Sunday, February 28, 2010

17.2% insurance rate increase? Thank Paul Ryan

And here I was second guessing myself.... Unless maybe Kevin thinks Paul Ryan is another one of them liberals.

17.2% insurance rate increase? Thank Paul Ryan
How sold out is Paul Ryan?

Since coming to Congress, Ryan has collected $528,751 from insurance industry donors. No industry provides Ryan with more campaign money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And his take is going up. Over the past year, he has taken in more than $74,720 in contributions from insurance industry-related political action committees and executives.

As it turns out, Ryan’s a good investment.

Last week, he was one of just 19 members of the House who voted against a proposal to strip antitrust exemptions for insurance companies. According to the American Medical Association, most local markets in the U.S. are dominated by a single insurer. What that means is that there is no real competition, a circumstance that allows big insurers to impose radical rate hikes.

The vast majority of House Republicans got it.

A total of 153 GOP representatives voted with 253 Democrats to create real competition.

And so on.

Friday, February 26, 2010

More Republican fibs from the health care summit

Here's what my Nobel Prize winner thought about the Republican health care "plan".
In reality, House Republicans don’t have anything to offer to Americans with troubled medical histories. On the contrary, their big idea — allowing unrestricted competition across state lines — would lead to a race to the bottom. The states with the weakest regulations — for example, those that allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence — would set the standards for the nation as a whole. The result would be to afflict the afflicted, to make the lives of Americans with pre-existing conditions even harder.

GOP Lies at the Health Care Summit

As usual... but it is telling that all of this negotiating with the minority party is not always worth the effort -- especially when they aren't interested in negotiating.

GOP Lies at the Health Care Summit
That’s a divide that can’t be bridged. Because the Republicans continue to just lie, whether it’s about process (see reconciliation) or the CBO reports on the existing plan. Ezra:

Lamar Alexander and Barack Obama just had a contentious exchange on this point, so it’s worth settling the issue: Yes, the CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums. The issue gets confused because it also found that access to subsidies would encourage people to buy more comprehensive insurance, which would mean that the value of their insurance would be higher after reform than before it. But that’s not the same as insurance becoming more expensive: The fact that I could buy a nicer car after getting a better job suggests that cars are becoming pricier. The bottom line is that if you’re comparing two plans that are exactly the same, costs go down after reform.

Too bad, eh? Good for Canada, where more Americans are now heading for cheaper health care coverage.


Why the Tea Party is making me nervous. Glenn Beck Finally Admitted His Great Desire

This speech actually scans better in German.

Glenn Beck Finally Admitted His Great Desire: To 'Eradicate' Progressives

Beck didn't understand Tom Paine, so there's no reason to imagine he understood Teddy Roosevelt either -- not any better than Hitler understood Nietzsche. -- not that this stops anyone.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Tea Party Movement has it right! -- almost.

Food for thought.

Democracy and the Threat of Authoritarianism: Politics Beyond Barack Obama:

"Under the new authoritarianism, the corporate state and the punishing state merge as economics drives politics and repression is increasingly used to contain all those individuals and groups caught in the expanding web of extreme inequality and powerlessness that touches everything from the need for basic health care, food and shelter to the promise of a decent education. As the social state is hollowed out under pressure from free-market advocates, right-wing politicians and conservative ideologues, the United States has increasingly turned its back on any semblance of social justice, civic responsibility and democracy itself. How else to explain the influential journalist Thomas Friedman's shameless endorsement of military adventurism in a New York Times article? Friedman argued, 'The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the US Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.'[18] Freedom in this discourse is inextricably wedded to state and military violence, and is a far cry from any semblance of a claim to democracy."

Reduce our social relations to economic ones, and what do you get?


School board needs to make sure it's priorities are correct

Let's start here:
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world." [Hannah Arendt, "Between Past and Future" (New York: Penguin Books, [1968] 1993), p. 196.]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Myth of the Powerful Teachers' Union

In Wisconsin the teachers union takes a lot of flak for...

For what again? The Milwaukee Public School system debacle?

Hmm. Read on.

David Macaray on The Myth of the Powerful Teachers' Union

Wall Street's Bailout Hustle

And, of course....

Wall Street's Bailout Hustle : Rolling Stone

The nation's six largest banks — all committed to this balls-out, I drink your milkshake! strategy of flagrantly gorging themselves as America goes hungry — set aside a whopping $140 billion for executive compensation last year, a sum only slightly less than the $164 billion they paid themselves in the pre-crash year of 2007.

If you're white, Christian, and don't like paying taxes, you're a not a terrorist.

Tea is an entry level drug for this:

Kamakazi pilot Joe Stack, who crashed plane into Austin building, hailed by anti-government groups
THE FIRES in Austin were still burning yesterday when the Internet lit up with government haters cheering suicide pilot Joe Stack and calling him a hero.

"Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the Constitution," wrote Emily Walters of Louisville, Ky.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shhhh... the richest 1% Have Captured America's Wealth

I suppose the free marketeers could argue that had we actually had a free market, this wouldn't have happened. My response is that there has never been a free market and that the belief in such a Neverland has blinded even conservatives to the trickle up, that was supposed to be a trickle down.

The Richest 1% Have Captured America's Wealth -- What's It Going to Take to Get It Back? | | AlterNet
Paul Buchheit, from DePaul University, revealed, "From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after-tax percentage of our nation's total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20%." Robert Freeman added, "Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three-quarters of all the economy's growth was captured by the top 1%."

Due to this, the United States already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the average worker much harder than CEOs, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high. The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all time record.


Something for Darwin Day: Win Ben Stein's mind

Roger Ebert put off reviewing Ben Stein's weird little exercise in losing money while appearing to be a media shill.


Win Ben Stein's mind - Roger Ebert's Journal

Shout out to DanBack for sending me this!


Creationist candidates aren't real conservatives.

Hi everyone,

I got to thinking about what a real conservative would do with our tax dollars: first and foremost, I think they'd spend the money prudently. The self-identified creationist candidates, who also claim to be fiscal conservatives, were opposed to either part or all of last spring's school referendum.

But wouldn't real fiscal conservatives spend a little money now to save a lot of money later?

Yeah, that's what I thought too.

To me this suggests they're social conservatives but not fiscal conservatives. To me this suggests they're more interested in managing the tax-payers' morality than they are in managing the tax-payers' money.

Saturday's column.

The past is prologue

The best part about true fiscal conservatism is that it doesn't waste money; it isn't penny wise and pound foolish. It keeps an eye on the net, even while fiddling with the gross. For those of you who don't consider teaching religious doctrines in a science class a litmus test for electability as it is, I'm afraid, for me, then what about handling the school district's money?

Well, now that we're almost a year away from last spring's School District referendums, we can look back at the failure of the anti-tax pro-cuts point of view to embody real fiscal conservatism. Should we call those in the pro-cuts lobby Conservatives in Name Only? Let's see.

What's clear now is this: had voters listened to the anti-tax pro-cuts point of view, it would have cost us money.

Speaking against spending any taxpayer money on children is certainly one way to look fiscally conservative, but being fiscally conservative is another matter. The retrofit on Badger was not something that could be put off. The building had been in violation of ADA provisions for some years. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen. The true fiscal conservatives were the School Board members who, last year, went through the numbers, carefully calculating cost versus benefit across a spectrum of possible budgetary shortfalls and, working against a state budget process that consistently clobbers West Bend, came up with the best economic solution for the taxpayer: spend some money now to avoid spending a lot of money later. Real fiscal conservatives know that spending a little money sooner can save a ton of dough later. The antitax pro-cuts point of view stood against this principle, arguing that the spending was neither necessary nor prudent. In light of Badger's condition and the potential for lawsuits the spending was necessary – but was it prudent, after all?

Baird submitted a report last month showing that, by passing the Badger component of the referendum when we did, voters here have saved themselves $9.7 million dollars and, because the project was started when it was, the bidding came in $500,000 lower than originally estimated. All of which puts the taxpayer ahead by over $10 million. Saving $10 million in taxpayer dollars for something that had to be done seems prudent to me.

Mr. Weigand, one of the creationist candidates who cleared Tuesday's primary, was opposed to both parts of the referendum but the other candidate, Mr. Marquardt, broke with the pro-cuts crowd and came out in favor of the Badger renovation, even though he opposed investing any money to repair the elementary schools. But imagine how much more money the taxpayer would have saved had voters approved both components of the referendum (and remember, within the city of West Bend, the other part of the referendum only lost by 16 votes). Moreover, imagine the $10 million that would have been lost had voters listened to the anti-tax pro-cuts groups last spring and voted against the Badger project.

Work on the school district's buildings can always be postponed, but not indefinitely. Eventually we have to spend the money on repairs and retrofitting. Had we waited a year on Badger, it would have cost us $10 million. How much more will it cost us for putting off repairs and upgrades on the elementary schools?

Seems to me a true fiscal conservative would spend a little money in the short term in order to save tax payers money in the long term: exactly the course taken by the members of the school board now running for re-election: Mr. Corazzi and Ms. Van Eerden.

So if you want to vote on the basis of who will be more prudent when it comes to spending your money wisely, the past is prologue.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Campaign Against JFK Miniseries Smear Effort Forces History Channel to Rethink Project

Campaign Against JFK Miniseries Smear Effort Forces History Channel to Rethink Project:

"Campaign Against JFK Miniseries Smear Effort Forces History Channel to Rethink Project

A historically revisionist series backed by a producer with ties to Roger Ailes has led 40,000 people to sign a petition calling the script 'right-wing character assassination.'"

Roger Ailes? Why would he want to... oh yeah. Duh.

Time to prosecute Cheney.

Wow, so maybe there are Bush loyalists still pulling the levers inside the US Department of Justice.

Dick Cheney's taunting from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.
Dick Cheney went on ABC News this weekend and boasted of the role he played in ordering the waterboarding of detainees. Andrew Sullivan has written several posts accurately describing this statement as a "confession of committing a war crime on national television." Harper's Scott Horton identifies the specific criminal statute Cheney confessed he violated, makes clear that -- as the Attorney General himself previously said -- there is no reasonable debate possible regarding the criminality of waterboarding under U.S. and international law (notwithstanding the efforts of Politico and friends to pretend otherwise), and then asks: "What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it?"

Apparently, Eric Holder can.

Earth is still flat -- and these big winter snows refute global warmning.

Eugene Robinson - Cold truths about the Northeast's harsh winter
We're the nation that put a man on the moon, so we can't be stupid. We're just pretending, right? We're not really taking seriously the "argument" that the big snowstorms that have hit the Northeast in recent weeks constitute evidence -- or even proof -- that climate change is some kind of hoax.

That would be unbelievably dumb. Yet there are elected officials in Washington who apparently believe such nonsense. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) had his family build an igloo near the Capitol and label it "Al Gore's New Home." Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) boasted on Twitter that the snows would continue "until Al Gore cries uncle." Talking heads are seriously debating whether the record snowstorms doom the prospects for comprehensive legislation to deal with energy policy and climate change, which is one of President Obama's top priorities.

Yep, apparently we are that dumb.


Puritans thwarted in Fond du Lac: Book to remain in Theisen library

I guess the virus is moving north. Glad to see the folks in Fondy got their shots ahead of time.

Book to remain in Theisen library


Skewering Intellectuals.

A fun review.

Skewering Intellectuals

I always assumed the phrase "intellectual elite" could never imply real power -- certainly not when compared to elites like the "economic elite," "political elite," or "corporate elite" -- but now I find that even a balding professor who works at a small university campus in the rural Midwest wields more power than billionaires on Wall Street.

Hot damn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

US economic crash in bound in 2007. Bush family profits.

It's always fun, in a twisted kind of way, not to be surprised.

It’s Official: The Crash of the U.S. Economy has begun [ from June 14, 2007 ]
Among those poised to profit from the crash is the Carlyle Group, the equity fund that includes the Bush family and other high-profile investors with insider government connections. A January 2007 memorandum to company managers from founding partner William E. Conway, Jr., recently appeared which stated that, when the current “liquidity environment”—i.e., cheap credit—ends, “the buying opportunity will be a once in a lifetime chance.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup,


I like the idea of agreeing with the Tea Partiers about something. Maybe we meet here:

The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class
"The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight." -- Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Darwin Day: Dawkins interviewing creationist Wendy Wright

She claims that evidence on creationism has been withheld. This is a brilliant new strategy since it's impossible to establish whether something is or isn't "missing".

How long until our school board candidates start to use the "bad people have kept the truth about evolution being a lie away from people for their own secularist purposes" strategy?

I love her argument, in particular, that "scientists think that they're the only ones who know enough about evolution to teach about it."

Is the Texas board of education a role model for West Bend's creationist candidates?

Seems pretty obvious.

It also seems pretty obvious that all sorts of people are interested in whether a narrow brand of Christianity should have a say in what public school children are taught.

How Christian Were the Founders?

The Christian “truth” about America’s founding has long been taught in Christian schools, but not beyond. Recently, however — perhaps out of ire at what they see as an aggressive, secular, liberal agenda in Washington and perhaps also because they sense an opening in the battle, a sudden weakness in the lines of the secularists — some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, another Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”


For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. “There are two basic facts about man,” he said. “He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen. You can’t appreciate the founding of our country without realizing that the founders understood that. For our kids to not know our history, that could kill a society. That’s why to me this is a huge thing.”

Sounds vaguely familiar to me -- and proves that a little education is a dangerous thing.

No wonder folks like Owen and the Common Sense Citizens Cadre want to wreck public education. It makes people better consumers.

Andy Borowitz on the recent Tea Party identity crisis.

Andy Borowitz recaps the recent Tea Party convention and finds identity problems surfacing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Death of a young luge competitor good for ratings.

Am I the only one who thinks that repeatedly showing the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the young luge competitor from Georgia, is nothing but snuff porn for ratings?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Right's Inability to Grasp Climate Change May Be Funny, But It's Also Very Dangerous.

The Right's Inability to Grasp Climate Change May Be Funny, But It's Also Very Dangerous

The so-called Snowpocalypse has brought out the funny bone in the right-wing media, but their inability to correctly draw causal connections is very dangerous.

My local weather doesn't predict global climate??

Shocking, I know.

More fun from Stewart.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Unusually Large Snowstorm
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Economic crack addiction, still taking its toll among Republicans.

Hey everyone,

I'm still awe-struck by the Republican's refusal to take responsibility for the economic mess we're in... and to keep coming back with the same worn out economic policies that landed us here.

[Scott Walker is the Milwaukee County executive now running against Tom Barrett (former Congressman and now Mayor of Milwaukee) for Governor.]

This week's column.

Scott Walker just says no to tax dollars

There must be something in the air, here in the unhappy-Republicans-who-aren't-being-listened-to post-partisan universe. Paul Ryan, at the federal level, and now Scott Walker here at home, are both heading back-to-the-future with Bush-style tax plans.

President Obama is not the popular guy he was, but remember that entire hopey-changie-thingie last year when Republicans, and their anti-regulation cut-taxes-for-the-rich shell game, were tossed out of power because their economic theories crashed the economy? People are starting to lose some of the hope, but the reasons for tossing out the Republican playbook haven’t gone away. Cut taxes on the rich, again? Um ... who dat?

In the meantime, the same meth-laced economic policies that put us into economic rehab are being rewrapped in shiny new tin foil by Ryan and now Walker. It’s deja vu all over again, to quote the Great Yogi. Listening to their financial justifications is like hearing old junkies reminisce about the early days of their addictions when they got to go to great parties and, quarter after quarter, enjoyed the rush of short term economic ecstasy noodling their brains into pulp and wiping out pension funds across the country. “You know,” they stammer at us today, “there’s no reason we shouldn’t try to go back there.”

If you have friends or relatives with addiction issues, you’ll recognize the symptoms of denial wrapped in nostalgia for a past that didn’t exist, except at the other end of an economic crack-pipe. Let’s save Ryan for another time – maybe by then the national Republican leadership will actually acknowledge what he’s up to. What about Walker’s plan for our tax dollar?

Well, if we can believe the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's numbers, Walker’s plan to buy Wisconsin an economic “fix” – by giving tax breaks that benefit mainly corporations and people at the very top – will double Wisconsin’s nearly $2 billion budget deficit. He wants to cut income taxes for everyone earning over $225,000 a year; that’ll come to $287 million. He wants to re-write the law to let companies avoid state taxes by maintaining shell-offices in states that don’t have a corporate income tax; that’ll run us another $375 million. He wants to repeal the current code for tax deductions on capital gains to save those making over $200k some dough as well as help out the wealthiest folks in the state by eliminating any tax on retirement income, no matter how much they're raking in; those two will cost us about $1.1 billion. Sounds pretty good, if you’re in the top 5 percent. For the rest of us, maybe not so much.

The rest of us pay taxes in order to get services from the government we couldn’t afford as individuals. In order to try to keep his promised deficit at the $2 billion mark he’s going to have to wade through those services with a chain saw. Some of the obvious targets would be Badger Care or maybe firing 14,000 school teachers or how about cutting the shared revenue program with municipalities (which would result in spectacular property tax rate increases in order to keep paying for police and fire prevention) or, in a notion sure to find support in the crazier corners of the Legislature, cut funding to the entire University of Wisconsin System.

But, of course, no Legislature will let him – and he must know that. So where will the money come from to support all of his tax cuts? The same place junkies always get the money – they steal it from their parents or their kids. Or they borrow it from their Uncle Sam.

Except here, too, we have a problem. Walker has jumped into the Sarah Palin hot tub and, probably giddy from the bubbles, wants us to reject any federal Recovery Act funds. He says he doesn’t want Uncle Sam’s help.

Here’s why that’s stupid: It’s our money.

Wisconsin has received $2.76 billion in funds from the Recovery Act, $2.76 billion Walker would reject, given the chance. But if rejected, the money would not magically return to our pockets. It would end up in Illinois or California. Progressives are often chided for being out of touch with reality, but no progressive ever refused his own money. Walker, by contrast, seems to think this is actually a good idea.

Fortunately, even though he’s announced all of this publicly, he’s still running for governor. Its a nice way to help guarantee another term of progressive values and true fiscal responsibility in the governor’s mansion in Madison, the kind of responsibility that puts the people of Wisconsin ahead of economic crack dealers.

If only we had someone to run for governor who’s managed large budgets, maybe been a mayor or a well-respected congressman, and who espouses the traditional values of old-time Wisconsin Progressivism. That sort of person might be able to fight against the economic crack addiction young Walker is clearly still working through.

Oh yeah, Tom Barrett is running for governor.

We’ll be OK.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Whew, thank goodness. Back to normal: Wall St. Sends Cash to G.O.P.

It's just been too weird to have all of these Democrats in bed with bankers when it's the Republicans over the years who've really kept them warm at night.

In a Message to Democrats, Wall St. Sends Cash to G.O.P.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Common Sense Citizens Correcting me on?

It's nice to be mentioned in dispatches:

1) Announcements:
a) Ed D announced that there are 4 members from our group that is running for a political
seat. Members should be sending their editorial views to help the members that are
running to the Daily News.
b) Mark Peterson editorial placed some wrong information on his last editorial. All
members should read this last editorial. Then all members should place an editorial for
a response to Mark Peterson on what CSC is exactly.
c) Two members from the Ozaukee Patriots joined are meeting tonight.

Correcting wrong information?

Maybe that was all those letters to the editor were about... the ones complaining that I'd misunderstood the Eagle Forum question in which the candidates endorsed the idea of teaching "alternatives" to evolution the schools -- and that this didn't necessarily mean creationism or that it didn't matter anyway and besides I'm against Christianity.

I hope Ed D included himself in that 4.... but I don't see anything in the minutes explaining how their members are supposed to explain that Ed's house was just marked down to the bargain price of $449,000 last week -- although I see he took down the FOR SALE sign. I wonder what he paid George for it? I imagine that'll be in the tax records...

If any of you know Ed, I know that the Daily News wants him to return their calls about this. I'd like to know why he'd want to move out of the district he wants to represent.

Creationists hold fair in West Bend to prove evolution wrong.

Lord, forgive them.

Welcome to Wisconsin Christian News

“Why Do 1,000 Scientists (and Growing) Believe Darwin Was Wrong?” That is the banner on the “What’s the Evidence?” fair booth which has been at Waukesha and Washington Counties this summer and is scheduled to be at Dodge and Sheboygan County fairs.

“A lot of folks come to the booth and admit to having questions about the Creation and Evolution controversy. They tell me they grew up confused, being told in church that God created them and going to school to be told that they evolved from apes,” says Mary Weigand of West Bend, Wis., founder of the booth.

It's nice that the wife of one of our creationist school board candidates is out continuing to confuse the youth of America about science. I know that Mr. Weigand will bring this same determination to the school board, should he win.

I'm still trying to work out what makes this Christian, since plenty of Christians believe in evolution too. Those Christians are probably simply being misled by their own capacity to reason and in this way, of course, by Satan.

Satan probably explains why I did so poorly in math in high school too.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Crossing the political divide with Ice fishing.

Hi everyone,

I thought, after the flurry of resentful and angry letters all hot over the question of religion, something cool would be soothing to the fevered brows of the local heirs of Torquemada.

Saturday's column.

The Zen of ice fishing

Crossing the spiritual divide one tip-up at a time

This week, as we’re engaged in the heat of political battles, I thought I'd talk about something more important than why three of the school board candidates identified themselves as creationists, or why one of the candidates for District 3 has his house up for sale; something more important to our survival as a community, as a culture, as a people.

I thought I’d say something about a religious sensibility uniting us in Wisconsin rather than about the divisiveness of ideologically driven politics that, more and more, fracture our communities.

And what religious practice is it that unites us in Wisconsin? Catholics, Muslims, Pagans, Jews, Wisconsin, Missouri and ELCA Lutherans, and even Zen Buddhists? Ice fishing. Of course.

I was walking our year-old Rottweiler Lab mix along the Milwaukee River late last Sunday morning under an impossibly blue dome of winter sky. The air was icy crisp, like it was made of crystal, like it would break when the church bells at St. Mary's started to ring.

My dog was up on his toes and his ears were up too, taking it all in, bouncing along in front of me, aware of every sparrow and every stray twig and, I suddenly noticed, having a much better time than I was. My mind was chomping on the useless cud of current events: snippets from the NY Times Week In Review opinion columns, the Sunday morning news shows, the logical syntax in some of the previous week's letters to the editor in the Daily News endorsing School Board candidates I don’t endorse, one written by a friend of mine, the swirling rush of fallacious and almost wrathful reasoning that constitutes political discourse online, and 10,000 other meaningless and time-consuming shards of things I d been exposed to in the past week. The shards were banging together like out-of-tune wind chimes.

Coming to myself, I thought,

"This is an inappropriate mental content for a Sunday morning."

As if to reinforce this discovery, a redtailed hawk sitting on a tree beside the river drew my attention to the ice above the Barton Dam and there, sitting on a bucket, was an answer to the question of what constitutes appropriate Sunday content: quiet reflection through prayerful attention to something one loves — in the form of a lone ice fisherman. He was bobbing over his hole a bit and almost looked like he was working a set of rosary beads. I’d like to think he was.

Ice fishing marks off people in Wisconsin as serious-minded and deeply spiritual.

Note: they don't have ice fishing in California. Or Texas.

Ice fishing is often compared to a kind of Zen. Consider the process: attention to an empty hole down which you drop the thinnest line of intention and from which you draw forth, after patience and long practice, nourishment — but not just for the body, since I can’t imagine anyone eats much of what they pull out of the Milwaukee River and because, frankly, in ice fishing it can’t be the fish that matters. No. That empty hole in the ice provides nourishment for the soul, something rarely mentioned in the endless list of ice fishing jokes. (Favorite ice fishing joke punch line: Keep your worms warm.)

When I got home I tossed all of this at my friend Andrew, a one-time Wisconsin ice fisherman, who is now practicing Zen out in Oregon.

I asked, What’s up with Zen and ice fishing?

He sent me this: A Wisconsin version of a poem originally by Sensu Tokujo (Chinese, Chuanzi Decheng)

Letting down the line ten thousand feet,
A single break in the thick ice makes ten thousand cracks.
At night, under the shanty the cold fish won't bite.
An empty Ski-doo filled with moonlight returns.

He reminded me that Henry David Thoreau, a Zen master if ever there was one, once observed: Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

And, finally, I began to wonder whether running for office was like fishing.

Now that’s the appropriate content for a Sunday.

[The house in District 3 belongs to Ed Duquaine, currently running for alderman in that district -- but he didn't return calls about this either from me or from the newspaper so I did not mention his name in print.]


Friday, February 05, 2010

Wingnuts Are Sad that Progressives Don’t Take Their Nonsense Seriously

The pose of victimization among the right wing, now turning up the volume. It's hard out there for a pimp.

Wingnuts Are Sad that Progressives Don’t Take Their Nonsense Seriously
But just to take one example, the total costs of all malpractice suits in the U.S. — frivolous or not — is about one half of one percent of our health-care costs. So why should I view the argument that tort reform is a key component of getting out-of-control health-care costs under control with anything but scorn?

Or look at the so-called “Death tax.” Conservatives have been arguing for years that it’s killing family farms, but they have never been able to find a single example of a family who actually lost a farm because of the inheritance tax. I look down my nose at those making the argument not because I’m some ivory-tower elitist, but because I don’t respect liars.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Finally, the evidence.

Another reader who disagrees about creationist candidates.

A letter to the editor.

If you like the Middle Ages, vote Weigand,Marquardt

There has been some scuttlebutt recently about the possibility of
creationists being elected to the School Board.

I support creationism being taught in the classroom, however, I
don’t want to stop there. I’d like to see alchemy taught alongside the
theory of “chemistry,” astrology alongside “astronomy,” magic
alongside “physics” and phrenology alongside “neurology.”

I wholeheartedly endorse David Weigand and Randy Marquardt for
School Board. I’d like to turn back the clock and educate like we live
in a simpler time, say, the year 1400 - and they are our best chance
at making that happen.

I believe Weigand and Marquardt can succeed where the Dover, Pa.
School Board failed in 2005. That School Board spent $2 million in
taxpayer dollars fighting a lawsuit after introducing “Intelligent
Design” (ID) into the classroom.

A godless Bush appointed judge sided against the creationists,
stating in his conclusion: “The proper application of both the
endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it
abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment
Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal
question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not,
and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and
thus religious, antecedents.”

I for one think this decision is outrageous and ought to be
challenged again. I think Weigand and Marquardt (both good Christians
working in the construction trades from what I understand) are the
right people to challenge the Establishment Clause of the Constitution
and the taxpayers of West Bend ought to stand up and foot the bill.
Let’s put West Bend on the map for putting Christ (along with Houdini,
Shirley MacLaine and Franz Joseph Gall) back in the classroom.

Dan Backhaus town of Trenton

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

This explains a lot: Large Portion Of GOP Thinks Obama Is Racist, Socialist, Non-U.S. Citizen

Ah, paranoia is sweet when it lets you really work up a lather.

Large Portion Of GOP Thinks Obama Is Racist, Socialist, Non-U.S. Citizen: Poll

Some examples [ by the way, this does not even include self-identified Tea Partiers, for whom the paranoia is even more dramatic ]:
  • 39 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached, 29 percent are not sure, 32 percent said he should not be voted out of office.
  • 36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States, 22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.
  • 31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a "Racist who hates White people" -- the description once adopted by Fox News's Glenn Beck. 33 percent were not sure, and 36 percent said he was not a racist.
  • 63 percent of Republicans think Obama is a socialist, 16 percent are not sure, 21 percent say he is not
  • 24 percent of Republicans believe Obama wants "the terrorists to win," 33 percent aren't sure, 43 percent said he did not want the terrorist to win.
  • 21 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election, 55 percent are not sure, 24 percent said the community organizing group did not steal the election.
  • 23 percent of Republicans believe that their state should secede from the United States, 19 percent aren't sure, 58 percent said no.
  • 53 percent of Republicans said they believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama.

There is a kind of perverse comfort in knowing that one is not as crazy as this... but it's immediately counter-acted by the knowledge that so many Republicans now are. What happened to the Republican Party? When did the wingnuts take the thing over?

A West Bend Creation Worldview Weekend: are we becoming creationist central?

Wow, it's amazing how popular we've become.

Jensen Family Park Events and Profile, West Bend WI

Shout out to Dan for finding this!

(There you go Dan... sorry I missed it the first time!)

Ayn Rand: engineer of souls

Something for Kevin:

Ayn Rand: engineer of souls by Anthony Daniels - The New Criterion

Ayn Rand was never, in fact, much appreciated or very influential in Europe; at the height of her fame in America, where her books sold by the million, her name was not one to conjure with on the other side of the Atlantic. She was much read by middle-class young Indians of the time, however, as well as by Americans, and she is now coming back into fashion globally. I confess that enthusiasm for her is to me utterly mysterious, and the excellent new biography by Ann C. Heller does not clear up the mystery but, rather, deepens it.[1]

And another... Mr. Marquardt replies.

I think it's interesting that being opposed to a 14th century view of the creation of the universe is the same thing as religious intolerance.

-- but if Mr. Marquardt didn't think his view of educational content mattered, he would have been more circumspect.

I also love the idea that working at Cowpie is like working in an Ivory Tower.

West Bend Peterson merely mocks those who disagree with his beliefs

Once again, Mr. Peterson’s anti-religion bias shines forth in a
column. I do agree with him that a candidate’s religious views should
be of no interest in a School Board race. Unfortunately, he does not
see that his own views on science are also clouded by religion –
simply a version that chooses to view things from a humanist and god-
less alternative perspective.
I did not intend to get into a theological discussion when I
entered this race. Eagle Forum posed the question of teaching
“alternate theories of origins ... as an alternative, or in addition,
to the theory of evolution.” I focused on the word “origins” because
there are vast differences of scientific opinion as to the beginning
of our world and the one that Mr. Peterson chooses to believe is no
more factual or provable than the next, including creationism.
While the scientific process of evolution is proven fact, extending
it backwards to attempt to explain the origin of life requires equally
as much faith as any other theory. Therefore, I do not support
teaching one origin theory as fact over the next, and neither do I
believe in censuring any of them. Intelligent Design simply allows
that religious beliefs are not necessarily incompatible with known
science. What we are supposed to be doing is opening young minds to
all possibilities, especially where facts are not clearly defined.
As for common sense, maybe Mr. Peterson needs to come down from his
ivory tower once in a while – to talk with regular folks rather than
just mocking them. Belief in God and his creation is rather normal
down here, as is upholding moral principles, free enterprise and
personal responsibility – all virtues that he, and the intellectual
class in general, has been trying to erode in the name of “progress.”

Randy Marquardt

A reader disagrees.

A reader disagrees.

Vote for fiscal conservatives
for School Board
Voters who are concerned about bloated school referendums and the
recent increased property tax levy should vote for Randy Marquardt and
Dave Weigand for School Board on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Marquardt and Weigand will be guided by conservative spending
principles in finding solutions for the tough financial and academic
challenges facing the district.
Keep in mind that free-spending liberals and the self-serving
teachers' union are united in opposing the election of Marquardt and
It should be noted that leftist professor and columnist Mark
Peterson recently dedicated an entire article in this paper opposing
their candidacy. He scornfully criticized their common sense values
and expressed strong disagreement with their conservative approach to
What’s more, as those on the left are prone to do, he satirized and
distorted their sincerely held religious beliefs.
That's enough for me. Randy Marquardt and Dave Weigand deserve our

Roger Bardoel

Agreed. To the extent that explaining their views in simple English constitutes distortion, yes.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Creationists running for school board, now on the national blogs.

First, a big shout out to illusory tenant.

Now, according to Owen -- who actually and surprisingly turns out to know even less about science than he does about American political theory, nobody except crazy lefties cares whether school board candidates announce their commitment to creationism as a scientific doctrine.



West Bend is about to become (in)famous on the national stage -- again.

Here's what they're saying about us on the national blogs.

Here's how it starts: West Bend, Wisconsin: aspiring to be the next Texas?

Nice going Mr. Weigand. Nice going Owen. You've sown the wind boys.

May I suggest you return your tray tables to their locked and upright positions?