11.30.2005

What's Up At the Capitol


A Christmas Tree and a fight over the Marriage Amendment.

More Incredible Stupidity at UW-Eau Claire

First they ban Bible studies, and now this utterly misguided farce.

The UW-Eau Claire student government, in its infinite wisdom, decided to increase student fees to protest what it sees as inadequate state funding of professor salaries. The decision is absolute lunacy. At least there were a few objectors:
"I'm worried that the state Legislature will love the idea of having students pay more and the state pay less," said Jacob Boer, a UW-Eau Claire senior who was among eight students on the Student Senate to vote against the fee last month. Nineteen student senators voted for the fee, and one abstained. "It's just going to lead to further privatization."

Students systemwide are already paying fees up the wazoo on top of an ever-increasing tuition. Fees have gone up dramatically in the last decade. The Board of Regents finally takes action to address the problem, calling for an audit of seg. fees, and then the deluded philospher kings at Eau Claire pull this assinine stunt that can only have negative consequences for students down the road.

As someone who has worked intimately with the cesspool that is the student fee process, I can say quite definitively that this decision by students to burden fellow students with additional educational barriers is downright noxious.

Don't even think about it ASM; I will fight this thing to the death if it comes within 20 miles of the isthmus.

Top 10 Christmas Songs of the Modern Era

1. White Christmas - Frank Sinatra
2. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
3. Blue Christmas - Elvis
4. Frosty the Snowman - Burl Ives
5. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town - The Crystals
6. Little Drummer Boy - Neil Diamond
7. Silver Bells - Bing Crosby
8. Christmas All Over Again - Tom Petty
9. Here Comes Santa Claus - Alvin and the Chipmunks
10. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy

Dissent if you dare...

11.29.2005

Times I enjoy being a student

There are few better things to define the college experience, in my mind, than the following:

Sitting in the Memorial Union (which I really do enjoy), reading Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism as research for a paper, drinking a 16-oz Spaten Optimator, and listening to a "jazz jam". Pretty dang cool.

Alito blogging

In one of my (very) few forays into the very cool-looking but somewhat confusingly-laid-out Law School, I am watching a panel discussion on Alito's confirmation. Luckily, I get there early and snag a couple pieces of pizza - the room is packed, and it goes fast.

I'm also a bit confused - how to blog a panel that consists of six people, and not end up with a post that runs to multiple pages? Some of the most interesting legal minds of the university are here, and I'm sure they'll all have interesting things to say. So I'll try to be brief.

The first question is twofold: Should ideology or character be more important? What is your criteria for "judging the judges"?

Green goes first. "It doesn't matter what I think," she says, and says his confirmation will depend on his legal qualifications.

Schweber is leery of radicals who would overturn long-established precedent. Three conditios should be the Senate's power, radicalism, and certain personal beliefs. "Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think he should be [confirmed]… but I certainly would ask a lot of pointed questions."

"I kind of like radicals," says Downs. "In my opinion, the most important factor is judicial philosophy: it boils down to a judicial frame of mind – someone who’s not going to leap to conclusions... I also look for… the view of the role of the court in the political system." Alito "is very much bound by precedent. I predict that he’d be confirmed, and I’d say... he will be confirmed. If Dems want someone more to their liking, they need to start winning.” Touche.

Sharpless makes a joke - "I'm not a lawyer!" Then he goes on a bit of a rant. "One of the nice things about the longevity of the court is, it does free justices in theory from their political backgrounds." He says the process is a bit flawed: "The thing that bothers me is that we have to spend hours and hours listening to Ted Kennedy, who, last I checked, cheated his way through law school [and hearing very little from the judges]." He calls out Souter's immanent emanent (fixed on update) domain decision for very liberal reasons, too.

It comes to Althouse, and she seems a bit taken aback after Sharpless's rant - "um." If you read her blog, you probably know what she'll say: Dems "make law political. When that happens, when there is a liberal court, won’t believe that what the court does is law." She says the Dems need to talk about broader legal philosophy.

"The possibility of taking politics out of the confirmation process is doomed from the beginning," says Church. Politics should be brought in if a judge's decision could affect hot-button political issues. "The system has become too partisan," he says.

Now another two-parter: has the appointment process become too political? How has the failed Miers nomination affected Alito's chances?

Church is up again, and reiterates his point that the process - and the parties - are too partisan. He blames it on "well-funded interest groups". The Dems run too much risk of being obstructinist.

Althouse says, "Roberts was the perfect candidate. He was like the judge from central casting." She then lays out how clever a move politically the Alito nomination was: "Picking someone in that un-political way is the best political move."

Sharpless says he was troubled by the Miers nomination because of the lessons presidents will learn from it: "I think it’s going to continue this tradition... to choose appellate lawyers who’ve been federal prosecutors. I think that leads to a very narrow judicial mindset."

Downs says the message is "don't pick an intellectual" - but that it goes back to Bork, not just Miers. He derails the conversation by bringing up Lincoln's depression and bipolar condition - which leads others to point out that he was also gay. Suddenly there's a question of Nietzsche’s sexuality! But suddenly we get back to the point: Downs says that due to a lack of "sufficient underlying agreement" on American values, people can't agree on the court.

Schweber calls out an interesting Republican tactic - the "Southernization" of politics: Republicans pass "blatantly unconstitional" abortion laws, so that the courts strike them down, and the Republicans then promise their base that if elected, they'll get "good laws" passed. Interesting. He also brings up the idea - one that I share - that Miers was set up to fail, so that Alito would have an easier time.

Green follows up on that conspiracy theory. "I think Alito will stand more on his own."

And that be all. I'm not going to blog the questions, as this beast has gotten too long already.

Update: Welcome Althousians! Feel free to take a poke around - the world of UW-Madison is wild and wacky indeed.

Badgers Rule the Rink

Booyah!

11.28.2005

American vs. European Conservatives

As Gerard Alexander asks in a great Claremont Piece, 'What happened to Europe?' Indeed, where are the Thatchers and Kohls these days? Merkel, on close inspection, would not be up to Reagan's standards for a staunch ally.

Alexander gets right to the root of the differences:
"Most Americans have hard values while the majority of West Europeans have soft ones."
He also provides some nice color commentary on the state of conservatism across the pond:
All this reminds one of nothing so much as the 1970s. The spirit of Jimmy Carter exited the American political stage decades ago, but, like Jerry Lewis, it remains a matinee favorite on the other side of the Atlantic.
Definitely worth a read.

11.27.2005

Interesting

A lot has been made of a recent letter from Kent Woods, who is running for Assembly in the 33rd district, to various bloggers.

Me? I just think it's cool that a politician is paying attention to bloggers. Instead of ignoring the blogosphere completely, or - worse - calling us pajama-clad losers, here we have a politican who is actually paying attention to the bloggers. If nothing else, Woods should be congratulated for that.

A new consensus?

Since President Bush has just recently returned from China, where he discussed trade issues, now seems like a good time to think a little bit about Sino-American competition, and how it's likely to play out.

Firstly, I don't think a military conflict is anywhere near likely. American capabilities are such that a single carrier group can defend Taiwan pretty easily. Further, given that both countries have stores of nuclear weapons, military conflict seems highly unlikely.

Economic competition, on the other hand, is more likely. The strength of the Washington Consensus is questionable, leaving the field vulnerable to a resurgence of planned or semi-planned economic systems. Venezuela under Chavez is an example of this - although Latin America more broadly seems to be hesitant to re-tread the import-substitution industrialization path, much less the populist one, especially given its relatively recent memory of dictatorship.

Africa is even more open to Chinese market penetration. Vikash Yadav notes that the "Beijing Consensus" is on the rise in Africa, citing Howard French:
There is increasing talk of a rival "Beijing consensus," which emphasizes innovation and growth through a social-market economy while placing less emphasis on free markets and democracy. Officially, China denies that it is promoting a competing program.
...
"Many of these countries in economic crisis get advice from these institutions that just can't work," [Liu Jianchao, deputy spokesman of the Foreign Ministry] said. "China has a certain development experience that is relevant to these countries, and my advice is derived in part from Samuel Huntington, whose view is that democracy is a luxury."
[emphasis added]

This certainly seems to square with China's "official" policy toward Africa:
While visiting the African continent in 1996, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin put forward a five-point proposal on establishing a long-term, stable Sino-African relationship of stability and cooperation that is geared to the 21st century. The five points include sincere friendship, treating each other equally, unity and cooperation, common development and looking into the future. The proposal has become the foundation of China's policy toward Africa. The new Chinese leadership, carrying forward the cause of the old leadership and forging ahead into the future, adheres to China's policy toward Africa, and pays attention to strengthening unity and cooperation between the two.

The Christian Science Monitor notes that there are plenty of authoritarian thug-ocracies for China to show a "sincere friendship":
Last year, China stymied US efforts to levy sanctions on Sudan, which supplies nearly 5 percent of China's oil and where the US says genocide has occurred in its Darfur region. And as Zimbabwe becomes more isolated from the West, China has sent crates of T-shirts for ruling-party supporters who will vote in Thursday's parliamentary elections.

And of course, China is also gunning for the Internet - because suppressing its own people just isn't enough fun for the People's Republic.

The Washington Consensus isn't dead - CAFTA and other Latin American trade treaties show that the Washington Consensus is working. However, it requires a populace that rejects authoritarianism absolutely. Many in Latin America don't love free trade as a theory - but they damned sure don't want to return to the "bad old days" of dictatorships and socialism.

Moreover, there's some evidence that China's economy is shakier than it lets on. That's not unadulterated good news - we need the Chinese to have the cheap consumer goods that we have now - but it also means that that Chinese economic threat could be undercut. China's rhetoric on the Washington Consensus model is clever - preaching "unity" and "equality" - but given history, there will be a time when the favors are called in. With the Washington Consensus, at least the negatives are taken up-front - the pain is early. When China calls in its favors, the pain will come later, and probably the countries that are paying up will not be able to. That will be the make-or-break moment.

11.26.2005

Where In Madison?


The first lucky soul to accurately describe this location wins...exclusive bragging rights.

Diamond Jim, The Gamblin' Governor

Well, his sweetheart deals exceeded his constitutional authority a few years back.

Now it looks like Governor Jim Doyle is rolling the dice once again. This time his truthfulness as an individual is at stake. He claimed former governor Marty Schreiber was not involved in lucrative gaming compacts with Wisconsin tribes, but now evidence has emerged to the contrary:
"Doyle said then the compact was worked out entirely between Marotta and representatives of the Potawatomi and that Schreiber "was not part of these negotiations."

But in a series of stories and columns in October and earlier this month, the Lakeland Times of Minocqua quoted tribal spokesman Ken Walsh as saying Schreiber was part of the tribe's negotiating team in 2003 and again this year, which Walsh also confirmed to the State Journal."
Sorry, Jim, the house cameras were on. And they caught you this time. But why are Doyle's tribal connections so important?
"the governor had been bought off in the weeks before the 2002 election by the more than $700,000 the Potawatomi and two other tribes gave the national Democratic campaign committee, which then sent $1 million to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to run pro-Doyle ads."

11.25.2005

About as much Christmas gift preparation as I'm going to do

So, I have this idea. I've seen it done (successfully) before, so I'm reasonably confident it could work again. Here it is: a CD swap. Here's how it would work:

-You send me an e-mail, saying you want to send me a mix CD.
-Then, you send me said mix CD.
-After that, I send you a mix CD of my own.
-Also, if you want more than one mix CD, you can send me more than one mix CD, with the number of CDs you send me relating to the number of CDs you get back on a one-to-one basis.

Are you game?

Update: If you want to participate, send me an e-mail by Dec 20. Thanks.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Oh, man, can I ever relate to Jib's take on Christmas for those who work in certain sectors.

Actually, Steve and Barry's on State St was pretty dead all day - we'd go hours without seeing anyone in the store. But I'm not looking forward to people's Christmas shopping - the last few days of the semester are usually ridiculous on State Street. And last year the boss played Christmas music non-stop between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Man, I wanted to punch someone by the end.

But merry Thanksgiving to all of you - I hope yours was wonderful and safe!

A Happy Thanksgiving




Up in Packer Country for Thanksgiving with the family.





Grandpa's vast collection of model airplanes hanging over the Kiddie Table in the back room.







A great dessert spread featuring Grandma's homemade Belgian pies.





After dinner, it was time for old school Nintendo with the cousins. Duck Hunter and Mario 1 are still the most entertaining video games out there.

11.24.2005

The Deer That Got Away

Saw these four does in the Town of Schleswig as I was warming up my car this morning - have to be sure I will make it all the way to grandma's house in the cold.

Stay warm out there, Orange Army.

11.23.2005

It's only political if we can agree on a definition of "is"

Via Althouse, I notice this:
It explained a project, where the students would write letters to lawmakers, other students ... even to the president ... asking for an immediate withdrawal of U–S troops from Iraq.

Fitzpatrick says they didn't expect the assignment to cause any problems, because it was part of a social studies project asking for peace.

Ever get the feeling that some adults should be treated like children - patted on the head and told "Sure, dear. That's nice"?

Bob at Madison Freedom Fighter has more.

Lowering The Wisconsin Drinking Age - Sort Of

Should members of the armed forces under the age of 21 be allowed to drink?

Xoff doesn't seem to think so. And he doesn't understand why the age of 19 is proposed as the lower limit in Wisconsin legislation seeking to reduce fines for service members:
Makes me feel a little sorry for those 18-year-old soldiers, sailors, Air Force members and Marines, who will be left out. What's so magic about 19? For that matter, what makes a 19-year-old service member more able to drink responsibly than a 19-year-old civilian?
The 19-year-old provision is most likely intended to keep drinking out of the high school crowd.

Adults who are 19 or 20 years of age should be able to drink an alcoholic beverage - especially those who have signed the dotted line to serve - and potentially give their lives for - their country. Yes, I am well aware of the federal blackmail that ultimately forced Wisconsin to hike its drinking age to 21. I think it impinges on our state's 10th Amendment rights.

I am somewhat concerned about any legislation that weakens respect for the law. I would prefer a wholesale reduction in the drinking age to include all citizens 19 and up. But given the realities of transportation funding needs, this bill is about as good as we're going to get for now.

Well Then

I guess I'm pretty much a retrosexual by the looks of it.

HT: BH

Lettres dans des bouteilles|Le Pandit D'Île

Yes, that's our site name in French, according to the translated page that someone created on Google that ultimately got them here. Let's hope it's not a Parisian car burner.

Even funnier, though, is how our names turned out. Steve S stayed normal, but I morphed into a sentence:

Contribuants

* Steve S
* Clou à tête perdue V

Can anyone who can "parlevue" (sp?) explain what that means?

11.22.2005

Beacon Squeaks Out Another Edition

Despite some complications with our printer, The Mendota Beacon hit racks on campus today just before the mass exodus for Thanksgiving.

There's some good stuff in today's edition. Check out the story on Chancellor Wiley's safari in Africa or a great piece on some UW-Madison student veterans of the War in Iraq. Columnist Jenna Pryor, a fellow blogger, calls for a seg. fee audit.

There's also an in-house face-off involving UW's intersting social fault lines: Rachel Eliasek defends the Coasties and Ryan Scannell tells the DNR to hunt down Uggs. The Ed. Board tackles a more substantive issue, calling for free market options in the realm of textbooks.

Finally, Mike Fay will get you ready for Turkey Day with his humorous look at Thanksgiving in a piece on the intricacies of canned cranberry stuff.

11.21.2005

Who Will Run For Secretary of State?

Owen at Boots and Sabers reports that Robert Gerald Lorge has decided to take on Senator Herb Kohl next fall, joining Voegeler, the Green candidate, in a more-than-uphill battle to unseat Wisconsin's own Senator Quiet (D-Milwaukee Bucks). There will be some choice on the ballot now, sure, but I have to second Owen's criticisms. Tommy Thompson would be much more exciting - and realistic.

The bigger question this move begs, however, is who will run for Wisconsin Secretary of State on the Republican ticket? Lorge has been a perennial candidate for the position, and few consider the spot worth worrying about, given incumbent Doug LaFollette's handy surname.

The job only requires overseeing a staff of 8 and keeping the great seal of the state. Suggestions?

Apparently There's Snow Up North


Feds Should Not Fund Education

A piece over at National Review takes a look at the excessive and unnecessary spending at universities on luxuries. But more importantly, it points out federal government funding of over 1/3 of higher educational institutions' costs - more than No Child Left Behind:

"Universities… should have to compete for customers.” Unfortunately, we are heading in the opposite direction. Think No Child Left Behind for the Ivy League. “Many people don't realize that federal dollars… make up about one-third of our nation's total annual investment in higher education,” Secretary Spellings declared as she announced the formation of her commission. “By comparison, the federal government's investment in K-12 education represents less than 10 percent of total spending. But unlike K-12 education, we don't really ask many questions about what we're getting for our investment in higher education.”

Some federal merit-based scholarships deserve to be funded - The Barry Goldwater Scholarship, for example. This type of incentive promotes education and excellence in academic areas deemed vital to long-term national security interests.

For why federal funding of public education is generally inconsistent with American tradition, though, see the relevant chapter in Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative.

Crooks Gets Cap Times Endorsement

I'm still hoping for an alternative.

11.20.2005

More Pay For Wisconsin Legislators?

A new blog, I AM THE FORCE seems to suggest that higher pay would lead to more talented and effective state legislators in the Wisconsin capitol:

"Why don't we get the best and brightest? The first problem is that successful people are out in the real world being successful. The salary is far from enough to draw the most talented, but much more than adequate to maintain the bottom-feeders. The other difficulty is that freaks rather than normal people tend to be attracted to this line of work."

I don't know who Ragnar Mentaire, the poster, is, but I can name you several exceptions to this sentiment. But maybe there's a kernel of truth in the assertion. Thoughts?

Zimbabwe: We're Going Nuclear

God help us.

The failure to deal decisively with North Korea has spawned this situation. Rogue states now know they can follow the Kim Jong Il path by pursuing nuclear capacity at all costs in order to get a sudden seat at the table with the major powers.

China's support of rogue states like Zimbabwe, Sudan, Myanmar, and Uzbekistan in exchange for the extraction of mineral and oil wealth doesn't help.

Fun with historical analogies

Anne Althouse notes new dimensions of post-Katrina anger:
[A]fter tasting life elsewhere, they are returning with tales of public schools that actually supply textbooks published after the Reagan era, of public housing developments that look like suburban enclaves, of government workers who are not routinely dragged off to prison after pocketing bribes.

Local leaders have realized for weeks that they must reckon with widespread anger over how they handled the relief effort. But it is dawning on them that they are also going to have to contend with demands from residents who grew accustomed, however briefly, to the virtues of other communities....

This reminds me of how revolutionary feeling in Russia was inspired - after Russian soldiers returning from the occupation of post-Napoleonic Paris realized how restrictive the Tsarist autocracy truly was.

What's Your Credo?

The contract over at Badger Blues or Jib's rallying cry?

Since I'm not a fan of socialism, I think I'll opt for the latter.

Outsourcing to India

"When you don't have a democracy, meetings are pretty short."

That quote from Allan Klotsche of Milwaukee's Brady Corp. pretty much sums up the case for outsourcing to China - greater efficiency and lower costs at the cost of political freedom and human rights for the native population.

It's also one of the reasons companies would be wise to, as a Journal Sentinel piece today suggests, turn to India instead.

The piece talks of the pitfalls and advantages of doing business on the Subcontinent. But it fails to explicitly mention three simple key advantages India offers when contrasted with China:

1. Engligh Language - India's time as a British colonial holding makes communication easier

2. Rule of Law - The colonial era also established a British-style legal system that protects private property, particularly intellectual property

3. Fewer Competing Interests - Unlike China, India does not border the Pacific Ocean, meaning even if it expanded as a regional hegemon, it would be less likely to butt up against U.S. interests. Geographically, it is a less threatening competitor.

For now, though, China remains the chief depository of our direct foreign investment dollars in Asia. Keep up the pressure, Mr. President.

11.19.2005

Did Ya See Da Turdy Pointer?

That's right. It's deer hunting season once again.

The deer hunting culture doesn't really penetrate here in Madison, I've noticed. I didn't wake up to the sound of a chorus of shots at the crack of dawn. And I wasn't sitting out in the cold gray dawn myself with my back against a beech tree, watching the sun come up and seeing blaze orange dots off in the distance.

Somehow, I don't see any of my Madison neighbors hanging their buck from a basswood tree in the yard, either, like my grandpa would. Or venison sausages from the rafters in the basement.

But, I just console myself by listening to one of the greatest deer hunting songs of all time, Da Turdy Point Buck by Bananas at Large.

Hope you get a big one.

Hey Steve, how was that OK Go show last night?

It was, in a word, kickass. Allow me to illustrate:











Some friends were there.
















Giant Drag played. They were actually the second band to play, but they were the first band we saw! This picture is a bit dark, but you can see more at their site, as well as hear their songs and watch a couple of videos. You should do that!














Then She Wants Revenge played. I don't know why she wanted revenge, 'cause they played a very awesome rock set. Their site described them as Kraut-rock, which is a decent description. It was a touch difficult to take them seriously, because I get kinda weirded out by the whole industrial rock vibe, but the music would definitely bear listening to more often.










Then OK Go took the stage. They burned through an excellent garage-rock set. Tim - the bald one on the left - wined a bit about the cold, but all was forgiven as they rocked our socks off. Also, they had one of the coolest encores evar. They stayed on stage, and told us that other bands planned to come back to the stage - stepping offstage was just a ruse! (We were all shocked.) Then they did a dance over a pre-recorded song. It was extremely cool, and you can see it here. Dig it.

11.18.2005

Lake Mendota Dresses Up for Winter



Wiley Facebook Stunt Violates UW Policy, City Ordinance

The latest rabble rousing by the Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) is painting Chancellor John Wiley as a anti-labor buffoon. Admittedly, SLAC knows how to garner press with stunts.

The group's causes are almost always unworthy of the coverage. And they also have a habit of breaking the law.

The numerous SLAC posters taped to sidewalks on campus yesterday violate a UW policy against taping fliers to the ground, as well as a city ordinance:
"UWS Administrative Code 18.06 (17) states: “No person may erect, post or attach any signs or posters , pictures or items of a similar nature in or on any building or upon other university lands except on regularly established bulletin boards or as authorized by provisions of this code or by the chief administrative officer.” This includes telephone poles, light poles, garbage cans, fences, trees, buildings, stairs/steps and sidewalks. This is concurrent with Madison Ordinance 23.02.

The city ordinance carries a fine of $68.75 while the University’s policy carries a fine of $153.50 per occurrence."
Wiley is pretty low on my list right now, but SLAC is even lower. Hopefully someone files charges with the Committee on Students Orgs and asks for the suspension of the group's RSO status.

11.17.2005

Sheboygan Man Attacks Girlfriend with Cactus

Wow. Leave it to the city of my birth, good old Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

A crazed 22 year-old went on a rampage with a plant against his live-in girlfriend last night. His drinking created a prickly situation:
"According to a criminal complaint from the Sheboygan County District Attorney’s Office, police were called to the apartment about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. The woman, who police said was covered in blood, had to have half-inch thorns from the cactus removed with a tweezers by medical staff. The thorns were in her neck, face and arms, the report said. She also suffered a bite mark on her left forearm, scratches, a bruised jaw, a ruptured eardrum and a deep cut in her upper lip."
An argument against co-habitation? I think so.

No soup for you?

The Alcohol License Review Committee really doesn't get it. They're pushing forward on keg registration, claiming it will decrease how much students drink:
Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, is the main advocate of the ordinance and said the primary purpose is to control the amount of alcohol being consumed at house parties.
[snip]
“Maybe students will switch [to hard alcohol], but it will be more expensive,” Skidmore said. “The bottom line is, kegs are cheap.”

I suspect that hard liquor is cheap enough that you could match the alchohol in a keg with hard liquor without too much hassle. Or, of course, people can just buy cans.

Further, people drink more hard liquor. So the city is pushing people to drink more.
Many committee members agreed keg licensing won’t solve the over-consumption problem, but education and an eventual culture change would. The committee members against the ordinance also said keg licensing in Madison would open the door for other problems.

“I’m concerned [keg licensing] would cause more problems with hard liquor and will encourage people to go over the city border to get kegs since people have to drive to get the kegs anyway,” committee member Stephanie Rearick said.

Opponents to the ordinance argued there simply is not enough evidence that implementing keg licensing would improve underage drinking problems at all.

11.16.2005

Professor Suri on the Rise

Professor Suri is in the news - and probably will be more often in the near future. His new book on Henry Kissinger is in the works.

Both of us here at LIB have had the privilege of taking a history course here at UW-Madison from the up-and-coming professor. I just signed up for Part 2 of his lectures on U.S. foreign relations.

Long term, Suri has the stuff it takes to join the pantheon of classic UW professors. Unless you think differently, Steve S...

Elections around the corner

Random10:
I am constantly frustrated by the Republican Party because they are only focused on winning close elections through masterful micromanagement of known voters.

Republicans have won some squeakers lately, and even more lately, have lost some. We need a new strategy.

So this is my plea: Get some big ideas, some bold ideas, and take them to the people. I know that sounds a bit Bolshevik, but it's true nonetheless. We can't rely simply on turning out Republican voters. We need to have a much more effective outreach program to centrists.

R10 continues:
I keep waiting for them to understand they are right about the issues facing the country and should be in all out positive blitz mode.

Narrowly focusing on turning out Republican voters doesn't show the nation that you are right. It doesn't show that you even know you're right. It doesn't create a broad mandate.

We need some big ideas. Electoral reform - IDs - are one, perhaps. What else can we use?

Don't Defame Bucky Badger

Unfortunately, Bucky Badger got some bad press today in the Cap Times.

One of the students who used to fill the role as the zany mascot did some unwise things and paid the price for it.

I know three of the current Buckys, though, and they are truly an upstanding bunch. And, just think of all the push-ups they had to do against opposing football teams, like Temple...

I don't really see the value of the Cap Times piece - Bucky is our mascot, our symbol. The improprieties of one of the people who makes him possible shouldn't sully his good name.

Free Tibet While You're At It

This should rile up the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

Being told to "be like Taiwan" is like being told to emulate the kid you've hated since first grade. It is, however, a logical extension of Bush's freedom thrust finally taken to East Asia.

Nice work, Mr. President.

11.15.2005

A Fellow Hawk on Campus


















Copyright 2005 Letters in Bottles

A temporary silence, or maybe not

Right, so. I'm currently hiding in Memorial Library right now, cooped up with the Collected Works of Vladimir Lenin. It's quite exciting, actually! I'm working on a research paper, investigating whether Lenin owes anything to the Slavophile/Westernizer debate. My feeling is he's an odd mixture of Slavophile and Westernizer, but we'll see. My professor seemed vaguely skeptical that I'd find a link, but had some books in mind that could help.

So, what does that mean for the blog? Well, it seems I post quite a bit while procrastinating for exams, so this may actually mean I'll post more than usual. But I'm also pretty wrapped up in this paper, and it's a long-ish one, so it may also mean that I'll drop off the face of the world for a little while. So if I don't pop up any time soon, that's where I'll be.

If you really want to see me in the meantime, come to the OK Go show at the Annex on Thursday.

Are Those Ugg Boots?

Are you a coastie?

11.14.2005

Accident at Regent and Randall

A person is currently in an ambulance at the corner of Regent and Randall between Toppers Pizza and The Regent. Five police squad cars have cordoned off the area and officers are patrolling the intersection. A handful of onlookers have gathered on the corner.

According to bystanders, the green Ford taurus sitting in the street hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian in the parked ambulance, according to an officer on the scene, has head injuries, but not extremely serious - most likely a concussion. That's hard to believe given the huge crumple in the driver's side door, unless it was pre-existing.

Another Argument For Illegal Voting

"In fact, proponents of requiring citizens to show a picture ID at the polls completely ignore Wisconsin's biggest voting problem, which is that not enough people vote. Putting up additional barriers will only deter participation."

This excerpt from an editorial in today's Wisconsin State Journal summarizes the desperate and completely unpersuasive argument against Voter ID. Oddly enough, this argument put forward by the left runs directly contrary to the one person, one vote principle elucidated in the 1960s - the heart of the civil rights movement. Felons who vote and people who vote twice cancel out the legitimate votes of law-abiding citizens.

It is okay to deter participation if it is illegal participation. Milfred's piece says Voter ID won't fix anything. Even if I stipulate that point - which I do not - it cannot easily be argued that an ID requirement will hurt anything either (Xoff's blubbering notwithstanding). The measure has wide support statewide precisely because a vast majority of Wisconsinites do not feel it will hurt anyone - they wonder why an ID requirement is not already a foundational part of our electoral system.

The argument Milfred puts forward about obtaining an ID is also fallacious:

"Yet for someone in a nursing home, for someone without a car or money, having a readily-available picture ID isn't a given."

The state, under legislation vetoed thrice by James Doyle, would have provided a free ID card.

Governors usually give in and sign legislation that just makes sense at a basic level. Doyle has refused even in the face of withering poll numbers. Voter ID is a reasonable measure that should be enacted, even if it takes a Constitutional Amendment. Maybe it just takes getting out of Madison to see that.

11.13.2005

Madison Group to Protest Campus McDonalds

All you defenders of capitalism, rally to the arches!

Anti-corporate activists are planning to drive the campus McDonalds off Lake Street:

MADCITYACTION is an anti-corporate activist group in Madison, WI. Our primary goal is to take back State St. which has been occupied by corporate chain stores selling unhealthy swill and sweatshop-made consumer products. Using strictly non-violent means we will drive out the corporations with creative and informative protests. We will utilize our human right to protest and are fully aware of all our legal rights to do so. Our first target is the Lake St. Mcdonald's (near the end of State St.) across the street from UW Madison. The prostest(s) will begin on Buy Nothing Day (Friday after Thanksgiving) 11/25/05.

According to a different posting, the protesters feel they "can not lose" in their effort to "shut it down!"

The McDonald's on Lake Street (near the end of State St.) is ripe for the picking and ready to fall -- let's shut it down!

Ok then - have fun.

Bush in China: What the President Must Do

President Bush is heading to the PRC and, despite a boatload of problems at home, his mission there involves a number of critical issues. Here's what Bush needs to do:

1. Slam intellectual property rights violations - The U.S. information economy rams into a brick wall in places like China and Brazil where IP protection is next to non-existent. Creative and technological exports are worthless if the first transfusion of ideas is copied and distributed illegally on a vast scale.

"Experts say China produces some 70 percent of the world's counterfeit goods with pirated music and video discs and all manner of fake brand-named products widely available. "

2. Make it clear to China that we're on to them - Bush needs to add an element of realpolitik to his discussions. He should state the obvious: China is a competitor of the U.S. He must point out China's increasing military expenditures, it's ties to and support of pariah states around the globe, and it's incursion into areas of U.S. influence, like Latin America. He needs to provide a strong, confident American stance and make it clear that we will not be hoodwinked.

3. Strengthen bonds with other Asian nations - Bush must convince other regional states that America will play an important role in helping to balance powers in the face of the unsettling rise of the Chinese military and economic juggernaut. He should employ this approach rather than merely hand out economic aid. We are spending too much already. Countries in ASEAN are crucial, as is Mongolia, which Bush will visit - a first for a U.S. President. Japan, too, needs to be encouraged to pull a greater share of its weight in helping to balance China.

Bottom Line: Bush must put his domestic and terror-centered concerns aside for a moment and focus on this trip - it has the potential to echo down through the ages.

Stock of John Wiley Inc. Rises, Falls

Things were looking good last week for UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley. His company garnered a positive review from Owen over at Boots and Sabers for his reasonable response to campus labor activists.

The good chancellor also heralded the first Veterans Day parade on campus in over 30 years - a good PR move on his part designed to shore up investor confidence, especially given the lingering after taste of the Barrows affair.

But yesterday's Badger Game proved to be the real 3rd Quarter report: Wiley, who is out of the country, did not appear at the tribute to Barry Alvarez. And the students starting booing. Not just half-heartedly either.

Wiley's failure to be stateside for one of the most momentous events in recent statewide and UW history is telling. He has repeatedly miscalculated on matters of the greatest importance - one needs no examples after the Barrows debacle.

Chancellor Wiley should have been at Camp Randall on Saturday. He should have been there as the leader of the campus community. He should have been there as our school's ambassador to the citizens of the state. And he should have been there for Barry.

As a shareowner, I'm thinking it's time to sell short; this stock's value is on the decline.

11.12.2005

Game Day Madison - Farewell Barry, Hello Obelisk

As you wander around Regent Street in anticipation of Barry Alvarez's final home game as Badgers coach, take a gander at the new obelisk outside Camp Randall.

It's called "Nails Tales," but I don't think that name - or the monument itself- makes much sense. It does faintly echo the strange organic towers of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia, in a way.

What do you think of this work o' art?

Anyway, go Badgers!

11.11.2005

Veterans Day - We Salute You

To all American veterans: our sincere gratitude for your service.

My deep admiration goes out especially to the fewer than 50 remaining World War I Vets.

Grisly Avery Case Unfolds

Kevin at Lakeshore Laments has been keeping an eye on the gruesome story and has a good roundup of the media coverage. This is certainly one of the bigger news stories to come out of the greater Kiel area in the last few decades. Definitely the biggest for the tiny hamlet of St. John, where Halbach, the deceased victim, lived.

The little burg is quintessential rural Wisconsin. It's a little crossroads town in farming country. I can remember only two things from driving through St. John now and then years back. The Crystal Ballroom, a fancy old supper club with verandas, and St. John Catholic Church. This little piece from the Crystal sums it up pretty well:
"The small hamlet of St. John has a 'Norman Rockwell' quality that includes the majestic St. John Catholic Church, The Woodville Inn, and the Crystal Ballroom."
The family picture shown here, from the family's site, would seem to concur.

On a different note, as Right Side of the Road points out, Steven Avery's likely involvement in this matter does not help the public image of the Innocence Project, aptly observing that questions will likely arise about:

"whether or not the Innocence Project is really a group of overly-idealistic students living in a perverse state of fictitious utopia."

My prayers go out to the Halbach Family, as do those from many other people.

Not valid without proper ID

I have my issues with the "theory" of intelligent design. Mosly, as it isn't testable, it isn't science. But this post isn't about whether, where, or how intelligent design should be taught - it's about the arguments used by ID's proponents.

My understanding is that ID is supposed to be a secular challenge, proposed by religionists, to challenge Darwinist evolution. When scientists attack teaching ID in science classes, its proponents say "no, no - you see, ID doesn't even necessarily need God, it just is a theory that challenges evolution. Kids should have all the information."

Well, that's fine, as far as it goes. Except that isn't what they mean. And proof of that came today: Pat Robertson has just chastized some Pennsylvania town for kicking God out:
I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city.
[snip]
And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for his help because he might not be there.

This is the same pompous dimwit, of course, who said that God allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks to happen because the US had gotten too secular, so anything he has to say should be taken with a very large grain of salt. But it adds a revealing spin to the ID debate.

11.10.2005

Fun with Fark

Yeah, it's generally looked down upon, but when I took a look at Fark just now, they had a fantastic photoshop contest going on. Check it out!

Boondock Blues

Badger Blues has a post on a quote from the Book of Amos - it reminded me, in a weird way, of the eerie "Family Prayer" in the movie Boondock Saints. Both feature the flowing river of justice as their central metaphor.

Very different conceptions, I know - one for liberal social justice and the other for righteous killing by Catholics.

Remembering the Mighty Fitz

30 years ago today.

HT: FH in England.

11.09.2005

Animal Rights Activists Support "Mink Liberator"



I stumbled upon this protest yesterday near the courthouse. Approximately 40-50 people had gathered in support of a man being sentenced for "liberating" mink from mink ranches in Wisconsin.

Interesting signs, people. Free Peter? Good luck with that. Thankfully, Congressman Petri introduced this bill to stop animal rights crazies from going on rampages.

There's learning, and there's learning

I'm in my Cultural History of Europe class right now. The professor is lecturing on the origins of World War Two. I, on the other hand, am reading about Calvin and Hobbes (click the "launch" button below the picture).

I think I'm getting the better deal.

Like Charlie Brown, Calvin is a perpetual loser. He's terrible at school. His baseball teammates make so much fun of him that he quits the team. He's repeatedly bullied. He doesn't appear to have any real friends, other than his tiger Hobbes. Yet unlike Charlie Brown, Calvin doesn't seem to mind his fate. His main quality, other than imagination, is enthusiasm. Calvin, as befits his name, is a carefree fatalist.

New Mendota Beacon

Check out the latest edition of The Mendota Beacon for some interesting news and commentary.

This week features a piece supporting Alito, a probe of Chuck Chvala's links to John Erpenbach, and a column critiquing the excesses of the modern free speech movement.

Note: The Badger Herald's offhand news reference to The Mendota Beacon in its piece on The Warrior is factually inaccurate. The Leadership Institute does not fund the paper, it merely gave a $500 seed grant to get off the ground. The Herald should look at its own beginnings before backhanding a paper currently following much the same route.

11.08.2005

UW Regent Requests Student Fees Audit

A member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents has requested an audit of UW-Madison's segregated fees. It's about time.

Regent Tom Loftus raised concerns about the increase in fees and got the request on the agenda for the Board's meeting later this week. According to Wispolitics:
"An audit of student segregated fees at UW-Madison, as requested by Regent Tom Loftus, is also on the agenda. Bradley said that the board will hear testimony from students, and will decide whether or not to do an audit of the substantial fees given to student organizations."
But who is going to be giving the student testimony? Students with their hands in the seg. fee cookie jar? Seg. fee foes? Students who are - like most students - apathetic or completely unaware of seg. fees?

If you have a beef with the seg. fee system, go to the Regents meeting and tell them how you feel. If you're tired of being forced to fund dental dams, trips to Miami Beach, multicultural cookouts, student salaries, "diversity," and visits by Michael Moore, go to the Regents meeting and tell them how you feel. If you've experienced the joke that is ASM's funding process, go to the Regents meeting and tell them how you feel.

11.07.2005

Evil, and slightly confusing, sociology survey

So, the confusing part may have something to do with the fact that I've been awake for 31 straight hours now (pulling all nighters is fun!), but the evil part isn't. Consider the following questions:
"Racial diversity in a classroom does not enhance my learning experience."
Strongly Agree(5) ----- Strongly Disagree (1)

I'll check 2 - it would enhance my learning to the degree that said racial diversity brings intellectual diversity. But that's a really poorly worded question. Given that everybody's got a different opinion, I'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt.
"I would welcome having a professor who was of a different race than me."
"I would welcome having a TA who was of a different race than me."

I'm checking 3 - neutral. This things make no difference. Why should they? It's the quality of the teacher, not the color of his skin, after all. Maybe the libs don't get that.

The rest of the 30-odd questions are similar. "Are you a hick from the sticks or an urban youth?" (Okay, not those words exactly...) "Would you discourage friends/family members from interracial dating?"

Then there are the kickers - "It would be beneficial for the UW to actively attempt to increase diversity on campus."

What the devil does that mean? How am I supposed to check a box on that? What kind of diversity are we talking about here? I don't think I can honestly answer this question.

Do I have comments for the survey? Oh, heck yes:

"I'd say diversity goes far beyond the narrow racial definitions presented here. Intellectual diversity - being exposed to a wide range of ideas - is most important to me. I chose to attend the UW after spending a year abroad, because I knew I'd be able to enjoy a wide range of activities and experiences here. But I also believe these things should be market-driven, rather than forced from the top down. Plan 2008 [the last question of the survey asked if I supported Plan 2008] is racism by another means."

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

As of Thursday, it's been 30 years since the famed freighter went down in Lake Superior.

Gordon Lightfoot's classic ballad has thrust the wreck into the popular mystique. It's a rare artifact of Upper Midwest culture that actually succeeded in the popular culture in the last half century. And it's surprisingly singable.

So this Thursday, get yourself and your friends some Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes Brewing. Find a pub with an old jukebox and hail the brave men of that fated ship.

Chinese Spies Arrested in California

Bill Gertz reports on a disturbing development on the West Coast.

It seems like the MSM is largely ignoring this, leaving Gertz to cry out in the wilderness like an Old Testament prophet.

Roving Rove

It's early and I'm making bad puns. But the topic is pretty interesting - should Bush dump Rove? Via Bob the Crazy Politico (and also cool commenter around the Island), I see Don Surber calling for Rove's resignation:
Now that Karl Rove has been cleared by a special prosecutor, it is time for Bush to dump him. With his poll ratings below the Detroit Tigers' winning percentage, the president needs to rally the people behind him.
I know Bush does not set policy by opinion polls, etc., etc. But he does need public support of those policies.
Boy genius? The closest win in U.S. history followed by a 3-pointer at the buzzer against an elitist line-jumper. As the Joker used to say of Robin: Boy Blunder.
Pretty bad with elections in California, New Jersey and Virginia tomorrow and the prez is persona non grata.
Rove's ineffective. Dump him so he can write his book.

Rove is one of those evil geniuses I'm only kinda glad we have on our team. He's too sleazy by half, but he's come up with a few good stunts in his day. However, I wasn't really impressed with his strategy for the 2004 election - it worked, but it was clearly a Rove plan. Since then, I can't really point to anything he's done, except for my suspicion of his involvement in the Miers/Alito changeup.

Is Rove worth it?

11.06.2005

Digital lynch mob?

I'm not a huge fan of La Shawn Barber's in the first place, so I don't read her that often. But I poked over there just now, and found this:
The biggest incentive for illegal aliens to come to the United States is to find work. If there are no employers willing to hire the illegal aliens, then the flood of illegal aliens will subside.

So the purpose of this website is to expose “alleged” employers of illegal aliens. In this effort we need your help. First, if you know of a suspected employer of illegal aliens report them here.

I'm not arguing that the immigration system isn't massively flawed - it is, and needs to be fixed. But attacking any employer suspected of hiring illegal immigrants is dangerous and wrong. It's not the kind of justice we value in the United States.

What the...?


I saw this strange scene on Capitol Square on Friday. At first glance I thought terrorists were striking in the heart of Madison in broad daylight. I figured they were pretty smart, too, because they were going after a maple tree, a target more likely to inspire fear in the average denizen of Madison than an attack on a business or national guard installation.

But, alas, they were merely measuring the density of wood.

11.05.2005

At Least We Don't Have Naked Protesters

Let's hope this practice doesn't catch on here in Madison.

11.04.2005

Fox News Picks Up on Milwaukee Vets Parade

Brit Hume writes about Veterans for Peace getting denied by the Milwaukee Veterans Day Parade in his Grapevine piece at the Fox News website.
"Organizers of Milwaukee's Veterans Day Parade have banned the local Veterans for Peace (search) chapter from the event. Parade organizer Mary Ann D'Acquisto removed the anti-war group for trying to use the parade to further their political agenda. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports Veterans for Peace leader John Zutz says veterans who carry the American flag in the parade also would be making political statements and attacked parade organizers for "choosing which political statements are correct and which are incorrect." D'Aquisto, however, says, "all we want to do is honor the veterans."
This contoversy is clearly a Freedom of Association issue under the First Amendment. As we should have learned from Dale v. Boy Scouts, private groups cannot be compelled to open membership to those they do not want to associate with. The parade should not be forced to allow Veterans for Peace to march.

Bipartisan Carping on Carp

They're the evil invader everyone loves to hate. In this time of polarization, Republicans and Democrats alike have at last found a common foe - the Giant Asian Carp.

Out in D.C., Congressman Mark Green is pushing a bill to halt the carp from invading the Great Lakes and destroying native fish stocks.

Here in Madison, "Snarlin' Marlin" Schneider's anti-carp bill passed the Assembly.

You might think the state legislature would have bigger fish to fry, but with most of the political spectrum against them, the carp had better look out. But these beasts aren't your typical carp, as we've explained.

Hopefully the Green-Schneider tag team, odd as it is, can keep our waters Asian-carp free. We've already been overrun by zebra mussels, lampreys, and alewives. In this round, it's time to pull out the full nelson.

No Soup For You, China

It's been a while since I've put up a good jeremiad against the dragon. Couldn't resist when I saw this disturbing news, though.

China is attempting to get the EU to eliminate it's 16 year-old arms embargo, spurred by the massacre of 1989. The EU has refused until now due to human rights concerns and threatening behavior toward Taiwan. But Chinese economic clout looks like a bigger carrot every day:
"China's trade volume with the EU has for the first time exceeded the trade volume between China and Japan, without such discrimination no doubt the trade volume would be even bigger and we would have more benefits from the bilateral cooperation," Li said.
Right now, China buys most of its weapons from Russia, according to UW Professor Ed Friedman. But guess who its number two supplier is? Israel. Very strange, indeed.

Congress should attach string to Israeli aid dollars that prohibit arms sales to America's most significant rival nation.

Warrior, We Stand With You

Somebody must be doing something right. Only people who are afraid their own ideas are bankrupt would stoop to something like this.

The business manager of the brand new Marquette Warrior, a conservative student paper, reports that his home was vandalized this morning, just days after the debut of the publication. Brandon is also a core member of the blog GOP3 and Marquette College Republicans. This act is despicable.

Hopefully the cloud has some silver lining, though, in making the splash of the publication that much bigger. This act alone points out the need for a new voice on campus. The Mendota Beacon was stolen earlier this semester, but it goes with the territory and must be overcome. Eggs, ketchup, and hostile signs are pretty juvenile stuff, though.

Bottom line: Keep fighting like the Warriors you are, guys!

Don't Blog in Libya

It's a hard knock life over in the country we disarmed without a shot because of the War in Iraq.

11.03.2005

UW Student Papers Miss the Boat

Surprise, surprise. Campus media ignored the Support Our Troops Rally yesterday and focused on the antics of a bunch of old Vietnam-era fogies.

The Badger Herald's story completely dismissed the pro-Victory effort. If the reporter was on the mall for the duration of the anti-war protest, he could have failed to mention the political counter speech only through wilful negilgence. We made our message and presence pretty apparent.

Fortunately - and ironically - the local MSM outlets actually covered both sides of the event. Channel 15 even put the Support Our Troops effort ahead, rightly noting that our efforts are actually more newsworthy in Madison than any anti-war protest. Channel 27 put the effort on equal footing.

Frankly, it's no wonder that campus conservatives have to write pieces like this about the student papers here. But, enough complaining. It was a good time for a good cause.

11.02.2005

Victory!

So, yeah, that minimum wage referendum? Illegal.

Take that, jerks.

Support Our Troops Rally at UW-Madison



The Madison Freedom Fighter rallies the support our troops crowd outside of the military recruiting center in Madison.









Jordan Smith delivers a thank you card to the recruiters.









The traditional cheers on the bridge over University Avenue.










A tolerant and enlightened sign over at the anti-war rally on Library Mall. They weren't too happy to see us march by several times cheering with American flags a'waving. We even got Piccolo Guy to play God Bless America as we sang along.

What's In Our Pockets?

President Bush has nothing but a white handkerchief.

What's in Letters in Bottles' pockets?

Eagle Scout Card
Rosary
Mendota Beacon Business Card
State Capitol Entry Swipe
Four Leaf Clover
Fishing License
Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Chinese Character for Happiness
Siblings Picture
UW Student ID
$10
Copps Card
Cell Phone
Bike and house keys

Steve? An update later with your pockets?

Last Leaves

Be there or be square

So. There are a few things happening... today, which is to say, Wednesday. (Sorry, I'm posting this at 12.20, so it's still a bit weird calling it Wednesday just yet.)

The first thing that's happening is a liberal get-together. Yep. They're meeting at the top of Bascom Hill, marching around for a bit, then meeting at Library Mall at 12.30. As Bob points out:
First, these people are advocating for the forceful removal of an elected President. They want to "(force) Bush to step down". This is just abhorrent. This is equal to treason. They are working on behalf of "people all over the globe" to cause chaos in America and remove Bush.

The other thing that's going on is a bit more fun. The College Republicans are holding their own get-together. No, it isn't a counter-protest. It's a positive demonstration in itself. We're meeting at University Square to thank the ROTC and military recruiters for the hard work they're doing to defend this country. We're going to be positive.

Now, it's likely that this may end up like last time - but that just makes it more fun!

11.01.2005

Heights of weirdness

Via Lileks, I find this radio interview:
HH: But you did not say that Judge Alito would be better in a white robe than a black robe?

BRS: I didn't even know Judge Alito then. I hadn't even heard of him really, except to know that his name had been mentioned as a possibility.

HH: This morning? Did you know this morning?

BRS: This morning? Yes.

HH: And so, what did you say this morning?

BRS: This morning, I was asked if I had said the statement that I just quoted to you, and I said I had. And I was asked about Judge Alito, and I basically said I don't know him well enough.

HH: So, you think it's possible he might be more comfortable in a white robe than a black robe?

BRS: I am certainly dying to find out what he believes. I really don't know.

Now, this guy is clearly a staggering jackass. But this is exactly why I loathe talk radio generally - the "dialogue" becomes ridiculous so quickly. Reading the interview, I had a picture in my head of the Daily Show - they used to have a great segment in which two young kids would read transcripts from talk shows.

All Saints Day

Hey, Catholics, that's right - it's a Holy Day of Obligation today!

I pray today for the canonization of the following, that they might be added to the ranks of the Saints:

John Paul the Great
Father Michael J. McGivney
Cardinal Kung
Father Ambrose Oschwald
Sister Adele Brise
Frere Roger of Taize
Father Samuel Mazzuchelli
Sister Thea Bowman

Everyone loves a Commie. Well, the New York Times, anyway.

I just got out of my Latin American Politics class, where we don't have wireless access (darn 3rd-level basement in Birge) and were discussing American intervention in Cuba and the 1959 revolution (yeah, that one). And I realized that as much as I enjoy my prof, she's really an inveterate lefty.

I'll get to that in another post, but my real interest here is in the New York Times's reporting. Most people know about Pulitzer Prize-winner Walter Duranty. If you don't, I can't cuss strongly enough to describe him, so just go read the link.

Well, a little while later, who was responsible for making the Cuban revolution popular? It turns out, it was a New York Times reporter named Herbert Matthews. Here is one example of a story he sent back to the States.
Fidel Castro, the rebel leader of Cuba's youth, is alive and fighting hard and successfully in the rugged, almost impenetrable fastnesses of the Sierra Maestra at the southern tip of the island.

Actually, Castro really didn't do much fighting at all: his main victory was in staying alive during those years. The best he was able to do was to launch a few attacks on very small Army bases.

In fact, it was Matthews's own stories, sent back to the US and distributed via the NYT, that gave Castro support. Castro had been completely unable to gain support among the peasants in the mountains. The support he got came in city intellectuals who got jazzed about revolution and left the cities for the Sierra Maestras. That, in turn, led Batista to crack down on anyone who could have been a rebel - especially upper- and middle-class students.

So, in a very large way, the NYT helped Castro win his war.

I can't say whether this is good or bad. It wasn't until two years later that Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist, and he never joined the Communist Party. There is a raging debate over what kind of a reformer he could have been - apologists claim, as they are wont, that the US pushed Castro away and radicalized him. And it goes without saying that Batista was a massively corrupt bastard.

But it also goes without saying that as soon as he was in power, Castro became a very brutal dictator. And the New York Times played a large role in contributing to Castro's victory.