The squawking horn of the Madison fire truck signaled another Independence Day parade on a glorious summer day through the tree-shaded streets of Orchard Ridge -- an annual event of long standing.
Little children wobble on their red, white and blue-decorated bicycles, guided by their proud parents and applauded by their adult neighbors. It's about the only time folks hereabouts sit in the front lawn (backyards offer more privacy), which is one of the purposes of the event, sponsored by the neighborhood association: a little societal glue.
George Bauer reigned as grand marshal, the nonagenarian master gardener who has lived in the neighborhood for 60 years, which is about as long as there has been an Orchard Ridge. In the park behind us children are squealing as they compete in the traditional sack race and other games. The old folks are lined up for brats, burgers, beans and small talk.
Life is good in these United States on this July Fourth, the greatest secular holiday we have. Few nations have an equivalent. Even Bastille Day in France ushered in a shameful and bloody terror.
The heckler's veto
No country has better balanced the will of the majority with the rights of the minority. The Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, is an injunction against the powers of the state and a safety shield for the individual. ("Congress shall make no law ...")
That does not stop certain actors, fully protected by that constitution, from trying to delegitimize the electoral process. It is a favorite tactic of sore losers. The last five months in Madison have recorded these tactics:
- Denigrate the intelligence of the majority -- "poor, deluded bastards," as Keith Olbermann called the tea partiers -- duped by two outposts of the vast news media -- "Faux News" and "talk radio."
- Conjure hobgoblins: the game was rigged by the evil machinations of the nefarious Koch Brothers.
- Devise conspiracy theories: the knot on a bag of ballots in Waukesha County was loose; the county clerk is a Republican.
- Impugn motives. Your political opponents are corrupt, cynical tools -- "minions," not free agents.
- Disagree with election results? Besiege the Capitol, harass democratically elected representatives, threaten reprisals against those who supported them, and blow your vuvuzela to drown out the competition.
To many of our liberal acquaintances "this is what democracy looks like."
On the other side of the partisan divide lives the pointless theory that the President is a closet Kenyan (actually, he's a Keynesian). The Pelosi-bashing gets old even at the Stately Manor.
What kind of country?
Still, it is a great and worthy debate we are having in Wisconsin this year, one that Rep. Paul Ryan defined during the debate on Obamacare last year. What kind of country shall we be?
Our liberal/progressive acquaintances believe that all rights and benefits flow from government. (Remember when Ruth Conniff mocked Scott Walker's observation - with Jefferson - that our rights are god-given?)
Our worthy adversaries believe that individuals are selfish and foolish -- only government can be trusted to make wise decisions. We believe the history of oppression was written by big government -- whether fascist, communist, or authoritarian -- in the blood of its victims.
Some day, and a glorious day that will be, (SNARK alert!) Marxism will be perfected; everyone will work for government. We'll all strike for higher wages!
One of the most skilled advocates of this minority, essentially European view is John Nichols of The Capital Times. Because he greets me as "Comrade" I return the favor.
John Nichols once again pillages the Founders in order to rewrite the Constitution on this Independence Day weekend. Not even America's tripartite system of checks and balances is enough, John laments in Sunday's WI State Journal, to prevent the "elective despotism" of Scott Walker and the Republican legislature. No, only sharing power with Democrats can save the Republic, John says.
Now that the associate editor of The Capital Times has endorsed shared governance between the two political parties, can we expect a paean to the Republican-Democrat stand-off in Washington over the debt ceiling? Will we hear an oratorio to the political logjam in neighboring Minnesota?
Gov. Walker, having solved a structural deficit of 15 years standing without raising taxes, is tweaking our Minnesota neighbors to go camping here this weekend. Our parks are open. California and Illinois are broke and New York's Democrat(ic) governor, Andrew Cuomo, is sending layoff notices to his unionized workers.
Just bad luck, one supposes, that this sudden epiphany did not occur when Jim E. Doyle's "minions" -- a Nichols trademark term -- controlled all of state government, including the Louis Butler Supreme Court.
Reasonable men can differ as to whether "Walker and his allies" have attacked "union rights," given that those "rights" eluded detection until 111 years after statehood. It was just two years ago that the Democratic regime granted state college professors "the right" to organize. (Against whom, one wonders?)
Once again Nichols insists that the majority party, elected by the people of Wisconsin just eight months ago, has transgressed "the rule of law."
I asked John Nichols for examples, knowing that he would exempt the fake doctors' excuses and teachers walking out on their students and their contracts. He responded:
... The failure to respect Wisconsin's open meetings and public notice standards was a violation of the law -- and the worst sort, as it involved elected officials seeking to write their own rules in order to deny the people a role in the process.
I also share the view of The Capital Times that Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch's repeated and continual failures to open the state Capitol after being ordered to do so was a classic assault on the rule of law. And Mr. Huebsch is, of course, a classic "minion" ...
... James Madison made a good point when he observed that: "The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." That, explained Madison, is why constitutions, statutes and frequent elections -- at which those who disregard the rule of law can be held to account -- remain so vital to the republic.
We thank James Madison for that cogent argument against big government. As to the other particulars, I don't know that Mike Huebsch was ever found in contempt of court, that the Capitol was ever closed to the public during regular hours, or that the court dictated our statehouse be an overnight campsite for Cheech and Chong.
Judge Sumi's ruling against Sen. Fitzgerald ignored copious case law, the supreme court ruled in reversing the decision. Nichols might wish to do what Judge Sumi did not, that is, to consult the annotated Wisconsin Constitution, particularly the supreme court's 2009 ruling on Article IV (8) of the State Constitution, which specifically prohibits court interference in the legislative process. Read, also, the 1983 precedence interpreting Article VI (3), which instructs, "The court will invalidate legislation only for constitutional violations."
The Assembly and the Senate took roll call votes in fully noticed and open session. (John, all legislative bodies write their own rules. Who else?)
On the other hand, Mark Pocan and Mark Miller's raid of the Patients Compensation Fund during the unlamented Jim Doyle administration WAS ruled illegal.
I guess we'll have to leave it at this: the law is whatever serves the partisan interests of The Capital Times and its cynical minions.