Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Hope Jenny McCarthy Is Proud of Herself

Whooping Cough is sweeping the U.S. in a way that hasn't been seen in decades. In California, nine babies have died. Indiana has more cases than it's seen since 1986.

The most vulnerable victims are babies too young to be fully vaccinated, like the ones who died in California. In the past, they were protected by a firewall of vaccinated people around them.  That is why public schools require vaccinations -- not just to keep your kid from getting sick and missing school, but to keep your kid from spreading contagious diseases to those who are too young or too immune-compromised to be vaccinated.

In recent years, a discredited quack has spread misinformation blaming vaccines for the rise in autism diagnoses.  D-list celebrity Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, has bought into the quackery and used her celebrity soap-box to brainwash other parents into not vaccinating their kids.

Taking medical advice from Jenny McCarthy is a lot like letting Viscount Monckton influence energy policy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Worse Than Woffard

I didn't think the UW could possibly find a weaker football program than Woffard's to bring to Camp Randall.  Clearly, I was wrong.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Questions Organized Labor Should Ask About the Edgewater Project

Investing a fraction of their promised $16 million in TIF funding, Hammes bought off the Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin with a pledge of $200,000 for work force initiatives. The local mainstream media reports that the agreement "makes the Edgewater a union project."

As Brenda Konkel astutely pointed out, we don't know what's really in the agreement (they won't let anyone see it).

I suspect the "union project" is strictly limited to the construction phase.  I cannot imagine that the Edgewater Hotel will become a union shop. I know of no other downtown hotel that charges union labor fees to exhibitors at trade shows, for instance, which makes Monona Terrace a more expensive place to do business in many cases.

Will the addition of taxpayer-subsidized new meeting space overlooking one of Madison's lakes cut into Monona Terrace's business?  Probably.  There is a finite amount of convention business that Madison can attract.  We are limited by our regional airport; no amount of shiny new hotel space will change that.

Will the increased competition put pressure on Monona Terrace to reduce its requirements for exhibitors to use union labor for set up?  That is exactly what happened with Chicago's McCormick Place. Earlier this year, the state legislature pushed through legislation that allows exhibitors to do more of their own set-up work, in order to make McCormick Place more competitive.  These reforms led a group of construction workers to picket a trade show over the weekend.

So, the main question that organized labor should be asking is: how many union jobs at Monona Terrace will be lost thanks to the Edgewater project?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

68 Pages!

Trying to prove that his ideas have substance, Scott Walker has released a 68-page jobs plan. To emphasize the sheer length of the plan, he has named it SCOTT WALKER'S 68-PAGE JOBS PLAN! (The caps and exclamation point are his).

Apparently, it was written in crayon on 68 leftover brown paper bags and dutifully transcribed by his genius campaign staff, one page per bag.

Does Walker understand that he doesn't get extra credit for killing more trees? Maybe if he had bothered to finish his college education, he would have learned to write concisely rather than pad his prose with pointless fluff.

(h/t The Chief and the Recess Supervisor)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Need New Booty

The Daily Show's John Oliver contemplates an alternate slogan for Ieshuh (Not the Whiteman's Bitch) Griffin.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Tea-Baggers Aren't the Only Ones with Guns

Talking Points Memo has a slide show from yesterday's 2nd Annual 9/12 Rally in Washington, D.C. (h/t Greenlee Gazette)

Notice signs in the first couple pictures. Slogans include "Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God" (a quote from Thomas Jefferson) and "By Ballot or Bullet Restoration Is Coming."

I don't for a minute think that these sign-holders have any real intention of taking up arms if they don't like the election results in November.  The rhetoric is meant to intimidate, because they assume that only right-leaning folks believe in exercising their 2nd Amendment rights, and that liberals are all anti-gunners.

I do know a lot of people on the left who have a visceral hatred and fear of guns. They seem to believe that keeping a gun in the house is inherently evil and dangerous.  However, that feeling is far from universal, even among my lefty friends. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz are both known to be deer hunters (which means they each own at least one rifle and know how to use it). I grew up in a house full of guns and was taught early on to respect them and never treat them as toys (or assume one is unloaded).

I believe that liberals would all be better off if we would make more of an effort to make everyone comfortable and responsible around guns. Abstinence-only firearms education does not work, in my opinion.  It certainly won't protect your children from guns in their friends' houses.

I've honestly lost count of the number of guns in our house right now (they are mostly my husband's). I know I am not the only left-leaning Madisonian who has guns and knows how to use them.  The Tea-bagger fringe (a tiny minority of those at the rallies, but the most colorful for the media to photograph) who hold up signs with vaguely-threatening firearms metaphors are unlikely to actually take up arms against their democratically-elected government. But if they do, I'll be exercising my own 2nd Amendment rights in defense of my home and homeland and in support of our lawful government. And I doubt I'll be alone.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We've Forgotten the Lesson of Flight 93

Nine years ago today, a group of Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four large commercial jets, all filled with fuel for a cross-country flight.  The first three hit their targets, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the passengers did not realize what was going to happen until it was too late. Americans' previous experience with skyjackers led us to expect that the plane would land in some rogue state, the perps would negotiate for a ransom and a safe getaway, and the hostages would be freed. Thus, airline passengers were taught not to resist, to avoid getting anyone hurt.

Flight 93 took off late. When the terrorists took over the plane, they encouraged the passengers to make cell phone calls and learn what happened. They may have thought it would add to their fear and suffering and make them more docile (though it's hard to speculate what someone with such a crazy set of priorities was thinking). Instead, the passengers were determined that the terrorists would not reach their goal.  They managed to overpower the terrorists sufficiently to force them to ditch the plane in an empty field in Pennsylvania, far from the Capitol building, its presumed target.

Although everyone on board died, it is possible that thousands of lives were saved, including our Congress.  You can make whatever jokes you like about Congress, but losing one branch of our government would have been a serious blow to our constitution and our way of life. It could have turned us into a military dictatorship.

The lesson I took from Flight 93 is that terrorists would never again be able to hijack a plane, because the passengers would not let them get away with it anymore.  That lesson has been reinforced by the thwarted attempts of shoe-bomber Richard Reid (who was tacked by a couple of female flight attendants, then subdued with the help of nearby male passengers) and the Nigerian underwear bomber (who was also restrained by alert passengers).

For all of the security theater that takes place at airports these days, we are still the last, best defense against terrorism.  And yet, for the past nine years, our government and their media accomplices have convinced us that we must be afraid in our daily lives. We must give up our privacy so that the government can protect us.  We must be suspicious of those elderly Pakistani grocers on the corner. We must beat up a visiting Greek Orthodox priest asking for directions in broken English, because he has olive skin and must be a terrorist. We must keep those dangerous prisoners in Gitmo because their very presence in a U.S. supermax prison will somehow contaminate the community, as if they are radioactive.

Bullshit.  Flight 93 was hijacked by Al Qaeda's best and brightest.  Those men had trained for years for that mission, and at least one man (Zacarias Moussoui) was rejected as being too batshit crazy to be included.  They were still taken out by a group of unarmed but determined passengers. 

When we behave as though we have something to fear from our neighbors and we need to keep mosques out of town and allow the government to wiretap our phones in order to be safe, we dishonor Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick and the other heroes of Flight 93.  We all have it in us to be heroes.  We have the power.  We should use it responsibly.