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.

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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.

Muslim Violence

Last week in an attack by Muslim extremists on a Mosque in Ismailia Egypt, 305 worshipers were killed including 27 children. The attackers pulled up in SUV’s, took positions outside the doors and windows and opened fire as the Imam began his sermon raining bullets and hand grenades on the helpless faithful. Then just as methodically as a butcher carves a roast, these butchers checked the bodies laying in the rubble. Any signs of life were met by another bullet.

This attack was a war crime for certainly this battle was fought during the longest lasting war in history, the war of Muslim against Muslim, Sunni against Shi’ite against Sufi against Baha’i. Still its adherents call it a, “Religion of peace.”

While carrying out their dastardly deed the militants carried a banner which proclaimed, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” This same banner could have just as easily graced the interior of the Mosque. Like I said, Muslim against Muslim. And they call us Satan. They call us infidels.

Why is the American military involved in this war? In Afghanistan? In Niger? In Iran and Iraq and Saudi Arabia and wherever else Muslim fights Muslim? Why are our tax dollars protecting the fortunes of Muslim Kings and Ayatollahs? Why is our soldiers blood being spilled in this centuries long battle where the death of innocents by fellow Muslims is commonplace, where women are a commodity, where Sharia law is preeminent?

Stop this nonsense now! They will continue to butcher each other whether we are there or not. So let’s not be there. We do not need their oil. We certainly do not need their sand. What could we possibly need that they have?

Bring our boys home now!

 

 

Race Scene

A recent Wall St Journal article identified Racine as the 4th worst city for blacks in the country. The survey cited used socioeconomic data from the US Census Bureau including household income, poverty, adult high school and bachelor degree completion, home ownership and unemployment. I believe this is an example of the old adage, “Figures don’t lie. Liars figure.”

When you look at these kinds of socioeconomic data, you can always prove a preconceived conclusion if you manipulate the data enough – or if you don’t look at all the data and just concentrate on that data which proves your preconceived conclusion.

For instance, in Mississippi in 2015, Asian Americans earned $55,457 on average. Pacific Islanders and Hawaiians earned $47,928, and white Americans earned only $43,469. It could be concluded that whites are being discriminated against in Mississippi. Of course that conclusion is politically incorrect and does not fit the story the media wants to tell. And besides, that is not a valid conclusion even based on the data. Neither is the conclusion that blacks are discriminated against in Racine.

One of the factors considered in the WSJ article is education levels of various races. If there are fewer blacks that have completed Racine’s high schools it would stand to reason that fewer blacks have college degrees in Racine also. Why would fewer blacks finish high school? Do they have the same opportunity as whites in our high schools? If in fact they do, which seems so, then why are they not taking advantage of those opportunities? And if they are not taking advantage of those opportunities, is that prima facie evidence of discrimination? Absolutely not!

The only thing that can be concluded here based on the data examined is that if more blacks finished high school and attained a college degree, the difference in wages would disappear.

In my mind all of the other data being considered such as home ownership, income levels and poverty are all dependent on education levels. Educated people – white, black, Spanish, Italian, German, Asian, etc. – make more money than non educated people. They also own more homes and better homes.

I am tired of seeing these types of surveys being used to justify more big government programs on top of those already in place – food stamps, income assistance, earned income tax breaks, rent assistance, tuition assistance, heating assistance, etc. etc. etc. I am tired of being taxed to help people who won’t help themselves no matter what their color, nationality, religion, or any other factor that can identify them as a minority. In fact I am tired of the term minority. We are all minorities of one.

I am a minority of one. I belong to no group. I want nothing from anyone else except the opportunity to advance my status through education and hard work. I expect to be treated as ME, not as some person belonging to a government identified discriminated group. I also will not treat anyone else other than as a minority of one. No one is special just because they are black or white or gay or a woman or because they belong to a group wanting special privileges.

This country is worse off for our preoccupation with identifying groups supposedly needing the heavy hand of government help. It is time to say put up or shut up. Get a degree. Stop complaining. And stop asking government to help.