Still Loving Jerry Lewis On Labor Day Weekend

This weekend we need a good memory.  A memory that is based on when we came together as a country.

I strongly suspect that many Americans still recall with fondness, Jerry Lewis, one of the biggest-hearted and dare I say one of the funniest men in this nation when he hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

Most people admire Jerry Lewis, and applaud what he did for ‘his kids’.  God love him!

As a teenager, I watched several hours on Sunday night and then as the family planned for the cookout the set would be on and turned up to be heard throughout the house.  There was always a bustle of excitement when tote board numbers would change and Lewis would add his charm and wit to the higher cash totals that had been generated from his tireless work.  In my high school years, I would call and donate ten dollars and urge my classmates to do the same.  Several years my plea was reported on the local coverage.

America was one big community filling the boots of firefighters with money, people heading to the local TV affiliates to add their cash to the canisters, but most important of all just picking up the phone and making a pledge to help someone else.   While everyone was trying to make a difference for the cause, I always felt this was one of those times when we were all just a bit more united, a bit more of a family, a bit more of the type of people we really want to be as a nation.

Jerry Lewis was doing a telethon for a disease, but the effect had far larger and deeper ramifications.


“Working” (On Labor Day Weekend)

At age 83 Robert Caro remains one of the most admired and respected writers and historians in the nation.  He gives insight into the timetable for the much-awaited fifth volume (tome) of his biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson within the pages of his 2019 book, “Working”.


The short version is it will be a few more years.  But then with a passion, he allows readers to know why that is so; his painstaking process of researching and discovering the story that needs to be told takes time.  Lots of it.

When writing the first volume, published in 1982, he and his wife, Ina, spent three years living in the Texas Hill Country.  While his books concerning Robert Moses and LBJ are large attempts to show how power is amassed and then used, he also delves deeply into the times in which his main characters live.  As such, the arduous life of women on the frontier was a powerful and pertinent portion of Caro’s narrative.   To have a solid foundation of the complex and connected elements to Johnson’s life allows for a better understanding–if one can ever truly attain it–of the man himself.

This Labor Day weekend the slim and easy to read 200 pages of “Working” has made for entertaining moments, pondering thoughts, and a better realization of how complicated the task is to which Caro has set as his mission.

The process of writing, and the way be constructs his thoughts, make for a strong defense of the depth of his work and the many years it takes him to research and write his books.  I marvel at his passion and his continuous fashioning of ideas regarding the storyline of the man he is wishing us to know better.

In the meantime, if Caro ever needs a break and a quiet lake to look upon with a great cup of coffee—I have just the spot.  I can not promise his coffee companion will be as still as the lake—but I suspect he likes a spirited conversation.

Until the next LBJ book is published this blogger sends all the best to Robert Caro.



Mass Shooting In Texas–Shove Your Thoughts And Prayers

Here we go again.

Five people were killed and at least 21 others were injured in a brazen daylight drive-by mass shooting in the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa.  A gunman drove on the highways and streets opening fire on residents, motorists, and shoppers.  This is what happens when the NRA is allowed to set the gun policy laws of a nation.  This is what happens when Congressional Republicans are bought and sold like a cheap burger and salad at a deli.

Words fail me.  Truly.  What does one continue to say when shootings of this type happen with such regularity?

As James and I drove home after dinner we had the Grand Ole Opry on the radio.  Live from Nashville on a Saturday night.  From that world-famous stage, Vince Gill spoke about the mass shooting and the tragedy.

Again, what words are left to be said about a nation that will not stop gun deaths? He was at a loss, too.

Let me be gut-honest once again. Until a majority of the American people grasp the connection between NRA controlled puppets in congress and the weak-minded supporters around the nation, then this problem will persist.  What we see every few days will not change until there is relentless pressure on the representatives to act–swiftly and decisively to enact meaningful gun control legislation.

The song Gill chose to sing for the dead from gun violence tonight was the following.  (The video has more singers than what stood in Nashville this evening.)



F-35 Jet Fears In Madison Overblown–Scare Tactics Of NIMBY Rings Hollow

Readers know I have been a supporter of F-16s which fly out of Truax Field in Madison, and also have strongly supported plans to locate F-35s in our city.  As was posted on Caffeinated Politics, and published at In Business and linked at several news sites I feel we have a duty as Americans to share the responsibility of having this training facility in Dane County. 

To hear some of the dialogue about why people are opposed to the F-35s would lead one to conclude that deafening roars will scare grandchildren, shake windows from frames, and do everything but rattle the ground so much that caskets will pop out.  What has come to pass for reasoned discussions from the NIMBY crowd–who are really just weak-willed individuals when it comes to our international role in the world–shows the dismal case they have as the final steps are taken to bring these jets to our city.

Today WKOW-TV reported on the actions being considered by the 115th Fighter Wing, which demonstrates why the 70-plus years of Truax being a good neighbor continues.

Chris Arnez, who’s a retired F-16 pilot, said the jets can also use alternative paths to reduce the noise.

“There are also a lot of noise abatement practices that we can use in-flight so we can vary our flight path. We can take off to the North versus the South,” said Arnez.

But when it comes to jet noise the discussion needs to move from the ‘sky is falling’ crowd and bring it back to the common-sense middle.

A few weeks ago an environmental impact statement from the Air National Guard showed 272 households would hear noises as loud as a vacuum cleaner three feet away.

Lord, say it is not so!

A Hoover or a Bissell?  We have a Kirby and being neat-freaks the machine is used a lot in our home. And closer than three feet.  My hearing is just fine.

And so will Madison’s ears, even though a segment of the citizenry enjoys getting caught up in their own self-generated hysteria.  This is what we do in our city all too often, and it takes a toll as when truly serious matters arise people are spent and not wishing to expend more energy.  The other half is so dismayed from the crying of ‘wolf’ they tune other messages out.

As I stated before on CP this matter concerning the placement of F-35s is one I take most seriously.

We must take our responsibilities as citizens most seriously.   From voting, serving on a jury, or paying taxes it is our duty to step up and serve in a variety of ways.  That also applies to where the military trains, such as at Truax.  I do not know any person on a first name basis who is actively serving in our military.  So the least I can do is support the men and women who have accepted that role.  If I am advocating policies, such as no-fly zones in Syria, I then should also accept the placement of training for such missions near to where I reside. I am not one who suggests the F-35 be relegated to places like North or South Dakota.

Walking the talk matters.

Why Brick And Mortar Stores Are Failing–And Why We Shop Online

Customer service is dead.

Two weeks ago we shopped at Best Buy on Madison’s West Side where we bought a dishwasher. The salesperson and I had a nice conversation about the local economy and the impact of tariffs on monthly and year-to-year sales.  He told me that August has been very lean for sales–one of the worst months he can recall.

On Tuesday the company who delivers the product called to confirm that on Wednesday, between the hours of noon and 2 P.M., the item would arrive at our home.

At 2 P.M Wednesday I called the free Best Buy phone service where I chatted with a truly nice lady in Kentucky who told me the dishwasher was on its way and would arrive by 6 P.M.  As she told me about the nice weather in the Bluegrass State she told me she was glad there was no accident with the driver, things were just slower and I was soon to have my dishwasher.

I wished her a nice day and hung up.

At 5:45 P.M. with a gut feeling that all was not right with the universe I phoned the West Side business which had happily sold me a nearly $700 machine.  Might they be able to make the trains run on time?

About 30 minutes later a supervisor called to inform me that there was no dishwasher on a truck for our home.  The item I had bought was on back-order.   They had received a notice about the matter on Tuesday.

So, why had no one called me Tuesday to alert me?  Why had a computer-generated call been placed to confirm delivery?  And why had a woman from a border state in the Civil War told me to just wait a few more hours for delivery?  Why was I the one needing to reach out and chase down an answer to a problem not of my creation?

And on top of that what was I to do about the man doing the installation Thursday morning?

This morning I dealt with the matter in one phone call.

First, I asked for the entire sale to be undone and all money transferred back to a credit card.  “But, sir, we can still have the item delivered when it comes in”.

I informed the person I can order online from another vendor, and have it delivered with no charges to my door.  And much sooner! There was consternation from the other end of the line that I chose the internet path.

I then asked the person on the other end of the phone if he wanted to help me write my Yelp review.

I hear from some local merchants who feel they are being left behind in the internet economy.  They express their dismay with being overtaken by the ease customers have with shopping online.  They wonder what they can do to make a better impression on keeping local customers shopping brick and mortar establishments.

Yes, I wonder what business people can do?

For the past many years most of the items we purchase in this home come from the internet.  With a very small trunk, we even purchase our detergents and cleaning agents via Amazon and make a large box weighing 98 pounds, with free delivery, show up on our front stoop.  It is not as if we do not try to shop local, but almost every encounter runs short of not only expectations but also common sense.

Local businesses can bluster and pout, but they have only themselves to blame.

And so it goes.

ACTION ALERT: Remove Ali Muldrow From Madison School Board–Sign Petition Now

Yesterday I posted my sincere thoughts about the most damaging statement made by Madison School Board Member Ali Muldrow.  She linked Madison police with Nazis and concentration camps.  She stepped over a line that can not be forgiven or forgotten.

I just signed the petition “Madison : Remove Ali Muldrow From Madison School Board for AntiSemitic comments” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 500 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:



Madison School Board Member Ali Muldrow Used Trump Tactics

UPDATE–ACTION ALERT–Sign Petition and remove Ali Muldrow from Madison School Board.

To say I am very disheartened with Ali Muldrow would be a severe understatement.

Since 2015 I have lamented the tone, style, and tactics of Donald Trump with his use of bombastic language, lack of facts, and wild exaggerations.  I have wondered how deep his impact would be on the body politic.  While our political discourse has always been frothy in the history of our nation there is no doubt the wheels appear to be coming off the bus since Trump arrived on the scene as a presidential candidate.

But with the words and statements used by Madison School Board member Muldrow regarding local police, Nazis, and concentration camps I am truly saddened, given this is a very liberal and seemingly educated area.   If we can not rise higher in our discourse and ability to argue a point what hope is there for the hinterlands?

On Saturday, Muldrow said on Facebook, “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

I was stunned at her words, and equally so at the lack of her awareness of what occurred during one of the most inhumane chapters of the 20th century.  I am sure she has a number of degrees and diplomas, but this weekend she acted as if she had never opened a history book in her lifetime.

There is no excuse for making such an outlandish and hurtful statement.  It was not as if Muldrow misspoke, as what she offered was in writing which takes more time and awareness to prepare.  The harm she did with local efforts to unite people who have varying perspectives on local police and oversight issues will take time to sort out.  That she consciously linked our police with Nazis and the efforts to stem violence in schools with concentration camps is stupefying. 

I have never been to the sites where concentration camps were set up by Hitler’s men.  But I have studied history, read a great deal, and saw enough documentary coverage to know that what happens to teenagers who run afoul of society’s expectations in high school are not being subjected to anything comparable to a concentration camp.

The bar in our country for political discourse is pathetically low.  I do not have a great deal of hope from conservatives in lifting it, as they seem only willing to support Trump’s tone and style.  But I need to have faith that liberals and progressives can elevate our conversations that are much needed if we are to govern and learn from one another.

What Muldrow did was of such lack of principle and common sense that she will not find any soft words of apology will carry away the harm and hurt she purposefully placed into the community.

And so it goes.

My Letter To Editor Published In Wisconsin State Journal Thanking Barry Adams

From today’s Wisconsin State Journal.

Thanks to State Journal reporter Barry Adams for Sunday’s article “Hotel preserves state history.”

Newspapers provide the news we need to know, keeping us abreast of an ever-changing world, be it down the block or around the globe. Adams proved the rich past is as much a story to be told, and known, as the latest actions from a legislative body.

With deft writing, Adams pulled readers back to a time when grand homes in Madison were constructed and lived in by notables. If the walls could talk in these homes, we would want Adams to be the one to chronicle the tales.

Newspapers face tough economic times, but no other medium would have allowed Adams to bring such a fascinating story, with such details, to the public. He allowed insight into the past, along with another reason why newspapers are relevant.

Gregory Humphrey, Madison