Saturday, April 26, 2008

Don’t They Get It?

An item in the Local section of the Wisconsin State Journal said a Madison driver was arrested for operating under the influence (OWI) and operating a motor vehicle without a license. He has been convicted four times for driving under the influence. With last Saturday’s stop, he has a total of three OWI charges pending.

He has seven OWI charges? That means he has driven drunk more times but he was only caught seven times. Each of these times, he was supposed to have an alcohol usage assessment. Current state law should send you to prison after the fifth conviction, sooner if you cause injury or death to someone else.

There are other drivers who have multiple OWI charges. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there are about 23,000 drivers with three or more convictions. They also say that the median Blood Alcohol Content level of those convicted of OWI is .017, more than twice the legal limit. Wisconsin Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that 50 percent of all Wisconsin traffic deaths are alcohol-related.

Most of us who live in Wisconsin have driven to or from a place when we should not. Most of us have driven at a time when few cars are on the road and so far or fast so that we have never had an accident. It is not a driving problem, however; it is a drinking problem.

Unfortunately, it is something I know about. I was a binge drinker in college in Madison but I did not have a car in college. I was 22 and working in Minnesota when I was picked up for DWI for the first time in 1980. Driving school reduced the charge. I had a DWI in Virginia about a year later, which was knocked down by my attorney to reckless driving when I went to driving school and AA for six weeks. I became much more responsible.

After my divorce, I gradually lost control of my drinking. My final DWI came in Michigan in 1997, when I received my best and most honest alcohol assessment and was “sentenced” to AA for one year. I have been continuously sober since Jan. 18, 1998. If I never have my first drink, I will never have 20. I do not mind being around people who are drinking, which in Madison is just about everyone.

I had three charges of driving drunk before I became sober. How do people have many OWI convictions and are not able to realize that their problem is alcohol, not driving?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sex, Lies and Evidence

Just when one thought nobody could be as foolish as former New York Governor Eliott Spitzer, two sex scandals in Michigan have Democrats there reeling. I lived in Lansing for 15 years and I have never seen anything like it.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Usually, what consenting adults do behind closed doors would not matter so much except Kilpatrick is guarded by 50 Detroit police officers. Among big city mayors, such a large security detail is unusual.

This affair came to light in a police investigation of the security detail and irregularities in the Mayor’s Office. Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown was fired. In a deposition related to Brown’s firing, both Kilpatrick and Beatty said under oath they were not romantically involved. Inconvenient evidence included more than 1,000 amorous text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty on Detroit equipment. In public, Kilpatrick said Brown was fired for cause. Other text messages from Kilpatrick asked his staff to retroactively come up with reasons for Brown’s ouster.

Brown and another fired officer were awarded $8.4 million. Outside counsel at the trial cost Detroit taxpayers another $845,000. Kilpatrick and Beatty have been indicted on charges of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick has been seen with his wife. Beatty is no longer his chief of staff and is looking for work.

Kilpatrick is the son of U.S. Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Detroit Democrat. Kwame Kilpatrick’s rise has been meteoric, becoming Detroit Mayor at only 31. Now public sector union leaders have called on him to resign and a recall petition has been filed. Brown is mulling a race for Congress against Kilpatrick.

Michigan Democrats were reeling from the charges against Kilpatrick when another sex scandal unfolded. Tom Athans, husband of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), was questioned by police in Troy, a Detroit suburb, after leaving a motel where he gave $150 to a prostitute for a sex act. Troy police were trying to break up a prostitution ring and do not prosecute customers who cooperate, as Athans did when police stopped his Cadillac Sedan Deville. In the motel room, police found sex toys, condoms, a laptop and $431 in cash.

If Athans were only the husband of a U.S Senator, it would be embarrassing to the couple. However, Athans is also a key figure in liberal talk radio. He was formerly vice president of pre-bankruptcy Air America and CEO of Democracy Radio. He now heads Talk USA Radio, based in Washington.

If this happened to a Republican or a figure in conservative talk radio, it would dominate the news. There would be calls for resignations and Congressional hearings.

Athans said he found the prostitute on Craig’s List. It is not certain which is more embarrassing to Athans: falling into a Troy police sex sting or paying only $150 for a prostitute. At least Spitzer spent more than Athans. It seems like the City of Detroit, however, has spent so much thus far that Spitzer’s amount looks paltry.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

“Damned Dirty Apes”

News that Charlton Heston has passed away moves me to reflection. He was an actor who played historic figures such as Moses, El Cid, Jonah Ben Hur, Cardinal Richelieu, John the Baptist, “Chinese” Gordon, Michelangelo, Marc Antony and Henry VIII. He won the Oscar as Best Actor in 1959 for “Ben Hur.”

I have not seem all of Heston’s films. I have seen many several times, including seeing “Ten Commandments,” “Three Musketeers,” and “Planet of the Apes” in movie theatres.

Madison liberals tend to remember him as a conservative and President of the National Rifle Association. They tend to forget that he was President of the Screen Actors Guild and a civil rights activist before many of them were born.