Badgers and Packers and Brewers and Bucks — oh my!

Can we get all of Wisconsin’s major sports teams (even the Bucks) into one blog? Yes we can!

First: The New York Times plays Fun with Maps:

Twice so far at the Upshot, we’ve published maps showing where fan support for one team begins and another ends — once for baseball and once for basketball. Now we’re pleased to offer another one: the United States according to college football fans.

Unlike professional sports, the college game is much more provincial, with scrappy regional programs dominating their corners of the country. Texas and Oregon are two of the most popular teams, but together they account for only 25 percent of territory in the lower 48 states. There is no team with a level of national support that approaches that of, say, the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox or the Los Angeles Lakers. …

All told, 84 programs can reasonably claim to be the most popular college football team somewhere in the United States.

Like the other sets of maps, these were created using estimates of team support based on each team’s share of Facebook “likes” in a ZIP code. We then applied an algorithm to deal with statistical noise and fill in gaps where data was missing. Facebook “likes” are an imperfect measure, but as we’ve noted before, Facebook likes show broadly similar patterns to polls.

The most consistently loyal fans in America live in Wisconsin. More than 87 percent of fans in some Wisconsin ZIP codes support the Badgers, a level that isn’t reached anywhere else, our estimates show. That’s why the red in the map is so dark. Though the numbers aren’t nearly so high elsewhere, Wisconsin territory also stretches into Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.

Minnesota has won 57 games and lost 56 in its long-running battle with Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but you wouldn’t know it from the map. Wisconsin, which recently went to three straight Rose Bowls, more than holds its own in its state and wins in some counties in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities; it even wins in the home ZIP code of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium (also the temporary home of the N.F.L.’s Vikings). Bucky rules.

Much of this, of course, has to do with the presence of only one Division I football team in the state, as in Nebraska. There is no Wisconsin State (except in the pages of the novel Gotcha Down) to pull off fans from Wisconsin. (Though it would be nice for Marquette, or UW–Milwaukee, or UW–Green Bay to have football.) However, Badger fans deserve credit for sticking with Bucky despite decades of bad football and basketball in the 1970s and 1980s. And it’s also good to see inroads outside the state lines given the annoyance of, when I came to Southwest Wisconsin in 1988, Iowa fans in Wisconsin. (One Iowa fan in Wisconsin is one too many.)

On to the real America’s Team. The NFL Spin Zone ranked all 32 NFL teams by historic greatness (or lack thereof), and guess who won?

1. Green Bay Packers: 714 Points

Established 1921 – There is something poetic about the team from the smallest market in the NFL being atop this list. It’s an ode of sorts to the founding of the NFL; which was comprised of numerous small market teams. Canton, OH., Muncie, IN., Duluth, MN., Rock Island, IL., Kenosha, WI., all had franchises early on, too. How did the Green Bay Packers, who are owned by the fans, not only remain but make it to the top of this list as, statistically, the greatest franchise in NFL history? Well, they have had numerous periods of greatness (aka success), including their dynasty of the 1960s — which some consider the NFL’s first real dynasty. Prior to that they won a league-high nine World Championships and have won four total Super Bowl Trophies (a trophy named after their legendary coach Vince Lombardi). Their 13 NFL Championships are the most all-time. They have the second-most Hall of Fame inductees (22) and have made the playoffs 29 times. Their seven AP MVP awards do not hurt their point total either. Green Bay’s combination of ancient, modern, and current success has landed it atop this list. And they’re current roster, led by Aaron Rodgers, shows no signs of slowing down.

As everyone knows, the NFL starts and ends at the quarterback position. And the Packers’ collection of top-tier quarterbacks, namely Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, is second to none. They are, or should I say will be, the only franchise with three Hall of Fame, Super Bowl winning, AP MVP quarterbacks. And don’t forget about Arnie Herber, a Packers quarterback from the 1930s who has a bust in Canton, too. Green Bay may not be your favorite franchise in the NFL, but there is no doubting it’s place among the NFL’s elite. Not to mention, it’s the oldest franchise to stay in one location. And that location is Titletown USA, home of Earl “Curly” Lambeau and the historic stadium built in his name. You hear that Titletown natives? It’s time to add another title to your resume as: The Greatest Franchise In NFL History…for now.

Icons: Vince Lombardi, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Brett Favre

Which makes, incidentally, Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and Pittsburgh (ranked third, and listed as the greatest NFL team in the Super Bowl era) the greatest Super Bowl ever — two iconic franchises, both of which ownership harkens back to a simpler era. (The Packers are of course community owned, and I of course am an owner, while Art Rooney purchased the Steelers with racetrack winnings.)

On to the disappointment of the year, the Brewers, for which Rant Sports has roster suggestions:

Entering the 2015 season, much of the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster will be the same, but they are not a team without needs. The Brewers may target bats at both corner infield positions and veteran arms in the bullpen. …

4. Pablo Sandoval

With players like Kyle Lohse, Zack Greinke and Matt Garza, Doug Melvin surprised Brewers fans. If Aramis Ramirez isn’t brought back, he could surprise again with a player like Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval would not only give the Brewers a powerful lefty bat that they lack, but he also plays solid defense at third base.

3. Michael Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer would solve a lot of problems for the Brewers at first base. While he is not a great defender, the 2013 NL batting champion hits for average and power. There are concerns about his durability, but his cheap and powerful bat would look great in Milwaukee. …

1. Adam LaRoche

If the Brewers want a left-handed bat at first, Adam Laroche is the best option. He is a weapon on offense who draws walks and gets on base, and has been a Gold Glove defender. If they were to sign LaRoche, they may finally have player who can hold his own replacing Prince Fielder.

The other two are free agents from the Brewers — closer Francisco Rodriguez and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Each was one of general manager Doug Melvin’s better acquisitions. Rodriguez pitched pretty well this season, and Ramirez played about as well as Sandoval did for the Giants. The problem with Ramirez is his age, though that’s the same issue with Cuddyer and LaRoche. Sandoval is probably going to want more money than the Brewers are interested in paying.

Getting LaRoche would be great if for no other reason than his father — former Yankees pitcher Dave LaRoche, of the LaLob pitch:

(The clip shows Gorman Thomas striking out in a game the Brewers did win. One year later, Thomas got a base hit off LaRoche, and after going to first base proceeded to give a raspberry to the Yankees bench, which broke up.)

That blog demonstrates the Brewers’ player development weaknesses under Melvin. Developing pitching has been a problem for the entire history of the franchise, as you know, and the Brewers’ finances means the Brewers have to find someone who is affordable, which means players who are damaged goods for one reason or another. Fielder was a home-grown produce who the Brewers have never been able to replace.

I hate to end on a downer, but the last franchise on our list, the Bucks, may not be long for Milwaukee if you believe Business Insider:

In May, the NBA approved the sale of the Bucks to new owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for a then-NBA record $550 million.

Shortly after the sale, Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of learned that as part of the agreement, the NBA had the right to buy back the team for $575 million if a new arena was not approved, built, and ready to use by November, 2017.

This did not seem like that big of a deal at the time because there was time to build the arena and there would have been little to gain for the NBA by purchasing the franchise.

But then the Donald Sterling fiasco in Los Angeles happened and Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2 billion. Now, five months later, the Bucks still don’t even have a location for a new stadium and the Bucks are worth a lot more than $575 million. …

If the Bucks can’t get a new stadium built before the deadline, the NBA could buy the team for $575 million and then turn around and sell the team to a group in Seattle for an estimated $1.6 billion. …

It would also solve the problem of putting an NBA team back in Seattle, something the NBA has made a priority in recent years.

An alternative theory proposed by [ESPN blowhard Bill] Simmons is that the NBA could agree to not buy the team if the new Bucks owners agree to not build a new arena and pony up some more money — presumably a transfer fee of a few hundred million — and they would be able to remain owners by moving the team to Seattle.

Instead of investing $550 million for a team in Milwaukee, Edens and Lasry would then have invested maybe $900 million for a team in Seattle that may be worth closer to $1.6 billion.

That’s still a pretty good deal and everybody wins. Well, except for the Bucks fans in Milwaukee.

This theory, however, is blown up by the one comment on this story:

I find the notion that because Steve Ballmer overpaid for the Clips, that Bucks are worth 1.6 billion to be laughable.

There is another problem with Simmons’ conspiracy theory. The NBA could add to its coffers by simply adding two teams, to go from 30 to 32 teams. Seattle is an obvious expansion possibility, but so is Kansas City. So is Louisville. There are also other franchises at least as likely to move as the Bucks, namely Ballmer’s Clippers, Sacramento and New Orleans. The fact that the Bucks’ new owners are bringing in local minority owners is a point in the Bucks’ favor, though not an insurmountable obstacle to a move.

Some would argue the NBA shouldn’t expand, but should relocate the aforementioned weak franchises for on-court competitive reasons. (The Clippers are apparently the NBA’s answer to the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/TBA Raiders, having started life as the Buffalo Braves before moving to San Diego and then L.A. New Orleans used to have the Jazz before the Pelicans moved from Charlotte. Sacramento could move and yet still stay in California, to, for instance, San Jose or Anaheim.) The NBA being a business, however, adding two teams will bring in more money, particularly in an area hungry to get basketball back (Seattle), an area with no winter sports team to follow (Kansas City), or an area with no major pro sports team (Louisville). The NBA could add two teams and still have more areas wanting to get a franchise.

On day number 8,035

Outside the Oakwood Lounge (R.I.P.), Lancaster, Wis., Oct. 24, 1992. Yes, there are two perms in this photo.

Three years ago I wrote this on the occasion of our 19th wedding anniversary.

A few things have changed, like jobs and address. We also have three teenagers in the house, although only one is a chronological teenager. Other than that, you can probably add three years to everything listed in there.

Here’s what has not changed: I still love my wife.


Cool conservatives and conservatarians

If you talk to college students about making conservatism “cool,” as the Daily Signal did, this apparently is what you get:

This past weekend, the Republican National Committee sent its chairman, Reince Priebus, to North Carolina to rally college voters, a demographic historically elusive to the GOP. The hope is the effort could make a difference in the state’s competitive U.S. Senate race.

Some 30 or so college students, most representing NC State, walked across the street to attend a Saturday rally at state party headquarters in Raleigh.

In the interest of getting less-biased data, The Daily Signal spoke later that night to young adults who didn’t attend the rally. …

‘How You Frame the Message’

Matthew Cobb identifies as “very conservative.”

Cobb, a senior political science major from Goldsboro, N.C., labels most college students in his public policy class as “Marxist leftists.”

Yet Cobb has a problem with the Republican Party.

“I feel like most people agree with conservative values, but don’t like the conservative brand,” Cobb says.

Cobb, eating with his hometown friends at the Chipotle on Hillsborough Street—the main artery running through the NC State campus—says Republicans have let Democrats position the GOP as out of touch and uncool to millennial voters.

Larry Sampson, also a senior from Goldsboro, shares his friend’s views.

“It’s a matter of how you frame the message,” Sampson says. “Republicans don’t do enough to combat the negative image. There’s a perception that Republicans are racist, and they just take it. They need to be on the attack more.”

‘Need to Go Out and Argue’

Sampson, who is black, says that for Republicans to control their message, they must be visible on issues and with communities that they normally wouldn’t confront.

He admires the work of Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, who has courted black Americans.

Paul recently met with black leaders in Ferguson, Mo., which dominated headlines over the summer after a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black.

Paul has endorsed an overhaul of the nation’s criminal justice system that he hopes would make it easier for nonviolent criminals to reintegrate into society.

“Republicans are scared of confrontation,” Sampson says. “The only way to change someone’s mind is to say, ‘Look, here is what I am offering.’ Sometimes you just need to go out and argue with people.”

Sampson and his friends say the easiest perception Republicans can control is how “cool” they are.

Justin Walker, a recent college graduate, works as a mechanic. He says being cool has become the biggest selling point for Democrats to young voters.

“A lot of their information is not true, but they are cool,” explains Walker, who identifies as an independent libertarian.

Republicans just need to try harder, Sampson says.

“They need to hire a style guru,” he says. “You see conservatives show up to public events in tri-cornered hats. We get it, we’re conservative. But we need to be the most stylish people at the table.”

‘A Way to Be Pragmatic’

Many of those interviewed come from conservative families that instilled traditional values. But some say Republicans must be flexible on certain issues, to match changes in society.

Same-sex marriage and abortion are the two touchiest subjects for these conservative students.

Court rulings overturning current state laws have made same-sex marriage, at least for now, legal in the majority of states.

“The government should get out of the marriage business,” Sampson says. “If a church lets you get married, that’s the church’s business. With social issues, there’s a way to be pragmatic about it–to make sure everyone is respected.”

Justin Baird, an NC State freshman from Garner, volunteers at GOP events. He comes from a conservative background and says he plans to vote for Tillis “because he matches my views.”

But those views are related to the economy, not social issues.

“I am more concerned with economic issues,” Baird says. “A candidate’s views on social issues wouldn’t impact my vote as much.”

David and Jennifer Curley, siblings from Charlotte, say they vote based on the completeness of a candidate’s conservatism.

“I support conservatives on economic and social issues,” says David Curley, a junior who voted for Mitt Romney for president in 2012 and will support Tillis on Nov. 4.

‘Spending Less Money Is Good’

Just like most Americans, students worry most about what’s closest to home: the economy.

Jerry Jones, a recent college graduate, is the most reserved in the group of friends eating at Chipotle.

He has a degree, but he frets about his job prospects.

“I’m concerned about the economy,” says Jones, who votes independently and is undecided about the Tillis-Hagan race. “There’s too much government regulations and not enough job creation.”

Walker, the independent libertarian and Jones’s friend, says he thinks Republicans fall on the correct side of the economic debate.

Republicans just don’t do a good enough job of communicating their message, Walker says, because they’re too busy playing defense on other issues.

“Republicans need to do a better job of selling the economic aspect to young people,” Walker says. “Because most people in general believe spending less money is good.”

This piece makes one of those skeptical expressions break out over my face. For one thing, college students have the historically worst percentage of voter turnout. Frankly, people in the generation older than them — people with children, homes and retirement investments — aren’t always very happy to live in the same place with helicopter voters, college students who vote in elections and then blow out of town, leaving the mess their votes caused for others to clean up.

The issue that politicians have tried to bring up to get the new-voter vote is the cost of college and student debt. Democrats claim the issue is the fault of not sending enough government money to colleges and students. Republicans claim the problem is the fault of colleges spending too much money, particularly on things that are not really about most people’s understanding of education, such as fancy dormitories and student recreational and athletic facilities. Colleges in turn claim they’re building buildings because they have to to attract new students in an area of a diminishing student-age population.

That issue nicely sums up the liberal-vs.-conservative divide. Liberals say: More money! Conservatives say: Spend less. Which sounds more fun? The liberal point of view, of course, particularly because it involves spending money from somewhere else besides you.

The minimum wage is another issue, since most minimum-wage workers are high school and college students. Everyone wants more money from their employer. Few people think about the implications of raising wages 40 to 100 percent more than an employee is worth to his or her employer, such as 40 to 100 percent higher unemployment among the high school- and college-age population.

This is where someone writing on this subject is obligated to repeat the statement attributed to Winston Churchill that if you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, but if you’re not a conservative when you’re 30 (or 40 depending on your quote provider) you have no brain. Being liberal will always be more fun-sounding than being conservative, until you survey the wreckage of a couple of generations of the liberal mindset bringing us such non-fun things as multiple generations of families on welfare and government sucking the life out of the economy, and as a result your not having the opportunities your parents had.

Back to that “cool” thing: At the risk of equating life with high school, being “cool” isn’t something you can wake up one day and become. A childhood of wanting to be cool, and never being cool, taught me that either you’re cool, or you’re not, and once you’re out of high school no one cares, and should care, about being cool or popular. Except, of course, politicians, whose continued sucking of the tax dollar — I mean, continuing to serve in public office — depends on being more popular then their opponent.

One issue that plagues conservatives in their struggle for coolness is that being a conservative requires frequent use of one word whose letters are found in the word “conservative” — the word “no.” No, you can’t spend more money than you have, or can generate. No, spending more money on something does not make it automatically better. No, giving minimum-wage employees a pay increase they haven’t earned through better work is not going to make the economy better. No, you should not be able to ingest whatever controlled substance you feel like using. No, the world is not a nice place filled with good people who only have good intentions.

This is why in every workplace the least popular employee is the person whose job involves the word “no.” That can be the boss, that can be a person underneath the boss who has the “no” role (I’ve worked for that person), or that can be someone in the business office or who has accounting responsibilities.

Remember Chris Matthews’ observation a decade ago that the Republican Party is the “daddy party” and the Democratic Party is the “mommy party.” Conservatism is about tradition and values of long standing. New things are usually more cool than old, until you realize that new is not necessarily better, and change may be inevitable, but positive change is not.

Parents know that children need limits, though they do not generally want limits. No one likes to be told they cannot do something, or have to do something they don’t want to do. That, however, is reality. It’s hard for me to grasp how that fact is ever going to become popular or cool.

A lot of what attracts people to politics is not the issues, but the person on top. Baby Boomers had John F. Kennedy. My generation had Ronald Reagan. The generation that followed may have been motivated by Bill Clinton, and young Democrats today have Barack Obama. (Which helps explain how screwed up our country is.)

Here’s another one of those uncool facts: The biggest flaw of Wisconsin’s “Progressive Movement” then and the liberal ethos today is that they seek to change human nature, which is immutable. Good and evil exist both in the world and in all of us. That’s why human beings need law and people to enforce it, as well of rules of society. Personal freedom sounds great until someone else’s personal freedom infringes on yours, or, for that matter, collective expressions of personal freedom cause real damage to society. As has been said numerous times before now, the facts of life are fundamentally conservative.

You may have noticed in the Daily Signal piece the divide between conservatives and “conservatarians,” who are conservative on economic issues and libertarian on social issues. This isn’t just a problem attracting young people to vote Republican; it’s a problem attracting people, period, to vote Republican. The younger you are, the more likely you are to know, for instance, people who smoke marijuana without it controlling their lives, or people in same-sex relationships, or women who have had abortions.

No one has a good handle on how to get past that issue, because at the heart of every political philosophy not named “libertarian” and, for that matter, every religion (and parenthood too) is the desire to control other people’s behavior. I think Republicans need to find the common ground of economic conservatism, because all Republicans (except Dale Schultz) agree on that issue. To me, the issues that are important to social conservatives are really not things about which government can do much; you have to change the culture to, for instance, reduce the number of abortions.

Improving communication, however, is always worthwhile, because communication is never as good as it should be. The downside of conservatives and Republicans migrating to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News is that listening to your own views diminishes your ability to counter the bad, illogical yet heartfelt arguments of Democrats and liberals. (I’d argue the converse as well with liberals and MSNBC, but why help them out?) Besides the cause of self-promotion, I agree to appear on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Friday Week in Review (including tomorrow at 8 a.m.), even though I am positive that most listeners disagree with me, because the views of non-liberals and non-Madisonians need to be heard.

The first thing you have to do to reach college-age people, speaking from my experience of having been one myself, is to not be condescending. (The second verse of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” begins with “Oh, you’re so condescending …”) Conservative arguments should rely on facts and logic, particularly when trying to engage the brains of people whose brains are being engaged sitting in a classroom every weekday.

It also depends a great deal on the messenger. Reagan was a great messenger of the conservative message, even though he was old enough to be our grandfather. Optimism always convinces more than pessimism, even though a pessimistic worldview avoids disappointment. The age of college is the last chance we have to be idealistic before the real world hits after graduation, and candidates and causes need to appeal to that, while following the high school advice: “be yourself.”

The numbers

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) corrects Democrats’ falsehoods about the state of state finance:

The Annual Fiscal Report, which reports Wisconsin actual, not forecasted financial performance, reflects continued good stewardship of Wisconsin’s finances.   Don’t be confused by Mary Burke, and the media’s previous sky is falling headlines.  Wisconsin is in better shape than during the Burke/Doyle years by every metric.

Wisconsin ended the fiscal year with over a half billion cash on hand.  That is the second largest cash balance Wisconsin has had in the 21st century, second only to last year’s fiscal year.  The rainy day fund, since Doyle’s last day in office, has increased 16,500%.  Even with our tax cuts, we have had the largest two years of tax collections in Wisconsin history.  Remarkable how that works, Republicans cut taxes, and we realize more tax receipts than previous Democratic administrations armed with higher taxes.  Tax receipts are down slightly from last year, but the reason for that decrease highlights a core conservative philosophy.  Withholding tables were adjusted, which reflects the fact conservatives believe you shouldn’t be granting the state an interest free loan, it’s your money.  Withholding tables were adjusted downward last spring by ten percent to let you keep more of your cash, yet the amount of cash collected from the previous year was only down by 6%, because of growth in the number of Wisconsin residents employed and higher wages for existing workers.

Wisconsin democrats will continue to engage on a campaign of gender, class and racial warfare.  However, a look of the actual numbers shows Republicans have directed tax cuts to the middle class, made significant progress on the minority education gap, expended BadgerCare to 100% of the population at poverty below, and made had the largest commitment to fighting domestic violence in the nation.

The annual financial report also shows $141 million more was spent on education than the previous year. Wisconsin’s schools have never been more financially solvent.  Statewide school fund balances rose 32% from 2009 to 2013.  In 2009, schools collectively had a fund balance of $1. 6 billion and in 2013 the total fund balance increased to $2.1 billion.   Additional spending on education is not a measure of success, higher graduation rates and ACT scores are.  ACT scores have increased since 2010.  The last year Democrats were in charge, the high school graduate rate was 85.7%.  In 2013, after three years of Republican control, and Act 10, the state graduation rate increased by 2.3% to 88%.  Measurable progress was made in closing the gap between minority graduation rates and the rest of the state.  In 2010, the African American gradate rate was 60.5% and in 2013 improved to 64.8%.  In 2010, the Hispanic graduation rate was 69% and in 2013 improved to 74%.

How many times have you heard the tired refrain tax cuts for the rich?  The fact is Governor Walker’s tax cuts were targeted to the middle class.  Today’s tax code is more progressive than in 2010.  The bottom tax rate was lowered from 4.6% to 4.0% and the top rate was lowered from 7.75% to 7.65%.  The rich are paying a larger percentage of the total tax bill than they did during the Doyle/Burke administration.

The actual results show the last round of fiscal doom and gloom by Democrats and the media was Enron math.  The actual results reflect significant progress, and if the current trends continue, Wisconsin will end the year with revenue that exceeds expectations by $220 million.

Given the dump heap that was state finances in 2010, Democrats have really forfeited any right statements about government finance. Unfortunately, voters sometimes make the wrong decision and those wrong decisions led to the Deficit Doyle and Democrats Too era of the late 2000s. Politicians need to be prevented from making bad decisions through constitutional limits on spending and tax increases.

It’s a holiday and I’m overscheduled, so of course I’m on the radio

On Friday shortly after 8 a.m., I will be on Wisconsin Public Radio for the Joy Cardin Show Week in Review.

Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network can be heard on WHA (970 AM) in Madison, WLBL (930 AM) in Auburndale, WHID (88.1 FM) in Green Bay, WHWC (88.3 FM) in Menomonie, WRFW (88.7 FM) in River Falls, WEPS (88.9 FM) in Elgin, Ill., WHAA (89.1 FM) in Adams, WHBM (90.3 FM) in Park Falls, WHLA (90.3 FM) in La Crosse, WRST (90.3 FM) in Oshkosh, WHAD (90.7 FM) in Delafield, W215AQ (90.9 FM) in Middleton, KUWS (91.3 FM) in Superior, WHHI (91.3 FM) in Highland, WSHS (91.7 FM) in Sheboygan, WHDI (91.9 FM) in Sister Bay, WLBL (91.9 FM) in Wausau, W275AF (102.9 FM) in Ashland, W300BM (107.9 FM) in Madison, and of course online at But you knew that.

It figures that I’m doing this in the midst of announcing five games — 11 hours after this radio appearance a football playoff game you can hear not on WPR but here, and before and after that postseason high school volleyball, with a college match thrown in — in five days this week.

What’s the holiday Friday? This.


Presty the DJ for Oct. 23

The number one song today in 1961:

A horrible irony today in 1964: A plane carrying all four members of the group Buddy and the Kings crashed, killing everyone on board. Buddy and the Kings was led by Harold Box, who replaced Buddy Holly with the Crickets after Holly died in a plane crash in 1959:

Today in 1976, Chicago had its first number one single, which some would consider the start of its downward slope to sappy ballads:

Continue reading

The air is getting thin at 333 W. State St.

Conn Carroll takes apart an utterly stupid Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial:

It is not easy being on the editorial staff at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, especially now that they have been forced to admit that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10, which they strongly editorialized against, has saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $3 billion.  …

The liberals who run the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel knew that the Wisconsin Democratic Party would be crippled by giving government workers the choice not to join government unions, and government union membership has fallen sharply since Act 10 became law.

But the state budget is now in the black and Wisconsin’s best teachers are being rewarded with lucrative job offers. So since the law has been a complete success, how do the liberals at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attack Walker? By inventing a fictional parallel universe of course. The editorial board writes:

If Walker could travel to that other universe — the one where he negotiates with unions instead of breaking them — here’s what he would find: The budget deficit is closed through negotiated employee concessions, cuts to programs and a little fiscal magic. There are no new taxes. There are no angry protests around the state Capitol, no nasty threats aimed at Republican legislators. Democratic senators remain in Madison; they do not not run off to Illinois. They don’t have to; they are working with the governor. There are not 15 recall elections, either, and Walker, though disliked by Democrats, is no target. The Democrats know better. … Imagine: labor peace, a balanced budget, a successful governor, a new kind of Republican who works with his political foes instead of crushing them. It’s easy if you try.

Yes, if you ignore reality and pretend that government unions are perfectly willing to just give their members’ benefits away, then sure, Walker’s Act 10 wasn’t necessary.

But back here in the real world, government unions exist only to perpetuate themselves, and for no other reason. They are nothing but a drain on taxpayers, teachers, principals, local governments, and students. Weakening government unions was the wisest and most critical part of Walker’s Act 10.

One quote sums up the editorial perfectly:

The liberal journalists said it themselves in their own editorial: They believe in “fiscal magic.” Walker, who has to live in the real world with the rest of us, can’t rely upon magic,
This appeared the same week a number of Journal Sentinel reporters of long standing accepted buyouts. Those people shouldn’t have been let go. The people who wrote and signed off on this garbage editorial (unsigned, of course) should have been fired.

Burke’s ideas vs. ALEC’s ideas

You would think that a candidate who has great difficulty coming up with original ideas would be more circumspect about criticizing the source of others’ ideas.

But not Mary Burke, as Christian Schneider reports:

In an interview immediately following revelations that she had lifted swaths of her jobs plan without attribution, gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke explained that the linguistic heist “was about bringing together great ideas, from anywhere.” She added, “I don’t care where they come from, and, in fact, if Wisconsin is going to have a growing, thriving economy, we have got to be open to more new ideas.”

Clearly, Burke has a keen sense of humor, as she has taken to calling her economic plan a “square deal” — a term stolen from Teddy Roosevelt’s domestic program of the same name. Thus, in order to demonstrate her unquenchable thirst for “new” ideas and to prove she’s not a plagiarist, Burke has lifted the uncredited title from a nearly 115-year-old program. As a result, Burke should be arrested for the murder of satire.

But Burke’s supporters evidently do not share her sense of humor. They do care where ideas come from, and even if they are “great” ideas, they may not come from “anywhere.” Specifically, they may not have anything to do with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It has become an article of faith in liberal circles to claim that much of Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda was written by the Koch brothers-funded ALEC. Many of the ALEC “model legislation” bills have been conservative ideas for years; but once liberals think they have the ALEC stench on them, they suddenly become “special interest” legislation.

The strategy here is obvious: By tying Republican bills to ALEC, the left can argue that no individual legislator or governor could possibly support such initiatives; that they are being pushed by the same type of moneyed interests Roosevelt fought near the turn of the 20th century. They also claim that Burke’s plagiarism is far less important than Gov. Scott Walker having ALEC write all his bills. (They don’t even sniff the irony of accusing Walker of plagiarism by using the same recycled talking point over and over.)

Of course, taking ideas that have worked in other states and running them through the legislative process isn’t even close to the word-for-word theft Burke’s campaign engaged in. And set aside the hypocrisy of accusing Walker of bowing to “big money” — the centerpiece of Burke’s plan, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, is an idea straight out of liberal think tanks and big Democratic donors, such as organized labor.

What Walker opponents never mention is the fact that many of the laws the governor signed had never previously passed because of the presence of special interests blocking them. For instance, the world saw what happened when Walker proposed Wisconsin join the 24 states with either limited or no public-sector collective bargaining. The 2011 Capitol eruption was the primary reason previous governors never tussled with the public unions and their funding mechanism — funds that heavily favored Democrats.

In fact, many of the laws Walker has signed have been around for years but were always thwarted by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Doyle routinely resisted expanding the Milwaukee school voucher program, and, just coincidentally, public teachers unions spent millions on his behalf come campaign time. In 2004 and 2006, Doyle vetoed concealed-carry bills, and in 2005 he vetoed a voter identification bill, all of which were sent to him by Republican Legislatures. By the time Walker signed them, both bills had kicked around the Capitol halls for around a decade, and both bills garnered Democratic votes; to lay their passage at the feet of ALEC is preposterous.

In their book More Than They Bargained For, Journal Sentinel reporters Jason Stein and Patrick Marley looked into allegations that ALEC had influenced introduction of Walker’s union plan in early 2011. They found “little evidence that ALEC was directly involved,” with Legislative Reference Bureau deputy chief Cathlene Hanaman saying that there was “no prefab language” supplied to legislative attorneys tasked with drafting the bill.

Those believing ALEC writes Walker’s bills also have little understanding of the legislative process. Other than the budget bill, legislation originates from lawmakers, not from Walker — his primary power is simply approving or denying bills the Legislature sends to him. Bills that are introduced, receive public hearings, are subjected to amendments, pass a full house, then go through the same process in the other house before they reach his desk. Not quite “Walker snaps his fingers and implements ALEC’s agenda.”

The fact is that where the ideas come from is much less important than whether they are good ideas. ALEC’s are here.