Arizona & Utah: Significance?

Ted Cruz 4I had to go to bed last night before any results came in from the Utah caucuses. I awoke this morning to an incomplete accounting of those results, but Cruz has won in a blowout, currently at 69% of the vote, while Trump came in slightly behind Kasich at only 14%. Cruz gets all 40 Utah delegates.

Arizona went for Trump, but once again, despite all the talk of a race being “over,” he was unable to break the 50% mark, getting about 47%. Kasich, in what is supposedly a three-man race (if you really think he’s still in it), came in fourth, behind early votes for Rubio.

Early voting is the big culprit this year. Cruz lost Louisiana only because so many voted early, later regretting their support for Trump after his debate-stage antics. If you recall, Cruz won the vote in Louisiana among those who waited for the actual day of the primary.

Trump probably would have won Arizona anyway, but once more the early voting, I believe, was a factor in the spread of victory, with Cruz coming in a distant second at 24%. Most of Rubio’s voters would have switched to Cruz without that early-voting process.

The other factor that has worked against Cruz is the stubbornness of candidates who refuse to leave the race when it is obvious they can’t win. Rubio staying in as long as he did led to Cruz losing two states he probably would have won—North Carolina and Missouri. Kasich’s woebegone campaign took enough votes in Illinois that Cruz fell short there as well.

I continue to believe that if this had been a true two-man race from South Carolina on, the delegate count now would be extremely tight between Trump and Cruz.

The Cruz campaign is looking to a win in Wisconsin next. It’s time—no, past time—for Governor Scott Walker to come out publicly on Cruz’s side. His support could be crucial for a Cruz victory.

So how is the media going to play last night’s results? Look for an increasing theme that touts Trump’s eventual nomination, focusing on Arizona primarily. Cruz’s Utah triumph, far more smashing than anything Trump has won, will be largely ignored as an anomaly.

No, this is not over, despite what the media will tell you. The upcoming primaries are still crucial as to how this all will play out.

Scott Walker: Christian Public Servant

Scott WalkerScott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, has chalked up an amazing record. He first entered the national news cycle when he stood firm against unreasonable union demands in his state and won. Then he had to face a recall election. He won again. Wisconsin has prospered under his administration, with an unemployment level plunging below the national average, state coffers with a surplus, and tax money being returned to the citizens of the state. Further, he has been a staunch defender of life, signing bills restricting abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood.

In almost every way, Walker has been an outstanding governor, and a model for Republican public servants throughout the nation. His success also has made him a target of hatred on the extreme Left (a term becoming more redundant with each passing day). Walker, a dedicated Christian, raised the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation the other day by offering this short tweet:

Scott Walker Tweet

That Scripture simply affirms what Christians always have believed: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Pretty offensive, right? That foundation has demanded Walker remove the tweet from his account. Here’s part of the official response from the Freedom From Religion atheist leaders:

To say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” seems more like a threat—or the utterance of a theocratic dictator—than a duly elected civil servant.

A theocratic dictator? Simply for thanking God for the strength to carry out his duties? Is this really where we are now as a nation? We’re seeing more and more the public manifestation of anger toward those who hold to Biblical beliefs, and there is no limit to how anything Christians say can be willfully twisted into something “hateful” or threatening. Let’s be clear: it’s not the Christians who are threatening anyone (except with the truth about their sinfulness). The threats are pretty much one-sided nowadays against those who remain firm in the faith.

To Walker’s credit, he refuses to take down the tweet. May there be more public servants who will follow his example.

A Victory for Sanity & Common Sense

Scott Walker’s victory yesterday in the Wisconsin governor’s recall election was a triumph for common sense. Walker, a genuine Christian man who walked out his convictions—doing what he said he would do when he was first elected—had to endure a year and a half of death threats, massive rallies, an “occupy movement,” if you will, of the Wisconsin State House, and an attempt to oust him from office, not for any misdeeds or corruption, but simply for disagreement over policy.

Let’s review what the beef was, as well as how Walker’s reforms have played out in the state. One of the biggest problems Wisconsin faces is its own semi-radical history. It was the first state, in 1959, to allow collective bargaining for public employees. As Baby Boomers began retiring, the pensions owed to them via this bargaining brought the state to the edge of financial ruin. Walker merely sought to curb this out-of-control union power. The unions reacted vociferously, and with the aid of Democrat legislators who fled the state to try to forestall the changes [now there’s a model of good governance if ever there was one], they have dragged out this battle for what seems like forever.

Walker and the Republican majority in the legislature—put there by the people in 2010—fulfilled their promises to the electorate despite the threats and a nationwide effort to defeat a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge in another election. They failed. So then they turned their guns on Walker directly, along with his lieutenant governor. Again, a national juggernaut was created, led by the big unions in cooperation with the Democrat party. They have now failed again.

It’s a little hard to convince most state citizens to remove a man from office who has spearheaded reforms that appear to be working. Let me quote one commentator from Forbes who has summarized the results nicely:

The state budget has been balanced. The unemployment rate has been dropping and is now below the national average. Property taxes are down. Fraudulent sick leave policies—which allowed employees to call in sick and then work the next shift for overtime pay—have been ended. The government has stopped forcibly collecting union dues from workers’ paychecks. Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members’ interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them. Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third.

In other words, fiscal health and sanity have returned. All this, and public employees still have benefits that are 22% above the private sector. That’s hardly draconian. No wonder voters turned down the recall.

Why would anyone of sound mind desire to return to the former state of affairs?

What does this election mean for the bigger picture? It could mean Wisconsin is in play for Republicans in the presidential election. A state that put Republicans in the majority in 2010, and which has reaffirmed that choice just now, may be ready to switch political columns. Did you notice that President Obama avoided going to Wisconsin during this time? His people knew it was a losing proposition; they didn’t want his image saddled with another loss. One can only hope this Wisconsin election is a portent of what we will see in November.

Laboring with Gratitude

Labor Day 2011. Is this really something I want to celebrate? Let me begin Biblically with a passage that speaks to the concept of work and wealth creation. It’s from Deuteronomy 8:16-18:

In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm the covenant which He swore to your fathers.

What does this passage say to me? First, God is our provider. Second, whenever we take credit ourselves for building up wealth, we are forgetting who gave us the abilities we possess. Third, God is not opposed to wealth creation, to working hard to provide for ourselves and our families; He just wants us to do so with the right attitude of gratitude for His blessings.

This is a good starting place. No matter how wealthy one becomes, it means nothing in the Lord’s eyes if that person does not acknowledge Him. No matter how diligent a worker one may be, again it means nothing if it isn’t intertwined with an appreciation of the gifts and abilities provided by Him.

This particular day, Labor Day, is supposed to honor the average worker. A couple things need to be understood first. There should be no dichotomy created between those who labor as entrepreneurs and executives, on the one hand, and those who perform what are called blue-collar jobs. Everyone works. There is no particular dignity attached to either management or “labor.” Anyone who carries out his job with gratitude, and who sees it as a calling from God, is honored by Him. There is no reason to assign greater honor to those in blue-collar positions.

Yet Labor Day seeks to do that. Why? Well, this won’t go over well with some, but I’ll venture here anyway. The roots of the holiday stem from a socialist agenda that pits management against workers. Throughout labor history, socialism and communism have played a significant role. And the reason they were able to make inroads into the movement is that some in management made such poor decisions that they, in effect, pushed people toward the socialist solution.

This history of labor unions is spotty at best. We could start with the Haymarket riots that erupted in Chicago in 1886. A strike led to violence in which policemen were killed. Then there was the Homestead Strike in 1892 against one of Andrew Carnegie’s steel plants. It turned into a pitched battle where strikebreakers were attacked and killed. Two years later, the Pullman Strike against the railroads also got out of control. The workers at the Pullman factory had legitimate grievances, but when federal troops arrived to protect the running of the trains for mail service, again riots ensued. Railcars were tipped over; buildings were set on fire; people were killed in the melee. It took great force to stem the violent tide.

During the Great Depression, FDR courted union favor and put the government on their side. FDR’s New Deal was very anti-business, and government encroached on areas where it had never been before. Result? The Great Depression never really went away until after WWII. Some analysts say that real prosperity didn’t return until the 1950s. Yet the unions had it good. Their power grew exponentially. Union leadership became part of the privileged class, not much different than highly paid executives.

Union membership has decreased dramatically in the past few decades. Union leaders fear their loss of power. The Obama administration has given them new life. Organizations such as the SEIU have figured prominently in administration circles. The latest battleground was Wisconsin where a new Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature, facing imminent financial disaster, largely due to state expenses for union benefits, passed a law that cut back on union power in negotiating. Remember the scene? Protesters taking over the Capitol? Thugs menacing the families of legislators? Democrat politicians fleeing the state to try to stop the new law from being passed? The trashing of the Capitol building itself, which cost quite a bit to repair?

They lost anyway. Hopefully, this is an indication that their day has gone. By the way, that hated law has resulted in jobs being saved. Have you heard much about that from the mainstream media? I thought not.

Radicalism is alive and well in America. This past May Day, the SEIU coordinated a protest with other organizations of like mind. Which ones? Here are some pictures from that protest:

Posters honoring Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevara don’t inspire me.

On this Labor Day, let’s honor genuine, honest labor, whether it is classified as blue-collar, white-collar, or any other type of collar you prefer. Let’s remember that it is God who gives us the ability to make wealth, and let’s labor with gratitude for His provision. Above all, let’s do all that we do for His glory.

A Privilege, Not a Right

Back in the fall of 1981, Ronald Reagan had to deal with a public-sector strike threat. The union threatening the strike was PATCO, which represented the air traffic controllers. I’m sure they had some legitimate complaints, but they sought to risk the safety of all air travel passengers by their action. Reagan was firm with that government union, reminding the members that they had taken a pledge when they were hired not to strike. Reagan’s position was that no public-sector union had the right to play with people’s lives in that manner. Consequently, he warned them that anyone who did not report to work within 48 hours would be fired.

They didn’t believe him. They didn’t report for work. He fired 11,400 air traffic controllers. For President Reagan, it was a matter of the rule of law. It had to be upheld or we would plunge into chaos.

Yes, it took some scrambling to cover the missing controllers and to train new ones, but the skies remained safe regardless.

One interesting commentary on Reagan’s decision was that his firing of those workers was a powerful foreign policy move. Why foreign policy? The Soviets were watching, and they were learning just who this new president was and that he was a man of his word who would take action when necessary. They had to be careful in their dealings with him.

Reagan’s stand was the same as FDR’s, who had famously said there should be no public-sector unions with the right to strike. The liberal said this first, the conservative much later.

The Wisconsin public-sector unions have confused a right with a privilege. They were allowed certain privileges—wisely or not—and they have concluded they are now “rights.” They have recently been given a stiff dose of reality.

In fact, if anyone might have a better claim for going on strike, I submit it is a different group:

As Margaret Thatcher famously quipped [or at least a paraphrase of a comment she made], “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

The supply is not unlimited. Public-sector unions need to come to that stark realization.

Quality Coverage?

My first degree was in radio, TV, and film production, so I remain interested in how the media cover the news. There’s a lot to be disappointed about in the quality of that coverage, and unfortunately, a rather blatant bias sometimes appears.

When Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature passed their bill to scale back collective bargaining for public-sector employees, the Democrats kept yelling “Shame, shame” at them. It was quite a spectacle. Quality coverage of that incident would have emphasized the childish nature of the yelling. Instead, from some of the media outlets, we got sympathetic treatment of the “children” and distorted comparisons:

Another tactic is simply to ignore significant stories and focus on fluff:

If you want to know the source of these tactics, look no further than the journalism school nearest you:

Conservatives, on the whole, get rather brutal treatment, except of course for one type of conservative:

If you were around when Reagan was president, you will recall how he was savaged by the media as a warmonger and a hardhearted politician who couldn’t wait to throw old people out into the street and take away school lunches from children. I guess it’s nice to know the image can change over time—but it’s too bad one has to die first to be treated fairly.

In a Reasonable World …

The Wisconsin saga refuses to go away. How about a short review of the episode thus far? How did it start? Well, one has to look at November first, where Republicans sweep the races in the state, taking the governorship and control of both houses of the legislature. They do so on the promise to deal with the financial problems looming. What problems? How about a projected deficit of over $3 billion?

So, after being elected, they set out to do what they promised. A bill is drafted to cut back on expenses, aimed at the mushrooming costs of benefits to state employees. The provisions include making those employees pay a greater share of their healthcare premiums and pension contributions—a share that is still less than what private-sector employees pay. The bill also cuts back collective bargaining for benefits, but not for pay.

In a reasonable world, this would be a reasonable bill. Oh that we lived in a reasonable world!

Democrat senators, knowing they will lose the vote on this bill, take advantage of a rule that requires at least 20 votes in the senate to pass the bill. There are 19 Republican senators, so the 14 Democrat senators decide to run away to Illinois.

Safely hidden in Illinois, the Democrat senators demand that Republicans negotiate the provisions of the bill:

Republicans respond that it’s a little hard to negotiate with people who aren’t there. They also remind the Democrats that they were elected to debate bills in the Wisconsin capitol, not from a hidden location outside the state. But that enrages the state employees, who decide to overrun the capitol building, threaten the families of Republican legislators [note: this is barely reported in the mainstream media], and trash the capitol, requiring a few million dollars to repair it.

The majority of those who descend upon the capitol are teachers whose absence from school shuts down a whole slew of school systems across the state. They are “sick.” That’s why they are not in school. A number of doctors are seen writing excuse notes for them as they, despite their illnesses, find the strength to continue their protest.

Finally, when all else fails, the Republicans pass a bill that removes the part that requires the 20 votes, thereby rekindling the anguished protests. They do so only after trying to talk with the absent senators, who, when it is discovered they have been in negotiations with the Republicans, break off those negotiations and criticize the Republicans again. Huh?

By this point, everyone is wondering if those Democrats will ever come home:

Ah, but not to fear. They do return to a hero’s welcome from the mob. They are declared to be the saviors of the people, despite the fact that they deserted their posts, were paid by the taxpayers for doing nothing, and acted like spoiled children as they fled the state they were elected to represent.

In a reasonable world, they would not be considered heroes. Will reason triumph? Stay tuned.