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Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials

March 18, 2019

The Journal Times of Racine, March 13

‘Sometimes you just have to walk away’

Satellite images of what appears to be a North Korean rocket assembly facility near Pyongyang have surfaced recently.

In addition, a 400-page document released by the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea said that Pyongyang had also tried to sell weapons in the Middle East and hacked banks across the world.

Clearly trouble in North Korea continues, despite President Donald Trump’s two meetings with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

What these recent revolutions show is that it continues to be more important than ever for the U.S. and Trump to take Kim seriously and work toward a solution that will eventually bring peace.

To achieve that eventual deal, “sometimes you just have to walk away,” Trump said about the most recent summit meeting between Kim and himself in Vietnam.

Many people speculated that Trump would be so desperate to make a deal that he would give up too much. That is not what happened.

While accounts of the meeting are conflicting, Trump said the talks collapsed because North Korea insisted that all sanctions on Pyongyang be lifted without firmly committing to eliminate its nuclear weapons.

Trump’s recent meeting is similar to when President Ronald Reagan walked away from a disarmament negotiation with the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev after he made what were unacceptable demands at a 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Despite no agreement being made then, that meeting did lead to the U.S. and Soviet Union signing a treaty the following year that eventually led to the peace we have today.

It is vital that the United States and North Korea come to some terms of agreement, but as Trump said going into the Vietnam meeting with Kim, “There’s no rush. We just want to do the right deal.”

Both the meeting in Vietnam and the preceding summit in Singapore were historic. The 2018 Singapore summit was the first time a sitting U.S. president had met with the leader of North Korea.

The threat North Korea poses is real. But the meeting in Vietnam should not be looked at as a failure. Instead, it should be looked at as a step forward toward an eventual solution.

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Beloit Daily News, March 11

The danger of overreaching

Democrats should tap the brakes, because voters will judge Trump next year.

“Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of ‘Russia collusion’ is crumbling. ... Democrats are harassing the President to distract from their radical agenda of making America a socialist country, killing babies after they’re born, and pushing a ‘green new deal’ that would destroy jobs and bankrupt America. ... The Democrats are more interested in pathetic political games and catering to a radical, leftist base than on producing results for our citizens. The Democrats are not after the truth, they are after the President.”

So said a statement issued last week by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in response to a massive document demand from Rep. Jerry Nadler, the new Democrat chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

And, for a change, this woman who usually fills a dual role of attack dog and truth bender delivered a well-aimed blow that millions of people will conclude scores a direct hit on President Trump’s opposition.

The Judiciary Committee’s sweeping demand is stunning in scope. Not only is the committee asking for almost everything on everybody surrounding Trump during the 2016 campaign and after he took office — which, by the way, clearly falls within the purview of congressional oversight — but also for all things Trump before his time in politics, including material on his business and his family.

So in one overreaching moment Democrats have risked turning the narrative sharply in Trump’s favor, allowing the White House to claim harassment and victimization. Democrats have not learned the first rule of investigation — incrementalism works. Follow the facts, gathering evidence slowly and methodically, until a case either is built — or disproven. By leaping headlong over this cliff, Democrats have played into Sanders’ claim they “are not after the truth, they are after the President.”

Let us make this clear: We definitely are not trying to absolve President Trump, who may yet be shown to have committed the kind of high crimes and misdemeanors spoken of by the Founders in the United States Constitution. This crude, crass and impetuous president who has up-ended so many norms deserves serious oversight by the Article 1 representatives of the people.

We’re just not persuaded these Democrats are capable of slowing down, dispensing with the grandstanding, to gather information and evidence in what the nation can accept as a fair and measured process.

That’s always the danger when an election sweeps out the old rascals and sweeps in the new rascals. Suddenly, the newcomers become convinced the country has fallen in love with them and has handed them a mandate for a radical swing from one agenda to another. That’s rarely true. The country remains split almost down the middle. There is no mandate. In our view, the 2018 election was a plea for the political class to heal divisions and deliver responsible, effective government.

Instead, the people always get — as Sanders said -_the “radical, leftist base.”

Or, the radical, rightist base.

Most people would like to be rid of both.

Look, fair oversight of the executive branch is a constitutional obligation of Congress, and we’re all for it no matter who occupies the White House.

But check the political agendas long enough to absorb reality. Even if House investigations find some level of serious wrongdoing that traces right to Donald Trump’s desk, any articles of impeachment brought by the House would be destined to die in the Republican-controlled Senate. There is no way 67 senators will vote to remove Trump from office. Impeachment talk will blow up in Democrats’ faces.

In just over a year the people will go to the polls again. President Trump — assuming he runs again, which is not a sure thing — either will be re-elected by the people or evicted from the White House.

So throttle back the engine of investigation, and move methodically and with much less hype gathering what facts and evidence may exist.

Meanwhile, see if the people’s representatives can get something done on all those important issues unrelated to Trump but important to the country.

The American people are scheduled to judge Trump in November, 2020. Trust them.

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La Crosse Tribune, March 17

Hospital collaboration makes community healthier

There are so many reasons to celebrate the terrific health care offered in the Coulee Region.

Access to first-class caregivers is a key reason many of us call this home.

Our health care institutions contribute greatly to quality of life, economic development and employment.

But there’s another factor we need to consider — a factor aimed at improving community health.

The CEOs of Gundersen and Mayo-Franciscan met recently with the Tribune’s editorial board, and our community should be thankful for another attribute.

In a word: collaboration.

It’s clear Dr. Scott Rathgaber of Gundersen and Dr. Paul Mueller of Mayo take pride in the community collaboration their hospitals and their people contribute to.

Here’s just one example: The Alliance to HEAL — Halting the Effects of Addiction Locally.

This initiative doesn’t just involve one hospital — or two, for that matter. The La Crosse Community Foundation, La Crosse County Health Department, Mayo and Gundersen have teamed up to lead the fight against opioid addiction in the Coulee Region.

The four lead organizations have pledged more than $400,000 in the next three years to wage the fight.

It’s a fight that takes community resources.

More than 80 stakeholders participate, working in nine work groups, to aid people with substance-abuse disorders.

As Rathgaber says, it takes a village — and the alliance includes people who work with people struggling with addiction every day. You’ll find hospital CEOs, legislators, judges, mayors taking part.

If one hospital or the other considered this initiative a competition, we’re convinced it wouldn’t be nearly as successful.

And, there are signs the initiative has had a positive impact.

In 2016, 19 people died from overdose deaths involving opioids.

In 2017, that number fell to eight.

Last year, the number dropped to two.

This is not a declaration of victory. But it’s clear that high-level, collaborative leadership that focuses on results, not credit, has helped make our community safer and healthier.

Dr. Chris Eberlein, an ER doctor at Gundersen, says the improvement came after education efforts introducing prescribers to alternatives to prescribing opioids. Eberlein is co-chair of the La Crosse County Heroin and Other Illicit Drug Task Force.

Health, of course, comes in many forms.

Do you have a stable home, a safe neighborhood?

Look at the neighborhoods surrounding Mayo and Gundersen, and you’ll see more signs of collaborative leadership for improvement.

Each health care institution has adopted schools and neighborhoods, providing resources, expertise and volunteer spirit to build a stronger community.

There has been widespread teamwork to end homeless in our community — and that’s paying off, too.

That initiative has involved dozens of organizations committed to providing shelter, stability and safety.

We’re blessed with many community resources. But, to truly make a difference, there needs to be focus.

In many cases, that’s where out two health care institutions factor in.

Yes, these are competing businesses.

But each provides focused, compassionate and collaborative leadership to improve the health of our community.

We’re healthier for it.