Why Used Book Sales Bring a Smile

Saturday brought a number of friends and relation to our home for a day of conversation, laughter, and food.  One of those present was a friend from broadcasting school who I have kept in touch with since the days when we were both working at stations in Wisconsin.

As he parked his car and walked up the sidewalk I noticed a red book under his arm.

“I knew you would like this”, he said as he handed me Editorial and Political Cartooning by Syd Hoff.  “I think I paid a quarter for it at a sale at a local library.”

I love political cartoons, and the much appreciate those who can both draw and convey timely and punchy summations about the topic of the day.  Often on this blog there can be found political cartoons as they can define a person or event better than a 1,000 word article.

This is yet another example of the delight that comes from used book sales.   This also should be a  reminder that no matter how esoteric one may think a book may be, and therefore perhaps consider just tossing it as opposed to donating it for a sale, there is always someone somewhere that will be very pleased to own it.

This particular book came from the Milwaukee Area Technical College, and now finds a home in Madison where political cartoons are much appreciated.

Taking the time to box old books and donate them to a local sale may feel like extra work that you can not afford to take.

But let me assure you there is a smile somewhere coming your way when the right book makes a connection.

Sandra Day O’Conner Champions Civics Eduction

This is not the first time that CP has praised the work of Sandra Day O’Conner.

There is every reason to applaud the efforts of Sandra Day O’Conner for making merit selection of court justices better understood and accepted as a most practical way to ease the politicization of the judiciary.

Now comes another reason to support the efforts of the former member of the Supreme Court.

This blog has long been concerned with the dismal way civics is taught in our public schools–if it is taught at all.

This weekend O’Conner had some words to add to the debate about the need for more civics eduction, and CP strongly agrees.

How can we rebuild the public’s confidence in the court?
[We need] to teach people about the proper role of the U.S. Supreme  Court. It isn’t a political branch of the government. It resolves legal  disputes and interprets laws passed by Congress. We’re going through a  period where apparently voters are more suspicious about the motives of  the court, and that’s unfortunate. The court is the only branch of  government that explains the reasons for its decisions. The health care  opinion is more than 100 pages long. If people would stop to examine  those reasons now and then, maybe they’d be more accepting of the  process and the system. I would hope so.

Since you stepped down from the court, you’ve been working to teach young people about how our government functions. Tell us about your effort to improve civics education.
I think it’s the most important thing I’ve done. We have a complex system of government. You have to teach it to every generation. We want [young people] to continue to be part of it. We need ’em more than ever.

An Annenberg poll found that more people could name an American Idol judge than the chief justice of the United States.
That’s right. We have to do something about it. I want to [start with] middle schoolers. They enjoy learning at that age.

Your website, iCivics.org, is designed to make civics fun. How does it work?
What we know is that kids like to play games on the computer. So I set up an advisory group of fabulous teachers to tell me what we needed to focus on in a civics course. And then we [had] games designed that focus on [those parameters]. Young people spend an average of 40 hours a week in front of a screen. One or two hours a week would do to teach them civics.

The site also offers curriculum materials, right?
Yes, [materials] that teachers can use. Baylor ­University did a study: They put iCivics to use in a lot of schools in Texas for about three months. They didn’t just say it was good; they gave it rave reviews, said it was incredible, that it’s engaging, that the kids really learn.

The program is now used in 50 states and an ­estimated 55,000 classrooms.
I want to be in a lot more than that. I mean, that’s just to start.

What happens if we fail to teach our children civics?
You have citizens who don’t understand how ­government works and they’re kind of soured on it. All they do is criticize. They have no idea that they can make things happen. As a citizen, you need to know how to be a part of it, how to express yourself—and not just by voting. [Test your own civics knowledge with the Pop Quiz, left.]

Wisconsin Senate Debate: Imagery Played Larger Role Than Words

The first Wisconsin Senate debate Friday night was pretty much what most voters expected.  Neither Tommy Thompson nor Tammy Baldwin made any serious errors, while they each underscored the main themes of their campaign.

Everything seemed to follow the script that any politico could have predicted.  Thompson touted his record as governor and made it sound as if he were still a job creator, while Baldwin repeated the need for tax fairness and health care security for all.

So with the talking points well established it was left for the voters to reflect on imagery and style between the two candidates.

My first thought was that Baldwin was too tight, too coached, and too tense.  She made point after point, provided fact after fact, and as such made the debate informative.  But she seemed too controlled and not as conversational as I know her to be in most situations.

There were only a few times when her smile flashed, and I was hoping she would engage the voters with that more frequently.

I know Thompson has been a master politician, and has a track record to show that is indeed a fact.  But there appeared to be an underlying anger and tension in his face and body language during the debate that allowed for his talking points to be lost.  Repeating the same lines over and over may be the strategy for some debaters, but when they appear as trite lines to run out the clock of a debate they are then counter-productive.

There was one lingering image that remains from the debate when Thompson had his head down while looking straight ahead.  His chin was tucked down towards his neck, and the layers of flesh rolled out and around.  Surely there was some media advisor to instruct him how to hold his body during the debate.

The reason I bring that image up is that it speaks to voters, I suspect, that Thompson has been around for a long time, and might be more interested in padding his legacy than making any changes in national policy.  Thompson looked aged, and worn out.  His ideas were not new, but repeated lines from the conservative playbook from over the years.  Voters might have looked at Thompson and noticed a politician who does not know when to leave the stage rather than a candidate for higher office.

I suspect that imagery played as much a role in the senate debate as the words.  If that was the case then Tammy  Baldwin was the victor.

Mitt Romney Hopes Zingers Might Make Voters Forget His Lack Of Specifics On Economic Plan

This can not be a real strategy…right?

“Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has
equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been
practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president
into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy.”<!–

Arthur Ochs [‘Punch’] Sulzberger, Brave Newspaperman Man During Pentagon Papers Case, Dies At 86

“You’re not buying news when you buy The New York Times, you’re buying judgment.”

There is no way to not notice the top news story on the front page of The New York Times.  But this is more than a story just for readers of the newspaper.

The article concerns a great American who impacted the newspaper industry, and made a difference for our democracy.

Arthur Ochs [‘Punch’] Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent
company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a
scale not seen since the newspaper’s founding in 1851, died on Saturday at his
home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86.

Sulzberger’s tenure, as publisher of the newspaper and as chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company, reached across 34 years, … from the era of hot lead and Linotype machines to the birth of the digital world. … Sulzberger’s insistence on [an independent voice for The Times] was shown in his decision in 1971 to publish a secret government history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. It was a defining moment for him and, in the view of many journalists and historians, his finest.

There is truly one of those must read obituaries, the kind the NYT is noted for when the notable of the nation and word pass away.  7,700-word obit!

Saturday Song: Loretta Lynn’s 50th Anniversary On Grand Ole Opry

The night before Loretta Lynn made her “Grand Ole Opry” debut in 1960, the 28-year-old mother of four and her husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, were so poor they slept in front of the building in their car and shared a doughnut for breakfast the next morning.

Lynn was inducted as an “Opry” member in 1962, and this past Tuesday night she was honored with a commemorative “Opry” show celebrating her 50th anniversary.

Lynn has come a long way from Butcher ‘Holler’, Kentucky.  Here are some moments from the past few decades on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

Republican Voter Fraud Causing GOP To Squirm

This is rich–coming from a party that makes it seem voter fraud is a Democratic Party problem.

Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Partyof Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant.

The controversy in Florida — which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County —  has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting.The RNC paid the company at least $3.1 million — routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia — to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do.

The RNC severed its ties to the firm Thursday after questions arose about the work Strategic Allied did in Palm Beach County, where election officials have turned over to prosecutors 106 voter registration forms submitted by one worker, some of which contained apparent forgeries and other problems.

Dolores and Ron Disher to Stand Trial For Strange 30-Year Social Security Scam In Wisconsin

Everybody loves a good mystery.  Be it the books we read as kids where ‘the butler did it’ to the PBS series Mystery which I loved to watch over the decades as an adult.

The latest ‘who-done-it’ that has captivated many around the state is taking place in Portage County.  The story has gone national, even making the Huffington Post.

Today the court found that enough evidence supports that Dolores and Ron Disher will stand trial in a social security fraud case.

The larger question hanging over the fraud case is where are Marie Jost, 100, and her son Theodore, 74.

“We have a real life murder mystery on our hands,” Assistant District Attorney Veronica Isherwood said.

Prosecutors dropped a bomb when they told the court Ronald Disher told two fellow inmates that his wife killed Marie’s Jost, and they buried her body in Amherst Junction.

Marie’s son, Charles, daughter, Dolores Disher and Dolores’ husband, Ronald were all charged with theft and fraud after investigators say they cashed $175,000 worth of Marie’s social security checks. Investigators says the three also changed their story when questioned about Marie and Theodore’s whereabouts.

In a news release, Captain Dale O’Kray from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department says investigators have stopped processing the scene at Marie’s Amherst Junction home. Several small bone fragments have been sent off to Madison for testing to determine if they are human. Earlier this month, cadaver dogs picked up spots of interest at the home.