State Needs To End Resentments About Dane County


I am biased when I write about Dane County and the City of Madison.   I readily admit to loving this place I have called home since late December 1986.  There is a vibrancy and uplift here due to UW-Madison and the home of state government.  There is a liberal mindset that comes from having a wide swath of competing interests and backgrounds assembled from not only across the Badger State, but more importantly from around the globe.  There are so many reasons to embrace what happens here.

But drive 100 miles in any direction, or head to the Northwoods, and the perceptions change dramatically.   Some of that is based on cultural differences and some due to just a lack of truly knowing what happens within this city and county.  Today Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council president, wrote another of his must-reads in the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal.  Featured in his column is one of my ‘hero’ companies, Exact Sciences.  (I championed for this company to have a downtown presence.) 

The leadership team at Exact Sciences is so confident of the demand for more and better DNA analysis screening that it estimates test totals will climb from 1 million last year to 7 million per year in short order. Handling that many tests and affiliated work will require up to 1,500 employees at various times on Exact’s Discovery Campus, which explains the parking ramp as well as an amenities center with food service to be completed by 2020.

It is just the latest example of how the Dane County economy, which includes a strong dose of well-compensated scientific and technology jobs, is helping to propel Wisconsin forward.

That concept is often a tough sell in parts of Wisconsin where economic growth can still be elusive even years after the end of the Great Recession that peaked about 10 years ago. There are those who envy progress in Dane County and some other hotspots in Wisconsin, wondering what’s in it for them.

One answer to that question is state tax revenue from companies and their employees. Related jobs in construction and service industries is another. Opportunities for young people to stay in Wisconsin versus going elsewhere is yet another reason to celebrate.

The need for continued state dollars to be pumped into research programs that makes the UW-Madison tick, or to pursue more venture capital projects are a no-brainer.  But at times selling these ideas to the farther reaches of the state is daunting.

We need to embrace private-public partnerships that push the boundaries of new technology and ideas.  We should thrill at educational and business relationships that will not only create jobs but allow for young minds in far-off places to want to live, study, and work in Wisconsin.  We need to find and promote funding sources that are understood to be wise investments for tomorrow.

Madison and Dane County are proving that such ideas work.  The rest of the state needs to end resentments aimed in our direction and learn how it is done.

And so it goes.

History Was Made At DMZ, But At What Price?


In the real world of international relations it is always better to be talking than not having open lines of communication.  The goes without saying.

But in the real world of diplomacy it is also true placing one of the world’s leading despots alongside the power and imagery of the leader of the free world should only come when there is a significant enhancement of behavior from the one seeking to bask in the light of such attention.  

That then is my issue with what played out today when Donald Trump became the first sitting American commander in chief to set foot in North Korea.  He met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the DMZ.   It is no wonder that Kim was grinning widely.  He had secured another international moment while his nation is starving and earning less per year than those who live in the Congo.

I recall when President Bush (43) was reported to have had a visceral reaction when hearing of the starvation taking place in North Korea while the ruling family and military chief lived high and mighty.  One can only image what he thought when it was reported by authoritative news operations in South Korea that Kim had multiple officials–including the lead negotiator in nuclear talks with the United States–executed.

Do not get me wrong.  In the gritty world of international dialogues nations must engage at times and in ways with heinous leaders so to further larger goals.  But when those meetings occur, and the benefactor is a dictator of the Kim variety, something of value to the international community needs to be secured.   Starting up again low level staff meetings between the two nations does not qualify for what took place today.

The tactics employed by North Korea are not new.  It is only Trump who has not come to terms with them.  That is why it is reported that even Trump’s foreign policy bench were not in favor of the free-wheeling approach that was taken for nothing more than a photo op and meeting at the DMZ.

This blog has made the point, repeatedly, that the term disarmament is not one that has the same meaning for Kim and the United States.  One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that nation will never relinquish its nuclear weapons.   What I have also stressed repeatedly on CP is that Kim is far smarter at this power play, the latest act which played out today.  His family has been staging this play for decades.  Since Trump took office they have now added a Sunday matinee.

From the start we have seen Kim allow for symbolically potent but substantively modest concessions which make headlines that allows for the egomaniac with orange skin to get all giddy.  But the long range foreign policy needs require a truly cerebral leader at the helm for the United States, and we are lacking that essential ingredient.

Trump continues walking into a well-played trap and is not thinking clearly.  Kim is determined to cement his country’s status as a nuclear state while working to undermine and remove economic sanctions.   Why would Kim not want such a bargain?

And who better to play that to than someone who has no knowledge or skill in international relations.  Donald Trump.

July 4th Or “Birth Of A Nation”? Leni Riefenstahl Type Film To Follow?

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We can title this one ‘Birth of a Nation’–the sequel.  Or the follow-up to the work of  Leni Riefenstahl.

Historians will write of this year’s hubris and undermining of what the Founders had wished to be front and center on July 4th.  And what happens when an under-educated egomaniac takes power. And they will also write what happens when a segment of the nation either does not care, nor knows better.

Trump is remaking Washington, DC’s Independence Day celebrations into a political event.  If one has never learned the value of our past it is easy to smear–and we have proof of that in what Trump is planning for July 4th.

There will be a cordoned-off area for dignitaries, family, and friends only accessible to those with White House-distributed tickets.  Well, that makes it clear as to what is being planned.

With the racist moves against brown people at the southern border, the coddling of White Nationalists,  and the bonding with international dictators and strongmen there must be deep concern when the holiday designed to showcase our values is turned into a political rally.  Grotesque is an understatement. 

Meanwhile at the Madison, Wisconsin home of your blogger a special American flag will fly high and proud.  The flag was flown over Mount Vernon and is lifted up the mast at our home once a year and then stored in a protective bag for the following year.  That is what reverence for the holiday looks like.

What Trump is planning can be summed up in one word.


Given the event will showcase flyovers by Air Force One, the Blue Angels, and other military aircraft there is a clear message of power and bombast as opposed to the deep meanings of the written words in the Declaration of Independence.   History proves what happens when nationalism is misused, and power upstages the quiet contemplative tones that people need to have about their country.

Only one other president attempted such a spectacle as Trump is now doing.  And it resulted in a disaster.  Long-time readers will not be shocked to find I now head back to the Nixon presidency.

Nixon had, in 1970, deepened U.S. involvement in the extremely unpopular Vietnam War by invading Cambodia. That was the year that four college students were killed at Kent Sate.  So to drum up support for the war, and his administration, some high-profile supporters decided to hold an “Honor America Day” on July 4th in DC.  In the end teargas was used on protesters and mayhem of all sorts broke out.  It was a political fiasco.

No other president has ever before attended DC’s annual Independence Day celebrations, in part because of security concerns.

The more important reason why other presidents have not acted so cavalierly, is the weight and gravitas of this day, given the meaning it has for the entire narrative of our nation.  Only those too diseased in spirit and soul will find joy in Trump’s plans.

Donald Trump’s self-serving upstaging of the national holiday requires a national rebuke.

And so it goes.

Dr. Seuss, Donald Trump, And Immigration

This item below appeared in my Facebook feed this morning and struck a note with me.  It was a brilliant look backwards while making a solid point about the times in which we live.  The drawing in the lower portion of the image speaks to the absurd behavior Donald Trump is allowing to happen to immigrant children.

Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, had some points he wished to address in his work of drawings.  Between the two world wars he traveled and studied in Europe.  He was horrified with Nazism.  In Geisel’s political cartoons, Hitler showed up as a villain in many forms: a mad scientist amputating limbs, a bureaucrat giving orders to the devil, a trophy hunter trying to add a Russian bear to his taxidermy collection.

Another of Geisel’s lifelong favorites showed a matronly woman reading a book called Adolf the Wolf. “‘And the Wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones,'” the woman reads to the two horrified-looking children, before adding, “but those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter.”

The image struck me as perfectly toned for what is now happening at the southern border.  The cold, callous, and horrifying treatment of children is unconscionable.  The international community now knows the standards we preach to the world are not the ones we live at home.  What is being allowed to happen to these children is simply untenable.


Democratic Debate Shows Progress As A Nation

There were many take–a-ways from the Democratic presidential debate which aired Thursday night across the nation.  One can make a correct claim that Kalama Harris put in a powerful performance, and that Joe Biden still shows gravitas as the political heavyweight for the nomination.

But as I watched the debate something else struck me again and again.  On the stage was a presidential candidate who casually mentioned his husband without anyone blinking an eye. Make no mistake about it–our nation has come a long way with gay rights.  And it was the Democratic Party who has worked the hardest to make it happen.

In 2006 Wisconsin was trying to undermine my rights when state Republicans did all they could to deny me and partner a right to marry.  The statewide referendum of one-man/one-woman was the most hurtful political act that I have personally witnessed in my lifetime.

So when Pete Buttigieg took his place behind a podium for a nationally televised debate among presidential hopefuls, and then spoke of his husband, it filled me with pride and awareness of how far this nation has come regarding gay Americans.  And we know who was responsible for making it happen.  And who tried to undermine efforts at moving forward.

My pride and warmth for Buttigieg ‘s politics was furthered when he used his time to speak of faith and the pressing need to have humanity and core values be front and center when dealing with immigrants and their children.  Too many who call themselves Christian have bowed to Trump and his darkness rather than heed the words of Christ towards the ones who needs to be lifted up.

Many responses from a variety of candidates touched me as I sat in the rocker, but none hit deeper and more meaningfully than the following.

“For a party that associates itself with Christianity to say it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language.”



Court Has Say About Citizenship Census Question

I am pleased that there was a move today to curtail one of those patently offensive measures concocted by the Trump White House.  The Supreme Court delayed the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.  That was a most appropriate response to a racially motivated move.

The attempt by Trump, and his 1930’s German-style aide, Stephen Miller, to add a citizenship question to the census would have a most undemocratic impact on American politics.  The reason being our nation relies on population figures from the census to divvy up seats in the House of Representatives and to draw political maps at all levels of government.  When those census numbers are crippled by fear another column of our political institutions comes under attack and strain.

The Census Bureau itself has said that adding a citizenship question would lead more non-citizens and minorities to avoid being counted.  That is the key argument many have made, including here at CP.  Most of those who would potentially not fill out the census reside in predominantly Democratic areas.  Therefore the under-count would weaken Democratic representation in states with large numbers of non-citizens, and skew the allotment of billions of federal dollars away from those areas as well.

What was most noteworthy is the fact the Trump administration offered no credible reason for proposing the question.  There was nothing for them to say.  Miller wanted a racially motivated question to the constitutionally required census taking.  Following the news today the administration would have to create a new rationale for adding the question and win the approval of a skeptical district court–a court is needs knowing which ruled that its stated reason for the question — to better enforce the Voting Rights Act was nothing more than a bald contrivance hiding some other motive.

That motive is right here.    Stephen Miller.

<> on March 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.


Abysmal Court Ruling On Redistricting


The Supreme Court had the chance to make right one of the two main reasons our political system suffers from such dysfunction.  Time and again the way political districts are constructed, through partisan means, has proven to be a roadblock to governing.  Immigration is one such example.

Due to partisan redistricting 70% of Republican congressional districts around the nation have less than 10% Hispanic/Latino voters. There is not a need in most GOP districts to confront the issue in a meaningful way as those members of congress do not have constituents who are personally involved with the issue.  In some cases that can be explained, but in many others it is due to crafty manipulation of district maps. That type of political chicanery creates far more problems when it comes to solving issues than perhaps anything else; other than the heavy amounts of campaign money that is allowed to be raised.  But when people get angry about immigration they seldom consider the root cause of why it seems so intractable to solve.

So it is with great regret that I need to post that the Supreme Court ruled against the challengers opposed to partisan gerrymandering, the practice in which the party that controls the state legislature draws voting maps to help elect its candidates.  Reading the rulings would allow a person to think the 5-4 majority closed the door on such future claims.

The drafters of the Constitution, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, understood that politics would play a role in drawing election districts when they gave the task to state legislatures. Judges, the chief justice said, are not entitled to second-guess lawmakers’ judgments.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” the chief justice wrote.

Opening the barn door wide now with a license for partisan chicanery is a seriously flawed ruling.  And both parties will use this ruling to their full potential, which makes this judicial mistake on par with the Citizens United ruling.  The very foundation of our republic requires fine tuning and respect for modern means of living.  When the Founders made their decision they did not have computers which could seek ways to best manipulate boundary lines for political outcomes, or communication technology which could be used to spin partisan talking points.  A role of a justice on our nation’s highest court is to know how to frame the past with the present.  Today the court’s majority failed that test.

Readers know I have long argued that it is not correct for politicians to select their voters.  I have countered the partisans desire to do that very thing with the idea of  placing a redistricting commission into power, such as what Iowa has successfully done for decades.  While I understand the role as to why the “political question” doctrine was started and continues, I also am aware that a system of laws and procedures for a nation like ours must have updates and revisions to meet the times in which we live.  The political dysfunction we observe on a hourly basis screams for such action.

Most people in our nation, if they even see the headline about this case in their news feed or on the evening news, will pay a mere few seconds to the content. Then it will be on to something else, and it will not register again.  For the sake of the nation that is a very sad outcome because what occurred today was a most abysmal body slam on our democracy.

Tough Political Cartoon Because It Is Too True

Any other president would send in medical units and government teams to assist the immigrant children who are in dire conditions. Any other time the ‘GOP family party’ would be rhetorically lifting the roof off the halls of congress–but now they play limp and docile. This political cartoon cuts through the spineless ones and makes the only point one can at this time. Reagan Republicans should be ashamed.