- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 1

Gov. Scott Walker and the walling off of reason

Walling off the U.S. from Canada is “a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Gov. Scott Walker said on “Meet the Press” over the weekend.

That’s right, Canada.

Why stop there?

If immigration from the north is as big of an issue as Walker claims, he should examine walling off the east and west, too - every inlet, bay and harbor, all 12,500 miles of coastline. After all, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that immigrants from China and India, many with student or work visas, have overtaken Mexicans (and even those pesky Canadians) as the largest groups coming into the U.S.

Expensive? Yes, but we’ve got to get tough - or show we’re as tough as Donald Trump.

This is, of course, “a ridiculous notion,” as Sen. Rand Paul said about the Canadian wall.

The U.S. and Canada share the longest international border in the world, at 5,525 miles, traversing forests, mountains and Great Lakes. Where are you going to plant all that chain-link and razor wire out in Lake Superior? It can’t be walled off. Protecting that border hasn’t been an issue since the War of 1812.

The threat of terrorists infiltrating our country from the north, though a concern, is often overblown. As the Globe and Mail of Toronto noted in its account of Walker’s comments, “The most famous incident of a terrorist crossing from Canada was failed millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam, although several American political figures over the years have repeated the erroneous claim about the 9-11 hijackers coming from the north.”

Canadians don’t appreciate idle talk of a northern “wall.” As the Globe and Mail reported, a third of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product comes from trade with the U.S., and border measures that took effect after the Sept. 11 attacks “caused a ripple-effect that still hasn’t completely subsided.” Canadian defense minister Jason Kenney told an Ottawa news conference that, “Of course we would vigorously oppose any thickening of the border.”

There are legitimate concerns with immigration policy and security at the southern border with Mexico, and there are thoughtful proposals and the need for a healthy debate to address those concerns. But a taller wall and stricter enforcement alone will not solve the nation’s immigration system. Solving that will require sensible and humane policies that hold accountable the 11 million people already living in the United States illegally but also taking stock of their value to the nation.

We agree with Paul’s assessment. The Kentucky Republican, who like Walker is running for president, told the Boston Herald:

“There have been a lot of dumb ideas put out. One that the Mexicans will pay for a wall, (which) was probably the dumbest of dumb ideas. … It is sort of like everybody is now competing to say, ‘Oh no, I’ll put them in camps. Oh no, I’ll throw them out. Oh no, I’ll put everyone in jail. And I’ll have an electric fence, and I’ll do this.’ And it’s like, you know, the biggest thing we need to do is have a functioning immigration system, with a good work program.”

The education of a presidential candidate continues. We hope Walker finds a higher road, of his own choosing, rather than continue trying in vain to pass Trump on the right. It would make for a more meaningful conversation about real problems that need to be addressed.


Wisconsin State Journal, Sept. 2

GOP should drop fetal tissue bill

About $76 million in annual research dollars and 1,400 jobs are at stake as the Republican-run Legislature weighs a misguided attack on Wisconsin’s high-tech economy.

That’s according to the Wisconsin Technology Council, which advises the governor and lawmakers on technology and science.

The full Legislature should heed the council’s warning this week and reject Rep. Andre Jacque’s continuing attempt to ban lifesaving biomedical study.

“The unintended consequences of a unilateral Wisconsin restriction on research would likely be devastating … to efforts to build a high-tech economy,” a Technology Council resolution released Monday reads.

Jacque’s bill would put our state - a national leader in medical research - at a competitive disadvantage. And it wouldn’t do anything to reduce abortions. It would merely stop researchers in Wisconsin from using fetal tissue donated by women who have abortions.

Jacque’s proposal also would chase away innovators doing ethical and tightly regulated studies targeting birth defects and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, immune disorders and deadly strains of influenza.

“Many competing institutions are attempting to recruit researchers,” the Tech Council resolution reads. “If Wisconsin adopts legislation that restricts research, these researchers would likely relocate to an institution in a state or country where no such limitations exist.”

So the important work would continue - just not in Wisconsin. That would be bad for our great university, for the Madison region and the entire state.

Social conservatives in the Legislature have stepped up their push to ban the sale and use of fetal tissue in Wisconsin following the release of hidden videos by anti-abortion activists. The videos show Planned Parenthood officials talking casually about recovering cells and parts from aborted fetuses.

The videos are disturbing. But they weren’t filmed in Wisconsin and don’t involve Planned Parenthood officials here. Moreover, federal law already bans the sale of aborted fetal tissue. So if that law was broken (which we doubt, based on the videos), that law can be enforced. What Wisconsin doesn’t need is an even stricter law, shifting legitimate and ethical research to other states.

The Technology Council notes that fetal tissue has been used in research since the 1930s, with proven health benefits including the polio vaccine. The brilliant minds in Wisconsin that advance treatments and cures for human ailments such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t be turned into criminals.

A committee vote on Jacque’s bill is scheduled for Sept. 9, after which the full Assembly could take it up. Level-headed lawmakers should stop this bill for the good of Wisconsin’s health and economy.


The Journal Times of Racine, Aug. 29

Walker won’t win by flip-flopping on issues

After debuting at or near the top of the polls for GOP presidential candidates, Gov. Scott Walker has been dropping steadily in the rankings.

He vowed to deliver his message with more passion in August, but instead his ad-lib responses to questions seem ill-considered and all but guaranteed to drop him further in the race unless he corrects course.

One of the latest dust-ups came on immigration in the wake of leading GOP candidate Donald Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship - a practice that has been in effect since 1868 and is guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

Drafting in the wake of Trump’s position, Walker told an NBC interviewer: “I think that’s something we should, absolutely, going forward.”

Asked later to clarify his stance, Walker said he was not taking a position one way or another on birthright citizenship until the border was secure.

And six days after his original comment, the governor said he would not seek to repeal the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to those born on American soil.

That quizzical flip-flop was followed quickly this week by Walker’s call for President Barack Obama to cancel an official state visit with the president of China, Xi Jinping, while campaigning in Iowa.

Saying the U.S. shouldn’t be offering such an honor to a country behind cyberattacks in the U.S., Walker added, “If anything, we should be taking them to the woodshed.”

But that doesn’t particularly square with Walker’s praise of Xi Jinping two years ago when the governor led a Wisconsin trade mission to China where he posed on an exported Harley-Davidson or the fact that China is Wisconsin’s third largest export market and purchased $1.5 billion worth of state goods last year.

Walker’s apparent new strategy to hew farther to the right than Trump to attract voters is a foolish tactic - no one can out-trump Trump as a demagogue.

The governor still has time to get his message out in Iowa and reassert his drive for the GOP nomination, but it won’t be done by flip-flopping on issues.

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