Thursday, April 30, 2015

He Has No Chance

I had to chuckle yesterday as pundits wondered if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the man to stop the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for President.  They cited his status as an "Independent" in Washington (although he votes in lock-step with Democrats on nearly all issues), his being a "real liberal and progressive" and his expected platform of "fighting income inequality" as reasons he could be a "credible threat" to the Clinton Political Machine.  But let's be honest, Bernie Sanders has no chance.

First off, Sanders is not a media darling.  He's not on Meet the Press every couple of weeks.  Rachel Maddow doesn't quote his speeches every ten minutes.  And he hasn't really given the press anything to talk about constantly for 25-years.  There are no sordid affairs, no comments captured on secret recordings that required a public apology, no deleted emails and no fiery speeches at previous political conventions to replay over and over again.

Secondly, he is not going to be able to raise anywhere near the cash needed to challenge Clinton in a meaningful way--even in small states like Iowa and New Hampshire to gain early momentum.  Let's remind everybody that the Clinton Machine plans to raise and spend $2.5 BILLION--and they have the financial backers and connections (both domestic and international) to reach that goal.  Bernie Sanders has railed against big money campaigns for decades, so what makes you think that he is going to put together the apparatus necessary to take on the Clinton Cash Machine?  You have to admit that it's a bit ironic that in order to get big money out of politics you need to bring in big money in order to get elected just so you can try to have the conversation.

And finally, Bernie Sanders isn't cool.  Democratic politics today is the Cult of Personality.  If you're not female, gay, transgender, black, Hispanic, an admitted pot smoker or already a famous person, it's not "cool" to vote for you.  Democrats want to elect "firsts" because they think that is "making a difference" and "being more inclusive".  Bernie Sanders is an old, white guy.  We've had old, white guy Presidents already--what's "historic" about electing another one?  Does he hang out with Jay Z and Beyoncé?  Are there pictures of him shooting hoops with Lebron James?  Because that is the kind of thing you need to do to win over the hearts and minds of today's young voters.  And do you think the people who were rioting and burning down stores in Ferguson and Baltimore are going to line up on Election Day to put Bernie Sanders in the White House just because he talks about taking from the rich and giving to the poor?  Good luck with that.

So let Senator Sanders have his 15-minutes in the spotlight during his news conference today--because unless he plans to hop in a van and eat lunch at Chipotle afterwards--he is going to be an after-thought by minute 16.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lessons on Fairness

I can certainly understand the anger and frustration that continues to come from the men on the two sports teams that are being eliminated by UW-Oshkosh in what the school is calling a "response to state budget cuts".  I can also sympathize with the supporters of those sports who want to take an active role and raise money to help save them.  But unfortunately, those athletes and boosters have to learn a hard lesson about what passes for "fairness" in today's society.

The first lesson to be learned is that those in a position of strength must be cut down to "make things fair".  When UWO officials announced the elimination of just men's soccer and men's tennis they added at the very end of the presentation that it will "help with Title IX compliance".  That means barring the complete elimination of inter-collegiate sports at Oshkosh, all men's programs are in jeopardy--and all women's programs are safe--even if interest in those sports is lacking.  I say that because I have been at the same driving range as the open tryouts for the UWO women's golf team--which were needed just to fill out a six-person squad.  And it was not good--as it appeared many of the potential players had never been involved in competitive golf before.  But because of the interpretation of Title IX as meaning "the same number of spots for women as for men", that team is safe no matter how hard it is to find viable members--while men's soccer (which has to cut guys every year) has to go by the wayside.

Meanwhile, those trying to put together the fundraising for saving the sports independent of the school itself are getting the cold shoulder from Administration.  In fact, officials went out of their way at the initial press conference to discourage any such efforts with the claim that you can't run a program on the hope of coming up with outside funds every year--no matter how much you raise.  But the real reason--and the lesson those alumni apparently didn't learn during their time in Oshkosh--is that what is popular with the masses is not always fair.  There will be other cuts made at UWO which just haven't been announced yet.  They may include doing away with some "Cultural Studies" program or perhaps an Assistant Campus Diversity Director position.  How would it look if UWO eliminated these "vital" services and there was NO private fundraising effort to save them?  Or how would it look if there was a fundraising effort and it raised SQUADOOSH? How would that make the handful of people affected by those cuts "feel"?  And how would they "feel" when they hear about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that men's soccer and men's tennis was able to raise to avoid the same fate?  I'd bet they would "feel" pretty bad about themselves and need to drop out of school because of it.

We here in the private sector complain all the time about college graduates who come out not having learned a thing.  It looks like some soon-to-be-former tennis and soccer players will be leaving Oshkosh having learned what "fairness" is all about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Real Victims

I have to give the rioters and looters of Baltimore some credit, they did manage to elicit some sympathy from me during their rampage last night.  Oh, I don't feel sorry for them--portraying themselves as "oppressed people acting out in the only way they can".  They are common thugs and thieves hiding beneath the veil of "racial disparity" to somehow justify their lawless behavior.

No, I feel sorry for the African-Americans who worked at the businesses the looters robbed and the rioters burned down.  Those people were trying to make their way the right way.  Some may have even owned the businesses--providing economic hope for others in their community--but yesterday, that was all taken the name of "justice".

And I feel sorry for the elderly African-American folks who got their Medicare Part D prescriptions filled at the CVS Pharmacy that was first stripped of all its drugs--and then set fire to--likely to destroy any evidence of who had been in there.  They probably went to that store because it was close to home or it was on the bus line.  Now they will have to go miles--a difficult trip for them perhaps--to get their pills.  And let's not forget the young Black women getting their free birth control pills through the Affordable Care Act who will likely have to deal with the same men who burned down their drug store insisting they can't wear a condom (even though I'm sure that section was cleaned out immediately after the opiates, narcotics and liquor were).  Do you think CVS is going to rebuild in that neighborhood?  Do you think Rite-Aid or Walgreens saw what happened and are thinking "Hey, this looks like a market opening for us!"  Another vital community service taken away in the name of "effecting social change".

I even felt sorry for the so-called "Community Leaders" and "organizers" who were out there trying to stop the very people they are hoping to build up from destroying what little they had.  CNN showed one guy in a suit initially trying to hold people back--but then getting shoved to the ground by the mob as they moved on.  It must have come as a shock to that guy find out that the "hope and change" that he thought he was building in his community was nothing but a myth.

And as I watched the riot make its way through the streets of the city, I had to wonder why the mob never descends upon the drug houses and burns them down? And why the gangbangers' hangouts aren't looted and robbed of their "ill-gotten goods"?  Why not target the people who take what limited resources these communities of color have and "redistribute" them to Mexican drug cartels and weapons traffickers in other metropolitan locations--  and who replace those resources with suffering and crime and death and misery?  It's probably because those involved in the very activities that destroy Black neighborhoods in every city across this country were the ones out there on the streets mugging for the cameras and blaming the police and politicians and "the whites" for "keeping them down".

Monday, April 27, 2015

Another Reason to Weep for our Future

Last night, ESPN2--which purports itself to be a "sports" network--presented live coverage of college students playing video games.  Deemed "Heroes of the Dorm", the broadcast featured teams from Cal-Berkeley and Arizona State battling in some kind of role-playing game called Heroes of the Storm for an actual "National Championship".  It even featured a play-by-play man and a color commentator to "break down" the action.  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future of "sports" in America.

 It is now just a matter of time before all of the "live" events that we have come to know and love as fans will be replaced by "digital experiences".  Why risk concussions and other injuries on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field when tiny pixelated men of Madden NFL 2025 can collided over and over again on a TV monitor and never "actually" get hurt.  (Sidenote: I have suggested having the Pro Bowl played on Madden since none of the "real" players put any effort into the contest--but this is an exhibition game.)  No more " genetic advantage"  for those blessed with above average height, weight, speed, strength, motor skills, dexterity, reaction times or spatial recognition.  All the "superstars" of tomorrow will need is quick thumbs and fast processers.

Overbearing sports parents are probably already drilling their kids to spend 12-hours a day playing Heroes of the Storm, to perfect their fire bomb aiming or spell casting or shape-shifting to be on the next "National Championship" contest on ESPN.  "But, Dad, I want to play outside!" "You will sit in front of that computer until you get better at arrow up, B button, rapid fire, X cross control or you will never see the outside of this house again!"  I can't wait for the first story about the video hockey Dad that takes his anger at his son's poor performance out on a Playstation 15--berating it for the entire game and then taking it out in the parking lot to destroy in front of all the other video hockey parents.

And think of all the "sports" records that will likely fall in our children's lifetimes.  Gnarls Barkley--created by some 12-year old gamer with the screen name "PlayaHayta"--will eclipse Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA scoring record in just three weeks of continuous "season mode" play of NBA 2K40.  Hank Aaron's legitimate home run mark will be bested in a month by "Shaq Wilson" as 36-year old "GrateLuvah" dominates MLB the Show while playing in his mother's basement.  And the Augusta National scoring record of 63 will be demolished by "Shooter McGavin" who will make an amazing four holes in one and three double eagles in the final round of "The Masters of Video Golf" brought to you with limited commercial interruption by EA Sports on CBS--a tradition like no other.

Like the dinosaurs that once ruled the earth, the era of the "real athlete" is coming to an end.  But instead of a big, fat asteroid crashing into the earth to bring their demise, it will be big, fat nerd sitting on their couches.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Soul of the Game

How much should a sport change in order to attract new audiences?  I ask this after watching Chris Rock talk about why African-Americans have turned their backs on baseball in this month's episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel:

I've broached this subject in the past--when much was being made about Mo'ne Davis being the first African-American girl to pitch in the Little League World Series--and in the success of the Jackie Robinson West team out of Chicago that won the US Championship (only to have that title stripped when it was discovered that the team had recruited players from other leagues outside of its district and the Championship was awarded to an all-white Las Vegas team amid charges of racism.)  But that was about efforts baseball makes to bring the game to inner city minorities.  What Chris Rock is talking about is turning baseball into a Hip Hop sideshow--where the game itself is of secondary importance.

If you've tuned into an NBA game recently you may have noticed the almost-constant stream of music, beats, high energy dancers, flashing lights and public address announcers yelling at the top of their lungs.  The Bucks took ten minutes to introduce their starting lineups last night--amid a video presentation and pyrotechnics on the floor.  It was like the game was a letdown after that much hype in the pre-game.  There are 162 regular season games in baseball.  Do you expect people to get that excited every day for six months?

And isn't Chris Rock making the kind of generalities that we (whites) are warned not to make about African-Americans?  That they can't pay attention to something for more than a few minutes at a time?  That they need to have music blasting all the time?  That they need to be loud and demonstrative all the time?  All time baseball greats like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith all played with a flair that made them standout--without self-aggrandizement every time they caught a routine fly ball, struck out a batter or doubled down the line.

Everything is life is cyclical, and it will be just a matter of time before everyone--including African-Americans--come back to baseball--if for no other reason to than to enjoy two and a half hours of peace and quiet so they can focus on a game.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ain't Got Time For That

I've talked in the past about how Oshkosh is "Too Many Events City".  But that was from the perspective of the drain on city resources--as major happenings strained police officers by making it difficult to schedule vacations and forcing everyone to work overtime to man barricades and direct traffic.  But having so many things going on all summer long affects those trying to put on the events themselves.

Take for instance the uncertain future the Oshkosh Mayors Breakfast now faces--as many of the volunteer coordinators no longer have time to serve on the event's committee.  For me, the Mayor's breakfast is the highlight of Airventure week--as it gets us out of our dark Quonset hut studio on the EAA grounds for a morning--and I get fed a hot breakfast that day.  Plus it gives us a chance to meet with some of our listeners every year.

If you brought someone from the past into the present, they would probably be amazed by how packed all of our schedules are in modern society.  I notice this with my friends who "check in" on Facebook.  They are constantly at their kids' sports practices, dance recitals, plays, band concerts or driving them to and from such events.  My wife and I just spent last night planning out all but two weekends for the entire summer with our own events--and we don't even have kids to fill out our calendars.

It's doubtful that we are going to slow down our hectic paces anytime soon.  So the competition for our time will continue--until we all run out of time to give--and at that point, great events like the Mayors Breakfast will go away.  It reduces the quality of life here in Oshkosh--but we'll probably be too busy to notice.

I'd love to talk about this more--but I've got to run and do news on three other stations...........

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Hypocrisy Day!!

Let me be the first to wish you a happy Hypocrisy Day!  You thought this was Earth Day?  Well actually it is, but it also serves as the day when those who claim to be the biggest supporters of "protecting the planet" show that they are all talk and no constructive action.

The Grand Marshall of this year's Hypocrisy Day parade and celebration is none other than Bill Nye, "The Science Guy".  Somehow, Bill has become the face of Climate Change Hysteria in America.  He is MSNBC's go-to guy whenever the topic comes up for discussion--and he seems to be best buds with President Obama--making several appearances at the White House during the past six years--again to drum up support for anti-business, climate change initiatives.

And that is where Bill Nye--and President Obama--show their hypocrisy today.  Nye tweeted out last night:

Bill Nye (@BillNye)
Heading down to DC to catch an #EarthDay flight on Air Force One tomorrow with the President. We're going to #ActOnClimate.

Based on his Twitter timeline, The Science Guy was in Boston over the weekend serving as a host for an awards banquet.  Given that he lists Los Angeles as his home, that was a pretty lengthy flight that Nye took to get there.  Given the timeline, he probably didn't have time to bike from Boston to DC to join the President today--and I get the feeling that Bill Nye doesn't ride Amtrak. 

Once Bill gets to Washington, he and President Obama--along with fewer than 100 other people will fly to South Florida in a 747 that environmentalists say emits 90 kilograms of carbon dioxide an hour during operations and that costs taxpayers $180-thousand an hour.  Perhaps Bill is along in case there is a problem with the hydraulic system on board the plane during the flight--since he helped design it while working for Boeing.

Once arriving in South Florida, the President, Nye, the Secret Service and others will then get into a convoy of armored SUV's to drive to the Everglades National Park to give a one-hour presentation before piling back into the SUV's to drive back to the airport and fly back to Washington DC.  And since the President isn't going to the Everglades to talk to the alligators, other "friends of the Earth" will be driving to the event as well (since there is no public transportation to a giant swamp) as will the myriad media outlets--all idling their vans in the parking area so they can send back their live video feeds.

It seems to me that the same exact message could be delivered to the same exact audience of "Earth Lovers" by using internet video conferencing from the Oval Office and Bill Nye's "home laboratory" in LA.  You could even splice in some high-definition footage of the Everglades to help make your point--without such a huge "carbon footprint".  But I guess you need to burn a lot of carbon to convince people not to burn a lot of carbon. #HYPOCRISY

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


After spending yesterday listening to ads on some of our own radio stations running commercials brazenly promoting "4/20" sales on drug paraphernalia, and after watching news reports on thousands of people gathering in cities across the country to smoke marijuana in the open, and after seeing thousands of tweets from celebrities and political activists celebrating their pot smoking, I have to wonder: When is Responsible Adults Day?  You know, the day when we all celebrate the shrinking percentage of Americans who abide by the law, get to work every day that we are scheduled to, keep our children out of trouble, and who don't need to get high to "deal with stress", or "take the edge off" or "self-medicate". 

Instead of big rallies in public squares, Responsible Adults Day would be marked in offices and factories across the country with bonuses for those who didn't miss any days because their kids (not them) were sick, who had the highest productivity levels, and who didn't need a supervisor watching over them every minute of the day to make sure they were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing.  Schools could honor parents who made sure their kids made it to class every day, were respectful to teachers and other students, and who made sure homework was done before playing video games, chatting on-line with friends or watching TV.

Businesses could get in on the Responsible Adults Day celebration too.  Car dealerships could offer special pricing for "cash only" purchases on quality used vehicles.  Restaurants could offer entrée specials that are between 500 and 700-calories for affordable prices.  Bars could do 2-for-1 specials with a limit of two drinks--since any more than that and you are risking impairment behind the wheel (although, you probably had a designated driver anyway--and you work tomorrow, so you are getting plastered tonight).

And then I started thinking about when to hold Responsible Adults Day.  April 15th--Tax Day--came to mind first, because what is more responsible than making sure that you are part of the 53% who still pay federal income taxes?  July 20th would also make a good date--since that is the anniversary of the Moon Landing in 1969--accomplished by a lot of people who didn't spend entire days smoking marijuana and who only had non-Common Core-compliant slide rules to do computations and who had about the same amount of computing power to use as it takes us to post a tweet on Twitter on our smartphones today.

But I've decided upon today--April 21st--as the perfect date for Responsible Adults Day--as it will stand in stark juxtaposition with the day before it--4/20--and everything that it is coming to represent.  Besides, it will be very easy to determine who should be celebrating today.  We will be the ones without the red, glassy eyes and who don't smell like we just spent the last five hours battling a brush fire.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tell Us What You Really Think, Chief

I'm going to cede more of my time today to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn--who went off--machine gun style--on pretty much everyone associated with Wisconsin politics and advocates of "restorative justice" during his appearance this weekend on Upfront With Mike Gousha:

While Chief Flynn is already getting plenty of guff from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke about his gun control statements, Conservatives are not going to be his greatest hurdle to clear in cleaning up his city.  It will be the Left that blocks every effort to get guns off the streets--along with those who commit gun crimes.  Is it the Milwaukee Police Department's fault that the vast majority of gun crimes in the city are committed by people of color?  It will certainly be portrayed that way by protesters who will cite the arrest and conviction numbers if there is a real crackdown on gun offenders--and if judges comply with Flynn's additional request to sentence those violators to longer prison sentences to keep them off the streets.

So until Milwaukeeans themselves want an end to gun violence--and the consequences that will be necessary to achieve that end--they can just continue to dodge the crossfire between their protests and their marches.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Depths of Absurdity

If you have spent any time on the internet in the past six years you have probably seen the banner ads that claim "Obama signs mortgage relief bill" or "Obama lowers rates for all borrowers".  You may have been tempted to click on those to see if you "qualify" for that "amazing Government offer".  Well banks in some European countries can now start running their own click-through ads claiming that "We will pay you to borrow our money".  But unlike the Obama scams, this offer is--sadly--real.

In one of the most perverse economic moves in human history, some European banks now have to pay people whom they lent money for mortgages.  The lucky borrowers signed notes tied to a key interest rate charged between banks in the European Union.  That rate is now approaching zero (as Eurozone members try to devalue the massive amounts of debt that they and their citizens all owe--while also trying to convince people to take on even more debt to "stimulate" the economy) and as it does, those that borrowed at "below-Prime" rates are looking at a negative APR.  Because no one is really sure how this is going to work, the assumption is that the banks will be forced to decrease the balance of the loan by the negative interest rate each month.

This also sets up the likelihood that those same banks will have to charge depositors interest to keep their money in a savings account!  This is like Bizzaro world in the Superman comics where everything is backwards, light is dark, good is evil and the sun rises in the West.  As anyone with basic math skills would tell you, if people aren't keen on the idea of having to pay to save money and they just keep their cash at home, the banks have very limited futures ahead of them--since their revenue stream is about to dry up.

But that is where we are in our screwed up, debt-based global economy today.  Those that blow through everything they have--and beyond are finding more and more rewards.  While those of us who try to act responsibly with our money keep getting the shorter and shorter end of the stick.  It's also why we should be alarmed every time we hear someone say that the "Government needs to do something to fix the economy", because artificially low interest rates, increased currency production and continuing to take from those who save to give to those who spend through "re-distribution" are about the only ways Government can "fix" things (short of major wars where Government production becomes the economy). 

Because there is far less bank regulation here in the US, the odds of negative interest rates for mortgages and savings accounts are far less likely--but I'm sure more than a few of those "advocacy" groups for student loan borrowers and those that were given mortgages that they could not afford during the housing bubble will be pushing the Obama Administration to "follow the lead of Europe" and make things "fair" for those got in over their heads "through no fault of their own".

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chasing the Trends

One of the problems with government today is that it is slow to react and often lags behind societal trends.  I'm reminded of that as I hear more leaders talk about Young Professionals Week and how cities need to "change to attract Millennials". 

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are "all in" on the belief that today's twenty and thirty-somethings are all about living downtown.  That the future of American life is renting high-rise apartments, working in high-rise offices, riding streetcars everywhere, going to downtown farmers markets twice a week and having quirky shops lining the downtown streets.  And to achieve this "Millennial Mecca" both are willing to invest millions of taxpayer dollars to dedicate all urban planning efforts toward meeting the whims of these young professionals.

But there is a problem with trying to chase the latest trends among the youth.  They tend to change their minds--often--about a lot of things.  When you are in your twenties or early thirties and you aren't married and you don't have kids, being "in the heart of the action" is rather appealing.  You don't have kids or dogs that need to play outside, the "entertainment district" is where you want to be--looking for an endless good time and a quick "hook up".

But once you have the spouse, and the kid and the dog, being in a high-rise apartment with little space, privacy or freedom isn't so appealing anymore.  You kind of want a lawn, and a garage that leads right into the house, and not having to take an elevator to get the mail, and you would prefer not to hear the sirens of police cars and ambulances all night, or the yells of the people you used to hang out with at the clubs as they wander around drunk after bar time.  And suddenly, the suburbs where Mom and Dad raised you look far more appealing.

And for those that buck that trend, their kids visit Grandma and Grandpa and realize how quiet things are out in the 'burbs.  And how you can ride a bike across the street without having to worry about being run over--and that there are parks and yards to play right outside of your door and they think "Wow, I can't wait to get out of the city and enjoy this kind of life!"  And when that happens, the cities that spent many years and many millions of dollars focused only on "transforming their downtowns" will see the same urban flight that marked the 80's and the 90's--leaving behind the trendy riverfront condos and the "retro-cool" streetcars empty and rotting in their wake.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Willing To Sacrifice

Later today, fast food workers, convenience store clerks and retail employees will be walking off their jobs in Milwaukee and Madison to attend rallies in support of an increase of the minimum wage.  The protests are being organized by a group called Wisconsin Jobs Now--which is pushing for a $15 and hour minimum wage--more than double the current rate.  During that rally, we will likely hear that everyone who works deserves a "living wage"--regardless of their age, skill set, value of the product made or service provided and performance on the job.  We'll also likely hear about the "sacrifices" that should be made on the consumer end to ensure that things are "fair for all".  Well there are a number of sacrifices I am willing to make if the minimum wage was to ever go to $15 an hour.

First, I am willing to give up fast food.  Let's be honest, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's are all nice for a quick meal--but I could grill up a few extra burgers on the weekend and just as easily bring them with me to work to heat up in the microwave.  If I'm going to pay $10-$12 for a burger, fries and a shake, I'm going someplace better--like Kroll's West, Mihm's or Five Guys.  Perhaps if Mickey D's and the other chains come up with an automated kitchen model (which is in development) and we order and pay at a touch screen, I'd keep going if the prices stay about the same.

I am also willing to get all of my gas at automated pumps.  I can't remember the last time I paid cash for gas.  The only reason I go into the little hut at Fleet Farm is because that is the only way to use the 4-cents off coupon.  If they put a little bar code on the coupon and scanners on the pumps they could probably still give me that discount in the future.  And if I need a soda or a snack while on the road, I can just as easily get them from vending machines next to the pumps as I can from fully-stocked shelves and coolers.

I could also put up with more Self Check Out Lanes at the store.  All I would ask is that they change things so that we don't need "authorization" to use coupons and that they make it easier to bag things up in paper bags--since I'm not a fan of my groceries all rolling around in the back of the Jeep because plastic bags are useless for stacked item.  I also have no problem taking my items off of pallets left on the display floor instead of having everything neatly facing out in the same direction in a display case.

To expand this even more, I'm ok with not having my bedsheets changed every day when I'm staying at a hotel.  I don't change (or make for that matter) the bed at home every day--so why do I need that on the road?  If a sit-down restaurant wants to serve my meal on a heavy plastic plate that we just toss out on the way out the  door--I can live with that.  And if everything can't be open 24-hours a day 365-days a year, I can usually wait until morning to buy whatever I need.

Would all of these "sacrifices" make life a little less convenient?  Sure.  But it's the least that I (and likely hundreds of millions of others) are willing to do to make sure that everyone is paid what they are TRULY "worth".

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Political Gymnastics

Forget the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the greatest gymnastics that you will see next year will be done by Liberals trying to convince themselves to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The contortions have already begun this week with Clinton's on-line video announcement that she is officially continuing the campaign that actually began about ten years ago.  Just check out the comments section below any of the New York Times on-line articles about the former First Lady getting into the race.  They are a long litany of her faults, her vulnerabilities, and her past actions--however, they also almost always end with a big "But......."

Many wonder if Mrs. Clinton really wants to undo many of the measures that her husband put into place.  Would she fight to repeal trade agreements like NAFTA--which the Left blames for the downfall of American manufacturing?  Would she repeal the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act--both endorsed and signed by her husband?  Will she further roll back welfare reforms established during the first Clinton era?

Others decry the Clinton connection to Wall Street and big-money political donors.  The Clinton campaign fund goal is $2.5 BILLION.  A candidate who can even dream of establishing such a fundraising target surely has no interest in eliminating all money from campaigns (well except tax dollars under public financing plans supported by Liberals).

And then there is the Clinton track record in actual public office.  No bills with her name on them during her one term in the Senate.  A vote in favor of the Iraq War. Votes in favor of "too big to fail" Wall Street banks and brokerage bailouts.  Further escalations of Middle East violence during her term as Secretary of State.  And the infamous "I'm going to set up my own email system and then wipe the server clean when people ask to see what's on it" move that popped up earlier this year.

More than a few of the Clinton Complainers wish for another candidate to challenge her in the primary process.  Why can't Elizabeth Warren run, or John Kerry or Corey Booker or even Vice President Joe Biden they ask.  Where is our "new Barack Obama" to be the Anti-Hillary and allow us to not have to hold our nose as we head to the polls early next year.

And then after spending sentence after sentence and paragraph after paragraph tearing down Clinton as a viable candidate (in their eyes), they follow it up with a "But, she'll be better than anyone the Republicans nominate". Or "But, there will likely be at least two Supreme Court appointments coming up in the next four to eight years--and we can't let a Republican choose those justices."  Or "But, she's the only Democrat that can raise the money to win--so we have to give her a chance."

Democrats won't be the only ones finding themselves making excuses to vote for someone next year.  Those of us who are fiscal conservatives and social moderates face the same dilemma on the Republican side as well.  There's nothing like having to make your decision based on the lesser of two evils every four years.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What Makes a Real Winner

Behind the new green jacket owned by new Masters Champion Jordan Spieth, behind the Under Armour clothing head-to-toe, beyond the millions he has won on the course and the millions more he is going to make in the future lies the real reason Spieth is a "major" winner.

It's was mentioned in passing that Jordan has a cognitively-disabled 14-year old sister with whom he is very close.  His parents and those on his "team" have all mentioned how much Ellie keeps Jordan grounded.  How her condition helps to keep what he accomplishes in life in perspective.  As one writer pointed out, she will be as excited about him winning the Masters as she was that he finished second in Houston two weeks ago or when he finished second the week before that in San Antonio.

Saturday was apparently "National Sibling Day" (shout out to my sister, Jenni)--so it was fitting that the child prodigy with the special needs sister that got most of the family's attention was doing so well on such a huge stage.

I wonder how different Tiger Woods would have turned out if he had a sister like Ellie Spieth.  If perhaps Earl Woods would have had to devote time to another child (he does have another son by a different woman--but he was really not much of the Woods family life when Tiger was young) instead of treating Eldrick as God's greatest gift to sport and humanity.

Jordan Spieth is humble to a fault, makes times for fans, doesn't treat media obligations like they are the greatest inconvenience in the world and refers to his elders and some older players on the Tour as "Mister".  Tiger, from the day he turned professional treated opponents, fans and media members as they were beneath him.  Obstacles to block out  or crush on the way to "fulfilling his destiny".  Of course we know what has happened in the past 5 or 6 years that have finally brought some humility to Tiger.  He even signed some autographs at Augusta National last week and it was great to see him interacting with his kids on the driving range and during the Par 3 Contest.

We like to use the term "Born Winner" in sports to describe someone who seems to be great from the first day they step onto the field, the court or the ice.  But as Jordan Spieth has known from the age of seven--and perhaps Tiger Woods is learning know as a middle aged man--you have to learn how to be a real winner.  And sometimes the "teacher" isn't a high-paid coach who yells a lot.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Course Whisperer

Much ado will be made today at The Masters as two-time champion Ben Crenshaw plays his final competitive round in the storied tournament.  Crenshaw is beloved at Augusta National as much for his knowledge of the history of the game as for his emotional win in 1995--which came just days after the death of his long-time instructor Harvey Penick (he of the Little Red Book fame).  But I hope that just as much attention and adulation are paid to the man who has walked beside Crenshaw for nearly every one of his trips around Augusta--his long-time tournament caddie Carl Jackson.

Jackson's story is amazing.  He had to drop out of school at the age of 13 because his mother could no longer afford to buy the school uniforms for him to wear.  He went to work as a caddie at Augusta National and carried his first bag in The Masters at the age of 14.  He first caddied for Crenshaw in 1976 when the club policy was that even the pros had to use the local guys on the bag--instead of their regular caddies during the tournament.  The relationship continued even after the membership started allowing the pros to bring their own caddies--even though they were giving up a huge amount of local knowledge.  And it was Jackson who was there to console the emotional Gentle Ben on the 18th green as he broke down at the end of that '95 win.

Crenshaw is always quick to credit Jackson for his success at Augusta.  He has relied heavily on the caddie to pick out spots on the rolling fairways to hit drives, which small section of the green to aim for on approach shots--even if they aren't close to the hole--and to read the putts on Augusta's lightning-fast and nuanced greens.  Jackson's stature became legendary--he is a sort of "Course Whisperer" with encyclopedic knowledge of every square inch of the property. 

Budding superstar Jordan Spieth has played Masters practice rounds exclusively with Crenshaw and Jackson--and his caddie has spent hours talking with the old looper trying to gain some of that wisdom.  The results so far?  Spieth led midway through the final round of his first Masters last year and ended up finishing second.  And in yesterday's first round of this year's tournament, Spieth finished one off the course record with an 8-under, 64.

Unfortunately, it appears that Carl Jackson will not get to make that final walk around Augusta with Ben Crenshaw today.  Jackson is recovering from prostate cancer surgery--and yesterday was in too much pain to carry the bag.  (His brother, also a life-long caddie at Augusta National handled the duties--and Crenshaw shot a 91.)  But I hope that as the patrons lining all 18-holes give Ben Crenshaw one final standing ovation for all that he has meant to the tournament and to golf as well, they honor the man who walked just a few feet behind for all of those years.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thy Will Be Done....If a Judge Makes Me

Can you remember the last law that was passed that didn't end up in court?  The Affordable Care Act, Act Ten, Voter ID, voter-approved same sex marriage bans and legalization, immigration reform, Right To Work--all of them taken to court, appealed, appealed again and then re-filed in different jurisdictions.  Meanwhile, citizens can't keep track of what is and isn't in effect.  County judges issuing injunctions that are overturned by appeals courts--but then Federal judges issuing injunctions that other Federal judges lift.  All creating the kind of chaos that I don't think the Founding Fathers envisioned when they created the international model for checks and balances in a system of government.

The latest to join in the litany of litigation is Wisconsin State Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson--who didn't even wait for the official canvass of the results of Tuesday's statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment changing the way her position is selected to file a lawsuit.  Abrahamson claims that the new law can't go into effect until her current term is over because....well she doesn't want to give up the position.  And Abrahamson--who should be considered the ultimate expert on the law being Chief Justice and all--has hired some big guns out of Washington to make her case for her.

Abrahamson's suit also seeks to place an injunction on all other members of the Court from taking any legal action to challenge her legal action and to have her removed as Chief Justice.  She adds that she campaigned for re-election in 2009 as Chief Justice--and that people voted for her to be Chief Justice ONLY (even though that title did not appear next to her name on the ballot and the race was not labeled "Chief Justice").  Abrahamson apparently believes that people are not allowed to change their minds about such things either--even though she made the same arguments in discussions about the VOTER-APPROVED ban on same sex marriages that was also in our state constitution that she wanted to overturn in a previously mentioned lawsuit and appeal and appeal.

But to get back to the root issue here, we have gone beyond the use of the court system to prove legal injury with the passage of new laws and have gone into a realm where judges are asked to assume that there will be legal injury to specific parties.  Are there still public sector unions following Act Ten?  They may be smaller and have less money to spend on political campaigns--but that is because employees exercised their right of association (and corresponding right not to associate).  And when that one person whose original birth certificate burned up in the Courthouse Fire of 1932 can't get one of the free forms of state identification that will be accepted to vote in the February primary of 2016, then they can file their lawsuit and seek legal remedy.

Shirley Abrahamson hasn't been denied due process--because there hasn't been a process yet.  The State Supreme Court didn't meet three minutes after the Associated Press called the election in favor of the "Yes" votes to vote her out as Chief Justice.  And whose to say that they will actually do that when they do hold such a vote?  Will the Federal Judge assigned her lawsuit call up the six other members of the Court to the witness stand and poll them as to whether they will vote for against Shirley?  Of course, if her lawyers do their jobs, they will keep the amendment tied in up the various court systems long enough for her to serve out the last four years of her term as Chief Justice--regardless of whether or not that is what the voters wanted.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nuts To You From California

We usually think of Californians as "tree huggers".  "Environmentally-conscious" people so in tune with nature that every form of plant life is valuable and needs to be preserved--even if it means humans will go without affordable housing and food or good-paying jobs.  Mother Nature has rights too, they would tell you--claiming to serve as her "official spokesperson".

But many Californians are now turning against one particular tree: the almond tree.  Backlash against the almond industry (are they known as "Big Almond"?) comes following reports that it takes one gallon of water to produce a single nut.  As you likely know, California is suffering from an extreme drought--and freshwater supplies are dwindling.  And as the state begins to look at how to ration the reserves it has, Mother Nature and her beautiful nut-producing trees are no longer such a priority for those "environmentalists". 

Actually, the entire area known as the Central Valley is coming under attack in the "Water Wars".  This is an incredibly fertile area that grows the vast majority of America's fresh produce.  But to do so, those farmers need a lot of water for their fields.  If you think one gallon per almond is "a lot", consider that it takes 168-gallons of water to grow a single watermelon.  And when the Central Valley (who has the first access to the runoff from the Sierra Mountains) uses more water--that means less makes it to the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to fill hot-tubs, guitar-shaped swimming pools and elaborate fountains in the yard.

You would think that Californians who are so concerned about "access to fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks for children" would make produce production a priority and be willing to fork out more for their municipal water and deal with not being able to wash their cars as often (or they build nuclear power plants that could double as desalination facilities to use the vast resource of the Pacific Ocean for the their water needs).  But there is a problem with those Central Valley farms--you see they grow crops for the Big Food Corporations.  Dole, Del Monte and many of the familiar brand names you see on the supermarket shelves buy nearly all of the produce grown in the region to feed a hungry nation items they could never grow themselves.  And those farmers don't practice "organic" production or "sustainable tillage"--and their genetically modified organisms may produce larger yields with less water and pesticide use--but they are surely "poisoning the land and the people".  We should also mention that the farms provide jobs to many of those illegal aliens sneaking across the border whom those on the Left like to embrace when they might become dependent on the state or they might someday vote for Democrats.

So add Mother Nature to the long list of those whom Liberals like to say they "are fighting and sacrificing for"--until it actually comes time to sacrifice.  Then the message becomes "Nuts to you!!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Another Experience Ruined

Despite my extreme dislike for the Chicago Cubs and their know-nothing fans, a trip to Wrigley Field every few years has been one of my favorite things in sports.  Yes, the seats are too small for someone who is 6'3" and the bathrooms with the troughs for urinals and the stall doors that don't stay closed are kind of disgusting--but for in-game experience, it could not be beat.  Mostly day games, an organ instead of recorded pop music, and a hand-operated scoreboard meant that you could just pay attention to the game without all kinds of distractions.  And if there was a lull in the action, you could actually talk to the person next to you about the game and what was going on.

But over the years, that experience has been degraded.  Wrigley now hosts more night games than day games--so there are fewer opportunities to enjoy baseball the way it was meant to be played--with the sun on your shoulders and a breeze blowing out to left field.  The team claims playing all of those day games put them at a "competitive disadvantage"--which is why they hadn't won a World Series in 106 years--the players were "too tired".  And let's not forget how TV ratings were "hurt" by so many games not being in primetime.

And now rest of the Wrigley experience is ruined by the debut this season of a state-of-the-art video scoreboard in left field.  Now, instead of debating with the guy next to you if a pitch was a ball or a strike--or a runner was out or safe on a bang-bang play at first--you get 15 replays from every angle (including from the International Space Station) to take the fun out of the argument. 

In addition, you now get the in-stadium advertising that a visual medium brings with it.  Get ready for the Northwestern Mutual Starting Lineups!--with all of the players smiling next to a big Northwestern Mutual logo. Last Night's Highlights brought to you by Old Style, the Official Beer of the Chicago Cubs!  The Zimbrick Chevrolet Run of the Game brought to you by the Official Chevy Dealer of the Chicago Cubs!  Pizza Plinko brought to you by Palermo's Pizza--the Official Pizza of the Chicago Cubs! The Wrigley Field Kiss Cam brought to you by Official Dating Website of the Chicago Cubs!  How Far Did It Fly? brought to you by Southwest Airlines--Official Travel Partner of the Chicago Cubs!  And Guess the Attendance brought to you Schwartzki's Accounting--the Official Accountants of the Chicago Cubs.

So a pure baseball experience is no more.  Now Wrigley is just like every other stadium in the league--a "multimedia" experience where your constant entertainment is the primary goal--and the baseball is of secondary importance.  Cubs ownership would tell you that they "need to compete with 'home viewing experience'"--and now coming to Wrigley is just like sitting in your living room.  If your living room was designed for someone 5'6" and who never has to go to the bathroom.

Monday, April 6, 2015

It's Good Work, If You Can Get It

While I am not currently in the market for a new job, there are a couple of positions that I would really like to have. 

First would be Reporter at Rolling Stone magazine.  Imagine a job where you can turn a four hour interview with a woman who claims that she was gang-raped by fraternity members at the University of Virginia into a front-page, national attention-grabbing expose--all without having to do a single bit of fact-checking to make sure that your article is accurate.  Without having to make all of those bothersome calls to the "victim's" friends whom she quotes for you, without having to check with the fraternity to see if they hosted an event the night of the "attack" and without having to track down the "rapist" to make sure he exists--I could knock out two or three of those stories a week.  And when other more-industrious media outlets and law enforcement investigate your story and reveal that it is 100% false, all you have to do is go into hiding, issue a written apology to other journalists, the readers of Rolling Stone and real victims of rape--and YOU GET TO KEEP YOUR JOB!!

Even better might be Editor at Rolling Stone magazine.  Imagine a job where you can establish a narrative for a story before having any facts--and just send out a reporter to find the most salacious claims possible to craft a front-page, national attention-grabbing expose--regardless of the accuracy of those claims.  You can overlook the lack of fact-checking as merely "protecting the victim".  And when other more-industrious media outlets and law enforcement investigate your story and reveal that it is 100% false, all you have to do is issue an apology to other editors and your readers--and throw the "victim" under the bus for telling "fabulist stories and taking advantage of your journalistic processes".  Columbia Journalism School can do a review of your handling of the Virginia rape story and find that you failed all of the most basic standards and practices of journalism--and YOU GET TO KEEP YOUR JOB!!  Plus, you can issue a scathing reply that you feel there is no need to change any of your procedures--because none of this was your fault.

However, the best new job to have is likely going to be the attorneys representing the members of the fraternity--and perhaps the University of Virginia as well--who will be suing Rolling Stone magazine to the brink of bankruptcy.  There is a reason why there is no apology to the members of the frat or the school community as a whole from the magazine--because to do so would be an admission of intent to damage their reputations in order to "advance the narrative".  Libel and slander laws are written to provide protection to reporters and media outlets that make an honest mistake.  We are human and sometimes we get facts wrong because we don't completely understand what someone said, or we hit a few wrong keys on the keyboard while writing or a wrong picture is placed with a story.  But that isn't what happened here.  Rolling Stone wasn't doing an investigation on IF there is a "rape culture" on college campuses--it had already decided there WAS a "rape culture" on all campuses--whether the facts supported that or not.  And when their reporter was hand-fed the Virginia "case" with implications that white, rich fraternity members were responsible, that storyline had to be preserved--regardless of whatever concerns a lack of corroboration or factual basis may have raised around the editorial table.

Of course, if Rolling Stone were to perish in the wake of this complete breakdown of journalistic standards--how will the world know when Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen or Richard Thompson release their next "Best Albums Ever!"?

Friday, April 3, 2015

We Have Waited a Year For This

I could try to come up with something inspirational as my beloved Wisconsin Badgers get ready to take on the undefeated (and some consider unbeatable) Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four on Saturday night.  But it would never match the famous words of one Herb Brooks--as he got his 1980 Olympic Men's Hockey team ready to face the "unbeatable" Soviets in Lake Placid..........

And nothing can compare to Coach Norman Dale as he took his underdog Hickory Huskers out to face mighty South Bend Central Bears in Hoosiers................

I believe.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Revisionist History of Sports

Regular listeners will know that I hate revisionist history.  Going back and changing the presentation of events to fit a modern day narrative annoys the heck out of me.  And now the practice has spread to sports.  But rather than changing history to "make it more inclusive" or to justify a modern social more--sports history is being altered because someone is paying to makeit happen.  And unfortunately, the media that covers the events are going along with it.

I was watching GolfCentral on the Golf Channel last night and they were previewing the first major on the LPGA Tour this week: The ANA Inspiration.  This is the first year with that name (ANA is All Nippon Airways--a Japanese airline--which I guess is fitting, since about half of the players on the LPGA are now from Asia).  Golf fans may remember this tournament as the Kraft-Nabisco Championship--which it was until last year--and before that as the Colgate Dinah Shore (named for the entertainer who was the founder and hostess, along with a major backer of women's professional golf).

Anyway, during its coverage, the Golf Channel referred to Lexi Thompson as the "defending ANA Inspiration Champion".  That is not true.  Lexi Thompson won the 2014 Kraft-Nabisco Championship--the ANA Inspiration didn't exist last year.  If Golf Channel wants to be accurate, they should refer to her as the "defending TOURNAMENT champion".  Then in a feature about the tradition of the winner jumping into the water hazard next to the 18th green (known as Poppy's Pond) graphics on the screen claimed the highlights were from the "2012 ANA Inspiration" the "1998 ANA Inspiration" and finally Amy Alcott starting the tradition at the "1988 ANA Inspiration".  All of which were events that NEVER actually existed--they were the Kraft Nabisco and the Dinah Shore at that time.

Now women's golf is not the only offender.  NASCAR has a problem keeping its history straight as well.  I cringe every time I hear announcers or analysts say "Jimmie Johnson is trying to join Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr as the only 7-time Sprint Cup Champions in history!"  The truth is that Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt NEVER won the "Sprint Cup".  The King captured 2 NASCAR Grand National titles (before anyone thought about having a sponsored trophy) and 5 Winston Cups.  Dale Senior won 7 Winston Cups.  I've seen the pictures of these trophies in a classic poster and the word "Sprint" is not on any of them.  Johnson himself has won Winston, NEXTEL and Sprint Cups, so to call him a "6 Time Sprint Cup Champion" is also false.  If Fox and TNT and ABC want to be accurate--they should refer to them as "7 time NASCAR Champions".

Unfortunately, both ANA and Sprint pay the networks that are televising these events to run their ads during the broadcasts.  So I guess what they want said gets said--whether its actually true or not.  I'm anxious to see if the iconic statue of Dinah Shore next to the bridge leading to the 18th green is replaced this week the CEO of ANA to "celebrate it's founding of the tournament it had nothing to do with until this week" 44-years ago.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blatant Disregard For the Law

The State Legislature has spent a lot of time in recent years beefing up sentences for various crimes--often under the auspices of "needing to send a message" to offenders.  Might I suggest they consider increasing the penalties for violations of the state's Open Meetings Laws to send a similar "message" to those we elect to public office--but who choose to blatantly act in violation of those laws.

A former teacher and WEAC have dropped a bombshell on the Neenah School District this month, filing a formal complaint with Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett alleging Superintendent Mary Pfeiffer and members of the School Board established a pattern of holding closed door meetings without public notice to discuss topics they wanted to keep out of the eyes of the voters.  Emails turned over by the District through the Open Records Law and deposed testimony from Board Members themselves reportedly show that the Superintendent wanted to discuss controversial items like changing retired employee benefits packages, budget cuts and redrawing elementary school boundaries without public input into the process.

And to do so, Superintendent Pfeiffer (who allegedly started the practice almost immediately after being hired by the Board in 2009) used one of the oldest tricks in the book: the walking quorum.  State law requires that anytime a majority of an elected body is going to be in one place at one time that public notice be given--since it is possible that they could take action on an item without anyone being aware of it.  So, Superintendent Pfeiffer and the Board apparently agreed to meet with only three or four members present--with the next three or four meeting at another time and the remaining few members coming in for a third secret meeting.  A sneaky--and illegal--way to hold a discussion or disseminate information without anyone outside the system knowing about it.

And what did those illegal discussions lead to?  Little to no discussion of those same items when the Neenah School Board met in properly noticed open session meetings--and unanimous votes on those measures--when perhaps actual debate on the board floor might have led voters or employees to ask questions themselves about what the District was doing.  Actually, it took a separate lawsuit filed by the District retirees questioning the process used to develop their revised benefits for anyone to find out about these secret, illegal meetings in the first place.

So why would otherwise up-standing members of our community engage in such explicitly illegal behavior in such a brazen fashion over such an extended period of time?  They aren't career politicians beholden to big money interests that don't want anyone to know how much they are spending to influence policy.  They aren't thieves trying to line their own pockets with ill-gotten public booty.  And they are not naïve political neophytes who can claim to have "no idea" that the ol' walking quorum is illegal.

The answer may lie in the aftermath of the first failed Oaklawn Elementary School referendum here in Oshkosh.  That was the one where a slim majority of the Oshkosh School Board approved going to the voters with plans for a school that was too expensive and was located too far away from where any families with children actually lived--and it was shot down overwhelmingly.  But in the discussions after that disaster, Boardmembers were told that the reason the referendum failed is that the Board and the District "failed to speak to the community with one voice".  The fact that some Boardmembers at the time questioned both the cost and the location of the proposed school "undermined public sentiment for the project" and doomed it from the start.

And since then, you may have noticed there is a lot less "dissention" in all School Boards in the area.  These bodies have suddenly become more of "one mind speaking with one voice" on nearly all matters.  It makes you wonder how they are all coming to these agreements--and if that is really good for the taxpayers.

Oh, and as far as any punishments coming down on the Neenah School Board and its Superintendent--don't hold your breath.  Similar complaints always seem to lead to agreements "to do more open meetings training" so it "doesn't happen again".  Meanwhile, next week's Neenah School Board election will likely generate 10-15% turnout--perhaps proving that we couldn't really care less who represents us.