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Paul Soglin Shows Commanding Political Skills In Mayoral Debate

March 2, 2015

Regardless of which candidate one intends to cast a ballot for in the Madison mayoral race there is no way not to be impressed with the political skills and spirit of Mayor Paul Soglin.  The mayor used his skills from many years of debating and amassing facts and figures to demonstrate Monday evening in a debate that he is not, as he said,  “old, tired, gray, and bland”.    In fact during the 90 minutes he proved quite the opposite.

Standing each time he spoke, unlike opponent Scott Resnick who remained seated for the entire forum, the mayor used the time allotted for answers in a powerful and often punchy way to show that he is fighting to win.  If one were to watch only the body language or gauge the debate by the style that the candidates used in the forum it seems correct to say Soglin surely feels he has the stronger hand come the spring election.

The mayor was able to use humor aimed at himself to make a point.  A genuine laugh from the crowd resulted from Soglin telling of his visit to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos concerning the idea of a regional transit authority.  After the meeting was over another meeting participant told Soglin he had never known Vos not to “chew someone’s head” off over that issue.   “Well, just call me Mr, Congeniality,” was the way Soglin summed up the story.

Without a doubt it was the best line of the night.

When Resnick used humor it was aimed at Soglin, and though intended to be a light-hearted comment struck some as just a bit odd in a room that was dominated by people older than himself.

When asked to provide something that each candidate respected about the other Resnick stated Soglin was his mentor and a “man of the century–last century”.   It brought a few smiles but also a sense that Resnick in trying to show why turning a new page over in government would be a good thing, also might be in need of finding a more tactful way to do so.  After all, some in the audience felt strongly Soglin still has lots of energy and ideas to carry him through four more years.

Soglin was agile while pounding on questions he wanted to make a point over including almost launching to his feet to start off a rebuttal with the stinging statement “you have to know what is happening!”    Resnick looked as if he were being tutored.

When Resnick wanted to tangle over allegations that some alderpersons have trouble getting meeting time with the mayor there was no question how it would be handled.  Soglin was not allowing his time with the microphone to be used for anything other than what best underscored his message.  Which is exactly what a skilled politician does.

With calm focused fact-filled responses Soglin proved to a packed room that even with gray hair he knows how to operate when in the arena.   And at the rate his campaign is going chances are he will be re-elected with a strong majority and stay in the arena he clearly loves.

House Conservatives Take Hit In Wall Street Journal Editorial

March 2, 2015

Following what I posted earlier today about my views of congressional Republicans about to experience an embarrassing defeat comes the lead editorial from The Wall Street Journal which I read minutes ago.  From the left and the right there is no place for the harsh conservatives in congress to hide.

The immigration fiasco raises the larger question of whether House Republicans can even function as a majority. Some backbenchers are whispering that they’ll work with Democrats to oust Mr. Boehner as Speaker if he doesn’t follow their shutdown strategy. Some are also plotting to take down a procedural rule, which would mean handing control to Democrats.

Mr. Boehner has made mistakes, one of which is bending too much to the shutdown caucus. But let’s say the no-compromise crowd did succeed in humiliating the Speaker, and he resigned. What then? Whom do coup plotters want to put in charge?

Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan has support across the House GOP, but why would he want to run a majority that is hostage to the whim of 50 Members who care more about appeasing talk radio than achieving conservative victories?

Republicans need to do some soul searching about the purpose of a Congressional majority, including whether they even want it. If they really think Mr. Boehner is the problem, then find someone else to do his thankless job. If not, then start to impose some order and discipline and advance the conservative cause rather than self-defeating rebellion.

Rice Lake Newspaper Takes Scott Walker To Task

March 2, 2015

Hat Tip to Rolf.

So what … what happened to the proud, prosperous, progressive state called Wisconsin? We could be just like Minnesota right now, with greater job growth, greater average wages, and greater property values, had we elected a governor who was not the original tea-partier. But alas, instead of looking a lot like Minnesota, we are looking a lot more like Mississippi! What a national laughing stock we are! 

I could add Wisconsin might have also had a 1.9 billion dollar surplus like Minnesota had we someone other than ‘our little scholar’ leading the state.

Shout Out To Brenda Konkel For Madison Mayoral Forum Coverage

March 2, 2015

For those of us who can not attend every debate between Paul Soglin and Scott Resnick there are the cliff notes, video, and insight that comes wrapped in a nice blog package courtesy of former city alder Brenda Konkel.    This is not the first praise that Konkel gets for doing what I consider a real civic-minded undertaking, and I suspect it will not be the last.    I really value that she takes city government seriously, and wants us to take it seriously, too.

The East Side Business Association held a forum last Thursday night, February 26th, at the Brink Lounge.  Konkel attended the event and has made it possible so there is no reason for any voter not to be aware of what the candidates are saying or thinking on the issues up for discussion.

I know that Konkel wants to do this type of reporting for other forums and in so doing make it easier for voters to cast an educated vote come the Spring Election.  We owe her a thanks for sitting at these forums when the vast majority of voters seem not yet engaged in the election.

Thanks, Brenda!  We appreciate it.

Embarrassing Defeat Coming For Congressional Republicans Over Funding DHS

March 2, 2015

There is just no way a good ending is coming for congressional Republicans who have boxed themselves in with hyper-partisanship concerning funding for homeland security  Only last fall the GOP was telling America that if they had the chance to control all of congress the deadlock would end and the national priorities that needed to be attended to would be dealt with in a fashion the country would be proud to watch unfold.

While I readily admit to being hooked on the political drama that took place last week, and am ready for another week of political back-and-forth as some highly conservative House members continue their rebellion against Speaker Boehner, I am also fully aware that none of this is what makes for a winning hand for Republicans in 2016.   At some point there will need to be a clean funding bill presented and it will have to be passed.

Which leads one to think of the words from General Colin Powell who always advocated having an exit plan for any mission.  Clearly when the Republicans started on this crazed mission last year to deal with homeland security funding separately from the rest of the budget, and thought they would be able to exert something from the process they should have been more self-aware.  Such a move was doomed to be a messy and bad public-relations matter from the start.

Conservatives have not disappointed us by providing lots of theatre.   It makes for a great show for us politicos, but does not please the vast majority of the nation who watches to see if the important work of the nation, when in the hands of Republicans, can be handled in a competent fashion.   The answer is clearly that is not happening.

This week the final act on DHS funding will likely fall on this play and the outcome will be plain for all to see.  Just one more embarrassing defeat for congressional Republicans who tried to stop government from working for the people.

Americans Want Their President To Have College Degree

March 2, 2015

Not the first time does the topic of a president needing a college degree make for a post on this blog.

-Americans want their President to have a college degree. Whether that’s actually going to hurt Scott Walker’s chances at the White House or not remains to be seen though. We find that 62% of voters think it’s important for the President to have a degree, compared to only 31% who think it doesn’t matter. There’s a large partisan divide on the issue- Democrats by an 81/14 spread think it’s important while Republicans are evenly divided on the matter at 45%.

When it comes to whether this is actually an issue people are going to vote on though, only 38% say they’re less likely to vote for a Presidential candidate who doesn’t have a degree compared to 57% who either say it doesn’t matter or that they’d actually be more likely to vote for a hopeful who didn’t have one. And beyond that it’s hard to imagine too many voters who find Scott Walker otherwise appealing saying his lack of a college degree is a deal breaker. But at least theoretically the 62% of voters who think it’s important could be an issue for him.

Guitarist James Edward “Spider” Wilson Dead At 79

February 28, 2015

A longtime fixture on the legendary Grand Ole Opry has passed away.  Guitarist James Edward “Spider” Wilson died Thursday at the age of 79.

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It has been reported that Wilson was so enamored with country music as a young man that he used to stand outside an open window of the Ryman Auditorium and listen to Hank Williams perform.    There is clearly a nostalgic image for such a scene.  It was not long before Wilson began playing with Little Jimmy Dickens and his band in 1947, and toured with Ray Price before joining the house band at the Grand Ole Opry in 1953, before he was out of his teens.

One can just imagine all the stories that Wilson could tell about the early days of the Grand Ole Opry and the first big stars that made WSM radio the “The Air Castle Of The South”.  Wilson held that job at the Opry for more than five decades.   Over his lifetime he also was a popular studio musician and can lay claim to having worked with just about every major country sdinger in Nashville.

Sadly, however, his tenure at the Opry came to an end in November of 2006 when he quit the house band after 53 years, claiming that he was being excluded from the televised segments of the Opry broadcasts, which paid more than the portions that aired on the radio.

I have, from time to time, posted about how the Opry has turned its back on older artists and musicians at the Opry, and I have no doubt that Wilson has a legitimate compliant with Opry management.

Wilson is in a variety of film footage such as this one from the 1950’s featuring “Little” Jimmy Dickens.

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