Monthly Archives: September 2013

Rogue Administration

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

taxfraudYou know the truth is inexorably working its way out into the daylight when the Obama administration’s media defenders begin reporting that it isn’t.

That’s pretty much the status of the Internal Revenue Service scandal—the one the President himself called a “phony scandal” a few weeks ago, before it got bigger and decidedly, less phony. Sample this gem from POLITICO.  Alongside everything else we could say about it, it’s a textbook demonstration of defensive journalism—getting it on the record that you haven’t flat-out missed  major developments any competent professional would have to report, while pretending they aren’t major developments at all.

Ah, well…POLITICO’s one thing, read mainly by those who already have their minds made up.  But when IRS dishonesty finds its way into publications aimed at (comparatively) low-information voters, that’s a problem for administration spinmeisters. Let’s hope hotel guests and those who prefer to take their fast-food breakfasts sitting down have been opening up their copies of USA Today.

And then there’s the finding that IRS employees generally, not one or two “rogue agents” freelancing in the Cincinnati office, were fully in tune with the Obama administration’s animosity toward anything that looked like a potentially effective Conservative organization.

Presumably we aren’t expected to believe that people who are smart enough to grasp the U.S. Tax Code are too dim to figure out what’s expected of them when the Godfather says he’s irritated with some troublesome political rivals.

And as of Monday there’s a new question: How is recent IRS retiree Lois Lerner going to pay for her high-end legal talent now that she’s going to be on a fixed income?

Stay tuned.

The Consequences of No Consequences

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Little girl with books wearing black glassesGeorge W. Bush was never known for being an orator, but since his return to private life we’ve had a five-year demonstration that being known as an orator doesn’t make you one.

So give credit where it’s due. For our money, the 43rd President’s most memorable phrase wasn’t even a complete sentence, but the words, the searing insight, aimed laser-like at a blight that has damaged this society and threatens worse to come: “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

The Washington Post recently produced a classic example of Liberal elites doing what they do best: recognizing a problem but carefully missing the point.

The Post reported a study finding American families increasingly divided by race and economic status, and that the two tend to go hand in hand—a worrisome finding even as the “low expectations” make their inevitable appearance as early as the second paragraph, with the inflation of a high-school diploma to a “degree.”

The story includes politically correct comments about a need to “invest in livable wage jobs” and our “unequal society,” and the goal of “a truly egalitarian educational system.” Our guess is the Post’s sources define the latter differently than we would.

We’d say true egalitarianism means low income students having alternatives to lousy schools. Guess who’s working overtime to deny them alternatives.

Chillin’ with Global Warming

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On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the outfit that tries to justify mind-boggling taxes and international regulation of energy use—is supposed to release the fifth in its 23-year series of reports on global warming.

We say “supposed” to release because word last week was that a flock of political functionaries from all over were in a tizzy since the thousands of scientists behind the report may have produced a document that’s dutifully alarmist but not enough to warrant the power these bureaucrats want.

Indeed, as this is written, governments that bankroll the IPCC were holding a conclave in Stockholm, Sweden, furiously “negotiating” what the Fifth Assessment Report ought to say.

Yes, the story is full of New York Times propagandizing and if you might not notice that the new report retreats significantly from past IPCC alarms. But soldier on to the 16th paragraph, because that’s where they let the cat out of the bag: Scientists with a vested interest in alarmism still have just enough integrity to admit global warming has “paused” and the politicians are “negotiating” to make them say something else or pretend they haven’t noticed.

But oops! Mainstream media have noticed. Not in this country of course, but when you see what they’re writing in England and Germany, maybe this is one time it’s best that we lead from behind.

The fact is, there’s pretty good evidence that the Earth is getting cooler, not warmer. If anyone thinks the kind of climate that produced the Irish potato famine and the bread riots that led up to the French Revolution is preferable to something warmer, they just might get to see for themselves.

Obama’s War on Workers

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ObamaCare Ahead - Caution SignHaving kept an eye on politics and public policy since the early 1960s, we find it remarkable that nothing in our memory has produced a daily torrent of calamitous headlines on the level of Obamacare.

In fact, nothing has ever come close.

So, here is your weekly One-Stop Little Shop of Obamacare Horrors:

A former director of the Congressional Budget Office has figured out that Obamacare will inflate costs for union pension funds—lots of them already underfunded—and the administration last week balked at the cost of bailing out its union buddies.

Last Friday, they made it official and said there would be no subsidies to protect multi-employer plans.  Stay tuned and see how long that lasts.

More than 1,000 people in Michigan will become unemployed, thanks to Obamacare’s new tax on medical devices—you remember, right? It’s the tax to make medical equipment more expensive so health care can be “affordable.”

The Labor Department says if employers feeling safe from mandates until 2015 fail to send a coverage notice to their workers by an October 1 deadline, they don’t need to worry about being fined. We guess this means they won’t be fined unless the administration suddenly decides to follow the law.

Depending on which provisions are involved, the administration’s union allies who lobbied furiously for Obamacare are unhappy that the Supreme Genius isn’t enforcing parts of the law, and unhappy that he is enforcing others.

Meanwhile, another union boss worries that Obamacare may cause his members to lose coverage, making us wonder whether life might be fair after all.

And since they haven’t hesitated to make the accusation against people who’ve never done them any harm, we also wonder when they’ll start calling this a “war on workers.”

Class Dismissed

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dismissedMaybe we should have headlined this “Schadenfreude Alert!”  In any case, if you’re inclined to believe unionization of faculty and staff has damaged the quality of education in American schools for over a half-century, you’ll be deriving some serious enjoyment from the misfortunes of others this past week.

In Madison, a federal judge dismissed a 2011 lawsuit by two Dane County unions seeking to overturn the Act 10 collective bargaining reforms. Judge William Conley ruled that the changes enacted by Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature do not interfere with union members’ rights of free speech and association, which the unions evidently interpreted as including a right to have everything they want.

But a lawsuit wasn’t the only thing that got dismissed last week.

Teachers in the Kenosha Unified School District, the state’s third largest, dismissed their union.

One of the Act 10 reforms is a requirement that local public employee unions be re-certified as the collective bargaining agents for their members, by majority vote of the membership each year. People familiar with the details of Kenosha’s re-certification election say the union not only failed to win a majority of the votes; it failed to attract as many as 40 percent.

Smaller unions have decertified as long ago as 2011, but given the size of the Kenosha school district and the area’s long tradition of both private- and public-sector union membership, this is not to be ignored.

That is, unless you’re statewide teacher union spokeswoman Christina Brey, who offered a hilarious explanation that seems to say the disintegration of its membership in no way indicates her organization has a problem.

Still, things could be worse. Mexico could have used a Scott Walker long ago, before teacher unions forsook litigation for fighting in the streets.

Scott Walker tops four potential Democratic rivals in new poll

Posted in Wisconsin News on by .

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – September 17, 2013

Gov. Scott Walker runs ahead of four potential Democrat rivals for governor but tops out at 48% support in those 2014 matchups, says a new survey by Public Policy Polling.

In the poll conducted Sept. 13-16, Walker led Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca 47%-43%, former Commerce Secretary Mary Burke 48%-42%, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson 47%-40%, and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout 47%-41%.

Evidence of how little-known the potential Democratic field is at this point came in the poll’s favorability ratings: At least 60% of respondents has not formed an opinion of the Democrats.

Walker’s job approval rating again was split: 49% disapprove, 48% approve. President Barack Obama scored similarly: 49% negative, 47% positive.

The survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, had a margin of error of 2.9%.

PPP called the poll “mixed news” for Walker, saying his job-performance rating was unchanged from February.

But, the polling firm noted, Walker leads by 5-10 points with independents in all four matchups, and takes an average of 12% of the Democratic vote while losing only 7% of Republicans.

The lack of name recognition for the Democrats tested in the poll means the eventual nominee “should have more room to grow” support, the firm said.

In the poll, PPP noted, an average of 14% of Democrats are undecided, compared to just 4% of Republicans.

An abortion question generated the poll’s clearest result: 47% said they opposed “the abortion law passed by the legislature” in 2013, while 20% said they supported it, with the rest undecided. The law, pushed by GOP lawmakers and signed by Walker, requires women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds, and seeks to require doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.

The poll asked if protesters at the Solidarity Sing Alongs in the Capitol rotunda should have to get a permit. Respondents were split: 45% said no, 41% said yes. A judge recently ruled that groups of more than 20 protesters need a permit, but that smaller groups do not.

Of the poll’s 1,180 voters, 32% self-identified as Democrats, 28% as Republicans and 41% as independents or something else.

The poll drew this response from the state Democratic Party: ”History bears out that sitting below 50 percent traditionally spells bad news for incumbents. Outside special interests wouldn’t be spending half-a-million dollars with no announced challenger 14 months out from the election if they didn’t know Scott Walker was in trouble. But even with the support of that dishonest ad campaign, Scott Walker is crumbling under the weight of his own failure and is incredibly vulnerable.”

Walker’s campaign had this to say: “Governor Walker’s focus is on helping Wisconsin move forward. He has balanced a $3.6 billion deficit, cut income taxes, and Wisconsin has seen its best two year job growth in a decade under any governor.  We’re confident that voters want to continue moving forward, and have no desire to return to the failed policies of the past.”

To build or not to build

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Failure conceptWhen it comes to a new off reservation casino in Kenosha, the final decision rests with Governor Scott Walker, and despite what the Menomonee Tribe tells us, it’s hardly “a no-brainer.”

Nobody knows that better than the Menomonee Tribe.

The tribe is flat out threatening Governor Walker’s political demise if he fails to meet their demands.  Unfortunately they’ve found unlikely allies among some conservatives who believe any tribe should be able to build a casino whenever or wherever they want.

These same people who applaud Governor Walker for standing by his principles and keeping his campaign promises are asking him to abandon both in order to approve a casino.  Some have even gone so far as to accuse the Governor of being bought off by a competing tribe.

The truth is that Governor Walker has held the same position on a Kenosha casino since 2006.

“As a candidate for governor, my view is fairly simple — I’m not a big fan of gambling anywhere,” said then-County Executive Walker as a 2006 candidate for Governor in a March 24th, 2006 Kenosha News Article.  Continuing, he added he would take his cues from a 1993 statewide referendum in which voters indicated they would not like to see a net increase in the number of games available in Wisconsin. 

In a meeting with tribal leaders in 2011, the Governor established a set of criteria for approving a new casino, including requiring no net increase in gaming.

Whether or not you agree with the Governor’s position on gaming or his criteria for approving a casino, he simply can’t abandon them at the first sign of political heat.  That’s not who Scott Walker is. If you don’t believe us, ask the public employee unions who spent over a year and tens of millions of dollars trying to recall him.

For over a decade, the Menomonee Tribe has been pairing up with disreputable developers who literally tried to bribe their way to approval under Governor Jim Doyle.

For years, Governor Jim Doyle failed to provide any clear policy or ground rules for making a final decision on whether or not to approve a new casino in Wisconsin.  Even as local officials and casino developers were charged with bribery and corruption, and charges of illegal campaign contributions and money laundering plagued Doyle’s own campaign, he refused to indicate any guidelines he might use in determining whether or not to expand gaming in Wisconsin.

For years, Wisconsin tribes engaged in a bidding war for Governor Doyle’s allegiance.

Governor Walker recognizes the consequences that result from having no policy, not only as a breeding ground for corruption but for starting wars among competing tribes now and in the future.

Sticking to his principles and keeping his promises are among the many qualities that distinguish Scott Walker from Jim Doyle.  Nobody should expect Governor Walker to abandon those principles and break those promises just because they disagree with him.

“The Weak Horse”

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Remember September 11, New York CityWe fervently hope civilized people worldwide get past this loathsome anniversary without innocent lives being destroyed.

There is reason to be on edge this September 11 because of the high probability that the world’s terrorists feel emboldened by the vacillating, equivocating, self-centered, embarrassingly politicized “leadership” in the United States.

No one here is arguing for this country to embroil itself in Syria’s civil war. We would, however, argue that it bespeaks a singularly feckless leadership to suggest that specific behavior warrants a U.S. military response and then scurry off looking for others to blame for inaction when that specific behavior occurs.

The late Osama bin Laden used the analogy of “the weak horse” to illustrate how previous U.S. leadership encouraged Islamofascists to attack more boldly, confident that the superpower lacked the moral confidence to defend itself or to do them decisive harm.

In her face-saving tirade against Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, our ex-Secretary of State did nothing to dispel the “weak horse” notion by asking “what difference, at this point, does it make” whether a U.S. ambassador was murdered by organized jihadis or ordinary street hoodlums.

It boggles the mind to recall it was her husband, who against all odds looks better by comparison with the current president, toward whom the “weak horse” analogy was aimed.

Since last September 11 the current president has done nothing but make things worse by issuing ill-considered threats that prove hollow. Foreign policy by empty bluster does not ward off danger, but heightens it. May we all survive today, and see this nation led someday by people strong enough to know when to stop talking.

Civic Ignorance is No Conspiracy

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The United States Constitution on a wooden deskRetired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was reported in last Friday’s Idaho Statesman to be worried about “civic ignorance,” and rightly so.

O’Connor cited research finding that two-thirds of Americans can’t name one sitting justice of the United States Supreme Court—the nine people who increasingly hold unchallenged sway over how we live our lives.

One in three Americans, she said, can name the three branches of government, and fewer than one in five eighth-graders can identify the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.

This is not new. Several years ago a specially assembled group of high school juniors and seniors, the cream of the crop, was told that the core purpose of the U.S. Constitution is not to say what individual citizens have a right to do, but rather to say what their government is forbidden to do.  An audible intake of breath indicated that some found this a radical challenge to cherished beliefs.

“That ignorance starts in the earliest years of a child’s schooling,” O’Connor said.

Actually ignorance starts at birth.  The problem is that no matter how much schooling people get, it often fails to remedy their ignorance.

Nevertheless we reject conspiracy theories about dumbing-down the populace to facilitate authoritarian government for the same reason we reject conspiracy theories generally: No conspiracy is necessary to yield the results we see over and over again. A simple surrender to human nature will suffice.   To teach something, you must know something, and this involves work.  Given the option to be lazy and face no important consequences, what would most of us do? This is a form of teaching in itself.

Give it five decades and widespread ignorance is guaranteed.

Selective Reporting

Posted in Jobs and the Economy on by .

job..Where reporting of employment statistics is concerned, two principles are pretty well established among Wisconsin’s mainstream media: First, Governor Walker must be punished severely for announcing his intention to see a quarter-million new jobs created during his first term in office.  Second, the waning rate of job creation nationwide must always be treated as a surprise no matter how long it persists, and the President’s name shall not be connected with it in any way.

Not that you need convincing, but the Appleton Post-Crescent, regarded by some as Wisconsin’s stupidest daily newspaper, provided a nice illustration in two installments over the past week.  First came an editorial disparaging Wisconsin’s addition of roughly 84,000 new jobs in the midst of a national “recovery,” even though it’s being experienced by many as a continuing recession, and insisting that Walker be held accountable.

Then, five days later, a recycled USA Today story about the “disappointing” federal report showing only 169,000 new jobs nationwide in August.

That dismal number was, in fact, an improvement on the 148,000 three-month average. Even so, the national unemployment rate fell from 7.4 percent to 7.3 solely because 312,000 Americans gave up on searching for employment.  Almost twice as many as those who found a job quit looking for one.

The same day, the Post-Crescent served up an Associated Press story reporting the dismal national employment picture and possibly spinning it toward the bright side by referring to it as a “lukewarm job market.”

Curiously, nowhere in either story could we find any reference to the name of the elected official overseeing this pathetic performance.

Oh, and so far there’s been no editorial about holding anyone accountable. The template is firmly in place.