Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics

Attorney General Josh Kaul’s terrible tenure

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

Josh Kaul, the son of the late disgraced former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, was narrowly elected in the blue wave election of 2018. He was elected with less than 50% of the vote and defeated his Republican opponent by a scant 0.65%. Despite his narrow plurality win, Kaul has used every tool in the attorney general’s box to advocate for his leftist causes at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, he has failed to fulfill the basic duties of the job to fight crime.

 

[…]

 

While Kaul has been acting as the state’s top activist, he has been failing as the state’s top cop. Under his tenure, he has left dozens of state prosecutor jobs unfilled. Fewer prosecutors leads to fewer prosecutions and Kaul has been engaging in his personal “defund the police” action.

 

The State Crime Lab, which former Attorney General Brad Schimel fixed, has fallen victim to Kaul’s neglect. The turnaround time for routine lab tests has increased by over 30% since Kaul took office. His mismanagement of the State Crime Lab means that criminals are staying on the street longer as police wait anxiously for the evidence they need to arrest them.

 

The evidence of Kaul’s dereliction is in the crime data. According to FBI crime statistics, Wisconsin’s violent crime rate in 2020 was the highest it had been in 35 years. Milwaukee has already had over 500 non-fatal shootings and over 130 homicides this year. The carnage is real. While Kaul is using his office to advocate for leftist causes, his failures in running the Department of Justice are being measured in dead bodies and ruined lives.

 

Wisconsin needs an attorney general who will work tirelessly to enforce the laws of the state and put criminals in jail. Josh Kaul has proven time and time again that he will prioritize his personal political causes over that of the people of Wisconsin every time.

 

Leftists Eye Takeover of Court to Transform Wisconsin

Knowing that they stand little chance of getting control of the legislature, Wisconsin’s liberals are looking to use the Supreme Court as an activist branch to enact their agenda. The November election is important. The April election may be more important.

Wisconsin Democrats are already envisioning, if they win the election in April and take a 4-3 majority, a political transformation of the state.

 

“In terms of the ability to change Wisconsin in two years, this could be an utterly different state,” said Kelda Roys, a Democratic state senator from Madison. “That is our real opportunity to not just stop the bad stuff from happening, but actually restore real democracy and accountability to Wisconsin, things like abortion rights and fair elections where your candidate might actually win.”

Washington County Exec Campaigns for Raising Taxes

With raging inflation, an economy in recession, and people seeing their nest eggs plundered, Washington County Executive Josh Shoemann is campaigning to raise property taxes. And he thinks you’re stupid enough to believe that he can raise taxes and you got a tax decrease. When I supported moving Washington County to an Executive structure, I really didn’t think that the first one would try to build his political resume on tax increases.

Schoemann described increasing the sheriff’s office’s share of the county tax levy from $15.2 million, 43.7 percent, when he took office to $20 million, 55 percent, today, a 33 percent increase.

 

He then spoke of the $3.6 million Anti-Crime Plan referendum, which will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

 

“[The plan] will provide more law enforcement resources to our schools; more mental health resources in times of crisis and with non-acute cases out of the justice system; more inter-county and cross-county drug task force engagement; more mental health support and additional resources to combat substance use in our jail; and improved emergency and crises response and management,” said Schoemann.

 

The referendum would see an increase of 30-and-ahalf staff positions across multiple departments in the sheriff’s office, including teaming up three social workers and three sheriff’s deputies to address mental health crisis calls.

 

The referendum, if passed by county residents, will raise the tax levy 9.89 percent, but there will still be an estimated nine cent per $1,000 of assessed value decrease in the county tax rate, at least.

 

“Whether the referendum is adopted or not, your county portion of the property tax rate will likely go down, it’s just a matter of how much. … This referendum is not about whether we want a new shiny building or field. It is about whether we need a proactive response to the crime plague seeping across our border,” said Schoemann. “So, the question our community must decide is this: What do we hate more, growing government or growing crime?”

No, this is not a binary question. Government can stay the same size and reallocate budget to priorities like fighting crime. The threat that the county will be unable to grapple with crime without a tax increase is an admission of failed governance.

Michels to Challenge Evers for Governor

I can almost guarantee that Evers had this statement written irrespective of who won. He just needed to fill in the name.

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers responded to Trump-endorsed Tim Michels’ projected win in the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday by labeling him as “radical” and “divisive.”

 

Michels defeated former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and two other Republican candidates in the GOP primary, and will face off against Evers in the general election in November.

 

In a statement following Michels’ projected primary victory, Evers’ campaign said his upcoming Republican opponent is “the most extreme and divisive nominee possible” who will say anything to appease former President Trump.

A couple comments on the GOP primary…

As I stated before, I supported Kleefisch because I think she would have been an indefatigable champion of conservatism as governor and I thought she stood the better chance of beating Evers. But… it’s close. Michels is a lifelong conservative and experienced business leader. He would also be a fine governor. I hope that Michels learned the lessons from his 2004 loss and makes the appropriate changes to his campaign strategy. I also hope that Michels has the same energy to move the conservative cause as governor as we saw in Walker’s first term.

Also, it is clear to me that the Republican base in Wisconsin has changed significantly since the Tea Party movement swept them into power in 2008 and 2010. It is more Trump than Reagan. More Hannity than Buckley. It is a different brand with different priorities. It’s good from the standpoint that it is an aggressive style that can get some big things done. Unfortunately, it is also a brand of conservatism that believes in big government doing big things – even if they are conservative things. It is not a brand that believes in small government. It’s not my brand, but it is far preferable to the Marxists on the Democratic side.

All that being said, I’m firmly in the Michels camp. Let’s git er dun.

On Abortion

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I put a taste below. I realized that as the abortion debate has moved to the state houses where we, the people, will actually have to debate the issue and come to some decisions, the rhetoric of abortion politics is still frozen in the theater of inaction in which SCOTUS froze it in 1973. This is one guy’s attempt to explain his position on the issue. Hopefully those with other opinions will offer them with the same sincerity and not resort to the crutch of “you hate women” or some such nonsense and we can have a grown-up debate about public policy. Pollyannish? Probably, but a guy can hope.

Our nation’s Declaration of Independence set forth that we are all created equal and, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life.” Our United States Constitution went on to protect people from being deprived of life without the due process of law in the fifth and fourteenth amendments. Both documents are based on a fundamental understanding of Natural Rights.

 

Natural rights are universal and inalienable. They are not dependent on government, laws, customs, traditions, or societal norms. They are rights that are embedded in the very essence of humanity and are enjoyed by each individual irrespective of age, color, creed, nationality, gender, or station. The just duty of government is to protect those rights from being infringed upon by others and to regulate the outcome of when two rights collide.

 

The most precious Natural Right is the right to live. Life is the right from which all other Natural Rights flow. The only real question regarding abortion, then, is to determine when life begins, for once we have determined that a life has begun, it is incumbent on us to protect that life through the power of government.

 

Fortunately, here in the 22nd century, the mysteries of reproduction and gestation have been largely solved. Once an egg is fertilized, a unique DNA is created and cells begin to multiply until they form a human that we would recognize. Some would pinpoint the start of life at when the heartbeat starts, or when brain activity begins, or when the baby would be viable outside of the womb. Some would allow abortion even in the moments after birth under the argument that the baby is still woefully dependent on the mother. That is the same argument that could be made for infanticide well into the toddler years.

 

For me, the most ethical and logical point at which to mark the start of life is when that unique DNA is created. That is when there is a unique life. There is clearly nothing separate from the parents before that moment and there is someone unique after it. While one could argue that life begins at a more viable state, each of those benchmarks seem arbitrary. Our moral, ethical, and legal obligation to protect life should make us err, if we are to err, on the side of prudence. It is better to accidentally protect people’s pre-lives than it is to intentionally kill them.

 

With life beginning at fertilization, we must structure our laws to protect those lives. In the case of a mother not wanting a baby, we come into a conflict of the rights of two individuals. The baby has a right to life. The mother has a right to bodily autonomy. In such cases of conflict, we make laws to decide the best, least harmful, outcome. In no other area of law do we permit the killing of one individual to protect the bodily autonomy of another. Neither should we in this case. The consequences for the mother are significant, but the consequences for the baby are cataclysmic. In such cases, we must protect the life of the baby even though its very existence imposes obligations and consequences on the mother.

Biden Exaggerated Terrorist’s Role

What? No. Never! Biden never stretches the truth. He is a paragon of rectitude.

Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer who worked with Islamist fighters battling the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and later wrote several books about terrorism networks and radicalization, said he was puzzled by Biden’s portrayal of al-Zawahri and wondered where the purported role came from.

 

“Zawahri is a legitimate target,” he said on Aug. 2, a day after the president’s address. “But the justification they gave yesterday was inaccurate. I doubt it. I strongly, strongly doubt it.”

 

A senior administration official declined to say whether Biden’s wording was part of his prepared remarks drafted by aides who had consulted with the intelligence community and other counterterrorism experts, or whether the president had ad-libbed it.

Appleton Library Struggles to Stay Within $40 Million Construction Budget

Really?

APPLETON – The architect and construction manager of the new $40 million Appleton Public Library have doubled down on value engineering in attempt to keep the project within budget in a time of high inflation.

 

The extra work has caused several delays in bidding the project. Under the latest schedule, the bids are due Aug. 31, and the completion of the project is targeted for spring 2024.

 

“We don’t know what will happen on bid day,” library project manager Dean Gazza told the Common Council. “No one can predict that, but I can tell you that we put ourselves in the best possible position to bid and hit our target.”

 

[…]

 

The existing library at 225 N. Oneida St. dates to 1981 and is considered outdated, inefficient and, at 86,600 square feet, undersized. The new library will total 107,380 square feet.

 

The library closed its doors in April in anticipation of construction. It is operating at a temporary site in the former Best Buy store at 2411 S. Kensington Drive.

 

The budget for the library project totals $40.4 million. The amount consists of $26.4 million in city property taxes, $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $12 million in private donations.

Cancel the project and leave the library in the old Best Buy. Use the $12 million in private donations to spruce up the place a bit. In a time of raging inflation, we have to stop. Stop spending. Just. Stop. Spending.

Democrats Pass Massive Tax and Spend Bill During Recession With Party Line Vote

Another knife in the back of our Republic.

The Senate on Sunday passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) along party lines, 51-50, handing Democrats a crucial legislative win as the midterm cycle ramps up — despite GOP objections at the billions in spending and drug pricing reforms.

 

The sprawling climate, tax and health care legislation is now set up for quick passage in the Democratic-controlled House, with timing still to be announced, before President Joe Biden signs it into law.

Wisconsin’s opportunity for another turn of the conservative revolution

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

With the primary election a week away, most primary voters have made up their minds. Many of them have already cast their votes. In the Republican primary for governor, the voters are blessed with three great choices. Any of the three candidates would be a solid governor and far superior to Gov. Tony Evers. I continue to strongly think that Rebecca Kleefisch is the best choice both in terms of her ability to defeat Evers and her ability to move the conservative agenda as governor, but I can’t fault any Republican primary voter for making a different choice.

 

Whichever Republican makes it to the general election stands a good chance of winning in a red wave year. Should that occur and should the Republicans retain control of the Legislature (they should), it is another opportunity to move bold conservative ideas like the Republicans did in Governor Scott Walker’s first term. There are three big agenda items that the Republicans should pass in the first 100 days.

 

First, the Republicans must pass universal school choice. The pandemic taught us that when push comes to shove, too many of our government schools will abandon their duty to education. The educational destruction wrought upon Wisconsin’s children by negligent government school administrations will reverberate through the rest of their lives. Couple that with the pervasive Marxist indoctrination that is seeping into much of the curriculum, and it is time for change. Universal school choice will allow parents to find the best educational option for their children. Universal school choice is based on the premise that the taxpayers have a duty to educate kids — not sustain failing government institutions. The tax dollars that are spent to educate children should follow the children and trust parents to make the best choice for their own kids. A Universal school choice law should be very simple. Every child should get a voucher for the amount that would have been spent by state taxpayers on that child’s education and any accredited school the child attends can cash that voucher. Trust parents. Let us focus on funding education instead of government bureaucracies.

 

Second, Republicans should eliminate the state income tax. Instead of tinkering with the formulas and tweaking the exemptions, they should be bold and eliminate it outright. They can balance the elimination with a modest increase in the sales tax and aggressive spending reductions. This is a necessary step for Wisconsin to attract and retain the workforce of the future.

 

Nine states do not have a state income tax. It is no coincidence that five of them were in the top ten states with the largest net population growth in the last 12 months according to the U.S. Census. In an increasingly virtual workforce where high-income workers can live anywhere, they are choosing to live in states where they get to keep more of the money they earn. The sales tax, like other consumption taxes, is a tax that spreads the tax burden more evenly. Even highnet- worth people who do not currently earn an income have to pay the sales tax. For Wisconsin to attract the mobile, highincome earners to live and work in Wisconsin, they must be aggressive in making it financially attractive to them.

 

Third, Republicans must swiftly reform the state’s election apparatus. Hopefully everyone can agree that we want a state where it is easy to vote legitimately. When the people lose confidence in the integrity of our electoral process because it is riddled with inconsistent rule enforcement, obvious opportunities for fraud, and the outright illegal actions of government officials, the government loses the justification of having the consent of the governed. It is a republic-killing crisis.

 

For the most part, Wisconsin’s election laws are good. There may be a need for minor tweaks like uniform early voting laws, but as written, Wisconsin should have some of the fairest, easiest, and securest elections in the nation. Where it breaks down is that it is being administered by activist officials and a dysfunctional enforcement apparatus. Republicans should abolish the Wisconsin Elections Commission and replace it with a bicameral bipartisan legislative committee comprised completely of elected officials. Elections are how the citizens hold government officials accountable.

 

The transformative Walker administration reminded us what bold conservative leadership looks like. Whoever the Republican nominee is, conservatives’ expectations are rightfully high for them if they win a term in the big chair.

China Cuts Ties

Oh boy… this isn’t good.

An enraged China has halted dialogue with the US on climate change, military issues and anti-drug work in retaliation for Nancy Pelosi’s ‘provocative’ Taiwan visit as diplomatic tensions reached boiling point.

 

Earlier, Beijing decided to sanction House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her ‘vicious’ actions and after their military fired 11 ballistic missiles into the Taiwan Strait – with five landing in Japan’s exclusion zone – and surrounded the island.

 

‘Despite China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,’ a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

 

It comes as it emerged that the White House summoned Chinese ambassador Qin Gang on Thursday to condemn escalating actions against Taiwan and reiterate that the United States does not want a crisis in the region.

 

The Biden administration has thrown their support behind Pelosi’s trip as a way to promote democracy in Taiwan and have criticized Beijing’s ‘sabre rattling’ and ‘unnecessary’ military drills.

 

‘After China’s actions overnight, we summoned Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche  him about (China’s) provocative actions,’ White House spokesman John Kirby told the Washington Post. A démarche is a protest through diplomatic channels.

 

‘We condemned the PRC’s military actions, which are irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.’

Sinema Agrees to Increase Inflation

Just proof again that there aren’t any “moderate” Democrats left in the Senate. When push comes to shove, they will shove the American people further into recession and hyperinflate the currency if they can send more of our money to their pet causes. It’s a disgrace.

That’s where Sinema comes in. The moderate Arizona Democrat has occasionally thwarted the party’s agenda, along with West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. Manchin is already on board and has claimed credit for the last-minute agreement on the spending bill.

 

On Thursday night, Sinema said she would “move forward” with the bill, once reviewed by the Senate Parliamentarian.

 

“We have agreed to remove the carried interest tax provision, protect advanced manufacturing, and boost our clean energy economy in the Senate’s budget reconciliation legislation,” the Arizona senator said in a statement. “Subject to the Parliamentarian’s review, I’ll move forward.”

 

“Following this effort, I look forward to working with Senator [Mark] Warner to enact carried interest tax reforms, protecting investments in America’s economy and encouraging continued growth while closing the most egregious loopholes that some abuse to avoid paying taxes.”

 

Following her announcement, Schumer also issued a statement, saying, “I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act that I believe will receive the support of the entire Senate Democratic conference.

Barnes’ Anti-2nd Amendment Stances

I admit that I didn’t know/remember this. Of course, Barnes was a non-entity in the Assembly, so I’m not sure anyone noticed it at the time.

As a legislator Barnes held a press conference to announced he would introduce legislation to require gun owners to undergo psychological examinations before being permitted for concealed carry, and outlawing deer hunting in the state by banning the only ammo legal for use during gun deer season.

 

While now his rhetoric on guns is largely about assault rifles, it’s worth remembering as he poses in rural Wisconsin farm fields, that Barnes would end deer hunting, and send over 12% of the adult population for psych exams.  One in eight adults now have a concealed carry permit, a figure that increased after the unchecked riots Barnes praised as “inclusive community building.” 

Wisconsin’s opportunity for another turn of the conservative revolution

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

With the primary election a week away, most primary voters have made up their minds. Many of them have already cast their votes. In the Republican primary for governor, the voters are blessed with three great choices. Any of the three candidates would be a solid governor and far superior to Gov. Tony Evers. I continue to strongly think that Rebecca Kleefisch is the best choice both in terms of her ability to defeat Evers and her ability to move the conservative agenda as governor, but I can’t fault any Republican primary voter for making a different choice.

 

Whichever Republican makes it to the general election stands a good chance of winning in a red wave year. Should that occur and should the Republicans retain control of the Legislature (they should), it is another opportunity to move bold conservative ideas like the Republicans did in Governor Scott Walker’s first term. There are three big agenda items that the Republicans should pass in the first 100 days.

 

First, the Republicans must pass universal school choice.

 

[…]

 

Second, Republicans should eliminate the state income tax

 

[…]

 

Third, Republicans must swiftly reform the state’s election apparatus.

Government Promises vs. Government Reality

But Biden got the headline

The blaze was sparked by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) prescribed fires to reduce wildfire risk. The burns went out of control after a series of missteps, torching 432 residences and over 530 square miles (1373 square km) of mostly privately owned forests and meadows, much of it held by members of centuries-old Indo-Hispano ranching communities.

 

“Today I’m announcing the federal government’s covering 100% of the cost,” President Joe Biden said during a visit to New Mexico in June. Biden was announcing a disaster declaration that covered debris removal and emergency protective measures.

 

[…]

 

…told to share 25% of costs based on a federal statute that could not be waived as it did not fall under Biden’s declaration.

 

Encinias said he was told by NRCS officials his application would be considered in September and recovery work would begin six to 12 months thereafter if he was accepted

 

So like many fire survivors in this low-income area who have no insurance, the rancher and retired electrician did the work himself.

 

“Why the hell am I going to pay anything when I didn’t cause this damn fire?” said Encinias, 55, as he fed his cattle hay he was forced to buy after his baler was torched.

 

[…]

 

FEMA has so far granted $4.2 million to 1,164 fire survivors, marking an average payout of $3,600. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday said FEMA granted her request to extend Biden’s declaration to residents who have suffered damage from flooding and debris flows in wildfire burn scars.

 

For now, Encinias’ family is getting by on a $37,000 maximum payout from FEMA for the loss of their 5-bedroom home. They also lost eight acres of forest, farm machinery and cars.

Washington County Board should reject tax increase referendum

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last year.

On August 10, the Washington County Board will vote on whether or not to submit to the taxpayers a referendum asking to forever raise taxes above the statutory limit to increase the size of the Sheriff’s Department. Let us hope that they come to their senses and forgo the referendum. If they do not, let us hope that the good people of Washington County have the good senses to vote it down.

 

The wording of the referendum may be tweaked by the County Board if they put it on the ballot, but the essence will be to ask the voters to increase taxes by almost 10% forevermore for the purpose of permanently increasing the staff of the Sheriff’s Department by about 15. The money would also be used to generally increase pay to attract and retain staff.

 

The increase in staffing is part of the county’s anticrime effort to combat increasing crime in the county. Is crime really increasing that much? Is the increase in crime just a reflection of the population growth? Are current resources appropriately allocated? How much of a crime reduction will the increase in staffing cause? Some of these questions were asked by supervisors on the Public Safety Committee, but answers were not forthcoming. Promising that more information would be available at the full County Board meeting, the committee unanimously approved the question to go to the full board.

 

There is no doubt that crime in this country is increasing largely thanks to intentionally lax law enforcement in our largest cities and the unending tide of illegal aliens flowing across our borders. Fighting crime is a legitimate duty of government and citizens in Washington County have always been supportive of law enforcement.

 

Budgets, however, are about priorities. Washington County spends almost $140 million per year on all functions. The Sheriff’s Department takes about $23 million, or 16.4% of the budget. If fighting crime is truly a priority, are the County Board and county executive really not able to reallocate funding from the other 83.6% of the budget? Instead, they want taxpayers to reallocate their family budgets to pay for that increase in spending?

 

County supervisors should also remember that they do not operate in a vacuum. The citizens who pay those taxes are facing a hard time financially. President Biden’s inflation economy is making prices rise faster than they have in 40 years. Unfortunately, most people’s incomes are not keeping up, so real income is dropping like a rock. Fuel prices are robbing people of mobility and everything is just getting more expensive. Families are cutting back on unnecessary expenses.

 

Meanwhile, times are good in government. After several years of money raining out of Washington from the Trump and Biden administrations to attempt to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, local governments have been awash in spending cash. Now they are reaping the benefits of inflation because taxes are based on percentages. As the median home price in southeast Wisconsin has risen 48% since January of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, property taxes have risen accordingly.

 

So, too, has the sales tax. Washington County passed a county sales tax years ago that was sold as a temporary emergency need. They have since made the tax permanent and continue to spend the proceeds. As the prices of goods and services have risen with inflation, so has the money spent on sales taxes. Washington County will likely see a record year in sales tax collections in 2022. Where will that money go? Could it be used to fund a spending increase in the Sheriff’s Department instead of asking the taxpayers to send even more money to the county?

 

Nobody questions that fighting crime is important and that Washington County deserves a properly funded Sheriff’s Department to meet the needs of the day. But using the current heightened concern about crime to call for a tax increase during a time when inflation is rampant and the economy is slipping into recession borders on the kind of cynicism we expect in Milwaukee – not Washington County.

 

The Washington County Board should decline to ask the taxpayers for more money and fund the increase in spending for the Sheriff’s Department if it is truly needed. The county has enough of our tax dollars to deliver on their obligations.

Barnes’ Radical Past

The Washington Post seems concerned that Mandela Barnes radical past and love affair with Marxists will hurt him in Wisconsin. Hmm.

MADISON, Wis. — In 2019, Mandela Barnes traveled to neighboring Minnesota, where he visited a recycling facility with Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The Democratic lieutenant governor of Wisconsin danced with the member of the “Squad” of House liberals, both of them grinning in front of a truck that read “Zero Waste.” The footage was packaged into a GIF and broadcast from Barnes’s official Twitter account.

“She’s brilliant. She cares about the environment,” read the tweet.It also said: “She’s exactly who we need in Congress right now fighting for what’s right.”

And what the heck does this mean?

“A staff person tweeted that out,” Barnes said in an interview with The Washington Post last week, speaking of the August 2019 tweet about Omar. “That wasn’t even my Twitter, that was the official side Twitter.”

So if it’s an official statement from his office, it’s not him? He’s somehow not responsible for his office’s official Twitter account? That’s a curious stance.
More:
He was photographed posing with a red T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Abolish ICE,” a slogan some on the left embraced that references U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s not clear when the photo was taken, but it was posted on Reddit in 2018. Also in 2018, Barnes wrote “I need that” on social media in response to a person who offered him an “Abolish ICE” T-shirt in his size.
[…]
“Things were bad. Things were terrible. The founding of this nation? Awful,” Barnes said. “The impacts are felt today. They’re going to continue to be felt unless we address it in a meaningful way.”

Wisconsin Democratic Party Endorses Barnes

Is this a thing? I don’t remember this being a thing. Barnes is about to be the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Of course the Wisconsin Democratic Party endorses him. Who else would they endorse? Has a political party ever endorsed someone other than their own candidate?

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin proudly endorsed Mandela Barnes for the United States Senate,” Chair Ben Wikler said in a statement.

Two Americas. One Russia.

Would your government pull out all the stops to rescue you? Should they? Should they be doing it for Griner?

For the past 11 months, Fogel has languished in Russian detention centers following his August 2021 arrest for trying to enter the country with about half an ounce of medical marijuana he’d been prescribed in the United States for chronic pain after numerous injuries and surgeries. First he endlessly awaited trial, often in crowded, smoke-choked cells. More recently, he has been serving the first weeks of an incomprehensible 14-year sentence handed down by a Russian judge in June.

 

Fogel’s plight parallels a similar case that has played big on news websites, led cable newscasts and prompted White House pronouncements: the trial of WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner, who also was arrested for attempting to enter Russia with a small amount of medical marijuana. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States has made a “substantial proposal” to Russia to secure the release of Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year Russian sentence on spy charges he has denied.

 

Marc Fogel’s wife, Jane Fogel, said in an interview after the news broke that she’s still hoping her husband can be included in a swap. But those hopes are fading, she said, speaking publicly for the first time about her husband’s case.

Washington County Board should reject tax increase referendum

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

County supervisors should also remember that they do not operate in a vacuum. The citizens who pay those taxes are facing a hard time financially. President Biden’s inflation economy is making prices rise faster than they have in 40 years. Unfortunately, most people’s incomes are not keeping up, so real income is dropping like a rock. Fuel prices are robbing people of mobility and everything is just getting more expensive. Families are cutting back on unnecessary expenses.

 

Meanwhile, times are good in government. After several years of money raining out of Washington from the Trump and Biden administrations to attempt to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, local governments have been awash in spending cash. Now they are reaping the benefits of inflation because taxes are based on percentages. As the median home price in southeast Wisconsin has risen 48% since January of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, property taxes have risen accordingly.

 

So, too, has the sales tax. Washington County passed a county sales tax years ago that was sold as a temporary emergency need. They have since made the tax permanent and continue to spend the proceeds. As the prices of goods and services have risen with inflation, so has the money spent on sales taxes. Washington County will likely see a record year in sales tax collections in 2022. Where will that money go? Could it be used to fund a spending increase in the Sheriff’s Department instead of asking the taxpayers to send even more money to the county?

 

Nobody questions that fighting crime is important and that Washington County deserves a properly funded Sheriff’s Department to meet the needs of the day. But using the current heightened concern about crime to call for a tax increase during a time when inflation is rampant and the economy is slipping into recession borders on the kind of cynicism we expect in Milwaukee – not Washington County.

 

The Washington County Board should decline to ask the taxpayers for more money and fund the increase in spending for the Sheriff’s Department if it is truly needed. The county has enough of our tax dollars to deliver on their obligations.

State Senate Minority Leader Involved in Fatal Accident

Yikes.

MADISON – Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley was involved in a fatal car crash Friday that left a mother and her 5-year-old daughter dead.

 

Bewley, who represents a district that covers the northwestern part of the state, pulled out of a Lake Superior beach entrance and into the path of a car driven by 27-year-old Alyssa Ortman of Pennsylvania, according to the Ashland Police Department. When Ortman’s car collided with Bewley’s, it spun across Highway 2 and was hit by another vehicle driven by 45-year-old Jodi Munson of Mason.

 

Ortman’s 5-year-old daughter was pronounced dead at the crash scene. Ortman was transported to a nearby hospital where she later died, according to police.

 

[…]

 

Ben Baker, a reporting intern for the Journal Sentinel, was on the phone with Bewley on Friday afternoon for an interview he had arranged with her staff about this fall’s elections for the Legislature.

 

Shortly after the interview began, Bewley told Baker she had cataract eye surgery the day before. Minutes later, she stopped talking mid-sentence and the call went silent. When Baker asked Bewley if she was still on the line, she sounded concerned. When Baker asked if she was OK, she said, “Yeah, I’m OK. This is not a good accident.”

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