Thursday, January 31, 2013

"You Know, Volkswagen Used To Build Cars For Hitler"

Back in 1984 Eddie Murphy did a skit on Saturday Night Live where he pretended to be a white person--finding out that when blacks aren't around, whites act very differently--giving each other stuff for free, partying and serving drinks on the bus and not requiring collateral or even identification to get loans at the bank.  The skit is still considered one of the funniest things ever aired on SNL--and it cemented Murphy's status as one of the leading "cutting edge comedians" of his era.

Now fast forward to the Super Bowl broadcast of 2013 and the Volkswagen ad featuring a white businessman whose Beetle makes his so happy that he speaks at all times like a care-free, Jamaican Rastafarian.  After a ride in his Bug, the guy's Asian co-worker and his WASP boss adopt the accent as well.

That ad is coming under attack from the liberals at the New York Times and NBC News for being "blatantly racist".  "Blackface with Voices" is how a Times reporter put it. About the only phrase missing from the Today Show segment was "You know, Volkswagen used to make cars for Hilter--so they have a history of racial insensitivitiy here."  It should probably be pointed out here that since NBC isn't broadcasting this year's Super Bowl, they will not be getting a single penny of the EIGHT-MILLION DOLLARS VW is paying CBS to air that aid during the game.  I wonder how many Today Show segments would be dedicated to it if Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were calling the action on Sunday.

Anyway, for you white guys scoring along at home, it is still not okay for us to make jokes about Blacks, Asians, Jamaicans, Muslims, Women, Jews, Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexuals, Transgenders, Short People, The Handicapped, Jehovah's Witnesses, Blondes, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Welfare Recipients or Anyone Who Considers Attempts at Humor to be Bullying in School or the Workplace.  That pretty much leaves Catholic Priests, Mormon Presidential Candidates and Republicans as acceptable targets of humor nowadays.  No wonder everyone is in a bad mood--not enough humor in our society anymore.

Oh, and can someone find Dave Chappelle so we can have something "racially insensitive"--I mean "funny", since he is Black--on TV again?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ray Lewis Is a Bad Man (Literally)

Given the way the sports networks were slurping on Ray Lewis this post-season, reports about possible doping violations were probably not going to be part of the narrative during Super Bowl week.  This was supposed to be a glorious end to a hall of fame career--with Lewis riding off into the sunset with another ring--after coming back from a torn triceps muscle injury that sidelined him for about half the regular season.

With the Ravens not being one of the top seeds in the AFC, I'm sure ESPN, CBS and Fox thought that the Ray Lewis Retirement Tour was just going to be a one or two week thing.  Just show his megalomaniacal pre-game introduction dance, air his nonsensical pre-game "pep talks", rush the field to capture his kneeling at mid-field crying and babbling on the gound, and then let him ramble on in a post-game interview Wild Card Weekend and we should be done.  But then the Ravens beat Indianapolis--so the whole dog and pony show was repeated for another week--with the expectation that Baltimore would certainly lose to Denver.

And it looked like that would be the case--until the Bronco's secondary suffered a collective brain cramp and blew a last-minute lead.  All of a sudden, Ray Lewis was "willing his team to victory!!"  And we had to put up with another week of crying, shouting, dancing and proseltyzing. Then New England choked away another win against the Ravens--and all of a sudden we could look forward to another two weeks of hearing about Ray Lewis' greatness and amazing personal transformation!

Then the "real" Ray Lewis had to show up and ruin the feel good story of the year.  Personally, I didn't even know that deer antler velvet had healing properties in humans--and that it was on the NFL's banned substance list. (You have to go on the assumption that if it's on the list--someone before Ray Lewis had been using it.)  Further ruining the sports media love affair is the re-emergence of the families of the two men killed by Lewis' "posse" in Atlanta during Super Bowl week in 2000, with their accusations that Lewis was never fully honest with investigators--even after murder charges against him were dismissed in a plea deal.  (As Ray would tell you, "Snitches get stitches")

So now Super Bowl pre-game producers are faced with a tough decision: air all of the "We love Ray Lewis" pieces that you know they've spent the past ten days taping and editing--or try to push the "face of this Super Bowl" into the background just in case the doping allegations turn out to be true.  Either way, I would hope that the lesson we all learn is not to glorify bad people.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Victim Mentality Example #8,387,241

Yesterday's announcement that stores can now charge consumers a credit card processing fee was met with the predictable response.  "Big banks are screwing us again!" was a common theme in the Twitter-sphere.  "I'm never shopping anywhere that charges a fee" was also posted quite a bit.  The overnight anchor for ABC even called it "Another blow to consumers".  And we had the obligatory story of shoppers in the local malls saying they would likely buy less if they had to pay the fee.

The thing that everyone seems to have missed here is that a credit card processing fee has been charged for decades.  It's just that until now, retailers weren't allowed to pass that along to the customer.  Instead, stores would just spread the cost across all merchandise they sold--including that purchased by those of us that pay cash or use debit cards.  Yet, as soon as everyone heard about "credit card fee" they jumped right into the "victim mentality" that is pervasive in our society today by reacting "Those greedy banks are screwing us again."

But I want you to ask yourself, why should the credit card companies cover the cost of your purchase and carry your debt for free?  I'll grant you that the Electronic Funds Transfer systems used for nearly all plastic transactions are less labor-intensive than the old paper-based process (remember the old "slider" thing that gave you a carbon copy receipt?)--but there is still some expense to make the transaction happen.

And unlike the fees--I mean "taxes" of ObamaCare--the credit card processing fees are completely avoidable.  We have this thing called "cash" that works just like a credit card--except it carries no fees to use it--and by spending it at the point of sale, you avoid interest payments as well.  We also have debit cards, that are PIN protected and withdraw money directly from your checking account to pay the retailer.  Those transactions are currently exempt from the processing fee (although if that were to change in the future, you can always go back to cash). 

Unfortunately for many Americans, the options I just mentioned are not available to them--because it would require actually having the money to buy something BEFORE you go to the store.  Their money is spent before they even get it--paying for all of the stuff they bought last month, or the month before that, or even a couple of years ago.  For those folks, they will have to consider the most drastic option: STOP SHOPPING FOR NON-ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR A WHILE.

There have actually been some retailers that have rewarded the cash shopper for some time already.  Most notably, the Exclusive Company has always had a "cash price" and a "regular price" on their cd's and stereo equipment.  Some gas stations have also had lower "cash prices"--below that posted on the signs by the street.  And then there are the quaint few stores and restaurants that have NEVER accepted credit cards.  They have been saving all of their customers money by never having to spread out those processing fees to all transactions.

All of this concern is likely for naught, none of the major retailers will add the credit card fee anytime soon--out of fear of losing a competitive edge.  But as we have seen in the airline industry, as soon as one makes the jump and adds the fee, they will all get in the pool.  And then we will have to hear about all those "poor shoppers" that are getting "ripped off" again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Like Finding a Godiva Chocolate in a Manure Pit

You may want to sit down for this one: I have actually found something to like in the Affordable Care Act.  Don't call the police to report an invasion of the body-snatchers.  Don't send an ambulance to treat a man suffering from delusion or insanity.  There is actually some semblance of intelligence in ObamaCare.

I'm talking about the measure included in the law that smokers will have to pay more for their health insurance starting next year.  Apparently one of the things that we "had to pass the bill to find out what's in it" is a 50% surcharge on insurance premiums for long-time tobacco users.  There are two things in this that I like:

1--It treats health insurance like real insurance.  Smokers already pay more for life insurance--because they are a much higher risk to suffer an early death.  Reckless drivers pay more for their auto insurance than those without traffic tickets--because they are a higher risk to have an accident.  Yet for decades, health insurers have not been allowed to charge those that put themselves (and therefore the pool) at risk for huge payouts by routinely engaging in behavior--like smoking--that is going to make you very sick.  What's more, those that have been smoking for years will pay a larger surcharge.  Why should the guy who works out, maintains his weight and doesn't smoke or drink to excess pay the same as the overweight guy who doesn't leave the couch except to get another beer from the fridge all night?  That is the way insurance is supposed to work--as a "bet" on whether your are going to need to claim more than what you pay in each year.  It's not meant to be a subsidy for everyone so that they don't have to pay above X % if their medical bills every year.

2--I don't have to pay for this.  Unlike nearly every other component of the Affordable Care Act, the taxpayer will not have to foot the bill for this extra expense.  In fact, it is written into the language of the bill--the taxpayer-funded subsidies that will account for the vast majority of the payments for the policies sold through the health insurance exchanges CANNOT be used to pay for the smoker surcharge.  Who would believe that we would find this precious nugget of personal responsibility hidden in this giant boondoggle?

The articles detailing the smoker surcharge hint at possible higher insurance rates for the obese in the future--as a means to curb the literal growth of America over the past few decades.  But don't hold your breath waiting for that one.  You see, one in five Americans smoke--but one in three Americans are obese--with more than half of the population being at least somewhat overweight.  And those are percentages that scare even the most liberal of politicians.  It's far easier to sell the idea of 1% or 20% "paying their fair share"--than it is to expect 33% or 55% to literally "carry their own weight".

Friday, January 25, 2013

Leveling the Playing Field?

Having officiated basketball games for the Special Olympics--and having seen Paralympian in action--I can tell you that these programs have done a wonderful job of allowing the handicapped and disabled to participate in--and learn the valuable lessons from--competitive sports.  But, apparently the Obama Administration doesn't think those private organizations are doing a very good job.  How else to explain yesterday's order from Arne Duncan and the US Education Department that public schools must provide co-curricular sports options to disabled students?

The Associated Press article on Thursday's order details a couple of examples of highly-functioning students that have been granted rules modifications in order to compete with "able bodied" students in the past.  A blind wrestler's opponents were required to maintain physical contact with him at all times--since he could not see them if they attempted to elude his grasp.  But at what point are you bending the rules to where true competition is being compromised? 

For the past few seasons, the Menasha Boys Basketball program has had a player with only one fully-functional arm.  He has played within the regular rules of basketball his entire career and has earned the opportunity to play--showcasing the adjustments that he has had to make to compete with his peers.  Under this new order, can he now request that defenders not be allowed to force him to dribble to his disabled side? 

The story also details an Ohio high schooler who "runs" track in a wheelchair.  He has always had to be alone in heats--never allowed to compete head to head with able-bodied runners.  He hopes the order will allow him to "run" with everybody else from now on.  So does that mean that wheelchair-bound children should compete side by side in other sports as well?  Will we have wheelchair basketball players--which is played with different rules on dribbling and defending--on the court with kids that can run and jump?  And will sled hockey players need to be included with regular skaters?

If you are saying "no" to these questions, then you need to come up with a way for already cash-strapped school districts to develop alternative options for kids who want to play these sports.  And, you had better find a way to provide equal access to facilities as well--or you will have lawsuits on your hands.  Ask any of our local athletic directors how hard it is to schedule games and practices for basketball with six boys and girls teams already competing for gym time.

My biggest fear with orders like this from The Government is that primary schools will choose to follow the same path universities and colleges took following the institution of Title IX: if we don't have the money to meet the "equal opportunity" requirement for all sports, then we will just cut men's programs until the women are "equal".  Keep in mind, the definition of 'disabled" has changed drastically in recent years, with the increased diagnoses of various levels of autism in children and Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder. 

This will certainly give meaning to the phrase "It's a whole new ball game."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Difference It Does Make

By now you've heard the line that will likely come to define Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State.  So really what difference does it make if the four Americans killed at the consulate in Benghazi died at the hands of an angry mob or Al Qaeda operatives?  You could say that Secretary Clinton was correct, admission by the Obama Administration that organized Islamic militants were behind the attack did not suddenly bring the four victims back to life.  And if Clinton was testifying in front of a board of inquiry trying to determine the exact manner in which each of the Americans was killed--who was doing it really wouldn't matter.  But Clinton was testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations--which oversees the way the US relates with other countries.  And the "version of the facts" that the Obama Administration chose to parlay to the world about what happened in Benghazi DOES make a HUGE difference.

The position forwarded by the Administration in the immediate hours after the attack--and then for a couple of weeks after that--was a mob of protesters, angered by an obscure internet video posted by an American filmmaker, grew out of control and took out their anger on the consulate--setting fire to the building and killing four of the people inside.  You may recall President Obama in a press conference "apologizing" to the rioting masses across the Muslim world for an American exercising his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression.  While not condoning the attack, the President gave the impression that those who carried it out were "rightly aggrieved" by American actions.  We brought this upon ourselves by failing to be "tolerant" of their religion.

It was only after a few news outlets got wind of what actually happened in Benghazi that we and the rest of the world found out the "offensive video" had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks.  It was trained militants that specifically targeted the consulate and those inside--and the chaos created by the protests provided them with good cover for the attack.  What's more, we would also learn that those with "boots on the ground" in Benghazi had been warning of such an attack for some time--continuing a sad tradition of American leaders ignoring warnings of impending action against their own people.

And so Secretary Clinton, the "difference" is defending the American tradition of bringing freedom, democracy and human rights to all people--versus trying to appease those only interested in "killing in the name of......"  It's pretty tough to defeat an enemy, if you do all you can not to properly identify them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What We Make

I know a number of local public sector employees are vexed that the local newspapers are printing their salaries and benefits for public review.  Perhaps they should keep in mind that these salaries are line items in budgets that are required by law to be open to the public--and that the newspapers are simply doing the work for everyone of going to an office somewhere to see them.  But if it will make you feel any better, here are my compensation numbers--for everyone to see:

Jonathan Krause--WOSH Program/News Director: Salary: $42, 850 Benefits: $2,145.12

In case you are wondering, the salary figure is $150 more than last year--because I did two additional sports broadcasts in 2012 than I did in 2011.  Otherwise, the base salary for this position stayed the same for the FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR.  (That would be why those who complain about going two years with only a "cost of living adjustment" to their salaries don't usually find a sympathetic ear from me.)  And that salary was paid out on a total of 3,016 hours of work for the year.  No overtime for us salaried employees.  (i'd figure out the hourly rate--but I wouldn't want to depress myself.)  And that extra pay I did get required a good bit of driving on cold, showy winter nights to hotspots like Brillion, Hilbert and Seymour--or day trips down to Madison.

Some of you may be saying, "Wait a minute, those benefit numbers are way too low.  You're not counting something!!"  Remember, I am on a High Deductible Health Savings Account Plan that not only saves me money--but my employers as well.  And the $5000 that I would have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses every year means that I make every health care decision very carefully.  It's why I firmly believe that the only way we are going to "fix" health care is to make sure everyone has more "skin in the game".

And in case you are wondering, my employer pays 50% on my health insurance premium, a 30% match on my HSA contributions (which are the maximum allowed by the IRS--wouldn't want a responsible person to put away "too much" for their health care expenses--then we wouldn't need health care reform right?) and a 25% match on my 401(k) contributions. 

So there are my numbers.  Don't feel embarrassed at all by them either.  Not sure why anyone else would be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Song Remains the Same

I'll grant you, I haven't taken a public speaking class in 20 years--but to hear some of the pundits describe President Obama's second Inaugural Address as "soaring rhetoric" has me questioning my understanding of the definition of "soaring rhetoric".  To me, "soaring rhetoric" is "With malice toward none, with charity for all" or "We shall land a man on the Moon in this decade and return him safely to the Earth" or "Mr Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!" 

The term I would use to describe yesterday's speech would be "confusing".  It sounded like the President was going to honor those who built our country into what it is today:  

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

Reading those two lines takes me back to a better time.  A time when people were held accountable for their actions and decisions in life--rather than given handouts to deal with the consequences and told "it's not your fault--someone else is to blame for this."  And the fact that these words were coming from the mouth of someone who has taken extraordinary steps to expand the "victim culture" and the Nanny State actually gave me reason to chuckle.

But then came the real agenda of the second term: more collectivism...

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers didn't say to the early Americans: "Each of you build your own road between cities" or "everybody has to fight the British by themselves".  But I know for a fact that they didn't say "you have to help your neighbor pay for the house that he can't afford" and that Thomas Jefferson didn't just let everybody walk into the classroom at the University of Virginia and get a degree for free.

So while I would love to believe that Americans heard "We are all in this together" yesterday, I fear that "It's still not your fault" is what really hit home.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lefty Shrugged

Fiscal Conservatives have a new sports hero to root for.  On Sunday, golfer Phil Mickelson made cyrptic statements following his final round at the Humana Challenge in Conjunction With the William J Clinton Foundation (how fitting is that?) about having to make "drastic changes in his life" to deal with higher taxes.  Phil lives in California--which has followed the Federal Government's lead in increasing taxes on the rich to deal with crippling budget deficits driven by the expansion of the entitlement system.  By Phil's estimate he will now pay between 62 and 63-percent of his annual income in Federal, State and FICA taxes.

Keep in mind, as independent contractors, pro golfers are responsible for paying 100-percent of their
Social Security and Medicare taxes.  They also buy their own health insurance--and I'm guessing with the potential for surgeries and rehab caused by repetitive motion injuries--their plans fall under the "Cadillac Plan Tax" included in the Affordable Care Act.  And their income levels--especially Phil's--are subject to the ObamaCare surcharge tax on the rich as well.

Phil wouldn't get into specifics about what the "drastic changes" might be.  It could be as simple as not playing as many tournaments in California (where all those making the cut in a tournament pay state taxes on their winnings.  That explains why there are so many tourneys in Texas, Arizona and Florida every year--no state income taxes).  Or Phil may choose to move his family from their home outside San Diego to one of the other tax haven states I mentioned before--which is where the vast majority of pro golfers have chosen to live.  But what many in the media are guessing is that Phil may choose to just hang up the clubs and walk away from full-time Tour membership.

The guess comes from the fact that Phil's statement came during a discussion of Steve Stricker's semi-retirement this year.  That's when Phil launched into his dissertation on taxes and how he is one of the President Obama's "targets".  He also pointed out that he would be able to cut those tax rates by simply living off of his investments--which would be taxed at the lower capital gains rate (or "Mitt Romney rate" as it will likely be known for the next decade or so).

With an income of more than 100-million dollars last year--according to estimates by Golf Digest--Phil Mickelson and his family will still do okay whether he continues to golf for a living or retires.  But the millions that he and his wife donate to charities every year like their foundation--which provides grants to science and math teachers around the country and to disabled veterans programs--or the dozens of other non-profits that benefit from anonymous gifts, likely won't be provided any more.  And that just means more taxes so the Government can pay for those things instead.

Maybe Phil just finished reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and realized that his "fair share" is a little beyond "fair"--and that he would be better off joining the "non-working class".  I just find it ironic on this Inauguration Day that President Obama has not only made it more lucrative for the unemployed to stay out of work--but also for the rich to no longer work as well.  Perhaps he really is the "Messiah" the Left believes him to be.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Failing On Purpose

Here I thought President Obama would change his modus operandi in his second term.  But his approval of 23-executive orders on "gun violence issues" this week shows that he remains committed to policies designed to fail--so that more extreme measures become more palatable in the future.

Nothing the President signed into law this week will prevent a criminal or a crazy person from obtaining a gun.  It will make it a bit more difficult for a person with a clear record and no history of mental illness from purchasing weapons--but those aren't the people going around shooting up schools and robbing people at gunpoint.  And President Obama is fully aware of that.  However, what it does allow him--and his Democratic successors--to say after the next high-profile gun crime is "Well, we tried background checks and limits on gun show sales but they didn't work.  Obviously the only alternative is confiscation."  And the uninformed voter thinks "Yeah, I guess that is the only thing that will work.  Make everyone give up their guns!"

The Affordable Care Act is another example of "failure by design".  After a couple of years of skyrocketing costs and premiums--along with longer waits for less-effective service--everyone will be more frustrated with the health care system than they were before ObamaCare.  What will be the response from the President and the Left?  "Well, we tried to work with private insurance carriers and providers, but that didn't work.  Obviously the only alternative is a Single-Payer System."  And the uninformed voter says "Yeah, I guess that is the only thing that will work.  Government health care for everyone!"

And let's not forget our fiscal and deficit policy.  Tax increases that won't make the slightest dent in current or projected budget deficits were hailed as major "victories" for the President this month.  But a couple of years from now when the deficit is over 20-trillion dollars--and we still aren't close to paying for the multitude of entitlement program expansions over the past four years, the President will say "Well, we tried to get the rich to pay a little bit more, but that still wasn't enough.  Obviously, the only alternative is to have them pay a lot more--and everyone else more too."  And the growing percentage of those who AREN'T paying income taxes will say "Yeah, everybody else isn't paying enough.  Tax them whatever it takes to pay for everything I want!"

Some of you may be thinking, "That is such a load of bull--nobody would set out to intentionally fail at something just to get their way later on."  Obviously, you aren't a husband (or have a husband) who has messed up the laundry or the dusting so badly that his wife says it's just easier for her to do it herself from now on.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Banner Day For the Media

If you want my take on this whole "Fake Dead Girlfriend" thing at Notre Dame, follow me on Twitter.  Here I want to talk about how multiple media outlets could fall for such a load of crap.

The list of reporters, magazines and TV networks that fell for Manti Te'o's "story" about a girlfriend who was in a car crash and died from leukemia is embarrassing.  Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS, NBC, multiple newspapers, fansites, and national talk show hosts all bought "made for TV movie" tale hook, line and sinker.  But how?  Why did nobody other than two guys on a rumor website ask "wait a minute, there is a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense here" and at least do a Google search about what Te'o was saying?

The answer is simple: it would have ruined a "great story".  My colleague Bob Burnell tells the story of a news director he had "back in the day" that told him "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story".  It exemplifies our occasional blindness to facts that might contradict the "narrative" that tells a better tale for the listener, viewer or reader.  "Athlete plays to honor his dead grandmother" is a "nice" headline "Player struggles with the loss of grandmother AND girlfriend hours apart"--that's the stuff Emmys, Pulitzers and Marconi Awards are made of!

What's disturbing is that nobody noticed the glaring discrepancies in Te'o's multiple telling of the stories.  He met this woman at Stanford University after their game in 2009--then they met once in Hawaii--then they never actually met face-to-face and had only chatted online and on the phone.  Nobody noticed these different stories when writing up their own piece?

Then there are the inconsistencies in the timeline of the woman's death.  Te'o told varying accounts of how she died hours before his grandmother--hours after his grandmother--the day after his grandmother and as many as FOUR DAYS after his grandmother.  And her family "insisted" that he make good on his promise to her to "never miss a game because of her"?  Nobody thought "why didn't they just have the funeral on a Monday or Tuesday?"

And no one Googled reports of the car crash that initially led to the "discovery" that the "girlfriend" "had leukemia"?  Nobody contacted Carson City Police (which doesn't exist--it's Carson, California) for an accident report?  And nobody tried to talk to a friend at Stanford to learn more about the girl?  And that includes THE STANFORD STUDENT NEWSPAPER who also did a story about this!!

Some of the reporters "duped" by this are now saying they had their suspicions about the story--but "didn't feel it proper to question it at the time".  Or would asking those questions and checking those facts have ruined the "fairy tale" quality of the story?   Nobody wins a Heisman Trophy by making up a dead girlfriend--if the cover story is blown before the voting is done.

And don't think Notre Dame itself is a victim here as well.  The Sports Information Department was a willing participant in this (and may have helped to cover up the facts--based on the claim that Te'o "found out about the hoax" on Decmeber 26th--but was still telling the story in interviews leading up to the national championship game on January 7th.).  The SID Director should be fired immediately for facilitating all of the interviews that allowed this story to gain legs and become part of the "Notre Dame Football Lore"

And while they are at it, the school can admit that George Gipp never told Knute Rockne to "Win one for the Gipper" and that the Irish players never put their jerseys on Dan Devine's desk in a threat to boycott if "Rudy" didn't get to play.  That is unless you'd rather just hear a "good story".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's So Cute When Liberals Fight

What does it say about our society when the leading Big Government Spending Keynsian Economist in the nation gets into a beef with a late night comedian who hosts a fake "News" show?  In case you missed it, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart is trading barbs with Princeton Professor and New York Times colmunist Paul Krugman--excuse me DOCTOR Paul Krugman (he didn't go to Evil Economist School for eight years to be called MISTER) over Krugman's proposal to mint a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR COIN to circumvent the debt ceiling.


Stewart says Krugman is just "Making (expletive) up"--while Krugman calls Stewart "lazy" and showing a "lack of professionalism" in not researching the idea.  Does Krugman realize that Stewart ISN'T A REAL JOURNALIST?!?!?!  And that the Daily Show ISN'T A REAL NEWS PROGRAM?!?!?!?  Actually, Krugman does realize that in today's era of the Uninformed Voter, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report do serve as CREDIBLE NEWS OUTLETS for many young people--and if they fail to advance the liberal agenda--that hurts "the cause".

Now let's take a real look at this trillion dollar coin idea.  Under the Keynsian principle of "the Government can never spend enough" it make perfect sense.  US currency is no longer backed by anything tangible like gold or silver--just the word of the US Treasury to make good on its debts.  So as Jon Stewart points out, you could print a 50-QUERTILLION DOLLAR bill--and it would be worth 50-quertillion dollars.  Plus, the minting of the trillion dollar coin advances the effort to undercut the effects of the deficit by simply devaluing the money that is actually owed.

And that aspect plays right into the Liberal Agenda.  Make everything worth less (not quite worthless) so that those who "have" move close to those that "have not".  Those in the middle and the upper ends of the economy gained our worth by work, production and investment--what's known as "creating wealth".  But if the Government is able to flood the lower end of the economy with money fresh off the printer (think Stimulus I and II) and backed with nothing more than debt, the wealth of the middle and the top end (along with that which we could build in the future) is devalued--and suddenly, we aren't so far ahead anymore.  Notice that no one actually moves ahead, the majority just slip back toward the bottom.

And it's not just monetary policy that we are talking about when it comes to devaluation.  Who is it that wants to devalue a college education by demanding that everybody get one--at no cost?  Everyone likes to point to the studies that show those with bachelors degrees make a million dollars more over their lifetimes than those without--but if everyone has a BS or a BA, it won't mean that everyone suddenly gets bumped up to the salary those with degrees currently make.  It is the scarcity of the education that creates the demand--and the higher wage.

Who is it that wanted to devalue home ownership by requiring lenders to approve mortgages for people with no means to pay for them?  Home values were solid in the past not because everyone could afford to buy them--but because those who bought them could actually afford to stay in them.  And "old-fashioned" mortgage lending standards (20% down--payments no more than 25% of PROVEN gross monthly pay) ensured foreclosure was a rare event.

I'm sorry that Jon Stewart is calling BS on the latest Liberal/Keynsian effort to further devalue our economy--therby irritating those who want to drag us further in the hole.  But even the tamest lapdog will bite the hand that feeds him occasionally.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Don't Need To Watch Oprah

Lance Armstrong has completed his "tell all" interview with Oprah Winfrey--and now an anxious nation waits to the edited version to air on Oprah's OWN network on Thursday.  Well, don't expect me to be on the edge of my seat in anticipation--or to even watch the telecast for that matter--because I already know how this is going to play out.  In fact, I could give you almost word for word the transcript of the "shocking admission"--based on the countless previous interviews of this type given by every other athlete, politician and evangelical leader that have shamed themselves publicly--and then hired PR flacks to teach them to minimize the damage through carefully orchestrated media appearances.

Here's how it is going to go:

OPRAH--"Lance, did you do steroids while winning all those Tours de France?"

LANCE--"Oprah, when I was lying in my hospital bed wondering if I was even going to survive testicular cancer and the other tumors throughout my body, I promised myself and God that if I did live that I was going to dedicate my life to serving as an inspiration for other cancer patients by becoming the greatest bicyclist that ever lived.  And when God blessed me with a miracle cure I knew that I had to honor Him by making good on that promise.

"But when I got back on the cycling circuit I found out that everybody and I mean EVERYBODY was doping--and no matter how hard I trained and how much I conditioned myself and how good I took care of my body, that there was no way I was ever going to be able to compete with those guys.  So, I'm ashamed to admit this (tears begin to well in the eyes here) I asked our team doctors if they could provide me with the same stuff everyone else was using--not because I wanted to be better than them--just so that it would be a fair playing field."

OPRAH--"Why did you deny using steroids for so long?"

LANCE--"I really thought that all I had to do was use them for just a little bit--just to, like I said, catch up to all the other guys on the circuit.  But then I saw what an inspiration I was to all those cancer victims and survivors that I knew that I had to keep it up.  And then when I founded LiveStrong and we started raising these millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment--and I saw the good that my actions were doing for so many people who otherwise (cue more tears here--in Oprah's eyes as well) wouldn't have had that hope--I knew that I had to keep doing them.

"And when the rumors started and the French newspapers were printing those disgusting and evil things about me, I felt like I had to lash out at them--to deny the allegations--because by admitting anything, I would have been letting down all of those people who had found inspiration to overcome their own challenges."

OPRAH--"Lance, how do you want to be remembered?"

LANCE--"Oprah, I honestly don't care if anyone remembers me as the guy who won a record seven Tours de France or even the guy who overcame testicular cancer that had metastacized throughout his body.  I just want people to remember me as someone who gave people hope and who helped to raise millions of dollars to fight the absolute worst disease in the world.  A disease that kills children and mothers and fathers every day.  So I hope that people forget the small sins that I may have committed to win a few bike races and just judge me on the actions I took to help so many."

OPRAH--"Thanks Lance.  I know you are still an inspiration to millions." (Big smiles on everyone's faces--because Oprah has now forgiven you on behalf of "all of America")

Like I said, no reason to watch--we've all seen it before.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Pretty Simple Solution

Over the weekend, I got an email from the liberal group One Wisconsin Now inviting the supposedly non-partisan Campaign to Fix the Debt to give up on stemming the tide of Federal deficit spending and to instead focus on getting people out of student loan debt.  Now, I'm not a member of Campaign to Fix the Debt, but I would be more than happy to provide One Wisconsin Now a foolproof plan for "fixing" the student loan "crisis" in a way that would require NO additional government funding.

Step 1, "Hello Roommate!"--If you are paying off student loans you probably shouldn't be living alone, trying to cover the entire cost of rent and utilities by yourself.  My recommendation would be to find someone who is also trying to pay off their student loans to share a spartan--but secure--apartment.  I would also recommend that apartment be somewhere close to where you work because.....

Step 2, "Pedal Power"--If you are paying off your student loans you probably shouldn't be driving around in a car that required you to take out yet another loan (and a lease counts as a loan!).  My recommendation would be to find the absolute cheapest form of reliable transportation possible.  A bike would be a good place to start--and it's good for the environment (which One Wisconsin Now also advocates--it's a win-win for everyone!).  If biking it isn't always plausible, there is public transportation--and finally a very used but still mechanically solid car that can be had for just a couple thousand bucks.  Will it make your co-workers jealous?  No.  But it will get you to work and the grocery store.

Step 3, "Learn to Love Store Brands"--Speaking of the grocery store, if you are paying off student loans you probably don't need to be buying the more-expensive brand names.  Yes, the "off-brands" taste just a little bit different, but they will fill you up just the same.  My recommendation would be to pass on the uber-expensive "organic" stuff too--you'll have plenty of time to "eat natural" when you have paid off your student loans.  You will also want to stock up on sandwich bread because.....

Step 4, "Hold the Fries"--If you are paying off student loans, you probably shouldn't see the inside of a restaurant unless you are going there to work part-time as a waitress, bartender or dishwasher.  The same goes for the drive-thru window.  My recommendation would be to cook bigger meals at home and bring the leftovers to work--or learn the art of sandwich making.  You can forget about going to the bar or the dance club too--since there is nothing for sale there that is going to help you pay off your student loan debt.

Step 5, "Learn to Entertain Yourself"--If you are paying off student loans, you probably shouldn't be dropping hundreds of dollars a month on things like on-line movie rentals, new video games, a thousand song downloads or even high-speed internet.  Let someone else download all of that stuff and borrow them for your own use.  We also have this place called the Public Library, which loans out movies and CD's free of charge.  As an addendum to this step, don't plan on traveling anywhere for a vacation anytime soon either.  Yes, a long weekend in Las Vegas can help "relieve stress"--but the relief that comes from paying off your student loans early provides real relief that lasts a lot longer than a weekend.

Of course, One Wisconsin Now has no use for my plan to get out of student loan debt.  It doesn't involve government spending--and it requires the person who took out the loans (and who received and is using the education they paid for) to pay back all of the money they borrowed.  To them, it's far more "fair" to ask those of us who employed the steps listed above to get ourselves out of debt to just pay more taxes to "help" those who refuse to make the effort.

And the funny thing is, if people were to employ the same plan to buy a house, pay their medical bills and save for their retirement, the Campaign to Fix the Debt wouldn't have so much work ahead of itself either!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Howling at the Moon

Let me preface today's commentary by saying that I like wolves.  I had the Wisconsin Conservation license plates with the wolf on it for years.  I find their pack dynamics and group hunting techniques fascinating.  They are the species from which all of our domesticated dog breeds have developed--even the annoying little ones that yap all the time. 

With that being said, I will NOT be attending today's "wolf memorial service" down in Madison.  If you didn't hear about this early in the week, a group called the Alliance For Animals will be holding a service "in honor of all the wolves that were killed in last year's hunting season."  According to their press release, there will be a candlelight vigil held outside the DNR headquarters--and the reading of a poem "inspired by the wolves".

Personally, I don't support the wolf hunt--for the simple fact that the species has been off the endangered list for all of two minutes and we already feel the need to go out and kill them again.  But the fact of the matter is it exists, and it likely will remain in effect until the DNR finds out that it sent the wolf population back below the target--when it will be shelved again.  But let's keep in mind that they are just animals.

This "memorial service" just irritates my pet peeve about people who place greater emphasis on the lives of animals than they do on the lives of humans.  I'd be willing to bet that if there was a memorial service for the victims of murders or child abuse, they wouldn't be so quick to light their candles and write their poems.  Often, these folks like to call themselves the "voice for the animals".  When exactly did the wolves come to you to take on that role?

Another questions I have for today's protesters: Why wolves and not every other animal we hunt here in Wisconsin?  Why not shed tears for the hundreds of thousands of whitetail deer killed by guns and arrows?  If anything, that's more detrimental to the wolf population--since deer is one of their main prey--and having less venison on the hoof would mean fewer opportunities for successful hunts.  Wisconsinites have been allowed to hunt coyotes--the wolf's smaller cousin--for decades.  Why no poem for the coyote?  And let's not forget the millions of fish taken from their lakes and killed every year.  Do they not need someone to "speak on their behalf" as well?  Or do you not care because Wisconsin doesn't have a tradition of Friday night wolf fries?

I have a suggestion for the "dozens" who will show up at the wolf memorial today: Why not take the time that you spent driving to Madison or writing your wolf poems or standing in front of the DNR headquarters and use it volunteer at a shelter for abused women and children or at your local Boys and Girls Club--where it will do some actual good for your own species.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Apology Necessary

The de-masculinization of America continues.  ESPN Television has issued "an apology" for comments Brent Musburger made about the attractiveness of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's pageant queen girlfriend during the BCS National Championship game Monday night.  The Hall of Fame broadcaster made the egregious error of calling an attractive woman "beautiful"--setting off a firestorm of controversy in the world of social media.

But you have to ask: Who was actually insulted?  Katherine Webb--the "offended" party--went on the Today Show yesterday to say she had no problem with what Musburger said.  So to whom is ESPN apologizing--and why?  Brent Musburger was only saying out loud what every male fan watching the game Monday night was thinking: "Holy crap, that woman is hot!"  Besides, she goes to Auburn, so it's not like he could have said "Wow, what an incredibly intelligent woman" (BAZINGA!!)

Last night, my wife--blissfully unaware of the Musburger controversy--asked me at dinner if I had seen the Alabama quarterback girlfriend.  I answered that it was almost impossible not too--since she has been everywhere on TV and Twitter since she was shown on the screen the first time.  "Don't you think she is incredibly beautiful?" my wife asked.  "Why do you have to insult her like that?" I said.  "What do you mean insult her?" my wife asked.  "She is unbelievably beautiful."  So please, American women, accept my apology on behalf of my wife--she didn't mean to insult the rest of you.

And why is Musburger being singled out here?  He isn't telling the camera to focus on Katherine Webb.  If she had been shown just once and Brent made his comment and we never saw her again, there would have been no controversy at all.  But the director Derek Mobley kept going back to the "girlfriend and mom" shot over and over and over again.  So who was the one really obsessed with the attractive woman in the stands.

But if we have come to the point in our society where it is now an "insult" to call a beautiful woman "beautiful"--then we men may as well just all become eunuchs.  And as further punishment, I guess we men should all be forced to watch an endless loop video of Janet Reno, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Tammy Baldwin.

When I first heard ESPN was apologizing for on-air comments, I thought it was going to be to Robert Griffin III for comments made about him by commentator Rob Parker on First Take.

So if you are keeping track of what we guys can and cannot say anymore, "beautiful woman" is bad--"cornball brother" is apparently OK.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Truly Awesome Prize

Later this morning, we will give away my favorite prize of the year here on WOSH: A "scholarship" to Financial Peace University at the 20th Avenue YMCA.  This was a Facebook contest--where anyone who "likes" WOSH is entered (there is still time if you post your like before 7:15 this morning).

While trips and concert or show tickets are nice, those affect your life for just a few hours or days.  Getting a chance to go through FPU will (if you follow the plan) affect your life forever.  Will tickets to the Lion King help get you out of debt?  Will seeing the Steve Miller Band at EAA help pay for your kids' college educations?  Can you parlay a free meal and drinks at a local restaurant into a comfortable and secure retirement?  Obviously not, but getting a chance to learn about Dave's Total Money Makeover will do all of the above and then some.

Back in November, my wife and I completed Baby Step Six--pay off the house early--and moved on to Baby Step Seven--build wealth like crazy.  We have upped our 401(k) contributions and earmarked cash for other investments (we were already maxing out our Roth IRA contributions).  In addition, we are salting away money to purchase our first new-to-us vehicles in TEN YEARS!!  When Dave says it's amazing what you can do when you don't have a house payment--he is absolutely correct.

The best part of achieving Financial Peace is that what used to be dreams suddenly become goals.  Early retirement, more travel and--most importantly--more charitable giving are now all within our reach.  I've gone from running my own schedules of amortization to see when we are going to be able to pay off the house to running investment growth projections to see how soon I can start rolling out of bed sometime later than 2:45 am and head to the golf course every day instead of the office.

And that 10th anniversary return to Hawaii will no longer mean putting off the purchase of better vehicles--like it did before being completely debt-free.  Plus, we won't have to do everything on the cheap like we did the first time we went on our honeymoon--and came home to find all of those expenses on our next credit card bills.  And now my wife and I are having more conversations about where we would like to donate some of our good fortune--and where it will have the most positive impact.

There is still time to "like" the WOSH Facebook post about the Financial Peace University scholarship contest.  If you are going to enter--PLEASE be committed to attending all ten weeks of classes and making the effort to follow the Baby Steps.  Hopefully you will find out like my wife and I learned, that it is the greatest gift you could ever receive.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Long Way To Go

After last night's snoozer of a National Championship Game, college football fans are looking forward to the four-team playoff starting in 2014 like it is going to introduce an entirely new era of the sport.  Well, unless the entire Southeastern Conference is going to be banned from playing in that playoff--nothing will change.

It becomes more clear each year that the elite teams of the SEC are moving farther away from the rest of the field--rather than anyone catching up to them.  It took all of five plays last night to realize that an undefeated Notre Dame team had ZERO chance of beating Alabama.  Twitter was afire with talking heads, journalists and former athletes all picking teams that would have been a "better" matchup for the Tide.

One of the more popular selections was Oregon.  "At least they would score" was the usual argument.  They apparently forgot that Oregon struggled to score against Stanford in a PAC-12 loss this season.  And Stanford lost to Notre Dame (even though it was only because the refs totally blew a touchdown by Stanford on the second-to-last play of the game and refused to overturn it on replay).  I'd have given the Ducks one more touchdown than the Irish scored last night--meaning it still would have been a blowout.

So everyone believes that if we do away with the BCS and go strictly to a four-team playoff, we are going to end up with classic championship games--and the SEC won't win seven years in a row.  Well, if the playoff had been in effect this year, your "Final Four" would have been Notre Dame versus Oregon--which didn't even win its own DIVISION in the PAC 12--and Alabama versus Florida--which didn't even win its own DIVISION in the SEC.  Tell me how that is any better?

I don't mind at all that the SEC wins the "national championship" every year.  At least they do it playing real football.  Nick Saban and Alabama don't run the spread, read-option, throw-it-on every-down, run with the quarterback junk that has taken over college football and turned it into a video game where the only determining factor is who gets the ball last to put the final points on the board.  The Tide rolls with power running, short passing and a smothering defense that turns these running backs disguised as quarterbacks that so many teams have now into the same useless player that NFL defenses have made Tim Tebow into being.

So college football fans can set their sights on 2014 all they want.  But unless the rest of the sport gets back to the basics and plays the brand of football they play in the SEC, what they are going to see won't be any different than what we are seeing now.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Whose Schools Are They?

I want you to think about this the next time you hear someone say there needs to be "greater community involvement" in our public schools:

Last week, a State Court of Appeals ruled that two parents in the Mukwonago School District could not sue the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction over an order to change the high school's mascot.  The decision reversed a ruling by a Waukesha County Judge that found the DPI employee that conducted a "public hearing" on the mascot order was unfairly biased against those seeking to keep the team name.

The Appeals Court judges didn't say the two men couldn't sue DPI because they didn't live in the Mukwonago School District (they do).  And the judges didn't decide the plaintiffs couldn't sue the DPI because they didn't have kids enrolled in the district (they did).  No, these parents couldn't sue because they themselves did not attend the kangaroo court--I mean "public hearing" conducted by the DPI employee in question.

Now, you should probably keep in mind that all of the hearing attendees that spoke in favor of maintaining the high school mascot lived in the district--with many still having kids attending Mukwonago schools.  The two men who filed the lawsuit were the only ones willing to take on the financial burden of suing the state--in what always proves to be a drawn-out, expensive process.  On the other hand, ALL BUT ONE of those who spoke against the mascot DIDN'T ACTUALLY LIVE IN MUKWONAGO!!!!!  With the main proponent for the name change NOT EVEN LIVING IN WISCONSIN!!!  (And those sharing the perspective of the DPI are having the legal bills to defend those positions footed by us, the taxpayer.)

This entire process shouldn't catch anyone by surprise.  As anyone who has tried to affect change on public schools--but is not employed within the field of education--will tell you, school boards and administrators really don't care what you have to say.  Unless of course, you agree with their visions for public education. 

The Oshkosh School District is kicking off a new "visioning" process this week--and that process will include public "listening sessions" where we the "stakeholders in the schools" can share our views.  But how much consideration will we actually be given if we all turned out and said "we want supply-side economics taught to our children so that they aren't led to believe that long-term deficit spending is good government"?  Or "we want the state-required 'history of labor unions' replaced by the 'history of Wisconsin soldiers in American wars'"?  Or "how about we replace all of the time lost to early dismissal days for 'teacher collaboration' with extra periods focusing on math and writing skills"?  I can guarantee that we would be poo-pooed and told that "it's the job of the school to produce 'well rounded citizens of positive change'"--as opposed to graduates actually having skills desired by employers in the real world.

Despite all their "listening sessions" and "open houses" the only time public education officials really want us to be involved in "our schools" is when they have a referendum on the ballot and really just need our money.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Catch Him While You Can

Wisconsin's favorite golfing son, Steve Stricker, kicks off his 2013 PGA Tour season today at the Huyndai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii (where I once hit a 410-yard drive on the famous 18th hole). I would recommend those who are big fans of Steve to catch every round--because you may not see him for a while. This week, Steve announced that he is scaling back his playing schedule considerably. Golf Channel is calling Stricker's decision "semi-retirement"--at the age of 46. He has permission from the Tour to play as few as 10 tournaments this year without losing his fully-exempt status.

The decision shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows Steve. He has long been the most reluctant of stars in any sport. He cries after winning. He never moved to Florida or Arizona like every other player on the Tour so that he could live in a gated community and practice in perfect conditions on perfect private courses that none of us will EVER get to play. Instead, Steve chose to stay in the Madison area so that he and his wife could stay close to their families and raise their kids with solid Midwestern values.

His famous comeback from the abyss started with his father-in-law, Dennis Tiziani setting up an open-sided trailer on the range at Cherokee Country Club allowing Steve to hit balls into the snow all winter long. He never went to Butch Harmon or Hank Haney or David Ledbetter to rebuild his swing. The return from the 200's in the World Rankings came under the eye of Tiz' in the freezing cold and snowdrifts at Cherokee. Scott Van Pelt and Dan Patrick still marvel every once in a while at how Stricks won PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year two years in a row!! But that was how "lost" Steve was in the early 2000's.

But having climbed that mountain, Steve is ready to walk away--on his own terms. He was never one of those guys who went to China or the Middle East after the PGA Tour season was over to cash some big checks. He really did prefer to go hunting or get his kids's lunch ready for school every day. And I never saw him as one of those guys who would play out the string on the Champions Tour either. I think Steve looks at his bank statement and says "We've got more than enough".

I'd hate to think that last year's Ryder Cup debacle sped that decision. Leaving Medinah that day, there were more than a few fans (not patrons at the Ryder Cup) who were just killing Stricker for "blowing it" for Team USA. Even as a fan I had to admit that Steve didn't help the cause a single iota. He did drag down Tiger in the partners formats--winning just two holes with his ball in foursomes. Sometimes I think the worst thing that ever happened to Stricks was his performance paired with Tiger at the Presidents Cup in the 2009--when he made every putt he looked at, while Tiger just laughed on the fringe and the team just kicked the crap out of any International pair thrown up against them. It created the belief that Tiger and Steve were invincible--and people (and Captain Davis Love III) brought that same belief to Medinah last year.

The silver lining to losing our golfing hero is that Steve will dedicate more time to the new foundation he has formed with American Family Insurance. Last year, Steve won the Payne Stewart Award--given the PGA Tour Pro that exemplifies its namesake's dedication to charity and service away from the course. Steve's passion is an arts program for severely disabled children and adults here in Wisconsin. Last year, Golf Channel did a segment on the charity tournament and those involved in the program (sorry couldn't find video on line) and it moved me to tears the two or three times I saw it.

While we Wisconsin golfers may be losing one of our favorites on the course and TV every week, the people of Wisconsin are gaining a tireless worker for the benefit of others. I'd call that a pretty fair trade.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Real Voter Fatigue

We've heard in the past how the countless attack ads, billions in campaign spending and the endless cycle of recalls was going to cause voter fatigue and "disenfranchise" people from the political process.  Those concerns have been met time and again by record or near-record turnout at the polls for those races.  But it would appear that the current tone and procedure of politics is taking a toll on local government.

Just look at the races here in Oshkosh coming up this spring.  Only two candidates are running for three open seats on the Common Council--and they are the incumbents.  In a city of 60-thousand people, only two of the them are interested enough in how things are run to want to get involved.  Mayor Burk Tower is running unopposed--as is Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris.  I'm not saying that I want to see these guys ousted from office--but to not even have a discussion about their job performance, goals and beliefs is just disappointing.

There will be an election for the Oshkosh School Board this year--but only because "professional candidate" John Daggett turned in his papers.  This must be an off year for Mr. Daggett.  In the past, he has managed to get enough signatures to run for School Board, County Executive and Common Council all in the same election!  He must be kicking himself this morning hearing that if he had only turned in enough petitions for the Council this year--he'd be on it--without even having to campaign!  However, this My Two Cents would then be a desperate plea for anyone to mount an immediate (and likely successful) write-in candidacy to spare us from six hour Council meetings filled with miscellaneous ramblings and misguided questioning of city staff.

The candidate apathy doesn't affect just the spring races.  Last fall, the vast majority of county government positions and supervisor races were uncontested as well--with at least one race not even having any candidates on the ballot.

While disgust for politics is running high right now, I think another factor in the disinterest in running for local office is the property tax controls placed on units of local government by the state.  Outside of the 9% increase in the school tax rate in Oshkosh a couple of years ago (courtesy of Jim Doyle and the Democrats when they controlled the Legislature) we have seen relatively little to no growth in property tax levies.  And the increases we are going to see the next few years are all due to voter-approved referenda.  There are really only two things that get people fired up about local politics: big tax increases or approval of some type of industrial complex somewhere close to their house.  And we  haven't had either of those scenarios around here lately.

In previous My Two Cents, I've challenged fiscal and social conservatives to follow the path liberals have taken in building their current national base--by running for local offices and affecting change at that level first--then moving on to state and eventually national races.  By the looks of what we will have for local candidates this time around, it appears that challenge is going unmet again.

On the bright side, the lack of interest in running for local government will mean two less nights of sitting here in the Newsroom until almost midnight Election Night waiting for those last eight precincts from Oshkosh to finally report.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Moving an Inch Back From the Cliff

Excuse me if I don't celebrate last night's passage of the "Fiscal Cliff" bill.  Unlike many of those in Washington (and those that elected them) I prefer not to govern by emotion.

I'm sure President Obama is feeling good this morning.  The bill includes the tax increases on the "rich" that he based his entire re-election campaign upon--although he did have to "compromise" on what it means to be "rich"--as the threshold for the tax increase was raised from the 250-thousand a year the President wanted to 400-thousand that Republicans agreed to.  But at least the President can get in front of the TV cameras and reassure his political base that the "rich are moving closer to paying their fair share".  Anyone who thinks this will be the last effort to jack up the top earner rates during this administration knows absolutely nothing about Liberals.

And this "fair share" now being paid by the rich will decrease what was going to be an average Federal deficit of ONE-TRILLION-DOLLARS A YEAR to a "mere" $940-BILLION A YEAR.  WOW! you talk about targeting the real cause of our fiscal mess!  By the way, the guys throwing deck chairs off the Titanic called--they think you are all idiots.

And if you believe the middle class got out with no collateral damage--think again.  The Obama Payroll Tax Cuts (which were meant to "stimulate the economy out of the recession") are now gone.  That means two percent more will be taken out of your paychecks--without any recourse to make it up on your tax return.  There is at least a silver lining to this measure, as the rate at which we underfund Social Security and Medicare will be slowed slightly.

And for all the self-congratulations going on in Washington right now, the Cliff Deal only delays the Sequester for another TWO MONTHS!  That means we can now circle March First as our new "Fiscal Cliff"--with the automatic spending cuts still going into effect.  Throw on top of that it's also the date when we will hit the Debt Ceiling again and it gives you some idea of the scope of the real solution to the mess that we just keep putting off and putting off.

I had to laugh when I saw comments about how the "New Congress" will be better able to deal with the Fiscal Crisis than the lame-duck one that passed this bill.  When you consider that more than 90% of the morons that got us into this mess were sent back to Washington last month, you have to wonder what is going to change.  Oh well, at least we feel good about ourselves today--and that is all that really counts in today's society.