Madison Teenager’s Death Leaves Sadness For All

UPDATE

This post was written after the first news stories were reported, and all the facts were not known.  My effort to present kids acting like kids on a warm spring night was what I felt the situation to be at the time.  The facts later show that not to be the case.  My writing below reflected first impressions.

The young guy walking on the sidewalk by our home Sunday afternoon was probably no more than 13, and appeared to be of the age where he might grow a couple inches taller before the next school year started in September.  I glanced up from the paper I was reading, nodded, and said hello as he passed.  But there was a slowness to his stride, and just something that looked wrong, given the sunshine that was beaming down.  It all made the next words just tumble out of my mouth. 

“Can I help you with something?”  I asked.

“Do you have the Sunday paper?” he responded. 

I told him that I did not have the Wisconsin State Journal, but could I help him find something.

“I am looking for an obituary for a friend of mine.”

I knew at once who he was needing to read about in the paper.  He confirmed my thoughts the more we talked.  I told the young person I would make a copy of the article at the college on Monday, and he could pick it up later that day, if it would help him.  He thanked me, and said he really needed to see the paper sooner than that. 

I understood.  His voice and way of walking said it all.

Here we are at the height of spring, school is soon to be over, summer and all the promise it holds is around the corner, and our city confronts the fragility of life.  Worse yet, the fragility of youth.

We hear of traffic accidents all the time, and sadly there are causalites with some of them.  But when the accident claims the life of a 15-year-old girl, who like all kids holds so much hope, we all feel the loss.

There will be further investigations into what happened that resulted in the car accident, but the result will likely show that young people once again thought they were invincible.  And who among my readers does not know the feeling?  Who does not recall the warm spring nights of being a kid?

People will point fingers, and try to assess blame.  But I suspect there is no one to blame for the sadness.   Instead young kids, and the exuberance of living life met with the harshness of reality.

Growing up can be hard, especially when the lessons of life are presented so abruptly.

Later on Sunday afternoon the clear blue skies gave way to some clouds and even a chilly breeze.  I think the whole City of Madison feels a bit like the young man on the sidewalk today. 

P.S.  If anyone knows of the young guy I speak about, I think he needs a hug or two.

Abortion Doctor Murdered In Kansas Church

This is so deplorable that it makes my blood run cold.

When law abiding citizens are murdered by ‘pro-life’ fanatics it makes me wonder what type of insanity runs rampant in this country among conservatives.  Like it or not abortion is legal, and this doctor was providing a needed service to women who found themselves in a medical need.  To kill this doctor is so maddening and intellectually hollow that it makes any argument from the anti-abortion side meaningless.

Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women’s clinic was the epicenter of the state’s battles over abortion for nearly two decades, was shot and killed at his church Sunday morning, his family said.

Tiller, 67, was one of the few U.S. physicians who still performed late-term abortions. He survived a 1993 shooting outside his Wichita clinic.

He was fatally shot shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday at Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita police said.

Sunday afternoon, authorities took a man into custody near Kansas City after stopping a car that matched a description of the killer’s getaway vehicle, according to sheriff’s deputies in Johnson County, Kansas. No charges had been filed.

Wichita police said they were searching for a powder-blue Ford Taurus in connection with the killing. Witnesses provided a license number of the car the killer used to speed away from the church, police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

Tiller “dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence,” his family said in a written statement.

“We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere,” the family said.

Millvina Dean, Last Titanic Survivor Dies At Age of 97

Another front row view of history is now gone.

Dean was nine weeks old when the liner sank after hitting an iceberg in the early hours of 15 April 1912, on its maiden voyage from Southampton.

The disaster resulted in the deaths of 1,517 people in the north Atlantic, largely due to a lack of lifeboats.

Miss Dean, who remembered nothing of the fateful journey, died on Sunday at the care home in Hampshire where she lived, two of her friends told the BBC.

Her family had been travelling to America, where they hoped to start a new life and open a tobacconist’s shop in Kansas. They travelled third class.

Miss Dean’s mother, Georgetta, and two-year-old brother, Bert, also survived, but her father, Bertram, was among those who perished when the vessel sank.

The family returned to Southampton, where Miss Dean went on to spend most of her life.

Despite having no memories of the disaster, she always said it had shaped her life, because she should have grown up in the US instead of returning to the UK.

She was fond of saying: “If it hadn’t been for the ship going down, I’d be an American.”

In 1985 the site of the wreck was discovered and, in her 70s, she found herself unexpectedly in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I think sometimes they look on me as if I am the Titanic!” she said after a visit to a Titanic convention in America. “Honestly, some of them are quite weird about it.”

Political Trivia

Interesting.

In the past 140 years, only two other Democratic presidents (other than Bill Clinton), Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, lived long enough to see another Democrat in the White House — and Carter’s relations with Clinton were difficult, to say the least.

Would You Want To Have President Obama’s Schedule This Week?

Maybe it is because I stayed up too late last night and am tired this morning, but this will be a long week for the President….and his aides……and the traveling press……

On Monday, the President will attend meetings and an event at the White House. On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings and an event at the White House. In the evening, the President will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday at approximately 2:25PM local time. He will meet with King Abdullah and spend the night in Riyadh. On Thursday morning local time, the President will travel to Cairo, Egypt. He will depart Cairo in the evening and travel to Dresden, Germany, where he will spend the night. On Friday, the President will visit Buchenwald Concentration Camp. In the evening, he will depart to Paris, France, where he will spend the night. On Saturday, the President will travel to Normandy to participate in activities commemorating the 65th anniversary of D-Day. He will return to Paris and the spend the night there. On Sunday, the President will return to Washington, DC.”

Find Out What Is Wrong With California?

My beef with the political process in California was put into a few perfect paragraphs in a newspaper that was thrown by accident onto my stoop this morning.  I do not get the Financial Times but found myself reading, and agreeing, with their story about the budget woes of California. I have long argued these points, and am glad to see I am not alone in my thinking.

One cause of the problem is the state’s dysfunctional political system. California is one of only three in the US that requires a two-thirds majority in its legislature to approve a budget. With the state’s upper and lower houses evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, securing a two-thirds majority on all but mundane matters is practically impossible. A two-thirds majority is also required to raise taxes, which limits the ability of the governor to balance the books.

California’s system of direct democracy, while laudable in aim, is another headache. “Ballot initiatives” were introduced in 1911 by Hiram Johnson, then governor, who wanted to curtail the influence of the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad and return power to the people. Since then, any issue can be put to a state-wide vote, provided half a million or so signatures are gathered to support a change in the law.

Ballot initiatives were intended to give a voice to voters. “It was supposed to be about mom and pop talking about something around the dinner table and then getting all their friends to sign a petition,” says Dan Mitchell, professor emeritus at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the School of Public Affairs. “But most initiatives on the ballot don’t start that way.” Instead wealthy individuals and special interest groups “pay a couple of million dollars to employ people to collect signatures outside of supermarkets”.

Ballot initiatives have resulted in controversial laws being passed, such as the amendment to California’s constitution that outlawed gay marriage in California last November. The state’s constitution is bursting with such amendments, which can often impose huge constraints on financial planning, such as the 1998 proposition that committed the state to spending 40 per cent of its annual budget on education.

Mr Schwarzenegger admits the two-thirds majority rules and the ballot proposition process have been a hindrance. “It’s governing with your hands tied behind your back,” he says. The final link in California’s fiscal chain is its tax system. “It’s flawed,” he adds. “It has failed us over and over again when we have a downturn. We in California rely very heavily on rich people paying taxes – income taxes and capital gains.” This imbalance is partly because of legislation passed in 1978 – via a ballot initiative, naturally – that set strict limits on property taxes.

Senator Kennedy Health Care Plan Takes Shape

Senator Ted Kennedy is back in Washington, and determined that health care will be passed by the August recess of Congress.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has been more of a behind-the-curtains player on health care reform while he battles brain cancer, is reasserting his voice in the public debate as the Senate races to meet an August deadline.  

His committee is circulating a 12-page “policy overview” on a bill to guarantee universal access to health care, create a public insurance option, and require individuals and employers to buy coverage. Produced by Democrats on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs, the paper offers the first comprehensive description of where the committee is headed on an overhaul bill. 

“As we near the point of introducing legislation to achieve our vision, we issue this policy overview to lay out our priorities for the legislation,” according to the document obtained Friday by POLITICO. 

The paperemerged a day after Kennedy published an op-ed in the Boston Globe on his “five major elements” for a health reform bill, and as more specific examples of what Kennedy is considering for a bill leaked to health care advocates. The leaked details suggest Kennedy is laying down a marker to the left of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a moderate who is shepherding a separate bill through his committee. 

But the 12-page committee paper outlines broad concepts that generally align with the ideas Baucus is considering. It was dated May 21 and titled “A New Vision for American Health Care: Strengthening What Works and Fixing What Doesn’t.” 

“Over the last several months, HELP [Committee] Democrats have been working non-stop to develop a health reform bill that reduces cost, protects individual choices and assures affordable, high-quality healthcare for every American,” Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement. “This internal document is a partial summary of their bipartisan efforts through that date, and does not represent final policy.” 

The details are where Kennedy may diverge from Baucus. Liberal health care advocates expect the Massachusetts Democrat to attempt to pull Baucus to the left as they wade deeper into negotiations, and Kennedy’s heightened presence this week suggested to some that he was beginning that public offensive. 

Indeed, in an email summary that began circulating this week, Kennedy was described as considering a public insurance option that would pay providers slightly more than Medicare rates – a structure that would draw fierce opposition from private insurers, Republicans and moderate Democrats

He would also expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover individuals up to 26-years old – up from 18 – and provide insurance subsidies on a sliding scale to families with incomes 500 percent above the poverty line. Both proposals provide more generous coverage than what is under consideration in the Finance Committee.

Saturday Song: Webb Pierce “Slowly I’m Falling”

Going back a few decades………this is classic country.