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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

There's a song here . . . something about "Ding Dong," maybe?

TABOR is dead. Again.

At some point they'll figure it out. At least some Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate--the less wingnutty of the two Wisconsin houses-- recognize that a straightjacket like TABOR is a bad idea. There are ways to bring about both tax fairness and reduced spending without draconian measures that don't actually fix the root causes of of our ballooning budget problems. Another plus is that there now seems to be real animosity brewing between the relatively good and moderate Republicans in the Senate (up to and maybe including Mary Panzer) and the really hard-core Republican nuts in the Assembly. They've been in power too long and are starting to eat their own now, embodied in the primary challenge Panzer's facing. This is the sort of thing that's driving good-government conservatives to retire--they can't stand the partisan rancor and infighting.

I won't go into all the TABOR nonesense again now; scroll down a bit and you can find everything you need to know. But right now, do a little dance. Maybe get something from the Lollipop Guild.

And, hey, sorry I didn't get to this sooner, but I've been busy this week.


I've said before that I'm not really sure how many hits I've had since I started this blog last May, as GoStats has lost my info not once but twice (the current count is from some time in early January).

But I was still planning to say something nice about whoever it was who turned the counter down there at the bottom right over to 10,000. But, as luck would have it, it was me.

Sorry about that.

So congrats to #9,999, another poor soul (from doing a Yahoo! search for Elizabeth Edwards fat. And congrats also to #10,001, a local ( who has me bookmarked. Thanks all for your visits!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Know What I Hate?

Yeah, I know, it's a long list. But one thing that gets my goat is the practice--most notably on Fox and its sister F/X cable channel--of advertising upcoming shows during the show that's on.

Lately, because of the summer re-run doldrums, Sarah and I have been TiVoing "The Practice." Whenever the show comes back from commercial, F/X advertises its new fire department show with Dennis Leary; I can't even recall what its title is, though the theme is Queen's "Under Pressure" ("Ice, Ice, Baby," for those of you under 20), so you can see how well the advertising works. They way they do it is by appropriating the bottom half of the screen (and a good chunk of the right side, too) with moving graphics and a sound effect of sizzling fire that drowns out the audio of the show I'm trying to watch. This goes on for probably five or eight seconds.

Fox does this on its broadcast shows, too. I imagine F/X does it most of the rest of the time as well. How is this even remotely a good idea? It just pisses me off and makes me want to just not watch.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Training Wheels for Bush

[UPDATE, 7/26: Once again, Bush needs these!]

[UPDATE, 5/22: Bush really does need these!]

Did you all catch this?
President Bush sought to rally Republican lawmakers around his Iraq plan Thursday, saying Iraqis are ready to "take the training wheels off" by assuming some political power. [. . .] "He talked about 'time to take the training wheels off,'" said Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio. "The Iraqi people have been in training, and now it's time for them to take the bike and go forward."
So here's the plan: Go buy some training wheels (the $10 kind--don't want to have to spend too much!). But don't ship them to yourself. Instead, ship them here::

The Honorable George W. Bush
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Then spread the idea to your friends!

Man, if I don't get an FBI file for this, I don't know what else to try.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

This is what playing politics looks like

The outrage fatigue is hitting again, just as I was starting to get over it, as now it looks the Wisconsin state legislature will be coming back for a special session on the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the tax freeze bill next week.

The session was called by Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, in a flip-flop of monumental proportions. Earlier this summer she did the right thing, a rarity among Republicans these days, especially here in Wisconsin. She realized that there was no chance of there being agreement on any kind of TABOR language (and uncertainty about a tax-freeze majority that can withstand the governor's veto), and declared that there would be no vote, no special session. In fact, as of Friday when she called the session, there was no draft of a TABOR amendment available at all.

But now, under pressure from the wingnut wing of the party--and a serious primary challenge from Glenn Grothman, who is challenging the very conservative Panzer from the right!--she has changed her mind.

They're facing an August 3 deadline for the amendment part of the agenda; if they get it passed by then (it needs a 2/3 vote, which I doubt they have), they can vote again in January and have it on the ballot for a referendum in April. That's their plan for the anti-gay marriage amendment passed last March. If they can't get it done now, the referendum will be pushed back to 2007 at the earliest.

Trouble is, in the next couple of days, they have to whip up language that the Republicans can agree on--no simple task--schedule, announce, and hold public hearings, plus have the vote. Many Democratic lawmakers will be in Boston next week for the Democratic National Convention. (Republicans in Texas have tried the same special-session crap to keep Texas Dems from convention going.)

Even other Republicans can see that this is bull. I like what Mike Ellis had to say:
"It's total politics," Doyle said at a campaign rally in Milwaukee. "Nobody even knows what the proposal is. Just a couple of weeks ago, even Mary Panzer was saying this needed thorough discussion and thought. Obviously, whatever is going on in the Republican Party these days, they're in a lot of political turmoil." [. . .]

Republican Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) also criticized his party's leaders for their new emphasis on trying to recast the constitution. "Oh my God, they're panicking," Ellis said Friday.

"Furthering somebody's political ambitions or extending somebody's political career ought not be the dictum by which the public policy is formulated," Ellis said, referring to Panzer's challenge by Grothman.
What's really cheneyed-up is the tax-freeze business, if it passes. This late, everyone everywhere has already set their budgets based on the numbers they thought they had. School districts, for example, are all way past the date that they can do any layoffs of unionized workers; they'd have to start the year with no secretaries or something. Maybe end school early, around spring break. The assessment on my house has already been done--up $9000 over last year, thank you very much--so I don't know how the city'll get by. Cripes.

I'll be interested to hear what my arch-nemesis Owen has to say about this. For more on why both TABOR and the tax freeze are bad ideas, check my old posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Believe it or not

I posted something to OSP tonight. First time in more than a month. Doesn't fully absolve my guilt for not posting, of course. But it helps.

If you've blown out your back and are spending the weekend horizontally, too

Then you'll find this as engrossing as I did.

Why isn't Whoopi hosting?

I don't know if this is funny or just scary, but check out "Right Wing Squares." (Via Barking Lunatics.)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bottom of the Barrel

Here's something for you all to chew on while I'm working on getting over the outrage fatigue: another in the occasional series, "Bottom of the Barrel."

Funny Today, number 12966, is the actual bottom of the barrel over to the Ecosystem right now. But with only two posts up (one a request for other posters, one about the Tron guy that Matt Stoller is in love with), I feel I ought to move up to something with more substance.

Number 12965 was British, and I just didn't have the patience for sorting out the intracacies of problems in the English government, too. Sitting at number 12964 is The World According to Wayne. I had some hope since I enjoy John Irving. Sadly, it's a typo-ridden blog about the banal--car troubles, moving, and so on.

One up from there, at 12963, is Top of My Head. The first post was promising--an "ER"-style story of a late night as a nurse. But, scrolling down, I found some cheap shots--not even legitimate policy disagreements--with Kerry. Seems pretty reactionary.

Anyway, hoping not to go 0-5, I tried number 12962, urti blog. Again, right-wing pap, but more interesting. For example, the very topmost post links to this Weekly Standard piece about "intellectual elites and wannabes," with this insightful commentary from urti: "Wonderful commentary on how liberals value intelligence above all else, even moral character. Does intelligence give us any hope of a moral culture?" He then snarks about Linda Ronstadt, sounds hopeful about the House of Representatives violating the separation of powers, and more. But, as luck would have it, that's all there is, since he's as new to this blogging thing as the Funny Today guy.

So what's a barrel troller to do? I think I'll just go back to hiding under the covers.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Folkbum Loves ActBlue

Now I can track your donations to the folkbum three.

And it's Kerry by three lengths

Or so says mindgeek, who puts Kerry at between 270-322 electoral votes--98 out of 100 times with a 95% probability. All the meta-poll data and methodology (for the smarty pantses among you), as well as a variation on the old EV map, is here.

The thing is, mindgeek's analysis matches pretty much everybody else's analysis--even that of some prominent Republicans who do that sort of thing.

So, now, complacency. Let's all take the rest of the summer off. (Not really.)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Multiple Choice Test

Who is the war profiteer? Choose only one answer:

A. A man who makes a movie, the majority of whose profits are going to Disney's favorite charities.
B. A sitting vice president, who influences defense policy and military contract awards and who is receiving deferred compensation as the former CEO of a company awarded billions of dollars of those contracts.

Please consider your answer carefully. This test is take-home, and due on November 2.

(Inspired by the Queen.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Outrage Fatigue

In case you are wondering why I'm not posting this week, the Onion (another great Wisconsin creation) explains it so well. It would be funny except it's true. There's so much to be pissed off about, I don't have enough to go around.

It's also too hot. The roof still leaks and now we have to sell our souls to some banking conglommerate (or, more likely, our credit union) so we can fix it. Anyone know any good Milwaukee-area plasterers?

But this is funny (though not work safe!).

UPDATE: Fixed the second link.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Pretty, pretty

Tim Carpenter's new website is live now and it is awesome. E-mail sign-ups, on-line contributions, good and growing issues pages. Needs a blog, though, eh? Anyway, go tool around over there--I'm finally able to send you there without apology!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I'll get over it

I'm deciding to be okay about, once again, being passed over as the vice-presidential nominee. I mean, I should be used to it by now, given that every four years since Carter asked Fritz Mondale to pop out of the cake at the 1976 convention, I have been ignored.

One of these days, it'll happen, though. I just know it will. But still, it did kind of put a pall over my celebrations of Bush Nativity Day, despite the good soup for dinner.

On the upside, I am once again getting a fair number of hits for searches on Elizabeth Edwards and variations on the word fat.

As to the roof (because I know you all care so much), the company that did the original repairs sent out a guy to do more for free. The new one who came out first thing this morning, though, wanted $2800. I don't have $2800. I may not even have $28. So we'll see how the new "repair" holds up during the rain tonight. As it is, the buckets are in place ready to go.

Happy Bush Nativity Day

I'm baking apple pie and watching some baseball. How about you?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Still Sucking

So we spent the day waiting at the house for the roofer to call back. And waited. And waited. So eventually I call around and I got a live person at a different roofer who will be here at 8 AM tomorrow. So we'll have to see how much it rains overnight.

On a happier note, I finally made it into a book--bringing up the rear, even. Guess what everybody's getting for Christmas?

Mine sucked. How was yours?
or, Why does my life Hate America?

Friday: First day of Summer School. Yes, yes, I am aware of the absolute stupidity of starting summer school on a Friday. Yes, I can only assume someone in charge somewhere is also aware of it. But they are giving us today off, and needed to make up for it somehow so the kids got a full week. Of course, that means the students in class Tuesday when things kick back up again will be very different from the ones who showed up Friday. I know this because fewer than half of the students on my class lists were present Friday; although during the course of each block (summer school is two two-hour blocks a day) many newly registered kids came into class. Turns out we registered nearly 200 students who were not foresightful enough to sign up for summer school before the end of the school year.

Once I could actually settle down and get some teaching in, it wasn't so bad. But there was mess after mess involving trying to get an accurate count, ex-ed students I don't know what to do with because the district hired no ex-ed teachers to find IEPs or discuss accomadations with us, taking attendance on-line with new and different logins, students roaming the halls because, well, that's what they do. Then there was the mess with trying to distribute bus passes.

See, my school district relies very little on "yellow" buses when it comes to high school kids; instead, we provide the kids who don't live within walking distance (2 miles) a county bus pass, and they ride the county buses instead. This is, first of all, a huge expense for the district. Second of all, it is very difficult to get right on a day like last Friday, when there are kids from all over the city, most of whom are not from our school, and many of whom just registered that morning. It doesn't help that the summer school principal--one of our usual APs--is not very good in charge of things. She was last summer's summer school prinicipal, and last year was bad, but this year she seems to have forgotten the lessons she learned that made most of last summer bearable. So you end up with her very explicit PA instructions to dismiss the students, and the summer school assistant principal, being mobbed after dismissal by students who never got their bus passes, shouting "GO BACK TO YOUR CLASSES! YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED!"

After the halls had finally cleared, I said to another teacher, "That was a circus." She said, "I was going to call it someting else. It also starts with a C."

Friday afternoon was not bad. I stayed late after school and got some grading and planning done, and then I went to hang out at Panera and read for a while. Sarah had the day off and preferred me out of the house, so I complied. (Sarah's parents were supposed to come visit this weekend from Denver, but, we found out Monday, they had to cancel, since her dad had carpal tunnel surgery the week before without calling to tell us!) I picked up some rabbit veggies and then got the dog from day care and went home. We watched Pieces of April, from the Netflix, which we subscribed to after cancelling the Showtime. Without any premium channels, just about the only movies we can get on the TiVo are from IFC or commercial channels. :( The movie was okay, but ended about how you'd expect.

Saturday: We spent the morning and afternoon clearing out the overgrown brush and weeds and the occasional maple tree sapling in the back by the alley, in the space where we're hoping to put in a parking slab this fall. It was hot and deathly humid. We stuffed nine-nine--of those tall lawn bags with, er, stuff we pulled out. We crammed them all into Sarah's Corolla and I drove off to the self-service place where you can dump your vast quantities of lawn and garden waste, only to find out that they were closed. They were supposed to be open until 4 PM, but I was one of a pretty steady stream of cars and pick-ups filled with debris pulling up and reading the sign on the gate that offered no explanation for the closure, just a statement that it was closed.

It was already starting to rain when I got back to the house (the rain is important here), so I knew that 1) we couldn't just leave the bags sitting outside to get wet through if there was a chance we'd have to drag them back to the dump next week, and 2) they couldn't sit in Sarah's car all weekend. So the bags got crammed into empty corners of the garage.

After I showered and felt a little calmer about things, we decided to order pizza for our own little July 3 spectacular. As we sat down to order, I heard a "drip." And another one. And another. Turns out, water was just pouring down the living room wall. This was in the same place where we'd had some minor leak damage earlier in the spring, and just that past Monday had had the roofers out to repair. Turns out they made it worse. A lot worse.

I had to rip open walls in the crawl space in our bedroom to put in 3-gallon diswashing tubs to catch the rain (we had no buckets). In the pouring rain I climbed up the ladder to pry off some of the aluminim soffet to let the water trapped in there drain out. I called and left a polite but very firm message on the roofing company's answering machine. And the pizza was late--way past the hour they'd promised. Grr.

Things seemed to settle into a mild tizzy, rather than a panic. We were catching most of the water, we thought. At least, there was no more water running down the wall. (I was also thankful that, you know, it wasn't blood--that would have meant an entirely different set of problems.) I toweled off. Then the pizza place called and apologized and said the pizza would be free.

Did I mention that this whole time I had a horrible, pounding migraine?

I did set the alarm for 3 AM so I could dump the water if necessary from the tubs we were catching it in, but it most have stopped raining sometime between 1 AM and 3 AM, since the tubs were not full and there was no dripping, so I went back to sleep.

Sunday: The weather stayed mostly dry; Sarah mostly slept; I mostly read. Our original plan was to stay out late and watch fireworks at the local park Sunday night, since we both had Monday off and could relax. But Milwaukee, in its infinite wisdom, has all of the city parks doing Fourth of July crap today on the fifth. We still haven't decided if we're going out tonight or not.

We went out Sunday, though (after shutting the crazy dog in her crate), for dinner and to see a movie. No, not Fahrenheit 9/11, which would have been patriotic, I suppose. Not even Spider-man 2. We saw Saved! down at the cheap theatre (very good, recommended). Afterward we grabbed some frozen custard and watched the various fireworks displays from the southern and western suburbs from a distance as we drove home.

The dog came out of her crate, and wouldn't go potty. She was spooked by the fidiots (the same kind of fidiots I ranted about last year) setting off fireworks all over the neighborhood. I even walked her around the block a few times, for about half an hour, in the almost middle of the firggin night, but she wouldn't even mark anything. Arrrrgh. And the fidiots kept shooting of the firecrackers; the air smelled like sulfur all around the neighborhood.

And that's just the first three days of this holiday weekend. Now I'm sitting here waiting for the roofing company to call and hoping that the grayness outside doesn't turn into any more frigging rain. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Rosemary's sucked too.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Fame and fortune in the folkbum household

I do have to report that Maggie, our dog (and previous star of the blog series "What the Dog Ate") is Dog of the Month at the Doggy Day Care (scroll to Milwaukee--Downtown).

Yes, our dog goes to day care. Three days a week.

Yes, it's expensive, but cheaper than what you pay for your kid to go to daycare. (Sometime I'll have to go into the "why I'm never having children" routine for you.)

And, yes, it's because she destroys things when she's home alone. The day care is also cheaper than replacing everything in the house, including dog crates, doors, windows, original-to-the-house woodwork . . .

The place is great, by the way, and I recommend it to anyone with a dog. Or a kid who can dress up like a dog and pass for one, because, you know, it's cheaper . . .

(Photo credit: Sarah)

So, the trolls are restless, eh?

Things are a little nutty here at the folkbum household, with the holiday, the (canceled at the last minute) visit from the in-laws, the holiday, the summer school starting, and such.

But here's a puzzle for you to consider until I get some fresh material up. My wife and I went out to dinner tonight and passed a car on the road with an unfathomable vanity plate. We're usually pretty good at deciphering these things. But we're stymied. See if you can get it:


Any thoughts? (And that's I as in IGLOO, not the number 1--though it maybe was supposed to be a 1 . . .)