Friday, November 28, 2014

Sore Losers

On Saturday, the most-contested rivalry in college football will take place again at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison--as the Wisconsin Badgers play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Big Ten West Division title will be on the line--along with a berth in the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State.  But more importantly--yes more importantly--Paul Bunyan's Axe will also be on the line. 

If you've never seen it, The Axe is six-feet long--has the Badgers' colors on one side of the blade and the Gophers' colors on the other.  It has been kept with the winning team (or the current holders in the case of a tie) since 1948 after the original trophy The Slab of Bacon disappeared (it was found years later in the Wisconsin storage room).  And part of the great tradition within the tradition is the winning team running to the sideline--removing The Axe from its case and running around the stadium to celebrate with their fans.  The players then use The Axe to "chop down" the goalposts.







Unfortunately, that part of the tradition won't happen tomorrow at Camp Randall.  Last year, after the Badgers won The Axe for the TENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, members of the Gophers decided they were not going to let the Badgers chop down the goalposts.  That led to a skirmish (but no punches thrown) before the Badgers continued on their victory lap.  Hoping to avoid a similar incident this year, Badgers Head Coach Gary Andersen announced a new "tradition" for the awarding of The Axe.

The Axe will be brought out to midfield for the opening coin flip--and then will disappear to an undisclosed location away from the field for the rest of the game.  After the contest is over, the winning team will have to head into their locker room, where The Axe will be presented to them--out of site of the fans who want to win it just as badly as the players do.  The team will then have the option to return to the field to celebrate--after the opponent has left.

Needless to say, I hate this "new tradition".  If the Golden Gophers were so "hurt" by seeing the Badgers chop down the goalposts for the TENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR perhaps they should have put more effort into keeping Melvin Gordon out of the endzone during the game and less effort into gathering around the goalposts after the game.  If you can't handle losing, then you shouldn't be playing organized sports at this level.  Go coach youth soccer where nobody keeps score and everyone goes home with their own Axe at the end of the season.  Seeing your opponent celebrate a victory of you should instill within you a burning desire to be better so you don't have to experience that again for an ELEVENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR.  I was at the Metrodome the last time the Gophers won The Axe--and the site of their English kicker Rhys Lloyd sprinting to the Badgers sideline to grab The Axe after his last second field goal is still burned into my mind and I can feel the rage building inside of me.

And the fact that it was Gary Andersen and Barry Alvarez that concocted this "we don't want to rub it in" scheme that chaps my hide even more.  I know that Barry took great pride in winning The Axe and really raised the level of intensity in the rivalry again.  The one thing that I liked the most about Bret Bielema is that he took every opportunity to run it up against Minnesota--once going for two while up by 25 late in the 4th Quarter.  That is the type of attitude you have to have when you are playing your most-hated rival for the coolest trophy in college sports.  Not some "we are almost ashamed to win this and boy we really feel sorry for those other guys who haven't won in ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS" crap that we are going to see (or not see) on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

That For Which I am Thankful

As we prepare to give thanks as a nation, let me list the things for which I am grateful this year:

I am thankful that I have ways of expressing love and gratitude to my family and friends that do not involve having to leave said family on Thanksgiving night to stand in line at a retailer to purchase an item to give them at our next holiday--lest they think that I am the worst person in the world if I fail to give them that deeply-discounted item.

I am thankful that because of good budgeting, I don't have to stand in line at midnight on Friday morning in order to secure an amazing deal on some piece of electronics that I could only afford by getting up in the middle of the night and still having to put it on a credit card to pay back--with interest--until next Black Friday.

I am thankful that my wife has not yet killed in my sleep after reminding me for the fourth night in a row that I had not put away the clean laundry or done the dishes--even though she always reminds of that right as I am going to bed.

I am thankful that my employer continues to provide us with a High Deductible-Health Savings Account insurance policy that saves me thousands of dollars a year and helps the plan keep expenses down all while giving me greater control of my health care spending by actually paying attention to price--since I'm footing most of the bill--not to mention keeping us from having to go into the Federal Exchange to buy our coverage.

I am thankful--as always--for NFL RedZone Channel for being the greatest invention in the history of broadcast television sports.

I am thankful that my wife and I no longer have to do business with a local company that gave me a tremendous amount of grief and aggravation in trying to purchase a gift certificate and gave my wife plenty of grief in trying to schedule services with them and then again when she tried to use said gift certificate--even though the cash was already in their till and whom we would NEVER recommend you shop at for Small Business Saturday.

And I am extremely grateful that we have a two week trip to Hawaii coming up next year to give us an escape from what appears to be another long, cold and snowy winter that threatens to further sap my strength and resolve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NOBODY Won Last NIght

I have a question for all of those who were trumpeting yesterday's grand jury decision not to press charges against Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson as a "Victory for justice": How do you know?  Did you hear all 80-hours of testimony in the case?  Did you see all of the pieces of physical and forensic evidence?  Were you briefed on what rises to the level of probable cause in deciding whether or not to indict a suspect (remember, this was just to decide if there was enough evidence to try Wilson--this was not to determine if he was guilty or not)?  Then what makes you so sure that the right decision was reached in this case?

Unless you answered "yes" to all of the questions above--and only the members of the grand jury can say that--then you are basing your definition of justice on the preconceived notions you brought to the case in the first place.  You likely believe that Officer Wilson was just riding along, asked politely to talk to Michael Brown about a shoplifting incident earlier that day at a convenience store and that Brown turned on him and was going to kill him in order not to be arrested for stealing cigars and that Officer Wilson was justified to shoot him as many times as necessary to keep that from happening. 

Well, if you believe that is the "truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" then you are just as wrong as the people who took to the streets last night to destroy Ferguson--and who believe that Michael Brown was just walking along minding his own business when racist Officer Wilson stopped him--only because he is a young, black man--harassed him and then opened fire on him even after Brown begged for him to stop.

Many people took to social media platforms last night to deride the protesters and the rioters for the "legal expertise".  But those in the street knew just as much about the facts of the case as those sitting in their recliners hundreds or thousands of miles away from Ferguson.  And they have no more right to "celebrate" the grand jury's decision than the mobs have to destroy the property of people who had nothing to do with the incident.

Maybe a starting point for "the discussion we need to have" should be the widely-held belief that justice is only attained when the person of your color wins the decision.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Self-Gerrymanderization

One of the catch phrases used by Liberals to explain away their huge losses in the Mid-term Elections this months was "we were facing a tough map".  Another popular term was "Gerrymandering".  Both were used as excuses for Democrats losing races based on specific districts--but continuing to do OK in races decided on a statewide basis.



When you look at the historical basis for the term "Gerrymandering" you find that Democratic Governor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry used his power to create Congressional districts in 1812 that followed no boundaries other than areas where his party did well in elections.  That led to long, sinewy and even disconnected districts that observers of the day notices looked like salamanders.  Thus the term "Gerrymander" was developed from the Governor's last name and the animal.

Now take a look at Wisconsin's map--for both Congressional and Legislative districts.  Do you see anything remotely similar to a "Gerrymandered" district in there?  And keep in mind, that population numbers in each district must be pretty much the same.

If Democrats are going to start blaming "the map" for their election defeats, then they have no one but themselves to blame.  The party is becoming more and more urban--with greater numbers of its voters concentrated into smaller and smaller geographic areas--while Republicans have remained in the suburban and rural parts of the country producing those maps that show the small areas of dark blue--surrounded by vast swaths of red every election cycle.

Liberals have chosen to take over the segments of government services and education that are usually found in larger cities.  And because they want to take public transit or bike paths or their electric cars with the 60-mile range to work everyday, they have basically tied themselves to living within those cities.  And by piling themselves ever more on top of each other, Democrats make it much easier to contain their voting power in a small number of districts that Republicans are willing to forfeit for the sake of winning in a larger majority of districts across the rest of the state (and the nation).

In fact, if we were to make all districts "competitive" as many political watchdogs (and suburban and rural Democrats) are demanding, you would have to "Gerrymander".  Milwaukee and Madison would have to be divided into pie-shaped segments with districts winding around to pick up "Republican" suburbs and rural areas just to make all the population numbers balance out.  Of course, Democrats will never demand that happen--as it would put all of their less-than-stellar but "safe" candidates at risk (not to mention any Gwen Moore's by name).

So my advice to Democrats in the minority would be to move.  You never know, you might come to like the quiet, the lack of crime, the economic development and the freedom to actually move around a little bit in "Republican Country".

Friday, November 21, 2014

So Just Some People Shouldn't Have to Work

I'm getting a little tired of the "No one should have to work at (insert retailer's name here) on Thanksgiving" crowd.  Yes, it's pathetic that we have a nation of shoppers who can't wait another six hours to buy gifts for people who will have completely forgotten that they even got that gift, and who it was from, by the Super Bowl.  But the idea that "no one should have to be away from their families" is hypocritical.

We don't shut down hospitals on Thanksgiving (or Christmas for that matter) do we?  Don't those people "deserve to be with their families" just as much as the cashier at Walmart?  How about the Fire Department workers who respond to the turkey fryer fires? Or the policemen who break up the drunken fights between your uncles over President Obama's latest unconstitutional Executive Order? Or the ambulance drivers who pick up everyone that ate the underdone dark meat on the turkey and are now sick to their stomachs?  Where is the "outrage" that they have to work?

Sure you can say those are "essential services" that must be staffed 24/7/365.  But how about the camera guys who are shooting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade?  Or the people in the production trucks for the three football games on Thursday?  Or the guy working the board in the radio station studio and playing the commercials during the game broadcast for those listening in their cars?  Do you get all high and mighty and condemn everyone that tunes in for those broadcasts because "they are taking someone away from their families"?  How willing would you be to sit in the living room for eight hours on Thursday and not have football to keep everyone from actually having to talk to each other?

And what about the people who work at gas stations and convenience stores?  You'd prefer that there be no way to fill up your car when you are running low on the way back from Grandma's house in the cold and the dark?  Fast food restaurants are open as well--for those who just need a quick bite to eat or who don't have anyone cooking up a major feast for them.  Movie theaters are open on Thanksgiving--and so are bars.  In fact, I've seen some of the busiest nights of the year in taverns on Turkey day--since so many people have off of work the next day.  All of those bartenders and waitresses should be at home too?

And what about the people that really need the money they are being paid for working on Thanksgiving?  For some, it may be time and a half or overtime?  Maybe that one day of work will cover the cost of just as big a meal with just as many family members on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Or it might put a few extra gifts for their kids under the tree at Christmas.  They should be denied the opportunity to make that cash just because their working (of their own free will) "offends" your sensibilities?

I have shopped at Festival Foods on several Thanksgivings recently--always because I forgot to pick something up the week before--or maybe I thought I had enough of some ingredient but it turns out I didn't.  And while I did feel a little bit guilty, I also appreciated that I was able to purchase what I needed for that day.  And I've taken to the habit of thanking the cashier at the checkout for being on the job to serve me that morning.  It would be great if the Walmart and Target and Macy's shoppers would do the same Thursday night.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Middle Finger Speech

American political history is marked with addresses that have come to be known by famous names.  Abraham Lincoln had the Gettysburg Address.  Franklin Roosevelt had his "Fireside Chats".  Berlin, Germany saw both John F Kennedy's "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech and Ronald Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech.  Heck, even Richard Nixon had the "Checkers Speech".  And now tonight, Barack Obama is going to deliver what will likely be remembered as the "Middle Finger Speech"--as the President delivers a big "Eff You" to Republicans, some of the moderate members of his own party, the two-thirds of Americans who disapprove of his job as President, those who came to this country through legal means and members of the African-American community.

I would hope that the President would explain tonight why just a week after Republicans re-gained control in the Senate, "solving" immigration through Executive Order became such a matter of urgency?  What changed from the week before the election--when Democrats were begging him NOT to take such actions because they knew it would snuff out what little chances they had to win anything across the country.  And what is going to escalate the "crisis" in the six weeks between now and when the GOP starts passing bills out of the Senate for the first time in six years?

I would hope that the President would also explain to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu why he hates her so much.  Why would he torpedo the last hopes that she had of winning her runoff election next month by taking this step?  Of course, he was going to blow her out of the water with his veto pen had her last-ditch effort to get the Keystone XL Pipeline permitted hadn't been derailed by her fellow Democrats like Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

I would hope that the President would explain to the 61% of those who disapprove of his job performance why he has decided to further alienate them--and disregard what they want for this country.  Has he decided that since no one likes him anymore he's just going to spite everyone on the the way out the door?  Does he want to see if Rachel Maddow and Paul Krugman will continue to tout him as the "Greatest President Ever" regardless of how hard he tries to prove them wrong?

I would hope that the President takes a moment to directly address those that went through the arduous process of legally emigrating to this country to explain why their efforts essentially amounted to nothing.  I expect that he will give them the "we appreciate your respect for our laws" line--before telling them that now they are in the same position as all of those that snuck in under the cover of night.  He'll probably try to salve that wound with the "it's the moral thing for us to do" line--he likes that one.

And finally, I would hope that the President will speak to the African-Americans who have become a permanently under-educated and under-employed population as to why he is pushing them another rung down on the economic and social ladder.  What would the situations of today's urban Blacks be if 11-million people currently working for low wages in the "jobs Americans don't want to do anymore" weren't there--and employers had to meet market demands by increasing the wages for those positions (without being ordered by the Government to do so)?  I'd like to think that Reverend Al Sharpton would follow this speech tonight with the question "Why is the President so committed to jobs for Hispanics and Latinos--but is only interested in giving African-Americans more welfare?"--but I know better than to expect anything that probative from those on the Left.

I'd encourage you to sit down tonight and get your middle finger from the President right to your face--but the TV networks believe you don't actually want to see it.  ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX have all declined to carry the address--pushing it instead to their news channels.  I like to think of it as their own sign that they no longer care about this administration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Helping Nature

If anyone wants to see what happens when the Government and bureaucrats attempt to "help nature", just take a look at the deer management efforts undertaken by the Wisconsin DNR over the past 25-years.  Around 1989, the Department estimated that there were more than 1.1-million deer in Wisconsin--and that was "too many".  So ultra-aggressive hunting measures were put into place to increase the number of deer harvested every fall, thus "helping" control the population.

You may recall there was the "Earn a Buck" requirement--which forced hunters to shoot a doe or an antlerless deer before taking one with a trophy rack.  And there was "Hunters Choice"--where you could shoot a doe or a buck at any time.  And there were October "Zone T Hunts" held in areas where the DNR decided there were still too many deer.  And then there were special hunts in December after the regular gun-deer season.  There were even "CWD Hunts"--where unlimited numbers of deer could be shot in an effort to "control" the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

So what has been the result of all this "deer management"?  A wildly-imbalanced deer population, that sees the animals' numbers dwindling in the northern part of the state--where it used to be the highest--and still "too many deer" in the southern part of the state.  Ask anyone who hunts and they will tell you it is pretty much useless to head north of Highway 64 anymore, because there are just no deer up there.  After the state tried to "help Mother Nature" for all of those years by artificially increasing the deer kill, Mother Nature took her own "natural" steps to cull the herd--namely, severe winters with heavy snowfall and extreme cold--which limits the amount of food available to deer, causing a natural die off that had been part of the "circle of life" for tens of thousands of years.

And what makes the "Great Northern Deer Disaster" even worse, is that part of the state has wide swaths of National and State Forests that provide public access to hunters.  Access that is not nearly as available in the southern part of the state, where deer are most commonly found on private property--damaging farm crops, running on our highways and wandering around our cities.  That means fewer people can hunt where there actually are deer--and the greater probability of ending up with "tag soup" turns people off to hunting--so they stay home.  The DNR admitted this week that license sales are down sharply this fall.

And that has an economic effect as well.  Towns like Crivitz and Three Lakes and Tomahawk rely on the influx of the Orange Army every year to provide big bucks (of the cash variety) at shops, restaurants and bars for the week around Thanksgiving.  Places like Waupaca and Wausau and Beaver Dam don't need that cash infusion nearly as much as the folks Up North.  Besides, most guys would prefer the "deer camp experience" in the woods, than just driving a few miles into the country from their own homes every morning to hunt.

Will turning deer management over to "the people" as Wisconsin's Deer Czar recommended restore some balance?  That will probably take another 25-years to determine.  But in the meantime we'll just have to live with the results of the "experts"--and hope that a tradition can survive.