Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 06.06

Newsworthy

Walker's win. An old saying tells us that "success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan." On the morning after Gov. Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin, politicians, analysts, and pundits are trying to explain why he won. Conservative activist Richard Viguerie offers what to me is the most convincing explanation: "The real reason Gov. Scott Walker won is simple and something that Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign team should take to heart. Walker won because he ran and governed as an unabashed principled, small government, constitutional conservative." Viguerie added, "Just as Ronald Reagan once described his vision of the Republican Party, Gov. Walker's campaign was a campaign, not of pale pastels, but of bold conservative colors-encouraging jobs and economic development, balancing the budget, reducing taxes, and streamlining the state's bureaucracy."

Pool time. It's summer and lots of folk will spend at least some time poolside. But before you actually take a plunge in that cool, refreshing water, consider this: The Water Quality and Health Council recently commissioned a survey and found that 20 percent of adults admit to using the pool as a bathroom. These are just the ones who admitted it. And if you're counting on the chemicals in the pool to solve the problem, think again. Dr. Chris Wiant, the council's chairman, said more than 50 percent of public pools his organization tested last year failed to have proper chlorine levels. The problem has become so acute that the Centers for Disease Control has created a Healthy Swimming Program. The program's head, Michele Hlvasa, said that contrary to popular belief, if you smell chlorine, that's not a good sign. The ideal pool should be odorless. Chlorine smells only when it's interacting with contaminants. If the chlorine is pungent, that's a sign you're in a dirty pool.

One-sided tolerance. In 2008, a lesbian couple tried to hire an Albuquerque photography studio to photograph their "wedding." When the Christian couple that owns Elane Photography refused to do the job, the lesbians easily found another photographer, but they filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission (HRC). The HRC charged Elane Photography with "sexual orientation discrimination" and ordered the owners to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys' fees to the lesbians who launched the suit. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) helped the photographers appeal, but in 2009, a trial judge sided with the HRC's finding, and this week the New Mexico Court of Appeals also upheld the commission's decision on the grounds of the state's Human Rights Act. ADF attorney Jordan Lorence said the rulings show a "stunning disregard" of Elain and Jon Huguenin's First Amendment rights. "Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?" Lorence asked. "Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience." Lorence and the Huguenins plan to appeal the case to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

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Economic update. Stocks rose on Tuesday, recovering some ground from last week's selloff. Tuesday featured an emergency conference call of G-7 finance ministers. The U.S. Treasury, which chaired the meeting, said "progress toward a financial and fiscal union" in Europe was discussed but no joint statement was issued. Spain continues to be the biggest current problem and will likely be the number one topic of discussion at today's important European Central Bank meeting. Though things look bleak in Europe, Dr. Jeremy Siegel, the University of Pennsylvania business school professor often called the "Wizard of Wharton," believes that Europe right itself. He famously predicted back in March that the Dow would go from its current level of around 12,000 to about 15,000 by the end of next year. He told me this week that he stands by that prediction. "Europe is slow," he said, "but they will solve their problems, and that will take the cap off of the markets." If you want to see whether Siegel's predictions can be trusted, pay attention to the next Federal Reserve meeting. I asked Siegel if the Fed would implement another round of quantitative easing, or QE3. Plenty of analysts think they will, but Siegel told me the Fed would stand fast, and that would be a sign of confidence in the markets.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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