Thursday, July 31, 2008

Journalists for Obama

Writing in the July 14 National Review, Weekly Standard contributing editor Noemie Emery compares how symbiotic the relationship was between Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and the press and that now the press has become the cheering section for Barack Obama. Emery’s article can be found at

Roosevelt and Kennedy cultivated relationships with journalists of their day and became President at 42 and 43, respectively. Both had aggressive personalities, came from successful business families and had a history of military service. Roosevelt had San Juan Hill; Kennedy had PT 109.

Now many journalists have become so effete and self-important, they are ceaseless in their indictments of the evil Republicans and the values of Americans in flyover country. Many journalists came from humble origins to rise through education and experience to their positions.

When they look in the mirror, they see Obama as a reflection of themselves. No experience in the military or business, they believe that Americans cling to guns and religion out of bitterness. A rise from humble origins through education at Ivy League Schools, Obama is just like them – cool, distant and a critic of the status quo.

Roosevelt and Kennedy were never depicted as the second coming of the Messiah with a halo over their heads. It is journalist cheering of everything Obama does and says that makes it seem as if he is divine.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Madison’s Traffic Problems

Madison has some unusual traffic problems even in summer with most of the University of Wisconsin students away for the summer. It will be worse when the college kids return.

I have lived all across the country, including in cities that dwarf Madison. I also have driven on several college campuses. Madison’s traffic problems were especially noticeable when I drove to central Wisconsin and back, arriving in Madison near bar time on Saturday. Clusters of pedestrians were jay-walking at random.

When the college students return, they pose unusual traffic hazards. Jay-walking students now have their eyes and ears glued to cellular phones instead of watching out for cars. A number of foreign students appear to have obtained their driver licenses by correspondence courses because they seem not to know how big their cars are to drive or park.

Although operating autos safely on the Beltline is an area of emphasis in public service announcements, speed and using turn signals is still random. The speed limit on most of the Beltline is 55 mph. I usually drive 60 mph and am often passed on both the right and left by people driving at least 70 mph.

I work on Mineral Point Road near the Beltline. I currently take the Beltline to work to avoid the construction backup at Mineral Point and Gammon. When there is no road construction, I can get to work in 10 minutes by taking Mineral Point Road. The posted speed limit on Mineral Point is 40 mph. Some drive 50 mph but some drive 30 mph. This is also true of University Avenue between Whitney Way and near campus.

What especially galls me when I am walking is the sheer number of those riding bicycles on the sidewalk. I am not heartless; I am fine with parents and little kids riding on the sidewalk. When I was a student, a lucky few were bicycle enforcement officers, empowered to write tickets for riding on the sidewalk, blowing through red lights and riding in an unsafe manner. Bicyclists operated safely to avoid tickets.

Tickets seem in short supply in Madison for autos and bicycles operated unsafely, however. Police in Madison seem to have their hands too full to respond to anything but accidents instead of preventing them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Missing Some Things about the South

I lived in the Deep South for four years. There are some things I miss, but others not so much, in Wisconsin-speak.

Chiefly, I miss the food and drink. Even the best barbecue in Madison is not nearly as good as third-tier barbecue in the South. I miss Community Coffee with chicory. (Yes, I could buy it online.) I miss going to the grocery store, using a buggy instead of a cart, and choosing among two or more brands of sweet tea. I miss the guitreau at Mike Anderson’s with an appetizer of gator bits. I miss fresh hush puppies. I miss Milo’s and real Popeye’s chicken with fresh red beans and rice as a side.

I miss “y’all” instead of “you guys.” Collective is “all y’all.” I miss Baptist pastors who make invitations. I have yet to see an “altar call” in the North. I miss being called “Tiger” because I am wearing purple and gold in Louisiana. I miss Tiger Stadium, which is easily three times louder than Camp Randall.

There are a few things I do not miss. When I first moved to the South, I thought “Sir/Madam” was a sign of respect. Now I know it is rote superficial politeness. In the North, it is replaced by real politeness that seems rude by Southerners. I do not miss how far right Republicans were in the South, where symbolic religious issues often take the place of solving real problems. I was considered a liberal because I was insufficiently extreme. I do not miss voting on long tables with no privacy.

I do not miss people who tailgate at 90 mph on the interstate, then dart suddenly right and down an exit. I do not miss cars and people festooned with Alabama, Auburn, NASCAR Numbers and Christian Fish.

More than anything, I do not miss the weather in the South. It was usually too hot for my Northern blood. In the South, a hot day might be 100 and children and the elderly are warned not to go outside because the air quality is poor. In the North, a hot day might be in the high 80s but a cold day might be -40. I prefer four seasons to the green and brown seasons.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

“Over the land of the free and the home of the brave”

July 4 for many Americans is a beery day of sports, food, boating and fireworks. Historically, of course, July 4, 1776, is the date we declared our independence from Great Britain when this was a risky proposition.

It is such an American holiday. Because it falls on a day off, I will get holiday pay even though I am not working. On the last Independence Day, my younger boy, Eric, was out of the country.

This July 4 has special significance for me because Jens Michaelsen is at sea, not at home on Oahu. Actually, he will be under the Pacific Ocean for several months with more than 100 of his closest friends. While his service is safer than those who serve on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not without risk. He is serving on a boat that was launched and decorated for service during the Cold War before he was even born.

We all weep for the family and friends of those who become casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those of us who are parents never want to bury our children. Some who serve in the Middle Eastern have marked several Independence Days there. However, they are all volunteers.

Jens is a volunteer, too. He enlisted shortly before he was 18 and turned 23, also at sea. Here is a recent picture of him with his girlfriend.