Monthly Archives: January 2015

Liberals for Monarchy

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, believed to be about 90, passed away last Thursday. Those in the media who are responsible for tracking such things inform us that this leaves Queen Elizabeth II as the eldest reigning monarch.

She beats out Shirley Abrahamson, but not by much.

crownLast week the Wisconsin Legislature put the question to voters in the April 7 election: Should the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court be elected every two years by the other justices?

The current criteria for becoming chief justice include the following:

  1. Be there longer than anybody else.

Shirley Abrahamson met that standard in August 1996, 20 years after being appointed to the court by Governor Patrick Lucey, seven governors and 39 years ago.  She has since presided in a manner characterized by some insiders as “my way or the highway” and led the aggressively leftist bloc that in the last decade asserted such enlightened legal principles as the right to recover damages from a manufacturer whose product cannot be shown to have harmed the plaintiff.

This is the court that Abrahamson’s sidekick, Justice Anne Walsh Bradley, protests will become more political if the chief justice is elected.

Interestingly, the farther left you look, the stronger the objection to electing the chief justice. The reliably hysterical One Wisconsin Now got so worked up it forgot to mention the Koch brothers in its press release.

Oddly, Justice Abrahamson claims that majority rule flies in the face of Democracy. If the ballot measure fails, Queen Shirley will continue to rule until at least 2019.

Dems to Wisconsin: “Freeze in the Dark.”

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thumbs downGovernor Walker’s budget proposal to require drug testing of applicants in several public assistance programs has been receiving coverage that’s actually amusing for its tone of disapproval that the media can’t quite bring themselves to express directly.

Our favorite example comes from the Northlands News Center, a collection of broadcasters in the Duluth-Superior area.

The reporter mostly plays it straight but blows his cover in the final sentence, presented as a stand-alone paragraph:  “Governor Walker is eyeing a 2016 presidential run.”

As in, “Oh, so that’s it! He’s just pulling this mean trick because he thinks it will be so politically popular it might win him a national election and…um…oh…never mind.”

We actually didn’t think we would find a legislative Democrat dense enough to go on record opposing the idea, but an Associated Press story quoted Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) saying the effort to keep welfare recipients off drugs would “further hurt people striving to get to the middle class.”

That’s a peculiar kind of striving, given that prospective employers frequently require drug testing prior to taking on a new worker, and being employable is pretty basic to one’s prospects of joining the middle class.  Is it really the Assembly Minority Leader’s belief that the only kind of compensation that can’t be conditioned on avoiding illegal drug use is the kind that’s unrelated to work and financed by taxpayers?

Perhaps Rep. Barca will get in touch with Sen. Shilling and see about adding a new, inalienable right to public assistance to—in effect—subsidize drug habits as an item in the New Progressive Agenda detailed above.  The idea seems to be of roughly the same vintage as the others.

The New Progressive Agenda

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media-repeatWith Americans’ continuing rejection of plans to turn the United States radically leftward, Democrats in Congress have watched their numbers plummet to the lowest in nearly a century, and the same trend has reversed Democrats’ past domination of individual state governments: 31 of the 50 have Republican governors and the GOP controls 68 of the 98 state legislative chambers filled by partisan elections.

Thanks in large part to the Obama brand of leftism, in states where one party controls the governor’s office and both legislative houses, Republicans now lead 23-7.

Recognizing this, Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature moved last week to replace old, stale Liberal nostrums with a new agenda, supplanting the drab, redistributionist formulas of the past with calls for a minimum wage increase, accepting Obamacare money to attract more people into the Medicaid program, and higher spending for public schools.

Oh. Wait…

Yeah, it’s the same, tired, flyblown junk as usual. Frustrated in three consecutive elections, Senate Democrats replaced ex-minority leader Chris Larson with someone less attached to the practice of politics by guerrilla street theater, but La Crosse Senator Jennifer Shilling still needs an agenda beyond the politics of envy.

Snarking about the governor’s potential bid for the presidency won’t suffice: nobody on the Democrats’ legislative roster looks much like a prospect for the governor’s office, much less President of the United States.

It might occur to Sen. Shilling to consider that Governor Walker would have no opportunity to be “distracted” by interest in a presidential candidacy except that he’s been articulating ideas and enacting policies that resonate with millions of voters from coast to coast.  Democrats should try it some time.

Managing Priorities

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big_blank_blackboardWe never got around to commenting last week on President Obama’s State of the Union message, and because we rarely hesitate to offer political advice to Republicans, that’s an oversight in need of correction.  And so, herewith, our list of all the State-of-the-Union initiatives the GOP should take time away from its own ideas to answer:

…guess that covers it.

Confidence and its Opposite

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thumbs downWe didn’t want to write about the Charlie Hebdo massacre or the ensuing mass rallies, and not just because everybody we know has done so. But given the bizarre U.S. response and some counter intuitive ideas of our own, here we go.

First, the counter intuition: Call us cynical, but we don’t see any slogan putting three million people in the streets absent an extraordinarily widespread misunderstanding of what’s going on.

Factor in that the slogan here (“Je suis Charlie”) is a defense of 21st century Western values and that someone might get hurt over it, and we’re even more convinced that the crowds rallying in Paris were less than unanimous concerning what it was all about.

Some may have turned out to assert one of the most widely-held of all contemporary Western values; that is, to claim their entitlement to victim-hood and tap into the finite supply of pity being lavished upon the murdered cartoonists and hostages.

As for the Obama no-show, its irrelevance can’t be overstated, but neither can the relevance of our Secretary of State belatedly showing up with James Taylor to make everything better by singing “You’ve Got a Friend” to President Hollande and the assembled French persons.

It’s as if the administration’s best minds pondered how great leaders have succored besieged allies and remembered that FDR sent the Glenn Miller Band to England but forgot he also sent the rest of the Air Force.

Climate Control

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shake_downWe’ve probably said a hundred times that if you control people’s use of energy—through motor fuel taxes, vehicle mileage mandates, energy efficiency standards for light bulbs and building design, regulations rigged to artificially inflate the cost of using fossil fuels—you gain significant control over every aspect of their lives.

It was therefore refreshing to hear Governor Walker in last week’s state-of-the-state message saying he and Attorney General Schimel are preparing a legal challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations aimed at shutting down fossil-fueled power plants and discouraging the construction of more efficient new ones.

Many states have already challenged the EPA’s authority to issue these regulations; numerous lawsuits are pending. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has stood aside. The state’s last involvement in the issue was to withdraw four years ago from a suit left over from the Jim Doyle-Peg Lautenschlager era alleging that power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions are a public nuisance and seeking unspecified monetary damages.  (See under: “shake down.”)

The newly assertive stance is as timely as it is welcome.  Last week the Obama administration announced a fresh regulatory assault on energy use through an EPA plan to demand a 45 percent cut in methane emissions from natural gas production.

Make no mistake, this is the EPA’s long-anticipated attack on the hydraulic fracturing industry that’s making the U.S. the world’s natural gas leader and deflating the pump price of gasoline. The administration hates those things, even as it tries to claim political credit for them.

The real agenda has always been to use the trumped-up climate pretext to destroy the otherwise unbeatable economic advantages of fossil energy—in order to appease the administration’s environmentalist constituency and enrich its green-energy billionaire donors.

Okay, fine. Now we’ll see them in court.

Say Yes to Freedom

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hesitateWisconsin residents strongly support the right to join a labor union.

So do we,— along with the equal and opposite right to refuse to join one. So do most Wisconsin residents, according to a recent survey by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI).

So?

Well, the principle that employees should have the freedom to join or not join a union clearly has majority support statewide; no one prevented from joining, no one forced to join. That principle would be codified in the Wisconsin Statutes if right-to-work legislation is enacted, ending the legal reality in many workplaces where people are forced to either join a union or fore go the job.

So it’s dismaying to see Wisconsin’s top elected Republicans playing a sort of prevent defense against union retaliation by hesitating to give the people of this state what a solid majority of them say they should have: the freedom to decide whether union membership is good for them individually.

Ironically, in most public-sector jobs, where unionization is far stronger than in the private sector, that freedom has existed since the 2011 Act 10 reforms. The heaviest lifting has already been done.

Now, more than 58 percent approve of Wisconsin labor unions, but nearly two-thirds say no one should be forced to join.

Conservatives who try to tiptoe away from right-to-work subject themselves needlessly to considerable risk for little or no reward. The segment of the electorate who would oppose them over a right-to-work law can’t possibly detest them any more than it already does. The somewhat larger segment that supports them—if election results over the past four years have any meaning—could start to question the Conservative commitment to individual liberty and a growth agenda.

 

Nothing will be successfully defended by begging those questions.