Wednesday, October 31, 2012

White Men Still Can't Jump

As the NBA season tips off this week, there are plenty of questions to be answered.  Can LeBron James and the Miami Heat repeat as champions?  Will the revamped Lakers rise again in the West?  Will the Milwaukee Bucks actually enjoy a winning season?  And why aren't there more black guys on the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Actually, no one would be asking that last question were it not for an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (written by two non-sports reporters) this week quoting self-appointed African-American "Community Leaders" accusing the team of stockpiling white players to appeal to its white fan base:

Tyrone Terrell--chairman of the Saint Paul African American Leadership Council--is quoted as saying "How did we get a roster that resembles the 1955 Lakers?"--a reference to the early days of the NBA, when the number of black players was limited by an "unspoken quota" among franchise owners.  I find it interesting that Terrell chose the '55 Lakers (who played in Minneapolis, where there actually are lakes--as opposed to Los Angeles) because that roster featured Clyde Lovellette, Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin and George Mikan--four members of the Basketball Hall of Fame.  But their talent doesn't matter to folks like Terrell.

Timberwolves officials point out that they tried to sign a number of African American free agents over the off-season--but those players chose other franchises--leaving them to sign Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Alexy Shved and former Badger Greg Stiemsma. Leaving them with five blacks on a roster of 15 players.

What is not included in the article--and is never addressed when this topic comes up--is: How many black players are "enough"?  Should the entire roster be African Americans?  Would that guarantee and NBA Championship?  Would "Community Leaders" like Terrell be satisfied with the NBA average of 75% African Americans?  Is half the roster a "fair" number?  Or should the team accurately reflect the population as a whole?  Meaning the T-Wolves will have to actually cut two of their black players to get to the 13% "quota" and they would have to sign a couple of Hispanic players and an Asian guy.  (Or more accurately, they would have to sign 8 female players as well--but we won't go there this time around).

Ironically, with players from Russia, Montenegro, Spain and Puerto Rico--along with black and white Americans--the Timberwolves will be one of the most multi-cultural teams in the NBA this season.  Of course, if all you care about is the color of their skin, you won't be able to tell that when watching the games.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Built-In Excuse Is Now In Place

So how long do you think it will be before both Presidential campaigns claim Hurricane Sandy has "unfairly tainted the election"?  Honestly, it was the first thing that came to my mind as scenes of the damage caused by the storm starting showing up on TV and the internet last night.

Sure, everybody is playing nice right now--turning their campaign offices into donation collection centers (because it's so much easier to go to the Romney-Ryan or Obama For America office than it is to go to the Red Cross office another block down).  Both sides have even postponed events "out of concern for the hurricane victims".  (Although it should be pointed out, overseeing disaster relief efforts is part of President Obama's job--as opposed to making fundraising calls and leading rallies in battleground states.  Although handling international crises like the attack on the Benghazi Embassy are part of his job too--but Vegas was calling that night).  But you know there are strategists working overtime now trying to find anyway possible to use the storm to their advantage.

I think it will start as early as today with mayors and governors in heavily Democratic areas saying they will do "everything they can to make sure people can vote next Tuesday--but obviously, we can't make any guarantees".  That will immediately set off the alarm bells at Democratic National Headquarters and at MSNBC--where hours of programming will be spent on how the storm has "disenfranchised millions" and how that "threatens the legitimacy of this election".

Next will come the absurd demands for last-minute changes in election procedures that have not been reviewed by any legal experts or elected officials.  Evacuees should be allowed to vote at whatever place they are next Tuesday...absentee ballots should be provided to all displaced voters and counted no matter how long after the election they are returned...and the ultimate, this entire election should be delayed a week, a month, two months, a year--however long it takes to "get everything back to normal again".  When these requests are denied, the lawsuits will begin, followed by the requests for injunctions, the appeals, requests for further injunctions, etc, etc, etc.

Of course, when Election Day itself comes, we will be subjected to the endless stories of the handful of people who "didn't get to vote" because they don't have a house, or a car, or the subway wasn't running that day, or their polling place was damaged and they didn't know where the new location was, or the ballot machines were damaged and nobody got to vote in their neighborhood, or Tuesday was the only day they could meet with the insurance guy or the FEMA guy or the contractor.

And if President Obama loses--because let's be honest here, Sandy hit a lot of "Blue States"--historians will rush to their computers to chronicle how the Election of 2012 was decided not by ideas or values or concerns about crushing Federal Deficits and creation of a Nanny State--but rather by a natural disaster that kept people away from the polls.  If Mitt Romney loses, well that was just the will of the people.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good For The Game

If ESPN can break away from its 24/7/365 coverage of the NFL for a few minutes today, I look forward to their talking heads trying to explain how the San Francisco Giants won the World Series (their second titel in three years, I would point out)--and how they swept the Detroit Tigers in four straight.  Heading into the Series, those "experts" were positive that Detroit would hit too many home runs and score too many runs for the puny Giants to compete.  I mean, the G-men hit the fewest home runs in the Majors this year--how could they possibly even win one game against Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder?

Well not only did the Giants compete with those guys--they dominated them.  And they did it by turning the game back to what it was before the Steroid Era.  San Francisco won the title through a good old-fashioned combination of great pitching and solid defense--with a lot of timely hitting (not necessarily home run hitting) thrown in.

The final few innings of Game Four were a perfect microcosm for the entire series.  I was never more confident that the Giants were going to win than when it became a battle of the bullpens--as San Fran's relievers had dominated Tigers hitters and the Detroit 'pen had been far less dominating.  And the winning run in the tenth was scored on a single, a bunt and another two-out single--a concept that has been lost on managers and fans in this era of "sit back and wait for the three run homer".  And how many times did Giants fielders turn double plays to snuff out rallies or make great running or diving catches in the outfield to save runs?

Actually, I don't need to tune in to ESPN to know what is going to be said about the Giants win.  First, there will be nothing but blame heaped on the Detroit hitters.  "They were terrible", "What a bunch of chokers", "Prince Fielder is awful in the clutch" will be the first things out of their mouths.  And then that will be followed by my absolute least favorite "analysis": "The Giants are just too boring."  There will be headlines for a week: World Series Generates Worst TV Ratings Ever--and much ado about how baseball is "dying" and we need to find a way to recapture the "excitement of the steroid era" to "save the game".

As far as I'm concerned, you can save the score-a-second, illegal-to-play-defense, fantasy-sports-is-the-only-important-thing-to-fans stuff for the NFL.  Those of us who actually appreciate sports for what it should be--a balance of offense and defense--and who don't need to watch lumbering 250-pound guys swinging for the fences on every pitch will enjoy a return to the "real game" for awhile.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Price of Peace....And Short-Sighted Economic Decisions

One of the perks of social media is being able to track the random thoughts and musings of those on the left here in Northeast Wisconsin.  Predictably, yesterday's timelines were filled with comments that the Oshkosh Corporation was trying to "scare" its employees into voting against President Obama--because they claim he is "going to cost them their jobs".  The 450-layoffs announced by the company yesterday are due in large part to projected defense spending cuts in 2013 and beyond.

Peace (even if it comes only from withdrawal before Afghanistan is secure and stable) is always an honorable goal.  But it creates a conundrum for communities and companies that rely on the business of war.  Nobody wants American soldiers in harm's way.  But when you make the vehicles or the aircraft that take them there, your livelihood kind of depends on it.  Call the layoffs at the Oshkosh Corporation the "Price of Peace".

As you may recall from your high school macro-economics courses, governments face the choice of "guns or butter" when it comes to allocation of resources (unless you can rack up $16-dollars in debt--then you can have all the guns and butter you want, apparently). Unfortunately for Oshkosh Corp. the demand for its "butter" is down as well.

The EuroZone market--a target of Oshkosh growth in the "Old Economy"--is dead.  Thanks to decades of overspending and overtaxation, European governments have no ability to pay for the the new construction equipment or garbage trucks that Oshkosh civilian units could build instead of military trucks.  And thanks to President Obama's insistence that the "Stimulus" target only "shovel-ready", union contractor projects--instead of a long-term infrastructure focus--the civilian market for concrete placement and access equipment also remains stagnant.  Throw in continued tight credit markets and limited investment interest--and the private construction market is soft as well.

So what advice should we give those about to lose their jobs at Oshkosh?  Well, to paraphrase the friend of Benjamin Braddock's father in The Graduate, I've got two words for you: "Health Care".  Since that seems to be the obsession of those on the left, health care is the only growth industry on the horizon.  So perhaps welders could be "retrained" to do build hospital beds--there are going to be plenty of Baby Boomers to fill them in a few years.  Electrical systems guys could move over to the Hover Round plant--since Medicare pays for those--and anyone who has the slightest difficulty walking is already using them at the grocery store.  And everybody else can get jobs pushing papers at hospitals and clinics as all of those people who are now "guaranteed access" to health care make full use of their fellow insurance customers' premiums--and then some.

I'd suggest Oshkosh look to China for growth--but it's an election year and China is a dirty word.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

True To Form

It was going to be a "feel good story:  The Oaklawn Elementary School Construction Project Comes in Three-Million Dollars Under Budget!"  Taxpayers who finally allowed the District to move forward on rebuilding the saddest excuse for a school in the city are rewarded with having to spend less than everyone expected.  Theeeennnnnnn the Oshkosh School Board stepped in.

Last night, the Board approved $2.1-Million in "upgrades and additions" to the Oaklawn Project.  Not all of the additions are that questionable.  Thermal fused flush doors sound like they would increase the energy efficiency of the building--and save on heating bills.  A climbing wall is place at several other schools around the District and have the double impact of not only teaching kids a sport they can enjoy for most of their lives--but also builds their confidence by overcoming fears and meeting new challenges.  Ipad docking stations will be needed as we move further into the "textbook free" future of education.  And moveable walls allow greater flexability in class sizes and room arrangements.

But of course, there are some additions that just make you scratch your heads.  Take for instance installation of a solar hot water heating system.  The school year covers the shortest days of the year--meaning less solar energy generation than during the summer, when kids aren't in the building.  I'll give the Board the benefit of the doubt here--since elementary school children don't shower after gym class or sports events--hot water usage is probably much less than at older grade levels.  Besides, it's important to them to be able to brag about how "green" their buildings are.

Then you have installation of Terrazzo flooring in the building.  When you consider that the main "clientele" are still struggling to control all of their bodily functions--I hope VOBAN doesn't ruin the finish on Terrazo floors.

But the biggest puzzler is the construction of a Cyber Cafe at Oaklawn.  Isn't this the generation of kids that spend too much time on the internet and watching TV and playing video games?  So we are going to give them an area AT SCHOOL to sit on the internet?  Makes sense to me.

I guess we should consider ourselves luckier than taxpayers in districts like Howard-Suamico--where the school board used referendum money to build a SOLARIUM  at the replacement for my old school, Bay Port.  Or those in the Wausau School District--who had to pay for a PLANETARIUM at West High School.  But I can't help feeling like the parent who gives twenty bucks to his 12-year old to "see a movie"--only to find out they went to the arcade and McDonalds on the way home.  "You didn't tell me you wanted change" they always say.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Better Early Than Never, I Guess

I have voted absentee once in my entire life.  It was the February non-partisan primary in 2005.  My wife and I were going to be in Hawaii for our honeymoon on Election Day, so I went down to City Hall and cast an in-person absentee ballot right before we left.  Every other election since I've turned 18, I have voted at the polls on the designated Election Day.  Sometimes I've had to wait in long lines--sometimes I was able to just pick up a ballot and vote in just a few minutes.  But save for that one instance--always on Election Day--an not by absentee.

Notice that I said "absentee" voting--not "early" voting.  It gets my goat when other media refers to absentee voting as "early" voting.  You aren't given an "early" ballot--you are given an "absentee" ballot.  But somewhere in recent years, somebody in one of the political parties realized that if you call it "early" voting instead of absentee voting--people will be more likely to do it.  You hear "absentee ballot" and you likely think "Oh, I'll be in town on Election Day, so I'll just vote then."  But you hear "early voting" and you think "Hey, I can get my vote in before everyone else's and my guy will be ahead!"  As if ballots cast before Election Day carry some kind of added value.  (Or perhaps, you think you might be able to sneak in a second ballot on Election Day--even though Democrats swear that never, ever, never, ever, never, ever happens)  Ironically, absentee ballots are actually the last ones counted--as they are usually fed into the machines when poll workers finally have enough time on Election Day.

And I certainly don't understand why people would camp out to cast an absentee ballot on the first day.  Yes, there were people who put up the tents and slept out on the sidewalk in front of city halls across Wisconsin on Monday.  Perhaps they thought the Clerk was going to run out of ballots if they weren't there at 8:00 AM on Day One.  The only thing worth doing that for is front row tickets to a U2 concert--not to vote for Barrack Obama or Mitt Romney.  Plus, I'd be willing to bet that those "early" voters send in their mortgage and utility payments on the last day possible (or in the case of Democrats, 29-days after it was due--right before they get hit with the late fee.)

What I find most ironic, is that those who "vote early" are most likely to vote on Election Day anyway.  The big push to get absentee ballots in the box as soon as possible has not led to any increase in voter participation.  It has merely spread out the action over a longer period of time--a maneuver that ends up costing taxpayers more, because clerks have to staff their counters (and in the case of the City of Oshkosh, the Convention Center) at higher levels for three weeks--in addition to the full stafffing of polling places on Election Day.

Despite my distaste for the "early voting" crowd, I do have more respect for them than the 50% who don't bother to vote at any time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Shoes To Fill

Monday was certainly a hectic one in the Newsroom.  You had former State Senator Randy Hopper arrested again, the first performance report cards for Oshkosh Schools, and Rod Hightower resigning as the President and CEO of the EAA--all within a few hours of each other.  But the story that will likely have the biggest and longest lasting impact on Oshkosh is the resignation of Eileen Connolly-Keesler as President and CEO of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

I've been here in Oshkosh for 12-years now--and every major improvement in Oshkosh (outside of the Highway 41 expansion) featured Eileen in the middle of it.  The Red Arrow Skate Park, the Leach Amphitheater, the Pollock Community Waterpark, the roof repairs at the Grand Opera House and even the renovation of the City Center Hotel all came about through the efforts of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

And there were smaller things as well.  Permanent endowments for the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Center and the relocation of the Oshkosh Community Pantry into the old Copps store on Jackson Street--both featuring the fingerprints of Eileen Connolly-Keesler.  Along with dozens of other smaller community projects, scholarships and lifestyle enhancements.

Ask anyone who has donated to one of those projects and they will tell you that Eileen was tenacious in her efforts to make things happen.  It's easy to say "I think we should have a Waterpark" or "I think we should have a riverfront amphitheater"--but it's not so easy to sell that idea to those who can fund such projects--and Eileen was one of those people who knew how to sell.  Maybe that is why the folks in Naples, Florida want her to work for them.  If you've ever been to that area, you know there is a whole heck of a lot more money to fund projects and endowments than there is around here.

So the question becomes, who fills those very large shoes?  Who comes in and is immediately able to twist some arms--without causing pain and always with a smile?  Because plenty of challenges still remain.  The hotel project is still looking for five million dollars in private funding.  Oshkosh schools are trying to get an endowment program off the ground that could provide greater access to technology in the classroom and continued funding to extracurricular programs like band, drama and sports. 

So Oshkosh will miss Eileen when she leaves next month.  Hopefully, we don't end up missing her too much.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Acountabilty Cuts Both Ways

I'm disappointed more of my fellow fiscal conservatives aren't joining in the criticism of the Walker Administration for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's mishandling of loans given out to businesses.  Somehow, nobody ever bothered to track $8-million worth of outstanding loans when the program was transferred from the former Department of Commerce to the WEDC.  What disappoints me is that we expect accountability from every use of government tax dollars--but this snafu seems to escape the same kind of scorn.

I'm pretty sure that if $8-million worth of food stamps had gone missing, there would be calls from every Republican for additional audits, the immediate firing of everyone in that department, new laws to punish those who benefited and proposed cuts to the program because obviously it is rife with fraud and waste.  The same goes for misappropriated child care funding, Medicaid payments and unemployment benefits.  I would hope that because the beneficiaries of the WEDC's lack of oversight were business owners and entrepreneurs, that it's somehow "Okay" to just let the problem slide.  Wasted taxpayer money holds the same value if its going into a failed start up as it does if its going to build a swindler's mansion with an indoor pool and basketball court.

What's more, the WEDC has failed to comply with a STATE LAW requiring it to track the use of such loans and grants--and to account for the number of new jobs created or old jobs retained--by the use of that money.  As the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group pointed out last week, just two reports are included on the new "accountability" website of the 249 companies that got grants, loans and job creation tax credits.  That should lead everyone to wonder, what's up with the other 247?  Are we to assume that they are NOT producing the new jobs that were promised?  And if they aren't--just level with us on that--instead of trying to hide the facts behind spin and happy-face press releases.

The WEDC was hailed as a great example of the private and public sector working together to build the state's economy.  No longer would career bureaucrats push around mounds of paperwork, applications and permits before determining what businesses would qualify for loans and credits.  The state would also be "more responsive to the changing economic landscape".  Which makes this failure of accountability all the more frustrating--because these aren't career public employees who don't understand the value of tax dollars, these were supposed to be private sector leaders--with experience in keeping track of money and holding people accountable for the way that money is spent.

Obviously, CEO Paul Jadin was in over his head on this job--and he resigned before there were too many calls for his hide.  Let's hope the Walker Administration picks someone better suited to the position--and who will run it like a real corporation--and not just another branch of government hemorrhaging our money.

Friday, October 19, 2012

False Idols

Unlike millions of Americans, I'm not struggling with what to do with my Livestrong bracelet.  You see, I never owned one.  Even when the yellow wristbands were everywhere--on athletes, on celebrities, on both of the Presidential candidates in 2008--I held off on jumping on the bandwagon.  I just couldn't bring myself to endorse Lance Armstrong.

For some reason, I've always had nagging suspicions that what Armstrong achieved in cycling was not on the up-and-up.  The fact that cycling is third only to pro wrestling and professional bodybuilding in terms of steroid abuse was one reason.  Add to that, that Armstrong was a middle of the pack racer in the Tours de France in which he competed before he contracted testicular cancer.  How did he come back from the brink of death to suddenly become the greatest biker in the history of the sport?  Maybe it's the skeptic in me that didn't get caught up in the hoopla and the Nike commercials--where Armstrong was able to look into the camera and flat out lie about how all of the detractors claiming illegal doping were lying.

For me, the strongest voice of reason was the first American to win the Tour de France--Greg LeMond.  LeMond was always suspicious of Armstrong's achievements--saying there was no way Lance could come back that quickly--and become that dominant without 'roiding or blood switching or any of the other shortcuts he used.  "Team Livestrong" as I like to call them, did all they could to disparage LeMond--characterizing him as a bitter old man who was just jealous of Armstrong and who didn't want to be usurped as the "Greatest American Cyclist Ever".  Now, LeMond is fully justified--and his position as "America's Best" has been restored.  (I wish that Hank Aaron had been as adamant about cheating in the sport when Barry Bonds was breaking his home run record.  Although, no one considers Bonds the legitimate Home Run King anyway.)

I get a kick out of all the apologists now trying to justify their previous support of Armstrong.  "He's done so much for cancer victims!" and "He's an inspiration to millions!" they cry.  But let's be honest, if Lance had finished a career-best 15th in the Tour de France--does Livestrong and the Nike ads and the books ever happen?  Probably not.

So go ahead and toss that yellow bracelet in the garbage now that you are too ashamed to wear it.  As we learned with the downfall of Joe Paterno last year, idols usually have feet of clay.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Chance

Dear Roundy's Corporation,

I'd just like you to know that I will no longer be playing your Monopoly game.  Every year you draw me in with promises of a chance to win a Dream Home, Harley Davidson Motorcycles and cold hard cash.  However, it turns out that you have no interest in actually giving away any of those prizes.  How else to explain no one winning the top prizes in your contest for the last two years?

Actually, I can explain how nobody wins--using Paul Ryan's best friend: basic math.

You print a reported 1.5 million game pieces for distribution in your stores.  Of those, there is one winning ticket for the house, two for the bikes and a couple for the big cash.  OK, a one in 1.5 million chance of winning is acceptable--certainly better than winning that amount in Powerball.  But where you guarantee that no one is going to win is by making another of the necessary pieces nearly as rare.  That moves the odds of a winner collecting both from 1.5 million to 575-BILLION to one!  To put that into perspective, Your odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball is 1 in 157-million--or about 3,662-times more likely than winning your contest.  You are more likely to get hit by lightning 10-TIMES IN A SINGLE YEAR than you are of winning the Roundy's Monopoly game. 

What I also find "interesting" is that my wife and I keep getting the same 8 or 12 pieces at the stores here in Oshkosh--while my parents in Eagle River get a different set of 8 or 12 pieces at their store up there.  And even when we pool our pieces--we still don't get close to winning anything.  It almost makes you think you have to shop regularly at every one of your stores to get a chance at landing a few different pieces.

Your response is classic "legalese"--pointing out that your responsibility is only to hand out all of the printed tickets within the contest period.  And that the rules printing in size 1 font point out that not all prizes will be claimed.  But just one-third--all of them smaller prizes--in two years of game play?  Why even bother? 

So the next time you roll out this contest, don't bother having the cashiers ask me if I want my pieces.  It's obviously not worth our time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

L'avenir Appartient au Stupide

My thanks to "My Two Cents" fan Barton Pritzl for providing me with the story that inspires today's feature:

Children in France are on the edge of their seats with excitement, as their President--Francois Hollande--unveils his new education reform platform--and it includes a ban on homework.  Yes, French kids could be freed from the scourge of childhood--having to do math problems, book reports or science assignments before plopping down in front of the TV for six hours.

And why does Hollande want to ban homework?  Not because French students are already in school eight hours a day (8:30 to 4:30) four days a week.  Not because kids are getting back injuries hauling all of their textbooks home every night.  Not because seven year olds can vote in France.  No, he believes homework is unfair to low-income kids.  You see, the generally-held belief is that children from upper-class families (The Bourgeois) get help from their parents at night--while kids from working-class families (The Proletariat) are on their own to figure things out.

(Wait a minute, I thought the Social Democracy of France had eliminated the "lower-class".  They have high tax rates on the rich, health care for everyone, government subsidies for everything and everyone--not to mention renewable energy and high-speed rail.  How can their still be low-income families?)

President Hollande is even quoted as saying “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,”

And there you have the roots of the liberal belief on education.  "Don't try to teach your kids anything at home.  We are the experts here.  Trust us to teach your kids what they really need to know--like the Founding Fathers were rich bigots, polar bears will die if you drive a gas-powered car, and if you want to have sex at the age of 12, we will give you the condoms and the 'morning after' pills without you having to tell your parents."

What's more, homework is as much about additional learning as it is about learning to handle responsibility.  I don't remember my college professors telling us to do all of our reading and assignments during class hours only.  No wonder freshman failure rates are so high in college today.

And believe it or not, a lot of us adults have to do work at home.  I remember my father getting phone calls throughout the night to deal with computer issues at the office--or logging onto the internet to fix problems from home.  Both my wife and I have spent hours catching up on stuff that we couldn't get done during the regular work day.  (Of course, this may be why we aren't "economically disadvantaged")

So while kids may rejoice at the idea of getting an extra hour or two of video game playing time after school, parents should be concerned about this "no homework" idea--because the only thing we'll be teaching them is that personal accountability is somehow inherently "unfair".

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Way to Debate

My least favorite debate format is coming up tonight:  The Town Hall Debate.

I get the idea behind the format, "empower" voters by allowing them to ask the questions--and allow voters to see the candidates in a "more natural" setting--not the stiff, standing-behind-a-podium-or-sitting-at-a-desk-style debate that seemed to work just fine for decades. 

First off, these "voter questions" aren't the impromptu queries they would appear to be.  All of the questioners tonight will have been pre-selected--to ensure that someone doesn't get up there and ask Mitt Romney if he really believes that Joseph Smith read the Word of God off of gold plates through his hat--or if President Obama really believes that he was born in the US.  The questions will also be worded in such a way to appear as "non-partisan" as possible--like the person asking has no political slant at all and is the elusive "undecided voter" that policticians really believe exists.

Secondly, how often have you engaged in a quality conversation with someone--while they wander around a big room?  The most memorable moments from these town hall debates haven't been great statements on public policy that elevate the discussion--or even a zinger that puts one candidate on the defensive for days after.  All we remember is how the candidates wander around aimlessly and look totally uncomfortable sitting on chairs that are a little bit too short for them--or a little bit too tall.  Remember when George HW Bush kept looking at his watch in 1992?  Or how Al Gore decided he was going to stand right next to W in 2000?  And how John McCain looked like a guy trying to find BBQ Kettle Chips at the Mega-Supermarket most of the night in 2008?  If you didn't see those moments live, you certainly saw the Saturday Night Live skits mocking them a week later.

And if you were one of the candidates, would you want to spend the whole night looking at the back of your opponent's head as he answers questions--and you try not to block his camera shot?  Do you follow him around the room like a puppy?  Do you stand as far away as possible--and hope you hear and understand everything he says?  When should you sit?  When should you stand?  If I walk, where should I go?  And at what speed?  Why don't we just let the candidates concentrate on their talking points and the facts--rathen then how "casual" they look.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Get on the Government Subsidized Peace Train

You've got to hand it to the Nobel Peace Prize committee--they just keep coming up with ways to top themselves.  Granted, the Peace Prize has "jumped the shark" so many times it ceased to be a serious honor decades ago (The award to long-time terrorist Yasser Arafat for no longer openly advocating blowing up Isrealis--and President Obama for, uh, um, talking about closing Guantanamo Bay?  Or was it talking about ending the war in Afghanistan? I have to admit we are all still a little confused on that--pretty much sealed the fate of any seriousness tied to the Prize)  (Editor's note:  I was going to include Neville Chamberlain on this list--but he apparently won his Peace Prize as part of a group that negotiated a treaty in the 1920's--before he signed away a quarter of Europe to Hitler--and still sowed the seeds for World War II with his appeasement strategy in 1939.)

Apparently hard up for people or groups working toward actual peace, the Nobel Committee awarded this year's prize to the European Union.  They cited the Union's work in "creating peace on the previously war-torn continent" and "fostering collective economic growth among member nations."

The Prize apparently is based on past performance--and has nothing to do with what the EU has done in say the last 5-years or so.  On the "economic growth" front, half the EU countries have spent themselves into nearly irreversible fiscal crises.  I'm sure the 25% of Greeks who are currently unemployed will be glad to hear that their leaders are being honored for the "good work" they have done.  And the Spaniards looking at billions of euros in additional taxes to bail out their entire banking system will all shout "Ole" in unison in hearing that news as well.  Crushing deficits in Ireland and Portugal are examples of some fine economic guidance too.

And as far as the "Peace" element of the Peace Prize goes...I'll grant you there haven't been any major wars on the Continent for two generations now--but the seeds of yet another major conflict are always there--ready to germinate.  The fact that all of the lazy Southern European countries owe so much cash to the harder working, penny pinching Northern European countries is already building discontent and mistrust between the nations.  (Think of it as the same response fiscal conservatives had to President Obama's attempts to "redistribute wealth".) German Chancellor Angela Merkel is portrayed as a Nazi in many countries--all because she doesn't think people should retire with full government benefits at 52--and that maybe you should have factories that don't shut down for a month at a time so people can all go to the beach.  I'm also guessing that the austerity and immigration riots in Greece, Spain and France won't be included in the "highlight" video when the EU oficials come to claim the prize.

So enjoy that Nobel Prize, European Union.  Those of us grounded in reality look forward to the day we no longer celebrate your doomed "social experiment".

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Not Your Fault, Aaron

I spend a lot of time here criticizing those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and their resulting lot in life.  But what I find just as disingenuous is when people take blame for stuff that is not their fault.  And that is the case with this week's comments from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

On his weekly Milwaukee radio show, Rodgers says the team's 2-3 start is his fault--and that he needs to play better.  While his numbers aren't as gaudy as they were at this same point last season, Aaron Rodgers would be the LAST person I would blame for the Packers slow start.

Is Aaron the guy who REFUSES to call running plays?  Does Aaron block for himself when he drops back to pass?  Can Aaron not only throw passes to Jermichael Finley but catch them for the tight end as well?  Should Rodgers play both ways and get pressure on the opposing quarterback, or stuff the run, or cover tight ends and backs in space or guard receivers downfield without being called for interference?  Does Aaron have to take over long-distance field goal kicking?  And should he have served as a replacement ref for the first three weeks of the season?

To "play better" does A-Rod mean he will lay hands upon Greg Jennings groin and heal it so that he can return to the field?  Will he do the same to Cedric Benson's foot, and Finley's shoulder, and BJ Raji's ankle?

Knowing the locker room culture of professional sports, Aaron was actually firing a shot at everyone else around him by taking far more of the blame than necessary.  But will the message hit home with his teammates and coaches?

Will Mike McCarthy finally make good on his seven year promise of "finding balance" in the offense with his play-calling?  You know what might make play-action pass plays more effective is actually running the ball consistantly to make the d-line and the linebackers actually have to think about defending the run.  That would help the o-line quite a bit as well.

Will Jermichael Finley work on making the easy catches, instead of having his agent rip Rodgers' leadership ability on Twitter and patting himself on the back for the four receptions he had in traffic and pretending the three drops never happened?  Will Clay Matthews make a tackle on a rushing play--or will AJ Hawk actually cover a tight end or a running back in the flat?  Will Mason Crosby make a clutch kick?  And will the NFL assign an officiating crew that actually knows what it is doing to the Packers games?

So don't be so hard on yourself Aaron.  It is most certainly NOT your fault that your team faces a must-win game in Houston this weekend. 

Oh, and say "Hi" to our old friend JJ Watt--you'll be seeing plenty of him Sunday night.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Masters of Your Money

Do you ever wonder how Washington lawmakers can sleep at night knowing they have put the country $14-TRILLION in debt?  You might want to check out the latest Washington Post report on the wealth of Congressional members.

Wisconsin's delegation is actually doing pretty well.  Congressman Tom Petri is 25th richest in Washington--with a net wealth of $28-million--and Senator Herb Kohl is at number 6--with a net wealth of $174-million.  The top of the list is very non-partisan (there goes that theory about the Evil Rich all being Republican).  Nancy (Quit Your Job To Become A Musician--Taxpayers Will Cover Your Health Care) Pelosi and John (Pass The Ketchup Dear) Kerry are in the top ten for riches.

But what is most telling is what is going on at the bottom of the list.  More than 20-members of Congress have a NEGATIVE net worth--meaning they owe more than they own.  Wisconsin is represented in this list as well--as Republican Congressman Sean Duffy is 6th poorest in Washington, with a net wealth of NEGATIVE $167-thousand (so much for that theory about all Republicans being Evil Rich Guys).  Democratic Party Chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is among those in the red (maybe that's why she was such a perfect spokesperson for the current economic 'plan').  Texas Democrat Ruben Hinojosa even declared bankruptcy while serving in Congress. 

And at the bottom of the list is Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings--whose net worth is NEGATIVE $4-MILLION!  In the WaPo article Hastings shows his business acumen by saying "I wish I could hit the lottery so I could pay them all."  If I was living in Hastings' district, I would rather hear my lawmaker says "I should probably get to work and pay off my debts--since being a Congressman obviously doesn't allow me to do that."

So, if those we send to Washington can't get their financial act together at home--why would we expect them to keep the nation's finances in order when they get in the Capitol?

And be sure to check out the accompanying stories to this article about how Congresspeople benefit financially from the laws they pass--very eye-opening as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Governing to the Minority

Before we start, I have a "My Two Cents" correction to make.  Earlier this week I stated that Elmo from Sesame Street is a Billionaire.  It turns out that the Sesame Workshop (the company that produces the children's show) reported a net worth of 356-million dollars to the IRS last year.  That means I was right on Big Bird being a multi-millionaire (and richer that Mitt Romney--250-million dollar net worth)--but Elmo is not a Billionaire.  So obviously he deserves a taxpayer subsidy to air his TV show.  "My Two Cents" apologizes for the error.

Now on to today's topic..............

Minorities sure are expensive.  I'm not talking about African-Americans, left-handers or atheists.  I'm talking about the minorities who are the beneificiaries of so many government programs.  To get you ready for Paul Ryan and the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow night, let's look at some numbers.

The 18% of Americans on Social Security cost us $680-Billion a year.

The 14% of Americans on Medicare cost us $509-Billion a year.

The 16% of Americans on Medicaid cost us $389-Billion a year.

The 8% of Americans on Unemployment Insurance cost us $77-Billion a year.

The 14% of Americans on Food Stamps cost us $76-Billion a year.

The less than 1% of Americans who are retired auto workers and who didn't have to take pension cuts as part of the automotive bailout will cost us $25-Billion in non-repaid loans to Chrysler and GM.

And the 27% of Americans who do not have private health insurance--necessitating the "Affordable" Care Act will end up costing us a minimum of $1-Trillion.

I'd go on--but limited broadcast time requires me to wrap this up.

Fiscal conservatives see the numbers on the right side of the column and realize how we got into this financial mess as a country.  Liberals see the numbers on the left side of the column and realize adding them together gives you a large enough voting bloc to stay in power for a very long time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Other "Bullies"

All's well that ends well.  That's what they always say.  And apparently, that is the case with the controversy over the "overweight TV anchor" in La Crosse.  Jennifer Livingston became a national sensation for publicly embarassing the viewer that wondered why she wasn't losing weight to serve as a "good example to young people watching".  She called the man a "bully"--and encouraged overweight kids to feel good about the way they are and don't let people judge their worth by the way they look on the outside.  Kenneth Krause (no relation) initially stood by his e-mail--but then offered an apology after being hounded by national media reporters.  Livingston says she has accepted the apology and has put the matter behind her.

So what lesson have we learned here?  Don't criticize someone with a TV tower located behind their office--and peers with lots of TV towers and satellites at their disposal as well?  Definitely.  But we are also supposed to learn that overweight people are just fine the way they are--and telling them to lose weight is "bullying".  So now that we've brow-beaten Kenneth Krause, let's get to work on some of the other "bullies" terrorizing our kids.

We can start with the cafeteria Lunch Ladies who are refusing to give our kids as much food as they want to eat at school--because they are saying "IF YOU EAT TOO MUCH YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!"

And then we can set our sites on the school dieticians who won't let kids have things they've had for lunch for decades--like pizza and chicken nuggets--because "IF YOU EAT THOSE THINGS YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!"

And then we should target the school boards that ban soda machines and sugary sports drinks from their schools because "IF YOU DRINK THOSE YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!!"

And don't forget the school administrators that require students to walk around the building until classes start--and again before they play with their friends during "active recess"--because "IF YOU DON'T EXERCISE YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!!"

Then we can move out of the schools to target the San Francisco City Council--which bans McDonald's from putting toys in Happy Meals at McDonald's because "IF YOU EAT THERE YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!!!!!"

Oh, and we certainly need to beat up New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg--who won't let people buy extra-large sodas because "IF YOU DRINK THOSE YOU ARE GOING TO GET FAT!!!!"

If time permits, we can move on to Spin Class instructors, the trainers on the "Biggest Loser", and Richard Simmons in our "Anti-Bullying" Campaign as well.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Theory of a Deadhead

The late Christopher Hitchens once called conspiracy theories "the exhaust fumes of democracy".  He was talking about the large amount of information circulating in the free society, overwhelming the people and leaving them in a near drunken stupor--willing to believe anything.  How else to explain the ever-growing list of conspiracy theories that pop up on an almost daily basis, gain legs on the internet and the social media world and soon become widely-held beliefs?

There's the 9/11 conspiracy that President Bush staged the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in order to start a war in Afghanistan and Iraq--and to consolidate his power and that of the Federal Government.  All while lining the pockets of major defense contractors and Haliburton.  What always amazes me is how the Bush administration was able to recruit so many Al Queda members to take part in a suicide mission, how all of the explosives were brought into the Twin Towers without anyone ever noticing and that not a single person who knew about the plan at no point ever said "This is insane and we need to alert the American public!"

And then there are the "birthers"--who after four years still fervently believe that President Obama wasn't born in this country.  Do they honestly believe that the Republican National Committee didn't have 100 people looking into the validity of the Hawaiian birth certificate?  That hospital records weren't pored over?  That any nurse working at that hospital wasn't questioned--all before the 2008 election?

And now we have the "Unemployment Numbers are Rigged by the Obama Campaign" theory.  Everybody knew there was going to be an "October Surprise" in the Presidential race--and the first real drop in jobless numbers in Obama's entire term may be that surprise.  But do you really think that the Re-Election Campaign called over the Bureau of Labor Statistics and said "Hey, can you make those September numbers something less than 8--so Mitt Romney can't keep running that ad about 'Unemployment above 8% for 42-months' please?"  If the White House had the power to fudge the numbers--wouldn't they have started it around mid-term--so they could say "The stimulus is working!!"  or "Wow, look at how our green energy initiatives are really turning things around!  Thank you Solyndra!!"

As I pointed out in the Wisconsin recall race, when Governor Walker decided that the numbers used by everybody for decades suddenly weren't "accurate enough" right before Election Day, these are the figures both sides have made political hay with forever.  The computations are done the same way--and if you think they are flawed now because they "help" President Obama--then you should have thought the numbers were flawed when they helped Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush in the past.

Besides, any economist execpt Paul Krugman would tell you the REAL unemployment rate is the U-6 numbers (including those who gave up looking for work and who are working at part-time gigs instead of full-time jobs) is still 14.7%.  Unless you think there is a conspiracy of business owners and corporate executives who aren't hiring anyone because they want President Obama to lose--and then they will all of a sudden throw open the factory doors again and start producing at 1995 levels again?  Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Big Bird, The 1%er

Now that we've all had our laughs over Fired Big Bird on Twitter and Facebook, can we have a serious discussion about government subsidaztion of broadcast television?  Everyone seems fixated on Mitt Romney's proposal to end funding for Public Television (and it's sister outlet, National Public Radio), presumably to deflect attention from the general beat-down the challenger delivered to President Obama Wednesday night.  "Mitt wants to fire Big Bird!!" was what you heard from the Left and the late night comedians--while the snarks on social media followed suit.

But what everyone seems to forget is, Big Bird is a millionaire.  And his little buddy Elmo is a billionaire.  Having a niece and a nephew that are both under the age of three, my wife and I have reason to be in the toy department on occasion--and the characters of Sesame Street are everywhere.  They have their dolls, their games, their sing-along toys, their pajamas, their shoes, their hats, their umbrellas, their undwear and even their own diapers.  And don't forget about the multitude of books, videos and CD's.  It's a wonder that Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie don't all have their own TV networks-like Oprah.  (My condolences to parents everywhere if ELMO TV ever does get off the ground).

And it's not like Sesame Street would suddenly be gone from the airwaves forever if PBS closed up shop tomorrow.  I'd bet, there would be at least 20-networks involved in a bidding war to pick up the rights to the show--because they know parents trust the "brand" and the audience for the program will likely never be exhausted.  In fact, 75-percent of the programming currently on public television would be carried on the multitude of networks now available in homes across the country.  You think ESPN would pass up a chance to carry Ken Burns' (another public television millionaire) Baseball?  And History Channel wouldn't immediately scoop up The Civil War, The National Parks and Jazz--along with any other documentary idea he has for the future?  Those Nature documentaries would be perfect for Discovery Channel or Animal Planet.  And Downton Abbey would fit in nicely on BBC America or A & E or Lifetime.

Those who act all horrified that such "quality programming" would sullied by commerical interruption apparently hasn't watched PBS lately.  You see, they have been running ads for years now--adjacent to the program being sponsored--rather than during the show itself.

PBS (and NPR)--like the Postal Service and AMTRAK--are relics of a different technological age.  A time when there was just three channels available on the TV, and there may have been a need for more "educational" fare.  But--as usually happens in a free market society--the private sector has come up with better, more cost-effective means of delivery of the same product or service (e.g. 500 other networks, podcasting, Youtube and other on-line video services)--while the government-funded option collapses under the weight of its bloated budgets and unresponsive administration.

So I say "Fire Big Bird"--he'll probably do even better somewhere else.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Last NIght Doesn't Matter

Excuse me if I don't join the chorus of conservatives rejoicing in Mitt Romney's "victory" in last night's debate.  You know it was ugly for the President if MSNBC is calling it a "tie"--and their talking heads are blaming moderator Jim Lehrer for the President's poor performance.  But in all reality, last night means nothing.

Sure, Mitt Romney scored points on unsustainable government spending and back-breaking debt--but relatively few voters take a long-view approach to economics--or anything else for that matter.  How else to explain rushing to the store to buy the hot new electronic gadget at 10% savings--then putting it on their credit card to pay 24% interest for two years?  And why do you think so many people tattoo half their bodies and mutilate themselves by putting holes everywhere and stretching their earlobes so they can touch their shoulders?  The attitude of most Americans is "I'll worry about tomorrow next week"--so how does the message of "We can't afford all of this stuff" going to resonate with them?

And if I'm not mistaken, President Obama didn't break down on stage and "unpromise" anything to anyone.  He didn't say "We need fewer people on Food Stamps".  He didn't say "Americans need to take more responsibility for their health care expenses".  And he certainly didn't say "Redistribution of wealth is a proven way to lessen everyone's quality of life".  The 25-year old guy living with his parents, collecting unemployment for a second year and riding on Dad's health insurance plan--or the former New York teacher that quit to get his Masters degree in puppetry only to find out nobody in hiring Master Puppeteers anytime soon didn't hear anything last night that is going to change their minds on who they are voting for next month.

And then you have the incredibly discouraging results from the Marquette Law School poll that finds just 18-percent of likely voters say the debates will have any influence on how they vote.  Forget extended discussions of issues, and the opportunity to expound on plans and provide actual details--the vast majority of us are fine with 60-second attack ads or cute phrases like "Hope and Change" on a free t-shirt to make up our minds in the election.

Besides, last night's debate was slanted against the President--it being about the economy.  The President needed George W Bush there to attack--because we all know that it's his fault that little has changed in four years.  And don't forget, the next debate will be on foreign policy--and President Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to um.....uh......transform attitudes on um......Well whatever he did in those first 100-days, it had to be great.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


We had some "shocking" stories come out locally over the past few days.

In the first "shocker", Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel announced that one-million dollars in revenue from the special half-percent sales tax would be earmarked in the 2013 budget to help fund a new aquatic center in the City of Waupun to replace a pool that had been shut down.  Buechel admits putting money toward the pool may delay some county highway projects that were going to be funded by the sales tax as well.

Did we in the media miss something?  Wasn't the half-percent sales tax in Fond du Lac County supposed to pay for the incentive package offered to Mercury Marine to keep its headquarters and production plants in the area?  Remember how the sales tax was needed to "save" the city and the county from economic destruction as its largest employer was on the brink of leaving?  I can't seem to find in any story (in our archives or anywhere online) where Buechel or county supervisors touted how the sales tax would fund highway improvements--let alone pet projects like a public pool.  (As an aside: I'm sure the highway projects are explained away using President Obama's "You didn't build that" argument that without us building your road, nobody would come to your business.)

Actually, we shouldn't be shocked that a government body found "alternative" ways to spend to spend tax dollars beyond where they were supposed to go in the pitch to residents.  I fully expect similar stories in the future when the Lambeau Field sales tax in Brown County--or the Miller Park tax in the Milwaukee area have paid off their debts--yet they won't go away as promised.

Another "shocker" is that the Grand Opera House is far behind in repaying the City of Oshkosh for the quarter-million dollars it was "loaned" for repairs to its roof a few years ago.  You may recall, the Grand Foundation was confident that a one-dollar surcharge on tickets sold would more than cover the repayment schedule of ten years.  As it turns out, the surcharge isn't even covering HALF of the annual payments.

Now, if it was a private developer that was only paying half of the property taxes promised under a TIF agreement or some revolving loan fund program, certain Common Council members would be calling for workshop sessions and votes on sanctions to publicly humiliate the business person for their slow payment.  But because the Grand is considered to be such an "asset to the community", nobody at City Hall is saying "boo" about this.

Again, I guess we shouldn't be "shocked" by this story.  The whole idea of the Grand kicking in any money for the roof repairs was just a bone thrown to a few Councillors at the time who felt that NO taxpayer money should have been used for the project.  And the offer of a dollar a ticket to pay off the debt was done with a wink and a nod--knowing full well that would not actually cover the promised payments. 

So I guess it's time to put the "Taxpayers Get Screwed Again" headline at the bottom of the website--alongside "Dog Bites Man".  There really is nothing new to report here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Before heading out on our trip to the Ryder Cup last week, I stopped at an area small business to buy a few things I would need for the weekend.  While I was there, a young lady working in the store noticed my WOSH polo shirt and mentioned that she listened to the Dave Ramsey Show every afternoon.  We talked a bit about the show and she said that she is on the "Dave Plan"--but she's been stuck on Baby Step 2 for a while because she's been in the hospital three times in the last couple of years, and she doesn't have health insurance.

Before I could suggest getting a second job to increase her income, she stated--with a proud smile on her face--that she had taken another job, and that she was picking up extra hours at both places to get her Debt Snowball rolling again.  She also talked about a friend who is in a similar situation, and how she was trying to convince her to get on the "Dave Plan" as well. 

We wrapped up the conversation with me talking about the experiences my wife and I have had going through the Total Money Makeover--and how I would have a "hoopdee" car for sale soon, if she or her friend might need a set of cheap wheels in the near future.  I also encouraged her to stick with the plan--because it really does pay off in the end.

As I left the store, I felt a strong sense of pride and inspiration.  I'm proud that our station carries the Dave Ramsey Show--giving hope and direction to people who have gotten themselves in way over their heads--and I'm proud that the message is resonating with listeners.  Every time I hear about a church or the YMCA offering Financial Peace University, it makes me feel good that more families are getting the tools they need to ensure a secure future--not only for themselves--but for their kids, their grandkids and their grandkids' kids.

And I am inspired by the people like the young lady in the store last week.  Did you notice she didn't say "The government should make my boss give me health insurance" or "I don't see why I have to pay those medical bills--the hospitals make plenty of money and the doctors are already rich."  And she didn't tell her friend to just sign up for a bunch of welfare programs because that's the "easy way" to get some money.  No, she is taking responsibility for her lot in life--and she is rolling up her sleeves to make it better.  And I could just tell by the way she talked--and the pride that she felt in having that kind of control over her situation and her future--that she is going to meet those goals.  It may take a while--but I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear her some afternoon here on WOSH telling Dave (and the world) that "I'M DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!"

That should serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lessons Learned

I'm not allowed to handle any sharp objects right now--due to concerns about my personal safety.  But I am still allowed to use a keyboard--so I'll talk a little about the things I learned at the Ryder Cup in Chicago this weekend.

--Scottish men love to wear kilts.  There were plenty of "skirts" on the golf course every day.  And every morning it was cold out there (leading to plenty of jokes about "shrinkage").  But those guys are pround of where they come from--and they are good natured about the comments on hairy legs and "going commando".  I've got a picture of myself with about eight Scots decked out in their formal best on Sunday.  Fortunately, security was confiscating bagpipes at the gates.  That would have just been too much.

--When Europeans drink, they become friendly and rather humorous--while drunk Americans are pretty much just jerks.  There was a reason vendors were out selling beer at the course at 6:30 am--it was afternoon from those that came from the other side of the pond.  But the more they drank, the more the Euros sang and hugged and chanted and talked up us "Yanks".  The more our fellow countrymen drank, the more they shouted obscenities at the European players and the more they shoved those of us along the ropes because OH MY GOD, WE CAN'T SEE TIGER!!!!

--Illinoisians are still the worst drivers in the Midwest.  I lost track of how many times we were nearly sideswiped, cut off or rearended.  And another popular move is to pull up alongside of you on the shoulder and then slowly squeeze you out of your own lane so they can go in front of you, because you know, where they are going is obviously far more important than where you are going.  Maybe it's the sky high toll required to cover Illinois budget-crushing debt that drives the FIBS to drive like that.

--The Ryder Cup means a lot more to Europeans than it does to Americans.  Euro fans, players and caddies live and die with those matches.  There were plenty of Americans who were there just to be there.  Maybe it's the European inferiority complex that makes it such a big deal for them.  Hopefully, President Obama's plan to drag us down to their economic and cultural level will ignite a little fire under us.

--It is time for a changing of the guard on the American team.  Once again it's the "Old Guys" who dragged down the US in defeat.  Steve Stricker scored ZERO points.  Tiger Woods had half-a-point.  Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk blew late leads to give Europe the points they needed to stage an historic come from behind win.  Strcker and Furyk were Captain's Picks for the tournament--because Davis Love III wanted their "leadership".  When you've only led teams to defeat, what kind of leadership are you really providing?  Fortunately, guys like Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner have embraced Ryder Cup--and maybe they will bring a new wave of success.

Oh well, two years to Ryder Cup 2014 in Scotland.