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Baker wins in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

Posted by richardmoore on June 4, 2018 at 4:35 PM

In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court has sided with a Colorado baker who said that his religious beliefs prevented him for creating a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

It was a narrow ruling, to be sure. It did not give religious business owners the right to deny service to homosexuals, only that the baker, though he is open to the public, didn’t have to use his creative talents to create a cake for an event that runs against his religious convictions.

The baker, Jack Phillips, perhaps said it best: “It’s not about turning away these customers, it’s about doing a cake for an event — a religious sacred event — that conflicts with my conscience.”

Actually, it wasn’t even about that, though that’s the ultimate ramification of the decision. More precisely, it was about the Colorado Civil Rights Commission not giving due process consideration to the baker’s beliefs, opting for hostility instead.

“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the majority.

Narrow though it may be, the court nonetheless struck a blow for religious liberty; any win is big these days, and to do so with liberal support makes it all the more important.

Still, the very notion that you must surrender your religious beliefs to serve the public is abhorrent. Kennedy acknowledged that reality: "The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws.”

It would seem that those generally applicable laws would be unconstitutional. The last time we looked, the constitution still states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, a prohibition that extends to the states. Full equality should never mean the right to oppress another's practice of speech or religion. 

A right derived from the suppression of a right is no right at all.

Still, that argument — and religious liberty — will live to fight for another day, and that makes the ruling today a good one, however parsed it may be.

Getting what they so richly deserve

Posted by richardmoore on April 5, 2018 at 8:20 AM

A Lakeland Times Our View by Gregg Walker and Richard Moore

Several months ago, when the GOP-controlled Congress passed a $1.4-trillion tax cut, we opined that America could be on the verge of a golden era of prosperity — that we could be on the verge of making America great again.

But, we cautioned, one thing had to happen, or potential success could morph into a fiscal disaster — namely, the federal deficit and debt had to be cut.

The tax cuts, while stimulating the economy, will also add about a trillion dollars to the nation’s debt over a decade, and that demands offsetting spending cuts to avoid wiping out the economic growth fueled by the cuts:

“Pay-as-you-go is the only responsible way to finance a tax cut, and that means cutting the bloated federal budget by the trillion dollars needed over the next decade,” we wrote. “That sounds impossible, but there’s so much waste and bloat and special-interest money in the government that it’s really not tough at all.”

Well, not only did Congress not adopt pay as you go, in the latest $1.3-trillion budget bill they decided to spend even more, which all totaled will add about $420 billion more to the nation’s debt over the next decade.

It all adds up to a perfect storm of economic disaster. The Committee for a Responsible Budget expects the permanent return of trillion-dollar deficits next year, specifically projecting deficits to rise from last year’s $665 billion to more than $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2019 and to $1.7 trillion by 2028.

And this from a Republican Congress and a Republican president who criticize such deficits when Democrats are in power.

It is, in fact, a largely Democratic budget, as Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee Caucus, told The Hill: “It just boggles my mind that we continue to spend at a level that’s no different than the last three or four years of the Obama administration.”

Other conservatives in Congress echoed that sentiment, and even encouraged Trump to veto the bill, but of course fiscal conservatives in Congress are a rare and almost extinct species. If Democrats are the party of tax-and-spend — and they are — then Republicans are the party of borrow-and-spend, which is exactly what they must do to pay for simultaneously cutting revenues and increasing spending.

The bill will fall to young people and future generations to pay, either in the form of higher taxes or a lower standard of living or both. At least Democrats, by taxing us now, stick it to the present generation.

What’s sad is that there’s so much waste and bloat in the budget that we could cut it with the political will.

For example, the budget deals more than $7 billion to the National Science Foundation but does nothing to rein in that agency’s frivolous spending. The agency does fund valuable projects, but it also goes off the rails fairly frequently, like when it spent $700,000 on a Climate Change Musical.

Last year alone, as we have reported elsewhere, it spent $310,000 to study congressional “Dear Colleague” letters; $450,000 to study why there is no single English word for “light blue”; and $330,000 to study cell phone use by Tanzanian women.

Sadly, we are not making this stuff up.

Worst of all, the budget funds many Democratic priorities while defunding or short-funding much of President Trump’s agenda. With friends like these, conservatives don’t need enemies.

So where does all of this leave us, except with a horrible economic outcome?

Well, for one thing, probably with a Democratic Congress after November’s elections. American voters aren’t fools. They know this passel of big-government Republicans does not have their best interests at heart, and, hey, if they are going to fund Democratic initiatives, why not just vote for the Democrats themselves?

And that’s just what they have been doing in recent special elections.

Some experts still don’t believe the Democrats can overcome strongly partisan district lines to win the 24 seats they need in November. While this might be an exceptional wave election, a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice cautions that extreme gerrymandering could make the election wave more of a ripple.

According to that report, Democrats would need to win by an unprecedented nationwide margin of nearly 11 points to win a majority, and neither Democrats nor Republicans have won such an overwhelming margin in decades.

But this just might be the decade they do. In Pennsylvania, a Democrat just won narrowly in a district Trump won by 20 points. That’s almost double the 11-point margin Democrats need.

And make no mistake, this blue wave has been launched as a revolt against Congress, not against Donald Trump. According to both pre-election polls and exit interviews, Trump remained popular in that Pennsylvania congressional district, and his visit there in the closing days of the campaign likely made the election a close one, rather than a Democratic runaway.

No, it’s Congress in the crosshairs, and the ghastly budget bill the GOP Congress just passed all but doomed the party’s congressional chances in the fall. It’s likely too late to do anything about it.

Ultimately, though, losing the House might not be the end of the world. With Nancy Pelosi running that chamber, Donald Trump will able to remind voters why they voted for him and Republicans in the first place, setting the stage for Trump’s re-election and a return to GOP power in Congress in 2020.

After all, along with Maxine Waters, Pelosi is one Democrat who can make Trump look pretty sane, and, if a Democratic House impeaches the president — the GOP will almost assuredly retain the Senate so Trump is in no real danger — that will fire up the 2020 base even more.

And in that election, conservatives can mount campaigns that bring them the Republican nomination, so that a new Republican majority would actually be a conservative majority, unlike the establishment GOP majority of today.

Of course, it’s never a good thing to put Democrats in control of anything, but this year it might be as necessary as it is inevitable. It may be the only way for conservatives to build a truly conservative party.

As Sen Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tweeted last week: “When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party.”

So perhaps it’s time to build one. There’s an old saying about people needing to clean their own house first. This year, conservatives just may need to clean their own party first. They may need to drain their own swamp before they can drain the larger cesspool.

If that happens in November, this GOP Congress — elitist and globalist to its core — will get what it so richly deserves.

Federal court throws out parts of collective bargaining law

Posted by richardmoore on March 30, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Ruled a violation of First Amenddent rights because the state denies sweeping union privileges to most union workers but let police and fire unions keep them. In other words, discrimination. I haven't read the decison, so I'm getting this up from early news reports. Will report back with more detail. Stay tuned.

Busy political morning

Posted by richardmoore on March 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

First, as expected, GAB officially confirms recalls against Walker, Kleefisch, and the four GOP senators (now three, but a fourth election will be held anyway). Mark May 8 and especially June 5 on your calendars as must days to vote.

Second, Paul Ryan has endorsed Romney. Yikes! I guess that's the fat lady singing.

NBC/Marist poll shows governor's recall split, with 46 percent supporting Walker and 48 percent saying they'll vote for the Democrat. Walker's approval rating stands at 48 percent, with 48 percent disapproving. Can't get more divided than that.

Tiffany to run for Senate

Posted by richardmoore on March 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM

State Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) will announce his candidacy for the state Senate tomorrow, sources say. Tiffany will unveil his campaign at scheduled press conferences tomorrow morning in Rhinelander and Merrill.

Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) recently announced he would not seek re-election to the Northwoods seat, the 12th district.

Now they're protesting against themselves

Posted by richardmoore on March 28, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Journal Sentinel: Union members protest at Barrett fundraiser

More bad economic news this morning

Posted by richardmoore on March 27, 2012 at 12:05 PM

But mainstream press says, "What? Me worry?"



A new S&P/Case-Shiller report this morning shows that home prices dropped for the fifth consecutive month in January, sinking to their lowest point since 2002. The average home sold in January lost .8 percent of its value, compared with a month earlier, and prices were down 3.8 percent from a year ago. Home prices have fallen 34.4 percent from their July 2006 peak.


And that's not all the bad news. There are still millions of delinquent homes on the market, CNN reports, and the recent government settlement with banks will actually enable them to speed up the processing of those delinquencies, so expect a tidal wave of foreclosures in the months ahead.


Of course, while they report this as just the latest car to ramble off the rails in the nation's economic train wreck, the mainstream press is cheery nonetheless, always adding this addendum – despite this latest bad news, the economy is improving.


Of course it is. It has to be. People have to believe that. Because that's the way they re-elect Obama.

What would Jesus do?

Posted by richardmoore on March 26, 2012 at 10:05 AM

It’s a question the Democrats should probably be asking themselves when it comes to the 12th Senate District, after Jim Holperin dropped his retirement bombshell last week. That they will have big problems keeping this seat is an understatement.

For one thing, no big Democratic names come immediately to mind, but one Republican does: Rep. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst. Tiffany has already run that race twice, both times respectably, so he has the infrastructure and the name. Even if he doesn’t get in, there are well known names out there (Joe Handrick is just one, and he issued a statement Friday saying he is keeping his options open).

Whomever the Democrats pick, he or she had better be pro-gun rights. That’s been the Democrats’ bread and butter for years in this district. Former Sen. Roger Breske and Holperin used the old Dave Obey model – just be good on guns and you can pretty much be liberal on everything else. That’s why, in the old days, you could drive around Rhinelander and see a house with three yard signs – one for George W. Bush (when he was running for re-election), one for Republican Rep. Dan Meyer, and the third for Breske.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, that model is getting old and increasingly unworkable. The district has grown more conservative through the year, so it became harder and harder to get away with liberalism just by being pro-gun rights. That’s why Tiffany almost beat Holperin in the Obama/Democratic landslide year, despite Holperin’s NRA endorsement. Plus this year the new district lines tilt the district in an even more conservative fashion.

So what should the Democrats do?

Pray, likely.

Breaking news: Sen. Pam Galloway resigns from Senate

Posted by richardmoore on March 17, 2012 at 1:05 AM

Citing sudden medical problems in her family, state Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) stunned the state's political community today, announcing her resignation from the Senate. She had been facing a summer recall election.


For the short term, her departure leaves the Senate with 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. That will change shortly depending on the outcome of this summer's recall races.


As for the recall in Galloway's district, that can't be undone, according to the Government Accountability Board. As of today, primary elections are scheduled for May 8, with general elections to be held June 5. Under that schedule, candidates in the recall election will have from March 30 until 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 to circulate and file nomination petitions and declaration of candidacy papers with the G.A.B.


State Senate candidates need a minimum of 400 signatures. A primary election will be held only for any political party and offices for which more than one candidate qualifies for the ballot.


Democratic Rep. Donna Seidel of Wausau is seeking the seat. Republican Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald says he will seek a Republican to replace Galloway on the ballot. Names mentioned include Reps. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Mary Williams of Medford.

From her statement: “Today I am announcing my retirement from the Wisconsin State Senate. After a great deal of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to put the needs of my family first. My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention. Unfortunately this situation is not compatible with fulfilling my obligations as State Senator or running for re-election at this time."

Wolf hunt bill passes Assembly

Posted by richardmoore on March 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM

A measure authorizing an annual wolf hunt has passed the Assembly. It had already passed the Senate and so goes now to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Here's partial analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau. The actual legislation can be found here.

"This bill requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to issue wolf harvesting licenses if the wolf is removed from the U.S. and Wisconsin lists of endangered and threatened species. Under the bill, both state residents and nonresidents may be issued a license. The license authorizes both the hunting and trapping of wolves. The bill requires that there be a single annual season for wolf hunting and trapping from October 15 through the end of February. Under the bill, DNR may limit the number of licenses issued and the number of wolves to be harvested. The bill requires DNR to divide the state into up to four wolf harvesting zones. A wolf harvesting license authorizes the license holder to hunt or trap or both only in the zone that is specified on the license."