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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

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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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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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.

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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