Friday, October 31, 2014

The All Blacks Are Coming To Town!!

On Saturday we get to enjoy an very rare treat.  The greatest Rugby Union team in the world is playing here in the United States--almost in our own backyard.  The New Zealand All Blacks (don't worry liberals, the team is named for its all black jerseys--or "kits"--not for the color of its players.  Think of the Cincinnati Reds or the Stanford Cardinal) will be taking on the United States Eagles in an international "friendly" Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago.

For those of us who love international rugby, this is a HUGE deal.  The All Blacks have not played in the United States since 1980.  They are on an international tour this year to promote the upcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup--which will be played in England--but would desperately love to get into US markets in the future.  New Zealand is to rugby what Brazil is to soccer or the United States is to basketball--they are far and away the best at the sport and they are the most passionate about it as well.  And they have a large following around the globe--including here in the US.

The All Blacks also bring with them one of the oldest and most beloved traditions in sports: The pre-match Haka--a mix of dance, chant, threat and challenge to their opponents at mid-field that pays tribute to the county's Maori native population:

Here in the United States, a team doing that would be penalized to start the game and players would likely be suspended. 

Team USA is likely going to get smoked in this game.  Like in soccer, the US in rugby is seen as a potential powerhouse--but the sport just can't gain any traction--since those who would be unstoppable view football as the better alternative because it can get you into college for free and get you paid big bucks in the NFL.  But imagine little English guys or Aussies trying to tackle JJ Watt or Melvin Gordon or Percy Harvin on a larger field and with no pads or helmets on.

I would love to be there in person for the game--but I can't (stupid household chores I promised I would do before winter!!).  However, NBC will have televise the game live!! (I need to take a break for a few minutes here, Honey).  It kicks off at 2:30--right after the Badgers wrap up their butt kicking of Rutgers.  I hope you can check it out.  I think you'll enjoy what you see.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greatness....And Not Greatness

In the 1964 World Series, the great Bob Gibson of the Saint Louis Cardinals pitched a complete game in Game 7 against the New York Yankees two days after pitching 10-innings in a complete game win--which was three days after pitching a complete game in a Game 2 loss to the Yankess.  Although he was shaky at times, Gibson gutted it out and finished what he started that day.  When asked if he had ever considered taking Gibson out in Game 7, Cardinals Manager Johnny Keane had one of my all time favorite sports quotes. "No, I had a commitment to his heart".

Last night, in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy showed a commitment to the heart of his 25-year old ace Madison Bumgarner, bringing him out of the bullpen just two days following a complete game victory in Game 5--and six days after an 8-inning victory in Game 1 in the 5th inning of a one-run game to finish the contest and seal the Giants' third World Series title in the past five years.  The biggest difference between Gibson's accomplishments and Bumgarner's is the culture of baseball in the modern game--where pitchers throwing no-hitters have been lifted in the 7th inning because they had "reached their pitch count".  But just like Johnny Keane likely would have had to wrestle and subdue Bob Gibson to take him out of Game 7 in '64, Bruce Bochy likely would have needed everybody else on the bench to carry MadBum off the mound before last night's game was over.

Unfortunately, Bumgarner's excellence is not what everyone will be talking about today.  Instead, Game 7 was hijacked last night by the worst, most awkward intrusion of sponsorship placement in the history of televised sports.  I'm talking about what is known now as "Chevy Guy".  In case you didn't stay up to watch the post-game, Chevy (the Official Truck of Major League Baseball) brought in Regional Zone Manager Rikk Wilde (WOW! THE REGIONAL ZONE MANAGER!! WHAT AN HONOR!!) to present Madison with his new truck for being World Series MVP

Just as entertaining, were the expressions of Finally-Former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on stage--as Regional Zone Manager Wilde is dying in front of a national TV audience.  No doubt the "commish" was wondering "What the hell is this guy doing up here ruining our moment?"  Well Bud, this is the situation you (and your other league leaders) have created.  And like you shrugging your shoulders at the "Tie Game" All-Star Game at Miller Park, it will be another lasting image of your tenure.

Maybe Chevy will just hire Super Creepy Rob Lowe to hand out the MVP Truck next year--and make awkward passes at Erin Andrews.  That actually would be entertaining.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Managing the People's Money

Being a "wonk" this is one of my favorite times of the year, as school boards, city councils and county boards review and finalize their new budgets.  I enjoy the line-by-line review of every expenditure as fiscally-responsible elected officials look to save taxpayers every dollar they can.  That is why I was so dismayed with yesterday's budget debate involving the Winnebago County Board.

Supervisors took all of ten minutes to review the county Human Services department budget--which at about $43-MILLION dollars is the largest spending area.  The only serious question came from a supervisor who wanted to know if a "Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist" is really necessary--since the county has a number of other "Specialists" already on-staff dealing with things like childhood immunization, communicable disease prevention, childhood learning, etc, etc, etc.

The rest of the discussion time was spent having several supervisors ask leading questions about their favorite human services program--like Music and Memory (which helps old people remember things by listening to music and singing) or free health clinics (which I thought we didn't need anymore because everyone is required by law to have health insurance and is guaranteed access to "affordable health care")

Later in the day, that same county board spent nearly an hour breaking down the 200-thousand dollars spent by Wittman Regional Airport on advertising and promotion.  A group of supervisors took turns bashing the airport (an annual Budget Sessions tradition on the Winnebago County Board) and questioned every avenue the airport has tried to promote itself.  As much as I appreciate getting out the fine-toothed comb on things, I had to wonder where was that same "attention to detail" on the $43-MILLION that was presented to them an hour ago--and was moved along with a shrug and a yawn?

Considering the average age of Winnebago County Board Supervisors, I guess the answer lies in their likely need for all of those Human Services programs before they ever fly out of the airport in Oshkosh.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Couple of Things....

Whenever a college student wants to have sex, the school provides them with free condoms.  Whenever a student's parents didn't bother to save for their college education, the school offers taxpayer-funded grants and government-backed student loans.  When a student of minority status struggles in class, entire systems are developed within the program and a special curriculum is developed to keep them from failing.  When a transgender student wants to shower or change into gym clothes the school provides special facilities for them.  When kids want to get around without having to walk or bike, the public transit system provides them with special buses and routes.  Colleges--and by extension Government--bends over backwards to make sure that a student's "every need" is met--no matter what the cost.

But, when students want personal protection while walking around campus--the school is not so accommodating.  In fact, schools go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible for students to assure their own safety.  There are bans on guns, stun guns, knives, pepper spray and mace.  Possession of such items are treated as a crime--and students face expulsion for "creating a dangerous atmosphere" on campus.  Perhaps that is why students are seen as such easy marks for petty thieves and thugs in college towns.  You know the kid walking back from the library or the commons at night poses little to no threat of self-defense or retaliation.  All they are going to do is "walk in groups!" or "use the special blue light phone".

Switching gears....

Did you see who the biggest spender is in the race for Governor this year?  No, it's not the Koch Brothers.  It's not Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.  It's not Wisconsin Club for Growth, or AFSCME or WEAC.  It's Democratic candidate Mary Burke.  The latest finance reports show that Burke spent $5-MILLION of her own cash to nearly self-fund her campaign.  Could you imagine the howls of protest if the Kochs, or the unions had spent that much?  The self-appointed "political watchdogs" would be claiming that those parties are "trying to buy" the election.  But like Senator Herb Kohl before her, Burke will likely be hailed by those groups as "being independent and not beholden to special interests" because she can afford to bankroll her pursuit of the position.

I would point out that the Governor's job pays $144,423 a year.  So I would question the "financial sense" of someone who would spend nearly 35 TIMES that amount to get hired.  At least the third parties that contribute the other millions that have been spent on the race actually receive (or avoid paying for) the $70-BILLION dollars the state spends every two years.  That would be considered a "smart investment" given the return.  The opposite would just be a "foolish waste of money".

Monday, October 27, 2014

Candidate Not Scott Walker

If the polls are to be believed, about two-thirds of the people who are going to vote for Mary Burke next week are doing so not because they agree with her platform or principals--but rather because she is not Scott Walker.  Given that Burke is polling about about 47% of likely voters, that means 32% of people in Wisconsin wouldn't even need a name at all in the Democratic column to check that box.  They don't care about cut-and-paste jobs plans, Trek Bicycle outsourcing, property tax increase votes on the Madison School Board or being called a "disaster" by her predecessor at the Department of Commerce.  Those 32% would see Stalin as a better alternative for Wisconsin than Scott Walker--but Mary Burke is on the ballot instead--so she will get their vote.

While she will gladly take that "hate support", you would think that Burke would at least want those people to care about what she is saying on the campaign trail--or to have at least a favorable opinion of her.  It's just human nature to want people to like you--as opposed to "dislike you less than that other guy" or to have no opinion of you whatsoever. 

I wonder if Mary Burke has ever been tempted to slip in something completely off the wall into one of her carefully-crafted campaign speeches like "I will require that all cows in Wisconsin wear special methane-absorbing diapers to minimize Wisconsin's production of greenhouse gases" just to see if anyone is actually paying attention.  Or maybe she could do a speech in Klingon sometime and see if there is any less applause every time she says "Scott Walker".  I'm actually shocked that her bumper stickers and yard signs didn't just say "Mary Burke--she's not Scott Walker".

And should Governor Walker win next week--and still be around to run for re-election in 2018--Democrats will be looking for the next Not Scott Walker to run against him again.  Maybe that's why Russ Feingold didn't want to get in this time around--he kind of likes things to be all about him.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Death and Taxes

The Baby Boomers have accumulated the greatest sum of wealth in American history.  Their generation is the richest we have ever seen--thanks to a series of economic booms, favorable tax policies and more widespread investment of wealth.  But those Boomers are aging and soon--unfortunately--they will begin passing away.  And that will result in the greatest transfer of wealth ever--from them to those of us in Generations X and Y--through inheritance. 

But like chum in the water draws sharks, the likelihood of that much money changing hands over the next few decades is also drawing liberals sniffing around looking for any way they can to get some, most or even all of it.  Under the guise of "wealth redistribution", the push will be made over the next few years to increase--substantially--the inheritance tax here in the US.  The terms "birth lottery" and "economic parasites" are already being thrown around to portray those that stand to collect something after their parents pass away (like we are all waiting with bated breath for our Moms and Dads to kick the bucket so we can "Party like it's 1999" right after the funerals).

In an ironic twist, it is the Baby Boomers themselves that got the inheritance tax all but eliminated (it doesn't kick in until the amount exceeds $5.4-Million) as they used their considerable political clout to craft policy that all but exempted the wealth being transferred to them from their parents--The Greatest Generation.  Now their grandchildren--the Millenials--are going to try and usurp that next transfer through a huge Government money grab.

In his new book The Legacy Journey, Dave Ramsey (heard 2:00 to 5:00 weekdays here on WOSH) promotes a retirement marked by comfortable living, charitable giving and planning to leave something to your children when you die.  With the upcoming battle over "redistributing" that hard-earned wealth and the Government inserting itself between generations, I wonder if Dave will change a few chapters.  Perhaps the new goal should just be to die without a single penny left to your name.  Live a real-life Brewster's Millions where there is absolutely nothing left for your kids--or Uncle Sam--to fight over.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The "Real Horror" of Halloween

An alert WOSH listener made me aware of a forum at UW Oshkosh tonight that should help everyone decide what they want to wear as a costume on Halloween.  The forum is titled: "Why You Should Never, Ever Dress Up As An Indian".  I'm assuming that the forum on "How To Prepare a Resume That Does Not Include Spelling and Grammatical Errors" and the discussion on "Why You Shouldn't Use 'Like' and "Ya Know' Every Four Words in Professional Conversations" are being held on other nights--so students at UWO can swing by to learn this "valuable information".

In promoting her forum, the advisor says:

So-called "Pocahottie" and Indian warrior costumes are popular in college, including here at UWO, but they do hidden damage.  The call to stop wearing them is not simply about political correctness--it is about Native women being depicted as sexual objects, which may seem harmless as a sexy costume on Halloween, but is part of a stereotype that contributes to a very high rate of sexual assault for Native women.  It is about the image of the Native man as a warrior--the same image we see in sports mascots (had to get that in there too)--which dehumanizes Native men and correlates to a high rate of violent victimization as well as a high incarceration rate.  Come here about these connections and more, and why you should never, ever dress up like an Indian.

So the reason there are such high rates of crime among Native American populations is not because of high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and high school dropouts--it's because white college kids wear Indian costumes on Halloween.  I look forward to the first criminal trial where a defense attorney for a person of Native heritage uses that as a defense.

What I don't understand is the part about wearing the "Pocahottie" costume makes Native women "sex objects" and contributes to sexual assaults is coming from the very same people who tell us all the time that what a woman wears on every other day but Halloween should not make her a sex object or "partly to blame" for sexual assault.  In fact, the derogatory term of "slut-shaming" is used to describe that very practice--and men are told to keep their thoughts clean no matter how short the skirt or low-cut the shirt.  So how can dressing like a Kardashian Sister or Katie Perry not sexually objectify women--but dressing like "Pocahottie" does?  Perhaps the Thought Police should use the meeting room for a few hours before tonight's forum to straighten that out--so we can all be in lockstep with them on Halloween night.

In the meantime, you can go back to working on your Sexy Nun, or Sexy Teacher, or Sexy Schoolgirl, or Sexy Nurse, or Sexy Disney Princess (but not Pocahontas!!!!), or Sexy Zombie costumes.  They appear to be safe--for now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Man Who Allowed It To Happen

Everyone who covers news for a living is in mourning today after the passing of former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee.  While Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein get most of the credit for uncovering the Watergate break-in and the attempts by those in the Richard Nixon White House to cover up their connection to the crime--and Nixon's knowledge of the cover up--those two would never have had their investigative work published without Ben Bradlee.

It was Bradlee that weathered the constant pressure from the White House and from within his own organization to give up on the Watergate story.  No other news service in the country was dedicating any air time or print space after the initial break in and the arrest of G Gordon Liddy and his "plumbers".  But Bradlee had trust and faith in his two relatively-young reporters that there was something more there--and he gave them the time and the space to do their work.  He allowed the two to use anonymous sources to further their reporting--a practice not that common at the time--but the only way to tell the story, since those who wanted the truth to be known had far too much to lose to go on the record.

Bradlee also stood by "Wood-stein" when the occasionally got things wrong and when sources fed them incorrect information to throw them off the trail.  That is probably the most courageous act in that entire drama--because of the high stakes involved.  If you've seen the movie adaptation of the book All The President's Men you may recall Jason Robard's classic line "We stand by the boys".

Ben Bradlee is still why many journalists do what they do for living.  It's why we file the open records requests.  It's why we sit through the interminably long meetings.  It's why we leave the 23-messages for comment.  And it's why we deal with the stream of emails, Facebook messages and phone calls accusing us of "twisting the truth" and being unfair to one side or the other.  Because when we expose a District Attorney that takes bribes, or we find that an elected body violated Open Meetings laws and when we uncover abuse of power by those we elect to any public office--we are honoring the legacy of Ben Bradlee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not So Tough On Crime

One of the most disingenuous arguments that are made in the race for Attorney General (and occasionally in the State Supreme Court elections) is that candidates are "soft on crime".  The talking point is usually followed by an example of a criminal that saw charges greatly reduced, a light sentence or perhaps even charges dismissed altogether.  And then the opponents conviction and long sentence for one criminal is touted as that prosecutor being "tough on crime".

As someone who observes the justice system on a regular basis, I can tell you that if the "standard" is to fully charge, convict and sentence every criminal to the maximum allowable punishment to be considered "tough on crime"--then there is not a single prosecutor, District Attorney or Judge that is "tough on crime" in Wisconsin.  Reduced charges, plea bargains, lenient sentences and "second chances" are common--and pretty much necessary--in today's legal system.

In filing charges, prosecutors must know that they have at least enough evidence to warrant a trial on each and every count.  Sometimes police mess up evidence.  Sometimes witnesses contradict themselves in describing what they saw.  Sometimes, there is no physical evidence at all.  It doesn't look good when judges throw out cases at the preliminary hearing stage for lack of probable cause.  And when jurors acquit on one charge, they are more likely to have doubts about other charges that may have more evidence.

And just because there is a plea deal in a case, doesn't mean that a defendant "beat the system".  If every case went to trial because plea deals weren't offered to criminals, we would have to have 50 Circuit Court branches here in Winnebago County alone--and about a thousand people called for jury duty every day.  And remember, all it takes is one person with reasonable doubt to prevent a conviction--so a plea deal is often a guaranteed conviction.  You might also want to consider that the child molester who cops a plea to a reduced charge is also keeping a child from having to get up in front of dozens of strangers and recount on the witness stand what happened to them.  How "tough" do you look making a traumatized child go through that at both a preliminary hearing and again at a trial?

Light sentences are also required today--unless of course you believe that every city should look like Waupun--where directions could literally have you "turn left" at three prison facilities.  Judges and prosecutors need to keep in mind that there is not enough space to lock up every single person that violates the law--so they have to decide who are the "worst of the worst" to lock up--and who can be reasonably kept under control on probation and parole.

So when you hear that next ad saying So-and-So is "soft on crime"--and What's-his-Name is "tough on crime" keep in mind all of those arguments are meaningless.

Monday, October 20, 2014

9+6=Mass Confusion

When you hear complaints about Common Core Standards in schools, a lot of the complaints are not about the actual standards that need to be met by students.  Instead, it is the "new way" that children are taught even the most basic of concepts in complicated, non-linear form that frustrates most people and leads to calls to throw out Common Core.

There have been plenty of social media posts by parents--many with college and advanced degrees--who cannot even help their elementary school students because answers really aren't that clear anymore.  But posts like that can be faked to make Common Core even dumber than it is--so I've been reluctant to use any of them here.  But a Houston TV station is doing a series of "Homework Helper" segments--in an effort to assist parents in understanding this "new way to learn":


Now I consider myself pretty lucky--I'm able to do math in my head.  A lot of people aren't able to do that--they are called caluculator users.  And I always hated "showing my work" on homework or math tests.  The teachers would always say "Jonathan, the answer is correct, but you have to show your work."  And I would always try to argue that I just "know" that 238 plus 498 equals 736--because I could "see it in my mind"--so no need to do the old "carry the one...." and so forth.

But this "Make everything equal ten" because "10 is a friendly number" stuff is assinine.  I'm trying to imagine every employer watching that video thinking about all of the future employees who can't figure out basic addition and subtraction in the work setting because the "numbers aren't friendly enough".  

So when you hear people talking about how much they hate Common Core--they aren't racists--they probably just know how to do math.

Friday, October 17, 2014

That Moment

So this happened last night:

Don't you wish all of us could have that kind of moment in our lives?  That one time when everything came together and you did something so spectacular--so perfect--and that brought joy to so many people?

That's what makes sports so special--there are opportunities like that every season in every sport.  But wouldn't it be awesome if you could have a "walkoff" in your job too?  You finish a perfect weld, or everything in your spreadsheet totals up perfectly, or the sick patient gets better and everyone in the plant or the office or the clinic is there to celebrate with you--while thousands of people from the community are going nuts and cheering for you.  And then everyone starts dousing each other with champagne.  That would be awesome.  

By the way, Travis Ishikawa joining the likes of Bobby Thomson, Kirk Gibson and Joe Carter in the annals of baseball history as walkoff winners is a great story in and of itself.  He was a man without a team at the start of the year.  He didn't make the majors until he was in his 30's--bouncing around from organization to organization--from minor league to minor league--from small town to small town--riding the bus and giving serious thought to quitting the game.  But finally he got a chance--found new teams in the majors to latch on to--and thanks to an injury to Giants outfielder Angel Pagan, he gets to start in the National Championship Series and experience the greatest thrill in sports.

Boom.  Walkoff.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Politics of Ebola

One of the interesting things about the Ebola outbreak this year is that it is purely political in nature.  The country believed to be the main source of this outbreak--Liberia--has been in political turmoil for decades.  That has left country with little to no public infrastructure.  And in that environment, social diseases like Ebola can run rampant as hospitals and clinics don't have the staff nor the medicines to treat people early in the outbreak.  And there is basically no governmental presence to head up and oversee any response.  So it has fallen upon the the rest of the world to come in and do the best it can to work in very difficult conditions.

The spread of Ebola to the US is political in nature as well.  More than seven-thousand cases concentrated in a few West African countries should have led to a moratorium on flights and travel from those countries to the US.  But the face of Ebola is obviously a Black face--and President Obama stood to face criticism from those on the left as bowing to "racial discrimination" by keeping people from that area out of the country.  There is already plenty of criticism on the internet from liberals who question if the world response to the outbreak would have been different if Ebola started in Scandanavia instead of West Africa.  As of this morning, there is still no indication from the White House if travel restrictions will be placed on anyone arriving from the Hot Zone.

And the concern over the arrival of Ebola here in the US is highlighting the fact that we do not have a Surgeon General.  President Obama's nominee is being held up in the Senate because of his plan to list gun violence as a "public health crisis".  That has Republicans staunchly opposed to that nomination, because they see it as a potential backdoor route to additional gun control.  That leaves us--the most advanced medical nation on the planet--without a point person to direct the overall response to the Ebola threat.  Yes, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control has become the face of our containment efforts--but that is not a Cabinet-level position that can bring the forces of multiple agencies and departments to bear on fighting the disease. 

So if this gets any worse--and if fear starts to grip the nation--don't blame the patients, or the doctors and nurses or even the media.  Blame the politicians that put into place the conditions that are really allowing this situation to exist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Going Up the Country

Someday historians are going to look back at this period of history and wonder why a country that had large populations of unemployed citizens needed to have other people sneak into the country in order to meet its labor demands.  I've been thinking about that since hearing representatives from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation calling for faster action on immigration reform to help stabilize their workforce.  You have to ask why Wisconsin farms rely so heavily on new-to-the country workers when more than half of the African-American men in the city of Milwaukee are unemployed.

We see plenty of efforts to "bring the farm to the city"--with fresh food programs in public schools, farmers markets in every downtown across the state--and the State Fair beingl held in the largest metropolitan area in Wisconsin.  But where is the effort to bring the city to the farm?  I checked the on-line editions of the Milwaukee County Farm Bureau newsletters and I don't see anything about recruitment efforts for farm labor in any of them.  There's nothing about posting jobs available in the industry or any training seminars for potential jobseekers.  I don't see any Blacks in any of the pictures either (unless you count Rickie Weeks in the photo of the players on the field at Miller Park at the Young Farmers Association Brewers game).  So why go through all of the hassle of worrying about if the guys you hired from Mexico and Central America are going to get picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at any time--when you can know that your staff was born here and are legal to work?

Of course, this has to be a two-way street.  All of those unemployed African-American men have to be willing to do the work.  Yes, it would require relocation, but consider that the immigrant worker already working on that farm came thousands of miles to work there--in a climate in which he is unfamiliar and where everyone else speaks a different language.  And he can't "go home" on the weekend--because there is no guarantee he'll be able to get back in.  Plus, we hear all the time about how the "culture" of the inner city is what "captures" these young men and turns them to lives of crime and drug abuse.  Well, you can't get any further away from gangs, guns and drugs than to work on a farm in Potosi, Wisconsin.

Every time I head to Madison, I drive past the Wisconsin State Prison Farm along highway 151.  Given the demographics of our prison population, you have to figure that many African-Americans are learning the skills of modern farming.  Are they actually employing those skills upon their release?  And are they spreading the word about the opportunities that exist in the field?  Those immigrant workers don't just drive around the country looking for a farmer to hire them.  They learn of job opportunities from relatives and friends--who heard about their jobs from relatives or friends.

If we are going to change the fortunes and the futures of the African-American communities not just in Wisconsin but in every other state, we need to make sure they have access to the jobs that are available in all segments of the market--the rest will have to be up to them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


'Tis the season for bad horror movies, and the latest one is the Return of the Debt-Forgivers.  It stars in the role of Dr Frankenstein (that's Frahn-ken-shteen) everyone's favorite evil economist Paul Krugman--who is back demanding that trillions of dollars in debt just be written off to "free up" the economy.  In building his army of deadbeat zombies, Krugman argues in the New York Times that holding people accountable for their debts and financial decisions is nothing more than mean-spirited "righteousness"--and that what the US and the world needs is more deficit spending--both at the governmental and the consumer level to get things "back to normal".

But instead of tasty brains, what Krugman's zombie forces are looking to eat up are the savings of those who actually survived the financial apocolypse (which was caused by way too much consumer and government debt--in case you forgot that) by practicing sound financial strategy.  The Evil Economist has formulated a standard Keynsian plan to just make debt "disappear" by having the Government write off student loans and mortgages for those who chose to get in over their heads.  And since the Government is already 18-trillion in the hole itself, to whom will it have to turn to come up with the money?  Why the people who saved their money before the Great Recession, of course!

Part 2 of the Evil Plan calls for further increases in the monetary supply, continued artificial suppression of interest rates, relaxed borrowing standards in order to increase spending (debt spending in most cases) and to raise the inflation rate.  You see, in Keynsian Economics you never actually pay back your debts.  Instead, you use inflation to de-value the money you owe to the point where whomever lent it to you gets screwed.  Nevermind that inflation also eats away at the average person's buying power as well--we'll just use the power of the government to raise the minimum wage to make it "seem" like you are making more money.  And nevermind that inflation also eats away at any savings that the average person tries to maintain--because we'll just keep adding to Government entitlement programs to provide you with all the "financial security" you need.

One thing that Evil Dr Krugman is right about, is that demanding people pay back their debts is slowing economic recovery.  But an America that lives within its means will mean less likelihood of the financial "bubbles" and "crises" that got us into our current mess.  We can either be patient and get this thing right now--or we can look forward to Return of the Debt-Forgivers Part II in another generation.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Game, Too Bad I Missed It

I hear it was another exciting ending to the National League Championship Series game last night.  I wouldn't know because it happened at almost 11:00 and I need to be in bed for work the next morning.  I couldn't stay up--AND I'M A GIANTS FAN!  I don't get to see a lot of ends to games because the leagues and the networks insist upon starting them so late.  Honestly, I don't see how any sports fans who live in the Eastern Time Zone can stay up to watch any major sporting event--since they all start at 8:00--and sometimes even 9:00 in their area.

For baseball this is especially damaging since there is no clock to give you a fairly consistent time of play.  Most basketball games are done in two to two and a half hours.  Hockey is two-and-a half to three.  Football is stretching out again to three to three and a quarter hours.  But you never know what you are going to get with a baseball game.  Both pitchers could work quickly and you could be done in two and a half hours.  Or you could get the three-hours-41-minutes that we got with the Giants and Cardinals last night.  Perhaps that is why the average age of a person watching a baseball broadcast is over fifty.  That means a lot of retirees--who don't have any reason to be up early the next day.  Although, I get the feeling that many of those folks are really just sleeping in front of the TV.

The idea that big sporting events need to start in the Prime Time TV window in all parts of the county is outdated and antiquated in modern society.  When there was just one outlet to watch the game, I can see why you had to start late.  But our viewing habits have changed radically in just the past decade.  Games that start early in the Mountain and Pacific time zones are accessed by millions via computer, tablet and smart phone.  Millions more have DVR's in their homes set to automatically record contests for playback later in the evening (so long as the user remembers to stay off Twitter and disables the score alerts from the ESPN ScoreCenter app).  The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament doesn't seem to suffer from playing half of its games during the day the first two rounds.  Amazingly, everyone seems to know when there has been a huge upset or a buzzer-beater to win--because we are all watching in our offices on the sly.  Once Nielsen perfects an "all users/all viewers" measuring system for its ratings, advertisers and networks will hopefully realize that the all-important "after 8:00 Eastern" time frame isn't that important anymore.

A survey released last week showed that people who live in Hawaii get the most sleep of all Americans.  Part of that is due to the fact that their days are pretty much the same length all year round--so it's easier to go to bed at a regular time every night.  Plus, the constant beautiful weather doesn't require you to get in as much work as possible every day before it gets brutally cold or brutally hot.  But the biggest factor might be that nearly all sporting events are done by 8:00 Hawaiian Standard Time.  When my wife and I took our first trip out there, I watched a big Wisconsin-Michigan State basketball game that tipped off at 8:00 Central Time that was done before 6:00 Hawaiian time.  For Islanders, even Thursday and Monday Night Football are done by 7:00.  No wonder those folks can get so much sleep.

And so could the rest of us if they would just start the games at a decent hour.


Friday, October 10, 2014

The New Media Problem

Local police and sheriff's departments are turning to social media sites more frequently for the release of their information.  Releases that used to be sent to those of us in the "old media"--Radio, TV and print--are now posted on-line for everyone to see.  Supporters of the practice say it allows for "faster" notification of the public.  And some say that it "removes any filters" from coverage of incidents that law enforcement has to deal with (not that I can think of any "spin" the media tried to put on car crashes and armed robberies).

But not having the "filter" of the traditional media is creating some problems for these departments.  Those problems are created by the unfiltered comments of "internet trolls".  Some members of the Appleton City Council are upset by what they are seeing on their police department's Facebook page on a regular basis.  Criminal arrest reports are often followed by snarky, insulting and downright racist comments about those who have been taken into custody.  You also have cases of people making wild accusations that--because of the forum--get equal billing with the actual facts of a case.

Those Appleton aldermen question whether suspect's names and mugshots should be posted--since in many cases no criminal charges have been filed--and it's possible that person could be released without ever being charged.  Identification of a suspect is always a difficult issue.  The Associated Press has a policy of never identifying a person arrested until they are charged.  I have a policy that does include names in our stories if they are provided by authorities--since anyone can go to the Police Station and request a copy of the incident report with that person's name in it. 

The problem with the police social media postings is that everything that follows it because a tacit endorsement of the city or the county itself.  If someone wants to start an "Oshkosh Crime" Facebook page and allow racist comments about every story posted--that's one thing.  But when the forum has the City of Oshkosh or City of Appleton name on the banner, that is not acceptable.

The departments themselves usually have one person--the Public Information Officer--in charge of their social media presence.  And those people do the best they can to moderate the on-line exchanges.  But they can't be on the site 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.  And do we really want the police policing Facebook and Twitter anyway?  They have far more important things to deal with--like people enjoying the Fall Downtown Pub Crawl.

It may behoove the police and sheriff's departments to keep the light-hearted "Coffee with a Cop" stuff for their social media presence--and let the "Old School Media" continue to handle the heavy stuff.  That way, you don't have to see the emails and hear the phone calls I get about the "people who are taking over this area".

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Voice of Her Generation

By now you may have heard about "Angela in Neenah"--a woman who has become an internet sensation with her YouTube rant about Bath & Body Works not having the candles that she was trying to buy. 

While everyone is laughing about "az4angela"s zero-to-crazy-and-back-again diatribe, to me, she has become the Voice of Her Generation.  Much like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Kurt Kobain before her, "Angela" perfectly encapsulates in video prose that which disturbs today's twenty and thirty-somethings the most: they can't get all of the "stuff" they want.

You see a lot of "Angelas" around Christmas shopping time.  They are the ones interviewed by the local news channel that sent their morning reporter to WalMart or Best Buy for the Black Friday doorbusters that were sold out by the time they finally got through the door and back to that department.  They are angry and bitter people who wonder why companies would "lie to them" about having $25 tablets or a large enough supply of "Elsa from Frozen Singing Dolls".  Don't those evil corporations know that we have a "right" to get that stuff?

I do have to give "Angela" some credit, at least she didn't dial 911 to complain about Bath & Body Works not having the candles they promised her.  We have heard plenty of those "emergencies"--as the general belief has become that Government intervention is necessary to get you everything that you want--whether that be Chicken McNuggets at the McDonald's drive-thru at two in the morning or pot that you thought you were buying from the guy on the street corner but that actually turned out to be oregano.

By the way, there is a follow up video to "Anglea's" original rant--and that further cements her place as a modern cultural hero.  In that one, "Angela" boasts that she actually gets PAID to post video reviews of candles (and of her guinea pigs).

Yes, "Angela" considers it one of her "jobs" to buy, collect and smell candles--and to let a breathless American audience know what she thinks about them.  I bet that really makes all of those unemployed MBA graduates feel good about their business acumen doesn't it?

So rant away "Angela in Neenah".  While the rest of us may ridicule you in the comments section below your video posts, it's only because you remind us--in a profane and disturbing way--of what we as a culture have become.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The People Who Run This Country

Did you hear the one about the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve who tried to re-finance his mortgage and was turned down because his credit wasn't good enough?  This isn't a joke, this is what actually happened to former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.  Bernanke says he went down to the corner bank, applied for a new mortgage and was told that loan could not be approved.

Taking a look at Bernanke's financials, one has to wonder why he needs to refinance a mortgage--or why he even has a mortgage at the age of 60.  He made $1.2-million in salary while serving as Fed Chair for six years.  In addition, he makes a reported quarter-million dollars for each speaking engagement--including the one in Chicago where he admitted to the re-financing failure.  And Bernanke received a reported million bucks in a book deal to publish his memoirs.  So why can't he pay off the $672,000 he borrowed to re-finance his house FOR A SECOND TIME in 2011? 

The conforming FHA loan limit for Washington DC--where Bernanke's house is located--is $625,000.  That means in the past three years, Bernanke has failed to pay down his principal by at least $47,000 in order to qualify for the re-fi.  So I'll ask again, someone who makes a quarter-million dollars just to speak for an hour or so and a million dollars just to write a single book can't pay off that amount either?

Or is it possible that Bernanke has such a poor credit score that he can't qualify for a loan?  Lenders are currently looking for scores of 675 or above before they will approve a re-fi.  That is one of the lessons learned from the bursting of the housing bubble: People who tend not to pay back other debts are likely not to pay back their mortgage either.  Is it possible that the man who fully encouraged Government and citizen deficit spending is in way too far over his head as well?

Now Bernanke is taking none of the blame for his loan fiasco personally.  In the same speech he blamed--of course--the lenders for being too tight with their money.  Now if I'm not mistaken, Mr Bernanke was among the chorus of Washington hypocrites who at first admonished lenders for not giving mortgages to high-risk borrowers (denying them the "American Dream")--and then took those same banks and financial institutions to task for giving out high-risk mortgages and using derivatives to try and lessen the risk of default.  Now, he says they are "too tight" for not taking on the same stupid risks again.

So the next time you wonder how we got to $18-trillion in Federal deficits, taxpayer losses on corporate bailouts and high numbers of foreclosures (despite Government efforts to float deadbeat owners as much as possible) just remember the personal financial situations of those who helped get us here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Another Lesson Learned

With the Supreme Court's non-decision decision to not hear Wisconsin's appeal of a lower court's ruling overturning the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, another lesson is learned about the importance of separating Church and the State.

Much of the problem that led to the years of legal fights, the improper use of our State Constitution to ban someone from doing something and plenty of people saying and doing regrettable things is founded in the early days of the country when the decision was made to use the religious rite of "marriage" as a legal term.  We don't keep state records of baptisms, confessions, communion, confirmation or funerals--but "marriages" have been recognized and regulated since our founding as a nation.

But just think if those early American clerks had said "you know what, a marriage is a really a religious entity--what we are actually permitting is a legal partnership.  Maybe we should use a non-religious term for that."  And we could have had the Government Sanctioned Partnership license issued by counties and states--rather than "marriage licenses".  That way people who performed their nuptials would have been "married" in the eyes of the Church--and "partners" in the eyes of the law.

And then 200-plus years later, when same-sex couples decided they wanted the same legal rights and protections granted to heterosexual Government Sanctioned Partners (as clearly granted by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution) those who view homosexuality as an abomination wouldn't have had the Biblical argument to make that a "GSP is clearly stated as being between one man and one woman".  They could then turn their vitriol toward different churches that were conducting same-sex "marriages" in the kind of battle that Jonathan Swift pilloried with his war between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscuans over how to properly break an egg in Gulliver's Travels.

Oh, and speaking of wars, just wait until the first same-sex couple demands that they be "married" in a Catholic or Evangelical Church--as they have done with Christian bakers and florists--and takes that fight to court.  That will make the Hobby Lobby Case look like a spitball fight.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Long Break Down

So we have a relatively small band of Islamic Terrorists running around kidnapping Americans and other Westerners and beheading them, guys jumping the fence at the White House and running deep inside the building with no action taken by the Secret Service and we have Ebola virus now in the United States.  Not exactly the kind of situtations that instill great confidence in your Government recognizing threats and doing something about them quickly and efficiently.  And that is what likely led to this classic George Will diatribe Sunday on Fox News Channel:

Will: “Government is not competent. Frankly it’s not competent under Republicans or Democrats because it is always a monopoly and monopolies are not disciplined by market forces that are connected with reality. Teasing this segment, you asked “can we have faith in government?” I think we have much more to fear from excessive faith in government than from too little faith in government. You asked “can we trust the government to do its job?” What isn’t its job these days? I’ve just made a list. It’s fine-tuning the curriculum of our students k-12, monitoring sex on campuses, deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks, it’s designed our light bulbs, and it’s worried sick over the name of the Washington football team. Now this is a government that doesn’t know when to stop.”

“The distilled essence of progressivism is that government is a benign, disinterested force, that’s false, and that it’s stuffed with experts, really gifted at doing things. Republicans do this also. Democrats do it on domestic policy. Republicans brought us nation building, regime change. A common theme is the excessive faith in the skills of government.”

Of course, because this was on a Sunday morning news program, there was no further discussion of how Government might actually become a more responsive and effective entity--it was just on to the next panelist's talking points.  But perhaps its time that we have a little "national discussion" about how we stop having to ask "Who is in charge of this, and why haven't they been fired yet?"

George Will is correct, our Government tries to do too much, with too many departments and too much money.  Perhaps it's a good thing that discussion was held on Fox News because if it was on ABC or NBC there would have been a panelist ready to offer up the creation of a new Department of Government Oversight--complete with new employees, managers, department heads and a huge budget--that would replicate the work of 15 other departments in Washington--all in the name of "improving efficiency".

What do you say we demand that our government do a handful of things really well before allowing it to give itself more duties that it can't handle.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lost Behind the Scenes

If Mary Burke goes on to lose the election for Governor in 4 and a half weeks.  Her Democratic supporters will likely say "She was the better candidate, she just ran a bad campaign."  And for a change, they will be half-right.  As the race enters the home stretch, the Burke campaign has committed a series of probably fatal blunders.

I've already addressed the cut and paste Jobs Plan snafu.  But somebody in that campaign should also have been coaching up Burke on how to better handle the questions that would follow about plagiarism.  That press conference where Burke did not have a clear (and blame deflecting) answer to "What is your definition of plagiarism then?" just added more fuel to fire.  The ad for Governor Scott Walker where Burke initially has the look of someone just caught having sex in a public place and then stammering something nonsensical is the envy of every campaign advertising manager across the country.  And given that it will be shown about half-a-million times will drive home its point with the handful of "undecided" voters here in Wisconsin.

Another failure behind the scenes was revealed this week as we learned that the Burke camp did no research into a Neenah man's claim that his daughter decided to take a teaching job in the Twin Cities instead of in the Neenah schools because of Act Ten.  No one called the Neenah School District to confirm anything the father said--and eventually, the District asked Burke (in a very public manner--issuing a press release) to stop telling the Neenah story because she didn't have her facts straight.  Someone with knowledge of the situation told us at WOSH that the daughter actually has a boyfriend who lives in the Twin Cities area and THAT is why she took the job over there.

Then to add insult to injury, it turns out that the woman's father has convictions on his record for lying to the police and not paying taxes.  I'm sure that this man likely did tell Burke early in the campaign--when the candidates are speaking to much smaller groups in more intimate settings--that his daughter left the state because of Act Ten.  But someone in the campaign needed to say at that time "hey, let's just double check this before we let Mary start using it in her boilerplate speech."  The desperation to have some story about the "negatives" of Act Ten must have overwhelmed the good sense to verify--and avoid the embarrassment caused by having to completely backtrack on yet another major campaign talking point.

Parsing job creation numbers had allowed the Burke campaign to be on the offensive early in the race--but the mis-steps of the past month or so have put them on the defensive.  But unlike in football, in politics a great defense doesn't win championships.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bad For the Game

I know many of you are excited for tonight's Packers-Vikings game at Lambeau Field.  A nationally-televised, prime-time game against a division rival.  You've taken a half-day of vacation at work because you want to get an early start on tailgaiting in the parking lot--and you've taken all of tomorrow off because you are getting an early start on tailgaiting this afternoon.  You've set the DVR to record the game just in case CBS shows you with your Cheesehead, facepaint, green and gold beads and big G sunglasses on TV.  I just hope you don't expect to see a good game.

While the Thursday night package of games has been a ratings winner for CBS and NFL Network--they have been huge losers for fans tuning in.  The average score of these Thursday games this season has been 41-13.  And with the exception of the Steelers-Ravens game in Week 2--you could have turned them off at halftime without having to worry about missing anything--because those games were over early.

The players hate these Thursday games.  I always like to say that if the average person played in an NFL game, they would spend the next week in the hospital.  But here we are expecting these guys to turnaround and play two games in the space of five days.  It's too hard, and the results on the field reflect that.

Coaches hate these games.  If it was up to most NFL head men, they would play one game a month so that they could spend 500-hours breaking down tape and installing their gameplans.  Thursday night leaves them almost no time for scouting and scheming (although some of the gameplan is often installed the week before--meaning squads practice for two teams in the same week).

And not all fans are keen on the Thursday contests either.  Some of us do go to work quite early the next morning--so the second halves of prime-time games are usually something of a mystery to us because we are in bed.  Plus, that's one less game that NFL Redzone Channel can switch us to on Sunday.

But CBS was willing to pony up a ton of cash to get these Thursday night games--and if the product stinks, who cares?  As I mentioned before, the ratings for the games have been huge (although usually for just the first half).  And the guys who have every player on both teams in their fantasy leagues are going to tune in regardless of the score because it doesn't matter if Jordy Nelson catches ten passes for 150-yards and two touchdowns in a winning effort or a losing effort for the Packers--his "more important role" is scoring points for Bob's Illadelphia Feagles as he tries to beat Jim's Aaron Hernandez's Posse.

I don't understand how with all of the computer programs out there, that the NFL can't give teams playing on Thursdays a bye the week before.  That would go for the teams that play the Thanksgiving games as well (which have been anything but competitive the last few seasons too).  That way teams would be playing one game in the space of 14-days--instead of two in five, followed by ten days off.  I guess the League has more important things to think about right now.  Like how to find a couple of other networks to fork over billions of dollars for Tuesday Night Football...and Wednesday Night Football....And Friday Night Football.....

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Never Mind the Real Threats

In the past few weeks, Earth had a close encounter with an asteroid--which was not detected by scientists until a few days before it passed closer to the planet than the Moon--we've had major vocanic eruptions in Iceland and in Japan, and we've had our first "domestic" case of the Ebola virus.  And yet, what was deemed the "greatest threat to humanity" at the United Nations General Assembly last week?  Of course, Global Climate Change.

Now I can understand dismissing the threat to humanity from volcanic activity.  I don't think man will ever be able to develop technology to prevent magma from coming to the surface through the Earth's crust--or to even control its release so as not to threaten human population centers.  But having serious conversations about vulcanology and plate tectonics would kind of ruin the narrative of climate change alarmists by pointing out that Mother Nature is actually the biggest producer of greenhouse gases on the planet.  Unfortunately, you can't tax a volcano or make it buy carbon credits--and you can't just ban the super-volcano that sits below Yellowstone National Park--whose eventual eruption will pretty much spell the end of life on North America for a few thousand years.

But there are things we can do to address the other two clear and present dangers that were made evident recently.  Asteroid detection and avoidance is a woefully underfunded effort.  We can only scan small sections of the sky for potential threats--and even if we did detect a rock big enough to cause serious damage--we don't have a plan nor the technology to mitigate the threat.  We'd probably be more committed to that effort if it didn't require the so-called "Military-Industrial Complex" to solve it.  Many of the weapons production companies would be the ones to develop the technology and build the equipment that would be needed to first detect an incoming asteroid or comet and then go into space to deflect it onto a new course.  Unless someone can come up with a giant "Space Windmill" to "blow" the asteroid off course.

And then there is the viral threat.  We humans have managed to ward off nature's attempt to exterminate us a few times before. The plague, polio, smallpox, and AIDS have either been wiped out or greatly curtailed by continued advances in medical treatment and global immunization efforts.  So Ebola really shouldn't scare us that much.  But to continue to stay one step ahead of fast-mutating viruses we need big bio-medical corporations, genetic modification research programs and pharmaceutical companies with the capacity to mass produce vaccines and antibiotics.  Unfortunately, those are all the businesses that are endlessly targeted by the left for their own form of "extermination".

So I guess we can either put all of our time and money into fighting a "problem" that for some reason can only be solved by limiting the growth of the American economy and reducing our standards of living--or we can get to work on addressing the real threats to our species.  You know, it was almost like the planet was trying to send us a message.........