Category Archives: Politics

Biden’s Lazy Campaign

It’s quite a contrast.

With just 39 days until the election, President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are continuing to campaign in very different ways.

On Friday, the Commander-in-chief kept up his frenetic schedule, hosting four campaign events in three different states as Biden continued to lay low.

[…]

Trump’s jam-packed schedule is in striking contrast to Biden, who continues to law low in comparison.

Biden traveled from his home in Delaware to Washington on Friday to attend a ceremony at the US Capitol as late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lay in state there.

But there was no in-person campaigning on the former vice president’s schedule.

 The 77-year-old has been cautious about the coronavirus pandemic, and spent months mostly hunkered down in his Delaware home.

While he has increased campaigning in swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, his events are tightly scripted with only occasional interaction with voters.

West Bend School District Responds to Trump Mask Allegation

From the Washington County Insider.

There was recently a post on social media about face masks that claimed middle school students in the West Bend School District were being asked to remove some political masks and not others.

Superintendent Jen Wimmer was asked about the allegations regarding the masks and responded.

“We have been made aware of a person posting information on a local Facebook group page that alleges a staff member at Badger Middle School told a student to remove a face mask because it featured a political candidate. The Badger administrative team, supported by our Director of Human Resources, is conducting a thorough investigation.

As that investigation takes place, families and the community can be assured that the West Bend School District believes students have the right to exercise non offensive and non disruptive free speech. Supporting a political candidate or advocating for a group (i.e. BLM, Blue Lives, flag, military, etc. as Ms. Kellom notes) is allowed in our schools. There is no policy or practice that would discourage this (unless as part of that message it included offensive language or imagery).”

Florida AG Asks to Investigate Bloomberg

It certainly does appear that Bloomberg is attempting to but people’s votes.

Florida’s attorney general asked law enforcement officials on Wednesday to investigate recent fundraising efforts by billionaire and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg to pay off court fees and other fines so people with felony convictions can vote. The same effort has been championed by high profile figures, including the NBA megastar LeBron James.

The basis for an investigation was not immediately clear, but it came a day after Bloomberg announced he had raised $16m for the effort. The Republican attorney general, Ashley Moody, said she began reviewing the matter at the request of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, also a Republican. Her letter, addressed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI, includes a Washington Post article that frames the $16m haul in the context of Bloomberg’s efforts to boost Joe Biden in the state. She also included several state and federal statutes making it clear that someone cannot pay someone for their vote.

“After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted. Accordingly, I request that your agencies further investigate this matter and take appropriate steps as merited,” she said in the brief letter.

Rioters in Louisville Shoot Police

I was in downtown Louisville a couple of years ago. It’s a nice city. And now it is being torn apart, police are being shot, and buildings are being torched. These aren’t protests. This isn’t justice. This is insurrection.

 

Biden Campaign Ignores Latino Voters

A Democrat taking an ethnic group for granted? Shocking, I know.

From the start of his campaign, Biden has mostly ignored Latino voters. Already enjoying overwhelming African American support, he chose to focus his campaign efforts in battleground states on winning back white working-class voters who had supported Obama but voted for Trump in 2016. Latino communities seemed to be barely an afterthought.

The result is what pundits have taken to calling Biden’s “Latino problem.” This kind of enthusiasm gap can be extremely dangerous to a candidate. Hillary Clinton learned this the hard way in 2016, when significant numbers of disaffected or unmotivated voters simply didn’t vote. Alarm bells should be ringing at Democratic headquarters.

Democratic strategists have said they hope to keep the pro-Trump Latino vote under 30 percent. The Trump campaign, however, is aiming to obtain more than 40 percent of the Latino vote. So far, the Trump campaign seems to have done far more door-to-door politicking to influence Latino voters in key states.

Charges Announced in Breonna Taylor Killing

Make no mistake… Louisville was going to burn irrespective of what the charges were or were not. On the merits, the charges appear to be appropriate.

One of three Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor was indicted by Kentucky  grand jury on Wednesday, following a six-month investigation into the case that sparked mass protests nationwide.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell read the grand jury’s decision in open court on Wednesday afternoon, charging fired detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13.

Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove, who were also present at the time of Taylor’s death, were not charged.

Bernie Sanders Launches Effort to Delegitimize Election

Here we go.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is planning to mount an aggressive campaign to counter potential attempts by President Donald Trump to delegitimize the results of the November election, warning that Democrats and Republicans alike must do “everything that we can to prevent that from happening.”

In a phone interview on Monday evening, Sanders said he would spend the next six weeks urging the country to prepare for a “nightmare scenario” in which Trump declares himself the winner of the election and refuses to step down even if he loses.

Notice that the only “acceptable” and “legitimate” outcome of the election is a Biden win. Anything else is being characterized as a Trump usurpation. And watch the media go right along with that characterization. People like Bernie are working hard to portray any Trump win as invalid and in doing so are undermining our Republic.

We Must Ignore the “Constitution” because PEOPLE ARE DYING

I was amused and disgusted by this letter to the editor in the Washington County Daily News criticizing my most recent column about the illegal mask mandate:

2. You right-wing constitutional proponents think that you are so righteous defending the Constitution against Evers’ “illegal” orders, but PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!

You, Trump, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. Robin Vos, although you might have the “Constitution” on your side legally, are criminally negligent because you have no effective program to stop the pandemic.

So… people are dying so we should just ignore the Constitution and the law? That’s a very disturbing argument that quickly leads to totalitarianism. People like this really live in America.

Foreign Interference in Election

It’s been a long time since we took governance advice from the British royal family. I’m not about to start now.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced a backlash today for speaking out about the upcoming U.S. election and ‘effectively telling Americans to vote against Trump’ despite the British royal family’s strict political neutrality.

The Duke of Sussex told voters to ‘reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity’ while the Duchess called the presidential race the ‘most important election of our lifetime’ as the couple urged Americans to use their right to vote.

Speaking in a Time 100 video message, apparently filmed from the couple’s California home, Harry admitted he was not eligible to vote in the November 3 election – adding that he had never voted in the UK either where convention dictates that royals should keep well clear of politics.

Evers Extends Illegal Mask Mandate

And here it is

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers issued a new public health emergency on Tuesday to extend the statewide mask mandate by 60 days as cases of coronavirus accelerate around the state.

The move comes after infections among college-aged adults have skyrocketed now that campuses are open for the fall semester.

Overall, the state is seeing some of the highest rates of infection in the country. Nearly 7,000 positive tests were reported Thursday, Friday and Saturday — the most reported over any three-day period in Wisconsin. On Friday, a single-day record of 2,533 new cases was reported.

[…]

Evers issued the first health emergency in March and the second in July. That order expires on Monday and Republican legislative leaders haven’t said whether they will extend it and have made no moves to do so. Once it expires, so does the statewide mask mandate. The new mandate extends to Nov. 21.

Whither the GOP?

Activist Judge Extends Wisconsin Election

This has no basis in law. It’s just what the judge thought was “fair.” Do we really want judges just setting whatever rules they want and changing it on the fly? Our election laws have been in place for many years and have served Wisconsin well. Why change less than 6 weeks before the election?

U.S. District Judge William Conley granted a large portion of their requests, issuing a preliminary injunction that was expected to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He put the ruling on hold for seven days to give the other side a chance to seek an emergency appeal.

Evers wants to extend illegal mask mandate

My column for the Washington County Daily News in online and in print. When it comes to the mask mandate, Governor Evers is wrong on the law and wrong on the science.

Governor Tony Evers’ illegal order that all Wisconsinites wear face masks is set to expire on September 28 and he covets an extension of his despotic rule. Any extension of the order would not only be the third intentionally illegal power grab by the governor through emergency declarations, but it would be an admission that his actions are not rooted in science or data. Evers’ emergency orders are about power — not people.

[…]

If you think that a governor creating a permanent state of emergency where he issues arbitrary orders at his sole discretion is an acceptable way to govern, then the governor should at least be able to explain why the order is necessary and will work. The evidence is clear that the current mask mandate has not had any impact on the spread of coronavirus.

The Times’ Racial Brush

Heh.

The Times claimed that only 112 of the 431 House of Representatives members are people of color. It lists Rep. Rashida Tlaib as a person of color, while listing Rep. Justin Amash as white.

Tlaib’s parents and Amash’s father came from Arab towns and neighborhoods in Israel. Amash’s mother came from Syria. They both have traditional Arab names.

How is Tlaib a person of color while Amash is white?

The Amash and Tlaib clans both have a sizable presence in Israel. They’re both Arabs, but, aside from Tlaib being a militant leftist while Amash is an ex-GOP Never Trumper, the only obvious difference is that Amash’s family was Christian while Tlaib’s family is Muslim.

The New York Times’ message is that Muslims are “people of color” and Christians aren’t. It doesn’t matter if their families might have lived some 20 minutes away from each other.

Arab Christians are white while Arab Muslims are a minority group.

Hey Look, Another Federal Government “Shut Down”

Sure. Cool. Why not?

After lengthy negotiations did not produce a bipartisan agreement with Republicans, House Democrats introduced their own proposal Monday afternoon funding government until Dec. 11, moving “full steam ahead” on a vote Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The House will then send the political hot potato to the GOP-controlled Senate, although both chambers must ultimately pass identical legislation, which the president must also sign, in order to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

Recognizing the lack of an agreement, a senior House Democratic aide warned that the bill “may get stuck in the Senate” after House passage, creating an impasse leading up to the deadline at the end of the month.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin struck an informal agreement early this month on a “clean” continuing resolution – essentially agreeing to keep a stalemate over another phase of COVID-19 relief out of the negotiations in order to keep government open.

Second, also remember that the vast majority of federal spending will chug along unimpeded.
Finally, there is no doubt in my mind that the Democrats will force a shut down right before the election – especially with a SCOTUS pick on the table. Fine. Shut it down. I don’t know why we fund “non-essential” services anyway.

DNR Asks to Borrow More Money to Buy More Land

No. We do not need the taxpayers incurring even more debt just to shrink the property tax base and pay even higher tax rates. The state owns enough land. If they want to buy more, they can sell land they already own.

MADISON, WIS. (AP) — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are asking Gov. Tony Evers to renew the agency’s contentious land stewardship program for another decade and substantially increase its borrowing authority.

The DNR uses stewardship funding to purchase land for the state and help conservation organizations purchase land. Republicans have criticized the program for running up too much debt and taking too much property off tax rolls. Debt payments stood at nearly $83 million last year. Still, GOP legislators agreed to extend the program through mid-2022 and authorized it to borrow up to $33 million annually.

Democrats Will Overreach

I wrote this in February of 2017.

The Democrats have already reflexively announced their opposition to Gorsuch, even though their criticisms have failed to rise to any cogent standard. Wisconsin’s own Senator Tammy Baldwin has even refused to meet with Gorsuch, thus abdicating her role in the process and retreating behind nasty press releases and daft commentary.

Far be it from me to advise the Democrats, but their overreach on Gorsuch may neuter them further on future picks. Remember that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed the filibuster rule for all but Supreme Court picks in his effort to ram through President Obama’s lower court appointments, but left it in place for Supreme Court appointments. In doing so, Reid laid the ideological groundwork and precedent for killing the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too.

If the Democrats in the U.S. Senate choose to filibuster and obstruct what is clearly a brilliantly qualified choice for the Supreme Court, the Republicans can rescind the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too and confirm the appointment without needing to make a single concession to the minority party. The Democrats’ intransigence and unwillingness to even participate in the process, and the precedent already established by Harry Reid, will provide ample political cover for the change in rules.

Then, if and when Trump gets another opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, the rules will already be set to allow an easy confirmation. If the Democrats participate and allow a vote – even if all of them vote against the nominee – they will likely preserve the filibuster for future Supreme Court nominations while undercutting the political justification to rescind it next time.

If the political battles of the past few years in Wisconsin have taught me anything, it is that Democrats will overreach. Their base of radicals demands unbending fealty to ideology – even at the expense of victory.

As it turned out, McConnell did end the filibuster for SCOTUS confirmations over the Gorsuch fight and here we are. Then the Democrats hardened once “play nice” Senators like Graham during their atrocious behavior in the Kavanaugh hearing. Again, I expect the Democrats to overreach again here.

Through all of this I continue to lament that we attach so much importance to a single judge; on a 9-judge panel; in one branch of our federal government. It shows how much power we have ceded to the federal government and, specifically, the Supreme Court. Do you know why judge appointments were mostly a non-event outside of Washington for well over a century of our nation’s history? Because it didn’t impact the lives of most Americans. That’s not the case anymore and our Republic is worse for it.

Democrats Threaten to Pack the Supreme Court

This is very simple. There is no practical purpose to expand the court for the good of the American People. The only reason to do it is to change the philosophical center of the court one way or the other. It is about raw power.

Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if Donald Trump‘s nomination gets confirmed following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The president on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ginsburg, who died Friday after a battle with cancer.

[…]

Several Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.

Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’

Let’s think this through a few steps. Let’s say the Democrats win the presidency and majorities in the Congress, so they expand the court to 11 members, appoint two liberals, and shift the balance. What’s to stop the Republicans from doing the same thing the next time they are in control? Does the Republic then just keep expanding the Supreme Court every time a party gets in power? We still experience the sway of courts as elected officials from one party or the other gain power, only now it happens faster because they don’t have to wait for sitting justices to die or retire.

Is that better? Is our Republic better for it?

Nope. Do the Democrats care? Nope.

Let’s hope this is a passing tantrum and more thoughtful people step to the front of the Democratic Party.

Evers Fires DWD Secretary

I know everyone is focused on Washington right now, but let’s not let this get lost in the shuffle.

MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman has resigned over persistent issues processing unemployment claims amid the pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers said Friday that he asked for, and received, the resignation from 35-year-old Frostman, effective immediately.

Evers cites significant delays in processing unemployment claims amid the pandemic. DWD is in charge of that process.

[…]

Between March 15 and Sept. 12, DWD reports 6,546,554 claims have been filed. Just under 11 percent – or 713,508 – of those claims are still being processed.

[…]

Evers argues he has worked to provide DWD the resources to deal with the surge, including additional staffing. In additional 130 DWD employees have been reassigned to the Unemployment Insurance Division. The DWD now has more than 1,500 employees working on UI cases, a 250 percent spike from 600 workers before, according to the governor’s office.

It appears, though, that assistance failed to materialize into an improvement in processing claims under Frostman’s DWD.

Even though Evers took his customary cheap shots at Republicans in the announcement, he is acknowledging his responsibility for the failure. Good for him for acting. But shuffling the bureaucrats won’t be enough. Evers needs to hire a task master and empower him or her to act aggressively.

RIP RBG

Condolences.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an iconic champion of women’s rights, has died of cancer at the age of 87, the court has said.

Ginsburg died on Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family, the statement said.

The commoditization of a college education

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week. Yes, I do use “college” and “university” interchangeably because the content applies to both but it gets wordy to keep saying “colleges and universities.” Enjoy!

Wisconsin’s colleges and universities have begun their fall semesters with a variety of plans for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Students throughout the state and nation are living through an unpredictable whipsaw of experiences as colleges change the rules depending on the latest COVID-19 test numbers. These changing experiences are perhaps forever changing the fundamentals of the college experience and the value proposition of a college degree.

As a parent of three kids who are currently in college and one college graduate, the value of a college education is something that I have always considered undeniable. Both of my parents had college degrees and I was reared to believe that a college education is the golden ticket to the middle class. The mere possession of a sheepskin opens doors and careers that are otherwise unavailable.

While the actual education is the most important part of college, the campus experience is also a key part of shaping a person for the larger world. Being physically on a college campus is the first time away from home for many people and is where they learn to interact, socialize, work, collaborate, and play with people from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. It is also where one forms bonds and relationships that can help one get started and progress in their careers.

In more recent years, the value proposition of a college education has been eroding. Greased by easy money from the federal government, the cost to attend college has increased far faster than the ability of most people to pay for it. At the same time, the rise of lucrative careers in technology and the global commercial reach of the internet have made a college degree less important as a ticket to wealth. There will always be careers that will require a rigorous advanced education, but a bright kid can do very well for him or herself with a couple of key technical certifications or a catchy online business.

As the perceived worth of a college degree has been slowly declining for many people and the cost of that degree has been increasing, traditional colleges have been investing more and more into the campus experience. To visit some college campuses is to visit monuments to extravagance. Dormitories look like modern upscale apartments. The workout facilities are expansive and beautiful. Lecture halls and classrooms are equipped with the most sophisticated technology. The shared spaces are littered with study nooks, coffee shops, entertainment distractions, movie theaters, restaurants, and more.

All of those campus amenities cost money — a lot of money — and they are part of the reason for the ballooning cost of college. What happens when students are paying for all of those amenities but do not get to use them? That is what is happening for college students all over the state and nation as college administrators decide to lock down campuses, quarantine entire dorms, and move classes online.

Families and their college students might have been a bit more forgiving in the spring when colleges precipitously closed in the face of an unknown virus with scary predictions of millions of dead. Now we are entering a new phase. Colleges are demonstrating how they will react to any future health concern and creating uncertainty that students will ever be able to rely on having a true campus experience.

When a traditional college decides to close the campus and provide all of their education online, they are changing the value proposition of the education they are offering. The students are still paying for all of the amenities that sit empty and unused. The only thing that the students are getting for their money is the education provided through a computer screen as they sit alone in a dorm, apartment, or at home. If that is the case, then why are they paying so much? How is the education provided by UW-La Crosse or Marquette University any better than the education provided by tenured online universities like Capella University or the University of Phoenix? If universities are to be judged solely by the quality of the education they are providing through their online portals, then many traditional universities will struggle to differentiate themselves without being able to use their beautiful campuses to lure students.

The longer that universities forgo access to their campuses and deliver learning only online, the more students will shop around for their college experience. While a student may not be able to put a proper price on sitting on UW-Madison’s Memorial Union Terrace tapping out a research paper with an eclectic guitar player strumming nearby, that student can certainly put a price on sitting in their bedroom listening to a lecture on their computer.

The great commoditization of education happens when the intangibles of campus life are squeezed out and students are left to simply decide if taking Math 240 from Online University A is better or worse than that offered by Online University B. As traditional colleges underwrite the move to online education and close off their campuses, they are hastening their own decline.