Band of the Week: Wolfmother

November 24 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

On \”Will\’s Band of the Week\” this week, we discuss the new kick-ass album from Wolfmother, \”Cosmic Egg.\”  We also discuss the preponderance of end-of-the-decade lists, bemoan the lack of lighters at concerts, and urge bands to bring back drummers on giant stages that flip upside down.

Listen here:

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Or download it directly here.

Bonus clip:  Here\’s what I was talking about when I mention Tommy Lee playing his drum kit strapped in upside down.

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Public Financing of Campaigns: Anatomy of a Failed Idea

November 19 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

Today, WPRI released a report by Mike Nichols (with research assistance by me) that delves into the origin of public financing for campaigns in Wisconsin.

While the intent of using taxpayer dollars to run campaigns was noble – supporters thought it would lead to more competitive elections and reduced special interest influence – the actual effect has been just the opposite.  In fact, often times politicians (77% of those that take the grant are Democrats) turn right around and funnel the public money to campaign purposes that are outside the intent of the law:

(State Representative Spencer) Black, for example, received $4,155 from the public fund on Sept. 30, 1996. This is the same year he gave a total of $4,775 in cash or in-kind contributions to other politicians or committees, including $1,200 to the Dane County Conservation Alliance-a special interest committee registered with the state.

On Sept. 30, 2004, state Rep. Mark Pocan accepted $5,574 from the public fund. According to his campaign reports, on that very same day he made a $1,000 contribution to the Unity Fund-the Democratic Party of Wisconsin campaign account that was used, at least in part that year, to support Democratic candidates at the national level.

Hintz received his most recent public funding, about $6,000, on Sept. 27, 2008. In the month that followed, he gave $1,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

There\’s more:

  • In September of 2002, Bob Jauch accepted 11,932 from the WECF.  In November, he made a $5,000 contribution to the State Senate Democratic Committee.  He won with 62.1% of the vote.
  • In September of 2006, Jauch accepted a $2,425 contribution from WECF.  In November of 2006, he made a $1,000 contribution to the SSDC, and won with 62.3% of the vote.
  • On September 25, 2002, Russ Decker accepted a WECF grant of $11,932.  During the same election, Decker spent $6,300 for a poll – for a race he won with 68% of the vote.  In December, Decker transferred $1,000 to the SSDC.
  • In September of 2006, Joe Parisi accepted $5,263 from the WECF.  In the same election cycle, he donated $1,000 to the Democratic Party of WI, en route to winning with 75.6% of the vote.

Furthermore, public financing hasn\’t done anything to improve the \”competitiveness\” of state campaigns.

Of the 47 winners that took the grant, 38 (81%) were incumbents.  Of the 9 winners that were not incumbents, 6 of them beat incumbents (Hines, Freese, Skindrud, Loeffelholz, Weber, and Kreibich) and 3 ran in open seats.

  • The average vote for the 47 winners who accepted a WECF grant: 63.4%
  • The average vote for the 126 losers who accepted a WECF grant: 39.3%

Of the 126 losing candidates, only 11 (8.7%) came within 5% of the winner.  Only 24 (19%) came within 10% of the winner.

More from the article:

Politics in Wisconsin is, at the very least, not a game for outsiders. Spencer Black hasn\’t received less than 87% of a vote since 1992 and now has more than $146,000 in his campaign account.

In 2002, Republican Steve Nass accepted $7,013 in public funding and went on to beat Leroy Watson 87% to 13%. In 2006, the Whitewater-area representative took $5,963 and beat a self-described \”naturist,\” Scott Woods, 66% to 34%.

If the fund helps anyone, it seems, it is incumbents, the legislators who have the power to make the laws and amend them. Or get rid of them, but don\’t.

One byproduct of heavy favorites receiving the taxpayer funded grant is that they often use the grant to build their campaign accounts to levels that make them unbeatable.  More on Spencer Black:

Spencer Black, the longtime Democratic representative from Madison, has repeatedly taken the public subsidy while building up big surpluses in his campaign account. First elected to the Assembly in 1984, Black has been reelected a dozen times. Up until 2000 (when opponents just gave up and stopped running against him), he applied for the tax dollars almost every time he ran.

Records from the first few elections have been lost by the state, but he was given more than $18,000 in taxpayer dollars in 1992, 1994 and 1996 alone, according to the Government Accountability Board (GAB). Those were years in which Black built his campaign fund up from a surplus of $39,000 in 1992 to more than $100,000 by 1997.

So the same fund that was supposed to make campaigns more competitive actually strengthens incumbents to the point where they can\’t be beaten.

Finally, it\’s important to point out that while the dollar amounts may not be large, there is a significant band of people urging the program be expanded.  The article mentions Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign saying the program is failing because it\’s not big enough.  So this should serve as a lesson to those who think even more taxpayer money should be used for campaigns – something the public clearly opposes.

Read the full report here.

A Stimulating Announcement

November 18 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized, WPRI Blog | 3 Comments »

Dear Wisconsin Citizens:

An ill wind blows in America these days. People are fed up, and they want REAL CHANGE.

That is why, today, I am making it official: I am running for Congress in Wisconsin\’s 10th District.

Trust me, I know the people of the 10th District. I have lived in this district every day of my life – or at least every day that I knew the district existed*. I feel the pain of the hardworking people in my district who are fed up with the job loss. The fine people of the 10th District deserve better representation than they\’re getting, and I plan to knock on every door in the district over the next year.

We all remember earlier this year, when the economy was going in the toilet and George W. Bush stood by and did NOTHING. In fact, from the websites I read, he was nowhere near Washington D.C. at the time the wildly successful stimulus package was being carefully debated in April. He wasn\’t there when I fought for the $120,000 grant to the 10th Congressional District when the bill was passed. And sure, it\’s not as much as the $1.2 million the lucky bastards in Wisconsin\’s 55th District got, or even the $202,000 received by the citizens of the 00th District, but I supported it all along. I should get all the credit. That\’s me – kicking ass, saving jobs for the people of the 10th.

Now, I understand people will laugh. They may say things like \”hey, aren\’t all the things you\’re running on complete and abject failures?\” and \”doesn\’t Wisconsin only have eight congressional districts?\” But I\’m sick and tired of the naysayers. It\’s this kind of negativity that has brought our country down, and I will not be deterred.

As esteemed Mayor of Baltimore Tommy Carcetti once said, \”let me double down on that.\” Not only will I reject any suggestion that the 10th District might be imaginary (when I look out my window, I see houses – are those people imaginary, too?), I will feed off that negativity and become stronger. I have the government documents to prove it.

In order to show I\’m a serious candidate, I have sent my daughter\’s boyfriend out to pose for Playgirl. I figure this will give me the elevated profile that I need to convince people that I\’ve done my homework on foreign affairs and the economy. I have also enlisted ACORN to get my voters to the polls – their effort in getting an egg salad sandwich elected to Wisconsin\’s 576th Congressional District last year shows they\’re ready for the challenge.

Together, we can do this. Everyone knows that citizens of the 10th District RULE! (Especially since it\’s common knowledge that people in the 3rd District kind of smell like halibut.) Go 10th!

Si se puede!,

Christian Schneider

Candidate, Wisconsin\’s 10th Congressional District

*-Since yesterday.

Pickup Lines Go Green

November 17 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

Long before Early Man invented fire and hammers, he was using the most rudimentary tool of all – pretending to like the environment to pick up women.  Even in college, I occasionally told girls that I belonged to Greenpeace in order to see if they\’d investigate the global warming in my drawers.  (It even worked from time to time – once every two years, like clockwork.)

A few weeks ago, I went to a concert and ended up at a bar with some sort-of co-workers.  Immediately, a bearded greaseball standing at the bar came over and started chatting up a comely young member of our group.  She asked this guy what he did for a living, and it gave him the opening he needed.  He handed her one of his business cards, and he told her he \”owned his own business.\”  When prodded further, he said this business was a \”green painting business.\”  (I asked him why he didn\’t have any other colors.)

But of course, he meant he used \”green\” paint, as in \”environmentally conscious\” paint.  So what had traditionally been a pretty nondescript college job has now been turned into pious crusade by this young entrepreneur.  He explained that all his paint was \”green\” because it didn\’t have any lead in it – never mind the fact that no paint manufacturer has put lead in their paint for over 30 years.  (The girl he was talking to is pretty conservative, so she jokingly told him the more lead the paint had in it, the better.)

So with this encounter, I officially declare the \”green\” movement to have jumped the shark.  (Much like using the term \”jumped the shark\” has jumped the shark.)  It\’s now official – you can literally throw the word \”green\” in front of anything and make it seem like you\’re a crusader for the environment.  And girls eat it up.

So I\’m fine with this guy trying to spin his crappy job into some booty.  But he owes royalties to those of us who paved the way over the span of decades by lying to women about our environmental credentials in order to make out with them.  Somewhere up in heaven, there\’s some dude who chained himself to a tree in 1678, and had women doing his laundry for him for the next 30 years.  A little respect, please.

(When this environmental BS finally falls out of fashion again, my recommended pickup line to girls would be, \”do you like the internet?\”)

The Secret Life of a Sports Reporter

November 12 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

On Wednesday night, SportsBubbler.com sent me to the Bucks-Nuggets game to give a behind the scenes look at the life of a sports reporter.  I had full locker room access, and dug up some decent stories.  Buckle up, because it\’s a long one.

Read it here.

Hearing Notice Typo Leads to \”Riot\”

November 10 2009 by Dr. Emil Shuffhausen | Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

(Madison) An omitted \”n\” in a Senate Health Committee hearing  notice explained the unexpected rock and roll heard in the Wisconsin State Capitol today when 80\’s heavy metal band Quiet Riot testified in favor of Senate Bill 362.

Lead singer Kevin DuBrow thanked the committee for holding a hearing on the bill saying Quiet Riot has been trying to raise metal health awareness since 1983.

\”Metal health is what we all need, it\’s what you have to have!\” shrieked DuBrow.

Guitarist Carlos Cavazo then punctuated DuBrow\’s remarks with a guitar solo.

After the band\’s five minutes of head-banging testimony, the committee chairman clarified that SB 362 had little if anything to do with ear-splitting heavy metal but instead would require health insurance plans to cover treatment for \”nervous, mental disorders, alcoholism and other drug abuse problems.\”

DuBrow apologized for the confusion and said that sounded like a good idea too.

\”SB 362 is both a finder and keeper,\” said the spandex and leather-clad frontman.  \”It\’s not a loser and it ain\’t no weeper.\”

Cavazo disagreed saying he worried the bill was a well-intentioned yet nonetheless burdensome mandate that would make health insurance more expensive.

WisconsinEye coverage of the band\’s testimony may be viewed here.

Skhizein

November 7 2009 by Christian | Category: Uncategorized | 0 Comments »

Have a look at this award-winning French short film, entitled \”Skhizein.\”  It stuck with me for a while.