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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wrong Victim

Maybe some folks in Atlanta, three now in jail one in the morgue, will think twice before trying to assault and rob someone.

(From the AP via Washington Post)

ATLANTA -- Former Marine cook Thomas Autry, 36, fatally stabbed one teenager and wounded a second while fending off a robbery by a group of youths armed with two guns and a pair of brass knuckles, police said. Amy Martin, 17, was pronounced dead at a hospital, and Christopher Daniel, 17, was in critical
condition, police said.

Chalk one up for the Marines in this one. According to the longer version of the story he started by kicking the shotgun out of one guys hands, and then stabbing the girl when she jumped on his back.

The four assailants fled when Miss Martin was stabbed, and found later by the police at a hospital.

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The Real Lunacy

Harold Meyerson has an op/ed piece called "The Estate Tax Lunacy" in today's WaPo. Through the whole thing, Harold beats up on the rich who will get away with robbery if the Estate Tax (death tax, to me) is permanently repealed.

The Estate Tax has gone away, at the federal level, for most everyone except those folks with an estate over about 2 million bucks. The 'million' part is the important number there, because it's big, and therefore, immoral according to liberals.

The truth is, it's the estate tax that is immoral, regardless of the level. For in all of his bluster abotu it, what Meyerson forgots to mention, is that these estates have already been taxed on their value.

Either through income taxes on the money they've earned to buy the things in the estates, capital gains on their portfolios that they have, or other state and federal taxes, the folks have already been taxed once on what they have.

The Estate Tax is simply the government's way of taxing you a second, and sometimes third time on what you've earned, because you are dead and can't fight back.

And while Harold will wax poetic about the enviable amount Dick Cheney's kids would get in their inheritance without the estate tax, he doesn't mention how much Cheney has paid in taxes already in accumulating his wealth.

He also makes it sound like only the superwealthy are affected, but that simply isn't true. I know a mid level DC guy, career civil service who makes about $90,000 a year who would get whacked by the tax, to the point that his family would lose most of their income if he died.

Why? Well he was smart and invested in some DC area property years ago. He pays taxes (at about 33%) annually on his rental income from them, but that doesn't matter. He also pays capital gains when he turns the properties over in his portfolio, because they are investment properties, not his home.

When he dies, because the combined values of the properties and other savings will most likely exceed the $2 million cap, he'll get whacked with a 50% tax bill for them. Which means most of what he's gathered as income earning items over the years would be wiped out by the estate tax. Not only would his family lose his primary income, but probably half of the rental income they earn from those properties to pay the tax man.

We talked about this a while back, and he's now working with a professional advisor to shield the income from the estate tax should it make a come back. Hell, if Ted Kennedy can hide his, he should be able to shield what he has too.

No, Harold, the lunancy of the Death Tax isn't that "rich people" get to keep what they've earned, the lunacy is that the liberals think that in death you should be punished for being successful, even though you've already paid your taxes on the stuff.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tickets, Anyone?

Guess who's in the news again in another corruption related story? It's not Tom DeLay, but instead Harry Reid who gets a rather long article on page A3 of the Washington Post, explaining why he took free boxing tickets while working on federal boxing legislation.

Other members accompanied him to fights, including John McCain, who bought his own tickets, and John Ensign recused himself from the voting on Reid's legislation. But Reid is unapologetically flippant about the fact he accepted the tickets.

"I'm not Goodie Two Shoes. I just feel these events are nothing I did wrong," Reid said.

Yet Senate rules warn against the idea of taking gifts that would normally be allowed when they could be seen as being given to directly affect legislation. Evidently Harry doesn't think that warning applies to him.

Reid, with this, and his Abramoff related issues, is helping to ensure the Democrats can't use the "Culture of Corruption" as their rallying cry come November. He's becoming a poster boy for that culture, and refuses to recognize the fact.

You'd think that by this time the rest of the party leadership would have set him down and explained he needs to start sounding like a guy who might have made a mistake. Instead, they allow him to go on sounding much like Bill Clinton asking someone to define the word "is".

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Monday, May 29, 2006

The First Duty Is To Remember

Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have given everything, for the freedoms our country enjoys, and others wish to experience.

In trying to figure out what to write, to memorialize those who've given their lives in service to our country, I realized I'd written such a piece last year to commemorate the anniversary of the Beruit Barracks bombing. I'm reposting it today to remember the the 241 service members who were killed that day; a day that shaped my outlook on life in many ways.

The title to this post is a link to a list that has great meaning to me. If you believe the War on Terror started on 9/11, you definitely need to follow the link, and remember, it started long before that.

22 years ago today (10/23/1983) was my very first morning waking up on a Navy ship. I was onboard the USS Iwo Jima, waiting for a flight to my ship, the USS New Jersey floating around off the coast of Lebanon.

I didn't get to wake up to a bugle, or reveille, or some droll thing like that. Instead I was shaken out of a sound sleep, and asked what type blood I had, because they needed donations.

My blood type wasn't necessary, so instead I was sent to the flight deck, and told to unload helo's. That was the first time I had a chance to ask "What the hell's going on", and was told the Marine barracks had been destroyed by some kind of bomb.

When the helo's started landing we were told where to go, two at a time, and grab a stretcher. Believe me, this was not what I'd expected when I joined the Navy.

I don't know how many stretchers I carried, I only specifically remember one, that's because it was a SEAL I'd had a few beers with a couple of days earlier in Sicily, while we waited for a flight. I do know that medical overflow on the Iwo Jima held about 100 people, and it was pretty full.

Later that evening I was asked if I wanted to go to "the beach" and help with the search. I couldn't do it. I'd seen more death, and maiming in the first 10 hours I was awake that day than I had in 18 previous years (or the 23 since), and the idea of going and looking for people in ruble just wasn't working. Instead, I spent the next two hours on the fantail of the ship, alternating between crying and puking.

For the next two nights I slept in a Marine berth, directly above the wounded jarheads, sailors, and soldiers, listening to their pain, wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.

On 25 October I finally got a flight off of Iwo to my actual duty station, USS New Jersey. I will say I took great satisfaction in the fact that on December 14th we fired our 16" guns on some positions ashore. I was even happier in February 1984, when we fired 288 rounds on my watch. We completely depleted the stores for turret one that night, and had to give the duties to #2.

241 were killed 10/23/1983, hundreds others injured, many families destroyed, I will never forget them, you shouldn't either.

For those of you who believe George Bush or any other American is to blame for the "War on Terror", get a clue, the war started much earlier. It started even before my first hand experience, in April of 1983 when the US Embassy was bombed in Beirut killing 63, including 17 Americans.

While you are holding your picnic today, swimming at the beach, or enjoying a family get together, remember those who helped secure the freedoms you are enjoying.

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Jim Doyle Business as Usual

In his usual fashion, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) vetoed some very interesting bills on Friday afternoon. Why Friday? Easy, the majority of the media isn't very alert to things like vetos on holiday weekends. They have more important things to cover, like how to properly BBQ your bratwurst.

The bills he vetoed were more examples of the left not understanding mainstream America (or Wisconsin in this case).

First, he vetoed a bill that would require (gasp!) proof of citizenship to receive state aid! The bill required not only to ask, but document the proof that a person used to show they were a citizen before getting welfare or state medical assistance. The veto will only play to the base of the party, as it's already known that anyone other than them supports the idea that state aid should go to those legally entitled to it.

Many are predicting this will make Wisconsin an illegal alien magnet, which has already started since certain counties have ordered employees to not even ask immigration status.

Secondly, he vetoed legislative oversight of off reservation gambling establishments. Jim got his "Diamond Jim" moniker in part because of his sweet heart deal with the states tribes, since he is the sole arbitor of gaming compacts. By vetoing legislative oversight, he's now basically put out the message to the tribes, and interests who want off reservation gaming that the highest bidder will get their way, since he's in charge alone on the matter.

This veto just shows, like William Jefferson that corruption and buying of favors isn't something limited to Republicans as Nancy Pelosi would like us all to believe.

H/T to Jessica McBride and Charlie Sykes, who predicted the immigrant veto on his Friday morning show.

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Wrong Guy?

Since I disappeared last week from the blogosphere due to whacky hotel wireless service and a few days at the family retreat, I didn't get a chance to write about the fact that Gen. Hayden was confirmed on a 78-15 vote as Director of the CIA.

So much for the bluster about "wrong guy at the wrong time", since 25 Democrats voted to confirm him. The only Republican to vote against, Arlen Specter (who should switch parties), claimed it was nothing against Hayden, but instead a vote against the way the administration has handled some of the NSA programs.

Trolling the blogosphere, it seems only the hard left end of the Democratic Party are in an uproar. The moderates have either ignored it, or didn't see the problem in the first place.

I'm sure the moonbats are discouraged by the lack of a battle royale over this nomination, and the Democrats failure to even attempt a filibuster. My guess is most of the members of their party have been looking at the 2-1 polls showing support of the NSA program, and wondering how a "no" vote would effect them come November.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Inappropriate Reading

Got this great joke from my brother....

A British company is developing computer chips that store music in women's breast implants.

This is a major breakthrough, since women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Then, a friend of mine sends me this great picture, which definitely depicts my family...

I won't get into who's who in the family, but let's say that even though there are only 4 of us, all five positions are filled at different times.

And, finally, a funny from a guy I used to work with.

We've all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you reallyknow the difference between the two? In an effort to keep you informed,the definition for each is listed below:

GUTS - is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask:"Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?"

BALLS - is coming home late after a night out with the guys, smelling ofperfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the ass and having the balls to say: "You're next."

I hope this clears up any confusion on the subject.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Appropriate Reading

I've been sitting this morning wondering what to write about. Since I've been in Minnesota I haven't read a newpaper, or watched more than a few minutes of the (local) evening news. Because of the internet connnection, I didn't even read my online papers for a few days.

So, I get back online, go to the Washington Post, and what's the first thing I read "America, Had for Song" by Eugene Robinson. No an op-ed about the selling out of the country to the convicted Enron folks, or Dennis Hastert whining about the FBI searching congressional offices. No, Eugene wrote about American Idol, and it's weird phenomenon.

It was appropriate reading, because with all the crap going on in the world, Washington, etc, that was really the only thing I made sure I watched this week.

If you've never watched Idol, check it out next season. The early episodes are a riot, watching folks who think they can sing audition. Later, when they get down to about a dozen, you'll find yourself hooked, and rooting for someone.

Robinson points out that the show, designed to find the next Britany Spears or someone similar has failed miserably at that job. Only Kelly Clarkson is really a "Pop Idol", the name of the British show America Idol was patterned after. Instead they've gotten two R&B singers, a country girl, and now the leader of the "Soul Patrol", who has more gray hair than me.

While I was happy to see Taylor Hicks win Wednesday night, he gives hopes to us slightly paunchy gray haired men, I was rooting for Katharine McPhee, because... well she's hot.

The whole point of today's article? Lighten up folk! I've spent the better part of the last year writing on politics, religion, abortion, immigration, etc. It's been really good to ignore all that crap for the better part of a week, and just worry about what's on the tube. It felt kind of good.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Still Breathing.

No folks, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, or keel over from the cheap Minnesota gas prices. Holiday Inn Express has been having problems with their internet service from GuestDSL since early Tuesday morning and just got it fixed today.

Since I've been averaging 10.5 hours a day of travel and work on this trip, by the time I get back at night, looking for a "wi-fi hotspot" that doesn't charge hasn't been on the top of the list the last few days. Instead it's been get dinner, hit the jacuzzi for a few, then do my expense reports and get some sleep.

Tonight will be real exciting, I've got an online class to finish before I go to bed, I was hoping to have it done by now. Thanks Guest DSL.
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Monday, May 22, 2006

I'll Fill Up In Minnesota

So, I drove about 450 miles today, from my home to a city 100 miles west, then to the Twin Cities. Filled up with gas in Davis Junction, Illinois and paid $2.87 a gallon. Drove through most of Wisconsin, and saw the prices about the same, between $2.79 and 2.91.

Then I cross the border into Minnesota, and get off the freeway to find my hotel, and the Super America station at the corner has regular unleaded for $2.58 a gallon.... Why a 30 cent difference?

Part of it is the gas tax in the states, the other is that Minnesota doesn't allow local gas taxes or charge sales tax on gas. Both of those are done in both Wisconsin and Illinois. In fact, Illinois' state gas tax is actually lower than Minnesota's.

Wisconsin also hurts it's consumers with a law that requires a 3% wholesale and 6% retail markup on gasoline, another law Minnesota doesn't have.

So, even though I can fill my car up with a company fleet card, and not worry about the cost, I'll save them a few bucks on Friday when I get ready to head home, and fill up in Minnesota. Why pay an extra 40 cents a gallon when I don't have to?

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9 Months of Memory

Evidently the folks in New Orleans have less than 9 months of memory. That's the only way I see that Ray Nagins was re-elected as the Mayor for another term.

Evidently his opponent failed to remind folks of a few things, like these buses.

Don't worry though, Mayor Nagins is promising to finish rebuilding the city. Hopefully he'll also remember to read the evacuation plan this term, as hurricane season starts June 1st.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Weird Schedule Leads To Limited Blogging

Hey all. I'm out of town today for work, then for the weekend for family. New posts will probably show up Sunday evening and Monday morning. Then next week I'm in Minnesota for work, so possible limited blogging then also. Though Holiday Inn does offer free internet access.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Speaking of Corruption

While the House Ethics Committee is starting it's work on 3 cases, finally (Ney, Jefferson, Cunningham), there are other ethics scandals perculating to the top in other areas.

For instance, here in Illinois, our Governor, Rod Blagojevich, who was going to "kill business as usual" in Springfield when he was elected four years ago has been found to be keeping a list of applicants for state jobs, along with who their sponsors were. He claims this is only because of the volume of applicants that come straight to the governors office. However, that alone raises a question, why are resumes going to the Governor, and not through the State's hiring agency? And, if the sponsor isn't important, why keep a list of them?

Also here in Illinois, Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley, has his "patronage chief" on trial for steering city jobs to those who donated. Yesterday one of his workers testified that city workers were going door to door in competitive wards during the 1999 and 2000 election seasons, to campaign for Democrats, including Rahm Emmanuel, Al Gore, and local politicians.

Other folks in the Daley Administration have already testified that until they found out about the federal probe into hiring practices the city used a patronage list to hire certain employees, and only stopped when it was apparent they were caught.

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Why Are They Writing This?

I'm reading the paper this morning, and come across an op/ed piece by John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, called "No Rush To Impeachment" and wondering why I'm reading it in the paper.

Then it hits me, at least a few of the ultra-liberals in the party; Pelosi last week and now Conyers; are starting to realize that the impeachment platform isn't going to win new voters to the party. Anti-Incumbancy and dissatisfaction against both parties is at an all time high, so sounding a moderate tone to attract new voters is important.

So, in an effort to sound moderate on the topic, the party is now telling us that they just want hearings, and see where they go.

Conyers makes an interesting statement about that, on the topic of WMD in Iraq:
For example, to know whether intelligence was mistaken or manipulated in the run-up to the Iraq war, we need to know what information was made available to -- and actually read by -- decision makers and how views contradicting the case for war were treated.
This question was already answered, on a unanimous vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They conducted an extensive hearing on the issue already, and found that while the intelligence was flawed, it wasn't cooked.

As they have pointed out, Italy, France and Germany, two of whom haven't participated in Iraq, all still stand by their intelligence about Saddams WMD program.

I find these sudden changes of heart, and constant reminders that 'we won't rush to impeachment' to be more of a wink and a nod to the far left who's crying for it, a kind of 'don't worry, we won't rush, but we'll get there' statement.

I'd have actually liked to have read an in depth op/ed on what Mr. Conyers, and the rest of the Democrats would do if they regained the majority in the House, instead of more of what they aren't going to do.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Making Sense on Immigration

Robert Samuelson has an outstanding piece in today's Washington Post on making some sense of the immigration debate. He slaps the Media, Democrats and Republicans for the obvious problem with the whole debate, we don't want to offend anyone, so we are going about trying to fix immigration in a half assed, polite way.

Maybe the Senate got an advance copy of his op/ed piece, since last night they decided on 200,000 instead of 325,000 guest workers per year. Of course, they still have to reconcile what they've written with what the House has passed. Good luck.

Samuelson's point, that we don't need more under educated, low wage, low potential workers is the one most often ignored in the debate. Much like the issue of using the National Guard on the border, it seems that folks in the media and congress don't want to offend Mexico and other Central American suppliers of those workers. So we muddle and muddy the debate, making it seem like an engineer with a degree is the same as a lettuce picker who can't add 2+2.

The truth is, as he points out, they aren't the same. The less educated, are more likely to be a drag on social services, education instutitutions, and the economy in general than the educated. Yet we lump them together because we want all immigrants to be the same.

I posted a month or so ago about the H-1B visa program, which makes up for shortfalls in our own education system by allowing highly educated workers into the country. That program runs out of slots within 2-3 months of opening each year, yet it's not being addressed in the current debate.

If you get a chance, read Samuelson's column today, it's a dose of common sense in the debate.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why Not Militarize the Border

Last nights speech by the President he mentioned using National Guard troops on the border with Mexico, at least as a stopgap, until the Border Patrol trains enough new agents to take over the work they will be doing.

This has raised some concerns among Democrats and immigration activists about the "militarization" of the border.

I guess the real question is, what's the problem with that idea? Why is it wrong to use our military to keep unwanted, uninvited "guests" out of the country? One of the major purposes of the military is to secure the country from foriegn intruders. If illegal immgrants don't qualify for that title, then who does?

They already run guns across the border, along with drugs, and humans for that matter. Why not use a force designed to repel invaders to, well, repel invaders? Why not used people who are trained to find people hiding and sneaking around in the brush to find people doing just that?

So folks, especially those against the idea, what is the problem, and why shouldn't we use the military to help guard the border?

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I thought I'd post some links highlighting the reaction to the Lame Duck In Chief's speech on illegal immigration last night.

Truth be told, I didn't watch it. I'd just checked into a hotel, and decided to get some dinner and relax after 14 hours of traveling. Besides, there have been so many leaks about the content of the speech that it wasn't necessary to watch, we already knew what was going to be in it.

The Washington Post in the news section thinks he's looking for middle ground, while the "analysis" article thinks Bush's weakness in his own party, and the fact that the are mixed poll messages make it difficut for him to come up with a reasonable plan most Republicans will support.

That part is actually wrong, the core of the GOP would support the House Bill that makes being illegal have a capital "I", by turning into a felony. However, it won't do much for growing the Hispanic vote in the party.

I understand the pragmatic politics of his dilema, the GOP alienated the former largest minority in the country, blacks, decades ago, and can now only muster 8% of their vote in a good year. Bush is trying hard not to do the same with the Hispanic vote.

In the blogosphere Bos'un wasn't very impressed with the speech, correctly pointing out that it held "something for everyone". He also points out the issues many of the border state's governors have with the plan, and their lack of involvement in developing it.

Indian Chris thinks it's a decent plan, and didn't disagree with much of it. He has a question for if you wish to go answer it.

Patrick, the Born Again Redneck, points out that politics is the art of compromise, and that "a perfect plan" probably doesn't exist, but thinks that Bush is heading in the right direction with his proposal.

The Lone Pony was pretty happy with the speech, and found some hispanic blogger reaction to it. Interesting, they point out that drug runners and human traffickers probably won't like the program.

Carry On America thinks, like Rep. Patrick McHenry, that the plan is one step forward (security), and one back (guest workers).

The Gun Toting Liberal isn't exactly jumping for joy at the speech, and in fact may be the guy pointing out the ironic truth; when the far left blogosphere, and Michelle Malkin agree on something, it has to stink.

Go out, find the speech on line, and make up your own mind, but now you know where to look for some other opinions.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday Posting

I'll be back later tonight. Have to fly to Pittsburgh and pick up my company truck this morning.

Go read some other blogs until I get back.

Check out the Varga's Girls at Knockin' On The Golden Door for a place to start.

And Ruth is back, go say "Hi".

Talk to you later.
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Sunday, May 14, 2006


If those on the left wonder about the motives of the "liberal leaders" of the Democratic party, go no further than this report at JudicialWatch.Org.

James Taranto, at Opinion Journal's "Best of the Web" points out Bill Clinton's first act in office, to push RU-486.

If that were all there was to the report, it probably wouldn't bother me, but when you read the language you'll understand (hopefully) the cynicism some of us feel when the left say's what they are doing is because they understand us better.
There have been 30 million abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade. Think of all the poverty, crime and misery...and then add 30 million unwanted babies to the scenario. We lost a lot of ground during the Reagan-Bush religious orgy. We don't have a lot of time left. . . .

The biblical exhortation to "be fruitful and multiply" was directed toward a small tribe, surrounded by enemies. We are long past that. Our survival depends upon our developing a population where everyone contributes. We don't need more cannon fodder. We don't need more parishioners. We don't need more cheap labor. We don't need more poor babies.
Remember, this is a letter to Bill Clinton, which helped spur him to his first official act in office.

It's that "concern for the poor" that should have folks wondering. The truth is, while the left panders the vote of the poor, and claims they are in their corner, this disgusting report, and the sentiment behind it should show the disdain the "intellectual elite" actually feel for the folks they claim to be for.

Robosquirrel has a much longer, and more eloquent take on this. Thanks for the link to the article!

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Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day to, in order, My Lovely Wife, My Mother, Mother-in-Law, and all the ladies on my blog roll and readers who are mothers.

So, if you need to read some wisdom from mothers today, here are a few of the places you can find some.

Paula at Ultrablog
Becky at Lone Pony
PJ at UberConservative
Little Miss Chatterbox at The Chatterbox Chronicles
Carla at Some Soldiers Mom who lets us know what she wants for mothers day.
Stacy at Keep My Soldier Safe
One Line Mom at Online Mom's Musings

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Who Decides Relevant?

As I was out doing my running this morning, I happened to catch Jeff Wagner's radio show, and a discussion on a string of 16 muggings in Madison, Wisconsin over the last few weeks.

Evidently young men, walking alone in downtown Madison, very early in the morning have been getting mugged by a group of 3 men.

The police have found that the descriptions given by the victims, and the MO of the suspects in most of the cases are similar enough they believe the same group is responsible for most, if not all, of the muggings.

There is an APB out for the group, police have increased patrols, and told the media about the problem, in hopes they'd raise public awareness of the muggings, and help provide some leads. There have been newspaper, TV and radio stories about the problem.

However, there has been a knowing, admitted omission by the Madison media. They refuse to publish a description of the three young men that includes race. Channel 3, WISC-TV have an online editorial explaining their position on this, that basically, race isn't part of the story.

Read the post they've put up yourself, and see what you think of the explanation. I know my opinion, they are nuts, and the reason they are giving is crap.

Listen, if three white skinheads were beating folks, you can bet that race would be mentioned on the news, and in the articles. If you are warning folks to be "on the lookout" for perpetrators, wouldn't a full description be useful?

While they try and spin the issue as one of nonrelevance, the fact is, it's one of political correctness. Were the three guys in custody they might have a point, but since they are on the loose, and still mugging folks, what they look like, skin color and all, is necessary info for the public.

So, if you live, or are planning on visiting Madison, Wisconsin make sure if you are out late drinking, be safe, and be on the lookout for three young African-American males of medium build, between the ages of 18-24. Just don't watch the news for any type of description of the perpetrators.

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Spin Like a Top

You'll see, over the next week, many breathless reports, long articles, and long winded op/ed pieces on the latest revalations in the NSA terrorist surveillence program.

Why? Because to a certain group of folks, we aren't upset enough. In fact, with 63% of those surveyed saying they have no problem with the NSA gathering raw phone numbers, the spin masters are having to work overtime.

66% had no problem with the idea of the government having their phone number in those records, and 65% still think that the government should be more concerned with investigating leads than than protecgting privacy, if both were weighed equally.

Newsweeks new headline "Breaking the Law" is an interview with the Electronic Freedom Foundation tries to explain to you why you shoud be upset, since obviously you aren't by those poll results.

One of the odd things about the article is it revealed how old the news of the records datamining is. The EFF sued over the database in January, yet we are just hearing about it in force this week.

On the opposite side of the fence from yesterday's Eugene Robinson Op/Ed, the Washington Post has an editorial written by Richard A. Falkenrath, "The Right Call on Phone Records", which explains why the program is legal, and why you should support it.

If, as he and the phone companies claim, the records were anonymized before being given to the NSA, he's probably got a point about the legality of the issue. (According to WaPo he has no personal knowledge of the program).

Like I said, the spin, from both sides, will continue to come fast and furious. Read lots on the issue, from both sides, before you decide to get breathless either way on the issue.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Obsfucation and The NSA

As I'm reading my morning paper, and hearing the high pitched whine from DC and elsewhere on the latest info on the NSA surveillence program, I can't help but think we need a quick perspective check.

For instance, did you know if you work in a Daycare, school, nursing home, or other "care facility" that requires a criminal background check that every day, possibly a dozen times, you are compared to felons by the federal government?

Did you know that if you've ever been arrested, even if you weren't convicted, every day you are checked against a list of criminals to see if you are one?

If you've ever been in the military, law enforcement, or held a government or contract job that required a clearance you are checked regularly against wanted criminals.

If you were in the military after about 1994 your DNA is checked, usually multiple times daily, by the federal crime labs against rape and other crime suspects.

Eugene Robinson and Dick Durbin aren't going to mention these things to you, as they bloviate on the op/ed pages and in front of TV cameras, because if they did, the idea that phone records are checked for matches on numbers of known terrorist operators suddenly becomes less dramatic.

The truth is, large numbers of us, with no involvement in any crimes are checked, often dozens of times a day in different ways against criminals or suspected criminals. It's been that way for years. Every person who's ever been fingerprinted for a background check at a job is in a huge federal database already. If you've given a DNA sample to the military, you are there.

That's why the NSA datamining operation doesn't bother me; because we've been doing it for years to find other criminals, even with phone records. They are pulled regularly to see who suspects in criminal investigations have been calling. It's not like it's something new.

Riehl World View has a great article up about how this program could have helped prevent the 9/11 tragedy.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Little Bro!

It's my little brother's birthday. Unfortunately, he hasn't hit 40 year, but it's coming up on him fairly quickly.

Drop by his blog and drop him a note saying "Happy Birthday, SAB!"

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Trouble In Paradise

Funny, I wrote about this same issue a few months back, and once again DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Rep. Rahm Emanuel's fighting has made it to the front pages of major daily papers. This time it's front page news because Emanuel, in his best angry sailor imitation,"stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session".(from the Washington Post)

It's still the same fight, too, like a married couple who can't decide on an okay vacation now, or a great one in the future, it's money. Dean is still spending on organization everywhere, even thought it's an election year with some pretty well defined seats up for grabs.

Emanuel, and Chuck Schumer, would like to see Dean saving cash for the fall to use in those battles. Sort of the "decent vacation now" thought. Dean, looking long term has been spending to build the party base back up in states the GOP holds strongly, hopefully to be more competitive in them on a national level, a more 2008 strategy. Deans idea of a vacation includes rose gardens and south lawns. Rahms seems to involve elevated seats and chairmanships.

The biggest problem for them is they are both right, and both wrong on the issue of how to spend money. I know, that sounds pretty strange, but it's true.

Emanuel is right, the DNC does need to save some money for the fall, when cash influxes in a few key races could mean control of the House come January 2007. However, he's wrong to think Dean shouldn't be trying to organize in traditional GOP stronghold states.

2008 does matter, also, and if they need to show up and campaign, and spend some money in those states this year. Otherwise, come 2008 they look like "Johnny come lately", as they have in the past. Kind of like the brother in law you hear from every couple of years, when he needs a loan.

Will screaming hissy fits from either Emanuel or Dean help them in November, or in 2008? Probably not, some adult leadership, and a clearer understanding of each others goals, and some compromise is probably a better idea.

Emanuel has probably done himself one big favor in this battle with Dean; he's now positioned to take over the DNC or pick it's new leader; and return it to a more Clinton era style of leadership if the Democrats don't perform well this November.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Steel Toed Sneakers

Yeah, you read headline right. I had to go shopping for some steel toed shoes last night, some customer sites require them. While I'm running through Rogan Shoes in Kenosha, Wi. I see dozens of styles of steel toed sneakers and cowboy boots. BTW, if you live in this area, and need shoes, they are THE place. I've gotten $100 dollar golf shoes for $35, and my steel toes (MSRP $149) for $68.

Maybe I'm just a rube from the country, but when the hell did Sketchers and Caterpillar start making sneakers with steel toes? And where are they appropriate footwear? I would have loved to gotten some, but have to look semi-professional in most of the places the company sends me to work.

Can the UAW guys who read this wear those at work?
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Late Blogging Today

The whole job thing is getting in the way of blogging today. Can you imagine, they want me to go to a job site instead of sitting around in my robe typing my drivel. Oh the sacrifices we make for a paycheck.

I'll be back later.
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Reminder for Barry

Hey Mr. Bonds, lots of folks are getting all kinds of excited about you getting past 714 home runs and surpassing Babe Ruth on the all time list. Considering you are playing the Cubs for the next three games you should have a chance.

I'd just like you to keep that old Nike phrase in mind "Second Place Is First Loser", until you get past Hank Aaron you are still in 2nd place on the list. You've broken NO record for home runs, just passed a mark.

And, hopefully, your 'roid enhanced body will give out on you before you do get near Aaron. It would be a shame to have to see baseball use an asterisk for that record, they already need one for your single season mark.

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Stupid 9/11 Conspiracies

The Conservative UAW Guy has a great video linked over at his place. It's Penn and Teller's take on the BS 9/11 theories out there.

I thought it was something worth sharing, and evidently The Educated Shoprat also did, good the more people who see it the better. So click on Penn and Teller up there, and watch the video!

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Getting Lynched, And Learning

I've given Richard Cohen from the Post a tremendous amount of crap over the 10 months since I started writing this blog. Well, today (mark it on your calendar kids) I agree completely with his column "Digital Lynch Mob". My friends on the left definitely need to read it, it contains a warning that you shouldn't miss.

The point Cohen is making is one that I've written about here a number of times, the anger of the far left. We've all seen bloggers on the right (like me) use quotes from Daily Kos, etc, to show how whacked out the 'netroots' are.

His experience came from saying that Steve Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner wasn't funny. That apparently was enough to get him almost 3500 (mostly angry) e-mails from the left.

Truth to tell, I peeked into only a few of the e-mails. I did this because I would sometimes recognize a name I thought I knew, which was almost always a mistake. When I guilelessly clicked on the name, I would get a bucket of raw, untreated and disease-laden verbal sewage right in the face.
Cohen, who's got me by a few years, remembers this from an era I'm not old enough to, and so knows the consequences of one side of a party turning this ugly. He refers to them as the 'Digital Lynch Mob', the group riled up on sites like Kos and Atrios, who all fire up their copy of Outlook at the same time and fire off an e-mail.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.
This same type of behavior by some on the far right helped turn off enough centrist Republicans to help get Clinton re-elected in 1996, either by writing in candidates like I did, or voting for Ross Perot.

I'm not sure if Cohen realizes it or not, but he may actually be helping bring about that downfall of the centrist Democrats. With only a few exceptions, most of the ugliness of the fringe left has been hidden pretty well. Sure, when Steve at "The News Blog" did his cartoon of Michael Steele they got some attention on a wide scale, but other than that not much has been paid to them.

Speaking of Steve, he's written "L'affaire Colbert", and if you go read the comments on it, you'll see EXACTLY what Cohen is writing about. It's almost hilarious, the way the readers prove Richard's point for him.

The point Cohen doesn't make in all this, is that anger could actually be chanelled, and help the Democrats. To do that, though the folks on the far left would have to get over their Bush Derangement Syndrome, and actually start talking ideas, instead of slinging insults and colorful adjectives at every chance.

No one other than the 'Angry Left' gives a damn if Nancy Pelosi wants to hold hearings on Bush, they want to know how Nancy & Co. plan to save Medicare and Social Security.

All one has to do is read the blogs that are writing about this column to see that ideas aren't likely to surface, only more bile. Like The News Blog, they've pretty well proven Cohen's point for him.

They can't see that it wasn't the fact that they criticized his column that has Cohen worried about the future of the Democrats, it's the manner they are doing it. When your base is outnumbered 3-2, screaming and and shouting down anyone not in lockstep with you isn't going to attract a lot of new folks to the cause.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Neither Side Gets It

Reading John Fund's "The Enemy Within; Democrats may not be able to win the House, but Republicans could lose it." and the Washington Post's "Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda" brought out one thought in my mind; neither side gets it.

The Republican's in Congress are still obsessing with Tom DeLay's tactic of buying every vote by approving every earmark; even though when asked what's the biggest problem in Congress, 39% say earmarks. Don't get the idea Democrats are immune from the earmarks, the way they get passed is one party ads one, and the other says "fine, we'll okay that if you okay this."

Robert Byrd (D-WVa), who is the king of pork, has even gone so far as to dare the President to veto the bacon laden Iraq/Katrina spending bill, which has grown by 20% due to earmarks. I've driven the 8 lane interstate in West Virginia that is the epitomy of pork; nice road, but about twice as big as it needs to be for the traffic.

Where the Democrats still don't get it is the idea that anyone but their base is going to be energized by the idea of endless Congressional investigations that Nancy Pelosi told the Washington Post would start if her party took control of the House.

While she brought up a return to the Pay-Go policy of offsetting tax cuts with equal spending cuts, which many desire it isn't enough to draw enough new voters to the Democrats to win the election. Ethics reform, another area she touched on isn't the answer either; William Jefferson (D-La) and Joseph Cari, former DNC finance chief will be rolled out by the GOP as indicators of corruption in the other party. Besides, nobody in any poll has shown confidence in either party to end corruption. Most see any "ethics reform package" in Congress as lipstick for a pig.

Where does that leave us? With Congressional approval ratings of 33% for Democrats, and 35% for Republicans, unless someone on one side of the aisle comes up with some actual "silver bullet" bill, my guess is a historically low mid-term turn out, with little change.

The base for both parties will turn out to protect their turf, and rest of America will yawn, and ignore the election. We'll end up with at most half a dozen seats switching sides, and business as usual come January 2007.

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How To Drive A Geek Nuts

Okay, it's not fair. I start the new job today, which includes lots of nice perks; company car, credit card, company provided tools, good hotels, all the stuff you could want.

Included in the package is a very nice, brand new $2000 laptop which arrived on Friday. It would be great but for one thing. The company pre-configured it, set up all the accounts, and didn't include a password to log in.

So, if you want to drive a geek nuts, send them a P4M laptop, with DVD-R/RW, 2 gigs of RAM, 120 meg hard drive, and other bells and whistles.... Then lock it up so the can't play with it!


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

I'm Alive

Hey, sorry for the lack of posts. Decided to get out of town for the weekend, visit our vacation place in the woods, and get some R&R after the move and drive.

So, after a long weekend in the woods, I'm ready to start the new job tomorrow, the first day of which consists of mostly paperwork. Hopefully the rest of the week won't be as boring.

So, hopefully I'll be back to my ranting self tomorrow or Tuesday.
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Friday, May 05, 2006

Manipulating Markets

The Washington Post editorial board has an interesting way to reduce oil consumption in the US, tax our way away from it.

That's what they are advocating in "An Opportunity on Oil". Instead of the tried, and failed "gas guzzler tax", which didn't stop people from buying Hummers and Expeditions, they are now advocating a sliding tax on oil anytime the price gets too low.

They aren't the first to advocate this, environmentalists have liked the idea for years, and I can't say the logic is totally bad. When oil and consequently gas, are cheap, we tend to shy away from conservation. When prices get high enough to be painful, we start looking at smaller cars, carpools and mass transit more seriously. So, by manipulating the market, to force the price of oil to stay painfully high to the consumer, logic has it we'd continue to shy away from gas guzzlers and single purpose trips in the car.

How high would that price have to go? According to Mark Zandi at Moody's, it would have to hit $4 per gallon to get people to make major changes in their driving habits. In an article in the Chicago Tribune he derides Congress for their feel good legislation on price gouging, and lack of action on increasing production at home and refining capacity here in the US.

So, if $70 per barrel oil, and $3.00 per gallon gas aren't making the change, using the Post's plan, we'd need to toss about a $25 per barrel of oil tax on top of the current $70 price to hit the magic $4.oo per gallon "pain point".

There is a problem with "sin taxes" like the one the Post proposes, though. They generally don't work, people adapt to them. The rate of smoking in New York and Chicago, with huge cigarette taxes to discourage it isn't dropping any faster than other areas with lower taxes. Alcohol consumption changes haven't occurred in the states that have jacked up that sin tax.

The likely bigger effect of such at tax on oil would be inflation, plain and simple, at least early on. That means people would look for adjustments elsewhere to make up for it. Collective bargaining units would figure the cost into wage negotiations, meaning that the $4 pain point would move up. Remember, 10 years ago the "pain point" was considered $2 per gallon, and we investigated oil companies when gas hit $1.50 per gallon.

The second major problem with the tax the Post proposes is it's sliding scale. While it's low it's not a problem, but if oil were to drop back to a 2000 price level, the huge tax influx would be a windfall to Congress. The problem with Congress is when you give them money, they spend it, and then some. Giving them a windfall, then having it go away in a year or two when prices go up would end up encouraging them to engage in dangerous spending, not that they need much encouragement.

The Post rightfully points out that the free market has had a bigger effect on our use of oil than Congressional or Presidential action, so why try and manipulate it to speed the action? Instead, allow the market to continue working. Sales of SUV's and light trucks are dropping right now based on the price of oil, so instead of playing with the system, let it continue to work.

If Congress does feel the need to start tweaking taxes to influence consumers, here's a couple of ideas. Expand the gas guzzler tax to light trucks that aren't bought for business purposes.
Instead of having tax credits for any hybrid, remove it from the one's that get below the average EPA milage for cars. Expand the tax credit that's on hybrids to any vehicle that gets more than 50% better mileage than the CAFE standard, even if it's strictly gas powered.

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Speaking of Price Gouging

Charlie Sykes of WTMJ radio has the list of Wisconsin Senators who voted against removing the state's required gas mark up of 9.1% (~25 cents per gallon).

The law, designed in the 1930's to curb predatory practices by oil companies has become an antique, who's only purpose is now to force consumers to pay more at the pump. With the FTC and states enforcing anti-dumping laws there is no need to force consumers to pay more for gas than necessary.

A much simpler law, that would allow station operators to determine their price would be to change the law to not allow selling below cost. If a station operator decided to sell gas at cost, or a minimum mark up, and try and make up the loss through convenience items, so be it. The consumer would be the winner.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's Rupert Murdoch's Fault!

For all the liberals looking for someone to blame for George Bush being President, look no further than News Corp, and Rupert Murdoch. Why? Well according to two economists the rise of Fox News in the late 1990's increased the likelihood of 3-8% of voters to vote Republican.

Not so surprisingly, another study found that people are biased about their news sources, with liberals preferring NPR and conservatives Fox News. The funny thing was that it didn't matter who originated the story, it was who's logo was on it that caused folks to decide what they liked.

When you put the two together it, to me, shows that there probably was a lack of balance in news before Fox News came along. I'm not saying Fox is "fair and balanced" as they claim, they aren't, they do list to the right. Which is of course no different than NPR and CNN, as evidenced by the liberal preference for news.

One of the reasons I read a bunch of different papers, and watch both CNN and Fox (along with MSNBC, occasionally) is to get a full picture before I make up my mind on an issue.

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Wisdom of Squirrels

So, I had been preparing a lengthy post on the evils of European style liberalism, when I decided it was too deep for my mind to work on this week. Guess I'm still recovering from moving, getting psyched for the new job, etc. Instead, I'll give out some linky love this morning, because it's a hell of a lot easier :)

First off, Robosquirrel pointed me to a great read, Pat Sajak's blog. Yes, the Wheel of Fortune host has a blog, and his April, The Most Taxing Month article is a must read.

My little bro' has a new post up explaining why he's taken so long to get one up, plus some "interesting" reactions to Dateline NBC's sexual predator series, and a need for a new 12 step program. Give him a read, and drop a comment. Maybe if someone other than me say's "HI" he'll post more often, he's funny as hell. In fact, I have a picture of a 400lb german tourist in Hawaii wearing only a banana hammock. If you don't comment on my little brothers blog I'll be forced to post it here!

Large Bill has the Ohio election results up, and some insight into what a Blackwell victory in November could mean.

Mark, based on readers votes, is now obsessing over Betty Page.... I can't blame him. He's got some great eye candy shots up. Give it a look.

Griz at God Bless America has some wonderful military wisdom posted. Though I didn't see the explaination for the acronym NAVY.... Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

Dan Riehl has a great take on the Moussaoui verdict, the nutcake himself, and America.

That's it for this morning. Hope you enjoy the reading as much as I did.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Uh-Oh, Guess Who's the Virgin Now

Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison today, and of course sounded off telling us "America, you lost. I won!" I actually disagree with him, I think we won on this case. You see, Mr. Moussaui, had we zapped you, or gassed you, or given you the needle or noose, it would have been instant martyrdom for you. Off you'd go to heaven to try and collect your 72 virgins. Instead, you now get to spend the next 50 or so years in a federal prison. My guess is you won't remain a virgin long. In fact, 72 non virgins may just want to play some roll reversal on you.

Just a thought.

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Backlash Buried on Page A10

Did anyone notice the amount of front page coverage Monday's immigrant rallies received in just about every paper in the country. I saw front pages from 3 states Monday, and 3 more Tuesday, that all had coverage of the rallies, and discussed the plight of the "poor illegal immigrants" in the US.

Then this morning, buried on A10 in the WashingtonPost, is the story of the growing backlash. I don't believe it a coincidence that it's buried on page 10, and not on page one. While lawmakers, and the media elite, want us to concentrate on the immigrants, no one wants to pay attention to the citizens who think the debate on Capital Hill is focusing on the wrong things.

The news doesn't cover counter protesters on this issue unless they are either violent, or extremely racist sounding folks. They don't want "Joe Average", who also has an opinion to be covered. Instead, they'd like you to equate yourself to the bigot if you want tougher immigration law.

Keep sending the bricks to congress (cost $11) to let them know people want a fence. Keep contacting them (most have a website with contact info), and let your Senator and Congressperson know that you'd like tougher laws, tougher enforcement of existing laws, and a secure border.

Ted Kennedy is the biggest pusher of the amnesty idea, if you disagree with him, go to his contact page, and let him know. Until he, and others pushing amnesty start getting tons of e-mail, faxes, and voice mail about the subject they won't get the hint.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Home Again

Hey Folks, just wanted to let everyone know that we arrived safely at the homestead in Zion this evening. Truck is unloaded, dinner has been eaten. Now, after a 18 hour day of packing, cleaning and driving, and a follow up of 12 hours of driving and unpacking, we're going to bed.

See y'all tomorrow.
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