Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Question of the Day #2

Who's job is it to pay me a living wage?

Question of the Day

My brother owns a home in Maryland. It is worth in the neighborhood of $700,000 and his property taxes are roughly $4,000 per year.

I own property in Racine. It was assessed at $478,000 and my tax bill was over $11,500.

The Maryland property has a tax rate of approximately $5.70 per $1,000 of property value while my tax rate was over $24 per $1,000 of value. Racine residents pay over four times the property tax than does my brother in Maryland.

Now my question for readers, especially liberals, is this: How do property tax rates affect property value and the behavior of property owners?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

City Will Fail in Housing Business

The city of Racine now wants to buy and flip forclosed homes in marginal neighborhoods with your money. Read about it here: http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/12/27/local_news/doc4956ea55c1ee0781977341.txt

Not a good idea. The city "already owns six houses which it has obtained through defaulted home improvement loans" according to city development director Brian O'Connell. In other words, taxpayers are holding the bag for the city's previous failed efforts in the housing business. What will be done differently this time? Did someone at city hall get fired for squandering our money the last time? Nothing and no are the correct answers I suspect.

The city officials will fail again and again in the housing business because they fail to recognize an obvious truth: People who can afford to but a home in Racine's rough neighborhoods don't want to live there and many people who do live there aren't stable enough, economically or otherwise, to be successful homeowners. This leaves renting as the only realistic option for the homes in question.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Unions and Ponzis

This might be a stretch, but here goes. There are significant similarities between unions (perhaps not all or even most) and ponzi schemes.

Getting in early is key. Early investors in a ponzi scheme often do quite well before the gig is up. Similarly, early participants in unions often will cash in with higher wages, health care expenses paid in large part by the younger healthier union members, and pensions. Before the union ultimately destroys the source of the money, some more realistic negotiations may start to take place. Sometimes these include sacrificing new employees with two tiered compensation packages, so the new guys continue to fund the original union/ponzi members.

The unions destruction of the money source can take decades. The more clever and powerful unions then set their sights on a deeper reservoir of cash, taxpayers. But, as we will eventually find out, bailouts and hidden obligations to municipal employees etc... will bankrupt communities and individuals alike. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coming Clean

I have a confession, of sorts, to make. My son, age 13, has discovered the joys of anonymous blogging. He was active on a recent post concerning climate change, claiming that Florida will be under water soon and that the clown fish will soon be extinct etc...

Yes I was aware of his antics and I even begrudgingly gave permission. Sorry Sam, Nemo, UP. I will discourage, but not forbid, anonymous postings by my son.

But there was some value there IMHO insofar as it demonstrates just how easy it is to parrot liberal positions.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unions Prevail Over Taxpayers

The Journal Times reports today that several people were protesting outside of City Hall yesterday. The protesters say the city's heating and air conditioning contractor is not paying the prevailing wage. "Josh Garner, a union member, said the nonunion Kenosha company Southport Heating and Cooling pays 50% percent less than prevailing local wages mandated by the state."

I have no way of knowing whether the city's contract is lawful or not, but I think it ought to be. If the city can get the job done, employ willing workers, and save taxpayers 50% on labor costs, they should be allowed to do so.

It seems that "prevailing wage law" is designed to protect overpaid union labor while sticking it to the taxpayer.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Evidence of Climate Change

The other day I was rifling through my car, looking for an ice scraper. Though none was to be found, I did find three umbrellas and some sun screen.

I am starting to believe in climate change.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Michael Gibson Does Something

The near completion of an unsustainable, wasteful, feel-good environmental project atop a dilapidated school building prompted local student Michael Gibson to announce that "It just shows something can be done with this location in the inner city. It shows something can be done with this group of students."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Opposition or Hatred?

I went to the city council meeting last night intending to speak in opposition to a proposed ordinance concerning landlords. I was also aware that a battle was brewing over a proposed LGBT center.

When I arrived I became involved in a brief discussion with, I think, the would be proprietor of the LGBT center. I asked him why there was opposition to the center and he responded that it was all about bigotry and hatred by Christians. I thought that this was not a very charitable assessment of his opponents motives, so I asked what his opponents might offer as a reason for their opposition. He didn't know.

In my previous post I suggested that a council meeting about a conditional use permit was probably not the proper venue for Christians to hold forth on the immorality of homosexual activity. But is this hatred?

No, it is disagreement. And disagreement and hatred are not necessarily synonymous. And disagreement resolved through an open, fair and just process is what we should aspire to as citizens.

I didn't see hatred coming from the Christian speakers last night. I saw strong, though misguided, opposition coupled often with a stated concern (whether sincere or not I don't know)for gay people.

After perusing the JT and Racine Posts blogs on the subject, it seems that many supporters of the LGBT center are quick to declare that hate is what motivates their Christian opponents. Which makes me wonder whether it is hateful to assume that an opponent is hateful.

Christians Right?

Efforts to block the opening of a LGBT community center at last nights city council meeting relied almost entirely on religious arguments. Homosexual activity is immoral, the bible says this or that, the end is near etc.... were just some of the arguments offered by members of the public to try to put a stop to the center. But the issue before the city council was not whether homosexuality is right or wrong but whether to approve a conditional use permit. The permit requirement is used by city officials to try to ensure that permit seekers will genuflect (keeping with the religious theme) to the council and promise to cut the grass, paint the exterior etc...

While Christians are certainly free to view homosexuality as sin, in this case they should be careful what they wish for. I recall not to long ago that a Christian church opening was delayed and nearly prevented by this very same permit requirement. Mayor Becker and the city had hopes for condo development along the river and they used the permit requirment to try to block the project. Requiring a conditional use permit was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Christians and gays should work together to protect private property rights and allow the legal use of property to proceed without government or public interference.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Landlord Law Enforcement

It appears as though there is already a law on the books in Racine that permits the city to fine lanlords for the trangressions of their tenants. In today's JT local section, one Diana DeChenne was contesting a nuisance citation issued to her because her tenant allegedly fixes cars commercially in the garage. DeChenne asked, rather sensibly, why she was receiving a citation when her tenant has not, to which the judge replied that it was the law. For DeChenne to be in compliance with the law she must make an effort to prevent her tenant from fixing cars commercially.

Wow! So DeChenne must now become part time investigator and law enforcement official. She is now required to somehow detirmine if her tenant is recieving payment for his work or whether he is working on his own car or doing a favor for a friend or whatever. Perhaps she should set up a sting operation, FBI style, then swoop in arrest her tenant, cuffing him to the steering wheel.

As ridiculous as is the present law, the city is considering a change that would, in addition to requiring lanlords to become unpaid law enforcers, seek to prevent them from having their day in court. "If a revised ordinance passes it would send nuisance cases to the Public Safety and Licensing Committee and City Council rather than to Municipal Court."

And so the city's attacks on property owners continues.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hubris or Experience?

Renowned Democrat Donna Brazile asks and answers the following question: "What in the name of all that is holy made Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich think he could put a U.S. Senate seat on the auction block? There's only one answer: hubris."

Really? Only one answer? How about experience? If a governor has spent years selling government favors, it seems to me perfectly rational that he would think he could sell a senate seat. And what about buyers? Every seller needs buyers. Blago had lined up at least one buyer for the senate seat and he clearly had buyers for his other nefarious schemes.

So, to answer Donna Brazile's question, to hubris I would add experience, buyers and a culture of corruption as the reasons that Blago thought he could sell a senate seat.

Ending Legal Corruption

It is perfectly legal for a political candidate to accept money and/or support from an individual or group and it is perfectly legal for the politician to make and deliver on promises to said individual or group. It is not legal to explicitly state that campaign contributions are the impetus for favorable legislation. So it seems that exchanging campaign contributions for favorable legislation is legal so long as you never say that that is what you are doing.

Obviously there is but a very fine line between legal representation and illegal corruption and there is such a thing as legal corruption.

As I see it, the only solution to the problem of legal and illegal corruption is well informed voters.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bush Betrayal?

Whatever the merits of an auto bailout might be, using TARP money for that purpose would constitute a betrayal of taxpayers who were assured that TARP money would be used to rescue the financial system, not the manufacturing system.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Case for Limited Government

Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyavich, a Democrat, was arrested this morning by the feds after a lengthy corruption probe. Soon he may be joining former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republican, in jail.

It amazes me the quantity of people who continue to believe they are on the side of the good guys, when it should be abundantly clear that there is corruption among both Dems and Repubs.

Rather than pretend that your guys are virtuous and the other guys are scoundrels, it seems to me far more sensible to be wary of all people seeking power. Additionally, we should grant the least amount of power possible to our government officials such that there is less power available to abuse.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Question of the Day

Is "pragmatist" just a nicer way to describe a person with no convictions?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Who We Got?

Many have rightly criticized GW for being a poor speaker and many consider BO to be a great speaker. Yes BO can deliver a great speech but he is a bit of a mess when speaking extemporaneously. Lots of long pauses interspersed with uh's and um's. Today I listened to him answer questions and it was painful. And when he wasn't sure who was to ask the next question, he asked "who we got?" Yikes.

Troublemakers Welcome

The city of Racine is apparently considering an ordinance wherein landlords may be fined for the behavior of their tenants. A public hearing on the subject will be held at City Hall on December 16th, 7 pm.

And so continues the trend in Racine to allow miscreants and misdemeanants to carry on while holding others accountable for their behavior.

Why stop with landlords? My understanding is that some of our public schools have enough of a nuisance problem that the police have opened mini stations inside of our schools. Perhaps we should fine the principal when the children act out.

Of course this would be widely seen as unfair, even ridiculous, and rightly so. But when it comes to landlords we seem to have lost our sense of fairness.

What city officials fail or refuse to recognize is that too many losers have chosen Racine as a place to live. Come to think of it, Racine officials are complicit in this choice insofar as they are making Racine a place where troublemakers won't be held accountable for their own behavior. What better place to live if you are a troublemaker?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Suspected Gunman

Mark Steyn is a must read on Islamic terror issues. He also wrote a great book called America Alone that I would highly recommend. And he is very funny. The following is an excerpt from his latest article that you can read at:

There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: "A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station." The photo of the "suspected gunman" showed a man holding a gun. We don't know much about him – he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of Western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Brothers embarking on an exciting midlife career change – but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a "suspected gunman" but a gunman. "This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services worldwide," wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. "They think they're being scrupulous – the man hasn't been convicted of being a gunman yet! – when, in fact, they're just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn't just silly, it's dangerous."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Compassion for Victims, not Terrorists

As I write this, a terrorist attack in India is ongoing. Hundreds have been killed or wounded. The Indian government has captured some of the terrorists. Undoubtedly the terrorists have valuable information that could save lives in the future if the information leads to the capture or killing of some of their co-terrorists.

So the Indian government has two choices. They could show compassion to these alleged terrorists, give them three meals a day, a Koran, cable TV etc... or they could show compassion to future, would be victims of terrorists by extracting information from these thugs via calm persuasion or, if necessary, torture.

I know, this is an ugly choice. But it is the choice.

And my choice would be to show compassion to future terrorist victims by using whatever means necessary to extract info from the terrorists in order to capture their support network that will otherwise plot to kill more innocents.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MPS Incentives

The Milwaukee Public School system has apparently been offering Ipods as an incentive to children so they will sign up for and attend school breakfast programs. See Charlie Sykes for more detail.

Hunger has always been a sufficient incentive to get me to eat. Apparently many MPS students are not hungry enough to accept a free meal. Why not leave it at that?

Speaking of incentives, there is obviously some unknown incentive driving MPS to spend money trying to get well fed children to accept a free meal before school. My guess is that MPS is somehow rewarded financially for increasing the size of this program.

Consultants to Run From

Note to Racine area elected officials. Beware of the following consultants:

1) Nebraska deep sea fishermen
2) North Dakota orange growers
3) Saudi Arabian brewers
4) Michigan economic development officials

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Private Accountability

Teachers union president Pete Knotek argued, in a November 19th JT commentary, that school vouchers divert tax dollars to "unaccountable private schools."

I don't think Pete Knotek understands private sector accountability. Private schools are accountable to their customers, namely students and their parents. If the parents are not satisfied, they will send their children to a different school. An unaccountable private school is one without students.

Public sector accountability is another matter entirely. The public school system is accountable to politicians, not parents, as it is politicians that control the purse strings. A public school system could produce abysmal educational results and continue to attract enormous sums of tax dollars, so long as political relationships are nurtured. Where is the accountabilty for educational results in the public sector?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Students Expelled

It has come to my attention that two students were expelled recently from a local private school for stealing a test from a teacher.

No doubt this is a very sad and difficult time for these children and their parents, but I am going to look at this from the bright side.

For the expelled students, they are learning a painful and necessary lesson. There are consequences for criminal behavior. You will not always get a second chance.

For the rest of the students, there is also a lesson. You are expendable. Bad behavior will not be tolerated. An education in a private school in not a right. You are expected to behave properly and respectfully and if you don't, we will replace you will someone else.

Isn't that a bit like real life?

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Species Identified

Local blogger and scientist, Kay, of BlueRacine.blogspot.com has identified a new species. This new species Kay calls a "potential." This amazing new creature lives its entire life, approximately nine months, as a parasite inside of female homo sapiens. The "potential", also known as humanus potentialus, is the only species that is capable of morphing into another species. The "potential" will change into the species of its host, the homo sapien, upon passage through the hosts vagina. The symbiotic relationship between the "potential" and female homo sapian is quite remarkable as apparently the homo sapien is the only species that does not reproduce but instead allows the humanus potentialus to morph into a homo sapien. As of this writing, Kay has yet to identify how the "potential" reproduces or how the "potential" arrives in its host homo sapien.

The stork story is far less complicated. I'm sticking with that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

JT Endorses Consideration of School Vouchers

The Racine Journal Times (http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/11/16/opinion/doc491f47151d55e097979090.txt) has endorsed the idea of considering school vouchers.

Wow! I never thought I would see the day. Now they haven't actually endorsed vouchers and there is no way that the Democrats in charge will actually implement the idea, but still, the JT took a step in the right direction.

The next step obviously is for the JT to render an opinion on the subject.

The Leftist Imposition

"Don't impose your beliefs on me!!!"

You will invariably get some version of the above argument if you ever discuss the abortion question with a liberal, so be prepared for it.

Never mind that I was not imposing anything on anybody. Rather, I was trying to sort out their beliefs on just what is that mass of matter inside a pregnant woman. I pleaded for scientific evidence or any evidence whatsoever that the material was something other than a human life. They (liberals over at Blueracine.blogspot.com) had no evidence to offer but they nonetheless insisted that I stop imposing my beliefs on them.

Anyway, imposing beliefs or values is what active citizens and governments do. Advocating for universal health care is an attempt to impose beliefs/values on others. So is lowering or raising the tax rate. So is installing a stop sign.

So the next time a liberal insists that you stop imposing your values or beliefs on them, realize that what they are actually saying is that they should impose the laws and you should obey them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The More Things Change...

President elect Obama and the Dems appear to be pushing for a massive bailout of the auto industry. I thought huge corporations, driven as they are by greed, are the problem. Besides, cars contribute to global warming. Wouldn't we all be better off if big government stopped rewarding their big money friends who are intent on destroying the environment? I was hoping for change.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JT's Forced Argument

The Journal Times is right that, regarding opposition to proposed smoking bans, that "the only argument that could stand up is the one which asserts a private property right; that the owner of an establishment should have the right to set rules." But alas, "no right is absolute" they conclude and thus they are comfortable doing away with one more.

A little further on in the commentary: "Here individual rights again come into play. There is no right of a tobacco user to FORCE (my emphasis) his use upon everyone else. There is not necessarily an ability to avoid it because in many cases, for example, when one is traveling, eating in a restaurant or tavern is a necessity."

Don't be fooled by the Journal Times' misuse of the word "force". A person invited by an owner of a private business to smoke is not forcing anyone to inhale the second hand smoke. Anyone who is inhaling the smoke is doing so voluntarily, as nobody is forcing them into the establishment.

The only use of force going on here is government forcing more rules on private businesses. And that "right" of our government to the use of force appears more and more absolute with every passing day.

You can read the JT's commentary at: http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/11/12/opinion/doc491a1c5e116a5792698637.txt

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Gay Marriage

The voters of California recently voted to keep the meaning of marriage intact, that is, as a union between one man and one woman. Gays in California and elsewhere are upset. I have been following the controversy and I must say that I am saddened but not surprised by the quality of arguments coming from those who wished to change the definition of marriage.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-protests9-2008nov09,0,7790800.story

As I see it, in this country, marriage has been understood to mean a union between one man and one woman. And the question today is whether the institution should be redefined to include men marrying men and women marrying women.

Or to put it another way, do we wish to change marriage from a union between men and women to an institution based on a persons sexual orientation. Because if marriage is changed in such a way to include those with a same sex orientation, we would remove any rational argument to exclude other orientations.

Certainly some people would claim to be oriented toward both men and women and others no doubt would push the envelope even further, seeking to enter into some bizzare entanglements with multiple partners, inanimate objects etc... On what rational basis could those unions be denied if we have changed marriage to an orientation based institution?

And let us not forget that we have laws pertaining to children, divorce, inheritance etc... that could be made infinitely more complicated than they are today. How would our current laws resolve a divorce and custody issues if one person wishes to dissolve a marriage between several partners? Do the remaining members of the union remain married? What happens to the children?

Now some of you no doubt think I am getting a bit ridiculous and that marriage should be between two people only. But if we have changed to an orientation based system of marriage, do we then discriminate against the bisexuals that wish to marry both men and women? Aren't we all about ending discrimination?

Changing the definition of marriage would have far reaching consequences that we can't even fathom right now. I have not heard of any convincing arguments that address any of the issues that I have brought up. In California, some of the protesters would consider me a hateful bigot.

Hatred for gays is by no means the only reason why a person might vote to keep marriage the way it is. Certainly changing marriage could lead to profound changes in society and it is not too dificult to imagine that some of those changes would not be good.

The advocates of gay marriage have not made a convincing enough case to change an institution thousand of years in the making.

But I am interested in opposing points of view. Bring em on.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Other Others

It has recently come to my attention that Racine Unified has a curriculum unit entitled "Accepting others makes life better."

Oh really, we should just accept everyone and life will be better. Hmmmm, how about child pornographers. Will the lives of Racine Unified students be better if they learned to accept child pornographers? Obviously not.

So which "others" should we accept to make our lives better? Now we already know that Unified has taught that the acceptance of a certain liberal black presidential candidate would make their lives better. And I'm quite certain that the "others" to be accepted include minorities, women, Muslims, gays etc....

But I am also curious about the other "others." You know, the ones not mentioned during the "Acceptance of others makes life better" unit. Are the students also being taught that accepting Christians or conservatives will make their lives better?

Somehow I doubt it.

By the way, I learned of this curriculum unit at Racine Post: http://news.racinepost.com/2008/11/racine-unified-no-policies-violated-in.html

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just Wondering

Can we have unity and diversity simultaneously?

Change Has Come ... In News Reporting

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the most significant news event on Tuesday was the election. Yet AP business story on the large drop in the stock market on Wednesday started like so: "A case of postelection nerves sent Wall Street plunging Wednesday as investors, LOOKING PAST BARACK OBAMA'S PRESIDENTIAL VICTORY, (caps are my emphasis) returned to their fears of a deep and protracted recession.

So we must all accept as fact that the slide in the stock market was not a reaction to the election and that the millions of investors who dumped stocks were all looking past the election results.

As for me, I think the stock market slide was due to the unexpected news of Guam's 2.4% decline in housing starts.

Election Reaction

I am saddened but not suprised by the election of Barack Obama. We have chosen charisma over character. We voted for undefined change and we will get it. Some change can be good, some terrible. Soon we will find out what kind of change we will get.

On a positive note, Obama is probably the only politician capable of leading the kind of change I think we need to see in the education department. He could shine a light on the horrible performance of urban public school systems and he could shame Democrats into supporting school choice. This would allow large numbers of poor and black students to access education options outside the public school system. There is no reason to believe that he will, but I can hope, can't I?

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Denis Promise

My most recent post questions the wisdom of the Racine Promise idea that would offer free college tuition to graduates of Racine public schools. The program, in addition to offering free tuition, promises to increase jobs, the housing market, disposable income, population, and businesses while generating economic growth in the surrounding communities. This plan does not go far enough.

Consider the Denis Promise: Everything in Racine will be free. We can even call it Free Racine. Yes, I will freely give my blog name for the benifit of everyone.

When everything is free in Racine, you can be sure that our local population will boom as never before. The housing market would boom as people flock to Racine to scoop up our vacant buildings. New housing would then spring up made from free materials and built with free labor. Jobs would be free for the taking though most would probably prefer the vast amounts of free time made available by all the free products and services which would free us from the need to work.

The Denis Promise has been successfully implemented in the past. Check out the USSR Promise web site for details.

Racine Promise Questions

Some city officials are exploring the idea of offering free college tuition to graduates of Racine high schools. The program would be modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise. More detail is available at the Racine Post.

The grant proposal seeking to explore this program suggests that the program would transform RUSD such that all children would be prepared for a post secondary education. It would increase the incentives to finish high school and college, it would result in more disposable income for racine families, it would attract people and businesses to Racine, improve the local housing market and would improve the regional economy.

A few thoughts in no particular order:

Do we really want to look to Michigan for economic development and population retention  ideas? The economy of Michigan is tanking and people are fleeing to other states.

The Kalamakoo web site touting the program mentions nothing about who is paying for the program.

The program in Kalamazoo is for public school students only. Would Racine graduates of St. Catherines be discriminated against by this program?

Random Election Thoughts

The union guy showing up at your house to steal your McCain signs today (see Racine Post, Real Debate, Caledonia Unplugged) may soon show up at your house to oversee your vote for unionization once the Obama administration does away with secret ballots.

A youngish girl showed up at my store asking for me to give her an item that I am selling for $10. I told her that giving away product destroys businesses. She said I should give it to her because she is poor. I told her she should consider getting a job. Nobody is hiring, gas prices to high were among her excuses. I hope she isn't old enough to vote.

My non-white wife was accused, via the phone, of the racism that Obama has to deal with when she called to discuss a long overdue bill with a customer. Bring on the healing!

I was listening to a Chicago radio program yesterday wherein many callers and the hosts thought that rioting and violence would likely occur at Grant Park on Tuesday, regardless of the outcome of the election. I am glad not to be politically aligned with large numbers of people promising violence.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Taxpayer

Hello taxpayer,

My job is to educate your children and by any objective measure I'm doing a terrible job. Just this last year I lost another 400 students even though my service is free. Out of ten comparable school districts, I am doing the worst in just about every category.

But I can turn this thing around. I have an audacious plan. I am going to make sure that all of the people who are responsible for this education disaster will keep their jobs. And I am going to pay them all more than last year. That ought to work.

But I am going to need more money to pull off this much needed education reform. And this is where you come in. I will be raising your taxes another 10%. I know, I know, we have done this every year for the last thirty years and things keep getting worse. This year will be different, I promise. Yours truly, RUSD.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Building Bridges

Sometimes all this disagreement and division can get downright discouraging. For example, Michael Gibson thinks the RUSD/Voces get out the vote effort is non partisan while I think the purpose is to increase voter turnout among Democrats. But this post is not about our differences. This post is about building bridges.

Michael, I am about to start a new business and I want you and your schoolmates to join in the fun and excitement. You probably didn't know this about me but I have a side business that is really starting to take off and I need your help. And that business is bridges. Not just any bridges mind you. These are 100% renewable, organic, sustainable bridges made from hemp. Hemp has other potential uses as well Michael but let's not burn these bridges. Also these bridges are pedestrian-only so they are great for the environment and they encourage exercise!

All I need from you and your friends is some capital. Sorry to use that dirty word. We all know bridges should be free. Aside from capital all I will need is your enthusiasm and an unquestioning devotion to my vision. Let us unite behind a common vision for the common good. Cash is preferred or you can write a check to Bridges To Everywhere LLC.

I will need the cash soon though Michael. To get this business rolling, er started, I need make a big upfront hemp purchase. Sincerely,


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Feeling Green

One year after challenging Walden students on their greening efforts (archives, Nov 20th 2007 Response to Walden Green Students) I got a comment from Shannon, a senior at Walden.

His last paragraph:

"I suppose what I really want to get accross is that no matter what you think, Green School is happening and no one is going to stop it. Even if you think our effect is so "miniscule" on the environment (which its not), it's more than that. It's about creating something that our school can identify with and feel proud to be a part of. That is priceless."

I know Shannon, I have known this all along. This is largely about pride and positive feelings, which you view as priceless. That might explain why so many took my challenge so personally. It's not really about the environment, its about feeling good, perhaps even superior to less enlightened saps like me.

And so I suppose what I really want to get accross Shannon is that, with respect to environmental and other important issues, your feelings and your pride are irrelevant. What matters is that we make the smartest possible decisions regarding the issue at stake. And it is clear thinking that will get us there, not your priceless feelings.

Children Used

Two local liberal organizations, Racine Unified and Voces de la Frontera, will be using children next Tuesday to promote their political agenda of electing Democrats.

Unfortunately, it is children who will be most harmed by their own political activism because Racine Unified's primary political goal is to prevent their own students from attending private schools, even if those schools provide an excellent education at a lower price.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Disenfanchisement at Horlick

Now we all know that the reason Republicans have been pushing for a photo ID requirement for voters is because they want to disenfranchise and otherwise bring harm to black people.

In a related topic, spectators for tonight's Horlick football game "should be prepared to show a form of picture identification" to gain entry.

Why doesn't Horlick want black people to attend their football games?

Affirmative Racism

Cory Mason has been campaigning door-to-door for Barack Obama and some voters "are having a hard time coming to terms with voting for an African-American... They say 'I just simply won't vote for a black.'" And some people "are more hostile and use stronger language." according to Mason. You can read the whole article, written by Dustin Block at racineinsider.blogspot.com.

Further on in the article: "While there are racist voters, there are also new voters excited about the possibility of an African-American president." and further still, "Efforts to encourage minority residents to get registered and vote early could also offset racial prejudice."

So if I understand this correctly, not voting for someone because they are black is bad and racist but encouraging minorities who are presumably "excited" to vote for a black candidate is good because it could offset racial prejudice.

The basic message: white racism bad, black racism good.

Don't worry, we will soon be unified.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gangster Granny

If joblessness causes violence, why aren't retirees terrorizing our streets?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Have a Little Faith

The Racine Interfaith Coalition wants to tackle the violence problem in Racine. On Tuesday evening, 7pm at the Miracle Center, 1100 Grand Avenue, they will unveil their plan, called the Violence No More Initiative.

According to the Journal Times article, the plan will focus on employment, conflict resolution and education. Uh Oh.

I don't know what it is like to plunge a knife into someone or to shoot someone with a gun, but I suspect it has far less to do with employment status or educational success and far more to do with spiritual poverty and a disregard for human life.

Does the Racine Interfaith Coalition have faith in faith? I am beginning to wonder.

As I see it, a criminal with no regard for his victims is in the midst of a profound and perhaps lifelong spiritual crisis. And this is where a faith based organization should start their intervention.

How do we help a person with a chronic disregard for life to begin to respect his own life and the lives of others? I am not entirely sure but I think one must begin to challenge the attitude, mindset and faithlessness that surely is part of the makeup of a violent person.

Thereafter we can worry about jobs, education and conflict resolution.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Constitution?

I addressed the city council the other day. I told them that when the city fines its residents and calls it a fee, thereby depriving citizens of the right to contest the charges in court, the city is violating the constitution.

Now I am not the first person to make this claim. But the city council members have done nothing. None have disputed the claims. All have ignored the claims to the best of my knowledge.

This suggests to me that all of our elected city representatives and our mayor are entirely comfortable violating the rights of Racine citizens and ignoring the constitution.

Does anyone care and if so, what to do?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walden Outside Reading

I just finished reading a book that will never see the inside of a Racine Unified school. All the more reason to read it.

The book is Climate Confusion by Roy Spencer, a former NASA climatologist. Spencer takes on the doomsdayers, explains the issues in an understandable style. Yes, the temperature on earth is warming, slightly. It is far from proven that this slight warming has been caused by man. Humans prosper in warmer climates. Plants benefit from increased CO2. We don't understand fully (or anywhere near it) how our exceedingly complex earth stabilizes itself naturally. As such, computer models are overly simplistic and tend to overstate the effect of "mankind's tiny enhancement of the greenhouse effect." Spencer also argues that many proposed solutions (Kyoto) will harm economies and do little good and bring possible harm to the environment.

Palin Envy

One could criticize Sarah Palin without hating her. She is inexperienced, sarcastic, unintelligent, corrupt, ambitious etc... one could say. I would disagree but that is not the point of this post.

But for many, their feelings for Sarah Palin go far beyond rational criticism. There is a palpable hatred of her that often exceeds that directed at world's most hated man, George Bush. What is this about?

Is this hate transfer? It might be tough to get too worked up over our lame duck president, so is it time to find another hate outlet? It took years to develop Bush hatred and arguably it could be tied to his policy decisions. But Sarah Palin, new on the scene? What has she done to generate this kind of hatred?

And from what I have observed, this hatred is most intense coming from women. Now before anyone gets their undies in a bunch, I am by no means talking about all women or even most women. What I am saying is that the hatred intensity appears to me to be greater coming from women, generally.

My theory: Envy is the source of this hatred. An insecure woman especially could secretly resent a beautiful, powerful, accomplished, popular, seemingly content woman. Envy is not an emotion that many are readily willing to admit to, so it is instead expressed as the irrational unwarranted hatred that it is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Union Can't Compete

I went to the city council meeting tonight. Three speakers addressed the issue of "prevailing wage" requirements that the city of Racine was allegedly not living up to. Most interestingly, one of the speakers noted that the unionized Racine labor could not compete with outside, non unionized labor. I am not suprised that unionized labor can't compete with non union workers, but I am not sure why the city taxpayers should needlessly pay extra money for union labor. The city should seek to get the best deal for their constituents, and unions should improve their businesses such that they can compete with non union companies.

"Independent" for Obama?

Scott Dizack writes in to the JT and claims to be an independent for Obama. In his letter, he urges us to "step aside from the irrational fulminations emanated by the McCain campaign in order to digest the rational words of wisdom" of Colin Powell, including his criticism of "the distortions, out right lies and abscence of solutions in the McCain camp." We need a government "with an agenda of unifying our great nation, not one that viciously attacks and erodes our moral fiber." Dizack urges "rational Republicans" to choose "sound ideology" and a leader who will "mobilize every American's support and energy in a constructive modality... (whatever that means)to overcome our hurdles rather than choose the candidate that attempts to "terrorize citizens for their vote" who will "divide us as a nation."
And finally, this self proclaimed independent supports the "conjugate vision" of Barack Obama.

Now really, why bother calling yourself an independent when you write like the loony left?

As for me, I'm voting for McCain, you know, the vicious irrational lying terrorist with the unsound ideology who will divide our nation and erode my moral fiber while unleashing my energy in a deconstructive modality.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Indoctrination at Racine Unified

In a response to the Fred Dooley (realdebatewisconsin.blogspot.com) led flap over the Obama section of a Racine Unified textbook, curriculum director Jeff Weiss said "There is no unit on indoctrination."

Perhaps that is because an indoctrination unit would be redundant. Take the text book in question. It is a literature textbook chosen because of its emphasis on diversity in the reading selections, according to Weiss. "We want to find materials that reflect our student body, which is a diverse and multicultural student body." The book contains excerpts from American Indians, Japanese, Hispanics etc...

And this is not indoctrination? Why not read the best, age appropriate written material regardless of the skin color or ethnicity of the writer? Should Unified be promoting a multiculturalist agenda without any apparent consideration of the harm that might do to children and society?

Make no mistake about it folks. Unified is teaching leftist ideas in the schools. They could choose textbooks that disregard the color of the writer. They could remain neutral on the merits of multiculturalism.

But no, they have detirmined that the curriculum should be infused with notions of multiculturalism and diversity, thereby rejecting individualism and American exceptionalism.

And they claim not to be indoctrinating our students.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Constitution Vandalized

About ten days ago, I noticed that my building was tagged with gang graffiti. So I went to the paint store to buy some spray paint with which to cover the graffiti. It was much to windy that day and the next to apply the spray paint. Then I went out of town for business.

Meanwhile, I received a notice from the city concerning the vandalism and today another notice that we have not addressed the problem (we have), coupled with the news that we will be sent a bill of $50 for an inspection fee.

Of course this is not actually a fee, it is a fine pretending to be a fee. The reason to call it a fee is to avoid the sticky problem of people contesting their fines in court and the expenses associated with said contests. You know, denying people their constitutional right to defend themselves in court.

I think the vandalism by our city officials is worse than the gang vandalism. At least I can spray over the grafitti.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Phone Home

The Racine Library wants to expand into Mount Pleasant. They have an endowment of $3 million which might be enough to purchase the land from the city of Racine. An aside: Why does Racine own land in Mount Pleasant? Anyway, it is not known "at this point ... exactly how the library would generate money for the materials and operating costs" according to the JT article.

I have a suggestion for the library board that might shed some light on where the money will come from. Call your own reference desk. Ask them how the current library is funded. This may provide valuable clues as to how additional libraries will be funded.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Eye Spies

After the presidential debate, McCain was criticized for not looking at the camera. After the vice presidential debate, Palin was strongly criticized, by Chris Matthews, for looking at the camera. I'm thinking dark sunglasses are in order for the next debate.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Racine Redevelopment Renamed

What do facade grants, artist relocation efforts, the Unfied Neighborhood Inspection Team and a fresh coat of paint on a crack ridden tennis court have in common?

Answer: They are all a part of Racine's "Lipstick on a Pig" redevelopment strategy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Defending Chicken Hawks

On more than one occasion, I have indicated measured support for our military entanglements throughout the world. Then comes the question, why don't you enlist?

The reason for the question is, I think, to undermine my argument by suggesting that I am either a coward, a hypocrit, or more charitably, an inconsistent thinker. One can't really support a military engagement without having enlisted in the military, right?

Now consider how flawed this "why haven't you enlisted" argument really is. Think of how many ideas or policies that you might support or oppose.

For example, I support vigorous efforts to clamp down on organized crime. I support the teaching of chemistry in high school. I oppose the sex trafficking in Thailand. I support drilling for oil in ANWAR.

Yet I am still waiting for someone to ask why I have not joined the police force, why I don't teach chemistry, why I am not rescuing teen prostitutes in Thailand or why I'm not digging holes in Alaska.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dousing Development?

I have been talking with a fellow for the past few days who is interested in buying and renovating a downtown building. His reason for choosing Racine is that the downtown is so close to the harbor where he would have his boat. I am quite certain that he would take the plunge on this project if, and this is a big if, he can avoid the prohibitively expensive installation of a sprinkler system. Additionally, there are several other concerns, such as whether he will be allowed to have a balcony extending slightly over city air space, whether city officials will be easy to work with, and how much he will have to pay the water department etc...

I certainly hope this gentlemen takes on this project and it is clear that the only thing that may disuade him would be the costs and regulations imposed by our elected and unelected city officials.

We roll out the red carpet for low income residents. Will we do the same for an enthusaistic gentlemen who has fallen for Racine, or will we chase him away?

Friday, September 26, 2008

End Compassion Now!!!!

I was driving by DeKoven last night when I noticed signs for Compassion Fest. I mentioned to the passenger of my vehicle that I have always been amused by Compassion Fest as I thought it was the lamest possible name for a festival. And then she came up with an idea that I wish I could claim for myself. Let's protest Compassion Fest. Brilliant!! I am thinking about showing up with a megaphone and a WAR MIGHT BE THE ANSWER sign. Anyone care to join me?

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Left and Christianity

Given the effort to paint Sarah Palin as a dangerous religious extremist, it is fair to conclude that the left fears Christianity. But there are exceptions. If the Christian church is demonstrably anti-white and anti-American, then we have nothing to worry about.

Greedy Conservative

So I was blogging at Kay's Blue Racine the other day. There was a blogger named Ann in Salem who doesn't like extremism, who then declared that McCain/Palin will set us back one hundred years. What do you mean I asked; no airplanes, no computers, no womens vote? Then Kay chimed in, declaring that my question was a great example of the difference between conservative and progressive thought. What do you mean Kay, I asked. Well conservatives look at issues narrowly while seeking to protect their own financial interests. So when I asked Ann to elaborate on the hundred year McCain/Palin setback, I was being greedy. Got that?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Common Sense from Journal Times

Every once in a while, the JT gets it right. In today's editorial, the JT comes out against the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act. Essentially, the act does away with secret ballots when it comes time to vote for or against unionization. "It would give rise to an unprecedented level of workplace coercion" says the JT. You got that right.

The only issue I have with the commentary is that the JT fails to point out just how partisan this bill is. It is supported by nearly every Democrat and opposed overwhelmingly by Republicans. The JT should have informed their readers of that fact.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teacher can't Teach

MPS social studies teacher Bob Peterson doesn't think students are learning enough about racism and social movements, "whether labor, the women's movement, the peace movement or the environmental movement." He wants to enlist the NAACP, the Milwaukee Ethnic Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the teachers union, and the Educators' Network for Social Justice, and four area universities to rewrite social studies textbooks. You can read his entire commentary at http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=794155

Now if our left leaning public school teachers can't teach leftist ideas to students, despite having a near monopoly on education, how can we expect them to teach anything at all?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Prep Time for Obama

I got a call just now from the Obama campaign. The caller was a local woman seeking volunteers to call undecided voters. For some reason the caller admitted to me that she was a RUSD teacher using her prep time to make her calls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Question of the Day #2

Should Barrack Obama focus his efforts on battleground states or should he continue with the 57 state strategy?

Question of the Day

Re employment laws, why is there such a thing as wrongful termination but not such a thing as wrongful quitting?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Advice for VP

No doubt the media and liberal politicians are salivating at the prospect of embarrassing Sarah Palin by asking her, say, "who is the deputy trade minister of Sri Lanka?". Rather than answering with an "I don't know", my suggestion would be to turn the tables on the questioners with a smile and a "not my pay grade."

Friday, August 29, 2008

VP News, Media Bias

Sarah Palin has been on my radar screen for a few months now. I had heard that she has relentlessly fought the corrupt political culture of Alaska and that she is a pro-life mother of five.

But now, after listening to the mainstream news , I have learned that she is a former beauty queen who hunts moose and owns an airplane.

The contrast between the mainstream media and alternative news sources couldn't be more apparent.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life Not Fair

"One day, around the campfire, we decided, in a just world no one should have two homes until everyone has at least one" writes Kim Hunter of Burlington to the Journal Times.

Kim goes on to write that she has a master's degree. Did they discuss, around the campfire, whether Kim should have been allowed to pursue a master's degree when not everyone has a high school education?

And Kim would be living in her car were it not for her parents who are subsidizing her income. Kim, do you realize that some people are orphans without even a bicycle?

Stop yer bitchin Kim. Get back to work and reconsider your communist philosophy.

Oh, and one more thing. Your campfire was spewing CO2 into the air.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

VP News

In an obvious nod to English speaking soap users, Barrack Obama today picked the clean and articulate Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Defending a Question

Apparently some prominent local individual(s?) recently asked a forbidden question, prompting Racine County supervisor and Racine Parks director Donnie Snow to respond in a JT commentary entitled "Defending a race, setting an example." The question: "Where are the African American men?"Given the disproportiate incidence of violence perpetrated by black boys and men and other pathologies in our community, I think it is a fair question and one we all should consider.Unfortunately Donnie Snow reacted far too defensively to make a meaningful contribution to this discussion. Snow is a single father and a product of a single mother. He turned out OK, he gathers with other positive black men that are part of the solution etc... and he "refuse(s) to let anyone lump all black men and bring them down to the lowest, most mean-spirited stereotypes."Of course there are positive, decent, concerned, caring, and responsible black men in Racine and elsewhere. There are also far too many who are irresponsible and inclined towards criminal activity. By the way, I think this is a problem that exists outside the black community as well. However, the problem is more pronounced and obvious in the black community.Why can't we talk about the problems facing the black community? Why is Donnie Snow so defensive? When can we have a discussion without being accused of "lumping all blacks together" or contibuting to "mean-spirited stereotypes" or in other words, without being accused of racism?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Addicted to Government

Like most humans, Mayor Becker has vices. And like most liberals, he thinks there is a government solution to his problems. "Being a smoker,I'm for a statewide ban" (on smoking in public places) he says. "It might also help push him to quit smoking or at least cut back" he said in a Journal Times article today.

I have vices also. But they are my problem, not yours. Or at least they ought to be.

This is a key difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals believe in collective responsibility while conservatives believe in individual responsibility.

I wish Mayor Becker well in his battle with his cigarette addiction. But it should be his battle, not yours or mine.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Question of the Day

Why is it legal to work for $8 per hour or $0 per hour but illegal to work for $4 per hour?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Planning to Fail

Thomas Sowell once wrote that the reason to have a planning department is to usurp other people's plans.

But we like to plan here in Racine. So when Emilio and Joanna Clarke purchased property on a dreadful stretch of vacant storefronts on State Street, they went to the city planning staff for approval of their plans to open a dance hall. And they got the approval.

But then they had to face the Racine Plan Commission and Alderman Greg Helding. Helding et al have their own plans for the area, preffering office and professional uses instead.

Helding apparently thinks that other areas of the city would be better for dance clubs. Like 6th Street. You might remember that the city had plans for 6th Street to be the "Heart of the Arts" area that now is being replanned for Uptown after artists didn't cooperate.

And Racine continues to send the message to business people: Your plans don't matter.

Fair Slavery?

Over the years I have sometimes made the mistake of buying and then selling "fair trade" products. It is a mistake insofar as it implies that my other products, not similarly labelled, are unfairly traded.

The Racine Post reports that a fair trade store and coffee shop will soon be opening in downtown Racine. To make a go of it, the owners, Racine Dominicans, will rely on volunteers to work the shop.

The irony here is that the same folks who are complaining about third world wages will be offering their own employees even less.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Solar Scamming

The village of Wind Point has recently installed solar panels, at a cost of $54,000. As a result, the village has saved $160 on last months electric bill. At that rate of savings, we will break even after 28 years, assuming zero inflation. And this "savings" is only possible because We Energies is buying the electricity and then selling it back to the village at half price. Note to would-be entrepreneurs: buying high and selling low is a risky business strategy.

Village Trustee Ann Brodek noted that the village received a grant from Focus on Energy, an organization that "helps install cost-effective energy efficient projects."

Install solar panels to save the world or to feel good about yourself or whatever, but please don't tell me that it is cost-effective.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Journal Times Bias

Some of you may remember a few years back when Racine County government was pushing for an indoor ice arena. The idea was contoversial and actively promoted by the Racine Journal Times.

Now fastforward a few years. Yesterday I read in the Milwaukee Journal that a huge indoor soccer complex has been approved by the Sturtevant Town Board. If this private project gets completed, the Racine area will be on its way to being the soccer capital of Wisconsin if not the midwest.

This is newsworthy IMHO. Yet I have found no mention of it in the Racine Journal Times. I don't conclude that JT prefers hockey or figure skating to soccer. I do conclude that they prefer public expenditures to private projects.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scapegoating Landlords

"What we have is a concern that there are substandard conditions in a portion of our rental properties....It's not in the best interest of our city for the housing stock to be detiorating" said Alderman Greg Helding in response to those protesting an ordinance proposal which would allow or require city inspections of rental properties.

All righty then. Helding appears to be operating under the assumption that our housing stock is detiorating because city government has not been intrusive enough. If only government would step in and force the evil landlords to clean up, everything would be swell in the city of Racine.

The problem with scapegoating landlords is that it makes no sense. The problem is not landlords, it is politicians who espouse big government solutions to our problems.

Why would landlords want their investments to detiorate? Why don't landlords invest in their properties and make them beautiful?

Answer: Landlords don't want their properties to detiorate and they will only invest in their properties if they can recoup their investment with rent increases.

The problem is that in certain areas of Racine, people with the means to afford a nice home or a nice rental unit do not want to live there. Thus, a landlord that spends too much to update and improve his property will lose money because potential renters will not pay enough rent to recoup his investment.

Landlords operate under these conditions, they don't cause these conditions. Politicians have caused these conditions with excessive property tax rates. Over time, high taxes (and other factors) have caused residents to flee Racine, leaving a surplus of housing and a deficit of buyers. Landlords have stepped in to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

The answer to this downward spiral is not more government, it is less government. If you want to reverse this trend, offer incentives for people to fix their properties via tax credits, lower tax rates, etc... that are regularly offered to the well connected developers.

Or scapegoat landlords, chase them out of town, and make the situation even worse.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thought of the Day

The problem with Republicans is that they fail to live up to their ideals. The problem with Democrats is that they do.

Mysterious Illness

I know several people who work for Midwest Express, and I am concerned for their well being. It seems that many employees, especially those who have accumulated many unused sick days, have been afflicted lately with unspecified symptoms that renders them unable to work. The illnesses have somehow spared newer employees that don't have any sick days. Quick, someone call the CDC.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama Questions

"How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests? How do we ensure that in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity?"

Barack Obama asked these questions in a recent speech announcing his patriotism. I will take a shot at answering them.

#1. We keep ourselves safe by confronting/addressing threats to our safety. We do not negotiate with those who wish to undermine our safety and security. We don't worry excessively about the liberties of those who intend to harm us.

#2. We don't worry too much about whether or not we trust our government. A bit of mistrust has been earned by our government. We restore trust by reducing the potential gains sought by the special interests. We do so by reducing the size and influence of government, thereby increasing the freedoms formerly enjoyed by our citizens.

#3. While "having an allegience to the less fortunate" is a laudable sentiment, it is not the role of government to enforce any such allegiences.

#4. We resolve differences at this "time of increasing diversity" by not favoring one group over another. Rather than create favored groups and unfavored groups that would pit citizens against one another, we should treat all individuals equally under the law.

I think Obama would answer his own questions quite differently.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama Anecdote

I am aquainted with a group of Racinians whom I thought would be slam dunk Obama voters. They are urban, mostly single, non religious. They tend to despise George Bush, want out of Iraq, favor gay marriage and are pro-choice.

So I was a bit surprised when one of them desribed himself as a McCain supporter. I was even more surprised when I learned that only one of this social group (of a dozen or so) intended to vote for Obama.

They tended to see Obama as just a slick politician and they were disgusted by the Wright assocoation.

I know the polls are showing Obama with a big lead in Wisconsin, and my observations are purely anecdotal, but I think an Obama win is not inevitable.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Strike Worries

The Journal Times reports that the 94 employees of the Belle Urban System may go on strike. I think this will cause a huge problem for the dozen or so passengers who use the system.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moral Relativism on Display

JT letter to the editor writer Teresa Murphy-Dickert asks "What's the difference between aborting a fetus and blowing up a child in a U.S. bombing raid?" and "why is aborting a child in our country worse than killing innocent children in a different country?"

Answering her own question, Murphy-Dickert writes "I think it is because those who believe abortion is worse don't have to see those murdered children and torn bodies of women on the other side of the world. Since it is not staring us in the face every day, it's easy to decide that "being against abortion" is more important than being against an inhumane war."

I can't make heads or tails of M-D's answer to her question. Clearly she is opposed to the deaths of innocents in war, but is she also opposed to abortions? And is evidence of the 30 million or so aborted fetuses "staring us in the face every day" or have we sanitized abortion victims just as we have sanitized the war?

I would answer M-D's question quite differently. The difference between an abortion death and the death of an innocent in war is intent. With abortion, the intent to end life is purposeful. With an errant bomb, it is accidental. The moral difference is significant.

Of course if you have lost your wife and child to an errant bomb, the moral distinction may seem irrelevent. The effect is the same. You no longer have a wife and child.

Even so, we must be able to recognize moral distinctions in order to function properly as a society. Or should we make no distinctions between a murderer and a surgeon who's patient dies in surgery?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Good Deed Punished

Sorry for the lack of postings of late. I was out of town, working, and with little time to muse about the events of the day.

So I was parking my car the other day when I noticed a woman and her child apparently waiting for me to exit my vehicle. They said they were hungry and asked if I would buy them some food. I was about to buy some food for myself anyway and I will always try to honor a request for food, so I said yes. Then it started to get complicated.

I was in a hurry to get home after several days on the road and they were being very indecisive about what they wanted to eat. After some time they made a decision. They wanted enough food to feed the neighbors, or so it seemed. So I set some limits on quantity and waited until the food arrived.

And in the end, no thank you's from mom or child. Just pure entitlement. Oh, and a request for bus fare.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fair and Balanced?

In today's Journal Times: Reverend Glen Halbe, a retired United Church of Christ minister from Racine, wants more Jeremiah Wrights. More divisive hate speech. More evidence free conspiracy theories about the US government trying to exterminate blacks with viruses. More damning of America. Our pastors "only pretend to preach" as they are"too afraid" to speak out. "Let the prophets cry out!"

The Journal Times can find room for Halbe's message, but conservative writers need not apply.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

KRM, Partisanship, and Magic

The Racine Journal Times paraphrases RAMAC President Roger Caron on the KRM issue as follows: "politicians must drop partisan politics, vote to invest in transportation infrastructure and not use the excuse that constituants might object."

Interesting. So voting for a massive government transportation program is considered non-partisan while objecting to it would be partisan? The partisan objection would be conservative presumably, so wouldn't support for KRM be considered partisan and liberal?

Also, why shouldn't politicians consider the concerns and or objections of constituants? Caron obviously wants politicians to listen to his ideas.

Also in the article, it is apparent that Mayor Becker would like to take on the responsibilty for Milwaukee's transportation mess and is eager to raise the sales tax to the maximum currently allowed by law, as this is apparently the only "magic" remedy. Yes, he used the word magic. It is only politicians who can use magic to make money appear. The rest of us have to work for it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

On Correlation, Causation, and Culture

I think it is time for another discussion of the differences between correlation and causation. In Racine there is an unfortunate correlation between dark skin and poor academic achievement. And unfortunately, some have no doubt concluded that the former causes the latter. Not so.

So what is the cause of the academic failings among Racine's black students? In my view, there are two primary causes. First, there is a subculture in Racine and elsewhere that infects many in the black community. This defeatist subculture glorifies violence and misogyny, rejects academic achievement and blames the larger society for the inevitable failures. Second, there are educators, most of whom know full well that there are cultural problems that are brought into the classroom, but they can't act accordingly toward their students. Why? Because teachers are silenced by their own liberal philosophy of multiculturalism, wherein all cultures are to be equally valued and validated. Rather than challenge the harmful culture that results in failure, teachers instead join forces with said subculture and blame the larger society for all the problems.

So for a black child to succeed in Racine, he may well have to reject the culture of the neighborhood and reject the enabling attitude of his teachers. Good luck with that kids!

On Gay Marriage

I have two issues with Michael Moore's column about gay marriage that can be found in today's Racine Journal Times.

1. According to Moore, at his church, they are "advised to be nice to gay parishioners while asking them to sit quietly in the corner for life." I don't know what church Moore goes to but I believe he is Christian and possibly Catholic. I suspect that he does not understand his own church's teaching on the subject. I suspect that his church welcomes sinners but chooses not to endorse sin, and his church considers homosexual activity as sin. The church recognizes that it consists entirely of sinners but obviously stops at endorsing what it considers sinful behavior which is by no means limited to homosexual behavior. The church does not endorse pre or extramarital sex either. Do the people who engage in these activities believe that they are being asked to sit in the corner for life?

2. Moore seems somewhat ambivalent on the subject of gay marriage but he won't stand for a gay man dressing as a women. "That's the one part that honks me off, when people intentionally make a joke of something sacred" writes Moore. I am not honked off by gay people pushing for gay marriage. I am concerned that by changing the definition of marriage, we will bring harm to society. By changing marriage, legally, from one man and one women, to a orientation based system, we will have provided legal justification for people of other orientations (polygamy, bisexual multiple partner marriages, incestious unions to name a few) to also marry. As a society, we need to consider all of the ramifications of changing the definition of marriage before doing so.

I am not threatened by two lesbians skipping down Main Street dressed as lumberjacks, but I am threatened by activists seeking to undermine our system of government in order to introduce harmful changes to society.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Teach or Bleach

Unified test scores continue a six year "fairly steady" decline and school officials are "scratching their heads" according to a JT article on the subject. Poverty and pigmentation are the apparent causes of the problematic test results. As such, the larger society should begin to redistribute our income and improve skin bleaching technology to improve test results. OK, that last sentence didn't come from the JT.

Or, if you find that objectionable, as I do, we can begin to question the apparent conclusion that minorities can't learn. Or, we could question whether government run schools should be the only option available to poor and or minority students. But I suspect we will are as unlikely to read about a skin bleaching program as we are to read a JT editorial advocating school vouchers. And it is minorities and the poor that are paying the greatest price.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Criticize a Child Today

In a commentary in today's Racine Journal Times, the founders of the REAL school responded to blog postings at the JT site. Neither the postings nor the subject of the postings was mentioned in the commentary.

What I found troubling about the commentary from two experienced educators was their stance on the criticism of students. "Criticism is not getting the child the help he or she needs. We need to stand up and stand by our children." And to "criticize, ridicule or stereotype is not helping to correct anything." As an aside, I would agree that ridiculing and stereotyping are not helpful. "If we expect the best from our children, we need to provide the best in terms of encouragement and reinforcement."

Is it not OK to criticize a student? Will a child be prepared for life if he or she never encounters criticism?

Sadly, education today is all about self esteem, whether warranted or not. Constant praise without firm criticism and discipline will create self absorbed, ill prepared prima donnas unable to accept or evaluate criticism from others.

Methinks some well deserved criticism might be constructive.

Leadership Needed

A few years ago, I saw in the distance a large group of people walking in my direction. They all were wearing the same tee shirt except for the lady in front who was carrying a clip board. As I got closer, I saw that the lady was wearing clothes with a Johnson Bank or other Johnson company logo on it. The people behind her were wearing Leadership Racine shirts. I was amused as I thought that these future leaders looked like dutiful followers to me.

I can agree with Leadership Racine in that we need leaders in the Racine area. But I have my doubts about this program.

Leadership Racine Advisory Board Chairman David Maack touted the program in today's Racine Journal Times. "The mission of Leadership Racine is to build community trusteeship of strong, diverse and knowledgeable leaders." This is done through a nine month program consisting of an orientation retreat, exposure to current community leaders, visits to non-profit agencies throughout the community, and group work on a sustainable project. Noteably absent from this program is any assessment, challenge, or criticism of our current leaders and or the paths they have taken thus far.

I do think that Leadership Racine participants have had some positive accomplishments, some of which were noted in the JT article. However, what is missing in my view is any evidence that the existing leaders in Racine, such as those that initiated Leadership Racine, are looking for anything other than followers to continue in their footsteps.

Racine does need leadership, that is for sure. But a leader must be willing to stand alone and to challenge the status quo. I see no evidence that Leadership Racine participants are being trained to do so.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Charity Chatter

Hardly a day goes by that I don't have someone entering my business seeking a donation for a worthy cause. If I could, I would give to large donations to everyone. But I can't.

Lately I have been responding to the unsolicited appeals for donations with unsolicited fund raising advice. For example, I tell them that I do fund raisers in hospitals, wherein I sell my wares and give a percentage to the hospital. This way I raise money for a good cause while also helping my business grow and prosper. If I just give too much away, my business will fail and both parties will suffer.

What frustrates me with local fund raising efforts is the lack of imagination. The typical formula is to hold an event for area elites, liquor them up and hope that they buy the items donated by local businesses. There is nothing wrong with this idea except that it is getting quite old and I suspect that some of our wealthier residents are probably experiencing charity fatigue.

There must be some better ideas out there. I have been wondering if I should tell donation soliciters to register their charity with my business and then send customers my way. I could keep track of their purchases and then send a percentage of the sale to the charity of their choice. Perhaps the money I lose by donating could be offset by additional customers motivated to help the cause of their choice. Maybe this could be a win win situation for my business and for local charities.

Any other ideas?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Assessing Assessments

I recently had my downtown property reassessed at $478,000, from $252,000. This seemed like a hefty increase, so I trecked down to the assessors office to look into the matter. I sat down with the assessor Ray who showed me some comparable properties and their values per square foot. Based on the comparisons he offered, I had nothing to complain about. But before leaving, I bought a list of all the Main and 6th Street property values.

So I have been walking up and down Main and 6th the last few days looking at properties. As I contemplate challenging my assessment, I find myself devaluing my own property relative to others when admittedly I would do just the opposite if I were trying to sell my building.

Anyway, though I can not be trusted to be objective here, I will nonetheless offer my observations. The thing that jumps out the most is that Jim Spodick and Mr. Choi are getting raked over the coals with their assessments. For example, the building at 515 6th Street, a three story, 20 foot wide building that houses Wilbur's, has an asseement of $454,000, while the building next door, also three stories and 20 feet wide, is valued at $190,000. Mr. Choi owns an eyesore on 6th, a vacant one story eyesore that used to be a music store, that has been valued at $348,000. Of course, if you paid $348,000 for an eyesore, it would be hard to argue that it is not worth $348,000.

On the low end of the spectrum is Porter's, though it takes up nearly the entire block, it is valued at only $560,000. Also very low is the former YMCA on 6th Street that houses the 6th Street Theatre and includes four storefronts. It is enormous yet is vauled at just $360,000. Most of the small buildings lining Main Street are modestly assessed.

My overall impression is that newly purchased buildings or newly renovated buildings are getting hammered while people who have owned property for a long time without renovating have artificially low assessments. Given what appears to be unequitable assessments, their is an incentive to hang on to properties and not update them. As usual, the city is doing things all wrong when it comes to redevelopment efforts. If anything, we should be assessing vacant decaying buildings somewhat higher, while not punishing development quite so much. I won't be holding my breath.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Carrots Please

My downtown property was just reassessed at a value of $478,000, from $252,000 a year ago. The main reason for this increase is that I invested in my building, converting a large empty space into two apartments. So starting next year, my property taxes will go nearly double to about $10,000. This increase will take a huge bite out of the profit I had hoped to gain by working and investing.

Now my point here is not merely to complain about my situation. Rather, it is to question our collective approach to development here in Racine.

If you look around Racine, you will notice a few things. You will notice areas where properties are in poor shape, ie low property value. You will also notice a near total absence of undeveloped areas, such as farms. As such, if Racine wants to increase its property tax base, it is imperative that existing properties be upgraded.

Presently, property owners who are allowing their properties to decline in value are subject to the property police, called UNIT, and their unconstitution fines masquerading as fees. Those who invest in their properties will be slammed with huge tax increases.

The city has a stick only approach to development. How about some carrots?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Predatory Taxpayers

Congratulations taxpayers. You are about to invest in the subprime commercial loan business.

County Executive Bill McRyneolds has proposed the use $250,000 or more from our reserves to "create a revolving loan fund to be used only by small businesses in Racine County." The county "would realize a return of 1.5 to 2 percent." "The borrowers may be people with poor credit histories, bankruptcies in their past or women disadvantaged by divorce" the Journal Times reports that McReynolds has said. "Naturally they're going to have defaults, but their default rate is not much bigger than a commercial bank from what I've been told."

By now we ought to know what happens when risky loans go belly up. The borrowers claim victim status and accuses the lender of predatory practices. That makes you, the taxpayer, the predatory lender.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Partisan Papers

Dustin Block at the Racine Post has written a commentary on the decline of the local newspaper and what to do about it. I won't quibble about what he has written, but I do think it is incomplete.

Dustin ignores the issue of the political ideology of the newspaper. Does this matter? I think it does.

Like it or not, there is a political divide in this country. This breaks down largely as a conservative/liberal or Democrat/Republican divide. People just see issues from different perspectives and this tends to impact a journalists work, whether consciously or unconsciously.

The vast majority of journalists for local newspapers (if the JT is any indication) tend to be liberals. The first order of business for a newspaper would be to recognize that fact and to recognize that they risk alienating or ignoring half of their potential customers. The obvious answer to this problem would be to actively seek out journalists that bring the perspective that is lacking. The JT has not done so and there is no indication that they even recognize the problem.

I suspect that Dustin also does not recognize the problem. For example, Dustin mentions health care a few times, suggesting that there should be local articles written about this national problem. Fair enough, but I have read several of Dustin's articles about health care problems and they tend to suggest that socialized medicine is the answer.

But does Dustin know that some people are greatly helped by Health Savings Accounts. Will we read that article in the Racine Post or the Racine Journal Times? I doubt it.

So I will make my story available to the Journal Times or the Racine Post. I can tell them how I save over ten thousand dollars every year. I can offer that local angle on a national issue, only it is not something that liberals like very much. Will either the Journal Times or the Racine Post put aside partisan ideology and write a story about HSA's? We shall see.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tolerate my Intolerance

Do liberals understand how silly it is to demand tolerance and acceptance? "Children should be taught tolerance and acceptance" according to JT letter writer Jennifer Feuker who was responding to previous letters concerning issues relating to homosexuality. Feuker was very critical of the sentiments, real or imagined, of letter writer Barbara Kortendick, going so far as to call Kortendick "obviously ignorant" and to suggest that Kortendick believes in a hate-filled God.

Now how exactly do I follow Feuker's tolerance and acceptance mandate? If I am to be tolerant and accepting, don't I have to tolerate and accept both Feuker and Kortendick's viewpoints?

Like most liberals, Feuker does not really believe in tolerance and acceptance. What Feuker and other liberals want is for you to tolerate and accept their viewpoints while rejecting (neither tolerating or accepting) opposing viewpoints.

I won't stand for that hypocrisy and if you have a problem with that you should learn to tolerate, accept and even celebrate my point of view.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Just Wondering

If America got what it deserved on 9-11 for its alleged terrorism, (Hiroshima etc..) what do white Americans deserve for the undeniable crimes of slavery and lynchings?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Silence No More

Park High School senior Uriel Gomez, a gay male, has been nominated for prom queen. But Park activities director says "No, don't do it."

Have we learned nothing from Horlick's day of silence? LGBT kids are getting bullied right here, right now by the patriarchal, intolerant administration at Park. If a boy wants to be a queen and his fellow students elect him queen, then so be it. Gender is just a social construct anyway, right?

Don't let them get away with this kids. Organize a march to district headquarters. Call the ACLU. How about some civil disobedience? A sit-in perhaps. Use your imagination kids, but don't be silent in the face of this discrimination.

Our current prom is exclusive, hierarchical, classist, elitist, racist, homophobic, conservative, intolerant, sexist, Eurocentric, you name it. Now is the time to change it! It is time to have a more inclusive prom court, with boy queens and girl kings and transgender, uh, keens and quings and multiple kings and queens for the bisexuals. But why stop there? We could have visiting king and queen courts to celebrate the diversity offered by our underdocumented students. How about a Green Queen? The possibilities are endless.

Go for it kids!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RUSD Radicals

If you want to get our local public school kids riled up enough to write a letter the the JT, all you need to do is challenge liberal orthodoxy on environmental issues, school funding, the gay activist agenda, or on illegal immigration. The most politically active children in our local public schools are embracing a radically leftist political agenda. Is this just coincidence or is this the result of the "education" that they are receiving?

Cost of Global Warming?

In an editorial calling for wind power turbines on Lake Michigan, the JT argues that the price of fossil fuels will increase, in part, because of "the cost of global warming." They offered no explanation as to why global warming would result in higher fossil fuel prices, as though it is so obvious that the reasons need not be mentioned. But it is not obvious to me.

So I will open up the question to readers. Assuming global warming exists, would it drive up fuel costs, and if so, why?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Anon's Inner Commie

Anon's distorted interpretation of the following quote from Pope John Paul II is used to support his desire for communism.

“It is necessary to state once more the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a "social mortgage," which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods .”

Anon, the US is not a theocracy. We have no established religion. We have a secular government by design. We don't take orders from the pope, nor would he want it that way, I am sure.

Even if you accept the notion that private property is under a "social mortgage", it is a huge leap to conclude that government should hold the title to said mortgage. The pope said nothing of the sort in the quote you offer, nor I suspect has he ever indicated that the state should play that role. In fact, the opposite is true. The pope was a strong opponent of the communism that you evidently wish to force upon others.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dog Decades

Racine has bitten the hand that feeds it. It hasn't let go for fourty years. The majority think the answer is to sink the teeth still deeper. The dog that is Racine is hungry and angry and doesn't know why.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poor Developments

I know this is old news, but I couldn't help but notice the difference in tone, from our political leaders including Mayor Becker, concerning recent development proposals.

Becker et al seem hostile to a lakefront development that, to the best of my limited knowledge of the subject, would not require government subsidy. Meanwhile, Becker eagerly seeks to continue efforts to seek state subsidies for a housing/retail development along State Street.

Is Racine sending the message that we wish to deter people who will buy homes while trying to attract people who can't afford homes?

Indoctrination High

Within the last year or so, Horlick students have secured buses, matching shirts, and informational flyers to help get out the vote in favor of a school referendum. Busloads of Horlick students have also gathered, during school, at a rally supporting the interests of illegal aliens. And now, students are partaking in a "Day of Silence" in support of the LGBT community. In this case, school officials have distributed a document prepared by Lamba Legal, an outside organization that lobbies for LGBT issues and have prepared stickers for students who wish to participate.

These political events have all been assisted, financially and otherwise, by outside groups including the Racine Education Association, Voces a la Frontera (pardon my Espanol), and Lamda Legal.

But the folks at Horlick seem to want us to believe that these efforts are all led by the children. I know that kids can be resouceful, but please. Does anyone actually think that the kids could or would initiate these political activities without the active leadership of the teachers and administrators? Do the folks at Horlick think we are morons?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Question of the Day

Does the response of "War is not the Answer" depend on the question?

HSA Attack

I have a health savings account. For those unfamiliar with HSA's, it is a tax deductable and high deductible health insurance plan. It saves me thousands of dollars every year and is available to me because I own a business. It should be available to everyone, only the political left does not want it to happen.

I recently learned from a Wall Street Journal article that the House has passed legislation that would require me to check with some new government bureaucracy every time I needed to withdraw money from my account. In theory, this would prevent me from using my tax deductable health account money on a new Ipod or an oil change.

In reality, this proposed law would needlessly expand government while making the easy-to-use HSA's a real headache. Keep in mind that my HSA activity is already subject to an audit, so creating a new enforcement bureau would be redundant.

HSA's are a partial answer to growing health care costs. Democrats don't like them because, well, it is a free market solution and it is a step away from socialized medicine.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Settled Opinion

Local Dominican nun Agnes Schneider says "you never settle anything by war."

Do any of my readers believe such nonsense, and if so, how was the issue of whether or not to exterminate Jews settled?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Becker Calls for School Vouchers

OK, sorry about the sensational, blatantly false headline. Mayor Becker did not call for school vouchers. Nor is he likely to lead any effort to that effect because he is a liberal. He did, however, provide a solid argument that is consistent with arguments in favor of school vouchers. Here is what he said in his state of the city speech:

"The world is not going to stop changing because those of us in Racine find it uncomfortable or difficult to continue to adapt to a new world. The key to the future of our city is in doing everything we can to make education at all levels accessible. Whether is it K-12, technical, university, or on-the-job training, the people of Racine need to take advantage of educational opportunities unless they want to be on the bottom of the economic ladder. In addition, we must make our city attractive to others who can bring key skills and creativity to our community."

Becker is right to emphasize the importance of education and he is right again to say that we should make every effort to take advantage of educational opportunities and to make education more accessible.

One way to do exactly that is to allow Racine's families greater access to some of our many fine (and in some cases, financially distressed) private schools. School vouchers would do the trick.

Racine could be at the forefront of educational innovation, attracting educational entrepreneurs, families and future leaders with a one of a kind universal voucher system.

The mayor rightly criticized protectionism in his speech as he implores us to embrace globalization. Does he realize that he, other liberals, and the teachers union is fully engaged in educational protectionism? If he really wants educational improvements, he will have to take on the protectionists and begin to question his own protectionist philosophy.

Teaching Leftism at Horlick

Horlick High School has apparently designated April 25th as The Day of Silence "to protest the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bullying" according to a letter written to the Journal Times. "Participants are asked to take a vow of silence to represent the silence faced by LGBT every day."

The notion that gay activists have been silenced is a highly dubious claim. The fact that gay activists have infiltrated our public schools and are shaping curriculum suggests political power, not silence.

My point here is not to suggest that gay people are entirely safe from bullying. Rather, it is that Horlick is pushing a leftist activist agenda upon students. They are indoctrinating your children.

If you think I am mistaken, try to imagine a Horlick sponsored Day of Silence to protest the voices silenced forever by abortion.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Trying to converse with anon and Michael G reminds me of the last editorial I submitted to the Journal Times a few years back. They didn't print it, for reasons which will become apparent. Here it is:

I recently asked a professional writer how I might improve my writing. The suggestion was to vary my style, to depart a bit from my usual straightforward, logical approach. Perhaps add some colorful language, some pizzazz. I will give it a try.

We have a crisis looming in our country, like a dark cloud gathering on the horizon... No, that just won’t do... Every two bit writer uses dark clouds on the horizon. I need something better... more ominous... I got it. The crisis is like a mushroom cloud, lunging towards the playground, with big cat paws, swiping at the tender flesh, indifferent to the hopeless cries, the boiling tears... Ah yes, that was beautiful. I am getting the hang of this.

You will be shocked when I reveal the nature of this crisis. Shocked I tell you, like a gonad in Guantanamo. Shocked, like a web surfing local Democrat, like a Halliburton executive losing a no bid contract, like an owl spotting construction equipment, like a public school teacher with a doctor’s bill.

No, it is not the threat posed to the purity of Christian matrimony by the Sodomites seeking state sanction for their sickness, looking to license libidinous lifestyles, accessing acceptance of abominable activities.

It is not the threat of referendum failure, which will turn our houses into liabilities, our children into murderous bloodthirsty gangsters, our playgrounds into opium dens. It is not the associated greed of the penny clutching taxpayers, their unrelenting selfishness, their congealing hearts.

Can you guess the cause of our impending doom? Of course you can’t, you stupid bastard! You could depress the IQ score of entire nations. Your brain has deteriorated like a bank account in the Carter era, like the face of a Cheney chum, like a cafĂ© in Jerusalem. The drooling, helmeted occupants of the small yellow bus are pointing and laughing at you. Get a life you loser!

Maybe the problem is the niggardly Republicans, determined to spark a race war for the NRA, coupling with the Christians, creating an unholy alliance with the holier than thou, careening society with Hitleresque efficiency towards a merciless theocracy. But not without their pew puppets, tomorrow’s purity police, soothed into certainty by self serving sermons. But alas, it is not the Republicans.

Is it the Democrats, and their condescending intellectualism, and the endless experimentation with discredited Utopian schemes? Is it their Robin Hood politics, offering equal doses of lethargy, sloth and entitlement to consume us. Is it the in-your-face hedonism redefined as virtue? Is it the hypocrisy of preaching equality while amassing political power? Is it their own dangerous religion, the unshakable faith in government, facts and evidence be damned? No, it is not the Demoncrats.

Is it the twin evils of corporatism and consumerism, strip mining our souls? Are we feeding these beasts as they rape the planet, puncturing the pristine Arctic, a fools rush for liquid gold?
Who cares! Let our children deal with the cascading icebergs and bloated polar bear carcasses washing ashore in coastal Colorado.

Mexicans swarming, global warming, gangsta rap, media pap, Islamic threats, Boomer debts, oil spills, corporate frills, voter fraud, system flawed, traffic jams, nuisance spam, toxic sludge, trans fat pudge, mad cow slaughter, poisoned water, molesting priests, earmark feasts, ozone holes, extinction woes, health care blues, Avian flu, doped-up jocks, imploding stocks, gays are bedding, AIDS is spreading, are we headin towards Armegeddon? NO!!! This is not the crisis!

Have I been sufficiently titillating? Have I aroused your interest? Are you ready for the nail gouging, bed board rattling, wake-the-neighbors climax? Well I am going to give it to you baby!
The crisis we are facing is..........the end of reasoned discourse... Duh!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Having it Both Ways

When you engage RUSD supporters in debate, it doesn't take long to discover their two major excuses for poor performance and high costs.

Excuse number one: We have lousy students and lousy parents.

Excuse number two: Special Ed kids are very expensive.

For the record, I think that there is some and perhaps a lot of truth to these excuses. But that is not exactly the point I wish to make.

Certainly, if RUSD wished to elevate test scores and lower costs, they could do so by ridding themselves of lousy students and handicapped children. So why isn't RUSD initiating efforts to unload some of these expensive, good for nothing children on the private sector?

Answer: You will have to pry those kids from their cold dead hands. RUSD needs those kids more than they need solid academic performers. Why?

Answer: Like all public school kids, they equal money, lots of money. Fewer kids means less money, fewer teachers, fewer administrators, less power etc... But these kids bring money and handy excuses for RUSD's academic failings while obscuring the real reason a RUSD education is so costly, and that is salaries and benefits that far exceed that offered in the private sector.

RUSD wants it both ways. They want to complain incessantly about lousy students and the financial burdens of special ed kids, but they will fight tooth and nail to keep them. Let's not let them get away with it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

RUSD and Slavery

The Racine Unified School Board is asking for your help in choosing the next superintendent of schools.

Isn't this a bit like asking a slave what crops to plant?

The important consideration for RUSD parents and slaves alike is freedom to make real choices, like whether to attend a private school or to leave the plantation. But both masters deny the only choice that matters.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tennis Courts Disappoint

The city installed a new surface over the old tennis courts at Lakeview Park. I had a chance to try out the courts the other day. Unfortunately, it was a major disappointment. It took all of twenty seconds to realize that the ball would often bounce in an unexpected manner, which is the same problem with the unmaintained, crack ridden courts of old.

The court technology is interesting and perhaps promising. It consists of interlocking porous plastic (or like material) squares which move slightly as you move. I suspect this may be easier on the legs and allow for quick drainage after a rain.

After deciding that the courts are inferior to a maintained asphalt surface, we tried a few experiments. We dropped a tennis ball on one of the lines from about three feet off the ground. The ball seldom bounced straight up and down and often bounced up to eight inches in any direction. Also, we discovered several dead spots where the ball hardly bounced at all. It appeared as though the underlying surface was uneven, so the court offered no resistance, thus, no bounce.

All in all, the courts are a major disappointment and are far inferior to asphalt courts properly maintained.