\”Accountability,\” Indeed

September 30 2008 by Christian | Category: Elections | 0 Comments »

This week, I appeared on the \”Here and Now\” show on Wisconsin Public Television to discuss the uselessness of the Government Accountability Board – which continues to operate in violation of federal law by not having an accurate voter list.

In an Associated Press story today, UW-Madison political scientist Charles Franklin agrees:

\”Surely they (other states) faced major problems as well. I think they\’re a demonstration that it could have been done effectively and on time,\” said University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Charles Franklin. \”The system could have been up and operating a year ago.\”

When I was finished filming my piece, one of the Wisconsin Public TV employees came up to me and mocked my contention that people are out stuffing the voter rolls with fraudulent names.  \”Those people out stealing votes – are they riding unicorns while they\’re doing it?\” they said.

Well, it appears the first one of those unicorns is in handcuffs.

Here\’s the video:

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A Steaming Helping of High School Wisdom

September 30 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

Now, I readily concede that I\’m close to the upper age limit for Facebook. Anyone older than me, and it gets pretty creepy. But I have to say, Facebook is kind of freaking me out.

You see, more and more of my classmates are coming online and adding me as a Facebook friend. And in a lot of cases, I have no recollection of who these people are. When I do remember them, there\’s generally a reason I haven\’t spoken to them in 17 years. Although admittedly, in a lot of cases, it\’s neat to find out what some people are up to.

\"\"But it is strange – there\’s a reason I wanted to get out of high school so badly. I hated it with every molecule of my being. (Stuff white people like #83: Having Bad Memories of High School. #106: Facebook.) Now that I\’m being reunited with all these high school people, I\’m having flashbacks of all the stuff I abhorred. I was completely content to live the rest of my life not worrying about what certain people from high school thought about me. Now, all those problems are coming back, just fatter.

Anyway, when I see some people online, I admit I have to look them up in my yearbook. And as I was leafing through my senior class today, I was noticing all the horribly awkward senior quotes people had next to their pictures. Here\’s a sample – and I swear, these are all actual quotes meant to inspire my classmates:

\”The uncertainties of the present always give way to the enchanted possibilities of the future.\”

\”Today my world it smiles. Your hand in mine we walk the miles. Thanks to you it will be done. For you to me are the only one.\” – Led Zeppelin

\”I\’m on a mission from God\”

\”There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.\”

\”I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.\”

\”I can accompish anything as long as I put my heart and mind into it.\”

\”Always give a hundred percent in the things you do, because everything you do depends on your future.\”

\”It\’s not what life gives you, it\’s how you use it. Don\’t hold back.\”

\”Let us die young or let us live forever.\” – DM

\”Peace and chicken grease, cuz homey don\’t play that!!!\”

\”An eye for an eye only leads to blindness.\”

\”I am a traveller of both time and space.\”

\”The pesimist (sic) only sees the red light, the optimist the green, the true wise are color blind.\”

\”Two paths diverged into the woods I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.\”

\”Left a smoking crater on my mind I\’d like to blow away, Heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day…\” Grateful Dead

\”He who lives in the future, pasts the past, but doesn\’t past the future, then has to futurely live in the present…\”

\”Don\’t be yourself if you\’re a nobody.\”

\”The paths of glory lead but to the grave.\”

\”Homework is simply mind over matter; if I don\’t mind, it doesn\’t matter.\” (ed. note – every yearbook in America contains this quote somewhere.)

\”I have my ship, and all her flags are flying. She is all that I have left, and music is her name.\” – Stephen Stills

\”Take your passion, and make it happen\” – Irene Cara

\”It takes both rain and sun to make a rainbow.\”

\”I SEE SAID THE BLIND MAN\”

\”We don\’t need to education, we don\’t need no thought control!\” – Roger Waters

\”Together we stand… Divided we fall.\” – Pink Floyd

\”I have two major weaknesses: tall black men and food, but not necessarily in that order.\”

\”Live alone and Free, like a tree, but in the Brotherhood of the Forest.\”

\”I see said the blind man.\” (ed. note – a popular one, apparently)

\”No hero in your tragedy, no daring in your escape, no salutes for your surrender, nothing noble in your fate. Christ, what have you done?\” – N.P.

You get the idea. And it goes on and on with quotes that you just know these guys thought were some totally deep stuff at the time. You always hear teenagers complaining about how adults don\’t take them seriously – and about how they deserve to be heard. But looking back, given our infinitesimal frame of reference, if teenagers ran things, there\’s no doubt the world would be a horrible, horrible place.

And mine?

\”You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.\”

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(My apologies up front to the commenter who doesn\’t like pictures of me in my posts.)

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Not Close, and No Cigar

September 29 2008 by Christian | Category: Health Care, Miscellaneous | 0 Comments »

Last week, when WPRI released our report detailing the massive amount of unfunded liabilities local governments are carrying for their retirees, I honestly didn\’t expect much of a counter-argument.  How could there be?  The facts are indisputable.  In fact, the best shot a local official took at an explanation was the Superintendent of Waukesha Schools, who unbelievably argued that their financial system is sound because it\’s like a mortgage.  It\’s difficult to think of a worse comparison, given the fact that mortgage lending is currently sending our economy down the tubes.  He actually would have been better off saying something like, \”our financial system is as safe as the Green Bay Packers with the indestructible Aaron Rodgers at the helm.\”

Yet lo and behold, on the very day the report was released, the liberal Citizen Action of Wisconsin attempted to respond to the facts in the report.  And needless to say, I remain unconvinced that there is a rational response to the argument we made in the study.

Citizen Action said the \”ultraconservative\” WPRI report missed the mark because it failed to discuss the fact that health care costs are rising so quickly.  (Personally, I would have preferred \”mega-conservative,\” as it sounds more like we can crush cars with our bare hands, like Optimus Prime.)  In fact, one of the reasons the report didn\’t go into detail about increasing health costs is because we just released a 20-page paper on that exact topic.

But the main problem with local government retiree health insurance isn\’t that the costs are going up too quickly – it\’s that the benefits exist at all, and that their existence are going to swamp local budgets in the very near future.  If local governments hadn\’t attempted to pad their employees\’ pockets with this previously publicly undisclosed benefit, they wouldn\’t be in the position of having the taxpayers bail them out – which almost certainly will happen. And the rising cost of health care has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that these governments chose to spend billions of dollars on ex-employees that no longer work for the people, instead of spending the funds on existing services.

In fact, Citizen Action\’s complaints about the rising cost of health care actually strengthens the immediacy of the WPRI report.  We focused on the fact that local governments owe $6 billion in future unfunded liabilities – the fact is, that number is going to increase rapidly over the next few years, both because governments are underfunding their liabilities and because costs are going up.

The truly ironic fact is that Citizen Action is continuing to push their dead-in-the-water \”Healthy Wisconsin\” single-payer government run health plan.  That would be the plan passed by the Wisconsin Senate that all the new Democratic state senate candidates are avoiding as if it were a pair of garage sale underwear.  They actually believe that their plan, which would have government completely take over health care in Wisconsin and cost taxpayers $15.2 billion, would actually solve this problem of increasing health care costs.  In fact, it would do nothing to slow health costs – it would merely change who pays for them.

A perfect example of how health care costs explode when government takes them over was evident last week, when the state announced that the new BadgerCare Plus program would be $25 million over budget in its first year of existence.  The BadgerCare program itself was the same story – in Fiscal Year 2001, the first full year of BadgerCare\’s operation, the Legislature spent $129 million in all-funds revenue. By Fiscal Year 2004, merely three years later, that number had nearly doubled to $205.6 million.  Consider the retiree health costs that are now being reported, and it\’s absurd to argue that somehow costs drop when the government gets involved.

So, it appears Citizen Action\’s response to increasing health care costs is to exacerbate the problem by making taxpayers foot the bill.  While we\’re at it, maybe we can solve the economic crisis by guaranteeing more bad housing loans and asking the taxpayers to pay for it.  Wait… we\’re doing that?

Finally, Citizen Action criticizes WPRI for supposedly \”singling out\” government employers for their budget mismanagement.  In fact, our report discusses postemployment benefits for private businesses, and how they began to address their liabilities in 1990, to the point that they are now manageable.  Furthermore, a previous WPRI study demonstrated that public sector postemployment benefits far exceed those of the private sector.  Plus, businesses generally don\’t have the taxpayers there to bail them out when they mismanage their liabilities, as governments most certainly will.

It\’s hard to fault Citizen Action of Wisconsin for not reading the whole report, though – they\’re busy during election season trying to elect Democrats to the Wisconsin Legislature and using state funds to do it.

Partying Like it\’s 1982

September 28 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

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It was five years ago this week that my daughter was born. In the hospital, holding her for the first time, it was impossible to comprehend the fact that childbirth occurs all the time. It was such a wonderful, unique experience, I was convinced that the little girl in my arms was the first child ever born.

I didn\’t really have the same experience until this afternoon, when the Brewers clinched their first playoff berth in 26 years. It was so unique, so wonderful, it\’s hard to comprehend that teams actually win wild card berths all the time. Granted, they don\’t often win them in the fashion the Brewers did – on the last day in their last at bat and with a superhuman pitching effort. But the sight of Brewers drenching themselves in alcoholic beverages after the game was so alien, I half expected to see a sasquatch pouring champagne on a unicorn in the background of the Brewers\’ clubhouse during the celebration. (Apologies to John Jaha, who drenched himself in alcohol after every game – usually before getting behind the wheel of his car.)

When the Brewers last made the playoffs, I was nine years old. The sounds of Michael Jackson\’s Thriller wafted through our home, and I was convinced I was related to John Schneider of the Dukes of Hazzard. I began to discover the wonders of the female form by watching the 20 Minute Workout.* My dad bought me a Robin Yount jersey for $16, on the condition I pay him back by earning money through chores. I got a quarter for every time I did the dishes – only later was I able to calculate that the old man got 64 nights of dishes out of me to pay for that crummy jersey. He\’s lucky kids can\’t unionize.

Little did I know at the time that I would be 35 years old before I got to see the Brewers in the playoffs again. For the past quarter century, Milwaukee has been known more to the baseball world for our racing sausages and the availablity of our 15-year old girls than the actual baseball our team played. Ironically, Robin Yount is still in the dugout wearing his #19 jersey. That\’s why, after Ryan Braun\’s 8th inning 2-run homer, I suddenly felt tears in my eyes. All at once, I felt 26 years of decompression. At that moment, every burden of the last quarter century was lifted off my back: Every time Geoff Jenkins swung and missed at a curveball by two feet; every news story about how the Seligs were using tax money to pad their wallets instead of fielding a competitive team; every time Derrick Turnbow came in to throw gasoline on the fire, and Ned Yost condescendingly telling the fans we weren\’t seeing what we were clearly seeing – all lifted.

This was in stark contrast to Saturday, when I sat with my head in my hands for the entire game, watching it all slip away. For Saturday and through seven innings on Sunday, I felt like I was cooking in my skin. I actually had to take some ice packs out of the freezer and apply them to my head and shoulders. I\’m not sure if it\’s physically possible to give yourself a fever, but I felt like you could fry an egg on my head. Brewer Fever, indeed. I caught it.

(Speaking of sicknesses, has anybody checked to see if Corey Hart has rubella? A tapeworm, perhaps? If so, can we get the tapeworm to pinch hit for him? How many rallies is he going to be allowed to murder in broad daylight? Is he using a bat made of balsa wood?)

And now, the Brewers are headed for October baseball. I honestly don\’t know how I\’ll react when the first pitch is made on Wednesday. I certainly don\’t expect the Brewers to win, given how they played in Philadelphia just a couple weeks ago – but somehow, I don\’t think having low expectations is going to make me feel any better if they eventually lose. I mean, as poorly as they played at the beginning of September, this team did win 90 games. It\’s not like they\’re incapable of winning.

Sadly, I was notified by the Brewers that I was not chosen to have the opportunity to buy playoff tickets via their lottery. So if they\’re looking to hire someone to sell hot dogs, pretzels, or give Bob Uecker footrubs during the game, count me in.

The Mets-Marlins game ended at about 4:00, just as my daughter\’s soccer game was beginning. So I ran over there after the game had already started. As I got to the sideline, my daughter ran off the field and said \”did the Brewers win?\” Hopefully, in 26 years, her kids will be asking her the same thing.

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*- One day around that time, I went over to a friend\’s house, and had to use the bathroom. While looking through the bathroom magazine rack, I found this mysterious magazine called \”Playboy.\” It featured a picture of a woman riding a bike wearing nothing but shoes. I immediately ran home and told my mom, asking her \”why would anyone ride a bike without clothes on? THAT\’S CRAZY!\”)

Wisconsin\’s Spiraling Retiree Health Costs

September 25 2008 by Christian | Category: Courts, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

Imagine you\’re a young guy who has just started dating the girl of your dreams.  You get around to the discussion of how many people she has \”been with.\”  She says \”two.\”  (That\’s what girls always say, usually accompanied by an extensive story about how she dated some guy for years.)

Now imagine there was a Girlfriend Registration Service, where prospective girlfriends had to report their past exploits.  Everything is on there – the Spring Break trip to Cancun and everything.  When you go look up the new love of your life, you find out her number isn\’t two – it\’s 34.

Fortunately, for us, there\’s a Girlfriend Registration Service for local governments – called the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB).  A few years ago, GASB began requiring local governments start reporting the amount of health care costs they owe to retirees in the future.  Previously, governments just paid these costs on a year-to-year basis.  But now, they have begun reporting their future unfunded liabilities – and in many cases, they are stunning.

Today, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute released a report detailing local government postemployment liabilities. A review of financial documents reveals that the Wisconsin governments required to report their liabilities carry nearly $6 billion in future retiree health care costs. Of this amount, the largest three liabilities are carried by governments in the Milwaukee area: the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) district at $2.2 billion, Milwaukee County at $1.5 billion, and the City of Milwaukee at $806.3 million.  In many cases, these liabilities dwarf the annual budgets of these governments (for instance, the MPS budget is $1.2 billion, while their liability is $2.2 billion.)

Taxpayers are wondering why they pay more and more in taxes, yet see little direct benefit.  This may be a reason why – a growing chunk of the taxes they pay go to people who don\’t even workfor the government anymore.

You Mean Men and Women Are Different?

September 24 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

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Again, sorry for the lack of blogging – work has taken up my time, as we will have a big project going public tomorrow with which I will likely bug you then. I have also spent much of my day burning all my Clay Aiken t-shirts and CDs. I\’m still numb from the shock.

In the meantime, I wanted to relay this story:

Yesterday, I found out that the wife of my best friend growing up (and namesake of the Dennis York blog and best man at my wedding), Dennis, gave birth. I had no idea she was even pregnant.

What followed was this e-mail exchange:

ME: \”You have a kid?\”

DENNIS: \”Yeah, turns out she wasn\’t just packing on a couple extra pounds – there was a kid in there.\”

ME: \”Cool.\”

And we\’ll probably go another month without talking about it.

Needless to say, my wife will be beside herself when she finds out I didn\’t even know my best friend\’s wife was pregnant. In my defense, they do live in Washington D.C.

Contrast this with what my wife likely will do when her best friends get pregnant. (We received news that one of my wife\’s friends and her husband have recently \”pulled the goalie,\” in pregnancy parlance – meaning they are trying to conceive.) My wife will provide them with weekly Excel graphs and spreadsheets on the stages of pregnancy, and various gestation timelines. She\’ll give them our \”What to Expect When You\’re Expecting\” books, and if they don\’t have time to read them, she\’ll read them to them over the phone. And if my wife\’s friend doesn\’t feel like having the kid at all, my wife will likely offer to carry the child to full term for them.

Next time Dennis and I talk will probably be when his wife has another kid. Or, more importantly, the next time my Packers play his Redskins.

Just Tell Us Which Laws We Should Enforce

September 24 2008 by Christian | Category: Elections | 1 Comment »

Yesterday, Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign wrote an editorial in the Capital Times, arguing Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen\’s lawsuit is a \”fool\’s mission.\”  Essentially, McCabe says we shouldn\’t enforce the current federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), because it might upset some people (which is kind of the purpose of a lawsuit):

No matter the outcome in court, the one thing his action surely will do is hopelessly divide voters into two camps — those (mostly Republicans) who believe he\’s protecting election integrity and those (chiefly Democrats) who think he\’s messing with the vote and trying to rig the election for his guy.

Then he starts hitting all the typical lefty talking points – that somehow Florida and Ohio were \”stolen\” by Republicans:

It is no coincidence that Ohio and Florida were the sites of ugly election controversies in the last two presidential elections that left lingering questions about whether eligible voters were improperly prevented from casting ballots and whether votes were properly counted.

In fact, the federal law Wisconsin is now thumbing its nose at was passed in response to the debacle in Florida. That fact that we remain noncompliant actually ensures that such a disaster (and it is only considered a disaster because Bush won, incidentally) will be more likely to occur. Who knows – our system could be rampant with fraud right now – but because we don\’t have a way of accurately checking who is voting, there\’s no way to know. Whatever.

Then, McCabe takes personal credit for creating the current mess we\’re in:

That\’s why it behooves us to make sure political party leaders have no place in running our elections. And it\’s why reform groups like the Democracy Campaign fought so hard to pass ethics reform legislation that created a new politically independent agency under the direction of a nonpartisan board of retired judges to administer elections as well as enforce campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws.

Uh, yeah – that \”independent\” board he\’s talking about is the Government Accountability Board (GAB), the same board that refuses to follow the federal law.  So it makes perfect sense that he opposes Van Hollen\’s lawsuit – the AG is suing McCabe\’s personal voter fraud machine.

Yet the most interesting part of McCabe\’s message is the messenger himself.  Here\’s a guy who has an aneurysm when a single legislator fails to report the workplace of a campaign contributor on their finance reports.  He\’s made his name preying on the carcass of Scott Jensen, arguing he should get the death sentence for breaking a law that actually really doesn\’t exist.  (This isn\’t to say Jensen didn\’t do some things that were wrong, they just weren\’t technically illegal.)

So I just hope we can get some clarification from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign – just tell us which laws we should enforce with the full power of the state, and which laws we should completely ignore.  Somehow, I think they\’ll opt to ignore the law that allows the theft of thousands of votes.  Just a hunch.

Hooray, Democracy!

T-Shirt of the Day

September 22 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

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From a local company, no less.

The GAB’s Slimy Underbelly

September 22 2008 by Christian | Category: Campaign Finance Reform | 0 Comments »

Nearly a decade ago, British provocateur David Icke took a trip to Canada. As he swiped his passport through the scanner at the Vancouver airport, the words “WATCH FOR” appeared on the screen. Security quickly whisked him away to a holding cell.

Icke, a former English football player and BBC sports correspondent, had his career take a remarkable turn in 1991, when he declared himself to be the Son of God on a British talk show. Later, he wrote that he believed the Earth was secretly controlled by an extraterrestrial race of reptiles which, if they consume enough human blood, will enable them to take a human form. In his 1999 book, “The Biggest Secret: The Book that Will Change the World,” Icke exposed George H.W. Bush and Hillary Clinton as members of this reptilian ruling class.

While they appeared to some to be nothing more than the rantings of a madman, Icke’s theories were immediately denounced as anti-Semitic. While he never accused Jews of any plot to rule the world, some believed his “lizard race” theory was too similar to many other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. As a result, Icke was flagged by Canadian customs authorities, who had been pressured by anti-discrimination groups to keep him out of the country altogether.

In the airport holding cell, a man with rubber gloves rifled through Icke’s belongings to find anti-Semitic artifacts. Two immigrations officers berated him, trying to get him to admit he was an anti-Semite. “The families in positions of great financial power obsessively interbreed with one another,” he said. “But I’m not talking about one earth race, Jewish or non-Jewish. I’m talking about a genetic network that operates through all races, this bloodline being a fusion between human and reptilian genes,” he protested.

After four hours in the cell, the Canadian authorities concluded that when Icke said lizards, he really meant lizards. They released him, and he was free to go on his way. He began giving speeches to Canadian crowds, which were often cut short by protestors hurling pies at him.

Certainly, it’s a long way from lizard conspiracy theories and Canadian immigration agents to Wisconsin in 2008. Yet the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) is attempting to unilaterally impose Canadian-style restrictions on free speech, without any action by a single elected official. In essence, they’re going to give themselves the ability to decide whether or not people are talking about reptiles.

The unelected GAB, made up of former judges, was instituted by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2007, in order to more aggressively enforce existing elections laws. Instead, the Board has deigned it necessary to make new laws which have never been considered by the Legislature. (Also known as those who represent the people of Wisconsin.)

For instance, the GAB is trying to make itself the sole group that decides what can and can’t be said during an election. They are looking into promulgating rules that would allow them to regulate the timing and content of political speech in Wisconsin by determining what is and what is not “express advocacy.” Is a television ad urging people to call their legislators to support tax relief political speech? Only the GAB will know. Is a newspaper ad asking voters to support candidates who are pro-life “express advocacy?” If the GAB decides so, it could be yanked from the papers. As a result, many citizens who normally band together to criticize legislators or their policies will be intimidated into silence during campaign season.

With the power of free speech vested in such a small group of “elites,” who knows what they will decide is appropriate? Is an ad discussing Barack Obama’s ties to Jeremiah Wright’s church legitimate, or is it a secret racist code? Is an ad criticizing Sarah Palin’s lack of experience accurate, or is it an unfair attack on working mothers? Only the GAB will be able to decide. And if the future holds anything that is certain, it is that they won’t be able to fairly determine when a lizard is just a lizard.

-September 22, 2008

For more on the travails of David Icke, see \”Them: Adventures with Extremists,\” by Jon Ronson.

Giving the Packers the Shirt Off My Back

September 22 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

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Well, that was a long way to drive to see the Packers immolate themselves.

As I mentioned in my last post, my buddy Gooch came up with a ticket for me for tonight\’s big Packers-Cowboys game. And thus, it was required that I drop everything and make the trek up to Lambeau to watch this clash of previously undefeated teams. I even got myself a fancy new Greg Jennings jersey for the occasion – for reasons I spelled out here. I actually didn\’t realize how it feels to pick a player and wear his jersey – it almost feels like you\’re investing in him like a stock. Before, I just had a Favre jersey, which everyone had. But when you pick someone other than the big star, you\’re sticking your neck out a little. So every time Jennings made a catch, I felt a little bit of pride – like somehow, I had a small hand in his success. In fact, I think he should send me a small portion of his paycheck as a thank you. Or some of the naked pictures women send him of themselves. Either one works, really.

As it turns out, my post inviting people I knew to invite me to their tailgates paid off. As soon as Gooch and I parked, I got a couple text messages from people inviting me to their cookouts. So I thought I had some options. Unfortunately, the text messages I got all happened to be from people that were standing next to each other at the time they sent them to me. So there really was just one – my friends Michael and Adam, who decided to set up shop behind the KMart on Lombardi Ave.

So we hung out there for a while, had a beer, and jersey watched. Really, the most fun of a Packer pre-game is picking out the random jerseys people have, and trying to wonder what in the world was going through their head when they bought them. Among the winners of \”most random jersey:\” Travis Jervey, Terrell Buckley, Derrick Mayes, Jim McMahon. One guy actually had a number 12 jersey with the name \”Uno Dos\” on the back, which was a clever play on Chad Johnson\’s \”Ocho Cinco\” schtick. Not as entertaining were the various Jessica Simpson costumes meant to ridicule Tony Romo. As soon as any of these guys can pull a babe under two Franklins, then they can taunt someone dating Jessica Simpson.

One phenomenon we noticed that still puzzles me is the guy who buys a Brett Favre Jets jersey and wears it to the Packer game. What exactly is this supposed to signify? You like Brett more than the Packers? You have too much money? Is it some form of protest against Packers management for giving Favre the boot? If it does officially qualify as a protest, let me know, as I would be happy to tear gas these people.

Only slightly less obnoxious are the people who, for whatever reason, wear jerseys of other teams not involved in the game to a Packer game. For instance, a couple of years I went to a Packer-Saints game at Lambeau, and there were four or five guys there wearing Vikings jerseys. The only reason to do this is to be unnecessarily provocative. Anyone who hits one of these jerkoffs in the head with a cheesy grillwurst is a hero in my book.

One of the biggest benefits to going to the game in person is that you don\’t have to listen to the national announcers. During the Vikings game, I couldn\’t last a full quarter listening to Tony Kornheiser (who I normally love) compare everything Aaron Rodgers did to Favre. It was sickening – especially when he kept saying Packer fans are going to compare every throw Rodgers makes to Cheddar Jesus. Actually, believe it or not, we\’re not mouth breathing yokels, and we do actually recognize that Aaron Rodgers is a different human being than Favre. And we do actually know it might take more than a couple games for Rodgers to match the greatest statistical quarterback in the history of the league. But the national announcers are so intent on beating the public over the head repeatedly with \”the big story\” of the game that it becomes unlistenable. That\’s why I loves me some Wayne Larrivee. Just the facts.

(It\’s a good thing Kornheiser and Madden don\’t follow Rodgers around in his everyday life. Then you\’d hear things like: \”Did you see how Rodgers got tanked and banged those three Denny\’s waitresses at once? It was just like Favre would have done it.\”)

Speaking of Favre, there are still signs that litter the stadium that spell his name \”Farve.\” Honest to God, people – if you can\’t spell his name after 17 years, you might as well give up. I know more than a decade ago, the state legislature had a big debate about the high school graduation test. I propose the following: Get everyone in a room, and ask them if they can spell \”Favre.\” If they can\’t, they are clearly incapable of learning anything. We should then ship these people out to their own city where they can\’t make the rest of us any dumber. (I believe Illinois has such a place, which they call \”Joliet.\”)

Over by where we were sitting, there were three girls wearing bikini tops. Now, I\’m not sure if these are the now-famous \”bikini girls\” who gained notoriety during the playoffs. In fact, it wouldn\’t surprise me if copycat bikini girls have cropped up around Lambeau. However, what I do know is that these young ladies probably wouldn\’t be referred to as \”the situp girls\” anytime soon.

As for the game itself, I actually thought the Packers played relatively well. It wasn\’t much to watch, as both teams kind of plodded along – until a missed Charles Woodson tackle led to a long Felix Jones touchdown run, Miles Austin caught a long pass, then another at the end of the game to seal it. Other than those three big plays, the Packers played them even up. And, for the record, Tony Romo is amazing – from our vantage point, you could see the same thing he was looking at when he threw the ball. And in a few cases, it didn\’t look like anything was there – but he made some great throws.

After the game, I dropped the Gooch off at the Oneida Casino. Not wanting to make the night any worse (and make a donation to the Doyle for Governor campaign), I decided against gambling at the casino. Instead, I headed over to Taco Bell and loaded up on tacos for the two-and-a-half hour ride home. But just as I pulled on to the highway, I realized I was about to spill taco juice all over my sweet new jersey. So I actually took my shirt off and drove a big chunk of the way home shirtless. I was thinking it would be kind of embarrassing to get pulled over speeding while not wearing a shirt. But the more I thought about it, it would be more embarrassing to be pulled over by a carload of cheerleaders. If that happened, I might have run my car into ongoing traffic just to spare myself the shame. But then, the cheerleaders could have a car wash benefit in honor of my memory. So everyone wins. (It was a long ride home.)

But the more I thought about the shirtless driving experience, the more I came to terms with it. I mean, seriously – driving shirtless through central Wisconsin at midnight, while trying to listen to Packers postgame on a crackling radio with barely any reception is really what life is made of. I\’d recommend it to anyone.

Random drive home notes: Just when I thought I had accidentally left the corpse of a dead, rotting hooker in my trunk, I realized I was in Kaukauna, and that\’s how the city smells. That was a relief.

(When I one day run my inevitable campaign for Governor, my first memo to my staff will include the line
\”better forget about picking up votes in Kaukauna.\”)

Also, I can\’t tell you how happy I am that the City of Columbus actually has a Christopher Columbus museum. Who can forget the day that the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria washed up near the intersection of highways 60 and 151 in central Wisconsin? It was a miracle.

Here\’s a video of the player introductions from where I was sitting:

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Calling All Packer Fans

September 20 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

As it turns out, I ended up with a ticket to tomorrow\’s big game against the Cowboys. If I know you, and you want to meet up somewhere before the game (I\’ll be there about 2 hours early), send me an e-mail.

Squeezing Out a Tough Loss

September 19 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

Sorry I haven\’t been able to post in a few days – after three straight weeks in a row on the road, I need to settle down and regain my bearings a little bit. I\’m still a little disillusioned – I actually cried at the end of \”Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay\” tonight. Pretty much every day I\’ve been gone, my kids have been sick, so it\’s been pretty tough – aside from the fact that they barely recognize me anymore.

Making being on the road even tougher has been the absolute collapse of the Milwaukee Brewers. My friend Mark said tonight that he has calculated the Brewers\’ magic number: 2009. I\’m pretty sure the people in the Branch Davidian compound in Waco took solace by saying, \”well, at least we\’re not the Milwaukee Brewers.\”

Today\’s collapse against the Cubs was catastrophic. During the eighth inning, while the Crew was still up 4 runs, I was sitting at my computer at work, listening on my headphones. At that point, I realized I needed to make an emergency trip to the bathroom – but I couldn\’t stop listening to the game. So decided to try to sneak out of the office with my big headphones and walkman in tow, to listen to the bottom of the eighth on the throne. Of course, when I open my door, I realize the entire office has decided to hold a meeting right outside my doorway. They all look at me, big headphones in hand, and it is clear what I was up to. I figured they saw me anyway, so I darted out the door, pride be damned.

Fortunately, I listened to the eighth inning, where Mota mowed down three straight batters. Had I listened to the ninth inning in the can, someone would have called 911 based on the screams of pain and anguish emanating from the stall. Paramedics would have rushed in with the jaws of life. Of course, what I was doing would have been the same thing the Brewers were doing, just on a baseball field.

Strangely, Major League Baseball has already put together a video yearbook of the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers season:

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Back in Friendly Territory

September 15 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

I spent most of last week in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the State Policy Network annual meeting. (For those not \”in the know,\” the State Policy Network is the national organization for state free-market think tanks.)

I got into Scottsdale on Tuesday night, and I began to miss home within an hour of settling into my hotel room. It was especially hard, given the fact that I had spent the entire previous week in Minneapolis for the GOP convention. Sometimes, it takes not being home for you to really realize what you actually like most about where you live. I missed the big trees in my front yard, the \”back to school\” Wisconsin air, and fried cheese curds. Oh, and I suppose I missed my wife and kids, too.

I don\’t think I could ever live in Phoenix. All the houses look the same, it\’s too hot, and the weather is too unpredictable. Walking to a restaurant a mile away from my hotel, I got caught in a windstorm, and couldn\’t open my eyes with all the sand flying around me. I also was struck in the shoulder by a flying Dasani water bottle, which must have been amusing for the cars passing by.

The restaurant I went to was called Stax, which purported to be a high-end burger place. They sell fancy little burgers, so you have to order three or so of them. I walked in, sat at the bar, then noticed that my bartender kind of looked like a male model. Then another waiter came out and looked exactly like the first guy. Then another guy at the bar started chatting me up, letting me know that he and his buddies were going out on the town that night, in case I wanted tips on where to go. It was only on my sandstorm-inflicted walk home that I realized I may have actually just visited a gay burger joint. Who knew they even existed? Gives \”hold the pickle\” a whole new meaning, I guess.

The night before, the conference bused all its attendees 45 minutes away to a western-themed bar/restaurant where they actually act out the old west, much in the same way a theme park would. I turned to a black friend of mine and wondered aloud how far they actually take this schtick – because if they get too realistic, they might be chasing him with torches before the night was out. I just can\’t imagine the African-Americans in attendance have fond memories of the Wild West years in America.

Later that night, after a few beers, I rammed my head into a cactus. I\’m not sure whose f\’ing genius idea it was to put a cactus in a bar, but I immediately began lobbying the locals for a law change. Fortunately, it didn\’t draw blood, or it would have been really embarrassing. As I found out soon thereafter, cacti are protected species in Arizona. So, in the event someone had to call 9-1-1, it\’s more likely that they\’d cart the cactus off in an ambulance, and not me.

I have to say, I\’m not very good at conferences where I\’m supposed to be \”networking.\” It\’s really hard for me to go up and just meet people, cold. The other option is to drink a lot and meet people at these conference social events, but in order for me to want to talk to people, I generally have to drink so much that I start fighting cacti.

So I was happy to finally get on the plane and head home on Friday, although coming home was a 10-hour ordeal with a two hour layover in Detroit. On the flight, the old women in front of me were noticing the male flight attendant, and how tall, thin, and well-mannered he was. She then thought, given those requirements to be a male flight attendant, that her son might make a good one. Unfortunately, she may have been forgetting one small requirement that her son may or may not possess. And you know what it is without me having to say it. Let\’s just say her son\’s employment as a flight attendant might make Christmas a little more awkward next year. But she seemed oblivious.

When we got to Detroit, I noticed a fly on the plane, and began to think how much it would suck to be that fly. I mean, you didn\’t ask to move from Phoenix to Detroit – you were just minding your own business and happened to fly into a plane. Next thing you know, you\’re in totally strange surroundings with a completely different climate. You\’ll probably never get to go to your favorite restaurant again – so just to gain some familiarity with your new surroundings, you\’ll have to slum it and hang out by the dumpster\’s at Applebee\’s. And you\’re a fly, so you probably don\’t have satellite – so you\’re stuck watching Pistons games instead of the Phoenix Suns. Clearly, it was a long flight.

So after my trip, I came away with the following important observation: Anyone who is able to get the people of Phoenix hooked on fried cheese curds will be an instant millionaire. I\’m just throwing that out there for when someone does, just so I get a cut of the profits.

Would You Rather…Apocalypse Version

September 11 2008 by Dr. Emil Shuffhausen | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

For years, people have been playing the \”would you rather\” game, where one is forced to choose between two roughly equally-unpleasant scenarios. (Would you rather eat a bowl of tomato soup strained through a vagrant\’s beard or eat a kidney bean-sized chunk of his ear wax?) The game is usually good for some laughs, but I\’m about to ruin the fun by posing a question that will require hours of serious soul-searching:

Would you rather, this season, that the Chicago Cubs win the World Series or the Minnesota Vikings win the Super Bowl?

The Case for Why It Would Be Worse for the Vikings to Win the Super Bowl:

A. WHY IT COULD HAPPEN THIS YEAR: Adrian Peterson breaks every running back record in the book. Key off-season acquisitions on offense and defense come through huge. Tarvaris Jackson has a breakout year and guides to glory a team that is solid at almost every other position.

B. HISTORY OF INEPTITUDE THAT WOULD BE ERASED WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP: The Herschel Walker Trade. The 1999 NFC Championship Game. Losing four Super Bowls in eight years.

A Vikings Super Bowl win would render unusable a Packer fan\’s best bar joke. (Empty pint glass of *Miller Lite into mouth. Place empty pint glass upside down on bar, turning it slowly. What is this? The Vikings\’ trophy case!)

*If you have been served Grain Belt beer, follow each step of the joke above but empty glass directly into toilet.

C. MOST HATED MEMBER OF TEAM: John Randle, Cris Carter, Chris Hovan, Randy Moss, Ragnar and his horn

D. FANS: The average Vikings partisan, with some exceptions, is a total fair weather fan. They seem to care more about needling Packer fans than being loyal to their own squad. Now that the Vikings have lost to the Packers in the season opener, you will notice that sightings of people wearing Vikings gear has dropped 75% from a week ago. In fact, as a public service to prevent stampede injuries, I am legally obligated to remind Vikings fans that the line to jump off the bandwagon forms to the left.

The Case for Why It Would Be Worse for the Cubs to Win the World Series:

A. WHY IT COULD HAPPEN THIS YEAR: The Cubs lead the division and have had the best record in the National League for much of the year. Great hitters. Great pitchers.

B. HISTORY OF INEPTITUDE THAT WOULD BE ERASED WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP: The legendary collapses of 1969, 1984 and 2003 (may God bless and keep you, Steve Bartman.) A century-long championship drought.

C. MOST-HATED MEMBER OF TEAM: Carlos Zambrano, Lou Piniella, Sammy \”Corky\” Sosa

D. FANS: They think they are adorable and America loves them even though their team is just the National League\’s answer to the Yankees. They think that mumbling drunk Harry Carey was endearingly quirky. They think Wrigley\’s ivy is something cooler than just weeds on a wall. They\’re the loyal, lovable losers. The \”Cubs\” – even the team name is cutesy.

ANALYSIS:
A. The Cubs are more likely to win the World Series this year than the Vikings are likely to win the Super Bowl. That probably isn\’t even debatable. ADVANTAGE: Cubs

B. While losing all four of the Super Bowls they\’re ever been to is hilariously pathetic, it pales in comparison a 100-year streak of heartbreak. ADVANTAGE: Cubs

C. The Cubs and Brewers have only been division rivals for a few years. Packer fans have generations of intra-division hatred for the Vikings. ADVANTAGE: Vikings

D. If you think Cubs fans are obnoxious now when they invade Milwaukee, just imagine how bad they\’d be next year wearing \”2008 World Series Champs\” shirts. The thought of Cubs fans at Miller Park in 2009 parading around in those shirts and \”Re-elect President Obama in 2012\” buttons makes me want to jump off a bridge. As nauseating as it would be to see a Vikings fan wearing a Super Bowl Champs shirt at Lambeau, one could take comfort in the fact that said fan would be pummeled to death by 70,000 people wearing green and gold. Cubs fans positively take over Miller Park and they\’d be more than happy to rub it in. ADVANTAGE: Cubs.

Conclusion: I would pick the Minnesota Vikings winning the Super Bowl as the less horrible of the two options. But I\’m aware that a compelling case could be made for the other side. Trousers readers, the floor is yours.

In Case You Missed It…

September 8 2008 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

In the extremely unlikely event you didn\’t tune in to \”UpFront with Mike Gousha\” this weekend, I made an appearance to discuss the Republican National Convention. I was joined by Chris Miklos, who attended the Democratic Convention in Denver and also blogged about it for Wispolitics.com.

You can watch the discussion that aired on the broadcast version of the show here.

You can watch a web-only bonus segment we taped here.

Just a bit of housekeeping: Miklos made a couple of statements that deserve a response better than I was able to provide in five seconds:

First, I admit I was a little caught off guard when he played the race card right out of the chute, mentioning how much more \”diverse\” the DNC was than what he saw on tv at the RNC. I kind of thought we were just there to talk about our experiences, not score partisan points. But I saw plenty of minorities at the GOP convention – in fact, the Wisconsin contingent itself had several.

In the second segment, Miklos defends the blogosphere by pointing out how quickly bloggers uncover certain \”facts.\” As an example, he used the bloggers \”discovering\” that Sarah Palin had fought to cut special education funding in schools by 62%. Of course, this is flatly false – they are attributing a budget proposal to Palin that actually came from her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. In fact, Palin increased funding by 175%. I knew the number was bogus, and pointed it out, but didn\’t have enough time to fully rebut it. In using numbers like this, Miklos is essentially proving my point – as P.J. O\’Rouke said, blogging is free – and worth every cent.

Finally, Miklos says that it was the McCain campaign, not bloggers, that exposed the story about Palin\’s pregnant 17 year-old daughter. But, in fact, the McCain campaign had to do so to respond to an internet smear started by bloggers that alleged Palin\’s son was actually her daughter\’s. While I pointed this out on the show, it seems not to have made a dent in Miklos\’ talking point.

I suppose after watching the two pieces, you\’d get the idea that I am somehow anti-blogger. As I mention, I think there is a valuable place for blogs – but I do think the decline of newspapers is a terrible thing. While it\’s certainly valid to complain about a lot of the content in the mainstream media, they do quite often do outstanding work, and have much more knowledge and resources to investigate certain issues than bloggers do. The day newspapers disappear altogether, it wil almost leave us rudderless as a society.

I\’d like to thank both Mike Gousha and Wispolitics.com for allowing me the chance to appear in the past week. It was a great time, and hopefully they let me do it again.