Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Author: Owen

Empty Shelves in America

Bare shelves in the land of plenty? Biden’s America.

Stores across America have empty shelves thanks to a series in supply chain problems that are prolonging inflation and could stretch into the new year, with some retailers like Costco and Walmart limiting the amount of toilet paper people in fear that they may soon run out.

 

More than 60 cargo ships are waiting to dock in California, carrying hundreds of thousands of containers, and may be stuck for months in a traffic jam after arriving from China and Asia.  Millions of dollars of American goods are still sitting in warehouses in China, awaiting shipment.

 

There are similar problems with homegrown goods that can’t be transported quickly enough by truckers or on freight trains.

Spy Caught

They are caught dead to rights. Firing squad for traitors.

The FBI says the scheme began in April 2020 when Jonathan Toebbe sent a package of Navy documents to a foreign government and wrote that he was interested in selling to that country operations manuals, performance reports and other sensitive information.

 

Authorities say he also provided instructions for how to conduct the furtive relationship, with a letter that said: ‘I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.’

 

That package, which had a return address in Pittsburgh, was obtained by the FBI last December through its legal attache office in the unspecified foreign country.

 

That led to a monthslong undercover operation in which an agent posing as a representative of the foreign government made contact with Toebbe and agreed to pay thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency for the information he was offering.

 

In June, the FBI says, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Toebbe, describing it as a sign of good faith and trust.

 

Weeks later, federal agents watched as the Toebbes arrived at an agreed-upon location in West Virginia for the exchange, with Diana Toebbe appearing to serve as a lookout for her husband during a dead-drop operation for which the FBI paid $20,000, according to the complaint.

 

The FBI recovered a blue memory card wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on a peanut butter sandwich, court documents said.

 

The FBI provided the contents of the memory card to a Navy subject matter expert who determined that the records included design elements and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors, the Justice Department said.

Appeals Court Sets Aside Lower Court Ruling to Allow Texas’ Abortion Law to Be Enforced

Excellent. This will go through a number of advances and reversals, but hopefully ends with an affirmation that babies are humans endowed with inalienable rights who deserve to be protected.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday night quickly allowed Texas to resume banning most abortions, just one day after clinics began racing to serve patients again for the first time since early September.

 

A one-page order by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the nation’s strictest abortion law, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. It makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

 

“Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents several Texas clinics that had briefly resumed normal abortion services.

She called on the U.S. Supreme Court to “step in and stop this madness.”

 

Clinics had braced for the New Orleans-based appeals court to act fast after U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama, on Wednesday suspended the Texas law that he called an “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion. Knowing that order might not stand long, a handful of Texas clinics immediately started performing abortions again beyond six weeks, and booked new appointments for this weekend.

 

But barely 48 hours passed before the appeals court accepted Texas’ request to set aside Pitman’s ruling — at least for now — pending further arguments. It gave the Biden administration, which had brought the lawsuit, until Tuesday to respond.

Petition to Remove Principal Who Loves Iron Maiden

Sacrilege.

Parents of high school students in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada have started a petition to remove a school official because of the classic heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

 

Close to 400 people have signed the Change.org petition to transfer Eden High School Principal Sharon Burns.

 

IHeartRadio reported that the petition was started by Debbi Lynn.

 

“As concerned parents with impressionable children at Eden High School in St. Catharines, Ontario, we are deeply disturbed that the principal assigned to the school blatantly showed Satanic symbols and her allegiance to Satanic practices on her public social media platforms where all the students can see them under @edenprincipal (not her personal account),” the petition said.

 

On Friday, an update on the petition said they didn’t want to remove Burns because of her love for Iron Maiden but because of “openly displaying her OWN handmade sign with the 666 clearly displayed on it.”

 

The number 666 is used to represent the devil, antichrist, or evil.

Hostile Workspaces

This is a letter in the student newspaper of my Alma Mater:

I am an instructor at Texas A&M, and I have always loved my job. But this semester, the classroom feels like a very unsafe space. In fact, it feels actively hostile.

 

[…]

 

If you walk around campus, enter an academic building or participate in a classroom exercise, you would assume that everything is back to normal. Very few people — students, faculty and staff — are wearing masks. Almost no one is exercising additional social distancing. Northgate bars and restaurants are as crowded as ever. Our football stadium and tailgate venues attract thousands of fans for every home game.

 

Everyone is behaving normally. But things are not normal.

There’s a phrase in Aggieland that says, “Highway 6 runs both ways.” I’m sick of people forcing their fear on everyone else. If this guy (assume it’s a guy… it’s unsigned) is too afraid to teach in that environment, then he can go to another place of employment that takes more precautions. Clearly the vast majority of people are comfortable being mostly normal. We don’t need to all bend our behavior to make the most skittish among us feel better.

And as for this part:

I can’t require my students to wear masks. Our governor and our school have outlawed mask mandates. I can “strongly encourage” mask usage, but students can ignore my encouragement, and many do. Furthermore, every time I encourage the use of masks in the classroom, the atmosphere of the classroom changes. The facial expressions of my students harden. They lean back in their seats and cross their arms. Several of them sneer at me. The belligerence is palpable. It’s uncomfortable. It feels dangerous.

Perhaps they are done taking medical guidance from some rando instructor and are capable of making their own choices.

Classy Response

Last week, in response to a column that I wrote, this guy wrote a letter to the editor accusing me of blaming Biden for the crime wave of 2020. Another letter writer called him out because I never mentioned Biden in the column. I also called him out on this blog. Well, we wrote another letter to the editor today. This is a classy response. Tip o’ the hat to Tom.

Last week I wrote that Owen Robinson said Joe Biden was responsible for the 2020 murder rate, and was called out by Mr. Pete Luehring that Mr. Robinson never said that. I went back and saw that he was right. He blamed it on the Democratic Party’s agenda. I would like to apologize to Mr. Robinson and readers of the Daily News for misconstruing what he said. I would also like to thank Mr. Luehring for correcting me. There is enough misinformation in our country today.

Mea culpa.

— Tom Limbach, West Bend

Wisconsin Republicans Introduce Constitutional Carry

It won’t go anywhere as long as Evers sits in his chair, but dare to dream

MADISON (WKOW) — Two Republican lawmakers from Wisconsin unveiled a Constitutional Carry bill.

 

The bill from Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Representative Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) would allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Right now, a license is required to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin.

The bill’s authors say 21 states already allow Constitutional Carry.

Government Schools Use COVID Money to Buy Goodies

I know you are all shocked that government would waste your money at every level.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — One Wisconsin school district built a new football field. In Iowa, a high school weight room is getting a renovation. Another in Kentucky is replacing two outdoor tracks — all of this funded by the billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief Congress sent to schools this year.

 

The money is part of a $123 billion infusion intended to help schools reopen and recover from the pandemic. But with few limits on how the funding can be spent, The Associated Press found that some districts have used large portions to cover athletics projects they couldn’t previously afford.

 

Critics say it violates the intent of the legislation, which was meant to help students catch up on learning after months of remote schooling. But many schools argue the projects support students’ physical and mental health, one of the objectives allowed by the federal government.

Biden’s Approval Rating Continues to Collapse

Who are these 38% people?

A new poll reveals President Biden’s lowest approval rating yet, as Congress remains at an impasse at the sweeping spend plans that will define his presidency and the threat of debt default loom.

 

Just 38% approve of Biden’s job as president, and 53% disapprove, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University. Three weeks ago, the same poll found that 42% approved and 50% disapproved.

 

Thirty-two percent of Independents approve of Biden while 60% disapprove. Four percent of Republicans approve, 94% disapprove. Still, 80% of Democrats approve of the president’s job overall and 10% disapprove.

Teacher Licensing Doesn’t Improve Teaching

I know… we’re a bit focused on education lately. Our teaching licensure bureaucracies are being leveraged as an instrument of the Left to indoctrinate and propagate that indoctrination. They have very little to do with the quality of teaching.

Meanwhile, researchers have found no difference in performance between certified and noncertified teachers. Super­visors also don’t seem to think licenses mean much: The Aspen Institute has found that just 7 percent of superintendents and 13 percent of principals think certification guarantees that a teacher “has what it takes” to be effective in the classroom.

Indeed, preparation programs frequently seem more focused on insisting that would-be teachers embrace an ideological deluge of “anti-racist” and “social justice” dogma. The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education champions the “integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on Critical Race Theory” and urges them to “resist recent federal attacks.” Accreditation standards for teacher preparation call for candidates to inventory “their personal biases” so as to promote “equity, diversity, and inclusion.” At the nation’s largest teacher-preparation programs, two in five faculty say that their area of study includes equity, race, or diversity — and about a third of these scholars employ a critical-race-theory perspective.

 

While alternative licensure programs may seem a promising workaround, the vast majority of them are owned and operated by schools of education. The schedule and structure of the programs may look different, but the culture, curriculum, and cost of the training don’t meaningfully change. Even programs such as Teach for America, which is inevitably depicted as an “alternative” route into the profession, typically partner with schools of education to license their teachers.

Proponents of teacher licensure frequently offer analogies to medicine or engineering, arguing that professionals in each field need certain essential knowledge and skills. They have it partly right. Those fields do require licenses. But what they ignore is that licensure in those professions signals only a baseline grasp of the requisite knowledge and skills — not that someone will be a “good” physician or civil engineer. Likewise, teacher licensure is a poor proxy for ensuring that someone will be a good teacher. Perversely, though, even as the ed-school professoriate preaches that good teaching is largely a matter of relationships and emotional intelligence, they defend bureaucratic, rigid licensure systems that just aren’t capable of accounting for these traits.

Another year. Another tax increase.

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

The West Bend School Board is about to jack up taxes again to fuel their ever-increasing spending. This is despite rapidly declining enrollment. The good news, for them, is that the electors of West Bend just doubled their pay. It is very easy and rewarding to spend other people’s money.

 

At the annual meting of the West Bend School District’s electors, the school board put forth a resolution for consideration to increase the property tax levy by 7.25% to $47.8 million. The electors, who are just citizens of the district who decided to show up to the meeting, voted to approve the increase. It is not binding, but since it was the school board who drafted the resolution, they will likely approve the tax increase later this month.

 

This has become routine for the West Bend School Board. Irrespective of the state of the economy, the amount of federal stimulus money they received, or the number of kids they are educating, the West Bend School Board increases taxes. They are the proverbial scorpion crossing the river. It is just what they do.

 

The 7.25% tax increase this year is on top of the 6.21% tax increase last year and the 7.15% tax increase the year before. Thanks to the power of compounding, that is a 22% tax increase in just three years.

 

They have to increase taxes to support the increase in spending. This year’s budget increases overall spending by 7.12%. The district will break the $100 million budget threshold with a whopping $103.4 million. The West Bend School Board is continuing to increase spending despite the fact that enrollment in the district is collapsing.

 

According to enrollment figures provided by the school district, there are 5,824 full time equivalent (FTE) students in the district this year. That is a decline of 560 students, or 8.8% in just three years and over a thousand in five years. In the same three years where the West Bend School Board increased taxes 22% (assuming they pass this year’s proposed tax increase), student enrollment has declined by 8.8%.

 

The decline in enrollment has long been forecasted. There is a general decline in the school age population due to demographic trends. The decline has accelerated in some government school districts during the pandemic. Parents who were frustrated with unnecessary school closures and the damaging impact of onerous pandemic response theater moved their kids to private or home schools. But even without the pandemic, the West Bend School Board has known that the district’s enrollment was in for a decade-long decline in enrollment.

 

What has the West Bend School Board done to prepare for the decline in enrollment? Have they lowered expenses in line with lower enrollment? Not at all. Did they scale back staffing? No. Staffing is down about 4% since 2017 despite enrollment being down 26% over the same period. The school board has also voted to give the entire bloated staff substantial pay increases.

 

Have they closed any school buildings that are well below capacity? No. The district has the same number of schools as they have for years. Have they closed the district office and moved into one of the schools to save money? Nope. Have they outsourced non-educational functions to save cost? No. The school board has just kept spending because nobody is standing up and telling them to do anything different.

 

In fact, the electors rewarded the school board members’ spendthrift ways by doubling their pay. A large contingent of district employees and other local liberals showed up in force at the annual meeting to ensure that the tax increase would pass and to double the pay of the school board members. The school board did not propose a pay increase for themselves, but the electors in the room made sure that they got some more tax money in their pockets too.

 

People get the government they deserve. Unless the citizens of the district show up at the annual meeting, at school board meetings, and, most importantly, at their polling sites to elect actual conservatives to the board, this will continue to happen every year. There are no surprises here. These are the consequences of lethargy, bad candidates, and stupid decisions by the district’s citizens.

UW Increases Size of Slush Fund During Pandemic

Just remember these tidbits when they jack up your kid’s tuition and whine about being poor.

After a year of spending cuts driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, fund balances at University of Wisconsin System campuses have grown significantly. Tuition reserves, in particular, have increased by more than 46 percent following years of sustained decreases that put some campuses in financial jeopardy.

 

Tuition fund balances are revenues left over after expenses are paid in a prior campus budget year and used to safeguard against unexpected costs or revenue losses.

 

According to a new UW System report on a variety of balances, unrestricted tuition fund balances in fiscal year 2021 increased to $333.2 million, which works out to an increase of more than 46 percent compared to the $227.3 million held at the end of the 2020 fiscal year. That’s the highest tuition balances have been since 2015. The increase follows years of consistent tuition fund balance declines driven by anger from Republican lawmakers over the size of balances held by system campuses nearly a decade ago.

 

[…]

 

In addition, the UW System got around $575 million in federal stimulus funds during the pandemic. Half of that is slated for student emergency aid. The UW System reports spending about $265 million in federal stimulus funds.

Another year. Another tax increase.

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

The 7.25% tax increase this year is on top of the 6.21% tax increase last year and the 7.15% tax increase the year before. Thanks to the power of compounding, that is a 22% tax increase in just three years.

 

They have to increase taxes to support the increase in spending. This year’s budget increases overall spending by 7.12%. The district will break the $100 million budget threshold with a whopping $103.4 million. The West Bend School Board is continuing to increase spending despite the fact that enrollment in the district is collapsing.

 

According to enrollment figures provided by the school district, there are 5,824 full time equivalent (FTE) students in the district this year. That is a decline of 560 students, or 8.8% in just three years and over a thousand in five years. In the same three years where the West Bend School Board increased taxes 22% (assuming they pass this year’s proposed tax increase), student enrollment has declined by 8.8%.

 

[…]

 

Have they lowered expenses in line with lower enrollment? Not at all. Did they scale back staffing? No. Staffing is down about 4% since 2017 despite enrollment being down 26% over the same period. The school board has also voted to give the entire bloated staff substantial pay increases.

 

Have they closed any school buildings that are well below capacity? No. The district has the same number of schools as they have for years. Have they closed the district office and moved into one of the schools to save money? Nope. Have they outsourced non-educational functions to save cost? No. The school board has just kept spending because nobody is standing up and telling them to do anything different.

Underly Want to take the “politics” out of decision to mandate masks on children

Lefties really hate it when people oppose what they are doing. They like to label any opposition as “politics” and slander the opponents as just engaging in “politics.” Well “politics” is the process by which we publicly debate what we want our government institutions to do. There is a sizable group of stakeholders who do not want to abuse our kids by forcing them to wear masks. They have to engage in politics to make their voices heard by our government schools. When Underly says that she wants to “take the politics” out of the mask debate, what she is really saying is that she wants to silence any opposition. She want you to shut up and do what you’re told.

Underly also had a message for local districts caught in the middle between parents pushing for masks and full COVID-19 mitigation efforts and parents demanding their children not wear masks at schools.

 

“My message to schools is hang in there. The issue itself has just become way too political. We need to remove politics from it. When we take politics out of it, we take the emotion out of it as well,” she said. “We have to take emotion out of some of these mitigation measures and follow the science and do what we need to do to protects kids and staff.”

Politicians Holding on to Relief Money

If this was truly a crisis that required immediate action by our government, they failed at every turn. At this point, just send the money back to our grandchildren.

As Congress considered a massive COVID-19 relief package earlier this year, hundreds of mayors from across the U.S. pleaded for “immediate action” on billions of dollars targeted to shore up their finances and revive their communities.

 

Now that they’ve received it, local officials are taking their time before actually spending the windfall.

 

As of this summer, a majority of large cities and states hadn’t spent a penny from the American Rescue Plan championed by Democrats and President Joe Biden, according to an Associated Press review of the first financial reports due under the law. States had spent just 2.5% of their initial allotment while large cities spent 8.5%, according to the AP analysis.

 

Many state and local governments reported they were still working on plans for their share of the $350 billion, which can be spent on a wide array of programs.

 

Though Biden signed the law in March, the Treasury Department didn’t release the money and spending guidelines until May. By then, some state legislatures already had wrapped up their budget work for the next year, leaving governors with no authority to spend the new money. Some states waited several more months to ask the federal government for their share.

Delta Surge Despite Vaccinations

Vaccinations help, but this thing is just going to keep burning through areas of the world periodically like the flu and other viruses. It’s time to take reasonable precautions and get on with living.

Despite having the highest vaccination rates in the country, there are constant reminders for most New England states of just how vicious the delta variant of COVID-19 is.

 

Hospitals across the region are seeing full intensive care units and staff shortages are starting to affect care. Public officials are pleading with the unvaccinated to get the shots. Health care workers are coping with pent-up demand for other kinds of care that had been delayed by the pandemic.

Another Student Loan Service Provider Quits

You can’t make money and pay your employees if there are no payments to process. Expect chaos if you have student loans.

Major student loan servicer Navient (NAVI) is quitting the federal servicing business, the company announced Tuesday, handing off its 5.5 million borrowers holding about $280 billion in federal student loans to Maximus, another servicer.

 

Advocates and progressive lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) heralded the move, in light of Navient’s troubled relationship with the federal government’s consumer protection bodies.

 

But the departure adds another challenge when the Education Department (ED) looks to end the student loan payment pause in January — especially after four other servicers quit in the past year.

 

[…]

 

With Navient’s announcement, roughly 16.3 million student loan borrowers will be getting a new loan servicer in 2022.

 

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency — which services around 8.5 million student loan borrowers — and Granite State — which services around 1.3 million borrowers — both called it quits in July. Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, which pulled out in October 2020, serviced around 1 million student loan borrowers.

 

The departures come as the majority of the 43 million student loan borrowers across the U.S must start paying their loans again. The payments have been paused, without interest, since March 13, 2020, with the Biden administration recently extending the pause through January 31, 2022.

Warren cheers:

“Navient has spent decades misleading, cheating, and abusing student borrowers. The Federal student loan program will be far better off without them,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a statement.

 

“Ultimately, the student loan system is broken,” she continued. “The only way to guarantee that borrowers do not face the same predatory behavior from Navient’s replacement is to cancel student debt, so that no borrower’s future is held hostage by corporations profiting off their financial distress.”

So…. the federal government took over the student loan program, effed it all up, and now the solution is for the taxpayers to just give the money to college kids? Joe Plumber who never went to college has to pay for the lawyer’s student debt because the government is incompetent?

Maybe some politicians who voted to federalize and screw up the student loan system should have to foot the bill.

West Bend School District Keeps Raising Taxes and Spending with Declining Enrollment

This letter to the editor by Carol Heger takes us back a bit to illustrate the yawning gap between the rhetoric of the current board members and their actions. The spending doesn’t have anything to do with education. It has to do with supporting a political constituency with your money.

On Monday night, Sept. 27th, the West Bend School District (WBSD) held its annual meeting. Once again, the so-called, self-identified “conservative” school board members are proposing to raise the tax levy. This will be the third year in a row, if this resolution is approved, that the school board has increased the tax levy. In the 2019-20 school year, it was raised 7.15%, in 2020-21 it was raised 6.21%, and now the board is proposing a 7.25% increase.

 

In addition, the annual meeting revealed that the district’s gross total expenditures proposed for the 2021-22 school year are to increase 7.12% from $98,504,627 to $103,376,400.  This increase in spending is happening when enrollment has declined about 200 students from 6,034 last year to an estimated 5,824 this school year.  (In the last 10 years, the district has lost about 1,000 students.)  This increase in spending and the property tax increase are happening when the schools all over Wisconsin are flush with federal stimulus funding.

Read the whole thing.

Classic Straw Man

I was amused by this letter to the editor about my column this week:

Being in my late 70s, I thought I had heard just about everything. Then I read Owen Robinson’s column on Tuesday where he blames President Biden for the 2020 murder rate. “Unbelievable.” If you follow that kind of logic then Biden was also responsible for the insurrection at our Capitol. No need for a second impeachment, and President Obama must have been responsible for the “Great Recession” instead of actually ending it. That takes Bush off the hook and now he wants to take Trump off the hook.

 

Readers of the Daily News needn’t worry about reading revisionist history. Robinson has that covered.

Ummm… OK, but here’s my column. I don’t even mention Biden. I wrote about Democrats, but there are Democrats who aren’t a member of the Biden family. It’s a good example of someone who read what he wanted to read instead of what was actually written.

People Will Comply If you Threaten to Bankrupt Them

Shocking. If you coerce people into something by threatening to take away their livelihood, a lot of people will comply. Bullying and coercion works. Entire criminal enterprises have been based on this fact. That doesn’t make it right.

California’s requirement for all health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, which took effect Thursday, appears to have compelled tens of thousands of unvaccinated employees to get shots in recent weeks, bolstering the case for employer mandates.

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