Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Author: Owen

Biden’s Border is a Humanitarian Disaster

This is a direct result of the new federal administration’s policies.

The tented camp in the Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, is the temporary home for over 2,000 teenaged children who have crossed the US-Mexico border alone and are now awaiting reunification with family in the US.

Findings from the BBC’s investigation include allegations of sexual abuse, Covid and lice outbreaks, a child waiting hours for medical attention, a lack of clean clothes and hungry children being served undercooked meat.

The BBC has spoken to camp employees about these conditions and seen photos and video smuggled out by staff.

[…]

HHS did not respond to the specific allegations of neglect in Fort Bliss uncovered by the BBC, but says in a public statement that it is “providing required standards of care for children such as clean and comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, toiletries, laundry, educational and recreational activities, and access to medical services”.

 

Culture Clash in Seattle

The cultural intersectional battles in Seattle are coming to a town near you.

Organizers of the black-exclusive event, coined “Take B(l)ack Pride,” advertised that “white allies and accomplices are welcome to attend, but will be charged a $10 to $50 reparations fee (and given a wrist band as proof of payment.” The ad suggested that the funds raised will go towards subsidizing black and brown trans and queer members as well as performers at the parade.

In an interview with National Review, Capitol Hill Pride Director Charlette LeFevre confirmed her group’s rejection of the initiative and clarified their own mission: “We’re all inclusive, not exclusive.”

 

After reading Capitol Hill Pride’s statement, Seattle City Council president and mayoral candidate M. Lorena González decided to withdraw from Capitol Hill Pride’s festival.

 

“I will no longer be attending Capitol Hill Pride after reading their letter to the Seattle Human Rights Commission,” she said.

 

“After a year that has taken an unbelievable toll on all of our communities, I was looking forward to this opportunity to celebrate Pride in person. However, I simply cannot support an organization that is trying to stop Black people in the LGBTQ+ community from celebrating Pride in the manner that they choose,” she added.

Democrats Fail in Federal Takeover of Elections

Excellent.

(CNN)Senate Democrats suffered a loss on Tuesday when Republican opposition sunk their signature voting and election bill during a key test vote, underscoring the limits of the party’s power with the narrowest possible Senate majority.

A procedural vote to open debate on the legislation was defeated by a tally of 50-50, falling short of the 60 votes needed to succeed. Democrats were united in favor of the vote after securing support from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but Republicans were united against it, causing the measure to fail to advance.

Republicans add massive tax cut to budget

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

All told, the two tax cuts inserted into the budget add up to $3.4 billion is tax relief for a wide swath of taxpayers. According to lawmakers, the average Wisconsin taxpayer would see $1,200 in tax savings over two years. That is $900 in income tax savings and $300 in property tax savings. That is real money left in the pockets of real Wisconsinites.

 

The Republican tax cuts were added to the proposed state budget after all of the state government’s government programs had been funded and spending increased. The Republicans voted to increase spending on schools; on higher education; on law enforcement; on shared revenue; on almost everything. The Republicans are advancing a budget that increases spending throughout state government and spends more overall than any other budget in the history of the state of Wisconsin. All of the taxpayers’ commitments have been met – and then some.

 

Yet, despite unprecedented spending, the state is still projected to collect record high taxes. The state government is already going to collect all of the taxes it needs to pay for the record spending. All the Republicans are doing is what any honest cashier would do when a customer accidentally hands them a $20 instead of a $10. They are giving the taxpayers their change back.

 

The Democrats, on the other hand, want to take those record taxes and spend them or redistribute them. In their world view, every dollar spent by a politician in Madison is better spent than if it were spent by a farmer in Allenton or a teacher in Brillion. It is a philosophy rooted in arrogance and avarice.

Stroebel Highlights Cash Raining on Milwaukee Public School District

Senator Duey Stroebel is spot on.

During its final meeting on the budget, the Joint Finance Committee voted to increase general state aid for K-12 schools by $650 million. As a result of this action, the state will fulfill the federal government’s “maintenance of effort” requirement for the $1.5 billion windfall that Wisconsin K-12 schools are set to receive through the most recent COVID-19 spending bill (the American Rescue Plan Act). Absent a veto from Gov. Evers, the state will cover over two-thirds of K-12 funding during the second year of the budget. Two-thirds state funding for K-12 education has been one of the oft-repeated goals of Gov. Evers.

 

Across the three federal COVID-19 spending bills (the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act), $2.6 billion will be provided to K-12 schools. The lion’s share of these funds ($2.4 billion) were allocated through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER funds).

 

Congress directed 90% of the ESSER funds be distributed through a formula based on the number of low-income students residing in each school district. As a result, MPS will be by far the largest beneficiary of the infusion of federal dollars. Per the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, MPS is estimated to receive 38% of these funds, or $797 million. This amounts to an increase of $11,242 per student, which comes in addition to the $15,844 MPS already spends per student. Put another way, the federal funds alone amount to 79% of the $1 billion operations budget approved by the MPS School Board for the 2020-21 school year.

Some in the public school lobby have been quick to characterize the federal COVID-19 funds as “one-time” money that should be given no consideration in the Legislature’s deliberations on the next state budget. However, Congress authorized the third round of funding ($1.5 billion through ARPA) to be spent through September 30, 2024. Moreover, the authorized uses of these funds are very broad.

The MPS School Board is in no position to complain about a lack of taxpayer funding for K-12 education. The sum of these federal funds makes the $87 million property tax increase through 2023 that MPS secured via referendum last year look “paltry.”

UW Applications Rise

Interesting, but I’m not sure it’s very useful information.

MADISON, Wis.—New fall freshman applications for University of Wisconsin System universities are up by about 30 percent over each of the last two years. Moreover, applications by Wisconsin residents, first-generation students, and underrepresented minorities are also up.

The increases are the result of several actions the UW System took over the last 15 months to simplify the application process, including waiving application fees, creating a new EApp (electronic application), allowing students to use a single application for multiple universities, and suspending
the requirement that students take the ACT.

The increase in applications does not necessarily reflect an increase in demand. With free, online applications, I expect that they are getting a lot of applicants who have little interest in actually attending. That seems to be what Tommy Thompson is indicating here:

Thompson cautioned that not all students who apply and are admitted will enroll. However, he said the increase in applications is a positive signal about first-year enrollments.

Here is the real number to watch – enrollment.

Largely due to the pandemic, enrollment was down at UW System universities in fall 2020 by 1.7 percent, according to final figures. That’s less than the national decline of 4 percent for public institutions, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

Milwaukee Alderman Proposes Using COVID Money for Cheap Housing

Without going into whether or not this is a good use of taxpayer money, it is clear that it has nothing to do with the pandemic. The COVID relief bills have very little to do with COVID relief.

The legislation proposes using $150 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act. The city is getting more than $394 million in ARPA funding, and to date it has received an initial infusion of more than $197 million.

 

According to a news release, $105 million would be given to the Department of City Development to rehabilitate the city-owned single-family and duplex homes. The homes would specifically be those that were already foreclosed on because of unpaid property taxes. Renovations would cost $150,000 per home on average. It would provide about 1,000 housing units.

 

Another $35 million would go to the Housing Trust Fund to develop new and renovated affordable housing in partnership with private developers, non-profit organizations and other groups.

 

Another $9 million would be used to increase capacity with various DCD affordable-housing programs. They include, among others, the rental rehabilitation program, homebuyer assistance program and Bronzeville homeownership program.

 

“There are thousands of Milwaukeeans struggling to pay their rent and mortgages, and members of the public frequently expressed their support for the city to invest in and expand affordable housing throughout Milwaukee during three recent town hall-style ARPA virtual listening sessions hosted by members of the Common Council,” Bauman said in a statement. “The ARPA funds are meant to be transformative, to be used for helping communities recover by addressing vital needs. In my view, directly addressing our affordable housing crisis and providing shelter is absolutely what the funding is meant for.”

 

The city owns a substantial inventory of one- and two-family homes that have been acquired through in-rem foreclosure. They are mostly vacant and in various states of disrepair.

Evers Vetoes Education Expansion

Given the utter failure of so many government schools during the pandemic, it is unconscionable that Governor Evers would lock so many kids in failing schools by not allowing them access to the financial resources that taxpayers provide. Taxpayers gladly pay to educate kids, but Evers if forcing them to pay for failed government institutions

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed a bill that would have opened the door to more children going to private school using a voucher paid for by taxpayers.

 

The bill Evers vetoed would have raised the income eligibility for the voucher program to three times the federal poverty level.

 

Conservatives said the change was needed given increasing interest in sending students to private schools during the pandemic, which led many public schools to reduce in-person classes.

 

But the change was opposed by the statewide teachers union and groups representing public school administrators, school boards and rural schools — all traditional opponents of growing the voucher program. Evers said in his veto message that he objects to diverting resources from school districts to private schools.

What to do with a surplus?

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week. I’m glad to see that the legislative Republicans were of the same mind as they pushed a $3.4 billion tax cut into the budget.

A new estimate from Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) shows that Wisconsin state government will collect billions of dollars in taxes above their original estimates. The political wrangling between Republicans and Democrats over this unexpected windfall reveals the yawning divide between the political camps.

 

Whenever the state legislature crafts a budget, they must estimate the taxes that the state will collect. As the national and state economy changes and actual collections are counted, the LFB periodically updates these estimates to inform the Legislature. In January, the LFB issued an estimate for general fund tax collections and made adjustments to them when various state and national laws were passed changing the tax laws.

 

As the state nears the end of the current budget and fiscal year, the LFB prepared its most recent estimate that records “unprecedented” tax collections through May of this year and forecasts that for the time period encompassing the remainder of this fiscal year and the 20212023 biennium will exceed previous estimates by almost $4.5 billion.

 

To put it another way, the state of Wisconsin is projecting to collect the equivalent of $762 more in taxes from every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin than what they thought they would collect a few months ago. While politicians welcome this unexpected surplus, the people actually paying the taxes do not share their joy.

 

Democrats throughout Wisconsin are championing ways to spend the projected tax surplus on more and bigger government. Democrat Governor Tony Evers and legislative Democrats are pushing to pump more money into thinks like the government education system, transportation, welfare, and the normal litany of liberal priorities.

 

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Legislature are championing ways to cut taxes to ensure that the projected surplus never materializes. With the philosophy that it is the people’s money, Republicans are exploring how to make sure that the people never send the money to the state coffers in the first place.

 

The difference in philosophy is stark. Democrats see record tax collections as free money to spend. It is as if they won the lottery and the only question is how they will spend their good fortune. Republicans, for the most part, see record tax collections as evidence that the government is confiscating too much from the people and they should cut taxes to make sure that the government does not over collect.

 

Both parties must remember that an estimate is just that: an estimate. The LRB gave an estimate in January that said one thing. Six months later, they have calculated another estimate based on what has changed since January. In that short time, the estimate went up dramatically based on actual tax collections and an improved economic forecast. An estimate is as good as it can be the day it is written, but change by the next morning.

 

Things change. Economies slip into recessions. War, or the threat of war, can change the economy. Trade policies impact some areas of the economy more than others. Key Wisconsin industries may be disrupted. When politicians make decisions to spend money that is not actually in the bank, they are obligating taxpayers to spend that money whether the projected surplus materializes or not.

The other economic wild card that is rearing its head in Biden’s America is a potential return to double-digit inflation. The trillions of printed dollars spewing out of Washington are having the unavoidable effect of devaluing the dollar. It is a simple principle. If the government is printing currency faster than the underlying economy can absorb it, the value of each dollar decreases. This inflation hits the lower and middle classes the hardest as they see the price of normal goods and services increase faster than their incomes. Inflation has been increasing at the fastest rate in decades and does not show any sign of slowing.

 

As Democrats salivate over spending a projected tax surplus, the families paying for that surplus will also be having their budgets squeezed by raging inflation. It is a budgetary pincer that will squeeze the middle class at a time when the middle class is just recovering from a pandemic.

 

The decisions for the Legislature should be a very simple one. If the state collects more taxes than it planned to, then give it back to the people who paid it. They should not redistribute it to people who did not pay the taxes and they should not spend it on things that make politicians feel good about themselves.

 

Just give it back. It’s not yours.

Man Accidentally Drives Into Pride Parade Killing One

A tragic accident

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday, correcting initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

 

Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The 77-year-old driver was taken into custody, but police said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

But remember how so many people were quick to jump on this to advance a narrative?

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis said. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

Mayor Trantalis should be run out of office for using a horrible accident to accuse people of terrorism and spreading hate in his community.

Biden Freezes Defense Aid to Ukraine on Eve of Russian Summit

The world is getting more dangerous.

In an interview prior to the Biden-Putin summit announcement, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper told the Washington Examiner that the Pentagon was providing a wide range of military assistance to Ukraine.

 

“We are working to ensure Ukraine, in particular, has the resilience it needs to defend itself against acts of Russian aggression, and here we have a very comprehensive training and equipment program,” Cooper said.

 

At the time, the Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia official described assistance including Javelin anti-tank missiles, counter-artillery radars, grenade launchers, and Humvees.

 

Asked if the Russian troop buildup prompted additional military assistance, Cooper said security assistance conversations were ongoing.

 

“We always talk about Ukraine’s requirements, and we’re always evaluating what they need and what the threat environment is,” she said. “It’s a very active and dynamic conversation and continues as such.”

 

Kuleba said talk needs to turn into actual military assistance, something Biden reportedly rescinded ahead of the Putin summit.

 

“Talking is important. However, talking becomes irrelevant when it’s not followed by actions,” the foreign minister said.

China and Iran Evade Sanctions to Fund Iranian Nuclear Ambitions

I guess this is one way China bought Iran’s silence as China commits genocide against the Uighers.

A ‘ghost armada’ of sanctions-busting tankers carrying black-market oil to China is bankrolling Iran’s secret nuclear programme, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

 

The rogue state has almost doubled its fleet sailing under other countries’ flags to 123 in the past year, letting China smuggle in up to a million barrels of oil per day – or two-thirds of the UK’s daily use.

 

Intelligence experts warn that the expanded fleet shows Iran, which announced hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as its president yesterday, is boosting development of its nuclear capability despite international curbs.

 

[…]

 

Iranian vessels are also ‘spoofing’ – manipulating the GPS that reports a vessel’s position so it appears to be elsewhere when it docks undetected in prohibited areas.

 

Satellite imagery provided to the The Mail on Sunday shows ships in the illegal armada allegedly spoofing last month, and others travelling to load oil on to Chinese ships in the South China Sea.

 

Ships also use ‘flag hopping’ to switch their registration between nations and mask their identity.

 

US sanctions designed to stop Iran financing international terrorism and developing its nuclear programme ban the Middle East state from selling oil abroad.

 

But China has flouted the ban and increased its secret dealings at sea over the past six months to help bankroll Iran’s nuclear activity, according to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an international not-for-profit group led by former US ambassador to the UN Mark Wallace.

‘This is why people hate Democrats. It’s cringy.’

Yup. Perhaps if he had cast In the Heights with all white people it would have been the kind of avant-garde show that Hamilton was. The fact that some of you rolled your eyes at the previous sentence is evidence of how unidirectional our public discussion about race is.

Bill Maher on Friday night urged Lin-Manuel Miranda to ‘stop apologizing’ and ‘stand up to the bullies’ after his film In the Heights was criticized for not having enough diversity, with Maher declaring: ‘This is why people hate Democrats.’

 

Miranda’s film, telling the story of a Hispanic community in New York City, was attacked for not having enough Afro-Latino actors.

 

On Monday the Hamilton creator issued a highly-apologetic statement, promising he would ‘do better’ in the future.

 

‘Please, stop apologizing,’ said Maher.

 

‘You’re the guy who made the Founding Fathers black and Hispanic!

 

‘I don’t think that you have to apologize to Twitter! For f***’s sake.

 

‘This is why people hate Democrats. It’s cringy.’

Lockdowns Drive Spike in Opioid Overdoses

When all of the deaths and ruined lives are tallied, I remain certain that the impact of our reaction to COVID will have been much worse than the disease itself.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says there is a seasonality when it comes to opioid overdoses. However, the department did see a growing trend overall across the state in recent years.

 

According to the Wisconsin Ambulance Runs Data System, in 2018 statewide, there were 1,268 opioid overdose ambulance runs in the first quarter of the year. In the first quarter of 2019, that number was 1,208. In 2020, that number jumped to 1,869, and increased further in the first quarter of 2021 to 1,963.

 

When looking at the statewide average number of opioid overdose ambulance runs per month by quarter, the second and third quarters of 2020, and the first quarter of 2021, had the first, second, and third highest numbers in the past three years, respectively. Those quarters correspond with the onset of COVID-19 restrictions and life during the pandemic.

Portland’s Riot Squad Resigns in Protest

Mayhem

Portland‘s 50-person riot squad resigned in protest Wednesday in solidarity with one of their colleagues indicted for striking a photographer they claim was a rioter.

 

The resignations were effective immediately, according to the Portland Police Bureau, and come after the indictment on Tuesday of Officer Corey Budworth, for assault during and incident in which he allegedly struck photographer Teri Jacobs in the head during a riot last August.

 

‘Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,’ the Portland Police Association said in a statement Tuesday.

Here’s my favorite part:

Jacobs says she was attacked despite carrying a press card. She was not charged with any crime, and received a $50,000 settlement from the City of Portland as a result of the baton strike. Cops have continued to insist she was part of a riot which set the a government building alight with a petrol bomb.

Notice that there’s no mention of what news organization she is allegedly a part of – nor did her behavior that night indicate she was conducting journalism. She is an identified activist who was participating in the riot and she got $50k in taxpayer money for her troubles. Yet she seems to think that she should be allowed to riot at will because she was “carrying a press card” – whatever that means. She’s just another entitled urban malcontent who is happy to use the system to cash in as she rails against it.

Wisconsin Republicans Release Tax Cut Plan

It’s a nice start

Legislative Republicans on Thursday announced plans to use Wisconsin’s unprecedented surplus to implement more than $3 billion in tax cuts.

The Republican-authored plan includes cuts to income and sales taxes, and puts in place plans to eliminate the state’s personal property tax, which applies to businesses. Republicans also said their proposal, which was unveiled on the final day of the committee’s budget deliberations, meets federal guidelines for education spending to allow the state to receive an estimated $2.3 billion in coronavirus stimulus funding.

 

[…]

 

The GOP proposal would bring down the income tax rate from 6.27% to 5.3% for individuals making between about $24,000 and $263,000 a year. That change would begin with the 2021 tax year and result in about $2.7 billion in savings over the two-year period, Republicans said.

State Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, who was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers, said there was some concern over the tax bracket being targeted by Republicans, which covers married couples who make between about $32,000 and $351,000.

“It’s a very broad bracket,” Barca said. “It’s almost essentially a flat tax when you get to that level.”

Texas Passes Constitutional Carry

Washington (CNN)Texans will soon be able to carry handguns in public without obtaining licenses or training after the state’s Republican governor on Wednesday signed a permitless carry gun bill into law.

The measure approved by Gov. Greg Abbott allows individuals 21 and older who can legally possess firearms in the state to carry handguns in public places without permits. The legislation is set to go into effect in September.

JFC Approves Broadband Funding

This is dumb.

Republican committee members approved $125 million in borrowing for broadband expansion, along with $4 million over the biennium for broadband expansion grants.

Based on a standard 2.5% interest rate for a 20-year bond, the Republican proposal, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the bonding will cost an additional $35 million in interest.

 

Evers proposed spending about $200 million over the biennium on broadband expansion efforts.

The state Public Service Commission first began awarding broadband expansion grants about eight years ago and has awarded a total of $78 million so far to 279 projects.

Three reasons it’s dumb:

  1. Why borrow the money and pay interest when there is available cash?
  2. Programs like this are built for corruption and graft. Let’s see… government handing out massive grants to select companies to build a commercially unviable infrastructure? Who is deciding the winners and losers in that discussion?
  3. While an argument can be made that it is in the public interest for the government to fund broadband expansion, technology is once again outpacing public policy. Ubiquitous broadband options like Starlink are getting close to viable and will likely be widely available before this infrastructure is built. Instead of giving a big corporation a grant for tens of millions of dollars to run fiber to a farmer in Shanagolden that will be available in four years, we could spend nothing and that same farmer might have gig service in a year anyway. I expect that we are about to lay a lot of fiber that will remain underutilized forever.

Alarming Increase in Suicide Attempts by Teenage Girls

We have done so much harm to our children with our response to the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an alarming increase in the number of suicide attempts by adolescent girls during the pandemic.

 

Between February and March 2021, the number of emergency department visits for presumed suicide attempts was 50.6% higher among girls aged 12-17 compared to the same period in 2019.

 

[…]

 

The data is another piece of the picture showing how much youth have been affected by the pandemic, mentally and emotionally. It also likely underrepresented the true prevalence of suicide attempts among young people, according to researchers. That’s because many people avoided medical settings during the pandemic and children with less severe injuries may have been less likely to seek emergency care.

 

While troubling, the increase in attempted suicides follows a pattern of adolescent girls attempting suicide almost twice as often as males. At the worst point in the winter of 2021, females were attempting suicide at over four times the rate of young males.

Fleeing Blue America

Elections have consequences. It’s a shame that this exodus was not fully captured in the census. Once again, red state representation will be understated until the next census.

The company say Phoenix, Houston and Dallas were the top three cities welcoming new residents while New York City, Anaheim and San Diego in California saw the highest numbers of people leave.

 

The move away from the likes of New York was driven, in part, by an increased fear of living in densely populated cities amid the pandemic.

 

In addition to grappling COVID-19, New York City in particular has also struggled with escalating crime and homelessness in recent months.

 

Police say crime has spiked in Manhattan after hundreds of homeless were rehoused there because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

[…]

 

‘Northeastern states make up four out of the seven states with the most outbound moves, and none of them make the top eight for inbound moves. New York led the way, followed by New Jersey and Maryland. But California edged out Maryland for fourth place on the outbound list,’ the NAMS report concluded.

 

‘Pennsylvania and Michigan also made the list, and both states have made the top 10 fairly consistently for the past few years. Maryland has made the list for outbound moves since 2015, and it has ranked between second and fifth places. In 2020, it took fifth place.’

 

The moving company data showed that states that have much less densely populated areas were a big draw card for people looking to relocate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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