Grand Memory Of Another Election Season…..October 31, 1992

A grand memory of another fall election season…..
October 31, 1992, was a cold and blustery day across Wisconsin. Light snow flurries swirled through the air as many thousands stood for hours at the old train depot in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The presidential campaign that year was winding down, and even though President Bush was campaigning with David McCullough’s latest book “Truman ” in his hand while reminding voters that he too could win the election as Harry did in 1948, the polls were all indicating the opposite. In later news accounts and books all would discover that it was that frigid day in Wisconsin when President Bush was told of his fate by his internal pollsters. In spite of that there were still campaign stops to be made, as Bush was traveling Wisconsin by train, while working over-time at trying to making his Truman moment come true.
A Republican friend of mine at the Capitol had secured tickets for my mom and dad along with most of my immediate family, including nieces and nephews who wished to attend what turned out to be the most incredible campaign rally I have ever witnessed. My Mom and Dad surely had doubts about standing in line for several hours to see the event, but I also know they loved it. They talked about that day for the rest of their lives.  It was that same train station in 1944 where my mom’s family had arrived from Ozone, Arkansas.  
We had arrived very early which allowed us to stand in the very front near the podium allowing the young ones in my family to have a moment they will never forget. I have been lucky to be up front at many of these election moments over the years, but nothing compares to the sights and sounds of President Bush (41) arriving on the train to greet the people. Being a lover of history this was a moment that made time seem to move backwards as the loud engine and sharp whistle brought a President to that little depot. I had at times wondered if my folks thought my involvement in politics was worth the time and energy which I had put into it. But that day as I watched their faces I had my answer. This had impressed them!
At about 5:00 P.M. off in the distance the lonesome sound of the train was heard and the crowd exploded with cheers. As the big locomotive brought the long line of train cars into the depot the President and his family were waving and ready to embrace the folks who were friendly in spite of the national mood. The crowd was highly partisan, as it should be, for such an occasion. I was mesmerized by the historical and grand moment that this old-fashioned campaign rally had generated. Nothing will ever surpass that event.
While my nephew, Troy, and I had actually shaken hands with both President Bush and Barbara in Waukesha that summer at another rally at the rope line up front (where Bush was also talking of winning like Truman) we were not so lucky in Plover. But it did not matter as we all walked away after that wonderful evening to find a small restaurant to eat and un-thaw.  We had all witnessed something that is left to the history books, and nostalgic memories of those who lived the 1948 campaign and saw the train used in national campaigns.
There is no way for me not to get rather nostalgic today as I think back to all the fun times and smiling faces of those I stood with as we watched and listened to the candidates. There is something about the fall leaves and chill in the air every two years as candidates ask for our votes that lets me know how fortunate I have been to be able to see and hear so many of the contenders.
More importantly I am constantly reminded of the ones who put themselves in front of their fellow citizens with their candidacies in an attempt to make our country a better place to live.
For them, and their service to this country, I say thank you.

Madison School Board Will Try Again–To Have A Meeting Without Being Victims Of Protesters

This week produced one of those embarrassing stories about the place we call home.

The Madison School Board needed to adjourn their Monday night meeting when a group of loud and out-of-bounds type people screamed, ranted, unfurled banners and acted like complete idiots.  With their lack of understanding in how to adjust themselves for a public meeting of an elected board, the adults in the room had to make other plans.  There is a time table which needs to be met–action by the board needs to be completed by November 1st.

My friend, David Blaska, posted what we all hope will be the end of this episode. 

We have a plan in place,” the ranking officer said, “with various contingencies.” But he would not divulge details.

The command officer said MPD had “lengthy discussions” with Metro Madison School District people about preventing repeats of Monday’s shut-down of a school board meeting by a mob of about 80 social justice warriors organized by the taxpayer-supported Freedom Inc. and their allies in the International Socialist Organization. Somewhat surprisingly, the school district went to the police.

The police brass promised us that the meeting “will be a less disruptive and more safe event than it has been.” 

The next meeting appears to be tomorrow, Wednesday at 1:15 in the afternoon (10-31-18). EROs (cops) are item #12.1 on the agenda. That is when, by the way, the district’s $415.6 million annual budget will be finalized. 

There can not be—Must Not Be–a repeat of what happened Monday.

This blog has been in support of placing police officers in the schools.  It makes sense as news stories show why such an action will be good for students, the process of learning, and the safety of those who work in the schools.

This blog has also been most concerned about the process of governing.  I acknowledge a mostly off-the-radar topic for the majority of people.  But the way a governing body conducts its business is as important as what the outcome and policy decisions are from that body.   Under that umbrella I place the need for this board to be able to do their duly elected business.

House Speaker Paul Ryan And The Art Of Leadership

I have found it interesting watching House Speaker Paul Ryan try to navigate the choppy factions of his caucus and thread the needle of a relationship with Donald Trump.  No one can envy his job, even though we can be exasperated with the outcomes it produces.

After allowing the tail to wag the dog to the point the legislative branch in Washington looks bedraggled, Ryan finally found his strong voice this week.  In a forthright fashion Ryan broke with Donald Trump concerning citizenship conferred on babies born in the United States.  That such a matter is even one that Ryan, or any other member of congress needs to address, is more evidence of how far removed our nation is from concentrating on the real issues which require our attention.

Ryan made it clear that even though Trump would like to sign an executive order to undermine the Constitution he will not be able to do so.   Earlier Trump said in an interview–with two stunned journalists–that the White House counsel had advised him there was legal standing to terminate birthright citizenship.  Every high school civics class surely sat in shock knowing they were more aware of our Constitution than the president.

“Well, you obviously cannot do that,” was the way Ryan handled the matter when asked about it by a reporter. “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

It would have been appropriate for the interviewer to have asked Ryan why it had taken so long for the speaker to find his voice?  Did Ryan, in not acting with the power he held as speaker over the past two years, take any responsibility for the national chaos that has ensued?

While we can all agree with Ryan’s view of the 14th Amendment one has to ask why there was such a reluctance for the legislative branch to stand up to the numerous unconstitutional and illegal actions which Trump has been engaged in?  Now that the end of his congressional days are in sight Ryan finds his voice.

“You know, as a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

Ryan, like many Republicans who term themselves as conservatives, have tried to explain they needed to cozy up to Trump so to get issues passed such as tax cuts, eliminating regulations, and placing judges on the court.   But I would argue all that misses the mark by a mile for conservatives with a conscience.

The anchors that once held conservatives tight have been cut lose. Many conservatives sold out for the very things they spoke out against for decades.  Moral relativism and moral equivalency are now the new ties that bind Trump with his party, and with his base of supporters.  As long as that means election victories many conservatives are willing to sell out what they once viewed as deeply held beliefs.

Ryan was fine with backing off his conservative principals if he could have a seat at the table of power.  But in so doing he muted his own voice.  There is no way he could reason the Trump phenomenon was somehow a natural extension of conservatism.  There is no way since so much of what Trump praises runs counter to the bedrock principles of conservative thinkers and writers. Should we start with deficit spending?  Trade wars?

Now Ryan has his back up when it comes to the issue of the 14th Amendment.  In, and of itself, that is a good thing.  Truly justifiable. But it looks so odd to see him in this strident position.  It is also painful to know his needed leadership could have been marshaled, time and again, over the past two years for the sake of the nation.

Leadership is something that one can try for and never attain.  Or it can be thrust upon the shoulders of a person, such as it did with President Bush on 9/11.  I wonder how historians will consider the missed opportunity when Speaker Ryan could have been the voice of opposition from within his party to the actions of Trump?

Are Republicans Getting The Blues?

Maybe the GOP need more Donald Trump news in their districts to ‘help’…..

Outrage amid the Republican electorate over Democrats’ treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has dissipated, Trump aides and Republican pollsters say. After last week’s mail-bomb scare and synagogue shooting, President Trump’s approval rating fell, potentially jeopardizing key Senate races that his allies thought had turned his party’s way.

Trump will spend valuable time in the final days before the election on defense, traveling to states he won handily to try to shore up support for Republican candidates who strategists believed to be well positioned for victory a few weeks ago. Trump advisers have all but given up on keeping Republican control of the House and are now focused on saving the Senate, which will be crucial to confirm Trump’s judicial and Cabinet appointments.

Madison School Board Meeting Looked Like Third World In Revolt

I am simply tired of the most ludicrous in our city getting more air time or column inches in the newspaper.  Yet that is what happened Monday night when those without proper training in how to behave in public, or conduct themselves in a credible fashion in meetings, shut down the Madison School Board Meeting.

We have all seen those images and film footage from places around the world still struggling in how to deal with democracy.  Unruly mobs rush a legislative chambers, or shout down the person at the dais.  They unfurl banners and act out in ways designed to disrupt and undermine.  What happened in the McDaniels Auditorium at the district’s Doyle Administration Building looked like a scene out of a bad You Tube video from a place most could not locate on a map.

What the angry yelling and wild theatrics centered on was the need to place police officers in Madison high schools.  The average Madison taxpayer, who will see and read about the out-of-control disruption of the school board, will be hard pressed to deny the fact that something very troubling is afoot in the schools.  If the board can not conduct their business–a budget vote must be held by November 1–without this aberrant behavior how might it look at High Noon in the hallways of our schools?  The wild gang last night made a solid argument for why we need some controlling elements in our public schools.

What has been captured on video is simply and clearly NOT acceptable behavior.  The loud and brash are seemingly unaware that in this city, state, and nation there are process-driven ways for any elected board to conduct their business.  There are times for pubic input, but then times when people attending a meeting sit their asses down, and listen with their mouth shut and their stunts put away.  In other words, act like an adult with some common sense and at least a small dose of self-respect.

For all those last night who shouted, stormed about, and danced there comes a most crushing reality as the morning dawns.  They know that the majority of this city understands why police in the schools are most important.  But if they still feel their position has such validity then they should step up and invest in the community by running for the school board.  If one has better ideas then by all means seek office.  But acting out like troubled children at recess time means they have no real ideas.

So they shout.

But let me be clear when saying taxpayers and residents of this city are tired of their boorish behavior.

Those With Little Power Like To Flex ‘Muscle’

Today, in front of me at Menards, an employee was being lambasted by a supervisor.  I very clearly stated to the supervisor that it is not acceptable to berate an employee in front of a customer.

I then told the young man, who felt awful to be embarrassed in public, that I was sure he was doing a fine job. The young man, rightly feeling emboldened, raised his arm and pointed away and told the supervisor he could have had the conversation away from the customers.

I am so tired of people who have no real power–such as the supervisor–acting out in ways to show they ‘have power’, and in so doing, make a young person feel awful.


What Would President John Adams Think Of Donald Trump?

I think the citizens of this nation should be reminded of the following quick story.

President John Adams had been defeated for re-election in 1800. He sat in the half-finished White House and reflected on his life. He wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail. She had already left for their home in Braintree.

John included in his letter…..

“I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

Franklin Roosevelt was so taken with the lines and lived so long in the White House–twelve years–that he had it inscribed in the mantel of the East Room fireplace.

The Glaring Lack Of Empathy And Leadership From Donald Trump In Times Of Crisis

We have always had a president in our nation who was able to show empathy and use his office and words to bring a nation together during times of crisis.  That quality of a president has never, perhaps, been understood more clearly than now when we view its glaring absence.

I was on-air at WDOR the night President Reagan spoke to the nation following the horrific explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. In my lifetime there is perhaps no other speech which so clearly demonstrates the role of a president at times of national crisis, or the heights of rhetorical balm that can come with the office.  I sat in the broadcast studio and was moved to tears.  Contrast national moments such as that one to the current occupant in the White House who continually stokes the anger and resentments of people for partisan advantage.

Two episodes ring out that show how Trump’s lack of empathy are most obvious, and troubling.  During the campaign he made fun of a disabled journalist.  It was a truly pathetic display. During his time in office he made one of the most gut-wrenching displays when he showed poor behavior toward the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger.  Trump failed to offer comforting words and then petulantly defended himself on Twitter.  It was almost unbearable to watch play out on the national stage.  The lack of his empathy allowed for some of his followers to bring down a withering barrage of abuse on the grieving widow during what we all know will be the worst moment of her life

Those two examples demonstrate that Trump is not able to either resist being mean or fails to grasp the need, and the ability of his office to lift others up when they need the nation’s support.

The episodes one can mention in this regard are all too numerous and well-known.   The one veterans will never forget was when Trump showed smallness when at first he refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Senator John McCain.  It was only belatedly that he allowed his staff to put out a mildly laudatory statement in his name and allow the flag to be lowered.

Character matters.  We say those words often but also take the concept for granted.  When the lack of character is so obvious, and smacks at us daily, it becomes a reminder of how much this nation lost when Trump secured the votes of the Electoral College.