Monday, November 19, 2018

WILL WISCONSIN STAY SLEEPY THE NEXT 40 DAYS?

By Dominique Paul Noth

Is Scott  saying: "Even if you beat me, Tony, I'll find a way to screw you."
Basking in the mammoth November election victory and preparing for a festive holiday season, the Wisconsin public is little in the mood to think of politics or the degree of mischief the Republicans are contemplating in the 40 odd days before Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes are sworn in as Democratic leaders January 7.

This is just the sort of lull the GOP loves to pounce in.

In this time, it will be particularly hard to galvanize the outrage and march on Madison that Wisconsinites were eager to do in 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP legislature sprung Act 10 on them, limiting worker bargaining rights and wresting important areas of local control away from communities. 

Those protests made national headlines, planted seeds that grew in 2018, but did little else. It took years before the full dual price of those actions caught up with Walker. (The gerrymandering the Republicans imposed in 2011 still has a hold.)

There are still people around who try to defend Walker and Act 10, but it was one of several moves that cost Walker the 2018 election -- because seven years later the truth had finally landed.

He traded temporary financial savings for long term loss of continuity, control and effectiveness of local government and education. You could argue that all his desperate borrowing and deal-making actions since 2011 stemmed from what he considered a success then and that the public would continue to fail in acting against him. Surviving one recall and one re-election made him confident that our blindness would continue.

The 2018 election was a bigger disaster for Republicans in many states outside Wisconsin, yet all the states where the GOP  still exercises some level of government control are seeing the same sort of sabotage as emerging here.

Look next door in Michigan. Before incoming Democrat Gretchen Whitmer can take over as governor, the Republicans in the legislature are trying to weaken an improved minimum wage proposal they passed to lessen her impact. 

There’s terrible irony here for the GOP dominated legislature in Michigan. In September they pre-empted the minimum wage and sick time improvements intended as ballot initiatives by approving them to soften the voter anger.  It didn’t. Now they intend to use that pre-emption so that a simple majority vote in their chambers can prevent any amendments or improvements by the public.

Similarly, North Carolina Republicans – already facing court action over election maps – are plotting to change a voter ID constitutional amendment before the legislature loses its supermajorities.  With that loss, impending next year, goes away the ability to unilaterally override vetoes by a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, who was elected in the summer of 2017.

But it is in Wisconsin the GOP hopes to cause the most damage in the weeks before Evers takes over and in the few weeks after that before his new team can take hold.

Evers is promising a governorship unlike Walker who made public war on the Democratic governor he succeeded, Jim Doyle, forcing Doyle by his incoming veto threat to back away from promises for high speed rail, expanded health care and other improvements.

Evers has pledged a cooperative reign, but the Republicans seem born suspicious and are acting aggressively against him.  They are trying to gather enough votes among their majority – with some balkers who may soon give in – to curtail Evers’ powers as governor and strengthen the GOP legislators’ say in the freedom of action of the Democratic executive staff.

They couldn’t find enough GOP votes for a key Walker corporate welfare plan -- to supply Kimberly-Clark the giveaways the company wanted. Maybe this was a minor rebellion against the departing Walker, but the Republicans are also listening hard to leaders like Rep. Robin Vos, who was poised to run for governor until Walker decided on one last time.  Now they now sound more convinced that they can impose a new legislative session before the end of 2018.

They are openly exploring how to dilute Evers’ ability to appoint staff and tinker with what actions the governor can propose – a sudden concern about executive power they never expressed in public when Walker was in office.

Indeed, Walker is not out of the picture.  Though in public he claims he will be hands off and let Evers work his own magic, privately he is encouraging frequent allies to handcuff the new governor.

The Republicans are actively seeking ways to prevent Evers from blocking work requirements on Medicaid participants (a Walker scheme).  They would also make changes to diminish Evers’ role in the University of Wisconsin system.

And they are openly talking 2020 and divorcing a state Supreme Court election that year (technically nonpartisan) from the spring presidential primary.  It would be moved to March rather than April. Why?  The fear is that Democratic fervor will work against a GOP pet that the public has never spoken on, Daniel Kelly, appointed to the high court by Walker in 2016.

Alberta Darling lets the cat out of the bag.
GOP state Sen. Alberta Darling, often used to float GOP trial balloons in advance of aggressive action, openly discussed moving the state Supreme Court election so that the true feelings of the populace wouldn’t interfere. March would also bring far lower turnout.

The GOP also lives in fear of what will happen in April of 2019 when Shirley Abrahamson’s seat is up on the high court and the much touted and experienced progressive candidate is appeals judge Lisa Neubauer, highly regarded by both sides and running against a Walker holdover, Brian Hagedorn. In fact, if progressive judges win in 2019 and 2020, there goes the conservative dominance on the high court.

The Republicans clearly hope that the na├»ve public will not look ahead to the games still left their legislature ahead of Democratic takeover and even long afterward into 2020.  They have thrived on residents’ indifference to what they can do under the surface.  Will that still hold?

“This is exactly the brand of politics that that was rejected by the voters, who really selected Tony Evers to move away” from such behavior, commented Democratic assembly minority leader Gordon Hintz on the same TV show where Darling floated GOP plans

The big question remains. How woke is the public to such shenanigans during the holiday season?

The next two weeks are precisely the time when fully activated crowds descending on Madison and warning the legislature to let the new people alone would have an enormous impact.  It is doubtful that such a level of protest can be stirred up.

Those with long memories will remember the holiday season of 2010 when it was clear impending new governor Walker was going to take away high speed rail while denying to labor leaders that he would take away collective bargaining from public workers (a clear sign, to anyone who understands such political denials, that he was leaning that way) and preparing to borrow to the hilt on the state dime to keep his pledge not to raise taxes.

Wisconsin fell for it then. Why should anything be different now?

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.  


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

WARPED MAPS GET UNDER STATE’S DEMOCRATIC SKIN

By Dominique Paul Noth

More than a week after the midterm elections, it is the Democrats who want to keep the count going to confirm the  heady size of the  Blue Wave . . . in the rest of the nation.

The 1812 political cartoon that gave birth to
the term gerrymandering
In Wisconsin it was blue frosting atop a dark gerrymander cake.  The state proved that on the top  it is Democratic, electing every statewide Democratic candidate plus giving Tammy Baldwin the largest victory margin in the US Senate. Yet underneath it looked like North Dakota.

Sad as that is to report it remains factual.  In the top blue frosting, there may well be a potent template for the future in governor and attorney general, but it is criminally slowed down by a legislative field established by years of successful cheating by Republicans, quietly allowed by voters in most of the state’s 72 counties. 

Never forget that and brace for more of the same in 2020 unless the courts or new action in the US Congress change things, both possibilities long shots. The Democrats, with   nearly 40 seats won from Republicans in the House,  now have the power to challenge Trump and offer exciting bills.  But Wisconsin will not be at the forefront of change, and we’d better get used to that.

Along with eight new Democratic governors,  the turnaround in statehouses was massive – fully 300 statehouse seats changed to Democrats. In Wisconsin and by virtue of absentee ballots recorded a day after the election, only one Assembly seat turned blue – Robyn Vining in AD (Assembly District) 14. One Senate seat that went blue in the lower turnout August election went back to red – in Door County!

And while the US House now boasts a nearly 100 seat lead in favor of  the Democrats, assuring many new proposals starting in January, not a single House seat in Wisconsin flipped or even came close.  At that level we look like Tennessee.  In terms of clout, we have to rely on Tony Evers, Mandela Barnes and Josh Kaul to figure out something.

That is truly bizarre because in case after case it was clear to all voters that the Democrats had better candidates – anyone want to argue against Dan Kohl over Glenn Grothman, Margaret Engebretson over Sean Duffy?

Bryan Steil over Randy Bryce in CD1 was a combination of gerrymandering and vicious successful third party advertising that painted Bryce as a much arrested union thug. I think both union image and arrest record played a dismaying role.  Steil not only had Paul Ryan’s money and support, he looked enough like Ryan to confuse people. So there are complexities in that lopsided race beyond the gerry-snake.

On the Internet an accurate chart has been making the rounds, indicating how many more Democratic voters the Wisconsin Assembly races got and yet how they remained red because of the maps drawn in secret with Republican attorneys in 2011. To put the chart simply, in 2018 Democrats  got 54% of vote yet only  36 seats while Republicans got 45% of the vote and 63 seats.

This is an ingrained problem that has been written about for years by perceptive journalists (insert appropriate pat-self-on-the-back emoji).  Looking through my files, in 2013 I discussed how hard right-wing money was stepping in to support gerrymandering in state legislative races that the localities were not even aware of.  In another story I speculated on why a completely superior candidate even by Republican measures could still lose in suburbs like Franklin.

The voting public is responsible for this, but apparently does not have the level of education or interest to dig inside a five syllable word to understand mapping.  That led even the Washington Post to provide a simply mathematical breakdown of how clever gerrymandering can turn natural competitive districts into lopsided ones based on miniscule voting patterns. Study that explanation for a moment and even the mathematically challenged will understand how expensive lawyers working with in-depth voting charts could tilt your assembly and state senate district to confound the best citizen candidates.

And we had them in 2018.  The most painful loss was state Senate District 5 where Julie Henszey came about one thousand votes shy (mainly the gerrymander) of putting Dale Kooyenga on the same shelf as Leah Vukmir (who did so poorly against  Baldwin). 

Don’t expect Henszey to go away but don’t expect her to run again unless the map becomes fair. And that is the attitude from several candidates. They flogged themselves and their supporters in door to door campaigns that looked good while Republican incumbents dodged discussion of issues and relied on tried and proven advertising techniques. And to our regret as a state, relying on voter ignorance worked.  Under these maps, Democrats would have to pull 20% above their actual weight to win seats.

Some of the losers gave up good jobs to run and they deserve to be back in the mix.  But until the map changes, don’t expect Dennis McBride to run again in Assembly District 13, nor Liz Sumner to take on Fred Ott in AD 23, nor Emily Siegrist to tackle Dan Knodl in AD24 – all strong races on paper that had enthusiastic backers.

One thing that has weakened gerrymandering in other states – with a difficulty the courts should still step in to fix --  is a  pronounced new flow of populations and information. That’s been particularly true in urban areas but harder to achieve in entrenched GOP suburban cul de sacs and in more rural states like Wisconsin. Some sociologists think isolated family voters tend to reinforce each others’ preferences and biases generation after generation.

Now even that is changing, thanks to the needs of farmers for imported immigrant laborers who put down roots; by the nature of small business manufacturing along with the movement of big companies and the “service industry” units;  by living patterns where isolation or size of lot is not as important to a resident as such factors as schools, hospitals, environment and education.

There are citizens in this country who don’t think much about politics until it impacts their living standards, which Trump’s policies are starting to do.  Simplistics about law and order and lingering confusions about taxes are slow to dissipate. 

On the local legislative level, the high involvement in the midterm – a staggering 49% of eligible voters nationally, more than in any midterm since WWI! – reflects a growing awareness reaching far beyond the politically attuned regulars to involve more families, more young people concerned about their future, more people forced to face up to  how and where they get their information.  All that is somewhat muddied by the noise of our technology and splintering sense of unity.

Changes will not happen overnight and changes are never clean.  Most people don’t remember back to 2012 how two South Side Milwaukee Latino districts were protected by a federal court, while the rest of the questionable 2011 maps proceeded willy-nilly. What progressives perceived then as a victory still took six years to create change at the top and nearly nothing down below.

Trump followers desperately need to slow things down, one reason for all the fury about counting real votes in Florida and Georgia.  They  realize that unless they expand their numbers quickly  they are dying out -- that may actually be the underlying fear that motivates them and Trump. 

Likely new Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants the House’s first focus to be on voting issues – rights, gerrymandering, campaign finance, accountability – and there could be widespread support.  Along with protecting pre-existing health conditions, these issues have deep public impetus behind them.

Eric Holder and Barack Obama’s NDRC  organization – the National Democratic Redistricting Committee –  is not only taking the gerrymandering issue national but is also raising money and attention for nonpartisan redistricting. The pressure for improvement keeps building on several fronts.

After North Carolina, Wisconsin is next up in the gate for the US Supreme Court, which has temporarily turned back  to a three member federal panel a technical issue involving legitimate  complainants.  That struck many observers as a signal of interest when SCOTUS  could have simply shut the door.  

The case comes up again in April for the federal judicial  panel – and it now has the frighteningly universal results of the 2018 election to add in as evidence.

That case continues with the elimination of a blindly loyal Republican attorney general, Brad Schimel – replaced on Nov. 6 by Josh Kaul, who has made no secret that he will return his department to more legal responsibility as opposed to partisan leanings.  All this led the appeals court to allow Assembly  Republicans to hire their own private lawyers to pursue the case, which also releases pressure on Kaul to blindly support the maps as Schimel did.

There seems little doubt with the added evidence of the 2018 election, SCOTUS will have to take this case up after it deals with North Carolina, also a state under censure from a judicial panel.

The plaintiffs believe that, having solved the legal concerns raised by SCOTUS, they have a strong case that could force the court to provide new maps – whether in time for the 2020 fall election is unclear.  SCOTUS could find a way to punt again.

Expert minds are mulling the situation and raising simple questions.  Is it possible for Wisconsin to rejoin the rest of the nation it seems to agree with? Or will the gerrymander strike again in 2020?


About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.  




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

BEING BLUE ABOUT NOT BEING BLUE ENOUGH

By Dominique Paul Noth


The tight victory of Evers and Barnes should not disguise
the difficult Wisconsin they inherit.
Now that the blue wave has subsided into a light drizzle, it is time for a writer whose desire for a blue tsunami is on record to point out that in Wisconsin in particular the feeble drizzle is simply not enough for lasting comfort. The nation will spend two more years ruing the day they resisted a full monty stripping of the emperor’s clothes.

What we are in for was signaled by Trump while votes for Senate seats were still being counted (including some good news for Democrats).  But the moment he was assured the GOP would continue control of the Senate, probably even picking up a seat, he replaced the US attorney general with his own hatchet man, Matthew Whitaker, who has mused about defunding the special counsel and was serving as Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff (or Judas goat, apparently, or quisling, if you prefer).

Even more toothless than before, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that any attack on Robert Mueller’s probe of presidential collusion and corruption would produce a constitutional crisis. Trump is in effect saying, “Bring it on, Jewman” (allegedly his off-camera description of a fellow New Yorker, which certainly fits his tendency toward vile nicknames).

While suburban and urban voters clearly rejected Trump’s religious, race  and immigrant baiting, there were enough voters mainly in red states (or states where the blue could not muster the strength at the ballot) to nod in agreement over the degree of slime  and fall back on the false equivalency that both sides were equally responsible for the toxic tone.

Some of them even embraced Trump’s threat about the caravan, not believing the reality of media reports about asylum seekers a thousand miles away. Some truly bought how evil was the treatment of Kavanaugh as opposed to how mightily he was protected.  Some believed that Trump would never actually act as white nationalistic as he was palavering.  They are in for a surprise – or secretly welcomed his nastiness given how many seem willing blind men feeling the side of an elephant, practiced in ignoring his darkly autocratic tone.

This is why, though I have to be happy for Tony Evers pulling out a victory over the long disastrous Scott Walker – and amused to see Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, slapped down by her boss when she pulled  a Sarah Palin moment on election eve;  and as fervently delighted as I am to see Mandela Barnes lend authority to the lieutenant’s job and Josh Kaul to straighten out the mess left by Brad Schimel at the attorney general’s office – the harsh reality is that the cowardice of the Wisconsin voter left the results in doubt all election night and now have left Evers a larger mountain than  any reformist governor should have to face. If only the voters had done a full job.

Baldwin's expected but undeniably great win.
So let’s give out the knee-jerk Eureka at how well Democratic governors did (this is quietly revolutionary for the election map future of the nation, but don’t expect changes in Wisconsin), the undeniable greatness of Tammy Baldwin's win and how the switch of the US House to Democratic control does provide some needed teeth to check the president’s tendencies and more importantly preserve health coverage of pre-existing conditions and threatened Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Let’s now look more cold-bloodedly. Many future Democratic stars went down to defeat Nov. 6.   The House gains were not as high as they could have been.  The Senate may never have been in the cards unless the electorate awoke. It didn’t.


I admit that politics is more complicated than movie mythmaking and never as satisfying. But I can’t ignore the dream I had Nov. 5 of the conclusion of the third original “Star Wars” – the emperor, screaming bile and throwing lightning bolts from his hands, falls into the abyss denied even a toehold for evil to survive.  (Even my dream knew better than to compare Trump to Darth Vader, since there is no repentance under our president’s mask.)

America, in its wisdom, has left Trump that toehold from which to hurl thunderbolts – and he may even climb back out to release havoc and require an even bigger stake in the heart in 2020.  If only political ugliness could be destroyed as cleanly as in movies.  But reality and the voters have left it difficult.

We have to face it – America is more difficult.  Voter suppression still works in sections.  Gerrymandering continues to rule Wisconsin. Nov. 6 demonstrated even a larger gulf between rural and urban (an oversimplification of the media, I admit), a sober reality that disaster will have to be upon many, strangling their breath as it was in the Great Depression, before they accept the slow steady pace of resurrection that democracy imposes.  And even then many didn’t.

Look at the map.  With the exception of Florida, which is always a weird anomaly in US elections, disaster has to be upon the slow learning public before it ever acts.

The economy may be out of tilt, but as long as it seems to deliver to the many, okay, and to hell with the poorer.  Waves may engulf homes, fires may destroy communities, pollutants may choke drinking water, the apocalypse created much by man’s activity may be congealing but right now, while some of the immediately threatened may want to respond, the complacent communities dominate and can roll on feeling validated by ignorance

Before I am accused of excess negativism, let me ask you simply:  Did you really expect that all of the fine new enthusiasts running for Wisconsin legislature would be turned aside by the Republicans refusing even to engage them on the issues? See update below.  Did you really think the voters wouldn’t see through that GOP incumbent game and relentless ad profusion?

Has anyone grasped that, even if Evers viewed himself as a transitional figure rather than a new governor for many terms as Wisconsin moves to more sensible policies and undoes some horrors left behind, he would have to do so with a more resistant, more conservative remnant of the Walker machine completely in place?

Did anyone realize that by not destroying Trump’s hold on the Senate we are in for months if not years of the White House’s avoidance of responsibility and free hand to do considerable damage?  While most of us don’t want the House to behave vindictively or be sidetracked into attacking Trump directly, he is clearly eager for them to do just that and will ride the outliers of constitutional waves to the max to keep the toxicity going.

So cheer for what you can, but don’t forget to buckle down and be forced to work even harder to bring the US back to a nation its own citizens, much less the world, can respect and admire. We didn’t do that Nov. 6 and have to try try again.

UPDATE UNCONFIRMED BY LOCAL MEDIA, WHICH HAS BEEN SLOW ON THIS: New reports suggest that Robyn Vining has won Assembly District 14 over Matt Adamzyk because both Waukesha and Milwaukee counties had tabulation changes that swung her 153 more votes. 


About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.  


Thursday, November 1, 2018

AS TRUMP FADES, LIGHT WILL SHINE AGAIN ON CARAVAN

By Dominique Paul Noth

We will know Nov. 6 how right the Democrats were in their races across the nation to largely ignore Trump, assuming every voter knew how they despised him, and just stick with issues of local concern like health care, jobs and universal background checks their election can do something about.

Trump disgust has been an unspoken reality. Everyone knows the election intends to be a curb on the president’s tendencies to dangerous excess in policies and language, blocking in a real way his misuse of the military, ignorance on climate change, misreading of global alliances and corruption of economic cohesion.

It would also be nice to begin restoring the English language to sensibility and importance.  Believe it or not before Trump it had dignity and elegance and an exciting role in ideas, political discourse, poetry, romance and actual interchange rather than a pompous filibuster.

It’s been painful how Trump has constantly cheapened the language he touches, even within a clearly limited fourth grader vocabulary.  Simple words and phrases that used to connect ideas are in his mouth mere moments to adjust his dentures.

His desire  to stoke up fear and self-flattery may be too ingrained to ever change, but he keeps reaching out, adopting and then misusing words that once had alluring meanings in society and culture.

Such as caravan. It used to reverberate with images of desert intrigue, adventurous hardships and gypsy romance, the wonders of traveling into the unknown with a destination at the end.  The vision of an invading horde of migrants sweeping down on the US was a laughable redefinition from the start, as if Pancho Villa always intended a caravan rather than horsemen and rifles.

I can recall when Milwaukee voters used to arrange caravans to go to Madison to protest one bill or another, never thinking that it was anything but getting from one place to another.  Riding those busses up the steps of the Capitol to seize and throttle bad legislators?  Never. That’s what elections are for – and in a nicer way.

When did a method of protecting travelers on arduous journeys become a vision of evil marauders?  Only in Trump semantics (yes, I know he and most of his followers will have to look up that word). Particularly with a caravan a thousand miles away and predicted even by the Pentagon to dwindle in the month it takes asylum seekers to  arrive to  a few hundred mainly women and children seeking to lay their case before American authorities, as is their right under  long established laws.

Trump wants them greeted by 15,000 troops, more than enough to help them change diapers but a curious use of an estimated $50 million of taxpayer money and soldiers’ time.

Alas for caravan and its appeal over generations. In 1937 it was a movie title used to lure swooning females to Charles Boyer – years before Hollywood discovered he was far more than a romantic idol and really could act. The women were, of course, being misled by advertising because he was the gypsy lover – but in a German operetta! Yet another reminder how the word had flown around the world as a magic term for the exotic.  

In the 1960s author James Michener sought to use “Caravans” as the cover for an exploration of the cultural and even romantic similarities (of all things!) between the US and mysterious Afghanistan, long before Afghanistan became such a toxic word in the American lexicon. Trump now wants to send three times as many troops to the border with Mexico than control the country that sheltered Osama bin Laden.

 “Caravan” despite Trump is a most famous and hypnotic word in American music.  There are many exciting renditions of this classic by Duke Ellington and trombonist Juan Tizol (one of Puerto Rico’s greatest gifts to jazz). For my money the best is by Ella Fitzgerald (who else?).

But the most famous appearance in contemporary culture is the climactic moment in the 2014 movie “Whiplash” when the Ellington standard is used to bring down the house and make a hero of its young drummer, a moment captured on YouTube.

(I concede it still sticks in my head. I was fortunate to see this film and herald its brilliance before it started winning awards left and right.)

But we digress. On purpose. The less we think about Trump the better for our sanity.  In a few months, I suspect, Trump’s evil perversion of immigrants, asylum, sanctuary and caravan – once noble words in the language – will vanish as he will from our memories; the original power and humanity of the terms will return.

Ignoring him – as a temporary pimple on the American body politic -- is the most effective course.


About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs and Internet and consumer news. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at milwaukeelabor.org.  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his culture and politics outlets known as Dom's Domain.  He also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee.