Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Continual Question

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Typewriter Got EthicsLest too much be read into its asking, let’s stipulate that nothing extraordinary be inferred from the question of when government becomes the enemy of the people.  An appropriate question for today, it would be no less appropriate were the president Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa the former secretary of state.

A short answer is that government becomes the enemy of the people when government chooses to regard substantial numbers of the people as its enemy.

For these purposes, define “enemy” as an individual or group selected for adverse attention from harassment or defamation at a minimum to—at a maximum, one hopes, imprisonment—for appearing to interfere with a comparatively benign government or for simply displeasing a malicious one.

What relevant things have we recently learned?  A single day last week revealed the following:

Dinesh D’Souza, formerly of National Review and co-producer of a documentary examining the current president’s life and career, was arrested for alleged campaign finance violations in a U.S.  Senate contest. We have never heard of anyone arrested—handcuffed—for campaign finance civil violations.

Another conservative activist, known for uncovering malfeasance by Liberal organizations, claimed he and his associates have been under legal harassment by the Democrats who run New York State.

Copping a snide attitude, even the New York Times felt compelled to report that Conservatives in Hollywood are now targeted by an ever more aggressively hostile Internal Revenue Service.

People who have lived all their lives in this country are appropriately reluctant to believe the justice system and administrative bureaucracies would tolerate being used as political police. So one more question: At what point does that reluctance cease to identify one as a responsible citizen and mark him as easy prey?

Just asking…

Democrats: Good News = Bad News

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happysadpostAn unearned courtesy extended to Liberals for the struggle they have wrought upon society is that, after all, their intentions are good.  A better gauge of what the Left aspires to on behalf of all the rest of us may be the reaction of Democrats on hearing self-evidently good news delivered by someone they dislike.

With the billion-dollar state budget surplus and plans for new tax cuts already known, that wasn’t blockbuster news in last week’s state of the state address to the Legislature—making the reaction of legislative Democrats the event’s most instructive feature. It wasn’t pretty.

Nobody expects the minority party to be enthusiastic about the cheering sessions state of the union and state of the state messages have been since at least the early 1980s. On the other hand, nobody should have to expect the undisguised revulsion with which Wisconsin Democrats received the information about Wisconsin taxpayers and working families being better off than a year ago.

Chattering among themselves, affecting distraction, and obviously posing for the TV cameras as they busied themselves with other things, Democrats resembled nothing so much as a collection of belligerent seventh-graders resolutely ignoring a message they need to hear.

Meanwhile, their anointed candidate for Governor, who clearly has no ideas she can safely acknowledge, labeled Governor Walker’s idea of returning most of the surplus to taxpayers as “irresponsible”.

The happiest face to put on this might be that Democrats aren’t necessarily angered by good things happening for the people of Wisconsin, but they hate good things happening when others are in charge.  As long as they cling to statist ideas that impede the pursuit of happiness, that’s what they’re stuck with.

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

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mobsterThe U.S. Supreme Court heard last week and is expected to decide  this spring a case with immense implications for compulsory unionism and working people’s right to decline participation in political speech with which they disagree.

The case will test the Court’s usefulness in defending individual liberty against fundamentally corrupt relationships between Liberal government and the unions that help sustain it.

We did say “corrupt,” right? Yes, the litigation in Harris v. Quinn originated in Illinois.

It seems then-Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Federal Pen) and incumbent Governor Pat Quinn (D-Pat Quinn) both issued executive orders in 2003 and 2009 making the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) the exclusive bargaining unit for home health care workers.  Illinois considers these workers state employees on the thin excuse that they’re compensated with Medicaid dollars, despite not working at state facilities, not being supervised by state officials, and being subject to firing by the private individuals who hire them.

Naturally, the SEIU used card-check to bypass pesky secret ballots and dragoon unwilling caregivers—some of whom simply care for family members—into paying compulsory dues.

In oral arguments last week, Justice Samuel Alito noted that after receiving a fat campaign contribution from the SEIU, Blagojevich promptly signed the order generating $3.6 million in mandatory dues for the union, including those paid by unwilling recruits.

The plaintiffs argue that besides violating their freedom of association, the union uses their money to advance policy choices they oppose, trampling their First Amendment rights.

Long ago, the practice of compelling people to support political positions with which they disagree was described as “evil” by a man today’s Democratic Party still claims as one of its heroes.

That was Thomas Jefferson, and now we know what the Democratic Party’s feigned reverence is worth.

Leading by Slander

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faultRacism today is regarded as an attitude so odious as to make the accusation of it one of the most damaging that can be leveled. Fittingly, when the accusation is leveled falsely, the damage accrues to the accuser.

Thus President Obama’s claim in a recent New Yorker interview that his low job approval reflects hostility against the idea of a Black president was both strange and inopportune.

Here’s a hot tip for Obama spin-doctors:  If you’re going to slander somebody, especially if you’re going to slander half the population of the United States, don’t do it with a lie readily demolished by a reasonably bright six year-old.  Anybody with Internet access can look up the Gallup polling data from 2009 and see how Obama enjoyed 66 percent approval during his first month in office and how it held up for a remarkably long time.

Are we supposed to believe it took people five years to figure out he was Black?

Long-term witnesses to comings and goings in American politics could see from the beginning of Obama’s rapid rise that his Blackness was—and remains—an asset, not a liability. In fact, he acknowledged as much to the New Yorker.  Undoubtedly, a great many White Liberals saw a vote for Barack Obama surpassing even indignation over global warming in its ability to confer plenary indulgences against whatever indiscretion, past, present or future, might otherwise mar the neighbors’ estimation of their character.

What was on display in the New Yorker wasn’t the supreme political genius many Americans had been conditioned to believe they elected.  What was on display was the unmistakable signature of a pampered dilettante’s desperation, at its lowest, cheapest, and most self-defeating.

Laffer was right

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512px-LafferCurve_svgThere should be no need to keep proving economist Arthur Laffer was right about increasing rates of taxation tending to produce proportionally less revenue while tax cuts can increase revenue collections.

It’s the long way of saying “People aren’t stupid.”

But Liberals have resolutely dismissed “The Laffer Curve” ever since he drew it to illustrate the principle for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, then of the Ford Administration, back in 1974.

So repeated demonstrations of its validity are needed, and a lovely one appeared last week, courtesy of Conservative governance in Wisconsin and Liberal governance within 90 seconds’ driving distance, in Minnesota.

Taking office with a leftover Democrat deficit exceeding $3 billion in 2011, the Walker administration and legislative Republicans have cut taxes four times since. Counterintuitive?  Maybe not: Thursday brought word that  the June 30, 2015 closing balance for the state’s two-year budget is projected to be $1.04 billion, $912 million more than previous estimates.

Within two, two-year budgets, Walker’s tax cuts and collective bargaining reforms have helped swing state finances roughly $4.5 billion to the good.

Minnesota Democrats controlling their legislature and governor’s office responded to a smaller deficit last session with $2 billion in tax increases. They now expect a surplus of $825 million but without yet knowing the impact of a likely damaging tax increase targeting high-income earners.

Meanwhile, a new warehousing tax is implicated in a major Minnesota cheese producer deciding to store its products across the river, and Amazon says it will build a second big distribution center in Wisconsin, not Minnesota.

Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, as spin-free as a government entity gets, said Thursday its early 2013 forecast projected slower economic growth primarily due to federal tax increases. Obviously there’s some wisdom in that slogan advising that we “act locally.”

Nuttier than Madison

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Singing the bluesA city apparently even more committed than Madison to militant, environmentalist Liberalism has elbowed its way into the spotlight, and it’s not on either coast.
Boulder, Colorado, is a cautionary example for the mind-your-own-business variety of citizen who may need to spend more time looking over his shoulder for Leftist hijackings of everyday life.

The sort of university Liberals who presume they can legislate their own reality dominate Boulder politics have beavered away for years toward a government takeover of the private-sector energy company that serves their community, claiming it doesn’t provide enough “renewable” energy and hence insufficiently supports Boulder’s heroic struggle against global warming.
Ironically, Xcel Energy furnishes the most wind-generated electricity of any U.S. utility, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that Xcel executives thought making that choice at their customers’ expense would buy them the greenies’ good will.

A fat lot of good it’s done them in Boulder.  The city is on the brink of seizing Xcel’s assets—including some outside the city’s jurisdiction—to set up its own utility and sell soft, fluffy, pine-scented green electricity it evidently plans to buy from others—maybe Xcel?

Not content with taking over private property, the Boulderoids last fall campaigned successfully to deny citizens a direct vote on limiting the debt their new plaything could incur.
For the rest of us, the relevance is twofold: No matter how hard it tries, no business or industry can ever pander enough to keep the environmental movement from sticking a knife in its back whenever it’s ready.  And however far-removed you think you are from the East- and West-Coast nerve centers of Leftism, if you aren’t careful you can be had.

As its name suggests, Colorado used to be a red state.

A Second Chance

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NewlifeSome of us remember when the Wisconsin Education Association Council—WEAC—was the 800-pound gorilla of Wisconsin politics.

No, wait. That doesn’t quite capture it. Some of us remember when there was no gorilla except WEAC in Wisconsin politics. In terms of deploying personnel and financial resources to assist campaigns or advance issue advocacy, it wasn’t until the latter 1980s that other organizations—“other” meaning Conservative-leaning or Republican organizations—began to attempt matching WEAC’s muscle and seriously compete.  And it took some time after that for the competition to have a consequential effect.

For veterans of the long, post-Watergate, twilight struggle when Republicans had no credible hope of winning majorities in the Wisconsin Legislature, a story that appeared last week is nothing short of astounding.

The former 800-pound gorilla and the smaller American Federation of Teachers – Wisconsin say they might undertake a merger in what can only be considered a bid for survival.

Collective bargaining reforms—thank you, Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans—have given teachers an actual choice as to whether they want to join a union and the result is the disappearance of approximately one-third of WEAC’s membership roster and closer to half the AFT membership.

We seldom hesitate to criticize teachers for knee-jerk Liberal tendencies, so let’s give credit where it’s due: Very large numbers of former WEAC and AFT members have demonstrated that they do believe in freedom.

Of additional interest is the emergence of a new organization, the non-union Association of American Educators. Said to be gaining members in Wisconsin, this small group emphasizes professional development, insurance and legal services.

Once upon a time it was thought Wisconsin teacher unions might focus on professionalism instead of adopting the United Auto Workers model that spawned WEAC.

Who says there are no second chances?

In league with the League

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elections 2014 postThe Wisconsin League of Women Voters is distressed by legislation that seeks to resolve disputes over the constitutionality of newly-passed laws in days or weeks, not years, a possibility the League finds threatening.

Riddled with nonsense—that Assembly Bill 161 would give a legislative majority “unchecked authority” to adopt “unconstitutional laws without consequences,” the League’s press release last week got one thing right by saying what offends supporters of AB 161: namely, that “one judge elected by voters in one county is able to block implementation of a statute that was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.”

What gross violation of constitutional order would AB 161 perpetrate in redressing this grievance? It would specify that a judicial order blocking implementation of a state statute is subject to immediate appeal, the emphasis on “immediate.”

It declines to prescribe who will win. It aims simply to prevent the appeal being strung along until most of us forget what it was all about.

Alas, this discomfits the League and legislative Democrats, reliant as they are on the use of Dane County judges to thwart laws broadly supported, such as collective bargaining reforms.  Need we add that League executive director Andrea Kaminski, who issued last Monday’s press release, appears to be a Walker recall petitioner?

It’s hard to say who is doing whose bidding, but it can’t escape notice that every legislative vote on AB 161 has divided on party lines and the League—which itself has used the Dane County judiciary to delay enforcement of Wisconsin’s Voter Identification law—takes a position indistinguishable from that of legislative Democrats struggling to wag the dog.

Maybe they’ll find a Dane County judge to enjoin AB 161.

Save the economy; quit your job

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Young Man Fired from JobWhat’s a fiscally responsible political party to do? Last week half a dozen Senate Republicans gave Harry Reid the votes he needed to extend unemployment benefits, dumping the issue in the laps of the House GOP majority.  We can only hope the results of last Monday’s Rasmussen polling indicate a large majority of voters understand the dismal employment situation better than some Senate Republicans understand Harry Reid.

One thing that’s understood by increasing numbers of voters is that the official unemployment rate is largely bunk, reflecting only those people who are actually looking for work and ignoring millions who have given up, demoralized by the sluggish Obama economy or grown comfortable with the Reid-Obama policy of paying them—evidently forever—to do nothing.

Thus the December unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent from seven, courtesy of a trifling 74,000 new jobs created while some 347,000 people quit the workforce entirely. By the perverse logic that drives these numbers, if everyone else would just join the 347,000 and quit their jobs or stop looking for one, unemployment could drop to zero.

More informative is the recent Gallup survey measuring the payroll-to-population rate and showing fewer than 43 percent of U.S. adults (not counting self-employed) working full-time for an employer last month.  Gallup has been tracking those numbers since January 2010, when they were nearly the same as now.

Another measure, the employment rate including part-timers and self-employed, was 58.6 percent. Whether the New York Times meant its “new normal” headline to suggest this is acceptable can be debated.

What isn’t debatable is that employment has flat-lined since the beginning of the Obama “recovery” and the administration’s actions—as opposed to its rhetoric—betray no sign of discomfort.

Ship of Fools

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boat winter frost iceLast Friday we asked a friend if he’d heard about the ship trapped by Antarctic sea ice and the difficulties in rescuing crew and passengers—one rescue vessel was similarly trapped; others retreated to avoid the same fate.

Finding he knew of the episode, we asked if he knew why the ship went in harm’s way. He didn’t realize the mission was to investigate changes supposedly brought on by global warming, thus joining most consumers of mainstream media reporting, where the global warming connection went carefully unmentioned.

Academic ninnies chose to ignore the greatest expanse of Antarctic sea ice in the history of reliable observations, jeopardizing themselves, their accompanying groupies, and those who risked their own safety to rescue them.