Democrats Call for Kavanaugh to Recuse Himself

The Democrats are just insane right now.

A former boss and political ally of Brett Kavanaugh, pushing back on a mounting rallying cry of Senate Democrats, said it is “preposterous” to suggest that the Supreme Court nominee should recuse himself from cases involving Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia, because there is no evidence Kavanaugh and the president made a “deal” about the issue.

“I don’t see the basis for a recusal,” Timothy Flanigan, who served as deputy White House counsel during the early years of the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”

When it was pointed out that Trump had nominated Kavanaugh while under investigation by Mueller — and facing a potential subpoena for his testimony — Flanigan replied, “I’m not sure I see the relevance of that.” He added that “unless there was a credible suggestion that … there’s some kind of deal that Brett would vote against [upholding a subpoena to the president], I frankly find that preposterous.”

Since President Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday night, a number of Democrats have demanded that Kavanaugh commit to recusing himself from any issues involving the Mueller probe that could end up before the court. They have argued that it would be a conflict of interest for him to rule on issues such as a potential subpoena for Trump’s testimony or whether the president can be indicted — and that his vote on a divided court could be decisive, ultimately determining the fate of Trump’s presidency.

“I don’t think he should be on the court, and you can be sure that me and my colleagues on the Democratic side are going to be asking if he will recuse himself, should he be confirmed,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told reporters.

So because Democrats fantasize that Trump made a deal with Kananaugh over an BS investigation, he should commit to recusing himself on some potential, unnamed case that might come before the Supreme Court? Nuts.

FBI Refuses to Answer

Put aside the specific issue, Trump, Gowdy, etc. and consider this in the abstract. What we have here is Congress trying to exercise its Constitutional oversight authority over a law enforcement agency in the Executive Branch, and that agency refusing to cooperate. Abolish ICE? It might be time to abolish the FBI. Which agency has abused the civil rights of more Americans during its existence?

A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly spiraled into chaos on Thursday when FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok said he couldn’t answer a question related to the Russia investigation because the FBI’s lawyers had instructed him not to, leading the committee’s chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to threaten to hold Strzok in contempt.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked Strzok — whose anti-Trump text messages led to his removal from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller — how many interviews he conducted in the first week of the probe.

“Congressman, as you know, counsel for the FBI, based on the special counsel’s equities, has instructed me not to answer questions about the ongoing investigation into Russian attempts to interfere,” Strzok replied.

Gowdy repeated his question and Strzok repeated his answer, infuriating Goodlatte.

“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said. “Are you objecting to the question?”

Baldwin Won’t Vote for Kavanaugh

I’m shocked. SHOCKED!

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she’ll oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, citing his views on health care and abortion rights.

“The people of Wisconsin need a fair, impartial and independent Supreme Court Justice who will stand up for them, not for powerful special interests. I don’t have confidence that Judge Kavanaugh would be that justice,” Baldwin, D-Madison, wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.

Baldwin’s opposition is not surprising. Kavanaugh has yet to have any Democratic senators pledge support for his confirmation, though a few remain undecided — and most have come out strongly opposed.

Rogue School Board Foments Turmoil

This story is amazing, but not surprising.

DPI issued a finding late last month that the Mercer School District inappropriately spent about $175,000 from its community programs and services account — otherwise known as “Fund 80” — over the 2015-’16 and 2016-’17 school years. Most of that was used to boost wages and benefits for a small group of employees, including Torkelson, without adequate documentation, according to the letter.

DPI also admonished board members for voting on bonuses for administrators, including $11,000 for Torkelson, in closed session.

[…]

The DPI probe focused on how the tiny school district spent its Fund 80 dollars for recreation including pickleball and community programming over the two years. Torkelson said in a January interview that the district offers a broad array of programming — child care, senior meals, yoga, art and music classes — that have “transformed the culture of our district.”

Critics dismiss it as a handful of sparsely attended classes and a “walking track” through the halls of the school.

[…]

Of keen interest has been Torkelson’s compensation. Torkelson was paid about $136,000 last year, though his contract was for about $98,000, according to his critics. He said he effectively buys back some of his benefits, including insurance and unused vacation days, but Reinert and others say that should total no more than $114,000.

[…]

And things could get heated. In 2014, a local blogger, Richard Thiede, sued the district for suggesting he was tied to a supposed hacking of the district’s email system. Reinert was slapped with a restraining order over the “Fifty Shades” fracas. Late last year, the board voted to consider legal action against anyone, including Reinert, who forwarded an email letter critical of the district.

[…]

Reinert and Duley, as well as one of the deputies, tried to obtain the district’s video of the meeting, but were not successful.

Months later, then-President Deanna Pierpont told the Journal Sentinel that she had erased it, and that Mercer no longer records its meetings.

“I didn’t like what I saw. … People in the audience were yelling. Students were there. … I just felt that I didn’t want that out on the website.”

Reinert was stunned when she heard, but not entirely surprised.

“Unbelievable. I was afraid they were going to do that,” Reinert said. “It’s illegal. You can’t just get rid of documentation of a public meeting.”

We are seeing shadows of this from local governments (school boards, in particular) all over Wisconsin. Threatening detractors, stonewalling requests for information, conducting the people’s business outside of public view, destroying public records, violating board contracts and policies, an on and on. And when wrongdoing is identified, District Attorneys and the Attorney General are always reluctant to prosecute anyone in local government.

Unfortunately, our form of self-government relies on honorable people conducting the people’s business. Many times, the only real enforcement mechanism for school boards is for the public to vote them out of office. But that takes a long time and relies on the public being able to learn about their malfeasance. This is further aggravated by the collapse of local news outlets’ ability or willingness to ferret out the information. Often times, the local school district is one of the largest advertisers for the local newspaper that is supposed to be covering them. This leaves the hard task of digging out local government dirt to amateurs and angry citizens, who are often marginalized and stonewalled. They simply do not have the time or resources to aggressively investigate suspected bad behavior by local governments.

I don’t really have a good answer. Good government requires that citizens be vigilant about electing good people to office and that they remain engaged to hold their elected officials accountable. But few citizens have the time to really keep tabs on their local municipality, county, school board, and other various governments. Also, information is increasingly difficult to uncover in an era where we, as a people, are not willing to financially support the local media outlets that we need to dig out relevant and actionable information.

The inevitable result is what we are seeing… more and more local governments being run by ne’er-do-wells and buffoons with little regard or capacity for honorable stewardship of the public business.

Baldwin’s Empty Chair

Ouch

Germany’s Gas

Trump is right.

Donald Trump‘s claim that Germany imports 70 per cent of its gas from Russia at a fiery Nato summit today is correct – and the country will soon receive even more.

The EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, says that Russia is responsible for up to 75% of Germany’s total gas imports.

And experts say that figure could dramatically increase after a new pipeline between Russia and Germany opens in two years time.

[…]

Donald Trump also questioned the role of the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who is now working for Gazprom.

Schroeder signed the deal for Nord Stream in haste after being ousted by Angela Merkel in a narrow election defeat in 2005.

Just weeks after leaving office, however, he started overseeing the implementation of the project for Gazprom.

Schroeder took up position as head of Nord Stream AG’s shareholder committee and has worked for the gas behemoth ever since.

The former politician is rumoured to have been paid millions by Gazprom and is set to pocket even more with the announcement of the second phase of the Nord Stream project.

Washington County Sheriff Candidate’s Spouse Signed Walker Recall Petition

It has come to my attention that the wife of one of the two Republican candidates for Washington County Sheriff signed the petition to recall Governor Walker in 2011. Shelly Schulteis is the wife of Captain Marty Schulteis. She is a teacher in the West Bend School District and signed the recall petition. You can see it for yourself here.

One can certainly debate how relevant this fact is, but it is certainly newsworthy. The attempted recall of a sitting governor over the passage of Act 10 was a defining issue in Wisconsin that energized both sides of the debate to a white hot fury. The debate over Act 10 continues to be waged even as the evidence of years has mounted to prove that the Act has been tremendously successful in liberating local governments and taxpayers from the shackles of the entrenched public employee unions. It is precisely because the attempted recall of Governor Walker was so controversial that signing the recall petition continues to be relevant in current events.

In this case, we are not talking about the candidate signing the petition. We are talking about his wife. How relevant is it to how the candidate will perform the job should he win? That’s hard to say. We are also talking about a political office that, although partisan, is not terribly political. While a Sheriff can be politically active and has a philosophical view of how to do the job, 90+% of the job has to do with things like leadership, management, prioritization, communication, preparedness, etc.

Also, Marty Schulteis has a long history on the job in Washington County. If he were a closet lefty who uses his position to advance liberalism, one would think that someone would have noticed by now. I haven’t heard anyone make that claim.

I have met with both candidates and investigated their backgrounds. I am personally still undecided and it’s a close call for me. Both candidates have solid law enforcement bona fides and conservative philosophies, but have slightly different takes on how to be a Sheriff. You can read my column from a few weeks ago about them. This is another piece of data to throw into the decision matrix that wasn’t included in that column.

I asked Captain Schulteis if he would like to comment. He provided a very thoughtful response that I have posted in full below.

My commitment to Washington County is that I will be a Constitutional Sheriff that protects the individual rights of every person.  The first 10 amendments to the US Constitution contain individual rights including the 1st amendment freedom of expression. My core belief in individual rights does not end when I pull into my driveway.

My wife is an exceptionally talented and dedicated local elementary educator of over 20 years.  She is a strong and independent woman and I love her more than life itself. We started dating in high school long before our career paths developed.  She and I share common ground on many public policy issues, but there are other areas that we find ourselves on completely opposite spectrums politically.  One such example is the Governor’s performance.   She signed the Walker petition back in 2011 based on her convictions. She also never left the classroom during the Madison protests based on her convictions.  We have simply agreed to disagree on Act 10.  Anyone with a significant other can probably relate to not always agreeing with one another on some issue.

I was raised in a conservative household and that is simply who I am.  Although I do not agree with her, my greater conviction is that I completely protect her ability to have a difference of opinion.

If elected as Sheriff, my pledge will be to represent all with respect, dedication and fairness.  The Sheriff needs to embody everyone’s common concerns relating to local public safety policy.   It is imperative that the Sheriff can work with others that may not have the same philosophical views, even his wife.

Forum for Candidates For 59th Tomorrow

FYI. Common Sense Citizens of Washington County are hosting a forum tomorrow:

Wednesday night, July 11th will be the voter forum for the four candidates running for the open 59th Assembly seat. The forum will begin at 7:00 and is at the West Bend Moose Lodge.

This is shaping up to be a very interesting race. I’ll have more on it in the days to come.

No Column this Week

Due to some unforeseen issues, I was not able to submit a column for the Washington County Daily News this week. I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, go pick up a copy!

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

By all reports, Judge Kavanaugh is a solid, traditional, judicial conservative. In another era, he would not be controversial at all. Trump is delivering on his promise of nominating great judges.

Mr Kavanaugh has served since 2006 on the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was formerly a White House aide under George W Bush.

He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

[…]

He is the kind of judge a President Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney would have picked – a man with an established legal pedigree and a reputation as a reliably conservative jurist.

If the party sticks together, the president’s choice will be sitting on the Supreme Court when its new term starts in October.

President Trump campaigned with a promise to conservatives that he would fill the federal courts, from the top on down, with judges to their liking.

It’s a promise that has helped cement near-record levels of support for his presidency from Republican voters – and for good reason.

Mr Trump is securing a conservative judiciary for a generation.

Putting Crooks in Jail Reduces Crime

Who would have thought?

Keep two things in mind in assessing the consensus among Democratic gubernatorial candidates — and, apparently, former Governor Tommy Thompson — that Wisconsin incarcerates too many criminals.

  1. In 1990, there were 215,000 crimes reported in Wisconsin. Last year the total was 123,388.
  2. In 1990 Wisconsin prisons housed 7,332 inmates. At the start of this year the number was 23,200.

In other words, the expansion of Wisconsin’s inmate population coincides with a 43 percent reduction in crimes reported by the FBI. Research documents a causal link between reduced crime rates and the incarceration of serious, repeat offenders. The staggering cost of crime to victims is obviously much less, a factor almost never mentioned when discussing the higher costs of incarceration.

It is amazing how many crimes are committed by a few people. Very few people just commit one crime, but almost all crimes are committed by a very few people.

Boris Attacks Semi-Brexit

Zing!

Mr Johnson does not pull any punches, telling Theresa May Brexit “should be about opportunity and hope” and a “chance to do things differently”, but “that dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt”.

He claims crucial decisions have been postponed, including preparations for a “no deal” scenario, “with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system”.

“It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws,” he says.

“In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.”

He said he had congratulated the PM on Friday on getting the cabinet to sign up to her proposals at their Chequers away day, admitting that there were too few ministers on his side of the argument to get their way.

The government now had a “song to sing” on Brexit, he added: “The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat”.

Sometimes the middle road is not the best road.

WI to Exempt Some Small Retailers from Internet Sales Tax

Not only do I not like the tax increase, I thoroughly dislike that an unelected agency is making these arbitrary decisions instead of the legislature.

The Department of Revenue’s administrative rule to allow the state to begin collecting the sales tax on some online transactions will include an exemption for smaller retailers.

The DOR’s announcement yesterday is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for states to begin collecting the sales tax from online and remote sales involving retailers with no physical presence in their states.

That means retailers must have annual sales of at least $100,000 in Wisconsin or at least 200 transactions before having to collect the sales tax.

The Walker administration told WisPolitics.com on Monday that it planned to begin collecting the tax Oct. 1 and was in the process of notifying retailers.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Monday released a memo projecting the state could collect an additional $90 million in the current fiscal year if it began collecting the tax Oct. 1. It would then bring in an estimated $120 million annually.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules for Academic Liberty

It is almost ironic that Conservatives are the ones who have to fight in court for academic freedom. That used to be a cause that liberals supported.

July 6, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI — Today the Supreme Court of Wisconsin delivered a clear, decisive victory for our client, Dr. John McAdams, a conservative political science professor who was indefinitely suspended by Marquette University for blogging on a controversial topic. The victory ends a nearly four year fight between the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Marquette University to have McAdams reinstated.

As we have argued since the beginning, the only thing Professor McAdams wants to do is to teach students with the academic freedom protections promised by Marquette University. And, because of today’s ruling, McAdams will be back in the classroom very soon.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Dan Kelly, found that Professor McAdams’ blog post in defense of an undergraduate student – and criticizing a graduate student instructor – could not possibly have shown him to be unfit as a member of Marquette’s faculty, and Marquette’s decision to fire him violated its contractual promise to protect his academic freedom.

In addition, according to the Court, a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. The Court rejected the notion that disciplinary decisions regarding free speech by faculty members should be made by administration or faculty. The concept of academic freedom is worthless unless it protects expression which is opposed by the institution and is unpopular with most of the faculty.

Furthermore, today’s decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court relies on one of the simplest rules of fairness – you cannot punish somebody for violating a rule that did not exist when it was supposedly “broken.” Universities are free to create rules – even strict rules – about what their tenured professors can and cannot say publicly. What they cannot do is make up rules after the fact to punish a professor they want to get rid of.

Protesters Call for Revocation Reform

I agree that this process needs reform, but in the other direction. Parole and other forms of conditional release are just that… conditional. The criminal was duly sentenced to incarceration and is obligated to serve that full sentence if they violate the conditions of their release. Our system doesn’t do it fast or often enough.

Criminal justice reform advocates gathered in front of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections office Tuesday to call for changes to the state’s community supervision policies.

Chanting, “No more crimeless revocation, we demand their liberation,” the crowd of about two dozen community members argued that too many people are locked up for violating their parole, probation or extended supervision agreements.

“You are taking productive members out of society,” said Jerome Dillard, leader of Ex-incarcerated People Organizing, about the state’s corrections department.

Supreme Power

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. And now that I’ve ruminated and griped about how much power we have ceded to an unelected branch of government, the realities of today dictate that we must get a good, constructionist jurist in place before the election.

The Supreme Court of the Unites States completed its session with a flurry of mostly good rulings and Justice Anthony Kennedy added an exclamation point by announcing his retirement. With the prospect of President Trump’s second appointment to the court looming, every politician and special interest in America has launched into battle as if the world depended on the outcome.

I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness for the state of our republic. It was never supposed to be like this.

Somehow we have drifted from Judge Marshall’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, “that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument” to a point where the Supreme Court of the United States is routinely called the “final arbiter of the Constitution” without so much as a second thought. But interpretation and enforcement of the Constitution is not the sole responsibility of the Supreme Court. Even Marshall acknowledged this fact when he includes “other departments” in the quote above. Those “other departments” are the other two branches of government.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It supersedes anything generated by any part of the government. This is what Marshall meant when he wrote: “The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.”

In other words, a written constitution is meaningless if it is able to be quashed by a simple act of the legislature or by an arbitrary regulation from the executive. It is the responsibility of every branch of the government to maintain the integrity of the Constitution.

It is worth noting that Marshall closed his opinion by pointing out that the oath taken by judges obligates the judges to place the Constitution above other considerations. The oath taken by a judge reads, in part: “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This portion of a federal judge’s oath is also included in the oath taken by a soldier, a senator, a congressman and, most notably, a new United States citizen. Just as a new citizen must verbally vow to support and defend the Constitution, each natural- born American citizen implicitly adheres to the same oath as a duty of citizenship. It is every citizen’s duty to support and defend the Constitution.

It must be remembered that the Constitution is a document that restricts what the federal government can do. The federal government is specifically denied the power to do anything outside of the specific powers delegated to it in the Constitution.

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a ninejudge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.

As the federal government’s overseers, it is the American people’s historic responsibility to fasten tight the constitutional fetters with which we bind our government and closely guard the key. Yet over the past two centuries, we have fallen asleep on our watch and left the keys dangling within easy reach of our charge.

I do not fault the political factions in our nation for waging a rhetorically bloody crusade for control of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has become the nuclear weapon of the modern American political landscape, control of which dictates supremacy. At the same time, every citizen should take to heart the words written in our Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Supreme Court only has as much power as Americans consent to give it.

 

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

 

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

 

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

 

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

 

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

 

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

 

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

 

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

 

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

 

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

 

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

 

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

 

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

Walker Administration to Levy Tax Increase on October 1st

Booooo

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to expand collection of taxes for online purchases by Oct. 1 as permitted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

How it will do so — and whether small retailers might be exempt from having to collect and remit taxes for online sales — remains unclear, because the administration isn’t addressing those details yet.

Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg said “we plan to start collections on Oct. 1” but referred other questions to the Department of Revenue, which oversees tax collections.

School Districts Fail to Use Act 10 to Control Budgets

The Wisconsin Department of Administration has done the public a massive service by releasing a detailed description of every Wisconsin School District’s health insurance plans. You can find it here.

The first thing that jumps out is that the health insurance plans that Wisconsin’s school districts give to their employees are still very generous. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We want our teachers to have good health insurance, but many private employers offer good health insurance and their costs are lower.

The average yearly premium for a family plan in Wisconsin’s school districts is $20,062.44. That compares to an average yearly premium of $18,764 in the U.S. For some rough math… if 50% of the 108,820 Wisconsin public school employees have a family plan and paid the national average, it would save taxpayers over $70 million per year – and district employees would still be receiving good health insurance.

The second thing that jumps out is that school districts are not taking advantage of Act 10 to control costs. Act 10 decoupled benefits decisions from union negotiations and left them at the discretion of the governing body. In this case, the local school boards have the power to determine the health insurance plans offered and the amount that employees pay for their share.

Across all 422 Wisconsin School Districts, Employees still only pay an average of 11.7% of the cost of their health insurance premiums for a family plan and 11.5% for a single plan. This is far below the average for private or government employees. According to the BLS, private sector employees pay an average of 33% of their health insurance premiums. State and local government employees pay an average of 29%! So here in Wisconsin, public school employees are paying less than half what other state and local employees pay for health insurance despite local school boards having complete power to being their employees into the national mainstream.

Clearly, there is still plenty of money to waste in our schools.

A Closer Look at the West Bend School District

Of course, since I live in the West Bend School District and they are preparing to ask the tax payers for tens of millions of dollars in a referendum despite declining enrollment, I have to take a look at my own district.

In the West Bend School District, the annual premium for a family plan is well above the state average coming in at $21,864. That does not include the fact that the school district provides an on-site clinic that provides services at no cost to the employees and without any co pays.

While receiving a more expensive health insurance plan, West Bend School District employees pay far less than other districts. Employees pay 8.2% of the premium for a family plan and 13.3% for a single plan. Furthermore, employees can earn a premium differential. The report doesn’t say how employees qualify for the differential, but a premium differential is generally a discount for things like not smoking, participating in wellness activities, etc. If an employee qualifies for the entire differential, their percentage for a family plan drops to 2.7% of the total premium, or $49 per month.

Just to recap, for a family plan, the average American state or local government employee pays 29% of the premium, the average Wisconsin school district employee pays 11.7%, and an employee of the West Bend School District pays 8.2%.

If the West Bend School District merely adopted a health insurance plan that was near the national average and asked employees to pay for 29%, it would save taxpayers $8,393 – PER FAMILY POLICY PER YEAR.

I ask the taxpayers of West Bend to remember these numbers when the district comes around again claiming poverty and asking for more money. The West Bend School Board, despite their claims of conservative leadership, are failing to manage benefits costs even to national or state norms.

Supreme Power

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. You can find the whole thing by following the link. Here’s a snippet:

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a nine judge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.