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House Hunting With No Credit, No Job History

July 23, 2017

During the past months on the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times the true story of a Syrian family’s journey to America is told in a most compelling way.    Today the latest installment was published.  Read the other installments here.


Astronaut Sally Ride Makes For Most Interesting Sunday Newspaper Read

July 23, 2017

I always enjoy learning about the process of news reporting and the professional decisions that need to be made.

Five years have passed since the death of Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Her New York Times obituary — specifically, the way we addressed her sexuality — provoked an intense debate that still echoes from time to time.

In the third week of July 2012, The Times learned that Dr. Ride was terminally ill and was receiving hospice care. She was only 61, and her illness had been kept secret. I started working on an advance obituary right away.

Dr. Ride died that July 23. Late that day, her company, Sally Ride Science, posted a statement on its website. I read it hurriedly, picked up the name of a survivor we had not known about and hastily typed it into the draft: Tom O’Shaughnessy, Dr. Ride’s partner of 27 years.

“It’s not Tom,” said the obituaries editor, William McDonald, reading the company’s statement. “It’s Tam.”

An Answer For Crime In Madison–And It Starts At Home

July 22, 2017

The news this week was bleak when it comes to crime problems in parts of Madison.

The 600 block of University Avenue has been a hot spot for late-night violence for years, but recent incidents have Madison police suggesting that the corridor has reached an unprecedented level of violence.

Data from January to June show that batteries on the block have increased from last year by 70 percent. Felony batteries, of which there was only one last year, numbered nine in 2017. Disturbances, which numbered 61 last year, have risen by 59 percent to 97. And calls for service are up 10 percent to 507.

The reasons for such dangerous and bad behavior is often attributed to a long list of social concerns.  Some deal with employment issues, others matters about education, too many guns in circulation, and of course drugs.  Each in their own way plays a part in the rising crime problems that have now started to truly impact our city.

I am not a social scientist but strongly feel that too many younger people do not have the needed guidance at home where the common-sense respect for themselves and others is first generated.  I know there is an attempt in the city to grow programs around those who need to be handled. and use public monies for that effort.  I think that concept misses the core problem which starts at an early age in homes all over this city.

Granted I was born in 1962 in Hancock, located in a rural county in Wisconsin.   Many can say ‘things were much different’ then, and they would be accurate.  But only up to a point.  There is no reason the same common-sense rules of the road for parenting that my mom and dad employed should not apply today.

I offer a few ideas that either were in place when I was a kid or clearly had no need to ever be addressed because we had a solid family foundation.

  1. Kids need to be read to from day one.  Books need to be in a home and used as an everyday item same as a plate or spoon.
  2. There is no excuse to miss school expect for sickness.
  3. Schoolwork is front and center in the evening.
  4. One may not have lots of money but there can still be an investment made in education.  Attending parent/teacher meetings or volunteering at the local school are but two ways to impact a child’s education.
  5. From the start know who your kids interact with and the quality of people they spend time with when the parent is not around.  Alerting them from the start about the quality of friends can be most important.
  6. Everyday there is a time when all in the family meet for dinner (supper) and no electronic gadgets are allowed at the table.  Talk centers on whatever took place in the lives gathered.  Fostering good communications skills for the whole family is a most undervalued asset in times of turmoil.  (This topic of the importance of dinner time and how it is reflected in books and movies and has shaped our past and needs to continue is a project I have been working on and wish to further develop.  At some point I may take a blogging vacation to craft my next writing project.)
  7. Kids do not smoke in the house.
  8. No drugs are allowed in the house.
  9. No guns or other weapons are allowed in the house.
  10. There is an expectation from Day One that learning is important and respect for oneself and others is never to falter.
  11. No one even hints at dropping out of high school.

Times change but common-sense does not.  Young people who make awful choices need to take their share of responsibility for what happens.  But parents need to step up their game and help society create the next generation of adults we would want as our neighbors.

Sean Spicer Did Not Need To Lose Self-Respect–Should Have Taken My Parent’s Advice

July 21, 2017

There is no way that the main news story of the day does not get a post here on Caffeinated Politics.

As I write this entry it once again is required that I lift a line off a wall plaque that my parents gave me when I turned age thirteen in 1974.  The line is not great verse nor meant to be.  The message is simple and straightforward.

“Don’t let the crowd pressure you; stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.

That plaque hangs in my closet where I see it daily when I pull a knit shirt off a shelf.   Spicer should have had one given to him as teenager, too.

To say the least it has been a wild six months for Spicer.  He is as known to most folks in the land as their own senators–perhaps and sadly so–perhaps more.  He was the source of many late night jokes and a truly hilarious series of spoofs thanks to Melissa McCarthy, on Saturday Night Live.  Spicer came to be known for all the wrong reasons, however.

He came to the top of the known names and faces for losing his credibility.

The most important part of the job of any White House spokesperson is to have credibility.  History shows how the words, that others who have held that job, have made markets move, foreign leaders respond, and news tickers beep in newsrooms around the country.

So from his first full day on the job, when Spicer sparred with reporters about the size of the inauguration crowds–in spite of facts that showed the exact opposite–he lost that one thing that was not recoverable.  He was told what to do by President Trump, and instead of doing what a solid-minded person in the role of spokesperson should have done–provide honest information–Spicer instead took the road of lies and landed into his own self-created mess.  In the process he became a national joke.

He is not the first or last one to latch onto Trump and find that there is no safe place to be, no possible way to pick junk up by the clean end, or remove the tarnish or stain that comes when one gets too close to what our parents told us to stay clear of.

The very first time that Spicer said one thing to the press only to have minutes later Trump take a contradictory position is when the spokesman should have walked into the Oval Office and laid down the law.  Trump needed an older brother to beat some sense into him, and failing that now needs a White House staff that can do the same.

What has happened to Spicer has been a national series of embarrassments.  Spicer could no longer travel with Trump. Then he no longer gave press briefings, with that duty going to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is the worst person ever to step before a camera in the press room.  She needs so much help and advice about how to respond to questions, and not make it sound like a wire in her bra is pinching her.   At least Spicer attempted some humor.

This blog has been critical of the way Spicer conducted his job.  Journalists across the nation would agree.   I have also opined that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is close to the exit door.  Given the bond that Priebus and Spicer shared over the past six months one has to wonder how soon it might be before I will be writing the exit post for the former Wisconsin Republican.

There will be no tears–as I stated from the start Priebus was not the type required to be the most important person in the White House.  Effective presidents are only allowed that luxury with a a most competent chief-of-staff.

Didn’t These People Say No To Wetlands, Filled Them In After Extorting A Permit From Wisconsin?

July 21, 2017

Just saying.

The flood waters this week quickly rushed into Arcadia’s downtown and required Ashley Furniture to suspend operations.  The company told workers to stay away from flooded buildings.  Ashley’s chairman Ron Wanek says the floods back in 2010 caused over $11 million in damage and lost work and he is worried this latest flood could spell the same for the company.

Do we feel sorry for his company?

Not so much based on the companies past actions.

Shostakovich At Our Home On The Isthmus

July 20, 2017

Tonight some local musicians from the Willy Street Chamber Players used our piano room for their rehearsal in preparation of their upcoming concert. Other than Emrys Linster who made the piano smoke with ragtime several times in the past—the man tonight at the keys brought, along with the truly talented others, a feeling to our home that has never before existed here. So awesome.  Shostakovich, Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57,  with the brilliance that comes with members of our local symphonies brought smiles galore–even when just practicing. I guess this is the best time to again underscore why the arts matter and deserve our support.

Donald Trump’s Hand Holding

July 20, 2017

I simply can not wait to see what Stephen Colbert does tonight over this gem from THY most odd and strange presidential interview in the history of the United States.  If you wonder why the world laughs at us, and why we laugh at Trump and his followers this would be exhibit # 3,654.

TRUMP: … After that, it was fairly surprising. He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, ‘I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,’ having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.

HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.

TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.

HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.

TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.

Trump has admitted to grabbing women between the legs and has also been shown several times getting too close with others who have let him know they find him unacceptable.

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