Saturday, September 13, 2008

Holy batman! Media infighting!

The New York Times and Washington Post are uncharacteristally at each other over whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin blew it when she had difficulty answering ABC anchor Charles Gibson's question about "the Bush Doctrine."

The New York Times says this shows Palin's ineptness. The Washington Post (which is hardly pro-Palin) points out that there have been as many as four different definitions of the so-called "Bush Doctrine" and that Palin was correct in asking Gibson for clarification of his question.

At least the Potomac press had a drop of journalistic integrity here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In honor of Gene Malone

For anyone who follows Kenosha politics, Gene Malone is a familiar name -- the retired teacher whose letters to the Romans usually got lost in the mail. The guy who was a pain in the butt of most school board members with his usually rigid thinking that was also usually a couple of bubbles off the plumb.

But until his untimely death last month Gene Malone kept plodding and prodding. He didn't care if most people tuned him out or if his ideas were somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun.

I, too, found him typically annoying and often irrelevant. But what I thought really didn't matter. What was important is that Gene Malone taught us all lessons that most of us needed to learn.

What Gene taught us is that our rights as Americans don't mean much if we don't use them and that certainly includes our freedom of speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Gene was seldom "politically correct" and while his ideas were usually on the fringe, he nonetheless taught us that hiding behind fake smiles and euphemisms is neither what our forefathers envisoned or what thousands gave their lives to defend.

Yes, Gene was a character but as the late Charles Kuralt pointed out, when America runs out of characters it will have lost its character.

So, in Gene's honor, I'd like to tell the inflated egos who comprise the majority of the Kenosha Unified School Board that they pulled a major boner when they eliminated driver education programs.

It's only common sense that regardless of whether you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the person who sweeps its floors you both have to know how to drive and society benefits from having well-educated drivers on our highways. It's such a "no brainer" that it makes you wonder if these supposedly educated people have any brains. They certainly don't have common sense.

And then there's that CDO boondoggle that's risking the school district millions and making more than a few people in this community ponder whether the "rocket scientists" who got us into this mess ought to be making license plates. (And to think one of them is a financial services consultant!) Shame, shame on them.

I don't know if Gene Malone will ever know that I wrote this but I'd like to think that if he did, he'd be proud.

Whoopi's ignorance is matched only by her arrogance

Whoopi Goldberg wasn't joking when she freaked out over the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in a blistering attack where she called the Alaska governor "dangerous."

The actress turned know-it-all then went on to say that those who view small towns as idyllic boroughs of patriotism slight those in big cities who may be equally as patriotic. She had a point but, unfortunately, its validity was tarnished by her bombastic and arrogant attacks on Sarah Palin.

The worst of it, though, is that after 9/11 we were all New Yorkers. I saw numerous tributes to the victims and heroes of 9/11 across the country. Ironically, perhaps the most compelling to me was at a housing project in Fairbanks, Alaska -- thousands of miles from New York City -- where children made a crepe paper monument in the fence surrounding the project. Her arrogance in belitting residents of America's small towns was matched only by her ignorance.

9/11: We're still wimps, mostly.

I set out this morning to write something new and creative on this, the seventh anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

However, I reviewed what I wrote last year here and essentially it's all still correct, save for the fact that we're beginning to see slight progess in Iraq.

I thought last year's comments were compelling and echo them today as we pray in rememberance of those who lost their lives and those who sacraficed to help them seven years ago in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. May they never be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whither thou goest Kenosha County GOP?

Recently the Kenosha County Republican Party has shown an upsurge in participation but something is certainly wrong this year.

Not one GOP candidate appeared on the ballot for county office. Not one.

The Assembly seat being vacated by County Executive Jim Kreuser will be picked up by his predecessor, Peter Barca, who will have no Republican opposition in the fall.

The GOP is fielding Ben Bakke against incumbent State Senator Bob Wirch while former Pleasant Prairie trustee Alex Tiahnybok renews his ongoing grudge match against John Steinbrink, sr., this time challenging Steinbrink's bid for re-election as state representative.

Of particular note, however, was the absence of a Republican candidate for county clerk where Mary Schuch-Krebs won a five-way Democratic primary to succeed retiring Edna Highland. It's too bad the GOP sat this one out.

A hat tip tp Jim Huff

Jim Huff, a county board supervisor and former Kenosha police officer, may not have won the Democratic primary for state assembly but he certainly earned respect.

Former state representative Peter Barca entered the race at the very last minute and demonstrated a well-organized campaign that won him the nomination and, as there is no Republican opposition, effectively the seat as well.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Jim was outgunned by a more experienced and better financed candidate. Still, you have to give Jim credit for entering the fray early on and sticking with it against the odds.

Jim Huff may not have earned enough votes but certainly he has earned a measure of respect.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Say what? Shooting a moose without a permit is worse than child abuse? You can't make this stuff up.

No sane person could believe this.

Earlier I posted the letter from Col. Julia Grimes, then director of the Alaska State Troopers, reaming out Gov. Sarah Palin's ex-brother-in-law, a rogue trooper, for using a taser on his ten-year-old stepson, shooting a moose without a proper permit and drinking beer on duty in his marked patrol car. Check it out.

Well, today I was discussing the letter with some friends when one caught something I'd overlooked which sent me even further into orbit. This is too weird to be made up, folks.

Col. Grimes wrote: "The use of your department issued Taser on a ten-year-old child, your stepson, Payton, demonstrated extremely poor judgment and a conscience (sic) choice you made to violate the department's standards of conduct." She goes on to deplore this violation in no uncertain terms: "This is unacceptable. Your lapse of proper judgment and unacceptable conduct is very serious in nature and on its own this matter warrants corrective action."

Tough -- and very appropriate -- language. Col. Grimes even wrote about how such an act would even diminish the child's view of state troopers and what is acceptable conduct for law enforcement. Before you scream, "Right on, Julia!" you ought to read what follows when she turns to shooting a moose without a proper permit. I mean CAREFULLY read it.

Col. Grimes starts out by saying, "The issue of the wildlife violation has even deeper ramifications."

Say what? Shooting a moose without a proper permit is worse than what amounts to a very aggravated act of child abuse?

It gets worse.

After tearing the vagabond trooper a new rectum for the Taser incident, unlawfully shooting a moose and drinking beer on duty, in uniform and in his marked patrol car, Col. Grimes recounts the seven warnings previously given and concludes: "The events and behavior sustained during this administrative investigation not only brings discredit to the department by having a trooper violate law, but also documents a continued course of conduct rife with poor judgment and violation of policy. It is nearly certain that a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions. These events are unacceptable, constitute a gross deviation from our department's standards and will not be tolerated."

Hold on before you let out that cheer, folks, because this is what she wrote next: "Based on the totality of this review and your past history, you will be suspended for ten working days."

Say what? A ten-day suspension for all that? Is your head spinning?

Hold on, folks, it gets worse. That suspension was later reduced to five days. I've seen police officers canned for a lot less than this -- and rightfully so.

Frankly, I don't give a rat's behind if Gov. Palin was trying to get this moron fired. No sane, intelligent person with an ounce of morals would tolerate this mope with a badge and a gun, period.

And as for Col. Grimes, thankfully she's no longer the director. Shooting a moose without a proper permit "has even deeper ramifications" than child abuse with a weapon? What planet did she come from?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin attacks show hypocrisy, sexism

I like Jimmy Carter.

I didn't always agree with him, but Jimmy Carter was a breath of fresh air at a time when the nation was weary of the Watergate scandal.

Jimmy Carter was the "man from Plains" -- his truly small (population 637) town in Georgia -- who served one term as Georgia's governor before seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Carter also served three years in the state senate.

It was hard not to like Jimmy Carter. He was folksy, down-to-earth, carried his own luggage, had a colorful family (remember "Billy Beer" named after Jimmy's brother?) and often stayed with ordinary families during his 1976 presidential campaign.

The nation ate it up, falling in love with the humble small-town peanut farmer. The national media didn't go on a witch-hunt and, in fact, the imperfections of Jimmy Carter and his family became almost a source of national pride. In short, they were media darlings.

On a personal level, how could I not like a guy who (literally) bought me a beer?

Fast forward 32 years.

Sarah Palin is in her first term as Alaska's governor. Her approval rating hovers between 80-90%. She served two terms as mayor of Wasilla, a fast-growing Anchorage suburb which is more than ten times larger than Plains, Ga. Previously she was on the city council and also served as oil and gas commissioner. Like Jimmy Carter, she's seen by many as "one of us" and, also like Jimmy Carter, presents herself as a "Washington outsider."

But instead of the media love-fest Jimmy Carter enjoyed, Sarah Palin has been subjected to microscopic hyperscrutiny which questions everything from her ability to govern (her public service resume rivals candidate Carter's -- and she's not running for president) to being a good parent.

Could this be because she's a woman? Could this be because she's a Republican? Could this be because she has the audacity to be a conservative Republican woman?

Certainly the media has its job to do and rightfully should investigate the qualifications of the candidates. But it's a huge leap from legitimate investigation and reporting to a thinly-veiled witch hunt.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Listen up! The truth about "Troopergate"

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's opponents are trying to raise a ruckus over what's become known in the national media as "Troopergate" in which it's alleged that she canned Walt Monegan, the state's public safety commissioner, because he wouldn't axe her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper who received only a ten-day suspension (later reduced to a mere five days!) for illegally shooting a moose, drinking on duty and using a Taser on his ten-year-old son.

The essential facts will be covered here in short order. I say "essential" because once you read them you'll wonder yourself why this moron wasn't canned.

First off, I know Walt Monegan to be a "cop's cop" who worked his way up the ladder from third-shirt patrolman to chief of police in Anchorage before Gov. Sarah Palin appointed him Alaska's public safety commissioner. I like Walt and believe the real reason he's no longer the top cop is because he couldn't justify submitting a reduced budget when his agency was overworked, understaffed and underfunded.

The truth is that Walt is an "at will" appointee who served at the pleasure of the Governor who can fire him for any reason or no reason at all, period.

The truth also is that Walt technically wasn't fired. He was offered a different job, as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. He turned it down.

Further, the truth is that Sarah Palin, long before she was governor, wrote Col. Julia Grimes, then director of the Alaska State Troopers, about her abusive brother-in-law's antics. Read for yourself what she wrote.

The truth is that the trooper was disciplined by Col. Grimes for eleven violations, including drinking on duty, illegally shooting a moose and using a Taser on his ten-year-old son. Col. Grimes' letter indicates that there were prior warnings and another document shows that the trooper was the subject of a domestic abuse restraining order.

Bear in mind, folks, that all this was done before Sarah Palin became governor and Walt was appointed public safety commissioner. That makes the claims that Palin or others acting on her behalf were learning on Walt to fire the rogue trooper a bit suspect because how could he act when the matter was closed?

Nonetheless, Sarah Palin could have flat out fired Walt for any reason under the sun and, as an "at will" appointee, he has no recourse.

The rest of this, of course, is mired down in politics but you have enough facts at your disposal to independently conclude that even if Sarah Palin or others acting on her behalf tried to get Walt to can her ex-brother-in-law, so what? The real travesty is that he wasn't fired earlier. (If anything good has come out of this it's that Julia Grimes is no longer director!)

Case closed.

FoxNews tonight: Gov. Sarah Palin: An American Woman

Rebroadcast of last night's documentary on Sarah Palin. 7 p.m. on FoxNews.

(If anyone missed it, I downloaded it onto a DVD!)

Sarah Palin: She's one of us!

"She's one of us!"

That's the comment most frequently heard from folks who have become acquainted with John McCain's running mate.

Of course, readers of this blog were introduced to Gov. Palin six months ago: http://ragdujour.blogspot.com/2008/03/mccains-vp-choice-could-be-easy-and.html

and I knew once Sen. Joseph Biden joined the Democratic ticket that it would be necessary for McCain to do something dynamic. He did.

The left-wingers and their allies in the news media were caught off-guard because, quite frankly, they weren't up to admitting their own ignorance about Gov. Palin and Alaska.

Had they done their research, they'd have found that Sarah Palin was "vetted" when she upended the Republican establishment to get elected Alaska's governor -- including claims about lack of experience: http://www.frontiersman.com/articles/2008/09/07/opinion/columnists/doc48bcf03a0e877323781165.txt.

Further, the lack of knowledge about Alaska's strategic and economic importance is mind boggling. This isn't Vermont, folks. Despite the low population density, Alaska is one of this nation's most important states in terms of energy, natural resources and military preparedness. While some may scoff at Gov. Palin's titular command of the Alaska National Guard, military historians know that the native Alaska Territorial Guard whose unpaid members ranged in age between 12 and 80 was the first line of defense against the Japanese. It wasn't until 2000 that Congress gave retroactive status and benefits to these brave volunteers (including 27 women).

Had the media stars done their homework they would have known about The Last Frontier. They would have known Alaskans are highly educated, well-read and debate foreign policy on their own. They would have talked about Horicon, Wisconsin native Fran Ulmer -- a University of Wisconsin Law School graduate -- who went on to become Alaska's lieutenant governor and an unsuccessful Democratic party candidate for Governor in 2002. And yes, Fran was a mayor, too (Juneau, Alaska).

Sarah Palin's inclusion on the McCain ticket means this will be anything from a boring election. It will also educate the rest of the nation about Alaska's importance. Regardless of the outcome of the election in November, the nation will have benefitted from McCain's bold -- and long overdue -- step.

As for the Obamaniacs, they'd be well to heed the saying that Alaska's political landscape is littered with the bodies of those who underestimated Sarah Palin.

Baaacccckkkk!

A number of family, health and employment issues led to a summer hiatus here but it's time to get going again, perhaps on a more limited basis.

Thanks to all -- especially dad29 -- who E-mailed asking if everything was okay.