Zero Tolerance, Zero Intelligence

Over the weekend we came across one of those stories that leave us dumbstruck with outrage, and this one had nothing to do with President Donald Trump. It starts at a high school in Wisconsin where a black security is repeatedly called a “nigger” by a black student, at last warns the student “don’t call me nigger,” and ends with the security guard getting fired for violating the school district’s zero-tolerance policy regarding employees’ use of that word.
“Nigger” is indeed an awful word, and we don’t doubt that the school district was well intentioned in its efforts to banish it, but it’s permanently a part of the language and sometimes necessary to address its awfulness. We’d feel less than forthright if we were to euphemize the student’s language as “the n-word,” and we’re sure that any savvy high school security guard knows he would sacrifice all his street cred if he ddid the same. Go ahead and fire any school district employee who hurls the racial epithet against another human being, but c’mon, give a brother who’s taking a stand against it a break.
These “n-word” controversies have been occurring for decades now, and there always something sadly ridiculous about them. Back in the ’70s Mel Brooks had a hit with a western spoof called “Blazing Saddles” repeated the word dozens of times, always getting a hearty laugh from audiences that understood he was mocking the people who talked that way, but the movie is largely out of circulation and wouldn’t be made in this day and age. Most school districts ban Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” because of its constant use of the word, even though it’s one of America’s greatest works of literature and ranks with Richard Wright’s “Native Son” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” as the nation’s most compelling anti-racism novels. Never mind a certain masterpiece by the great Joseph Conrad that has the word right in the title.
America’s always vibrant low culture has had similar controversies. The “hip-hop” subculture that sprang out of America’s ghettos and barrios and into the suburbs made great use of the term, although they pronounced and spelled it “nigga,” with the “gangsta rap” group calling itself Niggaz With Attitude making millions off it. It was arguably an effort to appropriate the word and use it as a term of respect and endearment, just as the Indiana Hoosiers and Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas Jayhawks use those old slurs as college nicknames, but we left that to our black friends and avoided use of the word. The fad seems to have faded, as fads tend to do, but there are still some black people who understandably take offense at the word even it has an “a” rather than a “er” at the end, and that security guard is apparently one of them.
We wish him well, and apparently most of his townsfolk do as well, so there’s hope he’ll be reinstated with a proper apology soon. Here’s hoping, too, that someday there won’t be any fuss about that awful word.

— Bud Norman

Recounting the Inevitable

Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s quixotic effort to recount the presidential election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where her quixotic campaign won enough votes to account for the slight Trump victories that won him a majority of the Electoral College’s votes, have apparently come to naught. The Wisconsin recount wound up yielding only another three hundred ballots to Trump’s previously announced win, and the courts in the other two states have concluded that a recount isn’t worth the bother. There’s still a slight chance that 37 electors in states Trump apparently won will not vote for him, and one has vowed in a New York Times op-ed that he won’t and several others are requesting intelligence briefings about Russia’s alleged involvement in the election, which suddenly seem plausible given the apparent president-elect’s announced appointments, but even in such a crazy election year as this that seems unlikely to change the already crazy enough outcome.
There’s a long and colorful history of “faithless electors” casting their votes against the will of the majority or plurality of their states, and depending on what state you’re in or what judge you wind up in front of it might be quite legal, and there are sound historical and constitutional arguments to be made on their behalf, especially in such a crazy election year as this, but they’ve never once changed the outcome of an election. Even in such a crazy election year as this it seems unlikely to occur, and even if it did it wouldn’t provide a happy outcome.
One highly unlikely scenario has those 37 electors switching their votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and making her the president, which would arguably be even worse than Trump taking the office, and we note that the country has wasted much of the past year and a half arguing about that very question and come to mixed results about it, so we can’t see that happening. The electors could also decline to vote for either of the major party nominees, as we did, in which case the matter would be left to the House of Representatives, where the Republicans hold a majority and would most likely wind up holding their noses as so many of our Republican friends did and vote for Trump. At this point in this crazy election year there’s still a one-in-a-gazillion chance that neither Clinton nor Trump will become president, and we will bitterly cling to that faint hope until it is inevitably dashed, but we’re already girding ourselves for what’s to come.

— Bud Norman

Recounting All the Craziness

Sometimes it seems this crazy election year will never come to an end. The weather around here has turned from a glorious indian summer to a windy chill since Election Day, but that awful presidential race is still being disputed and both sides are claiming its all rigged.
None of it is likely to change the apparent Election Day outcome that Republican nominee Donald Trump is the president-elect, and will be duly designated as such after the Electoral College meets next month, but in such as a crazy election year when something like that happens almost anything is still at least slightly possible. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s apparent Election Day lead in the popular vote has grown to nearly two percent as all the votes have been counted, Trump is “tweeting” that the popular vote was tarnished by millions of illegal ballots cast against him, three states where Trump won by 1 percent or less to give him is Electoral College majority are now being recounted due to a challenge by a third party candidate, with Clinton joining in on one of them, and as always there’s still a long shot the Electoral College will wind up doing something crazy like choosing someone less widely reviled than any of the aforementioned contenders.
Probably not, even in this crazy election year, but we’re bemused by the spectacle nonetheless. The third party nominee shelling out for the recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is the Green Party’s Jill Stein, whose 2 or 3 percent of the votes in each of those state could have swung them all to Clinton, and we can’t imagine why she’d shell out a few million dollars of Green Party funds to highlight that embarrassing fact. Green Party nominee Ralph Nader’s 1 percent in the Florida presidential race of ’00 would have overwhelmed George W. Bush’s infinitesimal 500-or-so vote victory that won him the Electoral College despite a popular vote loss in that crazy election year, which wound up causing quite a fuss, but at least even Nader had the good sense not to be party to the ensuing lawsuits.
The differences in the contested states this time around are in the thousands rather hundreds, and there aren’t any hanging chads this time around, or at least none that have been reported yet, but we expect the next few days of melodrama will still provide plenty of fodder for any conspiracy theorists who want to theorize that Trump somehow stole the election. The races in the contested states are very close, if not quite 500-votes-and-a-few-hanging-chads close, and with voting being a government-run business there will always be a certain of margin of error. There will be renewed debates about voter suppression and voter fraud, as well, and yet more argument about the hard-to-deny fact that Clinton won the popular vote.
Trump denies that she did win the popular vote, of course, and has taken to “tweeting” that it only seems so because of millions of ballots cast by illegal immigrants, the deceased, and other ineligible voters. His source seems to be Alex Jones’ “Infowars,” which is also the source for all those stories about the Twin Towers terror attack being an inside job and Barack Obama being born in Kenya and reptilian shape-shifters running the Illuminati’s secret world government, and plenty of Republican election officials around the country share our skepticism of the claim. We’re strong advocates for photo identification requirements and periodic reviews of the registrations, as well as other common sense protections against voter fraud, and we’re not ones to put anything past the Democrats, but we find it easier to believe that Clinton really did win the popular vote than that such an inept candidate somehow managed to slip an extra couple million votes into the boxes.
No matter how it all turns out, even in the craziest popular scenarios, we’re sure that much of the country will remain convinced it was all somehow rigged. They’ll have ample reason for it, too, and even that shape-shifting reptilian Illuminati theory will seem slightly plausible. Which is for the best, probably, because at the end of such a crazy election year as this we have to start considering all the possibilities.

— Bud Norman

A Bad News Cycle for the Front-Runner

Perhaps it’s only because he got bored with winning, but the recent brief pause in the Republican presidential nomination race has not been kind to front-running real-estate-and-gambling-and-reality-show mogul Donald J. Trump. His campaign manager was indicted for battery against a woman reporter, his threats and slurs against a rival’s wife caused even some of his most fervent supporters to question his judgment, the beloved-by-Republicans governor of Wisconsin endorsed Trump’s most pesky rival in the state’s important upcoming primary, and his efforts to explain it all have compounded the problems while somehow offending both sides of the abortion debate and alarming allies from Europe to Asia.
Reasonable people will disagree as to whether Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s undeniably hands-on encounter with reporter Michelle Fields of the previously friendly Brietbart.com site rises to even the level of a misdemeanor, which is what he’s been charged with following an investigation by the police officers Trump is always praising, despite Trump’s earlier denial that Lewandowski ever laid a hand on Fields, but it’s hard to see how the indictment is helpful. Trump’s so-faithful-he-could-shoot-someone supporters will note that the district attorney who brought the charges is a supporter of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, although we suppose at least half the charges being brought against accused criminals in the country are similarly suspect, and we heard a caller on one of the talk radio shows note that Fields is a libertarian, which he seemed to believe justified any rough treatment, but the vast majority of the country holding less indulgent views of Trump are likely to see it differently. Trump is already on record promising that any press outlets he dislikes “will have problems, such problems,” and saying that “Women, you’ve got to treat ’em like s**t,” and his campaign manager had already had a collar-grabbing incident with one of those idiot protestors that Trump has said he’d like to “punch in the face,” which one of his supporters did, and we’re still awaiting whether Trump will keep his promise to pay the legal fees, and it all fits a plausible narrative that’s building on both the right and left sides of the media.
Trump’s already dreadful poll numbers among women, most worrisomely even among Republican women, had already taken a further hit by his decision to threaten that he would “spill the beans” on the wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and then “re-Tweet” a message that basically meant “ha ha my wife’s hotter than yours,” which offended even the wave-riding pundit Ann Coulter, who had previously said she wouldn’t mind if Trump performed abortions in the White House, and his attempts to wave it all off also weren’t helpful. Seemingly surprised by a popular Wisconsin talk radio host’s questions about his sexist mud-slinging, Trump explained that he was just yukking it up with the notoriously sexist shock jock Howard Stern with some of those by now widely-circulated sexist comments, in between the nude lesbian segments, and that “everybody was laughing,” but we wonder how many of those thus-far unsupportive women will be persuaded. The Wisconsin talk radio host was having none of it, and Trump admitted he was surprised to find out that the host was one of us “Never Trump” conservative, which any half-way competent campaign manager would have known and warned of if he hadn’t been too busy mixing it up with reporters and protestors, but we are reassured by Trump and his supporters that he’ll always have the best people around him.
The endorsement of Cruz by Gov. Walker could have been easily and effectively ignored, but Trump of course took it personally and responded with a ridiculous rant against the beloved-by-Republicans hero of the great union fight. The man who claims the “anti-establishment” and “at least he fights” mantel cited some phony-baloney statistics from the mainstream press he routinely ridicules to disparage both Walker’s and the entirety of Wisconsin’s remarkable success in fighting the lousy deal that the public sector unions had forced on the state, blamed the “hatred” of the union thugs that predictably ensued on the reformers, and on the days leading to a Republican primary he blasted the governor for not raising taxes. Of course, there was the usual blather about making better deals.
Although the “at least he fights” candidate is dodging any one-on-one debates with his last remaining rival, a former national collegiate debate champion and esteemed member of the Supreme Court bar, he did wind up in a series of disastrous confrontations with other interlocutors besides that Wisconsin radio host. Facing the likes of the equally unintelligible Chris Matthews of the MSNBC network he wound up saying that women who get abortions should face criminal charges, a position that the pro-abortion movement has long been ascribing to the anti-abortion movement and that the anti-abortion movement has been strenuously denying for just as long, thereby infuriating both sides of the most divisive issue of recent times, which was quickly walked back, because Trump is a “uniter,” but it’s hard to score that round for Trump. He also cited health care and education as two of the three most important duties of the federal government, even though he had to later explain that of course as a Republican he thought health care was best left to the private sector and education to the states and localities.
Trump’s same “town hall” chit-chat with the unintelligible Matthews also had him disparaging the South Koreans and Japanese for free-loading on America’s defense budget, even though the South Koreans are occasionally cantankerous but ultimately realistic about their tenuous situation and the Japanese have lately been quite stalwart, and he said something about them needing to go nuclear that was also quickly walked back, and that followed a lot of Timothy Leary-esque stream-of-consciousness stuff before the Washington Post and New York Times about the free-loaders in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that alarmed not only our allies but even the more thoughtful observers who have been arguing for reforms in that still-essential organization.
Those so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone fans will surely remain loyal, but the latest poll in Wisconsin shows Cruz with a comfortable margin and let’s-all-get-along Gov. John Kasich of Ohio within striking distance of Trump, the down-in-the-mud-with-the-National-Enquirer style of campaigning that we’re told is needed to defeat the Democrats doesn’t seem to be working in a state where the slogan is “Wisconsin Nice,” and we’d like to think the rest of the country is also too nice for this nonsense.

— Bud Norman

Badgering in the Badger State

President Barack Obama was warmly welcomed to Wisconsin by Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday, then let loose with another one of his characteristic petty partisan screeds, this one ridiculing his host. The characteristically petty partisan crowd roared its approval, of course, and the characteristically petty partisan press described it as part of a “victory lap” after a week of favorable legislation and Supreme Court rulings, of course, but not a word of it bears more skeptical scrutiny.
Speaking to an adoring throng in LaCrosse, Obama likened the entire Republican to a senile “Uncle Harry” making nonsensical statements at a family Thanksgiving dinner, adding that “You still love him. He’s still a member of your family. Right? But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him charge of stuff.” He also compared Wisconsin’s government under Walker to that of neighboring and more-Democratic Minnesota, noting that Minnesota had raised taxes on the wealthy, increased the minimum wage, expanded Medicaid, implemented all-day kindergarten, offered subsidies for college, and had a lower unemployment rate and higher median income. With the applause indicating that he had an audience willing to believe that higher taxes and higher labor costs and increased government spending is the obvious explanation for Minnesota’s relatively healthier economy, Obama then boasted of his own successes with this same formula, and contrasted his humane approach with the Republicans’ policy of giving tax breaks to the wealthy and letting everyone else fend for themselves. Such callous economics was the cause of the ’08 financial crisis, Obama told the crowd, anding that “Being an American is not about taking as much as you can from your neighbor before they take as much as they can from you. We are not a bunch of individuals out here on our own. We are a community, we are family. We are in this together.”
One hardly knows where to begin rebutting such hogwash, but it might as well be at the beginning with that crack about the crazy uncle. This comes from the World’s Greatest Orator, who was going to end the era of partisan division and facilitate a serious discussion about the nature’s future. It also comes from the leader of a party that features a crazy and foul-mouthed Uncle Joe and a creepy face-lifted Aunt Nancy and a perverted Cousin Anthony who keeps sending pictures of his underwear-clas private parts over his cell phone and a First Mom who insists that everyone eat their vegetables while she wolfs down what the fancy chefs who’ve been flown have created and a cackling evil stepmother Hillary who seems next in line to lead our very dysfunctional national family, and we can’t share the audience’s satisfaction that everything has worked out so well since they’ve been “put in charge of stuff.”
Walker does a fine enough job defending his controversial policies in an op-ed article at Real Clear Politics, graciously headlined “Welcome to Wisconsin, Mr. President,” noting the significant economic gains that have lately occurred in his state in spite of the sluggish national economy. He didn’t anticipate the part about Minnesota, so for his benefit we’ll add that the high tax rates on job-creators cannot possibly explain the state’s job creations, the minimum wage increase is less than a year old and hasn’t yet pushed up overall wages and has almost certainly eliminated many minimum-wage jobs, the Medicaid expansion wouldn’t have been necessary if the Minnesota economy were as robust as he represents it, and probably was made more necessary by the many Minnesotans who lost the suddenly more-expensive health plans they liked and were promised they could keep but were relegated to Medicaid by Obamacare, there’s no proof that all-day kindergarten does children much good, somebody’s still paying those ever-increasing college costs that always go up further with the subsidies, and a more telling basis for comparison would be the relative improvement of the Wisconsin and Minnesota economies over the past few years.
Nor does the broader American economy seem to justify such arrogance. The labor participation rate is at a low unseen since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, wages remain stagnant, the Gross Domestic Product contracted the first quarter of this year and the most optimistic predictions having it growing at around 2 percent or a fraction over the full year, such meager advances have added more than $8 trillion to the national debt during the Obama presidency, and no one who isn’t within clapping distance of the presidents anticipates that happy days will soon be here again. We’re not heartened by the rest of the president’s great week, either. The Supreme Court ruled that the Obamacare law doesn’t say what it says on the written 2,000-plus, but that instead it means whatever five justice of the Supreme Court would prefer it said, and then on the big same-sex marriage decision it pretty much concluded the same thing about the Constitution, and whatever political benefits might redound to the president neither development is likely to do much good for the rule of law and Constitutional restraints on the federal government. A lot of Republicans and a few cowed Democrats also gave the president “fast track” authority to negotiate a top-secret free-trade deal with numerous Asian nations, and although we’re generally free traders we don’t like the top-secret and remain worried that it will allow him to pull some immigration and environmental shenanigans.
Most annoying, though, were his descriptions of capitalism and socialism. The natural rights of individuals to voluntarily trade and contract with another in a free market, an arrangement that has produced greater wealth and one more to advance civilization than any cockamamie bureaucratic regulatory scheme, is explained in terms of “taking as much as you can from your neighbor before they take as much as they can from you.” Any individual who has become self-sufficient by voluntarily trading and contract with another individual in a free market should be grievously offended by this, and we daresay their neighbors should be as well. But then again, we’re “not a bunch of individuals” in Obama’s America, we are a “family.” Obama is presumably the father, although regrettably not the absent sort of father figure he grew up without, and as that cheering throng of hipsters in LaCrosse would probably tell you, with all their progressive sophistication, father knows best.
On second thought, the very most annoying part of Obama’s speech was that line about how the unregulated avarice of that ruthless capitalist system that leaves everyone to fend for themselves was the cause of the ’08 financial crisis. The lie is so oft-repeated that it goes almost unnoticed and almost entirely unquestioned, but the pesky fact remains that it wasn’t caused by lack of regulations that prevented greedy bankers from making home loans to people who clearly could never repay them, but rather because of presumably well-intentioned government interventions in the free market, which encouraged and cajoled and eventually coerced the bankers to make those loans in the cause of affordable housing and civil rights and fairness and all sorts of focus-group tested themes. Obama surely knows this, as he did pro bono work for some subprime borrowers that forced Citibank to write them mortgage, and was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus was it was screaming racism at the regulatory “watchdogs” who were warning of the coming collapse and successfully resisting George W. Bush’s efforts to stop it, and he surely knows that as a result of his efforts housing became less affordable and black Americans wound up disproportionately poorer, as they remain today, and that in the end it was disastrously unfair to all the more credit-worthy homeowners and their creditors as well as just about everyone else.
Obama’s at least a deft enough orator to leave that part out.. We’re looking forward to Walker’s announcement that he’ll be running for president, and expect much better from him, and although he seems a nice and Wisconsin sort of fellow who won’t resort to petty partisanship and sneering ridicule we hope he will bluntly talk back to such hogwash.

— Bud Norman

Battering Rams in Wisconsin

This is America, where a citizen is free to express opinions and participate in politics without fear of retribution. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but the ideal seems to be slipping away. The diminution of fresh speech is not just a matter of the increasingly confined parameters of polite opinion, enforced by boycotts and restricted career opportunities and the howling of mobs, or even the usual heavy hand of government, such as the harassment of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service or the politicized prosecutions by the Department of Justice or the extra regulatory scrutiny applied to those businesses donating to the wrong candidates. It has now come to the point that armed agents of the government have been invading homes, seizing property, and bullying ordinary citizens into silence for no reason other than their political beliefs.
If this sounds like the most far-fetched sort of paranoid right-wing fantasy, we’d urge you to read David French’s chilling article, headlined “Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought it Was a Home Invasion,'” at The National Review. Although there had already been scattered reports about the outrageous “John Doe Investigation” that a renegade prosecutor and a rubber-stamping judge had launched against various groups that supported Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to reform the state’s collective bargaining laws regarding public sector unions, a fishing expedition which was eventually halted by a higher court that rightly considered it a clear attempt to intimidate the prosecutor’s political opponents into silence, only now are those targeted in the investigation coming forward with stories about doors being broken down with battering rams, computers being confiscated, children being terrified, neighbors being scandalized, and dozens of heavily armed police officers shouting warnings that no lawyers were to be contacted and no was to be told. The descriptions evoke Nazi-era Germany or the Soviet bloc, but it happened in Wisconsin, the birthplace of the “progressive movement.”
One can hope that it was a rare occurrence, now ended by the prevailing cooler heads of a higher court according to constitutional design, but one can only hope. There’s no way to be sure that other similarly terrified citizens are still staying silent as warned, and that an indifferent press is happy to leave it to the likes of a high-brow and relatively little-read right-wing publication such as The National Review to report on such inconsequential news if they ever come forward. Given the gleeful ostracizing of anyone who dissents from the consensus of progressive opinion regarding same-sex marriage or global warming, the hateful lies of the lynch mobs that are roused by racial hustlers and Rolling Stone fabulists and the “community outreach teams” of the Justice Department, the presidential rhetoric that warns any critics their dissent “needs to stop,” the increasingly apparent realization that no one at the Internal Revenue Service or the Justice Department or any of those regulatory agencies will ever suffer any consequences for their misdeeds, the indifference of the press, and the sheer seething hatred toward anything conservative we hear from all the liberal media and all the liberals we know, a hatred that seems to have overwhelmed whatever love they once had for freedom and the rule of law, we are no longer surprised to hear even the stories that evoke Nazi Germany and the Soviet bloc.
Please pass along that chilling story about what happened in Wisconsin, because we expect that most of the mass media will regard it as local and of little consequence and not nearly so important as anything slightly embarrassing they might come up with about Gov. Scott Walker. At the risk of a battering ram at the door, we’ll say it’s a matter of the greatest consequence. This is America, after all, where a citizen should be free to express an opinion and participate in the political process without fear of retribution.

— Bud Norman

It’s News to Us

Maybe it’s just a post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas lull, but there didn’t seem to be any big news on Monday. There were more embarrassing revelations about Obamacare, and the stock market took a downturn on disappointing holiday sales figures as the economy limps along, and the nation’s foreign policy appears in disarray from the Senkaku Islands to the Iranian centrifuges, but nothing that dominated the day’s discussions.
Fortunately for the hard-core news junkie, there’s always a fix available at The Drudge Report. The widely-derided and far more widely-read website is remarkably astute in highlighting the most important stories of the day, and when there aren’t any it always finds fascinating filler. It’s most recent top headline concerned the latest Obamacare debacle, this time about the lack of security on the Healthcare.gov site where people are expected to reveal their Social Security numbers and dates of birth and most intimate health problems, but such outrages are now so commonplace that the real fascination lie further down page. Other Obamacare-related headlines had to do with citizens calling the cops on the beleaguered law’s door-to-door salesman, the Internal Revenue Service auditing a cancer patient who spoke out after losing his coverage, and a deliciously Drudge kind of stories about the prostitutes at a Nevada brothel calling the law “a blessing.”
There were more stories about the death of the star of the “Fast and Furious” movies in a car crash, an irresistibly ironic tale that Drudge has been following with rapt attention, but we haven’t seen any of the movies and have no reaction beyond the requisite condolences to the actor’s friends and family, assuming he has any. He was a fine fellow, for all we know, but the pictures indicate that he had that slightly-unshaven look we find so irritating and we doubt his pictures lived up to standards of the old Roger Corman “Fast and Furious” with the slick white convertible Jaguar.
We are fond of some of Bob Dylan’s music, however, and were therefore interested to see that the erstwhile Voice of His Generation is being charged with “fomenting hate” in France as the result of a year-old interview with Rolling Stone magazine in which he likened the Croats’ treatment of the Serbs with the Nazis’ treatment of their various enemies. Aside from the surprise of learning that Rolling Stone is still in publication, and that Dylan was simultaneously accepting the French government’s prestigious Legion d’Honneur, which is only bestowed on the likes of Jerry Lewis, the story also provided the satisfaction of knowing that ol’ Bob can still provoke the occasional contretemps. In the same interview that led to the charges he apparently griped that a significant numbers of his countrymen are pining for a return to slavery, but such absurd anti-Americanism isn’t likely stir French indignation or any controversy here.
The Drudge Report has an admirable willingness to report on racial controversies that the rest of the media would prefer to ignore, and Monday’s edition had headlines about the director of “The Butler” confessing his anger toward white people and another Jewish victim of the “knockout game” that has become popular among black youths.
News of the weird is another Drudge specialty, and his latest offerings include a lawsuit demanding “legal personhood” be bestowed upon a chimpanzee, mold and mildew being found on some samples of marijuana, and the state of Wisconsin’s recent problems with public sex on a nude beach. All seem intriguingly bizarre at first glance, but none are exceptional by contemporary standards. At a time when progressives are eager to deny personhood to any people who join together as a corporation it is not surprising to hear they would grant the honor to a chimpanzee. With the legalization of marijuana a growing trend it is inevitable that the authorities will find ample reason to regulate to an extent that pot-heads will soon yearn for the days when weed was illegal and out of reach of the authorities. Wisconsin’s worries about public sex on nude beaches have a prurient interest, but we expect it will all be solved by the onset of a Wisconsin winter.
These occasional absences of big news are a prime opportunity to present big ideas, but we’re fresh out of those at the moment and easily distracted by filler.

— Bud Norman

State of the States

Michigan’s decision to join the growing ranks of “right to work” states was doubly satisfying for conservatives. It was a heavy blow to the labor movement in a state where unions had ruled for decades, and even more importantly it was a rare win at a time when conservatism seems to be routed.
The victory thus gives some hope for a conservative comeback, and it also shows how more such victories might be won at the state level. The Republican party has complete control of the state houses and governors’ mansions in 24 states and at least a share of the power in 11 others, even after an election that handed the party a bitter loss in the presidential race and rendered its majority in the House of Representatives largely irrelevant, and Michigan demonstrates how that can still make a difference. Twenty-one states of a Republican propensity are resisting the implementation of the hated Obamacare law by refusing to participate in its subsidized insurance exchanges, others are defying the federal government’s preferences regarding illegal immigration and voting laws, and further helpful mischief is possible.
Some of the action is taking place in states that Obama carried, such as the anti-union measures in Michigan and Wisconsin, suggesting that good ideas can be implemented in even the most benighted jurisdictions. Should the Republicans be able to figure out why Wisconsin will vote for a Governor Scott Walker and Michigan opts for a Governor Rick Snyder but neither will support a President Mitt Romney, the party might be back in business. Alas, we suspect that too many voters in these curious locales expect their state governments to provide only roads, schools, prisons, and other such basic services, and thus prefer the budget-balancing efficiency of the Republicans, but they expect the almighty federal government and its endless money-printing capability for an unattainable utopia, and notice that the Democrats are the only party promising to achieve it.
The states’ resistance to the federal government will only succeed to the extent that the courts allow it, and recent Supreme Court decisions regarding Obamacare and Arizona’s border enforcement efforts to do bode well. Four years hence the courts will probably be even less amenable to states’ rights, and the federal government even more eager to impose its will. All the more reason, though, for the states to put up as much of a fight as possible while they still have some power.

— Bud Norman

Labor Pains

Back in our newspaper days the corporation we worked for once asked us to temporarily fill in for some striking reporters at their subsidiary in Detroit. We declined the rather lucrative offer, not because of any moral objection to “scabbing” but rather because Michigan seemed a dangerous place to be running afoul of a labor union.
The incident was brought to mind by Tuesday’s big news out of the Wolverine State, where the legislature and governor have decreed that citizens will no longer be forced to pay union dues as a condition of earning a living. The measure at long last restores to the state a fundamental right to work, which is why such measures are known as “Right to Work” laws, and those responsible should be lauded not only for their good sense but also their courage. Not just political courage, which merely means a willingness to lose office for a good cause, but also a physical courage rarely required of America’s public servants.
There will be blood,” said Doug Geiss during a speech on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives, “there will be repercussions.” Whether this was meant as a threat or a warning is open to interpretation, but in either case the Democratic legislator was not exaggerating the inevitable results of the law. Demonstrations outside the state capitol during the vote involved the usual union thuggery, from the destruction of a conservative activist group’s tent to a reporter being punched to tear-gassed efforts to block access to the building, and worse behavior seems likely. “We’re going to have a civil war,” James Hoffa told CNN, and as the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters he should know.
During the protracted effort against the public sector unions in Wisconsin there were physical assaults of lawmakers, and that battle involved mostly teachers and bureaucrats backed up by bongo-beating neo-hippies, and it was in the relatively placid state of Wisconsin. The combined efforts of the teamster, automotive, and machinist unions in Michigan, a state with a long history of labor violence, could easily prove much harsher. Workers eager to stop paying dues and any businesses considering relocating to the state with non-unionized workforces should also be concerned, and hope that the state’s unionized law enforcement officers will continue to be vigilant in their duties.
Whatever mayhem the unions have in mind, Michigan will soon find that the right to work is well worth the trouble. The state’s disastrous economy, government-dependent industries, and decimated cities are a direct consequence of union rule run amok, and reining in their influence should help to reverse decades of decline. At the very least, the unions will be required to extort their dues by their own thuggish efforts and the state’s conscience will finally be clean.

— Bud Norman