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Alder Mike Verveer And The Wasting Of Taxpayer Money

August 24, 2016

I may differ with the tone of a few words here and there in David Blaska’s column but I absolutely agree with the foundation from which he stands when it comes to the wasteful use of $400,000 of taxpayer money and the continuing ridicule (and worse) of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

I think it hard to argue with the foundations of what Blaska wrote in this column.   The $400,000 should not have been appropriated in that manner, at that time, or for that reason.  Those who led the charge in the council  and those who foolishly voted for it need to be held accountable.  I also have no warmth for Progressive Dane—everything they touch is tainted with shades of crazy.   Blaska makes that clear.

So is the entire legalistic offensive against Madison police. Progressive Dane bought a first-class ticket on the Black Lives Matter victim train and now they’re driving it.

Former Progressive Dane chairman and alder Brenda Konkel promotes the complaint on her blog and, more damnably, on Progressive Dane’s own website.

“Support our petition to support our Alders in filing a complaint with the Police and Fire Commission against Chief Koval,” it reads.

Which raises a juicy conflict of interest question. The president of the Madison Common Council, Mike Verveer, has appointed a subcommittee to review citizen-police relations.

Read the rest and ponder what might have been done with the money in this city other than placate the seriously flawed element better known at Progressive Dane.

Making Our Muslim Brothers And Sisters Feel At Home

August 24, 2016

I am very proud to live in a city where there is a growing understanding about Islam and how the followers of this religion are being made to feel and know they are just like every other person in this place we call home. A well-written article in The Capital Times reports about the role the media plays in the way Muslims are portrayed.

While many in Madison’s Muslim population said they don’t experience the same kind of hostility that their Muslim counterparts face in other parts of the country, they point to the media as a primary source of rhetoric that roots Islamophobia among non-Muslims.

“Media is playing a critical role towards portraying Islam in a negative way and sadly it is the prime source of information for the masses,” said Sohail Siraj, owner of Best Brains Learning Center, an academic tutoring business in Madison.

Still, Muslims interviewed say they have found a supportive community here.

“It is important for the whole nation and the city of Madison to know that churches and other organizations reached out to us after all the anti-Islam rhetoric in the media about Muslims to show support,” said Gibril Jarjue, president of the Islamic Center of East Madison. “There is solidarity between Muslims and other faiths in Madison.”

Jarjue said the churches signed a letter in support of the Madison Muslim community.

“I hope other organizations in other cities learn from this kind of unity because we have families and kids here,” Jarjue said. “They are growing and they are Americans.”

The Gullible Ones Who Watch Faux News

August 23, 2016

Jim Rutenberg, media writer for The New York Times, nailed one of the problems with the electorate in a column this week.  Writing about how Sean Hannity looks like a reporter behind a desk on FAUX News while all the time pimping for Donald Trump allows for –how shall I say it–the cerebrally challenged to eat up a whole line of utter horse rot. What are offered as ‘facts’ are in fact something quite different.

I am one of those who think following the defeat of Trump this November that an audit needs to be made of our educational systems to understand how in hell so many uneducated rubes have been created in this nation.    Who can honestly tell me that anyone with a dose of common sense or one iota of intelligence could stomach even a couple minutes of Sean Hannity without seeking the remote to stop the crazy or blush that some one might catch them wasting time with such a lightweight?

Yet the overnight ratings show that there are more gullible people in this nation than most of us would care to think possible.   There are times we need to weep for our nation.

On other days, he has lent his prime-time platform to wild, unsubstantiated accusations that Hillary Clinton is hiding severe health problems. He showed a video of a supposed possible seizure that was in fact a comical gesture Mrs. Clinton was making to reporters, as one of them, The Associated Press’s Lisa Lerer, reported. He also shared a report from the conservative site The Gateway Pundit that a member of Mrs. Clinton’s security detail appeared to be carrying a diazepam syringe, “for patients who experience recurrent seizures.”

A simple call to the Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor, as I made on Friday, would have resulted in the

People in Mr. Hannity’s audience of 2.5 million who are inclined to believe the health allegations, and who believe the mainstream media are covering for Mrs. Clinton, are unlikely to be impressed by the Secret Service’s explanation.

That’s the ultimate result of the hyperpoliticized approach Mr. Hannity and so many others use in today’s more stridently ideological media: A fact is dismissed as false when it doesn’t fit the preferred political narrative.

But while this informational nihilism appears to have hit a new high, the last two weeks have signaled the start of a possible reckoning within the conservative media.

First there was The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens, who, after trading insults with Mr. Hannity over Mr. Trump, said on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” that “too much of the Republican Party became an echo chamber of itself.”

Those who spend an inordinate amount of time “listening to certain cable shows” and inhaling the conspiracy theories promoted on “certain fringes of the internet,’’ he said, wind up in a debate that’s “divorced from reality.”

Then there was the conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, who lamented in an interview with the Business Insider politics editor Oliver Darcy, “We have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media.”

That criticism was often warranted, Mr. Sykes said. But, as Mr. Sykes said, “At a certain point, you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there.” Therefore any attempt to debunk a falsehood by Mr. Trump, he said, becomes hopeless.

Letter From Home: “Motor Graders” 8/22/16

August 22, 2016

It was the scent of the exhaust from the motor grader that took me back in time.  In an instant nearly five decades simply dissolved.  I found myself in perfect alignment for the fumes emitted from the road equipment even though the constant lake breeze blows away pesky mosquitoes while bringing private sidewalk chats closer.  Sitting outside today with a book I was transported back to my childhood when the road in front of our Hancock home was reconstructed.

There must have been some reservations about whether I would have been asking for rides on the large trucks or directing traffic as my Mom made me watch the excitement that summer from inside the house.  I did not yet know the Geneva Convention surely would have outlawed such cruelty! But even from that confined space I could smell the exhaust fumes from the open windows as County Road KK was fashioned into something other than pressed stone.

Watching that road over the years was part of my boyhood.  Tractors, bean pickers, and every now and then a souped-up car making the long straight stretch roar with excitement was part of summer.  But in winter, after a harsh storm and the first push of snow from the plows, Uncle Karl (Schwarz) would come with a county motor grader.  What made it most impressive was the second extended wing that not only pushed the snow out of the way but up into amazing piles of white that stretched down the road as far as I could see.  Every now and then when I would wave energetically enough to get his attention he would wave from the cab.  Though he never sensed my real desire and stop to take me for a quick trip around the block.

I am sure my uncle was not driving the motor grader during the road construction of my youth.  Doubtless a company was hired to do that job.  But whoever was going back and forth grading our road had my full attention.

I still recall the many wooden stakes all over the road back home–and Dad telling me not to touch them.  I thought about that today as the man in the cab merely pushed his computer console to adjust the level of the blade that cut to the right depth of the grade.   I have no idea how the road workers of my youth made the perfect slope to the road but their eyes and experience were finely tuned as the project made everyone smile when it was finished.

I was reflecting on this when I thought how nice it would be to look at a picture of those days from when I was maybe seven or eight.  No such pictures exist, of course.  Who took pictures then of such a trivial event?

That was when I decided to snap a photo of the motor grader in front our home.

We all grow older and many new experiences and events take us far from the places of our youth.  But it is so special when something as ordinary as the scent of the exhaust from a piece of equipment can stop us from whatever we are doing while carrying us many miles and years away.

May it always be so.

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How Donald Trump Loses The Election

August 22, 2016

Here is the lay of the land today with the electoral college.

Much of this is the same as it has been for weeks.  The news with this summary is that Donald Trump’s slippage in the battleground states is to the degree they are no longer fixable.

I would add that after several Marquette Law School polls that are the best in the state for getting the feel and mood of the electorate with the latest showing Hillary Clinton with a sizable lead–and since Wisconsin has not voted for a GOP candidate for president since 1984–I think the pale blue for my state is just not accurate. The suburbs outside Milwaukee which should be deep red are not polling that deep hue with Trump at the top of the ticket. Wisconsin will be deep blue on Election Night.

160817-Ratings-2

Donald Trump appears to be drowning in the wake of the conventions. 

The GOP presidential nominee was in a precarious electoral position even before the conventions because of his high unfavorable ratings and penchant for controversial remarks. The four days in Cleveland were supposed to unite the GOP but appear to have done the opposite, as Trump has lost ground to Hillary Clinton in national and swing-state polls.

While the overall numbers in the Electoral College haven’t changed, certain key states appear to be slipping out of Trump’s reach while a few reliably Republican states are coming into play. We’re changing the ratings in seven states toward Clinton and just one in Trump’s direction.

Based on more recent presidential elections and demographic trends, any GOP nominee already faced an uphill battle in the Electoral College by needing to win Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado. With less than three months before Election Day, Trump’s path is rapidly evaporating as he falls behind in battleground states.

Here is a summary of the recent changes: Arizona: From Republican Favored to Leans RepublicanColorado: From Tilts Democrat to Leans DemocraticGeorgia: From Republican Favored to Leans RepublicanNevada: From Democrat Favored to Leans DemocraticNew Hampshire: From Tilts Democrat to Leans DemocraticNew Mexico: Democrat Favored to Safe DemocratOregon: Democrat Favored to Safe DemocratVirginia: From Tilts Democrat to Leans Democratic 

White Supremacists Love Donald Trump Over Immigration

August 22, 2016

This week I suggest Donald Trump’s immigration policy will be the source of much news coverage.  The racist language and policy suggestions from the start of Trump’s campaign for the White House some 14 months ago has in large part centered on somehow forcing roughly 11 million immigrants out of the nation at an untold expense, (not counting the legal costs) and then also building a wall–again without thought on Trump’s part–will somehow just be willingly paid for by Mexico.

Trump has been uncompromising on this matter though the professional class of politicians in the GOP want him to back off the crazy in an effort to broaden his appeal for the November election.  There is no way any sensible person could agree with his stunning show of racism or be lulled into thinking he has somehow ‘changed’ and is now more reasonable with a new way of talking about immigration.  (I firmly believe that this cake of an election is baked and there is no way Trump can win.)

Even if Trump were to somehow make a pivot on immigration his base of three-thumbers would howl in protest.  After all it is his most ludicrous statements that has jelled his uneducated base of support from Day One.

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel has a must read about the white supremacists who love and adore the hate filled sewage that drips from Trump’s mouth over immigration.

Jared Taylor hits play, and the first Donald Trump ad of the general election unfolds across his breakfast table. Syrian refugees streaming across a border. Hordes of immigrants, crowded onto trains. ‘Donald Trump’s America is secure,’ rumbles a narrator. ‘Terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out. The border, secure; our families, safe.’ Taylor, one of America’s foremost “racialists,” is impressed and relieved. ‘That’s a powerful appeal,’ he said. ‘If he can just stick to that, he is in very good shape.’ From his Fairfax County home, Taylor has edited the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance and organized racialist conferences under the ‘AmRen’ banner. He said that Trump should ‘concentrate on his natural constituency, which is white people,’ suggesting that winning 65 percent of the white vote would overwhelm any Democratic gains with minorities. When Trump made Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon his campaign’s chief executive last week, Taylor found reasons to celebrate. It was the latest sign for white nationalists, once dismissed as fringe, that their worldview was gaining popularity and that the old Republican Party was coming to an end.

Green Bay City Council Understands Need For Revenue

August 21, 2016

I want to sincerely applaud the thoughtful people on the Green Bay City Council, and their mayor who cast the tie-breaking vote that killed a plan to give $2 million in excess stadium tax money to property owners.  This past week in a remarkable showing of long-range thinking that council voted to direct the money to public projects, including streets, parks and sewers.

There had been a proposal to send a rebate check to property owners which would have totaled about $80 to $90 per person.

There is no denying money sent back in such a small amount would not have produced any ‘bang for the buck’.  A couple meals out, or a few fill-ups at the gas station and the money would have been spent.

But taking the full amount and investing it into a project that would benefit the entire city allows for a much more reasonable way to make revenue work for the citizenry as a whole.   Some on the council correctly argued that using the money for projects that increase the city’s tax base would have longer-term benefits.

The reason I wanted to post about this council action is because I am aware too often that I write about things of which I disagree.  I really am a very positive and optimistic person but too often that side is not reflected on this blog.  This story is something which shows how doing the right thing, even in the face of the usual blowback, deserves public praise.

This action from Green Bay is the type of real policy thinking that needs to come from more units of government.  The idea that there is never to be any new tax hikes or ways to reap revenue is a most absurd and untenable position from which to govern.  For far too long there has been a line of rhetoric that cutting government is the only way to move a nation, state, or city forward.  We have seen the limits and pure folly of such a political argument both nationally and locally.

Over the past several decades we have heard far too many politicians who have wanted us to believe that low taxes are good, and more public spending is bad.  The fact is when horrible events befall our nation, from hurricanes to failing bridges, dilapidated schools, or lack of health care it proves that we do not have the needed revenues required to build an adequate social service network and national infrastructure.

Those who study budgets for the cities where we live can attest to the fact more revenue is required to meet the needs of the citizenry,  The political rhetoric from some this election season does not the match the reality of the need for government programs and services.  There is definitely a need for more revenue and a renewed understanding as to why that is so.  This idea has long been one of my foundational issues when it comes to talking about government and politics.

So when I read how the Green Bay City Council acted in a most appropriate way to use excess funds to further grow their tax base I did a hand clap over the newspaper.  I nearly knocked over my coffee cup in the process, but I rarely read such an admirable action of this kind.

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