You Don’t Understand, or You Do, And in Either Case We’re All Dead

The Journal Sentinel’s editorial board:  But it’s not the court’s fault that the governor and top lawmakers can’t work together for the common good. Nor is it the court’s job to set public health policy in Wisconsin. That’s the job of the governor and Legislature. So do your jobs, Gov. Tony Evers, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Adopt clear rules for the state moving forward. Do so now, so the novel coronavirus is contained. The governor issued rules and Republicans and the State Supreme Court blew them up. Yelling at them all to do their … Continue reading You Don’t Understand, or You Do, And in Either Case We’re All Dead

Shecky’s Bleak Week In Review: Not So Good Friday Edition

Greetings from Adrastos World Headquarters. There’s not a lot to report on the personal front. Dr. A has settled in to work at home with the occasional foray to the largely deserted Med School building. Not to worry, she essentially … Continue reading Shecky’s Bleak Week In Review: Not So Good Friday Edition

The GOP, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere, is Anti-Democracy

This is by design:  The bill includes plans to lower voter turnout by adding a third statewide election in the spring of 2020, even though it will cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars and local election officials have come out strongly against it. They want to make it harder to vote early, which will cost taxpayers millions more in legal costs. They want to take control of state economic development away from the governor’s office. They want to replace the elected attorney general with private attorneys hired by the legislative branch at additional expense to taxpayers. Is this democracy at work? I … Continue reading The GOP, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere, is Anti-Democracy

Go Tell That Midnight Rider

Don’t like the election results? Neuter them:  The lame duck legislation would, for example, prevent Mr. Evers from fulfilling a campaign promise to take Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. It will also diminish the governor’s control over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a scandal-ridden public-private agency created by Mr. Walker to foster job creation, by giving the legislature an equal number of appointees to the board as the governor and revoking the governor’s power to appoint the board’s chief executive. In 2011 the country ignored what was happening in Wisconsin, as a gerrymandered minority-majority … Continue reading Go Tell That Midnight Rider

If Jesus had been born in Wisconsin…

On this hallowed Christmas Eve, everyone in my house is pretty much asleep or trying to pretend to be in hopes of getting out of work in preparation for the Wigilla celebration tonight. As my wife and I kind of muttered our way awake, we ended up on a riff about traditions and food and Wisconsin and suddenly, we were into “What if Jesus were born here?” I did my best to document the answers (and augment with a few additional thoughts), so enjoy regardless of your faith, creed or lack thereof: If Jesus had been born in Wisconsin: He … Continue reading If Jesus had been born in Wisconsin…

Graduation Day

“Scars are souvenirs you never lose. The past is never far.” – Goo Goo Dolls, “Name” “My parents’ basement.” Those three words kept coming up this week as I met with student after student who planned to graduate Saturday. The phrase has become a metaphor that indicates success or failure, with fear driving 20-somethings desperately away from it. Am I going to find a job or will I have to live there? Will this job pay me enough or will I have to stay there? My dad keeps telling me I can’t move back in there, so I need to … Continue reading Graduation Day

An open letter to the Wisconsin JFC in support of counting professors’ hours and trimming waste

Dear Sen. Darling, Rep. Nygren and other members of the Joint Finance Committee, News reports have indicated that your group has included in its most recent version of the state budget some “controversial language” that would “require the University of Wisconsin System to monitor the teaching workload of every professor and adjunct instructor on campuses.” As a faculty member of one of these institutions, I can assure you that this is definitely an important measure and a valuable first step in eliminating governmental waste and employee sloth. As many of you know, having received degrees from some of these state … Continue reading An open letter to the Wisconsin JFC in support of counting professors’ hours and trimming waste

Rummage sales are life. The rest is just details.

The reason this post is late is because I spent the last hour and a half looking up everything I could find on Carry-Lite Duck Decoys manufactured in Milwaukee. Am I a hunter? No. Do I care about becoming a hunter? No. What the hell is wrong with me? A lot, it turns out. I picked up six of these decoys at a rummage sale today, so duck decoys have become my obsession of the moment. A friend in California is a hunter and mentioned how to locate interesting and valuable decoys at one point. A friend here noted that … Continue reading Rummage sales are life. The rest is just details.

UW Budget Cuts: There’s always a reason…

Every two years, Wisconsin Republicans come home and see that the UW burned the roast. Or left a mess in the kitchen… Or didn’t buy more beer… Or forgot to pick up the dry cleaning… There’s always a reason that when the budget comes along, and the UW System leaders ask for money, Republicans decide instead to smack it around and then cut higher ed in the state. Four years ago, it was the allegation that the UW had stockpiled more than $1 billion in its coffers without telling anyone. (Of course, that wasn’t true, but it was more than … Continue reading UW Budget Cuts: There’s always a reason…

The Problem of Whiteness meets the Problem with the Witless

It seems that Rep. David Murphy, who chairs the state’s committee on colleges and universities despite never having graduated from one, came out swinging against a course titled “The Problem of Whiteness.” This class is taught at UW-Madison, is an elective and is taught by professor Damon Sajnani, who has a Ph.D. in African-American studies from Northwestern. Murphy found the class – an elective, mind you – to be so disturbing he called for the entire UW System’s funding request to be yanked unless the class was cancelled:  Murphy, who is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, … Continue reading The Problem of Whiteness meets the Problem with the Witless

Promises, Promises

My dad held very few points of pride when it came to things he did or didn’t do. He never smoked at all, he doesn’t “owe anyone anything” when it comes to financial concerns and he didn’t make a promise he didn’t think he could keep. “If I said we’re going to do something, we did it,” he always told me. “If I said ‘No,’ I meant ‘No.” If it was ‘Maybe,’ anything could happen. But if I said we’re doing it, we did it unless something really changed the situation.” He wasn’t kidding. I asked to go to my … Continue reading Promises, Promises

Fitzgerald to MPS: Bitch, don’t make me hit you

I spent the last week watching the 30 for 30 documentary series “OJ: Made in America.” I have to admit it was intriguing, if not way, way, way too long. It’s been more than 20 years since the first O.J. trial and a time in which people like Marcia Clark, Kato Kaelin and Lance Ito all became nationally known names. For me, it was a bit like opening a box of stuff I found in the attic: It brought back memories, but didn’t provide me with a lot more than that on the whole. The one thing that it did … Continue reading Fitzgerald to MPS: Bitch, don’t make me hit you

Fun with statistics: Scott Walker Edition

The old adage goes that there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. In the wake of yet another “no confidence” vote against Gov. Scott Walker’s handpicked board of cronies regents and his “please don’t hit me, I won’t burn the roast again” system president, Ray Cross, Ol’ Deadeyes came out swinging this week. In advance of the UW-Milwaukee vote on a no-confidence measure, Walker issued a press release that was packed with numbers and data to show that faculty are out-of-touch crybabies who lack a sense of reality. He then peppered it with a couple great … Continue reading Fun with statistics: Scott Walker Edition

Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are

Spectators by Jim Flora.

We’re knee-deep in the El Nino season of 2015-16. I have a love-hate relationship with it: I love El Nino during hurricane season and hate it during the winter. The New Orleans metro area had a hellacious storm front last Tuesday. The city wasn’t impacted directly but there were nine confirmed tornadoes in the area that wreaked havoc in the outlying communities of Convent and LaPlace. It was like being an Okie for the day only without Jim Inhofe as your Senator. Of course, I have a whore monger and an empty suit as my Senators. so who am I to judge?

Before being uprooted for six weeks in 2005, the weather wasn’t a frequent topic of conversation in my house. For obvious reasons, I am now obsessed with the weather; so much so that I had twinges of PSTD when the wind was howling outside my door. Unlike Della and Oscar, I can’t hide under the bed when the weather sucks. I wouldn’t fit. Time for a brief meteorological musical interlude from the Brothers Finn:

I don’t really have a dog in the hunt in this year’s Oscar races. I suspect that wearing a beard and looking dirty and smelly will win Leonardo Decaprio his first Oscar. Handsome leading men have to ugly themselves up to be taken seriously viz George Clooney in Syriana. It’s a pity that Leo’s star turns in The Great Gatsby or The Aviator weren’t Oscarworthy but his duel with a bear in Revenant is. Of course, tangling with a bear did wonders for Daniel Boone’s career. Oh well, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Paul Newman won their Oscars for the wrong movies too. It’s a funny old world, y’all.

This week’s theme song, All The Things You Are, was composed in 1939 by Jerome Kern and features lyrics by his Show Boat writing partner, Oscar Hammerstein. It was long a favorite of Jazz musicians because of its melodic and harmonic complexity. Here are four distinctive takes on the song from some Jazz greats:

Now that I’ve provided you with a Kernel of substance, it’s time for the break after which I plan to Hammerstein it up some more.

Continue reading “Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are”

Let Them Eat Cake: Student-Loan Edition

Yeah, this is totally what students need to save them from debt: Gov. Scott Walker announced a legislative package on college affordability Monday that would eliminate the cap on student loan interest that borrowers can deduct from their state income tax, putting an average $165 extra in taxpayers’ pockets. The package of bills drawn up by Republican lawmakers also provides students with additional information about their student loans so they can make smart financial decisions, emergency assistance so they can stay in school and internship opportunities to connect students with Wisconsin employers.   First, this is pretty much like trying … Continue reading Let Them Eat Cake: Student-Loan Edition

The More We See, The Less We Know

Digital technology was supposed to make life easier for us and in many ways it has. Letters used to take days to arrive. Now, emails and texts bounce back and forth in seconds. Phones used to be anchored to walls. Now, we carry them everywhere. Typing used to require multiple carefully reworked drafts, as white-out and typos looked ugly. I rewrote that sentence three times in the time it would have taken for me to reinsert a piece of paper into my old IBM Selectric. And yet, when it comes to video, it’s almost made our lives worse, especially when … Continue reading The More We See, The Less We Know

Bring Out the Dead

We can’t let the corpses lie quiet when there are strip malls need building, you know:  Madison— Landowners could excavate and possibly develop some of the surviving Indian mounds of Wisconsin — many dating back more than a millennium — under legislation by two lawmakers. The bill from Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) would shift the balance of state law more toward private property rights and away from the preservation of one of the state’s unusual features. The earthen burial mounds, shaped like bears, deer, panthers, birds and people, can stretch hundreds of feet in length … Continue reading Bring Out the Dead

Wisconsin State Legislators (I Mean Their Photos) For Sale

Today in unintendedly hilarious things newspapers do on the Internet: The Wisconsin State Journal, like many newspapers, offers its photos for sale, for people who want prints of what appears in the paper. But they’ve done this by adding a “BUY NOW” link under every photo. Every. Photo. Including shots of elected officials. Inadvertent fail in attempt to make some quick cash or subtle statement on political corruption? We report, you decide. Hat tip: Mr. A. A. Continue reading Wisconsin State Legislators (I Mean Their Photos) For Sale

More Guns More Guns More Guns

I have never understood concealed carry. I grew up around hunters, guys who used guns like the instruments they are, instruments by which food can be gotten and eaten and a poor winter thus survived. Some of those guys went shooting for fun, respected their weapons, and modeled that respect for others. I do not have a gun phobia. But I don’t get concealed carry. The argument from the gun nuts goes something like this: If everybody can carry, then bad guys will be too scared of good guys to bring their guns to schools and movie theaters and stuff. … Continue reading More Guns More Guns More Guns

Politicians Have too LITTLE Power in Wisconsin Government, Apparently

Scott Walker agreed to take a pic w/this guy whose sign said “Walker 4 president,” but then he flipped it around… — Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) August 3, 2015 This is like giving whiskey and  car keys to 17-year-olds and then, when they wrap the Bronco around the neighbor’s tree, giving them more whiskey and a speedboat: Madison — Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature plan to restructure the agency that runs elections by the fall of 2016, when Walker hopes to top the ballot as a candidate for president. GOP lawmakers also plan to rewrite campaign finance laws for … Continue reading Politicians Have too LITTLE Power in Wisconsin Government, Apparently

An open letter to Scott Walker

Dear Governor Walker, Congratulations on finally declaring your candidacy for president, which was perhaps the world’s worst kept secret. It’s been pretty clear that, unless you had plans to complete a hostile takeover of Des Moines, you were spending a lot of time in Iowa to start the process of becoming “The Most Powerful Man In The World.” It’s also pretty clear that this is the start of your breakup with the state of Wisconsin. As Dan Bice’s recent story noted, you’re probably on your path to Palin-dom as a political outsider/defender of the faith for Fox News or the … Continue reading An open letter to Scott Walker

Scott Walker’s Lex Luthor Party

One thing we have to do immediately is prosecute whistleblowers:  The state budget passed this week by the Legislature repeals a law that encourages whistle-blowers with evidence of Medicaid fraud to come forward. Wisconsin has recovered millions of dollars from lawsuits initiated by whistle-blowers since the law was enacted in 2007. The repeal of the law — no more than a few words and a reference to a section in the state statute — was included in an omnibus motion on Medicaid by the Joint Finance Committee and drew little attention. There were no hearings or even public discussion by … Continue reading Scott Walker’s Lex Luthor Party

They Tell You What They Are: Wisconsin Republicans and the Open Records Attack Everyone Saw Coming

Wisconsin Republicans say SORRY NOT SORRY they were about to gut the state’s open records laws, and we’ll convene a committee to decide when to do this later so there won’t be so much  attention paid, and now let us get back to talking about how university professors are the root of all evil:  Faced with a swift and fierce backlash, Republicans Saturday abandoned a plan that would have gutted the state’s open records law. In a joint statement issued Saturday afternoon, Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislative leaders said the provisions relating to any changes to the law would … Continue reading They Tell You What They Are: Wisconsin Republicans and the Open Records Attack Everyone Saw Coming

Understanding Tenure

This might be the last post I’m able to accomplish for quite some time. I’m not sure what the future holds, now that the UW Regents brought to you by Carl’s Jr…. er… Scott Walker have failed to fight back against the plan to eliminate the state statute that protects professorial tenure. Those who have supported this move in the statehouse, especially Alberta Darling, whose name is an anagram for “Blaring Alert Ad,” have said this isn’t the elimination of tenure. Instead, it’s simply moving it from the state law to the regents’ control, so it’s the same basic thing. … Continue reading Understanding Tenure

An educational “outing” for the Republicans in the State of Wisconsin

It’s tough living with a secret that could force people to look at you in a different way. Friends and colleagues give you that “I thought I KNEW YOU!” look as they ponder their new reality. Some will denounce you for being that which you vehemently opposed. Others will quickly scramble to defend you with false-front excuses or seek to help you find a way to “repent for your sin.” Knowing all of this, many people with these deep secrets do their best to keep them quiet or disclose them only in passing to a few trusted members of an … Continue reading An educational “outing” for the Republicans in the State of Wisconsin

The Golden Handshake

My father often spoke in somewhat wistful tones about the concept of The Golden Handshake. It was offered on rare occasion to the men and women of his factory, an opportunity of a lifetime in many cases. The Golden Handshake was a buyout plan, but it was never pitched that way back at the factory. It was a “thank you” to a lot of the old guys and gals (usually guys, given the era) who had given a lot of their lives to the factory. It was a chance to retire with a bonus and a chance to leave on … Continue reading The Golden Handshake

GOP Don’t Care

Neil Heinen, ladies and gentlemen:   What is most disturbing is the image…the image of three Republican state legislators being escorted by security past protestors at the State Capitol Tuesday evening. And once again the nation watches news from Wisconsin and wonders what is going on in that state? It’s hard to imagine this is the impression Republicans are hoping will convince people to invest in Wisconsin. But by once again ram-rodding divisive policy through the legislature and short-circuiting the public-hearing process, lawmakers have created an atmosphere of frustration and anger. Frankly the suggestion that the protests were a public safety … Continue reading GOP Don’t Care