12.31.2006

Attempt at a Retrospective

Looking back, I don't have as much bile as Isthmus does about the peeps and props that graced the stage that was 2006.

But I do have a few thoughts. Overall, the show was pretty good from here in the cheap seats.

For me, there was no shortage of scene changes - some dramatic and sudden like graduation, some more like subtle and lingering shifts in the lighting that couldn't be detected on the blog.

War abroad smoldered off in the background. Actors observed, partook in a great political battle here at home - some of us came out ahead, but all of us changed.

There were challenges. There were new friends. There was a deepening of old friendships. It was grand. Many photos were taken.

And the incidental music? Not a bad soundtrack if you ask me.

Then, as the curtain fell and we exited into the cold street, the ushers handed us this.

Geesh. That's going to require a resolution. Or at least a few glasses of champagne.

12.30.2006

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy

I understand that Saddam Hussein is now dead.

I was busy getting drunk while Saddam was busy dying. And I think that's appropriate.

12.29.2006

Howdy



“The snows have fled; already the grass is returning to the fields and the leaves to the trees.”

- Horace

It's good to see Madison hasn't changed

Just as soon as I return to the blog, it seems, I get a nice reminder of how Madison hasn't changed at all.

In the cafe, the nice liberal boy with indie good looks is in the middle of what I'm sure is a very deep conversation about religion. Per usual, we're bashing Christians today, those danged bigoted jerks:
That's why I don't like Christians - they're trying to force their beliefs on everyone. That's why there's so many missionaries trying to change everybody!

I also learn, from overhearing this charming you lad, that one can be a good Muslim (which he insists on pronouncing "moo-slim") despite not following any of the strictures of Islam, and that Muslims would never try to change anyone.

Yep, it's good to be back.

Guess who's back with a brand new rap

Yep, we're coming back. If Brad hasn't shown up yet, he certainly will shortly. I've been blogging elsewhere a bit, but it feels good to be back "home".

A big thanks is due to Mike, who kept the blog going while Brad and I were out. We certainly enjoyed his posts, and I'm glad to say he'll be staying around to help fill things out.

LIB was originally a student blog, and probably some of that will continue. But it's hard to say exactly how things will shape up, now that Brad and I are curmudgeonly alumni (let me tell you kids, when I was a freshman, we didn't have any of these fancy new dorms, and by December there were snowdrifts taller than me - we dug tunnels to class, and woe betide anyone who got caught in a cave-in). But you can certainly expect the same mix of crazy photos, off-beat local Wiscinsin lore, music, politics and more.

So go get yourself a drink with an umbrella, pop open your hammock, and get ready - we're back, baby.

12.28.2006

Iraq another Vietnam? Only if we fail to learn.

I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital today while my Grandfather was undergoing hip-replacement surgery, when I overheard a group of older people talking about current events.

Inevitably Iraq was mentioned.

Someone said that we are in "another Vietnam," another - who happened to be a Vietnam Veteran - said that no, this is worse. As much as I may hate to admit it, as of now they are both correct.

Now, I do not believe that Iraq is a lost cause. It can be won with the proper political will and commitment from the United States and our allies. However, the extent that Iraq is another Vietnam is in the political climate that we face. Popular sentiment is against the war and is fueled by a press that is all too willing to report on the negative side of the war at the expense of a truly balanced portrayal of what is going on over there.

The rhetoric of the anti-war activists is also similar to that of Vietnam. The anti-war left loves to talk about how terrible our involvement has been in Iraq and how many innocent civilians that have been killed since hostilities began. Never mind that the figures they use (in excess of 650,000 casualties) are totally unfounded, or the fact that those responsible for the massive civilian deaths that do occur are Iraqis themselves or terrorists from Syria and Iran. The bottom line for the anti-war crowd is the same as Vietnam: we are destroying a sovereign nation and slaughtering innocent civilians.

In this way Iraq is another Vietnam, and in another maybe worse.

When we abandoned Vietnam to communist forces the result was another nation lost to a dark and dangerous ideology, but the threat that Viet Cong guerrillas would follow our troops home did not exist, or was at least minimal. In Iraq the situation is very different. Should we fail in Iraq, we will not only lose another nation to the dark and dangerous ideology of Islamic Fundamentalism - whether Shiite or Sunni, it does not matter - but our enemies will not be content to remain in Iraq. No, they will continue on their quest for a worldwide conversion to their perverse idea of Islam.

Our enemy in this war is every bit as real and dangerous as the fascist powers we fought in World War II, yet their commitment to their cause is more fanatical than any enemy we have ever faced. The radical Muslims we are fighting in Iraq generally have no fear of dying in the fight, in fact it is preferred to die for their beliefs because they believe they will receive a greater reward in heaven. That type of fanaticism will not quit. It cannot be appeased and negotiation is useless.

If we abandon Iraq as we did Vietnam, the image will not be South Vietnamese hopelessly clinging to a helicopter as it leaves the American embassy. This time it will be the enemy that will go with us, emboldened by their victory to attack us as they did on 9/11, only with more force and frequency.

If comparisons to Vietnam are to be made, then let us learn the lessons of history and not abandon those whom we swore to protect and aid. The Iraqis have shown us that they want democracy. Their turnout in the national elections of '05 is proof of it. We cannot afford to fail them as we did the people of South Vietnam, nor can we afford to give this enemy a victory.

12.18.2006

Time's Cop-Out of the Year

Time's Person of the Year usually goes to someone who, for better or worse, has influenced news the most over the last year. This year, instead of making a tough and possibly controversial choice, the Time editors took what I would consider the cowards' way out - they picked you, and me.

They could not be more wrong.

The justification for their choice was that the "blogosphere" and websites like myspace and youtube are responsible for a shift in the way in which news is reported and even what news is reported. While these types of sites do make life more difficult for elected officials and celebrities, because if they do something stupid caught on film soon everyone will be able see it over the Internet; these sites do not make news - they simply comment on it.

Very few, if any, blogs actually report or break news. Instead they comment on events and make predictions as to how badly someone or some group is going to mess up the country. Is this worthy of Person of the Year? No.

The two men I believe should have been named Person of the Year are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Shi'ite Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. Neither of these individuals are good men, both are in essence enemies of the United States, but both have influenced events here at home and in the entire Middle-East throughout 2006.

My personal pick would have been Ahmadinejad. While his politics are disgusting and his insistence that the Holocaust never happened are ridiculous, he has affected many things over the last year. Our foreign policy has been forced to change because of him and his government is likely funding much of the Shi'ite insurgency in Iraq.

Why wouldn't Time make a difficult choice like that? After all, Hitler, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Mao have all been named Men of the Year in the past.

Time, instead of actually making a newsworthy choice, did the easy thing and ran a feel good story so all of us can think that we are actually influencing news. Sorry, but a fanatic like Ahmadinejad with the potential of getting nuclear weapons still has a lot more influence over the events of our world than what anyone says on a blog.

It's too bad that Time doesn't seem willing to admit it.

Note: I apologize for not posting last Wednesday. I have been busy with finals, but will post as often as possible.

12.14.2006

Can we trust them?

The incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have pledged to continue the moratorium on pork barrel spending. It sounds good, but I am not going to hold my breath.

Sen. Byrd, the new Senate Chairman, is so well known for his overspending that there is no longer an official count of the number of highways, post offices, and schools named after him in his home state - though the number is estimated to be in the several hundreds. Why, after 50 years of being in the Senate, would Mr. Byrd change his ways and not push for more wasteful spending?

To be sure, the Republican party, and particularly Sen. Stevens from Alaska, were no better in terms of cutting wasteful spending, but why should we trust someone who is famous for his pork?

If there is one thing on which all of us can agree, it is that the voters last month voted for fiscal responsibility. Look at the incoming Democratic freshman. The vast majority of them ran on platforms of balancing budgets and less wasteful spending. The conservative "Blue Dog Democrats" are now by far the largest caucus in the House. It is certainly my hope that these "fiscal conservatives" make their presence known and keep a lid on federal spending.

Unfortunately, the leadership in both houses do not represent that commitment to fiscal responsibility.

I wonder if Speaker-Designate Pelosi will be willing to stick to her commitment to "pay-as-you-go" budgeting. I wonder if the Democrats will be able to withstand the temptation to bring home the bacon for their home districts. In fact, our own Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin, brags about how much money she brings back to the 2nd CD. She even made it a key selling point in her bid for re-election. Will she, and others, resist the urge to bring even more federal dollars home now that they are in the majority?

We do need fiscal discipline in the federal government, and although the former Republican leadership was not successful can the incoming Democratic leadership do any better?

12.11.2006

Free college if you stay?

A commission that was designed to improve the UW-System's two-year campuses has come up with an interesting idea. As reported in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the commission is set to recommend that UW students be given free college tuition for a pledge to stay and work in Wisconsin for 10 years after they graduate.

It just may be the start of a good idea.

What is good out of this proposal is the acknowledgement of the "brain drain" happening in Wisconsin. We have a horrible retention rate for college graduates actually staying in this state. The more often we admit it, the more likely it is that something may actually be done about it.

The logic behind the proposal, I assume, is that if someone stays in the state for 10 years after graduating, then they will be more likely to stay permanently because hopefully they have started a family in that time and gotten some job security. Not a bad idea really, but it only begins to scratch the surface of the problem. It isn't enough to just offer free tuition, we have to bring in businesses and industry so that there is a reason to stay in the state to begin with.

The real problem that this state is facing is an overall tax and business climate that is not all that friendly. We still have very high taxes, which is a consideration for students who have no prior attachment to Wisconsin, and we do not have many businesses beating down the door to expand in the state. The solution to this is not necessarily lower corporate taxes, (even though they do help) but lower income taxes and fees. Businesses are hesitant to move here because their employees would have to pay such a high cost of living; which requires that the business pay higher wages than it would in other states.

Along with offering incentives to stay in state after graduation, we need to ensure that those graduates have good jobs waiting for them. In order to do that, we need to be business and employee friendly and that means lowering the burden of government fees and taxes on those who stay in Wisconsin.

12.06.2006

More Overspending by ASM...

The Daily Cardinal inadvertently brought to light a serious problem with our student government. In their story on the Finance Committee running out of grant money for trips for RSOs, the Cardinal quoted the chair, Sree Atluru, as saying that the committee overspends every year.

Why is this happening?

This is yet another example of fiscal mismanagement on the part of ASM, and I don't think it is going to get any better anytime soon. The problem is that we are giving too much money to too many groups. If a group needs funds for events or trips, they should be requesting that money in their budgets from the SSFC. If grants are given out, then they need to be competitive and follow strict guidelines for qualification.

The fact that this is something that happens over and over is even more distressing. Right now our student government sees itself as a funding group for the special interest groups that make up our RSOs. Instead, ASM should act as the gatekeepers of our money. Every semester we pay in excess of $300 for fees to the university. Those rates are set in large part by ASM not the administration or the Board of Regents. Our segregated fees are taxes levied by our student leaders. The members of ASM are accountable to us, the students, no to Chancellor Wiley or the RSOs they fund. It is time that they take their positions seriously because they are not using play money, they are using our hard earned dollars.

However, our student government just doesn't get it. To them it apparently isn't that big of a deal to overspend your budget every year.

12.03.2006

BCS a bunch of BS

I won't go too in depth on this, but how in the world can the BCS claim to be a legitimate way to determine the best college football teams in the country?

First, the Badgers got screwed. By the BCS' own rankings the Badgers rank 7th in the nation, yet because two other Big Ten schools are even better we get nothing. I have nothing against the Capital One Bowl, I think it really is a good Bowl. However, if the goal of the BCS is to have the best teams in the country play in five Bowl games, how then can the Badgers be kept out?

Oh, that's right. Political correctness has gotten so bad that only two teams from any conference can be represented in the BCS games. It doesn't matter if the top three teams came from the same conference, that number three team is just out of luck, the other conferences have to feel good too. Football is a game where winners and losers are determined if the best teams in the country come from only one or two conferences, so be it. Don't punish good teams for playing in a tough conference.

Also, Michigan - a team that I have a difficult time feeling sorry for - got screwed. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes are by far the top two teams in the college football. No other team played Ohio State as tough as the Wolverines did and they deserve a rematch. The BCS' own computer showed that at the very least Michigan and Florida (the team that will now get demolished by Ohio State in the Championship game) were tied for second. Instead, the Harris and Coaches polls decided that Michigan should not get a second shot at Ohio State.

If the BCS really wants to determine the best teams in college football, then the best teams should play each other. Rather than have a truly competitive Championship game and Rose Bowl then Ohio State should play Michigan and USC should be playing Florida. Now, all we are going to see is two blowouts that never should have happened.

11.29.2006

Partnership benefits must be debated... thoughtfully

The Badger Herald reported today that the UW Board of Regents is planning to recommend that domestic partnership benefits be provided for UW-System employees. I think that it's at the very least worth consideration.

I hesitate to support anything too quickly, not because of any objection to domestic partner benefits, but because the state is facing a $1.6 billion deficit that needs to be fixed before any new spending programs are enacted. If the Regents propose a sensible program that does not place too much of strain on the budget process, I see no reason to deny these benefits.

That said, both the Regents and the legislature must behave intelligently and respectfully in the upcoming debate about this. It must not be allowed to devolve into the worthless "us vs. them" debate that surrounded so much of the debate over the Marriage Amendment. The issue here is benefits, and what offering those benefits will mean for the UW-System and the state. This is not a civil rights issue or a religious issue, the Amendment is now law and the debate surrounding it is over.

If the Regents are indeed able to show that the costs of providing these benefits are outweighed by the quality and quantity of the faculty, students, and staff that they will attract to the UW, it will be very difficult for the legislature to vote the proposal down.

Rep. Mark Gundrum has consistently argued that the Marriage Amendment will not preclude any business or government organization from offering domestic partnership benefits. If that is the case, as I believe it is, then he and the Regents should work together to craft the policy so that it is in line with our new Constitutional Amendment. It would send quite the message to the rest of the nation that so shortly after Wisconsin passed our own Marriage Amendment, we can still work together to provide healthcare benefits to all of our citizens.

If the Regents are sincere in their desire for these benefits to pass, they must offer to work with the legislature in writing the policy. Work to fix the problem or don't, but do not waste the people's time or money on petty political agendas or bickering.

11.27.2006

Iraq Study Group falls a little short

Don't expect much from the Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission. Although I have the utmost respect for many of the members of the group, I question whether or not they are the best qualified to analyze the war in Iraq.

Certainly Baker and Hamilton have the foreign policy experience to address the political ramifications of the war, as does Lawrence Eagleburger - a former Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush. The political consequences of the war are only part of the problem, however. Only one member of the ISG has any prior experience dealing with military operations: President Clinton's former Secretary of Defense William Perry. The remaining six members of the ISG, although extremely bright and intelligent individuals, have no substantive foreign policy or military experience.

According to the commission its focus has four main parts: the strategic environment in and around Iraq, the key challenges to security within Iraq, the political developments and formation of a new government in Iraq, and the economic reconstruction of Iraq. Obviously these issues are extremely complex and require input from a variety of backgrounds to provide any legitimate recommendations on how to move forward in Iraq.

The problem I see with the ISG is that there is no input from anyone with any extensive military experience. Why are there no retired generals on the commission? Why not General Tommy Franks, or General Anthony Zinni, or General Wesley Clark, or Colin Powell? Men like Zinni and Clark are certainly not supporters of the Bush administration, but they are well qualified individuals when it comes to military tactics.

I don't want to sound like I am downplaying the experience of Baker, Hamilton, Eagleburger, and Perry. On the contrary, just these four men are probably the most qualified group of foreign policy experts that exist in the United States. All of them are universally respected politically and around the world. My problem is that the other members of the ISG, like Vernon Jordan or Leon Panetta or even Ed Meese, are there only to make the group "bipartisan" and palatable to members of congress. The group's focus is extremely important and will mean a lot for the next step in Iraq, we don't need a bipartisan commission we need a commission of experts, and that includes the military.

The generals I suggested are not all Bush administration supporters. Zinni, Clark, and Powell have all been critical of the handling of Iraq. It is clear that we need a fresh perspective on Iraq, and I think that the ISG can provide some of that, but it is also clear that the members of the group show that President Bush is more concerned with how the commission will play politically than whether or not it seriously addresses the military situation as well.

I guess we have to just wait and see.

11.22.2006

A new direction

In an attempt to be more consistent in terms of posting, I will be going to a minimum of two posts a week from now on. I will post on Mondays and Wednesdays starting on Monday the 27th. Obviously if something big happens on Campus or in the news, I will post on that as well.

I also want to go back to what LIB was when Steve and Brad first began this site and that is a college blog. I am going to focus more on Campus issues and not just state and national politics. This is not to say that I won't be talking about anything but college, just that I want to focus a little more on campus issues than I have been.

In going to a guaranteed two posts a week, I am aiming for quality over quantity so that the debate on this site is more thoughtful and deliberate than other blogs. Too often these sites devolve into nothing more than partisan sniping and I do not want that for LIB.

11.13.2006

Honoring our Veterans every day

On Saturday, we, as a nation, honored our Veterans. All around the country people gathered for services small and large to pay tribute to the men and women who have answered duty's call to defend our nation and our ideals.

One thing that you notice at these ceremonies is the way in which the old Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam interact with one another. They talk about what they have all been up to since the last time they saw one another and they remember those who are no longer with them, but they very rarely - if ever - talk about war. They may talk about basic training and other military service, but the subject of the wars they fought or the battles in which they participated almost never comes up.

For the first time, I realize why.

For the Veterans, the men and women who have seen war firsthand, there is nothing more for them to say. By having served in a war, no matter which one it was, they have a shared experience of having faced death and destruction with courage and honor. It is a bond that transcends age, race, ethnicity, and religion. It is a bond that is simply understood and accepted. It is the bond of camaraderie and the knowledge that in battle you fight not for God or country, but your brother who is beside you. That is the bond only these men share.

We owe the men who fought in our nation's wars a debt of gratitude that none of us can ever fully repay, but still we must try.

We honor our Veterans with speeches and songs on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, but we must not stop there. Honoring our Veterans, both past and present, is something we must do in our everyday lives, not only once or twice a year.

We honor our Veterans by cherishing our Freedoms and our way of life. The First Amendment Freedoms that we hold so dear were secured not with the stroke of a pen or a judge's gavel, but with the blood and sweat of our Veterans. When evil forces threatened the Freedom and safety of people in far off lands, our Veterans were the ones to answer the call and defend not only the United States, but the Freedom and safety of all people throughout the world.

Let us never forget them or what they have done for us.

11.10.2006

Don't miss the point...

There have been a lot of people who have suggested that it is Green's fault for Doyle being re-elected. These people say that Scott Walker would have actually won if he hadn't dropped out back in the Spring. Although some interesting arguments are made, this type of second-guessing is pointless.

Mark Green was our nominee for Governor in the Republican Party and he lost, we all did.

The problem with this is that sour grapes about the candidate does not address the problems that we experienced in the course of the election. Charlie Sykes makes an excellent point that no Democrat incumbent Governor or Senator lost anywhere in the country. No matter how good the challenger or how corrupt the incumbent we were unable to unseat anyone.

If we focus on the "if only we had run someone else" argument we miss what happened. Exit polling from around the nation shows that upwards of 60% of the undecided and independent voters broke for the Democrats on Election Day. As I have said before, the Republicans are now seen as the Party of big government. That is the biggest problem we have going forward now.

Four years from now Scott Walker may very well be the Republican nominee for Governor. Just as I supported Green, I will gladly support Walker. However, simply because your candidate dropped out does not mean that you jump ship and quit. Republicans do not throw each other under the bus simply because they lost an election or disagree with the party line. Democrats do that (see Lieberman, Joe), but we do not.

We have serious problems with our Party right now and how the public views us. That is where our focus must be for the next few years. We need to rebuild our image by rebuilding the Republican Party into the Party of reform, less government and increased freedom. We need a change in direction, not just a change in the candidate.

It was a phenomenally bad year for the Republican Party, but that doesn't mean it needs to happen again. We will win again if, and only if, we look at why we lost and not who lost.

11.09.2006

The Election was bad, now let's move on...

This was a bad year to be a Republican, and quite honestly we brought in on ourselves. The most telling statistic that has come out in the wake of the Election is that most voters now identify Republicans as the party of big government and increased spending.

For the past three or four years the Republicans in Congress have been spending out of control. We have abandoned the principles that took us to the majority in 1994 and have become too comfortable in power. I do not believe, however, that this is a major political realignment.

The election of 1994 was a realignment because the Republican party had run an a platform of reform and specific proposals on the direction of the country. This year the Democrats ran on a platform more accurately described as "we're not them." Now they have won back control of both Houses and have the chance to show the nation what their "vision" is.

If the Democrats do more than attack the President and the War, they have a chance to hold onto Congress for a long while, but they must be leaders not just critics.

For the Republicans it is time to return to the basics of what our party has always been. We must return to fiscal responsibility and less, more efficient government.

The results of the election were bad, but it is not the end of the world for the Republican party. Sometimes in politics it is important to get knocked down. The important thing is how the party responds to the loss.

11.01.2006

Kerry's remarks a disgrace

"You know, education, if you make the most of it and study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can really do well. If not you're going to end up stuck in Iraq."

That is what Senator Kerry said. He calls it a "botched joke" about the President. I call it disgraceful. When I first heard what he said, I could not believe my ears. What he said basically amounts to saying that the only people who would join the military are dumb or stupid. I honestly do not care if the Senator's comments were a lame attempt at a joke or not, what he actually said, came across as a slap in the face to men and women in uniform.

Let's not forget that Senator Kerry is the one that held the press conference and made this a bigger issue. Had he said that it was a botched joke and had he apologized to the troops for any offense he caused them, then he could have gone on whatever rant he would like against President Bush. Instead, Senator Kerry was defiant, asserting that he owes no one an apology.

Senator Kerry, instead of taking responsibility for his remarks - something that he constantly calls on President Bush to do - is blaming the President and Republicans for taking his words out of context. If that is the case, why then are candidates the Senator was supposed to campaign with, telling him to stay away? Why is Harold Ford calling for Kerry to apologize for his remarks as well? The head of the American Legion has asked for an apology. If his comments are out of context and the result of the "Republican hate-machine," why then would these others be calling on him to apologize?

Senator John McCain is also calling for an apology. The most respected man in the Senate is saying that Senator Kerry was out of line and should apologize.

In case anyone was actually curious about members of the military and their education, Department of Defense records show that 98% of enlisted personnel are high school graduates and 96% of the officer corps are college graduates. Those statistics are much higher than the American population at large. Dumb? Uneducated? I think not.

This is not about the President, the Republican Party, or even the Democratic Party, this is about Senator Kerry insinuating that the only people who would join the military to fight in Iraq are dumb and have no other choice.

Senator Kerry, you need to apologize. Now.

10.30.2006

Magnum deserves to go to Washington

Dave Magnum picked up a huge endorsement this weekend from the Wisconsin State Journal.

The reason this is such a big deal is that two years ago, Magnum lost by a large margin to Baldwin in the general election. Given that, and the overall "anti-Republican" sentiment of this election, why would the State Journal bother to endorse Magnum? Why not just endorse and Tammy and be done with it?

The answer is simple: Tammy doesn't live in the real world, Dave Magnum does.

The problem is that Tammy Baldwin is too far outside the mainstream to be of any use in Congress. The editorial board realized that our district deserves someone who can go to Congress to actually make a difference on issues that matter to all people. Magnum's real world experience on the issue of healthcare will help him make real progress on the issue, as opposed to Tammy's insistence on the idea of universal healthcare.

Magnum has been a proven job creator who knows what it takes to keep good jobs here in the state. Instead, Baldwin has said that Congress simply can't trust businesses to do right by their employees.

Magnum must meet a payroll every week and has never failed to do so; he understands what it means to make priorities and tough decisions to balance budgets. What has Baldwin done?

This endorsement also shows that Magnum has quite a bit of momentum going into Election Day. Contrary to popular belief, Republicans can win in the 2nd Congressional District. It's time that we had a real representative in Congress and not just a placeholder who attends ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

10.26.2006

Stem Cell debate deserves better...

The issue of stem cell research has gotten ugly lately. Michael J. Fox has now done an ad for the Doyle campaign about the importance of stem cell research for Parkinson's Disease. Rush Limbaugh has accused Fox of exaggerating his condition for sympathy and lost in all the rhetorical noise is the debate we should be having.

I have no problem with Michael J. Fox using his celebrity for a cause he believes in. He has done incredible charitable work through his foundation and should be praised as a fine human being for it. I watched my great-Uncle suffer through Parkinson's Disease for 20 years and it was hard enough to watch him suffer, let alone imagine what it was like to live with the disease.

Still, the debate over stem cell research has been so politicized that it is no longer an issue of what is best for the science and the research, but rather this has devolved into partisan bickering. Unfortunately, both Fox and Limbaugh have done nothing but make it worse. As I said, and I mean this with complete sincerity, Fox deserves all the credit in the world for raising awareness for Parkinson's and raising money for research into a cure for it. However, his celebrity does not excuse him from criticism. He has done interviews and appearances where his tremors are almost undetectable thanks to the medication he takes, yet in the commercial they are almost a distraction. Still, this for me is not an issue. I watched my Uncle have good days and bad for years, even on treatment.

This is where Limbaugh crossed the line. By accusing Fox of acting to exaggerate his tremors, Limbaugh made the issue the big bad Republican attacking a sick man. Not to mention the fact that it is inappropriate to accuse someone of exaggerating their condition to help their cause. Fox has done a lot of good, so to question his motives I think is wrong.

That said, the larger problem, and the reason that I think Fox shares some blame in this dust-up, are the claims made by Fox and others about the potential of stem cell research. What happens with these types of ads is that they create a false sense of hope. They create the sense that if only we have this research, there will be miracle cures for all of our worst afflictions. While there is some potential in stem cell research, most of the successful tests have actually come from adult and umbilical chord cells. No one in either party, to my knowledge, has suggested banning that research. Instead all stem cell research is lumped together as embryonic, and that is wrong because it obscures the debate we should be having.

There are moral and ethical questions surrounding embryonic stem cell research. Instead of grouping all stem cells together, we should be separating the embryonic research from the adult and umbilical chord research. We should continue the research on the other stem cells and try to find cures for Parkinson's and diabetes and Alzheimer's. But we must have a serious and honest debate on the potential and the implications of embryonic stem cell research.

We are talking about life and death with these issues, it is not something to be tossed around or diminished like we would a tax cut or a spending bill.

10.24.2006

Keep them in mind...

Taking a break from doing math I remembered that Veterans Day is coming up rather shortly... One thing leads to another and I was reading Medal of Honor citations. Some of them are just incredible. !S to the fallen and to those who have served (I'm looking at you Mike)...

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad InternationalAirport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Master Sergeant Gordon's sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew's weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, "good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Master Sergeant Gordon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.

Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, he retrieved the grenade, tucked it in to his stomach and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast. Sp4c. Santiago-Colón distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a gunner in the mortar platoon of Company B. While serving as a perimeter sentry, Sp4c. Santiago-Colón heard distinct movement in the heavily wooded area to his front and flanks. He alerted his fellow sentries in the area to move to their foxholes and remain alert for any enemy probing forces. From the wooded area around his position heavy enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire suddenly broke out, but extreme darkness rendered difficult the precise location and identification of the hostile force. Only the muzzle flashes from enemy weapons indicated their position. Sp4c. Santiago-Colón and the other members of his position immediately began to repel the attackers, utilizing hand grenades, antipersonnel mines and small-arms fire. Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire and exploding grenades around them, a North Vietnamese soldier was able to crawl, undetected, to their position. Suddenly, the enemy soldier lobbed a hand grenade into Sp4c. Santiago-Colón's foxhole. Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, Sp4c. Santiago-Colón retrieved the grenade, tucked it in to his stomach and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast. Heroic self-sacrifice saved the lives of those who occupied the foxhole with him, and provided them with the inspiration to continue fighting until they had forced the enemy to retreat from the perimeter. By his gallantry at the cost of his life and in the highest traditions of the military service, Sp4c. Santiago-Colón has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8 th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit's line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners. Corporal Rubin's gallant actions in close contact with the enemy and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation when his platoon was held up by a sudden barrage of hostile grenades while advancing toward the high ground northeast of Airfield Number One, Sergeant Gray promptly organized the withdrawal of his men from enemy grenade range, quickly moved forward alone to reconnoiter and discovered a heavily mined area extending along the front of a strong network of emplacements joined by covered communication trenches. Although assailed by furious gunfire, he cleared a path leading through the mine field to one of the fortifications then returned to the platoon position and, informing his leader of the serious situation, volunteered to initiate an attack while being covered by three fellow Marines. Alone and unarmed but carrying a twenty-four pound satchel charge, he crept up the Japanese emplacement, boldly hurled the short-fused explosive and sealed the entrance. Instantly taken under machine-gun fire from a second entrance to the same position, he unhesitatingly braved the increasingly vicious fusillades to crawl back for another charge, returned to his objective and blasted the second opening, thereby demolishing the position. Repeatedly covering the ground between the savagely defended enemy fortifications and his platoon area, he systematically approached, attacked and withdrew under blanketing fire to destroy a total of six Japanese positions, more than twenty-five of the enemy and a quantity of vital ordnance gear and ammunition. Stouthearted and indomitable, Sergeant Gray had single-handedly overcome a strong enemy garrison and had completely disarmed a large mine field before finally rejoining his unit and, by his great personal valor, daring tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of extreme peril, had contributed materially to the fulfillment of his company's mission. His gallant conduct throughout enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


10.23.2006

Why don't you answer the charge, Tammy?

Congresswoman Baldwin is mad. She is mad because someone had the audacity to call her out on her record.

The Magnum Campaign's newest commercial takes Baldwin to task about her vote against a mandatory minimum for child sex predators. Her response isn't about why she voted against the 5 year minimum; instead she blames a national effort to attack those who voted against it. Why not answer the charge Congresswoman? You obviously believe that you were right to vote against a mandatory minimum sentence for child sex predators, so why not trust the people of your district and explain your vote?

The answer is simple: Baldwin cannot explain away her vote. True, she voted for final passage of the larger bill, but she did vote against the harsher punishments for convicted child predators that have failed to fulfill their legal obligations. I think it is a very reasonable thing to point that out. Why would Baldwin believe that Judges are so much more qualified to hand out sentences than simply require a 5 year sentence to a convicted child molester?

We have all heard the stories of Judges in Vermont and Ohio handing down sentences of mere months for repeat child predators. If that is what some Judges believe is fair sentencing, I think that Congress has an obligation to step in and set down tough minimum sentences. Baldwin, however, thinks that only Judges are capable of making those decisions.

Instead of avoiding the charge, and claiming that she is victim of some sort of witch hunt, Baldwin should directly answer the question and explain her vote. However she won't because voters might actually say that her vote wasn't good enough.

As I cast my vote against the ban...

There are plenty of good religious arguments supporting bans on gay marriage, but they fall on deaf ears to those who are not of certain religious sentiments. The same goes for bans on civil unions that might enable homosexuals to obtain the legal equivalent of marriage, and the benefits as such, but under a different more neutral name.

From my standpoint, however, I am perfectly fine with both gay marriage and civil unions, since for me the religious arguments are not convincing. After all, my philosophy of life, for better or worse is not informed by religion whatsoever. If it was I might have a very different perspective.

At the same time there are additional reasons why I am a supporter of civil unions. In short they are a very useful method to extend legal privileges to non-heterosexual couples that better ensure the individual's ability to discover their philosophical preferences and act upon them within a homosexual relationship and/or as a homosexual foster parent.

All this is not to say that I don't see where the more radical points of view, points of view that I disagree with, on both sides of the debate are coming from. There are definitely well intentioned arguments for a federal amendment legalizing gay marriage and equalizing civil unions just as there are well intentioned religious arguments for banning gay marriage through the same means (note for me the religious arguments are ones informed by religion, and religion only, not pseudo-sociology, psycology, and anthropology studies that proclaim emancipated gays make bad parents, will cause incest and bestiality, and are more likely to molest kids).

Where I must strongly criticize the radicals in this debate is in their partisanship... While politicians and advocacy groups in DC, Madison, and across the country spend great time and energy (at a great opportunity cost) pushing no and yes stances for gay marriage and civil union bans year after year, much like Abortion, this "social values issue" easily distracts the political discourse from finding solutions to the very issues that allow us the opportunity to passionately discuss such "social values" at all i.e. economics, foreign policy, national security, fiscal policy, civil liberties, etc.

While I applaud standing up for what myself and others may see as a sensible policy (allowing gay marriage and civil unions) do not let issues like this make you lose site of what in the big picture matters most, unless you want to become yet another reason why the American political discourse has become so repetitive and futile at solving for issues that allow us the luxury of focusing on partisan social issues in the first place.

…And as I cast my vote against the ban this November I will keep this reservation in mind...

Election not as bad as some think

The Republicans will lose some seats this year in the House of Representatives, but they will not lose the House. The Senate is not even in play.

Despite all the scandals and controversies plaguing Congress there is no way the Democrats will take control of the House. Unlike 1994, the Democrats do not have a coherent message that effectively nationalizes the congressional campaign. The only issue that they have found to run is hatred of President Bush and the Republicans and that is not an issue that will resonate beyond their base.

Most voters need something more than hate to vote for a candidate or party. Most voters need a reason to vote for, not against, someone. What have the Democrats offered voters in terms of hope or direction? The answer is nothing. Nothing but investigations and show trials against the Bush administration.

There may be some districts in the nation where Republicans do not intend to vote, but that does not translate into a national trend. Wisconsin is a perfect example. Here we have a governor who has sold our state to the highest bidder, chased jobs away at an alarming rate (1,000 in the last month), and done nothing to fix our budget deficit. Republicans in this state are energized and ready to elect a Republican governor and attorney general.

All politics is local, and the Democrats have done nothing to nationalize the election or even make an effective case for what they will do better or different if elected.

10.19.2006

St. Norbert's Poll Way Off

St. Norbert's should really stop conducting polls. For at least the last 3 election cycles, their polls have been consistently off. Not by 3-5 points, but by much, much more.

The most recent poll by St. Norbert's was released on the heels of several others. The widest margin by any of the other polls was 6%, that was a Research 2000 poll. The latest Rasmussen and Zogby polls, both of which are nationally respected firms that are usually quite accurate, place the race much tighter.

The Zogby poll shows a margin of only 2%.

The point behind all this is that Mark Green is gaining momentum. Despite them constant smear campaign by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Governor Doyle's campaign Wisconsin voters are growing tired of life with Doyle in the Governor's office.

Maybe it is the case that the voters are more intelligent than the Democrats give them credit for, and understand that a change is needed.

10.17.2006

How out of touch is Tammy Baldwin?

Our government is designed as a representative democracy. Our representatives and senators are supposed to be in touch with the district that they represent. Unfortunately, our congresswoman is drastically out of touch.

Take for instance:
  • While the rest of us were struggling with $3+ gas prices, Baldwin voted herself a raise - to $168,500. Wisconsin Democrats Dave Obey and Ron Kind didn't do it. Baldwin did.
  • Despite the continued violence directed at the new government in Iraq, Baldwin insists that the military mission in Iraq is over. That's right, according to Tammy Baldwin, there is no function our military can serve in Iraq.
  • Baldwin insists that she has broad support for her healthcare initiatives, yet her definition of that broad bipartisan support is the help of only two Republicans for her latest attempt at universal healthcare.
  • Baldwin was one of only 22 members of the House of Representatives to vote against commemorating the observance of the 5 year anniversary of September 11.
  • Baldwin is so completely ineffective in Congress that she ranks 424 out of 438 members of Congress for power and effectiveness. Dave Obey ranks 9th. There is no partisanship there.
  • She voted against a bill requiring mandatory minimum sentences for child sexual predators, stating that instead judges are more competent to administer sentences. The same judges that in Vermont and Ohio gave sentences of less than 2 or 3 months for repeat child molesters.

Tammy Baldwin does not understand life in the real world. While you and I struggle with increased tuition and rent payments, she votes herself a raise. She brags about the money she has returned to this district yet Wisconsin ranks 47 out of 50 in federal money returned to the state. I don't think that I would brag about that if I were a congressman.

10.13.2006

The Dishonesty of the Left

This election year has been filled with more mud-slinging and dishonesty than I have ever seen before. Not surprisingly, most of it comes from the left.

First and foremost, look at what the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Gov. Doyle's campaign have done to Mark Green's record. Every day they portray Green as an extreme member of the Republican Party and a dangerous choice for Wisconsin. The Left's main charges are grossly exaggerated.

Take the charge we here on Campus that Green has cut financial aid. The truth is that federal financial aid has increased significantly during the time Green has been in Congress. Those cuts people are talking about is the difference between Democratic and Republican increases in the programs. What about Green increasing tuition? Well, Green is in Congress and cannot raise tuition, the final say on tuition increases actually comes from the Board of Regents and the Governor's office, and we know that Governor Doyle is the one who has allowed tuition to rise over 50% in the last four years.

The other major charge, that Green has "dirty" money is absurd. Green legally raised all of his money, followed a quarter of a century of precedent and transferred money from a federal to a state campaign. It is the same thing Mayor Barrett did 4 years ago. The State Elections Board was lobbied by a Doyle Campaign lawyer about the PR implications and did not have a rule prohibiting the transfer until after the transfer took place.

The distortion and desperation has gotten so bad that DPW even tried to link Green to the Mark Foley scandal.

The dishonesty, however, is not just in how the Left portrays its opponents' records, but also their own record.

Gov. Doyle's assertion that he has balanced the budget is ridiculous. He played a shell game of postponing payments and shifting budgets to "balance" this year's budget, but we still face a deficit of over $1 billion at the end of the 2-year budget cycle. The Gov. talks about all the "tough choices" he has made to cut spending in the state. If that is true, how come overall state spending has increased in the neighborhood of 20% during his term in office? The truth is, one of the only places he actually cut is the UW System budget to the tune of $250 million. The Gov. trumpets his signing of the first state-wide property-tax "freeze." The truth behind that statement is he vetoed a tighter property-tax freeze twice before finally signing a very weak and watered down version.

The Left, as usual, is ready and willing to say and do anything to get elected here in Wisconsin. Think about why Gov. Doyle and the DPW are focusing so much on painting Green as an extreme guy. The reason is that Gov. Doyle has not led our state well and we are not better off for it.

10.06.2006

Tammy Baldwin: What have you done for us lately?

Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of commercials for 2nd Congressional District candidate Dave Magnum. He has visited Campus 3 times already this semester, including a 90 minute open forum where students asked him all sorts of questions about his positions.

But where is his opponent, our Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin? Has she even visited Campus yet, or run a single commercial? Has she allowed herself to be extensively questioned by students, even her supporters? Not that I know of, but hey, I could be wrong.

I went to Baldwin's website earlier today just to see what was going on with her campaign, and saw a section on her accomplishments. Being a curious person, I checked out her "accomplishments," and I found nothing. That's right, nothing. Aside from securing $150 million dollars over 8 years for the district, she has no real accomplishments. There are no bills signed into law, no reform initiatives, nothing. Sure, she has a list of endorsements, but show me one Democrat in the State of Wisconsin that doesn't have every union endorsing them. Baldwin's endorsements are standard for virtually any liberal running for federal office.

Baldwin lists health care as first and foremost of her issues, and not just health care but health care for all. She cites the millions of uninsured Americans and talks about the importance of making sure that everyone has adequate health care. That's all well and good, but what has Baldwin done about it? Why isn't there a bullet point under her accomplishments that mentions her work on this issue? Could it be the fact that she has done nothing to actually fix the problem?

Baldwin has had 8 years in the House to do something about these issues that she says are so important to her, yet she has not delivered.

I think that raises some serious questions. She is going to be on Campus tonight for a concert in her honor, does anyone think she would answer some of the questions I have asked here?

She is our representative in Congress, and that means she works for us. Shouldn't we ask her what she has actually done, instead of just talking about the problems?

10.05.2006

Keep the Foley Scandal in Context

Recent press releases by Governor Doyle's campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin have been attacking Congressman Green over the Foley/Page scandal. Although what Foley did was inexcusable and despicable, the idea of blaming Green and Speaker Hastert for what he did is absolutely pathetic.

First, the Democrats wanted to lay blame on Green because he is part of the House leadership. However, that doesn't stick because no one has ever mentioned Green as one of the House Republicans who new about the e-mails between Foley and the page. These e-mails were not only known by Hastert, but by newspapers in Foley's home state of Florida. Although the e-mails were considered overly friendly, neither the papers, Hastert, or the page's family saw any need to pursue the situation, other than to ask Foley not to contact the page any more. It was not until after an ABC news story that the more explicit and vulgar Instant Messages came to light.

Now, it seems that because Hastert knew the e-mails existed, Green must return any and all money he received from the Speaker because it is now "tainted."

Let's look at that money for a second; the last time Green accepted PAC money from Hastert was in 2001, well before he ever learned of the e-mails between Foley and the page. So money that Green received long before anything bad or improper even could have happened must now be returned. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

To the larger point though, why should Hastert resign? So far, what he has admitted knowing about, the e-mails not the IMs, was not enough for him to move to have Foley expelled from Congress. Newspapers in Florida knew of the same e-mails that the Speaker did, and they too concluded that there wasn't enough there to do anything with.

Also, this notion that Green donated Foley PAC money to charity only after "mounting criticism" is absurd. Green announced he would divest the money yesterday. Foley only resigned on Friday of last week. If you ask me that is fairly fast in the political world.

So, why pin all this on Mark Green's shoulders? Simple really. Governor Doyle is not interested in a debate about taxes, jobs, tuition, health care or anything else that actually matters in a Governor's race. No, instead Doyle is trying to run against the failings of others in Congress or the White House in the hopes that he can tie Green to them.

In this most recent attempt, let's all remember who the villain is: Mark Foley. Not Mark Green.

The Problem with Seg Fees

ASM, like any government, taxes its constituents (that's us, the students). What is different is that our taxes come in the form of segregated fees that are included in our tuition statements, not taken out in our paychecks.

True, like most taxes our fees do go towards things like health care and transportation. By and large, I have no problem with funding the UW Health Clinics because they allow students to receive basic health care without buying high-priced insurance. Our bus passes are also good for students so that they need not walk alone at night or long distances in the cold winters.

However, there are many other things our taxes pay for that are not good.

Imagine, if you will, that the State of Wisconsin decided that taxes it collected from all citizens in the State were going to fund advocacy groups. Starting in the next fiscal year groups such as Wisconsin Right to Life, the Wisconsin ACLU, Citizens for Responsible Government, Fair Wisconsin, and any other organization you can think of, are now eligible to receive funding from the State. Your hard earned money is now going to groups that you may not agree with, or in some cases vehemently oppose.

Is that fair?

Should any group get funding simply because they do not discriminate in their membership?

The answer is no. We have groups that advocate sex, safe sex to be sure, but in essence they advocate have sex. Should we allow funding to a group that advocates abstinence?

We have many, many groups whose expressed purpose are to promote equality and diversity. Yet those groups divide themselves along racial and ethnic lines. Why is this? If the goal is to promote and encourage diversity of all kinds then why do they insist on segregating themselves?

The solution to this problem is either do away with funding altogether, except of course the Health Clinics, Bus passes, Student Unions, and similar services, or provide an opt-out system.

The opt-out system is the best way, allow the taxpayers (in this case, students) to decide which groups, if any, are important enough to receive their funding. Of course the response is that this would destroy the Student Orgs, but if the groups are not providing services that students believe are worth funding, should the groups deserve the funding in the first place?

This is an issue that is going to come to the surface soon, and we need to be ready to have a serious debate about these issues.

9.28.2006

Doyle responsible for $250 million cut to UW budget

In today's Badger Herald, the vice-chair of the College Democrats accused Republicans of distorting Governor Doyle's record when it comes to UW System budgets. In the op-ed piece, Doyle is not responsible for the massive cuts to the University System or the resulting tuition hikes. No, all of that is the result of those mean and nasty Republicans in the state legislature.

Unfortunately, the truth is not as pleasant as the Democrats would like to believe it.

The truth of the matter is that in Doyle's 2003 budget he proposed a $250 million cut in the UW System budget. The cuts were part of his attempt to erase a $3.2 billion deficit and were eventually passed by the Republican controlled legislature. So yes, Republicans did pass the cuts, but the original cuts were proposed and signed by the Governor.

Doyle has also been responsible for appointing members of the Board of Regents for the past 4 years. Those appointees are the ones who have proposed our tuition increases that are in danger of pricing college out of reach for most Wisconsin families. As I have said before, the Regents would rather simply raise our tuition than save some money by cutting administrative costs.

In the same budget that Doyle cut $250 million, he raised financial aid only $23 million dollars. That doesn't sound like a comparable increase to me.

No one disputes that tuition has gone up 55% under Governor Doyle's administration. So why can't Democrats admit that he is responsible for the cuts that led to those increases as well?

As college students we should remember that this Governor promised us that he would not allow the Regents to pass budget cuts on to us in the form of tuition increases. Of course, that was when he was candidate Doyle and needed our help to be elected. Now, in another election year, he is banking on us to have forgotten his promises.

Governor Doyle is not a friend of students, he is not a friend of taxpayers, he is only a friend to those he needs to stay in office. Even then, the devotion only lasts until after the election, or after the check clears.

9.26.2006

Judge denies Green, but doesn't address the problem

A Dane County Judge has now ruled that Mark Green cannot keep the nearly $468,000 that the State Elections Board declared illegal. At first it seems as though this is case closed and we can all put this matter behind us.

Unfortunately, as in all politics, things are never as they seem.

The real problem with Judge Neiss' ruling is that it does not address the actions of the Elections Board at all. Instead, Judge Neiss buys into the Justice Department's argument that the Elections Board ruling doesn't matter. No, the incorporation of the federal McCain/Feingold act makes any transfer between Green's federal and state campaigns illegal.

The only real problem with that whole argument is that it ignores facts in the case. If the new federal guidelines were truly the governing law, then why didn't the Elections Board mention it in its rulings? Why then, when the Green campaign notified the Board that it would be transferring funds from the congressional to gubernatorial campaigns, did the Board not tell Green right away that a transfer is out of the question?

What about the fact that, initially, the Board expressed no problems with Green's conversion? What about the fact that the Board changed its rules after the conversion took place?

The ruling by Judge Neiss does not address the central question of the Elections Board's actions and if anything he only made this whole issue that much more controversial and divisive. It is apparent now that the only body that is going to be able to resolve this is the State Supreme Court.

Green notified the Elections Board that he would be transferring the money. The Board said nothing about it until after it passed a new rule after the transfer took place. The money in question was legally raised according to federal law before being transferred. Now we have e-mails from a Doyle campaign lawyer that urged the Board to rule against Green if for no other reason than a PR victory for Doyle.

It never ceases to amaze me to what lengths this Governor is willing to go to take attention off himself and his record of failure and deception.

9.24.2006

Clinton's interview obscures real debate

I watched Chris Wallace's interview with former President Clinton today, and I have to say that I was very surprised by the President's reaction.

First off, I don't blame President Clinton for 9/11. No one, and I mean no one, in the 1990s realized how much of a threat Bin Laden and Al Qaeda really were. There are a lot of people who should have connected the dots but didn't.

However, I was struck by how personally Clinton took the question about Bin Laden. He became extremely defensive and lashed out at Wallace as taking orders from right-wing leaders. Clinton complained about everything and everyone it seemed and was more concerned about another "right-wing conspiracy" that is out to damage his legacy.

I understand President Clinton's concern about his legacy. For an attack like 9/11 to occur so shortly after his presidency, there surely must have been planning and training taking place during his time in office. I suspect that Clinton feels some sort of guilt for not doing enough to prevent it. He even admitted that he "tried and failed" to catch or kill Bin Laden. Had he stopped there, I believe he would have come across extremely well, but instead he went the extra step to qualify his answers with "they failed, too."

It really is a shame that instead of being humble or contrite, President Clinton chose to lash out at his critics. Instead of staying above the partisan bickering, he chose to jump in the middle of it. Instead of putting this behind him, he will only make it worse for himself.

President Clinton's response also only obscures what the debate should be all about. The real debate should not be about who is to blame for the attacks on 9/11, but rather about how to deal with the threats now.

No one truly understood the threat we faced before 9/11, but now that we do let's deal with it and not point fingers.

9.21.2006

Baldwin's rhetoric doesn't match actions

This morning, Tammy Baldwin insisted on Wisconsin Public Radio that she "strenuously supports" active duty military personnel.

Really? It's news to me.

I myself am a veteran. I still serve in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Baldwin spoke at two send-off ceremonies for my unit and told the soldiers and their families that they could count on her for anything we could need during our deployments. She lied to all of us.

She told us we could count on her, yet she voted against an $87 billion supplemental spending bill (and other subsequent supplemental bills) that ultimately provided the funding that gave us the armor for our vehicles and improved the quality of our equipment. Why, if she supports us so much, would she vote against something that ultimately protects lives?

Baldwin continuously talks about withdrawing, or "redeploying" out of Iraq because she supports the troops. What about those of us who have served over there and don't want to leave until the job is done? Or what about those who died fighting, have they all died in vain?

What Baldwin's votes against supplemental spending for the War in Iraq amounts to is an attempt to force us out by cutting off our funding. If she is truly against the War, take it out on the President but do not take it out on the troops.

Supporting the troops does not mean asking them to quit before the job is done. Supporting the troops means giving them the tools and the funding that they need in order to accomplish their mission. I don't care what Baldwin thinks of the President or the reasons for going to Iraq in the first place. Those are questions for another time.

As a member of Congress she needs to realize that supporting the troops means more than rhetoric. It takes more than just saying you care about the soldiers and their families. If Baldwin truly supports the troops then she should do it with her actions not just empty rhetoric. She should not deny us funding that we need for our mission.

Personally, I am tired of liberals like Baldwin who hide behind the rhetoric of supporting our troops in order to call for the retreat and surrender of our forces in Iraq. It's dishonest and we should expect more from our Congresswoman.

9.16.2006

Not again...

5 churches attacked in Palestinian areas following Pope's comments on Islam
Sep 16 12:31 PM US/Eastern


Italian Nun Shot Dead by Gunmen

While I must totally agree that both the Muhammad cartoons and the Pope's remarks in contention should have never taken place, and could only cause and have caused hurt (arguably due to their inherent verbal intolerance)...

The violent reactions to them by certain elements of Islamic socieities are ridiculous, intolerant, and inexcusable. The fact that a significant component of the violence so far in response to the Pope's remarks has primarily been against Greek Orthodox and Anglican Churches in the Palestinian Territorities makes even less sense, seeing as the comments in dispute were made by a Roman Catholic. At the same time, how killing a Nun was necessary, the fact that she was working at the only hospital in the area being ignore, is beyond me.

Unfortuntely for the world reputation of Muslims (in my opinion the vast majority of which are tolerant of speech and peaceful), this YTMND has a point...

I typically don't buy into Lewis and Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory, infact I am more of a Marxist and Hero theorist when it comes to historical analysis (I am not a Marxist politically nor economically speaking, for as most of you know in American politics I would be considered center-right, however, in analysing history I often look at events through the lens of class struggles)... but these two trends of violence this past year can't really be described by anything else...


9.11.2006

Remembering 9/11

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it has already been five years.

I was a freshman in September of 2001. I had just finished an NROTC class at 8:35 in the morning when upperclassmen were telling us all to go to our dorms and turn on the news. My first glimpse of the World Trade Center, billowing smoke and debris, was in the cafeteria at Frank's Place by the lakeshore dorms. I couldn't finish eating, so I went straight back to my room to watch everything unfold.

There were a half dozen of us in my dorm room when the first tower fell. The only words any of us could manage were: "Oh, my God."

What sticks out most in my mind, besides the horror of seeing the nation under attack, are the images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that day. As the towers fell and smoke and debris flowed down the streets of New York, heroes rushed in to save as many as they could. Many gave their lives to try and save the ones who were trapped inside.

I remember that it was a day that we put politics aside. The sight of Congress on the steps of the Capitol spontaneously singing "God Bless America" was one of the most moving things I have ever seen.

The story of Flight 93, and Todd Beamer's immortal words: "Let's roll."

Ordinary people became heroes when they refused to give up without a fight.

Let us never forget what happened that day. Let us always remember that our differences didn't seem so important afterward. What was important was that we would survive and that for a brief time, we were closer as a nation than ever before.

The love and kindness we showed one another five years ago was not a fluke. It was real and I pray that we find it again soon.

9.09.2006

Governor Doyle is the real culprit in budget cuts

I am beginning to feel like a broken record on this, but after the College Democrats' recent press release I simply cannot stay silent.

Gubenatorial candidate Mark Green unveiled his plan for the UW System last week. In it he calls for many things that he believes would help the UW continue to be one of the nation's top university systems. Although none of his press releases or public statements mention cuts in the UW System budget, the UW College Democrats claim that Green will cut the budget by "$100 million." I have gone over and over Green's proposals and I don't see any cuts, none.

On the contrary, Green proposes limiting tuition hikes to the rate of inflation. Now, under Governor Doyle tuition has increased by more than 50%, quite a bit more than the rate of inflation. If Green were interested in cutting the budget wouldn't he propose keeping tuition stagnant, or even cut? Also, the College Dems assert that a Green plan "would also mean deep cuts to financial aid and student scholarships." Oh, really? Green's plan actually calls for a state law that would require financial aid to increase at the same rate that tuition increases. This would ensure that those students who receive financial aid continue to be able to afford to attend our high-quality universities.

Mark Green also proposes to build on current regional research programs at UW campuses around the state. These programs are designed so that the College and the community work together to their mutual benefit. Again, Green talks of building onto current programs, not tearing them down.

In fact, the only time that Green mentions budget cuts is when he points out, quite correctly, that under Doyle state spending has increased 20% while the UW System has been cut $341 million. Yes, the Republicans control the Legislature but Doyle holds the most powerful veto pen in the nation. If Doyle really wanted to do something he could have vetoed the cuts without harming anything else. So who really is gutting the UW System?

Bottom line is this: The UW System is the only place to receive massive budget cuts under Jim Doyle. Why? Because Doyle believes that we are the one constituency group that will blindly follow him and keep him in office.

Think about it. We are the ones paying for the cuts.

9.07.2006

Conservatives on Campus: Stand up and be heard

This is going to be a great semester on Campus.

I can say that without reservation because the fight for the political fight for the future of the Campus and the University and the State has already begun. In the lecture halls of the Humanities building I found fliers telling me all about the importance of the gay marriage amendment and the WUD referendum and countless other things that I really didn't care about. I read signs and posters about the "socialist alternative" to current world problems and walked over chalkings that through some odd equation make Governor Doyle equal students' rights, a fair Wisconsin, and voting rights.

The problem with all of this is simple: where is the other side?

The Democrats and socialists and anarchists have all hit the ground running this semester with the propaganda war, but the Republicans and conservatives on Campus - myself included - are deafeningly silent. We need to speak up, and now.

Take for instance the chalkings and posters about what a great guy Governor Doyle is for students. Such a statement is absurd. Under Doyle's leadership our tuition has gone up 55% since he took office, something he promised as candidate Doyle would never happen. Doyle has consistently increased state spending while consistently cut the UW budget. How is he a friend of the students?

How does Doyle make this a fair Wisconsin? The tax burden is so great that businesses (places that would give us jobs as college graduates) are leaving the state. How is that fair to those of us who have spent 4 or 5 years studying in Wisconsin's universities to not have the jobs available to us in our own state? Would a fair Wisconsin continue to raise tuition enough so as to price it out of reach for working families, while at the same time cutting tuition for out-of-state students? I realize that "fair Wisconsin" is the catch-phrase for the anti-gay marriage amendment campaign, but shouldn't a truly fair Wisconsin be much more than that?

We are facing some very serious issues in this coming election. We have a Governor who thinks we are too stupid to remember the promises he made 4 years ago, a Congresswoman who takes our support on Campus for granted, and the serious issue of gay marriage in our state.

As conservatives on this Campus, we cannot sit on the sidelines simply because the other side is yelling loudly. We owe to our fellow students to stand up a be voice a reason and alternative. Not with silly slogans and empty rhetoric, but with what we know to be right.

We have let the liberals on this Campus have the spotlight for far too long.

9.04.2006

Movie to see: Talvisota - The Winter War

This is a very good Finnish flick on the Winter War which took place from November 30th, 1939 through March 13th, 1940 between Finland and the Soviet Union.

"This film tells the story of a Finnish platoon of reservists from the municipality of Kauhava in the province of Pohjanmaa/Osttrobottnia who leave their homes and go to war. The film focuses on the farmer brothers Martti and Paavo Hakala."

Check out a clip of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6uU4-htcWg


BTW I apologize for not being around as of late. Real life duties always take priority and they have kept me from posting much for the last three weeks. If I am not able to work out a consistent posting regiment during the school year I will either have someone else take my spot on LIB or with Mike and Erick's agreement add more posters to the blog and retreat into the background, only to post twice a month or so.

8.31.2006

Who is the real loser in Elections Board ruling?

Yesterday, the State Elections Board ruled that Congressman Mark Green violated state election law by transferring money from his federal campaign to his gubernatorial campaign. Since then the Governor's campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin have gone for Green's jugular, trying to paint him as a corrupt and dishonest politician. At first glance it looks pretty bad for Green, doesn't it?

Well, it is but not for the reasons you would think.

It is not a good thing that with just over 2 months to election day Green is being accused of committing a crime. It is not good that the media and Doyle's campaign are going to be blasting away nonstop at Green. The problem is that Green really didn't do anything wrong.

In 2001, another sitting congressman named Tom Barrett was also running for Governor. Like Green, Barrett also transferred large sums of money from his congressional campaign to his campaign for Governor. Just like now, Doyle's campaign cried foul, the difference is that back then the Elections Board dismissed the case. In other words, Barrett did the same thing as Green and there was nothing wrong.

Well, what has changed since then? Not much. Democrats I am sure will point to a rule change that was passed by the Elections Board in January of 2005, and say that Green's transfer violated that rule. What is being neglected is the fact that this supposedly illegal transfer took place before the rule change. Imagine that. The media circus makes it sound like the money was transferred last week, doesn't it?

What troubles me most about this is that now Governor Doyle is going to portray Green as the corrupt, bought-and-paid-for politician. In reality, Governor Doyle has some ethics problems of his own he needs to answer: the appearance of pay for play politics in state contracts, and the unconstitutional gaming compacts he negotiated for starters.

This ruling is only going to make the race for Governor dirtier and more vindictive. The real issues of our tax hell, our poor school report, and our ailing economy will all be lost amid cries of who is for sale to the highest bidder.

The real loser in all that is you and me, the voters.

8.21.2006

Regents' Wish List sounds nice, but it's going to cost us

The UW System Board of Regents announced its budget request for 2007-09 last Thursday, and despite a lot of flowery rhetoric about "reinvestment" in the State the Regents still do not get it.

The term "reinvestment" is misleading, what they really plan on doing is spending more money. While no one will argue with the stated goals of the Regents (who would argue with recruiting and retaining better students and faculty or meeting State needs in the healthcare and education arenas?), I do have a problem with the amount of new money they are asking for. In addition to $120 million new tax dollars, they are asking for at least $135 million dollars in new State-funded bonding. In effect, what the Regents are really asking for is a $255 million dollar budget increase.

This is neither good nor responsible for a State that is currently facing another budget shortfall of anywhere from $1.5 to $2.4 billion dollars at the end of this biennium.

The problem I see is that the Regents are again taking the easy way out. I find it hard to believe that there are no places to save money within a budget of nearly $8 billion. With its talk of wanting to bring more jobs into the State and ending the "brain drain" we suffer from, maybe the Regents should be focusing on lessening their impact on our tax burden by trimming some operating costs or seeking private investment and partnerships. Instead, the Regents are content to simply ask the State to not only give them more money, but borrow more for them. The $135 million in new bonding will end up costing much, much more than that by the time the interest is paid in full. And because our State's bond rating is so bad (we are in the bottom 5 states in the nation) it will cost a lot more than it should. Just because students who attend the UW have to go into debt to pay for college doesn't mean the UW System should too.

Also, with the Republican-dominated State Assembly, do the Regents honestly think that they can get this increased spending? There is no chance for the Regents' budget to make it through the Assembly. What will the Regents do then? Will they scale back their lofty goals, or will they do what they have always done and make us pay for it with more and more tuition?

I think we all know who will end up paying for the Regents' "Growth Agenda." It won't be the State, it won't be bonds, it certainly won't be the Regents themselves. Once again those of us whom the University is supposed to serve, the students, will end up footing the bill.

8.02.2006

Is this the end of Communism in Cuba?

Fidel Castro surprised a lot of people the other day when he temporarily transferred authority to his brother, Raul. Understandably, Cuban-Americans were celebrating the fact that this may mark the beginning of the end of Castro's repressive 47 year dictatorship. I hope that they are right.

However, if this is the beginning of the end, we must be careful in how we approach the transition of power. It is my hope that the dissidents in Cuba will be able to demand and get democratic reforms out of the next dictator, but I doubt they can do it themselves. Raul Castro does control the military and would not give up power without a fight.

Like most transitions of power in authoritarian countries, no one in Cuba will be able to have the same level of power or legitimacy as Fidel, and that is the best hope for democratic reformers. Our responsibility, and the rest of the free world, is the same we had in Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union collapsed. We must be ready with aid and investment to help new democratic leaders. Thankfully, I believe that many governments and private businesses are ready to invest in a free and democratic Cuba.

Communism may not yet be dead in Cuba, but there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. If the world handles this correctly, the people of Cuba will soon have a government of their own choosing that will benefit all people and not just those who sit at the top.

Too Little, Too Late, Governor

It's amazing. The Governor has finally lived up to a campaign promise from 4 years ago. Well, not really, but at least he tried right?

When Governor Doyle was still candidate Doyle four years ago he stood on campus and told us and the state that he would not allow UW budget cuts to be passed on to the students in the form of tuition increases. I was hopeful that he might actually try to follow through with it, at least a little bit anyway. Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Since Gov. Doyle has been in office tuition has increased from $2212.95 per semester in Spring of '03, to $3365.12 when classes start again in the Fall. That's an increase of 65% over just two-and-a-half years. Sounds to me like the Gov. was really working hard to keep his promise doesn't it?

Now he has asked the Board of Regents to keep college affordable, and limit tuition increases to inflation.

Why now does Gov. Doyle want to limit tuition to the rate of inflation? Why now, after 3 years of constant rate hikes, does this issue finally mean something to him? The answer is simple: Gov. Doyle is in the political fight for his life. He realizes that without strong support from us, the college students across the state, he cannot hope to win. I beg you all, do not fall for this last ditch effort.

The Gov. is not interested in helping us pay for college. If he were he would have used his veto pen on the budgets passed by the legislature, or appointed Regents who were serious about keeping our school affordable. Gov. Doyle quite frankly is betting that we won't remember and that we will give him credit for "trying."

Gov. Doyle is betting that none of us will remember the promises he made 4 years ago. He is betting that we will blame the mean and nasty Republicans for passing the budgets. Well I haven't forgot, and I know who to blame. Gov. Doyle signs the budgets, he holds the most powerful veto pen in the nation, and he appoints the men and women who set our tuition rates.

Gov. Doyle, this is just too little, too late.

7.26.2006

Attn. Democrats: Don't sacrifice Lieberman

Last night on the news I saw a Quinnipiac poll that put Sen. Joe Lieberman 4 points behind liberal challenger Ned Lamont. I have to say that I was disappointed.

Sen. Lieberman, although I do not agree with him on all issues, is a man of integrity and courage. He stands up firmly for what he believes in and in my opinion is among the best in the Senate. If he loses this primary in August it will be the single worst thing the Democrats can do for themselves. To be perfectly honest, the Republicans should not be able to hold both Houses of Congress this year. The Democrats, if they were intelligent, should be able to capitalize on public discontent with the current Party in power. However, they will not.

The Democrats have no hope of taking back Congress for the exact reason of what is going in Connecticut. Rather than getting behind a man who is possibly one of the most respected men in Washington, the Democratic party is allowing him to be thrown to the wolves simply because he is in support of the War in Iraq.

What strikes me most though is the disregard some of the "leaders" of the Democratic Party have shown for their long-time colleague. Al Gore refused to support his former running-mate because Gore apparently does not weigh-in on primaries. Funny, Gore tried to be King-maker in 2004 when he endorsed Howard Dean for President. John Kerry, Lieberman's Senate colleague also claims he does not comment on contested primaries, yet just a month ago was in Virginia campaigning for Senate candidate Jim Webb. Why the sudden change of heart? Is the Democratic Party so closed and vindictive that no difference of opinion can exist among its members?

Consider a similar situation in the Republican Party two years ago. When Sen. Arlen Specter faced a stiff primary challenge from the far-right of the Party, did GOP leaders stay silent? No, they campaigned hard for their friend and colleague. President Bush spent considerable time in Pennsylvania. Sen. Specter's fellow Senator Rick Santorum also campaigned heavily for him, despite many ideological differences. Specter is considered one of the more liberal or moderate Republicans in the Senate yet Santorum, or staunch conservative, gladly campaigned on his behalf. Why? Because despite their differences, Sen. Specter is a capable man of integrity who has served his constituents well.

The Democrats would do well to learn that lesson. The key to political success is not a single a party of only one mind, but a party in which diversity of opinion is accepted. Sen. Lieberman may not agree with the Democratic Party on Iraq, but probably on 75-80% of everything else he does. Isn't it more important to have a person in office that stands up for principle and conviction than simply towing the Party line?

My hope is that the Democratic Party is not so short-sighted as to take its anger at President Bush out on Sen. Lieberman. A man who has devoted his adult life to public service and the Democratic Party deserves much better, and so does this nation.