“Hancock Boys Go To WWI” New Doty Land Podcast

With sentimental images of Hancock, Wisconsin, and many personal letters from hometown boys fighting in World War I, Gregory Humphrey brings the accounts from The Hancock News back to life.  With music from the era, along with ‘advertisements’ from L.S. Walker Company in Hancock, listeners will be transported back in time with this professionally produced podcast.  The letters from the boys bring their memories back to life. Listen to the podcast here.

You can hear Doty Land and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartradio, Spotify, Castro, and many other sites.

Darnella Frazier Is The Person To Thank For Justice In Minneapolis

One person doing what is required, even when the events are painful to watch and seemingly impossible to stop. That is what we can say about Darnella Frazier.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial inaccurate and misleading description of George Floyd’s death last May “might have become the official account” of what took place, had it not been for video taken by a teenage bystander, Keith Boykin, a CNN commentator, wrote on Twitter.

The video, taken by Darnella Frazier, emerged the night of Mr. Floyd’s death and drove much of the public’s understanding of what took place. Chief Medaria Arradondo of the police department testified at Mr. Chauvin’s trial that within hours of Mr. Floyd’s death he received a text from a local resident telling him about the video.

Later, Chief Arradondo, who testified as a witness for the prosecution at Mr. Chauvin’s trial, praised Ms. Frazier for her actions.

Time and again, and it is sad to recognize the facts, but the events that are outlined by police concerning events that end in shootings and the death of others are not always accurate. More to the point the police at times lie.

That is why the video that Frazier took of the events leading up to the death of George Floyd was essential to the outcome yesterday when Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges by a jury of his peers.

Such videos, either from witnesses or body cameras worn by police underscore the absolute need to have such evidence. That was very much the case in the highly disturbing bodycam video of a Chicago police officer shooting a 13-year-old boy. The video shows the youth appearing to drop a handgun and begin raising his hands less than a second before an officer fires his gun and kills him. A prosecutor previously had told a judge that the teenager had a gun in his hand at the time of the police shooting.

Such video is essential. The foundation of such evidence is that camera recordings do not misrepresent what actually occurs. With camera footage, we will know what actually occurred. Because a camera captures whatever is in front of it means that there is a completely objective piece of evidence. Obviously, one camera angle can not account for the complete event or incident that is taking place.

But the footage from even one camera can lead to stopping a police department from further undermining the facts and truth itself, such as in the Floyd case and can, in time, bring about justice. As happened at the end of the jury proceedings in the Chauvin trial.

So today Caffeinated Politics gives a robust salute to Darnella Frazier for being the person who knew what needed to be done in a most painful situation.

And so it goes.

Editorial Cartoons: Justice In America With George Floyd Verdict

There have been far too many videos of Black men being killed by police. We have all seen the brutality and senselessness that has taken place in all parts of the country. But no other video gripped the nation or moved it as did the nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds when a police officer willfully killed George Floyd. What has resulted from that killing is transformative. Society is more aware of the needed changes that must come in law enforcement, and more are engaged and active in understanding systemic racism. Meanwhile, the Black community rightfully states this moment is long, long overdue.

Late this afternoon a Minnesota jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges. He was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the May 2020 killing of Floyd. It took the jurors roughly 10 hours to deliberate the outcome. Sentencing will take place in eight weeks and Chauvin will be held without bail until that time.

So how do we process the jury outcome and find a ‘national voice’ as the courthouse lights dim in Minneapolis this evening? I would argue that the moment is so large and the meaning so deep and emotional for so many that trying to place words to the moment is fruitless.

Instead, let us look at the first editorial cartoons that are being posted around the nation. These images, as proven to be the case so often in other national moments of high emotion, convey the mood of the people far better than a 2,500-word essay. There will be time for the analysis and the written introspection.

For now, however, feel the power of the moment with these editorial cartoons.

My Memories Of Walter Mondale

A brief shower failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Democratic Presidential candidate Walter Mondale and Vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro during a Merrill campaign visit. Applauding them is Congressman David Obey who represented that area in Congress.

Walter Mondale, the former vice president and champion of liberal politics, activist government, and civil rights who ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1984, losing to President Ronald Reagan in a landslide, died on Monday at his home in Minneapolis. He was 93.

He was my type of Democrat, my type of politician. Correct on the issues with a strong moral character and manners that would be welcome in any home in the nation. He was also the first major politician I had the chance to encounter.

On Labor Day 1984 I was attending the first major political rally of my life.  It was also the first major political rally that I would report on for WDOR radio news.

I was young, eager, and so excited that I could barely contain myself.  Days before the event I had gone through a background check to gain press credentials which allowed me onto the risers with the national press.  Knowing I was going to stand alongside some of the journalists I had a deep respect for was as electrifying to me as being at a rally with a presidential nominee.

I had traveled from Sturgeon Bay to Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Merrill, Wisconsin in my light blue Chevet and still recall the feeling that life could not be better.  I was doing what I had always really wanted to do, which was get close to politics and report about it.  I knew then not everyone could say they get to live what they dream, and I recall attempts to slow down to better take in every moment, every detail.

Many broadcasters were questioning whether the traditional start of the presidential fall campaign was best done in a place like Merrill.  If memory serves me right Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro started that Labor Day in New York and encountered rainy weather.  That the sky was gray and filled with sprinkles in Merrill was not lost on those who thought it an omen for the election outcome.

But Mondale saw it far differently.  With rolled-up shirtsleeves, Mondale told the audience it did not matter whether it was rain, hail, sleet, or snow.  The Democrats would make it to the polls on Election Day!

Here is the final draft of that speech.

Once at the rally site I climbed to stand with the press and was truly pleased to be about three feet from Lynn Sherr and Brit Hume, both from ABC.  I smiled to myself when Sherr asked Hume how to pronounce “La Follette” and I then laughed out loud later than night when she mispronounced it on the national news.   Everyone has on-air slips, and it was comforting to see it play out in front of me.

To be honest being on the risers with the press could have been the culmination of the day and I would have been totally content.

When the music ramped up and Mondale and Ferraro took the simple outdoor platform and gave punchy dramatic stump speeches I knew at once that my political infection was for real.  Never before had I felt so alive.  So in the moment.

Geraldine Ferraro was loved by that crowd in Merrill.  The applause was enthusiastic, and the warmth for her was genuine.  Later I went down and recorded some interviews with voters and my thrust of the news story was how they viewed the first female nominee.  Ferraro was breaking new ground and they were glad Labor Day in Merrill was where she spent some of her time.

I shall be forever grateful to Mondale for choosing Ferraro as his running mate

I will never forget that first major rally, the sense of being young and living life. Or the strong convictions of a man who would have been a far superior choice for the nation that year in the election.

Our country has lost a great man who epitomized the meaning of public service. Mondale summed it up best with one line. “Politics is not about power. It is about doing good for the people.”

And so it goes.

In an Oct. 30, 2012, file photo, former Vice President Walter Mondale, a former Minnesota senator, gestures while speaking at a Students for Obama rally at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the most lopsided presidential election after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won, died Monday, April 19, 2021. He was 93. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Helicopter Flies On Mars, Walter Cronkite Is Smiling

Truly a remarkable day for NASA. And all of us who champion space exploration and the advancement of science.

The Ingenuity helicopter has successfully completed its historic flight on Mars and safely landed back on the surface, according to NASA.

The helicopter’s navigation camera captured a view of the Ingenuity’s shadow on the Martian surface during its first flight.

As I cheer this news and marvel at the pictures being returned to earth I also am thinking about Walter Cronkite.

I fondly recall him asking about the Lunar Rover vehicle on the moon and how it operated. He was, after all, the reporter who made the space program and the glorious moon landing understandable and the type of news coverage that those of us who witnessed it still recall with smiles galore. I recall vividly Cronkite reporting that story and making it so real that even a boy could understand. In time Cronkite would be as memorable a figure to me from that time as Neil Armstrong. As a young boy, it was Cronkite who made the biggest and best adventure possible. He also needs to be thanked for bringing science into our homes.

Today I just know ‘Uncle’ Walter is smiling over this news.

Andrew Yang As Next New York City Mayor?

During 2019 and into the presidential primary season for the Democratic Party nomination I was struck, again and again, how many people were drawn towards the message of Andrew Yang. His message, which at times was not of the consultant-driven type one hears from a candidate for high office, resonated with many diverse friends on my Facebook feed. It was the first indication that he had that special quality that is a necessity in politics.

He spoke with facts, good grammar, and came across as a serious and intelligent candidate.

People listened to what he said and paid attention over the months of his race. It was more than just a new face on the debate stage, or that he was viewed as an outsider, which for some voters is an appealing touch. Rather, it was about how he framed issues and did not step out of his ‘lane’ in order to adopt the rhetoric of others in the race just to gain traction.

It is that steadfastness to his view of economics and the big issues driving our times that has him now the ‘talk of the town’. If you can call New York City a town.

Yang’s drive to be the next mayor of that essential American City is catching lots of attention as the remarkably diverse, boisterous, and power-laden environment will soon elect a new leader.

With his winning personality able to open doors for him, and his desire to impact racism, climate change, and address the poverty of those at the lowest economic rung means he now has a real chance at an election victory. The presidential race was never his to have, but it did allow him to be known and market his message.

A message, which many voters have embraced.

And so it goes.

Vaccinations Continue To Pit Blue States Against Red States Over Science And Facts

There was good news on Wisconsin’s vaccination front as reported in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Door County had the highest rate, with 56.7%, followed by Bayfield County, with 53.0%, and Dane County, with 52.4%.

But there was also some troubling news.

As of Saturday, Taylor County had the state’s lowest vaccination rate, with 21.8% of residents receiving at least one dose, followed by Clark County, with 22.2%, and Rusk County, with 26.4%.

From the uplifting accounts of places where people know the importance of making medically wise decisions to be vaccinated, not only for themselves but for the larger community, is deflated with the numbers showing that many places are not acting in a responsible manner. While there are a number of factors determining vaccination rates be it transportation issues or education differences among varying communities, the most troubling factor to fathom is how partisan politics plays a role about a proven remedy during a pandemic.

Science acts equally in Blue states as it does in Red States. The virus will attack a conservative just as viscously as it will a liberal. The data shows the upside for being vaccinated in Trump Country is as beneficial as in Biden Land. For any rational person, therefore, there is no reason not to heed professional advice and get the shot(s).

But as the Madison paper pointed out the partisan landscape has warped logic.

Polls continue to show more resistance to getting the COVID-19 vaccine among Republicans than Democrats. A Monmouth University poll last week said 43% of Republicans plan to avoid the vaccine, compared with 5% of Democrats, while a Quinnipiac University poll said 45% of Republicans will refuse, compared with 7% of Democrats.

In last year’s presidential election, more than 66% of voters in Clark, Rusk and Taylor counties voted for former Republican President Donald Trump, while Bayfield, Dane and Door counties went for Democratic President Joe Biden, though the race was close in Door County.

This partisan phenomenon is not one just demonstrated in the Badger State. Look at the national data and it is unnerving when considering the increase in COVID cases in half of the states, and the easier transmittable and potent variants that are leading the surge in cases. In the maps below factor in not only where education and science scores are higher…..and where they are lower…but also where Republicans reside, and where Democratic strongholds exist.

The need to even justify why vaccines matter is akin to arguing why phonics matters for the creation of a new reader and speller. But as reported in The New York Times there is ample evidence that red states could read to counter their willful disdain for science and reasoning.

Evidence from abroad underscores the importance of raising vaccination rates. In Britain, some 47 percent of the population has received at least one dose. This vaccination level in combination with lockdowns led new cases there to fall from nearly 60,000 per day in early January to fewer than 3,000 per day now — a 96 percent decline. In the same period, deaths dropped to fewer than 40 a day from about 1,200 — a 97 percent decline, and a much more significant drop than in the United States.

In Israel, over 60 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and deaths have fallen by over 85 percent from the January peak; U.S. deaths fell by more than 75 percent during the same period.

I was again taken back this past week when reading a poll that while only 4% of Democrats say that they will refuse the vaccine, 42% of GOP voters informed the pollsters that they will not get it.

If this was not so damn serious for the health of the nation and the economic engine that must be assisted, we could just say Darwin’s theory is at work. But with travel and intermingling of people, the virus in red counties, if left unchecked, is like pee in the swimming pool. It simply will continue to be everywhere.

And as such, we need to press the need for science to win out over the partisan danger. People need to be vaccinated.

And so it goes.

Mass Shooting In Indianapolis Makes This Another Normal, Typical American Day, Thanks To The NRA

It is early Friday morning…..not yet 3 A.M. when I write this post.  There has been another horrific and senseless mass shooting. A gunman killed eight people and injured at least four others Thursday before killing himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. The New York Times reported a person who saw “a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open.”

The headlines about mass shootings in America take place so often that they start to blend together. They start to lose their shocking and breathtaking impact as we know this is just another normal and typical day. That is due to our nation placing the selfish needs of those who hold onto their weapons with a fetish quality as being more important than the lives and safety of the vast majority of the nation.

We have every reason to be angry this morning upon hearing the news of the latest mass shooting. But the NRA has bought Congress and our anger will not stand in the way of the dollars to be made for the gun industry. Republicans are never going to allow for the passage of bills to curtail gun violence.

But we know what is happening to our nation. Bullet by bullet, victim by victim, we know. Our gun culture is producing grave–quite literally–consequences for the nation. I have two points to make about our culture.

First, consider a trend I have noticed for many years where on Christmas Day men will post their new semiautomatic weapons on social media–as if Santa is no more than an NRA delivery service.  It is far beyond gross.  Guns have become a fetish for men who need some external means to enhance their image of being masculine.  So the Republicans are correct, in some regards, when they claim that mental health is a part of the problem with gun violence in our nation.

Second, consider my love for fast cars with the ‘need’ for an AR-15.  When creating my MINI convertible for manufacture in Britain I could have opted for the top-end engine model which would have almost lifted the tar off the roads. But there is no place for driving in such a fashion so I allowed reality to make the decision.  Just as there is no sensible reason for owning a car with power not really needed or able to be used, one can then relate it to a gun, such as an AR-15, where its usefulness in the real world is nill.

Meanwhile this morning eight victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the latest mass shooting. Four people were transferred to area hospitals, including one person in critical condition. 

And the NRA will twist whatever they can get their hands on to prevent any GOP Senator from urging for anything more than thoughts and prayers for the gun victims.