Israel Is Killing Innocents

There comes a time when the endless comments that war is a messy business and innocents die no longer can be allowed to be used as a response to needless carnage taking place in the Middle East.  If my counting is correct this is day 19 of the latest fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian blood-letting, and reports are coming in that 1,000 people have died in Gaza.  The vast majority of them are not the militants, but instead innocent civilians.  Of that number a crushing percentage are truly innocent children.

The bloodshed on the news is just staggering, and while both sides have reason for blame to placed at their feet there is more of the shame and condemnation to be carried by Israel.

While there is no justification for the missiles fired into Israel there is also no way to condone the Israeli land grabs and power tactics that have waged for decades against those who also call this place home.  An economic blockade of Gaze was never going to result in anything positive for Israel.  The Jewish state needs to be mindful that the world does care for the underdogs who fight for rights no matter where they reside.

While there needs to be tough judgment against Hamas for the way they conduct their brand of warfare it also needs to be plainly stated the Israel is playing the aggressor here as they are prone to do and overreact with the result of killing civilians in numbers that must not be allowed to continue.

The report that most stunned me–and there are so many–was of a family of 25 who was hosting a Hamas fighter for dinner as they observed the break in the Ramadan fast.  All were killed when Israel unleashed a missile strike.  There is no civilized nation with real morals that mean something other than as a talking point who would unleash the military in this fashion.  It simply does not make sense in any humane sense, and in a military/political context only stokes the anger and resentment that creates more problems for Israel in the long run.

Israel is out of joint over the inclusion of Hamas into the unity government that needed to be a step in the ownership of responsibility within the Palestinian government.    Israel does not like those who they have crapped on to form a united front and so worked to turn the killing of the three teenagers several weeks ago into the pretext of a military strike that could achieve their purpose.

And now there are 1,000 deaths in Gaza.

Israel conducting themselves in the fashion we have again seen over the past 19 days makes one thing sure.  There will be more young minds that watch the buildings explode and fall in Gaza and the funerals take place every day and who will turn their attention to retribution.

And who can blame them?

President Nixon And Panda Sex

The Nixon tapes are grand.  You just have to listen to this one.

Same-Sex Marriage Legal Trivia

Some legal history here as we applaud the second appeals court to say bans on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  Virginia is an important landmark because of the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving vs. Virginia, regarding interracial marriage.  Virginia is where the fundamental right to marry was born. In the 1967 decision the Supreme Court struck down the Commonwealth’s ban on inter-racial marriage.


Appeals Court Says Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

There are no places for a bigot to call home, anymore, when it comes to stopping same-sex marriage.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.   The 2-1 ruling from the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a district court judge’s ruling in February striking down the state’s prohibition on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Richmond, Va.-based 4th Circuit now joins the Denver-based 10th Circuit, which earlier this month struck down a similar ban in Oklahoma.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said Judge Henry Floyd, originally appointed a district judge by George W. Bush and elevated to the circuit court by President Obama. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

“The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society.”

City Of Madison Needs To Be The Winner After Next Mayoral Election

For several reasons I am really looking forward to the spring election for Madison mayor.

First, I truly am not sure who I will support in the primary that seems to have at least three contenders.

Second, I have no visceral reaction to any of the candidates as none of them seem polarizing or unable to fulfill the duties of the job should they win.

Third, as demonstrated over the years with blog posts (and all those dinner table and sidewalk conversations) I am really interested and concerned about some of the policy directions taking place in the city.

In other words I am looking forward to being informed, challenged with new ideas, and since this is politics and an election also entertained by the entire process.

As I talk with others about this race I am sensing there is clearly a desire, and perhaps even an acceptance, that new ideas need to be offered for consideration for the problems that we face.  The divide between the races with education and income needs to be addressed.  Homelessness seems to be as bad as ever, development concerns touch every part of the city, and making sure basic services are as good as possible always is a constant requirement for discussion.

I think it clear the three names so far on the list of those seeking the office, current Mayor Paul Soglin, Alderman Scott Resnick, and former Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci are all sincere, dedicated, and desirous of making sure this city moves forward.  To what degree that happens with boldness and how best to chart our path forward is what voters will seek to better understand in the months to come.

There is no doubt that Soglin is best known, and with the number of issues that comes before the city we can place him on both sides of the divide concerning acceptability.  I have agreed with him on some issues such as his anti-gun stands and taken him to task on others such as his budget that cut lifegaurds at some beaches.

There was perhaps no other issue I opposed Soglin over more than his refusal to understand the need for  Madison to keep promises for Overture funding.  Cutting investments in the very things that make our center of the city so lively and special is just the wrong way to proceed.  Thankfully the common council made sure the correct decisions were made in relation to Overture.

Which is why I have some concerns with Scott Resnick when it comes to the much-needed Judge Doyle Square hotel project that will aid Monona Terrace and our entire city.  It is essential that leaders of this city not back away or reject taking a bold step to make sure Madison has the strongest footing possible for convention and tourist dollars.  By being squishy on such an important development calls into question exactly how much spine one can expect on other controversial matters we will confront as a city.  I see this hotel project as much a question of how leaders–or potential leaders–act as I do with the actual issue of what to build and how to fund it.

But I admire Resnick for fighting for expansion of digital services in the city and thinking about future needs of younger generations when it comes to transportation issues such as Uber and Lyft.  While there clearly needs to be more thought given to how new models of rider services might not exclude certain areas of the city or not allow for unscrupulous pricing we should applaud the efforts at thinking about innovative ideas that will benefit the residents who live here.

Maniaci will probably have less money to use for her campaign than her opponents but has proven to be able to get her message imparted through the media for the efforts she undertakes.  I applauded her work at making sure more spaces for smaller vehicle’s in parking ramps were provided.    I gave Maniaci two-thumbs up for attempting to require that landlords provide voter registration forms when tenants move into a residence.

But I have serious concerns about Maniaci’s full-throttled advocacy of development projects.  I think we need to have more thoughtful guidance when it comes to ever higher developments in this city.  While I support and encourage density, and desire growth as it allows for more dynamic neighborhoods and economic return to the city I also strongly feel that local planning documents should be strongly considered and adhered to when planning future growth.   (For instance I supported five floors at 706 Williamson Street, but agreed with many in the neighborhood that six floors was not in the best interests of those who live around and best understand the needs of that area.)

When it comes to city policy I want the candidates for mayor to outline their views about long-range planning and how they would better implement development so it meshes with neighborhood planning documents and also zoning.  The current way of fighting over each and every project with what seems likes a moving set of criteria is frustrating and unseemly.   The concerns raised in a cover-story in Isthmus earlier this year about those who shape planning policy deserves city-wide attention, and the mayoral election is a perfect time for the discussion.

While there are many issues to dialogue over there is no doubt that the personalities of the candidates will, rightly or wrongly, define them as the race unfolds.

I will be the first to admit I find Soglin rumpled and grumpy-looking.  There are times I wonder if he just ate a magic brownie and needs a nap.  When I think he should be in a suit and tie at the city council he is sporting a shirt that looks like he ready for a trip to the Caribbean.   I am well aware others find him ‘comfortable in his own skin’.

Meanwhile there is a ready-made smile and accessible nature to Resnick that will make him a natural for meeting people and addressing the needs of the city.  Being bright and youthful is always a key to making for a media hit and so no one should be surprised when he makes headlines.

While I have never personally met Maniaci there does seem to be an edge that makes her appear on television to be curt and rather demanding.  There is no way to wash away the memory of her performance on the city cable channel erupting before her colleagues when TIF funds were cut for the Edgewater project.    I still recall that night as I sat in my home watching the council meeting (the only humane way to make it through the proceedings that are needlessly long) while reflecting on a cardinal rule in politics.

Never should a politician get angry in public.

The only politician I can recall who did so successfully was Ronald Reagan when he angrily stated “I am paying for this microphone.”  Plainly put Maniaci is no Reagan.

The words from Maniaci rang out that night and have followed and likely will define her in this race.  Still I am open to hearing what she has to offer for new ideas and goals that our city needs to consider as we move forward.

For at the end of the campaign come next April there will be two choices as to we will be governed during the next four years.  At this point we do not know what those choices are or exactly who will be asking us to elect them mayor.  Between then and now I am confident that with the quality of the candidates who have so far announced their intentions to run for mayor means we will have a healthy and robust debate on the issues of the day.

For that we all can be proud and hopefully by the end of the process we will have a leader who can thoughtfully lead us as a city.

Why People Are Moving Left


This is just one great column.

And this part below was perhaps my favorite–other than the line “The conduct of the GOP during the Obama administration has been a nihilist disgrace.”

I came of age when the right was bristling with new ideas and the left was pretty much exhausted. More important, the quality and civility of the conservative intellectual discourse encouraged eggheads like me to believe in a conservative future that was intelligent, reasoned and nimble. But it’s a long, long way from the heady days of Policy Review to the fulminations of the Daily Caller, a steep slope from Allan Bloom to Mark Levin, and a free-fall from the John McCain of the 1990s to the nomination of Sarah Palin as vice-presidential timber. Skepticism of a kind of liberal intellectual rationalism is one thing; scorn for the entire intellectual and academic exercise is quite another.


John Dean Writes Book On Nixon Watergate Tapes


You can bet the mortgage money on what the next book I will be buying.

Based on Nixon’s overlooked recordings, New York Times bestselling author John W. Dean connects the dots between what we’ve come to believe about Watergate and what actually happened
Watergate forever changed American politics, and in light of the revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance program, the scandal has taken on new significance. Yet remarkably, four decades after Nixon was forced to resign, no one has told the full story of his involvement in Watergate.
In The Nixon Defense, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President
Nixon know and when did he know it?
Through narrative and contemporaneous dialogue, Dean connects dots that have never been connected, including revealing how and why the Watergate break-in occurred, what was on the mysterious 18 1/2 minute gap in Nixon’s recorded conversations, and more.
In what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of America’s worst political scandals, The Nixon Defense shows how the disastrous mistakes of Watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for our own time.

President Nixon And The Surpreme Court

Former White House Counsel John Dean has written a volume that all Watergate-minded folks will want to pick up and examine.  Dean has spent considerable time transcribing all of Nixon’s secretly self-recorded Watergate related conversations, about a thousand of them for a book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.

As we are all aware it was the Supreme Court that ruled against Nixon when it came to the release of the most damaging tape.  It was a blow that left the nation wondering if Nixon would comply with the ruling.  We know that he did abide by the ruling but with that comes the additional larger questions of how Nixon viewed the court and how had attempted to manipulate it over the time while president.

John Dean wrote a recent column that is illuminating.

In part…..

Nixon campaigned for the presidency claiming he wanted to change the Supreme Court. And he did. Few presidents have had as great an influence on this institution as did Nixon. When it was all said and done he appointed a Chief Justice and three Associate Justices—including one (William Rehnquist) who would later become Chief Justice. As I wrote in my first book based on Nixon’s tapes, The Rehnquist Choice, Nixon not only filled four seats; he created a vacancy by aggressively pursuing a sitting Justice, Abe Fortas, whom he forced from the bench with a threat of a criminal investigation against his wife and a former law partner.

The Nixon Justice Department, on a regular basis, aggressively pursued ideologically driven cases before the Supreme Court, but with limited success. In fact, these efforts occasionally backfired. I will mention but a few. Like the landmark ruling in June 1972 in United States v. U.S. District Court, better known as the Keith Case, named after the U.S. District Court Judge who rejected the claim of the Nixon Justice Department that warrantless wiretaps could be undertaken with the simple approval of the Attorney General—without any statutory basis, rather as part of the president’s inherent powers.

Because Nixon was not getting the kind of rulings he had hoped for from his appointees, he seemed to hold the Court in minimal high esteem. This became clear in both his words and actions. Nonetheless I was surprised with his actions relating to one of the highest profile cases pending during the 1972 presidential election, where he authorized highly improper behavior in the handling of the criminal case against Daniel Ellsberg, which was being prosecuted in Los Angeles. (I was also surprised at his words, but I will come back to them because they were not new to me.)

Ehrlichman, however, did not want the Ellsberg case to go forward until after the 1972 election. So he instructed the Justice Department not to push to resume the trial. But more importantly, as he informed Nixon, he was going to make certain the full U.S. Supreme Court did not overturn the Douglas stay.During an Oval Office conversation on August 3, 1972, Ehrlichman told the president, “I’m going to talk to [Chief Justice Warren] Burger this week, and I would be inclined to indicate to him that this is to your advantage not to have the Ellsberg case tried until after the election. Unless you have serious objection, I’m going to give him that signal.” Nixon agreed. And it was done. It was, of course, a highly improper ex parte contact by Ehrlichman, not to mention the Chief Justice had to know that Ellsberg’s attorney should have been present as well.