Letters to the Editor
Gorsuch not 'radical'
To the Editor:
President Trump has nominated a person for U.S. Supreme Court justice that has been a federal appeals court judge for over 10 years.
He has a law degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. in law from Oxford.
He's someone like many of us who enjoys hunting and fishing. He's someone that worked his way through college.
Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch is beyond qualified. He was unanimously confirmed to a be a federal judge in 2006, receiving support from former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold.
But now that he's Trump's pick for the Supreme Court he is all of a sudden "radical," according to Democrats.
Ironically, Ilya Shapiro—editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review—explained how quickly Democrats can turn on a judge in a recent tweet.
Shapiro wrote, "Hope this helps SCOTUS non-experts understand technical definitions: a "moderate" is a Dem nominee, while an "extremist" is a GOP nominee."
Gorsuch is not a radical. He wasn't in 2006 when Democrats supported him and he isn't now. While I may be asking a lot, I'm just hopeful that Senate Democrats like Tammy Baldwin will put this country over rhetoric and not try and filibuster a clearly qualified nominee.
Editor's note: This letter was originally written to Attorney General Schimel and is published here with permission of the authors.
Dear Attorney General Schimel:
We were deeply concerned to learn that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has tested only nine of Wisconsin's estimated backlog of 6,000 rape kits after receiving federal grant funding sixteen months ago.
You can be assured that we will ask you to explain this delay when you appear before the Joint Committee on Finance at an agency briefing in the coming weeks.
While we appreciate the department's thoroughness in developing a rape kit inventory process and planning a public outreach campaign, the process has been severely lacking in urgency and accountability.
On Oct. 2, 2016, USA Today reported that seven months after DOJ sent its Data Collection Tool to law enforcement agencies, nearly a third had not responded with their inventory of untested rape kits in storage.
This raises questions as to why DOJ was not more vigilant in following up with nonresponsive agencies. Were attempts made to contact agencies and arrange an appropriate timeline for response? What steps will the department take to ensure that these delays do not continue and this situation is addressed with the urgency it demands?
When recently questioned on the matter, you stated that "a few hundred" sexual assault kits had been tested. This is demonstrably false. The reality is that testing has only been completed on nine kits. That's nine incidents of sexual assault out of 6,000. Your misleading statements and purposeful lack of transparency only contribute to the growing public perception that your department is mismanaging federal funds and failing to get justice for survivors.
We recognize that some survivors may not want their kit tested, but wonder how other survivors feel about the 2.5-year backlog. Any delay of justice that could have been prevented is a miscarriage of justice.
We look forward to your response, and will continue this line of inquiry at the upcoming DOJ agency briefing, where we expect your presence in person.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach
27th Senate District
Sen. Lena Taylor
4th Senate District
Rep. Gordon Hintz
54th Assembly District
Rep. Katrina Shankland
71st Assembly District
The congressman doesn't care
To the Editor:
This week Congressman Sean Duffy was out walking in support of pro-life, which I find ironic. Mr. Duffy, while you were out getting local photo opportunities, there were many elderly people and children that went hungry due to the drastic budget cuts made by your vote.
There were also families that could not be united with their loved ones due to the travel ban that President Trump put into place.
This ban could have been stopped if you and Congress would have spoken up against it. There are still many people that are from your congressional district in North Dakota protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Many of these people are braving the cold and being hungry to protect the water and to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
As of now, you have not commented on the issue in Standing Rock. If all lives matter to you and your beliefs, then why doesn't the safety of these brave men and women deserve mention from you?
Where is it that you draw the line when it comes to "all lives matter?"
I would also like to ask if "all lives matter" to you, Mr. Congressman, with the eminent termination of the Affordable Care Act, how many lives with pre-existing conditions are you and your colleagues going to protect?
Since there isn't a replacement prepared by anyone, I am guessing that those lives do not matter to you because, again, not a peep out of you.
If the people whose lives depend on having insurance lose their coverage, they could die.
You could speak out on that.
Congressman Duffy, next time you decide to put on your walking shoes, consider those that are already here and could use some representation from someone who cares about them.
If men were angels ...
To the Editor:
In February 1788, James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers (#51) that "[if] men were angels, no government would be necessary."
Madisonian political thought recognizes that human nature relies on self-interest, and that there should be practical checks (conceptualized and solidified as our separate political powers) on this self-interest to avoid what the framers called a tyranny of the majority, but its implications don't end there.
For me, the example that best exemplifies the ever-lasting relevance of Madisonian ideals is America's national parks and other protected public lands.
If men were angels, we would not have needed to save, for us and our posterity, 640 million acres of (essentially) untarnished natural lands. If men were angels, we would not have needed to protect the iconic hardwood forests of Shenandoah and the old stands of lodgepole pine in Yellowstone.
But men are not angels.
And consistent with the trajectory of this type of economic opportunism in the mid-late 19th century, without protection, these areas of great natural and cultural import would have ceased to exist long ago.
This issue still manifests, now with great urgency.
Sadly, the growing Republican Caucus in Congress threatens to undermine the integrity of America's best idea.
House Republicans have recently introduced two bills that directly endanger these treasured places.
House Republicans led by Paul Gosar (R-AZ) have recently introduced a bill, H.J.Res.46, that would reduce restrictions on oil and gas drilling inside America's 40 "split-estate" parks, where the government owns the surface, but not the minerals below the surface.
These parks include, but are not limited to, Grand Canyon, Everglades, and Grand Tetons. Republicans in the House led by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have also introduced H.R. 621, or the "Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act" "to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming."
Deciding that these natural areas are simple "excess" highlights the ignorance of the Tea Party, neo-liberal moral calculus. In placing the economic value of these places above their value as cultural, recreational, and spiritual places, these bills and their authors illustrate in full color that men are not angels, and the necessity Madisonian ideals in the steadfast protection of our national parks.
Aldo Leopold wrote that he was glad that he was never young without wild country to be young in. I am worried that if we don't speak out against efforts like these, our children will be young without wild country to be young in.
Call your representatives and give our National Parks and protected lands a sorely-needed voice.
NOTE: Congressman Chaffetz's constituents and citizens from across the country let him know their opinions about H.R. 621, and has since promised to withdraw the bill. This is proof of the power of public opinion.
The Democrats broke it
To the Editor:
Everyone must remember why we're in this debate about Obamacare—it's because Democrats rushed through a law that completely disrupted the health care system, which skyrocketed people's health care bills and kicked people off their coverage.
Before Obamacare, most Wisconsinites had insurance and they enjoyed that coverage, those with major health issues were placed in a well-running high-risk pool, and costs were not out of control like they are today.
I'm glad that Wisconsin has Republicans like Congressman Sean Duffy fighting for us in Washington, because liberals and bureaucrats do not have the willpower to get rid of this law.
The wall scam
To the Editor:
It is essential to expose an attempted scam by Donald Trump and the Republican Party for what it is. I refer to the explanation given for building the wall on the Mexican border and a possible solution to paying for it.
Let's begin with the undeserved motives being attributed to the president of Mexico when he clearly told Trump, once again, "No, we will not pay for the wall you want to build on our border."
Trump railed at this as being unfair and disrespectful. Understandably, it might have been painful to learn that Trump's campaign promise was not to be, but how is it unfair or disrespectful to tell the truth?
Second, the Republicans and Trump floated as a possible way to force Mexico to pay for the wall—the imposition of a tax of up to 20 percent on goods imported from Mexico. They even provided an estimate of how much money this would generate each year.
Sounds good until you think about their proposal.
Look at what it would do.
If we now pay $100 for fruits and vegetables from Mexico, this tariff or tax would mean we would have to fork over $120 for the same goods. How is this forcing Mexico to pay anything for a wall?
Instead, this is a con game, which asks us to initially come up with $12 to $15 billion to build the wall and then be taxed again to repay the money which we already paid for the wall. One wonders just how naive these Republican folks think we are.
Third, consider the whole idea of asking another nation to pay for a wall which we would be building on our soil. What encourages Trump or any other government official to assume they possess the authority to force the building of a wall on our territory and then demand that another nation pay for it?
This is completely different than had Mexico asked us to build a wall on their territory. Then it would be reasonable that Mexico pay at least part of the cost of the wall.
Trump's idea might be an effective campaign pledge, but it flies in the face of logic.
It's time to speak out against the absurd scam being attempted by Trump and his Republican pals. Think about all the improvements which could be made in our country with that $12 to $15 billion.
James A. Benson