Friday, July 25, 2014

Death and Politics

You know what number I'm going to miss hearing about? The number of "Americans who died because they didn't have access to health care". That number was touted all the time during the debate over the Affordable Care Act. An internet search shows numbers quoted that were all over the map--but about 45-thousand seemed to be the most popular one used by advocates. For the next year or so those same politicians and groups might quote that figure as the "number of lives saved" by the implementation of the ACA--making the assumption that all of the people who "would have died" actually went to the doctor, were properly diagnosed, followed their treatment protocol properly and were "completely healed" of their malady. But eventually, that figure will no longer be used for political purposes--and I'll miss that. Of course, there was never any mention of the number of Americans who died every year despite access to health care. That number is about 2.5-MILLION annually. Kind of dwarves the other number doesn't it? And remember, those were people who had health insurance or Medicaid or Medicare and somehow, they still died. Since death numbers are a very successful political tool, the Left will now have to adopt some new "frightening figures" to quote in support of their growth of Government agenda. My prediction is they will select on of two options: One would be "deaths caused by income inequality". A federal grant will fund a study at some state university that compares the life expectancy for those living in the top 1 or 2% and those in the rest of the income brackets. Then the Liberal think tanks will extrapolate fromt that the "number of people who die because the rich don't pay enough in taxes". That of course ignores the fact that the rich tend not to engage in behaviors that lead to early death--like drug use, committing crimes involving weapons, drunk driving, smoking and imitating stunts they see on MTV "reality shows". The second option will likely be "deaths caused by Global Climate Change". Because this is a "worldwide crisis", that number will be huge--perhaps billions! The anti-business groups will add up everyone killed by heat, cold, floods, tornadoes, droughts, mudslides, lightning strikes, wildfires and earthquakes (those are all "caused by fracking" now--and fracking leads to the release of carbon dioxide so it counts!). And then they will claim that is the "death toll" from Climate Change and that's how many lives we can "save" by paying three times as much to heat and light our homes. The number that Liberals should really rally behind is the 41-thousand Americans who die from illegal drug use every year. That is nearly the same number that died from "lack of health insurance" and that warranted a trillion dollar government program and thousands of pages of new regulations that may or may not be constitutional. Of course, "saving" all of those lives would likely result in too many minorities going to prison--and there are no big corporations to tax or over-regulate in order to "fix" the problem--so I doubt I'll be seeing any "concern" over that "epidemic" anytime soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ewww, Ick

America has a long tradition of naming schools after it's heroes. We place the names of those whom kids can look up to, can model their lives after and who can aspire to be on the buildings where they spend so many of their formative years. It's why there is a Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt School in nearly every city in the country. And now the Gary, Indiana School District is going to uphold that tradition by renaming one of its schools in honor of Michael Jackson. I'll give you a minute to digest that. Children will be attending Michael Jackson School. Now that you've fought off the urge to vomit, let's explore why this is going to happen. In a word: MONEY. Specifically, the money that Jackson's mother, Katherine, is offering the district to participate in an image-cleaning effort for the family meal ticket--even though he is dead. That image-cleaning effort is needed because the vast majority of Americans consider Jackson to be serial pedophile and a drug addict with serious body-image issues to boot. That majority of Americans who question Jackson's well-documented relationship with children apparently does not include the Gary School Corporation Chairwoman Charmella Greer who says "those accusations were never considered during discussions about renaming the school. "He is one of the most beloved artists in the world," Greer told The Associated Press. Jackson's family is always quick to point out that he was found "not guilty" in the only molestation case that did not settle out of court with a big cash payout before going to trial. However, that argument then places Jackson into the same company as one Orenthal James Simpson--acquitted by a California jury. But money talks and widely-held perceptions walk. I'm guessing the Michael Jackson School Media Resource Center will be a little light on books dealing with the school's namesake. And on-line video of Donald Brashear's chilling ABC interviews with Jackson will be blocked from viewing on school computers. Better to present the argument that such actions don't exist in the real world--and that if you tell anyone about them, they won't believe you anyway because I'm rich and famous and your parents are just trying to shake me down for big bucks. Perhaps the Gary, Indiana School District should place a call to the folks over at Penn State University--which tore down a statue and removed the name of "beloved" football coach Joe Paterno after it was shown that he only knew about accusations against an assistant coach and just never bothered to tell anyone about it--for some perspective on which is more important: money someone is willing to give you for an "honor" and the shame that person's name can bring to you and your school. I can't wait for Katherine Jackson to be quoted as saying she "hopes they name an elementary school for her son because Michael always loved the littlest kids the most".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wheel Tax Mania

How much is the street in front of your house worth to you? What value do you derive from having curbs and gutters on your block? What is it worth to you not to have potholes, standing water and cracked or heaving sidewalks along your street? For a growing number of people here in the Fox Valley, the answer to those questions is apparently twenty bucks. The Oshkosh Common Council is the latest to hear from residents facing special assessments for street reconstruction projects how "unfair" it is that they have to pay such a large bill. I've been covering city politics for 16-years now and I can tell you that these complaints have been a regular occurrence for all 16-years. But the hot new trend among the "I don't want to pay for my street" crowd is the demand for a Wheel Tax upon all vehicles registered in the city. Appleton Alderman Joe Martin should get the lion's share of the credit (or blame) for this trend. He's the one who started calling for it in that city--and now every anti-assessment supporter is jumping on the bandwagon, touting the Wheel Tax as the great "equilizer" when it come to paying for road projects. The only problem is, the Wheel Tax is not as "fair" as the proponents would have you believe. The Oshkosh Corporation will never have to pay the Wheel Tax for all of the vehicles it drives around the city because it is only collected on passenger vehicles registered with the DMV. That also means the Pepsi distributor in town, the UPS delivery center and any other business relying on commercial trucks and other heavy equipment will not pay a single cent (other than gas taxes) toward the reconstruction of their street. However, all of those businesses do pay property taxes--and by placing a special assessment on the projects, they will pay the exact same amount per linear foot as everybody else on the street. THAT is "fair". Perhaps if I hadn't paid a $5600 assessment for reconstruction of my street shortly after moving into my house, I'd have a bit more sympathy for those paying this year, or next year or the year after that. But I knew what the bill was going to be and I set aside enough each month to pay it in full when it finally arrived. Now, everyone else can do the same thing--just like all of the people who paid their special assessments before me--and the people who paid before them. As an added bonus, you will have a greater appreciation for the real value of the street and sidewalks in front of your house. And that is rare for a government service nowadays.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

They're Both the Same

In listening to the protesters who were picketing outside of Hobby Lobby in Grand Chute last weekend go on about how the company being allowed to not pay for four types of birth control pills--out of 20 available--is a huge afront to the "human rights" of women, I realized those ladies are the same as the NRA guys who rail against government bans on certain types of weapons and ammunition as an afront to their Constitutional rights. They both firmly believe that even the slightest exemption to a law (or in the case of the NRA guys, a clearly-established Constitutional amendment) puts the entire law (or amendment) in jeopardy. It's two disparate groups fighting the same philosophical (and perhaps legal) battle. Of course, the two sides would never join forces or express support for each other. The NRA crowd tend to share the values of Hobby Lobby's family founders and would argue that the company shouldn't have to pay one cent for any contraceptives, period. The pro-choice ladies wouldn't be caught dead at an NRA meeting because they believe guns are inherently evil--even though 99.99% of all gun owners never commit a crime with them and manage to not accidentally shoot themselves or other people. But again, the things that they love so much are basically the same as well. Guns can be used to take a life--and contraceptives and abortions are meant to just keep that life from ever happening. On another topic, the next time you hear a Liberal criticizing Israel's response to Hamas launching rockets into the country from the Gaza Strip, call them an anti-Semite. It's the same strategy those on the Left like to use to discredit criticism of President Obama--by labeling those opposed to his social and economic agenda as being "racist". But attacking Israeli leadership is attacking a global minority that has been oppressed for centuries--and it's the same as attacking an American minority who has also risen to power. If the racial makeup of the person in power is the determine places them above logical questioning of their leadership and decision-making, than a ruler's religous beliefs should be afforded the same "cloak of protection". The only difference here is that Israel is fighting forces trying to destroy its country--while President Obama is fighting forces trying to keep him from destroying his country.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Generation Lost In Space

I enjoyed all of the Apollo 11 retrospectives this weekend, marking the 45th anniversary of man landing on the moon.  But what is a bit depressing is that my generation of Americans is NEVER going to do something that impressive or that important.

Neil Armstrong was 38 when he walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin was 39.  The average age of the engineers that designed and made all of the systems on-board the spacecraft work was 28.  These were young men who accomplished the greatest technical feat in human history--less than 70-years after the Wright Brothers got the first airplane off the ground.

I'm 41 and I have to wonder what is the greatest thing people around my age--once known as "Generation X"--have done?  The Space Shuttle was a Baby Boomer accomplishment.  The same for the internet, the Hubble Telescope, smartphones, laptop computers and mp3 players.  Facebook and Twitter and most other social media platforms that revolutionized inter-personal communications were actually developed by people younger than us.

Mine was supposed to be the generation that put a man on Mars (and returned him safely to the Earth)--but that funding was cut in the 1970's because the Baby Boomers weren't interested in space travel anymore.  So we ended up making rovers to check out the Red Planet--but is that really as landmark an achievement as actually walking around out there?

I'm told my generation is accomplishing "far more important things" than exploring the solar system.  Mine will be the generation that reverses the 12-thousand year pattern of increasing global temperatures.  Mine will be the generation that finds the source of energy that never runs out and doesn't pollute.  And mine is the generation that made sure employers had to provide free birth control pills to women.  Why do I doubt I will live to see the 45-year anniversary specials for any of those "accomplishments".

About the best I can come up with is that my generation saved rock and roll by bringing grunge and alternative into the mainstream back in the 1990's--and slaying the talentless "hair metal" bands of the 1980's.  Of course, Poison and Motley Crue are still touring and making money--while Nirvana is no more--so I guess we kind of failed on that front too.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Weep For the Future of This Country

Today's example of America's decline into the abyss comes from Virginia, where a father traveled halfway around the world in order to establish a new kingdom on the continent of Africa.  Jeremiah Heaton claimed a desolate area between Egypt and Sudan by planting his own flag and declaring the country "The Kingdom of North Sudan".

Heaton did not make this trek in order to establish a new democracy where people could live free of excess taxation.  He doesn't want to have a country where people can practice their religious beliefs however they see fit without Government mandates.  He doesn't even fear Government storming his house at night to take away all his guns.  Instead, Jeremiah Heaton declared himself the King of North Sudan for the sole reason that his 7-year old daughter can call herself a "real princess". 

In case you haven't noticed, being a princess is the hot thing for girls now.  You can blame Disney for that, as  every movie and TV show they produce is about princesses.  So we have an entire generation of girls whose life goal is to be second in command of fictional countries.  I guess you could say that is an upgrade from the previous generation of girls, whose life goal was to be a celebrity with a sex tape and a heroin addiction.

But with the princess infatuation comes the belief that these girls are entitled to pretty much anything they want.  If Daddy isn't going to supply it, they will either throw a fit--or manipulate someone else into getting it for them.  Hence the sense of entitlement that permeates the "Millennial Generation".  Mom and Dad gave me everything that I wanted and now everybody else should be doing the same--even though I'm supposed to be an adult."

Can't you imagine Heaton's little girl at her first day of school this fall one-upping the other kids in her class? "Oh yeah, well I'm a real princess, so you have to do what I tell you to do!"  And I already feel sympathy for the poor guy that ends up marrying her some day.

Heaton is quoted in the Washington Post as saying "“I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true.” But don't you think the time it took him to travel to this place that is so desolate that nobody wants to claim it for their own country might have been better spent in the actual company of his daughter?  Studies show that girls who spend more time interacting with their dads tend to have greater self-confidence and fewer body issues?  And the money wasted on airplane flights and travel visas and renting vehicles and guides could have gone into an Educational IRA or state-run college savings plan so "the Princess" wouldn't have to take out student loans to get her degree--which will probably make her more money than her "royal title".

Just thought you might like to get a little insight into the next generation of Americans.  Maybe they deserve all of the debt that we are piling on them.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breakin' the Law

Can you think of a law the Government pays you not to break?  There is no Non-Speeder Subsidy Program.  There are no grants provided to everyone who doesn't rob a bank.  You don't even get a tax credit for not killing your husband when he leaves the toilet seat up and the TP roll empty.  Complying with laws was just expected--and was not "rewarded" financially.

And then along came the Affordable Care Act and its Individual Mandate, which made it the "Law Of The Land" as President Obama likes to put it, that every American have health insurance coverage.  And in order to get people to comply with the new law, the ACA contained a new subsidy program (the cost of which still has not been released) that would help lower-income people--in effect, paying them--to comply with the law.

I was thinking about that yesterday as the press releases poured in from liberals like Mary Burke, Senator Tammy Baldwin and the group Citizen Action Wisconsin decrying the Department of Health Services report that 38,000 people who had been on BadgerCare before eligibility standards were changed did not purchase new policies through the Federal Exchange this year.  Those are 38-thousand people who were living above the poverty line--but who were still going to receive the largest Government subsidies to comply with the Individual Mandate.  Many of them likely just chose not to.

The folks that I just mention don't believe that it's the fault of those 38-thousand or so that they are now breaking the "Law Of The Land"--even though the Government is offering to pay them to comply.  They believe that it is Evil Governor Scott Walker's fault--for not paying them enough to comply with the law.  They continue to criticize the Governor for failing to take $200+Million from the Obama Administration to expand BadgerCare--so the real cost of the Affordable Care Act is eventually hidden in state budgets and not in the Federal budget.

Another thing I find interesting is that when 38-thousand people are convicted of Felony Drug Possession in Wisconsin, those same liberals and their support groups blame the statutes themselves--saying they are "bad laws" that need to be changed or thrown out so that there are fewer offenders needing to be punished.  Yet they will be the last people on Earth to ever suggest the ACA be changed so that there are "fewer offenders" of the law.

Meanwhile, I'll just sit here waiting for my big check for good behavior.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Don't Want To Come Here

As America grapples with how to stop the near-steady stream of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children along our southern border, let me suggest a very simple solution that will not only stem the tide but likely lead the parents shipping their children off to our country to come up here and gladly take them back: Tell them how "horrible" it is living in the United States of America.  And to do that, we should use the words of liberal lawmakers and political activists.

Translate into Spanish President Obama's myriad speeches about how anyone living in poverty today has absolutely no hope of ever reaching the middle class no matter what they do in life (except vote for people who will expand government programs that incentivize poverty).  Publish in papers throughout Central America Paul Krugman's numerous charts and graphs comparing the "failures" of free enterprise economic systems with the "major successes" of government-subsidized socialist systems.

Every culture has its version of the "Boogeyman"--so we should present Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's speeches about the Koch Brothers and how they want to take every penny that every other American has in order to scare those looking to sneak into our country.  Show them footage of the impoverished families here telling their stories about how they can barely make ends meet to TV reporters while sitting in front of their hi-def TV's and while their IPhones ring in the background.

Make sure these immigrant families know that there is no hope for their children in our public schools either.  We can provide you with tapes for translation of Oshkosh School Superintendent Stan Mack saying those students of color will struggle to learn anything because the vast majority of our teachers are white--and won't understand their "struggle".  Or you can show them WEAC protesters claiming that they have low morale because they now have to pay 18-percent of their health insurance premiums and a quarter of their retirement funding.

Parents of daughters trying to sneak across the border should be made to watch Sandra Fluke's "powerful" testimony before Congress about her struggle to pay for birth control while attending a college that charges 40-thousand dollars a year for tuition.  The desperate families in Central America should be also warned that the girls they send to us could end up working for Christian companies that won't pay for the Morning After Pill.

Those starving for enough to eat should be warned by First Lady Michelle Obama that anything they buy in the American grocery store is bad for them and that they should instead wait until fall when they can get wholesome, nutritious, non-genetically-altered, organic vegetables and far-more expensive humanely-raised meat products at the local co-op or Saturday Farmers Market.  And, of course, Central American media outlets should be innundated with press releases about how US air is too dirty to breath, the water is too polluted to drink and that fracking threatens to cause the entire continent to collapse upon itself.

When presented with the liberal view of the United States, we can pretty much guarantee that nobody will want to come here--legally or illegally--ever again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The People Who Control Your Tax Dollars

I would like to thank an alert WOSH listener for cluing me in on an unbelievable quote from Vice President Joe Biden recently about his "struggles with money".  Biden was addressing the White House Summit on (Liberal) Working Families when he told the assembled crowd that he had no money in savings.

Biden's comments came in the wake of Hillary Clinton's claim that she and Bill were "dead broke" after they left the White House in 2001--making it sound like every Democratic contender for the White House in 2016 is trying to play the "I'm even poorer than you" card--thinking it will win them support from the ever-increasing number of families living in poverty over the past 6-years.

And what kills me is that the attendees of the conference--supposedly the people who are "struggling to make ends meet"--are laughing and clapping for a man who reports $407,000 in adjusted income (and who gets to live rent-free in a mansion on the US Naval Academy campus) being completely unable to save anything for retirement.  In previous "I'm the poorest man in Washington" claims, Biden blamed serving in Congress since he was 29-years old for his lack of personal wealth.  If working inside the Beltway has been such a "burden", Joe, maybe you should have considered taking an actual full-time job like all of the blue-collar folks you claim to "represent".

Anyway, you do have to give the Vice President some credit, he is at least living the life of government dependence that he and others in his party want to foist upon the rest of us.  Joe looks forward to his "government pension" and the one his wife will be getting as well--as a long-time community college teacher.  Uncle Sam has the Bidens taken care of--so really why should they put any effort into saving for their futures?  And that is their message to you too: "Big Government will be there to take care of your every want and need--there's no need to worry--even if that cost will be passed along to generation after generation after generation."

Oh and by the way, what the Vice President was saying is actually a load of BS.  He and his wife both have retirement and savings accounts--albeit small in terms of values.  But still, he told his base the things they wanted to hear--so to them, it will be the truth.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Grand Solution

Earlier this month, the City of Oshkosh filed a small claims lawsuit against the founder of the Downtown Pub Crawl--Joe Kubiak--for the remaining balance of the special event permit fee that no one bothered to take out for the event this spring.  It's the latest in a series of threats, legal maneuvers and pleadings out of City Hall--that have included members of the Common Council claiming that Kubiak was "holding the city hostage."  City Manager Mark Rohloff and City Attorney Lynn Lorenson likely chose this legal route because it involves just one court case--whereas sending the bill to all of the bars that took part in the Crawl would result in multiple lawsuits--likely to drag on for years.

Tonight, the Oshkosh Advisory Parks Board will vote on establishing it's own set of special event fees for groups that take up large portions of parks for their events.  This fee will ostensibly make up for the revenue lost when the city can't rent out shelters and pavilions for smaller events on those same days.  Needless to say, this will be seen as another attack on Sawdust Days--which ties up nearly all of Menominee Park for five days--and will cost them additional thousands of dollars.

And then last week, the city announced that it was issuing a notice of non-renewal for the lease at the Grand Opera House.  Officials would like to discuss the use of hotel room taxes to fund the Grand--a term that was put into the original lease and allowed to just rollover for 20-years.  Apparently, the folks at the Oshkosh Visitors and Convention Bureau are questioning if that is really the best use of that revenue.

But as soon as I heard about the room tax for the Grand--and the 120-thousand dollars it generated last year--a solution to the special event permit fee fiasco popped into my head:  Take the money currently going to the Grand and apply it to all of the city services currently being funded by the special event permit fee!  No more "being held hostage" by Joe Kubiak, no more Sawdust Days trying to beg out of its permit fee--and then slow-paying the bill.  Given that those two events seem to be the most expensive each year--120-thousand bucks should be more than enough to cover the costs for everything going on in town annually.

Now I'm sure the CVB won't be on-board with that plan.  They likely want the room tax to expand their marketing of the Convention Center, now that Appleton is stepping up its game with plans for a downtown exhibition center and Green Bay is expanding the KI convention center.  There are just so many Northeast Wisconsin Association of Mechanical Engineers conferences and Benevolent Protective Order of Elks conventions out there--and the competition is getting tougher to land them.  But using the room tax for police, public works and fire emergency services provides a much greater direct benefit to the taxpayers of Oshkosh.

As for the Grand's lost revenue, the Common Council can just add on to the facility fee charged on every ticket.  Believe me, the Meyer Theater in Green Bay and the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee charge almost as much to get in the building as they do to let you see the band.

It's not often that a simple and common sense solution to government problems pops up like this.  Hopefully those in power are smart enough to recognize it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dear Mr Tern Chick Killer

I would like to address the person--or persons--responsible for the slaughter of 25 common tern chicks in a colony on an island on Lake Butte des Morts last weekend:

You Sir (or Sirs) are the lowest form of human life on the planet.

I know why you did it.  I've heard from more than a few so-called "sportsmen" who hate the return of aquatic birds like terns and cormorants and pelicans to the Lake Winnebago system.  You don't see the re-establishment of colonies in our area as a sign that the health of the lakes has greatly improved over the past couple of decades.  Instead, you meatheads believe that the birds are going to eat all of the fish.  And you can't stand the thought of having to "compete" against a couple hundred birds.  You swear you can hear them laughing at you as they fly off with full bellies and you sit with an empty live well on the fishing boat you probably took out a second mortgage on your house to purchase.  So you go out and destroy their nests and stomp and throw rocks on their chicks.  It's your way of "preserving the natural balance".

You would love to tell your fishing buddies about the blow you have struck for "preserving the entire Lake Winnebago system fishery"--but now you can't.  The DNR found out about what you have done and they, in turn, have informed us in the media about your brutal actions.  And while you may get some silent support from the few fishermen who believe that only they are entitled to take any fish out of the lakes, public backlash against you will be swift and it ugly.  Especially when the TV folks use pictures of what couple-weeks-old tern chicks look like:

We Americans may not care about 84-people getting shot in inner city Chicago over the 4th of July weekend (despite some of the strictest local gun control laws in the country)--but we do tend to get worked up over the mistreatment of any cute animals.

And the odds are you will get caught.  You may have already spouted off to someone about what you did.  And that person may have told someone else--who told someone else who isn't very good at keeping secrets--or who is as disgusted by what they hear as the rest of us are--and decides to call the anonymous DNR hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR.  Or maybe someone will remember seeing your boat out by that island or your truck parked at the boat landing at an odd hour last weekend--and they will share what they remember with law enforcement.

And once you are caught, prosecuted and convicted, your punishment will likely include the loss of your "privilege" to fish the very waters that you sought to "protect:" for a good amount of time.  It's kind of ironic isn't it?  That should give you more time to think about the crushed little fuzzy bodies that you left out on that island.

Oh and by the way, your actions are just one step away from bringing vagrants to your home, killing them, having sex with their corpses and then eating them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Areas To Avoid

I was talking with a Townie at the grocery store this week and he asked me if this was Lifest Week in Oshkosh.  I told him that Lifest did start on Thursday, and he said "I guess that means we have to avoid Jackson Street then and the Pick n Save on the northside."  And that sparked a conversation about how most cities have a certain part of town you try to avoid--but here in Oshkosh, that area moves around--depending on what event is going on in Event City.

For instance, the first week of January you want to avoid the YMCAs in town because they are being overrun with the "new members" who are finally going to work out and lose weight this year.  (Fortunately, that lasts only about ten days--and then you can easily find a machine or space on the track to get in a run.)

Then in mid-February, you have to stay away from the lakeside bars--unless you enjoy seeing big, ugly dead sturgeon hanging up all over the place--and you want to hear endless versions of how "I had just turned away from looking in the hole to get another shot and then there he was!!"

In mid-April you want to avoid Main Street because this might be the year that Spring Pub Crawl turns into a riot--complete with tear gas, fire bombs and armored personnel carriers rolling through the streets.

Around Mothers' Day, you want to stay at least a mile away from the lake--unless you enjoy getting lake flies in your eyes, and in your nose, and in your ears, and in your mouth, and down the front of your shirt. 

At the end of May, you have graduation at UWO--so you have to stay away from the campus area.

In mid-June, you avoid Highway 41 south of the causeway and Highway 44 and Highway 26--along with the frontage roads and outlet mall and any store that carries beer, boots and booze because of Country USA--unless you like following jacked up pickup trucks spraying mud all over the place.

Then 4th of July week, you stay away from Menominee Park because of Sawdust Days--except for the night of the fireworks.

As I mentioned before, in mid-July you avoid the northside of town because of Lifest.

Then a week after that, Rock USA rolls in--and you avoid the far southside of town again.

At the end of July and early August, everybody just gets out of town to avoid EAA.

Then at the end of August, the college kids come back--so you have to avoid the campus area again.

And in October, there's another Pub Crawl--so you have to avoid the area around Main Street again in case of looting and mayhem.

That's a pretty impressive list of things to avoid in Oshkosh every year.  It's a wonder we can keep it all straight.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This Week's Special: Liberal Eggs, $12/Dozen

Those worried about a complete Liberal takeover of the US can probably rest easier, it appears those on the Left will likely starve themselves to death before that can happen.

The Willy Street Co-op in Madison is considering a boycott of it's largest supplier, Eden Foods, because that company is seeking legal relief from the provisions on birth control in the Affordable Care Act--just like Hobby Lobby did.  First off, I'm shocked the co-op was even doing business with a company that takes its name from the Biblical version of creation.  That right there should have let you know the owners' religious persuasions (and that they are automatically sexist--and probably racist too).  The decision to boycott would be expensive for customers--as more than 100-items would be taken off the shelves--and those that can be replaced would come from suppliers charging even more than the exorbitant prices "organic" and "free trade" and "sustainable" producers already get.

That is a point some co-op customers have tried to make in the on-line forum seeking feedback on the proposed boycott.  They try to argue logically that until that lawsuit was filed, products from Eden were "eco-friendly" and "healthier"--so why does the fact that the female employees of childbearing age may not get three or four birth control pills for free from the company make that food unfit for human consumption?  But those folks are being shouted down by the hardcore Libs who insist that unless the farmers, the crop pickers, the guys driving the trucks hauling the food, the packagers, the labelers and the distributors of that food cowtow to their personal political beliefs--they should not be allowed to sell their wares anywhere in the United States of America.

It's probably not far-fetched to imagine a day when retailers will no longer try to compete on price or selection--and instead will position themselves by political and/or religious affiliation.  You'll have the "Conservative Hardware Store" competing against the "Liberal, Recycled, Green Building Supply Co-op" or the "Christian Hobby Shop" will be located across the street from the "Progressive Hobby Shop" and of course the "Corporate Food Mart" and the "Sustainable Sustenance Center".

However, that likely will not be much of an actual competition.  The "Right-leaning" shops will feature far greater selection--at much lower prices--likely leading the "Left-leaning" retailers and their supporters to demand government intervention (in the form of legislative requirements like those called for by the Willy Street customers) to "make things fair".  And the whole thing will come to an end when blight wipes out the "organic, non-genetically-modified-to-be-blight-resistant" crops, PETA claims that chickens suffer "separation anxiety" when their eggs are taken away, and researchers at some public university use government grants to determine that plants really do feel pain when they are cut down--and suddenly the already limited food supply for those trying to "save the earth" dries up--and they die a slow, painful death from malnutrition.  At least they will feel good knowing that in death, they made sure that RU-486 was free for all women who wanted to take it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

LandLubber for Life

There has been plenty of news about boats lately--most of it helping to reinforce my decision to never own a boat. 

A "Boat Guy" I know always joked that the happiest day of an owners life in the day he buys a boat--and the second happiest is the day he sells the boat.  Between those days are the months of paying to store your boat, paying more for non-ethanol fuel for the boat, paying to tune up the boat, paying to dock the boat, fighting to get the boat in and out of the water at boat launches, burning extra gas to tow the boat around, repairing the boat after hitting something under the water, insuring the boat, cleaning the boat, making sure the boat is tied up properly to the dock and looking at the boat tied up to the dock when it's too cold, too windy or too rainy (or it might become too rainy, windy or cold) to take the boat out.

And then you have situations like last weekend when the Menasha Lock broke--stranding people on the other side of it.  Imagine going out for a ride in the car--and then every possible route back to your house was closed off and you were stranded--with no other form of transportation available.  Then to add insult to injury, you had to pay to park your car in some other person's garage until they fixed whatever problem that was blocking every available route back home.  Or you had to come pick up your car with another vehicle and tow it to someplace where you could actually drive it back to where it belongs.

And then you have the incident on Lake Winneconne yesterday, where a boat is found circling unattended.  I know I've never fallen out of my Jeep--even when the top and the doors have been off.  And when a boat breaks down on the water, it's a news story--because law enforcement has to be called out to "save" the people on board (usually because the craft is taking on water or is being pushed farther and farther from shore or is being swept downstream toward a dam).  When my Jeep breaks down, I call AAA instead of 911--and it usually doesn't require a search party to find me.

Conduct a little experiment that I always like to do--ask "Boat Guys" how much they got out on the boat at the end of every summer.  Without fail, their answer will be "Not enough" or "Hardly at all".  At least half the time that will be followed with "We're thinking about maybe getting rid of it this winter".  NEVER has the answer been "Oh man, we were on the boat too much this year" or "We're thinking about getting a second boat because it's so much fun!"

In the meantime, you'll find me just sitting on the dock getting some sun and drinking a beer.  That's about all the "water sports" I need.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Observations From the Road

I noticed a few things during my holiday weekend in the Northwoods:

--Illinoisians will drive like bats out of hell trying to get to their vacation destination--doing 75 on a two-lane highway with a 55-mile per hour speed limit--and attempting to pass 15-vehicles at a time, veering back into their lane seconds before a head-on crash with an approaching vehicle--and then swerving back to the left in an effort to pass another ten cars on a blind curve.  However, once they reach their destination, those with the Lincoln license plates like to go at least 15-miles per hour BELOW the speed limit--slowing down even further when approaching all side roads and business driveways. "Is this where we turn for the resort?" "Nope. Maybe it's the next one down."  Of course, once their stay Up North is done, they are back to driving like they stole their vehicles and the use of un-neccessary force has been authorized in their capture.

--Jobs American teenagers will not do are not just found in Wisconsin Dells.  The young ladies working at two different t-shirt shops in downtown Eagle River had distinctive Eastern European accents when asking if there was anything they could help us find.  It's possible that there just aren't enough kids--or unemployed adults that could use some cash--in Northern Wisconsin to work in those shops, but there aren't nearly as many positions to fill as there are in the Dells either.

--Appleton isn't the only place where curbside seating for a parade is apparently the most important thing in life.  Driving through downtown Eagle River before 6:30 in the morning on July 4th, every single inch of the sidewalk for several blocks was filled with chairs, blankets, mats and police tape blocking off areas that were "saved" for a parade that didn't start for another five hours.  (By the way, setting up two barstools about 20-feet apart and running red warning tape between the two shouldn't count as "saving spots".)  Apparently, the Eagle River City Council has more important things to deal with than passing ordinances limiting the times people can litter the streets with unattended junk.

--In tourist areas, Townies still rule the roost.  I found that out at the grocery store trying to pick up some baked goods when the two locals that got to the counter after I did were both served before me--even though one of the ladies said "I think he was here before me."  That didn't matter to the Bakery Lady--as she was more interested in having a conversation with the other two customers while getting them their "usual" orders. (Of course, this was at a grocery chain that features the worst service here in Oshkosh as well--so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.)

Vacations over--back to the grind.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

See You Again In Four Years!

Indulge me if you will, as I do my last Two Cents about soccer for the next four years--which will be about how long it takes for Americans care about soccer again.  What's that you say....Americans have a new-found passion for soccer that will not wane after this World Cup is done?  Forgive me if I laugh at all the commentary we will hear from the sports-talk hosts and ESPN "insiders" pushing that point--because I've been hearing about the "explosion of soccer in the US" my entire life.

It started in 1975 when the New York Cosmos signed Pele to a huge contract to play in the North American Soccer League.  That was going to make the US a "soccer hotbed".  And Pele was everywhere--on Sesame Street, at the White House Kicking it with several Presidents and he was in movies with Sylvester Stallone playing (in a real stretch) a soccer player.  But along came Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach and Walter Payton and Earl Campbell and Howard Cosell--and the "other football" grew to become the most popular sport in the US.

Then in the early to mid-80's soccer supporters pointed out that more kids were playing in their youth leagues than were playing Little Leauge Baseball or girls softball--and the claim was made that "soccer is the sport of the future!"  But along came Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and the perfect 64-team bracket of the expanded NCAA Tournament--and basketball became the hottest sport of the decade.

And then the USA hosted the World Cup in 1994--and that was REALLY going to fuel a soccer explosion here--because we would get to see all the best players in the world and the passion of their fans and we would say "Hey, I want in on that too!"  (Do you remember who won?  Anyone.......anyone......Bueller?  It was Brazil.)  But along came Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds--and baseball saw its home-run (and steroid) fueled renaissance.

And then the US Women won their World Cup in 1999 and we heard how women were now going to be the driving force in raising soccer's profile in the country.  Heck, the term "Soccer Mom" became synonymous with anyone who owned a minivan.  But along came Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart and NASCAR saw such an increase in female fan base that companies like Kellogg's, Kraft/Nabisco and Proctor&Gamble were sponsoring multiple cars in every race.

And then the US started qualifying for--and winning a few games--in the World Cup--and it was predicted that this new success was going to fuel Americans' hunger to watch more soccer.  But along came internet fantasy leagues and the NFL Network and ESPN's round-the-clock-24/7/365 coverage of the NFL and the BCS and on-line gambling--and the "other football" again has become the undisputed king of all American sports.

So we will always have our memories, Soccer, of Clint Dempsey getting kicked in the face, of Christiano Ronaldo schooling us in the final minute to force a tie and of Tim Howard setting a World Cup record for saves--and losing.  We'll see you again in four years--if we want to stay up until midnight or get up at 3:00 am to watch the next round of World Cup games in Russia.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Church of the State

In 1534, King Henry VIII--angry that he was not being allowed by the Catholic Church to exercise his "basic human right" to marry the person that he wanted (Anne Boleyn)--issued a royal decree that the Church of England was no longer associated with the Vatican.  He appointed himself the head of the Church--made up new rules for the Church--and persecuted those who practiced religions other than the one that he had just established. 

Less than 100-years later, a small group of English Catholics--unwilling to accept the requirements of the State Church left first for Holland and later for the new colony of America on a small ship called The Mayflower to practice their religion the way they saw fit.  Those people today are known as "The Pilgrims".  And it was their descendents--and the descendents of thousands of others who followed them to the "New World" to enjoy the same religious freedoms--that would would eventually take up arms against England. And those Founding Fathers established a government guided by a constitution that lists in its very first amendment:   

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled by one vote that America is still more like the vision of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers--and less like the vision of King Henry VIII.  But those who are "celebrating" the so-called "Hobby Lobby Decision" may want to temper their joy--because there will not always be a 5-4 majority on the High Court seeing the First Amendment the same way.  Just the fact that this was not a 9-0 decision should cause chills to run down the backs of all Constitutionalists. 

We are not that far away from a "Church of America".  It will still have all of its different names--and perhaps different views on the meanings of sacred texts.  But it will be a religion that will have State-sanctioned beliefs on marriage, the role of women, abortion and birth control, euthanasia and charitable giving.  And as someone of no faith at all--that scares me more than the churches that exist today.