Monday, November 30, 2015

We've Been Down This Path Before

What will likely be the most-expensive conference in human history gets underway today in Paris.  The Global Climate Summit--or COP21 as it is known for short--aims to craft a global treaty to limit the production of carbon emissions across all nations for an indeterminate amount of time.  I don't mean that the conference itself will be the most-expensive--although providing enhanced security for hundreds of world leaders in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks (which Bernie Sanders says are directly related to global warming) will certainly be expensive.  And I doubt that all of those dignitaries hiked or biked to Paris and they aren't camping out in Paris parks and bathing in the River Seine.

The real expense will come in the decades after the conference ends with a flurry of "holy pictures" and handshaking, as First World nations move away from the economies they built upon cheaper forms of energy like coal and oil and to less reliable "renewable" energies.  Those world leaders will all agree that the added expense is a "small price to pay in order to save the Earth"  from a fate that nobody can really guarantee is going to be cataclysmic.

Here in the US, a proposed treaty deal would mean that "small price to pay" would be felt at the gas pump--as $2 a gallon will be will seem as unbelievable to future drivers as 25-cent gas seems to us--and at the car dealership--as more emissions controls and even higher fuel-economy standards make cars more expensive to purchase and operate.

That "small price to pay" will be felt in your monthly heating and electricity bill--as cheaper coal-fired power plants are shut down and replaced by wind and solar arrays that produce less energy at a higher per-unit cost.  And energy costs have a ripple effect throughout the--especially in manufacturing--where the production of steel requires huge amounts of electricity--as does powering any large plant.

That "small price to pay" will add up at the grocery store too--as production, harvesting and shipment of foodstuffs becomes more expensive.  Less use of carbon-based fertilizers and pesticides will reduce yields in the field and put the reliability of some crops in doubt due to blight or infestation.

And that "small price to pay" will be felt on your local, state and federal tax bills as well.  All levels of governments have their own energy costs to cover--and they purchase many of the same privately-produced products as we do at home.  Add to that the additional cost to fuel vehicles and aircraft, power buildings and computer systems and that there will be more citizens that will  need energy assistance to keep their own heat and lights on.  And that is before the US government drops billions on subsidizing the construction and operation of alternative energy production here--and in developing countries around the world who haven't even been able to develop reliable power grids using cheaper coal, oil and natural gas.

Another "small price to pay" will be "retributions" to island and coastal nations affected by the predicted three foot rise in ocean levels by the end of the century--even though these countries (including places like Florida) were built up on land that everyone knew had sat under the ocean for centuries before the most recent cycle of Ice Ages lowered sea levels.

And let's not forget that all of this "global climate control success" is predicated on every single country living up to its treaty requirements--and we know that no nation would ever lie about upholding the terms of a treaty--even if it is hurting its people.  I think the final signing ceremony should be moved to a rail car in Versailles, France--just like the previous most-expensive treaty in human history was.

Friday, November 27, 2015

You Can Come Down Off the Ledge

It's a good thing last night's Packers game was held on a holiday, as many fans were with family and friends that could talk them out of committing some rash act because the team lost their fourth game out of the last five.  Face it, Green Bay fans, your team is just as mediocre as the rest of the league.

There used to be a joke that former Commissioner "Parity" Pete Rozelle hoped that one year every team in the NFL would finish 8-8.  The way things are going this season, it's possible we could have two 16-0 teams--and a bunch of 7-9 or 6-10- teams--with a couple of those actually winning divisions and making the playoffs.

The NFL is a mess.  There are only four or five guys that are any good at the quarterback position--and a couple of those are getting hurt all the time.  Few teams make any effort to run the football anymore--choosing instead to place a greater burden on their under-talented, over-hyped quarterbacks to complete passes to move the ball at all.  Off-the-field issues continue to crop up--with admitted alcoholics posting videos of themselves partying, guys who beat up women and threaten them with guns getting big, new contracts and being described as "a great team leader" and a player already on suspension getting shot in the head.

And don't even get me started on the officiating.  When the TV networks have to employ "rules experts" to explain calls--or to offer an opinion on a call that invariably is not the ruling ultimately made by the officials on the field despite the aid of replay--you know you've got a problem.

But, ratings are up again this year--and sponsors keep beating a path to the door waving cash--so what is there for Commissioner "Rollin' in the Dough" Roger Goodell to worry about?  And that is why you Packers fans shouldn't worry either.  Just because your receivers can't get open--and then don't catch the ball when they do--doesn't mean you are any worse than the collection of sad sack teams in the league.  Do you really think Teddy Bridgewater is going to lead the Vikings to a division title?  And besides, as I predicted at the start of the season, you weren't going to beat the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Playoffs anyway.  So just r-e-l-a-x and "enjoy" the decidedly average football that will be played out the rest of the season. 

Besides, everybody's just playing for the Fan Duel and Draft Kings points.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saluting Green Bay's Greatest....And That Other Guy

Tomorrow night, Packers fans will welcome back their greatest player ever.  And then they will retire Brett Favre's number.  I'm of course, talking about Bart Starr's planned participation in the Favre number retirement ceremony--which had been in doubt, as Starr has struggled to recover from multiple strokes, a heart attack and a lung infection that all nearly killed him.  And it is that uncertainty that I hope fuels Packers fans to give Starr the one final salute that he certainly deserves.

The contrast between the two quarterbacks that will be on the field Thursday night could not be any greater.  Starr went 5-1 in NFL Championship Games and a perfect 2-0 in Super Bowls.  Favre went 2-3 in NFC Championship Games (including one loss with Minnesota) and 1-1 in the Super Bowl. 
For decades, Starr held the NFL record for most consecutive passes without an interception.  Favre still holds the NFL record for most interceptions thrown in a career. 

Starr worked hard to earn the respect of the legendary Vince Lombardi.  I believe Favre truly respected Mike Holmgren--but did nothing to hide his disdain for Ray Rhodes and treated Mike Sherman like a puppet. 

In all of the time I lived in Green Bay, I never heard anyone tell a story about how they hung out with Bart Starr in a bar all night.  During that same time in Green Bay, I could have told you the bar and the nights when you could find Brett Favre hanging out. 

Bart Starr never sent a picture of his "junk" to another team employee. 

In one of the coldest games ever played, Starr led the Packers down the field in the final minutes of the Ice Bowl with precision passing before taking the ball into the end zone himself for the game-winning touchdown.  In the equally frigid 2007 NFC Championship game, Favre threw the interception that set up the New York Football Giants game-winning field goal in overtime.

And when he realized that he no longer had the skills necessary to compete in the NFL, Starr quietly announced his retirement--capping a career spent exclusively in Green Bay.  Favre kept the organization hanging for a couple of off-seasons before holding a tear-filled press conference to say he was done--only to follow that a couple of weeks later with an announcement that he was un-retiring (even though the organization had taken steps to move on) and then demanding a trade.  Which was followed by another retirement announcement and then another un-retirement announcement and open courting of division-rival Minnesota so he could "stick it" to the Packers twice a year.

Now don't get me wrong, I certainly believe Brett Favre deserves to have his number retired and to be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I just hope the longest and the loudest ovation tomorrow night comes for the man who wore the already-retired number 15 as he comes onto the Frozen Tundra for what will likely be the final time in his life.  Just to remind the Ol' Gunslinger who is still the Sheriff around these parts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The New Republicans

Political analysts on the Left often wonder how some of the poorest areas of the country vote Republican in nearly every election.  The prevailing thought is that there is racism at play--or that those folks are voting with their Bibles.  Liberals like to say those people are "voting against their own self-interests" by supporting candidates that openly call for trimming public entitlement programs.

An article in the New York Times looked into this phenomenon and discovered that the political analysts are getting it all wrong.  There are actually two factors deciding those elections.  One--those who are on the dole tend not to vote at all--thus not taking the one action they have that would "preserve" their benefits.  And two--those who have just worked their way out of the "Social Safety Net" are the ones who support its trimming the most.

The Republican voters quoted in the story were people who had fallen upon hard times--due in large part to the economic downtown at the end of the last decade.  They entered into the programs like Unemployment, Food Stamps, WIC, free job training, free child care, etc.  And while they were trying to work their way out of "the system", they became familiar with those who are making no effort to get out of "the system".  Those who are turning the "Social Safety Net" into a "Social Safety Hammock".  And those trying hard to make it on their own don't take too kindly to those sponging off of them.

It is those voters who don't buy the favorite phrase of the Left: "through no fault of their own" to describe those who have, in fact, made a number of choices that first put them into social programs and who continue to make choices that keep them there.  Like the Republicans they now vote for, those working their way back up don't want to eliminate public entitlements--but they want to spend only what is necessary to provide help to those that truly need it.  They don't define "success" as how many people can we give money to--even if they could be earning it themselves.

And as for those who are making no effort to get to the polls.  That says a lot about how much they really "appreciate" our help.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Go Before You Go

It looks like us guys are going to lose the bathroom advantage that evolution gave us.  The days of gender-specific bathrooms may be coming to an end.  An increase in legal challenges by those who identify as transgender are putting both public institutions and private businesses in the incredibly awkward position of having to provide facilities that meet standards that federal agencies have yet to actually detail--while preventing incidents that would rise to cases of indecent exposure to a child.

In listening to our interview with Oshkosh School Superinendent Stan Mack last week, you could hear the frustration in his voice as he and the School Board try to come up with a solution that satisfies the handful of transgender students in the district--while not leading to hundreds--if not thousands--of complaints from parents who don't want their daughters to share facilities with people who have penises.  Mack is of the opinion--due to a ruling in an Illinois lawsuit--that installing a unisex bathroom and retaining existing gender-specific facilities will not be good enough for the Federal Government.  That is apparently seen as "separate but not equal".

That leaves two options: Existing bathrooms that feature all stalls with doors that lock--meaning an end to the "urinal era" in men's bathrooms--or a series of unisex facilities with separate entrances and locking doors.  Either way, it's an expensive solution.

Small private business will likely avoid lawsuits from both sides by removing the men's and women's signs and having locking doors.  Malls, larger employers and places like Lambeau Field and Miller Park will dump the urinal and go to all stalls.  Which means us guys can no longer stroll right past the long line to use the ladies' room--do our business in 30-seconds--and stroll right back out without missing any of the action.  They might want to relocate the concession stands adjacent to the bathrooms from now on--you're going to be there awhile.

Now, will this assuage the concerns of parents sending children into public bathrooms?  We already have news stories of peeping toms (and worse) hiding in gender specific restrooms.  How would you feel about having all gender designations removed--and everyone having a "right" to be in there?  And we are just talking about bathrooms right now.  What do you do when a transgender student wants to play sports on the team he or she "identifies" with?  Will locker room facilities have to be individualized or partitioned?  And how do health clubs plan to deal with such situations?

My suggestion is very low-cost.  Let's all just go before we go out--you know, empty the tank--and conversely, hold it until we get home again.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The End of a Very Boring Era

On Sunday, Jeff Gordon will participate in his final NASCAR race before heading into retirement.  Some are calling it the "end of an era".  Well if that is true, it will be the end of a very boring era.

Gordon was the first great "tactical" racer in NASCAR.  Unlike his legendary predecessors--Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough--Jeff Gordon did not bring a "checkers or wreckers" mentality to the track.  If he had a great car, he made sure not to use it up, stayed out of trouble and brought home a win or a top five finish.  If he didn't have a great car that day, Gordon was content to hang back and pick up as many points as possible toward the Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup title.  Announcers came to call the strategy "big picture racing".

But I would challenge the biggest Jeff Gordon fan to list the most exciting victory in his career.  I mean a race that had you talking the next day about spectacular passes or door-banging action.  As a fan of the late Dale Earnhardt, I could spend an hour recapping such races--like the Pass On the Grass in Charlotte, the Spin To Win at Bristol or going from 18th to 1st in two laps to capture his last career win at Talledega.  A "great" Jeff Gordon victory involves discussion of the time he stayed out when all the other leaders pitted to get gas and he had just enough fuel to make it to the finish--or that time he was fifth heading into the final pit stop and the "Rainbow Warriors" got him out in first and he held on to win--or the really thrilling time he got a great set of sticker tires and a wedge adjustment and was able to run the low groove to pull away late.

I'll admit Gordon was a trendsetter.  He begat his even more boring Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmy Johnson--who has taken "staying out of trouble and taking care of your equipment" to six Cup titles--most of them in years that he did not win the most races on the circuit.  Gordon is also responsible for the "nervous driver wife" cutaway that has become a staple of NASCAR broadcasts.  His former wife Brooke was a model and made for good TV as she watched with crossed fingers in the pits.  I did warm a bit to Gordon after she took him to the cleaners in their subsequent divorce.

Dale Earnhardt gave Jeff Gordon his nickname of "Wonderboy" and once toasted him at the NASCAR awards banquet with a glass of milk to poke fun at the success he enjoyed at an early age.  But Dale, Sr also gave Wonderboy grudging respect for what he was able to accomplish--even if it was more technical and tactical than bold and fearless.  And that is what most NASCAR fans will give Gordon on Sunday--even if he were to win at Homestead and capture an unexpected 5th Cup title--grudging respect.  Just don't expect a lot of tears.

Oh, and hopefully Gordon fans can put away those ridiculous-looking rainbow pit crew jackets too.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What's the Holdup?

Back in the halcyon days of summer--when he was drawing huge crowds of young people and celebrities were tweeting their support for him every day--Bernie Sanders promised a "major speech" on how he envisioned Democratic Socialism to work in the United States.  That speech was promised in a "couple of weeks" back in July--along with Sanders introducing a single-payer medical system bill he likes to call "Medicare For All".  But here we are in mid-November and there has been no "major speech" and no "Medicare For All" bill.

The folks at noticed the same thing this week and asked the Sanders campaign staff about that.  The staffers claim the speech is "almost ready to go"--but Bernie is still working on it.  In last Saturday's debate, Sanders could provide no specifics as to his tax plan--joking top end rates would be less than those under "Socialist President Eisenhower".  Politico believes that Sanders is getting cold feet about laying bare all that he believes in.  But I think the delay is due to a much simpler--and less emotional--reason: They can't get the numbers to add up.

Remember a couple of months ago when the Wall Street Journal ran an article claiming that Sanders' campaign proposals would cost $18-TRILLION?  All of his supporters immediately dismissed the figures as "scare tactics".  But what if in putting the pen to paper, those in the campaign realized that the Journal was correct--and may have actually been conservative in their cost estimates?

Keep in mind that Bernie Sanders wants the Federal Government to take on the costs of all medical care for 360-MILLION residents ($3.8-TRILLION annually), the entire cost of college tuition for all students ($62.6-BILLION annually), forgive all of the current student loan debt ($1.2-TRILLION), and provide free child care ($18,000 per child annually).  And that is before increasing the payments for Social Security, unemployment insurance and food stamps and committing to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, building high speed rail and increasing local transit.

The non-specific plan calls for all of that spending to be balanced out by hyper-taxing the rich and corporations and ending subsidies for everything from oil drilling and ethanol production to milk pricing.  But what if the 90% tax bracket and the penny-per-financial trade "fee" on Wall Street aren't going to be enough--or even close to enough?  How then do you sell this Socialist plan to people when you already have an $18-TRILLION budget deficit?  I guess you could always have Bernie Sanders' "major speech" followed by a two-hour lecture from Keynsian Economist Paul Krugman about how government debt doesn't matter--because you can always just print more money (although that devalues the currency and defeats the purpose of a $15 an hour minimum wage by reducing buying power and really just keeping the poor, poor).

So until they suspend the laws of mathematics and economics, we will probably be waiting awhile on Bernie Sanders' "vision" for a Democratic Socialist America.  Of course, I'm sure the Brothers Grimm took awhile to write their fairy tales too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The New Know Nothings

Those of us lucky enough to study pre-revisionist US History are familiar with the Know Nothing Party of the mid-1800's.  The party sprung up among Protestants in the East in response to an influx of European immigrants coming to America and concerns that they would "fundamentally change the country".  Kind of sounds familiar doesn't it?  As members of Congress and governors across the US can't get in front of microphones fast enough to denounce plans to settle legal refugees from Syria here.

On the face of it, a desire to keep out potential ISIS operatives hiding amongst the refugees is a valid argument.  But perhaps House Speaker Paul Ryan--who wants a "pause" in the Syrian refugee resettlement program--should consider that the Know Nothings wanted to keep his Irish ancestors out of the country out of fear their Catholicism would lead to greater Papal influence over the US.  Congressman Glenn Grotheman--who wonders why people seeking peace and freedom "would even want to come here"--should recall that his German ancestors who came over in the 19th Century contained more than a few Marxists.  So many, in fact, that the Mecca of German-American culture, Milwaukee, elected Socialists to City Hall for nearly 70-years.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Italian ancestors likely came over with mafiosos.  The Jewish ancestors of Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Senator Russ Feingold were feared to be Communists and Bolsheviks.  All "concerns" that gave rise to the Know Nothings and their anti-immigrant platform.

What is being lost in all of the post-Paris-attacks hysteria is that the Syrian refugees--and really all Muslims that come to the US to escape the barbarism of ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban--could be very valuable allies in the fight against those same enemies.  Those groups recruit on the "the West hates us" mentality.  What would make us look less hateful than actually opening our arms to those who turn their back on radicalism?  And if those refugees eventually return home--or at least stay in contact with families in their homelands--they can tell everyone over there that we Americans aren't that bad.

If anything, Republicans should be embracing Muslim refugees like Democrats have embraced the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America--as they share some of the same cultural values.  Muslims do not go into debt.  They would be horribly offended by the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus.  And Liberal heads would probably explode when faced with the quandary of Muslim families coming to local school boards to complain about their daughters having to use bathrooms with people that have penises--but say they are actually women.  Which "persecuted" people do you side with on that one?

If we are going to go back to our high school American History days, perhaps a field trip to the Statue of Liberty--that wonderful gift from France--is in order for everyone forming the New Know Nothing Party so we can read Emma Lazarus's poem at the base:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sorry, Aaron, That's Not Enough

Until a few days ago, this My Two Cents would have been a pat on the back for Aaron Rodgers and his comments about a bit of ugliness before Sunday's game (before the real ugliness that took place after kickoff all the way through the botched field goal to end it).  You've likely heard that during a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks, a fan yelled out "Muslims suck!" audible to others in the stadium--and apparently, the Packers sideline.  In his post-game comments, Rodgers expressed his disappointment in the behavior of the fan and chided others who might think the same way.

Like I said, until a few days ago I would have applauded Mr,Rodgers for using his First Amendment rights to free speech to criticize an idiot that also exercised his First Amendment rights to free speech to prove what a moron he is.  But a new precedent for an "acceptable" response to such comments is now in place, thanks to the University of Missouri.  And therefore it is clear that Packers fans and players must do more than just denounce the "culture of racism" at Lambeau Field.

For starters, Packers fans should set up a makeshift camp on the field itself and refuse to leave until Team President Mark Murphy and General Manager Ted Thompson are fired or quit.  It is through their inaction that the fan in question--who has never been identified--was allowed to express his racist thoughts.  It is only through the removal Murphy and Thompson that such incidents can be guaranteed to never happen again.

To show their support for this "courageous effort", Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers should refuse to practice or play until Murphy and Thompson are removed from their positions.  The coaching staff should also voice their support for protesters and the players--and work as "security" to prevent the press from entering the makeshift camp to report on what is being done and said there--as it is an obvious violation of the protesters' "safe space".

And once Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson are fired or quit--the fans should continue their protests--demanding that admission to the games be free from now on--that the credit cards they used to purchase past season tickets be paid off in full by people that don't even attend Packers games and that fans of opposing teams never be allowed inside Lambeau Field ever again--as cheering for the other team creates a "hostile environment" both for Packers fans and their players.

So unless you are willing to take these steps to crush any expression with which you do not agree, Aaron Rodgers, all you are doing is providing lip service.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Not-So-Subtle Reminder

You know how President Obama likes to say that global climate change is the "greatest national security threat we face"?  He used it as his rationale for imposing arbitrary carbon emissions standards on US power plants--which will add hundreds of dollars a year to energy bills for low- and middle-income families.  He cited it as a reason for unilaterally killing the Keystone XL pipeline--which would have increased our access to non-Middle Eastern, Canadian oil in a way that would not require transportation in rail tanker cars--like the ones that derailed in Watertown just a couple of days after the President stomped out the pipeline.

Well the Paris attackers provided us--and the world--with another, not-so-subtle reminder of what is truly the greatest threat to our national--and global--security: radical, militant Islam.

As fate would have it, the world's number one global climate change alarmist--Al Gore--was in Paris on the night of the attacks.  He was hosting a concert to raise money for his anti-business efforts--I mean to "raise awareness of global climate change"--at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.  Among those on the bill were Bon Jovi and Elton John.  Mr. Gore ended up pulling the plug on the show early--as the event to cause alarm over a projected threat was just a couple of miles away from an actual global threat actually killing people.

Meanwhile, Paris is also supposed to be the site of a global climate change summit in a couple of weeks--where world leaders were going to voluntarily restrict their economic and societal growth in the name of "saving the planet".  But now organizers are not sure if they will hold the event--because of the actual threat of radical, militant Islam targeting the summit.  I'm not sure what the climate change alarmists have to worry about, ISIS also wants to return the world to the 12th century where windmills were your main source of mechanical energy--and you hoped the sun would warm your house enough during the day so you didn't freeze to death at night.

You would think that Friday's incident would have brought some clarity to those on the Left about what constitutes a "threat" to national security.  But just hours after no one at the Democratic Presidential debate could bring themselves to identify the Paris attackers as "radical Islamists", Bernie Sanders was right back out there telling a rally that what happened in Paris, and Beirut, and Nigeria, and on-board the Russian plane in Egypt, and Somalia, and Egypt again, and Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Yemen and in Paris once before--this year alone aren't that grave a threat--and that you driving your car by yourself to work everyday is what is really a danger to society.

Fortunately, we no longer have to worry about Iran getting nuclear weapons and making this "non-threat" even worse--since they have promised to inspect themselves and let us come in at any time--with 24-days advance notice, of course.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Candidate We Can All Support

As we approach mid-November more focus is being placed on candidates for the Heisman Trophy.  LSU running back Leonard Fournette is still the front-runner--despite his mediocre performance in a loss to Alabama last week.  Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry is also at the top of many lists after he outrushed Fournette in that same game.  And Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman is putting up crazy numbers in that stupid Spread/Read Option offense that the Bears run.  But there is one candidate for the "most outstanding player in college football" that is not getting nearly enough attention: Navy Quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Navy is having a great year with an 8-1 record so far.  Their only loss is to 4th ranked Notre Dame and the Midshipmen are coming off a dominating win over previously undefeated Memphis last week.  Should the Middies win out, they may be heading to their first New Year's Day bowl game since Roger Staubach was quarterback.  Reynolds is a four year starter and a co-captain--at a school where "captaincy" really means something.

On Saturday, Reynolds will likely break the NCAA all-time rushing touchdowns record currently held by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.  They currently share the record at 77.  Reynolds actually would have the record already but on a play from the one-yard line last week in Memphis, he called an audible away from a quarterback keeper to a play that called for him to pitch it to his slotback (Navy runs the Wing-T, triple option offense--sorry about these "ancient" football terms) who walked into the endzone untouched for the game-clinching TD.

It would have been easy for Reynolds to keep the ball on that play and try to score the record setting touchdown himself--but he saw that a teammate would have an easier time scoring and he gave up the ball.  This is even more impressive as Reynolds is a Tennessee native and had most of his family members at the game that day hoping to see him break the record.

Off the field, Reynolds is a 3.32 GPA student in International Relations at one of the most demanding academic institutions in the country--where you not only study and play football--but train for military action as well.  And he is a kid that dreamed only of attending one of the military academies and serving his country.  And by going to Navy, he is forfeiting any hope of playing in the NFL right out of college--as he is required to remain on active duty for five years after graduation.

Sure, Keenan Reynolds may not have the gaudy statistics that SEC running backs or Big 12 wide receivers may have.  All of his games have not been on ESPN at prime time on Saturday nights.  Mel Kiper, Jr and Todd McShay don't have him at the top of their "draft boards".  But the virtues that he embodies--both on and off the field--would make him a Heisman Trophy winner of which we can all be proud.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Episode IV: A New Hope

In case you haven't noticed, there is an effort to snuff out thoughts and expressions that might offend or anger one person somewhere in the world.  The Anti-Personal Freedom crowd is finding its greatest allies on college campuses--which once heralded themselves as the bastions of expression and thought and debate over important issues.

Once upon a time, you could have a discussion in a classroom setting where someone could attempt to rationalize the Confederacy's decision to leave the Union and to fight the Civil War.  Now such discussion would be a microaggression that could "trigger" a person of color to have "negative feelings" about themselves.  Better to just teach that Ante-Bellum Southerners were evil, racist people who needed to be defeated by slightly less evil and racist people.

One former UW-Oshkosh instructor that I know nearly lost his job after posing the question in a communications course that asked students to consider if stereotypical characters continue to exist in popular culture and the media because they still contain some element of truth about the people portrayed (otherwise the viewer would be left to wonder "Why would they do or say that?").  After a spirited and thought-provoking discussion, one student went to administration to say that he or she was "offended" by the tone of the class--and the instructor faced disciplinary action for his "insensitive course content".

In just the past few days, the student protesters on the University of Missouri campus have used intimidation tactics on student journalists to keep them from covering rallies and discussions on public property saying it violates their "safe space".  And when you consider that these are the people colleges are unleashing on the workforce and the Government--it would appear that we are in for some dark days ahead.

But now it appears there could be some hope on the horizon.  The Atlantic Magazine--which will never be confused for Fox News Channel--is asking what effect this "intellectual coddling" and efforts to "protect" students from offense will have on society long-term.  Two articles in back to back months warn of the growing danger of state-sponsored denial of free speech and free thought.  And then this week, similar sentiments from sportswriter Jason Whitlock both in print and on Colin Cowherd's talk radio show on Fox Sports Radio.

It remains to be seen if the concerns raised by those on the left will be heeded--or if the authors of the Atlantic articles will be denigrated as "writing from White Privilege" and Jason Whitlock will be branded an "Uncle Tom" who "sold out to corporate interests".  I guess they can just join the rest of us at the "bigots" table for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Tail Wagging the Dog

There was some head scratching a few years back when the University of Missouri left the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference.  They had been courted by the Big 10 to join them along with their natural rival Nebraska.  But after this week, it is clear that Mizzou does indeed belong in the SEC--because football obviously rules the campus.

African-American members of the team threatened to boycott all practices and games until Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and school President Tim Wolfe were fired or quit.  This was part of a larger protest on campus by black students who claim their complaints about racism were not being treated with enough seriousness.  Just a day after the boycott was announced, both administrators did step down--and the football boycott is being hailed as the step that finally forced some change.

But when you step back and take a look at the entire situation, why would football players refusing to play be the reason for the resignation of two men who had up until that moment weathered the storm?  Do college football players carry some sort of higher moral authority than every other student on campus?  Did Loftin and Wolfe think "Wow, if we've lost the football players, there is no point in carrying on"?  There had been vocal protests on campus for three months.  Heck, there was one guy threatening to starve himself to death if Loftin and Wolfe didn't quit.  Apparently, that threat didn't carry as much weight as the possibility of canceling Saturday's football game.

And it is in that game that we find the answer to all of those questions.  Missouri was scheduled to play Brigham Young University on Saturday at home.  If the game was canceled, BYU would still get their $1-MILLION payout.  That is how non-conference games are scheduled in college football--the home team pays handsomely for the other school to play on the road.  Without those payouts--which can fund a large majority of the football budget for those small schools the big boys play in September--nobody would give up the potential revenue of a home game and there would be no non-conference action at all.

And speaking of home game revenue.  A canceled contest would also require Mizzou to refund the pre-paid tickets to the 70-thousand or so fans that were coming to the game (given the Mormon Church's history in Missouri, it was likely to be a big crowd).  Add to that the lost revenues for concessions, parking and in-stadium advertising--and you can see where the real "motivation for change" was coming from among administrators.

There was plenty of talk on the sports radio dial yesterday about college athletes "learning what power they hold" and whether more teams who try to exploit that--especially when it comes to getting paid beyond their scholarships and stipends.  What if the Wisconsin Badgers team decided they weren't going to play that game against Alabama at Lambeau Field next year unless the school ended research testing on live animals?  Or Marquette Basketball players stayed off the court until the school removed all references to Christianity from the campus--since that is an obvious micro-aggression against non-Christians? 

There can't be a University President or Chancellor feeling real good about what happened this week down at Missouri--because it has revealed how many schools have sold their souls for the sake of sports.  Maybe the Athletic Director should be the one handing out the diplomas at graduation from now on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why Are We Here?

One of the most bizarre moments in recent American political history came in the Vice Presidential debate of 1992 when Ross Perot's running mate, Admiral James Stockdale, famously opened the night by asking "Why am I here?"  It led to Saturday Night Live spoofs and late night comedian jokes--not to mention calling into question Perot's own judgement.  But I would encourage any or all of the Republican presidential candidates to ask the same question during tonight's debate in Milwaukee.  Why are we here?

I say that because there is absolutely no reason for this debate to be in Milwaukee at this time.  The Wisconsin Primary isn't until April--five months away.  And by that time, at least nine of the candidates taking the stage tonight won't even be in the race anymore--including one of the two current "frontrunners".  Why get fired up about a bunch of guys--and a woman--you probably won't even have a chance to vote for next year?  All of these debates should be taking place at the University of Iowa or Iowa State or Drake--where voters will acutally have a chance to support all but two or three of the candidates

And why Wisconsin at all?  This is a state that hasn't voted Republican for President since 1984 (yes, Michael Dukakis won Wisconsin in 1988.  Don't you feel real proud of yourself right now?).  I know GOP Chairman Reince Priebus probably thought that he would be doing his buddy Scott Walker a favor by giving him a potential "home game" tonight (or maybe he thought Paul Ryan would have jumped in to save the party by this point) but as luck would have it, the Governor couldn't keep a tight enough budget to last 100-days in the race.

Maybe the Republican Party wants to use Milwaukee as an example of what happens when you elect Democrats and Liberals to power for 55 straight years.  Perhaps the candidates are being briefed on the urban decay, the school system that parents don't care about, the loss of manufacturing and brewing jobs, the high crime and incarceration rates and the illegal drug use.  Bonus points to any candidate who makes fun of Mayor Tom Barrett for thinking that all of those problems will go away if the city builds a streetcar line.

So get ready for Donald Trump to mention that his hotels are much nicer than any you are going to find in Milwaukee.  Fake a laugh at Chris Christie pointing out "you don't get to be my size without loving cheese".  And wonder why tonight's debate isn't being held at Circus World in Baraboo instead.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Godzilla Generation

I've been accused of being too harsh on Baby Boomers.  My Two Cents about the vanity of Boomers leading to a recommendation to change the name of the Oshkosh Seniors Center and the incredible waste of what could have been great sums of wealth over their lifetimes--leaving many of that generation heading into retirement still in debt and somehow dependent upon Government support to make it through their "golden years"--are considered by those older than me as being "unfair".  But it turns out that I am far from being along in my belief that it is time for the "Me Generation" to start to foot the bill for their decades of self-indulgence.

This weekend, Washington Post Economic Policy Reporter Jim Tankersley wrote a piece about the Godzilla-like effect Baby Boomers have had on this country economically and socially--and how all of the Presidential candidates running this year continue to pander to them.  My favorite part is a clip from Marco Rubio in one of the GOP debates when the topic was the impending time bomb that having the largest generation of Americans ever to go into the Social Security and Medicare programs--that are already nearly insolvent:

My mother is on Social Security and Medicare and I'm against anything that is bad for my Mother.

And there is the rub: We in Generation X know what the problem is--as well as the solution--but it would require telling our parents that maybe they should have done a better job of preparing for their retirements.  And that is why you won't see ANY candidate for President in tomorrow's debate in Milwaukee or at any other forum telling Baby Boomers that they can expect to get less in SSI benefits and to pay more for their health care.  That message will be reserved only for Gen X, Gen Y and the Millennials.

It's too bad so few of our grandparents are still around.  They could break out the old stories about what it was like to sacrifice during the Depression and during The War.  But it was their attitude of "We don't want our kids to have to sacrifice like that" that led to what we got with the Baby Boomers getting everything they wanted--and then some.

Of course, as soon as someone from our generation suggests such Government spending cuts, you get commercials like the infamous Democratic ad that showed someone looking a lot like Paul Ryan pushing an old woman over a cliff in her wheelchair.  Maybe a creative person in his or her 40's could do an ad showing a free-spirited group of 60-somethings driving their convertible off a cliff--Thelma and Louise style--with a Paul Ryan lookalike, a Miley Cyrus lookalike and a baby all tied to the back bumper.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Unleash the Real Savings!

Tomorrow, thousands of shoppers will descend upon the new Costco in Grand Chute.  They will leave with ten pound bags of chocolate chips, four-packs of breakfast cereals and 500-count boxes of diapers--all at per unit prices much cheaper than your standard department or grocery store.  But one area they will not save a single penny is at the fuel station.  Costco sells gas at its stores as well--but Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law prevents them from passing on any savings to its customers here that members in many other states do enjoy.

The primary reason my wife and I got Costco memberships last year was so that we could fuel up our rental Jeeps at the stores on all three islands we visited in Hawaii.  There, Costco sells gas for 40-60 cents less than all of the other stations.  And when you are talking about putting 17 or 18 gallons in at a time, that is some real savings--like eight or nine dollars every time we filled up.  And that is why those Hawaiian Costcos resembled photos from the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970's--with hundreds of vehicles lined up almost all day to fuel up--and those store run about 20-pumps in each location.

But here in Wisconsin, Costco's prices are the same as every other gas station in the surrounding community--all because of an antiquated law that costs residents money every time they go to fill up.  The argument for keeping the Minimum Markup Law has always been "If we get rid of it, the corporate stations will force the 'little guys' out of business--and then they'll use their monopoly to jack up prices".  But the real reason the Petroleum Suppliers support keeping Minimum Markup is that it give them a guaranteed profit margin--9.18% here in Wisconsin.  In what other industry does the government mandate that you must make a profit on the main product you sell?

You could argue that gas isn't even the main product of most convenience stores in today's market.  Most are like coffee shops and grocery stores that just happen to have pumps out front.  Many drivers buy their gas there only because that is where they also get their coffee or donuts every morning.  And remember, the discounts provided by Costco still require a membership.  Is every driver in the Fox Valley going to get a membership and drive to the one location they can use it every time they fill up?

Odds are, if there was no Minimum Markup, the difference in prices within individual cities would still remain fairly small.  And would you drive all the way across town to save three cents a gallon?  Personally I get gas at two places: the station that offers Regular with no ethanol a block away from my house and Fleet Farm because it's close to work and they give me the four cents off coupon when I buy something there.

So let's do away with Minimum Markup and allow the market itself to determine the price of gas.  If we see enough of a reduction, nobody would notice if the gas tax went up to actually pay for some of our road projects--instead of having to borrow another 350-million dollars.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

We Have Some Cleaning Up To Do

One of the complicating factors in having law established on the bench rather than through the legislative process is that a judge's ruling is usually limited to just one legal element--while laws pertaining to the same topic are usually left as is--creating a mess of inconsistencies.  Such is the case with the Federal ruling that struck down Wisconsin's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. 

While the ruling forced the state to recognize same-sex marriages, it did nothing to change the laws on adoption and child custody that are now affected by the change in the definition of marriage.  And that has been borne out by a case involving a Winnebago County couple.  The two women are legally married and one of them is the biological mother of a child they parent.  But under current state law--only the biological mother--and not the non-biological partner has any parental rights. 

The women went to court to try to have the non-biological partner become an adoptive parent of their child--but the state forms (and definitions) of adoptive parents require listing a "mother" and a "father".  They asked Judge Karen Seifert to declare those references unconstitutional and allow the non-biological partner to be listed as just "parent".  Judge Seifert--to her credit--recognized that this was technically not an adoption ruling, but rather a demand for a declaratory judgment--meaning that the state Attorney General should have been petitioned and allowed to argue the State's position on what legally constitutes "parents" in Wisconsin"--so she dismissed the request.  The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling this week.

While many of the lawmakers in Madison may not like the prospect of same-sex adoption and parenting, the legalization of same-sex marriage compels them to address the issue in our laws.  As they currently stand, Only the partner that is the biological parent of a child--or the legally-recognized adoptive mother or father--has any rights.  That means if the biological or adoptive parent was to be killed or incapacitated, the other partner would not be allowed to make legal or medical decisions on behalf of the child--even though she may have been co-parenting for years.  The same is true in cases of same-sex divorce--without legal recognition of an adoption by the non-biological partner, the biological or adoptive parent could keep the child away from a former spouse with no legal recourse.

So our Legislators have a choice.  They can start working to amend our adoption and child custody laws to recognize the legality of same-sex marriages--or they can go through plenty more lengthy and costly lawsuits only to have judges order them to do it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Now Is the Time To Make Your Case

Those of us not alarmed by "Global Climate Change" like to poke fun of those trying to propagate that agenda when Mother Nature doesn't quite comply with their storyline.  The United Nations climate report that shows global temperatures went up another one tenth of one degree in the preceding year always seems to come out when the northern half of the US is dealing with record cold or a cooler than normal spring.  And then there was the infamous Climate Change Summit that had to be canceled due to a blizzard in Washington DC.  But if there was ever a time for Global Climate Change Alarmists to be out selling their agenda--it would be this week.

What more proof of the destructive nature of global warming can you find than the weather we are seeing in Wisconsin this week?  High temperatures more than 20-degrees above normal?  Surely this is a sign that we have crossed some imaginary threshold and life in this area will never be the same.  And what better time than to gain the sympathy and support for your desire to exert total control over the US economy--under the auspices of making the weather "more normal"--than now?

I thought for sure I would see the Climate Change Alarmists at Lakeshore Golf Course yesterday--which was full of players (many in shirtsleeves and shorts) getting in very late season rounds.  Those "concerned about the planet" should have been telling us golfers that it would be "better" if we all had put away our clubs weeks ago because it should already be too cold to play. 

Perhaps the Alarmists were at the local schools--where they are more likely to find a sympathetic ear.  They must have been teaching the kids that it would "better for the planet" if they were on the playground this week bundled up in heavy coats, hats and mittens  instead of running around in warm sunshine.  They probably could have found plenty of students at the college to talk to and convince to join the cause this week--maybe even form a protest march--well once they stop throwing the football around and enjoying the sun in the Quad.

Or maybe the Alarmists were going door to door to spread their message.  It would have been easy to find people out in their yards or enjoying a walk the past few days.  Then they could learn that it would be "better for the future" if their furnace was already firing up dozens of times a day--running up their heating bills.  Sure, it presents a financial hardship to a single mother struggling to make ends meet and to feed the kids--but hey, we're trying to save the planet here.

I guess the Alarmists must have been holding up signs along the highways telling drivers passing by with their windows down and their feel-good summertime music blasting that they instead should have been on the lookout for freezing rain and scattered slippery patches like we are 'supposed to" have this month.  Would that be more dangerous?  Sure.  But that is the way it "should be" at this time of year.

So come on, Global Climate Change Alarmists, get out there today and strike while the iron--or in this case the weather--is hot. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Time For Honoring Yourself Will Soon Be At An End

How long should honor last?  Should it be eternal?  Should it last only until there is no one around who remembers the person or people being honored?  Should it end when society decides what a person or people are being honored for no longer deserves to be honored?  It's a debate I expect we will be having a lot more in the very near future.

The next forum for that debate will be in Brown County where officials want to "de-emphasize" the honor bestowed to Lieutenant Colonel Austin Straubel--for whom the airport was named in 1946.  Straubel was the first Brown County aviator killed in World War II--dying in a bombing run in the Pacific in 1942--less than two months after Pearl Harbor.  It gives you some idea as to the appreciation society in those days gave to that sort of sacrifice.

But now, having a name like "Austin Straubel" is apparently a "burden" upon the airport.  County officials and some of the business owners on the site say people "don't associate Austin Straubel with Green Bay"  and that somehow reduces the facility's marketability.  They want it renamed Green Bay International Airport--which of course conjures up images of long, glass-encased concourses, huge duty-free shops and cosmopolitan dining options and lounges--none of which actually exist at the Green Bay airport.  What's more, when you book a flight on any airline's website--all you need to do is enter "Green Bay" it brings up Austin Straubel.

All county officials had to do was wait another ten years or so when the final remaining World War II veterans will have all passed away and there probably would be no opposition to the name change.  Until the media started reporting on the outcry from current vets, 99.99% of Northeast Wisconsin residents would have just shrugged their shoulders if asked why the airport is named Austin Straubel.

Of course, it's not just the Green Bay airport that could be "de-memorialized".  There are widespread efforts in the South to remove any and all references to Ante-Bellum and Civil War era honorees.  It is considered to be a "micro-aggression" to have African-American children attend a school named in honor of a slave-holder.  Or to have a monument to a soldier who fought for the Confederacy in a public park or cemetery--even if it might stand next to a memorial for someone who helped fight to end slavery or to bring equal rights to those who had been enslaved.

We put up statues and plaques and name buildings and facilities after people because we DON'T want ensuing generations to forget what they did or what they sacrificed for--whether it is considered to be "good" or "bad" by changing societies.  Like it or not, it is part of what makes us American--and therefore it should not be matter how "unmarketable" it might be.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Livin' On Standard Time

Thanks to social media, complaining about the return to Standard Time becomes a "trend" at this time every year.  A meme with the moon coming up is titled "The sun setting at 4:30 pm?  That's great--said no one ever."  The internet is also chock full of opinion pieces talking about how "out-dated" Daylight Saving Time is--and that we should just spring ahead one year--and never fall back.

Well allow me to defend Standard Time.  As someone who gets up before 3:00 am every day for work--this is the best week of the year--by far.  I actually feel fresh when I woke up this morning--and will likely feel the same until my body adjusts to "regular time" again.  Throw in an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning and getting everything done by noon for a change and that's just an added bonus.

And with it getting dark very early now, taking my afternoon naps is much easier.  Although the 4:15 wake up rollover and slight panic that it might be AM instead of PM throws me off sometimes.  But when you go to bed around 8:00--it's easier to fall asleep when it is pitch dark than when the sun is still shining into the room.

And for those of us up here in the North--what difference does it make if it gets dark at 4:30 or at 5:30 during the winter?  It's not like you were going to spend that extra hour of daylight outside doing something fun.  Personally, I find it more depressing to be sunny and cold than dark and cold--because you are stuck in the house either way.

If it was up to me, we would "spring back" and have more light in the morning during the summer.  Those who labor outside would probably enjoy having their eight hours in before the heat of the afternoon rises.  Think of how enjoyable it would be to get your round of golf in before work instead of trying to race the sun after work (although that would likely cut down on beer consumption during and after the round).  Runners could get in more miles in the cool mornings and farmers could have their work done earlier in the day as well.

The main reason people complain about the return to Standard Time now is that they are slaves to their TV viewing habits.  Everyone should be refreshed and feel like they are sleeping in this morning--but most around here will be dragging butt because they stayed up late to watch the Packers--or perhaps Game 5 of the World Series.  Play those "night games" starting at 5:00--and everyone would have been in bed by 8:30 last night.

Now back to my nap--Daylight Saving Time--and the dreaded loss of an hour's sleep--is just four months away.