5.31.2005

ROTC victory

Lakeshore Laments notes today that UW-Stout's president has reversed an earlier decision to block the ROTC from setting up shop on campus.

The anti-military left will continue their fight to keep ROTC off campuses, and to kick them out of places they are already, but it's heartening to see them lose. It's amazingly ironic that they're the same ones who clamor for "free speech" and whinge when accused of lacking patriotism.

Fond farewell

Sanity in Mad City is no more. The blog, that is. We're still holding out some sliver of hope for the actual city.

Sanity was a great blog, though, and I'll be sad to see it go.

So are they taking a cue from us?

Ah, the Dutch. Land of the Hague and legal pot. Apparently, though, they're learning a lesson from the great state of Wisconsin:
Unlike France's referendum, which was binding on the government, the Dutch vote is advisory. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's governing party said Monday it will accept a "no" verdict only if turnout reaches at least 30 percent and if 55 percent of those who vote reject the charter.

Sound familiar?

5.30.2005

Madison celebrates

I was out of town for Memorial Day weekend, so I missed the celebration. Unfortunately, the idiots in this town are more than willing to open their mouths and prove it, while the smart ones tend to keep quiet. But I promise we're not all this way!

5.26.2005

Taking back Madison, pt 1

Johnny GOP and the Way-Outs

After Tuesday's successful "no" votes to the school referenda, I'm feeling pretty confident. It was an issue conservatives should easily have lost. Not only could the massively powerful teachers union painted us as unfeeling louts who didn't care for the children, the ballots were almost printed with the wrong wording (well, actually were printed wrong, but then fixed at the last minute)! So if we can win on this kind of referendum, would it be possible for conservatives to take hold of Madison politics? Okay, that might be a stretch, but I'm going to start on a series of essays to try to think about ways in which Madison conservatives might go about getting our message out.

Today's essay mostly comes out of a discussion I had the other day with a friend. So, let's talk about Johnny GOP and the Way-Outs. No, it isn't a 1950s band, but my way of saying: let's dig up some totally left-field candidates and run them. Kami Eshraghi's candidacy could probably be a good model. (Background - he ran for an aldermanic seat a few months ago.) Kami was a weird guy. I mean really - his name was Kami. Yes, it sounds very similar to commie. Don't get me wrong - he's a great guy, but he is a bit odd. So why do I like him so much as a candidate?

First, Kami had quite a good message. He was against the smoking ban, and promised to work against it should he have been elected. That issue could have worked well to his advantage. He also had the right take on lowering off-campus housing prices.

Kami also had good connections. Or so I'd expect - as the owner of a bar across from the capital, I'd expect he knows people who know people. Or perhaps he knows the latter group of people. But if you run a bar, you should have connections. He could - and should - have used these.

Finally, Kami was a bar owner! How can you get better promotion than that?

Ultimately, Kami didn't win because he didn't do a lick of campaigning. Nada. Zilch. Zero. But here's the thing - I think he could have done well. He had the right personality to connect with the student demographic he would have been serving. Nobody knew who the deuce he was, so they didn't go for him.

The lesson here is this: we can't run the same kind of conservatives in Mad-town as we can run, in, say, Rhinelander. Doesn't work. This is my beachhead strategy: get in fiscal conservatives and libertarian-leaning conservatives. They may have quirky personalities, and if so, all the better. It will make them more attractive to the media, and they'll be able to get their message out. But getting the right kind of candidate will be one step in getting a more conservative message in Madison.

In the next parts, look forward to:
--issues to use
--Party backing

5.25.2005

Declaring victory

The referendum, despite flaws with the ballot wording (which was fixed, if I understand correctly, at a very high cost), has voted "no" on questions one and two! The Capital Times comes out with an expectedly slanted story, but our WSJ does a better job. Owen at Boots and Sabers has the breakdown.

I'm declaring this a major victory for conservatives in Madison. Given the bent of this city generally, and the power of the teachers' union, each of the referendum questions should have passed easily. But they didn't. The conservatives, despite being severely outspent by a well-oiled teachers' union, was able to get its message out. But more than that, even people here sometimes realize that more taxes are bad. At the factory I'm working at over the summer, one of the guys - who is what I call a standard Madison "bland leftist"* - said he was glad at the "no" votes. He knew he didn't want to pay more in taxes, and he'd had enough.

The referendum defeat is coupled, fantastically enough, with the rejection of a few other taxes.

What conservatives in Madison need to do now is work to parlay this success into a firmer message to give to the community: "You've said no to higher taxes now, even though the unions have said we need them. Let's keep moving this forward; let's keep re-evaluating why we pay taxes, and why we should have to."

*as opposed to the "crazy leftists" who do things like support the campus communists, these "bland leftists" have just absorbed the atmosphere and take whatever the standard leftist position is on any issue.

Update: here's a very handy map of the votes. Is the island shrinking?

5.23.2005

Somebody's figuring things out

Althouse links to a very interesting Daily Kos post about the politics of the Democratic Party. Once you get past the standard "American Taliban" rantishness, it's a post that shows a great deal of depth. Somebody in Dem circles is figuring out what they need to do to get back to having a cogent message. If it catches on, it could make the 2008 race much more interesting.

dealing with the Uzbeks

The small font was getting a bit hard on the eyes - let's try this size.

Tech Central Station's Andrew Morse has a very interesting article about Uzbekistan, and the issues it raises. It mostly deals with comparisons between Iran in 1979 and Uzbekistan 2005, which I think points to a broader question about the validity of GW's doctrine of pushing for democracy (which I've written about before). Morse seems to see it as very possible to continue to support democracy, even given the two parties involved in this conflict:
Though there is some legitimacy to this concern, casting 2005 Uzbekistan in the role of 1979 Iran is an error. First, though Uzbekistan has been a meaningful ally in the War on Terror, Uzbekistan cannot be considered a staunch, long-term ally of the United States. Over the past several years, Uzbekistan has actively moved away from the West, towards an alliance of authoritarian states. Second, not all revolutions in Islamic countries are alike. The uprising in Uzbekistan is part of a larger international trend. The Iranian revolution was not. It inspired no imitators. No government outside of Iran has been toppled by a revolution based on the Iranian model. Uzbeks, on the other hand, have been observing a string of revolutions in countries with which they share a common history.

But, as they say, read the whole thing.

On balance

Via Instapundit, an excellent piece by Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom. It echoes many of the thoughts I've had about the Newsweek/Koran debacle, and cuts, I think, to the heart of the issue of the relationship between the MSM and blogs.

The big picture, for me, is that blogs should be pushing the media to do a better job of being evenhanded, a la Chrenkoff and his "Good News from Iraq" section. A press that truly represents the whole picture is what matters: today's MSM only seems able to present a knee-jerk reaction against whatever doesn't fit in with its own ideological bias. Jeff puts it well:
And while John is right that the new media should be careful not to overplay its hand, at the same time I think it important that John try harder to understand—and account for—the impulse behind this willingness on the part of rightwing pundits to leap to certain conclusions about an adversarial press that has turned what was supposed to be a structurally adversarial relationship with those in power into one that more often than not resembles an adversarial relationship driven by a fundamental partisan ideological disconnect.

5.22.2005

Machinations

Because I've studied piles of Soviet Russian history, part of this post made me raise an eyebrow:
One Trustee who clearly had some reservations about “Gold” as a nickname was John Stollenwerk. He wrote an e-mail to a friend saying that the decision was a bad one, and needed to be “rescended.”

The friend leaked it to talk show host Mark Belling, who read it on the air on Monday afternoon, May 9.

The following morning Stollenwerk responded with another e-mail — sent to Mark Belling and to Marquette’s Development Office, “clarifying” his position.
Mark,


I am traveling this week but wanted to take a moment to respond. [. . .] shared a private correspondence of ours in which I expressed a private opinion. He deemed to make it public to embarrass me and Marquette University. With friends like that who needs enemies? I fully support and voted yes on the Marquette University Board of Trustees’ decision to:

1. Not go back to the name “Warriors”
2. Change the name from “Golden Eagles”
3. Change the name to “Gold”

In my private comments to Mr. [. . .], I stated: “I hope they rescind this decision regarding ‘Gold’ . . .” in reference to my concern with the process wherein we did not engage all interested parties in this name change. I believe that we should make every effort to do this. The name to me is not nearly as important as the process which should clearly reflect our Jesuit Catholic values.

Sincerely,
John J. Stollenwerk
President and CEO
Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Note the “logic” here. Stollenwerk “supports” (note present tense) the decisions of the Board of Trustees — including the change to “Gold.” And when he said the decision should be “rescinded” he didn’t mean it should be rescinded, he was just expressing a “concern” about how the process “did not engage all interested parties.”

It's an unfair comparison, but I'm a history major (among other things), so I'll take the liberty of pointing out that the grand ol' USSR, after Stalin came to power, created a rule that allowed for internal Party discussion, but provided that the Party must present a unified front once a decision had been made.

I suspect that a similar mentality is present here. The naming committee was obviously facing tremendous criticism at the time this e-mail came out. If the committee showed any fractures, it would have absolutely imploded - even though it essentially did anyway. The real pity here is that Stollenwerk had the opportunity to be something of a (to continue my USSR theme) Gorbachev, and take a position within the committee as the "voice of the people". If he had been smarter about this politically, he could have pushed for these e-mails to be made public, and thus been seen as a leader who was truly in touch with what the student body wanted. Instead he's trying to play it both ways, and that never works.

More referenda

Since I've covered Racine's referendum about school costs, why not mention Madison's? Yes, this Tuesday, we'll be having a vote ourselves. Here's what our College Republicans are saying:
This Tuesday, the city of Madison is holding a special election on referenda that will increase the property tax burden on the average taxpayer $190 per
year. Those of you that are still in Madison, please get out and vote no on all
3 questions on the ballot. Here are some links for more information about the election-
http://getreal.homestead.com/
http://www.danegop.org/
If you need to find out your polling location, visit the city clerk's website at
http://www.ci.madison.wi.us/Clerk/election.html

Also, there will be a rally (of course!) on Tuesday. If you're interested in waving signs and whatnot, come on by! We'll be over University Avenue, on the bridge that connects Humanities and Vilas on Tuesday, from 5 to 6:30. Bring your own signs, or just yourself.

I'll be keeping an eye on the results. Certainly, question two is asking a for a disgustingly large amount of money, and anyone paying attention should see that. For more on this, head on over to the Badger Blog Alliance - they're having a good ol' time with this, especially problems with absentee ballots.



5.19.2005

Do they really think we're that dumb?

Frank Lassee links to a piece in the Racine Journal Times today about a referendum they're trying to hold there to give the school more money. I don't know anything about the situation there, so I can't say if it's right or wrong to give the school more money. I suspect it wouldn't help, but that's neither here nor there. Here's the thing, though:
On April 5th, thousand of voters headed to the polls. Among their various decisions was to reject Racine Unified's referendum request. These voters have since been vilified as greedy and or ignorant. The results of a fairly held referendum should be disregarded and new referenda should be held until the "correct" decision is made by voters.

Implied in that, of course, is the idea that lefties think most Americans are dumb as rocks. You just pick up the vibe from them. I've mentioned it before. But here's another example: a friend of mine truly believes that one could make a pretty good go of a presidential campaign based purely off of a platform of banning infomercials and allowing breasts to be shown after midnight (like in Britain). Never mind that the first half of this is based entirely on the "they have too darn much money anyway" theory, which obviously rubs me wrong. The cynicism of this is crazy. Whether the left believes it or not, people are generally intelligent, and generally can recognize condescension when they see it.

Which reminds me of Dean's List of Reasons You're an Unpatriotic Butthead:
#5) You think the average American voter is a stupid, unsophisticated idiot who just doesn't know what's good for him.


(Actually, I don't know that this is necessarily unpatriotic, but it is awfully condescending and really not true at all.)

5.18.2005

Thanks for the liberal guilt trip, but you're still wrong

Susan Lampert Smith has a piece in the Wisconsin State Journal about possible legal changes that would make panhandling harder on State Street:
Basically, the new rules would sharply limit where people can panhandle, banning them from doing it near doorways, ATM machines and intersections anywhere in the city. Verveer says he tried to cover situations where people might have their wallets out and feel vulnerable.

I'm all for that. Panhandlers are a pain in the neck - especially for those (like me) who live in apartments on State Street.

Oh, wait, that's mean of me. It turns out I'm just an evil bourgeois who doesn't like being reminded that poor people exist:
With the issue coming up, it's time for a gut-check about your own feelings. Here's my experience:

On a warm April day, I shopped State Street with two teenagers on a mission to find flat shoes embellished with sequins they saw in a catalog. We found them, at Urban Outfitters and at Art Gecko.

We were accosted about four times between the 400 and 600 blocks of State Street. I wasn't bothered, but I did wonder whether we should feel guilty shopping for more shoes when some people have only the ratty pair that they're wearing.

Yes! Buy the shoes, for goodness sake! We have this wonderful thing called market capitalism, under which people can work only if other people buy their stuff. If the bums panhandlers didn't know they'd be able to make reasonable money off of the gullible idiots who actually believe they're trying to get a bus somewhere, they might actually have to do something constructive. At least play an instrument or something! I can totally support the group of kids - none of them look much over 25, anyway - who wander into town for the summer: they look like punks, but they generally have somebody playing a guitar. On the other hand, the most annoying panhandler is the one who has a really god-aweful schtick: "Spare change for..." and then he makes up a cause ("defoliant - Bush needs to go", or other insanely stupid puns).

Really, though, I've declared a truce with the panhandlers. Stupid Pun Guy knows not to talk to me - I've scowled at him too many times. I do have a favorite, though. During the winter, I wore my late grandfather's WWII-era trenchcoat (man, did I look like a hippie), and he took a liking to it. Every time I'd walk past him, he'd say something about the coat. I don't give him money, but I'll give him a smile any day.

5.17.2005

Best. Ever.

Jane Galt has an absolutely stellar rant today. Really, go read the whole thing, but I'll excerpt a bit here:
By treating the poor as if they are not choosing their diets in any meaningful sense, people license themselves to start making choices for the poor. John doesn't realise that his hamburger is killing him, so I'll just take it away and give him a nice sliced turkey sandwich and an apple and if Johnny is very, very good Mommy will take him to the zoo later. I've never understood how the belief that a large swathe of our society is in need of a nanny is reconciled, ideologically speaking, with the belief that we should do everything we can to encourage those people to vote. But that's another rant.

5.16.2005

Theory, applied

Readers may know that I'm a big fan of the "Babe Theory of Politics". So, I'm wondering if it can somehow be applied to Indy racing.

And she's even from Beloit!

(h/t Badger Blog Alliance)

Disappointing

Watching the news today, my roommate declared, "This is the trouble with saying we're fighting for democracy."

A warning: there are going to be lots of italics. I'm worked up.

Naturally, I have problems with that. The economy in Uzbekistan has been going to hell for years, and that tends to have bad side effects. Coupled with the fact that the Uzbeks are saddled with one of the nastiest Soviet dictators since Ceausescu, and this kind of thing can go real bad, real fast. So blaming Bush may be disingenuous. But I'll let this one pass, because I do believe that the Bush "let's do it for democracy" ambition played a role here.

Here's another problem: this is why fighting for democracy is good, actually. You see, the strategy worked again here, which just goes to show you that even lefties who tend to understand the big idea don't really get it. The idea was that by going into Iraq, we'd inspire other people to work for their own independence. We didn't promise it would always be safe. We didn't promise it would always be a big party with lots of flowers and babes. We did know that people want democracy - or at least, they want a less ruthless dictator. So we promised people that they could do it themselves. That continues to be the promise of Afghanistan and Iraq: "hey, look, you can do this too. Democracy works. Sometimes you have to stand up for it, but it works."

Was Tiananmen Square a disaster in 1989? Yes, absolutely. But when - perhaps if - China becomes a democracy, they'll look back on those protestors as heroes. Will this week go down as Uzbekistan's Tiananmen? I hope not, because I hope everything that's going on now will accomplish something constructive, and will accomplish it very soon.

Another thing the roommate said: "This is going to be all over al-Jazeera." Yes, yes it will. But what matters is what reading Jazeera's audience has. I suspect it will be more along the lines of hope for the Uzbeks, rather than fear that their own governments will quash any nascent democratic activities. There are simply too many counter-examples. This "fighting for democracy" thing works too well, and people like democracy too much.

Then there's this: the roommate's other conclusion was that we should oust Karimov and "at least install a nicer puppet". And that's when I saw what was really going on. I don't think the left cares much for democracy - they care for stability, and they're very cynical about it. Say what you will, but the Bush Doctrine isn't about cynicism. Democracy can't be used cynically. Installing a "nicer puppet" would prove that we don't mean it when we say we want democracy.

We agreed on one thing - Bush needs to (in the rommate's words) "tell Karimov where he gets off". And we need to close the bases we have in Uzbekistan posthaste. Now. We have bases in Afghanistan now, so cut the Uzbeks off until they shape the hell up.

5.15.2005

I like...

I have a funny relationship with technology. It often doesn't like me. But for all that, I wouldn't change our relationship for the world. Especially my laptop.

For a while, it acted as a portable jukebox - I could listen to it as I carried it around, even it the screen was closed. Then, my computer changed its mind - every time I closed it up, it stopped playing music.

But today, my lovely laptop changed its mind again. The music plays on. Thank you, computer.

Fascinating New Thing*

So, everybody's been interested in the Huffington blog. (No link - it's that deadly dull.) But I think I've figured out why she's doing it - power. Obviously, she's realized that there is power in blogs, and she wants to tap into it. But that, I think, is only part of it.

The other part is that prominent bloggers (like Glenn Reynolds and LaShawn Barber) are increasingly getting MSM coverage, especially on the 240-hr news networks. Just recently, she joined Glenn on CNN's "Reliable Sources". First of all, reliable sources? Come on. But more importantly, she clearly isn't the caliber of blogger Glenn is. So why the TV spot? I think it shows that the MSMstill have a tin ear for blogs - they can't tell good from bad.

Or maybe it's just that she's the new toy - everybody wants to play with her now, but when it continues to be apparent just how aweful the blog is, people will tune her out. Hopefully that's what's going on, but I worry that it isn't, and Huffington will have another source of "credibility" with the MSM. And really, just based on her voice, that's an unpleasant thought.



*

5.10.2005

More with the finals-blogging

Reading through a list of things that don't exist, I found "the essay I have due in tomorrow". In my case, this is horribly true.

Oh dear.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thanks, and congrats!

Vodkapundit has an incredible essay about blogging and politics. So I'd just like to say, to the guy who gave me my first big link: Thanks. Do keep on fighting, and even if things don't look like they're changing, maybe they are, even if just a little.

And congratulations!

The chairman dances

So, this weekend has been extremely unproductive. But it did give me a story last Friday, so (belatedly) I thought I'd share -

I went to see the Luke Zimmerman show, which was also a CD release party for Madison artists Burr Settles and Spin Spin Coupling. Spin Spin rocked hard. Every song was a rock anthem that more than filled the (albeit small) club. If you see one band in Madison, see these guys. Zimmerman was also great - a very well done mix of rockabilly, country, and Dylan-esque folk.

But. There was one guy in the audience. He came in in a suit and began drinking something - not sure what, but it was hard liquor, and it was straight. He was really sloshed by the time Burr Settles went on, but he really rocked out to Spin Spin Coupling. The thing was, every time I looked at him, I thought, "This guy looks like he should be a minor official in Khrushevite Russia. Running a province in the East or something."

I got a kick out of that.

5.08.2005

Er, ahem

I'm playing with a new layout. I actually like it rather better, and it also isn't destroyed by the great trackback fiasco. So, enjoy...

Meanwhile, I'm pretending to study, but only kind of. I think I'll be posting on Monday, but it'll be spotty until next week probably.

added, moments later: yeah, I'm liking this. To heck with trackbacks... but it did give me an excuse to change the site layout, so all is not lost.

5.06.2005

Incidentally

Since adding a trackback feature (which I've yet to use, ironically), my blog layout got messed up. Anybody know how to fix that? Much obliged.

Odds, ends

Some could argue that I should be either studying or sleeping, but I've already studied, and screw sleeping anyway. If I can't pull crazy all-nighters in college, when can I? And I've got this weird itch to blog, anyway. [Two uses of "anyway" in three sentences? For shame! --ed. Yeah, yeah, whatever, I'm tired. Then shouldn't you be sleeping? --ed. Whatever, maaaan, don't harsh my buzz.]

As much as I want to blog, I don't really have anything. The Marquette "Gold" name change? That's covered. Though for the record, worst idea ever. So, for lack of other material, and to "celebrate" my last test in the reviled Environmental Conservatism, I'll post a bit from my notes. Topic: the [booming evil voice] evils of urbanization:

--cities have higher
+disparity
="1/2 of world's poor live in cities"
=but is this cause or outcome? she doesn't say [added - shouldn't we criticize non-cities too, if the other half of the world's poor live there?]

+material consumption increases! oh, woe is me!
=the Chinese are eating more eggs and meat! good heavens, the sky is falling
=can't see any way that the hogs will be fed - "what planet ecosystems will be sacrificed to feed them?"
=know what? f[whoa! this is a family blog - you can't say that here!--ed.] this
=people in cities eat more bushmeat
=those evil Americans eat a lot of meat! dang 'em all
=(now I've put an earphone in one ear to listen to music - band mae: song "summertime" - quite good!) [we'd like to thank Drew at Darn Floor for that.--ed.]

So, that's what I've learned this semester. How about you?



5.04.2005

Irony

Listening to music constantly sometimes makes for funny lyrical moments. Earlier this morning, while doing some reading for a paper I had to write, these lyrics came on: It's 3 a.m. and I wanna go to bed. It was, in fact, 3.01 a.m. when the song came on. I did want to go to bed. Anatoly Dobrynin is pretty cool, and his memoir is interesting, but I've had it up to my ears with academics at the moment. Which brings us to just now, when Paul Simon kindly reminded me that the nearer your destination, the more you're slip-sliding away. Come on, Steve, focus: just a week and a half, and then it's done!

5.02.2005

The weekend, and looking ahead

The Violent Femmes were fantastic on Friday night. Much rocking was done. The Mifflin Street Block Party was stupid, except insofar as it reinforced my massive superiority complex (seriously - this is the "intelligent" student body of Madison? I'll pass). Sunday was ridiculous: rain, snow, either sleet or hail (depending on whom you talk to), and sun in one day. But now, it is the week before finals, and I may have things to do. So blogging will be a bit light for the next week or two.