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Archive for February, 2009

An Icon Passes

R.I.P. Paul Har­vey, at age 90.

ABC Radio Net­work spokesman Louis Adams said Har­vey died Sat­ur­day at his win­ter home in Phoenix, Ariz., sur­rounded by fam­ily. No cause of death was imme­di­ately available.

Har­vey, who was born and raised in Tulsa, Okla., was mar­ried to the late Lynne Cooper of St. Louis who died less than a year ago. They had one son, Paul Jr.

He was a news com­men­ta­tor and talk-show pio­neer whose stac­cato style made him one of the country’s most famil­iar voices. He was awarded the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom by George W. Bush in 2005.

Known for his res­o­nant voice and trade­mark deliv­ery of “The Rest of the Story,” Har­vey had been heard nation­ally since 1951, when he began his “News and Com­ment” for ABC Radio Networks.

In a state­ment, ABC Radio Net­works Pres­i­dent Jim Robin­son calls Har­vey “one of the most gifted and beloved broad­cast­ers in our nation’s history.”

He began his radio career in 1933 in Tulsa, while he was still in high school, his Web site said.

Paul Har­vey News con­sisted of more than 1,200 radio sta­tions and 400 Armed Forces Net­work sta­tions that broad­cast around the world and 300 news­pa­pers, his biog­ra­phy reported.

A virus that weak­ened his vocal cord forced him off the air in 2001. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday.

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“Wisconsin Covenant” Literally is an Empty Promise">Wisconsin Covenant” Literally is an Empty Promise

It’s a pity I can’t access the old archives from the pre­vi­ous incar­na­tion of the blog.  It would of been fun to bring up all my pre­dic­tions on Doyle’s lit­tle scam.

In intro­duc­ing his bud­get last week, Gov. Jim Doyle said he had “iden­ti­fied” $25 mil­lion for a state pro­gram aimed at ensur­ing a col­lege edu­ca­tion for stu­dents who stay straight and study hard.

But what the Demo­c­ra­tic governor’s bud­get pro­posal doesn’t do is either spend that money or set it aside for the Wis­con­sin Covenant program.

Instead, the money in the phan­tom appro­pri­a­tion for the col­lege guar­an­tee pro­gram would be returned, unspent, to the state’s main account at the end of the two-year bud­get in June 2011.

Why do that?

Doyle bud­get direc­tor Dave Schmiedicke said the line item is intended to serve as a place­holder until the fall of 2011, when the first of thou­sands of Wis­con­sin Covenant schol­ars will be enter­ing college.

Over the past two years, 35,000 stu­dents in two grades have signed the Covenant, which guar­an­tees a place in a Wis­con­sin col­lege and ade­quate finan­cial aid to any eighth-grader who keeps a pledge to do well in school and keep out of trou­ble. Depart­ment of Admin­is­tra­tion spokes­woman Linda Barth said that the state will start decid­ing how many stu­dents are eli­gi­ble after they fin­ish fill­ing out their fed­eral stu­dent finan­cial aid forms in Jan­u­ary 2011.

Bud­get com­mit­tee mem­ber Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, wasn’t buy­ing the administration’s ear­mark expla­na­tion. A place­holder of $25 mil­lion in the cur­rent bud­get won’t guar­an­tee stu­dents get any­thing in the next one, when the money will actu­ally be needed, he said.

I thought I had seen every­thing, but this phony Covenant thing is one of the most egre­gious things I’ve ever heard of,” Vos said.

These kids are being played.  They have been since Day One it was announced by Doyle.  Won­der if they can file a class-action law­suit against Doyle and the State of Wis­con­sin when there’s noth­ing there.

Don’t know about you folks, but this look like a con­tract sign­ing to you? Does to me. (Photo — Wis­con­sin State Jour­nal circa 2007)


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Much, Much Better

Read­ers of my Twit­ter Account, and a few Wis­con­sin state blog­gers from a month or so ago, will know I was not impressed with the ini­tial launch of  Scott Walker’s stance on the Fed­eral “stim­u­lus” plan.

Ide­o­log­i­cally, I com­pletely agreed with Scott.  He’s cor­rect in say­ing the bill is a giant bait-and-switch which Doyle is using as a his polit­i­cal life­line where he was able to “Phone a Friend” in the White House to have the feds clean up his mess in Madi­son.  My prob­lem — and this may be some resid­ual thoughts from being on the Mark Green Guber­na­to­r­ial cam­paign — was how Scott ini­tially explained it.  I’ve long won­dered if Scott is even aware at times how every press release his office issues is dis­sected by the legions of lib­er­als and Democ­rats in Madi­son and Mil­wau­kee who’ve sworn almost a blood oath vow­ing his destruction.

This means Scott Walker (and his future guber­na­to­r­ial cam­paign) must care­fully parse his words when speak­ing to the state MSM.  This doesn’t mean Scott can’t be Scott, it means he needs to make sure his mes­sage is clear from the moment it leaves his mouth or cam­paign office.  He’s not going to have the advan­tage of sim­ply send­ing off an email to Char­lie Sykes to fur­ther explain what he meant, or get­ting on the phone to Mark Belling to bail him out of any future press con­fer­ence or press release gaffes because the statewide left will not let him a chance to to explain things taken out of con­text in a 24/7 blog post-tweet-YouTube World.

Walker’s Op-Ed in today’s Wall Street Jour­nal is a great step for­ward to mak­ing sure his mes­sage fits any future cam­paign.  Because whether Scott’s offi­cially in or not, the oppo­si­tion is treat­ing him like he is.

As pop­u­lar as the fed­eral “stim­u­lus” pack­age is with Wash­ing­ton politi­cians, it is more pop­u­lar among state and local politi­cians who view fed­eral money as a cure for their fis­cal woes.

Wis­con­sin is afflicted with fis­cal woes. In every bud­get he has signed, Gov. Doyle post­poned dif­fi­cult deci­sions using account­ing gim­micks and exces­sive bond­ing to pay for ongo­ing oper­a­tional costs. The most egre­gious exam­ple is the dam­age done to the trans­porta­tion fund over the past six years, which uses state gas taxes and vehi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fees to fund road projects. The gov­er­nor has raided the seg­re­gated fund for a total of $1.2 bil­lion to cover ongo­ing oper­a­tional costs for gov­ern­ment pro­grams. He’s par­tially replaced the raided funds with $865.5 mil­lion in bonds.

As a result of bor­row­ing against tomor­row to live for today, the gov­er­nor left Wisconsin’s bud­get vul­ner­a­ble. So in the fall of 2008 when reces­sion caused a sharp decline in tax rev­enue, the state was forced into the red.

Wis­con­sin now faces an unprece­dented $5.75 bil­lion bud­get deficit, fourth-largest in the nation. Many munic­i­pal­i­ties also face deficits. My county, how­ever, fin­ished fis­cal year 2007 with a $7.9 mil­lion sur­plus and will break even for fis­cal year 2008 when the books are closed next month. Why? Because we made tough bud­get deci­sions demanded by the taxpayers.

State and local offi­cials who failed to do so are look­ing to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for a bailout. But what hap­pens when the stim­u­lus money is gone? Is the fed­eral gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to fund­ing the projects it will now under­write for­ever? I’m not will­ing to bet on it.

With a mes­sage like this, Walker can turn what is going to be Doyle and the left’s argu­ment “Walker Made Mil­wau­kee County a Mess,” and turn it on its head.   Try as they might, lib­eral blog­gers will even­tu­ally have to turn the can­nons inward and defend the fis­cal poli­cies of Gov­er­nor Jim Doyle — a wholly-owned sub­sidiary of WEAC — before the 2010 Governor’s elec­tion.  Try and say all you want of how “Walker screwed up Mil­wau­kee County,” I will for­ever throw down my trump card in this polit­i­cal game of sheepshead:

Jim Doyle Screwed Up Wis­con­sin. A state is much, much, much big­ger than a county.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but I doubt a let­ter to par­tic­i­pants to the 2010 State Demo­c­ra­tic Con­ven­tion from Bill Christof­fer­son will be enough to counter a whole mess of bad feel­ings from a likely $6 bil­lion state bud­get deficit caused solely by Jim Doyle.

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The Logic of Andrew Sullivan

I’m seri­ously think­ing of doing this as a series, as Andrew’s con­tin­ued lapses into a bended real­ity pre­vail over­whelm­ing in his blog posts.

It’s par­tic­u­larly sad for me to watch Andrew go through these men­tal gym­nas­tics of logic since I’ve often said Sully was one of the first blogs I read before I started my own.  He’s not one of “The Blog-Parents of Lakeshore Laments,” but he’s like that uncle you thought was cool at age 6, then real­ize when you turn 14 what a total tool he is.

Today’s exam­ple is Sullivan’s take from a reader email who is con­cerned about the mas­sive growth of gov­ern­ment under Obama, but since C-SPAN thinks only the Chris­t­ian Con­ser­v­a­tives are wor­thy of mak­ing the air for CPAC cov­er­age than say what Mitt  Rom­ney or Newt Gin­grich said yes­ter­day (or for­mer Labor Sec­re­tary Elaine Chao this morn­ing), and would rather go pen­ni­less under Obama than ‘imag­ine that these peo­ple were in power for 8 years and yearn for more.’

To which Sul­li­van responses with:

I feel the same way.  I came from a mod­est back­ground in another coun­try and arrived in the US with barely a cent of my own money.  I’ve worked hard and earned the Amer­i­can dream — and now have to work for the gov­ern­ment for well over half the year (a gov­ern­ment that still per­se­cutes me for being an HIV-survivor). Obama will take more of my money — and much, much more in the future. Lib­er­al­ism believes in pun­ish­ing hard-working suc­cess­ful peo­ple in this man­ner — and the more you suc­ceed, the more they will pun­ish you. But if I had to pick between him and the party of Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber, it’s really no contest.

So let me get this right…Andrew Sul­li­van would rather live in an Orwellian world where a Big Brother-type fig­ure rules us all with talk of respon­si­bil­ity while bail­ing out the irre­spon­si­ble, fid­dled while Con­gress nearly set us on the course of a trade war, and while men­tion­ing he’s inher­ited a mas­sive debt, has just increased it three-fold all because he doesn’t want to be led by peo­ple who go to church once a week and who think mar­riage is between a man and a woman.

I know, the horror.

Then again, I’m not the type to demand DNA test­ing on a tod­dler on a near-weekly basis, so what­ever floats your boat I guess.

And by the way, at CPAC Joe Wurzel­bacher aka “Joe the Plumber” is here shilling a book with lack­lus­ter results.  Last I checked, it’s a free coun­try — or at least it still might be given cur­rent events — so the man’s enti­tled to do what he wants if a pub­lisher thinks he can sell it.

I’m sure shilling a book at con­ven­tions is some­thing Sul­li­van has lit­tle expe­ri­ence doing.

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He’s Got a Point Here

I don’t know if the late, great George Car­lin had a bit about how he felt about how polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness effected his act, but I think he would be in silent agree­ment with Clint East­wood here.

Act­ing leg­end Clint East­wood , 79, appar­ently believes that polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness has ren­dered mod­ern soci­ety humour­less, for he accuses younger gen­er­a­tions of spend­ing too much time try­ing to avoid being offensive.

The Dirty Harry star insists that he should be able to tell harm­less jokes about nation­al­ity with­out fear­ing that peo­ple may brand him “a racist”.

Peo­ple have lost their sense of humour. In for­mer times we con­stantly made jokes about dif­fer­ent races. You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth or you will be insulted as a racist,” the Daily Express quoted him as saying.

I find that ridicu­lous. In those ear­lier days every friendly clique had a ‘Sam the Jew’ or ‘Jose the Mex­i­can’ — but we didn’t think any­thing of it or have a racist thought. It was just nor­mal that we made jokes based on our nation­al­ity or eth­nic­ity. That was never a prob­lem. I don’t want to be polit­i­cally correct.

We’re all spend­ing too much time and energy try­ing to be polit­i­cally cor­rect about every­thing,” he added.

I don’t know about you, but I miss the occa­sional Pol­lack joke.

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Enviros Declare War on Green Bay

In 2006, I believe at the State Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion at the Radis­son Paper Val­ley Hotel, for­mer Con­gress­man Mark Green told me, Owen Robin­son, and Sean Hack­barth in an all-bloggers press brief­ing some­thing akin to this while talk­ing about UW-Green Bay’s new “Paper Sci­ences Center:”

‘You know, more toi­let tis­sue is made in a sixty mile radius of Green Bay than any­where else in the world.”

It was an odd thing to say admit­tedly, but then when you think about it, it’s true.  Despite the news of some plants clos­ing in Nia­gara and Kim­berly, the paper indus­try is a vital part of region’s past and an impor­tant part of the economy.

Up in the area alone there are plants mak­ing Charmin, North­ern, and who knows what else on a non-stop basis to ful­fill the toi­letry needs of America.

That’s why, this news isn’t just a dec­la­ra­tion of war on toi­let paper.

It’s a dec­la­ra­tion of war on Green Bay, Apple­ton, the Fox Cities and the rest of North­east Wisconsin.

The country’s soft-tissue habit — call it the Charmin effect — has not escaped the notice of envi­ron­men­tal­ists, who are increas­ingly mak­ing toi­let tis­sue man­u­fac­tur­ers the tar­gets of cam­paigns. Green­peace on Mon­day for the first time issued a national guide for Amer­i­can con­sumers that rates toi­let tis­sue brands on their envi­ron­men­tal sound­ness. With the reces­sion push­ing the price for recy­cled paper down and Amer­i­cans show­ing more will­ing­ness to repur­pose every­thing from cloth­ing to tires, envi­ron­men­tal groups want more peo­ple to switch to recy­cled toi­let tissue.

No for­est of any kind should be used to make toi­let paper,” said Dr. Allen Her­shkowitz, a senior sci­en­tist and waste expert with the Nat­ural Resource Defense Council.

In the United States, which is the largest mar­ket world­wide for toi­let paper, tis­sue from 100 per­cent recy­cled fibers makes up less than 2 per­cent of sales for at-home use among con­ven­tional and pre­mium brands. Most man­u­fac­tur­ers use a com­bi­na­tion of trees to make their prod­ucts. Accord­ing to RISI, an inde­pen­dent mar­ket analy­sis firm in Bed­ford, Mass., the pulp from one euca­lyp­tus tree, a com­monly used tree, pro­duces as many as 1,000 rolls of toi­let tis­sue. Amer­i­cans use an aver­age of 23.6 rolls per capita a year.

The com­ing Green vs. Blue bat­tle con­tin­ues to march towards its inevitable con­clu­sion on the Left.  It’s up for them to decide which mat­ters more I guess.

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PAYGO">The Fallacy of PAYGO

As I’ve men­tioned in the past, Appleton’s Steve Kagen, MD (D) often likes to point out he’s a “Fis­cal Con­ser­v­a­tive.”  Given how the man just voted in the biggest Appro­pri­a­tions bill in the his­tory of the Repub­lic and has pub­licly state how much he loves a bud­get with a $1.75 deficit in it, that’s hard to believe.  (Kagen’s lat­est ACU rat­ing, released yes­ter­day, is a sad 33.7.)

How­ever, expect Kagen and his sur­ro­gate press slime balls in his Dis­trict and D.C. offices to speak a lot about “PAYGO.”  PAYGO — and it’s not just Kagen, but La Crosse’s Ron Kind also loves this talk­ing point — is the idea that ‘every­thing’ the gov­ern­ment spends must be ‘paid for in advance.’  These are ‘paid’ with either ‘reduc­tions in one area’ or an out­right tax increase.

The truth of the mat­ter is, PAYGO is a giant smoke­screen and always was; as pointed out by Appleton-native and one of D.C.‘s smartest guys on the fed­eral bud­get Brian Riedl points out in this Her­itage Foun­da­tion web memo.

PAYGO has proven to be more of a talk­ing point than an actual tool for bud­get dis­ci­pline. Dur­ing the 1991–2002 round of statu­tory PAYGO, Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent still added more than $700 bil­lion to the bud­get deficit and sim­ply can­celled every sin­gle seques­tra­tion.[1] Since the 2007 cre­ation of the PAYGO rule, Con­gress has waived it numer­ous times and added $600 bil­lion to the deficit.

Cre­at­ing a PAYGO law and then block­ing its enforce­ment is incon­sis­tent and hyp­o­crit­i­cal. And given their recent waiv­ing of PAYGO to pass a $1.1 tril­lion stim­u­lus bill, there is no rea­son to believe the cur­rent Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent are any more likely to enforce PAYGO than their pre­de­ces­sors were. And even if it were enforced, PAYGO applies to only a small frac­tion of fed­eral spend­ing (new enti­tle­ments). Con­se­quently, PAYGO is merely a dis­trac­tion from real bud­get reforms that could rein in run­away spend­ing and bud­get deficits.

Riedl goes on to point out the six prob­lems with PAYGO.

  1. PAYGO Would Not Decrease the Growth of Fed­eral Spending.
  2. PAYGO Exempts Dis­cre­tionary Spending.
  3. PAYGO Exempts Cur­rent Enti­tle­ment Benefits.
  4. PAYGO Employs a Dou­ble Stan­dard That Raises Taxes.
  5. Pre­vi­ous PAYGO Statutes Were Never Enforced–Even Once.
  6. Cur­rent PAYGO Rules Are Not Enforced.

These are very real issues never brought up by either Kagen or Kind when it comes to PAYGO.  At least with Kind, you get votes that back up the rhetoric about being con­cerned about gov­ern­ment spend­ing.  As indi­cated by Wednesday’s vote on the House Omnibus bill.

Inter­rupt him and laugh in his face.

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CPAC!!!">Live From CPAC!!!

Had a chance to walk around the place last year, but this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down inside Blog­gers’ Row and bring out the Ver­sion 2.0 of the L3 (Lakeshore Laments Lap­top) and blog as the hap­pen­ings go on around me.

I’ve got John Tobin of the Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor across the table from me, and Red State and the Weekly Standard’s Brian Faughan is to my right.

Way down at the end of the table, is Capt­ian Ed Mor­risey.  Fun times and pic­tures to follow.

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UW System Enrollment Down.">UW System Enrollment Down.

I will give cre­dence to my old edi­tor at the UWEC Spec­ta­tor, Kelly McBride for her great take on this arti­cle.  She hits on all the pos­si­ble the­o­ries as to why (except demo­graph­i­cally, but I don’t have the info for 1990–1991 being a year for births in Wis­con­sin) this trend is occurring.

Fewer prospec­tive fresh­men have applied for admis­sion to the Uni­ver­sity of Wisconsin-Green Bay com­pared with a year ago, reflect­ing a trend also evi­dent in Madison.

As of Feb. 15, UWGB fresh­men appli­ca­tions were down about 5 per­cent ver­sus last year, said Pam Harvey-Jacobs, direc­tor of admis­sions. Offi­cials had received 3,175 new fresh­man appli­ca­tions for fall, ver­sus 3,345 at the same time in 2008.

The num­ber of appli­ca­tions to UW-Madison dropped 3 per­cent, from a record 25,000 last year to about 24,300 this year. Madison’s appli­ca­tion dead­line was Feb. 1.

UWGB is among the sys­tem cam­puses that don’t have appli­ca­tion dead­lines and instead estab­lish pri­or­ity dates. That means the school will accept appli­ca­tions at least until the estab­lished date, and after­ward if space allows.

UWGB’s pri­or­ity date was Feb. 1, but offi­cials still are accept­ing applications.

The econ­omy is partly to blame for the decrease, as is the fact that the appli­ca­tion fee increased from $35 to $44 this year, Harvey-Jacobs said.

The num­ber of sin­gle appli­ca­tions — in other words, stu­dents who are fil­ing only one UW Sys­tem appli­ca­tion — is up by over 16 per­cent,” Harvey-Jacobs said.

Kids get­ting picky and only apply­ing to one school in the UW Sys­tem is a legit occur­rence in Wis­con­sin.  I did some­thing sim­i­lar, hav­ing only applied to UW-Eau Claire since I knew I was gonna get in and it was the only school in the state I wanted to go to because of its under­grad busi­ness pro­gram.  But I must say, I never have under­stood given all the mil­lions of dol­lars and count­less upgrades to tech­nol­ogy how stu­dents STILL have to fill out their appli­ca­tions on paper and must send a check to each school in the sys­tem they want to apply to.

Wouldn’t it be bet­ter in today’s world, we bring in some tech­nol­ogy, allow Wisconsin’s high school juniors and seniors the abil­ity to apply for col­lege online (maybe they do already, it’s been over a decade since I myself applied), then herd to the door a few ancient appli­ca­tions clerks, and only charge stu­dents a minor “added charge” of say $10 fpr each school addi­tional school in the UW Sys­tem they want the exact same col­lege appli­ca­tion they sent to UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, and UW-Stevens Point.

Because, even in good eco­nomic times, to apply at the six schools I just listed there, it now costs a Wis­con­sin high schooler $264.  That’s a lot of money, so instead of mak­ing it eas­ier to get in with bogus, under-financed pro­grams like Doyle’s “Wis­con­sin Covenant,” why not make apply­ing to a UW School sim­pler and less costly.  Because even the online instruc­tions are pretty insane.

(Actu­ally look­ing at the online instruc­tions, I now under­stand WHY I applied with the pen and paper model…)

Can some­one hon­estly tell me, with all that ‘elegded brain power,’ the UW Sys­tem Regents can’t come up with a bet­ter way to get stu­dents inside their ivory walls?

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Cartoon of the Day

Well, this is nicer than “The Only Thing We Have to Fear, is My Plan Not Being Passed!”

gm09022620090226093312And the Left starts call­ing “Lit­tle Orphan Annie” racist in…3…2…1…

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