cider and his Packer snowman buddy are ready for the big game today!

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Happy Haloween to beloved cats everywhere!

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Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s beloved cat, surveys London’s Gough Square, looking toward the home of his master, who would go to the market to buy oysters for him. Johnson, greatest wit of 18th century London, wrote the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language in this now restored house, which we visited a couple years ago when researching “Samuel Johnson and His Clubbable Friends” for my essay presented to the Chicago Literary Club (www.chilit.org).

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I have a home near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin — surrounded by farm country — and traveling back and forth frequently to Chicago, I pass by many fields where scattered cattle contentedly graze. But more and more often I also pass the growing number of factory farms, where I see these long open-sided barns with the rear ends of hundreds of cattle, tails wagging in tiny pens under bright lights 24 hours a day.

I guess they are being fattened up for market. But I find the sight of these cattle, being treated as so much walking meat instead of proud animals enjoying some vestige of normal life, depressing and upsetting. Yes, I once worked for a prominent fast food company, and I know that burger places want to keep their prices low by buying less expensive meat. So do homemakers. But I’d willingly pay the extra few cents to know that cattle are treated humanely while they live.

When I was a boy, my father had an “ooo-ga” horn installed on his car, and when we went on country drives, he would pull up to a field fence and sound it, and cows and steers would sidle up to the fence and “moo” back. I guess those days are gone, but I still like to see cattle in the field, contentedly grazing with their young ones. That’s worth something to me.

I always look to CBS’s “Sunday Morning” program to add brightness to my spirit over coffee, before the later news shows bring it back down. What a crying shame that the geniuses at CBS chose to preempt the wonderful “Sunday Morning” today for some lousy football game!

Bring back “Sunday Morning,” one of the last scraps of American culture on television. My knee is down on CBS until they wake up and smell that coffee again. “Sunday Morning” is a weekly “Super Bowl” of uplifting, educational and meaningful entertainment. Shame on CBS!!!!!

I don’t often weigh in on Trump online, because, where does one start? However today, I’m motivated, because in addition to smiling through the assassination of a Washington Post journalist, Trump has lashed out at his former treasured personal lawyer Michael Cohen as nothing but a “PR person who did small legal work.”

Then, of course, he decided to crunch down on the porn star that he had Michael Cohen buy off after he had an affair with her while he was married by decrying her as a “horseface.”

My only comment is that the President of the United States is a very small person; too small to waste any time on, if he hadn’t been raised to such an exalted position by people who are amused by such revelations.

As an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and someone who is proud of my lifetime of work building communications bridges between organizations and the public, I am offended by this very small person who is temporarily cluttering up office space in the People’s House.

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Interesting to see some background on top associates of the Trump White House, as reported in Craig Unger’s new book, “House of Trump. House of Putin.”

“By the 80s, attorney Patrick “Paddy” McGahn had become the new boss of Atlantic City, and with his brother state legislator Joseph McGahn, brought legalized gambling and Donald Trump to New Jersey. Trump, it turned out, was lucky to have them on his side.

“One of the first problems Trump encountered was that part of the land he wanted was owned by Salvatore “Salvie” Testa and Frank Narducci, Jr., two mafia hit men who worked for Atlantic City mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo and were known as the Young Executioners.

“Some of Trump’s acquaintances who were close to individuals associated with the New Jersey mafia proved to be valuable allies in the future.  Dan McGahn, the nephew of both Paddy and Joseph Mcgahn, later became White House counsel to the Trump Administration. In addition, White House counselor Kelly-Anne Conway, who also served as Trump’s campaign manager, is the grand daughter of Jimmy “the Brute” DiNatale, an associate of LIttle Nicky Scarfo.”

Keep this in mind, in this era of the Chief Executive who says that “the media are the enemy of the people.”

This is the full quotation by legal and social reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832):

“Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion, and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial.

In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape, have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks, applicable to judicial injustice, operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice.”

NO! Trump has declared that over and over. Along with admonitions of “fake news.”

The truth is that the press of this country are the full-time keepers of the First Amendment — of the right to the truth. The people of the press are not always successful at telling the truth, sometimes because their sources lie to them, sometimes because they are not good enough at their craft, or sometimes because they can’t step beyond the personal agendas we all have. Journalists must try to suppress such bad behavior for the sake of truth and balance.

The press, too, are often the bearers of bad news, news we often don’t want to hear. But if we are to live full and honest lives, we deserve to have the truth available to us, even though sometimes we cannot bear to look.

Tonight, I watched a fairly new movie, “Shock and Awe,” the story produced by Carl Reiner of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain’s lonely battle to tell the truth about the fast roll of the Bush Jr. administration into war in Iraq in 2003.  Virtually every other major media was seduced by high level spin that Iraq was heading into nuclear capability and that with a powerful stroke the U.S.could turn Iraq toward democracy and help defend Israel and turn the nation into an oil pump for our nation.

Of course, none of that was the truth, and Knight-Ridder alone revealed as much, though they were largely ignored by most. The reason they got it right, while other media did not? Knight-Ridder worked the story hard instead of relying on government press releases and relied on mid-level government sources for their info, and not the highest level of government that had an agenda, not based upon facts but upon political aspirations and blind vengeance.

The press, when they operate independently, serve to protect the interests of the people, even from the accidental or intentional malfeasance of the government they elect.

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