Saturday, August 28, 2010


Op-Ed Columnist



Published: August 27, 2010

America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants — Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?

Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.
Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
King: “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter.”
Beck: “I think the president is a racist.”
Washington was on edge on the morning of Aug. 28, 1963. The day was sunny and very warm and Negroes, as we were called in those days, were coming into town by the tens of thousands. The sale of liquor was banned. Troops stood by to restore order if matters got out of control. President John F. Kennedy waited anxiously in the White House to see how the day would unfold.
It unfolded splendidly. The crowd for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” grew to some 250,000. Nearly a quarter of the marchers were white. They gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were enthralled by the singing of Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez. The march was all about inclusion and the day seemed to swell with an extraordinary sense of camaraderie and good feeling.
The climax, of course, was Dr. King’s transcendent “I Have a Dream” speech. Jerald Podair, a professor of American studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, has called Aug. 28, 1963, “the most important single day in civil rights history.” This is the historical legacy that Glenn Beck, a small man with a mean message, has chosen to tread upon with his cynical rally on Saturday at that very same Lincoln Memorial.
Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation. He seems oblivious to the real danger of his execrable behavior. He famously described President Obama as a man “who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”
He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange figure who is separate and apart from — outside of — ordinary American life. As the watchdog group Media Matters for America has noted, Beck said of the president, “He chose to use the name, Barack, for a reason, to identify not with America — you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify, with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?”
Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck. And there is no road too low for him to slither upon. The Southern Poverty Law Center tells us that in a twist on the civil rights movement, Beck said on the air that he “wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us go to jail — just like Martin Luther King did — on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming.”
He makes you want to take a shower.
In Beck’s view, President Obama is driven by a desire to settle “old racial scores” and his ultimate goal is “reparations” for black Americans. Abe Lincoln and Dr. King could only look on aghast at this clown.
Beck has been advertising his rally as nonpolitical, but its main speaker is Sarah Palin. She had her own low moment recently as a racial provocateur, publicly voicing her support for Laura Schlessinger, radio’s “Dr. Laura,” who went out of her way to humiliate a black caller by continuously using the n-word to make a point, even after the caller had made it clear that she was offended.
Palin’s advice to Schlessinger: “Don’t retreat — reload.”
There is a great deal of hatred and bigotry in this country, but it does not define the country. The daily experience of most Americans is not a bitter experience and for all of our problems we are in a much better place on these matters than we were a half century ago.
But I worry about the potential for violence that grows out of unrestrained, hostile bombast. We’ve seen it so often. A little more than two weeks after the 1963 March on Washington, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan and four young black girls were killed. And three months after the march, Jack Kennedy was assassinated.
My sincere advice to Beck, Palin and their followers is chill, baby, chill.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 28, 2010, on page A19 of the New York edition.

TAG! Last one is 'it'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Got beer?

The Brunster
on a recent travel passed through Iowa, and kindly bought Dee a bottle of Iowa Beer Bread. It was the hit of the raccoon news office today.

Just add the powdered contents of the bottle to a bottle of regular beer (we chose
Rolling Rock, our favorite, from Latrobe PA), mix and bake.

The result, as one can plainly see, was excellent. Thanks, Kathy!
Oh, and you can use a regular opener.....

This is really happening, apparently:

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
August 28th is an important day in American history. On that day, forty-seven years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech" at the Lincoln Memorial. His message gave voice to the voiceless and his vision promoted a just, equal, diverse and compassionate country. This year, a very different message is going to be spread from the very ground on which King once stood.
Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will hold a rally at the Lincoln Memorial.The racist, raging and hate-filled tenor of Beck, Palin and the Tea Party movement is in direct contrast to the noble vision of Dr. King.
We cannot sit idly by and let King's vision and legacy be hijacked for political purposes.Dr. King once declared that "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter". Do not be silent on this matter. Honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's struggle for a just and equal America.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rated 100% by the National Rifle Association

Conservative Christian
campaigns in Arizona

say no more.......

Monday, August 23, 2010

Showing up (90% of everything) she took an offer she could not refuse:

Dee got a call
recently from the pastor's office at St Paul's UCC in Hubertus WI asking if she could fill-in for the vacationing friend, Rev. John Helt.
Dee said yes.With her expressive hands and a customarily well thought-out sermon
she was there at the appointed hour on Sunday morning, Aug. 22nd.

Dee filled the temporary vacancy for the man who called her to Milwaukee from Pleasant Valley Maryland, in 1981. She was then to be a Parish Worker through the help of the Board of Homeland Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
The Raccoon editor was serving at that time on the council of Friedens Church at 13th and Juneau. After getting one look at her photograph (and dossier) he lobbied strongly for her. Motion carried unanimously!
She came via train with two olive-drab army surplus rucksacks,
and the rest is history.......

St. Paul's church is beautiful in it's simplicity.

Dee gave a children's sermon early in the service. That is her forte, for her long-time post at her home church, First Congregational UCC in Waukesha, has been Christian Education and Faith Formation director.

We left after a post-service gracious coffee hour. The church like a lovely apparition disappeared in the rear view mirror.

Friedens Church Council president when Dee was called, Quinten Brien and his wife Laura, came from Delafield to hear Dee at old friend John Helt's new church, St. Paul's. Friedens was John's very first pastoral assignment out of seminary. That makes Quin a principal player in both Helt and Dee's presence in WI.
Anyone wishing to have the text of Dee's sermon, Email c/o

Saturday, August 21, 2010

If you believe this.....

(Man attacked by alligator while boating in the Mercury factory lagoon, FonduLac WI)
then, you'll believe this:
Visiting Tibetan teaches Mona to jump through a hoop.

'Selling is Everything'
Leland Dix

bought at the Farmers Market, Waukehs 8-21-10

Friday, August 20, 2010

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? (Old Uncle Norm saying)

Medium: Liquitex acrylic on a shingle

enlarge for reading

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is it

an advanced-stage cataracted raccoon eyeball
or, from the rich man's* Pic N Save on Tenny Ave and Sunset Dr.
a Rambutan?
It is a Rambutan. Dee bought it from the produce counterman who explained what it was, how to open it. Six something a pound. She bought one. This is it, above. We ate it. You eat the whole inner part (eyeball), including the kernel.
It was sort of good. Like a gumdrop with a peanut in the center. Will we buy any more?
Probably not.......
* Rich man's Pic N Save has this sort of fare. Should check if the poor man's Pic N Save carries Rambutans. That store is at Manhattan and Moreland, a decidedly poorer neighborhood and shopping radius.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A mother's advice is always the safest for a boy to follow

My Favorite August

Published: August 13, 2010 New York Times

The story in American history I most like to tell is the one about how women got the right to vote 90 years ago this month. It has everything. Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! Drunken legislators!

But, first, there was a 70-year slog.
Which is really the important part. We always need to remember that behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time.
That great suffragist and excellent counter, Carrie Chapman Catt, estimated that the struggle had involved 56 referendum campaigns directed at male voters, plus “480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters, 47 campaigns to get constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”
And you thought health care reform was a drawn-out battle.
The great, thundering roadblock to progress was — wait for the surprise — the U.S. Senate. All through the last part of the 19th century and into the 20th, attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution ran up against a wall of conservative Southern senators.
So the women decided to win the vote by amending every single state constitution, one by one.
There were five referenda in South Dakota alone. Susan B. Anthony spent more time there than a wheat farmer. But she never lost hope. The great day was coming, she promised: “It’s coming sooner than most people think.” I love this remark even more because she made it in 1895.
Sometimes I fantasize about traveling back through time and telling my historical heroes and heroines how well things worked out in the end. I particularly enjoy the part where I find Vincent van Gogh and inform him that one of the unsold paintings piled up over in the corner will eventually go for $80 million. But I never imagine telling Susan B. Anthony how well American women are doing in the 21st century because her faith in her country and her cause was so strong that she wouldn’t be surprised.
The constitutional amendment that finally did pass Congress bore Anthony’s name. It came up before the House of Representatives in 1918 with the two-thirds votes needed for passage barely within reach. One congressman who had been in the hospital for six months had himself carted to the floor so he could support suffrage. Another, who had just broken his shoulder, refused to have it set for fear he’d be too late to be counted. Representative Frederick Hicks of New York had been at the bedside of his dying wife but left at her urging to support the cause. He provided the final, crucial vote, and then returned home for her funeral.
The Senate failed to follow suit. But Woodrow Wilson, a president who had the winning quality of being very vulnerable to nagging by women, pushed the amendment through the next year. The states started ratifying. Then things stalled just one state short of success.
Ninety years ago this month, all eyes turned to Tennessee, the only state yet to ratify with its Legislature still in session. The resolution sailed through the Tennessee Senate. As it moved on to the House, the most vigorous opposition came from the liquor industry, which was pretty sure that if women got the vote, they’d use it to pass Prohibition. Distillery lobbyists came to fight, bearing samples.
“Both suffrage and anti-suffrage men were reeling through the hall in an advanced state of intoxication,” Carrie Catt reported.
The women and their allies knew they had a one-vote margin of support in the House. Then the speaker, whom they had counted on as a “yes,” changed his mind.
(I love this moment. Women’s suffrage is tied to the railroad track and the train is bearing down fast when suddenly. ...)
Suddenly, Harry Burn, the youngest member of the House, a 24-year-old “no” vote from East Tennessee, got up and announced that he had received a letter from his mother telling him to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt.”
“I know that a mother’s advice is always the safest for a boy to follow,” Burn said, switching sides.
We celebrate Women’s Suffrage Day on Aug. 26, which is when the amendment officially became part of the Constitution. But I like Aug. 18, which is the day that Harry Burn jumped up in the Tennessee Legislature, waving his mom’s note from home. I told the story once in Atlanta, and a woman in the audience said that when she was visiting her relatives in East Tennessee, she had gone to put a yellow rose on Harry Burn’s grave.
I got a little teary.
“Well, actually,” she added, “it was because I couldn’t find his mother.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What do you know?

The Beloit College Mindset List

for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.
For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”
4. Al Gore has always been animated.
5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.
9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.
10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.
11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.
16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.
22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.
23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.
24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.
25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.
26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.
29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.
30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.
31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.
32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.
35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”
38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.
40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.
41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.
43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.
44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.
46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
48. Someone has always gotten married in space.
49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.
50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.
51. Food has always been irradiated.
52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.
53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?
54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.
55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.
57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
58. Beethoven has always been a dog.
59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.
60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.
61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.
62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.
64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.
65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.
66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.
67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.
68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.
69. The Post Office has always been going broke.
70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.
71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.
73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.
74. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.
75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.
Beloit, Wis. – Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall’s entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.
The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.
Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

Sticks like........


Not having heard to the contrary from our advisory to the management of the Putney.........

we took matters into our own hands and rendered a repair to our refrigerator door, with not just generic 'duct tape' (as we'd informed management we could proffer), but super-dooper
Gorilla Tape (R). See Art Olson at Ace Hardware.
We venture to say that this reattachment of the shelf guard that broke off during a previous tenant's occupancy is going to hold long after we've gone.
This is some serious tape. We can recommend it to the handyman or woman. Enlarge image to read label
Once the food is put back on that shelf no one will be the wiser.
Photo furnished for landlord's file.

Mona Dix

Mona and the Owls
Does Mona miss the Resthaven owls
she had to duck when she lived on Arcadian?
In the Putney building, her new digs,
she sometimes needs to be reminded
of her blessed new state
of relative safety
(all things are relative)
and I in my instinct to preserve
her allegedly little mind
will periodically swoop down
and pick Mona up by the
scruff of her wee neck
and remind her of Jimi Hendrix's
Stairway to Heaven.
As we once said to her:

How many times must one say no
To a cat begging to go out
After hours

My reckoning of how many
Times I’ve leaned down to advise her

My disposition; for heaven’s sake
Do you want to hear those mighty descending wings
From the nocturnal sky? She glowers,

Having no imagination, I guess
And continues her pitiful begging to go out
And take her chances during the darkened hours

An owl will, believe me, WILL swoop down
And pick you, you tasty morsel, as if
You were nothing heftier than one of our flowers

Growing outside the door, in whose midst you slink and creep.
These owls are big with talons sinking deep,
They’ll carry you to a treetop; disembowelers

These owls are; your nemeses;
You don’t want to find yourself with great ease flying upward
By surprise, my pussy, to be sliced, diced, and devoured!

Like talking to a catter -wall;
At night a different creature;
She persists! “ Mee-ow, Mee-OW, MEE-OW!” Hers

To learn the hard beak way, but not on this watch!
Her bones and parts shant be reduced to pellets, trophies
Dropped under the Tamarack’s peacable bowers!

No is NO, my furry friend, reckon thyself lucky;
Yea, and compose and confine thyself;
Not to be an owl’s, your howls and bowels are ours!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

festive board

courtesy of Garrison Keillor
The Writer's Almanac
today's date


Lee rarely came up short

plays drums with high school jazz band
not short for damn sure
in any way then,
(now 6-2)...........

this morning
I'm listening to Buddy Rich's
Mercy Mercy
and hear Lee's drums
temporarily in storage

behind all the stuff
in front of them, they
in their zipped-up black carry cases
in the darkness........
I hear the wires on his snare

aw shucks, give us a wink......

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." -Sinclair Lewis

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Feng shui as we understand it:

Feng Shui
Feng Shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China . It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure the health and good fortune for people inhabiting it. "Feng" means "wind" and "shui" means "water" (pronounced fung-shway). In Chinese culture gentle wind and clear water have always been associated with good harvest and good health, thus "good feng shui" came to mean good livelihood and fortune, while "bad feng shui" came to mean hardship and misfortune. Feng Shui is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, particularly on the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy. The ancient Chinese believed that the land's energy could either make or break the kingdom, so to speak. The theories of yin and yang, as well as the five feng shui elements, are some of the basic aspects of a feng shui analysis that come from Taoism.

as practiced at the Putney building No. 311
to be continued

Blatant advertising vs restraint

Sometimes a cherry pie is just too excruciatingly beautiful to show in a photograph

Indeed we did have a slice of the Amish pie from this morning's farmers market immediately on returning home. It was too beautiful to look at directly. The great bread we get there also was OK to take a picture of. The two Amish girls awaiting the day's customers behind the counter were also unphotographical due to their own beliefs. If we feel bound to use our camera sparingly on them, the logic dictates that we can only represent a pie this beautiful via the trace elements on a cleaned plate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tempered unevenly

Czech baby given chance to spend first days on 'square' orientation

2010 vintage house built with sloping floors, intentionally.


(We live with that, too, in 1882 Odd Fellows Putney building. On top floor where the footing is challenging. Old plank floorboards, carpeted over, offer slopes.

We bees cool, too.......)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Commit to memory

Bravo, Julie Enslow

Shorewood, WI

From letter to editor, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 8-11-10

Click to enlarge for easier reading,


Sure. When........

Flying monkeys provide entertaining political distraction
reprinted from the Waukesha Freeman 8-11-10

You know the political season is getting started when you catch sight of your very first flying monkey. It lets you know the migration is under way. More are coming.
This year’s first flying monkey is a Republican talking point and it appeared in a cute commercial I saw last week. It shows Uncle Sam digging a big hole. A voice says the national debt is too big. A little girl appears at the edge of the hole and asks Uncle Sam to stop digging. The end. Looks good, right? Too much debt is bad for the country. I’m nodding and starting to consider sending in my tea party membership form – until the fine print appeared. The commercial was financed by something called the Employment Policies Institute. Hmm, says me. Where there’s flying monkeys there’s usually a wicked witch. There is.
This flying monkey will be the first of many howling about the national debt. The national debt will be this year’s O.J. Simpson trial. Like all effective propaganda, it’ll be diverting but irrelevant, make some of the participants lots of money and will be designed to circumvent the public interest. Mainly, this year, howling about national debt is intended to give us all amnesia.
The Republican Party needs to make the rest of us forget that they have no new ideas, that everything they’ve said in the last two years is a retread of the same economic policies that put us in the current mess we’re in. Maybe the tea party needs a new flag that says “Don’t Re-Tread on Me!” I’d fly that one.
For nearly 30 years Republicans have clung to an economic model grounded in the Wild West and an ethics grounded in “greed is good,” and they aren’t going to sober up just because they crashed the entire economy two years ago. Even though David Stockman (Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget) and Alan Greenspan have come out against current Republican economic strategies, nobody in the Party apparently wants to hear “last call” on the Bush Tax-Holiday they’ve been enjoying.
The best way to keep the party going is to make sure that their owners, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, continue to enjoy the good life – even if that means putting the deficit and our national debt, and the rest of us into an even deeper hole. Just like in the commercial. Get it? It’s perfect Rovian misdirection. They’re going to distract everyone this year by blaming Democrats for the national debt even though, historically, Republicans have not demonstrated any more restraint on spending than Democrats.
The distraction is already working. I’m afraid even Mr. Gannon, who appeared in a guest editorial last week to take issue with my column on Sen. Feingold’s record of fiscal responsibility, has been taken in by this attractively howling propaganda. He wrote that after 2006, while Democrats were in control of Congress, the national debt increased dramatically. From this it’s obviously the Democrats fault, right? Only partially. The observation is accurate but it’s more truthy, as Steven Colbert would say, than true. It overlooks the fact that although Congress passes bills, only a president can sign them into law. If, by contrast, we map U.S. presidents against increases to the national debt, in point of truthy fact, we find that the largest increases in history took place under presidents Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. In fact, as a percentage of GDP, the national debt has NOT INCREASED when a Democrat was president of the United States since 1945. Weird, right? I know. And yet, there it is. This is how flying monkeys work. It’s enough to make you wonder about what’s true – and that’s where we all have to begin: We have to wonder about what’s true and then go find out. But there are people who want to make this difficult for us and one of those people created that new commercial on the national debt. He isn’t a witch, so far as I know, but back in July 2007, “60 Minutes” called him “Dr. Evil.” I’m not making this up. His name is Rick Berman. Berman operates over 15 “advocacy” groups to promote the interests of his clients. He got his start working for the tobacco industry. He has a couple of anti-union websites, one specifically targeting teachers unions for working against the interests of teachers. There’s a monkey with wings on it. Oh, and one called “PETA kills animals” and a group that fights tightening laws against drunk driving. He was also the first to attack ACORN, on behalf of the restaurant industry, because ACORN supported a minimum wage the food industry opposed. And remember that flying monkey about minimum wages actually hurting the poor? That was one of his. In fact, the idea that a minimum wage is bad for the poor and would actually drive the poor out of the job market is the operational theme for the Employment Policies Institute, the same “group” that sponsored that cute flying monkey of a defeat-the-debt commercial. So, be careful around the flying monkeys this year. They aren’t dangerous by themselves, but they are distracting and, while you’re caught by the spectacle, one of them is likely to grab Toto.
And remember, they don’t work for you.
(by Mark Peterson, a West Bend resident and University of Wisconsin-Washington County philosophy professor, he also publishes at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To die for? Ocean cockroach?

When the raccoon editor

was in 8th grade

living with his father

Dad had had a few snorts

and brought home live lobsters

He put them down on the linoleum

and laughed crazily as they clattered

across the floor

then, he put a large kettle on to boil

and after blocking the lobsters'

escapes with his foot

the water roiled, and

he picked them up and insisted

as he had done at Army cannon firings

that the editor listen and watch

The lobsters

- as memory serves -

let out screams of pain

as they quickly expired

and turned red.

That contributes to the revulsion felt here when the chef we usually enjoy watching, Mark Bittman of the NY Times, produces this video above. We have consumed lobster brought cooked to a restaurant table, but due to price, not often. Indelible memories, we have many.........and they have made us what we are.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

anything within her power

a mother we know

with a magical touch

has a 10 year old boy

who knows what he wants/

coinciding with the death of his father

- the mother's husband -

the boy decided it was time to

put away childish things

and redecorate his bedroom/

he asked his mother for an aviation theme

and she like most mothers

would do anything for her child/


within her power

so she designed and executed

a book shelf wall unit

made in the shape of a tri-plane/

she set the boards at a banking angle

amd her son found an old propeller


the shelves are set against the

opposite wall

to keep the leaning books from falling off/

given the vicissitudes of life

this is one lucky little boy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blue awning, blue dress, blue eyes

Green was the color this early morn when we stepped down the stairs from our aerie across the street from the farmers' market.

The selling action supposedly begins at 7 AM but the vendors at 7:20 were still setting up their wares, and the Amish girl said she needed a cup of coffee to wake up, and sheepishly strode off to find some. There were few customers at that hour. That is the trick, go early!

We had already bought our loaf of long-proven-excellent bread from her. Her intensely blue and friendly eyes had recognized us from other visits.

Later in the morning, Dee went across to get some flowers for tomorrow's altar at church, per her custom. She ran into Wis Guthrie, who had stepped over from the nearby Avalon. Sorry we missed him. We've no doubt that he has spoken with the Amish girl as he makes his own rounds. He can spot a pretty girl, and he is Quaker. See

We would have told him that our old Maytag wringer washer is going to a new home in an Amish household. There was a picture of a wringer Maytag like ours taped to the Amish stand one day with the word, WANTED.

Having the raccoonery's machine still in storage at son David's house, and it being still unsold, we called the given number the other day and arranged for a man who drives the Amish around and does errands for them, including restoring machinery, to pick up the washer. We had a good long talk.

The raccoon news is not going to sell the Maytag to the Amish. Since Grandma's long-used and still working washer - the old Maytag commercials were right - is gathering unwarranted dust, we are donating it, gratis.

That feels much better to us than selling it to somebody who might use it for a non-functioning lawn planter.*

We recommend the Amish bread. Though we usually buy whole wheat at other places, we chose the white. You will find her stand at the intersection of the Fox river and Friedman St. off the 5 Points. Other bakery is sold there too; the sweet rolls are splendid!

* Why would the Amish want an electric washing machine since they do not use electricity? We're told they put gasoline engines in them.