Response To Senator Ron Johnson


Just because a person marries into money, as Ron Johnson did when he put a ring on the hand of Jane Curler, does not mean there is intellect or capacity to be an elected official.  While Johnson touts his business acumen he owes 99% of his success to his father-in-law.   Let us recall that when a turtle lands on a fence post we all must recognize the creature was placed there by someone.  It did not make the trek on its own.  Though to be fair to the turtle, it would have more abilities to rise to the top than Johnson ever would.  We all know why Johnson floats.

Which brings me to the topic at hand.

One of the staffers in Johnson’s office sent out a mailing about how to limit taxpayers needing to pick up the tab for those awful governmental programs which assist the populace.    Apparently, the senator’s staff is not aware of how much government programming dollars go to red counties in the nation where farmers rely on government handouts and another sizeable chunk of the residents think the last book they ever needed to read was in high school–therefore never seeking ways to improve their lot in life so not to need government assistance.

One of my readers commented back to Johnson about his mailing and what was written is the stuff that makes for a good post on Caffeinated Politics.

When you’re done covering up for our traitor Cheeto in chief tomorrow by voting against impeachment witnesses, rather than posing for holy pictures on the deficit and spending, maybe you could reflect on your part in exploding the deficit.  There is no crisis in Social Security, except that people are living longer.  Are you against that?  Social Security can cash in some of the federal government borrowings against the trust fund for money to keep going.  Your crooked tax cut to reward your repugnant (Repub.) donors are creating one trillion-dollar deficits.  When Bill Clinton left office we were on the pathway to pay off the government debt entirely and then we could have dealt with Social Security.  You and Lyin’ Paulie Ryan couldn’t stand that.  So you pass a tax cut to further enrich the 1%, businesses after throwing a few crumbs, and yes they were crumbs compared to their stock buybacks and CEO compensation.  Why don’t you hold hearings about how companies that pay no taxes are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds (corporate welfare).  Why don’t you hold hearings on how corporate lobbyists got favorable rules from Dept. of Treasury to cut their taxes even more!  

So, since you’re playing the role of bobble-head to Orange Mussolini, I imagine we won’t see much of you in Wisconsin.  You’ll send your staff or do phone town meetings so people can’t appropriately hold you in contempt in person.  I do like how you were called out in the impeachment trial for your participation in the coverup,

Murkowski asks why Senators shouldn’t call John Bolton as a witness – the question asked, also pointing out the contradictions between Ambassador Gordan Sondland, Sen. Johnson, and Bolton on whether there was a quid pro quo. “Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton?” 

Johnson then grimaced slightly as his name was mentioned when Chief Justice John Roberts read out the question.

As a side note, I too, grimace when Johnson’s name is mentioned aloud.

Senate Republicans Are Party Of Monorchism

Tonight the nation has witnessed, yet again, that the modern Republican Party has the spine to rival that of a garden snake in summer.   With an almost glee-like atmosphere, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate threw off any pretense of holding to any values they claimed to represent in all those town hall sessions and folky interviews at campaign time.  The GOP senators in Washington are foolish and so easily manipulated.  It is clear that any huckster could pickpocket any one of them and walk away with one testicle, the other having been freely given to Donald Trump.

These once-traditional Republicans have demonstrated for an entire nation to witness they will gladly prostrate themselves before a self-proclaimed sexual predator.  They will not do anything to stop a president from abusing the powers of his office–even when it comes to an ally at war with Russia.

Republicans tossed the Constitution aside with the same flick of the wrist they do when tossing a burger wrapper into a waste bin.  There was never any need to think of these Republicans as constitutional scholars but after having been subjected to the painful discourse from that side of the aisle for days on end it becomes clear that they are not even literate about the document.  They are raging incompetents who care more about partisanship than love of the country.

It is one thing to be stupid and another to be willfully stupid.  For Republicans to reject the learning process that the House managers put forth. and focus instead on how far one’s head can be placed inside Trump’s backside for political gain, is not a matter of conjecture.  We have actually seen that play out over the past days.

Constitutional protocols that are maligned and grossly ripped apart, as the Republicans have demonstrated repeatedly, prove how low they will go with our institutional norms when controlling any aspect of power in Washington.  They have now proven to be a menace to our republic.


Harvey Weinstein’s Walker Vs. Bill Carlisle Onstage Performances

A couple weeks ago on Caffeinated Politics, I was disdainful of the optics that Harvey Weinstein used as we went to court, using of all things, a walker.  At the time I wrote rather to-the-point.

Like a scene out of a B-grade movie, a frail-looking Harvey Weinstein leaned on a walker yesterday looking pathetic. He passed by the reporters and protesters alike as he hobbled and looked like he as seeking out a modern-day Cecil DeMille for his close up.  Smarmy bastard does not seem aware his close up was his mug shot!

As I write this post I am reminded of the colorful Grand Ole Opry performer, Bill Carlisle (known affectionately as Jumpin’ Bill) who in his later years on stage, would enter onto the stage with a walker.  He would implore the audience to clap and cheer for him, as he leaned on his device.  When the singing was over he held up the walker, threw it over his shoulder, and walked off the stage to more cheers and a fair amount of laughter.

The use of a walker can be all about the optics.  Not only for entertainment but also as a vehicle for sympathy from a court of law.   When a walker is used for onstage comedy it can be seen in the humor of the moment, as with a nearly 90-year-old singing, “No Help Wanted”.

Perhaps it is due to the gravity of the charges that are being pressed against Weinstein, or the national outrage that has ensued since his legal matters have made so many news stories, but I simply do not think his use of a walker is for medical purposes.   I see this as a PR move to influence not only those in the courtroom but equally important, the news consumers who see the images in the newspapers and on television.

I also grasp the downside to this story for those who truly rely on such devices to make them mobile and more able to live fully.  This is another reason I am upset with Weinstein who I am confident is using it to curry favor with a nation that is rightfully scornful of his behavior.

The New York Times has a great column in the newspaper that cuts to the core of this issue.

So why should we care about what, in some cases, is a strategic use of this aesthetic in court? Criminal trials are performances, after all, with high stakes and lawyers squaring off in an adversarial system where their duties are to zealously represent their clients.

We should care because the aesthetics of disability can be used to manipulate the legal system while also reinforcing stereotypes of what people with disabilities look and sound like, and what they are capable of doing.

I wish to leave my readers with a lighter side to life after reading about the gutter side of Weinstein.  I really have no nice words to say about him.

Many–perhaps the majority of my readers–have never heard of Bill Carlisle but when I write Jumpin’ Bill, that is precisely what he did on stage. 



And here is the classic moment from the Grand Ole Opry and the use of a walker.


Influenza Pandemic Of 1918 Exhibit At Ebling Libray–UW Medical School

This evening James and I stopped at the really interesting WWI and Influenza Pandemic 1918 exhibit at Ebling Library.  It is located in the Health Sciences Learning Center.  As headlines are made concerning the current coronavirus outbreak in China that is spreading to other nations, it does make one ponder while reading and looking at this presentation the power of diseases and the methods used to combat the spread of them.

As a lover of history, the exhibit was really well presented and it was easy to understand how fear and dread were felt, for example on the UW campus.   With a student body of 4,000, the death of 69 young men and women meant that it was likely everyone on campus was impacted with sadness.

I have a few small parts to the exhibit to post below.  As time is nearing for the ending of this exhibit please note that if you are interested in this slice of history there are only a couple days left to participate.







Gov. Evers Should Have Greeted Vice President Pence At Airport

Though this blog is called Caffeinated Politics, and it never is too difficult to determine which side of the political divide I align with, it also is never hard to determine that I stand on some long-held foundations.  Foundations that are perhaps Mid-Western, and clearly ones instilled decades ago, when as a boy, my parents were determined to raise a kid they could be proud to claim as their own.

Tuesday when Vice-President Mike Pence visited Madison we had all the optics that accompany such an occasion.  The massive jet landing at Truax and the clapping crowd to welcome him.  The motorcade that zipped its way to the State Capitol, the protestors who opposed the education funding policy that was the topic of the day, and the school kids who were a backdrop to the podium.  It was all part and parcel of what takes place when such notables make a stop in the statehouse.

And it needs to be noted for the sake of history buffs, that Pence was, by all those who keep such data, the first vice-president to have been inside our Capitol.  So it was noteworthy to be sure.  Regardless of politics.

And that is where I am headed.

What was missing from the occasion was Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers meeting and shaking the hand of Pence.  It was the most awkward and unpleasant part of the day from my perspective.

I am very aware of the fundamental differences between the two parties, the chaos that drives our political differences deeper and wider.  I am very aware of what has happened to the body politic since the election of 2016.  But I am also mindful that President Lincoln made a cabinet of those who had less than warm regards for him.  It was Jack Kennedy who brought Lyndon Johnson inside the tent.

When the polite niceties that cost us nothing–such as a handshake and a greeting–are tossed aside for what has to assume are due to the most base of reasons then perhaps it is time to really get dispirited about our politics.

Yes, Pence was in town to score points against Evers over private schools and public funding.  Yes, there was a most important secondary reason for the trip that has to do with our state being a most pivotal one come November’s presidential election.   For those who work in politics every day, this is to be expected.

But all that makes for even more reason to show that in the midst of the storm one has the ability to step forward and shake the hand of an opponent. By so doing it shows that there is no rancor when it comes to being a gentleman, a nice guy from Wisconsin, a fellow governor.

It was not a good look for Evers who missed not only being in a historic photo with Pence at the statehouse but for becoming smaller as a person.

And so it goes.

‘Roadmap’ In Middle East Is Another Stunning Injustice For Palestinians

It was a most bizarre scene which played out in Washington on Tuesday.  And given what we have witnessed in Washington over the past weeks that is saying a lot.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is under indictment, was beaming alongside Donald Trump, who is undergoing an impeachment trial, as they both gleefully threw Palestinians under the bus in the Middle East.  The two legal outcasts were so proud of an idea that would allow for Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel while relegating the Palestinian capital to a suburb.  It is nothing short of obscene.

I fully grasp the mouth-breathers in the Trump base have no scintilla of background about the scope of the issue at hand.  For the rest, we are aware that what has been proposed upends 60 years of bipartisan support for a negotiated process between Israelis and Palestinians, in which both make concessions and land swaps that would define the lines of a new map.  To sweep in a plan based on Jewish zeal, being pushed by Netanyahu to an under-educated and unstable person sitting in the Oval Office, is perhaps the most sickening blow towards the Palestinians since the creation of Isreal.  Before that the Balfour Agreement.

The plan is simply repulsive.  For instance, gerrymandering is at play in a way that makes what happens in the drawing of political lines in the U.S. seem like children’s play.  (Redistricting is a topic this blog has long been concerned about.)  The plan devised by the two felons-to-be would require the construction of a giant tunnel across Israel to connect two areas of Palestinian control.   Simply a most unforgivable proposal.

Neither of the international jokes who stood side-by-side Tuesday seemed at all aware that permanently legitimizing the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank is in clear violation of international law.  Since they both have evaded laws of many kinds in both their countries what does international ones mean?

Israel has stolen land again and again.  Their ruthless policy is the reason they face so much scorn on the world stage.  The fact that too many Jews have moved to Israel that land is scarce must not be the reason for stealing yet more land.   The creation of Israel was a decision made after emotional baggage from World War II needed to be dealt with.  I get that part of it, and understand it.  But the actual creation of this state in the Middle East, while undercutting Palestinians, was always going to be the seed of hatred and tensions.  Getting deeper into the bed with the Israeli governments over the many years has not made it any better.

I must say, as one who can trace his genealogy back to Cherokee Chief John Ross at the time of the Trail of Tears, that this whole sad episode is reminiscent of the treaties in this nation from the 19th century.  Power brokers who steal land, and push others aside.  Just as the removal of Native Americans was a mistake, so was the creation of Isreal.

We see that truth with each passing decade.

Recalling State Senator Lloyd Kincaid, State Representatives Lary Swoboda, Stan Gruszynski, Cletus Vanderperren…..

My new podcast episode!

Recalling the days when the Wisconsin State Legislature was part-time, before air-conditioning and when smoking was allowed. When male legislators at times made sexist statements, and young staffers learned how to handle their new jobs. With candor and insight, Jan Grunewald brings alive the memories from under the dome ‘back in the day’. Host Gregory Humphrey and Grunewald offer fond recollections of State Senator Lloyd Kincaid, State Representatives Lary Swoboda, Stan Gruszynski, and Cletus Vanderperren, along with other memorable faces from the past. In a personal closing commentary, Humphrey allows insight into an uplifting moment for democracy at the Capitol.

Podcast Photo Doty Land

Perfect John Bolton Political Cartoon