Conservatives Need Rubuke Over Mask Wearing, National Economy Proof As To Why


This morning, regardless of where one lived daily newspaper(s) told the story of what has happened to our economy from a failure of national leadership to deal with COVID-19.  With those headlines comes the continuing drama from Republicans who want to punish elected officials who care enough to stem the spread of the virus with mask mandates.  While much of the nation wants to confront the virus in effective ways, conservatives are pushing Free-dumb. There is no better example as to why education matters.


The nation’s gross domestic product fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year as consumers cut back spending, businesses pared investments and global trade dried up.  The drop — the equivalent of a 32.9 percent annual rate of decline — would have been even more severe without trillions of dollars in government aid to households and businesses.


With Republicans not willing to participate in helping with cash infusions into local units of government, a necessary part of any future COVID relief bill, the next GDP report in October—just weeks before the election–will be most troubling.  The V-shaped swing in the economy that this White House claimed was going to happen clearly did materialize.  Frankly, no one ever thought it would.  But the economic implosion is much deeper than anyone would have dared predict.  Without the federal power of the purse, and with the climbing numbers of new virus cases, and the pall that places on business requires conservatives to pull their head from the sand.

This weekend is not likely to produce any great compromise in Congress as the Republicans are so politically screwed come November they are more concerned about positioning themselves within their caucus for the post-Trump world.   That political footwork does not bode well for the economy or unemployed workers.

Trump meanwhile has not done anything meaningful for the economy.  He lumbered into the office and profited from the Obama economy.   When given a chance to lead on the virus he instead called it a hoax and stated that the virus would just go away.


There is only one reaction that this nation can have regarding Republicans and conservatives when it comes to their lack of concern about the health and well-being of the citizenry and economy.  They all simply need to be severely rebuked.


Walking Tour: One Year Out, Smiles Abound At Our Home

I have commented numerous times over our dinner table that we can be most grateful that the purchase of the two top floors of our home took place last year.  Today is the one year anniversary of the signing.  With a pandemic raging, and the economy in flux trying to score the prize this year would have been extremely hard.

Last year every time we turned around there were numerous workers who for one reason or another spent hours (and even weeks in the case of the electricians) in our home.  With the need now for masks and self-distancing having bathrooms updated, new hot water heater and kitchen appliances installed, and insulation added there is no way the outcome would have been the same.  In addition, we furnished the second floor, and it took four people to lift and move the furniture inside.  There is no way any of that could be done now in a safe manner.

While the second floor remains without a renter due to the need for health safety during COVID-19 there is no shortage of smiles.  In fact, we have even allowed the idea of Martha Washington to take hold.  With a ‘summer kitchen’ for the heat to be somewhere other than in our personal quarters we often make dinner upstairs and then eat out on the balcony.  Unlike, Martha, however, we do not always have a Virginia ham on the table!  (If you have never been to Mount Vernon please make plans to tour the entire location.)

When digging around about the history of our home, it would seem that the house shares a common history with the one located next door.  That residence was built in 1885 for Mrs. Johanna Bartsch, widow of the late August Bartsch.  (Captain August Bartsch, born April 1, 1841, died August 17, 1873, has rested beneath a government marker at the Forest Hill Cemetery of Madison in Section: 29 Lot: 10 since the day of his passing.  He had served his country in the Civil War, having been a part of Co. G, 26th Wis. Inf.  Enlisted 8/11/1862, discharged 5/15/1865.)

Mrs. Bartsch apparently was related to the Baus family because when she moved to Madison ca. 1883 she lived with Sophia Baus, widow of Richard Baus, at her house nearby. Richard Baus, a cigar manufacturer, had recently died.  He probably left the business to Johanna, because in the 1883 city directory, she is listed as a cigar manufacturer and an Edward Baus, who also lived nearby, was the manager of her firm.  (After that date, however, there is no longer any mention of their business in the city directories).

In 1885, part of the family property was split and Johanna built a house for herself. For a while Walter Bartsch, a painter and probably her son, lived there, too.  In 1892 she built another house on the family property we now own.  A succession of residents at this home after that makes it appear that she used the older house as rental property.

Late at night this house might ‘creak’ and in the winter when it is super cold outside the sweaters are put on and the kitchen is the place where it is warm and toasty. James always makes this house a home.  This past year the third floor (not to be rented) is the place where rainstorms make for that intense sound on the roof and a window seat has become another favorite reading nook.

I take nothing for granted and am reminded each day why there are reasons to smile.  From the sun that might hit a wood floor a certain way that then lights up a room, or a bird nest that is angled perfectly to be viewed from a window, or the frost formations on a window, or the sound of the train heard on the balcony late at night.  It is all good.

I produced a ‘walking tour’ of the second and third floors of our home.  Welcome inside one year later………


Wisconsin Republicans Face Sister Souljah Moment

Wisconsin Republicans were correct when they pressed for the Spring Election to be held, even in the face of a pandemic, and many robust voices who countered with strong objections.  There was even a legal case that made its way to our highest court.  Holding the election, in times of great stress and tumult, underscores the strength of our republic.  I very much concurred with making sure our scheduled election took place.

Thursday morning Donald Trump tweeted about the November presidential election.  The last line has caught the attention of the nation.

Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

While Trump consistently sends out tweets and statements that are meant to deflect from embarrassing headlines the gravity of his words this morning is a wake-up call for everyone.  His autocratic nature continues to be a source of concern, and when it is so starkly displayed it calls for Americans to stand up for the values we know to be valid.

This is the time for Wisconsin Republicans to make it perfectly clear that there can be no tampering with the date of the fall election.  Given their resolve to demonstrate why honoring and abiding with a voting schedule matters in Wisconsin, it is imperative they now stand with millions of others around the nation and again make that argument.

There is no denying the potent nature of COVID-19, and there is no way to predict what the caseload numbers will be at the time of fall balloting.  It is obvious that almost every facet of our lives have been upended due to the virus.  From workplaces to music venues, restaurants to gyms, our world has seemingly shrunk. 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.

And we must not allow for a president who faces a determined and angry electorate to even toy rhetorically with a basic right of our citizenship—the election of our next national leader.

It is absolutely essential that the election process not be upended by Trump or the virus.  We simply cannot allow one of the causalities of this pandemic to be the glue of our democracy.  Our elections.  And the right to cast a ballot.

All of Wisconsin must insist on that idea.  And because the Republican Party properly insisted on having the April election held on time they can now again be leading voices opposing Trump’s words of this morning.  I trust they will strongly stand up for the nation.

This is their Sister Souljah moment.

Herman Cain Dead, Did Not Care About Others With His Poor Decisions Regarding COVID-19



Who could have predicted this news?  Herman Cain is dead, now one of the over 151,000 Americans who are to be listed in the pages of history as dying during this pandemic.

But frankly, given the simple-minded nature of how Cain carelessly conducted himself in the face of professional guidance about COVID-19, who really cares?  After all, he did not care about himself or others when he acted rashly and without regard for data and science.  He opposed the protocols that we are all aware of regarding how to not become infected, or how to stop the transmission of the virus to others.   And that way of acting has an impact on others.

Cain attended  Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally, was then diagnosed and hospitalized with Covid-19.  Cain, as co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, was one of Trump’s surrogates at the rally.

I said at the time of the rally the cult-like atmosphere which surrounds so much of the Trump base refused to practice social distancing and rejected the wearing of masks.  That attitude then is repeated on FOX News and with conservative talk radio to the lower-educated Trump base, which adds to the national problem of dealing effectively with this virus.

So who really cares if Cain is dead?  He did not care about anyone else as his actions during the pandemic most clearly demonstrated.  The pandemic is serious and the only way to make the point to some of the Trump base is with a funeral. 

And so it goes.


Wanting “Decency To Prevail”


We got one of those special cards in the mail this week from a couple of sisters who live in Minnesota.  They have resided together for years and while not having a computer did have faith that a Yo Yo Ma site they had heard about might be to our liking.  How could any site with his music be bad?

But it was the ending to the note that made me stop and read it again.  The weight of the words–that they are even needed to be written—made me stop and think.

“We continue to pray for decency to prevail in November.”

Above the fold in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal was the top banner headline “Trump Holds To Drug Argument”.  The story reported that Trump is still promoting a malaria drug that has been proven not to be effective for those infected with COVID-19.  As the nation’s death count stands at 150,000 Americans Trump continues to press forward with outlandish statements while not putting forth any credible plan to fight the raging pandemic.

For a very wide swath of the nation, there is no other issue that is more urgent and demanding than to have a mature and reasoned person leading the nation during this medical crisis.  To see that Trump saddles up to a witchdoctor who believes that demons have sex with sleeping people, which then causes illnesses, while also claiming masks are not important for the containment of COVID is more than maddening,

It is just another sign of the lack of decency exhibited by Trump.  His lack of respectable behavior is now so common that we are searching for that very trait when it comes to our upcoming elections.

When there was a major political fight in 1980 between President Carter and Ronald Reagan the issues being debated were about economics and foreign policy.  No one doubted that Carter was a decent man, with his religious background and his solid family.  Likewise with Reagan who often seemed more of a national grandfatherly type of candidate.

So when I read the lines from the sisters praying for “decency to prevail” it really hit a note as I have long sensed that is what the nation most yearns for as we head to the election.

Our nation used to place presidents as the leading example of being a good role model.  No one can claim that about Trump.  Three wives and being a habitual liar makes him more a poster example of what we wish our nation’s children to run from.  What dad wishes his son to cheat at every aspect of life, including with multiple marriage vows?

Perhaps the never-ending series of blows from Trump feels so harsh due to our nation having, in the preceding eight years, a brilliant and empathetic president.  Or perhaps because the bulk of this nation knows from experience that old-fashioned sensibility which might be summed up with a man’s word is his bond and that a handshake means something.  And how that is all so lacking now from the leader of our nation.

No one who has any knowledge of Trump can honestly claim he has any of the decency we learned since childhood and then live out each day.   Should not the basic decency that the citizenry possesses be at least a foundation for the person who sits in the Oval Office?

“We continue to pray for decency to prevail in November.”

And so it goes.

Republican Congressman Gohmert Met With Staff After Finding Positive For COVID-19–What We Say About GOP Is True


One has to smile when someone like Congressman Louie Gohmert has a confirmed case of COVID-19.  He has disdained facts and science about the virus, flaunts the use of masks, and now has tested positive for the disease.  I hope he does not require to use a ventilator in the future, and perhaps take away the device from someone who through no fault of their own contracted the virus.

The news of this right-wing wack-a-doddle is highlighted from an email sent to Politico that shines a light on the need for widespread testing in Congress, both for members and their staff, and also the soulless way Gohmert conducts himself.

….we got an email from one of his aides saying this:

“JAKE, THANK YOU for letting our office know Louie tested positive for the Coronavirus. When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that ‘we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.’ When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks.”

A FEW THINGS ARE CLEAR after covering Washington for four months in the coronavirus era: Most people are taking this seriously, but not everyone. And all it takes is one irresponsible person — an armchair scientist who decides masks aren’t for them, or their entire office should work in person in the middle of a pandemic — for many of us to get sick with a virus that could kill us. (GOHMERT says he might’ve gotten Covid from wearing a mask, per an interview he gave to a local affiliate.)

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS arrive here from all over America nearly every week. They can’t conduct their business from afar — fair enough. But neither can we — journalists — or the House and Senate floor staff, maintenance workers or anyone who has to keep this massive complex afloat.

YET, THE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP refuses to require testing or masks for the people who come into the building each week.

LET’S BE REAL: The Capitol has superspreader written all over it. People are coming off planes, out of cars, and many of them can’t be relied upon to follow basic masking rules that are mandatory across the country.

GOHMERT went back to his office after he tested positive to talk to his staff!

One hopes Gohmert does not have a zipper problem and then fails to keep a distance from his mistresses, too.

The Hajj In Time Of Pandemic


Credit…Saudi Ministry Of Media, via Reuters

I have always been drawn to better understand the hajj.  Over my lifetime of watching the event occur, talking with people who have undertaken the mission and spoken about the completeness they feel as a result leaves me awed.  I find the history of Islam intriguing, and especially how it impacts the Middle East and nearby regions politically.  The more I learn has deepened my respect for the faith as it is practiced by the majority.

This year there are changes for the pilgrims due to the pandemic.

In any other year, Muslims undertaking the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca that observant Muslims are obligated to perform at least once, would drink from a holy well. They would kiss the Kaaba’s sacred black stone as they thronged the Grand Mosque. Before they left Mecca, they would collect pebbles to ritually stone the devil.

During the virus edition of the hajj that begins on Wednesday, the black stone is off limits. Authorities in Saudi Arabia are issuing bottled water from the Zamzam well instead of letting pilgrims drink from cups at the source. Also in the pilgrim packages: sterilized pebbles to hurl at the devil, personal prayer rugs and other items intended to prevent an outbreak from marring the hajj.

But the chief public health measure the Saudi government has taken is to limit attendance, shrinking one of the world’s most famous crowds to a select few. About 2.5 million Muslims from around the world performed the hajj last year; this year, Saudi Arabia said it would allow just 1,000 pilgrims, all of them from within the kingdom, though it has not released the final number.

Across the Middle East, celebrations for Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice that marks the end of the hajj this weekend, will likewise be paler this year.

In Oman and Bahrain, where the unchecked spread of the virus among low-paid foreign laborers living in crowded conditions has contributed to two of the world’s worst outbreaks, officials have urged residents to forgo the large celebrations that usually mark Eid, and Oman has reinstituted a domestic travel ban and curfew. In Egypt, new cases have fallen as the country resumes normal life, but a live broadcast will replace communal Eid prayers.

In the United Arab Emirates, where it is common for residents to buy sheep or other livestock to sacrifice and donate during Eid, the authorities were encouraging people to use apps to reduce crowding at slaughterhouses and markets.

Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway Fails At Leadership: Madison Police Vote 95% “No Confidence”

The Madison Professional Police Officers Association did not need to alert us to the facts regarding Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway.  They approved a vote of no confidence in her stewardship of the city, but all one needs to do is walk down any street and strike up a conversation to best understand the deep concerns residents have about the mayor.

Her “unhealthy portrayal” of police creates an “us versus them” dichotomy, the union said in a statement, that “is particularly dangerous at a time when city agencies and entities should be working collaboratively to address an increase in burglaries, car thefts, weapons offenses (including shots being fired daily all over the city) and, sadly, attempted and completed homicides too often claiming the lives of young Madisonians.

Her tenure has been a colossal failure of leadership.   A professional, who often interacts with the powers of the city government, told me last week no matter who is in the room with the mayor, she believes she is still the smartest one.  That blunder in self-judgment accounts for much of the mess that has unfolded since she took office.

Rhodes-Conway is not well-suited for the office she holds, having amply demonstrated her profound lapses in judgment as State Street was looted and our police officers not supported.  That is, in part, why there is now an attempt to recall her from office.

The recall effort has now been offered a very credible foundation with the announcement of the police union vote.  I was hoping and waiting for a seasoned and responsible segment of the city to stand up and offer a reason that people should engage with the recall effort. 

I was not at all pleased with the partisan nature of those who first assembled the recall.  I have withheld any mention of the recall from this blog for that very reason.  Having a former Republican assembly candidate as the lead messenger was a dreadful start to what should have been a more inclusive and broad-based approach to meet the needs of the city.

And Madison is in need of real leadership now.  To get there we need more voices like that of the police union heard,  and far fewer missives from Jon Rygiewicz, who filed a petition with the city clerk to begin circulating petitions to force Rhodes-Conway into a recall election.

No one can be pleased with the lack of leadership from this mayor over the past months.  Our city can not afford to think about three more years of having ‘the smartest one in the room’.

And so it goes.