Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friends and FB “Friends”

As many did, I joined FaceBook to keep in touch with my children because they currently live in Honolulu and New Orleans. Then it gradually became their mother and my relatives. My FaceBook friends gradually grew to include people from Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin that were important to me but I never see very often.

I lived in Michigan for 17 years. I am now Facebook friends with Jack Hoogendyk, George McManus, Michelle McManus, Mike Rogers, Bill Schuette, John Schwarz and Norm Shinkle.

I have known Hoogendyk since he was on the Kalamzoo County Board and I worked for a State Senator whose district was all of Kalamazoo County. I helped to elect George McManus to the Michigan State Senate in 1990. George is an uncle to Michelle, who is running for Michigan Secretary of State. I have known Schuette since 1984, when he upset Congressman Don Albosta and I failed to upset Dave Obey. Schuette is running for Michigan Attorney General, was Michigan Department of Agriculture Director and then was a State Senator. Rogers was a Senate Majority Floor Leader before he became my Congressman. I helped elect Schwarz to the Michigan Senate in 1986 and to U.S. Congress in 2004. Shinkle was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. His license plate “No Tax” was famous.

Michigan Senate colleagues regardless of party I have befriended are Saul Anuzis, John Arundel, Lisa Babcock, Richard Barclay, Kurt Berryman, Anne Boomer, Denise DeCook, Gary Garbarino, Brett Henderson, Bill Kordenbrock, Bill Knutson, Brett Marr, David Marvin, Lisa McGraw, Jeff McAlvey, Anne Mervenne, Colleen Pero, Dan Pero, Gary Reed, Dennis Schornack, Mike Severino, Brad Snavely, Marc Speiser and Dan Stouffer. I am friends with a few people I supervised and those who are or were in the Michigan Press Corps.

My FaceBook friend list has taken on a life of its own. I am friends now with people I never knew and with people I see around Madison often.

I am bombarded with requests to become fans or a member of this or that politician or cause but usually draw the line at this, however.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unexpected Trip to GOP Events in Northeast Wisconsin

It was an unexpected pleasure to have State Treasurer candidate Scott Feldt call me Friday, April 16 and ask if I would go with him to Lincoln Day events Saturday in Oconto County and Marinette County. It has been my good fortune to have been involved in the Feldt campaign in ways that I have mastered but also learned new skills.

The event in Suring was early afternoon. The event in what I consider historic Peshtigo was in the evening. I had never been to either place so I jumped at the chance.

At both were a number of old friends who are candidates, serve them or are in the Wisconsin Legislature now, like Brett Davis, Jeff Mursau, John Nygren and Roger Roth.
Davis and Roth are running for other jobs. I have heard the speeches of Feldt, Superior Mayor Dave Ross and Terence Wall so often that I could give them as surrogates. It is always a pleasure to see and hear Dave King, Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

It was my pleasure to be able to drive back from Rosendale to Madison while Feldt slept. It reminded me of a conversation with Eugene McCarthy while I drove him from Hillsdale College to Detroit Metro Airport. To me and many others, he will always be “Clean Gene.” McCarthy was recounting that when he was driven from the airport by a student, his driver was a student interested in talking with him. His driver seemed not to pay attention to traffic and it was a frightening experience for McCarthy. The student asked him how he could get started in politics. “Learn to drive,” McCarthy said.

Learn to drive and read a map, indeed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tax Day Rally at the Capitol

Joining at least 10,000 people at the State Capitol on April 15 for the Tea Party, it was the first time I ever joined a protest rally at the seat of a state government. The rally for Taxed Enough Already was a time to see who was there and to hear from speakers.

I took public transportation from the Hill Farms Transportation Building to the rally because I knew driving and parking would be awful. Just as I arrived, I ran into Wisconsin legislative staff members and Mrs. Dave Ross. I saw Terence Wall, Mark Neumann, Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Representative Scott Gunderson. I saw the Scott Walker presence but I did not see Walker.

When I was in state government, such protests were a nuisance and not important. In Lansing, protests by organized labor and the tent city protest against Governor John Engler were annoying and made it hard to get to work and leave. The only rally I attended at the State Capitol was Kris Draper, Darren McCarty and the Stanley Cup. In Madison, both loud and weird were the protest by illegal aliens and the counter-protest by skinheads.

Frankly, I was astounded by some speakers, not what they said but who they were and how they said it. Two speakers were WSAU-AM radio talker Patrick Snyder and Pastor David King, the Milwaukee pastor who is running for Wisconsin Secretary of State. When I was a kid in central Wisconsin, television came from WSAU and WAOW in Wausau but no one I knew listened to WSAU-AM instead of the hipper Wausau station WIFC-FM.

I actually came to see and hear Tommy G. Thompson. Thompson has been known to me since I ran for U.S. Congress in 1984, when he was Assembly Minority Leader. I moved to Michigan and began serving John Engler in 1985. Tommy was elected Governor of Wisconsin in 1986 and John Engler was elected Governor of Michigan in 1990. They were both reformers. I have been at events with Thompson since 2006 and I was at the rally when he announced for President at the Tommy G. Thompson athletic center at Bishop Messmer High School in Milwaukee.

I think most of us thought that he would announce a run for U.S. Senate, especially because all the points about U.S. Senator Russ Feingold ended with, “It’s wrong for America. It’s wrong for Wisconsin.” It was a barn-burner of a Tommy speech. Thompson was always a better speaker than Engler, no offense to my friends who wrote for Engler. Thanks to some of us, Engler was better than Thompson in writing.

Flash forward to 2010. New anger over unemployment, taxes and deficits might bring new voters to Republicans in autumn or it might not. Democrats who dominate the Wisconsin state legislature do not seem to get it, pressing to raise taxes, energy bills and find new avenues of voter fraud. It is wrong for Wisconsin.

Mark Neumann might be a good Governor of Wisconsin. Scott Walker will win the primary if Neumann fights it all the way to September. It will not be fun to run state government in 2011 with the structural deficit we face.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Extremism in Support of “Virtue”

After five suicide bombings Monday targeted the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, State Department flack P.J. Crowley called it the work of extremists. They, however, were striking a blow for what they perceive as virtue.

Consider the bombings in the Moscow subway system. The suicide bombers were women whose husbands were killed by the Russians in their military adventures in Chechnya, Dagestan and South Ossetia. It is no wonder that one of the bombings was under Lubyanka, home of what was formerly the KGB.

Such extremism is nothing new. Consider the total war practiced against civilians in resisting cities by the Mongols, George Sherman’s March to the Sea, American bombing of cities that had no strategic value during World War II. Consider the mindless homicidal mania of the Viking berserkers, the Japanese against Marines and the U.S. Navy during World War II and the genocide in Rwanda.

It is too bad that the targets are not repressive, paranoid and corrupt regimes. If the goal is regime change, there should be bombings in North Korea, Burma and China. China has been repressive of minority rights, especially against Tibet and Muslim areas. The so-called Great Firewall prohibits posting protest videos to the Internet and searching for topics like the Tiananmen Square tanks. The mine disaster shows that journalists will go where news occurs. Everyone knows corruption is rampant in China, but even protesting wins you a prison term or worse.

Extremists are not what they used to be in the U.S. People who are in favor of the right of law-abiding people to carry firearms, who put Republican stickers on their automobiles or who worship God have been called extremists by liberals as if there is a Timothy McVeigh, David Kouresh or the anthrax mailer in all of us. The real American extremists may have a cache of automatic weapons, bomb-making material or belong to apocalyptic religious cults.

Professor Stanley Kutler says to me that with which he assumes I disagree although I agree with him. I hope the government is not keeping track of our public library habits. I have withdrawn what could be considered subversive books and videos by traditional liberals. I have read an article about how the government can get from our cellular telephone providers information where our telephones are and whom we have called. They do not need a warrant. Some cell providers and legal groups seek to enjoin this.

Extremism in support of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should not be equated with people who wish us ill. We surrender more of our liberties in the name of security every day.