Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

You may have missed it last week with the holiday and deer hunting going on, but a Federal Judge ruled that it is unconstitutional to have Democrats living in highly-concentrated areas in Wisconsin.  That is the gist of a ruling that finds the current legislative districts drawn up after the 2010 census are illegal. 

The term "gerrymandering" was used to described the drawing of the district lines by Republicans in the Democratic suit.  The "mander" part of the word comes from "salamander"--which is what was used to describe districts drawn up by Democrats in Massachusetts in the 1800's to protect their candidates:

When you look at the current Wisconsin district map, you don't see narrow strips of one district winding around others to capture the voters Republicans want:


As I have mentioned before, it is very easy to place Democrats into just a handful of districts in the state.  They tend to live close to their Government jobs so they can take Government-provided transportation or use public bike share programs to ride Government-provided trails while sending their kids to Government-run magnet schools.  Or perhaps they are stuck in Government-supported housing in areas where Democrats have been in power for 50-years and there are no economic opportunities.  Republicans tend to like having more space and they prefer to drive directly to wherever they want to go whenever they want to do it.

Political watchdogs have long decried the lack of "competitive elections" in Wisconsin.  They think that if the lines are redrawn--usually by a "non-partisan" non-elected committee--balance will be brought to the system.  But I think Republicans should engage in some real gerrymandering instead.  Redraw districts that will break up the cities of Madison and Milwaukee into dozens of little pieces--pairing them with outlying, heavily-Republican areas.  Let's see what happens when some representatives from Milwaukee who haven't faced a challenger in years, have to go up against well-funded candidates from the WOW (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) counties.  And it would be interesting to see a self-identifying trans-gender vegan from the UW Madison campus area have to visit a Monroe dairy farmer and spend ten minutes lecturing him on how his operation is torturing animals--and then ask for his vote.

So Republicans should make an effort to make sure there are NO safe seats for Democrats anymore--and make it a "fair contest" in every district.  Remember, they asked for it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Gigantic Waste of Time

Have you ever had your boss drop a project on your desk that you know will require a ton of work and won't result in anything actually being done?  Jill Stein is trying to drop one of those projects on the desks of County Clerks across Wisconsin.  Stein's demand for a recount--which everyone insists will not change the results of the Presidential election and will not find any evidence of outside tampering with election machines or results--will be one of the greatest wastes of time, resources and money in state history.

In addition to the time County Clerk offices will spend recounting the ballots, you will also need to have observers from the Green Party, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on hand in all 72-counties to make sure that the procedure is conducted in accordance with the law.  That leads me to wonder if the Stein campaign could even find 72-supporters to be in every county (most of them likely don't have jobs to go to for two weeks).  And to meet the December 13th deadline to verify Wisconsin's results, all of those county workers will likely have to work the next two weekends.  Sure hope all those folks had their Christmas shopping done!

The state Elections Commission put the price tag on the recount at $3.5-MILLION dollars--which is the cost the 72 County Clerks around the state put as an estimate of how much it would cost them to review all of their ballots.  And that won't cover the cost of attorneys hired by the campaigns to answer questions about legal procedures.  Corporation Counsels in every county will also have to be "on call" during the recounts to deal with the same issues.  The irony of all of this is that Jill Stein has raised more money to fund her recall threats than she did during her entire Presidential campaign.

And to make the process even more time-consuming and labor intensive, Stein is insisting that all of the ballots be hand-counted--because you never know, the Russian hackers might still be able to access those voting machines--even though none of them are hooked up to the internet.  Even after the state Elections Commission refused to order a hand count, Stein immediately filed a lawsuit to get a judge to order the process--and to add more expense to the recount as well.  And since that suit was filed in Dane County, we can probably expect a judge who also buys into the Stein's delusion of "outside forces affecting the election".

It's a shame that we here in Wisconsin will have to bear the brunt of an ego-maniac's quest to remain in the public eye--and her desire to be seen as a "champion for honest government".  Well, enough of me talking--I'll let you get back to preparing those TPS reports that nobody ever reads.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Comrades in Arms

In 1996, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott--the daughter of German immigrants--came under fire for her comments painting Adolf Hitler.  Schott said that German people initially liked what Hitler did for their country, "but then he went too far".  Schott was belittled in the press and was eventually suspended from running the team and was forced to sell the franchise by Major League Baseball.  She died a few years later a broken woman.  For most of the weekend I thought Marge Schott had risen from the dead as I heard about the liberal tributes to Fidel Castro.

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein--who is forcing a recount of Wisconsin's votes even though every political expert says there is no chance of overturning Donald Trump's win--posted on Twitter "Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire".  President Obama issued a statement saying "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."  Madison Mayor Paul Soglin--who illegally met with Castro in Cuba back in the 1970's--called him a "popular leader who inspired generations of Cubans".  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went full-on fan boy referring to Castro as a "larger than life leader that served his people" and that his "supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people".  Former British Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn called Castro a "Champion of Social Justice".

These accolades stood in stark contrast to the comments from Cuban-Americans who fled the island after Castro came to power--targeting them for political dissent or seizing the assets of their family businesses.  They tell the stories of family members left behind that were imprisoned without trial, executed upon Castro's orders only, and the refusal to never hold democratic elections during his 50-years in power.  And let's not forget the thousands that died trying to flee Cuba in homemade rafts or boats that sank and capsized in the ocean.

You can understand why all of those liberals choose to ignore the egregious human rights violations and instead choose to focus on what they consider to be all of the "good things" Castro did for Cubans.  He held a power that they all covet.  Castro decided what type of speech would be allowed.  Castro decided what products would be produced in his country.  Castro decided what curriculum would be taught in all schools.  Castro controlled the health care system.  Castro took riches away from those who had "exploited the workers" before he came to power.  Castro was a "champion of social justice" as he decided what was a crime and what the punishment would be--without the hassle of passing laws or holding trials.  And the fact that he thumbed his nose at the United States for so long just endeared him even more to the American Left.  It's just too bad that he "went a bit too far" in exerting that control.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Kicking Butt, Old School Style

On Saturday, the Menominee Maroons will play for a Michigan state high school football title--and a quarterback will never step on the field for them.  In an era where many schools have gone to the
Spread/Read Option offense that slings the ball all around the field on every down, Menominee runs an offense that harkens back to the days when the forward pass was illegal.

The Maroons operate the Single-Wing offense--which was invented by Pop Warner in 1907--when he was coaching the Carlisle Indians and his star player was Jim Thorpe.  For those not old enough to have seen the Single Wing in action, the fullback and the halfback line up with a hand on the ground about four yards behind the offensive line and the center may snap the ball to either one of them to start the play.  There are no "wide receivers"--just "ends" who run little slip routes after faking like they are blocking for another running play.  The halfback or fullback usually throw the passes.  A blocking back lines up behind one of the tackles--usually on the same side as the wing-back--who lines up just behind one of the ends.  There is never a direct-snap to a player under center.

One of my first "professional" play-by-play assignments was a Menominee football game.  Fortunately, I had been briefed that they ran the Single Wing--but nothing prepares you for seeing it in person yourself.  The offense is predicated on misdirection.  The center snap is directional--so the halfback or fullback usually catch it while running sideways or toward the line of scrimmage.  There are reverse inside handoffs, there are laterals to the wingback running behind the formation, there are throwback passes between the backs--and it's all behind trap blocking--so defenders never know which way the play is going based on the offensive line movement.

Don't think that Menominee's run to the state title game this year is some kind of "Hoosiers" on a football field.  The Maroons already have three state titles--and have been to the final four nearly a dozen times.  In fact, one of the years I was in Menominee, they won the champtionship--beating a powerhouse Detroit suburban private school with future college players soundly--all while making them look clueless on how to stop such a "primitive" offense.

The key to Menominee's success is that the Single Wing is the only system they ever learn.  From day one at Pee Wee practice, they run it.  The kid playing center on this year's high school team has been the center his entire football career--since he needs to know in which direction to hike the ball and which gap he has to block.  The halfback and fullback have played those positions for as many as ten years--knowing all of the options that can be called from just a single formation that is used all game long.

It's nice to know that in an era filled with so many "offensive geniuses" who have completely abandoned the running game (I'm looking at you Mike McCarthy) that the "groundbreaking system" can still win.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

VERY Bad Math

If you think the 2016 election is over, you may be sadly mistaken.  Social media is ablaze with screenshots of results from Outagamie County showing that there were more votes for President reported on election night than there were actual ballots cast.  In Grand Chute there was a discrepancy of 12-hundred--while in Hortonville, the "overage" was more than 400.  "Russians hacked the voting machines in Wisconsin!" was the usual response.  I spoke with Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright about it Tuesday morning and she blamed the discrepancies on "reporting errors" or "bad math" from the polling places provided by "tired" election inspectors.  I expected that the number of ballots cast would be adjusted up to match the actual candidate vote totals reported on Election Night.

But then the official numbers as tabulated by the Board of Canvass came out yesterday afternoon and they show that in Grand Chute, Hortonville and the couple of other municipalities with "reporting errors", every single "extra vote" came off of Donald Trump's numbers.  The Hillary Clinton results were virtually unchanged--but Trump lost a total of more than 16-hundred votes in the "final" Outagamie County results.  That's some REALLY bad math! 

And now that will really fuel the "election was rigged" firestorm.  I'm already seeing extrapolations that argue you could apply the Outagamie County results to all 72-counties in Wisconsin--and Hillary Clinton would have won by 50-thousand votes--instead of losing by 27-thousand.  I also expect plenty of scrutiny to be placed on those election inspectors that phoned in the results--because the way we cover elections now, early unofficial results are used to call winners--sometimes with less than half the precincts reporting.  And once a state is called, everyone's attention moves somewhere else.  There isn't much focus on any changes that are made to the "official" vote certified by the Board of Canvass a couple of weeks later--after the "winner" is already hiring staff and cabinet members.

The Clinton Campaign is being urged to demand a recount in Wisconsin--and there is an on-line petition to have the Department of Justice (while it is still headed up by President Obama appointees) to conduct an audit of election results and procedures in several battleground states that Clinton lost unexpectedly.  The good thing that will likely prevent Wisconsin from the international mockery and outrage that Florida received in 2000 is that flipping our 10 Electoral College votes won't be enough to keep Donald Trump from still claiming victory (unless the Feds nullify the results in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well). 

By the way, I'd suggest not bringing this up at the Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow--until after the pumpkin pie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Protest With Honor

Tonight's meeting of the Oshkosh Common Council should be interesting--as Councillor Caroline Panske returns to the dais for the first time since refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance two weeks ago because she is angry Donald Trump won the Presidential election.  We have heard from upset citizens and even a few groups that plan to come down to City Hall tonight and give Panske a piece of their minds.  But if social media's reaction to Panske's actions are any indication, things could get ugly early.  And that kind of discourse just gives credibility to Panske's belief that America under Trump will be hate-filled and intolerant.  So here is my suggestion for those who want to go and "make a statement" tonight.

If you do go, leave the "Make America Great Again" hats and t-shirts at home.  The election is over--your side won.  Don't be that person that still drives around in their Volvo with the original "O" Obama bumper sticker from 2008 and a Russ Feingold sticker from 2010.  Secondly, leave the flags at home as well.  They have a flag in the Council chambers and that is the one everyone should be focused on for the pledge.

Don't boo Ms Panske when she comes into the room.  Icy stares are okay.  Fight the urge to give her the double-barrel "bird" too.  To quote First Lady Michelle Obama: "When they go low, we go higher". 

When it comes time for the Pledge itself, make it the loudest Pledge anyone has ever heard.  There will be a group of kids from the local schools to lead everyone.  Impress them with how much you believe in what you are saying and make them proud to be part of the exercise in democracy.  And when the Pledge is done, don't whoop and holler, don't applaud and whistle, fight the urge to start a U-S-A!! chant.  Your chance to make your statement is coming up quickly.

After a few administrative actions are taken, public comment will begin.  When you come up to the microphone, don't address Ms Panske directly.  Instead, use your five minutes to relate what the flag means to you.  Tell the story of how your great-grandparents came over from Europe, went through Immigration at Ellis Island, learned English, and went to work--and who took incredible pride in the opportunity for a better life the Stars and Stripes represented for them.  Or tell the story of the World War II veteran in your neighborhood who flew his flag on a lighted pole outside his house every day and night--replacing it if it ever showed the slightest sign of fading or fraying--because he had fought and defeated real fascism, and lost many a good friend in that effort.  Or tell the story of the folded flag display your aunt keeps on her mantle in honor of her son that was killed in Vietnam and how she still cries on that date every year.  Or talk about the pride you feel when you drive by a cemetery around Memorial Day or the Fourth of July and you see row after row of small flags marking the graves of all those who served our country.

That's my recommendation to make any protests tonight civil and educational--because people like Ms Panske and many other liberals believe that the United States of America is just about who is President and the Government's power over you--when the rest of us know its about the people that grant power to the government--and that is what we should have in mind when we put our hands over our hearts and recite that Pledge.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Democracy's Hard, Dude

Much has been made about how the TV cartoon The Simpsons "predicted" Donald Trump's presidency back in the 1990's.  Well did you know that they almost nailed the effort to decriminalize marijuana in Oshkosh as well?

In the 2002 episode called "Weekend at Burnsie's", Homer Simpson is attacked by birds--which leaves him with injuries to his eyes.  His doctor prescribes him medicinal marijuana to deal with the pain--which Homer then smokes all the time (actually making him a better worker at the power plant).  But as "medicinal marijuana" becomes more popular in Springfield, city officials hold a referendum to ban it.  Homer leads the opposition to the referendum--not wanting to lose his "right to get high"--even organizing a concert featuring pot-head-jam-band Phish to hold a get-out-the-vote concert.  Unfortunately, the concert is actually held the day after the election--and the potheads all forgot to vote.

Fast-forward to 2016 as the group "Decriminalize Oshkosh" went out and collected four-thousand signatures in an effort to force a referendum to reduce the fine for marijuana possession to just $25.  They made a big deal about reaching the number needed for the referendum--and let us in the media know when the petitions were going to be turned in so they could be shown at City Hall with their big stacks of papers bringing "power to the people".

There was just one problem--well two actually--no one did the research into what can and cannot be brought up for direct legislation.  City officials now point out that you can't hold a referendum to just amend an existing ordinance.  There would have to be an effort to fully repeal and replace with an entirely new ordinance.  And even if you could amend an ordinance by referendum--Decriminalize turned in four differently-worded versions of their petition--meaning any citizen could have challenged their legality in court--and won.

There are some positives that can be taken away from this exercise in failing at democracy.  One, Oshkosh can continue to make a nice profit off potheads--and two, we don't have to sit through a 12-hour Phish concert where they play just five songs.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Paul Ryan Presidency

Before the election I was told that I was "wasting my vote" by writing in Paul Ryan for President.  Donald Trump supporters told me that I was actually "voting for Hillary Clinton by doing that".  But it would appear that after the election I will actually get what I wanted.

I'm not insinuating--like some liberals--that Donald Trump is going to be assassinated or impeached--and that something untoward will happen to Mike Pence as well and that Ryan would ascend to the Oval Office without ever being elected--like Gerald Ford did.  Instead, I'm citing the same thing that did yesterday: The election of Donald Trump will actually create a power void in Washington that Ryan will fill.

One of the criticisms of Trump when he was running for President was that his platform was full of generalizations--with no specific plans for job creation, regulation reform, or tax cuts.  Well, Paul Ryan has a budget all set to go.  He has de-regulation proposals all set for Congressional approval.  He has an anti-poverty program that works with the private sector instead of expanding Government programs.  And he has the Republican majorities in both houses to get them all passed.  The so-called "Do Nothing Congress" is poised to become the "Do Everything Congress"--with Trump existing just to put his signature on bills to make them law.

The Slate article does raise the possibility that Trump could use his veto pen to block some of Ryan's proposals--not because he opposes the policies--but rather as an act of revenge for Ryan rebuking him several times on the campaign trail.  There is also the possibility of Ryan taking too much credit for economic improvements--and Trump becoming jealous that he is not "the star".  Having the gift of political savvy, I think Paul Ryan will find a way to make the Reality Show President still feel like all of this was "his idea".

And the best part of this is that I--and the others that wrote-in Paul Ryan for President--didn't have to go against our principles in the voting booth to get what we wanted.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Loyal to a Fault

They don't give incoming Presidents a required reading list, but everyone coming into the White House should be given a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin's profile of Abraham Lincoln: Team of Rivals.  For those not familiar, Lincoln filled his Cabinet with a number of men who had opposed him in the Presidential race--and were often his biggest critics.  Keep in mind, these were the days when the entire nation was on edge as we approached the Civil War--and discontent was everywhere.  Despite his philosophical differences with many of his closest advisors, Lincoln managed to build a consensus amongst all of those rivals--especially when it came to fighting the Confederacy and preserving the union.

It's a lesson that President-Elect Donald Trump may want to consider as it appears he is going to fill his Cabinet and White House staff with only those who were "loyal" to him from day one.  Yes, Chris Christie ran against Trump early in the primary process--but he was never critical of the Republican frontrunner or questioned his intentions.  And when it was clear that his own campaign was going nowhere, he hitched his wagon to the "Trump Train" (although, you have wonder what good it did--Trump didn't come close to winning New Jersey).

The same is true of Rudy Giuliani.  He was the first "big name" Trump backer--even though it alienated him from the Republican establishment.  Now his name is being bandied about for a couple of Cabinet positions.  Laura Ingraham--a vocal supporter of Trump from early in the process on her radio show here on WOSH--is reportedly under consideration for White House Press Secretary--which could lead to the greatest press conferences ever, given her constant tirades against the "mainstream media" with whom she would have to work.

And every name mentioned for a position in the Trump administration has one thing in common--they will all be "yes-men" or "yes-women"--likely to never challenge the President--or even ask him to consider a different viewpoint.  Of course, given the way Trump demeaned anyone that dared question his knowledge of world or political issues--those folks would rather just watch him make a fool of himself from afar.  That was another gift Lincoln possessed--he was able to take you down a peg or two without making you feel like you had just been emasculated.

Maybe three years from now, a noted historian will write about this administration in a book entitled Team of Sycophants.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gone Wisconsin!

As expected, Democrats in Congress are introducing measures that will eliminate the Electoral College.  California Senator Dianne Feinstein calls the process of electing a President an "anachronism" and that it is time to "bring our democracy into the 21st century".  Fortunately, 3/4's of the states would have to ratify a Constitutional amendment for that to happen--so this is just demagoguery at its finest.

But an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Tuesday went even a step further--calling for the elimination of states altogether.  Author Lawrence Samuel believes that the notion of having 50 states is "outdated and un-necessary".  At first he tries to argue that running 50 state governments is "expensive" and a waste of money.  Samuel then claims that the experiences of those living in New York really aren't that different than those of us living here in Wisconsin--so why shouldn't we all just be "the same"?

Taking away the bitterness over the "won the popular vote--lost the Electoral College vote" aspect of the recent election, Liberals would still love the idea of eliminating states because it results in greater consolidation of Government power.  Why have 50-legislatures decide what the law of individual states should be when you can a smaller--and easier-to-control--Congress decide what is best for every single person in the country?

Gone would be individualized education standards, penalties for crimes, tax rates and business regulations approved by those that believe that is what is best for their state.  Those would be replaced by single directives coming down from even larger bureaucracies in Washington, DC.  And who would you be able to hold accountable for that governance?  Not the 132 state representatives and the governor we currently have in Madison--but the nine members of Congress that would represent what used to be "Wisconsin" and the President.  (I'm not sure what would become of the Senate--as that is the chamber that was designed to share power equally between all of the states--and liberals just want their densely-populated urban centers to control national power.)

Doing away with the states would also require designing a new flag--as thirteen stripes and fifty stars wouldn't mean anything anymore.  I'd expect that the newly-created Federal Bureau of National Symbols would come up with a design featuring rainbow colors and a unicorn because that will make everyone "feel good" when they look at.  And perhaps they wouldn't even think about losing yet another bit of their individuality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bleak Prospects

I was doing a story yesterday about State Senator Kathleen Vinehout being asked about running for Governor in 2018 when I looked on-line to see if she really is considered to be a Democratic front-runner.  That research took me to an article from last January in the Isthmus--the free, liberal newspaper in Madison (as opposed to the subscription-based liberal newspapers in Madison) that profiled the "Six Democrats that could challenge Scott Walker in 2018".  I don't know if the Isthmus was planning on re-visiting that list after last week's election debacle--but if they do, they aren't going to like what they find.

Number One on the list is State Senator Jennifer Schilling of La Crosse--who is also the Senate minority leader.  Schillling won her re-election bid by just 58-votes last week over a Republican opponent she beat rather handily in the 2011 recalls.  There will likely be a recount in that race starting next week.  Not exactly the kind of momentum that leads to a statewide challenge against Governor Walker.

Number Two on the list is Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson--who is a former Assembly Majority leader as well.  Nelson just got soundly trounced in a Congressional race that many across the country thought would be competitive.  And he didn't even win Outagamie County!!  Like Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, Nelson may want to consider sticking to "non-partisan" races.

Number Three among "Walker Challengers" is Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  Parisi is another former state lawmaker who found a more comfortable position in county government.  He would do well in a race against Walker in Dane County--but what Democrat wouldn't?  And the term "Dane County Executive" won't fire up the outstate voters who will see him as an over-the-top liberal.

Number Four in the Isthmus list is Senator Vinehout.  However, she ran for the Democratic nomination in the recall election and lost to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and she was forced to drop out of the primary in 2014 against Mary Burke because of a car accident--so do voters rally behind a two-time loser already?

Number Five on the list was State Senator Julie Lassa of Stevens Point--who just lost her re-election bid last Tuesday.  That pretty much ends that challenge to Governor Walker.

And Number Six is Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee.  She who sang about the end of days for Governor Walker two years ago--before he won again.  Moore also failed to rally any constituent support for Hillary Clinton last week--which calls into question her ability to run it up enough against Walker in the City of Milwaukee to offset a severe lack of support across the rest of the state.

As this article proved, a lot can change in politics in less than a year--and perhaps a serious challenger to Governor Walker could emerge within the Democratic Party before the end of next year.  But right now--I doubt he and his strategists are losing much sleep.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sitting Them All Out

Oshkosh Common Council member Caroline Panske has decided she is no longer going to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings at City Hall anymore--because President-Elect Donald Trump doesn't embody what she thinks the United States should be about.  It is certainly her right to do so under the First Amendment right to free speech--although I'm sure she would be the first to call for a ban on any free speech that she thinks people should find offensive.  But I have to wonder why she had been taking part in the Pledge before this?

Why was Caroline Panske saying the Pledge while the Obama Administration deported 2.4-MILLION illegal immigrants between 2009 and 2014?  Why did she not sit after President Obama approved drone strikes that killed American citizens in Afghanistan and Yemen in 2009, 2013 and again last year?  Is that what she believes America stands for>

She probably wasn't that old at the time, but did Panske refuse to stand for the Pledge after Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act--which barred the Federal Government from recognizing same-sex marriages?  Or when President Clinton signed crime and anti-drug laws that put millions of African-American men behind bars with mandatory prison sentences and felony convictions?

Caroline Panske wasn't born at the time, but would she have honored the flag after hearing Lyndon Johnson drop the "N-word" repeatedly in Oval Office recordings?  Would she have recited the Pledge after Franklin Roosevelt sent Japanese-Americans to internment camps after Pearl Harbor--or ordered the military services to segregate units by race?  Or when Woodrow Wilson screened the movie Birth of a Nation at the White House--and worked to keep Blacks from attending Ivy League colleges?

There would have been a lot of sitting during the seven Presidential administrations that fought the abolition of slavery before Abraham Lincoln was elected.  Not to mention when Andrew Jackson sent the tribes on the Trail of Tears.  And let's not forget that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves--and did not free them upon their deaths.

So really the question for Caroline Panske should be why would you have ever been standing for the Pledge of Allegiance if the words of Donald Trump offend her so deeply--but the actions of his Democratic predecessors don't seem to bother her so much

Friday, November 11, 2016

The One College Liberals Don't Control

Because a Democrat has won the popular vote for President--but did not win the White House--for the second time in 16-years, calls are growing stronger to do away with the Electoral College.  "THIS IS NOT HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS!" is a common argument for simple, direct majority rule on the election of a President.  Which would be a great argument if the US was a true democracy--and not a representative democracy.

The Founding Fathers developed the electoral process through a series of compromises after winning the Revolution.  There were advocates for direct election of the President.  There were those who argued that Congress should elect the President--as such an important decision could not be trusted to the "unwashed masses".  It mirrored the debate over whether we should have a strong, centralized Federal Government or if more power should be delegated to the states themselves.  In the end, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe came up with ingenious ways to achieve a balance of power.

First is our bi-cameral Congress.  The House of Representatives is based strictly on state population--the bigger your state, the larger your share of the representation.  But the Senate spreads its power evenly among all 50-states--so that Delaware has just as much clout as California.  And that was the balance the Founders achieved in the Presidential election process with the electoral college: a greater distribution of power to every state--while still giving greater (but not total) influence to more populous states. What's more, each state was granted the power to determine their own way to select their electors--with most deciding to be "winner take all"--while a handful now distribute their electors by Congressional Districts won.

The irony of the "repeal the Electoral College" effort is that it would require the approval of the very states that it benefits the most.  Maybe we here in Wisconsin wouldn't mind not getting all of the candidate visits or the endless barrage of campaign ads every four years.  But we also wouldn't want to be completely ignored in favor of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and the other major population centers that by themselves would have the votes to elect the President.

So where you stand on preservation of the Electoral College shouldn't depend on if your party's candidate won or lost this week.  It should be based upon your belief that we should just be a country called "America"--or if we should continue to be the United STATES of America.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Happens When...

Republican leaders have now had a full day now to celebrate their retention of majorities in both houses of Congress--and to start the kiss-and-make-up phase of their relationship with President-Elect Donald Trump.  But I hope that behind the smiling faces is a realization of the incredibly dangerous situation in which those leaders now find themselves.

Donald Trump may have been the Republican nominee--but he is certainly not a Republican--nor a Conservative.  He did not run on the "GOP Agenda".  He received luke-warm at best support from those he must now work with in Washington.  And he most likely feels like he owes nothing to those Republican leaders to advance their causes either.

So what happens when Hillary Clinton does not get "locked up"?

What happens when no "magnificent wall" is built along the Mexican border?

What happens when 13-million illegal immigrants are not deported from the country?

What happens when an Islamic Terrorist that came to the US as a refugee shoots up a shopping mall?

What happens when the Affordable Care Act is repealed--but is not replaced due to a Democratic Filibuster in the Senate?

What happens when repeal of trade deals results in tariffs and quotas overseas--and US exports plummet?

What happens when shuttered production plants don't immediately fire back to life because it's still too expensive to manufacture stuff here?

What happens when coal mines don't reopen because it's still cheaper to fire power plants with natural gas?

What happens when Supreme Court nominees that everyone thought were going to "uphold the Constitution as it was written" instead become "creative in their interpretation of the document" (like Chief Justice John Roberts)?

What happens if the economy doesn't grow at 4% annually--like a certain Presidential candidate predicted it would?

And what happens when President Donald Trump takes to the TV airwaves in Oval Office speeches and press conferences to throw the Republicans in Congress under the bus because none of the above happened? 

Those who elected Donald Trump President didn't do it because they are "Republicans" or even care about the "GOP agenda".  Lack of support from Republicans actually helped his campaign.  So when the outrageous things that he promised them for the last year-and-a-half don't take place--they will be more than happy to blame the "Establishment that rigged the system against their President".

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell may have been handed the keys to the kingdom this week--but nlowthey have to share it with Godzilla.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Making an Ass Out of U and Me

There is an old adage that you should never assume--because it "makes an ass of u and me".  Donald Trump proves that the old adage is indeed correct.

As soon as he began his bombastic campaign for President, Conservatives assumed that all of the party insiders and big money donors would wield their influence to shove him to the back of an over-crowded field and allow actual Republicans to compete for the nomination.  And after the early loss in Iowa, they assumed that Trump would grow frustrated with the process and just quit on his own--being a guy who was accustomed to getting his way all the time.

And as the campaign dragged on, it was assumed that that the GOP would coalesce behind one of the other candidates to finally put away Trump in the spring and spare the party the embarrassment of having him as the nominee.  Then it was assumed that delegates and party faithful would revolt at the Cleveland Convention--demanding a roll call vote where somehow the nomination would be usurped from Trump.  And those party power players and leaders assumed that if they stayed away from Trump that he would suffer his blowout defeat and they could get to rebuilding the Republican party on November 9th.

Democrats assumed that Trump's general campaign would be full of mis-steps, amateurish decisions, media debacles and alienation of pretty much the entire voter base.  And the media assumed that their reports on Trump's language about women, his financial records, his ties to Russia and his comments about every minority group would destroy any credibility he may have with the American public.  The pundits and prognosticators assumed that social issues would outweigh economic and Constitutional concerns in the minds of voters.

And then Hillary Clinton assumed that the voting blocs that had fallen into line with her predecessor would do the same for her campaign.  She assumed the states that had voted Democrat for President since the end of the Reagan Era would continue to do so--even if she didn't spend a single second campaigning in them (like Wisconsin).  And Clinton assumed that when people get something for free--like health insurance--or are offered a bunch of free things--like college tuition--they value them as much as something they actually have to work and pay for.  And Mrs Clinton assumed that Americans really cared about "making history" with their votes, and were as easily offended as the Millenials that she also assumed were just going to flock behind her because she told them they had to.  And Hillary assumed that everyone thought like she did--that the rules and the laws don't really apply to her and her husband.

So here we sit, the day after the election we all assumed would be a blowout--and u and me look like a bunch of asses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

One Man To Blame

Politics has always been--and likely will always be--a down and dirty business.  If you think some of the name-calling and accusations thrown about by the candidates this year were outrageous--you need to read up on elections from the 1800's.  And that was just what they published in the newspapers.  But the incredibly divisive style of electioneering--and governing--that is now prevalent in America can be blamed on one man--Karl Rove.

Rove was the man who headed up George W Bush's Presidential campaign win in 2000--which ushered in the new style of politics.  Rove didn't try to run a "national campaign"--where a candidate sought to build a centrist platform and appeal to the broadest pool of voters across the country as a path to victory.  Instead, Rove (whom you could consider the first "Advance Analytics" guy in American politics) focused the Bush campaign on only getting to the magic number of 270 to win the Electoral College vote.  No more wasting time, effort (and most importantly) money in states where a candidate had no chance to win any electoral votes.  Campaign resources were to be used only in states where you either knew you were going to win--based on demographics--or in states with close divides in party affiliation--which will ultimately decide the victor.

And the Rove approach to winning those battleground states was to focus on getting near-total turnout from the dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, push those who "lean Republican" all the way to the right and to force the Democratic opponent to run as far left as possible so as to be seen as an "extremist".  That left so-called "independent voters" with no one in the middle ground--and the choice of "the lesser of two evils".

Rove was hailed as a "genius" after 2000 because not only did he get Bush elected with that strategy--he did so by actually losing the popular vote, but squeaking out enough votes in the Electoral College--where it really mattered.  Because politics is a copycat game, Rove's approach is now the standard for both parties.  And it has trickled down to all levels of government--"focus on your base" can be found all the way down to City Council and School Board races.  And unfortunately, until someone can come up with a different successful formula that everyone else will want to copy, Karl Rove's legacy will live on for decades to come.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Too Much Anger

The flashing red light on the phone greeted me as I came into the News Room to do our Saturday morning updates.  The message was from a older-sounding woman--and she was angry:


She went on to make some unflattering comments about a former employee as well--but I won't get into that right now.

On Friday, we did pre-empt the final hour of Rush Limbaugh to bring our listeners live coverage of the Lourdes Academy Girls Volleyball team as they played in the WIAA State Semi-Finals in Green Bay.  Making it that far and having a chance to capture a state title is something to be proud of that team--and you would think that everyone here in Oshkosh would want to support those girls in that effort.  It was also an opportunity for us to get girls sports on the air--which I admit is under-covered at all levels of the media.

But the woman that left the nasty message for me Friday afternoon can't celebrate that accomplishment.  She can't appreciate the value of exposure for female athletics.  She can't root for some hometown kids trying to do something very special that would be a positive for our community.  Instead, she is so wrapped up in the vitriol and anger that has dragged this (and several previous) election cycles into the gutter.  And she somehow believes that airing an hour and a half of high school sports on a Friday afternoon when not all of the fans were able to get to Green Bay to see the match in person is somehow "subverting her side's efforts to win the elections".

I'm guessing Mrs Angry Caller has made up her mind whom she is voting for tomorrow.  Did she need that much more affirmation on Friday?  Or did she think that some undecided voter was like "I just don't know who to vote for next week.  Maybe I'll listen to Rush Limbaugh for an hour and he'll tell me what to think"--but because girls volleyball was on, that voter will now support Hillary Clinton?

Yes, the candidates, their surrogates and every talking head is calling this "THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIMES!!"--but I'm pretty sure we can take an hour or two out of allowing our hate for the other side to fester and consider that there is more to life than just politics.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday Night Lights

It used to be very easy to follow Wisconsin Badgers Football when I was younger.  Most home games started at 1:00 Saturday afternoons at Camp Randall Stadium.  If they played one of the schools in the Eastern Time Zone that kickoff would usually be at noon.  And watching games on TV  meant waiting until 10:00 Saturday night to watch a replay on Wisconsin Public Television--because ABC wasn't going to show the 1-5 Badgers "battle" 2-4 Purdue to a national audience.

But then ESPN came along and offered the Big Ten extra money to be part of "tripleheader coverage" every Saturday.  This ushered in the 11:00 am kickoff for home games (which guaranteed a 1/3 full student section for most of the first half, because who get out of bed before 11 am on a Saturday?).  And then the Badgers got really good, so ABC wanted them for their 2:30 national games.

Then ESPN came back with more money and wanted the Big Ten to be part of their "prime time package" and suddenly there were 7:00 kickoffs--which also necessitated the installation of permanent lights at Camp Randall (previous games had used temporary lights on cranes rented for the night).  Then the Big Ten Network was created to rake in even more cash for the schools--I mean to "increase the visibility of the fine educational institutions".  Their "prime time" games would kick off at 6:00--so a new time slot was created for those contests.  And to make things more confusing for fans, most kickoff times aren't announced until two weeks before the game--so the networks can all decide which contests they want in what time slot--so you can't really plan your weekends that far in advance.

Now comes the announcement from the Big Ten that it will start playing one Friday night "prime time" game a week starting next season.  Again, the stated idea is to "increase the visibility of the fine educational institutions"--but we all know that some network is again offering piles of cash in exchange for what is usually sports programming with good ratings.

Initially, I was surprised that nearly all of the conference coaches took to social media this week to denounce the announcement (which makes me wonder if their Athletic Directors even consulted with them before voting to do this).  Many talked about the "sanctity" of Friday Night High School Football--and how that should be preserved.  But I think that because all coaches are control freaks, they just didn't want one less day to prepare and practice for a game.

But despite those protestations, the Big Ten will go forward with their own edition of Friday Night Lights.  And the rest of us will find ourselves every week asking "When is the Badgers game again?"

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Making Your Vote Count

A number of people sent me a link this week to the Action Two News story about how ballots with write-in candidates in the race for President "won't be counted".  It was usually followed with a "See, you are just wasting your vote!"--as most everyone knows that I voted for the person that I actually want to be President--Paul Ryan--and then Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse for Vice President.  The message senders are actually getting tripped up by the headline on the story.  My vote will be counted by the machine--the clerks just won't be going through the pile tallying the exact number of votes each write-in candidate gets.

One number I will be looking for on Election Night is the difference between the number of ballots cast--and the total number of votes for the listed Presidential candidates.  I expect that we will see the largest gap between those two totals than for any election in years--as plenty of people will decide to either write in actual viable candidates (whether they are declared or not)--or they just choose to leave that race blank and vote for everything else down ballot.

We have it brow-beaten into us that "It's a two party system. You have to vote for one of us" and that has completely changed the way we think about voting.  Fewer people say "I voted for him or her because he or she stands for everything that I stand for"--while more and more people justify their vote with "I just didn't want the other guy or gal to win".  That is what I consider to be "referendum voting"--where it may as well be a simple yes or no on the ballot--and you don't actually have to be "for" anything.

And that is what write-in voting or leaving the race blank on the ballot will show: that you actually support and believe in something--those beliefs and values just aren't on the ballot this time around.  So when the next President is mired in controversy for something stupid that was said--or for some law that was ignored--you don't have to make excuses for the oval you filled in next week because you thought there wasn't any other option.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

That Was Ugly

It's an image that could haunt University of Wisconsin Athletics for years.  At Saturday night's football game between the Badgers and Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium, a fan was spotted wearing a President Obama mask in a prison jumpsuit with a noose around his neck:

Nobody around the "fan" seemed particularly upset by the costume.  They did not call stadium security to have the man removed or at least made to take off the noose.  The costume didn't become an issue until someone along the sidelines took a picture of the man and posted it on social media.  Eventually, UW's twitter account manager became aware of the situation--got information on where the fan was seated--and alerted stadium security.

The fan was told to remove the noose--but was allowed to stay in the stadium and keep on the Obama mask.  An initial statement from the school released via social media that night apologized for the incident and claimed that the costume "met the standards" for what would be allowed into the stadium that night. 

The second statement from the school--released the next day--actually shocked me.  Chancellor Becky Blank actually cited the fan's right to "First Amendment right to free expression"--which today's easily-offended generation usually refuses to tolerate (Camp Randall Stadium apparently is NOT a "safe zone").  That got minority-student groups and faculty upset--because the first and second statements didn't "acknowledge the history of lynching and the effect on African-Americans"--forcing both Blank and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez to issue a third, joint statement on Tuesday mentioning lynching and promising to "review stadium policies".

I'd like to explain what the guy in the noose may have been thinking--but the rest of his get-up was really confusing.  He also had a giant Hillary Clinton cardboard face over his face and a sign listing her alleged illegal offenses and BERNIE 2016--but then he was being led around by a guy in a giant cardboard cutout face of Donald Trump saying "you're fired". 

So whatever his First Amendment protected expression was that night, we may never know.

Meanwhile, I'm sure the folks in the UW Athletic Department are in full crisis mode trying to reassure their African-American student-athletes that Madison is still a decent place to study and play.  Knowing the down-and-dirty tactics used on the recruiting trail, top-notch high school athletes will be seeing plenty of "Noose Guy" on their social media feeds.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Who Are These People?

Have you ever wondered who the "undecideds" are this close to an election day?  When polls show a race being 46-to-45% that leaves nine percent of the folks surveyed as not having made up their minds.  I will grant you that in a Presidential election like this, where the lesser of two evils appears to be the only option (other than writing in actual viable candidates) making up your mind before actually going to the polls may be a bit more difficult.

I imagine the "undecideds" don't go out to eat much.  You've had just two candidates to choose from for almost four months now--how could you possibly choose from dozens of options on a menu in the three minutes between the time the hostess seats you and when the waitress comes to take your order?  They are probably stuck in an old car too--because by the time they make up their mind on the new model, color and options they would like, the dealerships are bringing in the next year models--and the whole process has to start over again.

Some "undecideds" like to say "I'm carefully considering all of the options".  I would buy that--except there are anything but subtle differences between political candidates anymore.  "Boy, I just can't decide if I want totally open borders or if I want to waste money on building a wall that won't change things one bit".  And don't tell me you are on the internet "researching" the candidate's positions--because you are jumping into a sea of misinformation that will drown you in two minutes.

On November 9th, the election results will be compared to the poll numbers going into the election and experts will say "It looks like the "undecideds" broke toward so-and-so in the voting booth".  When in all likelihood, it was the much larger numbers of "fully-decideds" that had the winner chosen months ago.