Friday, December 29, 2006
"Pick fights with Republicans, not Democrats. - Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California" (quoting USA Today here)
However, in a triumph for hypocrisy this same newspaper made the classic call for "bipartisan progress" in a post-November 7th election editorial which I have excerpted below:
"But even accounting for the unusual circumstances, Bush's picks are troubling. In the days after tide-turning elections, the two parties examine each other's signals to gauge where they might work together and where they will clash. Some of these picks seem like the political equivalent of a poke in the eye to the incoming majority. They could signal a state of denial about the Nov. 7 thumping, or a reluctance by Bush to move to the political center. In either case, they're not an encouraging portent for bipartisan progress."
So which is it USA Today? President Bush should make appointments to key offices that are pre-approved by the Democratic Congress or do you want Speaker-elect Pelosi to "pick fights with Republicans...." ?
Let us call on the Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress to resolve to eliminate personal income taxes -- now that would be a fantastic "living wage" for everyone.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) political party has declared "color television is a basic necessity" so they have distributed 60,000 TV sets so far and will distribute another 30,000 sets in the near future. DMK won elections in May 2006 that brought them to power on the promise of free TVs to the poor residents of Tamil Nadu.
What an amazing coincidence because following Christmas dinner with family friends this week we discussed a range of issues including immigration, war, and poverty -- yes, great Christmas themes I admit!! -- at which point I made the point that "nearly 95% of US households have TVs so what is truly 'poverty' today?" I too want poverty eliminated by not via "solutions" proposed by people like John "Two Americas" Edwards (http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com) which include mandating a "living wage" -- economic growth and entrepreneurs is what the world needs not more government programs.
As for Mr. Marx he was the original welfare queen since his family lived primarily from Friedrich Engel's income derived from the family business in Manchester, UK so Marx called for a revolution while enjoying the fruits of capitalism - the very system he was fighting. For reference please see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx under "Family life".
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Despite the Saturday Night Live skits portraying President Ford as a clumsy idiot -- which of course he wasn't as evidenced by his football career at the perennial football powerhouse, University of Michigan -- I always had a good feeling about President Ford. He clearly had the "I could drink a beer with that guy" quality so often sought by voters.
President Ford's death this week overshadowed an op-ed/open letter really from Adam Hochschild, author of "King Leopold's Ghost: a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa". Hochschild originally wrote this op-ed for the Los Angeles Times but it was also published in my local newspaper. Hochschild's op-ed draws a parallel between King Leopold II of Belgium's brutal colonization of the "Belgian Congo" in Africa and President George W. Bush's current occupation of Iraq.
Having lived/worked in Belgium and having worked with several Africans I do not believe Hochschild comparison between Leopold and Bush is entirely accurate but this is not the focus of my posting today. In his op-ed Hochschild states that, "Lyndon B. Johnson, entered politics as a traditional segregationist but ended up doing more for civil rights than any American president of this century."
You are WRONG on both points Mr. Hochschild regarding President Johnson.
President Johnson robbed American taxpayers by creating a mish-mash of social welfare programs collectively known as the "Great Society" which ultimately created a modern day "plantation" system via public housing projects, food stamps, and government jobs programs for the nation's poor which were predominantly black/African-American.
If you don't believe this please read a copy of my friend, Star Parker's (a black woman/former "welfare queen" now a limited government activist) excellent book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation" which destroys the myth that the "Great Society" helped America's poor. Bottom line -- President Johnson used federal tax dollars to move the nation's poor to housing projects and managed all aspects of the residents' lives via federal programs.
Mr. Hochschild needs to read a few books himself (as he suggests to President Bush in his op-ed) such as Hayek's classic tome -- "The Road to Serfdom"
Habitat (www.habitat.org) not HUD,
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
1. New Hampshire
5. New Jersey
Based on this top ten list let me offer the following observations:
1.) Minnesota and Iowa - (my adopted and home states) are ranked #2 and #3 of course. My selfish concern is that people will flee the coastal areas for these Great Plains/Upper Midwest states for the "good life" but given the negative connotations that I have seen people give to my beloved "Iowa" this migration is a VERY small fear of mine.
2.) New Hampshire - this state was selected by the "Free State Project" (http://freestateproject.org/) to be the official state where freedom-loving people would relocate to in order to create a "critical mass" of such people that would enable a popular political revolution to reduce government in order to maximize individual liberties.
Enjoy your home,
Bono of course is Irish and Ireland and the United Kingdom have a bloody shared history which continues today as the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland where Catholics and Protestants continue to kill each other -- apparently religious intolerance and poverty are more welcome in Belfast versus peace and prosperity. The VERY first thing I thought of when I read of Bono's knighthood was the lyrics of U2's 1983 song, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" which follow below --
"Broken bottles under childrens' feet. Bodies strewn across the dead end street."
This song was written about the religious killings in Northern Ireland so I was shocked Bono's quote (via his spokesman) was focused on "Africa" not "Northern Ireland" given his heritage and musical history.
Merry Christmas to Belfast,
Now I am descended from German-American farmers (why don't we use this title like African-Americans?) so I am probably not sensitive enough but I have to think that "Fighting Sioux" is a term of respect especially based on the Native American Indian history that I studied during my years as a Boy Scout -- we were taught respect for their heritage not racist thoughts but I digress :-) Last week I read that the University of Minnesota's (UOM) Advisory Committee on Athletics asked the Minnesota Gophers athletic department (www.gophersports.com) to "make every effort to avoid scheduling HOME EVENTS with schools that use American Indian mascots".
The Gophers' athletic department then announced that the UOM would not compete with UND in any sports "EXCEPT FOR MEN'S AND WOMEN'S HOCKEY because of the school's Fighting Sioux nickname." Well..............................so the Gophers can play a football game in Grand Forks, North Dakota or a hockey game in Minneapolis against the Fighting Sioux but playing a basketball game against the Fighting Sioux IN Minneapolis is verboten ("forbidden" for you non-German speakers)!!!!
What a crazy, patch work quilt athletic policy!!! My speculation is that this exception exists simply because hockey games generate CASH and the other sports don't for the UOM thus allowing the Gophers to make a statement against "racist nicknames" but can still improve their balance sheets.
I am waiting for an official response from the UOM's Athletic Department so I can post their comments here but a follow up question I have for them is -- so will you ban your fellow Big Ten Conference university, University of Illinois "Fighting Illini " (an Indian tribe for readers that don't know) from competing against the Gophers in Minneapolis unless they change their nickname?
You can't be half-pregnant Gophers,
Friday, December 22, 2006
I first heard of this story yesterday while listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows -- Garage Logic -- http://www.surfmusic.de/radio-station/kstp-am-1500,6137.html where the Mayor of Gumption County and his listeners dispense common sense solutions to everyday issues thereby eliminating the need for more government programs. But I digress :-) Regarding Mr. Warren the conversation on Garage Logic noted that when he began his weight loss program he could not do one push up but the Ohio County Sheriff's Office's physical fitness requirements call for recruits to perform 18 push ups. Following his weight loss/deputy process Mr. Warren reports he can perform 30 push ups and run 1.5 miles in 16 minutes which is pretty respectable.
Now don't get me wrong I commend Mr. Warren for taking command of his personal life -- no where in the media accounts of his story did I see any evidence of a government program to help obese people, etc. Although I can't help but conclude that there must be a shortage of personnel to become deputies since Ohio County clearly had to wait :) for Mr. Warren to lose his weight before they could hire him. Since it is clear that US soldiers/sailors/airmen will be headed home from Iraq before the 2008 elections I assume that hundreds/perhaps thousands of these veterans will be seeking employment when they return home due to their tours of duty being concluded or sadly because they lost their job at home due to the long absence in Iraq (which it apparently illegal but bad things happen).
Let me encourage our law enforcement community to actively recruit these returning veterans to become police officers given their military training and physical fitness credentials. Given the large amount of "homeland security" funds distributed by the US Congress I am certain that city and county governments have funds available for hiring our veterans.
Congratulations Deputy Warren,
Thursday, December 21, 2006
As regular SpaceBeagle readers know I OPPOSE minimum wage laws for numerous reasons but here are some quick bullet points to get your thinking or angry depending on the welfare state of your mind:
- My first job paid me $1.20 per hour washing dishes. I am only 41 years old so no this was not during the Great Depression which I note for readers given the sad state of our public school system which primarily teaches "social studies" versus "history" courses. This hourly rate and the nasty nature of the work inspired me to study well in school, read a lot of books, and go to university so I could avoid having a career in this field :)
- Minimum wages are completely arbitrary since they are set by Congress and state legislatures based on political deal making NOT based on any economic models or excellent job performance by individuals.
- Minimum wages are collectivist in nature -- why should Fred or Barb who work next to you in the assembly line be paid the same that you are when you are busting your ass to earn a promotion to line supervisor and on up the corporate ladder to provide a good life for your children?
- Minimum wages come as a "gift" from the government not because of personal achievement thus it moves people further along the "Road to Serfdom" (a book by economist Friedrich Hayek which was probably banned from your public school library).
But enough of my speechifying :) Let me offer President Bush's quote that he provided to justify this unnecessary intrusion into the economy by the government:
"So I support pairing it (wage increase) with targeted tax and regulatory relief to help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy growing."
Targeted? That means government chooses the winners and losers in the economy not consumers. Regulatory relief? Telling a busy what it MUST pay its workers if NOT regulatory relief Mr. President.
The era of Big Government appears never to have died President Clinton,
Since Miss USA agreed to go to rehab to treat her alcohol intake the journalists covering the story noted all the celebrities who have entered rehab recently such as Mel Gibson which received substantial "news coverage" in Star Magazine --
Personally, I don't watch the entertainment TV channels and my wife's People magazine is not on my regular reading list but I do see a societal need for celebrities to help bring attention to life's various challenges and diseases.
Christopher Reeve is perhaps the perfect example to support my statement because honestly, who ever discussed the term, "neuro recovery" , on CNN or in your local coffee shop until Superman fell off his horse? http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.geIMLPOpGjF/b.899265/k.CC03/Home.htm
Also, this week it was reported that First Lady Laura Bush (for a preview of the 2008 elections please check my new blog at -- http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com) recently had surgery for skin cancer which will help drive a focus on skin care issues and treatments I am certain.
Overall celebrities not only entertain the general population their tradegies/personal challenges also impact the health and welfare of the nation. Of course there are both positives and negatives to this conclusion but overall I see more good than bad being produced by such a phenomenon since unknown/faceless patients benefit when a well known celebrity falls ill with the same disease.
Dark indeed but hopeful,
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
1. Utah -- 48%
2. Nebraska - 43%
3. Minnesota - 41%
4. Iowa - 39%
5. Alaska - 39%
6. Wyoming - 39%
7. South Dakota - 39%
8. Kansas - 39%
9. Vermont - 38%
10. Montana - 38%
Source: Volunteering in America, State Trends and Rankings, and Corporation for National and Community Service
Based on these rankings let me offer the following observations:
1.) Utah has the highest percentage of citizens volunteering at nearly 50% which suggests that nearly ONE HALF OF AMERICANS aren't volunteering to do anything. Perhaps they are watching too much TV -- please note my posting here "Census Statistics" at http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com/ - regarding our couch potato culture.
2.) 8 out of 10 of these states are located in "fly over country" -- meaning they are not part of the East or West coasts' cultural elites which is the home of the limosine liberals that prefer taking our tax dollars so government can "help people" by giving grants to organizations.
3.) Minnesota and Iowa -- my home states are ranked at #3 and #4 respectively which makes me very proud.
Since Christmas is upon us why not consider helping a homeless family by volunteering to build a home for a family via Habitat for Humanity? www.habitat.org
Help the needy,
Monday, December 18, 2006
During the game I leaned over to tell Pete my prediction that -- "..........by the 2018 NFL season all teams will have the same season win/loss record since the league insists on PARITY not competition........." It is this NFL policy that inspired me to coin the phrase "sports socialism" since the socialist model is to use centralized authority (the Commissioner's office and the NFL team owners in this case -- the "politburo") to equalize everything. I would rather see a dominant football team when the Super Bowl with a perfect season record rather than today's current situation this week where the bulk of NFL teams have .500 win/loss records. Where the excitement in such a world??
Personally having studied and worked in Europe for nearly 4 years of my life I can honestly say there is not a lot the USA can learn from the European model in terms of economics and politics. However, in terms of sports I do love the "relegation" system used in football/soccer in the United Kingdom. In this system all football/soccer teams that finish in the bottom tier of their league are "relegated" to the next lower level league which is completely devastating financially and for loyal fans BUT the system does drive competition in the sport which provides a much better product for the sports fans.
My friends and colleagues know that I love football so they will understand that I want to help save the NFL from becoming the MFL -- the "Mediocre Football League" -- by suggesting they give up their policy of parity to adopt some form of "relegation" to inject some true competition back into the sport.
Arena Bowl is July 29,
Saturday, December 16, 2006
1980 -- $2.4 billion
1990 -- $20 billion
2000 -- $37.2 billion
2005 -- $47.4 billion
That is a grand total of US$107 billion since 1980 just on lotteries!!!
As I have said over the years to anyone willing to listen -- "giving the government more money voluntarily is the equivalent to buying an alcoholic another drink" -- it just does not help the situation at all.
We landed in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city then drove our rental car north to the Bay of Islands to tour the area including Cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea spills into the Pacific Ocean. Our tour included a drive on "Ninety Mile Beach" and sledding on sand dunes.
The next portion of our trip included scuba diving in the Tutukaka area which is the marina (not much else in this "town") near to Poor Knights Island. The water was a bit cold but the diving was very nice especially at Blue Mau Mau Cavern which was filled with a school of mau mau fish. Following diving we drove to the Roroturo/ Lake Taupo areas to enjoy the geothermal baths, spas, sailing, hiking, and great restaurants such as "Pimento's" in Lake Taupo which was just excellent. Given our overall dining experience I would give them a "5" just like I did for "Elements" in Phoenix -- really a quality business. Apparently I was driving too fast on this portion of our trip since we received a speeding ticket this week from the New Zealand police. The letter stated that "approved vehicle surveillance equipment" that I have to guess was mounted in one of the police cars we saw driving in the opposite direction -- and here I thought it was a nice letter from the New Zealand Department of Tourism asking how we enjoyed our trip!!!!
The driving portion of our trip ended in the capital city - Wellington - which is my kind of city since it is a port city built on a hill. We toured the parliament building, the botanic garden, and their national museum/art gallery known as "Te Papa" which is a must see if you are in Wellington. The exhibits on maori (the first settlers who paddled canoes from Polynesia to New Zealand) culture were very interesting along with the geological history since New Zealand is dominated by volcanic activity.
From Wellington we flew back to Auckland for one last night on the town which included a visit to "Minus 5" which is a bar completely made out of ice. The bar's cover charge includes the use of a parka and gloves so overall we were comfortable as we drank from mugs made of solid ice.
No doubt I overlooked some of the highlights but trust my wife will chime in with her own observations -- yes, dear the sky tower in Auckland was another great tour!! -- but in summary let me say that we enjoyed every city and venue we visited except Frank's Pizza in Russell which was rather mediocre so a "1" on my 5 point ranking scale. The people of New Zealand are very personable and the country just "feels" as if it is well run in terms of business and government services.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I wish Mr. Ban well as he manages the UN's $5 billion budget and 92,000 (currently) peace keeper soldiers complete with their baby/powder blue helmets -- easy targets!! But for Mr. Annan let me say, "you have have left 10 years ago!!!", since you have allowed or even encouraged (the legal system and US Congress are still deciding) a whole range of people including your son to use the UN as a personal slush fund to rob taxpayers around the world of their money. The Iraq "food for oil" scandal is a glaring example. May your retire include a prison sentence for being asleep at the wheel of this broken ship we call the UN.
As I noted earlier Mr. Annan is a native of Ghana which you can see an overview here from our friends at the CIA :-)
Here is a quote from this website:
"Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 34% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders."
Instead of Mr. Annan the UN should have selected a SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENUER from the African continent -- Mo Ibrahim of Sudan -- who is a multibillionaire who founded "Celtel" , an African telecom company. Mr. Ibrahim has created the "Ibrahim Prize" which is a cash prize that will be given to one retiring African head of state (president, prime minister, etc.) who "was elected fairly, improved living standards, and transferred power peacefully to successors." The prize pays $500,000 per year for the first 10 years of private life and then $200,000 thereafter.
"Secretary General Ibrahim" has a very nice ring to it sadly the UN has overlooked hiring such a talented and visionary person opting instead for the career bureaucrat Mr. Annan who will likely join the speaker circuit to lend his "wisdom" to others. That is a lecture I will plan to miss!!
Move the UN,
Thursday, December 14, 2006
SBN has expanded its operations by creating two new blog subsidiaries of the parent corporation. These blogs include:
http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com/ -- this blog is focused on the "spouses/partners/lovers/single-ness (is that a word?)" of the 2008 presidential candidates so we better understand the candidates' "better halves"
http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com/ -- since I love reading books SBN always included comments about book related news such as "Banned Books Week" and my review of books I read during the past year -- to be posted on December 31st -- this new blog creates a more focused forum for discussing books
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
One woman I work with for these conferences -- "ML" I will call her -- has a very challenging personal history which includes:
-being hit by 14 drunk drivers
-having her condo building burn down twice
-fighting cancer twice via radiation
-being in an airplane accident where the woman next to her had her arm severed
BUT..........I challenge anyone to find a most positive, energetic, loving (she has 20 god children she is in constant contact with despite her health issues) person than ML. She really makes me think twice about bitching about things that go wrong in my life -- in reality I have VERY little to complain about in my life.
The other great people I met during my travels includes the entire staff (those I met at least) at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport Marriott Hotel. Clearly "southern hospitality" begins in Kentucky :)
Finally, since I have attacked the airlines in the past due to travel/customer service problems let me personally think Delta and Northwest Airlines for switching my ticket from Delta to Northwest last night so I could return home to Minnesota two hours earlier than planned!! The two ladies that I worked with to make this flight switch were very professional and helpful so for that I want to thank them.
Monday, December 11, 2006
That said, I am now able to post comments again on SpaceBeagleNotes which is exciting since I always seem to have something to say :-)
I look forward to getting back into my daily posting routine and reviewing readers' posted comments.
This week I have been on the road in Arizona and Kentucky working on state legislative issues but I did have some free time on Sunday to see a movie. Unfortunately I chose to see the mockumentary, "Borat", which was not as funny as I was led to believe. I would really enjoy getting my money refunded but that is impossible.
More later as I get back up to speed on posting,
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Three random experiences in the last two days to share with readers:
1.) God -- The very next morning after the November 7th election landslide victory by "moderate Democrats who will work for 'change'" we received a visitor representing Jehovah's Witness (JW). This nice young lady simply said "hello", gave me their brochure entitled, "The End of False Religion in Near!" (www.watchtower.org if you are interested in their message), and then walked to the neighbor's home. Wow, now that is an interesting message to receive right after these amazing election results!!! Does JW have a seat on the Democratic National Committee?? :-)
2) Telephones - As I drove past a gas station today I saw a woman who was probably in her early 20's sitting in her car using a PAY TELEPHONE!!! Simply amazing to see since I heard it reported today that 60% of Americans have cellular phones. Ah, old technology still works :)
3.) Immigrants -- While getting a manicure today (hey -- I am ubersexual after all according to Men's Health magazine) I was talking with the shop's manager who is from Vietnam. While paying my bill I asked her how her experience was as an immigrant to the USA -- she moved here with her parents when she was 5 years old -- to which she replied, "the best!! we have experience the great American Dream with business success and opportunities............."
Encouraging little events that make me smile,
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
2006 ELECTION ANALYSIS
REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR - CHUCK MUTH
Chuck Muth'sDC CONFIDENTIAL
November 8, 2006
While most Republicans woke up this morning lamenting Armageddon Tuesday, some of us didn't lose any sleep over the election results. Happy at the prospect of two years with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi running Congress? Hardly. But there are a lot of silver linings behind these otherwise dark clouds.
* The single, most important lesson here: Democrats didn't win; Republicans lost. And they didn't just lose; they were routed. Voters didn't reward Democrats, they punished Republicans. Badly. This wasn't the country saying it wanted to go further Left; it was the country saying Republicans had already taken the country too far Left. This wasn't about taking the country in a new direction; it was about correcting the GOP's course.
* This wasn't swing voters swinging over to the Left. This was conservative voters swinging back to the Right. This was "burning the village down to save it." Conservatives didn't necessarily stay home, though certainly many did. But they did find other ways to protest the GOP's leftward tilt. It'll be interesting to see the "under-vote" in this year's congressional races. That would be the number of ballots cast where a vote in the congressional race was left blank.
* Yesterday's election was a repudiation of George W. Bush's brand of "compassionate conservatism." It was also a repudiation of waging a politically correct war with one hand self-tied behind your back. No American soldier's life is worth a mosque. And American generals, not American lawyers should be running the war. You're either all in...or get out.
* The Democrats, of course, are taking all the wrong lessons out of yesterday's results, a fact which can't help but help Republicans regain their bearings and regain their majorities two years from now. Democrats will over-reach, as is their nature. The big question is whether or not the GOP will reposition itself to take advantage of the opportunity sure to come in 2008.
* Had yesterday's reckoning with conservatives happened in 2008 instead of 2006, Republicans would have likely lost not only Congress, but the White House, as well. Best that the lesson was taught to Republicans now than later.
* The entire House Republican leadership team should now resign - from Denny Hastert on down. It's time to hand the ball off to Reps. John Shadegg and Mike Pence. Had House GOP members done that last January when they had the chance, they may have avoided the disaster they suffered yesterday.
* Question: Now that Democrats have wrested control of Congress from the Republicans, how long do you think it will be before we see helicopters airlifting the last U.S. service personnel from the roof of the American embassy in Baghdad?
* Do you think the Republican establishment will FINALLY have learned not to put its fate in the hands of a Dole? Bob Dole gave Republicans the embarrassing 1996 presidential defeat, and his wife Liddy, who was put in charge of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) this cycle, coached the team to the crushing Senate losses a decade later.
* The biggest victory in losing yesterday? The defeat of liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee (ACU Lifetime Rating: 37) in Rhode Island. Not only was the Senate's most liberal Republican purged from the ranks, but the Republican Party's establishment got a kick right in the shorts, as well. Recall that the NRSC, the RNC and the White House pulled out all the stops to defeat Chafee's conservative challenger in the GOP primary just two months ago, saying the party had to sacrifice principle for electoral victory. As it turned out, they got neither. Conservative Republican voters in Rhode Island got their revenge.
* As did conservative Republican voters in Pennsylvania, where Sen. Rick Santorum was upbraided for famously saving liberal Republican Sen. Arlen Specter's bacon two years ago in his GOP primary race against conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. Payback's a...
* As did conservative voters in Ohio, where Sen. Mike DeWine (ACU Lifetime Rating: 80) got spanked, at least in part, for his role in the infamous Gang of 14 which stopped the Republican majority from deploying the "nuclear option" and ending the Democrat blockade of judicial nominations.
* Republican Sen. Conrad Burns out in Montana got hit by conservatives for not only drifting too far left on the Earmark Express, but for getting too tied up in the Jack Abramoff insider scandal. Any Montanan who "goes native" in Washington, DC is gonna have some big problems.
* When a strong social conservative such as Sen. Jim Talent loses in a bedrock state of social conservatism such as Missouri over the social issue of embryonic stem cell research, it's time to rejigger the conservative legislative priorities and get back to the basics of taxes, spending and national defense.
* Perhaps the most devastating loss of the evening will end up being Sen. George Allen in Virginia, a race which will likely be "too close to call" for quite some time...with the balance of power in the Senate on the line. Allen was the toast of the town just two short year's ago after riding herd on the extremely successful GOP effort that resulted in a 55-45 Republican majority in the Senate in 2004. And he was fast-tracked to be the conservative choice in the early 2008 GOP presidential contest. Those hopes are now gone, even if he does somehow miraculously hold onto his Senate seat. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
* Republicans wouldn't have lost the Senate, if in fact they do end up losing the Senate, had Republican Tom Kean Jr. won in New Jersey. Kean, you'll recall, is the Republican candidate who called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in the campaign. Now the Left might hate Rumsfeld, but conservatives don't. Not a smart political move there.
* One bright light in the Senate contests: conservative Republican Sen. John Ensign whupped Jimmy Carter's kid's butt in Nevada. There's nothing quite like beating a Carter for conservatives.
* Oh, and let's not forget that little Democrat dust-up in Connecticut. Remember, Democrats are crowing that yesterday's victories were a victory for the anti-war movement. But former Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman came back as an Independent to crush the Left's anti-war candidate yesterday, 50-40 percent.
* You gotta believe there was a serious anti-Republican backlash out in the Colorado gubernatorial race, where outgoing Gov. Bill Owens sold out the Right by supporting efforts to suspend the state's government-restraint TABOR law last year. A strong GOP candidate, Rep. Bob Beauprez - who once served as the state's Republican Party chairman - went down in flames. Thanks, Gov. Owen.
* Asa Hutchinson was best known as George Bush's drug czar for a time, before doing a stint at the poorly-regarded...at least as far as conservatives are concerned...Department of Homeland Security. He lost his bid for governor in Arkansas.
* Republican Rep. Jim Nussle lost his bid for the governor's office in Iowa. Nussle married a lobbyist a few years back.
* Republican Dick DeVos lost his bid against the job-killing Democrat governor in Michigan. The DeVos family was well-known for their opposition to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which would have banned the use of affirmative action in government hiring and college admissions. Voters passed MCRI and abolished affirmative action by an overwhelming margin yesterday. A HUGE victory for my friend Ward Connerly, who I hope to have on this week's radio show Friday night.
* The best doggone victory yesterday for limited-government conservatives was Gov. Mark Sanford winning re-election in South Carolina. Sanford was under fire for being too "libertarian" - including supporting school vouchers and vetoing Republican-passed spending bills. In fact, the GOP majority leader did ads for the Democrat candidate because he was ticked off that Sanford showed up one day in the Legislature holding two pigs under his arms - one called "Pork" and the other called "Barrel." Sanford was also criticized roundly for not compromising his principles or cutting deals on core issues. He won with 55 percent of the vote.
* The worst defeat for conservatives yesterday was the loss of Rep. J.D. Hayworth in Arizona. Not only did the GOP lose a true limited-government conservative, but a leader in the fight against illegal immigration as well as an articulate spokesman. Most Republicans are tongue-tied, wishy-washy weenies when on TV. Hayworth was a notable exception. But something tells me J.D. won't be off the stage for long. Gov. Hayworth or Sen. Hayworth has a nice ring to it.
* Whether you call it a house-cleaning or thinning the herd, there's no mistaking the fact that a number of well-know moderate-to-liberal Republicans in the House of Representatives were booted yesterday. Robert Simmons (ACU Lifetime Rating: 54) in Connecticut was trailing this morning, though the race was still too close to call. Fellow Connecticutian (or is it Connecticutite) Nancy Johnson (ACU Lifetime Rating: 47) lost. Charlie Bass (ACU Lifetime Rating: 71) in New Hampshire lost. John Sweeney (ACU Lifetime Rating: 77) in New York lost. Deborah Pryce (ACU Lifetime Rating: 79) in Ohio lost. Curt Weldon (ACU Lifetime Rating 70) in Pennsylvania lost.
There's much, much more to go over, but I'm off to the radio studio for some post-election analysis on NPR. We'll pick this back up later. But believe you me, this is not as bad for limited-government conservatives as many folks would have you think. This was a much-needed pruning which will allow the GOP to come back much healthier in the future...
This was, indeed, a loss for Republicans. But they asked for it. Serves 'em right. And in the long run, this may yet prove to be a huge victory for limited government conservatism. Onward and rightward!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Clearly I LOVE Election Day for a completely different reason than the majority of people I talked with over the last week. For them Election Day “finally brings an end to the negative ads, I am sick of them………..” A little advice to these people – please re-read the First Amendment to our Constitution which protects free speech. Yes, you might be sick of the ads but we do live in what is truly the great democracy in the world which provides us with extensive political and consumer freedoms.
On a secondary note, given the prevalence of Tivo and DVRs I am surprised that anyone actually sees today’s political campaign ads but perhaps it is much like a car accident – we don’t want to see what happened but our dark, morbid side always turns our head to look at the accident as we continue driving. Finally, if you don’t like the ads please run for political office yourself which is a relatively easy thing to do at the city council or school board level to get your career in public service started.
Here in Minnesota there was one candidate with extremely good, detailed campaign ads – the problem though was that this candidate for the US House, Obi Sium, has very little campaign money and no help apparently from the Republican Party so his ads are only on radio although I may have missed a TV ad if he has one but this just seems impossible that he could afford TV time. I have never met Mr. Sium but he has a fantastic “rags to riches” story (http://www.siumforcongress.com/) focused on “achieving the American Dream” but unfortunately his district will send the same person back to Congress – Betty McCollum – to tax and spend more for our “benefit.”
Now on to today’s elections!! I am offering the following predictions on today’s results so I can benchmark myself later this week as the vote totals are finalized so here we go:
Nicaragua -- yes a wild card I threw in to get things started. Not a prediction here, just an observation, since it has already been noted in the media today that it appears former Sandinista leader/communist Daniel Ortega is the projected winner of Nicaragua’s presidential election. Amazing that re-branded communists continue to get elected to public office!!
President of the USA -- this is an easy one, President Bush will stay in office until January 2009!! :-)
US Senate - this is the most difficult prediction for me but I am thinking a potential 50-50 split but give the edge to Democrats to take control of this chamber.
US House - overspending, corruption, poor campaigning by Republicans give the clear edge to Democrats to regain this chamber. The revolution led by Newt Gingrich in 1994 is clearly over. Call U-Haul for more boxes!!!
Minnesota – US Senate: I see Democratic candidate, Amy Klobuchar winning over Republican, Congressman Mark Kennedy primarily due to his very poor TV ads. This is an easy prediction I admit since Amy is polling with 25% leads at times.
Minnesota – US House: I see all incumbents winning re-election and in the open seat where state Senator Michelle Bachman (Republican) is taking on Patty Wetterling (Democrat) I see Senator Bachman winning.
Minnesota – Governor: Things look very good for Democrat Attorney General Mike Hatch to finally win after his third run but I have to believe Minnesotans will come to their senses to return Governor Tim Pawlenty (Republican).
Minnesota - state senate: No change really. Democrats will keep a big majority of the seats.
Minnesota – state house: Democrats have a great chance to win control but I see the Republicans keeping control of this chamber.
Mayor -- my local city will re-elect our “Mayor Mary” primarily because she has a nice smile and her opponent was recently charged in a “road rage” incident which is not helpful with voters who live by the code of “Minnesota Nice” Bad boy!!
Don’t forget to vote,
Monday, November 06, 2006
While I am not a big bicycling fan myself I do take an interest in the Tour de France (TDF). However, I must admit that I have lost track of the charges French officials made regarding Lance Armstrong's potential use of performance enhancing drugs after his TDF win this year.
I was reminded of these accusations after reading the October issue of Men's Health magazine which noted in one of its "Facts of Life" items that:
"there is a 45 percentage boost in cycling performance at altitude after taking Viagra, which improves bloodflow in the lungs."
Source: Journal of Applied Physiology
So instead of potential steroid use perhaps Mr. Armstrong simply used some Viagra to enhance his TDF victory celebration which affected his blood test results?? In fact, what if Viagra helped Barry Bonds hit all of his home runs? Surely the French can explore this issue more if they remain unconvinced of Mr. Armstrong's drug free performance. Apparently news agencies/bloggers have addressed this issue in the past as noted here:
Keep on peddling,
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Late last night I returned from a public policy conference in Madison, Wisconsin. This conference was held at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center which is a beautiful building designed by Wisconsin native -- Frank Lloyd Wright. http://www.franklloydwright.org/
As I left the conference to meet my taxi for the ride to the airport I retrieved my luggage from the Monona Terrace coat check room. The woman that helped me was very professional and personable. I did not see a tip jar for the coat check staff so I asked this lady where it was or why there wasn't a tip jar. This lady informed me that Monona Terrace is operated by the Madison city government which FORBIDS tipping. If any Monona Terrace staff receive a tip they are required to turn the money into the city government and complete some paper work to record this transaction!!!
Now this is simply crazy -- the Monona Terrace employee and I are denied our economic rights via this city policy. I received a service and wanted to award the worker for the quality service I received. But instead of this person-to-person market decision city councils like Sante Fe, Madison, and most recently Chicago (although vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley) have enacted "living wage" laws:
"The first of these expanded city wide living wage ordinances to pass was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where an $8.50 minimum wage went into effect (after a court challenge) in June 2004. This initial level will increase to $10.50 an hour by 2008 and will thereafter be indexed to inflation. In November 2003, voters in San Francisco passed an $8.50 minimum wage for city businesses, and the Madison, Wisconsin, city council passed a $7.75 minimum wage in that city soon after."
America's workers would receive wage increases if we simply allow market forces to work -- workers who perform (aka "provide quality customer service") will be rewarded. If everyone is paid the same hourly wage due to a city council decision then we simply create an economy like the former Soviet Union which I toured in 1986. The old Soviet joke -- "we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us............." -- will become applicable in cities like Madison if they keep these anti-free market policies in place.
Leave a tip,
Thursday, November 02, 2006
For most of this week I am attending events where the attendees are primarily academics/public policy wonks so I run the risk of sitting in some dry research paper presentations but duty calls so here I am!! These two events include:
1.) New York City -- the annual Bastiat Award dinner hosted by the International Policy Network which is based in London, www.policynetwork.net. This award was inspired by the economic writings of a French thinker whose "Petition from the Candlemaking Industry" is a must read to better understand how government harms economic development:
The award winner at this dinner (there were 3 winners named) that really caught my attention was the publisher of "The Boss" newspaper in Nepal. He really highlighted for me how precious the freedom of speech is for all of us, regardless of where we live, so let me thank our Founding Fathers who insisted that a "Bill of Rights" (especially our "First Amendment" protecting free speech) be included before they would support ratification of the US Constitution.
2.) Madison, Wisconsin -- the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, www.appam.org, is hosting its fall research conference here in "Mad Town" . I haven't been in Madison for probably 8 years since I quit lobbying here when I moved to Phoenix so it was nice to be back this week especially since this evening's reception was at the state capitol. This conference has nearly 1,000 attendees who are primarily university professors from across the USA. Overall the quality of presentations is rather good and the conversation at tonight's reception was fun especially when we discussed how students have changed over the years. The range of topics being discussed in the sessions is impressive but I am concerned with the apparent "left of center, big government is needed" bias APPAM appears to have given the title on the conference program -- "Tax and Spend: Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Effective Redistributional Policies."
Redistribution? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? If we are going to redistribute anything in this country let's redistribute power/government authority by abolishing at least half of the federal government by sending the power and money to state governments where it belongs. I would rather have the money saved go directly to taxpayers via tax refunds but this shift to state governments is only Phase One to break the power of the special interests who feed on federal tax dollars. Phase Two would then work to reduce/eliminate local property taxes by devolving power and money from the state governments to city councils where we the people can actually affect our elected leaders and staff via "coffee shop politics."
Keep hope alive,
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
As my close friends know I am "old school" -- I love tradition. Examples of traditions that I hold dear include but are not limited to -- the fraternity/sorority system, the election of US Senators by state legislators (to return authority to States), one speed bicycles, and wooden baseball bats.
Wood was the standard for the great hitters like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth so why do we allow the use of metal bats in the Great American Pastime? Beyond a love of tradition there is a safety concern which was highlighted by the July 2003 death of Brandon Patch. Brandon was a pitcher for the Miles City (Montana) Mavericks American Legion baseball team (junior high school kids if you don't know) who was killed by a line drive hit off a metal bat. (USA Today, November 1st). The Mavericks have refused to play games against teams who use wooden bats -- I applaud their decision because it helps return baseball to its roots and because of the player safety implications.
While the Mavericks' action is encouraging for the game of baseball the past week's TV audience ratings clearly show that overall baseball viewership is fading in the USA. Here is the Top 20 TV program rankings (note: sports events highlighted in "bold" typeface) from last week as reported by today's USA Today:
1.) Desperate Housewives
2.) Dancing with the Stars
3.) Dancing with the Stars -Results
4.) CSI: Miami
6.) Sunday Night Football
8/9.) TIE: CSI and Criminal Minds
10.) 60 Minutes
11.) World Series Game 5
12.) World Series Game 4
13.) Deal or No Deal
14/15.) TIE: Ext. Makeover: Home and World Series Game 3
16.) Two and a Half Men
18.) Cold Case
19.) Without a Trace
20.) Ugly Betty
Of these Top 20 shows that only 4 of them were sports events with the highest ranked sports event being "football" which was ranked at #6 on this list. Since I love sports and because I can not dance -- since I quit drinking alcohol years ago :-) -- I am very concerned that "Dancing with the Stars" in more popular with the American TV audience than the World Series of baseball!!!
So what is next -- ticket scalpers pricing Dancing with the Stars audience tickets higher than Super Bowl tickets??? Let us hope we never see that day in our lifetimes!!
Baseballs not ballerinas,
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Throughout my life I have had heard plenty of people make a comment over dinner or during a conference reception stating something like -- "..........I think we should pay more in taxes...schools need money.........who will take care of the environment........" -- such a worldview never fails to shock me since I am certain governments take more from us than they should.
But now such big government types that make me want to start drinking again at the receptions I attend have an option!!!
State governments can create a "Tax Me More Fund" which allow taxpayers to make additional, voluntary contributions by simply writing a check to GIVE their state government even more of their personal wealth.
So far Americans for Tax Reform knows of the following six (6) states which have some funds:
For more information on this issue please visit:
That should help you get the next limousine liberal you get stuck talking with at your next cocktail reception to shut up about the "need to raise taxes."
Have fun by pissing them off,
Monday, October 30, 2006
October 31st is the "Halloween" holiday in the USA although I have seen evidence via my business travel of this American tradition spreading into Europe at least. The primary element of Halloween of course is children dressed in costumes walking the neighborhood in pursuit of candy treats.
At my age my trick or treating days are long gone but I have a very clear memory from my elementary school days of the "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" campaign which originally started in 1950:
The idea here is to have children collect money for UNICEF programs via little orange collection boxes. Given my young age and naivete at the time I walked the streets collecting coins for this arm of the United Nations along with my fellow public school prisoners (no school choice back then!!) much like a county prison chain gang walking the ditches to collect garbage.
Okay, readers might think I am over-reacting a bit but don't we always hear from the United Nations/global poverty community that we need to eliminate child labor across the world? So it is wrong for an 11 year old child to build Nike basketball shoes in Vietnam FOR AN HOURLY WAGE but an 11 old in the State of Iowa, USA walking his neighborhood in the dark FOR ZERO MONETARY COMPENSATION to collect coins for a bunch of United Nations bureaucrats is social justice I guess since the world's poor are helped by the great works of UNICEF?
Yes, it has been 30 years or so since I was a street walker for UNICEF but their brain washing program failed with me since I am on a personal campaign to work against them. If child labor is bad for humanity then surely exploiting UNICEF zombies to collect coins for bureaucrats is even worse. Let me ask my readers to call on the US Congress to zero fund the United Nations and all its affiliates today. There are better alternatives to the United Nations so let us add them to the funeral pyre with the League of Nations.
If any of my readers are pro-UN here is an essential question you should ask yourself as you consider joining my intellectual camp:
Who the hell wrote this excerpt found on the UNICEF website?:
"UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary funds. Governments contribute two thirds of our resources; private groups and some 6 million individuals contribute the rest through our National Committees." http://www.unicef.org/about/structure/index_3368.html
KEY POINT -- Since 66% of UNICEFs budget comes from governments which REQUIRE us tax slaves to pay taxes to them then UNICEF is NOT "supported entirely by voluntary funds." Does anyone at UNICEF own a dictionary so they can look up the word 'voluntary'?
Let us have an honest, transparent debate regarding UNICEF's job performance and its funding with a series of US congressional hearings perhaps supported by the work of my friends at Citizens Against Government Waste, http://www.cagw.org/
Sunday, October 29, 2006
My Sunday Pioneer Press newspaper made an interesting "choice" regarding what story (an obituary actually) to lead with as a banner headline on today's front page which read:
"Dr. Jane E. Hodgson 1915 - 2006, Champion for a Woman's Right to Choose"
This story sought to commemorate the life of Dr. Hodgson, an OB-GYN doctor and "abortion-rights crusader, convicted of performing an illegal abortion in St. Paul (Minnesota) in 1970. The article noted that the US Supreme Court's "Roe vs. Wade" decision in 1973 overturned Dr. Hodgson's 1970 conviction.
Now this posting is NOT designed to generate flame mail from the pro-choice and pro-life camps in the USA but I do want to use this story to call on the Pioneer Press to complete one or two follow up stories (hopefully they won't wait until there is another obituary to publish). Given the surplus of foster children in our country and the overwhelming redtape involved in the adoption process -- which I have experienced second hand via two fraternity brothers and their wives' efforts to adopt children -- let's have newspapers also focus on foster children and the need for adoption reforms.
Regardless of what a woman chooses to do with her body and fetus I simply can not foresee a future free of orphans so let's help these children by reforming today's laws and support infrastructure via:
1.) A greater use of technology to speed background checks of candidate parents
2.) Less financial burden/overall costs to candidate parents so they have more funds available to raise the children
3.) Greater use of income tax credits and deductions to incentivize people to adopt and/or become foster parents
4.) Expand tax deduction levels to non-profit entities such as St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Boys Town which focus every penny they have on creating a better life for orphans.
5.) Call on America's legal community to expand their pro bono efforts working to speed adoptions and streamling the redtape involved. This is an ideal project for the Federalist Society, www.fed-soc.org, to take on given their membership's philosophical bias (my perception here) for building and supporting the traditional "nuclear family"
6.) Calling on the unborn/abortion organization leaders in this country such as -- NOW, NARAL, Operation Rescue, National Right to Life Committee, etc. -- to work cooperatively, crazy perhaps but the call for such action has to start somewhere so why not by me?, to reform our institutions to better serve children.
Good luck kids,
A busy weekend with the fiancee this weekend so essentially I did not watch any football games but we had fun enjoying the following:
- Film -- we saw "The Departed" starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, among others. Set in Boston this film addresses the theme of "cops, bad guys, and which one is which?). Overall a good story to watch especially if you are of Irish descent :) Based on the film's ending I would love to see the producer/writer create a sequel based on Madalyn's (the police psychiatrist) unborn son perhaps set, "20 years into the future of Boston.........."
- Dinner -- the film was followed by dinner at "Cue Restaurant" which is housed in the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Overall I loved the atmosphere and the wait staff was very good but unfortunately the kitchen sent my fiancee a half cooked chicken breast which is never the way to make a good impression. My "pork prime rib" was very tasty so that is a plus for the kitchen however my appetizer of meat selections by the chef -- elk sausage, wild boar pate, and salmon in my case -- reminded me of the dinner that Steve Martin had the film, "L.A. Story", which consisted of VERY small pieces of food served on a VERY large white plate. The elk sausage was very good however. The dessert selection was unique but not really appealing to our tastes. On my 1 to 5 scale I will have to give Cue a "3" since I have experienced much better venues plus their glass of wine was priced at nearly the same price as some of the entrees which is clearly out of balance.
Enough of discussing my pork entree -- time for my review of football games and news from this weekend:
- Iowa State University -- my Cyclones lost to Kansas State by score of 31 to 10. With a season record of 3 and 6 the Cyclones' hopes of playing in a bowl game are fading quickly. However, the athletic department announced plans to upgrade the toilet facilities so that is a big positive for 2007!!!! www.cyclones.com
- Butler University -- my adopted Bulldogs lost a tough one to University of Missouri-Rolla by a score of 35 to 20. However, the Bulldogs have moved up from dead last in the Sagarin Power Ratings (USA Today) which is very encouraging.
- St. Scholastica University -- they announced plans this weekend to field a football team for the 2008 college football season. St. Scholastica will compete in Division III football and plan to spend $3.9 million on the football program. I applaud this decision since college athletics are an essential element in the overall college experience for all students plus another football team provides more player opportunities. Hey I still have my 4 years of college eligibility left even though I am 40 years old!!! :-)
Enjoy some Monday Night Football -- Skol Vikings!!!
Friday, October 27, 2006
If any of my readers out there believe the USA has a free market economy PLEASE do not believe this fantasy!!
My daily newspaper presents clear evidence that "government assistance" is distorting the housing market -- at least in Minnesota but of course the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (another department that would be closed were I sworn in as President) works nationwide so no doubt the following market distortion is occurring in other states.
First, today's front page banner headline story of the Pioneer Press's business page states:
"Home buyers still hold back: cooling market hasn't hit bottom yet, experts warn"
Wow, so real estate analysts and economists expect further price cuts for homes on the market today but yet in its infinite wisdom (as noted on Page 3C of this SAME business page) was this headline:
"Affordable Housing get $37 Million"
This story focused on the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency's announcement that it is awarding "more than $37 million this fall to help with construction and development of affordable housing projects throughout the state."
Amazing!! Current projections state that it will take at least 8 months for all the houses for sale in the Minneapolis/St. Paul real estate market to sale -- this is a "surplus" of homes in case government bureaucrats did not study Economics 101 in college.
If the government at all levels wants to make housing more affordable for all of us here are my suggestions:
1.) Reduce property taxes. For instance my local city council should sell its liquor store and golf course since the private sector supplies these services. The proceeds from the sale should be sent back to us as property tax refunds.
2.) Allow softwood imports from Canada under our current NAFTA free trade obligations.
3.) Allow more logging in our national forests to reduce lumber costs for homes while also reducing forest fires.
4.) Increase tax deduction levels for contributions to non-government entities such as Habitat for Humanity, www. habitat.org, which build affordable housing.
5.) Use some of this $37 million that the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency has to buy up some of the homes currently on the market for giving to homeless people -- this is a lot better idea than BUILDING MORE HOMES WHEN WE HAVE A SURPLUS!!
Finally, why is the government using OUR tax money to build more homes when this same government (via people like Al Gore and anti-Wal Mart city council members around the country) want to prevent urban sprawl?
Markets not programs,
Once the USA's election results are completed on November 7th -- I am optimistic we can count all the ballots that day!! -- the speculation regarding who will and who will not run for President of the United States will intensify dramatically.
Given her popularity across the country, her charming personality, her international ambassador experience, and her background in education I hope the Republican presidential candidates consider Laura Bush as their Vice Presidential running mate or at least for a Cabinet secretary position. Positioning Mrs. Bush for such national offices would provide a strategic wedge between Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Soccer and Security Moms across America. Additionally, Mrs. Bush has a "hottie factor" that Mrs. Clinton can not match which would appeal to the Maxim/FHM readers (young males) across America:
Soccer Moms and young males -- not that is a voting bloc that provides a winning coalition for 2008.
See you at the library,
Thursday, October 26, 2006
An amazing coincidence perhaps or was it planned by an astute editor I wonder -- the October 24, 2006 front page of the Wall Street Journal contained two articles, published in columns one and three entitled:
"To Stop Dust Bowl, Mongolia Builds 'Great Wall' of Trees"
"In San Francisco, Red-light Denizens Fight to Stay Seedy"
These two stories shared one common thread -- the planting of trees!!
The first story was focused on one local manager's, Batchuluun Doorov, role in a $150 million project dedicated to planting trees in a line across the Gobi Desert to help reduce dust storms. The second story focused on an architect/community activist in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, Carolyn Abst, who wanted to clean up San Fran's worst neighborhood. Ms. Abst launched a project to plant trees in the neighborhood only to be the target of a clear "hate crime" by the area's prostitutes, transvestites , and a gay activist groups known as "Gay Shame" who wanted Ms. Abst to leave the area as she discovered it -- run down, dangerous, and opposed to gentrification.
After reading these two articles a few questions/thoughts came to mind:
1.) Given his concern about global warming is Al Gore raising funds to help pay for this tree planting project in the Gobi Desert?
2.) How can the "pre-Carolyn Abst arrival" residents of the Tenderloin District in San Fran be so narrow-minded about her beautification/tree planting project when these same people call for tolerance and acceptance of their lifestyles by society?
Perhaps the most telling quote in this San Francisco article is from Chris Daly, a Democrat who represents the Tenderloin District on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who stated:
"Yes, people are addicted to drugs, and yes there is homelessness. Why shouldn't these people have a place of their own?"
Chris Daly is noted as a proponent of affordable housing and funding for nonprofit social services the article states -- and this is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM. People like Daly love the power/warm feeling that comes from using our tax dollars to "help" people like the down and out residents of the Tenderloin District when what they really need is the community activism by people like Ms. Abst which helps generate economic growth not government welfare. Thank you for your leadership Ms. Abst.
Two interesting projects involving the very simple act of planting trees but clearly two very different world views regarding these projects' overall value to humanity.
Cut one, plant two,
Monday, October 23, 2006
While reading the Financial Times (FT) newspaper at the airport today I was reminded of a meeting I had at Waterloo Station in London, UK in 2003 with the founder of the Liberty Institute in India - Barun Mitra.
Among a wide range of issues Barun and I discussed Intellectual Property (IP) protection issues. I distinctly remember Barun's comment that day -- ".........we (India, the world's emerging economies) are only going to steal so much (IP), because at some point in the future we will produce our own IP that we will want to legally protect.............." Well the day Barun predicted would come has arrived based on the headline I read in today's FT, "Chinese take to the courts to defend patent rights in US". Chinese companies are "defending their patent rights increasingly aggressively in US courts, legal experts say" -- quoting the FT here.
Sorry to break the news to Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, and all the trade union leaders in the USA that have made their careers by attacking free trade agreements and the USA's trade deficit with China. Granted it is a minor step but Chinese companies are SPENDING MONEY IN THE USA by hiring law firms to protect their IP. Law firms hire secretaries and paralegals plus they spend money on copying costs so eventually this all generates economic activity in the USA. Sadly the attorneys are getting the money at first but eventually the money multiplier effect (probably not taught in our public schools) will kick in to benefit an even greater portion of the economy.
The trade balance evolves,
While listening to CNN last Friday (October 20) I heard a promotional ad for Lou Dobbs' TV program which was going to be focused on (surprise!!) -- IMMIGRATION. But -- what REALLY caught my attention was that the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) was the lead sponsor of his show.
So no surprise there since Lou Dobbs has transformed into Pat Buchanan in recent years via a constant attack on immigration issues. I have always wondered why Mr. Dobbs became so angry about today's immigration issue -- is he just chasing TV ratings or is there another motivation? Along those lines, why should Mr. Dobbs care about immigration given his focus on outer space anyway as noted in this excerpt below?:
Since (Lou) Dobbs founded the company in June of 1999, SPACE.com has risen to become the definitive site on the World Wide Web dedicated to space and all space-related subjects.
Why not just colonize the Moon or Mars so you can escape these immigrants you fear so much Mr. Dobbs? I really find it ironic that the State of New Mexico -- because this state borders Mexico of course so it is a key crossing point for the Mexican immigrants to cross into the USA to further trouble Mr. Dobbs -- has partnered with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Enterprises to construct a "space port" to expand the commericalization of space. Perhaps Mr. Dobbs could use the space port once it is completed (with government funds) to escape all these immigrants that seem to frighten him.
The AARP's sponsorship of the Lou Dobbs anti-immigration show is very interesting to me since the largest source of illegal immigrants to the USA today -- MEXICO -- is also one of the top destinations for USA retirees/AARP members. What if the Mexican government or the "Lou Dobbs of Mexico" launched a campaign to "keep the gringo retirees out of Mexico" ?
So CNN has covered the full range of these issues for us -- they have Lou Dobbs attacking Mexican immigrants today and in 2005 CNN carried this news story regarding American retirees moving to Mexico:
The rush to a Mexican retirement is on
More and more Americans are moving to Mexico for the sun, the fun, and for less money.
It is common knowledge that illegal Mexican immigrants are paying into the USA Social Security system via payroll taxes -- paying in money they will never see paid back to them as Social Security benefits. This creates a form of "reverse welfare" whereby American retirees living in Mexico are being subsidized/funded by Mexican workers working in the USA. This transfer of wealth is amazing and needs to be explored by journalists such as Lou Dobbs assuming he can see past his own nativism.
Focus on freedom not borders,
Sunday, October 22, 2006
American football is what makes Fall weekends extra special and this weekend was a fun one for football fans like myself even though my teams were 2 and 1 this time around.
Here is an overview of what happened to the teams that I follow:
- Iowa State University -- my fiancee and I traveled to Ames, Iowa for our Homecoming game versus Texas Tech University. My Cyclones went down in defeat by a score of 42 to 26. I did not check the game program but Tech's middle linebacker, #51 , delivered some textbook tackles that stopped our running backs in the backfield several times -- an impressive performance. Additionally, I LOVED Tech's use of the classic "shuttle pass" for a little trickeration. Sadly, I see no possibility of the Cyclones being invited to a bowl game this year.
- Butler University -- my adopted Bulldogs defeated Valparaiso University on Saturday by a score of 32 to10 to improve their record to 3 and 5 so far this season.
- Minnesota Vikings -- Skol Vikings honor your name!! With a final score of 31 to 13 the Vikes defeated the Seattle Seahawks today (Sunday) to improve their record to 4 wins and 2 losses. My congratulations to Coach Childress for shaking his "boring is great" image by using some trickeration today via a "half back pass" for a touchdown pass to the tightend - love that stuff!! I can honestly say I was impressed with their performance today - consistency is the next challenge to meet.
More football next week so warm up your couch and get the munchies ready.
Friday, October 20, 2006
“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
Desiderius Erasmus 1469-1536
Granted I am a bit tardy in mentioning the “25th Annual Banned Books Week” which was celebrated from September 23 to 30, 2006 but here is my tribute to this project which is organized by the American Library Association (ALA):
Please review this website today before the censors ban it!!
According to the ALA the “10 Most Challenged Books of 2005” (March 2006 ALA press release) reflect a range of themes. These ten books are listed below:
“It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
“Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
“Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
“Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
“What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
“Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
“It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.
It is worth noting that 7 out of 10 of these books were “challenged” by opponents/self-appointed censors due to their shared theme of “sexual content” and 2 out of the 10 books were challenged due their “offensive language”.
Now I have never read Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher but would note that it was challenged due to its use of “racism and offensive language." Amazing that this was offensive to someone – have they never heard a speech delivered by the Reverend Jesse Jackson? I don’t appreciate his racism and offensive language which promotes class warfare but I am not calling for him to be silenced.
Please read the First Amendment today,
Thursday, October 19, 2006
While working late at my home office a couple nights this week I was watching our local cable access channel which aired a recent debate between our area’s Minnesota state legislators and their November 7th election challengers. One state representative participating in this debate -- whose name I did not note unfortunately -- made a comment that really caught my attention. This gentleman challenged his opponent who called for extending the Minnesota school year by responding with, “I agree that we should extend the school year but we should not mandate one school year for all the school districts in Minnesota. A school year calendar that works well for a Twin Cities school is not necessarily good for a small town Up North which might be more affected by weather conditions and the very different dynamics of the local economy……….”
Personally I love this idea for numerous reasons:
-It further decentralizes the current public school fortress overall
-It allows local leaders and economic factors to determine how best to use education resources
-This idea harnesses the “power of competition” to generate innovative ideas across the hundreds of school districts in Minnesota
-It empowers teachers to work in new, dynamic work environments
Unfortunately we Minnesotans might have seen much more of this innovation being generated by our state department of education had the Minnesota Senate not refused to confirm Governor Pawlenty’s appointee, Cheri Pierson Yecke, who subsequently left Minnesota to become the Chancellor of K-12 Education for the State of Florida. Chancellor Yecke is leading the charge to allow high school students to “choose a major”; much the way college students do today, beginning in 2007. This is a great way to empower students via personal choice to help them better prepare for college or guide them into vocational options.
Hopefully such thinking among our public officials will continue to spread since decentralization and personal choice are perfect complements of each other that serve to maximize consumer benefits.
Use your voice for choice,
This Saturday I will be attending Iowa State University’s Homecoming football game against Texas Tech University but to be honest (and I hate to admit this) I would rather be watching the University of Minnesota Gophers versus the North Dakota State University Bison.
So why would I rather see the Gophers try to avoid being stampeded by the Bison? Primarily because North Dakota is an NCAA Division I-AA team with a 6 and 0 record while the NCAA Division I-A University of Minnesota sits at 2 and 5 so far this season. For those readers who don’t follow college football that closely “NCAA Division I-A” is the top division in college athletics with “Division I-AA” being one level below. So yes this is a classic TUWAGCOWAUV ( “talented underdog with a good chance of winning an upset victory” ) football game. Now that is an acronym that would make any government bureaucrat proud!! .
As is commonly known Americans LOVE underdogs and I am no exception. I do love Minnesota as my adopted state but the prospect of North Dakota defeating a Big 10 Conference team like Minnesota is exciting regardless of personal loyalties. Yes the Bison have a decent chance of winning on Saturday even though this season’s statistics are against them in terms of Division I-A teams versus Division I-AA match ups. According to the North Dakota State Sports Information office Division I-AA football programs have a 6 and 67 record against Division I-A programs at this stage in the season (October 19, 2006). Here are the six Division I-AA football clubs that have defeated Division I-A teams this season:
Montana State defeated University of Colorado
Portland State defeated New Mexico
Richmond defeated Duke University
New Hampshire defeated Northwestern University
Southern Illinois defeated Indiana University
North Dakota State defeated Ball State University
This is important to me as an Iowa State University Cyclones (Division I-A) fan because I have consistently called for the Cyclones to play some bigger name Division I-A football teams versus the Division I-AA teams they have played to fill out their non-conference game schedule. I ask again -- why should the Division I-A Cyclones risk a LOSS to a Division I-AA team like Southern Illinois should they ever play versus having the OPPORTUNITY to defeat a major Division I-A team such as the University of Southern California? It is far better for the Cyclones to work their way up the food chain that is college football today – even at the risk of having a few losing seasons – by playing major football programs so our fans, athletic department leadership, and players are inspired to improve the program.
Good luck Bisons,
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Since I am responsive to my readers (both of them!!!) let me lighten things up here by starting this posting with a joke/urban legend I heard over dinner tonight:
"While visiting London US President Bill Clinton was riding in a horse drawn carriage with Queen Elizabeth II when out of nowhere there was strong evidence of horse flatulence which prompted the Queen to say, 'oh! excuse me' to which President Clinton replied, 'oh, I thought it was one of the horses............................' "
Now for something completely different :-)
My teenage years in Northwest Iowa are filled with fond memories of my parents taking my brother and I to see the Sioux City Musketeers junior hockey team play in the old civic auditorium. For me it was always about the athletic competition but for many hockey fans an essential part of the game is the fighting that occurs between players. Hockey is unique in this regard since I have rarely witnessed such institutional violence during poker tournaments or on the PGA tour. I am a purist when it comes to sports -- if brawling between players is not in the hockey rule book then I want to see any players who fight ejected and prosecuted by the local authorities in order to preserve the rule of law and the preservation of athletic competition.
Yet another childhood memory I was reminded of this week is the traditional post-game hand shake conducted by all the players that we would do after all of the games I ever played in -- football, basketball, baseball -- track and field was a different culture in terms of sportsmanship since it was displayed throughout the track meets as we congratulated each other following each event due to the fraternal nature of the sport.
So what is the state of sportsmanship today? I feel like a nostalgic old man talking about "in my day we walked to school barefoot in snow drifts, up hill both ways........................." but I do believe it is true -- sportsmanship has declined dramatically since I hung up my cleats. Two college football games played this past weekend convinced me this statement is true today. First there was the major flight that occurred during the University of Miami and Florida International University football game on Saturday night. Now given their historic reputation as “thugs” (a former player stated this on ESPN yesterday) I am not surprised by Miami’s lack of sportsmanship but it was another football game on Saturday which really concerned me. This other game was between Dartmouth and Holy Cross (both NCAA Division I-AA schools) which Holy Cross won by 24 to 21 in overtime. At the conclusion of the game the teams lined up for the customary handshakes. But instead of the usual “good game” comments a fight broke out between players due to a celebration by the Holy Cross players.
No, American society is not collapsing all around us but there are some areas of concern we need to address. This lack of sportsmanship might be a product of today’s “intense soccer parents” who stalk the sidelines of the pitch yelling at the child players who are just out for some old fashioned athletic fun.
Let me close this posting by updating you on my two favorite college football teams’ performances this past weekend:
Iowa State University Cyclones -- my alma mater lost to Oklahoma by a score of 34 to 9 so the Clones sit at a current season record of 3 wins and 4 losses. With 5 games remaining in the season the Clones need to go 3 and 2 just to finish with a 6 and 6 record which MIGHT qualify them for a post-season bowl game but at this point I can’t see how this is possible given what I have seen on the field. Homecoming is this weekend which will be very fun as my family enjoys the annual gathering at my fraternity.Bradley University Bulldogs – lost to Drake University (of Iowa) by a score of 29 to 0 so the Dogs fall to an overall season record so far of 2 wins and 5 losses.
Competitors not Convicts please,