Category Archives: Politics

Expected Biden Tax Hike May Be Shifting Equity Markets

It’s one perspective.

  • “In our view the current rotation from some of the FAANG names and other companies tied to them is likely more attributable to profit-taking after a long profitable run ahead of the potential hike in capital gains taxes next year rather than concern that the momentum in technology is running out of steam longer term,” Oppenheimer Chief Investment Strategist John Stoltzfus writes in a note out today, but written before the Moderna vaccine update.

Obama Says Social Media Companies are Acting Like Publishers and Not Platforms

I agree!

Former U.S. President Barack Obama said that the extent to which social media companies claim they “are more like a phone company than they are like The Atlantic” is not “tenable,” he told the publication in an interview published Monday.

“They are making editorial choices, whether they’ve buried them in algorithms or not,” the former president said in the interview. “The First Amendment doesn’t require private companies to provide a platform for any view that is out there. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to find a combination of government regulations and corporate practices that address this, because it’s going to get worse. If you can perpetrate crazy lies and conspiracy theories just with texts, imagine what you can do when you can make it look like you or me saying anything on video. We’re pretty close to that now.”

Obama’s statement that social media platforms should be considered more like publishers than public utilities would have significant implications on how the companies are regulated.

[…]

President-elect Joe Biden has harshly criticized Section 230 and Facebook itself in an interview with The New York Times editorial board published earlier this year.

“Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said at the time, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, taking a more extreme position than many of the Democrats and Republicans currently seeking to tweak the laws’ protections.

In October, I said:

In purposefully, actively, and personally deciding to stomp on a negative story about Joe Biden that was published by a reputable newspaper in the midst of a political campaign, Facebook and Twitter have definitively and unmistakably crossed the line from being internet platforms to publishers. As such, the legal protections granted to them under Section 230 must be withdrawn so that they can be regulated like The New York Times, Fox News, MSNBC, and all of the other publishers that filter, edit, and curate the information they provide to their subscribers.

Facebook and Twitter can’t have it both ways. If they want the legal protections provided under Section 230, then they must allow all information to flow freely. If they want to be information gatekeepers, then those protections must be withdrawn so that people have legal remedies against abuse.

When nobody was looking, West Bend became liberal

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

While the national political scene continues to dominate our attention, local politicians are making decisions that will more directly impact our everyday lives. In the city of West Bend, the Common Council has taken a lurch to the left and is pushing for the second property tax increase in as many years. What is happening in West Bend is a good case study for how much local leadership matters and how easy it is for the big spenders to seize control when the citizens get lazy.

West Bend has always been a conservative community. Like many smallish conservative cities, the city was run by a close cabal of old-time Benders for a long time. Well-meaning, but without much vision, the city leadership plodded along steadily raising spending, raising taxes, increasing debt, and seemingly intent on just making sure everybody would go along to get along.

Springing out of the national tea party movement, local conservatives began to look seriously at the city’s governance in 2009. Groups like Concerned Citizens of Washington County sprang up with the express purpose of recruiting, encouraging, and supporting conservatives to run for local office.

It worked. Election after election, principled conservatives ran for local office and won. In the city of West Bend, the result was a slate of conservative council members and a conservative mayor who were intent on leading the city in a conservative direction. In 2011 they passed a flat-tax-levy budget and then cut the tax levy by 5% in 2012. For the rest of the decade, conservative leadership meant flat taxes year after year, a dramatic improvement in the city’s debt load, the shedding of unfunded liabilities for retired employees, and frugal spending. Along the way, the city upgraded the riverwalk, made parks selfsustained, expanded the police station and City Hall, and attracted businesses to locate and expand in West Bend.

It was a good run, but it is over now. After a decade of good governance, local conservatives got lazy. They stopped recruiting and supporting new conservatives to run for local office. The big spenders and lefties returned to power as local conservatives twiddled their thumbs and harrumphed at each other.

Over the past several elections, big spenders and lefties ran for, and won, seats on the Common Council. They are in firm control. The new mayor, Chris Jenkins, trumpets his conservatism in public, but has proven too weak to provide firm conservative leadership in the face of opposition.

Last year the Common Council passed a property tax increase even though the city had the money to pay for the entire budget without raising taxes. They passed a tax increase because they wanted to see if the public would scream too loud. Aldermen John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Steve Hoogester, Justice Madl, and Roger Kist voted to increase taxes. Aldermen Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, and Rich Kasten voted against a tax increase. Since then, all three of the aldermen who voted against the tax increase have left the council and Jenkins was elected mayor.

This year, the council is proposing a 5% tax levy increase that will be used to increase spending and pad employee compensation. Most city employees will receive a pay increase with at least one high-level employee receiving a $12,125, or 11%, raise. Meanwhile, the city in increasing the percentage of premiums that taxpayers cover by about 1%. A city employee will pay 13% of the premium for a family plan under the new budget. The average going rate for Wisconsin private-sector employees is more than twice that.

Just like last year, the city does not need to increase taxes. Thanks to new construction, the city will get a 4% increase in the tax levy without increasing taxes on everyone. Just like last year, the Common Council seems determined to raise taxes anyway. The budget calls for a 5% levy increase. A council dominated by former public employees seems resentful that a year should pass without increasing taxes. It is easier to keep increasing taxes a little every year and finding a place to spend it instead of only asking for a tax increase when they need it.

Alderwoman Meghann Kennedy has been the lone voice for fiscal conservatism on the council as the rest seem intent on passing annual tax increases irrespective of the need or the property owners’ ability to pay. 2020 has been a tough year for many, but that fact seems lost in the halls of city government.

As I write this column, the public hearing for the budget is in the future. As you read this, the hearing is in the past. Irrespective of how the hearing went or how the council votes, the only way to truly return West Bend to conservative fiscal management is to elect the principled conservatives who will lead future councils. The liberals will always fill a leadership vacuum. If conservatives in West Bend want to see conservative leadership, they will need to get off their duffs and put some effort into it. The same is true all over Wisconsin. Leadership starts locally.

Temperature and Symptom Screening are Useless

Yup

(CNN) — Temperature and symptom-based screening programs don’t help catch coronavirus cases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report that took a closer look at the programs used at US airports until mid-September.
[…]
The CDC said this was a resource-intensive program that had a low case detection rate. Between January 17 and September 13, the CDC screened more than 766,000 travelers. Nearly 300 met the criteria for public health assessment, 35 were tested for the coronavirus, and nine tested positive. That means the program identified about one case per 85,000 travelers screened, the CDC reported Thursday in the agency’s weekly report.
This style of screening doesn’t seem to work for a few reasons. Covid-19 has a wide range of nonspecific symptoms common to other infections, there are a high number of asymptomatic cases, travelers may deny symptoms or take steps to avoid detection and passenger data was limited.

Port Washington Folks Complain About Boat in Marina for Winter

This might be my favorite response by an elected representative to silly complaints EVER.

But commission member Bill Driscoll said it shouldn’t be a problem.

“This is a boat. This is a marina. When you go to a marina, you expect to see boats,” he said. “Boats in a harbor look cool. That’s what a harbor is for.”

Americans Plan to Resist Lockdowns

Lockdowns are not an effective means of controlling the pandemic, but they are very effective at controlling people, destroying small businesses, increasing poverty, increasing food insecurity, increasing mental health issues, neglecting our elderly, and harming our kids’ educations. Yeah, not thanks. I will not comply. And I suspect that a sizable chunk of the 49% who SAY they will comply, won’t.

Americans are less likely to comply with another coronavirus lockdown than they were in the spring, with fewer than half saying in a new poll that they’re very likely to stay home this time around, according to a new Gallup Poll released as record numbers of cases skyrocket nationwide.

In the poll, taken between Oct. 19 and Nov. 1, 49% of respondents said they’ll be very likely to stay home for a month if it’s recommended after an outbreak in their communities, reports CNN. This is down from 67% in the spring.

Another 18% said they are somewhat likely to comply, but a third said they are not likely to obey lockdown orders.

Ticketmaster Prepares to Check COVID Vaccine Status

It won’t be the government that mandates a vaccine. It will be businesses that fear lawsuits. Airlines, shared ride services, restaurants, sports clubs, etc… and once they are successful with this one, they will expand it to other things. Did you get your other recommended vaccines? Did you buy health insurance? Have any communicable diseases? Current on your child support? Bought any guns lately? Frankly, I’m not comfortable with sharing my healthcare data with a flippin’ ticket broker. Are you?

Monday’s news that pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s early results on a new COVID-19 vaccine showed a 90% efficacy rate on an initial clinical trial have given concert professionals hope that the business can start mounting a return in 2021. As part of that preparation, Ticketmaster has been working on a framework for post-pandemic fan safety that uses smart phones to verify fans’ vaccination status or whether they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus within a 24 to 72 hour window.

Many details of the plan, which is still in development phase, will rely on three separate components — the Ticketmaster digital ticket app, third party health information companies like CLEAR Health Pass or IBM’s Digital Health Pass and testing and vaccine distribution providers like Labcorp and the CVS Minute Clinic.

New York Locks Down Again

I see very little correlation between lockdowns and spikes in cases of Rona. Perhaps one could have excused the shutdowns in the beginning when people were grasping for answers, but we’ve been at this for eight months and have a lot of data. Locking down is the wrong prescription. All we are doing is compounding poverty, food insecurity, housing insecurity, and mental health issues and we aren’t getting anything in return.

New York has introduced new restrictions aimed at curbing coronavirus, with Mayor Bill de Blasio warning it was the city’s “last chance” to stop a second wave.

Bars, restaurants and gyms must close by 22:00 and people can only meet in groups of 10 or less

San Francisco Bans Natural Gas Hookups

No more clean, efficient, natural gas for them.

  • San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors votes to ban natural gas in new buildings, saying the legislation will help the city cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety
  • The legislation will apply to more than 54K homes and 32M sq. ft. of commercial space in the city’s development pipeline; any building that applies for a permit after June 2021 will be subject to the requirements, although an amendment to the ordinance allows restaurants to apply for a waiver to use a natural gas stove until the end of 2022.

Anti-Cop Portland Commissioner Calls 911 Over Dispute with Lyft Driver

SMH

Portland City Commissioner who is currently pushing to carry out a $18million cut to the city’s police department and said most 911 calls are unnecessary called the cops on her Lyft driver earlier this month following a dispute about an open window.

Jo Ann Hardesty was allegedly angered when the driver, Richmond Frost, refused to roll the windows up, despite it being recommended policy from the company to keep them down due to the coronavirus.

It followed annoyance over a mix-up about where she was being picked up, all culminating in the driver cancelling the ride and saying Hardesty could find another car.

He attempted to leave the commissioner at a Chevron gas station but she refused to leave the vehicle and placed the call to the cops.

Frost also made a 911 call and officers were forced to arrive at the gas station shortly before 10pm, in spite of the fact that Hardesty has argued that many 911 calls are unnecessary and a police response often not needed, according to the Portland Tribune.

State DPI Wants More Money

Um… no. There are fewer and fewer kids in public education. Ergo, the budget for it should decline with the number of kids we are educating.

MADISON, Wis. — The state Department of Public Instruction wants $1.6 billion more included in its budget over the next couple years than the last budget, but that might not be a request the Republican-led finance committee will grant.

The department is asking for a total of $7.4 billion in 2021-22 and $7.7 billion in 2022-23, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This compares to $6.7 billion in 2020-21.

Mike Thompson, the deputy state superintendent, said the extra money will go toward initiatives in special education, equity and mental health aid.

“We think it’s a realistic budget,” he said. “We think it’s a budget that prioritizes what the citizens of Wisconsin want for educating their kids. It makes investments in kids, and what better investment can we make than in children?”

“Against that backdrop, violent crime has soared.”

Well, if you take cops off the street and tell the rest that you won’t support them, there will be consequences. If I were a citizen in a neighboring community, I would be calling my mayor/alderman and insisting that we don’t send our officers to Minneapolis to risk their lives.

Minneapolis is scrambling to draft in cops from outside the city’s force to help fight a wave of violent crime just months after it began moves to defund its police.

The city is pleading for reinforcements from the sheriff’s office and the transit authority to help respond to a surge in violent 911 calls.

It comes after dozens of officers quit the force in protest at a $1million budget cut and promises from city leaders to scrap the entire department following the death of George Floyd in May.

Since then, violent crime in the city has soared – with homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and arson all up on last year’s figures.

The proposal to fund the reinforcements  – which will cost almost $500,000 – is due to be voted on by the City Council before going to the mayor approval, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
[…]

At the start of the year, the Minneapolis police force employed 1,053 staff – 877 of them officers and 176 civilian staff.

That number had dropped to 987 as of last month – 844 officers and 143 civilians.

In July, the city council voted to move $1.1million from the police department’s budget and fund ‘civilian violence interrupters’ instead.

The ‘well-trained and unarmed’ staff are designed to ‘mediate violent conflicts and help prevent further trouble’.

Against that backdrop, violent crime has soared.

When nobody was looking, West Bend became liberal

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Last night’s vote pretty well proves the thesis. Here’s a part:

It was a good run, but it is over now. After a decade of good governance, local conservatives got lazy. They stopped recruiting and supporting new conservatives to run for local office. The big spenders and lefties returned to power as local conservatives twiddled their thumbs and harrumphed at each other.

Over the past several elections, big spenders and lefties ran for, and won, seats on the Common Council. They are in firm control. The new mayor, Chris Jenkins, trumpets his conservatism in public, but has proven too weak to provide firm conservative leadership in the face of opposition.

Last year the Common Council passed a property tax increase even though the city had the money to pay for the entire budget without raising taxes. They passed a tax increase because they wanted to see if the public would scream too loud. Aldermen John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Steve Hoogester, Justice Madl, and Roger Kist voted to increase taxes. Aldermen Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, and Rich Kasten voted against a tax increase. Since then, all three of the aldermen who voted against the tax increase have left the council and Jenkins was elected mayor.

This year, the council is proposing a 5% tax levy increase that will be used to increase spending and pad employee compensation.

[…]

A council dominated by former public employees seems resentful that a year should pass without increasing taxes. It is easier to keep increasing taxes a little every year and finding a place to spend it instead of only asking for a tax increase when they need it.

Alderwoman Meghann Kennedy has been the lone voice for fiscal conservatism on the council as the rest seem intent on passing annual tax increases irrespective of the need or the property owners’ ability to pay. 2020 has been a tough year for many, but that fact seems lost in the halls of city government.

As I write this column, the public hearing for the budget is in the future. As you read this, the hearing is in the past. Irrespective of how the hearing went or how the council votes, the only way to truly return West Bend to conservative fiscal management is to elect the principled conservatives who will lead future councils. The liberals will always fill a leadership vacuum. If conservatives in West Bend want to see conservative leadership, they will need to get off their duffs and put some effort into it. The same is true all over Wisconsin.

Leadership starts locally.

West Bend Council Passes Tax Increase on 6-2 Vote

There you go, Benders. Enjoy the higher taxes. Alders Randy Koehler and Meghann Kennedy were the only two who voted against the tax increase budget. Alders John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Brett Bergquist, Jed Dolnick, Steve Hoogester, and Justice Madl all voted to increase taxes in a year when citizens were losing their jobs and businesses in the face of a global pandemic.

You get the government you vote for.

Will you do anything about it?

Mark Allen and Steve Hoogester are up for election in April (assuming they run).

Post Election: Wisconsin GOP Needs Change

I agree with Mark Belling on this one:

While state GOP operations improved marginally under Hitt, it is still a Madison-based organization that relies heavily on Madison based consultants who seem talented at only one thing: losing elections.

There is virtually no paid grass roots operation in Wisconsin and the GOP was incompetent at stopping the rush to early voting approved by the state Election Commission and which was largely responsible for President Trump’s Wisconsin loss.

Hitt has also done nothing about the sellout performances of the two GOP members of the state Election Commission who routinely side with democrats and the commission’s liberal staff in egregious rulings that harm Republicans.

If Hitt is reelected, it will prove my point that the Madison-based operation cares only about reelecting cronies in the state legislature and has no concerns about winning either local or statewide races. GOP voters and volunteers in this state, who worked so hard for Trump, deserve better than this incompetent and apathetic Madison bunch.

My observation is that there is a good grass roots organization in some counties, but it is really driven by the leadership of the county organizations. Regardless, the state GOP needs change.

First and foremost, the state GOP operation needs to move out of Madison and nest where Republican voters live. Everybody is subject to the pressure in their personal lives. Madison is a radical leftist enclave. As hard as they try, the Republicans who live there wouldn’t be human if the constant barrage of leftist pressure didn’t influence their behavior. It isn’t the big things. It’s the little ones. It’s the “let’s soften that message because Democrat A’s sister is my kid’s teacher,” or “I lunch with Democrat B and he wouldn’t really do that” (yes, he would). By surrounding themselves with actual conservatives and Republicans, the GOP state party staff would get the support they need to carry the GOP banner.

Furthermore, the Republican coalition is changing and the state party officials need to connect with people. Thanks to Trump, the Republican Party has made great strides with working class people. Madison is dominated by white collar workers and government employees. That is what most Republican Party staffers are too. As they hang out with the other parents at soccer games, attend neighborhood parties, or gather for a local show or sporting event, the Republican Party staffers are part of that crowd. That is their cultural normal. The issues of that crowd are the issues that the Republican Party staffers are internalizing and prioritizing.

If the Wisconsin Republican Party is going to really understand the issues that impact factory workers, farmers, construction workers, small business owners, etc., then they need to make THAT their crowd. They need to live amongst actual grass roots Republicans who care about these issues because it matters. It isn’t a just parlor game for politicians and politicos to win. It matters.

Moving the state party would go a long way to enabling the state GOP to be more successful in the future. I’m thinking Fond du Lac or Wausau would best.

 

West Bend Budget Public Hearing Tonight

They want more money. Per the Washington County Insider.

November 8, 2020 – West Bend, WI – There is a public hearing Monday night, November 9, 2020 as the West Bend common council votes to pass a .08 cent increase in the tax rate which would bring the proposed rate from $7.85 to $7.93.
Pay raises are a large part of the budget increase.
In June 2020 two employees received $12,000 pay increases. Another employee received a $5,000 pay raise to jump to $100,814, and two others had a $4,000+ salary increase to climb to the mid-$90,000 mark. Members of the common council confirmed those employees who received large salary increases will also be part of the cross-the-board 2-percent staff salary increase in 2020.
A request was put in several weeks ago for the 2018-2019 employee payscale. That amount has still yet to be shared.
Right now with the way the 2021 budget is written, we will be imposing a tax increase on our constituents. While some may argue it is a small increase I want everyone to understand I am unequivocally opposed to an increase due to what is happening right now in our community and the impacts we are seeing as a result of COVID.
Layoffs, mandatory furloughs, reduced hours and business closures are common place right now in our community.
Washington County is forcing the county government staff to take 5 mandatory furlough days this year as a cost cutting measure.
Several large Wisconsin companies reduced its staff in 2020 to cut cost, including the #7 largest employer in the state Kohl’s who laid off 15% of its local WI corporate headquarters staff in September.
Within the last year the Wisconsin government ordered non-essential businesses to close their doors for an extended period of time during safer at home and just this week ordered capacity limits of 25% to already struggling businesses.
Data released in late September by the Dept. of Workforce Development showed 713,508 unemployment insurance claims are STILL being processed, that number represents over 98,000 Wisconsinites, and some of those claims date all the way back to March.
Wisconsin unemployment rate has essentially doubled from this time last year.  Currently WI has 6.2% unemployment rate, it was only 3.4% at this time last year.
I do not think it is appropriate for the West Bend common council to raise taxes on our citizens during this time.  Many citizens are trying to sustain their homes and families with less revenue this year.  I think it is unjust for us to turn around and vote to charge more in taxes when with that tax increase the average citizen will not see or feel an increase in services.  It is no secret that a large sum of money will need to go to rising insurance costs for city employees.
Amen.
Hearing is at 6:30. Show up and be heard.

Trump Administration Follows Legal Process

Ummm.. states haven’t even certified their results yet. Biden isn’t the President Elect until the Electoral College votes. This is utterly acceptable.

The Trump appointee in charge of initiating the formal transition to a Joe Biden-led administration has so far refused to sign off on the necessary paperwork to begin the process, raising concerns over whether there will be a smooth transfer of power.

Emily Murphy was tapped by President Trump to head the General Services Administration, the agency in charge of federal buildings.

By law, if a new president is elected, the GSA administrator is required to sign paperwork that officially hands over millions of dollars to the transition team of the incoming administration, formally launching the handover process.

City of West Bend Budget Public Hearing Tomorrow

In a year that was pretty bad financially for a lot of people, the City of West Bend Common Council is looking to pass a 5% property tax levy increase to help cover pay increases and shrink the employee contributions for health insurance.

Some of the pay increases already enacted this year were a $12,124 (11%) increase for the police chief and a $12,642 (12%) increase for the fire chief. The new budget has across the board pay increases and seeks to cover a big increase in health insurance costs while also decreasing the percentage that employees pay for it. A Common Council dominated by former public employees seems intent on shoving taxpayer money into the pockets of government employees as quickly as possible.

The public hearing is tomorrow at 6:30 in the City of West Bend Common Council chambers. Show up and be heard.

 

Marxists Allegedly Threw Away Thousands of Trump Ballots

Might just be baseless boasting, but certainly needs some investigation.

100 Percent Fed Up reports – Two days ago, Fauxton made fun of people who expressed concern over an alarming message he posted on one of his Facebook pages: “Time to come clean. I work for Wayne County, MI, and I threw out every Trump ballot I saw. Tens of thousands of them, and so did my coworkers. I regret no…”(see more)

Facebook users screenshotted his message and posted, “This fool needs to be arrested,” and “Fair election work from a self-proclaimed Marxist.”

Fauxton did not refute his statement but instead asked, “Why do they always say ‘self proclaimed Marxist” you can just say marxist”

California Rejects Racism

In some other good election news.

California voted to reject a proposition to bring back affirmative action with 56% in opposition as of Wednesday, according to the AP. 

Proposition 16 would have allowed public employers and education institutions to “consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in order to address diversity,” and hence uphold affirmative action in admissions and hiring. Affirmative action, as Business Insider’s Erin Fuchs previously reported, originated in the 1960s when former President John F. Kennedy used the term to promote diversity and equality in hiring processes in government contractors.

If this proposition was passed, it would have effectively repealed the 1996 Proposition 209, which terminated affirmative action in public education and employment. While the majority of states do not ban affirmative action, nine states including California, Florida, Michigan, and most recently Idaho have adopted a ban.