All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Monday, June 29, 2009

Eagle Scout Project Blood Drive: June 30th, 2:30 - 7pm

This Tuesday, on June 30th, a young man in my neighborhood is organizing a Blood Drive as part of his Eagle Scout project for the Boy Scouts. It is being held from 2:30 to 7pm, at Elmbrook Church. (777 South Barker Road, Brookfield, 262-786-7051)

Giving blood is certainly a worthy cause and according to the flier he distributed in my area, "donating 1 pint can save 3 lives!"

You might feel that you have already donated if you have been in some mosquito infested areas of the city, but unlike that type of donating, this opportunity offers a sweet return: Blood donors will receive a coupon from the Culvers on Hwy 100 for a free custard cone!

During the summer, blood donations are often down. So rather than just giving to the mosquitoes, why not give at the blood drive and help save 3 lives?

To fulfill the Eagle Scout requirements, a good turnout is needed. In addition, a certain percentage of donors need to be first time donors. So if you have never given blood before, maybe knowing you will be helping your fellow man and a Boy Scout make Eagle Scout would serve as added incentives?

Child care is available for blood donors and I am told "there will be plenty free food" available too.

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Popeye Pizza a.k.a. Quick Spinach Pizzas

These little pizzas were inspired by a spinach pizza, dubbed "Popeye Pizza" that Jacks Pizza used to make about 20 years ago. I gave Popeye a Greek flair by adding the Feta and Kalamata olives. The pizzas are so easy to make, they hardly qualify as needing a recipe--they're more like assembling than cooking. But they are tasty just the same. Add a nice tossed salad and you have dinner.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Gather ingredients

  • Tortilla or pita bread: white, whole wheat or herb flavor - at least 1 per person
  • Tomato spaghetti sauce, I use my own home made, but a favorite jar variety would be OK too
  • Thawed frozen spinach, squeeze out excess liquid - a 9oz pkg is plenty for 3 - 6 pizzas
  • Diced or crumbled feta cheese
  • Grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Fontinella cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese chunks, a few cut up cheese sticks will do, or pieces of Provolone cheese slices work too
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Kalamata, Greek, or ripe black olives, halved and pits removed


  • Spray cookie sheet with PAM (or sheets depending on how many you make)
  • Arrange the tortillas or pitas on the sheets. It is OK if they touch each other a little
  • Spoon sauce on tortilla or pita and spread around until it is evenly distributed
  • Sprinkle the spinach on, you kind of have to pull it apart so it is even
  • Sprinkle on the Feta, Italian, and Cheddar cheese to taste
  • Add the split olives

Bake 10 to 15 minutes and then enjoy!

These can be used for lunch, a quick supper, or even cut into little pizza wedges for an appetizer.

Any pizza topping could be added such as mushrooms, roasted red peppers, cooked Italian sausage slices, grilled onions, etc. I just use the above mentioned ingredients because they are readily available in my larder.

You too can be "Strong to the finich" 'cuz you eats your spinach!

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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If ever there was a reason to grill out, Sunday was it, for June 21st marked both the official 1st day of summer and Father's Day. It also marked my 1st full meal prepared outdoors.

In honor of Father's Day, I made grilled marinated hanger* steak, chicken, red and green peppers, Vidalia onions, plum tomatoes, and mushrooms. Along with that I served Asian cabbage salad and fried mixed brown and wild rice. I think we all thought it quite tasty.

I have made this marinade for years and used it in grilling beef, chicken and veggies. It is quite simple and is made from ingredients you probably have on hand. The original recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury of Cooking.

MARINADE: Mix all ingredients in a pint size jar.
1/2 Cup oil. I use olive oil.
1/4 Cup lemon juice. You could use fresh, but bottled works fine too.
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce, I use Lea & Perrins
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard. My favorite is Plochman's Premium Natural Stone Ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove of garlic, minced

Put the lid on the jar and shake until mixed. It is best to marinade the meat either the night before or the morning of your grill out. To cut down on grilling time, I prefer to pre-cook the chicken by simmering for around 1/2 hour, depending on the size of the pieces. The beef I marinate raw. I put the beef in a separate Zip-Lock bag from the chicken and poured about 1/3 of the marinade in each bag. Zip shut. Keep the meat bags refrigerated until grilling time and don't forget to rotate the bags several times during the marinading process to evenly distribute the flavors.

I also pre-bake the onion halves because I like the onions well cooked. I just peel, cut in half, and place in a baking pan with a little olive oil. Bake at 350 until they start to soften. After they are cooled, I skewer, put in a plastic bag, and refrigerate.

Keep the remaining marinade in the closed jar refrigerated until grill time.

The steak took about 8 minutes on each side. It was cut in 2 inch by 10 inch strips, and I grilled it just like that. You can use the remaining marinade juices to baste the meat when you first put it on the grill. Don't use any of the marinade containing raw meat juice after your first basting.

The jarred marinade may be used on the vegetables--don't forget to use a separate brush.

This was enough marinade to serve 4-6 people. I marinated about 2 1/2 pounds of steak and 1 pound of chicken and still had some to baste the veggies while grilling. (We had lots of left-overs, yum.)

I have used sirloin roast, which is often less expensive than sirloin steak, and chuck steak too. The lemon in the marinade tenderizes the meat, I believe.

*I purchased the hanger steak from Sendiks in Elm Grove. It came already marinaded in au jus juice, then I added my marinade. The hanger steak was very tender and at $4.99 / pound on sale, not a bad price considering there was no waste. The butcher told me it was from a cut next to the T-bone. It looks a lot like flank steak. (They also had it with a teriyaki marinade, but we thought it too sweet.)

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Gasp, was that the BIG 40?

Oh, my goodness. I just had the BIG 40! Not 40th birthday, that is long gone, I am talking about high school graduation. Things have changed since 1969.

Here are some photos that made me smile and a few observations.

Graduation in 1969: Held in a school where we could pray.
Graduation in 2009: Held in a church where they couldn't pray!

Notice the 3rd item on the graduation program was the INVOCATION.

Granted our Class President botched this majorly. Rumor had it, there was possibly a little too much celebratory tippling before the ceremony? Regardless of how it was executed, a call for God's blessing on the class was considered to be an important part of the event by the graduation planners.

Other things have changed since 1969. Notice how we looked on our Senior Class trip to Washington DC; we all looked like proper ladies and gentlemen. The girls were all in skirts or dresses and boys wore sport coats and ties on our trip.

I remember the trip as being very enjoyable. We visited the major sites in Washington DC (Arlington and Supreme Court pictured) and spent a few days in New York City--all for around $250, if memory serves correctly. (We flew on a charter prop-jet.)

But whether on a class trip or at school, girls did not try to emulate the clothing style of women of ill repute or the likes of Britney Spears, as they do today. Sure, some pushed the envelope of how short a hem length could be worn, but the harlot/hooker look was not embraced by the mainstream.

Pants of any kind were not allowed for girls in school ever--not even on sub-zero days. (This was in the pre-pantyhose era! Brrr.)

Shorts were never allowed at school for anyone, except on one day in the spring. Our Student Council was granted special permission to hold a fundraiser: Bermuda Shorts Day. Students could wear Bermuda shorts (nearly to the knee) to school for that one designated day--IF they purchased a ticket for 25-cents!

There was no HG&D curriculum as we know it today and with the exception of biology and one special assembly, nothing was presented in a co-ed context. There was a series of Civil Defense emergency first aid movies that ended with how to deliver a baby. (This was still the Cold War-we-could-be-nuked-at-any-moment era.) These were presented during segregated gym class time. In 9th grade co-ed Biology class, reproduction was presented but in a very clinical way--mainly dealing with the development of the embryo and not with the process leading up to conception.

Were there problems with underage drinking, illegal drugs, and premarital sex? Sure, but it was not as prevalent or overt as it is today. At the time, I was only vaguely aware some students did those things. Certainly no one would have ever thought about sending nude photos of themselves to anyone!

We did not spend years agonizing or studying for the ACT or SAT tests. As I recall, one Saturday, we just went over to UWM and took the ACT. That was it. Not all the pressure kids have today.

Forty years ago, quality family time was still a major component of daily life. Moms still cooked; families still ate dinner together without the kids surfing the net or texting on the cell phone at the table. Students did not go out much on school nights, nor were they so over scheduled that they did not have time to just be a kid.

The era of 1969 was also the era of apathy, and that has not changed. What did our class do for it's big 40? Nothing special that I know of.

We have made great progress in many ways. In other ways, such as the eroding of quality family time and over sexing of our young people, things were better 4 decades ago. What will the next 10 years bring?

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ped o philes a protected group under Hate Crimes S.909? Call Senators!

Believe it or not, 30 sexual orientations, including ped o phelia (spacing done to avoid google search) will be protected under the new Hate Crime law, S. 909. The list is posted on American Family Associations web page. I don't care to go into describing these, as most are too disgusting, but 2nd on the list seems to be the dangerous practice actor David Carrnadine might have been involved with when he was found dead in the closet.

The list was taken from the "'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders', which is used by physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and psychiatrists throughout the U.S. It is considered the dictionary of mental disorders."

The disturbing thing is that all of these 30 perversions were deemed as needing special protection under the Hate Crimes laws by those crafting the bill in the Senate.

I believe all crime is a hate crime. A person doesn't murder someone or beat them up because they admire them. So why do we need special sentencing if the victim is one of these 30 sexual orientations? The United States already has laws in place to "punish violent crime."

The AFA cited this example, given by Rep. Gohmert, of how this legislation, if passed, could impact us. "If a mother hears that their child has been raped, and she slaps the assailant with her purse, she is now gone after as a hate criminal because this is a protected class," said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas."

The other result of this bill would be to halt any opposition to homosexuality. "If the legislation passes, pastors could be prosecuted under the federal inducement statute for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. For example, a person could commit an act of violence against a homosexual individual and blame it on the pastor's sermon. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad." I have heard this is already the case in Canada.

The US Senate is to vote on S. 909 any time. We need to contact our 2 Senators about voting against it. Need talking points? Herb Kohl 202 224-5653 and Russ Feingold 202 224-5323.

Read more about it: Next on Senate agenda? 'Ped o phile Protection Act' Hate crimes' law definitions would protect 547 sex 'phil ias'

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Only the religion of Global Warming, Humanism, Evolution is allowed on PBS

PBS just announced they will not allow any new religious programing on their airwaves. Reason? Separation of Church & Stations!

Actually, this ruling was a compromise. At first the PBS board recommended that stations currently running sectarian religious programs would have their PBS affiliation severed if they did not drop that programming.

"The Public Broadcasting Service's board is to vote next month on a committee's recommendation to strip the affiliation of any station that carries "sectarian" content. Losing its PBS relationship would mean that a station could no longer broadcast programs that the service distributes, from 'Sesame Street' to 'Frontline'."

The board decided instead to allow present programming to continue but will prohibit new programming. Result? PBS [will] Begin Phasing Out Religious Programming From Airwaves.

Sadly, there was no need to make this change. "Federal law does not bar showing the services on public television, but PBS worries that the broadcasts have the appearance of an official endorsement from the network."

"Allowing such programming to air 'would cause the public's trust in PBS to erode, along with the value of the brand,' argued its Stations Services Committee, according to a report in the Current."

This is a stretch, but since PBS receives taxpayer support, the director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State reasoned that "you have taxpayers directly or indirectly subsidizing evangelism."

Of course no one ever worries that taxpayers directly or indirectly subsidize or endorse the religion of Global Warming, Humanism, or Evolution based programs so prevalent on PBS. It is OK to promote anti-Christian programming at taxpayer expense but not pro-Judeo-Christian programming?

Programming about religious topics is still allowed, but often I have found the majority of these programs have an anti-Christian bias.

Jay Weber talked about the PBS ruling this morning on his radio show. He reasoned that since many of these shows are available on Cable TV, why continue taxpayer funding of PBS?

I used to enjoy watching PBS programming such as This Old House, The Woodwright's Shop, Victory Garden, American Experience, etc. We don't have Cable TV, but I am willing to give up those favorites to end taxpayer funding of programming I do not support. How about you?

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ABC to promote Govt. Healthcare from the White House

Remember when we used to joke that CNN stood for the Clinton News Network?

Well, ABC is certainly following suit and dialing it up a few notches to boot. ABC news will be broadcasting from the White House with a primetime special, "Prescription for America." Do we dub ABC as the All Barack Channel? How about Adoring Barack Cheerleaders? You can probably come up with your own nicknames.

Anyway, here is ABC's newest joint venture with President Obama:

"On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care -- a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!"

Unlike real prescription advertising, that must also include a long list of possible detrimental side effects, Charlie Gibson's Govt. Health Care "Prescription" promo will NOT include any opposing voices or side effects.

The Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay wrote a complaint letter to ABC. Here are some excerpts:

"As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC's astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.

In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers...Respectfully, Ken McKay"

Now, keep in mind, the Democrats are the ones pushing for the "Fairness Doctrine" type media reforms to ensure equal time for both points of view on your radio and possibly the internet, yet for TV network news coverage, this doesn't seem to be a problem.

The Drudge Report posted this as a banner developing story, so that is all for right now. Stay tuned!

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Will Jim Sullivan recall effort affect his vote on $62.2 billion state budget?

We have all heard about the Jim Doyle recall effort, but there is another Recall Jim effort afoot: The Recall of State Senator Jim Sullivan! I am wondering if this attempt to recall Jim will have any affect on Sullivan voting for the $62.2 billion dollar budget that just went to the Senate?

My impression of Senator Sullivan at his recent Town Hall meeting was that it will not. He did not seem open to any of our opinions against the RTA, Voter ID amendment, Abortion, State budget deficit, etc. at that Town Hall meeting. But if he hears from enough of his constituents, who knows? A 1.2% margin of victory was hardly a mandate. The Republican Party has targeted him

Because his margin of victory was slim against conservative Republican Tom Reynolds back in 2006, 658 votes or 1.2%, I do wonder how Mr. Sullivan would fare in a recall?

Since being elected in 2006, Sullivan voted against the Voter ID amendment and supported the smoking ban. He also supports the RTA under certain conditions and he recently voted to approve 2 pro late-term abortion board members for the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board. Has he disappointed more than 1.2% of those independent and Democrat voters who voted for him with his positions?

More to the point is who would run against him? Then the question becomes would you rather have someone like Rep. Leah Vukmir or even Tom Reynolds back than allow Sullivan to finish his 4 year term? (I would be happy with any conservative.)

In any event, contact Sen. Sullivan if he is your Senator. You might remind Sen. Jim Sullivan that people will be watching his vote on this budget and that some people are looking at recalling a Jim... Jim Sullivan!

Wisconsin 5th District Senator Jim Sullivan (D): (608) 266-2512, (866) 817-6061, Email:

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Rep. Leah Vukmir's Budget Update: Assembly passes budget

The Democrat controlled Assembly passed Wisconsin's budget, with a 50 - 48 vote (big sigh), at 5:20 AM on Saturday. Voting pretty much ran along party lines, with the exception of 2 Democrats joining all of the Republicans in voting NO.

My State Assembly Representative Leah Vukmir sent me her report on the budget session and vote. (Contact Rep. Vukmir if you wish to be added to her email alert list.) Republicans were able to make a few changes, but most of the bloated budget passed and is now heading to the State Senate. She urges, as do I, that you contact your State Senator and the Senate Majority Leader, Russ Decker, "and let them know how you feel." (Contact info at bottom of post.)

Here is the "Good News" according to Rep. Vukmir's report: (My emphasis throughout)
  • They agreed to drop the Joint and Several liability provisions from the budget.
  • The Milwaukee County sales tax proposal was dropped from the original 6.6% to 6.25%.
  • Assembly Democrats, at the request of the U.W. System, removed a $28 million budget earmark for building a U.W. Madison School of Nursing.
  • They also agreed to eliminate various other earmarks from the Joint Finance version of the budget.
Her "Bad News" list is much longer:
  • They added their own earmarks for a new total of more than $37 million.
  • They increased the car rental tax, which is currently $2 to $18 to fund the proposed KRM rail line. [KRM was not eliminated from the budget]
  • They raided $338 million of segregated fees to fund general expenditures and to restore budget cuts.
  • The Democrat Caucus also took an unusual and potentially unconstitutional step by eliminating a statutory provision that requires annual revenues to exceed annual expenditures.
  • The Assembly Democrats added a provision that caps the Milwuakee County Open Enrollment program at last years level meaning that MPS students who had already enrolled in suburban schools for next year will have to return to MPS. This change will put significant pressure on suburban school districts that have already set their budgets for this fall.
  • One of the worst provisions that the Democrats debated throughout the day on Friday was to roll back the enrollment cap that was part of a 2006 School Choice compromise. The cap, currently 22,500 students, will be reduced to 21,5000 for the next two school-years....
Assembly Budget Vote:

During a twelve-hour session, my colleagues and I offered more than 150 amendments to try to improve the budget. Among the amendments I offered were the elimination of the KRM rail authority, elimination of the Milwaukee RTA and the sales tax increase, removal of the high-speed rail study, restoration of the current cap on the Milwaukee school choice program and removal of the new cap on Open Enrollment. All of these amendments failed.

The only amendment we managed to get adopted was a bipartisan provision that set stricter limits on which prisoners qualify for early release under the Joint Finance budget provisions.

The Spin vs. Reality:

Some of the early budget spin coming out of the capitol in defense of the budget includes claims that this budget has real spending cuts. That's simply not true. The budget increases overall spending by 6.3%, which is $3.7 billion more than the previous budget. Reducing the amount of a spending increase is not the same as a spending cut!

They are also claiming they are cutting the state payroll by over 1,300 government positions. The fact is that these are vacant positions and they have agreed to leave them unfilled during the two-year budget cycle.

The Democrats are also critical of Republicans for not offering an alternative. We did offer suggestions and our members on the Joint Finance Committee were outspoken in their criticism of a budget they knew would take our state in the wrong direction.

Further, we pushed for building our state budget on a process called "zero-based budgeting." The process requires every agency to justify each expense, including employees, and how it relates to their statutory mission or to the effective delivery of a particular service. Instead, they chose to go with the existing "cost-to-continue" budgeting, which simply builds the new budget from the existing base.

In addition to all of the new taxes and fees, this budget also backfills spending for ongoing programs like education and Medicaid with one-time federal stimulus money. This decision will create an even bigger shortfall in the next budget.

In the end, this budget is well beyond repair. The State Senate should go back to the drawing board and start from scratch! That is the only responsible thing to do.

Budget Awaits Senate Action:

The budget now moves to the State Senate where they could make additional modifications, including adding back the Joint and Several liability provisions, or adding more spending provisions.

The vote could take place as early as Wednesday or Thursday, so if you are concerned, now is the time to contact your senator.

Voter feedback has had an impact in Madison. While it may not have eliminated all of the bad provisions in the budget, the calls and emails from constituents took a toll on legislators. It took Assembly Democratic leadership 60 hours last week to find the votes in their caucus.

Keep those calls, emails and letters coming!

So there you have it. Rep. Vukmir does not paint a rosy picture, does she? Unless the Senate votes this down, we are headed toward higher taxes, fees, and more spending. I know we are sick of contacting our legislators, but it is our only tool right now.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D) (608) 266-2502, (715) 359-8739, Email:

Senator Jim Sullivan (D) (608) 266-2512, (866) 817-6061, Email:

Senator Ted Kanavas (R) (608) 266-9174, (800) 863-8883, Email:

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Competition with government health care will keep em honest?

Last week, President Obama sent a letter touting his government health care plan to 2 Senate Democrats stating, "This [his public health care option] will give (people) a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest."


Has government interference given Wisconsin residents more choices and made insurance carriers more competitive? In my opinion, no. Wisconsin mandates that certain benefits be included in all insurance policies sold in the state. Things like treatment for alcoholism and autism are mandated for all policies, I believe. But why should a tea-totaling person be required to purchase treatment for alcoholism? Why should a childless adult or parent of grown children be required to purchase insurance to cover Autism? Why can't we purchase health insurance policies from other states without these mandates?

I am not saying that those services shouldn't be offered as a choice. Just that if you want them, they should be an extra.

We don't purchase car insurance that way. If a driver has had an accident or violation, their rates usually go up. We have the choice to purchase collision insurance or not. Why can't we get more choices available for health insurance too?

Just thinking about other private businesses that compete with the government, is it the competition with the government that drives prices down or competition with each other?

Did DHL offer cheaper shipping prices than the post office because they were competing with the USPS or because they were competing with UPS and FedEx?

What about schools. As a rule, which is more expensive, public schools or private schools? Which one provides a better product? Does competition with public schools drive the cost down or "keep them honest" for the private? Does competition restrain the price for the public schools? Do you ever hear of a school board discussing that they need to keep costs down to remain competitive with say a school like, Heritage Christian School. (Their tuition is under $4,000 a year last time I checked.)

No, I believe private schools--parochial in particular--provide a cheaper, better alternative to government schools. Just ask the 1,000's of students cut from the School Choice program in our state, who enjoyed a superior education at a lower cost to taxpayers.

What happens when the national health care plan obtains subsidies and underwriting by the government that aren't available to the private sector? How is that type of competition fair and honest? Once the private sector insurers are out of business, do you really think the product offered will be superior to the private sector product? (If you are in doubt, just think of a private retirement annuity/investment plan vs. Social Security, where you pay a lot in but get little out.)

The President would like government-run health care to hit the Congress by August. What is the rush? Thankfully, Republican House Leader John Boehner is adamantly opposed.

President Obama was correct that competition keeps the cost down--it does in the private sector. However, that principle doesn't really work when the government provides the only choice.

Must reads: Heritage Foundation: Obama Rhetoric vs Health Care Reality

Wall Street Journal: How to Stop Socialized Health Care, Five arguments Republicans must make

Investor's Business Daily: Doctors Fight Back

New York Times: A.M.A Opposes Government-Sponsored Health Plan

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

UPDATE: $63 billion budget heads to State Assembly...Did you call your Rep?

UPDATE: Good news! The Assembly Democrats removed the Joint and Sevedral Liability Law reform from the state budget yesterday. I would wager that decision had something to do with negative constituent phone calls and emails? Don't relax just yet, as Boots and Sabers cautioned, "It’s not over yet, though. It could still be stuck back in by the Senate and end up in the final version. Keep vigilant!"(Thanks, Vicki McKenna.)

After hearing about Gov. Doyle's out of control budget for weeks now, it is finally out of the finance committee and heading to the State Assembly tomorrow, Wed., June 10th. It totals a whopping $ 63 billion--$3 billion of that is NEW taxes. (The State Senate will probably take up the budget early next week.) If you have not contacted your representative, please do. (Brookfield's Reps are listed at bottom of post.)

Brookfield's 2 State Representatives, Leah Vukmir and Rich Zipperer are both conservatives and against this budget's 7% increase in spending, among other things--especially during a recession!

They both have been sending out email alerts about the budget. Zipperer has his weekly Boondoggle Alert, that features a wasteful spending measure, and Vukmir just sent out a Budget Update that includes a budget survey. Do take the time to complete the survey; it will familiarize you with the budget issues.

I urge you to contact them. Even if you support their position, they still need to hear from you! An encouraging email is always welcome, especially since they are facing such an overwhelming amount of pork and waste.

From Rep. Zipperer: Make Your Voice Heard (My emphasis)

The Joint Committee on Finance has completed their amendments to the state budget, and it now moves to the full Assembly for consideration. According to news reports, Speaker Sheridan is expecting to bring it up for a floor debate and vote late next week [week of June 8-12]. In these final days, please make sure your friends, family members and colleagues from throughout Wisconsin are calling or emailing their representatives and senators to make their voice heard on the many misguided items within the budget!

If you have not been following the budget process, know that it currently proposes that the QEO be eliminated, W2 welfare reforms be scrapped, domestic partner insurance benefits be given for state workers, joint and several liability reform that could make someone who is only 1% responsible pay the entire settlement (what will that do to ski hill and water park owners?), phone taxes, RTA (trains, etc.) pork, oil tax, and on and on. Leah Vukmir has a great list posted that is divided into categories.

They are going into battle for you. The least you can do is send an encouraging word!

Contact Rep. Vukmir 14th Assembly District:

Phone: 608-266-9180 or 414-453-0024
Contact Rep. Zipperer, 98th Assembly District:
Phone: 608) 266-5120
toll free: (888) 534-0098

Related posts: Senator Jim Sullivan's Town Hall...GRILLING! OUCH!

Still time to register your comments on Doyle's BIG budget & Tea Parties

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Rep. Leah Vukmir's Budget Update

I signed up to receive several of our state legislator's email alerts and reports. This one is from my State Representative Leah Vukmir. It also includes her budget survey. By taking the survey, you will get a better sense of how out of control the spending proposed by our Democrat governor and finance committee members is. (First few questions are just general in nature. As you continue, you will see where their 7% spending increase is going!)

Here is her budget report:

Budget Update
The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to take up the budget on Wednesday, June 10th. If you have been following the process, you know just how bad this spending package is.

Overall spending in the two-year spending plan will increase almost 7% funded by $3 billion in new taxes and fees and hundreds-of-million of dollars from one-time federal stimulus funds.

The budget also contains a variety of policy provisions that will have an impact on all of us and could result in a property tax increase of almost $1.5 billion.

While the economic downturn has made Wisconsin's budget challenges more difficult, the problems facing the governor and the legislature are the product of more than a decade of spending beyond our means.

In 2007, the legislature approved a budget that increased spending by nearly 10% despite strong indications that our economy was heading towards a recession and our revenue projections were excessively optimistic. As a result, Wisconsin ended 2007 with the largest per-capita structural deficits in the country.

Instead of working to trim government spending by making agencies seek efficiencies, the governor and the Democratically controlled Joint Finance Committee did all they could to insulate state employees and agencies from the impact of the recession.

This budget once again relies on one-time funding and unrealistic economic projections meaning that our budget troubles will only grow with the next budget.

Families and businesses in our state continue to struggle. They are trimming expenses and finding ways to do more with less. Throughout our state, the people are all asking the same question... "why can't government do the same?"

Even more troubling are the new taxes and fees on job creators. It doesn't matter if you work for a large company, a small business or are self-employed, this budget will put an additional burden on you.

During the past year, more than 150,000 workers have lost their jobs in Wisconsin, yet this budget will reduce any hope of an early economic recovery.

I have voted against Republican budgets that I believed were irresponsible, but this Democratic budget is the most reckless and harmful I have seen in our state.

My colleagues and I will do all that we can to amend this budget to remove as many of these items as possible, however I am not optimistic about our chances.

I encourage you to stay informed, follow the process and get involved. The Senate could take up the budget as early as June 15th please let your senator know how you feel about this budget.
For a detailed list of budget provisions, tax increases and earmarks, click here.

Contact Leah
For Legislative Issues and Official Business:
Phone: 608-266-9180 or 414-453-0024

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

Friday, June 05, 2009

Making room for Heirloom Tomatoes!

This will be my 3rd year planting heirloom tomatoes. If you have not tried any, make room for 1 or 2 this year. Their flavor is spectacular and their color and shape fun. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I tried several new ones last year and will be repeating some again this year. Repeats include: Mr. Stripey, Aunt Ruby's German Green, and Green Zebra. New varieties include: Box Car Willie (red), Caspian Pink, Black Krim, Old German (orange) and Orange Oxheart. I purchase all from Steins Gardens--they have a great selection.

Here is what some of these look like.

Mr. Stripey: Although the label shows red with yellow stripes, mine were yellow with red striping. Great flavor, pretty, and prolific!

Aunt Ruby's German Green: This one takes the cake!

The fruit was prolific and huge and had a wonderful flavor. It made an interesting addition to salads. I got 2 of these plants this year.

Green Zebra: A small green and yellow striped fruit. Good, tangy flavor.

Cherokee Purple: By far the most unusual tomato I have ever seen. It was rather mahogany in color. Can't say much about the flavor though. It did not produce many fruits, thus it did not make this year's roster.

Standard repeats are Burpees Lemon Boy and Sweet Cluster. Lemon Boy is a yellow tomato with wonderful fruity flavor, and Sweet Cluster is a small red salad tomato.

As I mentioned last year in Heirloom Tomatoes, Everything Old is New Again?, I cannot plant tomatoes in my veggie garden because of a virus in the soil. So I just cleared out more perennials from my flower garden to make room for my heirloom friends and also plan to try several in pots and planting directly in a bag of top soil. I will let you know how that works out. (I would love to try an upside-down tomato plant but have no place to hang it.)

Can you tell I love tomatoes? There is nothing like that earthy taste of a homegrown tomato. I can hardly wait for that first tomato/mayo sandwich!

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Paper or plastic? Neither? But what do you do with garbage?

Yesterday, the Washington D.C. city council approved a 5-cent fee (tax) on all plastic and paper bags provided grocery and convenience stores. (It still needs final approval.) This was supposedly done to save the environment. I think it was just done to improve the D.C. tax coffers! (Retailers were allowed to keep 20% of the take too.) Other communities have made efforts to ban plastic bags; Seattle tried to impose a 20-cent fee last summer. (That measure is going to referendum.) How long until Governor Doyle goes for this one?

What is unusual about the Washington tax is that it is on paper bags as well as plastic. Paper is biodegradable and comes from a renewable resource: trees. Paper/building material companies plant trees just for the purpose of using them for... paper and building materials!

Now don't get me wrong, I am all in favor of cutting down the number of bags used. One of my pet peeves is grocery stores that bag your groceries in a zillion bags when maybe 2 would do*. (Pictured is my $19 purchase, and I asked for paper!)

But there is one thing I still have not figured out: If you always use your own bags, then WHAT DO YOU PUT YOUR GARBAGE IN????

Do you purchase garbage and trash bags from our friends at Union Carbide? How does using a Hefty bag for your trash help the environment? It is still in a plastic bag! What do you put your recyclable newspapers and office paper in if you no longer have paper bags?

I have been against the plastic grocery bag ever since the late 1970s when they first appeared on the scene. When I complained about the use of non-biodegradable, oil based plastic bags (this was during the oil embargo gas line days), the grocer told me that the plastic bags were better for the environment because they did not use trees! Since I was not born yesterday, I countered that plastic bags were cheaper than paper. I promptly made a few of my own cloth bags to use.

Often when shopping back then, the clerk would ask, do you want a bag? If it was a small purchase, I would say, no. This practice came to a halt, however, when too many items walked out the door without payment. Retailers soon insisted customers take a bag as proof that the item was paid for.

Lately, retailers are again asking if I want a bag for single item purchases. I usually decline if I am going straight to my car.

In our household, we never throw out empty bags--paper or plastic. They all get reused for trash, recycling, and garbage. I bring my own bags to ALDI and sometimes bring my own red Sendik's bag to Sendik's in Elm Grove and receive 5-cents off per bag used. (This tells me that bags are getting expensive for retailers.)

Some of this plethora of bags is caused by the grocery store baggers. They have a tendancy to pack just a few items in each bag. If I ask for paper, frequently I get plastic too--as pictured above. Maybe at one time, grocers instructed baggers to use a lot of bags so the customer would perceive that they got a lot for their money? Maybe over-bagging it is just because baggers tend not to be the Einsteins of the world. Whatever reason, they love to use a lot of bags.

If you have too many plastic bags, you can recycle them at some retailers. Kohls and Walmart used to take them. Small resale shops such as Almost Anything on 76th and Beloit take them too. They happily use clean, recycled bags.

The greatest boon go grocers is the purchase your own bag idea. This way, they get you, the consumer, to provide the bag for their merchandise, thus reducing their costs**. That is all fine and good, but it still does not answer my question: WHAT DO YOU PUT YOUR GARBAGE IN?

*My all time high in plastic over-bagging came at the Publix grocery store in Florida a few years back. We purchased about $100 of groceries and they bagged them in over 20 plastic grocery bags--and that was with me helping a little. The concept of putting more than 1 or 2 items in a bag or bagging your own was not one they embraced!

**Menards went one better on buy your own bag. Their last bag sale required that you purchase their 99-cent Menards bag in order to obtain their % off on all that fit into the bag!

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wow! 2 good decisions in one day: Elmbrook graduation & Sipemann home stays

This does not happen too often in my world: 2 decisions that I am happy with, both delivered on the same day!

The first is significant: Judge allows Elmbrook graduation ceremony in church. I am thankful that the judge ruled rightly in allowing the school district to conduct it's graduation in the church auditorium. I applaud U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert for applying the law instead of making it.. His decision pleasantly surprised me; Clevert is not a conservative but a Bill Clinton appointee.

Tuesday's second decision was what I call a step in the right direction: New plans will be designed to save farmnouse. Although not written in stone just yet, the Stonewood Village developer, Michael Schutte, "agreed to propose a new redevelopment plan that would preserve the building."

Seems there was some behind the scenes work done between the developer, Alderwoman Lisa Mellone and the Elmbrook Historical Society that brought about this change of direction.I think the idea of transforming the Siepmann house into a small cafe would be a good fit for the building and village complex. (Hope it is something unique like the Anaba Tea Room.)

The article mentioned that Mayor Speaker "said that aldermen may need to adopt variances to various city codes to allow the farmhouse to remain where it is in the center upgrade." Of course, I approve of that idea. It will be interesting to see what the new plans look like.

Now if we could just get the state taxing and spending under control and stop the rush toward socialism at the national level, I might think we entered an alternate universe!

Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, CNS News, Jay Weber, Mark Levin, Vicki McKenna Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, The Heritage Foundation

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