Posts tagged ‘Wisconsin’

05/15/2012

Campaign Ads: Walker Hurts Wisconsin

I regret to inform you, as I report from Madison: The entire State of Wisconsin is now burning, and the flames are spreading, due to a non-stop carpet-bombing political campaign launched by Gov. Walker, which has fully consumed our air waves with a massive barrage of negative TV ads, designed to demonize Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by viciously targeting our largest city.

During these turbulent political times, while we cannot escape the disinformation generated by Walker’s henchmen, and the propaganda funded by his wealthy out-of-state allies, Middle Class Wisconsinites, favoring the June 5 Recall, can respond through a word-of-mouth ground game. Consider these words:

Walker’s trashing of Milwaukee in his TVs ads is hurting all Wisconsinites, because our biggest city is the window through which most visitors view our state. The economic ripple effects from Milwaukee are great, and extend well beyond Republican Waukesha County. We all sink or swim together.

While Walker claims Milwaukee is the third worst city in the nation, most would pick it any day over Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, or a whole host of others, too numerous to list.

A good governor would extol the virtues of our largest city, not slander it. If after this Recall, Milwaukee is completely destroyed, like Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and nothing but smoke rises from the ashes, then what Mr. Walker? How will you attract new industry, once the reputation of Wisconsin’s urban base is totally gone?

02/20/2012

Wisconsin College Names: Good & Bad

While researching Wisconsin universities, I looked at their names and asked: Do they matter in terms of attracting students or gaining national recognition?

Wisconsin has 40 public universities and technical schools, including, 13 four-year and 13 two-year University of Wisconsin campuses, as well as 14 two-year state-funded technical schools. Of the state’s 20 non-public institutions, Lawrence, Beloit, Ripon, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, are well-known secular schools, while the other 16 have religious affiliations. [1]

Best Wisconsin College Names

MARQUETTE, in Milwaukee, has a good name, as it conjures up images of Father Jacques Marquette, the French missionary who canoed down the Fox and Wis. Rivers in 1673.

LAWRENCE, a private university, has a nice ring to it. It’s named after philanthropist Amos Lawrence, an Episcopalian, who along with two Methodist ministers, established the college in Appleton in 1847, in what was then the Wisconsin territory.

BELOIT is a strong name. It is easy to locate, as it is in the city bearing the same name. When founded in 1946, it was linked to the Congregationalists. Those ties were cut to become secular.

RIPON, founded in 1851, was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. They became a secular private college in 1868.

The MILWAUKEE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING, founded in 1903, has a good name, as it clearly indicates where the college is located, and what studies they emphasize.

EDGEWOOD, a small Catholic college in Madison, has a pleasant sound. SILVER LAKE, just west of Manitowoc, on a water body bearing the same name, also has a title worth keeping.

CARROLL, founded in 1846, is a Presbyterian university, named after Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

CARTHAGE, a Lutheran college that opened in Hillsboro, Illinois, adopted their current name in 1870, when they moved to Carthage, Illinois. They relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1962.

CONCORDIA, in Mequon, Wisconsin, has an acceptable small college title, as it is named after a branch of the Lutheran Church.

NORTHLAND COLLEGE, up in the north woods at Ashland, with only 700 students, might be better off as Ashland College, so people could find it, but Northland sounds rugged and refreshing.

LAKELAND COLLEGE, in rural Plymouth, WI, just west of Sheboygan, should take a more specific label, like Sheboygan College, to make it easier to locate, but anything with lake is fine.

UW COLLEGES AND TECH SCHOOLS WITH CITY NAMES: Eleven 4-year, [2] and eight 2-year [3] campuses of the University of Wisconsin system, did it right, when they inserted their city names in their titles. Three state-funded tech schools also made the smart move by incorporating city names on their banners. [4]

Colleges that need Name Changes

MARANATHA, a very small Baptist bible college in Watertown, wins the award for the absolute worst Wisconsin college name. Doesn’t it look like it’s misspelled? Change it now, please.

MT. MARY, a small Catholic college in Milwaukee, should change their name. It’s like Martinez in Mexico, or Chin in China. Too many schools have the word “Mary” in their titles. Mary is not unique, and will never stand out. Catholics in the U.S. have: six St. Mary’s Colleges, three called Mount St. Mary’s, one labeled the U. of Mary, and another known as St. Mary Magdalen. The parade continues with: Marymount, Marywood, Maryhurst, Marygrove and Maryhurst. Let’s not forget Mary Manse. If you don’t like English, there’s always Maria, Ava Maria and Villa Maria. Mt. Mary should come up with an entirely new name, for themselves, Cardinal Stritch, and Alverno, all in Milwaukee.

CARDINAL STRITCH, a Catholic college in Milwaukee, has a very unattractive title, as it conjures up images of an old crusty man, dressed like a bishop, certain not draw persons of other faiths to the school. Mt. Mary, Alverno and Cardinal Stritch, all in Milwaukee need to consolidate, under an entirely new name.

ALVERNO, a small Catholic college in Milwaukee, started out as St. Joseph’s in 1887, and made the error of changing to Alverno Teacher’s College in 1936. While “Alverno” is a mountain in Italy, Milwaukee’s South Side, where the college is located, is predominantly Polish-American, and it has no hills, let alone mountains. A better name would be South Milwaukee College.

VITERBO, a small Catholic university in La Crosse, started out in St. Rose’s in 1890, and was renamed Viterbo in 1937, in honor of an Italian province near Rome. Viterbo is simply not a good fit for Western Wisconsin, where there are no Italian-Americans. Nobody out there has a name ending in O, except Domino’s Pizza. Change the name to La Crosse-Viterbo College, and after five years, drop Viterbo altogether, to make it La Crosse College.

MARIAN, another small Catholic college in Fond du Lac, should change their name, as it is derived from the word “Mary,” which as we know, should never be used. See Mt. Mary, above. Fond du Lac University would be more unique.

ST. NORBERT was founded in 1898 by a Norbertine priest in West de Pere, outside Green Bay. It’s named after Norbert of Xanten, born in Germany in 1080. It would have made more sense to name it after Jean Nicolet, the first French settler in 1634, but since the college has used the name for 114 years, maybe all we can do now is drop the word “Saint,” as it must surely depress non-Catholic enrollment. Let’s just call it Norbert College.

UW-PARKSIDE is in Kenosha, but I had to look it up to be sure. It was named Parkside to please the City of Racine, to the north, and Kenosha, to the south. Since it’s technically in the City of Kenosha, get over it Racine, and just rename it UW-Kenosha.

UW-STOUT, originally a private college in Menomonie, is named after James Stout, the man who founded it in 1891. It became a state college when Stout died in 1911. Who would object if the school was now renamed UW-Menomonie?

Two-year campuses in the Fox and Chippewa River valleys also need relabeling, as their titles make their locations too vague. UW-FOX VALLEY should become UW-Menasha, FOX VALLEY TECH should be Appleton Tech, and CHIPPEWA VALLEY TECH should be relabeled Eau Claire Tech.

The 2-year campuses in the UW system named after counties, should also adopt city names. UW-BARRON COUNTY should become UW-Rice Lake, UW-MARATHON COUNTY should be UW-Wausau, UW-ROCK COUNTY should be UW-Janesville, and UW-WASHINGTON COUNTY should be UW-West Bend.

The name LAKESHORE TECH is too vague, as it doesn’t specify a body of water. When I looked it up, I found it exactly halfway between Manitowoc and Sheboygan, in Cleveland, Wisconsin, a tiny place, selected to appease both cities. While it would be too confusing to rename it Cleveland Tech, it could become Manitowoc Tech, in recognition of the County where it is located.

Six technical schools should abandon their regional Wisconsin labels, and adopt city names: WESTERN TECH should become La Crosse Tech, MID-STATE TECH should be Wis. Rapids Tech, SOUTHWEST TECH should be Fennimore Tech, NORTH-CENTRAL TECH should be Wausau Tech, GATEWAY TECH should be Kenosha Tech, and MORAINE PARK TECH should be renamed Fond du Lac Tech. Two technical schools, BLACKHAWK TECH, named after a Native American tribe, should become Janesville Tech, and INDIANHEAD TECH should be renamed Rice Lake Tech.


[1] Carroll College (Presbyterian), Lakeland and Northland (both United Church of Christ), Maranatha (Baptist), Carthage, Concordia, and Wisconsin Lutheran (all Lutheran). Marquette University, Edgewood, Silver Lake, Marian, St. Norbert, Viterbo, Mt. Mary, Cardinal Stritch, and Alverno (all Catholic).

[2] UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Platteville, UW-Green Bay, UW-River Falls, UW-Superior, and UW-Whitewater.

[3] UW-Baraboo, UW-Marshfield, UW-Richland Center, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, UW-Sheboygan, and UW-Waukesha.

[4] Milwaukee Area Technical College, Madison Technical College, and Waukesha Technical College.

02/18/2012

Republican Rebirth at Ripon–Part IV

Under my Republican “Rebirth at Ripon” plan, conservatives would be required to take the following SENIOR YEAR classes:

Fourth Year—First Semester

PS: 403:  FREE SPEECH: Never advocate censorship of content, but use the “commerce clause” to regulate cable TV monopolies. Implement regulations to protect consumers from cell phone company abuse. Understand the preference for more speech, not less. Never advocate, as Romney did, the elimination of the Public Broadcasting Corporation. It’s our only objective TV source.

PS: 420: WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: Study the history of the GATT. How is the WTO organized? Why do tariffs, import quotas, and other trade barriers violate WTO rules? What trade cases may be brought before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body? Don’t pander to voters who seek protectionism. Explain the WTO.

EC: 460: ECON: ANTITRUST: What are the logical extremes of unregulated capitalism? What happens to prices when one, or a few companies, control of the market? Even Republicans should be willing to stop one company from taking over an entire market. Accept the need to break up monopolies with antitrust laws.

EC: 410: ECON OF PUBLIC BUDGET: Learn the history of our National Debt and annual budget deficits. Why did Republicans shift from taxation to borrow-and-spend policies? How much did the National Debt increase since Reagan implemented supply-side economics? How much has the “interest on the debt” portion of the budget grown? Does an increase in the Debt Ceiling cause additional spending, or simply allow more borrowing to pay for funds already spent? Would a Balanced Budget Amendment pass? Would it do any good? What wasteful spending could be saved by cutting corporate welfare and military operations overseas?

LAW: 450: INTERNATIONAL LAWS OF WAR: Study the Hague and Geneva Conventions, containing the ban on torture, and rights of non-combatants to be heard in civilian courts. Learn what rights prisoners-of-war have under the Geneva Conventions. When can military commissions and tribunals be used, instead of civilian courts? Close Guantanamo Bay; it’s a major embarrassment. Have respect for international law.

Fourth Year—Second Semester

PS: 450: FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE: Learn to oppose dictators, tyrants, and absolute monarchs. Don’t befriend them for strategic reasons. Support democracy and free elections. Focus on our U.S. national security interests, not those of Israel. When is military use justified? What rebellions should we support? Who should receive foreign aid, and why?

EC: 490: ECON: HOUSING: What caused the mortgage foreclosure crisis? To what extent did “adjustable rate mortgages” contribute to the problem? What are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? What is the purpose of the Community Development Act? How should mortgage-backed securities be regulated? How are jobs created in the construction industry? To what extent do “supply and demand” set housing prices? What effect do low interest rates normally have on housing starts?

EC: 430: ECON OF TAX POLICY: The 16th Amendment was ratified to tax the incomes of the very rich. Would it be fair to tax those who receive unearned incomes from interest, dividends, and capital gains, at the same rates as those paid ordinary income from regular employment? Since corporations are treated like persons when it comes to rights, like their ability to contribute to political campaigns, shouldn’t they pay income taxes just like everyone else? Should the cap on payroll taxes, which protects higher income persons, be eliminated? Understand why the sales tax is regressive and would hurt the poor the most. Should the federal estate tax be applied to estates of less than one million dollars?

EC: 490: ECON OF THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY: Study the success and failures of the so-called war on drugs, and its affect on supply, demand, pricing, and our relations with Mexico.

LAW: 460: ISRAEL AND INTERNATIONAL LAW: Stop pandering to Israel, and at least understand the Palestinian view. Read the countless number of UN resolutions critical of Israel for their occupation of Palestine. Understand that every UN member, except the U.S., has voted against Israel, and the only reason the U.S. stands alone with them, despite their ongoing violations of international law, is the Israeli Lobby controls the U.S. Congress and our foreign policy. Be an honest broker and learn both sides.

02/17/2012

Republican Rebirth at Ripon–Part III

Under my Republican “Rebirth at Ripon” plan, conservatives would be required to take the following JUNIOR YEAR classes:

Third Year—First Semester

HIS: 330: WWII AND ITS ORIGINS: Learn what caused the German aggression in Poland, and the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Know the WWII battles and the price each nation paid. Study the Soviet experience on the Eastern Front, which caused their postwar fear of another invasion, in the subsequent Cold War. As the war ended, how did the UN change world order?

PS: 310: UNITED NATIONS: Learn the organizational structure of the UN and the content of Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Understand every nation on earth, except Israel and the U.S., support statehood for Palestine. Accept the UN as a valuable organization. Don’t threaten to defund it. Work with it.

EC: 350: ECON: HEALTH CARE: Admit the U.S. has a health care crisis. How would the single-payer Canadian system work? Why do European systems, like the one in the Netherlands based on private insurance, work so much better than ours? Why are insurance premiums so high in the U.S.? Can we actually decide on the amount of an affordable premium? How much profit is taken from premiums by the insurance industry? How can we control health care costs? What’s wrong with fee-for-service billing? How much in profits do health care providers take from each bill? Can we at least agree on Medicare facts? Who would lose under Ryan’s voucher plan? Since workers comp and auto insurances are required, can health insurance also be mandated? What phys. ed. and nutrition classes should be taught in schools?

EC: 340: ECON: SOCIAL SECURITY: Learn the history of Social Security retirement. How do European systems work? What would be the economic risks of privatizing retirement in the market? What if the elderly lost all their savings in the market?

LAW: 315: ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: Accept the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate business, by delegating the authority to write rules to various administrative agencies. Stop trying to close agencies and departments. Make them more efficient.

Third Year—Second Semester

HIS: 320: MODERN MIDEAST HISTORY: All aspiring politicians must learn Mideast history, from the end of WWI, when the Ottoman Empire dissolved, through the present. What was the “Balfour Declaration”? What happened after Britain received a League of Nations mandate to govern Palestine? What Arab-Israeli conflicts subsequently erupted in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and Golan Heights? Understand the Palestinian view regarding the 1967 borders. Don’t just pander to Israel.

PS: 320: EUROPEAN UNION: Learn the history and structure of the European Union, and the EU Monetary Union, as to the Euro crisis. Should Britain adopt the Euro? Understand how the EU Monetary Union constrains national monetary and fiscal policies. Don’t just say the Greek debt crisis is their problem, as the U.S. is now part of a global economy. We simply cannot ignore Europe.

EC: 330: LABOR ECONOMICS: Know the U.S. government would have been overthrown in the 1930s if the right to organize unions, right to strike, and right to bargain collectively had not been allowed. Learn what causes recession and unemployment. Study fiscal and monetary tools for controlling downturns. Stop saying we would be better off without minimum wage laws– it’s embarrassing. Know the workplace is much safer now thanks to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Stop trying to dismantle the National Labor Relations Board. Just work with it.

EC: 350: ECON: INTERNATIONAL TRADE: What are the economics of free trade and protectionism? Do tariffs lead to retaliatory tariffs and overall reductions in trade? What was the effect of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act? What about politically based economic sanctions? Learn the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941 was caused by a U.S. trade embargo; that sanctions against the white racist South African regime helped bring them down; and the 50-year U.S. trade embargo against Cuba failed, because the world refused to join. Study trade; don’t just use it to pander.

LAW: 325: PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW: Learn the U.S. is not the master of the world. 193 nations belong to the UN. Treaties are the principle way in which international law is written and the U.S. is not above it–we have an obligation to obey it. Stop acting like a Texas cowboy in foreign affairs.

02/16/2012

Republican Rebirth at Ripon–Part II

Under my Republican “Rebirth at Ripon” plan, conservatives would be required to take the following sophomore year classes:

Second Year—First Semester

HIS: 240: ASIAN COLONIAL HISTORY: Study Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British colonial history in Asia. Learn the U.S. joined the European club, when we seized the Philippines. Understand what caused the Chinese Boxer Rebellion (1900), the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor (1941), the Korean War (1950), and Vietnam’s struggle against French and American white rule.

PS: 270: LEGISLATIVE POLITICS: What role do lobbyists play in law-making? How can their influence be reduced? What problems arise when people like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accept money from Fannie and Freddie to lobby Congress?

EC: 240: ECON: AGRICULTURE: Why did the capitalist free market fail in the Great Depression? Why does the U.S. subsidize farm products? What benefits are gained from a controlled farm economy? What would happen to the rural economy, if subsides were eliminated? If politicians abolish foods stamps, and totally ignore poverty and hunger, would there be a revolution?

EC: 250: ECON OF MANUFACTURING: Learn the economics of manufacturing and the challenges associated with international trade. Was it good to save the auto industry from bankruptcy? If they had shut down, what ripple effects would have occurred?

LAW: 260: CON LAW: PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT: Learn the Declaration of Independence (1776), often quoted by Gingrich, is not law, and the Constitution, first adopted in 1788, is our fundamental law. What is the line between states’ rights and federal power? Know what the “separation of powers” means, and don’t threaten to subpoena judges, like Gingrich did. Learn from Ron Paul the need to actually declare war, before getting into one. Know what powers belong to the Commander-in-Chief, and what he can do through Executive Orders. What does the power to “provide for the general welfare” allow Congress to do? Is there any limit to the Congressional power to regulate commerce?

Second Year—Second Semester

HIS: 250: AFRICAN COLONIAL HISTORY: What is the history of British, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in Africa? Accept and applaud the guerilla tactics used against white rule in Kenya and elsewhere in black Africa.

PS: 280: JUDICIAL POLITICS: Learn there is no objective truth when it comes to legal interpretation. Law is necessarily made by both conservative and liberal judges. Scalia, Thomas, and other right-wingers, are just as active in law-making as liberals.

EC: 260: ECON: TRANSPORTATION: Accept the reality motor vehicles are inefficient in the aggregate. Return to conservative principles, by promoting the efficiencies of mass transportation. What economic benefits would high-speed rail lines provide? Stop turning down federal funds for mass transit.

EC: 270: ECON: EDUCATION: Understand all of society benefits through universal public education. What economic gains can be made by making tuition affordable at public universities? What benefits flowed after WWII from the GI Bill for veterans? Stop promising to close down the Dept. of Education.

LAW: 270: CON LAW: INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS: Develop respect for liberty and individual rights. Learn the difference between scientific fact and religious belief. Be willing to separate church and state, so Santorum types stop promoting religion. Learn it is unconstitutional to require Christian prayers in public schools. Know what is wrong with pepper-spraying students, who have done nothing but peaceably assemble to protest tuition hikes. Read the 2nd Amendment, as it says the right to bear arms only applies to those serving in a well-regulated militia. Learn rights are not enjoyed by “criminals,” but instead by “the accused.” Ron Paul raised good points as to the danger of using profiling to round up suspects. Learn the value of “due process” and jury trials. Compare our system to foreign states where jailed persons sometimes just disappear. What is cruel and unusual punishment? When should the death penalty be used? Does the privatization of prison violate the Constitution? Understand women have a constitutional right to “liberty” to control their own bodies. Accept their right to an abortion, as long as the fetus cannot live outside the womb. Understand why it’s ok for public universities to admit minority students on factors other than GPA and standardized test scores. Actually read case law before speaking.

02/15/2012

Republicans Need A Rebirth At Ripon

The Republican Party, born in a Ripon, Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, has this year fielded candidates so conservative on social, economic, and foreign policy issues, the only chance they have of winning this fall, is if they could somehow move the election date back about 158 years, into the 19th Century.

This year, the GOP introduced Donald, “the carnival barker,” Trump, whose elixir cabinet had a cure for everything. They subjected us to the insufferable Gingrich, a virtual barking dog, whose racist tones would have angered Abe Lincoln. They presented Santorum, the Catholic Crusader, whose efforts to turn America into a Christian Nation, would have offended Thomas Jefferson. They gave us Ron Paul, a man whose absolutist lassie fair economics are so radical, the great Wisconsin Progressive, Sen. Robert La Follette, would have turned in his Republican grave. Finally, we watched Mitt Romney change his position so often, his head surely must be ready to spin off his body, like what happened to the creepy doll in the Exorcist movie.

The Republicans are dying, along with the old schoolhouse in Ripon, where their anti-slavery plank was first adopted in 1854. If America wants to preserve the two-party system, the Republican Party must be reborn. They should save the millions they will spend this year on negative advertising, and instead build a new platform. To put it in words Rick Santorum might understand, they need a “second coming.” They need a rebirth at Ripon.

Ripon College, 75 miles northeast of Madison, and 87 northwest of Milwaukee, should become the birthplace for the “second coming,” that is, after they first open a branch campus in Waukesha County, between Milwaukee and Madison, where most of the state’s wealthy Republicans live. From this new suburban venue, Ripon’s campus of 1,036 students, should launch a moderate Republican curriculum, and bring the party back to life.

Every Republican politician should just stop campaigning right now, and for the next four years, study 40 courses worth 3 credits each, before being allowed in 2016 to return to the campaign trail. The courses the Republicans would be required to take at the “new Ripon,” will be posted on my site over the next 4 days, beginning with the first installment of 10 classes for freshman:

First Year–First Semester

SOC: 101: POPULATION GROWTH: Learn the theory espoused by Thomas Malthus that unrestrained population growth leads to greater food demands, inadequate supplies, and either starvation or war. Can we rationally debate China’s one-child policy, and the problems caused by large families? Can we accept contraception for birth control? Course required for religious fundamentalists.

BIO 110: ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT: Learn the dangers to the environment from coal, gas, oil, and nuclear energy, and the value of alternate sources like wind or solar. Study climate change evidence. Consider the problems that would arise if Republicans actually could abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.

HIS: 150: HISTORY OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTION: Learn how America made a wrong turn at the end of the 19th Century under Republican William McKinley’s foreign policy. Study 20th Century U.S. interventions in the Caribbean, Central America, Asia, and elsewhere. Understand we were not always the good guy portrayed in John Wayne films. Know that we took Guantanamo Bay from Cuba. At least understand why Cuba wants it back. Set Puerto Rico free. See the world from their view.

PS: 160: CAMPAIGN FINANCE & ELECTION REFORM: Solve the persistent problem of gerrymandering. Adopt a comprehensive primary election plan. Promote campaign debates instead of TV commercials. Push a constitutional amendment to remove money from campaigns so elections become democratic. Repeal voter photo ID laws implemented to suppress turnout. Where voting machines are used, require a paper trail for recount purposes. Consider adopting term limits for the House and Senate. When should “recall elections” be held?

EC: 170: BANKING AND FEDERAL RESERVE: Should the Wall Street financial district have been bailed out? Should the big banks now be busted up under antitrust laws? Should consumers be protected against abusive bank charges? Why was the gold standard abandoned and replaced with Federal Reserve Notes? What is monetary policy, and how is it used to combat recession?

First Year—Second Semester

SOC: 110: CIVILITY IN SOCIETY: Politicians must learn to be civil, particularly with persons of other races. Why accuse a President of being from Kenya, when no facts support the claim? Why shout “you lie” at the President at a formal State of the Union? Why accuse Obama of being Muslim, when he is not?

PHIL: 120: PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION: Learn the number of centuries between the time of Christ and the era when the New Testament gospels were first written. Understand the Bible is not a reliable literal historical source. Know the difference between religious beliefs and scientific knowledge. Be able to accept as probable the absence of a supernatural being. Is there really anything out there? Avoid pandering to religious groups.

HIS: 160: HISTORY OF EQUAL RIGHTS: Understand the constitutional amendments passed after the American Civil War. What Southern laws were imposed on blacks between Reconstruction and WWII, to effectively extend slavery by another name? What led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Do you really believe the issue of racial injustice has been solved? What unique challenges do women face in the workplace? How should sexual harassment, like the cases against Herman Cain be resolved? Should gays move beyond civil unions into marriage? Learn to be Abe Lincoln Republicans.

PS: 170: IMMIGRATION POLICY: Learn the long history of immigration law. What should our policy be? Know the meaning of citizenship by birth. Don’t pander to Mexicans and other Latin Americans. Just say it is good public policy for all immigrants to speak English. Employers should be forced to subsidize English language classes. Be open about the fact employers pay cash under the table to avoid SS taxes, unemployment, and workers comp premiums. Just fix the naturalization process already.

EC: 190: ECON: CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM: Learn the words “capitalism” and “free market” are no where to be found in the U.S. Constitution. Stop calling Obama a socialist; it makes Republicans sound stupid. Stop referring to the U.S. as a capitalist country, as the Founders never said that. We have a democratic system in which we can choose more or less capitalism or socialism. Study capitalist and socialist principles. Understand that it was an unregulated capitalist system that led to the Great Depression.

01/26/2012

U.S. States: Having Fun with U.S. Map

ALASKA SHOULD BE SOLD TO CANADA: When Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867, the only reason Canada didn’t submit a bid was they were not an independent state until later that year. It would make sense now for the U.S. to sell Alaska to Canada, since it was a mistake to make it a state in the first place, as the area is physically separated from the continental 48 by over 1,500 miles, and it’s largely frozen tundra. The only string attached to the deal would be a condition that Canada also take Sarah Palin. While many Canadians would strongly object, seeing it as a deal breaker, they do have schools where she could perhaps learn something, and if they were just too scared about giving her citizenship, they could always require her to take a naturalization test. Any bets on whether Sarah would pass?

(Note: while Hawaii could revert to the independent status it had before we seized it by force, their weather is really too nice to let it go, so let’s not discuss any change of status for the islands).

CALIFORNIA SHOULD BECOME TWO STATES: If we give up Alaska, we need to add a state to get back to 50. California is not only big, ranging 770 miles from north to south, but it also has 38 million people, the largest population of any U.S. State. It should become two states, North California, and South California, split at its geographical center, North Fork, located just north of Fresno. The Constitution allows states to split into two, provided the legislature of the state and the U.S. Congress both consent. See Art. 4, Sec 3 (1) There is precedent, as Maine was severed from Massachusetts, and West Virginia was taken from Virginia.

TEXAS WOULD AGREE TO DUMP ALASKA & DIVIDE CA: Texans should go along with a comprehensive plan to get rid of Alaska, since the Lone Star state would then return to being first in size. The splitting of California into two, would send Texas into first place in population.

TEXAS WAS SUPPOSED TO SPLIT INTO FIVE STATES: To become first in size and population, Texas needs to give up something. When Texas was admitted to the union in 1845, it was granted the right to divide itself into five states. The Joint Resolution annexing Texas, which was approved by Congress on March 1, 1845, and signed by President Polk on Dec. 29, 1845, provides in part: “New states of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said state, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the Federal Constitution. Since Texas never broke up as envisioned, parts of it should now be given to New Mexico and Oklahoma. It is 529 miles from El Paso, Texas, in the southwest, located under New Mexico, to the capital at Austin, Texas. From Amarillo, Texas, due west of Oklahoma, in the northwest, it is 495 miles to Austin.

TEXAS SHOULD DEED EL PASO SW TO NEW MEXICO: Texas should just draw a line due south along the east border of New Mexico, and deed all lands west of it to New Mexico. They don’t need El Paso anyway, and by transferring more Rick Perry types into New Mexico, that state has a better chance of turning red in elections. This deal would need to be made with the devil, to make up for losing Alaska, and the creation of two Californias.

TEXAS DEEDS THE PANHANDLE AREA TO OKLAHOMA: Texas should also give up the Amarillo area, south of the panhandle, to Oklahoma. Oklahoma really does not need or want to be shaped like a panhandle anyway, because most people now use microwaves, and frying pans are becoming obsolete. Soon, no one will even know what the word “panhandle” means. It is far better for Oklahoma to get rid of a panhandle shape now, by drawing a line due west along their south border to New Mexico.

FLORIDA SHOULD DEED NW COAST TO ALABAMA: Since splitting California into two would move Florida up from third to second largest in population, they would have to give up something to make it happen. Florida spans from Miami in the southeast, north-westerly, along the Gulf of Mexico, to Pensacola, and almost to Mississippi, 700 miles away. The northwest part of Florida blocks most of what would otherwise be Alabama’s gulf coast. The Ellicott-Dunbar Line, along the 31st parallel, divides Alabama, to the north, and Florida to the south. It was drawn in 1795, under a treaty between the U.S. and Spain. As Alabama became a state in 1819, and Florida joined the union in 1845, the boundary continued. To open up more of Alabama to the gulf coast and the world, because frankly their Senators are generally very slow people who need to get out much more, Florida should deed 200 miles of their western gulf coast to Alabama.

MARYLAND SHOULD DEED LAND TO WEST VIRGINIA: Maryland’s northwestern Appalachian Plateau, Ridge and Valley Region, virtually in West Virginia, and connected to the rest of Maryland by just a 1.9 mile mountain strip at Hancock, should be deeded to West Virginia. Why does Maryland have this little sliver of land on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains, when the rest of the state is on the east side of the range? Just deed it to West Virginia already. Get rid of it.

MARYLAND SHOULD RECLAIM WASHINGTON DC: Since Maryland is going to give land to West Virginia, they need to get something in return, to make the deal happen. Although the 23rd Amendment gave the residents of Washington DC the right to vote for President, they still have no Senator or voting member in the House, and to put an end to their legitimate complaints about lacking representation, the district should be deeded to Maryland. The U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec 8 (17), gave Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the seat of the U.S. government, in a district not to exceed 10 square miles. Although the district was created in 1791, when Virginia and Maryland gave lands to the federal city, Virginia took their 31 square miles back in 1847, and it would appear Maryland would also has the right to retake their 69 miles, and they should do so. They should make DC a federal enclave.

MICHIGAN DEEDS UPPER PENINSULA TO WISCONSIN: It is 467 miles from Ironwood Michigan, at the Hurley, Wisconsin border on far western end of the Upper Peninsula (UP), to Lansing, the capital of the state, in Lower Michigan. A new line should be drawn from the northernmost end of Door County, Wisconsin, at Washington Island, due north to Lake Superior, such that all Michigan land due north of Wisconsin, is deeded to Wisconsin. The people of the UP, affectionately known as “youppers,” tried to form their own state 40 years ago, but lacked a sufficient population base to get serious consideration. They clearly feel very disconnected from Lower Michigan, and rightly so. Let’s give this slice of Michigan to Wisconsin.

09/29/2011

Election Off By 14,000 Votes Is Troubling

Although the failure of a election clerk to report 14,000 votes during the initial tabulation of the ballots for a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race was likely caused by loading a blank template into a reporting database, instead of the one that actually contained the votes, it is nevertheless very troubling, and it should give us pause to ask if many more checks and balances are needed to insure the reliability of modern computerized elections.

The Government Accountability Board was correct as they found: “Your failure to post election returns…has significantly undermined public confidence in the conduct of elections in Wisconsin and Waukesha County.” That is an understatement.

While right-wingers may try to solve voter fraud problems that do not exist, or address harmless errors that at best involve only a handful of ballots which would not swing the outcome of an election, our focus should instead be on the sort of template problem reported by the Wisconsin State Journal on Sept. 21, 2011, that led to the 14,000 vote controversy. Such a large number of votes can and would actually change election results.

The first step is for everyone to agree that no system is infallible. Never let a voting machine salesperson ever get away with the pitch that their system was tested over and over and is incapable of error. Systems can and do fail. Let’s agree nothing is fail safe.

Secondly, checks and cross-checks must be implemented. Prior election turnouts in terms of number and percentage should be matched against current returns. Any large deviation from the norm should raise flags and should trigger further checking.

The possibility of a 14,000 vote computer error is far more troubling than some college kid who forgot to bring his photo ID to the polling place. Let’s focus on the things that really matter.

08/30/2011

Wisconsin Redistricting: Gerrymandered

The courts should reject the new Congressional lines drawn by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin House and Senate, because they are the result of gerrymandering and violate the U.S. Constitution.

Every 10 years, an updated census is conducted and the states are then free to draw new Congressional lines to reflect any shifts in population that may have occurred during the previous decade.

Upon receiving data from the 2010 Census, the Republicans at the state capital in Madison, redrew the U.S. House seats for Wisconsin in a way designed to help the GOP hold or gain seats.

One target is the Wisconsin 7th Congressional District in the north, which Democrat David Obey represented for 41 years, from 1969 through his retirement in 2010. Since Obey was replaced by a Republican, the GOP now wants to hold that seat in 2012, so they drew the new lines to help their freshman friend get re-elected.

They did this by removing Democrats from the 7th and replacing them with Republicans from the 3rd. They reassigned Democratic leaning cities like Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point from the 7th to the 3rd, and moved rural towns from the 3rd to the 7th.

They accomplished their gerrymandering scheme by manipulating the line of the 3rd Congressional District into a non-contiguous U-shaped area, with the city of Eau Claire on the left wing of it, and the cities of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, on the right side of it. Rural areas between the two prongs were assigned to the 7th.

Now, the only practical way to drive from the new 3rd District cities of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, on the right side of the U, to the rest of the 3rd District, on the left side of the U, is to travel through part of the new 7th District, in the center of the U.

Since Congressional Districts are supposed to be contiguous, there is no lawful explanation for the U-shaped formation, other than Republican Party politics. The new Republican map is an obvious case of gerrymandering, a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and it should be challenged and thrown out in court.