Friday, February 27, 2009

Now We Know What He Meant

Judd Gregg said that his positions were irreconcilable with those of the President when he withdrew his name from consideration for Sec of Commerce. Today the AP shows us what he meant.
President Barack Obama's former nominee to become commerce secretary,
Sen. Judd Gregg, steered taxpayer money to his home state's redevelopment of a
former Air Force base even as he and his brother engaged in real estate deals
there, an Associated Press investigation found.

Gregg, R-N.H., personally has invested hundreds of thousands of
dollars in Cyrus Gregg's office projects at the Pease International Tradeport, a
Portsmouth business park built at the defunct Pease Air Force Base, once home to
nuclear bombers. Judd Gregg has collected at least $240,017 to $651,801 from his
investments there, Senate records show, while helping arrange at least $66
million in federal aid for the former base.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Building A "Permanent" Minority Party

Polls show that rank and file Americans are fed up with the Republicans giddy lockstep refusal to participate in leading the country away from the failed policies of the GWB era yet GOP "leadership" continues to reward obstructionism. Compare these two stories.

From Washington Monthly:

The NYT poll found that three-quarters of Americans believe the
president has been trying to work with Republicans, but only 3 in 10 said
Republicans were doing the same. Indeed, 63% of poll respondents said Republican
opposition to the stimulus package was about politics, not policy, and 79% said
Republicans should give up on its agenda and start working more with

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll showed
similar results
. The president enjoys a 68% approval rating;
congressional Democrats have 50% support, and congressional Republicans' rating is just 38%.

From Politico:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says that he
might support primary challengers against the three GOP senators who voted in
favor of the stimulus package.

Asked if he was open to the move during an interview Monday on Fox
News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” Steele said, “Oh, yes, I’m always open to
everything, baby, absolutely.”

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and Arlen
Specter (Pa.) all voted in favor of the stimulus plan after much haggling with
Senate Democrats and the White House. Many conservatives have attacked the
senators for their votes. Specter is the only one of the three who is up for
reelection in 2010. Steele said that he would not defend the trio against
conservative criticism back home.

“My retribution is the retribution of the voters in their states,” he
said. “They’re going to have to go through a primary in which they’re going to
have to explain to those Republican voters in that primary their vote.”

Now, I'll grant you that Steele is listening to Reince Priebus, a guy who knows as much as anyone about losing statewide races, but it seems that threatening to run newcomers against successful party members in a time when even minor victories should be counted as victories is counterproductive.

Steele promised the party faithful that he'd steer to the right and he seems to be doing just that. Now he needs to understand the Bell Curve and the rarefied air he's steering it toward.

A Cliche Is A Cliche Is A Cliche

Mixter is right. Just freaking stop it.

It's lazy storytelling at this point.

Bad Platform To Run On

Even for Baraboo, this is a bad example for a candidate.
During an interview with the detective on Feb. 9, Cone admitted
shoplifting cigars from the humidor on Jan. 15, 16 and 23 and Feb. 6, the
documents state.

Monday afternoon, Cone said he was guilty. He said he had been
stealing the cigars, then selling them to friends to raise $5 or $10 to keep gas
in his car.

"Yeah," he said. "I don't smoke, that's what the stupid part is."

Cone said he had back surgery in April and has not been able to
return to work because the healing process is not going very well.

Cone said he plans to continue his role as District 4 Baraboo City
Council member and will continue as a candidate for mayor in the April 7 general

"I can't quit now," he said, "Even though I've done stupid

Baraboo has had a tough time keeping Mayors lately. Russ Will resigned abruptly in August, citing health reasons. It turns out that the symptoms were, most likely, self-administered. Let's hope that Baraboo can get their act together. Interim Mayor, and former losing candidate, Pat Liston has an idea; a code of conduct for public officials.
"I know it's hard to believe, but occasionally elected officials and
appointed officials (fail to show) good conduct," he said. "My concern now is,
because we do have an ordinance on ethics, basically the ethics code is pretty,
in my opinion, toothless, because it only speaks to illegality."

The ordinance is an eight page draft. That's a far cry from the 135 or so words of the Decalogue but it's a start.

Laissez le Bon Temps Roullez

Once upon a time, long ago; a girl named Cherry, her three friends from St Louis and I stood together and saw the Radiators at Tip's Uptown. It was a very good Mardi Gras.

I'm sure that tonight will be better for those who are there.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Will We Finally Re-engage With Cuba?

Fidel is dying and Raoul is no spring chicken. Communism has tumbled in the face of Caitalism across the globe and yet, we still maintain our economic embargo against Cuba.

Could that restriction be ready to fall as well? One member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says that it should.
The US economic embargo on Cuba "has failed," top Republican lawmaker
Richard Lugar has said in a report likely to fuel momentum for a shift in US'
decades-old policy toward the island.

"After 47 years ... the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to
achieve its stated purpose of 'bringing democracy to the Cuban people,' said the
senator from Indiana -- a senior member or the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, "it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further
sacrifices from Cuba's impoverished population."

The report, entitled "Changing Cuba Policy - In the United States
National Interest," is due for release [today].

Coupled with President Obama's stated policy of engagement around the world we could be looking at what amounts to a major shift in policy. Isolating Castro's regime was seen as a necessity in the 60's but the fall of the Soviet Empire should have signalled the need to exert our influence via other means.
According to Lugar, while "current US policy has many passionate defenders,
and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified ... nonetheless, we must
recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban
regime in a way that enhances US interests."

We may see a more rational Cuba policy in the coming months. President Bush began easing restrictions by allowing Cuba to purchase US foodstuffs using only cash. Allowing purchases on credit would open the market even further to US farmers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Marrow Donor Drive On Monday

From Sen Erpenbach's Newsletter:
Marrow Donor Drive

Thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases
die every year because the only treatment available to them, a blood marrow
transplant, is impossible without a matching donor.

Monday, March 9th there will be a donor drive in honor of Ron Carlesen,
marrow cell recipient and survivor, in Evansville at the Union Masonic Lodge #32
(104 W Main St) from 11 AM to 6 PM.

Come and find out if you are a match for a patient in need! To learn
more about marrow donation please visit and to find out
more about the event please call Pat or Ron at (608) 882-0956 or 1 (800)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reality Biscuit

I just got home from performing in the Opening Night of Janesville Little Theater's production of The Moon Is Blue. It went well enough and the audience was pleased.

After performing on various school stages for the past few years it is very humbling to realize that I was working in a space and taking my bows in the same place as Tony Bennet.

Hakuna Matata, indeed.

Performances continue Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2 on the JPAC stage in the Marshall Apartments.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Just So Hard To Know

Ex-Senator Tom Daschle took a lot of grief, quite correctly, for failing to pay taxes on the gift of a car and driver. One of the "reasons" given was that the tax code makes it hard to determine what is taxable and what is exempt.

Now we find another politician caught up in the vagaries of the tax code and owing back taxes. From the Anchorage Daily News:
Palin must pay tax on past per diem, state says

The story goes on to say that Palin is not alone in owing back taxes on per diems but it just goes to show ya'. Doesn't it?

I don't expect any outrage now but this is just one more data point to file away for 2011 and beyond. I know how important the letter of the law is to some folks and I'll be looking for their hard questions then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quick Hits

Did you guys hear something about televisions being switched to some other kind of broadcasts? My morning anchors are nattering on and on about it.

Either Roland Burris is an incredible fool or he thinks we are. Call it one more vindication for Harry Reid's BS detector.

Vote today. Do your duty and narrow down those fields.

Wanna have some fun? Sneak up behind Vicki McKenna and whisper, "Fairness Doctrine."

If any of you are theater buffs and will be near Janesville this weekend, JLT is presenting F. Hugh Herbert's, The Moon Is Blue Thursday thru Saturday night at 7:30 with a Sunday matinee. All shows are at JPAC on Main St in Janesville. Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm in that?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DMV Call Center Closed Monday

From Senator Erpenbach's office:

DMV customer service center closed Monday February 16th

On February 16th the DMV customer service center and call center will be closed so that all customer service representatives can receive technical and procedural training. While the staff at the DMV is receiving training they will be unable to receive calls; however the automated phone system will still be available.

The automated system allows motorists to make road test appointments and receive recorded information. Many DMV services are available online at

Happy Anniversary, Salman

Gosh. Has it been twenty years already?
On 14 February 1989, a fatwā requiring Rushdie's execution was proclaimed on
Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the
time, calling the book "blasphemous against Islam"

That Rushdie must be as good a hider as the Osama feller.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Clocks

In June of 1931 my Mother's parents were married. One of the presents they received that day was a Garland mantle clock. They married at a comparatively advanced age. Grandma was 28, Grandpa 25.

Grandpa has been gone for most of 15 years already but today would have been his 103 birthday. Grandma passed just a few short weeks ago and we have been tackling the task of separating and sorting and sharing.

The Garland clock sits, as it has for more than 70 years, on top of the radio cabinet that stood in my Grandparent's front parlor. Now, though, it chimes the hours and the halves in my dining room, adding its two-tone chime to the more stentorian chime of Nancy's Grandmother's clock on the opposite wall.

Two clocks from two families, each brings along with its tone the echo of ten thousand memories blending into the future. My Granddaughter plays on the living room floor and turns to watch the clocks chime. By my Grandparent's anniversary in June we will have two more grandchildren to listen for the chimes.

Life goes on, marked by memory and comforted by the familiar. It's good. It's very good.

An Observation I'd Rather Not Have Made

A cough drop will last longer in a Warm/Cold wash cycle than it will in your mouth. It will comfort you less to find it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yippeee! It's An Election

Wake up Evansville. We have an election day next week.

Yep. It's true. No aldermanic races. No mayoral race. No School Board primary. (Admit it. You missed my forum this year. Didn't you?)

The only race on the ballot in the city will be the primary for DPI. I like the Recess Supervisor's take on the race as much as Professor Orton does.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hey! Beaver Dam! Quit It.

This ain't right.

A Beaver Dam Middle School teacher is on administrative leave after school
officials discovered a photo of her with a gun on Facebook.

In the photo, Betsy Ramsdale was training a rifle at the camera.

On what grounds? Having a legal personal life outside school?
I'm sorry but the School Board should have stayed out of this unless there
was something besides a picture. Schools superintendent Donald Childs says a
concerned staff member brought the photo to the district’s attention.

A concerned staff member? More like busy-body. And where were the grown-ups on the Board to say, "Not a big deal until she brings it to work?"
Childs says the use of the photo "appears to be poor judgment" and is
unaware of any sinister intent.

Please, please, please, I'm looking for a job. Can I be the one to scour Facebook pages in search of "Intent?" A picture of an employee on private time exercising a legal activity is not poor judgement by itself.

Bad School Board. No coffee for you.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What The Grown Ups Said

While the GOP on Capitol Hill stuck their fingers in their ears and mumbled, "Tax cuts. Only tax cuts," like a conservative Raymond Babbit business leaders across the US weighed in with their own impression of the GOP's non-plan.

FedEx CEO Fred Smith on the wisdom of spending on infrastructure:
"No question about it, the infrastructure of the country has been
underfunded for a long time ... it certainly would be a wise thing to invest in
all kinds of infrastructure.
Google CEO Eric Scmidt had this to say about the efficacy of a tax cut only solution:
"I'm worried that tax cuts alone won't work because people are not paying
any taxes because they're not making any money."
Republicans who refuse to engage in solutions and stand firmly on the failed policies of the past will not win over Americans who are suffering. They do not look like resolute leaders in Congress as this discussion goes on around them. They look small and petty and, more importantly, irrelevant.

Weren't We Led To Believe Michael Steele Was Smarter Than This?

New national GOP leader Michael Steele to Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
"Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job."
Let's overlook the hyperbolic first clause. We know that government patronage created some of the greatest works of the world, from the aqueducts to the art of Venice to the voyage to the moon.

Let's give Steele the benefit of the doubt on that. Is it possible that he has no eyes to see the works of the WPA, the CCC, the TVA? Is it possible that he does not know about the CDC or the EPA or NIH? Does he not understand that soldiers, sailors and airmen are government workers and that their skills and training flow back to benefit American businesses in ways that "Trickle-down Voodoo Tax Cuts" never will?

Or will he be content to parrot the talking points of past failed campaigns? Is he a leader or a follower? Will he be able to lead the GOP out of the wilderness or will he follow DeMint and Pallin down the road to the past?

So far it ain't looking good for a strong second party.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Soft On The Concept

I was all in favor of the Certified Angus Beef campaign when it first started out. It was a good way to upmarket a brand of something that was treated as a commodity. Growers contributed to the campaign and got something back for their checkoff while the consumer got a little extra information to use in their purchasing choices.

Then, one day, I saw Certified Angus Beef stew meat and I said, out loud, "That kind of defeats the purpose. Doesn't it?

"Having a higher grade of your toughest cuts devalues the brand. Instead of denoting quality and tenderness it becomes just chaff on the label."

"Oh, but Jim," I was told, "People have come to look for the label without discerning it's meaning. Just seeing the shield makes them think they are getting something special even if they can't articulate the differences."

I sighed. People have become so removed from their food prep that they are looking for the mythical Tender Stew Meat when stew is they way to make tough cuts butter-tender. I fussed in silence.

Until yesterday...We have now come to see what this all will lead to and the abomination is on your grocer's shelves now. The CAB Shield, signifying extra care and tenderness, now adorns packages of commercially processed jerky being marketed at a higher price point than ordinary pummeled meat.

I don't think they will ever catch on at this point. Now that we have faux-Kobe hamburgers and Angus jerky, I wonder if American carnivores are in a spiral down to where fast food patties are revered for their tenderness and taste rather than a well-marbled steak. What will my grandchildren eat for a special night out?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superbowl Sunday

And this memory makes me happy.

What's He Gonna Play?

Bruce Springsteen gets 12 minutes for four songs. What should be on his playlist?

My guess?
  • He should play Thunder Road but he will play Born To Run.
  • Born In The USA will be his closer.
  • For some reason, I'm feeling Dancing In The Dark coming on.
  • What does that leave? Fire? Blinded By The Light? I say Rosalita.