Kyle Rittenhouse’s Rifle Buyer Arrested For Fleeing Police, Cocaine In System

The last time we left the story of Dominick Black he had pleaded no contest to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, that being Kyle Rittenhouse, who liked to dress up in a full replica police uniform as a teenager. I have often wondered if he thought that was the most effective way to entice a teenage girl for a date?

Rittenhouse would use the AR-15-style rifle he was given by Black to kill two men on the streets of Kenosha. Black agreed to a non-criminal citation in order to avoid convictions on two felonies he had been facing.

The two counts were the result of delivering a dangerous weapon to a minor which then was used to slaughter Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber.

Letting Black off easy was correctly met with derision across the nation, with many at the time commenting it was only a matter of time before he would headline again. When the justice system is easy on thugs who show disdain for law and order with gun laws we know there is a very high chance society and taxpayers will again need to pay for court time and housing.

That is because firearms offenders recidivated at a higher rate than non-firearms offenders. Over two-thirds (68.1%) of firearms offenders were rearrested for a new crime during the eight-year follow-up period compared to less than half of non-firearms offenders (46.3%).

Well, today, less than six months later, Black is back!

Though Black’s crime this time is not gun-related, his actions show a complete disregard for the orders from a police officer, and the cavalier attitude that the law does not seemingly apply to him regarding either the rules of the road or the use of illegal substances.

Dominick D. Black, 20, was charged in Kenosha County Circuit Court for fleeing a police officer this past weekend. The mayhem took place in downtown Kenosha.

A Kenosha Police Department officer observed a grey motorcycle with no registration displayed going northbound on Sixth Avenue from 52nd Street around 7 p.m. Friday, according to the criminal complaint.

The officer reportedly pulled behind the motorcycle and traveled behind it for a short time. The driver reportedly traveled northbound on Sixth Avenue from 52nd Street, then west on 50th Street from Seventh Avenue.

The driver then reportedly stopped at a red traffic light at 50th Street on Sheridan Road for an “extended period of time,” according to the complaint. The officer reported the driver also “repeatedly looked in his mirrors to see if I was still behind him after each turn or change of direction.”

While stopped at the light, the officer reportedly notified dispatch he was going to initiate a traffic stop of the driver. The driver then reportedly turned right and northbound on Sheridan Road and began accelerating above the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. The officer activated his emergency lights and siren while directly behind the driver in the 4900 block of Sheridan Road.

“Once I activated lights and siren, I observed the driver look in his mirror at my squad, slow briefly for a moment, before continuing at approximately 45 mph in the posted 30 mph zone for approximately one block (4900blk to 4800blk),” the officer reported in the criminal complaint. “The driver, after looking in his mirror, shook his head from side to side, as if he was shaking his head ‘no’ before rapidly accelerating away from my squad.”

The driver then accelerated at a high rate of speed, briefly, until the the driver had to slow due to other northbound traffic on Sheridan Road. The driver also reportedly illegally passed vehicles while fleeing from the officer and rode in the middle of both northbound traffic lanes, passing vehicles on both sides and almost striking the vehicles while trying to drive between the heavy traffic to get away from the officer, according to the complaint.

Once the driver illegally passed the other northbound traffic, the driver allegedly accelerated at a high rate of speed away from the officer, who estimated it to be in excess of 80 mph in a posted 30 mph zone.

Due to the heavy traffic and endangerment of the vehicle and pedestrian traffic, the officer deactivated his lights and siren and slowed down. The officer reportedly observed the motorcycle northbound on Sheridan Road from 35th Street. However, as the motorcycle approached the intersection at Seventh Avenue, the officer lost sight of it, and he began searching the area.

About 15 minutes later, another Kenosha Police officer reportedly located the motorcycle and operator at Simmons Island, 5001 Simmons Island Drive. The driver of the motorcycle was identified as Black, who was wearing the same clothing an officer observed the motorcycle driver wearing earlier that evening.

Black was arrested and placed in a squad car. Dispatch advised that Black’s driving privileges were suspended, and Black stated the motorcycle was not registered to him at the time, according to the complaint. Black also reportedly didn’t have insurance.

While an officer was gathering information, Black reportedly began “appearing to move around more than usual” in the squad car. Black reportedly stated he was getting too hot and needed air. Black then reportedly began shaking in the back of the squad and appeared to have gone in and out of consciousness.

Black was transported to an area hospital and had blood work done. Hospital staff reported that Black had a traceable amount of cocaine in his blood, but not enough to cause impairment. Hospital staff advised Black’s symptoms appeared to be consistent with an anxiety attack or panic attack, according to the complaint.

If Black can only get the same judge that Rittenhouse had he should be in great shape!

And so it goes.

Laws And Decency Matter, Even When Headlines Make For Anger

I was quite taken aback when the promotion for a local television newscast this weekend stated an attack had occurred at an anti-choice office in Madison.

I was also troubled when it was reported recently that a person was arrested outside a county courtroom after making threats to the district attorney.

Early on Sunday someone vandalized and threw two Molotov cocktails into the office of Wisconsin Family Action, located on Madison’s Northeast side. The office suffered fire damage, though it was reported the lobbed ‘cocktails’ did not explode.

Meanwhile, Kenyairra Gadson was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a judge stood firm to the law and measured the shooting and killing of Donivan Lemons with the need for society to have such behavior penalized. It was after that decision Jessica Williams, a victim’s advocate and organizer to not have Gadson serve a prison term, made the threat to Dane County District Attorney Ismael.

Like millions of others nationwide, I am roiled and deeply concerned over the draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito as it strives to undo precedent, and alter the relationship privacy has under the decisions of the Court. We know that marriage equality in this nation is the next shot to be fired by conservatives. Such dangerous moves by the conservative element on the Court about Roe v. Wade will have long-lasting and detrimental outcomes on our society.

But knowing that I would never learn how to construct a Molotov cocktail or set my alarm clock to get me to an office that lobbies against abortion at an early hour to so to blow it up. If my arguments were so weak that it took violence for me to demonstrate them I would take up a new cause that centered on using crayons.

Whoever was responsible for the damage of property Sunday will be apprehended, that I have no doubt, and justice will be attained through the legal process. But the larger damage to how we interact with others, even when tensions are extremely high, is not something that will soon be healed.

We do lose something intangible in a democracy when violence replaces spirited dialogue and reasoned debate.

Freedom, Inc. and other advocates were seeking their version of justice regarding Gadson and had every allowance to assemble and speak freely in the weeks leading up to sentencing. They had demanded Dane County Circuit Court Judge Chris Taylor only sentence Gadson to the time she already served over the course of the case.

But when that vocal dissent against the norms of the justice system turned into a person threatening harassment and intimidation an arrest was correctly made.

Part of the larger problem in society is not that we exist in a highly politically polarized nation, but that the skills of too large a section of the nation are severely limited in debating and being able to effectively communicate. It seems to some that tossing a ‘cocktail’ is easier than reaching countless readers via a Letter to The Editor in the local newspaper. It seems that protesting at the private homes of people serving in government is smarter than pouring their energy into the upcoming mid-term elections.

Politics is often filled with raw emotion but it is the reasoned and logical presentation of issues that moves discussions and makes for the movement in the arc of history. The anger that turns to violence is recalled by history as shameful occurrences, not worthy of anything but scorn.

As we move forward in this frothy time of national angst do we wish to be recalled as a mover of historical events akin to the civil rights advocates of the 1960s, or to Bull Conner and his angry pack of dogs?

We all have a choice.

And so it goes.

Conservatives May Get Roe Reversal, But Public Is Mighty Angry At GOP

I have been closely following the huge waves resulting from the explosive news of the leaked Supreme Court draft regarding an attempt to destroy Roe v. Wade. Each day, there is a raft of truly well-thought-out articles and analyses about the story first reported in Politico. Such information about a legal matter that was settled law for 50 years regarding women being in control of their own reproductive health care had to be reported. Once the information was made known to a reporter(s) and able to be authenticated by the news operation there was a professional duty to report such a powerful development to the nation.

As I make my way through the news reports what most intrigues me is the larger questions at play. First, is the matter of additional strain on our democracy that this highly-combustible and seemingly open-ended eruption will have on a nation that is already so fraught with division and open rancor.

Second, is the way the Supreme Court, and perhaps the justice system as a whole will be viewed as a corrupt bargain struck by powerful conservative players in partisan positions.

The third reason I am pressed closely to this news is how the ramifications of undermining privacy within the framework of Roe will potentially impact the strides this nation has made with gay rights. To pretend that Justice Alito is any more sincere about not undermining my marriage than he is about the precedent with women’s health rights would be laughable if not so damn serious.

What we do know is the calculations of a political and legal strategy conservatives have schemed over and blatantly exercised has likely born fruit with the undermining of Roe. Where this mindset moves next is the issue that has generated much coverage since Monday.

Roxane Gay wrote a strongly worded Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times.

I do not know where this retraction of civil rights will end, but I do know it will go down as a milestone in a decades-long conservative campaign to force a country of 330 million people to abide by a bigoted set of ideologies. This movement seeks to rule by hollow theocracy, despite our constitutional separation of church and state. The people behind this campaign do not represent the majority of this country, and they know it, so they consistently try to undermine the democratic process. They attack voting rights, gerrymander voting districts and shove unpopular legislation through so that they can live in a world of their choosing and hoard as much power and wealth as possible.

Conservative columnist S. E. Cupp wrote a perfectly toned article about the ramifications for the court and the nation this week.

Whatever you think of the leak, and however you come down on abortion, this news is deeply troubling and has vast implications, not just for women but all American voters. And it’s just another in a long line of chilling consequences from one election in 2016, an election that in so many unforgivable and irreparable ways, shredded the democratic institutions that hold this country up.

Make no mistake about her final paragraph in the column.

The Republican partisan strike on the Supreme Court in 2016 was nothing less than the weaponizing of the judiciary. To have ‘conservatives’ pretend they still have any true claim to that word is bizarre. When Senate Majority Leader McConnell, in the face of an open seat on the Court, stated that “people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme court justice” conservative principles of governing were discarded and replaced by raw power.

For those who are true conservatives, the actions of their Republican senators in 2016, must have been painful as stated principles gave way to partisan moves. To not have a hearing on a nominee named in March of 2016 and then wait for almost a year for a new justice to be seated–after an election season had passed–is just what it looks like.

A partisan power play of the most damaging kind to the nation.

During a recent 28-year period in this nation–or to put that into the lingo of politicos–seven presidential election cycles–Republican presidential candidates had won the popular vote only once. Yet those white men appointed six of the nine justices. Then the GOP senate majority cast their votes for conservative nominees against a vastly changing nation demographically, socially, and culturally.

The nation is now royally ticked off.

The folly and pure hubris of conservatives taking reckless actions with our democracy are now coming home to roost. Beware what one seeks, the old saying goes, as you may actually get it.

And so it goes.

Why Journalism And Anonymous Sources Matter, Supreme Court’s Draft On Roe V. Wade Makes Point

We are told by some partisans that news sources are to be distrusted, reporters are not integral to democracy, and that there are even ‘alternative facts’.

Late Monday evening, all those lines fell faster than Russians on the Ukraine battlefield.

It was reported by Politico the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.

The ramifications of this story are enormous. Not only for health care rights for women, but also for privacy being understood, for decades, as an unenumerated right. Privacy has been a foundation for several large court decisions from the right to use contraception, to engage in private consensual sexual activity, and to marry someone of the same sex.

Make no mistake about how the legal weight of this abortion ruling could move the court going forward.

While all these issues and many more will be debated at length starting with Tuesday morning coffee in homes around the nation, I wish to give credit to the journalism profession, and specifically two reporters.

Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward.

We all should be proud of how they did their job with this story.

It needs to be noted that these journalists not only reported the story but also gave the full rounded coverage by writing that “it’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft” since February. They were not aiming for going beyond the fact the draft is a product from February.

They also fully grasped the gravity of the story surely being one of the newsroom’s biggest scoops and surely the biggest headline of their lives. They wrote that “No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.”

The news about the court draft was able to be reported by the reporters due to the role of an anonymous source. It is these sources who are vital to a fuller understanding of what our government does and journalists are doing their job by then reporting on the information once it is firmly understood to have validity.

I understand that most people are not sitting around their living rooms contemplating anonymous sources. I can imagine how conservative media will be apoplectic today and feverishly disdainful of this news story, and how it was obtained.

To those who do not understand the role of anonymous sources, I have one name to add to this post.

Mark Felt.

It is absolutely true to say that had Felt not been an anonymous source there very well would not have been a Watergate story as we have come to know. It was “Deep Throat’ who alerted Bob Woodward in those parking garage conversations that presidential abuse was running rampant in the Nixon White House.

The pursuit of news, facts…the truth… is what reporters do. And anonymous sources are very much a way to allow the public to know what their government is doing.

And so it goes.

Madison’s Freedom Inc. Should Not Make Demands Of Judges

Anyone who reads this blog for only a few weeks knows that the proliferation of guns, and the increasing deaths and injuries from these weapons, is a continuing theme. The gun culture has exploded and the price for society is too darn high.

So it comes as no surprise that when a person shoots and kills someone with a gun that was not legal to own I then support the legal process that renders justice. One of the common-sense themes I emphasize is that the laws and statutes that are on the books need to be enforced. That is one way to stem gun crimes.

This brings me to Kenyairra Gadson, a woman who made news earlier this year for the trial regarding her shooting and killing Steven Villegas. She contended in her trial it was a matter of self-defense.

…a jury returned a guilty verdict on January 26, convicting Gadson of first degree reckless homicide and illegal possession of a firearm. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Chris Taylor, a former Democratic state legislator, will determine a sentence on May 6. Gadson faces up to 65 years in prison. 

This story would not make for any more front-page headlines if not for Freedom Inc. and Gadson’s advocates…demanding that Taylor sentence Gadson to the time she has already served over the course of the case.

In other words, allowing for Gadson to be released on May 6th.

I have found it troubling in the past for huge rallies and powerful interest groups to protest at the United States Supreme Court. Putting undue pressure on judges or trying to manipulate the justice system is unseemly and runs counter to the more elevated nature we need and want justice to have in the nation.

And in Dane County.

I still hope for younger generations to take a deep dive into civics and better grasp why certain foundations and fundamentals must exist in our judicial process. Clearly, that is not the case when Freedom Inc demands anything from a judge.

The legal procedures from any arrest to trial have a very precise and process-driven set of steps. I believe those were followed in this case, and the jury verdict following this trial concluded as the evidence demonstrated.

If this jury’s verdict can be so easily dismissed, and a judge flippantly undermines the work of the men and women who took the time to do their jury duties, then what credibility does any jury have in the future? Freedom Inc. and Gadson’s advocates need to understand that the process they scorn now and try to undermine is the same process that will allow them in another case to have their day in court and the protection from the system.

It really is not a difficult argument to comprehend.

As such, there is no rational judge who will toss aside all the evidence and the work of a jury following a trial for the ‘demands’ from the ones who lost in court. No judge will be so disdainful about law and order in society.

Because law and order do matter.

And so it goes.

Speaker Robin Vos Should Not Be Dismissive Of Judge’s Contempt Ruling

I suspect Wisconsinites firmly believe that the ones who make the laws should be the first ones abiding by them. If one asked at any barbershop or diner from Mason to Muskego there would be most certainly strong agreement that our elected officials must not show disdain for the rules of law and order.

If one chatted over coffee and pie with locals I am very sure there would be agreement that a judge’s ruling should be viewed with the respect accorded to people on the bench, and not made into a partisan affair. We can almost hear the voices in this state say if the ones in top positions of government flaunt the laws what message does that send to average citizens about the way we should conduct ourselves in society?

When I pulled the snowy blue plastic bag off Thursday’s Wisconsin State Journal my eyes landed on the troubling front-page story about the contempt charge against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

A Dane County Circuit judge held Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in contempt of court Wednesday for failing to provide requested public documents related to the ongoing GOP-ordered review of the 2020 election.

Approached by a reporter following a pair of town halls in western Racine County Wednesday afternoon, during which Vos repeatedly told listeners that the 2020 election could not be decertified, Vos responded to being found in contempt of court.

“It’s a liberal judge in Dane County trying to make us look bad. I don’t know about you, but when you have deleted emails, how do you get deleted emails back if they’re from Gmail? We already have an expert saying they can’t be done. You have a judge who’s focused on making a name for herself, and that’s all she’s doing,” Vos said.

The news that the assembly speaker shrugged off the contempt charge by ‘a liberal judge’ sounds like what we too often hear in our politics. But if it is possible to step back and ponder the significance of that remark it will demonstrate how far away we are from the core values that need to be embraced.

It is not possible to have a healthy democracy if the public perceives that legal rulings and decisions handed down by judges are based on partisan politics rather than the rule of law. When we have not only elected officials, but top members of government who echo such sentiments, it is truly disturbing.

Simply put, Robin Vos, who is now speaker and clearly has eyes on higher office, should not in any way contribute to the further erosion of trust in the judiciary. There is nothing to be gained–other than cheap short-term partisan politics–by fostering a deeper struggle about the distinction between law and politics.

We have always had an intersection of law and politics–from Justice John Marshall forward. That is how our constitutional balancing act was created. But with increasing volume and in numerous ways the institutional legitimacy of our judges is being questioned. That is absolutely harmful to our democracy. While Vos may think he is in some way upholding the views of some of his constituents with his unfortunate remark, it is far more important that a judge properly uphold the law. That is the lesson we need to heed.

I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with a ruling or seeking to better understand a law that decides a case. But it is never proper or appro­pri­ate to defy a ruling or attempt to undermine a judge with a personal attack, as Vos did with this contempt ruling.

I know this story is just par for the course these days given our politics. But in fact, this is really a sad place we find ourselves. Our democracy needs to have more citizen advocates who hold public officials accountable when they undermine our Constitutional norms and values.

And so it goes.

Ginni Thomas Proves No Limit To Absurdity

Never think things can not be worse. More absurd. More delusional.

They most certainly can be far direr than we can imagine.

Enter Ginni Thomas.

Famed journalist Bob Woodward–a reporter I have admired since my teenage years–along with powerhouse Robert Costa made for lots of late-night reading Thursday. It was after midnight when James started to read me some news coverage from The New Yorker, but I stopped him to ask if this was a parody from Andy Borowitz. He assured me it certainly was not.

Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

Part of me wants to snicker at the best schooled and ‘brightest’ conservative minds in the nation wallowing in the slimy pits of voter conspiracy theories. After all, Ginni and Clarence Thomas willingly walked down a very slanted floor and surely now think it is the rest of us who are naive for not using the hose to slide the rest of the way down the drain with them.

The collision of logic and preposterousness can not be played out in more stark terms than to read the emails of Ginni Thomas. Leave aside, for the moment her lack of regard for the Constitution or laws of the nation.

Consider the fact there is no darker or more sinister aspect to this seemingly Shakespearean tragedy that is the life of Donald Trump, than the news from the past 24 hours. It is irrational to read of Thomas, a person who entered Trump’s orbit and trashed herself for someone who would spit on her should she but deviate one iota against him. Thomas is as expendable as everyone one else in Trump’s infantile world. That she was not able to discern this truth paints her as being addle-minded.

When it comes to craven ambitions and low standards of behavior Ginni Thomas has recorded a new record. Considering I truly felt we had seen and heard just about everything possible when it came to the 2020 election this news story did make me aware there is always a new basement being dug.

We just need time to learn which conservative Republican is holding the shovel.

We should be angry and demand full accountability for this dangerous and unreasonable behavior from Ginni and Clarence Thomas. In the newsrooms, one thing is not in doubt. This story was legs.

Promoting sedition and undermining a presidential election is not probably what Ginni’s parents wished for her as a legacy. But they probably did not imagine she would cozy up to a man who would be accused of a violation of the Code of Conduct while sitting on the Supreme Court, either.

And so it goes.

Ketanji Brown Jackson: America At Its Best

Between a devastating and absurd war in Eastern Europe and bouts of extreme and violent weather in the South, along with reports of an advancing variant of COVID one might think all the news is bad and unsettling. But there is one story this week that continues to be fresh and uplifting as it proves the greatest aspect of our nation.

We have every reason to be buoyed due to the intellect and character of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 22: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies on her nomination to become an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)

I have never sat in a law school class, but if that were to happen I would want the precise and conviction-driven analysis and presentation from the professor to be the same as the nation is now getting from Jackson. She is meeting her moment with history as the Senate Judiciary Committee rolls out days of hearings this week. I would also add, given my ‘radio ear’ for great diction and clarity of speech, she excels on that score, too.

While I very much agree the Supreme Court should look like America, and applaud President Biden for this nomination, I also appreciate the character of a nominee who we just know would also be a nice neighbor. Having quality in our highest appointees in government is essential.

But it is the importance of Jackson becoming the first African-American woman to sit on the Court that is extremely important. Life’s perspectives from a larger swath of the nation, when percolated by a court surely will have a needed impact.

Months after Marshall stepped down, Justice Sandra Day O’Con­nor, who served with the civil rights hero for 10 years, penned a gener­ous essay describ­ing “the special perspect­ive” he brought to the Court. Listen­ing to heart-pound­ing stor­ies from his days of dismant­ling Jim Crow, she recalled sitting at the justices’ confer­ence table with him, “hoping to hear, just once more, another story that would, by and by, perhaps change the way I see the world.” Marshall told his colleagues, as Justice Bryon White reflec­ted, “things that we knew but would rather forget; and he told us much that we did not know due to the limit­a­tions of our own exper­i­ence.”

It is not lost on the nation that committee Republicans are playing to the base with their inane questioning that speaks more to the culture war theatre they live in than the higher ideals of law. (Can you define “woman?) I suggest Jackson could construct the perfect definition of a jackass.

Such Republican tactics are sad, given how many Republicans talked in past nomination hearings to wishing for a higher level of conversation in such proceedings. It is even more telling the partisan road they walk given the broad array of GOP senators who supported Jackson’s confirmation to the federal court bench. Care to wager on how many of these ‘principled’ Senators will vote for Jackson later this month?

Chuck Grassley (Iowa)

Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)

Richard Shelby (Alabama)

Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma)

Susan Collins (Maine)—twice!

Mike Crapo (Idaho)

John Cornyn (Texas)

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)—twice!

Lindsay Graham (South Carolina)—twice!

Richard Burr (North Carolina)

John Thune (South Dakota)

John Barrasso (Wyoming)

Roger Wicker (Mississippi)

Jim Risch (Idaho)

Roy Blunt (Missouri)

Jerry Moran (Kansas)

Rob Portman (Ohio)

John Boozman (Arkansas)

Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) 

John Hoeven (North Dakota)

Marco Rubio (Florida)

Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)

Rand Paul (Kentucky)

Mike Lee (Utah)

Tim Scott (South Carolina)

Ted Cruz (Texas)

Deb Fischer (Nebraska)

History will judge this moment, and write of the hypocrisy of the minority party. But the story will also be told of how the United States once again strived and prevailed with our stated mission to live up to our ideals. We are helping bend the arc of history.

Feel good America. This is when we are at our best.

And so it goes.