Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Oshkosh Northwestern Really has to Stop Pawning Press Releases Off as Actual Articles Before It Starts Making a Habit of the Practice

Here is the full text of an "article" that ran on the NW's web site Saturday:
WASHINGTON — Sixth District Rep. Tom Petri has received an education award at a Washington conference for the National Association of Scholars, an organization of academics who seek to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America's colleges and universities.

"It's an award in appreciation of really outstanding legislation and a truly good and timely idea, and that is bringing the resources of government behind an effort to improve the quality of civic education in our colleges, and through our colleges throughout the entire system of education, because college influences everything," NAS Chairman Stephen H. Balch explained in a press release.

"He (Petri) was the sponsor of the Higher Education for Freedom Act, a bill which gives the Department of Education the authority to make grants in support of centers and institutions and scholars who are studying free institutions, the American founding, traditional American history — constitutional, political, intellectual — and Western civilization. These are subjects that were, for many, many, many years, thought of as the essential intellectual core of American higher education. But in recent decades they have been increasingly slighted for a variety of reasons, and this legislation is an effort to help put them back on center stage."

The legislation was inserted into the higher education reauthorization bill that President Bush signed into law Aug. 14, 2008.

"I'm delighted to receive this award from the National Association of Scholars," Petri said. "They have been a leading national organization in the area of trying to maintain and improve standards in higher education. One area that we very much need to do a better job is learning about our shared history as Americans. Hopefully, this program will help us do a better job there."

Now, here are the first five graphs of a press release sent out by Petri's office regarding the same honor:

WASHINGTON - Rep. Tom Petri received an education award Friday morning at a Washington conference for the National Association of Scholars, an organization of academics who seek to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America’s colleges and universities.

NAS Chairman Stephen H. Balch explained, "It's an award in appreciation of really outstanding legislation and a truly good and timely idea, and that is bringing the resources of government behind an effort to improve the quality of civic education in our colleges, and through our colleges throughout the entire system of education, because college influences everything.

"He [Petri] was the sponsor of the Higher Education for Freedom Act, a bill which gives the Department of Education the authority to make grants in support of centers and institutions and scholars who are studying free institutions, the American founding, traditional American history - constitutional, political, intellectual - and Western civilization. These are subjects that were, for many, many, many years, thought of as the essential intellectual core of American higher education. But in recent decades they have been increasingly slighted for a variety of reasons, and this legislation is an effort to help put them back on center stage." (Audio of NAS Chairman Balch's comments)

The legislation was inserted into the higher education reauthorization bill which President Bush signed into law Aug. 14, 2008.

Petri said of the award, "I'm delighted to receive this award from the National Association of Scholars. They have been a leading national organization in the area of trying to maintain and improve standards in higher education. One area that we very much need to do a better job is learning about our shared history as Americans. Hopefully, this program will help us do a better job there."

They are almost word for word the same text.

I'm bringing this up because the National Association of Scholars isn't exactly an uncontroversial organization -- despite the generic name. Stanley Fish, whose academic street cred is legion, has said the organization is "is widely known to be racist, sexist and homophobic.'' That was a while ago, and while the rhetoric of the Association has been tempered a bit, the goals remain the same.

So this was conceivably an interesting story about a controversial group honoring a local politician, presumably for working for the controversial principles held by the group, but was just passed off by the NW in the form of a press release by the elected official.

Now, I'm not entirely blaming the NW for missing the boat on this one since the article was "authored" by the Gannett New Service, so whomever cleared this for syndication should be given a few strong words on the importance of objective reporting.

But a retraction or a note of some kind would be a good start too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Anyone Else Out There Believe Barack Obama was Elected Just Because He's Black?

The "Our negro has principles while your negro just has teh black" strikes me as missing the point entirely for some reason.

The Old Broad:
Well, you see, the thing is……we don’t care what color a person is, we care about his/her politics. There is a big difference between electing a guy as POTUS JUST because of his skin color, and choosing a guy to lead because of his stand on policies.
Cathy Stepp:
He was elected for his beliefs, not his color. How refreshing.
Anyone else want on this train? It's going straight to Obsolescence.

"Oshkosh on the Slaughter"

I'm agnostic on the whole thinning the deer population by the Quarry deal, but I'm apparently in the minority since there were certainly a few satellite trucks hanging around the south side this afternoon:



Perhaps when we featured the below awesome pic we were being a bit prescient:


Hey, it could be worse ... Oshkosh could be the Google Maps Van.

Move Over Illuminati, Masons, Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberger Group, Jews -- Perkins is Now in Control of the Media!

If you have the time/patience/masochistic sense of self-loathing to wade through a crazy ass blogger's crazy ass obsession with the cleanliness of a suburban Milwaukee Perkins and the reporting thereof, get thee to Freedom Eden:
What's certain is there's no question that someone doesn't want the Perkins story on the site and TMJ4 is cooperating.
That's right, with all that is wrong with the world, it's the story about the local Perkins that requires numerous emails and seven blog posts (thus far) ...

On a far more serious note, please feel free to enjoy this Milwaukee area Perkins-related story from the Onion:


Death Spiral

Agreed:
Most fundamentally of all, the McCain campaign radically overestimated the importance of appealing to the base. House Republicans may be replicating their mistake. Self-described conservative Republicans represent only about 20 percent of the population. This base is not necessarily becoming smaller; it's still alive and kicking. What is true, however, is that the (1) base has never been sufficient to form a winning electoral coalition, and (2) that there are fewer and fewer non-base (e.g. moderates, libertarian Republicans, Republican leaning-independents). As these moderates have fled the GOP, the party's electoral fortunes have tanked. But simultaneously, they have had less and less influence on the Republican message.

Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base -- but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.

And Now for Something Completely Different

There's really no way to preface this true marvel of regional advertising to those who live outside the Green Bay TV market:



A profound debt is due to Wisconsin's foremost internet folk anthropologist at Wisconsinology.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kevin Fischer Math! (or, The Incredible Increasing Price Tag!)

Elementary arithmatic is clearly not Fischer's strong suit.

Remember this Golden Oldie:
Good for the Attorney General who informed mega liberals Miller and Pocan the cost of his lawsuit was $155.
That's right it, only cost tax-payers $155 to guarantee we have clean elections in Wisconsin!

Except the actual cost is now $720. And that's if you're using Kevin Fischer Math, which, as we noted earlier, is tens of thousands of dollars off the mark.

Whatever voodoo accounting measures DOJ is using to make this case look negligently inexpensive will eventually come to light and the "cost" will eventually rise incrementally through a series of Friday afternoon press releases or just balloon all at once (in a Friday afternoon press release) ... until then, the actual cost of the lawsuit to tax-payers is $43,000+ $50,000. This figure includes the legal cost to the GAB, which is also a tax-payer funded government entity that Van Hollen sued. That costs money too, and there's no way of getting around that without flat out misrepresenting the facts.

MORE: The price tag for the GAB is now over $50,000:

Things to do in Tampa When You're Dead

Behold, civic priorities!
[T]here are a total of 43 strip clubs in Tampa. That’s more than the city’s hospitals (12), high schools (41), fire stations (21) or synagogues (13). The only place that rivals the clubs is McDonald’s, which also comes in at 43.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Profiles in GOP Leadership

Here is the Chairman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, tele-fellating Rush Limbaugh on cable TV this afternoon:



And people are concerned about Democrats elevating Limbaugh's stature?

Jesus, just who is in charge of the GOP?

Just Because the Technology Exists, It Doesn't Mean You Should Use It

Be sure to check out Jesse Seymour waxing economic off the top of his dome at the Right Side of Wisconsin ... it's like listening to an extremely uninformed -- and annoying -- message on your voice mail.

Abe Lincoln and the Emoticon

By tomorrow I'm sure someone will have translated the Gettysburg Address into text (4 score n 7 yrs ago ...):

Beware the Mentzer Kiss of Death!

Yesterday, Wausau's Rob Mentzer praised Culture11.com as "a very good newish site that has been described as a center-right Slate."

Today, Culture11 folded.

Coincidence?

Is There Anything More Ridiculous Than ...

... Someone writing
I’VE KNOWN SINCE CHRISTMAS BUT WAS SWORN TO SECRECY!
in all caps?

Game Over

Thank you for playing, Judge Koschink.

A Note to Kevin Fischer on the Length of the Current School Year

We'll manage.

Now run along and play with the one of the worst legislators in the state Senate...

Great Moments in Athletic Good Fortune/Posturing

I don't know what's more badass: the buzzer beater or the fact that the shooter just walks off the court like it ain't no thang ...

Time Killer of the Day

Finally, someone out there is watching Lifetime Original Movies and reporting back on their grandeur so that you don't have to.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some Good Monster Truck News (for a Change)

This is very cool:
A unit of Oshkosh Corp. said Monday it signed a research and development deal with the Army for refining the technology that enables unmanned ground vehicles to operate in a convoy.

The three-year collaboration between Oshkosh Defense and the U.S. Army's Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center will focus on upgrading Oshkosh's unmanned TerraMax vehicle.

"The objective is to create a lead (unmanned) vehicle that can navigate and operate in missions, while communicating route information to another unmanned follower vehicle," Oshkosh said in a news release.
We here at the Chief got a kick out of the TerraMax when it competed the DARPA Urban Challange in 2007.

Here are few more during the run up to the competition.

Obama and that Guy on the Radio

I'm of the belief that Barack Obama's 'You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done' comment was just an example of a contemporaneous aside, a comment that used Limbaugh's name to embody the most extreme elements of conservatism without much thought to the consequences. I have no idea if that's the case, of course, but I doubt Limbaugh is taken very seriously by anyone in the White House and suspect that, for a brief moment, Obama forgot that some people actually do take the baffoon very seriously indeed.

Here's Jay Cost:
If your stature is greater than your opponent's, it's never a good strategy to mention him by name. This is why incumbents call challengers "my opponent," and challengers mention incumbents by name. It's not in the President's interest to single out a radio host/pundit for criticism like this. I'd wager that this is a lesson learned for Obama and his administration.
Can't argue with that, really.

At the same time, Obama is in the unique position where he basically gets to choose his nemesis -- why not elevate a circus clown to that position? Limbaugh speaks to only the hard right of the GOP, why not give him the platform to continue to alienate the moderate wing of the GOP until finally they just abandon ship? Let the id of the Republican party see the light of day and then see if it's still appealing to anyone who doesn't subscribe to Human Events...

Basically, Obama is not going to find opposition that is going to operate on the same level that he's woring on -- there will be no Newt Gingrich for the foreseeable future (unless maybe Eric Cantor takes out a second mortgage on his soul from the Devil and gets some gravitas and balls), so why not take on the meanest and ugliest symbol of partisanship there is?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Billy Joel Can Suck It

I'd like to personally thank Ron Rosenbaum for starting a dialog that is long overdue:
It is a kind of mystery: Why does his music make my skin crawl in a way that other bad music doesn't? Why is it that so many of us feel it is possible to say Billy Joel is—well—just bad, a blight upon pop music, a plague upon the airwaves more contagious than West Nile virus, a dire threat to the peacefulness of any given elevator ride, not rock 'n' roll but schlock 'n' roll?
Oh, and it only gets better.

MORE: I was going to bring this up earlier and decided to just let it slide, but since LGM brought it up I may as well add to the discussion:
Ron Rosenbaum inexplicably fails to include the song that is arguably BJ's five-minute shite-load, "We Didn't Start the Fire."

[...]

But I think the song's essential malignance is summed up by one line: "JFK, blown away -- what else do I have to say?" Because, of course, nothing is quite as historically self-explanatory as the fucking Kennedy assassination.
I'd like to posit that "We Didn't Start the Fire" is, despite the flaws mentioned above, in addition to the small detail that it is essentially a novelty song, in fact, the best that Billy Joel has to offer.

That is how much I personally loathe the Billy Joel oeuvre, particularly "Piano Man," which, when song by drunk 20-somethings during happy hour, makes me want to eat shattered glass almost as much as when I hear just Billy Joel sing the damn song by himself.

And don't get me started on "Big Shot" ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If You Blinked, You Missed It

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act breezed through the Senate.

I mean, it wasn't even close ... which, in my mind at least, begs the question: where was the opposition? If there was so little to begin with, why wasn't this legislation passed earlier?

These are questions the GOP must start asking itself in order to determine why they have gotten to where they are today.

MORE: And what she said ...

Much Ado About Nothing

Evidently, the outrage de jour is an advertisement the Shirley Abrahamson campaign placed on the UW Law School web site soliciting interns for her upcoming re-election campaign.

And now that the office of Steve Nass has gotten involved we're likely to see more useless posturing. Here are the words Nass' staffer put into his mouth re: the issue:
“It appears that the Chief Justice’s campaign is using her influence and office to solicit campaign workers through the UW-Madison Law School. The description of these internships is clearly unseemly, unethical and possibly illegal,” Nass said.
First of all, let's take a look at what Nass' staffer believes is Abrahamson using her influence and office to solicit campaign workers through the UW-Madison Law School: these are Nass' own press release's words on just how Abrahamson tried to strongarm her way on to the UW Law School web site:
The internship notice was submitted by Jane Heymann, Assistant Dean for Career Services at the UW Law School.
Wow ... that's gangsta! An internship notice was submitted to a woman who's title presumably makes her responsible for putting such notices on the web site. Surely, Abrahamson's* influence and power in the field of Career Services is what resulted in the posting of the internship notice!

But on to the second allegation, the one that claims that this practice is "clearly unseemly, unethical and possibly illegal."

First, something can not be both simultaneously "clearly" and "possibly," as "illegal" is in this sentence. This is just poor sentence construction on behalf of Nass' staffer.

Secondly, the listing appears to be niether "unseemly, unethical" and/or "possibly illegal":

Jane Heymann, the law school's assistant dean for career services, said solicitations for political campaigns in the newsletter are rare. So when the job listing was submitted, Law School Assistant Dean Ruth Robarts had it vetted by the campus' legal counsel's office.

"They were of the opinion that this didn't violate any campus or state law," she said.

Heymann said students typically have a keen interest in politics, and regardless of party affiliation, candidates are welcome to solicit campaign workers in the newsletter.

Including Koschnick.

"We would be delighted to run that announcement in our next newsletter," she said. "If it's anything we think law students might be interested in we're happy to oblige."

[Just as an aside: did Lance Burri read these grafs when he wrote "the Cap Times did a story about it (although that was more about a liberal group's extremely weak attempts to deflect the issue)"?
1.) It was the Wisconsin State Journal, not the Cap Times.
2.) It was the UW Law School, not One Wisconsin Now (which was quoted earlier).
3.) What part of "Koschink is welcome to place his own solicitations" does everybody screaming to high Hell about this non-issue not understand?]
If anyone thinks otherwise, they are welcome to sue either UW or Abrahamson. I would ask that you use your own money for a change so that the state doesn't have to spend twice as much money to both file and defend itself from a frivolous lawsuit. Please feel free to get back to us when you've been denied standing. Thank you for your time.

*Yes, that was an Airplane! + Wisconsin Supreme Court joke.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"He is said to be overweight and suffering depression as a result of his financial woes, and has not been seen in public for some time."

I can't help but detect a little schadenfreude in that line...

If You're Going to Read One Article Written by a Conservative Writer Today, Read Matthew Continetti

Here:

Somehow Republicans and conservatives have gotten the idea that, if only Bush hadn't approved all those big spending bills, things would have worked out splendidly. The argument goes something like this: Bush betrayed conservatives with No Child Left Behind, reauthorizing farm subsidies, expanding Medicare, and turning a blind eye to pork-barrel spending. Big spending policies hurt GOP credibility with the public. Since voters couldn't spot the difference between Republicans and Democrats, they opted for the real party of government. Hence the constant refrain you hear in conservative circles about the GOP needing to "return to its roots" and oppose the welfare state on principle. That will boost conservative turnout, reestablish confidence in the Republican party, and get us back to the glory days.

Sorry, folks. The lesson of the last eight years is not that Americans want a smaller government. It's that Americans recoil at what appears to be an incompetently run government out of touch with the major challenges of the day. Your average voter doesn't mind government action if he deems it necessary to pursue a public good like national defense or supporting retirees. He votes for the party that has the most compelling program for the future, not the one simply trying to stand athwart it.

Is This the "Best" Worst Music Video of All Time?

Wow ... just ... wow:

Murder Mystery of the Year

Was Tycho Brahe killed by a hit man?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mary Lazich Still Wants to Raise Your Taxes

A week ago we noted that state senator Mary Lazich wanted to introduce a bill that would create a Silver Alert system here in Wisconsin. At the time we thought this was odd because Lazich, who has a history of talking tough when it comes cutting taxes, was introducing a program that was going to cost money, money that was presumably going to come from the tax payers of Wisconsin.

We feel no differently today.

This weekend Lazich's back with more craven pandering to the elderly voters of her district with a pull-on-your-heartstrings post on what a great idea the Silver Alert program would be, but there still no mention on how much it would cost or where the money would come from. We find this particularly insulting since Lazich posted, not one, but two taxes-are-going-to-get-out-of-control posts on Wednesday. Here's a snipette of her glossing over a piece from the Washington Times:
The newspaper has a quote to remember from political strategist Trent Duffy: "Most reporters are covering the state budgets and thinking 'Oh, the poor states,' and no one is looking at this from the perspective of the taxpayers who are the ones whose wallets are going to be on the line."

How true.
True, indeed. More so since Lazich herself seems to be just one of those legislators not looking out for tax payers, or at least doing so only in a manner that suits her fancy.

Let's get this straight: this isn't about old people or Alzheimer's -- this is about holding a public official accountable to her rhetoric. At the beginning of the year, Lazich said in no uncertain terms that "more taxes are not the solution." In the same post she wrote, "The way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending."

But here she is proposing more state spending.

So let's have Lazich answer a few questions for us:
  • How much will a Silver Alert Program in Wisconsin cost?
  • Where will the money come from?
  • Why is now a good time to spend this money given the current budget deficit?
I don't think these are unreasonable questions and apparently I might not be alone.

Kevin Fischer: As Lazy as He is Oblivious

There's a hysterical post up at Franklin's very own original King of Comedy this morning on the cost of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's recent lawsuit against the state GAB. Quoth Fischer:
Good for the Attorney General who informed mega liberals Miller and Pocan the cost of his lawsuit was $155.
Except there's a slight problem here: there's no possible way the lawsuit only cost the state $155. Remember, Van Hollen was suing -- wait for it -- the state of Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board. Had Fisher done a Google search his homework, he would have discovered that the GAB had to activate a special council at the cost of $175 an hour.

Now, the GAB spent $43,049 to defend itself. If we're to take Fischer and Van Hollen at their words and accept that DOJ spent only $155 dollars on this law suit, then the total cost to the state is $43,204, which is roughly 278 times what Van Hollen claims the total cost to be.

If that's the case, why even bother filing the lawsuit if it wasn't going to be taken seriously? If you're only going to spend roughly an hour on the case, why bother getting all worked up about it in the first place?

Either Van Hollen is a grossly incompitent allocator of resources or, which is more likely, he's being a bit disingenuous.

DOJ probably spent $155 on post-its and legal pads and used salaried attorneys already on the pay role, and while that may be convenient for a little accounting black magic it still means that these attorneys could have been working on other projects. So perhaps Pocan and Miller should ask a more specific question: what was the total cost to the DOJ in terms of lost manhours spent on working on the GAB lawsuit?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Get Your Scott Walker Bumper Stickers Here!

GOPgal has some bumper sticker, um, ideas for Scott Walker's impending march to the Governor's mansion. Anyway, the Walker campaign can feel free to also use these as they see fit:







Thursday, January 15, 2009

Not That There's Anything Historic About This Inauguration...

Take it away, Wisconsin's foremost Michelle Malkin impersonator:
If John McCain was going to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on January 20, I guarantee MPS would not be holding a special board meeting to determine how to observe the event.

If McCain had won the election, Sarah Palin would be the first woman to hold the office of vice president of the United States. That would be a truly historic moment, an American woman a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Why of course it would be historic. So would --

Oh, there's just no point even bothering any more...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fischer to Walker: If You're Looking to Hire a Guy to Blow Smoke Up Your Ass, Then I'm Your Man!

What else could explain Fischer spastically throwing up three posts in about an hour slurping Scott Walker's decision to roll over on potential federal bailout funds?
Watch my blog and others in the days and weeks ahead for news about why Scott Walker deserves our strong support for his defense of the beleaguered taxpayers on Milwaukee County.
He'll be here all week, folks. Don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Line of the Day

From Deadspin:
I cannot think of a better way to honor Tim Tebow and the national champion Gators than with an interpretive pole dance.
I actually watched the entire 4:00 minute routine and found myself thinking the same thought over and over: what landlord would let someone install a load-bearing stripper pole in her apartment?

Rocky Top Blowback (Part II)

Cole's got video from yesterday's throwdown in Nashville:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Smart Move

Obama has dinner with Mssrs. Kristol, Brooks and Will. Marc Ambinder explains why in no uncertain terms:
Again -- establishment opinion matters to the Obama communications team.
Why does it matter? Because if it didn't matter to them, they might turn into this shit show.

MORE: This is not a drill, people!
This is for real, folks. The bloggers are going to love this one.
I guess I'm living proof of that. Sully sees little cause for lefty alarm.

MORE STILL: Behold, the timely and adorable animal YouTube video which could perhaps serve as a metaphor for this evening's dinner party (or Par-tay!):



[via Radar]

I Really Don't Think this Post Needs a Title at All

Via Gawker:

Rocky Top Blowback (or, If You Thought Harry Reid Got Punked this Week, You're in for a Treat)

Remember when Jeff Wood got his committee chairmanship for being a turncoat a few months ago? Owen declared that Wood lacked integrity (but the guy did have weed) and several others weren't happy either. I'd love to see the reaction if this happened in Wisconsin:

In an extraordinary move in the opening session of the state legislature this afternoon, Republican Kent Williams won speakership of the House, beating veteran Democrat Jimmy Naifeh and Republican leader Jason Mumpower, who was widely expected to get the post.

[...]

The election of Williams was what Democrats called the “nuclear option:” electing a Republican who was friendly to Democrats, creating coalitions between the parties. As recently as Monday, Mumpower had dismissed such talk, saying that Republicans were united.

[...]

As the vote took place, the House chamber at moments erupted into near bedlam, with spectators raining down boos, hisses and angry shouts, all of which was quickly quieted when Naifeh threatened to have unruly audience members removed from the chamber.

Williams has been administered the oath of office, and speaking from the well, says "it's time to end the infighting and the bickering." Boos came from the gallery.

Republicans appeared shaken in the aftermath of the vote, and sat in stunned, stony-faced silence. During a recess preceding the vote for the number two speaker pro tem, Assistant Leader Glen Casada expressed his displeasure.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you open up a legislative session!

More background (and editorializing) from John Cole.

MORE: Wow, this is just a classic punking in every regard:
Republicans finally got a Speaker of the House, but not the one they wanted on Tuesday afternoon. Republican Kent Williams of Carter County voted for himself and got the support of all 49 Democrats to hold off Rep. Mumpower, who was the expected choice.

Republicans booed as the votes were tallied and they realized that Democrats, under former long time House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, had engineered the surprise maneuver.

All 50 Republicans, including Rep. Williams, had signed a pledge agreeing to vote for a Republican for House Speaker.

Some GOP members called Rep. Williams a "liar" and other epithets.

(emphasis added)
Well, he did vote for a Republican ... just not the one every other Republican voted for.

Making matters worse, this deal was months in the making and just 30 minutes in the execution:
The plot was hatched over coffee during the Thanksgiving weekend. House Democratic leader Gary Odom went to Elizabethton to meet Kent Williams at a restaurant. Out of the blue, Odom asked Williams how he'd like to be the speaker of the House.

"I think his first reaction was he thought I was joking because he knew Speaker Naifeh was working diligently to find the 50th vote," Odom told reporters a few minutes ago. "We were looking for an alternative in case it became necessary, and it became necessary."

That didn't happen, though, until 5 o'clock last night when Naifeh finally gave up on his own hopes and went to Williams to seal their deal. When the session started today, many Democrats weren't even aware of what was about to happen, Naifeh said. That's why Democrats moved for a 30-minute recess, to give themselves time to brief the party's members. (The wily Odom told the House he wanted the recess to give everyone time to take pictures with families in attendance on opening day.) Freshman Republican Terri Lynn Weaver, a gospel singer and apparently not the sharpest knife, unwittingly played into Naifeh's hands when she pushed the wrong button and mistakenly voted with the Democrats to allow the recess.
Oh, what might have been!
The R’s had promised bans on gay adoption and fostering, new concealed weapons laws, new constitutional limits on abortion, new anti-immigrant legislation, and mandating the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools. Because the Tennessee House operates under a strict committee system and the Speaker appoints all committee chairs, though, it is unclear whether Republicans will be able to get any of these measures to the floor of the House. In addition, the re-election prospects for the long-serving and widely-respected Comptroller and Treasurer (both Democrats) is now much more promising; the General Assembly votes for these constitutional offices tomorrow.
MORE STILL: Oh, no -- here's an interview, conducted yesterday, with the dud who totally thought he was going to go to bed tonight the Speaker of the Tennessee Assembly sounding almost like he's reading off cue cards written by Mike Huebsch.

And here's reaction from a pissed off state GOP chair:

“Kent Williams has betrayed his constituents and the people of Carter County in breaking his pledge — his signed oath — to vote for the nominee of the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House,” says Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith.

“He lied, in a quest for personal power, in league with Democrat Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and House Minority Leader Gary Odom, in their desire to retain power despite the results of the 2008 elections.”

EVEN MORE: Williams apparently knows he's a dead man:

Williams acknowledged on the floor that he likely now will be kicked out of the Republican party, though he promised to run the House in a bipartisan manner.

And, sure enough, he's not long for the GOP's world:

A GOP move to strip Williams of his status as a Republican began tonight when 18 members of the party's State Executive Committee presented to Chairman Robin Smith a petition challenging his status.

That action triggers a review under party bylaws that Smith said would move swiftly.

The Republicans charged that Williams broke a signed oath to vote for the House Republican Caucus nominee for Speaker, Rep. Jason Mumpower. However, the letter signed by Williams and the 49 other House Republicans pledges only to support "a Republican" for speaker, not the caucus nominee.

And here's a lovely detail:

Republican spectators in the gallery erupted in loud boos when the vote was announced.

They booed him again when he took the podium, and someone shouted “traitor” as he pledged to be bipartisan. Republican representatives on the floor remained stony-faced.

In the aftermath of the booing, two state troopers entered the chamber and stood on both sides of the speaker’s podium.

Here's an interesting nugget of on-the-scene reporting from the statehouse just before the vote:

Friends and family of Republican lawmakers crammed into the House chamber well before the session was set to convene at noon, while more subdued Democrats didn't filter in until the last minute.

I guess we know know why the Dems were a little late to the party...

Actually, here's a bit of pre-reporting that ran this morning:

As the 106th General Assembly convenes at noon today, there will be the customary backslaps and handshakes, as well as the stories and pranks, that accompany the giddy start of every legislative session.

Not so much after all, it would seem...

Here's an interview with the Tennessee GOP Lt. Gov./Speaker of the Seante (or however the hell they do things down there) counting chickens before they have hatched.

And last, but certainly not least, here's some more color from the Nashville Post:

Democrats pulled the old switcheroo and put Williams into office to cries of "traitor" from some members of the Republican caucus. Williams had been considered a target for a Democratic vote but had maintained all along that he would vote for a Republican. In the end, he did, voting for himself.

Williams took to the well and said he understood why he was being booed and asked all to hear him out. He acknowledged in his address that he would likely lose his next election, but then said, "Today is the day that ends the reign of a great speaker, Jimmy Naifeh. Today, I realize the disappointment and hurt of a lot members, especially our leader Jason Mumpower."

But here's the best part: Blame the freshman!

Today's drama began when Democratic Leader Gary Odom motioned for a 30-minute recess after members were sworn in, to which Mumpower vehemently objected. As Speaker of the 105th General Assembly, Naifeh still presided and quickly gaveled for the recess.

Mumpower then called for a vote, which he lost when freshman Republican State Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver of Lancaster voted with Democrats. As the vote was made official, Republicans could be heard shouting for her to change her vote, which she did not do in time.

Republican legislators claimed after the vote that she had hit the wrong button. Nevertheless, it was an inauspicious beginning to her legislative career and the new Republican majority.

I really could just rip the whole story off it's so good -- instead, why don't you just go there yourself and soak in the glory which is this masterwork. If you need any more incentive, here's the graphic the editor decides to run alongside the story:

Awesome.

Very Clever



[here via Wooster]

Why We Need More Czars in this Country

The short answer: irony.

The example that explains the short answer: the Scottish Knife Czar is one Alfred Hitchcock.

Ricky Henderson

All-time MLB leader in steals and the best lead-off hitter of all time was a sports reporter's wet dream. My favorite:
4) In 1996, Henderson’s first season with San Diego, he boarded the team bus and was looking for a seat. Steve Finley said, “You have tenure, sit wherever you want.” Henderson looked at Finley and said, “Ten years? Ricky’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.”
See #2 for more background.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe the Corres -- Oh, Screw It, Let's Just Get to the Dirision

Spare me:

Stephen Crane, the novelist and journalist best known for the Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, covered the brief Greco-Turkish War and the Spanish-American War, somehow completing his assignments without graduating from a string of colleges. Somehow Crane muddled by, despite not possessing a great deal of historical knowledge, military insight, or specific expertise about either the conflicts he was paid to cover or those fighting in them. Perhaps he was just lucky these were short wars. Ernie Pyle worked on a much longer and wider stage than Crane, and was known for his folksy, down-home stories of regular people serving in World War II. Pyle didn’t complete his degree at Indiana University, but he didn’t let that stop him from getting syndicated by more than 300 newspapers. He picked up a Pulitzer on his way to becoming the most famous war correspondent in American media history.

Joe the Plumber = Stephen Crane?

At least there's a shocking admission of negligence on PJTV's part later in the piece:
I’m not expecting Pyle’s humanizing folksiness, nor Yon’s gritty incisiveness, nor Crane’s vivid imagery from Wurzelbacher. I don’t know if he can craft a coherent sentence or conduct an revealing interview. And perhaps he’ll be an absolute disaster as a journalist, even as he’s created a PR explosion for PJTV.

(emphasis added)
At least PJTV admits this particular fiasco is a publicity stunt. Now, how its readers are supposed to expect anything else from what they consume at PJTV isn't a stunt is their problem.

[via TNR]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who Else Wants Out?

A 4th GOP Senator will not be seeking re-election in 2010.

I think a blood-letting process that takes the GOP four years and three election cycles (conveniently spanning a period of time during which a census is taken and legislative districts are re-drawn) is pretty strong evidence of a generational paradigm shift in political opinion.

Pity Party -- Palin Style

David Frum on Sarah Palin's train wreck of an interview with the odious John Ziegler:

Again and again, Ziegler invited Palin to engage in self-pity and self-excuse - and again and again she accepted.

She tells us she was a victim of sexism. She tells us she was a victim of class prejudice. She complains about her media treatment - then insists she never watched any of it. She deplores the unpleasant personal comments directed against herself, while offering up some equally unpleasant personal comments of her own. She repeatedly shades the truth in order to escape blame for her own mistakes. (She won't for example let go of our claim that there was some insult to Alaska embedded in Katie Couric's simple question: "What do you read?")

A smart politician rebuffs all invitations to speak about his or her own hurt feelings. It's not just that such talk sounds whiny and weak, although it does. Much more seriously, such talk betrays a self-involvement that alienates voters almost more than any other personal quality. Through the 2008 election, Barack Obama repeatedly said "It's not about me. It's about you." Exactly so! But Palin's replies to Ziegler make clear that for her, the election was about her. The next election will be even more so, because she has collected so many more grievances along the way.

[via John Cole]

You've Got King Kong Balls (There, Happy Now?)

If you manage to sift through Mary Lazich's receptionist's sorry parsing of his own sloppy writing, then get through his wanktacular "media analysis," there's a throw-away line that ends Fischer's MJS Scorecard post that is well worth noting:
Could we be making a difference already?
Judging by the "balance" Fischer seems to find this week, one would assume the author believes the answer to this question is yes -- and as that simple little word rattled around in my head upon reading that line, it hit me: Fischer has not only rigged his shoddy experiment to conform to conditions that are greatly in his favor, but he has also rigged the conclusions as well.

If after a year (or however long he expects this charade to go on) he finds that the MJS has printed more liberal viewpoints in the Crossroads than conservative sections, Fischer has earned the right to claim that the paper is in the bag for the Left. But if he happens to discover that there actually is a fairly even split in opinion, he gets to say that because of his ongoing efforts to monitor the press, the MJS was forced to make conservative voices heard. Thanks to him, of course.

It's not about media bias. It's about self-aggrandizement.

Bravo, you evil genius. Brav-fricking-o.

So let's all just take a moment and concede this fight to Fischer. Sir, you've won. We are clearly all inferior to the Socratic wonder which is logical acumen. We are powerless in the presence of your intellect. You may now return to answering the phone in Senator Lazich's office.

By the way, does any one else find it at all creepy that a political appointee is trying to manipulate and/or influence the editorial content of a newspaper? Aren't there just a few "freedom of the press" issues that spring up here?

Now that's how you end a blog post with a rhetorical question.

Neil Patrick Harris

Looks like the William Shatner analogy has got legs.

Everything About this Video is Sheer Madness


wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Become Aware of All Internet Traditions

Very cool:


History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

[via Barry Ritholtz]

Blinding You with Science

8:30 a.m. -- Continental breakfast

9:30 a.m. -- Dr. Frankenstein on his recent translation of Luigi Galvani's "De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius"

11:00 a.m. -- Breakout session with Dr. Strangelove on atomic timekeeping.

12:00 p.m. -- Lunch

1:00 p.m. -- Dr. Jekyll on Freud's theory of split personalities.

2:00 p.m. -- Dr. Moreau on Darwin's Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle.

3:30 p.m. -- Q & A with Dr. No on laboratory management.

5:00 p.m. -- Dr. Faust on the role of religion in science.

6:00 p.m. -- Dr. Horrible on proper freeze ray maintenance.

7:30 a.m. -- Reception

Mary Lazich Wants to Raise Your Taxes

Mary Lazich, the high priest of no taxes, has a post up this morning on how she plans to introduce a "Silver Alert" bill this legislative session. (I'll let the link explain what that means.)

Where's she plan on getting the money to do that?

Maybe when she makes her appearance on Fox 6 Morning News this Monday one of the intrepid journalists will ask her?

First, let's make something perfectly clear: any program introduced by a legislator -- no matter how well-meaning, how virtuous, how essential to the public good -- costs money. Let's assume this Silver Alert program cost just as much to implement as the Amber Alert program ... that's going to cost money. Mary Lazich has made perfectly clear over the course of her blog that any increase in government spending is too much. Here's what she had to say in the post just before she introduced the Silver Alert:

Ultimately, the Legislature approved and Governor Doyle signed into law a budget that increased taxes and fees by $763 million. I voted against the budget because it taxes and spends beyond the rate of inflation. In order to lower taxes in Wisconsin, one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, there must be reduced spending. The 2007-09 budget expanded an already bloated state government. We can’t afford the same mistake in the 2009-11 state budget.

(emphasis added)

So it basically took Lazich five days to entirely capitulate her hard line on no more government spending and start to bloat state government. Look on the bright side: there are only two more years left in the session.

The Go Team, "Huddle Formation"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ted Kanavas: "Fuck You"

Kilkenny deserves some credit for pointing this monstrosity of a web site out. Go to her for the story. Then come back for the screen shots!

This is the single most insulting use of a web site I've seen from a public official in Wisconsin ever. It makes the the "Minneapolis" error on the GAB web site look comparatively quaint. It's atrocious, plain and simple.

If you haven't gotten the details from Kilkenny by now, well here they are: When someone goes to State Sen. Ted Kanavas' private web site the user must go through a series of prompts before getting to the actual home page. This is the internet equivalent of asking for directions from some dipshit at a Renaissance fair who will only help if you "first answer these riddles three."

Here are the riddles four Kanavas drops on his users. Notice how there is absolutely no middle ground between the options:


Then:Then:

Then:

Got that? In case you didn't pick up on what the secret handshake is to get into this exclusive club, the "correct" answer to each of these questions is B. If you "correctly" answer B to each of these questions, you win the honor of entering the web site of The Kanavas. But, if you slip up and maybe think Wisconsin has a, perhaps, better than "horrible" business climate and maybe answer A to that question (or any of the four) than you are immediately answered with this screen:

No. Fucking. Joke.

Brainwashed? That's simply phenomenal ... and the fact that the site immediately leads you to the state web site is an even better touch. Kanavas is essentially saying that if you don't agree with me, I don't even want to bother with you.

It's obviously amateur hour over at Kanavas HQ. I'd suggest firing the dick who suggested Kanavas go this route, but at the end of the day it was the Senator himself who signed off on this bullshit. It's a huge "fuck you" to users of the site and says a lot about the person for whom the site is made.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bad Signs


The estimated resale value of the White House (were it ever to be put on the market) depreciated by $23 million during the last year.

Why is Sykes' Threshold for Proof so Low?

I love this type of thing:

Charlie Sykes cites one academic econ paper that argues the action FDR took to stave off the Depression actually made it worse and suddenly 50+ years of historical consensus is null and void.

Just one. That's all it apparently takes to convince Sykes.

He, perhaps mercifully, doesn't even bother to offer Amity Shales' contribution to Cole and Ohanian's argument -- likely because at the moment it's just that, an argument contrary to popular consensus ... and one that has yet to take the economic world by storm (and here and here).

If that's all it takes to convince Sykes, then this paper should close the case on anthropogenic climate change...

And this one should make clear that contraception reduces abortions...

And here's another one that does much to validate Darwinian evolution.

Now that the petty and divisive questions in the world have been solved can we move on to the really important stuff like if being admired by John Tesh is something one should brag about or not?

Kevin Fischer Loathes the Packers

He must.

After all, if Fischer's world is so small that even a person's choice of football team is dictated by his or her political leanings, then surely he must despise the socialists that don the green and gold at Lambeau Field on Sundays.

A Little Help, Please?

Does anyone have any idea what to make of this?

Last night Mary Lazich -- on yet another of her anti-tax pity parties -- unloaded this list on her readers. It's the counties with the highest property taxes in the state. Here they are:
1) Dane County $3,977
2) Ozaukee County $3,924
3) Waukesha County $3,864
4) Milwaukee County $3,544
5) Pierce County $3,395
6) Washington County $3,372
7) Kenosha County $3,363
8) St. Croix County $3,245
9) Racine County $3,101
10) Walworth County $3,013
I find this list absolutely fascinating. On the one hand, these are primarily urban, suburban and exurban counties with larger populations and, consequently, more demands on government services. But several of these counties -- specifically the collar communities around Milwaukee -- are the very epicenter of the anti-tax movement in Wisconsin. Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington are some of the "reddest" counties in the state (and St. Croix is right behind them according to some Republicans) ...

Now, I ask this question free of any snark and out of a genuine desire to rememdy my ignorance of the local politics of these areas -- but what gives? Why do areas that have such vocal disposition against taxes have some of the highest property taxes -- the tax that is actually controled locally -- in the state?

My thanks in advance.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Balls

I got nothing today, this will have to do:

Ouch

Fail.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lake Michigan's Stonehenge

This is fascinating:

That's, Like, Soooo Four Months Ago!

No, really, what you are blogging about is extremely out-dated ...

I've noticed that Steve T at Right View Wisconsin has a propensity to blog about things that have happened a long time ago. I'm not talking about things that happened like a week or even two weeks ago, but things that happened months ago ... and as if they happened yesterday.

Take today's offering for example. Clearly dated January 6th, 2009, Steve gets his knickers in a twist over something that happened in August. And it's not like he's complaining about something that has a whole ton of relevance to anything going on today, but instead he's whining about something that maybe -- maybe -- lasted a whole news cycle.

Madonna has outraged Republicans by comparing John McCain to Hitler and Mugabe during a concert in Cardiff. Pictures of the presidential candidate were put on screen next to images of the two less than well regarded leaders during a song.

"The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive... It clear shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attacks off limits," said McCain's spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Ahhh, isn't that cute? It's like the campaign never ended ... two months ago.

But to make things stranger, the second piece of evidence he brings up to defend his thesis -- that Liberals can get away with making comparisons to Hitler (yawn...) -- is also from August of last year.

Odd. Though Steve T does have a habit of posting sheer nonsense that appears a propos of nothing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Principled Stands

This is not exactly what I would consider someone going to great lengths to protest a grave injustice:

The Drudge Report reports that NBC, at the last minute, pulled Ann Coulter from her scheduled appearance on tomorrow’s “Today” show in favor of Perez Hilton (he of the $1,000-to-pie-Coulter offer) and banned her “for life” from the NBC family of networks. In response, I am banning all future positive or neutral references to NBC, CNBC, MSNBC (both the website and the channel), The Weather Channel, USA, Sci-Fi, Bravo, Telemundo or any other entity NBC is involved with. They can choke on The Championship Game That Cannot Be Named™ and the Olympics. In short, FUCK THEM!

You go, Steve! Way to give them a piece of your mind! Not watching NBC ever again was apparently to much of a sacrifice (Whatever would he do without "the Biggest Loser" and "Deal or No Deal"?) and writing letters to sponsors who buy advertising is too time consuming, so Steve did the least he could do -- no, really, the absolute least he could possibly do: not say anything nice about Vivendi Universal television channels ever again on a blog that no one in the TV business reads.

Fight the power, Steve. Fight the power.

Watching Mary Lazich's Receptionist Rig His Own Game is Kinda Sad

Kevin Fischer, always willing to put in the hard work to hear the sound of his own voice prove a point, is out to try and prove that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a bastion of leftist propaganda. Fair enough, if Fischer operated under the precepts of the scientific method, this would be called the hypothesis ... now let's move on to the experiment!

The problem is that the experiment Fischer has set up is so laughably rigged to essentially prove whatever nonsense he feels like spouting at any given moment. Instead of going over the MJS with a fine-toothed comb on a regular basis, Fischer decides to arbitrarily pluck a sample from the paper's editorial content for scrutiny. Here are the ground rules he establishes for his little exercise:

*** He will only examine the Sunday "Crossroads" section of the MJS. Quoth the Fischer: "What about Monday through Saturday? Sorry. I’m going to concentrate on the Sunday pages. If others want to take on the task of monitoring the other days, God bless them."

This seems less than thorough to me. Could it be that the 'balance' of the MJS is spread out over the week? If it is, Fischer would presumably never know because he's only looking at one day of the week. In fact, if Monday through Saturday the MJS printed nothing but right wing vitriol, while reserving the Sunday edition for effete leftists, the paper would still be considered "liberal" by Fischer's estimation.

So there appears to be a massive coverage gap in the sample Fischer has selected ... but Fisher seems to think that his sample size is still too big! So he cuts it further:

*** Secondly, Fischer "will not count pieces by Journal Sentinel columnists or Journal Sentinel editorial writers, short Quick Hits or Advisory Hits."

This is interesting because it presumably exempts conservative columnists like Patrick McIlheran, Nike Nichols or the guy he calls his "top guest blogger," J. Gravelle (How convenient!).

Fischer isn't studying if the MJS is biased, he's looking to see if a particular section of the paper that appears on only one day of the week skews one way or the other and basing his entire judgment on the result of that analysis.

Why isn't he looking deeper into the paper? "I have a life," he says. Fair enough, but if Fischer isn't going to put in the work to make a genuine good faith assessment of the paper, then no one should accept his results as anything other than the shoddy workmanship of someone who is contorting the rules of the game to clearly manipulate the results in his favor.

This is called cherry-picking.

Now "Kevin Fischer the blogger" is welcome to engage in as many logical fallacies as he sees fit to embarrass himself with; unfortunately, Fischer is also "Kevin Fischer the State Senate Staffer" and therein lies what transforms this episode from simply embarrassing to troubling. If this is the kind of tortured reasoning a public official is relying on to make decisions than how can anyone be confident that said public official is receiving good counsel?

One can't.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Perhap Lazich's office is actually breaking new ground in the field of government transparency by demonstrating just how incompitent her staffers are? If that's the case, then I say "Bravo!" But what's more likely is that Fischer is only interested in arguing with evidence that supports his original claim, no matter how dubious the source of that evidence may be. It's like watching a kid change the rules in the middle of the game to ensure that he wins -- it's just pathetic that the kid in this case is a middle-aged man.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Freebird!!!

"In this plodding, lethargic remake of the Guess Who hit, Lenny Kravitz sucks all the bounce and air out of Randy Bachman’s classic riff like a vampire performing cunnilingus on a blow-up doll."