Harry Caray And The 7th Inning Stretch With “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”

I liked Harry Caray because he was an interesting radio personality.  He was never dull, and sometimes even sober. Even if one was not really into following a baseball game on the radio Caray made it enjoyable. I mean all this in the best way.  I really did find it fun to hear him call a game.   Now that it is baseball season again, and thoughts turn to warm weather and the eternal hopes of the Chicago Cubs, (Go Cubbies!)  I think a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” with  Harry is only proper.

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Hillary Clinton In Ironic Situation Over Health Care For Campaign Staff

I think this one is going to be remembered for a long time.    The Politico reports.

Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out. Clinton, who is being pressured to end her campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, has made her plan for universal health care a centerpiece of her agenda 

I know every campaign has blunders and errors that seem silly in hindsight.  But this one just feels so silly and stupid for even having happened.  Given the thrust of her rationale for wanting to be President, this was a set of bills I would have insisted get paid.

But that is just me.

The campaign provides health insurance to all its employees, their spouses, partners and children — and that wasn’t interrupted by any lag in payments to insurance providers, said Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.


But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings.

They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.Though the campaign reported owing $63,000 to Carefirst at the end of February for employee benefits, it appears Clinton paid that company on a more frequent basis. The New York senator’s presidential campaign began the month owing $299,000 to Carefirst, but paid that amount in its entirety, and the $63,000 it owed at the end of the month appears to be from services rendered last month.

If we recall after the Texas and Ohio primaries we were told by the Clinton campaign that the weeks leading up to Pennsylvania was to showcase why she was more ready and able to be the Democratic nominee. Instead the weeks since the last primaries have proved to be more of the same bad news for the Clinton forces.

Let us move on and unite behind Barack Obama.

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WMC And NRA Supports Michael Gableman Because He Will Be Pliable

If anyone has followed the Wisconsin State Supreme Court race even remotely these past weeks, it is clear that Michael Gableman is not ready for prime-time.  Not even close.  His canned and rehearsed answers, which he spouts regardless of the question being asked, demonstrates his lack of intellectual heft.  I truly felt embarrassed for him in the debate held this weekend on statewide TV because it was clear he was way in over his head.  Gableman proved that he did not have the substance and background that is required to do the job on the court, as he had no real answers to any question.  That has been true about his performance this entire campaign.  Political attacks and high rhetoric are not resume enhancing additions when seeking a seat on the court.

Worse yet his total disregard for basic constitutional safeguards makes him wrong on the issues, and wrong for the court.  It was so comical at times these past weeks listening to Gableman that I wanted to collect a fund in order to send him to a remedial civics course.

Having said that, why does Wisconsin Manufactures and Commence, and the National Rifle Association cozy up to such a dreadful and cerebrally challenged candidate?  How pliable do they know Michael Gableman to be?  The answer of course should concern all Wisconsin voters.

When I read that the NRA gave over $73,000 to the Gableman campaign, knowing as they must that he does not have the intellectual depth needed to do the job of the Wisconsin citizen  while serving on the court, I knew for certain that they had pegged him as a lightweight that would do their bidding. 

I for one do not want a Supreme Court judge merely playing the role of a jurist, while siding with the special monied interests that have proved many times not to have the best in mind for the workers and citizens of the state.  The rush by groups such as WMC and the NRA to unload money on a candidate that is clearly not ready for the job shows their true intent.  That should concern the voters right into the ballot box!

The money from WMC and the NRA to buy ads and votes is not because they are in love with the notion of democracy, mom, and apple pie.  They want high court rulings to reflect their narrow vision of what the law should, or should not allow.  If WMC and the NRA win with their money on Tuesday that means the Wisconsin citizen will have lost.

This is the year for change.  From top to bottom voters can send a message that we want and expect higher quality candidates, and more responsive government.  And we want to put an end to the special interests making sure that the working men and women who pay the taxes are left outside the circle. 

We can send a message to WMC and the NRA on Tuesday when we cast a ballot for Louis Butler for Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

That message will also be heard by the nation that is watching this race.

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Governor Doyle Shows He Is Fiscally Prudent And Enjoys A Fine Film


It is nice to see the man who leads Wisconsin wearing sneakers and relaxed clothing and doing what the rest of us do on a Saturday night. 

After a sun-filled and remarkable spring day in Madison the clouds moved in on cold winds late in the afternoon.  We had been shopping, stopped in to say hello to my niece, and then caught some food.  Being that it was so nice when we left home in mid-afternoon I told James we did not need any jackets. (I really am the eternal optimist.)  Now it was cold outside and there was only one place that we thought perfect to warm up. That was a movie theatre.  In reality, any excuse for a good film is not hard for me to come by.

As we sat waiting for the film to roll Governor Doyle and his wife Jessica walked in and sat three rows up.  Like us, they also chose aisle seats.  It was a packed house at the budget theater in Market Square as everyone was ready to watch “Atonement”, a film about fledgling writer Briony Tallis, a 13-year-old who irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.  Set in England starting in the mid-1930’s the film takes us into WWII, and follows the heartaches of love and loss.  The movie was excellent and one I highly recommend. 

I smiled to James that the GOP charges of Doyle being a big spending liberal seemed hollow as he sat with other budget conscious movie fans in Madison.  It was just nice to see Governor Doyle able to relax on a Saturday night with his wife and be just like everyone else.  He certainly deserves it. 

P.S.  They did not buy any popcorn.  Neither did we.  (You need a bank loan for a bag of the stuff.)

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Why It Is Time For Hillary Clinton To Quit Race For White House

No one likes to see his or her efforts for any long-held effort or dream come to an end without a positive resolution.  When Potomac Fever and a politician’s ego combine there is a tremendous set of emotions and factors that make it hard for reality to sink in that the dream may not come true.  I certainly am not trying to be unkind to Hillary Clinton, or in any way minimize her desire to achieve her goals, but the facts are clear for all to see.  Her chance for the Democratic nomination slipped away many weeks ago and she now needs someone to tell her so in very clear and stark language. 

I have said that I think Hillary Clinton must feel crushed after having had all the money, the organization, the expectations, and the political clout only to see it all come undone in a matter of weeks.  In fact, I for one long thought based on these very reasons she would be the nominee.  I said that for a long time here on my blog, even after Obama started winning primaries and caucuses.  But the American people had a different idea about where they wanted the country to go.  That is the way the political game is played, and if one is big enough to get into the game to win, one also must be big enough to know when it is time to exit the stage.  I feel for her, and wish her well in her Senate career, which can be a powerful one, but she needs to leave the race for the White House.  Now.

The reasons why she must do so at once mount every day.  First among all else is the damage she is doing by her statements and actions against the eventual nominee, Barack Obama.  She gives the Republicans talking points and videotape almost daily for their efforts to undermine Obama in the fall campaign.  In addition the amount of resources she pulls from the party members to keep up a fight that cannot be achieved is daunting when looked at on paper.

After the matter with Obama’s pastor had slipped off the front pages and the polls by major news organizations had weighed in on the matter, it was apparent that Obama has the ability to fight negative issues that arise, and connect with the American people.  The latest Gallup Poll finds Sen. Barack Obama with an eight-point lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton, 50% to 42%.  In addition the Pew Research poll gave Obama even a stronger lead in their latest poll.

In the states that Clinton wishes to continue fighting Obama is going to commit himself, and again take a sizable number of votes and delegates.  In Pennsylvania even though Clinton leads in the polls, Obama is mounting a fierce campaign and will win a large number of delegates.  In North Carolina Obama is far ahead, and Clinton will be trounced.  This pattern does not allow Clinton to move the nomination in her direction.  There is no way that she can win the number of delegates needed to win.  And the voters are not going to stand by and allow a candidate to steal the nomination with superdelegates.  It just isn’t going to happen.  The party elders and strong forces with clout and money will not allow that from taking place.

Even after the fallout last week over the Reverend Wright matter, powerful U.S. Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania endorsed Obama in very strong and definitive way.  This was but yet another sign that even more moderate members of the Democratic Party are understanding what is happening with the American public.  They want Barack Obama to be President of the United States.

Hillary Clinton still has a political career, but to continue in her race for the White House in the style she has used over the past weeks, jeopardizes her role in the party and her political clout. 

It is time for Hillary Clinton to end her race for the White House.

It is time to move on and support our candidate for the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama.

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Is First Amendment The Primary Rule For Blogs And Newspaper Forums?

This past week I had to make a decision about whether to post a certain comment from a reader or not on this blog.  The person wrote a very long and highly charged response to a political post here, and made it sound as if ‘any means’ to stop the election of a person to the White House might mean more than defeating a candidate at the ballot box.  It was way over the top, and really quite reprehensible.  The comment was deleted. 

The comment raises yet again a most interesting set of questions in this new world we live in, as we obtain more news and information from online sources.  Blog sites are not the only ones in need of some answers, as newspapers that have online forum sites where the public can weigh in with conversation on a whole set of topics, also might be in need of guidance. 

While no one should have any concern about deleting the type of comment mentioned above, there does seem to be questions about other types of offensive speech.  I admit I have no clear answers to the issues that confront bloggers and other type of forums.  I do however have a series of questions.

For instance, how far should a blogger allow a person to comment on racially divisive matters regarding immigration when the words used are the kind intelligent people would not use in dinner conversation?  Should I allow a person to use the “N’ word here on my blog while commenting, when I would not want to read it on another’s blog?  Or in the online forum section of The New York Times?

Perhaps more murky and questionable is the role and responsibility that we have as bloggers.  Do I have a responsibility to insure accuracy (as best I can) over issues that have major consequences? 

For example if a comment paints Iraq as being responsible for 9/11 (it was not) do I allow that to be published knowing that far too many thought it to be true, and it added to the national mood that resulted in a war?  False information repeated endlessly has a way of becoming the truth.  Do I want to be a part of the echo chamber of lies?  We all witnessed that very thing, as we all know too well, and now continue to pay the price for being lied to as a nation.

When charges fly in hate filled messages about Barack Obama and his faith, and readers try to paint him as a radical Muslim do I have a duty to stop the lies since Obama is a Christian?  (Forget for the moment that religion should not even play a role in the first place when deciding a leader for our nation.)  Do I have a higher responsibility to the First Amendment by allowing dreadfully false comments to be posted, or to the facts about the man who could be our next President if we do not allow lies from preventing it?

If someone were to verbally gay-bash in a comment to a post should I have ethical qualms if I delete it?  Or should I consider all conversation to be equal and part of the larger dialogue that can now happen as a result of the internet age we live in?  

These questions have gripped me for some time and I have mixed answers.  Am I a blogger AND a gatekeeper?  If I am a gatekeeper then do I undermine the civil rights I champion when fighting for freedom of speech?

As we journey down the technology road these are issues and questions that need to be addressed.  I know that this blog is but a drop in the ocean, and yet I feel a duty to act in a responsible manner.  For the most part I have very few examples of the shallow end of the swamp posting here on my blog.  Most of that type are not reading my liberal blog from Madison.  But after the comment that needed to be deleted this past week I have a new found sense of  what many others deal with on perhaps a more frequent basis. 

I trust they also are concerned about the larger issues that develop as a result.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour Night Time Landing

Incredible landing! 

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Legendary WGN Broadcasting Pioneer Wally Phillips Dies



Once a week for several years I would get up before the sun and leave Sturgeon Bay to visit my home in central Wisconsin.  I was in my early 20’s, working at the local radio station, (WDOR) and feeling bouts of homesickness.  On the road in my blue Chevette I would drink coffee and drive westward as the day opened.  And on the radio was a friendly voice I had known since my high school days.

As I drove along I would marvel at the way Wally Phillips weaved the calls from the listeners with wit and information in such a way that it seemed effortless.  It was obvious from his banter and gentlemanly ways that he cared for, and respected his audience.  One thing was easy to discern when listening to him, in fact it was always clear from the start, Wally Phillips cared for those on the other side of the microphone.

Today the voice died.  Wally Phillips was 82 years old.

I heard the news early this morning as I was listening to WGN radio.  It was only natural that I heard about the famed Chicago broadcaster’s death on the station that was home to Phillips, the man who pioneered modern day talk radio.  It was his warmth, wit, and professionalism that first drew me to WGN as a teenager, and I never left.  WGN has awakened me every morning of my adult life.

Wally Phillips was the first person to make me truly enthusiastic about a possible radio career. (Clark Weber and Eddie Schwartz from WIND and WGN were the others.)  I would listen to Phillips as a kid and wonder how he did the amazing voice ‘drop-ins’, and seemingly effortless talk show that took place each day.   I wondered how he was able to be so funny and yet never cut loose and laugh himself, since I found it hard to be funny and not also enjoy the laugh with those around me.  

It was after I started broadcasting school that I discovered how proficient he was as a broadcaster, and how truly remarkable his production efforts were every day he was on the air.  I discovered how hard his job was even though he made it seem as if his whole audience was just a part of a large friendly conversation.  But in the studio he was a pure professional who had his hands on the dials and buttons that made him the host of the largest audience on AM radio.  In fact, he was number one in his morning time slot from 1968 until shifting for an afternoon slot in 1986.

As the Chicago Sun-Times reports his audience was almost 1.5 million listeners per day.

At the peak of his popularity as morning star at WGN, Phillips attracted half of all Chicago area radio listeners — an audience of nearly 1.5 million each day — making him the most listened-to radio host in the country.

“When we say ‘WGN Radio is Chicago,’ I quickly add that ‘Wally Phillips is WGN,'” said Wayne Vriesman, vice president and general manager of the Tribune-owned station. “He is the most creative, humorous and innovative person I have ever met in broadcasting. . . . (with) a lifetime of great radio listening and a public service never equaled in broadcasting.”

Wally Phillips was the first broadcaster to start the use of phone calls while on the air, allowing the listening audience to be a part of what he developed as the interactive nature of radio.  The calls were fun and uplifting, and interspersed with lines that were prerecorded with funny voices and ‘dropped-in’ at a moments notice.  It was a joy to listen to!

From 1984 listen to Wally Phillips.  The audio here is one of several that can be found on  WGN ,  the above segment is one where Wally celebrates “Goof-off Day” with a series of the “Candid Camera”-style phone calls he made famous. This edited segment includes a montage of calls originally taking place over several hours, including several to people in Atlanta and Lexington, where NCAA Tournament was being held, in which Wally attempts to see if the unsuspecting victims will offer weekend accommodations to him and his large family.

As The Chicago Tribune reports Phillips had an edgy streak that won him applause form his audience.

Phillips’ delivery occasionally had an edge to it, like the time he tracked down formal-wear mogul Ben Gingiss on a cruise ship on the Pacific Ocean and got him on the phone, saying “We’re down here at the store. . . . Where do you keep the fire extinguisher?” More typical was the morning when he started his broadcast by chatting with farm reporter Orion Samuelson about the coming Stomach Rumbling Finals in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Chicago Sun Times has a slide show of  Wally Phillips.

Wally Phillips was a far cry from what passes for much of talk radio today.  He was never mean, boorish, or ‘blue’ on the air.  After his more than 40 years of broadcasting had concluded he was considered by all as the king of his genre.  Much has happened to radio since Wally Phillips ruled the airwaves and helped encouraged this kid to give it a try.  I only wish that today’s youth would have the opportunity to know and love AM radio as it once was.

Thanks for the smiles Wally!  

I might add that WGN is still that diverse and wonderful station, that is often it seems, an island of great broadcasting on the AM dial.

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