February Political Musings

Of all the political issues confronting us in Wisconsin, a few of them have definitely drawn my attention.

The proposed mining bill has been filling the radio airwaves with proponents making a full court press to pass the Republican version, which is extremely friendly to Gogebic Taconite Company. Let me, for the record, clearly state, I am not opposed to responsible mining and I made a very good living off of the mining industry for thirty years However, I am opposed to getting the short end of the stick when negotiating a deal.

There isn’t a mine anywhere in the world that doesn’t have negative environmental impacts, some better and some worse. Given, that the proposed taconite mine will have minimal and controllable environmental impacts, and then its development should go ahead, but only after a thorough investigation. The state cannot nor should not commit to the mine until after all the studies are completed, including the EPA and Corps of Engineers. Short circuiting the process will only turn around to bite us in the back side.

Another element of the proposed bill is that state taxes will be assessed only on company profits and not ore tonnage produced. This provision will give the company a blatant opportunity to either greatly reduce tax payments or eliminate them altogether. Most states have severance taxes on the resources removed and I don’t know why we would want to be any different.

The bill that I reviewed proposed reducing the tax monies share to the local government for impact from 100% to only 60% with 40% going into the state’s general fund. This seems to be a significant change and I would like to know the rationale behind the proposal. It was my understanding that the current administration and legislature was committed to keeping as much money close to home as possible.

I would rather see no deal at all rather than a bad deal. I really think we are being way to generous with Gogebic.

Something else that I am following is the widespread move by Republican controlled state legislatures wanting to change the “winner take all” Electoral College electors to the Congressional District System like Maine and Nebraska. Since the Republicans controlled the majority of state legislatures after the 2010 elections and had the opportunity to redistrict, after the census, to favor Republicans; they see an opportunity to “jury rig” the selection of Electoral College electors to give them greater advantage in Presidential/Vice Presidential elections.

However, the Electoral College System is an antiquated system and it is high time to eliminate it altogether and elect the President/Vice President by direct popular vote. Forty years ago, we were only a US Senate vote away from the ending the system, but conservative southern senators filibustered the amendment into oblivion and President Nixon pulled his support.

The Congressional District System is seen by the Republicans as a means to offset their general failure to gain the support of Latino voters. As minority communities grow and become influential in deciding future elections, the Republicans generally recognize their vulnerability if they can’t stack the deck in their favor.

My final musing concerns the movement to collect DNA for arrested felons and certain misdemeanor arrests. I can understand why some law enforcement officials would want this information, but as far as I’m concerned it is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. What I find a bit strange is that those who so strongly defend the Second Amendment as it’s written, are so unwilling to equally defend the Fourth.

 The creation of this extended data base will allow law enforcement to go on “fishing expeditions” without probable cause, which is required for a search warrant. It is to all our benefit if law enforcement has to play by rules, which support the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. This statute, if enacted, will change the fundamental judicial philosophy and allow if arrested for one thing, then the arrestee will be subjected to a data search that has absolutely nothing to do with what they were arrested for. This is a bad piece of legislation and should be resisted at all levels.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

mau February 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
While all of you are being distracted by privacy rights via DNA and wire tapping, and drones being used on foreign soil..... Big Brother Obama is watching you..... "And as the standoff stretched into days, drones flew large, lazy circles high above the scene at night. In many ways, the scene resembled more of a wartime situation than a domestic crime scene as civilian law enforcement relied heavily on military tactics and equipment to end the six-day ordeal." "In addition to employing its counterterrorism unit, the FBI brought out a full array of military-style equipment, including armored personnel carriers and combat rifles. Many were visible at the scene during the standoff. According to a U.S. official, about a dozen active-duty Navy Seabees — sailors who belong to special naval construction units — helped law-enforcement authorities build a mock-up of the bunker that was used to plan the FBI assault. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the rescue effort, spoke on condition of anonymity." Talk about a situation that goes way beyond the Patriot Act. Of course we have the experienced Attorney General Eric Holder who was 2nd in command during the Clinton administration under the tutelage of Janet Reno.
CowDung February 07, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Don't be so sure. From Craig's link: "Brennan forcefully stood by the U.S. drone campaign during an April address at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, saying the government acts fully within the law "in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and save American lives." His comments, however, did not specifically address American citizens abroad. "
Rik Kluessendorf February 07, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Lyle, my apologies. I didn't catch the distinction because I was unaware of any pending movement to take and collect DNA pre-conviction. The news reports that I have been reading involve collection from convicted felons, not those awaiting conviction. If there is no such movement, and I'm open to correction on that, then I'm not sure to what your argument above is referring? I would still argue that there are circumstances when pre-conviction collection is appropriate, but those are protected by the Fourth Amendment. And retaining that pre-conviction evidence is no different than retaining any other evidence.
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM
I'm not so concerned about what someone did or didn't say in relation to drones in a speech he gave. Again, how do the restrictions on using drones in this fashion differ from those for other methods utilized to accomplish the same thing?
CowDung February 07, 2013 at 05:53 PM
As I stated earlier, it doesn't matter if it is drones or a rifle. Killing US Citizens without convicting them of a crime isn't a good thing. The distinction I would make is that the drones make their kills in cold blood, not in the heat of battle or actual combat situations. If they can justify doing it abroad, it's not a big stretch to justify doing it here. How are they defining 'terrorist'? If a guy is stockpiling weapons or ammo, can he be labeled as a suspected terrorist and killed?
Lyle Ruble February 07, 2013 at 05:57 PM
@Rik Kluessendorf....It is the pre convection collection of DNA that I am objecting to. AG Van Holland has specifically asked for and has legislative support to collect samples on arrest for felonies and certain misdemeanors.
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Actually, I think it is a big stretch. The Patriot Act has been in force for over 10 years. The capability to perform assassinations of this nature, both on foreign soil and here, have been available for that entire period of time. The argument seems to be that, since this is an unmanned method (not the only one, btw, but one that seems to scare people significantly), there is going to be more of a propensity to utilize it in this fashion and start down the slippery slope of systematically taking out perceived terrorist threats. In other words, they've had this ability all along and, frankly, a drone isn't the least obvious of methods that could be used for this. Do we have documented cases of this happening since the introduction of the Patriot Act via other methods? Is there something unique in this legal opinion that would tend to lead someone to rationally believe that this is now a realistic possibility - i.e., how does this vary from (known) legal opinions of the past and their subsequent application?
Greg February 07, 2013 at 06:06 PM
"What I find a bit strange is that those who so strongly defend the Second Amendment as it’s written, are so unwilling to equally defend the Fourth." I think that this is an unfounded cheap shot, we do not live in an all in society. And I'm not sure exactly who this comment is referencing. I find it strange that the people that are all for abortion, are the same people that want to take away our guns. And this issue has a clear line in the sand.
CowDung February 07, 2013 at 06:10 PM
I'm not sure that I'd agree with you that the Patriot Act had made assassinations of US citizens legal, otherwise the recent Executive Order would not have been necessary.
Bren February 07, 2013 at 06:11 PM
One only has to watch some Occupy videos and read about how the FBI was involved in suppressing protesters to know that "freedom of speech" and the "right to peacefully assemble" only go so far. When we don't pay attention--that's how legislation passes that threaten our freedoms. I'm very concerned about the direction anti-terrorism legislation has taken, from the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (Uniting [and] Strengthening America [by] Providing Appropriate Tools Required [to] Intercept [and] Obstruct Terrorism Act) and going forward. Not long after this bill was signed, police started video recording protesters. In response, protesters started video recording the police. When the Occupy movement started in 2011, police began brutalizing peaceful protesters and video recordings taken by offended bystanders and other protesters were circulated around the globe. In escalation/retaliation, the police now arrest/brutalize people with recording equipment. Even a few journalists covering Occupy were arrested. Other than a few black bloc infiltrations, Occupy was a nonviolent movement meant to open the dialogue about wage/wealth disparity in the U.S. Setting up Occupy camps (a la "Hoovervilles" during the Great Depression) was an intriguing idea. Now several Occupy groups raise money to purchase debt and forgive it, others help people stave off foreclosure. These are good people. Why were they treated the way they were? Yes, I'm concerned.
CowDung February 07, 2013 at 06:29 PM
The patriot act dealt a lot more with surveillance and the various techniques that could be used to identify terror suspects. Those suspects could then be dealt with through the legal system--they get their day in court. By declaring that it is legal to kill terror suspects (with drones or any other means), the suspect can officially be denied their right to defend themselves against the charge of being a terrorist.
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 06:30 PM
I'm not saying it made it legal. I said the Patriot Act has been in force for over 10 years and that, despite the capability (as in ability, not legal authority) to do so we've not seen anything remotely resembling an assassination attempt by the US Government on one of its citizens here due to a belief that they were a possible terrorist suspect. Drones, or not, I don't see that changing. Are you suggesting it will?
Lyle Ruble February 07, 2013 at 06:31 PM
@Greg....To specifically address your question; on other blog posts, people who have adamantly defended the 2nd have gone to the other side to support the collection of DNA upon arrest for certain misdemeanors and all felonies. It's not a cheap shot, but is specifically targeting those who want to support the constitution selectively. I personally, would not want to see the right to own and bear arms abridged because that is an alienable right we have given ourselves. Same goes for the fourth amendment. I object to stopping vehicles for random searches or stopping people on the street for random searches. There is no connection between the right to choice and the second amendment. I know plenty of people who support choice and support the second amendment.
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Could you please post a link here to the "Executive Order"? I'm seeing a legal opinion that, apparently, the Obama administration is using as guidance. It specifically relates to drones being used on foreign soil in that fashion.
morninmist February 07, 2013 at 06:51 PM
tsk tsk. First Palin bites the dust, now dicky does the same. Hillary hater Dick Morris: Fox 'marriage' had to end - politico.com/story/2013/02/… #wipolitics #wiunion
CowDung February 07, 2013 at 06:52 PM
I think Bob is correct--it isn't an Executive Order authorizing it. It's a legal opinion from the Obama administration. http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16843014-exclusive-justice-department-memo-reveals-legal-case-for-drone-strikes-on-americans?lite
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Craig, we're still talking about opinions and interpretations here. There was no "Executive Order" given allowing the president or anyone else to mow down any American citizen or citizens they deem a threat. That's an interpretation of an interpretation. I sincerely hope you're not suggesting that this is going to turn into Obama or anyone else blanketing the countryside with killer drones taking out political enemies under the guise of thwarting a terrorist threat. Frankly, that seems to be direction both those pieces were headed. On the other hand, if there is a terrorist act in progress and there exists the possibility of it involving a US citizen working into conjunction with those involved, I don't want people crossing "t"s and dotting "i"s while casualties mount or the threat of it coming to fruition in its most horrific form continues on unabated.
Steve ® February 07, 2013 at 07:37 PM
You are insane Lyle if you think a mining company will come here and pay a per tonnage tax. I don't pay business taxes on my gross receipts.
Steve ® February 07, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Bren- Have you flagged this for being off topic? #brenisamoderate
Bob McBride February 07, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I don't share your concern, Craig. I don't see this as being a catalyst for unjustified attacks. On the other hand, if it's some nutjob in Waco who thinks he's God's 2nd son and who's intent on taking a bunch of innocent kids with him as he ascends to his rightful position at the right hand of the Almighty at some final showdown, if we can strategically knock him off without recreating a WWII Panzer invasion in the process, I'd consider that an upgrade. That being said, it's not too hard to imagine the enormous lefty outrage had this legal opinion not come from Obama & Co, but rather some Republican administration. Other than Lyle, I haven't seen one expression of concern whatsoever about this from those on the left.
Lyle Ruble February 07, 2013 at 08:48 PM
@Steve....For someone who claims to know so much about mining, this comment indicates you don't know about resource extraction fees. You are comparing two different types of businesses. Of course you wouldn't pay taxes on gross receipts. However, it is common to pay resource extraction fees for non renewable resources. It's time to start googling.
Jay Sykes February 07, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Lyle Ruble... Do you know how the taxes/fees are structured in other states, for taconite mining? I would expect that both Minnesota and Michigan would be reasonable comparative models, as virtually all current taconite mining in the USA occurs in these neighboring states.
Greg February 07, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Steve, The blog is about "musings", therefore the post, while stupid, may be on topic. We'll let Bren be the judge, as I am not a expert on musing. I think it's kinda like talking to yourself, but i'm not real sure. Did I say that last part out loud? Damn, I did it again! Fox could always hire Olbermann, he should be available as soon as he is done cleaning Gore's bathroom.
Luke February 07, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Although this may indeed be off topic, I feel compelled to express the same implicit satisfaction with Palin and Morris being voted off the island.
Greg February 07, 2013 at 10:13 PM
The occupy movement was, in most cases, a joke. For every instance of the police over stepping their bounds, there were 1000 protesters over stepping theirs. Occupy protested for the sake of protest, nothing more. If a group wants real change they should be able to define what that change is.
Lyle Ruble February 07, 2013 at 11:25 PM
@Greg....Occupy Oakland was a particular bad case of police brutality as well as on the campus at UC Davis. Did you forget about the Wisconsin vet that caught in the middle of it and wound up in the hospital with serious injury?
Richard Head February 07, 2013 at 11:58 PM
" It is to all our benefit if law enforcement has to play by rules, which support the assumption of innocence until proven guilty." Yeah, right. Cops hunting Cops and shooting up everybody else.... "Two (unarmed) women who were shot by Los Angeles police in Torrance early Thursday during a massive manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer were delivering newspapers, sources said." LOOK at that truck! http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/ex-cop-manhunt-newspaper-delivery-women-shot.html "The former LAPD officer suspected in shootings targeting law enforcement and their families is believed to have warned in an online manifesto that he had a deep understanding of the tactics being used to stop him, was heavily armed and planned far-reaching violence. " http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/ex-lapd-cop-said-he-was-heavily-armed-and-planned-far-reaching-violence.html "An official with the Riverside Police Department said early Thursday that two of the city's police officers were stopped at a red light when they were "ambushed" by a shooter who is now the subject of an area-wide manhunt." http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/riverside-police-ambushed-by-shooter-official-says.html You can live in Fantasyland, the rest of us deal with reality.
Steve ® February 08, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Richard Head February 08, 2013 at 12:04 PM
You can bet on one thing concerning the LAPD - no cops will be punished - fortunately they didn't kill anybody... more details: "A 71-year-old woman delivering newspapers with her daughter remained in intensive care Thursday night after she was shot twice in the back by Los Angeles police detectives during a massive manhunt for a fugitive ex-LAPD officer, according to the womens' attorney... The officers riddled the women's blue pickup with bullets in the 19500 block of Redbeam Avenue. Carranza was also hit, according to attorney Glen T. Jonas, and received stitches to a finger. "The problem with the situation is it looked like the police had the goal of administering street justice and in so doing, didn't take the time to notice that these two older, small Latina women don't look like a large black man," Jonas said. Dorner is black, 6 feet tall and weighs 270 pounds. Jonas said the women's vehicle was also "the wrong color and the wrong model" compared to Dorner's." Sorry about the inconvenience, Ma'am.... http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/
Lyle Ruble February 08, 2013 at 12:18 PM
@Steve...Thanks, page 9 is what I am referring to.


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