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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tennessee Screws Poor with ID Requirement

Starting July 1st the state of Tennessee will begin a program that has no regard for the poor, and will probably disenfranchise some elderly, an ID requirement program will go into effect.

Don't worry though, it's not to vote, picture ID is only required for that in a few cases. No, this requirement is to buy a six pack of beer, regardless of age. So now, in Tennessee, regardless of age, or ability to pay for an ID, you need one for cold medicine and Budweiser, but you can still vote without it.

It amazes me that Governors who scoff at the idea of an ID to vote continue to sign laws that require them for any number of other things, not seeing the irony of their positions.

Technorati Tags: Tennessee, Beer, ID, Voting Rights
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Begging The GOP to Save Them

The Democrats in Wisconsin's State Senate this week pass the largest state tax increase in US history, 13 times larger as a portion of GDP than any other state. Now, they are hoping that the GOP controlled State Assembly will save them by scrapping their plan. They don't want to be saddled with the weight of their proposed tax increases come next year, but want to be able to say they tried.

Many Senate Democrats are touting the plan for universal health care (which is 15 billion of the increase) as a "savings" to the state of $2 billion, because no one (except those covered by union insurance plans, who are exempted) would have to pay premiums anymore. Here's the problem with that logic, most people don't pay 100% of their health insurance costs, nor do businesses currently pay (in most case) 100% for coverage of employees.

If right now that divide was 50/50, consumers would make out like bandits, kind of, and business would get crushed by an extra 7 billion in taxes. How does that equate, well the average yearly income in Wisconsin is $35,500 per year, so by pushing that extra cost to businesses to break even they'd have to cut 197,000 jobs, more than the number of people currently unemployed in the state.

Add to that the other few billion in business taxes in the Senate budget and what you have isn't a 'caring state taking care of it's people', but instead a wreckless fiscal policy that is sure to destroy the state economy.

So, what are the Assembly Republican's to do on this matter? They've vowed to kill most of the 18 billion in tax increases in the Senate budget, but should they? Would they be better off, politically, in the long run to have just enough of them vote "present" to allow it to pass, and then hand the bill to the Governor?

Jim Doyle has said he doesn't like the health care provision, and would rather increase funding to BadgerCare in a way to get 98% of the state insured, and probably at a lower cost. But would he risk alienating the Democrats who stood by his other tax requests?

My advice to the GOP is to kill it, even though it might look like a great way to get a huge wedge issue for the 2008 election. While Democrats will use the defeat as ammunition by saying republicans don't care about your health, the truth is, there may not be as much political gain as some think if they let it pass.

Michigan provides the prime example. That state's government has consistently enacted business unfriendly laws, and continues in a deep recession. Yet the residents keep re-electing Democrats to run the state.

Counting on the brains of the electorate to see through the feel good haze of universal health care and "punishing business" isn't a wise move, as Michigan proves. Instead, kill the Senate budget, and start over, for the good of the state.

Technorati Tags: Wisconsin, Budget, GOP, Democrats, Taxes, Michigan
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Important Point Missed by Critics

In yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling on use of race for determining school make up, many of the critics of the decision have used the phrase 'schools that are increasingly resegregating' (or some variation) as the basis of their opposition to the decision.

Hillary Clinton and other's in the Democratic race for the White House were the loudest with that criticism, but it misses a point, completely, about the decision, and the 'resegregation' of the schools.

When Brown v. Board of Education was decided schools were segregated by law, students were told you cannot attend School X due to the fact that you are black.

Today we do have resegregation happening in schools, but nearly all due to choice, people moving where they'd like, not where they are told. The problem with both the Louisville and Seattle plans that were the subject of the litigation was that they both said "You can't go to School X because of your race".

Whether some folks like the idea or not, Roberts was correct in writing for the majority:
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

That was the exact problem with both the Seattle and Louisville plans. Some folks seem uncomfortable with the idea of White as a race in these decisions, but the fact is, white is a race. When you tell a white person you can't go somewhere because you are, it's no less discriminatory than telling a black person they have to ride at the back of the bus.

The other point missed was that the schools weren't told race can never be used as a factor, but that their has to be a compelling reason to use it as a factor. In Seattle's case the compelling factor in denying a white child entry into a neighborhood school was that the school had to meet it's racial quote to have a balance of races like the city. That alone wasn't reason enough to the five justices, nor should it have been.

Justice Thomas probably hit it on the head in regards to Seattle's program, when he said of the dissenters in the case:

[they would]"constitutionalize today's faddish social theories . . . if our history has taught us anything, it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories."

Louisville's case had to be a little tougher for all the Justices, and may be why Kennedy's joining opinion left the door open for use of race, in a more limited manner.

That city had been under federal orders to desegregate based on past injustices. Unfortunately, the voluntary plan they came up with locked the door to a local school if it exceeded it's goal of your particular race, and forced you into another school that hadn't. While it was a white family that brought that case, many blacks in Louisville were forced into out of area schools because the local one had "too many of those people" in it.

Kennedy, in joining, gave districts a number of options for ways to achieve diversity in schools that would meet a constitution test. The question now is how many will throw their hands in the air and give up, and how many will become creative, instead of discriminatory.

Technorati Tags: Racism, Schools, Segregation, Supreme Court, Seattle, Louisville
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why I Don't Vote For Democrats

If there is any doubt whatsoever as to a Democratic agenda for the country should both chambers of Congress and the White House end up under their control next year it should have been erased this week by the state of Wisconsin.

The Democratic controlled State Senate voted to increase spending in the state by 23% over the next two years, raise taxes by 18 BILLION dollars, and put their (every so heavy) hand into just about every aspect of the citizens life.

While the GOP (nationally) did little in the last few years to prove they are fiscally prudent, what they didn't do is be proven complete wrecklessness, either. Yes, spending went up while they were in control, but so have revenues nationally (and in most states).

In Wisconsin, which is one of the few states still running a budget deficit, they've decided that the cure to any problem is of course, the government. In the real world, we've seen that lack of government is generally a better prescription.

As a resident of Illinois, I will have to applaud Wisconsin, should their State Assembly decide to pass the same budget. We'll have tons of jobs down here as companies scramble to escape from "tax hell". Plus, we'll have less residents who don't want to work, or can't get insurance. Both of those will be taken care of for them north of the border.

The truth of the Wisconsin budget battle is that it is actually more of a political ploy than actually trying to do many of the things outlined in the bill.

Would Democrats like to put a grossly unfair gross receipts tax on oil companies? Sure, but they'll be just as happy next year to claim 'Republican's blocked the Democrats in Wisconsin from taxing huge oil profits'.

Would Democrats like to provide universal health care, regardless of the obscene cost? Sure, but they'll be just as happy to say 'If you don't have medical coverage, blame the GOP, they blocked it'.

They'll never mention the cost of any of their ideas, or the consequences, because honestly, those don't sell them very well. Instead they'll continue to sell the idea of utopia on Lake Michigan, hoping the residents don't get smart enough to look 70 miles across the lake and see what overreaching by state government has actually done to Michigan.

Unfortunately, what the budget battle north of me is proving is that crass politics, and not the best interest of the people of the state are foremost in the eyes of the left. They don't actually want to pass half the stuff in their budget, they want it to fail so they can blame someone for that.

Technorati Tags: Wisconsin, Budget, Taxes, Government, Politics
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sicko Needs Prozac?

I've been reading reviews of Michael Moore's new film, "Sicko", which extols the virtues of a universal health care system, funded and run by the government.

The best of the reviews comes from Helen Evans, director of Nurses for Reform, a pan-European network of nurses dedicated to consumer-oriented reform of European health-care systems, and can be found in the Chicago Tribune. Another good, though not online review was in the News Sun, a local affiliate of the Chicago Sun Times.

Evans, and the News Sun critic both point out the missing pieces of Moore's film, the waiting lists in virtually every country with a nationalized health care system and the lack of many modern treatments and drugs available here.

Need an MRI in Canada, it's about 6 months. If you are too large, or claustrophobic for a standard machine, they have TWO open MRI systems now operating in the country (I know of 6 in the county I live in). Want to get some Aricept to help your father combat his Alzheimer's? Well, if you live in Britain, sorry, it's not an approved drug due to the cost.

As Evans points out, Britain has been loosening the reigns of government control on it's health care system because it's one of the worst in the industrialized world. Patients die after waiting days for "emergency" surgery in the NHS hospitals, or wait years for treatments that are routine in the US.

The other thing Moore misses is cost, which shouldn't be hard to figure, we spend $350 billion a year on Medicare and Medicaid. To think that somehow we'll increase the federal health rolls by over 1000 percent and not raise costs accordingly is foolish. The idea that Moore floats that "universal care" is free is a joke anyway, ask anyone in Europe or Canada paying a VAT or GST to cover it if that tax is "free".

As an example of the cost, Wisconsin's State Senate just passed a universal health care bill that would cost about 15.2 BILLION per year to cover about 5 million people. Using that rate as an example, a federal system to cover 350 million would then be about 1 TRILLION dollars a year! That equates to a 25% increase in federal spending per year (if you subtract Medicare/Medicaid's budgets) to fund the program.

The idea in Wisconsin is that by covering everyone medical costs will go down, since there will be less sick people. The problem with the idea is that it hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, they still go up, it just comes out of your pocket in a different way.

The second problem with the Wisconsin model, and most of the one's floated by presidential candidates is that they attract people, but not the businesses they want to screw tax to fund them. While such a plan may attract a lot of new residents, it will drive away a lot of existing businesses, leaving those that remain to try and pick up the cost. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how long they'll stick around.

Keep this quote from Helen Evans in mind when you are thinking that Universal Care is going to bring utopia to medicine:
"... the British government has found it hard to cover its expensive obligations. So in addition to waiting lists, substandard care and increased outsourcing, the government has adopted outright rationing to control costs."

When your kid has leukemia, what you want to hear is what treatment is available, not which one's aren't too expensive, to cure them. When your wife has breast cancer you don't want to be told that Herceptin costs too much, and a masectomy will have to do. But if you live in Britain those are the answers.

There is one positive thing that Moore probably sees in the British system, it allows for the owning of private insurance, and operation of private hospitals. So rich guys like him don't have to worry about those pesky lines and rationed drugs. That option is coming soon to Canada, too, as they've had their system declared unconstitution for restricting private insurance. Still want Universal Care?

Technorati Tags: Sicko, Michael Moore, Health Care, Wisconsin, Taxes
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Court Sense

Evidently judges are exercising common sense; well except on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where it's been outlawed as unfair to stupid people.

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment actually does apply, even during an election season; so long as you aren't running campaign ads. Okay, so they need a little more common sense to finish McCain-Feingold completely, but at least they've started.

The ruling is actually much more narrowly focused than some groups would have you believe. It did nothing to allow a direct attack ad during the last 60 days of a campaign. Instead, what they've said is you can mention a candidate, by name, during the 60 day "free from speech" window if you don't advocate voting for or against them. In fact, in the ruling Chief Justice Roberts gave a litmus test for how to interpret the ruling against McCain-Feingold:
"A court should find that an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate."
The issue came up because Wisconsin Right To Life ran an ad asking constituents to call Russ Feingold (of McCain-Feingold fame) and tell him to stop filibustering judicial nominees. They didn't say vote for or against him, just call and tell him to let judges get a vote. And they ended up in court for it, because it was within 60 days of the election.

Charlie Sykes points out that some folks are getting a little unhinged over the decision, specifically The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. They even quote Lincoln about the take over of the country by corporations. Never mind the quote wasn't from Lincoln, it was a forgery, they still use it to try and get shock value from the uneducated masses.

I found their overall critique of the ruling hillarious, this quote especially:
The court’s narrow majority has begun unraveling McCain-Feingold and has reopened the door to the dishonest sleight of hand special interests engage in
to evade disclosure requirements and limitations on campaign contributions. Today’s decision is a step back toward the time before the enactment of McCain-Feingold when special interests were deemed free to keep the public in the dark about who is paying for their federal electioneering in order to sidestep the national ban on corporate and labor union treasury donations.
Um, excuse me folks, but I'm sure that MoveOn.Org, Swift Boat Veterans, and other 527 groups, HAVEN'T released their donor lists yet. The idea that McCain-Feingold somehow brought the money out of the shadows isn't just a little stretch of the truth, it's a whopper of a lie! If anything McCain Feingold has made it harder to track where the money in politics comes from. When a donor the size of George Soros gave money to a campaign directly it was reported to the FEC. In the 527 world donor names aren't a requirement, just a basic cashflow statement.
In a less far reaching decision, Washington DC Judge Judith Bartnoth ruled that a dry cleaner does not owe $54 million dollars for a customer who wasn't satisfied, even though they had a "satisfaction guaranteed" sign in the window.
"A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands or
to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute,"

She awarded nothing to Roy Pearson, told him to pay the court costs (about a grand) and will rule separately on a request to have him reimburse the cleaners for their legal expenses. Hopefully she trebles the cost of that as damages, just to make the point to Judge Roy.

Technorati Tags: Supreme Court, Wisconsin Right To Life, McCain, Feingold, First Amendment, Dry Cleaners, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Whiffing On Energy

The Senate passed their "energy bill" this week, which does little to ween us off of foreign oil and gas, should increase inflation significantly, and will limit consumer choice. Of course it also has them all slapping each other on the back for a job well done.

The bill passed in the Senate raises fuel efficiency standards for all cars, light trucks, and SUV's to a "fleetwide average" of 35 mpg by 2020. The (formerly Big) three domestic automakers fought this one, and rightfully so on one count, putting trucks in the same category as cars. The idea of actually raising the standards isn't a bad one. The US producers have lagged the rest of the world for 3 decades on fuel economy.

How will this limit your choices? Fleetwide averages use the mileage and sales volume of every model built , and average the milage of them all.

Take Ford as an example, the F-150 doesn't meet the new CAFE standard, but is Ford's biggest seller. The Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra are the biggest selling pick up model around (when combined), and also fail to meet the standard. Under current rules they are in a separate category from passenger vehicles, with a lower fuel economy standard. That makes sense, they have a different use than passenger vehicles.

Because in both cases the number of trucks sold skew the CAFE data horribly the consumer is going to end up with a smaller choice of trucks and probably very few intermediate cars to chose from. In other words you can get a truck, or an econo box but not much else in just a few years.

The other option for the automakers is to eliminate "half ton" pickups, like the F-150 and GMC 1500's. Since they are considered "light trucks", with less than a GVWR of 8,500 lbs they will count against the new CAFE standards. However, the GMC 2500 and Ford F-250's don't count against the standard, so by increasing sales of them (by making other options unavailable) you raise your standard by default.

The other effect of this is of course on the profits of those automakers. Ford, GM, and Chysler all make their actual money on the truck and SUV lines, basically breaking even on the smaller cars that they have to increase the numbers of, unless they remove some trucks from the lineup.

Why doesn't this reduce foriegn oil dependency? Well, it might in the long term, when the full CAFE standards are in effect, and that is debateable based on how they meet the standards. In the short term, since the "energy bill" really contains no new domestic oil or gas production, we still have to get it from somewhere.

The bill also contains provisions making coal less attractive as a source of electricity. While it encourages renewable resources, they aren't efficient enough to meet increasing demands. That means more natural gas fired power plants, but we aren't allowing for increased domestic production of that resource. Watch your home heating bill go up because of that one.

The source of inflation is already being felt in food prices, it's ethanol. The Senate bill mandates a 7 fold increase in production of ethanol by 2020. The problem with this is of course corn prices, which are predicted to hit an all time high of $6 per bushel this year. For every bushel of corn diverted to ethanol you have to find a replacement for all of it's other uses, or find land to grow more corn on. Mexico has already seen up to 50% increases in the price of corn tortillas due to the amount of corn they've diverted to ethanol.

Brazil used to get derided for clear cutting rain forests for beef production. Now they do it to grow corn and saw grass for ethanol production. What forests should we get rid of to increase our ethanol output?

Technorati Tags: CAFE Standards, Energy, Oil, Gas, Vehicles, Gas Mileage, coal
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bad News for Diamond Jim?

"Diamond" Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin, may have heard some disheartening news today. It seems Dennis Troha, a BIG (like, illegally big) donor to the Governor has copped a plea in his federal case.

Jim, of course, sees the good side right now, nothing in the plea deal is worded in a way to make him give back any of the $200,000 in contributions Troha funnelled to him through his family over the last five years. The (supposed) reason for the money has been to get a casino approved for Kenosha, Wisconsin. Since the Governor is the only word, with no legislative oversight for gaming in the state, it's easy to see why Troha spent so much courting him.

What should be bothering Doyle is the fact that as part of the plea Troha is planning on cooperating with the feds in their continuing investigation.

When you look at the money Troha gave, $18,000 to Bush and the GOP, and $25,000 to Democrats other than Doyle since 2002, and then that $200,000 to Doyle, it's not hard to figure out where the "ongoing investigation" is probably looking.

Doyle will of course, until the end, deny that there is a "For Sale" sign at the door to the Governor's mansion, however, Troha could blow that idea out of the water. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but my guess is that it won't work well for the Governor.

Technorati Tags: Jim Doyle, Dennis Troha, Pay for Play, Wisconsin, Casinos
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Hooey? Not a very scientific term, but it's how Reid Bryson describes the theory that global warming is a man made problem, not a natural occurrence.

So, who is this Reid Bryson character? Another paid by the oil industry doubter, maybe a right wing hack? Actually he's an Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin, and known as "the father of scientific climatology".

The Capital Times of Madison has a great article up about Bryson's thoughts, and some folks who are unhappy with them.

Money is why Bryson believes that man made global warming all the rage these days.

From the Cap Times article:

So, if global warming isn't such a burning issue, why are thousands of scientists so concerned about it?

"Why are so many thousands not concerned about it?" Bryson shot back.

"There is a lot of money to be made in this," he added. "If you want to be an eminent scientist you have to have a lot of grad students and a lot of grants. You can't get grants unless you say, 'Oh global warming, yes, yes, carbon dioxide.'"

He continues, talking about the science, and lack of it, behind the theory, and how it's been twisted.

"There is very little truth to what is being said and an awful lot of religion. It's almost a religion. Where you have to believe in anthropogenic (or man-made) global warming or else you are nuts."

That isn't to say that he believes that none of the warming issues are man made, he just thinks the carbon theory is wrong. He cites data from Wisconsin showing temperature rises in the Milwaukee and Madison areas over the last 100 years, but no discernible rise in less populated areas of the state.
"The growth of cities makes it hotter, but that was true back in the 1930s, too," Bryson said. "Big cities were hotter than the surrounding countryside because you concentrate the traffic and you concentrate the home heating. And you modify the surface, you pave a lot of it."
If you think (in an unbiased manner) about what he's saying, and dig a little, it makes lots of sense. Look at the locations of NOAA's weather stations, the vast majority of reporting stations aren't in outlying areas from big cities, but in urban or semi-urban areas. The number of stations overtaken by sprawl has increased every year.

This January, at the 19th Conference on Climate Variability and change one of the displays was on the variability of readings from the Southeast US. Rural and semi-rural weather reporting stations there have trended towards cooling, while the urban stations have shown a warming trend. Evidently, it wasn't the first time this has happened:

The second part of this study is to research station dynamics, where stations are categorized in one of three sections: 1) urban, 2) small urban, and 3) rural. As has been shown in previous work, the southeastern United States has experienced varying trends for different categories: rural stations tend to show cooling trends while stations undergoing urbanization show warming. Other station aspects are also investigated, including changes in station location (latitude, longitude, and elevation) and changes in instrumentation. Many different factors regarding the station could influence the temperature data being recorded, thus giving the false impression that major climate changes are occurring.

Wait, that means that there are other scientists, besides Bryson, who must have doubts about the accuracy of the data. In fact, it seems their data confirms what he said above about Wisconsin's (lack of) climate change. How come we never hear about these doubts in the news, or Al Gore's movies? It's obvious from the above phrasing that they've talked about it before, but been ignored. Maybe their data is "an inconvenient truth"

It's good to hear someone of Bryson's stature take a stand on the junk science of global warming as all mans fault. It's too bad the Madison Capital Times, blogs, and talk radio are the only places you'll find his thoughts.
(H/T to Charlie for pointing this article out this morning)

Technorati Tags: Reid Bryson, Global Warming, Climate Change, Junk Science
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Barack Odumba?

It seems that things aren't so good for Barack Obama today. First, the Chicago Sun Times has an article claiming that Obama had over $168,000 raised for him by indicted political bag man Tony Rezko since the mid 1990's. A few months back the Senator's campaign pegged the number as "between 50 and 60 thousand dollars", and is sticking by that number, even though others are coming out and saying it was higher.

Then, he got bombed by the press over a memo questioning Hillary Clinton's ties to companies in India, with the headline "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)".

For quite a few months Obama has been getting wet sloppy kisses from the press, and passes on gaffes. But, as we are starting to see, the press would like a cat fight between the Obama and Clinton camps, and is going to work hard to start it. They also want to see how Sen. O will do during the campaign when faced with adversity and negative publicity, like the new Rezko story.

At some point, I'm sure they'll get sick of the stock line concerning Rezko and the donations he's solicited; "We've made our best effort to run the most ethical campaign possible in all ways and release donations when appropriate." At some point, and it's looking to be sooner than later, they'll start asking how there can be such a disparity between their accounting and that of others when it comes to his campaign cash.

This is the way the press will work in this election cycle, they are covering their own tails. Remember, in 2004 we had headlines way too early calling Howard Dean the next President, and then he fell apart, and the press had to figure out how to put lipstick on the pig that was John Kerry.

This time around they'd rather have the contenders and pretenders weened apart before the primaries start; lest their be another "scream".

Technorati Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Tony Rezko, India, Campaign,Howard Dean, 2008, John Kerry
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Your Money?

There are two great editorials in today's Wall Street Journal (online subscription needed).

In Earmarxists Sen. Tom Coburn talks about how Democrats in the Senate have blocked votes on the earmark reforms they campaigned on last year, and avoided conference committee meetings on the reforms that were enacted, but turned into a bill. He also reminds us that the party that was going to change the way earmarks worked, and bring openness to the process is now, lead by David Obey, going to keep 32,000 of them secret until conference committees meet; basically keeping the status quo from 2006.

An article in today's Washington Post says that small truce may have been reached, where only the first two spending bills will advance to the floor with out the earmarks attached. The rest will have to have earmarks attached (and markers names public) before they come to the floor, meaning they will be public.

The second piece, 100% Marginal Tax Rate, explains how at above certain income level next year you could actually pay more than $1 in taxes on each additional dollar you earn! It's not a joke, it's actually in the works in the House Ways and Means Committee. It's the "fix" for the Alternative Minimum Tax that if not repaired will hit about 63 million tax payers in an election year. The solution the Ways and Means folks have come up with is to jack taxes up high enough on 3 million folks that the others can be spared.

Both articles help to clarify the idea that the money you earn is "your money". It is, only if the government thinks you know how to spend it better than them. Since it's been obvious for years that they don't, it really isn't your money, it's Congresses, and if they get their way they will get more of it.

Technorati Tags: Taxes, Spending, Earmarks, Pork Barrel Spending, Congress, David Obey
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why We Hate Lawyers, Part 999

Roy Pearson is an administrative law judge in Washington D.C., who had a pair of pants lost at the cleaners. So now he's suing, for 57 MILLION DOLLARS, plus $425/hr in legal fees, to be paid to his lawyer, himself. The suit, he says, isn't over the pants, it's over the fact that they have a "satisfaction guaranteed" sign in the window, and he's not satisfied.

To be fair, he has lowered his origninal 65 million dollar claim.

The fact that this has gone to trial, when cleaners offered him a $12,000 settlement over a pair of pants from an $800 suit shows why we revile lawyers so much in this country. Taking the settlement and buying 10 suits of better quality than he had would make sense to normal folks. But to a lawyer that just doesn't work. Satisfaction evidently requires many more zeros on the check.

The judge in the case, Judith Bartnoff, gets a sloppy wet kiss from Marc Fisher of the Washington Post for "her remarkable work" in moving Pearson along in his rambling yesterday. What Fisher should have done is lambasted her for not ordering a summary dismissal as soon as the parties entered the court room.

Hopefully the jury is made up of fairly sane people, who see Pearson as a money grubbing scum, who's trying to play the system to get himself rich. My guess is he's doing this because the job of being an administrative law judge doesn't pay very well, and he's looking for a name to get himself a partnership somewhere. Is it too much to hope that the law firms in DC would see this as a shallow ploy, they are, of course filled with lawyers.

Technorati Tags: Lawyers, Washington, Cleaners, Pants, Roy Pearson
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

No, not that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, but instead that Reagn made his famous Brandenburg speech.

Here's the YouTube video of it, it's always worth a watch.

Technorati Tags: Ronald Reagan, Cold War, Soviet Union, Berlin Wall
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Celebrity Justice

Paris Hilton is back in jail, and the world is once again safe because a celebrity didn't get special treatment. Or did she?

I'm not a Paris Hilton fan. Like many, I got some pleasure at hearing her react to 45 days in jail as though she'd been convicted of murder.

However, I think she's a person who's famous strictly because of her name, and she's an embarrassment to the name. At the same time, I think some of the hysterics about her jail term, and early release are as overblown as her celebrity, regardless of my reaction to her reaction.

While Al Sharpton and many others have waxed indignant about the release of Hilton after 3 days because of "a medical condition", ABC radio news noted that most folks in LA County who go to jail for driving on a suspended license twice after a DUI get 1 night in the county jail, not 45, or 22, or 3.

Sherriff Lee Baca seems to be on Hilton's side, telling reporters that "The only thing I can detect as special treatment is her sentence." "The special treatment, in a sense, appears to be because of her celebrity status."

That's not necessarily a bad thing, celebrities are, like it or not, role models. So maybe they should get a little more time in lockup for minor offenses, so those who look up to them see the consequences more clearly.

At the same time, the rest of the news world should be reporting things in an apple vs. apple way. I happened to catch Headline News, CNN, and ABC TV reports the other night, all of which neglected to mention what ABC Radio did about the amount of time other offenders for the same thing served in LA County. Instead they all concentrated on the injustice of her being released early, even though the Sheriff noted that 10% of the sentences is all most non-violent traffic offenders serve because of overcrowding.

If you really need to be appalled by "celebrity justice" Tom Sizemore would probably be a better person to be pissed about. If Al Sharpton wants a good case to make on it, look at Sizemore's drug record, probation violation record, and amount of time spent in jail and compare that to some inner city kid. That is a case of celeb justice out of control; though it looks like Tom may (finally) be headed to San Quentin for his latest arrest.

Hilton, well she's just doing what she does best, getting publicity.

Technorati Tags: Justice, Jail, Paris Hilton, Tom Sizemore, Lee Baca
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

No Reason Whatsoever

I have no reason what so ever to post this picture...

For those who don't watch Dancing with the Stars, when it comes back in the fall, there's your reason, Kym Johnson. She must be a good dancer, she made Jerry Springer look talented for 7 weeks, last fall.

Have a nice night everyone. BTW, if you need more photos of the lovely Kym, check out FHM's site.

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David Broder has an interesting op/ed piece today, called "Candidates Lacking A Real-World Clue", while I don't agree with him 100%, I'd have to put it in the high 80's.

He doesn't just jab at the right or the left, but instead all 18 declared candidates for the White House. He beats on the left for their stance on Iraq that disregards real world consequences, and the right for ideas on preempitive use of nuclear weapons and immigration reform.

I pretty much agree with him 100% on his whacking of Hillary and Barrack on their Iraq votes, and I agree with him applauding Joe Biden for taking a stand on his recent one.

While I don't think that any option should be off the table for Iran and it's nuclear program, casual talk of preemptive nuclear strikes does make me wonder about the folks talking about it.

On the topic of immigration reform I've said openly I'd like to see the current bill passed; and now I'm wavering on that support, and thinking the GOP candidates who are also jumping ship are on to something. Broder sees it differently, and doesn't understand the what all the fuss is about.

The immigration reform bill is a 300 page document, and since I haven't had time to finish a Ludlum novel lately, reading 300 pages of legislation isn't exactly on the front burner. However, Senator Jeff Sessions appears to have read it, and has 20 things that should worry people about the bill (h/t Charlie). After reading his points, I'd say kill it or amend it to death.

I'm wondering if Broder has read those 20 things yet, if he has and it doesn't bother him, and he still wants it passed, I'd say that's the 20% of his column I disagree with.

One thing David does forget is that it's still primary season. Candidates are talking to their base much more than the population in general, which explains a lot of the red meat rhetoric. However, all that rhetoric is on tape, or in the Congressional record to come back during the general election season.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

15 Percent

15 Percent isn't a big number. In baseball terms, .150 as a batting average would probably get you sent to the minors, unless you are a pitcher. A .150 winning percentage means, well, you are a loser. 15 Percent is really only a good number if it's your return on investment on something.

So, why does the media spend so much time on the idea of getting out of Iraq, when only 15% of the folks who answered an ABC News/Washington Post poll think it's the right thing to do?

That's a weird number, when you look at the rest of the poll, 61% say the war isn't worth fighting, but evidenly three quarters of them think we should stay anyway.

The reason for all the attention to, and love of, a withdraw is easy, the 15% are the "squeaky wheel". They are the folks who made the most noise for Democrats to control Congress and get us out of Iraq. That same group is the group making the most noise since the funding bill without a withdraw date was passed.

That group has declared "the surge" in Iraq a failure, but ignore a few realities about it; General Petreus made a statement yesterday (which I heard on the radio and can't find the reference to) about the state of the surge. Basically he reminded the report that he doesn't even have all the troops yet, that will be a few more weeks. He went on to tell them that in September, when he goes back to Congress they (the reporter) can have an update, since most of the major operations planned for the surge haven't even occurred yet.

To listen to that 15% though and their media mouthpieces, you'd think that all the troops had been there since the day after the surge was announced, and it's been a failure. The truth is, it hasn't really even started yet.

15% is a small number, and a small group. One we should probably stop listening to for the next few months, and instead listen to the folks who actually have a clue, like Petreus.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mr. Jefferson is Movin' On Up....

The title of course, refers to the old 1970's tv show "The Jeffersons", where George and Louise (Weezee) moved on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky. However, I'm talking about Mr. William Jefferson, D-La, who's probably movin' on up to a big house, or more appropriately, "The Big House".

Yes, a 16 count indictment was returned on "Cool Cash" Jefferson yesterday (you remember the 90 grand in his freezer, right?), that could land him in the slammer for up to 200 years!

His lawyers are claiming he never provided legislation for money, but that isn't a requirement for finding someone guilty of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, or bribery and racketeering. What he did allegedly do was use the contacts he gained from being on the African and Nigerian trade caucuses in the House to figure out who to bribe for business ventures in Africa.

He's already had two of his associates in the scam sentenced, so the idea he will be too isn't too far fetched, especially since they are cooperating with the feds.

I'll give credit to Nancy Pelosi, who's already talking tough on how to handle Jefferson, though pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus could be a problem for her. For the CBC, if they need a reminder of the type of bad things that happen by letting indicted folks hang onto big jobs, just keep Bob Ney and Tom DeLay in mind. They were used as whipping boys for the "culture of corruption" election tag line that worked so well last year.

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Other Political News

Two notes I wanted to put up from the politics section of the paper this morning.

The first, Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas, a Republican, lost his fight with leukemia late yesterday and passed away, he was 74. He was just re-elected for his third term in the Senate, he won his first in a special election in 1989 to replace Dick Cheney who was appointed Secretary of Defense under Bush 41.

Wyoming has a slightly different way of replacing departed federal lawmakers than other states. Instead of the governor having a free choice of who to appoint, the party the lawmaker represented presents a slate of three possible replacements for the governor to chose from. So even though there is a democratic governor picking the replacement, there won't be a shift of numbers in the Senate.

The second thing I noted was the new ABC News Washington Post poll that shows Congress's approval rating down to 39%, off five points since April. Liberal Democrats and independents opposed to the war in Iraq seem to be the folks fueling the drop in satisfaction.

Democrats are now finding out something they forget in their 12 years out of leadership in Congress; the public is finicky, and being in charge is tougher than being the obstructionist opposition.

My other take on it is that the majority of the public still thinks instant action is possible on complex things like Iraq and oil prices. We've gotten too used to 24 hour new cycles being the end of the story, and now we're bored with both of those and want something to replace them.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Dennis Byrne; Dissing Al Gore

Dennis Byrne's latest column in the Chicago Tribune is serious slap at Al Gore. "Scary thought: Al Gore could be in charge" supposes that if Gore had been elected in 2000 we'd be a less safe place, with many more missing buildings from Islamofascist attacks, a war between Syria and Israel, and a brewing nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq, $8.35 a gallon gas and 9% unemployment.

I'm not sure Byrne is right on every count in his op/ed indictment of Gore, but I'm sure he's probably closer to the truth than fiction with lots of it.

Having listened closely to Gore in 2000, and since, I too am convinced that the aftermath of 9/11 would have been much different had he been in charge, and we would be less safe. Now, both Byrne and I could be wrong. Gore has the ability; as do all but one person in the world; of seeing things not through the eyes of the President, but instead of an outside critic. Maybe, had he won the Oval office in 2000, Gore would have had his perceptions of the world changed by 9/11 in a different manner. However, I don't think he would have, the reactions of the previous administration during things like the 1993 WTC bombing, and various other terror attacks makes me side with Byrne.

I'm sure that Gore supporters will hammer Byrne over his commentary, claiming as folks have for 6 years that somehow "we are to blame" and had Gore been elected 9/11 wouldn't have occurred. Those folks are blind, (along with deaf and dumb), they ignore that terrorists were attacking the US and it's interests long before the 2000 election. It just makes them feel better about losing to say that it's Bush's fault.

Go ahead and read Byrnes column, also available at his blog, and let me know what you think.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why We Won't Let Them Fight...

Brigid Schulte of the Washington Post has an interesting, but easy to answer question, as the premise of an article today. "Why Won't We Let Them Fill the Ranks" wonders why we don't allow illegal immigrants to join the military openly. She waxes poetic about poor Jonathon, here illegally since he was 11 and only wants to serve his new country. It's a nice, touching spin, designed to keep the reader from asking tougher questions on her premise.

The easy answer to her question is security, and there is an excellent example of it being played out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin right now. There, a three year veteran of the police force, known as A. Morales is being detained by federal immigration authorities. Evidently at 14 he assumed the identity of a cousin who died of cancer, but was a legal immigrant. That allowed him to come to the US and live for the last 10 years.

A background check was conducted, but because the cousin died outside the US, there was no record of it, so Morales was able to get by that portion of it. The police department had no clue what was going on until Immigration officials arrested their officer.

Now consider allowing thousands to join the military, when you can't do a complete background check on them, no way to verify their identity, criminal background, or past ties. Even legal immigrants from many countries are limited to what they can do in the military due to those issues.

Consider that over half the folks who are currently blowing themselves, and others up in Iraq and for the Palestinian cause are of the age that would be prime to join the military and you can see where not being able to check someone's past is a bad idea. All a terrorist group would have to do is go recruiting with wads of cash in third world countries, train some older teenagers, then smuggle them in. Let them join the military, and suddenly a Fort Dix type attack is carried out from the inside, instead of by guys delivering pizzas.

Sorry, Brigid, but just for security reasons, we shouldn't be letting illegals join the military. Put all the "poor Jonathon" spin you want on your story, but it's a dangerous idea.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

That's What Elections Are For

E.J. Dionne Jr., my favorite Washington Post punching bag once again has forgotten how our system works. I should be happy that he is apparently so concerned for our system of government that he wrote today's column "Debating In Parallel Universes"; except he's forgotten how our electoral system works.

You see E.J. is very concerned about the split in priorities that Pew pointed out in an April poll. Evidently he was shocked to learn that folks on the left and right have differing priorities for the country. I guess he doesn't pay as much attention to politics as an op/ed writer should.

The poll he references showed that domestic issues are the number one concern of a majority of Democratic voters, while national security and foreign affairs top the Republican list. He wonders how we can possibly elect someone to fathom that divide. Well, E.J., we've been doing it for better than two centuries now, and it hasn't proven to be that tough.

I'll simplify it for him since he doesn't seem to get it. We have two sets of elections, one is a primary, where the party faithful chose the man or woman they think will do the best job of representing their interests in office.

Then we have a general election, where those folks try and convince both sides that they can juggle both their party's priorities, and the concerns of the folks across the aisle. The one who does the best job of convincing wins.

The fact is, who ever we elect will immediately have at least a portion of the other side ticked off; that's a good thing, it generally keeps politicians somewhat honest. The last six years has been an at time exhasperating demonstration about that. George Bush has been honest about what he's going to do, got elected twice by saying it, and definitely ticked off the majority of the other side of the debate.

The biggest problem I have with the current President might be that his style will convince other people running for office to be less honest about how they'll do things. Because of the way his poll numbers look; which is a big driver for too many politicians; others may think being less open about how you are going to do things is a better idea. It's not, it's just better for poll numbers.

Summing it up for E.J., yes, there are political divides in the country. They may seem bigger now than ever, but I think that is as much a product of the folks in the media as it is of reality. In fact we've always had huge political disconnects in the country, and we always live through them. No need to worry about it, just let the process work.

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