March 30, 2006
David carefully avoids the use of the term 'illegal' as he makes his moral point about the generally positive values of immigrants. However, for the laws of the U.S. to have any validity, they must be effectively enforced.
March 29, 2006
If I understand this correctly, we think, but don't know for sure, there are 12 million illegals in the U.S. How do we have any idea what the real number is if we don't know who they are?
Now, this proposal would ask them in essence to self identify. Why would they do that, i.e., go on the books rather than live as they are now and spend 11 years becoming a citizen? How would we deal with those that choose to continue living in the shadows? Where's the plan for them. If we don't root them out and there's no penalty for remaining in the shadows, this proposal will fail.
The meanings of 'amnesty' are confused indeed!
March 28, 2006
Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
FERC's decision is really good news for free speech in America. Blogs and other political activity on the internet are essential elements in a healthy, lively debate. Equally important, people who read and write blogs with political content and opinion are more likely to vote, too. We need all the informed voters we can muster. Uninformed voters do not benefit democracy.
March 26, 2006
'Crashing the Gate,' by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times
A tiny, liberal, back-to-the-earth publisher, Chelsea Green, in Vermont scores attention from the 'big guys' with this review.
I have not read the book, but from the review I conclude he fundamental lament is that the Democrats are not in power nationally, unlike Vermont where they rule the roost except for a Republican governor and lieutenant governor.
(And now some fiscal musings)
Unless the governor vetoes some of the spending initiatives, we are well along the road to future fiscal pain. Exorbitant taxes to support the spending frenzy seems the Democrat way in Vermont as are exorbitant deficits the Republican and Democrat way in Washington.
Our society has become too reliant on the government trough. But that will soon come to a head as Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare spending result in the perfect fiscal storm.
Every candidate for national office should be forced to include in a campaign platform their plan to prevent this looming train wreck. The problem transcends partisan politics and will likely create some strange bedfellows if a solution is to be found. There must be a middle road.
"Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it."While I think this is good news, the author whines that it isn't!
This piece describes the curriculum shift to heavy emphasis on reading and math in schools with students who do poorly in those subjects as measured by testing required by the No Child Left Behind Act. It concludes that those schools are making progress with the tests. The column also laments the deemphasize of other subjects because the school day does not allow time for both remediation and subjects that may be more fun.
I'll argue that exactly the right things are happening if schools are focusing time and energy on reading and math. In the early grades particularly, reading in English is foundational to an American life with a hope of success, and fluency in math is equally important. Without them, other studies and life generally will be less fruitful and more likely to be filled with failure and poverty.
Why must educators and pundits continue to whine about high standards and testing? Teaching is a difficult job; perhaps the constraints of standards somehow stifles some teachers' penchant for curricula process rather than to teach the basics that will equip kids for other subjects later.
March 22, 2006
I just love this stuff! Governments think they know better than markets and customers. If France passes this legislation, I'll bet that Apple says 'up yours.' Apple is laying it on pretty heavy even before the law is passed. France has already entered the dustbin of history, now they are demonstrating why they are not only irrelevant, but obstructionists as well. If you don't agree, C'est la vie.
"'The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy,' Apple said in a statement. 'If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers. iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy.'"
We may never know the complete story behind Chris Graff's dismissal from AP. It's obvious that some serious breach of rules or ethics must have occurred for such a long career to be abruptly ended. Too bad it came to this.
If the information reported in this piece is correct (and I don't assume it is), then a news organization distributing blatantly partisan/political material is over the line. I am persuaded after many years of reading and in a former life dealing directly with Vermont media that a liberal bias dominates, particularly at the NY times and at most media in Vermont.
March 21, 2006
"Judy Crowley, Rutland (Vermont): Interesting data on schools, lack of students, etc. Are there any numbers, re: how many homeschooled kids there are or a total of private school kids in the State? My guess is that those figures have risen as public school census has dropped. Would love to have you make comment or present this information.
> Editor's Note: A quick Internet search suggests that there were 100,817 public school students, 6,413 public school teachers, and 1540 home schooled kids in 2001-2. In 2004-5 the figures were 98,361 public school students (down 2.4%), 2090 homeschoolers (up 35%), and 6,790 public school teachers (up 5.9%). Go figure."
"When it came to the Dubai ports issue, the facts never really had a chance, not in this political season. Still, it's hard to imagine a more ignorant, bogus, xenophobic, reckless debate than the one indulged in by both Republicans and Democrats around this question of whether an Arab-owned company might oversee loading and unloading services in some U.S. ports.
"What is so crazy about the Dubai ports issue is that Dubai is precisely the sort of decent, modernizing model we should be trying to nurture in the Arab-Muslim world. Dubaians are building a future based on butter not guns, private property not caprice, services more than oil, and globally competitive companies, not terror networks. Dubai is about nurturing Arab dignity through success, not suicide.
"So whatever happens with the Iraq experiment but especially if it fails we need Dubai to succeed. Dubai is where we should want the Arab world to go. Unfortunately, we just told Dubai to go to hell." --Thomas Friedman, New York Times, March 15, 2006
About the ports issue, my sentiments exactly!
Much ado about nothing, really, but the flareup does focus on the melding of blogging and journalism.
This will be a landmark case. I have long believed that some realities and interrelationships of processes, chemicals and other natural phenomena in life are not and should not be patentable. An invention should be patentable, not a naturally occuring phenomenon.
"Some patent specialists say they think the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, against the advice of the United States solicitor general, to rein in patenting.
'The Supreme Court reached out and grabbed this case,' said Edward R. Reines, a patent attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges who is not involved in the case. 'These circumstances suggest that some members of the court believe there are too many patents in areas where there should be none.'
At issue is whether relationships between a substance in the human body and a disease — for example, the familiar association between high cholesterol and a higher risk of heart attacks — can be the basis of a patent, or whether such relationships are unpatentable natural phenomena."
Microsoft's release of these new tools for developers is a very important event . There's a very interesting dynamic at work here, I think, that may be the key to Microsoft's suceess or lack thereof.
Many 'open source' folks are anti-Microsoft. AJAX and related tools for building web mashups and applications tend to be more open source centric. Because of this, many developers may shun the Miscrosoft tools and opt for other options and gravitate more to the Google/Firefox/Linux camp than Microsoft's. Nevertheless, Microsoft is a major force to be reckoned with. I note that Ballmer this week is touting a 'people centric' approach for businesses, thus moving away from the desktop/productivity focus of the past.
This is a fascinating era in software and services development. Users have much to gain.
March 19, 2006
I sincerely hope that Congress does not make hash out of the need to strengthen pension plan funding so that workers can receive promised befits. In the midst of the Congressional sausage-making, I'm not surprised that large companies like IBM and Verizon, with strong defined benefit pension plans, have opted to freeze those plans in the near future and substitute higher payment to defined contribution plans. By electing to limit defined benefit plans, I assume they will avoid paying higher premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to support failed funds.
American workers should have some guarantee that retirement benefits/promises will be there when they need them if those funds are managed by their employers. I support self-directed pension plans like IRAs and 401(k)s. People should be in charge of their own future and their investment decisions whenever possible, but they need the financial knowledge or guidance and discipline to do so effectively.
March 18, 2006
Nearly three years ago, before the wind energy controversy heated up in Vermont, I wrote a piece on regulation and wind farms that was published in the Burlington Free Press. That piece can be found in my blog here. In it I argued that fragmented regulation dealing with individual wind farm proposals was costly, inefficient and time consuming. Instead, at that time we would have been better served by efforts outside of regulation to develop our public policy position before developers were forced through the costly sieve of regulation and public opinion one project at a time.
Today's Free Press story reporting that the developers of a proposed wind project on Glebe Mountain in Manchester have decided to suspend their work and not request approval now at the Public Service Board is not surprising. In light of hearing officer Kurt Janson's recommendation (which I support) that a smaller wind proposal in the Northeast Kingdom not be approved as submitted, delaying the Glebe Mountain project makes sense. In addition, a recent vote of townspeople in Manchester showed they are 2:1 against it.
I have long maintained that the cost/benefit result of wind energy development is not supportable at the present time. In fact the wind controversy is a distraction to the much larger question of replacing the base load electricity supplies, Vermont nuclear and Quebec hydro, that provide 2/3 of Vermont's supply. These sources must be extended or expanded in contract negotiations with Quebec and extension of the operating license of Vermont Yankee.
Surely conservation can be a mitigating factor and we have a conservation utility in place whose job it is to do just that, but wind and conservation will not make a substantial impact on the demand as our population and usage increase.
We'd best be about a sound policy that ensures that we have sufficient electric energy supply beyond the next five years. We cannot afford the 'feel-good' distraction of small wind projects.
March 17, 2006
Perhaps the day will come when I will agree with the Times' editorial positions on politics, if I don't die first. Meanwhile, their business will continue to slide downhill partly because they have chosen to take such a partisan, far-left editorial approach.
March 16, 2006
The hearing officer's recommendation against the East Hill wind project is the correct one and the Board would do well to agree with it and reject the proposal. Wind energy will do little to alleviate Vermont's need for energy. It may rise to the level of 'feel good' energy for some, but in the scheme of things it is a distraction to the real need to replace the baseline electricity we now obtain from nuclear at Vermont Yankee and the hydro power we get from Quebec.
Wind energy is intermittent and unreliable. The cost/benefit ratio is too high.
March 15, 2006
Easy solution. If the government didn't tax income, the problem vanishes. If the government must tax, then sales tax is the way to go. The consumer pays the tax, the company remits it and the company cannot game the income tax system.
March 14, 2006
A neat matrix of Windows Live elements that have been launched or soon will be.
'Trapped data' raises switching barrier to newer, sometimes better services by ZDNet's David Berlind -- There's something overwhelming about Mike Arrington's writeup of zooomr: a socialized photo sharing site that Arrington calls "Flickr on steroids." Maybe it's the part about how the developer of it -- Kristopher Tate -- is 17 years old. Or, maybe it's that awful Ghost of Christmas-past feeling that history is about to repeat itself. In [...]
This is, of course the dilemma with Software as a Service, how to get all or large chunks of your data from A to B if you want to move it. Because this is such a huge issue, it will get solved. The question is who will do it? Google seems the likely candidate, but it hasn't happened yet.I use xDrive for some online data storage, but it's the applications and features that surround the data in applications like Flickr or Writely that are so valuable. Businesses will not allow their data to be locked up online by someone, so the problem will be fixed.
March 12, 2006
More criticism (mostly, some praise) for Wikipedia. I firmly believe that the model will win as long as people commit the energy to it that has been shown so far.
A fascinating analysis by Matt Bai (obviously a Democrat) of John Warner's chances of taking on Hillary and the Democrats in the 2008 Presidential election
Further comments on excerpts below:
Here's another serious flaw in the campaign finance laws, in addition that I believe it's wrong and unconstitutional to restrict free speech as expressed in $.
"It starts with money. At the end of last year, according to the Hotline,
the venerable Washington online digest, Clinton had more than $17 million in the
bank for her re-election campaign in New York Â? and no serious opponent to spend it against. By contrast, Warner, capping what was widely considered a
surprisingly sound fund-raising season, had amassed a little under $2.5 million
for his political action committee, Forward Together. But that's not the whole
story. Thanks to the inscrutable wonder of campaign finance laws, Clinton can roll every penny that she doesn't spend on her Senate campaign into a presidential account, which is why she could well start a bid for the White House with as much as $75 million, on course to obliterate the party's previous fund-raising records. No matter how much a governor like Warner raises in his political action committee, on the other hand, the rules say that he can't spend any of it on a presidential run; it can go only for general political activity,
mostly backing other candidates. This means that should Warner decide to run, he'll have to start again from zero, while Clinton is backing up 18-wheelers to
Warner is portrayed here as a sensible Democrat. Hillary should be worried.
"...the four domestic issues he ticked off, before he got to terrorism and national
security, were fairly standard for a Democratic candidate in the era after Bill
Clinton: slashing the federal deficit, improving schools, working with business
to reform the health-care system and devising a new energy strategy. What makes Warner, the former entrepreneur, sound more credible than your average Democrat is that he comes at these issues primarily from an economic, rather than a social, standpoint. On health care, for instance, most Washington Democrats
will, as a matter of both habit and perspective, talk about the moral imperative
of covering workers and the uninsured Â? and only then might they add, as an
afterthought, that the current morass is an impediment to business too. Warner,
on the other hand, begins with the idea that if American businesses can't keep
up with spiraling health-care costs, the nation will lose the competition with
India and China for jobs. The same principle applies with education and the
deficit. His fixation on the global economy brings a coherent framework to
issues that otherwise seem disparate and abstract."
John Edwards tried this approach in the 2004 elections and it didn't work, even as a balance to the windsurfing protester, Kerry, on the ticket as Vice President. The theme resonates, but only if it's seen as real by voters and not contrived political rhetoric.
"Now it is Hillary Clinton of New York who represents that coastal elite, and while she employs much of the same rhetoric her husband used, Warner argues that, nationally, the cultural perception of the party and its most visible leaders Â? Clinton, Kerry, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi Â? isn't much different from what it was back then. Results do matter to voters, Warner says, but only if you make it impossible for Republicans to paint your nominee as another protester-turned-windsurfer who looks down on people who go to a megachurch and like to watch the stock cars race. "You can't keep sending people out there who check every box of the Democratic orthodoxy, or that at least check every box of the East Coast-West Coast Democratic orthodoxy," Warner told me during a conversation in his Capitol office in his final days as governor. Only a Democrat who had a proven ability to transcend cultural issues, he said, could broaden the party's base."
So...the Democrats who don't favor Hillary believe that the MSM will create a frenzy over an insurgent candidate like Warner. The Democrat leaning MSM may do that because they want a Democrat elected. The coastal Democrat dailies would probably stay with Hillary."So the insurgent has to hope for an explosion of popular support in that first caucus Â? or possibly, a week later, in New Hampshire Â? that will send the front-runner reeling backward and puncture the notion that her nomination is preordained. If an insurgent can do that, then the resulting media frenzy might create enough momentum to propel him to victories in subsequent primaries, overwhelming the party apparatus."
Some of these Democrats are a laugh a minute.
"Little wonder, then, that when I asked Joe Trippi, the highly-caffeinated Internet genius who orchestrated Dean's insurgency, how Warner or one of the other candidates would go about taking the nomination from Clinton, he actually laughed at me. "It's not possible," he said. "The way for Mark Warner? Leave the freakin' party."
This is true.
"In gaining enough momentum to become, at one point, the presumed nominee, Dean highlighted two critical changes in American politics in recent years. The first is the proliferation of a cable-TV news media that can, virtually overnight, transform an unknown candidate into a coast-to-coast sensation, neutralizing the value of expensive ads and direct-mail campaigns. The second, and probably more transformative, is the advent of the Web as a fund-raising and organizing tool, which, under the right circumstances, can go a long way toward erasing a front-runner's advantage, especially if the insurgent manages to win one of the early primaries. "The fire wall is more vulnerable now," Susan Estrich says. If Clinton should falter in Iowa or New Hampshire, "whoever beats her won't have to put out buckets to collect cash. He'll have the Internet."
"...recent history suggests that if you want to emerge as the alternative candidate in 2008, you probably have to be willing to harness and exploit the anger of Democrats who feel disconnected from the Washington establishment and who resent the idea that powerful insiders seem to be choosing a nominee for them. You have to be ready, as an earlier generation of Democrats would have put it, to take on the Man Â? even if the Man this time happens to be a woman."
Bloggers are viral marketers for politics.
Once more, David Brooks nails the reality of an issue. This time he targets the pandering politics of Hillary Clinton on the Dubai port management issue. He points out that she demonstrated unprincipled behavior in a situation where the facts were against her position and she and many others may have significantly damaged relationships with an Arab ally. With shoddy, unprincipled antics like this, she does not have the strength of character to be President.
Will the Times editorial board agree?
March 11, 2006
She's right and she and her family may likely die for what she is saying. Great courage in speaking out.
Hey, when they're ready for deployment, maybe we could put a couple of these babies in Lake Champlain and really generate some energy, not to mention tons of controversy! Hell, if we're going to have clamorous arguments about puny wind farms above 2,500 feet on Vermont's ridge lines, lets have it over wind power on a scale and a cost that makes sense.
"The project’s goal is to design, fabricate and test a multimegawatt-scale wind
turbine that could produce clean, renewable electricity at a much-reduced
The wind turbine will be located offshore and is expected to produce
electricity at a cost of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – 52 percent less than the
current 9.5 cents per hour."
Tom Evslin's musings about the 'Blogobubble' are on target in my opinion. Blogging is a phenomenon that will continue to slim down into niche areas for the reasons Tom gives in his post. MSM will have to sharpen and adapt to blogging's reality by sharpening its focus and business model.
March 10, 2006
I have been using Writely this winter quite often to share documents in my business and personal life. I find it a very slick product, powerful and easy to use. I will continue to use it. Now that Google has snapped up the company, I expect we'll see even more improvements. Yet, I find that most average users have some angst and difficulty getting their heads around the notion of browser-based applications.
For now, Writely is not accepting new beta users. I hope that ban will be lifted soon as Google integrates the company ito its infrastructure.
Here's the Writely FAQ page for anyone who wants to know more.
In time this web-based word processor will give Microsoft a run for their money, but I suspect it won't be long before we see a version of Word appear, probably at live.com or at Microsoft Office Live.
March 9, 2006
More from Ken Belson on the next options by Verizon in the wake of the ATT_BLS merger announcement. Buying out Vodaphone makes the most sense if the price is right. Protecting and growing the Verizon Wireless business is critically important.
March 8, 2006
Will we ever smarten up as a country? Isolationism will serve the U.S. poorly in the future and in the war on terror, generally. We must protect our interests in the world, of course. But this deal does not threaten our security as long as critical security information is protected by the Coast Guard and others charge with port security.
Such a sad commentary on American politicians, both Republican and Democrat. Where is the strength of America's middle?
March 7, 2006
People railed against Microsoft for its Passport service which included storing password information on MS servers for use on other sites. Now Google want's to store the total contents of your hard drive on its servers! Not my hard drive. Maybe portions of it that I want to backup, but definitely not all its contents.
Tierney believes Milwaukee's scholl voucher program works and most in Milwaukee seem to believe it, too. Too bad Vermont's education establishment and Legislature are against it.
I love it! The blogosphere, Wal-Mart and NY Times engaged in a tussle about Wal-Mart enlisting bloggers to counteract the publicity efforts of its opponents. Thanks, America, for free speech rights!
Where are the comments from the Justice Department? They must rule on the anti-trust issues, not the FCC.
Meanwhile the telco and cable elephants bellow in the jungle. How can the cablecos possibly support their continued charge of monopoly? Big does not a monopoly make.
The Times editorial stresses the need for 'Net Neutrality'. Somewhere in the future the pipes carrying the increasing volume of net traffic must be paid for by those who use them.
An interesting human interest twist on the ATT-BLS merger, but the consumer advocates always barking up the tree of more competition fail to appreciate the inroads that VoIP continues to make and the fact that all the major telcos continue to lose land based access lines.
Clearly the long term future of voice telephony belongs to wireless and VoIP.
The merger will mostly produce efficiencies in reducing the number of employees (10,000+?) and enabling consolidation of billing and better management of Cingular. Two years will be required to digest the SBC-ATT merger and the ATT-BLS merger. Although the regulators may look hard at the terms and conditions, I think they will allow the merger.
Here's additional reasonable analysis of the proposed merger by Belson of the Times.
Verizon now needs to buy Vodaphone's stake in Verizon Wireless.
While no one seems to want Qwest, perhaps Sprint could be a target for Verizon after they absorb MCI.
March 5, 2006
What an amazing industry this has been and a wild ride for shareownwers! How is it even conceivable that folks who owned a share of the original ATT before the breakup of the Bell System in 1984 and has continued to reinvest dividends and never sold could ever determine the 'original cost' of that investment? Yet, if they chose to sell any of the resulting shares, they would be required to do so to determine the capital gains/losses after nearly three decades of changes.
I suppose there's a web site out their somewhere that has tracked all the changes. Certainly the financial industry knows, but pity the poor, self-directed investor.
March 3, 2006
The story neglects an essential element. Why were the documents declassified in the first place and by whom? That' s the real story here.
March 2, 2006
As would be expected, our Vermont Senators voted against the Patriot Act. Ho Hum!
"Senators voting against the bill today, besides Mr. Feingold and Mr. Jeffords, were Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon."
An interesting recounting by the person who chaired a panel discussion. The Washington Post reporter seems to have distorted facts in his reporting. This was followed by what appears to be a 'cover-over' of the substance of the biased and incorrect reporting when the errors were brought to the attention of the Post's ombudsman.
These distortions cannot be glossed over any longer by media people who have a liberal viewpoint. It's one thing to admit a liberal (or conservative or libertarian) viewpoint so that readers are forewarned. It's unacceptable for a publication, a reporter or an editor to pretend to be unbiased.
March 1, 2006
Friedman's logic is persuasive, but I don't think America is ready for this step unless the Feds ante up some sort of subsidy for the lower income folks or until real alternatives exist, e.g. low cost, fuel efficient autos and pickup trucks made in America and carry the cachet of Ford, Dodge , GMC.
"On Venezuela, Negroponte (Chief of U.S. intelligence) said U.S. intelligence
expects President Hugo Chavez to deepen his relationship with Cuban President
Fidel Castro and “seek closer economic, military and diplomatic ties with Iran
and North Korea.” Negroponte said the U.S. is concerned about Chavez’s arms
purchases, using profits from oil production. “I would say that it’s clear that
he is spending hundreds of millions, if not more, for his very extravagant
foreign policy” at the expense of the impoverished Venezuelan population, he
Americans apparently know more about “The Simpsons” than they do about the First Amendment, according to a recent poll. Probably it's always been so. Few Americans absorb the basis of who we are, but most revel in it.
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.
"Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedomsguaranteed by the First Amendment. (Survey: can you name the fivefreedoms?)But more than half can name at least two members of thecartoon family, according to a survey."