The Dutch Follow Suit

The Netherlands has followed France's lead and rejected the EU Constitution.

Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European Union constitution Wednesday, the prime minister said, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.

Less than an hour after the polls closed, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende conceded defeat in his campaign to ratify the constitution and said the government would respect the results of the overwhelmingly "no" vote on the referendum.

"Naturally, I'm very disappointed," he said in a televised statement.

An exit poll broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the constitution failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent, an even worse defeat than the 55 percent "no" vote in France's referendum

Turnout was 62 percent, far exceeding even the most optimistic expectations and a reflection of the heated debate in recent days over an issue that has polarized Europeans. Dutch liberals worried a more united EU could weaken liberal social policies, while conservatives feared losing control of immigration.

Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people's verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.

The constitution was designed to further unify the 25-nation bloc and give it more clout on the world stage. But the draft document needs approval from all the nations to take effect in late 2006, and the "no" vote in both France and the Netherlands founding members of the bloc was a clear message European integration has gone awry.

With these two members rejecting the Constitution, it's as good as dead. This is a mixed result at best. Europe needed the free market reforms that the EU will someday provide it, this rejection continues the social welfare state for nations like France, the Netherlands, and Germany. That's not good for the global economy at all.

But the Constitution's defeat also maintains the sovereignty of these nations - not the diplomatic counter to the U.S. men like Chirac and Schroeder had wished their EU to be.

Surprised It's Not "May Day"

Congratulations Wisconsin Marxists, Communists, and other "Progressives;" your dream of a higher minimum wage comes true today.

This is, of course, nothing more than a "Save Governor Jim Doyle, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEAC, and his floundering Governorship" move.

The real tragedy of this is that no one with an "R" after their name had the guts to make a reasoned free market-based argument against raising the minimum wage. Instead, we get a pre-emption bill that Doyle "would consider" signing sometime today because they were all afraid to go on record with a sound logically-based argument.

The only legislator to make that free market argument spoke once more against it this morning.
The false impression continually reinforced by the overheated partisan political rhetoric is that raising the minimum wage helps poor families. The truth is that an overwhelming majority of these jobs are held by first time workers desperately in need of work experience, most often for a short time, not heads of households trying to support a family. Raising the minimum wage will only have the effect of making it much harder for those needing that first job to enter the work force and gain the experience that will allow them to move up to get a better job, most often, quickly.

This isn't about making profits for business. Making these jobs harder to get will greatly hurt the anonymous poor and the young workers who need employment. Knocking out another bottom rung on the ladder of economic opportunity by raising the minimum wage just makes it harder for those who deserve the opportunity to climb aboard and share in the prosperity of America."
Thanks again Ziggy.

Post-Crescent Rains on HOPE

The Editors of the Appleton Post-Crescent aren't fooled with the latest 'feel good sounding name, but lack of a way to pay for it' tax shift that Democrats in the State Legislature.

I almost feel sorry for State Senate Minority Leader Judy "Moonbeam" Robson (D-Beloit) and State Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) for this brow-beating.

Did Democrats in the Legislature decide first to call a sketchy plan they introduced last week for controlling property taxes the Homeowner's Property Exemption act, then realize that, in a happy accident, they'd be promoting HOPE? Or did they come up with the acronym HOPE, then with a proposal that would fit?

Indeed, as we suspect they did with its name, lawmakers seem to have backed into the legislation. HOPE, they tell us, would give property taxpayers a break and pay for it by closing some of those evil corporate tax loopholes. Most of the specific loopholes are yet to be identified. HOPE relies on the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions to recommend which the state should close to pay for the tax break.

Democratic lawmakers referred to some of states' more ludicrous sales tax exemptions, like luxury skyboxes, and note that "loopholes" amount to more than $3 billion. The skyboxes are a pittance. It's the exemptions for business-to-business services, like attorneys' and accountants' fees and advertising, and on personal services, like doctors' and dentists' services, that really add up. But it's not really businesses that pay sales taxes. It's consumers.

Property taxpayers are eager for real relief, not a tax shift. They need more than HOPE.
HOPE stands for Homeowner's Property Exemption; to paraphrase a known TABOR opponent: Where'd they get the "O" from?

Sometimes it's too easy...

Makes the Unemployment Check Easier to Swallow

Meant to talk about this yesterday when it broke.

Arthur Anderson, or what's left of it, was acquitted of any wrongdoing yesterday by a unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court Decision in the Enron case.
With a brief, pointed and unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned Arthur Andersen's conviction for shredding Enron accounting documents
as that company was collapsing in one of the nation's biggest corporate scandals.

The court held that the trial judge's instructions to the jury failed to require the necessary proof that Andersen knew its actions were wrong.

But the decision represents little more than a Pyrrhic victory for Andersen, which lost its clients after being indicted on obstruction of justice charges and has no chance of returning as a viable enterprise. The accounting firm has shrunk from 28,000 employees in the United States to a skeleton crew of 200, who are attending to the final details of closing down the partnership.
The Wall Street Journal's editorial on the matter is a bit more pointed.
The verdict, if not the indictment itself, was a death sentence for the partnership, 98% of whose employees had never cast an eye on an Enron audit. It was handed down by a Houston jury after 10 days of deliberation, and nearly a hung jury, following instructions from the judge that the Supreme Court now says were faulty. Anyone interested in a succinct history of Andersen's role in the Enron collapse, by the way, should make a point of reading Chief Justice William Rehnquist's 12-page ruling for the Court.
That ruling can be found here.

I was at college at the time this all went down. (Wrote about it here.) Part of the problem that surfaced was that the media, fresh off of Recount 2000, wanted to bring Bush down to the level their Democratic and liberal friends felt he deserved to be at. So, in a fool-hardy attempt to make Enron Bush's "Watergate" and "Whitewater," a fine institution of American corporate enterprise was sacrificed.

Was there corporate wrongdoing? Yes - but not enough to have the damage effected to it and the thousands now employed elsewhere lose their livelihoods for what in essence was a media and political witchhunt.

Most of my friends at college who were Accounting majors ended up working for Ernst & Young out of the Twin Cities after school. E&Y is one of the remain "Big Four" accounting firms in America. Along with them are KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Kurt has a friend who works there), and PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC).

Arthur Anderson made it five.

Be Mindful of the Orange Cones

Just a quick heads-up to our readers.

We are in the midst of some tweaking of the blog right now.

Because of that, we've lost the comments. Kurt and I are both sorry about that.
We're hoping we can get them back shortly (once we figure out what we're doing) and regular blog activity can resume.

The only concern we have in resuming blog normality (blogality?) is that both Kurt and I are going to be extremely busy over the next week or so.

Thankful to all those who are understanding of this.

The World Believes Them

I should’ve hit on this sooner but I’m still enjoying my Memorial Day weekend. Anyway, I guess nothing can surprise you when we talk about Al Qaeda.
An al Qaeda handbook preaches to operatives to level charges of torture once captured, a training regime that administration officials say explains some of the charges of abuse at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
In a raid on an al Qaeda cell in Manchester, British authorities seized al Qaeda's most extensive manual for how to wage war. A directive lists one mission as "spreading rumors and writing statements that instigate people against the enemy." If captured, the manual states, "At the beginning of the trial ... the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge. Complain of mistreatment while in prison." The handbook instructs commanders to make sure operatives, or "brothers," understand what to say if captured. "Prior to executing an operation, the commander should instruct his soldiers on what to say if they are captured," the document says. "He should explain that more than once in order to ensure that they have assimilated it. They should, in turn, explain it back to the commander." An example might have occurred in a Northern Virginia courtroom in February. Ahmed Omar Abul Ali, accused of planning to assassinate President Bush, made an appearance in U.S. District Court and promptly told the judge that he had been tortured in Saudi Arabia, including a claim that his back had been whipped. He is accused of meeting there with a senior al Qaeda leader. Days later, a U.S. attorney filed a court document saying physicians had examined Ali and "found no evidence of any physical mistreatment on the defendant's back or any other part of his body."
Again, the Media tells us a different story; got to love them.
He added, "None of this is meant to excuse the situation we found when individuals were unfortunately abused at Abu Ghraib. That was wrong."

Tuesday Quick Hits

Deep Throat Unveiled?

Sorry, never have cared for this story. Just not a big portion of my generation.

Oh Great, You
After the firing of Jean-Pierre Raffarin as French Prime Minister by French President Jacques Chirac, Iraqi War critic Dominique de Villepin was named in his place.

Some bloggers missed this small little part of French Politics, when either the President or the Prime Minister resigns, the other gets to name his replacement.

With Villepin as the French PM, Chirac is banking on letting anti-Americanism be his key platform in his re-election campaign. French elections are scheduled for 2007.

The key to watching the "Axis of Weasels" will be tomorrow with the Dutch elections on the EU Constitution. If that falls, and with the likely loss of Schroeder in Germany next year, the Axis will eat itself.

Serves them right.

Next Target: Wal-Mart
Actually it never stopped being a target for the American Anti-Capitalist Left, it just is this decade's Goliath to take down.

Today alone we have input from the
Sierra Club (How does this effect the environment?), Xoff, Folkbum, and others on the article from last week that Wal-Mart employees make up 40% of those on BadgerCare - the state's health care program for the working poor.

There's a rally scheduled tomorrow in Madison by the usual suspects as the typical "Unions vs. Wal-Mart" storyline continues.

My guess: Wal-Mart will continue to win.

No More Americans in Paris
The last American still alive in the French Open, top-seeded Lindsay Davenport, was ousted today. She lost in straight sets 6-3,6-2 to Mary Pierce.

Also losing was No. 2 Maria Sharapova, the Russian teen sensation/model, who unlike Anna Kournakova, can actually win tennis tournaments. She lost in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, to Justin Henin-Hardenne.

UW-Stout: ROTC Decision Reversed

Via JS's DayWatch:
The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stout has reversed his earlier decision to prevent an Army ROTC program from being established on the campus, citing earlier UW System regent policies and federal law.

Chancellor Charles Sorensen, who announced the reversal today after two weeks of criticism from Republican legislators and others, said he remains concerned about the ROTC programs position on "banning people because of their stated sexual orientation."

Nonetheless, he insisted the change was not a result of "external political pressure," but rather that the school could not violate regent policies or federal laws. UW-Stout could have lost significant federal funding if it barred the program.
Good for them, though I don't buy the press release one second that it was not the result of "external political pressure." UW-Stout Chancellor Sorenson was taking a large amount of heat for this.

He was the one-man veto, after all. Using the always believable "We oppose 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" Ivy League excuse that even Ivy Leaguers don't buy.

Sorenson is just another left-wing college administrator who hates the military - nothing else to it.

UPDATE 10:57 AM - This news report from reports that Sorenson made the announcement yesterday in a memo.
In a memo sent out to the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus Monday morning, Chancellor Charles Sorenson reversed his earlier decision banning an Army reserve officer training program on campus in Memomonie.

In his memo Sorenson noted that the decision to ban ROTC from campus would go against long-standing UW Board of Regents policy and would put the university in violation of federal law.

"After contact from UW System's General Counsel, it became clear to me that campus attempts to prohibit an ROTC chapter may be a violation of regent policy and federal law. In reading the law it appears that barring ROTC could place significant amounts of federal funding for us at risk."
Why send out a memo on Memorial Day unless you're totally ashamed of the decision you made in the first place?

Sorenson's a total phony.

Great Outdoor Madison Games

Let the Logrolling Continue!!

The Wisconsin Green Party has followed the lead of
Madison Alderman and undiagnosed sociopath Austin King and is charging not only Governor Jim Doyle, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEAC, with logrolling; but also Assembly Speaker John Gard and Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz.

Since it's the Wisconsin Green Party; expect it to be ignored.

"The deal worked out between Doyle, Gard, and Schultz isn't just bad for low-wage workers, it's illegal. It's clear that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce brokered a deal between the Governor and the Republican leadership, and it's time for Wisconsin's Attorney General to clean house," said Jill Busierre, Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Green Party.

Wisconsin's anti-logrolling statutes were the work of the progressive leadership in the 1911 Wisconsin State Legislature, which also passed the first workers' compensation law in this country, the first workable income tax in the country, a state life insurance program, legislation that aided farm cooperatives and agricultural education, and a corrupt practices act that was designed to clean up political activity, among other things. Wisconsin's heralded Home Rule statutes and constitutional amendments soon followed. The Wisconsin Green Party, as a direct descendent of the independent progressive political movements of the teens, twenties, and thirties, calls for the enforcement of Wisconsin's progressive-era clean government laws.

"The State Capitol, Fighting Bob LaFollette's 'Temple of Democracy,' needs a cleaning once again," said Ben Manski, a longtime Wisconsin Green Party activist. "The burden is on the Attorney General to take up that charge and work with reformers to make Wisconsin government transparent and accountable once again."

Owen gives a good detailed description of 'logrolling' here.

Some quick observations.

1) Has someone called
Ed Garvey? The Greens are now claiming they own "Fighting Bob" LaFollette.
Thought he had the copyright?

The Minimum Wage will go up tomorrow to $5.70, currently it is at $5.15.

3) This issue won't resonate beyond Madison, where major damage will occur to Doyle's left flank. Already there has been outcries by Madison Mayor David Cieslewicz about the preemption deal.

Adding the Wisconsin Greens to the party, doesn't help Jimbo one bit. The reality of a strong (or any) presence of the Wisconsin Greens running their own candidate for Governor in 2006 continues to grow.

All guesses are on a 3-party fight in 2006, GOP (Either Green or Walker), Doyle, and whoever the Greens through out there.

That's an Understatement

From an unnamed 'Senior EU bureaucrat, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial today.
"They [The French people] haven't read it. If they had read it, they wouldn't understand it. If they understood it, they wouldn't like it."
This bureaucrat then said the French citizens would then vote to approve the EU Constitution. (They didn't.)

The Constitution is a whopping 485 pages, took two years to produce, and is one of the most puke-inducing documents to ever be penned. While opening up the traditionally collectivist Eurocentric economies, it was also one of the most anti-Semitic and anti-Christian documents ever produced.

I'm personally torn on this defeat of this document. (The French "non" increases chances of the Dutch also saying 'no.' Italy is now thinking it approved it to fast, and the Poles are upset about the way French Socialists used imagery of a Polish plumber to urge defeat.) While the one thing that Europeans need to get their economy out of the doldrums is free-market reforms - something the EU Constitution was going to give them - it should not have been done in the manner that it was going to be: Forced on them like a child and his couch syrup.

So the European social welfare state lives on; for now.

Someday it will have to end, or it will only continue Europe down the road to 3rd tier economic status they seem destined to be on.

When the EU Constitution dies the well-deserved death it deserves and the next Constitutional Convention is called, some pointers:
  1. Keep it simple (and short)
  2. Don't force it on them - if French socialists want the thing to die - so be it.
  3. Listen to the people - it's easier then it sounds
Perhaps, then it will be something worthy of the birthplace of the classical liberal enlightenment.


Today May 31st, we celebrate World No Tobacco Day.
This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
The Member States of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. In 1987, the World Health Assemby passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for 7 April 1988 to be a "a world no-smoking day." In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.

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