Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank a Veteran

There has never been a time when we should not honor the service of our men and women who have served our country. I am especially sensitive to this because I am a proud Navy Dad.

Does he face threats? All who serve face threats, whether the threat comes from a lone gunman or a drunk driver on land or an accident at sea. Is he safer than people his age serving in Iraq and Afghanistan? Absolutely, he is.

We may have disagreed over the policy or political decisions that resulted in our men and women in uniform being sent into harm’s way. We should never mistake policy for our honor of the men and women called to serve.

I am fortunate to know many who served in World War II and Korea. Among the people I know from World War II are someone who flew with the Flying Tigers and then off American aircraft carriers after Pearl Harbor, someone who drove landing craft to dislodge the Japanese from the Aleutians and a medic attached to the Sea Bees in the South Pacific. Among the Korean Conflict veterans are my own father, someone who stepped on a mine and a veteran of the Chosin Reservoir.

More plentiful are veterans of Viet Nam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans of the Cold War are plentiful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bad Night in Beall

Although it is about 2.5 hours for me each way, I drove to Marshfield on Friday, November 6 to see the Tigers take on the visiting Merrill Blue Jays in the third round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs. Like a few schools two or three hours from Marshfield like Antigo, Rhinelander and Shawano, Merrill had left the Wisconsin Valley Conference. It cost the outlandish sum of $4 to go to the game.

There were flashes of brilliance from current Marshfield quarterback Luke Accola and his big receivers on the Tigers. Ultimately, however, they could not contain the relentless running attack of Merrill and were defeated 21-3. They were fortunate to avoid being held scoreless.

Six things stood out for me. First, the Tiger band was not in uniform and did not take the field at half-time. We were never out of uniform at a game. Second, the band left after half-time on a relatively warm night but we always stayed to the bitter end no matter how lop-sided the score or how cold the night was. I was fortunate to play a reed instrument. Brass players had more embouchure trouble in the cold.

Third, if there are Marshfield cheerleaders, they also left at half-time. Merrill cheerleaders made a pyramid at half-time. Fourth, as I left as the game clock hit less than a minute, I heard the Antigo band fire up their fight song, Illinois Loyalty. I confess I sang the Marshfield lyrics, which I had forgotten until that very minute. Illinois Loyalty was the fight song for Marshfield High School for more 50 years, until Marshfield changed it to “Eye of the Tiger.” Illinois Loyalty was the fight song was at Purdy, at the current Middle School and for many years at the school on Becker. Most of us did not need music to play it.

Fifth, most students I saw stayed at least until the gun sounded so that has not changed. Sixth, I was at the back of the student section. I’m kind of a tall guy and had the advantage of being on risers. The student ahead of me must have been six foot seven or eight.

I bought two hooded sweatshirts in black and orange for the price of one Badger sweatshirt in Madison in the former El Sombrero. It was some consolation for the time and gasoline it took me to attend. However, I will stay closer to home for high school athletic contests.

Stop the Democratic Bleeding

President Barack Obama’s November 4 trip to Wisconsin might have only been partially about education policy. It might have been to coax incumbent Wisconsin Governor James Doyle to pull a Brett Farve and declare himself a candidate for re-election in 2010. Failing that, he still hopes to convince Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk to declare for Governor. Maybe Congressman Ron Kind will still pull a Brett Farve after making the Shermanesque statement that he is staying in Congress.

Obama’s home state of Illinois is in the weird position of being the only Midwest Great Lake state run by Democrats surrounded by Republican governors. Scott Walker has the Republican nomination already almost locked up and will be Governor barring a Democratic miracle. Minnesota has Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. The only drama in Michigan will be Republican nominees in crowded primaries for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. Either Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard or Congressman Pete Hoekstra trounces Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Cherry in early polls. Indiana has Republican Governor Mitch Daniels.

This would not have looked so dire had Democrats prevailed over Bob McDonnell as Governor of Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey on November 3. 2009 might be a precursor of 2010, when most Governors, a third of the U.S Senate and all members of the U.S. House face voters.

Jimmy Carter coined the term “Misery Index” for inflation and unemployment in his campaign against President Gerald Ford and then it came back to bite him as Ronald Reagan defeated him for President in 1980. The U.S. Senate Majority also swung to Republicans. The Misery Index does not favor Democrats now and there is no likelihood things will improve by the 2010 election. When what should be low is high, those in office have a way of being voted out of office.

It is a center-right country, especially in the Midwest. In 2008, college kids and minority voters put Obama over the top. Some of them are unemployed or underemployed now and increasingly they see Republicans as the change we can believe in. Add that to the middle-class victims of the Misery Index and the Obama voting majority is now fickle and receptive to a new message of hope and change.