Thursday, December 29, 2016

Two States of Idiocy

Imagine if today President Obama announced that because the 2016 election had created such a political and societal divide in the United States, he was going to push for the small "blue" pockets on the map to become their own country--within the borders of the United States.  We'll call that new country "The Hillaryland".  And "The Hillaryland" will have full autonomy over its territory.  It will have its own military.  It will be allowed to establish its own laws.  It may print its own currency.  It will even be allowed to use Washington, DC as its capital.  And of course, the United Nations will be more than happy to recognize its existence.

In setting up "The Hillaryland", all non-Democrats who moved into those districts in the last 40-years will be made to move out.  All development of "The Hillaryland" for non-Democrats would also be banned.  Non-Hillaryland residents looking to travel through "The Hillaryland" will have to use secured roadways that won't actually allow you to get off until you are out of "The Hillaryland".  Some parts of "The Hillaryland" will be surrounded by walls and barbed wire fences to keep the two "nations" apart.

Of course, this won't make things perfect for those inside "The Hillaryland".  Even after achieving nation status, it will still need to be provided with almost all of its natural resources, food, water and electricity from the United States.  Those who consider themselves "blues"--but who don't support the leader of that party (we'll call them "Sandernistas")--will refuse to recognize the leader of the new country and will do all they can to undermine the success of the new nation.

Add to that, the fact that many people living in "The Hillaryland" hate the United States, want to kill people living in the United States, and want to wipe the United States off the map--so that all of it can become "The Hillaryland".  And the leaders of "The Hillaryland" will turn a blind eye to those efforts--which will be backed by terrorists states around the world.

If your thinking "That would be incredibly stupid--why would anyone support such a thing?", then you understand why the Obama Administration's last-minute push to force Israel to accept a "Two State Solution" with Palestinians is so ill-advised.  Yet, that is exactly the situation that the President, John Kerry and anti-Semites in the United Nations are trying to foist upon Israel as a way to "secure peace in the Middle East".

There is a reason that the "Two State Solution" has failed to gain approval in the 40-years of negotiations toward that end.  It is untenable.  It is unworkable.  And if it isn't good enough for the country you live in--then it shouldn't be good enough for our democratic allies in Israel either.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Play For the Tie!

It's a dream scenario for the NFL, Sunday night's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will be a "win or go home" clash--with the NFC North Division title on the line.  Imagine two teams battling for their playoff lives--all in prime time on NBC.  Except it doesn't have to be a winner-take-all game.  You see, if the two teams tie--they will both make the playoffs anyway--and if I was both coaches, that is exactly what I would do.

A tie would give the Packers the division title--which is what Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team was going to Detroit to win.  A tie also saves Jim Caldwell from the embarrassment of a total collapse that the Lions have been heading for the second half of the season.  And to accomplish that tie, both teams should do nothing but kneel down on the ball 75-times each.

That strategy also serves both teams well.  No need to worry about Aaron Rodgers aggravating one of his leg injuries the week before the playoffs start.  Clay Matthews gets a week to let his shoulder heal more.  Matthew Stafford doesn't have to worry about banging the broken finger on his throwing hand on a helmet and making it impossible to throw.  And since the game would only take about an hour and a half to play, you can be back home sooner and getting ready for that playoff opener.

Would a double-kneel-down game make the NFL look bad?  Sure.  But what are they going to do about it?  You think Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to suspend two head coaches for playoff games?  At worst, he might arbitrarily take away draft picks next year--but as the legendary George Allen used to say, a draft pick next year isn't getting you in the playoffs this year.

NBC might be angry that their prime time game is turned into a sham-mockery.  But millions of Americans will still tune in just to see if both teams do actually make no effort to run plays for an entire game--that is until they tire of Chris Collinsworth repeatedly saying "This is unbelievable.  This is unbelievable."  Maybe Al Michaels could kill time telling great stories about the 1980 Olympic Hockey Miracle on Ice team to keep us all entertained.  The TV execs should also keep in mind that a tie still delivers them another ratings bonanza: a playoff game Saturday night at Lambeau Field--where a foot of snow or -20 degree temperatures are always a possibility.

The fans at the game itself might feel like they got ripped off--since they didn't pay big bucks to watch backup QB's kneel on the ball all night.  But your team is making the playoffs--so what are you really complaining about?  Plus, if both teams actually tried, the Packers would  kill the Lions, so Detroit fans should be happy they don't have to witness that.  Besides, you can always say that you were at the "Kneel Down Game"--which will someday grow in stature to match the Ice Bowl (which was miraculously attended by 4.5-MILLION Packers Fans).

Now before you tell me "no professional athletes would ever just play for a tie" allow me to direct your attention to international soccer--where many a nil-nil draw with no real effort to attack either goal have been played when both teams knew that ties would advance them out of pool play and into the knockout round. 

So what do you say, Coach McCarthy and Coach Caldwell--how about a little "gentlemen's agreement" that no one will try to win--and both punch your tickets to the post-season?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Roundabout Way to Go

Errands on Monday took me up and down the frontage roads here in Oshkosh several times--and that meant an afternoon of dealing with roundabouts.  From my observations, I can tell you that 100% of pedestrians are NOT using the new orange flags put out by the city to improve their safety.  Walkers at Koeller and 9th and Witzel and Washburn eschewed waving the flags maniacally to get traffic to yield the right of way to them.  So what ever amount the city spent on that "safety improvement" is proving to be a waste.

Now, on to the main topic for today.  Of all the poorly-designed and misplaced roundabouts in Oshkosh, the worst is at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Koeller Street.  Despite it being a two lane roundabout, the engineers that designed it decided they would not allow traffic heading north in the left lane of Koeller to continue "straight through" the roundabout.  Instead, all of those vehicles have to merge to the right and use the "outside lane" of the roundabout to go straight--while the "inside lane" is reserved only for left-hand turns.  That design leads to back ups nearly all day in the right-hand lane or northbound Koeller--and lots of hard breaking as people round the big curve past Pizza Hut and find a line of stopped vehicles suddenly in front of them.  Add to that the awkward driveway to Walgreen's on the next curve and you have a mess created solely by the roundabout and traffic engineers who think they know better.

But I'm going to let you in on a little secret that I have used since that roundabout opened to "skip the line" and still go straight on Koeller: You don't actually have to get into the right lane there.  All you have to do is use the roundabout the way it is designed to continue moving.  Stay in the left-hand lane--where there are usually far fewer cars waiting--and enter the roundabout.  As you follow that inside lane, you will notice that the roundabout has been designed like a corkscrew so that if you go a complete 360-degrees the "inside lane" becomes the "outside lane" and you can continue heading north on Koeller from that lane.  Heck, you can even make what would be a "right hand turn" from the "left hand lane" and never put anyone in harm's way.  Because you are staying in a lane--not needing to ever change lanes inside the roundabout--this movement is completely legal.  In fact, it is the way that European drivers navigate the outrageous traffic circles they have to deal with (see the "Look, Kids, Big Ben, Parliament scene from European Vacation" for some perspective).

Others may have been using this same technique to "skip the line" and might wonder why I would ruin our "shortcut" by telling a vast radio audience.  But wouldn't you like to get rid of the other scourges of that intersection: people two car-lengths away from the roundabout with their right turn signal on trying to get into the right lane to go straight and the people who completely ignore the signage and drive straight through from the left lane and nearly sideswipe those in the outside lane?  Consider my advice to be "looking out for one another".

Does it make sense to drive in a complete circle to go straight on a street?  Obviously not.  But I guess it's the best we can do in the name of "improving safety".

Monday, December 26, 2016

Our New Holiday Tradition

Americans apparently have a new holiday tradition: Arguing whether Mary and Joseph were refugees.  My social media timelines were filled this weekend with posts and counter-posts arguing the "immigration status" of Biblical characters.

It started every time with someone on the Left tweeting or Facebook posting that they find it interesting that Christians are celebrating a family that were refugees that were given nowhere to live--even though Mary was pregnant.  The insinuation was that if you don't believe in unfettered immigration to the United States, you are not a "real Christian".

Those posts were then answered by "amateur biblical scholars" more than willing to cite passage and verse that Mary and Joseph were not forced from their homes to seek asylum in another country--but rather came to Bethlehem to register for the Roman Census and to pay their taxes.  So they had every intention of going back to Nazareth.  And as for having no place to stay, you have to consider that there wasn't a hotel at every off-ramp on the footpaths between towns in the days of antiquity.  Plus, the Greeks used similar words for "stable" "cave" and "guestroom"--so early translators could have easily misinterpreted the initial gospel texts.

"But what about them having to flee into Egypt to escape King Herod's wrath?" would be the next post--which led to arguments about whether they just "took a detour on the way home"--or if the family had to actually live in a foreign land until Herod died.  And let's just say the conversation usually took on a not so "merry and bright" tone.

The problem with this argument is that the source material upon which both sides make their claims is seriously flawed.  Of the four gospels, only two--Matthew and Luke--address the birth of Jesus, and their stories differ.  Matthew--who was proselytizing to a mainly Jewish audience never mentions Mary and Joseph having to travel to Bethlehem--and makes no mention of stables and mangers. It also is from that account that you get the story of the family fleeing to Egypt.

 Luke's account--which was intended for the greater Roman Empire at the time--is where we get the "modern" version of the nativity--with trip from Nazareth, the no room at the inn and angels making announcements to shepherds (whom Jews considered dirty, lowly folk--but Romans considered important parts of society).  Luke makes no mention of fleeing to Egypt. instead stating that the family went to Jerusalem and then back to Nazareth. 

So when it comes to shaming those who want the immigration laws we currently have on the books you may want to use source material that is a bit more clear--and that actually happened.  Maybe next Christmas we can all argue about the proper way to crack an egg--courtesy of the Liliputians and Blefuscudians in Gullivers Travels.

Friday, December 23, 2016


Happy Festivus!!  Welcome, newcomers.  The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances--where I list all the ways that you have disappointed me this year.  I'VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!!

DANGEROUS ROUNDABOUTS!!  The City of Oshkosh has realized that drivers are just too dumb to understand the rules of roundabouts, so now pedestrians and bikers must wave orange flags while they cross--which will deter absolutely no one from gunning it to beat the driver that actually has the right of way.

SEGREGATED PARKING!!!  I had to run in the store for one item recently, but had to park a quarter mile away because the first ten spots in every row are "reserved" for the handicapped, expectant mothers, mothers with babies, senior citizens, veterans and the "Associate of the Month".  Where is the reserved spot for "Guy who is running in to get one item and will literally be here for two minutes"????  I'm going to start making that spot in the crosswalk directly in front of the door from now on.

ANTI-TRUMP CELEBRITIES!!  Amy Schumer, Barbra Streisand, Bryan Cranston, Miley Cyrus, Cher and Chelsea Handler are among the dozens of famous people who claimed they would leave the US if Donald Trump won the election.  Well, what are you still doing here?  Are you waiting for Inauguration Day to finally make good on your promise?  And why do these celebs always say they're moving to Canada?  Why not go to your "socialist paradises" like Sweden or Denmark?  Could it be that you don't actually want to give up 90% of your income to pay for all of those social programs?

NFL SCHEDULERS!!!  Is it really that complicated to give the teams playing on Thursday night a bye the week before so the players aren't competing on short rest?  Maybe some folks at the league office should be subjected to the beating players absorb in a game and then come back four days later to make out the schedule.  We might see more common sense applied after that.

CUBS FANS!!!  Let's not forget that your club is still has one title in the past 108 years.  The super-volcano under Yellowstone Park is due for a cataclysmic eruption as well and nobody is rooting for that either.

JILL STEIN!!!  Please do not ever run for President--or even school board--again.  Citizens have already suffered enough of your attention-grabbing efforts to undermine the integrity of the election process and your hair-brained, mis-informed statements to the press.

TEAM USA HOCKEY COACH JOHN TORTORELLA!!! Thanks to your incompetence, what should have been the best sporting event of the year was ruined by a terrible US performance and having to watch crybaby Sidney Crosby hoist the World Cup of Hockey trophy after beating a bunch of no-name Europeans in the finals.

And now we move to the Feats of Strength!  Festivus is not over until you pin me!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Going Rogue

Allow me to be a Star Wars geek today....

Last weekend I went to see the new Star Wars movie Rogue One.  I'm not going to give you a full review or give out any spoilers here--but I will tell you it's a great addition to the franchise and features a darker tone that was certainly welcomed by many hardcore fans.  But the movie also proves what a waste the "Prequel Trilogy" written and directed by Star Wars Creator George Lucas really was.

The highlights for many of us in Rogue One are the brief appearances by Darth Vader.  Those got me to thinking that Lucas could have used the three prequels to not just tell us how Anakin Skywalker became Vader (which really hamstrung him on plot lines)--but also how Vader came to impose the will of the Empire upon the rest of the galaxy.  George could have employed the technique that Francis Ford Coppola used in The Godfather II--weaving a new storyline with flashbacks to tell a back story at the same time.  Instead of the juxtaposition of Michael Corleone moving the family business to Las Vegas and Vito Corleone establishing the "family" in New York City, the Star Wars prequels could have featured vengeful Sith Lord Vader destroying his remaining enemies while reflecting back on how he came to epitomize the Dark Side of the Force.

Those scripts would have fixed the often-times glacial pace of action in the prequels.  Scenes of Vader slaughtering opposition families could have been followed by Qui Gon and Obi Wan finding him on Tattoine, winning his freedom from slavery and attacks from Darth Maul--without a lot of the boring conversations and the overly-extended pod racing scene.  Think of how powerful a scene would be where Vader is immersed in his life-sustaining Bacta tank and his mind flashes back to his times with Padme--or battles with Rebellion forces are intermixed with those from the Clone Wars.  And how awesome would it have been to experience Darth's inner struggles with the evil being he had become and the way he was lied to by the Emperor/Chancellor Palpatine that established his destiny?

With Disney's goal of having a Star Wars franchise movie released every year as long as people are willing to shell out money to see them, perhaps a screenwriter and a director 20-years from now will "re-imagine" the Prequel Trilogy--and make them what they should have been.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bowl Blowout

I always throught the collapse of the ludicrous college bowl structure would come from ESPN no longer being able to find gullible corporations to sponsor the myriad of meaningless games that exist strictly to give them live content at this time of year.  The two bowl games played this week were sponsored solely by the Chambers of Commerce for Miami Beach and Boca Raton (which disappointingly was not played at Del Boca Vista in the middle of the afternoon so that attendees could still make it to the eat at the Early Bird Specials).  There are four bowls this year with no title sponsor--meaning ESPN is likely taking a bath on the costs of putting on the games.

But a new trend developing this year is serving as an even greater threat to the meaningless bowls--players refusing to play.  LSU's Leonard Fournette and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey have both announced they are going to sit out their team's bowl games--so they don't risk injury before the NFL draft.  Both are considered to be potential first round draft picks--so some big bucks are on the line.  That has to give many other top pro prospects cause to consider whether they should play an extra game (or if they are in the College Football Playoff--two more games) for no financial benefit.

Imagine you are LSU's interim coach (they fired Les Miles mid-season) and Stanford's head coach and the guys that you have built your offenses around are voluntarily walking away from giving you a chance to win.  You probably still want to play the game--but your level of focus and excitement probably went down a few notches after their announcements.  And if you are one of the other kids who will still take the field for the bowls you have to wonder in the back of your mind if it's really worth it for you to still play.

We even had an entire team threaten to boycott their bowl game.  Every member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers threatened to boycott all football activities through the end of the season as a protest for the suspension of ten teammates for allegations of sexual assault of another student.  None of the players were criminally charged--but burden of proof and probable cause no longer exist on campuses dealing with the "threat of rape culture" don't care about that.  Over the weekend, the players capitulated and returned to prepare for their butt whipping in the Holiday Bowl.

But it can't be too long before an entire team--whether it be loaded with future pros or aggrieved victims of the war on "toxic masculinity"--decides it has no interest in a couple more weeks of practice and a trip to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl--when they could be home with their families for the holidays--or not taking more blows to the head to increase their odds of developing CTE in middle age.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How Hillary Actually Lost

Now that the Electoral College has done its job without changing their votes last minute and flipping the election, we can take a serious look at how Hillary Clinton managed to blow one of the easiest layups in political history. examined one battleground state--Michigan, which had been one of the bluest of the blue states for over twenty years, and yet went for Donald Trump last month--to see exactly how that happened.  Their reporters didn't find much in the way of Russian influence--but they did find that Clinton's campaign acted with sheer arrogance and ignorance in the face of concerns raised by local Democratic party members who could see that things were not going well.

Having been involved in a campaign of my own once--albeit on a much smaller scale--I was shocked to see how little effort the Clinton machine put into trying to win the race.  In Michigan, no flyers were printed up for people to take door to door in neighborhoods months before election day.  People who wanted to show their support for Clinton were told they could not have yard signs.  Clinton herself, Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine and the multitude of surrogates willing to campaign on her behalf--including President Obama--were never sent to Michigan--even when they were specifically requested by local party leaders concerned about bleeding support--until the very last days of the campaign, when many voters had already made up their minds.

The Clinton camp also relied very heavily on polling data that had already proven itself to be wrong.  In the primary, Clinton had a lead over Bernie Sanders in the Michigan polls--but ended up losing the state.  Yet when those same metrics repeated themselves in Michigan before the general election, the same amount of trust was put into them--with the same losing result.

And speaking of Bernie Sanders, his supporters in Michigan say there was absolutely no effort from the Clinton campaign to reach out to them after the primary was decided.  That is the same sentiment shared by Sanders backers here in Wisconsin--where he also won the primary.  They were never given reasons to back Clinton in November--and were never asked to join in the campaign in meaningful ways.

The irony in the closed-minded, do it my way or no way attitude of the Clinton campaign is that so much was made of how "good a listener" Hillary is--that she "makes you feel like she really understands your problem and wants to help you".  Apparently that didn't apply to those who wanted to get her elected President--twice.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Don't Take Away My Public Adulation!!

UW Oshkosh officials are about to feel the wrath of the Participation Trophy Generation.  The decision to cancel Mid-Year Commencement due to a snowstorm has already led to a petition demanding a rescheduled ceremony with full pomp and circumstance--and not just "recognition events" scheduled for late January.

The decision to cancel the show Friday night has much to do with the fact that UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt is a Southerner.  Leavitt came to Oshkosh from Georgia--where the threat of one inch of snow is enough to cancel all events for a week.  And while he may have received his PhD from the University of Utah, he may not be familiar with the Midwest attitude toward a foot of snow being nothing more than a mere inconvenience on our way to Friday Fish Fry or the Fox River Mall (which by all accounts was packed on Saturday--despite the storm).

But what Leavitt and other administrators should have anticipated is the foot-stomping and fit-throwing from the students affected by the decision to cancel.  These are young adults who have had every minor accomplishment in their lives celebrated with over-the-top adulation.  They had "graduation ceremonies" for Four-Year Old Kindergarten, "regular" Kindergarten, moving from Elementary School to Middle School, moving from Middle School to High School, and finishing High School.  You'd better believe that they think they "deserve" to wear that cap and gown for completing their degree work.

And let's not forget that there were going to be "check ins" on Facebook, live streaming of their walk across the stage on Periscope, live tweeting of how (hashtag)bored they are by the ceremony and hundreds of photos to be liked on Instagram.  Their moment of internet glory has been taken from them and they want it back.

What these celebration-less grads need to keep in mind is that the real accomplishment still lies ahead: getting a job with that degree and earning a living.  No employer will ever ask you "I see you have a bachelors in accounting--but did the chancellor actually hand you that diploma?"  Do you know where I was for my college graduation?  At work--because that is why you get the degree--not to wear a cap and gown and to have your picture taken a thousand times.

So if you are among the 11-hundred or so "denied recognition of your accomplishment", take the cap and gown back for the refund that is being offered and use the cash to open a Roth IRA.  At least those few bucks will provide you with some real benefit later in life.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Very Bad Math

Among the many accomplishments former Wisconsin Badgers Heisman Trophy winning running back Ron Dayne achieved in his four years in Madison was setting the all-time NCAA rushing record.  Dayne racked up 6,397 yards--a record that has stood for 16-years.  However, that mark could be broken this weekend, as San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is just 107-yards to reach that same record.  Pumphrey takes on Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday night.

It is interesting that Pumphrey would break Dayne's record in a bowl game because that will expose an egregious flaw in the way the NCAA now computes its yardage records.  You see, Dayne's career rushing total does not include any of the four bowl games he played in as a Badger--while Pumphrey's mark will include the three bowls in which he has already competed--plus Saturday's game.

Until 2001 (the year after Dayne graduated), the NCAA treated bowl games as "exhibitions" that did not count toward team's records or player stats.  But then in 2002, the Association decided that it would count bowl games for those records and stats--but only from that date going forward.  Career numbers were not retro-actively amended--even though bowl game statistics are readily available.

If you are to include Dayne's bowl game rushing total of 728 YARDS (including an amazing 246 yards on 30 carries as a freshman in Wisconsin's win over Utah in the 1996 Copper Bowl) his NCAA rushing record would be 7,125 yards.  That would leave Donnell Pumphrey 835 yards behind Dayne--if you compare apples to apples.

Given how humble he his about what he has accomplished, I don't expect Ron Dayne to upset that his record may be broken on Saturday night--even if it actually isn't being broken.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Classic Overstatement

You know what word of which I apparently no longer know the meaning? "Classic".  I came to realize that this week when reading obituaries and stories about the death of actor Alan Thicke.  "Star of the 'classic' '80's TV sitcom Growing Pains" they all said.  I recall watching Growing Pains as a kid--but I had to refer to the internet to remember what the premise was--as nothing about the series stuck out in my mind.  Now I remember that it was the "break-out" vehicle for teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron (who has since been ostracized from Hollywood for his devout Christian faith) and to a lesser extent for Tracey Gold--who seems to be in several of the Hallmark Movie Channel Christmas films that my wife watches continuously at this time of year.

Anyways, "classic" is in no way the term I would use for Growing Pains.  If anything, I would describe the show as "formulaic".  There was hardly anything unique about the middle class white family with three kids all of whom had widely divergent personalities "learning to live with one another" under the guidance of Wise Old Dad and Loving Mom.  That was half the shows on TV in the 1980's.  As I recall there was the required "one teen experiments with drugs or alcohol episode" that "scared everyone straight".  There was the "Mom has a surprise baby midway through the series" plot twist.  And they even went down the path of "Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch" by bringing a homeless teenager into the house (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in the final season as a last ditch effort to boost ratings.

If you want to talk about a "classic" family comedy that ran at the very same time--you might want to check out Married With Children--which was actually cutting-edge with its portrayal of family dysfunction and disillusionment with middle class life.  Or The Simpsons--which has lasted three times as long as Growing Pains. 

Like grade inflation on college campuses, our subjective ratings for pedestrian things from the past seem to be creeping up.  I'm writing this on a computer that sits below a "Classic Car Calendar" from our sister station that includes a Gremlin and a Mustang II in it.  Yes, they are old vehicles that someone has kept or restored to very nice condition--but they are in no way, shape or form "classic".  Unless you are using the term in the phrase a "classic example of a piece of junk".

Plus, it leaves us with no adjectives to use when someone like Mary Tyler Moore, Jerry Seinfeld or Matt Stone dies.  I dislike "legendary"--as that should really apply to Paul Bunyan or Tarzan--you know, actual "legends". 

Enough of my complaining.  I'll let you get back to another "classic" episode of The Love Boat, starring the "legendary" Fred Grandy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Fake Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

Now that we have dispelled the notion that hacking of voting machines decided the Presidential election, let's move on to the next source of blame--Fake News.  President Obama, Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats are claiming that Americans were duped by non-mainstream media sites into voting a certain way in the election--and that steps should be taken to ban Fake News.

It should be noted that Fake News dates back to the founding of this country.  Benjamin Franklin published salacious stories and rumors about his political and business rivals in several publications he owned--including Poor Richards Almanac.  Why do you think strong protections for freedom of the press and expression are included in the very first amendment to the Constitution?

Modern Fake News can trace its roots to Madison, Wisconsin.  In 1988, The Onion launched there.  While going to school at UW-Madison, I remember The Onion was put out on racks right next to The Daily Cardinal, The Badger Herald and The Isthmus to be picked up for free.  Eventually, the paper went national--and every year or so we would all laugh as some Chinese or North Korean news agency would run an Onion story like it was an actual news item.

There was an effort to bring that format to television with the failed Onion TV show.  But Comedy Central repackaged it as a new Fake News show: The Daily Show.  The initial host--and funniest of all of them so far--was Craig Kilborn--who until that point was best known as a ESPN SportsCenter anchor.  Kilborn was replaced by comedian Jon Stewart--and that is when the show really took off.  In fact, it was so popular that it spawned several more Fake News shows like the Colbert Report--where former Daily Show "correspondent" Stephen Colbert moved into the genre of Fake News Talk Show--with equal ratings success.  Now you have Fake News shows for John Oliver--Last Week Tonight (which is by far the most hilarious of the Fake News shows)--and Full Frontal, starring Samantha Bee--another Daily Show alum.

And let's not forget the Pew Research study that found a stunning 12% of Americans said The Daily Show was their MAIN SOURCE OF NEWS!!!  And that 46% of those who described themselves as "liberal" trusted everything they saw on The Daily Show.  Did the folks at Comedy Central tell people at that point "Whoa, this is a comedy show, folks.  We don't employ any reporters or fact checkers here.  Please get your news from reputable sources"?  Nope.  In fact, they started running promos for the show calling Stewart "America's Most Trusted Newsman".  There was even a time when serious people were seriously suggesting that NBC News hire Stewart to replace Brian Williams after the latter was caught putting Fake News into the NBC Nightly News.  And when Stewart stepped down, he was replaced by another comedian--Noah Trevor.

The President even addressed the topic of Fake News in the days leading up to the election--but he only told people not to get their news from Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh.  Why no mention of The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight?  Then this week, the President took part in a lengthy sit-down interview with Noah Trevor to discuss "serious topics"--giving further credibility to the Fake News industry.  So why the "shock and awe" that people were swayed by Fake News on the internet in the days before the election?  Especially when you can still go to the New York Times app and find those Fake News stories embedded in with the "real news of the day".

I have to go now.  I just got an alert that an "Area Man Is Giving Up the Search For a Missing Sock in the Laundry"!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

After Further Review....

Wisconsin's Presidential recount is done and as everyone but Green Party candidate Jill Stein expected, there was virtually no change to the results first reported by county clerks around the state on election night and certified by Boards of Canvass a week later.  With the $3.5 MILLION that Stein's contributors wasted on this exercise they probably could have paid for electric car charging stations across Wisconsin and had a few bucks left over to give to the City of Milwaukee for a lead pipe replacement program.  You know, the types of things that Greens and Liberals claim to support--but don't seem willing to put up their own money to do.  Easier to tax others to pay for their pet projects.

Regardless of the outcome, this was still "Mission Accomplished" for Stein.  Here we are more than a month past the election and we are still mentioning her name--which is one month more than any Green Party candidate deserves to be mentioned.  And she has a long list of donor email addresses that the party itself can use to pad its own coffers--or it can sell to other like-minded organizations to pay for their consultants and lobbyists.  The "green" in the Green Party is about to represent "Cash" from now on.

This will be spun as "an exercise that restored America's faith in its election process".  But who was really calling into question the legitimacy of the process?  It certainly wasn't Wisconsin voters themselves.  Donald Trump started this whole thing with the "system is rigged if I lose" nonsense on the campaign trail.  But he never once said that voting machines were "hacked" or that "ballots were intentionally left uncounted".  That garbage was spewed by Stein herself after the election was done in countless TV interviews claiming that the voting machines in Wisconsin were "highly susceptible" to hacking--even though none of them are ever hooked up to the internet.  And yet, the New York and Washington-based reporters and TV hosts that have never been to Wisconsin to witness an election went right along with those claims and never "fact-checked" the process we actually use out here.

One thing that we should take from the recount--and this has been true since the very first election--is that the US and each individual state is not well equipped to handle a very, very close race.  Wisconsin 2016 didn't turn into Florida 2000--but that is mainly because the two major political parties both knew the result was not going to be changed in this recount (nor would it flip the Electoral College) so challenges to individual ballots were few and far between.  But if the difference between Trump and Clinton had been 230--rather than 23,000--our newscasts would have been filled everyday with updates on the myriad of lawsuits, counter-suits and appeals that would have been taking place all across Wisconsin and the Federal Court system.

So enjoy "having your faith restored" in our election process here in Wisconsin--even if you never actually doubted it before.

Monday, December 12, 2016

When the Solution is the Problem

A couple of weeks ago, The Economist Magazine posted a thought-provoking question on Twitter: If the Earth was dealing with global cooling--instead of global warming--would a strong global plan already be in place to deal with the issue?  The logic being that because man evolved in a tropical climate--and not one where our early ancestors had to deal with brutal winters--we as a species prefer it warmer than colder, therefore seeing the possibility of another ice age as a greater threat than it being a few tenths of a degree warmer every year.

From a strictly social aspect, that argument makes sense.  Colder weather longer means shorter growing seasons in our most fertile regions--which means less food--which means fewer people can survive on the planet.  Plus, colder temperatures are more expensive to deal with.  We need to spend more to heat and light our homes.  Our vehicles run less-efficiently and any work done outdoors usually takes longer.  A warmer climate means longer growing seasons on the Great Plains and more food.  Heating bills are lower.  We are more inclined to walk or bike somewhere rather than take our cars and warmer days allow us to get more done outside faster.

But the "we would have already addressed global cooling" argument falls apart when you apply the political aspect to the issue.  Do you really think that scientists and world leaders would back a plan to combat global cooling that would implement the causes of global warming that they now condemn?  Would the United Nations encourage US and Chinese utilities to build more coal-burning power plants to produce lower-cost electricity?  Would we be encouraged to use incandescent light bulbs and keep our furnaces turned up to 72-degrees?  Would oil drilling be encouraged around the globe--with efforts made to keep gas prices as cheap as possible?  Would Al Gore and President Obama praise General Motors for producing gas-guzzling, oversized SUV's and pickup trucks sold without catalytic converters?  Would there be "single passenger vehicle only" lanes on urban interstates? 

Of course, those measures would NOT be supported to "prevent the planet from freezing over", because they would benefit private sector corporations and the US economy.  Americans wouldn't have to "sacrifice to save Earth".  In fact, we would probably enjoy it.  Instead, the "solution to global cooling" would involve the same economically-punitive measures that "reducing our carbon footprint" entails.  There would be large, bureaucratic agencies created to "fix the problem"--funded, of course, with new taxes, surcharges and fees.

I look forward to the next Economist tweets that ask if the dinosaurs should have spent more time working on anti-asteroid detection systems or what wooly mammoths should have done to extend the last Ice Age.

Friday, December 9, 2016


If future linguists need an example to put in their on-line dictionaries for the phrase "a life well lived" they may want use John Glenn.  The last of the Mercury 7 astronauts died on Thursday at the age of 95--and it would be hard to find someone who may have accomplished more in that time.

Glenn dropped out of college to join the Marines during World War II.  He served as a combat pilot--flying 122 combat missions during that war and during the Korean War--earning 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses.  After that he did flight tests for high-altitude military aircraft before being tabbed for the Mercury program.

Glenn was the oldest of the original astronauts--barely making the age cut off of 40.  He helped to design the cockpit for the original capsules and for the Apollo capsules as well.  On his first orbital flight there was a concern that his heat shield had come loose--meaning it could have come off during re-entry and caused the spacecraft to burn up in the atmosphere.  Think about that stress the next time you worry about not meeting a deadline at your job.

After surviving his trip to space, Glenn left NASA to seek a career in politics.  He campaigned on behalf of Robert Kennedy and his ill-fated Presidential campaign in 1968.  Glenn was in the hotel the night Kennedy was shot and killed--and served as a pallbearer at his funeral.  He was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1974 and served for 25-years.  Today, he probably wouldn't be considered a Democrat--as he sided with Ronald Reagan on a number of issues and likely wouldn't see all people as helpless creatures that require Government assistance and protection at all times.

In what some considered to be a self-serving move, Glenn flew on the Space Shuttle at the age of 77--passing all of the same physical training required of astronauts half his age.  If NASA actually learned anything about "geriatric studies" from that flight is questionable.  But going into space at that age is still one heck of an accomplishment.

But what John Glenn would likely have been most proud of in his life is that he was married to his wife Anna for 73-years--raising two kids and two grand-children.  In a fitting tribute, he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary--in the pantheon of other American heroes.

Despite all of these accomplishments in life, the mention of John Glenn's name at a Donald Trump "thank you tour" stop in Iowa drew boos from the crowd yesterday--showing just how far into the dark hole of partisanship we have gone in this country.  However, the rest of us who have a clue, wish John Glenn godspeed and thank him for one of the greatest American lives ever lived.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Street Sense

The belief that Republicans in the State Legislature can "railroad through" anything they want may be challenged next year.  There is deep intra-party division developing over how to address the looming shortfall in transportation funding in the next two-year budget.  On one side you have Governor Scott Walker, who is placing a premium on campaign promises he made not to raise gas taxes and registration fees without equal tax reductions elsewhere in the budget--and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and some of his caucus members who believe such additional revenues need to be on the table.

There are two seeds that were planted years ago that have us where we are now.  The first was sown by Governor Jim Doyle who took money from the transportation fund to pay for schools in the early 2000's.  That set us on the course of needing to borrow more and more to complete major highway projects and to pay for local maintenance.  That won't happen again because the Legislature passed a law banning raids on the transportation fund.

The second root cause of our predicament was a repeal of the an indexed gas tax.  Until the start of Governor Walker's term, the gas tax automatically went up each year by the rate of inflation.  While we would all agree that tax increases should not be automatic--and that lawmakers should be held accountable by having to vote on those annual increases--it is still beholden upon those lawmakers to actually vote on raising the tax.

And so now here we sit between two dogmatic forces--both of whom refuse to give.  Personally, I would have no problem with an increase in the gas tax in the next budget.  When indexing was eliminated, we were paying over three dollars a gallon.  Now we are down to two-bucks and the "pain at the pump" wouldn't be so great.  The argument you hear against that logic is that "prices could always jump again!"--but given long-range economic predictions for Europe and Asia--along with the installation of a much more energy-friendly administration in Washington, a doubling of gas prices doesn't appear to be on the horizon.  Of course, this should be coupled with registration surcharges on electric and hybrid vehicles--since their use of roads aren't currently reimbursed with as much in gas taxes--and increases in public transit fares so that all road users are picking up the extra costs associated with maintenance and repair.

A simple bit of give and take in Madison should ensure a smooth road ahead for the State.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

In some ways, it's hard to believe that it has been 75-years since the attack on Pearl Harbor.  When I was a kid, that was just part of the "modern history" that we covered in about two days at the end of the of the school year because we had spent entire weeks covering the "XYZ Affair" and the "Tea Pot Dome Scandal" during the fall and the winter.  There were so many people still around that remembered where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about it.  Now there are just a handful of people who were actually there during the attack--and for most of us, it's just black and white film or poorly-made Hollywood blockbusters.

I asked a couple of folks that work with veterans groups yesterday if they fear that future generations will "forget" about Pearl Harbor--and that December 7th will go from a "date which will live in infamy" to just another day on the calendar.  They hoped that ensuing generations would continue to hold memorial services and learn in school what happened and why--even after the last person who may have been alive at the time passes away.

My greatest concern is that the historical context of Pearl Harbor will be re-written as time passes--and social mores change.  Already, "truthism" is sneaking into our conversations about the attack.  Entire books have been written claiming to "prove" that President Franklin Roosevelt and Navy commanders knew that the Japanese were going to attack--and did nothing to stop it--just so Americans would back entering the war and that the "military industrial complex" could profit from it.

And the Japanese will be painted in a more "forgiving and understanding" light.  The Empire had a list of "excuses" for engaging in a sneak attack--including US intervention in the Japanese quest to conquer China and Indo-China, increased military presence and build up in the Central and Southern Pacific, and providing of aid to European countries fighting Japan's Axis Powers ally Germany.  Future history books will no doubt ask students to "consider the Japanese point of view" on December 6th, 1941 in order to "better understand what happened".

And let's not forget that Japan is a "nation of color"--and they were striking a blow against and "imperial white nation".  In his visit to Hiroshima this year, President Obama was told by some "social justice warriors" that he should apologize for the US using nuclear weapons to end World War II without a bloody invasion of the Home Islands.  Yet those same people would never demand that Japan issue personal apologies to the families of all those people that died in Pearl Harbor--BEFORE ANY DECLARATION OF WAR WAS EVER ISSUED!

So on this 75th anniversary of the attack, let's all pledge to never let the memory of our "darkest day" fade--or be "re-positioned" to make a few people feel better about themselves.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Retail America is giving us a new "reason for the season" this year: Inclusiveness.

I've noticed a couple of high-profile ad campaigns that feature little in the way of product promotion and plenty of social messaging instead.  The first ad was Apple's "Frankie's Holiday" that ran during the Thanksgiving Day NFL football games. 

That's the one were Frankenstein's monster comes into town to sing a non-denominational song for the townsfolk who are--of course--terrified of him because he is different than them--until a little girl helps to fix one of his colored light bulbs and sings the song with him.  Then--magically--the rest of the townsfolk realize the error of their ways and join in to make us all feel good about ourselves as the message comes on the screen "Open your heart to everyone".

Then last night I saw Microsoft's "Celebrate" ad which features a montage of people it says are "making a difference in the world". 

It shows a little girl waving a rainbow gay pride flag, a Muslim couple offering conversations and free coffee or flowers for people, an African-American girl concerned about violence marches in the streets of her neighborhood, a police officer playing basketball with citizens of color, a Pakistani woman fighting for equal rights for women, and a guy who helps rescue refugees from the ocean--all using some of the largest computer screens I have ever seen to create pictures and art work.  It ends with "When the world seems divided, coming together can be a great thing".

I guess we should be happy that Apple and Microsoft are deviating from the usual "You must spend all of your money on gifts for others or you don't actually love them" message that retailers usually blast out at this time of year.  But these ads still feature no images or music connected in any way with the Christian aspect of the holiday of Christmas.  I guess they aren't ready for that much "inclusiveness".

Monday, December 5, 2016

Telling it Like it Is

I don't usually do this, but I am turning over today's My Two Cents to Louisville Women's Basketball Coach Jeff Walz.  Coach Walz was asked why his team struggled against Maryland on Thursday night--and he provided an answer that those of us who have to deal with anyone under the age of thirty would probably have given ourselves:

We in Generation X could not have said it any better ourselves, Coach.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Still No Solution

Remember a few years ago when the College Football Playoff system was formed to replace the old Bowl Championship Series in determining the National Champion?  We were told the four-team playoff would end the controversy of who should be playing for a title by doubling the number of teams in the running.  Well it has taken all of three years to prove that the CFP is just as useless as the BCS was.

Consider if you will that the winner of the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night--either Wisconsin or Penn State--will likely NOT make the College Football Playoff--despite winning what all experts agree is the toughest conference in the country this year.  Instead, at least one and possibly two teams that didn't even play for the conference title WILL get in the CFP.  Ohio State at number two in the rankings is all but assured of a spot--while Michigan at number five would need Washington or Clemson to lose in their respective conference championship games this weekend to sneak in as the last team.

Yes, you can argue that Wisconsin lost to both Ohio State and to Michigan this year--both by late touchdowns--and that Penn State was blown out by Michigan early in the year.  But to take two non-title teams to make up half the championship field makes you wonder why we even bother having conferences anymore?  Why not just have everyone play independent schedules like Notre Dame and pick the teams you think are the best.

Another thing to watch this weekend in the American Athletic Conference title game--where Navy takes on Temple.  The headlines on sports sites this week claimed that ESPN will be openly rooting against Navy in that game--because their winning the AAC would make them eligible for a New Year's Day bowl game--if they beat Army next week.  The only problem with that is if Navy loses to Army (which they haven't 14-years) then they would NOT be eligible for the New Year's game.  But ESPN--which owns most of the useless bowls played in December--needs to know Navy's status by Sunday so that all of those useless bowl matchups can be selected.  Army-Navy is December 10th, the first bowl game is the 17th--not enough time for teams to make travel plans, sell tickets and "soak up the experience" of going to New Mexico to play a .500 team in a meaningless game just so The Worldwide Leader In Sports has something to put on the air that night.

I remain a proponent of having a 16-team playoff--with all 10 conference champions getting automatic bids--and the remaining six slots being filled by at-large teams selected by a committee--with all of the other bowl games being eliminated.  Do teams from the Sun Belt or American Athletic conferences really have a chance to win?  No.  But what makes the NCAA Basketball tournament so much fun in March?  It's the little guys taking down a major power in the first round--or at least producing a dramatic contest.  And isn't that better than watching 6-6 Washington State beat 6-6 Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just Out For a Little Cruise, Officer?

I had an interesting experience the other night.  After leaving our Radio Play practice at the Grand Opera House Tuesday around 8:15 pm, I was followed closely by an Oshkosh Police Squad car for several miles.  I pulled out from the stop sign at Pearl Avenue and Division Street and the officer pulled in behind me.  He (or she--I couldn't tell in my rearview mirror at night) followed me as I took a left onto Jackson Street and then over the Oregon Street Bridge.

I started to get a bit suspicious when the squad car followed me as I made a right hand turn onto Sixth Avenue right after the bridge.  I wasn't sure if the speed limit there was 25, 30 or 35 so I made sure to keep it at a "safe" 27. 

The officer continued to follow right behind me through a couple of stop signs on 6th--and eventually to a right hand turn onto Sawyer Street.  That's where another vehicle at the four-way stop got between me and the squad car.  After sitting through the light at 9th Ave, I continued north on Sawyer and had to stop to make my left-hand turn onto Southland Avenue.  The officer pulled right back up behind me and signaled to make the same turn.

After again having to guess on the speed limit on Southland I signaled for a right-hand turn onto Lark Street--where I live--and so did the officer.  "If that guy is going to turn on the lights and stop me in front of my own house so that all of the neighbors can see, I am going to be really PO'ed" I thought.  But as I flipped on the signal and turned into my driveway, the officer slowly drove on by--and then turned at the next street.

So I have to wonder, why was I being followed?  I guess I could have turned on my police scanner app on my cellphone to see if he was radioing back to dispatch what my possible violation might be (although monitoring a police frequency in a vehicle is against the law).  There is no way that could be a routine patrol route.  "Yeah, I just finished my drive by at the Town Motel, now I'm going to make sure nothing's going on along one block of Lark Street.  I'm going to take the route with the most right-hand turns and fewest stoplights too."

Anyway, I hope the officer enjoyed trailing after Mr Law Abiding Citizen on his way home.