Category Archives: Culture

No Protests Because Buttigieg is Gay

How many times have you read a story like this? Gay/Trans/Liberal/Minority/whatever goes to a conservative area expecting to find hate and instead finds genuine, caring, loving people? And yet, when a prominent conservative goes to a liberal area, you can almost guarantee that there will be protests and, occasionally, violence. Liberals tend to project their hate and assume that conservatives act the same way they do.

“What you need to realize with Sioux county is there’s a very strong religious flavor there, from their courts to their public squares,” said Ned Bjornstad, a former elected prosecutor in north-west Iowa turned veteran defense attorney who practices regularly in Orange City. “For a candidate like Buttigieg, I’d expect protesters.”

There weren’t any.

National Archives Alters Protest Signs

That’s not cool. The Archives should actually, you know, archive the truth.

The National Archives acknowledged this week that it altered a photograph of the Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, to blur some signs held by marchers that were critical of the president.

Among the alterations are the blotting out of the word “Trump” in a placard that reads “God Hates Trump,” and the blurring of the same word in another sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.” Words on other signs referencing female anatomy were also altered.

The Archives said the decision to obscure certain words was made as an exhibit featuring the march was being developed. It said the archivist, David Ferriero, who was appointed by former President Obama in 2009 and who was involved in the talks, supports the decision.

“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in a statement to The Washington Post.

“The Bill Clinton of Cities”

Ouch.

“San Francisco has squandered its place in the sun,” said John Price, CEO of the genetic engineering company Greffex Inc. “San Francisco is the Bill Clinton of cities. It squandered itself with its flaws.”

Majority of Americans Are Full of Envy

Envy is a destructive emotion.

But it may have broad public support, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that found nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that the very rich should pay more.

Among the 4,441 respondents to the poll, 64% strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs” – the essence of a wealth tax. Results were similar across gender, race and household income. While support among Democrats was stronger, at 77%, a majority of Republicans, 53%, also agreed with the idea.

A wealth tax is levied on an individual’s net worth, such as stocks, bonds and real estate, as well as cash holdings, similar in concept to property taxes. It is separate from an income tax, which applies to wages, interest and dividends, among other sources.

The Property Tax started out as a tax only on wealthy landowners. The Income Tax started out as a tax on the very wealthy. If the U.S. imposes a wealth tax on the wealthy, it will reach into the pockets and savings of the middle class within a generation.

Furthermore, a wealth tax is pure redistributionism. It is using the violent power of government to take from some people to give to other people. It is the not just wrong. It is immoral.

Yes… yes… feeeeel the hate flow through you… push those nasty traditional liberals and moderates out of the party… leave only the communists…

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview published Monday that Democrats nationwide can cultivate “too big of a tent,” asserting that she and her party’s 2020 frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, would be in different political parties in any other nation.

Asked for a profile by New York Magazine about what role she might play as a member of Congress should Biden capture the White House, the freshman House Democrat from New York responded with a groan.

“Oh God,” she said. “In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are.”

[…]

“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to find a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives. That is too much for me,” Ocasio-Cortez said, after Reuters had reported that Biden was crafting a “middle ground approach” to combating the global threat.

No Meat at the Golden Globes

That settles it. I’m not going.

The feast will be plant-based, a decision made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association out of concern for climate change. The group is the nonprofit organization that gives out the Globes to movie and TV luminaries.
Of course, all of these celebrities will fly in on private jets, arrive in limos, and be wearing clothes stitched together by children in Indonesia, but CLIMATE CHANGE! Gag me.

Population Shifts

Interesting data from the BizTimes.

Most of Wisconsin’s population gain in the last year came from its natural increase with 63,712 births outpacing the state’s 50,393 deaths. Total net migration added another 1,903 people with a net gain of 3,341 internationally offsetting the net loss of 1,438 people domestically.

Since 2010, Wisconsin has seen a net loss of 12,755 people through migration with the loss of 72,006 residents domestically outpacing a gain of 59,251 from outside the U.S.

Every Midwestern state except North and South Dakota has seen a net loss off domestically. Illinois has lost 865,873 residents to other states while adding 242,945 from outside the U.S.

 

Remember… Chip Your Pets

In a country near you.

The consultation is looking into the effects of making the move mandatory on owners, rescue centres and on cats. The closing date for evidence is January 4.

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: ‘This Government has always urged cat owners to microchip their pets as the right thing to do as responsible pet owners and is now taking steps to introduce compulsory cat microchipping to give pet owners peace of mind, help tackle cat theft and identify cats injured or killed on roads.’

Zac Goldsmith, animal welfare minister, added: ‘Microchips are often the only hope of reuniting lost pets with their owners so it truly is the best New Year’s resolution you could make to protect your furry friend in 2020.’

Since compulsory dog microchipping was introduced, 92 per cent of dogs are now microchipped. It is only mandatory for cats involved in the Pet Travel Scheme.

Changes to Nutritional Labels

Because American education is failing so badly that we can’t be expected to do math.

On Jan. 1, the Food and Drug Administration’s new nutrition labeling rules kick in, ushering in a host of changes to the way that manufacturers are required to label packaged foods.

Perhaps most notably, new guidelines require two side-by-side columns: one with nutritional information for a single serving, and a second with information for eating the entire package.

2020 Doomsday Predictions that Never Happened

This is fun.

1. The U.S. may warm 6 degrees F from 1990 to 2020

2. Oil will effectively run out by 2020

3) By 2020, no glaciers will be left on Mt. Kilimanjaro

4. A billion people will starve due to missing the tech revolution

5. By 2020, “millions will die” from climate change

2020 is nigh

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. Of course, 2020 is no longer nigh. It is here. Happy New Year!

Whenever the end of something is upon us, whether it be a day, year, or a decade, it is a natural time to reflect. As a child, I could swear that someone promised me a flying car by 2020. We have not quite made it to that utopian transportation option, but we have come a long way since this decade began.

The state of Wisconsin was a completely different place in 2010. Democrats had controlled both houses of the Legislature for two years and the governor’s office for eight years. The state was facing yet another multibillion-dollar budget deficit. Taxes had been increasing for years. The state economy was stagnant. The crushing regulatory burden was driving businesses out of the state, public employee unions pulled the strings in Madison, and citizens were denied their Second Amendment rights. It was a dark time for the state.

The people of Wisconsin had had enough and swept Republicans into legislative majorities and elected Gov. Scott Walker. Republicans would remain in power for the next eight years and ushered in a bevy of conservative reforms. They cut taxes, reduced the spending increases (unfortunately, they did not cut spending), reduced regulations, empowered people over unions, and expanded the exercise of civil rights. The results speak for themselves. Compared to 2010, Wisconsin has lower unemployment, higher labor participation, higher wages, more businesses investing in the state (including a rejuvenated tech sector), lower taxes, more protections of civil rights, and has knocked off its “Rust Belt” national reputation. The teen years were very good to Wisconsin.

At the national level, the decade began with a political upheaval. After ramming through Obamacare in late 2009, the public responded by sweeping Republicans into control of the House of Representatives, thus mitigating the damage of President Obama’s administration. By the second half of the decade, the improbable election of President Donald Trump ushered in a new era of populist antiestablishment governance that has upended the old political order. As we closed the decade with the unjust impeachment of the president, we are beginning the new decade in as much upheaval as we began the previous decade.

In the lives of everyday Americans, the decade was pretty good to most people. The Dow Industrial Average was hovering around 10,500 when the decade began, but will finish this decade at

around 28,500. Home values are up, inflation has been virtually nonexistent, wages are finally rising after years of stagnation, and jobs are plentiful. Technological advances have made life more convenient than ever. It is safe to say that as 2020 begins, Americans enjoy the most affluent, safest, comfortable, highest quality of life in the history of our species.

On a personal level, much has changed over the decade. I began the decade with four kids in the house, a busy bleacher schedule, and a full head of hair. I begin the next decade on the cusp of an empty nest, a grandchild, and the fading memory of owning a comb. It seems that nothing can resist the withering assault of time.

Looking back gives on the benefit of perspective. The further one looks into the past, the fewer things rise to the level of importance. One might consider several events in a previous decade to be important, but only one in a long-ago century. Some centuries seem to elude any level of importance altogether except that they are wedged as a bridge between more important centuries. Perhaps it is only when the lens is pulled back that the important things can come into focus.

I keep a quote by Goethe on my desktop that says, “life is the childhood of our immortality.” It is a reminder that this instant; this time; this life; is merely the foreword of a much longer, much more important story. We should laugh for no reason (or any reason), eat the candy, love without reserve, get dirty, play with the bubble wrap, make the stupid joke, and enjoy each moment. Yesterday does not hold dominion over us and tomorrow is not promised. Today is a gift to be opened with childlike joy.

Extreme Poverty Halved in Past Decade

Wow. Amazing.

Data shows that inequality has increased over the last decade with an increasing number of rich people in the global one per cent who have generated more wealth, while extreme poverty has halved.

Extreme poverty measured by the World Bank as those living on less than $1.90 per day has halved over the past decade

Extreme poverty measured by the World Bank as those living on less than $1.90 per day has halved over the past decade

Statistics from the World Bank and World Poverty Clock show that rates of extreme poverty have been halved over the past ten years, from 15.7% in 2010 to 7.7% now.

They also show extreme poverty in China has almost been entirely eradicated.

The number of people living on less than $1.90 per day, which is the World Bank’s threshold for ‘extreme poverty’, in areas including South Asia and Latin America have fallen dramatically, according to the data.

The trend does not hold true in sub-Saharan Africa, however, where overall poverty rates have risen to higher than a decade ago, partially due to a rapidly-growing population.

2020 is nigh

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. It is difficult to let a decade end (don’t start with me about the decade not actually ending until next year) without a bit of retrospective and reflection. Here’s a bit of navel gazing.

Looking back gives on the benefit of perspective. The further one looks into the past, the fewer things rise to the level of importance. One might consider several events in a previous decade to be important, but only one in a long-ago century. Some centuries seem to elude any level of importance altogether except that they are wedged as a bridge between more important centuries. Perhaps it is only when the lens is pulled back that the important things can come into focus.

I keep a quote by Goethe on my desktop that says, “life is the childhood of our immortality.” It is a reminder that this instant; this time; this life; is merely the foreword of a much longer, much more important story. We should laugh for no reason (or any reason), eat the candy, love without reserve, get dirty, play with the bubble wrap, make the stupid joke, and enjoy each moment. Yesterday does not hold dominion over us and tomorrow is not promised. Today is a gift to be opened with childlike joy.

Criminalizing Jerk Parents

This is bad law.

State Rep. Don Vruwink, D-Milton, has experienced that firsthand. He’s been officiating since the 1970s. Referees and umpires face more hostility today than they did when he was starting out behind the plate, he said. Vruwink is co-sponsor of a new bill in the state Assembly that aims to address the problem.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, could make it a criminal misdemeanor to harass or intimidate a sports official in Wisconsin.

Vruwink said the bill’s purpose is to help address the national shortage of youth and amateur sports referees, which hasn’t spared the state.

[…]

Reports of confrontations and assaults on officials are increasing, said Dave Anderson, executive director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).

WIAA pushed for the legislation to be drafted, while NASO, the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has also expressed support for it, according to a WIAA news release.

Anderson emphasized that the purpose of the bill isn’t to have parents arrested.

“The last thing anyone really wants to see is somebody to go to jail or going to prison because of their inability to control emotions in a kids’ basketball game,” he said.

Rather, it will serve as a tool to make the environment more comfortable for referees and umpires at a time when it’s critical to retain them, he said. Anderson said the legislation will not only benefit WIAA’s member high schools, but also younger kids who play sports and adults who participate in recreational leagues.

There is no question that there has been a general decline in decorum at youth sports events. However, criminalizing the behavior is not the answer. There are already laws against assault or disorderly conduct. If a parent goes that far, then those laws can be used. This bill is an effort to criminalize behavior that falls somewhere below the threshold of those laws. The bill is attempting to criminalize being a jerk. While nobody likes jerks at games, it is a bad idea to begin hauling those parents off to jail.

Wisconsin’s Declining Birth Rate

Policy makers need to get ahead of this. Every school district in Wisconsin is just whistling in the dark pretending that this won’t impact them… or hoping they will be out of office when it does. The taxpayers will be left holding the bag, as usual.

One reason is that women are delaying motherhood.

Instead of starting a family in their early 20s, they are waiting longer. From 2007 to 2017, the median age of a mother having her first-born child rose from 24 to 26. And many are holding off starting a family until their 30s, according to the report. That segment of mothers has actually increased.

However, that rise in births is countered by a large drop in teen pregnancies and millennials leaving the state. The latter could signal long-term challenges for Wisconsin and other states if the trend continues.

The report states this could have significant consequences for economic growth and for the funding of major federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Since 2007, Wisconsin’s birth rate has declined 12 percent. That’s about average compared to other states, except for North Dakota and the District of Columbia which saw increases.

“There’s a chance Wisconsin could actually see a situation where deaths exceed births, which would be unprecedented in the state,” said the report’s author, Dale Knapp.

The state’s fertility, the rate at which women ages 15 to 44 give birth, went down in 2007 with the Great Recession. When unemployment is high, people generally put off having kids until job prospects improve.

The declining birth rate not only has ties to the economy but schools as well. Because state funding is generally tied to enrollment, declining enrollment can mean fewer resources.

Armed Congregants Thwart Killer

Had it not been for an armed resistance, this could have been much, much worse. In the video, I count four armed men responding with the security guard being first.

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported that the church shooting was captured on a live stream of Sunday’s worship service. In the video, which has since been taken down, a person stands and pulls out a weapon, then appears to fire twice before another person shoots back, according to WFAA.

Some congregants holding guns rushed toward the shooter, while others ducked under church pews, WFAA reported.

Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting an “evil act of violence” in a statement Sunday afternoon.

“Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Abbott said. “Cecilia and I ask all Texans to join us in praying for the White Settlement community and for all those affected by this horrible tragedy.”

Antisemitic Attacks Sweep Across New York

Five people were taken to hospitals near the rabbi’s home after the suspect entered the Hanukkah celebration in the New York suburb and began stabbing people, according to police and witnesses.
The victims were Hasidic Jews, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley Region said in a tweet. Two people are in critical condition, council co-founder Yossi Gestetnertold CNN.
One of the victims was the son of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, at whose home the attack unfolded, and another victim suffered head wounds and is in serious conditions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The rabbi’s son is recovering, he said.
The attacker pulled out a knife that was “almost like a broomstick,” said Aron Kohn,who attended the Hanukkah celebration.
There were at least 100 people in the home at the time, as the rabbi was “lighting the candle” on the seventh night of Hanukkah, Kohn said.
The suspect tried to run into a nearby synagogue, but someone closed the doors, Kohn added.
[…]
Saturday’s stabbing is the 13th act of anti-Semitism in the state in the last three weeks, Cuomo told reporters. That’s in addition to other hateful incidents targeting the black, Latino and LGBT communities, he said.

Merry Christmas!

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Alleged Murderer Was In Deferred Prosecution Program for Felony

When will we learn? We are not helping a kid like this by going soft. We are merely encouraging a course that leads down one of two paths: death or prison.

The suspect arrested in Saturday’s fatal shooting on Madison’s Near West Side was previously charged with forgery and recently allowed to enter a deferred prosecution program, according to court records.

Marcus T. Hamilton, 20, was arrested on a tentative charge of first-degree intentional homicide, according to the Madison Police Department. Those charges were referred to the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, Madison Assistant Chief John Patterson said Sunday.

[…]

Last year, Hamilton was arrested after police said he used a fake $50 bill at a restaurant and was charged with felony forgery. In July, he pleaded guilty to forgery and was referred by the Dane County District Attorney’s Office to its First Offenders Program, according to court records.

In September, he was accepted into the program, which typically allows a person to avoid a criminal conviction in return for obtaining treatment and staying out of trouble. The details of Hamilton’s deferred prosecution agreement were not available Sunday.

More People Dying at Home

Death comes to us all. I’d rather die in the comfort of my own home too.

For the first time since the early 1900s, more Americans are dying at home rather than in hospitals, a trend that reflects more hospice care and progress toward the kind of end that most people say they want.

Deaths in nursing homes also have declined, according to Wednesday’s report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It’s a good thing. Death has become overly medicalized over the last century” and this shows a turn away from that, said the lead author, Dr. Haider Warraich of the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.