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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Now That's An Editorial!!!

I just finished reading an editorial in the Chicago Tribune called "Will Another Adult Fail the Children?", dealing with the soon to be sworn in Cook County Board Chair Ms. Bobbie Steele and how she should handle the mess that is the county's Juvenile Detention Facility.

Every major newspaper editor in the country should be required by the publisher to read this, to understand how newspapers should deal with incompetent public figures.

Here's a sample.....
Topping that roster is Maria Szafarczyk, the chronically absent,
pathetically useless and utterly inexperienced training director who in effect
was installed last November by her brother, Commissioner Joseph Mario

While there were many ways they could have described Ms. Szafarczyk's work habits, they chose to pull no punches and take a round house punch at her. The truth is, they were kinder to her than they were to the director of the Cook County Juvenile Detention Facility, Jerry Robinson.

Read the editorial, both to find out what a mess the CCJDF is, and what a real "scathing" editorial looks like.

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Courtesy of Ted

Ted, who comments regularly and is a great guy in real life sent me the following joke. While humor isn't normally the thing on my blog, this was too good to pass up.

Robot Bar Keep

A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender working behind the counter.

The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail,and then asks him, "What's your IQ, sir?"The man replies, "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nanotechnology, and the inaccuracies in The DaVinci Code.

The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool. I wonder if it works every time?" He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink.

Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man responds, "About a 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time, about football, NASCAR, baseball, supermodels, favorite fast foods, guns, and women's body parts.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decidesto give the robot one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks, "What's yourIQ?"

The man replies, "Er, about 50, I think."

And the robot says....real slow,"So. is... your... party... gonna... nominate...Hillary... for.. president ???

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

How Should We Hold Elections?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an interesting editorial today on the idea of either a Constitutional Amendment to remove the electoral college, or various other schemes for trying to get a national popular vote for President.

One group trying to achieve such a goal is called "National Popular Vote", but instead of trying to get the Electoral College disbanded by the Constitutional way, they're looking at an end run through the states.

Their goal is to get enough states to pass legislation (states equalling 270 electoral votes) that the popular vote would have to elect the president. The way it works is the states pass a law that says all electoral votes from the state go to the person with the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of how the state voted.

The Journal brings up a good question though, what if you state votes for the loser in the election? For instance, if this group had gotten their way in 2004, California and New York, would have had to give their electoral votes to George Bush, even though Kerry won both.

If people think the court fights after 2000 were bad, imagine the number of lawsuits about "equal protection" of voting rights will pop up if a state votes 75% for the losing candidate, and the state gives it's electoral votes to the winner. It could end up being months before it was sorted out, and an actual result would be determined.

While folks complain of the electoral college's disproportionate represenation for smaller states, elections without the college would give all attention to probably 10-12 large states, and ignore the smaller ones. That reason alone will keep the constitution from ever being amended to remove the college. There are enough small states to keep it from ever getting out of Congress with the two thirds majority required. Even if by some small chance it did, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and other small states would balk at the loss of any ability to influence elections.

A better way of doing this is what Colorado tried to get passed in 2004. A proportional division of the states electoral votes based on the popular vote. Right now only a few states have such a rule, 48 give the winner in the state all of their electoral votes. The problem is that some states that vote either for the GOP or Democrats regularly will balk. Again, the California Scenario, where they'd have to give up a bunch of electoral votes to right's candidate, or Texas giving some to the left. I don't see either state's legislature jumping on this idea anytime soon.

That being said, I think we should just keep what we've got. Yes, it's a flawed system, that doesn't deal well with close elections like 2000 (Contrary to the Journal's Editorial belief, 2004 wasn't that close). However, getting a true popular vote won't happen anytime soon, and groups like National Popular Vote have come up with oddballs solutions that probably won't stand up in court.

Oddly, I used to be for abolishing the Electoral College, and going to a straight popular vote. Then I realized that we'd end up with "coastal elections", with the west coast and eastern seabord deciding who's elected, and everyone in the middle left to live with what they got. Having lived on both coasts, I think it's good candidates spend a lot of time in the "flyover states", as the intellectual elite call everything between New York and California.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

So THAT's The Strategy....

It's refreshing to read something in a major US daily explaining the Democrats new foreign policy stance in a way most folks can understand.

And, before the liberals who read the article I'm going to link to get their panties all bunched up, the author is an editor at large of New Republic, not exactly a conservative bastion. He also wrote the book "The Good Fight: Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again."

Peter Beinart has great liberal credentials, and still uses his monthly Washington Post column to blast the new strategy of the Democratic party when it comes to the mid-east. Instead of "cut and run", Beinart calls it "Pander and Run". It has, according to him, become the standard operating procedure for the party. What ever the issue, if they can find a way to pander to a voter segment, and at the same time make it look uncomfortable for Bush, that's what they'll do.

Beinart has a couple of good examples, such as the suggestion by the Iraqi PM that an amnesty program of some sort is going to be necessary to quell the insurgency. Political reality in Iraq probably demands such a program, regardless of how distasteful it is to Americans, and many Iraqis, who's lost loved ones to the cowards.

That didn't stop folks like Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid for trying to make it an issue. In fact, some are trying to use it as a election issue.

Beinart's other great example was the Iraqi PM's address to congress. Many democrats demanded he not be allowed to speak unless he denounced Hezbollah and acknowledged Israel's right to exist. While that is a wonderful thought, Jordan is the only country in the region to do so. Political reality in America demands you support Israel, or face a very hostile election. In Iraq the political reality is that supporting Israel vocally would lead to a very hostile election.

In the international community the PM would be seen as a Bush stooge (and held up as such by Boxer, Reid and Pelosi) if he did take such a stance. That's not exactly the way to build yourself as a "freely elected leader".

But what is the bigger picture that Beinart's article reveals? In my (never so) humble opinion, it's the start of the center of the Democratic party trying to reassert itself in a bigger way. Folks like Kos, and most of the whacko left, will of course be trying to have Beinart strung up for his blasphemous statements.

The truth is, though, the folks they have to attract as voters to win elections have already wondered if this wasn't the party's stategy. By voicing that opinion, I believe Beinart, and the center left folks in the party, are trying to start a dialogue of something other than "What ever Bush hates we like"; a strategy that's never won an election.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

According To Jim.

Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has a great spin on the announcement yesterday of an expanded investigation into the Adelman Travel contract that has already garnered one conviction.

It's a political thing, that's Jim's spin on it. Nevermind that the state's Attorney General, who is also a Democrat, has expanded her investigation, or that the US Attorney started his last year before there were any candidates lined up to oppose Doyle. According to Jim it's all politically motivated.

I guess everyone in America's Dairyland should ignore the fact that that both Doyle, and his top aide Marc Marotta met with the Adelman folks directly, and took campaign donations before and after they got the contract.

The announcement yesterday also stated that a contract for a new building for UW Milwaukee was intervened on by Marotta, after another check to the reelection fund of the governor was delivered. While Mr. Doyle might be right, the Kenilworth project is a good thing for Milwaukee, rigging the bidding so his donors get the contract isn't exactly the way business should be done. That tactic isn't good for anyone, regardless of the end result.

As the months go on and it gets closer to the general election, it will be interesting to see if Steve Bisupik, the US Attorney, or the state AG file any charges against Doyle, his campaign and political staffs, or the companies that have gotten several state contracts. What will be more interesting is Jim's spin on it when it does happen.

(updated 7/28) For a better list of exactly what is being investigated, and what the feds are considering investigating, check out Madison.Com's story on the issue.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bankrollers Come First in Chicago

While many groups, like ACORN are all gaga about the new Chicago "Big Box" Ordinance, that passed with a veto-proof majority today; the fact is 35 Chicago alderman put their bankroll (AFL-CIO, SEIU) ahead of their constituents this afternoon.

As John Kass pointed out last week in the Chicago Tribune, the neighborhoods in Chicago where Target and Wal Mart are looking to build are desperate for jobs, and shopping. The problem is, Chicago Alderman are desperate for money and support in elections. And lets face it, you can claim all you want that you support the little guy and the poor folks, but they don't give tens of thousands in campaign cash.

You see, the "big box battle" in City Hall today wasn't a battle between big box retailers and the poor folks they take advantage of with (supposedly) low wages and benefits. That wouldn't be a battle, every poll shows the residents in the areas the stores want to build want them, without the ordinance.

No, today was a battle between organized labor money and the poor, who labor says they know better than.

Last week I was working a job in one of those neighborhoods, a place where I don't roll down the windows, and have a tendency to jump red lights to get away from. Right in the middle of it is a half finished Target and Home Depot complex. Target was in a holding pattern, waiting on today's vote, Home Depot (which pays more than the ordinance requires already) was waiting on Target. If Target goes, so does Home Depot, because they know in that area without a retail anchor, they won't get enough traffic to make the store pay for itself.

Less than 6 blocks from the building site is the Chicago City limits, and open land, that could easily house both stores. Both would still be on the same transit routes, and still have access to about 90% of the clients they figured to attract in the city. They'll probably still get the same workers to apply for the most part that they did in Chicago. The difference will be which city collects on the tax bill for occupied retail space, and which one collects on vacant space, to large to be of use to retailers that don't hit the limits of the new ordinance.

Opponents have already threatened a lawsuit over the ordinance, which could be filed any day. Based on the overturning of Maryland's Big Box Law last week, it wouldn't be a surprise if they prevailed in the end.

So, one wonders, will Target pull the plug as they hinted they might last week? If they do, what we'll hear, from the union mouthpieces in City Hall isn't how they blew it, but of the evils of big business. Because we all know that limousine liberal alderman; the guys from the North Shore and Condo Crowd; who don't have constituents begging for work and stores, will not be willing to look in the mirror at where the blame goes for 300 lost jobs, and a few million in tax revenue for the Windy City.

What if they do move, and the courts toss out the ordinance, then Chicago will be stuck with an even worse situation; the law that drove everyone away off the books, and the stores already gone.

More available at Marathon Pundit

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Dessert Before Dinner!

Last night, as I sat in the back yard burning some burgers on the grill, I saw something that was just awesome, and of course the camera was in my bedroom, too far to get quick enough.

I heard a rumbling coming out of the south east over my head, and blocked by my rather large maple tree. I knew it was a plane, but wasn't sure what kind, just big. Not a jet engine rumbling, instead, the sound of radial engines, the type they used 60 years ago.

Then I looked, and watched this beauty fly over....

A vintage B-17 WWII bomber, big as life, and at a spot where I didn't have a chance to get it flying.

I was so disappointed, but I knew from the pattern it was landing at the Waukegan Regional Airport.

Then, about 10 minutes later I hear the noise again, thinking he was making another pass, I had the camera ready.

Except this time it wasn't the Flying Fortress flying over my head, it was this plane.....

A B-24 Liberator, the most widely produced US bomber of World War 2. I did get a picture of it in the air, but it's not nearly as good as this one of it on the ground at the airport.

After dinner the lovely one and I had some running to do, but we grabbed the camera and headed towards the airport first.

There they were, on the ground, less than a hundred yards from the general public parking area at the airport, what a great site.

And they weren't alone, the planes had a friend with them, my personal favorite bomber of that era, the B-25 Mitchell, a sleek little two engine job that saw service as everything from a transport to a ground attack aircraft. (for some reason Blogger doesn't want that picture to upload).

In case you are wondering what these were doing in Waukegan Illinois, it's a regular stop over on the way to Whitman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Whitman home of the annual Experimental Aircraft Association Fly in, known as AirVenture; and the home of the EAA itself.

I've attended the Fly In twice; though I have to drive to get there; in the last 6 years, and it is an awesome experience. The daily airshows, the vintage and homebuilt aircraft are all incredible sights to see.

If you like planes, it's the place to be the last week of July every year. Just make your hotel or campground reservations early, usually it's hard to find a place to stay within 60 miles.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006


I'm taking a blogging break for a few days, if you hadn't noticed. I'll be back sometime later this week or early next.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

So Much For That Idea

As I was watching the news this morning, I caught the word that the "Wal-Mart Law" in Maryland had been declared invalid by a federal judge yesterday. (opinion here)

The judge used something interesting from the bench, common sense, when he threw aside the state's claim that the law wasn't a requirement to increase health care, but actually a tax on employers.

The states arguement was based on the idea that if Wal-Mart (or some other company with 10,000 employees, that doesn't exist in Maryland) didn't meet the 8% payroll goal for providing health care benefits, they wouldn't be "fined" by the state, but instead be required to pay a tax equal to the difference.

The judge said that the law ran afoul of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which in his opinion he claimed overrules such state laws as Marylands.

If the ruling holds up on appeal to the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va, there are some other interesting possible effects. For instances, would ERISA also be able to be used as a basis for companies to challenge the "living wage" laws many municipalities have passed? Could they use it to challenge the states that have different minimum wage laws than the federal standard?

The AFL-CIO blog is trying to spin this as a partial victory, by claiming:

"...While the Court’s ruling is deeply disappointing, its decision to roundly reject the claim by Wal-Mart’s lobbyists that the law singled out Wal-Mart was a positive sign"

Except the judge did rule that the law would create specific harm to Wal-Mart*, in fact, the first 13 pages or so of the ruling are on why RILA had rights to bring the suit on Wal-Mart's behalf, and why Wal Mart would be harmed by the law:

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz decided that the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act would have hurt Wal-Mart by requiring it to track and allocate benefits for its Maryland employees in a different way from how it keeps track of employee benefits in other states. Motz wrote that the law "imposes legally cognizable injury upon Wal-Mart."
The AFL-CIO and Service Workers Unions have both tried to get an anti-Wal-Mart health care bill on the books in 33 states, and have failed in every one of them.

Doug at Below the Beltway has a great review of the ruling, and more links about this story.

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* PilotOnline.Com link provided by a group that lobbies for Wal-Mart
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Second Class Place Forever

Please understand, beloved cheeseheads, when I say Milwaukee will forever be a second class city and county, it is with a heavy heart. I have a lot of great memories of the city from my youth, and want it to be brilliant and vibrant again.

However, after reading in the Journal-Sentinel today, and hearing on the radio (thanks Charlie) about the County Board's possible decision on the Park East corridor, I can only say they must WANT to remain a second class city.

First off, a first class city looks to attract outside investment, and bring people in. Milwaukee has been experiencing an exodus since I was a kid, and the population was over 700,000. Today it stands under 600,000.

Second, first class cities understand economic development is something that has to happen on both large and small scales. The driving out of businesses who they don't like because they aren't big enough isn't how you become a destination for entrepreneurs who are looking for somewhere to invest.

Third, and finally, first class cities (and counties) have elected officials who can do math! Which brings me to the Park East development.

Two companies are looking to develop an area known as the Park East Corridor. An ill fated freeway was once there, and now there is nothing but empty acres waiting for development.

Company A offers 2.9 million for the land, and a 104 million dollar development that will creaste 2.02 million a year in tax revenue, and 500 jobs, 27% of which would be earmarked for minorities. Over a hundred condos (at $450,000 each) would be the centerpiece, along with 55,000 square feet of office space, and 30,000 of retail.

Company B offers 2.8 million for the land, a 34 million dollar development anchored by a gas station and convenience store. It would feature 14,000 square feet of offices and 9,000 of retail space (I think that's called a strip mall). 600,000 a year in tax revenue would be generated, along with 137 jobs, 35% of which are earmarked for minorities. The builder would also offer 2% of annual profit to the county for helping with homelessness.

So, which offer does a first class county take? Don't ask the Milwaukee county board, they are planning to choose option B, based on the 35% of jobs going to minorities being a bigger percentage than Option A.

Now, as I constantly remind folks, I'm not a math major, but I do have a calculator (and 31,000 Holiday Inn Express bonus points). If option B is better, because of the 35% number, then someone explain to me how the 87 less minority jobs created is better? You see, if you use a calculator, you find that 27% of 500 jobs is 135 for minorities. 35% of 137 jobs is 47.95 for minorities.

So option A would provide as many minority construction jobs as Option B would construction jobs period, and it's a worse deal? The 2% is also a supposed kicker, but for that 2% to make up the difference in tax revenue ($1.4 million) the smaller $34 million dollar development would have to generate $70 million in annual profit. I'm pretty sure that dog don't hunt.

I'm sorry Milwaukee, but with leadership like the current county board, you are destined to remain that far north suburb of Chicago, and not a first class city in your own right.

Update, 5:30am: The lead editorial in today's Journal Sentinel also whacks the county board for it's short sightedness on this plan. Evidently the editorial board can do math, too.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Who's Who

Newsweek has a good "who's who" article of the various factions in the current Mid-East crisis up on it's website. More importantly, it's a who's backing who; where groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are getting their backing.

It gives a good account of the history of Hezbollah, for those who wonder where they get the money for all those rockets and missiles.

At the same time the Washington Post has an interesting op/ed piece by Fawaz A. Gerges, Postcard from Beruit. Mister Gerges laments that "The only way out of this predicament is for the international community to resolve the deadlock between Israel and Hezbollah."

He evidently forgot that the international community was central to the removal of Syria proper from Lebanon a few years ago, and that Hezbollah ignored the requests to disarm that was followed by other militias.

Instead of looking south for the cause of their problems, the Lebanese might want to take a look east, both directly to Syria, and farther, to Iran. That's where they'll find the sources of money and weapons that allow their country to be used as a launch pad against Israel.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

No Lady, You Don't Get It.

Nancy Armour, an AP writer, contends that Michelle Wie's critics just don't get it, the truth is Nancy doesn't get it.

Wie attempted for the fifth time to be the first woman since 1947 to make the cut in a PGA tour event. She failed again, and her withdraw because of heat exhaustion not withstanding, she would have missed the cut anyway.

Amour claims Wie is a talent on the level of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. She's wrong, all three of them have done something Wie hasn't done, win. Woods destroyed the amature competion before turning pro. Jordan won a title in college, and then after a few years in the NBA owned the league. James hasn't won a title yet, but has in his 3rd year taken a team with little other talent to the playoffs.

Wie on the other hand hasn't won. She hasn't come close, and when she tries to compete with the men, she looks like the teenage girl she is. If she is indeed a talent on the level Amour claims the only way to prove it is with some trophies, something her mantel is missing.

Her critics are absolutely correct to ask why she doesn't concentrate on honing her game on the womens tour, where she is at least competitive and gets to play all four days, instead of hunting for publicity on the mens tour.

They are right to point out that she lacks the talent to compete with the men, and so far hasn't proven she has it to compete with the best women, at least according to her record. It's not sexist, it's not ignoring talent, as Armour claims, it's looking at her record without the rose colored glasses, and seeing an average womans tour player.

I'd love to see Wie become successful, but I don't think she will if she doesn't learn to prioritize her game. She should be working on becoming the best golfer she can, and when she's done that, then see if she's ready to try it against the PGA again.

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If You Read Nothing Else Today

If you are like me and don't like doing much on Saturdays, and only plan on reading a few things, below is a link to something that HAS to be one of them.

It's a speech given by Marine Corps General Mike Lehnert, Commander Marine Corps Bases (West), given in San Diego recently. I won't copy the whole thing here, instead, go to American Thinker and read it; I will however copy my favorite paragraph from it:
Let me be clear. Pay day lenders are not providing our Marines with a service. they are parasites, bottom feeders and scumbags. One of them sent me a note recently telling me that he was a member of an honorable profession and that I should back off. He told me that a pay day lending institution had been found in the ruins of Pompey after Mount Vesuvius erupted. I responded to him that archeologists also found a whore house and that antiquity did not bequeath virtue. It is a shameful practice.

The rest of the speech covers everything from Stanford graduations, Iraq, Military and civilian relations in San Diego and California, and every bit of it makes sense.

(H/T TexasScribbler)

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Friday, July 14, 2006

How Not To Get A Date

(Hat Tip to Wisconsin's Morning News and Paul Harvey, both of who featured this story today).

45 year old Lorna Jeanne Dudash from Aloha Oregon has an interesting way of trying to get a date. You see, she was home alone one night, playing the music too loud, and the neighbors called the cops.

After the police left, she called 9-1-1 and asked them to send the cops back, because one of them was cute. (Listen to the 9-1-1 call here)

She got her wish, the cutie pie cop did return to her house, to arrest her for misusing the emergency system. Lorna now faces a fine of several thousand dollars and up to a year in jail.

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Oooh That Pesky Law

A pesky law is expected to bite some pretty underdeveloped Chicago neighborhoods in the backside shortly.

Which law, you ask? Why the law of unintended consequences, of course.

Chicago is looking at a big box ordinance that would require $9.25 hour in wages and $1.50 in benefits, escalatin over the next few years to 10.00 and 3.00 respectively for any retail operation with a 90,000 square foot facility and $1 billion in overall revenue.

Target has started initial development on 3 stores in underserved minority neighborhoods in the city, but yesterday told a group of alderman that the plans on on hold until they see what happens with the ordinance, and that in all likelihood, they could be cancelled.

Ald. Carrie Austin of the 34th ward put it bluntly in a Chicago-Tribune story, If the ordinance passes, "my development is through". She understands that her wards border with Calument Park means that Target, and a proposed Home Depot could move just a few blocks and face a less hostile development environment, lower taxes, and lower costs to operate.

While the Home Depot would probably pay what the ordinance requires, the fact is they like to co-locate their urban stores with big box type retailers to increase traffic. The loss of Target as a primary destination would be a blow to their sales, and be ample reason to cancel the store.

While some alderman challenge the notion Target would pull out, look at the history of cities with "Living wage" laws. They do end up with retail development, but from higher end stores with larger margins. The neighborhoods that need the larger development and low cost shopping the most end up with small mom and pop stores employing dozens less people, and exempt from the living wage laws.

The other loss to city besides jobs that don't exist in those neighborhoods is property taxes. Empty lots don't generate revenue. The Wal-Mart going up in my town later this year is expected to generate about $200,000 a year in intial property taxes, going up to about double that in 4 years. Outlots are expected to bring in 50% more tax revenue when they develop.

Chicago, with a higher tax rate, would probably see $2 million (a guestimate on my part) of lost property taxes if the 3 Target stores and Home Depot pulled out, to say nothing of the ancillary development they would spur.

But evidently that's okay, it's better to have a symbolic ordinance that kills the jobs and taxes than to actually get the jobs and taxes areas like the 34th ward actually need.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

It Is A Message

Whether certain folks like it or not, and mostly not I'm afraid, Isreal Israel has decided to send a message to their neighbors. Clean up the riff raff hanging out near our border, or we will.

With airstrikes in Lebanon, and attacks against militants in Gaza, Isreal Israel seems to be sending the Palestinians and Syrians (through there Lebanese puppets) a message that they've had it with the attacks against their civilians, and the kidnapping of two border guards.

Kudos go to John Bolton, our UN Ambassador who vetoed a heavy handed Arab lead resolution denouncing Isreali Israeli retaliation this week. It's time we stopped abstaining from such votes; and continue vetoing them, until we get equally harsh rhetoric from the Useless Nations against the countries and groups that harbor the terrorists who attack Isreal Israel.

While I have some sympathy for the Lebanese people who are caught in the middle of this, it's time for them to demand their government ensure their security by kicking out the Hezbollah and Hamas militants who attack Israel.

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How To Know You Are Wrong

As I wrote a few days ago in "Can I Teach At UW?" the University of Wisconsin has hired "moonbat" professor Kevin Barrett to teach Islamic studies.

Included in the course will be his one week topic of how the US perpetrated the 9-11 attacks to start a war against Islam.

How should UW know this decision was a bad one, even with all the bluster over 'academic freedom' that has emenated from the chambers of the Chancellor? Easy, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel not only scolds them for the hiring, but defends George Bush.

To understand how important this is, you have to realize that the Journal-Sentinel editorial board claims the sky is green because Bush said it's blue, they claim water is dry because Bush said he got wet swimming, and they've all become vegetarians because George Bush likes steak.

Even a left handed defense of GWB, as they give in todays lead editorial should cause who ever is on the other end of it to figure they've screwed up royally.

To make matters worse, on the same day they printed a second op/ed piece, that's wonderful by the way, on who else UW should start hiring with "unconventional views".

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Novak Reveals What We Already Knew

So I got up right when the alarm went off this morning, refusing my normal urge to hit snooze a few times, to make sure I could read and react to the Novak column right away.

I should have hit the snooze button. I didn't really learn anything that hasn't been discussed before, but I'll still give a refresher on some of the information.

The biggest revelations out of the column would be these:

However, on Jan. 12 [2004, ed.], two days before my meeting with Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor informed Hamilton that he would be bringing to the Swidler Berlin offices only two waivers. One was by my principal source in the Valerie Wilson column, a source whose name has not yet been revealed. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source's information. In other words, the special prosecutor knew the names of my sources.

So Fitzgerald knew who the information came from, and in all likelihood; though not confirmed by Novak; the context of Novak's conversations with the sources, at the beginning of the investigation.

In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.
Wait, this means that Rove wasn't the source of the information, or that Cheney & Co. weren't instituting a "Destroy Joe Wilson" campaign, as the media and left wing pundits have breathlessly claimed for the last few years.
Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official and the CIA spokesman for confirmation.
In fact, according to Howard Kurtz's column today, Rove's response, as the confirming source was no more than "Oh, you heard that too", or similar words, depending on Rove and Novak's recollections.

Guess that blows the whole Rovian plot idea out of the water.

I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in Who's Who in America.

This possibility has been discussed, ad nauseum, on television and in print when the whole investigation started. Nearly all conservative commentators and bloggers (including me) posted the link to the "Who's Who" entry, or disccussed it on their shows.
I considered his wife's role in initiating Wilson's mission, later confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, to be a previously undisclosed part of an important news story. I reported it on that basis.

Again, every conservative pundit out there has made this case for the last two plus years, that the story behind Novak's original column wasn't "Get Joe Wilson", but how did Joe Wilson get to Niger.

Unfortunately, in the moonbat world, anyone who challenges the credibility of anyone who challenges Bush must be a White House operative. That underlying premise seems to be the reason we spent millions on an investigation of nothing.

After reading Novak today, and some of the other info that has come out over the last 30 months, it makes me wonder if the investigation was dragged out as long as it was simply because politico's (not Crazy one's) would have been pissed if it ended quickly.

It's evident Fitzgerald knew early the context of the whole story; yet plugged along until he came up wtih some way to indict somone; possibly to avoid the political firestorm that would have erupted if he hadn't charged anyone with anything.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Hate Teasers

So anyway, I'm cruising the online editions of my favorite newspapers this evening, and see "Novak to Reveal Role In Leak Case" in the Chicago Sun Times. Follow the first link and you get about 3 paragraph's of Novaks column to be published tomorrow.

About all he reveals today is that he didn't plead the fifth in front of Fitzgeralds Grand Jury, though he did testify.

I'm looking forward to the moonbat reaction nearly as much as finding out exactly what Novak had to do with the whole investigation. I get the feeling that he'll be chastized from both directions for whatever he says. If he claims he's the one who "outed" Plame, who wasn't exactly "in hiding" anyway, the left will scream that Fitz should string him up. The right will bitch that he should have come out publicly long ago and help quelch the crap in the media.

If he says all he did was pass on third string info he'll get beat up for the same things from the opposite directions.

Either way, the reaction should be more fun than the column itself, though I'll be sure to toss my two cents worth in anyway.

Updated (10:21pm) Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post names two of the folks Novak will talk about in the column.

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Can I Teach at UW?

The University of Wisconsin has once again proven why folks on the right snicker about it and call it Berkeley East at times.

Kevin Barrett will be teaching Islamic studies there this fall, even though he's got some interesting ideas, to say the least.

Kevin is a 9-11 denier, who's claimed that Dick Cheney orchestrated the attack killing 3000 people, among some other rather distasteful things.

As many pundits better than me in the Badger state have pointed out, if Barrett were a holocaust denier he'd be run out of town on a rail. But in this case, even though there have been dozens of investigations into 9-11, the name of 'academic freedom' is why he's being allowed to teach.

About the same time I was thinking about that, I received this link in my e-mail; about the slavery reparations movement gaining momentum, and of course got to thinking.....

What would happen if an instructor of African-American studies decided that as a small part of his or her class, they required students to write an essay on why African American's were better off because of slavery?

Empirically it can be shown that the average US black family is much better off than the average family in the areas of Africa where slaves were abducted. Child mortality rates, disease, and 'weath', even for our worst off blacks in this country are all much better than those in most of the underdeveloped areas of Africa.

Would the UW Regents decide, when pressured by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton that the professor should still be at UW? Or would they cave in the name of political correctness, and let us know how insenstive, and full of crap that individual is?

My guess is the person would be gone. While the regents are defending their current position by saying they won't bow to political pressure, the truth is they already have, by keeping Barrett around. It's just pressure from the extreme left instead of the mainstream of the public.

By hiring this guy UW isn't defending academic freedom, they are espousing lies, and conspiracy theories, but just ones that happen to fit the regents own political bent.

More about Barrett at:
Marquette Warrior
Sykes Writes
McBride Media Matters
Hot Air
From Where I Sit
Disguntled Chemist, a "lefty" who believes Barrett is a problem for their side of the issue.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

A Taxing Approach

Last wednesday I wrote about the Robert Samuelson op/ed piece in the Washington Post that discussed the increase in carbon output that will occur over the next 40 years despite Kyoto and other calls to reduce it.

Today the same paper has another op/ed by Sebatian Mallaby, "A Dated Carbon Approach", which advocates huge tax increases to force individuals, and companies, to reduce output.

While the approach has some merit, it has some huge pitfalls he ignores completely. Coal power generation is one example he uses. The US is building enough new coal plants to power 93 million homes, and he doesn't like it. The idea that you put a huge 'carbon cap' on those plants, or fine them for exceeding it is his solution.

The problem with the solution is threefold. The first is a logistics issue, really. You can build plants that reduce carbon output, either with huge scrubbers, or by using other fuels. The scrubbers generally increase the cost of the plant by 30-50%, which generally reduces the cost effectiveness of building the plant in the first place.

The second problem on the solution is also logistical and cost related, fuel. If the plant were to be built as a natural gas plant instead the building cost itself goes up by about 60% to get the same output as a coal fired plant. Secondly, the fuel is much more expensive, and because of our limitiations in delivery (thanks Sierra Club, etc) many areas don't have the natural gas available for the plants.

Finally, the consumer effect is obvious. If you raise the price of the plants, and or the fuel to run them, the cost of electricity goes up. The utilities are not, and in most cases cannot, afford to eat those kinds of cost overruns on their own; the price increases are going to end up on the end user of the electricity.

Autos are another area he touches on, but obviously missed the memo. While he laments the idea that small cars and hybrids haven't caught on as fast as other countries, he thinks a carbon tax on vehicles is the solution, along with more company investment in hydrogen (again see my previously referred to post on where it comes from) and fuel cell technology.

Consumers already get a tax break for buying hybrids, and they are gaining in popularity. However, they still cost enough more than a standard gas car that they aren't seen as a great alternative in all cases.

Adding the tax to non-hybrids might close the cost gap, but it's still just passing more cost to the consumer, not the companies who build the cars. GM is losing billions a year, the idea they would "eat" a huge tax on their most profitable vehicles is pretty myopic.

He also touches on the patenting of hybrid and other technologies, comparing it to pharmaceuticals. Evidently he doesn't realize that patent laws already apply to the auto industry, and tech industry. By reading his own papers business page he'd see they are used quite regularly (google Blackberry Lawsuit, or RIMM and you'll see).

While E85 fuel is cheaper than gas right now, it's only because of huge tax breaks, not because it's a cheaper fuel to make. It actually costs more than gasoline to produce, even with oil hovering near 75 dollars a barrell. Brazil is moving to an ethanol economy, but only through huge government subsidies to the producers. And no one has looked at the other cost to consumers of E85, the fact that the land to produce switchgrass or corn to make it stops producing foodproducts, possibly increases those costs.

My summary is easy, yes, you could tax oil, gas, auto and utility companies into a less carbon based fuel. There are questions though, are consumers willing to accept the incredibly higher costs that it would take? Are environmentalists willing to allow the additional natural gas and methane to be drilled and distributed that would be necessary to both reduce carbon emmissions from generating electricity and to produce the hydrogen necessary for that type of vehicle (NG is the base fuel for 90% of the hydrogen produced in the country).

The answer to both has to be yes before trying to move to a hydrogen based economy, either by natural market forces, or forced government intervention through taxes.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Angry Atheists

Evidently Anthony Kennedy has really ticked off the American Atheist movement with his stay of a judges order to remove the Mt. Soledad cross in San Diego.

The stay wasn't "merit based", meaning that Kennedy didn't say that the order to remove was likely to be overturned on appeal. Instead he said that the damage done by the removal would likely be irrepairable if the order were overturned, and therefore the "status quo" would do for a while longer. The standard for fence sitter Kennedy, who can't decide where he stands on much of anything.

Even though the court refused to hear this case 3 years ago, with two new members Kennedy also decided that it was likely that four justices would agree to a future appeal of the latest ruling, and ordered the cross to remain where it is.

This must really tick of Phil Paulsen, who filed the suit to remove the cross, since the other prominent San Diego cross, located at Mt. Helix is also still there, despite Phil's best legal efforts.

Here's an idea for Mr. Paulsen, and other other atheists who are so offended by privately funded war memorials which have crosses on them (which is what the Soledad Cross is). Buy a mountain top, and on the top of it afix a huge atheist symbol..... Oh wait, they don't have one.
I guess a nice open space on a mount top would be nice.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Interview Time

No, the title doesn't refer to job interviews. I'm quite happy with the new job. Instead, it's time to be interviewed at Basil's Blog. There is a link on the top of the left sidebar for submitting questions. So fire them off to Basil, and we'll see when he's got enough to get it published.

Remember, the more questions you send in the faster you find out my answer to them.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Every Four Years

You know, weird things happen every four years. For instance, we all get hyper over elections every four years. We have leap years every four years.

And my son has cars destroyed every four years.

For the second time on July 6th, my son was in a car accident. Four years ago he learned the hard lesson of driving while tired, and what happens when small cars hit large trees. He walked away, bumped, bruised, and wiser.

Today, he got rearended pulling into work. The young girl driving behind him wasn't paying attention to the break lights and directional, and didn't hit the brakes quick enough. Considering the wreck was between her 2003 Explorer (wrecked a directional and folded some plastic) and his 2003 Kia Rio (the crumple zone did) it could have been much worse.

Again, he's walked away with no injuries, though he's a little sore. Being the trooper he is he worked three more hours because the pizza place was short handed and having a big special, and very busy. I don't think I'd have stuck around.

As for the car, my guess is it will be totalled, but I don't know, I'll talk to the adjuster tomorrow and see what he says.

The fact that he'll be 21 in less than a week doesn't make it any easier when you get a call saying he's been in an accident, it still scares the bejesus out of Mom and Dad, we still showed up in fairly close to record time. I guess even at 6 foot 1 and 250 lbs he's still my "little boy".

I'm just glad no one was hurt, and I hope the young lady who rearended him drives a little more careful from now on.

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Normal Obstructionists

As usual, when it comes to dealing with North Korea, China and Russia have blocked anything the UN Security Council would like to do in the form of economic sanctions.

Lest we forget, we've been down this road before. In the 1990's Bill Clinton secured Kim Il Jong's assurances he'd stopped working on his nuclear program. In return we sent light water reactors, home heating oil, and bunches of food.

In the end, the light water reactors weren't finished, and while the army and government buildings were heated, and had food in the cafeteria, millions of North Koreans still starved to death and froze. And the work on the nuke program didn't stop.

Now, for some reason, which is easy to figure out, Russia and China want to try this approach again. The reason is they make a ton of money from North Korea, economic sanctions would hurt them, too. So, instead of being concerned about North Korea's program, they are blocking action based on self interests, not world interests.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Al Didn't See This Coming

Al Gore of course has a new movie out about global warming, and how it's going to kill us all. Today's Washington Post has an interesting column by Robert Samuelson that throws come cold water on Al's bluster about the subject.

Samuelson's take, which I think is half right, is that global warming is more an engineering problem than it is the moral one that Gore and others have made it. That's where I believe he's right.

He points to an International Energy Agency report that surmizes a 42% increase in CO2 emmissions over the next 40 or so years strictly based on population growth and increased standards of living in areas like China and India. Kyoto doesn't address that issue, because they are considered developing countries, and even if the treaty would go into effect, they would be exempt.

There is however, an area that I disagree with Samuelson on the idea of a "moral problem"; should, in the name of "global warming" we be allowed to tell countries they must stop developing? Can (should?) the world tell China, Brazil, India, and other countries that they need to stay 'less developed', for the good of the world?

You see, that's the real question. You can't increase a countries economic output without increasing it's energy usage, not on the scale of a country like India or China, with a billion or more people. Yet the only way to really curb CO2 emmissions to the level the Kyoto folks would like would be to tell them they have developed enough.

Going back to the subject of an engineering problem vice a moral problem, comes the question of where do we get the electricity to help those developing countries develop?

While some in the environmental movement will scream "do it with renewables", the truth is most that don't involve release of CO2; wind, solar and geothermal; aren't the types of power generation that can replace large scale coal and oil fired plants. Even the most efficient renewable resources are better suited to replace peaker power plants, small scale generators designed for short term use.

Though nuclear energy is the best alternative for large scale electric output, the same groups that want to sue because of CO2 emmissions sue when power companies try and get permits for new reactors.

Hydrogen isn't an answer, either. Right now 90% of the worlds hydrogen production comes from the 'cracking' of either natural gas or methane, a process which still requires holes in the ground to get the parent gas. It also has as a byproduct, you guessed it, CO2, which ends up being released as offspring gas are burned to fuel the cracking process.

The other 10% of hydrogen comes from a process called electrolysis, which uses a large electric current to break water into it's components. It's clean, only hydrogen and oxygen as byproducts, but it's a net energy loser. It costs more electricity to make the hydrogen than can be recovered by using it in fuel cells.

Does that mean that we should just throw our collective hands in the air and give up? No, but we do need to put things into a logical perspective, and realize, as the IEA has, that greenhouse emmissions will go up, regardless, and look to ways to slow the growth. At the same time, it has to be looked at in a way that makes sense in reality, not the hype based world that Gore and others seem to live in.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America

Just a quick happy 230th Birthday to America.

Now, everyone go see some fireworks tonight!

Updated 10:20pm....

Uber is back, please go read her wonderful post, and wish her well, and give her a cyberhug.

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