Richard Nixon would have been 105 years old today, and if alive still writing books!
It may be a new year, but the same blind spot remains for one of Madison’s alder-persons.
On Monday the Madison City Council’s Finance Committee recommended funding for eight new police officers–officers it should be noted which the police department has consistently stated are needed to keep up with an increasing number of positions vacated by retiring officers.
This argument by the MPD is really not that hard to explain, and should not be that difficult for those serving in local government to grasp. But then there is Alder Marsha Rummel.
The eight officers would cost taxpayers about $600,000 annually, and if the funding is approved, as most think will happen at the next council meeting, new officers would start in the May 2018 police academy class and would be available to assign to patrol positions in January 2019. That is a benefit to our city.
But last night following testimony from the same community malcontents who continually bitch and moan about our police department–some of whom reside in Rummel’s district–she played to the worst instincts and was the lone vote against the proposal which passed on 5-to-1 voice vote.
My view of Rummel results from her inept and severely-one-sided handling of police matters since 2015 following an officer shooting of a person in her district. Prior to that event I could allow for her lackadaisical approach to taking positions on issues and her lack of willingness to be timely with constituent needs. It wasn’t as if people could not call a city department and get a matter resolved and simply bypass Rummel.
Ramping up her desire to waltz around with the most nonsensical anti-police element among her voters has placed Rummel in opposition to the men and women in blue. Wasting $400,000 of city money on a study which proved our police are not the enemies which some wish to paint them is but one reason for my low regard of this alder.
Within hours of the police shooting in 2015 Rummel placed on her Facebook page a report from The Guardian. It goes without saying what comes to mind when a British newspaper is the source for local news.
Olga Ennis, a 43-year-old retail associate who lives across the street and knew (the victim) well, remains traumatised by what she saw next.
“I watched them drag his body out of the house,” she said. “That image is not leaving my head, and it’s really killing me inside right now. I watched them drag him out like a piece of garbage.”
I took strong difference with Rummel that day in how she, as a city elected official, undermined Madison.
As images on the local news proved following the shooting the staircase where the victim attacked a police officer and then was shot was very compact. There would have been no way to allow for medical procedures such as CPR to be attempted without quickly removing the victim. Being artful in moving a body in such a tense situation is not the first call of duty. For readers of The Guardian one has to wonder what their impressions were of Madison? And are they the impressions a city alder should be promoting?
The reason I mention this article is that I believe a member of the city council might ponder what image we want to advance of our city. I am not suggesting a whitewashing of events–as a former broadcaster and reporter that is far from what I support. I would have worked to provide information in ways that did not lead others to get the wrong impressions about where we live or how we handle police matters here. That might be my old-fashioned values coming to the top about loving the place I call home, but they are the values I hold close.
I am not surprised that Rummel votes as she does when it comes to the police. She has made her alliance with the shouters in her district and now has to do their bidding. The city as a whole, however, has other views of her actions.
We all recall the famous line from Abraham Lincoln that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln made that statement prior to the Civil War as the emotions were boiling and the government was seen as not adjusting policies for the issues and the needs of the day.
Speed forward to 2018 and the mess that now greets us each morning as we reach for the paper on the front stoop and listen to the news on the radio. Lincoln might now ask, if he were able to sit at our breakfast table and catch up on the events, how long a White House divided can presume to lead the world?
I listened to six different interviews with Michael Wolff on Monday and the problem is what he has written fits the daily narrative of what the citizenry knows to be happening by following the newspapers. Some will attempt to deride the book or call it fiction, but the daily news from the past year forces us to reconcile with the content of this book. Our government is in serious turmoil.
Some of the voting electorate placed a most ill-equipped man into the White House after a campaign of fear and cynicism. That candidate is now a president who is increasingly cut off from reality. To make things even more troubling Trump has a staff who, (in large part), are unprepared for governing, and worse still, tries to convince the public a madman is not in charge.
So as we start 2018 it is only obvious to ask our nation one question.
Where does it all lead us?
For most of the 2016 campaign and throughout the first year of President Trump’s time in office there has been a constant under-current of speculation about the mental health and stability of the one who sits in the Oval Office. From the days when he worked to get his friend’s wives into bed by patching the women into phone lines so to listen to their husbands talk sexual banter with the billionaire, to the troubling tweets that serve to undermine international affairs there is much proof as to why Trump’s mental health can be questioned.
The Atlantic has a truly interesting read which looks not only at the mental condition of Trump, but the larger question of how our government needs to be aware of solutions for those who have mental stability issues while in the Oval Office.
The lack of a system to evaluate presidential fitness only stands to become more consequential as the average age of leaders increases. The Constitution sets finite lower limits on age but gives no hint of an upper limit. At the time of its writing, septuagenarians were relatively rare, and having survived so long was a sign of hardiness and cautiousness. Now it is the norm. In 2016 the top three presidential candidates turned 69, 70, and 75. By the time of the 2021 inauguration, a President Joe Biden would be 78.
After age 40, the brain decreases in volume by about 5 percent every decade. The most noticeable loss is in the frontal lobes. These control motor functioning of the sort that would direct a hand to a cup and a cup to the mouth in one fluid motion—in most cases without even looking at the cup.
Ben Michaelis, a psychologist who analyzes speech as part of cognitive assessments in court cases, told Begley that although some decline in cognitive functioning would be expected, Trump has exhibited a “clear reduction in linguistic sophistication over time” with “simpler word choices and sentence structure.”
The frontal lobes also control speech, and over the years, Donald Trump’s fluency has regressed and his vocabulary contracted. In May of last year, the journalist Sharon Begley at Stat analyzed changes in his speech patterns during interviews over the years. She noted that in the 1980s and 1990s, Trump used phrases like “a certain innate intelligence” and “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” I would add, “I think Jesse Jackson has done himself very proud.”
After Reagan’s diagnosis, former President Jimmy Carter sounded an alarm over the lack of a system to detect this sort of cognitive impairment earlier on. “Many people have called to my attention the continuing danger to our nation from the possibility of a U.S. president becoming disabled, particularly by a neurologic illness,” Carter wrote in 1994 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “The great weakness of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment is its provision for determining disability in the event that the president is unable or unwilling to certify to impairment or disability.”