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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Separation of Church & State?

Quality of Life, U.S., Political

I am not Catholic but I am outraged over the application of PPACA (a/k/a ObamaCare) that has caused the government to determine that all Catholic institutions and health care facilities are no longer going to be able to observe their historical requirements to oppose abortions.  Their policies and health care plans will have to be changed to permit abortions.

This is the way the Obama Administration intends to enforce the rules behind PPACA.  Out of the government's graciousness, however, the church and related organizations will be granted another year in which to make all this happen.

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Village Buzz - February 2nd

Germantown, Education, School Board, Taxes, Quality of Life, Village Buzz

I read of the Milwaukee School Board's refusal to permit the food service work to be outsourced in spite of the fact that these union employees were being favored with "fringe" benefits equal to an additional105.8% of their compensation.  That is right; if they are earning $10 per hour (and I feel certain that is way too low but it is easy for comparison purposes), their benefits are costing another $10.58 per hour for a total of $20.58 per hour.

I made inquiry of the Germantown School District office and was pleased to learn that we are not saddled with anything like that example.  Our District has 3 full time union employees receiving full benefits.  They receive about 35% in fringe benefits.  We have 11 part time union employees receiving partial benefits that cost about 8% of their salary.  We have 19 part time non-union employees whose cost is some 6% for fringe benefits, and we have 12  part time non-union employees who work a few hours daily who receive no benefits.  All compensation and benefits costs for these employees are covered by food service revenue.

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Christian Economic Policies

U.S., Political, Quality of Life

President Obama spoke to the assemblage at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday.  He spoke of his economic policies as having come from his Christian faith and cited the passage "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required" as he dicussed his effort to increase taxes on "the rich", in order to provide more for "the poor".  This has caused a lot of discussion and one of the themes has been that of the cynics who wonder if this relatively new approach from the President is part of his differentiation of himself from the likely opposition candidate in the coming election, the Morman, Mitt Romney.

Another group of cynics question if the President is really a practicing member of the Christian faith or if this is simply his effort to attract another voting block for the Fall.

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Venue Shopping & GAB

Wisconsin, Political, Quality of Life, People Making A Difference

It was no surprise to see the Court of Appeals render its decision to vacate the decision of Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge J. Mac Davis.  The Davis decision, of course, was the one in which he chided the GAB and said it needed to be more aggressive in its role of reviewing recall petition signatures.

This decision made it clear that the Appeals Court judges felt Davis erred when he didn't permit the recall committee to intervene in the proceedings.  Davis seemed to say that the press of time made that impractical.  There is no secret that Dane County-based courts seem more liberal in their decisions than do the courts in Waukesha County.  One is home to arguably the most liberal voters in Wisconsin while the other is often cited as the most conservative county in our state.

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What If?

U.S., Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Economy, Employment

What if Newt Gingrich would not continue his slash and burn attacks on Mitt Romney?  What if Newt would put the need to remove President Obama from office above his personal, and seemingly petty, needs (compared to the public's needs)?  Would that make a difference in the polls that now seem to indicate Obama could beat Romney in the Fall elections?

What if Rick Santorum shows strongly in both Minnesota and Missouri which he seems to have a shot at doing?  What would happen to the wind in Romney's sails if he placed second to Santorum in one or both of those states?  Would that also elevate Gingrich again, and if it didn't would that mean Gingrich was done?

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GAB Slow Walking?

Wisconsin, Political, Quality of Life

Just when you think it isn't possible for the GAB to continue to be in the press, it makes some decision or announcement that propels it back into the news.  That is sort of the "gift that keeps on giving" from a talk show host's or a blogger's perspective.

The latest, but certainly not last, instance comes as the GAB Executive Director, Kevin Kennedy, opined that he believed the Board cannot accept challenges from outside groups that are not directly involved in the election or that are not part of his organization.  This of course would eliminate any challenges being brought by one or other of the 'Tea Party' groups that are creating full searchable data bases.  Interestingly, the data bases to be created by the GAB (which have yet to be begun) will apparently only include names.  No addresses would be included.  The GAB is looking at optical character recognition software that would digitize the names.

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Bits & Pieces - February 8th

Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, Potpourri, Wisconsin, People Making A Difference

G'town Boys Nationally Ranked...

I had to look it up to be sure, but our Germantown Boys Varsity hoops team was ranked 7TH IN THE NATION YESTERDAY!   If you 'Google' Massey computer rankings, you'll find a national map with clickable links that'll take you there.

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Candidate Veto Pledge?

Wisconsin, Taxes, Political, Quality of Life

It is interesting to see the very open, and some would say blatant, attempt by major unions in Wisconsin to hand-pick their candidate to go against Scott Walker in the almost certain recall election to come.  It is very simple really; either you pledge to veto any budget that doesn't restore full union rights or you run the state without a new budget.  There is no inbetween; no 'ifs, ands or buts' as it were.

Very clear cut.  No doubts would exist under this pledge.  To their credit, no potential Democrat candidates for Governor have agreed to this demand with the exception of one...Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County Executive.  She enthusiastically accepted this demand and proceeded to travel the state to appear with union bosses announcing her candidacy.

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Obama & Birth Control Point To Bigger Issue

U.S., Quality of Life, Healthcare, Political

President Obama announced this morning that he is backing away from the controversial birth control mandate for Catholic organizations.  He is trying to make this go away and claims this isn't an accommodation.  The practice of insurance companies eliminating contraception coverage for Catholic entities has been here for a long time.  This isn't a new directive from the President much as he'd like us to think that is the case.

The long and the short is...the President bit off more than he could chew and is backing down while trying to paint this as something other than a full retreat.

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Three Score & Ten

Quality of Life, People Making A Difference, Potpourri

I have reached another milestone on the pathway of life; three score and ten has arrived on the scene.  I feel almost the same as I did at two score and ten but not quite so frisky as at one score and ten.  I have been blessed by my Lord with so far excellent health and neary full faculties (since there are those who might question that last item).

I am surrounded by a loving wife and family as well as extended family, and am enjoying watching grandchildren mature into young men even as I worry about the world we are leaving to them and to their children to come.

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Simple Hope

People Making A Difference, Quality of Life

"Simple Hope" is a simple name yet it conveys meaning to many people who have been exposed to it.  Simple Hope is the result of two people whom I know doing something about a need they have witnessed during their trips to Tanzania.  You can view more information and make donations, if you choose, by visiting their website here.

The two ladies who are intent on making a difference are Karen Puhl and Pam Schwalbach, both of whom are members of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Hubertus.  That website is found here.

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Typical Government Program

U.S., Political, Quality of Life, Healthcare, Economy

The Federal agencies involved have just released the final regulations that govern how the simplified Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for PPACA must be written and displayed.  This is a small part of the PPACA  bill (aka ObamaCare) that covered some 2,100 pages without really saying anything in detail about that program.  All the detail is now being formulated by the agencies, all of which are unelected and therefore beyond the public's reach so far as expressing displeasure.

The SBC will be either 6 pages or 8 pages in length (both have been cited in recent press releases).

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Romney vs. Santorum

Political, U.S., Quality of Life, Economy

I meet every other week with a group of men in a Bible Study group and breakfast usually follows.  Those breakfasts often get to political discussions since there are some very strong thoughts in this group that has some quite-active Republican members.  That discussion this morning centered on Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney and the relative standing of each in the polls and in public opinion.

There was a mixed reaction in that several felt Mitt Romney would 'unleash the dogs' and bury Santorum in short order.  Others felt that Santorum would continue to gain support and might well find more money flowing with which he could mount an effective counter-strategy.  Notice that I use "feelings" rather than another term to describe this.  This is an emotional subject that elicits feelings.

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Stagnant Governments

Political, Quality of Life

While I complain about this subject, another part of me knows we may well be better off as the result.

My complaint is about governments and their seeming inability to do anything once we decided who will be convening from each party.  That is apparent at both the state and national levels.

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Catholics & ObamaCare

U.S., Political, Quality of Life, People Making A Difference

The kerfluffle between the Catholic Church and its Bishops and President Obama over his attempt to make Catholic organizations pay for birth control and certain forms of abortion in direct confrontation to their beliefs has more miles ahead of it before it has been resolved.

The President recognized that he had stepped in it big time and made a hasty announcement that he said resolved the issue.  He decreed that insurance companies would pay for the drugs and the Catholic organizations wouldn't have to pay, thus keeping them happy and letting their employees have birth control and drug-induced abortions.

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CARDINAL Dolan

Potpourri, People Making A Difference, Quality of Life

It is official. It is now Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  I am now able to say that I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a man who is a Cardinal.  And a pleasure it was.

Several years ago the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters, of which I am a member, held a meeting at The Pfister Hotel and now- Cardinal Dolan was invited to say a prayer as we prepared to sit for the luncheon portion of our meeting.  He strode into the Ballroom and there was an almost immediate sense of his presence; he had that 'aura' about him coupled with a big smile and a welcoming demeanor as he went to each table and met those who were seated there.

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A Thousand Words

U.S., Political, Economy

Hospice Care Pioneer

People Making A Difference, Quality of Life, Potpourri, Healthcare

I know it is probably a strange thing to do, but I read the obituaries every morning.  In today's morning Journal Sentinel, I saw the obituary for William Lamers, Jr. who died at the age of 80 in his home in Malibu.  The obituary stated that he was surrounded by family and friends.

Mr. Lamers was trained as a Psychiatrist and graduated from the Marquette University School of Medicine in 1958.  He helped start one of the first hospice programs after a friend of his told him, "I'm not sick, I'm only dying", in response to being refused permission to leave the hospital and go home to die.  Lamers would watch over several hundred deaths over the years in which he was active.

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The Co-Sleeping 'Epidemic'

Quality of Life, People Making A Difference, Political

Two more infants have died in co-sleeping incidents and Milwaukee's Mayor Barrett is frustrated and saddened and has difficulty understanding why people don't listen.  These deaths are preventable if people would just listen, but they aren't listening to him.

Co-sleeping deaths are confined to the inner-city of Milwaukee.  A 2-month-old boy was found dead after being in bed with several people and with his 3-year-old brother lying on top of him.  A 4-month-old girl was found dead in bed with her mother who admitted that she had consumed three beers a few hours earlier.  This is just what inner-city people do apparently; this is the way inner-city families are forced to live.  We've heard all the excuses, all the 'reasons' why this is so difficult to control.

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Election Thoughts

Education, Germantown, People Making A Difference, Political, Quality of Life, School Board

Sheboygan voters decided they wanted to end the saga with their current mayor and turn a new page.  To his credit, the mayor stated that he had now been sober for 200 days, but the damage was done.  I hope he will continue to be sober.

# # # # #

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Circular Firing Squads

U.S., Political, Economy, Quality of Life

The last, I hope, Republican Presidential candidate debate was televised last evening.  I watched a good portion of it after returning home late in the evening.  First, I thought that John King of CNN did a decent job of spreading time around and of staging the questions.

Happy Newt was on the stage last night.  Scrappy Paul was there as usual playing to his diehard groupies.  Rising Santorum was the guy with the target squarely on his back and Rambunctious Romney was trying to get his best shots in to slow Santorum down.

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Braun-Ball

Potpourri, Quality of Life, People Making A Difference

The decision finally has been made, and now we can get on with the baseball season...or can we?

Ryan Braun won his battle to remain an active player in the Major Leagues since the MLB inquiry into the possibilities of Braun's use of enhancement drugs has been settled in his favor with a two-to-one arbitration decision in his case.  You will recall, no doubt, that his testosterone levels were supposedly off the chart in a random testing instance during the past season.  He had maintained his innocence but there had never been a MLB player who won his appeal after being hit with a suspension edict.

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Will The Lines Remain As Drawn?

Wisconsin, Political, Quality of Life

There is a phrase that comes to mind as the re-districting case winds its way through the courts:  "to the victor go the spoils".

That is a bit crude when we are dealing with elections, although there is another phrase that comes to mind:  "politics is a blood sport".  We see that being proved again in the national races that are currently being 'enjoyed'.

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The White House, Health Care & Old Folks

U.S., Political, Quality of Life, Healthcare, Economy

There is little secret that this White House wants to control virtually everything about our lives.  Health care, of course, has been the big target since PPACA (a/k/a ObamaCare) was passed in the dead of night.

Recently another of the 'plans' for this take-over has become public, and that involves the White House's desire to add a fifteen percent (15%) tax on top of the premiums seniors pay for Medicare Supplement insurance coverage.  If you pay a monthly premium of $200 for a Medicare Supplement policy, that would become $230.

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Obama Budget Magic

U.S., Taxes, Economy, Political

President Obama has published his version of a 2013 budget, even though his Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to do the same since they haven't for well over 1,000 days in spite of the requirement they do so.

The President's budget, among  other things, brings with it a very significant increase in the tax on corporate dividends as reported yesterday by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).  Today's rate is 15% just as a benchmark for what you're about to read.

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MATC Board Unaware of Need for Audits?

Education, MATC, Taxes

As the saga of the MATC employee and her use of an MATC credit card for personal purposes continues to unfold, the revelation that no audits had been performed for a decade is astounding.  John Williams, the new VP of Finance at MATC, who came on board in July, 2010, ordered a routine audit soon after making that discovery.  That audit resulted in the discovery of the theft that had been routine for seven years.  The audit found that the woman accused is suspected of running up more than $10,000 per MONTH in illegal charges.

The now-retired former VP of Finance at MATC at the time was Michael Sargent.  I wonder why he hadn't insisted on a routine audit during that entire period of time?  Where was the Board of Directors whose job was oversight?  Who was supposed to be looking over Sargent's shoulder?  These are questions that may never be answered because they probably will never be asked by the right people of those who had these responsibilities.

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