Thank You Mike Koval!


It comes as no surprise to any of my readers that I send a sincere Thank You to Mike Koval as he starts another chapter of life.  His service to our community as Chief of the Madison Police Department has been an honorable one.  Others can pay heed to it as an example of how to lead with character.

Koval resigned from his position over the weekend.  While he has most certainly earned down-time, it also goes without saying we will miss him.

No one can say Koval did not face headwinds.  The times in which any major city now finds itself means all who wear blue are faced with social unrest and never enough revenue to meet the needs of a department.

This blog has been four-square behind both the Madison Police Department and Chief  Koval.  I simply reject the knee-jerk reactions to our local officers based on events that happen in places around the nation.  There are no easy answers to any of the complicated elements about those stories.  But I know that in Madison we have men and women who wear blue who rise to the high standards of their profession.  Koval made sure of that.

I have been able to talk with Koval over time and know him to be most able not only to communicate effectively but also to make solid points with his words.  He would wish us never to forget, when headlines scream of mayhem, that police are human like everyone else, hurt like everyone else, and desire strong safe communities like everyone else.

I would add that the very ones who often place themselves in harm’s way to protect us need far more recognition than they have received.  At the top of that long list of names is Mike Koval.

Thanks, Mike, for what you did for our city, and who you are as a person.

Trump Suggests Arresting Congressman Working On Impeachment Proceedings

Last week this nation was convulsed with a daily series of news reports about the extent to which Donald Trump worked to undermine our election process and further his own personal aims while seated in the Oval Office.

With the dawn of a new week, we pick up where the madness left us on Friday by learning Trump questioned whether the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, should be arrested for treason for his description of a phone call Mr. Trump had with the president of Ukraine during a recent congressional hearing.

Sunday Trump said Schiff should be “questioned at the highest level for fraud & treason.” The lack of sanity continues to be demonstrated by Trump with each twitter release or public statement.

We have seen this sad and pathetic type of cheap theatre from him many times.  He is known for launching false, illogical and mentally exhausting attacks, hoping to distract and wear the populace down.  He has played this act with frivolous lawsuits for decades, hoping to escape legal responsibilities or move a topic away from the headlines by tying it up in litigation.

We know Donald Trump, and what we have come to learn aligns with what Peggy Noonan wrote that “everyone knows he would do it, everyone knows it is like him. There’s no mystique of goodness to be destroyed.”

As to the act treason by Schiff—oh, please!  Trump is the one colluding, or trying to collude, with a foreign power in order to take down a likely opponent in the 2020 presidential election.

What we are left with is Trump saying whatever he wants.  But if a Democratic investigation into dangerous illiberal actions that Trump has committed occurs then it is the congressman who is committing treason?  The spectacle of a president threatening his political opponents with capital criminal charges is profoundly alarming.

Yet, the Republican Party links arms for partisanship’s sake and in do doing, once again, has thrown the nation under the bus.

And so it goes.

GOP Has Lost All Credibility

Phil Hands, the editorialist for the Wisconsin State Journal, has nailed the national condition of the Republican Party with his latest drawing.

There is no moral center, no regard for the nation, no higher calling for their party than mere partisanship.  The GOP sold their last shred of decency and self-respect to Donald Trump who has proven he will sink to any level, and commit any action to further his personal enrichment and ego-stroking.

The GOP can no longer prattle on about Ronald Reagan, family values, strong national defense, or tight fiscal strategies.  They can no longer speak from any elevated position about any topic.

They have kneeled and bowed to Donald Trump.   They have chosen their master.   And in so doing they have demonstrated bootlicking is almost an art form.    As Aunt Lindsey proved on Face The Nation this morning.


How Does One Apologize To The Queen?

I suspect not too many prime ministers have had to apologize to the Queen. That must be the most humbling experience! And one I am most pleased Boris Johnson had to endure.
Johnson insisted to the Sunday Telegraph that he respected the U.K. Supreme Court’s judgment “very humbly and very sincerely.”
But he suggested there would be “consequences” following the judges’ decision to intervene in his illegal decision to suspend Parliament.
The Sunday Times reports Johnson personally apologized to the queen following the court’s verdict.

National Coffee Day!


My day started off a bit earlier than normal as family was visiting and I wanted to be alert and ready.  So the coffee pot was on and brewing away as the aroma wafted about on a rainy, gray morning.  As I made Blueberry Crumble for myself, and then a different blend for the company later in the day, I knew it was all good.

Because today is National Coffee Day!!

My days of loving coffee started when I would go to my grandparents across the road from where I lived as a boy.  Grandpa would snack before doing afternoon chores, and since I wanted to help throw the corn to the pigs I would sit at Grandma’s table and ask for some of the coffee that was being served.  I wanted to be like the adults, and so in a cup that was far more milk than the coffee, I had my first java experience.  Grandma always told me coffee would stunt my growth but in time the ratio of coffee to milk soon ran more in my favor and in time I was drinking it black.

Meanwhile, at home my parents had a glass percolator maker that had a metal insert for the grounds.  Regardless of the type of maker or where the cup was served one thing was always constant in my life about coffee.  The best conversations and memories have often surrounded drinking a mug of coffee.

Legend has it that coffee’s great potential was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed how happy his goats were after eating the coffee berry. After he alerted local monks, word about the berry’s effects spread quickly, eventually reaching the Arabian Peninsula where it began to become the social touchstone that it is today.

I trust your steaming coffee mug was a nice part of your day, too.

How World Sees The United States This Weekend

Two magazines that are read worldwide had front covers and lead stories that are not only powerful but most troubling.

Time had a cover presented in a way that no words were even necessary.  The reporting inside was devastating.

If the accusations are true, Trump’s behavior would be an abuse of power unseen since the Nixon era: using the presidency and the powers of the U.S. government to conscript foreign help in a domestic political campaign. “These allegations are stunning, both in the national-security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent,” Spanberger and six other Democratic freshman members wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

The implications go beyond the fate of a presidency to the heart of our democracy. Trump stands accused of using America’s vast wealth and the presidency’s unmatched sway to hold onto power for himself. In this era of hyperpartisan politics, the impeachment process will test the mechanisms of accountability built into our system of government by the Founders, who anticipated many things–but could not have envisioned Trump.

Meanwhile, The Economist had a truly creative cover that demonstrated what happens when elections are won by those with illiberal convictions.

Letter From Home “Touchstone” 9/27/19


IMGP8260The weather in Madison is dark, gray, with patches of drizzle.  Days like this back home as a kid meant that outdoor chores needed to be put off, and those indoor projects could be started.  Or finished.  While James grew up in Maine, and I did the same in Wisconsin, it is comforting to know that certain values and concepts were embedded in each of us.  We treasure days like this.

So when the weather proved gloomy we finished a home project that had been underway a couple of weeks.  And had a great time making it all finally come to fruition. The purchase and refurbishing of the top two floors of our home this year have slowed and delayed almost every project.  It seems like workmen of one type or another have been here constantly.

We had located an oak dresser constructed in the 1890s–the same year as this Victorian home was built.  With the help of Rolf the piece of furniture had been transported here, and with some washing, buffing, and resurfacing it looks like the period-piece we desired.

After a young dinner guest arrived this week with his mom we discovered he had come via a large pickup truck.   While I poured a glass of wine to talk with my classmate, James and the transportation Godsend went to bring back the large round oak table of the type I had envisioned for use in podcasting.   As I joked to the group at dinner the table is the Charlie Rose variety–minus the improprieties.  It was made at the Twin Wisconsin Manufacturing Company decades ago.

Today all the pieces of the room came together for the first time.

The reason I wish to start podcasting has to do with a desire to do something new and be challenged with a project that I can undertake at my own pacing and energy level.  While the technical side of such broadcasts is far different than what I used on-air at WDOR  the same basic elements of professionalism will remain.   I have told folks at our home this summer, with arms extended full-length, that what was contained in the studio board in Surgeon Bay will be compacted, as I brought my hands together, into an (app)lication on the laptop on my table.

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But outside of my genuine love for this project comes a deeper reason for having prepared over the past months for what I plan to start prior to the end of the year.  So much has changed in our land over the past few years that at times the headlines of the day do not resemble a country I once knew.

What I seem to rebel at the most, however, is the lack of common-sense niceties and bonds of humanity that are ever more frayed.  What was once standard and a firm foundation of how folks act, has morphed into a squishy ever-moving floor to a new and ever-more troubling basement level.  I know at age 57 some of the changes can be labeled as what happens to all of us when growing older.  But I embrace change, in large part, as my fondness for computers and digital broadcasting demonstrates.

So I find myself reaching backward with some regularity to find those touchstones which not only molded my life but were the guardrails as I moved to adulthood.  Finding them to still be as true and worthy of my attention these decades later prove to me their longlasting merit.  I find that the basic core of my being is still very much intact. And given how so much of the world has turned up-side-down I am pleased that what resides deep within me still remains solid.  I want to podcast conversations about ideas and topics that make for thinking rather than rancor.

As we finished the assembly of the microphones in the annex I thought of the young boy back in Hancock who used his dad’s stopwatch, the daily newspaper for news and ad copy, while preparing ‘a newscast’.  Years later I recall the feeling of going live on the air the first evening at WDOR and spinning records interspersed with tidbits that any local everyday announcer shares with an audience.   I never before had felt so in control of the moment.  It was almost intoxicating.

Now there will be a different way of broadcasting to be mastered and promoted.   But with every step going forward will be a fond memory of what got me to this point in life.  It is those touchstones that have always secured my footing and taken me to the next chapter in life.



Morning Newspapers Show State Of National Concern Over Abuse Of Oval Office

There is no joy to be found on the front pages of the newspapers which arrived at people’s homes early this morning or the ones picked up by commuters on their way to the office.  We can be very much opposed to Donald Trump, and we most certainly are with a myriad of factual reasons for our feelings.  The reason we find no glee today when seeing the front pages is that this is our country, and it is in a very large dark hole.  Our love of country always runs a mile ahead of any partisan feelings.  That is why what we witness today on the front pages leaves us with a heavy heart.

As I looked at front pages from coast to coast it was interesting to see how they presented the story and the headlines they chose.  Each was chosen with care and precision.  While I could have selected 50 pages and still left many worthy selections behind, I chose these as the most representative of the mood of the nation.