Browsing the blog archives for February, 2011.


Polls Say Walker Is Losing Public Support

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Labor

A Public Policy poll finds that Gov. Walker is losing support in Wisconsin; if last fall’s election were held today, Walker’s Democratic opponent would win handily. Interestingly, the biggest shift was among Republicans with a union member living in the household.

A New York Times/CBS News poll also finds a hefty majority of Americans are opposed to taking collective bargaining rights away from public employees, 60 percent to 33 percent. This finding is nearly identical to other polls I’ve seen. What’s surprising is that nearly as large a majority were opposed to cutting pay or benefits to reduce budget deficits. And finally, this —

Labor unions, including private sector labor unions, are seen as less influential now than they were three decades ago. The poll found that 37 percent of those surveyed believe that labor unions have “too much influence” on American life and politics, while 48 percent said they had the “right amount” or “too little” influence. In a 1981 poll, by contrast — soon after President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers — 60 percent of those surveyed said unions had “too much influence.” Of course, union membership has declined since then.

The campaign to turn unions into the bogyman is backfiring, seems to me.

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The Republican Job Creation / Victory in 2012 Plan!

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economy, Republican Party

The Republican Job Creation/Victory in 2012 Plan is a variation on the plan that has worked very well for them these past 30 years or so, namely —

1. Screw Everything Up
2. Blame Democrats/Liberals/Leftists
3. Win!

In fact, the only time this plan seems to fail for them is after a long run of dominating both the White House and Congress, and at least part of the electorate catches on that, just maybe, it wasn’t Democrats who screwed everything up. But this enlightened effect doesn’t seem to last very long, however, possibly because Dems fail to capitalize on it by taking over news media and ceaselessly repeating a few catchy talking points to drive home the point that Republicans screw everything up.

The precise plan right now is to jam through their insane “fiscal sanity” measures, which will cost the nation 700,000 jobs and cut economic growth by as much as 2 percentage points. Then, throughout 2012 yammer endlessly about “Obama’s economy.” Win!

Greg Sargent, who insanely is trying to be sane, writes,

Even if you disagree with these analyses, you’d think the fact that there are now two of them reaching similar conclusions would be newsworthy enough to break through the din of Beltway deficit-reduction fetishizing. The argument about budet cuts is too often framed solely as an argument between so-called deficit “hawks” and “doves,” as a dispute between those who say steep cuts are necessary and those who say they’re cruel and extreme. The fact that outside analysts think that budget cuts could actively hamper the recovery deserves to be part of the discussion.

Mais non, dear readers. That makes sense. Therefore, it won’t happen.

See also: Paul Krugman, “Not Enough Bureaucrats” and “Leaving Children Behind.”

Update: Now, here’s a man with clarity. Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels said that cutting budgets is essential even if it costs a lot of jobs. He’s not even bothering with “underpants gnomes” thinking that cutting budgets magically will create jobs. He knows that the times demand budget cuts, because this will result in a leaner, meaner electorate that will not only vote for Republicans but will gratefully accept whatever the Corporate Overlords dish out.

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Frank Buckles, 1901-2011

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American History

The last American veteran of World War I.

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Today in Wisconsin

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Obama Administration

As I write this, it’s less than two hours away from the 4 p.m. (Central Time, I assume) deadline for protesters to leave the Wisconsin state capitol building. Yesterday, members of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association were saying that they would not enforce the order. Now that the time is getting near, it’s not clear to me (from far away New York) what’s going on.

The governor says he’s not backing down. No doubt he’s seen himself mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 several times in the past few days.

The Right is still trying to spin this weekend’s rallies as a tale of raging union goons, but from what I can see this is not the way mass media is telling it. I am not watching Faux News, of course.

(And speaking of Faux News, there’s a rumor Roger Ailes will be indicted. I’m skeptical. We’ll see.)

Update: Live feed at Firedoglake.

Update: From what I can see, the protesters are being allowed to stay in the Wisconsin capitol building. No arrests, no confrontations reported.

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A Good Day for Labor

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Obama Administration

Big rallies across the country today, and the biggest crowd in Madison yet, in spite of a snowstorm. I understand the Republicans are going to try to close the statehouse tomorrow afternoon, which may bring things to a head.

The Right is still trying to make the story about union goons. They’re promoting a video that allegedly shows protesters disrespecting a war memorial. I say allegedly, because I found it to be a brilliant illustration of the “greater asshole” rule, and the people making the video definitely come across as the greater assholes. The “evil raging leftists” have the patience and forbearance of saints; I would have been a lot snarkier. You can watch it at Moderate Voice.

Stuff to read:

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions” by Rick Ungar. See also “A Clarification on Public Workers” by Paul Krugman.

The View From Inside the Wisconsin State Capitol

Must read:Scott Walker’s Ruthless Ambition” by John Gardner.

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More Tales of Union Thuggery …

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Obama Administration

… which is to say, rightie bloggers are striving mightily to turn the Wisconsin protest story into a story of Union Goonism, but they’re having a hard time of it, because the protesters are not following the script.

For example, David Weigel links to a hysterically hatemongering post of Michelle Malkin’s (titled “Hate-a-rama: The vulgar, racist, sexist, homophobic rage of the Left,’ but if you want to see it you’ll have to follow Weigel’s link) and asks, “Where are the thugs?” Because the worst examples Malkin could find of this alleged rage are lame.

One of Malkin’s examples is a video of people yelling “shame! shame!” after the Wisconsin Assembly passed Gov. Walker’s bill. Um, free speech, dear? Malkin is defining “thuggery” as “people I don’t like stating opinions I disagree with.”

Weigel continues,

I just spent four days in Madison and the state Capitol, reporting, and saw absolutely no violence. There were no arrests on Saturday, when 80,000 liberals rallied and a smaller number of Tea Partiers counter-protested. There were no arrests last night when hundreds of angry protesters watched the GOP-led Assembly pass the budget repair act. There are no arrests, so far, in Madison. And Malkin cites actual violence in only two cities where protests have taken place.

But, as has been said elsewhere, the union goons are refusing to conform to the Right’s stereotypes. How diabolical of them.

Today a Wisconsin blogger is reporting that Gov. Scott Walker was asked to leave a Madison restaurant when the patrons began to boo him. The original post was taken down because, the blogger says, the restaurant was being swamped with phone calls about it. Swopa at Firedoglake has details.

A rightie blogger claims to have proof that the restaurant story is a hoax. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. The “proof” is a lot more dubious than the original story, however. You can listen to the audio of a phone call and judge for yourself; the denial sounds to me like a restaurant employee trying to say anything the caller wanted to hear to get him off the phone, because it was dinner hour and the restaurant was busy.

Update: I’m surprised Malkin isn’t blasting the restaurant for serving arugula. Arugula is one of those effete liberal things that right-thinking Muricans view with suspicion. But why would a Republican governor eat there?

Update: FYI, I am especially fond of fresh arugula with sliced tomatoes and goat cheese.

Update: Via Susie Madrak, The Wisconsin Professional Police Association is calling on the governor to keep the Wisconsin capital building open to the protesters. The WPPA also is calling on its members across the state to come to Madison and camp out with the protesters.

“Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” continued Palmer. “That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”

The WPPA statement also reinforces what other people are saying — the protesters are behaving very responsibly and even are cleaning up after themselves. I guess the next thing we’ll hear is that the police are a bunch of union goons.

Update: Even though they are picking up after themselves, Ann Althouse complains the protesters are littering up the Capitol Building. They have taped protest signs to a Veterans Memorial, which Althouse apparently thinks is some kind of desecration. Let’s see — what was it veterans did that causes us to memorialize them? Give their lives for our freedoms, maybe?

It also seems to bother her that there are pro-union signs decorating a bust of Robert La Follette If you know anything about LaFollette, you know Fighting Bob would be standing with the protesters himself if he were still alive. He was one of the leaders of the early 20th century progressive movement.

However, there was another famous Wisconsin politician who hated unions. He really, really, hated unions. I’ve got a whole book around here somewhere about how this guy’s number one issue in his early career was how unions ought to be busted. You may have heard of him — Senator Joe McCarthy.

Update: A rightie Wisconsin blogger is outraged that people were disrespectful to the governor, because America is all about showing proper deference to government officials, or something.

Update: See Greg Sargent, “Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all

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Momentous (and Crazy) Times (Updated)

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Labor, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

There’s much more going on than I can follow. You may have heard there’s a civil war in Libya, for example. For a while it seemed that Moammar Gaddafi was toast, but the news this morning is that he’s using paramilitary forces and mercenaries to crush the rebellion. The post-Gaddafi era may be postponed, alas.

In Wisconsin, it appears Democrats in one legislative house, the Assembly, have ended a filibuster and reluctantly agreed to allow Gov. Walker’s union-busting bill to come to a vote. Wisconsin Senate Democrats are still out of state, however, so it can’t pass into law just yet.

Must Read:Scapegoats in Wisconsin” by Mark Erlich.

Organized operatives paid by FreedomWorks are attempting to throw the protesters off their game by inciting them to violence. Shoving into crowds and getting into people’s faces while being terminally obnoxious, a few of the Koch-paid goons have been insulted right back, which of course is captured on video and labeled “union thuggery.”

One, um, video of dubious veracity begins with some guy practically begging a protester to hit him. Then the camera turns away, the image gets fuzzy, and you hear noises that sound like punches. When the camera comes back into focus, you see a somewhat puzzled union protester, still holding his sign, while the Koch guy is screaming “you just hit a girl!”

While I do not condone violence, neither do I condone BS. The allegedly assaulted young woman was allegedly the FreedomWorks operative allegedly holding the camera, and although she is allegedly petite and the man who allegedly assaulted her (without dropping his sign) appears to be quite large, there are no reports she needed medical help. Please; that’s the best you got? This, dears, is what real thuggery looks looks like.

Update: Stephen Colbert demonstrates —

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bust in Show
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Elsewhere: Although Indiana has backed down, the situation in Ohio is still at an impasse. Also, a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from municipal workers has just left committee in Oklahoma.

In other news, the Obama Administration is not going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which has always struck me as being blatantly unconstitutional. A federal judge has found the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional, which now brings us to three judges yes, two judges no.

Finally, there’s a bill pending in the state of Arizona that would repeal the law of karma within state borders. I’m serious. HB 2582 would prohibit courts from basing any decisions on “religious sectarian law,” which beside being an oxymoron is defined as

… any statute, tenet or body of law evolving within and binding a specific religious sect or tribe. Religious sectarian law includes Sharia Law, Canon Law, Halacha and Karma but does not include any law of the United States or the individual states based on Anglo‑American legal tradition and principles on which the United States was founded.

I like the part about Anglo-American legal tradition. I also suspect that the authors of this bill assume the Ten Commandments are part of that Anglo-American tradition and wouldn’t be prohibited.

Karma, of course, is basically just the principle that actions have consequences; cause and effect. You might as well prohibit gravity. This bill is right up there with China’s regulation that lamas may not reincarnate without government approval. For that matter, I’d expect the Arizona legislature to pass a law prohibiting species from evolving within state borders, but then they’d have to acknowledge that species do evolve.

Update: Alex Pareene has more about the so-called “union thug” video, which has gone viral on the Right. Pareene points out that this video was made in Washington DC, not Wisconsin, which I had not noticed. “FreedomWorks could only manage to provoke an incident in D.C., because the people of Wisconsin are a gentle and peaceful lot, unless there is a Packers game on,” he says.

He also says that what he saw was the gentleman in the video pushing away the camera. I can’t make out that he did anything in particular, but you take a look and see what you think. Pareene continues,

Pushing a camera away from one’s face seems less “thuggish” to me than it does … defensive. And purposefully picking fights with people in order to provoke an angry response does not really prove much of anything.

Pareene also says that the young woman whose camera was pushed is now comparing herself to Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was assaulted in Cairo, which I also hadn’t noticed until he pointed it out. He continues,

I am not making that up. I wish I was making that up. But I would actually not make that up, because it would seem beyond the pale to accuse conservative activists of being so horrible, so desperate to play the victim, so morally depraved, so deep into their persecution fantasies that they’ve lost all perspective on the rest of the world.

Yeah, pretty much. One of the keys to interpreting teabaggery is that in their minds, they are always the victims.

Update: See Wonkette and Tbogg.

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Victory in Indiana

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Obama Administration

Senate Republicans have killed the “right to work” bill.

And yes, a deputy attorney general of Indiana really did call for using “live ammunition” against the protesters.

Also, teabeggers in Georgia are being told to bring their guns to Atlanta to face off against the pro-union demonstrations there.

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Wisconsin: Stand Strong

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Obama Administration

The Republican Governor’s Association has launched a website called “Stand With Scott.” That’s Scott as in Scott Walker; I guess it’s illogical to say “Stand With Walker.” Anyway, as it says at The Note, the site features “pledges of support from GOP Governors Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.”

You hear that, Wisconsin? Southern states want you to be just like them! The GOP wants to turn Wisconsin into North Mississippi!

However, Republicans governors of states that were not once part of the Confederacy appear to be backing away from Walker and his union-busting scheme. Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, and even Gov. Rick Scott of Florida — southern, but never Confederate — are making noises about “right to work” laws not being a big priority right now.

Even Chris Christie of New Jersey, about as anti-teacher’s unions as they come, said this morning that public employees should still be able to collectively bargain. If Christie isn’t going to try to bust teachers’ unions, seems to me that’s a pretty good indicator that the momentum is with the unions.

However, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are not Ohio and Indiana. And according to WaPo‘s right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin, by distancing himself from union busting, Mitch Daniels has killed any chance of being the GOP presidential nominee in 2012.

In short, Daniels caved, perhaps the surest sign yet that he’s not running for president or doesn’t understand what conservatives expect of a presidential candidate. . . . As one very smart Republican insider put it, “I guess Mitch really isn’t running.” Two other Republican operatives weighed in that they, too, thought this was the end of Daniels’ presidential ambitions. I wonder how all those who fawned over his CPAC speech feel now that he’s essentially conceded his position to the unions. Moreover, this represents a personal flip-flop of Mitt Romneyian dimensions, given Daniels’s previous statements and stance on the fiscal harm caused by public-employee unions. . . Meanwhile, Walker rose to the occasion and improved his standing among conservatives.

I absolutely agree that the Republicans should nominate a guy with a clear record of union busting. I’d love to see Michelle Obama in another stunning inauguration gown.

In the past couple of days a number of polls have come out (the most recent from the Associated Press) indicating that most of the public gets it. Yes, they want to see public employees make some sacrifices, but they are opposed to busting the unions.

Today’s word, boys and girls, is “overreach.”

Meanwhile — although Mitch Daniels has backed off, Republicans in the Indiana legislature are still pushing a bill that would bust private sector unions. Dem Indiana legislators are mostly remaining out of state, although it’s not clear that would prevent anti-union legislation from being passed. One Dem legislator told a reporter that he hoped the delaying tactic would give the people of Indiana time to learn what the Republicans are trying to pull.

And union members are rallying in Columbus, Ohio, in opposition to a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from state employees. For a time yesterday, protesters were locked out of the statehouse. The doors were opened again when Dems threatened to get a court order.

Other related items, filed under “get a brain, morans” —

Someone in Madison evoked the famous saying of the Rev. Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Some versions of this quote put the sentences in a different order, with “Jews” coming before “Trade Unionists.”

The terminally dense John Tabin of The American Spectator chose this sign as the “craziest” in the crowd, adding, “I’m fairly sure that Governor doesn’t plan on building death camps, but if I find any evidence to the contrary I’ll be sure to report on it.” I doubt he’s building death camps, either, but the point that the Right collectively is pulling America into fascism is well taken. Fascism can’t tolerate unions.

The Right’s demonization of Muslims, IMO, bears an uncanny resemblance to the way a certain German political party of the 1930s demonized Jews. But if one must have demonization of Jews to see evidence of fascism, just the other day Glenn Beck dumped Reformed Judaism into the same category as “radical Islam.”

If the shoe fits, dude …

See also Tim Fernholz, “Bait and Switch.”

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Painting and Corners in Wisconsin

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Obama Administration

Right now, you can find people on both sides of the Wisconsin public employee union impasse who declare the other side has painted itself into a corner. And that’s probably true, although I would argue that it was Gov. Scott who provided most of the paint and determined where the corners were. In any event, it probably is the case that whoever blinks now will be Public Enemy Number One to somebody.

The question is, who has got the least to lose from blinking?

According to a poll cited by Nate Silver — who also explains why Rasmussen polls should be ignored henceforth — a slight majority of Wisconsin residents support the public workers union over Gov. Walker. They’re not happy with the Democrats, either, but they don’t want the union busted.

So, I would argue that any Republicans in the state legislature whose constituents are mostly pro-union have the least to lose by coming up with a workable compromise. Of course, it’s also true that one of the exiled Senate Democrats whose constituents are mostly anti-union (they’re elected from senatorial districts, Wikipedia says) would have some strong incentive to blink, also.

However, the guy with the most to lose might be Gov. Walker. If he succeeds in busting the unions, he will immediately become the Right’s fair-haired darling and, I predict, catapulted into becoming a serious contender for the 2012 presidential nomination.

But if he blinks, to the teabaggers he would be persona non grata from then on. So yeah, there’s lots of painting-themselves-into-corners going on in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is running an article by A. G. Sulzberger, of the New York Times-owning Sulzbergers, that suggests union workers in Wisconsin support Gov. Walker. But if you read the article, what you see are a few people — only one of whom is a union member — who are unemployed or under-employed expressing resentment of public employee salaries and benefits.

Again, instead of anger at the failure of the private sector to sustain economic growth and good jobs, they’re conditioned to resent people who still have good jobs. This tells us that the one rousing success story in the U.S. is about rightie propaganda.

The New York Times today is virtually roiling with the Wisconsin issue. Eric Lipton writes about the role the Koch brothers’ money is playing in Wisconsin, for example.

Naturally, David Brooks has a column actually headlined “Make Everybody Hurt,” in which he lauds Gov. Walker and other “debt fighters” as “founding fathers of austerity.” Unreal.

On the other hand, Bob Herbert talks about the people who really are hurting, which is just about everyone who isn’t being interviewed on Fox News these days. Herbert writes,

The true extent of the economic devastation, and the enormous size of that portion of the population that is being left behind, has not yet been properly acknowledged. What is being allowed to happen to those being pushed out or left out of the American mainstream is the most important and potentially most dangerous issue facing the country.

I don’t think “make everybody hurt” is the proper response to that issue. And you’ll notice that most of the people, like David Brooks, who are extolling the virtues of “hurting” don’t seem to be hurting themselves.

This is a dangerous issue, and it’s a dangerous game the puppet masters are playing. Unfortunately, too many of the peasants suffer Stockholm Syndrome and would rather defend Marie Antoinette than storm the Bastille.

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