This was a good year to be on the right. I'm happy, and not just because it annoys the liberals.
A terrorist fist bump of congratulations goes to "that Tiger Woods guy," as Will Ferrell (in character as George W.) called Barack Obama. His campaign's mobilization of ordinary people in Madison was massive and impressive.
Even so, our town moved one silly centimeter to the right in 2008.
This was the year liberals discovered that money is speech after all. Taxpayer-funded campaigns died a horrible death. Mourners include Mike McCabe, Dave Zweifel and Ed Garvey. Dead is their dream of using the coercive power of the state to tax you and me and the man behind the tree to fund campaign ads.
Barack Himself killed public financing in its crib. Running against the co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform," Obama rejected public financing and raked in a record $745 million - more than twice that mustered by John McCain.
Throw in the recession and a $5.4 billion state budget hole. Now who wants to raise taxes to finance 9/11 "truther" Kevin Barrett's next campaign?
Inclusionary zoning, the city of Madison's ordinance "mandating" affordable housing, went belly up despite mouth-to-mouth from Progressive Dane. A program that makes you return the equity you've earned is not ownership but rentership - and expensive rentership at that.
On the national level, we learned a hard economic lesson: Too many people with too little money buying too much house is called a bubble, and bubbles go pop. The resulting wreckage of our 401(k)s is causing us aging baby boomers to be nice to our bosses again.
GM announced it was closing its Janesville plant. Sympathy for the laid-off workers dried up about the time we learned about retirement at age 50, work rules that prevent workers from being reassigned as needed, and a "job bank" that pays them 95% of their wages indefinitely. A great contract. Too bad it is killing GM and helping Toyota.
No environment is healthy unless it is safe for people. On April 2, 2008, a 21-year-old UW-Madison student, studying to be a doctor, engaged to be married, was attacked in her home, in the middle of the day, by an intruder or intruders within five blocks of Madison police headquarters. She was strangled and stabbed to death. And possibly the last thing she heard was the dial tone from the hang up to her call for help.
County Exec Kathleen Falk, a.k.a. Our Lady of the Marshes, underfunded the emergency call center, hired someone with no experience to run it, and tried telling judges how to sentence criminals. Even some liberals are starting to complain of Falk Fatigue.
Madison Police Lt. Joe Balles pointed out that Madison "has kind of institutionalized an enabling environment downtown" for its transient community. After Ald. Brenda Konkel said, "Who, me?" she proposed that vagrants be permitted to piss in the park. You want inclusionary? Let my people go - in Brenda's backyard.
The Capital Times yielded to the verdict of the marketplace and ceased printing a daily newspaper on April 30. John Nichols, according to Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders, was "more than a little obnoxious" in remaining upbeat while 20 or so employees were separated from the newsroom. No lurid Konopacki cartoons denounced their dismissal at the hands of the capitalist running dogs.
Other noteworthy events:
Madison survived a record 101 inches of snow last winter. Torrents of rain washed Lake Delton down the Mississippi. Al Gore caused both.
Madison Magazine named Police Chief Noble Wray - a cop! - man of the year.
State Democrats took the Assembly, yet Republicans held both of their Dane County seats: Brett Davis in Oregon and Keith Ripp in the town of Dane.
Castro admirer Paul Soglin sought to "reform" the 4,000-member Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce for being too successful in the spring Supreme Court race.
Brett Favre, CC Sabathia, Marc Eisen, Lee Dreyfus, Susan Lampert Smith and Wm. F. Buckley left us, in various ways, with fond memories.
"On your left!/Get a light!" started a fight.
As kids on Christmas Eve, we suggested leaving a glass of milk for Santa. Mother said Santa would probably prefer a bottle of Schlitz. "Just like dad!" we exclaimed, in all innocence.
Sing now with the Chairman of the Board: It poured sweet and clear; it was a very good year!
David Blaska is a former journalist and politician who now writes a popular blog for Isthmus.