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Archive for January, 2014

You Can Now Buy Cars Via Amazon*

(* – If you believe web-based advertising.)

Two things of interest here.

1) The fact that this ad takes place in Madison, WI probably helps highlight how much Amazon is intending to invest in the Badger State.

2)  A Nissan Versa, seriously?  (I guess if you want a cheap hatchback, you want a cheap hatchback…)


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Schultz to Retire

Honestly, I’m not shocked, more surprised it happened now and not around May when the legislative session ends. 

Longtime Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, says he will not stand for re-election.

The moderate Republican shared his decision with WISC-TV first.

“It’s better to leave while people want you to stay than the other way around,” said Schultz.

Schultz says he made the decision after listening to his constituents, and discussing it with his wife and family.

He was first elected to the Assembly in 1982, then to the Senate in a special election in 1991.

At his farm near Hillpoint, he recalls telling his wife he wanted to run for office.

“She turns and goes, ‘I always knew you’d do this to me,'” Schultz says with a laugh. “Then she said, ‘Run and get it out of your system.'”

His stock in the capitol has risen and fallen, winning a close race for majority leader of the Senate against Scott Fitzgerald in 2004, losing that seat when Democrats took control in 2006, then becoming a swing vote in that House in the last three years of contentious bills.  Schultz says his no vote on Act 10, the collective bargaining bill, was the hardest he made in 30 years.

There’s little doubt that this is caused by the pending challenge Schultz had from state Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Dodgeville).  Schultz pretty much makes that more than obvious in his statement on his retirement where he openly states he will not endorse his fellow Republican.

Schultz said he would not endorse fellow Republican state Representative Howard Marklein to succeed him in the senate.

“Howard made it clear in his announcement challenging me that his top two reasons for doing so were my votes on Act 10 and mining,” Schultz said. “It’s pretty difficult to support someone who’s so out of step with the views of my constituents on major issues they care deeply about.”

The bigger question going forward is what do Democrats — who have made targeting the 17th and 19th state Senate seats their top legislative election priority — do with this news.  Many have been under the assumption that Schultz was going to ride it out as an Independent, meaning they only needed to win a plurality of votes.  While “top of the ticket” has been going Democratic in recent years do to outgrowth from Madison, that has only applied in presidential years.

Also, apparently there aren’t many local Democratic officials in the 17th, so they’re going to have to pick someone out of a crowd or go with one of the defeated ex-state Reps. from 2010…especially since the current talk in Madison is that the Democratic candidate is “weak” and they may go hunting for a new one.

In the end, all the Schultz retirement news does is accelerate a timeline in what was already going to be one of two “Ground Zeroes” in the battle for control of the state senate.  That being said, given his stances over the past five years and how he’s openly turned off most conservatives in the state, the only folks openly grieving over this news are the folks at DPI, WEAC, and anyone else in the unionized educational establishment to whom Schultz (usually at the urging of his school superintendent wife) openly served while in office.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Cartoon of the Day


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RNC Approves New 2016 Nomination Rules 153 to 9

Huge win for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on this consolidation of the schedule.  This ends the all-out scramble that had been going on is past presidential years by some states (Like Florida…) to make sure “they mattered” when it came to picking a party’s nominee.

The next step, and this will take a rare moment of political sanity between both the DNC and RNC, is a series of rotating regional primaries.  We’re almost there already, but the idea of having all New England states voting on one day makes a lot more sense than the piecemeal shuffle of one state in the Midwest and another in the Pacific Northwest on the same day.

Also, it would allow for more bus tours in multiple states, which voters typically like (and campaigns like because they’re cheaper on budgets).

The Republican National Committee on Friday voted to significantly compress its presidential nominating calendar and to move its nominating convention earlier in the summer of 2016.

The full committee voted at its annual winter meeting to approve a new rules package that would allow the four regular early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to hold their nominating contests in February 2016 and penalize other states that might try to move their contests earlier than March 1.

In both the 2008 and 2012 nominating contests, states anxious to be one of the first contests have pushed the nominating calendar into early January. The result in 2012 was a long, sometimes nasty primary process that Republicans think hurt their chances of winning the presidency.

While the old calendar stretched six months from early January to late June — and was competitive for about half that span — the new one is intended to be as much as three months shorter — from early February to April or May.

Perhaps even more telling are the penalties the RNC will hand down to state parties and their delegations which try to jump in line.

* States that hold nominating contests between March 1 and March 14 must allocate their delegates proportionally rather than on a winner-take-all basis. States generally prefer the winner-take-all method (in order to have more influence and draw more interest from candidates), so the rule is designed to discourage the other 46 states from holding all their contests in early March.

(Wisconsin is a “winner-take-all” state during GOP primaries, the Dems used to have a proportional distribution based on congressional district. That might have changed after the 2008 race.)

* States must select their delegates at least 45 days prior to the convention, rather than the previous 35. This, combined with the earlier convention, should significantly tighten the primary schedule on the back end. In 2012, primaries were held as late as June.

(The current 2016 RNC Convention is scheduled for sometime around August June.  No city has been announced yet as the site.)

* Penalties for states moving in February or January will be more serious than in the past. While the committee previously stripped them of half their delegates, they will now lose more than that, in most cases. States with at least 30 delegates would be left with just 12 representatives at the convention, while states with less than 30 delegates would have nine.

(Florida, you’ve been warned…)

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Cartoon of the Day


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This Time, He’s in the Last Row

This is just priceless.

The Milwaukee Brewers announced plans on Wednesday, January 22nd for a new Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park. Unlike the other statues that surround Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza, this statue will be in the last row—yes, the last row of the Terrace Level at Miller Park.

The statue will pay tribute to the popular Miller Lite “All Stars” ad campaign which featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row.”  In the commercial, Uecker ended up in the last row—as will this new statue.  The statue will sit atop the Uecker Seats in Miller Park’s Terrace Level (Section 422) and will feature an open seat next to it allowing for a perfect photo opportunity.

The statue will be unveiled on April 25th, when the Crew will be playing the Cubs.  It is a work of Brian Maughan, who has also made all four of the other statues currently at Miller Park.

(For the record, I’ve been trying for the last 15 minutes to find the classic “I must be in the front row” ad on YouTube with now such luck.  There are a lot of foolish videos made by Yankees fans on YouTube saying the phrase, many by kids too young to every possibly understand the reference they are making.)

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Cartoon of the Day


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Image of the Day

Apparently, these are the official uniforms of the Norwegian Curling Team.


(Photo via the AP.)

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PBS Running into Internet Streaming Demands of Viewers

Something tells me, you won’t be hearing the words, “This Streaming Video is made possible through a generous donation from [Insert Corporate Name Here] and viewers like you” anytime soon.

Despite some fans eager to see it earlier, “Downton Abbey” will continue to begin its new seasons on PBS in January, the system’s chief executive said Monday.

The return of “Downton Abbey,” which began its fourth season on Jan. 5, is becoming a post-holiday tradition for the show’s fans, said Paula Kerger, PBS president. The British series began presenting new episodes in late September back home, but PBS holds it back. The drama had more than 10 million viewers for its fourth-season debut, and the episode was streamed online 1 million times during the following week, she said.

Debuting PBS’ most buzz-worthy show at the same time it starts in Britain will put it in direct competition with the new season offerings from the broadcast networks, Kerger said. It is also easier to get cast members to the U.S. to promote the new season if they don’t have to worry about those duties in Britain at the same time.

“It would be very hard for me to imagine putting it anywhere else than where it has seemed to have found a very strong audience,” she said.

Like the U.S., Great Britain has a television season that starts in the fall.  Unlike the U.S. — which typically fills this time with “mid-season replacements” and shows on shorter orders — the U.K. also has a television season that begins in January or February.  So I understand why PBS is reluctant to force the “Downton” cast to make multiple trips across the pond to promote the show in a whirlwind media tour of London, New York and Los Angeles.

However, we are living in a world where streaming video and “On-Demand” viewing are taking off, and such “exclusive” deals that PBS has with ITV (“Downton’s” home network in the UK) and the BBC (“Sherlock’s”) are becoming moot as more and more Americans buy software which allows them to stream full episodes on the BBC’s UK website.

(Currently, only computers with IPs based in the UK can access the video streaming of bbc.co.uk, however, either a software patch or scrambler device is allowing many Americans to bypass the IP restrictions and view them from their PCs here in the states.)

Also, many showrunners in the UK are publicly stating they hate the way PBS is delaying their shows for their own ratings needs.  One of them, is Steven Moffat, who writes “Sherlock.”  To try to compensate Moffat’s outrage, PBS moved up the show from its usual March start to mid-January.

The premiere episode of “Series 3” aired this past Sunday.

PBS is experimenting with a shorter delay for the “Sherlock” series, responding to the pleas of fervent fans. The show’s new season began in Britain on New Year’s Day and this past Sunday on PBS.

That’s still too long a delay, said series co-creator and writer Steven Moffat.

“We can’t expect a show to go out in one country and expect people in another country to wait more than a day. The world has changed utterly,” Moffat said in an interview. “We’re going to be downloading all our television very, very soon, so the idea you have to wait is nonsense.”

“Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch agreed.

“It breaks my heart that this hit show, appreciated worldwide as it is, is not delivered worldwide at the same time. And it’s possible,” he said, if PBS and the BBC would coordinate the U.S.-U.K. airings.

Not doing so is a slight to the show’s “communities of fans,” Cumberbatch said.

Moffat’s other show — the sci-fi show “Doctor Who” — is also on the BBC and has apparently solved the problem a number of ways. Many of which were designed to avoid spoilers in an ever-increasing technological world.

The first is that since the start of “Series 7,” the show has been aired on the same day; premiering first in the UK, then airing on BBC America about six hours later.  Second have been a series of global simulcasts; starting first with a worldwide announcement of actor Peter Capaldi as “The 12th Doctor” on every BBC-affiliate from the UK to the U.S. to Australia.  They repeated the feat in late-November when “The Day of the Doctor,” the 5oth Anniversary Special aired.

It was the single-biggest simulcast event in world history.

No one has actually said how long the contract between BBC and PBS is when it comes to the re-airing of “Sherlock.”  Given that it took longer between “Series 2” and “Series 3” to film because of commitments by show stars Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, plans in the works for a “Series 4” and “Series 5” underway, along with Moffat’s urging of same-day airings, the question becomes:  If or When does “Sherlock” move to BBC America?

It might happen sooner than a lot of PBS viewers think, and they can blame technology for it.

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