Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Utopian Cabinet

The 2008 elections are over, here is my dream cabinet.

January 2009: Here's the team I want:

President - Arnold Schwarzeneggar (Blogger: David L)--Who better to lead...a guy who battles big state government and unions openly or a guy who fights against waste/corruption in student government.
Vice President - Mitt Romney (Blogger: Brad V)--Both natural leaders who have histories of success (Mitt--Bain Capital, 2002 Winter Olympics; Brad--Beacon/LIB, SJ) and know what is important in life: God, family, freedom, life.
Attorney General - Tucker Carlson (Blogger: Opiate of the Masses)--Will only enforce the important laws and will diminish the state's excessive policing power.
Sec. of State - Mel Martinez (Blogger: Steve S) Excellent communications skills while fighting for American interests abroad. Understand what true freedom across the world should look like.
Sec. of Defense - Pat Buchanan (Blogger: Madison Freedom Fighter-Bob)--Different styles but in the end: Nobody will fuck with us.
Sec. of Interior - Gordon Smith (Blogger: Kellie S)--Making sure both commerce and the environment thrive in our states while holding to federalism principles.
Sec. of Health & Human Services - Tom Coburn (Blogger: Moral Majority)--Moving the National Govermentt away from drug subsidies and excessive regulation. Restoring a respect for life.
Sec. of Education - Michael Barone (Blogger: Jenna)--Getting rid of useless bureaucracy, promoting possible programs that encourage performance pay for teachers, abolishing No Child Left Behind, encouraging school choice and voucher programs.
Sec. of Homeland Security - John McCain (Blogger: Erick B)--Allowing more immigration to occur while keeping the bad guys out.
Sec. of Treasury - Larry Kudlow (Blogger: Jeremy of DP)--Free markets and a pro-growth strategy.
Sec. of Labor - Pat Toomey (Blogger: Fay)--Putting unions in their place while hopefully calling for the abolishment of the department.
Sec. of Commerce - Thomas Sowell (Blogger: Madison Freedom Fighter James)--Will promote free markets, open information, and more outside contracting within the department.
Sec. of HUD - Norm Coleman (Blogger: Anno Domini)--Reducing department drastically. Moving housing subsidizing to more efficient demand-side programs (supply-side, public housing===bad)
Ambassador to France - Nancy Pelosi (Blogger: Badger Blues)--Banished to lament about job security and family farms.
Ambassador to UN - John Edwards (Blogger: Texas Hold'em Blogger)--Let them be annoying and waste their time in a useless organization.

HT: Art Rasputin Red State Diaries

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Immigrants Should Be Seen As Assets

The immigration debate has sputtered on for a number of weeks here in the public and on the blogosphere. Many bloggers have been denouncing illegal immigration as "criminal" and leading to American unemployment. Could the right UW blogosphere be trending upon excessive legalism and anti-capitalist sentiment here? While I want to see the laws in our country enforced (even though I disagree with a number of them) and I want to see labor force participation of the native and immigrant population at high numbers, there are more important underlying issues that need to be discussed further in this debate.

1. Immigrants and world workers should be seen as equal players in the US and global labor markets. Why is someone that was born in Wausau, WI entitled to a job more than a person that was born in Monterrey, Mexico? If a computer programmer is willing to work for $20,000 in Delhi versus $50,000 in San Jose, where should an entrepreneur further his web design business? In America, in some circles there is still this disposition towards entitlement in that we all deserve good jobs. We've seen this through the anxiety and xenophobia connected with the outsourcing of jobs to India and China. We've seen this through anti-Latino sentiment when this segment of people our chosen for jobs in construction and agriculture because they work harder for the same or less pay. In our country of luxury, we must realize that in order to continue to be successful we must increase our productivity, education, and work ethic. We also must be willing to see the vast majority of immigrants as people who simply want to share in our dream of hard work and success, not as outsiders or inferiors.

2. There is a main argument that immigrants come to America to leach off of our government social services and health care. Yes, illegal immigrants have posed a burden on some local governments, especially in the southwest US. The way I look at it though is that this problem is simply a symptom of the problems of our large and expanding government. In reality, no one should be receiving free lunches in the way of health care, welfare, and other entitlements from the state. America has welcomed this problem because it is sucumbing to the socialist tendencies of Europe. Let's put all people on equal ground by making them pay for their food, health care, and services thus we won't have to worry about these individuals being dependent.

3. For possible national security reasons, let's create some type of ID system at border checkpoints, so that we can track previous criminal records of individuals (from their former countries) and have numbers on immigration in to our country. I know that civil libertarians shutter at this type of proposition. The government would have limited information on particular individuals and could only do further background checks with warranted suspicion. In reality, this system would be easy to implement, fairly inexpensive, and hopefully would help the US get rid of possible terrorist or other trouble makers that would be more of liability than an asset. I also believe that far fewer people would try to cross the border illegally and simply would go through the checkpoints.

Looking at basic wage rates in countries like Mexico, Cuba, and other less developed nations, it's extremely logical to why people want to move to the US and why the US simply hasn't moved their immigration quotas to fit demand. When people are making about $1 per hour across the Rio Grande River in the factories in Mexico and they could be making $7-8 flipping burgers in Texas, what will people naturally do. They will move to where the better jobs are. Why we as Americans think we are entitled to certain jobs and entitled to keeping people out of our country who want to work is outside my values and logic? Illegal and legal immigrants continue to help our country flourish economically by performing essential research and occupying the physically hard and grueling jobs. These people should be seen as assets to our economy and country, not criminals or invaders.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chris Dols for ASM Engineering Write-In

Working to rearrange the means of production through the ASM student body?

Information found on Offsides facebook group

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Various Tidbits

Walmart Shrugged

But James Domenico of San Francisco......describing Wal-Mart as a "rapacious and unrelenting competitor that routinely, as company policy, drives smaller competitors out of business."

Sounds like James Taggert instead of James Domenico.

HT: NY Times

Being a Patriot is Pricey
Sick of your blogger domain name and need a address of higher profile, Grant of the Beacon and James (Stanford) are selling their Patriotblog domain name for........$2,500 via Ebay. Sounds a little overpriced to me but I can't say I know a lot about the internet domain market. I wonder how much people would be willing to pay for Timmyscape......any takers???

The Sickening Reality of the Republican Party--from Arlen Specter
One of the few liberal Republicans left in the Senate had something to say about his party colleagues this week:

"The Republican Party is now principally moderate, if not liberal"

This was in response to increase of the debt celing to $9 trillion and the Senate passing a record $2.8 trillion. Sad thing is that Specter's words are true. I hate the reality of our national government and the National Republican Party but what are we suppose to do??

ASM Campaign Folly
The ASM campaign trail is filled with candidates claiming "fiscal responsiblity". This rhetoric is usually claimed by most if not all candidates of all different slates. Whether they are really fiscally responsible though is a legitimate question. Now in 2006, candidates are moving beyond fiscal responsiblity towards making actual claims of returning money to the students. And no, this isn't David Lapidus, Kellie Sanders, or someone that actually could make this claim based on their record....proceed to SAP's candidate Sree Atluru's facebook campaign site and read the following:

3. Being fiscally responsible and making sure to get money back into your pockets.

What?? If SSFC this last year had 17 Sree Atluru's, the students would not be getting any money back this next year and SEG fees would have gone up. She continuously voted with FUSE members (Knox, Edwards) against most if not all cuts, did not propose cuts, and basically sat silent during the last few budgets of the year including UWRCF and CFACT. Unless some dramatic political or fiscal change of philosophy, the only pockets that Sree is fattening are the GSSF groups. Props to Badgerzach, NotQuiteRight, for helping return money to the students for next year.

Shameless Plug for Robin Hood Slate
The one group of students that has a record of standing up to GSSF interests is the Robin Hood Slate and we're against funding excessive student group salaries, trip request, social gathering requests, food requests, etc. The historic model has been to make small pithy cuts or give whatever the student groups want in terms of funding. Our candidates are here to change that. Our candidates understand that ASM Student Government should be used to support practical ventures such as keeping the UW Administration off the backs of students, funding an economical textbook rental plan, etc. Student government's main roles should not include lobbying state and national issues or promoting forms of social justice. You pay $600+ a year in SEG fees and with the election of our candidates, hopefully we can lower these fees and can lead the campus with respect and pragmatism.

Special Advocacy:
1. Vote Craig Nipple in the School of Business. Rath's voting record on Nominations points towards obstructionism and on ASM Council, shows that he's not moderate but rather liberal. Rath should not win in the most conservative school on campus. Nipple assures a solid voice of fiscal responsiblity and small government.
2. Vote Adam Putzer or Amy Reinke in Letters and Science. These 2 candidates especially need our votes where other candidates have enough of backing to surely get on Council (ie Lapidus).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Republicans Must Not Be Hypocritical On Life

One of the easiest ways to degrade your political opponent on either side of the aisle or whatever point on the spectrum is to accuse them of being hypocritical. For instance, easy points to criticize the left are:

1. Pushing for low-income housing while putting growth controls on development.
2. Not supporting international trade agreements and claiming support for third world poverty efforts.
3. Pushing civil libertarian positions on drugs but then at the same time pushing nanny state positions on tobacco and food/obesity.

These are simply examples and its clear that often positions a political party or member takes can be seen as contradictory. One of the positions the left and the public at large can see as hypocritical is the dominant stance of the Republican Party on life, particularly abortion and the death penalty. The Republican party will most likely in the near future not abandon its stance on abortion (to do so would be political suicide) yet it should should move towards a conclusive pro-personhood stance advocating against the death penalty.

Brad V layed out the major reasons for opposition to the death penalty in terms of its ability deter, punish, or remove a threat. Obviously murderers are not a threat to society if they are sentenced and forced to serve life in prison. While prison is fairly tame in our modern society, who would actually want to sit there for life and is not dying (albeit 10-20 years later) a easy opt out? I'd rather fry for 1 second in an electric chair than spend decades more in prison. The fact is there is no evidence that the death penalty actually prevents homicide, especially when you consider that many of the people who commit murder are not mentally stable. While considering the effectiveness of the death penalty in stopping homicide, we also must consider how much it costs to prosecute and put someone to death. According to the death penalty information center, Texas spends an estimated $2.3 million dollars per case. In other states it costs even more per case due to the extensive legal process involved. From a cost-benefit case, this is not financially intelligent especially when looking at other possible uses such as increased law enforcement. While touching on the determent and financial aspects, another issue that I won't go further into is wrong decisions (check out Northwestern's study) and executing innocent citizens.

The ultimate issue though for Republicans is whether they see justice in the death penalty and do they find it moral and ethical to take someone's life even if they have done a horribly bad thing. Many will take "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" position but is the way our society should run and is this a moral or even Christian position. When someone hurts you physically, mentally, possibly even financially in a wrongful manner, the next move should not be to get back at them or get even. It should be to address their sin openly and ask them for repayment in a "sorry" or other justified manner. If legal issues were violated and can't be settled personally, then the answer is to obviously go to court and find retribution. While a murderer may not ever be able to pay the people they hurt back for killing someone in their family or close friends, compassion and forgiveness should be our main response. In the following passage, Jesus's main point was to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharissees. But I believe this passage is important and strikes a precedent of the kind of compassion and forgiveness we ought to show also.

John 8

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

While there are passages in the Bible that show pro death penalty tendencies (Genesis 9:6), the Bible does not offer strict guidelines to the procedure. In fact, the Bible does not offer much guidance to what role the government should play in our society. However, the Bible does advocate justice, compassion, forgiveness, etc. and in my opinion, we should let God handle life and death, not society. People can be transformed through hearing the Gospel and time, prison, and grace often does change people. While protecting society and advocating justice, Republicans must also be consistent in promoting pro-life views and supporting the existence of individuals. The hypocrisy on life within conservative circles must end.

Campus Political Posters Are Hilarious

Recent Thread from the Varney article in the Herald:
Anonymous....ie Timmyscape (March 21, 2006 @ 9:24pm):

Thank you Eric Varney for being the leader the campus really needs. Instead of focusing on useless social justice activities and educational lobbying, ASM is actually making a difference on the real issues affecting the campus. The Robin Hood Slate elected an excellent chair and hopefully will again use their power to elect smart and articulate campus leaders this next year.

Anonymous (March 22, 2006 @ 1:05am):

"ASM is actually making a difference on the real issues affecting the campus."

What has Varney done to make a difference on campus?

Textbooks- oh wait, that's Academic Affairs and volunteers.
Bar Age- oh wait, that's Vice Chair Rath and volunteers.
SAFEcab- oh wait, that's Rath and volunteers again.
Military parades- oh wait, that was Sivret and volunteers.

Facilitated worthless council meetings? That's something I'll give him credit for.

"Instead of focusing on useless social justice activities and educational lobbying"

So what you're saying is, students shouldn't know their rights, there shouldn't be diversity (white-only school?), gays should be treated as second-class citizens, poor kids-those most in need of a hand up-should be kept at community colleges where they belong, and students should just put up and shut up, and not try to shape the world they're about to go off into? I guess if we don't like it, we can just move off to France, I hear their students are happy about the new job laws.

All Robin Hood seeks to do is elect more mindless flag-waving McCarthyists and try to cut every program that is valuable to students until only a private university is left. Oh wait, they still want to fund CFACT.

I think there are legitimate criticisms of Varney's chairship but I think he has done a decent job objectively leading Council Meetings, focusing on the few issues that ASM should be taking on, and giving good media bytes. You have to love the crap coming right out of the ass of this anon poster. "Still want to fund CFACT".....um.....CFACT's budget: Lapidus "No", Schulz "No", Harbin "No". "Textbook===Academic Affairs"....wait a second, Varney came up with the financial cash flow statements that will probably actual propel this program forward. Do you think any of the other Academic Affairs staff would have had the knowledge to do this...no way! Have fun reading the rest of the pitiful post.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Every once in a while I spot a bumper sticker that really catches my attention and make me realize how many misguided people there are in our society. Driving back to our condominium in Frisco (CO) after sking in Breckenridge, I was stuck behind a Suburban that had an extremely intelligent sticker reading "CAFTA, NAFTA, SHAFTA". While the goal of freer trade has been promoted by the majority of economists, politicians (Democrats, Republicans) and educated elite, it seems as though public opinion and political actions are moving in the direction of protectionism and antiglobalization. Last summer even with Republican majorities in both Congressional houses, it took a huge push by Bush and Republican leaders to get a very small trade deal passed in CAFTA. This year Schumer and Graham proposed a bill placing tariffs on Chinese imports of 27%. While the antitraders throw out rhetoric about currency valuation, labor standards, environmental standards, etc. , what they really worry about is a neoliberal world in which some American workers and industries might lose their artificial comparative advantage. For instance, one of the main special interests that showed their political strength last summer when CAFTA was up for vote was the Sugar Industry who did not want to lose their artificial advantage (through historic tariffs). They lobbied many house of representatives in southern states into voting against the bill. Sugar tariffs cost the average American family an average of $20 a year and all to benefit an industry of about 38,000 workers ("International Economics" by Krugman). When I wrote my representative Ron Kind in voting in favor of CAFTA, I got a lame response that the deal did not include labor or environmental standards. Does he expect poorer countries such as Honduras or Panama to put in place high air and water quality laws and minimum wage laws when people of these countries simply need jobs in order put food on the table and a roof on their heads? While I clearly wish that developing states were able to put stricter environmental laws in place and had higher average wages, giving them a level playing field especially in terms of the world's largest export market is so much more important to their quality of life and future development. There's also certainly a sense of fear in middle America and the public majority in terms of outsourcing of jobs and Mexican inmigration. It seems that instead of taking the proper actions such as upgrading their job skills, seeking more education, and welcoming hardworking Latinos who keep our economy running, they fear global competition and a larger supply of unskilled workers. This probably should scare the high school drop-outs who fumbled the ball in terms of their education but it should not scare the majority of the American public who have already have a huge advantage in terms of education, language, and skills. The fact is though that overall, these inmigrants are getting paid $8 instead of $1 an hour, have an apartment roof over their head instead of a shack, and are starting to experience the American dream. From a utlitarian perspective, a free global economy with open borders and open trade is clearly the right choice. From an objectivist perspective, for the government to choose favorite industries and constrict people's geographical choices is wrong. Moving the US and the world towards neoliberalism is the fair and ethical choice, contrary to what the America public and paleocons say.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Qualitative Left

Sorry about my lack of posting the last couple of weeks. I’ve had lots of things on my mind, lack of motivation at night, David Lapidus County Board work, an inability to finish posts, and other poor excuses. I’m going to try to be a little bit less rhetorical in the future because I’m much more interested and focused on the real issues and real status of our society today politically, socially, religiously, etc. than loosely throwing out partisan talking points or irrational criticisms. Thus, I’m sorry if I have offended others in previous posts. The following piece has been in the works for quite a long time but I’ve finally finished it. While numerous writers have looked at extreme liberal thinking and have tried to paraphrase their encounters generally, they have not come up with an accurate label for these far-left individuals. Labels tossed around include “socialists”, “moonbats”, “limousine liberals” and “Hollywood left” but none of these terms really accurately describe the thought process of the far left. You can call the liberal elite of this country anything you really want to but I’m going to coin this demographic “The Qualitative Left”.

Who these people are?

One of the quickest things I picked up on campus, both within the classroom and outside discussion is that the left loves to make claims about conservatives and big business and will offer talking points consisting of ignoring the poor, destroying the environment, caring only about money, and the list goes on. These same people will speak harshly about Republicans who aren’t in favor of increasing the minimum wage, want a more equal tax policy, don’t want more social welfare programs, want to drill in the Artic. But are these people usually able to discuss issues objectively and understand why raising the minimum wage might be detrimental to the business climate, why a tax policy may be hurting investment opportunities, why social welfare programs in the past have not proven to always get people out of poverty, and why drilling in the Arctic may be wise to keep oil prices down? No, and very often you will be talking to people of the “qualitative left”, a mass of demographic that pulls disproportionably from woman, minorities, liberal arts professors, social service professionals, teachers, artists/creatives, and nonprofit activist types.

There are many factors that are central to forming people’s political beliefs and typical answers will include parents’ political beliefs, religious beliefs, geographical upbringing, and education. I think one of the key components is your college concentration which not only helps form your worldview but also is an indication to what type of thinker you are. All people think both quantitatively and qualitatively but the Qualitative Left tends to be draw from liberal arts majors based on humanities and less math intensive social sciences. The data from Facebook reflects that students in more qualitative majors will be more liberal and the more quantitative and career-oriented majors are more conservative (or less liberal). These liberal arts majors are where the Qualitative Left draws their strength from and these students will be the teachers, artists, professors, nonprofit activists, social workers, etc. of the future.

Quantitative Majors:

Real Estate= Lib (31) VLib (3) = 34; Con (41) VCon (1) = 42

Finance= Lib (60) VLib (6) = 66; Con (85) VCon (10) = 95

Math= Lib (106) VLib (38) = 144; Con (35) VCon (2) = 37

Accounting= Lib (76) VLib (9) = 87; Con (76) VCon (6) = 82

Mechanical Engineering= Lib (125) VLib (22) = 147; Con (137) VCon (9) = 146

Physics= Lib (64) VLib (18) = 82; Con (15) VCon (2) = 17

Civil Engineering= Lib (31) VLib (6) = 37; Con (17) VCon (4) = 21

Economics= Lib (211) VLib (33) = 244; Con (137) VCon (12) = 149

Qualitative Majors

English= Lib (387) VLib (32) = 419; Con (62) VCon (3) = 65

Political Science=Lib/VLib= NA (Exhausted Search Engines, estimation over 1,000 each category); Con (229) VCon (24) = 253

Art= Lib (149) VLib (58) = 207; Con (17) VCon (0) = 17

Social Work= Lib (90) VLib (24) = 114; Con (5) VCon (0) = 5

Journalism= Lib (397) VLib (71) = 468; Con (74) VCon (5) = 79

Education= Lib (114) VLib (20) = 134; Con (24) VCon (1) = 25

History= Lib (399) VLib (122) = 521; Con (116) VCon (11) = 127

Sociology= Lib (247) VLib (96) = 343; Con (42) VCon (6) = 48

Nursing= Lib (169) VLib (22)= 191; Con (78) VCon (3) = 81

Marketing= Lib (90) VLib (7) = 97; Con (35) VCon (0) = 35

Management/Human Resources= Lib (20) VLib (1) = 21; Con (12) VLib (0) = 12

The data comes from Facebook and rests on a number of assumptions. First, the sample is representative of the real political proportions of the major. I think Facebook is a fair assessment since a large percentage of the student body is on the site. Second, the sample of UW students can reflect the trends of other schools in the US and thus our society in general. Obviously, you look at every UW class 30 years later there will be fewer liberals and more conservatives but the general trends will most likely still exist for most majors. Third, the “quantitative majors” are filled with “quantitative thinkers" and vice versa. There are obviously many exceptions to all students in all these majors but I think this generalization is fair. Fourth, the data leaves out moderate, libertarian, apathetic and other political data. It would have taken more time to get the data and I think looking strictly at the right versus the left should provide an accurate assessment of generally where the Qualitative Left study and are trained.

Problems with Qualitative Thinking

There are many problems with qualitative thinking in terms of public policy. First, in terms of looking at policy decisions from a cost-benefit analysis and exploring the trade-offs of particular legislation, qualitative thinking leads a person to believe that particular legislation is either good or bad. To the qualitative left, they see a tax policy such as the ending the estate tax as “unfair” or “a give-away to the rich” because it would effectively give wealthier people (who have large estates) the right to not be taxed again on their financial assets. These same individuals would fail to understand the argument that these individuals have already paid taxes on this sum of money or that private-sector investment and private giving might substantially increase. Quantitative people can obviously disagree and can make sound arguments pro estate-tax or anti estate-tax but the problem is the qualitative left often cannot even debate or begin to understand the issues.

Second, when discussing the merits of a particular policy in quantitative terms, the qualitative left will change switch the discussion framing the issue emotionally in qualitative terms. I experienced this ploy often during SSFC meetings and one particular instance stands out. When we were discussing the merits of SAFEwalk in terms of financial dollars per walk, hours on duty, and whether SAFEcab could be a more cost effective alternative, members of FUSE kept bringing up woman’s safety using the language of “a rape should be prevented at any cost”. Maybe the city of Madison should create a police state with thousands patrolling the dorms, apartments, and streets to ensure that no woman ever gets harassed or sexually assaulted….sounds awful cost-effective and wise in a society of limited resources. Safety isn’t even one of the main issues where qualitative thinking is normally applied. Topics where qualitative thinking is more often applied are the environment, housing, welfare, taxes and military.

Third, the qualitative left in general puts much more weight in evaluating public policy decisions on a social level and factoring in other qualitative variables. Social variables are very hard if not impossible to measure, even more difficult than environmental variables. Thus, the idea of triple-line accounting (economic, environment, social) is so hard to implement in a cost-benefit analysis. But even within triple-line accounting, the environmental and social costs need to be quantified and often the left will refuse to do it. They will refuse to try to quantify these variables because they’d rather that the social and environmental costs/benefits be put ahead of fiscal issues or they don’t have the ability themselves to even estimate these variables. If we have absolutely no ability to estimate the social or environmental costs/benefits, I believe that they should not be included in any analysis. Here’s a quick example of the left putting excessive emphasis on social and community well-being. When hearing about a plant of a large company closing in their city or country, they think solely about the people who are going to be losing their jobs and not about the efficiency of the economy, the possible gain to shareholders, or effect of people in another geographical vicinity gaining jobs. Typical blame will be placed on greedy management rather than restrictive union rules, low productivity, or a change in the economy. Sympathy will go out to the workers who lost their job and people will lament the loss of social ties and future of the community. The losers will be emphasized and any gain to particular stakeholders will not be mentioned. The discussion of the alternative (ie socialism) will not be discussed but surely aspects of capitalism will be criticized. Why? One possible reason: comparative advantage probably isn’t even in the vocabulary of the qualitative left.

The idea of the difficulty in engaging liberals in political discussion has been well documented by conservative writers including John Leo, Ann Coulter, Dennis Prager, Jonah Goldberg among others. This is because of a number of reasons but it most definitely stems from the qualitative thinking of many in the far left. Go to the central hubs of the far-left blogosphere like The Huffington Post or Daily Kos and this pattern of thought will be reiterated. Why actually discuss the trade-offs and central aspects of legislation when you can throw inflammatory comments and make unsound but rhetorically witty comments? It’s because the left’s ideas often do not make sense quantitatively and hold little objectivity. Being outnumbered in a qualitiative left bastion of thought, educated conservatives and libertarians can continue to win debates because of the ability to think logically, numerically, objectively. Hopefully, the Republican Party can fully return to being an objective party with an emphasis on fiscal restraint, social restraint, and clear quantitative thought. The Democratic Party in its current state with its far-left electorate and supports will never advocate rationale and objective policy.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Evidently the Supreme Court Changes America's Values

Spoken from the popular Illinois Democratic Senator:

We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake.

Since when did the Supreme Court change people's values and dictate what the American public see as right and wrong. Obviously, the Supreme Court and the Judiciary is behind discriminating against black people, disposing of fetuses, selling assault weapons, taking people's homes, sodomizing others, and denying certain people civil rights. What's really behind the shit that goes on in our country is not the courts but rather people, sinful people. Laws don't dictate values, morality does....but this is why liberals often determine their sense of right and wrong based on what's legal rather than by what is moral.

**Additions 1/30/06
First, to see another's intellectual support for the last fairly controversial statement please read the Prager's article.
Second, I did not mean to make such a bold statement without additional proof and I thought Prager's article was enough. I'll explain further... I did not mean to label "liberals" or "democrats" as immoral people at all but rather that coastal far left (probably 20-30%) in this country tends to derive their sense of right/wrong from themselves (personal experience/feelings), the law, and science rather than a religious or philisophical text. I know that there are a number of Democrats and left leaning individuals who believe in God or are principled/moral people. In fact, there's a strong contingent of the evangelical left at my church (Blackhawk E-Free) and I respect their political ideals (though on a number of fronts I won't agree with them mostly due to my economic/philisophical beliefs). But let's face the facts, there's a huge divide morally in this country which is mostly set along geographical/political lines. Here's a hypothetical study, many of the sort which have been done before revolving around morality. You ask a sample size of 100 people questions revolving around moral relativism, moral absolutism, God, etc. and go to the bluest of places (Portland, Berkely, Madison, West Manhattan, DC, Boston, Miami) and then to the reddest of places (Atlanta, Dallas, Salt Lake City, suburban Milwaukee, Tulsa) and see how their answers vary. You will find that on average that not only do people's views on politics and religion change but their morality is often based on entirely different things. The blue places will have a much more relativist stance with their beliefs not derived from God but rather from personal experience and society. The red places will have a much more absolutist stance with their beliefs more likely to stem from Biblical principles.
So indeed, you can be very liberal, Christian, and believe that the government should be a strong economic distributive force and be very permissive in terms of marriage, drugs, abortion, speech, etc. This is okay from my perspective if one can rationalize their political beliefs strongly and many people can. But obviously if they are a strong Christian (ie take the bible's teachings seriously) and if they are very politically liberal, then they are justifying the government not taking action on the basis of morality which brings me to my last and final point: Most people in the United States want the government to legislate their morality--both on the left and right. Generally, the left wants the government to impose state health care which they see as a public good and personal right. They like freedom in terms of drug use because they do not see drugs as immoral. They don't want religious thought in public schools or the public square because they'd rather see our society be extremely secular than faith based. On the other side, the right wants to see drug use curtailed because they see it as a sinful act. They don't want gays to be able to marry or even have civil union rights because they see gay relationships as immoral. They want abortion to be banned because they see a human being at conception. My point here is that people want to legislate their morality on others but even when the Supreme Court makes a decision, does it really change people's values on a subject? Not really because often the laws and statutes don't reflect the whole range of perspectives. I believe that the majority of this country derives their morality from something much deeper in the way of religion, philosophies, and social norms rather than the Supreme Court. So when Obama made this false statement, I wanted to share my opinion. I did not mean to label certain groups but the generalizations are clear and I feel I've backed them up fully now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thank You Grandma: A Little History Lesson

Forwarded a great email by my grandma. It rings with truth.

Beer, The Wheel And General History

Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers.
They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the
coast and live on fish and lobster in winter.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of
beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man
to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and
together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two
distinct subgroups: Liberals and Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain and that was the beginning of
agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented
yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for
them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how
villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to BBQ at night
while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known
as the "Conservative movement."

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live
off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly BBQs and doing the
sewing, fetching and hair dressing. This was the beginning of "the
Liberal movement". Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into
women. The rest became known as 'girliemen.'

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats,
the invention of group therapy and group hugs, and the concept of
Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that
conservatives provided.

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most
powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by
the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer
white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their
beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have
higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal

injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in
Hollywood and group
therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule
because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide
for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys,
lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police
officers, corporate executives, Marines, athletes and generally anyone
who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other
conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers
and decide what to do with their production. Liberals believe Europeans
are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals
remained in
Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept
in after the Wild West was tame and created a business of trying to get
MORE for nothing.

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to respond
to the above, before simply giggling and forwarding it. A Conservative
will be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will
be forwarded immediately to other "true believers."

Friday, January 20, 2006

BadgerZach Wrong on Lenten Booklets and Religion

In the CapitalTimes yesterday, UWRCF made the frontcover with their lawsuit against SSFC. The issue of student government funding religious organizations is clearly a touchy issue as "the separation of church and state" loomed largely in the back of my mind when first hearing the UWRCF's eligibility. The fact is though from the 2000 Southworth Supreme Court Case, no group may be turned down for funding whether religous or not and the viewpoint of the group should not be taken into consideration. Members of SSFC love to make a big deal about not funding church services but seem to like funding other religous ceremonies like pow-wows. This fact is neither here or nor there however. Following the precedent of Southworth, SSFC can fund religious activities and indeed we funded UWRCF's youth group service (Alpha-Omega similar to Campus Crusade's Primetime), bible studies, and other clearly religious events. The committee did make a few mistakes, particularly on the Lenten Booklets and rent. I don't think the committee was consistent on rent but it is a complex issue....let's go to Lenten booklets. Here's what BadgerZach had to say in the Capital Times:

It's a slippery slope for the Student Judiciary to rule that we have to pay for Lenten booklets that are handed out at a religious ceremony.

I agree that it is a slippery slope for the SJ to rule that the commitee have to pay for Lenten booklets. But the fact is that we funded every other speech literature that was put out. I voted "yes" to the cut because I was under the impression that it was simply a handout that the Catholic church put out in their building, written by outside Catholics. I did not know that the devotions of the Lenten booklets were written by students and passed out around campus (Moral Majority referred to my comments to Tim Kruse in this op-ed). These two facts makes it similar to other types of speech literature like "The Voice" by JCC or Mecha's newsletter. Committee members should not discriminate on the type of literature that is being passed out. Inconsistent are we BadgerZach....

They're pulling the religious card, and I don't think that's necessarily right.

Yes, UWRCF is pulling the religious card and very good reasons. Who grilled them continuously about prosletyzing, religous worship, etc. in both the eligibilty process and budgets??? The whole committee but to point out 2 members who were excessively critical....BadgerZach and Sree Atluru. UWRCF took an excessive amount of questioning and cuts because many members of the committee are anti-religion and the traditional spenders were unwilling to stand up for them. The fact is that a lot of the line items wouldn't have been cut or would have been up for much more discussion had it not been UWRCF.

I hope that ASM Student Council can correct SSFC's ill-advised decisions and restore the funding that's consistent. I am pessimistic however because the committee made a series of great cuts that may be harder to get through Council and UWRCF's budget may end up being too large for my tastes. We'll have to see....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Corruption of CFACT and Peter McCabe

On a liberal campus, there are few conservative groups to counteract leftist propaganda and thought. Nearly 6 years ago, CFACT (Collegiates for a Constructive Tomorrow) first put its footprint on the University of Wisconsin Campus. With its main objective to promote nuclear power and free-market environmentalism, a clearly right of center organization now had an opportunity to influence the campus on junk science and excessive environmental regulation. Where I stand environmentally is definitely a mixed-bag but I do stand with CFACT in being an advocate of nuclear power, consumers making environmental decisions, and other particular points. So why would I vote to minimally fund an organization that I somewhat agree with and speak critically of their organization? A number of reasons but it starts with their lack of activity and the corruption of their leaders and in particular, Peter McCabe. The corruption of this organization must be brought to light and with this post hopefully the blinds will open slightly.

Exhibit A: Peter McCabe and also Lindsey Ourada

A wealthy coasty from the Northeast, Peter McCabe is welcome as are all out of state students as they clearly add to the geographical diversity of the campus but also the diversity of experiences and dialogue. What isn’t welcome is the manipulative and selfish persona that many people also in the College Republicans and across campus have come to know. While Peter McCabe may fight for personal property rights on the environmental front, from personal experience I have seen that he does not value physical goods that belong to other people. Last summer at a party, he thought it was okay to take a grill that an owner had on his deck and keep it for his personal gain. Peter McCabe has a history of not only stealing goods from individuals, he seems to also like to steal from UW's students. He wants not only a $35,000 position for himself in the following year but how about also 4 positions for buddies and a trip to Mexico, all paid for by students. His character can also be evaluated on the front that he does everything in his power to dramatize events and take down people that stand up for what is right. The way he has unfairly attacked Kellie Sanders (who has been found not guilty) and is trying to impeach the entire SSFC committee (minus Goessl and Frey) also shows the lack of values integrity and virtue. The fact that him and Lindsey Ourada, both former SSFC members, gave us clearly a sub par budget filled with excessively high numbers, vague descriptions, and ridiculous requests and then proceed to not explain their budget, ridicule the committee, and then sue a number of members shows that both of CFACT’s core campus leaders are dishonest and greedy.

Exhibit B: History

The history of CFACT on UW’s campus is not one of major difference or activity. For instance, the few speakers that CFACT have only attracted at most 50 to 80 people, far lower than their projections of 1,300 for their major speaker series. The main essence of their group rests on their internship program but my question is how much do the interns really do? Former interns have said that they only did about 2 hours of work for an entire semester and got 3 credits for it. Is this an honest internship program and do these interns really deserve credit for the little work they put in? This is clearly working the system for personal gain on both CFACT and students. Obviously a certain fraternity got word of this great deal and signed on in droves (how else do you that their internship program expanded dramatically to around 60 or so students). I don’t know all the facts but further research and investigation needs to be done to see what CFACT’s intern program is really all about. Most likely the program is only about free credits. When CFACT came in asking for money for internship events, the only previous event that Lindsey Ourada could verify is a dunk tank, a dunk tank that they used to dunk hippies in. Sounds pretty hilarious until one realizes this is what CFACT is asking $10,000 for. So from the facts that CFACT has given the SSFC Committee and from other insider sources, CFACT has had very little if almost no impact on campus for the last 5 years.

Exhibit C: CFACT’s 2006-2007 Budget

CFACT came in within a dishonest budget and here are some of the highlights:

--$7,500 for a trip for 7 to Mexico

--$100,000 for 4 speaker honorarium (Yes, they expect to get 1,300 people at each event)

--$10,000 for dunk tanks

--$160,000 for 5 professional staff positions (Yes, I guess college student organizations need to have professional staff…. and not only do they need a professional staff person, they need 5.)

Let’s also add little/no job descriptions, lack of hiring policy, identical speaker descriptions, a blank request form, no description of the Mexico trip, no end of the year report, etc. This was not a budget worthy of anything but the minimum. Also, let’s add to the fact that CFACT is a contract group, giving McCabe and the leadership almost complete control of the money. No way! Try again next year CFACT when you can actually give the committee a detailed plan and strong justification for use of SEG fees.

If I were a national CFACT executive, I would make sure that I put in place honest and hardworking leadership for each chapter. Has the CFACT leadership placed strong student individuals in place, obviously not. If CFACT wants to compete with WISPIRG in the marketplace of ideas, they better earn their keep through strong programs. Their current and historic state says otherwise.

**Update 1/27/06** Additional/New Information on CFACT
--After meeting w/ numerous CFACT leaders I want to alter some of the statements I made in the above post.
1. Indirectly attacking Peter McCabe's geographical history and sociological background was unfair and fairly unobjective of me.
2. The lack of hiring policy is due to CFACT's contract group status (ie they are not required to have one).
3. The end of the year report for CFACT was lost by SSFC leadership and CFACT did provide one.
4. Pete McCabe and Lindsay Ourada do not desire positions with CFACT next year, with McCabe planning to enter armed service duty and Ourada teaching. The professional staff requests thus are not directly self serving.
5. CFACT has put in more safeguards and requirements in their internship program (specifically attendance rules). I still am not convinced that the CFACT internship program is very educational, hands-on, or demanding.
6. Their projection of 1300 for their internship events was based on a CFACT-sponsored speech that John Stoessl gave at UNC. This projection was not explained at all though in CFACT's hearing and still in my mind is not a fair or scientific number.
7. I respect CFACT's staff for challenging the campus with new ideas and their responsiveness to a number of my questions. I still however have issues with their budget, motives, and honesty during the SSFC process.
8. I believe I was too critical of Pete McCabe's character and I owe him an apology. I still do not agree with a number of things he has done but I might have been slightly judgemental/untactful in my analysis.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Budget Philosophy

Previous posts have indicated my displeasure surrounding SSFC and in general their lack of fiscal philosophy and consistency. I’ve dedicated a lot of time thinking about what exactly I stand for and what others seem to stand for on the committee. The way I view SEG fees and the way others view SEG fees collided on numerous occasions last fall. This trend of philosophical and political clash will probably continue. For both my sanity and others that are involved or have been involved in this controversial process, I need to lay out where I stand in terms what should most likely be funded and what most likely should not be funded.

1. Social Events should not be funded.

If you’re just a common joe on UW’s campus your social life consists probably of a couple things. One, going out on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night (or a combination of the prior nights) to a house party, frat party, or bar and allocating a number of your hard earned or parent earned dollars for both refreshments and cover charges. Second, you may go see a movie, concert or Badger sports game that also hits your wallet. Third, you may be part of a student organization and after the game or the meeting you guys get some food/drinks paid by either your yearly dues or your pocketbook.

Now get this, MCSC wants to throw a ball with food and dance paid for. Oh yeah, and also Campus Woman’s Center wants to throw a “Woman’s Concert” down outside the Union. What if you’d rather join another student organization such as the Real Estate Club and go to their due-paid socials or what if you’d rather go see a Phish concert instead of the “Woman’s Concert”. There are no educational components to these and other events that student organizations demand funding for. How about allowing students to choose what they do in their social time rather than having them inadvertently paying for special events? Allowing SEG fees to go to events of strictly a social nature is inexcusable and says a lot about what ASM’s and UW’s priorities are. But see how the SJ ruled on Monkeyhoes and that is the current state of the system.

2. No handout that is not primarily educational should be funded.

Non-educational Handouts are a much smaller expense than social events or salaries for most student organizations but they are all the more an unreasonable expense. Take condoms for example. A number of student organizations budget for this line item (LBGTCC, SOL, CWC) when there are clearly condoms available a block away at Walgreen’s. Another example of a noneducational handout are pens. Both ASM and CWC asked for these in order to advertise but what really do these do to advertise. Are people really going to be interested in your organization by seeing your name on pens? The main function of a pen is to write and clearly there are a number of stores selling pens on/near campus. If anybody really needs condoms or pens, they will go purchase them at a store. If SSFC members don’t feel like the market is adequate in terms of providing these items, they need to take an economics course, get their hands out of students’ pockets, and get a brain. Handouts that are educational should be deemed adequate because literature is often as effective as a program in presenting a message or information. No matter what the message is and whether religious or not, it deserves equality in funding.

3. Student salaries should be only for a selected few that go above a certain amount of hours (10-12 hours) of volunteering. This measure goes mainly for activist organizations.

I’ve talked about this subject with a number of other SSFC members and 4 of us do understand that activism work should be primarily of a volunteering nature. Whether you’re working at a church in children’s ministry, get petition signatures to save the rainforest in Brazil, running a meeting of a student organization, or putting on a program to support “your” cause, aren’t you doing more of an act of service rather than an act of compensation. Sure full-time church workers, environmental activists, and non-profit personnel do get paid (often much lower salaries than the private sector) but should students working 10-20 hours get paid for activism. Surely not. I can understand compensating a couple leaders who are supervising a large staff and have to put in extra hours. But again, we are talking about registered student organizations…. This year many people on the committee think it is fine to have large staffs for activist organizations (and I use activist in a neutral stance). There are many organizations and SSFC members who see paying student employees as vital to the programs of these organizations. But again if you do not have student volunteers putting on a specific program, should it really be put on at all. Because in reality, if students demand a educational or recreational service won’t the college or the private sector put it on? Again I’m not calling for the abolishment of student salaries or stipends as a whole but the labor budgets of many organizations are preposterous and unnecessary. If the organization is vital to the direct educational (GUTS) or transportation (SAFE) needs of the students, then it should be funded. Exempting a few organizations from harsh cuts, activist salary funding needs to be reformed dramatically.

4. No funding to programs or line items that do not fit the main mission of a particular group.

This was one of my main pet-peeves on the committee when SSFC failed to reject funding requests that did not fit the mission or main objective a group. MCSC is probably the biggest offender of any group. They asked to put on programs/trips that were strictly labor, tuition, and share-governance related and SSFC I believe did not vote to cut any of these programs. Therefore, a group that centers on diversity/multiculturalism is granted money to spend on items that aren’t central to what their group is about. So…essentially it doesn’t matter what type of group you are. You can put on a program about anything and get funding for it. I fought against funding these types of items all year. Sadly, few others really agreed or understood my rationalization.

5. Trying to limit Food/Drink to a bare minimum unless it is essential to the educational or cultural aspects of the event.

One area the committee was tough on all year was food/drink and I have to commend most of the moderates for signing on to these line item cuts. We still funded to food/drink to a small degree (especially if its part of the educational/cultural part of the program) which I guess philosophically I have a problem with. I do agree though with the statements Saar and Kiernoziak made about food and what its purpose really should be.

These are obviously starting points and there are obviously all sorts of different cuts that need to be made to different line items. I try to stick to these criteria but I am not ideological to the core on these rules. It will take a lot of convincing however for me to abandon these principles in any particular situation. Any other ASM or SSFC current or former member, please add other principles that should be added. Thanks.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Gifts

In recent years, I have not been a happy recipient when opening gifts because the economics of gift giving saddens me. My main opposition is that there is no so-called “efficient gift” in the any exchange. Never will there be a gain in utility from a gift exchange. There can only be “0” or no gain in utility and this exchange is often in the form of money. With money, the recipient can use the gift in the most efficient manner to serve their needs. Whereas with gift certificates, the recipient is constrained to a particular store/set of stores and does not allow the recipient to serve their core interests. Other possibilities where utility may not be lost are when an individual finds an extreme deal and due to imperfect information an individual may not have made a transaction. Another possibility is when a long-distance relative or friend sends or brings a regional item or a gift not available in your area. An example is a friend brings you a Dave Matthew’s Band t-shirt (that they got at a concert) or my grandma bringing Seroogee chocolates from eastern Wisconsin. These gifts are efficient in the sense that the recipient may not have access or strong access to a particular gift.

Given that gifts in most cases bring a loss in utility for individuals across the US, I have a tough time sitting around the Christmas tree opening presents. So instead of thinking about the loss in utility in the micro-level (my family) and the macro-level (the United States and other nations that celebrate Christmas), I try to focus on God and his gift in his own son, Jesus. Ignoring economics, there are a number of things that makes God’s greatest gift to us so awesome. This gift and any gift have 5 main characteristics (props to Dad for the outline):

An Expression of Love

Romans 5:15 (NIV) ….how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

To a sinful world, God did not have to send his son. Yet, God did send his son to defeat sin and give everyone the freewill to accept the love of his son.

Meets a Need

Romans 5:16 (NIV) Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

God met the need through his son because of man’s “many trespasses” or sins commit throughout his/her lifetime. The fact is that an individual cannot earn salvation or a relationship to God by our own willpower, goodness or righteousness. We need God and the gift of his son Jesus met this need.

Lasting Value

Romans 5:21 (NIV) …so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The implications of accepting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ not only are of extreme importance in this world but the life to come in heaven. While gifts received this Christmas will only be last a limited time on this earth, the gift of Jesus is forever for those who believe (according to Revelations and the rest of the New Testament).

Costly Sacrifice

Romans 5:7-8 (NIV)

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus’ bore the ultimate price of a painful death and execution on the Christ. Obviously, other people on this earth have led painful deaths too. But, Jesus’ was truly not guilty and was never guilty of a sin in his lifetime even though a mortal human being. He also had the ability to avoid his death but clearly he knew that this was his ultimate mission, to be a human sacrifice for humanity.


Romans 5:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..

The relief and euphoria one feels when accepting Jesus into your life is not only life-shattering and mind-blowing but also a surprise. When an individual begins to trust in the God of Abraham and biblical values rather than on themselves and religious/secular values, he/she will be surprised on how their outlook and perspective on life changes.

*I hope that you can celebrate the gift of Jesus and all other minor gifts this Christmas and Holiday Season. The analysis is short (a much longer dialogue could have be added) and if anyone has any questions please comment.

**I am not criticizing gift giving as a whole and I still like to give/receive gifts. I think that there definitely is something besides the pure transaction of giving/receiving gifts. From a purely economic standpoint, it does bother me to a point.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Patriot Games: Libertarian Republicans Rising Up

The Patriot Act is currently blocked in the Senate with our friend from Janesville leading the charge. The real strength in the opposition is not from the Democrats on board but rather the Republicans who took a stand in the name of curtailing government intrusion and protecting civil liberties. These individuals are the minority libertarian Republicans in the Senate and include Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Sununu (NH), Larry Craig (ID). Some recent quotes:

"In my state, I think there's pretty strong support for protecting civil liberties during times of war and peace." --John Sununu

"Folks, when we're dealing with civil liberties, you don't compromise them," --Larry Craig

“With a few modest but critical improvements, like making sure that when the government seeks library records it has to show that those records have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy, we can give the government the powers it needs while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.” --Russ Feingold

Looking at the bill, here are some controversial parts:

Information Sharing

Sec. 203(b) and (d): Allows information from criminal probes to be shared with intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

Roving Wiretaps

Sec. 206: Allows one wiretap authorization to cover multiple devices, eliminating the need for separate court authorizations for a suspect's cell phone, PC and Blackberry, for example.

Access to Records

Sec. 215: Allows easier access to business records in foreign intelligence investigations.

Foreign Intelligence Wiretaps and Searches

Sec. 218: Lowers the bar for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches.

“Sneak & Peek” Warrants

Sec. 213: Allows "Sneak and peek" search warrants, which let authorities search a home or business without immediately notifying the target of a probe.

Material Support

Sec. 805: Expands the existing ban on giving "material support" to terrorists to include "expert advice or assistance."

I personally do not know where I stand on a number of these issues and do not know how much power the federal government should have in terms of surveillance and intelligence gathering? I do know though that Congress should be looking at this bill with a critical eye and should not pass it blindly or simply because the White House is pushing it. The country needs to continue to take precautionary measures in order to be safe but excessive and unwarranted surveillance and intrusion is not what our country is about. The bill hopefully will be amended so that FBI and CIA intelligence gathering is lawful and fair, keeping the civil liberties of this nation in mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brief Foreshadowing

Busy, busy, busy. Finals are getting in the way of everything.

First, I will wait to blog on the CFACT decision because it's precedent that what you write on the blogsphere is fair game for judicial evidence. Pete McCabe's willing to get anything on his hands to incriminate me. I will wait to blog about the decision.

Second, in response to many of people in ASM, I will be commenting more on SSFC and specifically on my budget principles.

Third, I will also be putting out a post during break (so soon) titled: Objective Christianity: Defending the Resurrection. Particular bloggers like to criticize the religion and all religions for that matter. I feel I can make a strong case for why it is objective to think Jesus did rise from the dead (and therefore some may conclude he is the son of God). I can't wait for responses.

Anyways, good luck on finals to all!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Current State of ASM: Moving Student Government Right

Since last spring, conservatives have been winning major victories on campus. There have been several special triumphs to note.

One, we have one of the first conservative chairs in Eric Varney and the campus and conservatives have have benefited from having an objective mouthpiece and leader of the organization. Varney’s response to UW’s Party School Ranking:

“It just shows that we work hard, but we play hard also” Someone that is honest and not a tool for political correctness is someone I can definitely respect.”

Varney’s response to SSFC’s decision on SAFE:

University of Wisconsin Transportation blatantly failed to follow the proper procedures, resulting in the end of a valuable and popular service in SAFE Cab. Shame on them.”

“Last year, SAFE Cab provided 13,100 rides to students in need, while SAFE Walk only had 1,075 uses. At budget costs of roughly $194,000 and $116,000 respectively, it is apparent that SAFE Cab is a more cost effective and widely used service than its counterpart. SAFE Walk is an important program as well, but it puzzles me why UW Transportation would tout one service so highly over the other, especially with contradictory statistics.”

Instead of making an apology to the students about SAFE, he criticized UW Transportation. This was a great political move and one that garners my respect. Having someone at the top who knows what government should be about (providing essential services) and not about social activism has been great. While Varney has not been extraordinarily active this semester, he has been a good spokesperson, a fair chairman, spoke out in favor of SSFC’s decision on SAFE, and most importantly filed the lawsuit against SLAC.

Second, the Robin Hood Slate won a number of races in a convincing fashion that should not go unnoticed. In the spring, Ryan Scannell whooped up on the competition in the Agricultural Race (600 to 90) and sent Eyal packing (this had other implications also). Brandon Sivet led the way in the L&S with the most votes for the school, Jackie Goessl represented in Education, Ross Olson picked up the spot for the SON, I picked up over 1700 votes in the SSFC race, and others won in convincing fashion in their respective schools. The fall freshman race was even more exciting. Even though the CR’s decided to endorse one of the two conservative candidates, both won dominating other representatives who claimed their racial diversity made them “the” candidate for council. This huge win along with upcoming political star David Lapidus coming close against Kellie Sanders (a loss by only 60 votes) has also solidified the CR and Robin Hood presence on campus---(Kellie you are awesome too).

FUSE is worried and should be terrified about the 2006 spring elections because their support is dwindling and the conservative election machine is strong. The students are and should be coming to grips that GSSF groups are wasteful and that many people on council and SSFC are simply insiders for these organizations. Here’s a recent quote in the Madison Observer from former Diversity Chairman Ryan Sarafolean:

The thing that makes me nervous is that ASM, in general, is moving in a more conservative approach as we have seen lately and that scares me a bit. When the Student Service Finance Committee denies organizations funding that do benefit students here on campus, it makes me nervous about ASM’s direction. We have done a great job for the most part in our past at keeping it a democratic body, but right now I think students in general are taking these opportunities for granted and many do not get involved. (December Issue)

The far left is scared. Programs that aren’t cost effective might start to be cut. Big diversity which is built on large student salaries, huge corporate budgets, and programs that are only social in nature are already starting to be manipulated and sliced into. Radical campaigns such as Transgender Neutral Bathrooms and Worker’s Rights may not have votes or funding in the future. Essentially, there is the strong possibility that socialist activism may not be supported by the students through their tuition in the future.

Third, Nominations Board has been active in selecting not only strong candidates for SSFC and Council but conservative candidates. The first important candidate they selected was Chrissy Harbin who has been a key addition (as have David and Kellie) to restoring fiscal sanity to SSFC. She has brought strong economic arguments and a reliable fiscal conservative position to the table. The second and last main candidate was Leah Moe. A fairly stealth candidate who is not a well-known College Republican, was chosen by Nominations amongst numerous candidates including well known leftist Andy Gordon. Please thank Mary Hegi for heading the effort in bringing more conservative leaders to ASM.

Fourth, mentioned above several times in the article, SSFC has been tougher and brought the budget total to I believe 12% less than last year. Obviously voting “no” to CFACT was a major step and denying specific organizations eligibility (Legal Information Center, Polygon) helped bring the total down but SSFC was also tough on many of the other budgets. Specifically, the committee was harsh towards UWRCF, Student Leadership, JCC, SAFE, and others. Big diversity was essentially preserved for the most part but APAC took some heavy blows and MCSC was brought down significantly also. These particular groups and others like SOL, LBGTCC, Mecha, are still overfunded because insiders stifled real reform this year. We can always hope for next year. The group was brought further to the right during the second half of committee though because of the significant additions of Sanders, Lapidus, and Harbin. The spring is bright and the non-allocables might be actually be fun.

The future is bright for conservatives and particularly the Robin Hood Slate. The name will most likely change but the principles will not. Hopefully, conservatives students will continue to rise up and strong candidates will appear. If not, I’m going to recruit them. With a lead already present (2 to 0), conservatives will look towards winning the spring elections with the expectancy of putting in place real reform in 2006-2007.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Our Generation: Lazy and Apathetic?

Often I think about how our generation (the so-called Echo Boom) will be remembered in history and what type of impact we will have on America in the coming years? Already certain people are labeling our generation as lazy and apathetic, a product of the digital and video game age. I am not quite sure what to think or to believe but it’s interesting to hear what our elders are telling us.

For instance, my uncle has said told me in the past that our generation does not have the work ethic and stamina due to its reliance on video games and TV for recreation rather than outdoor games and other physical activities. This quite possibly is true in that many of my roommates and friends would probably be much more physically active and educationally productive if Halo was still code for a ring of light, the name Madden drew sighs of annoyance, and Mario was synonymous with “pathetic R&B
crooner”. Yet this is not the reality for much of our generation, specifically men and the hours of virtual fun continue to stack up. Maybe men and for that matter woman will step away from the controller once kids start popping out and quite possibly engage more in conversation, exercise, and print but somehow I think this will not happen. Also, do video games, DVD’s, and TV shows keep us from working, staying in touch with the outside world, and being physically active? Our generation has also labeled politically apathetic by writer Matt Towery of Townhall.com. One of his comments:

As a whole, I think younger Americans are less passionate and focused on issues related to government, policy and other "hard news." Studies show that younger people are shying away from newspapers. They are instead getting word of national and world news as it flashes by on the margins of their Internet providers' home page, or when by chance, they channel surf past a cable or broadcast television news show.

He also speaks much further on how our generation is historically illiterate (read the article The Dividing Line). Do his comments hold significant weight however? Obviously here in Madison many students stay up with the news, are watching CNN, and understand the issues fairly well. However, do students and others our age really participate
and understand what’s going on currently in the US and world? I don’t know exactly because I choose to surround myself often with politically read individuals. I do know that few students read the newspapers and many would opt to watch John Stewart over Wolf Blitzer or Brit Hume. This leads me to believe that “yes” our generation is staying up on certain current events but few really understand the true political
issues well.

Another interesting perspective comes from Steve S of Letters in Bottles once said to me that “there are the 10% on each side of the aisle that really know the issues and there’s the rest of the populace”. Do most individuals our age understand what the privatization of Social Security means? Do they have clear policy explanations on why they hate President Bush other than he pollutes “the environment”, is too "religious”, or doesn’t like black people? Can they name their Congress representatives?

This isn’t a statement piece I guess but I am curious of others opinions. Are we lazy and are we apathetic (in general and comparatively to other generations)?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Conservative Factions and Thought

Different Types of Conservatives: Where I Fall Ideologically and Why

Within the Republican Party and inside right wing politics, a number of different factions exist and conservatives disagree all the time. All one needs to do is peruse the blogosphere and divisions exist amongst Republicans on particular social legislation, the size of government, the decision of going to war in Iraq, and basically any political or societal issue. The divisions have been magnified as we have seen Republicans spar in the National Government over tax/dividend cuts, the nomination of Harriet Miers, pork-barrel spending, social security and also within SSFC as big spending “conservatives” have battled fiscal hawks over cuts to salaries, programs, and budgets on Student Service Finance Committee. On September 30, the Economist gave a unique look at particular divisions within the United States conservative movement. Further commentary is needed on where I stand and of course it’s fun to label and place particular bloggers and UW Republican individuals into the particular groups.

• Small-government conservatives v big-government conservatives. Mr Bush has embraced all sorts of big-government programmes (from supercharging the Department of Education to creating the huge new Medicare drug entitlement) while trying to keep small-government conservatives on side with tax cuts. But this was a formula for fiscal disaster. It also failed to placate purists who believe that the federal government has no business running schools or pushing pills to pensioners.

In my opinion it’s hard to label yourself a conservative if you don’t believe in and fight for smaller government but look at our “buddy” in the White House increasing Washington’s power not only abroad but domestically. Look at Bush compared to Regan in terms of department spending (given the data is only for Bush 2000-2003).

Percent Change in Real Outlays in First Three Years
Department Reagan Bush
Agriculture -13.2% 8.5%
Commerce -29.0% 9.6%
Defense 18.6% 27.6%
Education -21.8% 60.8%
Energy -19.6% 22.4%
Health & Human Services 9.0% 21.4%
Housing & Urban Dev. -3.7% 6.1%
Interior -4.6% 23.4%
Justice 1.2% 11.0%
Labor -29.4% 56.0%
State 9.5% 32.5%
Transportation -13.0% -1.3%
Treasury 31.1% -7.0%
Veteran Affairs -3.9% 29.4%
Total Outlays 6.8% 15.6%
Sources: Budget of the U.S. Government and Mid-Session
Review for FY2004.

I do applaud President Bush for cutting taxes and attempting to maximize taxpayer’s social security accounts but I don’t appreciate increases in the federal power in terms of education and health care. I really don’t like the increase of any particular area of the federal government (beside national security when need be). Within student government, I have stood for fiscal conservatism intended to limit the burden on student taxpayers. Too bad big government conservatives (Goessl, Frey) have stood in the way of real reform in terms of limiting student groups to fewer salaried positions, putting on events that pertain only to their mission, and cutting outright waste. Big government conservative also at a national level have blocked reforms that in the long run would lessen the government’s role and spending in social security, Medicare/Medicaid, and cutting pork. I can’t place anybody on the blogosphere in the big government category but other libertarians such as Mark at Opiate of the Masses joins me in hating the federal state.

• Conservatives of faith v conservatives of doubt. Doubters don’t think that the federal government should interfere in people’s private lives. They don’t want Washington meddling in states’ rights to legalise euthanasia or medical marijuana. Conservatives of faith believe that the federal government should encourage civic virtue. Under Mr Bush they have had the upper hand. The Justice Department has been aggressive in imposing its views on the states. The poster-child of the conservative movement on Capitol Hill at the moment is Senator Rick Santorum, a staunch advocate of family values.

I am most definitely a conservative of doubt for many reasons. First off even though I may disagree with particular choices people make in terms of lifestyle I don’t believe that the government has a right to intervene unless an adult’s actions affect others (and in particular kids). I really don’t believe also that legislation makes a large difference in curbing immoral behaviors. Instead I think that the laws we often put in place hurt taxpayers (ie drug-users in jail, excessive police enforcement), hurt Christian and religious witness, and make secular liberals hate conservatives and Republicans. The divide can be verbalized in terms of Judeo-Christian versus secular values or historic versus new-age values and the clash produces hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, drugs, and flag burning. What I really wish is that people would simply follow the God of Abraham’s laws. Then there really wouldn’t even be any discussion about legislating morality. To read articles from a conservative of virtue, try Brad V over at Letters in Bottles.

Insurgent conservatives v establishment conservatives. The conservative movement, rooted in the south and west, has been deeply hostile to Washington. But electoral success has created a Washington-based Republican establishment, which spends its time doling out goodies to its buddies and expanding federal power. Mr Bush has managed this relationship by presenting himself as an anti-Washington Washingtonian: the son of a president who prefers to spend his time in Texas. The insurgent wing seems increasingly unconvinced.

Being a conservative outside the Beltway and hating large federal government, I would label myself an insurgent conservative as would most of my colleagues at College Republicans and within the blogosphere. The cronyism and handouts within the current White House and Republican dominated legislature makes me sick and abhorred. The excessive pork, the poor nominations, and the increasing federal government makes me wish for a divided government where far less would get done and hopefully spending contained. I can’t label anyone inside ASM or the College Republicans an establishment conservative because nobody has federal power but clearly politicians such as Tom DeLay, George Bush, and Ted Stevens fall within this category.

• Business conservatives v religious conservatives. The latter are waiting keenly to see whom Mr Bush appoints next to the Supreme Court. Business conservatives are worried that religious people have already got too much. Mr Bush’s stance on stem-cell research will cost America its competitive edge in biotechnology. Add to this their concerns about Mr Bush’s reckless fiscal policy and you have the making of a business revolt.

Too often, the Republicans have focused their energies on social issues appealing to the religious right and social conservatives. Evangelicals do have a strong hold on the Republican Party and this power has been applied through Bush’s decisions to hold government spending on stem cells and the introduction of the national gay marriage ban. I do hold some socially conservative views (I am in fact an Evangelical) but I am by far much more of a business conservative than religious one. In my view, government’s main objectives are to provide essential services that the private sector cannot provide (infrastructure, education—its been moved to a public good in the 20th century, and national security), intervening in market failure (externalities), and protecting rights of individuals. Thus, the government should steer clear of excessive regulation and advocate low taxes, privatization, free trade, open borders, and establishing the right to work would all be in my platform if I ran for Congress. I basically would follow within the Club for Growth model in making sure that the US and the world can continue to expand economically and business opportunities are open to all. While many of the religious conservatives are also business conservatives in the UW College Republicans, a couple clear member of this faction would include E-Board member Lavonne D and Jenna over at Right off the Shore. Business conservatives include myself, Mark at Opiate of the Masses, and Jeremy at Daily Perspective.

• Neo-conservatives v traditional conservatives. The former have an expansive vision of America’s role in the world—a vision that has come to include not just nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq but also the transformation of the Middle East. But traditionalists balk at the hubris of this vision. How can conservatives who believe that government power is fallible rally to the idea of transforming an entire region?

Conservative politics especially in Washington have moved towards a hawkish foreign policy especially within the Executive Branch. This may be a result of 9-11 but I think this ideology has been mainstay within Beltway Insiders at least since Regan. I am a traditional conservative in the sense that I would prefer that the US be selective in its conflict overseas. I believe that conflicts should be looked at on a cost-benefit basis and to me, unless something dramatically changes in Iraq, the $200 billion and 2,000 US lives were a mistake. I want Iraq to succeed as a democratic and sovereign nation but somehow I “doubt” that US military action can directly change the hearts and minds of a culturally and religiously different people. I would love to have democracy and liberty spread across the Middle East but somehow I feel that the US military acting preemptively is questionable and most likely is a poor investment. I am by no means isolationist and believe that the US does have a role in helping and protecting the world but I think its role should be much more limited than what is desired by many of the right elite. In searching for a neo-conservative point of view, look no further than Bob over at Madison Freedom Fighter.