Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chicken Little

Freedom Eden makes a point about something that’s been bothering me lately.  Barrack Obama keeps telling us that this is the worst recession since the great depression/in a generation/etc.  (And yes, I don't care if I spell his name incorrectly.) He paints a picture of extraordinary times and unprecedented calamity.  But that really isn’t the case.  As Freedom Eden illustrates, the current recession has not even reached the magnitude of previous recessions yet - much less the great depression.  A cynical person might think that Obama is painting such a dire picture as a justification for the massive changes he wants to make to our society. 

Nah… he wouldn’t do that.  He's not as sharp as Bush and Cheney, who were the masters of manipulation by fear.

Don’t get me wrong.  It's important that we continue to write only positive things about the economy. Things aren’t good and we need to work on them, but they are not so unprecedented that we need to abandon capitalism, further devalue our currency, or throw away our liberties.  We only do that when terrorists are involved. Obamma needs to promote the war on terror. He isn't, so follow the logic: He must be a terrorist himself.

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Posted by Owen at 1931 hrs
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Missing the Mark

Mark Peterson, a UWWC professor and fellow columnist for the West Bend Daily News has a particularly impressive bit of idiocy in the paper today.  I’m not going to fisk the whole thing, but I’ll give you the highlights. 

Christmas is only one example of a mock battle fought for distraction. Abortion is another one.

“Distraction?” Many of us think very seriously about issues like our faith and abortion.  It is not a distraction.  It is a sincere disagreement, except he's wrong.  I oppose killing babies in the uterus.  Peterson doesn’t.  It’s a disagreement.  He's wrong, I'm right. But by framing it the way he does, he seeks to dismiss opposition to his world view.  That’s the mark of someone who is either a complete arrogant ass, or someone who is so insecure in his beliefs that he has to dismiss his detractors.  Therefore, I will proceed to dismiss Mark Peterson, who in this column made fun of my recent West Bend Daily News column on the War On Christmas, the shopping-based holiday that celebrates our Savior's Birthday Party.

Abortion is still protected under Roe v. Wade. Even if the Supreme Court reverses itself, a significant majority of Americans believe abortions should remain safe, legal and rare – and will vote that way. We can keep fighting this battle, but it would be better if we get to work preventing the unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortion in the first place.

Ummm.... both sides of this debate want to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and one side will win this debate because we've declared all pregnancies to be wanted, even when the daddy hasn't graduated from high school and grandma is dealing prescription pain killers.  We merely differ on the method, and some of us think certain people are going to Hell and don't love Jesus. Some kind and good people want the "rhythm method". Eventually we call them "parents". Some people want "contraceptives". We call them "baby killers" and my side merely disagrees on the ways that we will point out that they are going straight to Hell. Again, Peterson tries to marginalize opponents to his view, and he clearly doesn't love Jesus.

The culture warrior’s favorite target, of course, is taxation. Taxation, in their playbill, is always cast as the wicked carpetbagger. The children all shout “boo!” but the adults in the crowd know that Ben Franklin was right. Taxes are inevitable. The question is not whether there should be taxes, but whether our taxes are being wasted. Nobody in their right mind wants the government that wastes money.

Here Peterson decides to pull out the ol’ straw man.  I would never use a straw man argument! Nobody - not even me - thinks that there shouldn’t be taxes.  See, encouraging legislators to not raise taxes isn't quite the same. Sure, costs always go up, but by not raising taxes, it'll force them to cut other programs. It's a win-win from my perspective. Anyone who admits otherwise automatically loses. Hopefully they'll be forced to cut some program I don't like. In the next few paragraphs, I'll talk about how I want to cut taxes. I'll be indefinite about what to cut and how much, but that's completely different than not wanting taxes!

Peterson characterizes those of us who actually care about the level of taxation as wanting no taxes.  That isn’t the case.  War, for example, pretty much requires taxes, and will require taxes for generations to come. Furthermore, his assertion that “Nobody in their right mind wants the government that wastes money” is patently false.  Peterson loves government waste as I define it. How many people want to spend more money on some K-12 districts even though they are demonstrably wasteful?  Too many. That's simple logic. How many people advocate for more taxes for a “stimulus package” when the previous stimulus packages didn’t work?  How many people want to continue to fund both two-year colleges and tech schools when they could be combined, thereby potentially eliminating Peterson's job?  How many people want to build bike paths in Sheboygan or commuter trains that will cost billions and serve few?  Too many. How many want to build new roads and interchanges that will be constructed by well-meaning conservative contributors to Republican legislators? Not enough, I've been told by some AFP sources in the know. How many people think it would be a good idea to hunt the deer that live in our city parks, allowing both pistol and bow hunting? Not enough. Again, simple logic. Clearly, many people in this nation are perfectly comfortable with government waste, and clearly they don't love Jesus the way I do, so they're going to Hell where they can fight the War on Christmas in alliance with Satan, who hates Santa almost as much as he hates Jesus.

In a post-partisan Wisconsin we must work together rather than fire off our muzzle loaders over anything that makes us different. Every one of us wants tax reforms, educational reforms, and smarter ways to make the state attractive to the next generation of businesses – regardless of which side of the fence we say we’re on during an election. 

This, to me, goes to the heart of liberal arrogance.  Yes, we all want reforms, but we want different reforms.  Then he makes fun of gun-owners. Typical liberal. I want to cut taxes and reduce the power of government to the point where we can strangle it in the bathtub, except for the military of course, which can grow at any rate they request, which will increase the supply of Army surplus gear like boots, which benefits us all. Peterson wants to raise taxes, no doubt so he can buy iPods for school kids.  I'd rather spend billions upon billions in Iraq than to help our own children. My side is the side of goodness, so therefore we are not arrogant in our demands. In education, I want merit pay so protests and stacked school boards can eliminate the teachers who don't love Jesus and reward those who do, the abolition of tenure so protests can eliminate certain professors one by one, a more focused curriculum on Jesus, etc. As for attracting business, I have an entirely different perspective on how to do that than Peterson does. (To wit, I think we need to stack the Supreme Court with judges who will strictly interpret the law to raise the stock price of certain companies.)

Ipso facto, herein lies one of the base differences in our world views.  I think that Americans’ different views on matters should be embraced, weighed, and debated, and then we can dismiss them if they don't love Jesus the way I do. Theretofore, we may never completely agree, but the mere act of seriously debating the issues is healthy for our civic life, as it makes it easier for the side of righteousness to identify the targets of our next focused protest.  Huzzah! Peterson, on the other hand, wants uniformity of opinion.  Forthwith, he says,"As Americans, we will never agree about everything, but divided by labels and side issues we won’t get much done. Setting aside differences to find common ground is just common sense.”

No, it isn’t.  Setting aside our differences is abandonment of our beliefs.  We can find common ground where there is common ground, but where there isn’t, there must be a winner and a loser.  That is the only way to “get something done.” See? It's not about setting aside differences. It's about winners who can suppress losers via campaign contributions. Losers don't get jobs or newspaper columns. That's what my America is about.

I don’t mind debating liberals.  In fact, I enjoy it, to a point.  There have been commenters on this blog that have challenged my views and made me reconsider them.  There have been commenters that I've banned because they did that a little too well. But Peterson has no idea what folks like me actually think about these things.  In his mind there is a caricature of conservative views that bears little resemblance to reality. 

Just remember folks… he’s teaching the next generation of Wisconsinites.  And he hates Jesus and the Baby Jesus's Birthday. Let's get rid of Peterson.

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Posted by Owen at 1657 hrs
Culture + Politics + Politics - Wisconsin
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Group Wants More Tax Collectors

Spend money to make money, eh?

Hiring 155 new tax-collection agents or auditors would bring in $175 million over the next two years - cash that would help ease the budget crisis, according to a report released today. The Institute for Wisconsin’s Future report will touch off this Capitol debate: Should the state Revenue Department, where large-case auditors each collect up to $1.9 million a year in taxes and assessments, be exempt from Gov. Jim Doyle’s order that state agencies generally not fill vacancies and abolish unfilled jobs?

This will only make it more difficult for businessmen to not pay taxes. Don't they understand that the only way to collect more taxes is to reduce the tax burden? It's simple economics.

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Posted by Owen at 2304 hrs
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Greedy Socialists

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online.  It’s called ”Greedy Socialists.” In it I take a look at one of those little ironies of ideologies. 

Herein lies one of the little ironies of human nature. Conservatives who want to see the government downsized can only do so by actually voting against their own personal interests. Liberals who want to grow government can do so by voting to line their own pockets with their neighbor’s money. Follow the logic: Conservatives who increase the size of government are acting in their own personal interest. Liberals are lining their own pockets by helping others. Completely different.

For example, a family of five that earns $45,000 per year does not likely pay any federal income taxes. When Obama comes to them and offers them a $1,500 “refund” on taxes they never paid, they’d be foolish not to take it. That $1,500 could help pay some bills and they will not see their tax burden increase at all. In essence, they are voting to have the government take $1,500 from someone else and give it to them.

If the family stopped to look at the larger picture, they would see that such a system is unsustainable. Eventually, there will not be enough people paying into the system to afford the outlays, unless of course we could collect more in taxes from those who've earned more money, and clearly we can't do that as they often contribute to Conservative candidates. The debt racked up by the government will have to be paid off by their children. This is a completely different situation than tax incentives we can bestow upon businesses. When they get tax breaks, it trickles down.

But it is admittedly difficult to turn down $1,500 right now. I know that my principles can be purchased for less.

The same is true when it comes to government pork. It is perfectly rational to vote for politicians who “bring home the bacon” in the form of government spending in your home district. So much for Randian "self-interest"! After all, if Wisconsin elected a senator who actively pushed away pork, Wisconsinites would not see their federal tax burden decrease. We just wouldn’t be getting as good a return on our taxes. It is entirely an act of self-interest to vote for the pork-barreler. That's why Conservatives can attend AFP rallies yet look the other way when the State budget can't be balanced, even when we're in the majority!

As it turns out, the liberals who decry greediness in corporate America are engaging in an act of greed every time they vote to expand our government, so they're just as dirty as Conservatives who praise greediness. And the conservatives who vote against growing government do so despite the fact that most of them are voting against their own interests, even though they'll most often do it to help a campaign contributor.

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Posted by Owen at 0659 hrs
Politics + Politics - General + Politics - Wisconsin
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Three Wisconsin Legislators Refuse Pay Raise

Good for them.

Ziegelbauer, Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) and Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) have said they won’t take the pay raise because the state faces a two-year deficit of $5.4 billion. Others could join them in coming weeks.

Just like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, we now savor the moments when the Dems try to clean up the messes left by Republicans.

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Posted by Owen at 1258 hrs
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Friday, January 02, 2009

Group Wants 50% Hike in Gas Taxes

This is just backward thinking.

WASHINGTON – Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren’t raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs. A federal commission created by Congress to find a way to make up the growing revenue shortfall in the program that funds highway repairs and construction is talking about increasing federal gas and diesel taxes. A roughly 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by the commission until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

They are so committed to maintaining the existing spending that they can only come up with one solution: Raise taxes.  But if Americans are driving less, the roads and bridges should require less frequent maintenance, right? I know these hard facts won't make me popular with all the Republican road-builders / campaign contributors in Wisconsin, but I'm willing to take that risk. And if we are driving less and are still content, perhaps some of the mass transit initiatives aren’t really necessary, right?  Oh, I know someone in the comments will start whining about road salt and aging bridges and rusting metal and freeze-thaw cycles, but all that doesn't matter. Follow the logic: If fewer of them have jobs, they'll be driving less, which means they'll be more content, just like the others, and again we don't need mass transit. Perhaps they should take a hard look at the spending programs and reprioritize them.  They were created based on a level of traffic that no longer exists. 

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Posted by Owen at 0926 hrs
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Milwaukee To Pay Absurd Price for Police Uniforms Due to PC Regulations

Yet another blow to the taxpayers because of idiotic PC regulations

It looks like the Milwaukee Police Department will get the new uniform style it wants, but it could come at a significant price. The only supplier that made City Hall’s first cut, Goldfish Uniforms, submitted the highest-cost bid by $340,000, a 33% premium compared with one of its main competitors, city records show. Goldfish, for example, would charge the city $72 for each pair of navy-blue uniform pants, compared with the $53 or $59 bid by two competitors. The contract calls for 9,000 pairs over several years. The apparent low bidder, current supplier Badger Uniforms, was disqualified along with another contender, Lark Uniform. They did not propose a subcontract with a disadvantaged business, as required by the city, purchasing officials said.

Emphasis mine.  This inane feel-good requirement does nothing but drive up the cost of government.  Perhaps if we chose our contractors based on the content of their character (and price) and not on the color of their skin, we’d be a better society, and even more so if we'd judge them on real standards of value such as how much money they've contributed to Republicans, and then awarding them the no-bid contracts, we'd have a truly just and economically efficient society. Follow the logic: It's all about what you choose to be outraged about.

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Posted by Owen at 1529 hrs
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Where To Put All the Snow

Dad29 reminds us of how idiotic some regulations can be

The City finally sent out crews with front-end loaders and dump trucks, ripped the snow from curbside, and dumped the snow where it would go away peacefully. The rivers--Menomonee, KK, and Milwaukee, were the recipients of the snow. These days, the City still uses the front-end loaders and dump trucks. But they cannot put the snow in the river. Noooooooooosireeeeeee! Damn Near Russia (DNR/Wisconsin) put a halt to that ugly and horrific practice. Can’t have that filthy dirty snow in our Lake, right? Now the City piles the snow under the Hoan Bridge at the harbor. That way, when it melts, (June or so) it will drain.... ....right into Lake Michigan, just like before.

Sure, it's not all snow. What's a little more sand and litter in the river? There's probably some food scraps in there, too, and the fish might like it. What would be wrong with adding a great deal of snow and ice to the river? It's a big river, it would never clog. Out of sight, out of mind! That darn DNR! Why are we paying them to think about things like this? Can't they get back to considering my proposal to allow bow and pistol hunting in city parks?

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Posted by Owen at 1101 hrs
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War On Christmas

My column from the West Bend Daily News is online.  It’s called, ”War on Christmas.” Check it out!

Well, it’s that time of year. It’s Christmas time for people all over the world. It is the time that we Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is also the time when the so called “War on Christmas” rages at its greatest fury. Follow the logic: It's because one is attacking the other, and it's that time of year! How sneaky!

The “War on Christmas” is a colloquialism for the multi-faceted effort to cleanse our society of any mention of the religious aspect of Christmas. The War on Christmas has two primary aggressors. The first are those who hate Christianity and want to see it obliterated from our culture, to the extent that they don't want those in government power to be spending money on it. The second are those folks who fear that celebrating Christmas goes against our diverse culture and isn’t inclusive of people who aren’t Christians, meaning they don't want the majority to oppress the minority. Both aggressors are wrong, but powerful. By "powerful" I mean they tend to win a lot of Constitution-based court cases. They're not actually powerful or even in the majority, but still they win. They're that sneaky!

This war takes on many forms. For example, there is the annual lawsuit by Madison’s Freedom From Religion Foundation against any government body that puts a nativity set on its lawn. This year, they decided to sue Manitowoc County for a nativity scene placed on the courthouse’s lawn by the Manitowoc County Catholic Women’s Club. The Freedom From Religion Foundation argues that such a display represents a breach of the separation of church and state even though Manitowoc County allows other religious and celebratory displays of county property. By "allowing", I mean that there's at least one County Board member of the committee that decides what can be put on the lawn, and he says it would be unacceptable to put up a sign that says "There is no God", although he also approves of never having to receive an application from the Catholics. They just get the right to do so, in perpetuity. That's true diversity: They'll allow both Catholics and Protestants, assuming the Protestants might ever want to go up against all the Catholics on the Public Works Committee.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation falls into the ranks of the first aggressors. They detest Christianity and are using the legal system in an attempt to eradicate it from our culture. I did an extensive search of their archives and can’t find any instance of them suing over the presentation of a Menorah or other religious symbols. Their ire is entirely focused on attacking Christianity. What right do they have to specialize in opposing the one True and Predominant religion of the land?

Another example of aggressors in this war is retail stores that insist on sanitizing their advertising and greetings of the words “Merry Christmas.” Instead, we are greeted with the generic “Happy Holidays” and “Holiday Sales.” Again, I think they should be required to proclaim the truth of Our Lord, or at least be shamed into doing so. Let the other devil religions be the hindmost!

The reason for their choice of words is simple. Retailers are in the business of making money and they fear insulting any of their non-Christian customers by uttering any words associated with Christ. It’s a sensible decision, but wrong. It ignores two important facts. First, the vast majority of their customers are likely to be demonstrative Christians like me, thus the sellers run the risk of offending the majority of their customer base by refusing to acknowledge the actual name of the holiday. If you can't praise what we believe in exactly the same way we do, we'll be offended. Second, most of their customers who are not Christians are probably not going to be offended by the word “Christmas.” I say "probably" because I know how those bastards think. They're sneaky, I tell you!

Put this in contrast to an incident that happened to my family and me on Sunday at a local eating establishment (or "restaurant") that sells only Godly food. At the conclusion of our meal, our waitress said, “God bless you all and have a Merry Christmas.” You know what? It was great to hear a young lady freely expressing her joy and we are almost certain to return to the establishment. It had nothing to do with her recognizing our obvious piety and sucking-up for a good tip. If she had said, “Happy Hanukah,” I would be equally glad of her joy and by no means offended because I am not of her faith. I'm speaking hypothetically, of course... Not that this establishment would let the Jew serve to the Christian.

I’ve got a little news for the folks out there who worry about offending people by using the term “Merry Christmas”. People are smarter than you think. We’ve been living in a multicultural society for our entire lives and are fully capable of going about our days without being offended because somebody is of another faith or ethnic background or nationality or gender or physical capability. Follow the logic: We will be offended if you don't praise our Christmas using exactly the words we dictate.

Herein lies the folly of the War on Christmas. The vast majority of Americans want to celebrate their faith and are not offended or upset when other people celebrate their faith, even if they use government funds to do so, or even if the government appears to be blessing my religion over all other beliefs. After all, they want to appear as good Christians! Don't we all? It is a foundational concept of our nation that we are all free to celebrate our religions and can do so without imposing our religion on others, except when we demand that others use certain words or "blessings" to acknowledge our superior morality. At the same time, we can observe or even embrace the celebration of others’ religion without embarrassment or risking our own faith, assuming the infidels have the government power or money to do so, as it should be.

Ironically, the aggressors in the War on Christmas are battling against the tolerant society in which we live. Instead of living and letting live, they are seeking to impose a rigid adherence to their own social norms. We should insure that every sales person in every store must say "Merry Christmas" in a serious, non-ironical way as often as they can. That's true freedom. Free societies are inherently messy and require a give and take between citizens, but it’s something that Americans have been doing successfully for over 200 years. We should declare a truce and allow folks of every religion to share their joy without hesitation or retribution. Those who don't have religion, especially those who don't believe in the obvious truth of Our Savior Jesus Christ, can suck eggs.

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Posted by Owen at 1054 hrs
Culture + Politics + Politics - Wisconsin
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Back On Line

Well, I finally eradicated the malware on my PC.  I was hit with the SafeGuard2008.  Yuck.  It killed Symantec and Ad-Aware.  I finally got rid of it by going to safe mode and running Malwarebytes about 9 times.  Right now I’m scanning my backup drive to make sure it’s clean before I initiate a backup.  Everything seems to be functioning normally. 

Back to my virtual life… I swear I'll never download another so-called "video codec" from a guns 'n boots site.

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Posted by Owen at 1051 hrs
Technology + The Blog
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GAB’s Uneven and Inconsistent Rulings

Idiotic.

The state board that enforces ethics and campaign finance laws Wednesday told Justice Annette Ziegler to disclose what is in her family’s blind trusts, but it let Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack keep secret her holdings in a trust created 12 years ago. Both justices asked the Government Accountability Board to waive the full-disclosure requirement that was part of the law that created the panel. That rule is needed to avoid conflict-of-interest violations by state officials, board members said.

A blind trust is the most secure way of isolating a justice from his or her financial interests.  Forcing a justice to break the trust only serves to provide opportunity for lawyers to petition to have a justice removed from more and more cases.

It's as if they're saying that Justice Ziegler did something wrong! What's so wrong with letting your brother-in-law manage your "blind" trust for you? How are you supposed to hear how your investments are doing, if not over Thanksgiving dinner? It would be totally unfair to not have any control over how your money is invested. So Roggensack asked state officials how to set up a good trust before she did it. Whoop-de-freaking-do. We can't trust that Ziegler did it right, too? I mean, she's a Justice now, just as sharp and ethical as Justice Gableman. She used to be a judge, and she worked quite well with important clients such as West Bend Savings Bank, where I store the portion of my money that isn't invested in gold coins and hidden in the safe with my most valuable guns.

The GAB is an utter disgrace.  I supported its creation.  I was wrong.  Now that they've done something I disagree with, it should be tossed into the dustbin of bad ideas.

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Posted by Owen at 2356 hrs
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wood’s Third Drunk Driving Arrest

Time to throw the book

State Rep. Jeff Wood (I-Bloomer) could be facing his third-offense drunken driving charge. An arrest report released today said Wood has two prior convictions for drunken driving in Eau Claire County in 1990 and 1991. A third offense can include a fine of $600 to $2,000 and 30 days to 1 year in jail. According to his driver’s license record, Wood was convicted of drunken driving for incidents on June 2, 1990, and Oct. 26, 1991. His license was suspended for about six months after the first incident, and for almost 18 months after the second incident.

Funny how he didn’t bother to mention that it was his third time in any of his responses to media.  Maybe he still has a shred of Republican in him yet!

Then there are the sordid details:

Wood was urinating by the side of the highway when a state trooper pulled up behind him after receiving a report that a car had drifted onto the median and smashed through a caution sign. Wood told the trooper he had pulled over to talk to his wife on the phone to tell her what a fun time he'd had at the biofuel event and that afterwards he'd been drinking a newly developed biofuel blend with his college buddies, but admitted he was urinating on the grass, not on himself. The trooper asked Wood whether he had hit anything, but Wood said he hadn’t - but he might've bumped something while tuning the radio. Wood’s tire was flat and his front license plate - which was later found by the smashed road sign - was missing. Asked about the condition of his 1998 Buick Skylark, Wood told the trooper the damage might have happened while he was parking, pointing out that a lot of tire-related flattenings happen while parking, or during the time that his car was actually flying above the road on glittery rainbow wings just before the bumping of the sign. Wood’s blood-alcohol level was 0.15, almost twice the legal limit for driving, but average for many social gatherings of Republicans and their friends . The trooper arrested Wood and then found a “marijuana smoking tube” and $35 worth of marijuana in two bags in Wood’s car, according to the report.

If he continues to refuse to resign, his constituents should recall him.  If he takes office in January 2009, we can start the recall petition as early as November 2009, turning in the signatures in January 2010, and maybe the recall election will happen in April 2010, meaning we could seat a new member just after the 2010 legislative session has ended. That'll show him! He'll lose a good nine months of bennies. That's what you get when you leave the Republican party and start hanging out with Democrats.

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Posted by Owen at 1556 hrs
Law + Politics + Politics - Wisconsin
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Wood’s Drunk/High Arrest

This makes me think

State Rep. Jeff Wood (I-Bloomer) had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 - nearly twice the legal limit - when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of marijuana, according to a police report released Monday. Wood, 39, was also suspected of possession of drug paraphernalia after he was stopped at 2:11 a.m. Friday on I-39/90/94 in Columbia County by the State Patrol. Wood had driven onto the center median and smashed through a caution sign a few minutes before he was stopped, says the State Patrol report.

0.15 is definitely drunk, but not horribly drunk.  But ex-Republican Wood was swerving, hitting a sign, and generally out of control.  Personally, I don’t think that a 0.15 drunkenness would make Wood drive so erratically.  If he had simply formed a local chapter of "Drinking Right", bolstered his tolerance for ethanol by regular drinking on evenings and weekends, perhaps he could've been in better shape to handle this amount of liquor. This makes me think he was more high than drunk.  After all, it's not about being right - it's about being drinking!

Just speculating…

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Posted by Owen at 2346 hrs
Law + Politics + Politics - Wisconsin
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Streamlining the Process

This is a good thing, as long as oversight isn’t ignored. 

Gov. Jim Doyle said today the state must streamline the way it designs, bids and awards contracts for highway and other major construction projects, if President-elect Barack Obama and Congress approve a major economic stimulus project for states. Doyle said current procurement rules “are going to have to be shortened” to meet Obama’s goal of having the aid package create constructions jobs by spring. But ways to guarantee the integrity of each new contract must also be part of those changes, the governor said.

But if it’s good enough for government, can we get the same kind of slashes in red tape for private sector projects?  After all, it’s about getting people working... right? For every thing, there is a season: A time to praise the profits of the company owners, a time to praise the dollar earned by the worker, a time to recommend no-bid contracts for government hand-outs, a time to hire private agencies to do the work of our Army. It all depends on who needs scratching and the time remaining before the next election.

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Posted by Owen at 2250 hrs
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Trading Sex Life for Technology?

Shocking.

Of course when it comes to TV, perhaps size matters, at least according to a different survey earlier this year of Britons conducted by electronics retailer Comet. Almost half of the men polled said they would give up sex for six months in return for a 50-inch plasma TV, according to Reuters. That compared with just over a third of women who were willing to make the same sacrifice for the big-screen television.

I guess the real question is, "Sex with who?"

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Posted by Owen at 1718 hrs
Culture + Technology
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Poll: 45% of U.S. Voters Think Obama’s Team Was Likely Involved in Scandal

Apparently, Illinois has triple the number of delusional idiots as the rest of the nation.

Forty five percent (45%) of U.S. voters say it is likely President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is Very Likely. Just 11% say it is not at all likely, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Thursday and Friday nights. Voters nationally are more skeptical than those in Illinois. Thirty-two percent (32%) of Illinois voters said in a survey late last week that there is no way Obama was involved in the Blagojevich case, while only 13% said it is Very Likely that the president-elect was involved, with another 13% saying it is Somewhat Likely.

Obama and his staff may be totally clean here, but to say that there’s “no way” that Obama or his staff were involved is ridiculous. Follow the logic, as I can't be wrong if I simultaneously cover all bases by saying Obama could be clean yet certainly still must be dirty. I can hold several contradictory facts in my brain at once, even before breakfast. With nearly half the nation thinking that Obama’s team may have been involved, he needs to address this aggressively.  I say so. I am the blogger!

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Posted by Owen at 0758 hrs
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Date With a Hooker

Unusually interesting and yet tragic.

So it was set. My first date with a prostitute would be at a bowling alley in west Broward. We could talk about whatever she wanted. Do whatever she felt like doing. As long as it didn’t involve anything even close to sex.

It had to be one of the weirder propositions she’d heard. Call it some sort of half-baked sociological experiment: What happens when you take a hooker on a regular date? What happens when you share a walk on the beach or a piece of pizza instead of, oh, something that ends in job?

And that’s why, at the Don Carter Tamarac Lanes, during the third frame of the second bowling game, Sophia the prostitute is telling me about the time she went out on a fetish call and got kidnapped and held hostage for three days.

Hat tip Dean’s World.  You know it's an important story when I say "unusually interesting" instead of just "Interesting." or "Interesting!".

Yikes! How can I explain to Wendy why I've been searching the Internet for stories about going on dates with prostitutes and not having sex with them?

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Posted by Owen at 1619 hrs
Culture
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Friday, December 12, 2008

AFP Sues Madison Lawyers for Mail Tampering

This should be pretty easy to prove.  There are the thousands of copies of the original mailing and the one that was altered.  Proving who altered it might be more difficult. 

UPDATE: Oops… when I read it to say “tampering” I thought it meant that they altered the document.  That is not the case.  They allegedly opened someone else’s mail, which still is a felony last I checked.  I'm under a lot of pressure to get these posts out, sometimes I get them completely wrong.

A conservative-leaning group accused two prominent Madison attorneys Thursday of tampering with an election mailing and improperly investigating whether it was legal. Michael D. Dean, an attorney for the Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin chapter, filed complaints with the U.S. attorney in Madison, the U.S. Postal Service and the state Office of Lawyer Regulation accusing lawyer Mike Wittenwyler of tampering with the mail. The complaint accuses Wittenwyler of opening an AFPW mailing addressed to a dead man and forwarding it to state election officials for an investigation.

Follow the logic: These fellows may have come dangerously close to violating the law.

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Posted by Owen at 1738 hrs
Law + Politics + Politics - Wisconsin
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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Episode III: The Return of the Owen

Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down, Owen. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve your Empress. Assume the position!

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Posted by Wendy at 1411 hrs
The Blog
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The world is a dangerous place

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online.  It’s called, ”The world is a dangerous place.” And it is…

While Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving, watching football, playing with guns indoors and out, and visiting family, Mumbai was under siege. Let me tell you another story to fill the pages of this fine newspaper.

Mumbai is the financial capital of India. At a population of nearly 14 million, it is the most populous city in the world. It is also an extremely metropolitan city, due to its condensed population in such a small space. Follow the logic: If they showed some common sense and spread those same people out over the Indian countryside, it wouldn't be extremely metropolitan any more. It is millennia old and has been ruled by everyone from the Buddhists to the Portuguese to the English to the Indians. Beyond being the financial capital of India, it is also the entertainment capital, home to the famous Bollywood. I'm not sure what it's famous for, but you've heard of it, haven't you? Something about dancing and singing in their movies. They're not even in English!

[...] The exceptionally alarming aspect of the Mumbai attack is the sophistication of it. Don't be afraid, though. Columnists such as myself are prepared to read the rest of the newspaper and regurgitate complicated news stories in an easy-to-digest form. I'm used to movies where the bad guys show some obvious ineptitude or fatal flaw, making it easier for them to be vanquished by the good guys. It was not the typical terrorist attack where they hit and retreat. The Mumbai attack was incredibly well planned, almost as if they knew what they were doing. The terrorists had obviously scouted their targets and knew them intimately. They were also well armed and on a coordinated timetable. They did not stop for coffee and whatever it is they might eat with coffee over there. Do they even have coffee in India? In the end, 10 men managed to hold an important city of nearly 14 million hostage for three days. Not literally, but you know what I mean, right?

This marks a worrisome development in tactics among the terrorist organizations of the world. They are rapidly becoming more sophisticated with access to intelligence, arms and transport. It's almost as if the armies of nations are indistinguishable from the armies of those we call terrorists. They are also becoming more disciplined and thoughtful. The Mumbai attack marks a turning point in the war on terror. This War on Terror, it's always turning. Never stops. Just like rolling through stop signs to stay safe in nasty neighborhoods.

This an important time to remember how the actions of President Bush have thwarted a major terrorist attack on American soil for seven years now. Not only terrorists, but his very Father-like presence has chased away attacks by Sasquatch and evil leprechauns as well. Some of the measures taken by our government are known. Some of them are controversial. The Guantanamo Bay prison, water boarding, wire tapping calls to and from foreign nations, suppressing dissent at the Republican convention, suspension of big chunks of the Constitution and other tactics have been lambasted by some folks. Not me, though. Other tactics, like taking off our shoes at the airport, have been ridiculed. Not by me! I always welcome a little break with my shoes off when I travel. We gain a certain security by throwing all those shampoo bottles together in the same bin. Imagine if they were all full of explosives! That would be one big explosive trash bin. It's a good thing they're not. That's why we need to throw them away.

Undoubtedly, there are also many more measures of which we will never know. There is a grey area of national security in which we don’t really want to know what’s happening. By "we" I mean I want you to plug your ears and cover your eyes, just like I do. Highly trained men and women acting on our behalf undoubtedly do unbelievable things to keep out nation safe, just like in the movies. While I might spend a great deal of my time ridiculing the underperformance and over-paid nature of government, it doesn't apply to anything that might make a good movie, like one that has guns or spies in it. Do Bollywood movies about guns and spies still include the dancing and singing? While the “open government” instincts in me want to know those details, I can suppress it. I'm very good at suppressing. Back in the closet with you, feelings! I'm a man, dammit! The “we live in the real world” instincts push me into welcoming willful, blissful ignorance. It's the best kind! Nobody except perhaps the President himself knows all of the details, and that may be for the better.

Nothing argues as well as success. The absence of evidence is the evidence of absence, I always say! President Bush’s measures have kept our nation free of a major terrorist for the better part of a decade. Giving up our freedoms has made us free. That fact, if nothing else, may be the definitive legacy of President Bush’s terms.

The big question now is, “what will President Obama do?” The evidence is that President Bush’s tactics have worked, but Barack Obama has been a vocal opponent of many of those tactics. Will President Obama acknowledge that Bush’s tactics, like Guantanamo Bay and wiretapping, are a necessary evil? Or will Obama abandon all of Bush’s tactics in favor of a new, unproven path involving Bill Ayers, a known domestic terrorist? Or his Rev. Wright, who has said bad things about Our Country? Will Obama remove all the guns from the White House?

Only time will tell, but Obama’s presidency will be rightfully marred should America fall victim to the likes of the Mumbai attack because of a retreat from fighting terrorism. Let us forget and supppress anything else bad that Bush has done, in the name of the overarching holy war on terror. Let’s hope that President Obama is willing to do what is necessary to keep Americans safe, including all the things that our President Bush did. And it is… I say so.

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Posted by Owen at 2229 hrs

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