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.

Happy Easter And A Blessed Passover

Have a nice long weekend. I will be back at the start of next week and might have a thought or two about the headlines! Be good.

Market Square Theatre Memories, As It Closes For Good

One of those special places in Madison that created fond memories and plenty of escapes from the concerns of the day is now closed for good. Market Square Cinemas located on the West Side, which presented budget films is no more.

The last movie was shown Thursday night.

For movie buffs on a budget, it was the perfect location to catch an afternoon film or take in an independent production that likely was not to be found nowhere else in the city. There was never a time when the lights went down and the screen was lit with the opening shots of Universal or MGM or Twentieth Century Fox that the inner kid did not bounce. Movies have always made a connection with me.

But there was more than just the films which made Market Square Cinemas special.

When I was recuperating from a medical situation in the late 1990s I often took in a budget film. As I was walking along the side of the building where the promotional posters showcase the productions on the big screen a good friend from my days in broadcasting walked out of the building. I had been the best man at his wedding but had not seen him in a few years as he lived elsewhere. He had recently moved to the Madison area and as such, it was his love of film and the timing outside of Market Square that allowed us to reconnect.

Films are special that way in that they draw people together, and form mileposts for the years of our life.

James and I spent many, many hours at that theatre over the decades watching everything from Moulin Rouge to Star Wars to Frida and on and on. One of my favorite films—on the top ten of my list, for sure, was The English Patient. The movie was so remarkably acted, filmed, and edited that I still recall at times leaning forward with an arm on the seat ahead of me as wanting to be closer to the characters.

That memory speaks volumes about the movie but also the atmosphere that was created at Market Square. At times the theatre was as full of ticketholders as the popularly-named ones in the city. Other times, there would be a small number of people scattered about and it was those movies that one might think there was a private viewing for the selected few. When that happened on a weekday afternoon it created an almost guilty pleasure sensation as the film started.

Due to the pandemic, the last time I was at Market Square would have been in late 2019. The same goes for any movie theatre. It saddens me that this business, more than any other in our area, is closing. The theatre allowed, at a perfect price for everyone, an escape that only a movie can take a person on as the opening credits roll.

These days many movies arrive at theatres on magnetic hard drives. But I recall at times the open door to a room where the silver round canisters of the films would be stacked. From time to time there would be a problem with the projection of the movie. Other times an audience member would slip up the aisle to advise the person in charge to increase the volume in the theatre.

All of those recollections make for nostalgia. And also sadness over losing something that meant so much to so many for so long. This feeling puts me in a mood to hunker down with a movie.

But no longer can that escape take place at Market Square Cinemas.

Thanks for the fond memories.

And so it goes.

Standing With Heather Colbert’s 15-Year-Old Son, Brutal School Beating Must Be Addressed

If there is ever a reason to finally address the continuing level of violence at Madison Public Schools it follows Heather Colbert sitting down with WKOW News and speaking about her son. The high school student was confronted by a group of students on school grounds who were making fun of him. Soon he fell victim to a savage beating which resulted in “three teeth in the front of his mouth that was actually jammed up into his gums”.

I do not often need to stop the DVR and rewind to fully take in the enormity of what was reported. But the brutality of the attack and the thoughts of this young man considering suicide reached out and touched me so that I needed to replay the news story a couple of times.

“He’s been very depressed. He has talked quite a bit about committing suicide, not wanting to be here, because he feels that he’s ugly with the way that his teeth look right now, said Colbert.

It really ripped at me when it was reported, “He can chew with some difficulties. We’ve been trying to get him mostly to eat softer foods than anything”. 

I will reach out to this teenage student through a letter and offer my support as I know too much about bullying and suicide. I also know the feeling as a teenager of not always having the smile desired. That is what I will do for him, in an effort to make a difference.

But it is also imperative to ask that will the larger community do to seriously address the violence that harms students, undermines classroom learning, and smears the entire school district? Not for the first time do I advocate for a common-sense and most logical tool as a step in the resolution to this violence.

At present, three teenagers are facing charges after the January fight which left the 15-year-old’s smile significantly damaged. But how did we get to the point where something this vile could have occurred at a school where taxpayers ante up a fair amount of money so education can be imparted to our youth?

Many in this city, myself included, strongly urged the Madison School Board to not fall for the protest crowd’s mantra calling for the expelling of educational resource officers– city police–from our four public high schools. The board shunned logic and common sense and ousted the EROs–sadly, perhaps the only adult disciplinarian some students have in their lives.

The city was told that if we had police officers in the schools it would feed the “school-to-prison pipeline”.  Good Lord! It sure looks like some teenagers, such as this savage beating underscores, are more than able to take that path all by themselves, and are doing it most willingly.

It must not be forgotten that the community-minded EROs did have a large degree of popularity from many families in Madison. What proved difficult was to find the bandwidth to respond when it came to engaging with those who would shut down a street to make a point. Let us be clear as to the facts. The EROs, when in the schools, broke up many large-scale cafeteria fights and disarmed students bringing loaded weapons to school.

The case with this 15-year-old student again demonstrates why it is important to have such men and women in our schools to keep the students and staff safe from those who wish to inflict violence on others. Threats that we know all too well come from within and outside our schools.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes, a former school resource officer (SRO) said that he’s working to curb escalating school violence, saying that SROs can alert when there’s a potential school threat.

“We cannot prevent something when we’re not there at the time of occurrence, and that’s what I think one of the benefits of having a school resource officer,” said Chief Barnes. “When things were about to happen, people will come to me and say, ‘Hey, maybe you should look out at lunchtime,’ and then I could bring people in and try to defuse those situations. I think we can do that in the school system.”

“I do feel that if an officer were there, it would help the response time for police to be there to interrupt any situation that’s happening,” said Colbert.

This issue is no longer a question we can leave to the shouters in the public square. I know the vast majority of city residents and taxpayers know our schools should be places of learning and not sites of multiple examples of violence. We should never have a student needing to find money to restructure his teeth after being seriously beaten and deformed at a school. The citizenry must stand up collectively and demand that police again walk the halls of our public schools.

Enough playing to the loudest shouters on the street who truly have no idea what is required to make a classroom ready for learning. They have not a clue as to what a teacher endures to get just a short period of a class period filled with learning.

Folks, we have to set some serious boundaries. Enough coddling of the violent ones in the schools who have no intention of learning, and who prove with the number of police calls only a desire to act disruptively, again and again.

I stand with Heather Colbert’s son. Will you please do the same?


And so it goes.

Boris Johnson Nears Meltdown, Will He Comb Hair For His Resignation?

There are those we love to see fail, simply because they are most worthy of public scorn and nasty but justified front-page headlines. Such as this case.

How the British Prime Minster misused his platform over the years to promote Brexit and stir passions about grievances, and in so doing stoked deep divisions in the nation, requires a reckoning. It remains one of the most unnecessary and illogical policy moves in the whole of Europe in my lifetime.

What will bring Johnson down is his lack of character and his sleazy way of conducting this government. During the pandemic he played by two sets of rules and now has moved to embracing conspiracy theories.

This morning Johnson goes to his office after losing four of his most senior aides in the space of a few hours and suffering a humiliating rebuke from his chancellor for propagating a conspiracy theory.

He lost his chief of staff, his director of communications and his parliamentary private secretary. Dan Rosenfield, Jack Doyle and Martin Reynolds all tossed him their resignations Thursday as part of a brutal clear-out of Downing Street staff. But the most significant and damaging loss is that of No. 10 policy chief Munira Mirza, one of the prime minister’s closest allies.

The morning newspapers in Britain are searing. The only other headline to write….and this desk hopes soon…is the resignation of Johnson.

And so it goes.

Blogging Resumes January 1, 2022!