Politics Needlessly Ugly, Anti-Gay Statement Proves Point

There is every reason to have robust discussions about paying for broadband access, how to green our nation’s energy supplies, and what might be the best path forward when dealing with a rejuvenated Taliban. There are, and should be energized views and forceful presentations of those opinions.

That frothy nature of our dialogue has been the standard since we threw off King George III. And it is a healthy part of our republic.

But it is the most ridiculous and purposefully divisive rhetoric, far from the issues, that we too often hear that causes for the further polarizing of the nation.

Such was the case recently when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson mocked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for doing exactly what millions of other Americans do every year. The very same program that citizens desire and elected officials recognize as most prudent Carlson openly mocked.

Paternity leave.

Carlson who usually plays on the shallow end of the swimming pool could not contain himself over the idea that two male married parents were raising adopted children. He quipped that Pete and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, were “trying to figure out how to breastfeed.”

That surely made for guffaws around the nation for the low-brow who make a habit of watching such dribble on television. The anti-gay backslap was not lost on the ones who first read about it in news accounts.

The great social swing in this nation on a host of issues from racial accountability, gay marriage, transgender issues, women’s rights, and caring for refugees has left a swath of mostly rural caucasian Americans wondering what happened to their Archie Bunker world. No more smoking in a diner, slapping a waitress on the backside, and using racial slurs as a punchline.

This nation has made some fine and needed steps to structure much of the nation from our neighborhoods to the floors of the United States Senate to reflect our more rational side as a society. So, why then, do some national commentators and an entire ‘news’ network seem unaware that we are well into the 21st century?

I do not think there is a legitimate argument against paternity leave. The bonding between the child(ren) and parents has been proven to be most important in the early weeks of life. But even if someone wanted to play to the far side of the field on the issue why make an anti-gay slam as Carlson did?

What troubles Carlson, and others like him, is the normalcy that comes with gay marriage, gay parents raising children, and the seamless blending that has occurred in communities nationwide. All the wild-eyed lingo from the right-wing about gay rights folded like a wet house of cards.

But people like Tucker Carlson hold onto their prejudices like a raccoon to a late-night find in a garbage can. When they take those views public, however, and feed the base with them it continues to stunt the needed growth among that segment of the nation who keep falling farther behind the majority.

And so it goes.

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.

Anti-Vaxxer Vexations

I am truly tired of hearing the ‘woes’ and “hardships’ of those in the nation who complain about being subjected to vaccine and mask mandates. I have had my fill of hearing the ‘put upon’ who disdain science throwing public fits at restaurants and school board meetings.

While I much enjoy making election prognostications as balloting nears, I could never have predicted the complete breakdown in common-sense and reasoning as we have witnessed this year regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

I am not alone in being frustrated by the anti-vaxxers who have cheated the nation out of truly enjoying this summer, undermining the economy, and continuing the stress and fatigue of emergency room doctors and nurses.

This morning WGN radio news reported how deeply held the angst is over those who simply deny facts, and work to further the pandemic.

A new survey, commissioned by CoinStar, finds one in eight Americans plan on skipping holiday shopping for family and friends who do not share the same COVID-19 opinions as them.

These types of polls are not new.

A survey of 1,000 Americans – conducted by OnePoll on Sept. 2 – examined why people have ended friendships in the last year and a half. Results show 16 percent of respondents have axed three pals from their lives since the pandemic began in March 2020.

It does not take this blogger to state the obvious. There is just no reasoning with those blinded to the wisdom of the vaccine. There is no convincing anyone who has made their decision based on partisanship–and I have no way to wrap my mind around making a medical decision based on party politics. There is no way to move one towards reasoning when they are wedded to an odd and outlandish set of conspiracy theories.

Many of us over the past months of sunshine and warm breezes have expanded our activities from what took place in 2020. We visited others who were vaccinated, had cookouts, and relished seeing loved ones and friends not seen in person for over a year.

But in the same breath for many of us, this home included, we did not sit in a restaurant, attend movies, or congregate in anything that remotely resembled a crowd. For all those who follow medical professionals we have not spent much money in the local economy. That too, is something business owners can thank the anti-vaxxers for continuing.

Every reader to this little place on the internet highway fully knows the simple truth. The chaos, sickness, death, and economic cramping could have been avoided if all Americans eligible for the vaccine had simply acted with regard for their families and communities. Rather than allowing for logic and professionals to guide their actions the anti-vaxxers decided despicable politicians and angry talk show hosts on FAUX News should steer them.

Why follow scientists when there are so many lies and conspiracies to swallow?

I line up with all those others in the nation who are angry with the irresponsible ones who reject the fact that no one can dispute.

The vaccines are the best tool to fight the virus.

And so it goes.

Fitchburg Parents Need To Be Held Accountable For “Many Weapons Stored Haphazardly Around The House”

I strongly suspect we all took in a deep breath of air in sadness and shock when hearing the news of the shooting death of an 11-year-old child in Fitchburg. I just know many eyes welled up when the newscasts on television aired the sweet photo of Carolanah Schenk who died at a local hospital after the shooting.

No one needs this blogger to underscore the gravity of the shooting, or the sadness that envelops that family, the school where Carolanah and her 15 year-old-brother who was the shooter attended, or the larger community who also grieves over this latest act of gun violence.

I posted a pointed question on Twitter upon learning that a teenager had been involved with the gun.

How does a 15-year-old get their hands on a gun? The question should not seem quaint or silly, as we must stop being desensitized to gun violence and ask basic questions.

Saturday morning the Wisconsin State Journal reported in a front-page above-the-fold story the latest developments. It paints a picture that constitutes not only context to what happened in that Fitchburg home, but also shines a light on what is the case in too many homes where guns and children are in close proximity.

Assistant District Attorney John Rome said the shooting, which occurred around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment in the 5100 block of Curry Court in Fitchburg, happened after the boy believed he had emptied a gun of its ammunition. But a bullet was still in the chamber when the gun went off. The gun, Rome said, was a “ghost gun,” a gun with no serial number made largely from 3D-printed polymer parts.

Rome said the gun was being stored near a couch in the living room. The boy told police, Rome said, that he had removed the gun’s magazine and was putting the gun down on a table when it went off and struck his sister.

Police searched the apartment and noticed there were “many weapons stored haphazardly around the house,” Rome said. “Some of the guns were secured. Some were not.”

Rome asked that the boy remain in custody because he poses a risk of harm to others. He also questioned whether there was adequate supervision at home. He said police have found Snapchat photos of the boy posing with a gun, including on the day of the shooting, when a photo showed him “pointing a gun that looks realistic at the victim’s head while she was asleep.”

This is not the first time, and sadly not the last, when I will need to post about how children get deadly weapons to ‘play with’ or use to shoot something or someone.

But there is another hard truth that must be addressed.

This blog has repeatedly stated that parents of young people who use guns to shoot, kill, and create violence need to be held accountable. There is no way that any sane person can say parental/adult actions, such as with this shooting, should not be addressed by a law that makes sure there is a responsibility shared by those who help to foster the violent outcomes.

The NRA has plenty of responsibility for the number of guns in our society, and the ease with which anyone can get a deadly weapon.  But when it comes to children with guns there also has to be a question asked…..are the parent(s) or adults making sure all deadly guns in the home are locked up?

At the end of the day maybe this is just another indicator that America is indeed in decline. Because if we can not control gun violence in our own homes we are certainly not going to be able to deal with other larger and more complex matters that face our country.

And so it goes.

Another View Of Pandemic: Did It Open New Doors Of Discovery?

Today I had a most interesting conversation with a young man who jogs by our home most afternoons. He often stops to chat after his 4-mile run, and since in the late afternoon I often find time to read a chapter of two he asks about the topic of the day. We have had some great chats.

This afternoon he recommend “The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America”.

But what really struck me today was his views about how many perceive the pandemic to have made our lives seem smaller and more contained, when in reality they might have actually become broader. Since people had more time to be at home and find alternate ways to spend leisure hours they might have started mastering a new language, expanded cooking skills, or even started a wood-working project.

He mentioned that some data shows people believe, in light of their new-found interests and skills, the pandemic has made them a better person.

I mentioned that over the past year some college courses were available for online learning, and museums had put guided tours online for virtual tours. I had read that with computer card games one might play and meet a friend on the other side of the world.

Tonight his conversation has me thinking about what I had done to mitigate the impact of having life up-ended from the virus. I sought out new authors…..ones I had not read before though they may have published their work, as in some cases, decades ago. I did not venture for new skills or ways to make the ultimate stir-fry. But I did find ways to spend a lot of time.

Though I had heard of the following authors over the years, I had never stopped to pick up one of their works. All of them fit into my interests and comfort zone and now are counted on my shelves as strong recommendations for others seeking something new. I have deeply waded into the authors below who have created a series of books.

I am most pleased to have opened each treasure.

Bill Kristol Interesting Man, But Needs Order On Bookshelves

Over the past 18 months of this pandemic, we all have watched many media personalities conduct interviews from their homes. As such, we have been able to glimpse a part of the inside world of these men and women.

I have much enjoyed seeing what books are on the shelves of news reporters, politicos, and talking heads. I find that PBS’ Judy Woodruff has many of the same books to be found on my shelves. In fact, no one else over the past months comes closer to that count than does the NewsHour anchor.

While I truly like to learn the reading habits of others I would be less than honest to say I also note the way in which people display their books, and bring order to their shelves. I have seen some ‘fronting’ their books, others with books and pictures and the like interspersed on the shelves. Some have the books pushed all the way to the back of the shelves. Some align the bindings to the edge of the shelf, in other words, giving the books the full OCD treatment.

This brings me to the one person, who throughout the pandemic, has never once considered how his shelves appear to the public watching him speak.

I enjoy hearing from Bill Kristol. He is smart and well-rounded as a person. While not always agreeing with him I find myself usually learning something from him. I am sure, however, I could listen more intently to his views if not for the chaos that lines the shelves behind him.

Twenty minutes in his home, along with a dust rag and order would be established on the shelves. Instead, it appears he just plunks items on the shelves, shoving them in, lodging them here and there.

I am not without awareness that some of the greatest minds are best served by clutter. Without a doubt, my favorite conservative thinker, writer, and speaker is Bill Buckley, Jr. His office was always intensely messy, nothing ever piled with four neat corners showing.

I know of very few people on television that could ever match his intellectual power.  While his political point of view was often in sharp contrast to mine I was never able to stop listening to the way he spoke.  Even years later, in the occasional interview on television, I would be drawn to his slightly elitist charm and world-class intelligence.

I was in awe that someone could have such a rich and diverse vocabulary.  And use all the words in such a way that the ordinary sentence was almost poetry.  While listening to his program, Firing Line, I would learn new words for my own usage.  When was the last time anyone said that about a television program? 

But really, would it not be better if all those books were properly placed?

And so it goes.

Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon Brought Nation Together

This weekend we need a good memory.  A memory that is based on when we came together as a country.

I strongly suspect that many Americans still recall with fondness, Jerry Lewis, one of the biggest-hearted and dare I say one of the funniest men in this nation when he hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

Most people admire Jerry Lewis, and applaud what he did for ‘his kids’.  God love him!

As a teenager, I watched several hours on Sunday night and then as the family planned for the cookout the set would be on and turned up to be heard throughout the house.  There was always a bustle of excitement when tote board numbers would change and Lewis would add his charm and wit to the higher cash totals that had been generated from his tireless work.  In my high school years, I would call and donate ten dollars and urge my classmates to do the same.  Several years my plea was reported on the local coverage.

America was one big community filling the boots of firefighters with money, people heading to the local TV affiliates to add their cash to the canisters, but most important of all just picking up the phone and making a pledge to help someone else.   While everyone was trying to make a difference for the cause, I always felt this was one of those times when we were all just a bit more united, a bit more of a family, a bit more of the type of people we really want to be as a nation.

Jerry Lewis was doing a telethon for a disease, but the effect had far larger and deeper ramifications.

Manzoor Returns For Another Blog Post

I am very delighted to have the opportunity to again blog about a person who continues to make for smiles.

Manzoor, is a friend from Pakistan. He, along with Ferit from Turkey, years back discovered at our dinner table how some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are served and tasted. They both were in Madison at the time and studying as international students. That meal, and the conversation that evening, is a continuing reason to smile.  

Today I post a video of Meher Zadi, Manzoor’s wife, while in an orchard in Hunza Valley which is laden with summer fruits such and Hunza apricots, different wild berries like feltz, figs, and a variety of Hunza apples. A morning walk to the garden or nearest orchard offers a healthy breakfast with breathtaking views.

Zadi has a web site that deals with cooking in the Hunza Province of Pakistan.