Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nothing For Me Here Either

As promised, this My Two Cents will be dedicated to a thoughtful consideration of the specific plans and policies put forth by Donald Trump during his three appearances in Northeast Wisconsin on Wednesday.  So here we go:

Good night, everybody!

Actually, it would be unfair to my on-air partner Bob Burnell--who usually uses the three minutes or so here to get some coffee.  So to fill that time, let's hear from The Donald when he was pressed by Chris Matthews in his pre-recorded town hall meeting at UW-Green Bay for his thoughts on abortion:

The amazing thing is, this is actually a flip-flop by Trump, who for years claimed that he was pro-choice--even supporting the legality of partial birth abortion.  Of course that was immediately followed by an equally clownish statement from Trump's campaign saying The Donald didn't mean any of what he just said in the town hall meeting--and that abortion is very complicated.

I think I've wasted enough time on this now.  Let's just get to our brokered Republican Convention so they can nominate someone with a clue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why I Don't Feel the Bern

I've heard Bernie Sanders' stump speech before, but on Tuesday during his visit to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center I listened very carefully to see if there might be a few--or maybe just one thing--that the Democratic Socialist may have to offer me as a voter and a resident of the United States.  Even though Bernie spoke for over an hour, I was not able to find a single thing that he promised that I need.

I pay about $500 a year for both my health insurance and health care costs--so I do not need his single-payer Medicare For All to save me "thousands of dollars a year".

I worked a full-time job, a part-time job and a paid internship while in school--so I do not need his free college tuition for all.

I paid off my student loans early to save on interest payments--so I do not need his "refinance as often as you want" student debt plan.

I am saving 20% of my gross income for retirement--so I do not need his increased Social Security benefits for all.

I do not smoke marijuana--so I do not need him to legalize its use.

I do not sell drugs--so I do not need his plan to lock up fewer drug dealers.

I do not commit crimes--so I do not need him to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences.

My great-great grandparents emigrated to this country legally--so I do not need his plan to grant me amnesty.

I have developed a skill set and a work ethic that has made me valuable in the job market--so I do not need him to raise my wage to $15 an hour.

I already pay the highest utility rates in the Midwest--so I do not need him to shut down coal and natural gas-fire power plants for higher-cost wind and solar facilities.

Now here are a few things that I do need--but that Senator Sanders failed to address Tuesday (or ever, for that matter)

I need to know that when I go to the airport some ISIS sympathizer won't be there with a luggage or car bomb--there was no mention of how to prevent that yesterday.

If the guy who hate-listens to My Two Cents and says that he "knows where I live" actually gets the idea to show up there, I need less hassle in buying a weapon to protect myself and my wife--but there was no mention of that yesterday.

And I need more of my tax money going to pay for current services for those who truly need them and less going to pay off debts from the past--but there was no mention of deficit reduction yesterday.

I'm guessing that I will never be "feeling the Bern".

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hearing What You Want to Hear

Over the weekend Upfront With Mike Gousha featured a Donald Trump supporter and what he liked about the Republican frontrunner as a Presidential candidate.  The Trump backer said that he liked the billionaires stance on the issues--and that all of the "media stuff" he just "tunes out".  But after The Donald did a tour of major market radio station talk shows on Monday, I have to wonder what this (and really all) Trump supporter has ever managed to hear.

A review of the interviews finds Trump contradicting his own statements and positions repeatedly.  Often in the same interview--sometimes even in the same answer to one question.  There are no specifics when it comes to economic recovery and expansion, fighting terrorism, addressing illegal immigration ("we're gonna build a wall" is not a specific plan) or cutting deficit spending in Washington.  "I'll get it done", "It'll be great" and "It will be huge" are not sufficient answers to instill the trust of people when it comes to solving big problems.

So I have to ask the Upfront guest: what isn't the "media stuff"?  Perhaps the hosts didn't ask Trump the right questions--since there was a lot of talk about nude photos of his wife, pictures of his wife that he tweeted comparing her to Ted Cruz's wife, whose fault it was that the race had become about the candidate's wives, his comments about women, his denial of making comments about women and blaming women for his comments about women.  By the way, you can add Vicki McKenna to his list of "female enemies"--he hung up on her during their interview yesterday.

When he comes to Appleton on Wednesday, I'll have to take the tape and edit out all of the so-called "media stuff" from Trump's speech and play back just the substantive material--the parts where he addresses the serious issues of the day, provides a detailed plan for addressing that problem, and does so in a consistent and plausible way.  I'm guessing Thursday's My Two Cents may be the shortest in history.  Although Trump's hardcore supporters will tell you its the greatest thing they've ever heard.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why Bigger Isn't Always Better

One mistake that will likely be made this week as the Presidential candidates criss-cross Wisconsin in search of primary votes is to take a look at the size of their election events and equate it to actual popularity with the voters.  Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will hold rallies drawing thousands, while Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz will conduct "town halls" with hundreds of people.  It would be a wrong to think that the campaigns with the huge turnouts are doing much better than those with the smaller turnouts--as each candidate is playing to their key audiences differently.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump need the big rallies.  For Bernie, the events need to be like rock concerts to keep the attention of his predominantly young support base.  His philosophy of collectivism needs a lot of people shouting at once "Yes, we should all be the same!!" to keep its power.  And since the youth vote is just as likely to completely forget to vote on election day as they are to actually cast ballots, you've got to remind as many as possible as often as possible.

Trump rallies also play on emotional euphoria that comes with a large group setting.  People are emboldened when they see 5,000 other people angry about the same things that they are.  They begin to gain a sense of power.  And if hate is their main motivator, there is an anonymity that is also provided by being part of the mob--so they cannot be singled out for backlash.

Clinton and Cruz events remain small-scale in nature at this time because they are following the manual for primary success.  Meet with those that can do the most to help for you right now.  The people who will make calls to other voters in the next week.  The business owners that mention their support to other business leaders at the next Chamber or Rotary or Lions club meeting.  And especially reach out to the big money donors who want one-on-one attention--not to stand in a long line to be part of a big, unruly crowd in the middle of the business day.

The problem that Trump and Sanders will run into if either were to win their respective nominations is that after holding huge rallies in the primary season, how do you make it look like your campaign is gaining additional support or momentum for the general election?  The Clinton or Cruz supporter who went to that first little town hall in March, gets a boost in optimism attending an arena event in October with 100-times more people.  Another Sanders or Trump rally at the same arena the second time around?  Been there, done that.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Let me get this out of the way before the game is played tonight: I HATE NOTRE DAME!!

It would just so happen my beloved Wisconsin Badgers would have to play the non-Big Ten team that I despise the most in the NCAA Tournament.  As I filled out my bracket, I stared at this matchup in the Sweet Sixteen for at least half an hour.  When I make my picks, I try to disregard the "name on the front of the jerseys" and take a look at who is the better team.  And on paper, Notre Dame is the better team--especially on offense.  But the thought of picking the Fighting Irish over the Badgers made me want to vomit.  It took all of my inner strength to click on Notre Dame's little circle in the on-line bracket contests to move them along to the Elite Eight.

I cannot remember a time that I did not hate Notre Dame.  I was a Michigan Football fan as a kid--and Notre Dame was always one of the biggest games of the year.  Many a Wolverines season was ruined by a loss to an inferior Irish team that always seemed to find some "magic" in South Bend.

Tony Kornheiser on ESPN likes to call Notre Dame the "University of Football in America".  I think Tony forgot one word in that title.  It should be the "University of OVER-RATED Football in America".  No school gets by on reputation more than the Irish.  They haven't had a legitimate shot at the National Championship since the early 1990's under Lou Holtz.  Since then, it's been nothing but a parade of teams that start the season in the Top Ten (because it is Notre Dame afterall) and who inevitably lose a couple of games--sometimes not even finishing in the top 25.

And they really haven't won anything in any other sports.  They have made it to the Final Four just once in their entire history.  The greatest moment in Notre Dame basketball is beating UCLA and Bill Walton to snap the Bruins' 88-game winning streak in 1974.  Digger Phelps parlayed that one win into a lifetime contract at the school and a post-coaching career as an ESPN analyst.

What really gets my goat is that Notre Dame acts like it is the greatest thing in college athletics.  They have rebuffed the Big Ten repeatedly when it has offered membership.  Instead, the school has chosen weaker conferences like the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference because they don't require Notre Dame to play a football conference schedule.  You know, "Notre Dame has to play a national schedule to appeal to its national fan base."  They also went out and negotiated a TV contract with the fools at NBC--so that they would not have share revenues with any other school.  And they even had their own deal with the old Bowl Championship Series to be included the former BCS games--even if they didn't warrant it.

By the way, Rudy is among the cheesiest, and stupidest movies ever made.  Even Joe Montana--WHO WAS ON THAT TEAM--says its a load of crap.

To make matters worse, I've got Notre Dame alums in my family.  A cousin and his wife both attended Notre Dame Law School.  Again, it takes all of my inner strength not to write "THE DOMERS SUCK!!" on their holiday cards every year.

So there I will be tonight, seething in my recliner watching my Badgers take on the hated Irish.  You may not want to talk to me for a week if Wisconsin loses.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Best Hot Dog I Ever Ate

I have been to the Brussels Airport--the site of this week's bombing attack.  In 1989 I traveled to Europe with other members of the Bay Port High School Political Club to visit Moscow, Paris and London.  Brussels was where we landed after departing Moscow.  We then took a bus from Brussels to Paris.  And the only thing I remember about the airport (and for that matter, Brussels itself) was that I ate the best hot dog of my entire life there.

It wasn't that the hot dog was any tastier than ones I've had at the old Mars Restaurant on Military Avenue in Green Bay, or in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, or at Hot Doug's in downtown Chicago or from Trails End here in Oshkosh.  That hot dog at the Brussels airport was the best ever because I had spent the previous four days eating Russian food.

Actually, that's a bit of mis-statement.  We didn't have real Russian food.  We just had incredibly bad food in the Soviet Union.  The first day at our youth hostel our bus wasn't ready to pick us up at the airport so we arrived too late for their meal service.  To accommodate us, they brought out plates of Swedish meatballs and veggies that didn't look too bad--until you realized that the food had apparently been plated previously--and when we didn't show up on time, was put into the refrigerator.  So we were served cold Swedish meatballs and veggies our first night in Moscow.  We also ate at the "first McDonalds" in the Soviet Union.  I can guarantee that they did not use American beef for the hamburger patties and I have no idea what constituted the "ketchup" on the burger.  Even the Cherry Coke that we bought at the Canadian-run Aerostar Hotel tasted awful--especially when we learned it was made from vegetable extracts.

So when our Aeroflot jet literally dropped out of the sky onto the runway in Brussels (a landing technique other fliers to Russia tell me seems to be their standard procedure) those of in the traveling party could not wait to enjoy "Western food" again.  After clearing customs, the first food stand we found was selling hot dogs--and we converged upon it like Saharan travelers throwing themselves into an oasis pond.  And the hot dogs tasted like real hot dogs!!!  It was a wonderful reminder of how much better the free market system was--where something had to be good since there were so many other options than just what the Government decided you could have.

So that is what all of the coverage of the Brussels Airport bombings reminded me of: the best hot dog I ever ate--and freedom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How Much Will Europe Take?

It will be interesting to see what the long-term reaction will be of European nations to another terror attack on their continent.  Brussels and Paris have now seen two such incident each in the past two years.  Plus the London Bombings of 2005 and a laundry list of smaller-scale attacks and lone-wolf incidents have nearly every country on edge.  Add to that the seemingly endless stream of Syrian refugees trying to settle in the same countries, and you have a recipe for ugly backlash.

We hear all the time from the growing Socialist movement here in the US about how we need to be "more like Europe" when it comes to our social mores and operation of government.  But those Socialists may want to see what happens next in their beloved Social Democracies of the Old World.

Remember, religious freedoms--while certainly tolerated across the continent--are not codified the same way they are here in the US.  There is no "First Amendment" spelling out limits on governmental control of the practice thereof.  In fact, the European Convention of Human Rights clearly spells out that the practice of a religion can be curtailed if it is deemed to be a "threat to public safety and the protection of public order".  How long before citizens of countries terrorized by one certain religion decide that it constitutes such a threat?

Far less open immigration policies could be tightened even more.  A number of eastern European countries won't even let Syrian refugees cross their borders on board trains or buses bound for other countries--out of fear that they may get off before reaching their final destination.  You laugh at a wall along our border with Mexico?  There are thousands of miles of barbed wire fences all across Europe already.

And the highly homogenous societies of Europe will close ranks around themselves even more.  You know why Belgian and French authorities had so little intelligence on the attackers the past few years?  Probably because their is practically no assimilation of Muslims coming to those countries into the society at large.  And no matter if they were born in Paris or how well they speak the language or how rude and snooty they may become, those Muslims will never be considered "French". 

If you think the rhetoric of Donald Trump is "scary" here in the US, just wait until about 15 Trumpkins starts their call to rid the European continent of the "threat of Islam" in 15-different languages in the months and years to come. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What This Trip Represents

For many Americans, President Obama's trip to Cuba this week is probably no big deal.  His promises to end the embargo that has been in place since the Castro family seized power on the island means a new tourist destination, Cuban cigars in stores and new markets for our products could be just around the corner.  But for those who really pay attention to what's going on in Cuba, the President's trip is a very big deal.  And no one captured that better yesterday that sports talk show host Dan LeBatard--whose own parents escaped from the Castro regime:

Remember, this is a sports talk show--not a three hour daily attack on President Obama with diatribes about how he can't do anything right.  And I'm sure today that LeBatard is going to be disappointed and betrayed because President Obama did not strongly rebuke the Castro regime--but rather engaged in his favorite form of "diplomacy": letting the media embarrass the dictator with whom he is speaking.

And I'm sure LeBatard and his fellow Cuban-Americans weren't too happy with the awkward photo of Castro raising Obama's arm like this was a victory celebration:

Oh well.  As long as we have more "legacy" to celebrate someday......

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's Complicated

Now that all of us Badgers fans have calmed down from the Bronson Koenig Show last night, let's talk about another coaching vacancy at UW-Madison.  Last week, after a precipitous drop in talent and a depressing lack of wins the last two seasons, Men's Hockey Coach Mike Eaves was relieved his duties.  Just like when Bo Ryan "retired" in mid-season from the Men's Basketball team, there is a more-than-qualified replacement already on campus who could be named the new head coach in a minute.

Mark Johnson is the son of "Badger Bob" Johnson--who built the Wisconsin Hockey program into a national power in the 1970's.  He was a member of the gold medal winning Miracle On Ice 1980 Olympic Hockey team (and had TWO goals in the historic win over the Soviets--Mike Eruzione only had one, yet he's the guy who's made an entire career from that one game) and he's already won three National Championships as a coach.  The only catch is that Johnson is the Women's Hockey coach at Madison--and to "promote" him to Men's Coach creates a campus conversation that Barry Alvarez probably doesn't want to have.

Right there, I stepped into the controversy by using the term "promotion".  Under Title IX, the position of Women's Hockey Coach is to be considered "on par" with that of Men's Hockey Coach.  Except everyone in the Athletic Department and who works off of campus knows that not to be true.  The Frozen Four for Men's Hockey will be on ESPN for the nation to watch.  I had to watch the Women's Frozen Four on an internet stream carried only by the NCAA itself.  Had the Badgers won the title this weekend, there would have been little celebration on campus--whereas a men's title would have filled State Street with revelers again.  The men play at the Kohl Center--the women at the much-smaller LeBahn Arena.

It seems like that when a male coach finds great success in coaching women's sports, they almost feel the need to never leave that side of the game out of fear of "offending" those associated with the game.  Connecticut Women's Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma is the prime example of that.  Auriemma has built UConn into such a power that they are looking at their fourth NCAA title in a row this season--and they haven't come close to losing a game this year.  Yet when the men's coaching position opened up at UConn a few years ago, Auriemma went out of his way to say he had no interest at all in the position.  It helps that coaches like Auriemma and Johnson have far fewer other quality programs to compete against to get top players and to rack up wins and championships.  That's another factor that nobody wants to talk about, either.

So as not to "offend" defenders of women's sports, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez will have to put on a national search for a new Men's Hockey Coach--even though he already has the best candidate behind another bench.  Fortunately, former Badgers player George Gwozdecky is available.  He won two men's titles at the University of Denver--and he'd probably like the chance to revive his alma mater.  It's a good thing he never decided to coach the ladies first.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Man Behind the Music

I was on vacation last week when Sir George Martin passed away, so I want to take a moment to honor the man who worked behind the scenes to produce the greatest music in history.  While there have been more than a few people referred to as the "Fifth Beatle", it was Martin who deserved it the most.  He was the one who took the sounds that the Fab Four heard in their minds and somehow managed to put it on tape.

Martin's role in making music history is a matter of great timing.  His background was in recording classical music and comedy albums.  The Beatles were his first rock and roll band, and at the beginning he figured they would record just one--maybe two albums--at the most.  His first great decision was to record them at all.  His second was to allow John Lennon and Paul McCartney to record songs they had written themselves.  If those first couple of albums had just been a bunch of covers--with original material relegated a few tracks on the B-side of the album--the greatest songwriting duo in history would have been quashed before it could get started.

And for most of the Beatles' recording period, Martin was hamstrung by the equipment with which he had to work.  The EMI Abbey Road Studios in London (which I have vistited, by the way) were fairly primitive and behind the times in the '60's.  The first few Beatles' albums were recorded on four-track machines--which meant that as the group wanted to add more instruments or voices than four to the mix, the takes had to be overdubbed again and again.  Pieces of one take would be edited to match sections of another take to create final versions of songs.

Martin's crowning achievement was taking two versions of Strawberry Fields Forever that John Lennon had recorded--which were in different tempos and different keys--and somehow getting them to mesh by controlling the speed of the tape during editing.  As someone who has listened to every song in The Beatles' catalog at least 1,000 times, you start to pay attention to subtle things each time--like the placement of a voice or an instrument in the stereo mix, or how background handclaps are looped in some songs.  All of that was the handiwork of George Martin.  He even wrote an entire orchestral score for the Yellow Submarine movie and soundtrack.

Martin has long been the caretaker of the original master tapes of The Beatles' recordings.  He oversaw the conversion to digital and the release of the CD's back in the late 1980's.  And he completely re-mastered the tapes in the early 2000's--so his death has me concerned.  Will we someday have to put up with "re-mixes" or "re-imaginations" of Beatles' classics from DJ Shorte or Flashmaster Flash?  You know how we like to "improve things" nowadays.

So thank you, Sir George for getting it all down on tape.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hold the Hearings

There isn't much that President Obama and I agree on--but he is correct in demanding the US Senate hold confirmation hearings on his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.  The President is also right in pointing out that he has Constitutional authority to make such a nomination--even though he is in the final year of his term.  I'm not sure where the idea came from that an elected official should just pack it in and stop doing his job just because other people are now running for it.  What would Republican reaction be if the President and his family just went on their Hawaiian vacation last December and never came back?  "Well, since no one wants me to my job, I may as well just sit in Paradise and cash my paycheck!"

The President made the Senate GOP look even more foolish by nominating a judicial moderate.  Republicans would have had a field day if another Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan had been sent their way.  But Merrick Garland is the guy that sent Timothy McVeigh to the death chamber.  He's also the guy that put the Unabomber--Ted Kaczynski--away for life.  So this is not your average soft-on-crime liberal federal judge we're talking about.  The fact that's first tweet about Garland was how "disappointing" his nomination is gives me some reason to believe the guy is fairly reasonable about the Constitution.

But Republicans have painted themselves into a corner from which they now refuse to leave.  Even if the President had announced yesterday that scientists had actually taken some of Antonin Scalia's DNA and created an exact judicial clone and that was going to be his nominee, they were all going to stand by their promise not to hold any hearings. 

As a Constitutionalist, this offends me.  Why does even considering the nomination project "weakness" on the part of Republicans.  Wouldn't project more "strength" if hearings were held and serious questions were asked about Garland's background and judicial philosophy?  You can still vote "no"--even without a really good reason--but at least you upheld your requirements in the process.  Instead, the "angry white men" become the real focus of the Presidential race through the summer--and hurt the party long-term.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Keeping Hope Alive

Let's all take a moment this morning to thank the good people of Ohio for keeping open the possibility that America may be saved from total chaos and destruction.  By giving their native son, John Kasich, a win in yesterday's primary, Ohioans make it than much more difficult for Donald Trump to get to the GOP national convention (in Cleveland, by the way) with enough delegates to clinch the nomination.  It's highly unlikely that Ted Cruz--even with his much-desired drop out by Marco Rubio last night--will get enough delegates either.  That would mean a contested convention--with the likelihood of a brokered nomination featuring someone who may not have even been in the initial race.

I had to laugh yesterday when I saw on-line articles and tweets about Jeb Bush being some sort of "convention hero" who would suddenly rise from the dead and convert the 3% support he had as an actual candidate in the race into the nomination.  It's bad enough the Democrats are putting a 1990's retread on the ballot--we don't need two.

Of course, my hope is that once the Trumpkins and Evangelicals are locked out of the Cleveland Convention center, real Republicans will take a look at their options and realize the only hope for the party is for the ever-reluctant Paul Ryan to be the nominee.  I even have a way for him to win over Trump supporters for the general election: steal plot lines from WWE wrestling.

On the final night of the convention, have Trump and Cruz engage in one final debate.  Promote it as a "Winner Take All Steel Cage Match" and just let them rip into each other--no moderator, no time limits.  And just when you think the debate has reached its most heated point, the lights go off in the convention hall and stirring patriotic music begins to play over the PA system.  The Fox News Channel announcers look at each other in disbelief and then shout in unison "OH MY GAWD, IS THAT PAUL RYAN'S MUSIC?!?!"

Suddenly a spotlight shines on the back of the hall and we see the House Speaker sprinting down the center aisle toward the stage--shirt off, maybe a little body glitter sprayed on for effect.  He jumps up to the podiums, body slams Ted Cruz to the ground and knocks out Donald Trump by hitting him with a chair that Clint Eastwood just happened to leave on the stage earlier in the night.  And then Paul grabs the Nomination Title Belt and holds it above his head--as the convention delegates roar with approval--and millions of Trump voters watching at home say "Dang, that's the guy I want as my President!"

So keep splitting those delegates Donald and Ted.  It just gives the rest of us hope that the best nominee will still emerge in the end.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Our New American Hero

So the NCAA plans to conduct a "thorough investigation" into the source of a leaked bracket that spread like wildfire across social media on Sunday--before their "broadcast partner" CBS had a chance to reveal all of the Men's Basketball Tournament matchups.  Given the Association's track record of investigative success (see Cam Newton getting away with being paid to play for Auburn) our one-man bracket-buster is likely safe.  However, I'm hoping that he is actually outed--as all of America would like to thank him for his service.

In case you weren't watching, CBS decided to slow-roll the brackets this year as part of a two-hour broadcast.  Instead of telling us who the number one seeds were, taking a commercial break, giving us the first region, a commercial break, and then revealing the next region, so on and so on--giving us the complete brackets in about 20-minutes--we got talking heads blathering about how excited they were to see the matchups, then discussion about the four number one seeds, then one bracket revealed followed by predictions and discussions about those first 16-games--rather than moving on to the next region right away.  Punctuating the idiocy was Charles Barkley being totally incapable of making his picks work properly on a touch-screen--all while the nation screamed for the next region to be revealed.

It was after about 45-minutes of this obvious effort to prolong viewership and artificially boost ratings that our "leaker" took matters into his own hands and put up the complete bracket on social media.  As you might expect, the post spread like wildfire with my "retweet" of it being "retweeted" several hundred times as well.  At first, there was apprehension--as there are "fake leaks" all the time.  But as CBS slowly showed more of the matchups, we all realized that the bracket we'd had in our hands for sometime already was in fact correct.

CBS now claims that it was well aware of the leaked bracket and that it was indeed correct--but they maintain that it did not influence their presentation--which still took an hour and 20-minutes to reveal all of the regions.  And it is that attitude that shows exactly why conventional electronic media is assisting in its own demise.  In a day and age when people have come to expect immediate information (and social media reaction), on Sunday, CBS pretended that it could withhold whatever it wanted from the people--just because they can.  But as more and more traditional outlets are discovering, the non-broadcasters have the means to scoop them whenever they want.  My suggestion to them would be to reveal the brackets in the first 15-minutes of next year's Selection Sunday show--then give us actual intelligent discussion and analysis of the matchups to keep us watching--and see what the ratings are for that.

So here's hoping that the NCAA really does find our "bracket leaker" and that his name is revealed to the rest of the country--because I can guarantee he will never have to pay for a drink for the rest of this year.

Monday, March 14, 2016

You Weren't Missing Much

Back in January and February remember how some people were complaining that Iowa and New Hampshire were getting all of the political attention and that Wisconsin voters were going to end up with "nothing to decide" when our April primary came along?  There was this attitude that somehow we were "missing out" on all of the "excitement" and "energy".  Well I can tell you, we didn't miss anything.

As (bad) luck would have it, my wife and I were in Florida as that state gets ready for its primary on Tuesday.  As you can imagine, every radio and TV commercial break is packed with attack ads against every candidate in the race--both Republican and Democrat.  Are you really "missing" hearing about Trump University ripping people off 24-times a day?  Are you "missing" hearing about John Kasich raising taxes 20-times a day?  Or that Marco Rubio flip-flopped on immigration, or that Ted Cruz lies about everything, or that Bernie Sanders doesn't understand how the economy works or that Hillary Clinton should be in jail another dozen times every day?

Would you have wanted to see a near-riot break out at a Donald Trump rally in Milwaukee instead of Chicago?  Are we "missing out" on appearing like our major city is out of control--with cops walking around bleeding from the head--and old white guys exchanging punches with young black men?  Is that the kind of "excitement" and "energy" you hope is part of Wisconsin's primary as well?

And do you feel like you are "missing out" because it wasn't a "social justice warrior" that jumped the barricade and tried to attack Trump at a rally in Appleton or Green Bay?  Are Fox Valley residents being denied their 15-minutes of fame appearing on Fox News or CNN to describe their view of the attempted attack--embellishing the details a little bit every time?

Yes, we may not get to vote for Carly Fiorina or Chris Christie on the Republican side.  And Hillary Clinton will have more than enough super-delegates to negate any potential Bernie Sanders win on the Democratic side.  But believe me, Wisconsin is "missing" nothing, by waiting another three weeks to put up with the circus that will be coming to town.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Retirement Test Run

My Two Cents will be going on its annual winter hiatus starting tomorrow.  My wife and I are heading to Florida to spend time with my parents and to enjoy the sun and warm weather.  While this annual journey started out as an adventure, it's becoming more like a test run for retirement.  Thanks to the Dave Ramsey plan, we are on pace to retire well before 65.  But what appears to be a challenge for those that retire early is what do you do with all of that extra time?  Next week, I'll get to find out. 

There are plenty of people in the community where my folks are that basically do nothing.  One of the tee boxes on the golf course backs right up to a house where EVERY time I have played there, the guy is sitting in his screened-in lanai and is watching TV.  It doesn't matter if I'm playing early in the morning or getting in a late afternoon round, I can count on that guy sitting in front of the boob tube.

Maybe that guy worked a job that required a lot of physical labor when he was younger and for him, this is a long-awaited and well-deserved rest.  But there is no way that could be me--no matter how old I get.  There are a lot of folks down there for whom the highlight of the day is going down to the mailboxes because they are going to run into the same people who go at the same time every day.  That's where they "catch up" on all of the stuff that happened while they were sitting in the house all day.

These trips also help me to dispel the theory that I'm "going to get sick of golf" if I played every day.  I am yet to come back from these weeks of nearly daily play saying "Wow, I'm glad I don't get to play golf again today!"  Usually I'm thinking, "Man, it might be another month before I can play--I wish I would have hit a few on the range before we drove to the airport!"  Playing the same course in your community could get boring--but they have traveling leagues and reciprocal agreements that allow you to play a number of other places in the area.  Plus, Florida only has about two dozen courses on the annual list of Best In America--which are open all year round.

By the end of the week, you even find yourself driving like the snowbirds and retirees.  You no longer look behind you when backing out of parking spots at the grocery store of the clubhouse.  You don't even see the people walking along the side of the road as your passenger side mirror nearly hits them in the hips.  You find yourself braking as you approach green lights because you never know when it might turn yellow.  And you drive for miles with your right turn signal on--just in case.

One thing I notice as I get older, I start looking forward to these trips earlier and earlier--and it gets harder and harder every time to come back.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Perfect Running Mate

Now that there is an air of inevitability to Donald Trump being the Republican nominee for President, there will be serious discussion (or as serious as one can be about a circus clown) as to who should be his running mate.  Expect to hear plenty of "establishment" candidates to be mentioned--as Trump "has to" give at least a nod to people who have the infrastructure in place to run a real campaign that could at least be competitive.

Chris Christie was beside Trump last night for a victory speech and has given his endorsement to "The Donald".  It appears from the video of that speech that Trump actually has Christie under some kind of voodoo spell where he stares off into space and just echoes everything that he hears coming from his new best buddy's mouth.

Some think John Kasich has stayed in the race this long just to get a VP nomination.  He hasn't been that harsh in his criticism of Trump (which is important, because like all blowhards, Donald doesn't forget even the smallest slight) and he might be able to deliver the key battleground state of Ohio for the GOP ticket.  But Kasich is a details guy--and if there is one thing the Trump candidacy is not about its actual facts and figures.

Ben Carson is another hanger-on likely hoping for a spot at number two on the ticket.  He also has given Trump the kid glove treatment.  But does Trump want to spend a week on the campaign trail trying to explain what his running mate meant by the "fruit salad of someone's life".

Forget all about the "establishment" candidates for Vice President or even the "conventional wisdom" choices that would help balance the ticket (like someone from the Midwest or the South) because the Trump campaign is neither conventional nor wise.  For The Donald, the name appearing under his on all of the campaign signs and internet banner ads needs to be as over-the-top, famous and (in his mind) "high quality" as his.  And that is why I predict he will chose his own daughter--Ivanka Trump--as his running mate.

When you think about it, "Trump and Trump 2016" makes perfect sense (as least to Donald).  He gets his name mentioned TWICE every time!  Ivanka has never said anything bad about him on the campaign trail.  She won't overshadow him by proving that she knows any more about economics, immigration policy, the Constitution, foreign trade, military tactics or diplomacy than he does.  As he will point out repeatedly, she's really good looking.  And most importantly to Trump supporters, SHE WAS ON TV TOO!!  Fortunately for The Donald, Ivanka turns 35 (the required minimum age for the position) less than a month before Election Day.

It makes about as much sense as everything else that has gone on in this campaign.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Night We Start Looking Ahead to 2020

If Super Tuesday goes as expected, this is the night that the Republican party starts looking ahead to who will run against President Hillary Clinton in the 2020 campaign.  Texas may be the only state where celebrity candidate Donald Trump won't score a victory tonight--making him very hard to beat for the nomination.  It also likely crushes my dream of a brokered convention this summer, where House Speaker Paul Ryan ends up getting the nomination and the GOP actually has a chance to win.

A Trump nomination also likely puts at risk the majorities Republicans currently hold in the Senate, the House and Governorships that are also up for election in November.  The average Trump voter isn't interested in actual issues--and there are not too many other candidates below him on the ballot that just go around yelling non-sequiturs, brag about how powerful they perceive themselves to be or pretend that they are somehow going to operate outside the parameters of the Constitution and current laws.  What member of Congress--besides Sean Duffy here in Wisconsin--had his own reality show?  How can they consider themselves qualified to hold public office?

I think it can be a good thing to suffer the kind of blood-letting defeat that lies ahead with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.  It will force the party to examine itself at all levels--because if you have just one person--Speaker Ryan--that offers any sort of hope for a credible national candidate that everyone in America hasn't already grown tired of hearing.  Move the Evangelicals out of the way and get the disciples of Karl Rove and their "divide and conquer" mentality out of leadership so the GOP can return to being the party of fiscal conservatism and letting people live their lives they way they want to.  Let the Democrats go back to being the party of angry people.

So tomorrow, let's dust ourselves off, avoid the temptation to pout and point fingers of blame, roll up our sleeves and get to work on a winning strategy for 2020.  Election Day is just four years and eight months away!