Monday, February 28, 2011

Owl eye?

That's what I thought when I saw this photo in John Schoenknecht's Waukesha Freeman article about Tony and Andrea Bryant and their historic Bryant home called Early Hill in Waukesha.

But it was not an owl, it was the view down the abandoned well on their property, a well that was 1800's-laid using the mortarless method, where the stones are selected for shape and piled one on top of the other, after study. There is no mortar used whatsoever. That is a lost art requiring great skill.

Thanks to John S. for this image


Last night was Oscars night. As previously stated in the news, PS 22 chorus was featured in the finale. Fortunately it is available on Utube, as presented here:

Other SRN postings on this chorus have been:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Club Manager

by Dave Morrison

His office is above the stage
behind a thick scarred wooden door
a desk piled high with bills, receipts
a small safe bolted to the floor
Envious friends say "Man, how sweet
to be the guy behind the Scene!"
He puts aside the payroll page –
it's time to fix the ice machine.

The overhead is suffocating;
electric, rent, insurance, beer
the mobbed-up dumpster, glassware, liquor
mics / cables / amps / repair
advertising, ASCAP sticker
bar staff, wait staff, bouncers, sound
(the owner talks of relocating –
he might as well just burn it down)

Bands talk of blood and sweat and tears
they want more money, better dates
He knows that if they don't sell drinks
there's no point to unlock the grates
Sometimes, worn-out, alone, he thinks
‘I'm through, I can't last one more week'
but reconsiders when he hears
cheers, clapping, whistles, stamping feet.

"The Club Manager" by Dave Morrison, from Clubland. © Fighting Cock Press, 2011.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sanguine Raccoon again forwards Robert Reich:

The Republican Shakedown

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

24 Febraury 11

ou can't fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top - and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation's bills - Republicans will convince people it's all about government and unions.

Republicans claim to have a mandate from voters for the showdowns and shutdowns they're launching. Governors say they're not against unions but voters have told them to cut costs, and unions are in the way. House Republicans say they're not seeking a government shutdown but standing on principle. "Republicans' goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government," says House leader John Boehner, "not to shut it down." But if a shutdown is necessary to achieve the goal, so be it.

The Republican message is bloated government is responsible for the lousy economy that most people continue to experience. Cut the bloat and jobs and wages will return.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but for some reason Obama and the Democrats aren't responding with the truth. Their response is: We agree but you're going too far. Government employees should give up some more wages and benefits but don't take away their bargaining rights. Private-sector unionized workers should make more concessions but don't bust the unions. Non-defense discretionary spending should be cut but don't cut so much.

In the face of showdowns and shutdowns, the "you're right but you're going too far" response doesn't hack it. If Republicans are correct on principle, they're more likely to be seen as taking a strong principled stand than as going "too far." If they're basically correct that the problem is too much government spending why not go as far as possible to cut the bloat?

The truth that Obama and Democrats must tell is government spending has absolutely nothing to do with high unemployment, declining wages, falling home prices, and all the other horribles that continue to haunt most Americans.

Indeed, too little spending will prolong the horribles for years more because there's not enough demand in the economy without it.

The truth is that while the proximate cause of America's economic plunge was Wall Street's excesses leading up to the crash of 2008, its underlying cause - and the reason the economy continues to be lousy for most Americans - is so much income and wealth have been going to the very top that the vast majority no longer has the purchasing power to lift the economy out of its doldrums. American's aren't buying cars (they bought 17 million new cars in 2005, just 12 million last year). They're not buying homes (7.5 million in 2005, 4.6 million last year). They're not going to the malls (high-end retailers are booming but Wal-Mart's sales are down).

Only the richest 5 percent of Americans are back in the stores because their stock portfolios have soared. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has doubled from its crisis low. Wall Street pay is up to record levels. Total compensation and benefits at the 25 major Wall St firms had been $130 billion in 2007, before the crash; now it's close to $140 billion.

But a strong recovery can't be built on the purchases of the richest 5 percent.

The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn't be broke. If Governor Scott Walker hadn't handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, Wisconsin wouldn't be in a budget crisis. If Washington hadn't extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn't look nearly as bad.

And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top - for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year - the budget would look even better. We wouldn't be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn't be in a tizzy over Social Security. We'd slow the rise in healthcare costs but we wouldn't cut Medicare. We'd cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses but we wouldn't view the government as our national nemesis.

The final truth is as income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. The reason all of this is proving so difficult to get across is the super-rich, such as the Koch brothers, have been using their billions to corrupt politics, hoodwink the public, and enlarge and entrench their outsized fortunes. They're bankrolling Republicans who are mounting showdowns and threatening shutdowns, and who want the public to believe government spending is the problem.

They are behind the Republican shakedown.

These are the truths that Democrats must start telling, and soon. Otherwise the Republican shakedown may well succeed.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sometimes at night, Festooned:

Far beneath the soaring Putney building
in downtown Waukesha

Passersby on the street
look up and think they see the constellation FOX
discernible in the starry sky....

Ce n'est rien?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Modern day loaves and fishes

Pizza for Madison Demonstrators

By Jim Stingl, MIlw. Journal-Sentinel


Ryan Shepard, a librarian from Maryland, has never been to Wisconsin. But he's feeling angry and fearful about Gov. Scott Walker's plan to gut public employee unions.">So he sent a pizza to the tireless demonstrators.

Kristin Hanna is a teacher in River Falls who took a personal day last week to join the protest at the Capitol. She wished she could have stayed longer.

So she sent two pizzas.

Paige Mission is a graduate student at UW with an apartment one block from the Capitol. She spent a night in the rotunda to support the cause and was amazed by how many people she found sleeping there.

So she went online and opened her apartment to any demonstrators who might want to nap or shower there. So far she's had no takers. Many other locals are offering rooms, couches and rides.

"I feel really strongly about what people are doing out here. I want to be able to do as much as I can," said Mission, who came here from California.

Internet networking sites have organized protests throughout the Middle East, and now they're creating a generous support network for the pro-union throng in Madison, including hundreds of free pizzas paid for by people from all over the world. It's a modern-day version of the loaves and fishes.

Scott Leahy from California contacted super-busy Ian's Pizza in Madison and paid for three pizzas for protesters. He told them they could give some to the tea party counterdemonstrators, too. "I said just to tell them it was union money paying for the pizza, but that shouldn't bother a single one as they are all used to sucking off benefits union men and women fought and died to win for them," he posted on Ian's Facebook site.

The retired Department of the Navy worker told me he grew up in northern Illinois and still loves to vacation in Wisconsin. "This new governor wants to undo 100 years of political reform," he told me. "I utterly oppose the plan to do away with collective bargaining."

Every pizza comes with a story. The lucky recipients are told the donor's name and where he or she is from. If the pizza from Shepard could talk, here's what it would say:

"I believe that this is the opening of a new front in the right's long-standing, well-funded effort to destroy or privatize all public services, and to inflate the already obscene wealth of the elites they represent by beggaring working people and pitting us against one another," Shepard said. "If Walker's ilk aren't stopped in Madison, we're likely to be fighting them in Annapolis soon enough."

Hanna paid $50, including a $10 tip, for two large pizzas. She doesn't consider herself a political person or very outspoken. She cried over the phone when she talked about the negativity she's been hearing about teachers supposedly being greedy and overpaid.

"When people say we don't care and that we're horrible, it really hurts," she told me.

Don Watson from Georgia bought two pizzas for the protesters, one from him and his wife, and one from an unemployed friend. Watson is a retired computer guy and disabled due to vision problems. To him, this struggle is about working people supporting one another, union or not.

"I was straining to figure out how I could stand with my neighbors in Wisconsin. I couldn't find a way to get there. I decided if I could not stand with them, I would feed them," he said.

The way pizza donor Colette Marine Lindemann sees it, the budget-repair bill is union busting, and those fighting against it need to keep up their strength. For this Cincinnati-area woman, even old rivalries have been put aside in the name of solidarity.

"As a Northwestern Wildcat through and through," she said, "I never thought I'd say this with such pride, but 'On, Wisconsin!' "

Pizza video To see videos of Ian's Pizza and other videos with Jim Stingl columns, go to Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at


Raccoon News says BRAVO!

Monday, February 21, 2011

You can be short and still get it right

The Republican Strategy

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

19 February 11

he Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class - pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don't believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich - making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.

The strategy has three parts.

The Battle Over the Federal Budget

The first is being played out in the budget battle in Washington. As they raise the alarm over deficit spending and simultaneously squeeze popular middle-class programs, Republicans want the majority of the American public to view it all as a giant zero-sum game among average Americans that some will have to lose.

The President has already fallen into the trap by calling for budget cuts in programs the poor and working class depend on - assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.

In the coming showdown over Medicare and Social Security, House budget chair Paul Ryan will push a voucher system for Medicare and a partly-privatized plan for Social Security - both designed to attract younger middle-class voters.

The Assault on Public Employees

The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn't cause these budget crises - state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession - but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.

Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio's Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, "I'm attacking the leadership of the union because they're greedy, and they're selfish and they're self-interested."

The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they've caused these budget crises, but it's also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don't, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education - even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.

Bargaining rights for public employees haven't caused state deficits to explode. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights, such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, are running big deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many states that give employees bargaining rights - Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana - have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Republicans would rather go after teachers and other public employees than have us look at the pay of Wall Street traders, private-equity managers, and heads of hedge funds - many of whom wouldn't have their jobs today were it not for the giant taxpayer-supported bailout, and most of whose lending and investing practices were the proximate cause of the Great Depression to begin with.

Last year, America's top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains - at 15 percent - due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.

If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society - thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let's make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?

The Distortion of the Constitution

The third part of the Republican strategy is being played out in the Supreme Court. It has politicized the Court more than at any time in recent memory.

Last year a majority of the justices determined that corporations have a right under the First Amendment to provide unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission is among the most patently political and legally grotesque decisions of our highest court - ranking right up there with Bush vs. Gore and Dred Scott.

Among those who voted in the affirmative were Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Both have become active strategists in the Republican party.

A month ago, for example, Antonin Scalia met in a closed-door session with Michele Bachman's Tea Party caucus - something no justice concerned about maintaining the appearance of impartiality would ever have done.

Both Thomas and Scalia have participated in political retreats organized and hosted by multi-billionaire financier Charles Koch, a major contributor to the Tea Party and other conservative organizations, and a crusader for ending all limits on money in politics. (Not incidentally, Thomas's wife is the founder of Liberty Central, a Tea Party organization that has been receiving unlimited corporate contributions due to the Citizens United decision. On his obligatory financial disclosure filings, Thomas has repeatedly failed to list her sources of income over the last twenty years, nor even to include his own four-day retreats courtesy of Charles Koch.)

Some time this year or next, the Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the nation's new healthcare law is constitutional. Watch your wallets.

The Strategy as a Whole

These three aspects of the Republican strategy - a federal budget battle to shrink government, focused on programs the vast middle class depends on; state efforts to undermine public employees, whom the middle class depends on; and a Supreme Court dedicated to bending the Constitution to enlarge and entrench the political power of the wealthy - fit perfectly together.

They pit average working Americans against one another, distract attention from the almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and power at the top, and conceal Republican plans to further enlarge and entrench that wealth and power.

What is the Democratic strategy to counter this and reclaim America for the rest of us?

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's happening in Madison?


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Electric drag-racing

from son of raccoon editor

What did we see today?

What Did We See Today?

by Robert Bly

Some days we are passive, listening to the incoming waves.
On other days, we are like a light that sweeps
Out over the husky soybean fields all night.

What did we see today? Horses at the end
Of their tethering ropes, the wing of affection going over,
Flying bulls glimpsed passing the moon disc.

Rather than arguing about whether Giordano Bruno
Was right or not, it might be better to fall silent
And lose ourselves in the curved energy.

We know how many men live alone in their twenties,
And how many women are married to the wrong person,
And how many father and sons are strangers to each

It's all right if we keep forgetting the way home.
It's all right if we don't remember when we were born.
It's all right if we write the same poem over and over.

Robert, I don't know why you talk so confidently
About yourself in this way. There are a lot of shady
Characters in this town, and you are one of them.

"What Did We See Today?" by Robert Bly, from Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey. © W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.

Reprinted with permission.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


IN THIS ECONOMY, certain elementary school teachers are taking steps to put books in the hands of their disenfranchised students. In our son's Houston TX school, where funds are tight, Lee, aka 'Mr. D' to his kids, has just successfully acquired funds through a matching fund program called DONORS CHOOSE( to buy several books to help his English as second language 5th grade girls learn the basics of reading. This will better equip them to navigate through their math curriculum that Lee, as a Teach for America teacher, has chosen.
Lee has just managed to get a lot of books for his pupils, 'the College Rockets' as they are known.

Read more:

15 hours agoMr. D. the Teacher

Dear Denise Dix,

WOW! This was funded in merely 2 days and you are all so amazing for helping out.
My students will be so excited tomorrow when I tell them this great news. They are very gracious and kind young ladies and will absolutely respect these materials.

You all value literacy, and they know it is an important step to their success. We have the motto of being 'College Rockets on a Mission' and these graphic novels will help them realize that reading isn't just to pass a test, or something you do to get to college, but reading can be fun!

I can't thank you enough, my friends, supporters, and kind strangers.

With gratitude,
Mr. D.


Here are the books Mr. D got for his students:

Attack of the Mutant Lunch Lady: A Buzz Beaker Brainstorm ScAKJ Books$3.861$3.86
Coraline Graphic NovelAKJ Books$7.791$7.79
Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 9: Skin Deep Mike Deodato Jr. (ArAKJ Books$7.791$7.79
A Midsummer Night''s Dream (Illus. Classics) HARDCOVERAKJ Books$15.561$15.56
Queen of the World!AKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Musical, TheAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Babymouse 11AKJ Books$4.671$4.67
Babymouse 13AKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Our HeroAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Beach BabeAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Babymouse: Rock StarAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
HeartbreakerAKJ Books$4.671$4.67
Camp BabymouseAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Skater GirlAKJ Books$5.451$5.45
Puppy LoveAKJ Books$4.671$4.67
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Illus. Classics)AKJ Books$7.761$7.76
Benjamin FranklinAKJ Books$6.201$6.20
Count of Monte Cristo Paperback BookAKJ Books$6.981$6.98
Gulliver''s Travels (Illus. Classics)AKJ Books$7.761$7.76
Hamlet (Illus. Classics)AKJ Books$7.761$7.76
Romeo and Juliet (Illustrated Adaption)AKJ Books$7.761$7.76
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Box of Books Jeff KinneyAKJ Books$43.681$43.68
Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish Neil Gaiman, Dave MckeAKJ Books$14.031$14.03
Nancy Drew Boxed Set: Graphic Novels Volumes 1-4 Stefan PetrAKJ Books$23.361$23.36
LA686 - The Book CenterLakeshore Learning$79.001$79.00
Vendor Shipping Charges ?$0.00
State Sales Tax ?$0.00
3rd Party Payment Processing Fee ?$4.45
Fulfillment Labor & Materials ?$35.00
Project Cost Excluding Donation to Support$336.35
Optional Donation to Support ?$59.36
Project Cost Including Donation to Support ?$395.71
Partner Funding Offer-$197.86
9 Donors-$197.85
To Go$0.00
Grades 3-5