Monthly Archives: September 2015

…and the GOP Identity Crisis

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chaosThe contrast between the success of Wisconsin Conservatives over the past five years and the frustrations of Republican congressional majorities during the same period is stark, indeed. And unfortunately, the frustrations are leading many well-intentioned Conservatives toward reasoning in ways unmoored from reality.

How much attention, after all, must one be paying in order to recognize that Wisconsin Conservatives in 2010 managed to elect not just legislative majorities but also the state’s chief executive, the pivotal accomplishment that has eluded the GOP nationally in two successive elections?

That obvious fact notwithstanding, we now see a substantial minority of nominally Republican-leaning voters whose exasperation with the congressional majorities manifests itself in demands that are at odds with reasserting Conservative governance.

In that context, the genetics of the partisan role-reversal noted in the item nearby is not unrecognizable.  For instance, many nominal Conservatives are enraged by a party that controls just one of the three coequal branches of government presuming unilaterally to make and unmake federal law, but are simultaneously enraged by the other party, which similarly controls just one of the three branches, failing to do the same.

Let’s stipulate that we confront a historically unique situation of rule by decree rather than representative governance; a critical moment in history doesn’t make the case for both sides blowing up the constitutional structure.

Voters of conservative inclination did not invent the present chaos in political thought; surely it reflects the decline of civics education, a decline—perhaps not coincidentally—helpful to the political Left that controls public education and whose hand is strengthened by a shriveled understanding of how American government is designed to operate and a diminished appreciation of the need for restraint of government’s behavior.

But kicking over the furniture is not a governing philosophy.

A Republican Role-Reversal…

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nouturnMaybe it’s a law of nature that after a political party gets used to holding power it starts repeating the sort of mistakes that got its rival party tossed out, and the cycle begins anew.

If so, Republicans in Wisconsin’s Legislature are probably fortunate to have picked the idea of appointing, rather than electing the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as one of their first Democrat-style mistakes: chances are hardly anyone will notice.

But consider the ironic partisan role-reversal on display in this not terribly consequential GOP daydream.

Democrats quickly responded last week by saying the office of statewide school superintendent must remain an elected position because making it a cabinet-level appointment would excessively politicize the public schools. Remember, these are the same people who say legislative redistricting and the selection of Supreme Court justices must be conducted by appointees, to remove the taint of politics.

This boils down to Liberals advocating whatever method they think most advantageous to their acquisition of power. A campaign for state superintendent attracts practically no attention, so teacher-union members can pretty much go to the polls and install a cipher like Elizabeth Burmaster or her incandescently political successor, the incumbent Tony Evers, to do their bidding.

Supreme Court contests, on the other hand, bring high visibility to lightning-rod issues, leading Liberals to conclude that in this case, holding elections is not such a good idea.

Nobody should more clearly perceive the vulnerability of this hypocritical opportunism than Wisconsin Republicans. The answer to their lengthy losing streak in electing the state superintendent is to field a quality candidate, fund a serious campaign, and raise educational issues for which the Left has no respectable answers.

That would have a far better effect than just moving the top school bureaucrat to a different payroll.

Everything They Know is Wrong

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tornadoWe live in strange and troubling times. Formerly definable as ordinary disagreement over public policy, American politics has degenerated into a tribalism exposing deep and fearful insecurity on the Left.

There is no simple cure for an insecurity that brooks no dissent, and the Left has invested most of half a century methodically constructing a world view that dare not risk a single admission of merit in any competing idea. To concede one point is to initiate collapse.

After decades of daily exertion—“Those other people must be wrong and evil because if they weren’t, we would be and that’s impossible”—the result is revealed in all its absurd self-regard. One needn’t look to Debbie Wasserman Schultz or the Liberal media for examples.

Last week we had an exchange with a global-warming zealot who reeled off a list of false assertions, mostly White House talking points. We explained why they were wrong and how he could find out for himself. He responded with ramped-up pompous condescension—as definitive of today’s Leftism as striking a kneecap with a rubber mallet defines an involuntary reflex: Because we disagreed, he needed no further proof of our iniquity.

He picked the day the weather service announced tornadoes have grown weaker and less common for a fourth consecutive year to admonish us that tornadoes are growing more frequent and destructive.

Our point is not to recount a triumph over some smug ignoramus. The point, sadly, is to illustrate that approximately half the U.S. political spectrum is occupied by people who defend their fragile self-worth by intensifying their self-deceit.

Leftist rectitude now depends on claiming to believe falsehoods a clever child could easily refute. To recover rationality, the Left would need to admit this—and that is inconceivable. Troubling times indeed, and more ahead.

Here we go again…

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Everybody who reads the editorial pages will recognize the mantra that legislative redistricting should be taken out of the hands of legislators because the present arrangement “lets the legislators choose their voters” instead of the other way around.

Oh, well. History doesn’t count for much when you’re trying to argue that the job of drawing legislative district maps is better trusted to wiser, more fair-minded experts—in other words lifelong Liberals. There may be people gullible enough to believe this—surely it’s possible the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has just hired a headline writer fresh off the bus from Turnip Corners—but we suspect the laughter emanating from Journal Communications was audible on the far side of State Street when this one saw the light of day: “Democrats want legislative redistricting to be non-partisan.”

To give history it’s due, at least one of the groups tub-thumping to reduce voter influence in redistricting—the League of Women Voters—was historically a non-partisan advocate for civic education. Now it’s just another Liberal front group like the others that popped up last Tuesday, no doubt by sheer coincidence, suddenly touting legislation Democrats introduced back in February.

We said a supposedly nonpartisan commission would reduce voter influence over redistricting. Here’s why: Liberals argue that GOP legislative majorities, growing in recent election cycles, indicate Republican gerrymandering. The problem with that is, Republicans were out of power in the Wisconsin Legislature for nearly a quarter-century prior to the 1994 elections. The trend toward GOP majorities in the past two decades began with Republicans running on district maps drawn by Democrats.

Republicans didn’t rig those maps; Democrats wore out their welcome and voters converted that into electoral reality.

A wise electorate won’t surrender its ability to make or break legislative majorities to a dubiously impartial panel of so-called experts.

Run on Obamacare!

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postIt’s almost enough to make us wish we didn’t have to wait another 14 months for the next election.

In August, polling by a major international consulting firm found more than two out of every three Obamacare enrollees were unhappy with their coverage.

Then last week brought word that enrollment is dropping off, suggesting a defiant citizenry prefers to pay fines rather than buy into the Obamacare system.

On Sunday we found out the program won’t make its budget targets unless enrollments double. Good luck.

The monstrosity is imploding, and the only thing missing is some sign of concern on the part of the Obama administration. It would probably be a mistake to look for that: Concern over an imploding program is what you’d expect only if the objective was to provide health insurance coverage, and the purpose of Obamacare is something else altogether.

Note that Mr. Defender of the World’s Oppressed, the scourge of greedy profit-making businesses, has created a program that’s crushing non-profit insurers while the big, profit-oriented companies feed off the program and prosper—a classic symbiosis between big government and big business.

Monday brought the most delicious irony of all. Obamacare’s failures look to be paying off for blue-state cronies who are collecting recovered funds that were poured down the rathole of failed state insurance exchanges even though they never had a dime in the game to begin with.

Like everything else undertaken by this administration, Obamacare is simply a device to facilitate looting and pass the proceeds to political allies. Scott Walker and others have proposed serious plans to eliminate and replace it.  If they’re smart, Republicans will focus on those ideas and ride them all the way to next November.

Reaping What You Sow Dept.

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mountWe’re not much inclined to think President Obama renamed Alaska’s Mount McKinley just to diss a Republican predecessor; it strikes us more as an attempt to display the kind of omnipotence that always seems to elude him except when he’s acting unilaterally to accommodate some dictator.

But hey, nobody has an exclusive franchise on arbitrariness. So getting into the spirit of things, we hope no one will be too upset if the next GOP president takes a look around at our national monuments and decides to rename Death Valley “The Obama Depression.”


Iran: It just doesn’t matter

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iranWe bow to no one in our disgust with the Obama administration’s—make that the Democratic Party’s—nuclear agreement with Iran, since enough Senate Democrats have bought into the charade to prevent its legislative rejection.

But if you value your mental health, you have only so much indignation to go around, and Mr. Chamberlin—oops! Obama’s worthless piece of paper probably isn’t the best thing to spend it on.

The reason isn’t that it falls short in any way if you’re scoring the thing based on sheer odiousness. The reason is that where the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic are concerned, it will make no difference whatsoever. The ayatollahs will lie, cheat, stonewall, and move straight ahead with their plans. It’s always been that way and will stay that way, agreement or no agreement.

The only mutual agreement we can share with the Iranian government in reasonable expectation of it being honored is the one the mullahs announce in various formulations roughly once a day before a worldwide audience: They are our mortal enemies. Most Americans outside the hierarchy of the Democratic Party can muster enough maturity to take that seriously.

There is, of course, the money Iran will receive as frozen assets are released. That is no small thing and it will most certainly be used for evil purposes. Think of it as the pathology of Barack Obama’s ego helping finance terrorist attacks against Americans and our allies and you’ll have mastered the essential details.

A pessimistic view is that once lifted, sanctions are gone for good and the flabby Western democracies will never reacquire leverage over the ayatollahs. Hoping Iran doesn’t have a bomb before a new administration takes office, we’re willing to see that proposition tested by a president who actually likes the United States.

Happy (belated) Labor Force Non-Participation Day

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endofsummerMonday marked the end-of-summer holiday honoring the societal contributions and historic struggles of chiefly blue-collar working men and women. So looking back on this 121st Labor Day, how are things going for them?

Most conspicuously, their numbers have dwindled, and we aren’t thinking only of the shrunken membership of Wisconsin’s public employee unions. We’re thinking of people nationwide, union members and otherwise, who presumably would like to be working but aren’t.

In the Sixth Year of the Age of Obama—incidentally the sixth year of what’s theoretically an economic recovery—the percentage of Americans participating in the labor force is the smallest since 1977, right in the middle—also incidentally—of the gloomy years of the Carter presidency, a time James Earl Carter himself described back then as a period of “national malaise.”

Give the 39th President credit for this much: In the midst of a lousy economy on its way toward getting worse, he was honest enough not to try telling us we never had it so good.

Those who aren’t working and most of those who are know better. And most are also bright enough to realize that the Liberal economic thinkers currently in the saddle are zeroed in, laser-like, on making things worse. The editorial board geniuses at The New York Times picked the Friday before Labor Day to beat the drum for their plan to put countless additional Americans out of work, in the name of fairness or something like that.

Looking for a silver lining? The “malaise” years spawned the generation of so-called Reagan Democrats who understood better than the Times or any current Democrat running for president that prosperity by decree just doesn’t happen. Soon after Labor Day 2016 comes the opportunity to put that understanding to work.

Treading Water

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small_pondNearby, we mentioned the EPA’s “Waters of the United States “regulation and a federal judge’s injunction blocking its implementation.

The judge says states would be irreparably harmed by the federal government usurping their sovereign right to regulate waters within their borders (and within the scope of their responsibilities enforcing the federal Clean Water Act.)

Serenely indifferent, the EPA claims the injunction applies only to the 13 states that petitioned in Judge Ralph Erickson’s North Dakota federal court. In the other 37 states, the EPA smugly says it’s going full speed ahead.

Wisconsin wasn’t among the 13 plaintiff states—it joined a petition that failed in a different federal court—but Attorney General Brad Schimel argues that the EPA is wrong and the injunction applies everywhere.

While this gets sorted out, it’s important to understand why just about every major agricultural organization and more than 30 states are suing to overturn the regulation. The EPA, you see, has managed to write a rule that defines vast expanses of dry land as “Waters of the United States,” so as to broaden its power to levy fines for everyday activities occurring in pursuit of environmental outrages like, for instance, growing food.  Last month the American Farm Bureau Federation released a map showing that under EPA standards, 99 percent of the entire state of Pennsylvania is at risk of coming under Clean Water Act regulation. A Wisconsin map was in the works.

Meanwhile, a congressional committee revealed Army Corps of Engineers documents—filled with blistering criticism of an arrogantly incompetent EPA pretending dry land is water and foregoing regulation of waters where it’s arguably appropriate.

The Corps says the EPA’s handiwork can’t withstand judicial review. So far, so good.

The Dogged Pursuit of Power

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emailWe invite our Liberal friends to dispute this:  Government employees acting in their official capacities who avoid government-operated email systems and use personal accounts instead, create a presumption that their intentions are unwholesome and possibly illegal.

And—SURPRISE!—the newest email revelations don’t involve Hillary Clinton, but rather that stalwart of leftist covert ops Lois Lerner.  It turns out the notorious Internal Revenue Service retiree used not one but two personal email accounts in, arguably, efforts to keep her activities beyond the reach of federal record-keeping and disclosure laws.

While the core of the episode is just another pedestrian abuse of power, the single detail that elevates this latest Lerner outrage from bureaucratic banality to weird fascination is the seeming penchant of Obama henchpersons to hide problematic correspondence behind the names of their dogs.

Of course you remember Richard Windsor, the email alias used by ex-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson for a dark account within the agency, mashed together from the names of her dog and place of residence.

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel detailed how an EPA biologist used private email to improperly recruit outside activists in fabricating pre-emptive opposition to an Alaska mining proposal. He’s under a federal judge’s subpoena but has skipped the country. No word on whether a canine pseudonym was employed.

Last year’s active EPA manipulation of public comment on its “Waters of the United States” regulation fits perfectly into the picture.

That land-grab was blocked Thursday by a federal judge, but the overarching message is clear enough: A government that regularly breaks its own rules to keep you from finding out what it’s doing self-identifies as a government that recognizes unresolvable conflict between its interests and yours.