Jennifer Dorow’s Unsound Judgement On Mingling Guns And Alcohol Calls Into Question Her Suitability For High Court

When I think of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices my mental image constructs a serious person with law books and one of those expensive type pens that write smoothly and has a nice heft when held. I recall the mesh market bag that held at least ten legal tomes as Wisconsin Justice Shirley Abramson placed them into the back of my car for a trip to Door County. She was a guest speaker at an event packaged by our legislative office, and I readily introduced my sincere interest in being her means of transportation. I would argue she best exemplified and epitomized a member of the high court in both intellect and legal reasoning, as well as temperament and personal composure. After all, that court must be viewed as a place of decorum and high personal standards.

I have been giving thought about the type of person best suited to sit on the court as our state enters the final weeks of a primary contest where four candidates vying to fill the seat of a retiring conservative member. (Place aside for the moment that merit selection would be a wiser and more appropriate way to fill seats on the court.) There is no way to not think about the type of person we need on the court, especially when reading the news this weekend.  One of the candidates, Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow, has been constructing a business plan in Delafield for an indoor gun range with a liquor license.  Potentially alcohol-fueled guests could also buy firearms and accessories on-site and use them on a shooting range.  One might assume there will be convenient cups and glass holders near to where the bullets are stored for easy access for the paying guests as they load the deadly weapons. I have never heard of a more potentially dangerous business plan. 

Nothing of this type has come before the local Marquette Neighborhood Association, where over the years I have attended meetings on proposals for many an entrepreneurial design. While many were interested in making money and having success with their venture, no one would have ever so foolishly entertained the marriage of alcohol and guns.  Dorow is just plain wrong to play so close to potential injury, or worse, as she seeks to make money.  This business plan, in and of itself, serves notice as to why she is not fit to sit on the Supreme Court.

Our state has many complex and weighty issues that percolate up to the court that then await the review and findings of the justices. Citizens obviously have sincere, and at times, very diverse opinions as to the proper outcome of such cases.  But win or lose, at the end of the day, the populace must have a feeling the justices are credible individuals. Folks around the state most likely are not much aware of the nuances of the law and state statutes, but they can relate to the foundations that a justice must first have a solid character and basic common sense as a prerequisite for being elected.

Dorow alerts us to her lack of seriousness for statewide office as a justice when she endorsed combining alcohol sales, gun sales, and a shooting range.  Why not ask for a daycare center in an adjoining room?

Wisconsin GOP Elections Commission Member Robert Spindell Said Quiet Part Out Loud

This week I reflected on advice that was offered many years ago by former Republican State Senator Robert Welch when he was lamenting the number of unwed mothers in the state.  He contended that shame was lacking in our society and pondered the value of that emotion when dealing with issues that arise from those pregnancies. My reason for thinking about the Waushara County pol and the use of shame followed hearing the news about a highly troubling email from Wisconsin Elections Commission member Robert Spindell.  If ever there was a time for shame to be observed by someone in the public eye, this would be the moment for it to be keenly felt.

Spindell sent an email to his good ‘ol boy network of fellow Republicans with a statement that underscores why conservatives have been charged in the public mind with attempting to thwart the right of voters and undermine people of color at the ballot box. 

“In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

“…this great and important decrease in Democrat votes in the City” was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan,”

Applauding and approving of reduced voter input in the election process is a sick and twisted way to view the most important way citizens communicate their views of candidates and policy ideas.  To send a statement gloating about “this great and important decrease” runs counter to the ideals of our Founders and the concept of fair play we should strive for in our body politic.  

There was glee in the words of Spindell about decreased voter turnout.  We have witnessed in many places around the nation, especially after the November 2020 elections, that among the first items on their agendas were bills to reduce the ability of voters to cast a ballot. Many of the proposals placed a harder burden on minorities to vote and have their feelings made known at the ballot box.  

It troubles me that limiting voter participation continues to be an accepted trait among conservatives.  As Americans, this practice should alarm us greatly. I would like to think that more Republicans…somewhere… might understand the larger more noble calling at making sure elections are open and accessible to all voters. The perverse partisan joy at blocking voting or limiting a citizen’s ability to participate fully in our democracy is truly sickening, and disheartening.

Is there any doubt as to why more of the general public is coming to understand that Republicans feel they cannot win elections unless they suppress votes? Or rig district boundaries with gerrymandering?  As such, we all need to care more about the condition of our electoral processes and the faith people must have in them so to buttress the foundations of our democracy.  Whatever political stripe we label ourselves it is essential that at the end of the day, in that quiet space that is all our own, we recognize the harm and outrageousness of Spindell’s comment.

And then demand his resignation from the Elections Commission. His conduct in the fake elector scheme was more than enough reason for his ouster, but now his continued untoward behavior is a reminder that there are far better people who can serve on the commission.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Running For CA Senate Seat, My Letter To Her Following 9/11 Terrorism

I was greeted this morning with truly good news upon learning that Californian Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be seeking the nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2024. Often over the decades, I have penned my thoughts and perspectives to elected officials, as with this letter to Lee from September 15, 2001, which I post below. It underscores my admiration and respect she creates among the citizenry. I am most proud of her record, along with her commitment to the values and ideals of our nation. My bedrock foundations regarding issues in the Middle East have long been positioned on history and reason. Lee will be a strong advocate of the same as a United States senator.

Honorable Barbara Lee
United States House of Representatives
426 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0509

September 15, 2001
Dear Representative Lee,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your courageous vote regarding the course of action that our nation should employ regarding the horrendous events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.  Public service is a noble calling and made more so by those who are motivated by conscience, and as such, work against the prevailing winds.

As an American who watched with revulsion as our nation was besieged by terrorism, I share the national outrage and anger that we commonly feel.  I strongly want the perpetrators found and dealt with forcefully.  While I believe that this deed must be met head-on with a strong American response, I am also very concerned about the national lust for blood and the foreign policy repercussions that would result from open-ended reprisals.

National discourse on foreign policy is a rarity.  Even during national campaigns the issues that confront the United States on the world stage are relegated to a low status.  Our national foreign policy intelligence quotient is quite low.  And yet the polls show that overnight we have become a nation of “experts.”  National anger, as demonstrated by polls, and a Congress that does not have the will to demonstrate leadership apart from the prevailing mood will insure long-term effects that we will regret.

The Middle East has always been a highly contentious and volatile area.  The history and religions of the area have often blinded both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from finding common bonds.  Generations of Palestinians have lived with the knowledge that America funds Israel and supplies them with armaments that are often used against Arabs and Muslims.  The utter frustrations and anger that have festered in the Middle East have helped to radicalize many against Israel and the United States.  Even the moderate elements of the PLO along with nation-states in that region are facing a more difficult time in urging restraint against the radical elements.  And if America strikes in a fashion that only makes it more improbable for moderate voices to be heard, the future looks bleak.

I propose that you use your position to urge a double-pronged approach to the new dynamics that we confront. While we must act against those responsible for this heinous crime we also must pursue a high-level and visible diplomatic mission to the Middle East.  We must insure that even-handedness is the basis by which we act. We must be willing to act as boldly in our diplomatic resolve as we are prepared to do with our military means. Such a dual track will ensure that a just response is leveled against those who did our country harm, but also will show our desire to work for a meaningful and just resolution to the Middle East conflict.

I am reminded of a diplomatic mission that was deemed impossible in the 1970s.  President Jimmy Carter, with unshakable faith and tenaciousness held firm to his goal of a peace accord between Israel and Egypt.  When Prime Minster Begin and President Sadat wanted to leave Camp David without an accord our President relentlessly pursued the goal of our better angels.  In the end, a treaty was agreed to that still provides benefits to both parties.

That scope of vision and determination once again has to be our mission.  As the leader of the free world, we have the means and power to shape a more hopeful world.  History will severely judge us if we do not try.

An often-told story should guide you and other members of Congress in the days ahead.  On his march through France, Napoleon ordered trees to be planted along the roads his marching troops were to use.  One of his advisors replied that it would take 20 years to achieve that goal.  To that Napoleon said, “Well, then we better start planting today.”  

Our nation has been deeply wounded.  Our fears have been heightened.  But our history shows that when difficult times confront Americans we pull together and respond with unity and hope for a better tomorrow.

The vote you took, and the stand you espouse, can be the first visible step towards a better tomorrow.  We urge your continued resolve and involvement with this chapter of our nation’s life.

Sincerely,

Never Again, Donald Trump, Never Again

This arrived in our mail today, having ordered it as the Old Year wrapped up.

There was an author, Allen Drury, who as a boy in the 6th grade captured my attention with a book about a jointly traveled space mission between the U.S. and the then USSR. I was so desiring to be an astronaut at the time, but instead of space, he alerted me along with other events, that political happenings were perhaps more my mission in life. In high school, I started his Advise and Consent series and the cast of continually captivating characters made such an impression that those 6 books have a special place on my shelves over my shoulder as I type today.

But Drury, a former newspaper reporter before his time as a Pulitzer-winning author, could not have created the plot line for what the series of insurrectionist moves researched and reported in this book (pictured above) did to our nation. Drury would say, without a doubt, that our Founding Fathers warned against raw populism and why the citizens needed to not neglect why virtue is a sign of character that we must strive for when elections are held for top offices. He would also remind us that the Founders wanted an informed electorate. Drury was, and I use this term in the best manner here, an old-fashioned American. I am one, too. I suspect most of my readers on this page are the same.

I still believe that our ideals as a nation matter and our purpose on the world stage is essential. The January 6th attack at the heart of our election process and the continued effort to undermine democracy and sully the faith citizens must have in the act of elections allowing for the peaceful transfer of power, strikes not only anger within me but a profound sadness that I again felt holding this book in my hand. It is our duty to know this series of events, and with a determination that equals the Founders in not kneeling to lesser men, we must have that same fortitude to make sure Donald Trump will not have another chance to further damage and destroy what I still firmly know is the best governing system in the world.

Never again will Americans allow Donald Trump to rip at our Constitution.

Wisconsin Man Continues To Cultivate Anger Over Trump Loss in 2020 Election

Four words stuck out of the news story about Harry Wait, the Racine, Wisconsin man who seems desirous of not moving past the 2020 presidential election.  The words used by Patrick Marley for the Washington Post this weekend to describe why some people are simply not able to accept the election outcome is due to the ‘the strategy of cultivating anger’.

By now most are aware of what Wait did in the summer of 2022 that garnered attention, both in the headlines and the courts.

Wait discovered that a state website would allow him to request someone else’s absentee ballot and have it sent to any address. Election officials, who designed the site to make it easy for out-of-town voters to obtain ballots, have maintained that the site does nothing to diminish election integrity, saying anyone who attempted voter fraud would be quickly caught.

But Wait saw the potential for something nefarious and set out to prove a point. He ordered ballots under the names of two officials with whom he has long clashed — one Republican, one Democrat — and asked that the ballots be delivered to his address.

The point of this post is not to give oxygen to conspiracy theories about supposedly fraudulent elections, as we are well aware that if such chicanery as Wait undertook were to take place anywhere from Ashland to Lake Geneva election officials would become aware of it, and take the appropriate actions to correct the problem.  Rather, what I again pondered while reading the news story is the length and breadth that election deniers will go to continue their quest for something that never can be attained.  It would be as impossible to fall off the side of the earth when traveling to Australia in a ship as for Wait to find the election fraud that he and his fellow conspiracists seek.

While Wait uses his time and resources on such fallacies it needs to be understood that others who want to believe Trump was foiled in his pursuit of another term by rampant election fraud, follow such personalities and buy into every word that is uttered.  The damage this does to our political institutions and the foundations of our democracy is real.

When I come across someone who tries to scam me over the internet via email I often think about what meaningful project might be attained if that person applied themself with something that was logical and above board.  While there are many like Wait who seem at some level to care about the nation, would it not make more sense to foster a commitment to some goal that would actually be able to show a benefit and garner public applause, rather than continual and justified rebukes.

It can be noted too often among a segment of Donald Trump’s base that resentment and anger are driving forces regarding a variety of issues. The election victory of Joe Biden has allowed for some to disregard all the guardrails of common sense and reason. With their ‘strategy of cultivating anger’, the same ingredients used by Trump and his inner circle after the 2020 election which started this absurdity, the cycle of ungrounded accusations has taken on a life of its own. 

Kyrsten Sinema Plays A Mighty Weak Hand With Political Stunt

This is one of those posts that in two years I will re-clipping segments of to underscore what we knew to be true at the beginning pages of the final chapter of Kyrsten Sinema’s political career.

From a strategy point of view, in that Arizona voted Democratic for every major seat in the state this year, the news today that U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party, labeling herself instead as an “Arizona independent.” seems like a bad move.  The major players in Washington, while obviously having much to say out of the reach of a microphone, are acting in politeness as she keeps her committee seats and is treated to niceties for acting favorable with the large bills thus far passed in this session of the congress.

But the voices that really matter are those in her home state, where the Democratic Party which knows her best and reviles her most, is already designing the 2024 primary election season which will send a message that she will doubtless then be able to understand.  By weakening her hand with a truly baffling and artlessly played statement today she has likely ceded her role in any future political body.   In other words, her career as a senator is in its waning years.

Republicans were already licking their chops with a vision of capturing her seat and are not going to give her anything that makes her look credible in the coming session.  Democrats will play along to get along as pragmatism in governing is always the smartest way to plow ahead.  But the sleeveless woman now finds herself in the lonely world that fits best in the middle school context.

The kid who eats lunch alone at the far end of the cafeteria.  She knows she could not survive a primary in the Democratic Party but seemingly forgets that she still has to move up and down and over and around the increasing number of political dodgeballs that will plague her in what now will be a never-ending type of nerve-jarring gym class.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Congressman Ruben Gallego who is one of those ideal candidates Arizona is known for when sending people to the senate.  Famed POW John McCain or astronaut Mark Kelly. The outspoken, bilingual Marine Corps veteran has been quietly assembling a Senate campaign team, and with the bizarre news today Gallego is soon to strike the bell of his entrance as a candidate.

He struck the right tone and approach this morning.  “Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I have never backed down from fighting for Arizonans. And at a time when our nation needs leadership most, Arizona deserves a voice that won’t back down in the face of struggle. Unfortunately, Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans.”

What this all proves is what I have known since entering high school in 1976.  Politics is never, ever boring.

Bar Lowered For What Passes As Political Maturity, Concession Speeches Should Be Our Norm

I noted many times on Election Night and the days afterward that news reporters and those offering analysis or explaining vote counts from those states still not having concluded the process so to ascertain a winner used cautionary remarks for the public. On the night of voting reporters on CBS, CNN, and MSNBC advised viewers, in their own words and way, that vote counting could take days in some cases and that was not in any a nefarious or under-handed approach to dealing with voters’ intentions at the polls.  While I understood the need to say such things considering the persistent Big Lie pushed by Donald Trump and a huge segment of the Republican party, it also served as a notice about how much of a gut-punch democracy has suffered from a segment of the electorate.

Treating the public in such an elementary way was noticeable to the folks who gathered at our home to watch the returns and were met with the dismaying comment of “we have come to this in our land”. Feeling a need to tamp down the unhinged elements in our nation was clearly a broad-based assessment in newsrooms, especially following the danger posed to the country on January 6th, 2021.

In the days that followed, I noticed another verbal gold star that got affixed to some top-name Republican candidates who floundered with the voters and needed to concede their races after the voters rendered their judgment.  For simply doing that gracious and time-honored custom of the concession statement or speech they were applauded and patted on the back.  We truly are in an odd time when everyone gets a participation prize and is allowed to wear an honor cord, whether it is meritorious, or not. That is how we are constructing our society these days. Needing to praise a loser on Election Night for not being churlish does seem a step too far.

I noted how the Washington Post wrote of the matter of concession speeches in an analysis article. They noted the damage not making one can play in our democracy.

That’s a key reason concessions matter. They help democracy move forward. A study of the 2020 electorate found that a strong majority of voters who cast ballots for Donald Trump would have accepted the result as legitimate had Trump conceded.

I noted that it was Democratic candidate Tim Ryan when conceding to Republican J.D. Vance in Ohio who even stated it was a ”privilege to concede”. Ryan said that to do anything other than taking that route would be a slap to democracy. The fact we have been lowered in this nation to the place that an explanation, though brief and to the point needs to be said about conceding, is truly a testament to the shaky place we find ourselves in America.

Our elections are not rigged and there are no throngs of illegal votes or rampant fraud.  That can all be demonstrated with the data from every state and polling location. The same people who champion such wild-eyed conspiracies are the ones who also gave us the boorish behavior of not conceding when voters in their calm manner cast a ballot.  Arizona was treated to the third-grade verbal tantrum of Kari Lake who tweeted a curse upon learning she was rejected at the ballot box. As the Washington Post might say hers was not “a grace note” in this election cycle.

Over the years I have been able to see in real-time how a concession is handled, while more often reading or watching such a happening through the media.  But in each case, a concession following a hard-fought campaign shows the mettle of a person perhaps better than any other facet of seeking office.

I found it troubling a few years ago when then Wisconsin State Assemblyman Adam Jarchow was reported to have tweeted his concession to the victorious Patty Schachtner following the special state senate election. I grasp the fact that everything these days is seemingly done on the gadgets people carry around like aged smokers with their oxygen tanks.  But when it comes to concessions there is a need to be personal and more connected.  Surely the phone number for the opposing campaign was available.  Call me old-fashioned but just pick up the phone and place the call!

The morning following the 1988 election victory of State Representative Lary Swboda the phone rang in his Kewaunee County home.  I had worked in the district often that fall on the campaign and as I stood in the kitchen as Lary answered the call I was privy to one of the gracious acts of politics.  Bob Papke, then Door County Clerk, had run, up to that time, the most expensive race for the state assembly.  He had been condescending and rather mean-spirited during the months leading to Election Day.  But on the phone, as Papke spoke to Lary there was a gentlemanly quality to the conversation and though the two would never be friends, an air of good sportsmanship was most apparent.

That is how election outcomes once were handled. May it totally revert to that fashion again.

Election Day Tradition In The Oven: Country Jam Cake

There is an Election Day tradition at our home, other than voting of course, and that is making Grandma’s Country Jam Cake.

Monday afternoon I proved my capabilities in the kitchen as I measured and mixed and upon noticing I had no buttermilk…..which is the only time I yelled “James”….OK, the second time as the first was not being able to locate measuring spoons. James wings cooking with no such devices, but I am old school.

He made buttermilk the way Grandma might have done had she needed some, too. Or she would have thoroughly read the recipe beforehand!! Details, details.

The cake started to be our traditional election dessert in 2004, and it has never failed to bring smiles, even if the returns are grim. Now the cake is in the oven and I can still hear Mom tell me to go outside and do my jumping around so the cake will not ‘fall’. Aw, yes, traditions never grow old.