Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Wisconsin governor Walker’s reforms hit the left in their wallets

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is mean

First, let’s talk about Stephen Harper. I sometimes blog about conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who Dennis Prager calls “the leader of the free world”. He has a record of putting into place laws that cut off the ability of the left to get campaign funding without consent from the people supplying the money.

Here’s an article from Canada’s National Post.

Excerpt:

While the political showdown making news this month has pitted Prime Minister Stephen Harper against Senator Mike Duffy, a more important battle is shaping up for the 2015 election. It’s between the Conservative Party and organized labour — as evidenced by the resolutions the party will be debating at its policy convention in Calgary this week.

Proposals include allowing secret ballots during strikes, banning the use of dues for political purposes, requiring increased financial disclosure by unions, and passing right-to-work legislation. The resolutions are moved by electoral district associations in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and together represent what appears to be the largest block of resolutions on any one theme.

Why the focus on organized labour, and why now? In part, it’s ideological. While small-c conservatives respect freedom of association, they also respect the freedom not to associate. The labour movement’s rules — particularly the RAND formula, which obliges workers in unionized workplaces to join whether they want to or not — restricts workers’ freedom of choice. Unions also spend dues on causes that workers may not support, and demand workers follow their direction on strike action, even if workers may be opposed or not be able to afford the loss in pay.

[...]The Conservatives have pledged to balance the federal budget by the time they go to the polls. One of the elements of their plan is downsizing government, which pits them directly against the Public Service Alliance of Canada. For two years now, PSAC has been fighting against Conservative cuts to the bureaucracy and the party’s policy of reduction by attrition. PSAC’s rallies and campaigns, however, have done nothing to dent the Tories’ resolve (long overdue, considering that they substantially grew the size of the bureaucracy during the early years of their mandate). Curtailing PSAC’s power and voice would help the Tories achieve their downsizing goals for both the short and long term.

Back in 2006, Stephen Harper banned political contributions from corporations and unions. Nasty! And he’s not done yet, according to this article. It’s good to win, and win, and win again. I am tired of conservatives losing, even in other countries.

Governor Scott Walker

Now when I look around at the Republican Party, I rarely see the same will to do effective things that will cripple the left financially. It’s like Republicans don’t want to offend people, especially journalists. They want to be liked at cocktail parties.

But there is one Republican who is fine with being hated by his enemies, and he is getting a lot of attention from conservatives ahead of the 2016 election.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also mean

Here’s the story from the Associated Press.

Excerpt:

The 2011 state law that all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers has hit Wisconsin’s second largest union particularly hard.

The latest tax documents available show combined income of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dropped 45 percent in 2012 _ the first full year of the law, according to The Capital Times.

In 2011, the four councils that make up the state organization reported a combined income of $14.9 million. In 2012 that dropped to $8.3 million. Dues revenue dropped 40 percent to $7.1 million.

Walker and supporters of the law said it was a way to help local governments reduce the costs of employee benefits, but the legislation also included measures aimed at financially weakening unions by ending automatic dues deductions.

The union’s Council 40 executive director, Rick Badger, says that while the declines in revenue stemming from the law were expected, he has been encouraged by the number of workers who have continued to pay voluntary dues.

“In fact, what (the law’s) architects might find surprising is our resilience,” he wrote in an email. He said thousands of “front-line workers are remaining engaged in fighting for their rights despite heavy-handed political attempts to silence them.”

While public unions no longer enjoy the official bargaining power that they exercised in recent decades, he said many public workers continue to value their presence as advocates for their rights and welfare.

AFSCME is second only to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, in members in Wisconsin. It has long been a powerful player in state politics, funneling money directly to campaigns and running independent television ads in support of pro-labor candidates, as well as providing a legion of employees and member volunteers who made sure their union brethren voted on Election Day.

The law has also hit other big unions in the state. For instance, WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union, saw its revenue drop from $26 million in 2011 to $20 million in 2012.

This is definitely someone we conservatives need to look at in 2016. He has had to face the left in a blue-ish state, and he won.

During the Christmas vacation, I read governor Walker’s new book, which was a Christmas present from my friend ECM. If you want to learn more about governor Walker, I recommend picking that up. I actually got the audio version, and it’s read by governor Walker himself.

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Looking for some inspiration? Here’s an interview with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

This interview was conducted by John Hawkins, who runs Right Wing News.

Here’s a quick summary of why Scott Walker is famous – he stood up to the public sector unions:

Q. Outside of Wisconsin you are most famous for taking on the unions in your state; briefly tell us what you did legislatively and what the impact of it has been on the state.

A. The easiest way to explain it is we had a choice.  In the past the big union bosses had been in charge of both state and local government.  We made a change that ultimately put the hard working taxpayers back in charge and by that, what I mean is under the old system of collective bargaining, not only the state but local governments had to abide by union contracts that many times were run contrary to the best interest of the taxpayers and to the people they newly elected.  So we came in early 2011, we faced a big budget deficit, $3.6 billion per capita, one of the biggest in the country — and we knew to balance our budget we weren’t going to raise taxes, we weren’t going to do massive layoffs, we weren’t going to cut things like Medicaid.  Instead we put in place these long-term structure reforms that put the power back in the hands of, again, of the hard working taxpayers.

By pulling back on collective bargaining we empowered local governments, school districts, counties, cities, towns, villages, and the state to go out and control and not only get things like reasonable pension and healthcare contributions which were nowhere in line with the private sector, but they got to change work rules and everything else as part of running a government.  We went from a $3.6 billion budget deficit to today we finished our fiscal year off with just shy of a $760 million surplus.  We cut taxes a billion and a half and an unemployment rate that was once 9.2% is now 6.3% —  so we’ve had some positive results and we’re going to keep on that path.

What Scott Walker is famous for is that he passes laws that work so well that even in one of the bluest states, he can win elections. Why is that? It’s because if your policies are good, you will get good results. And people recognize good results regardless of their party identification. If you couple good results with sincerity and honesty, then you can win over a lot of independents and even some conservative Democrats.

And this is the part that made me the happiest to read:

Q. In your book you encourage Republicans to do something important that the GOP, much to its detriment, has gotten out of the habit of doing.  You said we should champion the vulnerable.  Talk a little bit about that, talk about why that’s important for Republicans to do.

A. Yeah, one of the things that frustrates me so much in the Presidential election is I thought there was a tremendous lost opportunity — and obviously the clearest example of that was when Republican nominees talked about the 47% and also in a similar conversation talked about not worrying about the poor because the poor had a safety net.  That really, truly doesn’t match where I’m at.  I don’t think it matches with people like Ronald Reagan who was a great inspiration for me as a kid.  I went back in the book and talked about how Reagan in 1980 at the National Convention in Detroit in his acceptance speech talked about things like saying if you’re living in poverty, we want to lift you out.  If you’re living in despair, we want to be hope, but that hope isn’t based on more government.  It’s based on empowering people with the skills and the talents and the abilities that they need to go out and control their own lives and so I think the message is really simple, I believe, and I think this was the missed opportunity.  I believe the president and his allies in Washington in particular measure success in government by how many people are dependent on government, by how many people are on Medicaid, by how many people are on food stamps, by how many people are on unemployment.  That’s why they want to extend unemployment benefits.  They want more people signed up, more people dependent.  I think we as Republicans should measure success by just the opposite — by how many people are no longer dependent on the government, not because we’ve got to be careful to articulate this correctly, not because we don’t care about people or because we want to push people out to the streets, but because we understand that true freedom and prosperity don’t come from the mighty hand of the government.  It comes from empowering the people to control their own lives and their own destiny.  One example that I give in the book that I’ve talked about before is we made a change in food stamps that said if you want to get food stamps, if you don’t have kids, you’re an adult in our state and you want to get food stamps, you’ve either got to be working part-time or you’ve got to be in one of my employment training programs, and I said it’s simple.

I don’t want to make it harder to get government assistance.  I want to make it easier to get a job and we’ve got to show people.  I think any of us who either have our own households or who have friends who have sons or daughters who are in their 20’s, they’re at college and at some point you say to your son or daughter eventually in their best interest, “Hey, it’s time to move out of the house.  It’s time to get your own job and your own place.”  That’s not about being heartless and cold.  That’s just the opposite.  It’s about you love your kids so much you want to get them out and help them get on their own two feet so they can have the pride that comes from work in controlling their own destiny.

Now, recently there was  post on Politico about 10 people who should give the Republican response to the state of the union address (SOTU), and Walker was in the top spot. I heard about this list on Dennis Prager’s show, and it came up again on Michael Medved’s show. Now I think Prager is more of a principled conservative, and Medved is more of a pragmatic moderate. And yet they both thought that Walker should do the response. I think that Republicans across the spectrum are realizing that we need to pick someone competent in order to be different from the Democrats.

During the Christmas vacation, I read governor Walker’s new book, which was a Christmas present from my friend ECM. If you want to learn more about governor Walker, I recommend picking that up. I actually got the audio version, and it’s read by governor Walker himself.

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Wisconsin judge defends free speech rights of conservative groups against Democrat fascists

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Chalk up a big victory for the First Amendment. On Friday a Wisconsin judge struck a major blow for free political speech when he quashed subpoenas to conservative groups and ordered the return of property to the targets of a so-called John Doe campaign-finance probe.

John Doe probes operate much like grand juries, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches while gag orders require the targets to keep quiet. We wrote about the kitchen-sink subpoenas and morning raids by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz that targeted dozens of conservative groups that participated in the battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker (“Wisconsin Political Speech Raid,” Nov. 16, 2013).

Now we learn that Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled on Friday that at least some of those subpoenas were improper. They “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws,” he wrote. His opinion remains under seal but we obtained a copy.

The quashed subpoenas were sent to Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Inc., the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America, as well as their officers and directors. Judge Peterson’s order doesn’t apply to other subpoena targets, but they can presumably get the same result if they file a motion with the judge and have a similar factual basis.

[...]“There is no evidence of express advocacy” and therefore “the subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed,” Judge Peterson wrote. Even “the State is not claiming that any of the independent organizations expressly advocated” for the election of Mr. Walker or his opponent, he added. Instead they did “issue advocacy,” which focuses on specific political issues.

This means that prosecutors essentially invented without evidence the possibility of criminal behavior to justify the subpoenas and their thuggish tactics. At least three targets had their homes raided at dawn, with police turning over belongings, seizing computers and files, and even barring phone calls.

The judge’s order vindicates our suspicion that the John Doe probe is a political operation intended to shut up Mr. Walker’s allies as he seeks re-election this year. No one has taken public credit for appointing the special prosecutor, but we know the probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf.

Charlie Sykes, the famous Wisconsin-based radio talk show host, had more to say about it on Right Wisconsin.

He writes:

The IRS scandal — which is ongoing — is not that Tea Party groups may have engaged in political activities; it is the abuse of government power to target, harass, and intimidate political opponents. It involves singling out conservative Tea Party groups for special scrutiny and harassment if they sought tax exempt status. 

But that pales next to the Doe, which targeted dozens of conservative groups and individuals and subjected them to criminal investigations. Prosecutors cast a breathtakingly wide net –- 29 separate groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Americans for Prosperity, American Crossroads, and the Republican Governors Association, along with other innocent bystanders.

In the IRS scandal, Tea Party groups were threatened with the denial of tax exempt status and subject to legal and financial inconvenience. In Wisconsin, conservatives were threatened with imprisonment.

[...]The anti-Walker probe included raiding the homes of targeted activists, seizing their private correspondence, phones, and computers – including the computers, phones, and emails of their spouses and other family members. Under the Doe’s draconian gag orders, conservatives subjected to such raids were threatened with imprisonment if they spoke about it. And because the probe was secret, the prosecutors could not be held accountable for their conduct. 

[...]So, what is the motivation/agenda behind the witch-hunt?  The office of Milwaukee Democrat district attorney, John Chisolm, presided over a three-year-old long John Doe aimed at Scott Walker that resulted in charges only against a handful of functionaries. Dozens of members of Chisholm’s office signed Walker recall petitions; the chief investigator had a recall sign in his front yard, and some of Chisolm’s aides reportedly were panting at the prospect of charging Walker himself.  Their disappointment has been palpable.

Sources describe deputies Bruce Landgraf and David Robles as particularly vindictive and aggressive in pursuing the new probe.

I just finished reading Governor Scott Walker’s new book about his effort to limit public sector unions in Wisconsin, and their (failed) effort to recall him. I believe this man has what it takes to be President one day. I believe in experience, and Walker is getting a lot of experience passing bold, innovative reforms as governor of Wisconsin. He could. Go. All. The. Way.

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George Will: Governor Scott Walker is a good pick for Republicans in 2016

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

I like Scott Walker because he is a man who defeats Democrats and gets things done, and I like Senator Ted Cruz because he is a brilliant debater. Both are tough conservatives. But if I had to pick one of them right now for 2016, I’d pick Scott Walker. And I’m not alone.

Here’s an editorial from the St. Louis Dispatch that Dennis Prager discussed on Monday, authored by moderate conservative George Will.

Excerpt:

In 2011, tens of thousands of government employees and others, enraged by Gov. Scott Walker’s determination to break the ruinously expensive and paralyzing grip that government workers’ unions had on Wisconsin, took over the Capitol building in Madison. With chanting, screaming and singing supplemented by bullhorns, bagpipes and drum circles, their cacophony shook the building that the squalor of their occupation made malodorous. They spat on Republican legislators and urinated on Walker’s office door. They shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!”

When they and Democratic legislators failed to prevent passage of Act 10, they tried to defeat — with a scurrilous smear campaign that backfired — an elected state Supreme Court justice. They hoped that changing the court’s composition would get Walker’s reforms overturned. When this failed, they tried to capture the state Senate by recalling six Republican senators. When this failed, they tried to recall Walker. On the night that failed — he won with a larger margin than he had received when elected 19 months earlier — he resisted the temptation to proclaim, “This is what democracy looks like!”

[...]Walker has long experience in the furnace of resistance to the looting of public funds by the public’s employees. He was elected chief executive of heavily Democratic Milwaukee County after his predecessor collaborated with other officials in rewriting pension rules in a way that, if he had been re-elected instead of resigning, would have given him a lump-sum payment of $2.3 million and $136,000 a year for life.

To fight the recall — during which opponents disrupted Walker’s appearance at a Special Olympics event, and squeezed Super Glue into the locks of a school he was to visit — Walker raised more than $30 million, assembling a nationwide network of conservative donors that could come in handy if he is re-elected next year. Having become the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election, he is today serene as America’s first governor to be, in effect, elected twice to a first term.

The radically leftist New Republic has this to say about Governor Walker.

Excerpt:

Right now, the Republican Party is an increasingly factional place, divided between north and south, establishment and grassroots, Tea Party Conservatives and practical Conservatives, religious right and business, libertarians and populists.

[...]There’s another potentially unifying mainline conservative, though, and he lurks in Madison. Scott Walker, the battle-hardened governor of Wisconsin, is the candidate that the factional candidates should fear. Not only does he seem poised to run—he released a book last week—but he possesses the tools and positions necessary to unite the traditional Republican coalition and marginalize its discontents.

Walker has the irreproachable conservative credentials necessary to appease the Tea Party, and he speaks the language of the religious right. But he has the tone, temperament, and record of a capable and responsible establishment figure. That, combined with Walker’s record as a reformist union-buster, will appeal to the party’s donor base and appease the influential business wing. Walker’s experience as an effective but conservative blue state governor makes him a credible presidential candidate, not just a vessel for the conservative message. Equally important, his history of having faced down organized labor and beaten back a liberal recall effort is much more consistent with the sentiment of the modern Republican Party than Jeb Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Altogether, Walker has the assets to build the broad establishment support necessary for the fundraising, media attention, and organization to win the nomination. He could be a voter or a donor’s first choice, not just a compromise candidate.

The other mainline conservatives possess some of Walker’s characteristics, but not all. He’s more compelling and presidential, with more gravitas than Rubio or Jindal.

[...]But even though Walker’s political skills remain an open question, there are reasons why he might be a stronger candidate on paper. For one, he’s a more experienced politician—and the fact is that political skills and instincts are learned and honed under tough circumstances. By the time Walker’s wins reelection—which I expect—he will have won three competitive statewide contests in a tilt-blue state, under three different circumstances. He will have done so while campaigning and governing as a conservative. There are very few politicians who can claim as much.

We need to have someone who is a non-Romney – someone who likes to fight with the Democrats, and is able to beat them.

I found this article that lists six of his accomplishments.

Here’s are a couple:

#2 He passed a killer budget. Over the summer, he signed into law a state budget thatslashed taxes as well as unnecessary spending, including a $650 million income tax cut (part of nearly $1 billion in total tax cuts), Medicaid reform (see #4), the introduction of work requirements for people on food stamps, a freeze in university tuition and limits on residential property tax increases.

#3 He stands up to corruption. One of Walker’s first actions as governor was to create the Commission on Government Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, which was projected to save taxpayers $300 million. He also passed a law that prevents unions from using members’ dues to fund political campaigns.

I have placed his new book about his victories in Democrat-dominated Wisconsin on my wishlist. If you like politics, might be a good one for you as well.

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Doug Groothuis’ message for all Christians who are able to vote on Tuesday

Dr. Doug Groothuis, well-known Christian apologist, wrote this on his Facebook wall and asked everyone to share it:

To my Christian readers.

You are a child of heaven but also a citizen of earth. You are to seek the welfare of the city to which you have been exiled (Jer. 29:7) and be “salt and light” in this broken world (Matthew 5:1-18) We are to render to state what is the state’s (which is not everything) and to God what is God’s (Matthew 22:15-23). We are to see the welfare of “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46).

1. Being apolitical is being apathetic about how God’s world is governed in the civil sphere. Not everything is politics, but politics is crucial to our life together on God’s earth. Some political views are closer to a biblical ethic than others. Therefore:

2. Seek the good of the city, the least the last the lost, by voting for candidates that deny statism (see Ezek 28:1-10). This idolatry and bad news for any society.

3. The state does not create wealth; people and other institutions do that. Let the people and voluntary assembles thrive (under the rule of Law, not the rule of men).

4. Putting more and more souls on welfare and food stamps does not dignify them or help solves their problems. Happiness is earned, it is not derived from state handouts. That fosters a parasite mentality.

5. Allowing over one million unborn human beings made in God’s image to be killed each year through abortion is morally wrong. Fifty-four million (54,000,000) have been so killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973. We have blood on our hands and are tracking it into our churches, homes, and schools. We need to be watchman, prophets who call out sin for those who cannot: the unborn. You cannot make your cheap peace with a President that would expand “reproductive rights” (abortion on demand) and insure that abortions are paid for with tax money, that would make religious organizations insure for abortion.

6. The Bible teaches that debt is unhealthy. It should be limited not protracted. We must get our debt under control, or it will control us, and crush the life out of our economy and our spirits.

7. The state has “the power of the sword” (Romans 13:-17) and has the right to protect its people by force. This is a hostile and dangerous world. Cutty back on the military and not protecting our citizens abroad (Libya) is a dereliction of duty and a disgrace.

8. Be not deceived, but judge properly (see John 7:24). The political language of compassion, it not the same thing as real policies that give the poor a chance. Moreover, since the state is an impersonal agency based on coercion, it cannot be compassionate, but it can be just. Individuals, churches, private groups can be compassionate, and should be. When they are taxes up to their eyeballs, they have less to give.

In light of (1)-(8), please vote knowledgeably, wisely, and prayerfully.

And maybe this is a good time to point to this essay that Doug wrote about why he is voting for Mitt Romney on Tuesday. (I featured it about 3 weeks ago)

Excerpt:

Many conservatives (Christian or otherwise), me included, are disappointed that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. They lament that a more principled conservative (such as Michele Bachmann, or, to a lesser degree, Rick Santorum) was not selected. Perhaps they stand for the libertarian principles of Ron Paul. Whatever the case, many will be tempted to not vote at all or to cast a protest vote. This is a deep mistake, based on faulty ideas about politics and the meaning of a political vote. In this short essay, I will labor to convince fellow conservatives, whether Christians or not, to support and vote for Mitt Romney for President. I have waited to endorse Romney until all the other competitors have been eliminated. I do not expect to convert political liberals to this cause, which would require much more argumentation.

Please send this to any Christians who are not planning to vote for Romney!

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