Right-to-Work Bill Passes Wisconsin Senate

February 26th, 2015

The passage of Right-to-Work legislation in the Republican-controlled senate is no surprise, but the quick, efficient manner they’ve done it in is gratifying.

A right-to-work bill passed through the Wisconsin State Senate with a 15-17 majority and no amendments Wednesday as union-backing protesters gathered inside the Capitol building.

The vote comes after a rushed Senate Labor Committee hearing Tuesday and upcoming State Assembly debates to come next week. If the bill passes, Wisconsin will join 24 other right-to-work states and would abolish laws making union dues mandatory, which critics say would dissolve private sector unions.

Republican lawmakers unexpectedly announced on Friday they would take up the legislation in an extraordinary session to pass the bill as quickly as possible

Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Wednesday at the Senate debate it is time for Wisconsin to modernize its economy to keep up with competing states in the Midwest. He said passing right-to-work legislation is a step toward this goal and toward individual freedom.

Also: “Two gallery members interrupted Fitzgerald’s testimony to loudly express their opposition to right-to-work and as a result, Capitol Police escorted them out of the parlor. Senate President Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, warned gallery members another interruption would lead to the expulsion of the entire gallery.”

It’s almost as if the ridiculous recall circus completely united the Republican majority against union bullying!

Republicans hold a 63 to 36 edge in the Wisconsin Assembly, so Right-to-Work legislation should pass easily there and go on to a quick signature from Governor Walker.

Nice job, Wisconsin union goons and left-wing allies! If you hadn’t alienated so many ordinary Wisconsinites with your embarrassing, hysterical temper tantrum, none of this would have been possible…

Greece Suspends Soccer

February 26th, 2015

Greece has suspended their top soccer league due to violence:

The new Greek government suspended competition in the top-flight Super League indefinitely after violence at a weekend match between the top two football clubs in the country.

Sunday’s game between bitter Athens city rivals Panathinaikos and away team Olympiakos was marred by a pitch invasion despite a heavy police presence.

The players and officials of Super League leader Olympiakos were also pelted with various projectiles and flares amid ugly scenes.

Good thing Europeans aren’t completely soccer crazy, or that Greeks aren’t already pissed off at the continuing economic crisis or successive governments telling them precisely the lies they want to hear.

(An aside: This is an actual sentence on CNN.com: “Following these incidents, the ruling Syriza Party has made its decision to impose a suspension, which will be the third team [sic] this season that Greek football has been halted.” That’s some mighty fine proofreading, CNN…)

I think this is footage from the scene:

Evidently Greek government is as incompetent at maintaining a “heavy police presence” as it is at everything else except deficit spending.

Soccer hooliganism is hardly a novel phenomena in Europe, but I suspect this incident gives us a glimpse of the widespread simmering anger in Greece over the perpetual debt crisis. Having been brought to power by that anger, it looks like Syriza is badly underestimating its depth and how to manage it. If they were smart, they’d be far wiser to let some of it boil off in soccer brawls rather than let it keep building without an outlet.

In a country that can no longer afford bread, it’s deeply unwise to start banning circuses…

Lithuania Reintroduces Conscription

February 25th, 2015

With Russia still fighting it’s thinly disguised proxy war in Ukraine, other former Soviet states have to be nervous. That’s why Lithuania is reintroducing conscription.

To my mind, all of the Baltic countries should go to a universal service model like Switzerland or Israel: Everyone does a stint in the military, and everyone has an assault rifle at home (with a good smattering of handheld antitank weapons amidst the civilian populace as well).

The Baltic countries should all make it as hard as possible for Russia to occupy any parts of their country. Indeed, I would suggest that right now, disguised Ukrainian special forces units should be attacking critical infrastructure (rail lines, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, etc.) all across Russia.

Evidence suggests that Putin regards the economic damage being done to Russia by sanctions as an acceptable cost for digesting part of the Ukraine. That cost needs to keep rising to deter both present and future aggression.

“You are blocked from following @AlecBaldwin”

February 25th, 2015

Keith Olbermann was given a Twitter-induced suspension by his employer ESPN over insulting Penn State students for a pediatric cancer fundraiser (of all things) this week. While noting my own little dust-up with Olbermann, I observed that it was high time that Olbermann, like Alec Baldwin, learned that Twitter was not his friend.

At which point I discovered that I was blocked by Alec Baldwin:

BaldwinBlock

I’m honestly not sure why, since I only tweak him over his anger management issues about once or twice a year. (As opposed to earning my Amanda Marcotte block by consistently pointing out her extensive hypocrisy and willful ignoring of evidence in the UVA and Duke lacrosse (non-)rape cases.) Maybe he’s doing the GamerGate block thing, or using some other block list.

Evidently I’m not alone:

Time to break out this again:

Wisconsin Unions Double Down On Stupid

February 24th, 2015

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Wisconsin union leaders may be clinically insane.

Their suicidal idée fixe is on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his labor law reforms. You may remember how the rude, narcissistic, and counterproductive intimidation tactics employed during the Walker’s recall election backfired on them.

Indeed, it was the recall election that made Scott Walker what he is today:

The ferocity of the anti-Walker attacks during the recall attempt cannot be understated: no stone was left unturned, no “scandal” or slip of the tongue left unmentioned, and this may only help candidate Walker going into 2016. The Democrats spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours digging, scooping, ad-cutting, and hammering. They threw the kitchen sink at the guy in 2012, threw their neighbor’s sink at him in 2014, and now nobody on the block will let them inside to pee. Out of useful topsoil, what do they do now?

Had the Democrats not targeted Walker with a recall, that massive fundraiser network, the national profile, the party unity, and his highly developed get-out-the-vote team almost certainly wouldn’t exist. He may have still won re-election, but he would be just another Midwestern Republican governor who enacted reforms and faced push-back, not the conservative folk hero of a party longing for a win. He would most likely resemble Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a reformer but hardly a man with a cult following. There would still be plenty of new problems with the governor his opposition could cite, instead of leaving him mostly vetted for 2016.

They shot the king and missed, making a balding, sleepy-eyed executive into a god among a growing horde of followers. That’s bad enough for the Progressive set. In the unlikely event he wins the Republican nomination and the presidency? They struck the match that ignited their own national hell.

And what happened after Walker’s reforms went through and public employee unions could no longer force people to join? Union membership plummeted. Over 100,000 workers availed themselves of the opportunity to escape union clutches when they were finally allowed to. That’s why unions will never forgive Scott Walker: his reforms proved that workers hated the unions that supposedly represented them.

And Walker’s success has emboldened Republicans in other states to take on unions, which has the Democratic Party terrified. “Public-employee unions are a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayers’ money to the Democratic party.”

Now Walker and the Republican legislature aim to make Wisconsin a full right to work state. Naturally, Democrats and unions (the latter being an extension of the former) are gearing up to fight it.

Strategically, I understand why Democrats and unions have to fight this fight. What I don’t understand is why the anti-Walker crowd continues to employ the same “stuck on stupid” tactics against Walker that have lost them the last three elections.

Loud, annoying protest in the capitol rotunda guaranteed to alienate swing voters? Check.

Marches? Chants? Check.

Clenched fist Socialist Realism iconography? Check.

About the only thing they’re missing from the recall circus is the drum circle.

They even sent union goons to harass Walkers’ parents at their home. Because that’s such a sure fire way to win over people.

Now word comes that Wisconsin Unions are contemplating a general strike. Presumably because they couldn’t think of anything else so likely to: A.) Fail, and B.) Lose the supporting of those few remaining independents their previous tactics hadn’t already turned off.

It’s like Wisconsin unions are doing everything they can to get Scott Walker elected President in 2016…

70 Years Ago Today…

February 23rd, 2015

U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi:

It was not the end of fighting on Iwo Jima. Of the six men in the famous flag-raising picture, three (Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank) died in the battle. The three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes) survived the war, but all have passed away since.

Groundhog Day on the Aegean

February 23rd, 2015

Greece two weeks ago: “We will not negotiate this people’s pride and dignity.”

Greece today: “Yes, Master! We’d love to grovel some more if you continue tossing pennies into our cup!”

“As far as we can tell, the Greek government hasn’t achieved even a single one of its aims so far. The bailout was extended by four months, but in spite of a few cosmetic changes to the wording accompanying it (e.g. the ‘troika’ has been renamed ‘the institutions’), it is still precisely the same bailout agreement as before.”

This is an event completely unforeseen by everyone except anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to previous installments of Greek Bailout Kabuki. For all the bluster, it’s not like Greece had many options other than to get down on all fours and really lick boot, since it was slated to run out of cash tomorrow.

Naturally anyone who was foolish enough to believe Syriza’s promises (the technical term for such people is “rubes”) is hopping mad. “It’s as if [Greek PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Greek Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the others are telling me: ‘We believe that you are stupid…and you will believe whatever lie we tell you.’” The fact Syriza was elected at all is pretty much testament to the well-grounded accuracy that belief. That, and, oh, every single piece of news out of Greece since the Euro debt crisis struck, as long as that lie involved Greece continuing to spend money like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card and never having to pay their debts back.

The open secret, of course, is that Greece will never repay its debt. “We have to be realistic here. Greek debt is now 175 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); it’s higher than it was when this whole business first started.” (Well, by one measure. Another puts Greek debt at 317% of GDP.) Yeah, that’s what happens when you continue to run huge deficits even under your “austerity” budgets.

As I previously wrote:

I’m sure Syriza would love to implement their pie-in-the-sky big spending socialism, but their real goal is to lie to the Greek people long enough for the EU to write at least one more check, and lie to the EU about implementing reform long enough to cash it. Since Syriza only recently came to power, they probably want keep the farce rolling long enough to feather their own nests with Euros before engineering a grexit. After all, center-right parties got their turns at the public graft trough; why not the far left?

And back on December 29 I wrote:

So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.

Behold The Amazing Person’s uncanny powers of prophecy! Like Groundhog Day, it’s gotten remarkably easy to predict exactly what’s going to happen. Different people may occupy the Prime Minister’s office, but all them invariably wake up to the political equivalent of Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”

It looks like the only I thing I was off on was the piddling four month extension rather than twelve, and the fact that Syriza didn’t even get the tiny fig-leaf of symbolic debt reduction. I guess that request for reparations from Germany rubbed Angela Merkel the wrong way. Too bad Greek PM Alexis Tsipras failed to heed Basil Fawlty’s eminently sensible advice…

LinkSwarm for February 20, 2015

February 20th, 2015

A Friday LinkSwarm for your edification:

  • Over on Ace of Spades, DrewM wonders just what we hope to achieve by intervening against ISIS.
  • Why doesn’t Obama include Egypt in the coalition against ISIS?
  • ISIS beheads cigarette smoker. Good thing Nurse Bloomberg is already out of office. Wouldn’t want to give him any ideas…
  • Sweden’s political establishment refuses to face its radical Muslim immigration problem. “In 1975, 421 rapes were reported to the police; in 2014, it was 6,620. That is an increase of 1,472%.”
  • Democrats are bracing for a backlash when the tax penalties in ObamaCare (the gift that keeps giving) start hitting unsuspecting tax filers.
  • And they just sent the wrong tax information to 800,000 ObamaCare enrollees.
  • Why did Governor SexPuppy resign? Because he tried to go all Lois Lerner on his emails. (Via AceOfSpadesHQ.)
  • DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz offers to change her position on medical marijuana if a trial lawyer would just stop saying mean things about her. Way to look both corrupt and pathetic at the same time…
  • Old and Busted: Democrats attacking the Koch Brothers. The New Hotness: Democrats attacking Democrats attacking the Koch Brothers as the reason they lost in 2014.
  • Mike Rowe on education vs. a college degree.
  • First Amendment, Empower Texans and Michael Quinn Sullivan 1, Texas Trial Lawyers Association and Joe Straus’ Toadies 0.
  • Why progressives seem compelled to lie:

    Your standard progressive activist has really done nothing very interesting, so he or she needs to get proper credentials, to show that he or she knows what’s what, and that progressivism is what the world needs to deal with “problems”–after all, isn’t life just a series of problems calling for progressive intervention? They want to see what they believe.

    We, hence, have progressives making up the sort of stuff that puts them, the elite, in the center of the battle, on the ramparts, in the muddy trenches and downed helicopters with the common schlubs–the sort of worldly experience that allows progressives to tell us how to live our lives.

    Not to mention the fact that they doubt anyone will ever call them on their BS. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Swastikas and “F#ck Jews” painted on 30 houses in: A.) Paris, B.) Copenhagen, or C.) Madison, Wisconsin?
  • Related:

  • I hope to have time to put up a separate post on the ruling against Obama’s illegal amnesty Real Soon Now…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 19, 2015

    February 19th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • U.S. bankruptcy judge presiding over the Stockton case says pensions are not sacred and can be cut in bankruptcy. “CalPERS has bullied its way about in this case with an iron fist insisting that it and the municipal pensions it services are inviolable. The bully may have an iron fist, but it also turns out to have a glass jaw.”
  • Public employee pensions: Stealing from the young and poor to give to the old and rich. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s entrepreneurs still think the business climate sucks. “In the 2014 survey, 63.5 percent called the small business climate poor, with just 10 saying it’s good. This year 60 percent still consider the business climate poor with 16.5 percent finding it good.”
  • By contrast, low oil prices won’t torpedo Texas’ economy. “Texas’ economy today is more resilient to oil price fluctuations thanks to industrial diversification and pro-growth policies.”
  • California’s combined capital gains tax rate is the third highest. Not third highest in the U.S., third highest in the world, lower only than Denmark and France.
  • How environmentalists made California’s drought worse.
  • Two unions are on different sides of a proposed sale of six struggling Catholic hospitals to a private company.
  • Defense contractor “Advantage SCI, LLC announced today that the company will relocate its headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia (Fairfax County in Old Town Alexandria) from El Segundo, California, after recognizing the high costs related to worker’s compensation, liability, and taxes that plague businesses in California.”
  • Coffee roaster Farmers Brothers is leaving California for either Oklahoma or Texas.
  • More on the Farmer Brothers relocation. “After surviving depressions, recessions, earthquakes and wars, Farmer Brothers is leaving California, finally driven out by high taxes and oppressive regulations.”
  • California Democrats file bills to force the state to get 50% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030. They’re basically putting up yet another big red sign to manufacturers: “We’ll make it impossibly expensive for you to do business here.”
  • Why health care in California is less affordable than elsewhere.
  • The mess that is California’s homeowner earthquake insurance.
  • California property owners aren’t wild about being forced to sell their land for the high speed rail boondoggle.
  • Arlene Wohlgemuth on why Texas should avoid the siren song of Medicare expansion. (Also, best wishes to her for a speedy recovery from her motorcycle accident.)
  • California’s top lifeguard pulls in a cool $236,859 in total compensation. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Lewd yoga dentist filed for bankruptcy.” A San Diego dentist, which is my pretext for including it here, but really, how could I not link a headline like that?
  • Highlights from Governor Abbott’s State of the State Address

    February 18th, 2015

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott gave his State of the State address yesterday, and there’s plenty to talk about. Some highlights:

  • “Last week, Comptroller Hegar reported that sales tax revenue in January increased by 11 percent, surging to an all-time record. It’s the 58th consecutive month of year-over-year sales tax growth.”
  • “But the best way to create more jobs is to permanently reduce the business franchise tax.I will reject any budget that does not include genuine tax relief to Texas employers and job creators. I will also insist on property tax reduction. It’s time for property owners – not government – to truly own their property. My plan calls for a $2 billion reduction in the business franchise tax and a $2.2 billion reduction in the property tax burden.”
  • “To keep Texas the premiere model for opportunity, we must constrain the size of government and maximize the liberty of individuals. To protect taxpayers from government growing too big, we need a constitutional amendment that limits the growth of the state budget to population growth plus inflation.”
  • “To keep Texas the premiere model for opportunity, we must constrain the size of government and maximize the liberty of individuals. To protect taxpayers from government growing too big, we need a constitutional amendment that limits the growth of the state budget to population growth plus inflation.”
  • “Many of us have ridiculed states like California and Illinois as bastions of failed big government. You’ll be surprised to learn that Texas has more full-time state employees per capita than California and Illinois. That’s shocking – it must be changed. That’s why my budget requires most state agencies to reduce their general revenue spending by three percent.”
  • “I will expand liberty in Texas by signing a law that makes Texas the 45th state to allow Open Carry.”
  • So far it seems that Abbott is serious about governing as he campaigned…