Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Correcting the Historical Record

I've mentioned here before my abhorrence of revisionist history.  It is becoming more common to elevate minor characters in the development of the American nation to some sort of "major figure" status in an effort to appeal to all demographics and modern minority groups.  And then you have the application of today's social mores to historical events and decisions in an effort to create a "right side of history" and a "wrong side of history".  But sometimes you need to revise historical record in order to correct actual factual errors.

That may be the case for one of the most famous images in American history: the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.

Since 1945, it was believed that Appleton resident John Bradley--who was a Navy Medical Corpsman--was one of the six men pictured in this Pulitzer Prize winning photo.  But now, two historians believe the man credited as being Bradley was actually a different Marine--because the clothes worn by Bradley in this photo are slightly different from those worn by him in other pictures taken that same day.

Like many events in history, the details of the Iwo Jima flag raising are...messy.  The iconic picture taken by Joe Rosenthal was actually the second flag raising on Mount Surabachi that day.  Another one had taken place a few hours before involving a few different Marines--and including John Bradley again:

One of the commanders in the battle wanted a bigger flag on the pole, so a company of Marines went up the hill--took down the first flag--and raised the second--which was captured in the famous photo.
Now, the Marine Corps will now review the pictures from that day again and decide if John Bradley retains the honor of being credited as one of the second flag raisers--as well as one of the first.
If the historical record is changed to reflect that Bradley was not involved in the second flag raising does that make him any less of an American hero?  Raising the flag one or two times was probably the least heroic thing John Bradley did on Iwo Jima.  He was awarded the Navy Cross for entering enemy fire to drag out injured Marines at the foot of the mountain and get them medical treatment the same day as the flag raising.  He also received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered when a mortar round exploded near him and other Corpsmen a few days after the flag raisings.
And while Bradley may have mistakenly been included in the publicity (or some would say propaganda) tour following Iwo Jima, he helped raise $27-BILLION in war bond sales--which allowed the troops that continued to fight to have enough guns and ammunition, new ships, new airplanes, bombs, food and medical care to win the war on both fronts.  And to his credit, he never personally cashed in on what certainly could have been a very lucrative story-telling career.
To me, it doesn't matter if John Bradley was in both flag raisings, in just the first one or maybe not in either of them.  It doesn't change the fact that he was one of the finest examples of what it means to be an American.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tardius, Inferior, Debelior

Faced with an increasing number of student-athletes failing their courses and unable to play sports, the Madison School District has taken bold action to rectify the situation.  Did they set up special study halls for failing athletes?  No.  Did the teacher-coaches work with their kids to help them with the subjects in which they are struggling?  No.  Did they establish peer-driven tutoring where academically successful student-athletes help their teammates and serve as accountability partners?  No.  What the Madison School District decided to do was lower the bar for eligibility.

Until now if a student-athlete was failing three course (THREE!!) they were no longer allowed to practice with their team.  (Fortunately, the WIAA does not allow any students with ANY failing grades to play in games--however, continued practice can occur if that is a school policy.)  When a growing number of kids couldn't meet that eligibility threshold, officials decided to basically do away with any failure limits and allow kids to continue to practice with the team--no matter how poorly they are doing in the classroom.

Supporters of the change do have a convoluted logic for this.  They believe that by allowing failing kids to continue to at least practice with the team it will give them the motivation to improve their grades at least to the point where they can once again play in games.  They also argue that being in sports provides those kids with some structure in their lives.  Studies are rolled out as well showing that participation in sports also leads to higher graduation rates for "at-risk" students.

For starters, the higher graduation rates are due in large part to the fact that there are MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR PASSING YOUR CLASSES TO PLAY SPORTS!!  (This is the same flawed logic that gave us the "people with bachelors degrees earn a million dollars more over their lifetime--so let's give everyone a bachelors degree"--even though the reason people with degree made more is because not everyone had one.)  What's more, how does that make the kids who are actually putting in the effort to pass their classes feel about that effort?  "Gee, I'm doing my homework as soon as I get home from practice while he's playing video games and texting girls all night and he still gets to be a part of the team?"

And remember, this is Madison we are talking about--where the principals of Progressivism and Liberalism are practiced to their fullest extent in all facets of life--and the best thing that can be offered to as much as 5% of the student body is "just keep showing up to school so you can practice with the basketball or football team?"

It's a shame that the tractor has replaced beasts of burden in modern agriculture--otherwise we could send a farmer to the next Madison School Board meeting to tell members what happens with a mule when you take the carrot off the stick and just give it to him for not doing anything.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Throwing It All Away

On Friday night, Miami Marlins pitcher Adam Conley had a no-hitter going against the Brewers at Miller park into the 8th inning when he was removed from the game by his manager Don Mattingly because he his "pitch count was too high".  Conley had thrown 116-pitches with one out in the 8th. A couple of relievers came in after that--not only giving up a hit--but giving up three runs in the 9th to make it much closer than it needed to be.

This was the second time this year that a pitcher with a no-hitter was lifted from a game.  LA Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed Ross Stipling from a no-hitter in the 8th inning against the San Francisco Giants earlier this month due to "too high a pitch count".  He had thrown exactly 100-pitches.  The next batter hit a game-tying home run off the reliever brought in to save the no-no.

Managers and pitching coaches that live and die by pitch counts nowadays are like global warming alarmists.  The don't seem to know what going past their "numbers" would actually mean--and anyone who suggests exceeding those "limits" is scolded for wanting to "destroy the game".  Pitch counts have become such an important part of the game that telecasts now have them posted in the corner of the screen at all times along with the count and the score.

It wasn't always like this.  Nolan Ryan once threw 235-pitches in a 14-inning loss to Luis Tiant--who threw a complete game with 195-pitches.  Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves both went the distance in a 16-inning game--throwing 227 and 201 pitches respectively.  Oh, and Spahn was 42-years old at the time.

Pitch counts start early now in baseball.  Kids in Little League are limited to 75-pitches a game and a certain number per week or weekend tournament.  The argument for that is "it saves their arms".  Yet, the majority of young pitchers in the Major Leagues today have already had Tommy John surgery to repair torn tendons in their pitching arms.  Some baseball insiders have even called it a "step in their careers" and how you "want to get it out of the way as soon as possible".

There is a vocal (but growing) minority that believes kids should be encouraged to throw MORE at younger ages to build up better arm endurance.  The key is to not throw every pitch at absolute maximum velocity.  Pitching today is a power game--with starters throwing 95-miles an hour going six-innings (due to pitch counts) relieved by bullpen guys throwing 97 in the 7th and 8th and a closer who can hit 100.  Mix in a lot more off-speed stuff and well-placed breaking balls, and pitchers would have no problem going more than 100-pitches without looking into the dugout for the manager to come and get them. 

Next, let's debunk the "Tony LaRussa Legacy" that your closer can only come in at the start of the 9th inning with no runners on base........

Friday, April 29, 2016

Someone Must Be Held Accountable

I would hope that there are a number of high-level meetings going on at Neenah City Hall today to discuss why misinformation was provided to the press and the public for so long in connection with the hostage situation and fatal shooting at Eagle Nation Cycles back in December.  Since that day, Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson told us that his officers shouted for Michael Funk to drop his handgun after he escaped from the building--before opening fire on him.  Wilkinson also said that those officers then rushed in trying to save Funk's life--and that he was taken to Theda Clark--where he eventually died.  It was a version of events Wilkinson reiterated first when the ambulance company and ThedaCare claimed there was no patient taken to the hospital that day--and again when Funk's family filed a $3.5-Million lawsuit against the city alleging officers opened fire upon Funk without warning--and then left him lying in the street to die.

But on Thursday, USA Today Wisconsin Network posted dashcam video from a Neenah Police Department squad car that showed pretty much everything Wilkinson said that happened was wrong--and pretty much everything Funk's family said happened was correct.  The video shows Funk jumping out of the building and trying to run away when officers opened fire on him.  No audible warnings to "drop your gun!" or "get on the ground!".  Then, an armored vehicle moves to the scene--but no one rushes out to help Funk or to even check if he is still alive.

In interviews with the media on Thursday, Wilkinson admitted to having seen the dashcam video--but offered no explanation for why he did not revise his version of events that day until the newspaper released the video.  He also offered the excuse that his statement that Funk was warned to drop his weapon before being shot was not based on comments by his officers themselves--but rather from witnesses--who can often times be unreliable in their recall of events in very stressful situations.

I'm sure that an attorney--perhaps one at City Hall--advised the Neenah Police Department to stand by its initial version of events at Eagle Nation--especially after the Funk family filed its lawsuit.  But as public officials who need the public's trust to properly carry out their duties, this obstructionism will likely do more harm than the acts captured in the video themselves.  And now those officials who both took part in and authorized this intentional effort to mis-inform the public must be held accountable--and I'm not talking about paying civil judgements that are covered by the taxpayers.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Most Pointless Major Announcement in the History of Major Announcements

I have to admit, that when we got the alert that Ted Cruz was planning a "major announcement" on Wednesday that I just assumed that God had told him to give up on his Presidential campaign.  At this point that is the only "major" development that could happen.  Instead, Cruz took the outrageous step of announcing that Carly Fiorina will be his "running mate". 

I guess that in an election that has been the most bizarre in recent memory it would make sense that a candidate with no chance at the nomination would select a Vice Presidential nominee.  Justin Bieber may as well announce his date for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony today.  Or the Cubs should let the city of Chicago know what route they are going to use for their World Series Victory Parade--because there is about as much chance of those things happening as there is of Cruz-Fiorina actually appearing on a ballot near you this November.

Nonetheless, everyone was taking this "major announcement" seriously yesterday.  They even had "Cruz and Carly" t-shirts, signs and bumper stickers ready for everyone.  Fiorina had a speech full of "we's" written for her and pundits actually had a serious discussion about how this would "re-energize" the Cruz campaign.

Apparently everyone has forgotten that Carly Fiorina had next to no support while she was actually running for President.  She was relegated to the "opening debates" while there were 12-candidates still in the race.  She never had double-digit support in any polls and barely got over three percent of the vote in the couple of caucuses and primaries while running.  So what 'energy" does she bring to a campaign that exists only to keep Donald Trump from reaching the magic number of delegates so that Paul Ryan can end up getting the nomination in Cleveland?

All yesterday's "major announcement" ensured is that we will have to listen to two defeated and dejected people when the next Ted Cruz "major announcement" details his ending his futile effort to be the Republican nominee for President.

Franklin Roosevelt's Vice President John Nance Garner once said the position "wasn't worth a warm bucket of spit".  What is it worth to be a Vice Presidential "selection" that never gets on the ballot?  My guess is it's equal to a cold pile of elephant dung.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nothing To See Here

An interesting battle is playing out in a Federal Court as media outlets try to gain access to 11,000 documents pertaining to a lawsuit between investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Government.  For those not familiar, the Federal Government pumped billions of dollars into the mortgage giants in an effort to stem the tide of home foreclosures after the housing market bubble burst in 2008.  They were also used as "toxic investment dump sites"--taking over the properties that were hopelessly underwater that were held by the "too big to fail banks" that also got bailout cash from the Government.

Those "too big to fail banks" eventually paid back the money the Fed gave them to stay afloat--and have gone back to impressive profits again.  But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not paid back a single penny of what they "owe"--despite the Treasury collecting $228-BILLION from the two entities in just three years.  And that is why the investors are suing--because they aren't seeing any dividends.  Initially, the Fed was going to collect just 10% of profits to "pay back" their investment--but now they have decided to keep 100% of the profits--or about $40-BILLION.

Documents detailing why Federal officials decided to renege on their initial agreement, where all of that money is going, and what plans they have for Fannie and Freddie (there is a belief that they will be sold off to the "too big to fail" banks themselves--giving them almost exclusive control of the mortgage markets) are currently blocked from public view by the Obama Administration.  The White House is using claims of "executive privilege", "attorney-client privilege" and "deliberative process" to keep all 11-thousand documents secret.  However, a Federal Judge did find that none of those excuses hold water--as the documents would only cause "embarrassment" for the Administration and the Fed--not a financial crisis.  This is where it should be pointed out that President Obama promised to be the "most open and transparent administration in history". 

It's too bad Hillary Clinton never served as Treasury Secretary--then we could have just hacked her private server and we'd have all of these documents already.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Corrupt Bargain

Some of you may be "shocked" that Ted Cruz and John Kasich have decided to "tank" certain states in advance of today's primaries so that one or the other does better against Donald Trump in the effort to keep him from getting the majority of delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination.  Some may wonder why you wouldn't actively try to convince as many people as possible to voter for you--instead of hoping people will just vote against the other guy.  Some wonder why the two didn't come to this agreement sooner--saving them both a lot of money and effort in a number of other states.

The Trumpster is of course railing against this strategy--calling it an "unprecedented effort" to target just him.  Well, if The Donald knew his US history and politics, he would know this isn't the first time such a deal has been struck.  In fact, he's missing out on using the great title given to one such agreement in the past: "The Corrupt Bargain".

The Presidential election of 1824 saw John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson split the Electoral College Vote in such a way that none of them were able to secure the majority of votes needed to win the Presidency.  That sent the election into the House of Representatives--where Clay was the Speaker of the House.  Despite that position, Clay didn't have enough support to win in the House, so he convinced his fellow members to vote for Adams--who then turned around and named Clay his Secretary of State (which apparently was a more prestigious position back in those days than it is now).  That left Jackson and his supporters howling--and Old Hickory to coin the phrase "The Corrupt Bargain".  (It should be noted that Jackson crushed Adams in the 1828 elections--as voters bought into Jackson's view of the previous election).

And so we are left to wonder what deal has been struck behind the scenes at the Cruz and Kasich campaign headquarters?  Cruz has far more delegates and cash than Kasich--so is he the one setting the terms?  Kasich is still in the race for only two reasons: He thinks he can win a brokered convention in his home state of Ohio--or he thinks he can still be some kind of "kingmaker" at the convention and can leverage a Vice-Presidential nomination out of the deal.  For Cruz, his only hope is that Kasich assigns his delegates to him if Trump is not nominated on the first ballot.

But let's get the Trumpkins going on using "The Corrupt Bargain II" in their tweets and Facebook posts--if for no other reason than to make it look like they know a little something about politics and history.