reportedly mellowed with age, the old school leftist leads the four way race with an outside shot at claiming a first ballot victory.

Ortega could win Nicaragua presidency outright: An Ortega presidency would revive Latin America's "pink tide" of leftwing leaders but analysts say that Nicaragua, with just 6 million people and a near destitute economy, is a regional minnow.

Panama probably has no reason to worry about competition unless China, fresh from blocking the waters of the Yangtze River with the worlds biggest dam, decide they need another big dig project to keep all those workers employed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What is Going On Here?

Summer isn’t over in Wisconsin until there is snow on the ground – so – summer is now definitively over. Then the Packers win a road game in Miami so apparantly things are freezing over, all over. So help me, if the Sierra Club has been lying about this global warming, I am so demanding my membership dues back.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Goose Killer Democrats

Governor Doyle is actively promoting the drug reimportation solution to high drug prices. He is either oblivious or indifferent to the fact this is a classic Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs blunder. In the words of the Congressional Budget Office, “permitting the importation of foreign-distributed prescription drugs would produce at most a modest reduction in prescription drug spending in the United States”. The reason for pricing differences is because there is almost no free market in the pharmaceutical market.

Cato Institute: First, when drug companies look at the world they see essentially one free market—America. Here they can set prices at levels that aim at maximizing profits. In the rest of the world, companies tell us, socialized medical systems set prices: "monopsony" buyers make take-it-or-leave-it offers. Because a company's marginal cost for the second pill is so low, as noted earlier, it can accept those offers and still come out ahead. But it can do so only because it has America—half the world market—to fall back on.

The National Center for Policy Analysis gets more specific about why some, but not all, drug prices are lower north of the border.

Drug Reimportation: The reason many drug prices are lower in Canada is their government-imposed price controls. And when we reimport Canadian drugs — whether made in the United States or elsewhere — we import Canadian price controls.

Although Americans frequently pay higher prices for brand-name drugs, they often pay much lower prices for generics and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. … So why do Canadians pay less than we do for brand-name drugs, but more for generics? Since brand-name drugs are principally produced by foreign manufacturers, the Canadian government willingly imposes strict price controls that benefit Canadian consumers. In the generic market, however, Canadian producers dominate. Through regulation, therefore, the Canadian government protects its generic producers from lower-priced American competitors — at the expense of its own citizens. Where it has no domestic producers (for example, brand-name drugs), it flexes its muscle to push prices down.

Goose killer Democrats like Jim Doyle propose changing the aspect that makes the American drug market unique in the world, knowing this will destroy the system producing the very products they desire. State of the art drugs exist only because a few Western societies make their development possible with patent protection for a short period of unlimited profitability . In time the tried and true successes become commodity products at low price to the benefit of everyone.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why China May Oust Kim Jong Il

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il may or may not have apologized to China for playing with nukes. Milwaukee blogger Neo-Con*Tastic eloquently expresses the appropriate skepticism. “Yea, what a crock of %&@#. We all know that Kim Jong Il is lying through his tiny teeth. There is no way he's sorry for what he's done, I don't believe it.” Exactly.

While it is good to doubt anything the NORK’s say, Beloved Leader is probably astute enough to understand the Realpolitik of the region. California State Assemblyman Chuck Devore draws upon his background as a Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs in the Reagan White House and presents the reasons why China may be willing to take out North Korea. China's reasons to take out Kim Jong Il.

•First, China does not wish to give Japan the excuse to develop its own nuclear arsenal. Japan has enough plutonium to build some 8,000 nuclear warheads, and it has the technology to build the missiles to deliver them accurately to Beijing. A nuclear-armed Kim Jong Il gives Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exactly the rationale he needs to rearm Japan. It may also encourage other Asian powers, foremost being Taiwan. to seek to acquire nuclear weapons.

•Second, China believes it can work a transformational quid pro quo with South Korea's leadership. The deal? China would topple North Korea in exchange for South Korea's promise to eject all U.S. military forces from the peninsula. South Korea's president, Roh Moo-hyun is well-known for his strong anti-U.S. and nationalist beliefs. Reunifying Korea and removing all U.S. forces from Korean soil would cement Mr. Roh's status as a truly historic Korean leader.

•Third, reunifying Korea would effectively eliminate Korea as an economic competitor to China for two decades as South Korea would invest more than $1 trillion to rebuild the North to bring it up to Southern standards.

•Fourth, a united Korea preoccupied with rebuilding the North would share a long and vulnerable border with China, forcing Korea completely into a Chinese tributary orbit, as it has been for much of its history. This would represent a strategic Chinese diplomatic victory and would represent a blow to Japan and the U.S.

•Fifth and perhaps just as important as all the other reasons, a Korea reunited under the auspices of China would greatly strengthen China's hand in demanding the same of Taiwan, even though the historical case for unification is weak while the moral case is nonexistent.

The 30,000 American troops in South Korea are not sufficient to stop any serious conflict on the Korean peninsula and given the amount of public reluctance to support our military against our active enemies, its doubtful there will be support against our active trading partner.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

High and Good Bye

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at an all time high, which may or may not be anything meaningful. Common wisdom holds that the prices of this mix of 30 common stocks, selected, weighted and altered by a few Wall Street Journal Editors, reflects the over all health of the economy. The index is not prophetic but it is fair to say that at this moment in time the US economy is very good. National Review Online thinks the GOP is being way timid about taking credit.

The GOP Has Some Explaining to Do: The stock market and the 2003 tax cuts are directly linked . . . and Republicans need to say so. … The largest demographic shift in this country over the past 25 years is the number of Americans who own stocks directly. When Ronald Reagan entered the White House, only 17 percent of Americans were direct stockowners. Today more than 50 percent of households, and two out of every three voters, owns shares of stock. Investors, regardless of income, wealth, gender, or race, more often vote Republican than non-investors. This rapid rise of middle-class investors has made shareholders the most powerful voting bloc in the country.

Of course every working American would be holding actual assets if the GOP had the political courage to restructure Social Security from promises to property. Still the tax cuts are the reason for the current prosperity and it is quite possible both could disappear simultaneously given a change in leadership.

Locally, Milwaukee based manufacturer Badger Meter announces a third quarter net loss. Before jumping to assumptions it is prudent to note the loss is entirely from expensing a decision to cease operations and completely close one business unit.

Badger Meter: “The performance of the French operations has been disappointing for some time, due to the weak automotive fluid meter market in France and difficulty in gaining acceptance of new products. We explored other options for this business, but in the end, the shutdown and orderly liquidation of the assets was the only viable alternative.”

The one place worse for manufacturing than Milwaukee is apparently France. Fortunately the newly unemployed have a government that will take care of them by increasing taxes on the remaining businesses.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Our Outdoor Way of Life

The Fox River in northeast Wisconsin is called Paper Valley for the industry at the foundation of the local economy. Growth is not without consequences and for many years polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs were dumped as waste into the river. The episode is a classic example of environment pollution that has rightly been addressed. Good enough is never good enough, however, when the standard is perfection.

Judge rejects Wisconsin group's challenge of pollution settlement April 2004: A legal attempt to overturn a settlement with Georgia-Pacific Corp. involving environmental damages caused by pollution in the Fox River has failed. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman rejected a citizens group's claims that the 2002 settlement did not contain enough money for the company's share of the environmental damages and it violated federal procedures.

Last May, Governor Jim Doyle vetoes a bill protecting existing private piers for access to the waterways of Wisconsin. The Governor fully supports the environmentalists in the Department of Natural Resources who believe piers are a hindrance to establishing pristine pre-European waterways. Good enough is never good enough for an idealized conception.

Mark Green Comments: I certainly hope Jim Doyle will do the right thing and tell his DNR to let Wisconsinites enjoy their summer. I can't imagine walking out to a pier, only to find a DNR official crawling around, tape measure in hand, ready to hand out a fee if a family is not in 'compliance.'

Conservationists want clean surroundings and areas preserved for both wildlife and recreation. Environmentalists want to change the way we live to recreate the past, and they want to do this by government control of society. From the beginning of his campaign for Governor, Republican Mark Green has pledged to reform the DNR. It makes sense to assign one group to focus on true pollution enforcement, while others manage our land and water to preserve the outdoor way of life of our citizens.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dane County Land Grab

Kathleen Falk has a political machine in Dane County she hopes will lead her to higher office. It is, therefore, instructive to observe how county politics operates under her watchful eye. Vicki McKenna is tracking how neighborhood elitism is seized as an opportunity to expand government land control.

In summary: Arboretum Lane (see the scattered houses just below the lake) is part of an older legally plotted area adjacent to a University of Wisconsin nature preserve south of Lake Wingra. Home builder Darren Kittleson purchases two lots from an existing homeowner with plans to construct two new environmentally friendly houses. Existing residents, including a few UW Professors, freak out and the battle between Protect the UW Arboretum and Dane County Land Grab begins.

Pressed to find legal ways to prevent the two new homes, the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation Committee arrange a quiet meeting in an out of the way venue and draft a zoning change. The county has established a Shoreland Protection District with very broad power to control private land use “within 1,000 feet from the ordinary high-water mark of navigable lakes, ponds or flowages". Now the committee, with as little attention as possible, attempts to amend the provisions to require consolidation and building restrictions on older plotted lots.


Motion by Hendrick, seconded by Miles and carried unanimously to amend Ordinance Amendment Number 10, 06-07 at Article 2 to add subsection (1a) to read: (1a) Transfer of Development Rights. The owner of a lot which, as a result of the adoption of Ordinance Amendment 10, 06-07, ceases to be an allowable building site, may transfer the right to build one (1) residence pursuant to section 10.159. Such a transfer shall be memorialized by the recording of a deed restriction precluding residential development of the non-buildable shoreland lot.

In essence, the desire to placate NIMBY UW Professors is understood as an opportunity to administratively limit the development rights of thousands of land owners across the entire county. The primacy of common good over private rights is being justified in the name of protecting the environment from hypothetical harm and Kathleen Falk could easily halt the process, but it is entirely consistent with everything she believes. Saving nature from the harm of human ownership is what she feels driven to do to all of Wisconsin.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Illicit Enrichment

Cuba's attorney general's office reported in March that it prosecuted 487 people in the past three years for illicit enrichment.” Hard as it may be to believe, 47 years of a command economy creates widespread poverty and individual free will responds with a black market in about everything. Babalu Blog notes some tough talk by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez.

Cuban Transition to Democracy: One of the harshest restrictions on freedom of expression is Law 88. It is known as the "Gag Law" and it states that Cubans who speak out against the "economic state" of the Regime face up to 20 years in prison. So, in order to survive, the Regime has criminalized one of the most basic human rights -- freedom of expression.

Now that the Fidel era is coming to an end, we ask all freedom-loving societies to stand with the people of Cuba. It would be an historical shame if Raul were supported in his quest to retain power.

Just to be clear, illicit enrichment means failure to abide by government controlled price and supply guidelines and not ample free market profits. I know in the past Governor Jim Doyle has gotten those concepts completely confused.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Absurdity of Darfur

American Special Envoy Andrew Natsios is in Sudan, presumably to explain the thinking behind the United States strengthening sanctions against the Islamic government of President Omar al-Bashir, while simultaneously providing $700 million dollars of infrastructure construction to the same government. All this against the backdrop of regional violence which is getting worse since UN diplomacy achieved the Darfur Peace Agreement signed May 5th of this year.

Analysis 1: “Currently both sides of this [peace agreement] are trying to solve the conflict militarily,” said European envoy Pekka Haavisto during a three-day visit to Khartoum. "This is of course as far off the peace agreement as possible. We are giving both sides the message you should act in a disciplined way, you should give peace a chance."

The peace agreement signed by one of three western region rebel groups isn’t doing any body any good and chanting “give peace a chance” won’t stop civil war.

The government of Omar al-Bashir is fighting tribal groups loyal to Hassan Abdellah al-Turabi who invited and hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1991 to 1996. In some sense Sudan is fighting the war on the jihadists in the way Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has failed to do in his country. The problem for western sensibilities is the Sudanese are fighting an ancient style of warfare where you aggressively kill and disperse your enemy. Al-Bashir's intention to control his country is evidenced by his refusal to allow UN forces inside his borders and in achieving peace with the eastern rebels, thus securing control of Sudan’s only oil export port.

Analysis 2: Complicating all this is a decades-long struggle in Sudan over the nature of the state—how far a supposedly militant Islamist regime can go in reformulating political and cultural life in the country. As early as 1966, Sadiq al-Mahdi, descendent leader of a historical and respected political community and head of the sometime governing Umma party, declared, “The dominant feature of our nation is an Islamic one … and this Nation will not have its entity identified and its prestige and pride preserved except under an Islamic revival.” Militant Islamists in Sudan, however, push for the programmatic exclusion of other beliefs.

So in Sudan the absurdity of our interaction with the Islamic world is on full display. We have Condoleezza Rice saying diplomatic things like “Darfur, which is another one of these conflicts where you have an inequitable distribution of resources”, while Osama Bin Laden is saying Jihadist things like “I am inviting the mujahidin and their supporters in the Sudan and other countries around, including the Arabian peninsula in particular, to prepare all that is needed for a long-term war against the Crusaders and thieves in western Sudan”.

It appears the Bush administration has come to the conclusion it is better to deal with those Muslims who value wealth and power in this life, and let them suppress the Muslims who desire to exemplify the corruptive absolutism of their holy war faith.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cops and Robbers Prosecutors

Madison writer John Nichols presents the progressive understanding of the proper role of a state attorney general, and it is clear the left covets AG positions not for their traditional law enforcement functions but for their utility in pursing social activism.

State Cops: The days when state attorneys general were merely cops-and-robbers prosecutors are long gone. In states across the country, and increasingly at the national level, attorneys general are in the forefront of fights on everything from access to birth control to price-gouging by oil companies to preserving pensions to preventing state laws from being pre-empted by free-trade agreements. Of particular note has been their aggressive and often effective advocacy on behalf of environmental protection initiatives”.

The progressive movement believes they can define common good for the population and the coercive power of government is the most direct and efficient way to achieve their goals. Arnold Kling at TCS Daily posts ten Libertarian Propositions and I especially agree with the following two items.

6. Government is just one of many institutions for collective action. There also are trade associations, civic associations, religious groups, charities, and many other organizations that can provide collective goods.

7. Government's unique institutional characteristic is the legal use of coercive force. This creates enormous potential for abuse, and indeed, there are many countries where government abuses its powers constantly, to the severe detriment of the population. The abuses are less evil in the United States, but where liberals look at government expansion and see opportunity, libertarians see threat.

There are many legitimate concerns in our society and there are many “institutions for collective action” available to address the issues. In their desire to obtain power to achieve their good intentions, liberals consistently infuse their rhetoric with false urgency. When I drive through America, I do not see an environment in danger of ecological collapse so I don't need an AG trying to control all private land within a 1,000 feet of lakes and streams. I do want my top cop to focus on “cops-and-robbers” prosecutions and not on suing private business for excessive free market success.

Friday, October 13, 2006

It’s the Seriousness of the Charge

Kathleen Falk’s campaign for the Wisconsin Attorney General job unleashes a serious charge against her Republican Challenger JB Van Hollen.
Falk Campaign Release: Under JB Van Hollen’s leadership, the Western District of Wisconsin ranked at or near the bottom in prosecutions per capita every single year.
Apparently there is not enough crime “per capita” in the Western District of Wisconsin for the Falk supporters. It’s not like he had Milwaukee County to drive the “per capita” rate higher. Sounds like grasping at straws to me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Very Winter Autumn Day

On an autumn day Channel 27 describes as “very winter-like with temperatures in the 30s, wind chills in the 20s, and scattered snow showers”, the Wisconsin State Journal runs their version of local investigative reporting called global warming is changing our state. My favorite line is this: “One of the confusing things about climate change is that some species suffer while others benefit”. Exactly.

The reporting takes five independent small studies and wants to offer them as evidence for a theory of unnatural climate change. The data on 150 years of lake ice melting is a favorite of the end of the world alarmists, and completely ignores the point that several thousand years ago the ice over those spots was continually hundreds of feet thick. It was glacier time in the future home of environmentalist central and it is “a profoundly altered world” since then. There ain’t no status quo in nature so evidence of slight changes is evidence that life is normal.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Uniformity Clause

The Milwaukee Federalists highlight a report on a conference last week. Wisconsin maintains “the sixth oldest constitution in the nation” and it appears to be holding up pretty well as the “purely functional” and frequently amended document it is intended to be.

Is Wisconsin’s Constitution Obsolete? As noted, while the participants at the conference were not favorable to a new constitution, the uniformity clause was a common sore spot they wanted to repeal.

Article VIII, Section 1 known as The Uniformity Clause exists to prevent “preferential tax treatment to influential property owners”. This requirement keeps getting in the way of political attempts to reduce property tax burdens and political attempts to use differential taxation to drive social engineering. In other words, the clause has detractors on both ends of the spectrum. I personally believe it is time to break the historical link between land and taxes. Private property rights and citizen control of the government are both weakened when government asserts an unsatisfiable obligation on land ownership. As Newt says, real change requires real change.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dust on the Wind Breakthrough

If Al Gore is such a brilliant expert how come he didn’t know this?

Dust May Dampen Hurricane Fury: Lead author Amato Evan, a researcher at UW-Madison's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), pored over 25 years of satellite data - dating from 1981-2006 - and noticed the correlation. During periods of intense hurricane activity, he found, dust was relatively scarce in the atmosphere. In years when stronger dust storms rose up, on the other hand, fewer hurricanes swept through the Atlantic.

Since discussions about a human induced apocalypse from global warming have the scientific validity of a Kevin Barrett Textbook, allow me to engage in a level of scholarship currently tolerated at the UW Madison in the name of diversity.

Because it will soon be unarguably established by a consensus of 501(3)c and government grant recipients that sand in the air absolutely protects the coastal areas of our country, and because it is always worthwhile spending billions and billions of dollars, it is urgently imperative that we immediately act to clear all of our shorelines of vegetation. Beaches baby!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nork’s Explode Something Big

The North Koreans explode something big enough to generate detectable seismic activity but there is a wide difference of opinion about if they were completely successful in making all their atomic bomb fantasies come real. There are good reaction round ups at DANEgerous and Michelle Malkin and Q and O blogs.

My biggest concern is that very few living individuals have direct memory of witnessing nuclear destruction. For almost everyone living on the planet the danger of nuclear explosion is only a mental concept. People understand potential against the background of their experience and so nuclear weapons are thought of as something probably worse than the Indonesian Tsunami or Hurricane Katrina. As much as I despair the thought it may well take the experience of a real calamity to concentrate the minds about the magnitude of the threat to our happy affluent little lives.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Loosing the Judiciary

Madison liberals are refreshingly honest about what they believe. Matthew Rothschild, an editor of The Progressive, posts a brief comment about the “demise of our democracy”.

Sawing Off the Judicial Branch: “The Constitution . . . provides the courts with relatively few tools to superintend military and foreign policy decisions, especially during wartime,” the Attorney General told a crowd at Georgetown Law School on September 29. He added that judges should display “a proper sense of judicial humility” and if they don’t, they “should not be shielded from criticism.”

At the same event, Newt Gingrich energetically followed up. Supreme Court decisions that are “so clearly at variance with the national will” should be overridden by Congress or the President, he said. Never mind that this goes against the foundational principle of our judiciary, as expounded in Marbury versus Madison way back in 1803, that the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the law.

True progressives don’t like judicial humility and especially not in response to criticism of decisions in conflict with the desires of the population. Well forgive me for the lack of big crocodile tears, but no branch of government is perfect and immune from the ultimate judgment of the citizens who are the rightful owners of our public institutions. Government by consent of the governed is the first American precedent and nothing in Marbury v. Madison changes this fact.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

One Month Till the Vote

The general election is one month away and while you need to register you still don’t need an address in Wisconsin to register to vote in Wisconsin. You do need to sign a form attesting to your right to vote and provide a map of the spot you call home.

Voter Registration Form: If you do not have a street number or if you have no address, please use the map to show where you live:
> Write the names of the crossroads (or streets) nearest to where you live.
> Draw an ‘X’ to show where you live.
> Use a dot to show any schools, churches, stores or other landmarks where you live and write the name of the landmark.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is fully in force which means that unlike the past, all municipalities in Wisconsin must maintain and share registered voter lists with the State.
FAQ on HAVA: HAVA does, however, also increase the State’s responsibility for election administration to better achieve uniformity and consistency. Still, voter registration, election administration, vote counting, and reporting continue to be locally owned and run. In Wisconsin, all voter registration records are maintained at the local level. Currently, only 320 of the State's 1,850 municipalities have voter registration as previously voter registration was required in municipalities with a population of more than 5,000.

Democratic Governor Jim Doyle vetoes a Voter ID requirement for the third time on April 29, 2005 so while you are supposed to show ID to get on a voter list, there is still no requirement to prove you are the person on the list at a polling place.

Wisconsin Voter Registration: Individuals whose names appear on the voter registration list are presumed to meet all eligibility requirements and, in general, are neither required to provide identification or proof of residence nor to otherwise demonstrate eligibility at the polls.

In other words, while positive steps have been taken to insure accuracy in elections, there are still ways to game the system if a municipal election board under political pressure wants to influence the totals.

The Federalist Society: While HAVA only applies to federal elections, the practical and cost-related difficulties of maintaining two separate voter registration and election systems, one for state elections and one for federal elections, make it virtually certain that these mandates will also be applied to local elections by almost all of the States.

I am sure Landslide Lyndon would agree that politics is a game played to win and there are very high stakes for the winners this coming November 7th.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dane County Sheriff Choices

When your campaign radio ad produces fits of laughter has effectiveness been achieved? I suppose the answer depends on if the message was supposed to be humorous. Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin and long time critic of Dane County Administrator Kathleen Falk is resigning, thus guaranteeing a new law enforcement leader for the second largest county in Wisconsin.

For some reason, the Dave Mahoney campaign purchases air time on Vicki McKenna's show for an ad in which Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold sing the praises of Falk’s endorsed candidate because he opposes the gay marriage ban. Especially priceless was the section in Spanish. Vicki must not have previewed the spot because the idea of a candidate for Sheriff spending limited campaign funds promoting himself on the basis of his gay marriage stand was so ludicrous it leaves her in hysterics.

Mahoney’s webpage promises to post all media spots, but this particular gem is not yet on the site. His endorsement section is subdivided into various categories including citizens but strangely missing is non-citizen support. There are 31 days until the election and if the Kathleen Falk – Jim Doyle arm of the Democratic Party take effective control of the Dane County Sheriff’s department, then Falk’s vision of Dane County being a no questions asked world refuge and government service center will be in place.

Republican candidate Mike Hanson is running on safety and law enforcement issues and not about advancing a social engineering agenda. Just like the Attorney General race, the voters have a meaningful and distinct choice on the direction of law enforcement this November 7th.
UPDATE: 10/4 Radio Ad - Mahoney’s ad featuring Baldwin and Feingold has been posted. Mahoney, Mahoney – Feel Good Liberal Baloney.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

300 Million Watching Europe

There are a lot of Americans. The Census Bureau says we are on the verge of 300 Million individuals, most of them citizens, living within our borders. As a country we were settled by Europeans who decided they wanted what Europe didn’t offer. That wave of immigration completely changed everything that existed on this continent.

Both Power Line and Atlas Shrugs point to a Paul Belien essay in The Brussels Journal discussing the wave of immigration in Europe. The author asserts that western media is at best misunderstanding and at worst deliberately lying about the large Muslim enclaves in every major city. A few snippets for illustration but do read the entire article.

Show Them Who Is the Boss in France: Unlike their fathers, who came to France from Muslim countries, accepting that, whilst remaining Muslims themselves, they had come to live in a non-Muslim country, the rioters see France as their country. They were born here. This land is their land. And since they are Muslims, this land, or at least a part of it, is Muslim as well. The society they live in is a homogeneous Islamic one. For them that is society, there is no other.

Europe willingly opened the door to the Muslims, not just by allowing large-scale immigration on an unprecedented level, but also by encouraging the newcomers to retain their culture. Several million Muslim immigrants allowed in at a speed and scale that was unique in history.

The French government is failing completely in the basic task of government: maintaining law and order so that each citizen can live and work in safety. What is more, the government has abdicated.

A foundation concept for open borders advocates is that residence, culture and even citizenship are less important than jurisdiction. What we are seeing in Europe is a rejection of jurisdiction by large established populations who have been encouraged to retain the social aspects of their ancestors. In past human migrations, new arrivals are pressured to change, adapt and assimilate by their immersion in the new environment. With modern technology, however, there is no real need to significantly disconnect from the homeland.

Today the forests of satellite dishes on the apartment blocks in the suburbs of Western European cities link the immigrants to the culture of their countries of origin, whose television programmes they watch day after day.

There are a lot of Americans but we are outnumbered 21 to 1 on the planet and roughly 23 percent of our global co-inhabitants are Muslim. All of this would be less a concern except for their demonstrable propensity to create almost completely homogeneous communities where the only acceptable way of life is submission to the laws of Islam.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Partners for Fish and Wildlife

Wisconsin land owners with honeysuckle bushes may be able to claim some of the $75 million dollars President Bush just made available by signing the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act into law. The money goes to people but its all about compassion for pre-European plants and critters.

New Law Formalizes Private Lands Conservation Program: The law authorizes the Department of the Interior, through the Partners Program, to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to restore, enhance, and manage private lands to improve fish and wildlife habitats.

The administrative details are still being finalized but according to the Full Text (pdf), the funds are there for anyone able to sales pitch a project to the Department of the Interior. Feel free to be creative because by definition, habitat enhancement is any “activity conducted to increase or decrease a specific function for the purpose of benefiting species”.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program: The Partners Program was established in 1987 with a core group of biologists and a small budget for on-the-ground wetland restoration projects on private lands.

Because this is Federal money it may be possible to get some fancy new landscaping, a new drainage system and even dredging work done on the government dime without mucking around with Wisconsin’s own DNR. Ok, I joke, there is no way the DNR is going to let anything happen on their turf without their consent and cut of the action.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Swimming in Tax Dollars

Madison exists because Judge James Duane Doty purchased 1261 acres of wilderness between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona and distributed subplots to enough people until the territorial government selected his site as the new capital. Madison exists because of the lakes and for a century and a half the residents refreshed themselves from the summer heat in the cool waters.

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal reports our first and only public swimming pool in Madison ends the year with a “$140,000 operating loss”. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, self avowed proponent of city ownership, pushed construction of a pool through City Council with support from Progressive Dane. A brief synopsis shows the construction cost approved at $4,125,000 then increased to $4,850,000 and topped off with an extra $31,590to seek” an environmental award. For good measure, the project financially links to the school system to provide swimming lessons.

Pool draws many but leaves deficit: In general, "the mayor was very pleased to see the success of the pool in terms of attendance and of diversity," said George Twigg, spokesman for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "On any given day, the Goodman pool was the most diverse place to be in Madison."

Sound fiscal policy can afford to be secondary to diversity when you have the power of taxation to even up the rough spots. By the way, Mayor Dave also reveals his new budget for next year with only a teeny tiny little 3.6 percent tax increase offered. As for the swimming lessons … well lifeguards made “nearly 90 serious rescues” at the pool.

"These are teens and adults who go off the diving board and don't have the swimming ability to get to the side of the pool." … It goes back to a very basic point in Madison," he said. "I believe there are generations of families who never learned to swim."

I’m sure most of the rescued have a union made public education to display that much trust in government employees to save them.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Achieving Corruption with Campaign Law

Surfing the web yesterday I notice a George Will op-ed entitled Speechless In Seattle, in which he sounds another warning about how campaign finance laws are making mockery of the First Amendment. Perhaps the partisan abuse of these laws by Doyle’s State Election Board appointees has local bloggers primed to magnify the warning as Dad29 and the Texas Hold 'Em Blogger and Charlie Sykes all relay the message.

George Will highlights a State of Washington lawsuit against two Seattle Talk Radio hosts. Local hostess extraordinaire Vicki McKenna spoke about this case a year ago prompting me to write about the ominous ruling against KVI Radio. A Judge rules the station “must report the airtime of two talk show hosts as in-kind political contributions”.

July 11, 2005: The key phrase is “money or its equivalent”, because once campaign finance regulates not only money but anything that can be expressed in terms of money, then government has the power to regulate virtually all activity.

In other words talk is money and money can be restricted, therefore, free speech can be controlled and limited to the satisfaction of the government. To their immense credit KVI refuses to be silenced, appealing all the way to the State Supreme Court. The hearing on Case No. 3 - 77966-0 San Juan County v. No New Gas Tax was Thursday, June 8, 2006 and now almost four months later the Court has yet to rule.

Abusing Election Laws to Prevent Competition: Election laws exist to ensure orderly voting and vote counting and to facilitate a democratic process that helps citizens choose their officials. Increasingly, however, election laws are being used not to achieve either of these ends but rather to reduce competition and deprive voters of choices.

Elections should be decided by voters in November, not by lawyers and judges in August. For the past six years much attention has been focused on improving the mechanics of voting and on calls for redistricting reform. But another important way to ensure that voters, rather than courts, choose our leaders is to demand election laws that are no more extensive in their reach than absolutely necessary. A comprehensive review of election laws that serve no compelling state interest would be a good place to start in 2007.

Campaign Finance laws are excessively complex, unduly restrictive and un-American in spirit. Politicians wove this web of traps and barriers in a verbal fog of anti-corruption idealism. The irony is that true corruption is the abandonment of principles, like freedom of speech, for the simple pursuit of power.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

97 Reasons Why

Investors Business Daily writes a concise review of America’s recent interaction with the rest of the world and enumerates 97 Reasons Democrats Are Weak On Defense. Individuals who admire Jimmy Carter may want to skip this article and re-read Why Mommy is a Democrat with its simple words and colorful cartoon illustrations.

H/T: DANEgerus