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Who will stand up to California’s public employee unions as Scott Walker stood up to their Wisconsin counterparts?

Those who would like to see the (once-)Golden State glitter once more should hope that we have a Scott Walker waiting in the wings.  We need someone to bring real change to the state which once defined innovation and opportunity. Since that Republican’s much-maligned reforms passed the Wisconsin Legislature, the Badger State has been able to close its budget gap, see new jobs created watch school districts across the state renegotiate teacher contracts, saving taxpayers’ hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All this achieved because Walker stood up to the public employee unions who had, before the current legislative session, wielded considerable power in the state capital, preventing real cost-saving reform.  They tried to wield that muscle in the recent recall elections, pumping millions into Democratic coffers and even walking precincts on behalf of Democratic candidates.  All to little avail.

The unions, however, have been far more successful in California than they were this year in Wisconsin.  Here, every Democrat has a built-in advantage over his Republican and not just because of the state’s demographics.  Our public employee unions funded directly by the taxpayer, with employees’ dues siphoned off from their paychecks, provide the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) infrastructure for Democratic nominees as they support their favored political party with television ads and campaign contributions.

In return, the unions exercise considerable influence over elected Democrats, preventing them from enacting real reforms.  As Joel Kotkin put it in his (must-read) piece on the decline of Los Angeles:

It’s a familiar story: because Democrats are almost assured of victory in L.A.’s general elections, candidates must win only the low-turnout, union-dominated party primaries. John Pérez, a longtime union political operative and now speaker of the California State Assembly, won the Democratic nomination in 2008 with fewer than 5,000 votes and then easily crushed the GOP candidate. Pérez’s predecessor as speaker was Fabian Núñez-another L.A. labor official. No wonder the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters calls the labor movement “the closest thing to an omnipotent political machine anywhere in the state.” (more…)

Barack Obama is no George Washington

I’ve been listening to Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington in the car.  A number of things struck me about this great man who faced much adversity in the early days of the French & Indian War.  Chernow points out how although the young officer in the British army made some, well, bone-headed military decisions, like establishing Fort Necessity, a frontier outpost near French lines “poorly situated to withstand and incursion,” he, by and large, learned from those mistakes.

The current occupant of the office he would be the first to hold seems to lack that ability.  As the fetching Stephen Green observes:

Obama can’t recognize mistakes — even though the evidence is as plain as last month’s hideous jobs report. He will continue to demand that reality conform to his theories, no matter what damage he does to this country. He doesn’t doge, he doesn’t weave — he keeps pursuing failure in the face of failure.

(Via Instapundit.)  Even after the failure of his “stimulus”, with the depletion of our coffers and the diminution of our nation’s once good credit, the Democrat still calls out for more spending* and fails to recognize that the regulations his administration has increased have reduced those he identified as those “produce most of the new jobs in this country” to hire new employees.

The president’s policies haven’t worked.  A real leader would understand that his goal was not to demonstrate the rightness of his approach, but to shift course and find an approach that did.

George Washington did that.  And because of that capacity, he won an unwinnable war and fathered a nation that offered opportunity for tens of millions, inspired others yearning to be free in distant corners of the globe and provided a level of prosperity that few had even imagined.

Our nation achieved all this in large part because George Washington learned form his mistakes.  Would it that Barack Obama could follow his predecessor’s example.

* (more…)

Is a “negative” solution to job creation necessarily a bad one?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:00 pm - August 10, 2011.
Filed under: Economy,Entrepreneurs,Real Reform

Sunday night at a mixer, I engaged in a somewhat disturbing conversation with a gay former Republican.  As we talked about the debt crisis and he heard my recommendations for drastic cuts, he feared what those cuts would mean for the economy and job creation.  I explained that reduction in regulations and federal fees would stimulate growth.

I pointed to the shuttered storefronts in and around West Hollywood, saying that regulation and taxation (at the federal, state and municipal level) had made it more difficult for those entrepreneurs to stay in business during the economic downturn, even suggesting that those very regulations has caused the downturn.

In order to stimulate growth, I said, we needed to cut back on regulations, making it easier for new entrepreneurs to set up shop and for existing ones to expand.  He countered that small businesses wouldn’t make a dent in the overall employment numbers.  I reminded him what the president said, that “Small businesses produce most of the new jobs in this country.

He groused that my plan was “negative” as I thought the government should do less.  What I found troubling was how this man had evolved from a Republican to a statist, believing that in times of economic distress, the government must do something to fix the crisis.  And that he dismissed anything short of increased state intervention as “negative” response to the problem.

But, as Timothy P. Carney pointed out earlier this week, the best thing government do to create jobs is to get out of the way and remove the burdens to bringing on new employees.  “According to the Small Business Administration,” Iain Murray writes

. . . federal rules and regulations — from the Fair Labor Standards Act to the Polygraph Protection Act — cost small businesses $10,000 annually per employee in compliance costs. (more…)

Senate Dems pick Washington veterans for SuperDuper Congressional Debt Committee; Republicans pick newcomers

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:41 pm - August 10, 2011.
Filed under: Congress (112th),Debt Crisis

Just noted that Patty Murray, the most junior of the three Senate Democrats Harry Reid picked for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, was first elected to the Senate in 1992.  The most senior Republican, Jon Kyl, was first elected in 1994.

Democrats Max Baucus and John Kerry were first elected in 1978 and 1984 respectively.  Republicans Pat Toomey and Rob Portman both elected last year.

Toomey and Portman are solid, sensible conservatives from swing states.

Seems Harry Reid prefers Washington veterans while Republican leader Mitch McConnell turned to newcomers.  Smart move, Mitch. Seems the Kentuckian has been reading the tea leaves.

The Republican picks will be more attuned to what Americans are thinking while the Democrats will be champions of the political class.

UPDATE:  Just realized Pat Toomey once helmed the Club for Growth.  Makes me like the pick even more.

One of the greatest screen performances of all time

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 11:22 am - August 10, 2011.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV,Strong Women

Every now and again, you watch an old movie (or less frequently) a new one where you see a performance which just, well, knocks your socks off.  And you marvel at the ability of an actor to play such a range of human emotion such that you believe he — or she — has lived the feelings he (or she) portrays.  She’s not playacting the role; she’s inhabiting the character.

Last night, I saw just such a film.  Now, to be sure, The Trip to Bountiful, starts mighty slowly, but when Geraldine Page‘s Carrie Watts begins to realize she will get to complete the movie’s eponymous journey, you feel like you’re taking your own (beloved) grandmother to her childhood home.  You want to be with her every step along the way.

Here’s a clip from that sequence:

You can see the continuation that episode here.

It is almost as if this role were written as an acting lesson to showcase the full range of feminine emotion, including remorse over a lost love, sadness, determination, anger, frustration, nostalgia, mischief even, gratitude, delight and affection (and then some).  Not only does Page stay in character as she expresses each emotion, but you believe she has lived the stories she tells and feeling the words she speaks.  No wonder she won an Oscar for this performance.

No wonder she was considered “one of the greatest American actresses of all time“.

Interesting to note that this great actress was born on a day I already celebrate, November 22, the anniversary of the birth of the greatest female novelist of all time, George Eliot, and my great (literally and figuratively) Aunt Ruth.  Seems to be a day for great women to be born.

Page made her film debut opposite John Wayne in Hondo, was married for twenty-four years to Rip Torn. Ronald and Nancy Reagan sent flowers from the White House to her memorial service.

Not so total recall in Wisconsin

Well, the Democrats may have picked up two state Senate senates in the Wisconsin recall vote yesterday, but, they, as Allahpundit reports, “outspent Republicans two to one”, thus they “lost two to one on tonight’s seats — with two of their own still to defend next week.

Do wonder how much of that money will no longer be forthcoming as it came directly from the Badger State’s coffers, skimmed off from the salaries of public employees and sen straight to their unions, active supporters of the state Democratic Party.  They may just not have the money to spend they once did.  Thanks to Governor Walker’s reforms, the state won’t be sending that money directly to those allies of his partisan rivals; they’ll have to collect it on their own.

Allahpundit offers what he calls a “nice data point from Nate Silver which he claims “can be read as more of a rebuke to the left as [well as] to the right”:

In total, GOP leads 52-48 among all votes counted so far tonight in Wisconsin. Walker won those districts 56-43, Obama won them 53-46.

Not a great night for the Republicans nor for the Democrats.  But, Republicans still control the Senate in Wisconsin and the labor unions spent a tens of millions to pick up two Senates, one just barely.

Quoting a “Twitter friend” who quipped “Democrats in #Wisconsin spent about $263 per vote to not get a majority in the state senate”, Michelle Malkin suggests that “rank-and-file union members” consider recalling their “own profligate Big Labor bosses.

The public employee unions are the real losers in Wisconsin.  Let’s hope they suffer similar fates in other states, including (and especially) the (once-)Golden one.

UPDATE:   Not sure I’ll have time to get back to this today.  I had penned this post just before heading to bed last night and as I take a break and scan the blogs, seems it’s a much bigger defeat for the unions than I had originally thought.  Jennifer Rubin has a good post with some helpful links, including an observation that the GOP was caught “flat-footed,” thus was clearly out-organized by the unions. (more…)