Friday, January 15, 2021

Franklin Graham Is No Holy Political Prophet

The Rev. Franklin Graham, who vouches for the good character of President Donald Trump, does not have such a high opinion of those who would remove Trump from office. In a statement, Graham compared the ten Republican congressmen who voted for impeachment to Judas Iscariot. "But the House Democrats impeached him because they hate him and want to do as much damage as they can," Graham wrote. "And these ten, from his own party, joined in the feeding frenzy. It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal."
This is not long after Graham actually encouraged challenging the counting of Electoral Votes from those states being contested by Trump and said on the morning of the riot at the Capitol that he had "no clue" if the election is over. For a supposed man of God, the "thirty pieces of silver" comment is not just a cliché. It's comparing the persecution of Christ to the workings of a secular government attempting remove a president for encouraging seditious violence. Instead of "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's," Graham has substituted Caesar for God, and he is definitely on Caesar's side.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thriller a reminder of evils of abortion

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 3, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A Thriller a reminder of evils of abortion (James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.) Tick, tick, tick ... The time for your summer reading just ran out. Those books you didn’t read will just have to wait until next year. Local author Michael Caughill completed my summer reading list this year with, “The Abortionist.” It’s the story of a serial killer who simulates different abortion methods on his adult victims. Dr. Hannibal Lecter meets Planned Parenthood. It is definitely not a story for the squeamish. Aside from being a great thriller, what makes “The Abortionist” an interesting read is the deft way Caughill handles the abortion topic. Caughill avoids a heavy-handed, lecturing approach to the topic. Instead, his characters discuss both sides of the abortion issue in much the conversational way so many of us discuss it with friends and family. Caughill does not distract us with long Ayn Rand-like diatribes, and the action proceeds at a crisp pace throughout the book. Where Caughill makes his point is in the gruesome way the murders are conducted, reminding us that abortion is a bloody business. The methods of abortion vary. The most common method in the first trimester is called suction aspiration. It involves a powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge which is inserted into the womb. The blade is used to cut the fetus into pieces and the tube then sucks the parts out. Caughill’s challenge as a writer is to bring that reality of abortion to the audience without succumbing to writing political pornography. It’s a tightrope that he manages to navigate. Nobody should be under the illusion that the decision behind most abortions is easy. Caughill reminds us of the social and economic pressures that drive women to consider such a step, and he does so in a sympathetic way. The women are victims twice in the novel, first of the culture that compels them to have abortions, and then at the hands of a serial killer. But as the declining numbers of abortions would seem to indicate, the culture is changing. More women are choosing life for their baby. The number of abortions annually in the United States peaked in 1990 at 1.6 million, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute – an abortion-friendly organization. The number has dropped since to 1.2 million in 2005. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized abortion in all 50 states, over 49 million children have been aborted. For the first time this year, a Gallup poll indicated that more people consider themselves prolife than pro-choice when it comes to abortion. Pro-abortion politicians, largely in the Democratic Party, find themselves on the defensive. Following the lead of former President Clinton, they’ve adopted the formula of “safe, legal and rare.” But wishing abortion is “rare” is a recognition that there is something intrinsically wrong with the act of abortion. President Obama, perhaps the most radically pro-abortion president this country has had, also had to concede that there was a moral argument against abortion when he told the audience at Notre Dame the decision whether to have an abortion, “has both moral and spiritual dimensions.” He said he wanted to reduce the number of abortions, too. These concessions to the public’s growing prolife sentiment come with very little change to the abortion laws themselves. Fortunately, that is a sign that we can reduce the number of abortions through education and a change in the culture. Unfortunately, it looks like the law is about to lurch the other way. The president is demonizing abortion opponents by claiming that they are lying about how “health care reform” will lead to publicly funded abortions. Among the “liars” are many of the U.S. Catholic bishops, including New York’s (and formerly Milwaukee’s) Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Health care reform will include abortion coverage as part of “the public option” and Democrats have stopped any amendments in Congress to prevent it. Worse, private insurers will probably be forced to provide abortion services to have their policies approved by the government. Despite President Obama’s rhetoric, his actions speak to a different agenda than reducing the number of abortions. Perhaps the president would have been better off adding Caughill’s book to his summer reading at Martha’s Vineyard to remind him what it is that he is defending. JAMES WIGDERSON

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Probably not as much as Mary Jo Kopechne

"Kennedy's dogs will be missed on Hill"
But Kennedy's dogs weren’t saints either. Like a parent of spoiled children, the senator was loving but a poor disciplinarian.

Splash has been known to bark impatiently during long meetings. The dog once sent White House staffers into a frenzy when the pooch began barking in the Oval Office. Kennedy and his pets were at the White House waiting for the start of a religious freedom bill signing ceremony with President Clinton.

“Kennedy was working the room, and Splash starts barking incessantly. The president was off in a side room having a meeting and the White House staffers start freaking out,” said Sutphen, a former staffer who attended the ceremony with Kennedy.

After Splash was excused, Clinton walked in, asking why he’d heard barking.

“No one fessed up,” said Sutphen. “But it showed the light-hearted, jovial, jokester side of [Kennedy].”
The dogs’ antics could turn Capitol Hill into a dysfunctional family scene.

While interning on Capitol Hill, then-Maryland University student Scott Shewfelt met Kennedy as he stumbled upon the Porties, unleashed and fresh from a haircut, digging in the shrubs outside the Russell Senate federal building where Kennedy kept his office.

“Teddy was yelling at them, but they weren’t listening at all,” Shewfelt said. “It was absolute chaos.”

Could be worse for the dogs. The ancient pharoahs used to take their pets with them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Calls for decorum ring hollow

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Aug 27, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

Calls for decorum ring hollow
Folks right to be upset

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

I’m somewhat amused by all of the sudden concern about the lack of decorum in politics. Suddenly, the political left and their followers in the mainstream media are shocked that people are showing up by the hundreds and the thousands to town hall meetings to protest the proposed changes in health care.

It’s perhaps easier to understand the frustration when a famous quip attributed to Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money,” needs to be updated to, “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you can’t print enough money.”

We are now looking at trillion-dollar deficits for each of the next 10 years. Nobody believes that is sustainable, yet President Obama wants to spend nearly another trillion on health care.

When Americans express their concerns, they’re told to shut up and take it. At the first rally in Madison by taxpayers in October 2007 led by Americans for Prosperity, state union employees counterdemonstrated by attempting to drown out the speakers with their shouting and intimidated the participants as they headed to their vehicles.

When concerned taxpayers showed up during the spring and summer to “tea parties” to rally against the massive expansion of government spending, suddenly an insulting sexual reference went mainstream, from the liberal blogs to cable news pundits, to belittle the rallies.

Deciding that wasn’t sufficient, tea party rally participants were accused of being part of a paid conspiracy, “AstroTurf,” rather than being part of an authentic grass-roots movement. Depending on the liberal villain of the week, ordinary citizens were accused of being agents of Big Oil, Big Pharmaceutical and Big Insurance.

Yet when the liberal special interests show up in any small number to protest anything, those are the authentic grass roots.

When it was clear that the taxpayer protests were genuine, the focus shifted. Now they’re radicals, unpatriotic, and even Nazis, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Even as the president was asking everyone to tone down the rhetoric, he accused his critics of lying while he spreads deliberate falsehoods of his own. As he encouraged “dialogue,” his administration’s Department of Homeland Security labeled his critics potential terrorists. And while we remember the president’s promise to improve the tone in Washington, his aides are promising to “hit back twice as hard.”

Nothing new, really. From the ’60s (for which the left has so much nostalgia) to today, the left in this country has had a policy of “taking it to the streets.” At times, it boiled over into bombings and targeted violent personal attacks.

From Chicago in 1968 to Seattle in 1999 there was some improvement. Instead of chanting “Off the pigs!” the slogan changed to, “No justice, no peace!” The threat of violence remained.

Then the Bush era, and for the last eight years one of the mantras on the left was, “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We saw their outrage manifest itself in violent demonstrations, attacks on military recruitment offices, disrupted congressional hearings, and planned riots at the national conventions.

Now I will concede that some of the people at these town hall meetings are a little rude. They’re paying attention now, and it’s their turn to be outraged. Some of them let their emotions overcome their judgment of good behavior. Most of them are not as articulate as a Harvardeducated lawyer with a teleprompter. Many of them have never been involved in a political movement before.

I strongly urge them to temper their words and to be more respectful at these town hall meetings. However, a few shouts at a few congressmen is not some sort of crisis in democracy, and the concerned taxpayers are certainly not deserving of being labeled “brownshirts.”

We now hear the calls for civility from those who thought the president’s association with Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers was no big deal, and they had no problems when Obama’s mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, screamed “God damn America” during his sermons.

Yes, I agree we should have more decorum at the town hall meetings, and more decorum in politics generally. My challenge to the political left is two words: You first.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The death of a dynast in Massachusetts

Of the demise of Senator Edward M “Ted” Kennedy, we are told that the “Lion of the Senate” has passed. We are told of his effectiveness as a senator, and his bipartisan spirit. We are even reminded of the promise of the Kennedy name, a branding effort unlike any seen before or since.

Yet we are compelled to look at the complete record. As the surviving son of the odious Ambassador Joe Kennedy, Edward Kennedy had a promise and a plan to fulfill. His eldest brother had been a war hero who died in service of his country in World War II. The next oldest would become president, but was cut down in assassination by “some silly little Communist.” The next brother was an attorney general and a senator from New York. He, too, seemed destined to become president (even as he threw away his anti-Communist credentials to appeal to the Democratic Party’s left), before he, too, was assassinated.

By this time, Edward Kennedy had succeeded to his brother Jack’s senate seat in Massachusetts. A family ally was kind enough to hold it for him until Kennedy came of age. Kennedy seemed destined to return his family to the White House until he drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge.

According to Kennedy, he made repeated attempts to rescue his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. When his efforts failed, Kennedy fled the scene of the accident and did not report it for ten hours. It is believed by the diver that found her, Kopechne survived the crash and an air bubble in car was able to keep her alive for at least two hours. Kennedy only reported the accident after it was discovered, and after his aides convinced him to do so. Kennedy was charged with the minimum, fleeing the scene of an accident, and was given the minimum sentence, two years suspended. His name and reputation saved him personally, but he would be unable to run for president as planned in 1972.

In the late 1970s, Kennedy was considered as a candidate for president again, openly rebelling against the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter. Like his brother Bobby, Kennedy attacked the president on the left. However, Kennedy’s campaign fell short of unseating Carter as the party’s nominee. The turning point was when Kennedy was asked why he wanted to be president and he could not give a coherent answer. How does one say that it was the family business, and his by right? So he continued in the senate, pursuing a liberal agenda even as America turned to the right.

The low mark of his senate career was during the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Shortly after Bork’s nomination, Kennedy slandered Bork in remarks that could only be forgivable if they were uttered by a Kennedy:

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice."

Just as his initial election to the senate was carefully managed, Kennedy attempted to manage the choice of his successor. In 2004, Kennedy supported a law that required a special election in the case of a senate vacancy. However, that was under a Republican governor, and the possible vacancy was the seat held by Senator John Kerry. As Kennedy’s health deteriorated, he changed his position to support temporary appointment to senate vacancies by the governor. Perhaps his best legacy was the reminder that dynasties ill serve republican virtue.

His life was one of unlimited potential, much of it wasted. In his public life, he does not leave much of a track record of bettering his country. In his private life, he offered little worth emulating, and much to be shunned.

If there are positives, it must be said he believed in public service for those that were able, and that many of his colleagues liked and respected him. In the last years of his life he seemed to find happiness in marriage to his second wife, Vicky. To her and the Kennedy family, a nation offers its condolences.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Will Feingold call out Senator Kennedy?

Will Senator Russ Feingold criticize fellow Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy for wanting his possible replacement to be appointed by the governor rather than elected by the people of Massachusetts?

Massachusetts law currently requires a special election to fill senate vacancies, a law pushed through in 2004 when Senator John Kerry was running for president and Republican Mitt Romney was governor. Kennedy was in favor of change in 2004, but now claims to fear Massachusetts will not have adequate representation if the state stays with the special election process. Ed Morrissey has the story. The Wall Street Journal weighs in, too:
Beacon Hill has long sported heavy Democratic majorities, so the state legislature has the votes to grant Mr. Kennedy's wish. But does it have the chutzpah? An election is the more democratic option. After witnessing recent attempts by incompetent Governors in Illinois and New York to fill Senate vacancies, Massachusetts voters may have soured on such appointments. Especially when Mr. Kennedy's motivation for changing the law is so obviously born of partisan interest, not principle.

Earlier this year Senator Feingold announced support for a constitutional amendment that would require the states to hold special elections. The amendment passed on a 5-3 vote in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Consitution and has gained the bipartisan support of Senator John McCain and Senator Dick Durbin. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is also a supporter.

Kevin Binversie addresses the issue at his blog, Lakeshore Laments:

Kennedy is no doubt creating another scenario in which the Massachusetts Senate seat will have another "Seat-Warmer" until the Kennedy-family approved candidate -- likely Ted's own wife Victoria -- can win the seat in the 2010 or 2012 election.

The reason why I raise this question is that Feingold is notorious for not letting his pet-projects die, let alone get railroaded in the process. Is Russ Feingold -- a notorious caucus bickerer -- going to just let Ted Kennedy's own personal demands that his Senate seat become some sort of "family heirloom" only he can pick and choose should fill it?

Who knows, but this was one heck of a floor speech by Feingold in February. Hate to see it go to waste.

On January 29th of this year I wrote a column for the Waukesha Freeman in support of Feingold's amendment and explained some of the issues behind it:

Let's vote
In keeping with Democratic principles,voters should choose who fills Senate vacancies

By JAMES WIGDERSON January 29, 2009

Sen. Russ Feingold took a moment from his usual preening before the cameras to actually address a serious issue in a thoughtful way. Feingold has proposed amending the Constitution to require special elections to fill Senate vacancies.
Feingold’s proposed amendment is not without precedent. Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette led the fight for direct election of senators. Prior to 1913, senators were chosen by state legislatures. The 17th Amendment changed that but, unfortunately, left the process for filling midterm vacancies to the states.

Feingold’s amendment is in seeming response to the recent controversies over Senate appointments.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is facing impeachment for allegedly attempting to sell the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama. Had Feingold’s fellow Democrats been less desperate to hold the seat, the Illinois legislature could have passed a law to elect Obama’s replacement. Instead the Democrats received a lesson in Chicago politics when Roland Burris was appointed and swept aside any opposition in Washington, D.C.

In New York, Caroline Kennedy made a shambles of the appointment process by pursuing the seat without any qualifications other than her family money and name. Eventually Gov. David Paterson made a purely political appointment by selecting another relatively inexperienced candidate from a strategically important part of the state, Kirsten Gillibrand. In a special election it would have been very unlikely Gillibrand would have survived her party’s primary.

They are not the only unelected senators to serve in this congress. In Delaware, Ted Kaufman was appointed to fill Vice President Joe Biden’s seat for two years until Beau Biden, the vice president’s son, can run for the seat. In Colorado, the Democratic governor appointed Denver School Superintendent Michael Bennet despite never holding elective office.

The Senate may survive having four unelected members, but do we really want four senators the voters would never have chosen in the first place?

The Senate has had interesting appointments before. In Missouri in 2000, Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash during a campaign against incumbent John Ashcroft. When his name could not be taken off the ballot, the Democratic governor played on the public grief and promised to appoint Carnahan’s wife Jean. Ashcroft lost, and then Jean Carnahan lost in a special election two years later.

Alaskan politics were dramatic before Sarah Palin became governor. When Frank Murkowski left the Senate to become Alaska’s governor in 2002, he appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to replace him. While she earned re-election two years later, her father lost in the Republican primary to Palin. This is not to say the voters are incapable of making mistakes. Right now in Minnesota, unfunny comedian Al Franken is slightly ahead over incumbent Norm Coleman in a recount battle. No governor would ever have appointed someone like Franken.

But letting voters choose replacement senators in a special election rather than letting the governors decide is consistent with our principles and our experience.

With special elections we need not fear whether someone has paid a price to obtain a seat in the Senate. Whether that price is gold or political support or even political cover, the real cost is the public’s confidence.

Special elections also leave it to the public to decide whether the name of their next representative in the Senate is sufficient recommendation. Whether the name is Kennedy, Biden, Murkowski or Carnahan, surely it would be better for the public to choose whether dynastic succession is appropriate.

The federal Constitution is unlike the state constitution. As a founding document we should be loath to alter it. But this is not a substantial change and it is consistent with the previous amendment requiring the popular election of senators.

Some will cite the long process as a reason to abandon the effort, and others will cite the worst disaster scenarios. Neither are sufficient excuses to prevent this necessary reform. If we cannot trust the public to fill vacancies as they occur, why are we entrusting them with the election of senators at all?

Now if we could only get Senator Feingold as enthusiastic about the First Amendment to the Constitution as he is about the 17th.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doyle retirement presents opportunity for GOP

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Aug 20, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

Doyle seemed to be gearing up for re-election bid

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

I am surrounded by people who tell me, “Of course. I knew Gov. Doyle would never run for reelection.” They reasoned (or so they claim) that by proposing the most radical state budget of his tenure, Doyle must have known he could never seek re-election.

By that logic, every Democratic state senator on the ballot last November would not have sought re-election after their even more radical “Healthy Wisconsin” proposal. And we can all look forward to President Obama only seeking one term.

Until recently, there was every indication that Doyle was intent on seeking re-election, despite his “two terms” claim in Monday’s address. (Someone should have asked him: If two terms is such a reasonable limit, why did you serve three terms as the state’s attorney general?)

Doyle has spent the last couple of years raising campaign money – campaign money that could have gone to Democratic candidates. His current war chest is approximately $2 million.

Meanwhile, the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a Democratic special interest group often supportive of the governor, ran television advertising in July in an attempt to boost the governor’s poll numbers after the state budget was passed. These things don’t happen unless the governor was planning on running for re-election.

Unfortunately for Doyle, his numbers never improved; he was out-fundraised by one of the Republican candidates and his consecutive election winning streak was in serious danger.

Democratic candidates are already lining up.

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is already in the race. As a member of the Democratic Party’s “progressive” wing, if Lawton gets the nomination, the Republican candidate can coast to victory. There will be some weak attempts to portray her as a formidable candidate, but even if she is not a lightweight, as is generally believed, she will still have the problem of being blamed for everything that went wrong during Doyle’s tenure without receiving any of the credit.

The same holds true for State Sen. Jon Erpenback who will be stuck with the state budget as his albatross. The only one who really thinks Erpenbach has a chance is Erpenbach.

Congressman Ron Kind is likely to take a run and would be the front-runner in fundraising, except that the Democrats were successful in 2006 in stopping Congressman Mark Green from using his federal campaign funds for his race for governor. However, Kind will have plenty of time to fundraise. What will hurt Kind is the unpopularity of Congress. Kind will be forced to explain his support for cap and trade legislation, the stimulus bill and whatever health care reform comes out. He will have to shore up his relations with the party’s liberal wing during the primaries, but that will hurt him in the general election.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is also talked about as a candidate. However, his recent injuries may make him reluctant to take on a state campaign. Besides, as the mayor of Milwaukee, Barrett would have a hard time appealing to out-state voters. Barrett may have a problem, too, with African-Americans in his own city unhappy with the amount of development in their community and Barrett’s meddling with the local school district. The latter also hurts him with the teachers unions, the strongest voice in the Democratic Party.

There is a misperception that not having Doyle as an opponent will hurt the eventual Republican candidate, whether it is former Congressman Mark Neumann or Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Nonsense.

Democrats are still complaining about President Bush. They ran against him last year even though he was not on the ballot and his intraparty rival was. They are going to try to run against Bush again next year.

Does anyone seriously think not having Doyle to kick around anymore will prevent the Republicans from tying the Democratic nominee to Doyle’s record?

Besides, it’s almost always easier to win an open seat than to defeat an incumbent. This time the open seat means easier fundraising for the Republican challengers and the same amount of organizational time after next year’s primary election as the Democrats.

Doyle’s departure creates a huge opportunity for the state Republican party to turn around its fortunes. Now if the Republicans could only find a candidate to take on Sen. Feingold.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Strike down domestic partnerships

(Note: I am behind on posting my newspaper column here. Here is my column from August 6th, the week that Doyle's domestic partner registry went into effect.)

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Aug 6, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

Strike down domestic partnerships

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

This week, Wisconsin’s 72 counties began the process of registering same-sex couples as part of a new domestic partnership registry. Wisconsin Family Action is suing to stop the registry, stating that the registry is prohibited by a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

They have a point. The amendment states, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”

At issue is whether the domestic partner registry is “substantially similar” to marriage. Looking at the criteria used to qualify for the new registry, it would be hard to argue otherwise. After all, the criteria are taken directly from those used for marriage.

Each of them must be 18 years or older, no closer in family relations than second cousins, share or intend to share the same residence, and not be married or in another domestic partnership. Even the prohibitions on too-close family relations and bigamy are preserved.

We can debate the benefits that are granted to same-sex couples under this new law. We can argue whether they are achievable through private contracts or separate enabling legislation. We can even question the wisdom of granting some of the benefits during an economic recession, when the granting of those benefits may result in additional costs on the state and private employers.

That is not what this debate is really about. It is about an attempt to force the state’s, and thereby society’s, recognition and approval of same-sex relationships.

This has been the goal since author and gay activist Andrew Sullivan suggested legalizing gay marriage in 1989 in an essay in The New Republic. He wrote, “Legalizing gay marriage would offer homosexuals the same deal society now offers heterosexuals: general social approval and specific legal advantages in exchange for a deeper and harder-to-extractyourself-from commitment to another human being.”

Fine, but what of the cost to society when a pillar of the social structure is rendered meaningless? While blogger Zach Wisniewski is surely correct in noting that the “institution of traditional marriage as we know it (defined as being between a man and a woman) didn’t come to an end” since the registry began Monday, marriage as an institution has been weakened and there will be a long-term cost.

Defenders of gay marriage and civil unions like to point out the high rates of adultery and divorce as evidence that marriage is already losing its special significance. To them I would ask, if a tree is being cut down, would you save it by setting it on fire? Of course not, nor should we continue to enact the means of diminishing the meaning of marriage.

We should also point out that, until recently, divorce carried with it a substantial social stigma, and adultery still carries some social penalty. There is a visceral response that broken marriages are not in our culture’s best interests. This is reinforced by our knowledge of the actuarial tables regarding the relative impoverishment of women and children involved in divorce. While there are individual cases of success, the breakdown of the family is a leading cause of social ruin.

Proponents of the civil unions are crying foul at Wisconsin Family Action’s lawsuit claiming supporters of the amendment to ban gay marriage claimed it would not ban civil unions. True, provided those unions are not set up to be substantially similar to marriage, as the new law clearly is.

Despite some recent setbacks, support for the definition of traditional marriage continues to have broad support in our society. President Obama’s opposition to gay marriage has been often stated. African-Americans and Hispanics joined with traditional conservative constituencies to support a ban in California. And here in Wisconsin, nearly 60 percent of the voters supported the amendment even as the Democratic Party made gains across the state that year.

We should continue in the spirit of that bipartisan, cross-racial consensus to defend and even strengthen the institution of marriage.

And in the interest of defending our state constitution, the courts should strike down this domestic partner registry.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Good weather for skiing on October 9th

Former Vice President Al Gore will be flying into Madison on October 9th to lecture us all how our over-consumption and our excess carbon emissions will doom the planet like Krypton. Given the history of these events, we can expect anyone who disagrees with Gore's apocalyptic vision to be branded as the moral equivalent of NAZI death camp commandants. We can also expect Madison to be unseasonably cold that day.

My suggestion to the residents of Madison is prepare to dress warmly that day. You might even want to check your snowblowers the day before to make sure they're running properly. I find that using non-reformulated gas is essential for the first use of the snowblower each season.

Wigderson goes to Washington

(Note: I'm behind on posting my newspaper column here, so I am catching up this week. Here is the Waukesha Freeman column from August 13th.)

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Aug 13, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

What I learned on summer vacation
Government’s failings evident in capital city

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Washington D.C., or what I happily refer to as the “crab cakes and monuments tour.” It’s been a few years since I’ve made the trip, and this was the first purely as a tourist.

Since school children all over Wisconsin are about to be asked to write on what they did on their summer vacations, I thought I would pass along a few lessons from my own. I would just suggest that those kids should not copy any of my ideas. Your teachers will be able to tell.

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., we quickly learned a lesson in government-run mass transit. Our nation’s capital has one of the best mass transit systems in the world, but you can’t get to where you want to go when you want to get there.

The hotel was not far from the Metro train stop at Union Station, but really too far to drag our bags. This means we had to take a taxi from the airport.

On our first day there, we had tickets on a boat from National Harbor to Mount Vernon. That involved a taxi to the boat launch. Then another taxi back to the hotel afterward.

Dinner that night was in Georgetown at one of the city’s best restaurants. Apparently, the planners for the Metro system never conceived that anyone would want to go to the oldest part of the city. Another taxi ride back and forth.

Stranded by the Vietnam War memorial on the opposite end of the mall away from the nearest metro stop, we took another taxi. You can see a pattern, and it was expensive. We finally caught a break going from the hotel to the airport. The hotel called a car service for us.

Washington, D.C., has a government like any the city. However, for much of its history the city was governed directly by Congress. Even now, Congress still controls much of what happens in the federal territory.

Despite the presence and the control of the federal government, the city still has an obvious problem with poverty. The homeless are ubiquitous, and sections of the city resemble many of the poorer urban areas around the country.

Obviously federal spending is not the issue. The really big buildings occupied by federal agencies quickly dispel that notion. Clearly more government jobs are not the answer.

Higher taxation is not the answer. We paid a shocking 10 percent sales tax on our restaurant meals. Sales taxes in Washington range from the already-high 5.75 percent to the obnoxious 14.5 percent hotel room tax.

Nonetheless, poverty remains an issue directly under the noses of those who promise so much more from the federal government (if we only allow them to spend more money).

If government has trouble with the big things, perhaps a small thing will shed some light on why.

The grass on the federal mall in front of most of the Smithsonian museums is in a really poor state. Most residents of Waukesha would be ashamed to have lawns in that condition.

One of the buildings facing the lawn belongs to the Department of Agriculture. It is a rather impressive building, visible all the way from atop Arlington Cemetery.

Most of us would assume the Department of Agriculture would be filled with experts on growing things. We would be wrong. The Department is responsible for spending large amounts of money for purposes related to agriculture, even if only tangentially.

The national park system, including the mall in front of the Smithsonian, is run by the Department of Interior. Unlike the television show “Trading Spaces,” they do not think they can accomplish a miracle growth of new grass for $100. A source working on Capitol Hill told me the department wants close to $400 million.

I immediately offered the services of my father-in-law. Just give him a new tractor, a home improvement store credit card, and bullhorn to keep the kids off the grass, and by the end of summer the mall will look like a fairway at Augusta.

He could do it on his next summer vacation.


Ed Garvey for governor

Doesn't it sound like Ed Garvey will not be happy with any of the other Democratic candidates? While his candidacy would be former Democratic consultant Bill Christofferson's worst nightmare, just think how fun a Garvey campaign would be.

May I suggest a campaign slogan? Ed Garvey, a candidate the Cap Times can be proud of!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recall backers' claim not serious

I was cc'ed on the following announcement by Vince Schmuki from WIN, the group behind the failed effort to recall Governor Doyle:

If the news as reported in today's Journal Sentinel turns out to be true, give all of yourselves a collective pat on the back. You, through all of your tireless efforts, helped to bring down one of the most well entrenched governors in history!

I always new that it was a possiblity that we could intimidate Jim Doyle into retiring from WI politics and we may never know how large or small a role we played in his final decision but I guarantee you that our latest P.I.E. strategy was the cherry on the sundae. This guy had skeletons in his closet that he didn't want anyone to ever see and we were about to bring them out for the whole world to see.

My heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of you, including those no longer active with us, for your citizen activist role in making this happen. Ordinary people, such as the 6000 of you from our Recall Doyle effort, do make the difference! TODAY YOU SHINE!

Vince Schmuki/ Representing WIN-Wisconsinites Interest Now For the Recall Doyle Team

Let's be serious for a moment here. Unless I hear differently from the governor himself, there is no reason to believe that the failed recall effort that did not even get to the signature-gathering stage had any impact on Governor Doyle's decision to not seek re-election. If anything, their failure to capture the attention of the state would have been a thumb on the scale in favor of running again. It would be as if Churchill claimed the attack on Gallipoli forced the Turks to surrender.

The recall was a mistaken effort with nothing to show for it except for some frustrated volunteers and lost productive time. Perhaps before someone listens to CRG and considers recalling a public official, they should consider this debacle - and the Sullivan debacle - first. Or they could just read my columns and blog posts on when a recall is appropriate.

Silly political scorekeeping

Liberal bloggers are upset, even apoplectic, that a conservative blogger would dare to suggest that if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had a concealed gun, he might not have suffered the injuries he did. Wow, conservatives are just rotten people.

Except when a more-prominent liberal blog runs a blog post by uber-liberal Keith Schmitz making the exact opposite point while using the lead pipe attack against the mayor.

Of course, it didn't occur to the liberal bloggers that their faux indignation is also just using the attack for more political points.

Wow, liberals are just rotten people.

As for the attack itself, if such a poll were conducted I truly believe Mayor Barrett would be voted the least-likely politician to ever be physically assaulted. C'mon, the biggest scandal of the guy's career was getting pulled over for speeding while delivering his daughter's girl scout cookies. It's terrible that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time trying to do the right thing and getting brutally attacked for it. The Wigderson family wishes him a speedy recovery.