115th Flight Wing In Madison Praised As F-35 Jets Are Discussed

This week the Wisconsin State Journal had a guest column which was most timely given the local discussion in advance of F-35 jets being placed at Truax field.  The day-to-day work of the flight wing is not as well known in the area as one might think, given the close proximity they are as neighbors and friends.

Pat Richter, who needs no background biography to be given in our area, wrote a column which sums up a more-or-less typical day for this group dedicated to the community where they live and work.

Later that evening, dangerous storms produced tornadoes. Damaging winds tore through northern Wisconsin. The damage was so severe that Gov. Tony Evers declared a statewide emergency and activated the Wisconsin National Guard. Members of the 115th Fighter Wing volunteered for active duty and were sent to northern Wisconsin. With little notice, they left their homes and families and have spent nearly a month stationed in Polk, Barron and Langlade counties. They have cleared trees that blocked over 50 miles of roads and hauled away more than 1,500 truckloads of debris.

What I find amusing, in light of the facts, are the number of people who have something negative to say about the F-35 jets, or even in isolated conversations about the pilots who have dedicated their skills to flying these aircraft, but have no idea how the fighter wing contributes to our daily lives.

I argue these jets are needed and it is our duty to support them at Truax.


Donald Trump Is A Grifter


Even partisan Republicans must admit the most unseemly side of Donald Trump in the White House is the use of the office for his personal financial gain.  Even the most gung-ho supporters of Trump must be taken aback by the guardrails of ethics, common-sense, and decency coming undone as the news of his most brazen lack of respect for the nation is playing out this week.

Trump wants to have the Doral golf resort as the setting for the next G-7 Summit. The fact he owns the Miami-area resort, and there is no way to attend and not spend money at his property, should send alarm bells pealing all over the nation.

News of this resort is not new as reports for some time have alerted us to the financial downturn in their profits due to well, Trump himself.  His behavior in office, and on the world stage, has cost him.  A financial disclosure report filed with the federal government this year showed revenue at the club has barely been growing — up just $1 million to $76 million.  Trump’s financial disclosure also shows he owes a lot of money to Deutsche Bank for the property, which helped him buy it in 2012. As of the end of last year, Trump had two mortgages on the resort, one for more than $50 million, the other for as much as $25 million.

So Trump needs to get cracking on making this business venture more profitable as his months in office comes ticking to a close due to the upcoming election. So what better way to fleece the system than to have the G-7 meeting at the resort and make an extraordinary amount of money.  Money making, after all, is what this whole political enterprise has been about for Donald Trump and his entire brood.

The fact is, over and over, one can find news articles that show the lack of income growth for the place where Trump wants to have international attention to be focused.  A Trump Organization consultant told the Miami-Dade Value Adjustment Board last year that the property was “severely underperforming,” according to The Washington Post. The local government cut the resort’s assessed value for 2018 from $110.3 million to $105.6 million, according to county records.

And news articles point out there is a long list of former Doral members who quit the club years ago but are still waiting for their initial deposits back. New members have to join first for old ones to get refunds.  But the slow pace on new members wishing to join means that some former members have been waiting for 10 years or longer.

The grifting nature of Trump and his entire clan runs counter to the way another businessman, President Jimmy Carter operated upon being elected.  Carter had been managing the family-owned peanut farm, warehouse, and store in Plains, Georgia since his dad died in 1953, but when he became president, he put it into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.

In so doing Carter demonstrated respect for the laws of the nation, self-respect, and respect to the people who elected him to serve in the highest office in the land.  Carter did not aim to make money off of the presidency.  Today Trump and his family show what happens when there is no respect for anything but money and all-out-greed.

Most of the nation lives at the center of sensibilities where Carter has resided his whole life.  The home he and Roslyn live in is a two-bedroom valued at $167,000.  Carter has been known to buy his clothes at the Dollar General and he often flies commercial.

The rank-and-file Republican Trump supporter lives like Carter but caters and fawns over the biggest scammer and con artist who has ever stepped into the White House.  Trump supporters hoot and holler about their love of the nation along with the need to be respected around the world.

But look who they support.  And what Donald Trump is, and what he does for self-enrichment every day in office.

And so it goes.

A Way Of Life Gone By–Reaches Out To Be Known–Thanks To Geoffrey O’Brien

Real-life stories set in the Gilded Age are slices of Americana that reach out to us and ask for remembrance.

Some years back I read a review for The Fall Of The House Of Walworth which was so interesting I bought the book from Amazon.  This weekend I needed to venture into something different from the books now underway.  So I opened the work by Geoffrey O’Brien and was taken back to 1873 with a narrative that strips the near century and a half away and opens the doors to high society and strong passions.  The author is not just another person who set about to write a book.  Being the Editor to the Library of America, and a proven wordsmith makes his journey into the genealogical files of the Walworth family along with the telling of their painful ending seem almost as if readers are simply next door looking in on a scene being played out in either New York City or Saratoga Springs.

The book rings with the names of John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster but the reader will gravitate to the 19-year-old Frank Walworth who calmly shot his father, Mansfield Walworth, in a New York City hotel room.  Mansfield, the son of a prominent and powerful judge, had divorced his wife, Ellen, and abandoned Frank.  Furthermore, Frank believed Mansfield intended to physically harm Ellen, based on letters mailed to her. A jury convicted Frank, who served prison time but managed to walk out a free man after serving his sentence.

But that, of course, is not the whole story.

As my readers know when it comes to books that pull me into the pages, the one thing that wins me over is meticulous research done by the author.  That is absolutely the case here.   I am not a fan of true crime stories.  So it needs stating that while this book is largely just that,  the history and way of life during the Civil War and then into the Gilded Age allow for this book to be much enjoyed by those seeking insight into that slice of our past.  For me, that was the winning touch.

One of the side stories to the book is the role of Catholicism along with religious mania, which often leaves more stain than light on society.  The role and influence of religion is a part of the book which is illuminating for readers.

I would highly encourage the reading of this book for entertainment and learning something as the pages turn.  For instance, Walworth County in Wisconsin was named for the chancellor in 1836.


Mini Cooper Is 60 Years Old

In January of 2011 I made a decision that turned out to be a good one.  With my father very ill, and the years moving along as the graying in my hair proved, I looked at my ‘bucket list’ and noticed that one matter could be easily done, and would create lots of smiles.  James was very much encouraging the idea, too.

It was decided that convertibles would be the future.  We still very much feel that way. Our purchase of a Volkswagon Beetle, the final model year of the classic design with only 1,500 manufactured worldwide, meant I had a gem in the driveway.   I adored the car.

A wicked thunderstorm and a large limb from a neighbor’s tree ended my driving the car.  Azure was gone.  (We name all our cars.)  There was a happy ending–of sorts–to that car.

James and I had talked about the cars we liked and what we did not like about the majority on the road.  We both wanted something that was unique and different.   And we also both loved Mini Coopers.  We also much appreciate our dealership and their full team for professional service.

Our first one was the Green Rocket and driven off the car lot to our home in 2016.  With computerization running rampant in cars, and I am grateful for that fact, it also takes more money for garage time at a dealership.  So in 2016, we leased our car, and for us, that made lots of economic sense given our driving habits.

This June we leased our second Mini convertible, as the famed car was celebrating sixty years since the very first Mini was introduced.  It was then the Morris Mini-Minor which was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) came off the assembly line.

The car, which would go on to become a British icon, was announced to the public on August 26, 1959, and for the first decade of its existence, was sold under the Morris and Austin brand names. Powering original models was a four-cylinder mustering up a mere 34 HP. While that may not sound like much nowadays (and it really isn’t), it was a lot for a car as small as the Mini six decades ago.

I have not had  a speeding ticket for decades, but truth be told, I have never had a faster car on take-off, or more feeling of wonder on tight turns, then what happens in our Little Red Chili Pepper.  They really do keep making the engines better and the driver happier.

Life is too short to keep placing the bucket list for a time further down the line.


Don’t Use Hate Against Journalists

Paul Fanlund, is the editor and publisher of The Capital Times, and is often a must-read for those who care about politics and governing.  One of his most recent columns hit a home run at my home.  The reason the article resonated strongly is due to my deep conviction about the role that journalists play in our democracy.   There is a reason that at the top of this blog the statement from Walter Cronkite reaches out to my readers.

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” 

I very much agree those like Donald Trump from the right, or Bernie Sanders from the left, are much the same when it comes to using the press as a tool to deflect from their own deficiencies.   Fanlund drove the point home in a must-read piece.

Look, I don’t give a hoot that voters apparently are deciding that Bernie Sanders has passed his “use by” date, but his effort to drag down our most credible journalists with him is repugnant.

American journalism is fighting a two-front war these days. One front is economic — the advertising models that made journalism so easy to afford have vastly contracted, putting severe pressure on the capacity of newsrooms everywhere.

The other front is the war over journalistic integrity, already under years of attack by a president whose hatred of the media is one of the top two or three pillars of his political brand.

The press reports on what others do and say, and in so doing allows for the nation to be informed as far as the facts are able to carry the story.  That oftentimes shows that some politicians are not as smart, capable, or adept at governing as they would have us believe.  Instead of snapping at a reporter, or smearing the entire journalism profession, those politicians ought to reflect on their own shortcomings.

American history is a long story as to why the words from Thomas Jefferson, on this matter, are so powerful and true.

The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure. –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.

Madison’s “In Business” Publishes My F-35 Truax Column

I care about the F-35 jets being placed at Truax Field in Madison.  It will be more than an economic asset to the region, it will also speak to our values and plays to the core mission we have as Americans to the world.

So I was pleased to see that my column about F-35 jets and Truax was published by In Business.  

There has been strong bipartisan backing for the F-35 jets from our state’s congressional delegation, and vigorous backing from the local business community. The choice of Madison, out of five Air National Guard base finalists, took years to bring to fruition, and underscores the importance this selection is to our region. I like to have a fast lunch at Hy-Vee on the east side of Madison. Each time, I see a number of military personnel wearing a uniform while spending money, which is a solid example of why this fighter wing is a smart economic decision.

Charlie Cook Is Just Fine

If you have, over the past months, turned into your favorite news show where elections are the topic you might have noticed Charlie Cook, a much respected and highly knowledgeable political analyst, looks different.  My first reaction was the man is really quite ill.  But with a fast on-line search I was able to toss those thoughts.  There is a very good reason Cook looks leaner.

To address the concerns that have been registered, such as mine, comes the following words from the man himself.

On advice from my doctors, I’ve lost almost a hundred pounds since June 1 (2017), about a third on a liquid-only diet, then in mid-June had gastric bypass surgery, losing the rest. In October/November (2017) reached goal weight and now eating is pretty much back to normal, albeit much smaller quantities. So, no cancer or anything, not yet anyway. I told my wife I hope she likes me, I’m going to be around a lot longer than she bargained for! So now, back to a fascinating midterm election. 

The voice, my shoes, socks and ties are the same, everything else is new. Last time I weighed this little, President Reagan was in office. 

Charlie Cook

Those of us who have enjoyed his professional and long-time data-driven style of analysis are most pleased to know all is well.


Another Low From Donald Trump (Are You Shocked?)

On Friday Donald Trump put out a tweet which read, “The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race!” 

Poor Donald, he is not aware of who he is trying to denigrate.

Those who read the newspapers and follow current events know Moulton attended Harvard, and instead of making money he chose military service as a United States Marine. He was a platoon leader during his four tours in Iraq, during which he earned the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor.

No wonder Trump did not recognize Moulton! That is because Moulton lived a life of integrity.

Trump is not worthy of buffing the shoes of the soldier.  Mr. Bone Spurs has the audacity to mock a  hero who risked his life for our country.  He again has demonstrated not knowing anything about valor and decency.

And so it goes.