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Archive for February, 2011

Charlie Sheen Goes Crazy, Commits Career Suicide

I suppose, if you’re going to have a complete meltdown, this is the way to do it.

As Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen’s erratic behavior escalated today in a series of verbal assaults on the show’s creator-executive producer Chuck Lorre, the sitcom’s network and studio did the only thing they could in the situation: pull the plug.  But they only did it for this season. (Two and a Half Men was scheduled to resume production on Monday for 4 more episodes). So the door is left open for a possible ninth season. “Based on the totality of Charlie Sheen’s statements, conduct and condition, CBS and Warner Bros TV have decided to discontinue production of Two and a Half Men for the remainder of the season,” the two companies said in a statement.


The production shutdown decision was a dramatic ending to a really fascinating day in which Hollywood witnessed a star’s self-destruction. First, in a bizarre rant on The Alex Jones radio show this morning, Sheen called Lorre a “charlatan” and a “turd” and would only refer to him by his “real name, Chaim Levine.” “Chaim, last time I checked, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold,” said Sheen, responding to a tongue-in-cheek vanity card Lorre recently posted on Men that ended with “If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.”

Things escalated in the afternoon when Sheen, currently vacationing in the Bahamas with a girlfriend, ex-wife and a porn star, reached out to TMZ. “I violently hate Chaim Levine,” Sheen said. “He’s a stupid, stupid little man and a p**sy punk that I’d never want to be like. That’s me being polite.”

Lorre is said to be very upset by the insults hurled by Sheen who has had a huge career resurgence with Men and became TV’s highest-paid star making more than $1.2 million an episode. Lorre was integrally involved, along with WBTV and CBS, in the decision not to resume production as planned, which was made in a series of meetings this afternoon precipitated by today’s events. WBTV, which has lucrative syndication deals in place for Two and a Half Men, stands to lose tens of millions of dollars if the series doesn’t continue. But that pales in comparison to the importance of Lorre to the studio. In addition to Two and a Half Men, he is also behind the WBTV’s hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, which landed a massive syndication deal in May, and promising new comedy Mike & Molly.

The BIG money in television is always in the syndication rights, which typically takes place after a show has been on a network for four or five seasons.  Syndication allows networks and production companies to finally profit on all the cash they’ve been plugging into shows, plus it’s naturally cheap to distribute.

It is pre-packaged, pre-produced programs after all.  Just put the tape in and press play.

As for Sheen, I believe this is how it was destined to end.  The guy’s got some severe addiction and anger issues which he clearly has no interest of desire in dealing with, and frankly CBS has given him more than enough rope and leeway with his past actions that eventually they were going to have to say “Enough!” to him.  The network and the Two and a Half Men people were kind enough to help lift his career out of the toilet at the beginning of the series and he ends up doing this to them in a very public fashion.

He frankly gave them no other choice.

His future is going to be a mystery.  Sheen is saying he’s got a $5 million per episode show lined up for HBO, but no one believes him AND, the lawyers at CBS and Two and a Half Men’s production company could sue him long enough to kill any project in the crib if it were in fact true.  There are reports his father — legendary actor Martin Sheen — and the rest of his family have all but given up on him getting “clean” so lord only knows what happens next.

One hopes he looks at the mess he’s created for both his career and his life, but who honestly thinks such introspection exists inside this self-described egomaniac and hedonist?  Here’s hoping he’s not found dead with several hookers and a giant pile of blow in the next couple years.

(Oh, who am I kidding on that last line?  That’s exactly how we’re going to find him.)

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Former Dem Staffer Goes All “Righteous Indignation”

Ah, it must be Jay Heck time.

And it is!

The leader of a state government watchdog group on Wednesday called for an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s comments with a prank caller purporting to be a major donor.

Jay Heck, executive director of Wisconsin Common Cause, said Walker’s remarks seeking support for Republicans from swing districts from a caller posing as an energy industry executive should be reviewed by the state Government Accountability Board.

Coordinating campaign strategy with a group that conducts independent campaign expenditures would be a law or ethics violations, Heck said.

He acknowledged that such coordination in this case couldn’t happen because Walker wasn’t really talking to Koch, whose firm Koch Industries has contributed heavily to Walker and other conservative candidates and causes.

Heck said Walker’s recorded suggestion nonetheless deserved scrutiny.

Frankly, I’m not going to dwell into the “Koch” phone call other than to say it was dumb to take and whoever cleared it to higher-ups in the Governor Walker’s office should have done a better job of vetting; especially after a time was scheduled.  Billionaires tend to have assistants who set up these sorts of calls.  That should have been a red flag right off the bat.

Also, and this is probably my life in campaigns speaking, but someone in the press office should have been informing the front desk to be on the lookout for any strange calls from anyone as the protests were going on.  Anything else is insane speculation best found in the left-wing fever swamps which frankly, is starting to mirror that which they seem to mock the most — Glenn Beck and his blackboard of connection webs.

Anyway, back to Common Cause of Wisconsin…

Don’t you love how the state press likes to never mention that prior to coming on board with Common Cause, Heck was a Democratic State Senate staffer in the 90s.  You think it sort of tells you where the loyalties lie.

And if that isn’t enough — because it usually never is — take a look at who’s on the “Common Cause Advisory Board” as of 2009.

(Identifications of the ones I at least know of, or heard of in Italics.)

Maxine Hough – East Troy , Co-Chair — Former Democratic State Legislator, currently employed in the Department of Public Instruction (Thanks for the bio Common Cause!)

Bill Kraus – Madison , Co-Chair  — Former staffer of former-Governor Lee Dreyfus (R), since become liberal activist, commenter, and columnist for the Madison Capital Times and former Democratic Gubernatorial and Senatorial candidate Ed Garvey’s “FightingBob.com.”

Nino Amato – Madison  — Chair, Wisconsin Coalition of Aging Groups; a known conglomerate of liberal special interest groups.

Richard Anderson – Pewaukee

David Beckwith – Milwaukee

Dave Behrendt – Milwaukee

Rick Berg – Madison

Naomi Gunderson Bodway – Osseo

Sarah Botham- Barneveld

Tim Cullen – Janesville  — Former, now again Democratic State Senator for the Janesville-Beloit areaCurrent whereabouts believed to be in Harvard, IL.

Vivien DeBack – Hales Corners

Mike Drew – Shorewood

Steven Gores – La Crosse  (UPDATE) — Former Member, La Crosse School Board, 2009 La Crosse Mayoral Candidate

Bert Grover – Gresham (UPDATE) — Former Democratic State Legislator, Former State Superintendent.

Stan Gruszynski – Porterfield — Former Democratic State Legislator.

David Martin – Muscoda

E. Michael McCann of Milwaukee — Former Democratic District Attorney of Milwaukee County.

Daniel Meyer – Wisconsin Rapids

Robert Schweder – Princeton

Frederick Trost – Elkhart Lake — Pastor at U.C.C. Church, significant in the leftward-tilt seen in the politics of most Wisconsin U.C.C. congregations

Roger Utnehmer – Sturgeon Bay — Newspaper publisher and personal friend of former Doyle appointee, Democratic Congressional Candidate, and Brown Co. Executive Nancy Nusbaum.

Dirk Zylman – Sheboygan — Former Chair of the Sheboygan County Democratic Party, as well as former co-panelist on WHBL’s “Friday Forum” with myself back in 2005-2006 when I’d occasionally fill-in as the panel’s conservative.

By the way, the 2010 list is pretty much the same, just doesn’t include Cullen.

Someone please remind me, why does Common Cause get the “non-partisan” name attached to it again?

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British Judge: Assange Can Be Extradited

Just breaking…

LONDON — A British judge says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden over sex crimes claims.

Judge Howard Riddle says the allegations of rape and sexual molestation by two women are extraditable offenses and a Swedish warrant was properly issued.

Lawyers for Assange have a week to appeal Thursday’s decision.

Riddle says “there is simply no reason to believe there has been a mistake” in issuing the warrant.

Assange has been out on bail during the extradition fight.

His lawyers have questioned Sweden’s judicial process and expressed concern their client risks being handed over to the U.S., which is investigating whether Assange’s website should be held responsible for leaking classified information.

Lawyers for Sweden have argued that authorities made repeated attempts to interview Assange while he was in Scandinavia, but to no avail.

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Seriously, Where’s the Humane Society?

Video credit to “The Sconz” at the Madison web-zine “The Isthmus.”

Yes, that’s a camel struggling after one of its hind legs gets stuck in a police or security barricade.  The video apparently ends when John Oliver, Daily Show “Correspondent” (He’s an actor folks, I’ve seen him on his other gig, as a community college professor on the NBC comedy, “Community.”) asked “The Sconz” to turn off the camera.

He obliged.

The camel, which apparently was meant to be part of “the coverage” the team at “The Daily Show” was providing for last night’s broadcast, ended out alright — after a ten-minute struggle.

He also didn’t have any airtime.

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State Looking Into Doctor’s Notes

Hope the stunt was possibly worth their medical licenses.

Staff at the state Department of Regulation and Licensing have begun to review roughly 300 e-mail complaints about doctors issuing excuse notes for protesters at the state Capitol over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

Complaints that name a specific doctor and the alleged violations of rules covered by their licenses will be forwarded to the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board. Letters specifying the complaint will be sent to the doctors at the start of the investigation.

To date, the names of doctors Lou Sanner and James Shropshire have been cited in media reports about the medical excuses dispensed over the weekend. Both are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The agency said none of the doctors involved was representing UW Health at the time.

Shropshire has not returned a call seeking comment, and Sanner defended his actions in an interview with The Associated Press. He said the excuses were legitimate because those protesting showed symptoms of stress.


Officials with the Madison and Milwaukee school districts also plan to scrutinize doctor’s notes presented to excuse absences during the protests. Because of the large number of teacher absences, Madison schools were closed for four days, and Milwaukee schools were closed for one.

The Department of Regulation and Licensing, often a forgotten agency is state government, is headed by former Superior Mayor and former GOP Lt. Governor candidate Dave Ross.

UPDATE: Pundit Press reports that UW Health is removing the profiles of some of the doctors who were caught on tape handing out the excuse notes.  No word if that is a statement of discipline by UW Health, or if there is some sort of scrubbing effort going on.

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Goldberg: Government Unions Were Mistake

Damn right.

And I post this because, 1) I agree with it, and 2) I know it will keep the union-backing trolls in my comments coming back for more.

The protesting public school teachers with fake doctor’s notes swarming the Capitol building in Madison, Wis., insist that Gov. Scott Walker is hell-bent on “union busting” in their state. Walker denies that his effort to reform public sector unions in Wisconsin is anything more than an honest attempt at balancing the state’s books.

I hope the protesters are right. Public unions have been a 50-year mistake.

A crucial distinction has been lost in the debate over Walker’s proposals: Government unions are not the same thing as private sector unions.

Traditional, private sector unions were born out of an often bloody adversarial relationship between labor and management. It’s been said that during World War I, U.S. soldiers had better odds of surviving on the front lines than miners did in West Virginia coal mines. Mine disasters were frequent; hazardous conditions were the norm. In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion claimed the lives of 362 West Virginia miners. Day-to-day life often resembled serfdom, with management controlling vast swaths of the miners’ lives. And before unionization and many New Deal-era reforms, Washington had little power to reform conditions by legislation.

Meanwhile, government unions have no such narrative on their side. Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair’s famous schoolhouse sequel to “The Jungle”? No? Don’t feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.

Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order (so much for democracy), the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations.

The argument for public unionization wasn’t moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political.

Traditional organized labor, the backbone of the Democratic Party, was beginning to lose ground. As Daniel DiSalvo wrote in “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions,” in the fall issue of National Affairs, JFK saw how in states such as New York and Wisconsin, where public unions were already in place, local liberal pols benefited politically and financially. He took the idea national.

The plan worked. Public union membership skyrocketed and government union support for the party of government skyrocketed with it. From 1989 to 2004, AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – gave nearly $40 million to candidates in federal elections, with 98.5% going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Why would local government unions give so much in federal elections? Because government workers have an inherent interest in boosting the amount of federal tax dollars their local governments get. Put simply, people in the government business support the party of government.

And this gets to the real insidiousness of government unions. Wisconsin labor officials fairly note that they’ve acceded to many of their governor’s specific demands – that workers contribute to their pensions and healthcare costs, for example. But they don’t want to lose the right to collective bargaining.

But that is exactly what they need to lose.

Private sector unions fight with management over an equitable distribution of profits. Government unions negotiate with politicians over taxpayer money, putting the public interest at odds with union interests and, as we’ve seen in states such as California and Wisconsin, exploding the cost of government. The labor-politician negotiations can’t be fair when the unions can put so much money into campaign spending. Victor Gotbaum, a leader in the New York City chapter of AFSCME, summed up the problem in 1975 when he boasted, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”

This is why FDR believed that “the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” and why even George Meany, the first head of the AFL-CIO, held that it was “impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

As it turns out, it’s not impossible; it’s just terribly unwise. It creates a dysfunctional system where for some, growing government becomes its own reward. You can find evidence of this dysfunction everywhere. The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner notes that federal education spending has risen by 188% in real terms since 1970, but we’ve seen no significant improvement in test scores.

The unions and the protesters in Wisconsin see Walker’s reforms as a potential death knell for government unions. My response? If only.

Emphasis mine.

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Fitzgerald Suspends Direct Deposit in State Senate

From now on, if Wisconsin’s State Senators — including the 14 on the lam — wish to get paid every two weeks, they’ll have to pick up their paychecks in the Majority Leader’s office.

Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to make Democrats hiding out in Illinois come back to Wisconsin to pick up their paychecks.

The Senate Committee on Organization voted on a 3-2 party line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against, to change Senate rules so that senators who miss two consecutive floor days can no longer have their paychecks dropped automatically into their bank accounts. The vote was taken by paper ballot, which allowed Democrats to cast their votes from out-of-state.

Democrats who have already missed two consecutive floor sessions will now have to come to get their paychecks directly from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) on the floor of the Senate.

“The majority leader shall provide the checks only to the absent Senator and only on the floor of the Senate during a session day,” the new rule reads.

Democrats have been holed up in Illinois to block a Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.

This has long been a proposal and tactic the State Senate GOP had been thinking of doing.  You can read the release on the new rule here.

That the Chief Clerk provide the paycheck, per diem check, and any expense reimbursement check of any Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days to the Majority Leader for the absent member to pick up in person. Until the Majority Leader authorizes the Chief Clerk to reinstate direct deposit, the Chief Clerk shall suspend the direct deposit of the paycheck of any such Senator and process the Senator’s pay as a paper check. The Majority Leader shall provide the checks only to the absent Senator and only on the floor of the Senate during a session day.

Perhaps the most surreal part about the motion given current circumstances and locations of the parties involved, is the three GOP leaders in the Rules Committee (Ellis, Fitzgerald, and Grothman), let the two Democrats (Hansen and Miller) vote via speaker phone.

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San Francisco May Ban Infant Circumcision

Okay, makes you wonder where the Gaylors and other “Separation of Church and State” folks are on this since the Jewish tradition of the bris and this law really clash.

Self-described “civil rights advocates” say that a ballot proposition to ban circumcision is on track for gathering signatures, meaning that San Franciscans may vote on the measure this November.

The proposed law is being spearheaded by local resident Lloyd Schofield, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

It’s part of a national push to end the procedure, which some say is steeped in tradition but poses risks and has little medical benefit. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association do not recommend routine circumcision.

Getting on the ballot is the easy part — only about 7,000 signatures are required. Once it’s there, advocates will have to convince voters that snipping off body parts is a bad idea.

Although some studies indicate that circumcision reduces the risk of STD transmission, others have indicated that the procedure is not worth the associated risks and diminished sexual function.

Several Jewish organizations have weighed in against the ban as well, pointing out that circumcision rituals play an important historical role for many Jews. Schofeld counters that under his proposed law, adults would be free to opt-in to circumcision, but infants would not be allowed to have the procedure until they reach 18.

If it passes, those caught cutting foreskins would face a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison. Only people over the age of 18 would be allowed to have their foreskins removed.

Seriously, there are people in the Bay Area with way too much time on their hands to think this stuff up.

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Crowder Takes on the Madison Meltdown

Okay, the gun used by the union thug (played by Steve’s brother) in the play-acting is a tad excessive.

But since I ran into the joys of labor union intimidation myself in college (You try being a college student working at a plant when it goes on strike for a month and wonder what’s next when you know you both need the money to pay for school AND don’t want to anger your co-workers.), I’ll let it slide.

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Irony Defined

Charlie Rangel, who has numerous ethics violations before him, including avoiding the payment of taxes, is having his Congressional office issue an electronic pamphlet on how to properly pay one’s taxes.

Rep. Charlie Rangel isn’t backing down from anything after his censure by the House last year — including offering tax advice.

Among the ethics violations for which the Harlem Democrat was punished by his colleagues just before Christmas was failing to pay taxes on his DominIcan villa. But Rangel nevertheless just emailed his latest “Rangel Report” featuring tax advice for constituents.

“On its face, Charlie Rangel giving tax advice is more than just ironic, it’s surreal,” said Baruch College politics maven Doug Muzzio.

“On the other hand, Charle Rangel knows the tax law, his constituents need tax advice and he can provide it,” Muzzio added. “It’s a service for his constituents.”

Rangel’s spokesman declined to comment on the mailing, except to note that he does it every year.

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