A battle for the hearts and wallets of consumers escalated this week as retirees of the Big Three U.S. automakers launched a campaign to make Americans think twice about buying a foreign car -- even one made in the United States.
With Asian automakers shipping about $65 billion worth of autos and auto parts to the United States last year and U.S. automakers shedding tens of thousands of jobs, ad campaigns by Toyota and Hyundai touting the number of Americans they employ have hit a raw nerve.
"While foreign automakers own more than 40 percent of the market, they employ only 20 percent of the workers," Jim Doyle, president of Level Field Institute, said at a news conference on Thursday to roll out a more than $1 million ad campaign focused initially at Washington policy-makers.
"The result? Each foreign auto purchase supports half the jobs (that) buying a Ford, GM or Chrysler does," Doyle said.
Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, said he found the news hardly surprising and noted that he was aware of phone monitoring that was done when he worked in the Nixon White House in 1969.
I would hope that he would use a better standard than the Nixon White House.
But, then again, both Cheney and Rumsfeld were Nixon holdouts - I'm sure that is the company Petri wants to keep today.
THE usefulness of scientific theories, like those on gravity, relativity and evolution, is to make predictions. When theories make practicable foresight possible, they are widely accepted and used to make all of the new things that we enjoy — like global positioning systems, which rely on the theories of relativity, and the satellites that make them possible, which are placed in their orbits thanks to the good old theory of gravity.
Creationists who oppose the teaching of evolution as the predominant theory of biology contend that alternatives should be part of the curriculum because evolution is "just a theory," but they never attack mere theories of gravity and relativity in the same way. The creationists took it on their intelligently designed chins recently from a judge in Pennsylvania who found that teaching alternatives to evolution amounted to the teaching of religion. They prevailed, however, in Kansas, where the school board changed the definition of science to accommodate the teaching of intelligent design.
Both sides say they are fighting for lofty goals and defending the truth. But lost in all this truth-defending are more pragmatic issues that have to do with the young people whose educations are at stake here and this pesky fact: creationism has no commercial application. Evolution does.
So evolution has some pretty exciting applications (like food), and I'm guessing most people would prefer antibiotics developed by someone who knows the evolutionary relationship of humans and bacteria. What does this mean for the young people who go to school in Kansas? Are we going to close them out from working in the life sciences? And what about companies in Kansas that want to attract scientists to work there? Will Mom or Dad Scientist want to live somewhere where their children are less likely to learn evolution?
One Kansas biology teacher, a past president of the National Association of Biology Teachers, told Popular Science magazine that students from Kansas now face tougher scrutiny when seeking admission to medical schools. And companies seeking to innovate in the life sciences could perhaps be excused for giving the Sunflower State a miss: one Web site that lists companies looking for workers in biotechnology has more than 600 hiring scientists in California and more than 240 in Massachusetts. Kansas has 11.
In his most recent State of the Union address, President Bush mentioned our problems in science education and promised to focus on "keeping America competitive" by increasing the budget for research and spending money to get more science teachers. I hope he delivers, but we can't keep America competitive if some states teach science that has no commercial utility. Those smart youngsters in India and China whom you keep hearing about are learning secular science, not biblical literalism.
Where science gets done is where wealth gets created, so places that decide to put stickers on their textbooks or change the definition of science have decided, perhaps unknowingly, not to go to the innovation party of the future. Maybe that's fine for the grownups who'd rather stay home, but it seems like a raw deal for the 14-year-old girl in Topeka who might have gone on to find a cure for resistant infections if only she had been taught evolution in high school.
Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. It compares with 71% of Americans who said Mr. Bush is doing an "only fair or poor" job, up from 63% in April
Is this a reason that Thompson keeps dipping his toe in the Gov waters? Does he know something we don't (but that we assume)?
Is he keeping his name out there for Green's coming fall?
And, if he runs, will Thompson finally let us know all about how he spent us into the hole that Doyle has dug us out? Will Thompson explain how he also would have vetoed concealed carry? Will Thompson explain his support for stem cell research? Will Thompson explain his brother's support for civil unions in Wisconsin.
And finally, if Thompson runs for Gov, why would conservatives support him, when the main difference between Thompson and Doyle on their issues is this:
Doyle is responsible with tax dollars and Thompson isn't?
Update: Seth Zlotocha has an interesting take on it here.
USA Today said Thursday that the National Security Agency has been building up the database using records provided by three major phone companies — AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. — but that the program “does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations.”
Instead it documents who talks to whom in personal and business calls, whether local or long distance, by tracking which numbers are called, the newspaper said.
USA Today said its sources for the story were “people with direct knowledge of the arrangement,” but it did not give their names or describe their affiliation.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., argued that the program “is not a warrantless wiretapping of the American people. I don’t think this action is nearly as troublesome as being made out here, because they are not tapping our phones.”
But another Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told Fox News Channel: “The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?”
The existence of an NSA eavesdropping program launched after the Sept. 11 attacks was revealed in December.
Defending the controversial program, Bush and his administration officials have said it aims to uncover links between international terrorists and their domestic collaborators and only targets communications between a person inside the United States and a person overseas.
But USA Today said that calls originating and terminating within the United States have not escaped the NSA’s attention.
“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” the paper quoted one source as saying. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within U.S. borders, it said the source added.
The NSA has “access to records of billions of domestic calls,” USA Today said. Although customers’ names and addresses are not being handed over, “the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information,” it said.
Among major U.S. telecommunications companies, only Qwest Communications International Inc. has refused to help the NSA program, the paper said.
Qwest, with 14 million customers in the Western United States, was “uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants,” USA Today said.
It said the three companies cooperating with the NSA “provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.”
Former President George H.W. Bush's office released his letter of resignation from the National Rifle Association, in which Bush expressed outrage over the NRA's reference to federal agents as ''jackbooted government thugs.''
Other events of note:
Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured the British-held fortress at Ticonderoga, N.Y.
Union forces captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Irwinville, Ga.
J. Edgar Hoover became director of the FBI, a job he held until his death in 1972.
Birthdays (an odd collection):
Andrew Card - Former White House chief of staff
Rick Santorum - U.S. senator, R-Pa.
Bono - Rock Singer (U2)
Krist Novoselic - Rock musician (Nirvana)
Maybelle Carter - 5/10/1909 - 10/23/1978 - American singer, songwriter and guitarist
John Wilkes Booth - 5/10/1838 - 4/26/1865 - American actor; assassinated President Abraham Lincoln
Now we see this (text and links from the Washington Post):
Less than a week after besting a primary challenger, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) faces more scrutiny in regard to the pay-to-play scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The latest development is a plea agreement signed today by Ney's former top aide, Neil Volz -- a plea that has the Ohio congressman's now-familiar moniker -- "Representative #1" -- all over it.
The agreement alleges that during his time as communications director and chief
of staff for Ney, Volz "received things of value from or at the direction of Abramoff, [Tony] Rudy and others, including tickets to sporting events, meals and drinks, and golf." It goes on to state that: "During the same time period, defendant Volz, Representative #1 and others performed official acts for or at the behest of Abramoff and others, which were motivated in part by the things of value received."
The eight-page document details those exchanges, including an all-expense trip to Scotland, tickets to sporting events in the Washington area and food and drink at Abramoff's restaurant -- Signatures.
Wait a minute here... If we take away the trip to Scotland, isn't that everything that Green ex-Chief of Staff and current Campaign Manager Mark Graul admitted to doing?
If you click here, you will see a fundraising email that it seems he sent to the media as well.
Now, normally a candidate doesn't put out fund-raising correspondence as general press releases. So, either he made a mistake, or he feels the fact that he doesn't have enough funds to make it through the summer is news.
But, I'd like to point out the heading of this fund-raising press release/email:
From the desk of District Attorney
Paul E. Bucher
I sure would hope that Bucher isn't writing these fund-raising campaign emails for Attorney General from his current desk as Waukesha District Attorney....
Didn't a fellow GOP'er just get convicted of that?
p.s. Maybe Bucher should get a better media consultant to make sure flubs like this don't happen again. His current expert seems to be failing him.
The point is that while they say that business taxes are bad for Wisconsin, they are not a problem for their own businesses:
16. What is the top public policy issue facing Wisconsin? Item Responses (%)
Taxes 29 (35.80)
Health care costs 26 (32.10)
Lawsuit abuse 13 (16.05)
Economic slowdown 4 (4.94)
Energy 3 (3.70)
Labor shortage 3 (3.70)
Regulation 1 (1.23)
Education 1 (1.23)
Other 1 (1.23)
17. What is the top business concern facing your company? Item Responses
Health care costs 28 (34.57)
Competition 13 (16.05)
Labor shortage 10 (12.35)
Energy 8 (9.88)
Regulation 7 (8.64)
Economic slowdown 7 (8.64)
Taxes 5 (6.17)
Other 2 (2.47)
Lawsuit abuse 1 (1.23)
It shows the disingenuous for their position. Let's just get to work on real healthcare problems.
Republican lawmakers, facing the prospect that their power to cut taxes may soon be curbed, plan to extend breaks that mostly benefit the wealthy and Wall Street at the expense of reductions for middle-income households.
Six months before elections that may return a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois are focusing on extending the 15 percent rate on investments and repealing the estate tax. They won't push extensions of lower rates for all taxpayers and expanded breaks for married couples and families with children, which expire after 2010.
Democrats say the Republicans are favoring tax breaks that do little for middle-income Americans; 50 percent of all U.S. households earn between $26,859 and $120,100, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research institution in Washington.
``Even in an election year where they are losing popularity nationwide, they've chosen to pander to their base of rich donors and leave the middle class behind,'' says Representative Charles Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Here is the full article, below are relevant parts:
U.S. gets poor grades for newborns' survival
Nation ranks near bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia
CHICAGO - America may be the world’s superpower, but its survival rate for newborn babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than Latvia.
Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia’s rate is 6 per 1,000.
“We are the wealthiest country in the world, but there are still pockets of our population who are not getting the health care they need,” said Mary Beth Powers, a reproductive health adviser for the U.S.-based Save the Children, which compiled the rankings based on health data from countries and agencies worldwide.
The U.S. ranking is driven partly by racial and income health care disparities. Among U.S. blacks, there are 9 deaths per 1,000 live births, closer to rates in developing nations than to those in the industrialized world.
“Every time I see these kinds of statistics, I’m always amazed to see where the United States is because we are a country that prides itself on having such advanced medical care and developing new technology ... and new approaches to treating illness. But at the same time not everybody has access to those new technologies,” said Dr. Mark Schuster, a Rand Co. researcher and pediatrician with the University of California, Los Angeles.
The researchers also said lack of national health insurance and short maternity leaves likely contribute to the poor U.S. rankings. Those factors can lead to poor health care before and during pregnancy, increasing risks for premature births and low birth weight, which are the leading causes of newborn death in industrialized countries.
In past reports by Save the Children — released ahead of Mother’s Day — U.S. mothers’ well-being has consistently ranked far ahead of those in developing countries but poorly among industrialized nations. This year the United States tied for last place with the United Kingdom on indicators including mortality risks and contraception use.
While the gaps for infants and mothers contrast sharply with the nation’s image as a world leader, Emory University health policy expert Kenneth Thorpe said the numbers are not surprising.
“Our health care system focuses on providing high-tech services for complicated cases. We do this very well,” Thorpe said. “What we do not do is provide basic primary and preventive health care services. We do not pay for these services, and do not have a delivery system that is designed to provide either primary prevention, or adequately treat patients with chronic diseases.”
Gallup has a terrible new poll for Bush: 31% approve, 65% disapprove. Since the main benefit of the Gallup poll are its trendlines stretching back more than sixty years, here are some facts about this poll in historical perspective:
A net approval of -34 is worse than the low suffered by either Jimmy Carter (-31) or Bush's father (-31). Only Truman and Nixon ever fared worse. (click for more on this)
Since 1950, this is the lowest job approval for a President facing midterm elections by more than ten points.
This is the first poll showing Bush's disapproval to be more than twice the size of his approval.
This is the lowest approval rating for Bush in any public survey since the start of his term.
A disapproval of 65% ties for the second highest ever recorded. The highest ever recorded was just one point higher, 66%, for Richard Nixon in August of 1974, about one week before he resigned.
It is now reasonable to start talking about Bush in the 20's, and Bush breaking the all-time record for job disapproval.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2006
Rep. Kaufert Authors Death Penalty Referendum, Hopes to Distract From Assembly GOP Ethics Problems
OSHKOSH – A few days after the Appleton Post-Crescent evaluated the state Republican Representatives as “the worst the state Legislature had to offer” and “the Republicans who hold the majority in the Assembly gave us two more reasons to believe they're in their jobs for themselves and not their constituents” comes the passing of a non-binding referendum on the death penalty written by Rep Dean Kaufert of Neenah.
“Wisconsin banned the death penalty 153 years ago. Rep. Kaufert wants either to take a huge step backward in Wisconsin Justice, “said Jef Hall, Winnebago County Democratic Party Chair, “or more probably, is looking for a way to cover his political behind after refusing to support real ethics reform.”
“Not only is the death penalty not an effective crime deterrent, but it is bad politics. A responsible leader should not toy with life and death in an attempt to score short-term political points.” Hall continued, pointing out that states with the death penalty overall have a homicide rate of 5.91 per 100,000, while states without the death penalty have a lower rate of 4.10
“Wisconsin’s homicide rate is only 2.8.” Hall stated, quoting 2004 statistics.
“Dean Kaufert’s exploitation of recent tragedies to cover for his lack of leadership on ethics reform, job growth, or providing a real healthcare solution for the nearly 400,000 Wisconsin residents that are uninsured is shameful.”
“A non-binding referendum on the death penalty will not solve any of these problems.” Hall concluded.
Here is the NYTimes story in it's entirety:
Still Bullish on the Old Taurus
By JERRY GARRETT
FORD has been trying to bury the Taurus, but like the Undead in a zombie movie the car keeps keeps rising from the grave.
The euthanasia process has been made more difficult by the fact that the Taurus, which was expected to be comatose by now, is still showing up for work. Is it possible that this old warhorse remains Ford's best-selling passenger car?
"I guess it is," said George Pipas, a company spokesman, when asked if the Taurus's estimated 71,000 sales in the first four months of 2006 meant that it was still the most popular Ford car. (The F-150 pickup is the company's top seller over all.)
What's more, the Taurus has been available only to fleet customers, including rental agencies, since Jan. 1. "Taurus has been particularly popular with our business travelers," said Richard Broome, vice president for corporate affairs at Hertz. "It's been a reliable workhorse for us."
Taurus sales totaled 180,000 last year, but only 15 percent went to retail customers. With a sticker price of $21,830 nicely equipped ($22,980 with leather seats), most appear to have been sold.
"They don't stay on our lots very long either," said Mr. Broome of Hertz, whose company sells used models after they are retired from the rental fleet. Hertz Car Sales now offers 2006 models in the $14,000 to $15,000 range and 2005's for $11,000 to $13,000. Since Hertz had bought the cars at a sizable fleet discount, Mr. Broome said they held their value well.
Ford announced last year that it was discontinuing the Taurus (and its near-twin, the Mercury Sable) and pulling the plug on the life-support machine: the cars would get no more styling changes, no more advertising or promotional support, no more sales incentives, no more retail customers. But while the Sable died last year, the Taurus soldiers on as a favorite of corporate fleets.
Through the end of April, the car was still being produced at a rate of more than 18,000 a month at an Atlanta-area plant that is on a list of factories to be closed. "We will be on that pace, more or less, at least through the second quarter and into the third quarter," Mr. Pipas said. "After that, it is T.B.D."
This withering away seems an inglorious end for a midsize sedan that was the nation's best-selling car in 1992-96 (the last American-brand model to earn that distinction). The Taurus has now been Ford's sales leader longer than the celebrated Model T.
Through April, total production of the Taurus, which made its debut in 1985 as an '86 model, neared 7.5 million cars, with the Sable adding another 2.1 million. As of April 3, all new Tauruses are called 2007 models. (There are no plans for an '08.)
These cars will eventually move from corporate fleets to used car lots. Keep an eye out — in a small way, these cars will be historic even if they are never collectible.
Click here for the details.
Here are some of the people that sponsored his trips:
Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce
Int'l Management & Development Institute
National Assn of Broadcasters
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn
Islamic Free Market Institute Foundation
Recording Industry Association of America
International Republican Institute
To Appleton City Clerk Cindi Hesse and other city officials who want to make sure there’s a paper trail for election results. Hesse is recommending that the city replace its outdated voting machines with another paper-ballot system, as opposed to a touch-screen system. Citing reliability issues with some touch-screen machines, Hesse and others in city government note the importance of a paper trail in the case of a recount.
- Change how the amendment is marketed.
Its new name - the Taxpayer Protection Amendment - was too close to its old name, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Referring to the latest version as TABOR let opponents warn that Wisconsin was in store for the painful funding cuts to universities and highways that happened in Colorado, under that state's now-lifted Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
How the Wisconsin amendment was pushed by WMC and Assembly Republican leaders was "atrocious," said Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue), who has long worked
for constitutional limits on government spending. Lasee vows to never use the term "TABOR" again.
Notice that 'Come up with better policy' was not a proposed solution?
ADMINISTRATION -- DESPITE HUNDREDS OF NEW POLITICAL PPOINTEES, WHITE HOUSE HIRING OF MINORITIES AND FEMALES PLUNGES:
A new report by the Democratic members of the House Government Reform Committee finds that during the Bush administration's first five years, "the number of political appointees on the federal payroll has soared while the number of minority and female political appointees has declined dramatically." According to the report, "over 300 new political appointees have been added to the federal payroll" since January 2001, while the number of "Schedule C" political appointees, "who are hired without public transparency or congressional approval, has increased by over 400," a jump of 33 percent. Meanwhile, the administration "has added 564 white political appointees and reduced the number of minority political appointees by 273, representing a 50% decline in the proportion of minority political appointees serving in the federal government." Also, as a proportion of all political appointees, female appointees have declined from 45 percent to 36 percent since 2000. The report notes, "The Clinton Administration reduced the overall number of political appointees by 17%, increased the proportion of female political appointees by 15%, and more than doubled the proportion of minority political appointees. All three trends have been reversed in the Bush Administration."
State Celebrates Emu Week Next Week
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/02/2006
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has issued a proclamation declaring May 6-14 as Wisconsin Emu Week. The proclamation states that the emu makes a substantial contribution to agricultural endeavors around the state and is environmentally friendly to raise. And the emu industry increases agriculture's ability to sustain and diversify.
The proclamation also points out that laboratory studies have shown emu meat is lower in fat and higher in protein than other red meats, chicken and turkey. And the bird provides an oil that is beneficial to mankind.
For information about National Emu Week events in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, call 608-897-8224.
Even though their country has been at war there for three years, six in 10 young Americans were unable to locate Iraq on a map of the world, a survey found.
They did little better at home: despite the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds could not locate Louisiana, according to a Roper poll for National Geographic.
Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news while just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill. The poll kickstarts a five-year National Geographic push to improve geographic literacy.
We're sure Leibham's photo ID proposal won't go away. The Republican lawmaker has proposed amending the state constitution to require a photo ID for every voter.
We've opposed photo ID in the past because of the impact and hardship it could have on the elderly and thelpoor who may not have a driver's license, military ID or state-issued ID card.
Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.
"We have to be ready to win," Pelosi said, "and we have to tell [voters] what we will do when we win."
House Democrats have formulated a plan of action for their first week in control. Their leaders said a Democratic House would quickly vote to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997. It would roll back a provision in the Republicans' Medicare prescription drug benefit that prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices for drugs offered under the program.
Read the rest here.