Turtle beats hare in US Senate

We like our politics 100-proof and unfiltered!

You may have suspected that the head groundskeeper at the Stately Manor is off his meds, as punch drunk as Pee Wee Herman on an all-night toot on the Vegas Strip. Now you have proof.

Blaska has a man crush on Mitch McConnell. More wily than the Warner Bros cartoon coyote. Master of his domain. Lord of the Rings. Waddles like a turtle but stings like a bee. What a joy to watch the man operate! Like that SNL skit, Mitch is the mohel performing a circumcision in a stolen car. Scalpel!

Watched the man hand Chuck Schumer his gonads over the rules debate Wednesday night 01-19-22. People, do not miss the greatest show on earth: legislative debate on a contentious issue. This week’s episode: that Democrats’ Vote Back Better bill, or whatever they’re calling it. The U.S. Senate again lived up to its reputation as the greatest deliberative body on earth. Only the British House of Commons is in the same league.

Mitch McConnell smirking

Live and in color

It’s all on C-Span, my go-to television channel. (It’s channel 742 on Spectrum here in Madison WI.) Unedited, unfiltered. No talking heads to tell us what we’ve just seen or what we must think Got to admit, tracking the arcanity of cloture is a bit tricky, even for this student of political witchcraft. Having lost the vote for cloture on a 50 to 50 straight-line party vote (needed 60 to end the filibuster), majority leader Schumer switched to vote with Republicans, allowing him to move for reconsideration. (We used to do that all the time on county board.) But Schumer lost Manchin and Sinema in a 48-52 vote on his proposal for a one-time rules carve out for the voting rights bill when he needed only a majority.

The turtle beats the hare  

Blaska may be batty but Trump is deranged. #45 has not forgiven McConnell castigating Trump as “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 insurrection. Just last month, Trump tweeted, “What is wrong with this broken old Crow? GET RID OF MITCH!” Problem for Trump (The Dispatch Reports) is that no one is taking him up on it, except for two outliers, one challenging Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and the other being disgraced Eric Greitens in Missouri. 

Fact is, Trump owes much of his presidency’s real successes to Mitch McConnell — including tax reform, three Supreme Court justices and hundreds of federal judges. That said, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson is not thrilled; Senate leadership gave him up for dead at his re-election bid six years ago.

Watch the man work here.

We get both sides of the filibuster debate; it’s not in the Constitution, as Angus King of Maine, a Democrat in Independent camouflage, explained. But McConnell scored points with a little history of his own. How Democrats filibustered sanctions against Putin’s pipeline and Tim Scott’s police reform bill. Or when Republicans regained the Senate in the 1994 Republican tidal wave, Tom Harkin of Iowa, a Democrat, proposed abolishing the filibuster. Every Republican senator voted to keep it, even though they had the majority and could have profited without it.

C-Span also has great book reviews and history lectures, Question Time in the UK’s House of Commons, presidential press conferences, campaign events. Watch it live, catch what you missed, look up bills on its website.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: If you enjoy chess or a close football game, watch the House and the Senate on C-Span.

Who is YOUR filter?

Posted in Republicans, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Could Madison go up, up and away?

Make no little plans …

… they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope …” — Daniel Burnham 1864-1912. 

Every once in awhile, Madison thinks big. The city and the state thought big when they replaced the burned out Capitol in 1906-17 with the most beautiful statehouse in the nation. Madison thought big again when it completed Monona Terrace in 1997. Brother Mike Blaska chaired the Dane County Board of Supervisors when the decision was taken five years earlier to partner with the City, Tommy Thompson, and private business. Monona Terrace jump-started the revival of what had been a moribund Downtown.

Now Madison is thinking about revitalizing the Lake Monona waterfront between Williamson Street and Olin Park. The Wisconsin State Journal explains:

The coming competition will invite designers to craft a master plan that would better connect Capitol Square and nearby neighborhoods to the lake, improve water quality and aquatic habitat, celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy and preserve the lake’s cultural history from the Ho-Chunk Nation to present.

Including pedestrian bridges or even a terraced park built over John Nolen Drive to the lakeshore, extending Law Park into the lake, creating better spots for shore fishing and other activities, expanding Monona Terrace, and a striking public boathouse and marina designed by Wright in 1893.

No little plans, indeed!

The Madison Common Council will be asked to authorize the design competition 02-01-22. A 13-member ad hoc committee would recommend a preferred master plan by September 2023. Blaska Policy Werkes hereby proposes (mouth the Griswold family Christmas Vacation drum roll) … an aerial tramway! 

Roosevelt Island Tramsway over New York City

It would run between Alliant Energy Center along Lake Monona to Monona Terrace — a distance of 3 miles. Would:

  • Integrate both venues for big shows like World Dairy Expo.
  • Be its own tourist attraction.
  • Help attract conventions and shows to Madison.
  • Operate regardless of weather.
  • Connect visitors to hotels, restaurants and entertainment on either end.
  • Utilize ample vehicle parking at Alliant Energy Center.
  • Alleviate surface traffic congestion on the narrow causeway.
  • Cost an arm and a leg!

Don’t fork me off!

Forking off John Nolen Drive along the railroad tracks toward Brittingham Park another 1.5 miles would take the tram to the Kohl Center, Camp Randall Stadium, and the University of Wisconsin — again connecting to parking at the fairgrounds, avoiding game-day traffic gridlock! (Map here.)

The indentured servants have taken the tramway in Albuquerque, which ascends 4,000 feet to the top of Sandia Peak. Imagine seeing Lake Monona and downtown Madison from on high! With stops to the hotels on the other side of John Nolen Drive and at Olin Park. For a nominal fee, of course. Can operate continuously for big events, on a limited schedule otherwise.

They’re big in Europe: 97 in Switzerland, 59 in Italy, 40 in Austria, 35 in France, 16 in Germany. Only 14 in the United States. Only one-third serve ski hills. (Trams v. gondolas.)

A one-mile aerial tram opened in Portland in 2006; it averages 6,000 riders per day in the summer. Round-trip ticket is $5. Cost $57 million — four times original estimates! Then again, Madison isn’t going up mountains. Only other passenger tramway in the U.S. is Roosevelt Island Tramway in NYC, built in 1976 and upgraded 12 years ago for $25 million. Each cabin holds 125 people.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Anyway, it’s a big idea.

What’s the big idea, fella?!

Posted in Madison city government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Headlines we don’t need to read

Must’ve been a slow news day!

We conjured a fair number of newspaper headlines back in our days as an ink-stained wretch. Needed to be epigrammatic to fit in the allowed space but compelling to attract readers. Action verbs, Anglo-Saxon words over multi-syllabic latinates. Alliteration for bonus points. Never attempted the bravado of the radio shock jock who began his newscast reporting on a highway accident: “HAMBURGER ON THE HIGHWAY!”

The New York tabloids are consistent winners. About the serially deviant Democrat Anthony Wiener the Daily Mirror wrote: “Same old schlong and dance.” (More goodies here.) Our favorite was caused by insufficient kerning — that is, spacing between words — analyzing the governor’s veto powers turned into something quite different. The page one headline in the Appleton Post Crescent: “Tommy Thompson’s penis mightier than sword.

Book cover: What liberal news media:
    I don’t see no liberal media!

Like Chuckles the Clown we enjoy a little seltzer down the pants with our song and dance. Except at the New York Post, Woke social justice scolds are wrecking the news business. We submit these headlines as Exhibits A in our indictment of PC journalism:

“British Sikh army officer becomes first woman of color to ski solo to the South Pole.” — Who does that still leave?

“The radical normalcy of a trans ‘Jeopardy!’ winner.” Where else but the New York Times?  Do they still get the Rodgers discount?

“Madison celebrates adult crossing guard recognition week”City of Madison. Cue Kool and the Gang! Celebrate good times, come on!

White Man's Law book cover
    Book we are so NOT reading!

“Dane County launches study of equity and inclusion in parks, Vilas Zoo”Madison365. The Lion sleeps tonight, but with whom? 

“Wisconsin’s only gas station owned by a black woman has been sold — to another black woman.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Does Ripley’s Believe It Or Not know about this?!

“Patton Oswalt defends his longtime friendship with Dave Chappelle.”CNN. If Oswalt succumbs to PC pressure, can we take his place?

“Michelle Obama’s urgent message about this year’s midterm elections.” — Not so urgent that we can’t skip it. CNN (of course).

Kids book about systemic racism
                    Child abuse

“What we can learn from Portland’s Queen of the Bolsheviks.” — That communism still fails, dear comrades at The Nation.

“How climate change and Covid are transforming skiing.” — If we don’t wear face masks, it will change bowling.

Comedian confronts Matt Gaetz about January 6.” We’ll wait for the “Matt Gaetz confronts comedian” story.

“Do I have to read my child anti-racist books, even when they’re bad?”NY Times. Hey, ever heard of Father Flanagan? No such thing as a bad boy! Oh, it’s the books that are bad?

“How to recognize and combat implicit bias at work.” — MSNBC. “Winston Smith, report to the personnel office!”  

“Martin Luther King Jr. and the unfinished work of abolishing poverty.”John Nichols. Don’t forget the unfinished work of abolishing crime, unwed parenthood, substance abuse, and school truancy. Or do socialists really believe you just pass a law?

“Protecting voting rights isn’t enough to save democracy.”Vox. Progressives! They’re never satisfied.

“Adam Schiff says …” Nope. The Werkes is a No Adam Schiff zone.

Blaska’s Bottom Feeder Headline: “Waukesha will hold a moment of silence today, marking one week since a car drove through a city Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring scores of others” — CNN. Quick, John Chisholm, arrest Elon Musk!!

What’s your gonna-skip-it headline?

Posted in News media bias, Uncategorized | Tagged | 9 Comments

The latest Democrat(ic) hoax: voter repression

Ramming speed!

Since the demise of Build Back Better, our Progressive … acquaintances have moved past Doomsday for the Planet. Like weirdos on street corners, they now predict The End of Democracy As We Know It! Republicans are going to steal our elections and put Bull Connor or some other segregationist Democrat on a postage stamp if we don’t nationalize elections by passing Chuck Schumer’s Freedom to Vote Act.

VOTER participation by state
On this Martin Luther King Day our favorite Madison daily newspaper screams in 72-point type on Page One:

‘Voting Rights at Risk!’

Only Democrat(ic) Gov. Tony Evers is preventing  Republicans from burning down the church with little girls in it, the typically biased AP story suggests.

Jay Heck of Wisconsin Common Cause is on board. Writing in Sunday’s fish wrap, Mr. Heck damned “the Republican-run Legislature and its Ronald Reagan-wannabe Gov. Scott Walker” for “ramming through the most extreme and restrictive photo ID law in the country.” (Gosh, we miss the Gipper!) Heck hyperventilates:

“Since the voter photo ID law went into effect in 2016, thousands of Wisconsinites have been unable to vote because of difficulties obtaining one of the required forms of photo ID.”

We say, Name one!

Mr. Heck could not provide statistics but the Werkes will. Wisconsin went wild and crazy for Barack Obama in 2008 — 72.4% of age-eligible voters cast a ballot for President that year. A ticket of Trump versus Hillary tamped down excitement in 2016 but 75.5% turned out for the 2020 election — the highest turnout in at least 20 years. Voter turnout for the governor’s race in 2018 was also the highest this century, despite the Reagan wannabe’s supposed voter repression.

Another metric: Only one state exceeded Wisconsin’s voter participation in the 2020 presidential election! Our 75.5% was head and shoulders above the 66.2% of the nation as a whole.

Voter % in WI is up

Election Reform Theater

“I’ve been trying to imagine some kind of strategic vision behind the Biden administration’s recent decision making — the strange pivot from the stalled-out Build Back Better negotiations to election reform theatrics, in which a president with miserable approval ratings managed to advertise his own political weakness and alienate potential negotiating partners, all in the service of legislation remote from most Americans’ immediate concerns and unlikely to address the genuine problems in the system.” — Ross Douthat, New York Times.

Mystery Science theory silhouette

Can’t be cost. Photo I.D.s — like butterflies — are free. Wisconsin accepts 11 different forms of I.D.s and allows no-excuse absentee voting and early voting. Republicans want to outlaw ballot harvesting by political operatives, end the “indefinitely confined” loophole, and prevent billionaires like Jeff Zucker from subsidizing elections. Hardly Jim Crow! (More here.)

→ It’s a balancing act. One university study places Wisconsin voting laws as the 25th most accommodating; in the middle of the pack. Equally important is the integrity of the ballot box. On that metric, Wisconsin elections are the 8th most secure.

Heck posits that Republicans want to dampen turnout because it’s the only way they can win. Another Democrat shibboleth dispelled. “It was long thought that surges in voting would help Democrats. So how does the party explain Glenn Youngkin’s victory?” New York Times reporter Reid Epstein asksAt least 25% more votes were cast than in any governor’s race in [Virginia’s] history. What’s more, voters separately elected a black Republican woman as second in command and a Latino as Republican attorney general.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Why Democrats think that black and brown voters can’t get a photo voter I.D. is … well, kind of racist.

Remember when Democrats said the Ruskies
hacked voting machines to elect Trump? (Good times.)

Posted in Election 2022, election challenges, Tony Evers | Tagged , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Ald. Benford is not reconciled to the truth

Climbing the Tower of Babel 

A follow-up to “Guilt-ridden Madison …”: Madison’s Equal Opportunities Commission Thursday evening 01-13-22 postponed acting on Ald. Brian Benford’s “Truth and Reconciliation process” — a thinly veiling trojan horse for reparations.

His proposed ordinance is so insular for Folk that are Woke that it is written in insider acronyms. This preening exercise in social justice is reserved for “BIPOC residents and organizations in a citywide effort to address and repair the harms perpetuated on BIPOC individuals and communities.” For our platinum subscribers, BIPOC stands for “black, indigenous, and people of color.” (More thoroughly defined here.) In other words, another taxpayer-supported exercise in segregation.

Not that BIPOCs speak with the same forked tongue.

Tower of Babel

Truth and Reconciliation got good and unreconciled right off the bat. Ald. Arvina Martin played her membership card in the Ho Chunk nation. “I would like a resolution like this to be fully inclusive … …but he [Ald. Benford] doesn’t have the same experience with my community and I don’t have the same experience with his community.” Plus, Martin said she “would like …more under-represented groups.”

Benford, who identifies as black (we don’t know his pronouns) genuflected at this diversity coup de main. “I follow a path of cultural humility and maybe the Ho Chunk want to do their own process.”

We can only speculate on what kind of “repairs” are in store for Madison taxpayers — many of whom are guilty only of voting these people into office. Evanston IL, home to Northwestern University, already pays reparations.

Iowa City has Truth and Reconciliation but, like Madison’s Civilian Police Oversight Board, can’t get anyone to run the thing. (Iowa is offering $198,000/year!) Last September, an Iowa City group called the Black Voices Project showed up to oppose T&R itself. “The current membership of the [T&R], as well as the majority of the city council, is out of sync with the wide cross-section of the black community that does not support this,” their leader said, according to that college town’s daily newspaper. That’s after Iowa City’s black mayor suspended the effort in March 2021 after months of in-fighting. (More here.)

Ald. Brian Benford

Benford, need we say, is a piece of work. As a good progressive, he opposes police body-worn cameras because they might exonerate police. At this week’s city Public Safety Review Committee, observe what the alder takes as givens. “It is worth asking whether investing limited municipal resources in body cameras will address the root problems fueling police violence and white supremacy.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: One gets the idea that Truth and Reconciliation will also dissolve into internecine acrimony like the Tower of Babel. A perfect fit for Madison WI. Bring popcorn.

Anyone else think that Ald. Brian Benford is a root problem?

Posted in Critical Race Theory / Identity politics, Madison city government, Progressives | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Lawsuit seeks return of Confederate Rest monument

Did not glorify the South’s Lost Cause. 

A Madison attorney is contesting the City of Madison’s removal of the memorial stone at Confederate Rest cemetery on 04-10-2018 (and reaffirmed on 05-11-2018) as a “desecration.” It was one of the city’s first me-too cancel culture victories, taken in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which exploded after the removal of monuments celebrating secession.

Madison attorney Todd Hunter names then-mayor Paul Soglin and all 20 members of the Common Council in his civil lawsuit filed 12-30-2021 in Dane County Circuit Court.

The complainant seeks the return of the monument to Confederate Rest, located on the eastern boundary of Forest Hill Cemetery on Madison’s near west side. He also seeks $25,000 for unauthorized disturbance of a gravesite, desecration of a cemetery, and “discriminating against the dead buried at Confederate Rest because of their ancestry.” The awards would be dedicate for the preservation of the cemetery.

Confederates Rest monument gravestone

Union veterans dedicated it

Hunter is also seeking to restore what he terms a grave marker — the bronze plaque at ground level at the entrance. That’s the one that referenced “unsung heroes” and “fought valiantly” and was removed earlier. The suit also wants to overturn the ban on flying the Confederate battle flag over the cemetery, which is the northernmost burial of Confederate casualties, the final resting place of some 140 who perished as prisoners of war at Madison’s Camp Randall after the capture of Island #10 on the Mississippi River in 1862.

The stone was dedicated with brass bands and speeches on June 1906, led by the local unit of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans advocacy organization for soldiers who fought on the Union side. Two years later, Congress authorized the placement of the individual stone grave markers that remain today. Notably, the stone glorifies no victorious general. It bears only the names of the dead and the inscription:

Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of Confederacy
to Alice Whiting Waterman and her boys

She is the Madison woman and former hotelier who tended the neglected gravesite, eventually attracting the patronage of Gov. Cadwallader Washburn, a Union general who served under Grant at Vicksburg, Later, Gov. Lucius Fairchild took up the cause; he lost an arm at Gettysburg and later became national commandant of the G.A.R. Fairchild remained a staunch supporter of Reconstruction and criticized fellow Republican Rutherford Hayes for ending the effort in 1877.

Mrs. Waterman’s dream

… was to replace the weathered wooden boards that served as grave markers with a permanent stone. After she died at the home of Union Captain Frank Oakley on Carroll Street in 1897, where she was housekeeper, the captain — then a U.S. marshal — enlisted the help of Major Hugh Lewis to solicit funds from Confederate veterans and family members of the deceased. Major Lewis was then sergeant at arms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lewis lost his arm at Gettysburg, as well. The money raised was sent to Oakley in Madison, who contracted with a local stone mason.

Hunter’s complaint details that history and much more in his 90-page complaint. Himself a former candidate for mayor, Hunter claims the defendant city officials used “malicious rhetoric” that falsely tied the large gravestone to the “nefarious Lost Cause” wherein some in the south attempted to justify the rebellion and slavery. More history here.

Blaska’s Bottom LineThe stone was hauled away on 01-11-2019, over the objections of the city Landmarks Commission. Two years later, a glacial boulder known as the Chamberlin Rock was hauled away because a newspaper story referenced a racial slang and NAACP champion Fredric March’s name expunged from his alma mater.

How do YOU think a Dane County judge will rule?

Posted in Confederate Rest, Madison city government | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments