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Cultivating Memories

April 21, 2017

Here is the post from my James this morning. Touching and gentle.

              PD_0030  It’s a sunny day out this morning.  The sky is blue and from the sound of the birds in the yard, all is well.  In some ways, I suppose it is; in other ways, not so much.  My sister, Melissa, has called for the third time in as many weeks with news from home.  It hasn’t been good news.  About ten days ago, my grandmother’s brother, Arthur, passed away.  He was 86 and a longtime resident of Ohio; he had spent much of his working career as a truck driver hauling freight.  His wife, Nancy, had called Sherwood, my step-grandfather, to let us know.  Nancy and Sherwood are both 81 themselves.  Today, Melissa called to let me know that shortly after midnight, Grammy Sweet, Arthur’s older sister and my grandmother, had ended her struggle as well.  She had…

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All Eyes On French Election This Weekend

April 21, 2017

There is a most important first-round election taking place this week in France.  And it impacts our world.

There is no doubt that the terrorist attack in Paris this week is reminding the world of the stakes in this weekend’s French election.  The harsh racism of Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front party welcomes the headlines as it plays into her rotting narrative.  Immigrations and thrashing the Islamic faith have been her trademarks.  While Donald Trump isn’t endorsing a candidate there is no doubt where he stand.  Populism run amok was the way he steamed his way into the White House and he would love to see Le Pen do the same in France.  His tweet said as much when he wrote “The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

The French election has also given way to a potential proxy war playing out between Trump and his predecessor, President Obama. While Trump has stopped short of an outright endorsement, Obama weighed in by giving another front-runner candidate Emmanuel Macron a phone call this week.  There is no doubt the final two candidates for the second-round of votes will be Macron and Le Pen.  But will the populist anger and tossing aside of reason and facts spread over that European country as it did here?

One of the reason this matters so much to America and all in the world is the foreign policy of the Trump White House.  I need not write here that the bluster and swagger is not the diplomatic type that makes for a safer world.  Should Le Pen prevail in the second round it would test the world in very profound ways.  It also would place into question the moral failings of those who supported her candidacy–as the vile nature of her views can be no more accepted by the world community than those of Trump.

A final view of the polls show that Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are virtually tied in the polls, with conservative François Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon not far behind.

Let us pray for sanity.

White Trash In The White House

April 20, 2017

Things can not have changed as dramatically as this picture indicates they have. Right?

When did men start to not understand that taking off their hats when entering a building is a proper thing to do?  And what type of upbringing did these men have that they would not even observe that matter of good taste in of all places THE WHITE HOUSE?

When I saw this photo I knew at once White Trash was front and center in the White House.  Simply low brow behavior from the very ones we most expect it of in this nation.   Kid Rock, Sarah Palin, and Ted Nugent have demonstrated in one photo why they are phony patriots but Number One fools.

Honoring President Richard Nixon On 23rd Anniversary Of His Death

April 20, 2017

Saturday, April 22nd marks the day 23 years ago that President Richard Nixon died.   In 1994 Nixon passed away after suffering a stroke four days prior.   To reflect on the man and his times CSPAN 3 is providing programming that will allow the nation to look back and ponder.

Friday, April 21 on C-SPAN 3

Nixon’s Post-White House Years
8 PM ET / 5 PM PT

An ensemble of aides reflects on the President’s years in San Clemente. Featuring Col. Jack Brennan, Frank Gannon and Ken Khachigian. Moderated by Hugh Hewitt. From the February 2017 RN alumni reunion.

Reflections on Richard Nixon by Ben Stein 
9 PM ET / 6 PM PT

Delivered to commemorate RN’s 104th birthday on January 9, 2017.

Opening of the New Nixon Library 
10 PM ET / 7 PM PT

Merit Selection Even More Needed Following High Court Recusal Vote

April 20, 2017

To say the least it was most disappointing to learn the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out a proposal to create formal recusal rules for judges and justices in the state.  It was almost as if the justices were somehow so insulated they could not hear or feel the mood among a growing segment of the populace who thinks that justice often hangs on the purse strings of those who help out at election time.  And that is a most concerning problem.  The petition would have applied to all elected judges in the state who serve in municipal court, circuit court, the Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court.

Thursday the court voted 5-2 to dismiss a petition request to create specific rules for when a judge or justice should be removed from a case because they received campaign donations from a group or individual with a case before the court.  The only justices able to see the reason and logic for such a policy were Shirley Abrahamson Ann Walsh Bradley.

What concerns many is how this matter somehow winds up being fought about on ideological lines.  That should alert all to the dangers of where our state supreme court is heading.  Some would argue, and do so convincingly, that our court has alrady succumbed to pure partisan splits.   The court’s conservative-leaning majority cast the petition out and the liberal-leaning justices voted to advance the idea.    How such an idea of making sure fairness is not in question for cases being heard before the high court can then be turned into a partisan affair leaves many civic-minded citizens shaking their heads.

And for good reason.

Citizens deserve a Supreme Court that can be viewed as a fair arbiter on the big judicial questions that face the state.  I take no glee in stating this vote undermines the court’s credibility and severely erodes its luster.  Some might even term the outcome as pure political shenanigans.

I  find it sad  that at a time when public approval of our government and public institutions are shrinking the conservatives on the court would not see the wisdom of making sure their actions are absolutely above reproach.  We all come up as losers when this does not happen.

The foundation of the problems that were showcased by the court vote could all be removed and settled if the court justices were not elected. Why should our state continually need to endure rancorous and expensive elections for the court when there is a better way to proceed for the selection of justices?  Why should the citizens have to watch as candidates for the bench raise huge amounts of money from special interest sources, in a hope to manipulate the voters with never-ending TV commercials that in no way illuminate whether they have the necessary skills or ethics to serve the public, or the letter of the law?  Why should the citizenry need to ask themselves if special interests are buying judges and rulings?

There is, after all, another way to fill places on the high bench.  Merit selection is a workable and seasoned process which would allow for a more intelligent and honorable way to select a judge.

One way this could be accomplished is with a nonpartisan group making recommendations for the court.  Then either the governor or legislature might make the final selection.  After a set number of years the voters could then vote yes or no on retaining that person for another term.

What appeals to me so very much is the idea that the first step in the process would ensure that only highly qualified and thoughtful names would be advanced.  The ones with low ethical standards that do not mesh with our ideals, or those without intelligence that reflects our needs would be weeded out.  Pure partisan hacks would be eliminated at the very front end of the process.

The reason I want a change in the process is to stem the decline in the respect the court is experiencing.  One of the reasons for the current public attitude about the court is the manner in which elections are held.   We must be concerned about elevating the stature of the judiciary, and merit selection would do that very thing.

I can see in our current political climate how some will say my idea is elitist.  To them I only ask for a proper consideration if the way we elect a member to congress is a good model for the way to elect a member to the supreme court?   Does a slick series of ads from faceless contributors with deep pockets mean the judicial candidate has the necessary skills or ethics to well serve the public, or the letter of the law?

Following this court action merit selection is needed now more than ever in Wisconsin.

Madison City Council Flounders

April 19, 2017

Roughly 18 months ago some citizens from Madison’s 6th aldermanic district were talking among themselves about forming a small group that would sit down with Marsha Rummel to ask that she not seek re-election to the Madison City Council.  The voices talking about such an idea were from the private sector and all concerned citizens alike.  The reason for the dismay with her service revolved around her unpreparedness, her lack of taking a stand on any issue until the 11th hour, and the way those actions reflected on this district.   In the end no final move was made.  Rummel ran unopposed for election this year–which was more a sign of the long hours and low pay for the job that no one else wanted–than a sign of regard or faith in her work.  While one can and should applaud anyone–including Rummel–for seeking public office voters are correct in demanding competence.

This week, in a sign of how adrift from sensibilities the council as a whole happens to be, they elected Rummel as their president.  It was quite stunning for them to admit that Rummel was the best of the lot.

While politics in our modern era is one where optics matter there was perhaps no worse choice for the position.  There is no way that anyone who follows local affairs can listen or watch Runmel and walk away convinced that she is the most capable at leading the council over the next two years.  She does not give taxpayers or homeowners a sense of conviction they are being represented to the fullest means possible.

Last night, during the first meeting which Rummel served in her new positon, the council demonstrated that coming unprepared to do business seemingly is now in vogue.  They kicked the can down the road when it came to casting a vote on the legal fees due to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

The background on this matter is known to residents.  The Madison Police and Fire Commission found Koval had engaged in misconduct when he made a comment to a citizen during a most contentious council meeting.  The commission did not discipline him for the comment. Koval had admitted his comment was inappropriate and apologized for it.

To defend himself legally before the commission the bills climbed to $22,000.  City policy calls for those bills to be paid if one prevails.   To not pay the bills now would only allow for those whose mission is to undermine Koval to needlessly continue.

But many council members were unsure how to interpret the commission’s ruling. The council is asking the commission to clarify its findings, including whether the commission considers Koval as having prevailed against the complaint. The council is asking for a response.

But why did not all those eager champions of getting the finer points do their research prior to last night’s meeting?  Why not reach out and use their time wisely before the meeting so that once seated in their chamber the work could be done?

That tactic of the council, however, is par for the course.  The council loves to delay and wind up doing what was required in 2-4 weeks.  One would hope for changes in how effective the council might be.  But given who they chose as their president there is no chance of that happening any time soon.

And so it goes.

Bill O’Reilly About To Be Unplugged–FOX NEWS To Make Sex Predator Jobless

April 19, 2017

 

UPDATE–IT IS OFFICIAL–Bill O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel! Thanks to The New York Times for their reporting several weeks ago on the top half of the front page the millions paid due to the sexual predatory ways of O’Reilly.  That reporting then led advertisers to flee the show.  After that the writing was on the wall about the ending.

Before we get too carried away with joy it needs to be stated this action should have taken place years ago.

Fox News is preparing to cut ties with its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, according to people close to the situation. A final decision on O’Reilly’s fate could come as early as the next several days.  As we all know sexual predator O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor, has been ensnared in sexual-harassment scandals.  Fox News has paid millions to women who worked on or appeared on his program.

Fox News has stopped even responding to questions about whether O’Reilly will return to his show. A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O’Reilly have begun talking about an exit.   In fact, Fox News Channel has stopped assuring that O’Reilly will be returning to its air.

All this gains steam as O’Reilly continues a vacation away from the network, lawyers hired by 21st Century Fox are looking into an accusation of sexual harassment made against O’Reilly by former O’Reilly Factor contributor Wendy Walsh.

Yesterday another woman told Fox News her story of harassment at the hands of O’Reilly, according to attorney Lisa Bloom. O’Reilly used to leer at an African-American Fox News clerical worker and called her “hot chocolate”.

O’Reilly needs to be jettisoned like blue ice from a plane.

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