2nd Amendment advances as 1st Amendment retreats

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

I am reminded of a comment by Jim Croce: “I don’t care, as long as they don’t be putting their hands on me. I don’t mind people talking and saying different things. Everybody gotta say something.” That pretty well sums up what our attitude used to be about people speaking their minds. Now we are seeing the onset of outrage mobs that seek out people who express opinions with which they disagree and try to destroy them personally and professionally. This is the so-called “cancel culture” where we no longer meet objectionable speech with more speech. Instead, these mobs consider contrary opinions to be so fundamentally immoral that they must not be spoken, and the people speaking them must be ruined to force adherence to the current, if fluid, orthodoxy.

What is even more chilling is that the opinions being canceled are views that were mainstream as recently as a few months ago. Support for law enforcement, standing for the National Anthem, celebrating Independence Day, honoring George Washington, etc. are things that were commonplace and integral parts of the national psyche. Now such views are just as likely to attract an online or physical mob to your doorstep. There has been a very rapid and scary retreat of our collective support for free speech.

Meanwhile, support for the right to keep and bear arms is exploding. I recently witnessed a couple of protest marches in suburban communities. In both cases, firearms were plentiful and visible in the hands of both protesters and counter-protesters. Furthermore, as the mobs and the elected Democrats who support them defund the police and force law enforcement into a defensive crouch, The People are taking the hint and arming themselves for personal protection.

 

West Bend School District Releases Flexible Opening Plan

Excellent.

WEST BEND — The West Bend School District Board of Education shared their plan for the 2020-21 school year with district families and community members on Monday.

[…]

The plan details three educational options for students: fulltime in-person learning, full-time virtual learning through the West Bend Virtual Academy and a hybrid education model combining both in-person and virtual learning.

[…]

Of the survey participants who responded to the question, 3,125 families (69 percent) preferred in-person instruction, 482 families (11 percent) preferred enrolling in WBVA and 850 families (19 percent) preferred the hybrid model.

88% was some form of in-person instruction with 69% wanting normal education – with mitigation, of course.

Illinois Rep Wants to Stop Teaching History

Destroy history so that they can write a new one. I’m all for teaching all kinds of history. I’m a history junkie and read constantly. But those old white guys did some pretty neat things too.

In a press release received by the outlet before Sunday’s event, the state representative called for the “abolishment of history classes” and demanded that the Illinois State Board of Education “take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history” until “appropriate alternatives are developed.”

Sturgis is On

Love the bikers.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Sturgis is on. The message has been broadcast across social media as South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, braces to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.

Though only about half the usual number of people are expected at this year’s event, residents were split as the city weighed its options. Many worried that the rally would cause an unmanageable outbreak of COVID-19.

Extortionists in Louisville

That’s just straight up extortion.

A Cuban restaurant owner in Louisville is slamming Black Lives Matter activists for sending him and other small business owners a list of diversity demands that they were told to meet or risk repercussions like ‘having their store fronts ‘f****d with’.

The letter went out to business owners in East Market District in Louisville, also known as NuLu, during a protest on July 24 that forced some of the businesses in the area to close.

It demanded that businesses employ at least 23 percent black staff, bought at least 23 percent of their inventory from black retailers or make a recurring donation of 1.5 percent of their net sales to a local black charity, and that they should display a sign showing their support for the movement.

It also listed a series of ‘repercussions’ if the businesses didn’t comply which included a boycott, social media shaming, and an ‘invasive reclamation’ whereby black owned businesses with competing goods of services would set up ‘booths and tables’ outside the store fronts.

[…]

Fernando Martinez, who owns La Bodeguita de Mima, claims that one of the activists warned him: ‘You better put the letter on the door so your business is not f*cked with.’

Coronavirus Spending Bill Hits Impasse

Good. May it never see the President’s signature. Let the economy open and we won’t need another flood of borrowed money.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill.

Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said.

“We continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Hopefully that will change in the coming days.”

Don’t Play Politics With Masks

Have you noticed that it is the people who support using the police power of the State to enforce a mask mandate who whine about “don’t make it political?” Using government to enforce something is, by definition, a political act. The people who want to be left alone are only making it political in opposition to the people who have already made it political. 

“I’ve been governor. You can’t play politics. You’ve got to be thinking about the health of the people of the state,” Doyle said.

And it’s particularly rich coming from Jim Doyle. He had no qualms whatsoever about using the power of his office for political gains.

The Tyrant Evers Returns

Boy howdy… I step away from the computer for 36 hours or so and all hell breaks loose. Let’s hope that the legislature will reign in our banal tyrant.

Less than 24 hours after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced a statewide mask order for Wisconsin, Republicans in the state Senate have signaled they have the votes to begin the process of striking it down.

In a statement Friday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Senate Republicans “stand ready to convene the body to end the Governor’s order, which includes the mask mandate.”

“The Governor has caved to the pressure of liberal groups on this,” Fitzgerald said. “How can we trust that the he won’t cave again and stop schools that choose in-person instruction this fall? There are bigger issues at play here, and my caucus members stand ready to fight back.”

[…]

Announced Thursday, the state mask order goes into effect Saturday.

Under the new order, which expires Sept. 28, everyone age 5 and older must wear a face covering when indoors or in any enclosed space open to the public including outdoor bars and restaurants, public transit and outdoor park structures. The order does not apply to people in their private residences.

Hanson: Summer of Cultural Suicide

Victor Davis Hanson does it again. Our nation’s cultural stewards are committing suicide right before our eyes.

Take professional sports. Over the last century, professional football, basketball and baseball were racially integrated and adopted a uniform code of patriotic observance. The three leagues offered fans a pleasant respite from daily barroom politics. As a result, by the 21st century, the NFL, NBA and MLB had become global multibillion- dollar enterprises. Then hubris ensued. The owners, coaches and players weren’t always racially diverse. But that inconvenient truth did not stop the leagues from hectoring their fans about social activism — even as they no longer honored common patriotic rituals. All three leagues have suffered terribly during the viral lockdown, as American life mysteriously went on without them. And they have almost ensured that they won’t fully recover when the quarantine ends. Many of their oftenpampered multimillionaire players refuse to honor the national anthem. In the NFL they now will broadcast their politics on their helmets. They will virtue-signal their moral superiority to increasingly turned-off fans — as if to ensure that their sources of support flee.

[…]

Professional sports, universities and the motion picture industry all know that what they are doing is bad for business. But they still believe they are rich and powerful, and thus invulnerable. They also are ignorant of history and cannot be persuaded that they are destroying themselves.

At this late date, all that matters is that the country itself learns from these suicidal examples and heals itself. If the U.S. is not to become an extinct Easter Island, it must rediscover a respect for its past, honor for the dead who gave us so much, the desire to invest rather than spend, and a need for some sense of transcendence.

If we do not believe that what we do today has consequences for our children after we are gone, there are ancient existential forces in the world that will intervene.

And it won’t be nice.

Inmates Save Guard

What a great story about human compassion in even the most trying of circumstances. Huzzah!

Three Georgia inmates have been credited with saving the life of their guard who suffered a heart attack outside their cell doors.

Mitchell Smalls, Terry Lovelace and Walter Whitehead all rushed to Deputy Warren Hobbs’ aid when he fell unconscious at his desk in Gwinnett County Jail.

Smalls first alerted the rest of the inmates to the emergency by banging on his door. Lovelace and Whitehead then rushed to Hobbs’ side after the deputy managed to unlock their cell door.

Footage shows as Smalls raises the alarm after spotting Hobbs was in trouble by banging on his cell door. Fellow inmates then join in to make as much noise as possible in a call for help.

That noise seems to pull Hobbs conscious again and he managed to unlock the cell of Lovelace and Whitehead who are seen running from their room to help the deputy.  They then called for help using a phone and Hobbs’ radio.

Grafton Schools Open

Excellent!

GRAFTON — It’s up to Grafton School District families whether they want their kids in the classroom this fall or if they want to keep them at home. The Grafton Board of Education went through the district’s fall reentry plan this week, which shows that both in-person classes for the full week and virtual learning will be offered. And of course there will be noticeable changes that students will see when they get back to their respective buildings.

“I have no profound statement or thoughts relative to the action we’ve just taken … this is truly uncharted territory that will have a profound impact on students and staff and on the community,” said board President Paul Lorge Monday night.

The re-entry plan shows that for students in grades 4K-5 that opt for virtual learning, each pupil will be assigned a homeroom teacher. Live virtual learning will be offered for core subjects and asynchronous instruction will be offered for noncore subjects. This involves recordings for independent learning at any time.

For students in grades 6-12, classes will be livestreamed for virtual students, who can tune it at their normally scheduled times. Canvas will be their primary method of accessing classwork and assignments and virtual students may be assigned alternative activities.

From Aug. 2 to Aug. 12, parents will be asked to select whether they want online or in-person learning.

State needs leadership to navigate budget shortfall

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week:

Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets as state tax collections decline with the state’s economy. Already, various interest groups are making the case for why their piece of the pie should be excluded from budget cuts and the lobbyists are out in full force. The next several months are going to require real leadership.

When Governor Evers shut down the state’s economy with his original lockdown order, he also turned off the tax spigot for state government. Without people able to go to stores, restaurants, concerts, etc., the collections of sales taxes plummeted. Collection of the sales tax requires people to spend money in our economy. People were forbidden to shop, but many people also pulled back their personal spending as their own jobs and incomes were impacted. Even as the state opened, the job losses, reduced incomes, and uncertainty has depressed consumer spending and sales tax collections.

Like the federal government, the state of Wisconsin also delayed the income tax filing deadline to July 15. This had the practical effect that many people who were expecting refunds filed earlier than those who expected to pay, causing further strain on state tax flow. But the real impact on income taxes will not be felt until next year. 2019 was a bumper year for personal incomes and employment. 2020 is not.

The state sales and income taxes are the two largest sources of state tax revenue, but there are countless other taxes and fees that are being impacted by the government-imposed recession. The net result is that Governor Evers is anticipating at least a $2 billion shortfall in state tax collections over the next year. The governor’s estimate may be decidedly optimistic.

To put that in perspective, the state government planned to spend about $41 billion in this fiscal year. A $2 billion shortfall would represent about a 5% reduction. However, much of that spending goes to things like welfare, K-12 education, shared revenue for municipalities, the University of Wisconsin System, and things that are not under the direct control of state government officials.

Here is where the leadership comes in. Governor Evers has called on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets. As you may have noticed, $250 million is merely a down payment on the cuts that will be necessary to finish the fiscal year without a massive deficit. More cuts will be needed.

If there is one thing that any good manager knows, it is that small changes made now prevent much larger changes being necessary later. The governor has already waited too long. We knew that there would be huge budgetary implications when he locked down the state. Here we are at the end of July and he is just now asking agencies for their ideas? How long will that take for the agencies to submit their revised budgets, vet them, and implement them? Weeks? Months? The longer the governor sits around waiting to make changes, the more drastic those changes are going to have to be.

For example, the state of Wisconsin employs about 65,000 employees, including employees of the UW System, earning a median income of about $52,000. If Wisconsin implemented a 10% pay reduction for all state employees, it would save the taxpayers roughly $28 million per month. Private employers have been forced to implement such cuts and worse. In this case, it would be a 10% cut in pay and everyone keeps their jobs. Many private-sector employees, and taxpayers, fared much, much worse.

If Governor Evers had implemented a universal 10% cut in March, when he implemented his lockdown order, the state would have already saved over $112 million – almost half of what he is asking state agencies for not. That is $112 million that that will still have to be cut before the fiscal year is over, but because Governor Evers has failed to act, it will hurt a lot more.

Every day that state leaders sit around waiting for to make decisions, those decisions will be dictated to them by events. Wisconsin needs leadership. Now.

 

West Bend Police to Send Officers to Milwaukee for Convention

Call me less optimistic than Chief Meuler about Milwaukee officials supporting the police. I’m very wary of putting West Bend’s finest in harms way to protect another city’s residents. Perhaps some other city leaders will weigh in.

West Bend Police Chief Kenneth Meuler said he remains committed to sending about a dozen officers for the effort.

“I am confident that Chief Morales and city officials will work out an agreement to address the concerns that some of the other chiefs have raised,” said Meuler, a former Milwaukee Police Department captain.

COVID Economy Causing Famine

When some of us talk about balancing the risks of Coronavirus with the negative implications of shutting down our economy, these are the kinds of things we are trying to prevent. Far more people are going to die from the economic shutdowns than will ever die from COVID-19. But please, tell me how you care about the kids.

All around the world, the coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.

Further, more than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the U.N. — malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.

[…]

The rise in child deaths worldwide would reverse global progress for the first time in decades. Deaths of children younger than 5 had declined steadily since 1980, to 5.3 million around the world in 2018, according to a UNICEF report. About 45 percent of the deaths were due to undernutrition.

[…]

“By having schools closed, by having primary health care services disrupted, by having nutritional programs dysfunctional, we are also creating harm,” Aguayo said. He cited as an example the near-global suspension of Vitamin A supplements, which are a crucial way to bolster developing immune systems.

[…]

Some of the worst hunger still occurs in sub-Saharan Africa. In Sudan, 9.6 million people are living from one meal to the next in acute food insecurity — a 65% increase from the same time last year.

Lockdowns across Sudanese provinces, as around the world, have dried up work and incomes for millions. The global economic downturn has brought supply chains to a standstill, and restrictions on public transport have disrupted agricultural production. With inflation hitting 136%, prices for basic goods have more than tripled.

“It has never been easy but now we are starving, eating grass, weeds, just plants from the earth,” said Ibrahim Youssef, director of the Kalma camp for internally displaced people in war-ravaged south Darfur.

Slinger Schools to Open

From the Washington County Insider. This isn’t exactly how I would have done it, but it strikes me as a reasonable compromise that achieves the goal of educating as many kids as possible.

Superintendent Daren Sievers made a brief statement (43:00 mark) prior to reading the administrative recommendation. “We are trying to find the right stance to make school safe as possible and have school remain open,” Sievers said. “Using the words require means the district would need to specify consequences and articulate all the exceptions. The Washington Ozaukee Health Department uses the word recommend.”

Superintendent took all the feedback and presented a draft proposal – advocating for masks whenever possible. Below is the exact wording. The recommendation passed unanimously.
“To provide the safest educational setting possible and stay open five days per week as long as possible, the Slinger School District is requesting that students wear face coverings whenever social distance cannot be maintained.  To account for individual needs and personal circumstances of all kinds, we will be asking families to opt their student “in” to the District face covering request or opt their student “out” of the District face covering request through our fall registration process.  Staff will be required to wear masks whenever social distance cannot be maintained but out of respect for their personal health circumstances, they may not get closer than six feet to students who are not wearing face coverings.  Face coverings will be made available for situational use by the District for all students at all times.”

Police Avoid Milwaukee Amid Dangerous Restrictions on Use of Force

Of course, Morales has an ax to grind, but I have no doubt this is going on. If you are a police chief in West Bend, for example, do you want to send your officers to Milwaukee where they are forbidden from using reasonable means to control riots? Do you want to get your officers injured or killed just to help out Milwaukee?

The city’s decision came before Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission issued a directive last week to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales to stop using tear gas to control crowds, saying he could be fired if he refused. That order came amid intense scrutiny of police tactics at protests in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.

Since the Milwaukee order was issued, more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and across the country decided against coming to Milwaukee, Morales told WTMJ-TV on Tuesday. They were concerned with directives placed on the police department, including not allowing tear gas or pepper spray, he said.

Morales did not say which agencies would not be coming or how many officers were still expected. The original plan was to have 1,000 officers on hand from outside agencies to assist with security. Morales said using the National Guard or enlisting federal assistance was under consideration.

The convention has been scaled down to a mostly virtual event, with only about 300 people expected to attend in-person. Most of the speeches will be delivered online from other locations, though former Vice President Joe Biden has said he will be in Milwaukee to accept the nomination. Despite the event’s smaller scale, police are preparing for potentially large protests in and around the venue.

State needs leadership to navigate budget shortfall

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I continue to be frustrated by the lack of leadership in Madison. We all KNOW there is, and will be, a huge budget shortfall, but nobody is actually doing anything about it. The result will be a big budget repair bill – probably in January – where they are making huge, painful, cuts. Those huge, painful cuts will be necessary because they are failing to make small, less painful, cuts today. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to make large cuts in government, but the crying and wailing you will hear in a few months is completely avoidable.

Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state agencies to cut $250 million from their budgets as state tax collections decline with the state’s economy. Already, various interest groups are making the case for why their piece of the pie should be excluded from budget cuts and the lobbyists are out in full force. The next several months are going to require real leadership.

[…]

For example, the state of Wisconsin employs about 65,000 employees, including employees of the UW System, earning a median income of about $52,000. If Wisconsin implemented a 10% pay reduction for all state employees, it would save the taxpayers roughly $28 million per month. Private employers have been forced to implement such cuts and worse. In this case, it would be a 10% cut in pay and everyone keeps their jobs. Many private-sector employees, and taxpayers, fared much, much worse.

If Governor Evers had implemented a universal 10% cut in March, when he implemented his lockdown order, the state would have already saved over $112 million – almost half of what he is asking state agencies for not. That is $112 million that that will still have to be cut before the fiscal year is over, but because Governor Evers has failed to act, it will hurt a lot more.

Every day that state leaders sit around waiting for to make decisions, those decisions will be dictated to them by events. Wisconsin needs leadership. Now.

Violent Perpetrators Who Beat Senator Carpenter Are Arrested

Yikes.

Two women were arrested Monday on tentative charges of substantial battery for the attack on state Sen. Tim Carpenter during a protest last month, Madison police reported.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the two Madison women — Samantha Hamer, 26, and Kerida O’Reilly, 33 — turned themselves in Monday afternoon.

Carpenter, D-Madison, was beaten after taking a video of protesters the night of June 23 along the 200 block of West Main Street.

Earlier in the evening, protesters told members of the media to leave the scene and demanded that observers not take photos or videos during the demonstrations that night, which included tearing down two statues on the Capitol grounds and throwing a Molotov cocktail into the City-County Building.

Hamer is a social worker in the Mt Horeb school district. O’Reilly appears to be a physical therapist (I wonder if Carpenter would agree!) who, “loves spoiling her cats, adventuring in nature, listening to podcasts, dancing in her kitchen, and playing tabletop games.” You just wonder about how seemingly normal people in solid careers work themselves into such a frenzy that they allegedly violently attack an old man.

Madison Police Union Has No Confidence in Mayor it Endorsed Just Last Year

Perhaps they should be more discerning with their endorsements. Rhodes-Conway’s leftist proclivities were well known.

MADISON (WKOW) — The Madison Professional Police Officer’s Association has approved a declaration of ‘no confidence’ in the leadership of Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

The board of directors said the vote was ‘resolute’ with more than 95 percent of the association’s voting membership returning a vote of “no confidence,” according to a news release.

“The MPPOA did not make this decision easily or in haste,” board members said in a statement.

“Instead, our vote of no confidence is the culmination of many months of frustration in the absence of effective leadership from the mayor.”

Board members said that they had a recent meeting with Mayor Rhodes-Conway in which they say she effectively declined to help them meet with community groups and members to facilitate conversation, asking them instead to use their voice.

Back in March 2019, the MPPOA announced their endorsement of Rhodes-Conway for Mayor.

Grenade in Goodwill Box

Whoa!

On Monday, July 27, 2020 at 10:15 AM an employee at Goodwill discovered a grenade in a donation box and called the West Bend Police Department. West Bend Officers arrived and confirmed the device was a grenade. Officers immediately assisted in safely evacuating the store and securing the surrounding area. The West Bend PD contacted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and requested assistance from their Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit. Members of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department EOD Unit responded and determined the grenade was a live device. Deputies assigned to the EOD Unit rendered the grenade safe, and transported it to safely dispose of it.

FYI, this not the appropriate way to dispose of or donate your live ordnance!