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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stems Cells Used To Create Liver

Charlie Sykes tipped me off to this story, thanks you.

Notice I used a bold headline, well the Washington Post, NY Times and LA Times didn't use any type face for the headline, at least in their online editions. You see, none of the 3 major dailies wrote anything about this discovery.

The Weekly Standard does give it quite a bit of coverage, but mostly to explain why the above listed papers don't see it as a story.

Okay, I know, you are all asking, "What the hell is he rambling about???" Well, the liver was created using CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS, not embryonic stem cells, which is why you don't see it in the papers.

Cord blood, and adult stem cells aren't controversial, and no one is against federal funding for the use of them in experiments. If the President was saying you couldn't use federal funds for cord blood research, then I'm sure a few newspapers would give this the light of day.

The left end of both the media and the political spectrum want people to forget that there are stem cell research projects out there discovering great things without the destruction of embryos. They want you to think that embryonic stem cells are the only hope for curing disease, when the truth is they are the least successful of all types of stem cell research.

If we only used that liver in Scotland as an example, blood cord cells would be ahead of embryonic cells 1-0 in the race to find cures for diseases, though that liver is better suited for pharmaceutical testing of drugs than human use at this point.

The other thing the left, media and political, would like you to not understand is that George Bush is the first US President to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. They also don't want you to know that no one has EVER introduced anything in the congress to outlaw the practice. What has been introduced, and upheld from the early 1970's until 2001 was restricting FEDERAL FUNDING of the research. The other law that they use to confuse is one's that have been introduced to ban human cloning for the purpose of producing stem cells.

In other words, as I heard Mark Green, a candidate for Governor in Wisconsin say yesterday (I'm paraphrasing), 'Bill Gates can toss all the money he wants at it perfectly legally'.

Nearly every major university has labs dedicated to some sort of research that is done without federal money, usually from corporate grants. Why not stem cells? There is no law that says Harvard can't use donated money to purchase embryos that won't be used to do research with, so why aren't they? Why aren't Bill Gates and Warren Buffet tossing some of their charitable millions at this cause? If the issue is truly one of life and death as some claim, you'd think there be billions of dollars in private funds coming in for the research.

The truth is the research to date, both private and publicly funded on embryonic stem cells has been disappointing at best. The private money is going to cord blood and adult stem cell research because that is where all the breakthroughs have occurred.

It's sad when political hyperbole is used to scare and confuse people on medical research. It's sadder yet when those who want to be our leaders condone the practice.

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Stupid? Guess You'll Go To Iraq

John Kerry has stepped in it again. Just like 2004 when he voted for stuff before he voted against it, he's opened mouth, and inserted foot.

This time it was a gaffe at a Democratic Fundraiser, and yes, it was caught on tape.

The comment:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."



When the Democratic Party has to ask itself, again, why the military has no respect for them, at least now they have the footage as a reminder.

It's that condescending attitude that Mr. Kerry, and other democrats; even those who have served; have always shown the military that gets them a constant 20% of the vote from that demographic.

I used to work for a guy who reminds me a lot of John Kerry. He'd tell you to your face what a great guy you were, and how good a job you did. When you left his office he'd call your division officer and tell him you were a piece of shit.

Hot Air has lots more, Black Five assures us Kerry is still an asshat, Mudville has a great photoshop picture of Senator Asshat, and of course the Little Bro chimes in, okay he didn't chime, it's more like ringing bells at a cathedral.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

He's Back, and He's Ranting Like Crazy.

Yeah, that's right folks, he's back. My Little Bro has made it through little league and pee-wee football, and has started blogging again.

DO NOT READ HIS LATEST POST, if you are a liberal and afraid of the truth, because he tells it.


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Another Mark Missing Comparison

From your friends on the left comes this weeks new comparison, one that completely misses the mark.

From the Current President and his Elected successor in Mexico to Mikhail Gorbachev , to Democrats all over America, the 700 mile border fence that was brought to life with a signature on a bill last week is being called the new "Berlin Wall".

Of course, they are all as wrong as they can get, but it hasn't stopped folks from using the phrase.

Mexico's President Elect Calderon said in an interview a few days ago:

..He deplored the move because "the fence doesn't resolve anything" and will cause more Mexican deaths on the border.

"Humanity committed a grave mistake in building the Berlin Wall.
I'm sure that the United States is committing a grave mistake in building this
fence,"

While it sounds great, it's untrue, the US is doing the right thing in building the fence. Maybe President Elect Calderon will be more successful than his predecessors in raising the standard of living in his country so people aren't trying to escape. Until he, or another Mexican leader is able to do that we shouldn't pay the price for their nations economic ineptitude. When Mexican's feel safe, and as though they can get a decent job in their own country, then they'll quit dying trying to cross the border.

Bryan Kennedy, running for congress in Wisconsin has used the same phrase according to a columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel . Others are starting to utter it in campaign stops in many states.

The truth is, it's not the Berlin Wall, or even close. As Cody Herche at Legal Redux pointed out a few days back:
The Berlin Wall was designed to keep people in. West Germans were trying desperately to escape the terrible conditions in their country and would risk everything to cross the Wall and perhaps have a better life on the other side. The proposed border fence, on the other hand, is built to keep people out. The United States is trying to preserve the integrity of its borders and is using a wall to keep citizens who have no right to be here out of our country.
It goes even farther than that, however. The Berlin Wall split to sections of a city that for centuries had been one city; splitting family members who just weeks earlier could legally walk to each others homes.

The US-Mexican border fence will, on one hand, split some families; but it isn't creating new "legalities" for crossing the border. Crossing anywhere along the 700 miles it will run has been illegal since that area became part of the US.

The legal ways of visiting and entering the US aren't affected at all by the fence, unlike the Berlin Wall. If anything, it strengthens that legal aspect of getting into the country, it doesn't diminish it as the Berlin Wall did.

No, the border fence isn't like the Berlin Wall at all, it's more like the security fence at a company. There are ways to get in to visit the company, there are even ways to get in and get a job. However, crawling over the fence to a company's property probably isn't the way to get hired; any more than sneaking across a border should be a path to citizenship.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Good Reading

If you wonder what may transpire in an Democratic controlled Congress, Opinion Journal has a wonderful piece in this weekends Hot Topic Column called "The Non-Contract With America What Democrats aren't saying about their agenda, so we will. "

A lot of people, the folks who I bitch about who aren't informed enough to understand, will ask "how does any of this affect me?", so I'll answer how a few of the issues they are talking about affect Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average.

Tax Rates, while Nancy & Co. are telling everyone the middle class tax cuts will stay, they don't tell you the effect of what they'd like to do to the "investor class" tax cuts of 2003. Those included capital gains and dividend tax cuts.

(From the article above).
Economist John Rutledge estimates that raising the dividend rate alone would reduce the value of the S&P 500 stocks by between 5% and 8.5%, roughly a $500 to $700 billion decline in the wealth of the 52% of American households that own stock.

Remember, that's just the dividend rate, capital gains would also come into play. How does it affect Mr. and Mrs. Averages? Easy, they probably have a 401(k), IRA, or maybe even a union penision fund. Unless you are an ultraconservative investor most of your retirement is probably wrapped up in the markets. Having them take a 5-8% hit is a hit in your future retirement income. I mentioned your union pension because when the market dove in 1999 and 2000 because of the tech stock meltdown many unions saw their pension funds dwindle, some being turned over to the feds.

The change to the dividend rules in the last few years have gotten a lot of companies to distribute dividends instead of hording cash. Changing the tax rates back will reverse that, and squelch the market. Think "tech bubble bursting", except for a longer term.

Paygo budgeting is another thing mentioned, but never explained by Democrats. The premise is for every new dollar spent, you have to either raise taxes by a dollar, or cut spending by a dollar. It sounds like a great deal, until you realize that 60% of the budget is wrapped up in 'entitlement programs' that paygo cuts don't apply to. That means when the fiscal 2008 budget congress works on comes up and Social Security rises by 3% that money has to be cut somewhere, or taxes raised to make it up. Think about the new spending your candidates have proposed on the stump, and ask yourself, where is the money coming from?

Health-care regulation. Yeah, everyone wants the Canadian system, except Canadians. John Dingle's idea of a 1.7% tax on you, and 7% on your employer sounds great. Except the employer has to come up with a way to cut costs by that 7% to pay for it.

And the truth is, it won't be enough money. Take a look at Europe, which went to VAT taxes, and were going to kill income taxes because of it, and fund universal health care. The VAT's have all gone up, income taxes went up, not away. And, to make up the cost to employers, employees got laid off. The average EU country has twice the tax burden and unemployment rate of the US, so if you work for a company of 100, find the 5 you least like and ask they be laid off to pay for the new tax.

The "negotiated drug prices" that Pelosi & Co. are touting are a farce if there ever was one. In the 1970's Europe developed 66% of all new drugs in the world. Then they decided that negotiated prices (actually, fixed prices) were the way to cut costs. Europe now develops less than 20% of new drugs, and most of their major pharmaceutical companies have either folded, or left for the US. When we try the same thing, watch the companies head to India and China, and wonder why.

Windfall Profits Taxes on Oil- Just say "HIGHER GAS PRICES". Anyone with more than two functioning synapses knows that taxes are a cost to a company, and costs are made up one of two ways, cutting other costs (employees, R&D, etc) or charging their customers more. Since the Dems are also hell bent on not allowing another well to be dug in the US, we might get a short reprive from higher prices since exploration costs for the companies will go down. But eventually that winfall profit tax will come out of your pocket.

The question is, how does Congress pass such a tax so it only affects oil companies? Their margins are lower than the average bank and service company, so saying anyone with over a 10% profit margin pays it (which the oil companies haven't had in years) would affect a lot of other businesses. By passing it with a dollar cap on profits you'd be likely to see a number of oil companies relocate out of the US, because it no longer pays to do business here.

Just a few things to think about with the elections a few weeks away.

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Politics and Reality, The Minimum Wage.

In his newest effort to attract votes after another fund raiser plead guilty Friday, Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois decided he not only wants to raise the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour, but also have it annually indexed for inflation.

I've never quite figured out why politicians spend so much time on an issue that it about as irrelevant as it gets for affecting actual voters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 2.5% of all workers earn the federal minimum wage or less in 2005. Granted, Illinois and other states do have higher minimum wages, but the percent distribution would probably be very similar on wages if you used the state wage as the benchmark.

Of that group about 25% aren't of legal voting age. That gives you about 1.8% of voting age people earning that amount. The majority of those workers are in the lower end of the age spectrum, meaning they have a horrible record when it comes to voting, about a 30% turnout.

So why do politicians spend lots of energy on something that in terms of actually affecting the electorate does just about nothing? Well, it's a great soundbite policy to play with, and both sides are guilty.

The Democrats claim the "big mean businesses want to shaft the worker" when the truth is, few workers earn the minimum wage, and most of them are either still in school, and/or working part time. (Go to that link above at the BLS). 75% of the folks earning the minimun are either in two income families, or have never been married.

The GOP says it stifles job creation, which is partially true, but again for kids in school and part time low end jobs. It may correlate to bigger companies not opening shop where employees families would have a hard time finding work, but that data is kind of hard to correlate.

One arguement that is probably true (based on the BLS numbers) is the GOP claim that the market will set the wages accordingly. Since 1997, when the federal minimum wage was last raised, the percentage of the workforce earning that amount has dropped from 6.7% to 2.5%.

Every time the miminum is raised the percentage earning it goes up, indicating employers, at least in the short term, are willing to freeze wages for some, but then within two years there is another drop in those earning that amount. In other words, the market does set the labor rate.

CATO did an interesting study in the early 1990's on the subject, which held true from 1938 to 1992, so I have no reason to believe it's basis would change in the last 14 years. According to that study the people most affected by increasing the minimum wage were those who earned it (duh), but the affect isn't one politicians wanting the increases will talk about. Every time the minimum wage goes up unemployment for the groups who typically earns it goes up right along with it, and not by a small amount. When the 1991 minimum wage raise went into effect some groups saw their employment numbers drop by 10%, with an overall raise for that income group of 6.7%.

So, when you hear the next "issue ad" about the minimum wage, think about it. Very few earn it, and regardless of the sound bites, a very tiny amount are trying to raise a family on it. Worse, a bunch of them are probably going to end up unemployed by the raise.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Responsible Voting

Hey, guess what, if you can't tell by the 900 ads a day for candidates, election day is only a little way off. Luckily, like a bad case of gas it will pass. Unfortunately, like herpes it'll pop back up in a few years.

Since election day is close, and I've had a comment or two here and read many elsewhere on the election, I thought I'd bring up responsible voting.

What's responsible voting? How about actually researching a candidates position instead of listening to TV ads. How about voting on more than one issue. Make up your own mind, with facts, instead of listening to (or reading) pundits thoughts. Those are responsible ways to do things.

Responsible voting might even include voting for third party candidates who have no chance. I know the old argument on that one, 'it's a wasted vote'. No, in my mind a wasted vote is one for someone who doesn't best represent your values and thoughts, but has a chance to win. I have a lot of respect for the folks who voted for Nader in 2000, and Perot in 1992 and 1996. Those folks knew their candidates didn't have a chance, but still did what they thought was the right thing.

The worst voters, at least in my mind, are single issue voters. I don't care if your issue is taxes, school choice, abortion choice, Iraq, or global warming. If you are only voting for a candidate based on that one little issue in a world of tons of them, you're nuts, and probably going to get what you deserve in government.

The truth is, you probably can't find a candidate that agrees with you on every issue, and is going to vote exactly how you want on all legislation. That's why you need to research the candidates, and the claims both for and against them. Then figure out the one who best suits you. Sometimes it might surprise you and be someone from the party you don't normally vote for, but that's okay, then you can tout your independent thinking after the election.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bad News for Apple

DVD Jon, the guy who cracked the encryption on DVD's at age 15 is at it again. According to a Reuters story at WashingtonPost.com Jon Lech Johansen has cracked the "Fairplay" copy protection Apple uses to keep iPod users on the iTunes plantation of music downloads.

He's planning on licensing the technology to other companies, opening iPods up to other music services.

Considering the iPod and iTunes have been the big drivers of Apples resurgent profits the last few years, this isn't good news. I'd expect a small downward move in Apple stock today based on this news, though it won't amount to much in the near term. (I am not an investment advisor, don't use this as advice on how to manage your portfolio.)

Before you get all giddy about using some other music service to load up your iPod with tunes, keep in mind that Apple has copyrighted the techology, and will probably file a lawsuit against Johansen and his company in an attempt to keep all those users feeding at the iTunes trough.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hoisting the BS Flag

Dennis Byrne has a great piece in today's Chicago Tribune, and on his blog, hauling up the BS flag on Congresswoman Melissa Bean from Illinois' 8th Congressional District.

For those who are fortunate enough to NOT live in a district where they have to see or hear her advertising, she's decided to paint David McSweeney, her GOP opponent as an 'extremist' on abortion.

His extreme positions? According to Bean he wants all abortions outlawed, though that's not his stated position, and never has been. In fact the host of the TV show that Bean took the comment (out of context) from agreed that what she's saying isn't what McSweeney said on his show.

Byrne does a great job of pointing out her own extreme positions on abortion, and her 100% NARAL approved voting record in congress.

Go give Dennis a read, it's worth the time.

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How Partisan?

Want to know how partisan your current member of congress is? Wonder how often he or she votes with their party?

Jessica McBride has a link up to the Hill Monitor, where you can get that information.

For instance, Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois, mentioned this weekend that he's mulling a run for President, and is consistently praised in the Illinois media for independence. If you read the Hill Monitor Loyalty Rankings to check his independence they show he voted along party lines 94.97% of the time. That's more often than Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. Of course, he's got the State's senior Senator, Dick Durbin to emulate, who was just a tick ahead at 95%.

The rankings are interesting to look through if you want a way to get past the hype of the current crop of TV commericals. For instance, Mark Kirk who represents a district just south of me has been getting beat up by Dan Seals, his opponent for always voting with Bush. However, the "Loyalty Report" puts Kirk in the bottom 20% of Republican's for "party loyalty" along voting lines.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

After All These Years....

After 23 years, this is still my least favorite day of the year. Please go visit the Beirut Memorial Online today, and remember the 241 brave men who gave their lives to Islamofacists 23 years ago today.

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Wierd

Sorry my blogroll and The American's For Inclusive Debates blogroll is down, but they are refusing to load this morning.

Oddly, Homepun Bloggers and American Flag bloggers are also hosted by Blogrolling.com, but they are loading just fine.

Wierd.

Hopefully whatever the issue is it's fixed by this evening.

Update: It does appear to be working again, so the blogroll is back.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ouch, That Would Hurt

With everyone wondering what will happen when the Democrats take control of congress (me included), Barron's Online is telling the Democrats to put away their confetti, and Nancy to get back to the Minority Leaders office, because they won't be winning a majority in either the House or Senate on November 7th.

Barron's has been a more reliable predictor of House victories than polls in recent years, and in White House races, so they may not be as off base as some will think. In fact, they claim that they are over 93% accurate when predicting the House and 89% when predicting the Senate.

Their "worst case" scenario is a House with a 2 vote GOP majority and a 2 vote majority in the Senate, but they really think it will be 13 in the House.

They provide some interesting caveats to their formula, and they have had some bad years in their predictions, but in each of those cases there were multiple things causing voters to swing way off base.

This year, while Iraq is bugging folks a lot, and the GOP isn't making many new friends, their thought is most GOP base voters aren't going to skip voting or cross to the left. Most of those base voters look at things like economics, tax policies, and tend not to spend time on emotional issues when picking candidates. That doesn't bode well for many Democrats who need crossover votes to win.

So, in a few weeks we'll find out who's more accurate, Barrons, or Conventional Wisdom. I'm not putting any money on either this election cycle.

(hat tip to Charlie for finding the article)
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Wrong Kind of Reform for Illinois

Illinois will probably pass an "education funding reform" bill next month during the veto session. The problem is SB 750 is all wrong on how it tries to fix the funding of the Illinois public schools.

In my interview at Basil's Blog one of the things I mentioned I'd do as governor would be to try and fix our screwed up tax system. In Illinois everyone pays the same income tax rate regardless of income (3%). I like the low rate, in fact it's why I changed my residence from Wisconsin to Illinois.

However, the state gives very little to public education, laying most of the bill for it on local property tax payers. SB 750 gives some relief, but none mandated, and in fact, it's a rug waiting to be pulled from under the property tax payers. If income from the tax hikes falls, mostly likely during a recession, then property tax payers would lose a portion of their abatement. What worse time could there be to hit folks with higher income taxes, and a property tax increase?

SB 750 missed the mark on a number of points other than tax relief though, and those are bigger problems. For one thing, to get the votes for it to pass instead of the money that would be raised by increasing taxes on upper income folks goes to all schools, there is nothing needs based about it.

Secondly, there is nothing in the bill mandating the money actually be spent on classroom needs. Instead, like all other state money it can be used for anything the district would like. So while a struggling district could probably use more than SB 750 will give them for teachers, an affluent district may be spending the extra money on furniture for lounges and new "stuff" for administrators.

Third, like the current state money, there is very little accountability in how it will be spent. Finding out where a districts dollars go in the state is nearly impossible.

I'd suggest a different package for reforming financing education. First off, any increase in state money must be needs based. There are hundreds of failing schools in the state that need the money, and many more affluent districts that are fine without extra state funding.

Second, the money must be earmarked for classroom expenditures, and nothing else. If you want a new football field, go to the local taxpayers with a bond issue. If you need more teachers or updated equipment for science classes, that's where the money should be going.

Third, 75% of all money provided by the state should be returned to local taxpayers in the form of property tax relief. This would require some coordination between the state and school districts, but it wouldn't be "undoable". It would also still increase school budgets while reducing property taxes.

Finally, any district getting any of the additional funds would be required to hold annual, publicly available outside audits of their finances. This should be a requirement on all school districts every few years anyway, but for some reason it isn't in Illinois.

How to fund it? Well while I hate raising taxes Illinois's got a very generous income tax system. No retirement benefits are taxed, regardless of income. No one pays more than 3%, which is the lowest in the region.

Before we do that though, the state needs to push through a bill to consolidate school districts. For those no living in Illinois, you'll be amazed to know that many areas have multiple school boards, one for K-6 or K-8 and then another for High School.

The high school distict I live in is fed by 3 separate K-8 districts, each of the four is it's own taxing body. By consolidating all four into one district more than a million dollars a year in administrative costs and excess non-teaching positions could be eliminated, and tossed back into the classrooms.

On that tax issue, after consolidations the state could then look at raising the income tax on those over $75,000 AGI to 4%, and tax the pensions of those making more than $50,000 in retirement at the normal rates and raise enough money to help a lot of schools.

SB 750 look raises the base tax rate to 5% for all individuals, only includes retirement income for those over $75,000 and includes a 66% increase in the states business tax. Those types of increases are enough to push a larger number of folks outside the borders of the state, especially when added to the other fees and taxes in the state, a number of which become increase under the bill.

The raise that I proposed wouldn't be a big enough tax hike to drive folks out, in fact the taxes would still be lower on the upper income folks than most of the surrounding states. Indiana has a flat 3.4% tax, but not enough taxpayers would move there to make it an issue.

There are a lot of groups out there, like A+ Illinois, pushing for reforming the school funding methods in the state, and education reform in general. I'd recommend if you live in Illinois you start looking into them, and where they stand to see who you can support to try and fix the screwed up the mess that is education funding.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Another Democratic Scandal

A few weeks ago, on a Friday night Mark Foley's e-mails and IM's went public, and he resigned within hours. Every major online newscarrier had coverage of the scandal up nearly immediately.

Go to the Washington Post site tonight and seach for Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Then go to the NY Times, then the LA Times. You'll find articles about her outrage over the removal of a security clearance of a Democratic staffer, who possibly leaked classified material to the NY Times.

What you won't find on them, but will at Time.com, though is an article about Jane being under investigation by the feds for basically buying her seat on the Intelligence committee from Nancy Pelosi, with the help of AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby group.

I'm not comparing Foley to Harman, or their crimes;I'm just pointing out the media seems to work at a different speed depending on who the allegations are against.

Evidently, according to Time, Harman was lined up to go to bat for some AIPAC folks who were grabbed by the feds for espionage by this same investigation. In exchange, they lobbied for Harman to keep her prime seat on the intel committee by having big money members of the PAC contact the Minority Leader.

It'll be interesting to watch tomorrow's papers and see if any of them mention the investigation.

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Interesting....

I found a new blog search engine called Sphere tonight. I would have never known about it, except that they linked my article on North Korea to a story at Time.Com.

You can go to Sphere's site and submit blogs (don't know how mine got there), and search blogs. They also have a plug in for Firefox and IE to click when you find an interesting article, and then find blogs that are writing about the topic. They also have a typepad widget and a few other tools, though none that I could find for Blogger.

So far the linking to Time's article hasn't brought in any vistors, but who knows maybe it will. In the meantime, I at least found a new way to search blogs.


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Need A Scary Thought for Halloween?

If you are looking for something to scare the daylights out of you around Halloween, Don Surber has it right here.

I don't think it will happen, but with the wacko's in Congress, and those set to be elected it's always a possibility. In fact, I mentioned last night that a Democratic win in 2006 doesn't guarantee them the White House in 2008. This idea would probably guarantee them the minority in Congress again in 2008.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

2006 And 2008

Michael Barone has a great article from a couple of days ago at RealClearPolitics concerning the upcoming election, and the follow on elections in 2008. (h/t Charlie)

He points out, as I and others have, that the worst thing for a Democratic candidate for president in 2008 may well be Democratic control of Congress starting in January 2007. One of his major points is that polling, while favoring the Democrats nationwide, and in many contested races isn't favoring them by landslide margins.

Barone calls the phenomenon that we probably won't see a political realignment; when one party fundamentally changes the landscape by the shear number of votes they win by. 1994's GOP sweep of the House wasn't such a realignment either, when they won not only a lot of seats, but a lot of seats by a lot of votes. But it didn't carry over to the 1996 presidential elections, instead it showed folks, like today, were fed up with a do nothing Congress, but not much else.

Barone thinks, and I agree, that 2006 may well see the GOP pushed from power in the House and Senate, and still able to win the White House in 2008. To him it comes from polling that shows every major GOP contender for GW's job able to beat any of the top Democratic contenders.

I think that's important, but not as important as the agenda of the Democratic party if they get Congress. Many have talked of repealing, before the 2010 expiration, Bush's tax cuts. But the GOP crafted the original legislation pretty well. You have to basically kill the whole package, which would include the doubling of the child tax credit, the raise of the minumum income level to pay taxes, etc. In otherwords, they'd have to put the 30 million low income folks who came off the tax rolls since 2002 back on them, and explain it.

Iraq would cause them another problem. They want badly to leave, but also to avoid the "cut and run" moniker that's been attributed to them. Even a Clinton or Murtha type "redeployment" has already been painted as a way of quitting but claiming to be in the game.

Say they were able to push it through, with a veto proof majority, though. What happens if Syria, or Iran steps in to "calm down the masses", and take control of Iraq? Or another Ba'athist regime is installed, and the Shi'ites and Kurds are slaughtered again?

While the folks on the left will want to holler that it wouldn't have happened if Bush hadn't gone to war, the truth is they'll have to fight to prove it wasn't there fault. Keep Viet Nam in mind, while there were 8 years of Democractic presidents screwing the pooch over there, many people still believe Nixon was the one who started that particular war. John Kerry still refers to it as "Nixon's Viet Nam", though Kennedy and Johnson got us in, and kept us there for twice as long as Tricky Dick.

Their third problem is the economy. Right now, whether the left wants to admit it or not, it's doing quite well, with decent (3.5%) annual growth, low inflation, low interest rates, and crazy low unemployment.

Their biggest problem with it is they've never grasped that economies are cyclic. In late 2007 or early 2008 we will experience either a mild recession, or much slowed growth. Every GOP candidate out there will point to every vote by a Democrat against a Bush proposal as a sign that it was the Democratic controlled congress's fault that the economy slipped. "Congress stonewalled this proposal, that proposal, and every other proposal that would have made it better" will be a GOP rallying cry, and they'll be able to point at 2006 numbers to show they are right.

By the way, they probably won't be right on that issue, but it won't matter, the average voter isn't willing to do the homework to understand the economy. Instead they'll believe which ever soundbite they hear the most often. That recession is going to happen no matter who's in control of Congress, mark it on you calendar, and say you read it hear first.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How Politics Work

If you need a good look at how politics work, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has provided an outstanding example.

They didn't provide it on purpose, it was actually left on a copy machine in the state capital according to one source, stolen from a cloakroom according to State Senator Mark Miller; none the less it provides a pretty good look at politics around election time.

As for Sen. Miller's idea it was stolen, that reminds me of the time the national party left their 'confidential' information on a public share drive and wondered how someone saw it.

The document is the State Democratic Party's draft of their plan for the 2006 election, and was drawn up in May of this year. Seems like a late start to me, but who knows.

Fred at RealDebate Wisconsin and others (here, here, here) have lots of analysis of the possible election law issues this document provides. My guess is that if the similar document that was undoubtedly written by the GOP was found it would raise the same issues on that side of the aisle.

One of the things in the content that got my attention was the section on page 8 that describes direct mail efforts against "A list" canidates, those they think are the most vulnerable, or open seats that are most winnable.

The first three mailings are bio and intro type flyers, and the third a "contrast" piece between candidates, that I would guess would be issue oriented, but isn't described. The next 3 mailings are all to be "negative ad" type mailings. If there is time, then the actual issue oriented and positive tone mailings will be sent out.

The phone plan is similar, it's number one priority is to START negative attacks on the opponent, or respond to one from the opponent. In fact, there's nothing on the draft of the phone plan to say anything positive. Just negative ads, and id'ing of likely voters.

We often complain that campaigning has become to negative, and this document shows that negative advertising is the preferred method of at least one party in gaining voters. I just hope it backfires on someone so we go back to talking about issues, instead of waiting to see if we have time after the attack ads have been run.

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Honesty In The Debate

Robert J. Samuelson has a great Op/Ed in this mornings Washington Post, "An Oil Habit America Cannot Break" which lays the blame for our energy dependence where it belongs; not on Congress alone, but on we, the people. Honesty in the debate about our energy future is probably the biggest missing part of the puzzle to becoming closer to energy independent.

Three groups, the tax lobby, the auto lobby and the environmental lobby, which all represent big segments of the population have prevented us from doing anything meaningful in the area of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Starting with the environmental end, things like opening up the ANWR and coastal shelves to exploration has been beaten to death by environmentalists as disasters waiting to happen, and longer term solutions that do nothing now. The problem is, if we'd have started exploring these areas when Bill Clinton first vetoed such legislation in the mid 1990's we'd be seeing the oil now. Instead, every year, propped up by the environmental lobby, we've killed such legislation because it would take 5-10 years to develop the fields.

Never mind the fact that only 1% of the ANWR has ever been proposed for exploration, to listen to The Sierra Club and it's friends, you'd think we were going to plop a well every 5 feet in Alaska, and there would be constant spills and destruction. Never mind that history in Alaska has shown that with few exceptions, caused by individual idiots, the environment there hasn't been destroyed by the past 30 years of exploration in Prudohe Bay.

They also ignore, in their quest for a hydrogen based economy that 85% of the hydrogen we produce comes from natural gas, which still has to be drilled for. Sure, we could get it from cracking seawater, but that requires nearly three times as much energy as the hydrogen created will produce. Where's all that electricity going to come from?

The tax lobby has kept the government from increasing gas taxes to the point where we'd make a choice towards smaller vehicles. As Samuelson points out, using the increased revenues from a high gas tax other taxes could be lowered to offset the cost to consumers. However, no one mentions that point. Europe has moved to much more efficient vehicles because of their incredibly high gas taxes. However, the fact they didn't lower any other taxes to offset them is part of the reason they make a lousy example here.

The auto lobby and environmentalists don't realize it, but they are in cahoots on the last part of Samuelson's thoughts, higher fuel economy standards. One of the ways Europe has gotten much more fuel efficient is through the use of diesel engines. The problem is everytime Congress is ready to pass CAFE standards that include a nod to diesels the envirnomentalists scream about them. The auto industry (in the US) has done itself no favors in this area by not working to produce a clean burning diesel alternative.

The auto lobby itself is a two fold beast that has proven impossible to tame. The workers (UAW) on one end complains that jobs will be lost if CAFE standards are increased because foreign automakers are so far ahead in fuel efficient vehicles. On the other end the management folks argue the same thing, but based on the fact that highly inefficient vehicles are the profit centers for their industry, and cutting back on them would mean cutting income, and then workers to offset the losses.

Congress's part in this whole thing rests on it's lack of political will to do the right thing, instead of the thing that will keep money flowing into election funds. Democrats can't possibly believe, other than with $$ in their eyes, that opening areas of the US to exploration as part of a short to mid-term solution is a horrible idea. At the same time the GOP can't continue to push for super low gas taxes and corporate profits at the expense dependence on foreign oil.

Keep in mind that even is some kid at MIT developed the perfect hydrogen fuel cell today we'd still have 30 years of legacy oil applications we'd have to fuel. The day the car was introduced every horse and buggy wasn't replaced immediately, it took decades. The same will be true with any alternative source of energy. Until that time passes we'll still need oil, the question is will we develop the political will to produce it here, or keep paying the Hugo Chavez's of the world for it.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

An Unread Scholar?

Today's LA Times has an interesting, though totally pointless Op/Ed piece "Our Broken Constitution" by Sanford Levinson.

The author has decided that the founding fathers were completely screwed up in how they set up our country. But he's got a few problems in his logic. First and foremost, he believes the US was founded as a democracy, which it wasn't, it's a federal republic. There is a major difference in those two types of government.

He's obviously either not read, or completely ignored the arguements in the federalist papers over why the founders set up our House, Senate, and Presidency in the way they did.

He laments the fact that the Senate gives equal representation to Delaware and California. Yet it was written that way for a reason, so the large states wouldn't get to rubber stamp anything they wanted, at the expense of the smaller states.

While he's right that it's caused problems at times, especially with the pork that is typically traded to get legislation passed. But the alternative would be the United States of Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio, and the rest of us could pack sand. Having a Senate also built on states population would make having two chambers redundant.

He obviously missed the point of having a Republic when he mentioned Barbara Boxer getting 6.4 million votes and Lisa Murkowski getting only 150,000. The idea is that each state picks their representatives, not a national election for state representation. In fact, I can think of nothing more fair than the majority of my state picking my Senator. The original system of the State Legislature picking Senators, now that was screwed up.

He's also disappointed that we don't have a way, other than impeachment, to get rid of an unpopular president. However, he ignores the reasoning of the founding fathers once again. They debated a number of things, but decided that having a government that could be constantly in flux was a worse option than four years with a poor leader.

All one needs to do is look at Italy in the 1980's to understand that reasoning. The country's economy basically stopped as one government after another collapsed due to infighting. While we had problems with Ford, Carter and Reagan as far as the economy went, things were still accomplished in the US. Italy still hasn't fully recovered from their constant experimentation.

He also doesn't like the idea of Supreme Court appointments for life, because it allows members to wait to retire until they think the President will pick someone similar to them as a replacement. However, by reading his tone, I wonder how he'd feel if George Bush got to pick John Paul Steven's replacement because he hit mandatory retirment age.

The court was set up how it is simply to prevent politics from becoming part of the court. Unlike states where judges run for re-election, at the federal level judges don't have to worry about campaigning. Anthony Kennedy is a great case in point of someone who's philosophy has changed over the years, but probably wouldn't have if he was worried about elections.

No, Mr. Levinson, I'll agree our Constitution isn't perfect. But I'll take it over what I've seen in the 20 some other countries I've visited. Yes, sometimes we get clunkers for President, and sometimes congress gets out of control with spending or other things. The truth is the solution isn't rewriting the document, the solution is better informed, more active voters. WE THE PEOPLE have the power to change our government every few years. When we exercise the priviledge with thought to the outcome, all of your arguements become moot.

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Disaster For The Democrats

The Democrats may have already faced their 2008 presidential disaster this past week. The withdraw of Mark Warner from the race before it's even begun has all but ensured Hillary Clinton to be the party's nominee in 2008.

Yes, I know John Kerry, John Edwards, and maybe even Al Gore will toss their hats into the ring sometime around July of 2007, but the truth is Hillary will get the nomination, very possibly assuring the GOP another term in the White House.

Sebastian Mallaby of the Washington Post notes that Evan Bayh of Indiana might toss his hat in the ring as the "centrist candidate", but provides ample evidence he's not as centrist as he'd like us to believe. Bayh also comes from a fairly small state, and has little national name recognition to use for traction in a campaign.

With a plethora of left leaning candidates poised to take over the House; and possibly the Senate; for the Democrats next month plenty of evidence of what a fully left leaning national leadership would look like will be available by the time the 2008 campaign gets underway. That won't bode well for someone like Clinton, or any of the others I mentioned above.

The right is angry John McCain is their leading candidate for 2008, and continue to offer up ideas on who should be the standard bearer. To them McCain is too much of a sell out to the left with many of his votes. But they obviously haven't done much research on two of the guys they're pushing in his stead, George Pataki and Rudy Guiliani, who both have more liberal records working in New York than McCain does in the Senate.

Any of the three can beat Clinton in 2008, if the GOP gets behind a front runner early, instead of having a hate fest over supposed liberal leaning transgressions throughout the primary season. The fact is any of them can siphon more centrist votes from the Democratic side of the aisle than any of the possible Democratic candidates can from the GOP.

Warner being in the race was good for whoever became the Democrats nominee, because during the primaries he would have force all four of the more liberal candidates to take more positions in the center during the primaries. Now we'll see four people shooting it out to win the base voters of the party, and all but assuring they won't get elected during the general election.

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Am I Clairvoyant?

I get up in the morning, get my coffee, and head for a few online papers to see what's up in the world.

I guess I'm some sort of savant, according to the paper. Last week I evidently began channeling a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. Really. Don't believe me? Read this article I wrote, then read the one in today's Washington Post, "An Offer Kim Can't Refuse".

There are some minor differences obviously, Aaron Friedberg believes that enough economic sanctions will get Kim to drop his nuke program. I think we need to go farther, and actually get North Korea to drop Kim though tough sanctions.

One of the arguements against this course is it could goad North Korea into starting a war on the pennisula. I don't think it will, because they know they'd be able to get little if any overt support from China or Russia in such an endeavor. It would more likely result in NK being cut off completely from the fuel, food and weapons that China provides , hastening their collapse were they to start shooting.

Friedberg is on the right track, stiff sanctions against the North, and tough consequences for those who violate them are the only way to get Kim to either fall, or at least give up his nuclear ambitions.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

I just wanted everyone know how wonderful Crazy Politico and our children have been the last two weeks. Two weeks ago this coming monday we were woken by a phone that my grandma had died, while it had been expected for the last month or so it is still hard. I took that day off work and Crazy Politico and our children hardly left me alone for the day. Our daughter even brought me flowers. When my mom, aunts and uncle decided when to have the memorial service (yesterday), I said we would take of the food following the service, well it didn't quite work that way - Crazy Politico and both children worked very hard cooking for about 80 people and THEN yesterday, he and his son and his daughter's best friend missed the service to get the room set up to serve those people food. I just wanted everyone to know how much I love and appreciate him and his children. My Mom and Aunts also greatly appreciate him and the children handling everything.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

No, You Don't Understand

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an editoral piece today "Green doesn't understand ", referring to Wisconsin's Republican Candidate for Governor, Mark Green.

The JS editorial refers to Greens stands on illegal immigration, and their decision that he doesn't understand the issue, but their writing shows the editorial board is actually lacking in understanding; or common sense.

For instance, on the idea of illegal immigrants paying in state tuition to attend the university:

Green would prohibit in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin System for illegal immigrants who have graduated from Wisconsin high schools. Wrong. We should not penalize students who had no say in coming here. It makes no sense to invest in their K-12 educations and then drop interest when they reach college age.
Using that logic, why do we deny in state tuition to students from California or New York, who also had no choice in where their parents lived? Why not set tuition the same for everyone, from anywhere, since they didn't have a choice where they lived.

In state tuition is used to reward the tax paying citizens of a state, who still pay most of the bills of the university system. The parents of illegals, just like the parents of kids from New York and California aren't paying their share of income taxes, property taxes, and other fees in the state, the things in state tuition rewards.

The other truth is, if it's known while they are in K-12 schools that students are illegal, they should be reported to law enforcement, and deported. That would allow more resources to be devoted to those who are here legally.

Then they go on about law enforcement and public services with this (nearly funny) diatribe:

Green would require those applying for public assistance to show proof of citizenship. Gov. Jim Doyle notes that this is already required by federal law and that illegal immigrants are mostly barred from these services anyway.
They ignore the fact that the Attorney General of the State has given a free pass to government agencies that refuse (knowingly) to gain the federally required documentation. Dane County basically advertises that they won't question your immigration status if you apply for assistance.

Green would allow local officials, including law enforcement officers, to inquire about immigration status. The bottom line here is that illegal immigrants will then not step forward to report crimes or to testify.

UPDATE (10/15/06): The Journal misrepresents Green's position on this to start with, since he specifically says that he would require that local law enforcement agencies check on immigration status of offenders and report violations to federal authorities. In other words, witnesses wouldn't be targeted, only those arrested.

Even so, the editors evidently believe it's okay to be guilty of another (unpunished) crime, so long as you might be willing to testify about another. Does this mean that if the cops found someone on the FBI's most wanted list who saw another crime they shouldn't ask him about that poster in the Post Office?

No, Journal Editoral Board, YOU have it wrong this time. You should be applauding Green for trying to take care of the taxpayers money by getting rid of those who wish to use the system illegally, instead of showing indignation that he's got the gall to question why someone is here illegally.

Check out Jeff Wagner's take on the editorial
Thanks Charlie for the shout out.
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A Degree In Business, And Can't Do Math

How can you tell when a politician is lying, I mean other than there lips are moving? Easy, when they say the other side is using "scare tactics". If you hear that phrase, you can bet your bottom dollar that the other side is actually telling you the truth, not trying to scare you.

A great case in point is happening in California, with Proposition 87. The proponents (big hollywood money, and tree huggers) are attempting to levy $485 MILLION dollars in oil extraction fees from companys that pump oil in the state.

This week they've brought out Al Gore and Bill Clinton to tell folks how this proposal will help "save the planet" by funding alternative energy research (which is a good thing). Then they go on to say that the opponents of the bill are trying to scare the public by claiming gas and heating oil prices will go up if this passes.

Hello, simple economics here at the door!! If you raise the cost of doing business by a huge amount, expect the business to try and recover some of the costs through the consumer, it's how they remain profitable.

Because of some other, odd laws in California relating to oil, such as only gasoline refined in state can be sold in state, the California consumer would probably bear the brunt of this tax. The proponents don't mention things like that, because common folk will then start doing the math.

There are a few other unintended consequences that will probably be coming shortly if this passes. Expect to see the demise of California's oil fields. Since the tax is on extraction, as huge finds like Deep Jack in the gulf of Mexico come on line, oil companies will just reduce output in California, and replace it with gulf oil. The other alternative is for them to bring down the excess oil from Alaska that is currently sold overseas, and use it to replace reduced output in California. Same amount gets refined and sold in the US, but less extracted in California, resulting in a net tax and transportation savings for the oil company.

The other thing the proponents fail to mention while they tout this huge new tax is that oil companies annually spend about five times more than this tax will raise on alternative fuel research. Shell alone spent over $300 million in 2005 on alternatives, Exxon nearly double that.
So while "hundreds of millions" over the life of the tax sounds huge, it's really only an incremental increase in research dollars; and like most taxes probably wont' bring in as much as they are claiming anyway.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Free Speech

A few days ago in "You've Got To Be Kidding" I laughed about Geoffrey Stone's list of liberal beliefs.

In today's Opinion Journal (and on Wall Street Journal's print opinion page), Peggy Noonan takes the left to task on the idea they support open debate, and are tolerant of others views, the number 2 and 3 "good things" Stone mentioned about being a liberal.

She points out at least a four instances; in just the last few weeks; of conservatives being shouted down at speaking engagments, news organizations being attacked by the left for allowing conservative guests and speakers to get a word in, and generally the whole demeanor of the left on the idea of "free speech".

Give Peggy a read today, it's worth it.

Also on that topic today, Charlie Sykes mentioned the idea that the Chapter 11 filing by Air America, the liberal talk network couldn't come at a worse time. Many on the left, especially larger donor groups have been calling for the return of the "fairness doctrine", and Air America dying would make that call even louder.

For those not old enough to remember the pre-Limbaugh days on the airwaves, the fairness doctrine basically said you had to devote equal time to opposing viewpoints as a requirement of keeping your broadcast license. If you allow sponsors to pay for four hours of Rush, you have to find sponsors to pay for four hours of Al Franken.

The free market has shown that there isn't a real call for liberal talk radio, but a huge outlet for it on the conservative side. The left would like the doctrine returned; not to get equal time because they've proven no one will listen; but instead to force broadcasters to chose between two bad choices, giving liberals that no one listens to air time, or cutting down on conservative talk shows. The feeling on the left is that broadcasters would rather cut down on conservative talk shows and fill with something that would make money, rather than give liberals, who Air America has proven don't sell airtime.

While many who advocate this return claim that it's the consolidation of broadcasters (who are right wing and evil) that necessitates this, keep in mind Milwaukee's two biggest talk radio hosts are on stations owned by generally liberal media companies. Evidently they know what sells, and it's not like minded talk show hosts.

Just keep Geoff Stone's #2 rule of liberals, they support open debate of ideas, which is hard to reconcile with their desire to return the fairness doctrine.

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The Real Way to Stop North Korea

Charles Krauthammer has an interesting, but off target, op/ed piece today on how to stop North Korea.

Charles believes that some Kennedyesque tough talk, as was done during the Cuban missile crisis is the answer. However, with the low world opinion of George Bush and his tough talk, it would be a wrong tact for the situation. The truth is, China or Russia are probably the only two countries who can get away with such talk, and have it work, but neither will take that kind of bold step.

No, the correct way to deal with North Korea is a tougher swallow, because some of our allies don't like the idea, but for long term stability it would be the best. The method is to choke them into collapse.

South Korea is against the idea, as is China, based on the number of refugees they'd end up handling were the Kim regime to collapse and a void in leadership appear. Japan doesn't like it because they fear in an act of desparation Kim would launch either nukes (if possible) or more likely conventional weapons at them.

The non-military sanctions we've brought up to the security council are a start, but even they are meeting with resistance from China, Russia and Iran. By the time a small group of countries is done messing with the final wording, the UN resolution will probably resemble a mild tongue lashing, with little to back it up.

Instead the G-7 countries need to stand up, and not only support tough sanctions against North Korea, but also punitive measures against the countries that are stonewalling any accomplishment there.

If you can get the EU, US, Canada and Japan to threaten trade sanctions against China and Russia specifically, both countries would have to look at softer positions. Witholding of investment money, freezing of technology transfers, and added tariffs on products from their countries would put a large amount of monetary pressure on both, who depend on foriegn investment to grow their economies.

This doesn't have to be "out in the open" threatening, but instead behind the scenes maneuvers designed to get those countries behind a program that really will affect Kim's regime.

The big question is, does anyone in the west have the political will to stand up to China and Russia on this issue?

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Really, There Is No Problem With Voter Fraud

We keep hearing from folks on the left side of the political aisle there is no problem with voter fraud, ID's for voting is horrible, etc.

Yet one of their pet groups, ACORN, has once again found itself in hot water for registering dead, underaged, and illegible voters in St. Louis.

So far over 7% of the registration cards they've filed in St. Louis (over 1500 of 20,000) have turned out to be bogus, and they aren't done counting yet.

This isn't new for ACORN, they've been accused of registering bogus voters for years, and always sing the same tune, 'it's a few bad apples that work for us doing it, not the whole organization'. Yet at least six states have had to investigate them for turning in bad registration cards, so it's not 'isolated incidents', it's becoming more like a habit.

When folks ask why some of us want tighter controls on voting, all we should have to do is point to ACORN as the problem with the current registration system. Seven percent swings in any number of states in the last four presidential elections could have changed the outcomes, so the number is one to worry about.

So here's my solution, voter ID cards, free ones for the poor. If we can spend $50 million on a bridge for two dozen folks in Alaska, we can come up with the money for the 2% of voters who supposedly can't afford to pay the fee for a drivers license.

Secondly, no election day registration. Instead close it 30 day's prior to the election unless someone can show they just moved into a district in that time frame.

Third, put registering voters back in the hands of those who are elected to handle the job, not partisan groups of any type. Yes, turnout might go down if folks have to show up to register, or go online to do the form, but at least there'd be one group handling it, instead of spending it's time trying to weed out the fraudulent registrations we keep seeing.

Quick side note. HOLY CRAP! This is post number seven friggin' hundred on this blog!

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Wishful Thinking, David

David Broder waxes poetic in today's Washington Post about what should change in DC if the GOP loses control of congress.

Unfortunately, his vision is flawed.
"If that lesson is reinforced by the election results, Washington will change. Congress will be run by people who talk with each other, across party lines. And even the White House may learn that it needs to end its isolation and engage more broadly at home and abroad if it is to salvage some substantial accomplishments from Bush's final two years in office."

The problem with his vision is the Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate. Unless the folks that are brought in by the election are also willing to vote Pelosi and Reid out as leaders of their chambers, the tone won't change.

Instead, I predict, what we'll see is an agenda from Congress that they know the President won't support, and instead of a work towards compromise, we'll see more partisan bickering that he won't rubber stamp their legislation.

What's truly needed, to see Broders vision occur, will be a total leadership change, not just the GOP losing the majority, but the Democrats realizing that the negatives on their current leaders are so high that they need to be swept out also, and replaced by people who are interested in dialog, not partisan politics.

Reid already has ethics problems, and Pelosi has as low an approval rating on a national scale as the president, so neither would be the right choice to run their chambers.

Democrats have to realize that a majority in Congress in and of itself shouldn't be the goal for them, yet thats all they talk about it. The last time they had the Senate majority the public gave them a couple of years, and tossed them, because they didn't do anything with it.

That very well could happen again. Their party, if they gain control, will have two years to show the public they are capable of an agenda and ideas, or those two years will be used as evidence their party isn't ready to lead and off they'll go again to the minority. The best way for them to start those two years would be to show that "business as usual" is dead, and find new leadership for both houses.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You Gotta Be Kidding

"What It Means To Be A Liberal" is in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. I didn't get to it then because I was at a conference for work, or I would have responded to the Tribune. Since I couldn't, I thought I'd destroy debunk some of the myths by Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago here.

You do need to go read the whole article, I've only reprinted one entire item on his list of 10 to save space.


1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others

Or, scream that the other side is twisting their words, and is "intolerant" if they don't agree with the liberal point of view.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference.

Unless of course, that difference is you think something liberals believe in is wrong, then you are once again branded as intolerant, a bigot, or a racist. If you happen to be of a group the liberals are trying to "protect", you are then a sell out (See Bill Cosby)

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate.

As long as you agree with them. For instance, try counter protesting at a gay rights or "pro-choice" rally.

4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind.

Unless of course the subject is taxation, in which case liberals want you to be a subject of the government. The specific example given of "reproductive freedom" is also a joke to liberals. That freedom is ONLY if you are a woman, to liberals, after conception a man is nothing more than a means to either pay for an abortion or child support.

5. Liberals believe government must respect and affirmatively safeguard the liberty, equality and dignity of each individual.

In other words, what the majority of the country, county, state or city believes is irrelevant. If liberals believe someone deserves a different standard, they should get it.

6. Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate.

So much so that anything ever tried to change those programs, even to help people develop means to help themselves, instead of having the government support them have been opposed by liberals. Programs like the welfare reform of the 1990's, and Wisconsin's W2W program have proven their fears wrong, but they still peddle those same fears. They've been the stonewall that has kept the government from any meaningful reform of Social Security and Medicare, and will ultimately result in either the collapse of the programs or the economy.

7. Liberals believe government should never act on the basis of sectarian faith.

The truth is, they want no one to have faith in anything but the government, which has proven over and over that it doesn't deserve any. Whenever challenged to read the writings of the founders of the nation, and the constant reference to faith, liberals usually quiver, shake like jello, and try and change the subject.

8. Liberals believe courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties.

And the courts have proven adept, with liberal judges, to invent new liberties and rewrite history to come up with a reason for doing so. The Fourth Amendment's right to privacy in your home from the government somehow became a right to an abortion, and the list goes on ad-nausem.

9. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, for without such protection liberalism is impossible.

The problem with their thoughts on this is that they give more protection to the accused, those who violate that security, than they give "the people".

10. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, without unnecessarily sacrificing constitutional values.

To the point that they wish to extend our constituional values to those who want to see us destroyed.

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Oh Those Pesky Scandals

Seems that it's not only election season, but scandal season in politics. Over the last 10 days or so we've gotten to listen to the (endless) drone of the Foley affair, which has suddenly turned into a two party dance.

Evidently Democratic operatives have been shopping the five e-mails (not the instant messages) around to the media for nearly a year now, trying to get a story published about it, according to the Washington Post. This shouldn't come as a surprise, George Soro's funded CREW has been taking credit for giving them to the FBI, and bitching they didn't find them illegal.

Now the Democrats have other problems. Harry Reid is asking the Ethics Committee for advice on land sales (but not Abramoff cash). Evidently Harry can't figure out why folks would think it's sketchy to report a "private land sale" that occurred from a LLC he didn't own part of, but had sold the land to 3 years ago, and collect a million dollar check. And don't forget the part about the land being acquired through a government land swap Harry voted for in congress, there isn't anything fishy there, either.

And finally, here in the Midwest, Rod Blagojevich, Governor of Illinois had his top fund raiser indicted today for strong arming companies for millions in gifts, campaign donations and other favors, in return for investments from the Teacher's Pension Board.

Blago, as usual, is claiming not to know who "the certain public official" named in the indictment is. I'm sure many are speculating that it could be the great reformer who was going to clean up Illinois politics when elected in 2002, but we'll have to wait for Patrick Fitzgerald to name that person in another indictment.

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Here's An Idea

I got my laugh this morning reading the Washington Post story "Painting a Rosy Budget Picture", which probably should have been on the opinion page based on it's tone, but was put in the politics section.

The laugh came from Kent Conrad, Democrat from North Dakota, who complained that the budget numbers due this week area sham. You see the deficit will fall to $250 billion, from the estimated $512 Billion predecited two years ago. Mr. Conrad claims it's smoke and mirrors, because the Social Security surplus is included in those numbers. While he is correct in that assertation, the truth is, the $300 billion surplus that writers claim we'd have if we were still following the "Clinton policy" would be just as much smoke and mirrrors. That budget policy used the exact same math to come up with it's numbers.

Supply Siders and Kenysian's will argue until the end of time whether the Bush tax cuts were good for the economy or horrible for revenue (which is higher than ever), but here's an idea that most of the country would probably get behind.

Since, according to a number of leaders on the left the major problem with the economy is the wreckless spending of the last five years; something I tend to agree with; why not, as your election year promise, tell the voters you'll leave taxes untouched, and cut federal spending to balance the budget?

In fact, tell the voters you'd go back to 2003 levels of spending, pre Iraq war numbers, which based on the current budget and income numbers would give an immediate balanced budget.

There is of course a reason you won't hear this, because it can't be done. Too much of the "wreckless spending" has been earmarked junk for both sides of the aisle. To get the numbers down to 2003 levels, a lot of that pork would have to go away, and lawmakers aren't about to agree to kill funding to pet projects in their districts.

The other reason is "entitlement programs", the sacred cows of the budget naturally grow every year, Social Security and Medicare faster than others. Again going back to Mr. Conrad, the way we currently do the Federal Budget, Social Security receipts and outlays are included in the bottom line numbers. We'd have to freeze Social Security at the 2003 level to get to that balanced budget number.

In fact, to get to the 2003 levels, the Medicare prescription drug benefit that many democrats complain about, but 83% of Seniors have a favorable opinion of, would have to be scrapped. Anyone old enough to remember the 1980's "Catastrophic Cap" fiasco knows how well that would go over.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Dammit, Be Unilateral, Unless We Say Multi-Lateral

As usual, the Democrats are having personality issues. The bipolar portion of the left is on the surface again today.

For three years George Bush has been beat up for being too unilateral on Iraq; today he's getting beat up for not being unilateral with North Korea.

John Kerry and others have been all over the tube and sending out press releases complaining that six party talks; involving the neighboring countries to North Korea; are a bad idea. In other words, when and where we should be unilateral is no longer the President's decision, but the opposing parties, at least as evidenced by these two examples.

Of course, those same folks have some serious memory lapse issues when it comes to failed, and unilateral, policies with North Korea. Remember the previous administration offered just about every carrot in the fridge, cheap oil from Alaska, free food, lightwater reactors to generate power. And North Korea took them all, and under the cover of dark kept on developing their nuclear weapon.

The truth is, whether some like it or not, the neighboring countries (China, South Korea, Japan, Russia) need to be involved; the UN is involved only because they have nice conference rooms , they are useless otherwise. Those are the countries with tangibles to offer to withhold to Kim Il Jong and his band of robbers. We have nothing, other than a threat of force, that when it was mentioned a few years back brought similar guffaws from the peacenik crowd on the left.

One thing I noticed starkly lacking from any of the complaints today was any mention of the fact that North Korea is the country that has stalled the current talks to the point of motionlessness. Also missing, the fact that for over two years both China and Russia, as with Iran, have made it clear that they weren't ready for sanctions; both hold Security Council vetoes, so getting them by would have been tough. And finally, missing, is any mention of the fact that Jong has repeatedly said he won't negotiate with the US alone.

So maybe the answer is to go back to the head in the sand approach of the last administration, give away billions more in food and oil which will end up with the NK Army (again), and then wonder why they are launching more sophisticated missiles in 5 more years.


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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to The Lovely Wife, who has for some reason stuck around with me for 22 years now.

As the restaurant owner said tonight (because she chose his restaurant) "She is a wise and lovely woman", but, if you read the first sentence about being with me for 22 years, some may question wise, but never lovely.

Love you Babe.
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

STFU Mark!

For those who don't know that the title above means, it's Shut the F**K Up, Mark Foley.

I don't care if you were abused by a clergyman, you're a lush, or whatever. You screwed up, and trying to cover your tracks with the standard litany of excuses we hear from everyone else is unbecoming.

In fact, you could tell me you were gang raped by a pack of hyenas on the plains of Africa, and I still wouldn't consider it an excuse for hitting on teenage boys (or girls, for that matter). You did the right thing Friday when you resigned, you did the right thing when you checked into rehab. Now, pay attention in rehab when they tell it's NOT everyone else's fault, it's YOUR fault you are screwed up.

Now get on with what's left of your life, and take your medicine like a man.

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