Spring Sandhills-03202019144937 (copy)

During a foraging stop along the shoreline of an ice-covered Lake Wingra in Madison, Wis., a pair of sandhill cranes squawk skyward as another small flock of the migratory birds descends nearby Wednesday, March 20, 2019. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

Let's clear my desk of a few notes I made to myself in recent days.

First, as a critic of big corporations that play havoc with mom-and-pop businesses around the country simply because they can throw their considerable weight around, Walmart has never been one of my favorites.

But, I need to take my hat off to the conglomerate's gutsy move in bucking the National Rifle Association. Walmart announced it would stop selling ammo that can be used in military-style assault weapons, would ask customers not to open carry firearms in its stores and would ask Congress to increase background checks and consider once again banning assault rifles.

The corporation has a fairly large number of guns and ammo customers, so it is taking a chance of alienating them and the NRA, which immediately condemned the decision.

It's decisions like this, though, that will help our weak-kneed politicians to stand up to the NRA, which is starting to lose its battle against any proposal, no matter how common sense, that would control gun trafficking. Plus, having 80% of the people on your side doesn't hurt.

Then there's the story about the Portage Police Department apologizing to its citizens for shooting a wild sandhill crane that supposedly had been pecking at and damaging cars in one of the city's neighborhoods. The neighbors disputed that, claiming the bird was a friendly cuss that often ate out of their bird feeders.

Still, I wondered how come the killing of this particular sandhill crane became a cause celebre when only a few years ago, Republican then-state Rep. Joel Kleefisch proposed an open hunting season on the cranes. He described sandhill crane meat as "porkchops in the sky" and, besides, they were feasting on farmers' corn in his legislative district, which isn't all that far from Portage.

On the other hand, Kleefisch's sandhill crane hunt proposal didn't go over very well, even though it has been endorsed annually by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

But, hunters found out that the public is turned off by an open season on a bird that only a few years ago was near extinction. That's what the Portage police found out, too.

Oh, I shouldn't forget the clipping I've saved about "Toxic Tom Tiffany," the Wisconsin Legislature's most anti-environment member, throwing his hat in the ring to replace U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy in northern Wisconsin's 7th District.

State Sen. Tiffany boasts that he will be a reliable partner in Washington for President Donald Trump, which, he insists, is what the people of northern Wisconsin really want.

And when it comes to the environment, for sure Tiffany will be a major ally for Trump, who has succeeded in rolling back virtually every initiative to battle climate change, protect water and air, and reduce carbon emissions.

He's written legislation benefiting the mining industry over northern Wisconsin's scenic environment, he's sided with the lead paint industry, shielding them from lawsuits to compensate children affected by the poison paint, and he was a major player in former Gov. Scott Walker's war on scientists in the DNR. He's also been caught distributing campaign literature that contains outright lies about opponents.

No kidding. Toxic Tom would be a perfect fit with Donald Trump.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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