Sunday, April 30, 2006

Green the Victim of a Wikipedia Drive-By

I admit, I use Wikipedia as much as anyone. It's a quick way to get a Cliff's Notes version of virtually any topic you want. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've linked to it on numerous occasions.

The downside, of course, is that in order for the site to house that much information, it has to be supplied by individuals that may or may not have a vested interest in the given topic. Anyone can go in and alter a Wikipedia entry, which opens up the possibility for malfeasance.

As a test, I decided to go check out the Wikipedia entries for a couple of local politicians. I first started with Mark Green, and almost fell out of my chair laughing at this entry:

Green, the son of Jeremy and Elizabeth Green, was raised in South Africa. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1983. After college, he joined the military but dropped out after five days of service.

Green served for six years in the Wisconsin State Assembly before being elected to the House in 1998. He was selected by Rep. Tom DeLay to serve as part of his political operation as an Assistant Majority Whip, a position he still holds.

Green and his wife, Susan, live in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They have three children. Besides serving in Congress, Green also derives income through his ownership of several units of low income housing.
So according to Wikipedia, Mark Green is a draft-dodging slumlord joined at the hip to Tom DeLay. His entry, which some people actually might take seriously, has obviously been "massaged" by some dem operatives to become a hit piece against him.

Contrast that to Jim Doyle's entry: (my emphasis in italics)

James Edward Doyle (born November 23, 1945) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. He took office in January 2003 as the 44th and current Governor of Wisconsin. He defeated incumbent Governor Scott McCallum by a margin of 45% to 41%, a plurality reduced by the relative success of a third party candidate, Ed Thompson, the Libertarian candidate.
There you go - your built-in excuse for why Doyle only got 45% - it was Ed Thompson's fault!

Doyle attended Stanford University for three years, then returned home to Madison to finish his senior year at UW-Madison. After graduating from college and inspired by John F. Kennedy’s call to public service, Doyle worked as a teacher in Africa as part of the Peace Corps.
Blaaaaahhhhhhh...... (the sound of me barfing)

In 1972, Doyle earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard University. Doyle then moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Chinle, Arizona, where he worked as an attorney in a federal legal services office.
It is on the reservation where Doyle formed a strong friendship with Chief Soft Money, who vowed to bankroll his campaigns henceforth.

Doyle was elected Wisconsin Attorney General in 1990, and reelected in 1994 and 1998. Between 1997-1998, he served as the president of the National
Association of Attorneys General
. During his twelve years as Attorney General, Doyle was considered tough on crime, but not unsympathetic to its causes. He also gained recognition through several successful lawsuits against tobacco companies in
the state.

Governor McCallum inherited a state with a $2.8 billion budget deficit. In 2003, McCallum signed a budget-repair bill that traded most of a long-term return from the state’s $1.6 billion tobacco settlement for a one-time lump sum that fixed the deficit for a year but didn’t provide the necessary long-term solutions. He then spent all of the money in an attempt to balance the budget in under one year.

While McCallum didn't cause the state's deficit, he was accused of not creating long-term solutions for the state and poor decision making. Doyle seized McCallum's faults and brought them to the surface in his 2002 campaign, accusing him of fiscal mismanagement.

With Doyle's election, alongside Barbara Lawton, his Lieutenant Governor, nearly all of Wisconsin's statewide offices are now held by Democrats. Both of the state's U.S. Senators, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Attorney General and the Secretary of State are all Democrats. This was a blow to the state Republican party, which has long controlled the assembly and won the state senate the very night Doyle was elected governor.

As Governor, Doyle has made investing in public schools, support for regional economic development, transportation reform, and funding of scientific pursuits such as stem cell research his major programs. However, with a GOP-controlled state legislature, Doyle has had difficulties turning many of his plans into actions. Doyle has vetoed over 100 bills.

So there you have it - a ridiculous lit piece served up for the Doyle campaign via Wikipedia. After reading that, I demand a recount in last year's Papal election - Jim Doyle is obviously infallible. It's pretty clear Doyle's campaign team took a while to write it, so it's worth the read. Doyle cares for minorities, he sees both sides of the crime issue, the budget deficit is all the Republicans' fault, etc.

I would just hope that someone at the GOP or Green campaign is paying attention and corrects a lot of this nonsense. In the end, it won't make a bit of difference, but I demand to be entertained by the creative editing I expect to see over the next few months.

And if you needed any more evidence about how little credibility Wikipedia has, check out this entry for The Iron Sheik, and scroll all the way down to the bottom. No, a little further down. There you go - there it is.

UPDATE: It seems in the few hours since I posted this, someone removed my Iron Sheik post from the links on his Wikipedia site (it was there for a couple months). It was there, you'll just have to take my word for it.

DOUBLE SECRET UPDATE: The same person who identified themselves as "Miss Piggy" in my comments section was the same person who removed my Iron Sheik post from the Wikipedia page (the IP addresses match). They believed it was a "political smear." This, ironically, after they essentially called me a crybaby. Looks like it is back now, though - honestly, I don't care if it is there or not.

Also looks like there is some action at the Doyle and Green pages. To keep up to date, check the "History" links for both Doyle and Green to see what people are adding and subtracting.

Employers Beware

So you know when you're in a job interview and they ask the stupid question "what is your biggest weakness?" And you have to come up with some completely bogus answer, like "I work too hard," or "I'm too dedicated to my job" or some BS like that?

This weekend I figured out that I am terrible at gauging the correct amount of ranch dressing I need for whatever I plan on dipping into it. Whether it be chicken wings, pizza crust, or chicken strips, I always put way too much ranch into the cup I'm using, which means I end up wasting about four ounces of perfectly good dressing.

So there you have it, prospective employers. I have now come up with my answer. So there's really no need to ask it anymore.

"Elimidate" and the Fall of Civilization

Although I spent most of my weekend mesmerized by the NFL Draft, I had the good fortune to catch a special one hour "Elimidate" on Saturday night. As a result, I may not be posting at all for the next week, as I will be in the shower scrubbing myself clean until next Saturday. I think I can say without hyperbole that Eliminate will lead to the fall of civilization.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of watching an Elimidate episode, it goes something like this:

A musclehead doused in equal parts hair product and self-tanner goes on a date with four women who are growing more bacteria than the UW biological science lab. These scantily clad women feign interest in this complete dope for a chance to be on TV, ripping each others' appearance, weight, hygiene, etc. in an attempt to gain more screen time. The producers, of course, throw in plenty of alcohol, which makes for a highly combustible cocktail of tattoos, bad teeth, sexual double entendres, and a shocking paucity of dignity and college degrees. In the end, he has to pick between this collection of future single mothers, based almost entirely on who has the best jugs.

It's almost like porn, except it's a lot worse, since there's a lot of talking and no nudity.

The main problem with the show is that it completely goes against human nature. Anyone who has ever studied male/female relations knows that men are in constant competition for women. There are actually anthropological roots to this - something about men having an infinite number of sperm and women only having a finite number of eggs, so women are much more in demand. Sounds crazy, but I actually took a class in college on it - look it up.

There has never been a situation where four women are all after the same (non-famous) guy. There are plenty of situations where a bunch of guys are after the same girl (and some of the shows are one girl and a bunch of guys). For men to be able to get any woman they want, they either have to be Brad Pitt or an anonymous blogger. OK, scratch the last one. Of course, every woman has figured out that all they need to possess to get any man they want is an Altoid and about 3 minutes.

I look forward to seeing my next episode of Elimidate just a little less than I look forward to the death of my puppy dog. The good news about the show is that all of these contemptible people live in Los Angeles (the birthplace of 90% of everything that is objectionable in the world), so they can continue to infect each other with whatever groundbreaking venereal science projects they contract.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gladwell on Eyewitness Testimony

I know I'm probably going overboard with my Malcolm Gladwell reading suggestions, but I really enjoyed his take on an aspect of the Duke Lacrosse "scandal" that I hadn't really considered. It would be nice if any news outlet actually delved into these interesting details, but it really is too much to ask, apparently.

Anyway, Gladwell cites studies that show how challenging the use of eyewitness testimony can be. Surprisingly, eyewitness testimony becomes less reliable when it crosses racial lines:

But the Duke case is an example of another, even more problematic aspect of eyewitness identifications, and that is that we aren’t particular good at making them across races. There is a huge amount of psychological research in their area, pioneered by Roy Malpass at the University of Texas at El Paso. A few years ago, John Brigham and Christian Meissner did a big meta-analysis of all of the cross-racial identification studies and concluded that given the task of picking someone out of a lineup, the average person is something like 1.4 times more likely to correctly identify an own-race face than a different-race face, and 1.6 times more likely to incorrectly identify a different race face. These are not trivial error rates. Clearly we need to treat cross-racial identifications with a special level of caution.

Read the rest. And while you're there, read his insightful post on Barry Bonds, and how statistical analysis alone can help us figure out who's cheating in the future.

Who's Up for a Last Minute Art Museum Run?

Nice job by Michael Horne at MilwaukeeWorld of picking up the police report on the recent traffic stop of State Senator Tim Carpenter:

They had observed the vehicle driving on the shoulder for half mile or so andthought it struck the median wall. I observed the vehicle SE CTH F LL. The driver of the vehicle leaned to the right and totally disappear from sight on two occasions. During these times he deviated and came near to striking vehicles around him. The callers were trying to box him in, but he got around them. I activated lts and siren. Vehicle stopped RS at Golf Rd. WI DL going to Chicago for art exhibit that closes at 5 and needed his I-Pass and was looking for it and his cell fell and he had to look for that and there were other items on the passenger side he was trying to organize.

“He was doing everything but driving the car.”
Now we know why Democrats oppose having to show your driver's license to vote. By the end of the year, none of them will have one.

A Personal Plea to E-mailers

I might support the TPA if they can amend it to ban anyone else from sending me the "Woman Drivers" e-mail with the picture of the car with the gas nozzle sticking out of the side. Enough already, we get it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Feingold Demands Investigation Into Who Farted

Washington (AP) - The U.S. Senate took a dramatic turn today as a lunchtime Taco Bell run in Senator Russ Feingold's car was poisoned by a toxic anal cloud. It is still unclear who released the rancid fart, with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) riding shotgun and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in the back seat.

"Whoever is responsible for that atrocity should be held accountable," said Feingold, as he took a bite of his steak Grilled Stuft Burrito. Feingold immediately had his staff look into whether a large intestine has been ever been censured. It only appears that Senator Jacob Welsh Miller's beard was censured in 1802 for accepting numerous bribes.

Unnamed sources close to the situation have reported that Obama is most likely the responsible party. However, no senator was willing to finger the freshman senator from Illinois as the culprit. "If we blamed him, he'd just play the race card," said Lautenberg. "What he needs to do is play the 'race to the bathroom' card, because it smells like a woodchuck died in his colon," added Lautenberg.

"It was totally Obama," said Landrieu, who immediately phoned in a report of Centox Nerve Gas to the Department of Homeland Security. When told that Centox gas only existed on the popular television show "24," Landrieu immediately suspected Obama. "I saw him giggling back in the corner while he pulled his shirt over his nose," she said.

It appears that Obama was invoking a little-known legislative maneuver known as "hot boxing," in which a legislator rolls all the windows of the car up before flatulence occurs. This tactic, also known as the "Dutch oven," apparently was first employed by Senator Henry Clay in 1830, which earned him the nickname "Old Rotten Ass."

Republicans immediately pounced on the revelation, with Sam Brownback (R-KS) relating an unfortunate recent encounter with Obama. "We were working late one night, and he tried to give me a cup of 'F'", said Brownback, referring to a little-known tactic where the perpetrator "cups" a fart in their hand and delivers it directly to the face of the victim. Brownback claims he got his revenge the next day when he rubbed Crisco on Obama's office doorknob, followed by passing a bill declaring Illinois "Kansas' bitch."

Hearings are set to begin on the controversy in May.

WEAC: Spending Money on Education Bad for Education

I read with amusement Xoff's post deriding the "65% Solution," a proposed bill that would require school districts to spend 65% of their funds on in-class activities. According to First Class Education, a national group pushing for similar legislation around the U.S., only 60% of public school funds are spent in the classroom in Wisconsin. Enacting the legislation would move about $250 million more into the classroom without raising taxes, according to the bill's authors.

Democrats apparently think this is a terrible idea. Never mind that the bill could lead to better pay and benefits for school teachers. But I absolutely cannot wait for the public debate where Democrats try to convince taxpayers that 65 cents of every dollar they spend on schools is way too much to spend in the classroom. I am craving a Jim Doyle press release in which he tells voters that Wisconsin needs to keep spending 40% of its total school budgets on things that have nothing to do with educating kids.

More importantly, WEAC, the state's largest teacher's union, has registered its opposition to the bill (SB668). Now why would an organization that is supposed to improve the pay and benefits for teachers oppose a bill that would improve the pay and benefits for teachers?

Clearly, WEAC has made a determination that it is better to beg for more money rather than slice up the current pie differently. As long as they have been in existence, they simply have equated more total school funding with student achievement (although despite revenue caps on school districts being in place over a decade, Wisconsin is still tops in the nation in ACT scores). In this regard, WEAC actually has some solidarity with the School Boards Association and School Administrators Association, with whom they are often at odds.

However, this alliance has one downside - it spectacularly demonstrates that WEAC really doesn't have the interests of its members at heart. All that nonsense about representing teachers is a complete fraud. WEAC is all about getting Democrats elected, and when a Republican-proposed bill comes along that will help their membership, they feign contempt for it, when their own members will be the ultimate losers. Passing the 65% solution now would be a big talking point for Republicans heading into the election, which WEAC couldn't stomach, despite the benefits to its membership.

Remember when Republicans were pushing for teachers to have the option of entering the state health insurance pool? This budget provision would have had the effect of providing identical health insurance to teachers at a much lower cost to school districts, which could have pumped that money right back into higher teacher salaries or hiring more teachers (as current law requires they do). You may recall that 78% of school districts in the state are insured by WEA Trust, the private insurance arm of WEAC, on a no-competitive bidding basis.

Statistics show that health insurance premiums for contracts negotiated by the state's Department of Employee Trust Funds rose at a significantly lower level than those premiums offered by WEA Trust (10.5% to 15%). In 2002, WEA Trust raised insurance premiums on its own members by 20.1% from 2001, while other state employers only saw a 12.4% increase. 2003 was even worse, with WEA Trust raising rates 30.4% on their members, while other state employee premiums increased by only 10%.

So why would WEAC be raising insurance rates on their own members? They simply wanted to force a crisis on the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) and really put the screws to school districts to lobby for its repeal. Since school districts that offer a QEO to their teachers by law cannot change their health insurance, WEA Trust has a monopoly on these districts and can raise rates on them as much as they want without fear of losing their business.

Of course, WEAC lobbied heavily against opening school district health insurance up to competitive bidding, and they got what they wanted in a Jim Doyle budget veto. So school districts will continue to pay more than they have to for health insurance to protect the union, thereby leaving less money for teacher salaries (incidentally, this pits older teachers that rely heavily on the health benefits against younger, healthier, teachers who would prefer the higher pay. Of course, it is usually the older teachers that are union activists).

Anyone who thinks WEAC is anything more than a partisan campaign machine is kidding themselves. When it comes down to partisanship versus helping their own members, they'll throw teachers under the bus. Keep that in mind as they continue to oppose spending more money in the classroom.

The Real Enemy of Civil Rights

People valiantly trying to improve relations among the races should really be peeved at this guy. In this one rap video, he has personally set race relations back 20 years.

There is so much wrong with this, I can't even begin to describe it.

What would I ever do if I had friends that actually did any work?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Public TV Trademarks Minorities

Welcome to the world of cyberspace, where things might not always be what they seem. At least I hope that's the case with a comment that I received on this post from last Friday.

The post, entitled "MPS Boys Score #1 in Nation on Female Anatomy Tests," was an attempt to poke fun at the ridiculous new program in Milwaukee Public Schools that will provide free wireless internet to students and teachers in their homes. The picture accompanying the post featured two African-American boys doing what young boys of any color would do with free internet - looking at salacious websites.

It appears that "Art Hackett" had a problem with the post. In his comment, he wrote:
Warning: Severe rant ahead.

In my home state of Texas a dummied up photo like this would be the product of someone else who remained anonymous. Except they would hide under a pointy white hood instead of a sock puppet. The goal in that case would have been to get these two boys lynched. I presume your target is a school board member, the head of the state teacher's union, or maybe some education professor. Lord knows the Milwaukee Public Schools have problems. But people of all political stripes have been trying to fix those problems with some success. But I've been looking at this photo for three days now and I just couldn't stomach it any longer.

Art Hackett 04.23.06 - 6:05 pm #

Art Hackett, as none of you know, is a "reporter" who has worked for Wisconsin Public Television for 24 years, according to his bio. Now this being the internet, I have no idea whether it was actually Art Hackett who posted that comment or not. It's perfectly possible that it's someone with a grudge against Hackett trying to provoke me into going nuclear on him. I don't really know, but I'm actually willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't post something so offensively stupid.

But for argument's sake, let's say Art Hackett really is that detached from reality. Let's say that he thinks coming after me for a completely inoffensive, race-neutral joke post is more important than actually taking on the difficult issues that are killing MPS, like fatherless homes and gang violence.

First of all, someone needs to tell Hackett that MPS is 60% African-American, 20% Hispanic, and only about 16% caucasian. If he ever drove his little Prius to Milwaukee, he might know that. The truly strange thing would have been if I tried to represent typical MPS boys by using a picture of white kids, which apparently would have been just okay with him. How dare I ascribe the same characteristics to black kids that are inherent in every white kid? (I used to be a white kid; I know.)

Secondly, the post itself makes no mention of race, and ridicules the policy, not the students. When an idiotic policy to spend a half a million dollars in MPS to give students free internet, it doesn't hurt white kids. It hurts minority kids, who, given the abysmal graduation rate in MPS, seem to need all the classroom resources they can get. But I guess the fact that I was advocating for a change to help African-American kids get a better hands-on education seems to Hackett that I was advocating their "lynching."

Hackett, of course, is one of these lefties who is all for an honest debate on race until an honest debate actually occurs, in which case you're a KKK member if you're not on his side. He's the type of guy who advocates for a color blind society, but sees race in everything. It makes him sleep better on his little publicly-funded pillow when he thinks he has the answers to racial inequity, when centuries of our best thinkers haven't been able to come up with workable solutions. Isn't it funny that you can be fired for being a racist, but get to keep your cozy public job when you go around falsely accusing people of being racists?

So I apologize if Hackett can't "stomach" pictures of black people. Surely, he sent an angry e-mail to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel just today when they chose to run a picture of a 9-year old African-American student in an article about school choice.

That is, of course, if it is Art Hackett. I guess we'll soon find out.

In the interest of helping Hackett overcome his fear of pictures of black people, I have decided to perform a public service and post a sample photo of one of my favorites.

UPDATE: It appears that Xoff has bought into this nonsense, too. Let's just give all the lefties their sensitivity award and be done with it.

I also appreciate Dan Knauss' spirited opposition to interracial relationships, as he is aware of "the history of fear and violence among white people incensed by any remotely sexual interest a black male might have in a white female." I should probably call my African-American brother in law and tell him that he and my sister shouldn't go out in public together because it might feed into a stereotype of dominant black sexuality. Maybe I should tell my biracial nephew that he's the product of a relationship that offends sensitive liberals and feeds the hatred of bigots.

Of course, my choice of picture was completely arbitrary. Had I chosen a black woman, I would be accused of portraying black women in a negative light. Of course, he didn't think my post about Russ Feingold boning Geena Davis was all that objectionable when he linked to it a couple of months ago (an it was, by any standard, more objectionable.)

Prime Business Space Available in About 3 Months

Driving by the the west end of the UW-Madison Campus yesterday, I noticed a couple new businesses had moved into the space formerly inhabited by Luther's Blues. Looks like there's a Subway and a copy shop there now.

That particular location has always been cursed - there's no parking, and it's in a really awkward spot right in between two of Madison's busiest city streets. It's a game of Frogger just to get there. Way back in the day, there was a McDonald's there that had to close down. Seriously, how often do you see a McDonald's close? That's how bad the location is.

So I don't know if the owners of these two new businesses are aware of what they're getting into, but they have a huge mountain to climb. They could be from out of town and think it's a prime location without knowing how businesses turn over there every couple of months.

This is like Christmas dinner at your extended family's house. There's always the one new guy that shows up with your old, crazy, alcoholic, chain-smoking aunt. It's no coincidence that she brings a different guy every holiday. You want to pull the guy to the side and tell him to get out now, but in some respects, he has to learn his own lesson. Plus, he might be the one guy that can finally stick with her. And if he is, we should send him to negotiate a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, because the man clearly has something special.

So I hope those new businesses are finally the ones that make an honest woman of that building, but I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wasted Weekend

Completely wasted this weekend. Mostly dicking around with my guitar.

I am a terrible guitar player. Every now and then I pick it up, record about 10 little bits and pieces (never a whole song), then put it down for a few weeks. All of these pieces of songs will remain on my hard drive until I die, at which time they will be uncovered and embarrass me from the grave.

If you wish to torture your senses, feel free to listen here and here. Couple of mess-ups, but I generally think of these things, record them 5 minutes later, then never listen to them again. Song title suggestions are welcome.

I also watched "Dog Day Afternoon" on Friday night, since these are the important details about my life that you absolutely must know. Seemed topical, since Pacino's character invokes the Attica prison riots (where police and corrections officers killed 40 inmates) to turn the crowd against the police on the scene. Seems to mirror the anti-cop sentiment in Milwaukee these days with the Jude beating verdict.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

MPS Boys Score #1 in Nation on Female Anatomy Tests

Milwaukee (AP) - Thanks to a new program that provides free wireless internet service in the homes of all Milwaukee Public School students, MPS boys have become instant experts in female anatomy, tests show. "The new program has provided previously disadvantaged boys the opportunity to develop their minds, their research skills, and the muscles in their right wrists," said MPS Superintendent William Andrekopoulos.

"At first, I thought I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, but now I know I can make a good living as a gynecologist," said Herman Johnson, 11. Johnson's mother has said that Herman now spends all of his time locked in his room, rather than partaking in his favorite hobby of throwing bricks at his brother.

Aaron Jenkins, 16, said his guidance counselor told him he was on track to earn his GED and get a good job in manufacturing before the new free internet program was instituted. "Now, it looks like I'll have enough credits to earn my 'Booty Inspector' degree from an offshore school in just a couple weeks," said Jenkins.

"The free wireless internet program is perfect for everyone, especially the poor who don't even have computers," said MPS director of technology James Davis. "Studies have shown that just having the internet hooked up to your house makes you much smarter than either reading books or having two parents," said Davis. "It makes total sense to set up wireless internet for people who don't even have enough money to pay for a phone line, and saying that doesn't make me look like a complete idiot at all," said Davis.

In an independent test, MPS boys were able to describe the female anatomy in great detail after just one week of having the valuable educational tool in their homes. However, only one in twelve boys were aware females had any body parts above the "shoulders" or below the "knees." 96% of the boys thought women were born with high heels and cigarette burns, while another 80% of the boys believed they were going blind.

The test results come as good news to a school district besieged by one of the nation's lowest graduation rates. "This is a half a million dollars well spent, given our tight budget," said Andrekopoulos. "We tried the whole 'teachers and books' thing for a while, but it was hard because a lot of the students couldn't read or write," he said. "What's the point in giving a kid a book if he can't read it?" he added.

The only boy to score poorly on the test, of course, is your son, who has bookmarked Cher's Wikipedia entry on your computer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Doyle's Freeze Flip Flop

What a difference an election makes.

In 2003, legislative Republicans passed what they termed a "property tax freeze," in an effort to keep slumping state revenue from being passed on to local taxpayers. As legislators were required to cut state spending (much of it that is allocated to local governments and school districts), they placed caps on local governments to make sure that the lost local revenue wasn't made up for with property taxes.

Throughout the budget process, Doyle derided talk of a property tax freeze as a "gimmick," and "bumper sticker politics." When the bill came to his desk, he promptly vetoed all of the property tax caps, allowing local taxes to go up an average of 9%.

The following are some Doyle quotes relating to the 2003 freeze:

"The so-called 'freeze' was nothing more than a political gimmick -- it was an arbitrary cap that did nothing to attack the root causes and help control costs," Doyle said. "Instead of Madison telling local government what is best for them, I want to work as partners to solve the problem together." - Capital Times, October 8, 2003

"But I believe there are enough people in the Legislature who, when confronted with the choice of whether they're really going to attack public education in Wisconsin, are going to stand up for our kids." - Capital Times, July 30, 2003

In a move that sets the stage for a major confrontation with the Republican controlled Legislature, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle today vetoed a plan to impose a three-year property tax freeze on local governments.Doyle called the proposal an "unfair and irresponsible mandate." - Capital Times, July 24, 2003

After weeks of dismissing it as a "gimmick" and "bumper-sticker politics," Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to veto a Republican plan to limit property tax increases when he signs the state budget today. - Wisconsin State Journal, July 24, 2003

"I think that's just a political gimmick," Doyle said of the freeze plan. - Wisconsin State Journal, June 4, 2004

The limits to state government spending, which Doyle derided as a "gimmick…" - The Daily Reporter, June 5, 2003
Fast forward to 2005. The state budget is once again being put together with limited funds and once again the Legislature is concerned about shifting the tax burden to property taxes. With an election looming in front of him, Doyle suddenly softens his rhetoric on the concept of a "freeze." When the budget hits his desk, he utilizes a historically creative veto that guts the Republican plan, yet still maintains some levy limits on local governments. In a veto that looks like a game of "Scrabble," Doyle cobbles together a sentence that gives his administration the ability to spend $400 million that the Legislature never intended on schools, and hails his signing of a "freeze."

From 2005:

"This is one of the most significant property tax relief plans in the history of the state. With this freeze, we kept the faith with Wisconsin families," Doyle said in a statement today. - The Capital Times, December 12, 2005

"The result of the freeze that I will sign will be that the average property tax on the average home will not go up at all next year, and will actually go down $5" in December 2006, said Doyle, trying to defuse one of the most controversial issues looming in his re-election bid next year. - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 24, 2005.
So why was Doyle so hostile to the concept of a "freeze" in 2003, but so amenable to the idea in 2005? There are several possibilities, none of them mutually exclusive.

First, he wanted to co-opt the term "freeze" from the Republicans. He will now go into the 2006 elections bragging that he was the first governor ever to sign property tax limits, and that he did so without gutting those programs. The GOP can try to hit him for his 2003 veto, but he always has the 2005 freeze rhetoric in his back pocket.

In fact, in July of 2005, Doyle admitted as much:

"They've got a real problem here, because what I did was froze property taxes at the tightest limits in the history of the state and, unlike them, funded education so that our schools aren't taking a tremendous beating," Doyle said. In describing his plan, Doyle has made a point of noting some people's property taxes will go up while others' will go down. Yet he rejected suggestions that, by calling it a freeze, he was creating unrealistic expectations in the minds of property taxpayers.
The second reason he endorsed the freeze concept in 2005 was that the plan really wasn't a "freeze" at all. In fact, Doyle's veto essentially used one time funding as a giveaway to school districts, causing a significant structural deficit in the next biennium (although legislative Republicans aren't exactly innocent on this count either). Doyle put school funding on a credit card to get himself through this election. But the bill comes due in 2007, and only higher taxes are going to bail him out.

In fact, when Doyle announced his vetoes, they were actually hailed by WEAC, the state's largest teachers' union. If there's an endorsement any meaninful tax relief plan should not get, it is from WEAC. WEAC is to meaningful tax relief what Barry Bonds is to integrity.

This about-face isn't unprecedented with Doyle. As a candidate for Governor, he said he believed the Governor shouldn't have broad veto authority. When he actually became Governor, he magically changed his position. In his first term, he vetoed a bill that prevented people from suing restaurants for making them fat. Just last week, he signed the identical bill after being accused of being too cozy with trial attorneys.

It's clear that Jim Doyle the Governor thinks very differently than Jim Doyle the candidate for Governor. Which one you get depends on what time of year it is.

The State Assembly Goes Loco

In March, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a little-known bill (Assembly Bill 287) that would require two engineers to be present in the cab of a locomotive when it is moving. My guess is that trains have become more technologically advanced, so it is easier for one engineer to handle the duties, and train companies are streamlining their staffing accordingly.

Now this may look like a bill just to protect unionized train engineer jobs, but are you ever wrong. Apparently the engineers are shopping this pamphlet shows that with one engineer passengers are more susceptible to – TERRORISM.

From the Teamsters' pamphlet:

In the wake of 9/11 and more recent bombing attacks in Madrid and London, the nation’s elected officials and law enforcement agencies are only beginning to understand the vulnerability of the nation’s rail network to terrorism…

Despite warnings from the FBI that the rail network is a likely target of al Qaeda, workers’ responses reveal a network where security efforts have largely been left to the discretion of rail corporations, whose primary interests appear to be guarding profit margins – not people.
So, for those keeping score:

2 unionized conductors: Terrorist-free

1 unionized conductor: Probable death.

Of course, unless both of those conductors are Jack Bauer, it doesn’t make any difference how many there are. I’d be surprised if they teach anti-terrorist Kung Fu at train conductor school. But thank the State Assembly for keeping the cost of riding the rail high when they mandate that you subsidize more rail employees with your ticket.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wisconsin Now 80% Less Fabulous

A story appeared today that is so ridiculous, it's hard to believe anyone actually read it before giving it the green light. In this Tom Sheehan article, Governor Doyle's Secretary of Tourism actually makes the argument that the tourism industry will suffer in Wisconsin if we pass the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. In fact, all the article accomplishes is that it demonstrates a need to drug test Doyle's cabinet secretaries.

From the article:

While tourism officials don’t often jump into thorny political battles, the proposed taxpayer protection amendment and a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage could crimp tourism, Holperin said...

The industry is in the early stages of assessing possible fallout from a gay marriage ban, said Deb Archer, chairwoman of the governor’s council and president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The amendment could send the message that Wisconsin is not a welcoming state, Archer said. She said Arizona faced boycotts after eliminating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday from the list of official state holidays a few years ago.

The gay marriage amendment could be troublesome for Wisconsin attractions hoping to appeal to people of many different backgrounds, especially from the Chicago area, Holperin said.“We’re dealing in symbolism as much as anything here. ... In the larger sense, it says something about how welcoming our state is,” Holperin said.

The best thing for the tourism industry might be if Wisconsin voters buck the national trend and defeat the gay marriage ban, Holperin said.
Was Holperin being held hostage by the Gay Mafia when he made those comments? Being held in the basement of The Cardinal Bar, being forced to live only on water and tiramisu?

So tour groups and conventions are going to shun Wisconsin because we want to pass a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage which... is... already... illegal in Wisconsin? Are they instead going to take a stand and schedule their big conventions in the other 48 states where gay marriage is also illegal (isn't it legal in Vermont?) I anxiously look forward to the NRA moving their 2006 convention out of Milwaukee because their membership demands more Pet Shop Boys memorabilia.

This is why the comparison to Arizona refusing to pass Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is so objectionable. At the time, Arizona was the last state to refuse to honor the civil rights giant, so boycotts from people of all races was justifiable. In this case, if you protest Wisconsin, where are you going to go? To such forward thinking places as Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, or every other state that doesn't recognize gay marriage?

And I'm sorry, as much as the gay groups like to try to tie their case for civil rights to the plight of blacks, there isn't any comparison in any way. African Americans are still struggling to overcome years of institutionalized slavery, yet gays and lesbians think they are entitled to ride the same "grievance train" because of where their genitals occasionally end up. I am anxious to visit the crime-ridden gay ghettos where people break into their own neighbors' apartments to steal their divine Baked Alaska recipies.

Of course, this is all conjecture by gay marriage supporters. No statistics are offered, no evidence, nothing. They couldn't even manufacture a gay couple from Illinois to say that they won't come to Wisconsin because of the ban. Every state that has enacted some kind of gay marriage ban is doing just fine, tourism-wise. I doubt if Sheehan even considered asking for any kind of hard evidence, lest it ruin his ridiculous story.

In Sheehan's next story, we'll learn how a partial birth abortion ban will hurt tourism, as it will keep women in the process of delivering a child from visiting Wisconsin to have their half-born infant killed. Generally, these types of women spend a lot of money at local Subways and gift shops.

Reader Mail

A couple of interesting e-mails today:

Wondering why no one was blogging on this stuff. Great story about bad political campaign contributions.

Actually, Ken, that is exactly why campaigns release bad news on Friday afternoons - because nobody reads the Saturday papers and they hope stories like this slip by. Good to see my readers aren't fooled by such cynical ploys.

Did Jim Doyle know he got a large campaign contribution from International Profit Associates? Probably not. When you're pulling in a million bucks per reporting period, it's impossible to know everything about every contributor, and if anyone knew anything, it would be the campaign staff and not Doyle himself. Trust me, as much as I would love to nail this to Doyle, I made this argument in a post defending Republicans, so I have to stick with it.

However, the return of this contribution brings up a good point. Doyle's campaign gets a call from a reporter and that's enough to return this money, but they continue to let the Adelman contribution fester like an open wound in their account (If they have returned it and I missed it, I'm sure someone will let me know). I know they are maintaining that there is nothing improper about the Adelman contribution, but federal investigators seem to disagree. For every day that money sits in his account, it's like an in-kind contribution to Mark Green. In fact, if they ever tried to return the money, Green should beat up the mailman and steal the check.

With Lautenschlager, it's a completely different story. She actually sent her office after these sleazebags on behalf of Wisconsin citizens. If anybody in the state should have known that these individuals were of questionable character, it should have been her. She's probably making the right move to be defiant in returning the money, but why on earth would anyone on her campaign think accepting this contribution was a good idea? Especially when no criminal charges were ever brought? Doesn't it kind of seem like a "thanks for not being tough on us" gift? Is she going to accept an in-kind contribution of a pack of smokes from Chai Vang?

As for Falk, we'll see if Lautenschlager's diversionary counter-charge sticks. My gut tells me the most you're going to find on her is that a family of woochucks in Stoughton sent her a check in return for not cutting down the family tree or something.

E-mail #2:

The glass free Mifflin St Block Party Ordinance raises questions, at least to me. Admittedly, I'm old.

Does this mean that at Mifflin Street pot can only be smoked in joint form or from metal or wood pipes, not from glass pipes?
Don't forget tip your waitress. Try the veal.

While this attempt to get his joke in a post was succesful, I actually do object to this ordinance. I'm not sure what line we crossed when local governments think it's just fine to regulate the manner in which I legally consume a legal product, but I'm fairly certain we're near the end of the world. Until I'm outraged by something else the City of Madison does, and I then declare the end of the world once again.

Just wait until they mandate open toed shoes for all city residents, and the earth does actually explode. Then I will be proven right. Of course, I will have been incinerated at the time, but clearly vindicated.

The Disappearing Candidate

Great post by the guys over at detailing Terri McCormick's spiral into irrelevance. McCormick is showing that she really doesn't want to be in Congress, and there's no reason to even mention her as a viable candidate against John Gard.

I really don't have anything to add, since the post is so good. Check it out here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter!

Hope everyone enjoys their Easter weekend, and let's all pray for good weather and a couple of Brewers wins.

In the words of Rick James:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Living, Breathing Government Waste

Way back in February when the new Taxpayers Protection Amendment was introduced, we all saw a lot of the usual press releases fly back and forth. Tax and business groups supported the new amendment, while groups that actually spend tax money uniformly lined up against it.

But there was one release in particular that caught my eye for its stunning hyperbole. It was written by Kenosha County lobbyist Michael Serpe, and contained some mind-numbing passages such as:

The “hard working families” of Wisconsin are very capably represented by their local units of government, who deliver the services the families want while balancing their budgets under the rules of finance imposed by their rich uncles and aunts in faraway capitals. Now the rich uncles and aunts who have soiled their own balance sheets so shamefully are going to get into their big limousines and drive to see us at our kitchen tables and deliver us from our balanced budgets and efficient ways of life...

With this amendment, its authors and supporters have simply washed their hands of their responsibilities under the law. They have said they are no longer capable of making the tough decisions. They have said they are no longer relevant when it comes to finance. They have said that they're not up to the task. Pontius Pilate would be proud.

Michael J. Serpe
Administrative Assistant/Lobbyist
Kenosha County Executive's Office
1010 56th Street
Kenosha, WI 53140
Telephone 262-653-2831
Facsimile 262-653-2817
"The ultimate test of what a truth means is the conduct it dictates or inspires."
William James

So we get it. Apparently, enacting TPA is akin to the death of Christ. Very appropriate with Easter coming. And for those counting, that's a 10-line signature. He clearly paid more attention to writing his own description than he did in 9th grade creative writing class.

Reasonable people can, and do, disagree about the TPA. But those that don't like it often make constructive comments or suggestions, rather than throwing a fit with all the coherence of a junior high breakup letter. So if Kenosha County is having trouble making its budgets, I can think of one place you can start to save money.

But what puzzles me is why the Kenosha County Executive would allow himself to be represented by such foolishness. Here you have someone that is actually doing your cause more harm than good complaining that local governments don't have enough money. At the same time, Michael J. Serpe is:

1. Arguing that local governments don't have enough money, and;
2. Proving that Kenosha County has enough money to employ a complete buffoon.

Anybody catch the irony there? He truly is living, breathing government waste.

The state keeps a database of what bills lobbyists are interested in and what positions various groups take on those bills. Occasionally, a lobbyist will register a short snippet to explain their position on a bill. So I went to Kenosha County's Ethics Board page to see what Michael J. Serpe has been up to. I found a gold mine of smug, self-congratulatory comments that must have just pleased Serpe to no end to register. Among them:

2005 AB 49, 1/27/2005: Would be more likely to look favorably on this usurpation of local control if the minimum wage as set by the state bore some actual resemblence to a living wage.

2005 AB 509, 1/12/2006: Isn't it about time that local units of government enjoyed the same treatment as the state?

2005 AB 756, 10/13/2005: What don't the authors understand about 2005 Act 40? And in urban counties, guess where the guests in our jails come from?

2005 AB 902, 12/29/2005: Don't we have better things to do?

2005 AB 1156, 4/5/2006: Why are the sponsor's [sic] so hell bent for leather to restrict local government's efforts to take care of their own business?

2005 AJR 77 (TPA) 2/14/2006: A trainwreck.

2005 SB 564, 2/9/2006: The bill gets close to accusing clerks of inappropriate behavior, and that's really inappropriate.

The only ones not laughing are the Kenosha taxpayers, who pay the salary of this clown to fight to keep their taxes high. They actually pay this guy to hurt their cause at the State Capitol. Message to the Kenosha County Executive - you'd do just fine under TPA if you'd just get rid of dead weight lobbyists that are a little too secure in their jobs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Future Smokers Protest Smoking Ban

Madison... Today a group of five-year-old future smokers rallied at city hall to protest the city's draconian anti-smoking policy. "When I grow up and start a three pack a day habit, I want to be able to eat wherever I want," said Elijah Stevens, a kindergartener. "I mean, I lit up at Chucky Cheese the other day and they got all up in my grill," said Stevens.

Madison's ordinance, passed several months ago, forbids anyone in a restaurant or a bar from smoking, using chewing tobacco, saying the word "cigarette" out loud, or dressing like the Marlboro Man (specifically for the Rainbow Room). "People need to be protected from other people that are partaking in a perfectly legal activity on private property," said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "It's not like people actually have a choice of what restaurants in which to eat," said Cieslewicz, chowing down on his government-issued Plazaburger.

"Mommy said there's nothing like going to the bars, getting hammered and smoking like a chimney when she's picking up men," said Stacy Murray, who has never met her father. "She says lighting up a cigarette at a bar is a great conversation starter," said Murray, noting that such "conversations" have led to six brothers and sisters from her leathery mother.

Emily Anderson, 5, said she is looking forward to entering Marlboro's "Nico-Teen" program, which teaches pre-teens to be responsible smokers. "Nothing is more important than filling your young healthy lungs up with thick black tar in a responsible way," said Anderson while cleaning her pistol.

Recently, children's programming has come under criticism for glorifying smoking. PBS has seen its taxpayer funding drop, so they have had to find funds elsewhere. This explains why Snuffleupagus was recently seen puffing on a Newport and The Count was counting down the days before he died of lung cancer.

Stevens said he was close to collecting enough camel cash for a "Tracheotomy Elmo."

Immi-Grating On My Nerves

I hadn't planned on writing anything regarding immigration, but today's column in the Wisconsin State Journal by Susan Lampert Smith really sets a new low for pandering. In it, she tells the tale of some guy she probably just met at the "Day Without Latinos" march, who she probably never would have given a second thought to on any other day. But given her chance to suck up to illegal immigrants, she jumped at the chance to use this guy as her "cause of the day."

Here's how he got to America:
At age 16, without telling his parents, he got on a bus and started north. At Nogales, on the Arizona border, he followed a group of immigrants and found himself in a store on the U.S. side of the line.

Somehow, I can't remember the last time, I just "got on a bus" and "found myself" in Guadalajara. In fact, this guy knowingly and consciously broke the law. In fact, he broke it at the expense of every one of his fellow countrymen that work their tails off to gain legal citizenship in America.

I would love Susan Lampert Smith to be on my side if I ever cheated on my wife (punishable by death, by the way - trust me, capital punishment exists in the York household). I imagine her column would look like this:
Without telling his wife, Dennis got on a bus and went to Pizzeria Uno. After a couple of drinks, he found himself in a waitress.

Doesn't sound too bad, huh?

Lampert Smith goes on:
His dream would be to travel, to learn about other cultures and work as a photographer.

Oh yeah? I have a great place for him to travel. How about Mexico?

I know, because this guy is such a stand up citizen, it means they all are. I'm sure he was a straight A student and was someday going to cure some horribe illness like Chronic Anal Leakage (and trust me, I'm rooting for him to hurry up with that one.) How fortunate that Susan Lampert Smith didn't just happen to run into a guy who beats his girlfriend with whom he has 3 illegitimate kids. I'm sure that guy totally would have made it into her column.

I'm not even on the far end of the spectrum with regards to illegal immigration. I understand a lot of the meals at restaurants I eat are inexpensive because the dishwashers might be paid in cash. Illegal immigrants obviously fill a need where cheap labor is necessary. But they are illegal, and I agree with proposals that would give them a drop dead date to file their papers or go back to their country of origin.

By the way, I have a theory that illegal immigrants are much better cooks than legal immigrants. Think about it - they are literally cooking for their lives. If their beans and rice stink, they could be on a bus back to their hometown. Nothing like chimichangas with a side of desperation. Delicious.

Anyway, Rich Lowry at the National Review made a great point in a column today, when he said:
Democrats opposed the ratification of the Central America Free Trade Agreement last year for fear that it would undercut American workers made to compete with cheap Latin American labor. The problem the Democrats must have had with this effect on American workers was that it was too indirect. The party now favors importing lots of that same cheap Latin American labor directly into the United States.
I would actually favor a proposal to grant amnesty to all 11 million illegal immigrants, in exchange for exporting 11 million people of my choosing. Among those people, would be:

1. Hippies

2. People who ride their bikes to work (A.K.A - "The Spandex Mafia")

3. George Clooney

4. People who when a new cash register opens up and the clerk says "who's next," walk from the BACK of the previous line and check out, even though it's obvious you had been waiting for 15 minutes.

5. Smelly Europeans who think they can do all the cool things white people can do just because they look like us. You can't trust anyone from a country that didn't exist when Milli Vanilli won a grammy.

6. The creator of "Girls Gone Wild" (but leave the girls).

7. Anyone considering selling drugs to my daughter in the future (if they don't give us a family discount).

8. Dr. 90210.

Even swap. Whaddya say?

SIDE NOTE: Sorry this got so long - it appears I have oral leakage, as well.

Pure Filth

...which is exactly why I was obligated to post it.

Sent to me by a lefty pal, by the way, who should be ashamed of himself for peddling such smut.

My New Nickname

I generally detest people who give themselves their own nicknames, so was intrigued when Rep. Frank Lasee began calling himself the "father of TABOR" in Wisconsin (among other things).

So my question is this: Do I get a nickname for my help in killing the tax amendment? If I do, I prefer:

"The TABORtionist"

High comedy, folks.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Attention Madison Singles

Even though I've been off the market for a while now, I still think I can offer the kids some dating advice from time to time.

On Friday after work I ventured to the Shorewood Hills Copps to get some hot sauce. (It's a long story - I was caught on Thursday with a plate of chicken wings and no hot sauce, and I threw a fit. That fit led me to try to fry the wings, and I almost burned my house down.) And let me tell you, single guys, the Shorewood Hills Copps on Fridays are a gold mine. You would be well advised to wait until Friday to do your shopping.

So I figure you could employ a couple of different strategies here:

Strategy 1: Get a cart and put a bottle of wine, a baguette, and some flowers in it, and just walk around the store nodding at women. This signals that you already have a girlfriend, which turns you into a walking birdfeeder for women. If they think you are already attached, then it means that at least someone can tolerate you and you likely aren't a serial killer (or anonymous blogger). If a woman can stand you, that puts you in the top, like 8% of all men. Of course you don't actually buy any of the crap in your cart, you just put it all back when you're done making the "pimp daddy power lap" through the store.

Of course, if this strategy is successful, you will need a nimble back story about why you don't actually have a girlfriend. Something better than "she was eaten by hyenas" or "she speaks to me from the beyond."

Strategy 2: Fill your cart with complete garbage, like pizza rolls, hot pockets, chips, Count Chocula, and beer. This is the "cry for help" strategy - it shows that you are completely pathetic, but you are also a diamond in the rough. Just walk through the aisles with an "all of these different flavors of potato chips are confusing me" look. Any man that eats nothing but junk food is just begging for a woman to come into their lives and mold them into a lovin' machine. You're like the sad puppy at the kennel just waiting to love someone. And trust me, there's no shortage of women anxiously awaiting the chance to tell you what to do every minute of your life.

This strategy is best employed by those not looking for a long term relationship, or those looking for a glimpse of what marriage is like.

Strategy 3: Load your cart up with "the ultimate party pack" - a box of condoms, two 40 ounce bottles of Mickey's malt liquor, and a pack of Hall's mentholyptus cough drops (don't ask - an old fraternity joke. A Google search will give you what you need). This is known as the "swinging for the fences" strategy, as any woman that finds this collection of sundries attractive is guaranteed to be wearing one of your t-shirts and eating cocoa puffs in your apartment at 3 AM. Of course, you can't go to her house, as it is most likely a meth lab. However, there is a 98% chance you will strike out (but that 2% - hold on, daddy!). Do not expect to ever see this woman again, unless it is on "Madison's Most Wanted" on the City Channel. Best to schedule an appointment at the UW Health clinic before you even go to Copps. And frame the receipt.

So go to work, guys. I'm telling you, it's worth the trip. And if all of the above fail, just give Jenna a call.

J.J. Hardy, Kurt Cobain, and My Predictions

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."
Jacques Barzun (American Historian, 1907 - )

The Brewers are 5-0. Let me type that again, in case I am hallucinating. The Brewers are 5-0. Their magic number: 157.

This puts me in a very odd place. As a Brewer fan, I have become so accustomed to self pity and loathing, that I'm not sure exactly how to react to the Brewers actually having a pulse. Nirvana has a song that has the refrain "I miss the comfort in being sad." That is actually how I feel - my world doesn't make any sense anymore. Next thing you know, George Clooney will show some humility, Michael Moore will be spotted eating a salad, and there will be an oscar-winning movie about gay cowboys.

Wait, that last one happened?

In order to return to my comfort zone, I have to complain about one thing. How un-American is it for the baseball teams themselves to own the announcers that call the games? Daron Sutton seems like a fine enough guy, but his forced chipper attitude kills me. If J.J. Hardy ever turned an unassisted triple play, he might spontaneously combust in an orgasmic tornado. Think Hardy ever gets sick of Sutton asking him to join him for a drink in his hot tub after every game?

On opening day, Prince Fielder took the prestigious "golden sobrero," going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Sutton's reaction? "Prince will be happy with his day because he played great defense." Huh? That's like saying Tom DeLay will be happy with his year because he never woke up, hung over, next to Bea Arthur.

This would be like Congress owning the news networks that cover them. I mean, really - wouldn't Daron Sutton be a great newscaster on Al-Jazeera?

Coming to you live on Al-Jazeera, it's Daron Sutton with some breaking news. It appears that Saddam Hussein has just gassed about 20,000 women and children. You know what that means, people - there will be a lot less traffic on the way in to work today! Thank you, Saddam!

I realize I'm a miserable fan, but what I want is a broadcaster that actually says what I'm thinking during a game. I need a guy who calls the game with a noose around his neck, just waiting to jump out of the booth and end it all the next time Ben Sheets fails to get a routine bunt down.

Anyway, here are my predictions for the rest of the year:

1. Prince Fielder will get hungry and eat one of the racing sausages during the game.

2. Geoff Jenkins will break in half when wildly swinging at a two strike curveball that he misses by four feet.

3. The Devil will show up at a Brewer game to collect Brady Clark's soul, and replace Clark in centerfield with Heinrich Himmler. Himmler will bat .034 for the rest of the year, but still manage to be more popular than Barry Bonds.

4. Jeff Cirillo will register as a lobbyist with the state of Wisconsin. Within weeks, the legislature will pass a bill mandating Jeff Cirillo gets to play in 10% of all games this year.

5. I will take a second mortgage out on my house to be able to afford to two beers at Miller Park, which will fail to earn me Two Fisted Slobber status.

6. Paul Molitor takes "turn back the clock" night too literally when he runs on the field and begins snorting the left foul line.

7. Ben Sheets will spend all but two weeks on the disabled list after experiencing elbow soreness, being mauled in the parking lot by a pack of dingoes, and by contracting monkeypox after a drunken late night out with a female prairie dog.

8. Every Brewer fan will continue to quietly wonder what was so offensive about Bernie's chalet being a giant keg, when the team's name is the BREWERS.

9. American troops will eventuall find Sal Bando, who is believed to be hiding out in a cave in Hustisford.

10. Percentage of people who show up just because "they like the sausages running" will drop from 64% of all attendees to 61%.

11. I will lose a bar argument when I am unable to produce any evidence that Davy Lopes actually ever managed the Brewers.

12. "Complimentary Air Rifle Night" will prove to be the least successful promotion ever.

13. Brewers hold "Prince Fielder for a day" promotion, where all fans under twelve are separated from their fathers and not reunited until they hit .300 for a full season.

14. Come September Sundays, a child in Wisconsin will utter the words, "Aw, do we have to watch the Packers? Aren't the Brewers on?"

15. Final record: 162-0. And that may be pessimistic.

NOTE: This was posted minutes before Sunday's game started, so they may have lost before you read it. Then again, they may have won, which means Satan might want to invest in a parka.

UPDATE: Of course, my post ended up being the kiss of death (either that or I was sitting on an unlucky section of my couch), as the Crew got pasted today. I now must contradict my post and say that I don't feel all that great about the loss.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chvala Burrows Out of Prison With Rock Hammer

(Madison) A countywide manhunt is on in Dane County, as it has been learned that disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala has burrowed his way through the wall of the Dane County Correctional facility to seek freedom.

It is believed that Chvala dug a hole through his wall and covered it up with a poster of Ed Garvey to conceal it from the guards. During his incarceration, Chvala always maintained his innocence, saying he believed it was actually "some Mexican" that actually was responsible for trading legislation for campaign contributions. However, Chvala claimed that at the time, he "never got a really good look at they guy."

"He was a cool guy," said fellow inmate "Pooter Jones." Jones recalled the day they were blacktopping the roof of the Risser Justice Center, when Chvala negotiated three beers each for each of his coworkers. In return, all Chvala asked for was a $100 contribution to the campaign of Senator Russ Decker from each of the inmates.

During his time in prison, Chvala cozied up to the prison warden, who took a liking to the ex-state senator because of his deft skill at laundering money.

It is believed that Chvala will be joined in Zihuatanejo, Mexico by his best friend in prison, State Senator Gary George. Together, they will move to the Virgin Islands and begin filming a local buddy cop show where they play Culver's restaurant security.

As a warning, police have issued the following artist's rendering of Chvala. If you see him, do not attempt to approach him, as me may attempt to try to extort money from you in exchange for more Seniorcare funding.

What Was Hitler's Position on the QEO Again?

From the head of the Wisconsin School Board Association, regarding the Taxpayer Protection Amendment:
After World War II, when totalitarianism was defeated in Germany and elsewhere, our decentralized democratic foundation was widely hailed and celebrated. Americans recognized that state control of schools in Germany was one clear aspect of that society that had gone in the wrong direction.

Yeah, it was state control of schools that was Problem Number One in Germany. Problem Number Two: the mindless slaughter of millions of Jews.

I was literally an hour from posting something on this, but that rat bastard Brian Fraley beat me to it. You win this one, Dailytakes.

SIDE NOTE: Problem Number Three in post WWII Germany? Hasselhoff.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ghost Riding and the TPA

Supporters of the Wisconsin Taxpayer Amendment are angry and confused. In concept, it's so simple: limit government growth to our ability to pay. They can't understand why it is so hard to get a Republican legislature to agree to that simple premise. Why on earth wouldn't a legislator support something favored by so many citizens?

Here's why:

When I read this news brief the other day, I thought of the Taxpayer Protection Amendment:

Waukesha - A 16-year-old Waukesha boy was injured while "ghost riding" and run over by his own sport utility vehicle, police said today. Jacob J. Vertcnik was traveling north on Avalon Drive near Sunnyside Drive when he put the vehicle in neutral and climbed onto the hood of a 1997 Ford Explorer, said Capt. Mike Babe. As he sat sideways on the hood, passenger Joshua T. Ferber, 18, also of Waukesha, thought the SUV was moving too fast on the incline and used his hand to hit the brakes, Babe said. Vertcnik then slid off the hood, fell in front of the vehicle and was run over.
Republicans are about to get run over by their own constitutional amendment.

When the TPA was first introduced on Valentine's day, Republican leadership was there to brag about how much work went into it, and how well thought out the whole thing was. In the two and a half months since those original press conferences, we have learned several things.

First, we learned the TPA didn't exclude the Miller Park stadium district, which would make it impossible to pay off the bonds earlier if needed. An amendment to the plan was immediately promised to take care of this.

Then, we learned that apparently sewerage districts are included under the revenue limits when they shouldn't be. The "oversight" was blamed on a "drafting error." Of course, sewerage districts such as MMSD are subject to federal clean water requirements, yet would have to go to referendum to bond to meet these requirements. If a referendum failed, then the state would be obligated to pay for whatever upgrades the system needed. If that's the case, why would anyone ever vote for a referendum, if they know the work is going to be done and the rest of the state is going to be paying for it? So apparently we now have an amendment to fix that.

Then we learned that the TPA contradicted the current constitution by disequalizing school districts. In other words, the current constitution calls for districts "as nearly uniform as practicable." The TPA would allow rich school districts to grow at a much faster rate than poor school districts, which directly contradicts the current equalization formula that is supposed to level the playing field for these districts. (I have hammered Senator Mike Ellis in the past, but he gets it exactly right with this column - except for his plan to "fix" school financing.)

Now we get a substitute amendment to TPA that is pitched as a "technical" amendment that makes the aforementioned changes for the Milwaukee Stadium district and changes the types of fees the legislature can exempt from the revenue limits. Tucked deep within this amendment, however, is this change on page 10, line 22:

(12) This section takes precedence over any other provision of this constitution that conflicts with this section.

Folks, this is getting ridiculous. That one sentence completely flips the entire system of funding schools on its head. It would turn the TPA not only into a constitutional amendment, but an "uber-amendment" that crushes other constitutional provisions in its way. Think of it as the Optimus Prime of constitutional provisions. The more this thing is amended, the worse it gets. (But wait - today we are told that it has another - what else? - "drafting error," which will be fixed in yet another flurry of amendments. Who is drafting this thing, Stevie Wonder?)

If that amendment were enacted, we would have conflicting provisions in the state constitution. Instead of having the stones to repeal the constitutional provision guaranteeing equality of educational opportunity, the bill's authors have instead decided to forever disequalize school districts by tucking this line into the bill. Instead of dealing directly with the problem, it takes the easy way out and solves the problem like a third grader would. This is constitutional amendment by "rock, paper, scissors."

None of these problems with the TPA, of course, are "conservative" or "liberal" problems. They just deal with the way money flows through state government and fairness in how it is spent. I know the message of the TPA is simple (keep taxes down), but the actual details are extremely problematic.

For instance, let's say fishing becomes big in Wisconsin one year. Fishing license applications go up 50%. I would think most people who fish are fine with their license money being spent on habitat, restocking fish, wardens, and other things related to fishing. In fact, under current law, that is how those funds have to be spent.

Under the TPA, the excess money generated by those licenses would be problematic. If the state wanted to keep that money, they would have to reduce revenues in other areas (schools, Medicaid, etc.) in order to be able to spend it on fishing. Or they could send the money back to all the state's taxpayers (at a substantial cost), regardless of whether they fish or not. If they didn't, that excess revenue would go into an emergency fund, which would then be spent somewhere down the road on roads or aids to local governments or elsewhere. Is that why you pay for a fishing license?

Essentially, whether you get Medical Assistance will depend on how many people went fishing that year or how many miles were driven by Wisconsin motorists. Whether we can build another prison will hinge on how many driver's licenses or parking tickets are issued. Different funds are raised by the state in different ways and used for different purposes. The TPA would put them all under the same tent and force them to all even out. The problem is, if you exempt licenses from the TPA, they would skyrocket to fund programs currently supported by general purpose revenue. So what do you do?

Again, not a conservative or liberal problem - just a problem of how money flows through the government. If more people drive next year and gas tax revenue goes up, do we stick all that money in an emergency fund to pay for schools? Do we send everyone a check for the money, whether they drive or not? These are all questions that have to be answered.

The TPA would also be a prescription for budget tricks. If revenue is restricted, there is nothing to keep the state from pushing a couple hundred millions' worth of school aid payments into the next biennium to match up the books. This, of course, would cause enormous structural deficits in perpetuity, as the state watched its bond rating sink. This wouldn't happen if we had upstanding and honest legislators, but it appears that we are working off the presumption that they are all incompetent crooks anyway, so why give them any credit now?

In the wake of this week's Iraq withdrawal referendums, the same people that argue for TPA are doing verbal gymnastics trying to explain how those votes don't really reflect the will of Wisconsin residents. Yet when referendums are going to be held all over the state on local budgeting decisions (which the TPA would require), those same people argue that those results will be exactly reflective of the "will of the people."

Trust me folks, I am on board with lower taxes and less spending. It kills me to point this stuff out. I can and will make the case repeatedly that low taxes spur economic development, which raises income and increases revenue to the state, guaranteeing that all these programs will be funded. And our taxes are too high, and not by a little bit. But if I knew about all these problems and kept them to myself, I would be doing a disservice to my eight regular readers.

Democrats have completely dropped the ball on this, too. They continue to weave the sob stories of local governments and school districts that are "cut to the bone" and that can't possibly function if you restrict their growth. This, of course, is all nonsense, and the public doesn't buy it. Governments will do just fine under the theory of a revenue limit, it just needs to be crafted in such a way that is workable and understandable.

Of course, the first draft of TABOR appeared seven years ago. Perhaps the eighth year of changes will be the magical year. The easiest way to take care of all of this? Elect Mark Green as Governor. And if the TPA were a stock, your best bet would be to put in a "sell" order.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

No More Need for the Silly "Bible"

What in the hell is the purpose of this?

Did Jesus walk on water? Or ice?
Scientist says Sea of Galilee could have had frozen patches in Jesus' day

Rare conditions could have conspired to create hard-to-see ice on the Sea of Galilee that a person could have walked on back when Jesus is said to have walked on water, a scientist reported Tuesday.

The study, which examines a combination of favorable water and environmental conditions, proposes that Jesus could have walked on an isolated patch of floating ice on what is now known as Lake Kinneret in northern Israel...

"We simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years," said Doron Nof, a Florida State University professor of oceanography. "We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."

The headline for this story is all wrong. It should be "Florida State Professor Steals Money from Taxpayers." Seriously - this guy should wear a black ski mask to work.

Does he actually think he is solving some centuries-long debate here? Does he believe the Bible is to be taken literally? Does he think Jesus just did the "walking on water" bit to win a bar bet? (No way, Christ - five bucks says you can't!") The next Florida State study we'll probably see is "Fraudulent Jesus believed to be using a Jet-Ski," or "Jesus' feast of fish for Bethsaida actually catered by Long John Silver's."

Let's get Oprah's book club on the case:

Oprah: "Jesus, in the Bible you say you walked on water. But an inconsequential professor at a Top 5 party school says you may have been fibbing. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Christ: "I need a new manager. Pat Robertson is so fired!"

This just in: Moses didn't actually speak to a flaming bush. In fact, the bush was believed to be gay.

Earn Your Master's Degree in Rape and Murder

Steven Avery is talking to the press now. Where do you even start with this?

Investigators coerced Steven Avery's nephew into telling them the two raped, murdered and burned a young photographer, Avery said Friday in his first public comments since authorities said his 16-year-old nephew confessed to the crimes.

In a phone interview from the Calumet County jail, Avery told the Associated Press that Brendan Dassey's statements to investigators about the murder are not true and Dassey is not very smart. He said the nephew commonly plays a Game Boy all day.

"He's 16 years old and with the detective it don't take much... to coerce him to say that stuff," he said. "You figure he can't even cut deer up... he can't even do none of that."

Avery, 43, was charged in November with killing Teresa Halbach on Oct. 31.

So let's recap. Someone who allegedly brutally raped and murdered a woman, burned her body, and left her remains and car on his property is accusing someone of not being very smart. Someone who speaks in broken English is calling someone stupid because he told the police all about their horrifying crime.

For those of you keeping score at home:

Stupid = Unable to cut up a deer and plays a Game Boy.

Smart = Able to cut up a female who you just raped and murdered.

Absolutely horrifying. Evil, thy name is Avery.

Finally, a Coherent Corrections Policy

For those Attorney General candidates looking for a common sense corrections plan, look no further than our old friend, The Kid From Brooklyn.

Never has such sense been made. The job of Secretary of Corrections for the Green Administration has now been filled.

Warning - language not suitable for work, unless you happen to work in a prison yourself.

Our Own Cynthia McKinney

Ah, who can forget the good old days of Gwen Moore as Wisconsin State Senator? For those of you enthralled with Cynthia McKinney's alleged assault of a U.S. Capitol officer, let me refresh your memory about what happened here in Wisconsin in 2001. Actually, the parallels are eerie.

Capital Times (Madison, WI)
November 1, 2001

Capitol police have stopped asking for photo IDs of those entering the Capitol after a showdown with state Sen. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee. On Wednesday Moore balked at the new requirement and refused to provide a photo ID as she entered the State Capitol. Sgt. Todd Thomas was called to the scene and admitted Moore, saying he knew who she was. Moore was not satisfied. She took the issue to the governor's office, and later Capitol Police Chief Mike Metcalf stopped the photo ID requirement.

"I am too often reminded Mohammed Atta had a photo ID," Moore said as she entered the building. Atta has been identified as a principal in the Sept. 11 airline hijackings. "A photo ID doesn't tell people anything," she continued. "This is a back-door approach to civic homicide of poor people, homeless people, low-income people, students who may want to visit our Capitol." "This will not tell people whether I am a terrorist. This disenfranchises people who come to their Capitol."

She noted police had allowed children to enter the building without a photo ID and that senior citizens who don't drive may not have photo IDs. "You can search to see if I have any bombs, but I will not give you a photo ID," she told the officer at the door. The Capitol belongs to the citizens ofthis state, the taxpayers, Moore said. "This is the people's house. I will not give you a photo ID."

Asked why she was coming into the building, Moore replied, " I work here." The officer pursued the questioning, asking for whom she worked. "I work for the people. That's who I work for," replied Moore. The officer said Moore could not enter, but she call for the officer's supervisor, Sgt.Thomas. Moore told the officer she was entering the Capitol in five minutes, regardless of the officer's orders. Thomas got there in two minutes.

Remember, this was six weeks after September 11th. And of course, security took a back seat to Gwen Moore's indignant recalcitrance, as Capitol Police caved and stopped requiring a photo ID. Apparently attempting to secure the state's capitol is "civic homicide," but it's okay for her son to slash the tires of vans hired to give individuals rides to the polls.

As for McKinney, the only difference between her situation and Moore's is that she allegedly cold cocked a police officer. I am of the belief that anyone who publicly states their support for McKinney should be thrown in prison.

On the other hand, I think this probably crosses the line.

Feingold's Big Gamble - Gay Marriage

Of course Russ Feingold supports gay marriage. The real story would be if he didn't. He did, after all, oppose the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

But this is a little odd. This guy really wants to be president? Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, you have to admit that the concept isn't exactly taking the country by storm. Two thirds of the country is probably more worried about gay marriage spreading than the bird flu. I mean, states are amending their constitutions to keep gays from marrying. And if they had anything more powerful than their constitutions (like Chuck Norris), they'd amend those, too.

So the practical question is - does this earn Feingold votes anywhere that he doesn't already have them? Has "Brokeback Mountain" so deeply affected Ohio, New Mexico and Florida that they're going to be on board with this?

Either Feingold is making a calculation that the country is going to come around to his way of thinking in the next two years, or this whole "running for president" deal is actually a charade. It may be his attempt to stake out the left wing of the party, for some forseeable job down the road. Or, he may just be angling for a guest spot on "Will and Grace."