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Bill Linneman

August 18 2016

August Reunion
I just returned from the azure shores of Lake Michigan from what was purported to be a family vacation. Purported, I say, because son –in-law Scott Morgan couldn’t go because he had to try a case in court. So I rode up with Kathy and grandkid,s Erik 12 and Anna 10. After a twisting journey through forests north of Holland we arrived at Grand Haven, although I never saw a town.
Our immediate destination was a large house overlooking Lake Michigan. Viki’s family or part of them were settled in, she, son-in-law Dan, and grandson Mitch. Turned out that Mitch would be the only member of Distin family present entire week. Viki had to leve Monday for her Yoga studio in  Grand Rapids. Then Dan had to be gone Tuesday and Wednesday for his physical therapy clinic. Grandson Brent appeared on Tuesday night for dinner then disappeared until Thursday night. Grandson Casey came on Wednesday with girl who had been admitted to both U of Chicago and U of Michigan. When Michigan also included Honors College, she chose them. Casey, for himself, is going to Indiana. Kathy, who once recruited Big Ten schools for Accenture  said anybody could get in to Indiana.
Casey and his brainy girl spent the night. I didn’t inquire about sleeping arrangements. I haven’ t for twenty five years. Ever since Scott spent the night before Kathy moved to Chicago. I recall seeing Scott’s car in the driveway when I got up at 6:30. I found his tie on the driveway. I made a check of the house and concluded that Scott was either in Kathy’s bed or Betsy’s. I opted for Kathy’s.
 I knew that Kathy had a ten o’clock appointment in Chicago. Blushingly, I cracked open her bedroom door and announced the time. Five minutes later I heard Scott’s car, which needed a muffler, roar off. And in another five minutes, Kathy fully dressed (a record) came down for breakfast.
At Lake Michigan my activities were restricted to hobbling with walker from third floor bedroom to third floor veranda from where I stared at the blue of the lake until it engaged the blue of the sky, no clouds, a rare sailboat on Lake Michigan, an occasional motor boat coming into harbor. My family off skiing behind Dan’s boat. Sometimes one of them appeared to bring me a glass of water.
Mitchell who wants to study brain science has been accepted at NYU but now wants to attend University of London. Viki thinks he will have trouble getting in because his grades have not been good. He was a jock, playing lacrosse at Michigan State and drinking beer between practices and games. Brent, the architect is buying an old house and restoring it to sell at high price. He likes this type of work because he can apply his carpentry skills.
I tried reading novel by Andre (somebody III) whose father is Andre (somebody II) claimed to be a fine short story writer. They both write about North of Boston but not like Robert Frost. I gave up novel and went back to looking at Lake Michigan. The third largest repository of fresh water on earth.





Capitol Facts
by Rich Miller

August 25 2015
Softness on Crime an issue in this year’s election
You might think that months of bipartisan cooperation on numerous criminal justice reform bills would make that particular topic off limits for partisan campaigns this year.
You’d be wrong.
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced early last year that he wants the state to reduce its prison population by 25 percent over ten years. He has since signed numerous pieces of legislation during the past year or so to help achieve that goal, including recently, when he signed the marijuana decriminalization bill into law.
For the most part, House Democrats kept their members who are targeted for defeat by Republicans off those bills. The move was both defensive (to prevent their incumbents who represent tight districts from accusations that they are “soft on criminals”), and, as it turns out, offensive.
“In southern Illinois, we value the safety of our neighbors, friends, and families,” begins a recent TV ad by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).  “So why would anyone want to weaken penalties for dangerous criminals?  Dave Severin’s biggest supporter wants to let 25 percent of the state’s prisoners loose into our communities.”
Severin’s “biggest supporter” is obviously Rauner, via his contributions to the Illinois Republican Party so far this cycle. The state party has funneled much of that cash to the House Republican Organization, according to numbers compiled by Scott Kennedy at Illinois Election Data. Bradley’s opponent Severin reported raising just $9,335 in the second quarter, but HRO has been running ads on his behalf since early June.
So, the Severin campaign’s recent denial that its “biggest supporter” (which it claims is actually HRO) has no such position on releasing prisoners is nonsense. But its claim that Bradley’s ad is reminiscent of the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” advertisement is pretty close to being true. Horton, you will recall, was given a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison and didn’t come back. In the meantime, he committed murder, armed robbery and rape. The Democratic Presidential nominee in 1988 was Michael Dukakis, who was governor at the time of Horton’s escape. He supported the furlough program and was ultimately blamed for Horton’s rampage in a devastating ad that benefited President George HW Bush.
Unlike the Horton spot, Bradley’s ad doesn’t mention any specific crimes committed by released prisoners. But there was hope in some circles that these sorts of ads would become a thing of the past in Illinois. A newspaper op-ed co-written by Sen. Kwame Raoul earlier this year cited poll results showing 74 percent of Illinoisans believe our criminal justice system is “broken.”
“While some have questioned whether Governor Rauner’s goal to reduce incarceration by 25 percent is politically achievable,” Sen. Raoul wrote, “it turns out that the voters actually support far-reaching policies that can make a real difference in reducing the number of persons held in Illinois’ prisons.”
Indeed, another poll conducted recently for the Rauner-allied Illinois Policy Institute found that 56 percent of Illinoisans believe that the criminal justice system is “unfair.” And more than 80 percent said politicians should support criminal-justice reforms “such as community supervision, mandatory drug testing and treatment programs – instead of prison – that reduce the likelihood the offender would commit a new crime.”
“A generation of candidates for public office have come of age worried about being the subject of a ‘Willie Horton’ advertisement,” Raoul wrote in that March 15th op-ed with Republican state Sen. Karen McConnaughay. “Now it seems that we have public support, political agreement and momentum on our side to fix our broken criminal justice system.”
So, if this TV barrage is successful, will it halt the governor’s policy momentum?
Sen. Raoul told me last week he hoped it wouldn’t. But, he warned, it “ain’t going to be easy” to pass more comprehensive legislation as it is, so he’s worried about the potential impact.
Incumbents who are targeted for defeat are rarely part of a controversial “solution” in Springfield - and Rep. Bradley has most definitely become a target since Rauner’s election. The heavy lifting at the Statehouse is usually done by those who don’t have to worry too much about electoral opposition. Rauner’s cash reserves can help comfort wary Republicans, and it’s highly doubtful that “safe” Democrats will ever draw a primary opponent over an issue like this.
Political organizations always use what works best in campaigns and this issue apparently polls well enough to include it in a TV spot, so that just might give some folks pause if Bradley wins and the issue is successfully deployed in other legislative campaigns.
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

August 25 2016
Taking care of your Japanese Maple
Japanese maples are often planted in the shade, but they do better if they receive some sun. They will grow better and have better leaf color with some sun. They can not take the afternoon sun, so plant them on the south-east side of the house or in a place protected by a fence or other shrubs to protect them from the strong wind.
Japanese maples prefer moist, but well drained slightly acid soil, Before you plant the tree, add compost to the hole.  Also mulch 3-4 inches deep around the trunk, adding to it every year to help keep the soil moist and cool and protect the roots during the winter. Be sure to keep the mulch back a few inches from the trunk to prevent disease and allow air exchange. Add slow release, balanced fertilizer every spring.
On warm sunny days in the winter the sap can start to flow inside the tree, then freeze at night. Wrap the trunk with vinyl ventilated tree wrap in the fall and be sure to remove it in the spring.
Pruning requires a gentle touch, the branches break easy. You can prune any time of the year, but you really do not need to prune at all, unless it has gotten too big. Don’t prune during extreme heat and when the sap is flowing in late winter when the tree is more susceptible to fungus disease. Cut the branches so that its right up to the collar, not flush against the trunk.
On weeping Japanese maples, prune back branches that touch the ground. Remove the weak branches and the ones that touch or rub each other. Cut the branches that grow straight up.



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The Spectator

by Jim Bennett • jwbnnt@aol.com
August 25 2015
It’s Not Easy Being Green
RAISE YOUR HAND if you’ve had a bellyful of the Clinton/Trump presidential campaign. That’s what I thought; me too. Polls consistently show the American people bone tired of this dreadful back-and-forth between two very unpopular candidates.
I’d rather listen to static on the radio than more charges and counter charges about Trump’s outrageous proposals and boorish behavior or Clinton’s e-mail controversies.
If I had my way, the Federal Election Commission would suspend these two campaigns along with their televised coverage. Keep their names on the ballot, but shift the focus to the other two presidential candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
I would lobby for the presidential debates to be replaced by quiet roundtable discussions between Johnson and Stein. It’s the only way we’re going to hear anything fresh. As a matter of fact, Stein has already vowed to be present and pushing for a place on the stage for the first presidential debate at Hofstra University a little less than six weeks from now, even if she’s arrested, as she was in 2012 when she was also the Green standard bearer.
You could argue that the 66-year-old Stein might be the smartest of those seeking the White House. According to Wikipedia, “She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1973, where she studied psychology, sociology and anthropology.” She later graduated from Harvard Medical School and practiced internal medicine for 25 years.

MOST OF the Green Party platform would be unattainable, and their members know it. I would have a better chance of hitting an Aroldis Chapman fastball. But most of it would make us think, which is really the point. The platform asks us to rethink the role of a federal government, the manner in which our political institutions are connected with nature, and fundamental principles of foreign policy.
If we could exercise our dispassionate nature, this kind of thinking would be good for us; another Donald Trump tirade would not.
Here, for example, is food for thought, taken straight from the preamble to the Green Party platform: “Green politics is an ecological approach to politics that links social and ecological problems. We find that the same institutions and ideas that cause the exploitation and oppression of humans also cause the degradation and destruction of the environment. Both are rooted in a hierarchical, exploitative, and alienated social system that systematically produces human oppression and ecological destruction.”
Maybe yes, maybe no, but certainly worthy of our reflection.
As we might expect, the green party prioritizes environmental protection. The platform lays out these renewable energy goals: “Invest non-renewable energy sources in the creation of self-reproducing, renewable energy systems. Use federal investments, purchasing, mandates and incentives to: shut down nuclear power plants, phase out fossil fuels while phasing in clean, renewable energy sources, reduce auto-based transportation and expand pedestrian, bicycle, and rail transportation.”
And how would we pay for all the lost jobs? “Create a superfund for workers to guarantee full income and benefits for all workers displaced by ecological conversion until they find new jobs with comparable income and benefits.”

IN SOME RESPECTS, the Green Party would be compatible with a Libertarian yen for decentralization. The difference is that for the Greens, centralization means not only the federal government, but also its partnership with Wall Street corporations. I am reminded of Lou Dobbs’ oft-quoted mantra that “America is owned and operated by its large corporations and always has been.”
Education provides a good example of a Green goal—at least in part—of a decentralized stance. The platform says, “We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and schoolchildren. Stop the diversion of public funds to for-profit corporations or religious organizations running charter schools.
“Stop the curriculum takeover by commercial standardized test and test-prep corporations. Stop linking administrator and teacher pay and student graduation and retention to standardized test performance. Stop reducing education to answering multiple choice questions. Put teachers back in charge of ongoing, genuine assessment in the classroom.”
   
IN FOREIGN POLICY, the Greens propose a truly radical agenda that calls for a reduction in military spending by 75% in two years, and an end to unilateral U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. The platform would have us closing all overseas military bases, disband NATO and all aggressive military alliances, ban U.S. arms exports, and require a national referendum to declare war. Our military would be reconstituted so as to function solely as defender of the Homeland.
To make the federal government more functional, the party would create a single-chamber U.S. Congress: “Abolish the disproportional, aristocratic U.S. Senate. Replace it with a single chamber, elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation that combines district representatives elected by preference voting and party representatives seated in proportion to each party’s vote.” Somewhat hard to wrap your head around, but again, worth hearing.
Naturally, the Green Party platform has much to say about tax reform, most of it anathema to the rich. There isn’t space here to take a closer look. Taxation as well as many other subjects not mentioned here are thoroughly covered on the platform. It’s easy enough to find online, but don’t go there unless you’re prepared to think and reflect.




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

August 25 2016
Malt Shop Memories
If you are one of those who have been to “Christmas on Delane” then you already know about the Ice Cream Parlor/Bar located on the lower level of our home. As of the original publication of this article in September of 2008, Mrs. C. had insisted, every year since 1998, that this would be the year that the parlor/bar would be finished. Well, it has taken 18 years, but thanks in part to the flood of December 2015, Mrs. C. finally got her wish and the repurposed malt shop is finished!
Anyways, additions have been made including an oak ice cream table and chairs from Kochs Depot, that I got several years ago and two booths that I purchased from a liquidation sale in Bloomington. I don’t recall the name of the business, but I got both booths cheap. I also latched onto a juke box that I had pestered the owner about for a number of years and in a weaker moment it was sold to me. One of the songs available in my jukebox is by George Burns (I wish I was 18 again). We continue to stock up on lot and lots of Coke a Cola stuff including two table top cookie jars that look like those select-a-tunes that we use to see in the malt shops back in the 50’s and 60’s. And over the years several Lexingtonians have given me a very wide selection of those 45’s that were so popular back in my day. You know back when I was 18 and sometimes I wish that I were 18 again.
But the music of the 50’s and 60’s were an amazing time in both culture and history that brought about some of the greatest music from the best of times in American history. I don’t remember anyone wearing a poodle skirt back in the day when I got my first job working for “Fritz” Fred Weppler at the Colfax Theater. I worked every weekend popping and selling popcorn and occasionally dribbling on a little extra butter when requested. Fritz did not allow that, but I did it anyway and even when he spotted me, he would just chuckle a little and turn away. He was such a dear man. But I do remember bobby sock, school letter sweaters and a nice-looking girl who drove a turquoise and white 1957 Chevy convertible.
Recently while channel surfing I came across “Malt Shop Memories” that was being promoted by Bobby Rydell. There was an associate with him, but I didn’t recognize her, as I already had difficulty recognizing him. The two of them and a lot of folks about my age and most appeared a little younger sitting in a malt shop called Ruby’s Diner. All those jukebox classics from the 1950’s and 1960’s was the pitch and I was hooked. As a matter of fact I have watched that particular show three or four times. Well, you gotta check out Carol Burnett and Friends and the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast and also his weekly shows. So many of those stars have passed as did George Burns in 1996.
Those songs took me back a lot of years. Songs by the Four Seasons; Dion and the Belmonts; Connie Francis; Bobby Vee; the Angels; Leslie Gore; Ronny and the Datonas, the Rip Cords; Bobby Darin and many more. Malt Shop Memories features a 10 CD collection packaged in a Collector’s CD box. If you enjoy the fabulous music of the 50’s and 60’s check out the offerings at www.timelife.com/maltshop. At one time they were available at Barnes and Noble and are still available on Amazon.com. If you’re a baby boomer; appreciate the changes that took place in the 50s and 60s, and want to step back in time and remember those wonderful memories of teenage love and life, you would most certainly enjoy a very special website entitled: “patchy’s Lost In The 50s Oldies Jukeboxes @ http://dapatchy.com/oldies There you will also find SIX oldies jukeboxes that you can play and replay along with Jukebox speakers as you visit the DooWop Drive-Inn and listen to Robert Weston Smith. Oh you remember him. The Wolfman Jack. The Wolfman unfortunately died at the age of 57 in 1995. See you at the Malt Shop!

Till next time…john
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