Friday, December 30, 2011

Winners and Losers of 2011

With this final "Two Cents" of 2011, let's hand out the awards for Winner and Loser of the Year for 2011.

First off, honorable mentions:  In the Winner category, honorable mention goes to State Senator Jessica King.  Proving that good timing is just as important as good strategy, King rode the perfect political storm to an historic recall election victory.  An incumbent with serious character issues and a large number of angry public employees turned a traditionally Republican district King's direction after a narrow loss two years before.

Also receiving honorable mention on the Winner of the Year side: Mitt Romney.  Romney is proving that the Aesop's Fable about the tortoise and the hare is still correct.  He has seen Michelle Bachman race out to the "frontrunner" position--before people realized that she is insane.  Then Rick Perry rocketed past Romney--only to prove that he is a complete airhead.  Herman Cain became the new darling candidate--until we found out that he was the second coming of Bill Clinton.  Then Newt Gingrich became the "Anybody But Mitt" candidate--before people remembered that he is Newt Gingrich.  And now Ron Paul is the new "major challenger" to Romney--but the power brokers in the GOP will never allow Ron to win.  That leaves Mitt as the Last Man Standing--just by standing around.

Honorable mention for Loser of the Year: European Freeloaders.  For some reason, state support for those who choose not to work--and providing universal health care--is bankrupting the European Union.  The Austerity movement will mean people who have made a comfortable living living on the dole are about to get a rude awakening.

Also an honorable mention in the Loser category: State Representative Gordon Hintz.  Rebuffed in his run for party leadership in the Assembly, busted in a prostitution sting, and making national headlines for threatening to kill another Legislator--not the kind of record you want in an effort to move on to higher office someday.  It's never a good thing when Jay Leno is getting a big laugh at your expense.

The runner up for Loser of the Year is Assembly Speaker John Boener.  Somehow, he has managed to squander all of the ill-will voters have toward President Obama by being an even bigger moron.  A good leader knows what battles are worth fighting--and the year-end standoff over the payroll tax holiday was not worth fighting.  A good politician should also know that allowing the "other side" to win on some things allows everyone to win in the long run.

The runner up for Winner of the Year: Congressman Paul Ryan.  Unlike the aforementioned John Boehner, Ryan is the real voice of fiscal responsibility in Washington.  And his decision to not run for President--despite the desperate begging from the real Consveratives in the Republican Party--will pay off in the long run, because the deficit, Medicare and Social Security messes are only to get worse.  At some point sanity will reign and a majority of national voters will be ready to take the steps necessary to get back out of the hole--and Congressman Ryan will have the high ground in that fight.

And now the Biggest Loser of 2012: Former State Senator Randy Hopper.  He became the first sitting State Senator to lose in a recall election.  He also had his private life dragged out into public--in a very ugly way.  And then there was the drunk driving arrest after that.  Randy was seen as a mover and shaker in the state GOP--with perhaps some bigger goals in mind.  Now, that is all gone in the course of one very bad year.

And the Biggest Winner of 2012:  Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  I considered naming Wisconsin taxpayers for this honor--but the fight to undo the changes that resulted in actual tax relief this year is ongoing, and I wouldn't want to celebrate a victory too soon--so Rodgers ends up the winner.  Super Bowl MVP, a shoo-in for this year's NFL MVP and his emergence as popular endorsement pitchman--2012 was about as great a year as possible for A-Rod.  About the only downside was that Tim Tebow emerged as a replacement to Brett Favre as the media darling that steals the spotlight from the great things that Aaron has accomplished.

Thanks to everyone who listens to WOSH Radio for making 2011 a great year.  And here's to a great 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Fight Where Nobody Wins

As someone who is looking to adopt a child, an article in yesterday's on-line edition of the New York Times caught my attention:

It seems Catholic Charities--a leading agency for domestic adoptions in the US is closing up shop in some states--including Illinois--rather than comply with new requirements to place children with same-sex couples.  Church leaders claim their right to practice the tenets of their faith--in this case, that homosexuality is a sin--is being quashed by the states--which claim gays should have the same access to adoption as anyone else.

As usual in this battle between two Goliaths, it is the very people that who actually need the help of both that are caught in the crossfire.  Catholic Charities is an important partner with many states in serving children caught in the foster care system--who are considered very difficult to place with new families--who prefer newborns who don't come with as much "baggage" as an older child who has lived in several homes growing up.  So how does alienating the Church-run program help either the state or the kids?

But the Church is just as myopic.  I have seen same-sex couples parenting their kids.  A gay couple was part of our adoption education program at Lutheran Social Services--and believe me, they are much better equipped to handle raising a child than the vast majority of heterosexual couples that I've seen with children.  And isn't goal of an adoption or foster care program to remove children from abusive, neglectful situations and place them with two people who will love them, care for them and provide them with what is needed to be a sucessful adult in our society--regardless of which body parts those parents have between their legs?

As a private entity, the Catholic Church reserves the right to serve whomever it wants.  And the state is right that same-sex couples are no threat to the health or well-being of children.  Let's try to figure out some way to make two rights into a third right--instead of choosing to make two rights into a horrible wrong.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If You Talk About It Enough

It's amazing what we are able to convince ourselves of--if we talk about something enough.  I was listening to a national sports talk radio show yesterday afternoon and the hot topic was who should be the NFL Most Valuable Player.  The host admitted that "until a few weeks ago, this was a no-brainer--but now there is some doubt!!"  And I kept thinking "what doubt is there?  The doubt talking heads have created by saying 'there is some doubt!'?"

Aaron Rodgers is the NFL MVP.  This was the "no-brainer" when the Packers were 13-0--and it remains a "no-brainer" now as the Packers are 14-1.  And how one road game where his receivers couldn't catch and his offensive line couldn't block changes that is beyond me.  Yet, show after show on ESPN beats the drum for Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Patriots QB Tom Brady as "potential new frontrunners". 

This is my frustration with the "new media"--if a story is going to be settled without controversy, those covering the story feel the overwhelming need to boost interest by injecting their own controversy.  Back in the pre-ESPN-sports-radio-24/7-talk-cycle world, people would think about NFL MVP the day the award was handed out.  You wouldn't have three hours of "who is the first half NFL MVP" discussions in October.  You wouldn't have weekly Power Polls or Stock Up/Stock Down features.  Those who voted on the award would look at the entire season--at the end of the season--consider who had the best year for the best team and vote for that player.  And this year, Aaron Rodgers would have been the unanimous choice--no doubt about it.

And when A-Rod wins this year's award, all of those talking heads who questioned if he would be the one this week will be back on the air saying "This was an obvious choice, blah, blah, blah...."  Give me a break.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's Good For the Goose....

I was cleaning out my email yesterday and came across an item I was hoping to talk about last week:,0,7120320.column

It's an Op-Ed article from the Chicago Tribune last week addressing the court battle over Congressional redistricting in Illinois. 

The State's Court of Appeals has ruled that even though the districts are clearly gerry-mandered and obviously drawn up to give one party an advantage in most areas--they are not unconstitutional.  Illinois allows the Legislature to draw up the districts--and the majority party pretty much gets to set the rules.

This may sound very familiar to those of us here in Wisconsin--where court challenges are being filed against redistricting maps approved by the Legislature this year.  "Evil" Republicans are accused of "disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters" by drawing them into new districts.  And if allowed to stand, the GOP will "unfairly" win a majority of districts for a decade.  What is different from Wisconsin is that it is Illinois DEMOCRATS that are "guilty" of the affront to election fairness.

Democrats control all three houses of government in Illinois (as if you couldn't tell by their outrageous increases in taxes and tolls) and they drew up their Congressional districts to get an advantage in 11 of the 18 races the next ten years.  What's more, as part of the legal process, the party was forced to release memos that revealed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee basically drew the lines--and the Legislative Democrats just slapped their rubber stamp on them.

I would hope that Wisconsin Republicans would hold up the Illinois example every time Wisconsin Democrats roll out their tired claim of being about "voting rights" and "fair elections" and "equal representation".  Because let's be honest--neither party has any high ground upon which to stand on this issue.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Blather

While visions of Sugar Plum Fairies were dancing in your head this weekend, this is what I was thinking about.

--Do you get the feeling that shows like Hoarders and Hording will never have an "International" edition?  It's hard to picture an Indonesian woman with 50-thousand dolls.  Or a French man who has never thrown out a newspaper delivered to his house.  In my European travels, I don't remember driving by mammoth self-storage parks either.

--Can someone explain to me why the NFL chose to play nearly all of its games on Saturday?  My family is boycotting the NBA for another decade--so there wasn't much to watch on TV after the gift-opening extravaganza in the morning.  If there had been football on--I can guarantee we would have been watching that.  And now next weekend, most of the games will be played on Sunday again--meaning the Rose Bowl gets pushed back to January 2nd.  When this calendar arragement comes around again in 2016, let's play the games on Christmas Day and New Years Eve day.  I'm guessing there still won't be an NCAA football playoff by that time--so the Rose Bowl can be on January 1st--like it should be. 

--This might be the most important season in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Bucks have long been an afterthought in the Wisconsin sports hierarchy--and with this year's lockout and the success of nearly every other state team--they are even fathrer out of mind.  And yet, the franchise is out trying to sell the need for a new arena in Milwaukee to replace the "aging" Bradley Center.  Last week, Governor Walker went on the record saying there would be no state money available for a new facility--and the Petitt family isn't about to build another "free" arena for the city either.  So it is up to the Bucks to somehow build up enough interest from fans to make a "We get a new arena or we leave town" threat effective.  Of course, the Bucks really have nowhere to go.  Outside of Seattle, I can't think of a single city that is out there "demanding" an NBA team move to their vacant arena.  Maybe NBA Commissioner can threaten to contract the Bucks--along with the equally unpopular Minnesota Timberwolves--to light a fire under Milwaukee.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Annual Festivus Airing of Grievances

It's Festivus!! According to founder Frank Kostanza, the Tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances.  AND I HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!!












Festivus now continues with the Feats of Strength!  Festivus cannot end until you pin me!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Learning From the Past

I have to admit, I'm impressed by how the Oshkosh School Board has learned the lessons from mistakes made by previous Boards.  That is especially true in how it is handling the upcoming Oaklawn Elementary referendum.

Unlike the first attempt at getting voters to approve construction of a new Oaklawn, this Board avoided the temptation of moving the school to an area where no one actually lives.  I was a bit concerned when the District sent out that press release right before the referendum-setting meeting about having an offer to purchase land on Highway A north of town.  I thought "here comes the U-Boat that will torpedo the USS Oaklawn before it can even get out of port". 

But this Board listened to those who will serve as the biggest cheerleaders for the referendum--Oaklawn parents themselves--and decided to build on the site of the existing school.  That is a positive change from the obstinate Board of the past that was so sure that building on Ryf Road would magically create a development boom in that area.  (Obviously, they weren't keeping a very close eye on the looming housing and debt bubble that has brought new residential construction to a virtual standstill since then).

And then this week, the current members showed that they learned another lesson from the previous Board by working on a backup plan in case this referendum isn't successful.  Some might consider that to be a defeatist attitude--but those of us who take a more pragmatic approach to planning see it as a responsible thing to do.  Right now, it looks like that backup plan would call for the closure of Oaklawn--and the re-distribution of elementary school students throughout the District. 

Is that going to be popular with a lot of parents?  Probably not.  But it's a far better strategy than the hard-headed Board adopted in the wake of the first Oaklawn referendum failure--to sit and pout, while the school continued to decay around the students.  I doubt we are going to hear from any current Boardmembers how "embarrassed" they are by their constituents--or how "Oshkosh clearly doesn't care about kids"--if voters say "no" again.

Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again--and expecting a different result."  It's nice to know this School Board is more sane than some of its predecessors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

We must be close to Christmas--everyone is arguing about religion.

First, you have Lowe's Home Improvement coming under fire from a conservative Christian group for sponsoring the TLC show "All American Muslim".  Then Lowe's comes under fire from everybody else in the world for dropping its ads from the show.

Why a large, successful corporation like Lowe's would kowtow to a fringe group like the Florida Family Association is beyond me.  I'd provide you some information on how many people actually belong to this group--but their website has removed pretty much all of its information--except the link to donate money to them (SHOCKER!).  I doubt the membership is more than a couple thousand people.  Their reason for hating "All American Muslim": It doesn't have any characters plotting attacks against the US.  The FFA contends "All American Muslim" doesn't "accurately portray" American Muslims--because it shows people who do the same things nearly all of us do in our everyday lives. 

If you are to extend the FFA argument against "All American Muslim" to all other programming--then every show featuring Evangelical Christians should include characters that are skimming money off the top at their tax-exempt mega-churches and shows featuring Catholics should also have a child-molesting priest or two thrown in the mix to "accurately portray" those religions as well.

Meanwhile, the hard workers at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are busy as usual this holiday season.  They have filed lawsuits to remove religious symbols from public grounds in several states.  But they are missing the mark with their approach to protesting the Capitol Christmas tree and a nativity scene in the rotunda in Madison.  The "counter nativity" display put up Freedom From features a female "Baby Jesus", the goddess Venus as Mary and what it calls the "3 Wiser Men" of Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Einstein and Darwin were not atheists.  In fact, Einstein stated that his theories--which solved a lot of the astro-physical questions that had previously been answered with "God did that"--actually reaffirmed his belief in a higher power.  You could say that Einstein was the first proponent of "intelligent design."  If Freedom From wanted to be a bit more accurate, Einstein and Darwin should be replaced with Stephen Hawking and the recently-deceased Christopher Hitchens.

Or better yet, they could just drop the whole "counter nativity" display--as I think it's rather juvenile--and use what those of us who base our lives on science and the laws of man do best--provide people with the facts.  Hand out copies of Hawking's A Brief History of Time or Darwin's On the Origin of Species at the Capitol.  Better to educate the masses--than try to sway them through insult.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I've been hoping the incredible disparity between the rich and the poor would be closed over the years--but it is clear that nothing is going to change anytime soon--so I think the time has come to recall Santa Claus.  It's obvious that Santa is nothing more than a puppet of big corporations promoting their anti-working families agendas and rewarding his rich friends.

You've seen the TV ads, Santa brings the "one percent" expensive jewelry, big TV's and even leased Lexuses (Lexi?).  Meanwhile, poor, hardworking "99-percent" are forced to rely on the generosity of strangers just to have something to put under the tree.  So let's get those pre-printed petitions ready to remove Father Christmas from his office.

First off, we'll need someone to run against Santa in the recall election.  Someone whose "jolly", "fat" and represents "diversity".  Did the first name pop into your head too?  Of course, Barney Frank!!  He's leaving Congress so he will have time to take over the job.

Next, we need to come up with a more "fair" way of running Christmas.  Why don't we have Santa Barney go from house to house on Christmas Eve taking gifts from the rich and giving them to more "deserving" families. 

Wait a minute--Al Gore just requested Santa Barney cruise around in Chevy Volt rather than a sleigh pulled by reindeer (which should be grazing and mating in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve)--so we'd better give him a month to make his rounds.  Need to keep plugging in every 70-miles.

Oops, Attorney General Eric Holder just requested we drop the whole "naughty and nice" determinant for gifts as well--since that is too "subjective" to be fairly determined.  He recommends Santa Barney distribute gifts strictly based on race, income and sexual orientation.

Hang on, AFSCME just demanded that its members not have to give up anything to benefit anyone else.  So if you put a big blue fist in your window or your front yard, Santa Barney will "passover" your house--and just take more from your neighbor.

Ummm--the Occupy Wall Street folks just weighed in.  They'd like all of the corporate-made toys removed and replaced by "fair trade" items.  So I guess all of the kids will have to enjoy their hand-woven burlap dolls produced by the native peoples of Ecuador from eco-friendly, organic, sustainable growing operations.

The folks on the Diversity Council would also like us to refrain from using the term "Christmas"--since it offends all of the non-Christians.  The preferred term from here on out should be "Non-Denominational Celebration of All Beliefs and Non-Beliefs Day--Unless Your Religion Bans The Celebration Of All Holidays--In Which Case Happy Sunday."

We already have the recall machinery in place--so lets hit the malls and the community carol sings and the masses and let's get those signatures!  It's time to teach Santa the meaning of "fairness".

Monday, December 19, 2011

Living and Giving Like No One Else

Marjorie Drexler is my kind of person.  For those that missed it Friday afternoon, the Oshkosh Public Library announced that Drexler had left them a $1.1 Million bequest in her will when she died back in August of 2010.  The donation came as a complete surprise to everyone at the Library--and to those who knew Marjorie as well.

Library staff didn't know much about Ms. Drexler before her death.  She didn't serve on the Library Board, she didn't sit on any steering committees and she never went to City Hall to complain about proposed budget cuts for the library.  She checked out books and movies--enjoyed them at home--and then brought them back in a timely fashion.

The bequest was never brought to the attention of Library officials before Marjorie's death.  There was no press conference with a big check and a bunch of local politicians and bureaucrats droning on about the decline of public investment in libraries and museums.  There was no "groundbreaking" or "formal dedication" of the Marjorie Drexler Wing or Conference Center.  There was no requirement for taxpayers to put up an equal amount to build something--and there is no long-term expense to the city to maintain a new building or facility.

My favorite part of this story is that--to a person--those who knew Marjorie had no idea that she had a million dollars to donate to the Library.  She worked at Oshkosh Truck and--by all accounts--lived very simply.  No fancy house, no fancy cars, no other conspicuous consumption.  Apparently, she bought only what she needed--and put the rest of her money into retirement accounts and investments.  Amazingly, that gave her more than enough to live on into her 80's--with plenty more left to benefit that which she enjoyed the most in life.

Dave Ramsey's mantra in his Total Money Makeover is "If you are willing to live like no one else now--later, you can live (and give) like no one else."  I'm glad to see Marjorie Drexler proves that really is true.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Please Shut Up Now

Is there a shortage of qualified defense attorneys in State College, Pennsylvania?  I ask because the growing legal team for former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky continues to baffle everyone with the public comments they are making.

The latest doozy comes from attorney Karl Rominger who told a local TV station that the reason Jerry Sandusky was showering with boys is because "he was teaching them basic hygene."  It's Rominger's contention that these 10 or 12 year old boys "had no idea how to put soap on their bodies".

When I first saw this video clip, I had to make sure that I didn't have on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report or The Onion News Network--because it is so ludicrously implausible that it had to be scripted for a laugh.  Right?  Unfortunately, it was a "real" news channel.

It appears that the Sandusky defense is either trying to win its case in the court of public opinion--or its trying to taint the jury pool so that it would be impossible for their client to get a fair trial anywhere except Amish Country.  (There are more than a few attorneys in our area who believe that if a crime story is featured in one radio or TV newscast that every person within 200-miles of the courthouse has formed an opinion about the case and cannot be expected to be impartial on a jury.)  So the more the story gets on TV, the harder it will be to try the case near Penn State.

Or, perhaps these attorneys believe that Jerry Sandusky's explanations for his behavior fit within the realm of sexual normalcy.  I mean, his original attorney--Joe Amendola--fathered a child with a 17-year old girl--when he was 49-years old.  And that was a girl that he was representing in her efforts to emancipate herself from her parents.  Amendola then married the girl right before she gave birth to a second child.  So to attorney Amendola, the idea of "teaching boys how to shower" by getting naked with them and having intimate physical contact must seem like the kind of explanation any "rational" person would accept.

And while we are on the subject, why hasn't Penn State filed a "cease and desist" action against Sandusky from wearing Nittany Lions apparel when appearing in public?  The day he's arrested the first time--he's got on his Penn State Football shirt and running pants.  He does a videotaped interview with the New York Times--he's got a Penn State golf shirt on.  The second time he's arrested and brought to jail--he's wearing a Penn State windbreaker.  You would think that the University could argue that by continuning to don the school's licensed apparel, Sandusky is giving the public the idea that he is still affiliated with the school.

The guys in legal requested this be added:  Today's My Two Cents is not to be considered legal advice and should not be taken as such.  My Two Cents is not a licensed legal practice and this material is not to be considered a solicitation for legal representation. 

Nonetheless, the time has come for the Sandusky defense to shut its mouths--stay away from the cameras and microphones for a while--and to stop making a horrible situation even worse.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here's Your Ballot, Mr Hitler

With all apologies to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Adolph Hitler will not be signing recall petitions against Governor Scott Walker.  Nor will we find Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Santa Claus, Betty Boop or Carl B from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" on the petitions.

You know why we won't see those names?  Because you would have to be an idiot to try and fill out the petition forms with names that are so obviously fake.  If you are going to cheat the system--it's usually better to do so in a way that will attract less attention--and be harder to determine. 

Even the most naive petition reviewer will notice Hitler on the list--but what about the elderly gentlemen who passed away back in May?  How would someone in Madison know that A--He's dead and B--that he didn't actually sign the petition?  The same goes for the couple that moved out of the neighborhood last year--but never were able to sell the house.  They are probably still on the voter rolls at that address--and is someone going to bring in a handwriting expert to determine if they are the ones who signed the form?  And don't forget about all of those mystery voters living in State Senator Lena Taylor's Milwaukee apartment complex.

The process for forcing a recall--or for simply getting a candidate on the ballot--was drafted in much simpler political times.  A time when the stakes weren't nearly as high and the temptation to cheat wasn't nearly as great.  But those are the rules by which everyone has to play--and if there are some who want to go outside of those rules, well, I guess we don't really have a good way to catch them.

Better to put all of your effort and resources into winning the election--rather than trying hunt down dead Nazis.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Debt Wars

When we were kids it was generally accepted that the next World War would be fought to stop the spread of Communism.  Then President Reagan won the Cold War--with just a few regional skirmishes over the years--and it wasn't so clear what would be the source of the next global conflict.  "Concerned Citizens" like Al Gore told us the next major war would be fought over natural resources--like fresh water, energy sources and tillable land--as the global population soared and those without would rise up to try and take from those who had such resources.  Then along came 9/11 and it looked like religion would be the source of the next World War--with the Judeo-Christian nations battling the Islamic World over what satirist Jonathan Swift described as the "correct way to crack an egg". 

But now it's beginning to look like the new source of international tension will be debt.  More specifically, sovereign debt owed between countries.  Like World Wars I and II, the seeds of this battle have already been sown in Europe.  Nations freed from the burden of self-defense by NATO and the US, embarked on unsustainable financial policies funded during the economic growth of the last three decades by borrowing money from their neighbors.  As the Bible says, "The borrower is slave to the lender".  Now that the sources of credit have dried up, the lenders are expecting some payoff from the borrowers.

The seeds of that discontent are about to get watered and fertilized by the measures agreed to in the Eurozone summit last week--as those profligate nations agreed to the debtor nations' demands to get their financial houses in order--even if that means budgetary oversight from outside agencies.  If there is one thing we have learned over the centuries, people don't like having other nations telling them what to do--especially when those demands mean they might have to work harder and longer.  The public unrest aimed at the debtor governments will soon turn against the lenders--and the drums of war will begin to beat.

Just like in the 1900's the dominoes are lined up to take the regional conflict global.  The oil producing nations of the Middle East will have to choose sides--likely joining the countries that actually have money to pay for that precious crude.  And then there is China--who has become the 21st Century superpower by buying up everyone's debt.  Who do they align with in the Debt Wars?  And will it be on the same side as the United States?  I tend to doubt they are going to keep loaning us money to do battle against them.

The one positive thing is that barren, radioactive wastelands tend not to repay their debts--so we probably won't have to worry about WW3 being a nuclear conflict.  Now we can just concern ourselves with learning the Mandarin language of our future masters.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Opening the Floodgates

Unable to influence enough politicians at the statehouse--or browbeat enough voters at the polls--supporters of increased government spending took a new tact in Colorado--suing the state to raise taxes.  Last Friday, District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled that Colorado spending on public education is "unconstitutionally low".

Colorado ranks 40th in the nation in terms of money spent per child on public education--at $8,167 per student.  That is about 15-hundred dollars below the national average--and about three-thousand dollars less per student than what we spend here in Wisconsin.  As a percentage of total state spending, Colorado puts 40-percent of its budget to K-12 education--to the tune of $3.2 Billion annually.  Voters recently rejected a referendum to raise income and sales taxes by $2.9 Billion dollars over the next four years to increase school spending.

Of course, in her ruling Judge Rappaport didn't give lawmakers any idea what would be a "constitutional" amount to spend on public education.  (Bigger Government supporters can never actually give you an amount that is "enough" for all of their programs.  "Much more than we are spending now" seems to be the only answer they can provide.)  However, the group that filed the lawsuit actually did have a number in mind: an additional FOUR BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!

According to the plaintiffs, Colorado should spend 110% of it current budget for ALL STATE OPERATIONS just on K-12 education.  That would take it from 40th in per student spending, to #1 in the nation--racing past New York and it's spendthrift $17-Thousand per child.  And it would do it with no say from taxpayers or their elected officials.  Needless to say, the State will be appealing the decision.

Now before you think "Wow, I'm glad I don't live in Colorado--cuz they're about to get screwed"--think about this:  The blueprint has now been established for circumventing the will of the people in every other state.  You don't think WEAC doesn't have a team of lawyers poring over all 183-pages of Judge Rappaport's ruling to find out if the same legal arguments can be applied here in Wisconsin?  Sure, we spend about 15-hundred dollars more than the national average per child--but anything less than the Colorado levels must be a violation of those poor children's Constitutional right to a "thorough and uniform education system".

And it won't stop with the schools.  Why go to referendum on a Wheel Tax, when you can just sue the City to provide a "thorough" Transit System--or the County to provide "uniform" end-of-life services to all of the elderly?  Why not just dump State Legislatures, County Boards and City Councils all together and let judges and lawyers decide how much is "fair" to spend on public services?

If this decision is allowed to stand, we may all end up feeling like Leslie Nielsen as the Captain of the Poseidon--as he sees the tidal wave about to hit his ship:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why We Play the Games

I referreed the JV Boys Basketball game between Oshkosh West and Kimberly on Friday night.  In the closing minutes of a one-sided contest, West Head Coach Jason Fahrney cleared his bench--getting in some of his (let's use the politically correct term) "project players".

Before one of West's final possessions, Coach Fahrney called over one of his guards to the sidelines and talked to him about something.  As the ball came down court, that player ran off a high screen, got open at the top of the key, took a pass and nailed a three-pointer.  I don't know if that was the player's first basket of the year or maybe his first three pointer--but let's just say he was very excited about scoring that basket (as were most of the players on the bench).  As he headed back to the other end, that player pointed to Coach Fahrney on the bench--and both broke out into huge smiles.  And in that moment, I was reminded about all that is great about sports. 

It wasn't a game winning shot, but for that young man that three point shot represented the culmination of plenty hard work at practice every week--with no guarantee of any playing time.  To have Coach Fahrney run a play specifically to give that player the opportunity to make that hard work pay off will give him a boost in self-confidence that few other outlets can provide.  And the reaction shared by player and coach shows again the influence that a positive adult role model can have on the life of young men and women.

So forget about Penn State, overbearing parents, basketball brawls and now Ryan Braun.  That three point shot in an already-decided JV basketball contest is why we play the games.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Historical Preservation

I'm really excited this morning--I've found out that everything I have ever posted on Twitter will now be stored in the Library of Congress archives. Whoever thought that my 120-character opinions on Badger football games, the length of Oshkosh School Board meetings, and how much I hate ham will now be available for historians and scholars to pour over for the rest of time.

In fact, anything anyone has ever posted on Twitter will be stored in the archives. Wonder what Snooki thought about the shoes she was wearing on June 13th, 2010? The Library of Congress will now know. Need to know what Kim Kardashian bought on her trip to the mall last Thursday? Archivists in Washington can help you find the answer.

Let's get serious now. The archiving of all Twitter posts is--WITHOUT A DOUBT--the greatest waste of effort and resources since the Kyoto Treaty. Per its website this is the mission of the Library: "The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people." Being a regular contributor and consumer of Twitter I can tell you two things: 1--there is am amazing dearth of knowledge exhibited in the vast majority of tweets--and 2--unless you consider teenagers using alternative spellings of profanities to be "creativity", there isn't a lot of that out there either.

Is this really where we are now in terms of historical perspective? We've gone from the Founding Fathers' writings to each other on the meanings of liberty and the process they used to develop our amazing Constitution and Bill of Rights--or Lincoln's diaries detailing his struggles to preserve the Union--to "dang @kelcijoho, u luking fyn grrll!!!!!!" as knowledge that needs to be preserved for future generations.

Oh well, the future author of How Did America Get So Fat, Stupid and Lazy? should have plenty of research material.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hold On a Minute

You hear a lot of things in the radio news business--some of which make you say "Hold on a minute."

One of those came in a press release from the state Democratic Party on Tuesday.  The headline was "Walker Budget Drastically Cuts Funding For Sexual Assault Victims".  The release was in response to stories this week that the Department of Justice let sexual assault crisis centers know that it will be handing out 42% less money in grants next year.  According to the Democrats, Governor Walker cut that funding to pay for tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.

But hold on a minute--the grants handed out from the DOJ come from a segregated fund that sees its revenue come from surcharges on criminal offenders as part of their sentences.  Fewer people paid those surcharges last year--meaning less revenue came into the segregated fund.  So I have to ask Democrats, should Governor Walker have been out there encouraging more people to commit crimes so there were more surcharges to fund sexual assault crisis centers?  It kind of reminds me of when the state jacked up the tobacco tax on the premise of funding "smoking related healthcare expenses".  But when a lot of people quit the habit, the revenues actually declined--leaving the state even farther in its hole.

The other "Hold On a Minute" moment came Monday afternoon when Rush Limbaugh (heard from 11 to 2 Monday thru Friday and from Noon to 3 on Saturdays) took the talking heads at ESPN to task for tearing down Tim Tebow.  It's Rush's belief that analysts have to denegrate Tebow because he is an Evangelical Christian who leads an exemplary life and who once did a pro-life commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.

Hold on a minute, Rush.  Aren't you the guy who claimed the very same analysts were boosting up Donovan McNabb--who had far superior passing numbers and just as many wins as Tim Tebow--because "they wanted a Black quarterback to succeed"?  Like those experts, I don't care if a quarterback is a Wiccan who sacrifices a live chicken in his locker before a game--if he can't play the position, he can't play the position!  If anything, Tebow is getting a boost from fellow Evangelicals in the media--namely Skip Bayless at ESPN who continue to tout his "intangibles" (code for "devout religious beliefs"?) as the reason he is the Second Coming of God......Johnny Unitas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Taking Stock

Some thoughts on the hysteria surrounding the sale of Green Bay Packers stock yesterday:

--NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should take time away from fining defensive players for textbook tackles that are now illegal under the "concussion concious" rules and book a lot more time to hand out owner fines.  If you check the fine print on the stock purchase agreement, shareholders fall under the restrictions on all NFL owners.  That means the Commish can fine Packers Stockholders for "conduct detrimental to the league".  I can't wait for Wally and Merle to get called to New York to explain their drunken fight in the Lambeau Field parking lot on game day.  Fines should also be handed out for anyone who goes shirtless to any game below freezing.  The same goes for the Packelope, Saint Vince and anyone else with a FAVRE 4 EVER bumper sticker or license plate.

--I can guarantee that my parents--Mr and Mrs Robert Krause--didn't purchase any Packers stock yesterday.  $295 million renovation projects, personal seat licenses and another 190-million dollar expansion plan will still leave them sitting on cold alumimum bleachers with a puddle of water at their feet--even though it hasn't rained in Green Bay for a week.  I'm sure that everyone else who sits with one cheek off the end of the rows would like to see some improvements to the actual seating bowl one of these years as well.

--Anyone from Oshkosh who bought stock yesterday automatically forfeits their right to complain about property tax increases for infrastructure projects around here.  You can't wait to hand over $250 for a multi-million dollar private enterprise that uses its building a maximum of 12 times a year--yet you bitch up a storm when the School Board asks you to pay 20-dollars more a year for construction of a new school that will be used more than 200-times a year.  (My Libertarian side talking here: People feel good about giving to the Packers because they are doing it of their own free will.  It wasn't seven people at School District offices or 132 folks in Madison saying you "have to" give money to the Packers--and their neighbors didn't overrule their vote against spending that money)

Anyway, enjoy your $250 souvenier.  I'll take the same amount of money and put it in my Roth IRA to invest in companies that will actually pay me back.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One Expensive Ballot

April 3rd, 2012 is shaping up to be an expensive day for people in Oshkosh.  That is the spring general election day--with a ballot that could feature as many as three tax-increasing referenda.

First up is the Oshkosh School District looking for 13-million dollars for a new Oaklawn School.  The School Board will decide what--if any-chance they will have to win that one tomorrow night.  If they go with the idea of moving Oaklawn to a new site along County Highway A--you can expect the same result as the referendum to build new along Ryf Road a few years back (based on conversations with Oaklawn parents who say even they wouldn't support that idea).  If they opt for the recommendation going before them tomorrow night from a parents group--rebuild on the same site--they will have a fighting chance.  Of course, when has the Oshkosh School Board ever thought that anyone but itself has any good ideas?

Up next will be the Fox Valley Technical College with a referendum totalling up to 85-million dollars.  Oshkosh voters won't have total control on this one--as the FVTC district covers the better part of five counties.  This will actually be a refreshing change of public accountability for the Tech School System--as its boardmembers are not elected--even though they have the authority to raise our property taxes.  I guess we should thank them for at least asking this time around.

And now Common Councilmember Bob Poeschl--sensing that he has ZERO chance of getting his Wheel Tax proposal approved by the council--wants to put that on the spring ballot as well.  I'll be calling this measure the "Penalty For Not Riding the Bus" referendum--since revenues won't go to fund street repairs like in other cities--but rather Oshkosh Transit.  If so many of us weren't being so eco-unfriendly and driving our own cars everywhere we go--we wouldn't need this wheel tax.

So all told, the total of new taxes being proposed for the April 3rd ballot is 98-point-five million dollars.  It kind of reminds me of being back in high school--as my teachers in Honors Economics, Honors English and Advanced Placement Calculus all handed out major homework assignments on the same day--unaware of the load the others were also placing on us.

It will be interesting to see what voters in Oshkosh--who have seen stagnant income growth and decreased property values--will decide to do.  For some reason, I don't think they will be rushing to the polls that Tuesday to add 99-million dollars to their tax burdens.  Call it "Democracy In Action".

Oh, I almost forgot.  If April 3rd is also the date of the Gubernatorial Recall election--you can add another two billion dollars in new taxes to that total above.  Still a drop in the bucket compared to the TRILLIONS in tax hikes that will be at stake in November.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ah Yes, The BCS

One of my favorite days of the year is Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament--when you look at that bracket (which was better at just 64 teams) and start breaking down all the matchups for the office pool.  One of my least favorite days of the year was yesterday--when we find out who the BCS has screwed again this year.  If baffles me how the same organization that produces March Madness--where people who haven't watched a college basketball game all year are huddled around the office TV to watch a potential Cinderella upset in the first round--can also bring us a system where people talk about boycotting the Championship game telecast.

One of the "selling points" that the NCAA and the idiots that run the BCS tout is that "Every Game Counts".  Except, every game doesn't actually count.  How else to explain how Michigan State can win its division in the Big Ten and beat Michigan head-to-head--but then watch the Wolverines get a BCS bowl bid (and the big cash payout) while Sparty goes to Tampa for a meaningless contest.  Apparently getting your butt handed to you for the second time by the same opponent in the ACC Championship game didn't count for Virginia Tech--who goes to a BCS bowl game, while Boise State (with a better ranking) is shut out of the BCS for the fourth time in sixth years.  And based on the computers--LSU could have lost the SEC Championship game and still played Alabama for the BCS Championship.

I've been told that it's annoying to constantly point out on the air that the BCS Championship is a mythical National Championship.  The NCAA does not recognize an official Football Bowl Division champion--like it does for every other single sport that it authorizes.  There is a Women's Bowling National Champion, a Fencing National Champion and even a Rifle Shooting National Champion.

So how do we change this?  The ideas that always get floated around at this time of year are boycott watching the BCS Championship game or holding Congressional hearings--but we all know that won't change a thing.  The root that allows the BCS to continue to live is money--money that we the fans continue to hand over willingly.  And like the roots of any noxious weed, this will be a tough one to either kill or dig out of the ground.  The key will be to cost the schools more than they can make on the system--thereby catching the attention of the university presidents who endorse and control the BCS.

One of the dirty little secrets of the bowl system is that most schools that go to non-BCS games lose money on the trip.  Schools are required to pay for any tickets they don't actually sell for the game--and considering the increasing number of empty seats at the vast majority of these bowls, that cost keeps going up.  So let's hit the system in the wallet by not bothering to take the trip to Orlando or Tampa or Boise (yes, they host a bowl). 

Step two should be a little bit easier, don't watch any of the games.  It's not called the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas because Meineke Car Care thinks its going to sell a lot of brake jobs to people coming to the game itself.  It wants the constant on-screen presence provided by ESPN's telecast of the game.  If ESPN loses the ratings for these meaningless contests--then the sponsorship money will go away as well.  (By the way, I find it laughable when ESPN talking heads criticize the BCS--when it is their BILLION DOLLAR contract that fuels the whole system.)

And finally, fans will have to take away all the other revenue streams schools enjoy from the bowl system.  That means not buying Rose Bowl sweatshirts, t'shirts, caps and seat cushions at the University Bookstore.  This will be difficult for my family members--as that is becoming the easiest gifts to get for me this time of year.

With two bowl bids going to nearly every one of the conferences tied in to the BCS--that will mean a minimum of $25-MILLION DOLLARS  to the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC, and the Pac-12 each.  Money that is supposed to salve the wounds of those deserving teams that got the shaft yesterday--and to keep them supporting the giant money grab that robs the fans and the student-athletes of a chance to have the championship actually decided on the field.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Master of Puppets

The Occupy Wall Street movement has a new face today.  His name is Joe Therrien and he personifies perfectly the people who are blaming big corporations and banks for his plight in life.

Joe is a former New York City School District drama teacher.  Joe didn't lose his teaching job due to reduced enrollment or because his union decided it was more important to force the district to cover the cost of Viagara as part of the health insurance package.  Instead, Joe was upset a few years ago that No Child Left Behind was forcing New York schools to focus on unimportant subjects like Math, English and Science--so he quit.  Instead of forming his own acting troupe or setting up shop giving acting lessons or tutoring the children of New York's elite, Joe chose to go back to school to pursue his "passion"--puppetry.
After taking out $35,000 in student loans over three years of study, Joe finally earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree in puppetry.

Unfortunately for Joe, there isn't a whole lot of demand for Master Puppeteers in today's economy--and he can't find a job.  So he now spends his days at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, demanding that his student loan debt be forgiven--while building giant puppets that he hopes will "open people up to this new cultural conciousness."

I would like to a study on the degrees earned (or not earned) by those currently in default on their student loans.  I'd be willing to bet that the number one field of study will be an MBA--which for about two decades was marketed as the golden ticket to business success--until everyone and their dog got one, thereby watering down the value of the degree.  After that, you can almost guarantee will be a long list of humanities and social sciences.  That is due in large part to years of kids being encouraged to "follow your passion" when it came to choosing a degree program and a career path.  Educators were so sure that someday there would be a huge demand for Womens Studies majors and Sociologists.

Now that reality has set in for that generation of "passion followers", even the most liberal education officials are admitting that four-year degrees really aren't that necessary to succeed in life.  That's why Wisconsin Public Instruction Secretary Tony Evers was touring a Kaukauna manufacturing plant this week to learn about their apprenticeship programs--which only require high school diplomas.  After the tour he told us in the media that "maybe we need to do a better job of steering kids into technical fields of study."  Unfortunately, no members of the Oshkosh School Board were in attendance for that statement--as it looks at forming a Performing Arts Charter School--where the focus will be on music, singing and acting.  As we say on twitter: "facepalm".

In the movie Caddyshack Judge Smails--played brilliantly by the late Ted Knight--tells caddy Danny Noonan who is whining about not being able to afford to go to college: "Well, the world needs ditch diggers too".  When Brian Doyle-Murray wrote that line, he meant it as a shot at the attitude of the country club elite in the 1980's.  But as those finding out all that student loan debt isn't paying off like they thought are now learning the hard way--the world really does need ditch diggers.  Or at least more than puppeteers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do You Want Free Will With That?

Two big thumbs up to executives at McDonald's this morning for stymieing the City of San Francisco's efforts to limit consumer choice and basically telling people how to live their lives.  Starting today it is illegal for restaurants in the City By the Bay to include a "free" toy with children's meals.  The City Council approved the ordinance earlier this year on the argument that toys in Happy Meals force children to drive themselves to Mickey D's and purchase--with their own money--food that is detrimental to their health.

McDonald's had already tried to make the Happy Meal healthier in response to threats from the Food Police--replacing the fries with apple slices and the soda with milk.  But that still wasn't good enough.  The apples weren't organic and it was dairy milk--not soy milk-so the public's "health" was still at risk.

In response to the new law, McDonald's is now "selling" Happy Meal toys for 10-cents--with all proceeds from the sale of those toys going to the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco.  What an unbelievable marketing coup!  Continuing to provide a product consumers want--and allowing them to benefit a fine charitable effort as well!  The only way it could get better is if the menu boards now included a big notice that "free" toys are no longer available "due to the efforts of over-reaching liberal lawmakers who think they know what is better for your kids than you, their parents."

As you might expect, those over-reaching liberal lawmakers are not taking McDonald's business decision well.  The city's Health Department Director calls the decision "a win for obesity and diabetes."  He also promises to "improve the regulation."  I take that to mean that another ordinance is on the way to just flat out ban restaurants from selling toys, period.

Could I make some suggestions to the San Francisco City Council?  Instead of expending so much energy and effort on trying to limit free enterprise--why not try getting kids to expend more energy and effort in their everyday lives?  Why not have kids spend less time writing essays on how global warming makes them sad and give them more time on the playground for recess and phy ed?  And when they are out there--why not let them play games that actually encourage running around and burning off some calories--like "tag", dodgeball, football or basketball?  Yes, these are games that have winners and losers--and those that don't win might have their self-esteem "bruised"--but it sure beats the increasingly sedentary lifestyles promoted by the internet and video game systems at home.

Or maybe those lawmakers could hold people responsible for the decisions they make.  I know this is a foreign concept to liberals--personal accounatability--it's just easier to take away any and all options they deem "non-beneificial" to their utopian society.  For instance, you could allow health insurance companies to charge more to cover those who are obese and out of shape.  That would send a very clear message to consumers--if you exercise your free will to make poor lifestyle choices--you will be held accountable by paying more than those who mix in a few fruits and veggies every meal.  I'm guessing the whining from the backseat of the car about getting a Happy Meal won't be so annoying when Mom or Dad think about the extra couple hundred bucks a month it could cost them insure Junior.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can We Go Back to Real Football Again?

(WARNING! Today's "My Two Cents" features a rant from a middle-aged man about how "things were better when I was a kid")

I have a couple of theorys about the NFL.  First, I believe that if the modern rules of the game had been in place for the entire history of the league, Deion Sanders would be the only defensive player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  "Prime Time" would be the only defensive player not because of his career interception numbers or his prowess as a punt returner.  Instead, Deion would be the only defender in Canton because he never once attempted to actually tackle someone.

Every other defensive player in the Hall of Fame would have been totally incapable of playing in today's NFL.  Think Ndamakong Suh's arm-stomp was "horrible"?  That was an average play for Dick Butkus.  Hitting a receiver trying to catch a ball is illegal because he is "defenseless?  Dick "Night Train" Lane used to clothesline guys coming across the middle--whether they had the ball or not.  Ronnie Lott wouldn't be allowed on the field nowadays--because he would either be suspended for leading with his helmet or he wouldn't be cleared by the team physician because of "concussion like symptoms".  Chuck Bednarik is famous for two things:  being the last two-way star in the league and for almost killing Frank Gifford with a huge hit--forcing a game-winning fumble.  The entire Steel Curtain, Fearsome Foursome and Purple People Eaters would be playing for free--given the number of fines they would incur for "unneccesary roughness".

I follow a number of NFL analysts, "insiders" and talking heads on Twitter--and the general consensus with all of them is that nobody knows how you are supposed to legally play defense anymore.  Touching the quarterback a split-second after he releases the ball--FLAG.  Seperating a receiver from the ball as he tries to catch it--FLAG.  Looking at a receiver as he reaches for the ball on a deep pass--FLAG.  If we had more than four talented quarterbacks in the league right now, every game would go over 100-points.

Which brings me to my second theory:  The only thing that matters to the NFL now is Fantasy Football.  It's no coincidence that the rise of the league as the be-all, end-all of the American sports landscape mirrors the rise in popularity of Fantasy Football.  And since scoring is the only things that counts in the vast majority of leagues--that is the only thing that most fans now care about.  How else to explain the NFL Redzone Channel--which features nothing but scoring plays all Sunday long--or the need to provide all of the individual stats on the "crawl" instead of the actual scores of the games?

As someone who grew up watching football in the glory days of team defense (and the running game--but that's a topic for another Two Cents) this new, all offense all the time trend in the sport bores me.  It might as well be the NBA--where last possession wins every game.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recreational Hazards

Let me preface today's "My Two Cents" with the fact that I am an 11-handicap golfer--which according to the United States Golf Association--puts me in the top 25% of golfers in the country.  But that does not mean that I am immune to the pressure that comes from seeing water down the right-hand side of a fairway (when my most common miss is a push-fade) or that I never chunk one when I have to carry water to get to a green.  But I think those protesting the addition of stormwater retention ponds as water hazards on Reid Municipal Golf Course need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

I play Reid about three or four times a year--usually in the Fox Cities Amateur or the Appleton City Tournament.  It's a nice little course that is usually in very good condition and that presents a fair challenge for both the location and the price.  It already has the two things that inflate my score--out of bounds on several holes, and large trees that you just can't blast the ball over.  What it doesn't have is a lot of water in play.  The lone pond on the course affects one hole--while an ugly, concrete "stream" scars a few holes on the back nine.  I've seen more than a few guys go down into the "berm" and try to play out--scratching the heck out of their wedges just to save one stroke.  So I wouldn't mind seeing a few more ponds put into play.

I realize the construction of those retention ponds will force the shutdown of at least a third of the holes on the course for one season--and that is a major concern for those who have had their leagues, tournaments and outings at Reid for years now.  But let's keep in mind that Lakeshore Municipal here in Oshkosh was closed for an entire year to deal with its major flooding problems--and most players would agree it was worth the shutdown for the improved playing conditions since.  And if you are worried about losing a few more balls every summer, you probably shouldn't be playing the expensive Tour balls anyway.  Besides, water hazards make a course even better.

Think about it.  If you had to name the greatest golf holes in the world--the vast majority of them have water hazards.  Every hole in Amen Corner at Augusta National has water in play.  So does 15 and 16 at Augusta.  18 at the Blue Monster at Doral....18 at Carnoustie has the berm crossing the fairway twice...the 7th, 17th and 18th at Pebble Beach have a little pond we like to call the Pacific Ocean in play--where the drop zone is in Hawaii.  And of course, the most iconic hole in golf--the 17th at TPC Sawgrass--is just a tee, a green and a whole lot of water.  (Now would be a perfect time to mention that I hit the green at 17 while playing Sawgrass last February).

So I'm asking my fellow golfers to calm down a bit and let a designer take a look at what the city wants to do to help Reid's neighbors deal with unwanted flooding and standing water in their yards.  It sure beats the alternative of the City Council shutting it down and turning it into a housing development as has been suggested in the past.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What's Not Working?

The Missus and I took a trip to Chicago over the weekend.  As we approached the first toll booth in Waukegan a Lebaron Convertible with one of those big RECALL WALKER! and the "blue fist" "I stand with the Unions" bumper stickers went flying by us.  A few seconds later, we saw the portable message sign alerting drivers that the toll for that plaza will increase from $1.50 to $2.80 per vehicle--effective January 1st.

I have to wonder, did RECALL WALKER! Guy think "Holy (expletive), they are almost doubling the tolls down here!" like I did?  Or did he think "Wow, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is awesome!!  He's making everyone pay 87% more to drive the tollways--just so state workers don't have to contribute 12% to their health insurance benefits!"?

I don't know if RECALL WALKER! Guy had to buy gas while in the Chicago area.  He would have found an average around $3.51 a gallon--compared to $3.09 that I got at a truck stop station just north of Kenosha.  That is thanks, in part, to the higher gas tax in Illinois--69-cents a gallon there (fifth highest in the nation) compared to 51.3-cents a gallon here (11th highest).  If he did fuel up, was RECALL WALKER! Guy thinking "(expletive), I'd rather run out of gas then fill up before I get back to Wisconsin" like I did?  Or did he think "Way to go Democratic-controlled Illinois Legislature!  Make everyone pay 35% more for gas than in Wisconsin so state employees don't have to pay 5% of the retirement benefits!"?

And I can't be sure if RECALL WALKER! Guy bought anything in Chicago.  If he did, he would have noticed the 10% sales tax.  Would he have thought "(expletive) (expletive), are they providing British or Canadian-style health care down here?"  Or would his thought process be "Rahm Emanuel is the MAN!"  He's making everyone pay 100% more in sales tax than they do in Oshkosh so city union employees can still get their 4% raises!"

I should also point out that Illinois' budget deficit is eight-BILLION dollars--compared to the zero budget deficit in Wisconsin.  Unemployment in Illinois was 10.1% in October--compared to 7.8% in Wisconsin.  So RECALL WALKER! Guy: what exactly isn't working here--that is working in Illinois?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black (Hearts) Friday

I sure hope the person in the white or light gray SUV that nearly collided with me making a left-hand turn into the WalMart parking lot at 2:55 this morning got whatever item was so damn important that obeying the rules of the road no longer applied.  Nothing gets you out of a post-Thanksgiving tryptophan coma like having to lock up the brakes to avoid t-boning some moron who is so engrossed in saving 40% on something that the person receiving it won't even be using a year from now.

I'd be willing to bet that Miss or Mister No One Else Exists on This Planet is one of those people who is habitually six or seven minutes late for work at 8:00 every morning.  But on Black Friday, he or she is amazingly capable of making it to a store at 4:00 AM or 3:00 AM or even at Midnight.

I'm also guessing he or she is also one of those people who just can't find enough time to spend with their kids--but will just make up for it by buying everything their children put on their Christmas list.  Nothing says "I love you, son" like a 125-dollar video game system.  I just heard a woman on TV "complaining" that the midnight doorbusters "forced" her to leave her family's Thanksgiving dinner early so she would have time to get to the store.  You know, if Grandma or Grandpa gets real sick or passes away this year, I'm sure they won't regret losing those last few hours that could have been spent together.

It's hard to believe, but I actually can agree with the #Occupy folks who are out protesting the doorbuster sales events in New York today.  Believe me, the #OccupyMyWallet people who aren't already out working hard to pay their bills first--not their Christmas shopping list--were not in line to storm the stores today.  We've got our priorities a little bit better in line.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

It’s time to give thanks again. Here is what I am thankful for:

Once again this year, I am thankful for the love of my wife, Michele. She’s decided to stay with me for another year—although there have been times when she has wondered why.

I’m thankful for Congressmen Paul Ryan and Ron Paul. Their continued efforts to show the fallacy of thinking we can tax and spend our way out of our huge Federal deficit and the recession continues to give me hope for the future of this country.

I’m thankful for the former leaders of Greece and Italy for proving in the “real world” that trying to tax and spend your way out of a huge Federal deficit and the recession is doomed to failure.

I’m thankful for the new divisional alignment of the Big Ten Football Conference. Because of the two-division format, the Wisconsin Badgers remain alive for the Conference Championship Game and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Under the old format, Michigan State fans would already be booking their trips to Pasadena—and the Badgers would be going to Orlando again.

I’m thankful for Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover. By following Dave’s advice for the last seven years, my household has been able to weather economic challenges without the fear and uncertainty that so many other families are facing today.

I’m thankful for Tim Thomas—whose outstanding goaltending backstopped my beloved Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup Championship since 1972. That June night has become my new “Happy Place”.

As always, I’m thankful for the WOSH listeners—and those who tune into all of our sister stations. It’s because of you and our wonderful sponsors that I get to talk for living.

And finally this year, I give my biggest “Thank You” to the doctors, nurses and staff at the Bellin Hospital Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit for treating my new nephew, Jackson—who was born almost four months pre-mature. Jackson is home now and doing great--thanks to the fantastic work of these health care providers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have a theory about the discontent and frustration felt by the #occupy people:  They had bad toys as kids.

My wife and I were in the toy department of an area store a few weeks ago when I suggested we get one of the kids an "Ernie" doll from Sesame Street.  My wife dismissed the idea saying "He doesn't even 'do anything'"  Technically, she was correct.  It wasn't "Tickle Me Ernie" or "Rockin' Dancin' Ernie" or "Read To Me Ernie".  A child who got that doll would have had to use their imagination to make Ernie "come to life".

That's when I noticed that just about every other toy in the department did "do something".  They would move in pre-programmed ways, or make a certain noise when a button was pushed, or light up when shaken.  Even the books nowadays read themselves.  It's like children can no longer be expected to take an inanimate object and use their own creativity to make it "fun".


When I was a kid, there were far fewer "electronic" toys on the market--we had to be the "voice" the "motor" and  the "program" for our toys.  Those Fisher-Price Little People?  They spent more time playing football or basketball on the floor of my bedroom than they did working the farm they actually came with.  Matchbox Cars didn't follow streets on "sold seperately" mats.  They took part in car chases over and around furniture--or they raced to the "bar and back" in the basement.  And the few video games that we had didn't include "shortcut codes" to skip ahead to advanced levels without "earning" your way there.

And that leads me back to my theory about the #occupy folks.  These young people grew up with toys that did all the work for them.  Elmo always had his own voice, the cars raced around their own tracks and buttons decided what a toy would do.  There was no need to come up with their own games or adventures--everything was pre-packaged for them.  And now that they are out in the "real world", they are frustrated there isn't that "button" to push to make things happen--and they don't know what to do now.  So they sit on the floor and they pout--until someone comes along to give them what they want.

Unfortunately, we are buying the little ones the toys with all the bells and whistles.  But I won't be disappointed if they have more fun playing with the boxes or the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

Monday, November 21, 2011


So the SuperCommittee on Deficit Reduction has failed to come up with a plan to save us from future financial disaster.  If any of you are shocked by this--you need to get out of the house more often.

Let's be honest, this committee was doomed from the start--not because it was a "bi-partisan" body that came to the table with very "partisan" opinions on how to address our continued budget shortfalls--but rather because the these are the very people who got us into the mess in the first place.  If your car was totalled in a crash involving a drunk driver, would you ask the drunk driver to give you a ride home?

The SuperCommittee meetings should have started with a press conference where each member looked into the camera and said "I am a total moron who approved a whole bunch of spending without giving any thought to how to pay for it.  Therefore I have zero credibility when it now comes to fixing the mess I created."  Next, every member should have quit, saying "President Obama should be coming up with his own plan--since he was elected to provide some leadership for this country--instead of pushing off the actual tough stuff to a Congressional committee that he can blame when he runs for re-election next year."

Instead, a bunch of politicians went behind closed doors to seek a politically-convenient proposal instead of an actual financial solution.  The brutal truth is that it won't be solved by just cutting spending and it won't be solved by just raising taxes.  But when you send people with hard-line positions in to "negotiate" a compromise--and who are incapable of accepting the blame for creating the situation--you are doomed to failure before you even start.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quick Hits

Just a few thoughts on a couple of topics.....

--Can we have some consistancy on how we handle threats on public officials?  I ask as the Dane County District Attorney announces that he will not seek charges against a convicted felon accused of posting death threats against Governor Scott Walker on Facebook.  Meanwhile, later this month an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional Institution will undergo a federal trial for writing letters to the White House threatening President Obama.  I wonder how a guy locked up in a penitentiary is considered to be a credible threat to the President--but someone walking around free is considered to just be "joking around"?

--I appreciate the importance of deer hunting to certain parts of the state--but I don't think recent legislative attempts to boost the sport are going to do any good.  First time license buyers will now get a deep discount and kids who take a hunter safety course can get high school credit toward their graduation.  Supporters think it will get more young people interested in hunting.  The only problem?  Today's teenager has no interest in hunting--no matter how cheap you make it.  Consider that there is no 3G internet access in the woods and there is no guarantee of success--no matter how good a shot you are.  Why bundle up to sit in the cold and hope that a deer walks by--when there is a video game that has deer walking past you all the time to be shot? 

If we are so concerned about fewer hunters in the field, why not just expand the season to include the entire month of November?  You open up more hunting opportunities for those who can't take next week off of work--and you give everyone more time to bag a buck.  Because we hunt to help control the deer herd right?

--I'm dragging butt today because I had the play-by-play last night for the Division Four Football Championship game between Wrightstown and Somerset.  What a fantastic game--as it became the first title game to go into double overtime.  Wrightstown was down 8 with about 2:00 minutes to go--but put together an impressive drive that ended with a game tying TD and 2-point conversion with less than :30.  The Tigers then stuffed a Somerset 2-point attempt in the second OT to seal the win.  It was a privilege and joy to describe the action as both team literally left everything they had out on the field.  It's a shame someone has to lose a game like that.  Nonetheless, congratulations to Wrightstown on their third state championship.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Small Win for Accountable Government--And One Big Loss

Those of us who push for open and accountable government scored a small victory last night, as the Oshkosh School Board rejected the creation of an "investigatory panel" to look into allegations of open meetings law violations by member Ben Schneider II.  The discussion centered on nearly all of the points that I raised in yesterday's "Two Cents"--mainly that Schneider broke no laws by telling the media about Oaklawn Elementary discussions that did not fit the definition of proper closed session material and that there are various avenues of actual legal recourse for alleged rules violations.

Board President John Lemberger tried to cover his butt for this naked intimidation tactic by claiming that he merely wanted to "start a discussion about the Board speaking with one voice after a decision is made".  Well, as Board President he could have had such a discussion by placing on the agenda "Discussion about the Board speaking with one voice after a decision is made"--rather than consulting with the district's legal counsel (at taxpayer expense) to see if he could convene a Kangaroo Court packed with his own lackeys.

Unfortunately, the open government movement suffered a major blow as reporters trying to hold Penn State officials accountable for their actions in the alleged coverup of sexual abuse of children on its campus found out the University is exempt from open records laws.  In 2008, the Pennsylvania Legislature granted Penn State the exemption--meaning reporters will not be allowed to request internal memos, emails, phone records and schedules from those accused of keeping Jerry Sandusky's alleged actions under wraps for at least 13-years.

Care to guess who was the biggest proponent of granting Penn State that exemption from public scrutiny required from every other branch of government?  None other than former President Graham Spanier--who was quick to say he supported the school officials charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in the Sandusky case.  At the time, Spanier claimed the exemption was needed to protect the "competitiveness" of the University--and to save the institution from the expense of complying with hundreds of open records request. 

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist--but don't you get the feeling that Spanier knew the potential bombshell that exisited in the personnel files and electronic records of both the Athletic Department and the Penn State Police Department?  He had to know it would be just a matter of time before one of Sandusky's victims grew tired of the man walking about free and respected in the community and took their accusations to a reporter who was not in bed with the University.  Better to go to extraordinary legislative lengths to put up a wall around that dirty laundry--rather than have it dragged out for everyone to see.

Fortunately, prosecutors can still subpoena that information--and it will be exposed--but only if the case goes to trial.  If Sandusky was to cop a plea--and the discovery information was to be sealed by the court--we may never know the full culpability of Penn State University and its adminstration.  And those that believe they are not accountable to the people will have scored another big victory.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Kangaroo Court is Now in Session

In baseball there is an old locker room tradition called the "Kangaroo Court".  The veterans on the team levy fines on other players for such "crimes" as running through a coach's "stop" sign on the bases, failing to hit a cutoff man or wearing your socks wrong on the field.  It's meant to be a joke--and to build an esprit de corps in the locker room.  Tonight, the Oshkosh School Board will vote to create its own Kangaroo Court.  It too will be a joke--but its purpose is to intimidate any members who might want to guarantee open and honest government.

In a nutshell, Board President John Lemberger will be given the power to appoint the members of this "Investigative Panel"--which will look into comments Ben Schneider II made to WOSH Radio and other local media outlets about improper matters discussed in closed session.  Schneider came on our station accusing his fellow Boardmembers of talking about Oaklawn Elementary School options that were not properly noticed before several closed session meetings this spring and summer--and which do not fall under the qualifications for closed session anyway.  In other words, Schneider would be "investigated" for exposing improper action by his fellow Boardmembers.

Given the union influence on the School Board, such strong-armed tactics and thuggery should have been expected.  "We got caught--now let's punish the guy who turned us in".  And what better way to do that than to create an extra-judicial entity--controlled by those seeking vengence--to dole out its own form of "justice".

If Board President Lemberger really wants to focus on "misconduct" by members then he should form a panel that includes actual experts on Open Meetings Law--who will examine the entire process of these closed session meetings this year--not just on the whistle-blowing that turned attention to them.  That means no professor who teaches Principles of Good Government at the University, no attorney who specializes in negotiating contracts for labor unions, no handpicked "concerned parent" for this panel.  If you are serious about "investigating" misconduct, Mr. Lemberger, then this panel should be made up of Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett (who actually has the power to bring legal action against an elected official who violates the law), Judge Thomas Gritton (who does not live in the Oshkosh School District) and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Bellavia (the State Department of Justice expert on Open Meetings Laws).

I wonder who would be intimidated by that truly impartial panel looking into School Board conduct?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why We Need To Talk About It

We got a post from a listener Sunday night on our WOSH Facebook page.  The listener was "offended" that Bill Cunningham was using the word "rape" on the air repeatedly while discussing the Penn State scandal.  That listener believes such a word should not be used--and that "their (sic) is other stuff to talk about" besides that.

And that is exactly why we need to be talking about that.

First off, the use of the word "rape".  If you read the grand jury presentment you would agree that "rape" is certainly a proper description of the acts that were allegedly witnessed by Michael McQueary--and that "rape" is probably one of the least offensive ways to describe it.  Perhaps that listener would prefer the terms that Jerry Sandusky and his attorney are using in their "media blitz": "horseplay" or "just fooling around in the shower".  That in NO way diminishes the nature of the alleged offenses--and I'm sure makes all sexual assault victims feel like we really sympathize with their plight.

And as far as the complaint about such topics being discussed on the radio--that is the very attitude that allowed an institution like Penn State or Catholic Church to keep such alleged abuses under wraps for so long.  I can imagine the meeting McQueary and his father had with Joe Paterno the day after the 2002 "shower incident". 

"Coach I saw Jerry having sex with a boy in the shower last night.  The boy was pinned against the wall and Jerry was....."
"Aw, geez Michael, I don't need to hear about that stuff.  I'll talk to the Athletic Director and we'll get this straightened out.  Now don't talk about that stuff ever again.  You hear me?"

And right there, the policy is set: Coach Paterno (and everyone else at Penn State) doesn't want to hear about the molestation of children in his football facility.  Out of sight--out of mind. 

On a related note, I hope you were able to tear yourself away from the Packers game last night to watch Jerry Sandusky and his attorney on NBC's Rock Center With Brian Williams.  Bob Costas asked Sandusky pointed questions about the allegations against him.  Sandusky's answers sounded like 75% of the suspect statements I read in child sexual assault criminal complaints:  they are willing to admit to everything that is alleged--up to the point where it becomes a criminal act.  "Yes I showered with boys, yes I touched their legs, yes I hugged them, maybe my genitals bumped up against them but I didn't have any sexual contact with them!"  And the simple yes or no question of "Are you sexually attracted to young boys?" got a rambling twenty-second answer that ended with "I just enjoy being with children."

So make the decision listeners--are we going to talk about the serial molestation of children with the tacit knowledge of a public institution--or are we going to continue to turn away from it because it "makes us uncomfortable"?

Monday, November 14, 2011

#Occupy My Wallet Update

While members of other #Occupy "movements" have moved on to their real purpose: anarchy and violence--members of #Occupy My Wallet have been busy in more positive directions.

Members of #Occupy My Wallet have been taking advantage of the artificially low interest rates to refinance their mortgages.  Even though we are paying ahead on this debt, having a lower interest rate will still save us tens of thousands over the life of the loan.  #Occupy My Wallet members are finding that banks and other financial institutions really do have money to loan--they just need more people who are likely to repay it to ask for some!  Members are also benefiting from not being underwater on their mortgages and having bought only the amount of house they could afford on just one income.

Members of #Occupy My Wallet are also enrolling for their 2012 benefits.  The high-deductible, Health Savings Account plan continues to be the greatest value in health care--with rates as low at $30 a month.  As an added bonus, the State of Wisconsin has stopped punishing those of us who are being responsible and saving for our health care costs, by no longer taxing contributions to HSA's next year.  We are also enrolling for long-term disability insurance--so if something disastrous happens to us--we will continue to have income coming in.

Members of #Occupy My Wallet were not lined up to buy the new iPhone 4s or Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare.  Our 3G phones (which we bought at a deep discount after the hot new phones came out a few years ago) continue to operate just fine--and we are too busy working extra hours spending time with friends and family to play a lot of video games.

Members of #Occupy My Wallet celebrated the resignations of European leaders who took part in irresponsible spending patterns for decades.  We now await the selection of Presidents who support cutting back deficit spending that threatens to sink an entire continent--and the world economy.

Members of #Occupy My Wallet issued a sternly worded warning to those coming to visit this winter to wear a sweater.  A La Nina weather pattern is expected--meaning another colder, snowier winter.  #Occupy My Wallet recommends keeping the thermostat at 68 max--even though natural gas prices will be the same as last year.

And finally, #Occupy My Wallet members continue to reject the over-commercialism of Christmas--which this year started weeks before Halloween.  Friends and family should expect more time spent together and fewer costly gifts that you won't be using in a year anyway.

Big Government is still coming for #Occupy My Wallet members--not with riot gear and tear gas, but rather with new taxes and "redistribution of wealth" plans.  We need to be as well-armed in our bank accounts as possible.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of Those Who Served

For the first Veterans Day ever, I actually know what my dad did in the Military. 

The fact that I was born in Virginia has always been a conversation starter--as you would never know I was a native Suthuhna--I've got no accent and I don't call every soda a "Coke" (although I do eat grits with Tabasco Sauce).  I was born there because my dad was stationed in the Army at the time--and my mom moved out there with him.  Dad already had a college degree--and ended up getting a very low draft number--so he decided to enlist.  But the conversation would always come to a stop when the question was raised about what he did in the Army--because I could never give them an answer.

Growing up, I would see my Dad in his old fatigues--usually when he was going to do something that required getting very dirty--like fixing the car.  I would ask him "What did you do in the Army?" and the answer would either be "That's classified" or "As little as possible".  (My father is a man of few words--my gift of gab comes from my Mother).  So I would just let it go.  Imagine my surprise then when my wife asked Dad the same question over the Labor Day Weekend this summer--and we actually got an answer.

When the question was first asked I chuckled--expecting one of the above pat answers--but this time my Dad said that he worked in Military Intelligence.  My wife asked what that entailed--and Dad answered that he was part of a team that deciphered intercepted messages from the North Vietnamese Army.  My wife then asked if he helped to head off any major attacks by the enemy.  Dad said that he didn't think so--but they did find out how much help the Chinese were providing NVA in the early 1970's.  Maybe after 39-years my Father's military experience was finally "de-classified"--but it was really neat to finally know.

I've always thought it was lucky that Dad got to stay stateside during the war.  I've got a couple of Uncles that served in Vietnam--and they can tell you some stories that would make your hair curl.  He served his hitch--got his honorable discharge--and moved back to Wisconsin to start living the American Dream.

So on this Veterans Day, I'd like to thank my favorite Vet--Bob Krause--for his service (now that I know exactly what it was).  The same goes for everyone else who served--it's because of you that the United States continues to be the best place to live.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Success With Honor

I chose that title for today's "My Two Cents" because it is the motto of the Penn State University football team.  It's a motto that thousands of students who took to the streets of State College, PA last night protesting the firing of Coach Joe Paterno seemed to have forgotten.

Anger is never a proper motivating factor ("it only leads to the Dark Side" said a very wise philosopher a long time ago)--but I wonder how the anger of Penn State fans has become so misplaced?  The signs and chants in last night's protest directed that anger at the Board of Trustees--who had finally brought some semblence of sanity to this tragedy and fired Joe Paterno--effective immediately.  It took a group of business and academic leaders to look at what was going on and realize that there was no way to meet the expectation of the above motto with JoePa still at the helm.  Also, the Board decided that two other coverup participants--former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz--can enjoy the "full support" of now former University President Graham Spanier.

Paterno and his hired damage-control PR firm had earlier in the day made a last-gasp effort to maintain control in the situation by announcing Coach would retire at the end of the year.  Just give me these final three games and I will leave--on my own terms.  But the Board of Trustees correctly stepped in and re-established that it--and the school itself--is the one with the control here--and it would set the terms of JoePa's departure.

How football coaches and Athletic Department executives could have the run of the campus became clear in last night's press conference--where the local reporters only wanted to know who would be coaching the Nittany Lions Saturday versus Nebraska, why JoePa wasn't allowed to retire on his own terms, and why was Coach being punished for doing only what he was required to do?

Saturday's game between Penn State and Nebraska is now must-watch TV.  How will the fans respond?  Will they boycott the game in protest?  Will that protest be in favor of JoePa--or in support for the molestation victims?  Will the student section chant for those who allowed a child predator to lure in an unknown number of victims for an additional nine years?  Will the players even show up?  Even though they now have a chance to return some actual meaning to their motto: "Success With Honor".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Below is a link to a Sportscenter segment featuring college football analyst--and Penn State alum--Matt Millen discussing the child sexual abuse scandal affecting his alma mater.

It was tough to watch--as I can relate to what Millen is feeling--having had a friend and colleague turn out to be something that nobody thought they were.  You can see and hear how Matt wants to believe that what is alleged to have happened is not true--but that is in conflict with the nature of allegations and the effect that such actions will have on the victims.

Millen's heartfelt expression of emotion stands in stark contrast to the continued response from everyone else involved in this scandal.  Penn State officials continue to make no acknowledgement of the boys involved--only discussing its support of the adults who helped to keep these allegations under wraps for almost ten years--and who allowed the alleged predator to use their football program and facilities to entice his victims.  I'm guessing this is the "legally correct" thing to do--but it sure makes the institution look cold and uncaring.

And then you have the "impromptu" student rally last night in support of embattled head coach Joe Paterno.  Granted, college students will rally for low-cost pizza, but I'm hoping that one day when they are bit older--and have children of their own--they will look back on last night as one of those things they regret doing.  In the meantime, the campus should probably postpone any marches or vigils in honor of sexual abuse victims--it continues to be clear that winning football games is far more important at Penn State University.