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Week that Was: Sequester, the pontiff and a racing sausage

1:38 PM, Mar. 1, 2013  |  Comments
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Gannett Wisconsin Media political cartoonist Joe Heller got it right in his cartoon this week that depicted a crazed-looking Uncle Sam stumbling into a crisis center and the employee saying, "He's a regular here." We've now had a series of scheduled crises brought upon us by Washington dysfunction, and the dumb, blunt automatic government spending cuts known as the sequester are just the latest of these.

When we expressed disgust earlier in the week at lack of a compromise to avert the sequester, some readers interpreted it as taking the side of President Barack Obama in his standoff with House Republicans. Certainly there's a reading of the situation that is favorable to the president, and readers are free to take that interpretation if they wish.

But our point was a different one. The sequester won't cause airplanes to fall out of the sky or make everything in our lives stop working. But the cuts it would impose if no deal can be struck would be severe - and unwise. It is not scaremongering to report on the reality of these cuts. It's just a fact: They're bad. They're not desirable, and they are literally no one's idea of the best way to cut the deficit. Let's get rid of them and find smarter ways of cutting government spending and reducing the deficit.

But while the sequester might have gripped Washington, there were a number of other items worth mentioning in the week's news:

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We featured a story about the way technology is changing the experience for Roman Catholics of finding out who the next pope will be. It's a fascinating juxtaposition, the ancient institution and the modern communication methods. One of the minor legacies of Pope Benedict XVI, who officially stepped down Thursday, will be that he was the first pope to use Twitter, where his following of some 1.6 million people will be passed on to the next @Pontifex.

It's a cliche to say it, but an event of truly massive worldwide interest, such as the choosing of a pope, makes this clear: We are living in an era of connection like never before seen. As disseminators of information ourselves, we can't help but think there's something cool, and awe-inspiring, about the speed with which news now travels.

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It was a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 7-foot Italian sausage costume Brewers fans call - in potentially ethnically insensitive fashion - "Guido." But we all are just glad he made it back to Miller Park safely. Perhaps it's best not to ask too many questions.

Yes, the costume famous from the Brewers' sausage races turned up in a Cedarburg bar Wednesday after going missing in mid-February after a fundraiser. The bartender where the suit was found said he was instructed by two men that "You did not see anything." What matters most, of course, is that Guido now can be reunited with his encased meat costume brothers, the Bratwurst, the Polish Sausage, the Hot Dog and the Chorizo. The Racing Sausages are whole once more.

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Not that many people noticed, but we actually had an election last week. Final statewide numbers aren't in yet, but we are on track for less than 10 percent voter turnout in the race that decided primary elections for the state Supreme Court and some local offices.

In Lincoln County, where voters narrowed the slate of Merrill School Board candidates from seven candidates to six for three seats, turnout was 9.9 percent of registered voters. In Marathon County, it was 8.6 percent.

Look, we know these races are never going to be as closely watched as a presidential election. But those numbers are terrible. Maybe it's time to dust off proposals to combine local elections with fall elections, which are more likely to attract actual voters. It is worth considering, at least.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
574 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1015 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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