I don't know how how much more disgraceful the Wisconsin State Republicans can get with Assembly Bill 11 from the January 2011 Special Session.
First they try to vote without the democrats present on February 18, 2011:
Then on February 25th, 2011 they call for a vote so fast that most of the Democrats can't even get back to their seat to vote:
It's shameful and pathetic, regardless of your stance on the bill. They have the votes, so why do they need to resort to shady tactics?
The 2011-2012 Republican State Representatives are: Tyler August, Joan Ballweg, Kathy Bernier, Garey Bies, Edward Brooks, Mike Endsley, Paul Farrow, Jeff Fitzgerald, Mark Gottlieb, Scott Gunderson, Mark Honadel, Michael Huebsch, Andre Jacque, Dean Kaufert, Samantha Kerkman, Steve Kestell, Joel Kleefisch, John Klenke, Joe Knilans, Dan Knodl, Bill Kramer, Scott Krug, Mike Kuglitsch, Dean Kundson, Tom Larson, Daniel LeMahieu, Amy Loudenbeck, Howard Marklein, Dan Meyer, Jeffrey Mursau, John Murtha, Stephen Nass, Lee Nerison, Scott Newcomer, John Nygren, Alvin Ott, Jim Ott, Kevin Petersen, Jerry Petrowski, Warren Petryk, Don Pridemore, Keith Ripp, Roger Rivard, Roger Roth, Karl Roy, Erik Severson, Richard Spanbauer, Jim Steineke, Jeff Stone, Patricia Strachota, Scott Suder, Gary Tauchen, Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Tom Tiffany, Travis Tranel, Robin Vos, Leah Vukmir, Chad Weininger, Mary Williams, Evan Wynn
"The Republican legislation calls for over 100 federal programs to be outright eliminated, including scholarships, family planning, school counseling, Teach for America, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps, and the COPS hiring program."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said:
"The CR contains over $100 billion in cuts compared to the President's request - fully meeting the spending reduction goal outlined in the Republican 'Pledge to America'"
Done? Problem Solved? Does this fix our budget problem, or is this just an opportunity for Republicans to cut programs they don't like?
I'm usually not a big fan of Obama's ramblings, but tonight's speech was really good. Uplifting, inspiring, and forward-looking. Talk about education, science, public transportation, infrastructure, transparency, and gay rights reminds me of a '08 Obama. I think he's back.
Privately-funded science produces things like Viagra and a Coke Can made with 1% less aluminium.
Publicly-funded science produces things like vaccines and the Internet.
I know which of the above I think are a better use of time and money.
"What we're talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America."
Supports of Scott Walker, like the guests on the annoying and poorly moderated 'Sunday Insight with Charlie Sykes' on TMJ4, are praising Mr Walker for fulfilling his campaign promise to take the rail funding and return it to taxpayers or use it for roads and bridges. Although neither of those things happened and the funding went to California, Florida, and Illinois instead.
Having been on intercity passenger rail in United States, Europe, and Asia, I personally find it to be a very convenient mode of transportation for distances where air travel wouldn't make any sense and driving starts to get annoying. Yes, during testing phases the Milwaukee-Madison rail would only travel 79 miles/hour, but would be increased to 110 miles/hour when it is found save to do so. With only two stops in between, it certainly wouldn't take any longer then by car or bus. And who says the train then couldn't increase to 160 miles/hour or 220 miles/hour like in Europe or Asia respectively? Rome wasn't built in a day. And at an estimated $44 to $66 a trip, it's true it would cost approximately three to four times the gas money to drive that distance (given 30mpg and $3/gallon gas), but you also have to consider what that hour of time is worth to you. You could read, study, or work on a freelance programming or design project, and easily justify the cost. And who says gas prices won't go up.
Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks On House Floor - With Russ Feingold soon to be gone from congress, it's looking like Ron Paul is the only other person left who can think for themselves and isn't a puppet for their party.
S.773 - Cybersecurity Act of 2009 - This is an insanely scary bill that just made it out of committee which includes the ability for the president, without oversight, to
"declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network"
What are we, Iran? Unless "critical infrastructure information system or network" is clarified, this has a high probability of being abused. I really hope congress doesn't give this the time of day, otherwise there is some letter writing that needs to be done.
Is the Health Care Law Unconstitutional? - Say what you want about the Health Care Bill as a whole, but it's important to understand why the requirement for mandatory insurance is included, and why just that particular portion of the bill can't be overturned:
Jack M. Balkin, a Law Professor at Yale explains:
"The new law keeps insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions or from imposing lifetime caps on coverage. The individual mandate makes these popular aspects of health care reform possible.
Without an individual mandate people will wait until they become sick to buy health insurance, raising insurance premiums for others and undermining the ability to spread risk that is necessary for private insurance markets. Requiring people to make a choice between buying health insurance or paying a tax gives people incentives to act responsibly and not attempt to game the system."
Other experts have good arguments on the other side too. I always love the NYTimes "Room for Debate" series. Significantly more civil than anything you see on television.
Civic Literacy Test - Test your general knowledge of the United States history and government. I got a 79% (without cheating!) Which isn't bad considering the average elected official in the United States got a 44%.
New York Times: SE - A utopian New York Times dated Saturday, July 4th, 2009 includes articles such as "Iraq War Ends" and "All Public Universities To Be Free". A million paper newspapers of this were distributed in New York back on November 12th. The elaborate hoax is attributed to a group called "The New Men".
I've heard all over that lines at the voting locations weren't bad. I voted at 8:30am and the line was only 20 minutes long. For the post part it was very quiet (probably because everyone had just woke up) except for an intense discussion about the separation of Church and State prompted by the fact that our voting location was a Catholic Elementary School and they were selling cookies.
Supporters from both parties are out and about, and both were having difficulty keeping their signs upright with the occasional gusts of wind on an otherwise beautiful day.
Racist McCain-Palin Rally - I think the Presidential Race is closer than everyone is reporting. I think when pollsters are calling McCain supporters, they're answering 'Obama' out of embarrassment being associated with these nut jobs.
Ron Paul on the bailouts - He had been predicting this would happen back in the primaries when others laughed at him. Who is laughing now?
"[The government] undertakes measures to keep prices artificially inflated. This was why the Great Depression was as long and drawn out in this country as it was."
"Additionally, the government's actions encourage moral hazard of the worst sort. Now that the precedent has been set, the likelihood of financial institutions to engage in riskier investment schemes is increased"
I've been purposefully avoiding talking about national politics on this little website of mine to avoid being like everyone else with a blog, but there is something I need to throw out there.
Let's talk about the formal education of the two tickets up for presidency.
Now, let me disclaim, I firmly believe grades, test scores, and degrees play a relatively insignificant part in the measure of one's intelligence and ability to contribute to society. I think one's experiences, leadership, and initiative are a significantly better gauge, but aren't used as often because they're hard to quantify. I think it's perfectly possible, and almost easier to respect somebody who has 'worked their way up the ladder' than simply exclaim 'I got good grades in college'... which can often be arbitrary depending on the year, professor, and other classmates.
But this contrast is difficult to ignore: Barack Obama: BA in Political Science from Columbia, and JD in Law from Harvard (magna cum laude) Joe Biden: BA in Political Science and History from University of Delaware, and JD in Law from Syracuse University College of Law
John McCain: Graduated in the bottom 1% of his class at the United States Naval Academy Sarah Palin: BA in journalism from the University of Idaho with a minor in Political Science.
I mean, come on.
And what is everyone's fascination about finding 'somebody just like us' and the fear of 'elitism'? I would prefer somebody significantly smarter than me, thanks.
"That's why the pointy-headed intellectuals who boast or value ideologically perfect voting records are so dangerous. They have stopped thinking ... They are wrecking the country, and they are wrecking Wisconsin."
Senator Obama came to speak at the Kohl Center in Madison today. The doors opened at 6pm, but he wasn't scheduled to speak until 8:15. I got there at 7:40, not really caring if I got good seats. (I wasn't going to sit there doing nothing for two hours... they wouldn't let people bring in backpacks)
However, as I approached the Kohl Center, there was somewhat of an angry crowd outside. Per Mar, the special events security on campus locked the doors saying the Kohl Center was full and walked away, refusing to answer questions (Can we sit on the side? In the back? Is it really full, or will you let more people in once the crowd settles?)
As I started to leave, I saw a door open up at the attached Nicholas Pavilion, and it was announced they setup large projection screens with a closed-circuit feed of the Kohl Center.
H.R. 4137: College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 - The bill passed house yesterday. Sounds like a good act, but check out this bit snuck into section 494: that requires universities to "develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity."
Start by turning off the TV. The speeches are carefully calculated in every state just to make everyone happy, and the debates are a joke. Thinking of going to a political debate by the student organizations on campus? Just grab the pizza and leave before the politically uninformed start shouting at each other.
So what do you do? I'll start with this statement: Actions and money speak louder than words.
Infringement Nation [PDF] - Good argument for copyright reform. The author strengthens his argument (Page 7, half way down... a must read) by telling the story of a fictional professor, "John", who innocently racks up $12.45 million in liability fines + criminal charges in a single day.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda - New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explains how the Bush Administration missed out by not introducing a gas tax. And how right he is.
Although our very own Badger Herald hit the nail on the head a month ago :)
Zeitgeist - I really really hate "conspiracy theory" movies. So when I was passed on this link I just shrugged it off. However, in a desperate attempt to take a break from homework... I decided to watch. While I don't endorse or support the views expressed in the movie... they admitingly do a very good job crafting their argument. The intro is quite... long. So if you don't have time, fast-forward to 37 minutes.
Putin? Never Heard of Her - The July 2007 print version of Wired Magazine featured an article examining peoples' political knowledge based on where they get their news. When asked who Vladimir Putin is, who Scooter Libby is, and what the major branches of Islam are... it was found that "Daily Show viewers are more up on current events than Fox News fans". By about 15%.
I read a frustrating opinion piece in the Badger Herald today condemning the Google Censorship of Google.cn in China. He said that all Google cares about is money and their shareholders, and don't care about the Chinese citizens who won't get full search results.
But here's the thing--- without Google censoring their own results, the Chinese government did it for them. The Google search engine became slow and unreliable due to the filters, and at times users were even being redirected to other government-run search engines. At this time, Google -- by far -- provides the best search results. Providing a fast, accurate search engine at http://www.google.cn, with just a few politically sensitive keywords censored, give users in China the ability to find more than they ever had before. Google is also up front about the censoring, and alerts users when their filters are censored. And the final thing is, the original uncensored-by-google http://www.google.com/ig?hl=zh-CN search is still available.
I think it's better to have a fast, accurate, powerful search engine professionally censored by Google than to have an unreliable, poor searching, hack job of censorship search engine. If Google doesn't censor, the government will.