Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Tag: Column

UWM’s disgraceful appeasement

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here you go:

Most Americans have stood aghast as a wave of antisemitic and pro-Hamas protests swept through our universities. We thought that such hate was the stuff of 1905 Russia or 1938 Germany, but here we are witnessing it in 2024 America amongst those who are supposed to be our future. Many universities responded deplorably, but none more so than the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 

Hamas has been clear about their goal to wipe out Israel and the Jews who live there since their inception. Everything they have done — including the October 7 massacre — has been to further that goal. While one can criticize Israel’s response to the attacks and wish for peace, the campus protests long since descended into the hateful rhetoric of, and support for, Hamas.

 

Some universities took immediate action to clear out illegal encampments and threatening protesters. Some universities offered minimal appeasement coupled with a firm rejection of hate. Then there is UWM, which decided to weigh in with full-throated support for Hamas and has encouraged a campus culture where Jewish students can no longer feel safe.

 

The protests and encampment at UWM was instigated by the UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition (PUPC), whose coalition includes the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Un-PAC, and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA). These groups range in interests from communism to overthrowing capitalism to ending our republic to the destruction of Israel. All of their interests coalesced around supporting Hamas in their terrorism against Jews.

 

These groups are well-funded and well-organized. In return for ending an encampment that was already illegal, UWM Chancellor Mark Mone and the UWM leadership gave these communists and Hamas supporters a seat at the table. Mone agreed to have the UWM Foundation release financial statements to the PUPC and meet with them to discuss where the Foundation invests.

 

Mone also agreed to “study” whether UWM should end studying abroad in Israel and pressured the Water Council, on whose board Mone serves, to end relationships with two Israeli companies. Mone agreed to forgo any punishments for the protestors’ encampments despite the violation of state law. He agreed to further meetings and a working group with PUPC for a “series of campus conversations and educational opportunities.” That’s eduspeak for “spreading Hamas propaganda.”

 

Most egregious was Mone’s statement on behalf of UWM condemning Israel for responding to Hamas’ violent pogrom of October 7. Calling Israel’s war in Gaza a “plausible genocide,” Mone calls for a ceasefire in Gaza without any precondition for Hamas to release hostages or stop their violence against civilians. Mone voiced this condemnation with full knowledge that Hamas started the war, raped and killed civilian women and children, and has repeatedly rejected a ceasefire. Mone’s statement is indistinguishable from those issued by antisemites and Hamas supporters that were camping on the UWM campus.

 

Rightfully, Jewish groups Hillel Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and the Anti-Defamation League Midwest, condemned Mone’s UWM for appeasing PUPC. After reminding us that Mone has refused to meet with Jewish students despite a surge of antisemitic incidents on campus since October 7, they say, “Chancellor Mone gave protesters who fueled hate and violated school policies at UWM a seat at the table and even invited them to nominate individuals and faculty to serve on key university committees and working groups … the chancellor’s decision to grant immunity to individuals who mocked and broke school rules and the law sets a dangerous precedent for future incidents on campus.” Indeed, it does.

 

When given an opportunity to educate young adults and reject antisemitic, terrorist, and communist activists, UWM and Chancellor Mone chose to support and enable them. This choice is a disgrace that succors a culture of hate on the UWM campus.

Biden’s and Baldwin’s actions support Hamas

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s you go.

International affairs are inherently complicated with cross-currents of cultures, economies, religion, and philosophies in the deep ocean of history. The current war in the Gaza Strip in Israel, however, in a moment of moral clarity on which President Joe Biden and Senator Tammy Baldwin are demonstrating moral bankruptcy.

 

The fighting in the Middle East dates back to the very dawn of human civilization as a resource-rich and trading nexus of the ancient and modern world. The current war’s roots, however, are very modern.

 

When Israel came into its modern existence in 1948, the area known as the Gaza Strip was Egyptian territory and remained so for nearly 20 years. In 1967, a coalition of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan launched an unprovoked war against Israel that became known as the Six-Day War. Israel overwhelmingly won that war and seized the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights as the spoils of war and as a security buffer.

 

The Gaza Strip has been a part of Israel since 1967. In 2005, bowing to international pressure, Israel gave the Gaza Strip to the Gazans for them to self-govern and withdrew all forces, although Israel maintained border security for and with the Gaza Strip.

 

Promptly in 2006, the Gazans elected Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organization supported by Iran, to govern the Gaza Strip. Since 2006, Hamas has regularly launched rockets and small-scale attacks into Israel. Hamas has enjoyed widespread support by the Gazans for nearly 20 years.

 

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a bloody attack across the border killing about 1,200 people of all ages and genders, and they took over 250 people back to Gaza as hostages. It was a bloody, bigoted, indiscriminate attack against civilians including babies and grandmothers. As bloody bodies were paraded through the streets in Gaza, the Gazans cheered. This is not the case of an unwelcome totalitarian government ruling over an innocent population. This is the case of a government acting with the overwhelming majority of their citizens supporting their barbarity.

 

Israel responded the same way I hope America would if the people of Tijuana attacked San Diego and butchered women and children. Israel fought back to eliminate the hostile threat while taking extraordinary measures to limit civilian deaths. The fact that some civilians are being killed is the direct result of Hamas’ policy to use them as human shields.

 

This is not a complicated war. Hamas is an Islamist terror group that is wantonly killing civilians from their power base and then hiding behind their own citizens when Israel pushes back. To support anything other than Israel’s right and duty to rid the world of Hamas is to support the perpetuation of hate, bigotry, murder, and terror.

 

Yet, that is where we find President Biden and Senator Baldwin. As always, we must watch what they do — not what they say. Biden has attempted to split the baby with his rhetoric vacillating between powerful support for Israel and appeasement to Hamas. His actions, however, lean heavily in favor of Hamas.

 

Biden has been calling for a ceasefire without the precondition of releasing all of the hostages which only benefits Hamas. Biden has condemned Israel for civilian casualties despite Israel’s extraordinary efforts to keep them to a minimum while Hamas pushes civilians into the fray. Last week, Biden unilaterally halted the shipment of ammunition to Israel and has threatened to halt more shipments if Israel moves to root out Hamas in their last remaining stronghold in Rafah.

 

Hamas never had a greater ally than President Biden.

 

Meanwhile, Senator Baldwin is in lock-step with Biden and Hamas providing rhetorical and legislative support whenever they need it. Baldwin has always been a loyal vote of support for whatever the Democrat leadership wants. This case is no different.

 

In a moment of crystal clear moral clarity, Biden and Baldwin have put themselves on the wrong side of history.

Government solutions make things worse

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here you go.

President Joe Biden is continuing his illegal and obvious effort to buy votes by “forgiving” student loans. It is a healthy reminder that government involvement makes everything worse. Let us remind ourselves of how we got here.

 

The cost of college has been increasing for decades far in excess of almost any other major expense. Throughout this period, our culture shifted and parents and K-12 educators pushed more and more kids to college by portraying college as a requirement for future financial stability and personal fulfillment. This characterization is not wrong, but it is also not universal. There are many paths to financial stability and personal fulfillment.

 

As demand for college continued to swell, the prices continued to rise (basic demand curve consequences), and students took on more and more debt to pay for their sheepskin Golden Ticket to the Middle Class. According to The Education Data Initiative, the cost of college has risen by 747.8% since 1963 after adjusting for inflation.

 

Prior to 2010, college students primarily had to get student loans from private financial institutions. In this construct, the private financial institutions were taking a risk loaning tens of thousands of dollars to 18year-olds with no credit history and no current means of paying the loan back. Those institutions generally required a co-signer from a responsible adult before issuing the loan. Private institutions were taking a risk on the future earning potential of college aspirants. The risk and apposite interest rates served as market pressures to limit the amount that students could borrow.

 

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson pushed for and signed the Higher Education Act. Part of that law was the Guaranteed Student Loan Program or Federal Family Education Loan Program. In this scheme, the federal government became the co-signing guarantor for student borrowers based on a few qualifications. With the federal government guaranteeing the loans, the private financial institutions providing the loans relaxed their requirements and were much more willing to provide more money to students.

 

Demand was rising and the supply of money to meet that demand became easier to get. America’s colleges rose to the challenge by continuing to increase prices to accept the available money supply.

 

Over the decades, the qualifications for the loans guaranteed by the federal government were gradually loosened to allow more students to borrow more money. Between 1965 and 1992, all federally guaranteed loans were subsidized with the taxpayers paying the loan interest while students were still in school. In 1992, the federal government began guaranteeing unsubsidized loans where the student loans would continue to accrue interest for the student to pay back after graduation.

 

In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a law that had the federal government allow higher interest PLUS student loans for graduate students that would also allow them to borrow up to the total cost of attendance.

 

2010 was a pivot point. President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. This law eliminated the Federal Family Education Loan Program by requiring all federal student loans to be Direct Loans. Effectively, it was a government takeover of student loans as it was no longer economically viable for private financial institutions to compete with the federal government for high-risk borrowers.

 

With the federal government now in charge of student loans, any remaining market pressures to regulate the issuance of debt were eliminated. With an unlimited supply of money, the decision to issue a loan to a student became perfunctory. The people issuing the loans did not care about the risk because it was not their money. The students taking the loans were willing to take as much money as possible. The politicians overseeing the programs were, and are, motivated by political considerations and not economic considerations.

 

We have created a third-party payer system in higher education where the people paying for the service (taxpayers) are paying for an unrelated person (students) to receive a service from provider (colleges). By trifurcating the financial transaction, market forces that might otherwise provide downward pressure on prices or demand are obscured.

 

The result was inevitable. With students able to borrow as much as they want from an unlimited vat of cash, colleges raised prices to capture as much money as possible. According to the Education Data Initiative, College tuition inflation averaged 12% annually from 2010 to 2022. That is twice as fast as tuition was increasing in the previous decade and well above the rate of currency inflation.

 

With the federal government now fully in charge of student loans, political motivations trump economic realities, fairness, and common sense. In a tough election year on the tail end of a disastrous presidency, Biden is willing to violate the law to force the taxpayers to eat the debt of borrowers in order to buy their votes. In doing so, Biden will further exacerbate the problem of rising college costs and debts for short-term political gain.

 

LBJ created the problem by having the federal government guarantee student loans. Obama accelerated the problem by having the federal government take over student loans. Biden is inflaming the problem by effectively having the federal government eliminate loans and just pay for college through debt “forgiveness.”

 

Government intrusion always makes things worse. President Reagan was right. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Don’t let your regrets be found on a path untraveled

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

Graduation season is upon us. Our youngest two children will accept their college diplomas this year along with thousands of others across the country. As these graduates embark upon the sea of adulthood, I offer five pieces of advice that will serve them well.

 

First, do not have debt. If you have debt, pay it off as soon as possible and do not take any more debt. This might mean living meagerly for some time and making hard choices, but living without debt liberates you from servitude and creates a foundation upon which to build wealth at any income.

 

Without debt, every dollar earned can be spent on savings (for gaining financial freedom), necessities (for a life without want), or giving (to make your community better). You will have to resist the temptations of consumerism and get comfortable with having less than your friends. Work hard, be frugal, save for big purchases, and live beneath your means. Your mental health will be better, and your 40-year-old self will thank you for the financial freedom you gave them.

 

Second, do your own laundry. This is a metaphor to do everything for yourself. You are an adult now. Act like it. Do your laundry. Iron your clothes. Clean the bathroom. Do the dishes. Keep your car maintained. Make the grocery list. Shop for the economical phone plan. Buy birthday and anniversary cards for your family. Make the appointment with the doctor. Go to the dentist twice a year. If you don’t know how to do something, ask or find a YouTube video to show you how.

 

Doing things for yourself is not just about getting the task done. It is about severing dependency from your parents and giving yourself the confidence and self-assurance that only comes from living independently. Even if your parents offer to do something for you, kindly decline their generosity. You will never be respected as an adult until you act like one. Nobody respects the 24-year-old whose mommy does their laundry.

 

Third, travel. Don’t add debt to travel, but travel nonetheless. Drive somewhere. Hike something. If you can, fly somewhere. Take a bus. Take a train. Go alone. Split a room somewhere with friends. Camp. Travel to other places. Meet different people. Eat strange foods. Experience different cultures. Whether it’s a weekend in Memphis or a month in Europe, make travel a priority within your means.

 

Travel is the great teacher. There are things to learn by being somewhere, talking to people, touching things, and experiencing life that cannot be taught from a page or screen. Go educate yourself about the world by being out in it. Break out of your comfort zone or find another one. You will never have another time in your life with as few encumbrances as you have now. Don’t let your regrets be found on a path untraveled.

 

Fourth, work hard. Irrespective of your chosen profession, working hard will always serve you well. Yes, I know it sounds trite and you might think that you work hard already. Work harder. There are only a handful of things that differentiate mediocre employees from exceptional employees. Work ethic is one of those things.

 

Doubtless, your first few jobs out of college will be a grind. As the youngest person on the job, you get the most menial, tedious, grunt kind of work. Do it. Do it well. Do it with pride. Learn to grind. Learn to embrace the suck. Every great career starts with the grind and you don’t get to tell war stories as a seasoned professional at the top of your craft if you don’t put in the grind.

 

Finally, go to church, or synagogue, or temple, or whatever your faith commands. When you are out in the world, you are unmoored from the stable docks of your youth. It can be lonely. At church you will find that stability and a fellowship of people who will help share your burdens. It is also increasingly difficult to make friends as an adult. That is why so many of people’s truly good friends are the ones they met in their youth.

 

From the Christian perspective, which is my own, church also provides that sense of perspective and contentment that will get you through the tough bits. To know that you are adrift in an infinite sea of humanity across time and space, and yet still seen and held precious by your loving Lord is humbling and uplifting. You do not struggle or succeed alone. You are never alone.

 

For the graduates, your age of adolescence is over. Now your age of adulthood begins. Go live it.

 

 

WIAA considers implementing NIL

My full column for the Washington County Daily News is below. I was delighted to see that the WIAA rejects NIL in its meeting yesterday. Well done.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, the voluntary governing body for high school sports in the state, will take up the question of whether high school athletes should be allowed to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) as in college sports. I strongly urge the WIAA to reject this proposal.

 

To date, 31 other states have already allowed NIL in high school sports. Wisconsin’s high school athletic directors, who comprise the membership of the WIAA, have been reluctant to follow suit, but it appears that such reluctance may have been overcome.

 

At issue is the definition of “amateur.”

 

The simple definition is that if one is not directly paid to compete in a sport, then one is an amateur. For decades, high school and college sports insisted that their athletes be true amateurs to preserve the competitive balance of sports. We did not want rich schools to pay professional athletes to dominate a sport. The loophole in the system was that wealthy school supporters would give gifts or highly paid noshow/ low-show jobs to talented athletes to attract them to a particular school. To combat this, the WIAA, NCAA, and other athletic governing bodies banned athletes from profiting from the fact that they are athletes. These governing bodies tended to over-enforce the rules to the point that athletes were wary of even having a regular job for fear of losing their amateur status.

 

A push began several years ago to allow athletes at the college level to profit from their NIL. I was a supporter of this. The rationale is simple. College athletes are adults competing within a highly profitable athletic monopoly and it is unfair for everyone to make money off of their talent except them. The vast majority of college athletes do not receive scholarships and will never compete as professionals. If they can make a few bucks supporting the local car dealership because they are a popular track star at the local college, then we should not stand in their way.

 

The implementation of NIL is currently ruining college sports. Between the transfer portal and lucrative NIL contracts, the competitive and rooting nature of college athletics is being gutted. While I still support NIL for college athletics for the reasons above, it needs significant reform to preserve college sports. The National Collegiate Athletics Association should, for example, reinstitute the rule whereby college athletes must sit on the bench for a year if they transfer to a different school.

 

While I support NIL for college sports, high school sports are different for one significant reason. The athletes are minors.

 

They are dependents of their parents who are responsible for their care. Money made from the athletes’ NIL does not go to the athlete, but to the athlete’s parent or guardian.

 

This fact makes NIL at the high school level take on the attributes of exploitation of a minor rather than freeing the athlete from exploitation.

 

The other movement in sports that corrupts this issue is the spread of legal sports gambling. Americans have always gambled on sports, but it was relegated to shadowy corners of society. We shunned it from the light because of the corrosive nature of gambling on competition. The availability of online sports betting and a growing cultural acceptance has made sports betting a big business and many people participate.

 

The corrosive effect of gambling is already seeping into high school sports. Infusing NIL money and influences into high school athletics will only increase the incentives and abilities of bad actors to corrupt the games.

 

It is not difficult to imagine someone with a betting interest in a high school sport using NIL influence to change the outcomes. We have a long history of cheating on sports to win a bet.

 

It is important for high school athletes to be able to work a job or receive reasonable gifts without jeopardizing their amateur status and ability to compete. The WIAA should work to clarify those rules so that athletes can work and compete without fear. But the WIAA should reject implementing NIL in Wisconsin. The risks to the athletes and their sports are not worth the rewards.

WIAA considers implementing NIL

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

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, the voluntary governing body for high school sports in the state, will take up the question of whether high school athletes should be allowed to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) as in college sports. I strongly urge the WIAA to reject this proposal.

 

To date, 31 other states have already allowed NIL in high school sports. Wisconsin’s high school athletic directors, who comprise the membership of the WIAA, have been reluctant to follow suit, but it appears that such reluctance may have been overcome.

 

At issue is the definition of “amateur.”

 

The simple definition is that if one is not directly paid to compete in a sport, then one is an amateur. For decades, high school and college sports insisted that their athletes be true amateurs to preserve the competitive balance of sports. We did not want rich schools to pay professional athletes to dominate a sport. The loophole in the system was that wealthy school supporters would give gifts or highly paid noshow/ low-show jobs to talented athletes to attract them to a particular school. To combat this, the WIAA, NCAA, and other athletic governing bodies banned athletes from profiting from the fact that they are athletes. These governing bodies tended to over-enforce the rules to the point that athletes were wary of even having a regular job for fear of losing their amateur status.

 

[…]

 

While I support NIL for college sports, high school sports are different for one significant reason. The athletes are minors.

 

They are dependents of their parents who are responsible for their care. Money made from the athletes’ NIL does not go to the athlete, but to the athlete’s parent or guardian.

 

This fact makes NIL at the high school level take on the attributes of exploitation of a minor rather than freeing the athlete from exploitation.

 

The other movement in sports that corrupts this issue is the spread of legal sports gambling. Americans have always gambled on sports, but it was relegated to shadowy corners of society. We shunned it from the light because of the corrosive nature of gambling on competition. The availability of online sports betting and a growing cultural acceptance has made sports betting a big business and many people participate.

 

The corrosive effect of gambling is already seeping into high school sports. Infusing NIL money and influences into high school athletics will only increase the incentives and abilities of bad actors to corrupt the games.

 

It is not difficult to imagine someone with a betting interest in a high school sport using NIL influence to change the outcomes. We have a long history of cheating on sports to win a bet.

 

It is important for high school athletes to be able to work a job or receive reasonable gifts without jeopardizing their amateur status and ability to compete. The WIAA should work to clarify those rules so that athletes can work and compete without fear. But the WIAA should reject implementing NIL in Wisconsin. The risks to the athletes and their sports are not worth the rewards.

West Bend School District eyes November referendum

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

According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, 60.2% of the 103 proposed school referendums in Wisconsin passed this April. That is down from the 80.1% that passed in 2022 and 85.6% that passed in 2020. That last time that support for school referendums had this little support was in the wake of the Great Recession.

 

[…]

 

The core issue facing the West Bend School District is a decline in enrollment. After peaking about 10 years ago, enrollment has been steadily declining and is projected to continue to decline for the foreseeable future. It is a pervasive demographic trend throughout Wisconsin. According to the district’s figures, enrollment declined 18.6% over the past 10 years and will be down almost 40% off peak in another 10 years. The result is that the district has far too much physical space for far too few students. The district needs to right-size its physical footprint to match reality.

 

First, we must dispel the notion that any school district needs more money to shrink. When a business sees a downturn, they close stores and reduce staff. Nobody gives a business more money to get smaller. School districts do not need more money to get smaller either.

 

They can close and sell facilities, move and reduce staff, and change bus routes at no additional cost to taxpayers.

 

Voters must not allow “declining enrollment” to be conflated with “need more money.”

 

[…]

 

According to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction data, in 2011-2012, the West Bend School District spent $82.5 million to educate 7,010 children (DPI uses a three-year rolling average for student count, so actual student count is a bit lower), or $11,763 per child. In 20212022, they spent $121.9 million to educate 6,491 students, or $18,779 per child. That is a 59.6% increase in per-student spending in just ten years. Yes, inflation has been part of that story in the past four years, but not even that accounts for such an increase in spending.

 

Where did all of that money go? Clearly it did not go to updating facilities or they would not be about to ask for more money in a referendum. According to ACT and other test scores tracked by the DPI, educational performance has been flat or declining. The district spent a fair amount paying off old debt from previous referendums. The district also abandoned a proposed merit pay system for staff in 2020. It is difficult to justify that much additional spending in a district with declining enrollment while failing to properly manage the district’s facilities.

Illegal ballot drop boxes an invitation for election fraud

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

Gov. Tony Evers has called on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to allow election drop boxes throughout Wisconsin. It is telling that he is not proposing legislation to allow drop boxes, but is, instead, calling on his activist allies on the High Court to impose drop boxes by judicial fiat. There are two separate questions regarding this issue. Is it legal? Is it a good idea? Let us start with the first question.

 

During the 2020 election during the pandemic, the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave guidance for local election officials to use drop boxes to collect absentee ballots. Most likely, they gave this guidance at the behest of local officials trying to grapple with running an election during a pandemic when many people were not comfortable going out in public. While the WEC’s and local officials’ motives to use absentee ballot drop boxes may have been benign, it was not legal.

 

Wisconsin’s election laws are extensive and prescribe how elections are to be held, who can vote, what identification is needed, how ballots are to be secured, and how absentee ballots are to be handled. Despite the lengthy statutes setting how elections are to be conducted, they are silent on the topic of drop boxes. The law neither allows them nor forbids them.

The laws do, however, provide detailed rules on how to manage absentee ballots. The fact legislatures of the past under Republican and Democrat control wrote these laws without mentioning drop boxes is important. Drop boxes have been used in other states for years, but prior legislatures decided not to include their use in Wisconsin’s statutes. This is why, in the ruling issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court less than two years ago, Justice Hagedorn wrote: “We conclude WEC’s staff erred by authorizing a voting mechanism not authorized by law. The memos created a ballot drop box scheme entirely absent from Wisconsin’s election code. The legislature’s ‘carefully regulated’ procedures for absentee voting do not permit voting via ballot drop boxes.”

 

Ballot drop boxes are clearly illegal in Wisconsin. With the new leftist majority on the Supreme Court, however, the issue has been challenged again despite the recent ruling on the matter. None of the facts have changed. Only the justices have changed. This is why Governor Evers and his comrades are asking the court to reverse its earlier decision and allow ballot drop boxes without ever proposing legislation to allow them in the statutes.

While clearly illegal at this time, they may be a good idea. It is a subject that can be sincerely debated with good points on both sides. This is what the Legislature is for — for duly elected representatives of the people to debate and vote for laws that that set public policy.

 

If we are to have ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin, the procedure for how to manage and secure them should be defined by law to ensure consistency and secure elections across the state. They should be monitored in person or by video that is archived. People should not be permitted to insert a ballot into the drop box without first taking a picture of their face in case the ballot is challenged. And only one ballot should be able to be inserted at a time with a minimum 30-second interval between each inserted ballot.

 

The problem with drop boxes in the current usage — particularly unmonitored ones — is that they are easily susceptible to election fraud. Bad actors can drop hundreds or thousands of fraudulent ballots into drop boxes without the person ever having to identify themselves. It is a gaping hole in our election security. If we are going to have drop boxes, let us do it in a way that maintains secure and fair elections. Wisconsin law dictates how local officials must run elections and manage ballots in every other case. How we might use ballot drop boxes should not be left to the discretion of local election officials.

 

However, Wisconsin does not need ballot drop boxes. People who are unable or unwilling to vote in person can already mail in their absentee ballots without ever leaving their homes. Wisconsin also has generous inperson early voting times for weeks before an election. Wisconsin’s same day registration even makes it easy to vote if someone forgets to register in advance of the election. There are currently no significant barriers to voting that providing absentee ballot drop boxes would remedy.

 

The question is, then, why are Governor Evers and his comrades so adamant that Wisconsin allow ballot drop boxes? Evers took to X last week to declare, “Drop box voting is safe and secure. Period.” That is demonstrably false. A quick search reveals hundreds of videos and stories of people shoving dozens or hundreds of ballots at a time into ballot drop boxes throughout America. There is no good, legal reason that anyone should be putting multiple ballots into a drop box. One can deduce that Evers’ rabid support for unsecured ballot drop boxes does not come from honorable intentions.

 

Sadly, I expect the activist leftist majority on the Supreme Court to reverse the recent, and correct, decision of the court to prohibit drop boxes. Without statutory guidance to govern the use and security of the drop boxes, their yawning invitation to commit election fraud will further undermine confidence that Wisconsin truly has a secure and fair elections.

Evers’ Bad Friday

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here it is:

On Good Friday, Wisconsin’s Christians paused to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus and plan for weekend family celebrations of his rising. Gov. Tony Evers used the time to veto 41 bills. This column lacks the space to catalog every bad decision Evers made on Friday, so let us try to narrow it down to the top five.

 

Evers has been very vocal about the need for Wisconsin to support child care providers. Child care is expensive and there are not enough providers to meet the demand. This problem has been exacerbated by inflation, regulations, the inability of providers to pay higher wages without raising prices, and the end of government subsidies from the various federal COVID bailouts.

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill to help child care providers with a state loan program. Evers vetoed it. He did so claiming that it was not enough. Evers would rather that the state provide no help at all if it is not his plan. He does not really care about helping ease the child care crisis. He cares about it being a political issue for himself.

 

Evers vetoed another bill that would have prohibited John Doe investigations in cases where a district attorney had already declined to press charges because of self-defense or defense of others. Wisconsin’s John Doe laws are an old process intended to allow an independent investigator to investigate if a crime has been committed. Under John Doe, the investigation is done in secret to protect innocent people from being publicly maligned with an unfounded accusation while they are investigated. We saw during the Scott Walker era how the John Doe process was turned into a political weapon by activist leftist district attorneys and judges.

 

By vetoing this bill, those same prosecutorial and judicial activists can use the John Doe process to go after police officers and civilians who were already cleared of a crime for reasons of self-defense or defense of others. In particular, this will empower the anti-police activists to continually ruin the lives of good cops who had to use force to defend themselves or the public. Evers is helping to fuel anti-police activism.

 

Another bill would have prohibited credit card companies from tracking firearm purchases in the state. This has been advocated by anti-civil rights activists as a way to facilitate discrimination against people who legally exercise their rights to keep and bear arms. Evers is on the side of the oppressors and wants to make it easier to suppress our civil rights.

 

It may shock some to learn that government school districts do not have to put contracts out to bid. Some do so as a matter of good policy, but it is not required by law. This means that when school districts pass those massive building referendums, they can award those contracts to whomever they want without seeking competitive bids. This is an obvious avenue for massive corruption at the expense of taxpayers.

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill that would have required government school districts to conduct a legitimate bidding process for any contracts over $150,000. Evers vetoed it. He wants to make it as easy as possible for government schools to dole out tax dollars to their favorites even if it is not a good deal for taxpayers. For Evers, it is not about the taxpayers. It is about political favoritism at all levels.

 

The last example is the most egregious. We have a mental health crisis in this country. The aftershocks of the government mismanagement of the pandemic coupled with a social media contagion leaves our kids lonely and depressed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness each year and, “50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.”

 

The Republican Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed out-of-state mental health care providers to provide care for Wisconsinites via telehealth without requiring a Wisconsin license. The licensure requirements for mental health professionals varies little between states and the imperative of getting Wisconsinites timely care during a mental health crisis outweighs the need for a duplicative and meaningless state stamp of approval.

 

Evers vetoed this bill too. Instead of opening up an entire nation of qualified mental health professionals to treat Wisconsinites, he sided with ensuring that the state collect its $77 license fee over the mental health of Wisconsinites.

 

Governor Evers is on the side of antipolice and anti-2nd Amendment activists, the bureaucracy, and his personal political agenda. He is not on the side of Wisconsinites.

Two forgotten stories deserve attention

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

In the latter half of last year, two unsavory and revelatory stories about Gov. Tony Evers were reported and made headlines throughout Wisconsin. Here we are at the end of March and the headlines have faded and Evers continues to act with impunity, having suffered no consequences for his shady behavior.

 

The first story was broken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August of last year. They revealed that Evers’ longtime Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, was living with one of her subordinates. Later reporting revealed that that subordinate was Evers’ communications director, Britt Cudaback.

 

While the initial story is outrageous enough, further reporting revealed it to be even worse than first thought. Cudaback was appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year. She was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and her annual salary was increased to $100,006. In 2023, her pay was increased again to $112,008. Her 80% increase in pay came in just four years during the same period she was living with her boss.

 

Furthermore, during that period, Evers admitted that no formal performance reviews were administered and there is no documentation that shows that there was a competitive and inclusive hiring process for the position and compensation that Cudaback holds. Evers vigorously defended the practice.

 

Such relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate are strictly prohibited throughout the private sector and the rest of government because they are inherently discriminatory and coercive, but Evers accepts and applauds them. It has been seven months since that story broke and, as far as we know, nothing has changed.

 

The second story that further revealed Evers’ deceptive and unethical behavior was broken by Wisconsin Right Now in November of last year. Through a series of open records requests, Evers’ office accidentally let it slip that the governor had been using a secret email alias for years. Tony Evers had stolen the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn to conduct public business with other government officials and people outside of government.

Wisconsin’s Open Records Act is very strong and very explicit. The key to it is that the public has an explicit right to know what their government is doing. If a government official is conducting the people’s business, the public has a right to see it with a few very narrow exceptions. If the public official if using a private email account, chat platform, social media, paper documents, or any other medium on or off government property or technology, the people have a right to see it. Yes, that also includes if the government official is using a fake name in an attempt to hide what he is doing from the public.

Cudaback (still in the job three months after the previous story was revealed), defended the practice of a government official using a fake name as “common.” It would be troubling enough if that statement were true, but it still does not mean that the governor’s use of a fake name excludes those communications from public scrutiny. Furthermore, Evers’ fake email was on a Wisconsin. gov domain, which makes it subject to mandatory retention rules.

 

The governor’s office admitted to more than 17,000 emails written to and from Evers’ fake email address between 2018 and 2023. That equals about eight emails per day for six years. That is a tremendous amount of communication that the governor is hiding.

 

In early December, both Wisconsin Right Now and the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed open records requests for the 17,000 emails as is their right under Wisconsin law. Despite a legal and moral responsibility to hand over the emails, to date, Tony Evers has refused to do so. Our governor is flagrantly breaking the law by his refusal to allow the people to scrutinize the business he is purportedly doing on their behalf.

 

The fact that both stories flared and disappeared tells us something about the state of politics in Wisconsin. First, the combination of both stories tell us that Tony Evers is unscrupulous, immoral, and has a Trump-sized ego in which he believes he does not have to conform to strictures of law and morality to which we other mere mortal must adhere.

 

Second, the fact that the stories evaporated and Evers has not suffered any consequences reveals that Wisconsin no longer has a Fourth Estate that will hold the powerful accountable. In that sense, Evers is right to just ignore the controversies and continue to do whatever the hell he wants. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is worse for it.

Two forgotten stories deserve attention

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

In the latter half of last year, two unsavory and revelatory stories about Gov. Tony Evers were reported and made headlines throughout Wisconsin. Here we are at the end of March and the headlines have faded and Evers continues to act with impunity, having suffered no consequences for his shady behavior.

 

The first story was broken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August of last year. They revealed that Evers’ longtime Chief of Staff, Maggie Gau, was living with one of her subordinates. Later reporting revealed that that subordinate was Evers’ communications director, Britt Cudaback.

 

While the initial story is outrageous enough, further reporting revealed it to be even worse than first thought. Cudaback was appointed as a deputy in 2019 for $62,000 per year. She was promoted to report directly to Gau in 2020 and her annual salary was increased to $100,006. In 2023, her pay was increased again to $112,008. Her 80% increase in pay came in just four years during the same period she was living with her boss.

 

Furthermore, during that period, Evers admitted that no formal performance reviews were administered and there is no documentation that shows that there was a competitive and inclusive hiring process for the position and compensation that Cudaback holds. Evers vigorously defended the practice.

 

Such relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate are strictly prohibited throughout the private sector and the rest of government because they are inherently discriminatory and coercive, but Evers accepts and applauds them. It has been seven months since that story broke and, as far as we know, nothing has changed.

 

The second story that further revealed Evers’ deceptive and unethical behavior was broken by Wisconsin Right Now in November of last year. Through a series of open records requests, Evers’ office accidentally let it slip that the governor had been using a secret email alias for years. Tony Evers had stolen the name of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn to conduct public business with other government officials and people outside of government.

Two amendments to protect our elections

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

Although the presidential primary races were already settled long before Wisconsinites had the opportunity to weigh in, there are still important local races to decide on the April 2 ballot. In addition, every Wisconsin voter will be asked to decide on two amendments to Wisconsin’s state Constitution.

 

The reason these amendments are on the ballot is troubling. Even though our system of government is replete with checks and balances at every level, we remain largely dependent on people willingly following the law without the need for coercion.

 

Increasingly we are seeing government officials at all levels willfully violate the law because they have realized that there are few consequences for them doing so. We saw this phenomenon in full display during the pandemic as laws were ignored, civil rights were suppressed, and official restraint was abandoned for the sake of “safety.”

 

This was particularly true for election laws. In Wisconsin, election officials illegally collected ballots in parks, plopped unsecured ballot collection ballots all over the place, ignored voter ID requirements, accepted invalid mailed in ballots, turned over the administration of elections to private activists, and generally ignored, violated, or invented laws and regulations at their whim. With rare exception, all of the election officials who ran roughshod over our lawful election processes remain at their posts and have escaped any negative consequences for their actions. In our late-stage republic, leftists have discovered that they can implement their will through the power of the bureaucracy without the annoyance of needing to win elections or pass legislation. With a bit of gumption and an accomplice executive branch, even a banal local bureaucrat can wield enormous, unchecked power and citizens are left with few legal recourses.

 

For these and other reasons, the Republicans in the Legislature have begun to ask the voters to amend the Constitution to reflect the will of the people in the hope that the Constitution will be more difficult to ignore or violate than statutes. With our current activist leftist Supreme Court, this plan is not foolproof, but at least it provides an avenue for citizens to insist that their government obey their governing document.

 

On the ballot next month are two proposed constitutional amendments that are a direct response to leftist election officials manipulating recent elections and the failure of law enforcement to hold them accountable.

 

The first proposed amendment would prohibit the use of private funds to conduct elections. The second proposed constitutional amendment is related to the first. It would prohibit any person except people lawfully elected or selected to administer elections.

 

Both amendments are a response to Mark Zuckerberg’s activist group that poured millions of dollars and provided activist staffers for five Democratic strongholds in Wisconsin. Their stated objective was to help with ballot access and election staffing issues. Their real objective was to turn out the vote for Democrats. Local election officials gave these Democratic activists the keys to the electoral process. Low and behold, we saw massive Democratic turnout in those five districts.

 

The reason we do not want private groups to fund and manage our elections is that there is no accountability for malfeasance. They are unelected and unaccountable to the citizens. Whether leftist, rightist, libertarian, anarchist, communist, liberal, or conservative, we must not allow private activists to control the process by which our government obtains the consent of the governed.

 

I truly wish that we did not need resort to constitutional amendments to provide safeguards for our elections. Laws and regulations should do. Unfortunately, experience has taught us that laws and regulations are not enough. We need to install every possible safeguard to protect our elections from the incompetent and the nefarious.

 

Please vote “yes” on both proposed amendments. Wisconsin will be better for it.

Two amendments to protect our elections

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

The reason these amendments are on the ballot is troubling. Even though our system of government is replete with checks and balances at every level, we remain largely dependent on people willingly following the law without the need for coercion.

 

Increasingly we are seeing government officials at all levels willfully violate the law because they have realized that there are few consequences for them doing so. We saw this phenomenon in full display during the pandemic as laws were ignored, civil rights were suppressed, and official restraint was abandoned for the sake of “safety.”

 

This was particularly true for election laws. In Wisconsin, election officials illegally collected ballots in parks, plopped unsecured ballot collection ballots all over the place, ignored voter ID requirements, accepted invalid mailed in ballots, turned over the administration of elections to private activists, and generally ignored, violated, or invented laws and regulations at their whim. With rare exception, all of the election officials who ran roughshod over our lawful election processes remain at their posts and have escaped any negative consequences for their actions. In our late-stage republic, leftists have discovered that they can implement their will through the power of the bureaucracy without the annoyance of needing to win elections or pass legislation. With a bit of gumption and an accomplice executive branch, even a banal local bureaucrat can wield enormous, unchecked power and citizens are left with few legal recourses.

 

For these and other reasons, the Republicans in the Legislature have begun to ask the voters to amend the Constitution to reflect the will of the people in the hope that the Constitution will be more difficult to ignore or violate than statutes. With our current activist leftist Supreme Court, this plan is not foolproof, but at least it provides an avenue for citizens to insist that their government obey their governing document.

 

On the ballot next month are two proposed constitutional amendments that are a direct response to leftist election officials manipulating recent elections and the failure of law enforcement to hold them accountable.

 

[…]

 

I truly wish that we did not need resort to constitutional amendments to provide safeguards for our elections. Laws and regulations should do. Unfortunately, experience has taught us that laws and regulations are not enough. We need to install every possible safeguard to protect our elections from the incompetent and the nefarious.

 

Please vote “yes” on both proposed amendments. Wisconsin will be better for it.

Choice and freedom spreading

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

 

One of our nation’s structural supports that has provided the stability to make us the world’s oldest republic is our federalist structure. In a very geographically large and demographically diverse nation, the ability for each of the 50 states to shape public policy in accordance with the peculiarities of its citizenry is a strength — not a weakness.

 

Our federalist structure also permits each state to experiment with various policies and let other states see the effects. In recent years, we have seen states decriminalize drug use and soften police enforcement to disastrous effect. We should be thankful that such policies are tried on a state level and not implemented on all of us.

 

While we are increasingly losing our grip on federalism as power and authority concentrates in far away Washington, D.C., each of our United States continues to experiment with different policies. It is worth taking note of policies that are taking hold and becoming widespread. Two such policies are sweeping the nation and Wisconsin is not participating. Last week, Alabama became the twelfth state to pass universal school choice and six other states are considering it this year. Some 28 states and the District of Columbia already have some form of school choice according to Education Week. School choice was an innovation born in Milwaukee by a coalition of liberals and conservatives who wanted to give poor families a chance to get their kids into better schools — even if that better school was a private school. For several years, various income-based school choice programs spread throughout the nation before stalling under the withering assault of entrenched government school interests. The pandemic changed everything. Being affronted with the reality of just how bad our government schools had become, parents insisted on a better option and breathed new life into the school choice movement. While school choice comes in many forms, the common feature is that parents are provided some or all of the funding that would have been spent for their child in a government school to be spent on alternative educational options. The goal is to couple the funding to the child and not to the bureaucracy.

 

School choice has become a potent political force in states like Texas. Despite being dominated by Republicans, school choice failed to pass the Legislature last year when a cohort of House Republicans joined the Democrats to vote against it. In the primary election last week, six Republican incumbents were ousted outright and four more are headed for runoff elections — all on the power of the school choice issue. It is an issue that transcends party and motivates parents.

 

Despite being the birthplace of school choice, Wisconsin has lost its place in the vanguard of education reform.

 

Another movement that started in the mid-1990s was to reinstate Americans’ civil rights by allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon. For 20 years, states steadily implemented concealed carry laws to allow qualified citizens to carry concealed. Wisconsin was a laggard in this regard as the 49th state to allow concealed carry. Illinois reluctantly followed suit many years later to make concealed carry in some form a universal American policy.

 

In the past ten years, many states have gone further to allow constitutional or permitless carry whereby virtually anyone who is legally allowed to possess a handgun may carry it concealed without a permit. According to the United States Concealed Carry Association, 29 states currently have permitless carry.

 

Here again, the pandemic, coupled with the riots of 2020-2022, sparked new urgency with this issue. Recognizing that law enforcement is largely unable, and sometimes unwilling, to prevent people from committing crimes or protecting innocents, Americans began taking personal responsibility for their physical safety. Women and people of color are two of the fastest-growing groups of gun owners.

 

There is no definitive source to know how many guns there are in private hands and who owns them. That is as it should be. A Pew Research study from last year estimates that there are about 222 million private guns owned by about 105 million Americans. Guns are, and always have been, part of our culture and our right to keep and bear arms was protected at the founding. While our nation has always done a decent job protecting our civil right to “keep” arms, states are now doing a better job of protecting our civil right to “bear” arms. What good is a right if you have to ask the government to exercise it?

Making lemonade out of lemons

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

Wisconsin’s new legislative electoral maps are heavily gerrymandered to the benefit of Democrats, but where there is change, there is opportunity.

 

First, let us recap how we got here. In the normal constitutional process, every 10 years the boundaries of the legislative districts are redrawn to reflect the most recent decennial census data. The maps are drawn by the Legislature and signed by the governor like any other law. The maps are then usually challenged in state and federal courts by special interest groups. In 2021-2022, Wisconsin went through the entire legal process and the courts agreed that the maps were fine. It was done.

 

After the leftists took control of the state Supreme Court last spring, their fellow travelers immediately sued to overturn the maps because they knew that the leftist court majority would ignore previous court rulings, the law, and the state Constitution to give them the maps they want. According to plan, the Supreme Court activists threw out the existing maps and was in the process of redrawing the maps to their liking in a complete usurpation of the other two branches of government.

 

Seeking to mitigate the looming court decision, the Legislature passed the version of the maps submitted by Gov. Tony Evers in a complete tactical capitulation to the Democratic governor. Although heavily gerrymandered to favor Democrats, the legislative Republicans thought that Evers’ maps were the least bad option that the court was going to impose. Backed into a political corner whereby Evers could not veto his own maps, he signed them into law. Since then, the high cockalorum of Madison has been crowing about his “fair” maps in full knowledge of how he gerrymandered them to favor Democrats. As the expression goes, however, it is what it is. The maps are what they are, and they will not change. As the state Republicans look at the landscape for November, what is to be done?

 

In the state Senate, the Republicans currently hold a majority of 22 of the 33 seats. Only the even-numbered districts are on the ballot this November. According to an analysis done by research fellow John Johnson of the Lubar Center of the Marquette Law School, three of even numbered districts are likely Democratic wins this year with Evers’ gerrymandered maps. It is unlikely that the Democrats will win a majority in the Senate this year, but there is a strong possibility they will in 2026 when more of the seats favor Democrats.

 

In the state Assembly, all 99 seats are up for election in 2024. Evers gerrymandered a double-digit Democratic lean in 42 districts versus 34 under the previous legal maps according to Johnson’s study. Overall, the maps still slightly favor Republicans, but are gerrymandered to extend the power of the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison into the otherwise Republican suburbs.

 

While the focus of the maps has been on political lean of each district, the opportunity for Republicans — by which I mean the Republican voters and not the elected Republicans — comes in the shakeup of incumbency. According to Ballotpedia, 99% of incumbents of state politicians of either party won re-election in 2022; 97% of them won in 2020. Wisconsin does not have term limits and the power of incumbency is, by far, the greatest force in state elections.

 

Under Evers’ gerrymandered maps, he intentionally drew as many districts as possible to pit Republican incumbents against each other. Thirty-five incumbent Republicans are now in districts with other incumbent Republicans compared with only seven incumbent Democrats. This is Evers’ attempt to counter the power of incumbency and to encourage Republican infighting to sap their strength before a general election.

 

For Republican voters, this is an opportunity to inject a substantial amount of new blood, new faces, and new ideas into the legislative Republican caucuses. Our system of government was never meant to be a job bank for career politicians. The outcome of incumbency is that elected Republicans are often reflecting the views of their constituents from when they were first elected instead of their constituents’ current views. And while a few career politicians remain energetic and effective for their constituents throughout their tenures, too many Wisconsin politicians slouch into the comfortable Madison scene and begin representing Madison’s interests instead of their constituents’ interests.

 

With the power of incumbency disrupted, Republican voters have a chance to have a rigorous debate during the primary to ensure that the elected Republican class is representing the views of the Republican electorate. Let us have that debate on issues and values. Then, let Wisconsin’s Republicans unite in the general election to elect Republican majorities in the Assembly and Senate to ensure that the other two branches of government are not left unchecked to force their Leftist ideologies and turn Wisconsin into Illinois.

Making lemonade out of lemons

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

While the focus of the maps has been on political lean of each district, the opportunity for Republicans — by which I mean the Republican voters and not the elected Republicans — comes in the shakeup of incumbency. According to Ballotpedia, 99% of incumbents of state politicians of either party won re-election in 2022; 97% of them won in 2020. Wisconsin does not have term limits and the power of incumbency is, by far, the greatest force in state elections.

 

Under Evers’ gerrymandered maps, he intentionally drew as many districts as possible to pit Republican incumbents against each other. Thirty-five incumbent Republicans are now in districts with other incumbent Republicans compared with only seven incumbent Democrats. This is Evers’ attempt to counter the power of incumbency and to encourage Republican infighting to sap their strength before a general election.

 

For Republican voters, this is an opportunity to inject a substantial amount of new blood, new faces, and new ideas into the legislative Republican caucuses. Our system of government was never meant to be a job bank for career politicians. The outcome of incumbency is that elected Republicans are often reflecting the views of their constituents from when they were first elected instead of their constituents’ current views. And while a few career politicians remain energetic and effective for their constituents throughout their tenures, too many Wisconsin politicians slouch into the comfortable Madison scene and begin representing Madison’s interests instead of their constituents’ interests.

 

With the power of incumbency disrupted, Republican voters have a chance to have a rigorous debate during the primary to ensure that the elected Republican class is representing the views of the Republican electorate. Let us have that debate on issues and values. Then, let Wisconsin’s Republicans unite in the general election to elect Republican majorities in the Assembly and Senate to ensure that the other two branches of government are not left unchecked to force their Leftist ideologies and turn Wisconsin into Illinois.

Hovde to challenge Baldwin for Senate

Here is my column for the Washington County Daily News that ran earlier this week.

In 2012, this column supported Eric Hovde in the Republican primary to challenge Representative Tammy Baldwin for the open U.S. Senate seat. Wisconsin juggernaut Tommy Thompson won that primary and went on to lose to Baldwin in an election where President Obama’s electoral strength pulled many down-ballot Democratic candidates to victory.

 

Twelve years later, Baldwin is running for a third term and Eric Hovde is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge her. Hovde is still as great a candidate, and person, as he was in 2012 and Wisconsin would do well to send him to the U.S. Senate.

 

In 12 years as Wisconsin’s senator, Baldwin has been a reliable vote for Democrats, but otherwise a potted plant. She does not matter. She does not have any signature issues on which she leads, nor does she have any significant legislation she championed. According to FiveThirtyEight, Baldwin has voted for Biden’s agenda 95% of the time. When she has bucked Biden, it was because she was even more Marxist. She voted against ending the COVID state of emergency and for vaccine mandates for large businesses. The only time she runs afoul of the prevailing leftist orthodoxy is when it is not totalitarian enough. Even then, she only votes against the Democrat leadership when it is safe to do so.

 

Hovde will matter in Washington. He will make Wisconsin matter. As a fourth-generation Wisconsinite, Hovde made his fortune as a serial entrepreneur in real estate and banking. He made a living buying distressed community banks and leading them to be successful again. He knows and loves Wisconsin. He knows how to do the hard work of taking something that is failing and making it successful.

 

Equally important, Hovde uses his wealth to make the world a better place. Through a foundation created by his brother and him in the 1990s, he has spent tens of millions of dollars to build and support homes in places like Rwanda and Honduras to support, “children who have been abandoned, enslaved, and sex-trafficked, ensuring they are happy, healthy, and prepared for a promising future.”

 

As the overwhelmingly likely Republican candidate, the Baldwin campaign immediately responded to Hovde’s entrance into the race. Even though the policies that Baldwin has supported are causing crushing inflation, an invasion of illegal aliens, and a nation-killing national debt, Baldwin has chosen to attack Hovde on two primary fronts. Let us address them.

 

First, Baldwin has attacked Hovde as a carpetbagger Californian. Hovde does own a business in California and has a house there, but he is a born and raised Wisconsinite. His primary residence is in Wisconsin and he is there 75% of the time. Hovde is active in Wisconsin organizations and activities. Hovde is as Wisconsin as they come.

 

Meanwhile, Baldwin is relying on a biased media to neglect to point out that she has become a creature of Washington. Baldwin and her partner own a $1.3 million penthouse condo in Washington D.C. just steps from the Capitol. It is also worth noting that according to Opensecrets.org, in both 2018 and 2024, roughly 58% of Baldwin’s campaign contributions come from out of state, with California generating more contributions than any other state. Baldwin’s heart is in Washington, D.C., and her support comes from California.

 

Second, Baldwin has hit Hovde on the abortion issue. In 2012, Hovde was firmly anti-abortion and Baldwin is slamming him for that stance. In 2024, Hovde’s position on abortion has shifted. He has said that he personally opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. He has also said that he thinks that a majority of Wisconsinites support abortion in the very early days of pregnancy. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has correctly relegated abortion policy back to the states, Hovde supports a statewide referendum on abortion to determine the most appropriate policy for Wisconsin. While I disagree with Hovde’s position, his position is far more thoughtful and relevant to the current state of the law than Baldwin is attempting to portray it.

 

It is worth noting that Baldwin’s radical abortion stance is out of sync with most Wisconsinites. Baldwin supports abortion up to the point of birth and is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would have the federal government require all states to support this stance. In Baldwin’s world view, allowing the killing of a fully viable baby at term is not only permissible, it should be required. This is a bloody, radical position.

 

Hovde has his work cut out for him. Just like in 2012, an incumbent Democrat president is seeking a second term and down-ballot races like this will be heavily influenced by what happens in the presidential race. If Wisconsin Republicans want a chance to win, Hovde needs all of them to get involved and be generous with their time and money to support him. Let’s get to work.

Hovde to challenge Baldwin for Senate

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I’m all in on Hovde. Here’s a part.

In 2012, this column supported Eric Hovde in the Republican primary to challenge Representative Tammy Baldwin for the open U.S. Senate seat. Wisconsin juggernaut Tommy Thompson won that primary and went on to lose to Baldwin in an election where President Obama’s electoral strength pulled many down-ballot Democratic candidates to victory.

 

Twelve years later, Baldwin is running for a third term and Eric Hovde is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge her. Hovde is still as great a candidate, and person, as he was in 2012 and Wisconsin would do well to send him to the U.S. Senate.

 

In 12 years as Wisconsin’s senator, Baldwin has been a reliable vote for Democrats, but otherwise a potted plant. She does not matter. She does not have any signature issues on which she leads, nor does she have any significant legislation she championed. According to FiveThirtyEight, Baldwin has voted for Biden’s agenda 95% of the time. When she has bucked Biden, it was because she was even more Marxist. She voted against ending the COVID state of emergency and for vaccine mandates for large businesses. The only time she runs afoul of the prevailing leftist orthodoxy is when it is not totalitarian enough. Even then, she only votes against the Democrat leadership when it is safe to do so.

 

Hovde will matter in Washington. He will make Wisconsin matter. As a fourth-generation Wisconsinite, Hovde made his fortune as a serial entrepreneur in real estate and banking. He made a living buying distressed community banks and leading them to be successful again. He knows and loves Wisconsin. He knows how to do the hard work of taking something that is failing and making it successful.

 

[…]

 

Second, Baldwin has hit Hovde on the abortion issue. In 2012, Hovde was firmly anti-abortion and Baldwin is slamming him for that stance. In 2024, Hovde’s position on abortion has shifted. He has said that he personally opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. He has also said that he thinks that a majority of Wisconsinites support abortion in the very early days of pregnancy. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has correctly relegated abortion policy back to the states, Hovde supports a statewide referendum on abortion to determine the most appropriate policy for Wisconsin. While I disagree with Hovde’s position, his position is far more thoughtful and relevant to the current state of the law than Baldwin is attempting to portray it.

 

It is worth noting that Baldwin’s radical abortion stance is out of sync with most Wisconsinites. Baldwin supports abortion up to the point of birth and is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would have the federal government require all states to support this stance. In Baldwin’s world view, allowing the killing of a fully viable baby at term is not only permissible, it should be required. This is a bloody, radical position.

 

Hovde has his work cut out for him. Just like in 2012, an incumbent Democrat president is seeking a second term and down-ballot races like this will be heavily influenced by what happens in the presidential race. If Wisconsin Republicans want a chance to win, Hovde needs all of them to get involved and be generous with their time and money to support him. Let’s get to work.

Democrats keep the change

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

I recently had an infuriating experience at my local gas station. I stopped in for my morning coffee. Of course, I’m a sucker for the doughnuts in line, so I grabbed one of those too. My total was $3.49. All I had on me was a $20, so I promptly put it on the counter. The clerk smiled, put the $20 in the drawer, wished me a nice day, and beckoned the next customer up. Irritated, I asked about my change and was told, “oh, we keep the change now to use for other customers who we like better.”

 

Of course, this scenario is fictional and unbelievable, but that is exactly what the legislative Democrats and Gov. Tony Evers are doing with your tax dollars.

 

Ever since Republicans took control of the state Legislature in 2010 thanks, in large part, to anger over the massive state deficit that Democrat Governor Jim Doyle and the legislative Democrats had created, the legislative Republican majority has built fiscally responsible budgets that ran surpluses. Despite increasing spending every budget, the Republicans managed to bend the cost curves to ensure that all bills were paid while leaving plenty of change. Republicans have since filled up the state’s rainy day fund with billions of dollars and the state’s finances are stronger and more stable than they have ever been thanks to Republican fiscal management. Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued its regular report about the state of the budget and projected surplus or deficit. The estimate is based on projected macroeconomic conditions and current state policies. Once again under Republican fiscal leadership, the LFB is projecting that the state will end the current budget in June of 2025 with a budget surplus of $3.15 billion — about $550 for every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin.

 

Let me write that another way: The state of Wisconsin is overtaxing every man, woman, and child in the state by about $550 and refusing to give any of it back. For the average family of four, they will be unnecessarily taxed $2,200 above and beyond the needs of government as expressed in the budget.

 

Noting this overpayment, the Republicans want to give the taxpayers their change and adjust the tax rates to reduce the amount of overpayment. Legislative Republicans passed their third attempt at a tax cut last week that would reduce income tax rates to bring the level of taxation in line with the amount of money that the government is actually spending. Yes, the spending is still too much, but Wisconsinites are still being taxed way more than even the spending justifies.

 

Democrats in the Legislature voted against this tax cut just like they voted against the last two tax cuts. Governor Evers vetoed the last two tax cuts and will probably veto this one too. Democrats refuse to give the Wisconsin taxpayers their change after funding government.

 

Why are Evers and his fellow travelers refusing to let Wisconsinites keep their money to afford the exploding cost of living despite government being fully funded? Simple. They do not think it is your money. They think it is their money and they want to spend it on things that they want.

 

Dressed up in the language of fake compassion, Evers and legislative Democrats have offered dozens of ways to spend the surplus instead of giving it back to hardworking Wisconsinites. They have proposed spending it on child care welfare, pouring more billions into the black hole of the government education complex, corporate welfare to big business to pay for paid leave and worker training, creating new government bureaucrats like the Office of State Employee Engagement and Retention, and all manner of spending.

 

All of the Democrats’ spending proposals have two things in common. First, they were not in the state budget. They are just more ideas to spend money after the budget was completed and signed into law by the governor. Second, every one of the spending proposals is designed to be spent on, or filtered through, the Democrats’ favored people. As the money flows, Democrats and their liberal constituencies throughout Wisconsin will get their beaks wet in a stream of tax dollars that were forcibly and unnecessarily taken from hardworking Wisconsinites.

 

If you are not angry about that, you should be.

Democrats keep the change

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print.

Ever since Republicans took control of the state Legislature in 2010 thanks, in large part, to anger over the massive state deficit that Democrat Governor Jim Doyle and the legislative Democrats had created, the legislative Republican majority has built fiscally responsible budgets that ran surpluses. Despite increasing spending every budget, the Republicans managed to bend the cost curves to ensure that all bills were paid while leaving plenty of change. Republicans have since filled up the state’s rainy day fund with billions of dollars and the state’s finances are stronger and more stable than they have ever been thanks to Republican fiscal management. Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued its regular report about the state of the budget and projected surplus or deficit. The estimate is based on projected macroeconomic conditions and current state policies. Once again under Republican fiscal leadership, the LFB is projecting that the state will end the current budget in June of 2025 with a budget surplus of $3.15 billion — about $550 for every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin.

 

Let me write that another way: The state of Wisconsin is overtaxing every man, woman, and child in the state by about $550 and refusing to give any of it back. For the average family of four, they will be unnecessarily taxed $2,200 above and beyond the needs of government as expressed in the budget.

 

Noting this overpayment, the Republicans want to give the taxpayers their change and adjust the tax rates to reduce the amount of overpayment. Legislative Republicans passed their third attempt at a tax cut last week that would reduce income tax rates to bring the level of taxation in line with the amount of money that the government is actually spending. Yes, the spending is still too much, but Wisconsinites are still being taxed way more than even the spending justifies.

 

Democrats in the Legislature voted against this tax cut just like they voted against the last two tax cuts. Governor Evers vetoed the last two tax cuts and will probably veto this one too. Democrats refuse to give the Wisconsin taxpayers their change after funding government.

 

Why are Evers and his fellow travelers refusing to let Wisconsinites keep their money to afford the exploding cost of living despite government being fully funded? Simple. They do not think it is your money. They think it is their money and they want to spend it on things that they want.

 

Dressed up in the language of fake compassion, Evers and legislative Democrats have offered dozens of ways to spend the surplus instead of giving it back to hardworking Wisconsinites. They have proposed spending it on child care welfare, pouring more billions into the black hole of the government education complex, corporate welfare to big business to pay for paid leave and worker training, creating new government bureaucrats like the Office of State Employee Engagement and Retention, and all manner of spending.

 

All of the Democrats’ spending proposals have two things in common. First, they were not in the state budget. They are just more ideas to spend money after the budget was completed and signed into law by the governor. Second, every one of the spending proposals is designed to be spent on, or filtered through, the Democrats’ favored people. As the money flows, Democrats and their liberal constituencies throughout Wisconsin will get their beaks wet in a stream of tax dollars that were forcibly and unnecessarily taken from hardworking Wisconsinites.

 

If you are not angry about that, you should be.

Archives

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest