Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Meow Ahead, Make My Day

by Tom Bozzo

The feral cat hunting measure passed the Wisconsin Conservation Congress by a 6800-to-5200 vote. (A propos of this Pub Sociology item, Madison's "MSM" headlined the story "Majority of Public Supports Hunting Feral Cats.")

I was mulling the merits of moving to Minnesota, which allows concealed firearms but where the Republicans have perhaps overreached their way into a period of relative decline, when I saw Jeremy Freese's related post in my regular morning blog scan. Jeremy makes a good case that farmers have legitimate interests in controlling feral cats that may not be met in other ways.

Considering that hunting is unsafe in urban areas, and the trap-neuter-release alternative could be difficult (and very costly) to implement on sufficient scale in rural areas, I'm persuaded that there's a legitimate urban-rural divide.

As for cat hunting, the vote is advisory and the Department of Natural Resources doesn't have much interest in pursuing it. The issue is ultimately up to the state legislature, where if John Gard(*) turns out to have a soft spot in his right-wing lunatic heart for feral kitties, I'd be really surprised.

(*) Who is presumably delighted that certain Wisconsin Democrats are squabbling over how "uncool" it was for a group led by a liberal Madison alder and a local labor leader to alter a Madison Deaniac group's endorsement for state party chair. Please, Stacie Rosenzweig, help patch things up (note: I admit to having no professional opinion on how best to do this) and move on!
As a member of the Milwaukee chapter of the Deaniac organization, I don't think there's a lot I can do to patch things up between the Madison group and local pols. I am recommending to my own group that we not actually endorse anyone, because, frankly, it's not really our business. I don't like our group doing within-party endorsements, whether it's for party leadership or in a contested primary election. Not all of us are Democrats, even.

I do think the stunt was "uncool," but I never expected what amounted to a vent on a few people's part (including mine) to become a big psuedo-scandal. Plenty of otherwise good and reasonable people do uncool stuff (myself included). As I've said before -- Joe Wineke has decent credentials, a solid voting record and is likely to win, regardless of endorsements for him or his opponent, and I think he will get things done. It's not like it's Rammelt vs. Gary George (can you run from prison?) or anything.

That John Gard is taking an interest in this at all is silly, anyway, since nobody except political insiders really pays attention to party leadership...quick, who's the chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party?

There may be some minor squabbling at the convention (it won't come from me; I'll just vote in peace), but I think after that, the only people who will still be carrying the grudge will be people who were looking for an excuse to finally cut their ties with the Democrats, or who were not Democrats in the first place.
Stacie, thanks for your comment. You have an excellent point that staying out of these sorts of relatively minor party political matters may be the best way for groups like DfW to do their business. It may also be that the Cap Times needs bigger fish to fry on its op-ed page.

My main concern is that energy that could be spent beating Republicans not be dissipated trying to beat Democrats. To that end, I sought not to assign blame to Wineke et al. for the maneuvering, Rammelt for being out-maneuvered, or DfW for having an easily manipulated process.

You're right that I couldn't tell you who the state Republican chair is. Nor are they free of within-party divisions, cf. Mary Panzer. The underlying issue of my Gard comment is that I don't think they're shy of using aggressive tactics to further their political aims. (Of course, it's not clear that the stunt at DfW materially furthered any larger goal of the Democrats involved, as I think your post, the comment, and John Nichols' op-ed from yesterday all at least imply.)

That, in turn, leads me to the eternal question of whether there's anything to be learned from them that could help Democrats regain a majority -- or, given legislative district boundaries, at least a better working minority -- rather than just waiting for the backlash to hit (as with the MN House).
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