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Bill Linneman

September 15 2016

The Last Wolverine In Michigan
This occurred 24 years ago when Mitchell was age one. Mitch had just learned to walk. He lived in the little town of Ada, Michigan, which is near the big town of Grand Rapids. He lived in a little house (much expanded now) with his Mom and Dad (Viki and Dan) who still live there. So does Mitch along with his brothers Brent and Casey.
The house sits on a big lot, over three acres in size. There’s a large lawn which includes a garden that Dan tends. At the far edge of the lawn is a woods where deer come out at dawn to feast in the garden. They especially like the sweet corn. So does Dan.
There’s also a big meadow with oak and maple and pine trees and bushes and wild flowers. The man who sold the house and lot to Mitch’s parents said there was some kind of varmint living out there but he didn’t know what.
After his family moved in, Mitch walked along the edge of the meadow with Brandy and Elbo. Brandy was his dog, a yellow lab. Elbo was his grandfather a pink drudge.
These three were walking along the edge of the meadow one bright summer day in Michigan when Brandy began to sniff at something underneath a pine tree. Mitchell and Elbo walked over to see what it was. An animal was lying on its back, its front paws frozen in the air. The animal was very still and quiet. It was very dead.
The varmint looked like it could have been very mean when it was alive. It had sharp pointed teeth and long sharp claws. Its coat was light blue fur. Around its tail were three yellow stripes. The bushy tail looked quite pretty.
Elbo said they had better bury the critter. So Mitch and Elbo and Brandy walked to the garage and got a long-handled shovel. Elbo dug a trench and pushed the critter into it. Then he shoveled dirt on top and smacked the dirt hard with the bottom of the shovel. Brandy sniffed at the grave. Mitchell watched gravely.
Elbo cleaned the shovel and put it back in the garage. Then he strapped Mitch in his car seat and drove to the clinic where Dan was physical therapist. Elbo told Dan he didn’t know what the critter was.
“It couldn’t have been a wolverine, could it?” asked Dan.
“That’s it” said Elbo. “Its tail had the same colors of the Michigan football uniform. The blue helmet with the yellow stripes. It must have been a Wolverine .”
When Elbo returned home to Normal, he went to the library and looked up “Wolverine” in the encyclopedia. It described exactly the varmint that had been buried, or at least one of its varieties.
Dan told Michiganders about the wolverine. They laughed and laughed and laughed and said that wolverines had been extinct a long time. There hadn’t been a wolverine around for many many years, they claimed.
So the critter that Mitchell, Brandy and Elbo buried could have been the last wolverine in Michigan.

Capitol Facts
by Rich Miller

September 15 2015
Without Gov. Rauner  the GOP would be at a huge
cash disadvantage in IL

The Washington Post published a story the other day entitled “Meet the wealthy donors who are pouring millions into the 2016 elections.”
The paper listed the top ten national donors to so-called “super PACS.” The list is topped by wealthy San Francisco Democrat Tom Steyer at $38 million. Second place went to “New York-based hedge-fund magnate” Robert Mercer, at $20.2 million.
Keep in mind that these are national-minded donors who are giving to super PACs that focus on the presidential race and US Senate and congressional campaigns throughout the country.
Now, take a look at the money contributed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. His personal campaign committee has contributed over $16 million to the Illinois Republican Party alone this year, accounting for 95 percent of all the money the party has raised. The party has, in turn, used that Rauner money to fund television and radio ads, direct mail, polling, staff, etc. for state House and Senate campaigns.
In June, Rauner gave another $2.5 million to Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC, which is heavily involved in legislative contests.
And the governor contributed $2 million to the Turnaround Illinois PAC, which describes its mission thusly: “To support state legislative candidates who support Gov. Rauner’s bold and needed reforms, and to oppose those who stand in the way.”
That’s roughly $20.5 million, enough for second place in the aforementioned Washington Post list. The difference is, here in Illinois, it’s one guy focusing on only one state.
There are some definite apples and oranges when making this comparison. Not every dime of Rauner’s campaign fund came from Rauner himself. But the total doesn’t include $2.2 million that Rauner gave to his own campaign fund this year, in order to avoid any possible double-counting as money is passed through.
What it does show you, though, is how one person is dominating the money race here far more than individual wealthy people are influencing the national races.
Yes, the Democrats have raised plenty of money as well this year. At the end of June, all Democrats (including the legislative leaders, the state party, rank and file legislators and Democratic challengers) actually had $3.4 million more cash on hand than all similar Republicans, including Rauner.
But Scott Kennedy at Illinois Election Data took a look at legislative funding so far this cycle and, as of 9 pm on September 6th, 16 of the top 20 total contributions to targeted candidates were Republicans.
So, if the Democrats had more cash on hand, then why aren’t they spending more of it? Well, the Democrats can raise only so much more money before November. Rauner and his wealthy friends can simply write big checks and completely erase any disadvantage as need be. It’s kind of like how people who are expecting a large inheritance don’t save much money for retirement. They know lots more cash is in the pipeline, so they often feel free to spend as they wish today.
Kennedy also looked at all the money raised this cycle by the Illinois GOP, the House Republican Organization, the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee and the personal campaign funds of the two Republican legislative leaders and found that of the $21.8 million they’ve raked in so far, 73 percent comes from Gov. Rauner. Without that Rauner money, the Republicans would be at a huge cash disadvantage, like they always have in the past.
Gov. Rauner is giving Republican legislative candidates a fighting chance in a year which otherwise would be seen as a complete lost cause. Despite her national problems, all polling shows Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead in Illinois.
Without Rauner, Republican legislative leaders would be bracing for an even further retreat into their tiny minority, and praying that the off-year election of 2018 would give them enough of a boost to regain a seat or two here and there.
To make it clear, I’m not saying what Gov. Rauner is doing is a bad thing. House Speaker Michael Madigan has in the past absolutely drowned the House Republicans with his ability to outspend them. The tables are finally being turned on Madigan these days. What goes around comes around, as they say.
But if you thought that Rauner exerted a lot of influence on Republican legislators during his first two spring legislative sessions, you probably ain’t seen nothing yet, especially if the GOP does better than would normally be expected. The Republican leaders are going to owe him big. And, whatever happens in November, they’ll want to keep that money pipeline flowing freely in 2018.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com

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Helen Leake's Gardeners Tips
by Helen J. Leake

September 8 2016
Now is a good time to plant trees for next year
Labor Day is the start of the new lawn care year. Early this month is the best time to seed or reseed your lawn. When starting a new patch of grass, be sure the seed has good contact with the soil. It doesn’t hurt if you walk on it to press the seed down. Water it and lightly cover it with clean straw to help hold the moisture. Be sure to keep the soil moist.
Now is also a good time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. The garden centers have them on sale so they don’t have to overwinter them By planting them now, they can put their energy into growing a good root system before the ground freezes. Be sure to water them weekly as needed. When you plant, make the hole twice as wide as the root ball and the root flare of trees should be above ground. Don’t dig the hole too deep.
The chrysanthemums are pretty and will bring color to the garden. When choosing a plant, try to find one that only part of the flowers are open that way you can enjoy the flowers longer.
You can cut off your peonies now. Be sure to destroy the tops so they don’t leave any disease. You can cut them back to about 2 inches. It is also time to divide or transplant them. You can dig the whole plant and divide it or just dig out part of the plant. When planting it, be sure it is in full sun. Also it is important not to plant it too deep. The pink eyes, next years stems, should not be more than 2 inches below the top of the soil. They won’t bloom if planted too deep or in the shade.

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by Jim Bennett • jwbnnt@aol.com
September 15 2015
Trump Has B-N Solutions
I FINALLY got through to Donald Trump, by way of his wife, Melania.  She of the smoky voice and alluring Slovenian accent.  “I’ll get him for you,” she said.
I told her I didn’t want to put her to any trouble.
“It’s no trouble,” she answered quickly.  “He’s easy to find.  He’s always in front of the bedroom mirror working on his hair.”
When The Donald came on the line, I summarized as briefly as possible Bloomington’s struggle to get a downtown hotel in place and Normal’s dilemma of finding a tenant or tenants for the vacated Mitsubishi plant.
“It just shows how stupid your leaders are,” he said.  “Very, very stupid people.  I love the city of Bloomington, by the way; Bobby Knight is one of my loyal supporters.”
I had to tell him I was calling from Bloomington, Illinois, not Indiana.
“It doesn’t matter.  Your leaders are just very stupid people.  If I was in charge you’d have that hotel, and it would be the luxury type with all the finest amenities. And of course it would be very, very tall.  It would bring your city an incredible economic payoff and create hundreds of jobs.  Nobody is a better job creator than me.  I’ve built hotels all over the world and created thousands and thousands of jobs.”
Then I asked him about financing.  “That’s been a stumbling block,” I said.
He just laughed.  “I’d finance it myself and make millions of dollars over the first two or three years.  I’d be even richer than I am now.  I am very, very rich.  Very wealthy and very, very rich.  Believe me.”
When I told him we had a coliseum nearby that tends to lose money, he just brushed it off:  “Once the hotel was built, it would attract thousands and thousands of visitors.  That’s what the Trump brand does.  You would have superstars in that coliseum of yours.  People like Barbra Streisand and Madonna.  They’re both good friends of mine.  I have many, many celebrity friends all over the world.”

THEN WE turned our attention to the Mitsubishi plant.  Trump said, “I would turn that into a casino. A high-end casino with opulent theatres and production centers and a modest hotel on one end. It would be an economic bonanza for your city.  Millions and millions of dollars.  It would also create hundreds of jobs, if not thousands.  I’m one of the greatest job creators in the world.  I have built casinos all over the world and they employ thousands of workers.”
I asked him how he’d get a casino license in Downstate Illinois.
“If your leaders can’t figure that out, it just means they’re stupid.  Very dumb and very, very stupid, believe me.”
I told him I didn’t think our state’s legislators or governor would make that possible.  And he’s a Republican.
“Republicans can be just as stupid as Democrats.  A lot of them won’t even endorse me.”
“You’re kidding.”
“I know it’s hard to believe.  My people are the best.  They are the very, very best and smartest.  It would get done, believe me.”
I asked him about employment; would he be an equal opportunity employer?
“Of course I would be.  My people have created jobs for thousands and thousands of Hispanics and African-Americans.  Of course all Hispanics and Muslim applicants would be subject to extreme vetting.  Very rigid screening and extreme, extreme vetting.  Very extreme vetting.”

SINCE HE was on a roll, I decided to ask him about Bloomington’s flirtation with the idea of closing down Highland Park Golf Course or selling it to a private company.  It’s a course I like to play and would hate to lose it. 
“You don’t close golf courses, you expand them.  I have built golf courses all over the world, the most famous, the most luxurious golf courses with all the finest amenities.  I’m probably the world’s greatest builder of golf courses.  You must have stupid leaders there; very dumb and stupid leaders.”
Then I explained to him the golf course had major roads on two sides.
“Then I would buy out all the private property on the other sides. My people would figure that out,” he said.  “My people are the very, very best, and the very smartest.  The very, very smartest, believe me.”
I told him I wasn’t even going to bring up the subject of financing.
“Now you’re catching on,” he said.  “I would self finance the expansion and turn that golf course into a lucrative money maker.  It would make lots of money for everyone, including me.  I’m already rich, believe me; very, very wealthy and very rich.  But I always look for ways to make more money.”
But what if the property owners refused to sell?
“Well, then, I’d just have to build a wall.”
This answer brought me up short; “A wall?” I asked.  I couldn’t make the connection.
“Yes, a wall.  And I’d make Missouri pay for it.”
I found myself speechless.
“If that’s all,” said Trump, “I need to go now.  I’m on my way to a town hall meeting with Crooked Hillary.”

Classic Colcalsure
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington

September 15 2016
Peanuts and Popcorn
With the high pitched sound of “Peanuts, Popcorn, Cracker Jacks; Cotton Candy”  the red-capped vendor balances his load of goods up and down steep steps in every ball park of America.   Faraway places like St. Louis and Chicago welcome dads and sons to witness history in the making, even if your favorite team is currently 17 games out of first place. 
Soon enough, that familiar phrase, “wait until next year,” will be voiced by those faithful Cardinal fans, whose love affair with the “Birds on the Bat” never sways, never looks back and always looks straight ahead.
Whether it is a baseball game, a movie theatre or enjoying date night with Mrs. C, my favorite pastime is popcorn.  As a matter of fact, popcorn is about the only vice I have left that isn’t either broken or not working properly.  Generally speaking I can eat popcorn about once a month and am able to avoid digestive problems with a healthy dose of Pepto Bismol before bedtime.  Gone are the days of peanuts, popcorn, cracker jacks, cotton candy and even those 16 ounce frosted glasses of pop with foam on top.  As I said, once in a while I can have some popcorn, but not nearly as much or as often as I like.
However, I can still remember pulling into the “Corn Crib” on North Main Street in Bloomington and purchasing a large bag of freshly popped popcorn all buttery, dripping and oozing through the side of the bag and topping it off with a bottle of red strawberry pop from a neighborhood grocer off East Grove, also in Bloomington.  Folks, I did that almost every night that I patrolled the streets of Bloomington on deep nights, decades and decades ago.  Of course there were nights that I had to pay a visit to Steak and Shake and take home a sack, or better yet “TAKHOMASAK.”
But as time went on I was introduced to a world famous product named “Beer Nuts” by a dear friend, Ray Curry.  This original product has a long history in the Bloomington/Normal area dating back to 1937 when Edward Shirk and his son Arlo took over the Caramel Crisp confectionery store in Bloomington, Illinois, and sold a product called Redskins, glazed peanuts with their red skins intact. Beginning in 1950, this product was packaged and sold as Shirk’s Glazed Peanuts and in 1953 the product was gradually expanded to a national brand, and the Beer Nuts trademark was registered. Their product line has since expanded to feature other nuts such as cashews and almonds and various snack mixes, gift baskets and holiday-packaged items.
So, as you can read between the lines, I may have to had to cut back on popcorn, but I guarantee you that a pound or two of Beer Nuts are always within reach of our household. 
Oh, by the way “wait till next year.”

Till next time…john
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