Help Blake Beat Burkitt’s Leukemia This Sunday

Fundraiser for a boy who beat leukemia but needs help beating bills

1899955_272627359567181_877352916_nI first met 4-year old Blake Rickert at a birthday dinner for his mother about a year ago and I was impressed with his undying exuberance even though he was the only child amongst ten other adults.

I would see this precocious young man at other friend gatherings from then on, playing with toys that boys often find interesting like trucks and large construction equipment. This fellow has more texture than that as I’m told he also likes gardening, shoveling, and of course, superheros. Just about every superhero needs a sidekick. With the evil foes Blake has been fighting so far in 2014, he is looking for his Robin (Dick Grayson for purists).

It was earlier this year that Blake was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia, a rare form of cancer that is aggressive (growing in size every 14 hours) but also highly treatable. Since January he has been undergoing an aggressive treatment protocol at the American Family Children’s Hospital with very encouraging results. Recently Blake’s mother Jill announced that a bone marrow biopsy found no leukemic cells and all the tumors are gone.

I guess he has earned the name they are calling him now: Super Blake

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Protecting Their Ladybusiness

Women and men rallied at the State Capitol today as the Wisconsin GOP doubled-down on social issues with the passage of Senate Bill 206. Over 20 demonstrators met at the top of State Street and made one lap around the Capitol Square before moving inside to join the Solidarity Sing-A-Long.

Inside the Capitol the Guerrilla Feminism Protest AB 227/SB206! took place in the Assembly gallery. Women were asked to appear with tape over their mouths to signify the chilling effect the legislation will have on women’s rights in the state. Activist and DJ Nick Nice posted this observation to his Facebook Page:

“Watched 3 people get arrested/kicked out for wearing tape over their mouths to protest the GOP bill that sanctions State-mandated rape”

Nice told Willy Street Blog later that soon after he left with his son the Capitol Police cleared out the entire gallery. Meanwhile, the GOP seems afraid to support their own bill in the light of day. Observers are reporting that most GOP members of the Assembly are not even on the floor during the debate. Obviously this bill, so doggedly pursued by this party, doesn’t sound as appealing once its heard out loud.

District 6 Candidate Q & A: Scott Thornton

Challenger says Ald. Rummel has failed to lead and communicate with residents

Scott Thornton. Courtesy Scott Thornton for District 6

Scott Thornton. Courtesy Scott Thornton for District 6

Scott B. Thornton, 49, has lived in District 6 since 2000 and Madison since the late 1980s. One of his first jobs in Madison was working for the United Neighborhood Centers of Dane County which had its offices in the Atwood Neighborhood Center and he has been tied to the near East Side neighborhoods ever since.

However Scott has made his strongest impacts as President of the Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) for the past four years, nearly quadrupling the membership during his tenure. He also secured tax exempt status and aggressively developed a public art program in conjunction with the Madison Arts Commission that has flowered in public and private spaces around the Marquette neighborhood.

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Throwback Thursday: UW Toboggan Run

Courtesy: University of Wisconsin

Courtesy: University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin posted the above photo on Facebook from circa 1911 of an epic toboggan run from Observatory Hill to Lake Mendota. According to an accompanying blog post, the run was 1200 feet long including wooden and ice segments. By 1930 it got even more sophisticated with lights and concrete.

The last time I was on an actual toboggan was at Camp Upham Woods for winter retreat with the Madison Boy Choir maybe circa 1985 . The camp (operated by the State of Wisconsin) had a six-person wooden toboggan and  ”enough snow” was never a problem. Looking at the UW picture, its good that they had a narrow track to guard against wipeouts. The Upham Woods run was an approximately 200-foot wooden track without sides which left lots of opportunity for jack-knifing into a glorious clouds of powder.

Scott ‘Baghdad Bob’ Walker

Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf a.k.a “Baghdad Bob” was the Iraqi Information Minister under Saddam Hussein.

I’ve been wanting to write a post involving “Baghdad Bob” for quite a while and now I think I’ve finally found a reason. If you don’t know who former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf is, he was the face of the Iraqi regime during the beginning of the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein was nowhere to be found but al-Sahaf, dubbed “Baghdad Bob” by the American press, was on the television spinning fantastic lies about how the war was going for Iraq.

It was of course going badly but you had to respect the man for doing his duty until the end. But what dictator survives without his very dedicated communications staff, and Bob’s role was to obsfucate the truth as much as possible.

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Solidarity Sing-Along Fills Recall Enthusiasm Gap

Solidarity Sing-Along at the Capitol Square on Recall Day, June 5, 2012

The Solidarity Sing-Along started March 11, 2011 with a simple mission:  ”…a strong commitment to effecting change through peaceful action and purely non-violent means.” It has been a moving, poetic response to the brusque, machiavellian  way in which Scott Walker and the Republicans have governed this state. Over a year later the enthusiasm in some ways has carried this revolt on its shoulders, and it was stronger than ever on Tuesday (June 5) at the Capitol.  Continue reading

I Guess The Recall Can Start…The Media is Here

Speaking truth to Ailes in front of the Fox News set on the Capitol Square in Madison on June 4. 2012.

It must be time for the Recall as the television news organizations have come to town, not long after the DNC finally did. Glad they both finally noticed. I was strolling around the square today after being singing a few stanzas with the Solidarity Sing-A-Long in their usual spot at the foot of the Capitol’s State Street steps.  Continue reading

Overpass Light Brigade Epitomizes Recall Spirit

The Overpass Light Brigade pose with all the signs they brought to an overpass near Miller Park Saturday June 2, 2012. The various permutations were displayed to passing motorists. Photo by: Jenna Pope

Since Scott Walker and his allies picked a fight with the good citizens of Wisconsin, they have hit back with an immense avalanche of creative and innovative retorts and actions to register their displeasure with his policies. One such group is the Overpass Light Brigade whose activities have crescendoed in the last few weeks and may just be one of the differences in this election.

Enter Lane Hall, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his wife Lisa Moline who are not necessarily activists but could not bear to sit on the sidelines for this fight. They started with simple letters using battery-powered LEDs that spelled out “Recall Walker” and made regular appearances on the Lincoln Drive overpass to the Milwaukee Art Museum along the lakefront.  Continue reading

Why We Should Stand With Mahlon Mitchell

Mahlon Mitchell, candidate for Lieutenant Governor

It was a year ago today (June 3, 2011) that I attended the Democratic State Convention in Milwaukee. It had been an historic spring and now there were Senate Recalls to plan for and how to sustain momentum for a Gubernatorial Recall drive later in the year. It’s good to look back because I found some video I shot that is foreshadowing of the election only three days from now.

On the main floor I heard many great speeches and even sat next to Senator Fred Risser, one of the Wisconsin 14. Risser has been my Senator off and on since I was born. Retired US Representative David Obey gave the best speech of the night when he inveighed against the Tea Party, and their in-state standard bearer Senator Sunspot himself, Ron Johnson.  Continue reading

Walker Hubris Shines Through During Debate

There were no real surprises at last night’s debate between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Barrett took an aggressive stance, because he had to, and Walker just had to not mess up. I half blame the media and the electorate for not demanding more from Walker.

Walker should have to try harder to convince people he should remain in office. Instead he just has to put out there enough obsfucations, dog-whistle talking points, and mis-characterizations of why there is even a recall election at all to distract from not only his failure as a leader, but also his criminality. Oh yes, he should be so lucky to be recalled rather than have to resign due to legal problems.  Continue reading