Wisconsin Blue Book Still Most Relevant


Since the late 1970’s I  have held to a tradition every fall, in odd-numbered years, of contacting one of my elected officials and requesting a Wisconsin Blue Book.  As corny as it may sound I anticipate finding out what the cover design will be, and what the topic of the feature article will be in the latest edition.

Over the years I have looked back at photos in the books of those who brightened the statehouse with colorful personalities such as Representatives Gervase Hephner or Cletus Vanderperren.  It is interesting to see them change in photos over the years which they served, and see how their ties changed, too!  Given the political rancor that has built into tribalism, even in our state, I find it is important to recollect better days when friendships and collegiality mattered as much as partisanship under the dome.

I use the books to see how Assembly and Senate districts have changed following each census.  I use the book to get an address when sending a letter to an official’s office.  Just this summer I grabbed the book when a discussion was underway on my front lawn about who the majority leader in the legislature was back in my high school days.

There are countless reasons to have a Blue Book, and as I sit at my desk where all posts are typed for CP, I now have the 2019-2020 version of the book on a shelf.  (Thanks to Senator Risser.)  But why am I writing about Wisconsin Blue Books?

Some still claim that the printed version of the Blue Book is an expense the state could eliminate.  Such talk, however, should be rejected and for good reason.

I am one of those who feel that openness and transparency are very important when it comes to government.  Anything that allows the citizenry to better understand and appreciate the workings of government should be encouraged.  The Blue Book, with 774 pages in the current volume, does exactly that.  To remove a valuable resource of this type does not best serve the public.

The special section of this edition is how the 1918 Wisconsin Legislature enacted legislation for veterans following World War I.  The research and narrative by Jillian Slaight is an informative and entertaining read.

In 1916, Americans remained sheltered from the horrors of war that they heard and read about daily. That year, the Battle of Verdun alone had claimed 350,000 French and 330,000 Germans.4 Thousands of miles away, Wisconsin men and women—especially those of German descent, under pressure to renounce their native country—hoped the conflict would end before ensnaring the United States. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, critics increasingly regarded Wisconsin—and its firebrand anti-war politicians—as insufficiently patriotic, even labelling it the “Traitor State.” Wisconsin’s embattled reputation motivated state legislators to enact laws that proved their patriotism—not only during the war, but also during the session that followed in 1919.

Governor Tony Evers makes the point in this edition as to the reason the books matter.  He writes they allow us to reflect on our history, how far we have come, and the work we have yet. to do.  

Evers is very accurate.  Anyone who cares about government or just wishes to know some odd trivia about Wisconsin will be delighted with the book.

The hard copy edition is used by many who have no computer, or those like me who still find books a most useful way to access information.    While I am computer savvy, I also very much like to hold a book in my hand and read it when and where I want.  I know many feel the same.

There are countless ways to save money in government, but to shortchange the public for the cost of Blue Books every other year makes no sense. Might I suggest reform of the per-diem process for elected officials?  Now we are talking about some serious money-saving!

Call your state representative or senator today and ask for a copy!

Finally, Winston Churchill’s Time Has Arrived

Books have been an essential part of my world since childhood.  While most of my reading centers around history, biographies, and great fiction from the likes of John le Carré, I am much aware of how many great covers are yet to be opened.  That fact was driven home Thursday night as I waited for the kids in the neighborhood to arrive for Halloween.

Watching a recorded interview from Book TV (C-SPAN) I found myself asking how, at the age of 57, and having read about world leaders for decades, I had not once opened a book about Winston Churchill.  In short order Andrew Roberts, the author of Churchill: Walking With Destiny had made an impression so strong about my lapse in judgment that I had an order from Amazon placed within minutes.

My Churchill knowledge has come from the larger overall books of British history or the grand accounts from the likes of Doris Kearns Goodwin as she wrote about life inside FDR’s White House during World War II.  The totality of his life, however, is not something I have mined in a book.   But Roberts convinced me that not only now was this the time, but his book the vehicle. The reviews about Robert’s work have underscored why that idea has many merits.

Such is the challenge facing any biographer of Churchill: how to weigh in the balance a life filled with so much triumph and disaster, adulation and contempt. The historian Andrew Roberts’s insight about Churchill’s relation to fate in “Churchill: Walking With Destiny” comes directly from the subject himself. “I felt as if I were walking with destiny,” Churchill wrote of that moment in May 1940 when he achieved the highest office. But the story Roberts tells is more sophisticated and in the end more satisfying. “For although he was indeed walking with destiny in May 1940, it was a destiny that he had consciously spent a lifetime shaping,” Roberts writes, adding that Churchill learned from his mistakes, and “put those lessons to use during civilization’s most testing hour.” Experience and reflection on painful failures, while less glamorous than a fate written in the stars, turn out to be the key ingredients in Churchill’s ultimate success.

If Churchill’s entire life was a preparation for 1940, “the man and the moment only just coincided.” He was 65 years old when he became prime minister and had only just re-entered front-line politics after a decade out of office. It would be like Tony Blair returning to 10 Downing Street today, ready to put lessons learned during the Iraq war to work. Had Hitler delayed by a few years, Roberts suggests, Churchill would surely have been away from front-rank politics too long to “make himself the one indispensable figure.”

Roberts tells this story with great authority and not a little panache. He writes elegantly, with enjoyable flashes of tartness, and is in complete command both of his sources and the vast historiography. For a book of a thousand pages, there are surprisingly no longueurs. Roberts is admiring of Churchill, but not uncritically so. Often he lays out the various debates before the reader so that we can draw different conclusions to his own. Essentially a conservative realist, he sees political and military controversies through the lens of the art of the possible. Only once does he really bristle, when Churchill says of Stalin in 1945, “I like that man.” “Where was the Churchill of 1931,” he laments, “who had denounced Stalin’s ‘morning’s budget of death warrants’?”

Amazon delivers on Sundays, so……………..


Nation Turning On Donald Trump, Ouster From Office Standing At 49%


It is not going to be a good morning for Donald Trump on the commode as he commences this morning’s tweets.   That is due to the news of polling which is making headlines regarding his shaky standing with the American citizenry.

A near majority of all Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, disapprove of his job performance and back his top Democratic rivals in head-to-head matchups.

What I find remarkable is that the poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal  was conducted after the military raid that killed the leader of ISIS.  In normal circumstances, such a military strike of international significance would have benefited the one sitting in the Oval Office.  But with Trump so laden with criminal and ethical misdeeds the nation is in no mood for winks and nods of approval.

What the poll finds is truly amazing.  Ponder back to how it took two years for an investigation into President Richard Nixon to reach a point that a solid segment of the nation wanted his removal from office.  Think back to the weeks since the Ukraine phonecall made headlines and now where national polling shows the electorate to be on the issue.

In the poll, 53 percent of Americans say they approve of the impeachment inquiry regarding Trump’s actions with Ukraine’s president, while 44 percent disapprove.

The results largely break along partisan lines, with 89 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents supporting the inquiry — versus just 9 percent of Republicans who agree.

Then asked if Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 49 percent answer yes, while 46 percent say no.

That’s a reversal from a month ago, when the survey found the numbers essentially flipped — 43 percent yes, 49 percent no.

The increase in those supporting removal from office comes mainly from Democrats and independents.

Trump had stated he would not worry about impeachment until the polls showed 50% of the public were of one mind.  Orange Mussloni might now start to break a sweat.

I am most interested in the GOP congressional caucus as they know a war-room atmosphere must get underway at the White House.  The caucus is fretting over the lack of urgency as days pass, and then weeks, and still no organized and unified response from the daily piling on of damaging reports.  Trump seems not able to grasp or fully appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Part of that comes from Trump’s form of dementia.  Some of it comes from having no one to stand up and alert him to the fact there is a dire threat of impeachment coming.  Some of it results from his being under-educated.  All that, and more has left the nation in a very sad state of affairs.

The public is watching and learning the facts as they emerge.  While many are just taking in the lead paragraphs it is obvious from the polls that a hefty percentage is digging deeper, and in so doing, arriving at the only logical conclusion. Donald Trump must be impeached and removed from office for actions that run counter to the Constitution.

Say No To Shopping At Any Business On Thanksgiving

Each year Caffeinated Politics makes no bones about the importance of Thanksgiving to our nation.  Equally expressed is the low regard given to those who place profit above family, friends, and national values by finding excuses for opening their doors to make some money.

Thanksgiving has meaning and purpose in America, but businesses would have us think that the foundation of the Holiday does not matter. That only the need for greed and cash matters as stores and places of business gear up for sales.

But there is good news to report, and it is a trend that has been growing over the past years.  A large segment of the nation is not only rejecting the notion of shopping on this Holiday, opting instead to be with family and friends at homes coast to coast, but also voicing their opposition to the attempted destruction of Thanksgiving.

In recent years, the Black Friday craze has inched further and further into Thanksgiving. With stores opening as early as 5 P.M. on Thanksgiving Thursday, it means that festive dinners are being overshadowed by shopping frenzies. But there are still some stores that allow workers to stay home and enjoy the holiday.  I offer that listing below.

These are the stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day 2019:

Ace Hardware
Barnes & Noble
Burlington Coat Factory
Guitar Center
Hobby Lobby
Office Depot
Sam’s Club
Stein Mart
T.J. Maxx
True Value