Trump, CNN and the First Amendment

James Freeman on the CNN lawsuit against the Trump administration:

Here’s how the lawsuit describes the scene as the President showed up to share his thoughts on Tuesday’s midterm elections:

President Trump delivered opening remarks and then invited questions from the media in attendance. Acosta, sitting in the front row, raised his hand. President Trump called on Acosta to “[g]o ahead” with a question. Acosta was one of the first reporters the President called on for questions.
Speaking through a hand-held microphone, as did all the White House journalists who asked questions, Acosta asked a question about one of President Trump’s statements during the midterm campaign—namely, whether a caravan making its way to the United States from Central America constitutes “an invasion” of the country, a significant feature of the President’s messaging during the just-ended campaign.
This is not an accurate rendering of what happened. A video recording of the event shows that after four reporters took their turns asking questions, the President called on Mr. Acosta, who made it clear that he would not simply be asking questions and seeking information as reporters do but intended to provide a rebuttal to recent comments made by the President. “I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign—in the midterms,” said the CNN commentator.

Mr. Acosta mentioned Mr. Trump’s characterization of the immigrant caravan making its way through Mexico as an “invasion.” At this point Mr. Acosta did not ask a question but simply issued a declaration. “As you know Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.,” said the CNN correspondent.

So instead of simply serving as a reporter Mr. Acosta chose to offer commentary—and according to standard dictionaries he was wrong. The large group of immigrants had crossed illegally into Mexico and plainly intended to illegally enter the U.S.

Mr. Acosta may think that an invasion must include a military force but Mr. Trump’s use of the word is common. Merriam-Webster defines invade as “to enter for conquest or plunder,” but also “to encroach upon” or “infringe.” Other dictionaries have similar definitions, such as “to intrude” or “violate.”

Having wrongly asserted that the caravan could not be called an invasion and wrongly asserted that Mr. Trump knew he was saying something untrue, Mr. Acosta then asked why Mr. Trump had done so and if he had “demonized” immigrants. Yes, Mr. Acosta was now asking a question, but doing so while demanding that the President accept a false premise.

Mr. Acosta then interrupted the President as he tried to answer. Then Mr. Acosta editorialized again:

“Your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on. But they’re not going to be doing that.”
Is Mr. Acosta now a spokesman for the caravan? After another interruption, Mr. Acosta insisted on continuing to talk after the President called on a reporter. Then Mr. Acosta fended off a White House intern as she attempted to retrieve the microphone to allow others to ask questions.

The First Amendment prevents the President or anyone else in the federal government from restricting the ability of citizens to report and publish. Does it also require the President to listen to ill-informed lectures for as long as the lecturers choose to speak? Obviously if everyone had the right to refuse to surrender the microphone at press conferences the result would be fewer members of the press corps having an opportunity to ask questions, not more.

But there’s something special about Mr. Acosta and about CNN, at least according to the lawsuit. The suit argues that special White House access not available to the general public is “essential” for reporters like Mr. Acosta, and that CNN is suffering from his absence, even though many other CNN staff still enjoy such access.

There are no doubt myriad online producers and reporters who would love to have the privileges enjoyed by CNN and its star commentator. But are Mr. Acosta and his network entitled to such privileges?


Presty the DJ for Nov. 19

The Supremes became the first all-girl group with a British number-one single today in 1964:

The Supremes had our number one single two years later:

The number one album today in 1994 was Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged in New York” …

… on the same day that David Crosby had a liver transplant to replace the original that was ruined by hepatitis C and considerable drug and alcohol use:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 19”

How to handle insults with grace

This first appeared on NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live”:

Rather than dwell on the social media storm of reaction, this ran one week later:

Crenshaw then wrote in the Washington Post:

The past couple of weeks have been unusual for me, to say the least. After a year of hard campaigning for Congress in Texas and gradually entering the public sphere, I was hit by a sudden, blinding spotlight. But I have no complaints — it wasn’t as bad as some other challenges I’ve faced, like a sudden, blinding IED explosion. (See what I did there? “Saturday Night Live” has created a comedic monster.)

On the Nov. 3 show, SNL’s Pete Davidson mocked my appearance — “he lost his eye in war . . . or whatever,” Davidson said, referring to the eye patch I wear. His line about my looking like a “hit man in a porno movie” was significantly less infuriating, albeit a little strange. I woke up on the Sunday morning after the show to hundreds of texts about what Davidson had said. A lot of America wasn’t happy. People thought some lines still shouldn’t be crossed.

I agreed. But I also could not help but note that this was another chapter in a phenomenon that has taken complete control of the national discourse: outrage culture. It seems like every not-so-carefully-worded public misstep must be punished to the fullest extent, replete with soapbox lectures and demands for apologies. Anyone who doesn’t show the expected level of outrage will be labeled a coward or an apologist for bad behavior. I get the feeling that regular, hard-working, generally unoffended Americans sigh with exhaustion — daily.

Was I really outraged by SNL? Really offended? Or did I just think the comment about losing my eye was offensive? There is a difference, after all. I have been literally shot at before, and I wasn’t outraged. Why start now?

So I didn’t demand an apology and I didn’t call for anyone to be fired. That doesn’t mean the “war . . . or whatever” line was acceptable, but I didn’t have to fan the flames of outrage, either. When SNL reached out with an apology and an offer to be on the show, I wasn’t fully sold on the idea. It was going to be Veterans Day weekend, after all, and I had events with veterans planned. I asked if another weekend might work. No, they said, precisely because it was Veterans Day, it would be the right time to send the right message. They assured me that we could use the opportunity to send a message of unity, forgiveness and appreciation for veterans. And to make fun of Pete Davidson, of course.

And that’s what we did. I was happy with how it worked out. But now what? Does it suddenly mean that the left and right will get along and live in utopian harmony? Maybe Saturday’s show made a tiny step in that direction, but I’m not naive. As a country, we still have a lot of work to do. We need to agree on some basic rules for civil discourse.

There are many ideas that we will never agree on. The left and the right have different ways of approaching governance, based on contrasting philosophies. But many of the ultimate goals — economic prosperity, better health care and education, etc. — are the same. We just don’t share the same vision of how to achieve them.

How, then, do we live together in this world of differing ideas? For starters, let’s agree that the ideas are fair game. If you think my idea is awful, you should say as much. But there is a difference between attacking an idea and attacking the person behind that idea. Labeling someone as an “-ist” who believes in an “-ism” because of the person’s policy preference is just a shortcut to playground-style name-calling, cloaked in political terminology. It’s also generally a good indication that the attacker doesn’t have a solid argument and needs a way to end debate before it has even begun.

Similarly, people too often attack not just an idea but also the supposed intent behind an idea. That raises the emotional level of the debate and might seem like it strengthens the attacker’s side, but it’s a terrible way to make a point. Assuming the worst about your opponents’ intentions has the effect of demonizing their ideas, removing the need for sound counter-reasoning and fact-based argument. That’s not a good environment for the exchange of ideas.

When all else fails, try asking for forgiveness, or granting it. On Saturday, Pete Davidson and SNL made amends. I had some fun. Everyone generally agreed that a veteran’s wounds aren’t fair game for comedy. Maybe now we should all try to work toward restoring civility to public debate.

The Post adds:

Dan Crenshaw’s good eye is good enough, but it’s not great. The iris is broken. The retina is scarred. He needs a special oversized contact lens, and bifocals sometimes, to correct his vision. Six years after getting blown up, he can still see a bit of debris floating in his cornea. His bad eye? Well, his bad eye is gone. Under his eye patch is a false eye that is deep blue. At the center of it, where a pupil should be, is the gold trident symbol of the Navy SEALs. It makes Dan Crenshaw look like a Guardian of the Galaxy.

But he can’t catch a baseball very well anymore. He misses plenty of handshakes; his arm shortchanges the reach, his palm fumbles the grip. He has trouble with dumb little tasks — he needs to touch a pitcher to a cup to properly pour a glass of water, for example. But nothing major. Nothing that would prevent him from coming out of nowhere, unknown and underfunded, to vanquish seven opponents in a Republican primary, then squash a state legislator in a runoff, and then on Tuesday, at age 34, win his first-ever general election to represent his native Houston area in Congress.

He’ll join a freshman class with two dozen other newly elected House members who are under 40 and, at least, 15 who are veterans. Yet, Crenshaw seems poised to stand out. His potent life story, his striking presence and his military and Ivy League credentials have set him up as a rising star for a Republican Party in bad need of one, after losing what could turn out to be three dozen seats once the dust settles.

Thirty-six hours after his election-night triumph, Crenshaw still hadn’t caught up on sleep. There was some stale cake sitting in his campaign office, and he was juggling phone calls and a haircut he was going to be late for. He just left a luncheon with business leaders and was due early the next morning for a veterans ceremony. In two days, he would make a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” before heading to Capitol Hill for a two-week orientation.

A whirlwind to everyone else, it seemed, but not him.

“It’s life,” Crenshaw said, sitting at a conference table in his Houston office last week. “It’s not a challenge.” He was the picture of calm. The eye patch was off. The gold trident sparkled. Behind him was a large framed photo of Ronald Reagan. Ahead of him was the next mission. ..

Crenshaw’s father’s career in the oil and gas industry took the family to Ecuador and Colombia, where Crenshaw went to high school and learned Spanish. Captivated as a child by the SEAL memoir “Rogue Warrior,” he was commissioned as a naval officer in 2006 and underwent SEAL training, fracturing his tibia during its infamous “hell week” but completing the challenge on his second go-round. He deployed twice to Iraq and then, in 2012, to Afghanistan.

On June 15, 2012, when Crenshaw was 28, he and his platoon helicoptered into Helmand province on a last-minute mission to support a Marine Special Operations unit. At the time, Helmand was littered with improvised explosive devices. Bombs were so present in some areas that it was safer to crouch in place during oncoming fire — and wager on a sniper’s uncertain aim — than to dive for cover onto uncertain ground.

While Crenshaw’s platoon moved to secure a compound, an Afghan interpreter named Raqman, who wanted to become a Navy SEAL himself, responded to a call and crossed in front of Crenshaw. Raqman stepped on a pressure plate, triggering 15 pounds of explosives and suffering fatal injuries. Crenshaw, who was a couple of paces back, said he felt like he was hit by a truck while a firing squad shot at him. He was on the ground and his eyes were numb. The rest of his body screamed like it had been scratched open and doused in Tabasco. He reached down and felt his legs. Good sign. He had no vision, but assumed his eyes were just filled with dirt.

A medic friend began assessing the damage.

“Dude, don’t ever get blown up,” Crenshaw said to him. “It really sucks.”

He refused to be carried on a stretcher, because he didn’t want to expose comrades to enemy fire for no good reason. He walked to a medical evacuation, where he was put into a coma. He woke up in Germany a few days later, blind and swollen. The remains of his right eye had been surgically removed; eventually a copper wire would be pulled out of his left. Doctors said there was a chance he might see again, but, for Crenshaw, it was a certainty. Seeing again became his mission, and that sense of mission helped him endure the hallucinations, the surgeries, the weeks he had to spend — face down and sightless — while his eye healed, and the two years it took for a medical bureaucracy to get him to a place of relative comfort. He remembered how his mother, who died of cancer when he was 10, never complained during her five-year struggle with the illness. He held fast to his sense that life is about mission: You need one to live and to live productively.

Just over a year after his injury, he married his longtime girlfriend, Tara.

He deployed twice more, to Bahrain and South Korea, as troop commander of an intelligence team.

In various commendations, the Navy cited him for his “zealous initiative,” “wise judgment” and “unswerving determination.” Medically retired in 2016, Crenshaw then earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

In 2017, he returned to Houston — for the first significant chunk of time since he was a child — to help with recovery after Hurricane Harvey.

While Crenshaw was looking for a policy job on Capitol Hill, an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) took one look at him and, before they even sat down to talk, told him to run for office. The day before, Rep. Ted Poe (R) had announced his retirement from Texas’s second district, which starts in Houston and curves around the city like a tadpole. It was kismet.

“He said he wanted to run for office one day, but wanted to get policy experience first,” said a Capitol Hill aide who ended up advising the campaign (and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly). “I was like, ‘Have you paid attention to some of the people we have up here? You don’t need that.’ . . . And he went all in. It’s the SEAL ethos. It was amazing to watch.”

The campaign started in November 2017, four months before the Republican primary.

“I had never heard of him before he arrived. I would venture to say most people had never heard of him,” said Vlad Davidiuk, communications director for the Harris County Republican Party. “The district has changed demographically, and is no longer as solid red as it used to be. It required a candidate who was willing to campaign hard . . . What distinguished Dan Crenshaw most is his ability to engage with voters.”

Over five days in February, Crenshaw laced up his sneakers and ran 100 miles through the district, campaigning along the way. Thanks to a surge in day-of voting for the crowded primary, he sneaked into second place by 155 votes, besting an opponent who had spent millions of her personal fortune. By then, his personal story was resonating. His face was recognizable and symbolic.

Most Texas Republicans aren’t very exciting, said Mark P. Jones, a political-science professor at Rice University in Crenshaw’s district. “None of them are very compelling or appealing. They’re just sort of random old white dudes, and Dan Crenshaw was something new and different.”

He had schooled himself on border security, health care and flood-control issues — a big concern for a region still smarting from Harvey. He met with engineers to discuss infrastructure and with young Republicans to energize new voters. More than one yard in the district was adorned with both a Crenshaw sign and a “BETO” sign, in allegiance to Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (whom Crenshaw outperformed by 12 percentage points in Harris County).

“He’s just tenacious,” Poe said of the man who will be his successor. “I don’t think folks are going to know what to do when he gets [to Washington], and I mean that in a good way.”

In a 2015 Facebook post flagged by one of his opponents, Crenshaw called candidate Donald Trump an idiot and referred to his rhetoric on Muslims as “insane,” according to the Texas Tribune. Three years later, Crenshaw says he supports the president’s policies, save for the trade warfare, but prefers to comport himself in a manner that is the total opposite of the commander in chief’s.

“His style is not my style,” Crenshaw says. “I’ll just say that. It’s never how I would conduct myself. But what readers of The Washington Post need to understand is that conservatives can hold multiple ideas in their head at the same time. We can be like, ‘Wow he shouldn’t have tweeted that’ and still support him . . . You can disapprove of what the president says every day, or that day, and still support his broader agenda.”

On Tuesday, he was the only true bright spot for the GOP in Harris County, where O’Rourke’s candidacy brought Democrats to the polls and flushed out Republicans down the ballot. Crenshaw won 53 percent of the vote, but reached out to the other 47 percent during his victory speech in downtown Houston.

“This life, this purpose, this American spirit that we hold dear — we are not alone,” he said, sharing the mission: “We do it together.”

Life imitates art, motor vehicle department

Some time ago I wrote about a Hot Wheels car, the Overbored 454, that prompted my semi-fascination.

Click on the link and you can read my speculation over which Chevrolet (obviously since Chevy designed the 454, and the 454 is still available from GM in crate engine form) the Overbored 454 was supposed to emulate.

Then came this photo from Holz Motors in Hales Corners via Facebook Friend Chad Millard …

… which certainly looks a lot like the Hot Wheels car (minus the hood actually covering the engine):

The real car is a Hot Wheels edition Chevy Camaro SS, about which the Chicago Tribune writes:

Back when the days were long and the years were endless, back when time was on my side, I used to line up two lanes of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, running from the family room to unknown roadways. A few decades later my kids did the same thing on the window sills overlooking our city street. We are not alone. There is something magical about a toy car, how it transports you through time and space, through reality and imagination.

The Hot Wheels package on the 2018 Chevy Camaro is the same kind of time machine. Instead of fantasizing about all the driving freedoms of adulthood in a die-cast toy, the real-life Camaro V-8 powers you through the nostalgia of youth. At least that’s the premise of the $4,995 package celebrating 50 years of Hot Wheels history.

The Custom Camaro was the first of the inaugural class of 16 Hot Wheels to be sold in 1968. It had a racing stripe and mag wheels. The 2018 Camaro 2SS features a black racing stripe bisected by an orange strip the width of a Hot Wheels track. The orange Crush exterior also evokes the toy’s racing track. It has special 20-inch satin graphic, or black, wheels that unfortunately do not have the five-spoke mag wheels with red stripe slicks of the toy version.

Hot Wheels badging adorns the fenders, illuminated door sills, and steering wheel. Orange stitching, orange brake calipers and other orange elements keep occupants in a Hot Wheels state of mind.

But the real charm is the 2SS Camaro itself. The 455-horsepower 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine — same as in America’s supercar, the Corvette — is a bruising, chest-thumping beast of burden. The engine note is a national anthem of engineering prowess, thanks in part to the dual-model performance exhaust ($895). There is a quiet or stealth mode to activate valves in the exhaust, so cruising around the neighborhood need not be obnoxious. But like any big dog, it begs to be let loose.

This most powerful Camaro SS ever, according to Chevy, hits 60 mph in 4 seconds with the eight-speed automatic. With the six-speed manual in the test car, Chevy estimates 4.3 seconds. That’s the penalty for rowing your own and thinking man is better than machine.

The manual is worth the penalty. The gear stick manual is short and stubby, the shifting quick and direct. Unless you’re easy on the throttle. In an attempt to save fuel, at light throttle from a stop, as you shift to second, the car will redirect it to fourth. First to fourth is nothing I got used to in my week with the car. It could be a problem if you’re turning right or left from a stop sign and need to jump into the far lane to beat traffic then have a sudden lack of power. Then just start in second. Active rev matching paddles help to keep downshifts smooth.

The rear-wheel drive handling is composed; you can wag the rear with much more control than the buffoons in V-8 Mustangs crashing out of cars and coffee events all over YouTube. We weren’t able to track it but spent plenty of time on and off ramps grinning like lottery winners. It’s been over a year since we last drove the Mustang, so memory may favor the fresh, but the overall handling was more confidence-inspiring than the other muscle cars. At a decade old and aging, the Challenger is just so big and heavy. Camaro could be pushed harder, faster, better than Mustang and Challenger. And the steering wheel feels as if it were made for your hands.

The inside feels as if you got microsized inside one of those Hot Wheels, though. The high beltline and low roofline make for small windows and poor visibility, which has become as synonymous with Camaro as muscle cars are with midlife crisis. But the outside is striking enough to stand the test of time, as it has for classic Z28s. Tradeoffs.

Once inside, the cramped cabin sort of perfects itself. All the controls are within effortless reach so the driver can stay snug in the seat. The center console is thick, the seats narrow, but the orange stitching and uncluttered dash with circular vents maintains that Hot Wheels state of mind. GM’s layered vehicle info display takes a minute to understand but then it’s very easy to use, as is the touch screen and voice commands. The head-up display is excellent as well.

The rear seats are more for storage or for folding down than sitting anyone; toss your phone back there if the cupholders are in use. The trunk is huge, but the opening small. We had to jam our hockey bag in like we were stuffing our foot in a skate for the first time all season. Once inside there is plenty of depth for golf bags, suitcases, and the two passengers that couldn’t fit in the rear seats.

The Hot Wheels package may seem like an unnecessary money grab for a vehicle about to get refreshed for 2019, but all the little easter eggs, badging and Hot Wheels track elements are reminders of a time when dreams were only as big as the imagination. Camaro is the payoff to all those Hot Wheels-inspired dreams.

This is not an Overbored 454; it’s a Not-Overbored 376, but the Camaro’s 455 horsepower is five more than the most powerful 454 Chevy ever offered in a car, the LS-6 454 in the 1970 Malibu SS. (And that may have been an underestimate, since insurance companies were getting nervous about horsepower.) That same year Chevy claimed it offered an LS-7 454, with reported 465 horsepower, in the Corvette, though the LS-7 was never actually built for a Corvette.

That’s the Hot Wheels SS. In case you find 450 horsepower insufficient …

… you could upgrade to the ZL1, with 200 additional horsepower thanks to its turbocharger.

Another potential similarity with the Corvette is that you can get the ZL1 without its (suitable only for the height-challenged) back seat. I think the Overbored 454 lacks a back seat.


Presty the DJ for Nov. 16

The number one single today in 1959:

The number one single today in 1963:

Since a new Billboard Hot 100 list came out today, this was the number one single six days later, when John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to Dallas.

The number one album today in 1968 was the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Electric Ladyland”:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 16”

As if big government really ever goes away

M.D. Kittle:

Gov.-elect Tony Evers made a lot of promises on the campaign trail – promises the Republican-controlled Legislature likely won’t cash. 

Still, as head of the executive branch Evers could have the ability to go around the Legislature in a number of instances, and he will hold one of the most powerful veto pens in the nation. 

The Democrat offered few plans, and even fewer details, on the trail. But many of Evers’ ideas would expand government, excise landmark reforms, and generally force Wisconsin taxpayers to depart with more of their hard-earned money. 

He campaigned on a commitment to ensure state government is a “responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” but if Evers gets even some of what he wants the cost of the incoming governor’s promises could really add up. 

On Foxconn 

Foxconn could be the Democrat’s first fight. Candidate Evers has often criticized the state’s economic development deal with the Taiwan-based high tech manufacturer. The contract offers $2.85 billion in state tax incentives in exchange for Foxconn delivering on its pledge to build a massive manufacturing complex in Racine County that is expected to create as many as 13,000 jobs. 

Final terms of the unprecedented agreement were hammered out by the man Evers narrowly beat in this month’s general election, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his economic development agency — the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC). 

Evers has talked in more nebulous terms about holding “Foxconn’s feet to the fire.” What that will mean for the largest economic development deal of its kind in U.S. history remains to be seen. There is debate over what regulation-friendly Evers could do to existing and future state permits for the project. 

State. Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon) said Republicans aren’t taking anything for granted. 

“It’s something we need to explore very seriously to make sure such a great opportunity for economic development continues down the path,” Craig told MacIver News Service last week on the Jay Weber Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN.

It sounds like protecting the Foxconn deal is on the table for a proposed special legislative session in the coming weeks, before the new governor steps in. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has been the lead voice of Republican resistance to any changes Evers contemplates on the Foxconn deal. Vos’ district is the home of the production campus, a project expected to cost $10 billion. 

“We are not going to allow Tony Evers to come in and screw up the Foxconn package,” Vos told the Racine Journal Times. “I will never let that happen. It is too important to our region, it is too important to our state and I feel like we already, in good faith, negotiated and worked on this deal with one of the world’s largest corporations … (B)ecause we had an election doesn’t mean Wisconsin is going back on its word.” 

But the governor-elect holds administrative powers that are not the domain of the Legislature. Evers could use that authority to bring back more red tape at the Department of Natural Resources, among other oversight agencies.

“I can’t give you a guarantee that that project won’t be impacted by an executive branch that wants to do it harm,” Craig said. 

WEDC in the crosshairs 

Evers has pledged to go after the way Wisconsin has done business with business under Walker, whose oft-repeated slogan is that the Badger State is, “Open for business.” The incoming governor has said he would disband the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the quasi-public agency Walker and the Republican Legislature created to replace the old state Department of Commerce. WEDC has had its problems, but the Commerce Department was riddled with cronyism and bureaucratic failures. 

Craig said several conservative lawmakers ran in 2010 and ’11 on getting rid of the old Commerce Department. 

“We need to make sure we don’t go back toward that type of system where you have cozy relationships that was constantly occurring between political allies (and) using tax dollars to manipulate how the economy works,” the senator said. 

Medicaid money and lawsuits

Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, also a Democrat, have each said they would end Wisconsin’s involvement in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has helped lead the litigation that argues that Obamacare failed to meet constitutional muster once Congress ended the tax penalty for the individual mandate.

Schimel has taken aim at what he describes as Obamacare’s irrational design,” arguing that it “wreaks havoc on health insurance markets.”

“I bring this challenge to Obamacare because, as Wisconsin’s attorney general, I swore to uphold the rule of law and protect our state from overreaching and harmful actions from the federal government,” Schimel said in February upon filing the lawsuit. 

For Schimel, the litigation raises a key constitutional question. For Kaul, it appears the constitution is secondary to protecting the left’s sacred – and failed – health care system.

Health care was the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds this campaign season, according to a Marquette University Law School poll released late last month. 

Evers has said Wisconsin should take the “free” federal money under Obamacare to expand Medicaid coverage in the state. Walker has repeatedly rejected the funds because they come with a lot of regulatory strings and will end up mandating the state cover at least 10 percent of the additional spending. 

The inconvenient truth for progressives is that expanding Medicaid has been a costly proposition for taxpayers, costing some truly in need the medical benefits they could use. Exhibit A: Minnesota.

While liberals like to cheer the Minnesota model of Medicaid expansion, the Gopher State’s utopia fable fails to take into account how much taxpayer cash Wisconsin’s neighbor to the west had to pump into the system to prop up Minnesota liberals’ full embrace of Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion.  

Premiums headed into 2017 were expected to increase by a staggering 50-67 percent, as opposed to Wisconsin’s 16 percent hike. As a result, Minnesota was forced to come up with $300 million to bail out 123,000 struggling Minnesotans who did not qualify for federal Obamacare subsidies.

The bloodletting of Minnesota taxpayers didn’t stop there. The following year, the Minnesota legislature spent an additional $542 million to establish a reinsurance program to hold down costs. Wisconsin recently enacted a similar reinsurance program, but the cost to state taxpayers is expected to be a fraction of that, about $34 million. Premiums are expected go down an average of 3.5 percent thanks to the program, which garnered federal approval earlier this year. Walker administration officials are confident the bill can be paid for by finding savings in the state’s behemoth Medicaid program.

Wisconsin’s new governor, it appears, will be leading the charge to grab up the federal cash, and the ever-increasing tab will go to Badger State taxpayers. 

 $15. Minimum. 

As MacIver News Service reported last month, Evers backs Big Labor’s push for a $15 minimum wage in Wisconsin. Standing next to avowed socialist Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally, Evers upped the rhetorical ante, asserting that Wisconsin would be “going to $15 an hour minimum. Minimum.” He later said he could see the increase in place by the end of his first term. 

Liberals insist raising Wisconsin’s $7.25-per-hour minimum wage (the same as the federal minimum rate) is long overdue. Industry experts and a growing body of research warn a hike would increase consumer prices and diminish economic opportunity for younger and low-skilled workers, the very people Democrats insist they are trying to help. Doing so could ultimately hamper Wisconsin’s booming economy, which has recorded historically low unemployment and rising wages for the better part of a year. Ultimately, a slowdown would take a bite out of the state’s tax revenue. 

The Legislature, powered by huge Republican majorities, isn’t likely to support a minimum wage increase, and certainly not the Fight for $15’s call to double Wisconsin’s minimum wage. 

Boosting education spending

It’s not surprising that Evers, the superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction, would propose a big boost in public education spending. The long-time bureaucrat has never met a school spending increase he didn’t like. What Evers would like to see is a $1.4 billion increase for Wisconsin schools. That’s a 10 percent raise in school funding, more than doubling Walker’s $639 million increase in the current two-year budget — the largest ed budget increase in state history.

Evers campaigned on returning Wisconsin’s school funding system to mid-1990s levels, meaning a fuller commitment from the state. He claims that his plan won’t cost more, but with a $15.4 billion biennial spending proposal it’s hard to imagine how taxpayers wouldn’t take a hit. 

Prison release

Perhaps to placate the left’s increasingly demanding social justice warriors, Evers has expressed his goal of cutting in half Wisconsin’s prison population. During a primary debate, the candidate called it a “goal worth accomplishing.” Evers backs opening the cell door to “nonviolent” offenders, but to achieve a 50 percent reduction experts say some of Wisconsin’s violent prisoners would have to be cut loose. 

Big Labor’s governor

Unions have contributed heavily to the Democrat’s bid for the governor’s seat, and it would appear Evers will reward that support. In his campaign literature, the governor-elect said he will work to, “Repeal changes (Republicans) made in Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws that simply take money out of Wisconsin’s workers’ pockets.”

Wisconsin’s previous prevailing wage statute, which tied wages on taxpayer-funded construction projects to inflated rates paid by unions, was repealed for local projects in the 2015-17 state budget in a compromise. Walker signed legislation last year that repealed the union-led, artificial wages for state projects. The changes allow markets to set wage rates for local construction projects, saving taxpayers from the well-documented cost overruns.

Big labor wants a reversal on another workplace law, and Evers sounds like he will do his best to oblige. In 2015, Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state in the nation when Walker signed the worker freedom legislation into law. 

Evers opposes the law, which prohibits private-sector companies from imposing compulsory union membership and dues as a condition of employment. Three and a half years later, some unions appear to be disregarding or down-right violating protections granted, as MacIver News Service investigations have uncovered.

Republican legislative leadership has discussed limiting Evers’ executive authority, power the GOP-controlled Legislature in many cases handed over to Walker when he began his first term in 2011. Lawmakers could take up some measures in a special session in the coming weeks.

The governor-elect last week fired back.

“Let me be clear: the Republicans and Speaker Vos should stop any and all attempts to play politics and weaken the powers of the governor’s office in Wisconsin before I take the oath,” Evers tweeted. 

Such a move isn’t unprecedented. Democrats attempted to do the same in late 2010 before Walker took over the governor’s office. Their lame-duck-session campaign to pass several public employee protections failed when a couple of Democrats refused to toe the party line. 

There is one problem with Kittle’s premise. There are really no signs that government got smaller in Walker’s eight years in office. Taxes are lower (though not enough reduced), but is employee headcount smaller? Is spending less? (Not when a governor brags about “historic” increases in education spending.) How many regulations were eliminated instead of merely rewritten? Was regulatory power taken from the state and moved to counties or municipalities or eliminated entirely? Shifting power (from, say, teacher unions to school district administrators, which answer to elected school boards, as Act 10 did) is not necessarily reducing the size and scope of government.

Did the Legislature pass and voters approve a Taxpayer Bill of Rights establishing constitutional limits on spending and taxes? For all the sturm und drang over Act 10, maybe Walker should have gone bigger and, as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels did, issued an executive order, or persuaded the Legislature to pass a law, banning public employee unions. What more could have happened? Recall attempts against Republicans?

Many worthy things took place while Walker was governor — tax cuts, Act 10 and concealed carry, to name three. But to assert that Democrats’ taking over the executive branch of state government is a return to bigger government assumes that government shrank under Walker, when it didn’t.

Stupid student tricks

James Wigderson:

The latest internet outrage du jour is the photo of a bunch of boys from Baraboo High School posing for a photo before prom while possibly giving the Nazi salute.

From some accounts, the students were asked by the photographer Pete Gust to give the salute in the photo and most students complied. Gust claims he told the students to wave goodbye, but supposedly understands why the photo was interpreted the way it was. At least one of the students publicly disagrees with Gust’s statement.

We’re going to use a lot of “supposedly” here because none of us were there, and none of us are mind readers. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation on the supposed origins of the photo and the sudden supposed appearance of anti-Semitism in Baraboo.

One of the favorite targets of suspicion is the President of the United States. Esquire is the model of this. “The gap between trollism and Trumpism online is increasingly hard to distinguish, particularly among the kind of young people who joined the movement through 4chan or Reddit,” Jack Holmes wrote for the website. “But when the president speaks, the kids are listening.”

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), who represents the area in Madison, was even more direct.

“There is no place for hatred, intolerance and racism in our society. Unfortunately, based on what these students see coming from the White House, some of them may believe what they have done is acceptable,” Erpenbach said. “It is absolutely not. Leaders, from the President on down, need to condemn racism in all its forms and work toward a world where we learn from the mistakes of history.”

However, the ready answer that Baraboo is a den of Trump-loving, Alt-Right Anti-Semites just isn’t true. The city of Baraboo voted 55 percent to 45 percent for Hillary Clinton and gave nearly 60 percent of the vote to former Sen. Russ Feingold in 2016. The city repeated that performance in 2018 by voting for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), Governor-elect Tony Evers (D-Madison), Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul (D-Madison), and so on.

Unless Erpenbach has been hiding his true politics from his fellow Democrats, he’s a pretty fair example of Madison-style liberalism, yet Baraboo is a bastion of support, too, for the state senator.

However, if Erpenbach is right that political leadership is responsible for the supposed behavior of the Boys from Baraboo in the photo, perhaps he should look at the supporters within the Democratic Party for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) targeting Israel, or the amount of contributions his party receives from J-Street lobbyists who promote a foreign policy hostile to Israel’s security interests. We’re looking forward to hearing the results of his phone calls to Baldwinand Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI02), who represents Baraboo in Congress, on that subject.

As for the photographer, Pete Gust, who was supposedly the responsible adult taking the photo, he was a regional director for the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state teachers union, hardly supporters of the Alt-Right and Trump. (By the way, how did Gust get the contract to be the photographer for the event?)

If Gust is correct that the photo was supposedly the children waving goodbye, it’s a shame that he wasn’t faster in getting that side of the story out. The children, and they are children, are already suffering the repercussions of Gust’s photo.

However, if Gust was trying to take the photo he described and some students hijacked the photo instead with the Nazi salute, he still had the obligation as the responsible adult to a) not take the photo, b) tell the students to knock it off, and c) not publish the damn photo online. And if Gust really did encourage the students to make the salute, then he’s the one responsible and will likely be the target of lawsuits, especially from the parents of students who have lost scholarships and other opportunities as a result of the photo.

There is also a lack of responsibility on the part of the media, too, which went with the story – spreading the Boys from Baraboo worldwide – before contacting Gust for what actually happened. Whether Gust’s story should be believed, the media had a responsibility to actually ask him first what happened before running with the too-good-to-check story that fits the editorial narrative of “Trump’s America.” (Of course, they could have also did the research to find out that Baraboo is actually Clinton’s America, too, but that would have made the story less interesting to the media.)

As for the children themselves, they’re learning a harsh lesson that is probably unintended by their persecutors – internet hysteria works to destroy people. Many of these children will probably be haunted by this photo for the rest of their lives even though the responsible adult on site was the one who let them down.

This is not the first time these kids were let down by the responsible adults. If the students indeed were raising their arms in a Nazi salute, then clearly the school district did a poor job of educating them about the horrors of the Holocaust.

But this is hardly surprising in a high school that scored a 59 on student achievement on the most recent Department of Public Instruction report card, or “meets few expectations.” That roughly compares to a grade of D. The school district has asked the police to investigate the photo incident. Instead of looking for a Gregory Peck-like figure trying to create little Hitler clones, the detective work should start in the history classrooms of Baraboo to see what little Johnny is reading, if he can read at all.

Presty the DJ for Nov. 15

Today in 1925, RCA took over the 25-station AT&T network plus WEAF radio in New York …

… making today the birthday of the original NBC radio network:

Today in 1965, the Rolling Stones made their U.S. TV debut on ABC’s “Hullabaloo”:

Today in 1966, the Doors agreed to release “Break on Through” as their first single, removing the word “high” to get radio airplay:

The number one single today in 1980:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 15”