Monday, November 25, 2013

Looney Tunes in the sausage factory


By Bill Kraus

In Wisconsin as in D.C. we are experiencing a kind of minority rule. The political system is expected to protect minority rights, but a couple of developments have expanded this concept.

The Legislature has abandoned partisan floor debates in favor of rule-by-caucus. The way this works is the majority caucus won’t let anything go to the floor for “debate” until a majority of the caucus has approved it. This almost inevitably means a minority of the entire body is deciding what legislation advances. Part of this deal is that all of the members of the caucus agree to vote for whatever has advanced. The minority party then will vote unanimously against the proposition.

This long series of party-line votes gives the not-unjustified impression that this is kind of a lemming legislature. Does any member, with the possible exception of Senator Dale Schultz, have a mind of his or her own?

Think of the time and rancor that could be saved and avoided by simply eliminating the faux debates and floor sessions altogether and mailing in the preordained results straight from caucuses.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Richard Milhouse Walker


By Bill Kraus

The Watergate fiasco was only the most prominent reminder of the dangers posed to the powerful when they try to coverup their missteps. The almost inevitable result is a loss of office and the power attached to it.

Overreaching is also to be avoided.

A very large, very loud collection of citizens spent a lot of time out in the cold weather to accuse the Walker administration of overreaching when it enacted Act 10 and pulled the fangs of the public employees’ and teachers' unions.

The reason that this radical move did not bring down the Walker administration is that a majority of the people characterized this as a battle of the 500-pound gorillas. The unions representing these groups had for a very long time terrified their opponents and intimidated their “friends.” The administration was terrifying the unions.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Favoring the indefensible


By Bill Kraus

The leaders of the majority party in both houses of the state Legislature have made a couple of things very clear:

They do not want to give up their right to gerrymander, which includes the right to protect their favorite incumbents in all years and their right to manufacture unbeatable majorities in the years they have majorities in both houses and a compatriot in the governor’s office.

The other thing they have made clear is they are not interested in having hearings in either house on the bills that would end gerrymandering on the obvious but unstated grounds that hearings would require them to defend the indefensible and answer the hard-to-avoid question: “Do you favor gerrymandering?”

The majority leader has accomplished this in his domain by extracting a pledge from most members of his caucus which prohibits them from breaking ranks on this question whenever and wherever it might arise.