Cancer And Wisconsin Politics

The reports the past few days about two candidates in Wisconsin suffering from cancer has hopefully added some perspective about mere politics from the other issues that confront all of us as humans.  News that Republican lieutenant governor candidate Rebecca Kleefisch has colon cancer, and Ed Thompson who is running for the state senate has pancreatic cancer surely made everyone pause for a moment.

If you were like me when hearing the news about both of these candidates you felt that the latest Wisconsin polls or the spin from that ad or endorsement did not seem so important.  All of a sudden the importance of just being alive and healthy was primary and far more important than how to score on the political opponent.

We know that both  Kleefisch and Thompson are trying their best with the political battles currently underway.  Now they also have to fight a more personal battle with a far more aggressive opponent that never plays fair.  Worse yet they have to do part of that in front of the public at election time.    If ever there was a time for some ‘space’ to be granted, these would be two perfect examples of when it should be offered with no explanations needed.  I think the human needs for both of these people far exceeds any political requirements.  Period.

I think everyone from both sides of the aisle, and everywhere in between wishes only the best to these two individuals.  Winning for them will mean far more than the outcome of any election in November.   While I am aware that Kleefisch has very optimistic news from her doctor we are also aware that cancer is tough.   We hope her medical condition improves every day. 

There is probably no more fun-loving politician who has had a bigger shadow to get out from under than Ed Thompson.  I say that in the most kind way about his brother Governor Thompson.   There must be thousands of prayers headed Ed’s way every hour as he fights his battle.  If Ed is as scrappy with cancer as he has been in politics I am betting the house on Ed winning!

For the rest of us this might be a time to think about all the little things we take for granted everyday.  And be thankful for what we have.

Shortage Of Death Penalty Drugs

Here is where a conservative Republican could start a new business.   Without doubt he will need a tax break to do it……

But who could have imagined that executions would be delayed in some states due to the shortage of a drug used in lethal injections?

Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. was scheduled to die today in California, which has not had an execution in nearly five years. The execution date was set for Thursday in part because California’s supply of thiopental sodium, one of the three drugs used in lethal injections, is due to expire tomorrow.

But legal challenges have halted the Brown execution meaning California may be one drug short of the cocktail needed to resume executions.

What Is Wrong With White America?

Last night while listening to commentary regarding the Rolling Stone article on President Obama the question was asked of the writer if he thought the Tea Party was racist, and if so to what degree.   His answer was that he thought there was a segment of the nation which felt white America was being treated unfairly. Many of those who felt that way are now what is termed the Tea Party.   The writer could hardly not smile when making that statement as he, along with every other sane person, knows white America, especially white males, have life on a rainbow in this nation.  Always have.

So what gives with all the anger and nastiness that has permeated this election cycle?  There is no doubt in uneasy economic times that all sorts of ugly fissures open in society and ooze stuff that in better times is kept in check.  And yet the volume of disgusting actions and words make that simple attempt at an answer inadequate to what we all witness.

Beyond the basic economics is the fact that when white America sees President Obama they see the future.  For some that is most unsettling.  After all, a white majority population in America is not the future.  The world is brown, and the trend lines have this country moving in the same direction.  And quickly.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Embracing what makes us diverse has always been the way for social progress, and it also allows for personal enrichment. 

In early 2009 I read an article in The Atlantic that I want to flip back to for a moment.  Some paragraphs just never leave my head.

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America, we’re approaching a profound demographic tipping point. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities—blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians—will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023, which means that every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.

There is a tremendous social flux that is taking place day-to-day in the nation, and some hate it.   When an intelligent black man….and both parts of that statement matter…was elected to the White House something snapped in the minds of too many insecure white people.  They saw the future, and it un-nerved them.  Mind you, the problem is not with the nation, the problem is with that segment of the white population that somehow feels threatened by the future.

Not only is President Obama black but he is a constitutional scholar and able to analyze complicated national issues which places him far over the educational level of many in the country.  If only the angry white ones can say he is a muslim (as if that even matters) or try to make others think he was not born in the nation (which he was) then they can tarnish him enough and bring this uppity black man down a peg or two.  That is, after all, what we have been witnessing for the past 20 months.  It is ugly.

I have no way to understand the fear and anger that I read about every day from the Tea Party types, the anger of white males.  While I always try to gravitate to the smart folks at a cocktail party there are others who feel threatened by those encounters.  It is that very dynamic that is now playing out in the national arena. Consider the upside to this trend of more ethnic inclusion into the governing class, the invigorating results of inclusion.

Whiteness is no longer a precondition for entry into the highest levels of public office. The son of Indian immigrants doesn’t have to become “white” in order to be elected governor of Louisiana. A half-Kenyan, half-Kansan politician can self-identify as black and be elected president of the United States.

These two men mentioned are in many ways political opposites and yet they are the same.  Americans.  What is so hard to understand that they each are like the rest of us and care about family and their favorite sports teams.  They went to college, worked hard, pay taxes, and are now following the American Dream.  Just because they worked harder and achieved more seems little reason to rant and rave.  That they are not white is even less reason.

Just a few thoughts this morning on a topic that will be with us for decades.

Now pass the hummus……(just one of the many pleasures of diversity.)

Hotel In Space By 2016

I want a view of Jupiter.

Really, this is just about the most intriguing news story of the morning.  If having morning coffee is fun with the crazy squirrels out my Madison window what must it be like to look out at the enormity of space and ponder it all with java?  (They will have my morning blend in space, right?)

A Russian company has unveiled an ambitious plan to launch a “cosmic hotel” for wealthy space tourists.Orbital Technologies says its “comfortable” four-room guest house could be in orbit by 2016, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reports. 

Guests would be ferried to the hotel on a Soyuz shuttle of the type used to transport cosmonauts to the International Space Station (ISS).The Moscow-based firm did not reveal how the hotel would be built or funded. 

Up until now space tourists, such as American businessman Dennis Tito, have squeezed into the cramped ISS, alongside astronauts and their experiments.The new hotel would offer greater comforts, according to Sergei Kostenko, chief executive of Orbital Technologies. 

“Our planned module inside will not remind you of the ISS. A hotel should be comfortable inside, and it will be possible to look at the Earth through large portholes,” he told RIA Novosti. 

The hotel would be aimed at wealthy individuals and people working for private companies who want to do research in space, Mr Kostenko said. It would follow the same orbit as the International Space Station. 

The first module would have four cabins, designed for up to seven passengers, who would be packed into a space of 20 cubic metres (706 cubic feet).Mr Kostenko did not reveal the price of staying in the hotel. 

However he did say that food would be suited to individual preferences, and that organisers were thinking of employing celebrity chefs to cook the meals before they were sent into space.

Glenn Beck To Be Featured In New York Times Magazine This Sunday

Snippet from long solid read.  Mark Leibovich writes it like it is.  The bold highlights are mine.

When I mentioned Beck’s name to several Fox reporters, personalities and staff members, it reliably elicited either a sigh or an eye roll. Several Fox News journalists have complained that Beck’s antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself a legitimate news outlet. …

While Beck’s personal ventures and exposure have soared this year, his television ratings have declined sharply – perhaps another factor in the network’s impatience. His show has averaged 2.1 million viewers a night this year through mid-September, compared with 2.8 million in the same period of 2008, according to Nielsen Ratings. He also brings headaches. As of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck’s show (up from 26 in August 2009). Fox also has a difficult time selling ads on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ and ‘Fox and Friends’ when Beck appears on those shows as a guest. Beck’s show is known in the TV sales world as ’empty calories,’ meaning he draws great ratings but is toxic for ad sales. If nothing else, I sensed that people around Fox News have grown weary after months of ‘It’s all about Glenn.’ I was sitting with Bill Shine, the director of programming, on the Wednesday after the Restoring Honor event, which was held on a Saturday and still drawing analysis in the news media four days later. At the end of a half-hour interview in which Shine spoke well of Beck, a look of slight irritation flashed his face. He shook his head slightly. ‘The president of the United States ends the war in Iraq,’ Shine said, which Obama did the night before in a speech from the Oval Office, ‘and on Wednesday we’re still talking about Glenn Beck.’”

Why Is Green Party Candidate Ben Manski Using Democratic President Obama In His Campaign Literature?

I was truly amused when a college student thrust into my hand a piece of literature Tuesday at the President Obama rally.    The face-up side to the half-page thick-stock  flyer had a picture of Obama and two quotations he recently gave at a political event.

But then the flyer turned into a Ben Manski for State Assembly piece, and when flipped over featured more on his race along with a photo of the candidate.


Seems not too long ago Ben Manski was doing all he could to undermine the Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore to make sure Ralph Nader would be elected to the White House.  Seems the only thing America got was an election decided by the Supreme Court, and an invasion of Iraq.  Someone made a bad decision on who to back for the White House.  But now Manski is using  Democratic President Obama for his political advantage! 

Was President Ralph Nader not available for an endorsement?

The piece of political literature is an attempt to make voters think that Manski somehow has the backing of this president or more broad support among Democrats than he actually has.  There is NO mention that Manski is not a Democrat, nor that he is running on the Green Party ticket. 

This type of politics cheapens the credibility of Ben Manski.  Worse, this is not good for the political process that Manski claims needs fixing.

James Heselden, Segway Owner Dies….On A Segway

Took a Segway off a cliff. 

Call it irony, fate or simply an accident: in Britain, the owner of Segway died over the weekend when he apparently drove one of the devices off a cliff near his home, The Associated Press reported.

Grand Ole Opry Re-Opens With Amazing Show

The second big news story yesterday, other than President Obama coming to Madison, Wisconsin was the Grand Ole Opry re-opened with a very emotional homecoming.

At a press conference prior to the show, 89-year old Little Jimmy Dickens, who is the oldest living member of the Opry, said he never dreamed that the Opry House could be restored to the extent that the building’s owners have accomplished. “It is very touching for me to see what all they have done out here,” Jimmy said. “I really look forward to coming to the Opry each week, not just to perform but to see and visit with my friends.”

Bill hosted the first portion of the Opry show, noting that he was the last person to sing on the stage before the flood waters covered it. “I guess it is only fitting that I am the first person to sing tonight,” he said as he took the stage. There was an air of warmth and love as the various members of the Opry took their places to perform. Jeannie recalled to the audience that she not only lost the Opry House, but her personal home was completely devastated by the flood. “I remember talking with some girlfriends and saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could just throw out everything and start over from scratch?’ Let me tell you you, when you have to do it it’s not near as fun as just talking about it.”

Mel Tillis drew a great response from the crowd with his medley of ‘Good Woman Blues’ and ‘I Got the Hoss.’ Riders in the Sky declined to yodel when they followed Jean Shepherd singing ‘Second Fiddle (Tt an Old Guitar).’ Instead, Ranger Doug and his pals chose to do ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds,’ complete with the appropriate sounds of coyotes and other critters from Too Slim.

“It’s an honor for me and the boys to be here for this auspicious occasion,” Keith said when he took the stage. He went on to tell the audience, “I was all set for a recording session on the Monday after the flood, but all my guitars were destroyed. I borrowed some guitars and in the spirit of ‘the show must go on,’ we went into the studio and we did record as planned!”

Martina welcomed Connie Smith to the stage to sing with her. “I am very honored to get to sing with her on the Grand Ole Opry stage,” Martina said. The two performed Connie’s smash hit, ‘Once a Day.’

Trace brought a little humor to the occasion when he came out to sing his latest single, ‘This Ain’t No Love Song.’ “You know when the flood waters were four feet high, Little Jimmy Dickens would have had to be swimming if he was standing here,” he said, pointing to the stage and the circle of wood from the Ryman. He paused a few seconds, then added with a grin, “I’d have been all right though!”

Brad chose to do his song, ‘Anything Like Me,’ while sitting on a stool, with just his guitar. “I had to fight back the tears on that first song tonight,” he admitted. “I believe the Opry House is the greatest place in the world to sing country music.”

Josh Turner recalled playing the Opry on the night before the flood hit. “We left the stage and took off for a concert date. When we got back all of the band members’ cars that were parked in the parking lot were under water, so now they have all new vehicles.” In introducing his song, “All Over Me,” Josh said, “I feel kinda awkward singing this song tonight, because it’s all about water, but I’m gonna do it anyway.”

Josh invited Lorrie Morgan to join him onstage, and the two performed the George Jones/Tammy Wynette hit ‘Golden Ring.’ “I can’t wait to sing this with Josh Turner,” Lorrie said as she took the stage. The crowd applauded the two as Josh finished the song, delivered in his very best George Jones singing voice.

Dierks Bentley chose to honor the bluegrass tradition of the Opry, singing ‘Draw Me a Map,’ from his most recent album, ‘Up on the Ridge.’ Then he invited bluegrass great Del McCoury and his band to join him. “In 1963, Del was playing with Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, and he recorded this song with Bill. I wanted my chance to sing it with Del, so we’re gonna do it tonight.” They then launched into a rousing version of ‘Roll on Buddy, Roll On.’

Charlie Daniels and Montgomery Gentry brought the house down with their rendition of ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia.’ “It is always an honor to stand on this circle,” Charlie said before inviting the duo to join him onstage. “These are two of my best friends from the music business,” he said by way of introduction. The crowd gave them a standing ovation as they finished the tune.

Blake and Trace sang their hit duet, ‘Hillbilly Bone,’ prior to Blake being invited to become the newest member of the Opry on October 23. A guitar jam with Brad, Keith, Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs and Marty Stuart closed the evening. As the musicians played the last notes of Merle Haggard‘s ‘Working Man Blues,’ the audience once again came to its feet to honor all the Opry members and guests who had graced the stage and the Grand Ole Opry itself.

The other account linked above….

Before the big event, Brad, Martina, Keith Urban and Opry mainstay Little Jimmy Dickens met with reporters to talk about the newly renovated Opry House. The backstage area has been completely refurbished with new furniture and the stage has been restored with darker wood, giving it a more luminous appeal. “What they’ve done is nothing short of miraculous,” said Brad. “I can say that I am amazed,” added Martina. “I am proud to be part of this historic night.”

The guest lineup could truly be termed “historic,” as it arguably featured the most impressive single-night lineup in the nearly 85-year history of the Grand Ole Opry. The show opened with the stage going dark, followed by a single spotlight shining on Brad and Little Jimmy, who kicked off the opening notes of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” At that point, stars such as Charlie Daniels, Connie Smith and Marty Stuart joined others in filling the stage, picking up the thread of the song. The crowd rose in approval, sharing the emotional moment with the artists.

The night continued with one superstar performance after another. Blake Shelton took the stage with his latest hit, “All About Tonight,” followed by Jason Aldean, playing an appropriate number, “My Kind of Party.” The crowd roared approval for a couple of duets, Josh Turner and Lorrie Morgan on “Golden Ring” and Martina and Connie Smith on Connie’s breakthrough hit, “Once a Day.” Toward the end of the show, the Charlie Daniels Band and Montgomery Gentry ripped through a rousing version of Charlie’s classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” drawing the loudest ovation of the night. The show concluded with a guitar jam featuring Keith, Brad, Steve Wariner, Marty and Ricky Skaggs on Merle Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues.”

The final two hours of the show were televised by GAC. During the opening non-televised hour, fans were treated to a variety of performances by legends like Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Mel Tillis and John Conlee. Diamond Rio also took the stage for their hit, “One More Day.”