Amazon Gets A Win At Madison City Council–In Spite Of Purists

It was ‘Madison being Madison’, but at least this time the naysayers did not win the day.

Even as the nation has been turned upside down, and it also feels as if we are inside -out, it was my hope to see a united city council agreeing that job creation, along with an enhanced tax base, might be the best path on which to proceed when it came to an Amazon project.

After all we have witnessed in the destruction of jobs and livelihoods with COVID-19 it seemed like we might want to think down the road about how to stir the pot and create some hope for the future. After all, is that not part of the job of elected officials?

The planned distribution center on the East Side, will create 145 full- and part-time jobs and is a solid win for Madison.  And for the 145 folks, such a place to work will be a big deal.  Apparently, all the alders, however, did not feel those jobs were the correct jobs that should be supported.

I only wish all the alders Tuesday could have been far-sighted about the reason this plan has merit. In the end, the council vote was 14-6 vote.  But it really does give me pause, that in spite of all the awful glaring headlines over job losses alders Tag Evers, Marsha Rummel, Patrick Heck, Rebecca Kemble, Mike Verveer and Grant Foster voted to reject Amazon’s plan.

It must be nice to have such purity of thought and self-confidence in the correctness of ideas that allows for denying adding jobs to our city.  I wonder if anyone of those alders worked to find any way they could say yes to the plan?  Or was the rigidity of their views about Amazon the sole determining factor?

Yeah, it takes no time to ponder those questions.

Silly me to have thought that all our alders, in this time of turmoil and economic upheaval, and who carries a responsibility to lift citizens up, show resolve at pointing to better days ahead, and marshaling our governing tools to demonstrate hope for the future, instead found six weak-kneed and cowering members among them, who failed at the task they were given.

Perhaps those naysaying alders think their unemployed constituents pay the rent and buy groceries with pure thoughts.

Trump Team Tries To Shift Blame For Their Incompetency Over COVID-19

The blame game in the spin room of the Trump White House is in full rotation as of late. Knowing the announcement today from Administration officials, that projects between 100,000 to 240,000 coronavirus deaths in our nation will send shock waves through the citizenry, efforts are underway to show why Trump should not be blamed.

Americans are fully aware of the haphazard, up-side-down, inside-out approach that has been the hallmark of the Trump White House from the start of this virus making headlines, as early as when cases were being first reported in China.   But to listen to the Trump spin room, one would believe that the impeachment trial was the reason that Trump could not fixate on the coming medical crisis.

First, and foremost, if one can not walk and chew gum at the same time they really should never have registered as a candidate for the presidency.   Secondly, the spin room is just plain wrong as they neglect to mention those pesky things called facts.

The urgent warnings about the virus were included in what news articles have described as the majority of CIA intelligence reports prepared for Trump.  But as we also know Trump is not able to sit down and digest information that is not contained even on a single piece of paper double-spaced, so whether impeachment was underway or not, if one does not care to be informed and educated, there is not much of a chance to learn what one does not know.

While the briefing papers showed the seriousness of the virus, Trump was pandering to the folks who watch FOX News, and stated the coronavirus was not worse than the common flu. In reality, it is about 10x worse, according to the CDC.

For Trump, or anyone in his orbit, to now claim that impeachment was an impediment to his dealing with the virus should be reminded that Trump made a big show of saying the trial wasn’t preventing him from doing work as president.  To prove his point he even made it known, in the midst of the congressional proceedings, he was having a meeting concerning the virus.  Was Trump lying then?  Or now?

It also should be stated that there was never a chance in hell Trump was going to be found guilty in the GOP-controlled Senate, so for the White House spinners to try and propel an idea of constant attention being required in the last phase of the process is absurd.

Impeachment was very much warranted, as history demands that misdeeds and affronts to our Constitution, as well as law and order, must be dealt with by those with such responsibilities.  Placing the word impeached into the opening paragraph of Donald Trump’s obituary was not a move taken lightly, but it was essential for the ones entrusted to uphold national ideals.   Accountability is needed at a time when so many of our fellow citizens acted rashly and without national regard based on the last presidential election.

When we consider the facts it might be that golfing and partisan rallies made more of an impact on Trump’s time that should have been spent on the lives and well-being of the citizenry.


President Ford Slammed For Slip Of Tongue, While Donald Trump Lies Every Single Day And His Supporters Slobber It Up

Monday was one of those incredible news days.  Donald Trump was talking with some of the nation’s governors about the international pandemic, all of which was recorded.  It was during that series of conversations when Trump stated not hearing about testing in regards to COVID-19 “in weeks”.  The statement was shocking and simply surreal.  There is no way to turn to any television newscast, pick up any newspaper, or tune to any radio news and not become aware of the shortage of testing in our country for the coronavirus.

Monday several rural-state governors told Trump that they are struggling to obtain urgently needed medical supplies and testing equipment.  They expressed their warnings that despite the worsening coronavirus situation in New York and other urban areas, more sparsely populated parts of the country need help, too.   For Trump to be needed to be informed of that, given all that we have witnessed over the past weeks, is in and of itself, a very shocking reminder about how little Trump knows, or understands. Or, perhaps, is able to remember. 

In response to requests from the governors for more testing kits, Trump said, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks.” 

I first heard this news as I was eating a late dinner at our home.  (James cooked a homemade fish and rice dish called Brodetto and it was heaven.)  The audacity of Trump to make such a statement, considering that as recently as March 19th he was asked, why famous people (such as basketball teams) get tested when so many regular Americans are left without the option.  Without empathy, he replied, ““Perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump has been asked often about testing and reporters have been determined to find answers from him, and the assembled team he has around him for such appearances.

As I watched the news report during dinner, and then replayed the audio on my i-Pad, my mind raced backward in time.  The time machine landed in 1976, with President Gerald Ford making a misstep on national television during a presidential debate.



It was most obviously a blunder and made with a huge segment of the nation watching.  There have been many efforts over time to determine how much, if any, the lapse in his mouth working in time with his mind, actually mattered in the close election outcome.  But no matter how the matter lands with historical analysis it was a headline maker.  There was no way to assess it other than a strike against his candidacy.

Ford got taken to task for his words.

Decades later Trump can stand up in daily press conferences and outright lie to the nation about a host of issues.  Lately, the lies are about matters of life and death.  But the corrosive nature of such lies has a price tag in a democracy.  Once “misinformation” is initially encoded in a person’s mind, be it the idea that Iraq had nuclear stockpiles or regarding the ‘birther’ issue, it is very difficult to change perceptions through credible means of education.  In fact, attempted corrections, as we have seen from watching the Trump base, often only reinforces the initial misinformation.

I know I am headed into the tall weeds where Trump will never wander without his golf cart, nor his clueless base ever cares to head.  But when Trump lies with boldness, and does so repetitively, it flies in the face of what mankind realized as being vital starting during the Enlightenment.  Every day we deal with a world of objective facts.  They are provable.  Logic and reason follow.  Making up one’s own version of reality is not allowed when facts prove that something is either up, down, dark, or light. 

What we witnessed Monday was a complete example of why Trump is dangerous for the nation.  He is making a mockery of truth, while the lives of our fellow citizens are at stake.

Let’s Hear It For Editorial Cartoonists!

I am always astounded by the reaction from some readers to editorial cartoons that are placed in the daily newspapers. The fact that those drawings create a reaction proves the power and potency of their creative force.

From the start of our history, such opinion drawings in publications have helped to further a needed dialogue on the topics of the day.  Phil Hands, is the editorial cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wisconsin and doubtless many of you have seen his work. The cartoon below is one I had to go back and search for as a response to those who question why editorial cartoons are so pointed in regards to Trump.


Readers to my little place here on the internet highway know I very much enjoy a pithy and well-drawn political cartoon–of the type which arrive each morning on the Op-Ed pages of many papers around the nation.   The role of these forms of information and emotional prodding is something Americans have relied on to help frame the issues of the day.

What disturbs me about the blowback, at times, against editorial cartoonists is the timid newspaper owners and publishers caving to the worst instincts from readers.   I was dismayed when the international edition of The New York Times fell in line with the domestic edition and eliminated all such editorial cartoons.

If someone is offended by a political cartoon it seems time to yank the work of that cartoonist.  Conservative and Trump-supporting newspapers have dropped cartoonists because there was a sharp edge created about the current occupant of the White House. When fragile-minded readers contact newspapers we know what follows.  Corporate bean-counters sweat and whimper and soon the cartoonist is dropped because it is argued, editorial cartoons aren’t seen as bringing in income.  (Having a penchant for reading local newspapers as I travel about, it is a concern of mine that  many small papers do not even have an editorial page.)

The reason these cartoons matter is that they are vital to our culture as they stir the national conversation about topics and personalities that are at times gritty and hard to stomach.  Visual metaphors are important as they often convey a truth that can not be easily summed up in an analysis news article or even a long editorial.

I grew up with Herblock (Herbert Block) as he made Richard Nixon look criminal and Ronald Reagan look out of touch with day-to-day governing.  In each case, news stories underscored such editorial cartoons were correct.  Cartoonists, in another fashion, just had their own way of presenting the news.

Some will look at political cartoons and see nothing but another layer of tension being added to the issues of the day.  The other way to respond is to note such cartoons allow for difficult issues to be more easily discussed.  I am sure, for some readers, cartoons lure them into reading more to further refine their knowledge about the news stories of the day.

There is nothing wrong with editorial cartoons courting controversy.  That is a very real role for newspapers to participate in and plays hand-in-hand with what democracy should look and feel like when opening a newspaper.

Editorial cartoons are an important part of journalism. We must not let editorial cartoons disappear!  Our democracy counts on it.


Trump Proves He Is Not ‘The Business Man’ He Promised To Be In ’16 Election

This story in The New York Times condensed a lot of the hype that Donald Trump wanted the nation to believe in 2016, with the rude facts of his lack of abilities as the nation now confronts a pandemic.  What we have watched occur over the past weeks has allowed all to see the empty suit that is Donald Trump.

When President Trump came to office, he promised a new day with America’s manufacturers, casting himself as the first president who understood their needs. He toured factory floors, often handing out his signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

Yet in the first national crisis that required harnessing American manufacturing ingenuity and ramping up production of ventilators, perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment for patients in crisis, the White House’s ability to gather the power of American industry crumpled.

It was unable to communicate how many ventilators it would need or how quickly it would need them. Mr. Trump set states off on a mad scramble to find their own, leading to bidding wars against one another. Even today it is unclear who is deciding where the new American production will be directed — to the highest bidders or to the cities that need them most.

A week after praising General Motors and a small ventilator manufacturer, Ventec Life Systems, for their voluntary efforts to combine cutting-edge technology with G.M.’s expertise at supply chains and mass production, the president blew up at the largest carmaker in America, accusing its chief executive, Mary T. Barra, of moving too slowly and trying to “rip off” the federal government. In fact, G.M. and Ventec had already signed a partnership — without government help — to ramp up production.

Interviews with White House officials, industry executives and outsiders who tried to intervene make two problems clear. Mr. Trump’s first mistake was recognizing the problem far too late, even though his own medical experts had identified a probable shortage of ventilators as a critical problem in late January, as panic set in that the virus was headed to the United States. Had the president acted sooner, thousands of new ventilators would probably be coming off production lines next month, when they are likely to be desperately needed.

And even after the problem was recognized, and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, took over the process, both the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency struggled to define what was needed, who would pay for it and how to solve the problem of supply chains that stretched across more than a dozen countries.

Wisconsin Voters Need To Be More Like Packer Fans


The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew their signatures might very well land them at the end of a rope for treasonous actions.  In 1864, when our nation warred with itself, a presidential election was held.  In 1918, when another pandemic plagued the globe and killed over 600,00 people in our nation, mid-term elections were successfully held.  In the most vexing of circumstances, the wheel of politics and democracy in this land rolled onwards.  That very spirit, from the birth of this nation through the pandemic we now face, must continue with Wisconsinites making sure the Spring Election takes place, and in numbers that make far more than a political point. 

A couple weeks ago I marveled at the spirit of those living in portions of Tennesse, where tornadoes had leveled swaths of communities.  The morning ‘hell-from-on-high’ storms lashed down but did not close polls for that day’s primaries.  As I watched the returns that evening on the cable channels it was uplifting to see the resolve of the citizens who still participated in the most fundamental responsibility we have as citizens.  Voting.

The coverage reminded me how more uneasy the folks in Tennessee might have felt had the storms undid the local elections.  When governments postpone, for example, elections, it allows for more of a panic mode to hover about.  In these times it is most important to have some norms, especially ones that strike to the foundations of our democracy, continue.  It is important citizens know they have a stake in our future, and a say in our governing process, especially when things seem most dire.

There is no denying the potent nature of COVID-19 or understanding the absolute necessity for social distancing.  Heeding advice from our government, and following the directives from health experts is a necessity.  But at the same time, the need for collective action to demonstrate that the underpinnings of our state (and country) remain strong must continue.  Our Spring Election must be one of those avenues when we send a concerted message about unity and purpose, and it can be done safely.

It is obvious that almost every facet of our lives has been upended due to the virus.  From workplaces to music venues, restaurants to gyms, our world has shrunk to the homes we live in and lawns outside our picture windows.  Hunkering down is the best way we fight back against the virus.  But we must not allow for the virus to attack the very underpinning of our governing process, and the most essential of that framework is our elections.

Absentee balloting is the most appropriate way to cast a ballot in the upcoming elections. We all can be enormously heartened that so many of our fellow citizens have exercised their right in this manner.  In so doing they are using caution but also limiting the hardships which will be on the shoulders of the poll workers the day of the election.  To assist in making same-day voting easier there will be curbside balloting.  Special precautions for those who choose, for whatever reason, to cast a ballot in-person April 7th will be provided.  As it should be.

We all can have our views regarding the efficacy of mail-in ballots for the whole state and how best to ensure safe elections.  We all can line up with either Governor Tony Evers or the leadership of the state legislature.  We can have strong opinions, and should!  For the record, I come from an old-school way of thinking about elections.  To the extent that our state now–and our nation as this year proceeds–can conduct our elections in the manner that is most familiar to my fellow citizens—as well as for the poll workers (which I was one)–it should do so.

But at the end of this debate, it is absolutely essential that the election process not be upended by the virus.  We simply can not allow one of the causalities of this pandemic to be the glue of our democracy.  Our elections.  And the right to cast a ballot.

Wisconsinites are a hearty band of folks.  Consider that no snowstorm or cold front is too much for Green Bay Packer fans at Lambeau Field.  Packer fans do not go in light clothes but instead bundle up in layers galore.  That same spirit of overcoming the odds is precisely what we must employ now as we cast our ballots in the Spring Election. We can create a statewide touchdown by having a huge voter turnout that the whole nation will notice!

Given the crisis at hand, I frankly do not care which person or issue wins at the polls.  I sincerely want to see a huge turnout through absentee ballots that prove, to one and all, that when it comes to the core values in our state we all agree civic duty is very much alive!

And conquered the damn virus!

Dane County Residents Need To Stay Home: “If You Leave Home, Assume You Were Exposed To COVID-19”

The intense messaging from the City of Madison and Dane County can not be more clear or direct.  Those with cell phones received a message on Friday that was most clear.  Stay home.  The message was in short sentences so all could understand the words and meaning.

Having Dane County nurses in my family, and friends who are also working at various local hospitals there is no reason for anyone to miss the gravity of the pandemic.  The only people you should associate with are those who reside in your own home.   No one else should be in your orbit.  Period.



Jan Howard, Lady From The Ozarks, Is Now Singing On The Biggest Stage


The Grand Oe Opry family lost another member today with the death of Jan Howard.

She was not only an independent voice in her own right, with many recordings, but also was one of the classic country ladies along with Jean Shepherd, Skeeter Davis, and others who would band together and make music from the world-famous stage in Nashville Tennessee.


bill and jan

When I was in the third grade my parents had tickets to see Bill Anderson, and his then singing partner Jan Howard, when they were to do a concert in Waupaca Wisconsin. I was going through a severe bout of the flu, and there were real concerns whether or not I could attend the show. But there was a miraculous recovery and I was there in the bleachers to watch, but it was Jan Howard who had come down with the flu and missed the concert!

I did not see her that night but many years later at the world-famous stage of the Grand Ole Opry, I saw Howard, along with the full array of performers.  Tonight she is with so many other legends on the largest stage ever.