Friday, September 13, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Summer doesn’t seem to want to leave us, and I have mixed feelings about that. The weather of late has resembled a stretch of warm (and dry) late July. I feel like I am living in some fantasy called the Endless Summer.

On the plus side, we can pretend that Middleton has been moved about 10 degrees latitude south and that winters, or at least severely cold weather conditions, are a thing of the past. The leaves remain on the trees as if they’ve been superglued to the branches. Raking leaves is a distant chore (and, oh, how I wish that could always be the case!). The coleus and impatiens in the back yard are getting even more bushy and colorful. The boys can leave for school in the morning without having to wear a jacket.

On the minus side, the mildew on the sides of the house proliferates at a faster rate, expanding the scope of one of my annual outdoor fall clean-up projects, pulling on a pair of rubber gloves and scrubbing the painted surfaces of the house with a TSF-PF solution. The interior of the house tends to retain the heat of the day which makes sleeping conditions less than ideal, even with floor and window fans in operation.

JoAnna continued to be plagued by headaches, which she attempts to eliminate with megadoses of Advil or aspirin. JoAnna and I are both four-seasons people. We like it here along the 43rd parallel. I wouldn’t mind daytime temperatures in the high 50s to low 50s – sweater weather, or conditions where I don’t mind wearing a shirt and tie to work.

Last weekend, which included Labor Day, was somewhat of a football festival. We attended the Middleton High School game Friday evening. (They lost to a Belvidere, Illinois, team with a very effective running game, one that the Cardinals couldn’t shut down until late in the 3rd quarter, too late to make a difference in the game.) Andy played a scrimmage Saturday morning in Cross Plains against the other St. Francis Xavier 4th & 5th grade squad. (They won 20-6.) Parked in front of the TV, we watched the second half of the Badger game Saturday night, the Packer game Sunday afternoon (although JoAnna was the only family member who was there from start to finish), and the first quarter of Monday Night Football (at Andy’s insistence). So far this weekend, we have reduced our football-related activities. Andy’s team played its first regular season game yesterday, against a larger and faster team from Poynette. (Although, interestingly enough, the biggest kids were slower than our guys, and not that hard to block, according to Andy, and the littlest kids were faster.) Andy’s team was definitely outclassed during the first half on the short end of a 26-8 score. During the first quarter, Poynette seemed to run at will, pushing our defenders aside as if they were mere inconveniences. Our defense couldn’t stop them, especially on sweeps to the right, and our offense just couldn’t move the ball. I have to admit that I, along with some other parents, were surprised at how big some of the opposing team members were. A parent whose son played last year said we’ll make this observation all season long. The biggest kid on Andy’s team weight 125 dripping wet. Poynette appeared to have at least a half dozen kids who tipped the scale at 140 or more. Andy weighed 103 pounds three weeks ago, but football practice has reduced the size and jiggle of his little jelly belly, so I would guess he’s even dropped a few pounds since then. Fortunately, St. Francis allowed only one score during the second half. They had scored a touchdown late in the 2nd quarter on a broken play, a 60-yard run that probably should have been a loss considering the number of defenders that swarmed around the call carrier. Overall, it was a good game for St. Francis, a toughening experience.

Andy played a great game. He was the center on most of the offensive plays and the right end on more than half of the defensive plays. He had a lot of playing time. He also kicked off twice. From the evidence of the enclosed photographs, you’ll probably agree with me that he looks quite impressive in his football uniform. 

After a couple days of hysteria, it seems like the media – at least the print media; television will never get the true picture – is giving the Starr Repot some thoughtful consideration. First of all, I don’t think everyone is accessing the Internet or poring through special edition supplements to learn the details of Clinton’s dalliance with Monica. I find it so ironic that the family values-professing Republicans are gleefully promoting a report that contains what some pundits refer to as pornographic material. It’s a smart approach for the G.O.P, though. They understand that if anything will keep the American public titillated, whether they will admit to it or not, it’s a juicy sex scandal. On the other hand, most of the Republican leadership realizes that they can’t push this thing too far. The recent change of strategy is reflected in a headline in today’s New York Times: “Playing It Safe, Republicans Try Silence”. At least the reporter hinted as to why this is being done. “Republicans want to deprive President Clinton and the Democrats of ammunition to portray the Monica Lewinsky scandal as driven by partisan considerations to undermine Mr. Clinton.” Of course, that’s what the Republican strategy has been all along. What amazes me about the special prosecutor’s zig-zagging tactics is why everyone isn’t asking the question: How did we get from Whitewater (the original focus) to Monica Lewinsky? Well, there’s very obvious answer to that question, but it’s not necessarily the right one. Sex sells!

Based on what is happening in politics locally, I am still fairly confident that the Republicans are going to stumble and lost whatever advantage the Starr report might have given them. In the 2nd Congressional district, both the Democratic and Republican primaries were highly contested. On the Democratic side, Tammy Baldwin won what some consider an upset over former Dane County executive Rick Phelps and current state senator and blowhard Joe Wineke. On the Republican side, in a field of six candidates, a moderate women with pro-choice tendencies (Jo Musser) squeaked out a 500-vote victory over a mouthpiece of the Christian right (former Madison firefighter and minister – and how these guys have the chutzpah to anoint themselves is beyond me – Ron Greer, one of Reggie White’s newfound buddies). Rick and Joe quickly lined up behind Tammy in a show of unity. The Republicans had to cancel a unity breakfast when Greer requested a recount. Tommy’s lack of support for Musser might have also played a role in this decision. The rest of the country, especially Democrats, could learn a very important lesson based on what happened here after the primary election.

Even though Tammy is very open about her sexual orientation, I don’t think that is going to be a negative for her in the November election. She has a very strong, enthusiastic, and youthful core of supporters, which is probably the main reason why Dane County set a record for a turnout in a primary election. Her very effective campaign organization will continue to build on this strength.  Even though we supported Rick in the primary, we have given our unqualified support to Tammy.

Oh, by the way, I need to make a room reservation for Wednesday, October 14th. I’m conducting a workshop at the Manitowoc Public Library the following morning, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and I want to spare myself from having to get up at 5 in the morning to get to my destination on time.

We’re all doing well here. Everyone’s in good health. The boys keep busy with school and sports. JoAnna, of course, continues to gear up for the first Tuesday in November. I’ve been very productive lately, even finding time to read two books a week during the past month.

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