Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yogi Berra, R.I.P.

A great baseball player, coach, manager, icon,
patriot, and a real piece of Americana has gone to
glory. Yogi Berra, all-star catcher with the New
York Yankees in the twilight of their glory years,
passed away on September 22 at the age of 90.

Having spent my first eight years of life in my
native New Jersey, the early 1960s were the
tail-end years of the great Yankees baseball
dynasty when they were almost always in the
World Series, and everyone followed the Yankees.
Even people who were merely casual fans, or not
even baseball fans but still knew the Yankees were
a special team with a magic that no other team in
baseball --- or any other sport --- has ever possessed
before or since. And Yogi Berra was one of the
players who contributed to that magic. As a wee
lad, I was in the thrall of that team and its catcher.
The Yankees were my team, and Yogi was my
favorite Yankee --- and my favorite player in the
big leagues!

A true defensive stalwart behind the plate, Yogi was
just as effective at the plate, batting .285 while clouting
358 home runs during his 19 seasons playing the game.
He caught the only perfect game (no batter getting on
base by any means: hits, walks, dropped third strike, or
hit by a pitch) in World Series history, the rare gem pitched
by Don Larsen in the 1955 World Series against their then-
crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, a series that Yogi
and his teammates would go on to win. Yogi could beat you
with his glove or his bat, and usually beat opponents with

Yogi was known as much for his off-the-field exploits
as much as those during a game. His unique and humorous
way of stating things, be it a game, a season, the World Series,
a teammate, the weather, a popular restaurant, a movie,
his family, whatever or whoever. Some examples, which
have come to be known as "Yogi-isms":

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded!"
(Yogi remarked about Rigazzi's, a popular restaurant in
Saint Louis)

"It ain't over 'til it's over!"

"It's deja vu all over again!"
(Yogi exclaimed when teammates Mickey Mantle and
Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs in a game,
something that they did many times!)

"You can observe a lot by watching."

"Thank you for making this day necessary!"
(Yogi said to the crowd assembled at Yogi Berra Day,
held at Sportsman's Park in Saint Louis)

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"

"90% of the game (of baseball) is half-mental."

"Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they
won't go to yours."

There are so many more of these delightful malapropisms
and unintentional witticisms from the man, too many to
share here but can easily make a book, one of many

Born Lorenzo Pietro Berra in a mostly Italian Saint Louis,
Missouri neighorhood called "The Hill", on May 12, 1925,
his parents Italian immigrants to the United States.
Just across the street from his home lived childhood friend,
fellow baseball catcher, and fellow major league prospect
Joe Garagiola who would go on to play for the hometown
Cardinals, also playing in the World Series (1946). The two
were lifelong friends as well as baseball contemporaries.
A question: does anyone know of another case of two kids from
the same neighborhood, from the same street, both baseball
players playing the same position, both signed by major league
baseball teams? Imagine the odds!

Yogi, having signed with the Yankees, then interrupted his
baseball career to enlist in the U.S. Navy when WWII came
along, wanting to contribute to the war effort. He returned home
a decorated sailor and resumed his budding baseball career,
coming up through the minors to the Bronx Bombers themselves,
playing in 14 World Series, ten of which he and his teammates
won --- both are major league records for a single player.
Yogi was a class act on and off the field, never engaging in
any activity that would cast shame on himself or his team,
becoming the idol of many Little Leaguers and of baseball
fans of all ages. Yogi set many baseball records for a catcher,
and captured the attention, the imagination, and the fancy of
the country not just as a player but as a coach and as manager
for the Yankees and the crosstown Mets (leading both teams
to the World Series). Yogi was a coach for the 1969 "Amazing Mets"
who, after many successive seasons of losing, rose up to win
the National League East Division crown, sweep the Atlanta Braves
in the League playoff series, then whip the heavily favored
American League champion Baltimore Orioles in the World Series,
needing just five games to accomplish the feat. But through it all,
Yogi never let his success make his baseball cap size grow.
He remained humble and was ever thankful for his success,
including being thankful to all who helped develop him into
a premier catcher and ballplayer. Contrast Yogi to many of the
star athletes in sports today; also Yogi never took any "performance
enhancing" substances. He was a natural in the fullest sense of the
word! And along the way Yogi became a part of not only baseball
lore but of Americana, as a true American original.

The beloved Hannah Barbera cartoon character, Yogi Bear, was
named for Yogi Berra. This honor made Yogi Berra an even more
ingrained part of Americana.

So now the Yankee's great number 8, their standout catcher, their
inimitable star has joined the Angels (and I don't mean Anaheim!)
to hold a permanent spot on their roster. God couldn't have drafted
a finer ballplayer, nor a wittier fellow! Rest in peace, Yogi,
and thanks for all the fun!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Scott Walker Goes Home

Well, a few days after my post about Gov. Scott Walker's
difficulties on the campaign trail he officially left the
field. Indeed, his mistakes on the stump and what very
likely was bad advice from his advisors caused many
of the GOP faithful, as well as many conservative admirers
shy away from Walker, causing among other things his
campaign donations and funds to dissipate.

While this is a sad happenstance, Wisconsin will benefit
from his remaining our governor, continuing to work for
needed reforms in how our state government operates and
to help it to work for the good of us all rather than for just
a few entrenched interests with lots of cash and even more
belligerence. The Republican Party presidential candidates
who remain are, for the most part, solid conservatives who
can be trusted to restore restraint, competence, and
constitutional mindfulness to our federal government and
therefore will restore the faith and confidence in it that
people once had in it, before it was encouraged to run amok
by its stewards currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Welcome home, Governor Walker. The United States will yet
have sound leadership once again, and Wisconsin shall continue
to have same.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Changing of the Guard (For the Better!)

A sudden and wonderful development occurred just
yesterday; House Speaker John Boehner announced
that he is resigning from his position and from the House
of Representatives, effective October 30. We now have
an opportunity to get some genuine conservative leader-
ship in the House! A member of the House for 25 years,
Boehner ran and was elected to that chamber as a true
conservative and an outsider who would shake up the
way business was being done there, but over time became
more and more a part of the establishment scenery, while
as Speaker refused to challenge the Obama regime on
most issues before Washington while clamping down on
the more conservative members in his own caucus, especially
the Tea Party conservatives, when they demanded appro-
priate action on same. Boehner even removed some of them
from committee chairmanships as well as from key
committees as punishment. Sure, he was a tough guy with
his own, but was a lap dog with Obama and the Democrats!

These latest clashes Boehner had with his fellow GOP
members of the House were the nails in his political coffin.
He had refused to send a spending bill to President Obama
which would have defunded the country's largest abortion
provider, Planned Parenthood, fearing that an ensuing
government shutdown would hurt the Republicans more than
it would Obama and the Democrats. While likely so, he at
least could have offered an alternative strategy in its place
but did not.

After vowing to defund Obamacare, Boehner let Obama's
controversial health insurance program receive funding
after all., joining his Senate counterpart Sen. Mitch McConnell
in huffing and puffing but not exhaling any wind to blow down
Obama's scheme. Obamacare still rumbles along toward full
implementation without interruption from these two ineffectual
dodos. Boehner announced that the battle over Obamacare was
"over", despite unrelenting objections from individuals, families,
and conservatives to the horrid health plan.

On immigration, nothing of substance came from the House,
thanks largely to Boehner, who claimed that Obama had
"Poisoned the well" on the subject, claiming that the president
had made the issue "impossible to resolve". Well of course Obama
had poisoned the well! That is what he does in order to ensure that
A) he gets his way, and B) he makes the Republicans look like the
unreasonable, intractable ones. Boehner could have and should
have challenged him anyway but he just couldn't muster the
fortitude to do so, preferring to get along in the Beltway by simply
going along, not ruffling any feathers except those of his constituents
back home and those of conservatives across the land thirsting for
titanium-spined leadership in Washington to reverse Obama's

Boehner also voted to keep the authorization for the Export-Import
Bank, despite conservative opposition to keeping its doors open and
allowing the private sector to take over for financing businesses.

As far as stopping Obama's executive orders being substituted for
Congress' role in creating legislation, Boehner merely rolled over like
a puppy looking for a tummy rub, instead of using the House's power
of the purse to cut off funding.

It appears that Boehner cannot withstand further brickbats for his
sorry performance as Speaker of the House, so he is getting out of
Dodge. Your overjoyed Peasant says to him thus: Don't let the door
whack your backside on the way out!

Let us now urge the Republican majority in the House to choose a
REAL conservative, a REAL leader, to be Speaker!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another Great Year Together!

My friends, we are concluding another great year
to mark, examining the political and economic
news stories of the moment together! Six great
years of perusing and studying the people and
events which shape our communities, our
country, and our world. And your grateful
Peasant thanks you all for joining me on this
wonderful journey, in which we have plumbed
the depths of self-serving behavior, and explored
the heights of true public service, all shown by
our elected and appointed officials. We have
taken action to ensure that the nation's needs be met,
its best interests served, and that justice is upheld.
And we have recognized and commended those who
have acted in this praiseworthy manner, while
shining the light of scrutiny on those who have
acted in the interests of themselves and their cronies
rather than that of the people whom they are supposed
to serve, sending these slimy characters back under
the rocks from which they emerged.

These times we are living in demand that those who
care about our wonderful country both speak and act
to preserve our freedom, our prosperity, and our
way of life. And that's not all that's at stake; our
actions as a country impact the world as well. Our
allies have to be able to rely on us, along with the people
facing oppression and general hardship in their
respective lands. The United States has long been a
beacon of hope for the world, and with the current regime
in Washington there doesn't seem to be much cause for hope
from anyone at home or abroad.

We now must gear up for bringing about some REAL hope
and change for our country and the world in the coming year.
What we do here is to prepare ourselves to do what must be
done in order to be victorious in our quest. That, and to have
a bit of fun as well!

Here's to another fantastic year, and many more to come!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Up, Up, and ... ???

Well, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has entered the GOP
presidential fray. So far, he has made the rounds visiting
Iowa and New Hampshire, the states which respectively
host the first caucuses and primaries in the country in
presidential election years. The news of his candidacy
generated much excitement among the party faithful,
conservative independents, and Tea Party activists
around the country. Everyone wanted to see and hear
the governor with a titanium spine and fire in his belly
who stood up to organized labor and their allies in
creating true reform of his state's budget and giving
relief to stretched and beleaguered taxpayers, worn down
from having to pay ever-increasing state taxes to pay for
the ever-increasing pay and benefits of the public sector
union members. Many thought that here was a candidate
who would be an antidote to the excesses in taxation,
spending, and arrogant governance of President Obama.

Then that Scott Walker mysteriously disappeared; another
Scott Walker took his place, one that seems to be the
exact opposite of the first. This Scott Walker waffled on
some issues, including whether the government should
continue to subsidize and mandate the use of ethanol
for fuel (having called for ending this practice in
Wisconsin, but backed off when in Iowa, a major corn-
growing state); made a seemingly ludicrous statement
on immigration (proposed building a fence along the
border with Canada -- with the illegal entries being made
at our border with Mexico); and dodging some questions
(such as to whether he'll make changes to his campaign
staff in the light of the aforementioned missteps and
similar other errors). The Scott Walker that stared down
the unions and the rest of the left-wingers in Wisconsin
was replaced by a ducking and covering one.

What gives here?

Whereas Walker had counted on having routes to victory
in many states, he now has to work for one route in one
state: Iowa. And, his performance in the first two Repub-
lican candidates' debates, while not terrible, did not evoke
the Gov. Walker everyone heard and read so much about.
Outside of adroitly warding off Donald Trump's harassing
attacks in the second debate, scolding the billionaire butthead
for reciting "the Democrats' talking points (against him)"
while defending his state's fiscal performance during his
administration to date, the Badger State governor didn't
make much of an impact.

Some donors to his campaign are calling for the removal of
Walker's campaign manager, Rick Wiley, thinking him to
blame for Walkers' rudderless performance. Larry Sabato,
Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics,
opined "His donors --- and many of his voters --- are getting
antsy." Your concerned Peasant must here admit that I, too,
am getting antsy as well. Walker slid from being first or
second in the polls to fifth or lower. He needed a boost from
a strong performance in the second debate; his performance,
however, may not prove to be strong enough to rejuvenate
his campaign.

Stanley Hubbard, founder of the Minnesota-based media
corporation Hubbard Broadcasting, and a major donor to
Walker's campaign, stated recently "He has the right message.
He's smart. And I'd like to know why he's not breaking through."
So would a lot of other people. Eric Anton, a Walker donor and
financial bundler, while concerned, does not call for a shakeup
of Team Walker. "I don't get the sense that we're in a crisis mode,"
he said in a recent interview with The Capital Times, a major
state newspaper in Madison.

Then, too, Walker didn't get terribly much air time to share his
views and ideas in the second debate. According to National
Public Radio (NPR), a most politically liberal media organi-
zation, averred that their analysis of the debate revealed that
Walker received the least amount of air time of all eleven
candidates --- a paltry eight minutes and twenty-nine seconds.
CNN, another media outfit not known for its conservatism,
hosted the debate. Could CNN have been trying to undermine
a candidate that they felt could be a threat in the GOP race,
knowing that candidate's record as governor, successfully battling
an alliance of labor unions and their allies to institute sweeping
reform? That would, of course, have been out of Walker's and
his team's control.

But the aforementioned difficulties with his appearances and
interviews are completely within Team Walker's control.
The sooner they repair what needs repair, the sooner that Gov.
Walker can regain lost ground in the polls and lost confidence
in the Republican rank-and-file from around the country.
It would be not only a shame, but a tragedy if the gutsiest
governor in the land cannot regain his footing in his quest
to become our next president, and provide the courageous
leadership and reform that has benefited his state and would
do the same for the rest of the country at a time when both
are desperately needed.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The First Amendment Applies Online, Too!

There has been much talk about determining how
much leeway political speech, or at least that from
certain quarters, should have online. Some people
(mainly those to the left of center) think that conser-
vatives have too much of a presence in cyberspace,
and that regulations of some sort will guarantee
other voices (again, mainly lefties) will have 
supposedly equal access and forum for their views.
But consider the following:

Ten years ago, The Federal Election Commission (FEC)
pondered whether it should regulate political content
posted on the Internet. In 2006 the commission 
unanimously approved a rule which freed the great
majority of political commentary on the Internet from
governmental regulation. This rule, casually known as
the Internet Freedom Rule, exempted all political
commentary distributed online for free by citizens
and groups alike, whether in e-mail or on blogs,
websites, or social media websites such as Facebook,
Twitter, and such. The commission retained jurisdiction 
over just a few limited areas: political parties, political
campaigns, and political action committees, and all others
who posts electoral advocacy online for an advertising fee.

This rule empowered millions of citizens to speak widely
as bloggers (like your favorite Peasant!), podcasters, 
YouTube posters, and such, reaching a nationwide audience.
New political communities have been formed online.
Political speech flourished as a result, with the Internet
becoming the nation's town hall, if you will.

But liberals have begun to call for investigations of 
conservative groups for posting political videos on 
YouTube without first reporting them to the FEC. 
The commission voted to investigate one such group,
voting along party/ideological lines; the two Republicans
voted no, the two Democrats and the lone independent
voted yes. This case generated a wave of protest from
citizens wanting the Internet to remain unfettered
by regulation, with nearly 2,000 comments submitted 
to the FEC to that effect. 

The FEC should stick to their 2006 rule and expand 
Internet freedom, for the low cost of a personal computer
and a monthly connectivity charge, people can reach
millions of people. The Internet has been a force for 
democracy for modern journalism, enabling so many
people to become online publishers of opinions and
ideas. Furthermore, the FEC has no authority to regulate
political speech for the purpose of limiting same, except
for regard to large monetary contributions that have 
corruptive potential. Also, citizens have the right and 
the ability to seek the viewpoints that they want to hear from. 
Government should not be allowed to impose regulatory 
hurdles to the ability to access these viewpoints. This would,
of course, fly in the face of the First Amendment.

Finally, the FEC would have no effective means of 
monitoring the Internet to find posts meriting its investigative
eye. And that is a good thing, lest the dread chill of govern-
mental presence be at the backs of all those who wish to
share political ideas and opinions. This is what happens
in countries with totalitarian governments. And for this reason
alone FEC regulation of content on the Internet, to the degree 
which some in our country would like to see, should never
be implemented nor encouraged.

If we are to remain a free country, we must foster and maintain
open channels of communication. To do anything to the contrary 
would undermine one of our most important freedoms: freedom
of speech. 


Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Which Side is the Grass Greener?

Your favorite Peasant has a running battle, a friendly one
mind, going with a friend from my days in Minnesota
where I attended college and lived for twenty years
after my four years at the University of Saint Thomas
in Saint Paul. My friend, who still lives there, needles me
with articles which compare my Wisconsin, my once and
again home state with Minnesota on subjects such as
business climate, economy, quality of life, and so forth.
I came home to Wisconsin because, most of all, I missed
the warmth and genuineness of the people in the Badger State.
Besides, the people here, except for Madison and some
Milwaukee neighborhoods, are not reflexively politically
liberal --- that is to say that they are not knee-jerk about
their politics, unlike more than a few Minnesotans I have met.
I'm talking about a state that has gone Republican just once
in the presidential elections since 1932, almost three-quarters
of a century!

Anyway, I came across a recent guest editorial piece in the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week, written by Kurt R.
Bauer, President and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers &
Commerce. This gentleman pointed out the contrasts in the
economies of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and how each state
compares as a result. Bauer states that it is far too early to
tell how effective Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker's business-
friendly reforms have impacted the state's long-term economic
competitiveness. Bauer did state, however, that Walker was
hampered greatly in his first term by the left-wing protests
and the recall election that took place just two years after
first being elected.

But many indicators are optimistic on Wisconsin's future
economic prospects. Business optimism is very high, and
many leading rankings on economic outlook as well as
business climate have improved greatly since Walker took
office in 2011, taking over from a spendthrift Democrat
governor who even raided the state transportation fund
to spend that money on programs unrelated to transportation.
By comparison, Minnesota has not fared quite as well in
these rankings.

Now, Bauer does aver that Wisconsin does trail the North
Star State in some economic metrics; Minnesota has more
corporate headquarters, higher per capita income, a lower
unemployment rate, and a better educated population. But
the last measure is largely due to the fact that the Twin Cities
(Saint Paul and Minneapolis) were not part of the Great
Migration of people moving up from the south to get work
in the factories. Milwaukee, Beloit, and Racine, Bauer states,
were adversely affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs
in the 1970s and '80s when those jobs went overseas, and many
of the people left behind never made it back to the same
economic footing that they had when they had these jobs.
This phenomenon was not as prevalent in Minnesota.

Also, those well-schooled in technology (read: computers) and
in finance have largely chosen Minnesota over Wisconsin as
their career destinations, hence the edge Minnesota has over
my Badger State in education (your studious Peasant's
observation). However, the overall quality of education in the
colleges and universities in each state are running neck-and-neck.
Bauer also notes that the Twin Cities are a big draw for these
young and budding professionals in his article.

However, Wisconsin has a definite advantage over their western
neighbor in that it has a fully funded state employment pension
fund. Also, Wisconsin's taxes are declining while Minnesota
Gov. Mark Dayton, a stoutly liberal Democrat, has taxes on the
rise in his state. Moreover, Dayton has increased the costs of
doing business in Minnesota while Walker has taken same in
the opposite direction in Wisconsin. Furthermore, when
Wisconsin recently became a right-to-work state, that left
Minnesota surrounded on three sides by states considered by
business observers as being more business-friendly, making
Minnesota stand out in a negative way.

A note to my friend, who is also an avid reader of this blog:
Wisconsin's improving business climate will lead to a better
economy for Wisconsin. My state realizes this truth and is
acting upon it. Minnesota seems to not be cognizant of the
benefits of making itself more business-friendly, and that is
to its peril. You may want to begin looking at the online
versions of my state's newspapers' jobs sections and circle
some leads!