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Saturday, March 5, 2011


Saturday, 9:00 AM.  27 degrees, wind NNE, moderate.  The sky is overcast and there are snow flurries in the air.  If the wind picks up we may get some lake effect snowfall.  I saw a mole running across the snow this morning.
    Fourteen Democrat Wisconsin State senators remain AWOL, hiding out in Illinois to deny a quorum (Republicans hold nineteen senate seats, twenty senators are needed for a quorum) effectively shutting down most legislation that has a fiscal component. They have been absent for almost three weeks and show little inclination to return.
    When I was a young man I owned a succession of hunting dogs.  The first was Pepper, an English pointer-German short hair mix that was a fine bird dog, but he had a tendency to go AWOL, Absent Without Leave, which usually involved some girlfriend or other.  Now as a male myself I could sympathize with that proclivity to an extent, but I was very unhappy if his unauthorized R and R  occurred during hunting season.  After all, I fed and housed him very well all year long so that he could perform his professional duties when required. 
    Dogs are expensive creatures, as any dog owner knows.  Food, grooming, vet visits, shots, medications, licenses, boarding…on and on.  Legislators are even more expensive than dogs, particularly when all their percs are added to their base salaries. And, like hunting dogs during the bird season, the people who pay the bills, their owners, expect them to be around to do the job when the legislature is in session, not AWOL to some resort in Illinois.     
    Now some bird dog owners are not really serious about bird hunting, and are so taken with their dogs as house pets that they will excuse selfish, irresponsible canines gone AWOL.  And I guess there are constituents that are willing to do the same for their politicians.  But as I see it, such dog owners may as well give up bird hunting, and such constituents may as well give up voting, as both endeavors become nothing more than an expensive, meaningless charade, where the dog owns the person, and the politician owns the constituent.
    The result is in the one case is there are no birds for the table, while the dog goes right on eating; in the other  there is no important business done for the state, while the politician continues to have his face in the trough.
    Wisconsin state legislators, both assemblymen and senators, have salaries of over $49,000  per year, plus a generous per diem and other emoluments.  They have offices and paid staff, and are in session only a few months of the year, allowing time to  have a business or a law practice.

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