2.28.2007

Madison Does Not Need Public Financing of Municipal Campaigns

"Unlimited contributions, total disclosure."

One of my former professors used this succinct phrase to sum up his stance on campaign finance laws. I think the concept makes sense. Simply do not cap campaign contributions from any source, but demand complete transparency when reporting the source of those contributions.

With more complete information, voters who care about who's backing various candidates are able to discern whether they find certain financial backers palatable or not. Nobody is restricted from supporting a cause they want to champion with their resources (on Free Speech grounds or, if you view Free Speech more narrowly, freedoms left to people in the Bill of Rights).

Letting government step in to "protect" people from "special interest groups" degrades the meaning of citizenship. It says an individual voter is incapable of making decisions. I would rather have interest groups, like business organizations, working within the political system than outside of it, as happens in other countries that prevent outright aggregations of political interests.

It also says erroneously, much like Ben at Badger Blues, that a solid grassroots campaign by a dedicated or accomplished individual can no longer succeed. I don't think the city has reached that point by any means.

Of all places, Madison seems like one where strong neighborhood associations, active citizens, and a watchdog mentality would make public funding least necessary. Aldermanic races are largely about local ties, personal relationships, and proven participation in the community. In many aldermanic wards, the backing of big dollars from the "special interest" sources that Lisa Subeck laments would be a liability anyway.

Give voters some credit. In a city with this many advanced degrees, people should be able to ferret out political backing pretty quickly.

Lisa also doesn't have a comeback for the concerns Jenna and I raised about the long-term cost of public financing. Mayor Dave, in his initial comments about King's proposal, did not totally close the door on going beyond voluntary checkoff contributions and tapping the city's general fund:

"I would want to start with voluntary contributions before we even propose doing anything out of the general fund," he said.

Mayoral Candidate Ray Allen makes a good point - doesn't the city have more pressing priorities?

If the city's general fund is ever tapped for such a purpose, it raises the specter of not only preventing political "free speech"by donors, but also, depending on the approval mechanism, potentially compelling speech by taxpayers who may not support certain candidates (funding campaigns versus infrastructure brings the speech component into the mix, thereby requiring more scrutiny).

Madison needs public financing like it needs more snow and precipitation.

Euchre Tournament













If only it were Sheepshead...

2.27.2007

Bonfire, Anyone?

Word has it vanity is on the rise among college students.

The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students' NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.

While I think the term vanity can be a bastardization of terms like self-esteem, confidence, self reliance and the like, its extreme forms can be detrimental.

Tom Wolfe's latest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, which I finished reading recently, provides some salient examples. A masterful, readable, and unvarnished look at life in the modern American university, several of the book's well-drawn characters demonstrate the pitfalls of crippling vanity.



Charlotte Simmons is an intelligent Appalachian girl blinded by her own haughty self-conception who ultimately foresakes her roots for attention. Jojo Johanssen is a basketball star who finds out the hard way how to overcome his own distorted view of reality. Adam Gellin is the student newspaperman and athlete tutor who ambitiously seeks prominence as an academic and intellectual, only to prove his shallowness in the end. Hoyt Thorpe is a frat prince, 'legend in his own time' whose meteoric rise is equaled only by his fall.

It's a fantastic book - vulgar and unapologetically true to many aspects of the modern collegiate experience, tragic in its portrayal of the loneliness and consequences of the many faces of vanity. For better or for worse, it represents one of the most telling snapshots of college life in the riotous '00s.

And yes, Carly, the college students really do think this post is about them.

Pepsi vs. Ice



















The can's ability to survive multiple weeks of brutally low temperatures in the trunk of my car without messy structural failure reinforces my brand loyalty.















*Yes, I purposely shot the top of the can so 'PSI' was showing.

Is this war?

A recent question of mine regarding the Post seems to have sparked off another round of shots across various bows, so let's take a look at the most recent goings-on, shall we?

My question was in fact answered at the Post, but it's one of those "not with a bang but a whimper" kind of answers:
Post in print isn't supposed to be a comprehensive picture of everything that's going on locally in entertainment and culture. There's nobody assigning stories, or articles, or posts, to any of our bloggers, and hopefully there never will be. Post, the website, is a space where locals can go to blog about (and read about, and comment on) whatever interests them, in any content category whatsoever; Post in print is a snapshot of what people have been talking about, locally, online over the past week, with an emphasis on entertainment and culture. I don't know about you, but that seems pretty "local" to me.

This isn't a satisfactory answer to me. Basically, what they're saying here is that they're just a souped-up message board community, except without even the feeling of community that a good message board can build (and anyway, madison.com already has a forum section). Then they go on to say that instead of trawling established local blogs - who have proven able to generate solid commentary - they're going to post whatever ends up on Post. But devoid of context and hyperlinks, I question the ability of blogs to translate into decent print reading material. For blogs, context, and the interaction both in the comments section of one's own blog and in the exchange between blogs, is crucial.

All of this promts Palmer at Fearful Symmetries to remark:
Perhaps certain [Post] bloggers could be followed over time or, if a suitable blogger is found, then all posts relating to a topic of interest could be brought together... Right now I'll take just about anything over winnowing through a dozen posts with "analysis" of Badger games in order to find something I find interesting.

If that's the case, then I'd really have to question why these people need a Post account - what's the point of having a bunch of disparate blogs under the one madison.com umbrella?

Palmer asks some really good questions:
Dane101 is quite explicit in stating its purpose but Post and TDP's Miscellany section aren't. How do they fit into the larger goals of the print publications of which they are a part? What purpose do they serve other than getting folks to see and click on ads? More generally, who should care about blogs and why should anyone read them? Dane101 is part blog aggregator and part indie journalism and it gives its answer to these questions. Post and TDP haven't answered them yet, at least not fully.

I think the The Daily Page deserves a bit of a defense here - really, it's Daily section further fleshes out a strong local coverage scene. It's something, for example, that the Beacon had thought about doing back in my day. Isthmus's readers benefit from the expanded coverage, and the coverage does a good job of maintaining the same feel as the rest of the Isthmus. Its blog aggregator functions to further flesh things out, and has become a nice part of the local blogging community. One of the problems Post has, and one they've shown no ability to recognize, much less fix, is that there is no sense of overall theme - it's too disparate, and there's no connection there except that all of the blogs listed are under the Post umbrella.

As for why we should read blogs at all - well, deuce if I know that one.

The Tolerance of the Left, part II

Apparently the "tolerance" of the Left I experienced last week was not an isolated incident. As many probably know, Vice President Cheney was the target of a suicide attack while in Afghanistan yesterday. Thankfully he was unharmed, but at least some people are wishing he wasn't:

Too bad. Had the lunatic succeeded, he would have been doing us a service. It didn’t seem to bother Cheney much, though. He was actually smiling for photos a bit later on, despite the deaths of and injuries to those who fell in his stead.


There's also this one:

OH My God. Now Dead Eye Dick can claim to be a genuine combat vet war hero. Will CIC Bushlie give him a Medal of Honor for gettin close to the action? Well, that settles it. No more out of country trips for Dead Eye Dick or Bushlie. Much to risky. Have to send Condo from now on. What a bummer.

By the way. How do we know they missed him? Has anybody seen him in person? You know how Bush Public Relations fakes everything like that fake Thanksgiving where Bushlie took plastic turkeys to the troops?No wonder Laura said this Iraq War is "wearing".

Oh well this is the price you have to pay Dick if you want to conquer the worlds OIL.


Michelle Malkin has a list of some of the more offensive responses to the story.

Certainly those who were killed or wounded in the attack should be remembered for their service and sacrifice. They were protecting the installation and everyone inside when the attack occurred, that should never be diminished.

What strikes me is the willingness to blame Cheney for the attack and not the Taliban or the guy who actually blew himself up. It's as if the Left actually believes that this man is so evil that no matter what he does or where he goes, he is responsible for all that is bad and wrong in world today. Cheney is still the Vice President of the United States, the Taliban and Al Qaeda aren't just attacking him, they are attacking the United States! If Cheney had resigned after '04 and someone else was in Afghanistan does anyone think there would not have been an attack?

I am beginning to fear that the political Left in this country has become so blinded by hate towards the entire Bush administration that they would actually be glad if one of them were to die or be killed.

For a group of people who constantly deride conservatives and Republicans for a lack of tolerance, empathy or compassion it is very telling that they themselves can find none.

"Its ribs are ceiling beams, its guts are carpeting"

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a great feature piece on St. Mary's Challenger, a Great Lakes steam freighter preparing for it's 101st season on the water:

There aren't many ships as rugged as Challenger, which took its maiden voyage in 1906 - two years before Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile.

That's like having a ship from Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet on active duty in the U.S. Navy.*




















Oddly enough, I happened to see St. Mary's Conquest - same fleet, not same ship as in the story - coming into port last summer in Manitowoc, Wisconsin with the only other vessel on the lakes powered by a "Skinner Marine Unaflow steam engine," the S.S. Badger Carferry, seen in the background of the shot I managed to snap.

A fellow cement-hauler for Hannah Marine Corp., St. Mary's Conquest is a relative newbie, first launched in 1937.

"Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams..."

2.26.2007

Well deserved, and overdue

Major Bruce Crandall has been awarded the Medal of Honor, and it is long overdue. Crandall's bravery in Vietnam is awe-inspiring to say the least. For anyone unfamiliar with his actions he was the pilot who came to the aid of Lt. Col. Hal Moore's battalion in the Ia Drang valley in 1965 and immortalized in the book and movie We Were Soldiers...

Major Crandall's actions were amazing and we owe him, and other men like him, a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our country.

Random Sampler Plate

Meant to post this a few days back....

Bring back Kingsbury Beer!

A crazy peek at the Antarctican music scene - yes, there is one (HT/Frank)

Show some Sconnie pride! Ben and Troy were both in classes with me; glad to see they're doing well.

Another Reason to Vote for Ray Allen

Posted by Picasa

Count me opposed prima facie to public funding for city-level races.

Pushed by lame duck King and supported by Mayor C,etc. - who alludes to tapping the general fund down the road - it makes about as much sense as the giant snow rubber ducky that showed up on the capitol grounds today (unless it was erected in honor of King's impending departure from office?).

Ray Allen has it right on yet another issue.

2.25.2007

Lightning on the Terrace















A strong, strange wind.















Stray ray from a sunburst.




















Tethered birds from the balcony.















Lakefront mirage.










Dance of the clerestory.




















Roman candles.




















Translucence.

Another reason to be skeptical of the Post

Have you seen very much local content over there? Their aggregator sidebar has a little, but most of it is pretty inane blather about stuff that isn't particularly local.

Madison Snowstorm




















Good thing my car is a piece of junk. If it had been any nicer, I would've been worried when the Bobcat rescued it from deep snow this morning, lifting the front end up and out of a deep spot along the curb.








































Year of the Pig? A half-hearted attempt at Bucky for the game this afternoon?

















Bock-a-nalia















A group of roommates, friends, and acquaintances was headed out to Middleton for Capital Brewery's BockFest yesterday afternoon, and naturally someone had to be the DD. Guess who drew short straw. Despite the ignominious designation, I had a good time - and even a taste of the famed Blonde. The best part of the event was the "Fish Fly" which was signaled by the arrival of the chartreuse dinosaur on the brewery warehouse ramparts.









As Kirby the veteran fishthrower strode mage-like to the roof's edge, flags flying, I suddenly wondered if I hadn't wandered into the latest Central Asian Color Revolution. With roars from the crowd below, the beads stopped flying from the roof and Kirby began launching smoked chubs into the masses. Many of them didn't make it to the multitude of outstretched gloves and mugs intact... Someone near me mentioned that the throwing of fish and copious beer consumption was an ancient Germanic tradition where the local ruler would effectively reinforce his rule with a northern version of "Bread and Circus."















The event was packed - and much younger than I would have expected. It was a hearty dose of fellow twenty-somethings with a fun assortment of drinking and cold-weather gear. I ran into all sorts of people I hadn't seen in a long time.




















And a word to the wise - don't wear your Sunday best if you go next year. You might get a chunk of fish or two on you, like the guy in the shot above (he eventually maneuvered most of it into his empty Bock mug).














Viva la doppelbock!

2.24.2007

A beer with Ray Allen

On a bit of a lark, I decided to go to the College Republicans kick-off event last Thursday, largely to comisserate with Mike over the recent stir he caused at the Herald.

As it turned out, Ray Allen made an appearance. I'd been fairly lukewarm on him - certainly he had my vote, but I really wasn't excited about the race. After spending an hour chatting with him, though, I can definitely say that's changed.

He's wonderfully engaging in person, and has a lot of interesting things to say. He seems to be strongly on the libertarian side, focusing on issues of crime and, for students, Halloween. The tobacco ban also seemed to be under his skin and, of course, there was that damnable trolly.

He told me, and I believe him, that he was the first candidate to use billboards in a Madison mayoral race. He found them very effective in the primary - and they certainly do seem to have helped in distinguishng him from Munoz, given that neither of the major local papers gave any significant coverage to any candidate other than Mayor Dave. He plans to continue using them, taking his message now in a more positive direction.

He also thinks that Mayor Dave is as extended as he can be organizationally - and that the Allen campaign stands to capitalize on that. His take is that Dave went all out to get a groundswell in the primaries, and that Dave won't be able to gather many more recruits for the campaign, while Allen sees himself as just really beginning to pick up steam.

Should be an interesting race. Allen really wants it, but will he be able to pick up the votes he needs? He's certainly got mine.

The Continued Unraveling of Tim Hardaway

Someone really needs to get Timmy Hardaway an agent who will tell him to shut his yap for awhile.

So at no point did you ever try to understand their lifestyle or way of life?


No. Never did. Never wanted to.

Do you want to now?

No. I don't want to … try to find some type of understanding of why they live the way they live or why they are the way they are.

This excerpt from Scoop Jackson's extensive recent interview with Tim Hardaway is simply stunning. Even after his initial grand mal faux pas in reaction to former NBA player John Amaechi's decision to come out, Hardaway hasn't quite gotten the hint.

I'll give him one thing - he's brutally honest about his own beliefs. But he's also remarkably stupid, tactless, and stubbornly unwilling to empathize. If one doesn't like something, one should have some understanding of why. Discussing finding out that a fellow player is gay:

You feel like you've been double-crossed.

Perhaps. But the trust issue seems besides the point; Tim Hardaway continues to make it clear that he doesn't like you if you're gay - whether you're in the closet or not.

I still don't accept their lifestyle. No.

The whole affair has been rather surreal. George Takei from Star Trek taped this wacky response to Hardaway.

I think, at root, Hardaway's refusal to view homosexuals as human beings - even if they're sinful, disordered, or 'wrong' in his eyes - is the sharp blow to the solar plexus in all of this. In a major sport that has never had an openly gay player in its history, Amaechi's dilemma should at least prompt one to ponder the scenario.

Concealing something to retain standing in the community - whether it's an embarrassing surgery, mafia dealings, a sordid past, or sexual orientation - has to take an immense internal toll. Brings to mind Plutarch's story of the Spartan boy and the fox. Advisable behavior or not, it's interesting.

The most frightening thing about Hardaway's reaction is his visceral refusal to consider thinking critically about the Amaechi ordeal at even that detached level, as a human experience.

The Wayward Sons at the Rat















A little Colorado Bluegrass on a snowy night.







































View from the cheap seats.




















After the show, AB chats it up with his hero Benny "Burle" Galloway, who talked about working with Yonder Mountain String Band in Colorado. "I would just play a song at them, and they would play it back...I was like, whoa, now this..."

Burle, a cornerstone of The Wayward Sons, wrote all of the tracks on YMSB's 2003 recording 'Old Hands.' The pics (from early in the show) don't tell, but he had an amazing number of people up and dancing before the first set even ended.

What's the big deal?

As Brad V mentioned below, I have apparently touched a nerve. Normally, I would let stupid things like this go, and for the most part I dismiss the type of hatred that some people felt compelled to spew on the Herald website. However, I am getting a bit tired of turning the other cheek.

What makes this different is that these comments aren't just directed at me - they impact all of us who are veterans of the Iraq war. One constant during the war had been that no matter what, people would support the troops. Liberals and anti-war critics had promised us they had learned the lessons of Vietnam and would never again disrespect the troops. That's beginning to be an empty promise.

I know that some of the more disgusting comments are still a small minority viewpoint, but they are gaining in popularity. With the loss of popular support for the war, the anti-war movement has become more and more aggressive in its opposition. Even though many obviously don't want to believe it, what happened during Vietnam is happening again - and I say that not only because of the last couple of days, but wounded vets in DC have been spit on. Sound familiar?

I refuse to apologize for what we have done in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a murderous thug responsible for nearly 4.5 million deaths. He killed and tortured his own people. He had rape rooms. He sponsored terrorism by Palestinians openly, who knows what he sponsored in secret. Saddam had to go and the people of Iraq are better for it.

The violence may be bad in Baghdad and Anbar province, but there has been a lot of progress overall.

Young girls are attending schools again, schools have been rebuilt and built all over the country, hospitals are up and running again in Shiite and Kurdish areas. There is more good than many are willing to admit.

Sectarian violence is dangerous because it is much more than a "civil war." It is much more complicated than that. In truth the factions fighting each other - and us, we are still getting attacked by the way - are supported by outside sources. The Shiites are being supported by Iran, the Sunnis are supported by Syria and groups like Al Qaeda. We must remember that the groups fighting are not committed to democracy. They are Islamic extremists that would support terrorism if they win.

There are high stakes right now in the war in Iraq. Make no mistake that this is the central front in the fight against radical Islam. Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress have been so blinded by their hatred for President Bush that they are almost enthusiastically calling for our withdrawal.

2.23.2007

Chillin' with USB

Kev tosses up a nifty gadget for the blogging set...but this looks even sweeter.

Mike H Makes a Stir with Iraq War Column

Head over to Boots and Sabers to see the stir our very own Mike H has inspired with his recent column in the Badger Herald newspaper.

At Boots: 57 comments and counting...

At the BH: 19 and seething...

Who has more audacity - Mike for taking the position, or the commenters for the level of outrage expressed?

2.22.2007

Windows Vista







A few shots from Monday morning on the square...

LIB Gets Props in the Cardinal

Will wonders never cease?

Via Opiate, we learn that Letters in Bottles is featured as the inaugural entry in The Daily Cardinal's new Blog of the Week Feature:

With a definite conservative leaning, the two former UW-Madison students started out mostly by commenting on campus issues, bringing a student perspective to important happenings on campus.

Often blogging at breakneck speed—with multiple posts each day during its prime—”Letters in Bottles” also delves deep into the field of city, state and national politics and has picked up quite a following.


While Mark seems miffed that the Cardinal stole some of his glory as the man who precipitated our return (and rightly points out the irony of how heavy our Herald connections are, not to mention our Beacon connotations) I must say kudos to the old DB. They were even respectful enough to use our blogging monikers.

Perhaps they're finally trying to appease Steve to avoid any future Klostermanic fisking. Or maybe it's truly just raising the bar - admittedly, they didn't have this tripe (not a single point for Judge?) from a Doyle intern on their pages today.

While I think we've always been a healthy mix of libertarian, independent, and conservative strands, I guess that makes something "definite conservative" in campus terms. Oh, and get ready - our new "prime" is shaping up nicely. Cheers!

Assessing Madison.com's New "The Post" Publication

I bumped into a few copies of "The Post" last night at Laundry 101. As the first publication I'm aware of devoted solely to regurgitating online content, I didn't know what to expect. There's certainly a lot of ore in the local blogosphere and online scene, but mining it, refining it and selling it successfully in a different storefront would take some pluck.

Unfortunately, I wasn't all that impressed.

The thin publication - and yes, it is only the first edition - was rather sparse. Content torn from familiar surroundings, like feedback comment posts, was difficult to connect with sans online context. Longer pieces that seemed to fit the publication best were almost too long for the blogger set. A "Things to Do" sort of map was a meager mix of what seemed to be paid advertising and a not-so-comprehensive outlook. A Google search 'battle' sort of feature was somewhat intriguing.

Overall, my first interaction with "The Post" in print was a bit hollow. It was like taking a handful of fireflies and putting them in a jar. Unless they're a bunch of amazing fireflies, like in this video (HT/DP), the beauty is bound to be brief.

The Post, for now, lacked the fluidity and expansiveness of the medium it was trying to distill. Perhaps with better content and some time, this will change. Until then, I'll stick with the rough and tumble motion, the interactivity of local online sources; nothing gold can stay.

Although getting paid for a post or two to appear in print wouldn't be a bad thing...

2.21.2007

Judgment = Patriotism?

When it comes to the war in Iraq, apparently Democrats can call the President and his policies pretty much whatever they want. On the other hand, if someone in the administration even dare to question the Democrats' "strategy" of withdrawal, well Pelosi is going to call President Bush and tell on them.

Here's what Cheney actually said:

"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy. [Which] is to break the will of the American people... try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit."

Somewhere in there Pelosi thought that Cheney was attacking her patriotism, and even tried to call Bush to ask him to repudiate Cheney's comments. I don't see anywhere in that quote that questions anyone's patriotism. Judgement? Yes. Strategy? Sure.

Pelosi also felt it necessary to comment on the British plan to reduce their troop levels in southern Iraq - where the situation is much, much different from Baghdad:

"If it's going so well, we'd like to withdraw our troops as well."

I wish that Pelosi would actually know what she is talking about before she says things like this. The southern part of Iraq is, and has consistently been, much more stable and secure than Baghdad. To the Brits' credit, they have done an excellent job and are able to begin their draw down now. We need to remember that the same situation in one city in Iraq will not be the same as another.

Just something to share

I'm reading George Kennan's Russia Leaves the War. He's a fantastic writer, turning out some of the most beautiful lines you'd care to read, and I thought I'd pass on just a snippet:
Inside the Winter Palace, a grotesque situation existed. In the huge, ornate ballrooms, units of military cadets were quartered. Here, the air was heavy with tobacco smoke, with the smell of human bodies, with the remains of wine from bottles filched from the imperial wine cellars. In one of the innumerable great rooms on an upper floor, which was trimmed with gold, malachite, and crimson brocade, the members of the Provisional Government were sitting in proper ministerial tradition around a long green table, prolonging what had become a continuous day-and-night session. White with fatigue, smoking innumerable cigarettes, doodling frantically on the pads of white scratch paper that had been placed, with pathetic optimism, before each of them as potential repositories for a wisdom which was not there, the weary, desperate men continued to talk and wrangle through the night, drafting dramatic last-minute proclamations never to be used, dreaming up one device after another for saving the situation, while the final numbered seconds of that Russia of which they were the last custodians ticked away into history.

Exquisite.

The burden Dems should just shrug off

Pity the poor Democrats - until recently, they couldn't do a darn thing right, and even now that they're winning, they still seem to be doing everything in their power to turn that around.

Witness, for example, the latest local rift in the party: accusations of racism. And of course, if the Dems would simply stop pandering to the silliest of identity politics, this would merely be an issue of questionable leadership doing something possibly slimy.
In one of the most boneheaded maneuvers ever, the College Dems' leadership, in their zeal to support a favored candidate for Madison City Council, took unprecedented measures that prevented almost every single minority student at that meeting from participating in the endorsement vote. The College Dems weren't deliberately being racist, but perception is reality in politics, and it looks really bad when a bunch of white Democratic students change the rules at the last minute to block a bunch of black and brown students from voting at a party meeting. Not exactly the best way to encourage minority involvement in the Democratic party.
...
The effect was to prevent almost all of Woods supporters from voting. Given the groups that support each candidate, it came down to a bunch of white students telling a bunch of black and brown students that under the brand new rules they were no longer entitled to vote for their own candidate.

Of course, Wallace even acknowledged that this wasn't "a bunch of white students telling a bunch of black and brown students that under the brand new rules they were no longer entitled to vote for their own candidate" - but why bother to debate the issue on its merits, when you can sling around charges of racism?

What Can You See from the State Veterans Museum Periscope?












Perhaps a little bit too much - certainly more than the capitol!



















HT/Samwise the WM

2.20.2007

But were there free pancakes?

Kristian Knutsen is live blogging the "election parties and releated bacchanalia" related to the primaries this evening - and it looks like our endorsements must have carried weight with someone:
Annette Ziegler is running away with the race for the State Supreme Court, her blanket of television ads looking like they were very effective. Statewide, with 63% of the vote in, she is leading with 63% of the vote, over Linda Clifford with 23% and Joseph Sommers with 15%.

Ray Allen is apparently capitalizing on anti-trolley sentiment:
Muñoz has officially conceded. "Peter has conceded the race," says campaign spokesperson Dan Guerra. "We received a call from the Allen campaign, and Peter will be speaking to him soon."

"In retrospect, we just didn't have an opportunity to frame our message and get out there enough," Guerra says, pointing to Muñoz's relatively brief campaign. "He's looking forward to returning to Centro Hispaño, will continue to be involved as a civil rights leader here in town, and will keep working on issues of economic development."

Frankly, I'd blame his defeat on trying to run to the left of Mayor Dave - Cieslewicz is just too well-liked by Madison liberals, and he's hard to shoot at from his left. Allen, unsurprisingly, is picking up slack with the right, but I wonder if it will be possible for him to pick up enough. Muñoz only took about 10% of the vote, and some of that will surely shed off to Dave, who won the lion's share of the vote anyhow.

Mardi Gras in Madison

Happened to see this today and found it amusing.













Now it just seems to sum up how hard it is to feel festive any more.

Badgers Hit Number One







!


How could I neglect to say 'Booyah!'?

2.19.2007

Thoughts on the Mardi Gras Primary

If you're voting tomorrow, Tuesday February 20, here are some thoughts to take along as you head to the polls (remember your vote could be extremely influential given projected ultra-low turnout).

Supreme Court - Annette Ziegler
Ziegler has experience in private practice, as a prosecutor, and - most importantly - as a sitting judge. She is also at least aware of the concept of judicial restraint based on her website and public commentary, which is more than her chief opponent, Linda Clifford, can say (she in fact endorses "evolution of the common law" - which methinks happens well enough without explicit advocates and sometimes evolves away from liberty). Accusations of partisanship on both sides end up canceling each other out. Sommers does not seem like a serious candidate, as I've pointed out, although I still wouldn't be surprised if he made it through tomorrow. While Clifford is intelligent, has a good deal of legal experience - and has brought tons of traffic to this blog since our old post on her is #1 on a key google search - Ziegler's judicial experience, her apparent inclincation toward a tempered view of the judiciary's role, and the fact that the Wilcox seat is a "conservative" one on a closely balanced court make her the better choice.

Madison Mayor - Ray Allen
In a race that has had little substance beyond references to Mr. Rogers and whether or not a man born in a log cabin brought down the Berlin Wall, I'm almost tempted to write in Davy Mayer (zeppelin transport would be fun). I thought about standing with Sand-Storm, but the one concrete policy he puts forth is to raise taxes. As far as other issues go, I'm against the trolley - Mike lays out some thoughtful reasons why - and a number of other items supported by Mayor Dave, including the smoking ban, IZ, and the minimum wage hike. That left Munoz and Allen. Both have a wealth of life and professional experience, but I believe Allen has a better chance of upholding some semblance of true fiscal responsibility. And he's hardcore anti-trolley.

District 6 - Adam Casey or Brooks McGrath
Somehow or another, I managed to move into the periphery of what is probably one of the most left-leaning wards in America. Centered on Willie Street, the district has four options up in the primary. Marsha Rummel clearly has some legs here. But as the co-founder of Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative, which was foisted on me as an undergrad and proved to be a textbook-purchasing logistical nightmare, I can't vote for her. Brooks McGrath, with his stands against sick leave and Metro on free market grounds, aligns most closely with my position. To have a chance here, though, it might be marginally more rational to vote for Adam Casey, who works at Star Liquor and at least questions sick leave. He also comes recommended from a friend.

School Board
Meh...slightly biased eightball says...go Thomas or Moss.

Elsewhere
Friends in District 13 tell me candidate Mike Clark has been beatin' around the 'Bush - the Greenbush, that is. Supposedly he was out going door-to-door in the ridiculously cold weather.


Here's where to vote tomorrow.

Who was the best President?

Seeing as today is Presidents' Day, I cannot help but think about the presidents whom I believe to be the greatest we have ever had.

While most young conservatives probably would say that Ronald Reagan was the greatest - often without any idea as to why - and he was one of the best, but I don't think the best. At least not yet. In truth there are only two men worthy of being called the greatest and everyone knows to whom I am referring: Washington and Lincoln.

The reasons I consider them the greatest is simple. For Washington he was a man who had unlimited and unquestioned power, yet laid it all down and went home - twice. History cannot overstate his importance for this nation and our view of power. His is an example we should all try to follow.

As for Lincoln, he was able to steer the nation through our most dark and dangerous time, but it was something more, too. A week before he was assassinated Lincoln toured Richmond and stopped to speak with freed slaves. The image must have been amazing. The most powerful man in the nation - the man who had saved the nation - was taking time to listen to freed blacks. He began advocating for the right of black men to vote, and began to do much more for the civil rights of former slaves than most historians today give him credit for.

They're my picks, what about everyone else? Who do you think is the best president ever?

2.18.2007

A Salute to Franco - Shoe Repair Shop, That Is




















Recently, I needed the leather thumbstrap on my great grandfather's vintage German accordion replaced. Where exactly does one go to get such things back in operable condition?

Turns out, Franco Shoe Repair, the little yellow quonset shop on Regent Street was up to the task. The service was swift, inexpensive, and high quality.

Steve S tells me he had a similar experience recently when he, too, took an odd job - repairing a leather message bag - to Franco's.

So here's to you, Mr. Franco Shoe Repair guy, a bit of free advertising from LIB in appreciation for your fine work.

2.17.2007

Madison Polar Plunge 2007

Success!

The crowd waiting to register shortly before 12:30 p.m. was ridiculously long.

Here are a few shots of our team as we shiver our way through the Plunge routine - hitting the hot tub at the end felt great (even though the water was not nearly as hot as two years ago).

Kudos to Scuba, who survived the ordeal as well.

See you next year!







































































*Photos courtesy of the incomparable PL.

Live from Memorial Union: Polar Plunge Prep

I was asked at the last minute and I couldn't say no to jumping into Lake Monona on a lovely winter day. It's a bit like vengeance against Mother Nature after last year's cancelation. The bus should be here momentarily to head over to Olin-Turville Park.

Let's hope we get to jump this year! After plunging two years back - and watching an episode or two of Man Against Wild - I think I'm ready.

2.16.2007

Questions on the State Capitol Evacuation

"there was an odor of the gas in the air for a good part of the day"

The Wisconsin State Capitol building was evacuated after 4:00 p.m. today due to a gas leak. The event was serious enough to warrant the Sergeant's staff to go around to offices and request that people leave. However, as Wispolitics update on the situation notes, the capitol is not heated by gas.

Talking to one Capitol source who left shortly after 4:30 to head home (rather than stand in a frozen limbo outside), it seems the Speaker's office may have known about a possible gas leak as early as 8:00 a.m. this morning.

That raises some questions in my mind. If someone was aware of the possibility early in the morning, why did it take until after 4:00 to make the call to evacuate?

Perhaps one difficulty in determining whether a gas leak had occurred or not might be the unpleasant - and strong - smell of body odor that generally permeates the capitol basement on any given day in winter. Just conjecture, but a factual part of the capitol environment nonetheless. This account's lack of concrete answers about the source makes be think it might be a possible factor.

Cold Feet

2.15.2007

Madison Interactive Mini-Recap

"So maybe it's okay to put advertising on your site."

The first words I heard as I entered the tail end of the Madison Interactive event at the High Noon Saloon. Sounded therapeutic; so were all the appetizers arrayed before me on the pool table. I'd put the tally at about 25-40 in attendance.

After the panel concluded (which seemed focused on the interaction of "commerce and community" as it pertained to websites) I met Jesse from Dane101, ran into El Guante, and talked with two guys there for Happy Hour, one of whom recounted a tale of how a person fell on his head during a Fugazi cover band at his birthday party in the stage door of the Orpheum.

Also talked with Kyle from I'm Just Sayin Is All and his buddy Chris about all kinds of crazy stuff; Platonic philosophy, mag-lev trains in vacuum tunnels, whether to abandon blogger, terrorist whales (to counteract the anti-terror dolphins), random acts of kindness, Amazon.com web advertising, and free will or the lack thereof. We didn't delve into quantum mechanics, but it was about that random.

It sounds like future events of a similar nature will unfold; I'd probably return.

"The Indonesian navy has now sent ...warships... to intercept suspected sand-smugglers."

Apparently, this is not a joke.

The recent Indonesian ban on sand exports is causing unrest at home, too:

"the Indonesian sand-shovellers' association, facing unemployment, is threatening to sue the government over the ban."

I really don't know what to say.

Life's a beach, I guess.

Can the Democrats pick a strategy yet?

What constitutes a strategy? What are the components necessary to claim at "strategy" on the war in Iraq?

Every time I here the Democrats criticize President Bush and "the surge" I cannot help but think about those questions. Day after day after day we see Speaker Pelosi, or her front man Rep. John Murtha, in front of a camera saying that the United States' has failed in Iraq. Our own Senator Feingold has pressed for a binding resolution that would eventually cut off funding for the war.

Still, what is the alternative? All these people say with absolute certainty that we are failing in Iraq and that the President's strategy is wrong, but what is their solution? This is where one must answer the first question: what constitutes a strategy?

The Democrats, Murtha and Feingold in particular, seem convinced that "redeployment" is the strategy that will allow us to leave an Iraq capable of finding "the political solution they desperately need." The problem is that a political solution is not possible in Iraq if there is no stability. The "political solution" that would result of a premature redeployment of troops would be the eventual military domination of one sectarian group - Sunni, Shiite or Kurds - over the other two. Should the Sunnis prove victorious, it would be through the financial and tactical help of Syria, and if the Shiites prevail it would be a frighteningly close ally to the Ayatollahs in Iran - who are already supplying weapons to Shiite militia. If this is the result Senator Feingold and others really want, then I suppose that simple redeployment is indeed a strategy.

I also have trouble understanding how the Democrats can be so staunchly against the surge and still manage to unanimously approve General Petraeus to be the commander on the ground in Iraq. The surge is in large part Petraeus' own recommendation. If the plan is doomed to failure why would any sane person vote to give command to the man who came up with it?

One criticism favored by the Democrats is that President Bush ignored the Iraq Study Groups recommendations, yet the chairman of the ISG, James Baker, has said in testimony before the Senate that we should "give it a chance."

None of the so-called "alternatives" offered by Democrats in Congress are actually viable. Partitioning Iraq into three states? Nope. The sectarian violence would still remain in a battle over oil rights and the city of Baghdad - the same result as redeployment. What about the diplomacy angle? Oh, if only Iran and Syria were brought to the table there would be peace. The idea that Ahmadinejad would negotiate for the peaceful resolution of Iraq is ridiculous. He thinks the Shiites would an all out civil war - minus our involvement - so what incentive does he have to come to the table?

Whether the Democrats want to admit it or not, the best chance for a stable and democratic solution to Iraq is to let General Petraeus do his job. The only chance Iraq has is to reign in the sectarian violence and find a democratic solution to the problems facing its people. It is not going to be easy, it almost certainly will not be quick, but it is the only chance the Iraqis have.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?




In the pines, in the pines...
where the sun don't ever shine...







...I would shiver the whole night through.

Huh?

"...we would offer a reminder that Madison attorney Linda Clifford is running a bipartisan campaign..."

Okay, but isn't the State Supreme Court supposed to be non-partisan? I guess the Cap. Times must have trotted out its tired old "let's put a veneer of moderation on our hackery" editorial template and forgotten which government position they were talking about.

2.14.2007

State Capitol Goes Crimson

Some will say Valentines.

Steve might say something about a Russian Revolution.

I say victory.


UPDATE: My giddiness on a win over the Gophers having subsided, I think Jib has the proper interpretation. Here are some better views as well.

Song Showdown

Which is better?

Led Zeppelin's Ramble On or Truckin' by the Grateful Dead?

Someone wants to know.

2.13.2007

Oh, Lordie

Dear sweet God help us all. Tommy T, man with more ideas that a dying duck in a thunderstorm*, is actually making a go of a presidential bid, and the local media is lovin' it**:
"He told you nuts and bolts," said Marshall, 59, a retired Navy technician. "He didn't give you an overview. That's what too many politicians do, they give you overviews so they have plenty of wiggle room.
"I respect him for what he's accomplished and for doing so in a liberal state. He can obviously build a consensus." [emphasis added]

Right. Such a liberal state, Wisconsin. So liberal that we, say, pass our own special gay marriage ban (just in case those durn gays go gettin' funny ideers!).

Madison is liberal, sure. Milwaukee maybe a bit. Wisconsin? No, not so much.

Anyway, apparently Iowans love short, sleazy dudes who ooze the "greasy pol" vibe from their pores, and who make me gag every time they say "where Packers score, Harleys roar, and eagles soar." Ugh.

Tommy is a terrible candidate and deserves to be have his hide thoroughly tanned in the primary. He did fine in Wisconsin, and yeah, welfare to work is a program I respect, but really, he absolutely does not deserve to come anywhere near a national office.




*my dad used to use this expression all the time when I was a kid. I have no idea what it actually means, but I like the phrase. Feel free to interpret in a way that jibes with the rest of the post.
**yes, I know this is a few days old. Yes, I know blogs are supposed to be all cutting edge, look-at-me-I'm-talking-about-something-that-happened-two-minutes-ago and that, but really? Complain to someone else.

Can the Elephant Be Made to Dance?

David Boaz of the Cato Institute suggests in a new column that the Republican Party must realign itself after suffering a traumatic fall:
About 2 million libertarian voters switched parties in 2006, for a net Republican loss of 4 million votes. The shift was strongest among the youngest voters. For decades, the Republican party united libertarians and conservatives against the big-government Democratic party. But the recent Republican trend toward big spending and centralization has discouraged both groups.

The modern Republican party, at the national level, has certainly left Conscience of a Conservative mouldering on the shelf since the 1994 revolution (education policy, spending, size of government, etc). Boaz rightly suggests that a swing to something of a libertarian Goldwater-Reagan axis would help with younger voters:

In a new Zogby poll, fully 59 percent of respondents said they're "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." That's a majority for a modern Republican Party. Republicans need to look to the future: Younger voters are more likely to be libertarian, more likely to accept gay marriage, and more likely to have voted Democratic in 2006. Republicans need to reach them before the Democrats lock them in.


But can the GOP do such a thing? It will be extremely difficult; President Bush has been a galvanizing figure whose coattails are about as good as an acid facewash for many in our generation. His connotation as an posterboy for anti-intellectualism has hurt the party deeply when it comes to attracting bright, rising minds.

In a post-Bush world, perhaps the party will pin its waywardness on W, disassociate rapidly and move on. But that leaves a lot of social conservative voters with nowhere to go. I still can't figure out how a McCain, Romney, or Giuliani gets through the primaries nationally. None of them is a true-blue Red-Stater: Romney has to go to Michigan to seem a few shades closer to the heartland; Giuliani just plain isn't beyond the moment of September 11th; and McCain, while he has the pedigree, now seems more Beltway than Arizona (not to mention the albatross around his neck). I think the South Carolina primary will be the sticking point for the GOP.

Giuliani's name ID, if it can outrun his other attributes, looks like the most realistic ballot counterweight for success in the general given the field.

Sure, governors typically emerge from the woodwork as presidential contests evolve - and Bill Richardson might on the Democratic side (he's probably the most roundly qualified and proven candidate on any side). Of the other GOP hopefuls, though - Huckabee, Thompson, etc. - who has enough starpower to step into the ring against Hillary, Obama, and Edwards? Brownback? Daniel knows him, but do most Americans?

Getting the 'ol elephant to dance may be a very painful ordeal in the short term.

Local boys made good

Browsing around on the Internet earlier, I noticed an ad on Pitchfork that I thought looked familiar. Then I realized, "Oh yeah, Sleeping in the Aviary. Cool!"

In my head, I know it's probably not a big deal that a local band scraped together enough filthy lucre to buy some adspace on Pitchfork, but I thought it was cool all the same that I knew a band before they even were advertising there.

Heraldry

All sorts of good stuff over at the Badger Herald these days:

Opiate touts the hegemon: "If you’re looking for black coffee stiffer than an Al Gore stump speech, Starbucks is your place."

The venerable Sundeep takes on the Board of Regents flawed decision on race-based admissions: "It is a bald-faced lie to claim that the inclusion of race does not provide students of color with a bonus over equally qualified white students."

Other good writers are emerging as of late, too.

Our very own Mike H graces the pages with an assault on the Frankenstein Veto.

As does LIB commentator of yore, Ryan S., who looks at ethanol.

Will Smith has been putting some good stuff up too - you can tell by his style he reads Krauthammer.

* Not to be overlooked, The Beacon is still plugging along with bloggers Jenna and Mike F at the helm. That makes it a solid two years under the belt, if I remember correctly.

2.12.2007

Where In Madison?

Doyle's hypocracy on taxes

Governor Doyle is scrambling now to plug holes in the budget he claimed was balanced. Like any good liberal, he is proposing tax and fee increases - not spending cuts.

However, if one were to look at who would be affected by these increases one would see that the very people Doyle has promised to help - those with low incomes, the working poor - would be harmed the most. The Governor wants to raise the cost of licenses by $10. Although for many such an increase would be a mere nuisance, for some it may be substantially more than that - especially if some of the other proposed increases take effect.

Other increases in taxes include a proposed tax on hospitals and gas stations - all with the qualifier that they cannot be passed onto consumers. Such a provision is ridiculous. There is perhaps no way that the state can force a company to fully absorb a tax increase like this. So, if the hospitals and the gas stations do get hit, who ultimately pays? The answer is simple: we do.

The increased costs will certainly be passed on to consumers in the form of increased prices and it hurts those with the lest amount of money the most. These taxes and fees - even though they are supposedly aimed at the "rich" - are the most regressive of all taxes. The family struggling to get by is going to be hardest hit by these increases. Governor Doyle isn't attacking luxury items that only the rich purchase, he is instead going after necessities such as health care and transportation costs that all must inevitably pay for.

For a Governor who is supposed to care about the poor and downtrodden, he apparently has no problem picking their pockets.

Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race Update

Yesterday, this flyer from Supreme Court candidate Joseph Sommers was placed under the windshield wipers of cars in the parking lot at the Barnes and Noble on the west side:





















I didn't know anything about Sommers, the darkhorse third candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, until I found this edifying piece of literature.

Unfortunately, that was probably to his advantage - it smacks of a little too much conspiracy theorizing for me. It's intriguing, though, how he attacks Linda Clifford pretty much exclusively in the piece, leaving Judge Annette Ziegler out of it. The Ed Thompson endorsement is interesting, too.

The February 20th Statewide Primary - which I had all but forgotten about - could prove interesting. It may fly completely below the radar, which gives it the potential for a Hundertmark/Voegeli situation where one of the "major" candidates stands to lose to a complete unknown simply because a male name is on the ballot and none of the candidates have tried or been able to penetrate with any kind of meaningful publicity. A small enough turnout and it might just happen.