By M.D. Kittle MacIver News Service | July 7, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] Speaker Paul Ryan says he doesn't have presidential ambitions.
The Janesville Republican has long been comfortable in his role as "policy guy," a policy wonk with a sincere appreciation for the notion that while numbers can be spun, they don't lie.
"I'm fine right here," Ryan told MacIver News Service Friday morning during a discussion in Madison.
"Here," of course, is his job as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position that comes with incredible power and unending pressure.
These days, Ryan spends a fair amount of time reminding his conservative colleagues on Capitol Hill of the covenant they made with the people who voted for them in November- the people who gave Republicans rare control of both houses of Congress and the White House.
Those voters did so premised on promises - that Republicans would at least begin to rein in a federal government that became more centralized and grabbed more and more power from states and citizens during the Obama Era. That means getting rid of Obamacare, reforming bloated entitlement programs, delivering on tax cuts, and removing the yoke of regulation from the shoulders of business, workers, and consumers. The results to date have been mixed.
While the House narrowly passed a sweeping health care bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature and imploding health care law, it has been a bruising, bitter battle that remains far from resolved in a Senate with little margin for defection. Republicans have had much more success on regulation reform.
While the nation's attention last month was on former FBI Director James Comey and political theories of Russian collusion, the GOP-led House passed a bill killing the Dodd-Frank regulations implemented during the Obama administration. Free market advocates say Dodd-Frank has strangled economic growth as it has preserved the much-despised notion of "too-big-to-fail" and the big taxpayer-funded bailouts of financial institutions that have followed. READ it HERE
July 4, 2017 WATCH it HERE
By Wisconsin State Assembly Representative Robin Voss
If you grew up in the 1970's like me, then you remember the Schoolhouse Rock series that played during Saturday morning cartoons. The iconic series is still used today to teach the basics of math, history and grammar in the classroom. As a salute to our nation this Fourth of July, Assembly Republicans present to you the Preamble of the Constitution in Capitol House Rock.
By M.D. Kittle MacIver News Service | June 27, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - As lobbyists and lawmakers consider tightening up what some distributors have described as the "Wild West" of Wisconsin's three-tier codes and laws, meet William Glass - the face of Wisconsin's archaic and restrictive alcoholic beverage regulatory system.
Glass, a Marine Corps veteran turned entrepreneur, nearly lost it all in a trying battle with state regulators.
In his pursuit of his version of the American dream, owning an Eau Claire-based craft brewery, Glass said he and his wife contemplated dissolving their marriage in order to save his business.
It wouldn't have mattered.
Nothing short of severing custody of his kids would have appeased state regulators in their reading of what many see as a draconian Prohibition Era law that has latched a lock on the free market and small business in the name of stopping monopolies.
"It's pretty disgusting but, unfortunately, that's the situation we found ourselves in," Glass said.
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue, charged with enforcing the law that established the three-tier system of distributing alcohol, says the law is the law.
"State statute is clear on the separation of production, distribution, and retail sale of alcoholic beverages," Nicole Anspach, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, told MacIver News Service in an email Monday. In short, the law prohibits brewery owners and other manufacturers of alcoholic beverages from having "any direct or indirect interest" in licensed establishments selling booze. At least Chapter 25 of the statute "contains numerous provisions which prohibit relationships between the tiers."
But Glass says the department took "indirect interest" to an extreme level. READ it HERE
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