Archive for February, 2011

Wisconsin Politics

Sunday, February 27, 2011 9:00

It takes a lot for Wisconsin to make the news. We get two feet of snow, and the media doesn’t care. Meanwhile, New York gets a couple inches and it’s national news. But now, how could the politics of my little state not be a big story with what’s been going on? Last week, Governor Walker tried to get a “budget repair” bill passed, and the Democrats in the Senate fled the state so a vote couldn’t be taken. While state troopers began to look for them to bring them back to Madison for a vote, the Republicans in the Assembly approved the measure so quickly that many who opposed the bill didn’t get a chance to vote, because they couldn’t hit their button fast enough before the tally was closed. Oh, and did I mention that this happened at 1 in the morning?

It gets even more bizarre. In a taped conversation, an investigative reporter posing as the nation’s largest rightwing donor talked on the phone with Governor Walker for 20 minutes. Walker freely talked about trying to undermine unions, ways he could trick the Democrats, and even mentioned that he thought about planting some trouble makers among the protesters of his bill – to make them look bad. (Nevermind if someone gets hurt.)

The fact of the matter is, Governor Walker isn’t very bright, and he’s a poor leader. That’s why I voted against him for governor. Twice. He’s from my area, and he’s served in various capacities in southeastern Wisconsin for many years before running, and after I saw what he did here, there was no way I wanted this guy who never even graduated from college to be the leader of Wisconsin. So I voted against him in the primary. I then voted against him in the general election. But unfortunately, the polls count heads and not brains; and Walker’s promise to cut taxes – despite the fact that our state was already in a financial crisis – resonated with people who don’t understand state and local budgets and the need for the figures to balance. Unfortunately, instead of knowing where their tax money is actually going, most people divide tax money into two categories: stuff that impacts them personally and waste. And when Walker promised to balance the budget by cutting their taxes and cutting waste, they took the bait.

So now he wants to get rid of collective bargaining for public employees, except for their wages – which will be capped. That sounds good when the public employee is painted as a corrupt official who does nothing and sucks away tax dollars. But before Walker could get the bill passed, people realized public employees include teachers, nurses, and police officers. (Actually, the bill exempts police officers, as well as firefighters; Walker says this has nothing to do with the fact that their unions donated money to his campaign. Meanwhile, he doesn’t exempt other law enforcement officers, such as the people who do homicide investigations, so go figure that one out.)

The truth is, as an undistinguished state representative from a safe, wealthy Republican Milwaukee suburb, Walker did little but run relentlessly for higher office. He’s never had any interest in tackling real problems other than cutting taxes and spending.

Unfortunately (for Wisconsin,) in 2002 the Milwaukee County Executive – who was a Democrat – was caught in a big scandal. along with other county employees. Through clandestine manipulation of obscure pension fund formula, they voted to enrich themselves by millions each. Outraged voters recalled almost all of them – and elected Walker, who ran on the single promise to freeze taxes.

Parks deteriorated, bus routes disappeared, and county mental health programs became notorious for repeated abuse of patients. (Ironically, taxes meanwhile increased 35% during his eight years as Milwaukee county executive.)

Well, that sort of mismanagement is easy to get away with in a local community. But he’s finding out that it’s more difficult to do as Governor. You see, Walker is like a magician. He tries to get your attention with one hand while deceiving you with the other. Sure, you can fool the kiddies at the local county fair, but it’s not so easy doing it on a big stage under the bright lights.

The funny thing is, his supporters don’t seem to have realized how much damage he has done to his respectability, and they’re now claiming he’s a strong candidate for the Republican Presidential ticket in 2012. Apparently, these people think that it’s not only possible to be a Presidential contender without a college degree, but that you don’t need any union support to be nominated either – and no, backdoor deals with the police and firefighter unions don’t count.

Unless things change dramatically, I think Scott’s a one (term) and done governor. Thank God.

The Latest Hobbit in 5

Friday, February 25, 2011 7:24

Rebekah Platt is back with the latest Hobbit news, which includes video footage of the New Zealand quake.

Another New Zealand Earthquake

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 10:25

Christchurch was hit by another earthquake, killing dozens of people. It was a 6.3 on the Richter magnitude scale. The last one, in September, was a 7.1, but it didn’t cause any deaths, because it was farther away from where people live and work. Here’s the story:

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Bob on the Run

Friday, February 18, 2011 17:45

Well, this Wisconsin political situation is pretty big national news now. The Republicans have the votes to pass a bill to weaken the bargaining rights of public employees, but Democrats have fled the State Capitol, which doesn’t leave enough representatives to vote on the act. State law says that the Democrats can be forced to return to the Capitol to vote, but to do this, they must first be found.

So I actually received a phone call just now that said – I kid you not – “Have you seen State Senator Bob Wirch? (He’s my representative.) If so, notify the state patrol immediately. They have been authorized to bring him back to Madison to vote.”

Now I have this image of Bob being on the run, speeding away in his car, or maybe hiding away in basements like the old underground railroad days of slavery. Just think, my very own state senator now has street cred.

Hobbit in 5

Friday, February 18, 2011 6:40
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Rebekah Platt is back with her five minute Hobbit update:

HI-5 Behind the Scenes

Friday, February 11, 2011 21:04

I’m proud that my book reviews at were chosen to launch TORN TV; but nothing can compare to the phenomenon or Rebekah Platt, who is now doing a weekly five minute segment updating people on The Hobbit film production.

Here are some behind the scenes photos from the latest installment of “The Hobbit in 5”:

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Hobbit in 5

Friday, February 11, 2011 7:38

Here’s all the week’s Hobbit news in five minutes.

The Music of The Lord of the Rings

Thursday, February 10, 2011 19:20 has posted my latest video, a review of the book The Music of The Lord of the Rings by Doug Adams. Here it is:

Also, starting this week I’m going to start posting “The Hobbit in 5” videos, a weekly series from TORN television that gives you all the latest news on The Hobbit film production.

Super Bowl (photos)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 15:15

As a fan of the Green Bay Packers, Sunday was a special day for me that I’ll remember the rest of my life. Here are some photos I’d like to share:


Before the season began, I visited Indianapolis and Green Bay. Then I picked up not one, but two magazines that predicted the Indianapolis Colts would play Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl!

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The Blizzard (Photos)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 17:47

We got socked here with tons of snow, 50 mph winds, and now the temperature is dropping to sub zero (F) for the remainder of the week. On the plus side, our groundhog here didn’t see his shadow; then again, he couldn’t get out of his hole. Now that I’m all dug out, it’s been fun watching the local news. They showed footage of snowplows that have gotten stuck, (I guess you know it’s a bad storm when that happens), and they also showed a photo of a car which had its window open during the storm and was filled with the white stuff. Here are some of my photos, some of which include my gigantic dog who is dwarfed by the snow.

The Night of…


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Grey HR Line

U.S. Residents Can Now Purchase a signed copy of The Lord of the Films for $5

Or Purchase the Book From These Retailers:
Barnes & Noble | Powell's Books | Amazon: US | US Kindle | Canada | UK | UK Kindle

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