Common Sense Returning to Midwest?


Saw this and couldn’t really believe it.  Still not sure I do.  Perhaps because I live in a liberal part of Wisconsin.

Still, I do notice a more vocal and determined opposition among my conservative friends.  It’s like a hive of bees who were minding their own business, until someone came along and poked it with a stick.

But are we fighting mad enough?

Via Hot Air,

Conservatism on the Upswing in…Midwest?

My friend Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota has been parsing 160 polls taken recently in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, and found a surprising resultDespite having elected Barack Obama by wide margins in most of the states, voters in the region have become more conservative over the past two years.  Self-identifying conservatives have reached their highest levels in at least four years (via Mitch Berg):

In 2006, the percentage of Minnesotans identifying as conservatives plunged 5.3 points (15.9 percent) to just 28.1 percent of Gopher State residents. Self-identified conservatives in Iowa also declined by 5.1 points (13.9 percent) to 31.5 percent that year, with the largest drop occurring in Wisconsin, with a 6.1-point decline (16.9 percent) to 29.9 percent. In that November’s election cycle, Republicans lost control of the Minnesota House, the Iowa House, the Wisconsin Senate, as well as three U.S. House seats (MN-01, IA-01, WI-08).

The percentage of residents identifying as conservatives declined again in 2007, by 1.6 points in Minnesota (to 26.5 percent), by 3.0 points in Iowa (to 28.5 percent), and by 2.2 points in Wisconsin (to 27.7 percent).

However, during the last two years, conservatism seems to be mounting a comeback in the Upper Midwest, even though the 2008 election cycle saw Republicans lose control of the Wisconsin Assembly, and lose additional seats in the Minnesota House, Minnesota Senate, Iowa House, and Iowa Senate.

In Minnesota, those Gopher State residents identifying as conservative increased by 1.3 points in 2008 (to 27.8 percent) and by another 1.2 points to 29.0 percent in an aggregation of polling data through the first five months of 2009. This marks the largest percentage of Minnesotans viewing themselves as conservative since 2005.

In Iowa and Wisconsin, the conservative resurgence has been even more pronounced.

Obviously, that didn’t help much in 2008, but part of the answer for that may be in the candidates fielded by the Republicans.  John McCain did not identify with the conservative wing of the party at all until he needed them in 2008, for instance, although McCain has been a fiscal conservative during his Senate career.  The GOP for the most part moved away from conservative principles in order to seem more moderate to voters, and got rewarded with a shellacking.

This could also explain one Congressional victory for MN Republicans.  We heard a great deal about how MN-03 was a transitional district, and that Eric Paulsen was too conservative to win with its voters.  Instead, Paulsen cruised to an easy victory despite his unapologetic embrace of conservative principles, especially on fiscal policy.

Barack Obama’s aggressively statist policies will likely accelerate this reaction, especially if the American economy continues to shrink.  Ostermeier’s data suggests that the way forward for Republicans isn’t to find people who will meekly acquiesce to Obama’s fiscal policies, but to find candidates willing and able to express and defend conservative principles. If every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, Obama’s radical restructuring of the American economy gives conservatives a great opportunity to take seats in Congress at the midterms.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

“White House Pushing to Gag Stimulus Critics”

From Michelle Malkin,

Caution: Obama gangland tactics at work.

In keeping with his past campaign tactics to shut critics up through brute force, the White House appears to be taking steps to crack down on critics of the trillion-dollar porkulus law.

Is anyone surprised? Mark Tapscott at the Examiner reports:

A new White House policy on permissible lobbying on economic recovery and stimulus project has taken a decidedly anti-First Amendment turn. It’s a classic illustration of Big Government trying to control every aspect of a particular activity and in the process running up against civil liberty.

Check out this passage from a post on the White House blog by Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President on Ethics and Government Reform (emphasis added):

“First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Writes Tapscott:

The key passage is the reference to expanding regulation from registered lobbyists to “anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.”

This is the Camel’s nose under the tent…

More from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air,

Silencing dissent and criticism is “necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program”?  Gee, what “unique circumstances” might those be?  Perhaps the fact that it costs more than the Moon shot, and has yet to halt the economic skid.  Maybe it’s the fact that most of the stimulus package doesn’t actually stimulate anything except doctrinaire liberal dreams and the pens that check off the items from the Democratic wish list.

Remember when the Left took to the streets to declare dissent “patriotic” during wartime?  I didn’t have a problem with dissent then, but apparently the Left has a curious definition of “patriotism”.  Now, suddenly, the federal government can silence their critics at will, not to protect critical national-security programs or keep from undermining a war effort, but to protect a Democratic president intent on seizing control of private industry across a wide swath of the nation.  Suddenly, that kind of dissent threatens America.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm  Comments (1)  

Friday’s FrontPage

You’ll find the link to the podcast of Friday’s WWIB FrontPage radio show here.

Mark Halvorsen and I talked to WI State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) about the Joint Finance Committee’s final budget, featuring: driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, mandatory minumums on auto insurance, 75 cent increase in cigarette tax, 75 cent/month cell phone tax, releasing felons from prisons, more money for education, and “domestic partnership” benefits for state workers (same or opposite sex).

(Three Democrats were invited to discuss the budget, but were unable or unwilling to talk)

We also discussed proposed state legislation limiting interest charged by payday loan stores.

Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dealership Closings Reak of Partisan Hit-Job

From the Washington Examiner,

Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.

The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership is on the hit list. Buchanan also has a Nissan franchise paired with the Chrysler facility in Venice.

“It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine,” said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. “You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs,” Buchanan told News 10, a local Florida television station…

Also fueling the controversy is the fact the RLJ-McCarty-Landers chain of Arkansas and Missouri dealerships aren’t being closed, but many of their local competitors are being eliminated. Go here for a detailed look at this situation. McClarty is the former Clinton senior aide. The “J” is Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Television, a heavy Democratic contributor.

A lawyer representing a group of  Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later told Reuters that he believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House.

“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers. It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force,” said attorney Leonard Bellavia.’s Josh Painter has a useful roundup of what has been found so far by a growing number of bloggers digging into what could be a very big story indeed. Also, see my column on this issue and how it fits into the larger context dubbed by the Examiner’s Michael Barone as “gangster government.”

As part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy agreement with the White House, the company plans to close roughly a quarter of its 3,200 dealerships.  Lists of the dealerships being cut and those retaining their Chrysler franchises can be found here in pdf format. Many dealers contend the criteria being used to determine which dealerships survive is not clear and that many of those that are being closed in fact are profitable businesses, despite the current recession.

More on the story from Michelle Malkin here.

Published in: on May 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm  Comments (3)  

“Uncle Sam’s Way-Too-Nosy-Survey”

From the NY Post,

WHERE’S the outrage?

With all the recent obsessing over the “rights” of terrorists in Guantanamo, and the idea that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee should support “the constitutional right to privacy,” you’d expect the civil-liberties crowd to be inflamed by the federal government forcing Americans to disclose sensitive information about their finances, health and lifestyles.

You would be wrong.

Recently nearly 3 million Americans were sent the American Community Survey. An annual supplement to the decennial Census, the 28-page survey pursues obnoxious nanny-state details such as whether your home has a flush toilet, what kind of fuel you use for heat and how much you spend on everything from electricity and flood insurance to your mortgage and property taxes.

Then come the really nosy questions, ranging from your college major and your health insurance to how you spend each day at the office. The survey even asks what time you leave for work, down to the hour and minute.

It also asks whether, “because of a physical, mental or emotional condition,” you have difficulty “concentrating, remembering or making decisions,” “walking or climbing stairs,” “doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping” or “dressing or bathing.”

So much for keeping government out of the bedroom. The survey also demands your current marital status; whether you’ve been married, widowed or divorced in the last 12 months, and how many times you’ve been married. If you’re a woman between the ages of 15 and 50, you must also answer whether you’ve given birth in the last 12 months. The Census Bureau says this “measure of fertility” is used to “carry out various programs required by statute, including . . . conducting research for voluntary family planning programs.” What was that about a “woman’s right to privacy”?

It’s tempting to toss the survey in the circular file, but recipients are required by law to respond. According to the Census Web site, the fine for non-participation can be as much as $5,000, and filing false information can pack a $500 punch.

Why all this intrusion? The Constitution allows for the “enumeration” of Americans for the purposes of taxation and apportioning political representation — but this survey isn’t part of the head-counting. The information is used by the government to spread around your tax dollars and justify federal bureaucracies; it can also be distributed to private businesses.

The feds say the data will stay secure, but after recent episodes in which personal records were compromised by the State and Veterans Affairs departments, some skepticism is understandable.

Jim Harper, a privacy expert at the Cato Institute, calls the survey “a classic example of mission creep over the decades — this constitutional need to literally count how many noses are in the United States has turned into a vast data-collection operation.” Toss in the push for the 2010 Census to be run out of the White House, and it adds up to a real intrusion into private lives, with the goal of further expanding government’s reach.

There is spirited opposition to the survey, ranging from libertarian bloggers to Rep. Ron Paul, who has called it “insulting.” Yet civil-liberties groups are strangely quiet.

NARAL didn’t respond to a request for comment and an American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman said last week that she “couldn’t find anyone to talk.” But an organization fact sheet says the survey is not unconstitutional, adding that the Census “serves a vital role in our democracy . . . it determines apportionment for voting, as well as helps allocate other government benefits such as anti-poverty programs.”

So, we shouldn’t listen in on terrorists to save American lives — but intrusions into your privacy to support causes the left likes are just fine.

The good news is that I called the help number on my form and a Census representative finally conceded that the government was unlikely to pursue punishment if I didn’t respond, saying it would be “a waste of time and money.”

Maybe that’s enough to risk telling the government what to do with its survey. But if you do end up facing a harassing Census-taker — well, don’t count on the civil-liberties crowd for help.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Case Against Sotomayor

I was likely to disagree with Obama’s SCOTUS nominee no matter what, but this one’s got me just dumbfounded.

The President, who likes to remind us constantly that he was a Constitutional law professor, should be expected to pick someone who sees the Constitution and the rule of law as the authority.

But no.

From Michelle Malkin,

“Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court would be very concerning given her hard-left record on the Court of Appeals, where she is recognized by practitioners as one of the more liberal judges.

“Judge Sotomayor’s personal views may cloud her jurisprudence. As Judge Sotomayor explained in a 2002 speech at Berkeley, she believes it is appropriate for a judge to consider their “experiences as women and people of color” in their decision making, which she believes should “affect our decisions.”

Did you catch that?  Decisions based on being a woman, or an Hispanic, rather that the Constitution.

Sotomayor said the court is where “policy is made”:

Via Hot Air, Karl Rove’s take on Sotomayor:

And from NBC, “Do Republicans dare vote against an Hispanic?”

If they don’t, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm  Comments (1)  

“Federal Employees Never Get Voted Off the Island”

You might want to put one hand on your chin, so you can be ready when your jaw drops over this.

The pampered life of a federal employee…

Via The- invaluable- Heritage Foundation,

If you need another reason to not let bloated government run wild, watch this video and read this paper:

…the federal civilian workforce has become an elite island of secure and highly paid workers, separated from the ocean of private-sector American workers who must compete in today’s dynamic economy.

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Not Our Goal to Reduce the Number of Abortions”

Via Hot Air,

Uttered at a meeting of abortion interest groups, pro and con, to discuss the sort of meaningless “common ground” to which Obama paid lip service at Notre Dame.

I noted that there are three main ways the administration can reach its goals: by what it funds, its messages from the bully pulpit, and by what it restricts. It is universally agreed that the role of parents is crucial, so government should not deny parents the ability to be involved in vital decisions. The goals need to be clear; the amount of funding spent to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions is not a goal. The U.S. spends nearly $2 billion each year on contraception programs — programs which began in the 1970s — and they’ve clearly failed. We need to take an honest look at why they are not working.

Melody testily interrupted to state that she had to correct me. “It is not our goal to reduce the number of abortions.”

The room was silent.

The goal, she insisted, is to “reduce the need for abortions.”…

Abortion advocates object to the phrase “reducing abortions.” It connotes that there is something bad or immoral about abortion. Melody’s background as a board member of one of the most hard-core abortion groups in the country (Emily’s List even opposes bans on partial-birth abortion) sheds light on why she was irritated when that was stated as her boss’ goal.

What exactly is the policy difference between reducing abortions and reducing “the need for” abortions? In theory, they amount to the same thing: More funding for contraception, more economic incentives for pregnant women to make it financially viable for them to carry to term, etc. The author, Wendy Wright, takes this as a sign that Obama’s not planning to do anything differently on abortion except tweak the rhetoric, which is an eminently fair conclusion given his record but cuts against the logic of her piece. Sounds to me like the dopey rhetorical distinction (doesn’t the fact that they’re trying to reduce the practice sufficiently signal that it’s “bad or immoral”?) is meant to appease pro-choicers in advance of a baby step — no pun intended — towards providing more support for life. Although … that can’t possibly be true, can it?

While you mull, for your consideration, the latest ad from CatholicVote on this subject.

Update: I think the difference between reducing the number of abortions and the “need” for abortions is the same difference between creating jobs and “creating or saving” jobs.

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Democrat Visits Disney World, Suddenly Decides Everyone Should Have Paid Vacations”

Walt Disney Co. TM

Walt Disney Co. TM

You want to get paid to sit around?



I always suspected this was how they came up with policy. One fun ride on the teacups and they’re ready to lay down a mandate for 300 million people. At least it was somewhere wholesome, though; imagine where Ted Kennedy must have been when he came up with all of his “good ideas.”

Millions of paid employee absences imposed in one fell swoop on business already struggling with the worst economy since the Depression. What could go wrong?

“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” said Grayson, a freshman who counts Orlando as part of his home district. “Honestly, as much as I appreciate this job and as much as I enjoy it, the best days of my life are and always have been the days I’m on vacation.”

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 28 million Americans — or about a quarter of the work force — don’t get any paid vacation. The center says that a lack of vacation causes stress and workplace burnout and that those evil twins cost the economy more than $300 billion each year.

One more if-you’re-reading-this-then-you’re-probably-not-on-vacation fact: The United States is dead last among 21 industrial countries when it comes to mandatory R&R.

France currently requires employers to provide 30 days of paid leave…

The Society for Human Resource Management issued a statement Wednesday warning that “a one-size-fits-all, government-imposed mandate is not the answer.”

Because of the 50- and 100-employee thresholds, most small businesses wouldn’t be directly affected by the bill immediately. But the National Small Business Association warned of indirect consequences; companies might artificially hold their hiring at the 50-to-100-employee level to avoid the costs of paid vacation time.

We’re dead last in vacation time yet have the world’s largest GDP by far, and naturally Grayson wants to tinker with that by meddling with the market. I’ll give him this: He’s certainly grasped the basics of Obamanomics.

Update: Ah, now it all makes sense. No wonder Grayson was inspired. Meet “Robobama.”

The nation’s 44th president was in obvious distress. At least it looked like him. But with silicone skin and a tangled nest of wires for veins, this Obama was a 21st-century reproduction.

More specifically, it was an audio-animatronic representation of the president, as imagined by the Walt Disney Company, and assembled with the direct involvement of the White House staff — and of Mr. Obama himself. The president supplied not just his measurements, but he also recorded that speech (which was initially drafted by a Disney writer) — and yet another recitation of the oath of office, this one in Disney high-definition sound.

In that Hollywood building here, the life-size, three-dimensional figure was being put through its final tune-up, its chin rising and hands gesturing in response to technicians, in preparation for shipment to the Hall of Presidents exhibit at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 2:10 am  Leave a Comment  

“An Alternative to Obamacare” – What do You Think?

I don’t think I agree with all aspects of this plan, but it does seem a much better alternative than what Obama has proposed. I’d like to hear arguments for or against this plan.

Please post your thoughts on this “non-public” healthcare reform alternative proposed by Senators Coburn (OK) and Burr (NC) and Representatives Ryan (WI) and Nunes (CA).

…We have introduced a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Patients’ Choice Act that, we believe, will bring us far closer to the goal of universal coverage than the Obama plan. Our bill, in specific legislative language, does the following:

Puts affordable coverage and choice within reach of all Americans. We do this by first ending the discrimination in the tax code that rewards corporations and employers for offering insurance yet offers no benefit to the unemployed and is unfair to the self-employed…

Specifically, we would shift health care tax benefits to individuals and families in the form of a “Medi-Choice” tax rebate worth about $2,200 for individuals and $5,700 for families. Under our plan, if you like the health care you have, you can keep it – but you’ll have more money in your pocket because you will still receive a tax rebate…

Prevents cherry picking by guaranteeing access to coverage. Even though we’re confident that less government interference and more individual choice will control costs and improve quality and access, we recognize that markets can’t solve all problems. That’s why our bill prevents cherry picking – when insurance companies choose to cover only healthy patients – by equalizing risk across insurance companies and reversing the perverse incentives that leave those most vulnerable with the fewest options.

Our bill creates voluntary state-based solutions – state health exchanges – that will offer health insurance benefits using the same standard used for Members of Congress. Every American would have guaranteed access to coverage and care under this plan, regardless of patient age or health history. And to ensure that states get to design the solutions their patients need, states would have the freedom to form voluntary pooling arrangements with other state exchanges to diversify risk pools, ease administrative burdens and cover costs for insurance…

Strengthens the health care safety net. Currently, about 40 percent of doctors and hospitals do not accept Medicaid patients because payments are so low. This means that needy moms and kids may have health coverage, but poor access to health care. We remove the stigma from Medicaid recipients and give them the ability to purchase the health coverage and care they need from any provider. We preserve Medicaid for the blind, aged, and disabled and we eliminate widespread fraud in the programs. We do all this and still save states and the federal government about $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.

Finally, our bill accomplishes these goals without spending any new federal money, or raising taxes. If this sounds too good to be true, we would note that the problem in health care is not that we don’t spend enough, but that Americans aren’t getting enough value for their dollars. On a per capita basis, America spends nearly twice what other industrialized nations spend on health care yet we are hardly twice as healthy.

The Obama plan promises change and progress, but it is based on old ideas. For the past 50 years, the Left has promised that a little more government intervention and spending will fix health care. If Washington can effectively run a health program like Obama’s public option, why are Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs in such disrepair?

Today, federal and state government controls about 60 percent of our health care economy, which has helped create the chaotic system Americans loathe. Congress and the Obama administration are now on a path to finish the job and move us past the tipping point into a Canadian or UK-style government-run system.

The American people deserve better. Congress should be looking to 2040, not 1940 or 1965. We can achieve universal access to quality, affordable health care without bankrupting our children with trillions more in debt or imposing draconian tax hikes on all Americans. It can be done, and the Patients’ Choice Act shows us how.

Full article here.

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm  Comments (1)