Monday, April 30, 2007

Shots Exchanged

Madison progressive Paul Soglin and Waukesha unprogressive James Wigderson are having a gun battle. The conflict begins when former Mayor Soglin tosses off a brief innocent comment about the significant increase in hand guns in Madison. Wigderson, in turn, highlights this snippet of a thought in a post he calls Liberals Mugged. Paul – either browsing the right side of the Cheddarsphere or Googling his own name – finds the post and reacts. (Remember – being offended is always an internal reaction).

Wigderson: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: Too bad Jim shot first and, it appears never bothered to read the article or ask questions. You see, the residents who choose to arm themselves are not the kind of people who ought to have firearms. … Wigderson supports a real nice collection of thugs pursuing their Second Amendment rights.

The way Soglin phrases his last two sentences strikes me as quintessentially liberal. The background newspaper story triggering his initial musing is about the increase in professional criminals disarmed by the city. Soglin says his concern is about rising crime, but his phrasing - “residents who choose to arm themselves are not the kind of people who ought to have firearm” - implies that the mere choice of owning a weapon reflects questionable judgement. The Mayor may quibble with this interpretation but the idea that guns equal crime is well entrenched in Madison.

Furthermore, the idea that thugs might purse their Second Amendment rights seems deeply disturbing to liberals. In Wisconsin, felony convictions can abrogate a person’s right to keep and bear arms, but given that our civil society depends on the application of innocent till proven guilty, a misdemeanor thug has rights. The left interprets the fact that poverty has a partial correlation to crime to mean that poverty causes crime. This is simply false. Crime is not a result of income, objects or situation. Crime is personal acceptance of unapproved values.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Welcome Larry the Cable Guy

In case you didn’t know, Larry the Cable Guy is now a proud Wisconsin home owner and property tax payer having purchased a place up nort to be near his wife’s family. Let us welcome our fellow citizen with a sampling of his thoughts on various essential issues.

1. A day without sunshine is like night.
2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
3. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
4. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5. Remember, half the people you know are below average.
6. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
7. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
8. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.
9. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
10. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
11. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
12. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
13. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.
14. OK, so what's the speed of dark?
15. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
16. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
17. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
18. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
19. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?
20. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
21. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, "What the Heck Happened?"
22. Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.
23. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear Bright , Until you hear them speak.
24. Life isn't like a box of chocolates. It's more like a jar of Jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your ars tomorrow.

I bet Al Gore knows the answer to #17. Welcome to tax land Larry. Your financial contributions are needed to maintain the out of control spending of the Doyle administration. H/T Danegerus

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Strawberry Daiquiris Lesson

The electronic age bumps up against paper age law and a small skirmish breaks out.

Scientific American: If you blinked at any point over the last few days, you may have missed a minor scandal in the science blogosphere, pertaining to fair use of information from a scientific journal.

Anyway, on Tuesday, over at the ScienceBlog Retrospectacle, neuroscience PhD student Shelley Batts ... posted an analysis of a study appearing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, which suggested that the antioxidants properties in fruits were boosted by alcohol. In other words, as this UPI article exclaims: Strawberry daiquiris, a healthier cocktail.

Great news, right? Although Batts--bravely eschewing the press release--did a thorough read of the article and found that, sure, co-mingling ethanol with strawberries and blueberries both better preserves fruit and heightens its anti-oxidant effect, but that among the other compounds tested, ethanol was neither the most effective at staving off decay nor the best at boosting anti-oxidants. Surprise, the findings were overstated by the mainstream press (as well as in the press release, courtesy of the Society of Chemical Industry.)

On Wednesday, Batts received a letter from the journal's publisher, John Wiley & Sons, demanding that she pull a single graph and a single chart that were included in the paper, and which she'd posted in her explanation of the work. The letter read: "The above article contains copyrighted material in the form of a table and graphs taken from a recently published paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. If these figures are not removed immediately, lawyers from John Wiley & Sons will contact you with further action".

Long story short, Ms. Batts pulls the “copyrighted” graph but then reposts the data in her own format while also posting the legal threat. The combined pull and post move acts as some sort of danger signal and soon a large group of howler monkeys are raising a ruckus on line. The publisher then backs down blaming the whole attack lawyer gambit on an overzealous subordinate employee.

Scienceblogs: My esteemed colleague here at scienceblogs, Shelley Batts of the Retrospectacle blog, did what we all do all the time - what is one of the primary role of science blogs: compared what a scientific paper says to what the press releases and media say about the paper. It was a paper widely reported by the press about the potential health effects of drinks like daikiri. Shelley wrote in her post that the paper is fine, but that the media coverage is faulty (what's new?). In order to demonstrate what the paper really says, she, as we often do, reprinted a table and one panel of a figure from the paper in her post.

What should not be overlooked in the copyright vs. fair use frenzy, is that the point of the original post is to demonstrate that media reporting of the study conclusions is inaccurate. The take home message of this episode is that all media coverage of scientific research needs to be read with critical skepticism. The media is about making money, not about getting facts correct. - H/T John Hawks

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cold War II

“If we don't handle this very carefully--and we won't--we'll be facing a perfect storm of foaming Islam, sullen Russia, and grinning China”. - Publius Pundit

The Cold War has perhaps only been on hiatus. Early 80's Russian Pics.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Victory for Free Speech

More good news from the left coast today. The spirit of American liberty is alive in the State of Washington and is resisting political attempts to silence government opposition. Talk On!, KVI 570 talk radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur, and Vicki McKenna and Charlie Sykes and all the rest.

Victory for Free Speech: In a unanimous ruling and a victory for free speech, the Washington Supreme Court today rejected one of the most outrageous abuses of state campaign finance laws in the nation when it ruled that media commentary does not qualify as an “in-kind” contribution that must be reported to the state. The case is San Juan County v. No New Gas Tax. was sued in June 2005 by San Juan County and the cities of Kent, Auburn and Seattle under the state’s campaign finance laws for failing to report supposed “in-kind contributions” from KVI 570 talk radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur. The prosecutors said the hosts’ on-air discussions of I-912, an initiative to roll back a gasoline tax, were not free speech but rather were financial “in-kind” contributions to the campaign.

Court rules that talk-show advocacy is not a campaign contribution: All nine justices agreed that the ruling by Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham was incorrect. … Justice Jim Johnson said the legal action against Carlson and Wilbur was “an example of abusive prosecution by several local governments” and an interference with constitutional rights of free speech. … “Prosecutors must not use the threat of a punitive lawsuit, amounting to an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, to block political opponents from exercising their constitutional rights,” Johnson wrote.

Campaign finance laws are being used primarily to protect incumbency rather than their ostentatious intent of preventing corruption of elected officials. A few thoughts from long ago posts on this matter.

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.

October 2, 2006: 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.

Our country belongs to the citizens not the government. If the habitual place holders in the seats of power don’t concur, they need to be dismissed and sent to find honest work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Irony and Bias

Apparently it is permissible to publish material for San Francisco readers that Madison news consumers don’t need to know. The AP wire story about today’s Supreme Court challenge to the John McCain-Russ Feingold initiated restrictions on American free speech gets edited quite differently by the two editorial staffs.

San Francisco Chronicle: Scalia seemed to invite a fresh look at the law, saying, "Maybe we were wrong last time." "This is the First Amendment," Scalia said. "We don't make people guess whether their speech is going to be allowed by Big Brother or not."

Madison Capital Times:

Apparently the devote liberals at our progressive daily can’t bring themselves to print any comments from Justice Scalia so every mention of his name is trimmed out of the AP feed to make it more palatable.

In a somewhat ironic coincidence, John McCain selects today to officially announce his doomed candidacy for the Presidency. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. No means No. McCain has proven he does not respect this essential principle of our freedom and no song and dance will ever erase this permanent stain on his character.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Teacher Union Money

Wisconsin is not the only State concerned about the enormous amounts of tax dollars being laundered through the teachers unions and the political influence those tax dollars buy. A battle about the reach of government worker unions is being played in the State of Washington.

April 13, 2007: The Washington Legislature passed a bill Friday to allow labor unions to spend nonmembers' bargaining fees on political causes without first getting their permission, over the objections of opponents who said it was a clear attempt to circumvent a pending ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The WEA, the state's largest teachers' union, was sued by the state in 2000 and accused of violating the campaign finance law. The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based conservative think tank. The foundation and the WEA have battled repeatedly over the years about nonmember fees.

"The bill uses an accounting gimmick to gut the law of its effect - all but eliminating the requirement on unions to get permission before spending nonmember dues on politics," said Evergreen labor policy director Mike Reitz in a written statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in January on an appeal of a state Supreme Court ruling that said the WEA did not have to get special permission to spend nonmembers' union fees on politics. Several justices indicated they were inclined to reverse the state court and uphold Initiative 134.

A private organization, Evergreen Freedom Foundation is challenging the power of the union in a series of litigations reaching to the US Supreme Court. The issue is the union’s political use of money (in Justice Scalia’s words) “the State compels them to give you”.

EFF vs. WEA Summary Post: On 10 January 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the culmination of many years of litigation between the State of Washington and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) versus the Washington Education Association (WEA) over the rights of non-member teachers in the state versus the WEA’s rights to collectively associate and politic. The crux of the issue is whether or not teachers whom opt out of the union and pay fees for the union’s services of bargaining are still obliged to pay for the union’s political activity – activity at times that involves issues far-fledged from education.

We are allowing people paid with tax raised money to be required to give a portion of those tax raised funds to buy political influence, dedicated to the continual raising of taxes. This case has been below the radar but Governor Doyle and WEAC are undoubtedly keenly interested in the Court’s final decision.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Fashion: Black is Back

Nothing says spring in Iran quite like the dress code police. Reports indicate the morality enforcement officers are under orders to tighten up control of the population. Relax honey, it’s supposed to make you look fat.

Iran warns women over slack dressing: The nationwide drive, an annual pre-summer crackdown given greater prominence this year, is aimed primarily at women whose coats are seen as too tight, trousers excessively short or hejabs (headscarves) overly loose. It foresees handing out warnings and guidance to women found to have infringed its dress code in public. Those who show resistance to change can be arrested and then be the subject of legal proceedings.

Women in Iran are obliged by law to wear the hejab and a full length overcoat that covers all bodily contours. Visiting foreigners and religious minorities are not exempted. Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a member of the culture committee of the Iranian parliament, was quoted by the Etemad newspaper as saying a harder line towards female dress was long overdue.

"The current situation is shameful for an Islamic government. A man who sees these models on the streets will pay no attention to his wife at home, destroying the foundation of the family," he warned. The Tehran police spokesman warned that men were not exempt from the crackdown. Ahmadi said officers would also target men sporting clothes deemed too tight or hairstyles deemed too extravagant.

No extravagant hairstyles? Someone should definitely talk Sanjaya and his faux-hawk into canceling his Memorial Day in Tehran plans. Word to the wise sensitive minstrel, if you get caught hanging around in Iran you can literally end up hanging around in Iran. Gates of Vienna has links to approved fashion pics.

Meanwhile President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad moves to the next item on his agenda and announces: “Negotiation is the best way out of Iran's nuclear stand-off”, while his chief negotiator Ali Larijani simultaneously announces: "Europeans would do well to give up on their demand that we suspend uranium enrichment so as not to get yet another negative response which would seriously compromise their prestige". Still, everyone needs to have lunch so why not dress up nice, chit chat over tea and pretend Iran is benignly working towards peaceful coexistence with the modern world.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

France Selects Two Final Options

Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal survive being voted off the island after the first round of the French Presidential election. The results achieve the ascension to power of the post WWII generation. The importance of this election is not lost on the citizens as a phenomenal 85 percent of eligible voters turn out to cast ballots. A second nation wide vote on May 6th determines the Presidency.

Official Results Reported: The twelve candidates have the following percentage scores following the record turn-out of 85%: Nicolas Sarkozy 31.11%, Ségolène Royal 25.83% ... .

It is widely believed that Sarkozy is the more American friendly of the two candidates but the choice is truly more analogous to one between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, with the pretty boy playing the Ségolène socialist role. This dynamic within the welfare state has the American left keeping a close eye on events, as Madison’s own socialist extraordinaire points out.

John Nichols: French voters have set up a race worth watching for one of the highest-profile presidencies on the planet. A pair of relatively young and dynamic candidates, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Ségolène Royal, led Sunday's first-round voting and will face one another in a May 6 run-off vote that is expected to draw an extremely high turnout.

Though Sarkozy is a good deal more liberal than many American Democrats, he is by European standards a man of the right. And Royal, the first woman to make it into a second-round race for the French presidency, is anything but a radical.

But their contest will be a classic fight between the right and left in a country that remains the counterpoint to the United States on a host of foreign-policy issues -- not least the future of the Middle East, where the French government of outgoing conservative President Jacques Chirac has led international opposition to the military adventurism of the Bush's administration.

Ultimately, however, the French race will be decided on domestic issues -- with Sarkozy and Royal battling for the votes of centrists torn between the conservative's promise of corporation-friendly free-market economic reforms and the Socialist's promise that "human values will triumph."

The economic and social problems facing Europe are every bit as great as in America. The free west has thrived under the protection of the American military for over sixty years allowing governments to grant as benefits assets that otherwise would need to be allocated towards defense. Neither candidate is likely to bring about major reform to the status quo, but Sarkozy is more predisposed to tweak the edges in favor of employers. The vision Ségolène Royal describes of fortress France where outsourcing is restricted and every home has its own flag, is unlikely to grow prosperity. The left desperately want to preserve wonderland but reality has a way of imposing upon fairy tales and I’m sure Tehran is watching even closer than the Capital Times.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Venezuelan Dictatorship Growing

"Asi, asi, asi es que se gobierna" (this is how one should rule) the crowds shout at the gigantic stadium monitor. Hugo Chavez grasps the podium and denounces former supporters and past allies while the audience of thousands cheer their undisputed leader.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela Moves Forward: "A tree that is born crooked never straightens its branches," he said to the party promoters yesterday, urging the promoters not to deviate from revolutionary principles. "Let's make sure, then, that our tree, the PSUV, is born straight, without deviations." he said. In that light, Chávez criticized the position of certain party leaders who have rejected the idea of a unified party.

At some point loyalty to individuals and the principles of the cause cross a line when a single leader demands obedience without deviation. The stadium rally reminds one long term observer of the Chavista revolution of similar scenes from 70 years ago.

Nuremberg at El Poliedro: These past few days have given us a lot of material for future discussion. One piece to discuss without fault was the show yesterday at El Poliedro, the big sports/concert arena of Caracas. Chavez does not like to use it that much as on occasion he has not been able to fill it up all the way. But Thursday night was a no miss affair as he was swearing in new members of the PSUV party; and as it is the case in such mass movement of a proto-totalitarian nature, people walk over each other to be the first ones to sign in and access to the high positions as fast as possible.

So, Chavez got a good crowd and interesting pictures to promote his new party (for those who are into this sort of things, even if the picture I chose here as a chilling big-brotherish feel). But Chavez being Chavez he could not resist holding the podium for hours, blocking exits for people: in chavista events once you are in you cannot leave for "security reasons"; I know that from many people that have had to attend such events. Obviously a camera that would catch people leaving a Chavez speech would be very bad for his image.

When I saw the pictures of yesterday rally at El Poliedro the historian in me immediately thought about Nuremberg. Not the Havana sea front of Castro events, at least on this respect Castro has managed to be more of an original. No, chavismo is slipping fast into the uniformity that characterizes totalitarian regimes. Look at the sea of red. Look at the idea of organization that the arrangement of El Poliedro seats manage to instill into the rather rowdy and messy Venezuelan crowds. I cannot remember in recent Venezuelan history such an organized or coordinated meeting in such a scale. Chavismo has been working hard at training his people to look more and more like a fearless organized militia, a new storm trooper of the XXI century, all ghoulishly red. A little bit also like the terror bearing Cultural Revolution militias of Mao's China.

Uniformity of message, intolerance of dissent, complete conviction in the superiority of the self, the truth of the world and the justice of the cause. This is not an unprecedented collection of traits, and past experience does not lend hope that all will end well for the people.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Post Kelo America

Reversing Kelo v. City of New London needs to be a Presidential debate topic. This completely Un-American Supreme Court decision needs to be reversed by a future Supreme Court. The election of 2008 will affect the timing needed for this correction.

Post-Kelo America: The Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London generated a massive political backlash. Kelo endorsed the condemnation of private property for transfer to other private owners in order to promote “economic development.” The Fifth Amendment's requirement that such seizures must be for a “public use” can be satisfied, the Court ruled, by virtually any claim that there might be some sort of public benefit. Polls show that 80 to 95 percent of Americans oppose the decision, including overwhelming majorities of Democrats, Republicans, women, men, and members of every major racial group.

Nearly every state legislature has either adopted or considered legislation to curb eminent domain, but only 14 have enacted laws that actually provide significantly increased protection for property rights.

The most common tactic—used in some 15 states’ post-Kelo laws—is to allow economic development condemnations to continue under the guise of alleviating “blight.” While it may sometimes be desirable to use eminent domain to transform severely dilapidated areas, many states define “blight” so broadly that almost any neighborhood qualifies. A 2003 Nevada Supreme Court decision, for example, concluded that downtown Las Vegas is blighted. Similarly, a 2001 New York appellate decision held that Times Square is blighted, paving the way for the condemnation of property to build a new headquarters for The New York Times.

Similar shortcomings have bedeviled reform efforts at the federal level. President Bush’s June 23, 2006, executive order on Kelo, for example, banned the use of eminent domain for “private development,” but allowed takings for private owners who promise to use the land for both private and “public” development. This is the exact argument accepted by the Supreme Court in Kelo, and therefore does little to mitigate the decision’s reach. Legislation enacted by Congress in 2005 has been similarly ineffective.

The text of our response to the wrong Kelo decision is 2005 Wisconsin Act 233. It is a good defense against the power of government, but review and possible revision should never be off the table.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Voter ID IV: The Nonchalant

I am so tired of Voter ID legislation in large part because the Republicans have been completely inept at controlling the terms of the debate. If you let your opposition define the words and reasons you deserve to lose the persuasion contest. The Capital Times proves their reflexes are still intact. Yawn ... ... the same old faux concerns.

There's no need for photo ID : Wisconsin has a proud history of encouraging people to exercise their right to vote. … Yet, despite all the evidence, the Republican-controlled state Assembly this week passed another provision to make Wisconsin citizens obtain picture IDs in order to cast their votes. It's yet one more cynical attempt to make voting more difficult for minorities and the elderly, who are more likely not to have photo identification. Those two groups, of course, typically favor Democrats.

The Democrats are against accuracy. Voting is the essential step to transfer the will of the citizens to the selected proxies. The most important thing is accuracy. Every other consideration is a subordinate concern because any claims of disenfranchisement, fraud and tampering need to start with the accuracy of the tabulation.

Republicans want to protect the votes of the minorities and elderly by demanding accuracy! It is the Democrats insisting that accuracy isn’t important. Governor Jim Doyle is against accurate elections. Senator Fred Risser is against accurate elections. Senator Tim Carpenter is against accurate elections. Senator Judith Robson is against accurate elections.

Why? Because if you don’t KNOW who voted you can’t KNOW the vote is accurate.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two Weeks Till France Decides

The European decision about the direction and the magnitude of the response to the ongoing immigration wave is about to revealed. There are big differences in the choice between socialism and the alternatives. Whatever France decides to do, the policy effects will spill over onto all the lands of the old world powers.

Hard choices ahead: With fewer than two weeks to go before the French presidential elections, what might a Sarkozy victory mean for France's immigrant communities? … France's voters are being presented with a choice between two, or perhaps three, main candidates.

On the one hand, they can vote for the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal, the first woman to stand a real chance of winning a major French election. She is a politician who has been careful to distance herself from the unpopular, and largely male, "dinosaurs" of the French Socialist Party, choosing instead what she calls a new way of doing politics that is closer to people's everyday concerns.

On the other, they can choose to head into what for France are largely uncharted waters by voting for the centre-right UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, who has similarly distanced himself from the kind of politics-as-usual represented by the outgoing French President Jacques Chirac, himself from the UMP. Sarkozy has caused disquiet among many voters by provocative statements he has made about the need to shake up French life and politics.

More background at French Election 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mr. Bill Represents for Hillary

Mrs. Bill Clinton permits her better half to go on record with the Arab media. Please read the whole thing because there is going to be a test. Mr. Bill talks to Asharq Al-Awsat:

Q: Iraq! We both agree that we should not have gone there, however, how do you see us going out without hurting people who helped us and causing a total destruction in the region?

A: I don’t have an answer for it…. There will always be consequences to whatever decision we take. There is no guarantee… I don’t know any painless alternatives… If we stay in Iraq – there are bad consequences, if we leave in a hurry there are consequences too! Really, there are no good alternatives.

Q: So what are we to do?

A: I think Hillary has it right that we have to make substantive reductions in troop numbers and we have got to make it IMMEDIATELY. Because our troops are stretched too thin we have to pray… that if there is another war - we should be able to respond with Air Force and Navy alone. We should just pray…

Q: My second question, regarding Iraq has to do with people’s perception that Hilary flipped flopped from supporting the war at the beginning -- to now, leading the criticism against it.

A: (looks very happy about the question) I am very glad you asked this question. It is very important that you will get the word out… Hillary has not done at all. Nobody paid attention to the resolution that was presented before the House. It was not about supporting the war in Iraq or not. She reacted like everybody else from Joe Lieberman and others who voted in support. Don’t forget at that time Hans Blix and his team were still working to find out if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. If you read the resolution carefully you would see that its message was that we should go to war if Saddam did not collaborate with the UN resolution. So I am really glad you brought this up. BECAUSE IT IS NOT TRUE what they say about Hillary… I explained the misinterpretation and when the circumstances changed she moved to her next position and now she demands an “immediate troop reduction”.

Practice test question: Why is it important to deploy more troops to Afghanistan and where will they come from? Your answer does not have to make sense but it should reflect the source text.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hud Bannon

A 1963 black and white Oscar winning film features Paul Newman as an amoral loner even as he remains entangled with his family on their Texas cattle ranch.

Hud: Paul Newman is Hud Bannon, a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches. Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth, out for kicks with no regard for the consequences.

The movie spins character reveals around the timeline it takes to realize, confirm and deal with the fact that the family’s herd of cattle is infected with hoof and mouth disease. The climax of the story comes as massive bulldozers are brought in to dig a large pit. The cattle are lead into the hole where men with rifles kill them all. It is hard to watch even knowing it is all fiction and clever editing. Slaughter for no good purpose is simply never easy to comprehend.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Incident at Kenosha

Iowahawk revisits the epic story of how radical Lutheran’s kidnap British sailors from Lake Michigan and the resolution of the crisis through the courage of capitulation. I believe we all recall that fateful day in the waters off Kenosha.

Midwest Peace Breakthrough: The former captives' ordeal began Tuesday, when the British destroyer HMS Chamberlain was conducting joint training exercises with the US Navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Station on Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. According to insurgent naval commander Chuck Sorenson, the vessel strayed into Lutheran territorial waters.

"Oh yah, dey were totally on the Wisconsin side," said Sorenson. "I was tossin' some empty driveway patch cans out dere in my storage shed and I could see 'em out dere on da lake, big as day."

Sorenson's account was disputed by British Minister of Defence John Reid, who pointed to GPS records locating the destroyer 20 miles southeast of Kenosha. Whether or not the ship was in technical violation of Wisconsin territorial waters, Cambridge University Midwesternologist Geoffrey Pickering said the Navy was ultimately at fault for failure to recognize local culture and customs.

"Straying anywhere near their waters would be seen as a provocative act," said Pickering, writing in London's Daily Mail. "These are a proud and fierce people, who jealously guard their walleye spots." … "Fighting back was not an option," Puddeley explained after this morning's release. "These men were brandishing Leinenkugel and deer scent. Resistance would have ultimately led to anger, misunderstanding, and potential unpleasant confrontation."

Word is the BBC is planning a twelve part series about the “Incident at Kenosha” which will lay the blame completely on … well you know.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Can there be an Islamic democracy?

Can there be an Islamic democracy? David Bukay breaks down the intellectual arguments and concludes the answer is no. The validity of any answer to the question depends on defining exactly what the words mean. For starters democracy implies much more than elections.

The Middle East Forum: Larry Diamond, co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, and Leonardo Morlino, a specialist in comparative politics at the University of Florence, ascribe seven features to any democracy: individual freedoms and civil liberties; rule of the law; sovereignty resting upon the people; equality of all citizens before the law; vertical and horizontal accountability for government officials; transparency of the ruling systems to the demands of the citizens; and equality of opportunity for citizens. This approach is important, since it emphasizes civil liberties, human rights and freedoms, instead of over-reliance on elections and the formal institutions of the state.

Elections are simply a way to keep score, not an indicator of the underlying game. Authoritarian regimes use voting to for a number of reasons, but democracy requires the voting process to loan the sovereignty of the people to those individuals responsible to shape and administer the laws. Bukay reviews academic attempts to show possible compatibility between Islam and democracy, and points out the flaws in the reasoning.

Esposito and Voll argue that Islamic democracy rests upon concepts of consultation (shura), consensus (ijma'), and independent interpretive judgment (ijtihad), other Muslim exegetes add hakmiya (sovereignty). … Just as Esposito eviscerates the meaning of democracy to enable his thesis, so, too, does he twist Islamic concepts. Shura is an advisory council, not a participatory one. It is a legacy of tribalism, not sovereignty. Nor does ijma' express the consensus of the community at large but rather only the elders and established leaders. As for independent judgment, many Sunni scholars deem ijtihad closed in the eleventh century. …

Mawdudi argues that any Islamic polity has to accept the supremacy of Islamic law over all aspects of political and religious life -- hardly a democratic concept, given that Islamic law does not provide for equality of all citizens under the law regardless of religion and gender. Such a formulation also denies citizens a basic right to decide their laws, a fundamental concept of democracy. Although he uses the phrase theo-democracy to suggest that Islam encompassed some democratic principles, Mawdudi himself asserted Islamic democracy to be a self-contradiction: the sovereignty of God and sovereignty of the people are mutually exclusive. An Islamic democracy would be the antithesis of secular Western democracy.

I like this warning: “It is one thing to be wrong in the classroom, but it can be far more dangerous when such wrong-headed theories begin to affect policy.” It is truly amazing how many wrong-headed theories evolve from the rhetoric games being played in the comfort of the Ivory Towers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Darfur: More Than Black Oppression

The violence in the Darfur region of Sudan is anointed with the title genocide by the western media, so it is politically correct for the left to demand action. It is a testament to the power of labeling that this Muslin on Muslim killing is somehow morally different from its counterpoint in Iraq. Earlier this week a prominent Democratic Senator calls for the US to invade the country of Sudan. Red State captures my sentiment.

Joe Biden Is An Idiot: Put briefly, Biden is advocating a truly elective war in a place that has less than zero geopolitical value and where the best case outcome is a null set for us. He is advocating carrying out a war with no identifiable purpose that can be attained. He is advocating carrying out said war in a nation utterly bereft of anything even faintly resembling civic institutions or even civil society.

This latest call for action follows armed confrontation between Sudan and neighboring Chad which is raising concerns of the violence becoming regional.

Tensions rise on Chad, Sudan border: International efforts to clinch Khartoum's approval for UN peacekeepers in Darfur turned on Thursday into a scramble to contain rising tension between Chad and Sudan, following deadly border clashes. … Chadian troops chased rebels across the border with Sudan's war-torn Darfur region on Monday, sparking a battle with the Sudanese army. Khartoum said 17 of its troops were killed, while Chad reported about 30 killed on the two sides. The clash was one of the most serious of its kind since the start of the Darfur conflict between rebels and Khartoum's troops and allied Janjaweed militia more than four years ago.

Lest anyone believe the political entanglements in the region are less complex than Iraq, a quick overview is good. One significant factor in the internal Sudanese fighting results from a split in the National Islamic Front which seized Sudan and imposed Sharia on the country. The government of Omar al-Bashir is fighting tribal groups loyal to his former mentor Hassan Abdellah al-Turabi, the gentleman who invited and hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1991 to 1996. On the Chad side, President Idriss Deby seized power with the help of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi who continues to meddle in the conflict. China, of course, is purchasing all the oil.

Gadhafi’s hand seen in Chad objections to UN force: Gadhafi, a critic of Western democracy and self-styled champion of African nationalism, has stepped up pressure on his southern neighbour, Chadian President Idriss Deby, to resist a planned U.N. military force for eastern Chad.

Darfur is not the American Civil War where good people need to go end black repression. Two backgrounds of the multifaceted conflict are The Islamist Manipulation of Darfur and Why Khartoum wants a war in Darfur. The roots of the violence go back years and military intervention will require long term occupation. If the left can not justify a long term commitment to the lands where our oil comes from and our enemies reside, then it is facetious to argue our obligation to stabilize China’s regional petrochemical depot.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Turkish Saber Rattling

The senior military commander in Turkey steps in front of the microphones for the first time since taking the leadership position eight months ago and starts off with some good old fashioned saber rattling.

Military says incursion into northern Iraq a must: Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt yesterday asked for government approval to launch a military operation into northern Iraq to fight outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists there, who he said are accelerating their terror attacks in Turkey.

General Büyükanıt - the Great Performer: His opening gambit was to say that the Turkish Armed Forces were ready to go to war -- or at the very least to launch a cross-border operation into northern Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). We can do it, we want to do it and we think it’s worth the trouble, he told his audience in almost as many words. Then he tossed the ball into the government’s court.

The General’s words follow shortly after a diplomatic message delivered to the elected government of Iraq. Ethnic Kurds living within a region transected by the “legal borders” of Iran, Iraq and Turkey have a long standing separatist movement with an extremist wing prone to violence. Turkey prefers the trouble makers stay in Iraq.

Turkey won’t watch silently if Iraq takes no action: Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said Turkey's intention was extremely clear. "Our intention is to build friendship and brotherhood in the region," he said. However the foreign minister emphasized that this would only be possible if countries in the region respected each other's legal borders.

"It is obvious that Turkey favors stability in the region, as well as maintaining peace with its neighbors," he said, adding: "But if there harm spreads to Turkey from its neighbors then the neighbors should do whatever is necessary. If [that neighbor] doesn't have the sufficient power to do so, then international law offers opportunities for doing so," Gül stated.

The good news is the armed forces are, for the moment, acting in deference to the elected officials. Ankara is speaking a unified message to all foreign interests that as long as everyone honors the boundaries the situation can remain calm. I do suspect if PKK operatives cross the line to kidnap or kill, the Turkish response will be less civil than the British response to Iran.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What if CO2 Can’t Increase Warming?

With Wisconsin experiencing record snowfall totals for this date in April, it seems like another good opportunity for more evidence the theory of dangerous man-made global warming is simply false. H/T to the commenter at Small Dead Animals for bringing physics back into the discussion. Increasing carbon dioxide in the air does not have any additional effect on air temperature.

Why? Lars Kamél, from the Department of Astronomy and Space Physics at the University of Uppsala, writes that: "The main reason why CO2 can only have a small impact on the climate of the world is called saturation. This is a phenomenon well known from theory and observations of spectral lines in stellar atmospheres. An atom or a molecule does not absorb light and other electromagnetic radiation at all wavelengths. It only absorbs in narrow regions in the electromagnetic spectrum. Every atom or molecule has its own characteristic sequence of spectral lines.

"Carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has exactly one important spectral line in the infrared part of the spectrum. This line is clearly saturated. If you increase the number of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, not much will happen. The amount of infrared radiation, that is, heat, that will be absorbed changes only by a minimal and insignificant amount."

"Since CO2 absorbs all radiation in this band it absorbs and reradiates 8.4% of the total energy within 200 meters of the surface. Adding more CO2 does not increase this effect because it is at its maximum. Using the absorptivity function (Beer's Law) for a gas, CO2 would only begin to lose this impact if CO2 concentration dropped below a few parts per million. It has been above 200 ppm for over a million years according to geophysicists. Thus I claim the heat retention as a percentage of Earth's total radiation by CO2 is constant".

What we have here is a double-whammy. Not only is the man-made CO2 vapour concentration contribution to the green-house gas effect minuscule, changes in concentration don't have significant effect either.

When you do the math the numbers show there is very little carbon dioxide in the air in the first place, but even increasing CO2 to say 400 parts per million will have no effect because the wavelength of infrared that can be absorbed will have already been absorbed. In other words, you can warm things up by adding more energy but only the sun can do that. Once you mop up the energy the sun spills on the planet each day, having extra paper towels around doesn’t do anything.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Triumphant Ruling Class of Russia

Former CIA operative Reuel Marc Gerecht paints a disturbing picture in which former KGB and successor intelligence personnel own Russia. His report for the American Enterprise Institute calculates that 78% of the top 1,016 government officials have “an intelligence affiliation”. The good old boys of Soviet oppression or more accurately, their children, appear to have total control. I suppose what never leaves doesn’t have to come back.

A Rogue Intelligence State? The Russian state under Putin has no single, unifying, driving ideology. Lust for power, personal greed, and an aspiration for national greatness have yet to push Russia into fascism, although a number of factors--primitive nationalism, a reflexive "us vs. them" worldview that is often explicitly racist, and a zero-sum understanding of economics and foreign affairs--make it a real possibility. The Kremlin's determined efforts to control the Russian media and--increasingly--the Internet leave little space for any meaningful check on state power.

There is no historical precedent for a society so dominated by former and active-duty internal-security and intelligence officials--men who rose up in a professional culture in which murder could be an acceptable, even obligatory, business practice.

Gerecht believes Vladimir Putin’s minions are behind the Polonium-210 poisoning of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko which I find improbable. (It seems more likely that was a simple accident of criminal smuggling by a banished robber Baron.) What is clear is the Russians completely comprehend the value of their oil and gas assets and the strategic choke points they control over Europe’s dependence on those fuels. Then there is Iran.

There is another Russia-Iran parallel: in Iran it is difficult to separate the truth from frightful falsehoods because there is little transparency in the deliberations of the ruling elite. The result in Iran has been severe ethical corrosion as the regime's disregard for life defines down what is acceptable.

Only when the United States and Europe appeared to be failing at thwarting Iranian nuclear ambitions did Putin intercede. Intelligence officers always seek to exploit weakness in their targets. If we allow the Russians to believe we can be blackmailed over Iran, Putin will surely blackmail us. If Russia really believes a nuclear Iran is not in its national interest, then American efforts to counter rogue Russian behavior in Europe and the Caucasus are unlikely to change the Russian analysis of the menace from nuclear mullahs.

In other words, with Europe demilitarized, dependent and vulnerable, the US will have little leverage over how Putin wants to play his hand as he deals with the hostile regime on his southwest flank. Hitler and Stalin play their game by signing The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and history attests to the power of those nicely typed pages and inky little signatures.

Monday, April 09, 2007


I admit I watched PBS this evening and also admit the program on the destructive cult created by the tormented soul of a poor child from Indiana was pretty good. What surprises and impresses me is the way PBS accurately portrays the way the initial yearning to create the greater good decays into the need to control. Throughout history, nothing quite says earthly influence better than lots of dead followers scattered around the leader's corpse.

Jim Jones: "He preached a 'social gospel' of human freedom, equality, and love, which required helping the least and the lowliest of society's members. Later on, however, this gospel became explicitly socialistic, or communistic in Jones' own view, and the hypocrisy of white Christianity was ridiculed while 'apostolic socialism' was preached."

PBS American Experience: "I did allow Jones to think for me because I figured that he had the better plan," says former Peoples Temple member Hue Fortson, whose wife and infant son were among the more than 900 who died in Guyana after drinking cyanide-laced fruit punch. "I gave my rights up to him. As many others did."

Word to the wise – don’t give up your rights to people who declare they have a plan for a better world in which your individual rights are secondary to their greater good.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Dinner 2007

Lola and I are eating her superb rendition of Pino Luongo’s Penne Alla Rozza when outside the dining room window, a dozen crows swarm twenty feet overhead in close pursuit of a single hawk. The predator settles into the dense trees and one by one the individual black birds turn back and fly south. It strikes me this scene has been enacted thousands of times over millions of years. A timely reminder the reality of conflict, territory, friend and foe predate our understanding of the present and how the imperative to love thy enemy seems so paradoxical.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Average Peruvian

There is a new kitchen in town called Inka Heritage so we decide to evaluate the fare. I believe this is the only restaurant in Madison serving Peruvian cuisine. Lola so wants the evening to be exceptional, but alas, the night is mired with new enterprise dysfunctions.

My first concern is the chair and table height mismatch for which the waitress apologizes prior to any expressed concern. To my great amusement, Lola is flummoxed by the menu listing entrees first. I explain there is no fault in giving priority to the featured items for sale, but she is insistent there is a proper format for menus and entrees are simply not the lead off hitters. Other service faux paus include failure to refill water glasses and presenting the check without removing the empty plates.

The plates were empty because the dishes were quite edible, if not exceptionally notable. It is somewhat disturbing to utilize French fries as an aspect of haute cuisine, however, as a proponent of the bacon wrapped deep fried grape and barbeque popcorn pizza, I am willing to cut them some slack. Madison is prone to give out diversity points but quality remains the true standard. If Inka Heritage is aiming for the high end then I need to point out that paper napkins clash badly with the rest of the decor,

Lola, being a fair minded individual, wants to give the restaurant another try on some future weekday evening to see if the task of serving food improves to the level of the cooking. Fine with me because no business is ever perfect but successful ones keep working to improve.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Does Iran Share Democrat Values?

Just curious. Has anyone informed the Democratic Party that Iran is seriously anti-union? Reactions anyone? Ms. Pelosi? Mr. Edwards? Mr. Dean?

Iranian Workers Bulletin (pdf): The trial of Mansour Ossanlou, the distinguished President of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkate Vahed) began on 24 February 2007 at branch 14 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The besieged trade unionist has been subject to a violent campaign of persecution and intimidation for his activism. During the past year alone this has included two prison terms under which he underwent torture and further intimidation by his prison guards.

Icky, icky, icky – arrest and torture of union activists! This alone should cause the peace through surrender wing of the Democrats to at least pause for reflection. It gets even worse though because union teachers are being arrested or worse, -- fired.

Hundreds of teachers were arrested on 14 March as the government escalated its suppression against the recent revolt by teachers over pay and conditions, which has witnessed a wave of demonstrations and following failed talks with the government on 13 March. The Guardian on 16 March reported that riot police accompanied with Sepah (revolutionary guards) agents swooped on demonstrators and brutally beat them with batons as they attempted to gather in front of the Parliament and Ministry of Education Ministry.

According to a Kurdish Human Rights Correspondent on 11 February 2007, 1,510 school and high school teachers in Kurdistan province … were purged out of employment on the basis of their religion (Sunni Muslims) and ideological orientation by the Islamic Republic's Security and Recruitment Organization (affiliate of the Education Office).

The management goons are not being nice to undocumented guest workers either.

The policy of fining employers and expelling illegal Afghan workers was launched by the government in November 2006. This policy has been implemented in 17 of Iran's 30 provinces; targeting specifically those regions with a high concentration of Afghan migrants. Under this plan employers are granted 15 days leave to present any Afghan Workers to the authorities from the date their breach is reported by inspectors of the Bureau for the Affairs of Aliens and Foreign Immigrants. According to various reports, 550 Revolutionary Guards (Sepah) are acting as investigators and possess the relevant authority to execute this policy.

Anti-union, anti-immigrant, and intolerant of differing religious belief. What’s not to love?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Step It Up 2007 is Coming

Before Tax Day there is Act Day!

Step It Up 2007: This April 14th, tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. We will hike, bike, climb, walk, swim, kayak, canoe, or simply sit or stand with banners of our call to action: "Step it up, Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050."

In Madison, blessed with our abundance of individuals willing to save planet, there are three staging points and there are 22 other sites in Wisconsin to rally against the chemical air pollutant carbon dioxide.

Option 1: Meet at Library Mall and march to the Capital.
Option 2: Meet at the Memorial Union Terrace then walk to the Capital.
Option 3: Meet at the Capital and mill about aimlessly.

You might ask: How can we cut carbon 80% by 2050? This is a valid question. In case a highly trained professional journalist asks the question, please stick to the official answer.

A: Right now, we're staying focused on our simple demand--that Congress pass strong, ambitious legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% from current levels by mid-century.

Our goal is entirely about putting political pressure on unprincipled legislators - so plan to have fun. Think of this outing as a way to pull your toys from winter storage and go play. No one will be pressured to voluntarily surrender your drivers license or recycle (not resell) your car. No one is asking that you cease using products made from mined and smelted metals like bikes and canoes. The precision engineered bearings in your in line skates and the custom molded plastics adorning your heads are not our concern. So don't think, don't worry, your job today is not to save yourself.

Finally it can still snow in Mid-April so bring along a jacket and gloves, just in case.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cieslewicz Wins 2nd Term

There is simply no way to fight the numbers. Madison is a government economy and people vote their paychecks. The taxes they pay come back to them fourfold or greater. There is no sting. No parasite protests an easy life. So two against one the voters of Capital City decide to continue the steady pace towards ideal progressive government.

Going forward there will be more earnest debates on issues needing mandatory conformity. The drive to require eco-friendly light bulbs «because the mercury in them is not as bad as the mercury from burning coal to make abundant electricity» will take place simultaneously with resistance to expansion of the power grid. The righteous protest will be told to stop when the city decides it needs the power to move trolley cars around in small fixed circles downtown. When diminished street surface area makes traffic congestion horrible, the activists will demand city stickers on personal vehicles. If people insist on individual transportation, «the reasoning will go» it only makes sense to pay for the privilege of extra freedom. It really is no different than any other sin tax.

The schools will be the best and the healthcare will be the best and the parks will be the best and everything will be wonderful! Everyone will have a job because everyone has always had a job in Dane County, so ipso facto there will be no crime! No root cause means no crime – duh. Madison will be the best place to live anywhere so long as the debt can be bonded to the future.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court Declares Breathing Pollution

The Supreme Court of the United States today makes the most pro-government ruling since Kelo v. New London. In a case narrowly argued over arcane legal points such as standing to bring suit and the right of an agency to interpret its own regulations, a 5 to 4 ruling defies the English language to establish the legal precedent that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

It does not take a legal decree to understand that you can not pollute candy with sugar. You can not pollute bread with flour or wine with grapes and most assuredly you can not pollute air by breathing. Breathing as point source pollution is as of today, however, the law of the land. Every breath you take is fair game for regulatory control according to Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Massachusetts v. EPA: Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. That definition— which includes “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical, chemical, . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air . . . ,” §7602(g) (emphasis added)—embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe. Moreover, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are undoubtedly “physical [and] chemical . . . substance[s].”

This is the key point. If carbon dioxide, the chemical substance, is in any instance an air pollutant, then it must be an air pollutant in all instances. The origin of a chemical simply does not change the nature of a chemical.

Justice Scalia in dissent correctly points out that the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines charge the agency to regulate air pollutants, which by English definition of pollutant means “to make or render impure or unclean”. It is nonsense to declare that a natural and essential component of air can make air unnatural. There is no life on Earth without CO2 in the atmosphere and so this decision is neither good science, nor good law, nor common sense. This decision is a pure political play to give those who desire control over everything that lives and breaths a veneer of legitimacy. In Scalia’s words:

The Court’s alarm over global warming may or may not be justified, but it ought not distort the outcome of this litigation. This is a straightforward administrative-law case, in which Congress has passed a malleable statute giving broad discretion, not to us but to an executive agency. No matter how important the underlying policy issues at stake, this Court has no business substituting its own desired outcome for the reasoned judgment of the responsible agency.

Allapundit at Hot Air and Jonathan Alder at The Volokh Conspiracy analyzes the decision here and here as does the discussion at SCOTUSblog. My previous posts with background on this case are here, here, and here. To be perfectly upfront, I am a denier of dangerous man-made global warming and believe the changes being observed are normal variations of a planet in orbit around a star. The globalwarmists are a political movement and the Supreme Court has given them a green light to litigate every aspect of modern life based on carbon. Exaggeration you think? Well, wait and see.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

China Reforms for Profit

Back on February 27th I write: The right to private property and functional legal restrictions on the power of government to usurp private property for political ends is simply a well crafted illusion in China. It was true at the time but time changes things.

Property law works for poor: The law, which for the first time explicitly protects private property, was passed by the National People's Congress (NPC) on March 16 along with a corporate income tax bill that ends preferential treatment for foreign-funded firms by unifying tax rates at 25 percent.

By all accounts the establishment of private property rights is long hard victory and represents a definitive break from socialism. The academic leftists are not happy at all.

More Rights for Millionaires: The bill took 14 years in the drafting and was subject to a record seven readings by legislators since being tabled in 2002. It was in fact scheduled to be passed a year ago, but widespread objections amplified by heated Internet-circulated commentaries forced its last-minute withdrawal from the parliament's agenda. One of the bill's most vocal critics, a law professor at Peking University, Gong Xiantian, condemned it as "copying capitalist law like slaves" and offering equal protection to "a rich man's car and a beggar man's stick". … "Socialism is based on public ownership".

Financial Sense editor Martin Weiss points out that private property rights is only one of three significant changes just approved by the Peoples Republic of China.

Three Sweeping Events in China: Each step, when taken separately, is fuel for more growth. All three, when combined, are electrifying. Whether or not these reforms bring more political freedom to China remains to be seen. But they’re likely to set off a chain reaction of further legal changes, and ultimately, an end to nearly all vestiges of communism in China’s economy.

Reform #1 Chinese National Legislature Passes New Property Law: Your take-away from this change: If you thought China’s growth has been impressive even without laws protecting personal property ... and even without the enthusiastic participation of the masses ... wait till you see what can happen as this reform unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens that, until now, have been held back or left out!

Reform #2 New Phase in the Development Of China’s Financial Markets: For the first time, China will now allow trading in stock index futures and options. … As long as the stock market was tiny, no big deal. But now China’s stock markets have been growing by leaps and bounds. Just since the end of 2005, the total value of China’s stock markets has tripled — to more than U.S. $1 trillion. And still there was no way for investors to hedge effectively. With this new reform, all that is changing.

Reform #3 The Largest Investment Fund of ALL Time! Economists expect the Chinese government to allocate $200 billion to $400 billion to the new fund. The largest mutual fund in the U.S., the Magellan Fund, has “only” $50 billion or so on assets. So right off the bat, the new Chinese fund would be four to eight times larger than anything we’ve ever seen in the U.S. financial markets.

The Chinese are apparently no longer content to earn 3% on T-Bills and are ready to use their liquidity in pursuit of higher rates of return. Back on March 3rd I write the new communists love profits and this is still very true, except maybe for the communist part.