Cindy Sheehan's Circus Coming to Madison

As if Jane Fonda and George Galloway weren't enough...Cindy Sheehan's roadshow is stopping by this weekend. Ben Manski over at IndyMedia says its on September 14, but it's really September 4.

Personally, I'd rather remember the Barrymore Theater, where the lovefest will occur, as the site of a great Everclear concert freshman year where my roommate got pulled out of the crowd to play Santa Monica on Art Alexakis' guitar with the band onstage. Now the place will have a sort of sour tinge to it.

It's hard to believe reports showing over half of the population thinking Sheehan should be able to meet with President Bush. The free speech rights of protest are one thing. Meeting with the President is another. Sheehan's well-orchestrated ego trip is suprising similiar to North Korea's attempt to make itself relevant - raise a ruckus, say outrageous things, make unreasonable demands, and expect suddenly to be seated at the table as an legitimate equal. Such behavior should not be rewarded, though it's being defended by some "deep" folks over at Marquette.

Simply Unbelievable

We pray for you.

Big Squish at UW-Milwaukee

While helping my brother move into the UW-Milwaukee dorms this weekend, we noticed there were five nameplates on the doors of a suite meant for four. We were only slightly puzzled, but now we know why. Residents of the soviet style Sandburg Halls will be living like sardines this year. It's too bad the UWM campus had to succumb to the architectural doldrums of the 1960s.

A friend from Johns Hopkins was in town Saturday, and he talked about the lack of community identity at his university in Maryland. Coming from UW-Madison, I could sense a similar vibe at UW-Milwaukee. It has long been a commuter school, but it seems to be heading in the right direction. Visible signs of school identity have blossomed in yellow and black around the campus in the last decade. A more relevant Panthers sports program has also helped. Now, with many more students living on campus - squished as they may be - UWM is on its way to changing its persona for the better.


Look Out Madison Smoking Ban!

I've got my limited edition "Ban the Ban" t-shirt, thanks to Steve S.

In the Wake of Katrina

Still waiting to hear from a good friend down in Vacherie, Louisiana, roughly halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Reports say at least one building was completely demolished in the town. So much for starting college; he just began classes last week at Nichols State in Thibodeaux. Hope he's alright.

Hard Rain Falling

Peter Brooks looks at China's cyber efforts at undermining America, the so-called "Titan Rain," in an article at Townhall.com

He, too, sees this as an asymmetrical move straight out of Sun Tzu's Art of War. I made similar observations about the overall Sinostrategy in a Mendota Beacon piece back in February.

"Center of the Moonbat Universe"

Spotted Horse has some great pictures of a trip to San Francisco. The city is definitely a fun place to visit. In my experience, the highlights of the city:

1. Fisherman's Wharf - a lively street down by the bay with performers and shops.

2. Alcatraz - the famed "Rock" out in the middle of the bay.

3. The Golden Gate Bridge - a perennial favorite; the small town across from San Fran is a nice visit in itself.

4. Cable Cars - the hills are like rollercoasters; a must for a tourist.

5. Lombard Street - some crazy hairpin turns on the windy hillside roadway.

6. The 1915 Panama Exposition Gardens - cool old beaux arts structures in an expansive park.

7. Sourdough bread and Ghiradelli chocolate - just plain nummy.


CNN Uses Citizen Journalists for Hurricane Coverage

Interesting. CNN's website featured Hurricane Katrina photos and on-site commentary by citizen journalists today.

An intriguing evolution by the MSM in the face of the blogosphere. Will major bricks and mortar news sources gravitate toward a Drudge style role as accumulator-in-chief rather than maintain their positions as news generators? Given the advance and spread of highly individualized technology, it seems that this major news event might represent a tipping point in that direction.

Every person, photo capable cell phone in hand, is now the eyes and ears of the media. Not just in the venue of blogs, but with the traditional heavy hitters, too.

One thing the blogosphere and MSM have been unable to tell me is whether a friend of mine down in southern Louisiana is okay or not. I'm hoping he and his family are just fine.


Fill up Tonight

Gas is poised to spike tomorrow on loss of refinery capacity due to the hurricane. Get it before it hits $3 a gallon.

More later on today's trip to Milwaukee.

The Price of Frappuccino

As an aficionado of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, I've taken a keen interest in finding low prices for the standard individual 9.5 oz bottle of rich, dreamy goodness. My extensive research has found great price disparity:

Triangle Market: $1.57
Starbucks on State: $2.50+
Walgreens on State: $1.49
Greenbush Bakery: $1.75
Open Pantry on Regent: $1.69

Bubba's Exxon Gas Station: $1.39

Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store: $1.39

Fond du Lac
Mobil Gas Station: $1.55

New York
JFK Ramada Hotel Gift Shop: $2.56

I hear the Walgreens on the Capitol Square has a deal on right now - $.99 a bottle. Of course, buying in bulk significantly reduces the cost as well.

If you have any additional Frappuccino Price sightings out there, send them to bradvogel at hotmail dot com and we'll do a more extensive listing down the road.

Rigorous No More?

Cooler Near the Lake looks at the trajectory of modern conservatism in a recent post. One piece of an article he cites admonishes conservatives for losing their intellectual edge in the war of ideas:
... conservatives should not let the intellectual restlessness of their early years give way to decadent complacency. It has happened before in American political life—to American liberalism—with unhappy consequences both for liberalism and the nation.
I expressed similar concerns in this post on conservative movements not long ago.


Jane Fonda Coming to UW-Madison

The Badger Blog Alliance has put out a call for live blogging when Jane Fonda and socialist British MP George Galloway come to campus on September 18. I'm sure Letters in Bottles will be up to the task, seeing as it's in our own backyard. Steve, whenever you get this post Up North, mark your calendar.

Really, looking through the list of sponsors, it's hard not to see this as a great big softball for campus conservatives. A few intrepid souls looking to protest creatively and make hay of the visit should have plenty to work with. Fonda, Galloway, and their socialist compadres are a bit extreme even for most people in this town. It should be fun.


Speaking in Tongues

Inspired by a post over at Stand in the Trenches, I have routed the Preamble of the Wisconsin Constitution through a series of online language translations. Here are the results from English/Dutch/French/German/English/Portuguese/English:
"We them peoples of reconnaissamment of Wisconsin in the god Almighty of our freedom to the form the end to protect its government more of the one than perfect of Benediktion to hold and the community property promote the peace internal, we adjust this circumstance above."
And the original?
"We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution."

A Bear Hug for the Dragon

Joint Chinese and Russian military excercises concluded today. And I thought the China-based cyber attacks on U.S. military intelligence was worrisome. Yes, in case you haven't noticed, we need to pay attention to China as a rising military competitor. Kurt over at Lakeshore Laments has been adding up the evidence showing why we should question China.

To confront this gathering storm in the east, I think it's time Wisconsin got behind legislative efforts to create a state naval militia.

Ha, I lied

Leave it to the Internet to make me a liar. Two seconds after I say I'm going on vacation, I click over to the Instapundit and find this link about ideological imbalance in universities. One bit struck me especially:
...in theory, parents who make their money in traditionally conservative professions such as investment banking or corporate law probably do not encourage their children to enter academe.

This rhetoric is used by both sides - I've heard many conservatives argue that "liberals don't care about making money, while conservatives want to make as much as possible". I can't really argue against it, but it seems false at some level. What about religious conservatives who work for charities? Anyway, read the whole thing.


I quit my summer job last Wednesday, and am now at home and headed farther (further? I never remember that one), where Internet access is sometimes spotty. So I'll be relying on Brad to keep things going for a little bit!


World Youth Day Wrap Up

Here are a few photos from my pilgrimage to Cologne, Germany for World Youth Day.

Note the shot of my group walking in front of the pink and green buildings in the first one below and then check out the picture over at Dad29.

Sensenbrenner Protested in Madison

Wisconsin Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner was talking to reporters on the West steps of the state capitol about 45 minutes ago. He seemed to be talking about eminent domain.

More interesting, though, was the posse of protesters outside the Concourse Hotel that sought to heckle the congressman. Many anti-Sensenbrenner activists sported rather ridiculous signs, such as "The Enemy is at Home" and the like. The American Flag, oddly enough, also made an appearance sans flames. Inaccurate literature on the Patriot Act was also readily available.

Bill Anderson, isthmian leftie protester and contributor to Hawken Blog, was on hand for the sidewalk-blocking merriment. I thought they had to walk in circles?


Interesting Bumper Sticker

Back in Madison and saw this one:

"Life is too short to eat grocery store cheese."

Also moving into my new place and sorting through over 400 digital camera pics from the pilgrimage.


A little environmentalism

I just found out that CFACT has been running a blog for a while now. I have my issues with CFACT itself, but their blog is quite interesting for those interested in a balanced discussion of environmental policy. Check 'em out!


Cool, then funny

First, Opiate of the Masses notes that the UW has earned the rank of top party school in the US!

Secondly, GOP3 point out that:
Fifth, did anyone hear this story? The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that atheism is a religion protected by the First Amendment in a case brought concerning a prisoner’s right to an atheism study group in a Wisconsin state prison. None of the press stories online at this hour mention a case name, so I don’t know anything more than what’s on WorldNetDaily…


The Papal Mass at Marienfeld

Today, I was blessed to be on Marienfeld, Mary's Field, outside of Cologne, Germany, where Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass with over a million young people from around the world. The vigil last night was powerful; hearing hymns in German gives them a strange majesty. Der Papst arrived in the Popemobile and mounted the altar hill built especially for the occasion. He delivered his homily in German, English, French, Spanish, and Italian. The parts I could understand, English, Spanish, and some Italian, were brilliant. There were people as far as the eye could see, and candles made the masses into a galaxy as night fell.

Our particular campsite was surrounded by Brazilians in large part. But our little neighborhood of people crammed like sardines showed the remarkable reach of the Catholic faith. Our block contained contingents of Cambodians, Irish, Canadians, and Moldovans. Walking around on Saturday, we also talked with people from Egypt, Sweden, Syria, Australia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tahiti, Malawi, Hawaii, and Peru. There were huge blocs of Bavarians, Spanish, Italians, and Brazilians. The masses assembled on Marienfeld were truly remarkable in scope. After the vigil concluded, our group said a rosary on the field by candlelight.

We slept on our ponchos in the surprisingly cold, wet German night in an alfalfa field. The food provided was subpar. Mice popped up in various locations based on the screams from girls all over the field. I saw one myself when I got up at about 4:00 a.m. to get up to the candle lit altar hill when the crowds on the temporary roadways had at last died down. The lit baldaccino rose high over the field in the mist; spotlights lit the cross and icon of the Madonna and child.

In the morning, we woke, aching, in anticipation of the High Mass. I saw the Pope from afar in billowing golden robes up on the hill at the ambo as he gave his sermon, again in several languages. He elaborated on his earlier themes of looking closely at the meaning of liberty and freedom; they are not based on doing what one wants, but doing what is right within the context God has created. He called on those gathered to use God as their measuring stick in life. Culture and society could try to replace that fundamental benchmark, but were ultimately insufficient. He also referred, in the Italian portion of the homily I could understand, to the 'Gran Familia de Dios,' the great family of God that had gathered with him on the field. The crowd, following the conclusion of his remarks, broke out in affectionate cheers of 'Benedetto.'

People here realize this is a different papacy from that of John Paul II. But it is just fine; Benedict brings a different, but just as legitimate concern/emphasis to the table: orthodoxy and reverence. He is obviously not quite as polished or gregarious as JPII, but he is going to do great things for the Church while his term lasts. He is a brilliant theologian and thinker, and it is rare, really, to have someone of that reputation and stature in a position of such leadership.

The return from the field was surprisingly smooth and efficient (the Germans lived up to that stereotype). We walked across fields en masse at first, almost like troop battalions in the Napoleonic wars - moving people filled the entire horizon and flags waved everywhere. We then crammed onto a highway, walked down through the small village of Bachem, which had very hospitable people, and then boarded the train back into Cologne.

It was truly a world event, an unforgettable experience. The next World Youth Day will be in Sydney; if it's at all feasible, I'll probably try to go.

Tomorrow we leave on the first leg of our return trip to America. Until then.



Marcus Aurelius has an interesting piece on immigration from Mexico, arguing that this immigration is not only bad for the US, but also for Mexico. It's an interesting thought excercise, and for the sake of argument, I'll take the opposite tack.
...[L]arge numbers of illegal immigrants drains our health and welfare systems.

Well, yes. But it also provides a good source of cheap labor that many Americans do not want to do. But this is a massive conversation in itself, so I'll leave it outside the scope of this discussion. FWIW, I'm in favor of a return to something like the braceros program, in which workers were given permission to enter the country for a set amount of time (a year or two, if memory serves); this coupled with stricter enforcement standards would be a start to solving the problem.
Often times free and easy wealth is a way to create bad habits in people.

Absolutely true. Oil wealth, for example, has often been ruinous for the development of a functioning middle class, much less democracy.
This has happened to Mexico. Unlimited immigration to the US allows Mexico not to improve and grow its economy.

Unfortunately, the good emperor doesn't give us any concrete examples. I'm assuming, however, that he means that money sent back to Mexico from illegal immigrants in the US is an incentive for native Mexicans to not work. I understand the argument, but I tink it has a few holes.

NAFTA has opened greater doors for foreign companies to set up in Mexico, but the labor supply in Mexico still far outstrips demand. In countries like Pakistan, jobless young men have nothing to do, and this is one of many factors leading to their involvement in terrorism. In places like Venezuela, the large numbers of jobless continue to breed political unrest (witness the turbulence of the Chavez administration).

In Mexico, however, there is a pressure valve: jobless workers can go north. This has two effects: firstly, it contributes to a lower unemployment rate for Mexicans, lending stability to an otherwise extremely volatile situation. Furthermore, money sent back from illegal workers contributes to easing the "social security" problem. Illegals often send money back to elderly parents or family members unable to work. By essentially creating a social security program divorced from the corruption and poverty of the current system,* illegal immigrants contribute in another way to keeping people away from crime.

The other major question raised implicitly by Marcus is brain drain. If we could show that it was largely skilled workers coming from Mexico, we could argue that by not remaining in their native country, they do not contribute to the building of their country's economy. I think it is obvious, though, that the workers coming over the boarder are non-skilled, largely uneducated workers. These are not the people who would be setting up new shops in Mexico.

Aid programs to third world countries are increasingly focusing on creating transparency and accountability in government, rather than on building up infrastructure. This is because the political climate - most preferably a stable, transparent, and accountable democracy - is the biggest indicator of economic success. Having a pressure valve for workers who would otherwise be joining mobs to demand that the government give greater social-welfare benefits to the poor (a la Brazil and Venezuela) means that Mexico is in a better position to build the good government that is a necessary step toward a better economy.

*Okay, I admit here that I actually know absolutely nothing about the Mexican government-run social security program; however, from what I see on this end, my assumptions here are roughly valid.

Little help?

I'm looking to buy a digital camera. I don't want to spend more than $200 on it, but I want it to be fairly decent - something better than a disposable camera. Any recommendations?


A Cruise on the Rhine

Today was another memorable day in Cologne. Actually, we got out of Cologne a bit on a big boat down the Rhine toward Dusseldörf after a catechatical session and morning Mass.

It was great; we cruised aboard the same boat Pope Benedict XVI used yesterday to arrive on. A Bavarian girl sitting near us said the proper term in German for such a boat was not, as I had guessed, 'Papst Boot,' but 'Papst Schiff.' The ride took us past some large green stretches along the banks and truly allowed one to see how immense the Cologne Cathedral is when compared with the rest of the city's skyline. I had some spanferkel for lunch, which is basically some rotisserie pork on a kaiser bun.

Later, we made our official pilgrimage to the cathedral. It rained as we waited with the rock-concert style crowds outside in the Roncalliplatz. Nobody seemed to care; the Italians just sang all that much louder. Groups from Uganda and Taiwan went by, linked arm and arm to stay together in the sea of people.

The building in daylight is far more intricate than my nighttime visit had revealed. The stone tracery work was absolutely dizzying. The nave, or central aisle, was gargantuan, and everything about the building with its two massive spires, is made to emphasize the vertical. There are many gargoyles, too. Even tiny ones the size of frogs. Everywhere.

Inside, huge walls of stained glass windows allow for lots of natural light. The flying buttresses outside allow for it by focusing the bulk on a few piers instead of the whole wall. They also give the whole building exterior a very ornate look. The organ was also in use while we made our pilgrimage; it really lent a feeling of grandeur to the place.

The apse of the building, behind the altar, was filled with sarcophagi of bishops and kings, and centered on the glittering Shrine of the Three Wisemen, where the relics of the Magi are kept. It was overall a moving experience. A very sacred space.

The Pope held a Mass here today with 4,500 seminarians studying for the priesthood, according to a priest I know that we ran into. Several young men from the Madison Diocese were present.

Tomorrow, we begin our pilgrimage out to the Marienfeld, the enormous field west of the city set up for the Papal Mass on Sunday, where Benedict XVI will serve as celebrant. We will be sleeping out on the field tomorrow night under the stars; I hope it doesn't rain as much as it did this evening. I hope we get a good spot along the roads on the field - might get to see him go by in the Popemobile. Expected attendance is now hovering near a million people.

Guten abend from Weltjugendtag, World Youth Day.

Oh yeah - I heard there were a bunch of tornadoes in Wisconsin yesterday; I pray there wasn't much damage or any injuries.



What better to do on a rainy day than attend a carnival? Nick Schweitzer took a good idea and ran with it - and the result is the Carnival of the Badger! Fantastic. The Carnival will land in more tropical climes - that is to say, here - on Sept 15. The next host, though, will be the Wigderson Library and Pub (and he has info for that up already).

Papst Arrives in World Youth Day, Cologne

Der Papst is here in Cologne! Pope Benedict XVI's arrival by boat on the Rhine was awe-inspiring today. We waited along the banks with throngs of World Youth Day pilgrims - including Iraqis, Chinese, Australians, Namibians, and Maltese. People climbed the sycamore trees lining the bank Zaccheus-style. Planes, helicopters, and zeppelins droned overhead, and German special forces boats patrolled the river. A parade of at least five big Rhine cruise boats preceeded the Papal Barge (Papst Boot?). All the bells in Cologne were ringing. The Italians whipped up a rousing cheer of 'Benedetto' as the Texans across the river laid out huge Lone Star Flags on the East Bank of the Rhine. It was something to truly something to see.

The first time, Benedict passed by from upriver unexepectedly. He and his entourage went south for a scheduled speech and then returned north. His speech, broadcast along the shore, compared us to the modern day Magi, tying us to the three wise men, whose relics are enshrined in the Dom. I was fortunate enough to see the inside of the kathedral last night; absolutely stunning.

The city was jam-packed as 'Benedetto' gave an address up at the Kölner Dom, the Cologne Cathedral. I watched from Heumarkt plaza, where a giant screen was set up for the overflow crowd; the cathedral spires towered overhead in the distance.

Benedict is staying at the Archbishop's residence which is - surpirse - less than two blocks away from my hotel. We are within the closed down zone; tons of polizei and ambulances are swarming the area. There has been no violence of any kind, despite the massive crowds, though. The whole city is alive.

Later, I went up to a Taize service at St. Agnes church on the north side of town with one of the guys in my group. It was very moving and relaxing, especially meaningful given the recent murder of the movement's 90 year old founder, Frere Roger. I also got to St. Ursula's church, devoted to an early Christian martyress.

Well, anyway. I'm signing off for tonight within a few hundred yards of where Pope Benedict XVI is staying the night, as well as less than two blocks from the Cologne Cathedral. The night air here is electric. It is almost 1:00 and people are still out and about.

Viva der Papst!

Stir it up

What happens when you mix a liberal and a conservative, and make them write a story together? Well, this, apparently. And if it isn't true, it should be.


Crazy Russkies

I'm a big fan of the Russians. When I'm not being a Hungarian nationalist*, I'm usually a Slavophile. But sometimes they go a little overboard:
When he decided to halt the reform process, the violence intensified. Alexander II became, in effect, the first world leader to declare a war on terrorism. He would not be the last.

"We, Russia, created the first great terrorist organization in the world," Radzinsky said in a phone interview from Moscow. "We are the father of terror, not Muslims."

(h/t Althouse, who was interested in something else entirely.)

*The site is called "No No Never", and refers to Hungary's size before the Treaty of Trianon. "Will Hungary always be thus (this size)?" is the question. "No No Never!" is the answer. The Hungarians get pretty worked up about it even today.

Live from World Youth Day, Cologne, Germany

It's been a fantastic day here in Cologne, Germany at the Twentieth World Youth Day!

The Cathedral is lit tonight, and it towers over the rest of the city on the Rhine, where the bells seem to be constantly ringing. Giant portraits of both JPII and B-16, as Dad29 calls Benedict XVI, are in the platz just in front of the West facade. Enthusiasm is in the air - there are people here from everywhere. I have seen more flags and heard more languages today than at any other moment in my life.

This is a pivotal moment for the Church - this event is JPII's, and therefore Benedict's, attempt to counter the decay of the faith in Europe. It is the first WYD or Weltjugendtag without JPII. You can almost feel it in the air - this is an important threshold of sorts for the future of the Catholic Faith. But I have not seen anticipation expressed as anxiety, only exuberance.

Today we celebrated the Opening Mass with Kardinal Meisner of Cologne at the RheinEnergie Stadion on the outskirts of the city. It was mesmerizing. The celebration incorporated a variety of world languages into the traditional Mass to show the diversity of the Church, which was also displayed in the parade of flags into the arena. But it also maintained a few of the Latinate parts, as well as the Greek Kyrie Elaison, which emphasized the global unity of the faith. The place was packed, and thousands were turned away outside.

Either Chancellor Gerhaard Schroeder or the President of Germany was in attendance (I couldn't tell, because he was recognized just as we were leaving after the concluding rite). We sat near some French folks from Brittany and some Germans. The flags showed the Texas mentality in other countries: we have Texas, Canada has its Quebec, Germany has it's Bavaria, and France has Brittany.

After communion, Kardinal Meisner was about to begin a prayer when the congregation suddenly burst into wild applause and cheering - for the Eucharist! It was crazy - people started The Wave. During Mass. It almost sounds irreverant, but given the thousands present and the common understanding, it was clearly a sign of excitement for our faith.

On the way back to town, we overwhelmed the transit system. The trains and trams came to a standstill, and, rather than be crammed, most decided to hoof it back to the city center. A stream of people packed the streets in places.

Tomorrow, catechatical sessions begin. In the next few days, I hope I am able to get around to a few of the Romanesque churches that dot the town (which are overlooked in the shadow of the cathedral), take a cruise on the Rhine, and enjoy some more of the summery beer particular to Cologne, Kölsch.

If I have a bunch of y's and z's mixed up, it's because the crayz place I'm blogging from just off the Domplaty has a messed up kezboard that makes me tzpe longer and paz them more!

More from Weltjugendtag later...it's almost 1 a.m. here now.

Gute nacht!


Gearing Up for Cologne

World Youth Day approaches! Over 800,000 Catholic pilgrims are expected from around the world. Dad29 says NATO is even sending a plane to Cologne to help with security when the Pope Benedict XVI arrives (he also links to a strange and whimsical parody blog that is written from the Pope's point of view). It should prove to be a profound experience.

I'm hoping to blog from Cologne, Germany if at all possible. For now, though, there's a Founder's Day Canoe Race to be won.

Also, anyone know where I could get a "Ban the Ban" shirt in Madison?


"Reminiscent of penguins clustering together around a shrinking iceberg"

That's how a researcher humorously describes Madison's liberalness.

This captures the essence of the numbers: Madison is not a growing, thriving liberal political environment. Its demographics dictate that it will merely continue to operate on earlier momentum.



There is a band playing the High Noon Saloon next Wednesday. I've read two reviews. One. Two.

Then keep in mind that the WSJ doesn't even really have a website, much less any taste in music, and it also runs stupid Susan Lampert-Smith columns. So, who ya gonna trust?

(And when I started this, I had no idea it would end up with another shot at my favorite WSJ writer. Really.)

A Few of My Recent Pics

Monona Terrace at Night

The Car I Want

Art Paul the Kazoo Guy outside State Street Brats

The Catholic Church in Marytown, Wisconsin.

Madison Magritte

Quack, Quack!?

The Ducks game starts in 4 minutes down at the UW Fieldhouse. It's Yao Ming times 11, I've heard. I'm sure Brad would love it - a Chinese basketball team invading his campus under the pretext of "goodwill".


What the Smoking Ban Hath Wrought

Looks like even Madison moderates are restless now. They're joining the coalition fighting for a repeal of the draconian citywide smoking ban in bars.

This is welcome news; the coalition that forms connections and organizational structure in this political effort may spill over into general regional politics. Getting conservatives, moderate business owners, and the tavern league crowd together under one umbrella could prove just the winning reform combination this blog has envisioned.

The heavy hand of Madison's leftist politics has finally started to sting. Capitalizing on what the WSJ's Susan Lampert-Smith called "a rebellion" could transform or at least re-frame the local political monopoly that clings to the isthmus.

Gun Raffle!

Right here in Wisconsin!


A few of my favorite things

A few of my favorite topics - Democratic strategy (or, in this case, lack thereof), libertarianism, and a brief shot a my own party come together in this post by Mark Steyn (H/T Vodkapundit):
Paul Hackett was like a fast-forward rerun of the Kerry campaign. He was a veteran of the Iraq war, but he was anti-war, but he made solemn dignified patriotic commercials featuring respectful footage of President Bush and artfully neglecting to mention the candidate was a Democrat. But in livelier campaign venues he dismissed Mr. Bush as a "son-ofabitch" and a "chickenhawk" who was "un-American" for questioning his patriotism.
And as usual this nearly winning strategy lost yet again -- this time to a weak Republican candidate with a lot of problematic baggage. As far as I understand, the official Democratic narrative is that George Bush is a moron who has nevertheless managed to steal two elections.

Steyn concludes:
Republicans may see the increasingly arthritic, corpulent, wheezing, flatulent Democratic Party as a boon for them, but I don't. Two-party systems need two parties, not just for the health of the loser but for that of the winner, too. Intellectually, philosophically and legislatively, it's hard to maintain the discipline to keep yourself in shape when the other guy just lies around the house all day.

But, as they say, read the whole thing.

The good side of the religious right

In my last post, I came down pretty hard on the conservative religious side of my party - the "religious right". So do I think that half my party is driving itself into the ground? Well, yes and no. I do believe that the "religious right" has been fighting increasingly losing battles, and while I may respect the courage of their convictions, I do believe that to remain a viable political party, the GOP needs to turn in a more libertarian direction.

That said, there is something we can also learn from the religious right - something that the Democrats failed to learn, much to their peril. That something is a respect for religious people. From it stem a number of conclusions. So what do I mean?

Although it generally works out to a position of conservative Christianity, I believe that many religious right legislators use a rhetoric that can broadly be applied to religious people of any variety - Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, whatever. In their push for greater involvement of religion in government, their language of religion can be used to justify pleasantly libertarian stances on a number of issues.

One is choice in schools. If the religious right wins the day and declares that a school voucher program will be put into effect, it will perforce apply to all Americans - whether they want to choose Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu schools.

That will work toward solving a few other problems, as well. We won't have to worry about arguing about prayer in schools, because it won't be an issue any more. Anyone who wants to pray can pick his deity's school, without too much worry about payment. The same for teaching evolution in schools. (Although if my Catholic school upbringing is any indication, evolution will continue to be taught even in most Catholic schools.)

Faith-based charities are another area where libertarian and religious-right Republicans can agree. Generally, private organizations run much more efficiently than government-run ones, and so it makes sense to spend money through these programs. But again, because the government doesn't get to choose which religion is best, any program that meets basic requirements gets funded - again, regardless of religion.

The Dems have a tendency to portray anyone who believes in, say, God or evolution as an ignorant boob. This has served to kill a great deal support they could otherwise have gained from relatively liberal religious people. I am glad that my party has a healthy respect for religious people - they have made a choice intelligently. Their influence does not necessarily preclude a libertarian direction for the party, so long as the libertarian wing still has a strong voice.


Evolving the Creationism Debate

Talk centering on the teaching of evolution and intelligent design is all over. TIME does a cover story on it, and Opiate of the Masses says the latter perspective is bunk. Based on a previous post, I'll assume Steve S and R10 feel much the same.

Everyone seems to enjoy telling religion to get out of science; science is the highest and sole purpose of human existence, it seems. Must still be avenging Galileo. We shouldn't get in the way of science at any point, I hear from many public figures, no matter what paths it leads us down.

Dismissing intelligent design out of hand seems remarkably arrogant. At root, science is predicated on a leap of faith, too: The Big Bang.

Perhaps if we still had state-level control of education, literally a chapter in Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative, this wouldn't be such a hassle at the federal level.

UPDATE: A former anthropology professor of mine, John Hawks, had a piece in the WI State Journal on the creationism versus intelligent design debate.

Small Town Weekend

Was in Poland, Denmark, and Cleveland this past weekend. All in Wisconsin, of course.

Other villages, hamlets, and crossroads that I visited or passed through in a marathon session (and they say there's nothing to do in small towns!):

Dycksville - ice cream
Ada - car for sale
St. Lawrence - detour
Champion - farm
School Hill
Adell - car for sale
St. Anna
New Franken
Steinthal - sheepshead
St. Nazianz - Mass
Howards Grove - gas
New Holstein
Chilton - cars for sale
Valders - parade
Horicon - car for sale
Rockville - tavern
Louis Corners - tombstone

Brat Days in Sheboygan was a small town experience in its own way, too. Especially hearing Night Ranger perform Sister Christian live while working in the brat tent.


Thinking about the religious agenda

In my ongoing search for Democrats who are thinking strategically about how to make themselves a coherent party again, I find a very interesting post from Ben of Badger Blues (thanks to Brad for introducing me to the site).
Most of the people who get blasted as the American Taliban are good people, good Christians, and proud Americans who hold a far more nuanced and complex view of the world than the caricature portrayed by Focus on the Family. Most of them don’t think stem cell research is the equivalent of Nazism. Most of them don’t have any problem with gay people. Most of them understand that abortion is a complicated issue, and many of them support a woman’s right to choose, at least in some limited circumstances. Most of them support Social Security. Most of them want universal health care. Most of them think we should be doing a better job of protecting our environment. Most of them want their kids to go to good schools and get good jobs. And most of them know that they are getting screwed by the Enron wing of the Republican Party.

That's a very prescient stance, and one that large swaths of the "progressive" movement have either ignored or forgotten. But for a moment, let's look at the inverse of this post - let's examine how well the "religious agenda" has worked for Republicans in this Senate.

Republicans had their asses handed to them on Terry Schiavo. The more noise the religious right made about the issue, the more they lost in public opinion.

The Schiavo brouhaha absolutely destroyed any momentum we had on social security. Granted, we weren't winning on that, but the issue was in play. Schiavo squandered all of that.

After raising a massive stink about confirmations and the "nuclear option", both sides found a compromise. Given that I don't think the issue of using ending the filibuster should ever have come up - it was incredibly short-sighted politically - I'm glad for the compromise. However, it made it look like the Republican side lost heavily.

Frankly, the Senate, led largely by the conservative Christian element of the Republican Party, has accomplished extremely little to nothing in this term. Furthermore, it has served to detract from President Bush's apparent vision for his second term - a view of spreading liberty evinced in his inagural and first State of the Union speaches.

The Democratic Party fell from grace politically when it became the bossy party. For the last 20 or so years, the Dems have known what is good for the American population, and they've aimed to impose it on an ignorant populace. The Republicans realized it was wrong - and a bad idea politically - to talk down to the American electorate. They realized it was wrong to limit freedoms. So we built an agenda of giving people choices - where to spend their money (by making them pay fewer taxes), or by instituting school vouchers, for example.

Largely, we've accomplished that mission. Taxes are low, people are free to choose where they spend their money and go to school. I'd like people to be free to choose how they invest their social security money, too, but that issue isn't going forward any more.

Right now, though, a large faction of my party thinks it knows what is best for the American people. It "knows" that abortion is always wrong, that allowing even civil unions for gays would lead to legalized incest, et cetera. Trouble is, the American people don't know this, and largely believe the inverse. When the Republican Party was based on economic and social libertarianism, it thrived. I fear it is turning away from this path today.

Update: Brad, leave comments if I'm wrong!

'Nother Update: This thing just gets longer and longer. Jib has a great post on Republicans and government spending, another thing I've been disappointed with my team about.

The march continues

Certainly the glorious march of communism has continued in the face of Western imperialist decadence - that cannot be questioned. Consider Madison now liberated - the MIM Notes have arrived at the Union! And what does MIM stand for, you ask? Why, Maoist International Movement, of course! For those of you who just know that Khrushchev was an apostate, your day of enlightenment is here!
MIM Notes is the bi-monthly newsletter of the Maoist Internationalist Movement. MIM Notes is the official Party voice. Material in the paper is the Party's position unless noted to the contrary.

Sadly, the August 2005 edition is not up on their site yet - surely the Party is too busy planning the Revolution to bother putting its latest propaganda efforts online. I'm sure that would disenfranchise the proletariat somehow, anyway. Unfortunately, there's so much zanyness that I really can't give you a good description of it here - but be sure to pick it up or check it out online!

Sheboygan Brat Days

Yesterday was quite the to-do: Sheboygan Brat Days. It started out with a long, hot parade in the morning. A quarter of Wisconsin's congressional delegation showed up, as Tom Petri, the area Rep., and Mark Green both took part.

****Netanyahu resigns?**** Just heard. Has the road map been thrown out the window once again? More on working Brat Days later.



Muchos gracias to Brad, who has kept this blog running for quite some time now! Unfortunately, this is the first time I've even read the Internet in a week and a half - my news-gathering capabilities have been limited to the Wisconsin State Journal lately. Which is to say, I haven't really been able to get ahold of much actual news.

Hopefully, I'll have some substantive stuff tomorrow.


Madison's Race Debate

There's a vigorous debate going on over at the Madison School Board blog about The PEOPLE Program, which is designed to feed minorities into UW-Madison. Poster Joan Knoebel is asking all the right questions. Why is the skin color or ethnicity of Madison's students determining whether they can get a major academic break in the admissions process?

There are other costs, too, literally. According to an article in the State Journal:
Over the past two years, UW-Madison has spent about $5.76 million for PEOPLE
Add that to $400,00+ for UW-Madison's Multicultural Student Union, $300,000+ for Diversity Education Specialists, and a boatload of money for Plan 2008. It's the price of "diversity."

Burger King's Heir

The new building is finally complete at the corner of Lake and University in Madison - it's a far cry from the crusty old Burger King that used to occupy the site.

Wisconsin Case to Watch

Scalia was right. Pandora's box has been opened, and now some people are pushing for a "right to incest." Unfortunately, they're from right here in the Badger State.

The National Review says the case Muth v. Frank may soon be headed for the Supreme Court:
On June 22, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit in Chicago decided the case of Muth v. Frank, unanimously upholding Wisconsin’s criminal prohibition of incest as constitutional. But the court’s reasoning was extremely bad — surprisingly so, given the undoubted legal acumen of its author — in dealing with the precedent relied upon by the petitioner in the case. That precedent was Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling declaring the unconstitutionality of laws against homosexual sodomy.
Two siblings. Three children. One abysmal Supreme Court ruling that basically forbids the use of any standard of morality from being used as the basis of law. Zero years until somebody out there tries to legalize polygamy. Oddly enough, I haven't heard about this case until today.

I wonder what Althouse would think about this one? Sykes would probably find it to be interesting material as well.


Santorum and His Book

I caught a bit of Senator Santorum's appearance on Booknotes a few nights ago where he spoke about his new book, It Takes a Family.

Badger Blues has an unmistakable distaste for the Senator (and most things right of the line, really):
It’s about freedom and liberty and allowing people to live their lives in their own way, according to their own conscience. And the Republican Party needs to stop playing nanny and butt out of the way.
Somehow, I guess BB doesn't see the Left's support of social security, creation of "hate" crimes, and ongoing attack on religion in the public square for what it is: the real nanny state wannabe.

On the show, Santorum made pithy observations about perceived flaws in the arguments of both liberals and libertarians; radical self-determination without adverse side affects for the rest of the community, especially children, is nearly impossible. He also points out that America, uniquely and consciously at its founding, created a government predicated on a belief in a higher power.

This assertion of course, based on The Declaration of Independence, is rooted in a belief in a creator as the ultimate source of the rights humans have and "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men." Our system, then, does not work if a deity is taken out of the equation; our rights are cheapened.

Really, Santorum's is an interesting perspective from a principled conservative. He seems to argue that morals are the necessary rules governing the interaction between individual and community. They maintain the balance. He feels they have largely eroded away.

I have always found it ironic that the atheistic attacks on Christianity in public life are possible only due to the historic tolerance practiced by a system that has operated, since Jackson at least, along the lines of a Judeo-Christian tradition. The feeding hand is bitten and lopped off.

Steve, I'm guessing, may have a different perspective on Santorum's philosophy. Paging Steve...

UPDATE: Here's more on Santorum and His Book from Chris at On the Borderline.

What? There's no liberal bias...

Headline from the lead article in yesterday's Wisc"Onion" State Journal:



Madison Tilts at Halloween Windmills

They've tried a massive police presence. They've tried video cameras. They've tried bands, free pizza, and horses. They've tried stadium lighting and pepper spray. And now this.

Madison wants to use snow fences, that's right, to keep Halloween revelers on State Street under control.

At least the idea's not as crazy as Mayor Dave's earlier suggestion to shut the city off from the outside world for a weekend.

The police miscalculated three years ago, and they've never lived it down. I've seen rioting break out in every one of those years. Yet no merchants have even taken the simple step of boarding windows. Somehow, I think that practical precaution would prevent more damage than using snow fence.

Good luck - last year's extensive (and expensive) preventative measures couldn't prevent a huge fire in the middle of the street at about 3am. That shopping cart I saw fly through the air wasn't exactly an encouraging sign either...

Anchors Aweigh in Brat City?

The Journal Sentinel says today that the U.S.S. Des Moines, a gun cruiser originally planned for placement on the Milwaukee lakeshore, may find a home in the Sheboygan harbor on Lake Michigan.

At over 700 feet long, I'm not sure there's a practical location for the behemoth in the Sheboygan River - even after dredging. From my canoeing experiences, the river winds quite a bit even up to the very end of its channel. Placing it in the harbor proper along South Pier would likely draw fire from the new Blue Harbor Resort, which overlooks the area.

It would be pretty cool, though. I wonder if the proponents have looked at Manitowoc? Adding a near battleship to the sub at the museum there would add to the city's claim as "Wisconsin's Maritime Capital."


A coup appears to be underway in the African nation of Mauritania. It seems to be quite the bi-polar place, so I see why tension would build up:
Mauritania -- which hopes to start pumping oil early next year -- is one of only three Arab League member states that have established diplomatic ties with Israel.

It is also one of the most repressive countries in the region toward Islamist movements, analysts say.
Watch for China to step in when the dust settles and try to grab the oil regardless of human rights abuses.


You're a What?

Yeah, I'm a transubstantiator.

So is she (HT).

Vintage Bolton

We've seen the 'stache. We've heard the opposition's rhetoric. We've read the incendiary quotes out of context. Russ Feingold is frowning. Bolton is in the house.

Here's a telling quote from a piece he wrote on the U.N., almost Scalian in its vivid, literary ferocity:
And, all the while, the UN bureaucracy grew
and grew, just like a coral reef—no planning, no system,
no goal, yet blessed with apparently eternal life.
Yes, Bolton is blunt; I think we'll be better for it. His stinging - and oh so apt - summary of the Carter Administration's foreign policy:
The Carter foreign policy team reemerged from hibernation,
after 12 years of failing to learn from their own mistakes.
Having given away the Panama Canal, been paralyzed by the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, been driven to their knees by
the Communist-led Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, been
humiliated by the Iranian kidnapping of our diplomats in
Teheran, and sabotaged our national defense readiness by
inattention and ineptness, the Carter team came back for
another turn at the plate.
Still wringing your hands about the recess appointment? Well then complain to George Washington and JFK for using them on appointments to the Supreme Court. This is going to be an exhilirating thing to watch; Bolton is one of those figures who will work to permanently alter the framework of debate and vision in the institution. This is for the better. The U.N. has for too long been a place of exclusively diplomatically-inclined personalities, world citizens. Bolton, at last, is an American citizen going to represent us.

Lightning rods have a funny way of saving the house.

GOP Governor Competition: View from the Lull

Not much new lately; bigger issues have largely knocked Green and Walker from the headlines as of late. No more Harley/basket of Milwaukee County goodies chatter on the Walker front, and Democratic complaints about Green's vote in favor of CAFTA were in vain. Especially since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called it a good thing.

This respite from the marathon campaign for the GOP nod provides a good opportunity to take a mini-retropsective on the campaign thus far. How have the boys done up to this point?

The earlier observation about media attention is illuminating. Walker took far too long to shake the Green Bay Press Gazette's scandal-laced suggestions. On the flip side, Green's lack of blow by blow contact with the MJS seems to be working to his advantage; there aren't a host of detailed local policy items to attack him on, as there are with a county executive. Recent passage of a Green bill in the House designed to enforce trade rules with China also struck a chord given the times.

In the realm of fundraising, Green maintained a slight edge at the last benchmark. However, Walker was doing very well in the on-line arena. This, as was seen in the Dean effort, can drum up press pieces on novelty aspects of the campaign, even if it is not critical. Walker has also brought Bruce Pfaff onboard, which, as some have said, may not be the best tie to the GOP grassroots statewide; I reserve judgment on this.

After seeing both candidates in multiple forums for competition in the past six months, some definite stump patterns have emerged. Walker's speeches start out slowly, but get through to Wisconsinites; he's fought their battles in Milwaukee County. He emphasizes the Milwaukee factor as the key to winning statewide against Jim Doyle. He's calm, he's your average guy, he can win.

Green is a statesman. His speeches are broad, overarching, and inspiring. This is a man with a sense of history, someone with "the vision thing." He may reach up into the clouds once in awhile; he's very earnest. He emphasizes his win in 1998 as the only House victory against a Dem incumbent in that year, which is true, but comes off as slightly stale. He's polished, he's positive, he doesn't have much baggage.

Earlier this summer, Walker did not seize the moment at a June Badger Boys State address before a captive audience. He was a Boys Nation Senator, however, just as President Clinton and Rep. Petri were. Green's vote on CAFTA has not tripped him up, but his name recognition, especially in the Milwaukee media market, needs improvement.

Either candidate, really, would do the job handily when it comes to defeating Doyle in '06. Both are right on target when it comes to the core issues most important to the GOP primary voter. So far, they have both been remarkably civil, which is to be applauded.

But as September of 2006 draws near, they will have to differentiate ever so slightly. And that process, undoubtedly, will be most intriguing to watch.

*NOTE: This was published at 12:17 a.m., not p.m. - strange.

Quintessential Campus Shot

Ogg Hall and U-Square. Ahh, how we'll miss you.