George Jefferies, JFK, And The Love Of Money

Two different stories played out over the past few days that my readers doubtless have heard about.  Yet I wonder if anyone has made the connection between the two.  In the end, the stories say a lot about our country.

While resting and staying low while fighting a cold I was drawn into the legal quagmire of the Anna Nicole Smith burial battle.  Cable TV aired wall-to-wall coverage, and Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin who presided on the bench, was a character that John Grisham only wishes he could have created for one of his punchy reads.  The lawyers were swarming, and the various sides were seething.  Each person who took the stand stated his or her love and admiration for Anna.  Then with some more questioning the person on the stand was soon forced to admit they had made money from her tragic life.  They had taken money for interviews, sold photos, or allowed entertainment programs to abuse their close proximity to the celebrity.  After each one left the stand I felt a need to shower.  It was shameless and pathetic. The love of money and fame started this wretched tale many years ago, and it is far from over as I write today.

Now compare that story to the one of George Jefferies who took a home movie of a gallant President and his stunning and beautiful wife on a November afternoon in Dallas in 1963.  Jefferies made the film of President Kennedy and Jacqueline roughly 90 seconds before deadly shots changed Camelot.  After Jefferies learned the President was dead he had the film developed and allowed only very close family and friends to see it.  The film remained in a drawer in the man’s home until the footage was donated this week to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

In this messed up country today one needs to ask why Jefferies did not make hard cold cash, and get some fame along the way, by releasing the video?

“I probably could of but in the first place I never thought about it and I don’t think it’s right. Now, I love money, but I don’t think it’s right to make money on the President Kennedy’s death,” says George.

How utterly refreshing!  How humane!  The difference between how Jefferies reacted in 1963, and how the cannibalistic tribe performed on national TV from Florida this week should make us all wonder where our society is headed. 

The film from Jefferies is remarkable for its rich color and clarity.   Not only does it make me yearn for Camelot, but also for a time when most of our society was more polite.

BREAKING NEWS: Lieberman Says War Vote Could Prompt Party Switch

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties, but suggested Democratic opposition to funding the Iraq war might change his mind.

Diagnosis: Influenza

I now know why I had a 101-degree temperature.  My doctor’s office called this afternoon alerting me to the results of the nasal swab and blood sample.  I was reluctant to go the doctor on Monday but high fevers unnerve me, so in we went.  They were concerned enough at the clinic to also give me an x-ray, but my smoke free lungs were fine.  (Yeah, I may be sick but this is still a political blog!)  I have influenza, but as my white blood cells are strong they are only recommending fluids and rest.   Since I feel a little exhausted I may not blog for a day or two.  But even with a fever I voted on Tuesday….if you had no fever and did not vote…….shame!

The odd thing is my appetite over the past three days has not changed.  I am hungry and eating like I am totally fine.  James would have it no other way! Mashed potatoes and gravy still looks great.  My chest feels lousy, my nose is running, my fever is now low-grade, and the new box of chocolate covered cherries are nearly gone.  Go figure! 

Will be back soon.

New Jersey Civil Unions Not Enough

In light of the Garden State becoming the third state to allow for civil unions for gay couples, I offer a cautionary note over getting too excited about ‘justice’.

The old adage that half a loaf is better than none at all seems to work for some when considering the recent actions by New Jersey. Needless to say civil unions are a remarkable step forward in our nation’s social progress. I don’t think any of us would have predicted 25 years ago that the legal barriers to justice for gay relationships would come crumbling down so fast as we have recently witnessed. But that still does not resolve the inequity between marriages that are protected by a whole series of laws and rights, and civil unions, which are akin to the children’s table in the corner during the holiday.

I reject anything for gay Americans that fall short of the full and complete rights afforded all citizens. While I understand the argument of moving one step at a time with this idea to allow some parts of society to adapt to reality, I do not want to hear people talk, as I did today, of civil unions as a major victory. It is not. To even imply that there is something just about withholding the right to marry for gay couples is no better than saying blacks should sit in the back of the bus, or cannot enter into marriage with a white person. The complete and utter stupidity of such thinking cannot, and must not, go unchecked.

Among the hundreds of benefits under the civil unions law, gay couples get rights dealing with adoption, child custody, visiting a hospitalized partner, making medical decisions and getting the same access to health insurance coverage that employers offer spouses of workers. Civil union partners also now have the right not to testify against a partner in state court.

However, the federal government and most states do not recognize the unions. That means, for instance, that a surviving member of a civil union would not be entitled to his deceased partner’s Social Security benefits. And if a partner is hospitalized in another state, the other may not be allowed to visit.

Some may call this ‘almost marriage’ but history is my guide, and proves ‘seperate but equal’ is a wrong policy.

The fact that marriage and all the rights that follow cannot be replicated by any other social contract, including civil unions, is the main reason I have problems with the outcome from the Garden State. When we say the word marriage we all know what it means both in tangible and intangible ways. There is no way to shortcut the path to justice.

Getting Ready For The Spring Primary On Tuesday Feb. 20th


Residents who want to vote in the State Supreme Court race or other primary contests, and who are not yet registered, can register at their polling place on Election Day.

The following documents can be used to prove a voter’s residence:

  • A current and valid Wisconsin driver’s license;
  • A current and valid Wisconsin identification card;
  • Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit;
  • Any identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the card holder, but not including a business card;
  • A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election;
  • A residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day;
  • A university, college or technical institute fee card (must include photo);
  • A university, college or technical institute identification card (must include photo);
  • A gas, electric or telephone service statement (utility bill) for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day;
  • Bank statement;
  • Paycheck; and
  • A check or other document issued by a unit of government.Registration at the polling place on Election Day also requires proof of residency.

    In addition, new voters must provide their Wisconsin driver’s license number or Wisconsin ID number. If they do not have either, they may use the last four digits of their Social Security number.

  • Three Gems, Then Mel Gibson Makes Me Snarky

    I admit to being a film snob.  It is not that I set out to be overly critical of any film since I enjoy the experience of watching the big screen so very much.  Next to reading, films are a favorite way to relax.  While I can get lost to a perfectly written, finely acted, flawlessly filmed, and superbly directed movie, put a stinker in the projection machine and I start to squirm.  After viewing three truly remarkable films over the past ten days (a perfect way to deal with frigid Wisconsin winter weather) last night’s viewing of Mel Gibson’s latest stinker made me snarky at the theater.

    Films are designed to produce a whole long list of emotions and thoughts as they are made to provoke, soothe, enlighten, and entertain.    When they hit the mark you can sense the audience react with approval.  Such was the reaction for “The Last King of Scotland”, a powerhouse of a film about the life of Adi Amin.  Forest Whitaker brought a ruthless dictator from my teenage years to life with an absolutely riveting performance.  The film shows the hopes, dreams, and needs of Uganda running into the moral corruption of a highly troubled despot.

    Then we saw perhaps the best film of the year, “Little Miss Sunshine”.   It contained enough touching humor and common sense lessons on living life that we left the theatre enriched.  I do not recall the last time I have loved a film so much.  The ending was priceless!  And the entire movie was made for less than $3 million, which says that quality need not be expensive.

    The third gem of a film was “The Painted Veil” and again had a message about love and forgiveness that only added to the epic picturesque quality of having been filmed in China. 

    Then last night we saw Mel Gibson’s rancid take on the Mayans, “Apocalypto”.
     I must admit that the Isthmus (a Madison news weekly) was correct.  They said, “Mel Gibson serves up a heapin’ helpin’ of red meat in his story of peaceful 16th century hunter-gatherers who are kidnapped and prepped for human sacrifice. The movie is exciting, cutting from one chase to another, but you have to wonder what purpose all the explicit gore serves other than to entertain audiences primed for a pre-Cortés Rambo.”  I have problems with many of their movie reviews, but this time they were right.

    Mel Gibson’s film is bloody, not historically correct, and bloody.  And did I mention bloody!  I could have never imagined that this schlock passes as entertainment from a moviemaker such as Gibson purports himself to be.  His tight use of the camera does not allow for any calm moment for the nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes that we watched.  If that was to make me feel ‘something’, it failed.  After we left the movie I repeatedly asked what Gibson hoped I might feel expect utter abhorrence at his bloodbath of a film.  His treatment of Christ, (which I now am relieved never to have seen based on the same issue over senseless gore) and now the Mayans, makes me wonder if the darker side of Gibson’s fondness with the fanatical Opus Dei is not effecting him.  Could a remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre be next for bloody Mel?

    This Is Why I Blog

    When asked why I blog my answer is that I enjoy writing about topics that either interest me, or that I feel passionate about.  I also want to connect with my readers.  Today one of those readers commented and made me especially pleased with what I do with my little piece of cyber-space.

    Several weeks ago I wrote a post on the passing of Grand Ole Opry Star Del Reeves.  Today a relative of Dell posted the following.

    “I am the wife of Del’s last remaining brother in Sparta, NC. I just want to express our appreciation for these kind words about Del. He really worked hard to attain such success in life and he leaves a wonderful , devoted family in NC as well as Tennessee. Thanks again for these comments which I will print out and place in our Del Reeves keepsake file.”

    It is these moments of connection with my readers when I am most proud of this site.

    Linda Clifford For Wisconsin Supreme Court


    Please see my thoughts after the election

    Also please read

    The makeup of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is highly important in our constitutional system, and given the attempts by conservatives at both the state and national level to stretch, manipulate, and torture legal reasoning it is vital that progressives get to the polls in April and cast a ballot for Linda Clifford.  This spring’s election contest is generating statewide interest, and for good reason.

    The election of Clifford, an energetic and thoughtful candidate is a no-brainer given the political schlock that is the basis for her main competitor, Ann Ziegler.   I think we should understand the differences between the two women.

    Ziegler keeps mentioning that she is the only judge in the race, and therefore better suited for the Supreme Court.   But she seems to forget that our long tradition in Wisconsin has voters respecting diversity of profession when voting for Justices.  Just a decade ago the majority of those serving on the bench came from outside the court system.  As an example, it is clear that Chief Justice Abrahamson is a remarkable member of the Court.  On the conservative side the same argument can be made for former Speaker of the Assembly Dave Prosser, who all must admit is a much-respected jurist.  Therefore one can make a strong case for placing a judge on the bench with real life-problem solving skills.  Clifford brings those skills, along with her decades of experience in government, private practice, and State Bar involvement with her as she seeks our vote.  Her involvement in a whole series of federal and state cases makes her more than qualified for the job.

    The fact that Ziegler seems to have an antagonistic approach to the Court and even labeled it as an “all powerful pseudo-legislature” suggests to me a rigid and uncomfortable fit for the Court.  We already have enough division and rancor in our political and judicial systems without adding another problem to the mix.  Ziegler would be such a problem.

    In a Court Candidate Response to Fair Wisconsin Linda Clifford stated the following.

    “As a justice, I promise:

    • To uphold the rule of law, putting aside personal or political preferences;
    • To rely on legal precedent to promote legal stability, but not blindly, respecting the need for the slow evolution of the common law to reflect social, technological, or legislative change; and
    • To interpret and uphold legislative enactments to advance legislative intent–UNLESS those enactments violate civil liberties, constitutional rights, or fundamental freedoms or violate other constitutional or statutory provisions.

    Then, I would have the courage to strike them down. That’s not activism; that’s not legislating from the bench. That’s judging–what Wisconsin citizens expect its co-equal judicial branch to do –standing guard between our constitutional democracy and the tyranny that can occur if unauthorized legislative or executive actions go unchecked.”

    Wisconsin Progressives must fight hard for this seat on the Court in light of the chicanery and recklessness that conservatives have used to further their aims.  The campaign monies of Mark Green, and the ever-present discrimination against gay people in Wisconsin are but two examples.  The best way to positively effect change is by casting your ballot for Linda Clifford for Wisconsin State Supreme Court.