La Rocca’s On Williamson Street Makes Lasagna Good As Homemade, Best In Madison

I rarely use this space to promote or encourage folks to visit a restaurant.  I just do not think most readers know me well enough to trust my judgement about affairs of the stomach. But after another awesome serving of La Rocca’s lasagna I need to use this blog for a sales pitch.  When it comes to lasagna I know of what I speak.

We all know how wonderful the thick slices of lasagna looks and tastes as it comes piping hot out of the oven in our home.  There is nothing so divine as lasagna that just spreads itself out on the plate as the steam wafts up carrying the aroma of tomato sauce, beef, and cheeses.  Lasagna may be one of the ultimate comfort foods. 

Over the past year or so I have tried lasagna at many a restaurant in Madison, as by now it should be apparent to you that I like the dish.  While I have left every plate empty, I just kept returning to the one that was just way above the others for all around flavor and personality.  La Rocca’s on Williamson Street in Madison.  When it comes to homemade goodness nothing in Madison could quite compare with their lasagna.  Nice portion and most affordable.

The first time I stepped into La Rocca’s the warm cozy feeling enveloped me as if I were going into someone’s home.  It was soon thereafter I learned that a family from Sicily operates the restaurant where everything is homemade, and can only be described as awesomely authentic.

From the wait staff that chats and makes easy conversation, to Vito the  owner who comes out with his apron on to see how the meal is tasting, there is a sincere desire to make an Italian food memory.  I love his wife Caternia who never fails to raise her hand from the kitchen and wave when we enter.  It is like walking into the home of a relative where there is recognition you are there, but ‘my hands are in the dough so just make yourself at home.’  That causal charm is part of the dining experience.

There is a warm loaf of bread and a plate of lasagna waiting for you……….

Trust me on this one.

Will The Pope Be Deposed?

Some might think that I am being too hard on the Pope or the Catholic Church in relation to the child molestation stories that are whirling around the globe..  I am not Catholic and have no personal ax to grind.   I do find the history of the Church and the complex arrangements it has created over the centuries to be highly intriguing.   I am gravitated to the latest angles to this story, and since I have a blog………

This comes from the Wall Street Law Blog.

On Monday, we blogged an Associated Press story on Jeff Anderson, the man behind many of the suits filed against members of the Catholic Church over allegations of sexual abuse by priests and other church leaders.

Today, it seems, it’s the Vatican’s turn. An AP story takes a look at the Holy See’s planned legal defense. The specific goal of the defense: to keep the pope from having to be deposed in a lawsuit going on in Kentucky.

According to the AP, Vatican lawyers plan to argue:

  • that the pope has immunity as a head of state;
  • that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t employees of the Vatican,
  • that a 1962 document is not the “smoking gun” that provides proof of a cover-up.

The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. The plaintiffs argue that U.S. diocesan bishops were employees of the Holy See, and that Rome was therefore responsible for their alleged wrongdoing in failing to report abuse. Click here for the complaint.

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit.

The preview of the legal defense was submitted last month in federal court in Louisville as a deposition transcript (which was not immediately available). According to the AP, the Vatican’s strategy is to be formally filed in the coming weeks. Vatican officials declined to comment on Tuesday.

So will the pope be deposed?

Don’t bank on it, say experts. The United States considers the Vatican a sovereign state — the two have had diplomatic relations since 1984. The AP says the hurdles “remain high to force a foreign government to turn over confidential documents, let alone to subject a head of state to questioning by U.S. lawyers.”

“They will not be able to depose the pope,” said Joseph Dellapenna, a professor at Villanova University Law School. “But lower level officials could very well be deposed and there could be subpoenas for documents as part of discovery.”


Tea Party Signs

I do not feel I need to add any commentary to this post.  Really.  None.


Must Read Maureen Dowd On Inquisition For The Pope

Maureen Dowd never lacks punch when she writes.  Today’s column is no different, and makes for a must read.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday.

If church fund-raising and contributions dry up, Benedict’s P.R. handlers may yet have to stage a photo-op where he steps out of the priest’s side of the confessional and enters the side where the rest of his fallible flock goes.

Or maybe 30-second spots defending the pope with Benedict’s voice intoning at the end: “I am infallible, and I approve this message.”

A Gay Supreme Court Justice? Gay President?

The Wall Street Journal law blog had a topic that is sure to generate discussion around the nation.  The basis for the post was the recent poll conducted by CBS News and Vanity Fair regarding the approval level for the idea of a gay Supreme Court Justice, or President of the United States.  Apart from the poll results, I find it important that we are even polling on these matters.  That in and of itself speaks volumes about where we are as a nation.  Both good and bad.    In one sense I think it laughable anyone would care the sexuality of a justice or president, and therefore who cares as long as they are competent.  But given the long struggle for full and equal rights for gay Americans the very act of polling such questions means the nation as a whole is moving forward.

And how do poll respondents feel about the prospect of an openly gay president? Fifty percent say they would support the idea; 44 percent say they’re against it. Of all the categories asked in the poll, the respondents seem to feel the most comfortable with the idea of an openly gay Super Bowl quarterback: 62 percent say they’d support that idea; 29 percent say they’d oppose it.

The issue is academic for now, but it might not be for long. President Obama may soon inherit another Supreme Court vacancy, if Justice John Paul Stevens, who will be 90 next month, decides to step down. Two candidates rumored to have been on his short list after David Souter stepped down last year, Stanford Law professor Pam Karlan and former Stanford Law Dean and current Quinn Emanuel name partner, Kathleen Sullivan, are openly gay.

The nomination of a gay man or woman to the High Court may not derail his or her candidacy, but would likely provide an extra hurdle. On the prospect of it, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), said last year that it made him “uneasy.”

I think the idea of Sessions naked having sex of any kind makes a majority of the nation “uneasy.”

And just in case you need to confirm I am right…….

Conservative Pat Buchanan And Liberal Blogger Agree On Israel

Pat Buchanan and I are of one mind when it comes to Israel concerning the latest episode of still more settlements on occupied lands.  Settlements I hasten to add that are undermining future talks with Palestinians.  Buchanan is not anti- Israel, nor am I.  Pat is a rock-ribbed conservative while I am a liberal. We are not anti-Jewish, as some have suggested in one way or another about both of us.    Instead we are pragmatic thinkers about the needs of the region.  I perhaps am more interested in policies that impact positively for those that live there while Buchanan is focused more on American interests. That is fine.  I am very much a proponent of a Palestinian homeland.  Either way we see things through a longer lens than the one Israel seems intent on looking through, and trying to strong-arm America into accepting.  The strong tone of this column is perfect, and one that more need to read and understand.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is occupied territory. Building there violates international law. Peace requires a sharing of Jerusalem, return of almost all of the West Bank and withdrawal of the Jewish settlers. And any land annexed by Israel must be compensated for with Israeli land ceded to the Palestinians.

That the U.S. position is not anti-Israel is attested to by the fact that Prime Ministers Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert came close to a peace with the Palestinians based on these principles.

Netanyahu, however, does not accept them. For he won office denouncing them, and in his ruling coalition are parties that not only opposed withdrawal from Gaza, they oppose a Palestinian state.

Given the irreconcilable positions, the deadlock, why will Israel not prevail as she always prevails in such collisions? Why would Bibi’s “No” to Obama’s demand for a halt to the building of settlements and a cancellation of the 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem not be the final and irrevocable answer that Obama must grudgingly accept?

Answer: There is a new party to the quarrel: the U.S. military, in the person of Gen. David Petraeus.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, in January, a delegation of senior officers from Petraeus’ command were sent to brief Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen.

“The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CentCom’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israel’s intransigence on the Arab-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that (George) Mitchell himself was … ‘too old, too slow and too late.'”

Mullen took this stark message — that America was seen as too weak to stand up to Israel, and the U.S. military posture was eroding in the Arab world as a result — straight to the White House. Hence, when Joe Biden was sandbagged in Israel, he apparently tore into Bibi in private.

“This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden reportedly told Netanyahu. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Yedioth Ahronoth further reported: “The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and U.S. policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops.”

Biden was saying Israeli intransigence could cost American lives.

Each new report of settlement expansion, each new seizure of Palestinian property, each new West Bank clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops inflames the Arab street, humiliates our Arab allies, exposes America as a weakling that cannot stand up to Israel, and imperils our troops and their mission in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As this message has now been delivered by Gen. Petraeus to his commander in chief, Obama simply cannot back down again. If he does not stand up now for U.S. interests, which are being imperiled by Israeli actions, he will lose the backing of his soldiers.

U.S.-Israeli relations are approaching a “Whose side are you on?” moment. Either Bibi backs down this time — or Obama loses his soldiers.

Domestic Terror Comes From White Men With Too Many Guns And Desire To Defend “Christian” Values

So true.  Eugene Robinson hits another column out of the park.

The episode highlights the obvious: For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right.

It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are “crazies on both sides.” This simply is not true.

There was a time when the far left was a spawning ground for political violence. The first big story I covered was the San Francisco trial of heiress Patricia Hearst, who had been kidnapped and eventually co-opted by the Symbionese Liberation Army — a far-left group whose philosophy was as apocalyptic and incoherent as that of the Hutaree. There are aging radicals in Cuba today who got to Havana by hijacking airplanes in the 1970s. Left-wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives.

But for the most part, far-left violence in this country has gone the way of the leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin. An anti-globalization movement, including a few window-smashing anarchists, was gaining traction at one point, but it quickly diminished after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An environmental group and an animal-rights group have been linked with incidents of arson. Beyond those particulars, it is hard to identify any kind of leftist threat.

By contrast, there has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values. Most of the groups that posed a real danger, as the Hutaree allegedly did, have been infiltrated and dismantled by authorities before they could do any damage. But we should never forget that the worst act of domestic terrorism ever committed in this country was authored by a member of the government-hating right wing: Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

It is dishonest for right-wing commentators to insist on an equivalence that does not exist. The danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one direction — the right, not the left. The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day — and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies — is calibrated not to inform but to incite.

Another Day, Another Pedophile Priest, Another Pope Benedict Moment

Every day there is a new phediphile priest to read about in the news.  As in the past the road leads back to the Vatican and a man named Ratzinger.

The Archdiocese of Miami, along with top Vatican authorities, knew as far back as 1968 that the Rev. Ernesto Garcia-Rubio, a priest later defrocked amid child sex-abuse allegations, had a troubled past in Cuba before transferring to South Florida, lawyers representing victims claimed Monday.

The lawyers say the Vatican’s role is similar to what is alleged in the scandal now unfolding in Wisconsin, where top Catholic officials are accused of failing to defrock a priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys in a long career that paralleled the Miami cleric’s. Pope Benedict XVI was in charge of the Vatican office that reviewed such cases when he served as Cardinal Ratzinger.

“It was a longstanding and well-known secret that the Vatican and Archdiocese of Miami knew exactly what Ernesto Garcia-Rubio was capable of,” said Aventura attorney Jessica Arbour who with lawyer Stuart Mermelstein have filed several suits against the archdiocese involving Garcia-Rubio.