Monday, February 28, 2011

American Thinker: The Entitled Party

The Entitled Party
By Karin McQuillan
President Obama and the left wing of the Democratic Party think they are entitled to win. From our narcissistic President to screaming union organizers, they are puffed up with self-righteous zeal. They must have health care to save the sick, they must shut down Louisiana oil rigs to save the planet, they must defend government unions to save the middle class.

Of course, each side thinks they are right. Being right is no excuse. You have to abide by the law, you have to abide by elections, you have to respect the courts and constitutional separation of power, or else we no longer live in a democratic country. In our democracy, no one is entitled to win. If you won't lose, you cannot have democracy.

What you have are the Wisconsin Democrat senators who are unwilling to abide by the election results that put them in a minority. What you have is Reid and Pelosi, ramming Obamacare through by breaking rules of procedure, in order to flout the 2010 election results. What you have is the Obama White House, blocking Congress's right to confirm appointees, and openly ignoring federal courts. What you have is the Justice Department announcing it will no longer defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court, as if Obama gets to decide which laws are constitutional. What you have is a Democratic Party run amok, undercutting our democracy in the service of their own power.

The complacency, nay, the vociferous support, from Democrat leaders and the legacy media for this disregard for the rule of law reminds me of the old joke about the psychiatrist. A man is sent by his family to see a shrink because he thinks he's a chicken. After months of treatment, he is still clucking. The family asks the psychiatrist if he's told his patient he is not a chicken. "No," the psychiatrist admits. "Why not!" "Because I like the eggs."

The Democrats like the eggs. They like imposing their will, whether it be ObamaCare, or the off-shore drilling moratorium, or the blockage of Wisconsin's elected government. Are they really this short-sighted? Don't they understand the damage to our democratic system by these anti-democratic precedents? Do they really want to change congressional rules so that the House and the Senate version of bills no longer have to be reconciled, as they did to jam ObamaCare through by the fiction it was a finance bill? Do they really want the Interior Department ignoring federal court orders? Do they really want state senators refusing to accept that when you lose an election, the other side gets to pass their agenda?

Obama appointed extremists for important administrative positions, controversial and even creepy people, like Van Jones, whom he knew would not get past Congressional confirmation. The checks and balances between executive and legislative branch were instituted by our founders for this exact purpose. The executive nominates but Congress must confirm -- bedrock principles of American democracy. Obama's answer: flout the law. Call his appointees 'czars' and bypass confirmation. This is not legal and it is not democracy. Do the liberal legacy media and Obama's fellow Democrats want presidents to have this unlimited power? Do they really want to give up the safeguards of congressional confirmation by calling appointees czars?

Czars indeed.

The White House is not only ignoring elections and subverting the power of Congress, it is also willing to disobey federal courts. When the health care bill was challenged in court and the administration lost, Obama ignored the ruling of Justice Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court in Florida. Judge Vinson declared the entire ObamaCare bill unconstitutional in a ruling that the judge stated was the equivalent of an injunction. The White House has not halted implementation. The White house has not followed normal rules to fast-track the appeal process so the Supreme Court can decide. Our White House seems entirely comfortable to show contempt of court.

In Louisiana, the administration didn't like a court ruling lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling, so what did the Obama administration do? It ignored the court. In response, on February 2, the U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman held the Department of Interior in contempt. The Administration then adopted a go slow policy and did not issue a single permit. So on February 21, Judge Feldman ordered the Obama administration to act on five deep water drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico within 30 days, calling the delays in issuing new decisions "unreasonable, unacceptable, and unjustified." We have a White House that places its anti-energy policy above the rule of law. This is unacceptable in a democracy.

Democracy is a complex system based on cultural norms and principles as much as institutions. As we see governments topple in the context of resurgent jihadi movements in the Arab world, we are keenly aware that elections alone rarely lead to democracy. George Washington was an almost unique figure in the history of the world, in that he relinquished power. Our founding fathers were political geniuses who gave us a system of checks and balances to curb misuse of power by those who govern. As Americans, we are privileged to witness the recurring, orderly transfer of power from one administration to the next, through which voters get to determine the direction of their government and correct mistakes and imbalances.

We are seeing in both the Obama White House and the Wisconsin Senate that the Democratic Party is unwilling to lose. Over and over in the past two years, we have seen a Democrat administration willing to flout the courts, flout rules and regulations, and flout the voice of the people as expressed in elections.

Disregard for the democratic limits on power is as important as the administration's fiscal irresponsibility that threatens our prosperity, as important as the explosive growth of bureaucracy that threatens our liberties.

Our democracy cannot survive if only the Republican Party cares about it. It is time for centrist Democrats to throw off the power grab by the radical wing of their party and start defending the Constitution, as they have sworn to do.

American Thinker Blog: Why liberals love trains

Why liberals love trains
Thomas Lifson

I enjoyed riding high speed rail the years I lived in Japan. But the Obama administration's ridiculous push to bring a high speed rail network to America is suicidal. Under far more favorable conditions of population density, transit usage, and traffic congestion, only one of the lines in Japan makes money -- the very first line from Tokyo to Osaka. The entire decades-long building binge of a national high speed rail network has been a drag on the Japanese economy, which has performed poorly for 2 decades.

George Will provides the best sumamtion of the real reason Obama and other liberals are fixated on trains:

...the real reason for progressives' passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans' individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.

To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they-unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted-are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.

American Thinker: Sharpton and Obama Ignore Planned Parenthood's Racist Underbelly

Sharpton and Obama Ignore

Reverend Al Sharpton called a press conference this past week to denounce an anti-abortion billboard overlooking New York City's Soho district. The sign depicting a young black girl read "The Most Dangerous Place for an African-American is in the Womb." Sharpton's spokesman characterized the message as "classic racial profiling."

The pro-life non-profits responsible for the billboard positioned it in close proximity to three Planned Parenthood facilities who reported performing 17,000 abortions between them for the year 2010.

Sharpton's charge of racial profiling prompted Lifealways to remove the sign before the Friday press conference. The fact that for every 1000 African-American births there are 1,489 aborted black babies in New York City did not convince the Reverend that something is going on in his community besides racism.

There's an old African proverb that states "if you want to know the end, look at the beginning." The adage is good advice for African-Americans like Sharpton who still defend Planned Parenthood. The billion dollar international organization has never been a friend to people of color, so it's devastating that civil rights activists as well as the first black president would not do their homework. When confronted with pro-life activist Lila Rose's undercover videos of PP personnel condoning underage sex trafficking, Obama stated that "in the past they did good work."

Yes, offering indigent women routine Pap smears and breast exams seems laudable until overwhelming evidence reveals the organization's true historical purpose. Planned Parenthood Federation of America planted the seeds of African-American exploitation in the 1930's, and their venture has since yielded some pretty deadly fruit:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention... more African-American babies have been killed by abortion since 1973 than the total number of African-American deaths from cancer, AIDS, violent crimes, accidents, and heart disease combined. Over one-fourth of the total potential black population has been aborted, and African Americans, though they account for 12.3 percent of the population, receive 36 percent of all abortions and are three times as likely as their white contemporaries to have an abortion (US Center for Disease Control, Abortion Surveillance Report)

It's not a fluke that most Planned Parenthood clinics operate in urban minority communities. Margaret Sanger set her first birth control clinics in run-down, inner city neighborhoods dispensing information, collecting data and shoring up her future argument for selective breeding and population control.

In honor of black history month, Reverend Sharpton and President Obama need to understand what true racial profiling looks like:

The birth control movement led to one of Sanger's most audacious projects in 1939. A memorandum "Suggestions for Negro Project" made its way to her desk from Dr. Clarence Gamble. He was the director of the Birth Control Federation of the South. Gamble suggested that they sell eugenics to get rid of blacks by a kind of traveling minstrel show with black preachers and black nurses touting the benefits of family planning. In December 1939 Sanger responded stating, "We do not want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten that idea out if it occurs to the more rebellious members."(Gordon, Linda. Woman's Body, Woman's Right. New York: Grossman Pub., 1976, pp. 332-333)

The funding for the Negro Project came from wealthy backers like Albert and Mary Lasker in 1940. Their marketing campaign worked. By 1947 black leaders throughout the country stood behind the movement and gave their blessing to Planned Parenthood.

In her autobiography published in 1938, Sanger wrote of her extensive travels to Russia, China, India, England, Scotland and Germany. As a member of the Socialist Party she spoke at labor union meetings, neo-Malthusian conferences, and exchanged ideas with communist leaders. She contends throughout the memoir that she spoke to any organization who requested information on birth control:

Always to me an aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey.

When confronted with its racist past, Planned Parenthood insists that Sanger acted alone. As for the high abortion rates among blacks, they attribute the alarming numbers to social factors like "poverty, access to information and education, access to birth control and intimate-partner violence." Interesting that today's Planned Parenthood reps cite reasons almost identical to Sanger's explanation for high birth rates almost 100 years ago. The PR stays the same, whether babies are dead or alive.

Al Sharpton and other black leaders succeeded in forcing a pro-life group to remove a controversial sign. Too bad they didn't see it as a true learning experience and study up.

American Thinker: Obama Nixes Safe Drilling

Obama Nixes Safe Drilling
By Jeffrey Folks
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Houston this weekend talking with oil executives who are eager to start drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico. That may sound like progress, but after the meeting Salazar said that nothing had changed. He was not ready to approve any new drilling.

Despite everything that energy companies have done to devise advanced containment systems, Salazar is unwilling to issue a single new permit. Systems constructed by the nonprofit Marine Well Containment Company and other entities are now able to handle a flow equal or greater than that experienced during the Deepwater Horizon accident last summer. But that's not enough for Salazar, who stated that even the most advanced systems have "limitations on water depth and barrel-per-day containment capacity."

Well, yes. Any system that could be devised would have limitations on depth and per-barrel capacity. But that's not the point, as Mr. Salazar must know. The question is whether the new systems are able to handle the sorts of accident that might actually take place. Not the worst scenario that someone from the Interior Department could dream up. Combined with safely protocols now in place, the new containment equipment can do just that.

So why no permits for new drilling? It appears that the Obama administration is more interested in kowtowing to environmental donors in advance of the 2012 election than it is in controlling energy prices. Even with a federal court order to decide on new drilling in the Gulf by March 20, the Obama administration remains obdurate.

By refusing to grant a single deep-water permit in the Gulf, Obama has shut down access to one third of America's oil supply. With Libyan oil fields now closed indefinitely and with uncertainty about future production elsewhere in the Middle East, it is a dreadful time to be shutting down America's oil fields as well. Turmoil in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, or Iraq would drive the price of oil up above $150 a barrel, at the very least. A prudent policy would be to increase domestic production in light of uncertainty abroad.

Some Americans are already paying $4 a gallon for gas, but this is not just because of what's happening in the Middle East. Government action on Gulf drilling permits would immediately calm the oil markets and bring down prices, even though new production would not come on line for several years. But instead of reducing prices, Obama seems is intent on driving them up.

It's not just the Gulf of Mexico that is off limits. Obama opposes drilling anywhere offshore, including in the rich arctic region which is known to hold billions of barrels of oil reserves.

Just as bad, in his FY2012 budget Obama proposes cutting $4.4 billion of annual tax deductions for oil and gas drilling -- deductions for depreciation and amortization that date back to 1913. Those tax deductions help energy companies pay for exploratory projects that then result in lower energy costs for all Americans. At a time when Obama is throwing away $100 billion on risky alternative energy boondoggles, a number of which have already gone bankrupt, he wants to end those modest tax advantages that actually result in the production of large quantities of new energy. That sort of accounting only makes sense to a politician.

Obama, in fact, is doing everything possible to curtail domestic energy production, and yet he says that "our dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security." If reliance on foreign oil puts America at risk, why not produce more oil at home? New drilling techniques including fracking, horizontal drilling, and deep-water drilling now make it possible to do just that, but Obama opposes all of these.

If the President knows that dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security and that new drilling techniques can increase domestic supplies, why is he intent on destroying our domestic oil and gas industry?

America is going to need new oil and gas production in a big way. In a new report, Charles T. Maxwell, the dean of U.S. energy analysts, has gone on record saying that regardless of what happens in the Middle East, oil prices are going up, way up. In a Barron's interview Maxwell stated that oil prices will hit $300 by 2020. Maxwell arrives at this number by way of a straightforward calculation. By about 2015 global oil production will peak, but demand will continue to increase on a global basis.

That leaves Americans paying $12 a gallon for gas, which is just about what Obama has said he wants. That certainly will help to end our dependence on foreign oil. The problem is there won't be anything to take its place.

At $12 a gallon, we won't be driving around much in large SUVs or in small SUVs, either. Nor will we be enjoying cheap air fares or discounted cruises. The cost of transporting goods will triple, as will the cost of heating homes, schools, and offices. And those who think that solar and wind will take the place of fossil fuels are sadly mistaken.

As Maxwell points out, solar energy now supplies one tenth of one percent of America's energy needs. Even with massive subsidies -- the kind of subsidies that have already bankrupted the Spanish economy -- solar and wind will never supply more than a small percentage of America's energy needs. Since Obama, through EPA restrictions, is busy sabotaging coal and natural gas as well, and since America has no serious nuclear program underway, we are left with nothing.

Only a president who is extraordinarily stupid would fail to see this. Conclusion: Obama is either extraordinarily stupid, or he is willing to trade America's national security for the support of environmentalist donors who are key to his re-election. Whichever it is, we're in trouble.

American Thinker: Two Solutions to the Wisconsin Stalemate

Two Solutions to the Wisconsin Stalemate
By Cliff Thier
The Republican majority of the Wisconsin State Senate has at hand the tools to end its stalemate now.

The Wisconsin Constitution requires that to vote on a law dealing with taxing or spending or borrowing, a "quorum" is needed, and the minimum number to constitute a "quorum" is sixty percent of the elected members of the legislature:


Vote on fiscal bills; quorum. SECTION 8. On the passage in either house of the legislature of any law which imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state, the question shall be taken by yeas and nays, which shall be duly entered on the journal; and three-fifths of all the members elected to such house shall in all such cases be required to constitute a quorum therein.

A "money-related" quorum in the current legislative session is 20 (19.8) senators of the 33 senators elected. The current party breakdown in the Wisconsin Senate is 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Each one of the 14 Democratic senators has refused to appear in the Senate chamber in Madison, leaving 19 Republicans alone at their desks and, seemingly, unable to have a vote until at least one Democrat shows up for work.

[It is widely believed that those lying-low legislators have gone so far as to leave Wisconsin entirely, hiding out in a hotel in Illinois.]

The common understanding is that unless at least one of those 14 decides to return to the Senate chamber, a money bill cannot be voted on. That does not have to be the case.

Excluding the Table of Contents, the word "quorum" appears only six times in the entire Wisconsin Constitution: Once (Article VII, Section 4) having to do with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and once (Article X, Section 7) having to do with a special commission (made up of the Secretary of State, the state Treasurer, and the state Attorney General) tasked with such matters such as selling state land. And, "quorum" appears twice in Article VIII, Section 8 (above).

The remaining two times that "quorum" appears, it has to do with the fundamentals of operation of the legislature:


Organization of legislature; quorum; compulsory attendance. SECTION 7. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.

That's it. The only definitions provided in the Wisconsin Constitution for what is a quorum are the very limited ones setting the number of legislators needed in order for a vote to pass. The constitution is written so that a majority cannot gather in secret or too quickly for members to have a chance to arrive. The quorum requirement is not a right in itself, but rather a safeguard against trickery. It protects the rights of citizens to be represented. It is not a power granted to a minority to block a vote of a majority. The Wisconsin Constitution does not require an affirmative vote by three-fifths of the elected legislators, but only the opportunity for at least three-fifths of its members to vote. Contrast this with the sixty-vote filibuster-ending requirement in the U.S. Senate.

Consider this, too: the Wisconsin Constitution authorizes passage of money-legislation by an affirmative vote of as few as 11 senators, or only one-third of the entire state senate. That is, a majority of the 20 Senators needed for a quorum. Yet, all 19 legislators showing up for work have said that they will vote for the pending legislation.

What is unambiguously not in the Wisconsin Constitution is a statement as to where those legislators must be in order to be counted towards a quorum.

The Wisconsin Constitution assigns the state legislature the responsibility of crafting rules and definitions governing how voting is to be conducted, i.e., the mechanics of voting. Article IV, Section 7 empowers 51% of the elected legislators in each house of the Wisconsin legislature to do the following:

* 1) Define a quorum to include those legislators who have the ability -- if they choose -- to vote absently, either by electronic means or proxy. This would ensure that no citizens are ever deprived of representation in the state legislature even if their representative is in the hospital or out of town; and/or
* 2) Pass a statute (or legislative rules) that any legislator who refuses or fails to represent his constituents by participating in the deliberations of that body for more than 30 days is to be regarded as having resigned his office. Once again, this would ensure that no citizens are ever deprived of representation in the state legislature even if their representative is in the hospital or out of town or just refuses to show up for work.

Every state permits absentee voting, and more and more are permitting electronic voting from locales other than town halls and school gymnasiums. Extended times for voting (between Day X and Day Y) are also being enacted in a number of states.

Such a statute or rule for Wisconsin's legislature would state that so long as a member can reach a telephone and is able to record a vote, that member should be counted as part of a quorum. The act of not voting, that is abstaining, has never been counted against a quorum. It's the ability to cast a vote that is all that has mattered.

[Alternatively, the 19 Republicans can all charter a bus and travel to Illinois to the hotel where the Democrats are holed up. The risk is that when the bus arrives at the hotel, Democrats will jump out of their windows in their underwear. It's still winter, after all.]

If the 19 Senators who have shown up for work wish to do the people's business, they have the power to do it. It is very plainly given to them in Article IV, Section 7 of their state's constitution. There is nothing in the Wisconsin Constitution to prevent them from doing that immediately.

American Thinker: End Forced Unionism

End Forced Unionism
By Bruce Walker
Where would we be without labor unions? We would be much better off.

Americans do not understand what "labor unions" mean. Nothing prevents a group of workers at a plant or office from getting together, signing an agreement which delegates power to negotiate contracts to certain representatives, and then proceeding with collective bargaining by those workers who chose to sign the agreement. That is not unionism; it is simply a business arrangement, much like when an athlete has an agent or a client has a lawyer.

The problem with unionism is that those who do not feel such an agreement is needed are compelled to surrender their right to bargain for their working conditions and compelled, as well, to support a vast, expensive bureaucracy of labor satraps. It is coercion of workers masked as industrial democracy. If 49% of the "represented" workers want a wage freeze but more vacation time, and that is not the official union position, then the union bosses are working against the interest of these workers. If many workers feel union rules reduce efficiency, and so the prospects of more jobs, those workers have to pay for the privilege of their representatives doing exactly the opposite of what these wish.

Coerced unions were always unnecessary, wasteful, and immoral -- and all unions today are coerced unions. Depending upon whether a state has a "closed shop" (only members of a union can be hired, and these must comply with union rules) or "union shop" (new employees must join the union after being hired), if a state has no right to work law, employers must negotiate with the union instead of the individual worker. Only 22 states now have right to work laws, although robust Republican state governments could add six more states to that column, five in the Great Lakes region alone.

Our Great Lakes Region was once the industrial dynamo of the world. Unions murdered its prosperity. Towns and cities in the Great Lakes that ought to be humming with activity are now dwindling into ghost towns.

People invariably can be persuaded that in free economic transactions, like the decision of people to work in a coalmine or tractor factory, the workers are getting the short end of the stick. Market economics, however, prevents "exploitation" from being more than a brief aberration and these fluctuations are as likely to unjustly enrich workers (for a short time) as to enrich employers. Only a mind focused on envy and anger can pretend that laws denying the liberty of employment somehow make life better.

It is blindingly clear to any open mind that unions, especially public employee unions, do not even pretend to make an economic argument for their position. Labor negotiations, more and more, are simply exercises in naked political power. The dues snatched involuntarily from workers who oppose being drafted into supporting collectivist Democrats are used to buy politicians. Aside from the crushing "tax" upon our nation's economy which union dues and union restrictions on liberty cost our nation, the social effect of a work environment smothered beneath big labor, big business, and big government squeezes most Americans into lonely atoms in the business of America.

These leviathans are the antithesis of what our country needs to survive and to thrive in a world of instant communication, evolving technology, and global market price systems. Few, if any, people in history have been such rugged individualists as Americans. Our ability to innovate, to adapt quickly, to push unconventional approaches to their limits -- all these have made us great, and in more than just wealth and power. Unions are the antipode of this supreme American virtue. Unions are the incarnation of the putrid body of Marx and all his bitter disciples.

Unions, including especially public employee unions, have function only in a grim universe of constant conflict and suspicion. They are close siblings of feminists who find transcendent grievance in the fact of gender. Unions find family with "civil rights" activists, whose wealth and power are dependent upon the hopelessness of black people. Unions are natural cousins of personal injury lawyers whose only commandment is "Do anything to win" or leftist politicians whose guiding principle is "Promise anything."

The America of 2011 is shackled with crippling chains -- tax rates, particularly on capital gains; environmental regulations calculated to impoverish us into "green" living; goose-stepping media who sappily salute any sin of leftism; militant atheism masking as some sort of faux-Americanism; vast and awful pyramids of public debt and fathomless seas of future entitlements -- and so much more. Do we want a bright future? Do we want our country back? Abolish forced unionism, beginning with government workers. Republicans are weak, far too weak, on this particular issue. Unions are not just the political enemy of Republicans; they are the ideological enemies of liberty. Republicans should heed the quip of President Reagan when his assistants warned that some of his policies were too extreme: "What are they going to do to me? Hang me from a higher tree?"

Governor Walker in Wisconsin is experiencing now what every Republican governor who tries any real reform of the workplace will encounter: fanatical, take-no-prisoners, hatred. Why not push for total victory and a free, productive workplace throughout the land?

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats | Michael Barone | Politics | Washington Examiner

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats

By: Michael Barone 02/22/11 8:05 PM
Senior Political Analyst
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walks away after talking to the media at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are in the 7th day of protests at the Capitol.-Andy Manis/AP
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walks away after talking to the media at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are in the 7th day of protests at the Capitol.-Andy Manis/AP
Everyone has priorities. During the past week Barack Obama has found no time to condemn the attacks that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has launched on the Libyan people.

But he did find time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's public employee unions. Walker was staging "an assault on unions," he said, and added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

So, just as the president complained in his 2010 State of the Union address about a Supreme Court decision that he feared would increase the flow of money to Republicans, he also found time to complain about a proposed state law that could reduce the flow of money to Democrats.

And, according to the Washington Post, to get the Democratic National Committee to organize protests against the proposed Wisconsin law. Protests that showed contempt for the law, with teachers abandoning classrooms, doctors writing phony medical excuses, Democratic legislators fleeing the state and holing up in a motel. The lawmakers played hooky without losing any salary, which is protected by the state constitution.

It's true that Walker's proposals would strike hard at the power of the public employee unions. They would no longer have the right to bargain for fringe benefits, which are threatening to bankrupt the state government, and they would no longer be able to count on government withholding dues money and passing it along to them.

But what are the contributions that public employee unions make to our states and our citizens? Their incentives are to increase the cost of government and reduce down toward zero the accountability of public employees -- both contrary to the interests of taxpaying citizens.

An argument can be made that higher pay, generous benefits and lavish pensions will attract better people to public employment. But where are the studies that show that citizens of states with strong public employee unions get better services than citizens in states without?

What citizens of states with strong public employee unions do get are higher taxes and enormous pension burdens that threaten to squeeze out funds for ongoing services, as even Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California have figured out.

That's why one of the great 20th century presidents was against unions for public employees who have civil service protections. No, not Ronald Reagan. It was Franklin Roosevelt who said, "Action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable."

So while the Wisconsin unions are defying the law, Scott Walker is in effect following FDR's lead, and if he's successful others may follow. That would be an enormous blow to the money power of the public employee union bosses.

Public opinion seems to be with the Republicans. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that 48 percent of voters support Walker while only 38 percent support the unions.

This seems to be a sharp reversal of opinion over the past five years. Back in 2005 California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored a series of ballot propositions that would have reduced the power of the state's public employee unions. The unions spent something like $100 million -- all of it derived from taxpayers -- on TV ads, and all the propositions were defeated.

Now hard economic times have left voters wondering why public employees pay practically zero toward their health insurance and pensions when they have to pay plenty themselves. Wisconsin, which led the nation on civil service a century ago and on welfare reform in the 1990s, may be showing the nation the way ahead once again.

Michael Barone,The Examiner's senior political analyst, can be contacted at His column appears Wednesday and Sunday, and his stories and blog posts appear on

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

John Fund: Wisconsin's Newest Progressive -

Wisconsin's Newest Progressive
The Republican governor wants a new social contract.


The state Capitol building in Madison has been occupied round-the-clock by protesters for nearly two weeks. Fourteen Democratic state senators are still on the lam, refusing to allow a vote on a budget-repair bill. And Gov. Scott Walker has been called everything from a new Hitler to rotting cheese.

Yet the governor sounds unflappable. "I just finished eight years as county executive in Milwaukee last December," he told me during a telephone interview. "I've dealt with unions and angry legislators. I know anytime you challenge the status quo you have to be bold—and take the heat."

Mr. Walker's challenge to the status quo is nothing if not bold. Wisconsin, he says, faces an immediate $137 million budget shortfall and a $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years. Part of his plan for putting the state on a sustainable fiscal path is to have state workers contribute more to their pensions and health-insurance plans, although they would still pay less than the national average for government workers.

But what's made him a national target of rage—or a hero, depending on your point of view—are his proposals to limit the power of public-employee unions. "We have to cut money the state sends counties and cities," he says, and "the collective bargaining changes I propose will save them more than those cuts by giving them the flexibility private employers have to control costs."

He's confident his plan will become law. The state assembly passed it in the wee morning hours of Friday, and pressure is building on the state Senate Democrats who have fled the state to prevent a vote. If the state doesn't pass a budget and refinance $165 million in debt by Tuesday, Mr. Walker will have to send out 1,500 layoff-at-risk notices to state employees. Ultimately, 5,000 state workers and an equal number of local employees could lose their jobs.

Public employee protests spread across the Midwest.

"I very much want to avoid laying people off," Mr. Walker says. But his experience as county executive taught him that "not everyone feels that way. During budget crises I would push for a couple of weeks where workers would only put in 35 hours so we didn't have to cut jobs, but union leaders would say no. It's reactionary." He says there's a gulf between the interests of union leaders and those of their members. "When they say it's about worker rights, it's really about big union bosses running their own political dynasties." That's why the parts of his plan that most stick in the craw of union leaders are the ones that would limit their power.

For one, the proposal would require that public-employee unions be recertified annually by a majority vote of all their members, not merely by a majority of those who cast ballots. The bill would also end the government's practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. "If workers have freedom of choice on their own dues money and a real voice in their union," the governor says, "they may get better representation."

It is deeply symbolic that this epic battle over the direction of government is taking place in the Badger State. Wisconsin was the birthplace of the modern progressive state in the early 20th century under Gov. Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette, who championed progressive taxation and the nation's first worker's-compensation system. In 1959, Gov. Gaylord Nelson made Wisconsin the first state to grant public employees collective-bargaining rights.

But in more recent years Wisconsin has also been an incubator of the conservative counterargument to the welfare state. In the 1990s, Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson helped push through welfare reform and school-choice programs that have been emulated across the country. By modernizing the relationship between state employees and the government, Mr. Walker, like Mr. Thompson before him, hopes to contain the excesses of the past—to enable the modern welfare state to live within its means.

Mr. Walker says that the employee rights that people care about are protected by civil-service rules, not collective bargaining. "We have the strongest protections in the country on grievance procedures, merit hiring, and just cause for disciplining and terminating employees," he says. "None of that changes under my plan." Mr. Walker notes that the single largest group affected by his proposal are the 30,000 workers at the University of Wisconsin who were only granted collective-bargaining rights in 2009. "If they only got them two years ago, how can you say they're set in stone?"

It's unclear who will benefit as this debate drags on, but his own experience in Milwaukee County suggests that a lengthy debate clarifies issues for the public. "I would go on reality tours," he told me. "Critics would call them 'gloom-and-doom' tours, but in the end people came to agree with me on what needed to be done." His record bears that out. Milwaukee County is a Democratic bastion, having given John McCain only 31% of its votes in 2008. But Mr. Walker won with convincing majorities three times, winning 59% in his last re-election in 2008.

"I won because people will ultimately respond to the truth," he says. "There is an unseen reservoir of support out there for leaders who will do the right thing." Other governors—he cites New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—are proving as much.

Aside from short stints working for IBM and the Red Cross, the 43-year-old governor has spent his life as a state legislator and county executive. And he insists he is only doing what he promised voters he would do during his campaign—a contention hotly disputed by his critics.

Mr. Walker points to a campaign mailing last year by the American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Wisconsin that cited newspaper reports that he wanted to "void parts of labor contracts" and curb collective bargaining. "I was accused then of wanting what I'm now proposing, so the complaint about being surprised is curious," he says.

The governor knows he has become a national lightning rod, but he says he was nonetheless surprised when President Obama jumped into the fray last week by saying that the governor's proposal to limit collective bargaining sounded like "an assault on unions." He finds it ironic that Mr. Obama criticized his collective-bargaining changes when federal workers lack the power to bargain for wages or benefits—a fact demonstrated last month when Mr. Obama imposed a wage freeze on all federal workers. Under Mr. Walker's proposal, Wisconsin unions could still bargain for cost-of-living raises or more if approved by a voter referendum.

I ask Mr. Walker if he thinks he has staked his entire governorship on this budget bill. He dodges the question, preferring to discuss the national implications of the debate. "I could see our success providing inspiration for people trying to get serious about controlling the federal budget and promoting economic growth," he muses. "Ultimately, we will only solve our problems if we get serious."

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

RealClearPolitics - Public Unions & the Socialist Utopia

Public Unions & the Socialist Utopia
By Robert Tracinski

The Democratic lawmakers who have gone on the lam in Wisconsin and Indiana-and who knows where else next-are exhibiting a literal fight-or-flight response, the reaction of an animal facing a threat to its very existence.

Why? Because it is a threat to their existence. The battle of Wisconsin is about the viability of the Democratic Party, and more: it is about the viability of the basic social ideal of the left.

It is a matter of survival for Democrats in an immediate, practical sense. As Michael Barone explains, the government employees' unions are a mechanism for siphoning taxpayer dollars into the campaigns of Democratic politicians.

But there is something deeper here than just favor-selling and vote-buying. There is something that almost amounts to a twisted idealism in the Democrats' crusade. They are fighting, not just to preserve their special privileges, but to preserve a social ideal. Or rather, they are fighting to maintain the illusion that their ideal system is benevolent and sustainable.

Unionized public-sector employment is the distilled essence of the left's moral ideal. No one has to worry about making a profit. Generous health-care and retirement benefits are provided to everyone by the government. Comfortable pay is mandated by legislative fiat. The work rules are militantly egalitarian: pay, promotion, and job security are almost totally independent of actual job performance. And because everyone works for the government, they never have to worry that their employer will go out of business.

In short, public employment is an idealized socialist economy in miniature, including its political aspect: the grateful recipients of government largesse provide money and organizational support to re-elect the politicians who shower them with all of these benefits.

Put it all together, and you have the Democrats' version of utopia. In the larger American culture of Tea Parties, bond vigilantes, and rugged individualists, Democrats feel they are constantly on the defensive. But within the little subculture of unionized government employees, all is right with the world, and everything seems to work the way it is supposed to.

This cozy little world has been described as a system that grants special privileges to a few, which is particularly rankling in the current stagnant economy, when private sector workers acutely feel the difference. But I think this misses the point. The point is that this is how the left thinks everyone should live and work. It is their version of a model society.

Every political movement needs models. It needs a real-world example to demonstrate how its ideal works and that it works.

And there's the rub. The left is running low on utopias.

The failure of Communism-and the spectacular success of capitalism, particularly in bringing wealth to what used to be called the "Third World"-deprived the left of one utopia. So they fell back on the European welfare state, smugly assuring Americans that we would be so much better off if we were more like our cousins across the Atlantic. But the Great Recession has triggered a sovereign debt crisis across Europe. It turned out that the continent's welfare states were borrowing money to paper over the fact that they have committed themselves to benefits more generous than they can ever hope to pay for.

In America, the ideological crisis of the left is taking a slightly different form. Here, the left has set up its utopias by carving out, within a wider capitalist culture, little islands where its ideals hold sway. Old age is one of those islands, where everyone has been promised the socialist dreams of a guaranteed income and unlimited free health care. Public employment is another.

Now the left is panicking as these experiments in American socialism implode.

On the national level, it has become clear that the old-age welfare state of Social Security and Medicare is driving the federal government into permanent trillion-dollar deficits and a ruinous debt load. Even President Obama acknowledged, in his State of the Union address, that these programs are the real drivers of runaway debt-just before he refused to consider any changes to them. You see how hard it is for the Democrats to give up on their utopias.

On the state level, public employment promises the full socialist ideal to a small minority-paid for with tax money looted from a larger, productive private economy. But the socialist utopia of public employment has crossed the Thatcher Line: the point at which, as the Iron Lady used to warn, you run out of other people's money.

The current crisis exposes more than just the financial unsustainability of these programs. It exposes their moral unsustainability. It exposes the fact that the generosity of these welfare-state enclaves can only be sustained by forcing everyone else to perform forced labor to pay for the benefits of a privileged few.

This is why the left is treating any attempt to fundamentally reform the public workers' paradise as an existential crisis. This is why they are reacting with the most extreme measures short of outright insurrection. When Democratic lawmakers flee the state in order to deprive their legislatures of the quorum necessary to vote, they are declaring that they would rather have no legislature than allow voting on any bill that would break the power of the unions.

National Review's Jim Geraghty describes these legislative walk-outs as "small-scale, temporary secessions." The analogy is exact. One hundred and fifty years ago, Southern slaveholders realized that the political balance of the nation had tipped against them, that they could no longer hope to win the political argument for their system. Faced with a federal government in which they were out-voted, they decided that they would rather have no federal government at all. The Democrats' current cause may not be as repugnant-holding human beings as chattel is a unique evil-but it has something of the same character of irrational, belligerent denial. More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left is still trying to pretend that socialism is plausible as an economic system.

The Democrats are fleeing from a lot more than their jobs as state legislators. They are fleeing from the cold, hard reality of the financial and moral unsustainability of their ideal.
Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Egyptian Army Fires on Christian Monasteries Wounding Many of the Monks - Tea Party Nation

Egyptian Army Fires on Christian Monasteries Wounding Many of the Monks

Is this the beginning of cleansing of Christians in Egypt? The military is supposed to be in charge and yet they are the ones that attacked the monasteries. Why did they do that? Is there another reason for this provocation? Has the Muslim Brotherhood already started their operation to move Egypt to an Islamic State? Who is really in charge? Let's read about the attacks and watch the video.
News report follows with supporting video (warning the video may be considered by some to be graphic)

(AINA) -- "For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army's use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday's army attack.

Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

"When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen," said Monk Ava Bishoy. "Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest."The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.

Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. "The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying 'Lord have mercy' without running away. This is what really upset them," he said. "As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting 'Allah Akbar' and 'Victory, Victory'.

He also added that the army prevented the monastery's car from taking the injured to hospital.
The army also attacked the Monastery of St. Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan, Fayoum, 100 km from Cairo. It stormed the monastery and fired live ammunition on the monks. Father Mina said that one monk was shot and more than ten have injuries caused by being beaten with batons. The army demolished the newly erected fence and one room from the actual monastery and confiscated building materials. The monastery had also built a fence to protect itself after January 25 and after being attacked by armed Arabs and robbers leading to the injury of six monks, including one monk in critical condition who is still hospitalized.

The army had given on February 21 an ultimatum to this monastery that if the fence was not demolished within 48 hours by the monks, the army would remove it themselves (AINA 2-23-2011).

The Egyptian Armed Forces issued a statement on their Facebook page denying that any attack took place on St. Bishoy Monastery in Wady el-Natroun, "Reflecting our belief in the freedom and chastity of places of worship of all Egyptians." The statement went on to say that the army just demolished some fences built on State property and that it has no intention of demolishing the monastery itself (video of army shooting at Monastery).

Father Hedra Ava Bishoy said they are in possession of whole carton of empty bullet shells besides the people who are presently in hospital to prove otherwise.

The army attack came after the monks built a fence for their protection after the police guards left their posts and fled post the January 25th Uprising and after being attacked by prisoners who were at large, having escaped from their prisons during that period."We contacted state security and they said there was no police available for protection," said Father Bemwa," So we called the Egyptian TV dozens of times to appeal for help and then we were put in touch with the military personnel who told us to protect ourselves until they reach us." He added that the monks have built a low fence on the borders of one side of the monastery which is vulnerable to attacks, on land which belongs to the monastery, with the monks and monastery laborers keeping watch over it 24 hours a day."

It's a miracle that no one was killed. I am concerned that this is just the beginning of direct oppression, persecution and a very grim future for the Christians in Egypt.
So who is really in charge? Who is likely to lead in Egypt?

Here is a name and some background on one of the main players and someone we need to watch. His speeches are insightful and will make for a hellish existence or worse for all non-Muslims in Egypt.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Arabic: يوسف القرضاوي Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwiy‎; born September 9, 1926) is an Egyptian Islamic theologian who is the official cleric of the Muslim Brotherhood. He returned to Egypt from exile after the fall of Hosni Mubarak and led Friday prayers on February 18. Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s Egyptian TV show ash-Shariah wal-Hayat has an audience of 40 million. He is the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, is a trustee of Oxford University, and is considered a leading Muslim Brotherhood intellectual. This is the same man who called for the murder of Salaman Rushdie, author of Satanic verses. Where ever this man travels there will be an armed entourage and several young boys. He claims his interest in children is their "Islamic Education." There are many who believe these children are sexually molested.

English Translation of his on TV speech;
"Muslims are to seriously resist individual apostasy (religious defection) before it seriously intensifies and develops into a collective one."

This is why the Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.

For example, Ibn `Abbas quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as having said,“Whoever changes his religion, then kill him.”

More than likely this man will become the Grand Mufti of Egypt who will rule over the government the same as the Ayatollah in Iran. Al-Qaradawi was a follower of Hasan al-Banna during his youth and a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood.His famous quote: "I joined the Muslim Brotherhood Group and worked with Imam al-Banna. I was influenced by al-Banna’s moderate thoughts and principles ...(Later) MB asked me to be a chairman, but I preferred to be a spiritual guide for the entire nation... MB consider me their Mufti, but I don’t have this relation with the organization, because being an MB chairman is something difficult requiring a highly sophisticated political wisdom, and I prefer to be devoted to the entire nation, and I feel comfortable with this decision. I love MB and consider them the nearest group to be righteous."

So what happened to that peaceful democracy? Is that even possible with men like this in obvious positions of power and influence? What will happen to the non-Muslims in Egypt? Will they be killed as apostates? It's not looking too good so far.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

W.H. meets lobbyists off campus - Print View

W.H. meets lobbyists off campus
By: Chris Frates
February 24, 2011 04:41 AM EST

Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident.

It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.

“They’re doing it on the side. It’s better than nothing,” said immigration reform lobbyist Tamar Jacoby, who has attended meetings at the nearby Jackson Place complex and believes the undisclosed gatherings are better than none.

The White House scoffs at the notion of an ulterior motive for scheduling meetings in what are, after all, meeting rooms. But at least four lobbyists who’ve been to the conference rooms just off Lafayette Square tell POLITICO they had the distinct impression they were being shunted off to Jackson Place — and off the books — so their visits wouldn’t later be made public.

Obama’s administration has touted its release of White House visitors logs as a breakthrough in transparency, as the first White House team to reveal the comings and goings around the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building.

The Jackson Place townhouses are a different story.

There are no records of meetings at the row houses just off Lafayette Square that house the White House Conference Center and the Council on Environmental Quality, home to two of the busiest meeting spaces. The White House can’t say who attended meetings there, or how often. The Secret Service doesn’t log in visitors or require a background check the way it does at the main gates of the White House.

The White House says the additional meeting space is used when the White House is filled or when there’s no time to clear participants through the security screening. And to be sure, a few lobbyists contacted by POLITICO said they didn’t see any hidden motive for the White House staff’s decision to hold a meeting there.

“The White House conference facilities are just that: facilities for large meetings. They are also an option when rooms inside the complex don’t have the capacity for a given meeting or are booked,” said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

But that’s not how it feels to some of the lobbyists who’ve been there.

They say the White House is generally happy to meet with them and their clients once or twice but get leery when an issue requires multiple visits. These lobbyists say it is then that phone calls or meetings seem to be pushed outside the White House gates.

“Without question, I think that there’s a lot of concern about being seen meeting with the same lobbyists or particular lobbyists over and over again,” said one business lobbyist, who has been to Jackson Place meetings.

It’s not only Jackson Place. Another favorite off-campus meeting spot is a nearby Caribou Coffee, which, according to The New York Times, has hosted hundreds of meetings among lobbyists and White House staffers since Obama took office.

And administration officials recently asked some lobbyists and others who met with them to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing what was discussed at meetings with administration officials, in that case a rental policy working group.

The administration has defended the practice as a way to “maintain the integrity of our decision-making process.” But it has come under fire from lobbyists and a top House Republican, who have criticized the demand that participants sign a “gag order” before being allowed into meetings. The White House has not responded to repeated requests for comment on its nondisclosure agreement policy.

The process of disclosing the meetings can cut both ways.

During the health care reform debate, Democratic House and Senate leadership pushed for high-level negotiations to be held in the White House — specifically to create a record when the visitor logs were released, so administration officials couldn’t later distance themselves if the talks had failed, said a source familiar with the situation.

And in fact, a number of lobbyist contacts have been recorded in the visitor logs released by the White House.

Cherlin said the administration never claimed the visitor logs capture every meeting held with White House officials.

“Our driving principal here is that lobbyists should have the same access to the White House as non-lobbyists. We deal with important policy issues, and we want to get those policy issues right,” Cherlin said. “We’ve taken unprecedented steps to limit the influence of lobbyists inside the White House; we’ve closed the revolving door. But we just felt that access should be equal, which you know in the past it has not been. Lobbyists have had more.”

But lobbyists are particularly stung by what they see as a double standard, with Obama bashing their profession as part of what’s wrong with Washington while his staff routinely sits down with lobbyists to discuss key issues.

“When they need us, they call us. When they don’t, we’re evil,” said another lobbyist who has been to Jackson Place meetings.

Indeed, during the State of the Union address Obama derided the “parade of lobbyists [that] has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries.” And, because the public deserves to know when its elected officials are talking to lobbyists, he called on “Congress to do what the White House has already done — put that information online.”

Randy Johnson, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive who has been to White House and Jackson Place meetings, said the gatherings aren’t closely guarded secrets and insiders generally know who administration staffers are talking to. But, he said, there’s no way to know for certain without a record of all the meetings at Jackson Place.

“You can’t make the claim you’re holier than thou because sometimes a car looks shiny, but when you look below the hood, things may look a lot different,” he said. “You can’t measure the claim of transparency unless you have those numbers.”

Some lobbyists gripe about the hypocrisy of publicly bashing lobbyists while privately holding off-the-books meetings with them, but Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, an organization representing small businesses, supports the outreach, no matter the form.

“The most important thing, for all the prohibitions, is that they’re realizing that you can’t govern in America without a.), getting the input of experts and b.), getting in touch with the business community. No matter how they do that, whether it’s on the up-and-up or off-the-charts, so to speak, the important thing is that they know that they have to do it,” she said.

The administration really “boxed themselves in” with their anti-lobbyist policies, she said. But rather than emphasizing hypocrisy and playing gotcha, it’s important to recognize that “they’re on a better track and they see that they need to get out of the box,” said Jacoby, who has been to Jackson Place meetings.
Of course, meeting outside the limelight and limiting written correspondence is not unique to the Obama administration. For years, countless government staffers have been admonished not to write down something they wouldn’t want to read on the front page of The Washington Post. But the Obama administration, some lobbyists say, has taken that approach to new levels.

“I’ve not seen The Washington Post test enforced so ritualistically as this White House,” said one lobbyist, who regularly does business with the administration.

The veteran lobbyist said no other administration he’s worked with has so often responded to routine e-mail queries with the same three-word response, “Gimme a ring.”

White House officials are traditionally wary of disclosing their meetings. Vice President Dick Cheney, for instance, refused to name the energy company officials and lobbyists he met with while heading a task force that made pro-industry recommendations — a decision a federal appeals court ultimately upheld.
But unlike Obama, Bush and previous presidents didn’t pledge to make their administrations “the most open and transparent in history” — a fact not lost on Washington’s lobbying class.

During last year’s push to move comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation on Capitol Hill, the White House invited business lobbyists and executives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Restaurant Association and others to a Jackson Place meeting with senior policy staffers.

“We would like to convene a small meeting with White House staff on Friday at 12 noon (736 Jackson Place — see attached map), to discuss the current progress of CIR legislation,” a White House invitation obtained by POLITICO said.

The email was sent on a Wednesday, two days before the meeting, which left time for background checks had staffers wanted to hold the meeting at the White House. Some lobbyists suspected they were being kept outside the gates for political, rather than logistical, reasons.

“My understanding was they were holding the meeting there because it included several high-level business and trade association lobbyists,” said a senior business lobbyist who attended the meeting. “This was an effort to not have to go through the security protocols at the White House which could lead to the visitor logs at some point being released to the public and embarrass the president.”

Nazi Gun Control

Hitler was a Leftist
Nazi Gun Control

Hitler was a Socialist
Hitler's Anti-Tobacco Campaign
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Hitler's Persecution of the Christian Churches
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"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let's not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country." --Adolf Hitler, dinner talk on April 11, 1942, quoted in Hitler's Table Talk 1941-44: His Private Conversations, Second Edition (1973), Pg. 425-426. Translated by Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens. Introduced and with a new preface by H. R. Trevor-Roper. The original German papers were known as Bormann-Vermerke.

Nazi Weapons Act of 1938 (Translated to English)

* Classified guns for "sporting purposes".
* All citizens who wished to purchase firearms had to register with the Nazi officials and have a background check.
* Presumed German citizens were hostile and thereby exempted Nazis from the gun control law.
* Gave Nazis unrestricted power to decide what kinds of firearms could, or could not be owned by private persons.
* The types of ammunition that were legal were subject to control by bureaucrats.
* Juveniles under 18 years could not buy firearms and ammunition.

A Gun Control Law Passed by the German Government One Day After Kristallnacht
Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons
11 November 1938
With a basis in §31 of the Weapons Law of 18 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p.265), Article III of the Law on the Reunification of Austria with Germany of 13 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 237), and §9 of the Führer and Chancellor's decree on the administration of the Sudeten-German districts of 1 October 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p 1331) are the following ordered:

Jews (§5 of the First Regulations of the German Citizenship Law of 14 November 1935, Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 1333) are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.

Firearms and ammunition found in a Jew's possession will be forfeited to the government without compensation.

The Minister of the Interior may make exceptions to the Prohibition in §1 for Jews who are foreign nationals. He can entrust other authorities with this power.

Whoever willfully or negligently violates the provisions of §1 will be punished with imprisonment and a fine. In especially severe cases of deliberate violations, the punishment is imprisonment in a penitentiary for up to five years.

For the implementation of this regulation, the Minister of the Interior waives the necessary legal and administrative provisions.

This regulation is valid in the state of Austria and in the Sudeten-German districts.

Berlin, 11 November 1938
Minister of the Interior Frick

New research into Adolf Hitler's use of firearms registration lists to confiscate guns and the execution of their owners teaches a forceful lesson -- one that reveals why the American people and Congress have rejected registering honest firearm owners.

After invading, Nazis used pre-war lists of gun owners to confiscate firearms, and many gun owners simply disappeared. Following confiscation, the Nazis were free to wreak their evil on the disarmed populace, such as on these helpless Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. (National Archives Photo)

t would be instructive at this time to recall why the American citizenry and Congress have historically opposed the registration of firearms. The reason is plain. Registration makes it easy for a tyrannical government to confiscate firearms and to make prey of its subjects. Denying this historical fact is no more justified than denying that the Holocaust occurred or that the Nazis murdered millions of unarmed people.
I am writing a book on Nazi policies and practices which sought to repress civilian gun ownership and to eradicate gun owners in Germany and in occupied Europe. The following sampling of my findings should give pause to the suggestion that draconian punishment of citizens for keeping firearms necessarily is a social good.

At the time of the Nazi attack on Jews known as Night of the Broken Glass, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi SS and Police, ordered Jews disarmed (click for closeup). People's Observor (Völkische Beobachter), Nov. 10, 1938.

Jews Forbidden to Possess Weapons
By Order of SS Reichsführer Himmler

Munich, November 10 [1938]

The SS Reichsführer and German Police Chief has issued the following Order:

Persons who, according to the Nürnberg law, are regarded as Jews, are forbidden to possess any weapon. Violators will be condemned to a concentration camp and imprisoned for a period of up to 20 years.

The Night of the Broken Glass (Kristallnacht)--the infamous Nazi rampage against Germany's Jews--took place in November 1938. It was preceded by the confiscation of firearms from the Jewish victims. On Nov. 8, the New York Times reported from Berlin, "Berlin Police Head Announces 'Disarming' of Jews," explaining:

The Berlin Police President, Count Wolf Heinrich von Helldorf, announced that as a result of a police activity in the last few weeks the entire Jewish population of Berlin had been "disarmed" with the confiscation of 2,569 hand weapons, 1,702 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Any Jews still found in possession of weapons without valid licenses are threatened with the severest punishment.1

On the evening of Nov. 9, Adolf Hitler, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, and other Nazi chiefs planned the attack. Orders went out to Nazi security forces: "All Jewish stores are to be destroyed immediately . . . . Jewish synagogues are to be set on fire . . . . The Führer wishes that the police does not intervene. . . . All Jews are to be disarmed. In the event of resistance they are to be shot immediately."2

All hell broke loose on Nov. 10: "Nazis Smash, Loot and Burn Jewish Shops and Temples." "One of the first legal measures issued was an order by Heinrich Himmler, commander of all German police, forbidding Jews to possess any weapons whatever and imposing a penalty of twenty years confinement in a concentration camp upon every Jew found in possession of a weapon hereafter."3 Thousands of Jews were taken away.

Invading Nazi troops in Holland in 1940 immediately nailed up posters announcing a ban on all firearms. From Die Deutsche Wochenshau, May 15, 1940. (Photo by Moser + Rosié, Berlin)
Searches of Jewish homes were calculated to seize firearms and assets and to arrest adult males. The American Consulate in Stuttgart was flooded with Jews begging for visas: "Men in whose homes old, rusty revolvers had been found during the last few days cried aloud that they did not dare ever again return to their places of residence or business. In fact, it was a mass of seething, panic-stricken humanity."4

Himmler, head of the Nazi terror police, would become an architect of the Holocaust, which consumed six million Jews. It was self evident that the Jews must be disarmed before the extermination could begin.

Finding out which Jews had firearms was not too difficult. The liberal Weimar Republic passed a Firearm Law in 1928 requiring extensive police records on gun owners. Hitler signed a further gun control law in early 1938.

Other European countries also had laws requiring police records to be kept on persons who possessed firearms. When the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939, it was a simple matter to identify gun owners. Many of them disappeared in the middle of the night along with political opponents.

The Holland Poster banning guns (click for closeup). Citizens had 24 hours to surrender all firearms to the Nazis or face the death penalty. Printed in German on the left and Flemish on the right. For translation, see below. From Die Deutsche Wochenschau, May 15, 1940. (Photo by Moser + Rosié, Berlin)

Regulations on Arms Possession in the Occupied Zone

1. All firearms and ammunition, hand grenades, explosive devices and other war matériel are to be surrendered.
The delivery must take place within 24 hours at the nearest German military administrative headquarters or garrison, provided that other special arrangements have not been made. The mayors (heads of the district councils) must accept full responsibility for complete implementation. Commanding officers are authorized to approve exceptions.
Imagine that you are sitting in a movie house in Germany in May 1940. The German Weekly Newsreel comes on to show you the attack on Holland, Belgium, and France.5 The minute Wehrmacht troops and tanks cross the Dutch border, the film shows German soldiers nailing up a poster about 2½ by 3 feet in size. It is entitled "Regulations on Arms Possession in the Occupied Zone" ("Verordnung über Waffenbesitz im besetzen Gebiet"). The camera scans the top of the double-columned poster, written in German on the left and Flemish on the right, with an eagle and swatiska in the middle. It commands that all firearms be surrendered to the German commander within 24 hours. The full text is not in view, but similar posters threatened the death penalty for violation.

The film shows artillery and infantry rolling through the streets as happy citizens wave. It then switches to scenes of onslaughts against Dutch and Belgian soldiers, and Hitler's message that this great war would instate the 1000-year Reich. A patriotic song mixed with the images and music of artillery barrages, Luftwaffe bombings, and tank assaults compose the grand finale.

German poster from occupied France imposing the death penalty for not turning in all firearms and radio transmitters within 24 hours (click for closeup). For translation, see below. From Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération, Paris. (Photo by Philippe Fraysseix, Paris)

Ordinance Concerning the Possession of Arms and Radio Transmitters in the Occupied Territories

1) All firearms and all sorts of munitions, hand grenades, explosives and other war materials must be surrendered immediately.
Delivery must take place within 24 hours to the closest "Kommandantur" [German commander's office] unless other arrangements have been made. Mayors will be held strictly responsible for the execution of this order. The [German] troop commanders may allow exceptions.

2) Anyone found in possession of firearms, munitions, hand grenades, or other war materials will be sentenced to death or forced labor or in lesser cases prison.

3) Anyone in possession of a radio or a radio transmitter must surrender it to the closest German military authority.

4) All those who would disobey this order or would commit any act of violence in the occupied lands against the German army or against any of its troops will be condemned to death.

The Commander in Chief
of the Army
France soon fell, and the same posters threatening the death penalty for possession of a firearm went up everywhere. You can see one today in Paris at the Museum of the Order of the Liberation (Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération). A photograph of the poster is reproduced here, including a translation in the sidebar.

There was a fallacy to the threat. No blank existed on the poster to write in the time and date of posting, so one would know when the 24-hour "waiting period" began or ended. Perhaps the Nazis would shoot someone who was an hour late. Indeed, gun owners even without guns were dangerous because they knew how to use guns and tend to be resourceful, independent-minded persons. A Swiss manual on armed resistance stated with such experiences in mind:

Should you be so trusting and turn over your weapons you will be put on a "black list" in spite of everything. The enemy will always need hostages or forced laborers later on (read: "work slaves") and will gladly make use of the "black lists." You see once again that you cannot escape his net and had better die fighting. After the deadline, raids coupled with house searches and street checks will be conducted.6

Commented the New York Times about the interrelated rights which the Nazis destroyed wherever they went:

Military orders now forbid the French to do things which the German people have not been allowed to do since Hitler came to power. To own radio senders or to listen to foreign broadcasts, to organize public meetings and distribute pamphlets, to disseminate anti-German news in any form, to retain possession of firearms--all these things are prohibited for the subjugated people of France . . . .7

While the Nazis made good on the threat to execute persons in possession of firearms, the gun control decree was not entirely successful. Partisans launched armed attacks. But resistance was hampered by the lack of civilian arms possession.

In 1941, U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson called on Congress to enact national registration of all firearms.8 Given events in Europe, Congress recoiled, and legislation was introduced to protect the Second Amendment. Rep. Edwin Arthur Hall explained: "Before the advent of Hitler or Stalin, who took power from the German and Russian people, measures were thrust upon the free legislatures of those countries to deprive the people of the possession and use of firearms, so that they could not resist the encroachments of such diabolical and vitriolic state police organizations as the Gestapo, the Ogpu, and the Cheka."9

Rep. John W. Patman added: "The people have a right to keep arms; therefore, if we should have some Executive who attempted to set himself up as dictator or king, the people can organize themselves together and, with the arms and ammunition they have, they can properly protect themselves. . . ."10

Only two months before the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress enacted legislation to authorize the President to requisition broad categories of property with military uses from the private sector on payment of fair compensation, but also provided:

Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed--

(1) to authorize the requisitioning or require the registration of any firearms possessed by any individual for his personal protection or sport (and the possession of which is not prohibited or the registration of which is not required by existing law), [or]

(2) to impair or infringe in any manner the right of any individual to keep and bear arms . . . .11

Meanwhile Hilter unleashed killing squads called the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe and Russia. As Raul Hilberg observes, "The killers were well armed . . . . The victims were unarmed."12 The Einsatzgruppen executed two million people between fall 1939 and summer 1942. Their tasks included arrest of the politically unreliable, confiscation of weapons, and extermination.13

Typical executions were that of a Jewish woman "for being found without a Jewish badge and for refusing to move into the ghetto" and another woman "for sniping." Persons found in possession of firearms were shot on the spot. Yet reports of sniping and partisan activity increased.14

Armed citizens were hurting the Nazis, who took the sternest measures. The Nazis imposed the death penalty on a Pole or Jew: "If he is in unlawful possession of firearms, . . . or if he has credible information that a Pole or a Jew is in unlawful possession of such objects, and fails to notify the authorities forthwith."15

Given the above facts, it is not difficult to understand why the National Rifle Association opposed gun registration at the time and still does. The American Riflemen for February 1942 reported:

From Berlin on January 6th the German official radio broadcast--"The German military commander for Belgium and Northern France announced yesterday that the population would be given a last opportunity to surrender firearms without penalty up to January 20th and after that date anyone found in possession of arms would be executed."

So the Nazi invaders set a deadline similar to that announced months ago in Czecho-Slovakia, in Poland, in Norway, in Romania, in Yugo-Slavia, in Greece.

How often have we read the familiar dispatches "Gestapo agents accompanied by Nazi troopers swooped down on shops and homes and confiscated all privately-owned firearms!"

What an aid and comfort to the invaders and to their Fifth Column cohorts have been the convenient registration lists of privately owned firearms--lists readily available for the copying or stealing at the Town Hall in most European cities.

What a constant worry and danger to the Hun and his Quislings have been the privately owned firearms in the homes of those few citizens who have "neglected" to register their guns!16

During the war years the Rifleman regularly included pleas for American sportsmen to "send a gun to defend a British home.17 British civilians, faced with the threat of invasion, desperately need arms for the defense of their homes." Indeed, the New York Times carried the same solicitations. After two decades of gun control, British citizens now desperately needed rifles and pistols in their homes, and they received the gifts with great appreciation. Organized into the Home Guard, armed citizens were now ready to resist the expected Nazi onslaught.

With so many men and guns sent abroad to fight the war, America still needed defending from expected invasions on the East and West coasts, domestic sabotage, and Fifth Column activity. Sportsmen and gun clubs responded by bringing their private arms and volunteering for the state protective forces.18

Switzerland was the only country in Europe, indeed in the world, where every man had a military rifle in his home. Nazi invasion plans acknowledged the dissuasive nature of this armed populace, as I have detailed in my book Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II (Rockville Center, N.Y.: Sarpedon Publishers, 1998).

Resistance to Nazi oppression was hampered by the lack of civilian arms possession. One of the most notable exceptions was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, which began with a few incredibly brave Jews armed with handguns. They were able to temporarily stop deportations of Jews to Nazi extermination camps. (National Archives Photo)
Out of all the acts of armed citizen resisters in the war, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 is difficult to surpass in its heroism. Beginning with just a few handguns, armed Jews put a temporary stop to the deportations to extermination camps, frightened the Nazis out of the ghetto, stood off assaults for days on end, and escaped to the forests to continue the struggle. What if there had been two, three, many Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings?

The NRA trained hundreds of thousands of Americans in rifle marksmanship during the war. President Harry Truman wrote that NRA's firearms training programs "materially aided our war effort" and that he hopped "the splendid program which the National Rifle Association has followed during the past three-quarters of a century will be continued."20 By helping defeat the Nazi and Fascist terror regimes, the NRA helped end the Holocaust, slave labor, and the severest oppression.

Those tiny pacifist organizations of the era which called for gun registration and confiscation contributed nothing to winning the war or to stopping the genocide. Their counterparts today have nothing to offer that would enable citizens to resist genocide.

Individual criminals wreak their carnage on individuals or small numbers of people. As this century has shown, terrorist governments have the capacity to commit genocide against millions of people, provided that the people are unarmed. Schemes to confiscate firearms kept by peaceable citizens have historically been associated with some of the world's most insidious tyrannies. Given this reality, it is not surprising that law-abiding gun owners oppose being objects of registration.

1. New York Times, Nov. 9, 1938, 24.

2. Gerald Schawb, The Day the Holocaust Began (New York: Praeger, 1990), 22.

3. New York Times, Nov. 11, 1938, 1, 4.

4. The Holocaust, Vol. 3, The Crystal Night Pogrom, John Mendelsohn, ed. (New York: Garland, 1982), 183-84.

5. Die Deutsche Wochenschau, No. 506, 15 May 1940, UfA, Ton-Woche.

6. Major H. von Dach, Total Resistance (Boulder: Paladin Press, 1965), 169. Earlier published as Dach, Der Totale Widerstand (Biel: SUOV, 2nd ed., 1958).

7. New York Times, July 2, 1940, 20.

8. New York Times, Jan. 4, 1941, 7.

9. 87 CONG.REC., 77th Cong., 1st Sess., 6778 (Aug. 5, 1941).

10. Id. at 7102 (Aug. 13, 1941).

11. Property Requisition Act, P.L. 274, 77th Cong., 1st Sess., Ch. 445, 55 Stat., pt. 1, 742 (Oct. 16, 1941). See. Halbrook, "Congress Interprets the Second Amendment," 62 Tennessee Law Review 597, 618-31 (Spring 1995).

12. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Homes and Meir, 1985), 341, 318, 297.

13. Yitzhak Arad et al. eds., The Einsatzgruppen Reports (New York: Holocaust Library, 1989), ii.

14. Id. at 233, 306, 257-58, 352-53, 368.

15. Reichsgesetzblatt, I, 759 (4 Dec. 1941).

16. "The Nazi Deadline," American Rifleman, February 1942, at 7.

17. American Rifleman, Nov. 1940.

18. E.g., Report of the Adjutant General for 1945, at 23-24 (Richmond, Va., 1946); U.S. Home Defense Forces Study 58-59 (Office of Ass't Sec. of Defense 1981).

19. See Rotem (Kazik), Simha, Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 118-19; David I. Caplan, "Weapons Control Laws: Gateways to Victim Oppression and Genocide," in To Be a Victim: Encounters with Crime and Injustice, eds. Diane Sank and David I. Caplan (New York: Plenum Press, 1991), 310.

20. Letter of Pres. Truman to C.B. Lister, NRA Sec.-Treas., Nov. 14, 1945.

Poll: Westerners wary of climate change action - Aurora Sentinel: Hp Sr

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Poll: Westerners wary of climate change action

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 2:43 pm

Poll: Westerners wary of climate change action CATHERINE TSAI Associated Press Aurora Sentinel | 0 comments

DENVER | A survey of voters in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico shows that a substantial portion aren't convinced that action needs to be taken on global warming.

But the survey shows they nevertheless tend to support federal regulations requiring reductions in carbon emissions from such sources as power plants, cars and factories to reduce climate change.

The results were released Wednesday by Colorado College's State of the Rockies project, which offers research on issues facing the Rocky Mountain West. Survey funding was from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which says its programs include ones that aim to limit the risk of climate change and reduce poverty.

The survey said 61 percent of voters in Wyoming and Utah agreed either that concerns about global warming have been greatly exaggerated or that more research is needed on global warming before action is taken. Close to half of voters felt that way in Colorado, Montana and New Mexico.

However, about 70 percent of Colorado voters supported the EPA requiring reductions in carbon emissions from power plants, cars and factories, as did roughly two-thirds of Montana, New Mexico and Utah voters. About 56 percent in Wyoming said they supported it.

At least half of voters polled in each state said increasing the use of renewable energy sources would create new jobs in the state, rather than have no effect or cost jobs.

State of the Rockies project director Walt Hecox said he was "amazed" at the strong support for the idea that the economy and environment do not have to be in conflict.

"What I see is a fairly significant endorsement that we can build a clean energy economy, even when extractive industries have a significant presence in a state," said former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, now director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

Still, there have been conflicts with environmental initiatives. In Colorado, the coal industry and coal miners strongly opposed a 2010 law that required two utilities to look at shutting down or replacing some coal-fired power plants. Supporters said the law would help Colorado meet federal clean air standards.

Lori Weigel of the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and David Metz of the Democratic polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates conducted the telephone survey of 600 registered voters in Colorado and 400 each in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico Jan. 23-27.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points in Colorado and plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for the other states.

The Plum Line - Governor Walker's office confirms prank Koch call

Governor Walker's office confirms prank Koch call
By Greg Sargent

The Internet is burning up with the news that Governor Scott Walker may have been pranked by a caller claiming to be David Koch, and a spokesman for the Governor, Cullen Werwie, emails a statement confirming the call is legit:

The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.

More on this in a sec, but for now, suffice it to say that this will reinforce perceptions that Walker is in way over his head.

UPDATE, 11:41 a.m.: A few items of note from the call:

* Walker doesn't bat an eye when Koch describes the opposition as "Democrat bastards."

* Walker reveals that he and other Republicans are looking at whether they can charge an "ethics code violation if not an outright felony" if unions are paying for food or lodging for any of the Dem state senators.

* Walker says he's sending out notices next week to some five or six thousand state workers letting them know that they are "at risk" of layoffs.

"Beautiful, beautiful," the Koch impersonator replies. "You gotta crush that union."

UPDATE, 11:54 a.m.: In a key detail, Walker reveals that he is, in effect, laying a trap for Wisconsin Dems. He says he is mulling inviting the Senate and Assembly Dem and GOP leaders to sit down and talk, but only if all the missing Senate Dems return to work.

Then, tellingly, he reveals that the real game plan here is that if they do return, Republicans might be able to use a procedural move to move forward with their proposal.

"If they're actually in session for that day and they take a recess, this 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they'd have a quorum because they started out that way," he says. "If you heard that I was going to talk to them that would be the only reason why."

Then the fake Koch says this: "Bring a baseball bat. That's what I'd do."

Walker doesn't bat an eye, and responds: "I have one in my office, you'd be happy with that. I've got a slugger with my name on it."

12:09 p.m.: Another key exchange:

FAKE KOCH: What we were thinking about the crowds was, planting some troublemakers.

WALKER: We thought about that. My only gut reaction to that would be, right now, the lawmakers I talk to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this.The teachers union did some polling and focus groups...

It's unclear what Walker means when he says he "thought" about planting some troublemakers, but it seems fair to ask him for clarification.

UPDATE, 12:27 p.m.: One last fun tidbit: Walker appears to agree when "Koch" calls David Axelrod a "son of a bitch." Walker tells an anecdote in which he was having dinner with Jim Sensebrenner, and at a nearby table he saw Mika Brzezinski and Greta VanSusteren having dinner with David Axelrod. Then this exchange occured:

WALKER: I introduced myself.

FAKE KOCH: That son of a bitch.

WALKER: Yeah, no kidding, right?

UPDATE, 12:41 p.m.: Another great exchange:

FAKE KOCH: Well, I'll tell ya what, Scott. Once you crush these bastards, I'll fly ya out to Cali and really show you a good time.

WALKER: Alright. That would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward.

By Greg Sargent | February 23, 2011; 11:34 AM ET
Categories: Labor

Government Unions Have Not Benefited the Public

Government Unions Have Not Benefited the Public
By Jonah Goldberg

The protesting public school teachers with fake doctor's notes swarming the Capitol building in Madison, Wis., insist that Gov. Scott Walker is hell-bent on "union busting" in their state. Walker denies that his effort to reform public sector unions in Wisconsin is anything more than an honest attempt at balancing the state's books.

I hope the protesters are right. Public unions have been a 50-year mistake.

A crucial distinction has been lost in the debate over Walker's proposals: Government unions are not the same thing as private sector unions.

Traditional, private sector unions were born out of an often bloody adversarial relationship between labor and management. It's been said that during World War I, U.S. soldiers had better odds of surviving on the front lines than miners did in West Virginia coal mines. Mine disasters were frequent; hazardous conditions were the norm. In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion claimed the lives of 362 West Virginia miners. Day-to-day life often resembled serfdom, with management controlling vast swaths of the miners' lives. And before unionization and many New Deal-era reforms, Washington had little power to reform conditions by legislation.

Meanwhile, government unions have no such narrative on their side. Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair's famous schoolhouse sequel to "The Jungle"? No? Don't feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.

Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order (so much for democracy), the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations.

The argument for public unionization wasn't moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political.

Traditional organized labor, the backbone of the Democratic Party, was beginning to lose ground. As Daniel DiSalvo wrote in "The Trouble with Public Sector Unions," in the fall issue of National Affairs, JFK saw how in states such as New York and Wisconsin, where public unions were already in place, local liberal pols benefited politically and financially. He took the idea national.

The plan worked. Public union membership skyrocketed and government union support for the party of government skyrocketed with it. From 1989 to 2004, AFSCME - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - gave nearly $40 million to candidates in federal elections, with 98.5% going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Why would local government unions give so much in federal elections? Because government workers have an inherent interest in boosting the amount of federal tax dollars their local governments get. Put simply, people in the government business support the party of government.

And this gets to the real insidiousness of government unions. Wisconsin labor officials fairly note that they've acceded to many of their governor's specific demands - that workers contribute to their pensions and healthcare costs, for example. But they don't want to lose the right to collective bargaining.

But that is exactly what they need to lose.

Private sector unions fight with management over an equitable distribution of profits. Government unions negotiate with politicians over taxpayer money, putting the public interest at odds with union interests and, as we've seen in states such as California and Wisconsin, exploding the cost of government. The labor-politician negotiations can't be fair when the unions can put so much money into campaign spending. Victor Gotbaum, a leader in the New York City chapter of AFSCME, summed up the problem in 1975 when he boasted, "We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss."

This is why FDR believed that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," and why even George Meany, the first head of the AFL-CIO, held that it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

As it turns out, it's not impossible; it's just terribly unwise. It creates a dysfunctional system where for some, growing government becomes its own reward. You can find evidence of this dysfunction everywhere. The Cato Institute's Michael Tanner notes that federal education spending has risen by 188% in real terms since 1970, but we've seen no significant improvement in test scores.

The unions and the protesters in Wisconsin see Walker's reforms as a potential death knell for government unions. My response? If only.