Friday, December 2, 2016

Still No Solution

Remember a few years ago when the College Football Playoff system was formed to replace the old Bowl Championship Series in determining the National Champion?  We were told the four-team playoff would end the controversy of who should be playing for a title by doubling the number of teams in the running.  Well it has taken all of three years to prove that the CFP is just as useless as the BCS was.

Consider if you will that the winner of the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night--either Wisconsin or Penn State--will likely NOT make the College Football Playoff--despite winning what all experts agree is the toughest conference in the country this year.  Instead, at least one and possibly two teams that didn't even play for the conference title WILL get in the CFP.  Ohio State at number two in the rankings is all but assured of a spot--while Michigan at number five would need Washington or Clemson to lose in their respective conference championship games this weekend to sneak in as the last team.

Yes, you can argue that Wisconsin lost to both Ohio State and to Michigan this year--both by late touchdowns--and that Penn State was blown out by Michigan early in the year.  But to take two non-title teams to make up half the championship field makes you wonder why we even bother having conferences anymore?  Why not just have everyone play independent schedules like Notre Dame and pick the teams you think are the best.

Another thing to watch this weekend in the American Athletic Conference title game--where Navy takes on Temple.  The headlines on sports sites this week claimed that ESPN will be openly rooting against Navy in that game--because their winning the AAC would make them eligible for a New Year's Day bowl game--if they beat Army next week.  The only problem with that is if Navy loses to Army (which they haven't 14-years) then they would NOT be eligible for the New Year's game.  But ESPN--which owns most of the useless bowls played in December--needs to know Navy's status by Sunday so that all of those useless bowl matchups can be selected.  Army-Navy is December 10th, the first bowl game is the 17th--not enough time for teams to make travel plans, sell tickets and "soak up the experience" of going to New Mexico to play a .500 team in a meaningless game just so The Worldwide Leader In Sports has something to put on the air that night.

I remain a proponent of having a 16-team playoff--with all 10 conference champions getting automatic bids--and the remaining six slots being filled by at-large teams selected by a committee--with all of the other bowl games being eliminated.  Do teams from the Sun Belt or American Athletic conferences really have a chance to win?  No.  But what makes the NCAA Basketball tournament so much fun in March?  It's the little guys taking down a major power in the first round--or at least producing a dramatic contest.  And isn't that better than watching 6-6 Washington State beat 6-6 Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just Out For a Little Cruise, Officer?

I had an interesting experience the other night.  After leaving our Radio Play practice at the Grand Opera House Tuesday around 8:15 pm, I was followed closely by an Oshkosh Police Squad car for several miles.  I pulled out from the stop sign at Pearl Avenue and Division Street and the officer pulled in behind me.  He (or she--I couldn't tell in my rearview mirror at night) followed me as I took a left onto Jackson Street and then over the Oregon Street Bridge.

I started to get a bit suspicious when the squad car followed me as I made a right hand turn onto Sixth Avenue right after the bridge.  I wasn't sure if the speed limit there was 25, 30 or 35 so I made sure to keep it at a "safe" 27. 

The officer continued to follow right behind me through a couple of stop signs on 6th--and eventually to a right hand turn onto Sawyer Street.  That's where another vehicle at the four-way stop got between me and the squad car.  After sitting through the light at 9th Ave, I continued north on Sawyer and had to stop to make my left-hand turn onto Southland Avenue.  The officer pulled right back up behind me and signaled to make the same turn.

After again having to guess on the speed limit on Southland I signaled for a right-hand turn onto Lark Street--where I live--and so did the officer.  "If that guy is going to turn on the lights and stop me in front of my own house so that all of the neighbors can see, I am going to be really PO'ed" I thought.  But as I flipped on the signal and turned into my driveway, the officer slowly drove on by--and then turned at the next street.

So I have to wonder, why was I being followed?  I guess I could have turned on my police scanner app on my cellphone to see if he was radioing back to dispatch what my possible violation might be (although monitoring a police frequency in a vehicle is against the law).  There is no way that could be a routine patrol route.  "Yeah, I just finished my drive by at the Town Motel, now I'm going to make sure nothing's going on along one block of Lark Street.  I'm going to take the route with the most right-hand turns and fewest stoplights too."

Anyway, I hope the officer enjoyed trailing after Mr Law Abiding Citizen on his way home.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

You may have missed it last week with the holiday and deer hunting going on, but a Federal Judge ruled that it is unconstitutional to have Democrats living in highly-concentrated areas in Wisconsin.  That is the gist of a ruling that finds the current legislative districts drawn up after the 2010 census are illegal. 

The term "gerrymandering" was used to described the drawing of the district lines by Republicans in the Democratic suit.  The "mander" part of the word comes from "salamander"--which is what was used to describe districts drawn up by Democrats in Massachusetts in the 1800's to protect their candidates:

When you look at the current Wisconsin district map, you don't see narrow strips of one district winding around others to capture the voters Republicans want:


As I have mentioned before, it is very easy to place Democrats into just a handful of districts in the state.  They tend to live close to their Government jobs so they can take Government-provided transportation or use public bike share programs to ride Government-provided trails while sending their kids to Government-run magnet schools.  Or perhaps they are stuck in Government-supported housing in areas where Democrats have been in power for 50-years and there are no economic opportunities.  Republicans tend to like having more space and they prefer to drive directly to wherever they want to go whenever they want to do it.

Political watchdogs have long decried the lack of "competitive elections" in Wisconsin.  They think that if the lines are redrawn--usually by a "non-partisan" non-elected committee--balance will be brought to the system.  But I think Republicans should engage in some real gerrymandering instead.  Redraw districts that will break up the cities of Madison and Milwaukee into dozens of little pieces--pairing them with outlying, heavily-Republican areas.  Let's see what happens when some representatives from Milwaukee who haven't faced a challenger in years, have to go up against well-funded candidates from the WOW (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) counties.  And it would be interesting to see a self-identifying trans-gender vegan from the UW Madison campus area have to visit a Monroe dairy farmer and spend ten minutes lecturing him on how his operation is torturing animals--and then ask for his vote.

So Republicans should make an effort to make sure there are NO safe seats for Democrats anymore--and make it a "fair contest" in every district.  Remember, they asked for it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Gigantic Waste of Time

Have you ever had your boss drop a project on your desk that you know will require a ton of work and won't result in anything actually being done?  Jill Stein is trying to drop one of those projects on the desks of County Clerks across Wisconsin.  Stein's demand for a recount--which everyone insists will not change the results of the Presidential election and will not find any evidence of outside tampering with election machines or results--will be one of the greatest wastes of time, resources and money in state history.

In addition to the time County Clerk offices will spend recounting the ballots, you will also need to have observers from the Green Party, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on hand in all 72-counties to make sure that the procedure is conducted in accordance with the law.  That leads me to wonder if the Stein campaign could even find 72-supporters to be in every county (most of them likely don't have jobs to go to for two weeks).  And to meet the December 13th deadline to verify Wisconsin's results, all of those county workers will likely have to work the next two weekends.  Sure hope all those folks had their Christmas shopping done!

The state Elections Commission put the price tag on the recount at $3.5-MILLION dollars--which is the cost the 72 County Clerks around the state put as an estimate of how much it would cost them to review all of their ballots.  And that won't cover the cost of attorneys hired by the campaigns to answer questions about legal procedures.  Corporation Counsels in every county will also have to be "on call" during the recounts to deal with the same issues.  The irony of all of this is that Jill Stein has raised more money to fund her recall threats than she did during her entire Presidential campaign.

And to make the process even more time-consuming and labor intensive, Stein is insisting that all of the ballots be hand-counted--because you never know, the Russian hackers might still be able to access those voting machines--even though none of them are hooked up to the internet.  Even after the state Elections Commission refused to order a hand count, Stein immediately filed a lawsuit to get a judge to order the process--and to add more expense to the recount as well.  And since that suit was filed in Dane County, we can probably expect a judge who also buys into the Stein's delusion of "outside forces affecting the election".

It's a shame that we here in Wisconsin will have to bear the brunt of an ego-maniac's quest to remain in the public eye--and her desire to be seen as a "champion for honest government".  Well, enough of me talking--I'll let you get back to preparing those TPS reports that nobody ever reads.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Comrades in Arms

In 1996, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott--the daughter of German immigrants--came under fire for her comments painting Adolf Hitler.  Schott said that German people initially liked what Hitler did for their country, "but then he went too far".  Schott was belittled in the press and was eventually suspended from running the team and was forced to sell the franchise by Major League Baseball.  She died a few years later a broken woman.  For most of the weekend I thought Marge Schott had risen from the dead as I heard about the liberal tributes to Fidel Castro.

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein--who is forcing a recount of Wisconsin's votes even though every political expert says there is no chance of overturning Donald Trump's win--posted on Twitter "Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire".  President Obama issued a statement saying "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."  Madison Mayor Paul Soglin--who illegally met with Castro in Cuba back in the 1970's--called him a "popular leader who inspired generations of Cubans".  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went full-on fan boy referring to Castro as a "larger than life leader that served his people" and that his "supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people".  Former British Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn called Castro a "Champion of Social Justice".

These accolades stood in stark contrast to the comments from Cuban-Americans who fled the island after Castro came to power--targeting them for political dissent or seizing the assets of their family businesses.  They tell the stories of family members left behind that were imprisoned without trial, executed upon Castro's orders only, and the refusal to never hold democratic elections during his 50-years in power.  And let's not forget the thousands that died trying to flee Cuba in homemade rafts or boats that sank and capsized in the ocean.

You can understand why all of those liberals choose to ignore the egregious human rights violations and instead choose to focus on what they consider to be all of the "good things" Castro did for Cubans.  He held a power that they all covet.  Castro decided what type of speech would be allowed.  Castro decided what products would be produced in his country.  Castro decided what curriculum would be taught in all schools.  Castro controlled the health care system.  Castro took riches away from those who had "exploited the workers" before he came to power.  Castro was a "champion of social justice" as he decided what was a crime and what the punishment would be--without the hassle of passing laws or holding trials.  And the fact that he thumbed his nose at the United States for so long just endeared him even more to the American Left.  It's just too bad that he "went a bit too far" in exerting that control.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Kicking Butt, Old School Style

On Saturday, the Menominee Maroons will play for a Michigan state high school football title--and a quarterback will never step on the field for them.  In an era where many schools have gone to the
Spread/Read Option offense that slings the ball all around the field on every down, Menominee runs an offense that harkens back to the days when the forward pass was illegal.

The Maroons operate the Single-Wing offense--which was invented by Pop Warner in 1907--when he was coaching the Carlisle Indians and his star player was Jim Thorpe.  For those not old enough to have seen the Single Wing in action, the fullback and the halfback line up with a hand on the ground about four yards behind the offensive line and the center may snap the ball to either one of them to start the play.  There are no "wide receivers"--just "ends" who run little slip routes after faking like they are blocking for another running play.  The halfback or fullback usually throw the passes.  A blocking back lines up behind one of the tackles--usually on the same side as the wing-back--who lines up just behind one of the ends.  There is never a direct-snap to a player under center.

One of my first "professional" play-by-play assignments was a Menominee football game.  Fortunately, I had been briefed that they ran the Single Wing--but nothing prepares you for seeing it in person yourself.  The offense is predicated on misdirection.  The center snap is directional--so the halfback or fullback usually catch it while running sideways or toward the line of scrimmage.  There are reverse inside handoffs, there are laterals to the wingback running behind the formation, there are throwback passes between the backs--and it's all behind trap blocking--so defenders never know which way the play is going based on the offensive line movement.

Don't think that Menominee's run to the state title game this year is some kind of "Hoosiers" on a football field.  The Maroons already have three state titles--and have been to the final four nearly a dozen times.  In fact, one of the years I was in Menominee, they won the champtionship--beating a powerhouse Detroit suburban private school with future college players soundly--all while making them look clueless on how to stop such a "primitive" offense.

The key to Menominee's success is that the Single Wing is the only system they ever learn.  From day one at Pee Wee practice, they run it.  The kid playing center on this year's high school team has been the center his entire football career--since he needs to know in which direction to hike the ball and which gap he has to block.  The halfback and fullback have played those positions for as many as ten years--knowing all of the options that can be called from just a single formation that is used all game long.

It's nice to know that in an era filled with so many "offensive geniuses" who have completely abandoned the running game (I'm looking at you Mike McCarthy) that the "groundbreaking system" can still win.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

VERY Bad Math

If you think the 2016 election is over, you may be sadly mistaken.  Social media is ablaze with screenshots of results from Outagamie County showing that there were more votes for President reported on election night than there were actual ballots cast.  In Grand Chute there was a discrepancy of 12-hundred--while in Hortonville, the "overage" was more than 400.  "Russians hacked the voting machines in Wisconsin!" was the usual response.  I spoke with Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright about it Tuesday morning and she blamed the discrepancies on "reporting errors" or "bad math" from the polling places provided by "tired" election inspectors.  I expected that the number of ballots cast would be adjusted up to match the actual candidate vote totals reported on Election Night.

But then the official numbers as tabulated by the Board of Canvass came out yesterday afternoon and they show that in Grand Chute, Hortonville and the couple of other municipalities with "reporting errors", every single "extra vote" came off of Donald Trump's numbers.  The Hillary Clinton results were virtually unchanged--but Trump lost a total of more than 16-hundred votes in the "final" Outagamie County results.  That's some REALLY bad math! 

And now that will really fuel the "election was rigged" firestorm.  I'm already seeing extrapolations that argue you could apply the Outagamie County results to all 72-counties in Wisconsin--and Hillary Clinton would have won by 50-thousand votes--instead of losing by 27-thousand.  I also expect plenty of scrutiny to be placed on those election inspectors that phoned in the results--because the way we cover elections now, early unofficial results are used to call winners--sometimes with less than half the precincts reporting.  And once a state is called, everyone's attention moves somewhere else.  There isn't much focus on any changes that are made to the "official" vote certified by the Board of Canvass a couple of weeks later--after the "winner" is already hiring staff and cabinet members.

The Clinton Campaign is being urged to demand a recount in Wisconsin--and there is an on-line petition to have the Department of Justice (while it is still headed up by President Obama appointees) to conduct an audit of election results and procedures in several battleground states that Clinton lost unexpectedly.  The good thing that will likely prevent Wisconsin from the international mockery and outrage that Florida received in 2000 is that flipping our 10 Electoral College votes won't be enough to keep Donald Trump from still claiming victory (unless the Feds nullify the results in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well). 

By the way, I'd suggest not bringing this up at the Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow--until after the pumpkin pie.