Sunday, April 30, 2006

Truckstop Honeymoon Night

Lola and I live in Madison, despite the intellectually misguided leadership, because major University towns are stopping points for individuals from all the backgrounds of the planet. Tonight we attend a show at Cafe Montmartre because authentic country music comes from the people living downwind from the chemical plants. Besides, real life is better than recording.

Truckstop Honeymoon: Katie Euliss learned guitar, piano and bucket bass in the streets of New Orleans. She scammed enough money from tourists to buy Lucky Strikes and smoked oysters for six years. Then she met Mike West. Part entertainer, part snake oils salesman, Mike lived by pickin’ banjo and selling cds that he claimed were a curative for hangovers and small mindedness. Together they began a perpetual tour of North America, Europe and Australia. They spent their wedding night in the Tiger Truck Stop, somewhere between Lafayette and the Atchafalya Swamp, Truckstop Honeymoon was born.

Katrina destroyed the 9th Ward of New Orleans where the law never really cared much about how people lived. All nine of their chickens drowned and the strawberries were dispersed in all directions. In the purest of tradition of country music, Katie and Mike sing about the reality and dreams of the children of asphalt pavers raising children of their own, while aspiring for a love just like June and Johnny Cash.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Al Qaeda, Darfur and Democrats

Al Qaeda leader and unapologetic mass murderer Ayman al-Zawahiri releases a video bragging about how the 800 suicide bombings in Iraq have “broken the back” of America. FOX, CNN and the rest of the MSM run stories making sure the American news consumer knows what Al Qaeda wants us to know. It is with some irony that the Iraqi Government response to this latest evidence of terrorist self-delusion gets coverage by China View.
Iraq responds to Zawahri videotape: BAGHDAD, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's Interior Ministry responded on Saturday to the al-Qaida's No. 2 leader who issued a video saying that hundreds of suicide bombings in Iraq have "broken the back" of the U.S. military.

The ministry said in a statement that a total of 500 out of 800 suicide operations that Zawahri mentioned in his videotape were carried out against Iraqi civilians in mosques, churches, popular markets, schools and government buildings, aiming at sparking sectarian strife among Iraqis. The statement said that more than 100 suicide operations were carried out against Iraqi security forces, while some 104 suicide operations were foiled by Iraqi security forces.
The Al Qaeda leadership are educated intelligent people who understand that taking credit for muslims killing muslims is bad public relations. What the media is missing is that much of the violence in the region is purely to achieve political power and that means blowing up mosques and fellow followers of the Prophet, when needed.

This is a reality the 5 Democrat Congressmen Arrested outside the Sudan Embassy need to understand. A quick review of Conflict History: Sudan, shows the country has been at some level of civil war almost continually since becoming independent in 1956. The American press is selling a version of the latest flare-up in violence as an Arab government committing genocide against Black Africans. This may not be a completely accurate characterization of what is clearly a horribly violent tragedy.
5 Truths About Darfur: 1 Nearly everyone is Muslim, 2 Everyone is black, 3 It's all about politics, 4 This conflict is international, 5 The "genocide" label made it worse.

Although analysts have emphasized the racial and ethnic aspects of the conflict in Darfur, a long-running political battle between Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir and radical Islamic cleric Hassan al-Turabi may be more relevant. … Meanwhile, Sudan is China's fourth-biggest supplier of imported oil, and that relationship carries benefits. China, which holds veto power in the U.N. Security Council, has said it will stand by Sudan against U.S. efforts.

Hassan al-Turabi: According to Ugandan columnist Abdul-Raheem Tajudeen, writing in New Vision newspaper, "Darfur is a victim of the split within the National Islamic Front personified by detained former spiritual leader of the organisation, Dr Hassan al-Turabi and his former protege, General Omar al-Bashir, the president. "Al-Turabi’s support is very strong in Darfur, and because of that Darfur is enemy territory for the government".
The Democrats should remember from the 9-11 Commission Report that Dr. Hassan al-Turabi is the person who nurtured Osama bin Laden and “urged him to transplant his whole organization to Sudan”.

If Reps. Tom Lantos of California, James McGovern and John Olver of Massachusetts, James Moran of Virginia, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas want to be involved with this regional tragedy, then they should be very careful to keep their focus entirely upon humanitarian relief. Al-Qaeda sympathizers started this most recent rebellion that the Sudanese government is violently repressing. In my opinion, any congressional member providing political support for Al-Qaeda linked militia violence crosses the line into treason.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pual Bucher Loses My Vote

Paul Bucher lost my vote for Wisconsin Attorney General. Hat tip: for making the correct case that Bucher believes and advocates positions absolutely in conflict with both constitutional 4th amendment protections and the general concept of individual liberty. The Waukesha District Attorney is an advocate for police manned sobriety check points and the fact the Supreme Court approved this travesty of the rule of law does not make it consistent with our historical understanding of individual liberty.
GOP3: Police Stops: It is important to note that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld sobriety checkpoints. But just because government can do something doesn’t mean that it ought to. And in this case, conservatives ought to make common cause with libertarians. I don’t often agree with Justice Brennan, but his dissent puts it well: “That stopping every car might make it easier to prevent drunken driving… is an insufficient justification for abandoning the requirement of individualized suspicion… The most disturbing aspect of the Court’s decision today is that it appears to give no weight to the citizen’s interest in freedom from suspicionless investigatory seizures.”
Bucher’s support of a police state approach to the problem of drunk driving is verified by his campaign website with a section about his Positions on Drunk Driving. In particular Bucher cites his founding of PARC or Preventing Alcohol Related Crashes, a 501(c)(3) non-profit working at the Waukesha County level to advance a MADD Wisconsin agenda. All Wisconsin citizens should be concerned that Bucher’s organization accepts and promotes what can only be called preventive law enforcement.
Waukesha County Traffic Enforcement Initiative: Law enforcement personnel do not target drunk drivers. During the patrols, drivers are stopped for all traffic or safety violation, often finding impaired drivers or underage drinkers as a result, as well as speeders, seat-belt violations, and other traffic safety matters.
This policy aggressively approaches the boundry of warrantless search of American citizens. This is not the only area where Bucher is willing to play fast and loose with our constitutional protections against oppressive police powers. The Washington Post has details.
Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense: The Virginia case mentioned above is troubling for another reason: The cops raided that home without a search warrant. This is becoming more and more common in jurisdictions with particularly militant approaches to underage drinking. A prosecutor in Wisconsin popularized the practice in the late 1990s when he authorized deputies to enter private residences without warrants, "by force, if necessary," when there was the slightest suspicion of underage drinking. For such "innovative" approaches, Paul Bucher won plaudits from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which awarded him a place in the "Prosecutors as Partners" honor roll on the MADD Web site.
No conservative should consider voting for anyone so openly committed to idea that the pursuit of public safety trumps the process protections free individuals have from the intrusive reach of the state. In the words of other Wisconsin bloggers:

Grumps: Bucher and van Hollen don't want to be AG. They want to be Batman, a super crimefighter, saving Wisconsin from scourges they can't talk about.

Dad29: Paul, that's not Law Enforcement. That's the old "Show Us Your Papers" business.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Spirits and Chernobyl

It was twenty years ago today, a Soviet Communist nuclear reactor at Chernobyl went into meltdown in the worst nuclear power accident in history. Madison based Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S., Inc. has a remembrance this evening. Now two decades later as global demand pushes oil prices ever higher, it is good to remember the potential downside risks to fission technology. Abbreviated FOCCUS, the organization is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) on a mission “to foster education regarding psychosocial and community recovery from technological disasters”.

Psychosocial and community recovery sounds like a worthwhile cause so searching for more detail I discover the event co-sponsor, Pathways Foundation for Peace and Healing which is also a Madison area tax exempt 501(c)(3) on a mission. Not wanting to be constrained by a specific tragedy, the Pathways Foundation has a more universal quest to support “shamanic and other spiritual traditions to bring peacemaking and healing to the problems we face in the current world.”

The shamanic movement has numerous activities and projects and there is still time to become involved when the peace clans gather at the end of December. Healing for the Birds is an effort to restore the imbalances of the world as they are adversely effecting avian populations, especially those serving as animal guides. The call is put forth from a vision which I have edited down but deserves a complete reading for complete understanding.
I journeyed to the question: What do the birds want to tell the peace clans?

I was taken above the earth out into the stars. As I looked down on the earth, you could see where the energy of the earth wasn't spinning right any more. The plates deep inside the earth were shifting and cracking and crumbling. Because of this shift, the birds were being "thrown" off the planet. Their bodies couldn't hold the shift in the energy. ...

When I awoke, all the birds of the planet were gathering in council. They were different than our birds, although you could make out some similar characteristics. The leader was a bird that resembled our eagle. It began to tell me that the people of earth needed to learn to live in the stillness. That the earth's shifting and wobbling wasn't going to stop anytime soon and we had to learn to change our energy to that of stillness.
This is Madison all right. Pools of non-taxed money interspersed with the flood of tax dollars pouring into Capital City, funding thousands of individuals who in one way or another are waiting and hoping for America to run out of energy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is Donna Shalala Anti-Union?

Donna Shalala hires Barry Alvarez to coach UW Football before hightailing off to Washington to be Bill Clinton's Secretary of Health and Human Services. There are major fault lines within the Democratic Party and the chasm between establishment liberals and poor workers is becoming active.
Is Donna Shalala Anti-Union?: That's where we come to Shalala's behavior. Publicly, she has said that the university has no role in the negotiations and she displays all sorts of nice quotes about how the university needs to be a good corporate ciutizen. But, privately, she has allowed UNICCO to run an antiunion campaign; union organizers from SEIU were kicked off the campus when they were handing out food and water to the workers after Hurricane Wilma, the organizers aren't allowed on campus and students are prohibited from posting information about the union (so much for free speech).
A prolonged strike is ongoing at the University of Miami. At issue are pay scales, job security and healthcare benefits for a largely immigrant janitorial staff employed by the cleaning firm UNICCO.
Miami Herald: Some janitors began a strike in early March to demand wage increases, healthcare and the right to form a union. The university has since raised service workers' wages to more than $8 an hour and offered healthcare, but negotiations have stalled over whether workers can unionize by signing cards rather than holding a secret election.
The strike and union activism are spearheaded by Andrew Stern’s SEIU and this may be the model for future large scale social protests, as the socialists and their allies mount another attempt to gain control of the U.S. Government.
UM Janitor Strike: Sen. John Edwards and Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa spoke out against UNICCO, the University of Miami's cleaning contractor, and called on UM President Donna Shalala to intervene to ensure that the janitors on her campus are treated fairly.

Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the union helping the workers unite-the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is on his fifth day of a fast to call for justice. Each night he is joined by a growing list of supporters in the fast at Freedom City. In the past week, SEIU President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, also chair of the 6 million-strong Change to Win labor federation have also fasted, along with actor Ed Asner and Florida state Sen. Tony Hill.
"$500 a month for family health insurance, how can I pay that?" Said Clara Vargas a janitor at UM with a 10-year-old son. The progressive movement is going to ask that question over and over, then follow up with, “how can you afford the gasoline to get to work?”. Joking about the image of Ed Asner fasting is not a solution. The Republicans need to come up with serious and principled answers if they want to continue their hold on power.

Monday, April 24, 2006

We Don’t Like You, You Can’t Be A Lawyer

What does the future portend for your career if it takes a Supreme Court decision to allow you to practice law in Wisconsin? One man is determined to find out and his case goes before the court this Friday. 05AP2061 Dominic J Anderson v Board of Bar Examiners.
This is a petition to review a determination of the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE), an agency of the Supreme Court that checks the fitness and character of people seeking to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. The BBE also administers the Bar Exam and monitors lawyers’ compliance with continuing education requirements.

This case involves a former Monona Police Department officer who graduated ninth out of 148 in his law school class but was not admitted to the Wisconsin Bar because of concerns about his character and fitness for the practice of law. He is appealing this decision, and the Supreme Court will decide whether he will be permitted to practice law in Wisconsin.

Here is the background: Dominic J. Anderson is a native of Richland Center who interrupted his college career to serve in the military during Operation Desert Storm. He earned a number of medals for his service and ultimately led a platoon. He returned home to finish college at UW-Platteville, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a criminal justice major.

Anderson’s career in law enforcement began with a job at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. He soon moved to the Monona Police Department, where he served from February 1996 through June 2000. While Anderson’s performance was good during his first three years in Monona, things unraveled during the final year. A performance evaluation ranked him below standard in 11 of 21 categories, and he was, at one point, placed on administrative leave following some issues with the proper performance of his duties as a police officer.

In October 1999, Anderson was charged with four counts of criminal wrongdoing relating to his conduct during a social gathering that occurred while he was off-duty. He allegedly demonstrated what he called a “titty twister” on one woman (a colleague at the police department), and fondled and purchased drinks for another woman, who was underage. Although a jury found him not guilty of all offenses following a two day trial in June 2000, Anderson resigned from the Monona Police Department.

Anderson enrolled in law school at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in fall 2001 and graduated near the top of his class. He also worked as an unpaid legal extern for a federal district judge and served as an intern in the Criminal Defense Clinic.

Anderson applied for admission to the Wisconsin Bar in April 2004 and passed the Bar Exam that July. In December 2004, the BBE issued its preliminary decision to deny Anderson’s Bar application based upon a character-and-fitness report. Anderson requested and received a hearing, which was held April 6, 2005. His application was still denied, based upon concerns about his temperament, his ability to take responsibility for his actions, and his conduct as a police officer.

Now, Anderson has appealed that ruling. He argues that the record does not support a finding that he is unfit to practice law. He says that his job performance as a police officer was not egregious, but simply on occasion not up to standards. He also acknowledges that he showed poor judgment at the party that led to the criminal charges, but points out that he was acquitted by a jury. He also downplays the BBE’s concerns about his employment patterns (he was terminated from jobs at the Country Kitchen in Richland Center and Kwik Trip in Richland Center prior to going to college), arguing that two terminations from jobs in one’s youth does not show a negative pattern, especially when they occurred nearly 15 years before his application for Bar admission.

The BBE, on the other hand, points to a number of incidents in Anderson’s work history that, it says, demonstrate a pattern of poor judgment and an inability to make decisions without close supervision.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to admit Anderson to the Wisconsin Bar.
So should the State preemptively refuse to license someone they simply don’t like? More interesting is the idea of how long the stigma of past indiscretions should last. So much information is retained and accessible in this computer age it is easy to loose the perspective of the age and time of events. I hope any Judge who was not perfect in their youth would recuse themselves from this case.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bin Laden Ignores Iraq

Osama Bin Laden has again found the courage to supply a video tape to Al Jazeera urging the faithful believers of Al Qaeda's Ideology to continue fighting towards the goal of an all powerful Islamic Caliphate to rule the lives of humans. Tigerhawk analyses the content of the message and asks a very telling question. Why is there no mention of Iraq?
Bin Laden Changes the Subject: Less than 2 1/2 years ago, al Qaeda broke the news to the Taliban that it was diverting resources to Iraq so as to humiliate the American "Crusaders."

All this was on the orders of bin Laden himself, the sources said. Why? Because the terror chieftain and his top lieutenants see a great opportunity for killing Americans and their allies in Iraq and neighboring countries such as Turkey, according to Taliban sources who complain that their own movement will suffer... Bin Laden believes that Iraq is becoming the perfect battlefield to fight the “American crusaders” and that the Iraqi insurgency has been “100 percent successful so far,” according to a Taliban participant at the mid-November meeting who goes by the nom de guerre Sharafullah.

Al Qaeda drew a line in the sands of the Sunni Triangle, and the United States Army and Marines walked right across it. First, al Qaeda tried to kill Americans, per bin Laden's orders. It largely failed. Then al Qaeda went after America's allies, and succeeded only in turning public opinion against itself in every Muslim country it attacked. After thirty months of battlefield defeats and political embarrassments, bin Laden won't even mention Iraq in one of his rare public utterances, and he rallies his troops to fight a war where American soldiers aren't. How humiliating. How delightful.

Al Qaeda has lost in Iraq, and bin Laden is desperate to change the subject. He and his organization are at grave risk of being discredited, and when that happens it will be much harder for al Qaeda to attract recruits, raise money, or deal with governments.
During the Clinton years America acted as if Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are a criminal organization, completely missing the point that they are the leaders of an ideological movement with growing support in poor and poorly governed Islamic countries and circumscribed Muslim enclaves.

Al Qaeda leadership has consistently been able to use the success of their actions as validation of their principles. Success against the Russians in Afghanistan, followed by one terrorist attack after another against the United States culminating in the unexpected fall of the twin towers. All of these are offered as proof of divine favor. Success attracts money and followers, so the way to defeat an ideology is to dry up the financing and the new recruits by demonstrating for the entire world to witness, one defeat after another. After a while it becomes less and less credible to claim you are doing God’s work on Earth while hiding under the ground in a cave and smuggling out messages.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

America's Problem Plants

The United States is a wealthy and moral society which may be the reason American society is so politically committed to the War on Drugs. Like so many political solutions to legitimate problems, the answer for years has been prohibition of undesired activity. Libertarian website Hammer of Truth posts media reactions to the latest FDA Marijuana Advisory in a post titled Compassionate Conservatism: The Federal War on Patients. One commenter links to a summary of Drug Policy Studies.

The War on Drugs is also United States International Policy and while South America is increasingly being lost to socialist regimes , some ideological and some completely corrupt, the effects of U.S. drug policy is a significant factor in many regions of the continent.
Coca Quandary for Hard Up Bolivia: "The policy of the preceding neo-liberal governments was aimed, under the direction of the US embassy, at eradicating coca, and the policy did not concern itself with the poverty and the social and cultural aspects that were tied to cultivation.

"We are proposing a front-on assault on the real drugs trade... against money trading and the so-called precursor chemicals which are used to manufacture cocaine.

"The coca leaf itself is not a drug and the farmer is not a drug dealer... to this day, however, our prisons are crammed with simple and poor farmers, and not with the real drugs bosses."
The history of medicine is filled with well intentioned therapy which in time came to be understood as producing more harm than good. Bloodletting, electroshock therapy and hormone replacement therapy come to mind. I keep pondering the reasons the political forces for individual liberty, the pursuit of happiness and optimal freedom within limited government do not win an overwhelming popular vote mandate. It is probably because politics is more about money more than principles and the prohibitionist inclinations of the right are every bit as intransient as the ill conceived collectivism on the left.

I have been taught chemistry and botany and understand the difference between a molecule and a plant. If the Republicans want to expand their electoral margins from narrow to commanding majorities then they need to extend the offer of freedom to a greater base. There is room for compromise in the War on Drugs if the majority is willing to ease up on the laws against plants and focus on the behavior of individuals. The right wing needs to commit to the reality that freedom entails the right to behave in non-violent ways the majority doesn’t approve.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You Don't Choose the Crook

I sometimes wonder if the Capital Times Editorial Board has simply stopped trying to engage in reasoning. A nominee for the most simple minded “editorial” of 2006.

Green Sides with Doyle: U.S. Rep. Mark Green, the Republican challenger to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, has chosen a novel approach to the race. Instead of trying to distinguish himself from Doyle on taxes, he is trying to position himself as a carbon copy of the incumbent.

When Doyle ran for governor four years ago, he broke with fellow Democrats to advance a no-new-taxes pledge. Since his election, Doyle has held to that pledge, making deep cuts in state programs and laying off state employees at a far more aggressive rate than previous governors.

Now, Green says that if voters choose him over Doyle, he will maintain the incumbent's no-new-taxes pledge.

Green's big announcement raises the obvious question: Why bother changing governors if the challenger's prime promise is to govern as the incumbent already does?

The answer is when a good person and a crook offer to do the same job, you don’t choose the crook.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Animation Violated

Q: What is wrong with this sequence?

Harvey Birdman
Harvey Birdman
Family Guy
Saved by the Bell
Ghost in the Shell
Samurai Champloo

A: Everything. Please feel free to send any comments about Adult Swim to All of your thoughts and concerns will be reviewed.
On second thought don’t. Demographic data with email addresses are probably what Ted Turner’s corporate marketing wonks are fanaticizing about. A better plan may be to engage the off switch on the remote until this travesty passes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Grocery Problems in Capital City

Madison Wisconsin has more restaurants per capita than any other American city which is good because for some reason grocery stores are a huge municipal concern. For unknown reasons, downtown’s anti-capitalist coop source of politically correct food is once again in financial trouble.
Mifflin Street Coop: The vote was the third time in five years that people have rallied to save the not-for-profit co-op, 32 N. Bassett St., which opened in 1969 amid anti- capitalist sentiment. The store, which sells primarily organic and health foods, became a meeting place for students, radicals and anti-war protesters - sometimes all three embodied in the same person. … Monday's vote was triggered by a $30,000 loan due this summer that the co-op can't pay, said board president Matt Stoner. The co-op has about $100,000 in total debt, he said.
The good news for our non-profit coop is that they are not trying to expand operations within the scope of the City of Madison Comprehensive Plan. The Mayor’s masterpiece of planning is New Urbanist to the core making it absolutely anti-market and unsafe. The Claremont Institute and Reason Online review the reasons why crowding by design is bad public policy. Still the city has a plan and they are resisting private sector efforts to deviate from the government approved vision of the future.
No Again to Whole Foods: But the layout proposed by Freed for Whole Foods stands in contrast to the initial pitch to remake Hilldale as a mixed-used, pedestrian-oriented "lifestyle center" with parking in multilevel ramps hidden behind condominiums or commercial buildings."This is not good land use at a time when we are trying to make University Avenue more humane," said near west side Ald. Robbie Webber.
Madison in 2006 is a builder’s paradise if you agree to construct something matching the utopian vision of the Cieslewicz administration. The problem Whole Foods encounters is innocently assuming they should provide parking for customers. The essential goal of New Urbanist planners is the minimization of the human imprint on the environment and that means eliminating personal transportation, as much as they possibly can, from city life.

The greater problem Madison residents are facing is that this administration consistently demonstrates their heartfelt belief that government control of land use is more important than ownership rights. Whole Foods may be the Wal-Mart of Organic Food but the simple fact is that if they purchase the property, then what right does the city have to prevent them from building to safety code the structure they desire?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Rumsfeld Should Stay

At the end of last week, six of individuals of the 4,700 retired U.S. military generals cause a small media frenzy by calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to step down. The combined 18th and 20th century media models instantly push the critics to center stage, spotlighting their latest variety act for the entertainment of the “Bush Lied” audience.

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin doesn’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate his anti-war street cred. Hizzoner posts his reactions to the general charges.
Cheney and Rumsfeld's Iraq Folly: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld started with the delusion that since they were good people, and were doing what Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said was the right thing according to Jesus, they would inevitably prevail. Dissent in the ranks was quickly stifled; the best strategic and tactical minds were ignored.

The irony of this military dissent is that civilian control was conceived as a means of stopping crazed generals from leading the country into war. What an irony that in this case the military is the voice of reason.
There are those of us who don’t believe the global problems of failed societies, wealth and weapons, poverty and resentment merging with an ideology honoring and rewarding killing in the name of God, can be passively ignored. The case supporting Secretary Rumsfeld is argued by Elephants in Academia and concludes “Rumsfeld should stay”.
Why Rumsfeld Should Stay: It seems to me that at the root of this issue is the fact that civilians control our military. In some ways, the very command structure of the Pentagon is an oxymoron, because logic suggests that a military man should head the military. After all, the military is a culture unto itself with highly-specialized protocols and rituals, not to mention highly-specialized information and tactics, which are best understood by those on the inside. But the makeup of our DoD has since 1947 specified civilian leadership, which creates friction in the top tiers of the Pentagon. But that's okay because we don't really want these guys sitting around singing kumbaya together. Such deliberate conflict is designed to force the military to take civilian priorities into consideration and to ensure full oversight of the military--and the military resents it. How could they not? They're supposed to. That's the point. The only time they don't resent their civilian leadership is when that leadership is weak and so does not step on the military's toes.
You can read Soglin’s post in about a minute because it only requires you to react emotionally. Reading the defense of Rumsfeld takes more time, not just because it is longer but because it asks for critical thinking. The people who believe with all their hearts that Jesus made Bush start a war for oil which was wrong and which he lost, will not be swayed. Those of us with more common sense should consider every word.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Right To Own Your Home

Over dinner friends tell me they are selling the house they built on a northern Wisconsin lake. Years ago they moved from Madison to land owned within their family since the 1960s and we tore down the old summer cottage so they could construct their dream home. The problem is that affluent individuals are increasingly buying up lake frontage in the north woods, which is driving up property values and property taxes. My friends still love their home but they are being taxed out of ownership by the most unjustifiable tax in Wisconsin.

I don’t have a problem with the idea I owe a financial obligation to the governance of society. I value the sewer system and many other public services contributing to the unprecedented breadth of the quality of life in America. I do have a problem with the idea that by ownership of private property, I assume an unlimited and unsatisfiable financial obligation to government. The property tax is in essence a debt defined and imposed by society that society will never release. A permanent obligation is characteristic of subjects under a government and not of citizens within their own limited rule of law.

A good case can be made that the most just form of taxation is based upon the free decisions of individuals. Sales taxes or consumption taxes are those levied only when individuals voluntarily exchange money for goods and services. Fairness and justice derive when the taxation is a reasonable price for the pursuit of happiness.
Americans for Fair Tax: The FairTax is levied only once, at the point of purchase on new goods and services. The simplicity of the FairTax frees Americans from our current overwhelming tax code and unshackles the U.S. economy.
I fully support any Wisconsin initiative transforming the property tax into a modified sales tax. Real Estate transactions would include a fixed dollar tax obligation, perhaps with provisions to pay the balance over time. Wisconsin citizens should have a right to own their homes with protection from government tax seizure. Without legislative protections we may see even more morally reprehensible programs where government actively exploits home equity from the elderly.

Municipal Reverse Mortgage: What is the City's program? The City's program is a modified reverse mortgage because the City makes the program available only to pay all or a portion of a homeowner's property taxes. No monthly payments for living expenses are allowed.

How are my taxes paid? At the time of closing on your loan, you will be required to sign a lien document. A lien on your property will then be recorded with the Dane County Register of Deeds. Upon filing of the lien, the Comptroller's Office will draw a check payable to both the property owner and the City of Madison. You will then be responsible for paying the taxes in the City Treasurer's Office.

My friends tell me that property tax reform will never happen. I disagree. Home ownership is the American Dream and we can change the law to make the right to own your home more important than the government’s right to raise tax money from it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Remembrance and Challenge

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809 – April 14-15, 1865

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Global Unionist Movement

Do you remember the slogan: “Workers of the World Unite”? The movement is alive and well as Andrew Stern and the SEIU work relentlessly towards this goal. Stern split his Service Employees International Union from the AFL-CIO last summer, deciding traditional American unionism is a profound failure offering absolutely no chance of achieving anything worthwhile for the working poor in a global economy.
Stern is determined to build a truly global union designed to meet modern challenges and help ensure that workers, not just CEOs, benefit from today's global economy. His philosophy has led SEIU to abandon the traditional local and regional approach to organizing in favor of a 21st century, industry-based global model that works with unions in other countries that share common employers.
The combined appeal of more money and plus cures for the suffering of disease is undeniably enticing to the multitude of individuals living at historical levels of human existence. Andrew Stern and the progressive left understand that pure democracy is the road to socialism and they aim to exploit political opportunities wherever they find them.
How Can A Union Help? By joining together, we can build the strength to hold elected officials accountable, stop the "race to the bottom" by employers who cut wages and benefits in favor of bigger profits, and win improvements such as affordable, quality health care for all.
The fear of pain and death is easy to exploit when a global population is aware the relatively wealthy benefit from all that western medicine offers. The inequality of resources is most emotionally felt when loved ones suffer the afflictions of mortality. The left is fully willing to use the envy and contempt within the poor by offering government supplied healthcare as a promise and reward for their votes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Science: Save Thy Self

1.7 BILLION DOLLARS are funding the false myth that human activity in industrial societies is a danger to life on Earth. The Wall Street Journal’s online OpinionJournal posts the truth that money and political motives have corrupted climate science research.
Climate of Fear: In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers. - M. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
Harvard Physicist Lubos Motl illustrates an example of the politicization of academic research at his own prestigious institution of higher education.
Harvard Energy Initiative: On Monday, we had a faculty lunch meeting at the Faculty Club and one of the topics was the so-called "Harvard energy initiative". A short story is that a large amount of money was given to something described by these three words - and up to 10 new faculty positions are expected to be created - except that no one knows what "Harvard energy initiative" means and what people should be hired.

So one of the rather well-known Earth and Planetary Scientists at Harvard decided to meet with the physics department and to ask for ideas what "Harvard energy initiative" could mean. I know what "high energy physics" means - we study physics of high-energy particles to determine the architecture of matter at very short distances - but what is "energy science"? When Feynman was reviewing the physics textbook that had the answer "Energy makes it go" to all questions "What makes it go?", he noticed that if the book had said "Wakalixes make it go", the children would have learned exactly the same amount of science, namely zero.
Millions of grant dollars to create 10 academic incomes which will create and teach zero science. The misrepresentation of computer programming and consensus building as science must be denounced and expunged from our Universities, and the people that need to clean up academic research are scientists who value the true scientific advancement of knowledge.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Pink Tide Reaches Peru

The America of individual liberty and democratically approved limited government is surrounded, outnumbered, infiltrated and under assault from socialist forces promising relief from the burdens of poverty. The latest country being lost to socialism may be Peru.
Ollanta Humala: The news that Ollanta Humala was leading in the opinion polls, ahead of Peru's first-round presidential elections on Sunday 9 April, set alarm bells ringing in Washington and sent the stock-exchange in Lima tumbling.

Still, not even a furious smear campaign by his opponents has done anything to dent the popularity of Humala, an ex-army lieutenant-colonel, self-styled nationalist and acknowledged protégé of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez. On the contrary, the more the establishment pounds him, the more popular he becomes.

Peru: The Next Domino? Like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, a failed former coup planner and controversial military officer, Ollanta has inundated his audiences using fervid nationalist rhetoric while playing the “I am not one of them” card to gain popularity among the masses while bashing the country’s traditional elites. Sufficiently different from Bolivia’s Evo Morales or Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the only comparison that readily comes to mind are the early years of Argentina’s man of all seasons Juan Perón. What Latin America (and certainly Washington) is clearly watching is whether Peru under a Ollanta presidency would be the next domino to fall, the next presidential victory of a recruit for the pink tide, affording this leftist movement with a continued momentum that could next sweep Ecuador and Mexico into its ranks when those countries hold their elections later this year.
The “PINK TIDE” sweeping South America and threatening to consume Mexico is a reaction to the immense disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” in Latin America. The old saying that people vote their wallets has never been truer. The United States needs to explain in words and demostrate in actions why we have achieved the prosperity all our citizens enjoy relative to the rest of the world.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigrant March In Madison

For a moment, it appeared illegal immigration was being discussed with a level of civility and the appearance of bipartisan cooperation, aiming to arrive at humane solutions to our self inflicted problems. I let hope get in the way of my understanding that the socialist core of the Democratic Party will not settle for civil discussion. Civil discussion will not gain them power. The Democrats bring 10,000 people into the streets of Madison today and Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and her primary opponent Kathleen Falk declare their active support for rights for any attendee illegally present.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction employee Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran takes the lead in organizing the rally. No big surprise the head of the state’s Migrant Education Program is a product of Berkeley and the UW-Madison.
Biography: Zepeda-Capistrán grew up the son of a migrant worker. He was born in a mountain village in Mexico and moved to California at the tender age of 12. He worked in the fields with his family picking apricots, cucumbers, peaches, cherries, and tomatoes. Although often discouraged by his teachers and counselors in high school, Zepeda-Capistrán worked hard to obtain a higher education, attending undergraduate school at the University of California-Berkeley and graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Perhaps that is why he is a tireless advocate for migrant students in Wisconsin today and an invaluable advocate for the Latino community in the Madison area. At his day job he works for migrant students in his position as Education Specialist for the Department of Public Instruction. After hours, Zepeda-Capistrán can be seen throughout the community raising his voice for social change. He is the president of LUChA (Latinos United for Change and Advancement) where he works to create social opportunities and a political voice for Latinos.
The DPI employee explains his views on immigrant rights in an article he submits to "Cut and Run Resolution" organizers WI Network for Peace and Justice.
On February 23rd, the State Senate concurred with the Assembly in passing it own version of AB69, which, if signed, will have a disproportionate impact on people of Hispanic/Latino descent. Legally, economically and psychologically, this law will add an unfair burden to people without legal status and encourage racial profiling, resulting in discrimination against all those who may appear foreign. … In denying a driver’s license to an undocumented person, we are in fact unfairly creating a path towards the criminalization of these individuals.
Governor Doyle signs 2005 Wisconsin Act 126 on March 10th bringing Wisconsin Drivers Licenses into compliance with Federal ID standards. This is an essential step in gaining control of the knowledge of who is present in America. Citizen rights are additions to human rights and not to be exercised by any individual without primary allegiance to the United States. I am completely supportive of humane and considerate treatment of all peaceful individuals in this country, but I will oppose political attempts to exploit immigrants to expand the welfare state and the social injustice of collectivist government.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wanted: The Big Tent

There is a lot of talk in the blogosphere that the Republicans are in danger of losing either the House or Senate in the November elections. I don’t discount this possibility because a series of close victories can easily turn into a series of close defeats. The direction the Republicans are drifting is failing to create the “big tent party” needed to attract enough Democratic voters to permanently destroy the existing coalition and force them to reform.

Individuals aspiring for Democratic Party leadership are clearly motivated by beliefs that are strongly antithetical to individual liberty. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is quite comfortable saying in the print media: “Turns out that a little socialism was the best thing that ever happened to capitalism.” This daily affirmation is from the “Growth and Development” section of the Mayors utopian future vision for the city.
Madison in 2031: Amid national economic success, Madison still outpaces the nation in prosperity. … Representatives from cities across the country flock here to study the "Madison Model" for economic success and hear Chamber of Commerce President Austin King explain how progressive social policies helped build a strong economy.

Poverty in Madison and elsewhere has all but vanished. When concentrations of wealth reached historic levels and competition from roaring Asian economies put even more pressure on the middle class, the "instant revolution" powered by blogs and instant messaging toppled the GOP grip on the national and state governments. A progressive state income tax system replaced the 2006 version, producing ample revenues for public education.

The resulting educated workforce was more productive then ever, which eliminated the need for much of the social welfare system, saving resources that were in turn invested in more education and a national health-care system based on the Canadian model. The resulting lower health-care costs made the U.S. economy more competitive than ever and wiped out the trade deficit, spurring even more prosperity.
Excuse me but at what point in human history has wealth not been concentrated with the wealthy, and where in the world are the poor better off than the poor in America? What is this fantasy about worker productivity eliminating the need for the welfare state? This is textbook communism when collectivism erodes the need for government at all.

The problem of human liberty in society is not "have vs. have not", but rather "taking vs. giving". Capitalism is evolving towards the accumulation and distribution of wealth by free transaction under the rule of law. The socialist core of the Democratic Party is still enamored with the idea that problems can be solved by forceful taking and redistribution. The failure of correction by coercion is evident in our inner cities and in the footprint of the former U.S.S.R.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

UW Hockey Badgers National Champs

In the middle of the afternoon, Lola and I are eating at Biaggi’s when a bus pulls into the parking lot. Joking with our waitress, I tell her to warn the kitchen because they are about to be invaded by 50 gray haired grandma’s on tour. Instead, one by one the bus unloads young men in red jackets who arrive unannounced and hungry.

Congratulations UW Men’s Badger Hockey – NCAA National Champions !!! The hunger is satiated and there are smiles all around.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Cieslewicz Wants Condemnation Power

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz did his best to preserve his Kelo powers, the ability of government to take property from private citizens and transfer the ownership to wealthier private citizens. Vikki Kratz tells all in the Isthmus and provides links to evidence.

The story starts last November when Mortenson Investment Group decides to build a project, then asks the City of Madison to condemn the property so they can keep acquisition costs in line with their planned budget. The developers understand they have a willing ally in the Cieslewicz Administration which is absolutely committed to the dangerous belief that Urban Planning is more important that Urban Regulation.
Businesses Upset With Plans To Condemn: Stuart Levitan, chairman of the Community Development Authority said, "If the parties do not reach a voluntary resolution then we will likely condemn the buildings and the issue will probably be settled in courts."
When Governor Doyle yields to bipartisan pressure and signs Wisconsin Act 233 preventing simple seizure for economic gain, the reaction of the administration comes tinged with enough emotion to show their contempt for limits on municipal power.
"This is an example of why this is bad legislation," says CDA chair Stuart Levitan, noting that Mortenson's development would bring in hundreds of new jobs and expand the city's tax base. "This project enjoys unanimous neighborhood support."
That statement so nicely illustrates the difference between socialism and representative democracy. In socialist thought, what is good for the group is more important than what is good for the individual. In the classical liberalism of our American heritage is the understanding that the rights of the individual form the basis of good society. Socialists like Cieslewicz consistently demonstrate their desire for the power to define and impose good ideas upon the public, and achieving results does precede a lot quicker when subjects don’t have the right to say “no”.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An Argument for Open Immigration

All week the blogosphere and talk radio have been outraged that the Senate is even considering solutions for our immigrant problems that don’t begin and end with the endlessly repeated phrase “what part of illegal don’t they understand?” For the sake of balance, I recommend reading the argument for Open Immigration as articulated by Harry Binswanger, who is identified as “a longtime associate of Ayn Rand" and "a professor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute.”

Binswanger makes his case that individual rights are universal and while citizenship rights should be properly restricted to individuals who are citizens, the presence of healthy, peaceful and hardworking foreigners does not pose a threat to America.
The implicit premise of barring foreigners is: "This is our country, we let in who we want." But who is "we"? The government does not own the country. Jurisdiction is not ownership. Only the owner of land or any item of property can decide the terms of its use or sale. Nor does the majority own the country. This is a country of private property, and housing is private property. So is a job.
I disagree with several areas in this train of thought. Specifically I believe that removing all barriers and allowing unlimited immigration to America is completely impractical. Society depends on stable and predictable human interactions and too many immigrants in to short a time effects current residents, who must also adapt their lives. In addition, the argument ignores the corollary of rights which are obligations. The Pope expresses this quite well: “Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

So there needs to be rules and laws, but we should also keep in mind that what is illegal is entirely dependent upon how we define illegal. Drinking beer under age 21 is illegal. Driving over the posted speed limit is illegal and exponentially so if done while not wearing seat belts. The plants marijuana and ragweed are illegal, as are pseudoephedrine tablets obtained without providing the government with a record of purchase. Smoking a cigarette in a bar or putting phosphorous on your lawn is criminal activity in Madison.

So yes, there are lots of illegal immigrants and simple amnesty is an insult to those who come to this country to become Americans through the legal channels. The blame for this reality must also be shared by the government which for years has simply decided not to enforce the rules in a consistent and dependable matter. If society is to depend upon the rule of law, then there is an obligation on the law to be true in application. Michael Jordan figured out that if the refs don’t call traveling then its ok to travel with ball. It’s the same calculation we all make when, out of perceived necessity, we make a U-Turn at an intersection with traffic lights.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Sober Assessment of Options

Rick Moran asks why Cooler Heads Must Prevail on Iran. The answer is because there are absolutely no good solutions to the problem of defending against apocalyptic zealots with nuclear weapons and without fear of the repercussions from killing, either human or divine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Push: Deal Again

In November 2004, Tammy Baldwin wins Dane County by with 181K votes (67%) over Dave Magnum with 88K votes (33%). In April 2006, the non-binding anti-war immediate surrender referendum won Madison with 24K votes (68%) over those who understand that Middle East violence is global problem that can no longer be ignored, with 11K votes (31%). I’m no statistician but I suspect these totals are not significantly different.

So the Democrats devise a way to test the political divide in Wisconsin and find it completely intact and unchanged this last year and a half. This gamesmanship with our elections gives nothing to either side to feel good about. I recommend both parties go back and try to figure out a positive message to offer the public.

Monday, April 03, 2006

When Earth Leaves the Neighborhood

The Wisconsin State Journal runs another filler piece about global warming today, once again reflecting the media’s uncritical acceptance of the false myth that human activity is endangering the biosphere. I am about to term the environmental alarmists short-sighted but upon fact checking, the phrase means failing to take the future into account. The problem with climate change propagandists is their failing to take the past into account, that is if you believe Earth is a very old planet.
Life waxes and wanes with bobbing of the Solar System: The solar system moves through the Milky Way rather like a child on a merry-go-round. It completes a circuit of the galaxy once every 100 million years or so but as it goes it bobs up and down through the dense galactic disc.
University of Kansas Professor Mikhail Medvedev points out that episodes of multiple species extinction occur about every “62 million years for at least the past 542 million years”. This corresponds fairly well with the 64 million year cycle in which Earth completes its natural vertical transverse above and below the flattened disc of stars.
Most of Earth's biggest extinctions occurred when the solar system was at its most northerly point in its cycle, which stretches about 230 light years above the galactic plane. Medvedev says that more cosmic rays enter the Earth's atmosphere at that point, killing off species.
When the Sun pulls Earth above the shielding mass of the stars between here and the center of the Milky Way, the cosmic radiation increases and the planet passes through massive hydrogen clouds lurking outside of the plane of stars. The “environment” of space changes for millions of years at a time and existing life either adapts or dies. Mother Nature has been trained by the cosmos to be resilient and life has endured much worse than a couple hundred years of the industrial revolution.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Choice Between Slogan and Solution

Do Wisconsin citizens want a slogan or a solution the violent threat of Islam? Engaging a world problem is difficult and dangerous and frustrating and slow. Disengaging solves nothing, but that is the goal of the collective Troops Home Groups.
Troops Home Slogan: It will be useful to our objective - getting the Troops Home Resolution adopted April 4 - to narrow the messaging to the very briefest possible terms (sound-bite, slogan, mantra), so as to be very digestible and persuasive to large numbers of voters. We then get as many people as we can, using as many venues as we have, to hammer that mantra until we're blue in the face from now until April (and until November, and throughout 2007, and all the way to 2008, and beyond if necessary).
The Dane County Democratic Party appears to be actively orchestrating this taxpayer funded polling as Secretary Rick Scollon explains.
Troops Home News: On the referendum issue: No one I know in the Bring Our Troops Home movement believes for one second winning the Yes vote April 4 will instantly produce a hasty retreat from Iraq. What it does do is invites average citizens who otherwise feel helpless in such circumstances to voice an opinion as to whether they want more war or less war.
I don’t believe that Wisconsin school teachers, government clerks, union workers and veterans agree with the subordination of women and oppression of gay individuals in the Islamic world, nor the submission of all freedoms to religious authority. The truth is that the armed and financed forces we are confronting in Afghanistan and Iraq are a danger to the values we cherish, and criticism of imperfection is as empty of content as it is easy and emotional to spew.
Critical Mass Proves Elusive for American Peace Activists: “Even as popular support for the war has gone down, the big question is still unanswered: What should we do?” he said. “The problem for the peace activists is that if you are going to be taken seriously, you need to offer a substantive alternative.”

Even ardent activists such as Jill Bussiere, a Green Party worker who organized the petition that put the “Bring our troops home” question on the ballot in her town of Kewaunee, worry that an immediate pullout could leave Iraq spiralling into an even-worse cycle of violence. “I wish I knew for sure what the right thing to do is,” she said in a telephone interview.
Vote your intelligence not your emotions. Vote No to Cut and Run Tuesday.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Computer Voting Concerns

Richard Brand writes an op-ed for the Miami Herald pointing out a Venezuelan connection to one of the emerging electronic voting systems threatening to alter the accuracy and security of American elections.
Why is Hugo Chavez Involved with US Voting Machines: The greater threat to our nation's security comes not from Dubai and its pro-Western government, but from Venezuela, where software engineers with links to the leftist, anti-American regime of Hugo Chávez are programming electronic voting machines that will soon power U.S. elections.
The transfer of power from citizens to elected officials is the most important aspect of the American theory of just governance, therefore, the accuracy and integrity of voting should be a primary concern for the country. After the 2000 and 2004 elections a great deal of thought has gone into how to assure the validity of voting tabulations. One measure moving through Congress is HR 550 or the Holt Bill, which will require that any approved electronic voting system produces a paper trail, or in essence a cash register receipt for the voter.

Democrat grassroots activists are pushing to advance HR 550, but there are concerns about the implications of this proposed legislation even former Howard Dean staffers can identify.
What’s Wrong with the Holt Bill Part 1: The Holt Bill is well intended, but unfortunately, it is not just about paper ballots; it includes several dangerous provisions that are not good for our democracy at all. ... First: keep in mind that the US Constitution grants states rights to manage our own election systems. Those founders knew what they were talking about.

Second: keep in mind that the EAC and the proliferation of paperless computerized voting systems both result from the Orwellian-named "Help America Vote Act (HAVA)," which was sponsored by Bob Ney, written in his office, and in large part paid for by computerized voting industry lobbyists such as Diebold...

Voting activists are excited about the Holt bill because it talks about mandating paper trails for elections. I think it goes without saying that verifiable paper audit trails belong in any democratic election, and I applaud the bill's attempt to codify this. However, the bill would be strengthened by specifically defining real paper ballots as opposed to allowing for error-prone computer printouts as the vote of record. Printers jam, receipts are not ballots, and adding technology-based printing to the act of voting unnecessarily complicates what is a simple act. But I am not going to dwell on this aspect of the legislation right now. Suffice it to say that the legislation should be revised to remove technology altogether from the act of marking ballots.
We all know computers can be programmed to produce any desired output including a paper receipt that says one thing and one or more log files that can print out something else. Business operations wanting to sell machines to the government are selling the concepts of speed and ease to budget constrained officials, however, any system which eliminates the citizen marked physical ballot is to susceptible to abuse to be accepted. Hopefully this is one issue where the paranoid right and the paranoid left can agree to distrust the government.