BREAKING NEWS: Gun Violence Continues In America

Just minutes ago, as I post, there was yet another mass shooting in America.

Two people were killed and four others were injured in a shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  

This weekend we saw more gun violence from an angry white male in California who used an AR-15 weapon.

An AR-15 is a weapon of war. It was developed for the U.S. Military to be used for jungle warfare during Vietnam. It’s designed to kill as many people as possible — and as quickly as possible. These weapons have NO place in our communities or in the hands of civilians. Prosecutors say the 19-year-old charged with opening fire in a California synagogue legally bought the semiautomatic rifle he used. That is the problem.

At the Poway Weapons And Gear Range, about eight miles from the synagogue, parts are sold to make AR-type rifles compliant with state law. If an AR-type firearm is “featureless” or features a fixed magazine, it is legal in California.  A rifle without a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock or other features can be compliant with the law in California, which tightened gun restrictions in 2017.

Those who owned a semi-automatic firearm with features such as a pistol grip before the law changed were required to register the gun as an assault weapon.  The AR-15 is a version of the M16 that used by service members in the Vietnam War.

Why do we allow military assault weapons to be owned by private citizens?  Why do allow our fellow citizens to be mowed down almost daily from these types of weapons?

Larry King With A Sturgeon Bay Connection

Broadcast legend Larry King experienced a health scare this past Thursday and underwent a heart procedure.  But the broadcaster is expected to make a full recovery and will be released from the hospital soon.  That information was put out, after more alarming and false headlines were reported, about the man who kept America talking and thinking late at night on radio.   I am most pleased with the good medical report.

I was a caller into King’s Mutual Radio talk show one evening in the mid-80’s–while I was also on the air doing a separate broadcast from the WDOR radio studio in Sturgeon Bay.  While spinning the discs and give time and temp I was also monitoring King’s program.   Finally, his producer said in the phone I would be the next caller.  I was feeding the King program through one of the studio’s reel-to-reel tape machines so my national moment with King could be recorded.  (BTW, when was the last time you read the words reel-to-reel?)

I thought of that multi-tasking juggling act as I heard about King’s health.  During this time I am also working to master some new technology which will be used in a podcasting adventure I will be undertaking this year.  It is a long ways from my listening to Larry King with cheap headphones as a teenager late at night in Hancock, Wisconsin.  The need for lively and stimulating conversation remains the same since the air waves were harnessed.   It is just the methods used to get the broadcasts from a sender to a receiver that has changed so remarkably.

With King’s health matter, and my podcast idea, it struck me that a truly delightful interview would be for King to wing his way over the decades with stories about how broadcasting techniques evolved in his lifetime.    Now that would be an interview to record!

And conduct!

This Is Why Overture Hall In Downtown Madison Matters–“Symphony Of A Thousand”

Not for the first time do I express deep delight and profound gladness that Madison has Overture Center for the Arts, which contains the most impressive Overture Hall.   Over the years I have pressed for city funding and am glad programming allows for a wide variety of performances to be staged, and ticket prices to reflect all varying sections of our population.   Every place in America–that already does not have such a facility–would love to have what downtown Madison possesses.

And this weekend a musical production will take place which will lift the roof off due to thunderous applause. 

The chorus for “Symphony of a Thousand” is so big, there’s only one place in the Overture Center for its 300-plus singers to do their vocal warm-ups before a concert: the loading dock.

The orchestra is so huge, the side “choral towers” in place for a more typical concert have to be pushed back to make room on the Overture Hall stage.

That’s some of what it takes to squeeze more than 100 orchestral musicians, two adult choruses, a children’s choir and eight guest vocalists into Madison’s largest symphony hall to perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat — better known as “Symphony of a Thousand.”

“It’s a real blockbuster,” said Beverly Taylor, choral professor at UW-Madison and director of the Madison Symphony Chorus, who’s been rehearsing the 165-member Madison Symphony Chorus and the 140-member UW Choral Union separately for the event since January.

Mahler’s eighth, to be performed three times in the 2,159-seat Overture Hall by the Madison Symphony Orchestra from May 3-5, is a monumental undertaking, selected to close out MSO conductor John DeMain’s 25th season with the orchestra.

Over the years James and I have not always taken a yearly vacation, but we always have season tickets to the Madison Symphony Orchestra.  I will be first to acknowledge my learning continues with classical music, but never has a performance failed to refresh, amaze, or emotionally move me while watching and listening.   That is the power of an orchestra.

Madison has every reason to be proud of their continued faithfulness to Overture.  In return, the consistency in fine performances at Overture has never lost faith with those it serves.

We Will Not See This Again In Our Lifetime—Living History

If you have read only one book about Japan, or taken only one world history course on this region of the world, then you too can feel the enormity of this event.  Simply Powerful.

Emperor Akihito during a ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday. CreditCreditKyodo, via Reuters

Three decades after he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, Emperor Akihito on Tuesday became Japan’s first monarch in more than two centuries to abdicate, passing the symbolic role to his eldest son in a brief, unadorned ceremony at the Imperial Palace.

Akihito, 85, the son of the wartime emperor Hirohito, relinquished the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, who will receive the sacred imperial regalia in a ceremony on Wednesday morning. The last emperor to abdicate was Kokaku, in 1817.

Political Correctness Taken To New Level In Madison

Monday during the 5 P.M. local news on WMTV in Madison a news report was aired concerning Governor Tony Evers signing his first bill into law.   The anchor said the bill dealt with the ‘r’word.  The story meandered for a few sentences with no detail at all other than a bill will become law, along with a corresponding executive action.

I turned to James wondering what the ‘r word was, but also stating how dreadful writers can be with local news programming.  With that I pulled up their online news site to discover, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story—as it were.

Evers is scheduled to sign a bill into law for the first time, enacting a proposal barring the term “mental retardation” from state agency rules and regulations.

The fact is the term ‘mental retardation’ was often used in our state and nation.  Was it the best term to use over the decades?  No.  Should it be remedied in our state rules and regs?  Absolutely.

But to not even know how to use the term, in a news story about the very term itself, is one of the most bizarre attempts at political correctness that I have encountered.  When a professional news operation can not be more forthcoming by reporting a story using all the facts, for fear that some may be somehow offended, then it is time to ask if we have lost our common sense.

There are times and places when certain words must be used to give the full extent of a story, or to make a complete point.  That does not mean the word is being used as a weapon or in a mean-spirited way.  Sometimes certain words have to be used to make a complete informed news story.

When political correctness and a less than artful news writer meet… makes for a sloppy news story.

Trump Reaches 10,000 “False And Misleading Claims! Others Call Them Lies

Historians will write of our time and wonder why so many allowed for the ruining and rot from the Donald Trump White House to continue.

It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.

While everyone makes misstatements that is not what too often occurs with Trump.  He continually repeats the same lies and therefore the excuse of making ‘ a mistake’ does not hold water.

But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.

This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.

On April 26th he crossed the 10,000 lie bridge.  These are some of the examples from that date as to why we can make that statement.

“This is not the Obama Administration that …gave five terrorist hostages plus, who soon went back to battle, for traitor Sgt. Bergdahl!”

The “Taliban Five” did not go back into battle. They have not returned to Afghanistan and have remained in Qatar since 2014. They have joined the Taliban’s political office in Qatar where they are helping to negotiate a peace agreement with the United States.

“I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would have done it myself. It’s very simple. I had the right to. And frankly, whether I did or he did, we had the absolute right to fire Mueller…. Legally, I had absolute right to fire, but I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller.”  (Trump received 4 Pinocchio noses for this statement.)

Investigators interviewed eight Trump aides and friends under oath and documented the series of events that led McGhan to conclude he needed to resign because Trump had ordered him to fire Mueller. “McGahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House,” the report concluded. “McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President’s request.” Trump declined to be interviewed by the prosecutors. The report adds: “The President’s subsequent denials that he had told McGahn to have the special counsel removed were carefully worded….The President’s assertion in the Oval Office meeting that he had never directed McGahn to have the special counsel removed thus runs counter to the evidence.”

“I think there’s a lot of excitement toward getting a deal done with North Korea. In the meantime, when I came here, there were nuclear tests, missile tests, rocket tests. We got our hostages back. We got remains back, and continue to come back from the war. Our great heroes — the remains. There’s been no tests. There’s been no nothing.”

After the collapse of Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader in February, there has been virtually no progress in resolving the nuclear standoff. Trump claims there has been “no nothing” in terms of testing but North Korea announced in mid-April it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” in what analysts said was a warning to Trump.

What Lacks With News Consumers In America

I was involved today in a conversation about the press and politics.  Thought it might make for a quick post. I pressed the following points with a Republican open to a great discussion.

One of the problems we experience in the nation is two-fold in that reading comprehension is not taught in schools to the degree required for proper functioning adults.  Secondly, I have long advocated that how to be a news consumer is severely lacking–and more education needs to be made available in schools as a remedy.

I am continually amused and saddened when I see surveys showing average people can not differentiate between a news article and an column from the OP/Ed pages of newspapers.  That more homes do not have a newspaper on a daily basis is one reason both reading comprehension and over-all news awareness is lacking.  Social media is not a way to be a good news consumer.  Nor is listening to the monologues on late-night TV–though data show many get their ‘news; from late night TV.

I grew up with radio, a daily newspaper, lots of books, and no TV until I was in the 6th grade.  It made all the difference in how I learned to read and how I grew curious to learn overall.  History and press relations is a most wonderful topic and if readers want a splendid book to wet their appetites on the topic this one is a keeper on shelves over my head as I blog.


Proud Reflections On Senator Dick Lugar, Dead At 87

This is a most sad story.

Richard Lugar, the longest-serving U.S. senator in the history of Indiana and an ardent foe of nuclear proliferation, has died. He was 87.

A six-term Republican, Lugar made his name with his work on agricultural issues and later, along with Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, on the control of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. He sought the presidency in 1996, but despite being what the New York Times called “among the most qualified candidates ever to run for President of the United States,” his bid ended quickly and quietly.

But I am proud to have given money and support for his candidacy.  The only GOP presidential candidate that has garnered my trust.  In July 2007 I wrote the following about Lugar.

In 1996 when Senator Richard Lugar ran a campaign for the White House I was very pleased.  He was one of those few solid thinkers within the Republican Party that based his decisions on creating good policy, rather than mere political maneuvering.  His foreign policy thinking reflected years of research and discussions on a wide variety of issues.  When I told a relative that year I could actually vote for Lugar in a general election I meant it.  Though I had differences with the Senator on some issues I respected his intellect.  I am drawn to people with keen minds, and Senator Lugar fit the bill.  I was just sorry his campaign that year never lifted off of the ground as I found many of his foreign policy thoughts on target. 

I mention the above as an opening to show that my praise for Senator Lugar is not a recent happening.  On November 20, 2006 I cited Lugar as an example of a smart Republican when writing about the lack of curiosity within President Bush.  But I admit that I was very proud when Lugar, who is the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, became a public Iraq War critic.  If Bush and Company thought they could send National Security Advisor Hadley to the Hill and calm the GOP by placing the blame for the loss of Iraq on the military, Senator Lugar sent a powerful message down to the White House.  No way!

While serious minds know the military does need to take their share of responsibility in the Iraq failure, Lugar again demonstrated last week that political maneuvering is not his style.  He was not about to let the White House weasel out of taking their fair share of the blame….which is the bulk of the blame to start with.  The GOP is very nervous as they see the meltdown coming in their direction in 2008.  So the effort to cast blame to better position their candidates is in full swing.  Lugar decided he would have none of it.

When Dick Lugar talks he does so with that soft reasoned tone.  His words and thoughts need no volume and bombast.  He made that quite clear to Bush and Company.

“Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our national security interests in the Middle East and beyond,” he said. “Our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world. The prospects that the `surge’ strategy will succeed as originally envisioned by the president are very limited within the period framed by our domestic political debate. And the strident, polarized nature of that debate increases the risk that our involvement in Iraq will end in a poorly planned withdrawal that undercuts our interests in the Middle East.”

I think Karl Rove and his cronies will think twice before calling Lugar a defeatist.  Lugar will only smile at them, and then continue to do his work as a serious and mature thinker in the Senate.  That is why I have always liked Dick Lugar.