Monthly Archives: October 2015

That happened fast…

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Kennedy_Nixon_DebatAt first we suspected our reaction to the Democrats’ first presidential debate had been influenced by somebody else’s comments. Then we came across near-identical remarks from people who presumably hadn’t talked, and realized we’d all seen the same thing: The Democratic Party has dropped its disguise and consciously decided it’s the right time to openly embrace Socialism.

Thanks for the hot tip, you say?  Well, think about it.

Mere months ago, Bernie Sanders—who for all his ideology probably owes his elected office more to being a curmudgeon than to being an ideologue—was regarded as an exotic creature even by the mainstream media because he identified himself as a Socialist.

But right now the main preoccupation of Democrats seeking their presidential nomination is to corner the support of the substantial minority of the nation’s voters who will back a Democrat no matter what.

The Democratic Party’s current calculation seems to be that a majority of that substantial minority now consists of people who consider it government’s job to make them comfortable, by giving them wealth seized from others and especially by suppressing the views of anyone who disagrees with them.

That is why Jim Webb appeared such an oddity among his fellow debaters the other night. He is last century’s Democrat.  John F. Kennedy would probably have been driven from the stage with pitchforks.

The Democratic Party that nominated JFK is deader than he is. Its replacement, perhaps knowingly, is betting its existence as a political force on the self-absorption of the American voter that it has cultivated for a half-century.

Multiple times since 2009 people have said the future—meaning the way we’ll live for at least a generation—will depend on the next election. This time they’re probably right.

Reforming the Reforms

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moneypuzzleCampaign finance law stands in generally low repute, blamed as it is for failing to curtail the supposedly unsavory role of money in elections. Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature now propose revisions to increase contribution limits and index them for inflation. Naturally, legislative Democrats detect the end of representative democracy lurking ‘round the corner.

But it’s worth remembering that existing campaign finance laws, lax, according to Democrats, in controlling political spending were created by Democrats who set out in the 1970s to diminish the influence of wealthy contributors and succeeded instead in diminishing the influence of political parties, including their own. Undeterred, Democrats now deplore dominance over parties by the ideological purists their reforms empowered.

Today’s Wisconsin Democrats make it a high priority to defend misbegotten reforms on all fronts, thus they even leap to the aid of one enacted with Republican help.  Nowadays, when the adjective “nonpartisan” appears alongside the name “Government Accountability Board,” it’s a reasonable guess that you’re listening to Wisconsin Public Radio or reading a Democratic press release.

The “nonpartisan” GAB staff has two division administrators. One is a former Democratic candidate for the Assembly, the other a former uber-liberal member of the Dane County Board. Individual identities are difficult to verify, but their subordinates appear to include a handful of probable Walker recall petition signers.

That, however, isn’t the most amusing aspect of GAB nonpartisanship and its Democrat-led defense. The most amusing aspect is the reaction to Republicans proposing to replace the board with partisan appointees in equal numbers, to check each others’ excesses.

Democrats convincingly simulate horror at that arrangement which, oddly enough, is the one they favored when they created the old state Elections Board that predated the malfeasant GAB.

Welcome, and Good Luck

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welcome_wiJustice Rebecca Bradley has served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a little over a week and, like Congressman Paul Ryan as a potential Speaker of the House of Representatives, she knew perfectly well what she’d be getting into. At least in Bradley’s case, the trash-talk comes from political opponents.

Week One gave Bradley a taste of what lies ahead when some Woodward-and-Bernstein wannabes ferreted out the news that her campaign organization had reserved a “Justice Bradley” internet domain name shortly before Governor Walker appointed her.

Quite a scandal, no?  Evidently the crack reporters of the Associated Press think that when people are named to fill vacancies on the state’s highest court, judicial propriety demands that the appointee be the last one to hear about it.

That the AP is simply obtuse is remotely plausible. That the campaign of JoAnne Kloppenburg could be so oblivious is inconceivable. Rejected in a Supreme Court candidacy four years ago, Kloppenburg has gotten the band back together and now makes bold to suggest Bradley’s appointment taints the court with partisanship and special interest influence.

Really. In 2011 Kloppenburg played up to government unions with her explicit eagerness to overturn the Act 10 collective bargaining changes. Now she denounces “special interest” influence on the court and volunteers herself as its bulwark against partisanship by opposing “Governor Walker’s choice.” If Kloppenburg wins next spring, we can at least look forward to some hilarious opinions.

Rebecca Bradley’s appointment is the appropriate alternative to leaving the court one Justice short, creating the (admittedly remote) possibility of 3-3 ties, with almost half a year’s work to do before the spring election.

We wish Bradley well and hope she finds the work sufficiently satisfying to compensate for the juvenile mudslinging that nowadays inevitably comes with it.

The silence of the left is the Dems’ transparency hypocrisy

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By M.D. Kittle, Wisconsin Watchdog.org

Last week we tried to imagine how miserable journalism school must be nowadays, given the astonishing degree of self-restraint necessary for the major media to not notice stories that would have had reporters climbing over one another, elbows flying, as recently as—well okay, maybe not so recently—before the Reagan presidency.

That silence is deafening among the left’s best friend, the mainstream media.

The left has remained silent about Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s open records games.

Abrahamson has hired an attorney to defend her in the records request filed by conservative targets of Wisconsin’s unconstitutional John Doe investigation.

That’s the same investigation into dozens of conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker that Abrahamson as chief justice helped administratively put in motion.

It was, according to court documents, Abrahamson who appointed reserve Judge Barbara Kluka to serve as the probe’s presiding judge. Kluka suddenly recused herself in October 2013, not long after signing off on the warrants and subpoenas that fathered the predawn, paramilitary-style raids on the homes and offices of several John Doe targets and the search and seizure of millions of documents. Those subpoenas were eventually quashed by Kluka’s successor, who found no evidence of illegal activity on the part of the targets.

But the state Supreme Court found plenty wrong with the John Doe investigation.  In July, the court found the probe “without reason or law.” Abrahamson wrote the dissenting opinion in the 4-2 ruling.

“My attorneys have requested information about Justice Abrahamson’s communications with other people involved in the John Doe (investigation), to determine the extent of her involvement in the planning and execution of this assault on our civil rights,” said Eric O’Keefe, long-time conservative activist and one of many targets of the probe.

“Instead of complying with our request, Justice Abrahamson is using taxpayer money to hire an attorney to assist her,” added O’Keefe, who has sued the investigation’s prosecutors for violating the constitutional rights of Wisconsin residents.

O’Keefe and his Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of 29 conservative groups targeted, filed the open records request with Abrahamson’s office nearly two months ago. They continue to wait for a response.

O’Keefe said Abrahamson directed that Kluka be named John Doe judge at the “request of her political ally, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.”

Abrahamson, in a letter to O’Keefe’s attorney, described the records request as “broadly stated.” She insisted that she must alert all of the parties who may be affected by the release of information. She cannot seek advice from Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel because of a possible conflict of interest, Abrahamson asserts.

The AG’s office represents several state defendants in the federal lawsuit Abrahamson recently brought. The justice sued the state after the passage of a constitutional amendment that ended up costing Abrahamson her long-time position as chief justice. She lost. She is appealing that federal court ruling.

“Is it plausible that Justice Abrahamson did this without any idea of the purpose of this supposedly secret John Doe?  We may learn that the one justice who really needed to recuse herself from the John Doe cases was Justice Abrahamson,” O’Keefe told Wisconsin Watchdog in August.

The open records request seeks records of communications between Abrahamson and employees of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, Kluka and former director of state courts John Voelker between Jan. 1, 2012 to the present.

The conservatives are particularly interested in records of communications and meetings between the justice and any employees of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office — including Chisholm, a Democrat, and assistant district attorneys David Robles and Bruce Landgraf.

“Justice Abrahamson has long been a favorite of the Democratic legislators and leaders in Wisconsin,” O’Keefe said. “What do they think about her participating in a John Doe investigation that was ‘without foundation in reason or law?”

“What do they think of her declining to recuse herself from a John Doe investigation launched by a John Doe Judge she named to the position?”

“What do they think of her refusing to comply with an open records request?”

There has been only silence from the left on this transparency issue.

 

No-Gozone

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noexitIn March, we described vast areas of the nation failing compliance with ground-level ozone (smog) standards if the Environmental Protection Agency adopted a regulatory tightening it initially proposed four years ago.

Last Thursday, the EPA issued a “final rule” limiting allowable ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) in ambient air, down from the current standard of 75 ppb. Virtually all of Wisconsin meets the 75 ppb standard, but large areas won’t be compliant at 70 ppb.

In noncompliant areas, you can’t build or expand a facility requiring a federal air emissions permit unless you secure equivalent emission reductions from other sources. Last year Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said the rule would make the state’s most populated counties an “economic no-go zone.”

Naturally, this spells conflict between industries laboring to meet the current standard and environmentalists who want less industry.

Among those calling for even more stringent regulation is the irredeemably politicized American Lung Association, which the EPA itself had no choice but to disavow less than a month ago over a bogus air quality report.

The EPA admits to $4 billion in annual compliance costs but maintains this will be more than offset by public health benefits. Oddly, the thousands of premature deaths the EPA says its rule will prevent weren’t such an urgent concern when the Obama administration postponed last Thursday’s rule in 2011—with a presidential election coming up.

By EPA reasoning, most Americans risk their health visiting or inhabiting supposedly dangerous places that would fail the new standard; “noncompliant” areas are almost unavoidable because they cover so much of the U.S.

Ozone isn’t stamped by country of origin, but watch for China to export more of it here as additional industries are exiled by the Obama EPA.

Ruling Out Growth

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small_pondDemocrats who purport to be dissatisfied with the pace of job creation in Wisconsin must be under the impression that Governor Walker runs the economy for all 50 states. That’s the only alternative to Democrats admitting their own policy ideas are the problem.

The truth is, job creation has been better in Wisconsin than in many other states, which is not to say it’s been great. But last Friday brought national employment numbers confirming what everybody already knew: The economy remains persistently sluggish and perilously close to recession territory.

What a surprise! Urged on by the White House, federal regulators have piled on expensive new rules raising the cost of starting and running a business (Sarbanes-Oxley), producing energy, (emissions crossing state lines, mercury, carbon dioxide, and last Wednesday an ozone rule the state’s leading business group says will cost thousands of Wisconsin jobs.

Recently finalized is a rule—now under court challenge—authorizing the EPA to regulate vast expanses of dry land as “waters of the United States.” In the offing is a rule on methane emissions from natural gas production and transportation, as if gas producers wanted a saleable product to leak away into the atmosphere. The list goes on.

Anticipation of bad things to come will surely take a toll on future investment plans, but no regulation has its full impact before it’s formally adopted and enforcement begins. The worst news about the Obama regulatory assault on the economy is that the most burdensome, job-killing regulations haven’t taken effect yet.

The only prospect of better news would be a new White House resident 16 months from now untying the Obama straitjacket. Democrats and the media will howl, but few will listen when all of a sudden, people start finding jobs.