Boots And Sabers

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Scott Walker To Run For Governor

Scott Walker To Run For Governor

I know that this won’t come as a shocker, but Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is going to announce his bid for governor next week.  I received a call from his campaign inviting me to the announcement, but I suspect that they won’t officially confirm anything until the actual announcement.  I admit that I’m struggling a bit here.  As many of you know, it looks like Mark Neumann is also planning on getting into the race.  Neumann was a congressman a decade ago and was defeated by Russ Feingold.  He has a good conservative record and is independently wealthy due to his hard work and ingenuity.  Normally, I am a strong supporter of rigorous primaries (much to the lament of many of my cohorts), but in this case, I’m not so sure.  Walker doesn’t have anything to prove.  He has walked the walk in the belly of the beast of liberal Milwaukee County.  He’s proposed flat budgets and vetoed tax increases (although he’s been overridden a number of times).  This year, it looks like Milwaukee County will end the year with a surplus - even in this economy.  He’s been reelected twice.  Walker provides a welcome contrast to Doyle’s massive budget deficits and tax increases.  At the same time, Neumann is not a bad guy.  As I said, he has a good record.  The problem is that he hasn’t been in office for a decade.  It was easy to be a conservative in Congress during the 90s, but we haven’t seen what he would do in this kind of environment.  On the other hand, he has a lot of money and access to a lot of money.  The reality is that it will take a LOT of money to defeat Doyle WEAC, trial lawyers, labor unions, etc… I’m a big fan of both Walker and Neumann, but I’m also a big fan of ousting Doyle.  I’ll be attending the Republican Convention as both a delegate and member of the media.  It will be interesting to see the mood of the party faithful.  Also, I’ll be a panelist on the Sunday media panel.  Hope to see some of you there!

JFC Passes Seat Belt Measure.  Republicans Sit on Thumbs.

JFC Passes Seat Belt Measure.  Republicans Sit on Thumbs.

This ticks me off. The Legislature’s budget committee on Thursday agreed with Gov. Jim Doyle’s plan to let law officers statewide stop vehicles if they suspect passengers are not wearing seat belts. A 14-1 vote of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee added the change to the proposed 2009-‘11 state budget, which the full Legislature will vote on this summer. The Legislature is expected to agree to it, however. If the change becomes law by July 1, state government stands to get between $15 million and $18 million more in federal aid - money it desperately needs to close budget shortfalls. The committee also voted to keep the forfeiture for seat-belt violations at $10. Doyle had recommended raising it to $25. If it becomes law, Wisconsin would join the 26 other states that, as of March, let law officers conduct traffic stops for potential seat-belt violations. I am a HUGE believer in seat belts.  I always wear mine and our cars never move until everyone is buckled.  The statistics are overwhelming regarding how much seat belts protect people from serious injuries and death in the event of an accident.  BUT… It’s a matter of choice.  If I choose to be a moron and not wear a seat belt, I’m only potentially harming myself.  I am also a strong supporter of allowing insurance companies to reduce claims for people who don’t wear a seat belt.  For example, if I go through my windshield because I refused to wear my seat belt, I have no problem with my insurance company refusing to pay for the injuries that I would not have reasonably sustained had I been buckled.  But again… it’s a matter of choice.  Liberty doesn’t mean the freedom to make good decisions.  It also means the freedom to make stupid decisions and generally be a nincompoop.  If an officer sees a person driving down the street without a seat belt on, there are far better uses of his or her time than taking 20 minutes to ticket the person.  Furthermore, this is just disgraceful: A 14-1 vote… There are FOUR Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee.  What the hell good are they if they can’t even make a symbolic vote to support liberty?  And then there’s this: Republicans failed to strip from the governor’s budget changes that would delete a 3.8% limit on teachers’ pay and benefit increases, raise standards for private Milwaukee-area schools that participate in the choice program, authorize regional transit associations and require vehicle owners to buy more insurance coverage. On a 12-3 vote, the committee voted to keep those items in the proposed 2009-‘11 state budget. 12-3?  12-3!?!?!?  I can’t find the vote tally, but it looks like one of those three might have been Democrat Mark Pocan.  Regardless, there should have been AT LEAST FOUR votes against keeping the repeal of the QEO in the budget.  First, it is a policy item - not a budget item - and should be considered separately.  Second, it will result in an explosion of teacher compensation and the taxes to fund them.  Again I ask, if the Republicans can’t manage to even put forth a symbolic vote on this, what the hell good are they?  I fear that too many of the Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are going to content themselves with eating the crumbs the Democrats let fall off of the table.  If they refuse to actually stand for some principles - especially when it is easy because they are in the minority - then they will be in the minority for a long, long time.  I sure as hell won’t support Republicans who can’t even pretend to be less liberal than the Democrats. 

Pics From Madison Tea Party

Pics From Madison Tea Party

These were taken by Ed Picchi. 

Johnson Controls to Build Battery Plant in Michigan

Johnson Controls to Build Battery Plant in Michigan

It’s pretty bad when Wisconsin is losing business to Michigan. Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) on Tuesday announced that it will open its first U.S.-based production facility for lithium-ion batteries in Holland, Mich., which will create 500 jobs using $148.5 million in Michigan tax credits and incentives. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a package of tax credits to a group of four makers of batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. Glendale-based Johnson Controls, through its battery joint venture with France-based Saft SA, won a package of tax incentives valued at $100 million and another $48.5 million in other Michigan state incentives, said Mary Ann Wright, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft venture. It will renovate and retrofit an existing Johnson Controls manufacturing site in Holland at a cost of $220 million, the company said. It will have an initial capacity of 15 million lithium-ion cells. Wright emphasized that Johnson Controls remains committed to keeping its battery engineering, research and development at the joint venture’s hybrid-battery engineering labs in Glendale, adjacent to the corporation’s international headquarters.

The Use of Fees Is Exploding

The Use of Fees Is Exploding

It used to be. But last July, Winter Haven became one of a few dozen cities in the country to start charging “accident response fees.” The idea is to shift the expense of tending to and cleaning up crashes directly to at-fault drivers. Either they, or their insurers, are expected to pay. Such cash-per-crash ordinances tend to infuriate motorists, and they often generate bad press, but a lot of cities are finding them hard to resist. With the economy flailing and budgets strained, state and local governments are being creative about ways to raise money. And the go-to idea is to invent a fee — or simply raise one. Ohio’s governor has proposed a budget with more than 150 new or increased fees, including a fivefold increase in the cost to renew a livestock license, as well as larger sums to register a car, order a birth certificate or dump trash in a landfill. Other fees take aim at landlords, cigarette sellers and hospitals, to name a few...

Harvesting Sperm From the Dead

Harvesting Sperm From the Dead

What do you think of the ethics of this? Nikolas Colton Evans had talked about how much he wanted to have a child, but the 21-year-old died after he was punched and hit his head on the ground in a fight. That would have been the end of it, if it weren’t for his determined mother, a court order and a urologist. Missy Evans has harvested her dead son’s sperm and hopes to find a surrogate and one day raise her son’s child. It’s a decision that ethicists say raises troubling questions; one called the potential offspring a “replacement child.”...

Laptops Stolen From MATC

Laptops Stolen From MATC

Seems there’s a security issue.  A total of 31 laptop computers have been stolen from Madison Area Technical College since the start of 2009, said Jim Bottoni, chief of security for the college’s district. [...] Bottoni said the estimated replacement value is $1,300 per laptop, meaning thieves have stolen more than $40,000 worth of computers from MATC since January. Only two of the reported missing or stolen laptops were owned by students, said Bottoni, with the other 29 being owned by the MATC district. “For the most part, these are not students who are being careless,” said Bottoni. “We’ve hammered very hard with our students, because that’s who we’re serving, about how to secure their property. But unfortunately some of our employees are not as conscious.” Perhaps they should start making employees pay for the stolen laptops if the employee failed to secure it.  That should encourage them to practice some common sense security precautions. 

Priorities

Priorities

The Superintendent of MPS makes his priorities pretty clear in light of the study that shows that his district is wasting $103 million just through bad business practices.  Notice that his priority is to work with the unions and then, if he gets around to it, to be fiscally responsible.  Take care of the union first.  Be fiscally responsible second.  Yeah, that’s pretty much how it’s been.  Hat tip Badger Blogger.

Keep Wisconsin’s spring elections

Keep Wisconsin’s spring elections

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online.  It’s called, “Keep Wisconsin’s spring elections.”  In it, I argue against a bill in the legislature that seeks to do away with our spring elections and move them to the November ballot.  Here’s a sample:  The right to vote also includes the right not to vote. By and large, the people who take the time to vote for a given election are also the most informed on the candidates and issues involved. The people who don’t vote do so because they either don’t feel comfortable casting an uninformed vote or don’t care about the outcome of the election. Either way, our Republic is better served when only informed and interested voters turnout.   I would further note that voters and nonvoters are not universal groups. People waft back and forth between voting and not voting depending on the election and their interests. But that’s also part and parcel of being a free people.   The other problem with moving the spring election to November is the reality of campaigning. If you turn on the television or radio today, you will see and hear ads for candidates in these races. If you open your newspaper, you’ll read news stories and editorials and even see some paid ads for candidates. In your mail, we’ve all seen fliers and campaign literature. Yes, we all get a bit annoyed by all of it, but this is how the candidates tell you about themselves so that you can make an informed choice.   Now remember back to last fall during the waning days of the presidential campaign. Our world was saturated by Barack Obama and John McCain. They were everywhere. On television commercials, television news, radio talk shows, newspapers, campaign literature, phone calls, and on and on and on. EVERYWHERE. In such an environment, it would be impossible for an aldermanic candidate, school board candidate, judge or any of the local issues to rise above the fray.   The result would be more people casting ballots on races that fewer of them know anything about. Instead of voters turning out to make informed decisions about the makeup of their local governments and deciding on the direction of their communities, more people would cast a vote at the top of the ballot and be to the point of choosing randomly by the time they got to the third page. It would be a disservice to the important local issues facing us to bury them at the end of a ballot.

Paul Ryan Presents Budget Proposal in Weekly Radio Address

Paul Ryan Presents Budget Proposal in Weekly Radio Address

It’s a heck of a lot better than the monstrosity of a budget blueprint that the House passed last week.  “The budget House Republicans offered gives Americans a real choice,” said Ryan, top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “It curbs spending, creates jobs and controls the debt. “American families are making sacrifices and tightening their belts. Washington should do the same.” Ryan said Republicans are trying to do just that. “The Republican budget has lower deficits than the Democratic plan every year, and by 2019, has half the deficit proposed by the president. Under our plan, the public debt would be $3.6 trillion lower than President Obama’s plan.” [...] “The president’s budget, which passed the House and Senate this week, will make the crisis much, much worse,” he said. “Rather than getting spending under control, it sends spending out of control. Rather than keeping taxes low to create jobs, it chases ever-higher spending with ever-higher taxes and results in ever-higher debt — an unprecedented, unsustainable increase in red ink. It doubles our national debt in five years and triples our debt in 10 years.”

Badger Middle School Tour Scheduled for Thursday

Badger Middle School Tour Scheduled for Thursday

If you’re interested... West Bend School District residents will have a second opportunity to take a tour of Badger Middle School.   The district has announced that a second tour will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m.   Badger Middle, 710 S. Main St., previously hosted a breakfast presentation, tour and question-and-answer session on March 20 as part of the district’s seven community open houses in conjunction with the two-question, $68.8 million referendum scheduled for the spring ballot on Tuesday, April 7.   This event will be a tour-only for those residents who were unable to make the first open house.   “We had several requests for some additional tour time,” West Bend Superintendent Patricia Herdrich said. “(Principal) Ted (Neitzke) has an event (parent-teacher conferences) going on that evening, and he said he would be happy to host tours in conjunction with that event.”   Residents interested finding out more about the tour should contact the district’s public information coordinator, Amy Swanson, at 335-5459.

Alleged Illegals in Washington County Kill Three People

Alleged Illegals in Washington County Kill Three People

I hope that the authorities will also take a hard look at the employer here. A 42-year-old Richfield man, his 9-year-old son and a 12-year-old girl from another family were killed Sunday morning when the SUV they were riding in was hit by a truck that slid across a snow-covered road in Washington County. The man’s 40-year-old wife, two of their children and the 12-year-old girl’s 11-year-old brother suffered serious injuries and were taken to hospitals, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The three men who were in the one-ton flatbed truck were not injured...

GM’s CEO Steps Down At Obama’s Request

GM’s CEO Steps Down At Obama’s Request

It’s kind of a scary day in America when the POTUS is making personnel decisions for American companies. DETROIT – General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry...

School Referenda Background Data a Little Sketchy

School Referenda Background Data a Little Sketchy

I wrote my column for Tuesday. It’s about the upcoming school referenda in West Bend and the school board election. In the process of writing the column, a couple of anomalies jumped out at me. First, there’s this… the school district’s publications regarding the referendum consistently list the district’s mil rate as $6.77 per $1,000 of equalized value. That appears to be an old number because they increased the levy 7.6% to a mil rate of $6.92 just last September. Apparently, they haven’t had the time to update their stuff. ..

Obama Deemphasizes Democracy in Afghanistan

Obama Deemphasizes Democracy in Afghanistan

Well, no wonder Karzai likes the new stance. Last December, when President Bush appeared in Kabul with Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, he stated that one of the top priorities of the U.S. is “to build a flourishing democracy as an alternative to a hateful ideology…It’s difficult because extremists refuse to accept the beauty of democracy. They’ve got a different vision, and so therefore they’re willing to kill innocent people to achieve their objectives.” Yesterday, when President Obama announced his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he made no such declaration...

“Who was second?”

“Who was second?”

Awesome. DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Well Armed ran away with the $6 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday and claimed the richest prize in horse racing in an upset that left the favorites deep in the pack. The 14-length victory — nearly double the record Dubai World Cup margin set last year by Curlin — was so comfortable that jockey Aaron Gryder patted the 6-year-old gelding’s neck 10 strides before the finish. “This horse really showed everyone in the world how good he is,” Gryder said, then asked: “Who was second?”

Russia To Build Six New Advanced Submarines

Russia To Build Six New Advanced Submarines

Russia is in the midst of a military build up. Russia will build at least six nuclear-powered submarines with long-range cruise missiles for its navy, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told the Itar-Tass news agency. The missiles can potentially carry low-capacity tactical warheads, the news agency reported Friday...

Crook Robs Cop at Police Summit

Crook Robs Cop at Police Summit

Moron. A man in the US state of Pennsylvania accused of a robbery at a narcotics police convention has been described as probably the state’s dumbest criminal. Retired police chief John Comparetto was attending the meeting of 300 officers when he was allegedly held up at gunpoint in the men’s toilets. He handed over money and a phone but then he and some colleagues gave chase as the suspect tried to flee in a taxi. They arrested a 19-year-old man over the incident near Harrisburg.  

Moral War Revisited

Moral War Revisited

I was searching for an old post about another subject (I still haven’t found the darn thing) and came across a post about the morality of war from five years ago. Hey, we have almost 15,000 posts and things get lost in the shuffle sometimes. In any case, here was my basic premise: It seems to me that once a state of war exists, the only moral way to fight it is to employ the best weaponry and tactics to bring about victory while minimizing casualties on your side. In other words, the debate shouldn�t be about what weapon was used to kill the enemy, but rather was it the best weapon to use and was the target a tactically and/or strategically sound one...

Obama Supporters Dominate Q&A

Obama Supporters Dominate Q&A

Politics as usual. While any member of the public with an Internet connection could submit a question for the event, the five identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room shared commonalities. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union; a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama in the Hispanic community during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Doyle Seeks To Obey

Doyle Seeks To Obey

Doyle admits his failure at leadership and desire to have taxpayers from other states pay for his inability to balance a budget. Doyle wasted no time as soon as it became clear Democrats would have an ally in the White House to move forward with an economic stimulus plan. The day after Barack Obama was elected president, Doyle flew to Wausau to talk to Obey about the looming state deficit and the need for a stimulus package...

Sign of the Times

Sign of the Times

Meh. The agency that owns the space where the World Trade Center towers stood is freeing itself of the term “freedom” to describe the signature skyscraper replacing the buildings destroyed on September 11, 2001. The change from Freedom Tower was revealed Thursday at a news conference where the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced the signing of the first commercial lease in the building to a Chinese company. The building is expected to be completed in late 2013...

Sheridan Appoints Task Force

Sheridan Appoints Task Force

Few thoughts... Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan is calling together a bipartisan task force of lawmakers and others to study foreclosures in Wisconsin. Sheridan announced the 22-member task force on Thursday. It includes representatives of the banking and lending industries and community advocacy groups, as well as both Republican and Democratic state representatives.

Porn in the West Bend Library

Porn in the West Bend Library

I attended a meeting this evening regarding the inappropriate pornographic material in the West Bend library. I admit that I’ve been a bit tepid on this issue, but I’m off the fence now.  Basically, there are a bunch of books in the 11-17 year-old section that have explicit passages about sexual acts.  Until the meeting, I was uninformed as to how explicit they were.  But frankly (if you are under 18, please click away now) I was a bit shocked to hear passages from these teen books referring to “sucking dick,” “anal sex,” and “how to give a great hand job.”  Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a prude and I am not personally offended by these subjects, but I certainly don’t think they are appropriate for a 14-year-old to be reading about on their own.  Against my better judgment, I got up and spoke a bit.  I was unscripted, so I’m sure I sounded like a complete idiot, but that isn’t anything unusual.  My basic point was that they aren’t talking about banning anything.  They are only talking about reclassifying the books for adults.  I completely support that.

Assembly Passes Residential Real Estate Change

Assembly Passes Residential Real Estate Change

This is a bad bill and will hurt homeowners.  The history of this stems back to last year when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the economic loss rule applies to residential real estate sales.  Basically (yes, the lawyers in the audience will yell at me for boiling it down this much) the economic loss rule means that the contract holds supremacy instead of tort law.  So, if you have a problem with a real estate sale, you can only sue based on violations of the contract.  In real terms, this is huge.  If real estate sales are subject to the contract, then it limits the liability of the parties involved to actual economic loss.  For example, if you buy a home and find out that the seller failed to tell you about a basement water issue that resulted in some mold, then you could sue the seller for the cost to repair the problem and clean it up.  If the same problem was subject to tort law, then the buyer could sue the seller for the actual costs of fixing the problem PLUS punitive damages.  So the seller might sue for the $10,000 to fix the problem plus an additional $150,000 in punitive damages.  Putting the real estate sales under tort law would result in a substantial increase in risk for the sellers.  If you sell your house, there wouldn’t be any guarantee that the seller doesn’t come back and sue you for a million dollars years after the sale.  The logical reaction would be to either increase the price of the home to offset the risk of selling it, or for insurance companies to create a new product to cover it (or just use an umbrella policy).  As the law is today, there’s nothing to prevent a buyer from recouping the costs of a fraudulent seller.  Everybody can be made whole under current law.  By putting residential real estate sales under tort law, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers and those buyers who want to try to cash in. 

Rep. Zepnick is an Idiot

Rep. Zepnick is an Idiot

I’m sorry, there’s just no getting around that fact.  Rep. Zepnick beat down a college kid at a budget hearing regarding the proposal to give illegal aliens in-state tuition in Wisconsin.  Listen to his call to Charlie Sykes.  Clearly, this man is either a complete idiot or is a complete fraud.  I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and classify him as an idiot.  This is a good lesson for those of you who want to hand these buffoons more control of your lives.  NEWSFLASH: getting elected to office does not make one smarter or more insightful.  The average legislature represents a cross-section of society and idiots are well represented. 

Fast Tracking Socialism

Fast Tracking Socialism

If we’re going to have a massive overhaul of health care in the U.S., shouldn’t we at least have a healthy debate about it?  Apparently not... WASHINGTON – Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated Wednesday he’s willing to move sweeping health care legislation through the Senate with a procedural maneuver that would block a GOP filibuster. The prospect of the controversial tactic has already ignited Republicans’ ire, and key Senate Democratic chairmen have said they don’t want to do it. Reid, D-Nev., took a different position on a conference call with reporters. “I think it’s something we need to consider,” Reid said.

Evers Caught Using Taxpayer Resources for Campaign Fundraising

Evers Caught Using Taxpayer Resources for Campaign Fundraising

Go check out Badger Blogger for the details.  On February 28th, Mark Belling broke a story that one of the candidates for the State Department of Public Instruction had a highly placed DPI bureaucrat, Jeff Dickert was sending out campaign and fund raising emails on behalf of the establishment’s candidate Tony Evers from his official state email account, something that is so clearly illegal, that Dickert himself asked that his actions be investigated. Citizens for Responsible Government also filed a complaint. Today, as a result of the Open Records Requests issued by Belling, he reported that the DPI candidate himself asked that this illegal action be done on his behalf. More details and reaction from the Fernandez campaign follows…

Milwaukee to Madison Boondoggle

Milwaukee to Madison Boondoggle

Chris at the Badger Blog Alliance points out some uncomfortable facts about Governor Doyle’s train fetish.  Diamond Jim is trying to get the Feds and their magic print them as we need them dollars to pick up the whole $519 Million dollar tab for the project. Which would link Milwaukee with Madison with a 110mph rail line. According to the DOT you would be able to get to Madison from Milwaukee 20 whole minutes faster than if you drove. That works out to $25,950,000 for each minute saved. What a bargain! But it gets better guess where the train will let you off in Madison? Wait for it the Madison Airport which is very close to ...... well almost nothing. So after riding the Choo Choo you would have to ride a bus to get to the Capital Square or the UW Campus isn’t that just wonderful. What is it with you Socialists why do you insist on building your stupid mass transit systems so they do not go near places where normal people would actually want to go?

Roth

Roth

I’ve been struggling with a financial question lately.  As part of our retirement strategy, we have been contributing to a Roth 401(k).  In a Roth 401(k) we pay the taxes at our current rate, but the distributions when we enter retirement will be tax free.  In a traditional 401(k), the contributions are tax free, but the distributions will be taxed at whatever rate is applicable then.  The Roth 401(k) part of our retirement plan is predicated on the assumption that we will be in a higher tax bracket at the time of retirement, and that the dollar will still be worth enough to make it a value compared to a traditional 401(k). With the AIG fiasco and such, I’ve been struggling with the viability of a Roth 401(k).  There isn’t a guarantee that the government won’t change their mind in 20 years and decide to tax the distributions from a Roth 401(k).  If they decide to do that, it would mean that we would be taxed for both the contributions and the distributions from the fund.  Even though we hope to be in a higher tax bracket when we retire, would it be wiser to leverage more heavily in a traditional 401(k) and the other retirement funds with tax-free contributions?  The frustrating thing is that my consternation is not driven by financial considerations.  If it was a pure financial decision, I’m satisfied with our current distribution.  My consternation, however, is driven by distrust in government.  I have lost faith in the certainty that government won’t change the rules down the road as they are trying to do with AIG.  What are y’all doin’? 

Exporting Renewable Energy?

Exporting Renewable Energy?

What the heck does this even mean? “We can remain the world’s leading importer of foreign oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy.” How do you export renewable energy?  We can export oil, natural gas, or coal, but how do we export wind, sun, or hydroelectric dams?  I presume he isn’t talking about nuclear.  He could be talking about the technology to extract energy from renewable sources, but that has a very limited economic life span.  We can export the knowledge to produce a solar cell or design a dam, but once knowledge is exported, we lose exclusivity of it.  Coal can’t be produced out of thin air.  It exists in certain spots and those who own it can sell it.  Those who don’t own it have to buy it.  Simple as that.  Sun, wind, and moving water exist everywhere on earth.  Is Obama going to export our sunlight to Antarctica during the dark winter months via a massive mirror array?  Or is he saying that we’re going to hook our power grid to those of Canada and Mexico and export the actual energy produced from renewable sources?  Can anyone explain what Obama is saying?

“All-Time Low”

“All-Time Low”

Not good. Relations between President Karzai’s Afghan government and Washington are at an all-time low. As Richard Holbrooke - President Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan - prepares to make his first visit to the region since being appointed, the BBC’s Ian Pannell in Kabul looks at why the relationship has soured. Hamid Karzai has become increasingly vociferous in his criticism of American military tactics and has been making half-hearted threats to shift his allegiance to Moscow if he does not get his way. Washington has yet to publicly declare its hand but a series of well-placed leaks, briefs and snubs have raised the prospect that it could move its support elsewhere in this year’s presidential election. One Afghan newspaper spoke of “a new cold war”.

Afghanistan More Complex than Iraq, But Iraq Is The One That’s Unwinnable

Afghanistan More Complex than Iraq, But Iraq Is The One That’s Unwinnable

While I don’t disagree with President Obama on this statement... He said Afghanistan is a more complex problem than Iraq. “Iraq was actually easier than Afghanistan. It’s easier terrain,” Obama told Kroft. ...it’s interesting in light of some of his past statements. 

Back to Prosecuting Terrorists

Back to Prosecuting Terrorists

You know, I’m trying to avoid every other post being about Obama, but when one reads the news, two-thirds of the stories involve him or his administration, it seems.  He’s moving in so many directions on so many fronts at the same time that it’s difficult to keep up.  Anyway, I thought this was worth noting.  It’s from his CBS interview.  “How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney?” Obama asked. “It hasn’t made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment.”

Draft Bill to Move Control of Cybersecurity Into White House

Draft Bill to Move Control of Cybersecurity Into White House

Geeky stuff, I know.  Obama is still consolidating power in the White House. Forthcoming legislation would wrest cybersecurity responsibilities from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and transfer them to the White House, a proposed move that likely will draw objections from industry groups and some conservatives.

Google: 99.99% “a Figure of Speech”
Google

99.99% “a Figure of Speech”

Nice.  Someone might want to check their SEC filings. Google, which launched its Street View in the U.K. this week to considerable amusement and consternation, reacted to the latter by claiming, according to the “Independent” newspaper, that “99.99 percent” of the faces featured were blurred. However, as thousands of real, human, non-blurred, non-vomiting faces were discovered (naked children, policemen on security duty), the company was forced into a remarkably human (for Google) admission.

Senator Gregg: Obama’s Budget Will Bankrupt America
Senator Gregg

Obama’s Budget Will Bankrupt America

Ouch. WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg said Sunday that President Barack Obama’s massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country and is doomed to failure. Gregg made the comments during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He said he has no regrets in withdrawing his nomination to become commerce secretary. He pulled out after deciding he could not fully back the administration’s economic policies. “The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States. There’s no other way around it,” Gregg said. “If we maintain the proposals which are in this budget over the 10-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt; our dollar will become devalued.”

Administration To Unveil Toxic Debt Plan

Administration To Unveil Toxic Debt Plan

It’s getting worse. The Obama administration’s latest attempt to tackle the banking crisis and get loans flowing to families and businesses will create a new government entity, the Public-Private Investment Program, to help purchase as much as $1 trillion in toxic assets on banks’ books. The new effort, to be unveiled Monday, will be followed the next day with release of the administration’s broad framework for overhauling the financial system to ensure that the current crisis — the worst in seven decades — is not repeated.

Doyle Wants Taxpayers to Subsidize Tuition of Illegal Aliens

Doyle Wants Taxpayers to Subsidize Tuition of Illegal Aliens

Here we go again. For the fourth straight budget, Gov. Jim Doyle has included a provision that would allow illegal immigrants who graduate from Wisconsin high schools to pay in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin institutions. The state Legislature has stripped the item out of each budget in the past, but with a Democratic majority in both houses, advocates are hopeful it will be successful this time. But even some Democrats say the measure faces serious problems, including the potential to conflict with a 1996 federal law. That law prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residency to illegal immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to other U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live. That could mean a student from, for instance, Montana, would pay in-state tuition at UW-Madison, said Rep. Kim Hixson, D-Whitewater, chairman of the committee on colleges and universities.

Feinstein Moves to Kill Solar Projects

Feinstein Moves to Kill Solar Projects

What is it with big time lefties trying to crush alternative energy projects?  First Kennedy, now Feinstein. California’s Mojave Desert may seem ideally suited for solar energy production, but concern over what several proposed projects might do to the aesthetics of the region and its tortoise population is setting up a potential clash between conservationists and companies seeking to develop renewable energy. Nineteen companies have submitted applications to build solar or wind facilities on a parcel of 500,000 desert acres, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Friday such development would violate the spirit of what conservationists had intended when they donated much of the land to the public. Feinstein said Friday she intends to push legislation that would turn the land into a national monument, which would allow for existing uses to continue while preventing future development.

Obama Looks to Regulate Executive Compensation

Obama Looks to Regulate Executive Compensation

This is not only outrageous, it’s a very bad idea.  The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said. The outlines of the plan are expected to be unveiled this week in preparation for President Obama’s first foreign summit meeting in early April. Increasing oversight of executive pay has been under consideration for some time, but the decision was made in recent days as public fury over bonuses has spilled into the regulatory effort. The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could range beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation. Let’s start with the obvious… government regulation of compensation packages is a violation of the property rights of the owners of the companies.  If I want to start Owen’s Corn Dog Emporium and pay my CEO $14 trillion dollars a year, it is no business of the government’s.  But economically, government control of executive compensation would be disastrous to our economy.  I’m a hardcore capitalist when it comes to compensation.  If a CEO is successful, then pay him or her a fortune.  If a CEO is a failure, then sack him or her and get someone else.  The problem is that terms like “successful” and “failure” and “fair” are highly subjective.  Let’s say that my Corn Dog Emporium is bleeding $10 million a day because it is run inefficiently and it’s a bad economy.  There’s a new diet craze that forbids corn dogs.  I hire a new CEO who manages to cut my daily losses to $2 million.  Is my new CEO successful?  He has certainly helped the company, but it’s still in the red.  The real question is, who gets to decide?  Me, the owner, or the government?  What if my new CEO achieved these results by firing a third of the staff?  Is some grandstanding politician in Washington going to get outraged that he fired people and dictate that I cut my CEO’s compensation?  This has real world implications.  Let’s move away from my fictional example and into the real world.  Think about the executives at a company like GM.  GM has an unsustainable business model for the 21st century economy, but they are contractually locked into that business model.  What if the CEO did what needs to be done - declare bankruptcy, shed the legacy obligations, and reorganize the company?  This would result in hundreds of thousands of workers and former workers losing their benefits, pensions, etc.  At the same time, that CEO may make $10 million.  Does anyone really think that the politicians in Washington would consider that fair compensation?  Given the feeding frenzy taking place over AIG, I’d be dollars to doughnuts that GM’s CEO would be sitting in Congressional hearings and being told to forfeit his salary even though he did the exact right thing.  Yes, there are ridiculous compensation packages out there, but inserting politicians into the mix will only make it more absurd.  Leave compensation between the owners and the employees. 

Wisconsin State Journal Endorses Fernandez for DPI Superintendent

Wisconsin State Journal Endorses Fernandez for DPI Superintendent

Spot on. Wisconsin voters have a clear choice in the April 7 race for state superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. The race features a consummate and careful insider, Tony Evers, versus a spirited and straightforward outsider, Rose Fernandez. The State Journal endorses Fernandez. The pediatric nurse and mother of five will be a strong advocate for change—someone who will use the mostly symbolic post of state schools superintendent as a bully pulpit to press for reforms, many of which President Barack Obama favors.

Chaotic? And This is a Surprise?

Chaotic? And This is a Surprise?

An interactive interview with Octomom. Having now done the math, Nadya Suleman is finally admitting “I was lying to myself” – and that adding eight new babies to her six children at home is an overwhelming experience that makes her life chaotic. Perhaps she should have done the math about six or seven years ago.

Fed to Buy Back $1.2 Trillion of Debt

Fed to Buy Back $1.2 Trillion of Debt

This is not good. With the country sinking deeper into recession, the Federal Reserve launched a bold $1.2 trillion effort Wednesday to lower rates on mortgages and other consumer debt, spur spending and revive the economy. To do so, the Fed will spend up to $300 billion to buy long-term government bonds and an additional $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues wrapped a two-day meeting by leaving a key short-term bank lending rate at a record low of between zero and 0.25 percent. Economists predict the Fed will hold the rate in that zone for the rest of this year and for most - if not all - of next year. The decision to hold rates near zero was widely expected. But the Fed’s plan to buy government bonds and the sheer amount - $1.2 trillion - of the extra money to be pumped into the U.S. economy was a surprise. “The Fed is clearly ready, willing and able to be the ATM for the credit markets,” said Terry Connelly, dean of Golden Gate University’s Ageno School of Business in San Francisco. The only way the Fed can do this is to just print the money.  We’re accelerating on the road to massive inflation. 

Obama’s Proxy War On AIG

Obama’s Proxy War On AIG

President Obama, along with his Democrat and Republican cohorts, are economic morons. Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” Monday and pledged to try to block it from handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked. “This isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s about our fundamental values.” OK, let’s discuss a bit about capitalism. The people who are getting these bonuses are getting them because of contracts negotiated as part of their employment.  They earned the bonuses on the terms of their contracts and AIG is contractually obligated to pay them their money.  Let’s imagine, for example, that the Milwaukee Public Schools decided to withhold 1/3 of the teachers’ salaries because 1/3 of them failed at their jobs.  Would that be OK?  Or would we be obligated to stick with the contract?  Yeah, I thought so.  Furthermore, bear in mind that many of the folks who earned these bonuses did so because they brought in revenue for AIG.  Remember that the government pushed billions of dollars into AIG because they were “too big to fail.”  Well, if they are too big to fail, shouldn’t we want them to succeed?  And if we want them to succeed, shouldn’t we want them to incent their top performers to bring home the bacon?  Of course, if we were living in a rational time.  In this case, we have a President who wanted to bail out AIG, but then turns around and bashes them - thus making them weaker.  If I were a bit more cynical, I’d say that Obama is waging a war on business. Oh, wait… I am that cynical. 

I Value Education, Despite My Opposition to a Referendum

I Value Education, Despite My Opposition to a Referendum

I detest letters to the editor like this. If you own a home valued at $100,000, on what would you be willing to spend less than $6 a month?   If you own a home valued at $175,000, on what would you be willing to spend less than $10 a month?   If you own a home valued at $300,000, on what would you be willing to spend $17 a month?   Would you spend that amount to ensure that your children, grandchildren or neighbor’s children can go to safe, presentable, uncrowded schools?   Would you spend that amount so that children, their parents and others who have disabilities can have access to a public school building, specifically Badger Middle School?   Would you spend that amount to remedy accumulating school building maintenance problems, eliminating $29 million of deferred maintenance? Would you spend that amount to live in a desirable school district that increases the desirability of the community, which in turn increases real estate values and protects the investment you have made in your home? Would you spend that amount for all of the above? Depending on the value of your house, that $6, $10 or $17 a month buys all of the above. It buys a lot of value for you, your neighbors and your entire community. A yes vote on both school referendum questions means that you know the importance of spending money on that which has real value. Barbara Landis West Bend You know what, Barbara?  We all already spend hundreds or thousands of dollars out of our pockets to fund the schools.  Don’t you dare come to me and tell me that I somehow don’t care about the kids’ education if I don’t want to or can’t spend another few hundred dollars a year on the public schools.  As I estimate, my family will spend more than $20k next year on education for private grade school, high school, college, the local public schools through our property taxes, and the rest of the state’s public schools - including the UW system - through our state income, federal income, sales, and other taxes.  This doesn’t include continuing education for myself which I hope to be able to accomplish to further my career.  Please take your sanctimonious accusations of niggardliness and shove them in your pie hole.  I’ve had enough. 

DOD No Longer to Sell Spent Brass In Reusable Form

DOD No Longer to Sell Spent Brass In Reusable Form

Thanks to a reader for bringing this to my attention.  This email was sent out following this auction. Subject: Important Notice to Scrap Metal Buyers! Dear Valued Customer: Please take a moment to note important changes set forth by the Defense Logistics Agency: Recently it has been determined that fired munitions of all calibers, shapes and sizes have been designated to be Demil code B. As a result and in conjunction with DLA’s current Demil code B policy, this notice will serve as official notification which requires Scrap Venture (SV) to implement mutilation as a condition of sale for all sales of fired munitions effective immediately. This notice also requires SV to immediately cease delivery of any fired munitions that have been recently sold or on active term contracts, unless the material has been mutilated prior to sale or SV personnel can attest to the mutilation after delivery. A certificate of destruction is required in either case. Thank you, DOD Surplus 15051 N Kierland Blvd # 300 Scottsdale, AZ 85254 You see, it has long been a policy of the Department of Defense to sell once fired brass to weapons manufacturers in bulk.  It usually brought in about $2 per pound for the DOD.  The new policy says that the DOD must mutilate the brass first now.  In other words, they have to make the brass unusable for reuse as ammunition and turn it into just scrap metal.  By doing so, the brass will only be worth about $0.35 per pound.  Do you realize how much brass the DOD goes through in a year?  Do you realize how much money the DOD is flushing down the toilet?  Not to mention the fact that now the DOD has to spend money mutilating all of its brass before it goes out the door.  How much do you think that costs? This policy didn’t come out of the blue.  The Commander in Chief is clearly sending a message to gun owners that they should be paying more for ammunition.  If he can’t do it through regulatory action, he’ll do it by forcing ammunition manufacturers to spend more on production, and he’ll do it at the taxpayers’ expense. 

Sign of the Times

Sign of the Times

Yeah, that’t about right. Hat tip Instapundit.

Wisconsin’s Drivers Already Benefiting From Striking Down of Minimum Markup Law

Wisconsin’s Drivers Already Benefiting From Striking Down of Minimum Markup Law

Wow, that’s a long title, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it shorter.  In any case... Overturning the state’s minimum markup law on gasoline is having a clear impact on prices in the Madison area. Woodman’s Food Markets has revived a 3-cent-per-gallon discount for customers with a grocery receipt and Sun Prairie stations may be battling over prices. The Woodman’s discount was scuttled in 2006 after a successful lawsuit by competitor Kwik Trip, which claimed the discounted price was below the legal minimum markup. Woodman’s replaced that discount with $1 off a purchase of $30 worth of gasoline. Now, the grocery chain again is offering the 3-cent-a-gallon discount. At Kwik Trip, corporate communications manager John McHugh said the company has no plans to change its 5 percent discount for gasoline paid for with a Kwik Trip credit card. That discount was permitted under the old markup law because it was considered a bank discount. [...] Regular gasoline at five Sun Prairie stations Friday afternoon was priced at $1.65 to $1.69 a gallon, the lowest in the Madison area, according to MadisonGasPrices.com, a Web site where drivers report local gas prices. Prices at other area stations also were falling Friday, ranging from $1.71 to $1.93 a gallon outside Sun Prairie. A year ago, the local median price was $3.28 a gallon. “Typically, we are probably going to start seeing some lower prices at the pump because that law was repealed,” said Larry Kamholz of AAA Wisconsin. “We’re going to see some competitive pricing.” The general decrease in prices has a lot of reasons behind it, but the invalidating of the minimum markup law is certainly one of them.  The greater effect are all of the special discount programs that stores can now run to bring down prices.  Senior citizen programs… rebate programs… loyalty programs… etc.  Just think of how much money Wisconsinites could have been saving over the YEARS if the legislature had done what was right and repealed this unwise law years ago. 

Doyle’s Budget Increases Spending 9.8%

Doyle’s Budget Increases Spending 9.8%

No time like a recession to jack up state spending. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget would push total state spending for the 2009-‘11 budget cycle to $63 billion—an increase of 9.8% from the current two-year cycle, according to a summary of Doyle’s plan released today by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The $63 billion totals measures all state spending, including federal aid, state taxes,  tuition, fees and license revenues. Spending in the current two-year budget that ends June 30 will total $57.4 billion, according to the Fiscal Bureau. The 9.8% jump in two-year spending, beginning July 1, results partly because the budget spends more than $2 billion in federal stimulus cash. To help fix a deficit in the current budget, which ends June 30, $597 million in federal stimulus funds are used to pay health-care and school-aid bills, the Fiscal Bureau reported. To also close a remaining $5-billion deficit through mid-2011, Doyle’s budget also includes more than $2.1 billion in tax increases.

Obama’s Sparse Cabinet Makes History

Obama’s Sparse Cabinet Makes History

Competence. Even with Solis’ swearing in, the Obama administration still has two open cabinet posts, Secretary of Commerce and Health and Human Services. That’s more cabinet vacancies than any of his recent predecessors at this point into a new presidential term. Although Obama has named nominees for the top posts at the Departments of Commerce and Health and Human Services, they have yet to be confirmed by the Senate. President Clinton had two lingering cabinet vacancies almost two months into his second term, but the Senate confirmed his pick for Energy Secretary on March 12. Clinton’s other vacancy was for the Labor Secretary post, which the Senate filled on April 30. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush had four cabinet vacancies heading into March of his first year in office, but the Senate confirmed his picks for Energy and HHS on March 1 and his Veterans Affairs secretary nominee on March 2. The fourth vacancy, which was for Secretary of Defense, was filled by the Senate on March 17. The length of time Obama is taking to complete his Cabinet has surprised a number of political observers. The president announced his Cabinet picks at a rapid clip after last November’s election, but quickly became entangled in various nominees’ tax and ethics problems.

Goebbels Quote

Goebbels Quote

I’m reading Goebbels by Ralf Georg Reuth and I was amused by this quote.  Perhaps it’s the Lutheran in me. (In reference to a cheerful regular visitor) This set him apart from the rest of the Goebbels family, who displayed the gloominess often ascribed to the people of the lower Rhine and sometimes explained as a product of the region’s monotonous landscape and deep-seated Catholicism.  The simpler folk, to whom the Goebbels family belonged, received from their Catholic faith graphic images of an all-powerful God who chastised and rewarded people in this world, and showed himself all the more favorably disposed, the more often one said the rosary.  Fearful of his wrath, they thought they had to show the humblest respect for God and his black-garbed servants on earth.  Yes, I realize that the grammar is a little screwy, but this is a translation from the original German text.  JIJAWM, you can start your fairytale rant.  Dad29, I know… I know…

Willis Tower?

Willis Tower?

This will be hard to get accustomed to.  Sears Tower will change its name to Willis Tower this summer, under the terms of a lease signed by global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings. Willis Group plans to consolidate five area offices and move nearly 500 associates into Willis Tower, at 233 S. Wacker Drive, initially occupying more than 140,000 square feet on multiple floors. London-based Willis said that its move to the new space, at $14.50 per square foot, will reduce its real estate costs significantly and that there is no additional cost associated with renaming the building.

Obama’s Signing Statements

Obama’s Signing Statements

I anticipate that the liberals out there who were outraged at Bush using signing statements to lodge their complaints.  Democrats often criticized the Bush White House for its use of the presidential signing statement, a means by which the president can reject provisions of a bill he deems unconstitutional without vetoing the entire legislation. Now the approach is back. President Barack Obama, after signing into law a $410 billion budget bill on Wednesday, declared five provisions in the bill to be unconstitutional and non-binding, including one that would effectively restrict U.S. troop deployments under U.N. command and another aimed at preventing punishment of whistleblowers. Yeah, I won’t hold my breath. 

Obama’s Legions of Straw Men

Obama’s Legions of Straw Men

Obama sets up another straw man to tackle. “I’m not impressed by just being able to say no,” said Obama. “I think what will be interesting is the degree to which my Republican colleagues start putting forward an affirmative agenda that’s not based on ideology but on the very real struggles and pain that people are feeling right now around the country and how do we get this economy back on its feet.” Um, Barrack?  Buddy?  Some of the Republicans have been putting forth an affirmative agenda.  The fact that you don’t agree with their agenda does not mean that it does not exist.  Obama is great at torching the straw men.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t do the country any good. 

Obama Proposes Merit Pay for Teachers

Obama Proposes Merit Pay for Teachers

Obama has come out in support of merit pay for teachers.  Predictably, the liberal teachers unions who would have skewered a Republican president for suggesting it are all open to the concept.  The problem is that the devil is in the details.  It looks like Obama will have the teachers union write the standards and this is their mindset: The president of Wisconsin’s largest teachers union said the organization would be willing to consider performance-based pay as an option to enhance teacher salaries. Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said WEAC would not be willing to give up its bargaining rights on pay and other issues.

Sheridan’s World of Unicorns and Rainbows

Sheridan’s World of Unicorns and Rainbows

I’m sorry, but statements like this are idiotic. “Our attempt is to set a different tone in this Legislature,” Sheridan said at a January luncheon attended by lobbyists, legislative staff and other Capitol power brokers. “We spend way too much time arguing about our differences.”

Baby Number Three

Baby Number Three

Ceianna Buchanan lived six days. She died Sunday. Her sister, Brianna Buchanan-Prescott, lived for two months, five days. She died less than a year ago. Their half sister, Cierra Buchanan, lived for five months, one week, four days. She died in 1993. While police are treating the most recent death as an accident, it appears all three children died while sleeping with an adult. With the economy stinking up the joint and many people leaving their homes to live with relatives, the “family bed” may become more common simply out of necessity.  If that’s the case, please, please, please be careful and learn to do it correctly so these tragedies don’t happen again.  And for goodness sake, if you share a bed with your child, do not go to bed drunk. My heart also breaks for the 15-year-old boy who was sent to check on the baby.  What a horrible task to give a child. 

Come clean on the quiet tax

Come clean on the quiet tax

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online.  It’s called, “Come clean on the quiet tax.”  Here’s a taste: Doyle’s proposed budget does not include any funding to comply with the REAL ID Act, but he still intends to collect the $10 fee. In the private sector this would be called a bait and switch and Doyle would be prosecuted for it. In government, it seems to be par for the course. Not using the $10 fee for its intended purpose – to bring Wisconsin into compliance with the REAL ID Act – changes it into just another tax.

Avoiding Rome

Avoiding Rome

OK, I admit… this post is targeted at my fellow history junkies.  I’m interested in hearing y’alls’ opinion on one of the great questions of history… why didn’t Hannibal - one of the Great Captains - sack Rome during the 2nd Punic War?  Clearly, Hannibal was a genius.  He led his army across great distances and quashed the Romans again and again and again.  At Trebia; at Trasimene; and of course at Cannae.  Hannibal had the Romans by the throat, but despite spending nearly 30 years in Italy, he never went for the jugular of Rome.  Why?

Climate Change!

Climate Change!

On Jupiter. Observations of cloud cover over the past decade or so have suggested the huge, oval tempest was getting smaller as Jupiter’s climate changes. But such observations are tricky because it’s hard to find the edges of the storm compared with nearby clouds on the visible surface of a gas planet that is entirely shrouded in colorful clouds. Nearby storms can nip off parts of the giant storm, and in turn the Great Red Spot can consume nearby clouds.

Gere Defends Clinton

Gere Defends Clinton

So now we have actors defending the gaffes of the Obama administration? Actor Richard Gere told Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “misspoke in the moment” when she said that human rights “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis.” While on a diplomatic trip to Asia in February, Clinton said that the global economic crisis, climate change and security take precedent over human rights issues when dealing with China. Gere said that Clinton has always been on the “forefront of human rights.”

The Bard

The Bard

A portrait painted 400 years ago and kept anonymously in an Irish home for much of the time since is now believed to be the only painting of William Shakespeare created during his lifetime.

MJS Site Intolerable

MJS Site Intolerable

I read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel every day online.  Given that I don’t subscribe to their paper, I don’t begrudge the fact that they have a heavy dose of advertising on their website.  After all, they have to pay the bills too.  But lately, it has become so frustrating to visit their site that I don’t go there nearly as often as I used to.  For example, whenever you click on a story, an ad pops up underneath.  Worse, it sets focus to the ad, so that one must click on the main page again in order to scroll or do anything else.  Lately, there have also been pop-up ads whenever you go to the site that obstruct viewing.  It’s gotten to the point that by the time I click through a couple of stories, there are five or six ads up. 

General Revenue Corporation

General Revenue Corporation

I just received a call from a live person who asked asked for me by name, and then wanted to confirm the last four digits of my SSN (which she had wrong).  I asked who she was and she said “General Revenue Corporation.”  I told her that I wasn’t going to confirm or deny because I didn’t know who she was and I don’t do business with the General Revenue Corporation.  At that time, she wanted to confirm my date of birth (which she also had wrong).  I wished her a good day and signed off.  In any case, the call had all of the hallmarks of a scam.  Be warned. 

Obama to Decouple Morality from Medicine

Obama to Decouple Morality from Medicine

It’s all fun and games until we start killing people…. oh, wait... President Barack Obama will reverse the U.S. government’s ban on funding stem-cell research today and pledge to “use sound, scientific practice and evidence, instead of dogma” to guide federal policy, an adviser said. Harold Varmus, co-chair of a science advisory group to the President, said Obama will ask the White House Office of Science and Technology to create guidelines to incorporate ‘scientific integrity’ into decision-making by U.S. agencies. The action on stem cells, which can grow into any kind of tissue, may help speed research into cures for major illness.

Siestas Bad For Your Health

Siestas Bad For Your Health

Shoot.  Now I have to change my work habits.  Taking regular lunchtime siestas could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to research. The study of 16,480 people, found those who napped were 26% more likely to get the condition than those who did not. Several factors which may be behind the link included disrupted night-time sleep and an association between napping and reduced physical activity.