Saturday, February 28

Quote of the Day

"For the first time we could see the American Dream vanish. Now, instead of working hard so our children can have a better life tomorrow, we are asking our children to work hard so that we don’t have to make tough choices today."---Sen. Richard Burr

Friday, February 27

Why not let this car have a shot on the market

...instead of always bailing out GM and Chrysler?


If it walks like a human, weighs like a human...

then he is your monkey relative.

"It was kind of creepy excavating these things to see all of a sudden something that looks so dramatically like something that you yourself could have made 20 minutes earlier in some kind of wet sediment just next to the site," archaeologist David Braun of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview.

...

Matthew Bennett of Bournemouth University, another of the researchers,
said the findings show that these individuals had evolved an
essentially modern human foot function and a style of bipedal
locomotion matching today's people.

Amazing. This evolving monkey's foot prints look just like yours, but he can't be human....because...well we need evidence of human evolution. And people call this science not religion.

Thursday, February 26

Food for taxfilers thoughts

Amazing analysis of the ballooning government spending to the tune of $4 trillion Obama proposes in the WSJ:

This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.

....
A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That's less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable "dime" of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.


Information like this should be enough to make Charlie Rangle and David Obey stop and wonder about trying to cut some of these taxes...Oh wait they they did. Only I wish they would let some of the rest of us do legally what they can get away with illegally.

Time to hold David Obey Accountable.

Kind: Fiscal talk turns into vote!

In a commendable break with his party and a demonstration of the first sign of some sort of fiscal responsibility, Kind voted against the House spending bill that would continue run-away spending.

I don't find myself doing this very often, but kudos to Kind on this vote.

Trying to be Kind to kids

Ron Kind attends the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. One vote against some spending would mean more to me than 700 billion summits, but I am encouraged his summits might turn into votes.

“I am pleased President-elect Obama has recognized the need to begin dealing with our long-term fiscal challenges and I look forward to being a part of this summit.... The Economic Recovery Package just signed into law essentially doubled our trillion-dollar 2009 deficit in one-fell-swoop, and we have a projected $57 trillion in unfunded obligations over the next 75 years.

" I appreciate President-elect Obama’s commitment to this issue and I look forward to working with him and his Administration as we decide how to best ensure that future generations are not stuck with our unpaid bills.”



425 million years and little change

Because maybe macroevolution only exists in propaganda like journal Science??

Scientists have identified the oldest male fossil animal yet discovered. It is an ocean-dwelling creature from 425-million-year-old rocks in the UK.

Unusually, its soft parts are well preserved as well as its hard shell. It has limbs for swimming and feeding.

It also has what scientists say is the oldest penis seen in the fossil record.

Researchers are puzzled as to why the ancient creature appears so similar to its modern relatives. Their research is to be found in the journal Science.

....

The scientists say that the five-millimetre-long fossil is remarkably similar to some modern ostracodes, suggesting an extremely low rate of evolutionary change over the last 425 million years.

"This is a demonstration of unbelievable stability," said Dr Tom Cronin, of the US Geological Survey.



I call this more evidence for a Genesis creation.

Tuesday, February 24

Announcing Accountable Congress!


Introducing the best way to hold your member of Congress Accountable. It is a project I have been working on over the last week. Tired of sending letters and getting the preform reply? Feeling like you are a broken record an talking to a broken record whenever you call? Now you can continue to communicate with a little added action to your words.

At Accountable Congress you can voice your distaste for how your Representative is voting and pledge to support their opponent. Nothing sends a better message of disgust then a well positioned challenger. Accountable Congress allows normal voters to demonstrate how they will support that opponent by pledging funds.

This site is suppose to turn complaining into action. Frustration into accountability.


No new taxes? You Decide.

Copied from Doyles Budget:

Revenue Changes Total   $1,352
[All dollar amounts in millions]

Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products                 $344
1% Increase on Income Earned above $300,000   $312
Other Corporate Income Tax Changes                 $ 257
Combined Reporting                                         $215
Capital Gains Exclusion Changed from 60% to 40% $181
Streamlined Sales Tax                                      $82
Improved Debt Collection Measures                    $19
Internal Revenue Code Updates                         $-46
Business Tax Credits                                        $-12

Monday, February 23

Congress should keep Pay-go

More info from the Hill:

The bottom line is that Democrats have made exceptions to the rule on pay-go over the last couple years, and Blue Dogs want that to stop.

Obama has proposed offsets for his domestic policy initiatives, including raising taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. But offsets are hard to find — especially uncontroversial ones.

If Democrats can’t pass the AMT with offsets in 2009, they will not be able this time to blame the GOP; they have a strong working majority in the upper chamber and they will own future failures as much as future successes.

Democrats will not be able to keep all their campaign promises. In his acceptance speech, Obama noted that he may not be able to do everything in his first term.

Will there be pay-go exceptions in the next Congress? If not, will liberal members accept a more modest policy agenda? Or will Democrats take on huge battles with powerful industry groups in search of offsets?

One way or the other, Democrats will need to have a long discussion about the future of pay-go. Otherwise, it will become a fierce intra-party fight.



The Devil in the Procedural Votes

Next time you talk to your aye stimulus voting member of Congress ask them about these two procedural votes on the stimulus:

1. The 48-hour viewing provision.
Originally voted on Tuesday before the final vote, this unanimous decision required that at least 48 hours be given to the members to consider the 1000 plus page bill before voting on it. Fair enough? Just days after including the provision, the Democrats stripped it.

2. Pay-go rule.
To their credit many Blue Dog Democrats have staunchly endorsed a rule called pay-go that simply says that if you propose new revenue change (tax cut spending etc.) you have to propose a corresponding revenue change (increased taxes, reduced spending). This was stripped from the stimulus too.

See why this was such a good chance to get your special little goodies included?   

More background from the Hill.

Friday, February 20

The Stagflation Expert Endorses Obama Plan

Too bad Hoover and FDR aren't around to endorse it as well.

Former President Jimmy Carter has voiced support for President Barack Obama's plan to stimulate the economy.

Carter says he has "full confidence" in Obama's proposal and expects it will take about six months for the economy to begin improving.



I almost feel for Obama.

Why we are Here

For those who forget the gov't role in the housing mess:

As Mr. Greenspan testified last October at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "It's instructive to go back to the early stages of the subprime market, which has essentially emerged out of CRA." It was not just that CRA and federal housing policy pressured lenders to make risky loans -- but that they gave lenders the excuse and the regulatory cover.

Countrywide Financial Corp. cloaked itself in righteousness and silenced any troubled regulator by being the first mortgage lender to sign a HUD "Declaration of Fair Lending Principles and Practices." Given privileged status by Fannie Mae as a reward for "the most flexible underwriting criteria," it became the world's largest mortgage lender -- until it became the first major casualty of the financial crisis.

The 1992 Housing Bill set quotas or "targets" that Fannie and Freddie were to achieve in meeting the housing needs of low- and moderate-income Americans. In 1995 HUD raised the primary quota for low- and moderate-income housing loans from the 30% set by Congress in 1992 to 40% in 1996 and to 42% in 1997.



Save a Job yada yada

It should turn your head every time you hear about the government saving jobs. For example, today Doyle parroted the D.C. mantra when he said that the $.78 trillion stimulus package would  "will be able to create or save 70,000 jobs."
It is taking audacity to a new level to say that without government doing X we would have had Y. Like the government saying they saved 2,000 lives by the way they have protected our nation since 9/11. Now it might be true that the government can help or hinder job creation just as it should protect us, but to put this sort of number on it is sheer foolishness. Especially foolish when many  even believe it will hurt instead of help.  

Thursday, February 19

Fernandez Wins to Advance to General

It is great to see Fernandez advance. Although with WEAC there to dump money on their crowned mouth-piece she will continue to have to fight to have her message heard.

The final totals were:
Fernandez 31%
Evers        35%

Interesting article in the Journal Sentinel about how she won big in Democratic Milwaukee. Teacher's unions also lost school board elections there too.

It was a bad night for the teachers union.

Not
only did the candidates endorsed by the Milwaukee Teachers' Education
Association in two contested primaries not advance out of the primary,
but voters in the city - historically a Democratic Party bastion -
favored Rose Fernandez over Tony Evers, the union-backed candidate, in
the statewide primary for superintendent of public instruction.

When
the final results were tallied, Felicia Owen, the union-endorsed
candidate in the Milwaukee School Board race on the southwest side,
came in third. Donna Peck came in second, while making concerns about
special education issues the heart of her campaign. In returns
available at deadline for Wednesday's editions of the Journal Sentinel,
Owen was ahead of Peck.















Could the voice of teachers, students and taxpayers be gaining ground over big union money? Maybe. The final vote between Evers and Fernandez could really make a statement.

Wednesday, February 11

Calvin Runs an Obama Business

CapTimes Seeks Religious Litmus of Koshnick

I was genuinely shocked by the tone that this CapTimes story had of Koschnick. It treated memebership in an evangelical church and those associated with it as only defined by their political views and how those whould in some way prejudice an impartial decision on the bench.

He serves as an elder with the evangelical Crosspoint Community Church in Oconomowoc, and as such helps oversee the spiritual ministry of the church, which opposes abortion and gay rights, and disavows notions of evolution.

Koschnick also has been active with the Promise Keepers, a Christian conservative men's group that urges men to take control of their households and uphold biblical notions of patriarchy.

Some insight into the group's social agenda can be gleaned from the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, who once told Promise Keepers at a rally at his Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.: "America's anti-biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement."


And then there is this quote the conveniently found from a former Supreme Court Justice:

But in the case of a Supreme Court candidate, Geske said, "I think when you're affiliated with some organization or some church that takes views on issues that may come before the court, it's legitimate to ask 'Are you going to be able to set aside those views and look at this case and decide it whichever way the law calls for, regardless of whether it's consistent or inconsistent with the church?'"

In case you didn't know, churches are not political organs. Koschnick should be praised for his emphasis on the issues and legitimate concerns facing the race. The CapTimes only tried to bait him into saying something that would imply his pastor and church would be vetoing decision on the bench. This is not helpful to understand the proper and correct role religious belief should have on our public officials lives. Shame on the CapTimes.

Tuesday, February 10

Ex Post Facto

How can a retroactive limitation on senior executives be Constitutional?

Language in the stimulus added by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) could impose retroactive limitations on senior executives who have taken money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The limits would be much more potent than the rules announced by the Obama administration.


According to wikipedia ex post facto prohibitions have been found in administrative law. So this might not be unprecedented, but that doesn't make it helpful or Constitutional.

Support WW by choosing the best calling card deal

Just wanted to thank WW readers for checking out PhoneShark calling cards. I continue to find them to great company from all aspects of my relationship. (And check out the free phonecard in the upper left corner to try it out.)

Monday, February 9

Rep. Kind talks fiscal restraint; DOES nothing.

Purposing to do your work, never accomplished anything--except for politicians like Ron Kind. Kind has long positioned himself as a self-labeled fiscal hawk and deficit reducer. He moans about the cost of protecting the nation overseas, and about how tax cuts will hurt future generations. If you read his list of press releases you would think he was another pork slashing Sen. Coburn. But he has failed completely to question anything in the recent trillion dollar spending spree.

He also wants a new fiscal commission and bipartisan budget summit to address the budget problems. I'm that fiscal commission got big spending lobbyists quaking in their boots. He has proposed nothing specific to cut.

This month the truth is clear. Indeed, the list of Kind's recent press releases is a case study of the fiscal doublespeak that is ballooning our government deficit.

February

02/04/09 House Sends Expansion of Kids’ Healthcare to President Obama For Signature

January

01/30/09 Kind Encourages Flood Victims to Take Advantage of New Tax Benefits

01/28/09 Rep. Kind Statement on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

01/22/09 Kind Stresses Smart Investments, Budget Reform as Ways & Means Considers Economic Recovery Bill

01/21/09 U.S. Rep. Kind Supports Tough Accountability & Transparency for Additional Economic Rescue Funds

01/20/09 Rep. Kind Statement on the Inauguration of Barack Obama

01/16/09 President-Elect Obama to Convene Fiscal Responsibility Summit

01/14/09 Rep. Kind Votes to Cover More Kids

See how it works? As is obvious even from the slanted titles, you will find not one specific program cut or any bridges to nowhere eliminated expect in the broadest of "oversight and accountability" type terms. You will find new favorite programs. They could save some pixels simply alternating between "Spend" "Talk Savings" "Spend" "Talk Savings" for press release titles.

Kind might be trying. But conservatives found out with Bush when he simply tried to cut spending.

Nor is Kind lacking specific waste to cut. Today we found out there is $300 million for green gulf carts. Then there is the $726 million for after school snacks, or $1 billion for climate research. Others have already led to cut millions for Planned Parenthood and $246 million tax break for Hollywood.

Where was Kind?

Never before was Kind asked to vote for so large a spending bill. Never has he failed more to show fiscal restraint by questioning any of this spending junk food.

There still is time before the bill passes, but my bet is Kind will stick to talking when it comes to fiscal restraint.

Tougher drunk driving laws. Two approaches

The renewed attention to the cost of drunk drivers and drunkenness is long over due. And we have to wait for Democrats to be in control to have anything happen? Interestingly, the focus has been on child safety type restraints with a hint of actual punishment for wrong behavior.

Friday, February 6

Media Misinformation

If they don't even know simple Senate workings how are we to trust the media to report anything?

"Although Democrats hold a 58-41 majority, 60 votes are required for the measures to pass because the bill would raise the federal deficit."

For the record, the Dems need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster not because it would raise the federal deficit.

Thursday, February 5

School Gag Rule

So over at folkbum's I get tarred and feathered for wanting to teach school kids there is a controversy over evolution and creation in my post about Van Mobley.

I hope he makes sure that schools have good web filters on all school to gag this post…and any other news articles on the topic.

Wednesday, February 4

$2 Million for the Wrong Skyline

Dan Cody finds waste in the Wisconsin Campaign Finance Website.

"To say $2 million is a ridiculous price for a web site that has less functionality than my weblog is an understatement. After spending a considerable amount of time going over the documents I got from the GAB in response to my open records request, it became clear to me that PCC Technology Group was, to put it mildly, fleecing the people of Wisconsin."

Judge Abrahamson and Planned Barrenhood

Normally an incumbent feels safe if they talk about great public service and avoid contact with more of the partisan groups—especially in a nonpartisan race for Judge. Not Shirley Abrahamson. Even before the end of this year, she had bought part or all of Planned Barrenhood's email list for the state of Wisconsin and used it to email out a fundraising appeal. How do I know? I am signed up for Planned Barrenhood's emails with a unique name and lo and behold that name came with a Abrahamson fundraiser!

Here is a section:

"I know I don't have to tell you how important it is to keep Shirley on the bench.  She works hard for us every day, bringing a voice of integrity, strength, and experience to the Court.  We are so proud to have someone like Shirley who judges cases on the basis of the facts and doesn't bring a personal agenda to the bench.  She's a recognized national leader--being named one of the nation's top 100 judges--and is respected by Republicans, Democrats and Independents, law enforcement, district attorneys, labor and business.  She's our judge, and we have to keep her on the court." [emphasis mine]

Do you really think that Planned Barrenhood would have sold/given their email list if Abrahamson DIDN'T "bring a personal agenda to the bench"? And then some lefty blogger finds it incredible that Judge Koschnick had some phone conversations with a few pro-life groups. Gasp.

State Superintendent: Rose Fernandez

Nonpartisan parent with a desire for more local, parental, and institutional flexibility

You can tell when someone is passionate about what they are running for when a ten minute interview turns into forty. As I have continued to learn, the position of state superintendent has very little delegated authority, but what authority the office has through advocacy and influence Fernandez plans to use.

Fernandez first became interested in the position when she led a group of parents who successfully fought to keep their charter school from the legal harassing of WEAC. DPI was named in WEAC's charges against the school, but instead of defending the parents and children, they turned WEAC lapdog and ended up supporting WEAC. But Fernandez fought back and helped pass bipartisan legislation to keep the charter schools.

It is this advocacy for parents and children in the face of special interest that Fernandez says she wants to continue as State Superintendent. "Money is not always the answer" she warns, but that does not keep Fernandez from offering bold ideas. Fernandez has proposed a turnaround team for the Milwaukee School District that would empower a "team of community leaders to reform curriculum, negotiate with the teachers, and determine whether to divide up the school district" among other things.

These ideas aren't ones that come from inside the educational establishment, but little about Fernandez has an insider feel. Fernandez also wants merit pay for teachers so that the local school districts have more control. Indeed, the local control is a reoccurring theme for many of the solutions that Fernandez envisions. Rather than framing different school options by quotas or five point plans, she talked about local school districts having the ability to add charter schools, vouchers and even online learning alternatives if that is what parents and the local school governments desire. Even hot button issues like sex ed and creation and evolution were examples for Fernandez of where local communities and parents should take the lead in determining what is best for their children rather than those at the top.

"I give all the credit in the world to those who take advantage of [homeschooling]," Fernandez said when talking specifically about homeschooling. It is these sort of options that Fernandez would love to see further utilized and encouraged at the DPI rather than the sabotage she encountered when she looked as a parent for help from this same institution a few years ago.

Correction: Originally the piece said that Fernandez wanted to abolish QEO. She wants to keep QEO but wants merit pay to be given out under the QEO. 

What would you do with $1 Trillion?

Go on your own shopping spree. Complete with jets, castles, oil companies and pop for the world!

Fear, Fear Tactics

Isn't this like fearing fear? Unless conservatives stand up to this fear boldly with an independent plan it will pass.

"President Barack Obama said Wednesday the recession will turn into "a catastrophe" if the economic stimulus is not passed quickly, lobbying for the plan anew as its price tag climbed above $900 billion and drew more criticism."

Tuesday, February 3

The Founders Roll in their Graves

When could the Constitution be Unconstitutional?

"[California] State Attorney General Jerry Brown, the former governor, wants the court to reject the [same sex marriage constitutional amendment], arguing it curtails the right to liberty that is paramount in the state constitution."

DPI Elections: A Bully Pulpit for WEAC or Taxpayers

Five candidates are vying to replace Liz Burmaseter at the DPI. There will be a primary on February 17th to narrow the field down to two followed by a general election on April 7th.

The candidates can be roughly divided into three camps: 1. Liberals spending and pushing for more government encroachment of education. 2. Fiscal hawk that saves the structural status quo (Van Mobley). 3. Red meat conservative (Rose Fernandez).

It is about as hard to find out about this election and the candidates as it is to determine anything of significance that the DPI does. From their sites you can gather something. Most of those I have cataloged as being liberal WEAC mouth pieces say little more than "I'm a good man with respect for all the great things our teachers do." A great recipe to sit back and watch someone else lead I would say.

I had a chance to interview Van Mobley today. An economics professor at Concordia College he would love to get his hands as much as possible on some part of the economic mess coming down the tubes. His first place to start would be the Board of Regents where he would get a seat and have a little say in the golden packages administrators are getting there. He has been frustrated by the lack of response from the educational community in this fiscal crisis. With up to two-thirds of our failed state budget dedicated to education the point is well taken. Indeed, when it comes to economic issues Van Mobley is quick to move the conversation right past simply educational ideas and talks readily about many different economic concerns facing the state almost as if he is running for a legislative position instead of DPI.

On his website the various options to public education are hardly mentioned, and even in direct conversation options to public education play little role in any change Van Mobley would like to see. "I would vigorously defend the charter schools and voucher system in Milwaukee," Van Mobley said. At the same time Mobley saw little reason to see any change in the system. No reason to push for any addition to the vouchers, charter schools or virtual schools. That applies to other options such as homeschooling as well. "There is an old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie," Mobley said when talking about homeschoolers. The system is working and homeschoolers like the way that the state does almost nothing with them and he sees no reason to change that.

It is not as if Van Mobley does not have ideas. On his webpage he writes extensively about his favorite authors and includes a reading list betraying his professor's heart that continues even into his campaign. On the top of his list of books to read is the Bible which he calls the foundation for learning. Yet, this does not put him on the same wavelength as most parents who would like to see their children taught at least the controversy between evolution and creation. Mobley not only believes in punctuated equilibrium in which intelligent design could have played a part but would encourage those under him to espouse a similar view. Interesting but we would be unlikely to see new open thought to ideas that challenge evolution.

I liked Van Mobley on first take. His reading list was great, and his fiscal conservatism right on. I am disappointed however that he see little expansion for other school options and for his muddled view of the origins debate. He is better than the other quack three but it made me want to learn more about Rose before I endorsed Van Mobley. With a little help from a friend that I know, Rose Fernandez has been fixing up her site and has a better tone for other educational options. A bit to rash on first take she might in the end be the better option.

In the end, I'm undecided but leaning toward Rose. Stay tuned for an interview.

Monday, February 2

Final Report from Ecuador

Dear Friends and Family,

I know that many of you were praying for me and interested in my visit to Ecuador. It was truly a wonderful time. Of course when people ask me how I like Ecuador, I often reply that it is difficult for me to dislike the country since it is the country of my birth. However, I assure prejudice or not, that it was no hardship to visit. I went down with Matthew (my youngest brother) and Justo (oldest brother who is already down there) for about three weeks.

During the week I helped out with the English and Bible classes in the grade school classes at the Christian school Bilingue. I helped Justo and others during spiritual emphasis week, to teach the kids songs and bible verses and even served as a volunteer to have eggs cracked over my head as a object lesson on how we have all broken the ten commandments. (Yes, my brother sometimes liked to refer to his volunteers as his victims). In English classes I helped with songs, regular classes, and bible memorization in English.

Just as encouraging were the many special friends I was able to spend some very special times. There was bull lassoing in the mountains, guinea pig roasts, and deep sea fishing on the coast but it was the work that the Lord as doing in so many lives that was even more fulfilling and exciting. I could rejoice with reunited families, new life in Christ, and the joy of serving the Lord together. In even the short time that I was there I could see distinct and lasting change in more than one life. It tempted me to tear up my ticket and stay.

Sometimes I wished my Spanish was better. I could always be understood, but I still had a tendency to make mistakes—which often caused far too frequent moments of hilarity. For example the time when I confused the word for rope and mother-in-law and proceeded to describe how I had tied my mother-in-law around my foot. Poor mother-in-law I know, even more as I don't even know who she will be!

It was plainly evident that the Lord is blessing the church there in Cuenca as they strive so hard to serve Him. What a blessing to see bible studies happening many days of the week, to see lay leadership learning to preach, and a maturing desire to launch their own missionary outreach.

For me it was a first-hand demonstration of the shifting center of gravity of the Christian church and the important part that these young churches have in God's plan for the world. For example, it is easy to say now that Ecuador has a higher percentage of believers than France and probably even England. Can Ecuador catch the vision of missions to the world? Will we catch the vision of missions to the world?

Thanks for your interest in my life and I pray that the Lord continues to bless each one of you above all that you ask or think.

I have some pictures posted on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2003843&l=3beae&id=131500358

Lucas Pillman

Kill Cows Smash Cars Save the Economy

It is almost as if Congress has taken to give us a textbook example of the broken window fallacy (in simple form, it does not help the economy to break and replace things). First they want to pay people up to $4,500 to trash their old cars for a new one. Next they want to pay farmers to kill their dairy cows.

Memo to Washington: We don't get out of the economic mess by destroying everything we already have.