Labor Day Memories Of Jerry Lewis

For decades Labor Day and Jerry Lewis was akin to hamburgers and catsup.  One just naturally meant the other.  But this Labor Day, as in the recent past, means that once again with no major telethon “Jerry’s Kids” are without their greatest advocate.  For the millions of people around the nation who recall and admire Jerry Lewis–of which I am one–comes this reminder of how it once was.

UW-Badger Joel Stave Shines For Showing Grace Under Pressure

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I seriously think that Joel Stave should be the starting QB in this evening’s match-up between the UW-Madison football team and Louisiana State University.  There is a grace and finesse Stave has not only in football but also in how he conducts himself off the field that makes him the type of player that we all want to see succeed.  I was very much impressed with how he responded to the press this week when asked about another teammate likely getting the starting job in today’s game.  With poise and maturity he gave the reporter a quote that showed complete grace.  Stave is clearly a role model for younger football fans.

Making a comment about sports is never the first role of this blogger, but there are times when a personality from the sports pages of the daily paper make an impression.  From the first news reports a few years ago of Stave in the pages of the Wisconsin State Journal  I have been impressed with his family story, and how he enjoys music and plays the piano.    Too often all we ever hear or read are some statistics about the sport.  I think it is important to give notice of those players who deserve a thumbs-up for just being a good person.

On that count Stave is a winner regardless of his role in any football game.

Will State Republicans Use Severe Budget Cuts To Pay For Imbalance From Their Tax Cuts?

A mess is brewing with Wisconsin’s state finances, and the tax cuts promoted and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker in a breathless and ill-considered fashion are the root cause.  The main concern is how do Republicans plan to deal with the fiscal mess of their making?  There will be another budget repair bill in the early part of 2015 and I bet my Elvis collection of records that teachers and education along with  public employees such as firemen and police will have to pay.  Will the GOP desire to sell more public lands?  This is how the GOP thinks, and why so many of us were concerned about the rash of tax cuts over the years.

The shortfall puts the two-year state budget on track to come up at least $115 million short by June 30, 2015, unless the money is accounted for in higher-than-expected tax revenues or lower-than-expected spending. The current calculations also don’t include a $25 million revenue sharing payment the Forest County Potawatomi tribe is withholding from the state in a dispute over a proposed casino.

The governor’s office promised that the budget will be balanced at the end of the two-year period, which is required by the state Constitution.

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris has been sounding the alarm on what he says are fiscally irresponsible tax policies for years.  Harris is the the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District.

“The amount here is huge,” Harris said. “They’re going to have to cut back on a substantial amount of spending.”

Harris expects that to be achieved first by lapsing appropriations that have already been approved, rather than making direct cuts right before an election in which Walker faces a tough fight against Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

“Only someone who doesn’t understand how budgets work or someone who intends to willfully mislead voters could make such an absurd claim that a $281 million shortfall is somehow proof of thriving economic conditions instead of a disappointing reminder that these failed policies aren’t working for Wisconsin families,” said state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

While Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, noted in a statement on Thursday that the state has enough money — about $280 million — in its rainy day fund to cover the lagging revenue, Walker told reporters during a campaign stop Friday that he would rather address the shortfall with spending cuts and economic growth efforts than by using the rainy day fund. He did not say whether he would tap into it as a secondary approach.

How Many Political Lives Does Mitt Romney Have?

Great read.

But does anyone really think conservatives would ever allow Mitt Romney to be nominated for president again?

Less than two years after voters rejected him for a president presiding over the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression, Mr. Romney this week deflected questions about whether he would run a third time for president, saying the chances were “one in a million.”

In a survey this week, more than 35% of Iowa Republicans said they would scrap their first choice for president and back Mr. Romney if he entered the race.

In a tacit acknowledgment that he needed a makeover, Mr. Romney took steps after his defeat to soften his image. He came out in favor of raising the minimum wage, bucking many members of his own party. A documentary of his two presidential campaigns released on Netflix showed him as a more approachable, less scripted candidate and a family man.

Mr. Romney earned goodwill from the Republican establishment this year by throwing his support to incumbents facing tea-party challengers, including Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho. More recently, he has stumped for Republican Senate candidates whose campaigns will help determine whether the GOP wins a majority in the chamber, including Joni Ernst in Iowa, Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Tom Cotton in Arkansas. He will share stages with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sept. 10, congressional candidate Barbara Comstock of Virginia on Sept. 30 and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Oct. 2.

“Without all that negative advertising trained on him like there was in 2012, as he’s promoted other candidates, he has really found his voice and flourished,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who has advised Mr. Romney’s campaigns.

Mr. Romney didn’t close the door on a presidential try entirely when asked this week by radio host Hugh Hewitt whether any condition would push him to run. “Someone else has a better chance than I do…and that’s why I’m not running,” he replied. Then he added: “Circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there.”

What Russian Putin Thinks As Important As What He Does

Articles have been written during the past many years about the vision that Russian President Putin sees for himself, and what his country should once again become.

In the newspaper this morning it was reported that once again–the second time this year–Putin has used the term  “Novorossiya.”   When I read the word I sat up straighter in the chair.  The word will have  meaning for the combatants in Eastern Ukraine will know it very well.

The word literally means “new Russia”, and in fact it is a czarist-era term.  Since Putin fancies himself with the need to be czar-like and desirers a larger-sized and more bold and ‘out-reaching’ Russia means that the use of the term should alert all to his intentions.

Using the term “Novorossiya” underscores what might well be in store for Southern and Eastern Ukraine where ultra-nationalists wish want to re-conquer the area.  A map from the past might well be useful in gauging the wishes of Putin for the future.

If this were American politics I might liken the word to a ‘dog-whistle.’



Scott Walker’s Bloom Fading As Budget Imbalance Grows

One might recall the question that many were asking at the start of this year, including on this blog.

What is to be done with the projected $900 million surplus that seems to be burning a hole in the pockets of the Wisconsin State Legislature?

As I stated at the time This is not the first surplus when a governor and legislature got all giddy, or when the monies were all given out in one fashion or another.  No one can see the future, and while we all want tomorrow to be bright we have to be grounded in reality when making such big policy choices.”

Who honestly thought that the degree to which taxes were cut in this state would not at some point impact the revenues being collected that are needed to ensure government operates as we desire?  With lusty excitement every time a cut was proposed Republicans rushed to make sure it was quickly passed, and signed by Governor Scott Walker.

One of the themes that the GOP keeps pushing is that they have a better ability to make sound fiscal decisions for the state, and proof of that, they claim, is the balanced budget.  Well, now we can scratch that budget being balanced item from their talking points with the news that a $281 million funding gap will greet the next session of the state legislature.

The news that Wisconsin’s tax collections for the past year came in 2 percent short of estimates, is not what can be called a shocker.  There has been concern for some time that the price for the cuts at some point would catch up with a state that still has not caught its economic breath after the national recession.  While states around us are faring much better, Wisconsin seems mired in the mud and finding it tough to move forward.

In case anyone who does not follow such news regarding state finances, but understands the importance of the fall election, may think this is just politics and an attempt to undermine Walker.  But the news is not partisan in that it came from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

This blog called out the governor and his conservative allies in the Republican-controlled legislature over many of the tax cuts that have totaled around $2 billion since Walker took office.  We all can recall that there were voices of caution about the $500 million tax cut in March of this year, but when it comes to passing tax cuts as breathlessly as has happened far too often under the statehouse dome it just is hard to slow them down in order to talk sense.

There is going to be a lot of spinning from Republicans as they wish to win an election and also sound credible over an issue that was sooner or later going to rear it’s head and bite them in the backside.   But the public is well aware of the political actions that once again positions our state in a place Republicans promised we would never need return, that being an unbalanced budget.

Earlier this year I wrote that at the end of the day there is always a variety of ways that money can be spent.   That is, after all, one of the easiest parts about governing.

Seems some prudence from Scott Walker was what this state needed more than another tax cut.

Making The Newsroom Of A Paper Sound The Way It Once Did

This is just a grand story.

Almost as if the digital revolution never happened, the newsroom of The Times once again resounds to the clatter of the old-fashioned typewriter.

Nearly three decades after Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper publisher revolutionised the industry by moving to Wapping and ending the “hot metal” era, his flagship title has reintroduced the distinctive sound of old Fleet Street.

To the surprise of Times journalists, a tall speaker on a stand has been erected in the newsroom to pump out typewriter sounds, to increase energy levels and help reporters to hit deadlines. The audio begins with the gentle patter of a single typewriter and slowly builds to a crescendo, with the keys of ranks of machines hammering down as the paper’s print edition is due to go to press.

The Times’s initiative coincides with a revival of interest in the typewriter, a trend which the newspaper reflected on Page 3 today, with a report on how the actor Tom Hanks has developed the Hanx Writer app, which simulates the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter and has gone to the top of the iTunes app store in the US. Hanks, it noted, can tell the difference between the sounds of an Olivetti, a Remington and a Royal typewriter model.

In Memory Of Mary Ann Pichelmann 1961-2014


I am very sad to hear of the passing of Mary Ann Pichelmann.  She was a special friend in my high school days providing both Todd Reichert and myself the type of understanding that made her most remarkable. She will always be recalled in my memory for the smile and laugh that came so easy to her.  It always meant a great deal in those years to have such a warm smile around me.  I guess the best way to sum up the ease she had with people was the long phone call we had in recent months.  I had not seen or spoken with her since shortly after we graduated, but once we were on the phone it was as though we had never been separated by the years.  It is a special person who can laugh again and pick up the conversation from decades past in the way she did and it made me know with certainty that true friendship always endures. I know that life was not easy for her at times, and she struggled to find her way.  I am trusting that peace and light surrounds her now and forever.