Friday, April 30, 2010

CSI Oshkosh

Normally we have nothing but good things to say about local law enforcement, but in this case: What they hell were they thinking?
A spokesman for the Oshkosh Police Department said a derogatory message was sent to another person from Eliasen's e-mail account. Police determined that Eliasen did not send the email.

Police spokesman Joe Nichols would not divulge the contents of the email and was unable to say why detectives interrupted the televised meeting shortly after 8 p.m.

Eliasen said he hadn't seen the message as of late Thursday morning. He said a detective told him the "very unsavory message" was sent from his account at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday to an individual he had been corresponding with about selling a car on Craigslist.

He said he suspects someone hacked into his e-mail account after he checked his messages using an iPad in a Milwaukee store on Sunday. Police told him a footnote in the suspicious email indicated it was sent using an iPad.

Eliasen said he wished police would have waited until after the meeting to talk to him and is concerned about the negative implications of having police interrupt a school board meeting, which is a public gathering and broadcast on cable TV. The meeting was Eliasen's first in which official action was taken. He was elected to the board in April.

The meeting was suspended for about 20 minutes while police spoke with Eliasen.
He said a detective told him the matter was urgent because electronic crimes can be time sensitive.
Unless the person who wrote that email claimed he was going to kill a busload of nuns and orphans as soon as he was done typing, I'm really not sure how time sensitive an email can be. Let's put it another way: if the alleged crime was so time sensitive, why didn't the police deal with the issue before the meeting?

Just judging by what little information is available to the public at the moment, I'd would imagine a pubic apology is in order.

Wisconsin Epistemic Closure, Vol. 2

There was a time when the GOP would be ecstatic about a former Marine with significant business and government executive experience, and name recognition one couldn't buy in the state -- but apparently that time has passed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Titsami® and Assalanche®

Just in case.


Found here.

Wisconsin Epistimic Closure, Vol. 1

From the Jiblog:
I'm not sure who is in charge of the Leinenkugel campaign, but they had better do a hell of a lot better job of crafting a story for their candidate or he is going to avoid getting his butt kicked in the Republican primary. And it has to start by openly repudiating his old boss, Jim Doyle.
Yeah, Leinenkugel better start pandering to me and telling me what I want to hear right the fuck now!

Just Come Out of the Closet Already, Maichle

I'll take this to be an admission of responsibility.

We all know it's you.

"Epistemic Closure" Comes to Wisconsin

The last few weeks I've been hoping for a Wisconsin-specific example that could contribute to the hotly discussed "epistemic closure" debate raging through the internets.

Well, better late than never.

Your TV Station Sucks!

This fall's TV schedule today:
According to an analysis of pilot orders by Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have ordered a total of 84 pilots, and of those 44 are comedies. Last year, the big four ordered 81 pilots, of which 34 were comedies. The drama orders are basically flat, with 35 ordered this spring compared to 34 last year. DiClemente did not include the CW, but that network has six drama pilots. The CW does not program comedies, at least not intentionally.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kyle Maichle Can Run, but He Can't Hide

When Wisconsin's Shittiest Blog©, Northshore Exponent, mysteriously went dark a few months ago we shed a solitary tear because we were going to miss Kyle Maichle's vacuous, grammatically-challenged posts. It was kind of like head-hunting for the fat kid during a game of dodge ball in 4th grade gym class: it may not have been the noble thing to do, but boy was it a self-esteem builder!

Anyway, tonight we found where Mr. Maichle's been hiding and we couldn't be happier with the news because it turns out Maichle has decided to train his creepy obsession with DPW chair Mike Tate into a wonderfully inept blog called Mike Tate Watch.

Honestly, I got glass-cutting nipples when I came across this piece of work.

Maichle has decided not to attach his name to this project, but his finger prints are all over this nonsense. Case in point: his persistent use of the nickname "dirty" to describe a former candidate of no consequence (a staple of his earlier work). The funny thing is that the anonymous author actually tries to pass himself off as someone other than Maichle ("Thanks to our good friend Kyle Maichle at North Shore Exponent").

Weak, dude. Really fucking weak. Like it isn't painfully obvious that you're the guy behind "MTW" ...

This is going to be fun. Maye he'll finally tell us who won Federal Douche Bag of the Year?

Outgoing Wisconsin College Republicans Chair Tells GOP to Suck It

Her parting shots appear to be hastily thrown together, long-winded and even rambling, but former Wisconsin CR chair Lora Rae Anderson clearly is not happy with the Republican party.

Here's are some of the highlights from her press release, which isn't exactly written to MLA specs:
  • In 2008, the Republican Party was happy to announce that they had passed their “most conservative platform ever.” This might be appealing to current members of the Republican Party but is not appealing to the vast majority of moderate Americans.
  • The Republican Party is alienating a younger, more progressive generation through its new ‘conservative platform’ which ignores issues such as gay marriage ... This is an area where most College Republicans agree, but for one reason or another, stay quiet and don’t stand up to the older members of our party” said Anderson.
A CR chair who supports gay marriage? Next thing you know she'll be calling out Glenn Beck!
  • A few notable individuals in the Republican Party and in the Conservative Movement (which the Republican Party bows to), have gone unchecked in the past year. One such example was Pat Robertson and his comments on the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Others include those Republicans who voted against Senator Al Frankin’s amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriation Bill, condemning rape. Also to be included would be Glenn Beck, who, in his speech at CPAC this year criticized all government spending and was hypocritical enough to express that he was self taught in his paradigm, and learned at a public library.
Yikes! (Hey, we know she watches the Daily Show.)
  • I will not be renewing my membership to the Eau Claire County Republican Party or the Republican Party of Wisconsin for the year 2010.
  • Juneau County DA, Scott Southworth threatening prosecution to any teacher who teach sex education because of his clearly skewed and extreme interpretation of law. It has been proven time and time again that sex education reduces abortion rates, and has helped society.
  • “I understand that the issue of ‘promoting the party at all costs’ exists on both sides of politics, but at this point I wish to call out the Republicans as I have supported them and worked with them and they have yet to attempt to bring justice to a diverse group of Americans. Extremism has never done anything productive for any majority in history. I ask that members of the Republican party open their minds but more importantly open their hearts. To those individuals who have held ‘unpopular’ opinions in the party, I ask you to speak out, as I regret having not about numerous issues. You may not make a difference right away, but eventually we can make real progress for Wisconsin and the United States and help political activists to understand that sensible moderates can bring progress to America.”
If Anderson wanted a career in GOP politics -- and as state CR chair she was certainly in the fast lane to reach that goal -- this is a career suicide note. It's the kind of principled stand only a young person could accomplish. This type of act took guts, independent of political beliefs or party affiliation.

I, for one, would love to hear the rest of her story. Anderson should seriously consider writing a book about her experiences with the CRs. They make wonderful reading material -- here's great example from the New Republic. I'm sure she can relate.

Republican Voter Fraud

Just as bad as ACORN!

Was Bush Poisoned in Office?

This is jaw-droppingly astonishing -- from Laura Bush's upcoming memoir:

Her assertion that the U.S. presidential party attending the 2007 G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, might have been poisoned is also eyebrow-raising.

I arrived and began my events, but by the afternoon of [June] seventh, I could barely stand up. Over the next day nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken, even George, who started to feel sick during an early morning staff briefing. … [O]ne of our military aides had difficulty walking and a White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear. Exceedingly alarmed, the Secret Service went on full alert, combing the resort for potential poisons. ... The overriding fear was that terrorists had gotten control of a dangerous substance and planted it at the resort. ... [O]ur military aide's gait has never returned to normal, nor has our senior staffer regained full hearing in that ear. The most concrete conclusion any doctors could reach was that we contracted a virus.

I'm dumbfounded.

Great Moments in Awful Legislation

Take it away, Arizona:

USA Today is reporting that the state of Arizona will need the federal government's help in order to enforce its newly passed and very controversial immigration law. According to the paper, "Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, says federal assistance is 'critical' to what he describes as an unprecedented effort to prepare officers as soon as this summer to enforce the law, which gives local police authority to identify and arrest illegal immigrants."

Just think about that for a second: Arizona passed a law that it knew the current administration hated while all along knowing that said law cannot be meaningfully enforced without the cooperation of that same administration. Bonkers, right? Kind of like asking your intended victim for the bat you need to beat him up.

No wonder this bill, which was written by a birther, is getting the cold shoulder from the Bush Crew. (Though this isn't all that unexpected. Bush was always rather receptive to immigration reform, or at least cold to the kind of nativist nonsense that is now law in Arizona.)

God = Quo Erat Demonstratum, Bitches

This is simply wonderful. From -- and just try to twist your mind around this -- the Fox News Science section:
A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah’s Ark.

Notice the discovery was made by evangelicals and not archaeologists or scientists. I wonder from what exalted institution these intrepid explorers hail?

Yeung Wing-Cheung, from the Noah’s Ark Ministries International research team that made the discovery, said: “It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it.”

The Noah's Ark Ministries International? Who needs independent verification when you've got the experts on the case!

MORE: Here's a better way of putting it:

Yesterday, when we first saw the Drudge headline that a group claimed to have found Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat, we were skeptical. Not because we don't believe in the biblical story, but because the Evangelical Christian group that says they found it is called "Noah's Ark Ministries International" and, unlike normal archaeology groups, has a vested interest in trying to prove the biblical story of the flood. It would be a little bit like if a Scientology group called, "No Really, Xenu Really Existed" was the one, not a geology group, to find evidence of the hydrogen bombs in Earth's volcanoes that blew up all the thetans.

"People of a Traditional Orientation"

This is just hilarious.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jonathan Krause: A Failure (to Communicate)

In today's episode of Jonathan Krause Tries to Justify His Existence, everyone's favorite soundboard tweaker tries to show his work for last week's calculation of his own tax burden.

First he throws a bunch of items at his reader, none of which have values attached to then before arriving at the figure that 27.6% of his taxable income goes to taxes. Last week it was 44.5%. Either way -- and this is important -- THERE'S NO WAY TO CONFIRM THIS BECAUSE KRAUSE DOESN'T PROVIDE HIS ANNUAL INCOME.

This is the fundamental problem with talking about one's tax burden publicly: short of posting his tax returns online for all to see, there's simply no way to verify any of his claims; and since what Krause claims is his tax burden one week is different from what he claims is his tax burden the next, well, we just don't have any faith in his ability to get his story straight.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that Krause is an awful communicator. When he made his initial claim that "my wife and I paid 28-percent of gross income in federal taxes and withholdings last year," Krause should have realized that, since there are only four tax brackets -- of which 28% is one -- his readers would have interpreted that number to be a tax bracket and not the finally tally of the voodoo he tried to pass off today. This is no one's fault but Krause's own. Again, I don't even know if this brand new number that he came up with today is federal taxes or the whole thing.

One way for Krause to remedy this is to keep his story straight. Krause's rhetoric last week was apocalyptic -- "44.5% of my income goes to taxes!!!" Now it's more measured? Krause is just back-tracking because someone called him out on his bullshit. Krause needs learn how to communicate more clearly or to stop exaggerating to prey on his audience's worse fears.

We have no expectation of any discussion of Krause's personal tax burden going any further until he publishes his tax returns online ... something that's not likely to happen any time soon. The whole point of trying to determine Krause's tax burden wasn't to do his taxes, but to demonstrate that his concept of his tax burden was grossly exaggerated. After all, this was a guy who brags that he knows the "actual cost of taxes in my life." We thing we did an alright job of showing that he really doesn't have the first clue given what little information we had to work with.

A Ron Johnson Pre-ndorsement

Brookfield blogger Kyle Prast gives Oshkosh senate hopeful Ron Johnson her endorsement:
If you recall, I first mentioned Ron Johnson as a possibility in early April: Run, Johnson, Neumann, Grothman, Kanavas, Leibham, RUN! Spare us from Leinenkugel. (Notice, I gave him top billing.)

In that post, I suggested people call Ron to urge him to run. "If Mr. Johnson is indeed as described above, I could get behind him. Maybe you would like to contact him? I found this phone number on the internet for Pacur [his company]- (xxx) 236-xxxx. [Go to link if you want the number -- ed.]"

Well, I followed my advice and called. Ron returned my call and we had a nice conversation. He is strongly considering running. He emphasized that if he would, it would be as a Citizen Legislator, not a Career Politician. Since that time I spoke with him again and have emailed a little. He seems to be just what we are looking for.
So, he's got that going for him.

Demography is Destiny

The rising generation of Americans will be significantly less religious those that came before it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Brian Eno + Nick Clegg

Go figure:

Britain's gone mad for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg over the past week, elevating the onetime longshot to frontrunner status in Britain's election. As it turns out, like David Bowie and U2 before him, Clegg had help from a good producer.

Pioneering glam rocker, ambient composer and pop producer Brian Eno signed on with Clegg as an advisor in 2007. Somewhat bizzarely, the 59-year-old was brought on to advise the Liberal Democrats about youth issues, but once again, it seems like Eno spotted a trend before it got big.

Palin's Shelf-life

Just some follow up on the Palin story from last night:

Palin's celebrity is largely based on her potential to one day be President. Her celebrity and earning power declines as this potential diminishes. Under these circumstances, Palin was at her most powerful (and potentially lucrative) the day John McCain introduced her as his running mate. Since then, however, her approval numbers have steadily declined. Given that her entire shtick is to stay true to core values and principles, it's highly unlikely that she will in any way evolve beyond her current pithy provocations and rote conservative talking points.

Basically, Sarah Palin as a consumer product has a shelf-life.

Our guess is that the upper end of her expiration date is between six and eight years. Why that long? Because her fans will forgive her for not getting into the 2012 race for the White House for any number of reasons -- bad electoral year, liberal media blah blah blah, family issues, etc. -- but when she doesn't show up to run in 2016, even her biggest supporters will notice her window has closed.

Every year between now and then her song and dance will get a little older, more predictable and will mean a little less. She may cater to a consumer that values brand loyalty above all else, but she can't play herself off as an anti-establishment figure from inside the establishment year after year before folks start to look for another "rogue."

Of course, if she does run in either 2012 or 2016 and loses, then it's game over.

Sarah Palin will never be President -- no matter how worried Andrew Sullivan might be of the possibility . The more people get to know her, the more they come to realize that. This means that she has a short amount of time to make as much money as possible as quickly as she can. That means as many $100,000 a pop speeches as she can schedule, as many TV opportunities as come her way, book deals, etc.

It's a good place to be in a lot of ways, and there's definitely a possibility that as the media environment continues to segregate into thinner niches that she'll find an audience that won't tire of her. But there's very little inclination she's willing to play by anyone's rules but her own and at some point in time her value as a commodity won't be worth the trouble in catering to the wishes of others. When that happens she'll finally recede into the background like so many other VP runners-up before her.

Jonathan Kruase's Alternate Economic Reality

Man, Jonathan Kruase really doesn't have the first damn clue what he's talking about when he's discussing financial issues. Here's the latest proof of his own obliviousness:
But what really gets my goat is that the reform bill is the brainchild of Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd is the very Senator who helped to create the situations that led to the mortgage crisis. He led the charge to bully Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make the sub-prime mortgages that created the financial bubble which burst two years ago.
This is false:

Fannie, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., don't lend money, to minorities or anyone else, however. They purchase loans from the private lenders who actually underwrite the loans.

It's a process called securitization, and by passing on the loans, banks have more capital on hand so they can lend even more.

I don't know how anyone else could make that more clear: subprime mortgages were created by private banks and lending institutions, not Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Krause simply doesn't understand the very role of the institution he's criticizing. Here he is again wrapping up that thought:
At that time, banks were "evil" for locking so many "hard-working" Americans out of homeownership by having such ludicrous requirements like down payments and the ability to actually repay the loan. Senator Dodd also seems to forget he supported the de-regulation of Wall Street that opened the door to derivatives trading without direct SEC oversight.
Again, here's more of the McClatchy piece:

This much is true. In an effort to promote affordable home ownership for minorities and rural whites, the Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families.

To be sure, encouraging lower-income Americans to become homeowners gave unsophisticated borrowers and unscrupulous lenders and mortgage brokers more chances to turn dreams of homeownership in nightmares.

But these loans, and those to low- and moderate-income families represent a small portion of overall lending. And at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership.

Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication. One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble.

Got that? 24% in 2006 is less than 48% in 2004 -- so the F-Macs actually decreased their presence in the secondary markets during that time that Krause thinks they were trying to monopolize the market ... or something. Here's a more accurate conclusion to draw:

During those same explosive three years, private investment banks — not Fannie and Freddie — dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.


Fannie and Freddie, however, didn't pressure lenders to sell them more loans; they struggled to keep pace with their private sector competitors. In fact, their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, imposed new restrictions in 2006 that led to Fannie and Freddie losing even more market share in the booming subprime market.

What's more, only commercial banks and thrifts must follow CRA rules. The investment banks don't, nor did the now-bankrupt non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. and Ameriquest that underwrote most of the subprime loans.

So if you're relying on Jonathan Krause to help you through our tough economic time or with your own personal finances -- stop what you're doing right now! There are charities that do fine work who need the money you're throwing away.

Context is King

Ross Douthat:
In a way, the muzzling of “South Park” is no more disquieting than any other example of Western institutions’ cowering before the threat of Islamist violence. It’s no worse than the German opera house that temporarily suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because it included a scene featuring Muhammad’s severed head. Or Random House’s decision to cancel the publication of a novel about the prophet’s third wife. Or Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the controversial Danish cartoons ... in a book about the Danish cartoon crisis. Or the fact that various Western journalists, intellectuals and politicians — the list includes Oriana Fallaci in Italy, Michel Houellebecq in France, Mark Steyn in Canada and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands — have been hauled before courts and “human rights” tribunals, in supposedly liberal societies, for daring to give offense to Islam.

But there’s still a sense in which the “South Park” case is particularly illuminating. Not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers suddenly aren’t allowed to cross. But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.
Except that it's not at all the only place. Just in the last few days since the airing of the South Park episode we had an apology to Polish-Americans and a line crossed with regard to Jewish Americans (apology soon to follow, one hopes MORE: Here it is -- ed.). Here's a pretty good reason why the Vatican would be a bit miffed ... and surely there are enough insults to hurl at a murderous African dictator such that "Mahmmy" isn't necessary?

There are plenty of lines that society is asked not to cross that have little to do with Islam. Like all things in life, offense is largely about context. One of the reasons South Park is able to so brilliantly skewer topics that are verboten to polite discourse is that Parker and Stone are as skilled as they come at layering their gags with intricate contexts that allow them to say the normally unspeakable.

UW-O College Republicans Bringing a Global Warming Denier to Campus for a Chat

From the NW:
The Oshkosh College Republicans and Young America's Foundation are bringing Christopher Horner, a nationally known environment and global warming author and speaker, to the UWO campus to offer an alternative examination of what people and the government are doing to protect the earth and what kind of impact it has, said Ethan Hollenberger, a UWO sophomore who is a member of the College Republicans.

"Christopher Horner isn't denying global warming or saying going green is bad. We brought him in to look at policy and if it is enacted how it will affect us," Hollenberger, 19, said. "We want people who disagree to be there. Part of being on a university campus is to learn the other side."
Except Horner is a denier. He wrote a book called Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, which seems fairly self-explanatory to me. He's a "fellow" at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a notorious front group for big oil and tobacco interests that poses as a libertarian "think tank." He's not even a trained scientist, but a lawyer whose job has been to argue against scientists.

Horner is also something of an amateur astronomer:
"[The planet Pluto, which is warming up despite moving away from the sun], is a reminder that no matter where you are climate happens... There will be inevitably and likely imminent claims [by environmentalists] that mankind is also causing Plutonian global warming."
Like the orbits of Earth and Pluto are remotely comperable...

Here's Horner on the Daily Show, where he plugs his comedy book that makes fun of people who are silly enough to believe that humans actually impact their natural surroundings.

Dirty Hippies!

And that's basically Horner's shtick: he does no primary scientific research and argues against global warming like a lawyer who is arguing for a client in court. In this case his clients are energy concerns who have a vested interest in sowing doubt with science so as to prevent possible future government action in the form of regulation.

Roger Ebert's Sex Pistols Screen Play

Ebert has done us all a solid by putting the entire text of the screenplay online.

The anarchic tale of why the movie never came to be is here.

Mexican Death Cult

Alas, not the name of an indie-rock band:

The worship of Santa Muerte, first noted among Mexico's poor in the middle of the last century, remained a largely underground practice until the last decade; since then, it has become a full-fledged mainstream cult with 2 million to 5 million followers, practiced in an increasingly public fashion both in Mexico and the United States. Its rise has provoked alarmist rhetoric. A U.S. military report brands Santa Muerte "the death cult of the drug lords," and indeed her shrines are frequently uncovered during police raids on narcos on both sides of the border. In March 2009, the Mexican Army bulldozed some three dozen shrines near the U.S. border as part of a psychological war on "narcoculture."

But the drug war is only tangentially connected to Santa Muerte: "Her primary base is poor people -- those excluded from the formal economy or who have lost faith in the judicial system," says Lois Ann Lorentzen, director of the University of San Francisco's Center for Latino Studies in the Americas. Santa Muerte's popularity, rooted in dangerous urban areas like Tepito and the rural regions that increasingly resemble them, reflects economic and political uncertainty in a country where almost 50 million people live below the poverty line.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Impressive Record

Oshkosh Corp. is the 10th largest federal contractor and yet the only one of the top 20 without an instance of "misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations" since 1995, according to POGO.

[via GE]

This is Apparently the Article Everyone will be Talking about Tomorrow

Palin, Inc.

[via JG]

The Big Nowitski

Dwyane Wade shot lights out ... LaBron almost had a triple double in the first half of the Cavs game with the Bulls ... The Mavs and Spurs are literally beating each other to bloody pulps by exchanging flagrant foul for flagrant foul.

So in honor of some solid balling, enjoy:

Great Moments in NFL Draft History: Lawrence Taylor Drinks 41 Beers Before Getting Selected by the Giants

Foreshadowing a brilliant career of sending hookers to opposing QBs' hotel rooms and then sacking the bejesus out of them the next afternoon.


This is a rather refreshing image to see:
Striding down the hallway, with the Chinese protocol officer sputtering protests behind them, America's two best-known politicians barged into the meeting room. There they found Wen conferring secretly with the leaders of Brazil, India, and South Africa; behind the scenes, Beijing had been trying to block all efforts to impose standards for measuring, reporting, and verifying progress on carbon reduction. Smiling and shaking hands, Obama and Clinton worked the room together, as they had each done so many times before as contending politicians. Then the president sat down and started negotiating, with Clinton sliding position papers to him as needed. When the Chinese finally caved, both Obama and Clinton knew that it wasn't just because they had crashed the meeting. Two days before, the secretary of state had flown in to Copenhagen by surprise to deliver a sweetener to help win over developing countries. In essence, it was a global bribe: $100 billion a year from rich nations by 2020 to help poorer countries cope with climate controls. It was political hardball, Hillary style, and it had helped to isolate Beijing. Now Obama was closing the deal Clinton had set up.
The article goes on to cast the Copenhagen meeting in a brighter light than it perhaps deserves, but it's good to a little behind the scenes exercise in soft power after so long.

[via D]

Let the Scott Walker Flip-Flops Begin!

Walker joined with the Republican majority in January 1997 to eliminate a rule that required lawmakers to finish their floor sessions at 8 p.m., voting records show. Republican lawmakers had voted to put the rule in place after taking control of the chamber in 1995.

The change allowed the all-night legislative sessions that had long been the Assembly’s way of doing business to resume. The sessions are often denounced by lawmakers themselves and government watchdogs for allowing lawmakers to take major action in the middle of the night when few are paying attention — except lobbyists.

Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, took up the issue this week as the Assembly pulled two all-nighters while lawmakers rushed to wrap up their two-year legislative session. He promised to sign legislation if elected governor that prohibits the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Does a Leinenkugel Run Forbode a Ron Johnson Run?

So now that Leinenkugel's in, can we expect to see Ron Johnson jump in the mix?

According to folks I would neither call "trusted" nor "reputable," the answer is yes.

The operating theory is that Leinenkugel will have a tough time winning over base voters once they recall that he's not only been working for Gov. Doyle, but was also talking about running for Governor as a Democrat as recently as 6 months ago. Once that meme takes hold the denizens of the fever swamps won't care what his policies are, they simply won't trust him. That will open the door for a "real" conservative, "tea party" candidate.

Rumor has it that none of this is really important to Johnson just yet. He's more concerned about the public scrutiny that comes with running for office.

Johnson's been getting a lot of pats on the back following his speech to the Madison Tea Party on April 15. He'll probably be getting a lot more in the near future.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Awesome Planets of Sci-Fi

A very cool list of interesting fictional planets.


The NCAA injects some sanity into March Madness.

The Sheboygan Mess

After an extended hiatus, The Sheboygan Mess appears to be back in business.

Go there for all the latest news from Wisconsin's craziest city.

Jonathan Krause's Taxation Misinformation

Yesterday we noted that local talk radio bloviator Jonathan Krause's numbers just didn't add up with regard to the tax burden sob story he unleashed on his readers. Well, we decided to crunch some more numbers to determine just how clueless the guy is and came up with some interesting results!

First, let's assume that the Krause household's annual income is $53,629.20. That's the figure we estimated given what Krause wants us to believe he pays in property taxes and the available public information. Now, once more, here's Krause's lament:
I told [a caller to the radio station] that my wife and I paid 28-percent of gross income in federal taxes and withholdings last year.


I stunned our caller some more by telling him that I knew that I paid another 6.5% in state income taxes, a little less than 5% in property taxes and then another 5% on all of my purchases and 51.3-cents a gallon on gas. Again, sheer amazement that I would know the actual cost of taxes in my life.
Let's break down that argument mathematically:
28% + 6.5% + 5% + 5% = 44.5%
Krause would have you believe that 44.5% of his income goes to taxes. There's really no other way I can fathom reading that paragraph. That's how he sees his life: as one a relentless assault by the IRS. In terms of hard currency, Krause seems to believe that he personally contributed $23,864.99 to government coffers last year.

The fact of the matter is that this figure is grossly distorted. Let's look at each of the taxes he claims to be paying vs. what he's actually paying:

First are the federal taxes. Krause thinks he's paying 28% of his income to the Federal government, which would be $15,016.18. But yesterday we showed that he wasn't in the the 28% tax bracket (wasn't even close to it, really) and that he was, in fact, paying 25%. That would be $13,407.30. That's a difference of $1,608.88.

Now here's the kicker: We haven't even started to make deductions for work-related expenses, dependents, charitable donations or any of the other ungodly number of possible write-offs.

Let's just take one of the most basic standard deductions. Since we've assumed that Krause and his wife are filing jointly they can take a standard deduction of $11,400. That means even though Team Krause pulled in $53,629.20, the IRS will only tax $42,229.20 of their income. Therefore,
(25%) of $42,229.20 = $10,557.30.
$15,016.18 - $10,557.3 = $4,458.88
Remember: this is assuming that Krause makes no more deductions, which is highly unlikely.

Next comes the state taxes. Krause claimed that he paid 6.5% of his income in state taxes. That would mean $3,485.90. Of course, this is not actually true. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Krause is required to pay a baseline tax of $1,098.65 and then 6.5% of any income made over $20,440. Since,
$53,629.20 - $20,440 = $33,189.20
Krause is actually required to pay 6.5% of $33,189.20, which is $2,157.30. Then,
$2,157.30 + 1,098.65 = $3,255.95
Whereas 6.5% of $54,629.20 is $3,485.90. That's what Krause thinks he's paying. There's not a significant difference between his perception and reality in this case ($229.85), but it's still less.

Moving on to the sales tax. Krause says he pays 5% on everything he buys. This is incorrect. Groceries are exempt from the sales tax. That's not a small thing. Now, if Krause is an average American -- as he likes to fashion himself -- he spends 5.6% of his annual income of groceries, according to the USDA. Given what we estimate his income to be, that would be $3,003.11. Then,
(5%) of $3,003.11 = $150.16
So that's $150.16 cents he's not paying in sales tax every year.

As for the gas tax he whines about, he wins no sympathy from us. Krause has said in past that he drives a Jeep Wrangler. Most later models of that vehicle get about 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. That's pretty poor gas mileage. In fact, if Krause drives his Jeep 12,000 miles in a year, like the average American apparently does, he'll end up paying $410.40 in gas taxes. If he drove a car with average gas mileage (say, 21 miles to the gallon), he would only spend $293.14. He'd save himself $117.26. If he drove 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, a car that's not nearly as pretentious as a Prius yet still has an average of 50 miles per gallon for both city and highway, he would only pay $123.12 in gas taxes. That's a savings of $287.28. Krause claims to "live and breathe the 'Jeep Lifestyle'," whatever that means -- but on behalf of grateful tax-payers everywhere I would like to thank him for subsidizing the highways for those of us who drive cars with better gas mileage.

So let's add it all up (and just to be nice, we'll let the gas thing slide). Recall that Krause claims his tax burden is a whopping 39.5% and $21,183.54 of his income. That's before we figure in the sales tax, which Krause thinks applies to everything he buys and assumes he's never gone on vacation outside Wisconsin or purchased anything online from an out-of-state vendor or other buying habits I have no inclination to speculate upon.

But above we've shown that Krause is actually incorrect in his estimations and that his levy is less by
$4,458.88 + $229.85 + $150.16 = $4,838.89
$21,183.54 - $4,838.89 = $16,344.65
That's actually only 30.5% of what we estimated his salary to be, a 22% discrepancy between perception and reality. That's a substantial disconnect. Let me emphasize once more that this figure can only go down since it doesn't include any further deductions. It's entirely possible that Krause could compile enough deductions to bump him down into the next lowest tax bracket at which point Uncle Sam would only ask for 15% of his income. Yes, there's still the matter of the sales tax, but there's not much more I can discuss on that front given the dearth of information at hand.

I think it's reasonable to assume that at the end of the day Krause pays significantly less than 30% of his income on federal, state, property and, yes, even sales tax. There are just far too many perfectly legal and acceptable exemptions, loopholes and other tricks that allow people to sidestep paying their taxes. The tax code is full of them ... a minor detail that Krause conveniently forgets.

There's a larger point to this that Kruase misses entirely. In the original post Krause was berating a caller who didn't seem to have the first idea how much of his income was devoted to taxes. As it turns out, neither does Krause. The point he seems to miss entirely is that just like there are people in this world who are oblivious to their own tax burden, there are also those whom walk this earth and see taxation where there is none (or at least very little). Krause is one of these people.

Krause wants his listeners/readers to think that he and, by extension, they shell out upwards of 44% of their income to the tax man every year. That's just not true. The reality, as we've shown above, is probably closer to half that amount. One of the things that irritates me to no end about the anti-tax tirades of folks like Krause is that, even though they complain about taxes and they become quite when it comes time to provide concrete examples. I know it's rude to as ask how much someone makes -- or at least that's how I was raised -- but anti-tax fetishists really should start making their own taxes more transparent so we can all see just how burdensome they are, because I have a very hard time believing that Krause doles out 40% in taxes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mike Haskins Racist Facebook Group is No More

Looks like our #1 Fan has decided to throw in the towel ... or Facebook had the good sense to discontinue his nonsense.

Try to look up the site -- you're not going to be able to find it.

Stuff that Should Happen ... Soon

A SCOTUS nominee who has a basic understanding of modern technology would be a good thing:
During oral arguments today in the case City of Ontario v. Quon, which considers whether police officers had an expectation of privacy in personal (and sexually explicit) text messages sent on pagers issued to them by the city, the justices of the Supreme Court at times seemed to struggle with the technology involved.

The first sign was about midway through the argument, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. - who is known to write out his opinions in long hand with pen and paper instead of a computer - asked what the difference was “between email and a pager?”

Lawyers are notoriously technology adverse. I'm sure this will change as a new crop of attorneys comes up through the ranks, but right now the country is looking at a SCOTUS nominee who is, at the youngest, around 50. Chances are any lawyer over 35 is still kinda old school. Waiting 15 years for someone who can explain Facebook to the rest of Court would be counterproductive.

[via TG]

Jonathan Krause: Shameless Liar or Incompetent Mathematician?

Woe is he!
I told [a caller to the radio station] that my wife and I paid 28-percent of gross income in federal taxes and withholdings last year.


I stunned our caller some more by telling him that I knew that I paid another 6.5% in state income taxes, a little less than 5% in property taxes and then another 5% on all of my purchases and 51.3-cents a gallon on gas. Again, sheer amazement that I would know the actual cost of taxes in my life.
Krause paid $2,681.46 in property taxes last year (you can look him up right here) and claims that's 5% of he and his wife's income. That would presumably make their joint earnings $53,629.20, which is interesting because, according to this web site one doesn't reach the 28% tax bracket until one makes $82,400. Krause is still in the 25% tax bracket.

This is not a small issue and something that can't be blamed on a typo -- he even brings up the 28% figure again in the very next graph. The whole point of Krause's self-aggrandizing post is to tell his readers how financially self-aware he is. What he's actually doing is throwing numbers at his audience with the hopes that no one will take the time to do the math.

Either Krause is arithmetically challenged or he's lying.

MORE: We crunch the number right over here.

"Van Hollen's No. 1 priority: Sex offenders"

So when is he going to start prosecuting abusive Catholic priests?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Early Favorite for Unintentionally Hilarious Blog Post Title of the Year

"I Know Why the Caged Fetus Cries"

I wish there were like a Moh's Scale of hardness by which to measure these types of things.

How PBR Became an Obnoxious Hipster Accoutrement

Blame bike messengers in Portland.

Annals of Conflicts of Interest

Last year, the U.S. security contractor Dyncorp hired a South Africa-based air transport company, Aerolift, to transport African peacekeepers and relief supplies to Somalia in defense of the country's U.S.-backed transitional government.

Three years earlier, the same Aerolift aircraft supplied large quantities of weapons to al-Shaabab, the Islamist insurgency seeking to overthrow Somalia's transitional government, and impose sharia, according to an investigation by a U.N. panel.

More here.

Humorless Blogger Tut-tuts Underwear Clad Co-eds

After getting all frumpy with the news of an undie run at UW, the dean of West Bend's morality police scoffs with a predictable "Only in Madison," as if the state capital were a festering Gomorrah that exists only to poison the flower of youth with the arsenic of public non-nudity.

Except there have been similar events at UCLA, San Diego State, UC Irvine, Chapman University, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Louisiana State, the Univesity of Arizona, Arizona State, and in Washington, DC.

It's called a trend. Get used to seeing more of them.

MORE: Total Freudian slip here: Originally I had written "pubic" instead of "public" above.

I. Am. Awesome

Tuesday Afternoon Link Orgy: Special 4/20 Edition

America's Highest Cities.

Most Americans are against marijuana legalization.

DC city council votes on medical marijuana legislation ... today.

This year's NFL draft class is apparently the highest ever.

Welcome to Oaksterdam University.

Kal Penn, star of the Harold and Kumar movies, was mugged in DC this morning.

The first medical marijuana dispensary in Lansing, MI opens.

"Marijuana is helping my 9 year-old son!"

More Bad News for Goldman

When it rains, it pours:

Here are the events as they unfolded: Goldman Sachs and US-based investment firm Cerberus acquired 66,000 apartments belonging to Berlin's publicly owned real estate company GSW for €2.1 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2004. There was just one catch -- the city stipulated that the company as a whole could only be floated on the stock market prior to 2014 if the city gave its consent. After that date, the investors could do what they pleased with their properties.

But Dibelius wasn't willing to wait that long. In November, he contacted the city. Berlin's Finance Senator Ulrich Nussbaum responded in December, asking for €30 million in return for the necessary approval.

The Goldman Sachs manager didn't want to pay. In initial negotiations with the city, according to the bank, he offered to extend tenants' rights, which were otherwise only guaranteed until 2014, in exchange for the city waiving the €30 million fee.

The city was unwilling to accept the offer, so Dibelius hatched a crafty plan. He commissioned Stuttgart-based attorneys Eisenmann, Wahle and Birk to draw up an expert opinion that was intended to make it difficult for Berlin's city government to make any further demands.

The payment of this "not insignificant sum of money," as the lawyers phrased it, "would create criminal liability for bribery." They urgently recommended "refraining from an offer, promise or payment of a not insignificant sum of money to the city of Berlin."

Absurd Accusations

Armed with his lawyers' 36-page document, Dibelius apparently suggested that Nussbaum dispense with the monetary demand, to avoid opening himself up to the suspicion that he could be bribed.

But Nussbaum brushed the investment banker off. The artificially constructed accusation of crime seemed absurd to him -- and to the city senate's lawyers as well. Some even described it as a shameless attempt at extortion.

Now Dibelius had a problem. If he still wanted the deal, he would have to pay the fee. That in turn would open him up to the suspicion of bribery established by his own lawyers -- and leave no doubt about the original intentions behind his actions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Oshkosh Tea Party Founder" Ron Johnson

I don't know who this guy is, but he was one of the folks at the Oshkosh Tea Party last October. If Johnson does decide to run, it'll be interesting to see if he embraces this kind of nonsense or has this kind of nonsense pinned to him.

Help Us Figure Out How Mayor Esslinger Will Screw Up Next

Can somebody please explain to me why an envelope full of cash was given by the Mayor to a retiring councilman in the city council chamber last Tuesday?

I actually went back to look at the footage and I still don't know what the money was for -- it's never really made clear by anyone involved just what the hell was going on. The only explanation that Esslinger bothers to give are the words "fund-raising," "money" and "advertising." When I first heard them I thought he was talking about political campaign money, but EoO says otherwise:
Paul Esslinger apparently did some fundraising and, I have heard, bought some advertising to honor Mr. McHugh.
This makes much more sense: Esslinger raised money to take out a full-page ad, which aren't cheap, thanking McHugh for his years of service. He then framed the ad and presented it to McHugh on his last day at the office and gave him the money left over from the fund-raising effort. In an envelope. In front of everyone at the council meeting. Live on TV.

All this looked extremely sketchy, especially given the fact that McHugh was the one who formally proposed the tavern fee rescission that put Esslinger into a conflict of interest and then was the only council member to vote for the proposition.

Anyway, absolutely none of that was made clear at the meeting. I gather that the ad ran prior to the meeting and that Esslinger assumed that everyone in town saw and knew the back story behind it, but that was obviously not the case. A little explanation would have gone a long way toward making a nice gesture seem less, you know, dubious.

What will Mayor Esslinger Screw up Next?
Ignore an obvious conflict of interest
Dubious fund-raising scheme
Flippant remark from the council dais
Another bar fight
Ill-advised use of mayoral authority free polls

Still Waiting on Ron Johnson...

The NW has a piece on Ron Johnson this morning. He has his tea party talking points down, but the the most amusing part of the article is here:
Casper also said Johnson, if he runs and is elected, would give Northeast Wisconsin a presence in the Senate for the first time in decades.

"I can't remember the last time we had a senator from the Fox Valley," he said.
I can remember ... It was this guy:

MORE: Here's a rather timely piece from James Wolcott.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Green Shoots

I just saw a TV ad for Bergstrom Porsche of the Fox Valley.

Either the economy is doing far better than just about everyone thinks or someone needs to rethink his advertising strategy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wow, what a shitty web site.

This is what passes for a major announcement at these tea party things?

I should really grab a screen cap to immortalize just how half-assed this thing is.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tommy! Out

Let the shit show continue!

Pub Crawls: Everything Old is New Again

We talked about this issue two and a half years ago -- here, here and here -- and it seems nothing has changed.

Now Ted Kanavas Wants to Run for Senate?

Let's hope he hires a better web site designer this time around.

I assume this means that Thompson is definitely out since everyone's coming out of the wood work to run for office now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ron Johnson for Senate?

Area man makes news:

Ron Johnson, the president of an Oshkosh manufacturing company, told POLITICO that Thompson’s move will likely prod him to make up his mind soon.

“The next step is really interviewing people in terms of staff to see whether I can put together a credible campaign. That’s the only way I enter this thing, if I really do it the right way,” Johnson said. “If I do decide to run, I’d really like to be a different kind of candidate. I’d like to be as open as possible to people,” he added.

Jerry Jones

This is why the internet exists.

Hard to Argue With


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Firetruck City Council Live Chat!

Starts at 6:00 PM.

If you're just tuning in, take a second to blast your Facebook friends and Twitter followers and tell them about the Live Chat. Don't forget to give them our URL:

As always, it may take a minute or two for your first comment to appear in the chat feed. Don't b discouraged, once the first comment appears every subsequent comment will appear automatically.

Thanks for joining us!

You can join us Twitter by using the #ocat hashtag.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ambinder on Palin


Reminder: City Council Live Chat


6:00 PM

Tell your friends!

No, seriously, blast all your Facebook and Twitter contacts. This week's meeting should be epic.

"This bill seems designed to make the sale of such property nearly impossible unless there is a very, very patient buyer. "

Actually, this bill seems designed to give the sellers of mobile home parks more leverage over potential buyers.

Let's face it: mobile home occupants probably don't have access to the kind of financing that would allow them to make a viable counter offer. The bill looks like it provides mobile home owners with the chance to make a counter offer on the initial bid for a given mobile home park. That means the initial bidders have to take two things into account: (1.) they have to make an original bid that's high enough to preempt a potential counter offer, or (2.) they have to respond to a potential counter offer with a second bid large enough to send the mobile home folks packing. The fact that mobile home park residents could access financing from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority instead of having to rely on money from private banks means potential buyers would almost necessarily have to consider a potential counter offer into their initial bids.

Either way, the dude selling the mobile home park wins out and probably squeezes an extra few thousand bucks out of somebody in the end.

Mike Haskins is Still A Douche

Mike Haskins -- everyone's favorite racist peckerhead -- is so amazingly uninformed that we'd actually feel embarrassed for him if he wasn't such a dickless swine.

Here's the latest lie he's pedaling at his Facebook group skinhead circle jerk:
Our prisons and county jails are filled with primarily "out-of-towners" and illegals. They now reap the benefits of our criminal justice system once they become a prisoner here. Most are not truly deported as the judges make it seem. Anchor-babies they call them. Most knock up a white woman, impregnate them, and disappear for 17 years, only to come back and claim citizenship because they have a son or daughter here.
Let's look at two of the more asinine claims he makes:

LIE: "Our prisons and county jails are filled with primarily "out-of-towners" and illegals."

TRUTH: Haskins is just lying or too stupid to look up the facts for himself. We actually assume it's a combination of the two, so we'll help this fucktard out and actually provide him with the numbers.

In 2008, there were over 2.4 million prisoners in American jails (federal, state, county -- the whole lot of them). It's estimated that between 14-17% of prisoners at the federal level are illegal immigrants. In state prisons, the number vary widely. Obviously there will be more more illegal aliens in Texas and California prisons then there will be in Wisconsin or North Dakota. Regardless, this is not a majority as Haskins claims.

LIE: "Anchor-babies they call them. Most knock up a white woman, impregnate them, and disappear for 17 years, only to come back and claim citizenship because they have a son or daughter here."

TRUTH: First of all, "anchor babies" -- which is a pretty disgusting term -- are not what Haskins claims them to be. The term refers to children that are conceived outside the United States, but born in U.S. hospitals so as to gain citizenship, as is the constitutional right afforded anyone born inside American boarders. Obviously, Haskins doesn't have the first fucking clue regarding immigration law since no immigrant would ever be allowed to claim citizenship under the claim that he is the father of a child that resulted from a rape. That's not only disgusting, but false and Haskins is demonstrating what a gullible peckerhead he is for passing it on.

We're still waiting for our lawsuit from this asshead. Of course, Haskins probably doesn't have the balls, so we'll just let the whiny pussy stroke himself with the rest of his racist fuckfaces. Come and get us, shit for brains.

Rowdy Roddy Piper Day in Racine


Sunday, April 11, 2010

So Much for American Exceptionalism

So Poland can withstand a tragic test to their country's commitment to democracy, but we here in the United States are doomed to a "violent revolution" in the near future?


You will do much after looking at this picture.

"The Republican Party's pell-mell flight from intellectual seriousness is the most worrying problem American party politics faces."


Reminder: Council Meeting Live Chat on Tuesday

6:00 PM


April 13

The Student Becomes the Master

First we showed those Limeys how to run a justice system and now we explain how debates are done:
The 2010 election campaign will also be different from its predecessors in one particular respect. This time round, the three main party leaders have agreed to a series of televised debates. This is an innovation for the UK - or at least an import from the United States, where Presidential Election debates started 50 years ago. How it will affect the campaign remains to be seen.
Recognize ...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Real Love for the Grassroots Looks Like

"I'll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day."

The City Council, Post-Election

We promised a look at the new city council earlier in the week ... so here you go:

Like the school board, the city council underwent a sharp shift on Tuesday. Dennis McHugh was a reliably populist conservative and Harold Bucholtz, alas, was not around long enough to pigeon-hole into any kind of ideological operating style. Taking their places will be two people -- Steve Cummings and Steven Herman -- who look very similar to the only incumbent to win re-election, Burk Tower. Or as the NW says:
It would be easy to portray the re-election of Burk Tower and the election of Steve Herman and Steve Cummings as a victory for the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce. All three ran as pro-development candidates and the two newcomers enjoyed the backing of the chamber and business interests.

But the messages of the winners, in an election that had no real hot button issues, were not all that different from those of the also-rans. All of the candidates focused on planning, economic development and continuing to improve communication between City Hall and the community.
That seems fair enough, to an extent; but here's where the NW starts to veer off the target:
The fact that the election focused on such big-picture issues shows that the city has been successful in beginning to address issues that were a long-standing source of voter angst: crumbling infrastructure and poor customer service.

That allowed the winners of Tuesday's election to run campaigns that were underscored by a theme of returning the council to its proper role of setting direction for city staff and staying out of the minutia of day to day decision making and policy implementation.
That's actually the opposite take-away I got from Tuesday's election. I'd say that after a year of being constantly side-tracked by a pair of council members, voters wanted a council that was more interested in making the trains run on time than worrying about philosophical questions like Is killing deer murder? and Who skipped over Journey on the jukebox? To put it politely, Tower, Cummings and Herman were the three least eccentric candidates on the ballot.

Paradoxically, those boring candidates now make next year's election much more interesting on account of the council's three most eccentric candidates being up for re-election. If this year is the start of a trend, then Oshkosh is looking for competent technocrats who get the job done without much fuss. If a set of clam, low-key and level-headed candidates emerge to challenge next year's incumbents they could change the temperament of the council for some time to come.

Next year also becomes interesting for purely arithmetical reasons. Paul Eslinger can not win another term as Mayor. Period. If a ham sandwich runs against him, it will win. But there is always a chance he can rally enough support on the South Side to continue to serve on the council. That would presumably create a situation where 4 incumbents are vying for 3 at-large seats while the Mayoral chair is open. Who knows: maybe Esslinger and another council member will duke it out for the Mayor's Sash? There are many permutations that could take place next spring, all of which are contingent on a countless string of variables (will voters vote for both Palmeri and Poeschl, or just one or the other? etc.) and many of them result in yet another shift in the council's composition.

The Epic 90 Minute Review of "Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones"

The team that brought the world the amazing 70 minute take-down of "The Phantom Menace" in December is back with a 90 minute deconstruction of "Attack of the Clones" and it is even more awesome than the first edition:

Parts 2-9 here.

We went through and looked at some of the older reviews that Mike Stoklasa has posted on line, specifically his critiques of Star Trek Generations, First Contact, and Nemesis (all of which can be found here); and it's a blast to see the narrator develop into a misanthropic Virgil -- a delightfully twisted guide through cinematic hell.

There's some very subtle and brilliant character development in this installment. "Mr. Plinkett," the serial killer/film critic, continues to develop into a compelling anti-hero in ways none of the other characters in the Star Wars prequels even approach. Meanwhile, George Lucas stops becoming the misguided fool of the first review and starts to evolve into a the villain of the story ...

It's almost as if his late film-making career has followed a trajectory parallel to that of Anakin Skywalker's ...

These films are amazing -- and they are films, not merely YouTube videos. It's the most inventive film-making I've seen in a long time and a perfect example of how film tax credits could be used here in Wisconsin to nurture homegrown talent.

I can't wait for the review of Episode III.

Teaching Sex Ed

Take it away, MJS:

The Legislative Council memo found that in a 1974 case the state Supreme Court found that a local official could not be prosecuted under a law that prohibited officials from having a public and private interest in a contract. That’s because the official in the case had relied on the advice and counsel of a government attorney and a local prosecutor before acting, the court held.

That suggests a teacher could not be prosecuted for teaching a sex education class if he or she “in good faith” relies upon a program that a school board created to follow a state law, the analysis reads.
And this is why DA Southworth, and others, are full of it.

This is an opinion Southworth should have looked into before sending his threatening letter, which was clearly done as a PR stunt to buttress his conservative bona fides in the community and not for any legitimate legal reasons.

"Radicalism" and the Aging Left

This is amusing:
"The campus is no longer aboil and the history department is no longer the lure for leftists that it once was. And yet a distinctively Madison radicalism persists." [Progressive Magazine editor Matthew Rothchild] mentions the city's food co-ops, A Room of One's Own, WORT radio, a visible gay and lesbian community, and myriad activist groups, saying that, in a sense, "radicalism has spread wide its roots in the hospitable soil that Madison has always had to offer."
There's really nothing radical about organic food co-ops, feminist book stores and teh Gays anymore in any urban area. What Rothchild calls "radical" is merely considered a "niche market" to folks on Madison Avenue.

There's a popular consensus in Madison that the radicalism of the 1960s -- the kind that Rothchild wants to insist still exists -- died after the Sterling Hall Bombings of 1970. Most folks who can remember that event seem to recall fewer public demonstrations and a student body gradually more interested in sports and other distractions. That's a good thing: the times changes, so did the city and everyone's better for it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alan Keyes to Bore the Living Hell out of Green Bay

Watch out, Brown County: he's a bit long-winded.

MORE: By the way, Alan Keyes disowned his own daughter for being gay.

Family Values and what have you ...

Friday Night Link Orgy

The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant baseball team get the Sabermetics treatment.

Democrats are finally hitting back against the ridiculous "no tax" pledge.

"Medicade: A Bargain, not a Burden"

Career suicide via Twitter.

The Dow breaks 11,000.

The old Texas Stadium: Project "Demolicious."

Was the Health Care Reform win based on an appeal to emotions?


Irony Alert

I'm not a fan of Rep. Alan Greyson -- all sizzle and no steak in my book -- so stunts like these neither endear him to my heart, nor surprise me all that much:
On Thursday, April 8th, 2010, Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat in Florida’s 8th district, interrupted a district meeting of the local Orange County Republican Executive Committee. The meeting was being held at Perkins, a family restaurant.
All that aside, this is kinda hard to take seriously:
Linda O’Keefe, member of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee and extraordinary patriot volunteer with the Orlando Tea Party said, “I’m wondering if Grayson realizes that we do still, for now, have the right to assemble! But can’t we have a meeting without being interrupted by our congressman?
Sucks, doesn't it?

Arguing in Bad Faith

Here's Jonathan Krause's latest attempt to scare the bejesus out of his readers:
[T]here is serious concern in Madison that the Governor will use some back-door tactics to open up Badgercare to absolutely everyone. A memo from the non-paritsan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that the bill creating the new "Badgercare Basic" program has been carefully worded by Democrats to allow Governor Doyle to make a few line-item vetos and remove all restrictions on the plan. You wouldn't have to be on the waiting list, there would be no income limits and benefit caps could be eliminated easily as well. Such moves would drastically increase the cost of the program--making it far less likely that the premiums paid by participants would cover the cost. Care to guess who picks up the cost after that?
Now here's the AP's lede of the same story:
Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle could use his veto power to create a state-funded public option health insurance plan in Wisconsin that would extend coverage to virtually everyone, according to a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The memo obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday was requested by the Republican leader of the state Assembly, Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, and delivered April 2.

Doyle's office adamantly denied that the governor planned to do any such thing.

"The suggestion is ridiculous," Doyle spokesman Adam Collins said. "This is just another desperate attempt by a few Republicans to stop a good program that will help tens of thousands of people get access to very basic health care at no cost to taxpayers."

Now back to Krause:
Governor Doyle calls the possibilty of altering the bill "ridiculous". Let's see if a lame duck politician who won't have to deal with the long-term effects of such vetoes feels that way once the bill gets on his desk. Why do I get the feeling that there is a press conference in our future where the Guv will be telling us he "just could not live with the idea of anyone not being able to take advantage of this wonderful program"?
It would be nice if Krause could supply more evidence than his "feeling" -- really, it's the least he could do.

This type of tripe cuts to the point that there is really no point in debating folks like Krause. Does he cite a historical precedent for Doyle granting universal health care to Wisconsinites? No. Does he have a source on the inside who claims the Doyle administration is secretly planning on circumventing the legislation with the line item veto? No. Krause doesn't have anything except his hunch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Evolution of Paul Ryan's "Tipping Point"

That's why John Kerry has to preach the politics of division, of envy and resentment. That's why they talk so much about two Americas. But class warfare is not an economic policy. And the politics of division will not make America stronger, and it will not lead to prosperity.

I say to them: Anger is not a governing philosophy.

Instead, we offer a more hopeful vision to America by reaffirming our party's commitment to freedom and opportunity for all.
That was Rep. Paul Ryan speaking at the 2004 RNC convention, right after he lavished praise on President Bush's tax cuts -- tax cuts that were enacted after Iraq and Medicare Part D, government projects that will end up costing in excess of $2 trillion worth of debt and which Ryan supported.

But following the 2008 election Ryan changed is tune. Less than a week before Obama took office, Ryan offered a glimpse at his a how he was planning on framing the next legislative session in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Since then Ryan's warned of a tipping point in many of his speeches and commentaries. Here's an evolution of the phrase:

"Beware the Big Government Tipping Point," Wall Street Journal (1/16/09):

Nationalizing health care will be profoundly detrimental to the quality of American medicine. In the name of cost control, the government would make private investment in medical innovation far riskier, and thus delay the development of potentially lifesaving treatments.

It will also put America on a glide path toward European-style socialism. We need only look to Great Britain and elsewhere to see the effects of socialized health care on the broader economy. Once a large number of citizens get their health care from the state, it dramatically alters their attachment to government. Every time a tax cut is proposed, the guardians of the new medical-welfare state will argue that tax cuts would come at the expense of health care -- an argument that would resonate with middle-class families entirely dependent on the government for access to doctors and hospitals.

Of course, this health-care plan is occurring against our particular fiscal backdrop: Without major reform, our federal entitlement programs will soon double the size of government. The result will be a crushing burden of debt and taxes.

In short, we may be approaching a tipping point for democratic capitalism.

CPAC Keynote (2/29/09):

This phony stimulus hastens the steady march toward an irreversible "tipping point" in our democracy that threatens to radically alter the relationship between America's citizens and our government.

This "tipping point" has long loomed on our horizon in the form of $56 trillion in promised entitlement spending that we haven't funded. That $56 trillion IOU will require our kids to pay double the taxes we face - a level of government confiscation that endangers their future prosperity.

"A Transformative Health Care Alternative," Racine Journal Times (5/22/09):

The Obama plan promises change and progress, but it is based on old ideas. For the past 50 years, the Left has promised that a little more government intervention and spending will fix health care. If Washington can effectively run a health program like Obama's public option, why are Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs in such disrepair?

Today, federal and state government controls about 60 percent of our health care economy, which has helped create the chaotic system Americans loathe. Congress and the Obama administration are now on a path to finish the job and move us past the tipping point into a Canadian or UK-style government-run system.

Remarks to the Racine County Economic Development Corp. Annual Meeting (5/28/09):

My greatest concern is that if we should choose the latter path, our nation will quickly reach what I have called a “tipping point,” where a majority of our people are receiving so much in government benefits that it will become almost impossible to reverse course and return to the path of freedom and self-reliance. Stagnation replaces growth…dependency smothers initiative and entrepreneurship…this would replace the American way of life that we hold dear. This future threatens the American ideal that previous generations poured their sweat and blood into building and preserving, and that current generations of Americans are responsible for advancing.
"Free Market Democracy at Risk -- And what We Must do to Save it," Remarks to the Economic Club of Minnesota (11/9/09):

Democratic capitalism is not just an economic system or a political system. It’s a culture – the way of life fit for free men and women. But I know the Congressional majority leaders. They are imitating other models: “Progressivism,” third way, corporatism, social welfare state, crony capitalism. Whatever the name, it is very different from the principles that made this country exceptional. European versions create bureaucracies intimately involved in the details of running their enterprises. They may dictate salary levels—think White House “pay czars.” They may govern businesses directly under nationalized ownership or management—think General Motors. They may do so indirectly by rewarding firms that cultivate bureaucratic connections instead of seeking consumers’ approval for innovations and other decisions. Markets that are truly free have wide-open doors of entry. Innovation overturns established firms, and bureaucrats don’t like unpredictability. Under these models, the doors of entry are closed to newcomers while government agents develop so-called “partnerships” with a few large entities.

We are moving swiftly toward a “tipping point,” where the majority of people pay little or no taxes but become dependents on government benefits. Tax cuts are virtually out of the question because more people have a stake in the welfare state than in entrepreneurism. Citizens who had once governed themselves become supplicants of a bureaucratic state, surrendering liberty in return for security. Whatever you call this, it isn’t free market democracy.

"A GOP Roadmap for America's Future," Wall Street Journal (1/26/10):

The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear. From the enactment of a $1 trillion "stimulus" last February to the current pass-at-all costs government takeover of health care, the Democratic leadership has followed a "progressive" strategy that will take us closer to a tipping point past which most Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes—a European-style welfare state where double-digit unemployment becomes a way of life.

Floor speech before HCR vote (3/24/10):

My friends, we are fast approaching a tipping point where more Americans depend on the federal government than on themselves for their livelihoods – a point where we, the American people, trade in our commitment and our concern for our individual liberties in exchange for government benefits and dependencies.


As we march toward this tipping point of dependency, we are also accelerating toward a debt crisis – a debt crisis that is the result of politicians of the past making promises we simply cannot afford to keep. Déjà vu all over again.
Hillsdale speech (1/15/10):

America today is not as far from this tipping point as we might think. While exact and precise measures cannot be made, there are estimates that in 2004, 20 percent of households in the U.S. were receiving about 75 percent of their income from the federal government, and that another 20 percent were receiving nearly 40 percent of their income from federal programs. All in all, about 60 percent of U.S. households were receiving more government benefits and services, measured in dollars, than they were paying back in taxes. It has also been estimated that President Obama's first budget alone raises this level of “net dependency” to 70 percent.

"A Roadmap for America's Future 2.0," Racine Journal Times (2/2/10):

The difference between the Roadmap and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear. From the enactment of a $1 trillion "stimulus" last February to the current pass-at-all costs government takeover of health care, the Democratic leadership has followed a "progressive" strategy that will take us closer to a tipping point past which most Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes—a European-style welfare state where double-digit unemployment becomes a way of life.

"Keynesian policies wrong prescription for U.S. economy," The Hill (2/2/10):

The U.S. already has drawn perilously close to this “tipping point.” The Tax Foundation estimates that approximately 60 percent of Americans receive more in benefits and services from the government than they pay in taxes. The president’s fiscal agenda raises net reliance on government to 70 percent of the population.

"Roadmap for America's Future":

Now America is approaching a “tipping point” beyond which the Nation will be unable to change course – and this will lead to disastrous fiscal consequences, and an erosion of economic prosperity and the American character itself. The current administration and Congress are propelling the Nation to the brink of this precipice.


If the government continues following the “progressive” ideology now prevailing in Washington, America will increasingly resemble a European welfare-state – a society in which the majority of the people pay little or no taxes but grow dependent on government benefits; where tax reduction is impossible because more people have a stake in the welfare state than in free enterprise; where permanent high unemployment is a way of life; and where the spirit of risk-taking is smothered by a thick web of regulations and mandates from an all-providing centralized government.

The U.S. already has drawn perilously close to this “tipping point.” The Tax Foundation estimates that today 60 percent of Americans receive more in benefits and services from the government than they pay in taxes. The President’s fiscal agenda exacerbates this problem, raising the net reliance on government from 60 percent to 70 percent. Another analysis shows that from 1950 through 2007, the share of the population reliant on the government rose from 28.7 percent to 58.2 percent (see Figure 3). The study predicted that even without enactment of legislation such as cap-and-trade and health care, the share of the population dependent on the government will rise to 67.3 percent by 2018.