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Carson Peters Back On Caffeinated Politics

May 14, 2016

This is the third post featuring the fiddling power of Carson Peters.  There is a genuine quality that is so forthcoming with this talented performer.  At age 11, Fiddlin’ Carson, wows his audience from September 2015 at the Grand Ole Opry with a selection he composed.   Turn up the volume!


Lorrie Wagner–Mother Of Jakob Wagner–Needs To Share Legal Responsibility For Antigo School Prom Shooting

May 13, 2016

Not for the first time does this blog hold to the idea that parents of young people who use guns to shoot, kill, and create violence also need to be held accountable.

After reading the words of Lorrie Wagner about her son, Jakob, and her decision to allow a clearly troubled child to obtain a semi-automatic weapon underscores why there needs to be some legal remedy for the absurd actions such as hers.

It is simply galling to know she was aware of the path her child was walking, and also know there is no way to miss the countless headlines about other such cases around the nation and then turn a seemingly blind eye to the situation that was playing out in her home.

To say I am stunned at reading this story misses by a mile my reaction.  There is no way that any sane person can say parental actions such as this one below should not be addressed by a law that makes sure there is responsibility shared by those who help to foster the violent outcomes.

His childhood struggle with mental illness and diagnosis of depression. The taunting and bullying that her son suffered starting when he was in grade school, where peers made fun of his lisp, his hygiene and his modest upbringing. The absence of a father in his life. His fascination with guns. The occasional outburst of inexplicable rage.

And perhaps most troubling, his emotional breakup with a girlfriend a month before prom, combined with his mother’s decision two weeks before the dance to allow him to buy a semi-automatic assault-style rifle at a gun show. It was the gun he would take to prom and use to shoot two students, his mother said. According to police, he aimed it at two officers who rushed to the sounds of gunfire.

A police officer shot Jakob Wagner three times in what Lorrie Wagner now believes was an elaborate suicide plot by her son.


President Obama’s Second Chance To Strike Syria For Use Of Chemical Weapons

May 13, 2016

Over the past seven years the one issue I most disagreed with President Obama about was his failure at dealing a blow to Syrian President Assad for his use of chemical weapons.   Obama first made a correct assessment that this matter constituted a red line in international affairs and with international law.

International law is clear about the seriousness with which the use of chemical weapons should be viewed.  Using chemical arms is considered a war crime and banned under international treaties, including the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Geneva Protocol and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Even though  I felt Obama had a sincere desire to show the world that this matter could not be left unaddressed I also fault him for seeking some type of congressional consensus instead of just acting given the facts he had obtained.    The lack of spine and resolve from both sides of the political aisle to back a military strike of significant proportions was simply appalling to witness.  Furthermore, I do believe that Russian President Putin read into Obama’s lack of resolve a weakness that he then used to further his own goals in Ukraine.

I grant there was a great deal of emotion about this matter as evidenced on my Facebook page.

One of ‘friends’ at the time offered the most vile commentary laced with cuss words.  He was so out of bounds I let him go from my list.  He was the husband of the executor who dealt with James and myself for the home we inherited.   Over the years I had a lot of political conversations with the older man but something about my taking a determined stand over chemical weapons sent him over the edge.

I wonder what he now thinks as the news over the past days proves what happens when we allow international thugs to go unpunished.    Once again there are many reports of Assad, in defiance of the agreement made with Russia and the U.S., using these wretched weapons.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, apparently relying on a government source, reported May 2 that Assad’s forces used sarin gas last month against Islamic State fighters after they attacked two Syrian air force bases east of Damascus. Stockpiles of this deadly gas were supposed to have been removed from Syria in 2014.

Given the international silence, Israeli officials are said to fear that Assad will keep striking with the banned weapons. “With the continuation of fighting in Syria, it is reasonable to assume that the regime won’t hesitate to use these weapons again, especially after already having done so . . . without any reaction,” an Israeli source told me.

The alleged use of sarin is another sign that Assad appears ready to breach any diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the war. In recent weeks, his forces, backed by Russia, have struck a pediatric hospital in Aleppo run by Doctors Without Borders and a U.S.-backed humanitarian group in Idlib called Syria Civil Defense. 

Chemical weapons have become part of “the new normal” in Syria, according to a report in February by the Syrian American Medical Society. The group said that in 2015, there were 69 chemical weapons attacks in Syria, mostly chlorine bombs dropped by Assad’s air force.

In August 2013 I wrote the following.  I repeat the words today–and now they have even more weight given what is being reported from Syria.

It is not easy being president under the best of circumstances.  There are always partisan attacks and roadblocks along the way.  (We) must demonstrate to future generations what resolve and determination in pursuit of international justice looks like.

Make no mistake that justice is required with this matter of Syria using chemical weapons.  Assad crossed a line that can not be tolerated.  If some around the world show lack of will to push back against his use of chemical weapons then let it be the United States to again prove that we can carry the burden and meet the requirements demanded by history.

Gun Violence In Madison Underscores Too Many Guns In Society

May 12, 2016

For the third time in the same number of weeks another murder has been committed in Madison with the use of a handgun  Once again the emotional response to a squabble between people was to point a loaded gun at someone else and fire until there is a death.

While all three of the victims are–according to police–connected in some fashion there is a great deal of concern from the average citizen who very well could have been at the scene of any of these senseless acts of violence with a gun.

The third homicide since April 19 happened Wednesday night at a gas station on Rimrock Road in the Town of Madison, when a man was shot and he died later on at UW Hospital.

On Tuesday night, a man identified by his family as Darius Haynes, 38, was shot and killed while inside his car at a BP gas station on Verona Road.

On April 19, Martez Moore was shot and killed outside O’Grady’s Pub on Madison’s Far West Side.

Not only were these gun shootings all conducted in a very public setting but two of the three took place during the daylight hours.  The brazen nature of these shootings is unsettling, even if the ones involved were only targeting each other.  The fact remains that innocent bystanders could very well have been impacted.

In a real sense this whole city are bystanders as we seem too reticent to call out for stronger and much needed gun control legislation.  Why should anyone have such ease to get a weapon, buy ammo, carry it, and think they can lash out with violence even in the light of day?

We need to get serious about gun control and continually press our elected representatives to do the will of the people instead of carrying water for the National Rifle Association.

The element that did the killings will get caught and sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives.  The question for the rest of us is what do we plan to do to help make gun violence less a problem in our society?

There are too many guns in our society.  That is abundantly clear.   Now what is required are too many people making calls to members of congress to make it impossible not to be noticed about our desire for tough gun control legislation.

Hillary Clinton To Win In Possible Blowout Election

May 12, 2016

For those who look at the demographics along with state-by-state voting trends there is only one conclusion to be reached.  Stuart Rothenberg has done the research and states most matter of fact that talk of a competitive presidential race “is utter baloney.”

Yes, it’s still six months to November and Trump has an opportunity to change the trajectory of the race, either by demonizing Hillary Clinton, improving his own reputation, or bringing in a flood of new voters.

Given the makeup of the likely electorate, state voting patterns, the images of the candidates, the deeply fractured GOP and the early survey data, Clinton starts off with a decisive advantage in the contest. A blowout is possible.

Just How Bad Are The Schools In The Mountain State?

May 11, 2016

This is a special kind of stupid when it comes to Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

Exit polls Tuesday in West Virginia show that 39 percent of Sanders voters said they would vote for Donald Trump over Sanders in the fall if the two were in a head to head match up.   For Hillary Clinton, nine percent of her voters say they plan to come out for Trump in the general election.

After reading the polls results why do I think family trees in West Virginia are probably more like a wreath?

Donald Trump’s Indefensible Idea On National Debt

May 11, 2016

One of those powerful reads from Justia that always informs as it sparkles with punchy writing.  I post much of what was written–but not all–as this is just perfectly thought out.

The most egregious example of Trump’s detachment from reality—with plenty of competition, of course—was his claim two days after locking down the Republican nomination that he would reduce the federal government’s debt simply by repudiating it.

Although Trump did not use the word “repudiation,” there was no doubt what he meant. As one news report described Trump’s bombshell: “Asked on Thursday whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, ‘I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.’”

The response to Trump’s irresponsible comments has been appropriately harsh. Even the reporter who wrote the straight news report that I linked above, who tried mightily not to put an editorial gloss on the story, could not help reporting the many ways in which Trump’s idea was indefensible.

The deeper problem, however, is that Trump has far too much competition when it comes to speaking nonsense about the national debt. Amazingly, all of that competition is coming from people (mostly in the Republican Party, but some Democrats as well) who think themselves quite wise when it comes to discussions of government borrowing.

On the issue of the federal government’s debt, it is actually quite easy to figure out what the safe position is: Denounce debt, and talk about how government borrowing will ruin us all!

Again, Trump has evidently not thought beyond that talking point, but then again, neither have any of his former opponents (and current intra-party antagonists). Nearly every Republican, from Rand Paul to Paul Ryan to John Kasich to Mitch McConnell, repeats over and over that the federal debt is $19 trillion, without admitting that “gross debt” is meaningless and without putting the level of debt in the context of the overall economy or explaining the disastrous consequences of trying to reduce the debt.

In a Verdict column last October, I described an appearance by Donald Trump on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in which Trump tried to sound serious. And what could be a more serious topic than the national debt? The problem is that Trump simply announced that someone had told him (“they say”) that there is a “magic number” of $23 or $24 trillion, and if the U.S. debt rises beyond that level, “we become a large-scale version of Greece, and that’s not good.”

The level of ignorance here is beyond belief. Again, however, how is this really different from supposedly serious Republicans? For example, now-failed presidential candidate John Kasich’s entire economic plan revolved around adopting a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, without ever explaining why that would be a good policy—or, more importantly, how we should actually change our fiscal policies to live within the Constitution after it was amended. (“Reduce and control spending of the Washington bureaucracy,” which was Kasich’s big idea on his website, is positively Trumpian in its superficiality.)


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