Friday, November 30, 2007

Today's Existential Headlines

Grab a black turtleneck, beret, and your copy of Sartre:

Green Bay area's Republican Party is no more


Now go back to chain-smoking your cloves and stroking your goatee contemplatively.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Need a Job?

There's an opening for a -- I shit you not -- Blimp Treasurer.

Pre-game Shit Talking

I feel something of a sacred obligation to engage in some pre-Packers-Cowboys trash talking, but this seems somewhat superfluous given that the Onion has already written the last word on sports-related competitive banter.

So I'll just stick with a prediction: Green Bay 31, Dallas 24.

http://www.girlontheright.com/redneck.jpg

(Pictured above: Your standard issue Dallas Cowboys fan, demonstrating the serious compensation issues indicative of all his ilk.)

Line of the Day

From Stu Rothenberg:

Paul has been doing well in post-debate call-ins and Internet “polls” for months, and his Web site has been scoring more hits than a bong at a Grateful Dead concert.


Kids, just say no.

A Brief History of Streaking

From Der Spiegel:

This scene marked a world first: 25-year-old Australian Michael O'Brian is believed to have been the first person to "streak" the audience at a major stadium. During a 1974 rugby match in London between England and Wales, O'Brian ran onto the playing field naked. The photo of his arrest illustrates the forbidden appeal that comes with streaking. Every streaker knows that it's the easiest way to instantly please tens of thousands of people, and even the authorities have trouble concealing their delight when streakers strike.


The photo gallery is hillarious. There is, of course, nudity, but it's all tastefully done ... some of it , at least.

First of all, I'd like to Thank God ... and then My Publicist

Just in time for the end of the Broadway stagehands strike, this year's Tony Awards have arrived.

Marx in America

I'm glad that Mark Thoma picked this up because I heard this on NPR in the car yesterday and wanted to add to it:

It's a conversation with Francis Wheen, who has just written a "biography" of Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" -- the book, not the author. One of the things Wheen notes about Kapital is that it is not just a dense economic text book, but also a comedy, a tragedy, and a horror story and a satire ...

One thing that you could add to that list is that Kapital is also a soap opera/trashy romance novel. There's a lot of "intercourse" that goes on in the book -- intercourse, of course, being one of the phrases Marx uses for commerce. This was his tongue-in-cheek way of suggesting that someone always gets screwed under in capitalism.

Maybe that also makes Kapital a gross-out teenage sex comedy too?

"Pynchon could not be reached for comment"

Brilliant.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fashion Statements of the Damned

The Gun-shaped wallet.

The Purge Continues!

What's next, a GOP voter poll tax?

Voters planning to vote in Virginia's Republican presidential primary will be required to sign an oath swearing their Republican loyalty, the AP reports.

"The State Board of Elections on Monday approved a state Republican Party request to require all who apply for a GOP primary ballot first vow in writing that they'll vote for the party's presidential nominee next fall... Virginia doesn't require voters to register by party, and for years the state's Republicans have fretted that Democrats might meddle in their open primaries."

Caveat: "There's no practical way to enforce the oath."


Obviously, enforcement is difficult, but that's not really what the issue is here. What's conceivably at stake is the number of voters who feel a loyalty oath is off putting enough to dissuade them from voting for Republicans in this specific election or any other in the future.

In other words, the GOP is disenfranchising its own potential voters.

MORE: It just occurred to me that this is the kind of dick move the party would use to keep Ron Paul voters away from the primaries.

So the Virginia GOP is giving a big Fuck You to independents, libertarians, and pretty much anyone else who isn't going to vote for James Gilmore and Rudy Giuliani. Way to build the party, assholes ...

EVEN MORE: From the Roanoke Times:

The Republican Party of Virginia has no interest in thoughtful voters. It only wants mindless party loyalists who will vote Republican no matter what.


If you believe in Southern gentility -- and even if you don't, but are a fan basic reason, ethics and personal responsibility: just read it.

MORE STILL: See what I mean?

[via Salon]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

People of the Year

Time Magazine does it (it's going to be Al Gore this year, by the way). GQ does it. I could go on and on, but the simple fact of the matter is that every magazine, trade association, political entity, charity, business enterprise -- in short, every organization of human beings that gathers to share a common interest or goal has a Person of the Year. Sometimes they get a nifty trophy (like an Oscar), sometimes they get a gift certificate to Chili's -- but they all share the admiration and praise of their friends and the bitter jealousy of their enemies.

So before the holiday season starts to swamp all of us with a hectic pace of awkward office parties, uncomfortable family dinners and the endless whining about the War on Christmas (the most devastating conflict to rock America since the Cola Wars of the 1980s!), why not look back at some of the Wisconsinites that have made the year memorable?

The people I tend to think of being worthy of end of the year praise tend to be innovators, as opposed to people who do their job well. This isn't to say that quality isn't a virtue worth celebrating, it's just that I dig innovation more. That makes this list pretty arbitrary -- but what are you going to do? It's my list, goddamnit!

So here they are, in no particular order, a group of folks with some kind of tie to the state who did something new in 2007.

Innovators of the Year:

James Thompson, Stem Cell Researcher, UW-Madison. Genetically Reprogrammed Pluripotent Human Skin Cells:

Thompson may be the most famous research scientist in America. His investigations into the nature of human cellular development during the last 10 - 15 years have transformed Wisconsin into an epicenter for stem cell research and they continue to pay off. Thompson has always stayed one step ahead of the stem cell critics whose obstinacy has done little to sway public opinion in their direction. Despite the heated controversy that erupted following his 1998 stem cell break though, Thompson did what ever great scientist does in the face of such debate -- he went back into the lab and let the science speak for itself. The stem cell debate is far from over, but is at least in the capable hands of a genuine man of science.


Jim VandeHei, co-founder and Executive Editor, the Politico.com:

The Politico is the kind of experiment thats want to have its cake and eat it too. It's new media in the sense that it relies on an almost entirely online platform, but it's also old media in that it relies on a stable of veteran reporters who are as much insiders as the people they cover. While that may sound like innovation the new venture ran a considerable risk of being hated by sources and its target audience alike. So far, it's not clear that's happened yet; and although the Politico has (naturally) been criticized for nearly everything imaginable, it can't be ignored and may be the media business model of the 21st Century.


Ambassadors Daniel Speckhard, Mark Green, and Richard Graber:

It's difficult to think of a time when so many Wisconsinites played such a important role at Foggy Bottom. All three of these men took very different routes to get where they are today. Some would argue that Graber was given his assignment in Prague as a reward for his service as Wisconsin GOP chairman; Mark Green's appointment to Dar es Salaam may have been the most inspired decision of George Bush's presidency -- Green has continuously demonstrated an interest and expertise in African affairs during his lifetime; and Speckhard, a career foreign service officer, certainly deserved the chance to lead the U.S. Embassy in Athens after several years of hardship duty in Baghdad. More importantly, these men are symbolic of an acknowledgment by the state that Wisconsin needs to become become a member of the global community and is doing what it can to see that happen.


Jeff Walz and James Burkee, professors at Concordia College & co-candidates for congress:

Their campaign to unseat an archetypal incumbent (and generally unpleasant grouch), even if it were merely an effort to depose the human embodiment of a cartoonish parody of a man in power alone, would be laudable. But Burkee and Walz decided that they'd both try giving a run for congress a shot ... together ... as members of opposite parties. It's an entirely counterintuitive concept that goes against every political instinct instilled in American voters from the time we take our first civics class in school and vote for the our first class president. For all the consternation that is devoted to "reforming elections" Burkee and Walz have come up with a campaign strategy -- as flawed as it may be -- that goes well beyond the standard public financing vs. free speech debate ground that the Left and the Right seem slavishly devoted to defending. States generally, and Wisconsin in particular, are frequently called the Laboratories of Democracy -- it's nice to see that a few people remember that phrase, no matter how quixotic their efforts may be.


Mike McCarthy, Head Coach, Green Bay Packers. The Five Wide Receiver Set:

It's gotten a lot of attention in the last few weeks, but it blows my mind every time the Pack lines up in this formation. Mind you that they aren't lining up with five wide receivers on 4th and 7, down by 4 with 1:57 to go in the 4th quarter -- they're doing it all game long! Just think about what is needed to pull this thing off: A quarterback who can do anything (check), a quintet of competent wide receivers that all have the skill to break away from their coverage (check) and an offensive line that can supply QB protection without blocking help from a tight end or anyone in the backfield (and ... check!). It's really indicative of how this season has worked out for the Packers, largely by letting Favre be Favre.


Buddhika Jamahaya, U.S. Army Specialist:

Jamahaya, a Marquette University grad, joined six colleagues, still serving in uniform at the time, to write an editorial published in the New York Times that was extremely critical of their collective experience in Iraq. The op-ed sparked a firestorm of controversy, and substantive debate, over the U.S. mission and purpose in Iraq. Just prior to publication one of his six co-authors was shot in the head during a reconnaissance mission and sustained critical, but not fatal, injuries. In the aftermath of the editorial, two others died in combat.


Tony Romo, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys:

Romo is quickly becoming the George Clooney of the NFL -- men want be him and women want to be with him. It's absolutely painful to find myself praising the quarterback of "America's Team" (and I use that pharse as facetiously as humanly possible), but Romo isn't leading your older brother's "hookers and coke" Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s. Aside from being a tremendous athlete, Romo's demonstrated solid leadership skills by managing to develop a report with Terrel Owens (an immense talent with a notorious track record for clashing with his team's field general) and carried himself with a casual, self-effacing aplomb while in the public eye.


WisconsinEye:

An obvious no-brainer. In a city that truly values community access television WisconsinEye should grow to be a big hit here in Oshkosh. One hopes that with its internet platform it will become just as important around the state as C-SPAN is to the rest of the country (... at least to the people who actually watch it).


Ryan Braun, Third baseman, Milwaukee Brewers.

With apologies to Sandy Koufax, Braun might be the greatest Jewish athlete since Sampson. Sports have always been one of the most celebrated aspects of Wisconsin culture -- there's little denying that -- but the contributions made by the state's Jewish community frequently go unheralded, despite a divers gamut that runs between Michael Feldman and Golda Meir. The NL Rookie of the Year's skill as a ballplayer may be the missing ingredient needed to bridge that gap and we should all look forward to the summer day when we can head out to the ballpark, drink a bottle of Ryan BraΓΌ* and cheer on the He-Brewers.

*Let me just take the opportunity to © and ® that while I'm at it.


State Reps. Tom Nelson and Frank Lasee, Publicity Hounds Extraordinaire:

Next year, John Gard and Steve Kagan are going to be rehashing their '06 campaign for Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District. It's going to be a nasty affair and will be made worse by how painfully typical (read: boring and off-putting) each campaign will be. Basically Gard and Kagan are ruining the fun for the rest of the state by depriving Nelson and Lasee from running for the WI-8 CD.

Lasee won justified nationwide scorn for his "Arm the Teachers" plan to prevent school violence -- but he pulled off this asinine idea with a straight face and got an appearance on the Daily Show out of it. Meanwhile, the shortest distance between any two objects in the universe this year has been between Tom Nelson and a reporter. Whether proposing his hamburger birthplace legislation or staging well-choreographed sit-ins, Nelson knows how to get the attention of the press. The two are contrasting personalties -- Nelson is an Ivy League uberwonk, Lasee exudes the mellow charisma of a sandy blond-haired California surfer -- with a knack for the creative political spectacle who would be guaranteed to run vastly more interesting , entertaining and engaging campaigns than the steady barrage of childish negative ads voters in the WI-8 can expect next year.
Oshkosh Innovation

It has not been a good year for fresh thinking and stellar city leadership at the city level, as has been evident by the recent mass exodus from City Hall and the seemingly endless squabbling over cosmetic issues by elected officials (sidewalks, appointments to boards, cottonwood trees, etc.), to the detriment of the absolutely important matters -- namely, the development of the Waterfront. Much of common council seems content to sit back and wait for an agreeable offer to be floated in their direction instead of actively soliciting development ideas and perusing possible leads. People who do this are more likely to buy monorails, as the 100 N. Main episode should have taught us all.

That being said, the face of UW-O has dramatically changed in the last few years and that has largely been due to the efforts of Chancellor Richard Wells. There's a snide joke that I've heard in several different circles that goes if Wells were as good a Chancellor as he is a developer UW-O would be Harvard by now, but that ignores many of the other efforts currently being undertaken to transform the University from just another satellite state school into a regional education center that is completely integrated with the rest of the city. That kind of institutional change is rare in these parts and thus far Wells has been extremely effective in achieving his goals. Wells' brand of vision and good old fashioned technocratic know-how may rub some folks in the Academy the wrong way, but it's exactly what is needed in the city leadership at large.


TerraMax Engineering Team at Oshkosh Truck:

Wired Magazine fell in love with this self-automated monster truck at the DARPA Urban Challange, and with good reason. The TerraMax was the largest vehicle in the competition, performed brilliantly in the time trials and was the unquestioned crowd favorite among the mega-shop-rats that gathered to witness the event. Unfortunately, the TerraMax was one of the first enteries to be eliminated from the competition, but that in no way translated into a loss: Oshkosh Truck designed the TerraMax to within almost military specs that were not required for the rest of the field. In the process the undoubtedly caught the attention of Pentagon appropriators looked to fund future programs, as well as the eye of a few young engineers looking for a place to ply their talents.


So there you have it ... a group of Wisconsinites who have demonstrated fresh thinking, broke new ground, or just did something different. All too often it's easy to get the impression that we're surrounded by people like the crazy lady from Seymour who wanted to change her last name to bin Laden.

Fortunately, that's not always the case.

If you've got more suggestions, feel free to throw down in the comments. In case you haven't noticed there aren't any women on this list, which means I must be missing someone. Consider this just a start.

Hey, It's Your Funeral

In response to an article in the Politico about the rightward shift of the GOP following the wave of recent retirements by senior Republican officials, Rep Tom Feeny has only this to say:

We will continue to work to support the most conservative electable candidate in races across the country, with a goal of creating a Republican Party in which conservatives represent the majority of the majority party.
You know, because it's worked so well for the party already ...

Vanity Plates

Via Zach Patton:

Of the 21 million vehicles issued Texas plates, 93,000 have vanity plates.

Many requests for vanity plates are denied because they would spell a curse word or sex act or advertise a driver's alleged sexual prowess or inclinations, Perkes said.

Under state law, "the director may refuse to issue a specialty license plate with a design or alphanumeric pattern that the director considers potentially objectionable to one or more members of the public."

Since 2000, TxDOT turned down requests for: DA HOWS, KISS IT, OVRSXD, BUTNKD, MS LUST, KWIKEE, AMOR 69 and ASSMAN.

TxDOT also will deny requests that promote violence or are in poor taste, Perkes said. Not issued were plates that would have read MURDER, ALKY, PMS 365 and GNGSTR.

Classic ...

All Against Authority

Remember how the Harry Potter books were supposed to inspire 10 years-olds to do drugs, have sex, murder their parents and, perhaps worst of all, practice witchcraft? I've always had the sneaking suspicion that this debate helped greenlight the awful live action version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- which was no where near as good as the original BBC cartoon. Some Hollywood mogul probably got the not necessarily incorrect notion that there was a market for veiled Christian allegories wrapped in fantasies and -- voila! -- a special effects laden dud with hastened character development that made it difficult to for the audience to devote much emotional attachment to the players and their roles.

Now it would appear as if the pendulum is swinging back the other way with the release of the Golden Compass, which was originally a series of fantasy novels for children written specifically to be a kind of anti-Chronicles of Narnia. There are some absolutely fascinating issues involved here that will likely be fleshed out in further detail in the weeks to come, but if the debate is anything like the argument made below, we'd be better served to just skip it entirely.

Eric Lombardi writes a column for the Marquette Tribune in which he makes the following claim while discussing the opening of the Golden Compass:

I'm a fan of challenging the authorities that be. If you can't question what you believe in then it's probably not worth believing in.


Good! That's a noble sentiment! It's also a little edgy ... a little rebellious ... dangerous even. I bet chicks really dig the lonely writer out to expose the dryness of conventional thinking ...

But the very next thing he writes is:

But to try to use the power of words to persuade unknowing children against Christianity and the existence of God is not something we should endorse.


Doh!

You can't celebrate comprehensive critical inquiry and then say "well, up to a point," which is exactly what Lombardi does here. If Lombardi wanted to do something really courageous he would have used his real estate at Catholic university's student newspaper to say, "Go see the movie, challenge what you you've learned here, and I bet you'll still come out of the theater with your faith intact."

Instead, he pandered to the very "authorities that be" that he says deserve questioning.

I just wanted to point that out. There's enough grossly contradictory behavior in this world. We don't need anymore.

Wisconsin Presidential Campaign Staffs and Endorsements

I've done some gathering of presidential endorsements by Wisconsin bloggers in the past (latest update here), and yesterday I saw a press release that got me thinking it might be a good idea to start collecting where other prominent Wisconsinites are devoting their political loyalty.

Here's what I got thus far: Frankly, it's a list I'm not very satisfied with, but it's the best I could do with limited time and energy. Any help that can add to this would be a greatly appreciated.

So without further ado ...

Mitt Romney

Wisconsin Statewide Finance Steering Committee

David Beightol – Managing Principal, Dutko Worldwide
Scott Beightol – Attorney, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Joe Chrnelich – Director of Sales, Verax Corporation
Terence “Terry” Dittrich – International Sales Manager, Spancrete Machinery Corp.
Curt Geilow – President, Gielow Associates, Inc.
Jay Hintze – Vice President, Heartland Development Group
Helen Johnson – Chairman & CEO, Johnson Outdoors and Chairman, Johnson Financial Corporation
James Klauser – Former Senior Vice President, We Energies
Elaine Kraut – Owner and President, Genesee Aggregate Corporation
Craig Leipold – CEO, Nashville Predators
Mary Reid – Senior Government Affairs Adviser, We Energies
Paul Sweeney – Investor, PS Capital Partners

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri


Rudy Giuliani

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten, foreign policy advisory team
Former State Sen. Cathy Stepp & former U.S. Rep. Scott Klug, state campaign co-chairs


Hillary Clinton

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, state campaign co-chair
Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Midwest campaign co-chair
Kathleen Falk, Dane County Executive*
Matt Flynn, Former Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Milwaukee Attorney*
Tom Loftus, Former Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly and Ambassador to Norway*
Nancy Nusbaum, Former Brown County Executive and Mayor of DePere*
Brady Williamson, Madison Attorney*
Georgia Duerst-Lahti, Beloit College Professor, Commentator*
Kate Peyton, Activist and Organizer*
Jackie Boynton, Founder, Women's Choice, Milwaukee Attorney*
Karen Campbell, Milwaukee Community Leader*
Heather Colburn, Interim Director, FAIR Wisconsin*
Janis Ringhand, Former Evansville Mayor*
Bill Broydrick, Former State Assembly Member, Founder Broydrick & Associates*
*


Barak Obama

Rep. Gwen Moore
Jeff Neubauer, former state party chairman [helped organize fund-raiser]


John Edwards

Congressman and Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee David Obey
State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
Former Governor Tony Earl
Public Service Commissioner Mark Meyer
State Senator and Co-Chair of the Committee on Joint Finance Russ Decker
State Senator Jon Erpenbach
State Senator Bob Jauch
State Senator John Lehman
State Senator Bob Wirch
State Representative Jennifer Shilling
State Representative and Former Majority Leader David Travis
State Representative Amy Sue Vruwink
State Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts
State Representative Donna Seidel
State Representative Mike Sheridan, UAW Local 95 President
2nd Vice Chair of State Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Dottie LeClair
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Joe Wineke
State Representative Frank Boyle
State Representative Kim Hixson
State Representative Josh Zepnick
Wisconsin Democratic Party 2nd Vice Chair, Winnebago County Chair Jef Hall
Wisconsin Democratic Party Secretary Angela Sutkiewicz
8th Congressional District Administrative Committee Dottie LeClair
1st Congressional District Chair Ray Rivera
2nd CD Vice Chair, Dane County Democratic Party Executive Board Member, Peter Rickman
Former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Dane County Democratic Party Executive Board member Don Jones
Former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democratic Party Steve Kean
Dane County Democratic Party Chair Wayne Bigelow
Columbia County Democratic Party Chair Sara Lloyd
Fond du Lac County Democratic Party Chair Rich Mantz
Rock County Democratic Party Chair Tim Rutter
Waukesha County Democratic Party Chair Vic Weers
Washburn County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hansen
Portage County Democratic Party Co-Chair, 7th CD Administrative Committee Member, Greg Hawley
Portage County Democratic Party Co-Chair Lois Lawler
Former Democratic Nominee for the 5th Congressional District Bryan Kennedy
Lake Geneva City Council Member, Alderman Mary Jo Fessenmaier
Portage County Democratic Party Executive Board Member Charlene Figge
Marquette County Democratic Party Chair Jan Banicki
[All Edwards endorsements can be found here.]

Like I said, I know there more names out there, I've just had a hard time finding them -- but it's a start ...

UPDATE: Tony Palmeri notes that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, local Rep. Gordon Hintz, and Gus Doyle (the Gov.'s son) have endorsed Obama.

Amusing ...

I got a good and sincere chuckle from reading this post ...

But where's the outrage at a conservative candidate not wishing his supporters "Merry Christmas!"?

Later on today I'll be checking out Romney's "state financial steering committee" and the other candidates' campaign teams, supporters and endorsers kind of like I've been with state bloggers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alverez Knows a Good Thing When He Sees One

Evidently there was a rumor running around about the University of Nebraska (cough, cough -- broken goods -- cough, cough) looking to Barry Alvarez to fill the vacancy that opened when it fired head football coach Bill Callahan this passed weekend.

Nebraska is, after all, Alvarez's alma mater, and with all the talk of Les Miles leaving LSU to go back to his old school -- Michigan -- this kind of rumor almost seems to evolve naturally.

Anyway, it's not true.

The Kucinich-Paul Platform: Hookers & Strippers for All!

Strange bed fellows, indeed ...

Recently Dennis Kucinich told a crowd he was considering Ron Paul as a potential running-mate in the unlikely event that he wins the Democratic presidential nomination. This would create a bipartisan fringe candidate all-star ticket the likes of which has not been contemplated before -- ever!

While the mind reels at the policies that would result from such a merge of the minds, there is some evidence that sex under a Kucinich-Paul administration would be paradoxically both "free" and expensive. Kucinich has lately received some financial help from famous pornographer Larry Flynt, while today Paul won the endorsement of a notable Nevada brothel owner. Paul already has the backing of shadowy PAC Strippers for Ron Paul.

I'd love to see what the dress code at the White House would be with these two in charge ...

MORE: Craig Crawford thinks that the two should get together if by only of the virtue of their zealous supporters ... regarding which, here's some more on the Ron Paul Blimp.

Farmers Fees

George Farmer, Oshkosh's favorite tax advocate, is back with another winning missive to the NW:

Is this what you wanted? Here's are some of the new taxes from the new state budget (all the information is from an article by Bart Winkler on the WKBT Channel 8 La Crosse Web site.)

$1 more per pack on cigarettes.
$20 more on vehicle registration.
$10 more for driver's license.
$24.50 more for vehicle title.
Up to $11 more for boat registration.
$98 more in property taxes on the average home.
$9 to $11 more to apply to a state university.
5.5 percent more for tuition to a state university.
$8 to $13 more for birth/death certificates and marriage/divorce records.

Furthermore, from what has been reported by the local media, no one can say for sure how much your local property taxes will increase.

Is this what you wanted? I would doubt it. But, how did all this happen? Perhaps it is the result, to some degree, of a air-guitar champ representing you in the State Assembly. I am not sure. But it is something to consider for the next election.

George S. Farmer

Oshkosh

[For the sake of adding a little context to these remarks, here's the WKBT article Farmer cites and here's what I imagine he means by the "local media" piece.]

Well, George, let's just clarify your little willful misrepresentation of the facts here: It is not the result "of an air-guitar champ representing you in the State Assembly." Hintz voted against the budget. Everyone who represents Oshkosh voted against the budget. What more would you have them do, hold a rally at the capitol?

MORE: A letter to the NW tries to remedy Farmer's misstatements.

This Post has Absolutely Nothing to do with Gun Control

Beware the flighty argument that seeks to speak to a specific subject and quickly devolves into a barrage of generalities ...

Jonathan Krause wants to discuss the pending Supreme Court case involving the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. He makes an interesting declarative statement early in his argument:

I am a strict Constitutionalist--believing the Founding Fathers put a lot of thought into the words and the order of them in the document that forms our government and that defines our rights.

Fair enough. But if the Founding Fathers put so much thought into the words they chose, why does Krause feel the need to parse the language of the Second Amendment?:

I believe the framers of the constitution meant "malitia" to mean the general public--that could be called to fight an enemy (or a domestic) threat with their own weapons.

(emphasis added)
Well, if that's the case Krause is the only person in the English-speaking world to think that. I don't know anyone who has ever confused the word "militia" with the phrase "general public." They are two completely separate nouns denoting two completely different concepts.

A "Constitutionalist" is one who, as Krause himself says (or at least seems to suggest), reads the Constitution literally. That's not what Krause is doing here. If, according to Krause's own espoused philosophy of "Constitutionalism," the framers chose their words carefully they would have used the phrase "general public" (or some derivation thereof) if they wanted to mean "general public."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Profiles in Competence

Hiring douchebags like Manny Miranda to essentially teach a fledgling country Democracy is not what the American public had in mind when we were told we were going to be spreading Democracy to Iraq.

The North American Union

It doesn't exist:

Corsi said in an interview that his belief in the NAU stemmed from his realization that it was the only logical explanation for the Bush administration's refusal to police the US-Mexico border adequately. "I kept asking myself why, six years into the war on terror, was Bush not securing the border?" he said.
What the hell kind of logic is that?

Get over yourselves.

That will be all.

So ... How did that Radiohead Album Give-Away Experiment Pan Out?

From Tim Harford:

According to one internet consulting firm, almost two-thirds of those who downloaded the album paid nothing, and those who did pay didn’t pay much – less than £3 on average. That makes sense: much easier to leave no tip when you don’t have to look the waitress in the eye, and Radiohead make more than your waitress anyway.

If the figures are accurate, the band seems to have made £500,000 or less from downloads in just three weeks; their traditionally priced CDs probably made the band 10 times more, at least. But it is too early to say whether this scheme was profit-maximising, especially since Radiohead have criticised these estimates.

So ... not very well, I guess.

I wouldn't exactly start feeling bad for Radiohead, though. They have the rare ability to sell out pretty much any venue they decide to play regardless of the price of admission.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Satanists Stole the Mayor!

I couldn't make this up if my life depended on it:

Centerton, Arkansas mayor Ken Williams resigned last week after, er, an injection of "truth serum" made him realize that he was, um, brainwashed by satanists in the 1970s. Apparently, Williams also remembered that he is actually Don LaRose, a former preacher in Indiana who was married with two kids. In 1980, he ran away and changed his identity to escape the unspecified satanists. Williams's secret came out when his former family tracked him down through a Web site that, stay with me here, Williams himself runs about LaRose's disappearance.


Apparently this guy has no problem telling his story.

It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's ... the Ron Paul Blimp?

This scene could be coming to a skyline near you next month.

Maybe the title of this post should be "Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin Endorses Ron Paul" ...

My first reaction was that this doesn't seem to be a very efficient use of limited campaign funds ... but it turns out that this effort is not being spear-headed by the Paul campaign.

Aside from the money issue, gimmicks like this have a weird way of working in smaller elections. When Fred Thompson first ran for the senate he employed a red pick-up truck to demonstrate that he was just an average guy. Paul Wellstone campaigned with a green school bus. There was the Straight Talk Express that helped John McCain beat George Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire GOP primary. Locally, Rep. Gordon Hintz turned a utility van into a mobile billboard for his run for the state assembly.

The more I think about it, the blimp idea seems oddly appropriate: it's a wacky concept for an odd ball campaign. I don't know why the blimp's itinerary is "nationwide" instead of focusing on just the early primary states, but there's a lot about the Paul campaign that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me ... which is one of the reasons why it's so much fun to watch.

[via NRO]

MORE: Alex Massie's take ...

Brilliant!

Eric Cartman introduces the University of Colorado starting line-up before their game with Nebraska:


Absolutely hysterical.

[via Deadspin]

Artisan Cheese-making

A cool look at the burgeoning artisan cheese movement.

Needless to say, this is great for Wisconsin.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Best. Holiday. Ever.

(Screw you, Arbor Day!)

After watching the Packers whip the bejesus out of Detroit, I'm gonna take the 25% left of my sobriety and eat myself some turkey (I'm a dark meat guy), some stuffing (most under-rated part of the meal ... with gravy, of course), perhaps some veggies ... all the fixings!

Then I'm going to the kids table and tell some stories that sound kinda true but are, in fact, greatly exaggerated ...

And when everyone's finally tossed in the towel, I'm going to kick back in the Lay-Z-Boy and read the latest essay from Francis Fukuyama, provocatively entitled "Should Democracy be Promoted or Demoted?"

There's going to be a quiz on Monday.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

[photo via Deadspin]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Bigger Pack(age)

There is absolutely nothing suggestive about this classic Soviet cigarette advertisement ...

Not a thing ...

Nothing whatsoever ...

[via SPD]

Castle v. Esslinger: The Thrilla Involving the Exchange of Notarized Manila Envelopes

Let's go straight to the tape --

First, the NW runs a story announcing the resolution to the debate over who should pay his legal bills. From the article:

Esslinger said that at the time he only knew that he was under criminal investigation and not the reason, so he thought he should hire a lawyer.

Esslinger did exactly what anyone should do when confronted with a similar situation: "lawyer up." Now that's a phrase that thanks to cop shows has a derogatory tinge to it, but it is both the wise thing to do and his constitutional right. He really shouldn't need to excuse this action, but because people perceive getting a lawyer as a minor admission of guilt -- especially when a public official is involved -- he kinda has to. Getting a lawyer should only be seen as one person admitting he or she is not well acquainted enough with the law to negotiate its intricacies his or her self.

He said he at first tried to get legal advice from then-City Attorney Warren Kraft. However, Kraft told Esslinger that he was unable to talk to him about the situation because Justice Department officials had told him not to.

Esslinger said he thought that since it was an incident involving actions he made while serving the city, the city should pay the bill.

"I think based upon the circumstances and the language that's in the policy, (the city has) to pay it," he said. "I was not given any representation with the city and as an agent of the city I'm due representation."

That's a bit disingenuous. First Esslinger thought Bill Castle was supposed to pay the bill. Now, the NW may have decided to skip over that part of the story (and with some degree of justification), but Paul's rationale for getting the city to pick up the tab is exactly the same reason he provided to Castle for why he should foot the bill. This from the letter Esslinger wrote to Castle:

Because I was acting on behalf of the City of Oshkosh, with legal advice from Mr. Kraft, and because your charges were baseless, if you do not pay the bill, you then will essentially be forcing the taxpayers to pay these attorneys fees.

I ask that you do the appropriate thing and pay my attorneys fees.

This sounds like he gave just as much consideration to the idea that the city's insurance policy would pick up the tab as I did originally.

I find it odd that Esslinger uses the same logic to demand payment from a private individual as he does from the city government. His relationship to both parties is going to be different. Basically this looks like Esslinger shopped around a reason why he should get someone else to pay up and finally found a taker. That can look like buck passing and a desperate effort by one person to say "It's everyone else's fault but mine!"

Back to the NW article --

The DOJ eventually came out with a report stating that it could not find sufficient evidence to support Castle's allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Castle could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

This summary actually sells Esslinger short. The DOJ report was actually more favorable to Paul, saying that he had indeed acted in "good faith" during the meeting in question. In other words, there wasn't enough evidence to support a prosecution because there was no reason to prosecute.

As for the comment-less Castle -- what did they expect? It's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving ... I've been off since Friday afternoon and if my family wasn't coming here for the holiday you can bet your sweet ass I'd be unavailable for comment to anyone who wasn't bringing me a rum-soaked drink with a little umbrella in it.

Now, recently I expressed a curiosity to see the itemized bill Esslinger received from his attorney. Cheryl Hentz was kind enough to do some leg work and track said document down.

Bear with me for a second as I break some numbers down:

The city attorney is paid about $100,000 a year. If he or she works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year (that's 2080 hours for those playing at home -- and by the way, that's the absolute minimum number of hours a city attorney will work a year; even with paid vacation the actual sum will be far more) the C.A. will be working for essentially $48 an hour. Esslinger received a bill at $1680 for 7.4 hours of work. That comes out to about $227 an hour. That's a pretty big disparity.

Just think about that the next time you feel the city attorney is overpaid ...

The problem that I have -- and this is detailed explicitly in the DOJ report -- is that Esslinger sought Warren Kraft out for legal advice prior to the now infamous meeting, then proceeded to ignore Kraft's counsel. So even if he was acting in good faith and in an official capacity, the argument can be made that by casting aside the city attorney's advice and in acting in a manner unbecoming of a city official (remember, it wasn't just Castle that thought Esslinger was acting inappropriately -- several other council members did too) he should not be afforded the protections of, say, access to the city insurance plan.

Essentially, because Esslinger ignored the free legal advice that was given to him by Warren Kraft at the outset of this fiasco the city now has to dip into its insurance coffers. There is a direct line causation flowing from one event to the other. And now somebody is left paying a $1715 legal bill, only it's not the person who should probably be paying.

There will likely be more letter to the NW praising Esslinger for "sticking it to the man" or whatever. In reality he did no such thing. Esslinger shopped around an argument and finally got someone to buy into it. He was probably aided in his efforts by the fact that the city attorney's office is in a state of flux right now.

Or, to put it another way, like all people Esslinger was met with an obstacle, but instead of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, taking the problem head-on and holding himself accountable, he went looking for a hand-out.

Luckily for him, he found one.

Soft Power at its Finest

Behold, Egyptian Death Metal:

“In the West, heavy metal is generally associated with low lifes and trailer trash,” says Dekker, “but the situation in Egypt is completely reversed. These kids are the children of diplomats and other well-off Egyptians who get to travel abroad or who own a satellite television, which is how they got be exposed to heavy metal.”

The Polling Project

An absolutely awesome idea: several prominent web sites from the the right, left and center have banded together to create a database of sorts that tracks what kinds of polls are being fielded during election season. They're calling it the Polling Project.

Help them out if you can.

[via TPM]

Busted!

The nasty, anti-Mormon push polls in Iowa have had a funny way of reaching people who happen to be on Mitt Romney's payroll (... and whom subsequently misrepresented that small fact to the press, among other details).

MORE: Mark Blumenthal at Pollster adds a little perspective:

Today, Dayton and Mair are asking why so many of the respondents that have come forward to report receiving the calls are either Romney supporters or paid Romney staff. The obvious explanation is that the Romney campaign directed supporters that were called to reporters. And in the latest development, TPM's Greg Sargent now reports that the Romney campaign confirms it did just that -- "referred reporters to two recipients of the calls without disclosing that the two were also on the Romney campaign payroll."

The two conservative bloggers are alleging that these ties to the Romney campaign imply something more sinister: Either a poll specifically targeted at Romney supporters in order to create a story, or perhaps an effort to get Romney staffers and supporters to lie to reporters about a non-existent survey.

What follows is a very insightful discussion on the ins and outs of polling. Well worth reading, but the conclusion is clear enough:
So bloggers will speculate and dig further, as we always do, but I am not convinced from the facts before us allow the conclusion that pollster behind this survey intended to contact only Romney supporters.

We Represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild ...

At long last, the Munchkins get their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Man, is this a great country or what?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome to the Party, Ms. McBride. Can I Take Your Coat?

Jessica McBride is about 6 weeks behind the curve:

Did I miss it or did John Gard announce against Steve Kagen?

The Gard campaign is now putting out press releases against him.

Good. This is a seat conservatives should reclaim.

My, that was insightful!

She's probably right about the 8th CD being a district that conservatives should reclaim, but that's not going to happen. At the moment the 8th is a toss-up, at best, for the GOP and that's not good for Gard. Larry Sabato calls the 8th a toss-up and that's with Mark Green running to reclaim his seat (something that's not easy to do from Tanzania) -- and John Gard is no Mark Green.

Let's face it, no one's going to confuse the WI-8 '08 race for being a battle of political wits. Both candidates are going to be scripted to within an inch of their lives and if they veer ever so slightly off message there will be someone from DC to smack them in the back of the head to remind them to stay the course (as it were). The difference will be money. Gard will not be able to marshal the kind of resources he was able to pull in last year and Kagan now has a whole new set of friends on the East Coast who exist for little more in life than to help him (and his ilk) raise funds. When two less than dynamic candidates go head-to-head, I'll take the one with more money any day of the week.

Meow!

Pull up a chair, open a beer, sit back and relax for a splendid little foreign policy cat fight!

Norman Podhoretz vs. the Economist (but not really).

Great stuff!

The editors at Democracy in America got the ball rolling by calling out Podhoretz, providing readers with evidence from an Iranian Scholar at George Mason University by the name of Shaul Bakhash that a quotation attributed to the late Ayatollah Khomeini (this guy, remember?) and frequently noted by N-Pod and his neocon fellow travel Amir Taheri is absolute bullshit.

Andrew Sullivan picks up on the story and posts it on his blog.

Podhoretz reads said post and then strikes back with a little background help from Taheri.

Finally, the Economist senses its mission has been accomplished and leaves the Iranian scholars to duke it out themselves:

Mr Podhoretz entitles his post "A response to Andrew Sullivan", since Mr Sullivan linked to and popularised our posting. But that is a misleading title, as would be "A response to The Economist". Our posting relied mainly on Mr Bakhash's research.

So this is now between Mr Bakhash and Mr Taheri, two Farsi-speaking Iran experts. Readers should read both their original claims in their own words, any follow-ups, and Mr Podhoretz's case for bombing Iran themselves. This blog is not going to settle the argument for or against war with Iran. The point is that the truth matters. There is plenty of good evidence against Iran; using bad evidence should not be necessary if the case is strong. But if Mr Taheri's quotation holds up, it should be taken into account.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you pick a fight on the internet!

So keep your eyes peeled for a Bakhash-Taheri cage match in the future ...

MORE: One of N-Pod's/Taheri's explanations for the lack of circulation the quotation in question has these days is that the Iranian revolutionary government has done a damn good job of censoring it. Julian Sanchez makes the very good point that if what the Ayatollah said is now suppressed by his successors, then it must not really be all that important to them these days and is probably not very good evidence that the Iranian leadership is, as Podhoretz says, "suicidal."

On a very visceral level it seems ridiculous to be having to argue this point.

Can Somebody Please Give Dr. Thompson his Nobel Prize Already?

I'm sure the stem cell breakthrough news has already made its way hither and yon. Reaction seems to be good from all sides. Ramesh Ponnuru cautions pro-lifers on being overly jubilant too soon:

It’s not a time for gloating. For one thing, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves in estimating the political impact of this breakthrough: We should wait at least a few days to see how the advocates of embryo-destructive stem-cell research react before concluding that the battle is over.

[Got that, Dad29? James Thompson is one of the world's leading advocates of embryonic stem cell research -- it seems strange that a conservative, Catholic, pro-lifer would congratulate him on anything ... ]

On the left, Kevin Drum takes exception to Ponnuru:

I realize that we all have a tendency to demonize our political opponents, but this is crazy. Ponnuru seems to be implying that there's some sizable contingent on the left that prefers embryonic research for its own sake and will keep fighting for it even if this new approach proves itself completely successful. But why? Inertia? Political bloody mindedness? A demonic delight in destroying embryos for its own sake?


The discovery is apparently as legit as they come and represents a rare big step forward across the scientific method. Wired notes that the stem cell discovery comes on the heels of last week's monkey cloning announcement in Australia:

So what about fraudulence or mistakes? Nature, which published the monkey clone research, took the unusual step of having the study independently replicated before publishing it. Usually that happens after publication, and if it doesn't work, people never hear about it -- after all, what editor wants to publish a story about a finding that wasn't actually found? And because the so-called cell de-differentiation studies were carried out by two different groups, each doing near-identical research, they've essentially been validated.
So that should put an end to the embryonic stem cell debate, right? Not quite ... It would be great if it did, but at the moment it appears too soon to tell.

Regardless of what direction the debate goes, Thompson's discovery puts research at UW firmly in the driver's seat of what a lot of people consider to be the most promising branch of biology in science at the moment.

MORE: From Kevin Drum:

Does Bush therefore deserve some of the credit for yesterday's dramatic breakthrough in creating stem cells out of adult skin cells?

Well, Shinya Yamanaka is a Japanese biologist from Kyoto University, so he probably wasn't much affected by Bush's decision. But how about the American scientist? What does he have to say?

One of the researchers involved in yesterday's reports said the Bush restrictions may have slowed discovery of the new method, since scientists first had to study embryonic cells to find out how to accomplish the same thing without embryos.

"My feeling is that the political controversy set the field back four or five years," said James Thomson, who led a team at the University of Wisconsin and who discovered human embryonic stem cells in 1998.

Grover Norquist's Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Norquist wants to end electoral nepotism:

A bipartisan revulsion at this recrudescence of an aristocracy – Democrats think there have been too many Bushes, Republicans think there have been too many Clintons – has led concerned citizens (OK, me) to launch a campaign to enact a constitutional amendment to ban this practice. The draft now circulating was written by the legal scholar Bruce Fein and reads:

Section 1. No spouse, sibling or child of an elected or appointed federal, state or local official outside the civil service may immediately succeed that official in the same elected or appointed office.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation, including exempting certain elected or appointed offices from its general proscription and defining the term “immediately succeed” to prevent circumventions.

The sad thing is that this proposal punishes people who can't help but be related to successful politicians. If people don't want the relatives of elected officials getting into the family business there is a far easier way to do it: don't elect them.

MORE: Angry Bear calls Norquist out.

MORE STILL: Andrew Sullivan is of a similar mind.

Better Living Through Science

Remember that really awesome spray-on hair that used to be advertised on late night TV?

Well, let's just say it's truly amazing what folks can do with an aerosol can these days ...

Oh, Just Ban Smoking Already!

First of all, let me just say that I loathe the phrase "Nanny State" and think that any commentator who uses it with a straight face is welcoming a full-blown Freudian interpretation of his argument as a response. In fact, I may adopt that policy in the future

That being said, it seems to be an extremely effective framing device that primarily conservatives use for few other reasons than too feminize the opposition and to pit them against what they would have you believe to be the "cultural elites" (who else can afford a nanny?).

There are two bills before running through the state pipeline that will inspire critics to scream "Nanny State!" The first is the smoking ban. Regardless of whether the smoking ban is successful this time around or not, there will be no smoking in bars in Wisconsin within the next 10 years. Period. It's just a matter of time, folks. It's best to accept this now.

This trajectory started back in the early and mid-1990s when most national fast food restaurants went entirely smoke-free (honestly, the people I now see smoking the most around fast food joints are the employees). Not long after most locally owned restaurants closed off their smoking sections. Then came the full bans in places like California, Colorado, Boston, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Chicago and New York. Christ, even New Hampshire is now smoke free.

At this rate, America's final smoking section will be a small room in Iowa.

I seriously don't understand where people who oppose the smoking ban get off thinking this is about them, i.e. the smokers. Frankly no one's really all that concerned with you. The bill is intended to protect the people that aren't smoking. And there is an increasing body of evidence that they need protecting.

There are three arguments that I have heard most frequently given to oppose smoking bans. The first is the economic consequences to bars should a bar be implemented. Lobbies like the Tavern League say that bars will suffer a decline in business should the ban pass. Thus far in places that have a ban bars have actually seen an increase in business. The Tavern League will likely counter this argument with some nonsense about the "bar culture" here in Wisconsin -- well, if that's really the case, then the "bar scene" will survive a smoking ban.

If a middle ground is needed for some kind of compromise, then it might be wise to look at an "exemption clause" like the one used in Washington, DC.

The second excuse is the "slippery slope" argument. Some smokers and civil libertarians are worried that by banning smoking in bars the legislature will be opening the doors to banning smoking in private residences or cars or whathaveyou. There are examples of this actually happening. The focus of any proper smoking ban should never be to punish adults for engaging in behavior, however unhealthy, that is still legal, but as long a bans is intended to protect non-smokers it should be given consideration.

The last argument is one of the most asinine wastes of breath I've ever heard and typically sounds a lot like this: Well, what if I enjoy having a cigarette with my beer? Then eat outside. Well, what if it's winter? Then wear a jacket. This isn't about you, this is about the people around you.

[Incidentally, I think this could be a very effective marketing phrase to help pass such legislation. Nearly every smoker I know, no matter how much they enjoy and defend their habits, knows at least on an intrinsic level that what they do is not optimal healthwise. They don't exactly go around promoting or encouraging others to pick up their hobby. A smoking ban shouldn't be about smokers' convenience. It should be about public health.]

In the future this debate will look just as silly as the great seat belt debate of the 20th Century does now.

The second bill making its way through the capitol is a ban on text messaging while driving. Sen. Alan Lasee is the author. Alan Lasee!* Honestly, this is a no-brainer. No one would condone the use of a lap-top while driving and that's essentially what text messaging is: using a small computer.

Neither of these issues are about personal freedom. They're about public safety. If you think you have a right to enjoy a smoke with your beer, then there's someone with just as much of a right to enjoy his or her beer with a breath of fresh air, and frankly that smoke-free personal air space is constantly getting larger and larger.

* CORRECTION: Originally, I had "Sen. Frank Lasee" as the author of the text messaging driving bill. I got the office right, but the Lasee wrong: it's Sen. Alan Lasee who's introducing the bill, not Frank Lasee.

Tune in next week when I confuse Jeff Fitzgerald with Scott over something or another.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where's the Funny?

The Politico has a pleasant article on the dirth of political humor infecting your television and mine. If you're as starved as I am you can go to LateShowWritersOnStrike.com for a jolt of the Lettermanesque yuks the world demands.

Retirees Leave GOP to List Further Right

Which is not exactly the place Republicans want to be right now:

Of the 17 Republican House members to announce their retirements this year — Ferguson joined the club on Monday — eight have built reputations on Capitol Hill as centrists willing to work with Democrats to get legislation passed. Political observers warn that those are exactly the type of candidates the GOP needs to regain its congressional majority.
Democrats retook Congress by finding candidates like Sen. Jim Webb and Rep. Brad Ellsworth who had centrist appeal. Getting more conservative in moderate districts is a recipe for disaster.

Ron Paul's Moneymaker

Ron Paul gathered $4.3 million in contributions during the fourth quarter today, doubling the haul the campaign brought in during its now famous November 5th Moneybomb.

This is, frankly, amazing. And there's another Moneybomb scheduled for December 16th (the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party) that will receive a huge amount of media attention during the run-up. It's entirely conceivable that the next contribution day could bring in $5-6+ million, though no one can really be sure what's going to happen since these have never been done before.

When I have spoken of Ron Paul in the past I've either spoken of him in national or local terms -- I haven't really thought much about what role, if any, Paul can play in Wisconsin. To a large extent this is not an important question because there's a good chance the GOP nomination will be settled before Wisco Republicans have a chance to cast their ballots in the February 19th primary, but that doesn't mean Paul's candidacy can't say something about Wisconsin.

There's an otherwise unimpressive article on Paul in this week's Isthmus that tangentially reminded me of something I had forgotten entirely: when Ed Thompson ran for governor 5 years ago he received 11% of the vote as a candidate with the Libertarian Party. That's 185,085 votes statewide (he received 3689 votes, or about 8%, in Winnebago Co. alone).

Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but they do require a little more context. Thompson was essentially trading off his brother's name recognition. There was an extremely unpopular incumbent in office. The legislative caucus scandal had been simmering in the media for over a year before the election. All of these things certainly contributed to a surge in Ed Heads at the time, not to mention the 52,161 votes for other third party candidates.

In Oshkosh there have been more giant homemade Ron Paul signs springing up of late (corner of Murdock and Elmwood, and I think I saw one on Parkway just a few blocks from the Boys and Girls club). Yard signs are a lousy way of gaging support (to say nothing of getting a message out), but I can't help think there might be a strong undercurrent of libertarianism that is just waiting to bubble up to the surface. I don't want to start making any predictions, but I can't wait to see how much of the vote he picks up here in Wisconsin.

Yet Another Sign Clinton Will Win

"Hillary -- Satan '08" Shwag.

When one side resorts to this kind of parodic homage it is almost an admission that they have accepted the target's inevitability as the establishment.

Fred Heads Start to Feel Some Buyer's Remorse

From CQ:

Several House Republicans who endorsed Fred Thompson for president now say that they are frustrated with what they view as an apathetic campaign, and at least one regrets having committed to the former Tennessee senator.

“I think he’s kind of done a belly flop,” said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the “Super Tuesday” primaries. “We’ll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he’s going to get beat.”

[...]

“He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it,” another dissatisfied Thompson backer told CQ Politics. “I can’t see me bailing on him, but there’s some frustration.”

[...]

Some of Thompson’s endorsers say they aren’t lifting a finger.

“I’ve kind of pulled back. I’m not not supporting him, but I’m not doing anything,” said a third lawmaker.

What could be even more troubling for Thompson is what that lawmaker said GOP activists outside the capital Beltway are saying: “Now they’re calling me and saying ‘What’s he doing?’ It’s almost like he doesn’t want it.”

Thompson is the favorite among members of the Cheddarsphere. It will be interesting to see if any of his online supporters start to bail on him any time soon.

Esslinger v. Castle: Whoever Wins, We Lose

Paul Esslinger's Press Secretary, Kent Monte, is reporting that the City of Oshkosh will be footing the legal fees for the DOJ investigation of Esslinger by way of the city's insurance plan.

To be honest, the idea of an insurance policy picking up the tab is not one I gave any consideration to originally. I was under the impression that this was going to be an "out of pocket" expense, as it were, for the city. This resolution actually makes a certain degree of sense. After all, bizarre instances such as this are the reason why cities buy insurance policies. In my opinion, this just should render further discussion of the matter moot.

Of course it will not, so it's probably worth stepping back for a minute and looking at the situation with a little perspective.

Esslinger's bill totaled $1715.02. The Council member was being investigated for a class H felony, which carried a possible penalty of up to 6 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. In the grand scheme of things $1700 is small price to pay -- so far as legal tabs are concerned it could actually represent as little as a day's worth of work for an attorney. It's important to note that Esslinger's won't even be the largest legal bill the City of Oshkosh (or its insurer) pays this week. Not by a long shot.

So it's really the accusation of impropriety that's offended the sensibilities of Esslinger's supporters -- and that's understandable. But what has to be remembered here is that the reason the city's insurance is picking up the bill here (at least, apparently) is that Esslinger was acting in an official capacity. Well, so was Bill Castle by asking for an investigation. Presumably he would be entitled to the same protections under the city's insurance policy. Why an insurance company would essentially go after itself in such an instance makes no sense.

For reasons that don't involve Paul Esslinger at all (let me be clear about that) -- I'd like to see the bill audited. I'm afraid I can't say much more about this without delving into what can only be considered rumor and hearsay. I doubt the city will bother doing this, but if the bill becomes public record, as I imagine it will, it could be worth the time of some independent third party -- I don't know, say the local newspaper? -- to do so, if possible.

New Wisco President '08 Poll

A new SurveyUSA poll via Pollster:
General Election Match-ups:

Clinton 47%, McCain 45%
Clinton 49%, Giuliani 42%
Clinton 53%, Romney 37%
Clinton 53%, Huckabee 36%

McCain 47%, Obama 43%
Obama 47%, Giuliani 42%
Obama 50%, Romney 38%
Obama 52%, Huckabee 35%
The sampling error for each of the surveys runs at about +/- 4.4%.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How do I Love You?

Let Tyler Cowen count the ways ...

Lambeau Field Party Houses

Awesome.

Man, is there Nothing the Nazis didn't Try to get Away With?

From a post aptly entitled "5 Armies Hopped Up on Drugs":
During World War II, Nazi Germany definitely led the pack in its use of amphetamines, cocaine, and other “performance-enhancing” drugs. In fact, amphetamine pills were included in every German soldier’s first-aid kit, and Nazi researchers developed chewing gum that delivered a dose of cocaine with each piece. But that wasn’t all! According to a book by German author and criminologist Wolf Kemper on the subject, Nazis on Speed, one of the substances tested by the Nazis in 1944, D-IX, was actually a cocaine-based compound that included both amphetamine and a morphine-related chemical to dull pain. The experimental drug was tested on prisoners of war, and

Nazi doctors found the test subjects could march 55 miles without a rest

before they collapsed. The Nazis hoped that the drug could put some fighting spirit into their armies, which were by that time being defeated on all fronts, but luckily the war ended before production could begin.

By the way, Nazis on Speed sounds like an absolutely inspired title for a '70s b-movie.

Hustler Magazine Endorses Kucinich

No joke:

Porn publisher Larry Flynt was scheduled to host a fundraiser for Kucinich in Los Angeles on Friday night, according to the adult entertainment industry trade publication Xbiz.com

A Flynt spokesperson told the publication that the cocktail party for roughly 150 people was the first time the controversial publisher has ever hosted a political fundraiser, though Flynt is politically active and has attended many similar events in the past.

I have nothing more to add to this ... I just think if I used the word "porn" more often on this blog I would start to see more traffic.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Omnibus Reader

* Nasty anti-Mormon push polls debut in New Hampshire.

* America's Next Top Doctrine?

* OPEC is not thrilled about the weakness of the US dollar.

* Israel and the Vatican got along better when they didn't have full diplomatic relations.

* The weird twists behind the Blackwater, State Dept. Inspector General's office brouhaha.

* Want to see the world? Lonely Planet has a travel guide to Afghanistan now available. Read with caution.

* You know how when you win the Superbowl (or the NCAA women's lacrosse championships) you get to go to the White House and meet the President? Well, the same thing happens when you win the Nobel Prize ... Al Gore will return to the White House on Nov. 26th with other Nobel laureates to meet with President Bush.

* Bitch (see for yourself).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jim VandeHei is Tall ...

or Dana Parino is short.

Either way, if you want to see the Oshkosh native and Politico co-founder get all up in the grill of the White House press secretary, go here.

What Can I Say? The Title Made Me Laugh

Christopher Hitchens is Totally OK with You Fondling His Balls

But Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

Take it away, Mr. Balko ...

Morning Omnibus Reader

* Nasty push polls debut in Iowa.

* Comet Holmes will be all kinds of visible this weekend.

* I read Ivy League student newspapers so you don't have to! From the Harvard Crimson: "Harvard Sucks"

* "Musharraf Remains the US's Best Option"

* The Catholic Church will beatify the first indigenous Argentine this weekend, raising all kinds of messy issues involving race, ethnicity and colonialism.

* And last, but not least, I'd like to draw readers' attention to this excerpt:

Since September 11, the whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been fodder for the rumor mill. Bin Laden sightings pop up now and then, but the rumors have never been substantiated. Since bin Laden fled the fighting in Tora Bora in 2001, U.S. intelligence has had few leads to follow up on. But bin Laden is widely believed to be operating in Pakistan’s rugged tribal regions of the Northwest Frontier Province.

The latest rumor comes from Ahmad Farooq, a Pakistani Pashtun Taliban fighter, who claimed to have last seen bin Laden in the Chitral district of the Northwest Frontier Province in September of 2003.

Let me just reiterate the take-away fact here: the latest rumor, as opposed to legitimate intelligence, of bin Laden's whereabouts is over four years old.

It Begins ...

It's snowing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trust Me on this One -- Just Watch It

If you don't live in the Madison viewing area, watch this -- it might just be the most astonishing and heartbreaking thing you'll ever see come out of a Wisconsin television station.

One would hope that this is just the beginning of the retelling and celebration of this woman's incredible story.

All Hail the Black Market!

Q: What happens when you ban unhealthy, but delicious, junk food from schools?

A: Students get a lesson in underground economics.

[via RB]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Change of Gov't Crew Gets the Ball Rolling

The organizational meeting was held Wednesday. If the reports are accurate and "around 25" people showed up (I hope there was a sign-in sheet ...), and every attendee is up for gathering signatures, then each person will need to collect about 150 signatures (or 147.28, to be precise) for the measure to be placed on the ballot in the next 54 days. That's about three signatures a day, per volunteer, between tomorrow and the January 17th deadline.

I'm sure Babblemur's will have more on the meeting tomorrow.

UPDATE: This morning's story is a little different -- and more specific -- than the primer from last night, noting that only "about 14" people in attendance demonstrated support for the measure. Obviously that changes the numbers listed above a little. Now, with only 14 people gathering signatures each volunteer will have to collect 263 names, or just under 5 per day per person until the deadline.

It's important to note that there will likely be more people collecting signatures than were at the meeting. Some will join the effort once word of mouth gets around town and I'd wager a few folks were simply unable to make the meeting for reasons that are entirely understandable.

MORE: Here's Babblemur take on the meeting.

Just as an aside, I like the "doorway to Northeast Wisconsin" phrase ... That or some kind of variant might work well in marketing material. It has a very welcoming feel to it ...

Ron Paul, Rock Star?

The dude gets an article in Rolling Stone -- what further proof of rock star status is needed? -- and he's being called a neo-Nazi sympathizer by the rest of the Right.

Men at Work

I'm doing some remodeling by updating the blogroll and whathaveyou. Previously I only added local blogs to the sidebar when they first added me to theirs. Now that I think about it, that's kind of a silly policy; so now all Oshkosh area bloggers (with one exception) have found a link here at the Chief.

If I'm missing someone, please let me know.

Bless You, Judith Regan

Recent revelations regarding the Rupert Murdoch-Judith Regan-Bernie Kerik-Rudy Giuliani axis of comedy reminded me of a very funny essay published in the Washington Post almost three years ago:

And, frankly, Bernie, we don't care that the guy you called a "top-shelf guy" later pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge. Hey, as we say in Washington, "mistakes were made."

That story made us miss you, Bernie, but it didn't make us miss you half as much as the story in yesterday's Daily News -- the one about your "secret love nest."

Oh, boy, did we love that story. We loved it so much we've been e-mailing it to each other all day. It said that while you were living with your lovely dental hygienist wife and two kids in "posh digs" in New Jersey, you also had a Manhattan "love nest" where you entertained not one but two mistresses.

God bless you, Bernie, you have more libido than the rest of the Bush Cabinet put together!

The first alleged mistress is a prison guard, and, Bernie, we understand how a man's heart can go pitter-pat at the sight of a woman in uniform.

The whole thing can be found here.