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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Screw Brett Favre

I've been a huge Brett Favre fan for years. Do a search on my blog, and you'll find numerous entries about him.

However, the retire/unretire, the GM hates me crap has to go. So do you, Mr. Favre. Sorry, but screw you Brett. You've gotten a lot of passes for a lot (record number) of bad passes over the years, but no pass this time.

You retired, then a few weeks later said you were changing your mind. Then a few days later changed it again. Then a few days later were asked if you wanted to change it yet again, and you said no. So the team moved on, they drafted two good college quarterbacks, and retooled the playbook for successor. They spent months of mini camps and organized team activities working on the newly retooled offense. Then you decide you want to come back, maybe. Not only that, but the team should hand you the job back, switch everything to how it used to be to accommodate you.

Even when you made the (kind of) decision to come back, you weren't man enough to come out an say it yourself. You had your mommy, agent, and brother, talking for you. When you finally do come out and open your own mouth it's to Greta Van Susteren? I'm pretty sure it wasn't to real sports journalist because one of those might have called bullshit on your antics instead of tossing softball questions with no follow up.

So what does the team do, carry 4 quarterbacks on the roster this year, instead of the two last year? Who gets cut to make room for you, in case you decide you actually want to play, for real?

I'm willing to admit, you probably would give Green Bay the best chance to win this year as QB, but you know what, I don't care. Football is the ultimate team sport, and over the last 4 or so months, you quit being a team player. You've turned into the guy from the old Bud Light commercials who when told there's no "I" in team, said "No, but you can spell ME".

Personally, I hope you end up on the Falcons, or Dolphins, a team with no weapons, no line, and no hope. That's where you belong this year, wallowing in the regret of a horrible season, with a horrible team. That's what should happen to selfish, self centered guys.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bailing Out The Banks

Congress passed the "mortgage rescue" bill that will help 400,000 home owners, but is really a benefit for banks and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Unfortunately the President doesn't have the guts to veto it, due to the bad publicity he'd get for it, and that would go to the GOP during an election cycle.

The bill is definitely a contradiction. On one hand 400,000 "at risk" home owners could get bailed out IF their banks are willing to take a loss on their loans and refinance them through FHA. If everyone takes that deal, taxpayers are on the hook for 300 BILLION dollars in new loan guarantees.

However, the bill also gives nearly 4 billion in grants to banks to rehab foreclosed properties to get them ready to sell. In other words, the bank gets two choices, take a loss and refinance, or get a grant after foreclosure to repair the house and resell it; hopefully at less of a loss.

The block grants, opposed by Bush and the GOP are an issue. Banks generally stay out of the real estate business as much as possible. In most cases, when possible, they'd rather work out a short sale, or refinance instead of foreclosing so they don't have to deal with the inevitable problems associated with holding a home. This bill gives them as much an incentive to foreclose as it does to refinance, possibly more since the government is willing to mitigate part of their loss under the block grant program.

Freddie and Fannie also get sweet deals, with the Federal Reserve being able to loan them basically unlimited amounts of money over the next 18 months to help shore up their poor loan portfolios. Yes, they get some extra oversight (finally), and have to pay for some new programs, but on the whole, it's a big wet kiss for getting in over their heads with risky loans.

Who loses in the bill? The tax payers, that's who. We get put on the hook for hundreds of billions in new loans through FHA, and hundreds more by tossing cash at Freddie and Fannie. While Congress sees this as "doing their job" the truth is both the GOP lead congress and the one run by Democrats fell down on their jobs by not having some of the new protections in place previously. They were too busy rolling around in the cash that was coming in from a housing driven economy to look at how wobbly the foundation was.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The FCC Is Costing Me $17 A Month

The FCC is going to cost me $17.00 a month (actually $16.99) pretty soon. They finally, after nearly a year and a half, approved the XM/Sirius satellite radio merger. Now I'll pay for the service.

Right now I'm using my 3 months free subscription to XM with my new company truck. I love it, but have resisted in the past getting satellite radio because MLB is on XM and the NFL is on Sirius. I didn't really have a desire to have redundant receivers in my vehicle so I could listen to both when I'm out of town. So, neither of them got my money.

Now that they will be offering the "best of both package" on XM for $16.99 a month, I'll have to subscribe.

The 18 month wait for this merger; 4 months for the FCC after the Department of Justice approved it; shows the power of other media lobbyists in DC. Terrestrial broacasters are screaming this is unfair to them, because it will be a "monopoly" for the satellite folks. However, I disagree, based on my own radio usage.

I (used to) listen to AM radio about 45% of the time, so I can hear local news and talk shows. I'd listen to FM for music about 30% of the time. The other 25% was listening to CD's when I'm out of broadcast range of stations I like or know.

While XM has reduced to time I listen to both AM and FM, and CD's it hasn't become the dominant form of entertainment in my vehicle. I still find uses for all three other options.

Other folks use IPods in the car, along with the radios, and CD's so the idea that there is suddenly some sort of "radio monopoly" is a joke. It was never just about radio, it's always been about entertainment availability.

The ground based radio industry's worry is that with no competition in satellite; and all of the options now available on one receiver; folks like me would subscribe and stop listening to the commerical supported folks. While I will subscribe, I'll still be listening to both AM and FM, there are local news stories, and personalities I enjoy listening to on them. I'll just have more choices on what I listen to now.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Scared to Debate

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Robert Byrd are so scared of the idea of a debate on offshore drilling on the US Continental Shelf that they've decided to just not allow any debate on it.

Pelosi is going to refuse to bring it up in the House, and Byrd; with Reids consent; has decided to cancel committee meetings for fear that a drilling amendment might get attached to an appropriations bill.

Why the fear? Because gas prices have reached the tipping point, where people are now wanting to put their pocketbooks ahead of the (overblown, my thought) evironmental concerns about such drilling. The general public supports the idea now that they've been hit with $4.00 per gallon gasoline for their SUV and minivan. The money folks behind the Democratic party don't support it, and in politics we know when the choice is $$ or the people, well follow the money.

There are enough "Blue dog Democrats" and oil state Democrats in congress, that when combined with the GOP would pretty well assure passage of an off shore drilling bill. That would be a stunning defeat for the Pelosi/Reid/Obama end of the party, which can't handle the idea of a loss to Republicans on any issue much less a core belief issue of the environmental end of the party. So to avoid the defeat, they'll just dodge the issue.

Hopefully, come November, the folks who are being ignored (you and I) remember this episode show the folks who've decided we don't even need a debate where the door is.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama's Media Throng

John Kass has an outstanding piece on the media bia towards Barack Obama today in the Chicago Tribune. Kass makes great fun of everyone in the media for their ululating (his word, not mine I had to look it up at Dictionary.com) over Obama.

He even makes fun of the folks at Daily Kos, and the 50% of American's who don't think the media is in the tank for Obama.

I'm not sure which is funnier, Kass, or the Daily Show clip of reporters covering Obama in Iraq.

Either way, it's good to read and see folks other than the "vast right wing co-conspirators" realizing what a farce the media has become over Obama. But no worries on the left, even when it's pointed out that Barack is getting the spa treatment from the media, they still won't ask a tough question.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Liberal Definition of "Tax Relief"

If you have an understanding of economics, and government, and need a laugh, read this editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called "Yes, it is property tax relief ".

In it, the editorial board of the newpaper explains that a 0.5% sales tax enacted 17 years ago was in fact, property tax relief. By their logic, since the money raised was spent, and didn't come from property taxes, it was "property tax relief". The flip side of the argument; if they hadn't collected the money, it wouldn't have been spent; isn't raised. The editorial board at that paper has issues with the idea of not taking and spending money.

The source of the argument is an advisory referendum slated for November to ask the voters to raise the sales tax again, so that property taxes won't have to go up to fund transportation and parks.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who's vetoed just about every tax hike is against it, looking instead for spending cuts, including jobs, to keep both systems running. Walker is a conservative who took office after the board was caught in a pension scandal a while back. He keeps getting reelected because he keeps swimming upstream against a liberal board, and it's media backers to keep taxes low. He looks for efficiency, not another money grab.

Now, as far as the actual subjects of the tax, transit and parks, there is of course another solution to their funding issues, charge the people who use them more money. Add a quarter to bus fares, add a buck to the charges for park usage, like golf, swimming etc. The arguement against this is that having low cost parks and transit attracts people to a city.

While this is somewhat true having high taxes drives them away just as fast. The county already has high property taxes, and a higher than average sales tax because of it's 0.5% addition from 1991, plus another sales tax add-on that's paying for Miller Park. Oh yeah, and it's losing population.

Good luck to Walker and his allies in defeating this come November. Maybe a ballot box ass kicking will wake the rest of the Milwaukee County Board up to the fact that the residents there are sick of being taxed.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

George's Head May Explode.

I'm not talking about George Bush's head exploding (sorry Kosites). No, I'm referring to George Steinbrenner, well, actually Hank, since he's running the show with the Yankee's now. He's got to be sick right about now, getting up, and reading in the morning paper that the biggest trade deadline prize in Major League Baseball, C.C. Sabathia got traded to MILWAUKEE!

The reigning Cy Young winner does not go to Milwaukee. Somewhere in the fine print in MLB rules it's gotta say that, doesn't it?

Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports points out that money doesn't always get the talent around the trade deadline. Sometimes you need talented prospects to trade for talented players. The Yankees, Cubs, BoSox and Dodgers have all burned up a lot of their minor league system over the years to get "the guy" that's going to put them over the top. Sometimes it's worked, sometimes it hasn't. Right now they are all thin on the farm.

Milwaukee built a top notch farm system, and a team through it that's 10 games above .500 right now. The AA Huntsville team has 10 minor league all-stars on it. So when Cleveland wanted to reload their system with talent, some ready for the majors others needing a little work, they found someone with that talent not in Chicago, New York or LA, but Milwaukee.

Everyone in Milwaukee understands that this is a "rent a player" deal, Sabathia has already turned down a 4 year, 72 million dollar deal to stay in Cleveland. Milwaukee, even after unloading Eric Gagne's 10 million dollar contract won't be able to go to $20 million to keep Sabathia. They also realize that odds are Ben Sheets will be leaving, too. He's having a great year, (10-2, 2.77 ERA) and will get Sabathia type money after the season. So this is the year to make a deal, and try and get to the play-offs instead of waiting for talent from the minors to take them in 2 or 3.

I hope it works out, I'd love to see the Brewers in the World Series again, I went to the last (and only) one they've ever been to and it was a great experience.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Illinois, There Is a Lot of Work To Do

So, I'm doing the morning news thing, and see a headline on Comcast's home page for the "Best Places to Raise a Family". It links to a Forbes Real Estate article that used various criteria to determine the 20 best counties in the US to raise your kids. Crime, school performance, etc. were all considered.

Two things stood out to me, the county I was raised in, Waukesha, Wi. is number 8 on the list. I always thought it was a good place to live, evidently Forbes agrees. The second thing was not one county in Illinois came in the top 20.

Hamilton County Indiana was number 1, and Ozaukee County, Wi. came in number 2, and Johnson County Kansas was number 3. So the folks from downstate can't really say that it was an "urban type list"; though many of the counties outlie larger urban areas.

Why wasn't Illinois on the list, part of it has to do with our consistently poor school funding. Forbes dropped out "at risk" districts based on Tax Foundation information about taxes and school expenditures.

They also used commute time as a large factor, and that pretty much killed any chance for Cook or the "collar counties" to get on the list. They gave the example of a New York suburb with a 31 minute commute time that knocked them off the list. Greater Chicago I believe is closer to an hour than 30 minutes.

Finally, property tax rates as a percentage of home costs was used as a factor. This is the nail in pretty much every county in Illinois' coffin for this list. While 50%+ school funding based on property taxes was actually a good thing, taxes as a percentage of home value was a bad thing, and those numbers are just too high in Illinois.

Consider that housing cost was also a factor, and Marin County, Ca. with a median home price of $901,000 was on the list. That was offset by the generally low property taxes, since they only get adjusted when a home is sold thanks to Proposition 13.

So how does Illinois get a county into this top 20 list? First, we have to redo the school funding formulas. This is actually a much less popular idea downstate, where districts have lower costs than in the urban areas, but it's necessary for the whole state. Raising the income tax a percentage point, but requiring that the extra state funding be rebated on property taxes is a start. The problem is getting that rebate thing in there before the tax hike. Otherwise politicans will do as they always have, find a way to spend the money, and not give any back.

Second, we have to increase acheivement in our schools. One of the criteria was average ACT scores. Only one of the collar counties (DuPage) has an average ACT (corrected, thanks to my kid) of over 22, which was a requirement to be on the list.

Third, commute time is being worked on in two ways. The first, that we all see (and hate) is the amount of road construction with the I-294, Edens, etc. projects that are going on. The completion of those will help commute times. The second we have little control over, gas prices. More and more folks are moving to public transportation as gas gets more expensive. Those of us who can't are happy for the reduced traffic, though, and keep hoping more folks take the train.

Fourth, another unpopular idea, but one that would reduce taxes is government consolidation. School districts need to get unified in Illinois. The fact that my taxes to to pay two school boards, superintendents, etc, is crazy. Especially since one of those boards and supers are responsible for exactly 1 school. Secondly, we need to get rid of the park districts, etc. as separate taxing bodies and either roll them into the county or municipalities where they are located. Elimination of township governing bodies and moving that to the county or city (which ever is appropriate) would also reduce taxes by eliminating duplicate jobs.

DuPage, McHenry and Lake counties could all make this list at some point, and probably should, IF and only if, the state starts getting it's priorities straight and works out a reasonable change in school funding methods, and the counties figure out ways to streamline spending so taxes can be brought down.

Until this stuff happens, Illinois will get to watch while South Dakota, Wisconsin and Indiana continue to have places on the "Best Places To Raise a Family" lists.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Sports Babe of the Day

I probably won't post a "Sports Babe of the Day" every day, but occasionally one catches my eye. Actually, in the case of Trenni Kusnierek (pronounced just like it's spelled) of Fox Sports Net Wisconsin, she caught my ear first.

Trenni does the "Extra Innings" radio show after Milwaukee Brewers games, and the reason she caught my ear is she knows baseball in general, and the Brewers specifically, very well.
For some reason, a lot of Brewers fans love to hate manager Ned Yost, according to many of the callers on today's show I'd have to guess that Ned is the reason for the Iraq war, global warming, 3rd world poverty, and rickets making a comeback. This type of wrath for a guy who's team is 8 games above .500 and playing the best ball in the majors since the end of May.
When one of the callers today told Trenni that he hates Yost because he's always getting "out managed" in 1 run games. She pointed out that his team is 18-8 in such games this year, the best record in baseball. Then proceeded to dress the caller down in such a way that I almost felt sorry for the guy, except he was in idiot and deserved to have his testicles served to him.
You can catch Trenni on www.620wtmj.com after any Brewers game, and a 7:15am on Friday mornings with the morning show.

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Happy Birthday America

I've got the day off, as do many but not all people, to celebrate America's birthday, 232 years old. Damn that's a long time.

I also get a little joy out of the fact that the folks at our British unit don't get today off, and every time they call the US offices they'll be reminded we are out celebrating kicking their asses!

Have a happy, safe, and fun July Fourth. If you are inclined to play with fireworks, please make sure you keep your fingers attached to your hands while doing so.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


So, I'm reading the recap of last nights Milwaukee Brewers v. Arizona Diamondbacks game, when I come across this gem in the notes sections on Yahoo Sports:

"With Chris Snyder on the 15-day DL with a left testicular fracture, Montero will take over as Arizona’s everyday catcher"

TESTICULAR FRACTURE!!!!!!! Break my leg, my arm, wrist, neck, whatever, but a TESTICULAR FRACTURE!! No thanks!


Just wondering though, did his mother in law visit recently? They are usually ball busters.

Seriously, though, was the guy wearing his cup when this happened? Was it just a freak collision at the plate, or does Paris Hilton's movie producer need to get a hold of him? How the hell do you fracture a testicle? Do you get a cast for that, or just a tighter jock strap? Will the scar tissue.. never mind.

And, as a corollary, why not have the news services call it a "groin injury", instead of a testicular fracture. This poor guys going to be getting his balls busted about getting his ball busted for the rest of his life thanks to the news folks.

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