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Second Thoughts
Steve Henry: Cupid on the prowl

Heart-shaped candies with words of love often brought giggles from those grade school girls on the receiving end of what I often referred to as Puppy Love. And oh my, once recess time arrived, those same gals made a dash to the playground to share their treasures with their friends. Candy hearts and valentine cards gave vent to plenty of excitement. Yes, there was love in the air. It was the key ingredient leading to teasing.

A Romeo I was not. It was never a rerun of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Even if I tried to be coy in sneaking a Valentine onto the desk of the cute little gal with the pigtails when she wasn’t around, it quickly turned into a scene of finger-pointing in my direction. I may have blushed a time or two, but it was only puppy love.

I wonder how many “puppy love” romances led to life-long relationships? More so at the high school level than the K-8th grade. Just maybe, that’s when I acquired my taste for chocolate hearts rather than the white candy hearts with a verse written in red. I must admit, those were some of the fun times as I think back to pre-high school days. Pig tails and pony tails were special, but pulling on them could sure call for a trip to the principal’s office.

What a joy I discovered when a sheet of paper with the Songs of the Century fell out of one of Brother Don’s CDs. The CDs were five in number and contained more than 100 great songs written in the 20th Century. “These are the tunes that made us laugh, cry, lament and love. Styles range from Dixieland and Big Band to solo piano and light jazz.”

The Volume I CD included such hits as “Maple Leaf Rag,” “Peg O’ My Heart,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” covering 1900 to 1919. Volume II resonated with songs such as “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “Makin’ Whoopie,” “Over the Rainbow” and “My Funny Valentine.”

I would rate Volume III as my favorite. Just about every song listed was familiar to me when I could often sing along to the words that made them so popular, including “That Old Black Magic,” “When I Fall in Love,” “Mona Lisa” and “Mack the Knife.” As to instrumentals, they were all winners, including “In the Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “How High the Moon”, “Love Me Tender” and “Autumn Leaves.”

The final two volumes cover 1960 to 1999. Included are “Moon River,” “Surfin’ USA,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Change the World,” “Let it Be,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Rose” and “You Are So Beautiful.” Inside of those 50 titles or so are two of my favorites. I remember seeing on stage at McDonell High School Patricia Statz singing “Send in the Clowns.” A lovely voice that would later be quieted when The Pentagon was hit by terrorists on 9/11. And my other favorite is often sung in church and on special occasions: “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” It’s hard to keep tears from falling when those songs are featured.

  • Get acquainted with the app called “Respect.” Put your phone away and pay attention to those talking with you.
  • The sad part about getting old is you stay young on the inside, but nobody can tell anymore.
  • Elective surgery is surgery that doesn’t count toward your major.
  • Never mistake asthma for passion or vice versa.
  • I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
  • I think more about running away now than I did as a kid, but by the time I put my teeth in, glasses on and find my car keys, I forget where I’m going.
  • Nothing makes
  • me feel so old as having to scroll down to find my year of birth.

Kathleen Parker: Governing with the enemy

WASHINGTON — When White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned last Wednesday amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives and a former girlfriend, he parted the curtains on a Trumpian-scale personnel and security disaster.

Bottom line: You don’t keep people in the White House who’ve been credibly accused of domestic abuse. I’d be the first to argue that an allegation doesn’t necessarily constitute guilt, and there’s been no adjudication of these charges. But there are sound reasons for security checks and, based on what the FBI discovered, Porter didn’t qualify.

Indeed, he never did receive full clearance and remained in the White House as the president’s right-hand man on a temporary permit dating back to his first day on the job. That he remained onboard for more than a year is surprising to all but the White House staff, who, given their cumulative inexperience, may not have realized that people usually are denied employment in far-less significant jobs if they can’t pass security checks.

Exceptions can be made, of course. And the president has the authority to waive a security clearance. But what possible reason could there be to keep someone inside the classified world of the White House under such circumstances? Not only is there reason to question his character, but the overarching message here is that this White House isn’t much concerned about domestic violence.

The simple answer may be that Porter is one of only a few people over on Pennsylvania Avenue who knew how to do anything. For one, he’s well-connected in Republican circles. His father, Roger Porter, worked in three administrations and was, I’m told, top-drawer. The younger Porter, now 40, is a Rhodes scholar who worked for Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Rob Portman and Orrin Hatch, for whom he was chief of staff.

Moreover, at Harvard, he was a classmate of Jared Kushner, who took a class from the senior Porter, who was teaching a class on the American presidency.

Washington, if you haven’t heard, is a small town.

Most likely, Porter was deemed too valuable to the White House given that he, and virtually no one else, including the president and chief of staff John Kelly, understood how the legislative branch of government works. Whatever his military achievements, Kelly may be the least-qualified chief of staff in recent history, including his lackluster predecessor, Reince Priebus, who is Jim Baker by comparison.

It is unclear how events related to Porter unfolded — or didn’t unfold — or who knew what and when. If these questions sound familiar, they shouldn’t be dismissed as unimportant. Republicans who were offended by the lack of governing experience of Barack Obama should be equally outraged by this administration’s.

Kelly has pleaded ignorance about Porter’s alleged abusive background, saying he only recently found out about it. But it appears that Kelly was informed last fall and that White House Counsel Don McGahn knew a year ago. The Washington Post reported Thursday: “When McGahn informed Kelly this fall about the reason for the security clearance holdup, he agreed that Porter should remain.”

Meanwhile, comments from the White House, where Porter’s 29-year-old girlfriend, Hope Hicks, is director of communications, have been all over the lot. First, Porter was fired, then he wasn’t, next he resigned, cleaned out his desk and was leaving, but not yet. Porter denied all allegations and claimed he was the target of a smear campaign. But by whom?

Not by his two ex-wives, one of whom had sought a restraining order against Porter during their marriage. Neither of them sought out the Daily Mail, which broke the story. Rather, reporters pursued them, according to the women. But who tipped off the reporters and why talk to them if not for revenge? Or something. The plot doesn’t so much thicken as gurgle and ooze the way swamps sometimes do.

Rumors abound, needless to say. One goes that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who author Michael Wolff claimed once dated Hicks, is behind the smear. Another story line in the Daily Mail involves a former girlfriend warning the White House of allegations against Porter. Pending further revelations, I’ll leave you with a quote from the late, great Kate O’Beirne, pundit emeritus, who used to say, “Never cheat on your mistress.”

Ultimately, assuming you’re feeling disgusted by now, this unfolding story isn’t about bad marriages, philandering or romance. The shock and awe emanating from the White House about Porter aren’t so much a commentary on the man, but are testament to the surreal and potentially perilous incompetence surrounding the president. Nearly every day reconfirms the reality that having once been a chief executive (or a reality TV star) is no recommendation for governance.

P.S. Kushner hasn’t cleared security yet, either.

kathleen parker

Lisa Kivirist: Small bakers deserve more than crumbs

Valentine’s Day may be a national holiday of love for bakers, as we get out our heart-shaped cookie cutters and the air wafts sweetly. But our Assembly keeps handing us home bakers crumbs when it comes to supporting small-scale food entrepreneurs. Today, on Valentine’s Day, the Assembly Small Business Development Committee will be reviewing Assembly Bill 360, affectionately known as the “Cookie Bill,” which has the potential for Wisconsin to catch up with just about all other states in our nation to enable folks to sell their homemade baked goods.


Unfortunately, as it currently stands, Assembly Bill 360 institutes an annual gross sales cap of $10,000, one of the lowest in the country. The missing ingredient here: a gross sales cap of $25,000, which mirrors Senate Bill 271 which passed the Senate unanimously in June 2017. Led by then-Sen. Shelia Hardsdorf, now our state’s Secretary of Agriculture, this Senate Bill provides realistic opportunity for fledgling entrepreneurs in our state to get their dream bakery business going.

A cap of $10,000 equals $192 a week. When you subtract out ingredient cost, supplies and other standard expenses with running a business, we’re talking just dollars of income a day. Our neighboring state of Illinois has a gross sales cap of $36,000, and Iowa doesn’t even have a gross sales cap. Minnesota is at $18,000. What’s more troubling than the actual gross sales number is this chronic attitude among our elected officials on conniving ways to impede new business start-ups through such entrepreneurial barriers. That is why we need a groundswell of aspiring small business owners.

This fight for the sale of homemade baked goods in Wisconsin has been going on too long. With the Wisconsin Farmers Union, we first helped introduce Cookie Bill legislation back in 2013. While variations on this bill have passed the Senate multiple times, up until now, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has failed to bring the bill to the Assembly floor for a vote. This committee meeting may change that, but we’ve been in this fight long enough to not accept those crumbs.

Remember: the judicial branch ruled in home bakers’ favor on this. When the legislative branch bogged down, myself and my farmer friends, Kriss Marion and Dela Ends, took things over to the courts. We successfully sued the state over the fact that Wisconsin’s ban on the sale of home baked goods is unconstitutional and reflects the illegal influence of big industry groups who are apparently threatened by mom and pop competition. Our Wisconsin Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living, and we are pleased the court agreed. The proposed $10,000 is an arbitrary limit, and there’s no evidence that such a cap is linked to public health or safety as we are only talking about non-hazardous baked goods. There is precedence that some of Wisconsin’s small home baking businesses will grow into pretty sizable enterprises that boost our state’s economy. A sales cap this low would hamper the entrepreneurial potential of these producers and should be avoided.

Hey, Wisconsin Assembly Small Business Development Committee: Send some “Wisconsin is open for business” Valentine’s Day love to your constituents. Model the Senate and set a gross sales cap of $25,000 for home bakers.

Wisconsin State Journal editorial board: Court hands another blow to transparency

Records showing who votes and who doesn’t vote in Wisconsin elections have long been open to public inspection — before and after the polls close.

Anyone can request information about voting rolls from local municipal clerks, because transparency helps ensure fair elections.

In fact, Gov. Scott Walker signed a law two years ago making it easier for political parties and groups to get voter information electronically — prior to votes being counted. The Republican governor and Legislature required the Wisconsin Elections Commission to establish a subscription service for semiweekly updates on absentee ballots leading up to elections. Political parties and campaigns can use the information to track and remind supporters to vote if they haven’t.

So why is the Wisconsin Supreme Court so concerned about the same thing happening when unions hold votes to certify their organizations? Presumably, it’s because the conservative-leaning court is more interested in limiting the power of labor groups than upholding the state’s open records law. Unions tend to support liberal candidates over conservative ones, including in judicial elections.

The state’s high court last week voted 5-2 in favor of letting the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission delay the release of voter information during public employee union recertification elections. WERC had denied a request by Madison Teachers Inc. for lists of teachers who had voted and not voted before the deadline for casting ballots in the union’s election. WERC feared MTI would use the information to intimidate those who hadn’t voted.

But no evidence of aggressive tactics was offered. And the union understandably wanted all of its members to vote, because it needed 51 percent of eligible members to vote “yes” to recertify. Non-votes by eligible members are counted as “no” votes under state law.

Moreover, the union would never get to know how individuals voted, only whether they had voted. The same is true in general elections for public office. And unions get the same access to voting rolls in those elections as everyone else.

Either the record is open, or it’s not. And the strong presumption in the law is it should be.

The State Journal will defend Wisconsin’s strong open records law regardless of partisan politics. And we expect our high court to do the same.