Can the Democrats who broke camp this weekend from their state convention in Middleton be all that excited about what lies ahead for them in November?
Take Tom Barrett. (As Henny Youngman would say, "please.") A decent fellow, by all appearances. Famously came to a young mother's aid last summer outside State Fair Park and suffered the consequences. But hardly electrifying, hardly transformative. Does he make hearts quicken? Is he the straw that stirs the Ovaltine?
I know, it's the Republican party line but Tom Barrett truly does strikes me as more of the same old Jim Doyle, minus the charisma. ("Wisconsin can't Barrett!" Ha! Even suckered Comrade John to give it some free press.)
Does the man have a compelling message? Barrett pledges to "put Madison on a diet." How does that put a charge into Marty Beil's AFSCME minions? John Matthews' MTI thugs? How does that energize the Barbara Lawton faction of the party? (She only dropped out of the race because she took an offer she couldn't refuse from the Obama White House.)
If you want to cut government spending why vote for a Democrat? Isn't that like drinking non-alcoholic whiskey? What is the point?
Oh, I get it. The point is to SOUND like a fiscal conservative without actually, you know, cutting government.
Then there are specifics. Turning off computers at night? State employees already do that. Throwing Doug LaFollette onto the street? Worthwhile even if it results in a net cost increase, but that won't get you to $1.1 billion that you promised in spending cuts.
I have to think the Dems' have a split personality; that their minds may say Barrett is the smart move but their hearts lie with Dave Obey, who can read the tea party leaves and is getting out of Washington before he's thrown out. Dave Obey, the king of porculus. The porkmeister, already proposing still more stimulus spending in an economy in which the aggregate national debt threatens to exceed the gross domestic product.
Family planning as an economic stimulus? Are you Democrat-ing me?
Mending lives but leaking oil
The always readable Daniel Henninger reminds us that The One's hubristic notions of Big Government were in full sail in his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democrat(ic) National Convention. The speech was "an amazing compendium of promises" -- a true Dave Obey to-do list -- ending with:
"America, we cannot turn back (applause) not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend."
Sheesh. I'm tired just reading it. Henninger concludes, "The speaker of those words can't stop the oil (spill), but his language shows how indiscriminate faith in government omnipotence has become ..." [Wall Street Journal: 6-10-10]
Please mend my life, President Obama. Actually, why don't you start with St. Matthew of Logan. I think he fell off his tricycle again. Now he's claiming to have the stigmata and that he cured a mosquito bite.
Screw Africa, do this in Wisconsin!
Stanford economics professor Paul Romer has a brash idea to break the poverty cycle in many African and other nations. Open up wide swaths of territory to colonialism. Emulate what the United Kingdom did for Hong Kong. Establish "charter cities."
The Atlantic, the best magazine in America, profiles Romer's thinking in its July/August edition, "The politically incorrect guide to ending poverty."
Romer's ideas have their genesis in the middle 1100s, when the Germanic prince Henry the Lion created a "merchants's mecca" on the lawless Baltic coast.
Henry seized a fledgling town called Lubeck, killed its pirate ruler, had the town made the seat of a diocese, and then set about attracting the merchants.
Henry wrote a charter for the city, "calculating that a city with light regulation and fair laws would attract investment easily. The stultifying feudal hierarchy was cast aside, an autonomous council of local burgesses would govern Lubeck. Onerous taxes and trade restrictions were ruled out; merchants who settled in Lubeck would be exempt from duties and customs throughout Henry's lands. ... The plan worked; Lubeck became the leading entrepot for the budding Baltic Sea trade route ... and the most populous and prosperous town in northern Europe ... ultimately becoming the seat of the Hanseatic League, an economic alliance of 200 cities that lasted nearly half a millennium."
"The medieval world had stumbled upon a formula for creating order out of chaos and prosperity aid backwardness," author Sebastian Mallaby marvels.
Blaska Blog's value added comment: Free trade? Low taxes? Small government? The repeal of onerous regulations and nanny-state laws?
Screw Africa! Can we try that in Wisconsin? Isn't that the Scott Walker platform?
A Freudian slip?
State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate slipped up in his remarks at his party's annual convention and blamed the wrong president.
Tate told delegates that Democrats took over the state Legislature in the 2008 elections and then had to deal with "Barack Obama's economic disaster."
He didn't notice he'd mistakenly mentioned Obama when he meant to say former President George W. Bush and went on to introduce Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 6-12-10]
More Democrats in the academy
Nothing against Mike Morgan, Jim Doyle's secretary of Administration and previously my boss at Revenue. He treated me as well as he was permitted to. He's getting a plum job at the UW system, much better pay (try $245,000 -- about double his old salary of $136,000) and probably, better hours. Better cocktail parties. Blaska's Blog continues to have faith that someday, God be willing, the UW will hire a Republican.
Now that Mike Morgan is out, there goes Kirbie Mack's protection, another of my former masters. As long as Morgan was in power, Kirbie Mack could not be fired. Here is one of her employee morale boosters, as reported by WKOW-TV27.
Darwinism at work
A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a teenager who was hurling rocks at him near El Paso, Texas, last week. The on-line magazine Slate asks, "How many police officers have been killed by rocks?"
The Slate presentation is actually quite factual. But it is the kind of tendentious question St. Matthew of Logan would ask. The equivalence police would have the police officer returning fire -- but only with rocks. Preferably, rocks of the same size and weight. In no greater number than the rocks thrown at him.
Clear-thinking Blaska Blogheads know the right answer. Don't be throwing rocks at guys carrying guns. It's like the rock/scissors/paper game: gun beats rocks. It's just not smart.
Today's inspiring guy
Blaska's Blog today begins a new feature: an inspirational story of how everyday people can make a difference.
I'd like to spotlight a fellow I met recently, a "senior citizen" who found the courage to take on challenges that would people half his age would shrink from. His name is Harold Schlumberg. Mr. Schlumberg shared his story with Blaska's Blog:
Mr. Blaska, "I've often been asked, 'What do you old folks do now that you're retired'?
Well...I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering background, and one of the things I enjoy most is turning beer, wine, Scotch, and margaritas into urine."
Harold Schlumberg, ladies and gentlemen. Blaska's Blog Man of the Moment. (Thanks, Chollie.)
Note to Platinum Subscribers
The squire of the Stately Manor is going undercover for a major top secret assignment involving the future of the free world later this week. He will return after Independence Day.