Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marking Yellow Snow


Rebel Beckham Grimmer is the beloved 8 year-old Goldendoodle of our Madison household.  Our children feel he’s a bit too beloved, as every evening when their mother walks into the house from work her routine is to cry out:  “Where’s my Doodle?”  before addressing any of the rest of us.  The boys picked “Rebel” as the dog’s name after overruling my first choice.  I wanted “Beckham” for David Beckham, the famed English footballer (and husband of Posh Spice) who had, at the time, just joined Raul, Zidane, Figo, and Ronaldo, as part of the Galacticos of Real Madrid in the Spanish league.   I am the only one who ever attaches a middle name to the sweet beast, since I am a sore loser.
Rebel has an interesting (not unique) trait on our morning walks that you only notice in the winter, when snow’s on either side of the greenway path.  He is incapable of passing a patch of yellow snow left behind by one of the other dogs in the neighborhood, without sniffing it for ten seconds and then lifting his leg and marking over the top of it.  (We taught him as a pup the old saw:  “If you want to run with the big dogs, you have to learn to lift your leg.”)  Rebel can’t stand to let some other dogs think they have carved out territory for themselves along our neighborhood path.  His capacity for showing his dominance is limited only by his incredible bladd. . . uhh, you get the picture.  It is just his unthinking automatic behavior at work, an instinctive canine desire. 
Driven by a similar instinctive desire to show their dominance, the Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature, led by Governor Walker, have come to power determined to put their own “mark” over the top of what the Democrats have done in recent years, cancelling out that of the Democrats.
     Funding four year old kindergarten and AP classes?  “Defund them!”   
     Passing water quality standards keeping our lakes attractive for tourism?  Over-turn them!”  
     Assisting public transit for the ten percent of Wisconsinites who rely on it, graciously helping to improve air quality and lowering dependence on $3.60 gas?  Slash public transit, and throw those annoying federal transit subsidies out the window by killing collective bargaining for municipal transit workers!” 
     Protecting the Veterans’ Trust Fund, for the care of aged vets?   Raid it!”
     Proposing lowering our reliance on highways?  “Kill High-Speed Rail. Shift transit funds into road building! Remember our road-builder friends! ”
     Passing environmental laws that apply equally across the state?  “Help our donor friend in Ashwaubenon!”
     Allowing "good time credit" for prison inmates, encouraging less violence and protecting guards, while lowering costs for the Department of Corrections?  “Do away with it!  Show the citizens we are really tough on crime!  Shift money from public schools and the UW System to Corrections to show how tough on crime we can be!”
     Facing the same kind of budget deficit the Democrats addressed, in part, in the last biennium by a one percent marginal tax on only the very highest earnings of the very highest income earners in the state?   “Lower taxes on the very wealthy!  Balance the budget on the backs of public workers and at the expense of public school children!”
     Protecting the impartiality of the State’s top labor mediator by making it a civil service position?  “Change it to a political appointee!  If we don’t get what we need in fighting the unions, we’ll can the guy!”
     Keeping tax increases available as a potential remedy for future budget deficits?  “No!  We’ll pass this law that says two-thirds of both houses must OK increases!  That will keep our Tea Party supporters happy!”
     Maintaining a fifty-year tradition of labor peace by providing for local governments and employee unions to bargain with one another to solve local problems?  “Screw that noise!  We know what is best for Eau Claire and Kenosha and Wausau!  Besides, it will gut the ability of the unions as a political force to counter our friends the big corporations!  Hooray!  We win forever!”
Funding quality public schools in Wisconsin?  “Those pesky public teachers hate us!  Let’s throw our support behind private schools by shifting funding to choice and charter schools!”

I could go on, but that’s enough.  Trying to alter the behavior of the new crop of Tea Party Republicans through reason is probably as fruitless as trying to reason with a lovable but somewhat dense Goldendoodle.  With Rebel I can give the leash a firm tug when he is getting goofy.  Think of the recall movement as a very strong leash.


  1. I went to Sonic a day or so ago and the car next to me had Two goldendoodles in the backseat. One looked like she could be Rebels sister. I was homesick for Rebel.
    Love, Mom

  2. Hey, Kim, do you think mom thought this blog was about Rebel?