Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Preparing for Churchill

Hey gang. Ward Churchill comes to Whitewater on Tuesday, and the BBA should be there. Barring bad Milwaukee traffic I should get there before the College Republicans' 6 p.m. vigil to Sep. 11 victims. I'll pack my camera, tape recorder, and notebook computer. One problem I see is the lack of any wi-fi nearby. I assume it will be impossible for a non-student to access the UW-Whitewater network, and some net searches have found the nearest wi-fi to be in Janesville.

Who is planning on being there? Should we meet someplace before going to the even? Anyone have tickets to get inside? I don't, but plenty should be happening outside. Even if you don't want to post on the event it would be great if you came to support Sep. 11 victims and denounce the anti-American ravings of Ward Churchill.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Underheim Interview

This last week I was able to have a personal interview with Gregg Underheim, ask him many questions and get a feel on his candidacy.

I must add that the difference in meeting him and the cold response I have experienced from the Burmaster campaign made for a stark contrast. I called upon Underheim unexpectedly while I was down in Madison and with no apparent effort he spoke with me for about an half hour, while after three emails and now three phone calls I have no response from Burmaster although they said I should get a response by the end of next week. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Although I did not have my exact list of questions before me to ask him, I found out where he stood on some very important issues that I had not been able to find info on before.

First, Underheim is very interested in other options in education in the state. When I gave him some of the information I had gathered on tax credits, he did not commit to any direct implementation, but seemed to be genuinely interested in it as an alternative. He also stressed the importance on the some of the new virtual learning systems that have been implemented in the state which save costs and have suffered litigious attacks from Burmaster and WEAC.

Second, he understood and committed to supporting in anyway he could the home schooling’s communities basic desire to be unregulated and left to teach their children in the way that seems best--a system which he acknowledged has worked very well.

Third, Underheim pledged that teaching in the classroom must not be limited to only teaching one side of the debate like has happened with the evolution idea. Part of learning is understanding that there are two sides to the debate and presenting both sides. Hint: keep your eye on this issue throughout the campaign.

Fourth, he was supportive of abstinence education although he reminded me that many of those types of decisions are made on a local level.

From a legislative perspective I was disappointed to find out that he had voted against the constitutional protection of marriage in Wisconsin, but he did agree that the schools are no place to push the anti-marriage agenda, unlike Burmaster.

There was urgency behind him as he explained the W3 plan or what works in Wisconsin plan. Under this idea, he would push for more accountability in the schools and an emphasis on streamlining school administration to provide tax savings and results in schools across the state.

Underheim can be contacted at his website

One more thing to add...Underheim seemed to be quite informed about the blogs that were and were not covering the race. I was actually amazed at how much Madison insiders watch the blogs. They keep an eye on how things are reported.

Cross posted to Wild Wisconsin

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Voter ID Bill Passes

Bill passes 64 Yea to 33 Nay.

Democrats siding with common sense: Krusick, Nelson, Staskunas, Ziegelbauer.

Now go make the phone calls to hit the other 33.

NBC claims episode not based on Sawyer County incident

File this one under "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"

Last night, the NBC series "Law and Order" aired an episode with a plot eerily similar to the massacre in Sawyer County last November. (See my earlier entries here and here.)

Yesterday an NBC spokesperson claimed that the episode had no connection at all with the incident.

A “Law & Order” episode airing tonight might hit a nerve for people in northwestern Wisconsin, but an NBC spokeswoman said it’s not based on the Sawyer County tragedy.

“ ‘Law & Order’ is totally fictional,” spokeswoman Jeannette Ketoen said. “It’s ripped from the headlines, but it’s not based on what has happened in your area.”

If it's "ripped from the headlines," I'd like to see the headlines to which she's referring.

Let's compare:

In Sawyer County, one hunter assaulted a hunting party after he was discovered in their tree stand. He killed 5 men and 1 woman and injured two others. Law enforcement officials describing the scene said that the killer "chased them down." The killer used a semi-automatic rifle, and there has been some discussion as to whether such a rifle is even fit for deer-hunting. The hunting party was a group of friends and family that hunted in that area every year.

In the Law and Order episode, one hunter assaulted a hunting party, in an apparent dispute over a tree stand. He killed 4 men and one woman. He is described as having chased them down. The killed used a semi-automatic rifle, and at the hearing a character comments that it's not suitable for deer-hunting. The hunting party was a group of friends and family that were said to have hunted in that area every year.

So again, what headlines is she referring to, if not the local headlines regarding last November's hunting massacre?

Barron County Sheriff Thomas Richie said the episode hits too close to home.

. . .

Richie said it made him sick to see previews for tonight’s hauntingly familiar “Law & Order” episode.

“This isn’t TV material, this is real life for the people up here,” he said.

But Ketoen said the plot has nothing to do with the shootings in Sawyer County.

“If you watch the show you’ll see it’s totally fictional,” Ketoen said. “Perhaps the same thing has happened somewhere else.”

Hey, you're the one who says it's "ripped from the headlines." Show us the headlines and you can dispense with the "perhaps."

I was going to give NBC a pass because, although I figured people from the area would find the episode too unsettling (particularly the scenes of blaze orange-clad bodies sprawled on the snow in the woods), at least the episode didn't toss in the racial angle of the actual incident or try to paint hunters as racist northwoods hillbillies with guns as many media commentators did.

But for them to make this startling claim that there's no connection just boggles the mind. I'd be more impressed if they admitted it and apologized for the effect the episode would have on people who live up here. But they'd rather play CYA and dive for the bunker. (A common media theme these days.)

The Leader-Telegram article linked above also mentions this aspect of the episode that I hadn't thought of.

Eau Claire attorney Harry Hertel said potential jurors in Sawyer County who see the episode might wonder about the facts of the real case and be tainted.

“You certainly hope that people will decipher that,” Hertel said. “A substantial risk in airing the show is that they will lose potential jurors in Sawyer County if that is where the case is held.”

(Cross-posted to Darn Floor.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"Law and Order" followup

I just got done watching that "Law and Order" episode featuring an incident based on last November's hunting massacre in Sawyer County near my home town. While the situation in the episode was eerily similar to the Sawyer County killings, the episode focused more on the actions of another hunter who pursued the killer. There was no attempt to explain the motives for the killings in the episode, except for the suggestion that it might be a disagreement over a tree stand. Nor was there any racial aspect to the incident as depicted.

I guess I'm glad that "Law and Order" used the incident only as a backdrop to a different sort of story, but I can imagine that family members of those killed in Sawyer County would have found the depiction of the scene of the crime quie unsettling. I hope they didn't watch.

Though the episode set the murders in upstate New York, Door County, Wisconsin, was mentioned by one of the characters as a place where he used to go hunting.

I leave it to the gun experts to comment on the rifle shown in the episode -- which was called both an "automatic" and a "semi-automatic."

By the way, this is the first episode of "Law and Order" I've ever seen. Didn't care much for it. Is Sam Waterson's character always that annoying?

Trying to blog about the "Real ID" bill

Just had an interesting phone conversation.

I called Rep. Sensenbrenner’s office again to try to get answers to my questions about the “Real ID” bill, or H.R. 418. This time I was told that office policy is that no questions are answered over the phone, but only via letters, which would take a couple of weeks. (See previous BBA posts here and here.)

“But,” I said, “what if a member of the press – which I’m not – had questions about a bill? You don’t make members of the press wait for a couple weeks, do you?”

“Then they’d talk to the appropriate Press Secretary.”

“Well, have you made allowances for bloggers yet?”

“Hold on, I’ll see.” After a couple of minutes,

“I can transfer you to the press secretary of the House Judiciary Committee.”

So, I left a voice mail message explaining that I'm a blogger with unanswered questions.

We’re still at the edge of this new territory; blogs aren’t MSM (thank goodness), but what are we? Here’s an article addressing the issue pretty well in terms of press credentials for bloggers at the Democratic convention last summer, and here’s a blogger’s perspective on that same event.

As far as talking to the press secretary, I’m not even saying I should be allowed to. After all, what if every blogger – all four eight million of them – wanted to do the same thing? That’s a clichéd argument against doing something, but it's not unreasonable.

Also, I’m not a journalist, and don’t pretend to be. I’m not even a journalist wanna-be.

But I am a citizen, with questions, and a blogger, with a means of sharing information rapidly. This bill may be voted on sometime soon in the Senate; shouldn't we be able to have our questions answered before then?

I did my homework of reading the bill, searching for information online, and finally calling my representative’s office. My questions still couldn’t be answered.

So we’ll see if being a non-credentialed citizen blogger helps.

Audio of Democrats arguing against the Photo ID Bill

I have posted the audio at My View of the World.

You Can Own Wisconsin AG History

Neato, too bad I got out of the car market last June.

From today's Spice Boys column - last item.
You soon could own an infamous piece of Wisconsin political history. State officials are putting on the auction block next month the '99 Buick Park Avenue that Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager made famous. The car, which has slightly more than 50,000 miles on it, will be available for purchase during a public auction on March 5.

"There's no business need for the car," Department of Administration flack Scott Larrivee said flatly last week.

Nearly two years ago, Lautenschlager drove the black Buick into a ditch off Highway 151 while on her way home to Fond du Lac from Madison, where she said she had been drinking with friends. She later pleaded guilty to drunken driving and was fined.

It turned out that she had been in a couple of fender-benders with the car and that she had been commuting from Fond du Lac for more than a year without reimbursing the state for use of the vehicle. In a settlement with the state Ethics Board, she reimbursed the state $672 for personal miles and paid a $250 fine.

Lautenschlager gave up her state car after the accident.

A Lautenschlager spokesman said the Department of Justice alone has returned 11 cars since Gov. Jim Doyle ordered that the size of the state fleet be reduced - an edict that came after Lautenschlager's car woes were made public.

The Republicans, who have never shied from taking a swipe at Lautenschlager, saw the upcoming sale as one more chance to kick her.

Quipped one GOP operative: "Hopefully it comes with a disclaimer that this car has wound up in a ditch."
Kelly Blue Book value of the car puts it at $11,505 for the Sedan 4D. It's $12,760 for the Ultra Sedan 4D. Spivak and Bice don't mention which type of model it is. Those prices are if it [the car] is undamaged.

Obviously, it's not.

Cross Posted at Lakeshore Laments by Kevin.

George Goes Nuclear In Germany!

FINALLY! On a stage that will certainly get attention in a way, that, up to this point, has not grabbed attention George W. Bush only hours ago clearly and unequivocally called for the expansion of nuclear power generation here in the United States. Hallelujah! Let’s get on with it..

This clean, renewable and awesome source of power holds the keys to our freedom - Bush understands this better than most. You see if we deploy and launch far more nuclear generating plants we go a long way toward less dependency - as individuals here at home and as a nation abroad. It also strengthens our hand in foreign policy circles in many ways - some nuanced, some rather in your face..

The socialists here (also known as greens, Democrats, liberals, etc.) openly oppose nuclear power generation on the specious argument of safety. What a crock that is….secretly they oppose it because by developing nuclear power far more in this country will make us more energy independent, and more free. We would be less dependent upon the rest of the world. The socialist dream state mentality needs us to be dependent upon others so that we are forced to live alike - they cannot stand the idea that we are individuals to whom the state must report. Make no mistake about it, the vast majority of liberals and democrats wish it the other way around..

Bravo, Mr. Bush! You and I disagree on several matters, and deeply. However, as a matter of principle I supported you in many many ways leading up to the election in November (2004). I put my differences with you aside and worked pretty hard to see that you would be re-elected, and I did so on said principle. Well, you are proving with this latest press conference from Germany today that my belief in your core view that our freedom must not be jeopardized was validated by your comments to the German press.

Now, can we talk about education policy for a minute??

cross posted at

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

UW-Whitewater response found lacking

Ah, yes, my Alma Matter. I see that your vision of communication is a one way model. Today, the university issued an open letter to the Wisconsin Legislature here. My curiosity was piqued by the following:
The university carefully addressed issues of funding support and security for the event.
Absolutely no state general purpose revenue will be used to subsidize the lecture. All direct and indirect costs beyond $1,400 in student fees will be covered by private donations. The safety of the campus community is of the highest priority and we are working to develop and implement a security plan that is appropriate for the circumstances. A suggestion by some that the event be moved off university grounds would not only undermine security, it would pass the security costs of this lecture directly to taxpayers.
This lead me to a question. Does this mean they are reimbursing the city for security expenses? The statement is so vague that it is easy to infer so, but impossible to say definitively. So I burned off a quick email to the address they have designated for this information. This is the automated reply I received:
Due to the extremely high volume of comments regarding the Ward
Churchill controversy, university officials are unable to personally
respond to the electronic mail we are receiving. Please understand that
we are trying to be as open as possible regarding the news and issues
surrounding this controversial visit by posting updates, as they happen,
at: (Under "In the News")

Thank you for your input on this difficult controversy.
Interesting. So they set up an email account to collect the messages on this topic, and they may or may not even be reading the messages. I'm really glad I took the 5 minutes to ask for clarification of my question. It's too bad, really. The University looks like it is ducking the repercussions of free speech much like Mr. Churchill would like to. Somebody has a question about what you say, or is maybe critical of what you have to say? Just ignore them, maybe their critical or questioning voice won't be heard that way, only yours will.

Ugh. Somebody in the business school please teach these guys about customer service/public relations, please.

(cross posted at Jiblog)

Property Tax Freeze Passes Senate

The Property Tax Freeze just passed the Wisconsin State Senate on almost a party line vote.


All GOP Senators and Senator Carpenter voting AYE, all other Democrats(including Sen. Plale) voting NAY.

Live in the Senate

Well almost live blogging. I just got back from Senate debate.

First on the agenda was the school voucher bill. Sen. bill 8 is designed to take away many of the caps on the number of school vouchers.

The Dems in the minority party complained that there was "zero responsibility" and that they wanted some more accountability if they were to raise the number (the classic Doyle spin to shut or at least limit vouchers to the same regulations that will make a private schools mini public ones.)

Next things really began to heat up when the minimum wage bill (up to 6:30) was brought up. The Republicans wanted to send the bill to committee where they will let it die, and the Dems wanted to keep and make it an issue. Because of the way that the minimum wage is determined I think it will pass in the end (the legislature actually does not decide, but as I understand a commission appointed by the guv. does) but I don't think the Republicans want it to become an issue.

One of the Dems (sorry I missed his name) stood up and said that he was working the minimum wage right now. Someone made the comment that if such was the case wouldn't voting for the minimum wage bill would be a conflict of interest. ;)

I kept wanting to stand up and say that we don't need the minimum wage law! Most biz. already pay much higher than the minimum and enacting this bill will only push biz. who would like to create trial or other arrangements in pay to accept the gov't mandate. I also wanted to say that I am looking for work right now and raising the minimum wage is the last thing that will help me find it since it will lower the number of jobs available. ...But they never asked me to speak.

The Senate is out now until about 2:00 when they will discuss the property tax freeze. That should be even more fun. The barbs even started flying before even the motion was on the floor over if they wanted to end the meeting or not. They did--thus this post--the Dems said they needed a cooling off period (oh was that true!). They were just about flying off the handle! Emotions were high and I don't see them going down.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Law and Order" features hunting massacre

While we were visiting family up North this past weekend, we heard that this week's episode of NBC's "Law and Order" would feature a storyline based on the massacre of 6 hunters in Sawyer County last November. As you might imagine, there is some concern about how this incident will be depicted. The folks up there assume that a fictionalized version of the events will be slanted to make the murdered hunters look like the aggressors.

The "Law and Order" website describes the upcoming episode as follows.

After a wild car chase through Manhattan's streets leaves one man dead and a teen injured, Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) connect some dots and discover that the chase began in upstate New York after a hunting party was massacred by the now deceased driver -- but finding the man who chased the murderer puts prosecutors in a bind. As the reluctant hero (as Stoller, guest star Mike Pniewski) is publicly lauded for his efforts, A.D.A.s McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Borgia (Annie Parisse) carefully make their case that his poor decisions only endangered other lives.

It appears that the hunting part of the plot may only be a small part of the story. But there's a video I can't access with the phrase "Hunting mistake or massacre? Ripped from the headlines!" Er . . . hmmm. "Law and Order" is famous for getting its plots from real-life incidents, so this wouldn't be an exception. I don't watch "Law and Order," but I might have to tune in for this one just to see how it's handled.

And I know that the folks who live up there will be watching closely, . . . and critically.

Voter ID Bill to Assembly Floor Tomorrow

While the State Senate will be addressing the Property Tax Freeze, the Assembly will be debating AB-63, the Photo ID bill.

Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) released a press release on it. I like the last paragraph.

“The reasons given for not supporting this Bill have all been addressed, this Bill maintains our open elections while returning integrity to the process,” said Stone. “Without changes to our election process, including the requirement to prove identity, we may have serious problems meeting the Help America Vote Act requirements for the creation and maintenance of an accurate statewide voter list. At this point you are either for elections with integrity and accuracy or you are for a flawed election process.”

I wonder if anyone's going to bring up what Charlie Sykes found out on Friday night: Bill Richardson, Democratic Governor of New Mexico, is pushing a much tougher bill there.

Cross Posted at Lakeshore Laments by Kevin.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Badger Bleg

If there is one thing I've learned in the past couple of months, it's that the Badger Blog Alliance has a very knowledgeable readership. I'm now hoping some of you have some good connections as well. It has come to my attention that the University of Wisconsin Whitewater quietly issued tickets for the Ward Churchill speech on March 1, and that there aren't any tickets available anymore. I would like to attend this event and cover it for the Badger Blog Alliance and Jiblog. If any of you have any extra tickets, or if you can put me in contact with someone who can get me a ticket, please email me at ojibway7rj-at-gmail-dot-com. Thank you in advance, and hopefully I'll be able to provide first hand reports to everyone.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Concerns about "Real ID" bill

Chris previously posted here about the "Real ID" bill, sponsored by our own Rep. Sensenbrenner, that recently passed the House and was sent to the Senate for a vote sometime soon.

Chris wondered whether this bill was a good idea or not: were we headed toward a national ID card, with a federal abuse of privacy soon to follow? Or is this truly just a good way to tighten up security for drivers' licenses and disrupt the ability of terrorists to travel around the country, as Sensenbrenner claims?

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is adamantly opposed, saying that this is a Trojan horse bill that will do nothing to enhance national security, but will only erode personal liberties.

Others, including Rep. Sensenbrenner, believe we must do this at the federal level because some states have very lax drivers' license laws, which the 9/11 terrorists took advantage of. A bill will soon be introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature dealing with this same issue, according to State Rep. Mark Gundrum's office (Wisconsin is one of 10 states that allows illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses).

Like Chris, I also wondered about the wisdom of this bill.

My brother has warned about the dangers of having a national ID card.

At the same time, it seems crazy to allow illegal immigrants to get drivers' licenses.

So, I called Rep. Sensenbrenner's office last week to ask some questions about the bill. Would the database really be shared with Mexico and Canada? Would it potentially contain RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips? What limits would be placed on the date that could go into the data base and be coded on the card?

And here's the thing that's really bothering me right now:

I couldn't get any answers.

The man I spoke with didn't know. He said there wasn't anyone else available in the office who would know, either. Finally, he took my address and said that Rep. Sensenbrenner would write to me, "In about two weeks or so".

I told him that was too long, since I wanted to blog about it before a vote comes up in the Senate. He gave me a couple links to find the bill online, but then suggested I not blog about the issue until I got the letter from Rep. Sensenbrenner. (I guess that's not going to happen.)

So, now I have to ask: if the people working in the governmental office of a bill's sponsor don't know the answers to basic questions about the bill, who does know?

And how is an average citizen supposed to find out?

And until I can do that, I'm opposed to this bill.

UPDATE: Just today, about two weeks after this was posted (better late than never) I discovered a typo in the post. I had said "My brother has been warned about the dangers of a national ID" when I meant, "My brother has warned" He's warned about National IDs based on his experiences in dictator-controlled Paraguay for a couple decades. Anyway, I fixed the post.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Wisconsin’s Budget Woes - there is a solution!

I have been watching the current debate over our state budget situation with great interest and it has become apparent that the Republicans (who hold 60 percent of the assembly seats right now) have a proposal composed of four parts: two parts I dare you, one part I double-dare you, and one part principle. Clearly, this proposal is more political than effective in the long term. Do I favor a freeze in property taxes? Well, yes - sort of.

I would much rather see a market driven solution come out of Madison that would make a freeze unnecessary. Unfortunately, there are no legislators who seem to be able to put two and two together and come up with four - they keep coming up with five or six! There is, however, a real solution to our state’s budget woes. It is also, not surprisingly, a solution to our educational debate. It is my humble wish that any legislators within eyeshot of this blog entry will consider my solution as follows. Certainly there would be details to work out but the following will eliminate the need for a tax freeze debate and would likely make a TABOR far more palatable.What? How can this be? Read on...Read more »

Thursday, February 17, 2005


The Racine Journal Times is reporting that 313 of the 5,629 postcards sent to same day registrants in the November 2nd, 2004 general election came back as undeliverable.
Of those 313 that were returned, 207 people moved, 82 were returned "unable to deliver" and 24 were returned for incorrect addresses.
Read more at Brainpost

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Making Wisconsin Colder

Thanks to strong pressure from Conservatives all over Wisconsin, we have a good Property Tax Freeze in the works.

I am told that yesterday, Mike Ellis met with the Assembly GOP Caucus and apologized for his "kool-aid" comments. This was a significant conciliatory gesture on his part. Apparently, both he, and some of the lobbyists, were a bit frustrated with the heat that they were feeling from the right after going wobbly on us regarding the Property Tax Freeze. They felt that heat because of folks like you. Thanks.

The result is that we now have a compromise Property Tax Freeze that will pass both houses of the legislature (barring some unforeseen circumstance). It will freeze property taxes at the 2004 levels except for actual growth. This is a good bill. If you called and yelled at your legislators, be sure to call them back and thank them for supporting this bill.

National ID Card

Here is something that made it under the radar on February 11th. I agree with the Presidents views about our fight against 'Terrorism'. I agree with taking the fight to them off of our shores. I support the decision we made to topple Saddam. I agree with the Bush Doctrine.

There is an issue I actually agree with the American Civil Liberties Union on. They are against it and so am I. It is an idea promoted by the current administration to thwart terrorists introduced by Wisconsin's Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It would be drafted by the Department of Homeland Security. What is it? It's called the 'Real ID Act'. It says that driver's licenses and other ID cards must include a digital photograph, anti counterfeiting features and undefined "machine-readable” technology, with defined minimum data elements" that could include a magnetic strip or RFID tag.

States would be required to demand proof of the person's Social Security number and confirm that number with the Social Security Administration. They would also have to scan in documents showing the person's date of birth and immigration status, and create a massive store "so that the (scanned) images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format" permanently. Another portion of the bill says that states would be required to link their DMV databases if they wished to receive federal funds. Among the information that must be shared: All data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards, and complete drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions and points on licenses.

It is nothing short of a National ID Card. I find myself siding with the likes of ACLU, World Socialist Web Site, Conspiracy Planet, and even People For the American Way, though not for the same reasons. This is definitely something I do not want. What's so ironic, is we are debating if we should require an ID to vote in Wisconsin. Am I barking up the wrong tree? Let's here your thoughts! Make sure you read Title II of the act that seems to be missing most of the news.

Cross Posted @ OntheBorderline

One of our own is at CPAC

Sean from The American Mind is at the CPAC convention this week, where he will be an official Blogger! Also check CPAC Bloggers for more info.

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction race

The upcoming race for the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction will have a clear choice, Linda Burmaster is the incumbent, bought and paid for by WEAC and the other state teachers unions. The challenger, Republican State Assemblyman Greg Underheim. Underheim is a long time supporter of school choice and wants to raise the caps that allow poor students to attend the schools of their parents choice.

I have posted the audio of a radio interview Underheim did with Jeff Wagner this morning.

The House Always Wins

Channel 3 in Madison is reporting that Tribal Indian Casinos raked in more than twice Las Vegas and Reno last year.
WASHINGTON -- Tribal casinos are booming -- pulling in nearly double the profits of Nevada's major gambling resorts last year.

Indian gambling made $18.5 billion in 2004.

That's 10 percent more than the year before. In fact, Indian casinos have marked double-digit growth for more than a decade.

Major Nevada resorts took in $9.88 billion in gambling revenue in the 2004 fiscal year. Overall, revenue at Nevada resorts, including from hotels and restaurants, was $19.59 billion in 2004. That figure for Indian casinos was $21 billion.

There are now 411 Indian casinos in the U.S. -- operated by 223 tribes in 28 states. More than half of federally recognized tribes in the continental United States operate gambling centers.

The National Indian Gaming Association says such casinos have created more than 500,000 jobs, mostly for non-Indians. They generated $5.5 billion in federal taxes in 2004.

Because tribes are sovereign nations, they don't pay state or local taxes. They're also exempt from most zoning laws.
Of course, in Wisconsin we have a crooked Governor who was more concerned about filling his campaign coffers with tribal casino money than helping the taxpayers of his state. The tribes, of course, back him and any attacks on them are seen as either racist or an attack on the 'jobs' Indian Gaming brings to Wisconsin.

I have nothing against Indian Gaming in Wisconsin, I just want them to follow the same rules as everyone else in Wisconsin, with no special treatment whatsoever.

Cross Posted at Lakeshore Laments by Kevin

Churchill, UWW in the news, 2/16

For those of you interested in the Ward Churchill/UW Whitewater story, here are some additional stories in the news of late.

The Kapital Times writes a juvenile editorial criticizing Rep. Steve Nass over his opposition to Churchill's speech at Whitewater.

The University of Wisconsin Whitewater's student paper, the Royal Purple, editorializes in support of their Chancellor's decision on First Ammendment grounds. (HT: Slow Play)

FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) comes out in support of Churchill speaking at UWW. (HT: SCSU Scholars)

A UWW student discusses the general apathy of the student population to the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Leader Telegram endorses common sense

Momentum is building towards enacting a little common sense in Wisconsin. The Eau Claire Leader Telegram is calling for voter ID in Wisconsin in an editorial entitled "If you want to vote, show a little effort." Here's their closing admonition:
In America, we can’t even get off our duffs and register ahead of time to help keep the process clean. Oh well, what’s that line about getting the kind of government we deserve? Think about it.
Head on over to the Leader Telegram and read the rest.

(Cross posted at Jiblog)

The Right Reform

Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a member of the House Social Security subcommittee. He has a good article in the "USA Today" outlining the facts about a proposed program. Here are some of the points brought up in the article.

This can and will be done without changing benefits whatsoever for those 55 and older.

This fact is the big scare tactic that the left is using to alarm and instill fear that age group. No benefits are going to change.

In fact, personal accounts help reduce the need to cut future benefits or raise taxes to restore solvency to Social Security.

Why? Because the future needs will be less on the Governments money. Each participant will have their own savings and interest that have accumulated in their personal accounts to draw upon.

Not only are personal accounts crucial to sustaining Social Security for future generations, they also deliver a much better return on workers' investment.

The money used to fund Social Security today earns a meager 1.5% yearly on average. Today there is a little known plan called the "Thrift Savings Plan" that has been around since 1987. It has been gaining between 4% and 11% annually, depending on the choice of funds choosen. Risky? Not at all. Who would choose this plan? 3.3 Million Government employee's. See previous blog here. What's good for 3.3 Million Government Employee's is good enough for us!

In addition to better benefits, personal accounts offer workers the chance to amass savings in accounts they own and can pass on to their spouse, children or other heirs.

We need to be able to pass 'OUR' money to our heirs. It is after all, citizens money, not the governments.

The choice is yours. To believe that there is no problem, or that it's too risky, or that it will cost too much is plain wrong. To strap future debt to our children is plain wrong. To use methods to scare and frighten seniors is wrong. It's time to do the right thing.

The USA Today article here.

Cross Posted @ OntheBorderline

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Blue State Conservatives

As many of you have probably noticed, we do not yet have a blogroll of sites from outside Wisconsin. Seeing that the Badger Blog Alliance is a gradually evolving entity, an additional blogroll will make its way up eventually, along with an expanded list of Wisconsin media links. One site that we do need to show some kudos to right now is The Blue State Conservatives. They've graciously linked to our coverage of the Milwaukee Election and Ward Churchill, and I think that if you enjoy the Badger Blog Alliance, you will probably also enjoy The Blue State Conservatives.

Also, as an update for BBA readers, several of our bloggers have been sick or tied up with business of late. Please forgive our recent slower posting pace.

Burmaster: Who's in and Who's Out

Who She Doesn't Talk to:

The Burmaster campaign continues to stonewall my effort to get a response to my questions. I have emailed Elizabeth Burmaster three times, and called twice and I have still received no reply. In my phone conversations they have acknowledged that they have received the request but so far they have returned nothing.

Who She Does talk to (and take money from):
In my search around for info on Ms. Burmaster I found the so called Human Rights League, A PAC that is dedicated to advancing the homosexual agenda in Wisconsin. Not only did they endorse and give money to Elizabeth Burmaster but she openly said that she had and would continue to assist them in advancing their objectives. The whole survey which is really an eye opener is located here. Is advancing an agenda that leaves children without both a Mom and Dad and seeks to destroy the institution of family really something that should be included in or will help our children's education? I thought a stable and supportive family was one of the most essential aspects to a child's education.

Crossposted: Wild Wisconsin

DPI Primary tomorrow: Don't miss it!

My aunt used to say that when she was a young adult, her father asked her if she'd voted the day before.

"No," she replied, "it was just a primary."

"Just a primary!" replied my shocked grandfather. As a first-generation American, he couldn't believe that someone could take the right to vote so casually. As my aunt tells it, she never missed any election -- even a primary -- again.

So don't miss voting in tomorrow's primary; there's an important race on the ballot for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Here's an article from the Journal-Sentinel highlighting the tremendous philosophical differences between the candidates.

The candidates are the incumbent, Elizabeth Burmaster, and challengers Paul Yvarra, Todd Stelzel, and Gregg Underheim.

Elizabeth Burmaster is the candidate recommended by Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). That's enough to tell me to vote for someone else.

Two other candidates, Stelzel and Yvarra, both are in favor of more regulation of homeschooling. This tells me two things: 1) perhaps they don't realize that homeschools are legally private schools and not subject to the DPI, and 2) they do not realize the vital importance of freedom and choice in education.

That leaves Gregg Underheim. Owen thinks he's the best choice. I think so, too, from his website info, and from the phone conversation I just had with him.

Gregg Underheim thinks it's time that we look at seriously reducing the cost of education, rather than sticking with the current WEAC mantra of "we need more teachers at higher pay." He also thinks it's time to take a good look at curriculum; instead of just saying we're teaching kids to "think critically", we need to give them something worthwhile to learn and think about.

Finally, he is a proponent of school choice, including homeschooling. He doesn't believe we should change existing homeschool law or force homeschools to be more like public schools.

Sounds good to me.

Several BBA posts have discussed this race before, here, here, and here. Here, too.

So do your reading, and then please, get out there and vote tomorrow.

At least the lines won't be long.

MSM Arrogance here in Wisconsin

It appears that the pressure of the blogosphere and what it's doing to his reporting is causing Stew Rieckman, a reporter at the Oshkosh Northwestern to lash back at bloggers and their readers. He says, "The mainstream media plays by a set of rules." He doesn't like the idea that the blogosphere can offer anonimity. He even says, "I'm a certified member of the mainstream media." He says that with his editorials, even though passions can run hot, the exchange of ideas is always open and respectful even when we agree to disagree. Hmm.. When? Do they always get voiced? I have a theory and will be putting it to the test Rick. I'll see how far dissenting voices from your ideology will be heard. See his editorial here.

I will finish with a comment offered by one of my blog participants in an article called, "Anonymity and the Blog" A reply to the article said:

Adams and Paine were the first bloggers!!

The better your rhetoric and argumentation, the more likely it is your ideas will prevail. To me, this is the real value and beauty of this or any blog.

A strong argument must begin with a premise; strong unassailable logical argumentation that follows from that premise will almost always win the day. The typical response to such powerful mind-work is emotion. When people are put to the task of laying out logical arguments (or emotional responses) that have strong philosophical premises, it is important for anonymity to an option. Some ideas are perceived as taboo, but nevertheless carry strong logical weight. Other ideas may even imply revolution… It might be difficult for some to make arguments they secretly harbor if they might face the potential of personal embarrassment, or worse.

The most important example of the righteous power of anonymity is none other than Thomas Paine. I would hope that all readers of this, or any blog, would remember that The Revolution was instigated by anonymous writers posting notes on trees in Boston. Common Sense was published anonymously. We owe our very freedom and liberty to men of great intellectual power who chose to write under either a pen name or anonymously.

Lastly, you have people, the case that comes to mind locally are teachers, who may very well be at odds with the government's education monopoly (unions, etc). If they put their names out here, there would be many potentially troublesome problems for them in the short run. Administrators, board members, union leaders, and students would all be able to stereotype such a person making their day-to-day job potentially untenable.

Testing out ones skill at argument is one of many benefits of a blog. Being able to do it anonymously is a beautiful thing. Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine were the original bloggers! Blogon!! by bildanielson

Cross Posted at OnTheBorderline

Saturday, February 12, 2005

UW Whitewater Alumni are fighting back

Very interesting! See how the Alumni are putting their own spin on the UWW debate.

UW-W's chancellor may be interested in this

lgf: Night of the Resignations
The head of a gender studies program at Hamilton College has resigned after igniting a furor by inviting to the campus a professor who likened the Sept. 11 victims to Nazis.

Nancy Rabinowitz said she was stepping down "under duress" as director of the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture. She will continue to teach comparative literature.

Rabinowitz resigned in a telephone call Thursday to the college's president.

On Feb. 3, she extended a speaking invitation to University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who in an essay written shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks compared the World Trade Center victims to "little Eichmanns," a reference to the Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann.

Friday, February 11, 2005

SCSU Scholars on tenure and Churchill

King at Northern Alliance member SCSU Scholars has an interesting read today on tenure and individuals like Ward Churchill. He also asks the Badger Blog Alliance to cover this story imploring us and concerned citizens to do the following:
I hope Sean and others of the Badger Blog Alliance will go to Whitewater to liveblog Churchill when he comes to talk, whether it be the speech he plans to give or the other event he intends to create if UW-W reneges on the contract. I hope other concerned citizens will show up and listen to Churchill and then challenge him for his views.

If we believe, as I do, that the only answer to hateful speech is more speech, Churchill provides you with your opportunity to practice your faith. I hope you'll take it. It's hard work, of course, because the group around you may be hostile, and your nerves may be shaky. And many faculty who find Churchill repugnant simply lack the nerve to speak out about him. But what are your alternatives?
Sean at BBA member The American Mind uses part of this quote today in response to Ann Althouse, who asked Sean if he was helping Churchill get the attention he desires. While it is true that this controversy is only serving to increase Churchill's national profile, it is also serving to expose Churchill's work as the caustic, poor scholarship that it is. Without this bright spotlight, it would have been possible for Churchill's work to continue to influence ethnic studies students with little critical investigation.

And yes, the Badger Blog Alliance will be at the speech on March 1. I'm not so sure that live blogging will be possible, but coverage of the speech will occur shortly after its conclusion. Provided, that is, Chancellor Miller's feet don't get ice cold in the next two weeks.
For more on Churchill & Whitewater at Badger Blog Alliance member sites, see:
The American Mind
Should We Even Bother?
Churchill's Coming to Whitewater

Cringing at the hate speech label (and other thoughts)

Underheim Responds

Below is a response that was posted as a comment from the Underheim campaign.

There is information about Gregg Underheim and his platform on our website at

Gregg is a proponent of a property tax freeze. He knows that we can have better schools in Wisconsin without raising the already enormous tax burden.

He is advocating keeping the QEO and changing the way we provide healthcare to teachers to make it more cost-effective.

Gregg is a supporter of school choice and attended the "lift the cap" rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday. He is also supportive of homeschooling.

In order to improve the quality of our public schools, Gregg would like to institute a "W3 - What Works in Wisconsin" program. This program would send representatives from the DPI to the high performing-low spending districts to see what those districts have in common. Those commonalities could then be exported to the rest of the state.

Please visit our website to learn more.
--Jessika Erickson

Make Up Your Mind Tommy

I think the majority of us here would agree with this image. We just hope Tommy doesn't go after the governors' post again. Time for some new blood I say.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Senate Republicans Are Already Caving

I am told that the Republican leadership in the Wisconsin State Senate is already caving to Doyle's budget request. Majority Leader Shultz has been over to the Assembly twice, so far, trying to convince the Assembly Republicans to go along with Doyle. Furthermore, some of the lobbyists from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Realtors, and Builders are also pushing the Assemble Republicans to accept Doyle's budget. RINO Senators like Mike Ellis are even praising Doyle's budget to the media.

Please call your Senators and tell them to oppose Doyle's utterly irresponsible budget. If you are represented by a Republican in the Assembly, call him or her and thank them for their fortuitousness. Without the Assembly Republicans, Wisconsin would be Banana Republic by now.

(Cross posted at Boots & Sabers)

No Dayton in '06

This leaves an open seat for our neighbors to the west in Minneasota. Now if we can only get our senator to follow his example. All the scoop here on the race.

Crossposted to Wild Wisconsin

UW Whitewater to continue to host Ward Churchill

The following is University of Wisconsin Whitewater Chancellor Jack Miller's decision to continue to invite Ward Churchill to speak at the university.

Released: February 10, 2005

Contact: Brian Mattmiller
(262) 472-1194

Chancellor Decides to Continue Ward Churchill Lecture


Jack Miller, Chancellor of UW-Whitewater

February 10, 2005

A tremendous amount has been written and spoken about an invitation issued by a student organization to University of Colorado ethnic studies Professor Ward Churchill to speak at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus March 1 about “Racism Against the American Indian.”

This invitation was issued six months ago as part of a four-speaker Native American lecture series reflecting diverse viewpoints on the Native American experience. Whether to continue planning for his presentation, to rescind his invitation, or to delay his presentation pending other investigations is related to a complex range of issues and to great passions. It is also a decision that I accept at the outset will be met with much dissent and cynicism, regardless of the outcome. Personally, I find the decision to be repugnant because of the offensive nature of his remarks.

There is no need to review or attempt interpretation of the offensive passages made by Churchill regarding the victims of 9/11 attacks. They are available for all to read. These comments, which some people—including some who lost loved ones, family members, and colleagues on 9/11—would call “hate” speech are obviously deeply hurtful. This is not to negate or criticize the professor’s larger argument about violence begetting violence. Reading the commentary does explain what has fanned the flames to a level that has prompted security issues at other campuses.

Some people paint the decision as a simple matter of academic freedom or First Amendment rights. Clearly those principles are involved, but such a simplistic view ignores factors such as safety concerns; a lack of obligation to invite, pay and provide a forum to any guest; and the justifiable outcry against those who indulge in hateful speech against victims and the invoking of the specter of the Holocaust. Others say no one should be subjected to such unpopular and perhaps despicable commentary, thus trivializing the role of the academy as a place where all forms of commentary can be heard and challenged intellectually.

I believe there is no one “correct” decision, despite simplistic views to the contrary. In fact, I have made related decisions in the past on our campus, and have noted that critical reactions are often defined by the politics of the issue. For example, on one occasion I vigorously defended some of our faculty who were under siege from alumni and donors for remarks they considered anti-American immediately following 9/11. On another occasion, numerous members of the UW-Whitewater community demanded that I dismiss a student who appeared briefly in “blackface” during a Homecoming skit. I did not. Some of the same people who lauded the first decision decried the second, and vice versa. I do not raise this fact to complain, but to illustrate why I have worked to make an informed decision, not the popular or politically expedient one.

I believe that it was appropriate for the Native American Cultural Awareness Association (NACAA) to have extended invitations to Mr. Churchill and others to speak on Native American issues.

First, our Native American community in particular, and countless others in general, appreciate being challenged by controversial ideas.

Second, I have faith that our faculty, staff, students, and community members are able to decide for themselves whether to listen and, more importantly, to critically assess the message of Mr. Churchill. Certainly he has appeared without incident in many venues in the past. According to today’s Chronicle of Higher Education, Churchill has lectured with virtually no media attention since 9/11 at numerous universities, including Swarthmore, Arizona State, Michigan State, Brown and Syracuse. Although his scholarship is being questioned and is now under review by his employer, that does not negate his status as a frequent speaker on Native American issues.

Third, the invitation was extended six months ago before virtually everyone became aware of what I believe to be his grossly inappropriate comments.

Fourth, our campus is no stranger to playing host to a wide range of viewpoints. For example, Russell Means, inaugural director of the American Indian Movement (AIM), for whom Ward Churchill once wrote speeches, appeared last year on our campus without fanfare or incident. And from a completely different political perspective, I attended a campus lecture just this week by an Evangelical Christian minister.


After extensive consultation with individuals both inside and outside the university community, and with the support of the sponsoring student group, I hoped to be able to continue the invitation, but with six stipulations. In short, I side with the First Amendment principles, and with my faith in our faculty, staff, students, and community members as to whether to listen to Mr. Churchill and how to judge his comments. I say this knowing we are under no obligation to extend him an invitation, and while holding the personal feeling that his comments on 9/11 victims were despicable. Finally, I know the decision will be repugnant to some.

The six stipulations to be met are as follows:

1. Most importantly, the university must be convinced that the safety and security of our campus community, our visitors and Mr. Churchill are not compromised in any way by the lecture, which has heightened risk at other campuses.

2. No state-funded, general purpose revenue (taxpayer money allocated by the state to the university) will be used to pay the speaker’s honorarium or travel expenses. Further, such funds will not be used to provide a free-of-charge venue on campus or to provide additional security. All funding for this event will come from either private gifts or student fees which have been allocated by the Student University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC) and guided by the following campus policy: “When a University requires student fees and creates a mechanism (the SUFAC Committee) for extracurricular speech, it (SUFAC and the university) may not prefer some views to others.” On the matter of private funding, I have promised to help raise funds and plan to make a personal contribution to defray the cost.

3. No one will be “forced” to be in the audience. Often, guest lectures are populated by students who are meeting a class requirement. Here, I will rely on the compassion and good sense of our faculty and staff to provide alternative assignments for those who have been personally hurt or offended by the previously mentioned commentary of Mr. Churchill.

4. A response was requested of Mr. Churchill to my attached letter, which states my opinion of his “little Eichmanns” characterization of some of those killed in the World Trade Center (and elsewhere) as part of the 9/11 attacks. I gave him one example of the hurt our campus saw and heard first-hand from one of our alumni who lost 176 corporate “family members” in the attacks. For the complete text of my letter, click here. For Mr. Churchill‘s response, click here.

5. The university recognizes the need for alternative public forums and will organize an event that will provide dissenting points of view. I am confident that many people from the campus community will step forward with ideas and that we will bring such speakers to campus.

6. The outcome of a review by UC-Boulder of Churchill’s scholarly credentials, while unlikely to be complete prior to his March 1 visit, could also have a bearing on our decision.


On Thursday, February 10th, after extensive discussion with all parties involved in the lecture, I have made the decision to continue with the invitation extended to Mr. Churchill, provided all of the above stipulations have been met. That being said, I also recognize that circumstances could change as the event draws closer, such as issues related to security, that could force us to revisit the decision.

Finally, I would like to gratefully acknowledge the support and input from people both on and off campus who have helped with this decision-making process, even while recognizing that this decision may be personally unpopular with some of them.

- Brian Mattmiller
Notice that Miller gives the university plenty of leeway to back out at a later date.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

MJS Attempts To Prop Up Doyle's Budget

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board is trying to support Doyle’s rhetoric. It’s just a shame that reality gets in the way.

Faced with another huge state deficit, Gov. Jim Doyle pulled a rabbit out of a hat Tuesday by presenting the Legislature with a balanced budget that includes no tax increases and imposes restrictions on local government spending that Doyle says will accomplish the same thing as the property tax freeze proposed by Republicans.

Doyle pulled something out. But it wasn’t a rabbit. And he didn’t pull it out of a hat. To say that Doyle’s budget is balanced is to either be economically inept, willfully blind, or a flat out liar. Doyle’s budget includes about a $1,000,000,000 structural deficit. What that means is that the state is going to spend $1,000,000,000 more than it takes in in tax revenue. Doyle is going to accomplish some of this by raiding the Transportation Fund and the Patient Compensation fund. He will accomplish the rest of this bloated spending increase by borrowing. If this is what the editors call “balanced,” then I’d love to see their checking accounts.

Note to the editors: prefacing something with “Doyle says” does not make it a fact. His tax antifreeze is nothing like the GOP’s plan and falls far short of actually freezing anything.

Some Republicans were quick to poke holes in Doyle's budget. They said his tax freeze was a tepid, politically inspired effort at best, based on what Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker derisively called "Madison math."

But considering the state's very real budgetary problems, coupled with the no-tax-increase juggernaut rapidly picking up momentum in the Capitol, Doyle deserves credit. It appears he and his staff have done a solid job of balancing not just the bottom line but the state's many pressing needs.

Again, Doyle’s budget is not balanced. It is using one-time gimmicks and debt to fund a massive increase in spending. He has done nothing to address the state’s “real budgetary problems.”

Certainly no one can argue Doyle is shortchanging education since he proposed increasing state aid for schools to $850 million to keep the state pledge of two-thirds funding.

I’m sure that WEAC could argue that point, but I certainly won’t. In fact, I would argue that Doyle is shoveling more and more money into an already bloated school system. This spending increase is payback for the teachers’ unions bankrolling Doyle’s campaigns. I refuse to accept the fact that my kids go to a great school where they are educated for $3,100 per year and some districts in Wisconsin insist that almost quadruple that amount is “shortchanging the kids.” K-12 education in Wisconsin is riddled with waste and corruption. Throwing more money on the fire only makes it burn higher and faster.

It's true Doyle managed to balance his budget in part by transferring $180 million from the state's Patient Compensation Fund and another $250 million from the transportation fund, controversial moves likely to run into flak from GOP lawmakers.

From a strictly financial standpoint, borrowing from one account to balance another is not a wise long-term policy.

Well…. No shit. You mean that cashing out my 401k to buy a boat isn’t a good idea? Well golly, Wally.

What they fail to mention is that both of these funds are supported by revenue streams related to their use and that they have always been kept utterly segregated from the general fund. That is, until Doyle raided the Transportation Fund in his last budget. I guess that once he got away with it once, it’s too easy not to do it again.

But Doyle makes a compelling case.

Um.. no, he doesn’t.

Borrowing from the patient fund helped him to avoid cutting important Medicaid programs that provide health care to the working poor and prescription drugs to the low-income elderly. Besides, the $750 million patient fund is flush and the state usually taps into it for only $20 million to $30 million a year, Doyle pointed out.

This is proof of an old political axiom: if you leave a pile of cash around a politician, he will spend it. Just because there is a pile of money does not justify spending it. That money is there for paying out malpractice claims. It is not there to fill holes in the budget or to pay for more spending. Just because I have a pile of cash sitting in my wallet does not give you the right to spend it (I don’t have a pile of cash, BTW).

And while taking money from the transportation fund for education and other needs, Doyle said he is taking less from the fund than has been taken in the past. He sets aside $4.4 billion over the next two years for transportation, 16% more than the last budget. He's also proposing increases in the car registration and title transfer fees to increase revenue.

Ahhh… another non-excuse. Just because he is taking less than last time does not make it a good idea to do it at all. If a scumbag goes home and beats his wife every night one year, but only beats her every other night the next year, isn’t he still a scumbag?

Furthermore, notice the backdoor tax. If Doyle increases car registration and title fees that go into the Transportation Fund, and then takes the money out of the Transportation Fund to pay for more spending, isn’t that just another way of raising taxes? (hint: yes)

Doyle has rightly criticized Republicans in the past for advocating a property tax freeze that he points out is so severe it could force local governments and counties to cut vital services, including schools, police and fire.

The Republicans have never – repeat: NEVER – advocated a freeze that would force local governments to cut vital services. The problem is that that’s what local governments usually threaten to cut first to bully the people into accepting their oppressive tax burden. Furthermore, every property tax freeze that the GOP has ever passed included a provision for the local communities to surpass the freeze limits by holding a referendum. Isn’t it really up to the local communities to decide what’s “vital?”

Doyle's alternative appears to make more sense, especially if the goal of proposing a freeze truly is to provide property tax relief. Providing two-thirds state funding to schools should mean school districts will have to rely less on the property tax to pay their bills.

The difference between the GOP and the Dems is that the GOP want to reduce the overall tax burden. This includes property taxes, sales taxes, fees, income taxes, etc. The GOP wants the government to be less of a burden to Wisconsinites. The Dems, on the other hand, just want to shift the burden around on the backs of the taxpayers until it’s not so uncomfortable.

His proposal to freeze taxes for municipalities and counties also appears more balanced than the freeze advanced by Republican lawmakers. Doyle would allow local government to increase levies based on a reasonable combination of inflation plus 60% of the regional increase in property taxes due to new construction.

“More balanced” means “not strict.” Doyle’s tax antifreeze would allow the local governments to increase taxes at almost the rate that they have in the past. Also, what the editors fail to point out, is that over half of the property tax burden is exempt from his antifreeze. Doyle is pumping $850,000,000 more spending into the schools in the hope that they won’t increase their tax levies. However, there’s nothing in his plan that would forbid them from doing so.

At the same time, Doyle would continue $930 million in state shared revenue to local governments and provide $130 million a year in incentives to municipalities that keep levies below the allowed levels.

Let’s step back into reality for a moment. If you are a taxpayer in Wisconsin, you don’t really care which part of government is taxing you or how they extract it. The point is that too much of the money that you earn with your labor is being confiscated from you and spent by someone else. Doyle’s plan is to give state tax revenue to the local governments so that they will not raise property taxes as much. Where, exactly, does Doyle think that state tax revenue comes from? It comes from the exact same taxpayers. The only difference is that they will pay their tax burden more with the income tax, sales tax, and fees instead of the property tax. Personally, I would rather see an actual decrease in spending, and the requisite tax decrease, than just shifting the tax burden around.

That strikes us as a balanced and responsible approach to local spending.

It’s not local spending. It’s state spending. The whole thing strikes me as the product of a drunk teenager trying to explain to his parents how he managed to put $10,000 on their credit card in a single weekend.

Doyle’s budget is a mastery of delusional thinking and political trickery. It rests on the economics of Enron and the values of Tammany Hall.

(Cross posted at Boots & Sabers)

A 2 day round up from My View of the World

Here are the headlines from My View of the World.

Who are the Governors policies hurting most? View Story

School Choice Caps that will be vetoed by Jim Doyle. View Story

Greg Borowski is still uncovering the dirt in Milwaukee's election fraud. View Story

Wisconsin's budget will raise vehicle "fees" (read taxes). View Story

Learn how Wisconsin's governor wants to give full state benefits to "domestic partners" of University system employees at a huge cost at a time we can least afford it. View Story

Anyone want a 1000Mb email account? Get one here. View Story

Could there be peace in Israel? View Story

Wisconsin energy bills to increase by another $115 million. View Story

Ward Churchill, the American hating fraud waists bandwidth in two posts today. View 1 & 2

Learn why the Eagles were in slow motion in the Super Bowl. View Story

The Big TABOR Lie

The Tomah Journal recently reported (Feb 3, 2005) an editorial entitled "TABOR as legislation preferable to TABOR in constitution". The editorials very existence is information whose purpose is to literally fool the taxpayer. The article says that we already have TABOR like measures in place. Well why are combined income and property taxes the 3rd highest in the nation? Why have property taxes been raised an average of 7.3% just this last year? Why have organizations named Wisconsin one of the worst places to retire in the country? Why do a large amount of graduating students from the Wisconsin State College system go work in other states? Why have we been called a ‘TAX HELL’?

If the things in this editorial really worked, what are the answers to the questions? The answer really is, and this is from the mouth of Frank Lasee, directly to me, and I will paraphrase, is “He doesn’t trust his fellow legislators to curtail spending beyond taxpayers’ means. Nor should the taxpayers. People aren’t as generous with their tax dollars as elected officials are. They can just ignore their own legislation if they want.”

So as long as there are politicians that get voted in by the amount of special interest money they receive, how much pork they bring home, they will continue to spend, spend, and spend. That my friend is one reason it needs to be in the constitution. Another? Well we have Mr. Doyle that has vetoed everything that has come across his desk in regards to tax cutting measures. Mr. Doyle cannot veto a constitutional amendment. If the budget plan Doyle put out last night is any indication of Wisconsin’s future, TABOR is needed now more than ever! Don't belive this perpetuated lie that TABOR should not be in the constitution.

Cross posted @ On the Borderline

Social Security - Exempt all state employees

Rahm Emmanuel (Former Clinton Administration member), Representative from Illinois, chastised Jack Snow yesterday during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Emmanuel indicated that it is Medicade, not Social Security, that is of immediate concern and, furthermore, the fact the administration was $400 billion off the mark in dealing with that entitlement last year is proof positive that any numbers put forth currently on SSI or, ostensibly, anything else, be taken with a home-sized piece of salt. Speaking of salt, Mr. Emmanuel should be a little careful considering he worked for one an impeached president. OK, ok, no more ad hominems - but clearly such logic is where Emmanuel was headed.

No matter who you are or what political party you come from you would have to be an abject zombi to not realize that Social Security is a huge problem that will dwarf any other program of this country. Unless fundamental changes take place now, those three programs (SSI, Medicare and Medicade) combined will completely consume the total budget at a point certain in our not so distant future. That's right, nothing left for defense or anything else.

I think it is interesing to note that at least the GOP has a plan, the Democrats have put forth nothing - except a veiled reference to increasing taxes. If increased taxation were used, this country would be bankrupt, and our economy would be in serious trouble because there would be no money available for capital formation.

I don't believe the current plan put forth by the GOP is the best solution, but nevertheless it addresses part of the problem. Clearly, "private accounts" are part of a solution but they do not get you anywhere near solvency. Reductions in benefits, increases in the tax basis, or an increase in the age qualifications (essentially a reduction in benefits) will be necessary.

However, I would like to offer another piece to any solution. A requirement that public employees who are currently qualified to receive a retirement benefit from the state in which they live be exempted from any social security payout. They should be required to continue to pay into the system as they currently do unless they are under the age of 30. Those under 30 would be exempt completely and would be ineligible for social security.

You see, each public employee carries with him or her a double taxation, double unfunded liability. If you remove the person from the system there is a huge net savings to taxpayers. Just as we would save enormous amounts of state money by instituting universal tuition tax credits for K-12 education, we would have the same differential savings in social security for each person pulled out of the future recipient stream (unfunded liablity account would drop more than the total contribution by each person removed). Such a move doesn't solve our problem, but it would be part of the solution.

Since all of these state employees have a taxpayer funded retirement plan already it is ludicrous that we should be doubling up on these people. Get em out!

donttreadonme @ On the Borderline

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Douglas County: No Line and No Power

If you've spent any time in northwestern Wisconsin over the last four or five years, you've probably noticed signs throughout the region that read "NO LINE" in bold letters. It's a reference to the plan by American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee to build a high-voltage power line linking Wausau with Duluth.

Those opposed to the power line are concerned about the environmental impact of the project, which would run for 210 miles through the northwoods, cutting through forests, and across rivers and wetlands. Those in the proposed path of the power line are also rightly concerned about property values in a region of the state where incomes are low, taxes are far too high, and the main industry involves drawing tourists to pristine lakes and woods. So it would be simplistic to assume that those opposed to the line are all lefty environmentalists. The livelihood of many residents of the region depends on the environment.

Last week the Douglas County board voted 15-11 to continue its opposition to the power line, in a move celebrated by environmentalists. But is it really a victory? ATC will be building the power line anyway. What the Douglas County board has done is effectively cut itself out of the decision-making process.

Our elected officials issued a clear, emphatic “no” when the votes were tallied, but they were not merely saying no to American Transmission Co. and the power line. It’s clear to us that the County Board also said no to a few other things — such as the power to negotiate with ATC leaders, the ability to reduce the potential impact of the power line on its constituents and the opportunity to reap a financial windfall that can help out our financially strapped county.

By saying no to the project, Douglas County essentially said yes to a loss of leverage on the issue altogether. The Public Service Commission has approved the project, many high-ranking political leaders know that the line is needed and the permits needed to grant ATC the access it needs to construct the line are being written and approved. The line will be built, the only variable is what route it takes, but our county leaders will no longer be a part of that process.

. . .

The potential exists for many more private landowners to be impacted now that the county has opted out of the project. Had Douglas County agreed to negotiate, only a handful of citizens would have been affected. Now somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 folks might have to worry about the power line becoming a part of their land. The county could have avoided this altogether.

The Superior Daily Telegram also had harsh words for members of the environmentalist group SOUL (Save Our Unique Lands).

It’s ironic that while SOUL (Save Our Unique Lands) members are no doubt celebrating what they perceive to be a victory, they’ve effectively lost a lot of power themselves. They could have been a part of the planning, making sure that the rights of property owners aren’t infringed and that their environmental concerns are addressed. Not anymore. The role of SOUL now drops from being that of a lobbyist to a run-of-the-mill protester.

In fact, SOUL members were criticized in a separate editorial for their behavior at the hearing.

I grew up in northwestern Wisconsin, in a family business that depended on tourism. I'm sympathetic to those who oppose the power line, but there's truth to the old adage that you can't fight city hall. Over the last five years, it should have become clear that ATC would not be altering its plans. In this case, the best thing to do is to get into a position where you can have a say in the matter. Washburn and Marathon Counties figured out that if you can't beat 'em, at least you can have a seat at the negotiating table. In saying 'no' to the power line, Douglas County said 'no' to any negotiating power it might have had.

Environmentalists' refusal to give an inch will result in ATC taking much more than a mile.

(Cross posted to Darn Floor)


"Such work, called therapeutic cloning because it does not result in a baby, is opposed by abortion foes and other biological conservatives because researchers must destroy human embryos to harvest the cells."--AP

Now that is a trick. An embryo is not a baby. Technically medically yes, but what playing with terms.

Poor Tim

Tim Roemer has officially stopped running for the chair of the Democratic National Committee giving it up now to Dean. This just continues the no change liberal status of the Democratic party. Roemer was the pro-life candidate that gave the left an opprotunity to ammend their ways and they said "no." It appears now that nothing has changed except maybe the way in which they veil their views in rhetoric. Dean finally has something to scream about winning and I'm sure we will be hearing more not less of his screams in the future.

Crosspostd to Wild Wisconsin

Doyle's Freeze

I am told that Doyle’s tax “freeze” does include an actual statutory freeze on local governments, but the limits would be somewhat higher than the GOP plan. His plan would still get to a total overall 2.6% limit though, because the school tax levy increase would be 0% thanks to the $850 million in new money from the state.

Doyle’s plan would technically achieve the same “freeze” level as the GOP’s plan, but only with the state subsidizing local spending.

(Cross posted at Boots & Sabers)

Attention WI Bloggers

This is an open invite from your "Host Blogger" and Lord Ben, the two closest bloggers to this year's State Republican Convention. This year's convention will be held at the Blue Harbor Resort and Convention Center in Sheboygan on May 6 & 7.

Because of this, any blogger, regardless of ideology, that will be covering the State GOP convention, is hereby invited to join Lord Ben and I for a brat fry in the parking lot of Sheboygan Co. Republican Party Headquarters on Saturday May 7th after the convention wraps up. Ben and I will provide the beer, soda, food.

We do however ask for a $2 donation ($3 for non-bloggers, spouses, and "distinguished" guests) for those attending to help pay for the supplies. Directions to the HQ will be given once we get your RSVP.

You must be of legal age to attend.

If you have a better idea, please submit it to me at, to Lord Ben at, or in the comment line. Also use these same means to confirm to Ben or I that you will be attending.

Thank You,

Cross Posted at Lakeshore Laments by Kevin and Lord Ben's Meandering Diatribes by Lord Ben.

On Social Security reform, Courage, and the AARP

Progress for America, the group that produced the "Ashley's Story" ad last fall, is running a new commercial titled "The Right Thing" promoting Social Security reform. The ad will run for the next 10 days on CNN and FOX.

This group also recently ran the ad “Courage”, on the same topic.

Courage is exactly the word for it. President Bush is the most courageous politician in recent memory for having the guts to touch the dreaded “third rail”, especially considering that he could just ignore the issue and pass it on to the next guy (or gal), as his predecessors have.

The AARP doesn't like it and is going to put up a full-court press against the President, but as this letter on a Just One Minute post indicates, the AARP certainly isn't speaking for all Boomers and Seniors.

And for those of us who like to think not only of ourselves, but of our children and their children, the AARP definitely is not an ally.

Cross posted at Stand in the Trenches.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Still Drafty After All These Weeks

If you thought you wouldn’t hear about the draft once the elections were over, think again. There are still people out there trying to fool college students into thinking they could be drafted at any time. Last week one such person appeared at our local University campus to engage in a little scaremongering and teach the students how to become conscientious objectors.

For more than two hours Friday night in Phillips Auditorium, Washington D.C. lawyer J.E. McNeil spoke about military recruitment policies, becoming a conscientious objector to war and a host of other current issues related to the ongoing war on terrorism.

With casualties continuing to mount in Iraq and talk of another front being opened in Iran, McNeil gave her opinion on the possibility of a reinstatement of the draft.

"The short version is, probably," she said to an audience of about 60 people, a mixed scattering of students and community members.

I like how she's credited as "Washington D.C. lawyer." Trying to find a lawyer in Washington D.C. is like trying to find a beer-drinker in Wisconsin.

But, . . . um . . . "probably" there will be a draft? How about "probably" she hasn't got a clue.

And, er, . . . far be it from me to comment on someone's appearance, but that picture doesn't
communicate professionalism or inspire confidence. (Although I'm confident she's a professional gadfly. [Though were it not for the welcome inclusion of pronouns in the article, I would not have been confident of her gender.])

In her speech Friday, entitled "Do You Feel a Draft?" she used a PowerPoint presentation to discuss how to become a conscientious objector.

Not a PowerPoint presentation! She really is a radical!

Conscientious objection is based on a person's views on war, not violence. She pointed out that Muhammad Ali, a famous conscientious objector, "beat people up for a living."

However, it is not about opposition to a certain war, but to all wars.

"If you believe that killing babies in Iraq is okay but killing babies in Afghanistan isn't, then you (don't qualify)," McNeil said prior to her speech.

Ah, thank you for that little qualifier. I would have been confused. Because war is all about killing babies, you know.

She pointed out that at Memorial High School in Eau Claire, for example, the military has an office in the school and recruits two or three times a week.

"Treat the recruiter like you would treat the stranger with candy that your mother always told you about," McNeil said, saying recruiters will often lie and deceive when talking to teenagers. "The recruiter only has the power over you that you give him."

And Washington D.C. gadflies only have the power over you that you give them.

(Cross posted to Darn Floor)