Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Surrender Now!!!

The members of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming are inviting the public to comment. Please take this opportunity to let the task force know we want unconditional surrender to global warming. Stop this immoral war really on good weather.
If you plan to attend one of the four statewide “Public Input” sessions on Monday August 6th, remember that facts -- such as the existing infrared saturation of atmospheric carbon dioxide making computer programmed dire prophecies physically impossible -- don’t matter in a political debate. Try chanting catchy slogans instead. Always speak to the cameras and microphones rather than the panel. Be polite but keep being vocal until escorted out of the room.

You can use the old standard protest chants:
Do Nothing – Do It Now.
Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey – Climate Changes Anyway.
Love the Plants, Love the Trees – Keep Them Healthy – Let Them Breath.
Or use your own creativity.

But remember global warming is political maneuvering to achieve government control over the economy, so subjects such as absorption spectrums and molecular dynamics will be ignored. Alternative explanations such as variable sunshine and solar cycles and Milankovitch Cycles will be dismissed out of hand. Don’t even hope that professional skepticism is important.

Politics calls for political theater so speak the language of politicians. Simple emotional slogans repeated over and over. Try thinking of tiny baby bunnies starving to death in the cruel harshness of freezing cold winter nights. Tears are always good and wearing flowers in your hair never goes out of fashion.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Roads: The Property Tax Villain?

The environmentalists are putting out feelers to see if they gain any traction for their anti-car agenda by waving the banner of property tax relief. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s personal non-profit discovers the shocking news that taxpayers are paying for roads.

1000 Friends of Wisconsin: Wisconsin Property Taxpayers Shoulder $1.3 Billion in Road and Highway Costs Annually. Transit costs on the property taxes comparatively small.

“The widely held belief that Wisconsin drivers pay the full costs of road and highways through their gas taxes and registration fees is wrong,” said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. “Each year, roughly 40% of road and highway costs – totaling $1.3 billion - are shouldered by property taxpayers.”

“Legislators and special interests have tried to score political points claiming that recent transportation fund ‘raids’ break the trust of drivers,” said Hiniker. “It’s clear that the real transportation raid is on property taxpayers’ wallets – a tax shift approved by the legislature every two years equal to a 40-cent gas tax increase.” “Right now the system is set up to favor road building interests. Lawmakers direct an insufficient amount of gas taxes and registration fees to local roads and transit, which then get pitted against property tax relief at the local level.

Meanwhile the lion’s share of gas taxes and registration fees are used to totally subsidize the costs of highways,” said Hiniker. “Every dollar spent to expand a highway, whether it’s Highway 151, Highway 41 or the Marquette or Zoo Interchange, is a dollar in local road costs that gets shifted to property taxpayers.”

Let’s see, the real disservice to taxpayers is not that Governor Jim Doyle seizes highway funds to use them for other purposes, but rather that State money is being used for State Highway projects and the local roads are the responsibility of locals. I can only speculate about the reasoning process. Perhaps if the public can be convinced that bad road budgets rather than good education costs are the reason property taxes are excessive, then maybe people will come to resent roads.

Perfecting the places we live to protect the places we don’t”. The motto of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin accurately captures their true goal which is to prevent the spread of human habitat. In their ideal world people live like termites in giant confined colonies while real insects flourish in paradise.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Russia Claims the Oily North Pole

While the American political establishment tinkers with fantasies of the natural past, the rest of the world has no intention of remaining poor and impoverished. Burning plants for energy is the habitat destructive past we are liberated from by coal and oil and gas. The gift of prosperity is not taken for granted by those lacking our first world lives.

Race To The North Pole: With a nuclear-powered icebreaker, two vast research ships, and 130 scientists, Russia's biggest-ever scientific expedition has set sail for the North Pole. … Russian scientists hope to bolster Russia's claim on 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic territory, which Russia estimates to contain at least 10 billion tons of oil and natural-gas reserves.

The Arctic and Antarctica are the last vast untapped reservoirs of mineral resources on the planet. Underneath the Arctic Ocean, there are gigantic reserves of tin, manganese, nickel, gold, platinum, and diamonds. … But the Arctic's most lucrative treasure is the enormous deposits of oil and gas, which could amount to 25 percent of the world's resources.

Russia hopes to win back the North Pole: Strictly speaking, Russia claims a triangle-shaped area of the Arctic Ocean; its base includes the Russian coast from the Kola Peninsula in the west to the tip of the Chukotka Peninsula in the east, across the Bering Strait from Alaska. The apex is the North Pole. This triangle covers 1.2 million square kilometers, an area the size of Italy, Germany and France put together. Generally speaking, we have always considered it our own. Starting in the 1920s, this sector was marked as Soviet and later Russian territorial waters on all the country's maps.

At least, this was the case before the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea limited us to a 200-mile economic zone along our coast. Having ratified it in 1997, we immediately lost our right to the rest of the Arctic Ocean, including our chunk of the North Pole. … Though Russia has lost that right, we can still try and get it back. The same convention gives us a chance. If we prove that the shelf - the oceanic Lomonosov ridge - is a continuation of the Siberian continental platform, we can practically have the whole lot to ourselves.

So the Russians are formally appealing to the United Nations to negate their signature on the Law of Sea Treaty and then verify their claim on the undersea floor of the Artic Ocean. If the U.N. fails to acquiesce does anyone believe a force of blue diving helmeted peace keepers will be sent to enforce decision?

Where is inflated outrage from The Sierra Club and Greenpeace and PIRG at this Russian expansionism into pristine wilderness? Where is the environmentalist demand that the Sea Shepherd Fleet be sent in to halt the activities of the Russian Navy? Really, sail some rubber dingeys up to a nuclear powered ice breaker and demand they retreat for the sake of the polar bears and caribou. Please.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Atwood Summerfest 2007

As of this month, Wisconsin has a Truth in Music Law requiring at least one member of the group that performed or recorded under a groups name still be in the group before a performance can be promoted as a groups performance. Got that? It’s a copyrite thing.

In the 1967 Summer of Love, Canned Heat is playing blues based sets at the Monterey Pop Festival. 40 years later drummer Fito de la Para retains the name and continues to play gigs from stages set up in the parking lots of neighborhood bars. Hey, more power to anyone who spends his life doing what he wants.

Maximum Ink: How many lineup changes has the group had?
DE LA PARRA: We’ve had more than 30 lineup changes in 42 years, it’s been a crazy ride. So when people ask me, “Who is in Canned Heat now?” it’s okay, because as long as I’m there, it’s still Canned Heat.

It’s just another beautiful summer day in Wisconsin and the city has closed off a few blocks of Atwood Avenue so the neighbors can party in the street. The Maximum Ink stage speakers rebound off the new condos across the road but no one is out on the balconies to take advantage of those most excellent sight lines. The long time residents, however, turn out in droves with their children and pets for a grand afternoon.

Gentrification is following the same patterns with the same tensions in Madison as in every city of America. None of the people I speak with want their neighborhood marred by ugly overhead wires and their main avenue busted up by rail tracks to ferry high paid government employees to their downtown jobs. Be a man Mayor Dave. The best way to save face is to admit the public doesn’t want your toy trains and drop the idea.

Canned Heat plays through their 40 year old “hits” with the bored professionalism of anyone doing the same task for the thousandth time. Fortunately the local bands kick up the noise with the joy of people playing for fun and the striving of musicians earnestly working to build a legacy, like The Gomers and Bobby Bryan respectively. Around 3 PM a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber cruises overhead which reminds me why these peaceful community gatherings are still free of suicide bombers.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Labor Issues In Socialist Chile

In 1971 Marxist Chilean President Salvador Allende completes the seizure of the countries copper industry. The move is justified by the excess profits being made by the foreign corporations that developed and built the operations. The nationalized industry remains a state owned enterprise called Codelco Corp. Socialists love to hold this story up as an example of the success of their vision, so it is interesting when labor unrest infiltrates their shining example of government owned of business.

Codelco copper strike reignites: An escalation in violence associated with the ongoing strike by Codelco subcontractors' workers has led to the shutdown of the world's largest underground copper mine - El Teniente. Salvador remains closed too. … Codelco said the disturbances were the most serious yet in the month-long stand-off between the state-owned firm, which supplies 11 percent of the world's copper, and subcontracted workers who are demanding improved pay and conditions.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called on Thursday for an end to the violence and government chief spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said the government was "certainly worried" by the economic implications of the stoppage for a country, which earns more than half its export revenue from copper sales. The government has urged Codelco to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible while the company has refused to submit to what it says are unreasonable demands.

When Socialist Michelle Bachelet is elected President of Chile it strikes me this may offer a comparative example of how a Hillary Clinton administration would operate. With labor hitting government where it hurts - in the cash flow - it should be informative to see how a compassionate socialist leader responds.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hazleton Immigration Decision

A Clinton appointed U.S. District Judge rules today that City of Hazleton municipal ordinances, specifically targeting employers and landlords to make them verify the legal status of employees and tenants, is unconstitutional. The convoluted reasoning of Judge James M. Munley concludes these local ordinances for U.S. Citizens somehow deny due process rights to non-citizens illegally in the country. My favorite quote is from the winning Allentown attorney, David Vaida.

Hazleton case: "The fact that we have won vindicates the right of citizens to rely on the federal constitution to protect our rights," Vaida said.

The irony is that this whole issue is about the rights of non-citizens without permission to be within this country. Red State provides an overview and link to the complete decision. After a brief reading, the logic seems to come down to the argument that the municipal ordinances fail to provide due process in a matter where Federal Law exists.

Decision: The ordinances disrupt a well-established federal scheme for regulating the presence and employment of immigrants in the United States. They violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and are unconstitutional.

My concern in these matters is the legal system continuing to devalue citizenship in an effort to achieve uniform equality before the law for all residents. If the mere presence in this county entails equal treatment under all laws regardless of individual legal status, then citizenship is affectively abolished and replaced by subjects under jurisdiction.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Municipal Business Skills

In a city full of lakes, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz pushes the building of a $5 Million dollar swimming pool through city council and to construction. To their credit, the council passes an ordinance requiring the pool to operate on its own revenues. Well, they missed that target to the tune of $140,000 their first year of operation. This season, in an attempt to reach solvency, the Parks District makes adjustments to their “business plan” including closing the store if there are less than 50 customers.

Red ink affects pool hours: Griswold said the closing policy is new this year after the pool posted a $140,000 operating loss in its first year. The pool didn't have the policy a year ago, because "last year we didn't know how much money we were losing." … Donald Studesville, in the Parks Division's administrative services office, said financial numbers for the first half of the pool's season came in Tuesday. He said he hadn't had time to look closely at them.” It seems like we're on target, maybe a little behind target."

WISC on air reports that “a little behind target” is around $70,000 in the red mid-year.

Financial Future Of Goodman Pool Uncertain: one parks official said that if a midseason report doesn't show the facility breaking even, admission and concession prices next year would likely have to go up. Meanwhile, another parks manager said kicking city dollars into a pool that does so much for so many might not be such a bad thing.

On camera, Mayor Dave smiles and says that maybe annual tax subsidies for the pool should be brought back as an option. After all, outside of the public beaches, school system and private pools where else are people going to swim. I point this out because this administration that can’t profitably run a $5 Million dollar fixed site facility is the same one wanting to construct a trolley system at $12 Million dollars per mile, to link with a light rail system costing $50 - $100 Million dollars per mile. The same people telling us that ridership will cover all the operating costs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Desperately Seeking The Bear

It is hard work slogging to the top but gravity gladly assists the journey back down, sometimes faster than expected. Stocks from every single segment of the economy participate in a massive sell off today and everyone is looking for signs that the end of the world is upon us. The people who love charting are all pointing at their charts.

Bearish Divergences Abound: Something is very wrong on Wall Street. As we have pointed out these late eight weeks, the bulk of the global stock market rally has slowly been coming to an end. How do large and elongated stock market rallies terminate? The answer is they always end up with a wide variety of bearish divergences.

For the broad market, the Daily Advance-Decline Line is one method of measuring overall participation and is computed by simply accumulating the NET number of advancers less decliners each day. When the figure is positive, the cumulative total rises; when the number is negative, the cumulative total declines. … the Daily A/D Ratio peaking on June 4th and the indicator unable to best those levels ever since. Just recently, on July 12th and 13th, when the S&P roared to new all time highs, the A/D Line failed to make higher highs producing a bearish divergence. Since then, the A/D Line has slipped backward and is now below both the 20-day and 50-day moving averages.

Since lots of people are looking for similarities to the Great Depression triggering market crash of 1929, a good place to start is this online book: Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's. Of course, similarities alone will lead to false conclusions. Any hope for accurate understanding also requires fully vetting the differences. The prolonged economic damage following 1929 resulted from many factors, most importantly the political mishandling of situation, as TCS Daily explains.

What Roosevelt Didn't Know: Keynes stimulated economists to clarify the relationship between asset markets and goods markets. In asset markets, such as the stock market and the bond market, traders exchange claims on real assets. The claims are mere pieces of paper that represent the title to the underlying assets, which might be power plants or factories. The paper claims do not use up real resources.

The real assets of the American economy were all fully intact despite the paper losses that ruined the personal finances of a great many individuals. Roosevelt did everything wrong and managed to turn personal tragedies from a national shock into a national tragedy. We have enough knowledge not to repeat these mistakes. Unfortunately, we have political leadership fully capable of repeating them all again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Practicing the Preaching?

Madison Gas & Electric executives decide to put their clients’ business on the internet and Isthmus editor Bill Lueders boldly goes where no other media dares go. Since the Isthmus is technically alternative media I believe all the facts are correct. (That’s a complement Bill).

Power snooping: Two weeks back, Watchdog revealed that a relatively new service offered by Madison Gas and Electric allows anyone with access to the Internet to learn the monthly high, low and average energy use of any residence in the utility’s service area.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz averaged just $180 a month in combined gas and electric over the last 12 months on his west-side home, with an assessed value of $356,900. But Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk has him (and nearly everyone else) beat: Her downtown condo (assessed at $343,000) averaged just $89 in electric and used no gas. … Barry Alvarez, no surprise, is an energy hog, averaging $532 a month on his Fitchburg behemoth (2006 assessed value: $731,800).

I suppose this makes sense. Barry Alvarez enjoys life, takes pride in his success and lives the good life he has earned. Meanwhile Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz, wrestling with psychological fears their lifestyle is a danger to all creatures* great and small, live with monkish simplicity in ecologically friendly small spaces. I wonder if their refrigerators still have that little light that turns on when the door opens. You can live without it.

There was a time when Democrats took pride in bringing power to the entire population so they could better maximize the potential of their lives. Now days the plan is all about trying to convince the general public their lives are excessive and abusive and should be scaled back. That old E=MC squared thing has somehow been perverted into the assertion that the world is running out of energy.

*Except those living things outlawed by statute or ordinance and those species not specifically present in Wisconsin during the designated benchmark decade of the 1840’s after which all changes in the environment are deemed unnatural.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Islamists Gain In Turkey

The ruling AK Party in Turkey is Islamic based and thus worries many secular Turks as well as those in the west who view religious/political parties with concern. A large number of Turkish voters, however, have no concerns about mixing faith and politics as they turn out in large numbers to give the Party widespread re-election gains. One article from Today’s Zaman outlines the results in detail while a second attempts to explain the whys.

AK Party wins big despite all odds: The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won a landslide victory in yesterday's general elections, leaving its nationalist rivals far behind as it secured an unparalleled 46,9 percent of the national vote, comfortably ensuring that it will again form a single-party government.

Yesterday's vote came in a highly polarized political atmosphere, marred by a memorandum from the military which warned of an intervention in politics amid parliamentary backbiting over the election of the next president. Tensions also increased when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in several provinces across Turkey to oppose a president from the AK Party ranks, something they said would constitute a threat to their secular lifestyle under the AK Party government.

Despite the growing chorus of opposition, however, the AK Party was flattered by a sharp increase in support as compared to the last general elections in 2002, when it won 34.2 percent. "This is a memorandum from the people," commented Milliyet daily columnist Hasan Cemal in televised remarks. "People showed that they do not want polarization."

The reasons why AK Party won the elections: It was a contest foreign observers described variously as "a battle for Turkey's soul," "the most important election in post-war history" and "a key test of the country's secular tradition." Yet for many Turks, it will be business as usual the morning after Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) cruised comfortably to electoral victory.

The government led by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan becomes the first Turkish government since 1987 to renew its mandate in a general election and the first since 1954 to increase the percentage of its vote. The question is why they did so well.

For a large portion of Turkish voters, the opposition attempt to turn the election into a matter of life and death, an issue of the nation in peril, just simply did not ring true, according to Ergun Ozbudun, professor of constitutional law at Istanbul's Bilgi University. The electorate showed that it is not afraid that the country is drifting uncontrolled to a more Islamic form of government. "They preferred the stability of a government that has done a satisfactory job to the unknown of a coalition," he said.

Muslims are good businessmen. The AK Party has kept the economy in good shape and is being rewarded for their success. What remains to be seen is to what extent the religious aspect of the party comes to influence social policy in this most westernized of Muslim countries, and how far the secular Turkish military will allow Islam into the national government.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Selectively Killing Off Males

MSNBC writes up a fascinating story about one of the uncountable number of skirmishes in the struggle for survival. What if a parasite (e.g. the bacteria wolbachia ) figures out the best way into the next generation of a host is to sneak in through genetically female eggs? What if the parasite (with wisdom greater than your normal germ) concludes that killing off genetically male eggs is, therefore, good for the cause.

Butterflies fast forward evolution: Sylvain Charlat of the University of California, Berkeley, and the University College London, along with colleagues, studied the sex ratios of Hypolimnas bolina butterflies on the Samoan islands of Upolu and Savaii, where males had dwindled to 1 percent of the populations in 2001.

The likely culprit was a male-killing parasite, Wolbachia, which lives inside the butterfly's reproductive cells, preferably female sex cells. With a female host, Wolbachia can hitch a ride to the next generation aboard the mother's eggs. Since males are "useless" for the bacteria's survival, the parasite kills male embryos.

But the male butterflies found a way to stealthily overcome the parasites. At the beginning of 2006, the scientists found the males made up about 40 percent of Upolu's butterfly population.

99 females for every guy! This is the story line of thousands of science fiction fantasies. Butterflies as a group have about 25 million years of specific and 450 million years of insect evolutionary strength to draw upon and the boys make a comeback.

Hosts and parasites have a long intimate history of battling each other and the key to parasite survival is to not kill off all the hosts. Within 10 generations the percentage of male butterflies has rebounded from this brink of extinction episode. UW Madison Anthropologist John Hawks notes this culling of most male genomes serves to amplify the specific mix of the survivors as the species moves forward in time.

Escaping the male-killer: The rapid response to the high infection rate is quite expected based on the mechanism of male-killing, as long as the few remaining males are necessary, their genes will be represented in all the next generation. So it's an enormous reproductive advantage, in this case causing an allele to go from near zero to 40 percent in only 10 generations.

Creating a living organism from chemicals is a complex task, miraculous given the number of steps that must go correctly. Millions of years have fine tuned ways to keep the assembly process viable but every step is subject to breakdown or attack. Fortunately, the over all process is remarkably resistant and adaptable to change. Change, after all, is constant.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jonah Goldberg On Order

I haven’t been commenting on the Iraq debate lately because the discussion has largely devolved into the fixed positions of siblings arguing about who is at fault. I do, however, like this article by Jonah Goldberg writing at National Review Online for pointing out what we should want for Iraq is what we clearly value ourselves.

Order Is in Order: The Arab world doesn’t have a great grasp of what democracy is, but it does have a keen sense of justice and order.

Americans are great at talking about how wonderful democracy is. The right to vote is taught as a sacrament from grade school up. Politicians can talk a mile a minute about how wonderful elections are for much the same reason salesmen at a Ford dealership can talk a blue streak about how great Fords are: It’s their livelihood. Spend your career trolling for votes and you’re apt to be able to explain why votes are the most important thing in the world.

But Americans don’t believe, not really, that voting is the most important thing in the world. For starters, if they believed such nonsense, they’d vote more.

No, Americans like exercising plenty of other rights more than their right to vote. The right to speak your mind, own property, associate with whomever you like, be compensated for the fruits of your labor: these and other rights are plainly more dear to Americans than the right to pull a lever every two or four years. Obviously, Americans would care if anyone proposed taking away their right to vote. But as a matter of common sense, voting is less important to us than those rights and liberties that make our God-given right to pursue happiness possible.

Lest we forget, democracy shorn of these other rights is no less tyrannical than dictatorial rule.

One of my pet peeves is when people equate voting and democracy. Voting is a operational process and government by consent of the governed within a just rule of law is democracy. Voting without a framework of individual rights is the eventual path to rule by power.

The opponents of the Iraq battlefront want to believe an ideological danger can be contained and controlled without transformation of the regional culture. Proponents of our efforts in Iraq believe a transformation can happen if a more just society is allowed to grow. Peace derived from secure free people is better than peace derived by subjugation and localization of dissent. The freedom peace first requires a foundation of order and in Iraq that means completing the task of removing the jihadists and their war materials from society.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mad Men

It’s a summer night after the Milwaukee Brewers (at long last) find their bats in an afternoon thrashing and series clinching win against Arizona, so there is time to tune into the new series Mad Men on AMC. A lot has changed in last 50 years and a lot remains the same. Three steps forward for every two steps back results in progress in some direction.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Resist The Regional Transit Authority

The Environmentalist Duo of Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz apparently have decided that now is the time to bum’s rush their New Urbanist makeover of Dane County. The tool they covet is a Regional Transit Authority with taxing power. Let’s remember our history. One of the first things Dave Cieslewicz does after his initial election is to pull Madison out of the US Conference of Mayors and create his own more progressive organization, with University of Wisconsin assistance.

New Cities Project: The Mayor Innovation Project was launched in February 2005 by Madison, Wisconsin Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Joel Rogers, professor at UW-Madison and director of COWS, the national high road service center.

Even a cursory glance at the New Cities Project Meetings makes it clear the agenda is predominantly about using local government to combat the dreaded projected climate change, and that means using any means available to get people to reduce driving. The detailed presentation by the City of Madison gets to their core belief that modern society is hurting nature.

As time marches on, population growth and consumption habits increase the demand on natural resources and the environment. Simultaneously, the capacity of natural systems to accommodate that demand is shrinking.

Because resources like fossil fuels, metals and minerals are finite and damage our environment if allowed to accumulate, the City will reduce its consumption of materials extracted from the Earth’s crust.

I completely disagree that modern society and nature are incompatible, or that nature is a fragile static construct incapable of adaptation. I reject the Malthusian doom and gloom of their simplistic extrapolations of incidents and locations. The oil economy and the freedom of personal transportation creates this unique achievement that is America. We should be working towards expanding this success story rather than retreating in fear from imaginary catastrophes. My new motto: Oppressive Government is not Progressive Government.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Feingold Gets Scolded

Dross – worthless material that should be removed. It appears realty has smacked the nutroots right upside the head. The beacon of leftwing propriety has offended the moonbats and they are howling mad.

Feingold Turns to Dross: In a diary entry on DailyKos, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), one of the most consistently progressive liberals in the Senate, surrendered to the Democratic Party Establishment, with an embarrassing string of lame and tired excuses for not standing for impeachment of the Bush/Cheney regime. … His reasons offered for this bizarre turnabout sounded suspiciously like “talking points” from the Democratic Leadership Council, or from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Feingold says he worries about “The great deal of time multiple impeachment trials would take away from the Congress working on the problems of the country.” But he fails to address what problems Congress is actually working on, or what problems it can even try to work on. The list is embarrassingly short. In fact, aside from the tiny and almost meaningless increase in the federal minimum wage that was passed as kind of “blood money” attached to the $120-billion Iraq War funding bill, there is nothing Congress has done in the last six months.

We who are pushing for impeachment would like to have you on board, fighting for the Constitution with us, as you pledged to do when you took your oath of office, but if you are going to cave and play the cynical and cowardly game of Pelosi and the gang of corrupt leaders of your party, we’ll just have to do it without you. And you’ll have to face your next election without us.

Politicians failing to deliver on promises? Oh my, please do sit out the next election disheartened progressives. Feingold believes in anti-liberty values but he is an intelligent politician and knows when it is time backtrack - slightly. He is realistic enough to understand what Dave Lindorff and the Bush Derangement Syndrome Orchestra refuse to admit. There is evil in the purposeful use of civilian mass murder and the satanic desire for humans to prostrate themselves in unquestioning obedience. Pretending monsters don’t exist is a pastime for scared children.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tragic Under Funding Guilt Trip

There is never enough money. There will never be enough money. I may be wrong about the latter statement, but I have never heard anyone in education state an exact dollar amount that will satisfy all desires. It’s time to turn the screws on private business. Got guilt trip?

Cuts in School Funding Are Hard: Martha Vukelich-Austin is president of the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools. Established in September 2000, this independent organization is dedicated to sustaining Madison's public schools by raising funds, making grants and developing partnerships within the community.

"What the foundation was set up to provide is sort of an innovative and creative funding outside of the core school budget," Vukelich-Austin explains. "We are never intended to fund things that are really the responsibility of the school district but to be an enhancement to those or functions of the district."

According to the foundation's Web site, the FMPS has raised more than four million dollars primarily in endowments and has given back more than $350,000 in grants to Madison schools since its establishment.

Non-profit pools of endowment money are being created with no intention of providing tax relief. Grandma can always reverse mortgage her lifetime of equity into property tax payments. Nothing says thank you for a lifetime of responsible citizenship than an unsatisfiable permanent debt. I guess taxing people out of their homes is acceptable as long as there are students willing to ladle soup for social justice.

Collins is a professor of business at Edgewood College. He teaches such classes as Social Responsibility in Business and Ethical Business Practices in Madison. He has his students waiting in line at soup kitchens and volunteering their time with local nonprofit agencies.

Collins explains why Madison businesses give to education: "The public school system is the heart of any community," he says. "That's where the future citizens, the future leaders come out of." Collins says the state of Wisconsin comes up tragically short every year in its ability to finance high schools.

"Madison is extremely progressive, extremely socially conscious. If you're a business and you want to be a player in the city of Madison you want to have a good social conscious because that's just expected of you. The bar in giving is quite high."

Uhhh… “If you're a business and you want to be a player in the city of Madison” has the distinct odor of pay to play, nudge, nudge, wink, wink with six degrees of accounting separation from the school board and city hall. Too cynical? Perhaps, but I’m tired of imagining the pain of under funding because I’m experiencing the pain of over taxation.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

La Fête de Marquette 2007

In the industrial corridor east of the Capital is a 17 acre bare patch of land between the rail tracks. In the middle of our dry summer the grass is patchy brown and the fine dirt perfectly dusty. It’s a great spot for a party. This is the second year of La Fête de Marquette, the French themed festival of the Marquette Neighborhood Association. Lola and I recall the shade less afternoon heat of the inaugural event, so this year we wait till later in the day to catch the young kids of Feufollet and the legendary talents of C. J. Chenier.

Nothing quite says Madison like a guy in a New Orleans tee shirt that says: Make Levee Not War, standing in front of the Sierra Club booth as a fully loaded coal train rumbles immediately behind them. Something has to burn to make enough electricity to power those big stage speakers. Of course, irony is integral to the social fabric of Madison. Last year the goal was to raise funds to turn this piece of open ground in the middle of the city into a central park. This year the goal is to raise awareness of central park.

Awareness Not Funds for Central Park: Hundreds celebrated the French holiday "Bastille Day" on Madison's Near-Eastside tonight at the proposed site for what could become one of the city's largest parks. The second annual La Fete de Marquette was not raising funds for Central Park tonight, but rather awareness for the park's potential. Central Park needs a lot of money before it becomes a reality. This year, the money from the French festival will go towards the more immediate needs of the neighborhood.

There is a time tested way of achieving results in this city and it goes awareness first, tax levy second. Near the end of the evening another freight train rolls towards downtown with ten cars stacked with very large tubes of missile compatible diameters. Big plans are moving forward all over Capital City. As the sun goes down the music is incredible and dancing fills the evening.

In case the Marquette organizers stumble across this corner of cyberspace, I do appreciate two fiddlers on either side of an accordion, dredging up Louisiana swamp roots. So in honor of the French contribution to our national character, I nominate The Red Stick Ramblers for next year. Lâche pas la patate.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hillary Clinton v. Free Speech

Force is more effective than persuasion for achieving goals. The people writing our constitution understood this basic fact. The First Amendment right to free speech is first in line, specifically to make it clear that consensual government is based on persuasion. The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is there to guarantee the primacy of free speech, against the inevitable temptation for power to subordinate dialog in the pursuit of results.

In a detailed article at Front Page Magazine, John Perazzo reconstructs some recent links. When you match the money trail to the participant’s words, it is pretty clear Mrs. Bill Clinton is operating a well funded organization to suppress free speech.

Media Matters: Hillary’s Lap Dogs: The real guiding hand over Imus’ downfall, however, belonged neither to Sharpton nor Jackson, but to Hillary Rodham Clinton. This is not widely understood, because Mrs. Clinton’s pristine fingerprints were kept off her victim by the intercession of a velvet glove called Media Matters for America, the organization responsible for setting in motion the chain of events that eventually brought down Imus.

Established in May 2004, Media Matters identifies itself as “a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media”—particularly information “that forwards the conservative agenda.”

To truly understand Media Matters’ motives, we must look at the organization’s special relationship with Hillary Clinton, who has deeply despised Don Imus for more than a decade. … But how do we know there is a connection between Hillary’s antipathy for Imus and the deadly blow that Media Matters dealt to his radio program? We know because Media Matters’ links to Hillary are at once intimate and multitudinous, and the organization’s devotion to her is nothing short of profound.

Media Matters and Hillary Clinton are further linked by their respective relationships with three of the most influential leftist operatives in the world—George Soros, Morton Halperin, and John Podesta. All three of these men are intimately involved with a vital think tank called the Center for American Progress (CAP)—which, according to Cybercast News Service’s research, “was instrumental in getting Brock’s media group off the ground”; which helped launch Media Matters on May 3, 2004; and which maintains a tight bond with Brock’s organization to this day.

Media Matters’ desire to eliminate voices critical of Hillary dovetails perfectly with its support of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a policy (repealed by Congress in 1987) whose re-establishment Hillary Clinton likewise advocates, just as she did during her years as First Lady.

The desire for power over people burns within Hillary. Everything thing I know leads me to believe it stems from some internal psychological need to justify herself - to herself. She is almost Nixon-like in the need to silence enemies and her dirty tricks team is two generations more sophisticated than anything Haldeman and Ehrlichman assembled. CREEP-y ain’t it?

Friday, July 13, 2007

A New Kid in NASCAR

I remember when a kid beat NASCAR Champs Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart a year ago. He may be the real deal and the next Wisconsin driver to ascend to the national level. Like Kenseth did ten years ago, Kelly Bires gets a commitment to finish out the Busch Series season.

Kelly Bires: Kelly Bires has moved from NASCAR Busch Series fill-in to NASCAR Busch Series full- timer. The 22-year-old Mauston native confirmed Thursday he will drive in place of Jon Wood for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing in 14 of the final 16 Busch Series races this season, the exceptions being the pair of road- course races left on the schedule.

Lightweight driver becoming a big deal: Kelly Bires weighs all of 120 pounds and is an unknown rookie in the NASCAR Busch Series, but his competitors should think twice about tangling with him. Bires, having ran just four Busch races, was a two-time state wrestling champion in his home state of Wisconsin and is just a year removed from beating former Nextel Cup champions Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart in an ASA all-star challenge race in Madison, Wis.

"The thing that impressed us about him is he came in the office with no daddy and no agent and really presented himself as to why he should be our development driver." … After winning back-to-back state wrestling titles and graduating sixth in his class with a 3.975 grade-point average, Bires had his share of opportunities.

A smart kid with talent. This could be a good story to follow for those who follow the track.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just Another Work Day in America

Wow – Dow – and everything else. How is it possible that the Bush Administration has ruined America in the eyes of the world without damping the world’s desire to partake in our economy? I suppose the ineptitude of the worst President in history prevents him from screwing up what he should be screwing up with his ineptitude. I can hardly wait until we have competent politicians with their policy wonk entourages in charge. Thank goodness there are government employees and pensioners diligently pursuing regime change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Portland’s Failed Experiment

Portland Oregon is the municipality being idealized and emulated by Dane County environmentalists Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz. Their plan to create a Regional Transit Authority, necessary to raise tax dollars for building fixed rail transportation, is specifically related to their desire to re-create the Portland experiment. Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute reviews the real effects of money, policy and government idealism on a region.

Debunking Portland: Urban planners have long believed in a land-use-transportation connection that would allow them to manipulate one through the other. So Portland plans land uses to try to reduce the amount of driving people do while it plans transportation to try to slow the conversion of rural land to urban purposes.

The Portland Myths: Portland planners and officials have done their best to promote claims that their integrated planning process is successful. In particular, they say that: 1. Investments in transit and land-use changes promoted by planning rules have significantly reduced auto use; 2. Transit-oriented developments have proven commercially successful and have moved many people out of their cars; 3. Rail transit has, in turn, stimulated billions of dollars of land-use developments; 4. The urban-growth boundary and other planning rules have significantly reduced sprawl; and 5. Portlanders love their plans.

Problems with Portland’s Plans: The previous discussion has already hinted at some of the major drawbacks of Portland’s integrated land-use and transportation planning. These include the following: 1. increasingly unaffordable housing prices. 2. Increased traffic congestion. 3. Higher taxes or reduced urban services as tax revenues are diverted to rail transit and transit-oriented development. 4. A reputation for having an unfriendly business environment, leading to higher unemployment.

All the myths are false. All the problems are true. The lesson of Portland is that physical structures do not change individual attitudes. Everyone who votes in Dane County should read this article before consenting to be taxed at 6% per transaction.

Kathleen Falk and Dave Cieslewicz do not care what the people of this county want. Their loyalty is to an ideal and they will limit our mobility as much as necessary in order to create their version of the proper relationship between mankind and nature. They are hoping an uninformed voter base allows them to continue on with their misguided vision. Let’s not be stupid.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Our Most Basic Values

The Wisconsin State Assembly proposes a budget which does not include massive tax increases and suddenly all that is good about our state is undone. Apparently.

“This is an extreme, irresponsible budget that works against the needs of Wisconsin families. It’s an assault on our most basic values”. – Governor Jim Doyle (D)

“Assembly Republicans are on the verge of passing the most fiscally irresponsible, morally reprehensible budget to come out of Madison in some time.” – Sen. Judy Robeson (D)

“The Assembly Republican budget is an entirely irresponsible document.” – Rep. Jim Kreuser. (D)

"Wisconsin's economy, its families and its future are being sold out by Assembly Republicans, whose budget is an assault on higher education.” – Chancellor John Wiley (D)

Since it is a nearly perfect July evening, I stroll outside to see for myself. There are lots of people out walking, plenty of traffic on the streets, an abundance of trees and flowers everywhere and amateurs playing baseball under the high school lights. Sorry Governor, I’m not seeing “our most basic values” on the verge of obliteration. I suspect our values are deeper than our pocketbooks.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Magical Energy Policy

Dan Scott is requesting our political class take a good hard look at the facts when it comes to our gasoline supplies. A good starting point is understanding “the "paradox of fuel efficiency" -- the tendency of consumers to drive more miles when they acquire a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Face it, we love our mobility, and can't get enough of it”. Anyone paying attention knows, however, the public desire for freedom is not a serious concern to our lawmakers. Most assuredly ethanol is not the answer to any looming issues.

Magical Thinking on Energy Policy: There is an even more fundamental reason why we simply cannot provide sufficient ethanol to displace enough gasoline via the existing refineries to meet the increasing demand of a growing population. Ethanol can't be combined with gasoline after the refinery process is over, in a simple mixing process. Unfortunately, the combining of ethanol and gasoline is integral to the refining process; therefore the maximum capacity of fuel production is limited to the existing refinery output.

For every grade of gasoline, whether E10 (10% ethanol), E85 (85% gas) or straight gasoline, there is a specific process that must be performed after the initial refining. All gasoline mixtures must go through the Reforming process to specifically adjust the Octane level prior to adding the final specific amount of ethanol. One can not simply take straight gasoline and mix in 90%, or 15% or 5% ethanol to sell at the pump.

The last thing any national energy policy should do is ignore the facts by pretending that ethanol or mileage improvements can possibly offset any reasonable estimated increase in annual vehicle mileage. Such policies might have had some chance for success if the vehicle mileage traveled were stagnant for the next few decades. But this is simply not in the cards, so the premise fails in light of the facts.

Interesting; ethanol without refinery capacity is useless for expanding gas supplies. Public demand for gasoline is going to increase, not diminish, so it is very troubling that entrenched special interests in our country truly believe it is their duty to suppress the peoples demand for transportation fuel. Ironically, the loudest cheerleaders for the amazing power of ethanol are the same ones who have effectively prevented the expansion of our refinery capacity that might allow ethanol to perhaps do some good for the whole country. Politicians beware; the angriest people are the ones who can’t get where they want to go.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Tree in a Yard

The Crocodile Cage tells a short story ending in a good question about property rights in Wisconsin. I suspect the nanny state nitpicking has only just begun.

Whose Tree is it Anyway? Over the past holiday week, I visited a friend who is adding an addition to his home. My friend has a $600,000+ home on a lake in northern Wisconsin. He is adding a sunroom. The County made a big deal about a flowering crab apple tree that was located in the area of his expansion. … I know it is naive to ask, but whose tree is it anyway? When did we give up all semblance of property rights? When did trees turn into public property?

Personally, I believe the problem has roots back to a decision over eighty years ago when the Supreme Court of the United States decides that a property owner has no right to keep officers of the government off private land. Warrants? We don’t need no stinking warrants.

FindLaw : ''Open Fields.''--In Hester v. US, 265 U.S. 57 (1924) the Court held that the Fourth Amendment did not protect ''open fields'' and that, therefore, police searches in such areas as pastures, wooded areas, open water, and vacant lots need not comply with the requirements of warrants and probable cause.

In a fundamental way, this decision changes the idea that the land constituting the country is privately held by citizens who form a government to protect individual rights, oversee commerce and adjudicate disputes --- into a concept where government has superior interests in the land that out weigh those of the property owners.

In time, the superior rights of the government expand and give rise to dictates about where you can mow a lawn or build a storage shed. As the reasonable desire to have some lands held in public ownership increasingly morphs into an imperative for government to manage nature, their assertion of superior rights will increasingly claim authority over every living thing. Have any Ash Trees or Black Locusts you think you own?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Scientific Fraud – The Bands Play On

I hope Al Gore is having fun with his concerts because the truth about his lies is catching up. The boys over at Climate Audit find a paper by J. Scott Armstrong and Kesten Green analyzing the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The authors find no valid scientific forecasting behind the UN’s assertions and recommendations.

Scientific Forecasting: The forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific procedures. In effect, they present the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing. … We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts to support global warming. Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder.

The methodology used in the past few decades has shifted from surveys of experts’ opinions to the use of computer models. However, based on the explanations that we have seen, such models are, in effect, mathematical ways for the experts to express their opinions. To our knowledge, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that presenting opinions in mathematical terms rather than in words will contribute to forecast accuracy.

The entire globalwarmist movement is based on politically motivated scientific fraud. The essential take home messages: “unaided judgmental forecasts by experts have no value”, and there is a difference between a forecast by scientists and a scientific forecast. In other words, speculation using computer game programming is not science, and a “scientist” predicting Tom Watson wins U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits tomorrow does not make that prediction scientific.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fat Kills Cancer?

The Doctor says: "Nearly everyone has some fat tissue they can spare”. It turns out that adipose tissue is an excellent source of adult stem cells of mesodermal origin and Slovakian researchers are devising ways to alter these cells to target early stage cancers.

Fat Kills Cancer: Mesenchymal stem cells help repair damaged tissue and organs by renewing injured cells. They are also found in the mass of normal cells that mix with cancer cells to make up a solid tumor. Researchers believe mesenchymal stem cells "see" a tumor as a damaged organ and migrate to it, and so might be utilized as a "vehicle" for treatment that can find both primary tumors and small metastases. These stem cells also have some plasticity, which means they can be converted by the micro environment of a given tissue into specialized cells.

They expanded the number of mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory and then used a retrovirus vector to insert the gene cytosine deaminase into the cell. This gene can convert a less toxic drug, 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), to 5-FU inside the stem cells, and the chemotherapy can then seep out into the tumor, producing a lethal by-stander effect.

It is an interesting trick with some success in experiments on mice. The idea being the really toxic anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) can be produced locally on site at the tumor, rather than dumped indiscriminately into a person’s whole body. All it takes is inserting a gene into stem cells that normally facilitate tissue repair, transforming them into killer cells producing 5-FU from a milder precursor molecule. Another example of adults using adults parts to find solutions to adult problems.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Al-Qaeda Movie Time (with subtitles)

Spiegel Online breaks down the latest Al-Qaeda pep-talk and Q3 action plan.

Unite in Jihad: In the one-and-a-half hour video entitled "The Advice of One Concerned," Ayman al-Zawahri, who is al-Qaida's No. 2 after Osama bin Laden, talks about the terror organization's future strategy.

The video, produced by the production firm as-Sahab, which is close to al-Qaida, is al-Zawahri's eighth so far this year and, with its English subtitles, is obviously intended for a Western audience.

He encourages Iraqis and Muslims in general to show greater support for al-Qaida's insurgent front in Iraq, which he calls the Islamic State of Iraq. However, he implicitly acknowledges problems with the front and admits, without going into further detail, that certain detractors say it lacks the "necessary qualifications."

He also criticizes Saudi Arabia's growing influence in Iraq and its support for what he called the "Zionist crusade led by America" in the Middle East. Al-Zawahri refers to Western media to back up his criticism of Saudi Arabia's support for the West, quoting US journalist Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack" and other Western reporting while discussing Saudi Arabia's culpability in the Iraq war.

A video production from the most notorious advocate of religious murder does not get released with English subtitles and integrated examples of western reporting, unless the western press is an important part of the intended audience. Sweetness & Light picks up on this aspect from the AP release.

Al-Zawahri, the top deputy of Osama bin Laden, called on Muslims to follow a two-pronged strategy: work at home to topple “corrupt” Arab regimes and join al-Qaida’s “jihad,” or holy war, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia to fight and train “to prepare for the next jihad.”

This is the truth of the matter – there will always be “the next jihad”. These current battlegrounds in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq are going badly for the forces of decreed submission. Rallying cries are for the weary and dispirited. Military supplies from Iran are the only reason the Mujahideen are able to continue killing unarmed civilians. Their best hope for supremacy lies within the agenda of the western press, who believe they can profit from these horrors and yet escape the consequences.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fireworks Etiquette

Via Ace of Spades, some 4th of July do’s and don’ts. Fireworks Etiquette.

“Be sure to wear safety goggles when you shoot bottle rockets from your mouth”.

“Don’t let your drunk cousin smoke and handle the bag o’fireworks”.

“You can light a M-80 with a cigarette, but you really shouldn’t light a cigarette with an M-80″.

“If you must fire rockets out of your ass, at least use some lube. If the rocket cannot escape smoothly, you will have a burnt ass”.

“Blind people do not enjoy fireworks as much as you might imagine, what with not being able to see the display and really only have the sound to work with. So be sure to set off your fireworks as close to a blind person as possible, so that they experience the full power of the explosive, including the feel of the blast wave. This really works best if you do not tell the blind person of your plans in advance”.

I should add a couple more from my own investigative research on this important subject.

When placing an aerodynamically shaped decorative foil nosecone on a bottle rocket, take the weight of the metal into account lest the launch reach apogee at six feet, blowing micro-fragments of aluminum confetti in all directions.

Duct tape has marvelous blast altering powers. An M-80 adhered to a solid oak door dramatically enhances the sonic effects. Use this knowledge with consideration of others.

When you notice the police observing your private fireworks display, it is quite proper to offer a complementary beer to the officer. You are either in trouble already, or not.

Nothing quite says ground display like a spray can of aerosolized ether and a bonfire.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Reformed Jihadist Thoughts

In the aftermath of the Doctor Jihadi terrorist attempts in the United Kingdom, the Daily Mail finds a reformed Islamic extremist. The western media that insist on discussing religious violence only in terms of the secular paradigms of their own world view are actually prolonging the problem. It’s the theology, stupid.

I was a fanatic: When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this "Blair's bombs" line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

How do Islamic radicals justify such terror in the name of their religion? There isn't enough room to outline everything here, but the foundation of extremist reasoning rests upon a model of the world in which you are either a believer or an infidel.

For centuries, the reasoning of Islamic jurists has set down rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war.

But what radicals and extremists do is to take this two steps further. Their first step has been to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr (The Land of Unbelief). Step two: since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world.

For decades, radicals have been exploiting the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern secular state - typically by starting debate with the question: "Are you British or Muslim?" But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.

They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.

As the media engages in annual plaudits about our institutional commitment to the idea that all men are created equal, I hope they remember their exultant words are hypocritical posing, without a concurrent commitment to discredit all ideas that some humans are fundamentally inferior.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Demonic Among Us

I have to admire the opening serve. “Today in England we have a smoking ban. Innocent children are being stabbed to death by feral gangs who chase them down the street screaming “Kill! kill!” – but we have a smoking ban.” An excellent musing on disproportionate response.

Shame, Triumph and Triumphalism: The most evident contemporary characteristic of the ban is its irrelevance to our broken society. It has come about as a result of the most ruthless and mendacious campaign in modern history. At least the American campaigners (such as the CDC and EPA) went to the trouble of committing gross statistical fraud to accomplish their ends. The British campaigners simply invented numbers – and then kept increasing them.

The complete disregard of cost is so typical of politically correct government. Every public building (so-called; in fact most of them are private property) now has to show a no-smoking sign. Taxpayers now have to fund the training and wages of anti-smoking snoopers: yet another bunch of wage-parasites. Even churches and cathedrals have to display the signs, though oddly enough they don’t have to show signs banning, say, copulation or excretion. This is pure triumphalism, the arrogant and pointless display of power by the victorious armies of political correctness. In terms of the punishment decreed, smoking is now a far more serious crime than theft or vandalism.

Not to be out done by the English, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids release a little exercise in over the top, irrational fear inducing public brainwashing. Take home message: Be very, very afraid and let government come to the rescue.

Workers Absorb Potent Carcinogen: The new study, which was released last week, finds that nonsmoking restaurant and bar employees absorb a potent, tobacco-specific carcinogen when exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace. It also finds that levels of this powerful carcinogen continue to increase the longer the employee works in a place where smoking is permitted.

The study also shows why it is important that legislators protect all workers and reject loopholes and exemptions that would condemn some workers to continued exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke.

The public shall not speak the name of the demon: 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone -- lest they giggle. Nor shall the people be allowed the freedom to choose where they work and play. The assessment of risk is too important to leave to workers. Health is all their mortal lives can hope for so health is what must be mandated.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Capitalist Flight Continues from Venezuela

Venezuela continues to play hardball with foreign oil companies. ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil decide to simply leave the rapidly maturing socialist state, rather than acquiescing to the new requirement of accepting minority positions in their own business ventures.

The Economist: WHEN Venezuela's government announced this week that two American oil giants, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, would walk away from their large investment in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt rather than accept tough new contract terms, officials presented it as the recovery of sovereignty over another slice of the country's all-important oil industry. Some other Venezuelans saw a government blunder that could accelerate the decline of the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

There is no doubt Hugo Chavez covets the petroleum wealth of his country. The question is whether his moves are shrewd non-violent gambits to rid his infrastructure of capitalist investors, or the clumsy acts of a fool too eager to collect all the golden eggs.

Business Week: Right now, Venezuela is creating the biggest doubts. Its output has declined by about 25%, to 2.4 million barrels per day, since populist President Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999. The main reason: Chávez fired 75% of the managers at state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) after a strike in 2003. That decision left PDVSA overstretched and ineffective. The plunge would have been disastrous had it not been for increased investment by foreigners.

Extracting oil and transforming it into something useful is an expensive task requiring skills and knowledge in addition to sophisticated technology. There is no spontaneous alchemy changing carbon sludge into gold. The Chavistas, like the Iranian Mullahs, may come to discover that a sea of crude below your feet may not prevent the need to ration gasoline to public.

Free Republic: ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. could hold a powerful card to make Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez bet his country's sizable American assets in the high-stakes nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry, experts say. The Citgo subsidiary of Venezuela's national oil company has five refineries in the U.S. experts say could be targeted for seizure if a stalemate prompts one or both U.S. oil majors to seek recompense through international arbitration.

It is probably wise to credit your opponent with more wisdom than the evidence merits. Hugo understands the wealth of the world will find the way to his precious. He may even be counting on a truth the Saudi’s may be facing. A rusty spigot on a full barrel is better than brushed nickel faucets tapping an empty bucket.