Friday, August 18, 2017

The Confederacy of Idiots

Jeez, I take a few days off and America decides to re-fight the Civil War.  152-years after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, there is actual bloodshed over how the history of the war should be remembered.  As I've stated here before, those who fly the Confederate flags in front of their homes or who have the giant Stars and Bars on their vehicles are idiots who support a losing cause.  And those that think that taking down statues is somehow going to alter history (on both sides) are just as big as idiots.

If no statues were ever erected in honor of General Lee, would he be any less remembered for the major role he played in US history?  Would military historians spend no time studying his tactics--which allowed an under-manned, under-supplied, and under-funded army to win more battles than they lost for the better part of four years? 

It was under-reported this week that the National Parks Service issued a statement that Confederate memorials on the Gettysburg Battlefield--and other Civil War sites around the US will not be taken down or altered--as they stand as important historical monuments to men that actually existed.  Despite what hatred you think existed in the hearts of those soldiers, Pickett's Charge did happen.

Seeking to capitalize on the media frenzy this week, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has ordered the removal of a memorial to Confederate soldiers that died at Camp Randall.  Soglin believes it to be offensive that terms like "valiant" were included on the monument.  He says that a "proper" memorial will go up in its place--with his version of history.

And what comes next after all physical symbols of the Confederacy are removed from our nation?  We still won't have forgotten about it, because millions of pages of books are dedicated to the cause--not to mention countless hours of film--documentary and drama--that do not portray every soldier, politician and resident of The South as white supremacists and traitors to their country.  Textbooks will be the first to be re-written--with Civil War reference books and period pieces heavily scrutinized and removed from school libraries.  Public library shelves will be stripped bare next--or new print editions with modern interpretations will be published to replace those that accurately detailed the War Between the States for 150-years.

The folks at Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Mount Vernon may want to start polishing up the resumes, because those versions of "living history" appear to be short-lived as well.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Primary Objective

A couple of months ago, it looked like the Democratic party was going to struggle to field a viable candidate for governor in 2018.  Big name after big name announced they were going to pass on challenging Scott Walker--who will be running his fourth campaign for the office in just the last eight years.  But as President Trump's lack of public support and Congress' failure to pass healthcare reform drags down the Republican party at every level, a surprising number of Dems see this as a chance to take advantage of potential backlash next year.

Based on how many people have already formed campaign committees--or who tell the media they are going to run--we could have a primary field as large as ten candidates before anyone even starts paying attention to the race.  And with that many people in the contest, it's highly unlikely the August 2018 primary will yield a majority candidate.

But wouldn't it be fun if we selected our nominees for governor the same way we do our candidates for President?  I'm talking about a protracted primary campaign that would allow candidates to build momentum throughout the year--or for a darkhorse to emerge from nowhere on the strength of a good showing in some part of the state, causing the frontrunner to have to rethink their strategy.

We have an Iowa County here in Wisconsin, so let them be the first to vote in this process next January.  Just like the state for which it is named, it is mostly rural so candidates would really have to work to get out and meet voters.  We could even let them hold caucuses instead of a formal primary vote just to make it more interesting.  From there, we could hold the first primary in someplace like Marinette County in February--again with a small population base for easy campaigning.  There could even be a "Super Tuesday" in April where Milwaukee and Dane Counties--and maybe 15 more around the state--could hold their primaries all on the same day to allow a clear front-runner to emerge.  From there, staggered elections the rest of the spring would force candidates to travel to all corners of the state to hawk for votes.

A true primary process would certainly make for a more interesting race and give us more to talk about for the next year than just campaign finance statements--which will be how the Democratic nominee will actually be selected.  Whoever runs the most ads before the August primary will probably win.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Second to Midnight

In the past, when there has been a perceived threat of nuclear war we always has a comforting sense that the people involved in the rhetoric or the standoff were men of reason and caution.  Kennedy and Khrushchev, Reagan, Brezhnev and Gorbachev were not rash men.  Their statements were measured.  They appeared firm but also gave the other side a way out of the situation that didn't involve embarrassment or perceived weakness.

Do you feel that level of comfort in anyway this week?  "Reason", "caution" and "measured" are anything but the terms you would use to describe Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump--and that is what makes this international confrontation so much more dangerous than any other in the Nuclear Age. 

Phrases like "fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen" is the kind of stuff you expect to hear from the dictator of some third-world nation like North Korea or from one of the Militant Islamic Terror groups--not from the President of the United States.  And it is statements like that which erode international support for your position--because you come off as just as insane at the attention-desperate despot that is threatening you.

Besides, when has any adversary given their enemy the "heads up" on actual military attacks?  Did emperor Hirohito appear on state radio and say "The United States must allow us to expand our empire without opposition in the Pacific or we will bomb Pearl Harbor"?  Did Harry Truman hold a press conference to announce that unless Japan surrendered he would drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Did Osama Bin Laden issue an internet video announcing Al Qaeda's plans to hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?  It's only when the threat of attack is all you have, that you threaten attacks.

One of the best campaign ads that Hillary Clinton ran during her first failed campaign for President featured the "Red Phone" ringing in the middle of the night, asking voters if they wanted the "inexperienced" Barack Obama to be the one answering that call.  Unfortunately, that kind of stuff doesn't matter to Democratic primary voters who thought it would be cool to elect a "first ever" kind of President.  I was surprised she didn't bring it back last year, given the even more ill-prepared opponent she faced in that race.  Anyway, if that phone rings in real life, are you confident in the person who will answer it?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Long and the Short of It

The PGA of America is trying something almost revolutionary for the world of professional golf this week--it is allowing players to wear shorts during their practice rounds for the PGA Championship.  In a sport where old traditions die very hard, this is an almost stunning move into the 20th Century.  Of course, the PGA isn't allowing shorts during competitive rounds when the vast majority of people are watching on TV--wouldn't want to get too carried away here.

While I am a traditionalist, I applaud the idea of allowing professional athletes to wear clothing that helps their performance.  Yes, golf is still a gentlemen's game, but today's golf shorts are a far cry from what you see in those dreadful photos of your father or grandfather playing in "short shorts" with the high waist bands and no belts back in the 1970's and '80's.  Plus, today's modern golfer tends to be more athletic and toned than his predecessors--so chafed thighs or thick leg hair are less likely.

There were a few fashion faux pas yesterday at Quail Hollow.  Phil Mickelson came out in black shoes and black anklet socks for his practice round.  Definitely not a good look.  If you are going shorts, white shoes and white socks are a must.  I'm sure that all of the equipment makers liked seeing their pros modeling their performance shorts--all of which are available on-line and at your local golf shop.

What's interesting is that while the PGA is encouraging its players to show a little more skin, the LPGA is telling its ladies to please wear more clothing.  Earlier this summer the women's golf tour issued new apparel guidelines that mandate the length of shorts and skirts and required shoulders and cleavage to be covered. 

As you might expect, this announcement was met with immediate backlash on social media and from talking heads on TV--accusing the men running the LPGA of sexism and misogyny.  "Why are men threatened by women's bodies?" and "Women should be allowed to dress in whatever way they want without judgement by men" were the common responses.  However, all of that talk went away when a number of LPGA players said that it was the women on the tour themselves that demanded the new dress code--as they were tired of seeing buns hanging out of the bottom of outfits and tops that looked like the player was going to beach and not the golf course.

I have a feeling the new dress code for the LPGA will stem the growing tide of "golfer/models" on tour and return the media spotlight to those that actually play good instead of just look good.  As for the guys, the greater depth in talent should keep any Justin Bieber wannabes from turning the fairways into the fashion runways.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Freedom to Sit Out

At a time of year when ESPN is usually breaking down the battle for the third tight end positions in every team's training camp, the main topic of discussion this year is a player that is currently not on any NFL roster.  "Why hasn't anyone signed Colin Kaepernick?" is topic 1A for all of the network's "People yelling at each other" shows every day.  And the general consensus is that Kaepernick has not been signed by anyone--after opting out of his contract in San Francisco--because NFL owners are racist or don't believe in free speech.

Kaepernick came to national attention by taking a knee during the National Anthem before games as a protest of treatment of African-Americans in the US.  He had already been demoted to backup QB by that time, so arguments that the protests cost him his starting spot are inaccurate.  Most of his teammates rallied to his defense--as did some other players around the league.  But most owners were steadfast in insisting that their players stand respectfully for the Anthem.

While a few teams did dangle the possibility of signing Kaepernick in the offseason, nothing got done before training camp.  A few coaches and general managers of teams with solid quarterbacking situations tried the disingenuous route of saying they would sign Colin--"but we don't really need a QB".  Others have justified their signing of older, less-talented QB's by saying those guys would be a "better fit for our system".

There appeared to be some hope for Kaepernick this weekend, as Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a knee injury in practice and the team needed a new starter.  But then the sizable Cuban-American population in Miami began to question Colin's wearing of a t-shirt last year that showed a photo of Malcolm X with Fidel Castro and the phrase "Like minds think alike".  And an interview with the Miami Herald quickly went downhill as Kaepernick tried to defend Castro--which not only burned any bridge that might have existed toward a job in South Florida but also tore it down and buried it in a landfill.  Miami decided it would rather have the retired Jay Cutler run their team this season.

As I have expressed here before, Colin Kaepnernick has every right to express himself and protest against this country in any form he sees fit.  But everybody else is entitled to their reaction to his protests and comments--and if that reaction is to sign other marginal quarterbacks for their football teams--then that is the "price to pay" I guess.  Although is does spare us a thirty minute breakdown of what outside linebacker is best suited to play in the Eagles' new 3-4 defense.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Show That Made a Difference

Today marks the final day that the Dave Ramsey Show will air here on WOSH.  The decision was not made by those of us here at the Radio Ranch--but rather by those in Dave's company.  This will be tough for me, as the Dave Ramsey Show has had a huge impact on the lives of both me and my wife.  Since getting on the "Dave Plan" we have paid off more than 160-thousand dollars in debt--including our mortgage--and we are well on our way to saving for an early retirement.

Whenever I was having a tough day, I knew I could turn on Dave and be reminded of what we have overcome so far, and what a difference we will be able to make in the future.  And I know there are a number of you that have also been working the "Dave Plan" to take control of your financial future as well.

But my own "journey" isn't even my favorite "Dave story".  It's actually this from Winneconne Village Administrator Mitch Foster and his wife Becky:

I'm sorry we can't continue to bring you this positive and empowering program on a daily basis anymore.  Again, it certainly was not our decision.  In the meantime, Phil Valentine will be here on Monday afternoon telling you what idiots liberals are.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Fair Lady

For the first time since I was a young child, I will be going to the Wisconsin State Fair this weekend.  I've always considered the Fair to be the second-rate cousin to SummerFest in terms of Milwaukee-based attractions, as SummerFest usually had a bunch of really cool bands to see and the Fair usually had the Beach Boys and the Turtles.

What's more, the Fairgrounds struck me as being rather worn down and kind of dumpy.  Old, hot wooden building that didn't smell very good and made you feel kind of uncomfortable going into them.  And then, of course, you had the security concerns.  Who can forget Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett being attacked by hooligans that had just been thrown out of the Midway area a few years ago?  It's not exactly the best advertising for your event when a guy making appearances around the state as a candidate for Governor has a big cast on his hand along with cuts and bruises on his face.

But this spring, I had the opportunity to check out the State Fair grounds again when I attended the Milwaukee Golf Show--and you could tell that the Fair organizers have put a great deal of money and effort into modernizing and upgrading the facilities.  The buildings look much cleaner and the food stands are more presentable.  New attendance and behavior policies have been put into place to take back the Midway area from the hoods that would take over after dark--and security has been ramped up to protect fairgoers.

The State Fair will never be a haven for big name entertainment on the Main Stage--tonight its a collection of 80's one-hit wonders that will each do short sets--but there is still enough acts to make a day there worthwhile.  I'm looking forward to the "Beatles Sing Along" on one of the stages.  And my wife wants to catch pig racing.  Yes, we are getting old.

Interestingly, it is now SummerFest that we have not attended in a long time--as the last time we were there, I had beer spilled on me just four steps onto the grounds and a guy was stabbed near the stage where we were watching the DropKick Murphys.   Add to that the increasingly terrible traffic patterns to get to downtown Milwaukee and a shorter trip to West Allis becomes more attractive.

I'm putting the over/under on cream puffs consumed this weekend at 3.5.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The New Up North

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sparked some lively debate this summer when they asked "where does 'Up North' begin in Wisconsin.  An interactive on-line poll tried to use highways as "markers" for the start of the region.  There were suggestion that "Up North" starts at Highway 10. Other choices included Highway 8 and all the way up to Highway 2--which would be about two percent of the entire state.

Personally, I would say that "Up North" starts at Highway 64 in the east--so that Marinette isn't included--but lake towns like Crivitz and Wausaukee are and it includes everything north of Antigo--which is the last of the "big cities" on Highway 45.  Where 64 hits Highway 51, you head south to Wausau and then across the state on Highway 29.  Everything north of that is "Up North".

However, "Up North" isn't as "Northy" as it used to be.  When my family started going "Up North", we had one of those Winnebago-type trailers with the table that folded down to make the second bed.  There was no electrical hookup, so entertainment was listening to Brewers games on the AM radio or cassette tapes of our albums recorded with a mono tape recorder.  And while it may have had a bathroom, we used the outhouse.

From there we graduated to "The Shack", a one room structure that at least had electricity--so you could watch whatever was on the one channel you could get without an antenna on the black and white television.  And there was still no bathroom.  Now, because they live there in the summer, my folks are in a "Lake House" with three functioning toilets, satellite tv and wifi internet.  Not exactly "roughing it".

Plus the towns "Up North" aren't the same anymore.  I thinks it was about 20-years ago that the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine had a front page story "Eagle River: The New Door County".  And sure enough, the monied Illinoisians descended upon that area in droves--driving up property values and bringing with them the kind of over-priced lifestyle items that ruined the quaintness of Door County a generation before.

The only reason to go into Three Lakes back in the day was for the Water Ski show, or to eat at the Copper Kettle Restaurant--home of the World Pancake Hall of Fame.  Now, Three Lakes is best known for its winery.  Yes, Three Lakes has a winery.  Dining selections in Eagle River used to be the A&W, a couple of pizza places or a burger at a bar.  Now, there are upscale eateries that require reservations, that have giant. glasse-enclosed wine cellars where someone has to get on a ladder to pull out the bottle you want, and where Friday Fish Fry is some pecan-crusted sea bass.

The moccasin and fudge shops on the downtown main drag now sit next to art galleries and stores stocked with high-end designer "outdoor apparel" and "trekking gear".  And of course, everywhere you go there is "free wi-fi" to help you "stay connected". 

So while you may be "going Up North", it's not like you are really "getting away from it all" anymore.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Just Let Them Run Away?

Under current law, the orders of a police officer are to be obeyed at all times.  Failure to comply is a crime.  So is attempting to flee an officer.  As is resisting arrest.  But as public scrutiny of fatal shootings that stem from the commission of these crimes increases, don't be surprised if efforts are made to undermine the legal standing of commands by police.

The idea of "right to flee" or "right to resist" may already have legal precedent.  The Massachusetts State Supreme Court last year threw out a man's felony weapons conviction because it found that police didn't have probable cause to chase after him when he ran away as officers tried to question him about an unrelated robbery.  In their ruling, the justices even went so far as to write that African-Americans in Boston should be allowed to flee police--due to the department's record of racial profiling.

There have also been cases where defendants have successfully argued that they had a right to fight back against arresting officers due to a fear that they themselves would beaten.  A number of police departments have adopted policies that they will not engage suspects in high speed pursuits--hoping that they can later identify and apprehend those criminals in less-dangerous situations.  The cumulative effect of these decisions is that efforts to evade or resist arrest are given legitimacy--making modern policing even more difficult.

We may be forced to ask ourselves some very difficult questions as a society: Is a situation that threatens "just" the life of a police officer justification for his or her use of deadly force?  Should criminal suspects be given legal avenues of escape?  Should arrest just be a voluntary thing?  And should police be disarmed like their counterparts in Europe--where officers are forced to fight bomb and gun-toting terrorists and criminals armed only with batons?

Personally, I prefer a society where the legitimate commands of an officer hold the force of law.  I want police to make every effort to take criminal suspects into custody as quickly as possible by whatever legal means are necessary.  And I want officers to be able to defend themselves with deadly force if they have identified a real threat to their personal safety.  In the meantime, all of us can make sure we stay out of situations where law enforcement needs to be arresting us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Risktakers

So there I was on Friday listening to Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham and Jim Lovell--along with Mission Control Director Gene Krantz--talk about the effort it took to get to the Moon.  When I asked them if we are now at the point in space exploration they thought we would be 50 years ago when the Apollo program began, they all agreed that we are not.  And they also agreed that the reason we have not been to Mars or have a permanent colony on the Moon yet is that we as Americans don't want to take risks anymore.

We used to be the country known for taking risks.  We were founded by a bunch of farmers, tradesmen and lawyers that risked fighting the mightiest army and navy on the planet at the time for our independence.  We risked permanent division of our country to end slavery and determine the powers of the Federal Government.  And we are still the only country to send men to the Moon.

So much of what was accomplished in the Apollo program was done right at the edge of acceptable risk.  There were a few unmanned flights to test rockets and components--but those were minimal, and men put their lives on the line to see if everything worked the way the scientists and engineers thought it would.  When the Lunar Module wasn't ready for Apollo 8 to test in Earth orbit, the mission was completely changed to send the Command Module to orbit the Moon instead.  NASA didn't send an unmanned capsule out there first to make sure timing for firing the rockets to enter lunar orbit--and to get back out of it--were correct.  They sent three men up there to figure it out--Lovell, Frank Borman and William Anders.

And Apollo 11 was not preceded by seven or eight test launches to put unmanned LEM's on the lunar surface until we could "figure out how to do it".  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were sent out there with plenty of simulator training--which came in handy when the computers missed their targeted landing area and Armstrong had to navigate past a field of boulders to avoid a crash landing.

If we were trying to run the Apollo program today, we would likely still be on the ground.  We would demand that the engineers make the rocket engines foolproof--and to test them thousands of times.  There would have been dozens of unmanned missions to test maneuverability, docking and burn times so that everything would be "perfect" before any man would go into space.  And the entire process would be bogged down by endless debate over whether the cost and the risk are commensurate to good that would come out of it.

So it's a good thing that the Greatest Generation were the ones who decided to go to the Moon, because if it was up to the current generation of Americans, our fear of any kind of risk would have us cowering in the corner.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Crash Course

The next time you are out and about, check out how many vehicles you see with some sort of collision damage.  One of those vehicles right now belongs to my wife, who collided last week with a young woman that decided not to check for cross traffic along a street where she had a yield sign--and my wife had the right of way.  After that crash, I started taking a look at other cars on the road and I notice a lot of crumpled side panels and cracked or missing bumpers.

I used to think that those social media posts ranking "Wisconsin drivers among the worst in the country" were just clickbait--because anytime I saw someone going 95-miles an hour on I-41 or passing an entire line of cars in a no passing zone on the way up north, they had an Illinois license plate.  And I thought that just cutting someone off because you wanted into their lane without even signaling was just an East Coast thing.  But just a week of very close observation of our local driving habits shows that we suck just as bad as our metropolitan counterparts.

We had some construction in front of the Radio Ranch here on South Washburn this week that closed the right-hand lane.  Despite signs warning of the closure well down the block, I've seen at least three instances of drivers in that lane swerving feet in front of the cones and forcing vehicles in the left lane to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.  What has made it particularly dangerous is that you have people gunning it out of Walmart less than a hundred feet from the construction zone.

And speaking of parking lots, I saw the Cart Guy at Festival have to jump out of the way of a driver that was backing out of a parking spot without looking behind them to see if it was safe to go.  I've also noticed that we have become less courteous of allowing people to walk to and from stores in those crosswalk areas--choosing instead to gun it through before they can set foot into the painted area.  This is especially true at the southside Pick n Save--where drivers give you dirty looks as they nearly run you over.

We drivers aren't necessarily all to blame for the increase in crashes.  The increase of speed limits on all interstates and expressways are giving aging drivers less time to react to unexpected situations.  And the instance of placing roundabouts at every intersection just encourages more confusion and collisions.  My wife's crash was due to Oshkosh's widespread use of yield signs on side streets--rather than stop signs that force someone to at least take a look in both directions before crossing.  And carmakers are colluding to distract us even more behind the wheel with internet connection on dashboard screens and providing false security with backup cameras, lane deviation warnings and self-breaking systems that some people think will avoid crashes all by themselves.

And if you think I'm just over-stating how bad things have been out there this summer, call up one of the auto body shops in town and ask how long it would take to get a repair done.  My wife found six to eight weeks--because those guys can't keep up with all of the bad driving.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Let Them Smoke Pot!

For all the concern that Democrats claim to have for the plight of the poor and downtrodden in this state, they sure have a funny way of trying to "solve" their core constituency's problems.  Take for instance the push to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Wisconsin.

In a state that is struggling to fill skilled jobs because so many went through the education system without learning the skills necessary for today's workforce, employers are also running into the problem of qualified applicants that can't pass a simple drug test.  How then does encouraging people to use one of the drugs employers don't want their workers to be using going to help the unemployed (or underemployed) find and retain jobs?

We hear often from Democrats that the poor don't have enough money for the basics: food, medicine, transportation, child care--and that Government programs need to be set up to provide all of those.  But is the legalized marijuana going to be free?  Based on the number of dealers getting busted, business in the illegal drug trade is booming here in Wisconsin--so plenty of that money low-income families never seem to have is going into the pockets of those dealers.  Or are you going to make an argument that legalization will "help lower the cost" of pot?

And let's not forget the heady numbers supporters of legal weed like to toss around for taxes the state could collect at marijuana dispensaries.  Who is paying that tax?  The One Percent?  Evil corporations?  No.  It will be the low and middle income drug users that Democrats already say are paying "more than their fair share".

If you are going to say "Jonathan, the poor don't use drugs in any higher rates that the middle class and the rich", I would direct you to a Politifact check on a comment from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee who tried to shoot down Governor Scott Walker's drug testing for welfare recipients by saying the "poor people are less likely to use drugs because they can't afford them".  Politifact gave that a "false" rating--as numerous studies find higher drug usage rates as incomes decline.

It almost makes you think that Democrats want to keep people unemployable and broke.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Trap is Sprung

Despite all of the machinations in Washington, the Affordable Care Act continues to work exactly the way its designers and supporters wanted it to.  Premiums continue to rise.  Insurers are refusing to take part in the exchanges.  Medical inflation remains above the regular rate of inflation and the constant fear of "losing access to healthcare" continues to hang over everyone's heads.  And now, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have fallen into the final booby trap designed to kill them as well.

As I have mentioned here before, the ACA was NEVER intended to make health care more affordable.  It is not designed to improve the current health insurance system.  The Affordable Care Act is solely in place to DESTROY the current health insurance system in order to set the stage for its creators' and supporters' ultimate goal: single-payer, Federal health care.  It's structure of requiring insurance companies to cover all conditions, to allow people to buy insurance after they get sick and to prevent anyone with a higher risk for illness to pay a higher premium is obviously untenable in the long term.

We can debate whether the Republican majorities in Congress and President Trump were sent to Washington to "repeal and replace" the ACA.  But their continued failure to do so not only guarantees the fate of healthcare in this country--but also that of the GOP as well.

President Trump--whom you will notice never actually developed his own healthcare plan and instead just chose to criticize the plans developed in Congress--thinks that he is some political genius with his "We are going to let ObamaCare fail--and we will not own it" strategy.  But his plan plays directly into the hands of Democrats--whom voters are not going to "blame" for the collapse of private insurance in this country.  Instead, those that want the Government to take over health care will be joined by the angry Trumpkins whose guy didn't get his way and fiscal Conservatives that realize those who promised to rescue us from the ACA trap don't have the backbone to take the steps necessary and Republicans will first lose control of Congress and then the White House.

And once that happens, the door to socialized medicine is wide open.  What's more, the carnage inflicted by the Affordable Care Act operating exactly as it was designed will have those same voters begging for the Government "to do something"--which will be "Medicare For All" as Bernie Sanders yelled at his millennial supporters last year.  So the greatest expansion of Government power in US history will take place--and the people will cheer as they lose more of their independence.  Meanwhile, Republicans are left with yet another "political rail" that they will never be able to touch again.

The trap was set nine years ago, and this week the GOP and the President walked right into it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Prisoners of the System

You can't help but feel bad for the students and parents at Washington Middle School in Green Bay that really are committed to getting a good education there.  Thanks to the dramatic testimony from a former teacher at the school earlier this summer, the dire situation those kids and faculty members face at Washington was exposed to the rest of the community--and they too can now demand action from District officials to improve the situation.

But imagine the frustration that those parents and kids must feel when the District and the School Board decide to take actions that in no way, shape of form will address the problems or their root causes.  Last night, an assistant superintendent was more than proud to announce that the district is working on "new expectation guidelines for students" and that it will conduct their "culture and climate survey" more often.

I know that if I was a trouble-making kid looking to disrupt the education process or to intimidate my classmates and teachers I would be quaking in my boots at the prospect of a survey being done more often.  And revisions to a behavior expectation policy that I ignored before would certainly get me to stay on the straight and narrow from now on.  When those concerned parents who are begging for improvements went to that meeting last night they were probably expecting to hear words like "increased in-school suspension" or "immediate expulsion" as the tactics that would be used to restore order at Washington.

The reason actual disciplinary actions will not be recommend nor taken by the Green Bay School District can be summed up in one buzzword: Optics.  Cracking down on those terrorizing Washington Middle School could make the School District look bad--well at least in the eyes of those promoting the agenda of "social justice".

The one issue that everyone on all sides have danced around very carefully in the Washington Middle School controversy is that it has the highest percentage of minority students in the district.  That means that if disciplinary action falls along those percentages, it will appear that the Green Bay School District is punishing student of color more often than white students.  And presenting each case individually and laying out the facts in each case will not counter the blanket accusations that "institutional racism" exists in Green Bay schools.

And so those who can, use the state's open enrollment law to pull their kids from the Green Bay School District to attend classes in the surrounding districts--to the tune of a loss of more than 15-hundred students last year.  That means the "bad actors" make up a larger percentage of the remaining student body--further skewing the numbers when it comes to disciplinary action.  And those who can't "escape" via open enrollment remain prisoners of the system.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Inter-racial Racism

In today's episode of "Trying to Understand How Liberals Think", we examine the curious reaction to the new movie The Big Sick.  In the film, comedian Kumail Nanjiani--who is of Pakistani descent--meets a Caucasian woman and falls in love.  The story centers around Nanjiani's character trying to hide his white girlfriend from his parents--who are trying to arrange a marriage for him with a woman of Pakistani descent.  That is followed by the usual "culture shock" humor and eventual acceptance--because as we have been told many times "you should be allowed to love whomever you want".

One would think that a movie garnering rave reviews and some box office success starring a Pakistani-descent lead actor and portraying societal acceptance of such inter-racial relationships would be considered a "success" in Hollywood--which consistently pays only lip-service to minorities (especially when it comes to things like the Oscars or the Emmys).  But as several on-line articles claim the movie is actually racist.

The problem--according to those on the Left--is that Nanjiami's character falls in love with a white woman--which perpetuates something known as "white love"--or the belief that winning the favor of Caucasian women somehow "embodies an acceptance into American culture."  Men of Asian descent lust after white women not because of who they are--but what they represent--"a gateway to power in our culture".   Furthermore, there is criticism that the Pakistani women recruited by his parents that the main character rejects are all caricatures of the simple, subservient females of the native culture. 

Apparently, to meet the "expectations" of liberals, The Big Sick should have featured a Pakistani-American man that meets a Pakistani-American woman that is successful in business, independent, that has rejected the "patriarchal standards of Pakistani culture" and whom he treats as an equal.  His parents immediately accept her for who she is--and not what their background believes she should be.  All of his friends--especially those that are white men--respect her from the first time they meet her.  And then they go on to marry and have kids that they do not force any cultural expectations or gender norms upon.

There probably wouldn't be any comedy and hardly any entertainment value in that story--but at least everyone would leave the theater feeling really good about themselves.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Banking Some Goodwill

I hope the Oshkosh Corporation tosses out a lot of candy during their parade on Saturday--and that every child that wants to ride on one of the big trucks gets a chance during their open house--because the company may need all the goodwill it can get for a battle coming up in the future.  As City Councilmember Steve Herman told us this week, there is "plenty of buildable space" at the site of Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course--and by all accounts, Oshkosh Corp wants that land for a new world headquarters.

You can't really blame Oshkosh for eyeing that site--as it has the perfect combination of riverfront acreage and easy access to Interstate 41.  The corporate leaders likely have a bit of "headquarters envy" if you will.  Take a look at what smaller companies like Thrivent Financial and Plexus have in our area.  Thrivent has lagoons and walking trails and multiple parking lots on their site--which everyone driving by on I-41 can see.

Plexus just moved into a beautiful new building that consolidated all of their corporate divisions along the Fox River in downtown Neenah--where their employees can walk along the water or dine at neat little restaurants just a few blocks away.  Plus, the city is building them a parking ramp next door.  Compare that to Oshkosh's current corporate headquarters--which you could easily drive by without even noticing on Oregon Street--with it's funky "five corners" intersection confusing visitors looking for the parking lot. 

Now imagine replacing that set up with a gleaming new tower that you couldn't possibly miss along I-41 alongside the river, with the big old trees already on the site and the WIOUWASH Trail leading over the causeway right next door.  Wally at Robbins says he already has a new bar/restaurant ready to go into that building--and somebody looking to build a hotel next door--all of which could easily serve Oshkosh Corp employees and visitors.

The company will likely find a Common Council amenable to a potential sale.  I doubt Councillors Palmeri, Krause (no relation) and Panske are going to vote to preserve a playing ground for such an elitist, racist and misogynistic sport like golf.  And the pressure on the remaining Councilmembers to retain the headquarters of the largest employer in town will be great.  It's bad enough that the most well-known Oshkosh-related company--B'Gosh--has nothing to do with the city anymore.

So smile and congratulate the folks at the Oshkosh Corporation on their milestone anniversary this weekend--because things are not going to be so friendly in the near future.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Early Bird Special

I don't go to that many of them every year, but I would have to say that last night's Waterfest concert at the Leach Amphitheater in Oshkosh was the best one ever.  I don't say that because Huey Lewis and the News is one of my favorite groups and that they played all of their hits in fine form.  I don't say that because the rain stayed away--and it was the warm and muggy weather conditions that I love.  I say it was the best Waterfest show ever because it was done at 9:15 pm.  With the possibility of severe weather looming, organizers shortened up the sets for the opening acts and started Huey at 7:45pm.

Admittedly, I'm a bit different than your usual live music fan.  I'm on the job at 3:00 AM on weekdays--and I usually have something going on very early on weekends--while most everyone else is still sound asleep.  But is there really a good reason to hold so many events so late at night?

The average Waterfest show runs until 10:30 or so--with headliners not hitting the stage until around 9:00.  You add on the half hour it takes to get out of the Leach and back to your car--and the time to drive home on the crowded, one-way downtown streets and there is little chance of getting to bed before 11:30.  Last night, I was sleeping before ten.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people that stopped going to Country USA is that the headliners don't get on until 11:00 every night.  And with the traffic nightmare getting out of Ford Festival Park afterwards, it usually turns into an all-night affair.  Who needs that hassle, even if you don't have to be to work until 9:00 the next morning?

Whenever you hear about a new study that finds Americans don't get enough sleep, remember that we do that to ourselves.  Nights haven't become any shorter since the advent of time--we just insist on scheduling everything as late as possible. 

And it's not just concerts.  Sports is another late night offender.  Playoff games in all leagues and the college ranks start at 8:00 Central Time--9:00 on the East Coast--and go until around midnight.  There's no reason to start that late other than to make sure the entire game takes place during "prime time hours" in all time zones.  I'm sure the players themselves would be just fine with a 6:00 kickoff or tipoff.

So if I could make a suggestion to Mike Dempsey and the rest of the crew at Waterfest: Consider more "Early Bird Specials" and let us enjoy our beer and our music--while still getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Already Out of Touch

I sure hope newly-declared gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik didn't clear his schedule this morning to talk with radio and TV stations across the state about his candidacy--because it won't be happening.  Seconds after Gronik announced his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination in 2018 via an email press release, Governor Scott Walker sent out a fundraising email to his donor list claiming Gronik is "out of touch"--and that was literally the case on Tuesday.

That's because the contact person listed for Gronik's campaign was not answering her phone--all day.  We tried calling the number from the Newsroom 12 times between noon and 6pm.  Every time it rang ten times.  Then a recorded message told us that the person with that number had not set up a voice mail account--so we couldn't even leave a message.  Email was a dead end as well, as the announcement came from one of those "press@" addresses that doesn't actually go back to a real, live person--but just serves to send out scheduled emails. 

Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon in our field nowadays.  We receive plenty of press releases via email with contact people and numbers--only to find out that "they are on vacation this week and won't be back until next Monday--and they are really the ones you need to talk to".  I usually picture these PR folks sitting on a beach somewhere or at an airport terminal typing out these press releases--and sending them to us before flipping their laptop closed and going back to sipping on a mai tai or boarding their plane.  Obviously, they are using the programs that can schedule when you send an email--even if you are not on your computer at the time.

But it still begs the question: Why "alert the media" if there is no possible way for us to get ahold of you to talk about what you thought was so important in the first place? 

It's actually a bit of "old school print mentality" mixed with "new school PR techniques".  Back in the day when newspapers drove the media cycle, you could provide them with a printed "quote" and they would use it word for word like they actually talked to you.  PR folks are still comfortable with that--as it doesn't open anyone up for follow up questioning that might require getting away from talking points.  The modern touch is to send out a high definition video--or an "edgy" selfie--that we are supposed to use for "electronic media purposes".

It turns out that Andy Gronik did an "exclusive interview" with the Associated Press yesterday--that the rest of us are supposed to use for our stories.  I'm just surprised they were able to get in touch with him.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Filling the Void

A recurring theme in the wake of the G-20 summit in Germany last week is that the US is "surrendering its leadership position in the world--and risking isolation".  A number of foreign news services aired footage of President Trump wandering around the summit halls with no one wanting to come talk to him or stand with him for pictures.  European leaders took veiled shots at us, inferring that somehow they were going to "step into the void and take the lead on important issues facing the planet".

There is a certain irony to all of this concern and consternation about the US breaking away from the direction that some of its allies want to go.  For decades those same countries have complained about having to operate in the shadow of the United States.  Liberals in those nations have long decried their leaders playing second fiddle to Presidents who set the "global agenda".  Nobody every accused Helmut Kohl or Francois Mitterand of "putting the world on the brink of nuclear war"--it was always Ronald Reagan who was "blamed" for that.

While they may talk about taking the lead, European and Asian leaders really don't want that responsibility.  Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May, Justin Trudeau and all of their Socialist predecessors built very comfortable lives standing underneath the American umbrella.  And they know that if they actually did try to "set the direction for the world" that it will result in the giant disasters that preceded the "American Century". 

Merkel and Macron know that they have no chance to contain Russia.  Thanks the military commitment of the US, Germany and France have dedicated their resources to single-payer, national health care systems--which aren't going to intimidate Vladimir Putin in the slightest.  The rest of Europe has no intention of taking on militant Islam or quelling the fighting in the countries that are leading to the mass exodus of refugees to the Continent--because they are too preoccupied with free daycare and "basic incomes" to commit anything more to humanitarian disasters elsewhere.  Japan has no ability to keep North Korea in check.  And we don't have time here to go into the medical and technological advancements that US companies develop in our free market system--unencumbered by the types of regulation and government involvement seen in the rest of the world.

So, to the "rest of the world" we should say if you don't want to continue to enjoy the protection and aid of the United States--because you don't agree with the politics or the guy running the show--go off on your own with neither the resources or the might to survive.  Don't worry, because we will still be here--ready to bail you out for the fourth time in the last 100 years.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Is It Time To Believe?

Having a five and a half game lead in the National League Central--and winning two of three from the New York Yankees in what has usually been a house of horrors for the team--is it time to believe the Milwaukee Brewers could actually make the playoffs this year?

The ragamuffin assemblage of twenty-somethings and castoffs from other teams is the most interest story in baseball this year.  The slightly-better-than average April start didn't really get too many people excited.  The bullpen meltdowns of May threatened to undermine morale--but the plucky Brewers kept finding ways to win the next game.  The usual June Swoon failed to materialize--as the Brewers actually expanded their lead in the division during the month.  And now they head into the All Star Break winning eight of their last ten.

Brewers fans have reason to not go jumping on the bandwagon just yet.  In 2014 the Crew led the NL Central by more than ten games in the first half of the season--then completely fell apart, finishing third. missing the playoffs and barely finishing the year above .500.  And that was a veteran team with a healthy Ryan Braun and starters that could go more than five innings without wearing down.

But the 2014 team didn't have a Cubs team that was sleepwalking through a post-World Series championship.  And the Cardinals that year weren't as old and injury-plagued as they are now.  Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are weaker this year as well--so it's entirely possible that the 2017 Crew is the best of a bad lot--and could hold on to win this thing.

I'm not ready to order playoff tickets just yet.  Friday night's game at Yankee Stadium where the Brewers committed five errors in just four innings shows that they are still weak in the fundamentals of the game.  And the 9th inning bullpen implosion of Saturday afternoon reveals a weakness that gets compounded as the games really start to mean something in September and October.

Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, Craig Counsell has definitely clinched the National League Manager of the Year award.  And General Manager David Stearns deserves NL Executive of the Year for finding such free agent gems as Travis Shaw (who is a definite All-Star snub) and Stephen Vogt--both of whom couldn't hit a lick until they got to the Brewers.

Of course, an unexpected Brewers pennant chase will become secondary in importance to Wisconsin sports fans as of July 27th.  That's the date the Packers open training camp.  From that point on, video of Aaron Rodgers standing around with a red jersey on will replace Brewers highlights at the start of the sportscasts--and discussion of what "over-achieving" white guy might make the roster will dominate sports talk radio.  Hopefully the first place Brewers enjoyed their brief time in the Wisconsin sports spotlight.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Song Remains the Same

Last month I poked fun at Country USA for its "Bro Country" heavy lineup that featured song after song about drinkin', partyin' and drivin' pickup trucks.  Now comes Lifest, where the range of musical topics is even more narrow--like just one subject over and over and over again.  Perusing the catalogs of some of this week's headliners like Newsboys (which are actually from Australia--not really the first country you think of when it comes to devout Christianity--and who have a front man with the last name of Frankenstein) and Michael W Smith you find compositions only about God and Jesus.

I understand that these musicians believe their talents are gifts from on high and that they are obligated to use them to glorify their creator and testify to their own personal salvation.  But don't they want to glorify a really cool car or testify to how their ex-girlfriend was evil incarnate just once or twice an album?  I imagine them in the studio saying "OK guys, we just finished that song about how much we love Jesus--now lets cut one about how much Jesus loves us!!"  How as an artist do you keep finding different ways to say the same thing time after time?

Take for example my favorite Beatles album, Revolver.  It opens with a track about the oppressive income tax rates in Britain.  That is followed by songs about the death of a lonely woman, taking a nap, love, love again, an animated underwater child's fantasy, what it's like to be dead, what's it's like to be falling in love, a diss on your ex, the process of breaking up, prescription drug abuse, doubts about love, desire for a new love and the unknown nature of the future.  You listen to that album and you've have pretty much covered the entire gamut of human emotion and experience--in just 38-minutes.

Even some of the greatest musicians of all time have fallen into the trap of religious themes.  Bob Dylan had his "born again phase" in the late 1970's and early '80's when people wondered if he was done writing great music.  Van Morrison insisted that re-issues of his classic song "Brown Eyed Girl" replace the line "Making love in the green grass" with "Running and a-jumping, hey-hey" because it clashed with his renewed religious beliefs (which he has since moved away from again).  Even the former Beatle George Harrison changed the lyrics to his Fab Four songs during concerts to express his love for God--instead of what was likely Patti Boyd back in the day--which didn't sit real well with the audiences.

So if your are heading to Lifest, enjoy the different kinds of music--but keep in mind the words of the decidedly non-religious Led Zeppelin: The song remains the same.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The New Americans

The host on one of our early morning shows asked yesterday "What does it mean to be an American?"  It's a bit of a crutch to throw out a generalized question like that.  A better one would have been what are the differences between an "Old American" and a "New American"?

I'm an Old American.  I enjoy the right to say what I believe in--even if someone else may disagree or take offense.  I enjoy the right to practice (or not practice) the religion of my choice--and am safe from having the government tell me what my beliefs should be.  I enjoy the freedom to publish what I want as news content--even if it is highly critical of the government or opponents of the government.  And if I want to, I can peacefully protest decisions of my government--so long as I don't disrupt its function or deny others their right to free expression.

The New Americans are quite different from us Old Americans.  The New Americans believe that only speech that does not offend or challenge their way of thinking should be allowed in any format.  They believe that the government should dictate the way to practice one's religion (unless it is a relatively new religion practiced by just a few).  New Americans want the government to decide which media outlets present the proper facts and to shut down publication of all other forms of content so that people don't have to decide what they consider to be "the truth".  And New Americans believe that government operations they do not agree with should be blocked--by pre-emptive legal action, by force or by destruction of public property.

New Americans also have a very different definition of "Independence".  They believe people should be dependent on the government for their health care, for their transportation, for their child care, for their means of communication, for all aspects of their education and for their income in retirement.

But most importantly, New Americans really don't want to be Americans anyway.  They see the entire history of the country as a constant "failure".  That the governing document is so fundamentally flawed that it should be ignored in nearly all instances (save for the Equal Protection Clause--which often benefits their efforts) or that it should be interpreted through whatever social mores are popular this decade.  New Americans want to be more European than anything else.  They want to embrace the policies of the nations that the Old Americans fought to escape the control of--and then fought almost 200-years later to provide the opportunity to experience American-style freedom when totalitarian governments took over again.

So what does it mean to be American?  A lot less freedom and indepdence than it used to.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The 25th Amendment

Getting nowhere in proving treason through campaign connections to Russia, the latest attempt to remove President Donald Trump from office is a movement to invoke the 25th Amendment.  Because the Constitution as it is written really isn't taught in public schools anymore, you probably didn't know that the 25th codifies the procedure for replacing the President in case of incapacitation or death.  Until 1967, there was no official procedure to pass on power from the President to the Vice President.

The provision that those on the left want to invoke in the case of President Trump is Section 4--which allows the Vice President or the Cabinet to inform the Congress that the President is unable to discharge his duties anymore--and that the Vice President should be granted his powers.  However, if the President notifies Congress that he is in fact able to discharge his duties--he remains in power.  But if the Veep or the Cabinet comes back within four days to say "no, this guy is not fit to hold the office", Congress must immediately convene and vote on who should be President within 21-days.  If they vote the President out, the Vice President moves up.  If they vote to keep the President--or take no action in three week--he stays.

Obviously, the 25th Amendment was drafted to deal with situations where Presidents become physically incapacitated due to assassination attempts or medical emergencies.  There was real concern after Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in his second term (and his wife effectively ran the White House) and with Franklin Roosevelt's deteriorating health during his fourth term.  That was compounded by the chaos in the hours after John Kennedy was shot (and Lyndon Johnson could have been too) that precipitated drafting of the 25th to clean up the succession process.

I don't think that Congress at the time thought it would be used to claim that the President is a crazy man that needs to be removed from office.  Imagine what it would be like if Mike Pence or the Cabinet did alert Congress that President Trump is unable to discharge his duties.  Trump would certainly fire back notice that he is more than fit to lead--and then would unleash a barrage of Twitter posts attacking Pence and said Cabinet members as being the "real crazy people".

If Pence came back with a second notice, you would have Congress forced to hold hearings into the mental fitness of President Trump.  Employers across the country would be best off to just close all businesses if that happens--because that will be must see TV all day, every day.  Psychiatrists, psycholgists and sociologist would all be called to testify--nearly all of them just guessing as to the President's mental state--as he would allow just one doctor to conduct a test that will guaranteed find him to be sane.  And then to have open debate on the mental state of the President on the House floor?  You can bet we will be pre-empting all regular programming for that as well.

But in the end, unless Trump were to rise from his chair and imitate Doctor Strangelove at the end of Stanley Kubrick's classic movie and be unable to control his "Nazi arm", Congress will not vote to invoke the 25th Amendment--guaranteeing us at least another three years of the most bizarre period in US political history.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The New Isolationism

As war raged across Europe in the late 1930's and early 1940's, there was a strong movement in the United States to keep the country out of wars "over there".  Aviator Charles Lindberg was among the most vocal of the "Isolationists"--even going so far at to defend some of the actions of Hitler.  That effort at isolationism failed miserably, as Pearl Harbor dragged the US into the global conflict that perhaps is could have shortened by joining its allies earlier in the fight.

A new type of isolationism is taking root in Washington now--but instead of the entire country trying to wall itself off from what is going on in the rest of the world, it is just President Donald Trump looking to completely alienate himself from everyone.  I'm beginning to think that the President has made it his goal to burn all political capital he can--without actually accomplishing anything in office.

Neither friend nor foe is immune from personal attacks--usually on Twitter at all hours of the day and night.  Intimidation is obviously the MO the President likes to use--escalating actual thought-provoking dialogue into an exchange of insults in a matter of minutes.  Anyone attempting to challenge the President on his thoughts or opinions is not met with reasoned argument--but rather immediate put downs and public shaming.

But what happens when the President has shifted all of the names on the "allies" list to the "enemies" list?  Or what if there is a national crisis and not a single lawmaker, advisor, bureaucrat or pundit is willing to work with the man that went out of his way repeatedly to belittle and intimidate them?  It is certainly not unheard of in the White House.  President Andrew Johnson was so reviled by members of both parties that they all jumped at the first chance to impeach him for a relatively minor offense.

I had to remind myself this morning that we are not even six months into this administration--and the list of those aggrieved by the President could fill a good-sized city's phone book (if there was still a need to public phone books).  Did "drain the swamp" mean drive off everyone in it to leave yourself the king of an empty land?

If he wasn't an admitted animal hater, I'd recommend President Trump follow the advice of another White House isolationist--Harry Truman--who famously said that "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog".  Of course, the President would be on Twitter at 3:45 am telling the world what a lousy pet he had.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Teachable Moment

Whenever something bad happens in the world of academia, those involved always like to say that it is a "teachable moment".  Well, UW-Oshkosh students are going to be receiving a major lesson in why you don't go into debt to buy (or in this case, build) things that you cannot afford.

Off campus, the reaction to the Board of Regents' decision not to bail out the UWO Foundation with taxpayer money is being met with overwhelming approval.  When administrators intentionally circumvent the safety measures and procedures put into place to protect the system and the state from financial threat, it should not be our responsibility to clean up the mess.  When charities over-estimate their ability to raise funds from willing givers, those of us with no choice in the matter should not be treated as a "back up" source of money.  So by not allowing the state to bail out UWO we are seeing a rare example of those responsible for creating a bad situation actually being held accountable.

The Foundation has the money it needs to pay off the loans used to build two bio-digesters and the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center.  Unfortunately, that money funds scholarships for students of all walks of life.  Given that the reputation of the Foundation is about as low as Congress's approval rating, an emergency bailout from donors at this point is highly unlikely--about as unlikely as the Foundation actually getting the cash to fund such useless projects before the scandal broke--so what should have been going to help kids go to school will now go to pay for buildings that provide the college with minimal benefits.

And there is one lesson that the students can learn: "Know the difference between 'needs' and 'wants'"  UWO didn't "need" the small amount of electricity generated by the bio-digesters to power their campus--nor was a conference center with a nice fireplace and ample parking "needed" to keep the college running--but a couple of administrators and Foundation executives "wanted" buildings to stand as monuments to their legacies.  Now I hope the kids that have to shell out more money from their pockets to go to UWO pass those buildings and see them as monuments to greed and arrogance.

Another lesson to be learned here is that Dave Ramsey is 100% correct: "Debt is dumb".  As Dave also likes to say, if you can afford to pay cash for a brand new Mercedes-Benz automobile and it doesn't affect your ability to pay for any of the necessities of life--go ahead and pay cash for that car.  The UWO administrators and Foundation executives had ZERO cash for the projects that now face default.  And obviously, they had grossly over-estimated their ability to come up with the revenues to fund loan payments--well, other than illegally transferring money from the school itself to the Foundation. 

So if the decision by UWO officials years ago means some kids will be denied the opportunity to further their education in Oshkosh, at least those non-students will still be learning some valuable lessons that they probably wouldn't have had they actually stepped foot on campus.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Blackboard Jungle

If you were shocked by the accusations made by a now former Green Bay schoolteacher about the abhorrent behavior of kids at Washington Middle School that led all the local newscasts last night, I encourage you to visit a school more often.  If you don't have time to visit a school, you could also request copies of local police call logs and match up the number of times the addresses of public schools are listed in them.  Or you could purchase a police scanner or download the multiple scanner apps on line to listen through your phone and keep track of the calls yourself.

Every day in our listening area there are reports of "student out of control", "students fighting", "student making threats" or "student walked away from the school" requiring law enforcement's attention.  And that doesn't cover the numbers of incidents where teachers break up altercations or are involved in subduing students.

Not all incidents are as extreme as what the Green Bay teacher described: boys grabbing the butts and breasts of female students and staff, boys exposing themselves to girls and staff, simulated sex on lunchroom tables, verbal abuse of staff by students, threats to attack the school and violent outbursts when cellphones are confiscated from students--plus the usual complaints about drug dealing and usage in the school itself.  Did I mention this was at a middle school--where kids are 12-15 years old?

I've mentioned here before that the rigid structure of schooling that those of us over the age of 35 experienced is long gone.  Today's classrooms and study areas are more like places to "hang out"--and teachers try to be students' friends--not lords of discipline.  Add to that the insistence of placing children with serious behavioral and mental issues in mainstream programs and opposition to having uniformed police present in schools because it "triggers certain student populations" and you have the perfect recipe for the inmates running the asylum.

The carefully crafted--and much delayed--response from the Green Bay School District was as weak as you might expect.  Here's what Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld (or more likely the district's attorney) had to say:

In early May, the Board of Education and administration became aware of the growing staff concerns similar to those shared by Ms. Westcott in June. Upon learning of these concerns, the Board of Education and District Administration took the concerns very seriously. In response, the following occurred:
• We held a meeting with staff.
• Mr. Hoh increased his time at Washington to provide daily on-site support.
• Two District office administrators were deployed daily to Washington Middle School until the end of the school year. Additional staff resources were also provided.
• A second meeting was held in June with Associate Superintendent John Magas, Director of Pupil Services Vicki Bayer and myself after Ms. Westcott’s address to the Board. The purpose of this second meeting was to listen to staff concerns following the infusion of the additional resources and to continue to strategize solutions. Staff reported concerns, but also reported improvements in behavior and reinforced their commitment to the students and families of Washington Middle School and to improving the environment at Washington

You see anything in there that says there was a crackdown on unruly behavior and stiff punishment for those offenders?  Were parents called in and confronted with the mis-deeds of the hellions they are sending to the school every day?  Is there a laundry list of expulsion hearings scheduled for the summer?  Nope.  Just meetings and discussions amongst themselves.

I'm not sure what good it would do to actually involve parents in this process anyway.  Children don't just pick up the actions described by the former teacher out of thin air.  Behavior that is tolerated at home becomes the norm when those kids head to school and the mall and wherever else they choose to hang out.  Perhaps the teacher's impassioned plea for help at Washington Middle School should be inserted into the next episode of The Bachelorette--or become the video you have to watch before you can go to the movie and shows you downloaded from Netflix.  Maybe that would get the attention of those that really need to know what is going on in their children's schools.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taking the Bait

Tennis legend John McEnroe finds himself having to defend accurate statements about his sport again today.  McEnroe was on National Public Radio over the weekend to discuss his new memoir and the state of tennis as a whole.  The host of the show asked about Serena Williams--who is currently sidelined with a pregnancy--and McEnroe called her the "Greatest women's player ever"--to which the host wondered why McEnroe had to qualify Williams' status by mentioning her gender.

Now at this point, Johnny Mac has to realize that he is about to be used as a pawn in the host's agenda advancement plan.  His pat answer should be "I'm sorry, I should have said that she is the 'most-accomplished tennis player ever'".  With 23-singles Grand Slam titles, 14-doubles Grand Slam Titles and two mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles, this statement is as factually accurate as his initial comment--but doesn't come across as sounding like "male privilege".

But instead, McEnroe took the bait.  He countered that Serena would be "ranked 700 in the world if she played on the men's tour".  This might be a bit low.  I'm pretty sure Serena could have been in the top 150 in her prime years (she is 35-years old now) but everyone would agree that the career numbers listed before would be zeroes if Williams had played her entire career against men.

Serena herself has admitted this in the past.  Here is her direct quote from 2013 on this matter:

“For me, men’s tennis and women’s tennis are completely, almost, two separate sports,” Williams said. “If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. No, it’s true. It’s a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game. I love to play women’s tennis. I only want to play girls, because I don’t want to be embarrassed.”

The McEnroe controversy now has the national sports shows talking about mixed field tournaments to "prove him right" or to "give women a shot"--but that is just nonsense.  The same goes for a new "battle of the sexes" showdown--similar to the fixed match between 55-year old Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in her prime back in 1973 that is somehow believed to have "advanced women's rights". 

Just walk away, guys.  This fight just isn't worth it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

No Message

The relationship between the Trump Administration and the media reached a ridiculous new low last week when TV cameras were banned from the daily White House briefing.  CNN actually brought in a sketch artist to capture Press Secretary Sean Spicer's image during the conference--like it was some Federal court hearing or a Renaissance-era drawing of a king and his court.  Apparently, President Trump is adopting the attitude that if it didn't happen on TV, you can't prove it happened at all.

The camera ban and limited media availability for the President himself is part of a plan to "control the message".  Trump believes that important Presidential statements can made through Twitter posts--his personal one, not the @POTUS government account--where follow up is impossible--and anything proven to be factually incorrect or considered inappropriate can just be deleted (although a billion people will have screen shots of it).

Of course, when the message is as wildly inconsistent as it has been during this administration, the format of its release really doesn't matter.  How many times has the President sent out his Cabinet members, press folks or other subordinates to provide some talking points to the press only to have Trump himself completely contradict them in a speech, a tweet or an interview with Fox News? 

And the President is doing an excellent job of contradicting himself on an almost daily basis.  The best example of that so far has been his claim that there might be tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, only to deny that he has ever recorded anything in the Oval Office.  The President can't blame the media for "misquoting" him or "taking statements out of context" as Trump was pretty clear in what he said both times.

Perhaps President Trump should be brushing up on the history of his office--and pay particularly close attention to the term of Calvin Coolidge.  Coolidge was known as "Silent Cal" for the few things he had to say about anything even while in the Oval Office.  the most famous example of that was when he was seated next to a woman at a state dinner and she wanted to make a bet that she could get him to say more than three words.  His reply: "You lose". 

Friday, June 23, 2017

An Unwelcome Addition

The WIAA Board of Control has decided to add a shot clock to high school basketball in Wisconsin starting in 2019.  As an official, a broadcaster and a fan of high school hoops, I am vehemently opposed to this measure.

From the standpoint of an official, this is one more thing that can lead to errors and controversy in a game.  Timing issues are the biggest headache that we deal with in high school games right now.  Scoring table personnel failing to start the clock properly or not stopping it quickly enough is common.  Now another timer will be added to the table to run the shot clock--and that person will have to make dozens of split-second decisions every game, determining if a shot struck the rim and resetting the clock.  And, that is more buzzer-beaters that those of us on the floor need call.  Remember, we don't have the advantage of instant replay like college hoops or the NBA to review if a shot was off a shooter's fingertips as the shot clock expired or if a ball may have just nicked the rim to cause a reset.

From the standpoint of a broadcaster, the shot clock negates the opportunity for a team with lesser talent to limit possessions in a game.  That means fewer competitive contests and not as many upsets.  Plus, delays to determine if the shot clock was reset properly--or malfunctions of the shot clock--make for a very choppy broadcast.

And finally as a fan, I don't see the need for a shot clock at the high school level.  Stalling is not that big a problem anymore.  And if a team decides to hold the ball, then its opponent should come out and defend them in the entire half-court.  There is a five-second closely-guarded rule, make the other team run some semblance of an offense--or don't complain about a stall.  Add to that the increase in the number of rushed shots just to beat a made up deadline and you get even less offensive efficiency in a game where "work the ball until you get a good shot" has been replaced with "take the first open three you can get".

One other element to consider is that this adds more expense to the operation of high school sports.  Football has a play clock, but schools are not required to have it displayed on the field.  The Back Judge keeps the time, and uses arm motions to alert the offense when it has five seconds left to snap the ball.  In basketball, the shot clock will have in sight of the players.  That means the purchase of two more electronic displays and a system to run them.  Plus, not all basket supports are standardized in high school--meaning those clocks may not all fit above the backboard.  Do they go on the wall?  On the floor behind the end line?  Next to the main scoreboards?

Adding a shot clock to high school basketball is a solution in search of a problem--and it creates more problems than it could ever hope to fix.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Maintaining Separation

I wasn't able to tune into much news yesterday so I missed the excuses Democrats had for losing another special election for Congress.  Was it Russian hacking that cost Jon Ossoff the race in the sixth district?  Or was it gerrymandering this time?  Was voter ID requirements the reason so few Democratic voters turned out?  Did the county clerks refuse to hold early voting office hours on Sundays?  I bet the FBI director said something suspicious about Ossoff a week before the election and that swung public sentiment against him.

The sixth congressional race was the latest in a series of "referenda on Donald Trump" that Democrats swore was going to prove that the nation had turned against Republicans--and that a "wave election" is coming in 2018--where they would retake control of Congress.  And yet, in four special elections to fill seats vacated by Trump administration appointees, Republicans won them all.

Granted, the margins of victory in some of them were smaller than those seen by the President in those same districts just last fall.  But in Georgia, Trump won the district by a scant one-percentage point.  Karen Handel--who had lost a number of statewide races in the past--tripled that margin in her win Tuesday.  That proved Republicans dis-satisfied with their choice for President in 2016 still are not willing to jump ship to a Democrat in any other race.

And that is the delicate balancing act that Republicans at all levels of politics have to continue to maintain for the next three-and-a-half years.  How to stay true to the party's core values--while the tweeting madman in the White House tries to carry the banner for the same party while veering from one extreme to the next.  So far, voters are seeing that effort being made.

The Ossoff loss also points to Democrats' biggest internal challenge to winning back control on some level of government.  Party members' decision to concentrate themselves in urban areas leaves them with few viable candidates to compete in other districts.  Jon Ossoff didn't even live in the sixth district before running for that seat.  He couldn't vote for himself in the "jungle primary" back in April.  Add to that the fact that he is only 30-years old and you can see why voters may have questioned his qualifications for Congress.

The catchphrase for protesters taking part in anti-Trump rallies, protests blocking speakers on college campuses, demanding justice in police-related shootings and at campaign stops for the Democratic challengers in the four special elections so far this year has been "This is what democracy looks like".  But when it comes to winning elections--the actual "democracy" part of democracy--the Democrats still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bro Country USA

Country USA kicks off in Oshkosh today.  There will be no shortage of cowboy boots, inappropriately short jean shorts, cowboy hats, backwards trucker hats, beer, Confederate flag images, giant mugs filled with double-strength mixed drinks and, of course, mud.  But one thing that will be in very short supply is female artists.

A cursory look at the lineup for the five nights of Country USA shows just three female acts for the entire week--and they are all early in the lineup on those night.  There are no female headliners.  It is clear that "Bro Country" is the theme at Ford Festival Park this year.  And with that comes a certain "culture" as well.

Listeners will sometimes ask me around this time why every song we play as a lead-in to our stories about country music concerts in the area are about drinking.  The answer to that is quite simple: that's what almost all "Bro Country" songs are about.  A check of the music database from our country sister station shows a litany of titles involving beer, cold ones, party, whiskey, drinkin' and moonshine.  I guess I could go for a change of pace and select from the songs about pickup trucks or sexy women.

Which brings us back to the testosterone-soaked lineup at Country USA.  It looks like there isn't much of a market anymore for the female perspective in country music.  Who wants to hear songs about heartbreak when you are 10-beers into the night and you are trying to hook up with the cutie in the bikini top, Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots? 

The State Patrol has certainly noticed what is on-tap for this year.  They will have extra troopers around the grounds looking for underage drinking and drunk driving.  I bet they are plenty busy the next five nights.

And let's also take a look at the difference between the Billy Joel concert last weekend at Lambeau Field and the country concerts that preceded it.  Just three people were ejected from the stadium last Saturday--and no one was arrested.  The Kenny Chesney-Jason Aldean concert two years earlier resulted in 25-arrests and more than 300-ejections (police were so overwhelmed they stopped counting)--not to mention national attention to the rowdy behavior at the show and damage to the football field.

For decades country music marketed itself as the "wholesome alternative" to hip hop, pop and hard rock.  But it appears that is out the window--and the "Bros" are just getting this party started.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Not Big Enough

In the lead up to the 117th US Open at Erin Hills the key word was "big".  It's a big course with big fairways, big greens, big bunkers, big crowds, big wind, big fescue areas, etc, etc.  Only the big hitters would have a chance there.  The scores would be big and it would be a big hit in the end.  But as it turned out, Erin Hills wasn't big enough.

Outside of the ropes, the US Open at Erin Hills was good.  The blimp crash wasn't the fault of anyone associated with the tournament.  The E Coli contaminated water was replaced quickly and there were no reports of any outbreak of stomach ailments.  The death of a spectator actually turned out to be quite a heartwarming story.  Transporting fans from parking lots 20-minutes away went well and the sheer size of the property kept crowding on most holes to a minimum.  The few complaints I heard were about concession stands running out of popular food items and fans being kept farther away from the action due to the width of the fairways and hazards.

But ultimately, the "success" of a tournament lies in what happens inside the ropes--and unfortunately this weekend was more Greater Milwaukee Open than US Open.  In the space of four days, we saw new tournament records for lowest first round score, lowest score in any round, lowest winning score relative to par, the most players double digits under par and the most players overall under par for a US Open.  The players proved that you could have the longest course in the history of the event--but if you give them a country mile in which to land their drives, they are still going to eat the place up.

There were factors in play that the USGA could not control.  The winds didn't blow nearly hard enough to affect play until Sunday--and even then, winner Brooks Keopka shot five-under.  Rain throughout the week made the greens soft--allowing players to shoot right at the pins and get their balls to stick--instead of bouncing and rolling through like they do in most US Opens.  And we realized an unfortunate reality, there is no such thing as a course long enough to challenge today's players anymore.  The second longest hole in US Open history--the 672-yard par 5 18th--was the easiest hole in terms of scoring average on Sunday. 

Many of the biggest names in golf--including the great Jack Nicklaus--had expressed their displeasure with the USGA bringing the Open to a new, wide-open course like Erin Hills.  They predicted scores that would be too low and just not enough of a challenge for modern Tour players.  And in the end, those critics were proven right.  Hopefully the fans enjoyed seeing this Open, because I doubt it will be coming back.

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Weird Day

Any time you put on a large event, things that you couldn't possibly anticipate will come up.  But I'm guessing the organizers of the US Open at Erin Hills could not have imagined a weirder first day of competition.

Needless to say, none of us who went to the golf course Thursday expected to end up covering a blimp crash.  When you consider the glacial pace at which a blimp moves, it's hard to imagine a crash is even possible.  I had actually driven under the PenFed blimp on my way into the media parking lot around 11:00 yesterday.  So when my friend Joe texted me in the Media Center 15-minutes later saying everyone had seen the thing fall out of the sky and explode--I thought he was joking.

It was humorous watching the camera guys that were all set up to interview Mequon native Jordan Niebrugge break down their gear and try to figure out how they were going to get back outside the course, find the site of the crash and get footage back to their stations.  And sports guys who thought they were going to be able to kick back and watch a little golf were suddenly pressed into emergency news duty.

So once all of the hubbub about the blimp died down, we found out that there is E Coli in the drinking water at Erin Hills.  The USGA thought that it would go "green" at the US Open and allow people to bring in empty water bottles--and then fill them at free "hydration stations".  Considering how hot it will be this week--and that there is absolutely no shade at Erin Hills, this was almost a humanitarian gesture too.

But testing on the water coming from a well hooked up to one of the stations showed E Coli contamination.  Unfortunately for attendees, they had been drinking from that station since Tuesday.  Now we have to hope that there isn't an outbreak of stomach ailments among those that went to the practice rounds this week.  The USGA is going to hand out free bottled water for the rest of the tournament--but I'd recommend you just drink beer out there--just to be safe.

I'm heading back down to the Open today--hopefully I only have to talk about golf afterwards.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When the "Victims" Strike Back

A lot of terms were used to describe the man that opened fire on Republicans members of Congress at their baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday.  "Bernie Sanders supporter", "left wing extremist", "disturbed", and "troubled" were the most common used by those investigating the matter, those who were among the targets and those who know the man.  But I bet that if you asked that guy before he opened fire on that baseball field--and before he was killed by heroic Capitol Police at the scene--he would have told you that he was "a victim".

I'm sure that the shooter was absolutely convinced that his lot in life--unemployed, living out of his van--was the fault of a "system rigged against him".  He had likely heard for years that everything that he didn't have was "stolen from him" by corporations and the rich.  His life would be so much better if the "1% were paying their fair share" and if "corporate loopholes were closed".  It was just a matter of time really, that this man would get fed up with this "oppression" and strike back at those whom had been blamed for creating and maintaining this "unjust system".

But the Congressional baseball shooter is not alone in his victimhood.  I'm sure the UPS driver that opened fire on his co-workers in San Francisco not long after the Virginia incident was a "victim" of some corporate structure that was making him work too hard, for too little pay and to "never get ahead".  And the guy that stabbed the two people to death on the Portland commuter train last month was a "victim" of some "government effort to flood the country with Muslim refugees to establish Sharia Law on white people".  Heck, we can even go back all the way to Columbine, where the school shooters were "victims of bullying and ostracization". 

You can't create a culture of "victimhood" and then be shocked when people take up arms "against their oppressor".  In the wake of yesterday's shootings, everybody on Capitol Hill was saying that "it was time to tone down the political rhetoric".  But honestly, how long do you think it will be before both they and the rest of us begin to point fingers again toward "the rich", "those foreigners", "that corporation", "male privilege", "the other kids" and "the Government" for our problems?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Less Than Compelling

Usually us curmudgeons like to go on and on about how sports, music and movies were better in "our day".  I think that you can add Congressional hearings to that list as well.  That's what I was thinking during both the James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions testimony the last couple of weeks.  While the "regular" networks dumped out of their daytime programming, it proved to be anything but "must see TV".

That's a far cry from the tension of hearings that really did captivate the nation in the past.  Anita Hill's testimony about Clarence Thomas sexually harassing her before he was appointed to the Supreme Court became a national obsession (and spawned a thousand late night jokes about cans of Coca-Cola).  And the eventual denials of those claims by Thomas himself--sweating under the spotlights--was better than any courtroom drama the networks have come up with yet.

Oliver North exploded onto the national scene with his testimony about setting up the transfer of money from the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to help the Contras in Nicaragua--in direct violation of the laws passed by Congress.  Those hearings also showed the President Reagan had very little oversight of members of his administration--but never produced a "smoking gun" connecting his to any orders to set up the arrangement/

Who can forget the McCarthy Army hearings of 1954--which helped establish television as the new source for "breaking news coverage"--as the Wisconsin Senator called in hundreds of high-ranking officials and questioned their loyalty to country and freedom before the cameras.  Of course, his thirst for power exceeded his grasp and he was eventually destroyed on live TV with Joseph Welch's famous line "Have you left no sense of decency?"--a phrase that beats "Lordy, I hope there are tapes" any day.

And speaking of tapes, you also had the Watergate hearings.  This will forever be the high point of Congressional investigations both in terms of impact on the Government--as well as the unbelievable bombshells that came out of them.  None was bigger than Alexander Butterfield testifying that there was a secret voice-recording system in the Oval Office.  That led to reporters literally running out of the chambers to get to the payphones to file a story with their editors.  It also led to the subpoena of those tapes--a legal fight that went all the way to the US Supreme Court and the mysterious 18-and a half minute gap in the tapes where President Nixon was giving the clear go ahead to instigate a coverup of the Watergate break in,

Now THOSE were Congressional hearings worth pre-empting General Hospitel.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Un-settling the Science

While James Comey was sucking up all the oxygen in the room, there was a pretty major science announcement last week.  It turns out that the human species might be much older than we originally thought.  Fossils found in Morocco place our earliest ancestors on the planet as far back as 350-thousand years ago.  Until now, the accepted time period for our evolutionary arrival was about 195-thousand years--in a different part of Africa.

What was neat about the announcement is that it was not immediately shot down by everyone else in the scientific community.  I didn't see a single anthropologist say "the science on our evolution is settled--we are 195-thousand years old and anyone that tries to challenge that is an 'evolutionary denier'".  CNN didn't convene a panel of scientists and "Bill Nye the Science Guy" to discredit the new findings.

Of course, there really isn't a lot of money riding on determining the age of the human species.  The guy who found the fossils and developed the theory won't be getting a Nobel Prize.  He probably won't be making a documentary that will win an Oscar.  Nations with plenty to gain won't be able to use the findings to weaken the economies of larger countries.  There are few investors that stand to make billions from industries related to an older human race.  And no one will be rushing to change textbooks to make sure that children have it drummed into their minds repeatedly that our species is older than we thought it was before last week.

Instead, there will be careful peer review of the findings--and if the facts point to that conclusion--everyone will say 'we were wrong about the age of our species" and accept the new data.  No politics, no profits.  It's a novel approach many like to call the "Scientific Method". 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Open Week

Welcome to US Open week here in Wisconsin.  Many of you will be venturing down to Erin (or Hartford or Richfield--I've seen all three used to describe the location of the course in stories) for practice rounds the next three days--or for the competitive rounds Thursday through Sunday (and possibly Monday--more on that later).  Here are a few tips for those of you not familiar with the course or the tournament.

Don't expect to park anywhere close to the golf course.  Only a couple of two lane, rural roads lead to Erin Hills--and authorities didn't want them choked with traffic for seven straight days.  Therefore, general parking will be located in two spots north and south of the course--and you will get to relive your childhood by riding a shuttle bus about a half-hour back and forth.  It might be a good idea to bring everything you think you might need with you on that first trip--rather than thinking you can just "run back the car real quick".

Don't expect to see Phil Mickelson playing.  Phil needs just a US Open win to complete the career Grand Slam.  But his participation is questionable as his daughter's high school graduation is Thursday in Carlsbad, California and she is giving the commencement speech.  I saw Phil talking on CBS yesterday that he needs a four hour rain delay on Thursday to make his tee time--which is currently scheduled for 3:30 that afternoon.  Phil has the money, maybe he should invest in a time machine if he thinks he could still make it.  Oh, and no--Tiger Woods will not be here either this week.

Don't go to the hill inside the dogleg on hole 8.  That is where I want to station myself for most of the day.  It's the highest point on the golf course and we counted eight different holes you could see clearly from there.  Don't go under the tree to the left of 15 either.  It's the only spot of shade on the golf course and that hole might be played short enough to be driveable one of the days--so I'd like to station myself there as well.

Don't expect to see great scores.  The USGA says every year that they don't care if someone goes low in the US Open.  But then they make every effort to ensure that the golf is more like a death march that a stroll in the park.  The fairways at Erin Hills are 50% wider than average US Open fairways.  Nothing was done to narrow them from what the public has played for years.  But miss the fairway by five yards in either direction and you will have to play from the nastiest fescue rough I have ever seen in my life.  I could advance the ball only ten yards in that stuff when I played there a couple of weeks ago--and it's entirely possible we could see some of the pros completely whiff trying to just punch out.

Don't expect to see a winner crowned on Sunday.  The US Open has never gone more than nine years without requiring a playoff to decide a winner.  It has been nine years since the last US Open playoff.  Because the Open has the best tiebreaker in golf--a full 18-holes on the following Monday, those without weeklong passes may end up watching things wrap up on TV a week from today.

And finally, don't expect to play Erin Hills any time soon after the tournament.  My caddie last month told me that they have already booked 2000 more tee times for this year than they did all of last year--and the course wasn't even open for public play before the Open.  There will likely be groups hustling to finish their rounds before dark every day out there the rest of the year.  Oh, and the price is going up another 75-dollars for a round now that it is a "former US Open Host".

It's going to be hot.  It's going to be windy.  It's going to be expensive.  But it should be fun this week at Erin Hills.