Friday, October 20, 2017

Sure, Now You Love Him

Remember how President George W Bush was treated while in office?  Late night comedians mocked him as being some kind of idiot.  Democrats claimed he knew nothing about foreign policy.  He was portrayed as racist because he didn't go to New Orleans five minutes after Katrina passed to start helping "all of those black people".  Even when he left office his successor blamed him for everything little thing that he couldn't accomplish.

Now today, W is the toast of the media and the Left for his subtly scathing attack on the Trump administration during a speech on Thursday.  Without ever mentioning the President by name, Bush laid into the rise of ultra-nationalism, the demonizing of minorities and immigrants, and the alienation of long-time allies.  He even mocked those who buy into conspiracy theories and those who choose to ignore outright lies.  The message was in no way different from the way President Bush spoke or acted when he was in the White House--and yet he was pilloried by those who now want to hoist him on a pedestal as the "Anti-Trump voice of reason". 

That being said, nothing the former President said yesterday is wrong--and more of us real Republicans need to be saying the same thing.  Instead of trying to carefully craft replies to outrageous statement from the President that you hope won't send him in to a further Twitter storm, GOP leaders need to re-iterate real conservative values and solutions to problems--even if it might make the man who usurped the party's leadership mad.  If I hear one more strategist talk about how important it is to keep President Trump as a "Republican ally" in order to "protect the agenda" I'm going to throw my shoe at them--just like the Iraqi "reporter" did to President Bush after the war.

Republicans need to give up on prefacing their comments with "Well I don't agree with the President, but....."--and instead say firmly and consistently "This is not what we stand for as a party or as a country and I will not sit here silently and act like this is no big deal".  It's where the majority of Americans do stand--and as George W Bush got them to admit this week, it's even something liberals are now willing to accept.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stop Giving Us What We Want!!

Milwaukee County is considering a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors blaming them for the rise in opioid addiction.  The argument will be that the drug companies profited from the painkillers prescribed to people that later turned into heroin addicts that either died from an overdose, required medical treatment for overdoses, or ended up in jail or prison for crimes committed in the pursuit of money to buy drugs.

The argument in these lawsuits is that the makers of painkillers downplayed their potential for addiction--while marketing them to doctors and patients.  It mirrors the lawsuits that were filed against tobacco companies accusing them of downplaying the risk of cancer and promoting cigarettes and smokeless products to an "unwitting public".  The issue that I have with such suits--and the huge judgments usually awarded by sympathetic juries--is that they are based on the assumption that if people know something is risky or bad for them, they will automatically not want to use it.

In the case of cigarettes, warning labels first went on their packaging in 1966.  What effect did that have on smoking rates in the US?  Did anyone in your family ever talk about the first time they saw that warning and immediately gave up tobacco use?  As I recall, smokers were everywhere in the 70's.  Why?  Because people didn't care.  They thought smoking helped keep them thin, or it helped to keep them awake, or it made them look cool.  Warnings did little to curb demand.

And the same holds true for prescription painkillers.  Doctors could tell patients "If I prescribe this for you, you will end up becoming addicted, switching to heroin after the prescription runs out, you will steal from your family and employer to buy more drugs and you will likely end up dead in your car parked behind some abandoned building" and the first thing the patient will say is "But I won't feel my back pain, right?"  And if that doctor were to say "I'm not giving you painkillers because I think you can live with that pain" the patient would be in a different physician's office later that day demanding pain pills.

America's opioid epidemic is not the result of a slick marketing campaign or alleged cover up of scientific studies.  It is the end result of our societal belief that we should not have to deal with any discomfort in our lives.  Painkillers--like erectile dysfunction medications and drops for chronic dry eye--are products of public demand.  If everybody wasn't demanding to not wake up with soreness in their back or knees painkiller addiction would be a minor issue.  And we wouldn't have TV ads for products that "cure opioid induced constipation".  But, because those responsible for their own situation don't want to be held responsible, elected officials are more than willing to try and prove it's someone else's fault.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Lot On Our Plates

An effort is afoot to take "America's Dairyland" off of Wisconsin license plates.  The catch-phrase has adorned our plates since the 1950's--when milk marketing really started taking off--but the folks at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce believe it somehow limits how the state is perceived--like dairy farming is some backwoods operation conducted by country yokels.

But let's say that the DMV decides to change our plates, what should go on there instead?  I can tell you what I definitely DON'T want to see: FoxConn Valley.  This is the ridiculous name Governor Scott Walker is trying to coin that describes the part of Southeast Wisconsin where FoxConn is going to build their plant--and other tech companies are supposed to follow--like "Silicon Valley" in California.  I strongly urge my fellow media members to reject this term and continue to call it Racine County.

I wouldn't mind if we trolled our neighbors a little bit with our license plates. Land of More Than 10,000 Lakes would remind Minnesotans that Wisconsin has more lakes than their claim to fame.  We could also go with Semi-Permanent Home of Paul Bunyan's Axe--as the Football Badgers have not lost to the Golden Gophers in 13 YEARS!!  No Tollroads Yet, Far Fewer Murders, Much Lower Taxes, or Not Financially Insolvent would be perfect pot shots to take at our neighbors to the south in Illinois.  Still the Owners of Door County would be another good one.

Some self-deprecating humor could be fun.  Out-Drinking Your State Since 1848 certainly fits.  Say Cheese!! would probably cause a lot of national buzz and make our plates collectors items.  Get Lost In Our Roundabouts would suit our aging driving population well.  Beer, Packers and Deer Hunting certainly encapsulates our priorities--and sums up life in the state perfectly.

WMC is pushing for our state motto: Forward--which is boring.  When Governor Tony Earl asked for license plate suggestions in the 1980's two top vote-getters were America's Northern Escape--which hasn't aged well--and We Like It Here!--which is the kind of marketing consultant crap that would likely be recycled if the state was willing to waste a couple million dollars on focus groups and test marketing.

My final suggestion sums up perfectly the state and country that we live in now and really helps to explain how we got here: The Land Hillary Forgot.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Millennial Town

As the City of Oshkosh moves closer to selling off Lakeshore Golf Course so the Oshkosh Corporation has a sleek, modern headquarters to lure "young talent", let's start planning some other changes to cater to our new millennial neighbors.  Here are some of the things that other cities are doing to "attract and retain" the next generation:

Streetcars--Millennials don't own cars.  They can't afford them due to the colossal amount of student loan debt they took out to get their marketing degrees.  So they expect the Government to provide for their transportation needs.  Milwaukee is building theirs now because Portland built one and Portland is a "progressive city".  Just like Portland's streetcar line, Milwaukee's won't ever break even because it doesn't go through neighborhoods where people beside urban professionals would be able to ride it.  The Oshkosh streetcar go run along Marion Road and down Main Street so the young folks don't have to worry about stumbling home from the bars.

Densely concentrated housing--Millennials don't own houses.  They can't afford them due to the colossal amount of student loan debt they took out for their sociology degrees.  So they are only interested in dorm-like apartment complexes where they live stacked upon each other--somewhere near the streetcar line or close enough for them to walk to work or the bars (unless the weather is bad).  They need to be pet-friendly for "fur babies" and they need to have rooftop party spaces.  I guess Oshkosh homeowners are out of luck--since no one will be in the market to buy our property in the future.

Free Wi-Fi...everywhere--Young professionals today expect wi-fi for their multiple electronic devices anywhere--and they don't expect to pay for it.  Businesses unwilling to provide that can expect fewer customers--and the City itself will be asked to foot the bill for public wi-fi--since everyone has a "right" to broadband internet.

Delivery services--Millennials aren't about going out to eat or going out to shop.  There are video games to be played or a new season of Game of Thrones to binge watch on their tablets.  So Oshkosh needs to have delivery service for everything.  You want fresh sushi at 3:30 am?  Somebody had better be open and have a delivery driver available.  Grocery stores will need to have order pickers ready at a moments notice, and delivery vehicles idling in the parking lot because today's shopper doesn't expect to wait for their boxes of Lucky Charms and kale.  Oshkosh may want to start working on its "drone corridor planning" now so local shops can compete with Amazon Prime.

Fewer schools and churches--Young Americans aren't having kids because they can't afford them.  And they don't have space for them in their densely-concentrated housing units.  The Oshkosh School District can start planning now which facilities to close and tear down as enrollment numbers will surely drop.  And our millennial friends aren't too religious--so the rigid stained glass and steeple buildings can be torn down to make way for churches that more closely resemble social clubs--with workout facilities, coffee shops and religious philosophies that more closely adhere to the Democratic Party platform than the Bible.

A shiny new building on the lake alone won't guarantee Oshkosh gets the "best and the brightest".  We need to be ready as a city to cater to Millennials' every want and whim--as ever-changing as they may be--because they are used to getting pretty much everything they want.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's All on Mike Now

It was certainly coincidental that the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl hopes were likely dashed on the very field where the game is going to be played in February.  The loss of Aaron Rodgers for at least the rest of the regular season puts the pressure on someone whom I think has been allowed to skate for a number of years--Head Coach Mike McCarthy.

Gone is the "hustle to the line to catch the defense with 12-guys on the field on third down to pick up an easy first down".  So too is the hard count to get the defense to jump on third and short or to get a free play for a bomb down the sidelines.  No more recognition that the roll out right, throw back left to Jordy Nelson on the deep slant will inexplicably be completely uncovered by the defense.  The perfectly underthrown pass that creates contact by the defensive back for a huge interference penalty to flip field position won't be so easy anymore.  And the hail mary to save games on the last play won't be as common either.

Mike McCarthy is going to have to re-design an offense on the fly that no longer has one exceptional player to make up for inadequacies in both personnel and balance.  The last time Aaron Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone in 2013, the Packers went 2-4-1 with Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn at quarterback.  And that was with a healthy offensive line and a young, still slightly-motivated Eddie Lacy in the backfield.

The 2017 Packers have an O-line that can't stay healthy and a converted wide receiver at tailback.  So how does McCarthy craft a scheme that keeps Brett Hundley from having to win games by himself?  Will he finally commit to a running game?  To seek actual balance on offense?  To controlling the clock so his equally-ineffective defense doesn't spend the entire game on the field?

Mike McCarthy is the seventh-highest paid coach in the NFL--and has never come under any scrutiny since his Super Bowl victory in 2011.  For the rest of this year, we are going to see if it's the coach that makes the quarterback--or the quarterback that has been making the coach.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spare Us the Indignation

Hollywood can spare us the indignation and "shock" over the Harvey Weinstein case.  The same people that gave a tearful standing ovation to convicted child rapist Roman Polanski when he was awarded an Oscar (in absentia to avoid arrest and going to prison for drugging and sodomizing a 13-year old girl) in 2003 are now "horrified" to find out that Weinstein (who once signed a petition to have Polanski pardoned) systematically harassed and abused female stars.

I guess those in Hollywood have never seen the movie The Godfather where Vito Corleone's godson--Johnny Fontane--isn't given a movie role because the studio director is angry that a young actress that he was having a controlling relationship with left him for Fontane in the past.  Perhaps, someone should have arranged to have a horse's head put in Harvey Weinstein's bed while he slept--to "send him a message".

Of course, not everyone in Hollywood is "denouncing" the long-standing practice of sexual control.  A few leading men that have dared speak out have come under a barrage of accusations themselves--most notably Ben and Casey Affleck--who sound like some real classy guys.  Of course, that didn't stop President Trump from throwing Weinstein under the bus--which inevitably led to the re-release of the Access Hollywood audio recordings and the return of everyone's favorite pre-election catchphrase "Grab 'em by the p%$$#"

Instead of being angry with Hollywood studios, producers and stars, our attention should instead be on the folks at NBC News--for whom the person responsible for breaking this story, Ronan Farrow, works.  Except Farrow didn't get his story produced by NBC News, but instead had to go The New Yorker Magazine.  Farrow alleges that the suits at NBC quashed his story because exposing Weinstein could be detrimental to the entertainment division--which obviously relies upon studios run by guys just like Weinstein--who don't like their dirty laundry aired in public.  Of course, Farrow has an axe to grid with Hollywood, as his dad--Woody Allen--left his mother--Mia Farrow--for his adopted step-sister--which everyone in the entertainment business treats like it's no big deal.

I find it hard to believe that Farrow didn't poke his head into the office of Rachel Maddow and tell her about the juicy scoop that he had.  Being the champion of women's rights, Maddow certainly would have given Farrow a platform for his story--well at least after Weinstein was done raising incredible amounts of money as a "bundler" for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Which brings us to the tepid condemnation of Weinstein by Clinton after being badgered on the topic for several days.  That has inevitably resurrected the names of Juanita Bryant and Paula Jones--not to mention fun with interns in the Oval Office.

So just go back to gratuitous female nudity in your films, and casting fifty-something year old men as the romantic leads with twenty-something women and patting yourself on the back at award shows for how "tolerant" and "empowering" you are, Hollywood stars.  We know your true colors.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Best Team Parents Can Buy

Now that we've had a day to poke fun at US soccer fans after their team's miserable failure to qualify for the World Cup, let's talk about the serious threat that led to the debacle: elitism in sports.

More than one expert pointed out yesterday that Team USA was not a collection of the "best of the best" but rather the "best of those whose parents could afford to put them through the increasingly expensive 'elite' soccer training programs".  In other words, the men on Team USA are the kids that didn't play with their friends from school on a local team--but rather were on the "elite travel team".  And they went to the "elite soccer camp" during the summer.  And they were enrolled in the "elite fitness program" during the winter--featuring specialized training and "elite coaching".  All of which is very expensive.

But soccer is not alone in this.  Baseball too has moved to a division between the "elite" and the "recreational".  You can see that bifurcation right here in Oshkosh, with Oshkosh Youth Baseball focusing exclusively on the "traveling team" of "all stars"--each of whom has to come up with the cash to pay for uniforms, diamond rentals, equipment and tournament entry fees--with the YMCA running the actual day-to-day leagues for the kids who can't afford to be "elite".  And as they age, those that can afford it go to hitting camps, or pitching camps, or fielding camps--not to mention winter throwing programs and private "hitting leagues" at indoor batting facilities.

The next time you are watching a major league baseball game, check out the composition of the teams.  You'll notice a dwindling number of African-American players from urban backgrounds--because baseball is all but dead in cities--and those with a talent for the game are shut out from the "elite" programs cater to the kids in the suburbs.  If Hank Aaron or Willie Mays were kids today, there would be no chance they would ever make it to "The Show".

Individual sports are the worst for "elitism".  All American tennis pros now come from the "academy system"--where they go to school at warm-weather-based "tennis schools" with private tutors for academic work--and personal coaches for tennis training.  Serena and Venus Williams grew up playing on public courts in Compton, California and were coached by their dad.  They will likely be the last American players to take that route.  Youth golfers sign up with swing coaches and short game coaches and mental coaches before they even get to high school--and they play only against other "elite" talent in the American Junior Golf Association circuit--with hefty membership and tournament fees that weed out a lot of potential competition.  The closure of municipal golf facilities like Lakeshore here in Oshkosh provide even fewer entryways to the game for those who parents don't belong to the country club.

Basketball is also guilty of "elitism"--but the lower-economic-class kid still has a chance at success because the "sneaker culture" is helping to fund the "elite camps" and the "elite travel teams" with the hope that the next generation of stars will wear their brand.  (Which has led to the latest recruiting scandal in college hoops).  But you still see the best playing only with and against each other during the off-season--instead of with the teammates they will have in high school during the winter.

Being the weakest of our sports, the collapse of US men's soccer should serve as the "canary in the mineshaft" for the effect "pay to play" is having on our sports infrastructure.