Thursday, January 31, 2008

Right-wing GOP thinking with wrong head

Now that John McCain is picking up steam in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination it also seems that the party's far right is stepping up its attacks on the Arizona senator.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

What if McCain wins the nomination? Who are they going to vote for? Hillary? Obama?

Hardly. (I mean McCain's American Conservative Union ranking is ten times better than Obama's!)

These wackos need to ask -- seriously ask -- themselves who stands a better shot against Obama or Hillary in November. Then they ought to remember Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment.

Stop the presses! Bill gets some stones.

Check this out. Next thing you know it'll be Huckabee-Clinton.

Soglin hasn't lost his hippie stripes

Paul Soglin, Madison's former hippie mayor, hasn't lost his stripes although he qualified for his AARP card long before I did. I was kind of surprised that he didn't back Hillary but then, wait, Obama was against the war earlier.

Guest commentary: McCain -- The guy Democrats fear and right-wingers hate to love

by Dick Meyer

The Republican knock on John McCain is that he is a Republican beloved only by Democrats and reporters. The Democratic knock on McCain is that he is the Republican they would least like to face in the fall. Those aren’t hard knocks for McCain to take right now.

Republican primary voters seem to be finding ways to vote for him. As they come to believe he is the candidate Democrats fear most, they'll probably find it even easier to vote for him in the coming primaries. And John McCain will be the nominee of the party he invited himself to so rudely.

The perennial McCain-haters in the party’s pseudo-establishment and right wings might cry in their milk if McCain is the nominee. But they’ll be joined by Democrats of all wings.

A McCain nomination would provide many amusing ironies. The one that would be most vexing for the disorganized assemblage known as the Democratic Party is this: the 2008 Republican primaries have been uniquely un-Republican - lacking an early front-runner, unpredictable and divisive - yet they produced the party’s strongest possible general election candidate. The irony for Republicans is that the mischievous, anti-authoritarian party gadfly they thought they had offed in the summer of ’07 might save their elephant hide in the fall of ’08.

Intra-party popularity can be overrated. Many Democrats were downright embarrassed by Jimmy Carter in 1976. Many Republicans - especially those endangered creatures once called “moderate Republicans” - were mortified by Ronald Reagan in 1980. And Democrats were freshly disenchanted with Gennifer Flowers’ lover boy in 1992. You get the idea.

Democrats would prefer not to run against McCain because of his well-known appeal to independents. You wouldn’t know it from listening to cable news, but roughly a third of the American electorate is independent (32 percent in the latest CBS poll).

America isn’t red and blue. And these independent voters, oddly enough, are the ones who tend to be open-minded. Attracting them in a general election is a good thing if you’re interested in victory. (Traditionally, Republicans are rather more interested in victory than Democrats).

In New Hampshire, for example, a jumbo 44 percent of the voters in the Democratic primary called themselves independents. In the Republican primary, 37 percent were independents and 40 percent of that crowd went for John McCain. Four national surveys this month have polled to see how John McCain and Hillary Clinton would run against each other. McCain won in three of the four polls. In polls pitting her against Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani (three polls each), Clinton won every time. (McCain batted only .500 in the four match-ups with Barack Obama, who also appeals to independents.)

Horserace polls so far ahead of the election mean very little but they do illuminate why Democrats aren’t as happy as they might otherwise be. After all, Democrats, the polls say, like their candidates very much. Their top two candidates are well-funded. They have had a consistent front-runner and she dramatically fought off a challenger in New Hampshire and appears strong going in to Super Tuesday. The economic news keeps getting worse, which is ordinarily disastrous for the incumbent party. And the war in Iraq, which McCain has consistently and adamantly backed, keeps going and Americans keep dying there.

Democrats should be happy but they aren’t. Democrats aren’t happy because of John McCain. Republicans aren’t happy because of John McCain. I expect Republicans will change their minds long before the Democrats.

Governator jumps on McCain train

Another big endorsement for John McCain as he tries to consolidate his support toward the Republican nomination.

McCain, who won the blessing Wednesday of Rudy Giuliani, was endorsed this afternoon by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, the biggest prize on Super Tuesday with 173 delegates.

"I'm interested in a great future," Schwarzenegger said, flanked by McCain and Giuliani at a Los Angeles solar energy company. "Senator McCain has proven over and over again he can reach across the aisle to get things done....He's a great American hero and an extraordinary leader."

Schwarzenegger praised McCain's credentials on national security, his crusade against wasteful spending, and his advocacy of action on climate change. "This is the future. The future is clean technology," the governor said.

I can't help but grin when I think of the possibility of a McCain-Schwarzenegger ticket with Sylvester Stallone as Secretary of Defense and Bruce Willis as National Security Advisor.

Archdiocese of Milwaukee at financial crossroads

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee faces a $3 million deficit in its current budget and will need to make cuts in staff and services during the fiscal year starting July 1, in part because a deal to sell the Cousins Center fell through.

Money from that sale of the 44-acre site in suburban St. Francis was to have been used to pay off a loan the archdiocese incurred to cover about $4.6 million of its $8.25 million portion of a nearly $17 million settlement of 10 sexual abuse lawsuits in California in 2006.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolanto priests, employees and volunteer leaders at parishes and schools this week to inform them court documents were being released in California on one clergy sexual abuse case, and sexual abuse lawsuits filed by seven people against the archdiocese were moving ahead in Milwaukee County courts as a result of a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision last year. If the archdiocese takes too hard a hit the end result could be bankruptcy.

I feel for Archbishop Dolan. He came into a messy situation and has worked nonstop to clean it up. To establish trust he opened up church financial records and has been an inexhaustible pitchman to support parishes and schools. If he wasn't a bishop, I suspect he'd been in huge demand as a public relations consultant.

But some messes don't clean up easily or well and this could be one of them. I have had my doubts about the wisdom of the archdiocesan capital campaign at a time when many parishes and parishioners are struggling to make ends meet. When one talks of stewardship, we must also remember that Dolan's predecessors may not have been good stewards of church resources by not intervening sooner and more effectively to stop clergy sexual abuse. The price for such inaction is being paid today and will be paid well into the future.

The KRM fleece: Steve Lund and the Kenosha News don't get it

Kenosha News editorial guru Steve Lund and his newspaper simply don't get it when it comes to the proposed Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail boondoggle.

Lund has been a KRM booster no matter what the cost, previously arguing that a $13 rental car surcharge would be a "painless" way to fund KRM (ignoring the dubious link between rental cars and commuter rail service) and today suggesting a sales tax increase. (Sometimes I wonder if the Kenosha News has ever opposed a tax increase!)

But the most difficult part of this is that the Kenosha News of today ought to check out its own "morgue" (newspaper-speak for its library of past articles). The history is fascinating.

The Kenosha Evening News (as it was called then) carried a prophetic editorial in 1963 when the old North Shore electric interurban service between Chicago and Milwaukee was abandoned. Then Editor Lee Hancock, who rarely wrote an editorial on a local subject, predicted we'd rue the day the North Shore folded.

The end of North Shore service wasn't exactly the death knell for passenger rail service in Kenosha and Racine as the Chicago and North Western ran frequent commuter service between Kenosha and Chicago and several high speed passenger trains to and from Milwaukee.

But things changed in 1971 when Amtrak took over noncommuter passenger rail service. Gone overnight was the North Western's service to and from Milwaukee (and the double track north of Kenosha was later reduced to a single track). Commuter service to and from Chicago remained (as it does today) and Amtrak service from Chicago to Milwaukee was routed over the Milwaukee Road tracks with stops at Glenview and Sturtevant.

The Kenosha News reported that former Congressman Les Aspin wisely proposed that Amtrak service be routed on the North Western tracks but that never came to fruition. In hindsight that was the fulfillment of Lee Hancock's prediction although the Kenosha News these days seems to have forgotten that.

Not much else was said about passenger rail service until 1990 when Dairyland Greyhound Park promised to build a Kenosha Amtrak station. That promise was never kept. The Kenosha News reported on it back then but seems to have forgotten that broken promise now.

That broken promise is not a trivial matter because it could be the key to resolving the KRM controversy.

Where's the Kenosha Amtrak station?

How soon we forget.

When Harold Ripps and his cronies were wooing the State Racing Board to get the license for Dairyland Greyhound Park, one of their many promises (and one of their many unfulfilled ones) was to build an Amtrak station. It never happened.

Now the poobahs want to spend big bucks to build a new rail line on the Union Pacific (Chicago and North Western) tracks north to Milwaukee. That line was double tracked north of Kenosha until Amtrak rolled around in 1971 and the North Western cut out northbound passenger service.

Congressman Aspin wisely proposed that Amtrak follow the lakeshore on the North Western tracks but that idea never went anywhere. Instead, Amtrak kept rolling along on the 79 mph Milwaukee Road right of way into and out of Milwaukee. (In 1990 Aspin supoported a Kenosha Amtrak stop as proposed by Dairyland's owners.)

Since that time, however, two new Amtrak stations have opened in the last couple years: Sturtevant and Mitchell Field. Thus it only makes sense that Kenosha finally get its Amtrak station -- and the Dairyland people be held to their promise to build it.

But Lund and the Kenosha News seem to have forgotten this history nor have they done their other homework on existing rail service.

Right now there are seven daily round-trip Amtrak Hiawatha service trains running each way between Chicago and Milwaukee (six each way on Sundays) funded primarily by the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. These trains travel on high-speed tracks (unlike the slow-poke Metra service). The run from Milwaukee to Chicago (or vice versa) is 89 minutes -- less than it takes Metra to make its run between Chicago and Kenosha.

The truth is KRM, as proposed, isn't necessary.

Wisconsin already helps fund Amtrak service from Chicago to Glenview, Sturtevant, Mitchell Field and downtown Milwaukee. All we need is a Kenosha station -- which Dairyland Greyhound Park promised to build -- and connecting bus service.

The other fallacy of KRM is that it's a downtown-to-downtown rail service.

People need to get to their jobs and those jobs are increasingly not downtown. In Kenosha's case, 30% of our county's workforce commutes to jobs in Illinois. More people work in Cook County, Illinois than in Milwaukee County. For Kenoshans, KRM is a waste.

This doesn't mean commuter rail service shouldn't be considered. It makes no sense, though, to ante up for downtown-to-downtown KRM. It does make sense to force Dairyland Greyhold Park to make good on the promised Kenosha Amtrak station and to provide connecting bus service.

Further, KRM doesn't address Milwaukee's biggest commuter issue and that's serving the western and northern suburbs which haven't had any rail service in decades. The KRM fix is simple and cheap. The Kenosha News should be asking why there's no push for light rail service where it's really needed and why Kenosha and Racine taxpayers are being asked to shoulder Milwaukee's burden.

I know Kenosha News editor Craig Swanson reads this blog and so, Craig, I'm inviting you to respond. Lee Hancock was right about the aftermath of the North Shore's demise but KRM, as presently proposed, is the wrong solution.

Guest commentary: The case for Sen. John McCain

from the Minnesota Daily (University of Minnesota student newspaper)

Sen. John McCain's campaign bus, formerly known as the Straight Talk Express, isn't called that any longer.

Earlier this year when McCain was buried in the polls, out of money and asked by reporters at nearly every stop when he would drop out, the side of the bus was emblazoned with the words "No Surrender."

At the time, it seemed little more than a stubborn addition to the 71-year-old's quixotic campaign for president, which tilted at the windmills of both his party and public opinion and appeared most at home as underdog lashed to a losing cause.

We do not agree with McCain on a number of issues, include his wish to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, opposing any government-mandated or government-organized health care and opposing abortion rights. But, on other equally important issues, he has distinguished himself as the best choice in the Republican field. These issues include his ongoing support for stem-cell research, his belief that the government has a role in addressing global warming, and, to the undying anger of his party, his support for campaign finance reform.

On immigration, he has supported comprehensive reform and argued for compassion when the nativists within his own party have called for a war of attrition against illegal immigrants. This principled stand came with a cost, and nearly knocked him out of the race until his resurgence. Meanwhile, some of his less scrupulous opponents, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have pandered to every group imaginable, even promising to double the size of the Guantánamo Bay prison. McCain, who knows something about prison camps and torture, has called for it to be shut down, and for "enhanced interrogation" to be ended forever.

While we believe the war in Iraq has been a colossal mistake, McCain's criticism of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's strategy was early and correct, and McCain acknowledges the hard truth that it isn't in the United States' or Iraq's best interest to withdraw precipitously, leaving the country to chaos and likely genocide.

We are confident that if elected, McCain would be a president for all Americans and, though we do not agree with all his policies, he would be a great deal better than our current president.

Legislature's smoke and sleaze enough to make us cough and wheeze

The state Senate is stalling legislation to toughen Wisconsin's Clean Indoor Air Act because corrupt lawmakers are taking marching orders from the Wisconsin Tavern League as aptly noted in this editorial from today's Kenosha News.

The Kenosha News (which has long been a supporter of clean indoor air) nails it on the head here. They only overlooked one thing: the greasing of the legislature.

The Tavern League and tavern owners contributed $294,745 to current legislators from 2003 through 2006.

Senator Breske accepted $15,674 from tavern owners from 2003 through 2006, more than any other legislator. Second to Breske for tavern industry contributions among legislative Democrats for the period is Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker at $10,850.

Of course, if the legislation ever makes it out of the senate, over in the Assembly the majority Republicans caucus collected $132,845 in contributions from tavern owners from 2003 through 2006 - far more than any of the other three caucuses.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Florida shows the "youth vote" isn't the only vote

The National Review has an excellent analysis of how John McCain capitalized on the senior vote to help win the Florida Republican primary. The article by Peter Schweitzer also suggests some voters are concerned that Mitt Romney is little more than an elitist "CINO" (conservative in name only). Good reading.

Guest commentary: Right On McCain: McCain's conservative record is excellent

by Sen. Jon Lyl (R.-Ariz.)

I have had the distinct pleasure of serving with Senator John McCain for the last 12 years in the U.S. Senate. Yet just as important to me as our shared years of service is our common respect for the conservative principles that have guided us in representing our state. That is why the characterization of John McCain as something other than a common-sense conservative is disturbing to me. Senator McCain’s detractors overlook his actual voting record of supporting conservative values.

During my time in the Senate with John McCain, we have cast the same vote nearly nine times out of ten. Whether in our efforts against inefficiency and waste in the federal budget, confronting the threat we face from international terrorism, protecting the sanctity of human life, or some other issue, Senator McCain has been loyal to, and a leader for, conservative beliefs.

Senator McCain is well known for his long history of protecting the interests of the American taxpayer. He is without question the best choice for voters opposed to wasteful Washington spending and bloated budgets. Last year, Senator McCain introduced the Pork-Barrel Reduction Act, a bill focused on transparency and fiscal restraint.

In 2005, Senator McCain and I were two of the four senators to vote against the pork-laden highway bill. During the 109th Congress, Citizens Against Government Waste gave McCain a 91 percent rating, and Pork Busters, a collaboration of fiscal-watchdog groups, labeled him as an “Anti-Pork Hero” in 2006. Conservatives should be outraged about the wasteful spending in Washington, and they should be exacting in their demand for a culture of fiscal restraint. John McCain meets this demand.

On the ever-important issue of life, Senator McCain has a record of voting for pro-life legislation: He has voted for bans on partial birth abortion; he has supported the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” and parental notification for minors; and he has voted against using federal money to distribute morning-after contraception in schools. He has repeatedly co-sponsored the Child Custody Protection Act, which prohibits the transportation of minors across state lines in order to circumvent state laws, requiring instead the involvement of parents in abortion decisions.

What do pro-abortion groups think of Senator McCain? NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood have both given him zero percent, no-confidence ratings because he has stood up against them for decades. John McCain’s opposition to abortion has been consistent.

Senator McCain also strongly believes in the institution of marriage. He voted for and supported the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of gay marriage and same-sex partner benefits. Senator McCain endorsed and campaigned for an initiative to amend the Arizona constitution to define marriage as between one man and woman.

The defining issue for any candidate who seeks the presidency next year will be that person’s vision for conducting the war against terrorists and our mission in Iraq; there is no one stronger on this issue, or with more credibility, than John McCain.His support for a safe and secure Middle East is well documented. And Senator McCain’s belief in the relationship between our eventual success in that region and our safety at home is one that I share.

Most conservatives believe in aggressive pursuit of terrorists and jihadists. But John McCain has been willing to put his political career on the line for the sake of his belief that these terrorists must be defeated. As the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain has long been an outspoken critic of the management of the war, and there is plenty to criticize on that score.

But Senator McCain has also been stronger than all others in his belief in the absolute importance of victory and in his own principled dedication to seeking peace and security over the political expediency of defeatism. Conservatives who believe deeply in the responsibility to defend our country know that no leadership trait is more vital to our next president. More than any other reason, this is why conservatives should support John McCain.

n matters of national security, he instinctively understands threats to the United States, and he knows what needs to be done about them. Even in the face of political adversity, he is unwavering in his commitment to America’s security.

Obama: A crass act (just like his party)

Not only does rookie Illinois Senator Barack Obama lack the experience to be president, he demonstrated extreme crassness in the wake of the Florida primary vote which was overwhelmingly (50%) in favor of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama's campaign today blew off the Florida voters, calling the results "meaningless."

Wow. What a way to ingratiate yourself to Florida voters.

The Obama team is obviously referring to the Democratic National Committee which refuses to recognize the results of the Florida primary because it was held before Feb. 5. Same thing for Michigan which means that the DNC won't recognize delegations from those two states.

The problem is that the DNC permitted delegates from four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) chosen before Feb. 5 so there's an utter lack of consistency here. But then we should remember that the DNC also attacked Wisconsin's "open" presidential primary.

The dysfunction between democracy and the Democratic party may come to a head at the party's August convention in Denver when some Democrats with enough smarts to figure out there's a problem here will undoubtedly attempt to seat the Florida and Michigan delagations.

Telling Florida and Michigan voters their votes are "meaningless" is a crass act which is just what you expect from Obama and the Democrats. It's also stupid because in November these votes won't be meaningless and voters are perfectly free to choose a candidate who didn't insult them.

By the way, blogger Kathy Carpenter aptly congratulated Senator Clinton for being in Florida last night to thank voters as opposed to Obama who blew off the state.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain's train gaining steam

Arizona Senator John McCain scored a major win tonight by edging Mitt Romney in the Florida Republican primary. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani came in a distant third and is said to be ready to pull out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination and endorse McCain.

I'm not sure how that will sit with some archconservative Republicans whose disdain for Guiliani may exceed their lack of fondness for McCain. Time will tell.

Maybe it's time for McCain and Mitt Romney to pow-wow on how they can comply with Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment not to bum rap a fellow Republican. Regardless of who is the nominee, he's going to need the loser.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fact check: McCain's prolife voting record

There's been some confusion concerning Arizona Senator John McCain's prolife voting record.

Well, the best source is often your enemy, so the National Association for the Reform of Abortion Laws is the best place to turn. The pro-choice NARAL rates McCain a solid zero per cent on pro-choice issues. Check out their 14 page analysis here.

By the way, both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are rated 100% pro-choice by NARAL.

Case closed.

Archbishop Burke should get a life

Raymond Burke, the right-wing Archbishop of St. Louis, has his undies in a bundle because Rick Majerus, St. Louis University's basketball coach, made comments favoring abortion rights in an off-campus campaign appearance with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton where Majerus was interviewed by a local television station.

"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic church."

The archbishop declined to offer specifics of what discipline Majerus, a former Marquette University basketball coach, should face.

"I'm confident it (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," he said.

St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, apparently isn't taking Burke's bait. A spokesman for the university, Jeff Fowler, said Majerus' comments were not related to his role at the university.

"Rick's comments were his own personal view. They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative," Fowler said. "

It was his own personal visit to the rally. The comments were his, he was not speaking for the university," he added.

The university won a legal victory in a public financing case last year when the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed that it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.

While I think Burke is out of line in calling for Majerus to be disciplined by the university, I appreciate the underlying concern he voiced.

Nonetheless, universities -- including Catholic ones -- would be poorer places if academic freedom was suppressed.

At the end of the day, though, Burke needs to get a life. Rick Majerus is a basketball coach, not a theologian. Who cares what he thinks about abortion rights? (And why did the television interviewer even ask?)

Why Obama could win

Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is picking up steam, thanks to a trouncing of Hillary Rodham Clinton in South Carolina and an endorsement from Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy.

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," Caroline Kennedy wrote in an commentary for the New York Times.

"But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

Kennedy wrote that Obama "has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things."

And she appealed to other parents to pick a candidate who she said could invigorate a younger generation that is too often "hopeless, defeated and disengaged."

Kennedy wrote that she wants a president "who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved."

She's onto something.

A friend called my attention to the people surrounding Senator Clinton -- old stalwards of Bill's administration such as Madeleine Albright. They skewed old was the message and it's apt.

If Obama can envigorate the youth and black vote, he may well be unstoppable despite his paucity of experience.

This poses a real interesting dilemma for Republicans because the polls show that the best chance for wooing independent voters happens to rest with the oldest candidate, Senator John McCain. An interesting paradox.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

You could have fooled me!

A Vatican official says Pope Benedict XVI doesn't want to roll back the modernizing liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The pope last year removed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, a rite that was all but swept away by the Second Vatican Council.
But Monsignor Guido Marini told Vatican radio that Benedict only wants to maintain continuity with Roman Catholic tradition.
"This may also require, in some cases, the recovery of precious and important elements that along the way have been lost or forgotten," Marini said in a Jan. 19 interview.
On Jan. 13, the pontiff celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel using the original main altar, facing away from worshippers during parts of the prayer. Under the modernizing reforms, clergy generally celebrate Mass facing the altar.
Marini said special conditions of the church allowed the stance, which he said was in line with Vatican II, according to Catholic News Service.

Is the Hillary train derailing?

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton could be excused if she took Sunday off to nurse a headache.

The Democratic presidential hopeful got another setback in the quest for her party's nomination when rookie Senator Barack Obama of Illinois garnered 55% of the South Carolina primary vote. Clinton only scored 27%.

The increasingly feisty Mrs. Clinton got a taste of her own medicine as a Friday USA Today editorial suggested that using her husband as her attack dog is wearing thin and giving voters more reason to question his role should she get elected president.

And today Caroline Kennedy called Obama "a president like my father."

Even hippie-mayor-turned-blogger Paul Soglin chastised Mrs. Clinton for acting like she has a right to the nomination.

Paul's right even though I agree that Obama isn't qualified at this time to be president.

But then if they gave a test for the job, Dick Lugar would have been president a long time ago.

Remember Appalachian State?

Last fall Appalachian State, the NCAA Division I-AA champs, paid a little visit to the Big House in Ann Arbor where the Michigan Wolverines were supposed to clean up the "cupcake team."

The Mountaineers never got that memo and instead humiliated Michigan 34-32 in one of the most celebrated upsets in college football history.

Of course Michigan won't be inviting Appalachian State back (which is too bad since a rematch would be a hoot).

Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to update you on the two teams.

Big Ten Michigan went 9-4 last year, ending it with a 41-35 win over Florida in the Capital One Bowl.

And the Mountaineers? They won their third straight NCAA Division I-AA championship, capping a 13-2 season. Plus, five Mountaineer football players were among 27 Appalachian State athletes named to the Southern Conference's Academic All-Conference Team.

Since the Wolverines won't invite them back to the Big House, maybe Appalachian State should invite Michigan for a beautiful fall Saturday in Boone, N.C.

The new Miss America is...

Miss Michigan, Kirsten Haglund!

Miss Wisconsin -- Pleasant Prairie's Christina Thompson -- was one of the eight finalists. Although she didn't get the crown in Las Vegas, she did have her cheering section there according to this blog from the Las Vegas Sun.

Fingers crossed for Miss Wisconsin

Pleasant Prairie's own Christina Thompson, Miss Wisconsin, is reported to be one of the eight finalists in tonight's Miss America pageant in Las Vegas.

I say "reportedly" because here in the hamlet of Gardiner, Montana TLC is not available so I'm unable to watch.

Christina is an accomplished violinist. Check out her performance on Greey Bay television:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaL09eFeViU

Good luck Christina!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

With friends like the New York Times, Rudy needs no enemies

We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.

Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.

We have shuddered at Mr. McCain’s occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle. He was an early advocate for battling global warming and risked his presidential bid to uphold fundamental American values in the immigration debate. A genuine war hero among Republicans who proclaim their zeal to be commander in chief, Mr. McCain argues passionately that a country’s treatment of prisoners in the worst of times says a great deal about its character.

Why, as a New York-based paper, are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? Why not choose the man we endorsed for re-election in 1997 after a first term in which he showed that a dirty, dangerous, supposedly ungovernable city could become clean, safe and orderly? What about the man who stood fast on Sept. 11, when others, including President Bush, went AWOL?

That man is not running for president.

The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square.

Mr. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking. When he claims fiscal prudence, we remember how he ran through surpluses without a thought to the inevitable downturn and bequeathed huge deficits to his successor. He fired Police Commissioner William Bratton, the architect of the drop in crime, because he couldn’t share the limelight. He later gave the job to Bernard Kerik, who has now been indicted on fraud and corruption charges.

The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city’s and the country’s nightmare to promote his presidential campaign.

The other candidates offer no better choices.

Mitt Romney’s shape-shifting rivals that of Mr. Giuliani. It is hard to find an issue on which he has not repositioned himself to the right since he was governor of Massachusetts. It is impossible to figure out where he stands or where he would lead the country.

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is an affable, reassuring Baptist minister who talks about a softer Christian conservativism. His policies tell the real story. To attract Republican primary voters, he has become an anti-immigrant absolutist. His insertion of religion into the race, herding Mr. Romney into a defense of his beliefs, disqualified him for the Oval Office.

Mr. McCain was one of the first prominent Republicans to point out how badly the war in Iraq was being managed. We wish he could now see as clearly past the temporary victories produced by Mr. Bush’s unsustainable escalation, which have not led to any change in Iraq’s murderous political calculus. At the least, he owes Americans a real idea of how he would win this war, which he says he can do. We disagree on issues like reproductive rights and gay marriage.

In 2006, however, Mr. McCain stood up for the humane treatment of prisoners and for a ban on torture. We said then that he was being conned by Mr. Bush, who had no intention of following the rules. But Mr. McCain took a stand, just as he did in recognizing the threat of global warming early. He has been a staunch advocate of campaign finance reform, working with Senator Russ Feingold, among the most liberal of Democrats, on groundbreaking legislation, just as he worked with Senator Edward Kennedy on immigration reform.

That doesn’t make him a moderate, but it makes him the best choice for the party’s presidential nomination.

Can today's candidates measure up?

Excerpted (warts and all) from a 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign brochure
Barry Goldwater is troubled by attempts to change our form of government - and is resolved to maintain the historical balance of our Republic.

GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY

"Our tendency to concentrate power in the hands of a few men deeply concerns me. We can be conquered by bombs or by subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect - by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government.

"I am convinced that most Americans now want to reverse the trend. I think that concern for our vanishing freedoms is genuine. I think that the people"s uneasiness in the stifling omnipresence of government has turned into something approaching alarm. But bemoaning the evil will not drive it back, and accusing fingers will not shrink government."

STATES RIGHTS

Barry Goldwater knows that government to be responsive must be close to the people.

"There is a reason for (the Constitution’s) reservation of "States" Rights.

Not only does it prevent the accumulation of power in a central government that is remote from the people and relatively immune from popular restraints; it also recognizes the principle that essentially local problems are best dealt with by the people most directly concerned. Who knows better than New Yorkers how much and what kind of publicly financed slum clearance in New York City is needed and can be afforded? Who knows better than Nebraskans whether that State has an adequate nursing program? Who knows better than Arizonans the kind of school program that is needed to educate their children?

"The people have long since seen through the spurious suggestion that federal aid comes free. They know that the money comes out of their own pockets, and that it is returned to them minus a broker’s fee taken by the federal bureaucracy. They know, too, that the power to decide how that money shall be spent is withdrawn from them and exercised by some planning board deep in the caverns of one of the federal agencies. They understand this represents a great and perhaps irreparable loss-not only in their wealth, but in their priceless liberty."

CIVIL RIGHTS

Barry Goldwater wants equal treatment for all Americans, but preferential treatment for none.

"The right to vote, to equal treatment before the law, to hold property, and to the protection of contracts are clearly guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. These rights should be rigorously enforced. Existing law demands it.

"In the schools, the Attorney General already has the authority through court decrees to effect integration. But if more authority must be granted, we should write a law that is tightly drawn, that can be used like a rifle, not a shotgun.

"As for the proposed public accommodations law, it is unconstitutional and a clear example of a new law which will only hinder, not help the cause of racial tolerance. Such a law could even open the door to a police-state system of enforcement that would eventually threaten the liberty of us all.

"No matter how we try, we cannot pass a law that will make you like me or me like you. The key to racial and religious tolerance lies not in laws alone but, ultimately, in the hearts of men."
He is a staunch defender of personal freedom and the rights of every individual.

"Unenforceable government edicts benefit no one. Continued public attention and moral persuasion, I believe, will do more, in the long run to create the good will necessary to the acceptance of decent racial relations in all segments of our society.

"Our people must not be herded into the streets for the redress of their grievances. We have better ways, more lasting and more honest ways."

LABOR

Barry Goldwater is not afraid to challenge vested interests, either in management or labor. He has challenged "bossism" everywhere.

"The labor movement was born out of the threat of the loss of freedom through excesses of overbearing business monopolies. It has served well to bring the pendulum back from the extreme. I believe that unionism, in its proper sphere, accomplishes a positive good for the country.

"But the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction and we we faced, as a people, with the stern obligation to halt a menacing misappropriation of power before it completely engulfs the liberties of labor, management and the general public."

SOCIAL SECURITY

Barry Goldwater wants to safeguard the "security" in Social Security.

I favor a sound Social Security system and I want to see it strengthened. I want to see every participant receive all the benefits this system provides. And I want to see these benefits paid in dollars with real purchasing power.

"Social Security is a system of basic protection for the aged. In addition, most Americans now participate in private pension plans while many have their own savings and investments Social Security was never intended to replace these voluntary programs. Its prime purpose was and is to supplement them, to provide a basic floor. I am convinced it can do this job, the job for which it was created.

"Essentially, protection against need in America depends upon a free economy which produces an ever-growing abundance and an ever-greater opportunity for all. In this framework, I believe Social Security has a vital and legitimate supporting role."

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

Barry Goldwater believes that the first fiscal responsibility of the Federal Government is to preserve the value of the dollar.

"Government must do everything within its power to guarantee a sound dollar. It can do this by reasonable budgets, by living within the means of the people who pay the bills, and by encouraging the individual enterprise from which the real value of money is formed.
"We need clearly stated and clearly understood priorities for national programs. We cannot do everything at once and there are many things the Federal Government should not try to do. Local governments must take on more and not, less responsibility in meeting needs when those needs are fully established."

He will trim unnecessary and unwarranted Federal spending.

"Let us, by all means, remember the nation's interest in reducing taxes and spending. The need for economic growth that we hear so much about these days will be achieved, not by the government harnessing the nation"s economic forces but by emancipating them. By reducing taxes and spending we will not only return to the individual the means with which he can assert his freedom and dignity, but also guarantee to the nation the economic strength that will always be its ultimate defense against foreign foes."

THE WELFARE STATE

Barry Goldwater has issued a clear call to halt the relentless drift toward the welfare state.

"We, the people, can change all of this. We can unite. We can reject appeasement. We can deny self-indulgence. We can restrain our pressure groups from seeking special privilege favors at the expense of the general public taxpayer.

"We can meet our obligations and not postpone the debt payment and place that burden on the next generation. We can do all of these things, for the people of America are strong, capable and courageous.

"To do these things, to restore the flaming beacon of freedom and opportunity which for so many generations enjoyed the admiration and affection of all the peoples of this earth, we must make our voices heard in the election of those who are to represent us in the governing bodies of this republic.

"We must elect uncommon men to do an uncommon job for an uncommon country."

LEADERSHIP AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

Goldwater has asked all of us to dedicate ourselves to the American dream.

"I understand what the people of America are saying in this decade. Their message has been heard and understood. The people are now eager for a leader who will restore, the Constitutional limitations of government, who will mobilize moral force of 180 million people to reduce and to limit the inequitable, concentration of power in any government, organization or economic combine."

With these challenging words, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona launched his campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Their force and clarity reflect the man and explain the ever-increasing enthusiasm of millions of Americans for him. They are the words of a businessman and soldier turned statesman who will accept no substitutes for fundamental American principles. They are the words of a dedicated public servant seeking our Nation's highest office; not to satisfy personal ambition, but to lead a crusade which will restore pride and self reliance at home and respect abroad.

Throughout his public career, Barry Goldwater has never made special appeals to special interest groups. He never will. He is an American who will work for America; not for one particular section, class, group or party, but for all of America. He is one man in public life today who can transform principles into programs to produce a stronger America and a stronger Free World.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater.

Barry Goldwater passed away nearly ten years ago. This tribute was written the day after his death.

There are some people in public life who speak their minds candidly, whose honesty and passion for the truth, as God has given them light to see the truth, contrasts starkly with the sail-trimming and obfuscation so common in political speech today.

Then there are those politicians who pride themselves on being accomplished legislators, whose careers are marked by lasting contributions to the governance of their country, who toil for years at the often dull and exacting work of lawmaking.

Barry Goldwater was the rare politician who managed to be both, an outspoken, truth-telling patriot who took his obligations as a lawmaker seriously and who helped shape the destiny of a great nation. His uncommon honesty and ability made him an American legend in his own time.
It sometimes seems today as if we mistake notoriety or ephemeral celebrity for legend. But the attention accorded by the media heroes of the moment often passes as quickly as it arrives. Goldwater earned the high regard that a grateful nation held him in for so many years, and will still hold him in long after today's passing objects of the public eye fade into obscurity.

Barry Goldwater, who died yesterday at 89, built his reputation on the firmer ground of honor and duty. He once wrote that he was "better equipped to be a military officer than a politician. There's no greater service to this country than the defense of its freedom." That self-assessment was uncharacteristically mistaken. Barry was a superb military officer, but he was also an extraordinarily gifted politician. That he was an unusually open, honest and no-nonsense politician did not make him unsuited for the profession, only uncommon. In uniform and in politics, Barry's purpose was the defense of freedom, and nobody before or since managed the task more ably or more colorfully. He was an authentic, original and passionate patriot.

When we recall Barry Goldwater's long and distinguished career, we are reminded of the best attributes of a public servant. A great person's biography is marked by consistency, integrity and lasting achievement. Such was the life and career of Barry Goldwater. He held his principles close to his heart, where he held his love of country. He lived his public and private lives according to those principles, and woe to the miscreant who ran afoul of them. He always rushed to defend his ground, whether or not the ground he defended was in fashion at the time.

The changes in political attitudes that occur regularly in any nation's history often weaken the resolve of ordinary statesmen. But extraordinary statesmen do not let the vagaries of public opinion impair their vision or weaken their heart. Whether or not the times favored him, Barry believed in what he was doing. He did not tailor his message or trim his cause in deference to the prevailing sentiments about the style and purpose of politics. He made the times come to him.
Harry Truman once said that he never gave anybody hell. "I just tell the truth," he said, "and they think it's hell." Throughout his life, Barry Goldwater told a lot of truth to a lot of people. Two years ago, I went to see Barry. We talked about campaign finance reform. I told him that most of the Republicans were opposed to it. This giant of the Republican Party looked at me, paused and said, "Well, to hell with them."

On occasion, I found myself the beneficiary of Barry's truth-telling. The memory of the experience cautions me to this day to discharge my responsibilities in such a way so that I might avoid giving Barry too much cause to further enlighten me.

It is nearly impossible to list all his accomplishments in a public career that spanned four decades. Nor can the most detailed list adequately explain the extraordinary national and international importance of Barry Goldwater's public service. But even a cursory glance at his achievements indicates the breadth of his interests, and the strength of his devotion to Americans.

Much has been written about how Barry never gave a damn for the perquisites of high office or for the blandishments of public relations specialists who sometimes seem to have seized control of American politics. But no one ever mistook Barry's self-confidence for an absence of concern for America. From his dedicated and just service to Native Americans while serving on the Indian Affairs Committee to his special care for our national heritage, exemplified by his authorship of the Grand Canyon Park Enlargement Act, Barry Goldwater gave a damn about his country, not just for his sake, but for ours.

This nation never had a more ardent defender of liberty than Barry Goldwater. Simply put, he was in love with freedom. He could never abide any restriction on the exercise of freedom as long as that exercise did not interfere with someone else's freedom. No matter the prevailing political sensibilities, no matter the personal risk to his career, no political gain was so important to Barry that it was worth infringing on another American's freedom.

Americans conceive of freedom in many ways: the freedom to be left alone or to join with others in a common purpose; the freedom to prosper or to waste; the freedom to worship God in whatever way we choose or not to worship at all; the freedom to say whatever we like or to remain silent; the freedom to succeed or to fail; the freedom to be brave or cowardly; the freedom to be generous or selfish; to be prideful or humble; to be good or not.

Barry defended freedom in all its manifestations because he saw what freedom conferred on America – the distinction of being the last, best hope of humanity, the haven and advocate for all who believe in the God-given dignity of the human being. Barry loved his country because freedom is America's honor.

His outspoken defense of liberty at home was equaled by the care he took in protecting our security abroad. Perhaps his most lasting legislative achievement was the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act. Only Barry had the stature and resolve to undertake the systemic reform of the military. And, as we observed the splendid performance of our military in the Persian Gulf War, notably free of the chain-of-command and service-rivalry problems of the past, and saw the extraordinary effectiveness of their weapons, from the Patriot Missile to the M1 tank, we witnessed the great contribution Barry Goldwater made to the defense of our freedoms. It is no exaggeration to say that today's American armed forces, which have no equal, are the armed forces Barry Goldwater created.

I am both blessed and burdened to have succeeded Barry Goldwater to the United States Senate. I am blessed by the honor of it, but burdened by the certain knowledge that long after I have left public office, Americans will still celebrate the contributions Barry Goldwater made to their well-being, while I and my successors will enjoy much less notable reputations. Barry Goldwater will always be the Senator from Arizona, the one history recalls with appreciation and delight. In all the histories of American politics, Barry Goldwater will remain a chapter unto himself. The rest of us will have to make do as footnotes.

-- John McCain

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

McCain isn't conservative? What kind of crack are you smoking?

Well, the Shiite wing of the Republican party is at it again -- bashing Arizona Senator John McCain by claiming he isn't a conservative.

Excuse me, but what are these wackos smoking?

The American Conservative Union -- hardly a liberal think tank -- gives McCain a solid 83 rating (versus 9 for Hillary Rodham Clinton and 8 for Barack Obama). That puts McCain more conservative than, say, Congressman Tom Petri (76.6) and a bit less than Jim Senssenbrenner (88).

(Incidentally, Mark Green and Paul Ryan received higher ratings than Sensenbrenner!)

McCain is also rated higher than Senators John Warner of Virginia (80), Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (44.7), Pete Domenici of New Mexico (74.3), Tad Cochran of Mississippi (80.3), Norm Coleman of Minnesota (75.3), Olympia Snowe (49.9) and Susan Collins (53.9) of Maine, Dick Lugar of Indiana (78.6) and Ted Stevens (64.5) and Lisa Murkowski (74.6) of Alaska. He's also pretty much neck and neck with Iowa's Chuck Grassley.

Time for these whining cry babies to stop being so stupid, shut up and ask whether they want ideological purity or a chance at victory?

Oh, and McCain ranks an "A" from the American Taxpayers Union when it comes to being fiscally responsible (11th out of 100 senators) and 95% from the Council of Citizens Against Government Waste.

The economy: we're the stupid ones

It's easy to blame government when the economy seems to sour but, folks, it's like Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

After 9/11 we're the ones who stopped flying and stopped buying.

We're the ones that treated homes as ATM's and not as a place of residence.

We're the ones who allowed people to buy homes and cars with little or no money down and then we wonder why these risky loans failed.

We're the ones that allowed anticompetitive mergers.

We're the ones that let businesses drain jobs from this country and send them overseas.

We're the ones that reward CEO's who fail investors instead of booting them out the door.

We're the ones who have so little faith in this country and our people that we run and hide instead of standing up to make this country great again.

Yes, the government could have done some things differently but at the end of the day we're responsible for this mess, period.

Moran wasn't wrong on this one

Labor honcho Curt Wilson is bum rapping former Kenosha Mayor Pat Moran for not suing Chryster Corporation when it ended auto production in Kenosha in 1988.

The truth is that there was no basis for such a lawsuit. The truth is that Chrysler, while damaging the city's economy, still maintained engine production here and paid millions to retrain workers and make other civil improvements.

Chrysler's decision to end auto production here may in hindsight have been boneheaded but so, too, would have been a lawsuit of dubious merit that would have tied up scarce city resources and finances that were appropriately used to attempt to move the city forward at a time when the economy was on life support. It also would have created false hopes rather than delivering the harsh reality check that shifting gears was the only way the community could survive.

And survive it did.

While Pat Moran's "new direction" seems to be backward and his supporters include friends of special interests, such as Aldermen Steve Casey and Jesse Downing, he made the right call on this one and the slam against him was uncalled for.

Curt Wilson needs to understand you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. His view certainly isn't the latter.

Why can't a city obey its own ordinance?

This morning a Kenosha city tractor was efficiently removing snow from a sidewalk in the 5500 block of 22nd Avenue when all of the sudden it deposited some of the snow right on 56th Street creating a potential traffic hazard.

The city bellyaches when a homeowner using a snowblower tries to open up a driveway shut by the actions of a city plow if the snow is blown back into the road but the same ordinance doesn't seem to apply to the city itself.

Shame, shame.

And, of course, the performance with Monday's storm was poor in the city and not all that great in Pleasant Prairie which seems to be slipping in snow and ice removal. The city gets an "F" on this one and Pleasant Prairie a "D" (there were several village streets still covered with some snow and ice as of last night and yesterday morning they were only marginally better than the city which usually isn't the case).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is McCain too old?

Leave it to Mike Huckabee huckster Chuck Norris to plant the seed/ask the question of whether John McCain is too old to be president.

Yes, McCain is not a spring chicken. But he's hardly graveyard material. (In fact, I just saw a picture of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, a spry 83-year-old, riding an all terrain vehicle in his home state.)

Mike Huckabee did a little dance to distance himself from Norris' cheap shot but he really owes McCain -- and the Republican party -- an apology for violating Ronald Regan's so-called Eleventh Commandment ("Thou shall not not speak ill of a fellow Republican"). Norris needs to be muzzled and kicked square in the butt. Slut a wheezeball!

There is a shred of validity to the question in the sense that maybe McCain would only be a one-term president. If so, then a strong concern would be who is his running mate?

I think conservatives and the nation would probably do well with either Huckabee or Fred Thompson, both of whom would add additional conservative status to the ticket and appeal to southern voters.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Painful

The Green Bay Packers figuratively snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a humiliating 23-20 sudden death overtime loss to the New York Giants.

What happened to the kick butt team that blitzed the Seattle Seahawks just eight days earlier? Why this meltdown?

Packer fans will ask these and other questions because, quite simply, the team did not play credibly. Sure, there was no guarantee that Green Bay would win, but to be humiliated at Lambeau Field by a team that made its share of game blunders is not inspiring.

The Packers squandered the opportunities they had and, to make matters worse, opened up new ones for the Giants who eventually took advantaged of an intercepted pass.

The Packers, of course, deserve credit for a good season which unfortunately will be overshadowed by the meltdown that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl.

My suspicion is that Brett Favre will be back next season. I can't think of a player with his talent who would want his last NFL game to be the lackluster performance he turned in tonight.

As South Carolina goes, so should the GOP

South Carolina Republicans answered the question the right way: Do you want ideological purity or a chance at victory?

The answer is John McCain, perhaps the only chance the Republicans have at winning the presidential election in November.

The right-wing Republicans are so hung up on sidetrack issues that they forget the lesson Bill Clinton taught us in 1992 when he stole pages from the GOP script and told the black Lesbian in a wheelchair faction of the Democratic party to shut up lest they lose the prize.

The pundits have been telling us for the last two months that only one candidate for president has what it takes to be commander-in-chief: John Mc Cain. As such Republicans would be smart to rally around McCain -- who proved the legitimacy of his campaign by taking South Carolina -- and focusing on who would make a good running mate. My picks would be either Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What's behind the silly buzz words?

Sometimes I think people don't stop to think before coming up with their campaign slogans.

Take Pat Moran who is running for mayor in Kenosha. His slogan is: "A new direction."

Now that's very interesting.

First, Moran was mayor from 1988-92 and did a decent job before he voluntarily hung up his spurs and left public life. I don't doubt that some of the present successes got their start with initiatives he endorsed nearly 20 years ago.

So, then, what is the new direction?

The present direction set by lame duck John Antaramian has been, with the exception of an occasional blunder, noteworthy. A smart candidate would seek to build on those successes, not make some vague banality about changing course.

The greatest fear of "a new direction" is that it may point in the direction of the "no-shas" -- the very anti-progress people Moran once eschewed.

On the other hand, Keith Bosman, Mr. Lack-of-Excitement, seems to want to rest on the present mayor's laurels. It's difficult to ascertain what his vision really is and challenger Everett Butler -- the only other candidate seriously qualified to be mayor -- is even more fuzzy.

These candidates owe Kenosha voters more than just silly slogans and vague generalities.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The man who set Parkside straight

Jack Keating dropped a little bombshell yesterday when he said he'll leave his job as University of Wisconsin-Parkside's chancellor in August.



It doesn't seem like it's been ten years since Jack came here and that alone is a testament to what he's accomplished.



A little history lesson is in order, folks.



Back in the 1960's community leaders and legislators from Kenosha and Racine worked vigorously to persuade the legislature to create a new four-year University of Wisconsin campus here. When the green light was given the two communities battled each other to be the home of the new institution but a compromise was reached that put the campus on land in between them in the Town of Somers.



Kenosha County turned a large chunk of Petrifying Springs County Park over to the state and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside was born.



The first chancellor, Irvin Wyllie, was deeply sensitive to the school's mission to serve the Racine and Kenosha communities. He was mindful that the school's founders -- such as the late Assemblyman George Molinaro -- were folks who grew up without many opportunities for a college education but wanted them for their children and grandchilden.



Irv died not long after Parkside opened and a succession of successors tried to turn Parkside into a elitist eastern-style school, even disarming trained campus police officers.



Relations with the community became increasingly strained as Parkside strayed more and more from its original mission.



After another elite chancellor quit a light bulb went on at the UW system administration which set out to learn why Parkside had so many issues.



Then UW President Katherine Lyall and her staff reached out to leaders in Kenosha and Racine who related how much Parkside lost touch with the community and its original mission.



It was after this input that Jack was brought here from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He immediately began to repair community relations, restore Parkside's original mission, improve academics and obtain additional funding.



This new approach wasn't just for the elite.



Keating began the first year on the job working the bookstore cash register to get to know students. He cooked and served breakfasts to students during final exams. And the police got their guns back.



I once told Jack how important it was to treat the officers as professionals and how much they appreciated his gesture. He immediately interjected that as the son of a Seattle policeman he was committed to seeing that the university's officers are treated as the professionals that they are.

Jack Keating will be a tough act to follow. This community is greater for his presence and contribution and we'll miss him.

Milwaukee's new police chief hits the ground running

Ed Flynn, Milwaukee's new police chief, probably isn't unpacked but he's already trying to come up with ways to attack the city's crime infestation.

This week plans were announced to beef up technology, patrol strength and even old-fashioned cops on the beat in Milwaukee's third police district.

It'll be some time before anyone knows if this plan will work but perhaps more interesting is how Flynn approached this.

First, he challenged his district commanders to come up with crime reduction plans for their areas. Apparently the third district was the first to weigh in and, when it came time to discuss the nitty gritty, it was Capt. James Harpole, the third district commander, who addressed reporters about the plan he devised in collaboration with his officers.

There are some very smart moves going on here, folks.

Flynn, an "outsider" who came from Springfield, Mass., empowered his commanders and their staffs to come up with these plans and then, instead of hogging the limelight, he turned the briefing over to the guy who knows the first plan best. I'll bet there are folks in the Milwaukee Police Department who are dancing with joy (and some "dead wood" who aren't).

Kenosha's crime problem, of course, is nowhere near as bad as Milwaukee's nor are the internal issues within the Kenosha Police Department anywhere near as critical. Nonetheless John Morrissey, the new chief, might do well to look at Flynn's approach. Morrissey, of course, already has quite a few things on his plate and one of them is how to maintain and improve partnerships with key players in the community. There's a lot of wisdom out there and the new chief will demonstrate his by tapping into it.

The School District Mismanagement Referendum

Voters in the Kenosha Unified School District are being sold a bill of goods by the school board's hype of the upcoming referendum questions to build and staff a new high school at Indian Trail Academy.

The first problem is that it's being sold as a "high school overcrowding" referendum.

Yeah, right.

When the school board did away with junior high schools that meant ninth grade students were sent directly into high school buildings designed as three-year high schools. Do you really think that had nothing to do with "overcrowding?"

And then we're told that the construction referendum is a "no cost" deal because retirement of existing debt would essentially "wash" the actual tax increase. The flip side of that would be that if the referendum was defeated and the school never built taxes would decrease.

The double-whammy comes from the staffing referendum which is being sold as a mere $22 a year tax hike on an average home. Hmmm.

First, you can't really build the school and not staff it, so the separate referenda really is an insult to the intelligence of the voters. The truth is that if the new school is built there will be a tax increase.

Speaking of tax increases, the school board has a lot of guts looking for more money after a walloping 5.1% tax hike this year.

Let's take a look at what the drunken spending style school board has done.

The tax rate is up 5.1%. That's bad enough. But there are other numbers, such as the entire levy amount of $80.5 million vs. $74.7 million last year. That's a big hike.

KUSD is the third largest school district in Wisconsin in terms of enrollment in the state with 22,482 students -- 2,273 less than Madison and 786 more than Racine and 2,412 more than Green Bay. So, Racine's enrollment is 96.5% of Kenosha's figure. But the Racine tax levy is $63.8 million and that district's tax rate actually went down this year!

In other words, Racine taxpayers are shelling out $2,942 per student vs. $3,581 in Kenosha. On top of all this the Kenosha school tax rate was ameliorated by a more than $1.8 million in additional state aid.

The school board failed taxpayers and students by not adequately planning and budgeting for increased enrollment. School buildings don't last forever and replacements should have been anticipated and money set aside each year for this purpose.

The Pleasant Prairie village board caught some heat this year when it raised property taxes but at least a chunk of that is going to pay for a road program that should have been launched years ago.

The school board, however, wants voters to bail them out of their mismanagement. We shouldn't.

Pleasant Prairie Village Cafe -- a great opportunity

Tonight's Pleasant Prairie Village Cafe -- kind of a town meeting to discuss the proposed "Village Green" project -- was well attended and a great opportunity for people to come together in a collegial environment.

Local politics being what they are opportunities like this help bring people together who otherwise don't always see eye-to-eye. It's not just Pleasant Prairie -- other communities could benefit from this approach.

Breaking bread together isn't conventional for local governments but who says "conventional" is the best way to get things done?

Say it ain't so, Pat!

Pat Moran, Kenosha's erstwhile mayor seeking to get his old job back, apparently turned a few heads by suggesting that he had something to do with the Abbott Laboratories and U-Line expansions projects in Pleasant Prairie.

Certainly Moran wasn't devoid of accomplishments as mayor but claiming vicarious credit for these projects because he acquiesced to Pleasant Prairie's incorporation as a village is a bit of a stretch -- kind of like Native Americans claiming credit for Wall Street because they sold Manhattan for $24.

Moran needs to focus more on what his vision is for Kenosha today and into the future -- not what it was 20 years ago. He promises "a new direction" but hasn't defined what that is other than not spending money on more museums.

This is not to take away from the accomplishments of 1988-92 when Moran was Kenosha's mayor but merely illustrates that these are things in the past. The city has moved on a great deal since then and Moran is fuzzy about the specifics of his vision for the future.

Also troubling is Moran's absence from city hall for 16 years. While he dabbled in running his own business and then returned to teaching, Moran has been noticeably uninvolved prior to this campaign. His supporters include a bunch of folks with axes to grind against the present mayor.

The city limits -- literally -- begin at the end of my driveway and thus I'm concerned about turning the clock backward. Moran promises a new direction but it's unclear whether that direction is forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

Mitt Romney may have his shortcomings but money isn't one of them.

That's why the itinerant politician drummed on the economy during his Michigan campaign -- a smart move in a state with a 7.5% unemployment rate and an ailing auto industry.

As a result Romney topped the primary field with 40% of the GOP vote vs. 30% for John McCain.

It's said that he who fails to heed the lessons of history is condemned to repeat them.

President George H. Bush's post-Desert Storm downfall was his blatant insensitivity to the economy. Maybe John McCain is focusing so much on other issues that he didn't see this one coming. If he wants to stay in the race, this should be a huge wakeup call.

Doing something about payday loan sharks

Wisconsin still has been at the back of the bus when it comes to regulating payday loan sharks who charge triple digit interest on supposedly short-term emergency loans.

As mentioned here several weeks ago, Oregon enacted tough legislation which essentially put most of these disreputable lenders out of business overnight. Wisconsin has done nothing.

One problem is that these shady lenders often affiliate with an out-of-state bank to launder their lending this bypassing state regulation.

The AARP Foundation is backing a class action suit in Pennsylvania which says the these loans violate state usury laws and that the attempt to bypass state regulation is a sham that shouldn't be recognized.

It may well be that it's time for Congress to act but don't look for those high-rollers to have any real compassion for the little guy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Original editorial?

Today's Kenosha News editorial is about how us baby boomers over 50 years old are being exempted from the new secure driver's license fiasco.

Check it out here.

Then check this out. Seems that the editorial is actually a "canned" commentary from the Scripps-Howard News Service.

Interesting editorial but hardly original material.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Greetings from Sanibel and Cape Coral, Florida



Today's photography at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge was less than stellar but I was able to find a snowy egret lying in wait and later after sunset found a burrowing owl in Cape Coral. Enjoy.

"What the Hell is this, the Iditarod?"

Overheard that on the radio broadcast of the Packers 42-20 bombardment of the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

Given the weather in Green Bay, that's one of the best lines I ever heard!

Go Pack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(It was in the 70's today here in Fort Myers.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nitwitness newshound owes apology to Doyle family

I've sat on this for a few days because, well, it was simply too angering.

Governor Jim Doyle came out over the weekend backing the Democratic presidential nomination bid of Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Yeah, I know. A real yawner.

But one of the television news airheads had the audacity to point out on the air that the governor was flanked by his wife and "adopted son."

Say what????

I can think of at least a half dozen reasons to skewer Jim Doyle for his conduct as governor but a stupid insult hurled at his family is downright inexcusable.

As an adoptive parent I certainly don't go around calling my daughter "my adopted daughter." She's my daughter, period. And I'm proud of her.

What would it be like if, say, a mother introduced one child as "my birth son" and another as "my adopted son?" You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see what's wrong with that picture.

Jim Doyle's son is his son and no modifier is needed. The nitwit who insulted his family owes them an apology.

Better to light one candle than curse the darkness

The tornadoes that brought havoc to Kenosha County didn't destroy our spirit.

It's nice to see all the people who have pitched in to help the victims from businesses donating supplies to ordinary citizens making "sloppy joes" for those trying to pick up whatever they can from their damaged homes.

Police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters and emergency crews did a tremendous job. We can't thank them enough.

Why not Everett Butler for Kenosha's next mayor?

The primary battle for Kenosha's next mayor seems to be centering on two candidates: former Mayor Pat Moran and former Alderman Keith Bosman whom may have viewed as Mayor John Antaramian's "heir apparent."

The possibilities and problems of the various mayoral campaigns have been discussed here and, quite frankly, nobody really excites me. Pat Moran is a great guy but his accomplishments -- and there were quite a few -- are in the past and it's not clear that he has a progressive vision for the city's future.

Keith Bosman is hardly Mr. Excitement but he is picking up a lot of endorsements which are nice if you're a candidate but the endorsements really aren't grounded in substance versus affinity. I'm not sure that he has what it takes to be a strong mayor.

I've commented in the past that Alderman Everett Butler is also a great guy but I'm not sure about his vision for the city's future. He really needs to get working on articulating himself which may be his biggest downfall. On the flip side, Bosman was only an alderman for 13 years while Butler has served for 15 years. Both are former council presidents. As far as experience goes, it seems like a tossup between the two.

I hope Butler gets his campaign in gear and lets the voters hear more of his ideas. Maybe he is the better candidate but if he doesn't get into it we'll may never know.

Technical difficulties

Technical difficulties. Grrr.

Sorry, folks, but I am having “connectivity issues” as it appears that my DSL modem is fried and it won’t be until next week that a replacement arrives. I’ll also be out of town.

Posting may be not quite as frequent until things are fixed. Sorry.

McCain-Huckabee?

Don't laugh -- it's a great ticket.

With John McCain there's experience and competence. Plus he comes from the southwest and is a Main Street Republican.

Huckabee is more conservative, appeals to religious conservatives and is from the south. Put the two together and the Republicans could have a viable ticket in the fall.

But that's only if Republican voters want to win.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's next? A Steinbrink bumper sticker?

An otherwise uneventful Pleasant Prairie village board meeting Monday night had a moment of levity as former trustee Alex Tiahnybok, an Illinois transplant, showed up wearing a Green Bay Packers hat.

Alex shrugged it off in good humor, pointing out that he has great respect for the green and gold.

Still, one had to ponder, at least momentarily, that if he can wear a Packer hat, could a Steinbrink bumper sticker be far behind?

Nah. The theological place of eternal punishment would turn into a Popsicle first. But it made you look! :)

New Hampshire voters: Don't count Hillary out -- yet.

It looks like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's train may not have derailed after all.

Things didn't look so good after the Iowa Democratic Caucus vote gave upstart Sen. Barack Obama a commanding lead but it's neck-and-neck in New Hampshire where the vote spread has been a constant 40% Clinton to 36% Obama from when the first returns started coming in to now with 26% of the precincts reporting.

Hard to know what to make of this. Maybe it's New Hampshire's way of enforcing a little humility on Sen. Obama but only time will tell.

UPDATE: With 43% of the precincts in, the gap has narrowed: Clinton 39%, Obama 37%. This is getting interesting.

AND IN THE END: That's how it went down. Obama's head must be spinning wondering what happened. If it was, it didn't show as his speech tonight can be characterized in one word: cocky. Slut a wheezeball!

Obama and Hillary: What a pair

The two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination -- Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama -- soiled themselves with desperate pandering.

Last weekend Sen. Clinton pulled out the gender card, pointing out that she's the female candidate for president. Wow. Stop the presses.

Not to be outdone by this, Sen. Obama, when asked if he considers himself the front-runner for the nomination, replied: "I'm never a front-runner; I'm always the underdog." Oh, yeah. Light up the victim mentality crowd.

You can't encourage the American people to see beyond old prejudices when you perpetuate them for your own selfish reasons. It's cheap politics played by a couple of cheap politicians.

So what else is new?

Feeling the pain

I overheard Sheriff David Beth on WLIP this morning pleading with people -- "curiosity seekers" -- to please stay away from the areas hit by yesterday's tornadoes.

It's a perfectly legitimate request. Emergency, utility and construction crews need to be able to get their jobs done without interference and also without harm to those who might come just to gawk.

That said, there's an irony to the sheriff's plea. Maybe people should go these areas to see for themselves just what havoc a tornado can actually do. It's one thing to look at an image but another to see it for yourself.

Why would I say this?

Simple. A lot of people just can't comprehend the fury of such an event because it's simply too mind boggling. I learned that lesson over 30 years ago when I saw my first "real flood" in Toledo, Ohio. Up until then I thought of flooding as water on the road and in some basements with no real appreciation for the destruction a flood can cause.

No, I am not encouraging curiosity seekers to interfere with emergency work that needs to be done. Nonetheless, we have a lot of folks who don't take severe weather warnings seriously. Maybe if they have a chance to see the destruction -- perhaps even one building -- they'd understand.

Serving at a time of need

Three Kenosha County Sheriff's deputies were injured as a result of responding to help people afflicted by yesterday's tornadoes.

These officers put themselves in danger to help others. They, and their colleagues, deferve our thanks and prayers.

Hospitality and prayer

The tornadoes that struck Kenosha's north side yesterday afternoon hit hard at Prayer House Assembly of God.

That "act of God" (as natural disasters are often called) was followed by an act of kindness as Lakeshore Tabernacle opened its doors as the temporary home of Prayer House Assembly of God. A prayer service will be held at Lakeshore Tabernacle (8900 34th Avenue on Kenosha's south side) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Maybe, maybe now they'll listen

This is NOT a test.

Too many people yesterday heard the tornado warning and didn't take it seriously.

Maybe now they will.

Sorry for being so stark but that's a reality, folks. These warnings are issued for a good reason.

Better a false alarm than an unheeded real thing.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The force of nature

Kenoshans found out quickly today the primal force of nature as several tornadoes struck in the Town of Wheatland and on Kenosha's northeast side.

Several homes were damaged. So far, no word of serious injuries or fatalities.

For those of us spared from the wrath of these primal forces, a sign of relief and prayers for those who were not so lucky.

The fire department, law enforcement and rescue crews from throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois also deserve our thanks and praise.

WLIP Radio did a fair job at best of informing the public. The warning was read but then we were back to Dr. Laura. Without a real news department, the radio station turned to employees to function as citizen journalists. Overall, I'd grade them a D.

Ironically, at times more information was available from the Kenosha News website. Today's newspaper has a very good front section on the storms.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

When the going gets tough -- the smart people get the Hell off the freeway!

A 100 car pileup in thick fog on Interstate 90 outside of Madison Sunday left two dead and over 50 people hurt.

The chain reaction mess actually was two separate events -- one on the eastbound side and the other on the westbound side.

Folks, when the weather is bad, the WORST place to be is on the freeway. All it takes is one person to spin out and the potential for others to get involved is tremendous.

In bad weather, slow down and always have an exit strategy, something you can't always do when surrounded by speeding idiots. There are times when making it home alive is more important than on time. Sunday was one of them.

Was the cookie really saved?

Former Midwest Airlines executive Jay Sorenson wrote a compelling article in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel which questions whether the airline was actually saved when it was bought by TPG Capital because Northwest Airlines has a 47% stake in the deal.

It's a good point -- one that's been raised in this blog several times. The antitrust people at the United States Department of Justice need to step in and rework the deal so that Northwest stays out of Midwest's operations and has no chance of ever taking over the airline.

If not, Sorenson may be right that we'll ultimately see the cookie crumble.

In humility, greatness

Former Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus' funeral service in Waukesha today was just as he wanted it: simple and close to his family.

A few months ago Lee confided in a mutual friend that while he could have the pomp and circumstance of a viewing at the state capitol, he didn't think it would nice to make his wife, Joyce, drive the 60 miles to Madison.

If you knew Lee, you'd know that he was telling it as it is.

Though known for his eloquent oratory and trademark red vest, Lee Dreyfus was very much the person who never forgot his roots and, above all, his family.

In December 1978, just a few days before taking office, Lee told me that his plan was for Sunday to be, insofar as possible, "family day." He did his best to hold true to that promise.

Fast forward to 1982 when the popular governor could have skated to another term but he strolled out into the capitol with Joyce at his side to announce that he wasn't seeking another term.

The reason: family.

And so today hundreds of people came to honor a man who cared about the people of this state, a guy more comfortable socializing with his security staff than hanging out with the blue bloods.

Instead of the fancy capitol rotunda, a simple meeting area at the new state office building in Waukesha that bears his name was the site of today's wake. Some people signed the guest book with their formal titles; others just with their name and address. And so politicians past and present mingled with friends, neighbors, reporters and quite a few police officers who stopped by to pay respects to a governor that respected them.

I said it before and will say it again that Wisconsin is a richer state because of the wit, wisdom and integrity of Lee Sherman Dreyfus. While Lee certainly was an original, the state drastically needs a reasonable facsimile -- soon.

A tribute to Lee Sherman Dreyfus

In a few minutes I'll to to Waukesha to pay my last respects to Lee Sherman Dreyfus, my old friend and mentor, whose loss will be deeply felt.

I wrote last week about what a terrific guy and inspiring governor Lee was. A quick wit, a big heart, keen intellect and common-sense principles.

This morning I spent quite a bit of time reading Lee's last newspaper columns written for the Waukesha Freeman which were in large measure exactly the stuff that made him the great man he was. But then there was one which seemed to be disingenuous.

We know it's generally not accepted to speak ill of the deceased. The Lee Sherman Dreyfus I know, however, was always the quintessential university professor aching to make you think and react. He loved the challenge of a good debate and hated mindless mush.

So, here goes, my friend.

Last March you wrote a criticism of the proposed hike in the state's cigarette tax.

You acknowledged that secondhand smoke kills and that increasing the tax will likely deter young smokers from getting hooked. But then you went south on us to bemoan the use of taxation to control behavior: "I’m amazed at businesses that support legislation that could put another business out of existence. I’m referring to the cigarette companies, distributors, smoke shops and tobacco farmers. They don’t seem to realize that if the state can tax one business out of existence, then their own business could also be eliminated when someone in Madison thinks it should. There is more to this issue than the banning of smoking, and we need to think about that carefully."

Lee, conceptually you make a good point but applied to the particular situation its value diminishes.

First, we already do tax to control behavior. A good example is speeding. The law doesn't say "thou shall not exceed 65 miles per hour on the freeway" but rather than someone who does faces a civil forfeiture (tax) if convicted in court of that violation.

Second, when public health and safety is concerned, the rights of the public to a safe environment take precedence. This is basic Libertarian thinking: your rights stop where my nose begins (to paraphrase John Stuart Mill). Throughout our state's history we legitimately have regulated or prohibited conduct when that conduct imperils public health and safety. This is fully in keeping with Wisconsin's progressive tradition.

Third, I'm shocked that the state's most vocal proponent of "Let the people decide" would fail to recognize that in virtually every referendum vote -- whether in Bristol, Oshkosh or the entire state of Florida -- tobacco use restrictions won. Further, as a strong advocate of representative democracy, you should be championing those legislators who are following the will of the people versus the big money interests that are making Wisconsin the ashtray of the midwest.

And finally, where's your criticism of why our government used taxpayer dollars to provide price supports to tobacco growers?

Lee, my friend, your broad concept is appealing but when you get down to the nitty gritty here, it doesn't wash. I love you dearly but you're wrong.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The scourge of nitwitness news

Just before the "do-not-call list" kicked in I received a solicitation to subscribe to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

When I declined the offer, the pleasant young lady who called surprised me by asking why.

I told her: "Well, when I was younger the Milwaukee Journal was considered one of the top ten newspapers in the nation. In Wisconsin, it has statewide influence. Now it's a shadow of its former self. There is very little in-depth reporting and there are many places in Wisconsin where you can't even buy it."

"You're not the first person to tell me that," she sighed.

The dumbing down of journalism didn't start or end with the state's largest newspaper, of course, or even the Kenosha News which gets well-deserved brickbats (and an occasional compliment) here.

The problem is that most of the media has dumbed down and forsaken its traditional role in our society.

Even the Chicago Tribune has turned its back on its former credo: “A newspaper is an institution created by modern civilization which relates the news of the day, leads and informs public opinion, fosters commerce and industry, and creates a check upon government that no constitution has ever been able to provide."

Today, newspapers and radio stations seem to worry more about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears than what really matters in a community. Real editorial content is down along with the experience level of the reporters.

It wasn't always this way.

Not all that long ago newspapermen looked down on their electronic journalism colleagues because we just reported the headline while you had to turn to a newspaper to get the real story.

We used to respond that when we reported a story it was news but by the time it showed up in print it was history. Now you watch CNN to get the in-depth story.

Electronic journalism has also fallen into the toilet and, in many places, flushed away.

Take WLIP in Kenosha which once had four full-time reporters who covered the police beat, city council, county board, school board, etc. They were out in the community every day just as their colleagues at radio stations large and small throughout the country.

Not so now. The Federal Communication Commission deregulated broadcasting to eliminate the requirement to broadcast local news and further went from allowing one person or entity to own but a few stations to permitting congolmerate broadcast owners who have no interest in serving the communities where their stations are licensed.

Today, WLIP has no reporters in the community and its "local" news consists of an announcer reading the Kenosha News on the air. (In fact, many days I don't even look at the newspaper until later in the day because the top stories have been condensed on WLIP's 7 a.m. newscast.

Weekends? Forget about it. No weekend local news on WLIP, period.

Another FCC rule change abandoned the requirement that someone had to physically man the station when it was on the air. Thus, if a tornado warning is issued at night, there's a good shot you might not hear it or else it will be broadcast just once by an automatic computer override.

In the "old days" radio shined by its immediacy and service to the community.

When I worked at WSPD in Toledo -- for decades one of the nation's most respected stations -- it was not uncommon for employees to head into work on their own when bad weather appeared. Seems Toledoans used to take tornado warnings lightly until one struck on a Palm Sunday and killed four people. After that we considered it our duty to be there.

Turn on your TV and you'll see the once-respectable WTMJ in Milwaukee talking about "some guys" who robbed a bank as part of its "if it bleeds it leads" brand of journalism. That's a vast departure from the days when their reporters would be on regular beats (I recall sitting beside Melodie Wilson at many school board meetings which WTMJ pretty much ignores these days).

Today, for the most part we get airheads and nitwits writing our newspapers and on radio and television. In fairness, not everyone wants to be purveyors of "nitwitness news" but it's because their editors and managers don't insist (or even care about) the highest standards of journalism. As experienced reporters retire they're replaced with inexpensive rookies often supervised by those who rely on direction from corporate bean counters and/or media consultants.

Don't take my word for it. Go to the library. Search the internet. Find some old newspapers or listen to an old news broadcast. Today's fancy equipments and graphics weren't available then but the quality and quantity of the writing was light years ahead of today.

There's another villain, to be sure. It is, as Pogo said, the situation of "We have met the enemy and he is us."

We get mediocrity because we tolerate it. And then it feeds on itself.

Take the Kenosha News as an example.

Yes, there have been some good changes in the past few years. More sports and regional coverage, for example, and occasional editorials on matters of local interest.

But even though this is a one newspaper town the News had competition from reporters at WLIP and, at one time, the former WAXO. Without competition the Kenosha News today can sit on a story for a couple of days and nobody notices. Shame on them.

So the "nitwitness newsies" as I call them get banged up on here and I can guarantee you there will be more criticism as newspapers and broacasters turn their backs on their traditional roles in the community. In some respects, it's now up to bloggers and citizen journalists to fill in the gaps.

Finally, it's interesting how the media likes to bang up on others but gets really testy when the tables are turned. (We used to joke about how TV and radio stations should have newspaper critics!) As journalism continues on the downward spiral they ought to get used to it.