Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Author: Owen

Trump Announces Presidential Run

Meh. I think I’ll pass this time.

Donald Trump has officially announced he is running for president for the third time in 2024 in a speech attacking President Biden, the ‘radical left’ Democrats and their record on the economy and the world stage in the two years since he left office.

 

The former president ignored Republican critics and those who blamed him for the GOP‘s disappointing midterms to go full steam on stating his intent to be back in the Oval Office to ‘drain the swamp’ with the country ‘being destroyed before our very lives’.

 

‘I order to make America great and glorious again, I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,’ he confirmed to huge cheers before laying into the FBI raid, the ‘fake’ dossier’, the ‘deep state’ and lobbyists.

Make government small again

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

As I sit writing this column, it has been five days since the election, and we still do not know the outcome of several critical races. It is unacceptable that our elections have become so sloppy and rife with opportunities for fraud that we can no longer trust that the outcomes reflect the true will of the people. Irrespective of who ends up winning, the losing side will rightfully question the results and the steady erosion of our civic society will continue apace.

 

In the aftermath of another contentious election, I once again find myself lamenting the emotional investment that so many of us have in the outcome. Why does the outcome of this election matter so much to so many people? Why does it matter at such a personal, emotional level? Why do we think that the outcome will have an impact on our daily lives? Why is it so easy to appreciate why people would be willing to risk ruin and cheat in order to bend elections their way?

 

We care so much because it does matter so much, but it shouldn’t. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were not supposed to live our lives so much under the boot of government that every election feels like we are making irrevocable life-altering decisions. If, as Henry David Thoreau said, “that government is best which governs least,” then our government is very far from being the best. 

 

[…]

 

We have allowed our governments at all levels to be too big, too intrusive, too powerful, too coercive, and too corrosive. As long as this is the case, our elections will continue to be battles in a passionate ideological warfare where the combatants are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to win because the consequences of losing are too dire. Such warfare will continue to rend our civic society along the many seams of our polycultural society.

 

If we want a return to normalcy, or, at least, if we want to avoid the inevitable slide into further despotism, we must drastically push our government back to the fringes of our lives. The purpose of our government is to protect individual liberty. That’s it. Nothing more. It is not the purpose of government to manage the economy, dictate our culture, or regulate our personal lives. The longer we allow our government to stray from its purpose, the more our society will devolve into irreconcilable factions that lurch for power.

Layoffs in Tech Sector Continue

It’s rather a small pullback for Amazon, but on top of a lot of other companies in this sector.

Amazon is planning to lay off approximately 10,000 employees in corporate and technology roles beginning this week, according to a report from The New York Times. Separately, The Wall Street Journal also cited a source saying the company plans to lay off thousands of employees.

 

Shares of Amazon closed down about 2% on Monday.

The cuts would be the largest in the company’s history and would primarily impact Amazon’s devices organization, retail division and human resources, according to the report. The reported layoffs would represent less than 1% of Amazon’s global workforce and 3% of its corporate employees.

U.S. Facing Diesel Shortage

This ripples across the entire supply chain.

The U.S. is facing a diesel crunch just as demand is surging ahead of winter — with only 25 days of supply left, according to the Energy Information Administration.

 

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told Bloomberg TV that diesel inventories are “unacceptably low” and “all options are on the table” to bolster supply and reduce prices.

 

However, even as the stockpiles are being drained, the Biden administration seems to be left with very few sustainable options for long-term relief.

Economy On a Bad Path

One guy’s opinion. I’m investing in brass and cordite.

In a letter to clients, Elliott said that while investors look for further easing of financial conditions with a Fed pivot, only a severe recession can cut inflation.

 

Elliott, founded by Paul Singer, says the “world is on the path to hyperinflation, which is the direct route to global societal collapse and civil or international strife. It is not baked, but that is the path that we are treading.”

 

“Investors should not assume that they have ‘seen everything’ on account of experiencing the 1973 to 1974 bear market and oil embargo, the 1987 crash, the dot-com crash, or the 2007 to 2008 GFC,” the fund said.

Biden to Threaten Xi

Could we please not get into WWIII rn, mmmmkay?

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will warn Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting on Monday that North Korea’s continued pursuit of weapons development will lead to an enhanced U.S. military presence in the region, the White House said.

 

The United States is concerned that North Korea plans to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017 and believes China and Russia have the leverage to persuade it not to do so.

 

Biden and Xi are set to hold their first face-to-face meeting as national leaders on the sidelines of a summit of the G20 grouping of countries in the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Population Plateau

I won’t be alive to see it, but the implications are enormous. We have seen how even the slowing of growth and aging of our population is having huge implications on our nation’s politics and social contract. Right now, we already have geriatric politicians fleecing their grandchildren to sustain their way of life.

The UN’s latest projections, released earlier this year, suggest the world will house about 9.7 billion humans in 2050.

“Demographic projections are highly accurate, and it has to do with the fact that most of the people who will be alive in 30 years have already been born,” the UN’s population division director, John Willmoth, says.

“But when you start getting 70, 80 years down the road, there’s much more uncertainty.”

Under its most likely scenario, the UN projects the world population will reach about 10.4 billion in the 2080s.

From there, it’s set to plateau for a couple of decades, before falling around the turn of the 22nd century.

[…]

The magic “replacement number” is 2.1: If women on average have more children than that each, the population of the world grows. If fertility rates are lower, the population shrinks.

And that’s where we’re heading.

“We have now reached peak child,” Dr Charles-Edwards says. “There will never be more children alive on the Earth than there is today.”

Fertility peaked in the 1950s when women were, on average, having five children each.

That number varied dramatically between regions of the world.

But since then, fertility rates have reliably fallen. In fact, in some parts of the world, including Australia, Europe, North America, and some parts of Asia, fertility rates are already below that replacement number.

Piece of Challenger Found

Amazing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A large section of the destroyed space shuttle Challenger has been found buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, more than three decades after the tragedy that killed a schoolteacher and six others.

 

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center announced the discovery Thursday.

 

“Of course, the emotions come back, right?” said Michael Ciannilli, a NASA manager who confirmed the remnant’s authenticity. When he saw the underwater video footage, “My heart skipped a beat, I must say, and it brought me right back to 1986 … and what we all went through as a nation.”

 

It’s one of the biggest pieces of Challenger found in the decades since the acciden t, according to Ciannilli, and the first remnant to be discovered since two fragments from the left wing washed ashore in 1996.

 

Divers for a TV documentary first spotted the piece in March while looking for wreckage of a World War II plane. NASA verified through video a few months ago that the piece was part of the shuttle that broke apart shortly after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986. All seven on board were killed, including the first schoolteacher bound for space, Christa McAuliffe.

Biden Hints at Investigation of Musk’s Relations with Other Countries

It does a breathtaking degree of arrogance to suggest this when Biden has been running a family foreign influence ring for years. Also, consider where we are when the POTUS is saying that we should investigate citizens without any actual evidence of criminal wrongdoing. This is what abuse of power looks like.

One day earlier, President Biden said: “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperations and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at. Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that, I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at and that’s all I’ll say.”

KFC Apologizes for Kristallnacht Promotion

SMH. How does this happen?

KFC has apologised after sending a promotional message to customers in Germany, urging them to commemorate Kristallnacht with cheesy chicken.

The Nazi-led series of attacks in the country in 1938 left more than 90 people dead, and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and places of worship.

 

It is widely seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

The message, heavily criticised for its insensitivity, was later blamed on “an error in our system”.

 

The fast food chain sent an app alert on Wednesday, saying: “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

Construction Halted After Noose Found at Obama Site

So

A noose was discovered at the site of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on Thursday morning, according to the group overseeing the center’s construction.

“This morning, we were informed that an act of hate was discovered at the project site,” Lakeside Alliance said in a statement, adding that operations on the site have been suspended. “We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible.”

 

The circumstances of the discovery weren’t clear. Chicago police didn’t immediately respond to a request for details.

 

[…]

Lakeside Alliance said it was offering a $100,000 reward for help in finding those responsible for “this shameful act.” It is also holding anti-bias training for staff and workers.

First, there’s a 96% chance that this is a hoax. The last 20 years has shown us that this kind of stuff is almost always a hoax.

Second, isn’t the reaction waaaaaaay out of proportion? Let’s say that a worker found a noose and it isn’t a hoax. What is a reasonable response? Maybe call the cops to report it and then go on with your day? Or perhaps just throw it away and get on with your day? But is it really a reasonable response to halt construction, offer a $100k reward, force all employees into sensitivity training, and have the mayor and governor weigh in? How many LEO resources will be committed to this investigation compared to the murders and assaults happening nightly down the street?

Ridiculous.

Legislature must shore up elections

Sorry. We’ve had some technical issues with the blog for the last few days. It appears to be healthy now. Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. Given the disappointing election results, it’s fairly moot.

We have reached the culmination of another tempestuous election season with the capstone of Election Day. Self-governance imposes on us the responsibility of enduring the withering assault of political campaigns before choosing who will carry our priorities into government. Irrespective of the outcome of the election, our civic responsibility is to ensure that our elections are free, fair, and secure. We have work to do in Wisconsin.

 

The reason that some Democrats questioned the results of the 2016 election and some Republicans questioned the results of the 2020 election is because it is too easy to defraud our electoral process in many districts. America’s history is replete with examples of election fraud and cheating. There is little to suggest that the human condition has advanced to the point to think that such fraud is no longer possible. The fact that so many of our elections are decided by so few votes makes the consequences of even a little bit of fraud too dire to tolerate.

 

Wisconsin’s election laws are fairly good compared to many other states’. Voters are required to prove their identities with photo identification; same-day registration helps ensure voter access; and state law requires the regular purging of voter rolls. Unfortunately, the execution of the laws has been uneven and the holes have been exploited by bad actors. Many of the holes in our election process are the result of unclear or ambiguous laws that leave great discretion to state and local election officials.

 

As a general theme, the Legislature should take up the effort to codify specific election rules to ensure that all of Wisconsin’s voters have equal and fair access irrespective of their address. Specifically, the legislature should address the rules regarding early voting. If I had my druthers, I would severely curtail early voting to make Election Day great again, but the public has come to enjoy the flexibility of early voting. If we are to have it, it should be the same for everyone. The Legislature should set standard open hours for early in-person voting and restrict it to established municipal or county facilities like city halls or court buildings. The purpose is to ensure that every voter in Wisconsin knows when and where they can cast an early in-person ballot.

 

In respect to early voting, the Legislature should also prohibit drop boxes of any kind. Every early in-person ballot should be received, checked, and witnessed by an accountable election official. Not only does such a procedure provide a check against fraudulent ballots, but it also ensures that legal votes are not discarded due to clerical errors.

 

Speaking of clerical errors, the Legislature should also completely prohibit the counting of any mail-in ballots that are not legally completed and witnessed. This should not be left to the discretion of clerks.

 

Events last week exposed another hole in the mail-in ballot process when a Milwaukee election official illegally ordered three military absentee ballots to the address of Representative Janel Brandtjen. Current law does not require military voters to register to vote or provide identification to request a ballot. This must be remedied.

 

The Legislature should also prohibit ballot harvesting. This is simply when people — usually political operatives — collect people’s early ballots and submit them en masse. The issue is that there is no security to ensure that a voter’s ballot is cast and it allows for bad actors to intimidate voters. While homogenizing early voting laws will correct for some of this, the Legislature should affirmatively prohibit this practice. There is other work to do. The Legislature should also prohibit private citizens from administering or funding our elections. All elections should be administered by accountable public officials. They should also prohibit the practice of central counting which is more susceptible to fraud or the perception of fraud.

 

The biggest lift for the Legislature is to decide what to do with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The WEC has performed abominably through the pandemic with partisan and illegal actions. The Legislature should abolish it completely and replace it with a bipartisan bicameral legislative committee. That way elected officials will be accountable. By codifying much of the electoral process into statute, the actual duties of such a committee would be severely curtailed.

 

Good elections require a balance of ballot access, ballot security, and transparency. The end goal must be that we have confidence that everyone who is legally allowed to vote can do so, and everyone who is not legally allowed to vote cannot.

Marijuana is the New Tobacco

Huh. Who would have thought that burning one plant and inhaling the fumes into your lungs might have the same impact as burning another plant and inhaling it into your lungs. I expect that one would get similar results if one burned hay and inhaled it into one’s lungs.

Cannabis has been dubbed ‘the new tobacco’ by doctors after a raft of new research revealed it is as damaging to the heart as smoking cigarettes.

 

In regular users, the drug was found to increase blood pressure and heart rate significantly in a similar way that heavy smoking does, according to the results of one study.

 

In the trial, scientists in Canada – where recreational use is legal – gave 21 otherwise healthy volunteers who smoked cannabis frequently a ‘vape’ containing the drug.

A single session of inhaling it was enough to alter the part of nervous system responsible for blood pressure and pulse, according to scans.

 

The changes could be enough to increase the risk of a heart attack in less healthy patients, they warned.

Biden Calls Dissenters “Idiots”

Uniter in Chief and whatnot.

A group of protesters gathered outside the event, carrying signs that read “Socialism Sucks” and “Vote Pro-Life.” Another sign read, “Where’s Nancy,” words allegedly spoken during the incident where Paul Pelosi, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, was attacked with a hammer.

“I love those signs when I came in,” Biden told his audience after defending Social Security and Medicare as a “promise” made to generations of Americans. “Socialism. Give me a break, what idiots.”

Winning the election is just the start

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

The outcomes of elections are always uncertain and replete with surprises, but it is looking more and more like the Republicans are going to do very well next week. If that should come to pass, I fervently hope that the Republicans govern boldly. Winning elections is the goal of politicians. Leaders act to use the power loaned to them by the voters to solve problems for the betterment of our state and nation, and boy, do we have some real problems.

 

The biggest problem facing our nation right now is inflation. There are many other problems, but runaway inflation kills nations. America is not invulnerable to the whirlwind economic forces that inflation unleashes that have obliterated a hundred nations before us.

 

Simply put, inflation happens when there is too much money in the economy chasing too few goods. Prices naturally rise and our dollar buys less than it did yesterday. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the core inflation rate was 8.2% in September and has been in that range since last year.

 

The core inflation rate is misleading because it assumes a basket of goods that is not meaningful to everyone. Inflation hits different goods unevenly. In that same September report, it showed that the price of food is up 91.4%, utilities are up 33.1%, and health insurance is up 28.2%. For people who eat and heat, inflation is hitting much harder than 8.2%.

 

The Federal Reserve has been trying to squeeze money out of the economy by increasing interest rates, but Fed actions are blunted in an era when the federal debt is 125% of our nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and federal government policies are swamping the country with cash. There has been a structural change in our economy where the levers of inflation have shifted to the federal government’s policies and the central bank is relegated to being an interested bystander. Our nation-killing inflation is a policy choice. If we want different results, we will need to make different policy choices. The federal government must dramatically reduce spending to get inflation under control. Reducing federal spending is the surest way to protect Americans’ wealth from the wildfire of inflation.

 

Should Sen. Ron Johnson be reelected, I hope he will use whatever power he has as one of a hundred senators in a bicameral legislature to oppose new spending and pull back existing spending. Lest we become Venezuela or Zimbabwe, getting control of inflation must be our top national priority.

 

At the state level, Wisconsin’s biggest problem is the deplorable state of our government education system. Despite lavish spending averaging over $16,000 per child per year (an increase of 19% in just five years), our kids are learning less than ever. Test scores have plummeted to the point that barely a third of Wisconsin’s kids can read, write, or do math at grade level.

 

Our government education system is not just an embarrassment, it is a generational brutality committed on our own children. We are condemning a generation of Wisconsinites to be less educated, less capable, and more ignorant than we are. We are robbing them of their potential and a lifetime of opportunities. Our state government schools’ failure to provide our kids with even a mediocre education – much less a good education – is a cruelty for which our kids will rightfully condemn us.

 

We are well past a time when tweaks and nudges will fix the problems with our government education infrastructure. It needs substantive systemic changes at all levels.

 

Wisconsin’s Democrats are the party of perpetuating failure. Last weekend, they even held a rally with President Obama at a Milwaukee high school where zero percent of the kids can do math or science at grade level according to the state ASPIRE exam. The only “solution” that Democrats champion for failing government education is to spend more money on doing the same thing. Their policy choices are about perpetuating and funding a solid Democratic voting bloc irrespective of the quality of the education our kids are getting.

 

Should Tim Michels be our next governor, it is imperative that he immediately tackle the task of fixing our government education system with meaningful changes like universal school choice, outcome-oriented funding, and even privatization. It will be hard and will spark the same kind of radical protests that we saw from government school employees when Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10. Our kids and their futures are worth enduring whatever the entitled defenders of the status quo might do.

 

Elections matter. Good governance matters more. Our nation and state have real problems that need real leadership.

Kimmel Brags About Tanking Show to Feed His Vanity

What a tool. A lot of “little people” were negatively impacted by the collapse in ratings and revenue to appease his vanity. ABC execs should be canned for allowing their product to be destroyed.

It appears the execs once spoke to Kimmel about laying off Trump in order to not alienate Republican viewers. Kimmel said ABC execs were right in their apprehension, as he estimates he lost around half of his audience due to Trump jokes.

 

“There was one time, right around the beginning of this whole Trump thing… maybe not quite [eight years ago],” Kimmel said when asked if ABC ever expressed concern to him about attacking Trump. “I said listen, I get it, you’re right. I have lost half of my fanbase, maybe more. Ten years ago, among Republicans I was the most popular talk show. At least according to the research they did.”

Flaming Liberal Spreads Hate in Hoax

Have you noticed how (1) rare that this kind of hate is real, and (2) how often it is a hoax perpetrated by a lefty?

WEST BEND — Michael J. Miecielica, a 38-year-old West Bend man, has been charged for allegedly posting in downtown West Bend notes containing hate speech and threats to Democratic candidates in the Wisconsin gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, as well as sending notes via email to Senator Ron Johnson’s campaign, on Monday.

 

Miecielica was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of computer message- threaten/obscenity by the Washington County District Attorney’s office on Thursday. Each charge is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty upon conviction of a $1,000 fine, 90 days’ imprisonment or both.

 

[…]

 

According to the criminal complaint, Miecielica’s alleged notes contained slurs about the African American, Latin American, Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities and women, as well as referencing hanging Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes from a tree.

 

The notes allegedly contained “88,” which is meant to represent “HH” for “Heil Hitler,” and “14 Words,” which represents a white nationalist slogan about securing a future for white children.

 

According to the criminal complaint, Miecielica claimed that “he was exercising his 1st Amendment Right and said the messages were not what he personally believed in. The defendant said he was a ‘flaming liberal’ and identified as LGBT. The defendant said his intention was to cause a ‘dust up’ to hurt Republicans.”

 

According to the complaint, Miecielica also stated he had a “Master’s Degree in philosophy, so he knew he did not cross the line with his messages.”

Changing Attitudes on China as Xi Reconsolidates Power

This is a long, but very good, article about China, Xi, and the West’s evolving attitude toward them.

Donald Trump’s anti-China message may have been characteristically erratic – with his allegations of unfair trade practices tempered by his open admiration of Mr Xi’s strongman-style – but he used it to rally a disaffected blue-collar base with great effect.

In short, he claimed that trade and engagement had been a bad bet with little to show for it, other than outsourced jobs and technology.

 

His opponents criticised his counter-productive methods and what they saw as his xenophobic language, but the mould had been broken.

 

President Biden has walked back few, if any, of Mr Trump’s policies on China, including the trade war he launched. The tariffs have stayed.

Washington has come to belatedly realise that, far from speeding up political reform in China, trade and technology transfer has been used instead to bolster Beijing’s authoritarian model.

Appeals Court Keeps Rules for Absentee Ballots

Meh.

A Wisconsin appeals court and a circuit judge this week shot down attempts backed by liberals seeking orders that local election clerks must accept absentee ballots that contain partial addresses of witnesses.

 

The rulings come within days of Tuesday’s election and as more than 503,000 absentee ballots have already either been returned or cast in person.

 

[…]

 

Wisconsin elections have been conducted, and absentee ballots counted, the past 56 years without a legally binding definition of what constitutes a witness address on a ballot, Colas wrote in his order.

 

“Since then, until the present, clerks have been legally free to interpret the term,” he said. They have done that in good faith, Colas said, drawing on non-binding guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, its predecessors, and advice from attorneys.

 

Current guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission is that an address must include three elements: a street number, street name and municipality. Rise, Inc., a group that works to get young people to vote, argued that election clerks across Wisconsin are not consistently using that definition.

The ruling is correct. The WEC does not make law. They give guidance and it is up to the local clerks to interpret the statutes for themselves.

But the ruling is not a victory for people who support election integrity (conservatives). It means that clerks in liberal bastions like Milwaukee and Madison will waive all sorts of absentee ballots through irrespective of what is on the envelope and clerks in conservative areas will be sticklers.

This is not for the court, however, to fix. Hopefully the legislature will take up the task of ensuring uniform voting laws throughout the state.

Dead Heat in Wisconsin

Closing arguments underway.

The final Marquette University Law School poll found a tight race for U.S. Senate and a dead-even contest for governor.

 

Fifty percent of likely voters backed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, while 48 percent supported Dem Mandela Barnes. The Marquette poll conducted earlier this month had Johnson at 52 and Barnes at 46.

 

In the guv’s race, 48 percent supported Dem incumbent Tony Evers, while 48 percent backed GOP construction exec Tim Michels. Another 2 percent favored independent Joan Beglinger, who has dropped out of the race, but remains on the ballot.

Earlier this month, 47 percent favored Evers, while 46 percent backed Michels and 4 percent supported Beglinger.

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