Bye bye, collective bargaining: Wisconsin GOP one-ups derelict Democrats,

Good for them:

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, approving an explosive proposal that had rocked the state and unions nationwide after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats.

All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair bill” – a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday separated from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special committee of lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly approved the bill a short time later.

The unexpected yet surprisingly simple procedural move ended a stalemate that had threatened to drag on indefinitely. Until Wednesday’s stunning vote, it appeared the standoff would persist until Democrats returned to Madison from their self-imposed exile.

“In 30 minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller. “Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”

Miller said in an interview with The Associated Press there is nothing Democrats can do now to stop the bill: “It’s a done deal.”

Here’s more, via the Journal Sentinel:

Madison — The Senate – without Democrats present – abruptly voted Wednesday to eliminate almost all collective bargaining for most public workers.

The bill, which has sparked unprecedented protests and drawn international attention, now heads to the Assembly, which is to take it up at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Assembly, which like the Senate is controlled by Republicans, passed an almost identical version of the bill Feb. 25.

The new version passed the Senate 18-1 Wednesday night, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) casting the no vote. There was no debate

Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said Democrats who have been boycotting the Senate for three weeks would return to Wisconsin once the bill passes the Assembly, although he declined to be more specific.

From Feb. 17 until Wednesday, the Senate Democrats were able to block a vote on the bill because 20 senators were required to be present to vote for it. Republicans control the house 19-14.

Late Wednesday, a committee stripped fiscal elements from the bill that they said allowed them to pass it with a simple majority present. The most controversial parts of the bill remain intact.

That committee, formed just hours earlier, quickly approved the bill as the lone Democrat at the meeting screamed that Republicans were violating the state’s open meetings law.

The law requires most public bodies to give 24 hours notice before they meet. The conference committee met with about two hours notice.

“This is a violation of law! It’s not a rule!” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) bellowed.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) ignored Barca and ordered the role to be taken. Republicans voted for the measure as Barca continued to plead with them to stop the vote.

Republicans have not yet given an explanation of why they believe the committee could legally meet.

Minutes later, the Senate took up the bill and passed it without debate.

“Shame on you!” protesters cried from the galleries.

Is that the sound of a wahmbulance I hear?

Think I’m kidding? You can watch live the attempted mob rule as unionites angrily react to the Senate’s move.

Update/Related Reading: Wi. Gov. Scott Walker has an op/ed that will officially appear on the pages of the WSJ tomorrow, but it’s on the website tonight. You can read it here (via @WooHooYoo).

Dear Ezra Klein: Would you please name the Christian equivalent of OBL?

The moral relativist of the week award goes to ultra-liberal Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. Check out this transcript from a Monday segment of MSDNC’s Morning Joe in which host Joe Scarborough, Pat Robertson, and Klein discuss the upcoming Rep. Pete King hearings on the radicalization of Muslims – hat tip to my co-blogger (bolded emphasis added by me):

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Obviously there is a threat there, but it seems to me, especially after this summer and the ugliness of New York, Peter King needs to be very careful, very responsible.

EZRA KLEIN: And I think he needs to back off. I think Ellison is right, and I think if Eric Holder was staying up at night, then he can launch an investigation. What King is doing is not launching a serious investigation. What King is doing is launching publicity-hounding hearings. He is trying to make his name bigger, he is doing something big and in public to scare people. That is not the same as a serious law enforcement effort to look at radicalization of the Muslim community.

SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, what do you think?

PAT BUCHANAN: Look, I think the Muslim community is particularly vulnerable to an approach from abroad to try to radicalize them and make them enemies of America. That’s legitimate. Every politician, frankly, raises himself up with hearings like that. I think we ought to wait and see what Peter King does.

SCARBOROUGH: Ezra, do you not think there is a threat of the radicalization of a small group of Muslims here, like for instance England – obviously, it’s a much bigger problem in England that it is in the United States.

KLEIN: We have not seen it yet, and there is a good reason – we have not seen it in America in a serious way yet. The Muslim community here is very different –

BUCHANAN: Major Hassan killed 13 major Army guys and wounded 41.

KLEIN: But there’s not a ton of evidence, though, that was a radicalization of American community. We’ve had spree shooters in America, Pat.

BUCHANAN: He’s had contact with the guys abroad…

KLEIN: We’ve had school shootings from young Christians.  [HUH? -ST]

BUCHANAN: But these are guys abroad are reaching in to the United States by various modern media, and they’re recruiting, and kids are listening to it. I think opening that up – I agree with you. Look, don’t demonize Muslims but there’s no doubt…

KLEIN: How does he not demonize Muslims by doing this?

BUCHANAN: Because radical Muslims are trying…

KLEIN: You could explain – you have one example here, and we’re trying to talk about an investigation into an entire religious community. We bought from the one to the whole very quickly, and people need to be very careful doing that.

BUCHANAN: Who is most susceptible or vulnerable to the kind of recruitment coming out of the radical Islam? It’s American Muslims!

KLEIN: Why do we think they’re so vulnerable to it?

BUCHANAN: But why do you think….

KLEIN: There are radicals everywhere. There are neo-Nazis who claim they’re Christians. Is the Christian community in America so deeply vulnerable than neo-Nazis?

You can view a partial video clip of th exchange in question here.  Gotta love Klein’s outrageous and false assertion that “young Christians” have engaged in school shootings.  Um, how many of them cited God as their inspiration, Ezra?   Warner Todd Huston called him out on this bizarre point in his post at Big Journalism earlier:

Have we had people that are ostensibly “Christians” involved in school shootings? Not really as they didn’t cite their faith as the reason compelling them to murder — in fact, their supposed religious affiliation is no more relevant than the fact that they all had hair, or they all wore clothes when they perpetrated their criminal mass shootings. Using Klein’s logic, I suppose we could say fashion designers are prone to terrorism because these shooters wore clothes while committing their crimes?

As I have written here numerous times before, most recently yesterday in response to the drama queen antics of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), liberal moral relativists just don’t get it. If we currently had a worldwide epidemic of radical Christians plotting terrorist acts in churches, blowing up buildings and buses, planting roadside bombs almost daily, oppressing, raping, and burying alive Muslim women who “get out of line”, murdering non-believers via numerous means including beheading, and bullying/intimidating/threatening governments and news organizations into political correctnesss and/or censorship, useful idiots like Ezra Klein might have a point. But, as is usually the case with liberals when it comes to the issue of Islamofascism, the “Christians do it, too” card must be (falsely) played, because they really can’t seriously defend radical Islam in any way – so they equate extremely rare acts of  “Christian” extremism – acts that are carried out under the mistaken belief by the deranged perps that the Bible condones such violence – to the not-so-rare-acts of Islamofascism not just here at home but worldwide, despicable acts that are carried out in the name of “Allah” because that is indeed what “Allah” calls for. This is not disputable, although liberals have tried really hard to do just that.

Isolated acts of “Christian” extremism are typically committed by loner types or small groups of disturbed individuals who have grossly perverted the word of God into something it is not: A call to arms against non-believers. In the Christian faith, there is no “punisher” of non-believers here on earth.  “The decider” – so to speak – is God Himself.  There is no growing global, thriving network of Christian extremists plotting, scheming, recruiting by the thousands, intimidating, terrorizing, killing so-called “infidels.” On the other hand, the decades-old organized Islamofascism network has a number of “leaders” worldwide – the most infamous of course being Osama bin Laden, and their bases are scattered throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and most anywhere else the Islamic faith prevails, because the Koran specifically gives the green light to Muslim believers to take up arms against non-believers, using any means necessary.

There’s the dangerous, faulty liberal moral relativist fantasy version, as symbolized very well by Ezra Klein, and then there’s the brutal truth, as devastatingly demonstrated by the number of those seriously injured or dead as a result of the tens of thousands of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamofascists trying to do right by “Allah.”  The facts simply are not on the left’s side on this issue, and – sadly for them – never will be.

A team of malcontents

**Posted by Phineas

As it’s evolved in the American system, a president’s Cabinet comprises secretaries who run their departments as a sort of viceroy for the president, who has overall responsibility for the operations of the Executive branch. Ideally, the president sets the broad policy and the secretaries see that it’s implemented. They also render advice to the president as need on matters within their purview and report to Congress when required.

That’s the theory, at any rate. In practice, the Cabinet has become less important as a body as it’s grown larger (the original Cabinet comprised just five secretaries, six, if one includes Vice-President Adams) and more unwieldy: today there are 22 Cabinet secretaries and Cabinet-level officials. And, as the bureaucracy has grown, president have come to rely more on White House staff to get around bureaucratic inertia and those pesky congressional reporting requirements.

Also, Cabinet secretaries are rarely disinterested technocrats, but power-players in their own right, often representing major factions of the president’s coalition, a practice that goes back to Washington. They can even be the president’s political rivals, brought into government to buy their loyalty — for example, Lincoln’s famous “Team of Rivals.”

The functioning of the Cabinet is news today because, as the Washington Post relates, it isn’t functioning; many members feel ignored and slighted by the White House in the last two years, and the president now has to spend time mending his team of malcontents:

News this week of the first departure of a Cabinet secretary from the Obama administration comes amid a wide-ranging effort under the new chief of staff, William M. Daley, to repair badly frayed relations between the White House and the Cabinet.

During the first two years of President Obama’s term, the administration fully embraced just a few of his superstar picks – people such as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. But many more agency chiefs conducted their business in relative anonymity, sometimes after running afoul of White House officials.

Both sides were deeply disgruntled. Agency heads privately complained that the White House was a “fortress” that was unwilling to accept input and that micromanaged their departments. Senior administration advisers rolled their eyes in staff meetings at the mention of certain Cabinet members, participants said.

Obama himself said his advisers were relying on him too frequently as a messenger, rather than letting his appointees carry important themes to the country, senior administration officials said. And the president felt isolated. “One of the first things he said to me was, ‘I want to see these people more often,’ ” Daley said in an interview.

Cabinet members also registered their grievances with Daley shortly after he arrived in January. “You hear the same thing: ‘I don’t think we’re used well.I don’t think we’re consulted enough,’ ” Daley said. “Whether it’s true or not, perception becomes reality, and I think there’s a desire to feel more part of a team.”

Halfway through one’s term is a heckuva time to start building one’s team.

This isn’t a new problem, of course; other presidents of both parties have sidelined Cabinet members by relying on Executive Office staff. Nixon’s Secretary of State, William Rogers, was often bypassed by the National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger.

But in Obama’s administration, it’s apparently reached new levels with the centralization of control in the White House through the unprecedented number of appointed (and not subject to Senate confirmation) “czars.” And the White House’s disappointment in several Cabinet officials, such as Interior’s Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson at the EPA, reflects poor personnel choices. That, and the fact that Obama complains he doesn’t see them often enough, speaks to his own mediocre management skills and apparent passivity. (How hard is it to call up Labor, for example, and arrange a meeting with Secretary Solis?)

Another problem that I see is symbolic of Big Government: the Cabinet is simply too large with too many departments, indicative of a federal government that tries to do too much. The growth of White House staff is a response to the expansion of government departments and their bureaucracies, making the whole structure unwieldy. Rather than appoint a “Cabinet communications director” –yet another “czar”– the White House and Congress should look seriously at eliminating several of the departments*, downgrading others to sub-cabinet level, and leaving a core than can truly advise the president on those matters that genuinely are part of his job.

Yeah, I don’t expect that to happen any time soon, either, especially with the current crowd in charge.

*Starting with Commerce (the Census Office should be a separate agency subject to confirmation), Labor, HUD, Transportation, Education, HHS, and Homeland Security, which was a poor response to the weaknesses revealed by 9/11. Each may have a salvageable function or two (such as providing statistics), but, in general, they’re just money-sinks and corruption-attractors. Get rid of them.

PS. You’re right. It is a slow news day.

LINK: Publius takes a noticeably snarky view of this. More from Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)