Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Defending My Dream

Hundreds of my closest friends will gather at Chula Vista on March 12 for the 3rd Annual Defending the Dream seminar, sponsored by the Wisconsin Chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP). They will hear from national and international leaders on strategies for influencing the policy debate and helping to elect good candidates. Some speakers will be friends from Madison. Because I am a friend of AFP, I have received invitations to attend.

As much as I would like to attend, there are two people scheduled that I would never pay to hear. Those are Steven Moore, leader of the Club for Growth and Grover Norquist, free market guru and founder of AFP. I try not to hold grudges against people. I make an exception for them.

Club for Growth raises money for conservative candidates. It is like Emily’s List, except for conservatives. Club for Growth also helps candidates run against people they label RINOs, Republicans in name only. In 2004, I helped an old friend, Dr. Joe Schwarz, run and win election to Congress in Michigan to succeed former Congressman Nick Smith, beating four more conservative candidates. In 2006, Club for Growth united behind former State Representative Tim Walberg, who won the primary. Walberg was ousted by Democrat Mark Schauer in 2008. Follow me here: Club for Growth ousted the moderate and their favored guy was defeated by a Democrat. They only take credit for ousting Schwarz, who is seeing patients again.

Norquist is more personal to me. I had not written for American Spectator for five years. I was a self-employed writer in Lansing when a scandal broke in 1993 that was awful and improbable. When Democrat Dominic Jacobetti of the Upper Peninsula was chairman of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee, the House Fiscal Agency was his personal fiefdom. It was populated by Democratic appointees, including director John Moberg. At least $1.8 million allegedly went to Moberg, his staff and his friends. One of these was caught selling weapons to Croatia in the scandal, worst Michigan had seen in 50 years. Reporters from the Detroit News won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage.

Was this not sensational? I queried the American Spectator about writing 500 words on this scandal and was informed that Norquist was already writing something about this. As a Spectator subscriber, I waited in vain for this. He did no such thing but cost me a month of groceries for my two children.

There is also a public policy reason why I do not like Norquist. It is possible that ATR began as a conduit for funds that flowed to Norquist from helping Jack Abramoff's clients. Norquist financed grass-roots lobbying campaigns that look like free-market solutions but really protected existing Indian casinos from competitors. Abramoff was convicted and Tom DeLay lost his seat in this scandal. Having an AFP seminar in Wisconsin Dells, where the Ho-Chunk Casino is located, is awful symbolism to me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Good Riddance to the Vancouver Games

No more advertisements for the official credit card of the Olympics. No more advertisements for the cell phone partner or the fast food partner of the Olympics.

No more made-up sports that are supposed to appeal to young people used to X games, such as moguls, snowcross, aerials, and half-pipe. Vancouver had so little snow that it needed to be trucked and made. The electric green Zambonis at the speed skating venue showed that they made the ice worse, not better.

The International Olympic Committee has already decided that women should not ski jump anymore. Because the women’s hockey competition is mostly between the United States and Canada, there is danger that the Vancouver competition will be the last time women play hockey in the Olympics. Maybe other countries should make more of an effort but the result is what matters. U.S. women and Canadian women were a combined 90-5 until they faced each other for the gold medal. They had previously taken away women’s softball from the Summer Games. The Olympics is the only place where women can play fewer sports each year.

I also think it was a mistake letting professionals compete in the Olympic Games. Yes, the Russians and the Soviet bloc were paying their athletes, using the fiction that they were in the Army. This was true of ice hockey, swimming, basketball and other summer and winter sports. It was always cool when college kids played for the U.S. in basketball and ice hockey. Now our professional athletes can beat your professional athletes in hockey, tennis and basketball.

So when the Winter Olympics move to Russia, they will not need to make snow. The time change is so bad for the United States compared to Vancouver, that most sports will not be carried live.