Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Doyle Administration Unveils New Uniforms, Logo, Attitude

Madison - Following the lead of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, Governor Jim Doyle today announced some "sassy" steps to improve his administration's sagging reputation. "I think the Bucks have shown that new uniforms can make all the difference, regardless of whether it's the same people wearing them," said an effusive Doyle.

A popular promotion within the Doyle administration has been "Turn Back the Clock Night," where Doyle donors are offered the chance to re-bid for state contracts that were previously awarded to competent low bidders. For complete authenticity, Doyle's donors are then allowed to pay the state what the contract was worth in 1983.

Doyle said the new color scheme and logo are an attempt to freshen the administration's image and make it more appealing to younger voters. "I want to reach down to the hip younger kids that might care more about Sir Mix-a-Lot and Rubik's cubes than they do about their government, who they think might be out of touch," said Doyle.

In a related move, the Doyle administration obtained point guard Earl Boykins from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for the state welding contract. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas immediately ripped the move, citing welding's tremendous upside potential and wingspan.

The administration's official uniform has changed several times, with the most recent being the fashionable orange jumpsuit.

Christa Dubill = Awesome

Some of you might remember this post from a few weeks back, where I poked fun at local news anchor Christa Dubill. I admit, I was a little nervous after posting it, since I really didn't know anything about her - I just really picked her completely at random.

A few days back, I got an e-mail from Christa, and she totally played along with the joke. And she clearly has a superior sense of humor. So I urge both my readers to scrap those other crappy Madison stations and watch Channel 27 news exclusively. They're the only ones that do any real investigative reporting anyway.

So cheers to Christa, the queen of Madison news.

Dumbocracy Campaign's True Colors

Long time readers of mine know that I am particularly fond of ridiculing the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the dopey left wing group that lobbies full time to restrict your free speech rights. The whole organization is led by Mike McCabe, a failed former State Assembly candidate who decided that the whole system is corrupt after he got his head handed to him in a Democratic primary for Tammy Baldwin's old seat.

The whole purpose of the WDC is to go after special interests that have undue influence over the Legislative process. Specifically, they criticize groups that don't disclose their contributors, yet attempt to influence policy. The media fall all over themselves to get quotes from McCabe in every article, despite the fact that his only real specialty is getting himself quoted in news stories. It's like the State Journal needs his permission before they go to print. It's just a matter of time before we see:

MOVIE REVIEW: McCabe gives "White Chicks" two gut-busting thumbs' ups!

While McCabe identifies his groups as being "nonpartisan," that notion is laughable. One needs to look no further than its board of directors to see it is composed of every lefty spending group in the state, including many groups that engage in the very political activities that WDC denounces. Whenever he criticizes "pay to play" activities, it's always a criticism of a tax credit that helps business and economic development, but never any legislation that helps the Sierra Club or Coalition for Aging or any of his special interest buddies.

The "nonpartisan" charade was shattered forever when they released this little-read release last week, in which they denounce the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

You may wonder to yourself - just what business does a group supposedly dedicated to campaign finance reform have putting out a release on gay marriage? There are several possibilities:

1. McCabe just couldn't help himself any longer. He knows he has the media in his pocket, and thought they would jump when he issued a release on an issue that his organization doesn't have any relationship to.

2. Action Wisconsin, or some other gay rights group, called McCabe to enlist his services. Or maybe they threw him a few bucks to take a shot at it.

Regardless of why he did it, the irony here is obvious. You have a group (WDC) formed to denounce special interest influence in legislative issues serving as a special interest attempting to influence legislative issues. On the one hand, they denounce the exercise of free speech by some interest groups, but expect to get a free pass when they do the very same thing.

As long as the local media insist on pretending McCabe has any credibility, I will insist on proving that he does not.

Greatest title of all time, by the way. Even though it makes me sound like a self-satistfied dittohead.

Mess With the Bull, You Get the Horns

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, in a story about the New Berlin school district dropping their membership in the Wisconsin Association of School Boards:

Thomas said "the final straw" in his decision to seek an end to the district's association with WASB was a short item published in April on the Weblog of Journal Sentinel columnists Cary Spivak and Dan Bice. Spivak and Bice wrote about bloggers ridiculing Ashley for a column he wrote in Wisconsin School News that linked support for the Taxpayer Protection Amendment and prewar Nazi Germany.

Ashley said his words in the Wisconsin School News piece have since been taken out of context. "The word Nazi never even appeared," he said. "There were some media that misrepresented the content of that piece, which was unfortunate. . . . I wasn't aware that an opinion column would be something that led to their decision."

Gee, I wonder who those bloggers that Spivak and Bice were writing about could have been?

And just for the record, here's Ashley's quote about the TPA. Draw your own conclusion:

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.

Some lawmakers in Madison seem to have forgotten both their American history and their civics lessons as they are clearly willing to impose their will on every school district in the state of Wisconsin.

We Love You, Brian...

Of course we all love Brian Fraley, but what the hell was this?

From a Van Hollen for Attorney General press release announcing their new mobile headquarters:
“And while we know those who fear a J. B. victory will snicker about 'a heavily armed recreational vehicle,' this Mobile HQ will be a huge benefit to the campaign and to the hundreds of grassroots volunteers who will staff JB this summer,” said Fraley. “Truth be told, even we've made a few references to the movie Stripes, but this campaign and J.B.’s determination to work for the entire state is serious business.”
J.B. is running for what again? Aren't there a couple references from "Meatballs" they could have thrown in?

After doing some research, I figured out what was going on at the Van Hollen headquarters.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bill Hall - A Man You Can Trust

Time to get your butt over to to vote for the Major League All-Star teams. Voting ends this Thursday, and it's easy as can be. It's Voces de la Frontera's dream - no ID necessary, no proof of residence, and you can vote up to 25 times.

I may be violating some provision of McCain-Feingold here, but I strongly urge you to vote for Bill Hall for National League shortstop. There's an assortment of slop at NL SS, and JJ Hardy is listed as the Brewers' representative. Hall probably actually deserves to be the starting shortstop, but he's not even on the ballot, so you have to write him in. It won't make any difference, but consider it your Nader protest vote. If I can get my 8 readers to vote 25 times each, that's... well, I don't know how many that is, but it seems like a lot.

Oh, and vote for Carlos Lee, too. Or you could be like my uncle with downs' syndrome and just vote for all the Brewers. Now you know where Brady Clark's vote came from.

Scott McCallum - Visionary (Seriously)

Daniel Suhr from the blog today makes a good attempt to identify state government programs to cut to help out with the $2.5 billion budget deficit.

Unfortunately, the programs he identifies don’t even amount to a drop in the bucket to help fix the deficit. He mentions a couple of Governor’s councils and the Department of Regulation and Licensing, which is funded primarily through licensing fees to professions they oversee. Eliminating the department wouldn’t save real taxpayers any money at all.

Very few people in the state really have an accurate picture of what the state budget looks like. Generally, people think that we can make up the budget deficit by not giving elected officials raises, or cutting down on their travel, or eliminating the Department of Natural Resources, or whatever.

For those of you interested in what the state general purpose budget look like, here’s a great document from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that breaks everything out into categories for you. The general purpose budget programs are the most interesting, because they are the programs paid for through sales and income taxes that everyone pays. You’ll notice that the DNR, for example, is funded almost primarily through user fees like hunting and fishing licenses, whereas school aids are paid for exclusively through taxes everyone pays.

As you can see, 56.7% of the GPR budget for the next two years is made up of aids to local governments. This is a major problem with the framework of Wisconsin government – if the Legislature were to cut any of that aid, it would be made up by local governments (cities, towns, school districts), in the form of higher property taxes. So by showing some fiscal restraint, the state would in effect be raising the most hated tax in the state. In this sense, almost 60% of the GPR budget is off the table when cuts need to be made, since state lawmakers don’t want to be stuck with the stigma of raising property taxes.

Another 19.7% of the GPR budget goes to aids to individuals, with Medical Assistance (11.8%) making up the lion’s share of that appropriation. While it is certainly possible to cut money from these programs, it hasn’t proven to be politically popular to do so. Threatening Grandma’s Medicaid isn’t exactly a recipe for electoral success.

That leaves 23.6% of the budget remaining to make real cuts. Amid this category are things like the UW System (7.3%) and the Department of Corrections (6%). The UW has been cut over the last two budgets, and cutting Corrections could mean more criminals on the streets. This really leaves a sliver of state government that it would really be possible to cut without consequences at the ballot box, as elected officials haven’t shown the fortitude to go in and make fundamental changes in other areas.

Conservatives will always complain that their elected officials don’t want to make the tough choices to keep taxes and spending down. They may be forgetting ex-Governor Scott McCallum.

When McCallum took over in 2001, he was handed an enormous budget shortfall. In his proposed budget adjustment bill in early 2002, he made up for some of that shortfall by using tobacco settlement funds to plug the hole. However, McCallum actually did exactly what conservatives are looking for – he stuck his neck out and proposed ending a large state program.

In his budget adjustment bill, McCallum proposed phasing out the shared revenue program, which sends state taxpayer money back to local governments (7.3% of the current GPR budget). Recognizing that local elected officials would simply raise taxes to make up for the lost aid, he also proposed a freeze on property tax levies. With this budget proposal, McCallum showed he was willing to take on the spending lobby and shake up the business as usual in the Capitol.

In the 2002 election, McCallum was hammered by local officials for proposing to cut off their aid. Many local officials who leaned Republican couldn’t stomach voting for McCallum because of his bold initiative. Aided by Libertarian Ed Thompson’s entrance into the race, Jim Doyle beat the unpopular McCallum.

McCallum may have been a bad candidate. He made a tragic mistake by taking some of the money he saved by eliminating shared revenue and putting it towards public schools, thinking that the teachers’ union would look more favorably on his candidacy (they did not). But for all the negatives associated with his brief tenure as governor, he deserves credit for doing something that nobody has the guts to do now – he made a real proposal to cut a $1 billion annual state program, which would have fundamentally changed the framework of state government.

Unfortunately, because of this bold initiative, McCallum alienated a lot of local officials that went back to their constituents to complain of cuts to police and fire service. In the end, doing the right thing certainly contributed to him losing his job - and the Legislature noticed.

The way the state funds local governments is a complex, confusing mess. When a property taxpayer wants to complain about their taxes, they don't know who to blame. The local officials say they're not getting enough money from the state. The state says the locals are spending too much, and the locals are the ones that ultimately set the property tax levies. The two levels of government are constantly pointing to each other, and there's no accountability.

The government that raises the tax should be the government that spends the tax. That way, governments are more directly accountable for their decisions. Wisconsin needs to pick up on McCallum's lead and wean local governments off of state tax money. If that means giving the locals more options to raise local revenue, then so be it. At least people would be able to walk into their alderman's office or show up at a school board meeting to protest their tax level, rather than having to navigate a complex bureaucracy to figure out exactly why their taxes are so high.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Delivery Room Confidential

My best friend’s wife just had a baby girl. I had a great time talking to him on the phone about becoming a daddy for the first time, because a lot of our childbirth experiences were virtually identical. I had wanted to do a post about what becoming a daddy for the first time is like, but they had the kid before I got around to doing it. I’ve seen a lot of articles about what childbirth is like for women, but few about what it’s like for men. So here it is.

All the time leading up to the birth of the child is spent focused on the mother’s needs. They learn what to buy, how to breathe, what to pack for the hospital, how to nurse, etc. I actually decided to go for Husband of the Year Award and show up to the breastfeeding classes, just to support my wife. When I walked out of the room after the class, I was clutching my chest because my nipples hurt so much just from watching the breastfeeding movies. If men had to breastfeed, the human race would have died off about a hundred thousand years ago and a pterodactyl would be sitting at your desk doing your job right now.

As much as you prepare for the actual moment you have to go to the hospital, you will completely lose your mind when it happens. You scramble around the house like a hamster on Red Bull to get your bags together and thrown into the car. The only upside is that you get to drive like a complete maniac on the way to the hospital, just like they do on TV – my driving was so bad, I’m surprised the baby didn’t jump out to tell me to slow down (nothing more irritating than a nagging inter-uterine driver).

When you get to the hospital, they will put you in a little waiting room where they do a preliminary check to make sure you’re really having a baby and you’re not just there pulling an elaborate ruse to get the free mini-Pepsis from the OB snack bar. After they check the mother out, they will tell you that there’s a chance that despite your rush to get to the hospital, the baby may not be ready to come out and you may have to go home for a few hours. At that point, you will tell them that you are leaving the hospital with a baby, whether it’s yours or someone else’s.

Soon, they put your wife on drugs to try to induce the child to come out. This is far more effective than your idea of dangling two free Packer tickets down between her legs. Now is the time to take pictures, as within hours she will have convinced the staff at the hospital that you are an active al-Qaeda operative. Once the contractions start, you and your wife will enter an entirely new phase of your relationship. For details, see any Bill Cosby standup routine from the last 30 years.

Obviously, during this time your wife is in extraordinary pain, and any man that suggests otherwise is secretly shipped off to a remote internment camp for insensitive men and never heard from again. But you will feel a deep sense of utter helplessness, and it’s hard. Standing before you is the person you care most about in the entire world in extreme pain – and the most you can do is offer her the occasional ice cube. Jokes are not appreciated. The only thing that would possibly make her feel better would be the sight of a pack of rabid dingoes attacking your crotch.

During the entire night, hospital staff is running in and checking your wife’s progress. There are doctors, nurses, interns, and other staff that have an all access pass to her womb. It won’t surprise you a bit to find out that some guy examining your wife’s cervix is the Pepsi machine mechanic just coming in to see if everything was alright.

Finally, it’s time for an epidural, which will numb her from mid chest down and completely change the trajectory of the evening. For one, you will find out that your relationship may not be as strong as you thought after she proposes on the spot to the anesthesiologist. She will treat this guy like he’s George Clooney handing her an Ann Taylor credit card with no limit. You instantly become the fifth most important person in the room (behind the doctor, your wife, the baby, and the soft drink mechanic, who won’t leave for some reason).

Finally, it comes time to push the baby out. You rush to your wife’s side and grab her hand, reminding her to breathe. She’s pushing as hard as she can, swearing that she can’t push any more. If you had half this much determination, you’d be running your company instead of sitting on your butt reading anonymous blogs all day. For some reason, you bend your knees and get in an athletic crouch, not unlike how your little league coach told you to stand when you played shortstop (it may also be helpful to wear a cup to protect yourself in this situation, too). This may make you feel like you’re helping, but really has nothing to do with whether the baby is coming out or not.

When the baby refuses to come out, the doctor will ask you to grab your wife’s leg and pull it back to get her in a better position. You jump right in, not realizing that this isn’t exactly what you signed up for when you joined your health plan. Later, you will ask the doctor for a discount since you had to do some of the work yourself. Seriously – if I’m getting a new muffler and have to bring my own screwdriver, it better not be full price.

And finally, within a split second, your life will change forever. You’ll hear the most important sound you’ll ever hear – that of your child crying. You’ll be in such shock, that you won’t even notice when the doctor asks you if you want to cut the umbilical cord, and you actually do it – despite being completely grossed out by the concept an hour earlier.

You look around the room and see your wife’s blood, and you will be scared out of your mind. You’ll look at her and suddenly your entire relationship will flash before your eyes. In an instant, you’ll think of the night you met. You’ll think about your first date, when you stayed up all night laughing nervously, wondering if she really liked you or not. You’ll remember the night at the UW Memorial Union Terrace when you finally realized that this was the woman that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, and how you proposed to her on that spot. She’ll be laying there with tears in her eyes, drenched in sweat and hair messed up, but at that instant, you will never have seen a woman so beautiful in your life.

You can't believe that any woman would ever have so much faith and trust in you that she would go through such excruciating pain to deliver a child. Fortunately, in case you forget that, you will be reminded of it approximately 8,345 times over the next twelve months. You thank the Lord that you could be there to witness the birth of this child, seeing as there's really only an even-money chance you were there for the conception.

You fumble around for your camera to try to get pictures. You start sobbing like Richard Simmons after meeting an 800 pound guy that has to be removed from his house with a crane. Your wife starts breast feeding the baby, and you try to get a picture of it without getting too much of the breast in the picture (your friends will be looking at these, after all). It is incredible that babies have the innate ability to breast feed right out of the womb – much like you were born with the uncanny ability to watch the Brewers, listen to music, and scratch yourself all at the same time.

Apparently unaware of your court record, the doctors hand your baby over to you. It is at this point precisely that you are overwhelmed with about 100 feelings simultaneously. You can’t believe this is all real, and that something so great could happen to you. I mean, you are the guy, after all, who used to throw lawn furniture off the top of your fraternity house to see if it would break. You’re the guy who would have girls drop you off three blocks away from your house after a date so they wouldn’t find out exactly where you lived. You’re the guy that used to get drunk and wash all the cars on your block at three o’clock in the morning, hoping some hot chick would appreciate the gesture.

And here in your hands is the greatest thing that God ever created. It feels like you are now the first person ever to figure out procreation – that nobody could have ever done this before. You can’t believe that somehow this actually sometimes occurs without the father being involved. Sure, you may be a sap, but it’s inconceivable to you that fathers leave and don’t come back, or don’t even know that one of their children is born at all.

It is at that point that suddenly you realize your life has a purpose. As listlessly as you may have lived your life, now you are responsible for another human being. Sure, it took you an extra year or two to finish college, and you may never have gotten the job you really wanted, but suddenly all of your personal ambitions and travails seem trivial. Your life is clear as day now – I have to take care of this baby, and do the best job I possibly can. And that’s it, really. Nothing else even comes close.

For years, you have been wondering whether anyone will ever remember you when you're gone. What have you ever done that's really affected anyone in any real way? You never wrote a hit screenplay, never played in the NBA, never volunteered at the Boys and Girls club. You're afraid that if you were to disappear, nobody would even know you were there at all. Now, all at once, you realize what your legacy will be - you know that by raising this kid to be a kind, generous, and hard working adult, you've given the world the best possible gift you can.

What you don’t realize at the time, however, is the fact that you are no longer writing your own life story. Those days of going boozing with the boys? Done. Movies? What are those? You won’t ever eat in a restaurant again that doesn’t offer you the option of “Biggie Sizing.” You will soon come to recognize that you are now relegated to a bit part in your own autobiography. The seven pound, four ounce conspirator in your arms has now taken over as head writer of your life story. And you will never mind a bit.

The digital clock above you says 7:12 A.M. You’ve now been awake all night waiting for this moment. It’s time to catch what little sleep you can before your life starts all over again. You doze off thinking how great it is to be a dad. And wondering if you have to prove the baby's yours for the hospital to validate your parking ticket.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Important Life Saving Advice

If you just happened not to speak English, and you just happened to be robbed by a guy wearing a bandana wrapped around his nose, and you just happened to take life saving advice from aerobics instructors, then this video is for you, my friend. You will not see anything funnier this week - that's my solid gold guarantee.

Via Dave Barry

As an aside, being rubbed by two men can cost you a lot in Japan.

York Crushes Blanchard's Soul

A couple of weeks back, I ridiculed Brian Blanchard for his attempt to keep former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen in jail while he awaited his appeal. Blanchard laughably argued that Jensen would somehow "reoffend," despite the fact that he is no longer in the State Legislature.

This week, predictably, Judge Steven Ebert agreed with me and ruled that Jensen could remain a free man while filing his appeal. Ebert couldn't completely help himself, however, as he gave Jensen another in-court tongue whipping. One wonders if Ebert is going to show up at the birth of Jensen's next child and berate him for his low sperm count.

In related news, a relative unkown in Waukesha County politics named Sven Jenovich has filed papers to run for his recently vacated Assembly seat. Originally a goat herder in Prague, Jenovich has recently moved to America to teach motor scooter safety to legless senior citizens.

Authorized and paid for by Jenovich for Assembly, Soda Popinski treasurer

Eminent Domain Hits Madison

Here in Madison, a big development is apparently on hold due to a new state law that prevents governments from condemning property with the goal of transferring it from one private party to another. Traditionally, "eminent domain" is used by municipalities to obtain "blighted" property to redevelop it into something with a public purpose. In this case, however, the City of Madison condemned land in order to turn it over to a developer, which is the same issue argued in last summer's Kelo v. City of New London U.S. Supreme Court case.

Despite the Supreme Court upholding the practice of eminent domain in the case of private party transfers, states are reacting by passing legislation outlawing the practice. Wisconsin has done so, which means developers might actually - gasp! - have to pay for the land they want, rather than running to their city government to condemn it for them.

On the same day this article explaining the Madison situation appeared, I just happened to read this excellent piece in "The Region," which is the official magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The article details how the use of eminent domain can actually harm economic development more than it helps. It's long, but a quality read.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Baldwin's Tipping Point

Residents of the 2nd Congressional District here in South Central Wisconsin were treated this week to another Tammy Baldwin newsletter/campaign mailing, in which Baldwin tells everyone about her substantial accomplishments in office. Certainly, with issues like the War in Iraq, immigration, and the growth in federal spending, she would have some serious issues to discuss.

Actually, Baldwin lists as her top issue - and I am not kidding... furniture tipping over. Ah, yes - the silent killer. You didn't know grandma's old bookcase was coming to get you and your kids, did you?

From the newsletter:

The tragic deaths of several children in Wisconsin due to furniture tipping over on them prompted me to co-sponsor a bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1861) that would codify improved safety standards for furniture.

Recognizing that Congressional action may not be immediate, I wrote to government officials and the media to urge action. These included letters to the chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), asking the Commission to strengthen and make mandatory the current voluntary furniture tipping standard, an act that would not require Congressional action; and letters to the producers of televised home makeover programs, asking them to include life-saving information about furniture safety in future programs.

Let me translate the phrase"Congressional action may not be immediate" for you - the bill is crazy and will never see the light of day. I'm fairly certain Karl Rove is scheming as we speak to make sure "big furniture" can still make killer bookshelves. In fact, I was at an ATM the other night, and I could have sworn a china cabinet was lurking around the corner, waiting to hold me up at (butter) knife point.

And her solution is to call Hollywood and get them to put safe furniture on "Trading Spaces?" Somehow Ty Pennington is now responsible for the safety of my kids? I oppose any Congressional action that doesn't result in Pennington being bludgeoned and burned alive, by the way.

Here's a nutty idea - instead of the federal government mandating the size, shape, and form of furniture, how about parents continue to secure tall bookcases to the wall (as I can now proudly say I did with one of ours)? Honest to God - if my federal representative wants to mandate the height of clothes dressers, there really is no limit to her lust for a government nanny state. This bill makes the mandatory car seat bill look like a product of the CATO institute.

If there have been children injured or even killed by falling furniture, I don't mean to make light of their tragic deaths. But at some point common sense has to take over. Sadly, I'm sure children are hurt due to parental negligence of all kinds. Unfortunately, outlawing stupid parents isn't an option.

Doyle's Gas Smells

I know a few bloggers have mentioned this article in the past couple of days, but I need to chime in. I mean, who would have ever guessed Jim Doyle's petition to lower gas prices was a cheap political stunt? If only someone could have predicted that...

But my favorite part of the article has to be the quote from Mary Keuler of Appleton, who isn't upset at Doyle using state resources for a cheap political hit, but instead is mad that the petition wasn't sent to Washington, D.C. before Memorial Day. From the article:

"It looks stupid," she said Sunday. "They put in that date and didn't even get it to them on time. For Pete's sake, it's unprofessional. Aren't they supposed to be professionals down there — people with college degrees who know what they are doing?"
She actually believes that if the petition would have been mailed to Congress a couple weeks earlier, that her gas would be less expensive now. Like George W. Bush is sitting in the oval office with his hand on the "lower gas prices" button, just waiting for the Jim Doyle gas petition to come in.

Not to be outdone, Doyle spokesman Matt Canter (presumably with a college degree) is quoted:

Canter compared the petition effort to an open letter in the New York Times. He said that when Doyle's office launched the site, it sent media notices to outlets all over the country.

"It was a very public petition," Canter said.
If anyone can explain to me the relationship between sending out nationwide press releases and lower petroleum prices, I'd be happy to hear it. He goes on:

Canter said sending all this paper to Washington would not have been cost effective, so the office created electronic versions of the petition on compact discs. Canter said this work took time, as did drafting a letter to Washington.

Canter said the problem still remains and Congress hasn't passed a bill to cap oil profits.

"Gas prices are still up over $3 a gallon in parts of the state," Canter said "They still need to take action."
So it's not cost effective to mail the petition to D.C., but it is cost effective to have state employees spend hour after hour scanning each page in electronically? And they actually blame their inability to write a cover page as the reason it took an extra couple of weeks?

I would love Canter to explain to me exactly how capping oil company profits provides lower cost fuel at the pump. Rather than lower the cost, oil companies would probably either shut down more stations or spend more money on research and development to make it under the "profit cap." This makes about as much sense as my second favorite idea - the "windfall profits tax," which would actually raise the cost of gas, so oil companies could recoup their lost revenue from having to pay more in taxes.

And finally, we hear from another "woman on the street:"
Traci Wojnowski of Appleton recently took a new job in Oshkosh. She is spending $6 a day on gasoline, a cost she says adds up.

"This is ridiculous," Wojnowski said. "Somebody has to do something."

As long as that someone isn't Traci Wojnowski, who can't possibly be asked to cut back on her constitutional right to use as much gas as she wants.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Death Hits the Campaign Trail in Support of Referendum

Madison (AP) - Noted Prince of Darkness Death today announced he would be touring Wisconsin in support of the November statewide referendum to reinstate the death penalty. "Death really has been in kind of a slump lately," said Death. "We need to rethink how we're doing things in Wisconsin, or open more hang gliding parks, one or the other," he said. "Death can really be a growth industry with a little government help," said the Reaper, citing the millions of dollars in economic development corpses can help stimulate.

Death said that since the Legislature began passing bills like the one requiring car seats for all children up to age 20, there hasn't been much business. "Back when people were responsible for their own safety, there was plenty of activity out there," said Death. "Now, I just sit around and play Sudoku all day," he added.

Advocacy groups are concerned that re-instating the death penalty will give Death a monopoly on a valuable state service. In 2003, a scandal broke out when it was discovered that Death made a $10,000 contribution to Governor Doyle's campaign in exchange for the lucrative death contract. Previous to getting the contract, Death specialized in visiting people at the mall who offer to rub lotion on you and stabbing them in the eyes.

Death has had a long history in politics, beginning in 1971 when he held a steady job at Planned Parenthood. After inventing the Culver's butter burger, he became General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers throughout the '90s, where he single handedly euthanized the organization for a decade. He recently has been hired by the Doyle campaign as campaign manager, and has immediately applied his delicate touch, as evidenced by Doyle's plummeting poll numbers. His past campaigns have been somewhat unsuccessful, as anyone that shook his hand immediately dropped dead, which is a trick he learned from Kathleen Falk.

Death cut his press conference short, as he received 31 simultaneous calls requesting an emergency visit from boyfriends at Star Cinema who were forced to see "Failure to Launch." Death said he needed to stop by the UW stem cell lab to pick up some embryos before he paid a visit to Joan Rivers. "I'm a busy man," he said, noting he was hung over last week and missed an appointment with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Skool Roolz!

I hadn't looked at my old yearbooks in probably a decade, but tonight my daughter asked to look at one of them. What I found inside was the most spectacularly awesome "mustache to mullet ratio" I have ever witnessed. This should probably put to rest any false feelings of superiority you have about your high school - obviously, mine comes up big where it really counts. My school should have been awarded more federal "No Mullet Left Behind" money as a reward. I suppose you could find some kind of cultural anthropologist to do an analysis of what year I graduated, but whatever - this is worth it. I kid you not - these are all from the same class, and all scanned in by me tonight.

And in the special women's division, we have:

At some point, hundreds of hair spray companies must have gone under when these looks came crashing down.

I kid you not, this girl was voted "Best Dressed:"

And this girl was voted "Most Individual," which is code for "Most Likely to Want You Dead."

If anyone wants to send me submissions to the Mullet/Mustache hall of fame, I'll be happy to post them. Until then, kneel down and worship my school, as you should.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Doyle's Inconvenient Truth

I know, I know - I'm supposed to be taking a break. But this one wrote itself.

Encouraging news for those suffering from Alzheimer's today, and you'll notice it has nothing to do with stem cells.

An experimental vaccine is showing promise against Alzheimer's disease, reducing brain deposits that are blamed for the disorder. The deposits have been cut by between 15.5 percent and 38.5 percent in mice, with no major side effects, researchers said Monday in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tests of the DNA-based vaccine are under way in monkeys, and if those are successful, testing in people could begin, perhaps within three years, said lead researcher Yoh Matsumoto of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience in Japan.

If all goes well, this type of treatment might be available for people in six or seven years, he said.

And the company that funded part of this scientific research? Novartis - which, by the way, is an evil pharmaceutical company. I know it may shock some of you that scientific research actually does take place outside the walls of the UW-Madison (the repository of all knowledge in the world), and good news like this is a blow to the Doyle Stem Cell Election Machine.

Interestingly, there's really only one major impediment to this kind of groundbreaking research. That would be either capping the cost of pharmaceuticals, or allowing people to purchase drugs from Canada, which has price caps in place. The more people that take advantage of the price caps, the less money pharmaceutical companies will have to invest in potentially life-saving research. Want to make sure we never cure AIDS? Take away drug companies' research and development budgets.

And, of course, it's not completely altruistic - if Novartis can figure out a cure for Alzheimer's, they stand to make a fortune. But wouldn't it be best to have that cure in the first place? This is what makes our health care system the best in the world - profit motive forces companies to try new and creative research so they can ultimately benefit in the end. Take away the profit incentive, and the motive to cure diseases goes along with it.

Of course, you won't hear any of this good news in Jim Doyle's talking points, since it doesn't fit the "Republicans want to kill granny" template. He'll go on promising that stem cell research will cure everything from foot odor to decapitation, and ignoring the most promising research that might yield real results.

This is what happens when two panders collide. On the one hand, Doyle wants to promote cloning human embryos (which hasn't been done successfully yet), as a cure for everything under the sun. Yet another of his policies actually damages the chance of real research taking place that already has measurable benefits.

And for all the lefties that think pharmaceutical companies are making too much profit, feel free to buy stock in those companies. If they're really as profitable as you think, you'll be able to afford that new Prius in no time.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Break Time

Since I have reached the maximum number of posts the Bloggers Union allows before a mandatory break, I will be taking the next week or so off from posting. Actually, being on Jessica's blogroll three times is just wearing me out.

In all honesty, as one loyal reader pointed out, I will be attempting to infiltrate the Doyle administration by posing as a gardener at the executive residence. I will be investigating a reported human cloning operation in the basement of the mansion - apparently, Doyle is trying to clone Craig Adelman 10 more times so he can raise another $100,000 for his campaign.

In my absence, feel free to keep hope alive by posting something interesting in the comments section of this post. You guys own this blog for a few days - don't let me down.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June Quick Thoughts

Just some random musings for you suckers that came in to work on a June Friday:

I'm shocked that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. missile in Iraq. Wasn't J.B. Van Hollen telling us he was living in a condo in Menomonee Falls?

What exactly does the phrase "prematurely balding" mean? At what age are you "supposed" to go bald? 30? 35? Can we have a ruling on this? Can a 35 year old guy say he's going "prematurely gray?"

Have you ever been driving in your car, seen a fine lady far away, then said these words to yourself as you pull closer? "Please, God... don't... be... thirteen... years... old... NO!!!! ICK!"

Good, neither have I. You passed the test. You have avoided a house call from John Mercure.

Last Sunday, Phil Brinkman wrote a story about the Georgia Thompson trial in which he quoted UW Law Professor Frank Tuerkheimer, who said, "The very fact that there's a trial tells me that whatever pressure has been brought against her to name names hasn't worked... I would infer that there are no names to name." Of course, a quick check shows Tuerkheimer to be a Jim Doyle campaign donor. Nice unbiased source there backing his boy Doyle up.

If two anonymous bloggers have an argument, does it really exist at all?

On draft night, the Bucks are planning on unveiling new uniforms. They don't even have to pay me for my great advice - a couple years ago, they wore some of the old Oscar Robertson era uniforms, and they couldn't have looked better. I'm talking the old simple green and red bad boys. You can't possibly go wrong with those. I'm telling you.

As much as I detest Barry Bonds, I agree any investigation into steroids should look at the whole picture. The first place would be to look at players who had statistically ridiculous seasons late in their careers: I nominate Greg Vaughn's 50 home runs in 1998 with the Padres and Luis Gonzalez' 57 home runs in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Dentists can actually tell whether you're left or right handed based on what side of your mouth has more plaque. It's true. In fact, I blame the fact that all my teeth have rotted out of my head on my lack of arms.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Doyle's Despicable Stem Cell Charade

Would you perpetuate a cruel lie if it would help you win a political office? Would you give false hope to thousands of suffering families if it would help you raise cash for your campaign? If you answered “no,” you clearly aren’t Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

On Doyle’s campaign website, he has a special section devoted to stem cell research, where he says:

Science should never take a back seat to politics and we should never turn our back on the millions of families around the world affected by Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries and juvenile diabetes.
What Doyle doesn’t tell you is that stem cell research doesn’t have anything to do with Alzheimer’s. Good thing science isn't taking a back seat to politics.

Following Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, stem cell research emerged as a major issue, promising to solve diseases that affect our most vulnerable citizens. Lost in the excitement about what stem cells could do for us was a rational discussion about what stem cells can’t do. As it turns out, no amount of stem cell research would have helped Reagan. In June of 2004, the Washington Post reported:

But given the lack of any serious suggestion that stem cells themselves have practical potential to treat Alzheimer's, the Reagan-inspired tidal wave of enthusiasm stands as an example of how easily a modest line of scientific inquiry can grow in the public mind to mythological proportions. It is a distortion that some admit is not being aggressively corrected by scientists.

"To start with, people need a fairy tale," said Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand..."

In contrast to Parkinson's, diabetes and spinal injuries, Alzheimer's disease involves the loss of huge numbers and varieties of the brain's 100 billion nerve cells -- and countless connections, or synapses, among them. "The complex architecture of the brain, the fact that it's a diffuse disease with neuronal loss in numerous places and with synaptic loss, all this is a problem" for any strategy involving cell replacement, said Huntington Potter, a brain researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa and chief executive of the Johnnie B. Byrd Institute for Alzheimer's Research.

Even Alzheimer’s advocates dismiss the applicability of stem cells in treatment:

"Stem cells, although they're promising for other diseases, it's not very likely practically that they'll be used for Alzheimer's disease, because the way stem cell replacement is practiced in clinical research is by surgically implanting stem cells into regions of the brain where there has been degeneration, and that's fairly local in terms of Parkinson's disease and Huntington's, but for the entire cerebral cortex you're talking about making dozens of little holes in the skull," says Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia (and member of the Alzheimer's Association, a national nonprofit advocacy organization).

Sheldon L. Goldberg, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, tells WebMD that few or none of the 800 or so grant applications for research funding received by the association this year have been for stem cell research.
In fact, physicians across the board don’t believe stem cells hold out any hope for Alzheimer’s patients, the way they do for Parkinson’s and other diseases. But don’t let that get in the way of medical expert Jim "Dr. Dollaz" Doyle, who needs to prey on the false hopes of Alzheimer’s patients and families in order to win re-election.

Just as sickening as Doyle’s malicious mistruths about the nature of stem cells is his naked politicization of such a complicated moral issue. Today, he issued a press release announcing he would be introduced at his party’s ultimate political event, the state Democratic convention, by a mother whose daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. Doyle actually announced today that he's making stem cell research the centerpiece of his convention presentation. If Jim Doyle walked down Wisconsin Avenue handing out stem cells in exchange for homeless votes, it wouldn't be as political as making the issue your convention theme.

This comes right on the heels of a report that the Doyle campaign is paying to advertise their support of stem cell research on internet search engines. People who go to Google searching for terms like “multiple sclerosis” or “stem cells” will find an advertisement from the Doyle campaign inviting them over to their website, where they can conveniently make a campaign contribution. In fact, the ad comes up if you search for “Alzheimer’s Disease,” which means his campaign included it as one of their key words.

So for those of you keeping score at home, "Science should never take a backseat to politics" is being pushed by the guy using key words like "stem cell" to RAISE MONEY FOR HIS CAMPAIGN.

Once at the site, you can learn all about how much money the state can make by encouraging stem cell research, and how evil Republicans are for trying to “criminalize” research. The moral detachment is stunning - it’s as if he’s trying to lure a Krispy Kreme franchise to Madison. Of course, it’s impossible that anybody has a legitimate opposition to cloning human embryos. If they do, it’s just “political.” He has yet to answer why the issue is such a big “political” winner for Republicans when 60% of Wisconsinites support the practice. Of course, one has to wonder how accurate a picture the public is getting when they rely on their governor for information.

The bill as passed by the Legislature, incidentally, didn't prohibit stem cell research - it merely prohibited cloning human embryos for the purpose of killing them to harvest their stem cells. Existing embryos would still be available for research purposes. Someone might want to tell the Democrats that voted for the bill that they're in the wrong party.

Does stem cell research have immense potential? Of course it does. The issue, however, is immensely complicated and has serious moral implications. It certainly doesn’t help when Wisconsin’s governor poisons the well with false information intended to boost his own election prospects. Any legitimate discussion of the issue recognizes the strengths of each side of the argument. Except, of course, when there’s campaign fundraising to do, in which case it is necessary to mislead and demonize.

Doyle’s lies about stem cells aren’t just run of the mill campaigning. They confuse the elderly and their families, and they coarsen the debate about a very serious moral issue. The politicization of the stem cell debate is truly beneath the contempt of any thinking individual. It appears that Doyle will keep up this despicable charade as long as human embryos don’t make campaign contributions.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cutting Edge UW News

Consensus opinion seems to be against the UW System for their proposal to raise in-state tuition while cutting nonresident tuition. While I understand the arguments that the UW System should serve Wisconsin students first, I actually (conditionally) think the plan might not be that bad of an idea. (I will explain in a subsequent post how anal warts actually make you a better Scrabble player.)

In 2005-06, in-state students pay $4,277 per year for tuition (at the non-Milwaukee/Madison schools). Out-of-staters pay $14,323 to go to the same schools, or more than three times as much as the in-staters. The UW has likely found that out of state tuition has reached a tipping point – when it reaches a certain level, out of state students stop coming, and take their nearly $15,000 with them (would you rack up $60,000 in debt to go to Platteville for four years?).

This hurts in-state students, as they are left to make up the difference through their tuition. It is actually in the in-state students’ best interest to have more out-of-state students in the system, since each out-of-stater pays for three in-staters to go to school.

The statistics from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau bear this out. According to the LFB, the non-Minnesota nonresidents make up 30.3% of the total students, yet pay in 60% of the total tuition at UW-Madison. For the entire UW system, non-Minnesota nonresidents makeup 19% of the undergrads, yet pay in 33.3% of the total tuition. So it’s clearly in everyone’s best interest to have more out-of-staters here to carry the tuition load.

My support of the plan is conditioned on two caveats (incidentally, my endorsement and $1.50 will get you a bus ride to Hilldale Mall). First, the new out-of-state students shouldn’t displace in-state students, as the UW has said they won’t. Secondly, the UW actually needs to take this new revenue from out-of-staters and use it to hold tuition down for in-state students, rather than just treating it as new revenue and going on as usual.

Nobody has made more fun of the UW than I, but I do think this could actually work if done correctly. It’s not as if the UW has built up the goodwill necessary for people to trust them on fiscal matters.

Of course, this timely post likely won't be enough to sway the bloggers who have already ripped the plan. Stay tuned for more news from two weeks ago (I am actually 100% for the girl who ripped John McCain in her graduation speech, by the way).

More Fun With the Kid

I recently have started eating Froot Loops for breakfast. While I shovel them down, my daughter looks at them longingly, asking if she can have some. What's ironic is that I have to explain to her that a cereal with a cartoon toucan on the box and that comes in neon colors is an "adult" cereal.

That also conjures up strange images of what "adult" cereal is - like, it comes wrapped in a paper bag and you have it sent to a P.O. box that your wife doesn't know you have.

Also, the price that the readers have to pay for following this blog is that I get to brag incessantly about my daughter. The other day she drew a picture of Dwyane Wade for me that blows me away on many levels. First, that she's starting to share some of my interests. Secondly, that she's starting to draw actual things that she sees and understands. Thirdly, that you can be a complete dope and still be blessed with such a great child.

So without further ado, here's the picture that your child was likely incapable of drawing:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Georgia Thompson Apprehended at Mexican Border

El Paso, TX (AP) - With the second day of her federal trial for bid-rigging about to begin, former Wisconsin Department of Administration official Georgia Thompson was apprehended at the U.S/Mexico border. According to sources on the scene, Thompson recently read about how easy it was to escape U.S. law enforcement officials by fleeing across the southern border to Mexico.

Thompson's plan was to fully immerse herself in the ways of Mexico, beginning by stealing the job of a well-paid American worker. Thompson believed assimilating her way into Latino culture wouldn't be difficult, as she already had her last name in large letters on her car's back windshield, and in 1983, she scored a #4 hit in Mexico as a member of Menudo.

Governor Jim Doyle, when reached for comment, said that Thompson was originally hired by the McCallum administration and didn't have a political bone in her body. When it was pointed out that if she truly wasn't political it means that she was told to rig the contract from someone higher up in the administration, Doyle mesmerized reporters by doing the detached thumb trick, then ran out of the room while the press tried to figure out how the hell he did it.

Earlier, Doyle dodged questions about whether he had hired an attorney to represent him in the proceedings. Doyle said that not only had he not hired an attorney, he didn't know what an attorney was and even if he did, nobody had contributed enough to his campaign to earn the right to represent him.

Investigators first became suspicious when Adelman Travel was awarded the state travel contract, despite only providing travel via Golden Retriever. Thompson's co-workers said she would always speak in code, saying things like “the buzzard flies without cigarettes,” “the walrus is eating the deodorant,” and “I don’t care how crappy Adelman is, they gave Doyle a lot of money, and he told me he'd kick my ass if they didn't get the damn contract.”

Thompson was able to make the trip by receiving a "frequent liar" discount from Adelman Travel. It was believed that she was going to go by the name "Bernardo Neumann-Ortiz." In her pocket was found a phone number for a "Gary Jorge," believed to be living in a grass hut in Mazatlan.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Blanchard's Violence Against Common Sense

Both fans of this site probably know that I tend to pack it in on Fridays and not post until the next week. But when I saw a quote from Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard in, I was moved to immediate action. Read this as if I was yelling it, or at least typing really loud.

Blanchard has filed a brief with the Dane County Circuit Court to have convicted former Speaker of the Assembly Scott Jensen held in custody pending appeal of his conviction of campaigning with state resources. The Wispolitics account includes this passage:

Blanchard also attempts to shoot down the claim that Jensen is entitled to the release because he was not convicted of a violent crime. He admits while the multiple counts of misconduct in public office don't constitute personal violence, "(Jensen) did do violence to the trust necessary to a democratic system of government." And Jensen's attitude toward his offense makes him likely to recommit, Blanchard argues.
Recommit? He’s not in the Legislature anymore – where exactly is he going to recommit? As speaker of his daughter’s playgroup?

The more interesting portion of the filing deals with the idea of “violence.” Blanchard apparently isn’t embarrassed to make the case that Jensen did “violence” to democracy, and therefore serves as a threat to society.

Liberals like Blanchard constantly make the case that we shouldn’t have nonviolent criminals in jail. Yet somehow, we have a nonviolent criminal who is the former Republican Speaker of the Assembly, and he deserves to be behind bars? And to reconcile this obvious inconsistency, Blanchard makes an absolutely absurd attempt to define Jensen as “violent.”

And if this is an attempt to “send a message” to other legislators about the gravity of the crime, isn’t Blanchard now making a conservative argument? Isn’t this the point that right wingers have been making - that despite some offenders being “nonviolent,” that jail time can serve as a deterrent? Don’t drug dealers and check forgers “do violence to the trust” of our society?

So Scott Jensen is more of a threat to our public safety than a drug dealer? Am I going to have to lock my doors tonight because Scott Jensen might be outside my house threatening to print some campaign literature with state money?

One of Blanchard's other arguments is that Jensen should be detained because it is unlikely he will win his appeal. Like Blanchard is going to go before the court and say "Judge, I did a really crappy job of prosecuting this case, and the evidence I presented was full of holes." Of course he's going to say Jensen is unlikely to win his appeal, because to do otherwise would be to impugn the veracity of his own prosecution. Is this even really a valid argument?

The only more ridiculous statement I remember a public official making this year was the crazy Madison alderwoman that supports banning chewing tobacco because it might get on someone’s infected foot. Of course, nobody will even question Blanchard’s rock solid reasoning on this, and the local paper will continue to hail him as a hero.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Local Anchor Upset at Lack of Stalker

(Madison) – Local WKOW anchor Christa Dubill today announced that she would be accepting applications for a crazy person to become her personal stalker. Dubill expressed her irritation that nobody had yet come forward to serve as her stalker, despite her tenure as the station’s premier female news anchor.

“All of the groundbreaking female anchors throughout history have had some delusional individual on their tail,” said Dubill. “What’s wrong with me? I check my e-mail every day, and nothing. It’s all women wanting to talk about their babies and crap like that.”

“I work my tail off on the newscasts, and that hussy Elizabeth Hopkins gets all the good stalker mail,” Dubill complained. “It’s all ‘I want to touch your booty’ this, and ‘I want to test your melons’ that. Why doesn’t anyone want to touch my booty?” asked Dubill.

Hopkins admitted she has gotten plenty of stalker e-mail, but clarified that 72% of it is comprised offers to “love you down” by a “P. Barrows” at the University of Wisconsin.

Dubill noted that Channel 27 weatherman and stone-cold lover Bob Lindmeier has a bus full of adoring female fans waiting for him at the end of every broadcast. Lindmeier has said that he provides each member of his female fan club with the “4 minute guarantee.” His popularity has grown in recent years, since the weather forecast now takes up 28 minutes of a 30 minute news broadcast.

"What better story could there be than me hunting down my own stalker?" said Dubill. "I'm tired of sitting behind this desk reading all the dopey news that other people write for me," she said. "This could be my big break," she said.

A controversy arose recently when Channel 3 editoral director Neil Heinen was bragging about his stalker, and it was discovered that "" was actually Heinen sending e-mails to himself. The plot was uncovered when police failed to believe than anyone other than Heinen himself could understand his ridiculously disjointed, hot air editorials.

Potential stalker Oscar Kreutzer, 27, when reached in his parents' basement for comment, said he’s been too busy making paper mache dolls of Becky Hiller to be sidetracked.