First Hint Of Spring In The Mail

Do not get me wrong.  I love winter, and look forward to the long days of snow and cold.  I like being ‘forced’ to be inside at this time of year, as there are many projects I enjoy completing.

But having said that there came a smile all over my face when I picked up the mail today.  The first seed catalog for the new season was delivered from Mansfield, Missouri.  As it just happened we had a friend from our block who lived in  Cape Girardeau drinking tea at our kitchen table.    We all smiled when I mentioned the catalog was described by The New York Times as “the Indiana Jones of seeds.”

In 211 pages of high gloss color the arrival let me know there are days when green grass and warm lake breezes will again dominate the outdoors.

seed catalog

Supreme Court Not To Hear Any Gay Marriage Cases (As Of Today)

Most interesting.

The Supreme Court didn’t take any action on gay-marriage cases before it,  despite expectations that the court might decide whether it would take up the issue.

The Supreme Court took no action on either the Defense of Marriage Act cases or the Proposition 8 case.

Next week…..?

Is Human Nature Better If We Think One Person Perfect?

I admit this is a rather odd topic for this blog, and yet it is spot on given what I am reading these days.

When riding the legal circuit Abraham Lincoln loved to gather with his fellow lawyers and townspeople and talk late into the night.  Often the scene is painted of Lincoln at the center telling wonderful tales and funny stories.  But there were also many times when “conversation ranged through metaphysics of thought and experience” as Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in Team Of Rivals.

During one such discussion those gathered talked about whether the first president was perfect.  They talked about George Washington, and wondered given his outstanding leadership role in the nation if he was fallible.

Lincoln thought there was merit to keeping with the view that Washington should be thought of without blemish.  “It makes human nature better to believe that one human being was perfect, that human perfection is possible.”

Now clearly that is not possible, and Washington was more than fallible.

But the very idea that such a topic was presented, and viewed in the context Lincoln did says a great deal about the political landscape in the 1850’s.  It also says a great deal about who we are today when viewing such a statement against our own national tumult between the political parties.

The men  who talked late into the night at the taverns of Lincoln’s time did not have the resources yet gathered in books about Washington as Joseph Ellis, and so many others would do over the generations.  That does not mean that Washington was less a leader the more we learn  of him, but the complete man starts to become clear and his motivations and political acts are better defined and understood.  The myth evaporates the more we learn.

And is that a good thing or bad?

Lincoln might seriously wonder, given his statement in Illinois on the circuit.

My Mom might agree in part with Lincoln.  There were times over the years as I read about this president or that well-known politician that I would pass along the nuggets that were either newly discovered and written about, or at least were new to me.   She would at times say there was no reason everyone should know all those things about a president or leader.

I recall clearly her disagreement with the press talking about President Carter’s hemorrhoids, and she always felt it out-of-bounds when news about who Thomas Jefferson slept with was made known.   When polyps were found in President Reagan’s colon there was also mention back home from Mom about the ‘need to know’.

I tried to argue is was important history have a complete record, as then better insight can be made about the past.  Mom was never totally convinced.

I would love to hear what Lincoln would say about the tone of our politics, and if there was ever a way to think one person in our national life was perfect and should be thought of as not fallible.

On the one hand it was high-minded and lofty of Lincoln to place Washington on such a pedestal.  I think Lincoln’s ideals were much on display when he made the statement.  But the comment was made before the Civil War when human nature was about to display itself in a most awful way.

Lincoln would have had so many different views had time allowed for him to gain more perspective after the war ended.

Palestinians Win Major Goal In United Nations

While no one can overstate the need for constructive and broad-based negotiations between Israel and Palestinians there still can be sincere pleasure with the news today.

The United Nations General Assembly has finally endorsed an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority.  Even though the United States and Israel failed to live up to their stated ideals with their votes, the rest of the world can rejoice.

The resolution elevates the Palestinian status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”  There is no way to not see the richness to this outcome as it provides Palestinians new leverage in their dealings with Israel.  If Israel is nervous, than perhaps they need to adjust their actions and policies.

For too long the tables have been stacked to the detriment of the Palestinians.  Today the playing field was leveled just a bit  with the aid of major players on the world stage helping to make it so.

To those who made this possible there are many full hearts of appreciation from around the globe.

There remains so much to accomplish, but there should be no diminishing the goal that was set and realized in the UN this afternoon.

Grammatical Errors Not Best Way To Start Race For Top Education Position In Wisconsin

Republicans produce more humor when they claim to be serious.  Take the case of Wisconsin State Representative Don Pridemore.

I was reading some other blogs this afternoon and came across this post that made he howl.  Blogging Blue is one of the best blogs around, and made quite an impression here with this posting.

First, James is a college professor of language, and finds this type of grammatical lapse, especially from  one wishing to be head of the Department of Public Instruction, unforgivable.

Second, (from my perspetive) how do folks like Pridemore hire staff, and pay them when they do such a lousy job with what one can argue is the most important press release for the entire month?

Okay, so I’m not a teacher, but I was raised by a family of teachers aka union thugs, and if I ever put out a press release like this one, they’d lose all respect for me.

Here’s what they’d probably have to say about this press release:

“Pridemore” is a proper noun and should be capitalized. That’s so basic!

Look at the first sentence. It should read,  ”THE possibility” not “TO possibility.” That’s just laziness. Sheesh.

For the love of God, ”Superintendent” is spelled incorrectly! We raised you better than this.

The comma should be inside the quotation marks after “ideas.”

There should be a comma instead of a period after “change that” before “Pridemore added.”

“…expects to reach a decision on the race.” Please re-word that so it makes more sense.

This press release is really embarrassing.

How We Alter Senate Filibuster Very Important

I have made it clear something must change to prevent Senate Republicans from misusing the filibuster so to prevent government from functioning.

But having said that I am mindful of the process of making such changes, and the long-term impact to the institution.  I can only hope that others see the need to stop conservatives from continued abuse of the filibuster rule, but also see the negative consequences of making changes with a mere majority vote.

As I commented before, and repeat here a hope that I know is shared among many in that we need more sensible moderates from both parties that can meet in the middle and seek out what is best for the nation.

Failing that there is some trepidation among Democrats about the ‘nuclear option’, and I must say I am not opposed to their thinking.

I am very leery about changes to rules, except by the use of the rules,” said Senator Carl Levin, a veteran Democrat from Michigan, “and the rules require two-thirds of votes to change the rules. I prefer not to use a mechanism which I believe is dubious.”

Because Republicans are united in their dislike of the proposed changes, Mr. Reid would never get 67 votes — two-thirds of the Senate — to break a filibuster on the filibuster change. So he could instead avail himself of a controversial option that some proponents believe is available only on the first day of a new Congress and change those rules via majority rule, or 51 votes. Opponents insist that such a move would violate Senate rules.       

A majority of Democrats, frustrated by what they say is the consistent and brazen abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, appear to support changes to the rules, and some believe they do not go far enough. But others, deeply aware that a majority party today can be the sad and lonely minority tomorrow, are not keen on playing the “nuclear option” card, with majority rule.       

“I don’t like the nuclear option,” said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida. “I reserve the right to decide later, but instinctively I don’t like it. It’s avoiding the rules.” Mr. Nelson added that “a body like this runs on comity and common sense,” and he said he worried that going nuclear would do serious damage to that atmosphere.

My Blog Post On Lary Swoboda Makes For Column In Door County Advocate

I am pleased this appeared in the Door County Advocate today.  My post about Lary Swoboda made the news paper, and that makes me very happy.  When I first was offered the job with Lary while at the Kewaunee County Democratic Christmas gathering in 1986 I told him I would never let him down.  I think my column made sure a true reflection of the man was made known at the time of his death.

Below is the first potion of the news article from the Advocate, with mention of my column.

Lary Swoboda was a gentleman — and a gentle man.

Friends and former colleagues emphasized again and again Monday and Tuesday that Swoboda, who died Sunday at the age of 73, was willing to work as hard as necessary to help the people he represented for 24 years in the 1st Assembly District.

The Luxemburg native served Door, Kewaunee and parts of surrounding counties from 1971 to 1994, and his hallmark was being a friendly face in times of need.

In a column that appears on Page A6 of today’s Advocate, his former aide Gregory Humphrey described him as “a constituent’s best friend.”

“When Swoboda first arrived in his Madison office each week he would pull from his pockets and briefcase bits of paper with scribbled notes,” Humphrey said. “Someone from the barber shop wanted a Blue Book, a guy from the market had a homestead credit problem, a business person needed to have his plans moved faster through (than DIHLR), a woman at a fish fry had drinking water concerns and needed DNR assistance.”

Swoboda was proud to have been the only Democrat to hold that seat in 100 years, Humphrey said, and in recent years he served as president of the Kewaunee County Democratic Party.