Can't watch television without some upcoming program being ballyhooed as a television "event." Nor any sales, whether for automobiles or bath towels, being heralded as a sales "event." Now prepare yourself for the Blaska's End of the Year Blog Event!
Here's to a year well spent and the end of a decade. Hard to believe. Have a great end of year celebration. Take the time to be happy. Don't forget to laugh.
BTW, I got the this computer wallpaper here.
Hope (and more extra change) in Cottage Grove
Your county board raises taxes by 7.9 percent and votes in a new unit of government, a regional transit authority, with the power to raise sales taxes without a referendum. The legislature increases taxes on business (which are always passed along to the consumer) then talks about holding a "jobs session." We'll be paying for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid nationalized health insurance system for four years before anyone sees the first "benefit"
Here is one public official who gets it. WIBA 1310 AM's Outside the Box with Mitch Henck and Up Front with Vicki McKenna have done some real journalism. The village president of Cottage Grove, one Mike Mikalsen, cut property taxes by 15 percent. That is "cut" as in "reduced," "pared," "lowered." When everyone else is thrusting their greasy hands deeper into our threadbare pockets. Mr. Mikalsen did it with the full cooperation of his village board and the fast-growing village's employees through a wonderful process called zero-based budgeting. The WIBA podcast is 37 minutes.
Uh, Mike, I've got a county you could run.
BTW: Mikalsen is chief aide to State Rep. Steven Nass, R-Whitewater. Isthmus did this profile of Nass/Mikalsen two years ago. (Warning: it's got the usual liberal spin but at least does note that the UW gives plenty of ammo to critics. Why is the professional news media so sycophantic when the subject is the UW-Madison?)
Speed the (snow) plow
Turns out that Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, is introducing legislation to allow the State Department of Transportation to set the City of Madison's snow removal policies, given that the city doesn't take snow plowing all that seriously.
Over at Waxing Poetic, Mayor-for-Life Paul Soglin takes a page out of Saul Alinsky to argue for higher taxes, the liberal solution to all things. Havana Paul somehow manages to prioritize spending with schools leading the list, followed by a nod to the Green God Environment, leaving snow plowing only sixth, somewhere among "a myriad of other governmental functions."
Give credit to Soglin, however, for making these three indictments of City of Madison snow "removal" policies:
- After 1999, Madison did not increase the budget for snow removal commensurate with inflation and growth.
- The city retired plowing vehicles and did not replace them.
- The city adopted winter parking policies for the downtown which made it more difficult for plows to navigate narrow car-choked streets, driving up snow removal costs.
Brother Mike, who works downtown, tells of witnessing people getting behind cars trying to push them up East Washington Avenue toward the State Capitol this month. Isn't that absurd! But hey, at least we have a Regional Transit Authority!
Triumph of the government class
Government employees now outnumber those working in manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin for the first time ever.
Department of Workforce Development figures for November showed Wisconsin had 435,800 people employed in manufacturing and 438,200 government workers.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce calls it a "historic, dangerous trend in the Wisconsin workforce."
Health insurance 'reform' at work
The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it's a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.
.... Within six years, according to Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy. [New York Times: 12-28-2009]
Sen. Ben Nelson, call home -- The health care bill is currently very unpopular in Nebraska, according to the Rasmussen poll. Nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) oppose the legislation while just 17 percent approve.
Sen.Russ Feingold, call home -- Now, get this. A liberal front group called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- no doubt the 527 committee-progeny of McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" (snotty quotation marks) -- is launching a small ($20,000) television ad buy that urges Feingold to vote against any health care bill that does not include a public insurance option. Are we sure this isn't some very clever Republican attempt to sabotage the entire health care package? I'd like to think so!
You're doing a great job, Brownie!
Is this a game-changer? It certainly is a topic changer. Guess what, George W., America is talking again about the War on Terror. Michelle Malkin in Clown Alert, says that homeland security chief Janet Napolitano "caps off her horrible year by playing Big Pollyanna in the wake of the Flight 253. The botched bombing - foiled by a faulty detonator and brave passengers, not by homeland security bureaucrats or any preemptive measures by intel officials."
Meanwhile, Democrats on the hill are trying to make Republicans the fall guys for holding up confirmation of the Transportation Security Administration? The nominee, Erroll Southers, refuses to repudiate President Obama's pledge to unionize airport passenger screeners. What? Unionized screeners? You mean, they could go on strike?
Platinum Subscriber bonus material
You know U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen is on the endangered species list in a competitive district in what is shaping up to be a Republican election cycle whenever The Capital Times provides such transparent "cover" as this gem from my friend John Nichols: "Kagen was state's star in Congress in 2009." The CT has always operated what I call a "reverse clipping service." The opinion outlet publishes material like this knowing that the candidate will use it in his campaign literature.
Apropos of absolutely nothing, I am intrigued by one of Saturn's 61 -- yes, 61 -- moons, called Titan. Half again larger than our own moon, it is the only body in our solar system (other than Earth) with liquid on the surface. But not water, liquid methane. (!) Being smaller than earth, its gravity is less but it's atmosphere (largely nitrogen) is half again thicker than Earth's, meaning, Wikipedia claims, that humans could fly through it by flapping "wings" attached to their arms. What fun! [See the photograph taken by NASA's Cassini space probe]
Hey Kids! Catch the BlaskaBlogger's act on the Up Front show guest-hosted by Brian Schimming tomorrow, New Year's Eve, from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, WIBA 1310 AM.
For reprints of your favorite Blaska's Blogs send $20 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope c/o Isthmus.
At least the 72 virgins promised to would-be Christmas Day suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdul "Mutilated" Bob don't have to worry -- not just because Umar is a failed suicide murderer but also because of Umar's "Fire down below." You might say Umar ignored advice not to get his undies in a bundle.
Thanks to Fail Blog.