10-Year-Old Fiddlin’ Carson Peters Takes Grand Ole Opry Stage Tonight–Live On WSM Radio

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Hot damn!

Carson Peters, 10, has been busy all week practicing his fiddle. In less than 24-hours, he’ll make his lifelong dream come true as he takes the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

“I hope that I remember the song and hopefully all will be well,” Carson said.

Carson will have the help of country music singer Ricky Skaggs, who invited Carson to play with him at the Opry. It’s the second time they’ll perform together this week. Carson opened for Skaggs’ Knoxville concert last Friday.

“I came and talked to him and he asked me if I ever played on the Opry before and I told him ‘No, Sir,’ and he said ‘Well, would you like to?’,” Carson explained.

He told us he said yes and started practicing.

“The most I’ve ever played two songs at one time,” Carson said.

Here is a video from last week of Carson Peters and Ricky Skaggs.

 

Republican State Rep. Bill Kramer “Groped Her Breasts And Groin”

And it is official.

And sad.

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Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel has charged state Rep. Bill Kramer with two counts of sexual assault for an alleged attack on a legislative aide three years ago following a Republican gathering, according to a criminal complaint.

The charges of second-degree sexual assault issued Friday stem from an alleged incident in Muskego on April 8, 2011. The alleged victim, who was an aide to an unnamed state senator, reported the incident to Muskego Police on March 5, just days after the allegations surfaced that Kramer had sexually harassed two women during the out-of-town trip.

According to the criminal complaint:

The woman, identified only by her initials, reported that Kramer approached her after a Republican gathering called “Pints and Politics” at the High Tide Pub and Grill in Muskego asking for a ride.

She told Muskego Detective Stephen Westphal that Kramer pushed her against her vehicle hard enough to bruise her back while groping her breasts. Later, while sitting in the passenger seat of the woman’s vehicle, Kramer groped her breasts and groin and forcibly kissed her, the alleged victim told Westphal.

“(She) states that she felt dirty, scared and was afraid that the defendant was going to rape her,” the criminal complaint said. “After the defendant leaned into the back seat to pick something up she was able to send a quick text message asking friends to return to the parking lot.”

Although the woman did not report the alleged incident to police, the criminal complaint said she and an attorney drafted a letter warning Kramer to stay away from her. The detective said the letter, sent to Kramer on May 18, 2011, warned him to have no contact with the woman because of the “physical and sexual assault you perpetrated on (the victim) at the recent Pints and Politics event in Muskego.”

The woman’s account was bolstered by another woman, who said she found the alleged victim crying and “in a panic” when she met her in the parking lot that evening, and by Keith Best, first vice chairman of the Waukesha County Republican Party, who also was at the political event.

All three witnesses reported that Kramer was very intoxicated that evening.

Bridget Anne Kelly Has Every Reason To Let Loose The Dogs Of War On Gov. Chris Christie

Regardless of the $1 million the taxpayers anted up when paying defense lawyers for Gov. Chris Christie to write a 300-plus page report that ‘exonerates’ his role in ‘Bridge-Gate’ there is no way that the money can buy credibility.  Even for those who are trying everything to find a way to get Christie out from under the mess he finds himself will find the report, and the way it was prepared, to be faulty.  But perhaps the most damming part of the report regards the way they treated Bridget Anne Kelly.

Before I go forward with this post let it be stated I in no way find her a person with any high standing when it comes to ethics.  She was up to her neck in political chicanery (and worse) when it came to this whole sad episode.  But having said that I deeply feel she operated with the knowledge of Christie and in an office culture that festered in a way to allow for these plans to be hatched and carried out.

Still, I would not want (if I were Christie) to further inflame Kelly at this time, given two other investigations are underway.  And I might note, real investigations, as opposed to the political spin machine that operates 24/7 in the Christie political shop.

When I read the following in the New York Times I had to smile as this is not just sexist on the part of Christie, but politically stupid.  There is no way that Christie is not going to regret this attack on Kelly.

Gov. Chris Christie, seeking to stanch the damage the scandal had caused to his political fortunes, fired her as his deputy chief of staff after that, calling her “stupid.” But the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.

Though the lawyers who wrote the report did not interview her, they explain her conduct in unusually personal terms — she is out of the office attending to a family member who had been hospitalized; a brief relationship “had cooled” at the “behest” of the man, Mr. Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien.

The report raises these details but does not explain how or why they would have prompted her to send the damning email. It simply concludes that “events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind.”

The portrayal conflicts with ones offered by others: legislators who worked with Ms. Kelly in her role on Mr. Christie’s staff, who describe her as devoted to her job and assiduous to detail; friends who describe her as tough-minded through the challenges of a divorce and family health problems; her lawyer, who describes her as a 42-year-old single mother trying to make do even with cameras camped outside.

Recalling The Early Days Of WGN Radio

Really interesting if you are a radio buff.

Radio Hall of Famer Chuck Schaden talks to Dave Plier about the ‘Early Days of WGN Radio’ including the launch of call letters W-G-N when the Chicago Tribune assumed control of WJAZ The Zenith Edgewater Beach Hotel station on March 29, 1924, the first Cubs broadcast, the Scopes Monkey Trial,  and the groundbreaking programs and events that launched our legendary station.

Madison Parents Need To Have Conversation With Taxpayers About Education

If I were a betting man I would place money on a citywide referendum being held in November concerning overcrowding of Madison schools.   But before we get to that point of entering a polling booth there is much work to be done by the school board in examining data and making the best choice for the school district.  I also think it imperative that Madison parents have a frank discussion with taxpayers about the role they need to play in their children’s education.

Before I offer up my concerns let me state where I stand on the larger issues of public education.

I consider teachers to be one of the most important professions in this country.    While they often get derided by some politicians and some parents the role they play in our society can not be overstated.

I firmly feel that education is something to be valued and invested in by the citizenry, regardless of whether we have children in the education system.

I also believe that children should not be held hostage by the shortcomings or mistakes of their parents.  Education, after all, is the way to break free from the past and start anew.

While there is no way to know exactly in what direction the board will decide to frame the referendum there is plenty of evidence to look at to show that some building program (of one type or another) likely will be up for a ballot approval this fall.    Madison voters will be asked to increase their dollar investment into the schools.     While I have no problem with paying more for our schools, and fully understand why we all need to share that point of view, I do feel it my right to expect a better return on my investment than what I am currently reading about in the newspaper.

In February the Wisconsin State Journal posted a report from the Madison Metropolitan School District and the State Department of Public Instruction dated  November 2013.  It showed the percentages of 4th, 7th, and 10th graders who were proficient and advanced in reading.

Among 4th graders 50% were proficient at Franklin, 52% at Lapham, but only 3.9% at Allis.  While 70% of 7th graders were proficient at Hamilton, and 61% at O’Keefe only 22% were reported at Sennett.   Among 10th graders 61% were proficient at West High but only 38% at East High.

I understand that these schools and outcomes differ based, in part, on the economic divides that are a real part of this city.  But if I am honest I can only allow so much leeway for the economic factors to run the debate.

I did not grow up in a wealthy family.  My Dad was from the depression era, and made it through the eighth grade.  But if I had a dollar for every time Dad read to me while a youngster I could order all new bookshelves for my home today.   There was never a Friday night that I was not driven to our local library in the town of 400 people so to get a new book to read.  One does not need a degree to fully understand the importance of education.  It is based on my experience that I find using the crutch of being disadvantaged economically in need of being curtailed.

Today there was a news article dealing with behavior problems in our city schools.  Some of the numbers were staggering to consider from the 2012-2013 school year.

Allis Elementary had 430 students at the end of the year, but had 404 behavior referrals and 93 out-of-school suspensions. Black Hawk Middle had 383 students and 1,093 behavior referrals and 233 out-of-school suspensions.

Admittedly I am several decades removed from my school days but can assure my readers if there was any reason to deal with my behavior problems in the classroom the least of my concerns would be from teachers or school administrators.

My main concern with any referendum this fall is that we can build the biggest and best schools with well-paid teachers and still fall far short of our goal of reaching all our students.  The problem is not that taxpayers are not open and willing to provide monies to the schools but that all the parents are not willing or able to step up and fulfill their obligations for the rest of us.

Being a parent means sending kids to school who are ready to learn.  Kids need breakfast to be served prior to leaving home, have the basic norms of society instilled about manners and kindness, and aware that teachers are to be respected and obeyed.

It is my hope that as we make this journey together as a community towards a possible referendum that parents will engage with taxpayers, who are willing to invest in schools, about ways they will better prepare their kids to learn once in new buildings.

Wisconsin Voters Let Down As Republican Assemblyman Faces Sexual Assault Charges

It was not unexpected, yet it all the same makes for a stunning headline.  Even more sad as I sincerely think most people want to have faith in their elected officials.

But regardless of how we want things to be the top of the news feed this afternoon had one story that could not be missed.

Just two days after Rep. Bill Kramer decided not to run for re-election, a prosecutor said Wednesday that police have referred sexual assault charges to him against the Waukesha Republican.

For weeks we have read about the problems conservative Republican Bill Kramer had with drinking along with making unwanted sexual gropes and comments to women.  There is no way to not recognize he has a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and yet I find more to this story than the legal end of it.  That is not to say in any way I minimize the importance of this story, or the fact it needed to be brought to light, and handled.  In fact, I called for an early resolution to this matter both in terms of the Republican Party meeting it head-on, and also for Kramer to immediately  resign.

But here is yet again another stark example of a politician who had the responsibility of the voters upon his shoulders, but willfully and carelessly letting the role of civic leader fall away.  If this only concerned Kramer it would not matter as much, as he did this to himself.

But this problem of an elected official making for a public scene, and one that allows for more jokes and stereotypes to be assigned to those in public office, does not serve the greater good.  The last thing we need is another fallen leader, for whatever reason, and regardless of political party, to further stain our political system.

While such stories, and ones that are far worse than Kramer’s, fill the pages of history it never stops to be a sad moment when someone who has been granted the ability to lead throws it away.  The fact is voters once again are left with a broken man who made promises to constituents and policy goals in campaigns but could not better control his own demons.

I understand I should be more humane with my judgment of a fallen person.  But I also strongly feel our political system and our democracy requires advocates.

Hats Off To Speaker Boehner Over Dress Code For House Floor

Every now and then a good friend and I comment on the way people dress in our country.  Be it at weddings, funerals, or out for dinner, there seems a lack of awareness or care about how one looks.  My friend will always remind me when the topic surfaces that his parents dressed (his Dad in a sport coat and Mom in a dress) to go to the movies.  Today one is likely to see just about anything from what looks like a slip posing as a blouse on a woman, or the loose sloppy look of dirty sweats on men as they enter a restaurant or attend a wake.  Simply off-putting.    Perhaps the worst part would be the men who wear large sneakers and are too lazy to tie them and have the laces loose so to just slip on and off.

This all came to mind again this morning when I read that Speaker John Boehner had enough of unfit attire being worn on the House floor.  So much so he actually had to remind elected officials to get it under control.

“Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor might be, and you know who you are,” Boehner said. “The chair appreciates the attention of all the members to these matters.”

My Mom and Dad came from the depression era when it was not always easy to have all the things needed or wanted to make one look nice.  But there was a sense of pride that each of their families instilled in them to always look your best.  That same sense of personal care and respect should again be something we promote in this country.

Did Dan Rather See The Irony At Grand Ole Opry With Richard Nixon Connection?

I love Dan Rather.  I also love the Grand Ole Opry.

So I was really pleased with the fact last week Dan Rather was able to announce the opry over WSM.  What a real treat that must have been.

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But then I read something that made me smile, and wonder what was racing through the former reporter’s head.  After all the intense moments that Rather had with former President Richard Nixon there no loss of irony with what happened at the Opry.

The acclaimed journalist, known for covering major events around the world, said he had grown up a fan of the Opry and country music in Texas.

He shared the podium with Opry host Eddie Stubbs to introduce the hosts of his segment, Opry members The Oak Ridge Boys. And the Opry’s “Stars and Stripes” dressing room, which houses the piano played by President Richard Nixon during his Opry visit in 1974, was appropriately designated for his use during his visit.

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