Sen. John McCain Might Seek Another Term

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I would pay money to see another election cycle for Senator John McCain.

There is no way that this feisty and politically shrewd man will ever allow teabaggers to sully his name, or spin away the work that he has done while in the senate.  Should McCain seek another term, as he strongly suggested this week, means there will be one very intense and electrifying statewide race for Arizona in 2016.

Make that electrifying for the nation.

Everyone would tune into C-SPAN for the debates, and read the news accounts from the national and local correspondents covering the race.   There is nothing more snarky to be heard than a rightly pissed-off John McCain.   And if the Tea Party tries to make this a contest I know McCain will pepper them with some politics the likes of which they have never seen before .

I might also add that the media, especially the Sunday morning talk shows, will want McCain to prevail as he is one of the best interviews to be found.

This all goes to show that once again the best show to be found is politics.

Drunk Driving Laws In Wisconsin Are Insane, Graeme Zielinksi Case Proves The Point

I was not going to comment on the drunk driving conviction of a former spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin simply due to time constraints over the past few days.  I have, for the record, commented on this matter in the past, and also have taken Graeme Zielinksi to task for the more than sophomoric way he often conducted himself when employed with the party.  Frankly, I am glad he is no longer newsworthy.

But there was a part of his conviction story that I find most unsettling.

Normally, a third conviction always is treated as a third offense. But in this case, Zielinski’s conviction in Virginia could not be counted as a prior conviction. Zielinski’s attorney, John Bradley, filed a motion stating that his client did not have a lawyer represent him in Virginia and he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to a lawyer in that case.

Since records of the Virginia case were destroyed after 10 years, Assistant District Attorney Monica Hall was unable to prove otherwise. Thus, under Wisconsin law, the case cannot be counted as a prior conviction even though it does remain on his record.

Judge Koschnick ruled that the available evidence in the case did not support the conclusion that Zielinski validly waived his right to an attorney.

The Jefferson County case thus became a second offense. 

However, Wisconsin statutes state that if a person is convicted of drunken driving more than 10 years after his or her first OWI conviction, the new conviction will be treated as a first offense. Since Zielinski’s conviction came more than two decades after his first conviction — and 14 years after the Virginia conviction — the charges were then dropped to a first offense.

“It’s a very weird statute. It’s a loophole, basically, is what I like to call it,” said Hall. “I think that it’s an acknowledgement of the fact that the people in this state love their booze and they don’t mind so much if you drink and drive.”

What I have a very hard time understanding is how the state legislature can seemingly find every act under the sun to call attention to and find a legal remedy for if they deem it criminal, and yet our drunk driving laws are often resembling Swiss cheese.  Instead of plowing ahead and making needed changes when glaring omissions to those laws are made known, there is instead the turning of heads as they tell us that the remedies are too expensive for the taxpayers.

Requiring everyone arrested for drunk driving to appear in court and providing tougher penalties are ideas that are going no where in this state as there are too many members of the legislature beholden to the money and political power of the Wisconsin Tavern League.

This post is not aimed at making Graeme Zielinksi feel bad, or rub his nose with the facts.  Rather his story is yet one more stunning example of how much needs to be done in the legislature to make drunk driving laws that really work in this state.

Those who need to hear that message sit on both sides of the political aisle.

City Of Madison Money Well Spent On Overture Center

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Good news came from the Madison Board of Estimates this week when it was reported that $150,000 in additional funding was provided for the Overture Center.  The funding for Overture is now at $1.6 million for the this city budget.  Thankfully funding is not a political piñata as it was last year at this time.  Though there is roughly $150,000 less in city funding this year than last the lack of rancor led by Mayor Paul Soglin has been greeted with smiles all around.

Even though there is mostly harmony among those fashioning a city budget there is angst and disagreements from some in the electorate as to the level of funding that the Overture receives.  As much as I have listened as some try to spin their point of view it never makes any sense.

There is not a city our size in the nation that would not drool heavy for the chance to have a performing arts center of the type we enjoy.  Or the fact that this building was presented to the city as a gift.  There is a not place in the nation that would not love to have our symphony orchestra or our chamber orchestra play in such a building.  Yet there is the chorus from some that the Overture is a place for rich white people.

There is no way to deny the benefits that the arts provides to a community with continuing economic energy.  I would argue even more importantly ihe arts provides to individuals texture about life, awakening of the senses, and adds insight about how we feel and interact with sights and sounds.  In a nutshell the are essential to being a well-rounded person, and a harmonious community.

As such I very much favor the path that was taken this year by the leaders of Madison to make sure funding was allowed without the tension as to why it is necessary.

I am sure many will not agree with the majorities assessment about the need for Overture receiving city funding.  I just happen to feel the arts are something that society should support, as it does make us better as a people

I also reject the idea from some that there are no shows ‘they can afford’.  That is just absurd on the face of it.

I recently had a conversation with someone who tried to make that case to me.  It might have been more persuasive had I not already known that several times a month this person goes to movies and enjoys popcorn and pop while the motion picture plays.  I love film too , and certainly think movies are a great way to spend time.  But if one adds up the amount of money that person spent on films in a month it quickly becomes clear that there was money for a ticket to the Madison symphony.

The same might be said for the person has season tickets for the Badgers, or spends 30 dollars on a Saturday night at the bar for drinks and tips.

It all comes down to priorities.

While everyone can have the fun in the way they desire, I find it unacceptable to have it argued that tickets to Overture events are too costly when spending money on other forms of entertainment is not a problem.

At the end of this budget cycle I hope our leaders will come to appreciate the calm that was the result of  coming together to form an understanding about the need for Overture funding.

Jim Parsons (Sheldon) Talks Publicly About His Partner Todd Spiewak

This is uplifting.

Three-time Emmy winner Jim Parsons and partner Todd Spiewak were the star attraction at the GLSEN Respect Awards over the weekend where they were presented with the Inspiration Award. At the event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which honored leaders in the struggle against bullying LGBT youth, Parsons said he never thought of himself as an activist.