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August 1, 2015

The brother of slain Cecil the lion, named Jericho, was killed today in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.  Jericho was gunned down by a hunter operating illegally.  Cecil was also killed illegally, and Zimbabwe is seeking the extradition of American dentist Walter Palmer on accusations that he and others illegally hunted the lion.


UW-Madison Football Players Must Meet Academic Criteria, Coaches Need To Stay Quiet

August 1, 2015

Once again we are witnessing a story where the tail is attempting to wag the dog.

This time it is taking place at the UW-Madison where University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez are seeking to change the process concerning appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes who do not meet the required academic standards.

The strange story of the coaches not knowing who is the final decision-maker for admissions came to a head this week over Jordan Stevenson.  He is a running back from Texas who was denied admission into UW by the admissions board based on academic concerns.  The player found a school that would take him. But it was rival Nebraska and the UW football coaches started to fume and plot.

About five years ago a policy change took place at the UW where coaches could no longer make appeals on behalf of prospective student-athletes to individual schools and colleges within the university.   The reason for the change is clear on its face.

But now the coaches want to change that policy.

The UW-Madison is a quality school of higher education and if one does not meet the academic standards or is proven to be unable to master the rigors of the classroom they need to seek another college.  Nothing more should be required to be heard on the matter.

That common sense thinking runs counter to what the football program cares about. For the coaches it is all about racking up a winning score on Saturday afternoon.

Many believe that only the best recruits for the classroom should be the ones selected to attend the UW. Some semi-illiterate player who will spend much of his time lifting weights or pondering the deeper world of a film major do not fit in with the values that most place on higher education.

When I talk to my friends around the country I am always proud to discuss the UW, a place recognized far and wide as a top-ranked global research university.

But what people like Chryst and Alvarez desire is to continually promote and enlarge the image of the UW as a NCAA powerhouse. Cut corners over who is allowed to be a student and work overtime to blunt the negative stories that arise from young people being tossed into the cash-ridden NCAA.

Many families across this state scrimp and save so they can hopefully send an academically-worthy child to the UW-Madison to mine the books.  It is therefore a slap to those families if a person who can only throw a football, but has high priced coaches working on his behalf, can also attend the school.

There is a sign on a building going up the hill towards Bascom Hall that speaks to the desire that real students had for attending this university in its formative days. Those students needed to make sure they obtained wood to keep the stove supplied for fire. It was not easy to be a student in those days, but they fully understood the value of an education and so did what was needed to attain it.

It is those same values that must lead the UW today. We can not allow the football coaches to water down the process of admissions.

George McGovern Revealed To Historian He Had A Secret Child

July 31, 2015

An academic with a forthcoming biography of 1972 Democratic presidential candidate and former senator George McGovern has confirmed that the South Dakotan fathered a child before he was married.

He said McGovern, as an 18-year-old freshman at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., lost his virginity to the girlfriend of a friend during a trip to Lake Mitchell in December of 1940 or January of 1941, and immediately got her pregnant.

Rand Paul Makes Correct Point About 2016 Election

July 31, 2015

(Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.)

Sen. Rand Paul is attributing GOP presidential rival Donald Trump’s rise in the polls to a momentary “loss of sanity,” The Hill reports.

Said Paul: “I think this is a temporary sort of loss of sanity, but we’re going to come back to our senses and look for someone serious to lead the country at some point.”

I guess we now know who the next person Trump will spew pea soup at in the campaign.

Mayor Soglin Needs Public Support To Stem Homeless Problem Downtown

July 30, 2015

The fight for the future of downtown Madison is not solely about the design or funding for Judge Doyle Square. While that is a vital component to a vibrant and ever-more financially strengthened isthmus there is another battle that has been waged way too long that needs attention.

It is a battle that Mayor Paul Soglin has been fighting, but too few of his fellow citizens have actively joined alongside him up to this point. The issue surrounds the homeless and the manner in which they have started to change the face of the downtown area.

We can all say with sincerity that we want to help those who need to find a path forward.   We all can empathize with those who have lost everything and seek a helping hand. It should be noted that many taxpayers are willing to do their part. But there also comes a time when we need some blunt talk about those who are homeless and not inclined to help themselves.

More and more problems have developed from the actions of the homeless.  Now due to their increased numbers, and the lack of support from elected officials and committees  who have the power to make changes Mayor Soglin has proposed some of his own changes for the downtown area.  They are not radical or mean-spirited in any way. They are simply common-sense.

He wants to see an ordinance passed that would limit use of public benches downtown to one hour and prohibit people from lying on benches, public sidewalks or right-of-ways for most of the day and night.

Personally I am tired of the smell of uirine in public places and knowing that public employees feel concerned for their safety at the city-country building.

There is no doubt the city council will dither over and at some point fail to pass Soglin’s proposal. Too many council members, such as my Alder Marsha Rummel, only listen to the loud voices from the homeless advocates who demand so much from the city and county and yet hold those who need taxpayer help to so few benchmarks of responsibility.

For many long months Soglin has been saying what this city needed to hear. But the more strident set of voices, the ones that never effectively resolve the simmering problem, were the ones most heard.

Therefore it is time for the rank and file in Madison to say enough is enough when it comes to this matter and stand alongside the mayor.

There is enough crap (literally) to be found in places it does not belong, enough empty beds the homeless refuse to use, and programs that the homeless refuse to participate in to make a sane person wonder what in heck is wrong in this city.

People cannot complain about being homeless and then not avail themselves of every opportunity to change their situation.

Our city is a grand place. We have the resources and spirit to assist those who need our help. But those who seek our helping hand also have a responsibility to not make matters worse.

Soglin needs our support to make sure the downtown is not turned into a stink pot. If the city council can not find their way to act perhaps the citizenry can call and write to alert them that those who pay the bills demand some changes.

Reason To Worry About Large Cash Donations To Political Campaigns

July 30, 2015

There is no way to dismiss the dangers to our political process from the huge amounts of cash that is allowed to flow to candidates and various forms of campaign committees.   The lack of ability to investigate fully these concerns when it came to Scott Walker’s recall election through a John Doe Probe met with rightful scorn from good government types.  Ample evidence abounds as to why our election process is being harmed by those with the financial means to buy candidates and then also undermine the mechanics of investigations into how those funds were accumulated and used.  (As we saw in Wisconsin with the court proceedings regarding the probe.)

In today’s Wall Street Journal the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, the one the majority of GOP respondents in poll after poll declare as their first place choice, spoke freely about the money he has given to candidates and what he then expected in return.

The Republicans choice for president in the summer of 2015, billionaire Donald Trump, proves what is wrong with our campaign process.   Large fat cats are not interested in good government, but their bottom lines. 

“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Mr. Trump said. “As a businessman, I need that.”

He has given to more Republicans than Democrats over time, but some checks are eye-catching, such as nearly $10,000 to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and $5,000 to the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Less than 10 days after donating $2,000 to President George W. Bush in 2003, he gave the same amount to John Kerry, his eventual Democratic opponent in the general election.

Looking back at his prior praise of Mrs. Clinton, he reiterated that he needed to be on good terms with the Clintons as he pursued his business interests and couldn’t risk an unflattering comment. Beyond campaign cash, the real-estate developer and TV personality also donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation.

Mr. Trump said that he gave generously to candidates across the spectrum in keeping with what he saw as his obligations as a businessman.

“As a businessperson, I’ve given to almost everybody. I’ve given to Democrats; I’ve given to Republicans; I’ve given to independents,” he said.

Records show he has given to the federal political committees of at least three other 2016 presidential contenders. In 2014, he donated $2,600—the maximum allowed at the time—to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s re-election campaign and gave $5,000 to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s leadership PAC. He also gave $2,500 in 2012 to the leadership PAC affiliated with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who wasn’t running for president at the time.

GOP Debate: FAUX News “Making It Up As They Go Along”

July 30, 2015

This is yet another reason politics is so fascinating.   Meanwhile Democrats can sit back and state ‘Not my monkey.  Not my circus.’  This is so going to backfire in one way or another on the Republican Party.

At the start of his career, not long after he helped Richard Nixon win the 1968 election, Roger Ailes boasted to a reporter that television would one day replace the political party as the most powerful force in American politics. If there is any doubt that the Fox News founder has largely made that prediction come true, it should be erased by the panic that next week’s Fox debate is stoking inside the GOP. In a year that features the largest primary field in modern history — not to mention Donald Trump as a front-runner — campaign strategists worry that Ailes’s debate, which is likely to attract the biggest audience in cable-news history, could define the race more than five months before the first votes are cast.

In the absence of a clear answer from the network, advisers for both Kasich and Perry have taken to lobbying Ailes and Fox executives to use polls that put their guy over the line.

The thinking among the strategists I spoke with is that Ailes faces conflicting impulses when it comes to choosing Perry or Kasich. On the one hand, Ailes is certainly hoping to produce the best television, which would give the unpredictable Perry the advantage. “People will want Perry in just because of the ‘oops’ factor,” one GOP media adviser said, referring to Perry’s infamous brain freeze from 2012. Others stressed Kasich’s close relationship with Ailes, an Ohio native. Before getting back into politics, Kasich hosted a weekly Fox show. “Roger likes Kasich,” a Fox insider told me. “Plus Roger knows it’ll look awful if the sitting governor isn’t on that stage.” 

For the campaigns that do make prime time, there’s another wild card: Trump. Fox told campaigns this week that the candidates will be lined up onstage according to their poll numbers, with the leader in the center and the others to his left and right. That means if current numbers hold, Trump will be in the center flanked by Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. “There’s a lot of nervousness about where he’s going to be placed and who will be next to him,” one adviser said. In any normal debate, candidates would obviously fight to be in the middle, but being center stage next to Trump could be as much of a liability as an advantage. Who knows what he might do? “It’s almost like you don’t want to be too close,” one campaign adviser says, “in case he self-combusts.”

Inside Fox, the debate is generating controversy among Ailes’s senior ranks. “There’s total confusion about all of it. The Second Floor is making it up as they go along,” one Fox personality told me, referring to Ailes’s executive suite. According to sources, Fox executives are still undecided about which polls to use and who will be allowed on the stage. This week, for example, Fox amended an earlier rule that a candidate had to be polling above one percent to participate after it became clear that Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina, and George Pataki wouldn’t even make the 5 p.m. event. There’s also unease among some that Trump will likely get a starring role. “The problem is he’ll act like it’s his show,” another Fox personality told me.


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