Shedding Light on Student Fee Abuse

This is great - a story exposing student segregated fees as "stealth tuition." Finally some statewide attention to the ridiculous amounts of mandatory fees we are forced to pay each year for questionable purposes. The headline is basically a Robinhood Slate talking point writ large. We here at Letters in Bottles have been hounding on high fees for some time - see here, here, and here.

The fees fund all sorts of wonderful things - like condoms, "multicultural barbeques," "Queer Olympics," lefty speakers like Michael Moore, and trips for a handful of students to Florida. The article also quotes former SSFC Chair J. Wise as opposing the $300,000+ that goes annually to pay for "diversity" here at UW-Madison.

The system is wracked with problems. Yet there are solutions out there, as I've written recently.

Journal Sentinel Gets Madison Halloween All Wrong

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is on a police brutality kick after the Halloween weekend. Trouble is, they're wrong.

This article says the crowd had not done anything unlawful and portrays them as purely innocent victims. Anyone who was in the thick of things early on Sunday morning knows that is not true. People in the crowd were quite clearly throwing water bottles, parts of costumes, and other objects at mounted police officers shortly before bar time. Officers had to shield themselves with their arms, ducking and dodging as the objects flew at them. One officer in front of Qdoba came close to falling off of his horse.

Other revelers heckled foot officers, running up behind them shouting profanity-laced tirades, mocking and taunting the police as they retreated off State Street near Brats just before 2 a.m. Some were even poking or tapping at the last officers in line - one officer was enraged and tried to grab at the person, but the costumed heckler ran off.

The Badger Herald's editorial today also painted the crowd as victims - endangering the safety of police officers does not appear to be a consideration with this paper either.

The timing of the push is problematic; setting it at bar time causes a point of tension to escalate towards. But the physical hostility to officers alone could be viewed as a legitimate justification for the dispersal of the crowds.

I thought so

Well, it's Alito! I'm initially pleased, without knowing a whole lot about him right now. But I can learn about him, which is the point.

I think this was a good move by Bush - especially on the point of not creating a specific "woman's chair". Remember he was criticized for that early in the Miers nomination? Now he can say, "Well, I tried to nominate a woman, and you guys didn't like her, so now we've got this guy, who is clearly qualified, so what are you going to do about it?" Excellent strategy (strategery?).


More Madison Halloween Pictures

All Pictures Copyright 2005 Letters in Bottles

Madison Halloween Roundup

Madison is still recovering from another festive and rowdy Halloween.

Stop over at Patriot Blog for a picture of one of the most clever costumes of the night, the "Nudist on Strike." Althouse links to the State Journal story, which is quite accurate. And, of course, see below for some photo coverage and an analysis of police tactics. The Cap Times has great pics, too.

UPDATE: The Daily Page sports a fine gallery of the event full of great photos.

Report from the front, part two; or, the riot that never was

It'll be called a lot of things. But it definitely cannot rightly be called a riot.

Things started to get interesting about 1.30 am. A large knot of people gathered outside The Pub and was getting... excitable. Football chants ("Eat sh*t - F*ck you!" and that one crazy soccer chant) were prevalent. There was another knot of people farther down the street toward campus - roughly near Steve and Barry's and Brats. Two horse units of about 6-10 riders each would ride through our knot, followed by a number of officers on foot. At one point, there was some smoke, but even from a higher perch, I couldn't see a fire. Nor did I see any arrests taking place.

Around ten to two, the police started a new tactic. They formed up the horses with foot police behind them, and marched up the street, clearing partiers onto the sidewalks, but leaving a vaccuum behind them, into which revellers poured. The police formed up their horses again, looking to come down the street. By this time, a solid us-versus-them attitude had taken hold: every time the police moved away from the crowd, the students cheered and jeered at the police. We moved to a more strategic location - the open area connecting Langdon and State Streets, next to Potbelly's.

The police made a couple more passes through the crowd - by this time, it was the only knot of people - before switching to a new tactic around 2 am. Leaving some of their forces on the upper side of the street to hold that crowd back, they marched the other part down State St, moving partiers back. They came to a hald just in front of us, because they didn't have the forces to be able to block off the open area as well. Then the horse started pulling back.

Then a strange thing happened. The foot police started dissipating too. Groups of about a dozen would jog back towards Brats, turning off by the outdoor patio. No one knew what to make of it, but the students quickly swarmed back into the streets, chanting.

Suddenly, we saw police flashing lights coming from up the street, and we saw the police in their full riot gear. And they were shooting bursts of some kind of gas - either tear gas or pepper spray, I'm not sure which. That's when people started running. I turned to get one last picture of the riot cops, and caught a mouthful of the gas. It made me wretch something fierce, with a powerful burning sensation in my mouth... actually, I just noticed blood on my pantleg. I was gagging pretty good.

So that was that. There was a long period of time in which the "party" could easily have become a riot, but the police seemed to have it in hand. In fact, when they split their forces so that they didn't leave a vaccuum on either side of the street, they really seemed to have control of the situation. The riot cops seemed extremely heavy-handed. But that was the method the police chose this year for preventing a riot.

Pictures to follow in the next post.

State Street Halloween Riots - Madison, WI

Hordes of revelers jam Madison's State Street, shortly after 10:30 p.m. Buildings and crowds alike were illuminated by massive banks of stadium lights.

Mounted police begin a slow, steady charge down State Street in the face of overwhelming, chanting, unruly crowds.

Shortly after midnight, smoke clouds billowed outside of State Street Brats as police cordoned off a perimeter.

Dense crowds massed in State Street in the stretch between Gilman and Lake, especially the narrow canyon near Qdoba. Crowds grew increasingly belligerent as the night wore on, uniting in Badger football, soccer, and even patriotic chants.

Mounted police swarm in the wee hours of the morning, trying to disperse a knot of rowdies in front of Qdoba as the crowd neared a fever pitch. Several dense knots of active revelers formed and the mounted police, numbering nearly 20 at one point, shuttled back and forth between nodes, preventing density from forming. The tactic, which also included filling in the voids created with officers on foot, showed a marked tactical improvement in response methods over last year.

Partiers taunt mounted officers shortly before all police forces vacated the street on the brink of bartime. When the crowd began throwing things at the officers, the mounted and foot officers fled the field. The forces regrouped up the street and made a massive, forceful push down street with clouds of pepper spray rolling out ahead, driving the crowds from the street.

Throughout the escalation, a public announcement system played an airport style message thanking attendees for their "patronage" of the city and telling them to leave. The crowd responded with "We Want Tear Gas." The pepper spray seemed to be a more effective message in the end. It still stings. Ah, the price of quality blog coverage.

All Photos Copyright 2005 Letters in Bottles

Report from the front, part one

So far, things are reasonably calm. State Street is great. Howver, one trifle. Old people - if you're going to gawk at the crazy kids and their goofy costumes, please at least have the courtesy to get dressed up yourself!

(It isn't cool to go just gawk without taking part in the whole experience!)


Broken Glass in Madison

While it's not on State Street, some glass is on the pavement this morning after Round 1 of Halloween 2005.

Someone smashed in the rear window of a car last night in the street near our house. The owner, cleaning up this morning, reported an ipod stolen, and hypothesized that it was the cause of the vandalism.

The papers here are reporting an overall calm evening. But, as I posted earlier, the seeds of tension were apparent - despite the hopeful sight of Jesus and Darth Vader walking hand in hand.

Madison Halloween Mayhem

As of 10 minutes ago, at least 20 horse-mounted police are on State Street trying to break up an agitated crowd in front of the Statesider private residence hall. Police streamed toward the area starting at about 2:20 a.m. People in the windows seem to be stirring up the crowd, despite the harsh stadium lighting that makes the whole area of the street seem like daylight+.

Associate Dean of Students Lori Berquam was spotted out on the street at 2:10 p.m. in person near the Sole Man store.

Ian's Pizza was jam-packed as usual for Halloween.

There are many more people out on the street tonight than on Friday nights in the past 3 years. It's almost like the early stages of a Saturday night. This doesn't bode well for tomorrow night.

G' night.

UPDATE: Here's a shot of the cavalry courtesy of Craig U's facebook photos.


Good Sign - Leftists Don't Like Diane Sykes

Some of our commentors have asked why the support for Judge Diane Sykes as a possible SCOTUS candidate. Well, here's one reason. The far left doesn't like her record - which means it might just have some merit.

The "Alliance for Justice" vigorously opposed Sykes' elevation to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 as she moved up from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Their dramatized reasons for opposition sound, with the rhetoric removed, like reasons a conservative could get behind her as a SCOTUS candidate:
"As a judge, Justice Sykes showed hostility to reproductive freedom and the rights of the accused. In addition, during her time on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, she has consistently ruled in favor of corporations, insurance and big business and against individuals in cases in which the justices were divided on the issue. In one case, she was the only justice who argued against overturning a conviction by a jury that included a juror who spoke no English."
As GOP3, operating at Sykes' law school alma mater, Marquette University, points out, she was also actively involved in the Federalist Society.

So to the critics, there are a few reasons a conservative should support Diane Sykes beyond her obvious Wisconsin heritage.

Gearing Up - Halloween in Madison Wisconsin

Halloween is just around the corner, as Steve S pointed out. But it's hard not to notice here in Madtown.

Going down State Street this morning, the floodlights are ready for action and the new deterrent for this year - orange snow fence - is just waiting at strategic chokepoints along the street to be unfurled. There are huge rolls of it anchored by garbage cans near the old Roses are Red and another set at the Walgreens end of the street.

Some people were getting an early start on the festivities, too; I saw the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz meandering down the street. With 400 police officers out tomorrow night, t's going to be interesting, to say the least.


It's the hap-happiest time of the year!

Yes indeed, Halloween is now truly upon us! However, not all is well with this hallowed holliday - indeed, things are scary in Milwaukee for entirely the wrong reasons! I mean honestly - smiling vampires and witches?

(h/t Wigderson)

Something missing

Abu Aardvark notes that there's something missing from the Volcker Report:
I'm too busy to comment on this at any length, but I did take some time to scan through Volcker's final report on the Oil for Food Programme, released today. It's full of very detailed descriptions of the illicit activities of a wide range of companies and individuals, especially Russian and French. But what caught my attention was what was missing when I went looking for it: the Arab media. With the exception of the Syrian journalist Hamida Nahnah, who was fingered long ago, I couldn't find a single Arab journalist or politician named.

Is that because there was not, in fact, a vast retinue of Arab journalists on Saddam's payroll? Is it because the Volcker commission didn't find this an interesting question? Is it because they got paid through other channels? For the record, I'm quite sure that there was a lot of Iraqi money slushing through the Arab media - along with Saudi money, Kuwaiti money, Lebanese money, and every other national money you might want to name. But this seems like a striking absence from a 600+ page report dedicated to naming names. So what gives?

Edwards in Madison

I knew John Edwards was going to be in Mad-town yesterday, but I was in class when he came. Luckily, Random10 was there. His take is here:
The Senator, to his credit, does not engage in Bush bashing and only mentions the War in Iraq twice in toss off comments to predictable polite applause. He then rambles for half an hour around the idea that “America is looking for something bigger than their own self interest”, and “the cause” that should capture this desire for a new “sense of national community”, is poverty. In other words, ending poverty is the great moral issue for our times. The Senator uses the word “moral” multiple times but never seems to understand that stopping religious based killing is also a great moral issue for our times.

But you know what they say - read the whole thing.

Diane Sykes Should be On This List

Yahoo named a number of potential replacement nominees, most of them familiar names to those of us following the SCOTUS appointment process.

But Diane Sykes should be on this list.

As has been well-established here, at GOP3, and with Jessica McBride, Sykes of the 7th seems to be floating around in the minds of some Wisconsin congressional members. And the Wisconsin native would be a slam dunk.

President Bush, I opposed the Miers nomination. Put up Diane Sykes and we'll call it even.


"That Dastardly Air"

State Senator Dave Zien elevated rhetoric at the state capitol to dizzying new heights yesterday during a debate on the Smoke Free Dining Act.

He claimed that air vents and heating ducts in the working place were the real problems for indoor air quality, saying that everyone must breath in the decomposing bodies of various dead creatures in the ductwork. He then named off a litany of such air-polluting organisms, including "birds, rats, bats" and "insects and mites."

I have to say it's the first time I've ever heard someone exclaim passionately: "We are all forced to breath in that dastardly air!"

Beacon Blazes

Edition 4 of The Mendota Beacon is out, and it broke a number of stories on campus, including the living wage referendum lawsuit and how Barrows' scandal will impact seg. fees. Steve S did a great job filling Version 4.0 with quality content.

Opinion features ways to change the student fee system, a comical call to arms to re-take Michigan's U.P., and a request that our student e-mail system be upgraded soon.


“this was snuck in the back door - no one knew about it"

Today was the hearing regarding the Union minimum wage referendum.

Read the Beacon story that broke this trial for the background. Basically, the suit alleged that the referendum:
1.) wasn't submitted on time
2.) didn't get the necessary 500 signatures needed to get on the ballot
3.) wasn't publicized in a reasonable fashion

So, how did the trial go? The "respondent" (read: defense) completely caved on issue two - he plainly stated that only 2 people submitted the referendum. On point one, he claimed that the date of the Fall Elections had been moved up. The referendum would have been submitted on time had the elections been held during their normal time. (The justices helpfully pointed out that the date change had been publicized before school started.) As for point three, he argued that being able to read the text of the referendum while voting (even though you had to click a link to see the full text of the referendum) constituted fair notice.

He also argued that Section 6.08 of the Bylaws was unconstitutional in requiring 500 signatures, which he claimed was excessive. (Of course, that's only barely more than 1% of the enrolled population of Madison.)

Those were the arguments. The justices raised a few points in the questioning section:
Is a referendum binding? If so, could one circumvent the laws (on recalls, for example) by using a referendum sponsored by two people (or 500) rather than going through the process of getting the percentage of students to agree that is required by the Bylaws and Constitution?
What constitutes reasonable notice? Does the court need to rule on this?
Would this referendum in specific violate viewpoint neutrality and advocacy rules?

The decision will be out in a week or two - we'll stay on the case!

The Onion to Cease Printing in Madison

This according to the loading dock manager down at Capital Newspapers. He said word came down yesterday.

The Onion moved its headquarters a few years back, so this represents a further withdrawal from the fertile ground the paper sprouted in initially.



Apparently my dad is right to say that things come in twos, but trouble comes in threes. After my post about a Muslim school winning a Department of Education award, I find this at Marquette Warrior:
For three weeks, impressionable twelve-year-old students were, among other things, placed into Islamic city groups, took Islamic names, wore identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Star and Crescent Moon, which is the symbol of Muslims, were handed materials that instructed them to “Remember Allah always so that you may prosper,” completed the Islamic Five Pillars of Faith, including fasting, and memorized and recited the “Bismillah” or “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls.

A federal district court judge in San Francisco had previously determined that the school district had not violated the constitution.

WHAT? On what planet is this okay? This is one of the few things that public schools are really, really, absolutely never supposed to do. Nowhere is there any balance in religions, which to me would be okay; nowhere is there any indication that kids are learning anything except indoctrination into a very specific religion. Not good. Not good at all.

Just saying...

The Badger Herald has a profile of Austin King today, venerable do-nothing that he is. Well, "do-nothing" might be strong, as he is often able to rouse himself when the ability to poke business in the figurative eye presents itself. Anyhow, beyond the expectable blather about what a good job he's doing for students, there's this:
He even jokes that this year for Halloween he is going as a fireman.

“If they start a bonfire on State Street again, I’m just going to take out the extinguisher and put out fires if I need to,” King said. “It’s kind of a dual purpose.”

Now, if I were Austin King, I'd go as Austin King. That'd be scary!

Excellence in education?

LGF has a post on an Islamic school in California that has recently won the Department of Education's "Blue Ribbon for Excellence" award. LGF freaks out:
This first ever award to a Muslim school appears to validate the predictions which cleric Yusuf Qaradawi made a decade ago, at a Muslim Youth conference in Ohio.

“...Some countries will fall to the armed Islamic jihad, but in others, such as the United States, victory will come through Da’wa - the teaching of Islam to non-Muslims - which will trigger Westerners to convert to Islam ‘in droves.’ We will conquer America not by the sword but by Da’wa.”

Qawadari has since been banned from the U.S. due to his terror connections, but his vision of Da’wa transforming America into a United States of Allah, is reflected in the curriculum used in schools like that of New Horizons and as developed by affiliates such as ISNA [The Islamic Society of North America]. the BIAE [The Board of Islamic and Arabic Education] and the UK based IBERR [International Board for Education Research and Resources].

The BIAE, based in Los Angeles - which plans the curriculum of the New Horizons School together with the Islamic Center of Southern California even offers an Islamized version of the Pledge of Allegiance on their website. It begins with the phrase - “As an American Muslim I pledge allegiance to ALLAH and his Prophet.”
[emphasis added by LGF]

Well, okay, that's fine as far as it goes. But let's think about this critically, rather than simply coming unglued because those durn Mooslems are gettin' uppity.

Firstly, pledging allegiance. I don't like that they've reworked the pledge. BUT. Don't Catholics (more or less) pledge allegiance to the Pope. They realize full well that the two things can be kept separate, and that following the Pope does not mean being a bad American citizen, or in any way disloyal. On another level, any Christian should be pledging allegiance to Jesus and God (insofar as they're also one in the same) over any Earthly authority. So, yeah, Muslims pledge allegiance to their deity and his representative on Earth.

Secondly, the article makes some pretty strange insinuations. For all I know, the school is just another religious school, focusing on teaching good reading, writing, and religion. Throwing the words of a radical in without proving to me that they apply to the school in question is really bad journalism. And really, even if schools such as these do manage to convert broad swaths of the American populace to Islam, will that inevitably change the American outlook on governance? I really doubt it. I know that I can change my religious outlook without changing my political beliefs, so why can't others? This is one of the things that drives me nuts about a small segment of the right - the belief that Islam is totally incompatible with democracy. This is staggeringly untrue, and it disgusts me to see this insinuation made here. It's simply wrong. Or if it's true, what the hell do these people think we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Finally, I think this is interesting from a completely secular standpoint. This award makes it much more difficult for liberals to argue that Bush hates Muslims, or that his "faith-based initiatives" are a purely Christian endeavor. Because if that was true, how could a Muslim school ever win such an award?


I oppose the Miers nomination.

We oppose the Miers nomination.

Personally, I see it as a disgustingly crony-ist move by Bush, and demonstrative of extremely poor tactical positioning. I'll let Brad post his thoughts as well.

Interestingly, it looks like bloggers are massively opposed to the nom - 178 opposed, 33 neutral, and 33 in support right now.

Madison Moonbats Tilt at Windmills

Don "Madison" Quixote and his trusty sidekick Sancho "Cap Times" Panza are at it again.

The errant knights of Madtown's anti-war crowd have their lances aimed at the biggest windmill they can find. Yes, that's right, they believe that a citywide referendum will bring the troops home.

The Cap Times didn't even read its own editorial while trotting along on its faithful donkey:
"Wars are fought in the name of the American people. They are paid for by the American people. And they are experienced by the American people whose loved ones, co-workers and neighbors become casualties on the fields of battle..."
That's just the point. Wars are fought in the name of the American people - not the Madison people who live in a geographical area of indeterminate size surrounded by reality. This is precisely why the joust is so comical, not to mention arrogant.

After calling Herb Kohl a "thinking member of congress," Sancho gives a status check on the petition drive charge:
The petition drive in Madison has already collected an impressive 11,000 signatures, but another 5,000 are needed by mid-November to ensure that the measure will qualify for the ballot.
Some Isthmusians are also cantering along on the grand adventure, planning a student walkout on November 2 - with a cloudy mix of anti-war and anti-ROTC fury.

Their trusty steeds will raise a great cloud of dust, no doubt, but in the end, the anti-war charge is still just tilting at one big windmill.

Fallen Fall

Photo Copyright 2005 Letters in Bottles

Tales of St. Nazianz

Looks like people are paying attention to the former JFK Prep complex in the little village of St. Nazianz, according to a post over at Lakeshore Laments.

The abandoned complex of grand old Catholic buildings - including a church, dormitory, seminary, library, convent, priests' cemetery, crypt, chapel, and printing office - has really taken a beating in the past two decades since the Salvatorian Order left. The fascinating collection of buildings grew out of the town's intial settlers , a group of German Catholics under Father Ambrose Oschwald who established a Catholic commune in 1854. His sarcophagus is buried in an eerie crypt on a hillside nearby.

Here's a site with more pictures of the ruined JFK prep buildings - although beware of the wildly inaccurate stories this guy has up on the site. The place was a the scene of gang warfare in the late 1990s. From a trip to the site a few years back - with permission from the owners at the time - it was definitely apparent. Oh yeah - the tunnels were cool too.


University Ave. Suicide Threat Ends Safely

As reported below, the man came down safely into police custody as of 9:08.

Someone on the scene shouted "I love you." to the man on the bridge.

LIB's own Steve S will post pictures soon. Daily Perspectives will also have photos.

Update: the jumper's girlfriend had just broken up with him - that's why he did it.

Update: Here are pics from the scene--

Suicide Attempt on University Avenue Bridge

A man is on the bridge ready to jump between Humanities and Vilas.

UPDATE: Reports say the man is threatening to jump into the roadway below (I don't know if that would even be fatal). Steve S. is off to cover developing story for the Mendota Beacon. LIB will have more.

UPDATE - 8:15: Reports coming in that person looks like a male student who is hanging over the edge. Police are on the bridge with the person at this time.

UPDATE - 8:28: Reports coming in that traffic is blocked off on University Avenue below the pedestrian bridge. The man is sitting up on the railing. There are two police officers on the bridge and they are not talking to the Beacon reporters on site. No other media appears to be on the scene.

UPDATE - 8:34: Reports coming in that about six squad cars are blocking off traffic under the bridge. An ambulance is waiting nearby. Two pairs of officers are blocking off either end of the bridge in addition to the two officers on the bridge near the man. The man who is threatening to jump is wearing dark pants and a dark jacket, as well as a one strap backpack of sorts. A small group of onlookers is beginning to form on one end of the bridge.

UPDATE - 8:40: Reports coming in that the man is standing on the outside of the bridge railing and the police are talking to him. Police are telling the few reporters on scene that no weapons are involved and nothing more.

UPDATE - 8:59: Reports coming in that onlookers are now gathering at both ends of the bridge. The man is on the east side of the bridge facing where oncoming traffic would be.

UPDATE - 9:08: This just in - PERSON CAME DOWN SAFELY - no jump. The police have taken the man into custody. The Daily Cardinal is now on the scene. Pictures on The Mendota Beacon yet this evening.


Marquette: Madison Is Better

Hey, they said it.

One thing left off the list of Madison's advantages?

Bucky can take whatever their mascot happens to be on any given day.


My take on the apparently questionable sexual proclivities of a girl named Anne

So, perhaps you've seen the kerfluffle over a few Michigan fans getting hot under the collar about apparent verbal abuse they "suffered" after their trouncing at the hands of the far-superior-anyway Wisconsin Badgers.

I don't really have much new to say, other than I thought up the title for the post and needed some content down here. But it seems to me that there are two important facets to this story:

1.) These people are dumb:
“I can’t count the number of times that students got into our face and called us a—holes, or yelled out, ‘Ann Arbor is a whore, you bitches’ (an insult that I frankly don’t even understand), or told us to go back to Michigan.” [emphasis added]

Really? You don't get it? You can't figure out that "Anne" is a girl's name, and that it is further an insult to insinuate that said girl sleeps around? Well, then here's another insult: If brains were dynamite, you wouldn't have enough to blow your nose. Figure that one out.

2.) These people desperately need to grow some... ahem... courage:
Iowa fans are nuts and Ohio State fans are hostile, but at Wisconsin, the students are drunk beyond comprehension and incredibly abusive verbally and physically.”

Screw off, dimwit. I had to work at Steve and Barry's for eight hours that day, and we got more drunken idiots through there than you can shake a stick at. And I couldn't yell back at them. Stop whining. This is Wisconsin. We drink. Get over it.

10 Questions About the SLAC Referendum

Is ASM suing or not?

Both campus dailies have a story or article today with headlines about a possible lawsuit against the laughable SLAC living wage referendum.

Problem is, neither paper actually mentions anything in the body of the articles about who's filing the suit or on what grounds. They simply regurgitate a bunch of SLAC lackeys' quotes.

Shared Governance Chair Eyal Halamish also shows he has no understanding of shared governance of the university under state law:
“If the Chancellor is the last word on all issues, then where is the shared governance?”
Under state statute 36.09(5), any decisions made by the student government are all ultimately reviewable by the Chancellor and Board of Regents.

Here are a few core questions about this messy referendum affair that it seems nobody has asked yet:

1. Was the referendum turned in to the Student Election Commission Chair or Student Judiciary Chief Justice at least three weeks before the election based on the deadline in the ASM Constitution and Bylaws, namely Article XIII, Section 2 of the Constitution?

2. Is the nature of the issue not one that would require an amendment to the ASM Constitution under Subsection 6.08 (B) of the ASM Bylaws, and thus petition signatures of at least 10% of the campus population?

3. If the referendum actually was not a constitutional matter, were 500 signatures collected and turned in to the SEC Chair as required in Section 6.08 (C) of the ASM Bylaws?

4. Where are the signatures and has their validity been ascertained?

5. Did the Student Judiciary (not Student Election Commission), as required by Subsection 6.08 (D) of the ASM Bylaws, determine if the referendum text met "the requirements of the Constitution and Bylaws" before placing it on the ballot?

6. Had the Student Election Commission even established a due date for referenda to be filed with the committee, as required in Subsection 6.08 (E) of the ASM Bylaws?

7. Does the political speech nature and goal of the living wage referendum fail to meet Article IV, Section 4 and Article XIII, Section 1 of the ASM Constitution, which limits the scope of a funding initiative to " allocate or prohibit the allocation of funds under the control of the ASM, with funding for speech or expressive activities being exempt from initiative."

8. Does the referendum violate Article IV, Section 4 of the ASM Constitution, which requires "filing with the Student Judiciary of a petition signed by five percent of the members of the ASM," a different number than the 500 required by the Bylaws for a non-Constitutional Amendment?

9. When exactly is "that budget cycle" described in Article XIII, Section 4 (c) of the Constitution that provides for a counter referendum to overturn the SLAC referendum?

10. As asked earlier, who is suing over this and when?

Questions, answers

Q: When do the frats work on their floats for Homecoming?
A: In the wee hours of the morning, apparently. They're kinda noisy, actually, what with all the buzzing of drills and whatnot.

Q: Why do I blog in the wee hours of the morning, when the frat-sters are working on their floats?
A: 'Cause I'm procrastinating. I have a big-ish paper due tomorrow. Er, today, now, actually.

Q: Any other good means of procrastination?
A: Oh, tons. I'll tell you about it later...


Thursday thingamajig

Here it be again: today's theme - things at night.

Exhibit A: the view from my room

Exhibit B: Bascom Hall

And lastly, Library Mall and State St.

Ban Out of State Campaign Funds

Even if his only intention is to make Doyle look bad, Spencer Black's proposed legislation to ban campaign funding from out of state sources seems like a good thing on its face.

The people who live in this state must ultimately hold the reins of its government. The legislation would reinforce state sovereignty, which is refreshing given the gutting of the 10th Amendment by the federal government and Supreme Court.

I'm sure objections are out there; what about family members in another state? What about people who own businesses here that will be directly affected by legislation? Ultimately, though, I think these concerns must be overriden by a desire to expunge outside special interest groups that really should not have a say in how we govern ourselves in this state.

While it's not the main impetus for supporting the measure, I think this will help Wisconsin conservatives in the long run.


Pop quiz!

Apparently, having a midterm exam and three papers due this week isn't enough for some people - Jib has to go and throw another pop quiz on the BBA. And it's only one question! Thankfully it's a multiple-guess question, though.

Madison Deluded by Political Correctness - Again

It seems the Madison School Board has done it again. No, not eliminated the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Something different this time.

The board insisted on awarding a busing contract to a minority-owned business despite indications of significant problems, which, surprise, are now having a negative impact on school children.

This city, which Althouse rightly called "Madison, Wisconsin, an insular place, with a lot of fairly like-minded people," will kowtow to the nebulous concept of "diversity" on any chance it gets. The folly of this reliance on the color of one's skin is again made clear.


Wake Up and Smell the Cold War

Rumsfeld is over in China, and he's actually raising some abrasive points, although the time for mere observations has largely passed:
Rumsfeld questioned China's motives in underreporting its defense spending. He mentioned no figures, but the Pentagon said last summer that China may be spending $90 billion on defense this year _ three times the announced total.

"I think it's interesting that other countries wonder why they would be increasing their defense effort at the pace they are and yet not acknowledging it," Rumsfeld said. "That is as interesting as the fact that it's increasing at the pace it is."
China pulling the full Sun-Tzu on us. When the line is ultimately crossed, we'll look back and the harbingers of aggression will be clear, just as the events leading up to September 11 were. China is not building up for Taiwan alone.

Fighting Fluoridation

TIME Magazine has an interesting piece this week on new efforts to fight fluoridation of municipal water. A new study shows that adding the chemical to water may not be a Communist plot, as was thought in the 1950s, but that it may in fact cause bone cancer.

Some municipalities in Wisconsin still do not fluoridate their water, my hometown included. Here's the list if you want to check on a particular locale. I guess I am glad. I would rather have a few cavities than bone cancer. And I certainly don't want to be duped by the Communists.

Crack - up or down?

The Limbaugh "this is no 'crackup'" thing has been getting a lot of play. Yesterday Jib posted on it, concluding, "I'm coming around, everyone. But I still remain concerned."

I'm skeptical, too, and for more stuctural reasons. As some readers may know, I was a staffer on the Bush campaign last year, so I saw a reasonable piece of the strategy that was used. I was conflicted about it then, and I've soured on it since. Bush didn't go for any kind of grand, ideological victory - the Rove strategy was one of squeezing rocks for water. Rather than focusing on broad, uniting themes, the GOP voter-turnout strategy was extremely narrowly defined, and really only focused on getting enough votes to squeak out a win.

But still, Bush managed to attract a broad segment of moderates - those, like myself, who believed that the War on Terrorism (and especially the Iraq War component) was the most important foreign policy focus, and that small government was the most important goal domestically. Certainly, Kerry did a great job of alienating himself from this group.

The trouble is, moderates cleave off easily. They support the President, but they don't necessarily support the Republican Party in a broader context, unless it is fighting for smaller government, less spending, and a successful prosecution of the War on Terrorism.

Miers reflects an administration that isn't sure which way to go. It suggests to many, like myself, that Bush is no longer leading the Republican Party. It also brings out the issue most likely to cleave social liberals (again, like myself) away from the GOP - social conservatism. I suspect that there is a fairly large contingent of Republican-leaning libertarians. Losing their support is more dangerous than the Republican leadership seems to realize. By focusing on Miers's social conservatism, and her willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, however, the Congressional leadership may be doing just that.

Historical analogies

Having studied the history of Soviet Communism reasonably thoroughly, I've gone back a bit farther, taking a class on the Russian intelligentsia of the 19th century. It's a lot of fun, and really fascinating.

Right now we've gotten into the 1830s and '40s, called the "Age of Circles" - it was an age when students, dissatisfied with the current regime and city society, but also largely disillusioned with the peasant culture of the countryside, formed discussion groups that would be the foundation of true Russian intellectualism. This was when the debate between Westernizers and Slavophiles began - a debate that would continue through to today.

But the idea of these circles fascinates me. For the young Russians of the time, they were life and death - literally everything rode on what was discussed in these small groups of idealistic university students. I'd love for such a time to come again.

Then it hit me - I'm already involved in this same thing. Except now, instead of meeting in a small Moscow apartment to down bottles of vodka and discuss Hegel, I have a drink (although more often coffee than any kind of alchohol, fortunately or not) and begin to blog. Bloggers have their own circles, amorphous as they are - the Ecosystem is a good demonstration, as is the Wisconsin blogosphere. And I suspect that when historians look back, they may well view this electronic grass-roots movement as just as revolutionary as the old one. Perhaps we aren't toppling the old media outright, but we are pushing them around a bit. The same with government: the blogs have become a new voice. We're intellectual, we're dissatisfied, and we're talking about it. And that's always a good thing.

Leading the Charge

Badger Herald columnist (and former Mendota Beacon columnist) Darryn Beckstrom takes it to the SSFC for denying funding to the UW Roman Catholic Foundation.

Beckstrom has placed herself out in front of reasonable causes on campus this semester; she has not been afraid to take sides and overcome the San Juan Hills that present themselves.

Teddy would be proud.

The Student Judiciary decision on UWRCF's lawsuit should come down today.


Wisconsin: Our Declining Electoral Power

In 2004, Wisconsinites were treated to a flurry of Presidential campaign activity in the months leading up to the November election. Why? The electoral college.

But how much influence do we actually account for in the process? Today we have 10 votes, which is higher than the 4 votes we started out with in 1848. But we had 13 for some time in the early part of the 20th Century. If our red/blue nature shifts at all, will we still matter?

I took a look at the numbers and here's how our voice in Presidential contests stacks up over time. We haven't been this weak electorally, as far as a percentage of votes necessary, since the 1850s.

Year-----Votes-----Votes Necessary------% of Votes Necessary

1848------4----------146--------------------- 2.7

1852 ------5 ---------149--------------------- 3.4

1860 ------5--------- 127 ---------------------3.9

1864 ------8 ---------117 ---------------------6.8

1868 ------8 ---------148 ---------------------5.4

1872 ------10 --------175 ---------------------5.7

1876 ------10 --------185--------------------- 5.4

1884------ 11-------- 201--------------------- 5.5

1892 ------12-------- 212--------------------- 5.7

1896------ 12 --------224--------------------- 5.4

1904------ 13 --------239--------------------- 5.4

1908 ------13-------- 242--------------------- 5.4

1912 -------13------- 262 --------------------- 5.0

1916 -------13 -------266 ---------------------4.9

1932 -------12 -------266 -------------------- 4.5

1960------ 12---------270-------------------- 4.4

1972, ------11-------- 270 ---------------------4.1

2004 -------10 --------270------------------- 3.7

The anomalous spike during the Civil War aside, the state had its highest comparative political influence on a Presidential election in 1872 and 1892.

Last fall, Wisconsin was at its third lowest level of national presidential selection influence in the history of its existence.

This trend is exacerbated by the white hot population growth in southern and western states - a political trend accurately forecast by Kevin Phillips after the 1968 election.

What could we do to increase population? Encourage immigration? Russian-style birth incentives? Lower taxes? Stop abortion?

More on Miers

Anne Althouse:
If you're going to have a fight, why would you choose to have the Miers fight rather than the Brown fight? If the answer is that Bush didn't think people would fight Miers, why did he misunderstand his own party so badly? [emphasis added]
That's what I've been trying to figure out. I often think Bush was trying to give people a blank slate, and hoping the Republicans, at least, would follow him. Unfortunately, Bush has, to my mind, largely lost control of the party. Congressional leaders, and grass-roots Republicans, no longer trust him. The independents are wary of him anyway on court issues - they want to make sure he doesn't put an extreme social conservative on the bench. So suddenly, Bush's appointee, whatever her qualities, had very little to stand on.

Althouse then asks another very good question:
Or is this, once again, misunderestimating Bush? The Brown fight would galvanize Democrats. The Miers fight leaves them completely confused.

Toward a new contract

The folks over at Democracy Arsenal are getting excited about a Nancy Pelosi-drafted National Security Contract with America. Some of it is okay, some of it is malarkey, and the way it's drafted now, it would be a good tool to make us run and hide from every threat. It is not a clear plan of action. But here's one part of it I liked:
8. Secure America for Our Children Act- This law would create a National Security Council function dedicated to assessing and preparing for long-term (5-50 years) threats. Such threats might include the rise of a second superpower like China, pandemics, or nuclear accidents. The Administration would be required to outline strategies for preparing and responding to each. Periodic reports on these threats to Congressional oversight committees would help ensure that political considerations do not result in over or underestimating particular threats.

However, here's something I'd like to add:
10. Spreading Democracy Act - We realize that the spread of democracy is the single most important force for combatting Islamo-fascism and, hence, terrorism. Destroying dictatorships and authoritarian regimes everywhere, and bolstering democracy in these states, should be the key goal of the Global War on Terrorism. Where it is possible, we will back democratic groups through non-violent ways. However, when the opportunity to intervene militarily presents itself, we will not shirk this means.

What would you add to the contract?


Scooping McBride on Diane Sykes for SCOTUS

Jessice McBride posts today on the prospects for Diane Sykes, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, to win round two if the Miers SCOTUS nomination fails.

Problem is, this blog lauded Justice Sykes and, via The Appletonian, picked up early on the Sykes buzz at ConfirmThem. We also made the point McBride does about putting Feingold and Kohl in a tight spot. When did we post about it? September 26.

Brandon over at GOP3 also posted the Sensenbrenner-Sykes connection a few days later after hearing it in person from the congressman - the same secondhand tidbit McBride emphasizes so heavily in her post.

Not long after our initial post on Sykes, Adam Schmidt of The Daily Cardinal at Madison even ran an op-ed pushing Sykes for the bench slot on the day Miers was nominated - our own Steve S pointed out the ironic chronology.

We may not be married to an attorney general candidate, but how about some props on the Blog Scoop Gallery?

"Thorin Sworn In as New Kiel Postmaster"

For any fans of the Tolkien classic "The Hobbit" out there.

Who knew a dwarf warrior would be named head of a post office in a small Wisconsin town?

The headline is from the Tri-County News.

GOP Conference Update

I just wrapped up my presentation on how to start and maintain a campus newspaper. Despite a few technical difficulties, things went well. Brandon from GOP3 also put on a presentation on political technology.

Unfortunately, we both spoke during the final portion of the Badger-Gopher game - I went into the talk thinking we weren't going to pull out and defend Paul Bunyan's Axe. Luckily, I was wrong!

Check out the Beacon website, www.mendotabeacon.com for coverage from our sports team, which was in the Twin Cities.

Now it's off to home for a bit. If only Lake Winnebago wasn't in the way... Signing off from Oshkosh.


A mixed day for conservative politics

Student government may have done the right thing on seg fees today, and we may have won big in student government elections yesterday, but we've also suffered a pretty bad defeat:
The referendum, drafted by members of SLAC to counteract the hiring of limited-term employees (LTEs) to fill formerly unionized positions, prevents the finance committee from hearing budget proposals from the Memorial Union and Union South, University Health Services and UW Recreational Sports — including the Natatorium, the Southeast Recreational Facility and the Shell — unless they pay all their workers a “livable wage” of slightly more than $10 per hour.

Of course, according to the economic illiterates that populate SLAC, this won't have any disadvantages for students.

There's still a possible ray of light in this, though:
Yet, for the specific services included in the referendum, SSFC only has the power to make budget recommendations which are later considered by University of Wisconsin Chancellor John Wiley before he ultimately makes the final decision. Now students anticipate whether or not the administration will adhere to the policy. If not, administrators could completely bypass SSFC from the process.

(This was mentioned a few days ago by Brad.)

Cutting some pork

ASM has finally done something useful, cutting the budget of a group called SAFEwalk. SAFEwalk is a group that pays students to walk other students home - apparently, some folks can't do this themselves. (OK, walking across campus at 2 am can be a bit creepy, and just 'cause I like it, doesn't mean others do... whatever.)

But they've really been milking things - it's a bit strange getting paid to stand in line at Qdoba:

Live From Oshkosh: WI College Republican Conference

It's a lovely evening here in Sawdust City on the banks of the Fox River. I talked to GOP Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jean Hundertmark earlier at the student union on the UW-O campus (she was filling in for Vicki McKenna).

Tomorrow I give a presentation on how to start a student newspaper from scratch - should be fun. Check out GOP3 and Daily Perspective for additional blog coverage of the event. Mark Green and Scott Walker are slated to speak tomorrow night.

Program Note: This is my first post with a brand new laptop. Finally! I don't have to rely on bumming a computer from friends to live blog an event.

Miers Looks Even More Squishy

Harriet has become the Albatross about George Bush's neck.

Right Off the Shore comments on the nominee's distinctions between the NAACP and the Federalist Society.

This is getting to be one heavy bird, Mr. President.

Update: Kevin at Lakeshore Laments hits up Miers Christmas card advice.


The Thursday Theme

Campus Conservatives Win

All three candidates endorsed by The Mendota Beacon won in the student elections that ended today, according to preliminary results. Additionally, a separate candidate endorsed by the College Republicans won. All four are aligned with The Robinhood Slate, a movement dedicated to fiscal responsiblity with student fees.

Only one other student took a spot out of the five up for election this fall. Nice work guys!

The New Cold War

The Office of Homeland Security has a telling post on the Chinese blasting off into the final frontier. His analysis of the event is right on target: China is aiming for world power status, and this is another tell-tale piece of evidence.

As China expert Ed Friedman said recently in a lecture, China has already, for all intents and purposes, become the second great power in the world today. And it will continue to push in ways it feels will contribute to the toppling of the United States from its position as world hegemon.

We should wake up and smell the nukes; China's ongoing military buildup, burgeoning economic strength, and increasing worldwide influence have created a rival power that the United States must address, despite its single-minded focus on terrorism.

A new Cold War appears to be upon us and, as Teddy Roosevelt once said:
"We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill."

Coming back to bite us?

Mark Murphy over at Opiate of the Masses has an interesting post on an ouburst from his TA a little while ago:
Last week, I was sitting in my stats discussion and, out of nowhere, my uber-eccentric TA launched into an anti-Bush: “The probability of A given B is… hey wait, is that lying weasel Bush speaking tonight? I really hate that guy. I’ll have to make sure I’m not home during his speech, because I’ll start throwing stuff at the wall. I’m usually a pretty calm guy, but the sight of his face makes my blood boil.”
I have encountered myriad instances of attempted indoctrination at this university. The common trait of the ones I find most reprehensible are the ones that are hidden. Professors often attempt to pass off their opinions as fact – often to impressionable, intellectually undeveloped freshmen. If a professor decides, “You know what, I don’t like Bush. I’m going to let the class know”, at least he or she is being honest. If the lines are drawn in the sand ahead of time, students at least know where their professor stands. On the other hand, you’ll get instructors like political science professor Dr. Ben Marquez who project an outwardly neutral stance while also implying that President Bush would sell all of our nation’s black people to space aliens in return for a sufficient amount of gold. Yes, true story.

Political indoctrination is unquestionably a problem in universities. And conservatives have been right to call it out. I wonder, however, to what degree it's coming back to bite us - professors now mask their ideology, preferring to make insinuations rather than simply let people know where they stand. It isn't hard, by using the right textbooks, to take a stand one way or the other on a topic without actually saying anything yourself.

And conservatives are partly to blame for having extremely thin skins on some things. A friend of mine was complaining the other day that she was wasting a whole day in a sociology class talking about "intelligent design" - the class was on evolution. There are certain classes where conservatives simply need to shut up about liberal bias - we shouldn't have to waste a day talking about creationism when the class is on evolution. (This cuts both ways, of course, and sometimes conservatives don't realize it - economics is an inherently conservative class.)

So, we're right to call out professors who are biased, if they're using grades to punish students who don't agree with them. But if they're simply saying "I don't like X," it may be in our best interest to let it go.


I'd only add, "especially in bars."


Old Glory In a Toilet? Thanks, Madison

The American Flag was symbolically thrust into a toilet onstage and plunged repeatedly.

That's right. Sounds crazy, but it was just another day at Madison, Wisconsin's Overture Center.

The show, RISE, followed a single actress, Shyamala Moorty, in her quest to define herself and her heritage as an Indian-American. I had just tagged along with a friend, and I didn't expect much. But the drama pushed the envelope too far; there are other ways out there to express political speech about one's country.

Shoving the Stars and Stripes into a toilet bowl in front of an audience and subsequently plunging away seems designed only to provoke. Veterans fought and died for the right to free speech - Moorty could have recognized that by being more tactful and tasteful in her performance.

Too bad publications like The Progressive love defending this sort of "art."

Demeaning Old Glory is hard to defend. Even liberal SCOTUS Justice Stevens dissented in Texas v. Johnson, the case that upheld flag burning, writing:
"That tarnish is not justified by the trivial burden on free expression occasioned by requiring that an available, alternative mode of expression -- including uttering words critical of the flag,...be employed."

Chewbacca: "I got married to a Texan lady."

Looks like Chewie is coming to America thanks to his Texan wife.

Aaaoourrrrghhh! May the force be with him - he's gonna need it with that weird attempt at a fro.

Campus Left: Let's Jack Up Student Taxes

Labor activists here at the UW want students to pay higher student fees. Why? To fund a blanket "living wage" for all employees of student-funded auxiliary services, like the student union buildings.

An article in today's Badger Herald dissects the referendum on the ballot this week in an on-line student government election.

Here's the problem with this misguided effort: many of the employees of the auxiliaries, like the folks who dish out ice cream at Memorial Union, are undergraduate students. They don't need a "living wage" for a part-time job. The Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) - surprise, surprise - thinks otherwise. *See their silly list of demands.

Student government already imposes a minimum wage of over $8.00 per hour for any student-fee funded student hourly - and there are automatic yearly increases to boot. In other words, student employees are probably making more than in a comparable private sector position.

Bottom line: VOTE NO To vote: www.vote.asm.wisc.edu


Bill Gates on Campus

Mr. Microsoft himself will be here in Madison.

Four Papers, One Press

Interesting. UW-Madison has four student papers. Each likes to portray itself as independent in its own way; every publication has a persona.

But ultimately, there's a bottleneck.

All four papers, as shown on their respective pallets here, are printed on the presses at Capital Newspapers.

So are the Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Times, and The Chicago Tribune.

Conservative Papers "Mysteriously" Vanishing

Word has it that today's issue of The Mendota Beacon is being ripped off en masse from some of its campus distribution locations, including one incident in the Social Sciences building which prompted a call to one of the paper's editors.

Usually it's just limited to someone putting other papers strategically over the pile in the Beacon racks. This "if you can't beat 'em, steal 'em" tactic, however, is just despicable.

Yet another example of the tolerant and enlightened level of discourse here in Madison.

A small conflict of interests

As I've mentioned, ASM is holding elections for the next few days. One of the contested spots is for SSFC - the group that controls (or, rather, doesn't really control) segregated fee money.

Well, one of the candidates - Kellie Sanders, specifically - is also the Board Chair for WISPIRG's budget. Now, technically, she won't be able to vote on her own group's budget. But this does illuminate the general rule - there is no reason at all to constrain seg fee funding. Indeed, the rules of the process are structured to give away as much money as possible:
No student service allocated Student Fees in one fiscal year may be deleted from the SSFC budget for the next fiscal year except (i) internal disbandment of the service, (ii) failure to apply, or (iii) by the SSFC, acting pursuant to such exceptions as may be established in the Bylaws only for the purpose of bringing the ASM Student Fee process or the service in question into compliance with federal or state law or University System policy.

That's right kids - once you're on the gravy train, it just keeps rolling. And everyone knows the old tactic - find your ideal budget, then ask for 50% more, to make sure you get all the pork you can handle.

Beacon Shines On

Edition 3 of the Mendota Beacon just hit campus news racks from Humanities to Ag Hall.

Issues tackled this week: abortion, the Miers nomination, and spending student fees on sex toys.



It's a pivotal moment for the conservative movement at the UW. In tomorrow's edition of the Beacon, our Ed board will endorse a fine gentleman named Sol for ASM Freshman Representative. The race has been pretty well dissected by Bob - most races only feature one conservative, so the choice is clear (and extra kudos to frequent commenter Jenna, who is in the runnings herself, and shouldn't be so modest about it on her blog).

So why is it important that the Beacon is backing Sol? There are two conservatives running for the Frosh seat in question. The College Republicans have backed Sol's opponent Tim. The theory held by both the Beacon and the CRs is that it's best to put all of our support behind one candidate, rather than split the vote between two and run the risk of having both of them lose.

So the battle is on: Mendota Beacon versus College Republicans, for the future of ASM. Bring 'em on.

Iraq Unplugged

Sykes posts on the MSM's willingness to demoralize our troops. The column he cites makes an excellent point about the drip drop effect of twisted headlines on the next generation:
"To subdue hostile cities such as Fallujah, our country needs stout infantrymen such as the Marines and the paratroopers. Fed a steady diet of stories about bad conduct and deprived of models of valor, the youth of America will eventually decline to serve. As the poet Pindar wrote: "Unsung, the noblest deed will die."
And there are some noble deeds being done in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq - regardless of why we went to Iraq initially. We are there. And we are trying to give the inhabitants greater political freedom now that we are there.

I caught up with a friend of mine this summer when he was back on a short leave from service in Mosul, Iraq. His harrowing stories of driving a 6-wheel truck in a convoy through the city in broad daylight were revealing. They also illuminated the nature of the insurgency - the Honda trucks loaded with explosives racing suicidally toward the convoy painted a pretty clear picture. He is proud of his service and feels it is making a difference.

The political opportunists from the Iraq War who use their service as a weapon to bash political policy are not the only voices that should be paid heed. It is the invidual stories, the genuine soldiers' words, that tell the true story of military service in Iraq. It's Iraq unplugged. There's no middle man distorting the realities of events. And that's what more young people need to hear.

Talking About Abortion

Righting Wisconsin talks about the impact of terminology in the abortion debate. On campus, it seems the best way to reach out with an anti-abortion message is to use the most sanitized, unemotional terms possible. A loss of "human capital" rather than "baby killing" is the approach I took in tomorrow's Mendota Beacon.

This tack doesn't quite hit like the statistic of over 45 million abortions in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. If all of those fetuses were, in the final tally, indeed people, imagine the holocaust we've permitted in our own lifetimes.


Octopus Beer Bong

Nothing quite like a Wisconsin football tailgate.

Click on the pic to see more over at Nate's albums.

Now...if we could've just BEAT NORTHWESTERN! Grrr!

Global Warming Has Nothing to Do With It

Kevin over at the Badger Blog Alliance reports on a Chinese team's claim that Mount Everest shrank.

Now, this is most likely a ploy by the Chinese to rev up some nationalistic energy among the populace, much like the country's venture into space. There's not much else that can sustain the CCP's grip on political power.

But more importantly, the science in the BBC article on the report seems royally flawed:
"But now global warming is melting glaciers on the world's highest mountain, apparently causing it to shrink."
My training in glaciology - yes, I have some - says this is absolute bunk. Under the principles of isostatic rebound, land rises in elevation relative to sea level when extremely dense ice masses, i.e. glaciers, retreat from an area. The rebound is also fastest initially, decreasing in rate over time as the rebound progresses. So as glaciers on Everest, like the Khumbu, waste away, the mountain should rise quickly right away, although the overall scale of increase would likely be miniscule.

Hudson Bay is a great example of this process. The Laurentide Ice Sheet originated over the center of the body of water, depressing the land due to the sheer weight of miles-deep ice. It continues to rise today, reducing the depth of Hudson Bay over time.

The only other possibility is that the tectonic convergence between the Indian subcontinent and Asia proper has altered in some way, as that plate boundary relationship has driven increases in the height of Himalayan peaks.

At any rate, global warming, again, has absolutely nothing to do with it.

New blog

The last post reminds me, I should throw up a link to Ben Broeren's Free Press. He's a smart guy, in spite of the fact that he's a Dem, and I'll also vouch for his musical taste. Don't let the LiveJournal account fool you - check him out.

War cry

Thanks to one of my best liberal friends has sent me one of the best articles I've read in a dang long time. Read:
As Parties Grow Weary, Time for an Insurgency
David Brooks
Published: October 9, 2005

After a while, you get sick of the DeLays of the right and the Deans of the left. After a while, you tire of the current Republicans, who lack a coherent governing philosophy, and the current Democrats, who are completely bereft of ideas. After a while you begin to wonder: Did I really get engaged in politics so I could spend months arguing about the confirmation of Harriet Miers, the John Major of American jurisprudence?

And when you begin thinking this way, you find yourself emotionally disengaging from the exhausted clans that dominate the present. You find yourself going back to basics and considering the fundamental questions: What visions originally excited me about politics and government? If it were completely up to me, where would I plant my flag?

Here's where I would plant mine.

I believe in the lost tradition of American politics, the tradition of Hamilton, Lincoln and the Bull Moose. In other words, I believe that social mobility is the core of the American experience. I believe that society should be structured so that as many boys and girls as possible can work, and rise the way young Hamilton and Lincoln did.

If something is going to make American society more fluid and dynamic, then I am for that thing. That's why I love globalization, even while I am aware of its costs. I love the fact that American businesses are going to be improved via competition with Chinese and Indian rivals. I love the fact that to compete we are going to have to reform our lobbyist-written tax code into something flatter and fairer. I love the fact we'll have to make health insurance competitive and portable, so workers can move and companies can thrive.

I can't believe people want to shield America behind the walls of "fair trade agreements." I can't believe some people think we're going to be overrun by those hustling Asians. Americans are the hardest-working people on earth and the most mobile. American manufacturing output is twice China's and it's growing at 4 percent a year.

China isn't going to bury us. It's going to make us better and richer; it's going to open more opportunities than it closes.

Like Alexander Hamilton, I love the dynamism of capitalism. And like Alexander Hamilton, that doesn't mean I hate government. I love government when it lifts people up to compete. I hate government only when it stifles competition and coddles. I hated the old welfare system, which pushed its victims away from work. I love welfare reform, which encourages work. I hate government that directs ever more money to the affluent elderly, but I would love a government that gave poor children savings accounts at birth, which would encourage them to think about the future and understand that their destiny is in their own hands.

I hate the forces of the education establishment, which protects its system even though after years and billions spent, African-American students still graduate from high schools at academic levels four years behind their white peers. But I love the charter schools and the forces of reform.

I can't believe that over the past 10 years our leaders have done nothing to reduce the growing costs of entitlements. Our preparations for Katrina look like models of efficiency compared to our preparations for the hurricane of debt that is ineluctably gathering force in front of us. I can't believe we haven't learned from Western Europe's plight, as it slowly stagnates under the weight of its own welfare costs.

I know, as Theodore Roosevelt observed, that every new social arrangement creates its own sin and stratifications. I know that as the information age matures we are dividing between the educated class and noneducated class, between families at the top of the cultural capital scale, which tend to be intact, and families at the bottom, which are more likely to be broken.

I know, having learned it from Lincoln and Roosevelt, that individual initiative should always be tied to national union. I know we need a national service program to bind our segmented youth through citizenship. I know we need to protect the natural heritage that defines us. I know America has to persevere in its exceptional mission to promote freedom, and the effort to promote democracy in the Arab world is one of the most difficult and noble endeavors any great power has undertaken.

When I cut myself loose from the push and shove of today's weary political titans, and go back to basics, I find myself strangely invigorated.

It's time for an insurrection.

Time for an insurrection indeed. And I suspect a large number of "liberals" and "conservatives" alike will be manning the barricades together when the time comes.

Gettin' to be fall

It's getting to be autumn... the leaves change colors, but Badger pride never pales.

Keep on rockin' in the free world

Or, rather, rocking for a free world. Confirming that Publius is one of the best bloggers out there, he has a fascinating post on rock 'n' roll as a weapon in the war on terrorism:
Every time the terrorists threaten to blow them up, the youthful band comes up with a new song, calling it their next new ’smart bomb’ aimed at the Islamists. They are literally defying death by singing songs condemning terrorism. And they just keep doing it.

There are signs that this group is changing Indonesia, a nation that is full of intelligent, interesting young people who have no interest in Jihad, but who do run into the small minority of them, given their geography and religion. To this broadest swath of Indonesia, the rock band’s music is some of the most popular on the entire 213-million-strong archipelago nation. There’s not a thing the Islamofascists can do about it. The band has gotten too big.

Pepsi and rock 'n' roll brought down the Soviet Union. I think this is something that a lot of conservatives overlook when talking about, ironically, how to build a democratic culture in places like Indonesia. Democracy, and liberalism (in the most classical sense), are often better served by McDonald's than by government programs.

Until the Cows Come Home

Looks like the cows are coming home. Next summer, Madison will host Cows on Parade, the street art project that originated in Zurich, Switzerland where 100 pound cow sculptures adorn the city streets and get decorated by artists.

I happened to be in Chicago several years back when the event hit. The outlandish designs were fun to peruse: statue of liberty cow, astronaut cow, bling bling cow, etc.

Now, when the big fiberglass Holsteins hit next year, there are a few mandatory home state specific entries that I'm going to call right now:

+ Hodag Cow - green with scales and sharp teeth, mythical looking

+ Bucky Cow - chest thrust forward, red and white striped shirt, grimace on face

+ Packer Cow - green, gold, cheesehead, Ice Bowl tickets in hoof

+ Deer Hunter Cow - blaze orange apparel, sitting in tree stand, brewski in hand

+ Brat Cow - two cows between a Sheboygan hard roll with Dusseldorf mustard and pickles

+ Brew Cow - spotted (New Glarus) bull (Schlitz) in canoe (Leinie's) with blue ribbon (Pabst)

+ WEAC Cow - painted gold, statue of Jim Doyle nearby on knees, paying homage

+ Friday Night Fish Fry Cow - Cow with big smile, sigh of relief on face

+ Polka Cow - accordian in front hooves, green hat with feather, lederhosen

Any more ideas?

More Miers Prayer

Amen, Wigderson.


Green with Envy?

Hah - made you look.

Whaddya think?

Go green?
commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Update: oops. That was me fiddling with the comments. We just got our first comment spam! The weird thing is, it was on the Blogger comments, not the Haloscan comments. I wonder how that happened...

Cows and Dragons

It appears as if there are some more nefarious implications of sharing technologies at Wisconsin's World Dairy Expo. This from The Daily Cardinal:
"Wang Kai, a Shanghai businessman, explained how important the gathering was to the spread of information and technology. 'We want to look for more opportunities in the United States. There is a lot of new technology that we would like to introduce in China,' he said."
Translate that as: "China wants to leap forward economically by ignoring intellectual property rights and without doing research itself ."

No Holds Barred

While we pride ourselves on maintaining an interesting blend of old school and Christian conservatism, neo-conservative foreign policy, and libertarianism here on the Island, we realize some may enjoy their red meat done a bit more rare. Look no further. For unabashed Bush II-style conservative commentary, head over to the fledgling Madison Freedom Fighter.

Another point of light in the Beacon constellation of blogs, The Madison Freedom Fighter promises to "focus on liberal hypocracy" in Madison. And while we're not sure what "hypocracy" is, we're sure you'll enjoy the site's content, even if the author isn't a copy editor. Check it out.