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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

October 6 2016
Putting the garden to bed for the winter
It is time to start putting the garden to bed for the winter. Some people prefer to remove all of the old plants and leave the soil open. Some grow a ground cover over the winter and then work it into the soil in the spring.
One thing you should always do, is remove any diseased plants and destroy them. Do not put them into the compost pile, because the disease could spread. Also remove as many of the weed seeds as you can to prevent them from growing next year.
If there are any flowers with seeds, leave those for the birds to eat during the winter and it will also give the birds some cover. Leave the leaves that blow up around the perennials to protect their roots during the winter.
I like to leave the asparagus for the birds to eat the seeds and have shelter during the winter.
You can pick the green tomatoes and place them in a flat box in the basement. Don’t wrap them. Just check them often and remove any spoiled or ripe tomatoes. You could have fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving.
After you have pulled the tomato plants, leave the cages standing. After you rake the fallen leaves, dump them into the tomato cages and wet them down. You could add some coffee grounds to speed up the break down, continue until the cage is full. The leaves will break down faster if you run the mower over them to break them into smaller pieces.
Next spring, remove the cages and spread the mulch over the garden before you work it up for some good rich soil.

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The Spectator

by Jim Bennett • jwbnnt@aol.com
October 6 2015
Let’s Dump Columbus Day
IN HIS DIARY, Bartolome De Las Casas wrote, “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel.  My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”
Was he talking about the Islamic State?  He could have been, but no; he wrote these words some 500 years ago in the Caribbean, upon watching Christopher Columbus and his men perpetrating acts of unspeakable barbarity upon a peaceful race of “Indian” natives on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
According to Eric Kasum, founder and CEO of the Imagine Institute, a think tank for peace, in an article from October 2014, De Las Casas had much more to write about: “He described how the Spaniards under Columbus’ command cut off the legs of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades.
“The men made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half.  He says that Columbus’ men poured people into vats full of boiling soap.  In a single day, De Las Casas was an eye witness as Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3,000 native people.”
These native peoples were primarily members of three tribes:  Arawaks, Tainos, and Lucayans—all friendly according to Columbus’ earliest Caribbean diaries.  Columbus rewarded their “friendliness and gentleness” by forcing them into slavery and committing widespread genocide.
In fact, so brutal were the atrocities perpetrated on these native peoples that “After a multitude of complaints against Columbus about his brutal mismanagement of the island of Hispaniola, a royal commissioner arrested Columbus in 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains,” according to Vincent Schilling, writing for Today Media Network. Columbus was subsequently pardoned by the Spanish crown because he brought gold and slaves home.

THIS IS the man we will honor on Monday’s federal holiday.  This is the man we will lift up in our schools and community organizations as the hero who discovered America.
Except not everybody will.  Not any more.
In recent decades, as the reality of Columbus’ cruel atrocities has become more widely known, many cities and states have found alternative recognitions, many of them celebrating the rich history of Native American tribes.
In 2014, Seattle’s City Council “voted to approve an official renaming of Columbus Day as ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day,’” according to a Jake Flanagin article in the New York Times. Flanigan also reported that Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, have done the same. 
“Back in 1992,” he reports, “500 years after Columbus’ fateful landing in the Caribbean, Berkeley, California, was the first American city to repurpose the day in honor of Native America.  City Council members officially instated Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus by a unanimous vote.”
In some cases, entire states have made similar changes.  According to The Huffington Post, “South Dakota officially replaced Columbus Day with Native American’s Day in 1989.  Other states—California, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington—proclaimed their own official observances that take place before and after Columbus Day.”
On two of the calendars hanging in our house, October 10 is highlighted as Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

NONE OF THIS has happened without major pushback by Italian-Americans.  If we look at the history of this holiday we can see why.  According to Time Magazine writer Dan Fletcher, “The Knights of Columbus, an organization with a largely Italian, Roman Catholic membership, lobbied heavily for states and the Federal Government to make Columbus Day official. 
“Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937; Richard Nixon established the modern holiday by presidential proclamation in 1972.”
But here’s a better idea: If the nation needs a “day” to celebrate Italian-American heritage, why not choose a figure worthy of respect and admiration?  How about Mother Cabrini Day?  For starters, she’s a Roman Catholic saint who was born in Italy but lived in New York and Chicago, working tirelessly to help the poorest of the poor among Italian immigrants.
“In 1880, Frances Cabrini, with seven young women, founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” as the Missionary Sisters official Web site reports.  “In 1889 [at age 39], she arrived in New York, where she found a city filled with chaos and poverty.
“Mother Frances Cabrini and her sister companions organized catechism and education classes for the Italian immigrants and provided for the needs of the many orphans.  She established schools and orphanages despite tremendous odds.  She established 67 institutions:  Schools, hospitals, and orphanages.  Her activity was relentless until her death on December 22, 1917, in Chicago.
“In 1946, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII in recognition of her holiness and service to mankind and was named Patroness of Immigrants in 1950.”
Her legacy, of course, of caring for the sick and the poor, is still highly visible in schools and hospitals in many U.S. locations.  A day of recognition for this remarkable woman would make some sense, not just for Italian-American pride but for all Americans.  Maybe the K of C could get behind an idea like this? 
Christopher Columbus?  No pun intended, but that ship should have sailed by now

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

October 6 2016
Pumpkin Monday
Pumpkin is not a favorite food of mine.  As a matter of fact if I was stranded on a desert island and all that was available to eat was pumpkin, I would probably starve.  Add in cottage cheese and tuna fish and the result would be the same.  Those are the only three foods that I have tried and have no desire to ever eat again.  Cottage cheese is nothing more than curdled milk and the smell alone of tuna fish turns my stomach. 
Pumpkin comes in a can and my mother and many others prepare this annual treat at Thanksgiving and top each slice with a dollop of Cool Whip and family and friends just loved it.  Except me.  I don’t think you can add a ground mixture of cinnamon, ginger and cloves to a can or two of pumpkin pie filling to entice me to try it again.
First Monday, Pumpkin Monday, inspirational Monday or meatless Monday seems to be the unofficial announcement of the beginning of fall.  What month---I don’t know and frankly haven’t given it a lot of thought.  There are literally hundreds of recipes stemming from this “cultivar” of a squash plant.  Other such “cultivars” are surprisingly familiar plants such as roses, daffodils, rhododendrons, and azaleas and I don’t eat any of those.  Therefore, why should I try something that is widely known as “winter squash?”
Therefore I must confess to being somewhat ignorant of those round deep yellow or orange melons.  My education of the pumpkin actually began while carving a rather large slightly ribbed orange pumpkin.  I seem to remember that we harvested it along with a number of others from a field destined for Libby’s in Morton, Illinois.  Not really, but it adds a little local flavor into the story.  There are a number of farmers in the Goodfield, Congerville and Eureka area that planted, grew and harvested acres and acres of pumpkins and often have spoken to me of the nearly 5000 acres of rich farmland that was devoted to producing pumpkins for the plant, and more than 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin is supplied by the plant, making Morton, Illinois, the world’s top producer of pumpkin products. Celebrating this distinction during the annual Pumpkin Festival, Morton can certainly be proud to be called the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
It was during such a teachable moment of carving a pumpkin that I learned that upon opening up the top of the pumpkin and peering in, found it to be empty!  There was no pie filling to be found, just seeds and stringy gunk.  As the years passed, I learned that the seeds could be roasted and actually were very good.  I also became very fond of pumpkin blossoms, later in life of course, and are similar in taste to morals or mushrooms.  But as for me, I would just as soon have a slice of pecan pie than pumpkin at Thanksgiving, thank you.

Till next time…john
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