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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Great flag photos

Happy 4th everyone!

One of the best features that websites of newpapers provide is their photo galleries. They can be incredible.

I think you'll enjoy this one from the Indianapolis Star.

What's Great About America-Part 4

Dinesh D' Souza, an immigrant from India who is now a U.S. citizen, is the Robert and Karen Rishwain Scholar at the Hoover Institution and author of the New York Times best-seller What’s So Great About America. A few years ago, he wrote a paper for the Heritage Foundation called What’s Great About America. For seven days, I'm posting, one each day, the qualities D'Souza listed in his paper. Here's #4


The Ethics of Work

Capitalism gives America a this-worldly focus in which death and the afterlife recede from everyday view. The gaze of the people is shifted from heavenly aspirations to earthly progress. As such, work and trade have always been important and respectable in America. This “lowering of the sights” convinces many critics that American capitalism is a base, degraded system and that the energies that drive it are crass and immoral.

Historically, most cultures have despised the merchant and the laborer, regarding the former as vile and corrupt and the latter as degraded and vulgar. This attitude persists today in the Third World, and it is even commonplace in Europe. Oscar Wilde spoke for many Europeans when he commented that to have to scrub floors and empty garbage cans is depressing enough; to take pride in such things is absolutely appalling.

These modern critiques draw on some very old prejudices. In the ancient world, labor was generally despised, and in some cases even ambition was seen as reprehensible. Think about the lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious.” And here you might expect Mark Antony to say, “And what’s wrong with that?” But he goes on: “If it were so, it was a grievous fault.”

In the cultures of antiquity, Western as well as non-Western, the merchant and the trader were viewed as low-life scum. The Greeks looked down on their merchants, and the Spartans tried to stamp out the profession altogether. “The gentleman understands what is noble,” Confucius writes in his Analects. “The small man understands what is profitable.” In the Indian caste system, the vaisya or trader occupies nearly the lowest rung of the ladder—one step up from the despised untouchable. The Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun argues that gain by conquest is preferable to gain by trade because conquest embodies the virtues of courage and manliness. In these traditions, the honorable life is devoted to philosophy or the priesthood or military valor. “Making a living” was considered a necessary but undignified pursuit. As Khaldun would have it, far better to rout your adversary, kill the men, enslave the women and children, and make off with a bunch of loot than to improve your lot by buying and selling stuff.

In America, it is different, and the American Founders are responsible for the change. Drawing on the inspiration of modern philosophers like John Locke and Adam Smith, the American Founders altered the moral hierarchy of the ancient world. They argued that trade based on consent and mutual gain was preferable to plunder. The Founders established a regime in which the self-interest of entrepreneurs and workers would be directed toward serving the wants and needs of others. In this view, the ordinary life, devoted to production, serving the customer, and supporting a family, is a noble and dignified endeavor. Hard work, once considered a curse, now becomes socially acceptable, even honorable. Commerce, formerly a degraded thing, becomes a virtue.

Of course, the Founders recognized that, in both the private and the public spheres, greedy and ambitious people might pose a danger to the well-being of others. Instead of trying to outlaw these passions, the Founders attempted a different approach. As James Madison put it in Federalist 51, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” The argument is that in a free society, “the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, in the other in the multiplicity of sects.” The framers of the Constitution reasoned that by setting interests against each other, by making them compete, no single one could become strong enough to imperil the welfare of the whole.

In the public sphere, the Founders took special care to devise a system that would prevent, or at least minimize, the abuse of power. To this end, they established limited government in order that the power of the state would remain confined. They divided authority between the national and state governments. Within the national framework, they provided for separation of powers so that the legislature, executive, and judiciary would each have its own domain of power. They insisted upon checks and balances, to enhance accountability.

In general, the Founders adopted a “policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives,” as Madison said. This is not to say that the Founders ignored the importance of virtue, but they knew that virtue is not always in abundant supply. The Greek philosophers held that virtue was the same thing as knowledge—that people do bad things because they are ignorant—but the American Founders did not agree. Their view was closer to that of St. Paul: “The good that I would, I do not. The evil that I would not, that I do.” According to Christianity, the problem of the bad person is that his will is corrupted, and this is a fault endemic to human nature. The American Founders knew they could not transform human nature, so they devised a system that would thwart the schemes of the wicked and channel the energies of flawed persons toward the public good.

Your employees are too fat so you'll have to pay a fine!

Japan is getting fat.

Too fat.

The country wants to stop its tubby trend by enforcing a new law requiring that companies and local governments measure the waistlines of Japanese workers between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. How many people have to face the tape measure? Try 56 million, about 44 percent of the entire Japanese population.

The standard is strict for Japanese men. They must not exceed a 33.5 inch waistline. For women, it’s 35.4 inches.

Anything larger and the overweight individual will be given dieting instructions if, after three months, no weight is lost.

There are sanctions in place as the government will fine companies and local governments that fail to meet particular goals.

With one out of three Americans officially obese, the question is, would such a program work here?

Given the way we eat, I’d say a rather loud and emphatic no.

Holy egg roll! This is a horrible idea for many reasons.

It’s government intrusion.

Why should a company be fined if its workers can’t lose weight?

How is that the company’s fault?

Obesity is clearly a matter of personal responsibility. It’s not the government’s or the private sector’s fault if your waistline is 40 inches. That’s YOUR fault and you should do something about it.

America needs incentives, and above all, greater willpower if it wants to shed some pounds.

Here’s the story from ABC News.

Liberals lie about their agenda

A few months ago I wrote that liberals absolutely detest being called liberals.

Can’t stand it.

To them, it’s like spitting in their faces.

You are what you are, and yet the “L’ word sends liberals into orbit, thinking they’ve been insulted.

That’s why I read with glee the latest column from John Hawkins, professional blogger who runs Conservative Grapevine and Right Wing News.

Hawkins writes, Conservatives genuinely believe that this is a center-right country. That's why conservatives have no qualms about being publicly labeled as conservatives and it's part of the reason why we're much more honest than the Left -- because we believe that a majority of the American people generally agree with us and share our values.
So, those of us on the Right spend our time trying to explain to the American people what we really want to do, while the Left spends its time trying to hide what it really wants to do from the American people.”

Hawkins makes the outstanding point that liberals support programs and policies, not because of how effective they are, but based upon how they make the liberals feel. If they make the liberals feel all warm and snuggly inside, then no matter how expensive or ineffective the programs are, they get liberal approval.

Conservatives feel just the opposite. If a proposal is going to spend and waste large sums of money, conservatives will pan it.  If a liberal can turn the cozy, fuzzy idea into a bumper sticker, count him in.

Most of the common sense world doesn’t operate the liberal way. Taxpayers aren’t about to back a program that will fail and costs an exorbitant amount of money. Liberals know this, so they are forced into lying about the wasteful spending agenda they support.

Hawkins writes, “Liberals have had to become habitually dishonest about what they believe and want to do to get their ideas put into action,” and as a result, can’t be trusted.

It’s a great column.

Culinary no-no #60

Culinary no-no's


Dining at the visually stunning Tchoup Chop Restaurant run by Emeril Lagasse at the Universal Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando a few years ago, my wife and I both marveled at the Asian fusion cuisine. In one entrée, Emeril took mouth watering Kalua pork and mingled it into an amazing chow mein that my wife, Jennifer did share a bite or two.

Back home, Jennifer and I watched Emeril Live on the Food Network as Emeril re-created the dish on television. Not one who’s intimidated by cooking, Jennifer happily agreed to tackle this dish for us in the Fischer kitchen.

Take a look at the recipe’s ingredients from the Food Network website:


2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black and white sesame seeds
Pinch ground 5-spice blend

Pinch ground nori (ground seaweed)

3/4 teaspoon Hawaiian salt

1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder roast (Boston butt or picnic roast), at room temperature
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
8 ounces fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
1/2 cup julienned bok choy
1/2 cup julienned carrots
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup chicken stock


The highlighted items were especially difficult to find, another common element on cooking shows. Those marquee chefs assume the average cook can easily get their hands on all these exotic ingredients. I don’t know where Emeril shops, but the truth is, Pick ‘n’ Save doesn’t carry ground seaweed.

The website claimed the recipe’s prep time was 10 minutes. Jennifer’s was 30 minutes.

While the final product was fantastic, it took several days to find all that was needed for the recipe. And it wasn’t cheap to prepare, costing close to $100.

It’s not just Emeril. It’s every chef on television.

Of course they make everything look effortless. They have an army of help wearing chef coats and aprons off-camera. Not often do the on-camera chefs spell out actual preparation time and the exact ingredients and amounts needed, and never do they discuss what it will actually cost to concoct, “Asian Spiced-Pan Roasted Moulard Duck Breast in a Chili Sapporo Beer Broth with Oyster Mushrooms and Udon Noodles.”

That’s on the broadcast end. Move over to the print side.

Sara Dickerman has written about food for the New York Times Magazine, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Seattle magazine. In a recent piece on slate.com, Dickerman says there’s a problem with her kind, the hedonistic food press:

“T
urn to the food section of your city paper and you'll learn where to spend $120 a pound on jamón ibérico or where to taste a flight of pricy olive oils,” Dickerman writes.

“As an industry, we rhapsodize about la cucina povera—that is, ‘poor food’ like polenta, beans, and braise-worthy cuts of meat like short-ribs and pigs trotters—but we rarely talk about cooking in terms of dollars and cents. When food writers and producers advocate economy, they're usually talking about time—churning out recipes for fast, easy, everyday weeknight meals that can be prepared in minutes. The dollar-savvy recipe is far less common. Why, even as the economic news turns grim, is it so unusual for the food media to take cost into account?”

Dickerman offers reasons in her slate.com piece, including the perception that cooks in the home are Emeril wanna-be’s, and the food press feels the obligation to push advertisers’ products.

She raises an interesting issue. Food inflation is the worst it’s been in decades. Would it hurt the food press to be even more informational by including an extra line or two about pricing?

The same holds true for TV chefs. Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet’s longtime shtick was to, with bold ink, itemize the cost of meals he prepared.

I’m not suggesting Emeril or Wolfgang or anybody else dumb down their offerings to pedestrian, economic swill. But take the current state of affairs at the supermarket. Combine that with the great interest the public still has for making and eating fine food. Isn’t the cost an important piece of the story you’re trying to tell?


To read previous Culinary no-no’s, please click CULINARY NO-NO under my TAGS section.

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