President Biden Addresses “Battle For The Soul Of Nation”

It was a national address from a President of the United States that the citizenry needed not only to hear but to heed.  While the three main networks did not air the speech the gravitas of the message from Philadelphia was one that echoed from the Founding Fathers about political passions that are not tempered with reason and dangerous autocratic behavior not bridled by citizens.

President Biden spoke from Independence Hall Thursday evening to give a stern warning to the nation about our national democratic values being flagrantly assaulted and undermined by forces of extremism who kneel to Donald Trump. Biden did not mix words when he stated the issue that we face.  This is, he told us, a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

The message is one that the majority of this nation has been aware of since the years when Trump sat in the Oval Office and especially since the end of Election Day in November 2020.  We watched with dread and revulsion as the seditious actions played out at our nation’s Capital on January 6th and since then as Trump deliberately and aggressively has poked and stoked his followers who are easily led to the point they will even aid in the undermining of our nation.   Those followers are willing to add their voices as election deniers and some even have lowered themselves to the point they now call for violence to be unleashed in this country.

So it is readily understood with the facts we have seen play out that Biden was correct when stating Thursday that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

The others in the nation who have embraced reading and understanding our national story could connect and agree with the historical truth when Biden talked about the “extraordinary experiment of self-government” represented by the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, saying that “history tells us a blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.” The Federalist Papers which were taught in high school, and more deeply studied in college alerted many Americans to the dangers the Founders urged us to avoid.

I have advocated for years our nation required a president to undertake the role, though some might think it old-fashioned, of a leader who will stand on the stage and preach the values of democracy.  The efforts of reducing and outright removing liberal democracy around the world have been underway for decades. Autocrats prattle about how democracy is not the way for nations to grow and prosper. Actions from Hungary to Brazil have left many worldwide rightly concerned about the condition of democracy. China has challenged democratic tendencies in places like Hong Kong, while we know all too well that Russia will do anything for wistful memories of an empire.  That battle for democracy is also taking place in the United States.  Right in front of eyes.  The seriousness of the matter makes headlines daily as democracy versus dictatorship, freedom versus authoritarianism plays and we must be engaged as citizens to defend the core ideals handed to us by the Founders.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned several examples of possible dangerous behavior to democracy and placed solutions to them within the Constitution. But they simply could not have fathomed the degree of partisanship and even outright sedition and treason currently running through some parts of the Republican Party. Partisanship is so deep and corrosive that it would harm the nation itself.

It is truly concerning for the politics of our time, and for the very nature of democracy itself, that a rather staggering number of Trump’s most vociferous, foul, and unbalanced followers are proving to be violent and hostile. Conservatives have willingly traded away their credibility by allowing the Republican Party to be hijacked by Trump. Today, no actual conservative party policy idea can surface as the saturation of crazy has dominated every aspect of the GOP. There is no oxygen in the room to talk about ideas as there is a past election outcome to excoriate.

So, it was most appropriate, in fact necessary, that Biden called out last evening the vilest of the Trump base who have seized hold of one of America’s two great political parties.  That element celebrates the violent mob that stormed the Capitol in hopes of overturning an election.  That is what the weak-minded in the nation have opted to do with the ideals and hopes of our Founding Fathers.   As I watched the 24-minute speech it dawned on me how remarkable this moment in our history is, as first, a president has never needed to call out the opposing party for their desire to strangle democracy. But secondly, there has never been a time in the 45 years (since age 15) of my reading American history where that was required. Biden stated it precisely as our nation needed to hear it. “You can’t love your country only when you win”.

Campaign For Wisconsin Governor Must Address Labor Shortage, Need For Immigrant Labor

With the campaign for Wisconsin governor moving in full steam towards the November election voters are being offered an array of pretty much the same fare as past fall races.  This year there is alpha-male posing from Republican nominee Tim Michels while Tony Evers unveils a cheesy tax cut. Voters know aggressive masculinity does not equate to good governance, and that our transportation budget needs state funds far more than individuals do with an extra couple hundred bucks in their wallet.

Yes, we are now in that time when candidates will say and do anything for a point bump in the polls or a series of favorable headlines.  I understand the need to press all the buttons and make every effort to prevail at the polls, but there must also be a real conversation with the electorate about issues that matter.  One of those topics is something I have talked about for at least 20 years.  Count the number of graduates leaving high school in May and then count the new faces entering kindergarten in September.  We have a genuine worker shortage, in every business sector and in every region around the Badger State.

On Sunday Tom Still, who I believe should be in the kitchen cabinet for whoever wins the governorship, stated most clearly why there is a need to focus on our state’s worker shortage.

Economists and demographers in Wisconsin have been warning for decades that a shortage of workforce-age people was inevitable. The St. Louis-based research arm of the Federal Reserve reports Wisconsin’s “labor force participation” rate declined from 74.5% in late 1997 to 66.4% in June 2022. That rate reflects the number of all employed and unemployed workers divided against the state’s civilian population.

Stills also noted a sobering fact about the dismal rate of growth from those moving here from another state.

At a time when much of the United States is on the move, Wisconsin isn’t a leading destination. About 1.1 million people moved from one U.S. state to another in 2021, the conference was told, yet only 3,400 or so wound up in Wisconsin.

Among the various factors Still connected to the worker shortage, was the fact our state will need to view immigration in a different light if we are to meet the economic needs we face. Nine years ago, in 2013, he wrote a column about immigrant workers in the Badger State.

Immigration reform can help the Wisconsin economy at a time when the demographics of an aging society are chipping away at the state’s workforce, from its kitchens, farms and resorts to its research laboratories and tech companies.

In a global economy, Wisconsin looks much less international than even its neighbors. Compared to Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, Wisconsin has a smaller share of foreign-born population and total labor force, as well as fewer foreign-born business owners.

During the primary season, there were countless television ads by Michels where “illegals” were mentioned. We learned that he aligned with Donald Trump concerning a wall at the Southern border. He ground down with campaign rhetoric about “no drivers’ licenses, no benefits, and no tuition” for immigrants.

We too often hear conservative pols use dehumanizing language regarding immigrants.  Over the past years, we have had too many truly sad examples of political discourse that was xenophobic and racist. The facts are of course that immigrants are human beings in search of a better life, fair wages, safety, and security.  Additionally, we know that Wisconsin requires their labor and skills.

While the usual theatrics of a campaign season is upon us it appears that once again the long-term problem of a shortage of workers in our state will be left behind.  Slogans and heavy rhetoric about red meat topics will not address the shortage of workers businesses confront year after year in the construction trades, farms, or on the manufacturing floors. Voters should be provided ideas by the candidates for governor about how our state deals with this pressing problem.

Alex Wollet Is Modern-Day Hugh Sloan, Copies Of Clark Kent

With many tasks underway at my desk, this post is several days late. But given the nation’s amusement while watching ‘Clark Kent’ at the January 6th congressional committee hearing last week it appears this addition is still timely. What made some in the nation sit up and wonder if Superman’s bespectacled reporter alter ego had entered the political arena to make things right was when this image appeared on television screens.
Seated behind witnesses Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, sporting a sleek navy suit and glasses was 23-year-old Alex Wollet, a medical school student from Ohio. He is currently doing a fellowship at The National Institutes of Health. When I saw him I instantly thought of Hugh Sloan. Who, my readers ask, is Hugh Sloan?
During the 1973 Senate Watergate Committee Hearings, which I started watching in chronological order during the pandemic, the former treasurer of the Richard Nixon re-election committee held forth for several days with inside information about the money at the heart of the sandal.  Chairman Sam Ervin and the fellow committee members all praised Sloan for his candor and assistance with the investigation. Why the connection came at once in my mind between Wollet, Sloan, and Clark Kent is clearly apparent. Who can ever claim the era of Richard Nixon was boring?

Another Year For Smiles

Life is good. As another year is observed today I was pleasantly reminded of all the free smiles that are to be had daily.

While mowing Wednesday a family biked by our home and stopped to chat. We showed them inside since they had not been here during the pandemic and were unable to see our work at refurbishing since the 2019 purchase of the top two floors.

But it was when Kuno sat in his chair on the second-floor balcony, like he did as a younger boy on the front lawn, that my heart really lifted.

I always offered whole Sassy Cow chocolate milk to him and his big sister and so one day after heading outside I find him all by himself in a chair. He was just visiting from two doors down and wanted some milk!

Visiting Wednesday with his adorable sister, Hilke, and mom, Erin, was a tonic for the soul. There is much in the state and world which makes for concerns, but it is the simple unexpected smiles that continue to make life most grand.

AR 15 Must Be Banned. Period.

Far too many mass shooters use an AR-15 to kill people, injure others, and strike fear into our nation. While we know that one does not need an AR-15 to shoot at people, as inner-city streets of most cities make that point very clear, it is abundantly clear the AR-15 is the mass murderer’s weapon of choice for such violence.

The AR-15’s purpose is clear based on far too frequent mass shootings which underscore the sickening built-in efficiency in accomplishing the gunman’s mission of rapidly killing many people.  AR-15-style semiautomatic and fully automatic weapons are civilian versions of military weapons, and reasonable people know there is no reason under the sun as to why this weapon is allowed for sale to the general public.  The deadly weapon has no valid recreational use. Period.

While the amoral gun industry and the bat-crap crazy NRA will conjure up all sorts of reasons why the average everyday American should have a weapon designed for the battlefield–based on their greed and ability to look past the blood from their victims–the majority in the nation know better. While the knuckledraggers prattle on about why they should have such a weapon logic dictates the AR-15 is in no way meant for hunting. The AR 15 has one mission, and only one. To kill people. Many of them. In mere seconds.

The AR-15 should be outright banned. 

The folks in places where such weapons are used now know that to be true, too. Places, where such violence is unleashed, know the grave harm that can befall a community by an AR 15, along with the lack of gun laws in the nation that could have stemmed such death and injury.

Any angry person can obtain an AR 15 and since there are no required training classes and no compiling of names of those who own this military-grade weapon the public is unaware of those who are stockpiling such weapons and the ammo to fire.

The public only gets that information once funeral services are required for their loved ones.

Some Wisconsin Progressives Must Share Blame For Supreme Court Abortion Debacle

It is fair to say that conservative justices on the Supreme Court embraced an ideological position from which they ruled when handing down the decision that undid the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. No one can pretend the ruling was framed with only the law in mind, as the playbook for this result was fashioned from the likes of the Federalist Society along with the decades of work by politicians such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They sought an outcome from the Court and did everything in their power to have it realized. Even if the law and precedent had to be stepped over so to achieve it.

The blowback of the citizenry that has occurred over the past several days is not surprising. We are seeing only the start of what will be a relentless and searing rhetorical effort to steer voters to the ballot box in this fall’s mid-term elections. Whether or not the issue of abortion is so baked into the partisan DNA of the voters already, or if there is room to energize more votes for Democrats in key races will be what politicos watch play out this summer and fall.

While conservatives on the Court are correctly taking the bulk of the anger and outrage since Friday morning, it does need to be pointed out there is another segment of the nation that also needs to be accountable for the tossing away of Roe. Those people were the purists in the Democratic Party or that segment of the independent vote that could not see the wisdom of supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016.

It was noted often on this blog how I felt about the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. At the time of the 2016 Democratic Convention, I stated the following.

Bernie Sanders was out of the race for the nomination by mid-March with no mathematical way forward.  Still, however, the socialist thought he could take over the Democratic Party.  Instead of bowing out gracefully, he bore down harder still into the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

It also should not come as any surprise to those who supported Sanders for the nomination that races are tough and politics means someone wins and someone loses.  If one is not aware of that simple fact it means they really should not be weighing in on the larger and far more complex issues that face the nation.

Basic politics underscores that no candidate in good conscience would seek to undermine the eventual nominee of the party. The results of such a strategy are dangerous. Continued bombast from the far left about Clinton aided in too many of them sitting out the 2016 presidential election or voting for someone that had zero chance of winning.

Clearly, pragmatism was not underlined as a needed component in politics and governing when civics was being taught in some classrooms. But it is very much an essential ingredient to our political dynamics, and when it is missing or willingly tossed aside, we then have election outcomes that produce a Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office.

In Wisconsin in 2016, Democrats needed roughly 20,000 more votes to carry it for Clinton. The numbers were roughly the same for Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Had those three states found their common sense the electoral college would have been 270 for Hillary Clinton. As I often write on CP, not only must we vote—but we must always vote intelligently,

Consider that in Wisconsin the amount Clinton lost by was less than the 30,981 votes Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein garnered statewide to get 1.1 percent of the total.  Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson took 3.6 percent of the statewide total or 106,434 votes.   

As a result of Trump winning the presidency, he had the opportunity to name three Supreme Court appointments, and those three justices were critical to the ruling that now places women across large swaths of the nation no longer being able to make their own reproductive health decisions.

There is absolutely a need to hold conservatives accountable for what was handed down from the Court. But if we are honest, there also must be a recognition of those progressives and independents who cared more about some notion of ‘purity’, than for the greater political and policy needs of the nation. Those people can try to duck, weave, and spin their yarns but they, too, are very much a part of the reason Roe was undermined.

“It’s All I Think About During The School Day”

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A mother and her daughter were walking a dog as I did a lawn project on Thursday. After a general conversation about the perfect weather, I asked the girl how many more days of school she had before every nice day could be enjoyed outside. The Marquette Elementary student shyly smiled and said 6 more days—with her smile growing as she got to the end of the sentence. She let me know she was glad to have summer vacation arrive.

“But not as happy as I am,’’ her mother stated. After I expressed that is not usually the sentiment of parents she added, “after this past week it’s all I think about during the school day.”

Her words did not need to add all the details for the message to be registered.

It was yet another example of the national dialogue that is taking place, yet again, after a painful and preventative mass shooting of children.

But as the country talked across fences, wrote letters to the editor, called their elected officials, and sadly started attending funerals for 19 school children in  Uvalde, Texas we read of more gun deaths.

News reports have alerted us that in just the past 9 days, 17 more people were shot to death, in Michigan, Colorado, California, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

Thursday it was reported that the mass shooting which occurred in Oklahoma was the result of a gunman able to buy an AR-15 style assault rifle only hours before the weapon was used to kill two doctors and two others. That shooting was the 20th mass shooting since the 19 school children were murdered in Texas.

I do not need to write the obvious when saying the nation has taken more than its share of gun deaths and injuries due to the under-regulated sales and ease with which these deadly weapons are able to proliferate among the public.

President Joe Biden took to the national airwaves in a timely and profoundly important address aimed to urge Congress to do its duty to the American people regarding guns. It did not matter which political party anyone calls home, or how one cast a ballot in 2020. In what may have been Biden’s finest effort to connect with a nation often at odds, he presented the American problem with guns.

After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done. This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something. The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.

According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the No. 1 killer of children in the United States of America. The No. 1 killer. More than car accidents, more than cancer. Over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.

Think about that. More kids than on-duty cops killed by guns. More kids than soldiers killed by guns. For God’s sake. How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough.

Rational people know there is a need that calls out for concrete action to stop the death and blood-letting which can occur anywhere. The toll it is having on children, as an example, has been computed and compiled. Since 2019, more than 4,500 children have been shot to death in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That’s about the same number of US military members killed during the 17 years of the Iraq War.

The facts and data scream out for an American response to what is clearly known worldwide as an American problem.

For every one child under the age of 5 shot and killed in other high-income countries, there are 29 US kids under the age of 5 shot and killed. For every one child under the age of 15 shot and killed in other high-income countries, there are 13 US kids under the age of 15 shot and killed.

What more sobering statistics does an elected official need to have before knowing the kids in the nation need congressional allies before the gun lobby needs another sign of deference and servility?

Though I am an optimist about life in general and have always been attracted to political messages that lift up hope and speak to, as President Lincoln said, “the better angels of our nature” I have not felt this Congress can deliver a gun-control package. The reason being, as Biden said during his televised address, a partisan desire to do nothing.

The fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.

The American public is watching Congress, and as we all know from our personal conversations, the revulsion about these shootings has reached an all-time high. Just how long do those wedded to the NRA think they can defy the demands of a nation?

More Editorial Cartoons Perfectly Toned About Mass Shooting In Texas School

These political cartoons found on the editorial pages of newspapers across the United States perfectly match the message and the mood of America.