Us and them

UW–Madison graduate Jeff Greenfield on PBS:

It was just one line from Senator Bob Dole’s acceptance speech more than 20 years ago, but it speaks volumes about where our politics is today. He was talking about the contrast between himself and his rival, President Bill Clinton.

BOB DOLE, GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE, 1996 GOP CONVENTION:

This is not the outlook of my opponent — and he is my opponent, not my enemy.

JEFF GREENFIELD:

Think about that for a minute. An “opponent” is someone you battle— in an election, on a ball field— but with a common understanding of the rules of the game, and a mutual willingness to abide by the outcome.

BOB DOLE:

He is my opponent, not my enemy.

JEFF GREENFIELD:

But an “enemy”?—that’s very different; an enemy is someone who poses a threat to your survival, someone to be fought “by any means necessary”. And that’s increasingly how Americans have come to view those on the other side of the political divide.

For instance, if your competitor is an “enemy”, it makes perfect sense for you to not just defeat her, but to imprison her.

DONALD TRUMP, OCTOBER 2016, WILKES-BARRE, PA:

Lock her up is right.

CROWD:

“Lock her up! Lock her up!

JEFF GREENFIELD:

It makes sense to regard your critics not just as an inevitable part of the tension between press and politicians, but as something worse: … “the enemy of the American people.”

DONALD TRUMP:

And this crooked media. You talk about crooked Hillary. They’re worse than she is.

JEFF GREENFIELD:

And it’s not just the President doing it. Back in October 2015, Hillary Clinton was asked who she regarded as her “enemy”, she answered:

HILLARY CLINTON, OCTOBER 2015, CNN DEBATE:

In addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, and the Iranians, probably the Republicans.”

JEFF GREENFIELD:

This increasingly dark view of the opposition has now become a dominant feature of the American political landscape. Survey after survey has shown that Republicans and Democrats now view each other not simply as “wrong” but as malevolent, literally a danger to the republic.

CROWD:

Lock him up! Lock him up!

JEFF GREENFIELD:

According to Pew research, 45% of Republicans now say that Democratic policies “threaten the nation’s well-being,” while 41% of Democrats view GOP policies in equally stark terms.

The most dramatic example of this mutual hostility is this:

back in 1960, only 5% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats said they’d be “displeased” if a child married someone from the other major party. Half a century later, half of Republicans and more than a third of Democrats said yes —they would be “somewhat or very unhappy”.

JEFF GREENFIELD, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:

What makes this “tribalism” particularly dangerous is that it has grown at a time when one of America’s core convictions—the worth of a free society—has eroded, especially among the young. They are simply less and less convinced that democracy is all that important.

Among Americans born in the 1930s, 72% said that living in a democracy was “essential.” Among those born in in the 1980s, the number is thirty percent. The less faith in an open society, the more reason there is to believe that politics is more like warfare than a contest for power where limits apply.

The guardrails that protect our constitutional republic have endured for more than two centuries, in the face of challenges far greater than today’s. But when you combine a growing sense that your political opponents are enemies with doubts about the very worth of a free society, you threaten some of our bedrock assumptions about how the oldest representative democracy in the world stays healthy.

This might count as the least surprising news of the day. And it didn’t start with The Donald or Hillary. Hot Air notes something Barack Obama said in 2010:

“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Predictably, PBS viewers seem to believe this is the fault of Republicans. One posted this from Newsweek in November 1994:

To Newt Gingrich, Democrats are not just the opposition. They are “traitors” and the party of “total bizarreness, total weirdness.” House Minority Whip Gingrich recently told a group of lobbyists that Democrats were the “enemy of normal Americans.”

Other comments perfectly reflected Greenfield’s point by pointing fingers at the other side.

The cause of this should be obvious, and I’ve pointed that out here before this. Government has gotten so large and so powerful that the stakes in elections have ballooned far beyond what the Founding Fathers, or indeed anyone in government or politics before the Great Depression, intended. Power corrupts, as the saying goes. Add to that each side wants more power and proposes to do that by taking away something of the other side — in the case of the Democrats, the money of Republicans through higher taxes, as well as gun rights.

 

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Whom to vote for today

Weather or not, today is “spring” Election Day in Wisconsin.

There is one statewide race, for Supreme Court, and one statewide referendum, to eliminate the state treasurer’s position.

C.J. Szafir writes about the Supremes:

Ronald Reagan used to remark how “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”  For Wisconsin conservatives, the saying should be Walker’s bold conservative reforms are never more than one liberal-majority state Supreme Court away from extinction.”  

On Tuesday, April 3, voters go to the polls to vote for Wisconsin’s next supreme court justice.  The differences cannot be starker. Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock has described himself as someone who believes “the role of the court is to apply the law as it is written.” This would be similar to the originalist philosophy as the late Justice Scalia.

Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet has not disguised her judicial philosophy.  As she explained last Friday at the Wisconsin Public Radio debate, she believes that “the law needs to evolve to account for the changing times” and “the constitution is a living document.” This is shocking language used by activist judges.

Given that, there’s no question that if Dallet wins, she would likely be a reliable vote with Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley. Put another way, she would be a reliable vote against the reforms of Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature. Consider:

ACT 10:  In 2011, Walker and the GOP passed the historic collective bargaining reform law. Inheriting a $3.6 billion deficit, Act 10 kept the Badger State from fiscal ruin like other high tax and spend states (See Illinois). Local governments and school districts were able to negotiate their own employee contracts, saving billions of dollars, improving services to taxpayers and students, and freeing teachers from the unions (more).

After several legal challenges by the unions, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin eventually upheld the constitutionality of Act 10 on a 5-2 vote. In dissent, Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley argued that by freeing employees from the unions, Act 10 had actually violated the unions’ constitutional right to organize.

Dallet has said she disagrees with the Court’s Act 10 ruling, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

CONCEALED CARRY: In yet another reform, Walker and the Republicans in 2011, allowed the concealed carry of firearms. Despite the howls from the left, this was actually fairly mainstream, bringing Wisconsin in line with 48 other states.

In 2017, in interpreting the law, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that the City of Madison had no authority to ban firearms on buses. Once again, Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, essentially arguing that municipalities like Madison could gut concealed carry if they so choose.

On the campaign trail, Dallet has blasted the Court’s decision as “an example of an activist court legislating to create a right.” And Dallet has gone further, advocating for certain types of gun control – AR-15 ban – and saying how she thinks it would be constitutional to ban assault-style weapons and higher age limits for the purchase of guns.

These are peculiar positions to take before ever hearing the facts of the case. And, of course, the Wisconsin Constitution includes the: “right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” (Article I, sec 25).

VOTER ID: Wisconsin’s commonsense voter ID law, passed in 2011, requires voters to show photo identification when they go to vote. It protects the integrity of our democratic institutions, ensuring that every vote is a lawful one.

Conservatives may recall that the law only went into effect after years of legal challenges. In 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme court upheld the constitutionality of the law. Writing in the majority, Justice Roggensack declared, correctly, that “the Legislature did not exceed its authority by requiring photo ID at the polls in the league’s case.”

But Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, with Abrahamson writing a scorching dissent, comparing the Court’s decision to “Jim Crowe” in restricting the right to vote for African-Americans.

Dallet has “expressed skepticism” of the Court’s voter ID decision and would “support efforts that encourage people to vote.”  Whatever that means.

JOHN DOE: The weaponizing of government – with its vast police powers and unlimited resources – represents an existential threat to democracy.  This is embodied by the John Doe investigation, which used pre-dawn military-style raids to seize property from conservatives, seized personal emails, and opened investigations into a number of conservative activists.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down the John Doe investigation, declaring it an unconstitutional assault on our freedoms. Justices Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, in part.

Dallet has said the Court should not have ended the John Doe investigations and it was “one of the reasons that I decided to run for this seat.”

Mind you, this was all before, Dallet’s recent bizarre – though perhaps insightful – fundraising trip to San Francisco, telling donors that “your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way.”

A Dallet win would be mean the left is just one more supreme court election victory away from radically changing the Court and rolling back all that conservatives have worked for in the last 8 years.  On Tuesday, voters will go to elect the next supreme court justice, but make no mistake about it: the long-term fate of Walker’s reforms will be on the ballot.

Here is the liberals’ idea of an impartial Supreme Court justice:

The good news is that the Supreme Court will retain a conservative majority regardless of result today. The three oldest justices are liberal Shirley Abrahamson, conservative Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, and liberal Ann Walsh Bradley.

As for Dallet, like nearly every Milwaukee County judge she is soft on crime. Evidence comes from James Wigderson:

A homeless sex offender at the center of the Wisconsin Supreme Court election on April 3 was arrested again last Thursday. Donald Skenandore, who was just given two years in jail for sexually assaulting minor children by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet, was arrested for failing to meet the terms of his conditional release and supervision.

The arrest of Skenandore was first reported by WISN’s Mark Belling and confirmed in other media sources. According to the report by Belling, Skenandore “was arrested and taken into custody Thursday evening (March 29) outside a bar and restaurant on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee near the James Lovell intersection. He was taken in for a violation of the terms of the extended supervision handed to him in Dallet’s controversial 2011 sentence.”

Dallet, a liberal, is a candidate for the Supreme Court in the election on April 3. Her opponent is Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock, a conservative.

The Skenandore case has been the focus of criticisms of Dallet’s soft-on-crime approach. He was given two years in prison and five years of extended supervision in 2011, as recommended by the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office. That’s nowhere near the 20 years Skenandore could have been given.

At the sentencing, Dallet said she considered the harm done to the child victims.

“In looking at the factors that I do look at, the ages of these children were pretty young,” Dallet said in her sentencing decision according to the transcript. “As I said before, they were seven or eight. There wasn’t an extreme amount of harm. There wasn’t intercourse.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) have been running a controversial television advertisement that highlights the horrific nature of the crime by saying the relationship of the victims to Skenandore. Despite calls from Dallet’s allies and the victims’ family, WMC is unwilling to take the ad down because the information was already publicly available.

According to Belling, Skenandore was arrested for multiple violations of the conditions for his supervised release.

“He was in custody for four months until March 15 for violations including alcohol use and not reporting to his agent. After his release, he failed to charge the battery on GPS ankle bracelet and did not report to his agent. A warrant for his pick-up has been out for days. He was found last night on West Wisconsin Avenue and is in the Milwaukee County Jail.”

Light sentences? Must be those San Francisco values.

George Mitchell adds:

As reported recently by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley, “State Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet laid into [Judge Michael Screnock] for using ‘all this rhetoric about rule of law garbage’.”

Dallet’s charge — I would call it a gaffe — has become a central issue in the campaign. It was even a subject of the debate between Dallet and Screnock Friday night.

Reporter Marley quoted Dallet as follows: “He’s talking about all this rhetoric about rule of law garbage that is basically — it’s rule of law until it’s something you want changed and then you just go ahead and change it. He’s just saying the same tired old thing that doesn’t mean anything.”

Having denounced Screnock for “rhetoric about rule of law garbage [that] doesn’t mean anything,” Dallet nevertheless felt it necessary to offer an obligatory “I believe in the rule of law.”

If it’s rhetorical garbage that doesn’t mean anything, then what “rule of law” does Dallet believe in? The Journal Sentinel quotes Dallet’s campaign manager, Jessica Lovejoy, as follows: “If they bothered to listen to the whole speech, it’s clear Judge Dallet truly believes in the rule of law — but Michael Screnock doesn’t.” According to reporter Marley, Lovejoy said Dallet’s “rule of law garbage” comment was being taken “out of context.”

I asked Lovejoy to provide the context necessary to understand the “rule of law garbage” remark. She declined to respond.

In the Journal Sentinel story, Dallet seeks to deflect attention from her remark. For example, she says, “When the Legislature gets it wrong and they violate someone’s rights, it’s my job to say no. I am not a rubber stamp of whatever the Legislature does or whatever the governor does.” She thus wrongly implies that Screnock would uphold “whatever the Legislature does or whatever the governor does.” He has said no such thing. To suggest otherwise is to fabricate and advance a straw man narrative.

Act 10 provides a concrete example — real “context” — of Screnock’s view that the Supreme Court’s job is not to substitute its view for that of the Legislature. The left, of course, feels otherwise. Dallet’s campaign aims to tap its fury that the Supreme Court did its job by upholding the law.

In that case, the late Justice Patrick Crooks joined in the 5-2 court decision. Justice Crooks explicitly offered his negative assessment of the bill — on policy grounds — and just as clearly said that view was irrelevant to the Court’s role.

The cynical reality is that, to borrow von Clausewitz’s observation about war, the courts system is merely “the continuation of politics by different means.” Every policy item on Szafir’s list is something any legislator or governor regardless of party should have done. Dallet opposes all of them, but she does favor unconstitutional attempts to use the criminal justice system to squelch conservatives’ free speech rights.

I voted for Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock. You should too.

As you know, I (and its present officeholder) favor elimination of the position that pays its title $70,000 and costs taxpayers $450,000 to run its office. Given how its duties have been eliminated over time by Republican and Democratic governors and legislatures, the claims you’ve read about it being a watchdog of state funds are false.

Cast an informed vote today, if you haven’t already.

The Contract on Wisconsin

James Wigderson came up with the headline for Bill Osmulski‘s listing of a People’s Republic of Madison’s sympathizer’s dream:

If there were ever any doubts over what designs the Democrat Party has for Wisconsin should it regain power, look no further than Rep. Chris Taylor’s (D-Madison) proposed amendments to the state constitution released Friday.

The joint resolution would make broad changes to Wisconsin’s Bill of Rights to include open-ended promises that government cannot possibly deliver and shift power away from the Legislature and governor to the bureaucracy. In general, the changes seek to undo everything Republicans have accomplished since 2011 and make it difficult for them to ever be in control again. The role of government would expand uncontrollably, as voters would lose influence over state officials.

Here is a breakdown of Taylor’s manifesto:

  1. The Second Amendment And Local Gun Ordinances. In a transparent attempt to undermine the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Taylor’s Bill of Rights claims to maintain the right to bear arms, but it allows local governments to regulate the carrying of arms. This would effectively gut the constitution, the right to keep and bear arms and the state’s concealed carry law because local ordinances would supersede state law.
  2. Right To An Abortion. This isn’t surprising given Taylor’s history as Planned Parenthood’s policy director in Wisconsin. Of course, in true Orwellian fashion, she calls it “the right to reproductive freedom.”
  3. Right To “Access Quality, Affordable Health Care Services.” Democrats always claim this is their goal, but their actions consistently undermine it. This goes well past their rabid defense of Obamacare, which resulted in the mandated purchase of health insurance, fewer coverage choices, and skyrocketing premiums costs – 36 percent last year alone. Wisconsin Democrats voted against reforms like direct primary care that are proven to lower costs and increase quality.  They also promote ideas like “BadgerCare for All,” which the Legislative Fiscal Bureau warns would decrease access and increase cost. Their ideas will never result in quality and affordable healthcare, but they’ll happily destroy the state’s finances as they try anyway.
  4. Right to A Living Wage. Forget about the “Fight for $15.” Taylor’s living wage could push the minimum wage in places like Madison or Milwaukee to over $25 an hour, based on an MIT study. As Taylor puts it, “Every person has the right to a just and fair wage that ensures for the person and the person’s family an existence worth of human dignity and a sufficient standard of living.” Working hard to achieve that is not a part of Taylor’s math, nor is the impact this would have on employment. A 2014 MacIver Institute Study found 91,000 Wisconsinites would lose their jobs if the minimum wage was raised to $15. Considering that many of those are entry-level jobs, a “living wage” mandate would close countless opportunities to young workers just getting started in their careers.
  5. Right To The “Highest Quality” Education. Here’s another vague goal. A conservative might interpret this as school choice for all, but Taylor’s no conservative. In fact, this “right” contradicts another one of her proposed changes to the constitution that would ban state funds from going to religious schools. She doesn’t say what she considers to be the “highest quality” education, but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with test scores. The only thing liberals care to quantify when it comes to public schools is funding, and it’s never enough. The real question here is how high would Taylor raise your taxes to pay for this?
  6. Right To Equal Pay. First off, we agree that it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of their gender. Remember, too, that it is currently against the law to pay someone less based solely on their gender. Studies that examine the gender pay gap, however, don’t support the liberal narrative. An often-cited study by the American Association of University Women claims women in Wisconsin make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. However, the report also said that can be explained by considering life choices like college major, occupation, hours worked and taking time off to raise children. So would this amendment force employers to make gender the primary consideration for determining wages regardless of experience, education, and position? Liberals like Chris Taylor never let questions over implementation get in the way of a good narrative, and this is just one more example.
  7. Eliminate Residency Requirements To Vote. Right now you need to live in a district for 28 days before an election with no intention of moving afterward. This change would eliminate the need to be a “resident” and only require that you “reside” in the district for 10 days before an election. That’s right. She literally removes the word “resident” from the voting requirements. That would mean out-of-state hotel guests could (and would) vote in our elections.
  8. Reinstate The GAB. The Government Accountability Board proved itself incapable of impartiality in overseeing Wisconsin’s elections. It looked the other way when fraudulent signatures appeared on recall ballots, elections officials reported irregularities and breaks in the chain of custody, and it actively participated in the John Doe witch hunt that violated the constitutional rights of conservatives throughout the state. The Wisconsin Legislature did the responsible thing by eliminating this political weapon of the left. Of course, Taylor and her allies want it back.
  9. GAB Would Be In Charge Of Redistricting. Not only does Taylor want to resurrect the GAB, she wants to give it the responsibility of redistricting. Currently, the Legislature is responsible for drawing new district boundaries after each U.S. Census. Taylor wants to take the power away from elected officials and give it to unaccountable bureaucrats, who historically have aligned themselves with liberal politics. She’s betting this will sideline voters and give Democrats a permanent edge, whether or not they can actually win elections.
  10. Reinstate Straight Ticket Voting. Before 2012, Wisconsin voters could simply vote for a party and automatically cast votes for every candidate in that party on their ballot. It undoubtedly gave an edge to Democrats. In Milwaukee, for example, Democrat voters were six times more likely to vote straight ticket than Republican voters. The impact of doing away with this practice was immediate. During the Racine Recall Recount in 2012, many voters only voted in the top race and left the rest blank. Only nine states still allow straight-ticket voting, and surprisingly they’re all Republican states.
  11. Require The State To Use A Progressive Income Tax. A flat tax would make Wisconsin more competitive and help reduce tax migration that results in $460 million of income leaving the state annually. Taylor prefers the antiquated progressive income tax that punishes success.
  12. No Tax Exemptions. Not only would the state be required to have a progressive income tax, Taylor’s plan would eliminate all exemptions. While a simple and clean tax code is a goal we can agree on with Taylor, that is not what Taylor proposes. She wants to eliminate only certain tax code carveouts that she deems unnecessary or unworthy. The tax carve-outs that advanced her political agenda and her ideology would stay of course.
  13. Right To “Clean Air.” So what exactly would qualify as “clean air?” If I get seasonal allergies would the Wisconsin Constitution protect me from pollen? What would be the standard for “clean air?” Just this year, the EPA tried to shut down economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin because of high ozone levels, which had drifted into the area from Chicago and Gary. Would the “right to clean air” clear that up, shut down industry, or force everyone to move? Chances are these questions would be left to unelected bureaucrats and the standards would always be changing.
  14. The Superintendent Of Public Instruction Gets Representation In The DNR. What does DPI have to do with the DNR? Nothing, but the state superintendent is usually a liberal. Taylor wants to expand DPI’s reach in state government. She would reduce the seven-member Natural Resources Board to five members, selected by the governor, attorney general, state superintendent, treasurer, and secretary of state. So the state superintendent would have just as much influence in the DNR as the governor? Makes sense to a liberal.
  15. A Natural Resources Board Would Pick The DNR Secretary, Not The Governor. About twenty years ago, the Natural Resources Board got to pick the DNR secretary instead of the governor. Of course, that meant the department was dominated by radical environmentalist policies with no counter voice. That’s exactly the system Taylor wants to go back to – one where the voters are as far removed from state environmental policy as possible.
  16. The State Superintendent, Not The Legislature, Would Determine Funding Levels For Public Schools. Under the manifesto, DPI would decide how much schools need, rather than the Legislature weighing the support schools need and other important budget priorities. Like health care. Or higher education. Or public safety. In other words, Taylor would take budgeting out of the budget process.
  17. Religious Schools Can’t Receive Public Funds. Overall, religious schools outperform public schools, and that’s why students use the school choice system to attend them. It’s far more important to Rep. Taylor that kids receive a public-school education rather than a good education. Clearly, Rep. Taylor believes the term ‘public education’ refers to government institutions and the plight of educrats, not what it should be. ‘Public education’ should be about what every child in Wisconsin needs to be successful.
  18. Right To Collective Bargaining. Before Act 10, Governor Doyle and the Democrat-controlled Legislature created a $3.6 billion budget gap. Act 10 fixed that, then saved the state $5 billion over the next five years, gave local governments the tools to balance their budgets, created regular surpluses, and eliminated state worker furloughs. Taylor and her allies would undo all of that. They would make it is a constitutional right for public and private workers to “organize and collectively bargain through representatives of their own choosing on subjects including but not limited to wages, hours, and working conditions.” That means eliminating Act 10 and Right To Work, and reinstating prevailing wage… and massive budget deficits. It would be like the past 8 years never happened.

Getting all this into the state constitution would be no easy task. Amendments must be passed by two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and then pass a statewide referendum. One might question why she introduced this plan with Republicans in charge when it has no chance of passing this session.

In the past couple weeks, Democrats have introduced dozens of items in the Senate and Assembly, even though the session is essentially over. One Democrat representative told MacIver News, in reference to a different bill, that they know their late session bills won’t get passed this year. They are setting the stage in the event they are able to take back control of the Legislature and governor’s office.

Should that happen, Rep. Taylor’s plan shows how far liberals are willing to stretch our laws to meet their goals. The Wisconsin Constitution was written to empower the people and limit the government. Taylor’s Amendments would fundamentally alter that relationship to limit the people and empower the government.

Point 16 is blatantly unconstitutional. The only people in state government with the power to tax is the Legislature. That has been the case every day of this state’s history. A Supreme Court challenge would invalidate any proposed constitutional amendment 7–0.

None of what Taylor asserts as “rights” are actually rights except to anyone on the wacko left as she is.

When your past comes back to amuse you

My efforts to avoid political advertising around elections meant I missed this …

… specifically this shot:

That is future Sauk County Circuit Judge and state Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock, a tuba player in the UW Marching Band (whose annual concerts in the Kohl Center are April 19–21, by the way) while I was a trumpet player in the world’s best college marching band. (Mike — I mean, Judge Screnock — graduated in 1990, two years after I did, which means we are both of the era when the band didn’t get to perform at bowl games and NCAA tournament games because UW didn’t play in those games.)

A sign of my advanced age, or something else, is that I have personal connections with at least four present members of this state’s judiciary. One of my coworkers (with whom I shared political ideology) at my only daily newspaper job is now a Columbia County judge. One of my high school classmates (with whom I did not share political ideology, to put it mildly) is now a state administrative law judge. One of the two local circuit judges (with whom I have never discussed politics) was a teammate of mine on the softball team of my first full-time employer, a team utterly lacking in athletic talent with few exceptions (one of them being a guy nicknamed “Baseball”), yet somehow not the worst team in the league.

Even though I haven’t paid attention to the commercial, this mailer from the Republican Party of Wisconsin appeared in the mail yesterday:

From JudgeScrenock.com: “After graduating from Baraboo High School, Judge Screnock chose to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was an active member of the UW Marching Band tuba section. He met his wife, Karen from Brookfield, Wisconsin, on the UW campus and they were married the summer before he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1990.”

It should be obvious (but requires saying in our hyperpolitical times) that the UW Marching Band does not endorse political candidates, then or now. (Including in 1978, when UW Marching Band members played on the school bus procured by or for Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Dreyfus.) At least in my (or our) day, I think it’s safe to say that band members skewed rightward, perhaps in part because there were more of them from small towns than from Madison (including, yes, me) and Milwaukee, or because we had some military reservists in our ranks, or because we were in the band during the Age of Reagan. (One of the aforementioned reservists finished a concert at the State Capitol by exhorting a vote for Reagan, “the official presidential candidate of the UW Band!”, which wasn’t met with unanimous agreement in the band. However, Reagan did win Wisconsin.)

Then again, politics in the 1980s, certain victims of Reagan Derangement Syndrome notwithstanding, was not as stupid as it is today. Every part of Madison skewed Democrat, but no adult I knew — that is, the parents of my classmates and friends — took the extreme leftist viewpoints that appear commonplace today in the People’s Republic of Madison. Politics obviously got discussed at UW–Madison, and even at my high school, but not to the extent it is today, certainly not with the nasty tone of today (with the exception of those were seen as a few bubbles off plumb), and people rarely made personal decisions (as far as I was aware of) based on political considerations. (An exception: My high school journalism teacher refused to take us to Madison Newspapers Inc., a place budding journalists might like to have seen, because the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times broke the newspaper strike. On the other hand, we didn’t go to field trips anywhere, which may have been for nonpolitical reasons, and we got to talk to reporters in our classroom. I was in fifth grade during the state’s last teachers’ strike, but I don’t recall the subject coming up at all after the strike ended.)

The band certainly was and is patriotic, and that came from the top. In those days, and I assume today, the National Anthem was preceded by a patriotic drill that started with “Songs to Thee Wisconsin,” and then included some combination of “Bound for the Promised Land,” the spiritual “Simple Gifts” (from which came part of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”), versions of “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful,” and like songs. That was probably a bigger challenge when UW Band director Mike Leckrone arrived on campus during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

There were a few political moments, but not many in my band days. One inadvertent controversy came when, during a debate over whether the band should play “You’ve Said It All” …

… selected because fans at the 1973 NCAA hockey tournament wanted a polka …

… which became a country song …

… that when Budweiser used it in its commercials was criticized for allegedly promoting drinking …

… Leckrone pointed out, correctly, that the melody of “The Star Spangled Banner” came from a British drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

(For those who think political issues have metastasized into ridiculousness in the 21st century, I present this as evidence that this has been the case longer than you might think.)

I somehow managed to miss band members’ playing at an appearance of Gov. Anthony Earl shortly before he lost the 1986 election. I did, however, play at an event for state Sen. Carl Otte (D–Sheboygan), because I was told he was a “friend of the Band,” and more importantly for the free food and beer. (Afterward we ended up at a tavern — I’ll pause to allow readers to recover from the shock of that statement — to see Earl and a couple of his aides playing cribbage at a nearby table.) The band has also played for governors since Earl. If the governor calls, what are you going to do?

Which brings to mind this amusing paraphrased story from Rick Telander’s book From Red Ink to Roses: The band generated some more controversy by greeting the Chicago Bears as all Wisconsinites should during a Packers game at which the band played. That apparently prompted a phone call from Gov. Tommy Thompson (a Republican) to UW–Madison chancellor Donna Shalala (not a Republican), during which (perhaps not with complete seriousness) Thompson asked Shalala what she was going to do about the band. To that, Shalala replied that she couldn’t very well reprimand the band for telling the truth.

The biggest political incident in my band days came before the 1984 UW–Ohio State football game, which (in those days when not every game was on TV) was nationally televised by CBS. That meant an 11:05 a.m. kickoff, which pushed everything else back from the usual 1 or 1:30 p.m. starts. We played the National Anthem around 10:45 a.m. When we got to the line “And the rocket’s red glare” there came a sight so bizarre that it didn’t register at first — people running on the field past us. They were members of the anti-nuclear dance group (really) Nu Parable, previously known for getting kicked out of Madison shopping malls for their mime-like “die-in” in which they simulated becoming victims of a nuclear attack. This was during the 1984 presidential campaign, when left-leaning UW students (but I repeat myself) were absolutely convinced that, having inexplicably failed to destroy the world in a giant mushroom cloud during his first term, Ronald Reagan would certainly accomplish that feat during a second term in office.

The crowd’s reaction was probably not what Nu Parable had in mind — booing once fans figured out what was going on, accompanied by the student section’s chanting “Nuke ’em!” A few of them made the mistake of “dying” in front of band members (unfortunately, not me), who literally marched over them, with one of the Nu Parables getting literally punted by a Marine reservist.

After we were done playing, a few of us went over to watch them get arrested by UW police. One of them was our drum major, who always reminded me of the Grim Reaper. If looks could have killed, there would have been no second Nu Parable die-in, because they all would have dropped dead on the spot. As it was, when they had another “die-in” before the next pre-election home game, they stayed away from the band.

The obligatory inside joke here is my having to contemplate voting for a tuba player. (The obligatory inside joke follow-up is that, I suppose, that beats having to vote for a reed-sucker.)

Readers could correctly conclude that I planned on voting for Screnock before this anyway. Our common experience in the band taught us the value of hard work whether or not anyone notices, doing more than you physically (and otherwise) think you can do, the esprit de corps of being in the world’s best college marching band, and a term you hear a lot of today — accountability without excuses or blaming someone else for your own faults and problems. That doesn’t make the UW Band a right-wing organization, and if anyone thinks it does, they are wrong. If hard work, exceeding your self-imposed limits and personal accountability are values out of favor with liberals, that is their fault.

As for Screnock’s opponent, who announced earlier this week that she has “San Francisco values,” greater San Francisco includes Palo Alto, home of Stanford University and the abomination known as the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band …

… known for this list of things, and of course acting as tackling dummies.

Compare and contrast:

The other thing Judge Screnock and I have in common is that we grew up in an era where not everything, even on the UW–Madison campus, was political. As you know, the words “change” and “progress” are not synonyms. (Though I suspect Screnock and I would both agree that change in UW football and basketball since we were in the band is both change and progress.)

 

An elected official trying to lay off himself

M.D. Kittle:

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk four years ago campaigned for the office with a novel pledge: He would do all he could in one – and only one – term to get rid of the state treasurer’s post.

On Tuesday, a state referendum question will ask voters whether the office of the treasurer should be eliminated from the constitution. And, if so, should the lieutenant governor replace the treasurer as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, administrator of the state’s Common School Fund.

It’s a yes or no question. Adamczyk is a definite yes.

“The office of the treasurer is basically symbolic in nature. It’s a relic of the past, and I say we get rid of it,” he told MacIver News Service recently on the Vicki McKenna Show, on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA. 

The referendum to amend the constitution, on the April 3 ballot, has been mostly overshadowed by the hotly contested state Supreme Court election.

But Adamczyk, a limited-government Republican, said the treasurer’s question is bigger than the ballot issue. It’s an opportunity, at least in a small way, to reduce the size and scope of state government.

“We need to show we can try to limit government somehow,” he said. “Government just can’t keep getting bigger. We have to stop the growth in government and, at a minimum limit it, and, hopefully, reduce it.”

Adamczyk has limited some of the government footprint in the office he successfully campaigned for. One of his first acts as treasurer was to cut two bureaucratic positions. He could have filled a deputy treasurer position, which paid about $85,000 per year. He declined. The treasurer said he couldn’t hire someone for a job that didn’t have any real duties.

Adamczyk said eliminating the positions and turning the mostly symbolic treasurer’s office into a one-man show will save taxpayers about $1 million in salaries and benefits over the course of his four-year term.

Taxpayers would save another $70,000 a year in treasurer’s salary, if voters move to eliminate the office.

While an essential part of state government when Wisconsin became a state in 1848, the treasurer’s office has seen most of its duties and responsibilities shifted to other agencies. The treasurer’s remaining constitutional responsibility is to serve on the three-member Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, alongside the attorney general and the secretary of state. The referendum question would turn that obligation over to the lieutenant governor.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed in two consecutive sessions (as the constitution requires) a resolution to take the treasurer’s question to voters. The measure earned some bipartisan support in the Assembly.

Critics of the campaign to put the treasurer’s office out of its misery insist the move is “another power grab” by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Big government defenders such as Madison Alderman Mark Clear have urged residents of the liberal city to vote “no” on the resolution.

“The next State Treasurer should focus on providing independent information to the public about the state’s budget and fiscal health, as well as encouraging the Legislature to restore the position’s financial oversight authority,” Clear said in a press release.

But referendum question supporters, like state Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Brookfield), say the effort is about streamlining government, making it more efficient and accountable by eliminating an unnecessary office.

Adamczyk, who earlier announced he is running for the Assembly seat being vacated by state Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), said he’s optimistic voters will take the “opportunity to make government smaller.”

“Most people do vote that way when given a direct chance to make government a little bit smaller,” the outgoing treasurer said.

Former state Treasurer Jack Voight wants voters to reject a referendum on April 3 that would eliminate his old job. However, his “Save Our Fiscal Watchdog” group could use a fiscal watchdog themselves.

Save Our Fiscal Watchdog submitted a campaign finance statement to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission that they raised only $209.11 for their effort and spent only $18.89 on bank charges. However, the campaign finance statement, written by Voight as the organization’s treasurer, does not include the creation of the organization’s website.

“Well, I guess somebody else created that and there was no bill for that,” Voight explained in a phone interview Tuesday. “I guess it’d be like an in-kind contribution. I suppose I could amend it to an in-kind contribution. I should do that.”

When asked who designed the website, Voight said he didn’t know. “I didn’t ask the committee who did it,” Voight said. “I probably should have asked that.”

Voight, a Republican who served three terms as state treasurer from 1995 to 2007, has been a vocal proponent of saving the endangered state constitutional office. Likewise, the website asks voters not to eliminate the treasurer’s position.

“On April 3, Wisconsin voters will be asked if they want to eliminate the office of the Wisconsin State Treasurer from our Constitution,” the website says. “This would make us the only state in the U.S. without a Treasurer or an equivalent watchdog office.”

However, the last two state treasurers were elected on a platform of eliminating the position which has grown almost completely powerless over the years. The only remaining duty of the state treasurer is to sit on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), a constitutionally mandated duty that would go to the lieutenant governor’s office if a majority of voters vote yes to eliminate the treasurer’s office. …

Democrats and Voight have argued against eliminating the constitutional office, saying that it puts too much control of the BCPL in the hands of the Executive Branch by putting the lieutenant governor on the board instead. However, the lieutenant governor would be the only executive branch officer on the board, with the state attorney general and the secretary of state also continuing to serve on the board.

In addition to statements on the campaign website defending keeping the state treasurer’s position, the website also features a “vote no” campaign YouTube video, the production costs of which were also not included in the “Save Our Fiscal Watchdog” campaign finance statement.

The opponents of eliminating $70,000 in state payroll do not accurately portray what the office does. The position is not a watchdog of public funds, and hasn’t been for a long time, well before this effort to eliminate the office. Opponents also claim the duties of the office have been taken by unelected bureaucrats, which is rich for Democrats (which Voight is not) to assert given that those “unelected bureaucrats” are overwhelmingly Democrats.

James Wigderson adds:

Getting rid of the state treasurer is not a new idea. When my grandfather ran for Secretary of State in the 1950s, the Waukesha Freeman wondered in an editorial why that position and the state treasurer were still elected offices. Since then, both positions have lost considerable amounts of responsibility.

The fiscal estimates are now done by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Unclaimed property is now handled by the Department of Revenue. (Full disclosure, they sent me a $20 check without me applying to reclaim the money. The system works.)

Meanwhile, the continued presence of Doug La Follette as Secretary of State proves the worthlessness of that constitutional office.

It’s spring cleaning time, and the Capitol basement would be better off used for storage.

Then and now

Dan O’Donnell:

A new report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce concludes that when Wisconsin’s massive new Foxconn plant is fully operational, it will increase the state’s gross domestic product by a whopping $51.5 bill over the next 15 years.  That amounts to roughly $3.4 billion per year and represents an $18 return on every $1 the state will spend on Foxconn tax incentives.

Just a day before that report was released, the Wisconsin Department of Labor announced that the state’s unemployment rate had dropped to an all-time low of 2.9% in February.

Both are cause for celebration in the Walker Administration, as both serve as validation of his economic agenda.  Just as importantly, though, both should serve as a reminder of how far Wisconsin has come under Republican rule after the disastrous reign of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and a Democrat-controlled Legislature.

While Walker and the Republican Legislature have presided over a steadily declining unemployment rate that hit a record low last month, at the exact same time in Governor Doyle’s tenure–February of 2010–the state’s unemployment rate was at a near-record high of 9.1% (Incidentally, the record high of 9.2% was set the previous month.)

Today, initial unemployment claims are at their lowest level in at least 30 years, while continuing unemployment claims are at their lowest level since 1973.  Under Governor Doyle, Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance trust fund was more than $1 billion in debt.

Wisconsin’s total workforce participation rate now is higher than at any point in Wisconsin’s history, with a total of 3.075 million people now working.  At the same point in Governor Doyle’s second term, Wisconsin had 133,943 fewer jobs than at the end of Governor Doyle’s first term in 2006.

Fewer people were working, and those who were were earning less than they are now. Wages under Governor Walker are higher than they were under Governor Doyle (even adjusted for inflation).  Even Politifact had to (grudgingly) concede that “adjusting for inflation, the average wage is higher under Walker than it was when Doyle left office in 2010.”

It should be pointed out that the unemployment measure used here is too low. The correct measure is U6 — unemployment, underemployment (people working part-time who want to work full-time) and those who have stopped looking for full-time work. That seasonally adjusted national U6 rate in February was 8.2 percent. The feds don’t measure state U6 numbers, so we don’t know what Wisconsin’s U6 unemployment is.

The feds have measured U6 unemployment since 1994. The federal U6 number throughout 2010 ranged from 16.4 to 17.1 percent. The current U6 number is the lowest it has been since May 2007.

It also should be pointed out that for significant periods of Doyle’s term in office, the state unemployment rate was higher than the nation’s. The point here is that however measured, as measured by how unemployment is measured in the U.S. and in every state, this state is doing better than the nation and most states.

In large measure, this is because Governor Walker’s policies have been infinitely more business-friendly than Governor Doyle’s.  In 2010, Chief Executive Magazine ranked Wisconsin the ninth-worst state in America in which to do business.  Today, at the same point in Governor Walker’s second term, Wisconsin is ranked in the Top 10 for the first time ever.

It turns out that improving a state’s business climate, which results in more employment and less unemployment, requires business-friendly government policies. Liberals hate to read or hear that fact.

The State of Wisconsin’s financial health is just as strong as that of its citizens under Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature as well.  The state currently has a $579 million surplus in its main account and projects to finish the current 2017-2019 biennial budget cycle with a $385.2 million surplus. By contrast, under Governor Doyle Wisconsin ran a $2.7 billion budget deficit (after Doyle himself estimated in 2008 that the deficit could be as massive as $5 billion).

So dire was the financial situation that the Doyle Administration routinely raided the state’s transportation fund, eventually transferring a total of nearly $1.3 billion between 2003 and 2010 to try to plug near-constant budget gaps.  In October of 2007, the state even raided $200 million from the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund–money that was supposed to be held in trust for the victims of medical malpractice or accidents–a move the the State Supreme Court later determined to be unlawful and ordered Doyle to repay it.

Today, however, there is no need for budget raids. Wisconsin is running a budget surplus, and the Foxconn deal Governor Walker struck is estimated to add $3.4 billion per year to the state’s GDP. Business is booming and Wisconsinites are working in record numbers because Walker, unlike Doyle, is allowing Wisconsin to work by enacting policies that allow businesses to do business freely in Wisconsin.

After nearly eight years of those policies–unlike after eight years of Governor Doyle’s failures–it’s clear that Walker’s and the Republican Legislature’s brand of fiscal conservatism works for Wisconsin. It works, period.

So today, eight months before a gubernatorial election; with so much economic progress already having been made, one has to ask: why would Wisconsin ever think about turning back now?

From San Francisco, Wis.

James Wigderson:

Judge Rebecca Dallet, a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, told an audience at a fundraiser for her in San Francisco, CA, that her campaign is an effort to bring their values back to Wisconsin.

“It’s San Francisco. Like this is awesome, the people,” Dallet said. “I know that your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way, and I appreciate that you’re all here.”

Dallet, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge, heeded Horace Greeley’s advice and went west with her campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday. It is unknown how much California special interest money her campaign received on the trip.

Later, in a story about marrying her husband, Dallet clarified what she meant by San Francisco values.

“So we made a choice to move to Wisconsin because it had the progressive values, a lot of things you have here in your city still which we kind of lost,” Dallet said.

Dallet’s remarks were released by the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) on Tuesday and posted on YouTube. They were first aired on the Mark Belling Show on WISN-AM on Tuesday.

The trip to California was organized by Oakland-based Democratic political consultants 50+1 Strategies, according to Dallet who thanked them. In January, Dallet paid the consultants $7000 for their services. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who recently endorsed Dallet’s candidacy, is among the prominent Democratic clients of 50+1.

The California fundraising trip was sharply criticized by her opponent, Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock.

“While Judge Screnock has focused his campaign on his judicial philosophy, his experience, and the proper role of the court, Judge Dallet has unfortunately tried everything in her power to nationalize her campaign and make this election about extreme liberal interests,” Screnock’s campaign said in a statement Tuesday. “If Judge Dallet is going to embrace national partisan politics and spend her time raising money in San Francisco with Democrat California legislators instead of campaigning in Wisconsin, Badger State voters deserve to know what promises she made to the wealthy out-of-state donors she is now relying on to bankroll her campaign.”

Ironically, in her remarks, Dallet complained to the California donors about out-of-state special interest money.

“We have had special interest money pouring into our state buying justice, or a Justice,” Dallet said. “And in the case of the man I announced I was running against, Justice Gableman, $2.25 million were spent on his race by one group alone.”

Dallet, however, has not condemned former Attorney Gen. Eric Holder or his organization for spending $140,000 on her behalf in an effort to change the Supreme Court to support his organization’s goals of changing redistricting in the states.

Dallet further criticized Gableman for refusing to recuse himself from the John Doe case which the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional. However, Dallet in recent days has also been fighting charges of not recusing herself and actually fundraising from cases that are on her court calendar.

Despite distancing herself earlier from fellow liberal Tim Burns in the primary on giving advance opinions on cases that could come before the state Supreme Court, Dallet tells the audience she is opposed to the way Wisconsin’s legislative districts are drawn and that she supports the current court fight to overturn the legislature’s map-drawing authority.

“Unfortunately, we’re known as the gerrymandering state,” Dallet said. “We brought that wonderful case up to the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, where it’s sitting waiting for a decision. But our Republican legislature gerrymandered to such an extent that our federal court found it unconstitutional and now the United States Supreme Court has a chance to hopefully say it’s really important to protect everyone’s right to vote.”

The case, Gill v. Whitford, does not have anything to do with the right to vote but whether legislative districts can be drawn that are not competitive.

Dallet also bragged to the San Francisco audience about the liberal Democratic support she’s recently received. “I got a great shout out from Rachel Maddow last week which is really cool,” Dallet said.

“But my race is the next big race in our country, and it is because of the impact,” Dallet said. “The impact across, not just Wisconsin, but across the nation.”

Dallet also listed Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin among her liberal supporters. Baldwin recently announced that her campaign offices around the state will be used to try to get Dallet elected.

The Republican Party criticized Dallet for trying to appeal to the liberal donors.

“Dallet got comfortable with far-left donors in California and showed just how liberal she really is,” said Alec Zimmerman, the RPW Communications Director. “After starting her campaign touting the need for an independent and fair judiciary, she’s proving that she’ll be anything but.”

In addition to fundraising in California, Dallet said she is appealing to Democrats around the country for help. She is even posting online lists of Wisconsin voters for anyone around the country to call. “So we have phone banking going on from anywhere in the nation,” Dallet said.

 One wonders if this, from the Daily Caller, is what Dallet referred to as ‘San Francisco values”:

While the debate might rage on as to what constitutes a “shithole” of a country, one thing is not up for debate: the American city of San Francisco is a shithole.

We know this thanks to an interactive map created in 2014 called Human Wasteland.

The map charts all of the locations for human excrement “incidents” reported to the San Francisco police during a given month. The interactive map shows precise locations of the incidents by marking them with poop emojis:

According to the SF Weekly, San Francisco has a major shithole problem:

St. George Alley can harbor up to 30 piles of poop per week, Department of Public Works employee Steve Mahoney told SFist. That’s exceptional. But it also illustrates a seemingly intractable problem in a city with limited public restrooms, constricted homeless services, and a line of filthy JCDecaux bunker toilets that often sit unused.

Dallet should have said “Madison values” or “Milwaukee values.” That would be more accurate.

Whose protest?

James Wigderson notes today:

In case you’re not aware, today is Pi Day, or March 14th, or 3.14. Those of you who didn’t skip math class to go protest will remember that Pi, or π, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, or π=c/d. The circumference of a circle it 2πr and the area of a circle is πr² which is really funny because everyone knows pies are round.

It’s an old joke, and I’m sure the Ancient Greeks thought it was funny. It’s like the little acorn in math class who suddenly exclaims, “Gee, I’m a tree!” Sound it out a couple of times, and then tell your kids that one.

I know where my daughter is today because today is the day parents can join their kids for lunch at school. And given a long experience with school cafeterias, I am definitely bringing my own lunch. (It’s a school so I won’t be bringing the WC Fields special.) 

Unfortunately, in so many other schools, kids are being transported to little protest spots to be props for Democrats seeking to make gun control an issue. In Madison, the high school kids are being transported from West, Lafollette and Memorial High Schools to East High School by bus so they then can go march on the Capitol.

But we know it’s a spontaneous uprising of the kids, right? Because so many of them have the wherewithal and credit cards necessary to charter buses.

Governor Scott Walker, wisely, will be out of the Capitol today at a bill signing. And state Senate Republicans are meeting behind closed doors today to actually work on a real school safety plan, not the result of a hyped-up tantrum that’ll be thrown outside the Capitol today.

In other words, the grownups are working. Some are working at manipulating kids for their own ends, while others are actually working today to solve the state’s problems.

The losers today are the children who get to be used as political props and then miss a day of school. They’re going to learn the wrong lessons. Instead of learning about math, or even about the life of Dr. Stephen Hawking, they’re going to learn that as long as they throw a tantrum, adults will pretend to listen. The media that’s covering these student protests as legitimate are doing the kids no favors, either.

There is no wisdom to be found in adolescence, nor in indulging the adolescents. Wisdom is found in reason, experience and listening, something Wisconsin’s Democrats haven’t learned since they began their tantrum in 2011.

Meanwhile, back in the land of cheese …

Dan O’Donnell:

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll results show that the long-predicted “blue wave” in November might not crash into Wisconsin after all.  While 2018 may indeed be a big Democrat year, voters in Wisconsin are telling pollsters that they don’t much care for Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin.

After nearly a full six-year term, Senator Baldwin has the support of just 37% of the poll’s respondents, while 39% have an unfavorable view of her.  A full 20% say they don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.  In an election year, those numbers are nothing short of catastrophic for an incumbent.  Not only is she underwater, she has clearly accomplished so little in her time in Washington that a fifth of Wisconsinites can’t say one way or another what they think about anything she’s done (or, more accurately, failed to do).

This means that her challengers, State Senator Leah Vukmir and businessman Kevin Nicholson, are still able to define for voters who exactly Baldwin is–a scary proposition for any vulnerable incumbent. Though Nicholson and Vukmir are still virtual unknowns–a whopping 80% of Marquette Poll respondents don’t yet know enough about either to form an opinion–they have a tremendous opening to build their candidacies on the back of Baldwin’s shameful negligence on opioid over-prescription at the Veterans Affairs facility in Tomah.

Because of Baldwin’s remarkably low profile in Washington, her refusal to listen to a whistleblower’s information about the problems at the VA is what overwhelmingly defines her term in office. This is a transgression that cuts through the static of nonstop election-year political advertising and either changes voters’ minds or steels their resolve to vote out their do-nothing Senator.

Let’s face it: “Senator Baldwin did nothing while our veterans died of overdoses” is a far more powerful message than “Senator Baldwin is wrong on trade policy.”

This is the uphill battle that Baldwin has to fight, and the fact that she is brazenly (and dishonestly) running advertisements touting her record on veterans affairs speaks volumes about how scared she is that this issue will cost her re-election.

Conversely, the poll shows that Governor Walker should be feeling confident in his bid for re-election. He stands at 47% approval with 47% disapproval–the exact same split he saw in the March, 2014 Marquette Poll.  He went on to defeat Mary Burke rather handily that November even though Burke was the Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate and faced no serious competition in the primary.

This year, a crowded Democratic primary field is ensuring that none of the candidates has eight free months to attack Walker.  They must instead spend every moment and every dollar differentiating themselves from the rest of the pack.  In all likelihood, this means moving to the left of the competition in a bid to secure the Democratic Party’s increasingly radical base.

Ask Hillary Clinton how well that worked two years ago.

Wisconsin’s Democrats made it clear during that primary that they wanted an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, and chose him overwhelmingly over the more moderate Clinton.  Similarly, to escape the 2018 primary, a more moderate Democrat like Tony Evers (who is currently leading the field at 18%) will have to move left to fend off a challenge from the likes of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin or Firefighters Union President Mahlon Mitchell.

Making matters even worse for the Democratic field, 53% of Marquette poll respondents say Wisconsin is on the right track.  With record-low unemployment and major business investments in the state during Walker’s tenure in office, it will be very difficult to change voters’ minds that the past seven years have been very good for the state.

The one bit of good news that Democrats received from this poll is the enthusiasm gap: While 54% of Republicans say they are very motivated to vote this year, 64% of Democrats say the same.  It will therefore take far less convincing to get Democrats out to the polls and, as has been proven time and again in Wisconsin, winning requires that a candidate first and foremost turn out the base.

If Democrats can do this in far greater numbers than Republicans, then they can theoretically recapture the Governor’s mansion and hold onto the Senate seat, but there is simply no indication that the voter base that elected Walker three times in three years will suddenly abandon him in 2018.  If that happens, and if enough of the 20% of voters who still don’t know about Senator Baldwin learn about and are repulsed by her handling of the Tomah V.A. scandal, then November might be far better for Wisconsin Republicans than they fear.

Reflections on when a bank robber is the victim

David Blaska reports the latest incident of Madison stupidity:

The aborted bank robbery on Madison’s far east side is what separates our liberal-progressive-socialists acquaintances from the rest of us.

Thursday’s was the fourth robbery in 14 months at the Chase branch bank on Milwaukee Street, located in a residential neighborhood. Following the one in early December. All of them armed or thought to be armed.

An armed bank security guard shot the suspected robber dead with a single bullet. Would that his security guard been on duty at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School! We’ve said this before: we protect our money with force of arms but not our school children.

About this time, the AnonyBobbers will cavil that an armed policeman patrols each of the four Madison public high schools. Not if the social justice warriors get their way. Consider, also, the difference between the lobby of a branch bank and the sprawling campus of a Madison high school enrolled with over 1,500 students plus a couple hundred staff.

Alder Amanda Hall represents the neighborhood surrounding the Chase branch bank. If you did not know Ald. Hall was a Madison liberal-progressive-socialist, the lady gives it away with her response to the crime, as reported by the WI State Journal:

Hall said the city and the community should reflect on the crime and assess what action can be taken and services provided that could prevent people from turning to crime or violence.

“What this looks like to me is we have a young man, who didn’t have the community support and the community opportunity to make a different choice with what he was going to do with his Thursday,” Hall said. “And now he’s dead.”

Notice the lack of human agency? The resort to victimology? The disinterest in the threat the armed robber posed to innocent civilians? The appeal to More Free Stuff? Yes, now the poor bastard is dead. His death is on your conscience, you heartless conservatives.

  • Walker, Trump, and Koch Brothers! You denied the dead bank robber the services that could have prevented him from meeting his needs at the bank till, at the expense of honest working people.
  • CPAC, Legislative Exchange Council, Federalist Society! Guilty of immigration reform, school choice, and constitutional textualism when what was needed was a nationwide Madison Schools’ Behavior Education Plan!
  • Fox News, NRA, WMC, and Right to Life! You prevented the dead robber from making a different choice with what he was going to do with his Thursday. Not enough neighborhood centers, apparently. All those “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring” signs mocked the poor fellow’s need for instant cash.

One could say that the bank security sharpshooter prevented crime, at least on the part of that one perp.

The State Journal reported Friday:

A man shot and killed by a security guard Thursday afternoon was unarmed when he allegedly tried to rob a Far East Side bank, Madison police Chief Mike Koval said.

The man, who is believed to be a Latino man in his 20s, entered the Chase Bank at 4513 Milwaukee St. at about 4:50 p.m. with his face covered, Koval said.

The man kept his hands covered or obscured while forcefully demanding money, Koval said, which he said could imply the man had a gun.

The armed security guard, employed through Off Duty Services of Katy, Texas, shot the man, who died from a single gunshot wound, Koval said.

The Dane County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether the shooting warrants charges, Koval said, and the guard’s name would not be released unless charges are filed.

This fact doesn’t change my opinion of this in the least. The security guard should get a medal for saving the other people in the bank from what they all had to believe was a threat to their lives, irrespective of whether the bandit thought he could scare them by saying he was armed when he wasn’t.

The deceased is Luis Martz Narvaez, 35, South Milwaukee, who was most recently convicted of speeding 30 to 34 mph over the speed limit in Milwaukee County. By the time Narvaez reached his 18th birthday he had been convicted of felony car theft, felony escape from criminal arrest twice, retail theft twice, misdemeanor bail jumping, and resisting or obstructing an officer.

The felony escape charge sentences (five years on probation and one year in jail, respectively) were assessed while Narvaez’s official address was listed as the federal penitentiary in Jonesville, Va. Narvaez was there because he was convicted of bank robbery in 2003. His sentence of 170 months in prison was reduced in 2011 following a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, knocking five years off his sentence. Draw your own conclusions.

The State Journal tries to generate sympathy for the deceased felon:

On Nov. 26, 2003, U.S. District Judge John Shabaz sentenced Narvaez, who was 21 at the time, to just over 14 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to robbing Wisconsin Community Bank in Middleton in 2002.

According to a transcript of his sentencing hearing, a prosecutor said the gun Narvaez used in the robbery was a BB gun, although tellers believed it was an actual gun.

His lawyer, Anthony Delyea, told Shabaz, according to the transcript, that Narvaez’s father spent a lot of time in prison, while his mother moved around a lot. He said Narvaez’s life deteriorated after his father got out of prison. He had struggled with drugs and with family problems, Delyea told Shabaz, and struggled to find work.

“But this young man is just that, a young man with lots of potential,” Delyea told Shabaz. “He made a mistake, he accepts his mistake and he is prepared to pay the price, pay restitution, turn his life around and move on.”Narvaez told Shabaz that he wanted to get help for his drug problem and get an education.“Since I’ve done this I’ve had some time to think about it and I realize I’ve thrown a big part of my life away,” Narvaez said. “I don’t know if it was the drugs or the stress but I made a really bad decision and I want to change.”

In 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ordered Narvaez to be re-sentenced without a sentencing enhancement as a career criminal, due to a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the appeals court said applied to Narvaez’s case. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb re-sentenced him to just over eight years in prison, essentially commuting his sentence to the time he had served.

According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, Narvaez was released from prison on May 23, 2012.

In November 2013, Narvaez transferred his federal supervision to Minnesota. His supervision ended in 2015.

Narvaez has already become a martyr given his listing on GunMemorial.org and GunViolenceArchive.org. Neither site acknowledges why Narvaez is no longer among the living.

An incident like this came up when I was on Wisconsin Public Radio some time ago, and my opponent claimed that the dead guy in that case didn’t do anything to deserve being killed by, I believe in this case, police, and that his due process rights were violated, blah blah blah. Due process is something government (that is, the court system) is required to do. Due process is not something someone threatening to harm others should get.

While capital punishment is not a deterrent, the bank robber won’t be robbing banks or engaging in any more criminal activity. If we had more instances like this, where the bad guy ends up dead, our crime rate would drop.

My last reflection on this crime is that Hall and her ilk are on the wrong side and shouldn’t be in office. Given that I grew up in that part of Madison, which was comparatively, well, less liberal than the rest of my hometown, I have to wonder who moved into my neighborhood and voted for this criminal sympathizer.