Brett Favre Still Owes $828,000, What Story Might Victor Hugo Write?

The story of Victor Hugo is well known.

In the 1840s the writer was walking about when he noticed that a thin man was being taken away by police for stealing a loaf of bread. Hugo will turn that man, who had ragged clothes and human misery all over him into a most memorable book, Les Miserables.

I thought of Hugo and that event when reading the latest on former football player Brett Favre who now has 30 days to return $828,000 he received from welfare funds that should have gone to needy families. The Mississippi State Auditor Shad White is not mincing words anymore over this matter.

Favre is a Mississippi native and surely knows that portions of his state are economically troubled, with poverty and lower education scores making for difficult living standards. So when it was made public that he had received $1.1 million in funds from two non-profits, and was only obligated to make speaking engagements for receiving the money something should have registered as being less than legitimate.

The former NFL player never attended or spoke for Families First For Mississippi, one of the non-profits involved in the alleged scheme. The founder of the non-profit, however, has been indicted on state and federal charges for the largest embezzlement scheme in that state’s history.

The ongoing saga is not new, but the ante has been increased with White now saying the recipients of the misspent funds, including Favre and Favre Enterprises, must repay the money within 30 days or face a civil lawsuit.

The wording of that letter did not mince words. Even a bounced around the football field type of player could not miss the import of the letter.

The letter Favre received from White said the “illegal expenditures and unlawful dispositions were made when you knew or had reason to know through the exercise of reasonable diligence that the expenditures were illegal and/or the dispositions were unlawful.”

Here is my bottom line.

I do not often write about sports on this blog. When I do, it is never about a team winning or a player that is doing better than the oddsmakers thought possible. I see sports merely as a larger social issue.

As such then, this tawdry behavior from Favre is posted about as we simply can not accept this type of behavior from someone who is termed ‘a hero’ by too many impressionable young boys.  It has long been a sore point of mine when national role models succumb to the dark side after having been presented to the public as images our nation’s kids should emulate.  In reality, there are limited national figures in our country who have the qualities and characteristics that most parents would want their children to look up to, or model their lives after.

And that is sad.

The poor man who just wanted bread for his family can be understood. The rich man who took money needed by those in poverty can only be scorned. Hugo would have constructed a Farve story with no doubt as to the moral foundation.

And so it goes.

Action Alert: Moral Imperative To Help Afghans Who Helped U.S. Military

I implore my readers to call your member of Congress to help expedite visas for those who aided us in the Afghan war before they or their families are murdered by the Taliban. We must keep our word. (202) 224-3121 is the Capitol switchboard, an operator will connect you to your representative’s offices.

There is no wiggle room on this issue. No two ways to look at the matter. Rather, there is the right way, the moral path, the only one our nation can undertake. And we must take that path. Now.

As the Taliban take their final military steps to control the whole of Afghanistan there are now thousands of people, who were mighty helpful to the American efforts, who now face certain death. The retribution from the Taliban is not a question of if, but only when.

That is why the House, in late June, voted overwhelmingly (366 to 46) to speed up the process that would allow these brave people to immigrate to the United States. There are over 18,000 Afghans who worked for the United States as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards, and embassy clerks.

Over the past months as we faced a pandemic we have heard of essential workers in this nation. Well, my readers, these men and women in Afghanistan were ALSO essential workers.

But they are now stuck in a bureaucratic mess that should not be allowed to continue. They did the proper paperwork and applied for the Special Immigrant Visas. Such visas are for people who face threats because of work they have completed for our government.

With each day that passes without a resolution of this matter, the lives of these people become more dire. So to put it into more stark, but accurate terms, every minute counts. And you can help make for a positive outcome.

While I am very aware that we can recount the ways and means of how American foreign policy over the decades has betrayed those who have supported this nation, this is not the time for such academic posturing. The barn is on fire, and the need to extinguish the flames is paramount. The back-biting and sniping can wait until the smoke at least clears.

Therefore, I implore my readers to call your member of Congress to help expedite visas for those who aided us in the Afghan war before they or their families are murdered by the Taliban. We must keep our word. 202) 224-3121 is the Capitol switchboard, an operator will connect you to your representative’s offices.

Donald Trump Begins Journey Of Meeting Justice, She Is Dressed As Tax Agent

At the end of each year, we see the almost routine cartoon of Father Time being ushered out as a baby New Year takes over. I thought of that type of drawing this morning as I searched for an old editorial cartoon showing Donald Trump meeting Lady Justice. The cartoon I found is most relevant today as Donald Trump and his business, have finally started to be brought into the light of law and justice.

It is but the first leg of a long and legally intense drama. But it is a very much-needed event for our nation. It is a vital function of a working democracy that those who are at the highest rungs of elected office not be seen or thinking they are above the laws. You know, the ones that the rest of us follow.

The charges are being brought by the Manhattan District Attorney against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, whom Trump once praised for doing, as is often quoted, “whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line” are most riveting. The Trump Organization is officially facing criminal charges. The organization, a company helmed by the Trump family that contains a host of business entities, including numerous luxury real estate properties, is charged with scheme conspiracy, grand larceny, falsifying business records, and criminal tax fraud.

Grifting with all their might for decades.

As such we now have the first, and certainly not the last, of a sweeping legal inquiry into the business practices that for decades have been openly talked about for their corrupt underpinnings.

Last night James and I were talking as we took a late evening drive about a local company offering $500 if one signed up to be a co-worker. He had read about this matter online earlier in the day. But, of course, taxes and other amounts are removed as if the money was an actual paycheck. The amount of money left as an incentive was one that, I assume, many would not consider a deal.

So when it comes to viewing the Trump tax shams now meeting Lady Justice, where vast amounts of goods and services were provided with no tax paid, it then underscores the vast difference between the ‘little guy’ trying to make ends meet in Dane County, and the corruption now making banner headlines.

I can see the Trump base, not understanding the intricacies of tax law, and simply dismissing the entire matter as political. Of course, they feel this way, as Dear Leader is never wrong in their undereducated eyes.

But the rest of us know history.

It was tax evasion that finally, once and for all, caught up Al Capone. Lady Justice comes in many guises, and this time for Trump and Company she dresses as the taxman.

This blog, throughout the 2016 presidential election, made clear that it was essential nominees for the White House release their taxes. The reason was obvious, as was made clear for decades of such practice by those politicians who had nothing to hide. Now, due to Trump, we are seeing why such disclosures are most prudent and warranted.

The fraud that we knew was at the heart of Trump’s refusal to be forthcoming will now be headlines that the entire nation will come to understand.

And so it goes.

Brett Favre Needs To Pay Back Mississippi Welfare Fund…Should Not Cheat System Of $600,000

The last time Brett Favre was mentioned at length on this blog he had made news for sending pictures of his penis to a former New York Jets game-day hostess. At the time, I asked if his penis tap danced or did tricks…otherwise, why would anyone care to see it? The NFL had fined Favre, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, $50,000 for a “failure to cooperate” with the investigation into the matter.

Why his tawdry behavior even made this blog was that the episode simply was not the type of behavior that we should expect from someone who is termed ‘a hero’ by too many impressionable young boys.  It has long been a sore point of mine when national role models succumb to the dark side after having been presented to the public as images our nation’s kids should emulate.  In reality, there are limited national figures in our country who have the qualities and characteristics that most parents would want their child to look up to, or model their lives after.

The act by Favre against Jennifer Sterger was sexist, and I stated the NFL League needed to deal with the matter in a strong fashion. I also noted that Favre not providing answers to the investigators was a mere tactic as he had ‘lawyered up’ and simply had no self-defense for his new found love for photography.

Now comes another episode featuring Favre which is embarrassing for anyone to even read about.

A year after promising to pay back $1.1 million in welfare money he received, Brett Favre has yet to pay back $600,000 of that money — and he’s not under a formal agreement to do so. (At the same time as the agency was doling out the grants more than 98% of individual applications for welfare were denied by the agency.” )

Favre voluntarily repaid the state of Mississippi $500,000 in May 2020 after the state auditor’s office found that a nonprofit paid the retired NFL quarterback welfare money for speeches he never gave.

Logan Reeves, spokesperson for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor, said no one in the office has spoken to Favre since he made his promise and paid the $500,000.”There is no update to provide,” Reeves said. “He made the commitment which was in our press release a year ago today. He made the commitment to continue repaying the remainder of the $1.1 million after he made the $500,000 remittance.

“Favre received funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in 2017 and 2018, according to a report the auditor released in May 2020. The money came through the Mississippi Department of Human Services and a nonprofit, the Mississippi Community Education Center.

The money that went to Favre was only a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars the Mississippi Department of Human Services was doling out in block grants for nonprofits. The block grants allowed private, nonprofit organizations to handle millions in taxpayer money that had loose guidelines on how to spend it.

And just to press the point I repeat, At the same time as the agency was doling out the grants, more than 98% of individual applications for welfare were denied by the agency.

Reading about Favre, and the larger issue of role models and children makes me think of a song from decades ago. A snippet below from Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?

This country needs a lotta things today friends,
But it doesn’t need any one thing anymore than it needs some real heroes,
Men who know what it means to be looked up to by a grimy faced kid,
Men who wanna sign autograph books and not deal under the table

And so it goes.

One Year Ago, March 11, 2020 (It Did Not Need To Be This Way In America)

Many of us know where we were one year ago today, March 11, 2020. That was the day when the weight of the virus landed on the nation. The world knew the words from the World Health Organization were ominous as they first termed COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Up to that time there were those in the United States who called the virus a hoax–they stated those words as comments on social media sites, talk radio, and letters to the editor. I even had a FB friend write on her page that the news media was trying to scare the citizenry. Wow. The bottom line ‘reasoning’ for that type of comment was always that factual news and medical data about the virus would hurt Dear Leader in the election year.

But the night of March 11 was when the severity of the crisis landed hard. The next day, Broadway theaters shut down in New York City and a couple days later New York City schools closed too. In short order, life in Madison and around Wisconsin, as well as in every other state dramatically changed.

A year later we have three vaccines that are being administered to our fellow citizens and an actual leader in the Oval Office who knows the necessity of making sure the world is also vaccinated. International travel and business require a world that is safe from this virus. We have an actual president who has signed needed legislation pumping trillions of dollars into the economy.

For all the erroneous claims from Republicans about the COVID relief legislation it needs noting that states that voted for Donald Trump in the November election are due to get a larger amount of education and child-care aid per resident than those that backed Biden. Facts are stubborn things! It also needs noting that residents of Republican-leaning states, which tend to have lower household incomes, also are likely to get larger stimulus checks and tax breaks as well.

In fact, much of the aid is targeted at lower-income Americans who have suffered disproportionately during the coronavirus crisis. That helps low-wage, Republican-leaning states including Louisiana and Mississippi more than those in higher-income, Democratic-leaning states like Maryland and New Jersey.

But none of that takes away the powerful agony about the mass deaths of over 528,000 Americans—deaths that did not need to have happened over the past 12 months. History will hold one person largely accountable for creating a climate of blather and nonsense.

Madison Neighborhood Idea Equally Bad In North Dakota

I have pressed the Marquette Neighborhood Association Board, during the term of former President Lynn Lee, to create a cleaner, more open, and transparent process of conducting business.  One item I often wrote about on the public listserv in the neighborhood concerned the vote tallies for the annual meeting not being made public.  I was told that no such data would be made public.  The vote totals from ballots cast by the dues-paying members would be kept secret.  Only the winners’ names would be announced.

This past week’s news about a similar desired behavior in North Dakota has created a stir for those concerned about anti-transparency outcomes.  Their state senate passed a bill (43-3) that aims to forbid election officials from disclosing how many actual votes are cast for each candidate in future presidential elections.  But, unlike the MNA Board, they would disclose them after the Electoral college had convened to select an official victor.  We can clearly see the lunacy and danger from the move in ND that was supported by all the GOP members and opposed by all the Democratic members of the chamber.

Since there is not some raucous emotional event now taking place within the MNA means it would be the right time to have the Board make the change about releasing vote totals at future general meetings when electing new board members.   Transparency is a good thing.  We also know what it looks like and the reaction we have when it is continually, and purposely, undermined.

It goes without saying that withholding vote totals, be it on the Madison isthmus or the flatlands of North Dakota, rightly raises suspicions in the minds of voters about what actually occurred in the election.

I pointed out to Lee many times, when trying to get the Board to understand the simple concept, that voters do question the accuracy of the outcomes without vote totals for the ones running for election. Having much enjoyed civics education in my youth and using it as an adult presses home the most salient argument for releasing vote totals. How can there be a public filled with confidence about an election, the handling and counting of ballots, or the listing of board winners if there are no numbers against which to verify the process?

And so it goes in the Marquette Neighborhood and North Dakota!

Donald Trump: “Th-th-th-that’s All Folks!”

On Inauguration Day, March 4, 1865, vice-president-elect Andrew Johnson showed up for this swearing-in stone drunk. As he entered the office of Hannibal Hamlin, the outgoing Vice-President, it was most obvious that Johnson had a very bad hangover. It should be noted that Hamlin was a teetotaler and had even banned liquor in the Senate chambers. So when Johnson called out for a stiff drink it left many wondering what to do. A bottle was finally obtained and as history notes in Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen those assembled watched “Johnson guzzle down the entire bottle as if he were on the verge of dehydration and had just been handed some water.”

Johnson was never duly elected for the job, but became the nation’s leader upon the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. While Lincoln had used prudence and flexibility to govern and win the Civil War Johnson undermined Reconstruction in such a tragic fashion that it harmed our nation for a hundred years. Historians over the ages had always placed Andrew Johnson as the worst person to have served as president.

But then Donald Trump rode down an escalator in 2015 and started spouting racist rants about brown-skinned people. In time he would verbally attack a former POW, as well as Gold Star families. Historians, sadly, will need to adjust their view of our national story when it comes to the bottom feeders.

Donald Trump will finally leave our White House this week and face his personal demons away from the minute-by-minute headlines that he has thrived on far too long at the expense of our democracy. But before he departs there is a need to sum up his loathsome nature and what he did to our country. Given the truckloads of material from which to choose I select two of them that have always been my talking points about why Trump should never have sat in the Oval Office.

First, and foremost, was the videotape of Trump standing before a political rally mimicking a disabled reporter. What was most telling, too, was that his supporters laughed. Then to add to the national dismay Trump, over and over, defended the ‘humor’. It was a most telling moment for the nation when defining Trump, and also his base of followers and sycophants.

Second, were the words from Trump when stating Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was presiding over lawsuits against Trump University, could not be fair because he is “of Mexican heritage” and as such had “an inherent conflict of interest.” He repeatedly attacked the judge as “unfair” and “a hater.” The racism was reprehensible.  Trump placed ethnicity with implied bias and in so doing attacked the independence of the judiciary.  If a judge can be disqualified from a case merely for his personal background, rather than for any material conflict of interest, what does that say about the strong underpinnings of this place called America, the ‘melting pot of the world’? That type of repugnant behavior is what we witnessed from Trump repeatedly.

The hate spewed by Trump over his (thank God!) one term was equally rank when wanting to ban 1.4 million people from entering the nation based on how they worship God. When conservatives fell for the darkness of Trump in 2016 they traded in their moral fiber (again) for a purely partisan and hate-filled tonic that proved to be the opposite of our national ideals.

The past four years have been painful and damaging to the nation, as well as those nations around the world, who look to the United States as a strong ally and sturdy foundation. What we all have endured was due to the discarding of a simple way of looking at the role of one who serves in government. I have long argued for those who serve in our government be it local, state, or national, to have a certain mindset about the job. I closed out a chapter in my book, Walking Up The Ramp, with these words. I end Trump’s time in our White House with those same words and thought.

Years after leaving my job I wrote a note to a friend who was hoping to get a job in the state capitol. Knowing how difficult and frustrating it can be, I wanted him to know his hard work was worth the time, and emotional investment. I closed my note to him with the following about how he should conduct himself once employed under the dome–it was the way I met each day when I went to work in that wonderful building, and I hope is the way others seek to do their job when fortunate enough to work there in the years to come. “…in your job make each day count, and affect change in every way possible; honor the public’s trust in every action you take.

Open Letter To Senators Tina Smith And Amy Klobuchar RE: Using 25th Amendment

Let me be very clear to all my readers.

Donald Trump is without a doubt most unfit and demonstrates to be unwell mentally. He is openly working to undermine our democracy and therefore must relinquish control of the Executive Branch voluntarily or involuntarily. We know his character, and therefore the latter will be necessary. The 25th Amendment must be used to ensure the safety of our nation.

Today I received a letter from a friend that was sent to both of the Minnesota Senators Tina Smith And Amy Klobuchar. I post it below as it hits the points directly and perfectly.

Dear Sen. Smith,

 
Thank you for continuing to do your job and to represent us despite the attacks  on our Nation’s Capitol yesterday. I hope you know that that is not the way myself or most other Americans expect people to act in a democracy.  Whatever you want to call this, whether a mob attack, insurrection,  or even a coup,  it was anti-Democratic  and  I fear for our Nation. Also, I am angry that my tax monies are being squandered to try to stop unnecessary violence that was promoted and initiated by our supposed leader.
   

As yesterday’s events unfolded, a legislative representative from San Francisco California said that the president is clearly “unhinged” on the PBS News Hour.  I cannot confirm nor deny this  as I am not a psychologist, but I have been and continue to be very concerned about the mental stability and the ongoing actions of the president.
   
An essential question: Are there mechanisms in place to not allow the current president to  launch nuclear weapons without some oversight / input from other government officials who can be trusted?   I don’t want to raise any alarms, but I am very fearful that  the current president not be  allowed to  initiate  any military actions  unilaterally. I,  like many people,  do not believe he has  our nation’s best interest  in mind.
   
In light of the events of yesterday, unless the president steps down as Pres. Nixon did, please know that I am in favor of  enacting section 4 of the 25th Amendment if enough agreement including from Vice president Pence can be procured.  If not, I am in agreement with Sen. Pelosi from California that articles of impeachment should be brought against the current president  a second time. Despite the tight timeframe and costs, I concur that he should be removed from office ASAP for the good of our nation, its traditions, and democratic norms.

Thank you for your ongoing work,
William Straub
Librarian