Friday, December 15, 2017

The Best Gifts

Will today's kids remember Christmas the way so many of us older folks do?  I'm often accused of being a Scrooge at this time of year because I do not get into the "holiday spirit" in any way.  I'm disgusted by some of our stations going to Christmas music right after Halloween.  I don't put up decorations in the News Room.  I don't do "ugly sweater day" or "secret Santa" or "Christmas cookie exchange".  I like my "holiday season" to last about two weeks--and then we can start looking forward to something I enjoy: warmer weather and being outside without having to bundle up like I'm going on a polar expedition.

But back to Christmas gifts.  No doubt, you have a special gift or two that to this day your remember receiving as a child.  Not because it was the coolest toy that year or that it was super expensive or that getting a gift was pretty much the only expression of love in your family.  I'm talking about a gift that produced special memories or experiences for you.  For me, that gift was a basketball hoop when I was 8 or 9 years old.

In a lesson of delayed gratification, the hoop didn't go up until the spring, when my dad could dig a hole for the post and the driveway wasn't covered in snow.  But once it went up, it allowed me to play ball with my dad and my friends and even my younger sister.  And I still play basketball today--with many of the friends that I have made since coming here to Oshkosh more than 17-years ago. 

I can also tell you my all-time favorite birthday gift: tickets to the Milwaukee Brewers-Cleveland Indians game at County Stadium on July 31st, 1982.  We went with my grandparents.  My sister got a foul ball--something the entire family reminds me of every time I talk about going to a Brewers game.  It was the NBC Saturday Afternoon Game of the Week.  Mike Caldwell started.  Rollie Fingers got the save.  And with the win, the Brewers moved into first place in the American League East--on their way to the AL pennant and the World Series.  Not a bad expierence for a ten-year old kid.

And that is why I wonder if kids today are going to have those kinds of memories when they think back on Christmas decades from now.  Will they talk about how many zombies they killed Christmas Day of 2017 when they got the hot new X-Box game?  Will they even remember the smart-phone case, the pair of fashion sneakers or the Spiderman action figures that will just join the ever-growing pile of toys in their rooms?  Maybe I'll get more into the "spirit of Christmas" if we would get back to giving gifts that mean something--and not just "stuff" somebody wanted for a week or two.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who Will Be Fred Fisher?

For all of you history buffs, why is Fred Fisher a significant figure in American history?  For all intents and purposes, Fisher was the last person Senator Joe McCarthy accused of being a communist.  During the infamous McCarthy-Army hearings in June of 1954, the Wisconsin Senator got into an argument with Army counsel Joseph Welch.  In an effort to discredit Welch, McCarthy claimed that he had communists in his own law firm--naming Fred Fisher by name.  That led to this famous response from Welch:



The McCarthy Hearings were among the first live government proceedings broadcast on national television--and for several weeks they got huge ratings.  But slowly, people came to doubt all of the accusations that McCarthy and his legal counsel Roy Cohn were throwing around.  The man whose mere mention of your name as a suspected commie could get you fired or blacklisted was exposed as merely being an opportunist, with little evidence to back up his accusations.  Following his dressing down by Welch in defense of Fred Fisher, nearly all public support for McCarthy withered away--and he was left a broken man.  He was censured by the Senate and died--likely from the side-effects of alcoholism--a couple of years later.

I have to wonder, who is going to be the Fred Fisher of the current sexual misconduct craze gripping the nation?  Who will be the person accused that makes America say "Ok, that's enough.  We don't want to hear anymore accusations.  We don't want more people's lives ruined"?

Ninety-three year old former President George Bush wasn't that person.  I thought for sure Senator Al Franken was going to be that person.  He didn't quite go full Joseph Welch, but his resignation speech on the floor of the Senate certainly contained plenty of defiance.  New Yorker Magazine reporter Ryan Lizza was even more aggressive in his denial of allegations against him--but he was fired anyway.

McCarthyism lasted about four years.  But that was in a time before the 24-7 news media cycle that inundates us with information--and commentary--on what is happening constantly.  I expect our current effort to "root out the menace" won't last nearly that long.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A New Hope

A big congratulations to members of the real Republican Party as they celebrate the loss of the hijacked Republican Party candidate in yesterday's special Senate election in Alabama.  The contemptible Roy Moore loses a seat that had been held by the GOP for 25-years.

When faced with a decision between two bad options on the ballot, many real GOP members either stayed home--or wrote in a name of a candidate that would actually stand for their beliefs.  (Or knowing Alabama--they likely just put in Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban on their ballot).  The national political experts likely won't do any "deep diving" on the results of Tuesdays election--because a Democrat won--but if they did, they will likely find that Doug Jones' support was marginally higher than the average Democrat in Alabama.  Roy Moore lost because many Republicans simply didn't vote.

The real reason for celebration for those in the real GOP is that voters have rejected a candidate backed by the repugnant Steve Bannon.  The so-called "political strategist" turned an election that Republicans with Jeff Sessions on the ballot won with a 92-percent majority just a couple of years ago into a 1.5% loss last night--even with the backing of his other puppet candidate: President Donald Trump.  Coming into this special election, Bannon had been talking big about challenging the "Republican Establishment" with primary opponents in races across the country next year.  That would have pitted real Republicans against crazy, fringe candidates that would waste resources and force the party to continually confront the dark elements that we thought had been banished to irrelevancy centuries ago.

I'm sure Bannon and Trump will rail against "the media" for destroying the character of Roy Moore (if that was even possible) but deep down they have to know that their victory in 2016 was a fluke--the perfect combination of over-the-top free media exposure early in a crowded GOP primary field, the worst possible Democratic candidate on the other side of the ticket and a general populace disgusted by the two choices they were presented--and that the tide within the Republican Party is turning against them in a big way.

It's fitting that the new Star Wars movie comes out the same week that Bannon, Trump and Moore go down to defeat--as there is now a  New Hope for a  return to normalcy in the real Republican Party.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Savior Is Coming!

It is apropros that Aaron Rodgers may return as starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers during this holiday season--as many fans believe their savior is about to arrive.  There is this general idea that Rodgers is going to come back from an eight-week layoff and immediately resume playing at a Hall of Fame level.  Despite not working with the receiving corps for two months, timing routes will somehow still be perfect and throws into tight coverage will be pinpoint accurate.  No one seems to have any doubt that an offensive line that has heard a completely different cadence since October will not jump when Aaron uses his "319...319...HUTHUT!!" that usually draws the defense offsides anytime the Packers face a 3rd and less than five situation or that he will immediately recognize the defense is trying to get a substitute on and he will go hurry-up and snap the ball when the guy coming out is just a step from the sidelines.  Or that the deep balls thrown into perfect coverage will be called pass interference again.

Many point to Rodgers' return from his last broken collarbone injury in 2013 when he beat the Bears in Week 17 to win the NFC North and get the Packers into the playoffs--where they lost in the Wild Card Round against San Francisco AT LAMBEAU the next week.  But in that case, Aaron was returning from an injury to his NON-throwing shoulder and, well, the Bears are the Bears.  This year's playoff rally will require winning three games--two of those on the road--against teams already ahead of them in the playoff chase.

Adding to the false hope for Packers fans is the sudden change that took place in the NFC Playoff picture over the weekend.  With Philadelphia losing their quarterback--Carson Wentz--to a season-ending knee injury, the conference now appears to be wide open.  The LA Rams are young and haven't been in the playoffs for years.  New Orleans defense is still suspect, Atlanta is still on the Super Bowl Hangover, Seattle's offensive line is awful and Minnesota and Detroit are going to choke because that is what they do in the playoffs.  So to a person, Packers fans are all like "If we can just get in, we can win this!!"

I would argue that Brett Hundley doing "just enough" (in other words--barely beating three last-place teams) to keep the Packers playoff hopes alive was a dis-service to Aaron Rodgers.  If he somehow comes back at a high enough level to beat three good teams with an offense that was completely inept without him, it will make everyone--including those in the front office--think "Oh man, if Aaron just didn't get hurt, this would have been a Super Bowl team for sure"--and much-needed off-season moves--both in terms of personnel, coaching staff and in the front office--will not be made.  Not to mention the better they might do in the playoffs this year, the worse their draft position will be next spring--reducing the chances of getting an impact player in the first round for a change.

So continue to light the candles on your "Aaron Rodgers comeback Advent wreath" for this is the season of miracles--and false hope too.

Monday, December 11, 2017

When You Can't Afford Any Mistakes

About a week ago I lauded the national news outlets that had done great work in uncovering the actions of the real "fake media" and efforts to undermine the credibility of traditional journalism.  Then last week, many of those same outlets turned around and had very bad weeks--publishing a number of inaccurate stories about the Trump administration providing ample ammunition for the President and his acolytes to turn the people against those trying to report the truth.

First, Brian Ross of ABC News reported incorrectly that Michael Flynn's plea deal with Federal prosecutors contained an admission that he was ordered by Trump to contact the Russians before the election--when in fact that order came after the President won the election.  Then CNN, MSNBC and CBS all aired stories that the Trump campaign was sent links to the Wikileaks information about hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee before they were published.  Somehow, the "sources" for all three of those networks "misread the date" on that email--which was sent the day after Wikileaks posted the emails--and the links were to materials that had already been published for public consumption.  That was followed by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel tweeting a photo of a nearly empty arena and claiming that was turnout for President Trump's speech in Florida on Saturday night--when in fact the picture had been taken hours before the President arrived.

Obviously, news outlets are going to make mistakes--because they are staffed by human beings.  But the stakes at this point in time are so high that there is absolutely no margin for error--and reporters and editors need to be not just 100-percent sure on their stories--but 1000%--because for a growing number of Americans, one item wrong out of a thousand is looking more like a 100% error rate.

I think too many reporters covering the White House right now are looking for the "grand slam story" that somehow takes down the entire administration--when smaller, completely verified and accurate stories--"opposite field singles" if you will--are more in order.  Let's not forget, it wasn't the Watergate break-in stories from Woodward and Bernstein that exposed corruption in the Nixon administration, they just set the table for the Congressional hearings that revealed the actual Oval Office coverup.

And speaking of Woodward and Bernstein, they made some pretty serious reporting mistakes as well.  In October of 1973, they erroneously identified three men as having received information obtained by wiretapping the Democratic National Committee offices at Watergate.  And just a couple of weeks later, they misattributed information that tied White House Chief of Staff Bob Haldemann to the slush fund that paid the Watergate burglars.  Mind you, their information was correct--Haldemann authorized the payments--but because they wrote that Hugh Sloan told that to the grand jury, rather than he knew about it but was never asked about it in court--they provided the White House with a way to discredit all of their reporting up to that point.

These are dangerous times for reporters in Washington.  The truth is out there--and they will likely find it eventually.  But will anyone be willing to believe it when they do?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Pay Your Bills First

It's too late, but I would still like to nominate University of Mount Union Football Coach Vince Kehres for 2017 Sportsman of the Year.  Kehres likely saved UW-Oshkosh from some major embarrassment by signing off on tomorrow's Division III Football National Semi-Final game being played at Titan Stadium instead of in Ohio. 

When it was announced that UWO was hosting the game, reporters that follow D-III football more closely than me were surprised--as Mount Union had a better record and a higher national ranking than the Titans.  But a Federal Bankruptcy Court hearing this week revealed that UWO getting the home game had more to do with economics than strength of schedule.  You see, there was a very real possibility that UWO wouldn't be able to pay for a road trip. 

The Athletic Department doesn't budget for post-season travel (which when you are one of the top programs in D-III football seems very short-sited)--relying instead on funding from the Foundation to cover that cost.  But when the Foundation went into bankruptcy earlier this year, that required the judge overseeing their case to approve that expense--and there was no guarantee that was going to happen.  UWO likely told the NCAA that having to hit the road before the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl may result in a forfeit--which would be incredibly embarrassing.  That's when Mount Union likely agreed to hit the road instead of hosting the semi-final game.

But should have UWO been made to face that embarrassment?  Let's not forget that the Foundation is in bankruptcy due to irresponsible actions of not only its former directors, but former Chancellor Richard Wells in racking up debt that it could not possibly hope to repay.  And when inappropriate transfers from the school itself to the Foundation dried up after Wells split town, the gig was up.  So why should the creditors who are legitimately owed millions of dollars be made to wait longer for payment so a football team can play a game?

I don't fault Bank First National for trying to block this spending in the bankruptcy court.  This is no different than the family that is in foreclosure on their house taking the kids to Disney World for a week.  We always like to say that playing sports in school is about "learning important life lessons"--and "pay your bills first" is certainly an important lesson to know.  Who knows, today's backup offensive lineman may be a future Foundation Director--and he will know first-hand the effects living beyond your means can have.

It may not be "patriotic" but I shall be rooting for Mount Union to win on Saturday and move on to the Stagg Bowl so that the UW-Oshkosh Foundation can do what is actually right and pay that $100-thousand dollars to the people it is owed.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Sacrificial Lamb

I must admit, I actually feel sorry for Senator Al Franken today.  The Minnesota Democrat is expected to resign in the wake of accusations that he had physical contact with women that they didn't appreciate before he was elected to the Senate.  Yesterday, every Demoratic female Senator turned against Franken--demanding that he quit--even though he is not charged with any crimes, never paid off anyone to remain quiet and isn't even facing any civil lawsuits.

Al Franken is an unfortunate pawn that is being sacrificed by the Democratic Party for future strategic advantage.  By forcing out Franken right now, Dems can claim the "moral high ground" should Roy Moore--with his accusations of pedophilia coming along as baggage--win the Alabama Senate special election next week.  Liberals at every level will be able to point to Franken's resignation and say "See, a Democrat facing the flimsiest of unsubstantiated claims stepped down without any due process and Republicans should demand that Roy Moore do the same!"  And should Moore lose next week, Democrats can hang on to the Franken chip to use when the next GOP Senator or Congressman is inevitably accused of harassment--no matter how old or dubious the claim.

You can bet that the "forced retirement" of Michigan Congressman John Conyers has a lot to do with the pressure being applied to Senator Franken.  Members of the Congressional Black Caucus could not have been happy that one their own was getting pushed out--while a white colleague may have been allowed to skate.  Nevermind that the alleged incidents involving Conyers took place while he was in office (literally in his Congressional office) and that taxpayer money was used to pay off the alleged victims.  Perhaps Senator Franken can take some solace in knowing that his ouster will be seen as a victory for social justice.

One final thing to consider is that Democrats have to feel pretty confident that they can win a special election to fill Franken's seat.  His term runs through 2020, so obviously it won't be allowed to sit empty for two years--although I doubt he will try to hand-pick his successor like Congressman Conyers is by endorsing his son to take his place.  The Democratic Farm Labor party is probably already lining up safe, female candidates to square off for Franken's seat in order to ensure that this doesn't happen again while everyone cares about this issue. 

While they call for his resignation publicly, members of Al Franken's party are likely thanking him in private for "taking one for the team".

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Safety Starts With You

The next time someone from the NFL Players Association claims they are "concerned about the health and safety of their members", I hope Mike McCarthy appears out of nowhere to throw the red "CHALLENGE" flag.  We can then go to the replays from just a couple of games this past weekend to show that NFL players have little to no regard for their own safety or that of their fellow competitors.

In Buffalo, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski--frustrated by being held on a play that resulted in an interception--jumped on and drove his forearm into the back of the neck of a Bills player that was lying face-down on the field long after the play had been blown dead.  Meanwhile, everyone agrees that the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game on Monday night was the "most violent" that anyone can remember. 

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier--using poor tackling form--suffered a serious spinal injury when he went in head-down and collided with a receiver while trying to break up a pass.  Shazier laid on the field for several minutes unable to move his legs.  That was followed by not one but two head shots by Bengals defensive backs on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown--one on a play when the pass was clearly uncatchable and the other following a touchdown reception.  Steelers receiver JuJu Schuster-Smith was also called for an illegal "crack-back" block on Bengals linebacker Vontez Burfict--himself a multiple-time offender of the league's policies on illegal hits--that knocked out Burfict and required him to be carried off the field (although, I will contend that was a completely legal play, as Schuster-Smith led with the shoulder and did not strike Burfict in the head).  Schuster-Smith then stood over the motionless Burfict and taunted him.

I know that football is a high-speed, physical game with players having to make split-second reactions and decisions that affect the outcome of every play.  But the incidents listed above--save for the Shazier injury play--were all pre-meditated acts that fell outside the realm of regular play and took place strictly because one player was intentionally trying to inflict damage on another player.  And Shazier hurt himself by using poor tackling technique--which is also avoidable.  While us long-time NFL fans bemoan the league's efforts to "wussify" the game in the name of "player safety" by penalizing plays like those involving JuJu Schuster-Smith that for 80-years were good, hard-nosed blocks--the players themselves have to take it upon themselves to actually treat each other with respect on the field.

When the NFLPA tries to sue the League (provided it is still the cash-cow, tackle football operation that it currently is) on behalf of this generation of players claiming they weren't "properly informed of the risks of playing football to their long-term health" I hope that the NFL's lawyers can secure last week's "highlights" from ESPN (if that still exists 25-years from now as a network that actually shows sports programming) to prove that the players themselves didn't give a rat's behind about their own safety.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Wanna Bet?

Imagine being a state lawmaker and ten of thousands of your constituents called you up demanding to be allowed to pay a new tax.  And amazingly, the people who are opposed to this new tax are the ones that would never end up paying it anyway.  Plus, this new tax would allow the government access to anywhere between 80 and 400-BILLION dollars worth of commerce.

Well that is an opportunity that may be coming to state lawmakers not only here in Wisconsin--but across the US--as the Supreme Court decides if a federal ban on sports betting is constitutional.  New Jersey is leading the legal fight against the ban so it's struggling Atlantic City casinos could cash in on gambling on games--but every other state could allow it as well then, and tap into this new source of revenue.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is in favor of granting states the right to have sports betting.  He is the one that estimates the illegal gambling activity to be 400-billion--but since it is currently unregulated, it puts his sport in jeopardy.  Remember, the NBA had to deal with the Tim Donaghy scandal, as a now-former referee admitted to influencing games he worked to help his own betting and that of others.  Silver believes that if casinos and state regulators can monitor gambling activity on games, patterns indicating a fix that were later found in Donaghy's case would be spotted much earlier.

Sports gambling is part of the culture in many other countries.  You can go to a British Premier League soccer game and bet right at the stadium.  While betting parlors are not on site at Wimbledon and British Open golf courses, they are just steps away from the gates--and a great many fans put down a quid or two before heading in.  We likely wouldn't see anything like that here in the US--but on-line betting would almost certainly be huge here.

If presented with the opportunity to legalize sports betting in Wisconsin, you can expect many legislators will pontificate about the "message it sends to kids", how "gambling ruins families" and their unfounded fears that somehow Packers players making millions of dollars are going to throw games on behalf of gamblers that can't offer them a tenth of that.  But while they may fret publicly about allowing yet another vice into our society, they can't help but picture the millions of dollars exchanging hands at the betting window that they would be able to tap into.

It's no different than the states that have allowed recreational use of marijuana--and its legal sale to the public.  Many called it "social justice" (because fewer African-American dealers would get locked up) or "medically necessary" (because people should be allowed to self-medicate based on the amazing claims that pot cures all ills with no side-effects).  But at the root of it all was the desire to bring in more tax dollars.  Especially when the dopes are already begging to pay it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Those Tricky Millenials

So the state is going to spend seven million dollars in a marketing effort to attract more millenials to Wisconsin bolster the workforce.  With our older population, we just don't have enough "youngins" running around here to take over positions at companies.  Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation officials think flashy multimedia presentations and cleverly placed pop up advertising will "speak" to those twenty- and thirty-somethings and convince them to "Say Yes to Wisconsin!" (a very old state marketing statement some of you may recall on green bumper stickers.

The marketing campaign is going to focus on things WEDC thinks millenials care about: affordable housing, lower taxes and short commute times.  But what they fail to take into consideration is that those are things those of us who have been independent adults for decades care about--but the generations that have followed us have all but abandoned.

Take "affordable housing" for instance.  While those with kids and a job they expect to keep for decades like having their own home and a yard and the freedoms associated with that, younger adults have no interest in "being tied down" with a house.  They prefer densely-packed housing developments where all of the maintenance work is done for you.  Shovel snow?  Rake Leaves?  Cut the grass?  All wastes of time for them.  Plus, that next job could be a couple of mouse clicks away--in a city 2000-miles away--so who wants to get "bogged down" by a mortgage and real estate that you need to sell before you can go anywhere?

"Lower taxes" doesn't hit home with millenials either--because they haven't been paying that much anyway.  When you don't own a home, what do you care about property taxes?  Sales tax is just a line that sometimes gets added to an on-line purchase--depending on the retailer.  Nobody on ebay or Craigslist is charging you sales tax.  And when student loan deductions, health insurance premium subsidies and lower tax brackets mean a fat refund check from Uncle Sam every April, it seems to young workers that they really aren't paying that much income tax anyway.

Short commute times is another lost concept.  Millenials expect their residence and their employer to be on public transit lines.  They don't understand the freedom granted by having your own mode of transportation that you can take anywhere, anytime you want.  They don't have cars in the same percentage of ownership as previous generations--preferring instead to just book an Uber or a Lyft if they need to get somewhere.  They don't need conveniently located shopping either--because they can order anything they want without ever leaving the house on the internet.

Democrats criticizing the Governor's marketing plan may be right in saying that policy is more important that place when it comes to attracting the next generation.  Millenials probably do want de-criminalized marijuana possession, no enforcement of immigration laws, free contraceptives, and much higher government spending--and not so much a house, kids, two-car garages, low crime and cheap beer at a Friday night fish fry.  You just have to ask how much of that do those of us already here want to give up to make it "better" for them?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Important, But Not the Most Important

I've heard a lot of sports hosts calling tomorrow's Big Ten Championship Game the "MOST IMPORTANT GAME IN WISCONSIN BADGERS FOOTBALL HISTORY!!"  I'll grant you that the Badgers would likely clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win over Ohio State and as former Vice President Joe Biden so succinctly said: That's a Big (Expletive) Deal.  And I subscribe to the attitude held by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichik that the next game is always the "most important game ever".  But when you take a step back--and not treat what is happening right now as the only thing that has ever mattered in the history of mankind--you would see that the "Most Important Game In Wisconsin Badgers Football History" was played on December 4th of 1993--in of all places, Japan.

In that game, the Badgers took on Michigan State.  With a win, they would capture a share of the Big Ten title--and their first berth in the Rose Bowl in 31-years.  To this day, Athletic Director (and then Head Coach) Barry Alvarez says it was his biggest regret agreeing to move that game from what would have been an early November home date at Camp Randall Stadium to a 5000-mile road trip with so much more on the line.  Fortunately, the Badgers played like a team with everything to gain that night--and Michigan State looked like they didn't want to be anywhere near a football field.  Wisconsin won 41-20 and punched their ticket to Pasadena.  And the rest as they say, is history.

But consider what would have happened if Wisconsin had laid an egg in that game.  A loss would have ruined what had been up until that point a Cinderella season--with a dramatic home win again Big Ten powerhouse Michigan and an equally dramatic tie the next week against Ohio State that cleared the way for a potential conference title.  But blow that game against Michigan State--and it would have been the Buckeyes representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl--while Bucky would have gone to some second-rate bowl game in late December.

Without that win Barry Alvarez likely becomes the second coming of Don McClain--a solid coach that never really was able to build a consistent winner.  Maybe Wisconsin goes to a few more bowls before Alverez heads off to Miami or Notre Dame.  A loss in Tokyo probably means no pipeline of future NFL offensive linemen coming to Madison.  No Ron Dayne.  No Heisman Trophy season.  No back-to-back Rose Bowl wins.  No Miracle at the Metrodome.  No highly-successful preferred walk-on program that produces All-Americans and future pros.  No smooth transition to Bret Bielema.  No three consecutive Big Ten titles.  No JJ Watt.  No Russell Wilson.  And no record setting days for Melvin Gordon.  Paul Chryst may still have been hired--but he would have inherited a program with little history of success and far less talent.

Yes, there is a lot on the line in tomorrow's Big Ten Championship Game.  And maybe it ushers in an even better era of Wisconsin Football.  But let's keep things in perspective and remember how we got to this point.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

High Society

I would encourage you to go to the Oshkosh Community Media website and watch the debate in Tuesday night's Common Council meeting over reducing the fine for possession of marijuana.  It will provide you some interesting insight into the growing drug culture not just here in Oshkosh but throughout the United States.  That is, once you get past the persecution complex of the speakers who feel that they have been wronged by an unjust law and justice system.

It was comments from Councilmember Caroline Panske that really got me thinking: "We aren't just a bunch of stoners sitting around on the couch eating Doritos.  We are elected officials, we are doctors, we are teachers, we are parents, we are students, we are all types of people"

Obviously, she is referring to herself when she talks about "elected officials".  However, Panske tried to play the victim card claiming to have taken a "free joint from someone else" before her arrest for driving with pot in her car in Waushara County over the summer.  But think about a doctor that is smoking weed.  I'm guessing she's referring to a D.O.--who prefers "holistic" and "non-Western medicine" techniques honed from a time when humans lived to an average age of 36.  Do you want the person responsible for properly diagnosing a life-threatening illness--or performing surgery on delicate body parts to be toking up to "take the edge off"?

As marijuana use gains more social acceptance, it will force those of us who expect professionalism and expertise in some fields to eventually have to ask, "Are you a pot smoker?"  Can you honestly say that you are okay with a surgeon that may have been "getting baked" the night before you go to the OR?  Will you feel no nervousness knowing the pilot on your next flight has a dime bag in his carry-on up in the cockpit?  Are you okay knowing that guy fixing the brakes on the crossover you drive the kids to school in everyday hits up the bong?

The common retort from the pro-pot folks to questions like that is "Well alcoholics hold all those jobs too".  Too which I would say, I don't want drunks fixing my aorta, or flying my plane or making sure that my wheels aren't going to fall off my Jeep at highway speed either.  And that is why employers should be testing their employees on a regular basis and firing (or not hiring) those that fail those tests.

So continue your fight for your right to light up Councillor Panske, just don't expect the rest of us to support you or any of your so-called "professional" pot smokers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gaming the System

I have to admit, I failed to understand the real motive behind the Legislature's decision this fall to eliminate the minimum age for a "mentored" deer hunting license in Wisconsin.  I never bought the argument that "if a child isn't exposed to an activity by the time he or she is eight or nine years old they will never be interested in it".  I was 12 the first time I touched a real golf club--and I didn't take the sport seriously until my late teens--but now it is my passion.  I did try imagine an eight or nine year old that would be physically and mentally mature enough to safely handle the type of firearm powerful enough to kill a deer--and that his or her parent would be responsible enough to make sure they are handling that weapon safely at all times.

But yesterday's release of data on mentored hunt licenses sold for last week's gun-deer season revealed that the main reason for the change is not to "get more kids interested in hunting"--it's actually to "allow guys to shoot more deer".

How else to explain the sale of ten licenses to infants.  Children less than a year old were issued deer hunting licenses this year.  Another 50-kids under the age of five were sold licenses.  I had to laugh at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on those numbers as the reporter posited that some of those licenses "may have been purchased as keepsakes for the children".  I highly doubt that, because somewhere in Wisconsin a four year old bagged a deer last week.  Now I want you to think about that for a minute.  A four-year old fired a .10 guage shotgun or a 30.06 rifle accurately enough to down a deer.  Most four-year olds I've met couldn't sit quietly long enough for a deer to get within a quarter mile of them.  I'd like to see if our toddler sharpshooter's father also happened to bag a buck earlier in the season.

What makes this charade easier to pull off is that in-person registration is no longer required.  Nobody has to take a "successful" four year old hunter to a DNR registration station to present the deer and the tag.  All the "real hunter" has to do now is call the hotline or log on to the DNR website and enter the license information and nobody has any idea if the "mentee hunter" even set foot in the woods.

I'm not saying the hunters that got licenses for children too young to walk or talk did anything illegal.  Group hunting is common in Wisconsin and filling someone else's tag has been allowed for decades.  But lawmakers can spare us the public hearings and the floor debate about "preserving Wisconsin's sporting heritage" when it is now obvious that this is nothing more than an effort to get around the "one hunter-one deer" requirement.  And while ten newborns were "hunters" this year, you can bet that numbers will increase next year as guys realize what a great scam it is.  Or are you telling me that Oshkosh B'Gosh and Carters have to start making blaze orange onesies?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Old School vs New School

You know who has had a pretty good last couple of days?  The "old school", "fake news", "mainstream media".  You know, the type of reporting that has come under constant attack for the last few years--and who is always going to be "replaced" by the "new media".

Consider the story that broke yesterday that a group of political operatives tried to plant a fake news story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in the Washington Post.  A woman claiming that she was impregnated by Moore years ago contacted the Post and "wanted to tell her story".  She met with a reporter, in an encounter secretly filmed by the woman--and recorded by the reporter.  When the Post did the usual follow-up reporting--contacting others that could corroborate her claims and verifying her whereabouts to match the timeline of her story--the tall tale fell apart.

Further investigation conducted by Post reporters found that not only was the woman's story fake--but that she was working for the political group Project Veritas--and the goal of the operation was to put a false story into publication in the same newspaper that first reported on allegations of sexual improprieties by Moore--thereby "discrediting" all of their previous reporting, and the claims of the original victims. 

If Project Veritas sounds familiar, it's the same group that sent a young operative with a hidden video camera on him into a bar to record then-State Senate Majority Leader Mike Ellis of Neenah making disparaging comments about Green Bay Preble High School.  The subsequent release of the video effectively ended Ellis's long career in Madison.  Project Veritas targeted Ellis because he was not voting in lock-step with Governor Scott Walker's agenda.

The credibility of so-called "social media reporters" also took a big hit this week with the unbelievable mess that has been created in the University of Tennessee's search for a new head football coach.  The school announced on Sunday that it had offered the job to Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.  Unhappy with that selection was self-described "college sports insider and blogger" Clay Travis--who posted a story with a link to a Washington Post report about the Penn State child molestation scandal where Schiano is mentioned off-handedly by a witness in the case as having told someone else that he saw Jerry Sandusky in the shower with a boy once.

Never mind that the deposition cited by Travis is hearsay evidence and would never be admissible in a court of law--or that Schiano is not mentioned anywhere else in the 800-page investigation into the Penn State scandal--or that Schiano was never accused, charged or convicted of taking part in the university's cover up of the child molestation at Penn State.  Clay's thousands of social media followers (many of whom are under the delusional belief that another internet rumor--John Gruden is leaving Monday Night Football to coach the Vols--is true) re-posted the story, which was reposted by their friends which eventually led to accusations that Schiano was complicit in the coverup and could not possibly be hired by Tennessee.

When a couple of Tennessee state lawmakers added their voices to the internet mob, UT Athletic officials rescinded their job offer to Schiano--making it look like the "stain of Penn State" really was on him and that he was no longer fit for the job.  Now, the Vols will have no choice but to hire someone with previous ties to the school--as no qualified "outsider" is going to ever want to be part of a program where the uninformed masses drive the decision making process.

So the next time you hear someone talking about "fake news" or how "social media makes everyone a reporter" remember the past few days.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Moving Forward

The news we all expected came down late Wednesday afternoon (in what we call a classic "news dump"--major news late on a day before a holiday or a weekend that allows it to be nearly forgotten by the time everyone gets back into their normal consumption patterns) that Oshkosh Corporation will buy a portion of Lakeshore Golf Course for construction of its new global headquarters.  The announcement did not surprise those of us who golf at Lakeshore, as the powers that be were working behind closed doors even longer than we were initially told to make it happen.

So what do we do now?  There are some that are pushing for redesigning what will remain of Lakeshore into a nine-hole public course.  Personally, I doubt that it will be economically feasible.  Plus, city officials have made it pretty clear they want out of the golf course business.  That is why I and some other golfers have decided the best course of action is to move on and try to preserve the spirit of the game that was established over a century at Lakeshore.

We are looking at forming what I am calling the Oshkosh Golf Association.  The three main goals would be to maintain the competitive traditions at Lakeshore--mainly the City Match Play Championship and the City Tournament--in some other form.  We are also looking to continue youth programs started at Lakeshore and to increase outreach to under-represented communities through golf.  And a final goal would be to establish charitable giving programs benefitting the high school golf programs in Oshkosh and perhaps provide scholarships for kids somewhere down the line.

I've already reached out to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation for advice establishing the Oshkosh Golf Association as a non-profit entity.  Former Lakeshore pro Steve Ziblut and I will now be reaching out to potential leaders in this organization to staff volunteer committees overseeing finances, competition and outreach.  If you or someone you know might be interested in helping to form and direct the OGA, feel free to contact me or Steve.

We may have lost our course, but those of us who enjoyed Lakeshore over the years won't lose our love for the great game of golf or give up on the tradition, competition and comradery the venue provided.  If there is one thing that golf has taught all of us is that you don't just quit after a bad hole or a lost match.  You bounce back, work a little harder and make yourself--or the game itself--better the next time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fake Motivation

If you watch the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game on Saturday afternoon (as Wisconsin looks to stretch its winning streak against the Golden Gophers to 14 CONSECUTIVE GAMES) you may notice an unusual phrase printed inside the center stripe on the Gophers' helmets.  That phrase is "ROW THE BOAT".  That might not make a lot of sense.  Gophers don't row boats.  Boating has very little to do with playing football.  And most people that use the Boundary Waters area in northern Minnesota paddle their canoes--they don't row.  But that is the "motivational phrase" that Minnesota Head Coach PJ Fleck believes can raise his players' effort to a higher level.

Personally, I think it's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.  Fleck developed ROW THE BOAT during his previous job at Western Michigan.  You may recall hearing about it endlessly during last January's Cotton Bowl broadcast as Wisconsin manhandled the previously undefeated Broncos back on January 2nd.  As with Fleck's Broncos, Gopher players now run out of the tunnel pre-game holding an oar to signify their plan to ROW THE BOAT all day against their opponents.

Now I thought ROW THE BOAT was a metaphor for the entire team working together trying to head toward a common goal.  You know, if everyone doesn't row together, the boat just goes in circles.  But according to Fleck the oar represents "the energy your bring to life", the boat is "the sacrifice you are willing to make" and a compass (which I didn't realize was part of this equation) doesn't represent the direction you want to go--but rather "the people with whom you surround yourself".

Now does that psycho-drivel get you motivated to work harder toward your goals?  Would it convince you to get into the weight room at 5:00 in the morning to work out?  Or to put in a few extra minutes of film study on your opponent?  Does seeing ROW THE BOAT on the other team's helmets intimidate opponents?  "Wow man, those guys are bringing energy to the sacrifice they are willing to make while surrounded by good people!"  Given that the Golden Gophers have been boat-raced by their last three Big Ten opponents, social media pundits have taken to renaming the phrase WOE THE BOAT.

Obviously, some college kids buy into the ROW THE BOAT mantra--and the myriad of other meaningless phrases that coaches like PJ Fleck throw at them.  But what is the catchphrase of the most successful college football team over the past decade, Alabama?  Why doesn't Ohio State have a motivational phrase on their helmets?  And what incredible spiritual saying does the "boring" Paul Chryst provide to his offensive linemen before they bulldoze their opponents?  Let's face it, some coaches can coach--and some can only "motivate".

Oh, and Minnesota can plan on taking their oar back to it's hallowed location in the locker room--because the Badgers will be taking Paul Bunyan's Axe back to its nearly-permanent location in the Camp Randall trophy case for an unprecedented 14TH CONSECUTIVE TIME!!!



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Last Man Standing

There is blood in the water, and the sharks are circling.  I can guarantee that every news outlet, website and opposing party operative is looking for women (and in some cases, men) to accuse politicians, media members and celebrities of sexual assault or harassment.  Every awkward first date, crude attempt at humor and even yearbook inscription is being scrutinized for any shred of inappropriateness--dating back decades if necessary.  Many of the men in Congress are likely lying awake hoping that any questionable incident from their past will not be uncovered in the days, weeks and months before the rest of the media tires of this story and moves on to the next "crisis".

But one man that likely is having no problem sleeping right now is Vice President Mike Pence.  You see, Pence has a policy that he will not dine alone with a woman that is not his wife, and he will not attend any function where alcohol is being served without her by his side.  It's a version of the Reverend Billy Graham's rule that he had for himself and his pastors--never be alone in a closed room with a woman that is not your wife.

Pence--who is an Evangelical--has always given a Puritanical reason for his "never alone" policy--it eliminates the temptation and opportunity for the type of behavior that every high-profile male is now at risk for accusation.  When this practice came to light, Pence was roundly criticized by feminists and liberals.  They accused the Vice President of being sexist and misogynistic.  They believe the policy denies women equal access to Pence--and treats all women as potential seductresses or false accusers.

But in the current environment, Pence's "never alone" practice looks like the greatest security policy in modern political history.  No one has to worry about a "He said/She Said" situation--because it will be a "He said/She said/The other person in the room saw" scenario.  Undoubtedly, there are people out there beating the bushes looking for any woman that may have slipped past this security measure (and if she is ever found, Gloria Allred will be there to "represent her"--practically sitting on her lap to make sure she gets in all of the TV shots at the press conference)--but the odds are they aren't going to find one.

Now, am I going to call for a ban on men and women being alone together because that is the only way to prevent accusations of sexual harassment or assault?  No.  We should be working our way to a society where every encounter between the genders is not sexually-charged.  But in the current climate of hysteria, it might not be a bad insurance policy.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Glimpse Into the Future

So how are Packers fans enjoying their glimpse into the future?  I'm not saying the Brett Hundley is the future of Green Bay football.  In fact his play while Aaron Rodgers recovers from a broken collarbone is proving that his days in TitleTown are likely numbered after Number 12 returns.  But Aaron Rodgers is 33-years old, and only Tom Brady has shown the ability to actually get better as he gets older.

So Packers fans had better get used to not having a premier quarterback to make up for the shortcomings of the team's defense, receiving corps, running backs and play calling.  This is what Chicago has been dealing with for 30-years.  Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York Jets, and Buffalo fans have been wondering for decades which quarterback is going to show up this week--the one that throws five interceptions in the first half--or the one that completes 60% of his passes and they still lose?

It is pretty clear that when Mike McCarthy said in his press conference after Rodgers first got hurt "I'm a highly successful NFL Head Coach" that what he really meant was "Numbers 4 and 12 have really carried my butt for the past eleven years".  In fact, I see McCarthy deciding to hang up the play calling sheet the minute that Aaron Rodgers decides he is going to retire--or demands a trade to a different team like his predecessor.  It's hard to look like an offensive genius when you don't have someone chucking the ball around every play with pinpoint accuracy and world-class decision-making skills.

It's also possible that the next generation Green Bay Packers won't need to be a one-man team.  Maybe, they will have a future General Manager that sees actual value in early round picks.  That can scout linebacking talent that can actually apply pressure to quarterbacks and cover receivers in space.  Maybe that GM will allocate resources to field playmakers at several different positions instead of just at quarterback--so that QB doesn't have to do it all by himself.

Or should Packers fans hope their future is drastically changed by finding another NFL team to fleece in a trade for its third-string quarterback that turns out to be a hall of famer?  Maybe another 23-teams will pass on another hall of fame QB because of his "attitude issues" so he can fall into Green Bay's lap.  Aaron Rodgers will return to the field late this year--or at the start of next year and push these concerns out of fans' minds.  But remember, this is where your future lies, Packer Backers.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Play For What Actually Counts

With their win over Iowa last week, the Wisconsin Badgers Football team clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis in three weeks.  If they were an NFL team, and the Badgers had clinched their playoff position already, they would be free to rest their key players the last couple of weeks so they could come into the conference title tilt at full strength.

But because of the cockamamie playoff structure in college football, Head Coach Paul Chryst is instead pressured to put guys who are already hobbled or worn down out there for two more weeks in order to appease a "selection committee" that randomly selects the four teams that get to compete for a national title.

If the College Football Playoff were legitimate--and not a huge money grab conducted not by the NCAA but rather by ESPN and its sponsors--the champion of the Big Ten Conference--regardless of their record--would be in it.  The same would go for the winners of all the major football conferences.  Why else are we playing these conference title games if not to determine who is the best team in each of them this year?

You need not look any further than last year's "playoff" to see that it's nothing more than a beauty pageant.  Penn State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.  The College Football Playoff Selection Committee then chose Ohio State for its final four instead of the Nittany Lions.  What was the point of having a conference champion if a team that didn't even win its own division moves on to the "playoffs"?

As far as I'm concerned, Wisconsin should play only for the Big Ten Championship--and pay no attention to the ESPN Television Ratings Exhibition Games in January.  Let Jonathan Taylor sit in the second half of tomorrow's game against Michigan.  Allow some of the second-string offensive linemen and defensive players to get meaningful playing time against Minnesota next week so the units that are most responsible for any potential success against Ohio State in the conference title game are ready to go.  And make a statement to the rest of the sport that at Wisconsin, we only play for what actually counts.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Timing Is Everything

If we have learned anything in the past year or so it is that alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment need to be encouraged to come forward with their accusations sooner.  Women should feel that they will be believed if they accuse someone of illegal or inappropriate contact before it's just a couple of weeks prior to an election.  There is no reason why these victims should feel like they have to wait until after the primaries are done and a party is stuck with its nominee before they come forward.

In fact, we should be encouraging these women to make their allegations as soon as a candidate announces for a political office.  Given that those announcements come more than a year before any elections are held, the accusations could be fully investigated and litigated before anyone heads to the polls.  Really, the victims of alleged sexual assault and harassment should expect Gloria Allred (who is apparently licensed to represent people as an attorney in all 50-states where there are television cameras) to be by their side as they level accusations against candidates for smaller races like Judge or District Attorney--decades before they become national news fodder.

And we here in the media should not feel like we have to wait in any way to report information available to us.  Rumors of inappropriate conduct should be investigated long before anyone even thinks about running for public office.  Court records, divorce filings and bankruptcy cases should all be scrutinized on the way back from covering a campaign kickoff announcement. 

Even national news sources like Access Hollywood shouldn't feel like they need to keep audio tapes of lewd conversations hidden away for eleven years because they hold no news value until two months before an election.  The people have a right to know this stuff as soon as possible--especially before committing a party to that alleged offender as their only candidate.

So let us learn our lesson from recent times and create a culture where alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment can in no way be seen as just political pawns.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why, You're Still a Child!

It's amazing the wide range of legal definitions of an "adult" today.  Here in Wisconsin, the minute you are born you are considered old enough to hunt with an adult--and carry your own gun.  When you are 10 you can start driving ATV's on public trails.  At the age of 12, you can start working at a job--with a permit--and you can be waived into adult court to face felony charges for heinous crimes--like the girls involved in the "Slenderman Stabbing Case".  Twelve year olds can also operate their own snowmobiles.

Turning 16 is of course a big one, as you are allowed to get a drivers license.  Automobile accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers.  You are also allowed to pump gas and you can get married in Wisconsin--with your parents' permission.  At 17 you are allowed to become a pilot--and you can be charged in adult court with felony crimes without have to be waived out of juvenile court first.

At 18 so much of the world opens up to you.  You can now vote, buy a gun, join the military and kill people--or give up your life for your country.  You are allowed to purchase tobacco products.  You can rent an apartment, take out loans and get credit cards all on your own.  You can take part in jury duty, sign up for utility service, get an abortion without your parents' permission, get married, book airline flights on your own and work up to 40-hours a week.  No one will give you a hard time about going into an "R" rated movie.  You can buy--or make--porn.  You could even drop out of school and not be considered truant.  And you are allowed to legally sell and serve alcohol to another person.

Finally at 21, you can actually drink alcohol legally.  Somehow, we have deemed this activity so dangerous and requiring so much "maturity" that up until now, it was not safe to do so--despite everything else you have been allowed to do so far.  Handling guns, flying planes by yourself, going off to war--all okay for younger folks--but having a couple of beers is just "too risky", you aren't ready for that kind of responsibility.

Of course, there are a couple of things that we think 21-year olds aren't responsible enough to handle--like renting a car--gotta be at least 25 to do that.  And we couldn't possibly expect someone to be responsible for buying their own health insurance until they are 26--so let's keep them on Mom and Dad's policy until then.

Maybe it's time we review all of the "adult things" we've attached ages to, and make them more consistent all along the line.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Steve Bannon's America

While former President George W Bush's advisor Karl Rove can be blamed for the hyper-partisan political climate of the 2000's, President Donald Trump's advisor Steve Bannon for the absolutely absurd political climate we have to deal with now.

Rove carried Bush to a pair of national election victories by not appeal to the political "middle" but rather by playing strictly to the Republican party base--defining the opposition as "extremely liberal"--and forcing those in the middle to choose between two polar opposites.  The era of political compromise was dead--as working with someone on the other side of the aisle would be seen as "weakness" and "capitulating to the enemy".  It was a political strategy good at winning elections in battleground states--but left much to be desired when it came to actual governance.

The new political climate created by Steve Bannon is taking voters--especially those on the Republican side--to places they never could have imagined they would have to go.  As little as five years ago would you have seriously considered if neo-Nazis had "some good points" about their stances on social issues?  Just two years ago, would you have willingly argued in favor of thirty-year old men having sexual contact with 14-year old girls as justification for voting for a candidate?  If you are old enough to remember, would you have applauded Ronald Reagan if he was seeking help from Soviet spies to win his 1980 presidential election?

What was considered absurd for the past 100-years is suddenly becoming the political norm thanks to candidates backed by Bannon.  How often have you ever rooted for a member of your own party to lose an election just so the power behind him is finally thwarted?  I'm not calling for Roy Moore to drop out of the race.  So-called "Republicans" voted him as their nominee in Alabama, and they should be made to now sink with him on the ticket next month.  No "do-overs".  No "well I didn't know" as an excuse.  The second those voters saw Steve Bannon or one of his political action committees back Roy Moore, they should have immediately backed his primary opponent. 

GOP voters need to take the stance of "guilt by association" when selecting their own candidates--because the rest of the country certainly is going to do in the general elections.  Unless your willing to die on the mountains of racism, treason and pedophila.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Oh, There's a Game Going On Too?

I attended a Milwaukee Bucks game for the first time in a number of years on Saturday night.  I found out that the NBA no longer stands for just the National Basketball Association anymore.  In fact, it is more like Noise Blasting Always.

The game is now a near constant sonic assault from the moment you walk into the arena.  It starts with fireworks during pre-game play introductions.  That's followed by high-volume dance music to "GET PUMPED FOR THE JUMP".  Then you have music or drum machines or other artificial noise playing--while the game is going on.  I found out that like baseball players and their 'walk up songs", NBA players now have "made basket songs".  Giannis Antentakoumpo has some R&B song I don't recognize.  In fact, the only song that I recognized was the AC/DC tune that plays after Matthew Delavadova--who is Australian, just like the band--scores.  Of course, to be heard over the "made basket music" the PA announcer has to yell every player's name--or nickname like "THE GREEK FREAK!!!!" or "THREE FOR T!!!" 

Now, PA Guy has nothing on the "Hype Man" that takes over during timeouts (and there are a lot of them in NBA games).  As soon as the referee signals the TO, more high-energy dance music starts blasting and the "Hype Man" is encouraging us with "MILWAUKEE LET ME HEAR YOU!!" or "GET UP FOR YOUR ENERGEE DANCERS!!" or "WHO WANTS SOME T-SHIRTS?!?!?!?!"  (The Bucks must lead the league is T-shirt giveaways, because there were at least ten of them Saturday night.)

Meanwhile, the floor is full of dancers, "Gameday Experience Staff" throwing out t-shirts, the guys that do the trampoline dunks, Bango Buck shooting half-court shots backwards so all of us fans can win free tacos, and Bango riding around the floor on a Harley--constantly revving the engine.  The reason I'm a little hoarse this morning is not because I was cheering crazily at the game, it was because I was trying to talk to my friend right next to me over all of the noise.  You would think that the NBA coaches would appreciate a little less noise and distraction while trying to communicate with the players in the middle of the on-court circus.

Obviously, the NBA doesn't create its "game day experience" for people like me--guys who like basketball.  My friend's teenage son loved it--so much in fact I hardly ever saw him on his cellphone.  But with the near constant "entertainment" going on, it was easy to lose what is supposed to be most important thing going on that night in the arena: the game itself.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Unpersons

When I was a kid, George Orwell's novel 1984 was a work of fiction about a dystopian future.  Little did I know that during my lifetime it would morph into more of a non-fiction blueprint for modern society.  We have a form of Big Brother--as security cameras, facial recognition software, internal body scanners and electronic devices that monitor our every word are everywhere.  The Thought Police are ever-present on social media and college campuses, waiting to attack anyone with an opinion or political stance that differs from theirs.  And now we have "Unpersons" being blotted out of the public record.

I was reminded of "Unperson" last night when I heard that a Hollywood studio was reshooting movie scenes involving Kevin Spacey--even though the film is supposed to be released to theaters in just six weeks.  All of the other actors are being brought back to film scenes with Christopher Plummer--who as of this morning had not been publicly accused of molesting any children or walking around nude in front of any actresses--but again, it is still early in the day.  Then it was announced that Louis CK was being removed from some HBO comedy special, since he is part of the Hollywood "purge" now as well.

Actually, trying to eliminate any proof of existence of a person was a common practice before Orwell wrote about it in 1949.  Stalin was the best at it.  He had public documents, birth certificates, and even marriage records deleted after sending his enemies to the gulags or had them executed.  He had filmmakers re-shoot newsreel footage to have random people or items block out those that he had killed.  He was like the first Photoshop user--having his enemies airbrushed out of pictures to the point that some photos that had once been full of people standing around Stalin were reduced to Stalin just by himself standing behind some random table.

I'll have to check the list of Harvey Weinstein productions to see which movies I like that will never be aired on TV again.  Erasing Kevin Spacey from our collective memories will eliminate two of my absolute favorites: Glengary Glenross and American Beauty.  Just the other day I was laughing at an on-line clip of Louis CK playing "Black Jeopardy" on Saturday Night Live.  I guess I'll just have to pretend I never actually saw that.  Meanwhile, I'll get used to movies that only star women from now on.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Threat to the Constitution

It didn't receive a lot of hype this week, but the Wisconsin Legislature has approved the most-dangerous bill ever.  I'm not talking about the measure that would allow a child of any age to carry a gun while hunting with an adult.  Instead I refer to the call for a Constitutional Convention. 

Wisconsin became the 28th state to approve a resolution calling for the convention--meaning just six more states need to join in and delegates will be assigned to come to Washington DC.  Article V of the Constitution allows for this process--as the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that states could continue to be the driving force behind Constitutional amendments--and not just Congress. 

A group called the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force is the one pushing this effort--saying that the country is going bankrupt due to deficit spending in Washington.  They want the 28th Amendment to require the Federal Government to pass a balanced budget every year--and then be required to stick to it.

That may sound great on the surface, but the amendment idea is fraught with risk.  For starters, it severely hampers the Federal Government's ability to deal with unforeseen events--like natural disasters and wars.  If approved, it would likely put an immediate end to the Global War on Terror--as that expense is currently being put on the credit card.  For those not familiar with our Federal budget, we borrow an average of 600-billion dollars a year to fund the Government.  About 600-billion dollars is what we spend on defense. 

If you want to continue to fund military operations, then you are going to have to drastically cut Social Security and Medicare.  Those programs run an annual deficit of about 400-billion dollars--and that doesn't include Disability, Food Assistance or Unemployment insurance.  If you want to do across the board cuts, every department of the Federal Government--except debt repayment, which is 229-billion--would have to take about an 18-percent cut in funding.

But the biggest danger in a Constitutional Convention is that delegates will not be limited to just a balanced budget amendment.  Even State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald admitted after this week's vote he wasn't sure if the Convention could go in and make changes to existing amendments.  What would stop the delegates from repealing the Second Amendment?  Remember, we all want to "do something about gun violence".  They could also change the First Amendment to limit free speech to as not to "offend" or to "make someone feel bad".  And what is to stop them from making "free healthcare" or "free college education" from becoming Constitutional rights?
There is a reason the drafters of the Constitution made is so difficult to amend--so it would not be changed constantly on a whim or to fit trends in society.  Look at how successful that was during Prohibition.  Calling a Constitutional Convention on the auspices of limiting government spending is opening a Pandora's Box that the country could end up regretting for the next 225 years.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Just Be Consistent

I've already made peace with the fact that the Oshkosh Common Council will vote tonight to formally offer to sell Lakeshore Golf Course to the Oshkosh Corporation for their new world headquarters.  But what I want to see tonight is some consistency from Councillors in their messages as they explain their votes.  Councilmember Jake Krause works for Oshkosh Corp, so he is recusing himself from tonight's vote--but here is what everyone else should say:

Mayor Steve Cummings should use his favorite phrase "The City is being held hostage" by its largest employer, as it only will consider some of the limited parkland in Oshkosh for its new location.  He should also complain that Oshkosh Corp will likely come back someday with the "dark store loophole" argument that it's new headquarters should be assessed at the same rate as its vacant old headquarters to get out of paying as much in property taxes.

Councillor Tom Pech, Jr needs to bemoan the fact that the State Legislature is phasing out the Personal Property Tax--meaning the city won't be able to levy taxes on all of the furnishings, computers and fixtures in the new headquarters building in the future.

Councilmember Deb Allison-Aasby should cheer the precedent that the City is setting for incentive packages that will be provided to future development--especially for the company for which she works.

I predict Councillor Lori Palmeri will be the star of tonight's debate.  She will come armed with arguments against "Corporate Welfare", like Oshkosh's 94-million dollars in net income for the 4th quarter of the fiscal year alone--and profits of 286-million for the entire year--and wonder why Oshkosh taxpayers have to provide any assistance at all when they can clearly afford to build without it?

Councilmember Caroline Panske needs to remind us of the environmental impact.  A tear should be shed for the beautiful old oak trees that will have to be cut down--no longer providing homes for cute squirrels and chipmunks.  And let's not forget about the ponds that will no longer be home to fuzzy ducklings and goslings every spring.  Plus, her favorite--grass--will be covered up by more ugly concrete and blacktop.  But then, she also has to explain the inner turmoil, as golf is a sport played only by rich, white men--so why should she vote to keep their "personal playground"?

And finally, Councillor Steve Herman should provide the lone perspective on what Oshkosh will be giving up in this deal by recalling the great memories of beautiful sunny days on the fairways with friends, the great competitions held on those grounds for more than a century and the chances for kids to take part in a game based on respect for your opponent--in a safe environment that provides real life lessons.

So the Council can go ahead and approve the Lakeshore offer tonight because you know you have to--but just don't pretend it's something you actually support.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just One Year to Go!

It will be nice to head to the polls today and put another campaign season behind us.  I was growing tired of the ads telling us how much Senator Tammy Baldwin has raised our taxes alternating with those telling us about how she is fighting to preserve our healthcare, mixed in with ads for the former Democrat who is now a Republican and thinks that makes him like Ronald Reagan.

Governor Walker is making one final campaign swing through the Fox Valley today to trump up (pun intended) last minute support before voters head to the polls.  Fortunately, I won't have to cover another rally for a while and he can focus on running state government again.  Yep, after today we can finally take a break from all of the campaign noise.

Wait a minute....I'm being told that this is not election day for the campaigns that I just mentioned.  Actually, all of these people saturating the airwaves and criss-crossing the state don't come up for election for ANOTHER YEAR YET!! 

Obviously, I was having a little fun with you there.  But what is not fun in the near-constant campaign cycle that we voters have to endure in the modern political process.  I'm not sure which strategy candidates are employing now: get people to make up their minds early--because they are not likely to change after that, or bombard the folks as early as possible so they eventually tune out everything and probably don't even want to vote anymore.

In the past, starting a campaign more than a year before the election was seen as a sign of desperation--especially for an incumbent.  Better to save your powder for after Labor Day when people were actually paying attention to elections.  But then campaign finance laws came into effect and the need to get more people to give you smaller amounts of money became more important.  And to get more people to give requires more time--and thus the never-ending election cycle was born. 

We may get to enjoy a brief reprieve the next couple of months, as Christmas advertising pushes political ads to the side.  Let's just hope retailers don't follow the lead of politicians and start their Holiday ads for 2018 on December 26th of 2017.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Our Own Little Foxconn

The Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation and the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce might want to order more of those "We Support the Oshkosh Corporation" yard signs--because if the company does accept the City's offer to sell the Lakeshore Golf Course as proposed, all of us will literally be supporting the Oshkosh Corporation. 

The first six million dollars Oshkosh Corp pays in property taxes on the new HQ will be returned to them as part of a "Pay as you go" tax incremental financing district.  That's about 20-years worth of returns.  In addition, the City will have to borrow 7.2-million to build the streets leading to the new headquarters--along with the water and sewer lines.  That is another twenty year payback.

I'm not saying that Oshkosh Corporation is ripping off taxpayers or that the City is giving away the farm (which I still believe will happen when Oshkosh counter-offers to pay far less than the 3.5-million dollar asking price the City has put on the Lakeshore property itself).  This is the way business relocation is conducted now: What city is going to give us the most for the least amount of cost to us?

One of the huge disadvantages the City of Oshkosh has in this process is that everything has to be done in the open.  Because this is public land being offered by a government entity, the "Lakeshore offer" is public record.  The rumored "Grand Chute offer" is for land that is privately held--and therefore no Town Board approval is needed yet (although those folks will be getting multiple calls about that today).  The same goes for the offers from the Chicago area and suburban Washington DC.  Who is to say those developers won't be checking out the on-line news sources this morning and "sweetening their deal" to beat Lakeshore?

And one thing that I do not want to hear is anyone in local or state government that supports the Oshkosh Corporation deal voicing any opposition or concern about the Foxconn deal.  If the State is engaged in "corporate welfare", then the City is engaging in "corporate welfare" too.  About the only difference is we know that the Oshkosh Corporation actually will build what it promises to build--and that we don't need to change a bunch of legal processes to make it happen.

In both cases, we the taxpayers just have to hope those companies stick around long enough to make these big investments worthwhile.

Friday, November 3, 2017

It's Not Just For the Rich

Now that the Republican Tax Reform Plan is out there for everyone to see, the attacks are coming from every direction.  The main talking point is that "the middle class is not going to see any relief".  Well I am here to tell you that I will be one of the middle class that will be seeing my taxes lowered.

Being debt-free, childless and healthy, my wife and I don't have nearly enough deductions to itemize on our 1040 every year.  That means we get just the standard deduction and the write off for local taxes and that is about it.  My wife often asks why some people get these huge tax refunds every year (bragging about them on social media) while we usually have to pay in a small amount--even though we both claim no deductions from our paychecks.  I always tell her kids are a huge tax write off--as is mortgage and student loan interest for those that borrowed way to much for their homes or their educations and medical bills for those that don't take care of themselves.  I affectionately refer to it as the "responsibility tax" that we get to pay.

But with the Republican plan to double the standard deduction--and to get rid of all those other write offs I just mentioned--that is tangible savings for my middle class household.  What's more, those living in tax hellholes like California, New York and Minnesota no longer get a big write off with their state and local taxes--meaning they finally feel the full brunt of their over-spending state and local governments and might question why they put up with Democratic leadership.

With parents creeping up in age, phasing out the estate tax (although I doubt we had much to worry about there) could also come in handy for this middle class family.  I've seen a number of on-line commentaries claiming that unfettered inheritance is just another form of "white privilege" as it keeps family wealth from being chipped away by government for "re-distribution".

As an added bonus, the 401(k) tax-free status was retained--following my complaint about that a couple of weeks ago.  So further responsible planning for retirement and less reliance on Social Security and Medicare will not be punished either.  Sometimes the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

So while all of the focus will be on the top ten percent of wage-earners in this country--who won't be paying 53% of the taxes anymore--remember there are plenty of us in the middle who will end up winner as well--after decades of paying more than we should have.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

We Are Becoming the Prisoners

Ben Franklin once wrote: Those that would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.  Those words come to mind every time we have a terror attack of some sort and "TV experts" start listing all of the security measures we should take to prevent the same thing from happening again.

After this week's truck attack in New York City, the recommendations have been to build giant barricades to protect biking trails and sidewalks all across the country.  Some have even suggested checking the federal terror watch list before renting vehicles to people.  Try to imagine the car rental counters in the Orlando airport as every middle-aged American man goes through the same security process as TSA before they are allowed to get on the shuttle to pick up their Ford Taurus for the week (because we wouldn't want to put just "certain people" under such extra scrutiny--that would be "unfair").

It's no coincidence that the security measures we continue to adopt in society have their roots in the realm of corrections.  Walk-thru metal detectors were first used in prisons to prevent inmates from sneaking weapons back to their cells.  Passcard door systems were first used in jails to eliminate the need for guards to all carry keyrings--and to allow for certain doors to remain locked--even with a card--in an emergency situation.  "Perimeter security" has been a hallmark of prison construction since we started locking up the bad guys--as much to keep people in as it was to keep people out.

So how much temporary security are we going to purchase?  Already, if you walk down the street in a major American city, cameras are identifying you and providing police information on your location.  You are already treated as a potential terrorism suspect every time you try to board an airplane.  We are spending billions--perhaps trillions of dollars to "secure" any building, event or landmark that we think might be a "target".

The more barricades, fences, concrete posts, security posts, metal detectors and surveillance cameras we put up in the mistaken belief that it is making us more "secure", the more "Liberty" we surrender.  And who is ultimately the winner in that scenario?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Not A Whole Lotta Planning Going On

I have to give credit to the Oshkosh Common Council for knowing how to build drama, they made us sit through two full days of lengthy budget review before getting to the issue of Lakeshore Golf Course.  Lakeshore was literally the last budget item discussed on Tuesday afternoon--and it was actually kind of a sad exercise.  The course superintendent talked about some replacement equipment they will need next year.  Pro Trace Gardner expressed confidence that he could double the size of our Tuesday night match play league next season.  And when it was done, nobody on the Council asked a single question--because they realized it was just a dog and pony show.

Of course, once the golf course and parks folks were gone, then the questions were raised--particularly what do you do with a million dollar budget item that gets eliminated after the budget is adopted?  One thing that municipal budgets do not feature is a lot of flexibility.  Shifting money around and spending designated funds on items that were never included in the original package tends to make auditors and analysts nervous.

Which is why the budget's total lack of any provisions for the sale of Lakeshore in 2018--and subsequent large-scale infrastructure construction costs--also did not go unnoticed.  Three million dollars in revenue and eight million in expenditures are a big deal--but not even a "provisional budget item" was included in either the parks, public works, capital improvement projects, or TIF district budgets. 

Of course, $3-million is what we think the city should get for the Lakeshore property--but Tuesday's investors' conference call for the Oshkosh Corporation casts some doubt on that.  Kudos to the guy from the investment firm that asked about the new Oshkosh headquarters while I was live on the air and unable to join the call in person.  Chief Financial Officer Dave Sagehorn said that the company has not budgeted any money for construction in 2018.  CEO Wilson Jones also assured investors that the new HQ project is going to be "cost neutral"--meaning the expenses for the project will likely equal what they are currently paying to rent out office space all around Oshkosh--and to maintain their old building.

So here's my takeaway from the snippets of information that we were provided this week: Oshkosh Corp doesn't expect to pay a lot for their gleaming new home on the banks of the Fox River--and the City doesn't want us to know yet that they are going to give away that site for a mere pittance.  And maybe Trace will be right about 80-guys playing in that Tuesday night league for one more season.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Isn't Real Baseball

There is talk among the "experts" that this year's World Series may re-kindle America's love of baseball.  Social media has been abuzz the past week with exclamations of disbelief as nearly every game has seen huge scoring and momentum swings and late inning rallies--not to mention a record number of home runs.  And yet here I am--a diehard baseball fan--and I am disgusted by what I have seen.

This has not been great baseball.  What we have seen so far in the World Series is some combination of T-Ball, Home Run Derby and a video game set on a level that is too easy.  A 13-12 score between what are supposed to be the two best teams in the sport in a championship series is embarrassing.  Both managers have so badly-handled their pitching staffs that no starters can make it past the fourth inning--but no one coming in from the bullpen can get anyone out.  Perhaps they have decided to over-strategize the pitching in these playoffs, since the only thing they have to worry about on the offensive side is who is going to hit the next three run home run.

Now buzz is building about this being the "Greatest World Series Ever"--which really makes me mad.  The list of "Greatest World Series Ever" begins with the 1991 Twins-Braves classic and ends with the nearly as good 1975 tilt between Cincinnati and Boston.  The 1991 Series will almost be impossible to beat as it featured five, 1-run games, three that went to extra innings, a dramatic walk off homer in game six by Kirby Puckett (cue Jack Buck "AND WE WILL SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT!!") and dominant pitching performances by John Smoltz for Atlanta and Jack Morris of Minnesota in Game 7--who pitched all ten innings to pick up the win.  Because offense was at such a premium in that series, every pitch was gut-wrenching drama and just getting a runner into scoring position ramped that up even higher.  And the thought that Morris or any of the great Braves pitchers were going to come out at the first sign of trouble after the third inning was absurd. 

And as for 1975, the heroics performed by nine Hall of Famers on the two teams was the stuff of legend--featuring Carlton Fisk's 12th inning homer that he waved fair off the foul pole over the Green Monster to conclude the greatest baseball game ever played--and Joe Morgan's incredibly clutch performance in Game 7 to bring Cincinnati from behind in the 9th and continue the Curse of the Bambino for another 30-years.

Unfortunately, ratings for this World Series are up considerably--as Millenials alerted to the craziness unfolding that night tune in on all of their devices to check out a video game come alive (although nowhere near the numbers for the 1991 Series).  And those ratings equal dollar signs to MLB owners, who are likely thinking of ways to make every regular season game starting next year 13-12 with 15 pitching changes--and five hour game times.  Before you know it, pitchers will be throwing underhand--and there will be a keg out a second base.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thank You For Your Service

The couple in the row ahead of us got up about an hour and 15-minutes into it Saturday night.  I knew they weren't just going to the bathroom or going to get a refill on their drink--you don't take your coats with you if you plan on coming back.  I'll be honest, I was tempted to go with them as what I had been seeing was flat out pissing me off--and I almost couldn't take it anymore.  And I'm just talking about watching a movie here.

My wife and I went to see Thank You For Your Service--which is based on the true-life experiences of three Iraq War veterans that struggled to cope with their return to civilian life in 2007.  If you think that this is a standard war movie where the Americans come out the heroes or die valiantly while trying to save freedom you are in for a big surprise.  Instead, this is a dark portrayal of how we as a country have failed those who have fought for us since 2001.

Denial of psychological issues by military commanders, the overloaded and inefficient VA system and even the failures of support networks at home make you feel as frustrated as the characters on the screen who just want to get some help for the experiences that haunt them.  And then they start taking these dark turns that make you feel even worse for them--and that give you some insight into why returning soldiers have such high rates of suicide.

Because the stars of this movie are unknowns to me, it felt more like they were the men they portrayed.  If Adam Driver had been up there it would have seemed fake--"Hey, Kylo Ren fought in Iraq".  And because the characters aren't famous military heroes, there was never that assurance of knowing how this is going to end.

I would like to think that Thank You For Your Service is going to serve as a turning point in our treatment of returning vets.  But considering there were fewer than 20-people in the showing with my wife and me--and two of them left halfway through--I doubt it's going to capture much of the public's attention.  There was a seventh Saw movie to see and fifty different combinations of superheroes to put into films throughout the holiday season that everyone would much rather see. 

Nobody wants to be made uncomfortable anymore.  Or made to think about what our priorities really should be.  You know, the title is perfect as well--because "thank you for your service" has become the automatic response to finding out someone has served their country.  But are we really showing them appreciation?


Friday, October 27, 2017

Bursting the Conspiracy Bubble

Researchers and production assistants at all of the major news outlets had probably better cancel their weekend plans.  The National Archives are supposed to release all of the "secret files" the Government has been holding on the Kennedy assassination today.  Those poor reporters will now have to spend the next 72-hours pouring over transcripts of questioning sessions conducted by federal investigators,typed reports of "tips" that came into law enforcement across the country, ballistics reports, witness statements, travel records, internal memos and phone records--all in search of "proof" that JFK's death was the result of a conspiracy, and not an act of one idiot.

The release of the materials today is actually a direct result of Oliver Stone's movie JFK back in the 1990's--which led to a renewed interest in assassination conspiracy theories.  He led millions of Americans to believe that the Government knew what really happened--and that because it would "threaten the power structure in Washington", evidence was being covered up.  So to appease the masses, there was an agreement to release all archive documents in 2017.

So now it will be the job this weekend of those researchers and PA's to find that proof.  To somehow link together a tip here, a plane ticket receipt there and a witness statement in another file to prove that the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro, the mob, the CIA, the FBI, the Dallas Police Department and the nebulous "Military Industrial Complex" all colluded to kill President Kennedy for the combined reasons of blocking Soviet missles in Cuba, revenge for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, cracking down on organized crime, promoting civil rights and not wanting to step up military intervention in Vietnam.  That was the reason that Oliver Stone and his conspiracy theorists wanted us to believe, right?

Here is what all of the documents that will be released today will show: that the Federal Government and other law enforcement wasted a whole lot of money, time and resources on a wild goose chase trying to support the cockamamie conspiracy theories.  We will find out that entire departments at the FBI and CIA were dedicated to re-examining all communications between Moscow, Havana and Washington in the years before November of 1963 to see if there were any "hidden instructions" on carrying out the plot to kill Kennedy.  We will probably learn a lot more about every single person that Lee Harvey Oswald ever met in his entire life, where he bought everything he owned, and where he had been every minute for the ten years before getting that job at the Texas Book Depository.

And once we finish up going through all of those records we will find that there is NO credible evidence at all to support a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.  But rather than finally put this to rest, all today's release of records will do is fuel a new demand to release "the real evidence that the Government is obviously still hiding". 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

If It's Brown, It's Down

What is it with Wisconsin and being in a hurry to establish a hunting season for every animal or bird that populates this state?  Yesterday, the state Natural Resources Board gave the DNR permission to start drafting rules for an elk hunt--even though the elk population hasn't hit the goal for starting a hunting season. 

When the state started buying elk from Kentucky to transplant in northwestern Wisconsin, they said that there would be no hunting until 300 elk were roaming the area.  That was a protection for the species, as enough would be left after hunting season to re-populate.  Right now, there are an estimated 240 elk in Wisconsin--or about twenty percent fewer than what the DNR said it was going to need to start hunting them.  But now, the department can't wait that long and they want to start selling hunting licenses.

This mirrors the DNR's reaction to the removal--albeit temporary--of the gray wolf form the endangered species list.  I think it took about two seconds from the Federal decision to be announced to the Department drafting rules to hunt wolves in Wisconsin.  As someone who had the "endangered resources" wolf license plates on my Jeep for years, I was offended that the animals that my extra registration fee were going to protect, were now going to be fair game for every deer hunter harboring a grudge.

Are there not enough other hunting options in Wisconsin that as soon as there is one more animal than is necessary to guarantee the continuance of a species we need to have a new hunting season for it?  We already have seasons for deer, bear, coyotes, rabbits, foxes, mink, weasles, beavers, muskrats, raccoons, opussum, skunks, ducks, geese, turkeys, morning doves, grouse and pheasants.  There's even a couple more species you can shoot with a special permit if they become a nuisance on your property.  And yet, the DNR feels it needs to start hunting elk before their pre-determined goal is even met.

A few days ago I talked about possible replacements for "America's Dairyland" on our license plates.  I guess I forgot "If It's Brown, It's Down".

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Not Quite What It Should Be

I know it will be nice to have professional basketball here in Oshkosh starting next month, but to me, the NBA G-League is still not what it should be.  Just looking at the Wisconsin Herd roster, you see its filled with a couple of guys that we can expect to play with the Bucks for spot duty this year (in fact, Gary Payton, Junior has already been recalled to the big club due to an injury to Malcolm Brogdon) along with undrafted college guys and a few NBA training camp cuts. 

What the G-League should be is the solution to the one-and-done corruption of college basketball.  Currently, NBA rules prohibit drafting a player until he is one year past his high school graduation.  Because those guys can't play in the G-League either, they end up attending the minimum number of classes required by the NCAA to remain eligible for the first semester at a college basketball power, then attend no classes the second semester and leave school completely after the NCAA Tournament to prepare for the draft.  Their being considered "student-athletes" is a complete sham--and prestigious universities lower both their standards and their reputations bending over backwards to accommodate them just for the sake of athletic glory.

But if the NBA lifted its age requirement, those guys (along with other talented players without the academic acumen to even stay eligible for one semester in college) could be drafted--and if they aren't ready for the big time, they can work on their games in the G-League and get paid--by both the parent club and by the shoe companies (solving another pox upon college basketball).  That way college hoops can return to teams made up of kids that actually want to be in school.

Would opening the G-League to all high school grads (or at least those who reach 18-years old--and may not have even bothered to graduate) reduce the talent level of college basketball?  It probably would.  But college teams that have been together for three or four years would play better ball than the McDonald's All American team of freshmen that Kentucky hoops has been putting out there the last decade.  And keep in mind, college basketball fans won't care--because the name on the FRONT of the jersey is far more important to them than the names on the BACK of the jersey.

I don't know if the NBA would ever go that route, as higly-touted prospects would likely demand more money to play in the G-League than the retreads currently filling those rosters.  It's far too convenient and cheap to use the NCAA as a free farm system for the top line young players.  But it sure would fix a lot of problems plaguing the sport in the so-called "amateur ranks".  Now if we could just get the NFL to part with a few million from its coffers to start a professional minor league too....