Wednesday, January 17, 2018

He'll Be Your President Then

With special election wins in several states since the last Presidential election, Democrats are becoming more confident in a "blue wave" sweeping across the country in the mid-term elections later this year.  They are feverishly working computer models that show the possibilities of winning back a majority of not just the Senate but even the House.  You can bet that every one of those Democratic candidates will be running on a platform of "we have to stop Donald Trump".  But what happens if Democrats do win back majorities, and President Trump works with them to pass their legislation?

Hard-core liberals might laugh off the idea, thinking that Trump is some ideologue that will never support Democratic measures.  But the President is nothing more than an opportunist.  Let's not forget, until he ran for President in a fractured Republican party, Donald Trump supported plenty of Democrats--not just in public comments but in cold, hard campaign cash.  He backed Hillary Clinton--until it became politically advantageous to attack her.  And when push comes to shove, do you really think he is going to stand on principle when it comes to anything political?

And when that happens, what will Democrats do?  For six years under President Obama, Republicans could pass whatever bills and resolutions they wanted, knowing full well that nearly all of them would be vetoed.  It allowed them to go back to the voters and say "President Obama blocked this that and the other thing--and that is why we need a Republican President to get stuff done".  If Democrats passed a comprehensive immigration bill in 2019 and President Trump signed it, how many incumbents would go back to the voters in 2020 and say "I worked with President Trump to pass comprehensive immigration reform"?   How would they react when the President came to their district or state for his own campaign and said "I was glad to work with Congresswoman Whatshername--she's great, really great, a great woman".

The ultimate would be if Trump--sensing it was his only hope for winning re-election--announced sometime in 2019 that he would seek another term, but this time running as a Democrat.  He is already skilled at attacking Republicans.  His supporters don't really consider themselves members of the "establishment GOP"--so voting in the other column this time around would mean nothing to them.  So Trump switching parties wouldn't really be that difficult.  Plus, he's already shown the ability to win a nomination with zero support from party power brokers.

Maybe Republicans should be rooting for that "Democratic tsunami" in November. Then they can get to work on their 2020 campaign slogan: "He's Your President Now".


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Myopic Vision

Beware local politicians that say they have a "vision for the city".  Those visions tend to be very narrow and myopic.

The latest example of that is a battle brewing between the new owners of the former Kmart/Sears building on Koeller Street here in Oshkosh and the City Plan Commission.  U-Haul is looking to convert the former store into a business storage facility and truck rental center.  This is something the company is doing on a national scale--buying old Sears buildings and converting them to a new use.  As a person that lives not far from the site and who drives by it often, I look forward to it being redeveloped and not falling into further disrepair.

Unfortunately, several members of the Plan Commission are threatening to derail the project because U-Haul is going to paint the building its trademark orange.  Mayor Steve Cummings told the developers this month that he doesn't want the building to be a "giant billboard"--while fellow Commission member Kathleen Propp called the color "garish".  Mrs Propp has apparently never been to San Francisco, where the most beautiful and beloved architectural feature--the Golden Gate Bridge--is painted orange.  We should also keep in mind the Mayor Cummings is the one that demanded the railroad lift bridge at the mouth of the Fox River be painted because he thought it was "ugly"--not understanding that painting the distressed steel would actual defeat its rust-inhibiting properties and shorten the life of the bridge.  The Plan Commission should also consider which is "uglier"--an orange building that houses an actual business or a blighted former big box store that everyone can see from Interstate 41?

U-Haul Wisconsin's President Justin Kaminski had a great comeback for the Commission--if they don't agree to painting the building the company's trademark orange, he will instead have it painted pink.  Of course, the color of the building may not matter at all, as the U-Haul is not a retail development and therefore does not fall under the outrageous parking lot requirements the city has for the number of stalls and curbs and bump-outs.  That means the oversized, crumbling blacktop lot could be sub-divided for further development right along Koeller itself.  Maybe a couple of out-buildings could "protect the eyes" of Mayor Cummings and Mrs Propp from the "garish billboards" of the U-Haul building.  Perhaps those out-buildings could be the rumored Dunkin' Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken that nobody at City Hall seems to think meet the "better use" of property along Oshkosh Avenue in the newly created "Corporate Business Park" zoning designation (which, given the "vision" of those on the Plan Commission, will likely result in vacant lots for years to come).

Oh, and back to the Golden Gate Bridge again for a moment.  The Government originally demanded that it be painted with black and yellow stripes.  Fortunately, those that were actually building the bridge stuck with International Orange.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why They Aren't Coming From Norway

Not everyone chose to focus on the profanity in Congressman Dick Durbin's description of President Trump's comments on immigrants last week.  The internet was also full of memes attacking the President's wish to have more immigrants from Norway.  Most of the posts pointed to Norway's standing as the "happiest country on earth".  Others listed the multitude of social programs provided by the "nanny state".  But the real reason no one is pining to leave Norway is because in Norway, nearly everyone is just like you.

The family that lives next door looks just like yours.  Because of the country's 13-hundred year history and slow population growth during that time, 86% of everyone that lives in Norway is "Norwegian" by heritage.  Given that the population is only about 5.6-million, that family next door is likely related to you if you go far enough back in the family tree.  Your "history" is the same as nearly everyone that shares your country.  They also speak the same language as you--like 95% of everyone in Norway.  Your neighbors likely all attend the same church--72% belong to the Church of Norway, which is the official state religion.  You and your friends probably all attended the same college--as there are just 37 in the entire country. 

There is a good chance most of the folks in your town work in the same industry.  Norway's high-earning economy is based on being the largest exporter of oil and natural gas outside of the Middle East.  And the government is the sole owner of the oil and natural gas industry.  The government also controls the large lumber industry as well.  And all of the retirees enjoy benevolent pension plans because the government invests its income in private stock markets throughout Europe--allowing for substantial growth beyond the rate of taxation.

So why would a Norwegian want to leave that and come to a country where everything and everyone is "different"?  Why would they want to "press one for Norwegian"?  Why would they want to be sub-categorized ten ways based on gender, skin color, income, heritage, political leanings and age?  Why would you risk having less in life--while having the opportunities to have much more--when you can have the "security" of the government making sure you have pretty much the same as the next guy? 

Norwegians like Norway because Norway is good for Norwegians.  And that is why they just elected a coalition of political parties that are promising to place stricter limits on immigration--especially from "Muslim countries"--and to reduce social benefits to those new to the country. You could almost say that it's a "privilege" to be Norwegian--and few are willing to give that up either by moving out--or letting "certain others" move in.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Quarterback Gap

Analysts like to say that the NFL is a "quarterback driven league"--meaning that offenses are geared so heavily toward the passing game nowadays that not having a QB who can fling it all around the yard handicaps your chances of winning.  One need look no further than the stadium north of here to see what happens when one of the few quarterbacks capable of carrying a team by himself got hurt and the next thing you know the most extensive house-cleaning in 30-years follows.

But if the NFL is really all about quarterbacks, we will find that out this weekend in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  I can never remember a set of post-season games where the gap between the good quarterbacks and their opponents have been so great, in every single game.

Over in the AFC, you have Marcus Mariotta of the Tennessee Titans--whose first career playoff touchdown pass was to himself on a batted ball (that should have been intercepted)--and who only won last week in the Wild Card game because terrible officiating went against the Kansas City Chiefs is taking on New England's future Hall of Famer Tom Brady--who just had one of his best years of his career, at the age of 40.  In the other AFC matchup, Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars--who ran for more yards than he threw for last week--and only won the Wild Card game because Buffalo's quarterback--Tyrod Taylor--was even worse before he got hurt late and the "Human Interception Machine" Nathan Peterman threw a pick on the final drive of the game faces the Pittsburgh Steelers' future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.

In the NFC, career backup Nick Foles--in his first playoff start--will lead Philadelphia against last year's NFL MVP Matt Ryan and the Falcons only because starter Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury a month ago--and Philly stumbled home to finish out the regular season.  Oddsmakers have made the Eagles the first number one seed in a conference to be an underdog in the division round in NFL history.  The other NFC tilt features career journeyman Case Keenum of Minnesota--in his first playoff start--facing New Orleans' future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

It's entirely possible that the defenses of Tennessee, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Minnesota could rise up and pitch shutouts, giving their below-average quarterback led offenses a chance to eke out low-scoring wins.  But I get the feeling that the far superior quarterbacks are going to decide every single one of this weekend's games.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Turning Pot Against Itself

I'm hoping the Oshkosh Common Council keeps its marijuana possession fine debate going for another two months--as the people who come before them in support of the drug are far more entertaining than those that come to complain about special assessments on their property.  Last night, Mayor Steve Cummings warned those signed up to speak to the Council that discussion could only focus on amending the fine for possession--not for full-on legalization of marijuana in Oshkosh.  So how does the very first person to step up the podium start their comments? "I'm here to encourage the city to legalize the possession of marijuana".

Anyway, I think I have a way to flip the demand for legalized marijuana 180-degrees and get its most-ardent supporters to turn against it: put the power of Corporate America to work.  If you want to nip legalized pot in the bud (pun intended) allow big businesses to get involved and start making huge profits.  Let Archer-Daniels-Midland plant millions of acres of weed.  Grant Monsanto patents on dozens of strains of the plants that are drought and pest-resistant.  Have Bristol-Meyers-Squibb corner the market on medicinal marijuana products.  Approve herbicides developed by Dow Chemical to treat pot fields.  Sell low-cost marijuana products produced by RJ Reynolds over the counter at places like WalMart and Walgreens.  We could even allow the giant marketing firms to create cute advertising campaigns that make you think smoking dope is the coolest thing that any human can do.  And then make sure to publicize the BILLIONS of dollars of profit those corporations are making from the newly-legalized "industry".

I can guarantee that as soon as marijuana becomes "big business" the people who circulate the petitions and attend the council meetings and organize the rallies on college campuses will immediately become the most vocal opponents of pot.  Suddenly, all of the "medical studies" will show that medicinal marijuana really doesn't do anything for you--and that the drug companies are lying about its effectiveness just to get people to buy it.  The effects of using commercial pot products will be questioned as "corporate greed" will take priority over "public safety".  Eventually, states will be encouraged to sue marijuana producers for "marketing a product they knew was addictive to an unsuspecting public".

So long as marijuana is grown on boutique, organic farms and sold in cool little dispensaries by "independent distributors" it can be supported by liberals.  But as soon as it becomes a cash crop and the "wrong people" are profiting off of it--pot will become a "danger to society" and should be highly-regulated by the Government again.  In the meantime, those of us not blowing our budget on buds can reap the profits by investing in "Big Pot" companies.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Enough With "The Process"

I know its early in the year, but I'd like Lake State University to already select its word to be banished from the English language for 2018.  My nomination is "the process".

If you listened to all of the news conference announcing Brian Gutekunst as the new General Manager of the Green Bay Packers yesterday, you would have heard team President Mark Murphy use the term "the process" nine times in about a six minute speech--and Gutekunst use it 23 times-and that was before he started taking questions from the media.

"The process" became a hot buzzword a couple of years ago (especially in sports) thanks to the Philadelphia 76ers "rebuilding effort".  The team was intentionally losing games to better its odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery.  But you can't just tell fans paying big bucks to attend games that you are not going to even try to win them.  So their braintrust came up with the strategy of "Trust the Process"--as if there was a grand scheme in place that would guarantee championships if you are willing to sit through absolute dreck for the next couple of seasons.

Instead of becoming a national joke, Philly fans actually jumped onto the "Trust the Process" bandwagon--even buying t-shirts with the stupid saying on it, like their gullibility was somehow going to make the team better.  Yet here they are--several years into "the process"--and the Sixers are still terrible--even with all of their high draft picks.

Obsiously, other sports executives have decided to mimic Philadelphia--so now everything involved in sports strategy is "the process".  Mike McCarthy used it often to explain Brett Hundley's clueless performances while filling in for Aaron Rodgers this past season.  And now it is creeping into the world of business and politics--with leaders in both making "Well, we are going through the process of determining....." a common phrase.

Maybe it does make you sound like you have a master plan for everything you do--when you usually don't.  Maybe it makes you sound like you are putting in a lot of work on something--when you likely aren't.  But let's start the process of determining the process to get "the process" out of the lexicon.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Oprah Ain't Running

Based on my social media feeds this morning, the field of Democratic candidates for President has been cleared--Oprah Winfrey is clearly the people's choice for 2020.  I have to admit, I have not seen Oprah's "stirring" speech at the Golden Globes last night.  One of the issues with coming to work at 3:00 am every day is that you don't watch a lot of TV at night.  And what's more, I could not care less about Hollywood awards shows or celebrity gossip.

But without even seeing or hearing what Oprah had to say I'm 100-percent sure it was about oppressed people rising up, fighting for the truth to be heard, and believe in yourself.  I know that because that is what every Oprah public speech is about.  And in these "dark times", many liberals want that to be the message of their candidate in three years.  So that is why #Oprah2020 was trending on Twitter last night.

Well, I can flat out guarantee that Oprah Winfrey is NOT going to run for President--no matter how much the coastal elites and her celebrity pals tweet about it.  For starters, Oprah likes making money.  This is a woman that has created a multi-media empire--with her own TV network, magazine, movie and TV production companies.  She owns Weight Watchers now and has her own line of "healthy meals"--starring in the commercials for them.  (Her claims that mashed cauliflower is "just as delicious" as real mashed potatoes shows that she could certainly lie like a real politician).  So why would she want to divest herself of all that?  One need only look at the difficulty the current Celebrity President is having in separating his businesses from what is now the country's business.

Plus, Oprah has total control and power over everything in her life.  Here is my favorite Oprah story.  On the island of Maui, residents for decades have wanted a road connecting the Piilani Highway (known at the "Back Road to Hana") with the resort area of Kihei on the southwest part of the island.  The current drive takes over an hour because the highway heads into the center of Maui before doubling back to the coast.  As you can imagine, that wastes a lot of time and gas for the locals.  Oprah owns a ranch and a very swanky bed and breakfast in Upcountry Maui and likely enjoys shopping at Kihei or spending some time on the beach down there--but she doesn't have time to do all of that driving (or being driven more likely) so Oprah paid to build the highway that the locals have wanted for so long--cutting the driving time down to just a couple of minutes.

The only thing is, the highway is open only to Oprah.  There are signs at both ends of the road (which I have seen in person) stating that anyone caught using Oprah's road will be prosecuted.  From what I have read, some locals (and brave tourists) have snuck onto Oprah's private highway--and I'm not sure if they have been caught or fined.  But I'm guessing that someone that can build her own highway wherever she wants it--and then can limit public access to it--would not take too kindly to a Republican Congress blocking any of her initiatives in the White House.

Besides, we don't want future political scientists and historians to include in their textbooks "Appalled by the Republican's electing an unqualified, celebrity President, Democrats countered in the next election cycle with their own unqualified, celebrity for President.