Monthly Archives: May 2015

Prevailing Outrage

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dollar_signFunny how defenders of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law behave in ways the opposite of what remarks from state legislative leaders would suggest.  If, as GOP leaders say, there’s no momentum to repeal prevailing wage, why would opponents of repeal spend money—and big chunks of their personal reputations —in mortifying dishonest advertising and now, robocalls, as if in the midst of a cliffhanger election?

Last week it was reported that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) advised attendees at the Republican state convention that “nobody” was talking about the prevailing wage issue.  We’d carve out a few exceptions including one for these columns, but a far more intriguing exception is the people who don’t want prevailing wage repealed; they’re talking their heads off.

Here’s what we think is going on: In past lives, the primary lobbyists opposing repeal held legislative leadership positions on the Republican side, in both houses.  We aren’t fond of what they’re doing now, but give them credit for being smart enough to know that if you’re winning on an issue that only becomes more controversial the more you talk about it, you shut up, take the win and go home.  You don’t do the opposite for no reason.

We think the reason for doing the opposite here is a Republican legislative majority straining at the leash to repeal prevailing wage. We think the leadership is trying to hold this back, to preserve alliances that with each passing day look to be costing more than they can deliver.

Weeks ago, we suggested any incumbent legislator who can’t run on prevailing wage repeal and steamroll an opponent must have been elected by sheer happenstance.  We think the GOP rank-and-file understands this and their leadership could perform a genuine public service by getting out of the way.

First Amendment, Last Chance

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firstamendmentWe don’t plan to waste space over the next 17 months commenting on the candidacy of Hillary Clinton: Aided by the Clinton political operation’s near four-decade history, those who can recognize a family of grifters have all the information they need. Those who can’t recognize it by now never will.

But last week Hillary put in sharp focus a concern far deeper than her candidacy or even—hard to believe—the outcome of the 2016 elections. With one remark, she laid bare how our understanding of constitutional governance has degenerated.

Hillary announced a litmus test for potential Supreme Court nominees.  They must vote to overturn the 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Recall that Citizens United was about a 2008 documentary critical of Hillary, produced by a Conservative organization that mistook her for the most dangerous entrant in that year’s presidential race. The Federal Elections Commission barred its presentation on cable TV, the producers sued, and the Supreme Court decided, 5-4, that the producers’ speech indeed merited First Amendment protection—a year after the election was over.

Hillary’s remark in plain English: I will use the federal courts to prohibit criticism of ME!

And still that’s not the main point. The main point is the appalling reality that in today’s America, a presidential candidate feels free to openly declare her intention to suppress freedom of speech and it costs her nothing politically.

In better days the media would have terminated a candidacy aiming to outlaw political criticism; now the media are active agents of speech-suppression, seeing this evil as the necessary price of excusing themselves from the inconvenience of defending their ideas.
A nation that responds with nonchalance is farther along toward self-destruction than it may appear.


Intended Consequences

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postPerhaps long ago, concerning Liberal social policy, one could plausibly believe in unintended consequences. That would have been before the grand experiment played itself out for—very conservatively—half a century.

Nowadays, to look at some agonizingly predictable multi-billion dollar fiasco and call it an example of unintended consequences is the equivalent of saying we are governed by imbeciles. We don’t believe we are governed by imbeciles.

We believe when a policy produces exactly the result anyone with an ounce of sense would expect, that result was intended.

By now, alert readers may have guessed we are thinking of last Friday’s Wall Street Journal story, reporting that the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, is forcing massive insurance premium increases; in other words, making care unaffordable. The leading provider in New Mexico, for instance, seeks to increase premiums more than 51 percent next year.

For the vast majority of New Mexico residents, a 51 percent price increase for health insurance will be simply incomprehensible. But remember ex-Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel counseling against letting crises go to waste? Nothing could better exemplify what he meant than crippling health insurance cost increases, the tailor-made excuse for government to demolish and take over the health insurance industry, the objective from Day One.

The dirty secret is that sometimes the crisis must be manufactured by destroying things that work, so as to replace them with things that aggrandize government, functional or not.


Majority Justification

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dollar_signWe’re baffled.

We regard Republican legislative majorities as indispensable to economic growth, and many of us worked hard— ever since the 1980s building those majorities.

There’s talk of Republicans losing seats next year if the legislature repeals the prevailing wage law.

What baffles us is the apparent inattention to the question of what happens if Republican’s don’t repeal prevailing wage.

We recognize that prevailing wage beneficiaries, roadbuilders and other contractors specializing in public works projects, donated last year.  Some of that money would certainly disappear with prevailing wage repeal.

But is that it?

Any Republican should be eager to run on the issue of $300 million in annual taxpayer savings through prevailing wage repeal, but don’t make the mistake of assuming Democrats won’t run on it. Yes, decades ago prevailing wage was a gift to the Democrats’ union allies. But can anyone seriously believe—in 2016, with the brazenly deceitful Hillary Clinton topping their ticket—Democrats would hesitate to misrepresent their own abuses to damage their opponents?

Just imagine the troubled-sounding announcer—in ads conceivably  paid for by unions that benefit from prevailing wage—“Even  the respected, nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance estimated Republican special treatment for their big-business cronies cost state taxpayers up to $300 million a year…”

They won’t call it by name, and no, the issue is not too complicated to work, and no, the accomplice media will not come out with the truth.

You know the political maxim that “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.”  Democrats won’t bother explaining prevailing wage, but could force Republicans to do so, and frankly, the explanations available to the GOP don’t sound remotely good, even to us.

There’s one way around that problem…

Save the Planet: Eat Bugs

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hungry-wormWhat twisted combination of personal insecurity, alienation, aggression, and yearning for martyrdom propels the modern environmentalist movement we will never fully understand, but surely a desire to rain misery upon those who commit the unforgivable sin of being happy lurks not far beneath the surface.

Examples?  Consider the recent advice from ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, that switching our diet from beef to bugs is one way to escape destruction by the imaginary menace of carbon dioxide-induced global warming.   See question 5 in this interview with London’s lefty and massively alarmist Guardian.

The sole purpose of this chatter is to serve as part of the warm-up act for the UN’s upcoming Parisian confab on global warming—the one where Barack Obama will try to circumvent every limit imposed by constitutional government to commit the U.S. to an economic suicide pact in his hubristic enterprise of saving the planet. But we wouldn’t place any large wagers on the number of insect-based selections the high and mighty will find on the hors d’ oeuvre trays when the UN cocktail receptions get underway.

Which is not to say there aren’t plenty of voluntary insectivores right here at home who would like nothing better than to shift your diet to the sort of things a prudent camper shakes out of his boots every morning.  Back in February, someone connected with the Madison Children’s Museum “Sustainability Sideshow” invited us to an “Edible Insect Banquet” featuring “meal worm ‘crab’ cakes, cricket bread pudding, crispy super worm ‘chicken’ salad gougers [sic], wax worm tacos…”

Maybe they do it to shock their parents. Anyway, we now at least have a meaningful definition of “the good old days,” as a long-forgotten era when politicians used to pander to normal people.

The red-faced reindeer

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flynnQuite possibly the most instructive thing that will come out of the Milwaukee Police Department’s loss of videotaped interrogation records affecting—depending on which sources you believe—as few as seven or as many as thousands of cases—may be to clarify the limits on how deeply the city’s law enforcement hierarchy will bow to protect Liberal orthodoxy.

Chief Ed Flynn has tried hard to play down the extent of losses and the cost of repairing the damage to the recorded interrogations—recordings required by state law—but reporter M.D. Kittle this past weekend came up with some numbers showing how much of a strain that minimizing must be.

Last week Flynn brusquely denied a request from state lawmakers asking him to appear at a legislative hearing regarding the “catastrophic failure” within his department.  Flynn brushed off the hearings as “political reindeer games” and said he’s not playing. In 2013, Flynn went to Washington, D.C. to attend a U.S. Senate hearing, taking the occasion to rail against the Second Amendment.
He blamed that portion of our Constitution for the rapid accumulation in Milwaukee of dead bodies, often of children, piling up thanks to the behavior of people whose past criminal behavior had long since cost them their Second Amendment rights, or would have, in any community where safety is assigned a higher value than face-saving.

So we wonder if there’s a breaking point beyond which Ed Flynn will no longer be able to stomach defending a system that squanders the efforts of his cops day in and day out, putting violent felons back on the street to keep trying, or if he really is content being a “political reindeer.”

One Man’s Virtue…

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big_blank_blackboardFurther comment beyond  what’s already been said about last week’s Garland, Texas shootout that left two apparent ISIS adherents agreeably dead hardly seems necessary, but just for good measure…

An unnerving number of Americans who fancy themselves to be high-minded defenders of tolerance and “diversity” seem prepared to sacrifice those values by exhibiting deference to barbarians who despise them.  In those circles, a courageous stand in defense of human enlightenment usually means making scurrilous remarks about people or institutions that are guaranteed not to respond in kind.

So the next time some sensitive Liberal questions whether the organizers of the “draw Mohammed” competition were behaving “wisely” or being “responsible citizens” or acting in a “prudent” manner—as we’ve heard some ask—we hope we get the chance to ask them how long they expect to remain free to parade their condescension if we accommodate the preferences of a movement so depraved and evil as to seek virtue by murdering people over cartoons.

That about covers it.

Rehabilitating “Separate but Equal”

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books_scaleA hallmark of educational theory is the infinite flexibility with which its concepts may be defined.  Some element of the curriculum stirs controversy?  No problem!  It doesn’t mean what uninitiated parents and taxpayers think it means.

Often as not that will be true, since half of what the educational bureaucracy speaks of has no meaning.

But far from meaningless are the concepts marketed by the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), living proof that fundamentally racist attitudes can be quite fashionable, provided they are held by doctrinaire Liberals who presume to instruct the rest of us in the error of our color-blind ways.   Only to race-obsessed Liberals like the proprietors of PEG would it occur to segregate school children by color.

Half a dozen Wisconsin school districts have been buying PEG’s services, so some of your tax dollars are being used to advance educational theories that would set off a firestorm if they were expressed by anyone connected with a choice or voucher school, or just anyone not instantly identifiable as a professional leftist.

Of course the catch is that those theories wouldn’t be spoken by anyone in the parental choice sector, because that sector wouldn’t exist except for its conviction—borne out by graduation rates and college enrollments—that minority students will excel, given the opportunity and a quality of instruction that engages their attention and respect.

The scarcity of those opportunities is fully sufficient on its own to explain the popularity of school choice. The educational blob, as Bill Bennett so aptly calls it, seems down to its last excuse, the invidious pretense that black kids are culturally incapable of making the cut.

At least we hope that’s the last excuse. We can’t imagine what the education establishment will start claiming if it sinks any lower.

The Never-Ending Court Campaign

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excusesImmediately, the photo caption compels the question.

“During the governorship of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has continued its transformation from a congenial, moderately liberal institution into a severely divided conservative stronghold.”

The question:  Does the accompanying article represent embarrassing ignorance or purposeful mendacity?

For context:

  1. The court’s “transformation from a congenial” institution began long before Scott Walker became governor.  Jim Doyle hadn’t yet taken office when we first heard credible complaints about the recently-ousted chief justice’s dictatorial management style.
  2. “Moderately liberal” is a suspiciously bland description of a court that held, two decades ago, that manufacturers could be liable for damages even with no evidence that their product had harmed anyone; manufacturing a product similar to one that may harm someone was enough.
  3. How is it that a “conservative stronghold” is “severely divided?”  Is it a “stronghold” or not?

The text supplies additional clues:

“…the haste with which conservatives applied it reveals the partisan nature of the switch.”


“The switch” refers to last month’s election of a new chief justice, “the haste,” to that election occurring as soon as the statewide vote on the authorizing constitutional amendment was certified.


As used here, “haste” is either a deliberate contrivance to discredit the change, or evidence that the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This same court ruled years ago that a constitutional amendment takes effect immediately upon its ratification vote being certified; it must be enforced from that moment on. The opinion was written by then-Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. (See: petard, hoist upon own.)


There will be more of this as long as the Left views the judiciary as a tool to impose its agenda, meaning forever.  It helps to realize that the sole aim is to exempt that agenda from public consent.

Those “Celebrate diversity!” bumper stickers are evidently shorthand for “Be just like me or else!”


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oiltrainFor a realistic perspective on the present anxiety over railroad safety, it’s helpful to remember that few things are more upsetting to leftist elites than abundant supplies of inexpensive fossil energy. Because of that, and the Left’s relentless

search for ways to gum up the works, energy-wise, we now see a rising tide of smarmy solicitude from individuals who reject efforts to directly reduce the risk of calamities like the Lac Megantic explosion and more mundane spills.

Last week a dual-purpose Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial promoted rail regulation that will seriously impinge on the energy boom that’s the one bright spot in the nation’s economy,  and specifically praised two of the malefactors—Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Ron Kind—who have actively opposed safer energy transportation through the long-delayed Keystone Pipeline.

When federal regulators rolled out their new tank car rules last Friday, Kind and Baldwin clearly had already revved up their PR machines to do what the Left always does when it’s getting what it wants: quibble about whether the new restrictions go far enough.

It’s understandable that Senator Baldwin, in particular, would feel some urgency to be seen “leading the charge,” as her friends at the Journal-Sentinel put it, on almost any issue of public safety after her stunning non-performance in the Tomah VA Hospital scandal.  But amid her and Rep. Kind’s handwringing, remember what they did when given the opportunity to substantially reduce the need for rail transportation of crude oil.

On January 29, Baldwin voted “no” on legislation authorizing construction of the pipeline. On February 11, Kind voted “no” when the same bill came before the House—as did both other Democrats in the Wisconsin delegation.

Forgive us if we doubt that the Left’s regulatory enthusiasm is really about public safety.