Wisconsin Abortion Fight Moves To Federal Courthouse July 17th


UPDATE…Good news to report tonight….A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a new Wisconsin law that bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.  U.S. District Judge William Conley granted the hold Monday evening after a hearing earlier in the day. The restraining order will remain in place pending a fuller hearing July 17.


Wisconsin is moving backwards at such a fast clip on a whole array of issues that it is hard to keep track of the truly bizarre, and unconstitutional measures that Republicans are trying to work into law.  The latest conservative attack on women, however, is facing a strong pushback from the public.

Governor Walker signed into  law a requirement doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of where a procedure is done and mandates ultrasounds for all women before they can get an abortion.  There is just no way under the stars that these poorly thought out ideas do not violate the constitution’s guarantee of due process.

Therefore two powerful groups have filed a lawsuit to stop the law from being enforced.  Conservative male Republicans may not stand up for women’s rights on the floor of the state legislature but Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and the American Civil Liberties Union will not be shy about defending women in federal court.  We can all be proud of their effort and zeal to undo this absolutely insane attack on women’s productive rights.

Why this matters, in part, is due to the fact two of the four clinics in the state that provide abortions have said that they would have to shut down because of the law, leaving Wisconsin’s women with dramatically reduced options for essential reproductive care, particularly in the large rural part of the state.

The stage is therefore set for July 17th when U.S. District Judge William Conley will hear arguments in the lawsuit.

Trivia: Last Words Of The Presidents

This is, simply put, most interesting.



2. JOHN ADAMS “Thomas Jefferson survives.” What Adams didn’t know was that Jefferson had actually passed away several hours earlier.

3. THOMAS JEFFERSON His last recorded words are “No, doctor, nothing more,” but the three people present at the time of his death all noted that he either stated or asked about the date shortly before his death. The date: July 4th, of course. History likes to remember him as closing out his time on Earth with this fitting speech: “Is it the Fourth? I resign my spirit to God, my daughter, and my country.”

4. JAMES MADISON “Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear.” It was his response when one of his nieces asked him “What is the matter?”

5. JAMES MONROE “I regret that I should leave this world without again beholding him” — “him” being James Madison, one of his best friends.

6. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS “This is the last of Earth. I am content.” JQA actually had a stroke on the floor of the House of Representatives and died in the Speaker’s Room in the Capitol Building.

7. ANDREW JACKSON “I hope to meet each of you in heaven. Be good, children, all of you, and strive to be ready when the change comes.”

8. MARTIN VAN BUREN “There is but one reliance.”

9. WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON Spoken to Veep John Tyler: “I understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

10. JOHN TYLER “Perhaps it is best.”

11. JAMES K. POLK “I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.” Sarah, as you might have already assumed, was his wife. Sarah lived for another 42 years.

12. ZACHARY TAYLOR “I regret nothing, but I am sorry to leave my friends.”

13. MILLARD FILLMORE “The nourishment is palatable.” He was commenting about some soup he had just been fed.

14. FRANKLIN PIERCE No last words seem to have been recorded for Pierce, though given his tragic life, perhaps they were words of relief that it was finally ending. In lieu of Franklin Pierce, I give you Ben Franklin’s final words: “A dying man can do nothing easy,” he said, after his daughter asked him to change positions in bed.

15. JAMES BUCHANAN “Oh, Lord God Almighty, as thou wilt!”

16. ABRAHAM LINCOLN “She won’t think anything about it.” His remark was to his wife, who was wondering what their female theater companion would think if she saw Mary Todd “hanging” on her husband so.

17. ANDREW JOHNSON “Oh, do not cry. Be good children and we shall meet in heaven.” Rather similar to Andrew Jackson’s last words, aren’t they?

18. ULYSSES S. GRANT “Water.” Grant was suffering from throat cancer and couldn’t speak much, but he did write something more poignant shortly before his death: “There was never one more willing to go than I am.”

19. RUTHERFORD B. HAYES “I know I am going where Lucy is.” His wife, teetotaling “Lemonade” Lucy, had died four years before.

20. JAMES GARFIELD “Swaim, can’t you stop the pain?” Garfield, who had been shot by an assassin months before, was napping in his room in the company of good friends General David Swaim and Colonel A.F. Rockwell. About 15 minutes into his nap, he awoke, clutching his heart, and spoke his final words to Swaim.

21. CHESTER A. ARTHUR They’re apparently not recorded, a friend said “almost” his last words were, “Life is not worth living.”

22. GROVER CLEVELAND “I have tried so hard to do right.”

23. BENJAMIN HARRISON “Are the doctors here? Doctor, my lungs…” Harrison died of pneumonia.

24. WILLIAM MCKINLEY “Goodbye, all, goodbye. It is God’s way. His will be done.”

25. TEDDY ROOSEVELT “Put out the light.” He was speaking to his valet right before he went to sleep. He died sometime during the night.

26. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT His words were not recorded for posterity.

27. WOODROW WILSON “When the machinery is broken… I am ready.”

28. WARREN G. HARDING “That’s good. Go on, read some more.” His wife had been reading him an article about himself from the Saturday Evening Post.

29. CALVIN COOLIDGE “Good morning, Robert.” He greeted a carpenter working on his house, then died of coronary thrombosis shortly thereafter. What he told a friend not long before his death is perhaps more fitting: “I feel I no longer fit in with these times.”

30. HERBERT HOOVER We don’t know the last words he spoke, but the last words he is known to have written were a get well message to Harry Truman, who hit his head on the bathtub after slipping in his bathroom. In a telegram, Hoover wrote, “Bathtubs are a menace to ex-presidents for as you may recall a bathtub rose up and fractured my vertebrae when I was in Venezuela on your world famine mission in 1946. My warmest sympathy and best wishes for your speedy recovery.”

31. FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT “I have a terrific headache.” He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage a few minutes later.

32. HARRY TRUMAN Truman’s words are unknown, but his vice president’s last words were actually caught on tape. Veep Alben W. Barkley was giving a keynote address and had just said the words, “I’m glad to sit on the back row, for I would rather be a servant in the House of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty,” when a heart attack struck him on stage.

33. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER “I want to go. God take me.”

34. JOHN F. KENNEDY “No, you certainly can’t.” Kennedy said this in response to his fellow passenger, Nellie Connally, the wife of Gov. John Connally. She had just remarked, “You certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome, Mr. President.” You’ll occasionally read that Kennedy’s last words were “My God, I’ve been hit.”

35. LYNDON B. JOHNSON “Send Mike immediately.” Mike was his Secret Service agent who was housed in a compound 100 yards away from the main house at Johnson’s Texas ranch. When agents arrived in Johnson’s bedroom, he was already dead.

36. RICHARD NIXON “Help.” He said this to a housekeeper as he had a stroke in 1994. Though he remained alert for a period of time after he was taken to the hospital, he was unable to speak.

37. GERALD FORD Gerald Ford’s last words are not known.

38. RONALD REAGAN Reagan’s last words have not been shared with the public, but his daughter Patti shared his final moments:

At the last moment when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn’t opened for days, did. And they weren’t chalky or vague. They were clear, and blue, and full of love. If a death can be lovely, his was. In his last moment, he taught me that there is nothing stronger than love between two people, two souls… It was the last thing he could do in this world to show my mother how entwined their souls are… and it was everything.

When Did Congressman Raul Labrador Become ‘A Key GOP Lawmaker’?

This morning it was hard to take seriously the description of a guest during the lead-in to Meet The Press.  David Gregory in a pre-taped opening for the show informed the audience that immigration would be a topic of discussion with ‘a key GOP lawmaker’ involved in negotiations, Rep. Raul Labrador, as a guest.

When did Labrador, a nutty teabagger who never had an original idea get to be a key anything, let alone invited to the table of one of America’s most respected Sunday new shows?  I am rather stunned.

Meanwhile Face The Nation also discussed the same topic, and actually found a serious Republican, Congressman Michael McCaul, who I very much disagree with, but who is seen as credible on a raft of issues, as their guest.

Perhaps a holiday week meant that the B-team for booking was employed at MTP.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz Puts Money Where Mouth Is

I like Mayor Dave’s tone and style.

I like to see constructive ideas advanced to blunt the gouging cuts that Governor Walker is proposing in the state budget.  These are tough times for Madison, but I admire and respect the leadership that Mayor Cieslewicz has shown.  It is due to his type of leadership that we will make it through this storm.

One way for us to respond is by upping the ante on generosity in the form of resources or volunteerism. I’m a little short on time these days, so I wrote a personal check to one of my favorite local community nonprofits, the Goodman Atwood Community Center. The check was for $302 because that’s the amount that Governor Walker’s budget would cut the Earned Income Tax Credit for a single mother of two kids earning minimum wage or about $15,000 a year. That’s a 43% cut in her credit. If that’s a little too high for you, here’s another good number: $32. That’s the amount of the Governor’s proposed reduction in the Homestead Property Tax Credit for a family earning $20,000 a year. And, of course, multiples of 14 would be appropriate.

This is consistent with the response of other city employees. We had feared that the pending forced increases in contributions toward health insurance and pensions would drive our employees to reduce their scheduled charitable deductions. But it hasn’t happened. Madisonians aren’t retreating; they’re stepping up.

Cuts in state programs that fund county community aids, city transit aids, libraries and more are going to make it even harder for people with low incomes. Overall cuts to city government itself appear to be in the range of $11 million. The City of Madison is responding on an official level, working to fight back on these proposals as the budget works its way through the legislature. And the process to work through the 2012 city budget will be the most inclusive ever.

Letter From Home 3/4/11

My mom would say that as a kid growing up I always “wanted something going on”.    It seemed most of my life I heard about those years when I yearned for activity to be around me, with new things to think about or explore.  

Almost in the same breath when she recounted those years my mom was sure to add she always “just wanted a few minutes to sit down.”  

I suspect every kid, and all parents understand both sides of the coin.

I really had not given much thought to those words over the years until this past week.   As a result of all that is taking place in Madison due to the political chaos running wild, I now understand a bit more about what my mom was talking about.

Plainly put, I am exhausted.

I am not a union organizer, nor am I a state employee.  (And no, this post is not a political column.)   Instead I am just a citizen that has run on adrenaline for three weeks and I seem unable to turn off the excitement, and have no ability to ratchet down the events that are stirring me in all directions.

As a result I am really running out of energy.

As a kid I loved when my grandparents would bale hay in the field close to my home.  At times I even was able to ride on the wagon.  I looked forward to the day when construction was to start on our country road.  Motor graders belching dark smoke and huge dump trucks with dirt was perfect drama for a boy.  The razing of our barn, and the birth of a new building was great fun, even if it included my stepping on a nail.  (A rusty one.  Well, if you are going to do it…do it right.)  But in each case the event came, stayed a while, and then it was over.

Don’t get me wrong.

These past weeks in Madison have been a dream come true.  I love politics, journalism, debates on issues, and new things to blog about.  Living within range of hearing the voices of 30,000 (or more) chanting citizens at the State Capitol is amazing.  Stepping off my front stoop and knowing that the events on the front page of the paper are not in another nation, or even state, but just up the way is nothing short of remarkable.  Walking a few blocks to where the action is, and seeing it in person is just a real powerful feeling.

One of my friends that I met back at broadcasting school wrote me a note the other day.  “This must be like Christmas,  New Year’s, and your birthday all rolled up together”.  He was right.   I am in my element with all the excitement.

But I feel emotional overload. 

I am connected in a personal way as I care about the issues, and have many friends who are involved.  As such at the end of the day I find myself talking with others I know to either vent a bit or debrief and share tidbits I picked up through the day.  I love to hear their views, and some gossip.

In the morning I find myself not just reading the local paper but evaluating it to see how the front page was laid out, and what message was trying to be sent with the placement of stories. 

I have the remote welded to my hand at news time to flip through the local channels to see how and what is being covered in this drama.

I have posted more on this one story than any other news topic on my blog.  That it is taking place so close to where I live makes this a chance to see  events unfold and comment along the way.  I feel an obligation to my readers to paint the picture of events from my perspective.   This past week I had my highest number of hits in one day.  Just shy of 10,000 readers came to my blog on Wednesday.   Humbly put, not bad for a one-man blogging operation.

But along the way I have lost weight, and rubbed up to those physical limitations I should not cross.  I was reminded of that this week after introducing myself to a woman who works at the Capitol and reads my blog.  She said, “I thought you would be younger,” and then started to apologize.  I laughed and told her no offense was taken.  

But I do feel older tonight.

So I plan to try and tamp down the adrenaline high, and kick back this weekend with a good read.

In the book “Going Home To Glory”, a memoir about President Eisenhower after leaving the White House, grandson David Eisenhower pens  in the first paragraph a reminder that things always do get back to being normal.

On Inauguration Day 1961 President Eisenhower and Mamie are driven from Washington to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Leading the way is a car with Secret Service agents.  The last line of the paragraph is quite remarkable.

“When the Eisenhowers approached the entrance to their Gettysburg farm, the Secret Service honked the horn and made a U-turn, heading back to Washington.

Things returned to normal that quickly.

FOX News Viewers Less Educated On Issues…Can It Be True?!


Fox News viewers are much more likely than others to believe false information about American politics, a new study concludes.

The study, conducted by the University of Maryland, judged how likely consumers of various news outlets and publications were to believe misinformation about a wide range of political issues. Overall, 90% of respondents said they felt they had heard false information being given to them during the 2010 election campaign. However, while consumers of just about every news outlet believed some information that was false, the study found that Fox News viewers, regardless of political information, were “significantly more likely” to believe that:

–Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely) –Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points)

–The economy is getting worse (26 points)

–Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points)

–The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)

–Their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)

–The auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points)

–When TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points)

–And that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points)

Darfur Deaths “Will Reach A Staggering Total” In Coming Months

Exactly what does spitting into the wind feel like? 

I, along with others who stress the need to right the wrongs of Darfur are the folks to ask.  We are the experts.

There are some themes and issues that get mentioned often on this blog.  Sometimes I admit in a preachy way.  But so be it.

One of those international issues with a clear moral foundation that requires our attention is Darfur where blood and fear are more common than anything else.  Sure, the issues are highly complex, but I strongly state that denying justice and safety to those affected now only make the matters on the ground in that region far more problematic to resolve.

Now comes a column by a Sudan expert, Professor Eric Reeves from Smith College, that writes things might get much worse very quickly.  The article first appeared in the Washington Post, and was reprinted in the Tuesday edition of The Capital Times.  History will harshly judge our inaction to this human catastrophe.

Paralyzing seasonal rains begin in earnest in June throughout the region. In eastern Chad, an obscenely underreported humanitarian crisis has put half a million Darfuri refugees and Chadian displaced persons at acute risk because of insecurity spilling over from Darfur. A European Union force deploying to eastern Chad may provide some of the protection necessary to halt the most threatening violence, but much depends on whether the force is perceived as an extension of a long-term French military presence that has supported Chadian President Idriss Déby.

In Darfur itself, however, the protection force authorized by the U.N. Security Council last July has stalled badly. Little more than a slightly augmented version of the African Union mission, it risks failing soon if it cannot do much better than its weak and undermanned predecessor. Khartoum refuses to accept key contingents from non-African countries and obstructs force deployment and operations in a range of ways. Indeed, nothing contributes more to what Human Rights Watchrecently described as “chaos by design.” While a variety of rebel groups, bandits and opportunistic armed elements contribute to the violence that threatens humanitarians, Khartoum has invested virtually nothing in providing security for Darfuris or humanitarians. On the contrary, reports from the field make clear that a climate of hostility, obstruction and abuse defines the working environment for all aid organizations. Khartoum still refuses to disarm its brutal Arab militia forces, the Janjaweed. Recently, in a campaign reminiscent of the worst military violence of the genocide’s early years, Khartoum’s regular ground and air forces coordinated with the Janjaweed in massive scorched-earth assaults against civilian villages in West Darfur.


The international community has waited far too long to come to terms with the brutal motives behind Khartoum’s simultaneous blocking of a U.N.-authorized protection force and its unconstrained harassment of humanitarian operations. Nothing short of the most urgent deployment of security forces will allow food to be moved into areas of greatest need. And nothing less than an equally urgent commitment to protect aid operations will permit an expanded humanitarian reach in the critical three months before the start of the rainy season. If Khartoum is not confronted over its deadly policies of fostering insecurity while obstructing humanitarian operations, then we may measure the consequences in hundreds of thousands of lives lost. The choice is before us now.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Chris Matthews, Great American and Pundit, Cover Story In New York Times Magazine

I love Chris Matthews and his style of political punditry on his MSNBC show “Hardball”.  But more importantly I respect where he came from, and the bedrock notions about America and politics that he is not embarrassed to stand by and affirm.  He is, I believe, one of the most sincere faces on any political show today.  After harsh rhetoric and demonzing from each political party, it is Chris Matthews who can cut through to the core issues and speak to the broad middle of America.  The place he grew up in.

This week Chris Mattews is the cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. 

A few excerpts.

There is a level of ubiquity about Chris Matthews today that can be exhausting, occasionally edifying and, for better or worse, central to what has become a very loud national conversation about politics. His soothing-like-a-blender voice feels unnervingly constant in a presidential cam-paign that has drawn big interest, ratings and voter turnout. He gets in trouble sometimes and has to apologize — as he did after suggesting that Hillary Clinton owed her election to the Senate to the fact that her husband “messed around.” He is also something of a YouTube sensation: see Chris getting challenged to a duel by the former Georgia governor, Zell Miller; describing the “thrill going up my leg” after an Obama speech; dancing with (and accidentally groping) Ellen DeGeneres on her show; shouting down the conservative commentator Michelle Malkin; ogling CNBC’s Erin Burnett. And he has provided a running bounty of material for Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog, which has devoted an entire section of its Web site (“The Matthews Monitor”) to cataloging Matthews’s alleged offenses, especially against Hillary Clinton and women generally.


Yet for as basic as he has become to the political and media furniture, Matthews is anything but secure. He is of the moment, but, at 62, also something of a throwback — to an era of politics set in the ethnic Democratic wards of the ’60s and the O’Neill-Reagan battles of the ’80s. And he is a product of an aging era of cable news, the late-’90s, when “Hardball” started and Matthews made his name as a battering critic of Bill Clinton during the Monica saga.
Cable political coverage has changed, however, and so has the sensibility that viewers — particularly young ones — expect from it. Mat-thews’s bombast is radically at odds with the wry, antipolitical style fashioned by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or the cutting and finely tuned cynicism of Matthews’s MSNBC co-worker Keith Olbermann. These hosts betray none of the reverence for politics or the rituals of Washington that Matthews does. On the contrary, they appeal to the eye-rolling tendencies of a cooler, highly educated urban cohort of the electorate that mostly dismisses an exuberant political animal like Matthews as annoyingly antiquated, like the ranting uncle at the Thanksgiving table whom the kids have learned to tune out.


“I like the fact that people don’t think of me as famous, but that they know me,” Matthews said. “They come up to me and say, ‘Chris, what do you think?’ There’s no aura. It’s a different kind of celebrity. People assume they have a right to talk to me. They want to know my take.”

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,