Return of the Mac


Not only has Mac VerStandig, editor-in-chief of The Badger Herald, been labeled a writer for The Mendota Beacon online - now it looks like he's working for The Daily Cardinal:
"Daily Cardinal editor Mac VerStandig expands the discussion on his blog “The Right Side of the Road” by pointing out that many newspaper editors, such as himself, run blogs where they advocate for candidates and see the blog as an extension of their newspaper work..."
I hope Dane101 realizes its not-so-slight error. He's a multi-talented character, though, that Mac.

This one might require a cigar and a phone call, I'm thinking.

Where in Madison?

Trim that Bush: some initial thoughts

I wasn't able to make it to the Greenbush neighborhood meeting last night, and I don't live in the neighborhood anyway, but that doesn't mean that I won't still butt in on the conversation.

My first concern is twofold: a) will this proposal raise the cost of housing, driving the student population out of the area, and b) will the proposal spur the same gentrification that King railes against (and with which I can sympathise occasionally)? I suspect that with greater business flowing into Regent Street, even if only on the North side of the street, it will indeed become more expensive to live in the neighboring Greenbush. Rising prices mean that the students who live there now - generally not the wealthiest people to begin with - will be forced out. This presents multiple problems: first, we really don't need coasties moving out of their ghetto on Langdon. Second, the only housing being built right now is high-price high-rises - which will still be less affordable than the Greenbush. The scenario that could result from this is an increased pressure on dorms, as some students choose to opt for a single room in a dorm rather than move into the increasingly expensive 'Bush. That puts greater pressure on the University, already strapped for cash and in the middle of a building boom, to build even more dorms. And that's the best-case scenario. The worst case would be a student takeover of Library Mall and the creation of a semi-permanent shantytown there. (Yes, I'm joking, but repercussions need thinking about before we spend money.)

Another cncern is the character of the neighborhood now. Regent is home to some really cherished Madison institutions - I spent the summer cruising around on a red bike from Budget Bicycle. But the place seems to be improving on its own - thanks, I would suspect, to relatively cheap land prices. Look at Indie Cafe, which seems to be a sign of encroaching hipness in the area. Given time, the street could well blend its currently-attractive blue-collar feel with Indie Cafe-style influences.

That ties in with my next concern - that this came out of nowhere. Maybe King has gotten complaints from local businesses - and I don't doubt him when he says he has - but there certainly has not been any kind of public dialogue on the topic. I worry when an issue pops out of apparently nowhere and is instantly framed as "not if, but how we'll spend the money".

I'm not inherently opposed to the project - my libertarian tendencies aside, I can accept some governmental role here. But there are a number of unanswered questions that I haven't even seen people talking about, and that is worrisome.

More potential danger for bloggers

Things like this should be cause for a great deal of concern among bloggers:
According to the report filed by Attorney Michael Maistelman, Nelson and White – Nelson’s campaign director – inappropriately used university property and computers in their campaign efforts against incumbent Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.

Without getting into the timing of the issue, my biggest concern is how this relates to blogging. If I use a school computer to put up a post praising or criticising a politician currently running for office, is that an "illegal campaign contribution"? People seem to agree that White was using a school computer in his capacity as College Republicans president - definitely a school-related activity - to send out a communication regarding a campaign that other College Republicans would probably be interested in. That seems pretty analagous to blogging.

Unfortunately, with increased restrictions on free political speach - and I'm thinking of McCain-Feingold here, of course - this kind of thing will probably only become more likely. With newspapers treating blogs as the weird step-brother who bites people, bloggers are not treated the same way as the MSM. That means that it's much easier for politicians to try to curtail our free speach - which is often more freewheeling, and thus more possibly dangerous, than MSM conversations.


Live Blog - Regent Street Planning Meeting

Here's what I typed in real-time as tonight's meeting on planning Regent Street development (no wireless!):

Alder King met us in the hallway of the Greenbush Neighborhood Center near the bubbler. He mixed me up with Freedom Fighter off the bat.

We can’t get any wireless signal; we have crude colored paper cutouts of green bushes pasted onto the front of our laptops – going to be tough

King kicks off the meeting.

“It’s not about whether this area will be developed; it’s about how the area will be developed.” – King

Very few students – mostly older folks. Packed room.

Request for proposals based on input – send it out to private planners. Money is to pay them.

This is the first of many meetings.

Standing room only. Alder Robbie Weber in attendance.

“It’s very important that everybody participate.” – Weber

Well, where are all the students then?

Mostly gray hair and bald heads in the room.

Julia Carr – Vilas Neighborhood Association – west of Randall, south of Regent

Room very hot.

Greenbush Neighborhood Association Lady – “people in this neighborhood association have been wanting to have this plan done since 1987

Bill Fruhling – city planning dept. –

Some of those present according to the sign in sheets:
- Rod Ripley – Luck’s Bar and Grill
- Roger Charly – Budget Bicycle
- Steve Sasso – Italian Club
- Barrett Kilmer – Indie Café
- Chris Beebe – Foreign Car Specialists
- Kelly and Barb Jordan – Jordan’s Big Ten
- Mike McNamara – Regent Street Retreat

Area in question for the planning is really neighborhood Regent and immediate north – Randall, Park, and Johnson bound – not even our house – not really the Greenbush south of the street, though its effects will spill over there

“I know a lot of people think there’s no identity, others think there’s a lot.” - Fruhling

Boring, boring, boring talk about planning process.

Crowd gets going – asks questions – wants information.

Italian Workers club rep. – wants historic experience
Owner of jewelry store – “I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to cross the street, but there are too many times when I haven’t been able to get over and buy a donut from Mark.” [laughter]

I speak, arguing that Regent shouldn’t be developed in a manner that creates a neighborhood with high housing costs that hurts affordability for students.

“Get the billboards out, as well as the utility wires.” – person in crowd

“Garden access on the south slope of the railroad?” – strange request

“Surface parking – jeweler –- “As a business owner on Regent, we need those surface lots.”

Freedom fighter – says goes to McDonalds, Taco Johns, and gets donuts – but doesn’t want chain restaurants (?) (crowd chuckles) - defended parking lots and drinking a beer on game day.
Round of applause.



The Daily Cardinal today ran an absolutely appalling ad today in its print version. The ad was for the "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust". I'm not providing a link, and I hope you don't google it - this level of filth does not deserve to be viewed. The front page contains a letter to the German ambassodor to the US, defending a holocaust denier.

I understand that it is the Cardinal's right to run whatever ads it pleases, but the moral decrepitude that this displays is, quite frankly, incredible. The Cardinal should be ashamed of itself.

Justice Crooks Speaking Tonight on Campus

Supreme Court Justice Patrick Crooks will be on campus tonight:
Pi Sigma Alpha will be holding our Spring 2006 kickoff meeting tomorrow (Monday, January 30th) at 7:30 PM in 1280 Grainger. Our guest speaker will be Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks.
Stop by after the Regent Street Development Meeting if you want to question the unopposed one on his unfortunate lead paint and medical malpractice rulings.


E.T. Spotted in The Greenbush

- For Immediate Release -

(Madison, WI) - E.T. was spotted today on the second story balcony of Mellow Yellow near Klief Park.

Witnesses say the creature mumbled something to the effect of "King, stay out..." before downing a bag of Reese's Pieces.

Local authorities declined comment.

Wake Up and Smell the Cold War

My Herald column on the need to address China as a rising power hits stands today:
Hit the alarm, America. Peel back the sheets and rub your eyes. That’s no panda at the window. It’s a dragon.
Opiate also has a worthwhile piece on cutting the foreign language requirement at the UW:
However, students are unlikely to receive such rewards after instruction is limited to just a few semesters. Instead, students are more likely to land in a limbo where they retain just enough knowledge to inquire about the location of el baño.
Finally, Andriy Pazuniak provides a well-deserved interview with Iraq veterans Mike and Derek Hahn, some friends of mine on campus. I happened to stumble across their interview the other day; it was good to see both of them home safe.

No Soup For Hamas

Condi is blazing a new path in the face of Palestine's new phenomenon: a terrorist democracy.
The United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of an international strategy session on Mideast peace prospects.

Rice ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.
Rice's stance and response are crucial, as they will likely set a sort of precedent for dealing with other potential administrations that may emerge in a Post-Iraq Middle East.

I think's she's made the right call, outlining a firm U.S. position.

Bush Good for Film Industry

So sayeth Jib.

I guess all that fury generates creativity.


A Response From Austin King

Last week, I questioned Austin King's burning desire to morph Regent Street into something a little more gentrified, something a little more ped-friendly. The State Journal has hopped on the bandwagon, plastering the Regent Street reform crusade on its front page.

Well, the good alder was kind enough to respond rapidly on Thursday with an e-mail of Tolstoy proportions. It was long. It was comprehensive. It was rather civil. It was definitely written for a blogger.
Not that I'm hurt or surprised to be skewered on your blog, but I did want to drop you a short note about Regent Street, what's going on, and what I hope you do about it.

First, the Cardinal article didn't really come close to explaining why any of this is news. [...] And the article didn't even mention the meeting! Neither did your blog entry, so first and foremost, I'd like to make sure you know about it.

Monday, 1/30, 6:30pm, at the Neighborhood House, 29 S. Mills, right in the heart of the Greenbush neighborhood.
If you get a chance, stop by tomorrow night and let your voice be heard on the future of Regent Street. Even if you only want to tell Austin King to quit wringing his hands, attend the meeting.

For the man who pushes inclusionary zoning, King had some interesting things to say:
I'm not sure if you're a big believer in plans; I sometimes think we over-plan and over-zone everything, artificially limiting creativity and bold ventures.
And he defended what I viewed as his bashing of certain buildings on Regent:
I was disappointed that the Cardinal article was basically a reiteration of my personal list of what I thought had been mistakes, without listing many of the gems I love on the street.
Most concerning to me was this gem from King:
To be really clear, this won't be my plan - I just helped get the first $20k in the budget for this year. The meeting is much more of a plebiscite than anything else, and this plan will have many, many authors and owners.
Questions arise: Why are we spending $2ok to plan? If this is a plebiscite, are we voting at tomorrow's meeting?

On the whole, the e-mail made me wonder why King's words were so much more reasonable than most of his actions on the council would make him out to be?

But, admittedly, King seems to have a sense of the history of The Greenbush Neighborhood, or the 'Bush as he aptly called it. He also knows how to turn a decent phrase, referring to some of the local blogosphere as "you wingers living just south of Regent" (I will wear that one as a badge of honor) and local government as "a schizophrenic city bureaucracy."

All the superflous stuff aside, I still don't see the urgency King and others are expressing on Regent Street. The State Journal article mentions Monroe Street, Willy Street, etc. as clearly defined neighborhoods, as counterexamples of Regent. But Regent, in its current form, already has its own unique feel - it's a no-frills, working class, student-centered neighborhood that will lose its identity only if it plans itself into pleasant pre-packaged cookie cutter oblivion.

I'll take a slanted house with a porch big enough for game day festivities and a view of the billboard over Jordan's Big Ten before higher rent anyday.

Oh yeah - I almost forgot. King had to know I'd scrutinze his e-mail in a blog post, so I'll consider this little tidbit fair game:
And please don't tell anyone that I sometimes read your blog. Sometimes.
Hi, Austin. Please leave Regent Street alone.

Ice Carving

What did we carve this year?

Cutting Counties - Yea or Nay?

Brian over at Anno Domini touches on a plan to distill Wisconsin's 72 counties down to 18 counties.

While the bill's author cites fewer administrative units as the key to reducing overlap, and thus costs, I wonder whether the sheer cost of transition wouldn't eat up many of the benefits. Plus, while more efficient government is good, so too is diffuse, localized, resonsive government better than centralized power.

Representative Wasserman, in pushing the measure, mentions the redundant burden the current county system places on municipalities in more than one county:
"Bayside is in both Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties, which means the village must keep separate and duplicative records and accounts for each county."
Easing that regrettable burden might compromise essential services, however. My own hometown, far from the county seat, has talked seriously of seceding from Manitowoc County at least three times in the past century. They tend to forget we exist out in the boonies when it comes to plowing snow.

An interesting, albeit radical, plan that should be considered thoroughly by the legislature.

(HT - Wigderson)

Reminder: Bill Anderson Exists

I would say "Happy Birthday," but I know Bill wouldn't appreciate my using a statist construct and all. Here's a good site for you as you sip your first legal beer.

My great grandfather Isaac would have been 107 today as well.


Order of operations

I guess because this was my first opinion column, I was curious to see the feedback. Some of it was from folks who completely missed my point, some of it was from white supremacists, and one question was especially interesting. I'm not allowed to respond to it on the Herald's site, but I can (kinda) respond to it here. This won't be a thing I do often, but this question was especially interesting, I thought, and bears a response:
Steve, I'm confused about the UW College Republicans, of which you say your are a member. Just a couple days ago in these same pages the organization President, Jordan Smith, stated that one of the groups top four priorities is to help pass a state constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage for gay couples. How can you belong to an organization that makes a priority of what you, according to your interesting op-ed, seemingly find to be unprincipled and unethical?

Really, it comes down to a matter of priorities. Politics in this country works on a two-party system: if you want anything done, you have to be part of one or the other. That's just pragmatism. And this means that both of the parties are fairly big tents. It also means that for folks somewhere in the middle, one has to choose priorities.

The War on Terrorism* is my biggest concern. Thus, the Iraq War is a significant portion of that concern - more than anything, this was the factor that brought me to the Republican party.

Economic issues are another top priority. I want the government to stay out of the economic sector as much as possible. It probably isn't totally do-able, but things could be a lot better than they are now. Ironically, this is one of the biggest causes of cognitive dissonance for me, as Bush's spending has not been precisely fiscally conservative, to put it lightly.

Respect for religions is another area that attracts me to the Republicans. Granted, as I wrote, I think they've gone too far toward pushing one religion in particular, but it started out from a good place - respect for religious sentiment in general. I'm a secularist, but this country, largely, is not. Dems don't really respect that (although they do pay it lip service).

So why do I stay in a party that's pushing things I don't like? Well, there are certainly considerable numbers of "log cabin" Republicans, as well as a good number of libertarian Republicans who are also fighting against the religious right of the party. So given that the Republican party hits the high notes of my agenda, I think it's worth staying around to try to reform the parts I don't like.

*I hate the term War on Terror, for reasons too long to explain here.

Required reading

Stephen Green has a fantastic post up that you must read. He notes, as I hinted at in my Herald article, that there are a lot of Republican voters out there right now who could pretty easily go Democrat if the Dems would just shape up:
I'm pro-choice. I support gay marriage. I think porn is OK and that drugs (which aren't OK) ought to be legal. My tastes in music and movies and entertainers are a lot more New York and LA than they are Nashville or Branson.

But with the exceptions of maybe Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman, there's not a Democrat today I'd vote for without first chewing through my own forehead.

This is something it would serve the more dedicated Republicans well to think about, and to consider what they could do to hold on to as much of that "classical liberal" vote as possible.

But that isn't exactly Green's focus - he wants to know something else:
What I want to know is, what would happen to the Howard Deans and the DailyKossers? Going even more towards the fringe, what would happen to the America-haters? What would become of the loony left? Where would the shrill shouters go?

Go read the whole thing already!


Financial Aid: Legislators Getting it Bass Ackwards

A bipartisan group of Wisconsin legislators is pushing AB-895, a bill designed to increase need-based financial aid grants in Wisconsin. Sounds warm and cozy enough, doesn't it?

The legislation would bump the total individual grant amount up by $500 annually to $3,000 per year.

This is not the proper way to address college affordability. Republicans, especially, should know enough to defeat this bill and push for straight up reductions in the cost of base tuition instead. Piling more and more financial aid onto the system avoids the root problem. Structural reform is needed, not politically cushy Winnie the Pooh band-aids.

See here for the those supporting the bill.

How this legislation squares with Republican principles is beyond me.

Make the grant contingent in some way upon merit. Encourage self-responsibility by making it a matching grant for tuition-earmarked dollars earned working in Wisconsin while in high school. Put all the grant funding toward direct tuition reduction. Any of these options would make the bill more acceptable than the government handout it currently represents.

More on the Beacon tussle

I understand the questions regarding the Mendota Beacon, and I think they're reasonably fair. This mostly seems to me like a case of a (very) new paper slipping up under very understandable circumstances, and with a very understandable rationale.

But the reaction has been interesting. The Badger Herald, who hadn't mentioned the Beacon in print before this, finds a great quote:
“I guess on the one hand, the encouraging thing is that apparently they gave some thought to what they were doing,” Drechsel said.

Translation: "What I really want to strongly imply here is that the Beacon squad is a bunch of unthinking jerks at best, and probably a bunch of discriminatory jerks who want to see a gay guy get beat up again. Unfortunately, all the evidence is to the contrary, so instead of saying it outright, I'll just make these insinuations."

Badger Herald Roundup

There's a lot going on in today's Badger Herald. A quick take:

A. UW Housing is outraged that The Mendota Beacon revealed the name of the victim of the Ogg Hall "hate crimes" and published his photo:
“It just seems morally offensive to me that you would print someone’s name and picture without their consent.”
From whence all this moral indignation by supposedly neutral housing officials? I think the Beacon ran with the truth, realizing that the victim's sexuality should not give him special protection and that LGBT Liaisons are limited public figures in the context of campus.

B. LIB's Steve S has an opinion column in today on which modern party truly embodies classical liberalism. Check it out.

C. ASM cut the diversity liaison funding! Finally! It's been a holy grail of sorts for many in student government over the years who felt the positions were useless and redundant. Mad props, too, to Representative David Lapidus for moving to cut all student government officer stipends:
Among the most controversial proposals was a $36,500 cut to salaries for ASM leadership positions, completely zero-funding the line item.

SSFC representative David Lapidus, who made the proposal, questioned the ethics of a student-government body setting salaries for its own positions.
D. Check out today's podcast.

Bring Out Your Dead

Coreweekly is added to the pyre.


I must say I'm shocked; the publication's backing by Capital Newspapers, its rapid growth, its extensive distribution, and its significant classified ads section made it a specimen of good health. Coreweekly looked like a serious threat to Isthmus's niche market.

The flames rise.

UPDATE: It appears Mac read the obits before I did.


Butt Out, Austin King - This is My Neighborhood

“This is not a pretty street,” King says. “But it could be.”

The Daily Cardinal interviewed Alderman Austin King about his haughty plans to magically transform Regent Street and its environs. Living less than a block off Regent, I have this to say: back off, King. Regent Street is not State Street and it shouldn't be.
"A Cardinal reporter strolled down Regent Street Wednesday afternoon as the alder laid out his plans for the future."
Good thing I was at work all afternoon that day. I don't think I would have been able to stand the stench of King's rank "progressive" elitism. Throughout the interview, King revealed a remarkably snobbish disdain for the working class:
"he says “third world” buildings such as an antique furniture store and a shoe polish business along with “Soviet-style” housing found on Spring and Dayton streets sap the vitality of the neighborhood."
I hate to inform you, alder, but some of us don't want to pay over $500 a month for rent. I have friends who live in that "Soviet-style" housing. And the plans envisioned would further ruin existing traditional student living. Strange for someone who ostensibly supports inclusionary zoning to maintain affordable housing.

King also showed he has little understanding of the current Regent Street dynamic when he slams above-ground parking lots:
“They’re a complete waste of space and they’re really bad for the environment,”
Anyone who has been on Regent Street during a home football Saturday knows why surface parking lots are absolutely necessary to preserving the Badger tailgating heritage and culture of the neighborhood.

I like Regent Street just the way it is.

Bottom line: I don't care if your district runs up to a portion of Regent Street, King. Shelve your PD pretentensions and leave Regent Street - and us - alone.

High on TABOR

The biblical mountain, that is. I don't think Frank Lasee will be pushing this one anywhere anytime soon.

I've always wondered if there was any subliminal planning involved when the Taxpayer Bill of Rights was christened with the acronym TABOR. Probably not, but fun to speculate.

The legislation has seemingly taken a backseat with the host of other controversial issues ricocheting around the capitol these days.

Loyalty to German values

John McAdams has a lengthy post regarding a German move to screen immigrants for political correctness.

I disagree with his reading of the situation. This can only really be seen as a step against the same radical Islamists that (I suspect) both McAdams and I are appalled by. Homophobia and wife-beating are pretty common traits among this group. So Germany's measures are crude, but to be totally expected given the statist sentiment across Europe currently.

Brats on Library Mall Tomorrow

"Hot brats, one lonely dollar!"

That's what I'll be bellowing tomorrow over the lunch hour in my best "Charlie Murphy's cooking Johnsonville Brats!" voice, so stop on by.

UW Knights of Columbus
Brats for Father Bob
Library Mall
10:30 - all sold
$1 apiece

All proceeds support the mission of Father Robert Flock in Bolivia.

Is Google Being Evil?

The Financial Times is running a poll:

Google's famous corporate aspiration - "Don't be evil" - gave rise to expectations that the search company would act in the public interest as it expanded. But companies, no matter how well-meaning their founders, face difficult decisions complicated by the profit motive and political expediency. Is Google breaking the pledge of its founders by censoring Chinese search results? Will such compromises damage the Google brand?

Is Google evil? 66% say yes.

You decide.

Interesting take

Jane Galt notes that some ultra-libertarian types argue that killing a fetus is hunky-dory, even if it is a person. She's appalled by that, and so am I:
You certainly won't persuade me. I not only think that the state should intervene if parents are abusive, should garnish the paychecks of reluctant parents, and should ensure that parents attend to the health of their children, but also believe that the state should provide high-quality education and health care for children under the age of eighteen (plus pregnant women who can't afford prenatal care). Now, many would argue that in so believing, I have forfeited any right to call myself a libertarian. But if this be treason, make the most of it.

You cannot morally treat children, or fetuses, as if they have the same rights and obligations as human adults; they have fewer freedoms, but more entitlements. Children are not only uniquely vulnerable, but also uniquely innocent; that fetus did not ask to be in your body, and has no means at his disposal to get out and stop bothering you. Trying to reason his fate from principles designed for consenting adults is neither practical nor morally just. Moreover, any society that did try to treat children and fetuses as adults, in the way that my commenters are advocating, would not be long for this earth. Evolution does not take cognizance of how beautifully consistently you have reasoned from first principles when it decides what behaviours will survive.

Very interesting, especially coming from a libertarian.



Some folks are getting worked up about the Capital Times quoting Dennis York on the Travelgate scandal. The portion everyone's excerpting:
As the pseudonymous blogger Dennis York put it, "The $10,000 contribution from Craig Adelman has now guaranteed a half a million dollars' worth of ads run against Doyle. Hope it was worth it.

"This would be like a married guy sleeping with his secretary for one night, then coming home to find his wife had packed his bags. It may have been good one night, but wave goodbye to your marriage," he wrote.

Okay, I see why Xoff would be worked up. The second part of that quote does imply pretty strongly that Doyle is guilty. But why does McBride find this at all problematic? York is damned articulate, and funny as always. The first bit really hits the nail on the head, to me - whoever screwed up, this is cake for Republicans looking for a late-breaking scandal to stick to Doyle in the '06 elections. And the quote makes sense in the context of the article. So I say, hooray for the Internets and free speech!

Keeping up with the "other paper"

What's new at the Daily Cardinal? Well, a few interesting tidbits:

As you, dear blog reader, probably already know, Madison politicos have joined the Cheddarsphere. Much is made of Konkel's atrocity, and the other two get their plugs in as well. The online piece adds some extra amusement, by linking Konkel, Pocan, and Brandon's names to other Cardinal news stories, but not their blogs. Ha! Most of the article is puff - really just barely enough to fill some space on the front page, but nothing people haven't know about for at least a month, until we get to this:
Politicians’ blogs are certain to get more attention than those of normal citizens. And adjusting to the new form of political communication will take some time.

Well, let's see how true that is, shall we? Konkel doesn't have a hit counter (trust me, I've been wanting to make fun of her traffic patterns for a while now, and can't - what an inconvenience!). In fact, only Brandon's blog has any kind of tracker, and that is private - it requires a password to see his stats. So the pols with the crappy blogs can go on talking about how they're reaching out to their constituents all they want - it doesn't mean diddly unless it's verifiable.

The other interesting bit comes from an unlikely source - Teddy O'Reilly, good lefty that he is - comes out against hate crimes legislation. Color me surprised.

Iran a no-go

I've posted before on Iran - and I still don't really think it's as much of a problem as people make it out to be.

There's another reason that the current rhetoric is a bit silly: Andrew Corey at Dean's World says
Right now, we’re engaged in a debate over the ugly, terrifying Iranian regime. Ought we go into Iran and grant freedom to the Iranians by smashing their theocratic rulers? Adding urgency to this discussion is the terrifying fact that Iran both wants and is capable of building nuclear weapons...

Were this a video game, we could simply go into “editor” mode, give ourselves another million troops, and tromp on in. In real life, however, we are limited to the resources we have on hand. The biggest limitation, in fact, is that we simply don’t have enough soldiers to take and hold Iran...

And that's an important fact to remember as people rattle their sabres.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

Some of the Travelgate manure, long chucked at the barn wall of the Doyle Administration, is beginning to stick at last.

An indictment of DOA employee Georgia Thompson came down last night, part of a federal grand jury probe into state government impropriety. The overriding question, of course, is if this indictment affects the governor himself. It very well may, as Mac adeptly points out:
Most damning, the indictment states that Ms. Thompson did this “to cause political advantage for her supervisors” and “the actions of Thompson also helped and were intended to help her job security.”
Jenna also has some wise advice for Jim Doyle, World Traveler:
If Doyle really wanted to distance himself from Thompson, he should cut all ties to her, not simply give her "different duties." Perhaps he is hoping that if he is nice and doesn't fire her, she won't flip.
With this indictment threatening to upend Doyle's house of cards, the governor's prospects for re-election look even gloomier. Even WEAC reps, tribal leaders, and the few Wisconsinites who haven't been incensed by one of Doyle's vetoes will have to re-think support of his campaign if actual charges of wrongdoing come down. Things are still developingl, obviously, but Owen does a good job of boiling the situation down to its essential logic:
The one thing that all of these possibilities have in common is that someone had knowledge that Adelman gave Doyle money and that awarding them the contract would please Doyle. Thompson certainly didn’t stand to benefit from giving the contract to Adelman, except by pleasing her supervisors who might benefit from pleasing Doyle who would be pleased if a campaign contributor got the contract.
The livestock on Old MacDoyle's Farm is jittery, no doubt.

The barn wall's looking a bit dirty, Mr. Governor. I have a feeling it may soon be more brown than red.

RIP Inelegant Observations


Another blog bites the dust. The infant mortality rate is raised.

In lieu of flowers, Greenbush donuts may be sent to the Slanty Shanty.


Joel Stein: Low Blow

Tee Bee is fired up - and she should be.

TIME and Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein muses cynically about how he truly does not support the troops. I've been getting TIME since the O.J. Trial was on tv, and I have to say Stein has always been an ego-driven humorist who crosses the line on a regular basis. I always thought he was a talented writer who was more than weird.

Now he's moved to the "Just Plain Sick" column in my book:
"But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying."
Stein seems to think it's impossible for the soldiers to have had any crumb of moral justification for joining the military or going to Iraq.
"I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on."
Yeah, it's a lonely position. Largely because it's an unrealistic, juvenile, iconoclast, cushily existentialist, i-need-help, position. Stein obviously delights in the fact that I'm posting on this right now. He relishes my venting outrage. But I'll take the bait. Stein, in his twisted logic, goes beyond a witty refusal to play by the rhetorical rules of engagement in the Iraq debate. I am genuinely concerned that someone with his thoughts lives in my country.
"Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there — and who might one day want to send them somewhere else."
Mr. Stein seems to think that it's best to cede any sort of decency to his overarching goal of smugly hating on President Bush. I don't think anyone can be blindly supporting the troops at this point; this country has debated the Iraq War unceasingly since before it began. He would prefer to openly acquiesce to the doves who would love nothing better than to prevent us from fighting anywhere, no matter what the justification.
"And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition."
Taking a general pot-shot at American troops serving overseas in an attempt to be humorous is one of the wussiest positions ever taken.

I am not laughing.

(HT - FF)

Go exploring!

This is pretty cool - a blog by some Peace Corp volunteers in Figi. Go check it out - they've got some cool pictures, and some interesting posts.

Now if I could just get this bloody essay done, I'd be able to send in my application... yarg.

An issue of precedence

Allison at GOP3 notes that the Marquette Tribune is angry about John McAdams's criticism of its "Conflict of Interests" policy.
Before we get started, let's take a moment to pause and reflect that the Tribune article is a terribly-written, condescending pile of garbage. But then the question needs to be asked - which takes precedence, the Trib's freedom of speech, or the right of the University to silence its critics?

Allison weighs in thusly:
A University run publication openly insulting a tenured professor is completely hypocritical. Okay, fine, the University doesn’t always agree with Professor McAdams; however, he does represent a decent faction of the community and holds a fair amount of sway within the blogging world. For the University to allow a disgruntled Tribune columnist to literally tell a professor to “shut the hell up” speaks volumes of this administration’s stance on free speech.

Well, we agree on something, at least: the University's decision to allow the Trib to admonish, even in the mealy-mouthed, poorly-reasoned manner in which it did, speaks volumes about the administration's commitment to free speach. That's where we part ways, though.

Firstly, I'll admit that I don't really know what kind of connection exists between the Marquette administration and the Tribune. For all I know, there is a dedicated faculty member sitting around the office, double-checking every story before it goes out. Or maybe not. I don't know. Either way, it is Marquette's right, as Allison notes, to censor or not censor student voices on the paper. But I will say that the university has done a commendable job of allowing students a voice, even when it opposes the administration or a specific faculty member. I suspect that were the situation reversed, and a faculty member had said something negative about a conservative newspaper under the same purview as the Tribune, the good folks at GOP3 would want the right to respond. That John Heiderscheidt did so in a vulgar, tasteless, crass way is unfortunate. Given the Marquette CRs I know, I would expect that Marquette's College Republicans would be above that sort of nonsense. But if they were unable to respond, they would cry censorship - and they would be right.

So attack the article. Attack the lack of reasoning it demonstrates. Point out how crude - yea, even barbaric - the language is. And rightly point out the parallels between this incident and the dental student case - but remember that you wanted the dental student to go free.

"Gov. Doyle, Don't Kick Us Out of School"

I caught these quick shots after work today. School children ringed both levels of the state capitol rotunda in perfect silence. It was quite a sight. The sentiment in favor of school choice and vouchers was made abundantly clear.

The rhetoric in the battle over such issues is heating up as of late. And understandably so. For many students and their families, this is no laughing matter.

Doyle won't lift the caps.

National Review's Jonah Goldberg Coming to UW-Madison

"Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me..." - The Book of Jonah, 1:2

Ok, so maybe he's only coming to critique Madison's outlook on environmental issues...but it looks like Jonah Goldberg, fellow blogger, will be speaking here on campus. The engagement, sponsored by CFACT, is set for 7:00 p.m. on February 1 in Grainger Hall.
CFACT is proud to announce that Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online and all around great guy, will be making his triumphant return to the Midwest Jan 31-Feb 1. Mr. Goldberg will be speaking about various disasters: Hurricane Katrina, mainstream media, and the federal government. All talks are open to the public.
This is the kind of event that will give a student organization a bit of street cred - bringing in a nationally recognized non-liberal speaker who stands to challenge some prevailing campus dogma.

However, for someone of Goldberg's stature, we should be seeing a lot more publicity on campus.

Anyway, welcome to Ninevah, Jonah. Yes, we know this city needs to repent of some of it's ideas.


WISPIRG Pulls a Sheehan

This morning, a representative from WISPIRG spoke before my history lecture in Humanities about her organization.

I didn't pay too much attention; I've heard the spiel before.

But then, something made me perk up. The PIRGer said that her group was dedicated to fighting global warming, which caused all sorts of bad things, such as stronger storms..."like Hurricane Katrina".

Whoa! Stop the crazy train. This is a university, my friend, not Camp Casey.

Conflating global warming with Hurricane Katrina is irresponsible and, unfortunately, all too typical of WISPIRG's propagandistic seg-fee funded "campaigns." Which, incidentally, haven't really changed since I arrived on campus several years ago...hmmm.

Huge, devastating storms have occurred in centuries past - Galveston, for one.

Random Morning Round-up

Check out my latest BH column on bringing transparency to "The Good Ship ASM." Leave some comments, if you're so inclined.

Mac opines on the bad news for Jim Doyle - a grand jury for travelgate is not a good sign. Better have Xoff crank the spin machine up a notch.

Jenna's in a quandary over the ideology of hair dryers. Hmmm...just keep the cord out of the sink.

Freedom Fighter raises some well-founded concerns about Chinese scientific advancements. It helps that the post includes one of my favorite words, tokamak (Steve, I'm sure you're a fan, too).

Kellie talks trimming the Dane County Board - which has more members than the State Senate.

Althouse makes some astute observations about the secret war on boys in education.

Lakeshore Laments talks architecture and reviews the review of Whitney Gould, one of the Journal Sentinel's columns I actually read on a regular basis for some reason.

McBride has a post on Mordecai Lee, who is of interest only because my father, if I remember correctly, had him as a professor back in the day.

Heard of the Color Revolutions, have you? Little Green Footballs, in fine form as usual, speculates on the Maple Revolution brewing to our north. John Candy would be proud.

Finally, Opiate introduces us to a new band, Two Days Til Tomorrow, which features Bellmer, a friend of mine, on guitar. I plug them not because Bellmer is a genuinely nice guy - which he is - but because the group's first garage-bandesque song is great, especially the catchy bass line. Let's just say that if your idea of heaven is The Mifflin Street Block Party, TDTT is your heavenly angel chorus.

A Few Stukas Short of a Squadron

Wow. Just wow. This is one of the craziest, most bizarre, and quite possibly coolest stunts ever pulled (via Insty). And this is also about the only time I'd admit that post-modernism has been good for anything:
When I phoned Pluss at the time, he protested the hypocrisy of the FDU faculty. Murderous leftist movements of all types are welcome on campuses all over America, he told me, but their right-wing equivalents are repressed. Back when he was a professor at William Paterson University some years ago, Pluss told me, a fellow professor had a huge hammer-and-sickle banner on her office wall. Che Guevara's a big hit among college kids these days, and Chairman Mao's not far behind, he noted.

I agreed with Pluss on that point. But when he launched into a spiel about the subtle but overlooked charms of that Austrian politician formerly known as Adolf Schickelgruber, I began to think he was a few Stukas short of a squadron, if you know what I mean.

It now turns out Pluss is not a Nazi; he's just a post-modernist. The other day, Pluss posted an article on the History News Network Web site (http://hnn.us/) titled "Now It Can Be Told: Why I Pretended to Be a Neo-Nazi." The episode, he writes, was inspired by the great French deconstructionists Jacques Derrida and Michele Foucault, who had insisted on "the need for the historian to 'become' her or his subject."

He says he's writing a book, and I would love to read it.

Also, does all this have a bearing on this? Discuss. Double points to whoever doesn't go on a polemic!

Step inside...

...my iTunes! (HT - Ben):

Total Number of Tracks: 5856 (16.2 days)

Sorted by Song Title:
First: '68, Anima Sound System
Last: Chto Takoye Ocen', DDT

Sorted by Time:
Shortest: (not counting the streaming WSUM feed) Flip String (sound effect), Kill Bill vol. 1 Soundtrack
Longest: Motherfucker=Redeemer, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Sorted by Artist:
First: Mistakes and Regrets, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Last: Tameless, Yonderboi

Sorted by Album:
First: !Induljon a banzai, Bonanza Banzai
Last: (there are a lot that don't have album information)

10 Most Played Songs:
1.) Milonga del Mar, Yonderboi
2.) WSUM radio stream
3.) Breathe, Telepopmusik
4.) Wandering Star, Portishead
5.) Disconnection Notice, Sonic Youth
6.) Sunday, Sonic Youth
7.) Teenage Riot, Sonic Youth
8.) Here I Dreamt I was an Architect, The Decemberists
9.) Love can Damage Your Health, Telepopmusik
10.) Fox in the Snow, Belle and Sebastian

First Five Songs on the Party Shuffle:
1.) You Don't Know How it Feels, Tom Petty
2.) Jesus Christ Was an Only Child, Modest Mouse
3.) I am High (feat. Mace), N*E*R*D
4.) Something in the Night Bruce Springsteen
5.) Trouble, Dave Matthews

Number of Search Returns For:
sex: 19 (mostly on the strength of 12 Sex Pistols songs)
love: 162
you: 481
death: 65
hate: 17
wish: 26
life: 50

10 Last Played:
1.) Time Stops, Explosions in the Sky
2.) Glittering Blackness, Explosions in the Sky
3.) Look into the Air, Explosions in the Sky
4.) Magic Hours, Explosions in the Sky
5.) Snow and Lights, Explosions in the Sky
6.) A Song for our Fathers, Explosions in the Sky
7.) Fascinating Rhythm, Ella Fitzgerald
8.) Blue (Da Ba Dee), Eifel 65
9.) Blinking Lights (For You), Eels
10.) Checkout Blues, Eels

And now you know - 'cause knowing is half the battle!


Make 'Em Walk the Plank


It's the Barbary Wars all over again - after more than 200 years, the U.S. Navy is again battling pirates off of Africa.

With their small, light xebecs and dhows, the pirates present a guerrilla-like threat to cruise ships and naval vessels like the U.S.S. Cole.

It is good to see the U.S. military working proactively to address the recent resurgence of piracy.

A bigger concern of mine, though, is whether or not Islamic pirates sing Yo ho ho and a Bottle of Rum?

Welcome, Pax Americana

A new conservative think-tank, The Pax Americana Institute, has emerged on - gasp - the west side of Madison!?

I have to admit, this one sneaked up on me (*snuck is not a word).

The Institute's aims look pretty reasonable:
Pax Americana is a think tank devoted to research and analysis of major political, economic, social, cultural, and philosophical issues. The Institute is grounded in the principles of classical conservatism, which has roots in the very foundations of western civilization from the classical period through today. The Pax Americana Institute believes in the resolute necessity of upholding the values of the American Revolution, and loyalty to the United States Constitution. The core tenets include a belief in federalism and liberty at home, and the supremacy of American internationalism abroad.
This organization looks like a welcome addition to the conservative intellectual scene. The website is promising a series of conferences on some relevant topics. Might have to attend.


Lisa Loeb was my definition of indie-rock hotness before I even knew what indie rock was. And now, she's got a TV show that reminds me how awesome she is.

But, maybe this will be like my (extremely) short-lived infatuation with Sharon Osbourne's short-lived talk show a few years back. Although I had no previous attachment to Sharon - I wasn't even a fan of the Ozbourne family's reality show.

Anyway, I probably won't have Althousian (Althouse-esque?) ramblings each week for you, dissection the minutiae of every episode, but I am publicly declaiming my affection for Ms Loeb.

Get Out the Dustpan

It's bad enough that the state legislature must deal with Voces de La Frontera running around the capitol raising a ruckus. Now, it has this threat by the The People's Legislature to anticipate:
"Amid complaints that ordinary citizens have been shut out of legislative hearings, the People's Legislature will take over part of the State Capitol on Monday to give them a chance to talk to their legislators."
Ok? So you need to stage a coup of sorts despite the fact that citizens can testify at legislative hearings? Last time I checked, we operate under a republican form of democracy where representatives vote on behalf of their constituents. Hearings already give some citizens extra influence in the decision-making process beyond the numerous typical avenues for constituent-legislator communication open to all constituents.
"Monday's session marks the first time the People's Legislature will convene inside the Capitol. The group has held other sessions around the state, and last fall, members marched into the Capitol with brooms to sweep out corruption."
Wielding brooms and paying homage to Mike McCabe is not the best way to effect change in state government. Any stunt that tries to "take over" part of the state capitol is not going to win many friends, besides, maybe, a loony student hunger striker or two.


Timmyscape posted a scathing criticism of CFACT - the Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow:
So why would I vote to minimally fund an organization that I somewhat agree with and speak critically of their organization? A number of reasons but it starts with their lack of activity and the corruption of their leaders and in particular, Peter McCabe. The corruption of this organization must be brought to light and with this post hopefully the blinds will open slightly.

And that's just the beginning. I've never been impressed with CFACT, and Tim's post is very credible. CFACT needs to go.

Beer or Wizard?

One of my roommates was telling me last night about a great beer he'd had in Prague. The name struck me - Radegast.

I immediately thought of the minor character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Radagast the Brown, a lesser wizard who aids Gandalf.

Was J.R.R. inspired by the contents of his stein?


Good advice... from the Russians?

Tom McMahon posts on one of my favorite topics - old Soviet propoganda posters. And actually, I'm not so sure about the quality of the advice, except for the alcohol thing.

Some other really nice examples can be found here and here (I especially like the posters of the NEP era).

Update: Also check out this bunch of anti-alcohol posters. Personally, I believe the real reason the Soviet Union fell was because of Mikhail Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign.

Hooray we're winning?

The GOP3 points out that it's taken Berkey a while to catch up to Madison in one of the critical liberal measures - beating up on the Boy Scouts.

Two things on this: firstly, I'm just happy that Madison is winning on this. Honestly, if Madison wasn't liberal, I'm not sure it would really be Madison any more.

Also, as much as I don't think it's right that the Scouts discriminate against gays (and, for the Girl Scouts, lesbians), it's their choice as a private group. That said, it really is the right of the respective cities to decide where their money goes. There are laws (which I think are silly and should be abolished, along with many other entitlement programs) on the books that make discrimination, as defined by law, illegal, and if the Scouts violate that law, they can and should be held accountable. If the Scouts really have the courage of their convictions, they'll work around it. That's part of being a private group - you aren't entitled to special protection. Of course, that should cut both ways - being gay shouldn't entitle one to special protection either - but it doesn't currently.

Cap Times - still not getting it

The Capital Times has launched a redesign of the paper, coupled with a wider distribution - all apparently in order to boost flagging sales. Good luck.
Besides the redesign, which includes a broad art hit on the upper half of page one (making it, quips city editor Ron McCrea, "a tabloid... from the waist up"), The Capital Times is offering next-morning newsstand distribution to 20 new communities in ten additional counties. So, for the umpteenth time, the paper has revised its tagline, from "Your local progressive newspaper" to "Wisconsin's progressive news source."

So, let's get this straight: in order to boost sales, the Cap Times is going to try to sell their papers in parts of the state that aren't nearly as moonbat-liberal as Madison. Apparently, nobody at the paper realized that Wisconsin is generally a conservative state:
Ironically, this decline has come as the paper has maintained a consistently high level of editorial quality. Its talented staff includes a standout daily columnist, Doug Moe, and nationally known political commentator, John Nichols. Being pretty darn good has not kept the paper from doing pretty darn poorly.

Delivering good lefty editorials, which may play well in Madison but will bomb with the rest of the state, will not save the Cap Times. If it can't sell its tired lefty rhetoric in Madison, it won't sell state-wide. Of course, nobody is talking about news coverage - the paper doesn't really cover much local news. (Its sister paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, went so far as to essentially give up on covering local news at all.) But that couldn't be the problem, could it? Nah...

The sad thing is, the just-marginally-better sister paper's superior sales are propping up the Cap Times:
Technically, the Cap Times can keep publishing no matter how low its circulation falls. The 1948 pact negotiated by founder Bill Evjue makes the Capital Times Co. half owner of Capital Newspapers, which owns both The Capital Times and the Wisconsin State Journal. Thus the State Journal's stronger circulation helps keep the Cap Times afloat. Indeed, likely no city daily with comparable circulation has as large an editorial staff.

Of course, nobody mentions that the Journal has a slightly - note, slightly - more conservative (or at least more balanced) editorial page.

Coat Hangers and All: Discrepancies in Abortion Rhetoric

Mingwei Huang, a member of the abortion rights group, Our Bodies, Our Rights! wrote guest columns this past week in both The Badger Herald and Coreweekly. The two pieces are pretty much the same: a diatribe against Alito and in favor of abortion as a crucial part of the feminist movement.

Interestingly, the two pieces have a few major discrepancies. Here's one sentence from Huang's Coreweekly piece:
"The legality of abortion is hanging by a thread in light of the Supreme Court nomination of anti-choice bigot Samuel Alito. If confirmed, we cannot say if Roe will be overturned, but the further erosion of access through additional restrictions is inevitable."
Here's what that gets split into in the Herald column:
"Although abortion rights have been in peril for decades, we should be alarmed now more than ever in light of the nomination of Samuel Alito."

"Even if Roe still stands, it is inevitable that anti-choice politicians will implement restrictions on abortion access as soon as they can conceive them."

"Abortion rights today are truly hanging by a thread."
The Herald piece is obviously not the Coreweekly piece edited out into pieces - the entire thing is a separately woven fabric. Both pieces seem to use largely the same building blocks, but they're arranged differently for each publication. One maintains a veneer of respectability by not whipping out "anti-choice bigot." In journalism or PR, that's called speaking to different publics.

Watch out pro-abortionists - some of us are part of multiple publics and we might just tell the right hand what the left hand is doing.

The resulting question is which piece represents Huang's true feelings on the issue and which is a sort of ventriloquist doll speaking in a different voice merely to appeal to a certain audience?


Quoth the Raven...

"...time to bore."

In case you haven't been paying attention

Real Debate Wisconsin has had some great posts up about Voces de la Frontera. They seem to be having a darn good scam going on, and RDW has been doing a great job on shedding much needed light on 'em. So check it out!

Grade Inflation

Badger Blues and Folkbum forgot to curve the grades.

They give Doyle an A+ for his efforts at college affordability. Ben B, in his analysis, confuses equal opportunity with equal outcome:
"Everyone wants the opportunity to make their own life a success, and it’s the job of a society to structure itself to guarantee that opportunity to everyone."
How far along in life must the government hold an invidual's hand to guarantee equality of opportunity? Ben thinks we should be dependent on the state even after the age of majority. I vehemently disagree. Even Doyle, by the logic presented in his SOTS, should agree with me:
"Everyone who wants - and is willing to work for it - deserves a great education."
That's right, Mr. Governor. Just practice what you preach, now, and get the government out of financial aid so that students actually do some work to help pay for an education. Lower tuition and have local school boards provide education for students until they reach the age of 18 - this is their equal opportunity. Government handout gimmicks are getting old and they certainly don't solve the underlying structural problem of college affordability.

My grade for the governor's education plans? I'm sorry - a 40% increase in tuition at the UW over three years is not worthy of such a grade. You can say it was the legislature's fault, but Doyle betrayed his campaign promises on UW funding and tuition in both of the budgets he put forth.

Doyle's willingness to hack the limbs off the body of college affordability and then "fix it" with a Winnie the Pooh band-aid earn him a D- in my grade book.


Mad Blog Shindig Re-Cap

Well that was fun. We had 10 bloggers in the Rathskellar and media coverage from local tv station, WISC TV 3 (which has a bushel of pop-ups on its webpage). Jessica Arp interviewed me as people arrived. I had missed her earlier e-mail:
Hi there-

I'm writing because I saw your post on a bloggers meeting at the Union tonight. I am a reporter at Channel 3 and am interested in doing a story about the blogging culture in Madison for our 9 and 10pm newscasts. I'd like to come to the meeting tonight, and wanted to find out if you would be interested in talking, and if others might be also. If you could either email or call me before the meeting I would appreciate it, I do have a couple questions for you before we come.

Thanks for your help!

Jessica mentioned that she and the cameraperson had interviewed Alderman Brenda Konkel about blogging earlier in the evening. We'll have to watch the newscasts tonight.

Overall, it was a merry old time. Discourse ranged from the recent Ogg Hall "hate crimes" to music to Justice John Paul Stevens' tenure on the SCOTUS to student government politics. Dennis York and his anonymity were chewed on, too. Bill from Madison brought literature for us to sift through - I can't wait to peruse my copy of The Catholic Agitator. Opiate of the Masses arrived after some of the attendees had taken off for a Mendota Beacon meeting.

Definitely have to do this again some time.

UPDATE: Here's the tv news story transcript of the piece.

Live Blogging the Madison Blogger Roundup

I feel like Althouse.

I'm simul-blogging while at a blogger roundup being photographed and videotaped for possible future inclusion on the blog. Yeah, I'm confused.

Steve S, Nate's Blog, Freedom Fighter, Patriot Blog, Right Off the Shore, and Not Quite Right are all here in the warmth of the Rathskellar circled by the television cameras from Channel 3.

Bill from Madison of Hawken is also here now. And so is JWick from Daily Perspective.

Timmyscape just walked in, too. Wow - it's a crowd.

What are we drinking, Nate? Leinie's Creamy Dark - excellent!

Madison Blogger Roundup - TONIGHT!

Head on down to The Rathskellar in the Memorial Union at 7:00 p.m. tonight for a gathering of the bloggers here in Madtown.

Look for the glow of laptops...

Turn in the Madison Bomber: Another Incentive

A box of cigars - from Right Side of the Road NEW!
A 6-pack of Spotted Cow - from Opiate of the Masses
A bottle of Wollersheim Ice Wine and $25 - from Standards and Grudges
A bottle of Champagne and $25 - from Letters in Bottles

See more details here. Leave a note in the comments if you'd like to add an incentive to the effort to capture Madison Bomber.

Five on Three

The always competent GOP3 is auditioning some new talent over near the lake. And readers get to decide later this semester who will replace one of the current members.

Check out the two new bloggers to see if there's anything that suits your fancy.

Victory is very nearly ours!

I'm not doing my victory jig yet, but we're getting close. Please bear with us, as the comments section is above the related post at the moment, and our Sitemeter doodad is quite back up. You may, however, congratulate us on the spiffy new sidebar section with its new clever titles and added bloggers.

Update: Okay, dancing time! But why are the people in the Union looking at me funny?

More on The Ogg Hall "Hate Crimes"

Both The Badger Herald and The Daily Cardinal have front page stories on the alleged criminal activity in Ogg Hall, posted about here at LIB last night.

Ben Chamberlain and Michael Riha, two UW Students from Illinois in Sigma Chi fraternity, were both allegedly involved in what certainly is a regrettable incident involving an LGBT liaison. The actions described, if true, display a remarkable degree of stupidity.

The hate crime aspect being thrown into the mix is equally regrettable, however:
Were it not for the hate crime enhancers added, the disorderly conduct offenses would not be felonies.

According to Wisconsin law, a case can be tried as a hate crime if the defendants intentionally selected the person with whom the crime was committed because of belief about sexual orientation, whether or not the perception was correct.
This statutory "progressive" political statement enshrines a legal travesty in the codebooks.

Strangely, both underage UW students still have pictures of themselves drinking in the dorms on their facebook profiles - including one where Chamberlain is in uniform. Yes, I hate to tell you guys, that's illegal activity. They were also drinking at the time of the alleged crime:
Early Dec. 21, Chamberlain and Riha, along with Kevin Cochacki of Naperville, Ill. and Caleb Moore of Auburn, Ala. were drinking in Riha’s room in Ogg and discussing how conservative they were, according to the criminal complaint.
Again, a reminder that all of this debacle is alleged at this time. Somehow, I have a feeling that many parties on campus won't keep that in mind when reacting to this news. Brace yourself for the firestorm.


Ostracism in Ogg Hall

Four male UW students may go to prison for tearing down a poster in Ogg Hall depicting two men kissing.

"Two University of Wisconsin students are among a group of four men charged with criminal damage to property and a hate crime for allegedly tearing down a bulletin board in a University of Wisconsin-Madison residence hall."

Dummocrats has the link to the news story.

Benjamin Chamberlain
, the one student mentioned by name in the TV piece, is accused of:

"writing "I hate gays ... they must die" on a resident's dry-erase board on his dorm room door, WISC-TV reported".

That's a serious problem and should be condemned - if he is found guilty. As far as we know, they're all innocent. But tearing down a bulletin board alone should not warrant more than four years in jail, which the story says is a possibility if the men are found guilty.

This could be big. It might just open the "hate crimes" can of worms on campus and spur quite a conflagration of debate.

Governor Keeps Hatin' on Wally World

Jim Doyle played to a regrettable populist theme in his speech last night - he slammed Wal-Mart for "dumping" its employee's healthcare onto the state Badgercare program. His broadside at the company was an affront to the intelligence of Wisconsinites.

It's a fallacy that's not hard to see through.

If Wal-Mart employees thousands of people around the state, of course it's going to have a greater number of people on the Badgercare rolls than a mom and pop cafe in Eagle River. Proportionally, though, it's probably not much different percentage-wise from smaller businesses.

While I have a few concerns about Wal-Mart, this is certainly not one of them.


Reminder: Madison Blogger Shindig

When: Thursday, January 19, 2006

Where: The Rathskellar, UW Memorial Union

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Who: Any Madison blogger or blog aficionado

Governor Doyle's Opening Remarks

"Well, that's it. I'm going home."

I sure hope so. You can leave before November, if you like.

Shoving Feminism Down My Throat

"A truly great independent bookstore. I hope you go in to buy these two books and come out with fifteen."

- My Folklore 540 prof. on A Room of One's Own, Madison's feminist bookstore

Why is my only local bricks and mortar option for textbooks at an ideological store?

Mayor Nagin Serves Up a Cup of Hot Racism

Chocolate? What if any mayor in America proclaimed that his city would soon be "vanilla" again?

Double standard. The pendulum has swung full through.

Fun with nutcases

I really enjoy reading North Korea's "News" Service. No really, I do. It's the most whacked-out, bat-shit crazy bollocks you'll ever read, which makes it immensely fun. Somehow, though, I'd fallen off of reading it. But I just dropped by to check it out, and managed to find this gem:
Availing themselves of this opportunity, they said, they would make a deep study of the originality of the Songun politics pursued by Kim Jong Il and the advantages of Korean-style socialism and extend positive support and solidarity to the Korean people in their struggle for independent and peaceful reunification of Korea.

Yes, you read that right: they'll be studying the "advantages of Korean-style socialism." Like, you know, killing off as many of your people as you can, and starving the rest into a state of walking death...


I have a question for that subset of the readership that is religious. Although I went to Catholic school though my Junior year of high school, I've gotten distanced from religion enough that I don't trust my own answer. So:

There's been a lot of talk lately about this take on Islamic reform: that it can't happen becuase, essentially, the Koran was directly dictated by the angel Gabriel, while the Bible is a dialogue between God and the author of the respective books:
The main presentation by this Father [Christian] Troll was very interesting. He based it on a Pakistani Muslim scholar [named] Rashan, who was at the University of Chicago for many years, and Rashan's position was Islam can enter into dialogue with modernity, but only if it radically reinterprets the Koran, and takes the specific legislation of the Koran, like cutting off your hand if you're a thief, or being able to have four wives, or whatever, and takes the principles behind those specific pieces of legislation for the 7th century of Arabia, and now applies them, and modifies them, for a new society [in] which women are now respected for their full dignity, where democracy's important, religious freedom's important, and so on. And if Islam does that, then it will be able to enter into real dialogue and live together with other religions and other kinds of cultures.

And immediately the holy father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said, well, there's a fundamental problem with that because, he said, in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Mohammed, but it's an eternal word. It's not Mohammed's word. It's there for eternity the way it is. There's no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it, whereas in Christianity, and Judaism, the dynamism's completely different, that God has worked through his creatures. And so it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used his human creatures, and inspired them to speak his word to the world, and therefore by establishing a church in which he gives authority to his followers to carry on the tradition and interpret it, there's an inner logic to the Christian Bible, which permits it and requires it to be adapted and applied to new situations...

The Archangel Gabriel, by contrast, dictated the Koran to Mohammed, according to Islamic doctrine. That sets a dauntingly high threshold for textual critics. How does one criticize the word of God without rejecting its divine character?

So my question to you is this: isn't the Bible the final word? As such, if we've deviated from, or set aside, certain rules from the Bible (my favorite being the prohibition against women wearing pants), shouldn't Muslims be able to do the same? I firmly believe that all religious tradition is mutable, and can be shaped to help people behave in the world. As such, I believe that it is entirely possible to do to the Koran what I believe the Christian West has done to the Bible. What do you think?



"Good news, everyone!"

Professor Farnsworth references aside, here is a list of the "Top Ten Good News Stories for 2005 [for Muslims]". It's quite interesting. My favorites:
Tatars celebrate 1000 years of capital city Kazan
Aceh Rebels & Indonesian Government agree to peace accord
International effort to save the manuscripts of Mali
Bangladesh sends aid to USA: the Muslim response to Katrina & Kashmir
A woman continues her struggle with a superpower [hint: if you think the USA is the root of all evil, it won't be the superpower you're thinking of]
I think they might be stretching on #2 - evidence is scant that Zheng He actually got to America from the West - but it is interesting.

And I think that #5 is both wrong and not really helpful for Muslims at all - the good news is that America continues to help Iraqis build their own democracy, and that we are doing well enought that we can, at least according to administration higher-ups, afford to be scaling back troops. The good news is that the dire predictions did not pan out, and that it looks like we'll finally be able to finish the job.

But on the whole, there is a lot of good coming out of the Muslim world that goes largely unreported upon, which is sad, and is why lists like these are good for everyone.

(HT: Democracy Arsenal)

Doyle to Star in "Tragedy of the Commons" Tonight

A preliminary perusal of Governor Doyle's State of the State initiatives shows spending, spending, and more spending.

Mark Green's release makes the point succinctly:

Doyle’s New Spending: $30.5 Million
Spending Cuts: $0

Worst of the provisions is a new college financial aid program, "Wisconsin Covenant". While the program seems appealing, as it rewards students for getting good grades in high school and "living a clean life," it seems to simply tack more spending on top of existing financial aid programs.

If you're going to institute a new merit-based financial aid program, include offsets in existing finanical aid programs. Failure to do so means, ironically, tuition will probably go up.

In my four years on campus, students have experienced a massive increase in tuition here at UW-Madison.
"Tuition at University of Wisconsin schools has increased by more than 40 percent over the past three years. "
Add on an ever-increasing segregated fee burden set in part by my own peers in student government. That's unnacceptable.

People just don't seem to get it: Wisconsinites and their government need to go cold turkey on financial aid. Don't increase government spending and waste a chunk of the taxpayer dollars on administrative oversight. Reduce tuition.

Tune in to Lakeshore Laments tonight for a live-blog of the SOTS.