Category: Wisconsin politics

The costs of the coronavirus

I guarantee you no one in the Evers (mis)administration has read this, from Heather Mac Donald:

Less than 24 hours after California governor Gavin Newsom closed ‘non-essential’ businesses and ordered Californians to stay inside to avoid spreading the coronavirus, New York governor Andrew Cuomo followed suit. ‘This is about saving lives,’ Cuomo said during a press conference on Friday. ‘If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.’

Cuomo’s assertion that saving ‘just one life’ justifies an economic shutdown raises questions that have not been acknowledged, much less answered, as public officials across the country compete to impose ever more draconian anti-virus measures:

  • Is there any limit to the damage we are willing inflict on the world economy to mitigate the infection?
  • What are the benefits of each new commerce-killing measure and how do they compare to the costs?
  • What are the criteria for declaring success in the coronavirus fight and who decides whether they have been met?

To ask about the costs and benefits of the spreading economic shutdowns guarantees an accusation of heartlessness. But the issue is not human compassion versus alleged greed. The issue is balancing one target of compassion against another. The millions of people whose lives depend on a functioning economy also deserve compassion. Many of the businesses that are now being shuttered by decree will never come back. They do not have the reserves to survive weeks or months without customers. In New York City, many streets were already blighted by rows of empty storefronts. The virus shutdown could knock out the remaining enterprises, as customers acclimate themselves further to ordering on-line. Layoffs are piling up in restaurants, hotels, and malls; on Tuesday, unemployment claims in California were 40 times above the daily average, an increase greater than any coronavirus surge.

It is low-wage employees who are most being hurt. The knowledge class can shelter in place and work from their home computers. Their employers are not shutting down. Not so people who physically provide goods and services. The employees who have been let off now may not be able to find work again if the economy continues to collapse. While governors and mayors declare some businesses essential and some not, to their employees, they are all essential.

A prolonged depression will stunt lives as surely as any viral epidemic, and its toll will not be confined to the elderly. The shuttering of auto manufacturing plants led to an 85 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in the surrounding counties over seven years, according to a recent study. Radical social upheaval is possible.

The arts world is being decimated. For the last two years the New York Times and other left-wing newspapers have been bashing the boards of major cultural institutions for being too white and too male. Those institutions had better hope that their ‘non-diverse’ trustees feel flush enough after the $5 trillion loss in the stock market to bail them out.

While the coming explosion of deficit spending — possibly $2 trillion worth — may be necessary to keep people afloat, government cannot possibly replicate the wealth-creating effects of voluntary commerce. The enormously complex web of trade, once killed, cannot be brought back to life by government stimulus. And who is going to pay for all that deficit spending as businesses close and tax revenues disappear?

Pace Cuomo, it is not the case that saving even one life justifies any and every policy. Decision-making is always about trade-offs. About 16,000 Americans are murdered each year. That number could be radically lowered by locking up known gangbangers and throwing away the key. The left in America, however, is on a crusade to empty the prisons and stop enforcing a host of criminal laws. Some of the de-incarcerated and decriminalized will go on to maim and murder. An influential criminologist once acknowledged to me that lowering prison sentences in order to end so-called mass incarceration would inevitably mean that ‘some guy will throw a little old lady off the roof’. The answer is not to back off of de-incarceration, he said, it is to explain that the community in the aggregate is safer with resources diverted into social programs instead of incarceration. That is a perfectly defensible line of argument, regardless of whether one agrees with the particulars in this case.

Around 40,000 Americans die each year in traffic deaths. We could save not just one life but tens of thousands by lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on all highways and roads. We tolerate the highway carnage because we value the time saved from driving fast more. Another estimated 40,000 Americans have died from the flu this flu season. Social distancing policies would have reduced that toll as well, but until now we have preferred freedom of association and movement.

So it is worth reviewing what we know and don’t know about the coronavirus epidemic to assess the benefits and costs of the growing policies. The rising number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is undoubtedly a function to a considerable extent of increased testing. We don’t know its transmission rate. We don’t know how much shutting down restaurants and air travel lowers that transmission rate. We still have no idea what the virus fatality rate is, since we don’t know how many people in the general population are infected. Early fatality estimates were undoubtedly too high, since they were derived from a small denominator composed of already identified, severe cases.

The only situation to date where an entire, closed population was tested was the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, as Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis observed last week. Among seven hundred passengers and crew members, seven died, for a 1 percent mortality rate — low given the close and prolonged exposure among the passengers. A cruise ship’s population is much more elderly than the general population and thus more vulnerable to disease. Ioannidis suggests that a reasonable fatality estimate for the US population as a whole could range from 0.05 percent to 1 percent; he settles for 0.3 percent. If 1 percent of the US population becomes infected, under a 0.3 percent fatality rate, 10,000 people would die, a number that would not move the needle much on the existing level of deaths due to various types of influenzas, Ioannidis notes.

Those fatalities would be highly concentrated among the elderly and the already severely sick. In Italy, as of March 17, there were 17 virus deaths under the age of 50, out of a little over 2,000 total deaths. Eighty-eight percent of those deaths were concentrated in just two adjacent regions — Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna — out of 20 regions, rather than being spread throughout the country. Five males between the ages of 31 and 39 had died, all had serious preexisting conditions including cardiovascular and renal disease, diabetes, and obesity. The fatality rate for those under 30 was zero. The median age of Italy’s COVID-19 decedents was 80.5. They had a median of 2.7 pre-existing health conditions: 33 percent had coronary artery disease, 76 percent suffered from hypertension, 35 percent were diabetic, and 20 percent had had cancer in the last five years. Just 3 decedents had no pre-existing conditions.

Italy’s demographics are different from our own — it is an older population with a high concentration of Chinese workers, especially in the north. On February 1, the mayor of Florence called on Italians to hug a Chinese person to fight virus-induced racism. According to a propaganda video put out by the Chinese government, many Italians complied. Nevertheless, American virus deaths so far mirror the pattern of Italy: geographically clustered in three states and concentrated among the elderly or those with serious chronic medical conditions. In South Korea, too, deaths have hit the elderly, whereas as many as 99 percent of all infections have been mild.

Nevertheless, government authorities at the federal, state, and local levels are seizing powers unheard of in peace or even wartime. Many on the left want an even greater assumption of power. Michael Dorf, a Cornell University law professor, has urged the suspension of habeas corpus, to eliminate the possibility of a legal challenge to a national lockdown. It’s hard to avoid the impression that some see the current moment as a warm-up for their wish-list of sweeping economic interventions.

The New York Times has touted the benefits of social distancing and curtailed commerce for global warming and air pollution. ‘Never waste even a tragic crisis,’ the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at University of Minnesota told the Times with reference to global warming policy. (This is the same sage, Dr Michael Osterholm, who early on criticized President Trump’s prescient travel ban from China as more of an emotional or political reaction than a sound public health one.) European leftists are noting with delight that large-scale state intrusion into the economy is being normalized. Times columnist Farhad Manjoo gloated that ‘everyone’s a socialist in a pandemic’. Actually, we had better hope that everyone’s a capitalist, since it is the extraordinary flexibility and fecundity of America’s private businesses that are continuing to restock grocery shelves after the panicked hordes strip them bare. It is private businesses that are retooling themselves to produce much-needed medical equipment.

The press is working overtime to ensure maximum hysteria. The New York Times outdid itself on Saturday, following a weeklong run of terrifying front-page banner headlines. A blood red map of the US above the fold purported to show infections by July 1 if no restrictions were imposed on public life — a completely counterfactual projection, since numerous restrictions have already been imposed and more are being added daily. The headlines above the fold contained the usual blend of Trump-bashing and fear-mongering: ‘PRESSURE ON TRUMP AS MILLIONS ARE KEPT HOME’, ‘Mixed Signals From President Sow Confusion’, and ‘Virus Tightens Grip on Nation’. This at a time of 214 deaths and 17,000 infected, compared to the 36 to 51 million infected by the flu this season, and the 140 to 350 flu deaths a day.

‘America plunged into a deeper state of disruption and paralysis on Friday,’ opened the lead story. But that disruption and paralysis were man-made, caused by the stay at home orders, not by the actual medical consequences of the pandemic. It was not the virus that was tightening its grip on the nation, it was policy and fear.

To be sure, we are facing a daunting public health challenge. Thousands will die; every death will be a harrowing loss for the victim’s family. Our medical personnel are already being severely taxed; they deserve proper equipment and facilities. The government is right to coordinate and boost the effort to supply them with desperately needed protective gear. But the rush to impose sweeping restrictions on public and commercial life across the entire economy should be more carefully evaluated. We have no ability to test the efficacy of those measures and no criteria for lifting them. The downside risk to their being over-inclusive could well outweigh the upside risk.

Moreover, a certain percentage of social distancing is virtue theater. While the elites stay at home and carefully maintain their cordons sanitaires, they expect their food and other necessities to magically materialize from a vast and complex supply chain whose degree of social distancing is out of sight and out of mind.

We should focus our efforts on our known vulnerable populations — the elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them. The elderly should be protected from unknown contacts. Nursing homes must be immaculately maintained. But until there is clear evidence that canceling commerce is essential to preventing mass casualties, the stampede of shutdown oneupmanship should end.

And we know no one employed by Evers reads M.D. Kittle:

The economic casualties are piling up in the wake of Gov. Tony Evers’ restrictive orders shutting down business and sending workers home. 

And things are about to get much worse with Evers’ broad Emergency Order #12 going into effect. 

Jobless claims in the Badger State have soared, with north of 100,000 people filing for unemployment benefits between March 15 and 23, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. There were some 21,000 claims filed on Monday alone. 

That was before Evers’ latest order that requires all “non-essential” businesses to shut down and for “non-essential” workers to stay at home to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus. The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, is tentatively scheduled to lift at 8 a.m. April 24. 

“We’ll be following the rules, but nobody can afford to shut down for 30 days,” Frank Irvine, owner of a  Play It Again Sports franchise in Eau Claire told the Leader-Telegram. Irvine, like so many other Badger State businesses, has been forced to cut staffing and hours. 

As employers urge lawmakers to act, they worry about the details of the massive $2 trillion relief package coming out of congress. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill “a wartime level of investment into our nation.” Democrats decried the initial proposal as a “500 billion slush fund” for business. They demanded changes. What liberals meant by “changes” was that they wanted to dump a lot more money in and smack businesses where they could. 

As the Wall Street Journal reported, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) bragged about the changes he secured to the bloated stimulus bill, but Schumer’s delay may have increased the incentive for employers to let go workers. 

“On top of the government enforced lockdowns which are destroying enterprises in many jurisdictions, the federal legislative trouble began last Wednesday with the enactment of expanded sick leave and family leave rights for employees,” James Freeman wrote in a piece headlined, “Will New Crisis Legislation Repair Damage from Last Week’s Crisis Legislation?” 

The problem is, while congress goes about trying to “save” the economy, provisions tucked in the package aimed at helping workers will drive employers out of business — taking good-paying jobs with them. 

“The very least that politicians like Sen. Schumer should be doing at this moment is to avoid placing new compliance burdens on companies watching their revenues collapse,” Freeman wrote. 

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders say they can’t even begin to talk relief packages for employers and workers at home until they figure out what the federal government is doing. 

“There’s a big chunk of that $2 billion bill I don’t think we should duplicate,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday at a teleconference with the press. “We need to be smart and wise. We can’t print money and we can’t borrow for operations like the federal government does. We need to be judicious about how we spend state dollars.”

Cue Benjamin Franklin

My favorite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Andrew Napolitano:

One of my Fox colleagues recently sent me an email attachment of a painting of the framers signing the Constitution of the United States. Except in this version, George Washington — who presided at the Constitutional Convention — looks at James Madison — who was the scrivener at the Convention — and says, “None of this counts if people get sick, right?”

In these days of state governors issuing daily decrees purporting to criminalize the exercise of our personal freedoms, the words put into Washington’s mouth are only mildly amusing. Had Washington actually asked such a question, Madison, of all people, would likely have responded: “No. This document protects our natural rights at all times and under all circumstances.”

It is easy, 233 years later, to offer that hypothetical response, particularly since the Supreme Court has done so already when, as readers of this column will recall, Abraham Lincoln suspended the constitutionally guaranteed writ of habeas corpus — the right to be brought before a judge upon arrest — only to be rebuked by the Supreme Court.

The famous line above by Benjamin Franklin, though uttered in a 1755 dispute between the Pennsylvania legislature and the state’s governor over taxes, nevertheless provokes a truism.

Namely, that since our rights come from our humanity, not from the government, foolish people can only sacrifice their own freedoms, not the freedoms of others.

Thus, freedom can only be taken away when the government proves fault at a jury trial. This protection is called procedural due process, and it, too, is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Of what value is a constitutional guarantee if it can be violated when people get sick? If it can, it is not a guarantee; it is a fraud. Stated differently, a constitutional guarantee is only as valuable and reliable as is the fidelity to the Constitution of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping.

Because the folks in government, with very few exceptions, suffer from what St. Augustine called libido dominandi — the lust to dominate — when they are confronted with the age-old clash of personal liberty versus government force, they will nearly always come down on the side of force.

How do they get away with this? By scaring the daylights out of us. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime, though our ancestors saw this in every generation. In America today, we have a government of fear. Machiavelli offered that men obey better when they fear you than when they love you. Sadly, he was right, and the government in America knows this.

But Madison knew this as well when he wrote the Constitution. And he knew it four years later when he wrote the Bill of Rights. He intentionally employed language to warn those who lust to dominate that, however they employ governmental powers, the Constitution is “the Supreme Law of the Land” and all government behavior in America is subject to it.

Even if the legislature of the State of New York ordered, as my friend Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who as the governor, cannot write laws that incur criminal punishment — has ordered, it would be invalid as prohibited by the Constitution.

This is not a novel or an arcane argument. This is fundamental American law. Yet, it is being violated right before our eyes by the very human beings we have elected to uphold it. And each of them — every governor interfering with the freedom to make one’s own choices — has taken an express oath to comply with the Constitution.

You want to bring the family to visit grandma? You want to engage in a mutually beneficial, totally voluntary commercial transaction? You want to go to work? You want to celebrate Mass? These are all now prohibited in one-third of the United States.

I tried and failed to find Mass last Sunday. When did the Catholic Church become an agent of the state? How about an outdoor Mass?

What is the nature of freedom? It is an unassailable natural claim against all others, including the government. Stated differently, it is your unconditional right to think as you wish, to say what you think, to publish what you say, to associate with whomever wishes to be with you no matter their number, to worship or not, to defend yourself, to own and use property as you see fit, to travel where you wish, to purchase from a willing seller, to be left alone. And to do all this without a government permission slip.

What is the nature of government? It is the negation of freedom. It is a monopoly of force in a designated geographic area. When elected officials fear that their base is slipping, they will feel the need to do something — anything — that will let them claim to be enhancing safety. Trampling liberty works for that odious purpose. Hence a decree commanding obedience, promising safety and threatening punishment.

These decrees — issued by those who have no legal authority to issue them, enforced by cops who hate what they are being made to do, destructive of the freedoms that our forbearers shed oceans of blood to preserve and crushing economic prosperity by violating the laws of supply and demand — should all be rejected by an outraged populace, and challenged in court.

These challenges are best filed in federal courts, where those who have trampled our liberties will get no special quarter. I can tell you from my prior life as a judge that most state governors fear nothing more than an intellectually honest, personally courageous, constitutionally faithful federal judge.

Fight fear with fear.

State law supposedly backs up the governor’s emergency powers. That law should be challenged in court. Then it should be changed to require approval of the Legislature — whose Republican leaders were not even told about the “Safer-at-Home” announcement-by-Tweet Monday morning.


Evers’ unconstitutional overreach

Brian Westrate of the Eau Claire County Republican Party wrote this to Republican legislators:

For 20 years I have soldiered along as a volunteer fighting in the trenches with you all. Now is the time I implore you all to step up and limit the damage Evers is doing to our state. Has anyone proposed holding a joint session to rescind Ever’s powers to shut down most of the state without running it by the legislature? Do you all really think its a good idea for one guy to be able to wave his hand and destroy the lifeblood of our economy all across this state? Near as I’ve been able to tell this was a power granted to the Governor by a bill first in the early 80s (DHS authority) and then in 2009 (state of emergency authority). That which has been granted by the legislature can be rescinded by the legislature.

At this point that’s my biggest complaint, not necessarily that what’s being done is being done but that I’m not hearing anyone from the legislature out there asking, “Woa there, is this really the best way to go?” For goodness sake the CDC even suggested that schools only be closed down if they had a known case in the community or a neighboring community. By that standard the majority of schools in the state would be open. Why was Evers allowed to shut down all schools without a fight from anyone else in government? And even if the legislature didn’t try to stop him, how come I have not heard of a press conference where somebody, anybody called him out for doing more than was recommended by the CDC, the very people we are all supposed to be listening to?

If allowing most districts to be open but closing others would run afoul of some regulation or other (as I’m sure it would), then either you guys pass a temporary bill, or encourage Evers to wave his magic wand and allow the regulation to be ignored.

And now he’s limiting day care capacity!

Where will this madness end? What, if anything are you all going to do anything if he orders a general quarantine and tells us we can’t leave our homes?

I am on many of the Republican legislator’s email lists and so far I’ve only received the same pat language all politicians are using. “This is tough on us all, we’ll get through this, just do what you’re told. Here are some links where you can get more information that will have no impact on the fact that you’ll lose your job and won’t make rent this month, but hey, you’ll know the number of active cases and be reminded to wash your hands.”

As I say, I value you all as friends and as legislators. I can only imagine the stress you are all under, but in this time of crisis I am far more concerned with the stress your constituents are under.

I know you’ll probably be excoriated in the press if you question dear dictator Evers, and I know you don’t have a veto proof majority, but honestly folks if you don’t do something to fight back against this over-reach then I think we may risk the majority, never mind earning a veto-proof majority. Its better to have tried and failed than not tried at all, and who knows maybe enough Democrats will join you and we can bring Evers to heel.

If some of you have already taken action, then please accept my apologies and my gratitude. I know some of you probably agree wholeheartedly with Evers, to you please know that I can agreed to disagree. But to everybody else, please for the love of Wisconsin stand up and be counted! Now is the time to lead, now is the time to act, now is the time to use your position and influence. The people of Wisconsin need you now more than ever.

I hope I’ve earned the right to say these things to you without damaging whatever relationship we have. I figure if I don’t say my piece in a time such as this, then I should probably just always stay silent.

Rick Esenberg adds about the 10-person limit:

I think the coronavirus is quite serious but [Tuesday’s] order from Tony Evers coming a mere 24 hours after a much less stringent order has more than a whiff of panic. Maybe panic is in order but the Governor has an obligation to explain why. If it’s OK to be in a retail establishment where people are not within arm’s length of one another for more than ten minutes than why can’t a restaurant be open if patrons are kept more than six feet apart? Why were gatherings of 50 acceptable yesterday but not today? What did the Governor learn that caused him to change his mind? It can’t be evidence of “community transmission” because only a fool would have though that wasn’t happening yesterday. I am not saying he’s wrong but what he did today is going to destroy a lot of small businesses and wreak havoc for many families. That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong call – I think some substantial economic harm is unavoidable – but he has a moral obligation to explain himself. He hasn’t done it.

Nor will he, undoubtedly. The mandated closing of churches is a grotesque violation of the First Amendment, for which Evers deserves recall and removal from office.

When Tony Evers seems reasonable

Gov. Tony Evers posted on his Facebook page a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the state’s dairy industry and said …

‪We cannot accept this as the future for Wisconsin dairy farmers. This is America’s Dairyland and in our state you never have to go it alone. ‬
‪We are in this fight together. ‬

Or not. WI Nate posts responses to Evers’ post:

There may be Republicans or Republican-leaners who don’t drink milk or eat dairy products. They do not seek to eliminate an entire industry because they don’t like milk. That is entirely a phenomenon of the political left.

By the way: What would happen if humans stopped consuming dairy products? Cows would become extinct. There is no other reason for cows to exist.


From Feb. 18 to April 7

Dan O’Donnell:

Like any good politician, Jill Karofsky wants the public to know where she stands on the issues and how she will enact an agenda based on her ideals once elected.

“I believe in protecting our environment from corporate polluters, protecting women’s health care, and holding corrupt politicians accountable,” she says in a television ad that has been running all month.

It’s direct, to the point, and effective.  It also completely disqualifies her as a serious candidate for the office she seeks.

“As your Supreme Court Justice,” she concludes in her ad, “I’ll make decisions based on the law.”

The irony here is at once laughable and terrifying.  Karofsky, a very liberal Dane County Circuit Court judge, is promising to make decisions based on the law while listing off decisions that she would leave to her own conscience.  Restrictions on abortion? She’d strike them down because she believes in “protecting women’s health care.” Disputes over mining regulations? Sorry, corporate polluters, but she will be the greatest champion for the environment since Captain Planet.

Not content to simply legislate from the bench, Jill Karofsky is promising to legislate from a hunch—relying on nothing more than the brilliance and morality of…Jill Karofsky.

Hers is the worst sort of judicial arrogance; a deeply held belief in her own ability to delineate right from wrong independent of the U.S. or Wisconsin Constitutions, applicable statutes, and relevant case law.  It also violates the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

SCR 60.06 3(b) explicitly provides that “a judge, judge-elect, or candidate for judicial office shall not make…with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.”

Promising to stand up against “corporate polluters,” “corrupt politicians,” and anyone who would threaten “women’s health care” is about as blatant a violation of both the letter and spirit of this guideline as one could imagine.

Land use, abortion issues (which is rather obviously what Karofsky means by “women’s health care”) and political corruption cases will obviously come before her, should she be elected to the Supreme Court, and could conceivably come before her in her current role on the Dane County Circuit Court.

How can she possibly adjudicate these cases fairly when she is openly advertising the fact that she will rule for certain parties and against others?

In December, she used her Twitter account (@JudgeKarofsky), which clearly identifies her as a judge, to publicly call for stricter gun control legislation.

“Families in Sparta and at Waukesha North have also had to deal with lockdowns in the last couple of days, and incidents like these have been happening all over Wisconsin, including a ‘hit list’ in Shorewood,” she tweeted in the wake of a particularly troubling week in the state.  “I’m thankful for first responders who keep us safe.

“But that’s not enough. As a parent, I know our kids shouldn’t have to fear for their lives at school, and not a single parent should be worrying about whether our kids are coming home after school.  It’s up to the policy-makers to decide what the law should be, and judges like me are here to apply and interpret the law. But I know action is needed.

“We can respect constitutional rights and at the same time take steps to make every family safer.  It’s way past time for lawmakers to step up to the plate.”

Does that screed leave any conceivable doubt about how she would rule on gun control legislation signed by Governor Evers?  Even if such a law represents a gross violation of the citizenry’s Second Amendment rights, Karofsky’s stated belief that “more action is needed” to “make every family safer” prejudices her in favor of the law’s constitutionality.

It is thus impossible for Karofsky to impartially (and therefore ethically) hear any gun control case that would come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but given her stated mission to crusade against the proliferation of firearms, does anyone really believe that she would recuse herself?

Of course not.  Activists like her live to decide these sorts of cases by substituting personal political preferences like the ones Karofsky tweeted for actual precedent and Constitutional principle.

By contrast, her opponent, incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly actually did recuse himself from the most hot-button political case of the year, even though it meant handing a (temporary) victory to his political opponents.

Last month, Kelly recused himself from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s lawsuit against the Wisconsin Election Commission over the Commission’s refusal to follow state law and remove more than 200,000 names from voter registration lists.

Because the ruling would affect the Spring Election and Kelly is on the ballot and could theoretically benefit from that ruling, he recused himself.  Political conservatives were beside themselves since his vote would have broken a 3-3 tie (fellow conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the Court’s two liberals) and allowed the Supreme Court to immediately take up the case instead of waiting for it to make its way through the appeals process.

Even though it could have benefited him and his political supporters, Justice Kelly recognized that sitting on the case would have violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.  Even though political conservatives were furious with him, as a judicial conservative Kelly could not have made any other decision.

Wisconsin faces a clear choice on April 7th: Principled, moral deference to governing law or shameless, reckless politicking.

Karofsky’s advertisements and Twitter rants are the very essence of judicial activism and illustrate why it is so dangerous.  Justice Kelly, on the other hand, has just demonstrated his strict adherence to the Rule of Law. The April 7th election, then, isn’t so much a contest between two judges as it is a battle for what Wisconsin wants its Supreme Court to be.

Whom to vote for today

James Wigderson:

Tuesday is the Spring Primary, which is when we sort out the candidates who will be on the ballot for the April 7 Spring Election, unless you’re in the 7th Congressional District. Then you will also be picking, in addition to the non-partisan races, a candidate for the special election on May 12 because our Democratic governor did not want to take a chance that all of you Republicans in that district would also vote for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly on April 7.
Remember how Democrats screamed bloody murder when the Republicans in the legislature considered moving the Supreme Court election so it wouldn’t coincide with the Democratic Presidential Primary on April 7? Something about sacred voting Election Day blah, blah blah.
So, if you are planning on voting Tuesday, keep in mind that Kelly is the only conservative running for Wisconsin Supreme Court. That’s something everyone agrees upon.
In the 7th Congressional District, Republicans have two candidates, state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and Jason Church. Tiffany earned a rare endorsement from RightWisconsin in the race because of our concerns about Church’s ties to former Assembly Speaker John Gard and the odd flip-flop on the Davis Bacon issue, which leads us to question whether Church will be a pawn of special interests. We have a special turnout preview for that race, as well.
In Milwaukee County, your choices are bad, yucky, awful, and meaningless gesture. Milwaukee County Supervisor Theo Lipscomb decided to adopt the Petyr Baelish plan, “Chaos is a Ladder,” and got two rival candidates thrown off the ballot. Lipscomb would be the yucky choice, and he knocked off the one halfway decent choice, former Democratic state Sen. Jim Sullivan. As much as Democrats are mad at Lipscomb for using such tactics, they’re also surprised that he was competent enough to pull it off.
That leaves State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) as the awful choice, state Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) as the bad choice, and local businesswoman Purnima Nath (R?) as the meaningless gesture vote.
Good luck, Milwaukee County.

Wigderson wrote more specifically about the Seventh Congressional District GOP race:

Writing in The Dispatch, Andrew Egger reports on the 7th Congressional District Republican Primary and sees two different sides of President Donald Trump. One side of the president is state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and the other flavor is Jason Church.

As Egger explains, the 7th Congressional District is definitely Trump country, embracing the president even during the Republican presidential primary in 2016 when the rest of the state went for Sen. Ted Cruz.

He quotes yours truly on how the once-progressive bastion of northern Wisconsin became the reliable vote generator for Trump.

“There’s a lot of people up there that have been hit hard in the last couple of recessions. … They’ve now embraced the Trump agenda out there,” James Wigderson, who runs the conservative blog RightWisconsin, told The Dispatch. “It is very blue collar up there, and they moved from Obama to Trump rather easily, just because of the nature of the people that are up there—it’s not dominated by universities. It’s not dominated by big cities.”

Of Tiffany, Egger wrote about the senator’s legislative record:

In the legislature, Tiffany was an enthusiastic ally of the Walker agenda, which he credits for helping to turn the state’s economy around. It’s the backbone of his pitch to voters: You could trust me to push hard for a conservative agenda in Madison, so you can trust me to push hard for a conservative agenda in Washington. Tiffany is endorsed by a number of prominent state Republicans, including both Walker and Duffy.

Meanwhile, Church has a different message.

As a political neophyte, Church lacks Tiffany’s solid legislative CV. But in his messaging, he’s leaned into the contrast: waving off Tiffany’s decade of work in the state legislature as “being a machine politician.” In his telling, what the district needs isn’t just someone who will go to Congress and vote for conservative policies. It’s someone who is ready to go and wage war for the soul of America against the likes of young progressive lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. It’s someone, as Church repeatedly said to me, who’s willing to be a little “boisterous.”

“There’s an issue in Washington, and in fact in Madison in general too,” Church said, “that if we just continue to try and elect people who move up the ladder, if what we’re trying to do is just work within a party system of self-promotion, we’re not going to bring the new energy and vibrance needed into Washington.”

Tiffany embraces the low-regulation, low-taxes reformer, side of Trump.

In Tiffany’s telling, Donald Trump is a model free-market, small-government, pro-business conservative: “I just look at the actions of the president, the tax cuts. I’ve seen how it’s turbo-charged the economy. I see it right here in Wisconsin, the regulatory reform that is near and dear to my heart, because I’ve worked on those issues. When I hear ‘drain the swamp,’ I think about the regulatory stuff, with all those alphabet agencies that you have out in Washington, D.C., that put so much red tape that strangles businesses large and small, that puts great restrictions on our economy.”

It’s not surprising that Tiffany plays up those elements of the Trump agenda. “In the case of Tiffany, it’s playing to his strengths because that’s the type of thing that he does in the state legislature,” said Wigderson, who has endorsed Tiffany in the race. “Tom Tiffany is definitely a small-government conservative; he’d have been very comfortable as a conservative under Ronald Reagan.”

Meanwhile Church has embraced union interests, once anathema in GOP primary politics, and Trump’s culture battles.

“I’ll tell you why I’ve supported him from day one,” Church said. “And that’s because President Trump identified something that we all here in northern Wisconsin have felt for a long time. And that is that our culture was under attack. I mean, people like Omar and AOC, when they start pushing things like multiculturalism and intersectionality, what they’re really doing is they’re pointing a finger at someone here in Tomahawk, someone here in Bloomer, in Hudson, in Wausau. And they’re saying, ‘You’re what’s wrong with America.’”

Egger asks, will the race signal an end for a preference among Republicans for Scott Walker-style reforms of government?

“Tom Tiffany helped create and pass an aggressive fiscal-conservative agenda that turned Scott Walker into a national conservative hero,” Egger wrote. “It’ll be up to the district’s voters to determine whether that’s a pro or a con.”

Gloom, despair and agony on Democrats

It is possible that no political party has had a worse two days than the Democrats have had Monday and Tuesday, to the level of …

First was the Iowa Caucuses, where partial results weren’t released until Tuesday afternoon. That should make everyone think the results were cooked to not show Comrade Bernie Sanders as Iowa’s actual winner.

Jeffrey Toobin, no Republican:

Maybe the fiasco of the late reporting results from the Iowa caucus this year will have a positive legacy — the end of the caucus process and the invitation to another state to start the delegate selection process.

The caucuses are an embarrassment to the Democratic Party and the United States. This is no way to pick a nominee.

It’s not just that the Iowa caucus is unrepresentative demographically — more than 90% white. It’s far more white than a national party that prizes its diversity. The problem is even more fundamental.

Consider the secret ballot, a foundational value in democratic systems. The caucus is a public process, so that neighbors must advertise their choices in public. This is just wrong.

But the problem is much worse. The caucuses — especially in this cursed year — demand hours of commitment. This limits the number, and kind, of people who can attend, despite Iowa Democrats allowing satellite caucuses this year. Many people who work at night still cannot attend. People who care for children or other relatives cannot attend. People who have other commitments cannot attend.

Those who cannot attend tend to be lower income, of course, and those people are supposedly the base of the Democratic Party. It’s madness to effectively exclude them from the caucus process.

Then there is the 15% viability threshold. Typically, candidates who don’t draw 15% in the first round don’t receive any delegates. Why? (The Republican caucuses in Iowa have no such rule.) Especially in a first contest, there is no reason to exclude the lesser candidates. And the multiple rounds add to delays.

One of the worst reasons to do anything is … that’s the way we’ve always done it. That’s pretty much the only justification for continuing to have (a) a caucus (b) in Iowa. It’s time for a change — in the process and in the location.

Then came Tuesday’s State of the Union address, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi channeled her inner 2-year-old and ripped up Trump’s speech.

To which Michael Smith writes …

… and Cheryl K. Chumley adds …

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barely let President Donald Trump wrap his State of the Union, and she was already putting on the show, standing dramatically and tearing a paper copy of the speech for all of the watching world to see — and then, later explaining her no-class act as the “courteous” thing to do.

Make no mistake about it. Pelosi’s performance wasn’t aimed just at the president. It was a show of disdain for all the president’s supporters — for all of patriotic America. For all the deplorables out there she hasn’t been able to control and conquer.

This is a woman who’s done nothing but divide to conquer since Trump took over the White House.She’s called for summers of resistance; deceived the American people about impeachment — saying on one hand, impeachment wasn’t a possibility without nonpartisan support, while ultimately pushing impeachment on the wings of utter partisanship; saying on one hand the president’s offenses were national security issues that warranted immediate conviction, while ultimately allowing the articles to be held in the House for more than a month to allow her Democratic minions to pressure and shame senators into voting “guilty.” The list goes on.

Lies are Pelosi’s politics.

Don’t forget the famous Pelosi claim that Trump even admitted — practically, pretty much, almost partly, anyway — to bribery, an impeachable offense. Yet where was bribery in the final articles of impeachment?

Don’t forget the famous Pelosi speeches on the House floor to push for impeachment alongside a poster board of a blown-up American flag, while citing Founding Father principles, while speaking of her “heart full of love for America” — all the while deceiving, spinning and outright lying, committing atrocities and offenses against the very nature of the words she spoke.

It’s not just Trump whom Pelosi detests.

It’s all that Trump represents — which is to say, America First. America the Great. America the Exceptional.\And global elites, secretive, behind-the-doors’ political wheelings and dealings, shady, shadowy bargains that enrich the Capitol Hill crowd, but not the average Jane and Joe Q. American — not so much.

Trump, if anything, elevates the deplorable.

Pelosi, and her ilk, are the antithesis of the deplorable. Which is to say: the enemy of the outside-the-Beltway and outside-the-liberal-bubble people.

When she ripped Trump’s speech, she wasn’t just ripping paper. She wasn’t just expressing rage at Trump.

She was showing her fury and disdain for all the MAGAs in America. She’s forgotten her allegiance and oath of office. She’s allowed her personal ambition and quest for power overcome her ability to serve.

That she did it just as Trump actually finished saying, “and God bless America,” is only a remarkable underscore of where her heart genuinely sits: against America.

Democrats tried to justify her petty speech-ripping performance as payback for the president’s avoidance of shaking her hand. But the American people know better. Pelosi, as one Twitter critic wrote, “is a 2 [bit] partisan hack.”

It’s time for Pelosi to go. It’s time for another to take her seat. Americans don’t need politicians who think they’re better than the people who pay their salaries. And you know what? It’s almost assured voters will be making that clear this November, at the polls.

… and Rick Esenberg concludes:

If the Democrats are going to beat Trump, they have to do it by appealing to swing voters who want a return to normalcy and more respectable behavior in their leaders. In other words, they have to offer a contrast to Trump and not simply appeal to their base. This little stunt was quite Trumpian. I don’t think the Democrats are going to beat him at his own game.

Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin, WTMJ radio reports:

Just one day after being placed on administrative leave, 2020 DNC President Liz Gilbert and Chief of Staff Adam Alonso have been fired.

Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmonese told the Associated Press that “the gravity of the concerns raised” and that it demanded a serious response.

While the search for a new president and chief of staff is taking place, Teresa Vilmain, a Wisconsin resident and convention veteran will handle day-to-day operations.

Their firing came after complaints of harassment against women by those working to set up the Democratic National Convention. Yes, Democrats sexually harassing Democrats.