The real world tunes out

The despicable media continue to overlook the repulsive behavior of the mobs. Last week Madison’s slightly less leftist newspaper published a wet, sloppy Valentine to the slobs camping on the square, by a columnist who used to write about the raw deal Madison teachers were getting, while married to a Madison teacher.

Fortunately, we live in a time when the influence of the conventional media is rapidly withering, and “zombie” protesters frightening Special Olympics athletes can no longer expect a free pass.

Meanwhile, the real world tunes out.  Elsewhere around the state, normal people who work (hard) for a living were not amused when advised to expect more Capitol mayhem.

Advised to “get ready for round two” of mass protests as the budget bill passes, normal people in the north woods literally rolled their eyes.

Democrats, following their ancient custom of attempting to prosper from their own malfeasance, now risk ending up a smaller minority than they are today or, perversely, might grab a Senate majority that allows them to shut down the Walker reform agenda at  least through 2012. Everything depends on conservative voters understanding that the Left is totally committed in a permanent battle to steal other people’s money.

While tuning out looks like a sign of robust mental health, everything worth having depends on conservatives staying in the fight however long it takes.

Accountability time

No one should ever forget that we have a Constitution because the Founders regarded government as a threat to liberty and in need of restraint. And no one should ever forget that the Founders regarded the judiciary as the most dangerous branch of government because, as exemplified by Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, it was the branch least likely to practice voluntary restraint.

Last Monday, Wisconsin Club for Growth acted on those beliefs and filed a Request for Investigation with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission.

The document cites potential misconduct by Judge Sumi in the trumped-up collective bargaining case now pending before the state Supreme Court. It points out that Sumi filed a brief with the Supreme Court asserting “definitive legal positions on issues that had not been adjudicated in the circuit court action in which she was presiding.”

Cut through the legalese and what that says is Sumi submitted a brief that demonstrates she’d prejudged the outcome of a case in which she was the sitting judge.  Unless someone can persuasively argue otherwise, Sumi violated court rules that require a judge to step aside if they’ve made public statements that commit—or appear to commit them—to one position or another in a proceeding under their review.

In Sumi’s handling of her review of the new collective bargaining law, the appearance was that she’d prejudged the case and was angling to thwart the lawful actions of the Legislature and Governor.  She then went ahead and acted in precisely the way it appeared she would.

Maybe the Judicial Commission will make Sumi explain herself. In any case, the least accountable branch is on notice that people are paying attention.

Update from Wispolitics.com

The state Supreme Court today threw out a Dane County judge’s ruling invalidating the collective
bargaining law, according to online court records.

The decision had not yet been posted at the court’s site by late this afternoon. But a posting at the court’s site for the appeal described an order in which Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi’s orders in the case are vacated and declared void.

The brief description on the court site said the court concluded the Legislature did not violate a provision in the Wisconsin Constitution that the doors of each house shall be open except when public welfare requires secrecy. During oral arguments last week, there were a series of questions about public access to a conference committee meeting in which lawmakers took up the legislation. That meeting was the basis of the open meetings violation Sumi found in invalidating the law.

“Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

The movie classic Chinatown ends in despair over life in a place where those in authority make or break the rules to suit themselves. If you think that sounds a lot like Dane County, you’re right.

Last week a judge in Madison gave  the Government Accountability Board (GAB) more time to find excuses not  to make Senate Democrats face their constituents in recall elections.

The stunningly unaccountable accountability board had no trouble deciding recall petitions against six Republican senators were all in proper order. They’ll have to win their seats back July 12, against a government union-engineered effort to overturn last November’s elections.

Thanks to Dane County Judge John Markson, the GAB has an extra week to invent defects in the petitions against three Democrats, and if they do have to defend their seats, it’ll be a week after the elections for the six Republicans.

So the “Chinatown” reference seems especially appropriate: The Republican Senators who performed with integrity in the face of rabid opposition could be kicked out of office, while those who pulled every trick in the book—like fleeing the state to escape doing their jobs, might wriggle off the hook and even be rewarded with more power if the Senate majority changes hands.

In Wisconsin’s Chinatown that wasn’t enough for one week. On Friday the Madison City Council city gave the Leftist mobs a permit to erect a tent city on the Capitol Square, making it easier to conduct their 24-hour tantrums for the next few weeks.

This summer’s mental health tip: If you don’t absolutely have to be in Madison, don’t go there.

The New Civility

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that legislative Democrats are now marketing themselves as the people who can restore civility to Wisconsin politics.

This is, after all, the same bunch that eagerly joined forces with the thousands of hateful protestors who spent February and March trashing the Capitol, menacing political opponents and attempting to paralyze the work of a lawfully-elected government by drowning it out with idiotic noise.

Take Representative Jennifer Shilling (D) LaCrosse. In her campaign ad to defeat Senator Dan Kapanke for doing his job, Shilling complains that she’s, “never seen our state as polarized as it is now.” That’s the same Jennifer Shilling who gave the solidarity fist bump to a protestor who was so out of control, police found it necessary to forcibly remove him.

With work on the state budget nearing completion, the mob is reassembling so naturally, Democrats choose this moment to proclaim themselves the apostles of courtesy and good behavior.

Changing Paradigm By State Senator Frank Lasee

“State’s deficit fuels political divide; Polarization between parties, population likely to continue, experts say.” That was a headline in the GreenBay Press Gazette this week on a story reporting the sharp differences between the left and right in Wisconsin.

They’re wondering what happened to bipartisanship. In many cases, bipartisanship is still strong. About 80 percent of bills pass
through the legislature with a bipartisan vote and they’re often worked on in a bipartisan way. If you’re going to vote for something, you get a say in it. If you’re going to vote no, then you don’t get much of a say. I tell folks you have to have the votes, whether in the legislature or an election. One leads to another.

Bipartisanship is still here. It just doesn’t make the news very often. It isn’t very exciting. There are real differences between those that believe in more government and those that believe our government is too big, too expensive and too involved in citizens’ lives already.

The political landscape in Wisconsin and the country has changed dramatically in the last decade.

Since the Civil War we had a stable political paradigm in our state and country. Both parties had a full spectrum of elected officials. The Democrats had some conservative, small-government legislators such as Representative Bob Ziegelbauer (formerly D) – now an independent, because he was targeted by the Democrats, unions and liberal groups – and former state Senator Jeff Plale (D), a moderate who is now working in the administration after he was defeated in a Democratic primary by liberal Chris Larson. On the Republican side, we still have some big-spending, government-first types.

In the past paradigm, liberals and conservatives from both parties would have to get together to pass bipartisan conservative laws or bipartisan liberal laws. They couldn’t do it exclusively in their own caucus because of their diverse caucus. Conservatives and liberals needed help from across the aisle to get their agendas passed into law, or they wanted political cover for their agenda. That isn’t true any longer in Madison or Washington.

Now, the Democrats have clearly become the party of big government. They want big spending, big borrowing and higher taxes. They say they only want higher taxes on the “rich” and businesses. In Wisconsin, the “rich” often means a teacher married to a cop. As far as taxing businesses more, liberals show their inability to understand what businesses do. They just pass the cost of higher taxes on to their customers. The customer actually pays the tax.

Over the last dozen years, Democrats have been finishing the process of cleansing small-government conservatives and moderates from their party. Republicans are behind in this process but are making progress in the opposite, small-government direction. There are still some big government Republicans — both nationally and in Wisconsin — just not as many as there used to be.

This change will continue, and that will make compromise between big-government Democrats and pay-the-bills-first, don’t-grow-government Republicans harder and harder. This is the eighth two-year budget I’ve worked on. When final passage of previous budgets would drag on, I’d get angry toned letters from constituents saying. “Why can’t you Republicans get together with the Democrats and agree on what’s best for Wisconsin?” I would write them a polite letter that went something like this: “We’re a couple billion dollars apart on taxes and fee increases. The Democrats want more taxes and fees. I promised that I wouldn’t vote for tax increases. That’s what’s holding up the budget. Do you want me to cave in and vote for what the Democrats want to raise your taxes and fees by a couple of billion dollars? Do you want me to compromise and raise taxes and fees one billion dollars instead, provided we can get the Democrats to agree?** Or should I hang tough and keep my promise not to vote to raise taxes?”

I never did get an answer to that question. What would be your answer?

How do you compromise with someone who believes government is not big enough or involved enough in our lives, when you believe – as I do – that our government is already too big, too costly, limits too much of our freedom and hurts our economy? A government that has departed too far from the vision laid out in our Constitution? Some things should never be compromised away.

** Keep in mind that Democrats (who controlled the legislature and Governor’s office) raised taxes and fees by $4.5 billion, had record-deficits,
spent nearly $2 billion in federal stimulus money, had record borrowing and left us with a $3.6 billion deficit in the last session.

Blind Justice

In presuming to overturn Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi willfully ignored things known to anybody with a television set during February and March.

The most laughable statement in Sumi’s contemptible ruling may be that a conference committee acted on the bill “on less than two hours’ notice in a location that was not open and accessible to citizens.”

We suspect those thousands of people swarming through the Capitol at the time were mostly citizens.

Sumi sanctimoniously quoted the state constitution saying “the doors of each house shall remain open, except when the public welfare requires secrecy.”

No secrecy was involved. Everybody knew exactly what was happening. Doors to the legislative chambers were closed because the alternative would have been to let a screaming mob invade the proceedings, threatening public safety.  The same mob that set Wisconsin taxpayers back $8 million in law enforcement costs.

The state Supreme Court may smack Sumi down, but an alternative would be for the Legislature to pass the law again, as part of the pending budget bill. Majority Republicans understandably hesitate to pursue that option because it virtually guarantees the mob’s return.

But that illuminates the jaw-dropping question raised by Sumi’s decision: Is a county judge saying a lawfully elected government can’t do what’s necessary to conduct its business, but rather is obligated to defer to mob rule?

Few voters would miss that point the second time around. Republicans dread going through it again. Having taken sides with the mob, Democrats ought to dread it more.

Once again, it’s ALL about the Money

Anything is possible, so we’re willing to stipulate some of the government employees seen waving signs that say it’s not about the money might actually believe it. 

Teachers in Waukesha County’s Hartland-Lakeside School District were evidently prepared to act on that belief. Then the union bosses stepped in and showed the teachers they’re being taken for a ride just like everybody else.

The teachers indicated they’d support a plan to save the district almost $700,000 by switching their health care coverage to a new provider. Trouble is, the current provider is the union, or more precisely the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) Insurance Trust.

 This arrangement allows the statewide union to feed on taxpayer dollars through both salaries and benefits:  first, by skimming off part of the teachers’ salaries in the form of mandatory dues; and second, by getting paid directly for providing the teachers’ insurance coverage.

Their willingness to help the district manage its finances earned the Hartland-Lakeside teachers an introduction to WEAC’s version of what used to be called the “Brezhnev Doctrine:” Once you’re in, you’re in forever.” 

Teacher union health insurance is the scandal that somehow never boils over and it’s not just a WEAC story. The president of the Madison teachers union is a paid director of WPS, and guess who has Madison’s coverage.  The Capital Times investigated this nearly two decades ago, but the arrangement lives on.

The irony is teachers could be among the beneficiaries if school districts can save money on their insurance premiums.  Too bad the teachers’ interests and their union’s interests are one in the same.