Their Corrosive Touch

Let’s stipulate the obvious:  Intelligence programs designed to gather the information needed to thwart terrorist atrocities cannot, by definition be conducted in public view. Whatever we may hear next about secret data-mining of telephone records, it’s kind of important to remember no informant can be inserted to break up a terror plot whose existence no one suspects.

Alongside that reality stands another, that the potential for the activities of government to become abusive is ever-present. In the interest of guarding civic order and public safety, we accept that risk and maintain a Constitution to rein in the worst instincts of political officials.

So normally, citizens dislike government keeping statistics of who calls whom on the telephone but allow for the exigencies of protecting the nation when large numbers of people, abroad and within this country, are determined to murder Americans just because we exist.

The tripwire in that last sentence is “normally.” In addition to the terrorist threat, we confront the parallel abnormality of an administration that has amply demonstrated eagerness to abuse power. To believe these people will overlook the opportunity of using telephone records not only to preempt terrorists but also to manipulate the innocent is to believe that this time, they will deviate from their usual behavior.

The most insidious way in which the Obama administration directly damages this country: It renders reasonable people unwilling to trust government even to do things which we might otherwise acknowledge an absolute need.


Catastrophic Coverage

Our headline takes on new meaning daily as the pernicious nature of Obamacare grows more difficult to disguise. The gradual revelation that in every respect, Obamacare will have the opposite impact our beloved leader promised, no longer rates as even a mild surprise.

And while litigating against Obamacare could be seen as a solemn duty, the courts are at best unreliable. In practical terms, there is no need to cite even one other reason why comprehensive Republican success in next year’s elections is an existential necessity.

By then, theoretically, the totalitarian monstrosity will have been fully in place for 11 months. But we can see how things are going. Implementation is a mess, and behind schedule. Tearing it down will not add too much more confusion even in 2015, and would be worth the trouble in any case. It’s that choice, or be prepared to rearrange every detail of your life. Start by calling your doctor to find out if he or she is planning to stick around for all the fun.

Examining the plight of a California landscaping business, last Friday’s Wall Street journal noted that if all 270 of its workers take employer-sponsored coverage and pay the maximum allowable 9.5 percent of premium costs, the company’s share will still wipe out its profits.Some politicians in Washington, D.C. might enjoy that, but the workers would soon be unemployed.

Not your father’s Democratic Party

Some of us still remember when Democrats and Republicans actually held some important values in common. Sure, there were arguments, often bitter ones, over how to fairly divide the economic pie. But people on both sides tended to understand where the pie came from.

Then came the 1970s when we saw the hard-core Left, a movement built on hatred, complete its hijacking of the Democratic Party.

Products of that era still thrive in positions of authority, seeking to turn reality on its head by applying the kind of methods against which Republicans and Democrats used to stand shoulder to shoulder in opposition.

The latest perpetrator is Madison Mayor Paul Soglin who made explicit his intent to use taxpayer dollars to retaliate against businesses that fail to toe the Party Line.

A letter from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) protests the deliberate suppression of constitutionally-guaranteed liberties in Wisconsin’s great Progressive Tabernacle of civil liberties. Mayor Paul Soglin is himself an exemplar of the mobs who passed themselves off as civil libertarians back in the day.

Now Soglin is proposing a common council resolution that would force city contractors to disclose their donations to non-profit organizations.

In a pointed letter to Soglin, the Wisconsin Center for Law and Liberty (WILL) wrote:

On May 8, 2013 the Cap Times reported that you had introduced a Common Council resolution that, if passed, would require City of Madison contractors to disclose their contributions to advocacy organizations. According the Cap Times, your purpose in introducing the proposed legislation is to expose and discourage contribution to groups supporting conservative causes. Even if this is not an accurate report of your intentions, you are actually quoted by the Cap Times as stating that the purpose of the proposed resolution is to curtail contributions to groups that hate government and try to make it less efficient.”

WILL’s letter went on to point out the obvious legal and constitutional problems with Soglin’s proposal. Not that any Dane County judges are likely to take issue with it.

We’ve written before about the Left’s Fascist cronyism. Soglin’s blood would boil, hearing the word applied to him. That’s tough. His actions define it.

Maybe next year?

With the crucial midterm congressional elections and Governor Walker’s anticipated re-election bid coming up in 2014, it would be nice to believe Wisconsin will finally be enforcing its Voter ID law the next time we trek to the polling place.

Last week the District IV Court of Appeals brought that outcome a bit closer to reality, reversing a Dane County judge who, just in time to prevent the law being applied for last year’s spring elections, ruled it unconstitutional in March 2012.

It took long enough, but the appellate court opinion is notable in that the District IV court is packed to the rafters with Madison Liberals, yet the plaintiff League of Women Voters got no traction.

Not bothering to back its argument with evidence, the League asserted that Voter ID is an unreasonably burdensome requirement. Underlining the childishness of the League’s argument, the court declined to opine “as to whether such an argument might have merit if supported by fact finding.” Inasmuch as “the League does not rely on any fact finding or evidentiary material,” its argument “falls short.”

The case was remanded to the circuit court, so further proceedings may ensue and there are three other challenges pending. Voter ID is far from set in stone.

But the District IV decision lays bare the absurd contention that verifying voter identity interferes with the right to vote. To the contrary, voter ID enhances the right to vote by ensuring that the voters are who they say they are, not someone bused in from a neighboring state.

The League might well learn the lesson that the right to vote includes the right to have some confidence that honest votes won’t be nullified by ineligible or fraudulent ones.

Here we go again…

If last week’s Milwaukee Business Journal story about high-speed rail wasn’t intended as a promotional piece, it came close enough.

Laggard Wisconsin, it seems, is letting its neighbor, Minnesota, do all the hard work figuring out how to run more trains on Amtrak’s Milwaukee-Twin Cities route that currently sees one trip daily.

Top speed is now 79 miles per hour, and upgrades could improve it to 110.  Of course, the train wouldn’t be moving at 110 all the time, any more than it now travels at 79 all the time. But let’s pretend.

Achieving maximum speed at all times, the Empire Builder could make the trip today in about five hours and 20 minutes. Adding the proposed upgrades could shorten the trip to three hours and 48 minutes. The question isn’t whether saving an hour and a half would be an improvement; the question is whether the improvement matters. Bear in mind that these travel times are fanciful, failing to account for stops along the way, stretches where maximum speed will never be achieved, and the overwhelming probability that the train will leave you miles from your destination unless you just wanted to go to the railroad depot.

In today’s reality, you have a six and-a-half hour trip before you start looking for a cab.

Minnesota bureaucrats probably have fewer reservations about this project since a quick look at an Amtrak schedule shows their state has only about half as many track miles as Wisconsin. And paying for high-speed rail is not something to be taken lightly.

We’ve actually had pleasant experiences traveling by train. But if, having enjoyed something, we were to conclude that everyone else should pay for it, we would be making no sense. We would be Liberals.

Different Tunes, Same Changes

Over the decades, American popular music has provided numerous examples of different lyrics and tunes built on identical sets of chord changes.  That’s worth remembering amid speculation over which Obama scandal might be most damaging to our beloved leader.

If it’s arguable that one scandal may have greater potential to run Barack Obama out of office, it’s equally arguable that none has that potential. And that’s a shame, because every one of them should. Each in its own way reveals an administration abusing its power for one clear and specific purpose: to make the American people shut up, stop asking questions, and quit interfering with the plan to make this a different country.

Not a country following a new and different path to shared aspirations; a country where you’d better do nothing before checking with the political boss.

If the bloody history of the 20th century taught us anything at all, it’s that for the Left to have any chance at long-term dominance, it must first create an environment in which competing opinions are silenced.

That is what spying on the Associated Press—an otherwise fully domesticated Obama lap dog—is all about. That is what the Internal Revenue Service sabotaging the apparatus of grassroots conservatism is all about. That’s what it’s all about when the leading lights of the administration concoct a tall story to disguise their revolting indifference toward the safety of Americans—their own employees—carrying out their policies far from home and surrounded by murderous barbarians.

Administrations of both parties have played dirty against political rivals. It’s unsavory but not generally a threat to basic liberties. This administration is different. This one regards Americans reading their Constitution as Enemy Number One, and the guys building bombs as a pesky annoyance.

Bureaucrats Gone Wild?

Do you know any career federal bureaucrats?  If so, do you find they are inclined toward bold, impulsive actions, heedless of consequence?

Put it another way:  Do you think a government that still maintains a national helium reserve so Navy dirigibles will be able to fight submarines is full of underlings carelessly committing criminal abuse of people’s tax information without making sure there won’t be any trouble from upstairs?

Along those same lines, we decline to apply the word “idiotic” to claims that IRS employees had no partisan purpose in harassing conservative organizations. That would be a slander against idiots.

Last week we suggested that the IRS’ disclosure of its own scandal—deciding out of thin air that a Bar Association Q&A session was the perfect occasion for casually copping to multiple felonies—might have been calculated to distract attention from something else; the Benghazi murders, for instance.

We were half joking, and also half right. The IRS disclosure was evidently calculated to draw attention away from—ITSELF!

The more that’s known, the more sinister the picture grows.  Friday brought the disclosure that an Iowa group applying for nonprofit status received an IRS demand to know the content of its members’ prayers.

The pattern revealing itself a little more each day can hardly come as a surprise.  A few years ago, we dissented from conservative friends who labeled Obama’s economic policies “socialism.” We argued that the administration’s modus operandi –coercing private businesses to become active agents of the Obama agenda—much more closely resembled fascism.

The resemblance, which is to say the methods, can now be seen to have spread far beyond economics and deep into the bureaucracy.