Sunday, December 28, 2008

Indulging in Schadenfavre

It was a satisfactory day to be a Packer fan, if one can take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. The Packers ended their losing season with a win, helping the Detroit Lions make history as the NFL's first 0-16 team. The Dallas Cowboys were routed even more brutally than the Badgers in yesterday's Champs Sports Bowl. And the New York Jets were eliminated from the playoffs.

Brett Favre increased his all-time interceptions record by three. The last one came after he rushed the snap, trying to take advantage of the Dolphin's seeming confusion in their defensive formation. He had one more attempt to come from behind. He completed a pass, received a lateral, then got flagged for an illegal forward pass when even New York Governor David Paterson could have seen he was beyond the line of scrimmage. His performance in today's game was as full of hubris as his off-season soap opera with the Packers' front office. The game announcers were loudly speculating that it would be his last game. I'm not so sure. I think he might still sucker some other NFL franchise (preferably in a warmer city) to board the Favre crazy train.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Predictions for 2009

These are no more outrageous, and no less likely, than the predictions of many Internet "pundits" -- so let's gaze into the virtual crystal ball and see what 2009 has in store:

1. America's print newspapers will all go bankrupt, except for The National Enquirer and The Onion. The Enquirer will receive a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the John Edwards sex scandal.

2. Mike Huckabee will re-gain 100 pounds, then lose it with the help of fellow southerner Richard Simmons. The two will go on to co-author a best-selling self-help/lifestyle book, then co-host a hit point/counterpoint show about the culture wars on Fox News.

3. The new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will crown Vladimir Putin Tsar of All the Russias.

4. Madison will receive 105 inches of snow for the season, breaking last year's record. An angry mob will converge on the UW Meteorology Building and pelt it with snowballs in an attempt to appease Thor.

5. Brett Favre will be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after refusing to play another season in a northern city.

6. Apple will close its chain of bricks-and-mortar stores, forcing consumers to either buy online or patronize other electronics retailers. In many cities, Wal-Mart will be the only place to obtain an iPhone, leading to the demise of the Apple brand as politically-correct Apple geeks refuse to do business with the evil empire.

Saturday, November 22, 2008 Won't Move On

I have followed the misadventures of since the organization first formed to urge Congress to drop the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. Undaunted by its initial failure, it tried to whip up the left during the 2000 presidential election, warning that voting for Ralph Nader could throw the election to George W. Bush. Not since Cassandra of Troy has an entity been so simultaneously prescient and impotent.

In 2002, circulated online petitions opposing war in Iraq. In 2003, it held a virtual primary and selected Howard Dean as the Democratic Party standard-bearer and also became involved in the California gubenatorial election, actively opposing the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In 2008, accidentally ruined its perfect record of quixotic failure by endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primaries. Facing a severe identity crisis as mainstream voters moved toward Obama in large numbers, MoveOn tried to make the now-popular anti-war movement repellent to centrists with its "Petraeus Betray Us" ad.

Unfortunately for, Barack Obama was elected anyway. Now, as far as many formerly-angry liberals are concerned, the windmill has been toppled. So how can convince them to donate money and sign online petitions? They have to come up with some new anger-inducing issues. So they have decided to hold Obama's feet to the fire in order to make sure he follows a MoveOn-approved "progressive" agenda.

A series of "fired up and ready to go" meetings were held around the country on Thursday night. The state coordinator for claims that about 350 people registered for 18 meetings around Wisconsin. However, the Capital Times reported that the Madison meeting "drew 15 people, all white and over 50." What are the odds that meetings elsewhere in Wisconsin out-drew the Madison meeting?

Compare this to the nationwide demonstrations last Saturday protesting California's anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8. Madison's event reportedly drew 417 people, and that was outside on a cold and windy day.

If has any sense of self-preservation, it will take a lesson from this and join the marriage-equality bandwagon. The Human Rights Campaign has lost its credibility (at least according to Andrew Sullivan), so there is a niche for a nationally-based left-leaning organization with a huge list of small donors to lobby for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

Of course, if the gay rights activists have any sense of self-preservation, they will avoid like the plague.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Prohibition Has Been Brought to You by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Remember those family-values PSAs that used to run on broadcast television? They showed people facing emotional crises, and how they were comforted by compassion, patience and love from their families. At the end of each 30-second melodrama was a voiceover saying "This message brought to you by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

The PSAs were part of a branding campaign to make the LDS church seem more mainstream and Christian at a time (the 1970s) when it was still viewed with a great deal of suspiscion outside of Utah (the Osmonds notwithstanding). The Mormon church is a world religion, with ambitious plans for expansion. However, it also had an unfortunate history of warfare with non-Mormon neighbors. So those commercials served two purposes -- to attract some people to join the LDS church, and to encourage other U.S. churches to stop viewing Mormonism as a threat. "We're on the same side" was the subtext.

Now, the LDS church has a new branding strategy -- they are the force of social conservatism. This was the year they flexed their political muscles.

First, during the presidential primary season, they called upon their members to donate to Mitt Romney's campaign. However, although the conservative evangelical elites were willing to back him, the evangelical masses preferred Mike Huckabee. They perceived Romney as a flip-flopping phony, and many of them still don't care for Mormons.

So, since the LDS church could not win them over with love, they are now winning them over with strength. By becoming involved in a big way in support of California's Proposition 8, Mormons have demonstrated that they can be the arbiters of social policy in other states just as they have always been in Utah. They have accomplished more on their own than all of the conservative protestant churches and the mightly Catholic Church managed to do in alliance. The evangelical wing-nuts may never love Mormons, but they will certainly respect them now.

So, what other social prohibitions can we look forward to, now that the LDS church has discovered its power? How about laws that make alcohol less available? They won't try outright prohibition (that would be political suicide), but I expect them to start nibbling away at the edges of our access. Which state will be the first to adopt "conscience" legislation that will allow teetolaling waitrons to work at Appleby's without being forced to serve alcohol? I cannot say, but I would lay odds that Wisconsin will be the last. The throw-down between the LDS church and the Tavern League will be worthy of pay-per-view.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Prescience of The Onion

Wonkette pointed out this article from "Our Dumb Century" -- which was published nine years ago.

However, this is not a new phenomenon. The Onion has been frighteningly prescient for a long time. Most famously, in January of 2001, they ran this article (Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over.'):

This article originally appeared in March of 2002, over a year before we invaded Iraq (Military Promises 'Huge Numbers' for Gulf War II: The Vengeance):

And this item appeared in February of 2004, before the product-marketing trend of razorblade proliferation got completely out of hand (Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades):

Many of the Onion’s writers used to work for that advertising agency in Madison that created the amusing window signs for Badger Liquor. I believe that is the secret to their prescience. Nowadays, more and more corporations (and governments) turn over decision-making to their marketing departments, so it takes an ad-man (or ad-woman) to realize what’s coming next.
So, does that mean we can use The Onion as an oracle? Which one of this week's articles is most likely to come true in the next several years? My vote is this one (Bill Clinton Starts Own Presidential School):

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin/Wurzelbacher 2012?

Sarah Palin is now bringing Joe the Plumber along to her campaign rallies, calling him "a fellow Alaskan" (he spent a few years living in Alaska) and a "fellow military man" (when was Palin in the military?).

Rumors in the blogosphere have it that Sarah Palin is already looking forward to running for President in 2012. Looks like she's already picked her running mate.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the 2008 Audrey Seiler Award Goes to...

Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain campaign volunteer (and former Ron Paul supporter) from Texas who tried to bait the rednecks in western Pennsylvania by claiming to be mugged by a black male McCain-hater in Pittsburgh. She added verisimiltude by blackening both of her eyes and carving a "B" on her cheek. Unfortunately, she used mirror-writing. She also claimed the incident occurred in front of an ATM, oblivious to the fact that there are usually survelliance cameras posted in front of ATMs.

While her hoax was far less elaborate and time-consuming than Audrey Seiler's, she got points for the high level of attention she attracted from the public, the media and even her chosen candidates (McCain and Palin both reportedly called her to express their sympathy before she confessed the truth).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

CEOs v. Sole Proprietors

By and large, Republicans manage the economy like corporate CEOs. They are only concerned about the next quarter's earnings statement, because their bonuses (re-election and high-paying lobbyist jobs) depend upon it. They are willing to raid the pension fund and delay infrastructure improvements in order to maximize short-term profits.

Democrats tend to manage the economy like sole proprietors. They take a longer-term view, because they see the company as their only retirement nest egg. They maintain the physical plant and keep their current salary low in order to re-invest it for the future. The problem is that many of them are not very good businesspeople. They will hire their nephew because he needs a job, even if he's crappy at it. They will keep buying from the same supplier, even when it becomes unprofitable.

I shudder whenever I hear someone say that government should be run like a business.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Faith v. Reason

Eight years ago, Slate's William Saletan wrote this column titled "Why Bush Is Toast." An intelligent, articulate centrist, Saletan gave a compelling, logical argument, citing poll numbers and trends. He stated that, barring an unlikely event like a Gore sex scandal or electrifying speech by Bush, "...there is no reason to think Bush will recover. Ultimately, reasons drive elections."

Four years later, Saletan made a similar logical error in stating that the election was Kerry's to lose. He no longer covers politics for Slate. His "Human Nature" column covers science and health. I read it regularly, and I enjoy Saletan's wit and intelligence. His logical mind is better suited to science than politics.

Saletan's error, I believe, was in assuming that most voters make their decisions logically like he does. Certainly, facts and logic play a part in the decision-making process. However, emotions and faith play a larger part. I'm not talking necessarily about religious faith (although it certainly influences some voters). By and large, people believe what they want to believe. They have an enormous capacity to reject facts that are incompatible with their chosen worldview.

Transcripts of the Scopes monkey trial indicate that William Jennings Bryan was in over his head. He was ignorant about the relevant issues, even the theology he was supposedly defending. Clarence Darrow made a better legal case. However, the jury sided with the prosecution, because they wanted to believe them.

If Barack Obama wins in November, it will be largely because most voters want to believe he has the intelligence, vision and integrity to lead this country on a golden path back to peace and prosperity. If he loses, it will be largely because most voters want to believe that John McCain has the wisdom, courage and integrity to right the wrongs of the Bush Administration. Actual facts on the ground will have only a small influence on those beliefs.

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan posted this blog entry, in which he said "The McCain camp is in a death spiral." That sounds eerily like "Bush is toast."

Yes, McCain is now telling some boldfaced lies about Obama. However, he is likely to get away with it because people want to believe he is the straight-talking maverick he appeared to be eight years ago. The liberal bloggers will continue to be outraged, but will the general voting public conclude that McCain has sold out and is now approving dishonest messages?

They are more likely to believe that McCain's memory and judgement are beginning to slip, due to his age, past health problems and damage suffered while he was POW. That narrative does not challenge the belief that he has truly been a straight-talking maverick for all of these years.

The liberals who are trying to get McCain supporters to change their minds are going about it all wrong. When you engage in a faith versus reason argument, reason never wins.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thank God The Primary Is Over

I'm really looking forward to spending a lazy Saturday afternoon in my pajamas, without worrying that a candidate for the 81st Assembly District will ring my doorbell.

I have received enough campaign literature on my door to curate my own museum exhibit.

One thing struck me as odd as I left my polling place during morning rush hour. Several blocks away, I saw a number of people on the sidewalk along Northport Drive, holding campaign signs for Justin Sargent. Right next to them were a smaller number of people holding signs for Kelda Helen Roys. Around the bend, on Packers Avenue, I saw a still smaller number of people holding signs for Peng Her. In each case, the display was on the same side of the street as traffic leaving the polling place.

I glanced across the street to see if anyone was lined up to be highly visible to those who were on their way to vote, but I didn't notice anything. I must have overlooked some signs, since it's a busy multi-lane divided street, and I was busy driving. After all, what would be the point of aiming campaign displays at people who have already voted?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tear Down This Nominee

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photographed this proof that either rednecks can't spell or today's McCain/Palin rally in Cedarburg was infiltrated by ironic hipsters.

Citizen Arrest

Kudos to the patrons of the Plaza Tavern for their quick action on Wednesday night following the fatal stabbing of Juan Bernal. While the stabbing was sudden and therefore probably not preventable, bystanders chased down the perps and caught one of them, ultimately leading to two arrests.

Maybe we all need to take back the night. If bystanders had tackled some of those drunk assholes who kicked in windows on State Street on Halloween a few years ago, maybe Mayor Cheese Whiz wouldn't have ruined everything with snow fences and ticketed admission.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Doyle Campaigns on the Taxpayer's Dime

So our esteemed Governor, who spent several years as State Attorney General and should therefore know the law pretty well, had a State employee work on his speech for the Democratic National Convention.

He claims it was a legitimate use of State resources because he was promoting Wisconsin. That sounds suspiciously close to Scott Jensen's excuse for using employees of the State Assembly Republican Caucus, rather than campaign workers, to campaign for Republican Assembly candidates (that promoting a Republican majority was part of his job in the Assembly). Sorry, Governor, a speech at a political party convention cannot possibly be non-partisan.

I thought after the Caucus Scandals, Scott McCallum's State Plane Scandal, and Keg Schlossenlager's State Car Scandal, our elected officials would finally realize that the taxpayers get really pissed off when you slash services and the State workforce but still manage to syphon State resources for personal (or campaign) use.

I also thought the Government Accountability Board was supposed to be a better, stronger, faster replacement for the old State Elections and Ethics Boards. It is now obvious that it was simply stitched together from leftover parts (which included neither spine nor balls).

No wonder Ed Thompson (who is no Jesse Ventura) managed to draw 10% of the vote when he ran for Governor. If Doyle keeps treating the State of Wisconsin like his own personal fiefdom, the Duke of Tomah might make another bid for the crown.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Totally Hypothetical Situation

Imagine if you will...

You and your friends (or SO) treat yourselves to dinner at Appleby's (or TGI Friday's or Houlihan's). Your perky young waitron takes your order.

MARY: "Hi, I'm Mary, and I'll be your server tonight. Can I start you with some appetizers?"

YOU: "Actually, you can start me with a black russian."

MARY: "I'm sorry; I can't serve alcohol. Would you like a Coke instead?"

YOU: "No. Why can't you serve alcohol? Are you underage?"

MARY: "No. I'm a devout Baptist. Drinking alcohol is a sin, so it goes against my conscience to serve alcoholic beverages."

YOU: "Then send another server over here to take my drink order."

MARY: "I'm afraid I can't do that. You're sitting in my station, and the other servers are busy covering their own tables."

YOU: "Then we would like to move to a different station."

MARY: "We're very busy tonight. It will be a 45-minute wait for another table."

YOU: "Then I'll go to the bar to get my own drink, and then I would like to talk to your manager. I'm guessing you haven't worked here long."

MARY: "This is my first night. How did you know?"

YOU: "Because you have no business working in a restaurant with a liquor license. Why don't you work at Perkins or Country Kitchen instead?"

MARY: "They aren't hiring right now. Besides, this restaurant is closer to my home, and I like the food better. I have every right to work here."

YOU: "I don't think your manager will see it that way."

MARY: "They can't fire me for following my conscience."

YOU: "Yes, they can."

What will happen to poor Mary? Will she lose her job and be forced to work at Denny's? Who will defend her conscience rights? Is there a Republican in the State Assembly who will risk the wrath of the Tavern League to introduce legislation that will allow devout Baptists or Mormons to work in restaurants and refuse to serve alcohol without fear of being fired?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Resemblance Is Uncanny

Is Sarah Palin the secret love child of Anita Bryant? You be the judge...

McCain's Alaskan PUMA Bait

Wow. McCain's really going after Geraldine Ferraro's vote. Why else would he choose an obscure Governor who is most distinguished for being one of the few Republican politicians in Alaska who isn't under threat of indictment? Oh, maybe because she happens to possess two X chromosomes.

I thought conservatives didn't believe in affirmative action. I guess McCain really is a maverick.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Questions for Pro-Lifers

1. Should a pregnant woman who is diagnosed with cancer be forced to delay her radiation treatments and chemotherapy so that she can deliver a healthy baby?

2. Should a mother be legally forced to donate a kidney or bone marrow to save her child's life?

3. Should a pregnant woman be legally forced to have surgery during her pregnancy to repair a fetal heart defect, since the chance of a successful recovery is much better while the heart patient is in the natural ICU of the womb?

4. If you answered "no" to all of the above, do you believe a woman should be legally allowed to have an abortion in order to avoid serious risks to her health?

5. Do you oppose the use of oral contraceptives?

6. Do you oppose the use of medications or food supplements that may cause similar hormonal changes to oral contraceptives, and thus possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized zygote, if those supplements were not consumed for the purpose of contraception?

7. Do you oppose the practice of breast-feeding, since it causes hormonal changes similar to oral contraceptives, and may thus possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized zygote?

Cindy McCain in Georgia - PUMA-Hunting Safari?

Is it just a coincidence that in the same week that John McCain is actively courting PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) Democrats with his new campaign ads, he sends his wife to Eastern Europe's latest trouble spot? It's like he's saying to disgruntled Hillary supporters, "Yes, you're right -- being First Lady does give one executive experience and foreign policy credentials. Those evil Obama supporters are sexist pigs."

He's like a creepy loser who comforts a woman in the throes of a bad break-up by agreeing with everything she says about her ex-boyfriend, just so he can bone her himself. Ladies, you know that if you weren't so drunk and emotional right now, you wouldn't even give him the time of day, much less let him get in your pants.