Monthly Archives: April 2014

Pass the popcorn, extra salt

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audienceMary Burke, the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate to take on Governor Walker this fall, has something she wasn’t supposed to have:  primary competition.

If this is something cooked up by party insiders to let Burke handily defeat an opponent and create the illusion of momentum going into November’s general election, it’s an example of being too clever by half.  But we don’t think that’s what it is.

What we think it is, is a flaky environmentalist breaking the leash and going off to promote loopy Green causes under what he expects will be a statewide spotlight. But if Brett Hulsey succeeds in pushing Burke even farther to the left to keep the enviro-base corralled, the result could be to make her candidacy radioactive for the November showdown.

Sadly, that doesn’t look like a strong prospect.  In what might well be a fire brigade operation, the lefty League of Conservation Voters turned up almost simultaneously with Hulsey’s announcement to give its endorsement to Burke.

The “mainstream” media remains a bit of a question mark.  On one hand, there’s been no hesitation by PolitiFact to bust Burke for telling whoppers on multiple occasions. On the other hand, there are the previously published stories about people reporting unease over Hulsey’s odd antics at Madison beaches and off-putting Capitol office behavior making a staffer uncomfortable.

But hope springs eternal, and Burke hasn’t thus far exhibited the kind of savvy that would reliably prevent her engaging and looking as divorced from reality as her new antagonist.

So keep some corn handy for popping. The second act could turn this campaign into a good show.

Happy (belated) Earth Day!

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happysadpostYesterday was the holiest feast day of the year for observant environmentalists, whose faith must be sorely tested by attempts to resolve the contradiction that in their world, good news is bad news.

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a less dire “global warming” forecast than previous reports, acknowledging a lesser degree of human influence and dropping specific projections of higher temperatures. Failing to make headway, the environmentalists turn to their tactic of choice: yell louder.

Over the decades, one can’t help noticing that the crises come and go but the remedy is always the same. A new ice age bears down? Government must increase taxes and regulation and tighten controls on energy use!  The planet will overheat dangerously a century from now?  Increase taxes and regulation and tighten controls on energy use!

The Gallup organization, which appears to want to believe in human-induced climate disaster and the prescribed statist solutions, laments the sharp partisan divide between most Republicans rejecting the catastrophe scenario and most Democrats rushing to embrace it.

Gallup and others might consider that rather than respect versus disrespect for “science,” the partisan chasm may reflect the fact that that both groups know how they think human affairs ought to be managed and fully understand the implications of trying to manage them as if governments were capable of regulating Earth’s climate.

Recalling History

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bucksGet ready for one of those “Oh, yeah” moments, when you realize you’ve seen something before.

The modern history of Wisconsin recall elections didn’t start with the 2011 and 2012 confrontations of government unions against legislative Republicans and the Walker administration. It started with legislative Republicans doing something lots of private-sector unions wanted them to do, whereupon the unions’ wholly–owned subsidiary, the Democratic Party, cashed in: Republicans gave the Democrats’ core constituency what it wanted and Democrats pummeled Republicans for giving it to them.

Does the name George Petak sound familiar?

Petak was the first Wisconsin legislator ever recalled from office, following his deciding vote in 1995 to create the special taxing district to raise revenue for Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Ordinarily, Democrats love to create special taxing districts. In this case, running the guy who gave them one out of office also gave them control of the State Senate.  The new majority laughed all the way to the bank—er, stadium.

It’s timely to remember this because Democrats aren’t alone in cheerleading for the “millionaires and billionaires” who anticipate making additional millions from a new Milwaukee basketball arena, provided they can once again snooker the GOP into authorizing another taxing scheme redistributing middle-class income to millionaires and billionaires who in this case aren’t evil because they’re Obama campaign contributors.

Unlike the Left, we have no generic objection to people getting rich. But since we think middle class workers should stand on their own two feet, it would be unseemly to expect less of people with resources so vast they might turn a billion into two billion overnight.

Here’s to success for the Milwaukee Bucks and their new owners—not in the taxpayers’ new arena but in their own.

The RICO Administration

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IRSDon’t bet on it happening in a nation that increasingly shrinks from taking its own laws seriously, but we can’t help asking if a respectable argument might be made that key Obama administration officials and some congressional Democrats would be fit subjects for scrutiny under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.

Amid mounting evidence last week that the Internal Revenue Service continues its role as a political secret police force, the House Ways and means Committee voted on party lines to recommend that the Justice Department criminally prosecute ex-IRS bureaucrat Lois Lerner.

Good luck making it happen, given Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement long ago that no prosecutions would arise from the IRS abuses, but that and abundant other examples of his behavior prompt our question in the first paragraph.

Of opposition to his and the administration’s frequently lawless policies, Holder last week asked a friendly audience, “What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

Well, boo, hoo, hoo. We feel confident saying any Republican attorney general who conducted himself the way Mr. Holder has would already be in prison and would have long since been forsaken by his party.

Holder’s timing may involve the growing difficulty of concealing IRS enthusiasm activities that ought to land somebody in a federal pen.

A virtue of the U.S. political system compared with third-world kleptocracies and second-world dictatorships is that upon relinquishing power this country’s leaders—even unpopular ones—haven’t feared arrest and prosecution over policy choices.

Is the race card self-trumping?

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Not my lucky dayYou’ve seen it played in the Wisconsin Legislature; by Democrats in congressional leadership; by the U.S. Attorney General floating smarmy hints to energize his party’s demoralized voters.

There’s no question that group slander labeling Republicans as racists is a preferred weapon of the Left for this fall’s elections and frankly, whenever anyone disagrees with their policies.

There is, however, a big question whether playing the race card will work.

Political writer Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post asked that question Monday, pointedly wondering if the Democrats’ obvious strategy might backfire.

This cynical exercise is intended deliberately to aggravate racial animosity in hopes of increasing minority turnout, which declines in midterm elections.  Sullivan quotes Barack Obama describing the Democrats’ base, saying “They get excited about general elections; they don’t get as excited about midterm elections.”

What this describes—never mind age, race or gender—is a voter who rather than examine issues and choose advocates to advance them, hopes to pick a single champion, naively assuming that person will then proceed to make everyone else behave as the voter wants.  Remember “Hope and Change,” carefully left undefined?

We see two factors that could unravel the strategy:  Young voters might accept libel against Republicans but too many have grown up associating freely with people of different ethnicity to readily believe racism is as pervasive as Democrats claim.

And who does the strategy motivate most effectively? Most Conservatives are anxious to head for the polling place. Being lied about in this odious way could electrify any Republican who wasn’t already eager to fight back at the ballot box, and spark a mind-boggling GOP turnout in November.

That would be a worthy rebuke to a contemptible and dangerous grab for power by any means.

“Shut up,” they explained.

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vector flag bubble speech. Eps10If Internal Revenue Service intimidation of conservative advocacy groups isn’t enough to make you wonder how secure your First Amendment right to political speech really is, a recent performance by the U.S. Supreme Court may do the trick.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission found aggregate limits on individual campaign contributions unconstitutional—but by only a 5-4 margin. The next one could go 5-4 the other way.  We are past the time, if there ever was one, when it could be assumed the courts would protect fundamental freedoms.

Also notice that the most heated objections to any affirmation of the right to political speech come not from people who could argue they’ve been shut out of the game, but from people who enjoy their own political speech in abundance and dislike the idea of others horning in.

Organized to amend the Constitution to restrict political expression, not enhance it, Move to Amend argues disingenuously that political spending can’t be equated with speech. It was founded in part by Madison leftist Ben Manski, who’s exercised more political speech than roughly 99 percent of Americans and will presumably be unsatisfied until he personally exercises 100 percent of the nation’s political speech.

Yes, McCutcheon is a victory for free speech but it’s another baby step toward the dismantling of laws designed mainly to immunize congressional incumbents against criticism by ordinary mortals.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas had it right: “This case represents yet another missed opportunity to right the course of our campaign finance jurisprudence by restoring a standard that is faithful to the First Amend­ment. Until we undertake that reexamination, we remain in a ‘halfway house’ of our own design. “

Wage Wars

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scale.1We used to joke about leftist “coalitions” more often than not consisting of one guy in an apartment above a pornography store, with a copy machine and ten different letterheads.  What’s changed over the past couple of decades is mainly the address—nowadays a high-end office suite—and access to high-speed internet.

So when we saw an outfit called Americans United for Change attacking two Wisconsin Congressmen for opposing a minimum wage increase, we looked at the area code and figured, here we go again.

Lo and behold, it turns out Americans United for Change—which most mainstream media reporters probably figure is a high-minded, independent, good-government group offended by those penny-pinching Republican Congressmen—is really a union-backed operation closely tied to the Obama campaigns.

The interest of Obama organizers in making trouble for GOP House members is obvious enough.  And the unions like minimum wage increases not because any of their members earn minimum wage, but because it establishes a base above which their actual wages are set: The minimum wage goes higher, their wages go higher.

Not to mention a higher minimum wage reduces competition for jobs by pricing lesser-experienced workers out of the labor market, allowing unions to corner more job opportunities without interference.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has that story, showing how a non-market-driven wage is really anti-worker.

And meanwhile, the one who expects to benefit by instigating this wage war is found exploiting his own employees—just the women, of course.

Here’s a fundamental truth everyone needs to remember, especially the supposed beneficiaries of this phony campaign: The real minimum wage is zero. It’s what you get paid if you don’t have a job because Liberals and unions have priced your services beyond their value to an employer.

Countdown in the Courts

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votecountsFunny how the political Left defines success as sowing panic over things that may or may not be problematic—like human activity possibly raising temperature averages two degrees in a hundred years—while getting you to ignore serious threats occurring right now.

Such as voter fraud, the crime Democrats say never happens and which, coincidentally, always seems to benefit Democrats.

As we noted here last week, Wisconsin continues its incremental progress toward ensuring the integrity of our elections but there are more battles to be fought. Here are some things you should know next time someone claims voter fraud is a myth:

Here in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is an impassioned advocate of the nothing-to-see-here school of thought, while its own archives reveal numerous people criminally sentenced for systematic vote-fraud operations from 2008 onward.

The good news is, events are breaking in favor of ballot security. You’d think it unnecessary, but a federal judge ruled last month that despite the Obama administration’s objections, it’s okay for states to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

As usual, the people are way ahead of their government. Rasmussen Reports found that what took a federal court decision to affirm as valid law, eight in ten Americans already regarded as the way things should be.

Elections that could be the most consequential in at least half a century are seven months away and thanks to fanciful litigation, Wisconsin still has no enforceable requirement that voters show evidence that they are who they say they are.

The District II Court of Appeals, Wisconsin Supreme Court, and a Milwaukee federal court can come down on the side of ballot integrity or drag their feet, telling honest citizens they’re on their own.  The clock’s running.

At last: Credit where it’s due

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moneypuzzleWe can’t claim credit for the analogy but truly, the mainstream media acknowledge creditable actions by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker “about as often as the Titanic sails,” so this week credit is due both the Governor and the Racine Journal-Times.

Effectively dismissing the self-serving complaints of every left-wing pressure group and elected Democrat in the state, the Times straightforwardly credited Walker for making the right decision in declining to accept Obamacare money to expand Medicaid.

What Walker really declined to do—and it wasn’t lost on the Journal-Times—was put Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook for limitless future costs in exchange for money the federal government doesn’t really have, the promise of which could be withdrawn at any time.

How big a problem would that have been?  Check the MacIver Institute’s analysis of the current state of Wisconsin’s Medicaid program.  It’s improving, which is a pleasant way of saying it’s not as badly over budget as it used to be. In short, it’s not a program you want to expand unless your goal is to enlarge government at any cost.

Do not permit yourself to doubt that certain people have that goal.  Expanding government is the only way Democrats who hold a little power in Wisconsin or a lot of power nationally can keep it.  Especially relevant in this case is Peggy Noonan’s insight in the weekend Wall Street Journal.

In Obamacare’s “like your doctor/keep your doctor” rhetoric, Noonan perceives not empty political blather but methodical, knowing deception: “The White House…seems to have understood what the bill would do, and lied in a way so specific it showed they knew exactly what to spin and how.”

The Journal-Times editorial describes a governor with the good sense to demur when that sort of person comes bearing gifts.

Cowed by the Bully

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supersadCitizens of Ukraine have more to worry about than Vladimir Putin’s evident intention to reconstitute the Soviet Empire.

In addition to who runs the Kremlin, Ukrainians must be equally concerned about who lives in the White House. Were any one of its 43 previous occupants—possibly even including Jimmy Carter—residing there today, Mr. Putin would at least need to consider whether the cost of invading a neighboring country would be worth the reward.

But when today’s White House dweller warns that there will be “costs” associated with taking a neighbor’s territory, it’s impossible to avoid the impression that he’s merely reminding Putin that the troops will expect to be paid, and that tanks burn a lot of expensive diesel fuel.

Put it this way: How would you feel if you were a Ukrainian wondering what comes next, knowing the world’s only superpower is “led” by someone whose idea of a situation demanding his attention is cattle passing gas?

With analogies to 1914 and 1938 flying thick and fast, and an aggressor using armed force to seize parts of other countries, a U.S. chief executive who could probably bring down the expansionist dictatorship with some serious banking sanctions and no deployment of troops is focused, laser-like, on bovine flatulence.

And as they used to say in the old Soviet Union, “It’s no coincidence, comrade.”

That’s right. The green fantasists whose bidding is done increasingly by the U.S. government are, as usual,  on the march against your appetite for meat and dairy products, under the guise of saving the planet from a change in average temperatures over 100 years that you wouldn’t notice if it took place over 100 minutes.

Anybody still wondering if there are “costs” to the world’s aggressors not taking us seriously?