Saturday, November 3, 2012

Warrior politics

We are nearing what will be perhaps the most important election of our lifetime. I have spent considerable time lately reflecting on the political viewpoints of my brothers and sisters in the police and fire services, as well as those who serve our great nation in the armed forces.  I have watched the GOP assault on public workers across the country, and have watched a Republican House of Representatives block one bill after another designed to assist our nation's veterans.  After careful consideration, I have become convinced that many in my profession have been voting against their own interests.  On the eve of this election, I feel it is time to frankly acknowledge a harsh truth:  today's Republican party is no friend to our country's law enforcement officers or soldiers.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bread and Circuses

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately"

                         -Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776

Last year, in a highly publicized series of events, Scott Walker ended the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in Wisconsin.  What was less well publicized were massive cuts to public education that came in the budget that followed Act 10.  These cuts would eventually total over a billion dollars, and were some of the highest cuts per pupil in the entire nation.  

Based upon Wisconsin's history of tremendous public schools, I would have expected that these draconian and unnecessary cuts would have brought people in the streets much like the attack on public sector workers had.  In addition to losing their collective bargaining rights, our teachers would see class sizes increase and resources dwindle.  Every parent that has a kid in public school had a stake in this situation, as did every employer that relies on a workforce educated in Wisconsin. Yet there has been relative silence since the protests around Act 10 ended.  

In my more frustrated and cynical moments, I would routinely remark to my wife that the one scenario that would finally cause outrage would be if the budget cuts resulted in high schools disbanding football teams.  I feel safe in saying that if this occurred, Wisconsinites would absolutely lose their minds.

Monday, September 3, 2012


"A rising tide lifts all boats"

                -John F. Kennedy, 1963

Today is labor day.  This should be a day of celebrating the achievements of the labor movement in providing dignity and a voice for all workers, yet this year I am filled with a sense of both urgency and alarm.  Workers in this nation are in real trouble, and many don't even know it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The weapon of words

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

― George Orwell1984

Over the past year, I have thought often of George Orwell's novel "1984."  Certain aspects of Orwell's dystopian vision of the future have lingered with me since I first read his 1949 novel as a high school student, more years ago than I care to discuss.  One of the parts of the book that made a lasting impression on me, far before my political consciousness fully emerged, was the use of doublespeak, language that deliberately distorts or reverses the meaning of words. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

While Rome Burns

Over the past week, multiple articles and editorials have appeared in Madison print and internet media bearing a central theme:  Now that the recall elections are over, we must put divisiveness aside, forget the sins of the recent past, and move forward together.  The corollary to the primary “let’s all get along” theme is the “get over it, you lost” theme directed at the left.  I read these articles and tried to feel the emotion of reconciliation these articles preached.  I really tried.  Yet, I felt nothing but numbness.  I watched as Governor Walker announced his “beer and brat” summit, while at the same time his communications director Ciara Matthews tweeted taunts and insults at the Democrats for the failure of the recall.  Yet I still felt nothing.  Until, that is, I read an essay published by the Wisconsin State Journal/ on Saturday, June 9th.  The article was written by Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political scientist, and was titled “Time for healing to begin.” Upon reading the superficial yet shockingly condescending piece, I felt anger.  And, as is often the case lately, I felt like writing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fitzgerald's contempt, redux

Back in January, I wrote an essay entitled "Contempt, thy name is Fitzgerald."  That piece was, in large part, born from the reservoir of moral outrage and disbelief that pooled in my psyche after watching the events that transpired on March 9, 2011 in the halls of the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The horror of bearing witness to Wisconsin democracy dismantled in the dark of night was a major influence in my decision to start writing this blog.  I also had a front row seat to many of the incredible stories of the Wisconsin protests, and I did not want these stories lost to the passage of time and fading of memory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lord of the Flies

"The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away."

                       - William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Question of the day:   What interest would a corporate lobbyist group have in expanding the rights of citizens to shoot and kill each other?

A great deal has been written about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and Bo Morrison over the past several weeks.  I don't need to rehash that conversation, as there is little I can offer regarding specific facts of those cases.  What I would like to do instead is examine why these Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground Laws have been promoted with such enthusiasm by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).