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Wisconsin Guns, Chicago Crimes

September 25, 2021

Gun violence in Chicago is often the topic of headlines around the nation. Too often Monday morning newscasts will report on the number of shootings and homicides from the weekend. Even more tragic to learn are the reports which deal with children in the city who are struck by bullets and killed. We do not know the kids personally, but such news rips at us deeply.

Chicago, often based on such news, gets a negative backhand from many who hear of the gun violence tallies. But the Windy City is, of course, not alone in dealing with the gun culture that has totally gotten out of hand. In Philadelphia, as an example, officials are fearing this could be the deadliest year in the city’s history.

But while learning of what is happening in Chicago neighborhoods there must also be an awareness of how Wisconsin plays a role in that gun violence. Recently data was examined which connects the dots of a Glock stolen from a smashed glass case in Superior, Wisconsin, to its recovery during a street stop in Chicago. 

The movement of guns from Wisconsin to Chicago, and the tragic outcomes caused by such weapons, has triggered a likely journalism prize-worthy series in the Chicago Tribune. It truly deserves attention from Wisconsin residents as we are clearly part of the problem.

It was a few hours past midnight on New Year’s Day 2016, a time when the working-class northern Wisconsin town of Superior keeps the bars open especially late.

Police were tied up with two bar fights, one of them a 30-person brawl at a local saloon called the Ugly Stick.

With no cops in sight, the burglar was ready to make his move on Superior Shooters Supply, a gun shop frequented by hunters and hobbyists.

It was just 12 days later, authorities believewhen one of those (stolen) pistols was fired from a car in the southbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway around 97th Street, killing a 25-year-old road manager for a rap group who was driving his new BMW coupe.

The ease with which anyone with a disturbed mind or cruel intentions can make entrance to gun stores and steal deadly armaments is very concerning. In the above robbery, the store owner in Superior noted that the handguns were “stolen from one of her glass display cases”.

The consequences of such brazen thefts are noted in the data.

Guns that end up on Chicago’s streets often come from Indiana and Wisconsin. In 2019, of more than 11,000 guns confiscated by Illinois authorities, 460 were traced back to Wisconsin, which ranked third for states with the most gun traces outside of Illinois, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

We need to re-examine the issues at play that allow for hundreds of guns to leave our state and cause injury and death. Wisconsin needs to implement stricter standards for gun dealers. The reason why is most obvious. 

At the present time, ATF does recommend that all commercial dealers install an alarm system, high-definition security cameras with audio, place bars on all windows, plus sturdy doors with multiple locks at each entrance.

But that is not enough.  Advising such common-sense recommendations is far different from demanding under law the stores act responsibly.  So let us be clear as to what Wisconsin should require.

Simply put, all gun stores need to place all firearms in a safe or vault after business hours to prevent theft.  I also have long felt that these stores would be best served with burglar alarms connected directly to the local police department. These ideas would in no way impede on those who seek to buy and own guns but would make those who sell weapons more responsible members of society.  If stores do not abide we then need to hold gun store owners accountable for shoddy security practices.

Chicago records show that aside from the above Glock linked to 27 shootings in Chicago, the three other guns from that one burglary were tied to more shootings in the city, striking at least 10 people and killing one of them.

In one case a 9 mm Glock 26 was confiscated by Chicago police from a teenager six months after the break-in, and in another, a 9 mm Glock was linked to the shootings of at least eight people including the slaying of Elliott Brown and wounding of his girlfriend.

The burglary at the Wisconsin shop was another episode in what police said is an established connection between Chicago and towns along the western tip of Lake Superior. Drugs often move north from Chicago, officials said, and sometimes firearms head south.

The reasons for the epidemic of gun crimes have long been studied. At this time in the nation, there is a soaring number of gun sales, the ever-more harsh political rhetoric against gun-control measures, and a deep distrust among some towards law enforcement. The list of contributing factors also includes economic forces which ramped up during the COVID crisis, and the long-running federal drug policy which desperately calls for reform.

Stealing deadly weapons from a gun store is also a proven problem which demands a public policy solution.

And so it goes.

FCC Contacted For Native American Racism On Madison’s WMTV

September 24, 2021

A complaint to a local television station has escalated into contact with the FCC concerning the airing of the caricature of Chief Wahoo representing a Cleveland baseball team.

Readers to this blog might recall that on August 12th I posted a comment about WMTV’s sports report where racist images were aired, twice in one day.

I am outraged!  I watched the CW news at 9 and couldn’t believe when the sports anchor reported the Brewers’ score and there was the caricature of Chief Wahoo representing Cleveland on the screen!  So I watched at 10 and the same damn thing!  The team retired this graphic as the racist, demeaning symbol it is years ago.  And yet WMTV uses it twice!  

Since the viewer did not receive the courtesy of a response from WMTV about what was aired the complaint was sent to Washington.

I was watching the 9 p.m. newscast on WMTV2. On the sports report, the anchor was standing in front of a screen with Brewers spelled out and the racist Chief Wahoo mascot to represent the Cleveland Indians. The team itself retired this graphic years ago because of it’s sterotypical and minstrel show like features. I thought, “this must be a mistake, or an inexperienced intern added the wrong graphic” But on the 10 p.m. newscast, the same thing. This racist graphic should have been retired from the graphics library long ago. I filled out their comment form, called the sports department and left a voicemail demanding an apology on their next evening’s newscast. I also emailed the news and programming departs. Never heard anything back. Apparently they think they can get away with using racist representations on the public airwaves and don’t have to answer the public.

From the perspective of this blogger’s desk, it would seem the most appropriate response should have been forthcoming from WMTV. It is troubling that no feedback was given to a legitimate concern about racism against Native Americans–coming from the most liberal city in the state. If we can not do what is right here what should be expected above Highway 29?

Having worked in radio, and often commenting on the use of the public airwaves on Caffeinated Politics, I firmly hold to the accountability that license holders have to the public with these types of issues. We know that mistakes happen on the air, but when they do it is essential that an honest statement be made, and an earnest effort made to not make them again.

Pretending that the images never aired, nor offering an apology is not in alignment with the higher standards that the public has every right to expect from one granted a television license.

And so it goes.

Largest Government-Sanctioned Execution in U.S. History

September 23, 2021

Earlier this year I was totally captured by William Kent Kreuger’s book This Tender Land. I stumbled onto it while searching for a new read, and wound up ordering a couple copies for friends once I had finished it. And after placing the Kleenex box off to the side. The book was a most exquisite read.

The book starts at the Lincoln Indian Training School, which can only be described as a pitiless place where Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. One of the boys, Muse who is of Sioux heritage and mute, will join with three other children and run away from the facility.

While I had a rough idea of the events which played out with the Indian Wars in the 1860s I was not aware that because of the conflicts in Minnesota the end result would be the largest government-sanctioned execution in U.S. history.

Thirty-eight Dakota will be hanged on December 26, 1862. The knowledge of this leaves a deep soul-searching journey for the boy in Kreuger’s book.

The enormity of that one line about the executions left me searching for a far-better historical understanding of the events that led up to Chief Little Crow and the Dakota pushed to the limits of their futile attempts to have the federal government abide by treaty obligations. From there to the atrocities in Southeastern Minnesota which leads to the gallows.

That is when I landed upon Scott Berg’s 38 Nooses. The epic-sized account (but contained within 400 pages) allows for a background of the treaties along with the broad lay of the land with cliffs and flatlands well painted in the mind of the readers.

Berg provides well-rounded views of the various players, among them, Governor Alexander Ramsey who likes to embellish events for the readers back East, General John Pope who any Civil War reader knows to be a dunce on horseback and furthers that incompetency in the nation’s 32nd state, and President Lincoln’s personal secretary John Nicolay who travels by train to the region to marshal the facts which will be required back in the White House. Berg even provides the title of the book Nicolay is immersed in as he rides the rails. (History of Minnesota by Edward Neill.)

It also needs to be noted Berg includes portions of the letters back-and-forth between the famed White House duo, as John Hay gives his colorful commentary from the White House back to Nicolay. Those who enjoy the flavor of the Lincoln White House will find reasons to enjoy this book.

Cherokee Chief John Ross

The book also includes Cherokee Chief John Ross in the the pages. Many who read history know him from the  from the “Trail Of Tears”.  I am most proud of being the first cousin, 6 times removed, from Chief John Ross.  He was also known as Guwisguwi (a mythological or rare migratory bird), and was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866.

Chief Little Crow

The main character is, of course, Little Crow who, as the opening pages show, agreed to move his Dakota band to a reservation near the Minnesota River in exchange for government promises of food and cash annuities to the tribe. The brutal winter of 1861, along with a devastating growing season, and delayed federal payments resulted in a predictable response.

Religion plays a role in the book, too, with Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple working to forge the idea in Washington for a new federal relationship with Indian tribes based on professional qualifications as opposed to political patronage. There are also the attempts by men of the cloth to compartmentalize the abuse of slaves in the South, while the Civil War plays out, with the racism running wild on the Minnesota prairies and in the Big Woods.

The most horrific part of the book is the ‘legal process’ that plays out for the roughly 300 Dakota who are rounded up and face trials. Language difficulties, lack of a lawyer and due representation, inability to refute the evidence, and in some cases having rushed trials where 4 or 5 Indians were all convicted at once provides a sampling of why no one can read the book and not simmer.

There is also the legal difference playing out of combatants in a military setting firing shots as opposed to violent actions outside of the war theatre. All that is obliterated by the absurd judicial system that adds to the dark stain that runs down the pages of this book.

President Lincoln is the calm arbiter of the law and moral reasoning as he spares the vast majority from death. But his hand is, nonetheless, involved in the hangings which occur the day after Christmas 1862.

To say I was mesmerized and totally taken in by the events and the manner in which Berg shapes his narrative would be a severe understatement. When I found myself with this book in hand at 2:30 A.M. I knew the author had succeeded in his mission.

If you think you know part of the story of this chapter of American history, as I did upon opening to page one, let me assure you there is so much more to learn.

And so it goes.

Waushara County Meeting Epitomizes COVID Problem In Nation

September 22, 2021

We read daily news reports, hear radio broadcasts, and watch television anchors all alerting us as to how COVID spreads. But we also are asked continually to play a constructive role in stemming the progress of the virus so that it can not further mutate. The fear being, of course, a mutation that could not be held in check by the current vaccines. One would think such sound medical advice would register and people would act accordingly.

Right?

This week above the fold in the weekly Waushara Argus there was a most unfortunate photo of just how far removed many in this state are from accepting both science and personal responsibility.

As the news photo caption reads “Dozens of Waushara County residents” “pack county board room“. This is unsettling due to the fact the conservative and Republican-voting county has only 38.4% of its population fully vaccinated.

In the 2020 presidential election, Waushara County voted 66% for Donald Trump. True to form for many such counties all over the nation there is also a staggering disregard for not only the vaccines which are proven to be effective, but also a lack of trying to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus with changes to behavior.

I am not sure how to explain the actions of people in my home county where I grew up. I was most disheartened to see the front page of this week’s Argus with a packed meeting. Only one person in the far back is wearing a mask.

What in the heck is wrong with people? Where does any religious aspect come into play where we need to be our brother’s keeper? What message does this send to children about taking safety measures when adults act so outside the box of personal responsibility?

When I see such optics it alerts me to other larger facets to be considered in relation to the county. There are more than medical concerns when pondering this matter. 

What new business would want to establish themselves in a county with a population that is not able to understand the necessity of being vaccinated against COVID or have any more regard for the larger community? What does it say about a region where facts and common-sense are not being used by people for their own well-being? Is that a place where any serious business operation would want to set up shop?

I fully know my home county is not alone in this regard. Chuckleheads make up too large a portion of the nation. But one wishes to see more intelligence and common sense from the place one comes from.

This was truly a sad spectacle for Waushara County.

And so it goes.

Former Treasury Secretaries Unite In Arguing Nation’s Economy At Stake Over Debt Limit Crisis

September 22, 2021

If you sense a note of alarm and panic in the words and actions of former United States Treasury Secretaries then you are reading the mood and tone of their language correctly. If you note the number of posts on this blog over the recent past about this issue you also know this matter impacts us all.

It was reported that former Treasury heads Hank Paulson and Steven Mnuchin made a concerted effort to steer Senator Mitch McConnell towards a sane path when dealing with the debt ceiling standoff. Since the nation is still at the edge of the cliff, and the hours are ticking off, we know that those conversations did not take hold with the senate majority leader. After all, there is a conservative political game to be played, and the Kentuckian will not miss his chance to score something in the process.

The meeting with the Majority Leader has made for some interesting reading in the newspapers today.

Paulson expressed in the meeting a high degree of concern about the dangers and likelihood of a federal default and its implications for the global economy, the people said. Paulson worked closely with McConnell and other lawmakers in 2008 to address the financial crisis.

After the discussion, Paulson told the Biden administration that McConnell is serious that Democrats must approve the debt ceiling hike on their own through the budget reconciliation process, given their control of Congress and the White House and their pursuit of a partisan spending package, the people said. Democrats have said the debt ceiling must be approved on a bipartisan basis — with GOP support — as it has been historically and given that the current national debt was created by spending approved by both parties.

What I find striking, once again since the debt limit issue arises into partisan affairs all too often, is the lack of awareness and concern for the business community, from the very party that always carries its water.

The business community is rightly concerned about the potential economic disaster that looms should the Congress fail to do its job by increasing the debt limit.

To underscore the resolve of the former secretaries to help force passage of the debt limit language most of them sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining the grave harm the partisan dickering over this matter will mean to the nation. Should the U.S. default on its debt or even if the partisan games continue to the 11th the impact on the economy could be “detrimental”.

Signing the letter was Michael Blumenthal, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Jacob Lew. It should be noted that Mnuchin, who served as Treasury secretary during the most unsettling term of Donald Trump, did not sign the letter.

The letter made the points Republicans need to heed.

“Even a short-lived default could threaten economic growth,” the group wrote. “It creates the risk of roiling markets, and of sapping economic confidence, and it would prevent Americans from receiving vital services. It would be very damaging to undermine trust in the full faith and credit of the United States, and this damage would be hard to repair.”

The U.S. has never defaulted. Not once. It must be clear to the Republicans in this session of Congress the damage they do to the nation, and themselves, should it happen on their watch. Giving the nation a historic financial crisis on top of the pandemic is a massive over-step, even for them.  

And so it goes.

How COVID Is Viewed In Editorial Cartoons

September 21, 2021

If one from another galaxy were to land in the United States and wanted to get a quick and well-rounded understanding of the pressing issues of the day there would be one fast way to get the task completed. Thumb through the nation’s newspapers and look at the editorial cartoons. With pithy drawings and pointed words there is no way to miss the tone and flavor of what our nation (sadly) is dealing with. Such cartoons often provide a better frank assessment of an issue than a long well-written column.

The case can be made with the current batch of editorial cartoons regarding the COVID pandemic.

Another View Of Pandemic: Did It Open New Doors Of Discovery?

September 20, 2021

Today I had a most interesting conversation with a young man who jogs by our home most afternoons. He often stops to chat after his 4-mile run, and since in the late afternoon I often find time to read a chapter of two he asks about the topic of the day. We have had some great chats.

This afternoon he recommend “The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America”.

But what really struck me today was his views about how many perceive the pandemic to have made our lives seem smaller and more contained, when in reality they might have actually become broader. Since people had more time to be at home and find alternate ways to spend leisure hours they might have started mastering a new language, expanded cooking skills, or even started a wood-working project.

He mentioned that some data shows people believe, in light of their new-found interests and skills, the pandemic has made them a better person.

I mentioned that over the past year some college courses were available for online learning, and museums had put guided tours online for virtual tours. I had read that with computer card games one might play and meet a friend on the other side of the world.

Tonight his conversation has me thinking about what I had done to mitigate the impact of having life up-ended from the virus. I sought out new authors…..ones I had not read before though they may have published their work, as in some cases, decades ago. I did not venture for new skills or ways to make the ultimate stir-fry. But I did find ways to spend a lot of time.

Though I had heard of the following authors over the years, I had never stopped to pick up one of their works. All of them fit into my interests and comfort zone and now are counted on my shelves as strong recommendations for others seeking something new. I have deeply waded into the authors below who have created a series of books.

I am most pleased to have opened each treasure.

Senate Republicans Acting Like Ferengis Over Debt Ceiling Passage

September 20, 2021

Anyone watching the markets on Monday can easily grasp the nervousness of investors. One of the pressing issues creating red is the all-too-real risks that surround the deepening standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling.

At issue is what now has become the default action of Congress with the need to pass a short-term spending bill so to prevent a government shut-down. But also needing immediate attention is the passage of the debt limit measure. That our political dysfunction has deepened to such a degree that budgets are no longer able to be fashioned in an orderly process or the one line debt limit language not able to fly through Congress speaks volumes about how governing has come off the rails.

No sane person anywhere in the nation, or for that matter in the world, who understands the gravity of the debt limit discussion, thinks that not acting at once on this measure is a good idea. The government runs out of funding on September 30th.

But that has not stopped Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from playing partisan football with the issue. He has insisted that his caucus will not cooperate with the passage of the debt limit. There is always an attempt from the GOP to get something for the very act of doing their job when it comes to increasing the debt ceiling.

The legal limit for what the federal government can borrow to avoid defaulting on its obligations should not be up for discussion but the Ferengi-like Republicans all try. Their desire to acquire something from every encounter makes them very much akin to the Star Trek creations.

Republicans have no leg to stand on as this is not about what the nation will spend, but rather paying for our debts which were accumulated over the years under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Why this matters is that there is a clock ticking.

The Treasury Department issues bonds to fund spending approved by the president and Congress beyond what is covered by federal revenue. But when we reach the debt limit, the Treasury is no longer authorized to issue new bonds. At that point as it needs to be reported each time this happens Treasury must take “extraordinary measures” until the president signs a bill a new debt limit increase.

Why we have every reason to be cranked with conservative Republicans is that raising the debt limit has no direct impact on the size of the national debt. It has no impact either for more spending or freezing or restricting spending. The only thing that increasing the debt limit does is pay expenses previously authorized by presidents and Congress.

But the Ferengis in Congress will fight and pontificate and try to force their way to get something before they will do what is simply the only logical action to take.

Increase the debt limit.

The Republicans know they are playing with fire. And in the end, they will fold, as they must do. Our nation has never defaulted on its debt, and doing so would create an economic catastrophe on a global scale that would make Ted Cruz’s facial hair turn even whiter overnight.

How Republicans who tout their love of business and the bottom line can miss the point about the need to raise the debt limit is totally befuddling. Failure to do so could hurt America’s international standing and push up borrowing costs.

I write on this matter more than I wish were needed. When it comes to the debt limit there has never been any doubt as to where I stand. It would still be the soundest move to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling. That would be good news for the nation. But Republicans, being the Ferengis they naturally are, would be most scornful of such an outcome.

After all, the GOP would then not be able to hold the nation hostage in the future.

And so it goes.

Trump Supporters Forget About Nixon Needing To Be Protected From Himself, Too

September 19, 2021

Without a doubt, Donald Trump was the most unstable, mentally unhinged, and dangerous individual to ever sit in the Oval Office.

There was, however, one other president who also faced a most unsettling ending to his time in office which also provoked dread and uncertainty in the defense establishment of this nation.

Many readers know my fascination and deep interest regarding the life and times of Richard Nixon. During the final days of Nixon’s presidency, the defense establishment was concerned about his stability. They could not make a solid prediction that he would not do something reckless.

Donald Trump was even more prone to outrageous behavior, and that can be demonstrated based on his temperament and actions since Inauguration Day 2017. What led up to the November elections, and certainly what followed with the most bizarre and outrageous behavior we have seen from any person in the White House. It was pure lunacy on parade.

Martha Mitchell looks calm and well-balanced in comparison.

This past week we learned that Bob Woodward and Robert Costa reported in a new book that Gen. Mark Milley reached out to China in the waning days of the Trump administration, attempting to reduce tensions by assuring China that no American attack was imminent, and asking that China not do anything without consulting the U.S. military leadership.

We know that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Milley that she worried about Trump’s access to the nuclear codes and that he was “crazy.”

To which Milley replied, “I agree with you on everything.”

For the past few days the Fox News crowd has created their own rhetorical storm, but it lacks substance and foundation. Trump was so troubling that our republic was potentially in danger. A majority of the nation understood that on Election Day. Milley knew it too, and aided the nation when it was required.

For that he is an American I am proud of for caring for the nation above all else. There are not many one can say the same about.

Trump supporters would do well to read some history on this larger issue. They need to understand that mature individuals will always come to the defense of the greater good of the nation, and they did in 1974.

Moreover, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger recalled years later that in the final days of the Nixon presidency he had issued an unprecedented set of orders: If the president gave any nuclear launch order, military commanders should check with either him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger before executing them. Schlesinger feared that the president, who seemed depressed and was drinking heavily, might order Armageddon. Nixon himself had stoked official fears during a meeting with congressmen during which he reportedly said, “I can go in my office and pick up a telephone, and in 25 minutes, millions of people will be dead.” Senator Alan Cranston had phoned Schlesinger, warning about “the need for keeping a berserk president from plunging us into a holocaust.”

Pine Cone Diner In DeForest Closes With Political Lie, Owner Took Nearly Half-Million In Fed $$

September 17, 2021

While living in Madison over the past decades I have known two of my favorite restaurants to close. In both cases there was a high degree of resolve to meet and greet long-time customers and share memories. There were efforts made to go out of business with class.

When Wong’s Chinese Garden closed on Atwood Avenue Gah Yuen Wong and his wife, Lan gave out hugs and poured cups of tea as conversations flowed. Over the years I would often joke that his wife needed a pay raise, and Wong often reached into his pockets and told me he had no money.  Lan leaned on the counter and smiled as she has heard our vaudeville routine many times.

La Rocca’s on Williamson Street was a joy as entering was akin to going into someone’s home.  Over the years the owner, Vito, told us of his family who had come from Sicily and why his food was homemade. In my view, it was awesomely authentic. His last day was like a favorite family leaving the neighborhood. Smiles, hugs, and of course Caternia had tears in her eyes.

Such memories are part of the food experience as it is important for such places to end with grace.

That was not the case, however, in DeForest when the Pine Cone Restaurant closed with a sign on the door that was rude and totally a political lie.

The owner of the establishment, John McKay, just like every other restaurant owner in the state faced the same hardships during the ongoing pandemic. Like most business owners he also benefited from the at-times bi-partisan efforts to pump money into the economy and help ensure workers were kept afloat.

As such McKay and the Pine Cone got two Paycheck Protection Program loans, one in 2020 and one this year, totaling $464,040, according to PPP data. The data show the restaurant had 32 employees during the applicable loan period.

So it was the height of having no grace when McKay placed a sign on the door of the diner with a most outrageous lie.

The sign reads like a political stunt from AM-talk radio.

“Due to the decisions of your state government (Evers) and your federal government (Biden), The Pine Cone has been forced to close its doors after 40 years. Thanks for all your support” 

The truth came out when the media started to make inquiries into the matter.

McKay said Thursday the real reason he closed the truck stop restaurant at 6162 Highway 51, was because his lease was up.

It’s just strictly the lease. Our lease was up after 40 years. … Got old and got tired.”

It is disturbing when facts are so easily tossed aside so to feed the narrative that conservatives wish to foment. It is also rather unsightly, when knowing many business people across the country were thankful for the assistance from the federal and state governments, to learn that a local one took the money and was not grateful.

The Wongs and Vito’s family came to this country and for decades ran successful restaurants. When they closed the door on their places for the last time it was surely with mixed feelings.

But it was done with class.

And so it goes.

Republican States Greatly Benefiting From Biden’s Child Tax Credits

September 16, 2021

If you build it they will come.

Even if the building is done with one team doing all the work, while the other team seeks to block all efforts.

That applies to conservative Republicans who worked feverishly to block congressional efforts to construct the child tax credit.

But once the heavy lifting was done, and the measure signed into law by President Biden, we find that the states in the nation which are most benefiting from it are those which voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

The tax credit can be summed up with one word.

Popular.

As part of a COVID relief package that Congress passed in March, qualified families began receiving monthly payments from the federal government in July ranging from $300 for children under age 6 and $250 for children under age 18.

The current expanded tax credit has proven a policy favorite across the land. Regardless of party.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found the credit supported by 59% of U.S. adults including 75% of people who identified themselves as Democrats and 41% of people who identified as Republicans.

The top 10 states by average monthly child tax credit payments in August — all from the West and Midwest — were: Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, with monthly payments ranging from $515 to $456 in August.  Again, all states that voted for Trump.

The conservative state of Utah, which is also the nation’s youngest state home to large families, averaged the highest monthly payment of all at $515.

With the broad support for the policy there is now a very concerted effort underway to extend the credit which is part of the President’s $3.5 trillion spending package.

So while the GOP will not give Biden credit for darn near anything they will gladly reap the cash rewards for the hard work his administration has done to create stronger families in the nation.

The reason Democrats can make the claim for strengthening the foundation of families is based on data. Researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy are estimating that Biden’s new credit will cut childhood poverty by 45%. The IRS has estimated that 39 million families and 65 million children will benefit under this plan.

In the world of blue-collar politics, we call this a middle-class tax cut.

One that even Republicans have embraced.

And so it goes.

Bill Kristol Interesting Man, But Needs Order On Bookshelves

September 15, 2021

Over the past 18 months of this pandemic, we all have watched many media personalities conduct interviews from their homes. As such, we have been able to glimpse a part of the inside world of these men and women.

I have much enjoyed seeing what books are on the shelves of news reporters, politicos, and talking heads. I find that PBS’ Judy Woodruff has many of the same books to be found on my shelves. In fact, no one else over the past months comes closer to that count than does the NewsHour anchor.

While I truly like to learn the reading habits of others I would be less than honest to say I also note the way in which people display their books, and bring order to their shelves. I have seen some ‘fronting’ their books, others with books and pictures and the like interspersed on the shelves. Some have the books pushed all the way to the back of the shelves. Some align the bindings to the edge of the shelf, in other words, giving the books the full OCD treatment.

This brings me to the one person, who throughout the pandemic, has never once considered how his shelves appear to the public watching him speak.

I enjoy hearing from Bill Kristol. He is smart and well-rounded as a person. While not always agreeing with him I find myself usually learning something from him. I am sure, however, I could listen more intently to his views if not for the chaos that lines the shelves behind him.

Twenty minutes in his home, along with a dust rag and order would be established on the shelves. Instead, it appears he just plunks items on the shelves, shoving them in, lodging them here and there.

I am not without awareness that some of the greatest minds are best served by clutter. Without a doubt, my favorite conservative thinker, writer, and speaker is Bill Buckley, Jr. His office was always intensely messy, nothing ever piled with four neat corners showing.

I know of very few people on television that could ever match his intellectual power.  While his political point of view was often in sharp contrast to mine I was never able to stop listening to the way he spoke.  Even years later, in the occasional interview on television, I would be drawn to his slightly elitist charm and world-class intelligence.

I was in awe that someone could have such a rich and diverse vocabulary.  And use all the words in such a way that the ordinary sentence was almost poetry.  While listening to his program, Firing Line, I would learn new words for my own usage.  When was the last time anyone said that about a television program? 

But really, would it not be better if all those books were properly placed?

And so it goes.

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