By Mikel Kwaku Osha Holt, Special Guest Perspective, June 26, 2017 MacIver Institute
The following column first appeared in the Milwaukee Community Journal
There are several possible reasons to explain why State Senator Chris Larson attempted to derail bipartisan legislation that would bring greater accountability to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP).
But neither bodes well for the Democratic Party or poor Black folks already confused by the self-righteous position of so-called "progressive liberals." Wanna-Be-King Chris Larson's unsuccessful attempt to stop Senate Bill 293 was both nonsensical and politically irresponsible. (In other words, it was dumb; unless you know Larson for what he really is.)
The measure, which ultimately passed 28-5 was not only a true bipartisan effort (a rarity in this era of political polarization), but it was also drafted by the Department of Public Instruction which, last I heard, was run by a school choice opponent whose campaign was endorsed and financed by the same obstructionist special interests that puts its muscle behind Larson.
READ it HERE
Otto Warmbier's murder shows why the U.S. shouldn't tolerate a citizen being harmed anywhere in the world
By Lamont Colucci | Opinion Contributor US News & World Report June 26, 2017
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College
"Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!" was a famous quotation by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. At the time, the world watched as Roosevelt dispatched seven American warships to threaten devastation if an American citizen was not returned to safety. American foreign policy was leveled at the Moroccan state that was unable to protect that citizen, and the terrorist, Mulai Ahmed er Rasuli, who took him.
Historians have dissected the events surrounding the kidnapping of Ion Perdicaris. In typical American fashion, doves and hawks highlight details of the event to bolster their modern cause. Doves emphasize that Perdicaris was not a legal American citizen, that Rasuli ultimately released him after France arranged a ransom to be paid and that Roosevelt would have been unlikely to follow up his bluster with landing a Marine expeditionary force. Hawks counter this by arguing that the world perceived Perdicaris as an American, that the threat of force bought time and American honor was preserved through diplomatic action.
The tragic murder of another American citizen, Otto Warmbier, by North Korea should cause us to reflect on the actions of 1904. For far too long those in diplomatic circles and the media focus attention on the details of a particular case rather than the overall issue. The focus is on the actions of the American abroad: Did Otto Warmbier tear down a propaganda poster in North Korea? Did Michael Fay vandalize cars in Singapore? Did Fattal, Bauer and Shourd intentionally cross into Iran while backpacking? Worse, did an American naval vessel intentionally cross into Iranian waters?
All of these questions are valid and important for American authorities in dealing with American citizens on American soil. However, they are invalid questions from a diplomatic perspective. The only issue that is of concern is whether or not the person brutalized, captured, incarcerated or obstructed is perceived as an American citizen, legal resident or ally.
By Judge Jim Troupis, Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute, June 22, 2017
"A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government's benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society."
(Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan in Slants decision, issued June 19, 2017. (Matal v. Tam).)
With that sweeping proclamation, the U.S. Supreme Court may have signaled a real, and welcome, return to the principles of free speech.
As with so much that transpires in the legal doctrine of free speech, it's not surprising that "slants", a derogatory term if there ever was one, will now enter the lexicon. In a decision with implications across a broad swath of 21st Century American life, the Court laid down a clear marker--"this far and no farther."
The Slants decision had its origins in long-held legal doctrine. Trademarks were a common form of property as far back as the Hudson Bay Company's search for beaver pelts. At what is known as "common law", one could acquire the rights to a name that identified products. The creation of the U.S. Patent and Trademark system came later, but the principle that identifiable marks were property of those relying upon them for commercial success predates the Constitution itself. And it was a trademark of "Slants" (the band name) that formed the predicate for this case.
An Asian-American rock band took on the name Slants to, in the Court's words, "reclaim" the term and in the process "drain its denigrating force." So, while the name was concededly offensive and disparaging, the band sought to protect it by registration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Not surprisingly, the USPTO declined their request. The law prohibits registration of trademarks that "disparage...or bring...into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead." (15 U.S.C. Sec.1052(a)). An appeal followed, and it landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. READ it HERE
By M.D. Kittle, MacIver News Service | June 20, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - The U.S. Supreme Court has the opportunity to "stomp on" a badly flawed lower court decision declaring unconstitutional Wisconsin's legislative district map, according to a national expert on the Constitution.
What's ultimately at stake, according to the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky, is whether federal courts should have control over a political process that is rightly the domain of the states.
On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, the first such "partisan gerrymandering" case in more than a decade. A few hours later the court voted 5-4 to delay a federal district court's order that Wisconsin's legislative districts be redrawn by November, in advance of the 2018 elections.
"I hope this means the Supreme Court is going to reverse what the federal court in Wisconsin did, because what they did was, frankly, just wrong," von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Elections Commission, told MacIver News Service Tuesday morning on the Dan O'Donnell Show on Newstalk 1130 WISN.
Democrats lost control of the Legislature and the governor's office in 2010, thereby losing the ability to be involved in the creation of congressional and legislative maps. The process follows the release of the decennial census, and in Wisconsin the party in power is charged with redrawing the legislative district boundaries.
Dems have challenged the GOP-drawn maps since their initial release nearly six years ago.
In November, a three-judge federal court panel struck down the GOP map, agreeing with the plaintiffs that the boundaries were unfair to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. The judges said the redistricting effort was "designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats."
MacIver News Service | June 16, 2017
By M.D. Kittle
[Madison, Wis...] - The latest version of Wisconsin's "Cookie Bill," legalizing the sale of home-baked goods, passed - again - in the Senate this week.
But thanks to a southwest Wisconsin judge, a free-market law firm and some very persistent "cookie ladies," small bakers of brownies, muffins and cookies no longer have to fear going to jail or paying big fines for selling their goods.
On Friday, Lafayette County Judge Duane Jorgenson signed an order finalizing his decision last month that declared unconstitutional the state's ban on the sale of homemade baked items.
The judge did so after the state Department of Agriculture Trade & Consumer Protection told a home baker she would not be protected under the court ruling, according to Erica Smith, attorney for the Institute for Justice, which represented three Wisconsin women in the case against the state.
Smith said the department told the woman that the ruling only applied to the three plaintiffs.
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"We did a brief with the court, and the court just today signed an order putting an end to it," the attorney said.
"Wisconsin is a lot freer today than it was last month," she added.
Jorgenson ruled that anyone in the state can bake and sell without an artificial cap on sales, as long as the goods are not considered potentially hazardous. Cookies, cakes, breads, muffins fit the nonhazardous column.
Wisconsin residents Lisa Kivirist told the Washington Times in 2016 that she and her family serve muffins and other baked goods to the guests of their Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed and Breakfast near Monroe, but they face fines and jail time if they sell them, under the state ban. READ it HERE
by Dan Riehl, Breitbart News Jun 20, 2017 Washington, DC
Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs at the Center for Security Policy and former CIA analyst, Fred Fleitz, joined Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Tuesday to discuss the death of Otto Warmbier just days after returning from North Korea and the possibility of Loretta Lynch testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Fleitz said he’s still hopeful that there could be an investigation into Loretta Lynch, “I really hope so,” he said, “because that was the criminal activity of the 2016 campaign. Why was the law not enforced concerning the Clinton email server, the mishandling of classified information, the Clinton Foundation, and what I think are numerous instances of foreign governments trying to buy influence with a prospective president?”
“There are clear instances of pay-for-play with the Clinton Foundation,” he continued. “The email server broke so many laws. If I had done a small fraction of the things connected with that incident I’d have lost my job, I’d have enormous legal bills and frankly, I think I’d be serving prison time.”
Fleitz added that he hopes Lynch and other Obama officials are questioned by the Senate. Said Fleitz of the Democrats, “If they’re going to pursue this route, this relentless series of pointless and false investigations of President Trump, let’s investigate Hillary Clinton and all the criminal activity that she is clearly responsible for.”
By M.D. Kittle, MacIver News Service | June 16, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - And Wisconsin shall lead them - again.
Tax reform guru Grover Norquist predicts 10 states will pass REINS Act legislation in the coming year, and he asserts Wisconsin can take a bow for that. year, and he asserts Wisconsin can take a bow for that.
"Congratulations for living in Wisconsin, which has consistently been a leader in this fight to increase liberty and make the government play by its own rules," Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told MacIver News Service last week on the Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN.
Last week, the Assembly, on a party-line vote, passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, commonly known as the REINS Act. Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign the measure.
The REINS Act is similar to legislation moving through Congress, but with lower thresholds. It provides greater legislative oversight of the regulations adopted by state agencies. Any rule or regulation with an economic impact of more than $10 million would require legislative approval.
2 min read
By Peter Brookes Jun 15th, 2017
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Peter helps develop and communicate The Heritage Foundation's stance on foreign and defense policy through his research and writing.
You’re not hearing much about it in the news with so many other big stories out there today, but the battle for retaking Raqqa — the capital of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria — is reportedly well underway.
This fight has been some three years coming, since ISIS took the city in 2014 from the Syrian army. The assault comes none too soon for us and others, considering past and recent ISIS-related terrorist attacks at home and abroad.
Britain has had a horrendous period with ISIS-tied attacks in Manchester and London. Who can forget the ISIS-related violence against innocents in Paris or Orlando, among others over the last few years?
While reported progress in taking back the Syrian city seems to be going much better than one would expect considering the strategic importance of Raqqa to ISIS (it is, after all, its last remaining major territorial stronghold), its fighters could very well dig in.
Raqqa’s loss would also be a major blow to the terror group’s internal psyche and its external image.
The battle for Mosul in Iraq, the city where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the Islamic State caliphate in 2014, has been going on now since early last fall, stretching now into its eighth month.
The battle for Raqqa could easily take some time, too, in light of the years that ISIS has had to prepare the city for bloody, door-to-door urban warfare just like we’ve seen in Mosul since that fight began last October.
By M.D. Kittle MacIver News Service | June 12, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - Wisconsin this week could become the first state in the nation to pass a REINS Act, legislation demanding greater oversight of state bureaucratic rule-makers.
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, commonly known as the REINS Act, is slated for floor debate Wednesday in the Assembly, where the bill enjoys wide support from majority Republicans.
Early last month the Senate passed the bill - co-authored by Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee).
Last session the Assembly passed a similar REINS Act bill on a party-line vote, but it died in the Senate as time wound down on the session.
Neylon says the GOP majority in the Assembly hasn't changed its stance.
"I think we are in a very good position. There is no wavering support. I believe it will (pass) on a party-line vote," he said.
Gov. Scott Walker included the reform measure in his biennial budget plan, but REINS was one of 83 "non-fiscal" policy items stripped from the Joint Finance Committee's starting budget document.
"State agencies currently have the power to pass harmful regulations with little oversight from the legislature that can cost Wisconsin businesses and citizens tens of millions of dollars in compliance and lost revenue," LeMahieu said in a statement following passage. "The REINS Act improves transparency in the rule making process and gives the legislature more power to hold unelected bureaucrats accountable."
The REINS bill is similar to legislation moving through Congress, but with lower thresholds. It provides greater legislative oversight of the regulations adopted by state agencies. Any rule or regulation with an economic impact of more than $10 million would require legislative approval.
And it gives the Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules more muscle. The committee would be empowered to request a public hearing earlier in the rule-making process and call for an independent review of the proposed regulation's economic impact.
Democrats insist the REINS Act would undermine regulations designed to protect the public. The left-leaning Sierra Club described the federal REINS Act legislation as "clearly an imprudent if not perhaps Machiavellian attempt to chip away at the regulatory process."
Some environmentalists last session claimed the REINS Act would slow down the rules-making process. That "misleading" message ended up slowing down the legislative process, ultimately killing the bill, Neylon said. READ it HERE
By M.D. Kittle MacIver News Service | June 15, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] Gov. Scott Walker's plan to move the state's approximately 250,000 employees and their family members to a self-insurance system is expected to be officially pronounced dead today by the Joint Finance Committee.
"We are going to say no to self-insurance," state Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, told MacIver News Service Wednesday.
But Felzkowski, a member of the budget committee, said the Republican-controlled JFC has a "suite of ideas" to draw savings from the current state health insurance system - perhaps more than $50 million worth after 2018.
That's important. The Walker administration projects the self-insurance proposal could save taxpayers $65 from the basic switch, and an additional $43 million in secondary costs. Opting not to change to a self-insurance model could cost employees significant increases in premiums, and self-insurance would keep the so-called Obamacare tax at bay, saving the state about $22 million.
Joint Finance Committee co-chairman, state Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) has said those savings are disingenuous because the Obamacare tax has yet to be collected and "there's no evidence to show it will be collected in the future."
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has estimated savings from a self-insurance makeover at about $47 million. One consultant's report said the switch could end up costing the state money.
Walker's 2017-19 budget plan uses the projected savings to help increase funding for public education.
Under the self-insurance model, the state would be responsible for paying benefits and taking on the risk for losses, currently the responsibility of 18 private HMOs. READ it HERE