The Sconz went to see Mitt Romney in Iowa

January 3, 2012 by

It didn’t occur to me until Sunday night, on the eve of a federal holiday that I didn’t know how to spend. “We should go to Iowa!” I told Mrs. Sconz.

Four years ago, pops and I went up to New Hampshire for a couple days of political tourism and caught a barroom speech from Dennis Kucinich and then snuck into the press section at a John Edwards event. We tried in vain to see McCain and Hillary. On the way back to New Jersey, we heard that Obama was up by 10 points in the polls.  So Hillary cried… and won. And John McCain beat a Masschusetts flip-flopper who once described himself as “more liberal than Ted Kennedy.”

Mitt Romney has since changed. In fact, his tour bus in Dubuque was adorned with three inspiring words: “Conservative. Businessman. Leader.”

Although Romney was the GOP candidate I was least interested in seeing (I was hoping for Perry or Bachmann), his event was an interesting political specimen. The crowd at the paper warehouse was about 150 strong, made up of what seemed to be mostly middle-aged and older white collar types. There was only a handful of young people in the audience.

Romney gave a better speech than I ever expected him to give. He and wife Ann are definitely on their A-game. His joke about Ann “falling on da butt in Dubuque” four years ago was probably too wholesome for the average Madisonian, but it was delightfully risqué for the Iowa Republican base. His only target was President Obama; he made no mention of other GOP candidates. We’ll see tonight whether that was a good calculation on his part.

Later, I was interviewed by a Fox TV station from Rockford,IL while eating lunch with Mrs. Sconz at an Italian restaurant in Dubuque. Here’s the video that includes a few seconds of expert analysis from “Political Tourist Jack Craven [sic].”

The Sconz buys privilege to pay more at Willy St Co-op

December 31, 2011 by

Blacklight it, X-Ray it. There's no question: It's legit.

There she is. My official Willy Strett Co-op owner card.

This means most of what I buy at the local food cooperative is merely expensive, instead of outrageously expensive. Of course, how our definition of “expensive” is largely based on skewed expectations of what we should pay to eat in this country. As Michael Pollan has noted, Americans spend a much smaller portion of their income on food than ever before. Hence, interactions such as this one, with my WTDY co-worker Shawn Prebil:

Craver: “Check out my official Willy Street Co-op membership, son. Here, you can look, but don’t touch.”

Prebil: “So you say you can’t afford cable TV but you can afford to shop at Willy Street Co-op?”

That’s right.

French offer solution to Nails’ Tales

December 29, 2011 by

Doug Moe thinks we ought to get rid of Nails’ Tales because it’s ugly. So does Citizen Dave. Truth be told, I never even noticed the damn thing. Mrs. Sconz apparently did. When I asked her what she thought of it, she responded, “I don’t know, it’s phallic. I don’t have a strong opinion on it either way.” Apparently she got the message the artist intended, according to Chris Rickert, who supports the monument.

“They didn’t say they wanted a phallus,” Lipski told me of the conversations he had with UW-Madison officials as he was coming up with ideas for the piece.

But they did want something with “power” and “dynamism,” he said. They wanted “if not something phallic, but something that was very male and dominant.”

I think we should keep it. Women are taking over college campuses and a giant penis in front of a football stadium is the best way to remind people that there is one domain in which men dominate.

Moe is not a philistine for opposing a seemingly ugly symbol of male virility, but he does lack a sense of history. As any student of architecture knows, many Parisians pushed for the demolition of the Eiffel Tower after it was showcased at the 1889 World Fair. Sure, they acknowledged that the tallest man-made structure at the time was impressive, but it obstructed the historic Paris skyline and served no practical purpose. The World Fair was over. What were they going to do? Keep the thing forever?

Landmarks don’t have to be pretty. All they have to do is have a story behind them. Lipski failed to do that. But that doesn’t mean somebody else, such as the UW Student Section, couldn’t come up with one for it. Perhaps with a profane chant.

Ron Paul’s big government position on right-to-work

December 29, 2011 by

To libertarians like Ron Paul, respect for private property and legal contracts is the only governance a society needs. For instance:

Should businesses be allowed to discriminate against customers based on race?

Of course. The owner is within his rights as a property owner to only admit his racial brethren, and for the government to require him to do otherwise is a violation of the holiest of a civilized society’s principles. Paul explains in his 2004 speech on the House floor decrying the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society.

Given that reasoning, shouldn’t we assume that Paul would also support the rights of businesses to enter into contracts with unions that require workers to pay union dues? From his website:

While Ron Paul supports the right of every American to join a private sector union if they wish, he believes, like most Americans, that forcing workers to pay union dues just to get or keep a job is wrong.

Unfortunately, over 75 years ago, the right to decide freely whether or not to join a labor union was taken away from American workers by Congress.

 Ron Paul’s exceptional record on Right to Work issues earned him the prestigious Everett Dirksen Award from the National Right to Work Committee.

At the very least, Paul’s position on right-to-work is anti-libertarian because it advocates the government outlaw a type of contract between individuals. To outlaw businesses from entering into certain contracts with unions is no different than outlawing sex contracts between a prostitute and a client or outlawing the sale of drugs, both positions that Paul vehemently opposes.

Feels good to be home: The Sconz is back!

December 29, 2011 by

I had a hell of a time blogging for Isthmus. It got me a lot of new readers and it provided me with great opportunities to do reporting that I otherwise might not have been able to do as a solo blogger, since many people –– sadly –– won’t talk to you unless you’re associated with an established old media entity.

But since I’m not doing full-time reporting anymore, it’s good to be back on a traditional blogging platform. It’s easier for me to update posts and it’s easier for readers to browse through multiple posts quickly. At Isthmus I practically felt guilty writing small posts because readers generally expect something substantial when they are forced to click on an article link.

So here goes!

Follow The Sconz on Facebook or Twitter! For anonymous tips, questions or criticism, send me an email at


March 16, 2010 by

Please come and read at the new site! (Note: is still the correct url that will redirect you to the new page)

Posting like it’s hot

March 10, 2010 by

Just put up another post about the Cap Times loss in court yesterday. Please bookmark the new site!

First Brunch Links at new home!

March 10, 2010 by

Please come check out the first ever Brunch Links at the Daily Page!

The New Sconz: IT WORKS NOW

March 9, 2010 by

It’s up! HERE is the new location. will ALSO redirect you to the new site. I am still figuring out how to work with the new format stylistically so please be patient. This is all new to me too, but I will do whatever is necessary to make the information as accessible to readers as before.

There is an RSS link so please follow me on your feeds and please, please stop by and leave comments!

Moving for Brunch

March 9, 2010 by

So…I don’t really know how to say this. I’m moving. The Sconz is moving. From now on I will host The Sconz from The Daily Page, Isthmus’ website. The url will be If you go there right now there’s nothing, but that should all change tomorrow. If everything goes as planned, “” will redirect to the new page. Either way, the last post on this site will be a link to the new site, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding it.

I first talked to Isthmus about doing something similar last summer. At first I said that I would prefer to stay independent. It was working well and wanted to see how far I could take it. However, after doing the blog for eight months, I’m ready to try something new, and more importantly, I hope that having a paper behind my name will allow me to do more reporting, especially after I graduate in May and have more time. Some local and state officials have answered my questions and been cool. But others have not. I would like to change that.

I can’t believe how long this has been going. I started the Sconz the day after I got back from my study abroad trip in France. I immediately started a facebook for the site and soon I started a twitter. The social networking assured me a certain readership from the start, but nothing could have prepared me for the response I got over the following months.

I guess I was kind of lucky. The popular campus-area blog The Critical Badger was winding down and eventually stopped. The vacuum in campus affairs left me a certain audience. However, what most impressed me were the numerous readers from all over the state I met. People who came to The Sconz via WisOpinion (who links to me but won’t put me on their blogroll) or via other state blogs and became regulars. Brenda Konkel criticized me and in doing so drove scores of readers to The Sconz. After all this time, I think (knock on wood) Brenda is finally willing to cut me some slack.

I learned from the blogosphere. My very first brunch links was a very different affair than what most of you have come to know. And it was originally adopted from Dane101‘s breakfast links.

The poor economy was the worst thing that ever happened to millions of Americans and thousands of Wisconsinites but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t find a job last summer, so I blogged.

Interaction is one of the key differences between the traditional media and the new media. The comments I’ve got in response have affirmed my faith in the new media and its potential to go beyond the boundaries set by its paper-print forebears. I am not a professional –– I had no qualifications to start this blog besides an interest in the subject matter. However, my readers, many of whom were more knowledgeable in many of the topics I touched upon, contributed and corrected me when necessary. Having readers who will point out your mistakes is a huge asset, and it’s one of the advantages of a more interactive media.

I could go on and on. I had the special pleasure of meeting Alec Slocum and Jaimie Chapman, both of whom took a load off my back while providing valuable new voices to the site. I can’t tell you what a relief it was last week when Alec live-blogged a forum on free speech that I had been completely oblivious to. Jaimie has a charming and fun style, and I encourage you to visit her own blog to keep up with her own writing.

Enough of the nostalgia. I’m not going away and neither are you. You are going to stay with me at the new location. Here’s what you gotta do. First off, like I said, the new url is: HOWEVER, even if you can’t remember that I will put up a link on this site so that the first thing you see on this site will be the link to the new site. ALSO, there will be an RSS button on the new site so you should add that to your RSS feeds. Facebook and Twitter will remain in tact, and all updates will be posted on both, including links.

Please follow me to Isthmus. The blog will be exactly the same. Here’s the thing though –– the comments are slightly different. You have to sign in to comment. All that means is that you have to put in an email address and password and then you can comment using that username. I know it’s a pain in the ass but you really should do it. I need you guys.