Friday, November 21, 2014

So Just Some People Shouldn't Have to Work

I'm getting a little tired of the "No one should have to work at (insert retailer's name here) on Thanksgiving" crowd.  Yes, it's pathetic that we have a nation of shoppers who can't wait another six hours to buy gifts for people who will have completely forgotten that they even got that gift, and who it was from, by the Super Bowl.  But the idea that "no one should have to be away from their families" is hypocritical.

We don't shut down hospitals on Thanksgiving (or Christmas for that matter) do we?  Don't those people "deserve to be with their families" just as much as the cashier at Walmart?  How about the Fire Department workers who respond to the turkey fryer fires? Or the policemen who break up the drunken fights between your uncles over President Obama's latest unconstitutional Executive Order? Or the ambulance drivers who pick up everyone that ate the underdone dark meat on the turkey and are now sick to their stomachs?  Where is the "outrage" that they have to work?

Sure you can say those are "essential services" that must be staffed 24/7/365.  But how about the camera guys who are shooting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade?  Or the people in the production trucks for the three football games on Thursday?  Or the guy working the board in the radio station studio and playing the commercials during the game broadcast for those listening in their cars?  Do you get all high and mighty and condemn everyone that tunes in for those broadcasts because "they are taking someone away from their families"?  How willing would you be to sit in the living room for eight hours on Thursday and not have football to keep everyone from actually having to talk to each other?

And what about the people who work at gas stations and convenience stores?  You'd prefer that there be no way to fill up your car when you are running low on the way back from Grandma's house in the cold and the dark?  Fast food restaurants are open as well--for those who just need a quick bite to eat or who don't have anyone cooking up a major feast for them.  Movie theaters are open on Thanksgiving--and so are bars.  In fact, I've seen some of the busiest nights of the year in taverns on Turkey day--since so many people have off of work the next day.  All of those bartenders and waitresses should be at home too?

And what about the people that really need the money they are being paid for working on Thanksgiving?  For some, it may be time and a half or overtime?  Maybe that one day of work will cover the cost of just as big a meal with just as many family members on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Or it might put a few extra gifts for their kids under the tree at Christmas.  They should be denied the opportunity to make that cash just because their working (of their own free will) "offends" your sensibilities?

I have shopped at Festival Foods on several Thanksgivings recently--always because I forgot to pick something up the week before--or maybe I thought I had enough of some ingredient but it turns out I didn't.  And while I did feel a little bit guilty, I also appreciated that I was able to purchase what I needed for that day.  And I've taken to the habit of thanking the cashier at the checkout for being on the job to serve me that morning.  It would be great if the Walmart and Target and Macy's shoppers would do the same Thursday night.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Middle Finger Speech

American political history is marked with addresses that have come to be known by famous names.  Abraham Lincoln had the Gettysburg Address.  Franklin Roosevelt had his "Fireside Chats".  Berlin, Germany saw both John F Kennedy's "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech and Ronald Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech.  Heck, even Richard Nixon had the "Checkers Speech".  And now tonight, Barack Obama is going to deliver what will likely be remembered as the "Middle Finger Speech"--as the President delivers a big "Eff You" to Republicans, some of the moderate members of his own party, the two-thirds of Americans who disapprove of his job as President, those who came to this country through legal means and members of the African-American community.

I would hope that the President would explain tonight why just a week after Republicans re-gained control in the Senate, "solving" immigration through Executive Order became such a matter of urgency?  What changed from the week before the election--when Democrats were begging him NOT to take such actions because they knew it would snuff out what little chances they had to win anything across the country.  And what is going to escalate the "crisis" in the six weeks between now and when the GOP starts passing bills out of the Senate for the first time in six years?

I would hope that the President would also explain to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu why he hates her so much.  Why would he torpedo the last hopes that she had of winning her runoff election next month by taking this step?  Of course, he was going to blow her out of the water with his veto pen had her last-ditch effort to get the Keystone XL Pipeline permitted hadn't been derailed by her fellow Democrats like Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

I would hope that the President would explain to the 61% of those who disapprove of his job performance why he has decided to further alienate them--and disregard what they want for this country.  Has he decided that since no one likes him anymore he's just going to spite everyone on the the way out the door?  Does he want to see if Rachel Maddow and Paul Krugman will continue to tout him as the "Greatest President Ever" regardless of how hard he tries to prove them wrong?

I would hope that the President takes a moment to directly address those that went through the arduous process of legally emigrating to this country to explain why their efforts essentially amounted to nothing.  I expect that he will give them the "we appreciate your respect for our laws" line--before telling them that now they are in the same position as all of those that snuck in under the cover of night.  He'll probably try to salve that wound with the "it's the moral thing for us to do" line--he likes that one.

And finally, I would hope that the President will speak to the African-Americans who have become a permanently under-educated and under-employed population as to why he is pushing them another rung down on the economic and social ladder.  What would the situations of today's urban Blacks be if 11-million people currently working for low wages in the "jobs Americans don't want to do anymore" weren't there--and employers had to meet market demands by increasing the wages for those positions (without being ordered by the Government to do so)?  I'd like to think that Reverend Al Sharpton would follow this speech tonight with the question "Why is the President so committed to jobs for Hispanics and Latinos--but is only interested in giving African-Americans more welfare?"--but I know better than to expect anything that probative from those on the Left.

I'd encourage you to sit down tonight and get your middle finger from the President right to your face--but the TV networks believe you don't actually want to see it.  ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX have all declined to carry the address--pushing it instead to their news channels.  I like to think of it as their own sign that they no longer care about this administration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Helping Nature

If anyone wants to see what happens when the Government and bureaucrats attempt to "help nature", just take a look at the deer management efforts undertaken by the Wisconsin DNR over the past 25-years.  Around 1989, the Department estimated that there were more than 1.1-million deer in Wisconsin--and that was "too many".  So ultra-aggressive hunting measures were put into place to increase the number of deer harvested every fall, thus "helping" control the population.

You may recall there was the "Earn a Buck" requirement--which forced hunters to shoot a doe or an antlerless deer before taking one with a trophy rack.  And there was "Hunters Choice"--where you could shoot a doe or a buck at any time.  And there were October "Zone T Hunts" held in areas where the DNR decided there were still too many deer.  And then there were special hunts in December after the regular gun-deer season.  There were even "CWD Hunts"--where unlimited numbers of deer could be shot in an effort to "control" the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

So what has been the result of all this "deer management"?  A wildly-imbalanced deer population, that sees the animals' numbers dwindling in the northern part of the state--where it used to be the highest--and still "too many deer" in the southern part of the state.  Ask anyone who hunts and they will tell you it is pretty much useless to head north of Highway 64 anymore, because there are just no deer up there.  After the state tried to "help Mother Nature" for all of those years by artificially increasing the deer kill, Mother Nature took her own "natural" steps to cull the herd--namely, severe winters with heavy snowfall and extreme cold--which limits the amount of food available to deer, causing a natural die off that had been part of the "circle of life" for tens of thousands of years.

And what makes the "Great Northern Deer Disaster" even worse, is that part of the state has wide swaths of National and State Forests that provide public access to hunters.  Access that is not nearly as available in the southern part of the state, where deer are most commonly found on private property--damaging farm crops, running on our highways and wandering around our cities.  That means fewer people can hunt where there actually are deer--and the greater probability of ending up with "tag soup" turns people off to hunting--so they stay home.  The DNR admitted this week that license sales are down sharply this fall.

And that has an economic effect as well.  Towns like Crivitz and Three Lakes and Tomahawk rely on the influx of the Orange Army every year to provide big bucks (of the cash variety) at shops, restaurants and bars for the week around Thanksgiving.  Places like Waupaca and Wausau and Beaver Dam don't need that cash infusion nearly as much as the folks Up North.  Besides, most guys would prefer the "deer camp experience" in the woods, than just driving a few miles into the country from their own homes every morning to hunt.

Will turning deer management over to "the people" as Wisconsin's Deer Czar recommended restore some balance?  That will probably take another 25-years to determine.  But in the meantime we'll just have to live with the results of the "experts"--and hope that a tradition can survive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Holiday By Any Other Name....

One of the favorite tactics of Liberals is to change the name of things in an effort to make them "seem" different than they really are.  The best example is the insistence that illegal immigrants in this country be referred to a "undocumented"--so as not to appear that they are advocating on behalf of people who are breaking the law.  But a school district in Maryland is taking the "renaming game" to whole 'nother level by making the entire calendar "politically correct".

Muslims living in Montgomery County wanted to know why kids in the schools are given days off for Christian and Jewish Holidays--but their children had to attend classes on Islamic holidays.  Given that a governmental body has two Constitutional choices when it comes to religion: "all or none", the School Board opted for "none" and removed the religious names from the vacation dates.  "Christmas Break" becomes "Winter Break", "Good Friday and Easter Week" becomes "Spring Break" while "Rosh Hoshanah" and "Yom Kippur" becomes "Those Days In October That You Don't Have To Come To School".

Except, Montgomery County didn't really go "no religion" because the dates of all these "non-secular days off" still fall upon all of the Christian and Jewish holiday dates!  Does anyone really think that kids are off on December 25th for any other reason than Christmas?  And that the Friday before the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox is not "Good Friday"?  However, in their (Liberal) minds, these are not religious holidays anymore because "we aren't calling them religious holidays anymore".  Another problem solved by Progressive thinking!

Meanwhile, the state of Washington has gone in the complete opposite direction, choosing the "all" option and passing a law that public employees must be given two days off for "the religious observances of their choice".  That means everyone--but atheists--can get whatever holidays they want off of work--in addition to the already recognized religious dates like Christmas.  And that apparently includes Festivus--which really bugs me.  As someone who celebrates Festivus myself, I'm glad to see its formal recognition growing--but what is getting lost is that it's an ANTI-HOLIDAY HOLIDAY!!  That means it should NOT be given the same status as the made-up days that everyone else is celebrating.  Besides, Kramer was fired for asking off from the bagel shop for Festivus--so that is a tradition that should be honored.

So I will see you all at work on December 23rd, 24th and 25th.  Unless of course you are taking "Winter Break".


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Thing of Beauty

You probably know by now that I love power football.  "Three yards and a cloud of dust" football.  "A seal here and a seal here and you run the ball up the middle" football.  I-formation with a fullback and two tight ends football.  Sixteen play, 80-yard drives that take eight-and-a-half minutes off the clock football.  The style of play that distills the game to its very essence: one man carrying the ball--and 11-guys trying to tackle him--just like you did when you were a kid in the backyard.  And that is why I am still giddy over the performance of Badgers' running back Melvin Gordon on Saturday.

First off, I have to thank the WIAA for scheduling the Wrightstown-Somerset playoff game that I called on our sister station for Friday night.  I would have been apoplectic if I had missed being at the Badgers game Saturday and Melvin had put on that same performance.  I missed the Ron Dayne all-time NCAA career rushing record game against Iowa back in 1999 because I was doing play-by-play for a high school game--and I'm still steamed about it.  And then, Montee Ball set the career rushing touchdown mark in Penn State, so I wasn't at that game either.

I also have to thank the Wisconsin Athletics Department Media folks for not kicking me out of the press box on Saturday, because I was definitely violating the "no cheering" rule.  I wanted Melvin to break Ron Dayne's single game school record while I was watching.  And once he had done that--and we found out he needed just another 70-yards or so to break the Football Bowl Subdivision record held by LaDanian Tomlinson--I wanted to see him break that as well.  I think I may have cheered an incomplete pass right before the record-breaking TD run--because I knew that Melvin needed all 26-yards the Badgers had to the Nebraska end zone to reach the mark.  And once he had that record, I wanted him to break the all-divisions mark of 468-yards rushing in a game.  But Gary Andersen decided one-record was enough and took MGIII out of the game will still another quarter to play.

Perhaps the biggest "thanks" should go to the Badgers' offensive line, who so thoroughly man-handled the Nebraska defense that on most of his runs, Melvin wasn't even touched by anyone until he was ten yards downfield.  It's probably why the offensive linemen celebrated after the game by doing "snow angels" on the field.

Oh yeah, the weather was perfect as well.  It was like a scene out of all those classic NFL Films--with the players' breaths visible and the snowflakes floating around--creating a frosted look on the field.  It was almost like the Football Gods decided they were going to give me everything that I like about football in one neat little package.

And that's what it was--a thing of beauty.  No 5-wides, empty backfield sets.  No hurry-up to run 85-plays a game.  No read-options keying on the defensive end.  Just our big guys versus your big guys--and a man running with the ball, while 11-others try to tackle him.  And on this day, the man with the ball made all those other guys miss better than anyone else in the history of the game.  Just the way football was meant to be played.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Tonight, the Wisconsin Men's Basketball team tips off its most-anticipated season ever.  The Badgers return four of five starters and eight of their top nine scorers from a team that was a freshman's 25-foot 3-pointer away from playing for the National Championship last March.  Wisconsin is ranked number 3 in the pre-season polls and is the pre-season pick to win the Big Ten.  Center Frank Kaminsky is a pre-season All American, the pre-season Conference Player of the Year and a Sports Illustrated cover boy.  Forward Sam Dekker is rumored to be an NBA draft prospect and could turn pro after this season.  It should be a glorious four and a half months ahead of us Badgers fans.  And yet, I have this overwhelming sense of dread.

We Badgers fans have been here before--usually with the football team.  The '99 Badgers were ranked high early--then suffered inexplicable losses to Cincinnati and Michigan in back to back weeks and dropped out of the National Championship discussion (they did go back to win their second-consecutive Rose Bowl and Ron Dayne did win the Heisman Trophy).  Bret Bielema had a team with Russell Wilson, Monte Ball and JJ Watt on it--and didn't win a Rose Bowl.  There have been a couple of years when the Badgers Men's Hockey team has been a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and failed to get out of the regionals--so disappointment has been no stranger to Madison over the years.

What if Frank the Tank breaks down mid-season--or loses the touch he has developed over the last three years?  What if Sam Dekker's ankle injury suffered in pre-season practice never fully heals and he can't get off his shot?  What if Trevon Jackson goes back to being the Human Turnover Machine?  What if Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown and Bronson Koenigs don't get any better?  What if no one steps up to make all of the clutch three-pointers that Ben Brust made the last few years?  What if officials get tired of Bo Ryan barking at them after every call that goes against the Badgers and he set a Big Ten record for technical fouls and ejections?

And that's just the regular season stuff to worry about.  With the one and done nature of the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen in March.  There is always a hot-shooting Cornell to knock you out.  Or a mid-major with six seniors that play lights-out defense.  Or a Kentucky that ends up in your regional with five NBA Lottery prospects that make every clutch shot necessary.  Or there is a crazy half-court shot that goes in to beat you--or a buzzer-beater that gets waved off due to replay--or a tipped ball that you thought was going to go your way and instead results in a rally-killing turnover.

The 2000 Badgers appearance in the Final Four will always be my favorite.  Not because it was the first of my lifetime--but because it was so unexpected.  A team that literally could not shoot the basketball smothered four teams in the Regionals and made it to the promised land (and likely would have played for the Championship that year--had they not had to play Michigan State for the fourth time that season.)  It was a wild and unexpected ride--where you felt like the team was playing with "house money" after the first round.  This year will be different.  This year, the big road wins won't be a surprise.  Fans won't storm the court if they win the Conference Championship.  And anything less than making it at least one game farther than last year will be considered a huge disappointment.

I'll be watching all of it--but it will be through the cracks between my fingers as I have my hands over my face all season long.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

At What Price Glory?

Comments made this week by Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose are leading to a discussion about what professional athletes owe the fans--and what we fans owe the players.  In addressing his playing in only half of the Bulls games so far this regular season Rose said:

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out, it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.
“I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.’’

Bulls fans and reporters who cover the team are now questioning Rose's dedication to the team and the sport.  The big question is whether or not Rose is willing to make the sacrifices "required" to be an elite player and to win championships.  They also point to Rose's salary--$17.63-MILLION this season--and his huge Addidas shoe endorsement deal--worth a reported $185-MILLION over 13-years--as all the "incentive" he should need to play as many games as possible despite a history of knee injuries.  Heck, for that much, Rose could probably hire someone to carry him into all meetings and graduation ceremonies for the rest of his life.

But is that a reasonable expectation from us the fans--that pro athletes use up every bit of strength, mobility and energy that their bodies have for our entertainment?  You go to one of those NFL alumni events and everyone walks with a limp and they can't raise their arms above their heads and their fingers are all gnarled and you realize the physical toll that they paid.  Of course, if you were to ask any of those guys if they would have sat out games to avoid ending up in that condition, 99.99% of them would tell you "no way"--because they wanted to be out there--hurt or not--and that is what made them great.

So I don't think we should begrudge Derrick Rose his desire to sit out games in the prime of his athletic career so he's not "sore at any graduations".  But he should "enjoy" that with far less cash in his bank account--and likely no NBA Championship rings on his fingers.