Bryce Ain’t Nice

The news from SE Wisconsin today is that long time Congressman and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, will not seek re-election in January when his term runs out. Ryan has said all along that he never intended to serve so long in the Congress. He wants to spend more time with his family.

Randy Bryce who announced his bid to unseat Ryan a few months ago had this to say, “After 20 years in Congress rewarding billionaires like Charles and David Koch, Paul Ryan took one look at Randy Bryce and this campaign and is throwing in the towel.” Bryce is taking credit for forcing Ryan out of office.

Frankly I don’t really care that Ryan is leaving. He has not been able to enact his agenda of smaller government, lower taxes, and saving Social Security. But for Bryce to take credit for Ryan leaving is absurd. It is also ungentlemanly.

Bryce’s boast is one of the things that makes politics so ugly. Why could he not have just said congratulations on serving 20 years in Congress and ending up being third in line for the US Presidency? Why could he not have said that it would have been an interesting race that he had been looking forward to? He could have said that now he is looking forward to a race of nobody first time candidates. The old saying goes, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

But Bryce ain’t nice. And so he stuck his foot in his mouth. I hope he chokes on it!


Gun Crime Case Study

A Racine, WI man was recently convicted of theft of movable property and sentenced to 2 years in prison. The original charge – felony attempted first-degree homicide, theft of movable property from a person/corpse, two charges of misdemeanor possession of cocaine and marijuana and four misdemeanor charges of bail jumping. The first degree attempted homicide charge was the result of a shooting.

People wonder why crime is so rampant, why respect for life, personal property and the rule of law is vacant from our courts. They wonder why those convicted of heinous crimes are back on the streets so soon. This is a prime example.

How can any man have four charges of bail jumping against him? If he was out on bail a first time, why was he given bail a second time – a third time – and a fourth time? Why are crimes committed with guns allowed to be plead down? How will making certain types of guns illegal do any good when our courts apparently do not think gun crime is of any consequence?

In two years when this man is released, will he be a changed man? Will he be an upright citizen? Will he have learned his lesson?

Any crime committed with a weapon should result in immediate and irrevocable life in prison.  If a person cannot peacefully live among society while respecting the rights of all citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ensconced in our Declaration of Independence, they should be locked up forever, denied the freedom that they have so recklessly abused and dishonored of the honest, upright citizens they have tormented.

And if our legal system including the police, the courts, and the prisons, the legal system we the people have enabled to protect us from societal reprobates, will not exercise their sworn duty to protect our lives and our property, then it is time for the people to eliminate that system and protect themselves with the only thing we have left, our second amendment rights!

After all that is the main reason for the inclusion of the second amendment in our Bill of Rights – the rights of all men to rise up against a government not fulfilling the purpose with which they have been entrusted. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” Maybe it’s that time.



Guns or Grenades

The recent tragic shooting in the Florida school has renewed the call for more gun control laws. But what law would have stopped this violence? Someone intent on doing harm will do it – if not with guns, then with something else.

In 2014, Rashad Owens of Kileen, Texas, drove his car into a crowd of people killing 2 and injuring 23 more, 5 critically.

Also in 2014 in the city of Kunming, Yunnan China, 8 knife wielding perpetrators killed 29 civilians and left 140 more seriously injured.

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 and injured 600 in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. And on 9/11/2001, 2,996 people were killed when terrorists used airplanes to attack the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Would we ban cars, knives, fertilizer and planes because of their potential to be used for harm?

Drug overdoses led to 52,404 deaths in 2015 most of them from from illegal drugs. This is 4 times the number of deaths from gun homicides that year. And illegal drugs are already by definition – ILLEGAL!

Making guns illegal will not stop this violence. Making bump stocks illegal will not stop this violence. Making it illegal for mentally ill patients to obtain guns will not stop this violence. Raising the age at which a person can legally buy a weapon will not stop this violence.

Nothing will stop violence committed by a person intent on harming other people.

I don’t have the answers. But gun banners don’t have the solutions.

Tolstoy Testament

Recently in my readings I ran across a great quote from Leo Tolstoy in his essay, On Anarchy. He says, “And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”

Think about that for a moment. How many of us are willing to change ourselves? It seems like we all want to change everyone else, make them more like us. After all we are right. They are wrong. The Catholics want the Lutherans to change. The Lutherans want the Catholics to change. The Suni’s want the Shiite’s to change. The Hindu’s want the Budhist’s to change. There are divisions among states, countries, continents, races. These divisions lead to wars and calls for violence. Etc. Etc. Etc.

As I read Tolstoy’s quote, I was reminded of President JFK’s most famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” In a way, these quotes are similar. JFK was talking about doing something for your country though. Tolstoy was talking about changing yourself for yourself and in so doing, helping society – your country.

It is also a little like Pay it Forward. When something good happens to you or someone does something good for you, pass it on. In no time our society could be transformed. We would no longer need an overreaching government nanny. We could probably reduce our armed forces. Everyone would want to be our friend. Our motives towards them would be pure.

This concept of changing yourself is also a lot like the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Tolstoy was an anarchist. But he was on to something here. We would not need government at any level if it were not for some people taking advantage of others and other people trying to change their neighbors. Most of what government does could be done cheaper and more efficiently if we could trust our neighbors motive.

Can you live by the golden rule? Can you pay it forward? Can you change yourself? If you want to help your country, if you want to improve society, if you want to eliminate the nanny state that is becoming more and more powerful each and every day, begin at home and change thyself.

Punishment Parody

It was reported today that Dennis Brantner, 64, entered an Alford Plea in a Fond Du Lac courtroom in the strangulation death of Racine County resident, Berit Beck, almost 30 years ago. An Alford Plea allows a defendant to maintain his or her innocence while admitting there is enough evidence for a conviction. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Beck at the time of her death was an 18 year old, curly haired blonde, on her way to a job training seminar in Appleton, WI, her whole life ahead of her. She never made it. Her decomposed body, skull wrapped with a red gag, was found 6 weeks after she disappeared by a local farmer lying in a ditch 20 miles from where her car was discovered.

Brantner has always maintained his innocence. But while in prison for another crime he told an inmate he did it. He said he killed her but all the state had was his fingerprints in her van, and that was not enough to convict him.

So he entered a plea deal after his first trial ended in a hung jury, 11 having voted for conviction and 1 against. He can get 10 years in prison at his March sentencing. Meanwhile Berit Beck’s family and friends have had almost 30 years of punishment, almost 30 years of heart break, almost 30 years of loneliness, no family for her, no grandchildren for her parents. It does not seem fair. And that is the state of jurisprudence in America – scheming deals where the innocent are punished more than the guilty.

If it was my daughter…….

Politics and Money

A recent report by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign indicated that more than a third of the money contributed by individuals to Governor Scott Walker’s campaign came from out of state. I really do not know what the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is but on their website one of their links is titled, “Trump and Fascism.” They identify themselves as progressive. To me progressive means left of Mao Zedong.

Anyway, nothing new here. People from outside Wisconsin donate to Scott Walker. All candidates for all offices accept outside donations. Do you remember the old saying that, “All politics is local?” Not apparently with contributions to political campaigns though. I believe I once read that former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold received 60% of his individual contributions from outside the state during one campaign. And Feingold was the co-leader of the push for campaign finance reform along with John McCain. Apparently he did not practice what he preached. Isn’t that called hypocrisy?

Is there a way to limit outside money in local elections, state elections, and federal elections?

Years ago I came up with my personal campaign finance proposal that I dubbed LIVS. It stands for Local, Individual, Voluntary, and Small. I believe that in any election, contributions should be allowed only from within the district holding an election. For instance in an election for Racine City Mayor, political contributions should be allowed only from individuals residing in the City of Racine. In an election for the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, contributions should be allowed only from individual citizen residents of the 1st Congressional District. A presidential candidate could receive contributions from US citizens only. And so on.

All contributions to political campaigns should only come from Individuals. No corporations, no PAC’s, no unions, etc., should ever be allowed to contribute.

All contributions should be Voluntary. No forced contributions should ever be allowed via portions of union dues, membership fees, taxes, etc. When forced to contribute we are forcing those contributing to fund candidates and issues they may not agree with.

Maximum allowable contributions should be Small. The maximum contribution allowed should be set small enough so that anyone can contribute the max if he/she so desires.

This plan would disrupt the influence of money on political campaigns. It would force the candidates to appeal to the people instead of to large campaign donors. This plan would eliminate the influence that large contributors now receive from their donations. It would totally eliminate, not limit, outside contributions to local elections. Why should someone living in California (Barbara Streisand contributed to Feingold) be allowed to affect an election in Wisconsin?

Political candidates should never be allowed to accept money from outside the district office they are running for. The political process LIVS if this reform is enacted.


Donte’s Death

During the recent town hall meeting to discuss the police shooting of Donte Shannon who died from his injuries, a participant said, “It is very disheartening that in this community, police would shoot someone even if he was brandishing a weapon.” Another expressed confidence that Police Chief Howell will do something to see that this does not happen again. And another said, “Why didn’t they just shoot him in the leg or something?” One more said, “This killing’s got to stop.” Let me respond to each thought.

Firstly, police are trained to end the threat when a weapon is brandished. They must stop the threat to themselves and to the community at large. What if they did not shoot? Let’s say the person they were chasing started shooting first. Let’s say that your child was hit by a stray bullet from the shooters gun. Who would you hold responsible? Wouldn’t you blame the police for not shooting the person brandishing the weapon before he had a chance to hurt your child? Wouldn’t you hold them responsible for the death of your child? Wouldn’t you sue? Of course you would and with good reason.

Secondly, what can Police Chief Powell do to make sure this does not happen again? Can he stop suspects from running away from police? Can he stop the suspect from brandishing a weapon? Can he really order his officers to put themselves and the community in danger from a suspect brandishing a weapon?

Thirdly, if you have any familiarity with guns at all you know it is practically impossible to shoot someone in the leg. And even if you could, a suspect with a weapon is still a danger to the police and to the community. When a weapon is brandished, the threat must be ended. Two shots, center mass usually ends the threat.

And fourthly, is there really that much killing by the Racine police going on? I remember police shootings in Madison. I remember police shootings in Milwaukee. I do not remember the last police shooting in Racine. In fact Racine’s model of community policing is recognized nation wide for its effectiveness at reducing crime and increasing trust in the police department among the minority community. Our current chief and former chief have given presentations all around the country about this program. Violent crime is at a 50 year low in Racine.

There is a lot of anger in Racine about this shooting. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Wait until all the facts are in. Wait until the Wisconsin Dep’t. Of Justice completes it investigation.

Ultimately no matter why the police stopped Shannon’s car, if he had not run, he would be alive today. The only person responsible for his death is him.

UW Parkside Performance Perversity

A recent news report noted that our local University, UW Parkside, is working to meet new state performance based measures. Apparently the Board of Regents has adopted a model that awards additional funds to campuses that meet standards in 16 identified metrics.

The 16 metrics fall under four categories: 1. Growing and ensuring student access. 2. Enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness. 3. Improving and excelling at student progress and completion. 4. Expanding contributions to the workforce.

The Parkside Provost says they are already improving on 75% of the objectives. This is a classic case of teaching to the test but in this case it is not for the students benefit. It is to garner more taxpayer money for the University. As far as I am concerned, when you teach to a standard you get standardized students without creativity or excellence. More money for the campus. Less value for the taxpayer.

The Board of Regents based this new model on statutory guidelines. In other words the Legislature and the Governor created these performance criteria. It was a political action. Should politics ever affect a Universities academic standards? Should politics, which change with administrations whims and fancies, determine what our Universtities teach?

UW Parkside should stop teaching to a politically determined standard which may or may not be right for society today but wrong for tomorrow. And our Legislature should not award extra money to campuses that do!

Milwaukee Monstrosity – 2

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman got back to me regarding my previous post on his proposals to annex land in Racine County and to eliminate Milwaukee residents from having to pay increased electricity rates due to FoxConn. Below is his email and below that is my response.

From Ald. Bauman:

Nice try. The stadium tax was approved by the state legislature not the Milwaukee Common Council. I did not vote on the stadium tax. I cannot repeal the tax. Only the legislature and governor can.

However state rep Robin Voss from Racine County, as Assembly Speaker, could help you on the stadium tax.

My response:

Alderman Bauman,

And will it not be the legislature that determines whether Milwaukee can annex land in Racine County? And will it not be the legislature that ultimately determines whether Milwaukee County does not have to pay the increase in electricity rates due to FoxConn infrastructure?

You are acting like the big bully who is angry that the little kid next door has an ice cream cone and you want it.

Tell me this – how did you vote on the Milwaukee Trolley Folly? Maybe if you want to save Milwaukee citizens some money you could start there.

David Kristopeit

Milwaukee Monstrosity

This week Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said Milwaukee should not be required to contribute to the increase in electricity rates that the American Transmission Co. has requested of the Public Service Commission to fund the needed infrastructure improvements of the announced FoxConn project. Says Bauman, “I’m looking for fairness here.”

Fairness? Was anyone in Milwaukee county looking for fairness when paying for the Brewer stadium was foisted on Racine County and other surrounding communities with a tenth of a percent sales tax? Were they worried about fairness when the sunset time for elimination of the tax was extended? I don’t think so.

Bauman is also the Milwaukee Alderman who recently proposed annexing land in Racine County near the FoxConn development because he is worried that Milwaukee residents who take jobs at FoxConn will move into Racine. Tough.

Now I am not in favor of taxes to fund any private development. Perhaps FoxConn should pay for any needed infrastructure improvements. But if Milwaukee Aldermen are really worried about fairness, let them refund the tenth of a percent sales tax they have been collecting for the last 17 years from the 4 counties who do not benefit from the Brewers Stadium, and we will apply it towards the infrastructure improvement costs of the FoxConn development – and have hundreds of millions of dollars left over.