Photos of the Week (12/17/17)

2) Supporters of Doug Jones celebrate as the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is declared the winner during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

3) Surfers in a California seaside community hit the beach to catch waves, despite smoke-filled skies from a looming wildfire. Some surfers wore masks for protection. The so-called Thomas fire, one of several burning around the state, has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes. And it has stretched across nearly 370 square miles of territory, making it the fifth largest in state history. Photos: David McNew / Getty Images

4) A little girl holds a white balloon at the border wall between Mexico and the United States during the “Keep Our Dream alive” event in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Dec. 10. At the event, families separated by the border were reunited for three minutes through the fence that separates Ciudad Juarez Park in Mexico and Sunland in New Mexico. Photo: Herika Martinez / AFP – Getty Images

5) In Pyeongchang, South Korea, vehicles explode as part of a security drill ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

6) In Grenada, a photograph issued by the University of Exeter shows a leatherback turtle entangled in fishing ropes. Research has found that more than a thousand marine turtles die every year after becoming entangled in rubbish in the oceans and on beaches. Photograph: Kate Charles/Ocean Spirits/PA

7) National Geographic has announced the winners of its annual photo competition. The Grand Prize Winner and First Place finisher in the Wildlife category: A male orangutan peers from behind a tree while crossing a river in Borneo, Indonesia. Rampant palm oil cultivation threatens this critically endangered ape, forcing the normally arboreal species to resort to unusual behavior—such as wading through crocodile-infested rivers—in order to survive. Photo: Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan / 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

8) The People’s Choice winner in the  National Geographic Wildlife category:  A great gray owl hunting rodents in a field in New Hampshire, US. This bird was a rare visitor to this area and was worth the 7 1/2 hour drive to see it. The owl was not baited or called and this photo is during a natural hunt. Baiting has become a hot topic recently and it is very unfortunate that many people do it for the sake of a photo. With these owls in particular if you are patient enough you will see them hunt. They are not shy nor very intimidated by people. Photo: Harry Collins/ 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

9) The 2nd Place winner in the Wildlife category: An adult Caribbean pink flamingo feeds a chick in Yucatán, Mexico. Both parents alternate feeding chicks, at first with a liquid baby food called crop milk, and then with regurgitated food.  Photo: Alejandro Prieto/ 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

10) The 3rd Place winner in the Wildlife category: Two grey herons spar as a white-tailed eagle looks on in Hungary. Photo: Bence Mate/ 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

11) Workers carve the sculpture “Snow Song Winter Olympics” for the Harbin Ice Festival on Dec. 12 in Harbin, China. The annual festival runs from Dec. 20 until Feb. 28. Photo: Tao Zhang / Getty Images

12) Three-year-old Josh Bedford runs through artist Ron Mueck’s world-premiere installation “Mass” consisting of 100 larger-than-life human skulls each measuring 1.5m x 2m during a media preview of NGV Triennial at NGV International in Melbourne, Australia, on December 15, 2017. Photo: Scott Barbour / Getty

13) A female leopard looks up from inside a deep well that it fell into near a residential area on a hill on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, on December 13, 2017. Veterinarian and forest officials tranquilized and rescued the leopard before sending it to the state zoological park in Gauhati.  Photo: Anupam Nath / AP

14) A squirrel tries to steal a cigarette from Tony Bousell, who is on a break from work, near the Southbank area of London, England, on December 13, 2017. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

15) An AT-AT walker at the Los Angeles premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the Shrine Auditorium. Photograph: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

16) BB8 on the red carpet. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

17) R2-D2 and C-3PO walk the red carpet. Photograph: Danny Moloshok/Reuters

18) Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley together at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

19) Green Bay Packer running back Aaron Jones celebrates after scoring the winning touchdown in overtime last Sunday against Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field. Photos: Adam Wesley, USA TODAY Network



Week-ends (12/16/17)


Paris Strickland

Graeme Cooper

Ariana Luterman


Dr. Xavier Soto


Andrea Ramsey

The NY Times


“Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.

Gov. Scott Walker says he would be “completely shocked” if House Speaker Paul Ryan did not run for re-election next year. Ryan on Thursday denied reports that he plans to leave Congress after the Republican tax bill is approved. Walker said Friday he spoke with Ryan and “he’s not going anywhere.” When asked if he were going to continue with his re-election campaign, Walker says he presumes that to be the case and “I’d be completely shocked if that were to change.”
The Associated Press

“Abortion, sodomy, and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even our political process has been affected with baseless and false allegations which have become more relevant than the issues which affect our country. No longer is this about Republican or Democratic control. It has truly been said that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between them. It is about a Washington establishment which will not listen to the cries of its citizenry — and the battle rages on.”
Roy Moore refusing to concede his loss in Alabama’s US Senate election

 “I would certainly say he should.”
President Trump when asked if Moore should concede

“Roy Moore won’t concede; says will wait on God to speak. God wasn’t registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn’t close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy. I know first hand but it’s best to exit with class.”
Former GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is the father of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. In the race for one of Alabama’s seats in the U.S. Senate, Doug Jones received 50 percent of the vote to Roy Moore’s 48.4 percent. Recounts in the state are automatically called when a candidate wins by less than 0.5 percent.

“No one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.”
Christianity Today editor Mark Galli talking about evangelical Christian support for Roy Moore, despite credible accusations of sexual assault of teenage girls

“It’s a much more poisonous atmosphere. I don’t know if there’s causality or correlation, I leave that for others to determine.   But I could not honestly say to someone that I like and think is a halfway decent human being, ‘Yeah, you ought to run for office’.”
Ed Gillespie, in his first interview since losing the Virginia governor’s race last month. The Republican was a guest on “The Axe Files” podcast with Democratic strategist David Axelrod.

I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional. I am profoundly sorry.”
U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announcing he would retire when his term expires in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”
President Trump ripping the New York Democrat on Twitter after she called for him to step down amid allegations of sexual harassment

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”
The USA Today editorial board

“You can have my vote if you have sex with me.”
Former New Mexico state Rep. Thomas A. Garcia’s alleged response to Vanessa Alarid, a lobbyist, when she asked him if she could count on his support for a bill that could come down to a single vote. He then kissed her, and she pulled away. The next day, said bill failed by one vote and received a “no” from Garcia.

“Charges of harassment are cascading through statehouses across the country, leading to investigations, resignations of powerful men and anguish over hostile workplaces for women that for years went unacknowledged.”
The New York Times

“I would think they would need the ad revenue.  I would think they need the ad revenue rather than turning it down and, as I understand, the ads they wanted to place said ‘the perfect gift for Christmas’ and had a picture of three wise men. If anybody needed three wise men, it’s metro and WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) so I mean they ought to put that in every single train car as far as I’m concerned.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told reporters how he felt about D.C. Metro rejecting a Catholic Christmas ad because of its new policy against “issue oriented” ads.

“Paul Ryan revealed that he hasn’t eaten sweets in 10 years, and said that he’d rather eat grilled asparagus than a Snickers. Americans were like, “And we thought Roy Moore was a monster!”
Late night host Jimmy Fallon talking about the House speaker’s eating habits


Wisconsin’s Secret Police


New Analysis Shows Federal Tax Reform Could Add Over 65,000 Jobs to Wisconsin’s Economy and Boost Wages by Nearly $2.5 Billion

How about that Melania!


After Alabama, Democrats are poised to take the House and Senate. The GOP is dead.

Also, Star Wars. But…


Animal rescue fakes dog’s death during custody battle

Today’s highly interesting read (12/16/17): 11 Things Every Real Conservative Should Ask On A First Date

I recall vividly how I asked my wife Jennifer out for the very first time.

I said I’d like to go out with you. She said yes, and we went out, and later, got married.

Times have changed. There’s a faction on the left advocating screening a potential date to make sure they politically qualify.

Columnist Kurt Schlichter has his own thoughts.

But as conservatives, it’s vital that we also do some screening of our own. After all, the last thing we want to do is inadvertently turn down a Darwinian not-a-through-street and spawn more liberals. I’m out of the dating game thanks to my closed-minded, heavily-armed, hot American-Cuban wife, but let me try to help out you singleberries with some questions to assist you in detecting any right-swipes who are actually covert leftist weirdos, losers, and/or mutations.

You can read his 11 questions in the entire column here.

Other highly interesting reads from this week:

Today’s highly interesting read (12/15/17): Stop Blaming Charters

Today’s highly interesting read (12/14/17): The Warlock Hunt

Today’s highly interesting read (12/13/17): Political Journalists Have Themselves To Blame For Sinking Credibility

Today’s highly interesting read (12/12/17): Trump’s courage and cunning confound his opponents

Today’s highly interesting read (12/11/17): No One Ever Drowned in Roy Moore’s Car


The Barking Lot – America’s Finest Dog Blog (12/16/17)

The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of This Just In…Written by my lovely wife, Jennifer and me.  It opens with the weekend dog walking forecast followed by the main blog from dog lover, Jennifer. Then it’s DOGS IN THE NEWS and our close. Enjoy!

THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.

TODAY Mostly cloudy. High of 35. “D”

SUNDAY:  Cloudy. High of 38. “D”

Now, here’s my lovely wife, Jennifer with this week’s main blog.

Regular readers of The Barking Lot know that I have zero tolerance for stupid pet owners who leave their dogs in the car during hot summer months.

On the other side of seasons…

In Wisconsin we actually see temperatures colder than ALASKA.

Air Hurts My Face Cartoon


You bundle up as best you can to fight the elements but unless you are wearing a heated coat you are just going to be cold.  Plain and simple.  The best you can do for relief is take a warm vacation or win the lottery and move.

So… you think because your dog is always wearing a fur coat that he or she is impervious to cold temperatures?  Guess again.  Leaving your dog in a cold car during the winter can be just as dangerous as leaving them in the car during the summer.  Both choices make me brand you “stupid” or at the very least “thoughtless and irresponsible” despite any arguments you offer of loving your dog and will be only a minute in the store.

Use the brains God gave you.  Don’t leave your dog in a cold car.  And while we’re talking about cold weather and dogs why not check out these additional suggestions and precautions, just in case you’re lacking in the Common Sense Department.

I know, usually my portion of the blog is the sweet, warm & fuzzy part.  Not when it comes to endangering your dog because you think your shopping & errands will only be a minute.
Jennifer Fischer

Thanks, Jennifer!

Time now for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.

‘Puppy Mills’ targeted by one State, activists seek others.

Woman says she faces criminal charges for rescuing starving dog.

How 3,000 very good golden retrievers could help all dogs live longer.

Shelter dogs could go vegan in Los Angeles.

Dog Found Deaf & Alone At Gas Station Learns Sign Language to find home.

We usually don’t write about cats. After all, this is a dog blog. Here’s an exception.

Midway bomb-sniffing dog has a pooping problem.



Scout & Dan

That’s my longtime friend Dan Wildt, a fellow member of the Wisconsin Scorers and Timers Association with his grandpuppy, “Scout.”

Scout & Kayla

That’s “Scout” with Dan’s granddaughter, Kayla Kocovsky. They’re at Kayla’s
Waukesha home.

Very, very nice.

We close as we always do with our closing video.

CNN reports on Piper, the Aviation Bird Dog.

That’s it for this week.

Thanks for stopping by.

See ya, BARK, next week!

Goodnight everyone, and have an old fashioned Christmas weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

As a writer I love good writing. OK, that wasn’t the greatest writing, but you get my point.

Before we get to the music some really, really good writing. It comes from freelance writer Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg and a piece she wrote for USA TODAY posted on December 22, 2015. Here’s a portion to serve as an intro to this week’s music:

I recently went through an old closet and came across some forgotten photo albums. There was Christmas in every single one. In the old albums, there were my grandparents, my parents and me as a child in front of a tinseled tree. In more recent albums, there were the pictures of my own children and grandchildren — their glee with their new toys.

I ached. These were times I wanted to return to — places where there was so much love, captured briefly and vividly in those out-of-focus pictures, from long ago and far away.

Perhaps we should all spend some time with our old albums, movies or slides this season and revisit those ephemeral places in our emotional to take a nostalgic Christmas journey through our own lives. There, we might relive those days that were distilled to a kind of purity, innocence and joy, far from today’s troubles and ugliness, a place evil can never reach.

This week, Christmases past, from a musical point of view.

We begin with this appropriate song. It’s from the brother-sister combo that put out in my view the two best Christmas albums ever, period. Karen and Richard…

The album that was released in 1984 after Karen Carpenter died featured tracks that were not on the Carpenters’ first Christmas album.

Don’t have these albums? Go out and get them. I’m serious. They’re the absolute best in so many ways. Great orchestrations, arrangements, and of course, that angelic, irreplaceable voice.

Back to that wonderful column by Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg:

In fact, with my foray into the back closet, I discovered there were no bad Christmases in those albums. We didn’t take pictures of them. Holidays that were blighted by difficult circumstances or traumatic times had gone into oblivion. I smiled at the thought that when my heirs go through this closet again someday, they will find only the true heart and soul of my Christmases: the tug-at-the-heart memories of perfect togetherness, enveloping love, immortalized fun, thrilling gifts, meticulously prepared feasts and endearingly decorated places.

Much of the focus this week will be on music from childhoods of decades ago, music you won’t hear on FM Radio stations.

Next up, this ensemble was a group of studio musicians who recorded a series of easy listening instrumental albums for Capitol Records at the peak of the British Invasion era. This band of musicians covered tunes from just about anybody who was big.

Let’s put it this way. My dad didn’t buy a Beatles album. But he bought the Hollyridge Strings’ albums of Beatles hits.

The producers of the Christmas Cocktails CD series put together a medley of two hits from a 1960’s album by the Hollyridge Strings. Tell me you haven’t heard these in ages, and if you haven’t, do they bring back classic memories? Listen to this blog, then immediately order the Hollyridge Strings CD. It’s in my wife’s car right now for her and Kyla to enjoy.
From 1965.

This next one is tough to find. As a kid you heard it a gazillion times. Alas, you’ll never hear it on the radio stations doing the same 15 songs over and over and over again.

The artist is David Rose.


Certainly you remember David Rose.


Wrong album.

Hard to imagine that the orchestra leader who is most famous for the bump and grind anthem “The Stripper” also gave us a beloved compilation of Christmas music. This is a track from a 1968 album you’ll definitely hear if you walk along Main Street in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World this time of year.

A Sunday night tradition in our house when I was growing up was to gather as a family in the living room and watch the Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan worked as a journalist before hosting variety shows in the 1930s and ’40s. His Sunday night program was the longest-running TV variety show in history, that had great guest stars like the Supremes, the Beatles, Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley and many more. Sullivan died on October 13, 1974.

This album was released in 1960.
The Ed Sullivan Show Dancers, 1955

Speaking of the Beatles and Elvis, when kids were buying their records it was the  parents who were spending money on recordings by Bert Kaempfert, a composer of light, very popular melodies who hailed from Hamburg.

Kaempfert met Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best at the Top Ten Club on the Reeperbahn. They called themselves the “Beat Brothers” and did backup for British singer and guitarist Tony Sheridan. Kaempfert produced their single, “My Bonnie,” the first official recording ever made by the Fab Four.

On March 20, 1965, the Top Ten of the Billboard chart included artists like the Beatles, the Supremes, Roger Miller, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Temptations, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys.  Kaempfert was good enough to reach #11 with “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.”

His only Christmas album released in 1963 has the usual batch of Christmas tunes, and this original written by Kaempfert. The album notes predicted this would become a lasting favorite.

We’re now passing this music down to Kyla who loves these classics.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Here’s one last excerpt from that Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg column.

Which picture or Christmas album is dearest to you? Which photos summon up remembrance of Christmases past and let you move there again? Is it the one of the 5-year-old before an old-fashioned Christmas tree? Is it the kiss of newlyweds under the mistletoe? Or is it of the beloved old folks from a bygone era, solemnly gathered around the table, praying in gratitude?

We close with dueling pianists Ferrante and Teicher and bandleader Les Baxter.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: I got a hat for Christmas, and there’s a problem

Oh this is good.

So good.

But first…

Do you know who this is? By the way, the answer is probably yes.

That’s Mel Blanc.

He was the voice of many great cartoon characters.

I said many.

Those are just a few.

He’s Mel Blanc. To say he was immensely talented is an understatement.

In 1957 Blanc recorded a Christmas song that is, in my view, absolutely hilarious.

Here’s a clue, a photo from our 2016 family vacation.

Sombreros 2015

You won’t hear this oldie on the radio this December because it’s not PC.

One Canadian columnist even calls it “dark,” writing “the outrageous accent used throughout the song suggests that those who do not match the accepted standards of North America will face inherent racism, never being allowed to fit in, an argument that skilfully hidden in the suggestion that even their hats won’t fit. Metaphorically, there is also the message of a lack of understanding: if you’re not from here, we can’t be bothered to get your hat size right.”

Seriously? Get a grip you idiot!

Again, I find this song dripping with good humor. it’s actually genius.


Today’s highly interesting read (12/15/17): Stop Blaming Charters

I’m well aware of the critics who would prefer the one-size fits all monopoly of the failed public school system.

Today’s read is from Marcus A. Winters is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an associate professor at Boston University. Here’s an excerpt:

Charter schools, critics have long maintained, exist to the detriment of traditional public schools. As the argument goes, charters—public schools, independently run (often by nonprofit organizations) and operating free of central district control but subject to government-accountability systems—siphon resources and the best students from local traditional public schools, degrading these schools for the students who remain in them. And charters harm the traditional public school system further by tossing back low-performing students.

“Both charters and vouchers drain away resources from the public schools, even as they leave the neediest, most expensive students to the public schools to educate,” Diane Ravitch writes in The New York Review of Books, in a representative formulation. The pattern persists, Ravitch and other critics say, until it creates a death spiral for vulnerable, low-performing public schools.

 There’s one problem: empirical evidence points the other way.

Read more here.

Stay with us

Still to come today, our Friday night music features. This week another Forgotten Christmas Oldie, and another compilation of Christmas music you won’t hear on the radio.

Wake up Saturday morning to our Cartoons of the Week and the dog blog my wife and I co-write.

And Sunday it’s Photos of the Week and Culinary no-no, and you never know what else.

Thanks for checking in.

Today’s highly interesting read (12/14/17): The Warlock Hunt

Today’s read is authored by a woman who was victimized by a stalker. Her take on the recent sexual harassment epidemic may surprise, even stun you.

Claire Berlinski sees the anti-pervert movement as a moral panic, one that’s reached hysteria. Here’s an excerpt:

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication,  and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh.

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.

In recent weeks, one after another prominent voice, many of them political voices, have been silenced by sexual harassment charges. Not one of these cases has yet been adjudicated in a court of law.

Read the entire column here.