Bad optics

In political debates, emotion trumps intellect. If your side can offer evidence that evokes an immediate visceral response in the audience, you win. That’s why a “picture is worth a thousand words.”

The best arguments are emotionally powerful but also supported by logic and reason. A good example of this is the Civil Rights Movement. Strong arguments for freedom and equality were teamed with powerful images of lynchings and non-violent protesters being beaten.

Conversely, strong intellectual arguments can be easily undermined by images of something that resonates emotionally, like an antiwar protest featuring some yahoo burning an American flag. Ideally you don’t want the visuals to detract from or confuse the message. When that happens you have “bad optics.”

What’s going on in Wisconsin is filled with bad optics for the Democrats and the teachers unions.

First of all is the basic cause. The Cheesehead teachers are pissed about the deal the new Republican governor is trying to force down their throats. They would have to take a cut in pay, plus pay more for their retirement and health insurance. But the teachers have a PATCO problem:

Walker, you might have heard, wants some changes in how Wisconsin deals with unions. He wants state employees to pay 5.8% of their salaries toward their pensions (they pay almost nothing now) and he wants them to cover 12.6% of their health care premiums (their share would go up from $79 a month to about $200; the average private-sector sap pays about $330).

It’s really hard to get the proles to rally to your cause when the deal you are rejecting would leave you are better off than the proles. It is even harder when the proles pay your salary.

That brings us to the second problem. This is a government employees union. Not everyone sees them in quite the same light that they see a traditional union. Even FDR saw them differently:

“The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, “I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place” in the public sector. “A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government.”

Wisconsin, like many states, prohibits government workers from striking. So the teachers have been calling in sick. But whether it’s a strike or a sick-out, how does that look to someone who wants their kids educated and who has to scramble to find day care because their kids’ school is closed?

How clueless are some people on our side? Check out Karoli at Crooks and Liars:

Wisconsin Protesters Breitbarted Over Bogus Teachers’ Excuses

Fox News broke this bulletin about an hour ago. It stems from a video posted by the MacIver Institute Wisconsin alleging that a doctor is signing bogus excuses for teachers protesting in Madison. Because it is illegal for teachers to strike, they called in sick and have been told they will have to produce a valid doctors excuse in order to be excused for their absences.

So isn’t it interesting that a right-wing organization would produce a news report saying such excuses are fabricated? Usually, the way this works is that part of the final negotiation also forgives the days missed for protests, by the way, so this is ginned up nonsense from the start.

Shorter karoli: “Forget about the fact that there actually are some doctors handing out bogus excuses, the important thing is THE PEOPLE WHO ARE REPORTING IT ARE RIGHT-WINGERS!”

Then there is a basic structural problem. Right now the protesters are screaming about democracy and calling the governor a dictator, but the fact is that the Democratic legislators are on the lam, hiding out in Illinois to prevent a quorum. If they aren’t present there can’t be a vote.

So the minority is trying to prevent a vote so they won’t lose. That doesn’t seem very democratic, does it?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m sympathetic with the union. But I’m watching this and thinking “You guys are screwing this up.”

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420 Responses to Bad optics

  1. myiq2xu says:

    Why not?:

    Florida threatens to shred 2012 calendar

    A deepening standoff between national Republicans and top party leaders in Florida has the potential to blow up the 2012 presidential primary calendar — and do lasting damage to the GOP in the nation’s largest swing state.

    At issue is the early date of Florida’s presidential primary election, currently set for Jan. 31, 2012. As of right now, it’s the first primary scheduled.

    That’s in blatant violation of Republican and Democratic National Committee rules, which say only four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – can hold primary elections before the beginning of March.

    They should strip Florida of its delegates. That worked out really well for the Democrats in 2008.

  2. myiq2xu says:

    How to make yourself look like a putz:

    • DeniseVB says:

      Don’t we all hope that guy and some of those sign holders are NOT teachers 😀

    • WMCB says:

      That same reporter later interviewed and young high school student who very calmly explained his support for the protest. See, that’s how its done. Unfortunately there are more clips of mindless screeching at reporters than of reason.

      • Valissa says:

        Mindless screeching is more entertaining and less threatening than reasoning and thinking about things more realistically.

    • Valissa says:

      yeah, screaming “Fox lies!” over and over again in an angry and desparate sounding voice is really going to get people on your side and get them to take you seriously (/snark)… esp. all those Fox news watchers out there.

    • 1539days says:

      Remember when CNN’s Susan Roesgen went to a Tea Party rally, chose the guy with the most outrageous sign and then berated him with the argument that Obama was actually giving him a tax cut?

      She’s not working for CNN anymore. Don’t argue with protesters. Report the news.

    • Valhalla says:

      Well to be fair, the other element the protesters don’t have any control over is which optics the media will pick up on. Any event as big as this inevitably produces some bad moments, and the media pick on the most dramatic and the ones that most support whatever the corporate overlords want to propagate.

      Calm, reasonable-sounding comments from participants seldom make the list.

      That doesn’t excuse Dems from their bad optics practices (although I rather disagree about the protesters in WI), but I suspect that often the bad optics from many Dems are a combination of ingrained obtuseness about their base/former base/potential supporters not in the 1%, and the fact that they really don’t support most of the things they say they support. Otherwise, we’d have gotten WAY better optics from the WH on action on unemployment (not better action mind, just better optics).

      • the other element the protesters don’t have any control over is which optics the media will pick up on. Any event as big as this inevitably produces some bad moments, and the media pick on the most dramatic and the ones that most support whatever the corporate overlords want to propagate.

        Right. Or which aspect of the situation the media and other opinion makers want to emphasize, such as the Dems’ ‘flight.’

      • Mary says:

        “”The other element the protesters don’t have any control over is which optics the media will pick up on.”

        Exactly the way Tea Partiers felt.

        And MSNBC ran with it, anyway.

        Goes around, comes around. No whining allowed.

        • Valhalla says:

          Well I</i wasn't whining, just pointing it out. And it's a bit silly to go with the "two wrongs make a right" tack.

          I've long thought that the MSM, and not just MSNBC went for the most outrageous optics of Tea Partiers (the loudest, craziest-seeming, or most “racist”-seeming signage and so on). It’s all part of what votermom coined as “strategic hate management”.. They do it to both sides, so we’ll hammer on each other and not notice it’s the elites at the top of the pyramid who are the only ones benefiting.

          There is definitely more than one part to optics — the part a group can control, and the part they can’t. Doesn’t matter what the group is, because regardless who, you should always ask who’s editing the optics and what their agenda is, before swallowing wholesale anything that comes up on the screen.

        • They do it to both sides, so we’ll hammer on each other and not notice it’s the elites at the top of the pyramid who are the only ones benefiting.

          Oh, good point! And also to sell newspapers, er, clicks, of course.

          Doesn’t matter what the group is, because regardless who, you should always ask who’s editing the optics and what their agenda is, before swallowing wholesale anything that comes up on the screen.

          Honk, honk, HONK!

  3. Valissa says:

    Great post! I used to have a hard time understanding why the Dems so consistently have problems with “bad optics.” After all the Dems have the same access to and need for professional propagandists that the Repubs do. You can’t even be in high level politics anymore without PR consultants and advisors to help sell the candidate to the public. AND books have been written about why the Dems have been ineffective in their messaging due to lack of proper emotional buttressing of intellectual arguments. So the Dems surely know they have this problem, and they have clearly chosen NOT to solve it.

    Yet their answer in the end is to act more like Republicans rather than creating their own positive propaganda, or even better creating real solutions and using positive propaganda to sell them to the public. This is one of many reasons that I decided the Dems are useless as real representatives of the people, because the Dems suck up to power and $$ just as much as the Repubs do, and they all support the establishment group think… with a little Dem frosting here and a little Repub frosting there.

  4. WMCB says:

    Yeah, the protestors are making themselves look like asses. Agree with them or not, they are not endearing themselves to the public.

    Besides the fake doctor notes, the hitler hyperbole, etc, there was a guy arrested trying to rip out the wires of the counter-protest’s sound system, and the worst was the guy carrying the sign that said:

    “If teabaggers are as hot as their FOX news anchors, then I’m here for the gang bang

    Lovely. Way to win over the public to your cause.

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey had a good analysis of “the message” being perceived by the public…..with photos…

    • Valissa says:

      Wow, comparing Walker to Hitler… Godwin’s Law and all that. That’s SOOOOO gonna convince onlookers that Walker is eeeeevilllllll. IMO, the old Hitler comparison is getting old indeed, and only makes people look lame and uninspired for bringing it up.

      I think most people realize that the protesters simply don’t want to have to pay more for their benefits… and really who would if they had a choice? But state budgets are really in trouble and they gotta do something.

      • jjmtacoma says:

        THAT is exactly what people understand.

        The people completely miss the part where Walker is eliminating collective bargaining and limiting future pay increases by a legislative move that sidesteps the union. Oh, and they will have to pay more for benefits – but I’m pretty sure that could have been at least approached through a normal process.

        Clearly, Walker holds the upper hand and could have forced the union to do almost anything or face legislative action.

        Bad optics, indeed! The more off topic this protest gets and the more the focus is on how they are fighting to keep the benefits and pay, the worse it will be and support will melt.

        This isn’t just teachers but they have the strongest union of the public employees.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          to be more accurate: He isn’t completely eliminating collective bargaining but he is limiting it to salary increases and has the salary increase percentage set anyway. They are also setting it up so unions have to be voted in (annually? I forget the specifics here) and some other measures that will make thing very hard for all the unions who cover public employees.

        • And where do we get the optics? From the Corporate Media.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Exactly. Nice, isn’t it?

          Of course, there is always MSNBC, but sadly, they can’t seem to get their facts straight in their faux-rage.

        • myiq2xu says:

          And where do we get the optics? From the Corporate Media.

          I’m not watching the corporate media. I’m watching the prog blogs.

        • ralphb says:

          Here’s something I saw last night which I found interesting. They only got the collective bargaining rights in 2009 by a bill pushed through by Democrats. Walker’s bill takes it back to where it was, with the exception of making WI a right to work state with yearly union elections.

          If that is really true, and I am not sure, then it puts a different face on the whole matter.

        • 1539days says:

          It also puts the lie to all the Democrats talking about collective bargaining being a right of public employees for 50 years.

          50 years for some, but not in Wisconsin.

        • ralphb says:

          Federal employees don’t have collective bargaining rights, do they?

        • So where are the prog blogs getting their optics?
          MSM, I bet.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          Walker is not eliminating collective bargaining. He’s curbing it. What he’s proposed is eliminating collective bargaining for benefits. Unions can still bargain for wages, but they must get special permission from the taxpayers in the form of a referendum to bargain higher than the Consumer Price Index level of growth. So there’s a cap on their bargaining. That sounds reasonable to me.

        • WMCB says:

          @ ralphb, another thing not being addressed is that WI has some of the strictest and most protective civil service laws in the nation re: their rights, working conditions, firing offenses, etc. So part of the argument is that they are already protected in those areas. The collective bargaining remains re: wages, but has an inflation cap.

          Also, the bill does still allow for changes, but the politicians alone cannot approve the result – it would have to be put to a public referendum. So I’m unsure how giving the voters more say in how their dollars are spent counts as somehow un-democratic, which is how the left is trying to portray it.

          Is it a good bill? Maybe not. It could likely be better. But I honestly don’t think it’s as draconian as the union is making it out to be, either.

          Public unions are a much stickier situation than trade/labor unions, because the employer is the public at large, and those employees are an arm of the govt that is supposed to be accountable to the people. Labor unions provide a needed balance because of the inherent adversarial relationship between profit-driven business and the workers. I am not sure how an adversarial relationship between the voters and their own govt is supposed to work. It’s not the same thing.

        • sandress says:

          Thank you for keeping us on topic. I’m sick of this “ungrateful teachers” meme.

  6. WMCB says:

    I’m curious to see polls come out, as I’m sure they will, regarding how the public is viewing all this. But I think myiq is right, and it’s not good.

    I don’t know how much of Obama’s drop is related, but he is dropping like a stone in the past few days.

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18

    Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove. (-10 overall approval

    That’s down 8 points in the approval index since Monday.

    • Valissa says:

      I’m wondering if that puts his rating back to where it was before the Nov shellacking… which was followed by a busy end of 2010 lame duck congrees that gave Obama a ratings boost.

      • WMCB says:

        I think some of this is his nothing-burger budget as well.

        My theory is that when Obama lays low for awhile, doing nothing but ceremonial crap (which he did for some time after November), his ratings go up. The moment he has to step into the spotlight to do/say anything important, the public is reminded what a failure he is.

        If you watch the trends, that is pretty consistent.

        • myiq2xu says:

          The less they see him, the more they like him.

        • WMCB says:

          Yup. It’s the opposite of what happened with Hillary. In her case, the “smoke and mirrors” was the negative perception that got blown away the more people saw and heard her at length. Obama’s smoke and mirrors are his positive perception, which gets blown away when reality intrudes.

        • Valissa says:

          Here’s the Rasmussen link

          For Feb 20…

          For most of 2010, more than 40% of voters voiced Strong Disapproval of the president. However, following his December agreement with Senate Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts, the level of Strong Disapproval had declined.

          I think getting the START treaty approved helped Obama temporarily as well. But despite all his supposed “charisma” Obama doesn’t seem to be winning friends and losing enemies… instead he’s managing to lose friends and win enemies… yup, he has a gift all right. So much for the “new Coke.”

        • ralphb says:

          I agree his nothing burger budget, and it got panned by everyone, is a bigger reason for the drop than this WI mess. The WI mess will hurt though once more people know he’s involved.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Leadership is perception too. The ME is in chaos, Mad Town is imploding and he’s off coaching his daughter’s Bball team while she’s with mom and sis at a 5-star resort in Vail for the weekend.

      Makes me go huh?

  7. Valissa says:

    “It’s the opposite of what happened with Hillary.”


  8. yttik says:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with Dems, the left, fauxgressives right now, but the reason they’re losing the debate is quite simple, it’s because they’re so damn obnoxious. Less than half the people in the country now support unions. The number of people who support choice has also plunged.

    Imagine if the civil rights movement had come out and declared, we’re right and you’re all a bunch of stupid, ignorant, Fox news watching, bigoted racists. The response would have been totally different because they would have lost the moral upper hand. People would have been resistant immediately and turned off everything they had to say. Yes, they were right, yes people were racists, but bashing people over the head with that attitude is not how you win social change.

    • Mary says:

      Agree with your larger premise, but not with “yes people were racists.”

      It’s been amusing to watch the MSNBC reporting in terms of the difference in how they covered the Tea Party rallies and the Union rallies. Both had Hitler signs, both are a “predominantly white” group, both were “screaming” incoherently, both seem rabid and angry.

      And yet, one gets labeled uneducated, racist, ignorant, violent.

      The other does not. In fact, they are “freedom fighters,” with a President who publicly supports them.

      If you think the American people can’t see that on their own, you underestimate the American people.

      And the Obama DNC/OFA will pay for it, in the next election.

      Sad, but true.

      • ralphb says:

        I think yttik was talking about the civil rights movement of the 60s and many people were racists.

        • 1539days says:

          Most people weren’t racists. they just didn’t want to make waves. That’s the point of those civil rights protestors. When those people started making the waves, people who were afraid to do anything about it could go to the voting booth and make right decisions.

        • ralphb says:

          There is a lot of truth in that. I was in my teens during the civil rights movement, though not in old Dixie. Lots of minds were changed very quickly by the peaceful protests and the magnificent dignity and example of people like MLK and John Lewis.

      • Mr. Mike says:

        And the Obama DNC/OFA will pay for it, in the next election.

        Sad, but true.

        Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be sad if the Dems lost big time. True, the republicans will stink up the joint but at this point Dems need to be reminded just who they are working for. It ain’t Wall Street.

  9. myiq2xu says:

    WTF? From Alternet:

    Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Show Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers’ Uprising

    So there is a picture of some guy supposedly in Tahrir Square holding up a sign written in English that says “Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers”

    Some people are getting a little full of themselves here. The protesters in Madison are not freedom fighters and I seriously doubt the people in Egypt are following the protests in Cheeseland.

    • ralphb says:

      Heh. That’s funny. So is the irony of Frank Rich griping about GOP incivility while the Cheezdoodles compare Scott Walker to Hitler.

    • Valissa says:

      But It makes great NARRATIVE… victims of opppression unite and all that stuff… solidarity based on abstracted (non-reality based) idealism. That will surely help the world be a “better place” (/snark).

    • The Egyptian protestors didn’t begin as freedom fighters either.

      • myiq2xu says:

        Oh puh-leeze.

        Before we get all misty-eyed over Egypt let’s not forget that those freedom fighters in Cairo are the same ones that raped Lara Logan.

        Notice how the left dropped that story like a hot potato?

        • WMCB says:

          I take the “hope for the best and wait and see” position re: Egypt. I am old enough to remember the NYT hailing the Ayatollah Khomeini as the new Ghandi.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Revolutions are like baseball trades. You really can’t judge them for 5-10 years.

        • WMCB says:

          The left will cheer if all the men get freedom and democracy and opportunities. That will be mission accomplished. What happens to the women of the country is really irrelevant to most of them.

          The silence from the left over what routinely happens to women in Muslim countries is deafening. Imagine if not one, but many countries existed today where apartheid was accepted.

          Where a black man was not allowed to drive, was not allowed to leave his home without being accompanied by a white man – at risk of being assaulted on the street or jailed if he did. Where black men had to cover their bodies so no one had to look upon their blackness. Countries where black men were forbidden education, or perhaps were all castrated as children to put a lid on their impure desires.

          The world would be outraged, and would not rest til it stopped. Hollywood would be ballistic. The UN would be apoplectic. Sanctions and a fight to end the atrocities would be the cause celebre of the day.

          But….. it’s just women. So let’s be “culturally sensitive” to degradation and slavery. So no one gives a fuck.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Bangladeshi Rape Victim Flogged To Death

          Hena Begum, a 14-year-old old Bangladeshi girl, was publicly flogged recently in Shariatpur, 35 miles outside of the capital, Dhaka after being accused of having an affair with her 40-year-old old married cousin. According to the BBC, a village court made up of Islamic clerics and elders sentenced Begum to 100 lashes under Islamic Sharia law. The girl lost consciousness after 80 lashes and her family, who were also ordered to pay 50,000 taka (approximately $700), took her to the hospital where she died six days later.

        • ralphb says:

          wmcb. Guess no one wants to be labeled an Islamophobe. The new and improved race card.

        • 1539days says:

          That’s racist. You know that councils of priests execute 14 year olds every day in the world.


        • A lot of people were present that night. Not just ‘freedom fighters’ but also those who had supported Mubarak, and non-political local hoodlums.

        • Here’s more detail on the crowd present in the square at the time of the attack on Logan.

          as it grew dark and a younger, rowdier element arrived in the square, that the mood shifted to a more sinister undercurrent.
          These teenagers behaved like football hooligans, charging around in long conga lines.

    • Point is, the protests in Egypt and elsewhere began as protests against bad economic conditions and government economic policies. As with the Wisconsin protests: salaries, benefits, jobs, stuff like that. Same global economic situation may be causing the pinch worldwide.

  10. helenk says:

    Stats like this do not help. Most people are having to tighten their belts. Now here is a government union that says “Not Us”. Their job is to teach kids but many of the kids coming out of their classes are not fit for military duty or to hold a decent job if they can get one. That is just not right.



  11. myiq2xu says:

    I missed this last week:

    President Obama recounts an anecdote about the 2004 Democratic National Convention at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ final press briefing:

    “The most challenging problem was what tie to wear. And this went up to the very last minute. I mean, 10 minutes before we were about to go on stage we were still having an argument about ties. I had bought five, six ties. And Michelle didn’t like any of them, Axelrod didn’t like a couple of them — him being one of the best dressed men in the world. So we really valued his opinion.

    “And then somebody — I don’t remember who it was — turned and said, ‘You know what? What about Gibbs’ tie? What about Gibbs’ tie? That might look good.’ And, frankly, Robert didn’t want to give it up because he thought he looked really good in the tie. But eventually he was willing to take one for the gipper, and so he took off his tie, and I put it on. And that’s the tie that I wore at the national convention.”

    What a dumbfuck. You “take one for the team” and “win one for the Gipper.”

  12. Rangoon78 says:

    The negative perception of public workers is a long held view in America. In my thirty years as a firefighter I always heard what a soft, overpaid job I had. In the early days the ribbing was often good natured, but as good (union) jobs started to disappear the vitriol increased. Movies like “Waiting for Superman,” which perpetuates the myth of the overpaid, incompetent, unaccountable teacher, came just in time poison the waters in my second career. As I await another round of layoff and pay cuts, I too wish we had better optics.

    • myiq2xu says:

      People value firefighters, teachers and cops. But since 1960 traditional unions have been dying out while public employee unions have been growing.

      Many people are jealous of government workers – they perceive that government workers get paid better than private sector workers. Often that perception is correct.

      Like I said up above:

      It’s really hard to get the proles to rally to your cause when the deal you are rejecting would leave you are better off than the proles. It is even harder when the proles pay your salary.

      • Rangoon78 says:

        “the deal you are rejecting would leave you are better off than the proles”

        The proles who, through neoliberal globalization, must compete for fewer, shittier jobs with lower pay, and worse conditions (the lucky ones several of these.)

        Snowball in hell’s chance for solidarity!

        Thank God I’m too old to really give a shit anymore.

      • Valhalla says:

        Well, I don’t think that’s really true. What Dems have failed to point out is that 1) if you’re badly off, making others worse off isn’t going to help you; 2) strong unions raise wages and working conditions even for non-union employees; 3) it’s not that public employees’ deals got so much better it’s that everyone else’s deals got so much worse; 4) unions didn’t just “die out”, Reagan sucked the life out of them by seriously limiting their powers (I don’t just mean the air traffic strike-busting, but through f*cking around with NLRB regs, which no one seems to remember).

        Granted, some unions have done themselves no favors by failing to be responsive to their memberships (inter alia), but if you follow it through, does anyone really think they’re better off negotiating as an individual against corporations (which are really just unions for the soul-sucking vampire squid by another name) or the government (ditto)?

        As for the democracy angle — well, all the Dems who fled will be up for re-election, won’t they? If the voters of WI have a problem with them, they can vote them out.

        • Mary says:

          Here’s another democracy angle:

          There are many Wisconsin teachers who resent union dues automatically being deducted from their paychecks , without being given a choice.

          Walker wants to make the unions have to re-recruit members each year (thereby giving teachers or public employees the right NOT to join if they so choose), and making the unions collect the dues themselves (through a written check) instead of the state doing it for them.

          That sounds fair to me. Just sayin.

        • “Walker wants to make the unions have to re-recruit members each year (thereby giving teachers or public employees the right NOT to join if they so choose), and making the unions collect the dues themselves ”

          Good idea. Aka “right to work”?

        • Mary says:

          Well, no, bemused.

          It’s the Right to CHOOSE, for each and every teacher employed by the state of Wisconsin.

          You’re against that?

        • Valhalla says:

          Well, the fairness problem is a bit more complicated than that. Unions can only be effective if they have a minimum membership. Sort of like herd immunity.

          Teachers who choose not to be in the unions still benefit from higher wages/benefits/other benefits of collective bargaining, because policies negotiated by unions apply to schools generally, which is also not fair to those who do pay dues. It’s similar to why we don’t let people choose whether to pay taxes. (well, we let corporations choose to not pay, but I mean in principle).

          If anyone thinks that there wouldn’t be a race to the bottom if Walker succeeds in busting WI’s public unions, in everything — wages, hours, benefits — they’re dreaming. The idea that Repulicans dislike unions alone, and not the have-nots across the board, is crazy. Busting unions is just the first step, because they are the largest and most visible obstacle to cramming “the rest of us” down Maslow’s hierarchy.

        • “Unions can only be effective if they have a minimum membership. ”

          True. But unions will only have the right effects, if workers can choose whether or not to join or support them.

          There’s a middle way. Neighbors talking directly to each other, at leisure, can find it.

        • Mary, “right to work” laws might be better described as “right to choose whether to join a union.” See

        • Valhalla says:

          “Neighbors talking directly to each other, at leisure, can find it.”

          Historically, not really true. We’ve gone way past the days of small industries run by locals and neighbors who have some sort of community or personal investment in the success of the same.

          The other element of democracy anti-union folks are forgetting (or neglecting) is that in most unions, union leaders are elected. As far as I can tell, that’s true for WI teachers’ union. It really is similar to the government — there may be corruption in government, and the government may do bad things, but the alternative — getting rid of government altogether — is far worse, and the worser part is heavily weighted against those outside the 1%.

          While you personally may be better off (which as far as I can tell is pretty much what libertarianism is built on, f*ck you, I’ve got mine), most people would not be. Individuals trying to stand up for themselves have collective action obstacles which governments and corporations do not (as by definition, they already have the collective part).

          I don’t know the gritty details of the WI unions, but I do know from my labor law class that unions are required to have not only elections but no-confidence mechanisms in their bylaws. There ARE other mechanisms out their to reform unions, if they are as hideous bad as people are claiming, to change them. Again, the idea that Walker is some sort of democratic hero just trying to freedom-fight against the meanie teachers’ union in WI is ridiculous.

        • sandress says:

          WORD WORD WORD. You WIN.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Mary, I don’t know of any WI teachers who choose not to take advantage of the rights that have been negotiated for them by the union. If they are so hell-bent to be free of unionism nearly every community has a private school which would be happy to hire them at a lower rate of pay.

      • okasha skatsi says:

        It’s also correct that those public workers frequently work harder for that pay than private sector emploees. Teachers, from kinder to grad school. routinely work 60+-hour weeks, with no overtime or comp time. Firefighters and police risk their lives–and save civilians’–daily. Public health workers routinely take risks that your suburban office commuter has never been, and probably will never be, exposed to.

        Nobody gets rich doing any of these jobs. In fact, they’re all traditional vectors up from poverty to middle class. Public workers are “proles. Making a distinction between them and “the proles” is a divide and conquer tactic of the right.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Making a distinction between them and “the proles” is a divide and conquer tactic of the right.

          We don’t play the “ZOMG! That’s a right-wing trope!” game around here.

        • Mary says:

          See Somerby for all the false/confused MSNBC union-supporting reporting that creates a DIVIDE AND CONQUER tactic of the LEFT.

          PolitiFact is full of corrections on Maddow and Ed’s completely false claims.

          Goes both ways. Don’t be fooled.

        • 1539days says:

          60 hours a week for 36 weeks. That comes out the same as a 52 week a year employee doing 41 hours a week.

        • WMCB says:

          Lots of private sector employees do work at home, and sit up in the evening “off the clock” working on presentations or projects or paperwork or whatever. Tons of them. This is not something that is unique to teachers.

        • myiq2xu says:

          I’m not saying teachers and other government employees don’t work hard for their money. They work hard, but so do private sector workers.

          That’s not the issue.

        • okasha skatsi says:

          it’s not “a right-wing trope.” It’s history. It’s been employed against every single civil-rights movement of the twentieth century, from labor union organizing to MLK’s marches to feminism, to the gay rights movement. “Those people, whoever “those people” may be aren’t like “us”–“us” being “normal” Americans, whether “normal” is defined as white, or straight, or male–or in this case, conservative.

          Don’t know about you, but I’ve been around long enough and involved in enough of those movements, to recognize the squelching tactics when I see them. Yet another is the portrayal of protestors as “mindless screechers” who are only doing their cause harm by demonstrating for their rights instead of sitting quietly with their hands folded and waiting for the majority to “give” them those rights.

          And yes, this is a civil rights movement, about the right to a living wage, the right to health care. This seems to be what it takes to get Americans out into the streets to protest the corporate kleptocracy, since the demonstrations in Madison seem to have sparked off similar efforts in other states. Of course it’s got conservatives clutching their pearls and squealing; it’s a direct challenge to the power they’ve enjoyed over the last 10 years.

          And by the way, public employees in Wisconsin make less than the average worker.

        • okasha skatsi says:

          @1539 days–

          Your math is right. Unfortunately, your premise isn’t. At least in my area, public school teachers no longer get 3 months off. Theiir woriking year ends around the middle of June and begins again in early August.


          You’re also right that many private sector employees work at home. Mostly, though, they’re mid-management and above, and compensated accordingly. And even those don’t have to deal with the kinds of stituations that are routinely part of a teacher’s day–little Johnny strolls into the classroom reeking of pot, little Tommy strolls in and kicks over a desk, little Janey shoves the teacher and yells “I’m gonna get you fired!”

          It amazes me that apparently sensible people are jealous, or attempt to stir up jealousy, of dedicated professionals who are willing to put up with this shit because they love seeing kids learn.

        • 1539days says:

          And by the way, public employees in Wisconsin make less than the average worker.

          Not exactly.

          public workers earn 4.8 percent less than private sector employees with the same qualifications and traits doing similar jobs.

          So which apples are they comapring?

          Yet the typical Wisconsin public sector employee with a bachelor’s degree makes less than $62,000, compared to more than $82,000 in the private sector, Pollack said.

          Of course, that includes your average cubicle worker along with teachers and police.

          But that’s not all. This report didn’t actually look at numbers, they made sure to compensate for all kinds of things to make sure the numbers came out right.

          To compare private and public compensation fairly, the Economic Policy Institute took into account not only education but other factors that affect compensation rates, including workplace size, employee experience, hours of work, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability.

        • WMCB says:

          okasha, you may call it stirring up jealousy, but conversely I could call what others do stirring up a sense of victimization that really doesn’t exist.

          Lots of jobs suck. Lots of people have to deal with rude, belligerent assholes at work. Try working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home sometime – I’ll take kicking a desk over having feces thrown at me.

          My point is that it’s not a matter of “jealousy”. It’s a matter of recognizing that teachers, valuable though they are, are not holy self-sacrificial angels who have it so much worse than anyone in the country. And a lot of us are tired of being called “teacher-haters” for not accepting that trope. I’ve raised 4 kids through the public schools in 2 states. I think some teachers are fabulous, and some have no business in the classroom. Teachers are NO DIFFERENT from any other occupation. They run the gamut from dedicated to utter jerks.

        • ralphb says:

          Civil rights movement? Heh.

        • 1539days says:

          My math is dead on. The federal government mandates there be 180 days of instruction per year. Most schools do exactly that much, which adds up to 36 weeks.

          And I’ll add right now that I’m not counting the extra instruction teachers get outside of the classroom. Any salaried employee in the private sector doesn’t get paid extra for that either.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Civil rights movement? Heh.

          Where do I get my government job with pay and benefits?

          It’s my right and and I want it!

        • jjmtacoma says:

          1539 – this is ticky-tack and not objecting or arguing with your opinion… but if you used 52 weeks for a private sector worker, then your math is not correct. Private sector workers at a professional level generally get at least 2 weeks paid vacation and 2 weeks paid holidays, making their weeks of work = 48 max.

        • 1539days says:

          Yeah, I was going to mention that. I did not include teacher paid time off, either. So I think I’m still in the ballpark.

        • okasha skatsi says:

          @1539–Actual teacher contracts in my area are for 10.5 months. On the basis of your math, that still means they work two months for free. Care to try that yourself sometime?

          Re: comparative salaries–I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. Are you assuming that private employers don’t have cubicle workers? As for not considering “actual numbers,’ that’s plain nonsense. What do you think an “actual number” is, if not salary and benefits cost? Are you referring to the fact that they weighted some numbers differently? For instance, that they might have taken into account that a $50,000.00 private salary in an urban area may not go as far as a $38,000.00 salary in a rural town and consequently rated it down a bit? Why is that unfair?

        • okasha skatsi says:

          WCBM–I’d take feces over a knife, any day.

          I’m not talking just about mere assholes, though overpaid administration is where most teahers run into those. I’m talking about situations involving violence and actual physical danger. I’m not a public school teacher, by the way. I have friends, though, who are and who face as much and worse every day. I think they’re saints.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Where do I get my government job with pay and benefits?

          It’s my right and and I want it!

          Take a civil service test and compete for it like everyone else does who has a civil service position. It’s always been your choice.

        • okasha skatsi says:

          @myq–I said a living wage and health care are civil rights. Even so-called “third world” countries manage to do health care better than the good old US does.

          Show me where I said “a government job is a civil right” and I’ll send you a fifth of Johnny Walker.

    • helenk says:

      Our best man when we got married was a Philadelphia fireman. We would tease him about washing his car on our money. He and his brother were both firemen. They had our utmost respect.
      Many times in my job I had to call fire rescue for passengers, they always did their job.
      The nuns taught me in grade school to always pray for the safety of firefighters when the trucks were going by. Over 60 years later I still do that.
      Thank you for your courage and willingness to do a job most people could not do.



    • Valissa says:

      The public does not perceive all public workers as having soft jobs… certainly I don’t know anyone that feels that way about fireman or police. Plus, I think I read recently that something like 70% of firefighters in the US are volunteeer firefighters.

      But anyone who has ever had to deal with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or other state office bureacracies hasn’t seen people working all that hard or fast. Also, I know several people who work for corporations that have large companies and government agencies as clients, and they always notice the more laid back and less motivated/productive attitudes of the government employees (not all are like that, but many are and people notice).

      • Mr. Mike says:

        Funny how the DVM is always held up as the poster child of government inefficiency, obviously none of you have ever been to the Penn Dot facility.

        The other part that people forget is that before they started voting for people who gave Wall Street free reign is that good benefits and pensions made up for the low pay in the public sector.

        That your politicians gutted financial regulations and used the pension money for pork is lost on a lot of you. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if deregulation wouldn’t have wrecked the economy or funds went for WAM’s like it does here in PA.

        • Valissa says:

          Your cause and effect isn’t making sense to me, esp. the “your politicians” line. I don’t think people purposefully voted for politicians who support Wall Street, but rather the increasing importance of $$ to get re-elected is the key here. I also think most people are dimly aware that the politicians have been suckering them about many things, and that our gov’t has become a kleptocracy. Unfortunately the MSM has no interest in covering the items you mentioned in a way that will upset the corporate apple cart.

          From the historical perspective several trends have converged to give us the conditions we have today.

          1. The trend towards politicians having to raise $$ themselves isntead of relying on the party machine. When the parties did more of the fundraising the congress critters were more knowledgeable about governing and policy issues because they had more time to spend on it.

          2. Political campaigns get more and more expensive.

          3. The trend of political ideologies becoming more dominant (over practical solutions) and more polarized.

          4. The increasing percentage of propaganda in the MSM (always been there to some extent but very strong today) means the citizenry is more ignorant today even though there is more info than ever before.

          5. The corporate lobbyists used their congressional connections to weaken or remove the regulations slowly over time, little piece by little piece. This was masterminded purposefully and I don’t think most of the politician’s realized how much they were being played at first.

          6. Our whole culture has become money mad since the ’80s.

          7. The increasing power of the banks and Wall Street relative to other industries.

          8. The increasing power and influence of lobbyists.

          9. The increasing power of the Military-Industrial-Academic-Financial complex.

          In the end, the people are given two bad choices, to vote for the Dem machine or the Repub machine. So, personally I don’t blame the citizenry for what is going on in politics today. The key political games are directed by members of the power elite and always have been. The options available to the average citizen to effect the forces of history are few. This is why many are adopting the “throw the bums out” strategy at each election, kinda hoping one side of the other will figure out that they represent the citizens.

        • votermom says:


          I agree with you; in fact, the USA is feeling more & more like the 3d world country I emigrated from, except with more money. It’s not right vs left so much as money vs moneyless, elite vs rabble.

  13. Otoh, a fire-fighter can’t quit and take a job with the competition.

    • myiq2xu says:

      How many workers have that option?

      (In reality, not in theory)

      • Firefighters don’t have it at all.

        • ralphb says:

          Firefighter can’t move to another town or jurisdiction? Lots of jurisdiction don’t require you live there to be a cop or firefighter, so why not?

        • myiq2xu says:

          I don’t know how things are where you live but around here when they announce that the city is hiring firefighters there will be a couple hundred applicants for a handful of openings. Even after the testing process is completed there will still be at least 5 qualified candidates for each opening.

          In the private sector that would mean a buyer’s market – supply exceeding demand. Wages and benefits would be low.

          In the public sector wages and benefits have little relationship with supply and demand – unless there is a shortage of qualified candidates. Salaries and benefits of government employees go up, never down (until now)

          Businesses consider labor costs in making decision whether to expand, contract, close, relocate, etc. Government doesn’t do that. We need police, fire and schools – profit is not an issue.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Cities don’t hire forty-year-olds as firefighters or police officers.

          This union-busting activity bodes badly for public services in the USA. Why run into a burning building knowing that the people you work for (the public) don’t care enough to give you job security? Why risk being shot when the “public” can have you fired on a whim because your union is so weakened that it can’t fight back when you give the mayor’s son a traffic ticket?

      • JeanLouise says:

        How many burning buildings have you run into?

    • 1539days says:

      There are about 5 fire departments within a half hour of where I live. It’s possible.

  14. helenk says:

    Away from the screaming crowd some conversation going on. Since it is Wisconsin it was over a beer.



    • From
      the day was marked by a surprising civility when the shouting stopped and the one-on-one conversations began.
      Of the estimated 55,000 people attending Saturday’s demonstrations, probably fewer than 5,000 were Tea Party types backing Walker and his fellow Republicans.

      The Dems in hiding are buying time for civil discussion to happen — among neighbors.

      • Mary says:

        The Dems in hiding should have suggested civil discussions to their own people to begin with, rather than Hitler signs and hysteria.

        In other words, lead by example.

        Too late now.

        • The civil discussion is happening now — among neighbors and teachers/parents who meet at protests. But the crazy stuff is what the MSM and other corporate interests choose to circulate.

          If the politicians stay out long enough, the people may come up with solutions and consensus.

        • Mary says:

          Nonsense. The demonstrators already established their “image” with the public. MSM didn’t make them do that. They did it themselves.

          And frankly, I think the doctors at these events giving out fake “sick” papers should lose their medical licenses.

          Unions don’t get special treatment for their own crappy behavior.

        • myiq2xu says:

          The demonstrators already established their “image” with the public.

          I don’t watch/read the MSM and I got most of my initial impressions directly from left-wing blogs.

  15. helenk says:

    This is OT
    a massacre in Libya



  16. ralphb says:

    OT but too good to let go by, con man takes US for more than $20 million.

    Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security

    WASHINGTON — For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dealings with Washington stay secret.

    The Justice Department, which in the last few months has gotten protective orders from two federal judges keeping details of the technology out of court, says it is guarding state secrets that would threaten national security if disclosed. But others involved in the case say that what the government is trying to avoid is public embarrassment over evidence that Mr. Montgomery bamboozled federal officials.

  17. DeniseVB says:

    Maybe the unions should start actually taking care of their members than buying politicians ?

    Union Pensions in the Red
    Labor chiefs are doing better than the workers..

    • The unions need cleaning up, no argument.

    • Mary says:


      This is why FDR was strongly against public employee unionization.

      • JeanLouise says:

        FDR was not a god. Even he was wrong once in awhile. This is one of those times.

        • sandress says:

          I’m with you JeanLouise. He was wrong on this one. The distance between an individual public school teacher and the tax-payer is orders of magnitude bigger than people think. There is a massive gulf between them, and that gulf is what makes collective bargaining necessary.

      • Mary says:

        I think you both misunderstood FDR’s point.

        Unions making politicial contributions to certain Democratic candidates (union bosses making those choices, not the members) creates a environment in which the other taxpayers are exlcuded.

        It’s incestuous, actually, and what you’re seeing now, in the other taxpayers’ reaction to higher-and-higher “paybacks” to unions from the very politicians they finance, is a direct result of years and years of other taxpayers feeling helpless in controlling the bennies.

        Look for sympathy in the dictionary. Between snot and syphillis.

        • Mary says:

          Keep in mind, that the American public is quite aware that most of the waivers for complying with Obamacare have been given , for political purposes, to the Unions, so they don’t have to pay fines on their Cadillac plans.

          Obama needs those votes in 2012.

          And THAT is what FDR had in mind, thank you very much.

        • sandress says:

          I wouldn’t even have noticed this comment, except that you used the term “Cadillac plans” which always gets my dander up. So, now I’m going to do the inconvenient thing and ask WHY, in a country so afraid of socialism because of its supposed intent to drag every one down to the same pathetic level, do people seem so determined to punish the successes?

          I don’t mean that the individuals with “Cadillac Plans” are successful in any way shape or form. But I have extremely good insurance. It covers ambulance rides, and hospital stays, and mental health counseling, and dentistry, and new glasses. It’s GREAT! Almost like living in Canada again! And it’s what I believe that EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN should have access to.

          So why demonize it as being flashy and ostentatious and bourgeois? Why not say “THIS is what we should all have, and we’ll find a way to raise the money because healthcare is a Citizenship Right, not a Consumer Good”?

          Why point at the union employees and say “They make a fair wage! And get time off! And have health benefits! No Fair! I want those, and since I have no faith that I’ll ever get that, you should strip them from those lucky bastards, so that it’s nice and FAIR”? This shit is counter-productive. Raising the standard of living for a few is a FAR CRY from raising the standard of living for everyone. It sure as hell isn’t a solution.

          But neither is bitching about the people who are the only ones left making it in the middle class. If we want to strip benefits from people for the greater good, let’s start with Wall Street and work our way Down. Making more poor people doesn’t make Us any richer, but making the legitimately Rich poorer might.

        • myiq2xu says:

          I like flashy and ostentatious and bourgeois.

    • WMCB says:

      IMO, one of the drawbacks of forced unionization is that the unions have little incentive to serve their members, and become fat and lazy and more concerned with political power for themselves. I mean, if you have a steady stream of employees who have no choice but to join and pay, where’s the downside if you don’t serve them well?

      Most polls show around 60% of union members do not agree at all with their union’s political expenditures and activities. Giving employees a choice also has drawbacks, of course. But the upside is that it would put pressure on the unions to actually do a good job in order to attract members.

      • Valissa says:

        Democracy is a bitch, ain’t it? Giving people choices is dangerous. They might make the “wrong” one.

      • Mary says:

        And frankly, Walker wants to give those teachers the option every year, to choose NOT to join the union.

        That’s a lot more “democratic” than the so-called Democrats supporting the unions.

        • indigogrrl says:

          That’s not true. In so called Right to Work states the union still has to represent the worker who ahs not joined. It’s like saying I don’t want car insurance until I need it. That’s not right or fair.

        • ralphb says:

          The unions do not have to provide services to non-members. Such as legal help, etc. There’s still a reason to join in union.

      • WMCB says:

        Oh, the bill not only would give them the right not to join, it would give them the right to form a different union and join IT, if they so chose.

        Maybe some teachers would like to form a union that better reflected their concerns, and was not beholden to the Democratic power structure. THAT, my friends, is what has the union leaders shaking in their boots – not pay and benefits.

      • JeanLouise says:

        one of the drawbacks of forced unionization is that the unions have little incentive to serve their members, and become fat and lazy and more concerned with political power for themselves. I mean, if you have a steady stream of employees who have no choice but to join and pay, where’s the downside if you don’t serve them well?
        I was a member of a union for over twenty years. I wasn’t always happy with what they did but I knew that my working life was better because the union existed.
        Unions do elect their leaders. If enough members are unhappy with the leaders, they can elect someone else. That happened in my union more than once in the years that I was there.
        Everything was not all hunky-dory. I was also in AFSCME for a couple of years. I found it less responsive to my needs but I was paid well.

        • sandress says:

          Also, oddly, I find myself less concerned about the prospect of a little union-leader complacency than about the prospect of widespread below-living wages and shitty working conditions for a huge chunk of the populace. Call me crazy.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Yeah – Sandress – me too.

          I’ve never been in a union but I did work for a company that had a lot of union members in some trades (machinests, engineers and truck drivers). Those of us not covered by unions always benefitted from things the union won because they didn’t want to tempt the “general office” (computer programmers) to join the engineer’s union.

          The relationship between the unions, the company and non-union workers was tangible. Sometimes, things were “taken away” from the non-union employees as a trial balloon before new contract negotiations with the unions. Then another time when there was a vote to join (or not join) the engineer’s union the company started handing out benefits like candy.

          Very wierd and honestly, one of many reasons I left is the lack of principles guiding decisions around employee treatment.

        • prospect of widespread below-living wages

          Sandress, what makes you think these are the only two options? What about taking off a little of the fat so the unions COULD perform better?

  18. “Egypt supports Wisconson. One world, one pain.”

    That’s what a lot of us have been saying: global economics vs the middle class, worldwide.

  19. Lola-at-Large says:

    Glad you wrote this, myiq. I saw that article at Crooks and Liars last night, and I thought, are you freaking serious? Ad hominem attacks with no logical arguments whatsoever? I almost did a thorough analysis of it last night at my place, but decided that the most important thing about the protests now is how much they are costing compared to how much the original budget bill would have saved.

    It’s another bad optic for unions and their Dem supporters when their temper tantrum costs more than a few simple concessions (which they are beginning to cave to already, btw).

  20. Lola-at-Large says:

    Crap. Two links landed me in Modland. Help, please?

  21. Some links to more views, in or closer to Madison.

  22. Pingback: Bad optics (via The Crawdad Hole) « Almost Verbiage

  23. DeniseVB says:

    Sent to me by a friend in Wisconsin, who has no dog in this fight……though, probably a center right viewpoint:

    • WMCB says:

      On Thursday, legislators were advised to return to their offices and lock their doors. Mobs roamed the halls, banging on the glass of the doors, pounding on the walls. No one could move in the halls or enter or leave the building. The glass of the Supreme Court’s entrance was broken. Legislators were genuinely afraid. Our elected representatives were afraid. In our Capitol.

      A young female reporter trying to get into the Senate chamber struggled to get through the crowd. She arrived disheveled and upset because she had been roughed up as she tried to get through “Bitch-slapped” the mob told her. A senior senator was spat on. A senator and his female staffer struggled to get into the capitol. He was worried about his staffer because the crowd was grabbing at her and pushing her. University Police were two arms lengths away and did nothing. They, of course, are union.

      I actually saw footage of people roaming the halls and pounding on doors and windows, so this rings true to me. And I dare say that most of that was likely done by bussed-in professional union enforcers, not WI teachers. I saw enough during the Dem caucuses to have a very good idea the kind of things that went on.

      Behaving like that does little to advance your cause. The days when union operatives could bully and intimidate are, IMO, over. The people are sick of it, and there are too many cameras around to hide it like they used to.

    • Mary says:

      Great article.

      I read that the Capitol Police advised Walker to shut down the Legislative Session completely—-legislators to their offices, locked doors—-because the Police couldn’t assure their physical safety.

      It’s like the same thugs that invaded the caucuses in the primaries, while Obama floated above it all. Enough of this.

      • WMCB says:

        If the WI teachers were smart, they’d have told their union to keep their damn thugs away and not bus in anyone not local, and keep union personnel (as opposed to just unionized workers) away.

        Nine times out of ten it’s the professional agitators who are causing the bad behavior.

        • Mary says:

          Yep. Too late now, eh?

          Guess The One’s endorsement made them feel bullet proof. Dummies.

        • And would the union bosses have obeyed the members? And did the bosses really not know the kind of reaction this would cause? Cui bono.

          As you’ve said, unions need to be more accountable to their members.

  24. ralphb says:

    Dr Steve Perry visits the town in RI which fired all it’s teachers last year. h/t HotAir

    CNN Video

    They wound up hiring them back and are still massively failing.

    CNN: So in this town where the average income is $22,000 the average teacher is now making $76,000. What are the community members paying for?

    James Parisi: The highest paid teachers are making about $76,000, which frankly I don’t think is enough for the committed professionals that are in that school district.

    CNN: You had a 93% fail rate. That’s undeniable.

    JP: And you think that’s caused by teacher’s actions?

    CNN: Absolutely.

    JP: I don’t think the teachers are responsible.

    The tooth fairy is obviously responsible for this failing school.

    • 1539days says:

      John Stossel used to be a one-man wrecking crew on the education system in this country for ABC. Now he works for Fox Business, where a lot of people feel the same way.

      On ABC in 2006, Stossel did a one-hour special about education in this country called “Stupid In America”. He introduced me and many others to the NYC “rubber rooms” where bad (and possibly indecent) teachers went to collect a check and kept away from students. There was also an example where an 18 year old who read at a 4th grade level improved two grades after a month at the local Sylvan Learning Center.

      The crowning achievement was when he asked teachers’ union reps if $10,000 was a lot to spend per student. That person seemed to think 20k or 30k or more would be better.

    • Valhalla says:

      This seems pretty incomplete. Why did they hire the teachers back? Could they not find anyone else to teach in that town? What are the conditions like they’re teaching under? Central Falls looks like a pretty tough, very poor school district, that has a lot of problems.

      Perry’s falsehood about “the average” salary versus the high end salary’s a pretty big tell in my opinion, of how he’s trying to slant the story. And his response to what CAN be done — nothing! with some vague hand-waving about school choice, is another.

      I’m surprised (or maybe not) that it was a link to a CNN piece, since it read pretty much like a FoxNews one.

      • ralphb says:

        Since you don’t remember this from the national news it made, they hired them back due to threats for suits by both the union and the DOJ.

        I don’t really care what conditions they are teaching under, a 93% failure rate is unacceptable. Teachers are not the only ones who bear responsibility, the parents also bear a lot in case like this, but teachers bear a lot of it.

        Since they didn’t edit out the average/high, I don’t see an attempt to slant anything. He has a point in that when a school is this crappy, burning it might be a good start.

        • Valhalla says:

          Editing out the avg/high thing would have been difficult and awkward, if you watch the clip. You’re obviously granting more good will to this particular guy than is really warranted for any infotainment personality.

          A 93% fail rate (it wasn’t at all clear what that was in reference to — grades, standardized tests, the driving test, what??) means a whole lot of things are probably wrong. The infotainment guy was quite obviously only interested in driving up outrage about teacher’s salaries, and playing ‘gotcha’ a la FoxNews, not getting at any analysis of what would fix this school system, or even making a connection between teachers’ salaries and the fail rate.

          Hammering at the avg school district income (among citizens) in comparison with the teachers may sound like a brilliant “gotcha”, until someone’s smart enough to ask the question, how on earth could making teachers’ salaries low help anything at all? Would anyone seriously hope that their kids would be taught by the people who would work for minimum wage, say? Without benefits?

          Whatever the problems of that schools, teachers definitely and clearly have to be part of the solution. But that is not the point this piece made, and the point it did make (not a very coherent one, thus the vague handwaving) was cr*p.

        • ralphb says:

          You don’t know the guy. He isn’t an infotainment personality. He’s principal of a very successful school.

        • Valhalla says:

          Well then I would have expected a much, much better answer to the question what can be done than “nothing”, eh?

        • ralphb says:

          Eh? No one else has any answers but you want them from people you don’t like? Have you asked anyone else? How would Richard Trumka fix that school, eh?

    • sandress says:

      Because obviously there are only two possible variables: Bad teachers or Tooth Fairy. Bull.

      • Mary says:

        How do you fire a bad union teacher if he/she already has tenure, sandress?

        • sandress says:

          I think you’re laboring under a misapprehension about what Tenure is and is not. Tenured educators lose their jobs all the time.

  25. Valissa says:

    And now for another side of the picture…

    “They get angry when you ask them to think or be creative”… Pa. teacher strikes nerve with ‘lazy whiners’ blog

    A high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia who was suspended for a profanity-laced blog in which she called her young charges “disengaged, lazy whiners” is driving a sensation by daring to ask: Why are today’s students unmotivated — and what’s wrong with calling them out? … “My students are out of control,” Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.” And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — writes: “Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS.” She also comes up with a colorful list of comments that she felt should be available on student report cards. …

    “They get angry when you ask them to think or be creative,” Munroe said of her students in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The students are not being held accountable.” Munroe pointed out that she also said positive things, but she acknowledges that she did write some things out of frustration — and of a feeling that many kids today are being given a free pass at school and at home. “Parents are more trying to be their kids’ friends and less trying to be their parent,” Munroe said, also noting students’ lack of patience. “They want everything right now. They want it yesterday.”

  26. This feels like the health care debate all over again. We’ve got stunningly bad optics from the teachers union side, and a trash the teachers unions from much of the MSM, and crazy talk supposedly supporting the teachers union but doesn’t help from MSNBC, and then no coherent help from the Dems or the prog blogs. It’s as if it’s a big game to make big changes to the system, most likely for the worse. What’s clearly missing from the discussion are better fix options, like how single payer was not really discussed during the HCR bill debate. Just my gut feeling.

    Watch for a new education bill, written by people who run private, religious schools perhaps? And the joke would be the Repubs would pretend to hate it and the Dems would love it. Sounds about right in this upside down world.

    • Right. Except Obamacare had a pretense of debate.

      • Valissa says:

        A real honest-to-god debate about facts and policy?in today’s political environment? yeah, right… It looked to me more like variations on this theme…

        It’s a great bill that will benefit America.


        It’s a terrible bill that will ruin America.

        Now there’s a conversation (NOT!)

        • In “vote the bill this week!” that’s all there is time for — as in the campaigns that elected these guys.

          But if the Dem legislators stay away, delaying the vote, then there is time for the actual voters and their kid’s teachers to get together privately for something constructive.

        • ralphb says:

          The guy ran for governor talking about this bill specifically and what he wanted to do with the unions. Voters in WI voted for it. That’s a pretty good referendum.

        • Valissa says:

          You are correct Ralph. I was referring to the Health care bill and other recent bills passed by the national legislature, not the Wisconsin situation.

          Walker’s whole history points to him taking this political position and he ran for guv on it and won. Also he explained his position and reasoning behind it.

        • Valissa, as with UHC, this is a very complicated matter. The details can’t be handled in a campaign. (And some people may have voted for Walker to punish the Dimocrats, not because they knew or cared about the union issue.)

          Details ( and the likely REAL effect of the bill, intended or not) need either a long honest debate by legislators before passage — OR time for the parents and teachers to work it out themselves.

        • Valissa says:

          Agreed, of course!

        • Valissa says:

          however… “a long honest debate by legislators” is a great ideal, but sadly not how most things are done in today’s world and probably not a realistic expectation.

        • But a long honest debate by families and teachers CAN happen — as long as the legislators stay out of state. 😉

        • Valissa, one last point. As a non-WI, the “right to work” parts of Walker’s bill look good to me. My objection is — what’s the bloody damn hurry, why ram this through? The haste is causing bad feeling among a lot of teachers. Why not take a more normal pace, and clear the confusion, educate the opponents?

          This haste is adding insult to injury, and makes the whole thing look suspicious. What’s really hidden in the fine print, if they’re not giving the Democrats or the voters time to really examine the bill and discuss the details?

          What’s the damn HURRY?

        • Valissa says:

          Good points. One could ask the same question about the health care bill. Often the answer has something to do with “follow the money”! Or maybe it’s just about political ego. Politics is not a rational sport.

          Personally speaking, I am a non-partisan historical observer and don’t have any expectations ( or attachments to outcomes)… just watching the show unfold as historical trends play out. Unions have been trending downward for quite some time. Will be interesting to see what happens to people’s ideas and beliefs about unions and collective bargaining as some type of “right.” Perhaps some new type of worker rights organization will emerge if the old structures no longer serve.

  27. Do you think the campaign of 2008 was a pretty good referendum on Obamacare?

    • Mary says:

      No, but 2010 was. The voters spoke loudly.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Exactly Mary. And I think that’s why Wisconsinstan is ground zero for the unions right now. Perhaps Walker looked like an easy target?

        The wave started with Scott Brown’s special election, then the Gov’s McDonnell (VA) and Christie(NJ)……Nov2010 was the countdown to 2012, and Team Obama knows that.

      • For Walker — or against Obama?

        • Mary says:

          Both. Resoundingly.

        • @Mary, on February 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

          Not necessarily. Some voters went for Scott Brown to punish Coakley, not because they liked the Tea Party. Might have been the same in WI: some going for Walker to punish Obama, not because they liked Walker’s union policy.

        • Mary says:

          I never mentioned Tea Parties.

          I’ll just repeat what Ralph said, paraphrased:

          Scott Walker RAN on this platform, openly.
          The VOTERS of Wisconsin elected him with a large majority. This is what they CHOSE, for whatever individual reason it may be.

          That’s how our democracy works.

  28. imustprotest says:

    OT: Here’s a blast from the past….or a gush from the past. Remember the BP oil spill that was cleaned up by those miracle microbes????

  29. DeniseVB says:

    Hey kids, what a great “converstation” today, whew, I’m exhausted.

    Government/shovernment, makes me feel better my only worry in the past 60+ years was my granddad, dad and husband came home from “deployments” and “wars” alive.

    Now let’s fix the U.S. ^5

  30. JeanLouise says:

    From the Facebook page of a teacher friend.
    Thought I could put something in perspective to show its not about the money
    Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

    South Caro…lina -50th
    North Carolina -49th
    Georgia -48th
    Texas -47th
    Virginia -44th

    WI ranked 2nd in 2010 in combined ACT/SATSee***********************

    • Funnily enough, the people at SAT say something quite different. First and foremost they say you can’t rank by state just by score because generally the more a state participates, they lower their score will be. You’d have to do much more complex statistical analysis to arrive at any sort of reasonable comparison. Ironically you’d have to misunderstand statistics to make the point this teacher is making.

      • Also ACT is pretty unused by most schools, so that’s telling right there. But leaving that aside, here’s the SAT scores and more importantly participation by state from a few years ago (I’ll try to find newer):

        Notice how WI is one of the lowest participating among the 50 states.

        • SHV says:

          If someone has a reference for ACT/SAT rankings it would be interesting. Just looking at the raw data and rankings, it isn’t obvious. Iowa has the highest SATs but participation is low because it’s an “ACT” state, as an example. East, West coast and Texas are SAT, rest of the country is ACT. There is also a big debate about which test is “harder” and how scores compare. So:

          “You’d have to do much more complex statistical analysis to arrive at any sort of reasonable comparison. Ironically you’d have to misunderstand statistics to make the point this teacher is making.”

    • Here’s an up to date average SAT score by state:

      Here’s a summary, ranking of the top 12 SAT states, for you. Notice that two of those bad states are in that top 12.

      New Hampshire
      New Jersey
      North Carolina

      Of course the important thing to notice is the participation levels, as those will skew the average score higher for obvious reasons. Here’s a quote from the site about this issue:

      When collectively ranking high school graduates from each state by average SAT scores, it is necessary to distinguish between “SAT States” and “ACT States.” Simply put, SAT States are those where most college-bound students take the SAT, whereas ACT States are those where the majority of students sit for the ACT, a competing exam. This distinction is important because students in ACT States who take the SAT tend to be the top students in their states: students likely to apply to the nation’s most selective colleges, many of which are located in SAT states and whose applicants traditionally submit SAT results. Consequently, average SAT scores in ACT States tend to be inflated due to low participation rates. As explained by The College Board: “Typically, [SAT] test-takers in [ACT] states have strong academic backgrounds and apply to the nation’s most selective colleges …. For these states, it is expected that … SAT scores … will be higher than the national average.”

      Facts and getting statistics right can be stubborn things.

      • I knew something was fishy about the above teachers list just from seeing NC as 49th given the extremely high quality and ranking of colleges/universities and research facilities in that state.

        That’s exactly the kind of misinformation and twisting of the truth that does them harm. They look like complete morons. And something tells me they’re not winning the hearts and minds of people from those states. Which given VA and NC voted for Obama/Dems, makes them look extra stupid.

    • Here’s another find. This article debunks that and looks for the actual stats. He’s behind one year in some scores, but it’s still good work. There are some really good comments with other good references too.

      One comment by Ann Moore referenced a WaPo blog article with the following:

      There are some 10 states in which there are virtually no legally binding K-12 teacher contracts at all (there are none in AL, AZ, GA, MS, NC, SC, TX, and VA; there is only one district with a contract in LA, and two in AR).

      Average 2009 NAEP Score By State Teacher Contract Laws:
      States with binding teacher contracts
      4th grade: Math 240.0 Reading 220.7
      8th grade: Math 282.1 Reading 263.7

      States without binding teacher contracts
      4th grade: Math 237.7 Reading 217.5
      8th grade: Math 281.2 Reading 259.5

      Average Rank Across 4 NAEP Tests (Next to each state is its average rank):
      Virginia……. 16.6
      Texas……… 27.3
      N. Carolina.. 27.5
      S. Carolina…38.9

      Out of these 10 states, only one (Virginia) has an average rank above the median, while four are in the bottom 10, and seven are in the bottom 15. Nine of the 10 states with the highest average ranks are high coverage states, including Massachusetts, which has the highest average score on all four tests. She points out that unions alone aren’t the only contributing factors to low test scores in non union states, but it does make a good argument against those who say unions are to blame for falling schools.

    • WMCB says:

      From the article BJMoose linked below:

      This is just silly. As I noted above, almost nobody in Wisconsin takes the SATs — the state has only a 4% participation rate on that test, with the only students taking it being those who are applying to competitive out-of-state colleges that don’t accept the ACTs. When you compare Wisconsin’s SAT average to Georgia’s, you’re comparing the performance of a tiny elite in one state with that of 74% of the graduating class of the other. And on top of that, this chart gives Wisconsin’s SAT score equal weight with its ACT score in determining which state is “better.”

      It’s nonsense. It’s meaningless.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also, from the article,
        “To sum up:

        Yes, Wisconsin has great schools, with great outcomes. Yes, states without teachers’ unions lag behind. Yes, that lag persists even when you control for demographic variables. Yes, that difference seems to rest less on the quantifiable resources that unions fight to bring to the classroom than on the professionalism, positive working environment, and effective school administration that unions foster.

        And yes, Virginia, (and Texas, Georgia, and North and South Carolina) unions do work”.

      • Exactly. And it’s extra sad that a teacher would push this nonsense (assuming as mentioned it was posted by a teacher). In other words they have a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics and what different types of data tell you. Not really the best argument when you’re trying to say these particular teachers are what’s valuable.

  31. Valissa says:

    WOW, the power elites are putting together the ultimate politically correct organization… color me underwhelmed at the superficiality of such a thing… image based reality indeed!

    National Institute for Civil Discourse to open at University of Arizona

    Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate, university officials will announce Monday. The National Institute for Civil Discourse – a nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy about civility in public discourse – will open Monday in Tucson. It was created in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings in the city where six people were killed and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

    Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) will serve as honorary co-chairmen. Board members will include former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright; Kenneth M. Duberstein, chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan; Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren; Trey Grayson, director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics; and former representative Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.).

  32. Three Wickets says:

    OT. I gotta give props to FDL for pummeling Eric Alterman at their Sunday Book Salon on his book Kabuki Democracy which essentially argues that it’s not PBO’s fault that he’s turned out to be such a lame progressive…no, it’s all those mean lobbyists and politicians in Washington who have victimized him, lol. Commenters really went to town on Eric. How can a Nation writer like Eric defend a corporatist sellout with no principles like PBO. When will Kennedy liberals get over their crush on Obama and stop dishing more koolaid at schools like NYU and CUNY.

  33. WMCB says:

    Walker is playing hardball. He’s now pointing out that only fiscal legislation requires a quorum, not other legislation.

    They intend to start bringing other legislation to the floor and voting on it, whether the fugitive Dems are there or not. No word yet on what those bills will be, but so long as the Dems stay away, the R’s can pass whatever they want that’s not fiscal.

    Also, there are rumors that if this keeps going, they can sever the pay/benefits part of the bill from the limited collective bargaining and right-to-work part, and vote on the latter as a stand-alone, since that’s not budgetary. Walker’s going to the microphones and pointing out the bussed-in from out of state “professional” agitation as well.

    The Dems have sort of painted themselves into a corner here. Maybe the intent was to flee the state to draw attention and give time for public opinion to sway in their favor, but it looks like that is backfiring.

    The aggressive, get-in-their-faces tactics that have served unions so well for so long are now counter-productive, but the unions have not caught up to the shift of the public. If they want to survive (and I want them to), they had better figure that out. They had better focus on convincing the public rather than raw intimidation.

    • yttik says:

      Unfortunately Walker was making a lot of sense. These people have to pay for part of their pensions and medical benefits or else the Gov has to lay off 10,000 workers.

      It’s a real problem when you have public unions, because what do you do when you have no money?? Tax people who don’t even have medical insurance or a pension themselves so that government workers don’t have to contribute to their own benefits? Needless to say, that doesn’t create a lot of public sympathy for your cause.

      • imustprotest says:

        It’s not the higher pension and medical payments….its the loss of the right to collective bargaining. Union busting. It goes beyond the budget issues and overreaches to destroy what’s left of unions.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          That is where my problem lies. I also don’t like that he NEVER engaged the union but bypassed them.

          I find it amazing people are getting all hot and bothered about the ‘messaging to the innocent children’ that the teachers used a ‘sick-out’ to protest – in response to Walker’s action. The same people don’t even bat an eye that Walker by-passed the union negotiations and went straight to legislating a policy to shove down the public worker’s throats.

        • I find it amazing people are getting all hot and bothered about the ‘messaging to the innocent children’ that the teachers used a ‘sick-out’ to protest

          Heh. Maybe it’s the same people who wanted Bill Clinton impeached, because otherwise “What do we tell the children?”

      • How about taxing the rich? Or a ‘sales tax’ on all Wall Street type transactions, including the sales of the ‘financial instruments’ that caused the economic crisis?

        • WMCB says:

          Because taxing the rich on the state level means the rich leave your state, and you destroy your tax base.

        • WMCB says:

          I’m iffy on the Wall Street transaction tax. It would definitely bring in money, and I’m all for making the bankers pay more, but often things that sound like a good idea have unintended consequences that make it less workable in practice.

          I’ll need to research that one some more to figure out what the ripple results might be. Often those transactions are based on profit from sheer volume, trading stocks back and forth very quickly making only pennies on each one, but each is counted as an individual transaction. If the amount of the transaction tax makes it impossible to profit doing that, you could grind the stock market to a halt.

          Maybe you could do a tax on a daily trade basis, rather than an “each transaction” basis and get around it. I dunno. But like I said, I’d have to look into it before forming a definite opinion.

        • Let’s tax originating emails. Chase out the spammers. 😉

        • ralphb says:

          I like the idea of discouraging the minute by minute trading. I don’t think that’s productive at all.

          The transaction tax could be a percentage of the profit in those cases but a nominal charge should be made any time money crosses a border for sure.

    • Walker is playing hardball. He’s now pointing out that only fiscal legislation requires a quorum, not other legislation.

      Pelosi of the North?

      • WMCB says:

        LOL! Yeah, as a now-independent observer not beholden to any party, it really gets amusing to watch both sides justify actions when they do it, and scream and yell “The horror! The horror!” when the other side does.

        Govt shutdown for me, but not for thee. Filibuster for me, but not for thee. Using the technical “rulz” to squeak by legally is abuse when you do it, but okay when I do it.

        They’re all freaking hypocrites.

        • Mary says:

          Yep. MY privately financed by special interests groups is only the grassroots speaking; YOUR privately financed by special interests groups is political astroturf.


  34. WMCB says:

    Public sector unions are not the same thing as private sector unions. The dynamics are entirely different.

    When it comes to advancing their interests, public-sector unions have significant advantages over traditional unions. For one thing, using the political process, they can exert far greater influence over their members’ employers — that is, government — than private-sector unions can. Through their extensive political activity, these government-workers’ unions help elect the very politicians who will act as “management” in their contract negotiations — in effect handpicking those who will sit across the bargaining table from them, in a way that workers in a private corporation (like, say, American Airlines or the Washington Post Company) cannot. Such power led Victor Gotbaum, the leader of District Council 37 of the AFSCME in New York City, to brag in 1975: “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”


    The political influence of public-sector unions is probably greatest, however, in low-turnout elections to school boards and state and local offices, and in votes to decide ballot initiatives and referenda. For example, two of the top five biggest spenders in Wisconsin’s 2003 and 2004 state elections were the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the AFSCME-affiliated Wisconsin PEOPLE Conference. Only the state Republican Party and two other political action committees — those belonging to the National Association of Realtors and SBC / Ameritech — spent more. The same is true in state after state, as unions work to exert control over the very governments that employs their members.

    This political dimension of public-sector unionism also changes the substantive priorities and demands of the unions themselves. Although private-sector unions in the United States have engaged in leftist “social activism,” they have mostly concentrated their efforts on securing the best wages, benefits, pensions, and working conditions for their members: “pure and simple unionism,” as longtime American Federation of Labor president Samuel Gompers used to call it. Rarely do they demand more hiring, since — given the constant private-sector imperative to keep operating costs minimal — increasing the number of a company’s employees can limit wage and benefit increases for the workers already on the company’s payroll.

    By contrast, as economist Richard Freeman has written, “public sector unions can be viewed as using their political power to raise demand for public services, as well as using their bargaining power to fight for higher wages.” The millions spent by public-employee unions on ballot measures in states like California and Oregon, for instance, almost always support the options that would lead to higher taxes and more government spending. The California Teachers Association, for example, spent $57 million in 2005 to defeat referenda that would have reduced union power and checked government growth. And the political influence of such massive spending is of course only amplified by the get-out-the-vote efforts of the unions and their members. This power of government-workers’ unions to increase (and then sustain) levels of employment through the political process helps explain why, for instance, the city of Buffalo, New York, had the same number of public workers in 2006 as it did in 1950 — despite having lost half of its population (and thus a significant amount of the demand for public services).

    A further important advantage that public-sector unions have over their private-sector counterparts is their relative freedom from market forces. In the private sector, the wage demands of union workers cannot exceed a certain threshold: If they do, they can render their employers uncompetitive, threatening workers’ long-term job security. In the public sector, though, government is the monopoly provider of many services, eliminating any market pressures that might keep unions’ demands in check. Moreover, unlike in the private sector, contract negotiations in the public sector are usually not highly adversarial; most government-agency mangers have little personal stake in such negotiations. Unlike executives accountable to shareholders and corporate boards, government managers generally get paid the same — and have the same likelihood of keeping their jobs — regardless of whether their operations are run efficiently. They therefore rarely play hardball with unions like business owners and managers do; there is little history of “union busting” in government.

    There are significant political and economic forces at play (or not at play) with public sector unions that are entirely different from private labor unions. Unlike normal unions, there is no counterforce or incentive to control costs or the growth of the “professional govt class” on the other side of the bargaining table. That is a fact. And the public sector unions need to address those concerns, rather than just blasting anyone who voices them as anti-union, anti-worker fascists who want to return us all to 60 hour workweeks and child labor.

    And until a reasonable conversation is had, all the screaming and yelling and demonizing of those with concerns is only going to make the public even more disgusted with public unions.

    • imustprotest says:

      I think no matter what happens, when you pit the haves (those who have a job) against the have nots (the unemployed) you’re gonna have problems. This assault against unions started with Reagan, he must be dancing in his grave.

      • WMCB says:

        I don’t think it’s mostly the unemployed who are balking, here. It’s the employed, whose tax dollars pay the public employees salaries and benefits.

        This is why the whole public union dynamic is so sticky. You don’t have the classic opposing dichotomy of employee/employer. You have a threesome composed of employee/govt managers/the taxpayer. And the taxpayer who foots the bill has been feeling like the first two parties have spent years cutting mutually beneficial deals (I get you elected, you give me what I want), while they are the only ones without a true seat at the table.

        That’s a genuine concern, not “hatred of teachers” or whatever else they are accused of. And it needs to be addressed. It goes beyond just specific benefits or pay, to the sense of “When the fuck do WE get a say in all this?”

        • imustprotest says:

          But it’s the teachers who are being attacked. Fire, police, those who donated to Walker are not being targeted.

        • “When the fuck do WE get a say in all this?”

          The taxpayers get a say when they elect the government? The workers get a say when they elect the union bosses?

          Somehow neither of those works. Not to diss Democracy or anything, but somehow there’s not enough leveredge. At all levels, the voters elect people who then do things the voters oppose.

        • WMCB says:

          All state employees who are not emergency workers are involved, not just teachers. Walker says there were legitimate security concerns if the others were included. That is likely only half true. Probably he also calculated that including them would decrease public support. That’s politics.

          But it’s not true that the police, firefighters etc unions all endorsed him. Most of them did not – they mostly endorsed his opponent. A handful endorsed him.

          It may be unfair that the emergency workers got a pass, but my point still stands. It’s about addressing the real concerns of the taxpayers. This was not a surprise, no matter what the unions say – Walker and most of the new R’s elected RAN on doing exactly what they are doing. Not on a vague “budget balancing”, but precisely and specifically this plan.

          The public unions could have gotten out front of those concerns, and come out of the gate looking like THEY were the reasonable and responsive ones. They didn’t. They rolled the dice and decided Hitler posters and Mubarak comparisons and over-the-top hyperbole would scare off the politicians. It didn’t work, and now they are screwed. The problem with that kind of approach is that if it works, it works big, but if you pass the tipping point and the surge of sentiment goes against you, you end up looking like screeching maniacs. Optics again.

          I don’t think for one minute that the R legislators would be standing so tough if they did not have internal polls showing them the public is on their side. Bet the bank that they do. You can’t fight the People when opinions are that strong. You can try to convince, try to reason, try to address their concerns in other, more effective ways than the R’s are doing. But they didn’t.

          The unions lost this fight the moment they decided to go all out and demonize the opposition as filthy selfish rich right-wing teacher-haters.

        • WMCB says:

          @bemused, the bill is likely an overreaction, but an entirely predictable one. When you’ve been pushing the public for years, oftentimes they push back harder than is actually warranted. It’s entirely foreseeable.

          When that happens, the smart response is to take a deep breath and admit they might have a point or two. If your initial response is to shove a Hitler poster in their face and call them supporters of a dictator, guess who gets even more public support?

    • sandress says:

      I’m really not understanding this public/private distinction. Microsoft corporation employs full-time lobbyists. They do extensive work for the federal government (as well as foreign governments). How is a large private entity making huge political contributions and lobbying ANY different when it’s a corp versus when it’s a union? And if it’s not okay in either case, why start with the unions? Personally, I don’t think that non-individuals should be able to make political contributions, and I think the cap should be set LOW. Like under $100 low. But I also wouldn’t be starting this battle by hitting the unions. It’s like starting the vegan revolution by murdering 3rd world subsistence farmers. Why bother?

      • sandress says:

        I should also add, that although the shareholder/board dynamic is doing a BANG-UP job of regulating corporations to keep them profitable, it’s doing worse than nothing to protect the larger economy, culture, or public. It’s like the public union thing, except if we only let the very rich vote.

  35. jjmtacoma says:


    In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

    Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

    • WMCB says:

      they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker).

      Or as Soros does in many cases? Or as many other left-leaning think tanks and organizations do? What, we don’t have those too?

      See, this is where I get disgusted. The idea that billionaires who support left causes they believe in are pure-hearted and public-spirited, whereas conservative billionaires who support causes they believe in are teh evuhl.

      I disagree with a lot of the Koch brothers aims, but there is no difference in them and any other wealthy person supporting what they agree with. It happens on both sides. And the banks are more in bed with the damn left than they are the right. Big money is either corrupting or it’s not, or something in-between, but you have to be consistent. This trope that Big Money is entirely corrupting when it goes to the right, but is somehow pure as angel sighs when it goes to the left is utter bullshit.

      • Mary says:

        Even John Smart says, “Organizing for America is the Koch Brothers/Tea Party equivalent here.”

        Assuming Americans are too stupid to understand that the Democrats’ own “special interest” millionaire backers aren’t really special interests insults the very Americans they should be recruiting.

        Especially the very moderates/Independents they need to win again.

        Obama has really, really, ripped his shorts on this one. He acted stupidly.

        • WMCB says:

          Most people these days are well aware of money and interest groups and think tanks on both sides. Trying to point the finger and act like they don’t exist on “your” (whichever side is claiming it) side just makes people roll their eyes.

          This is not the 80’s or the 90’s. There is too much information exchange outside of approved media outlets. The People may not all agree on all things, but they are not as uninformed as they used to be. They don’t take any party’s claims at face value.

        • sandress says:

          WMCB, I’d love to agree with you on the idea that people are better informed and don’t just take their side’s word for it, but I live in Seattle. 60% of the people I know wouldn’t be able to tell Sarah Palin from Tina Fey if she wasn’t on 30 Rock. You could tell them that the Republicans want to impose fines on public Hannukah decorations and they’d buy it.

      • Valissa says:

        Exactly so! It is Sociology 101 to believe that your group is better than the OTHER group. People focus on the positive values of their own group and ignore/dismiss the negative ones, while focussing on the negatives of the OTHER group and ignoring/dismissing the positives.

        How can you tell if you are biased and therefore not being rational? If it is difficult for you to find the negatives in your own group and difficult for you to find the positives in the OTHER group.

        • Valissa says:

          This is true of all sides (not just the Right) … and I think this is one of the biggest obstacles we face in terms of being able to have civil discussion on important issues.

          Bill Moyers: America Can’t Deal With Reality — We Must Be Exposed to the Truth, Even If It Hurts
          Many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign.–_we_must_be_exposed_to_the_truth%2C_even_if_it_hurts?page=entire

          As Joe Keohane reported last year in The Boston Globe, political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency “deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information.” He was reporting on research at the University of Michigan, which found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts were not curing misinformation. “Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.” You can read the entire article online.

          I won’t spoil it for you by a lengthy summary here. Suffice it to say that, while “most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,” the research found that actually “we often base our opinions on our beliefs … and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.” These studies help to explain why America seems more and more unable to deal with reality. So many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign, that they pick and choose only those facts that will serve as building blocks for walling them off from uncomfortable truths.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          OMG, Valissa that is frightening!

          It does sort of explain the obots reaction in the face of the reality of obama. It also can explain the belief that obama is a socialist with the repubs or teaparty.

        • WMCB says:

          It’s human nature, and we all do it. The trick is to recognize that, and to constantly check yourself. It takes a conscious effort of will to make the honest attempt to understand the other group’s reasoning and good intent. With few exceptions, MOST people have the desire to do what’s best for the country. That’s why the right yelling that the left is all raving communists who want to destroy us is piffle, and the left yelling that conservatives are all selfish corporacrats who hate the people is piffle.

          It takes effort to take a deep breath, step back, and sort through the good and the bad and the legitimate reasons people think what they do. It’s not always black and white.

      • jjmtacoma says:

        Yup! They are both owned.

        But I think Krugman was making an example of Koch, but didn’t claim the big money men on the left were angels.

        I know plenty of bad is done with the blessing (and irrational defensive excuse making) of many in lefty politics because the intentions were “progressive” or the abuser used promises that appeal to lefties “and they really meant to do good things, but those EVIL republicans got in the way”. No, the democrats, progressives or whatever aren’t pure angels.

        My (very right leaning) father in law thinks they should wear logos on their suits, like Nascar, so we know who owns them. It amazes him that he and I agree on so many policy issues.

        • Mary says:

          I’d be curious to know what logo you think Krugman should wear…….

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Krugman is definitely in the dem column for owners. He sometimes says things that seem to be in the interest of us “little people” only to flip and support dem policies that aren’t in our interest.

          Frankly, I think it is difficult telling democrat from republican policies much of the time – if you only saw the policy and had to fill in the blank of who proposed it.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Noting Krugman’s bias, I believe he is right with this statement:

          On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

  36. imustprotest says:

    @WMCB, police and firefighters are exempt from the bill. It’s political payback….favoritism. Walker went after only certain unions.,0,2475673.story

    • WMCB says:

      I addressed that above. I think it’s likely a bit of both, so I’m not defending Walker on that. Actually, I said above that the bill itself is likely an overreaction.

      I’m just pointing out the political and fiscal and public opinion realities, and analyzing how the various players are approaching this power struggle. And right now, Walker may be overplaying his hand a bit, but the unions are betting the bank on few cards whatsoever.

      • Mary says:

        Aren’t the police and firefighters considered emergency workers, and that’s the reason they were exempted?

        Aren’t the teachers’ unions in Wisconsin the ones who got an Obamacare waiver, so they wouldn’t have to pay fines on their Cadillac plans?

        • imustprotest says:

          Again, the framing of this: “rich spoiled teachers” vs “the heroes who protect us”. Optics? I think the optics on the part of the protesters is fine. I think the optics of a governor who is over reaching and trying to bust unions claiming it’s a budgetary issue when in fact, it’s not. If it were purely budgetary, then why the exemption for fire fighters, police and state troopers?

        • Mary says:

          So, about optics….

          How do you think the majority of Wisconsin voters watching “outsiders” trash the very governor the MAJORITY of those voters supported feel?

          How do you think they feel about the DNC/OFA/Obama himself intruding in their state choices ?

          Think it’ll help Obama in 2012?

    • WMCB says:

      bemused, it is correct to say that he exempted the police and firefighters, but to say he did it because “they endorsed him” is NOT true. I did some digging and researched it, since it keeps being repeated in the media. There are 314 police and firefighters unions in WI. 4 of the smaller locals endorsed Walker. All the rest endorsed the Democrat.

      Walker and a WI state senator took Chrissy Matthews to the woodshed over this – video at the link:

      During the campaign last November, leaders of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association and Milwaukee Police Association appeared in an ad supporting Walker and blasting his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett. Walker also won endorsements from the West Allis Professional Police Association and the Wisconsin Troopers Association

      Walker didn’t get the endorsements of two statewide unions, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, which both backed Barrett.

      For the record, the governor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the charge that he was exempting police and firefighters was “ridiculous.” He said he didn’t recommend changing the rules for police officers and firefighters because he didn’t want public safety work disrupted.

      We then contacted the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the statewide union that endorsed Walker’s opponent last year. Executive director Jim Palmer said the statewide organization is much larger than the local Milwaukee police union that endorsed Walker. The state group has approximately 11,000 members versus Milwaukee’s roughly 1,400, he said.

      Similarly, the state firefighters association has more than 3,000, compared with the Milwaukee union’s 875.

      In reality, if Matthews or any of his staff knew had to do a Google search, this information is all a few keystrokes away. For instance,”THE WPPA ENDORSES TOM BARRETT FOR GOVERNOR”:

      Surrounded by law enforcement officers at a May 12th [2010] event, Tom Barrett received the endorsement of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association in his race to become the state’s next governor. […]

      The WPPA represents over 11,000 active and retired members from over 375 locals statewide. With over 70 years of service to law enforcement personnel, the WPPA is recognized as the leading law enforcement association in Wisconsin.

      Or how about “Wisconsin Professional Fire Fighters endorse Tom Barrett for governor.”

      Finally, on an even grander scale, “Barrett endorsed by National Association of Police Officers”:

      On behalf of the more than 240,000 men and women of law enforcement it represents, the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO) today endorsed Tom Barrett for Wisconsin governor in recognition of his long record of support for and public safety officials and issues.

      “NAPO is pleased to support your campaign and is confident of your support of Wisconsin’s law enforcement community,” NAPO executive director William J. Johnson wrote in a letter to Tom.

      NAPO is a coalition of police unions and associations from across the United States that serves to advance the interests of America’s law enforcement through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. Founded in 1978, NAPO now represents more than 1,000 police units and associations, 241,000 sworn law enforcement officers, 11,000 retired officers and more than 100,000 citizens who share a common dedication to fair and effective crime control and law enforcement.

      As such, this media meme advanced by Matthews Monday is a total fabrication.

      Either the “Hardball” host and his staff are completely incompetent and are incapable of identifying what is clearly available on the internet, or they are intentionally misinforming their viewers in order to show support for the protesters in Madison.

      Read more:

  37. WMCB says:

    BTW, I really like the discussion on this blog. I like that some are challenging the idea of right-to-work laws by rightly pointing out that there are fairness issues with that (benefits for no contribution.) That’s a good point, as is worry over long-term weakening of unions in general.

    I like that we can look at various sides of an issue rationally, even where we disagree or lean this way or that. I like that in some areas, we can see BOTH the benefits and pitfalls, and are not all cocksure that we have the one perfect answer, even if we lean one way or another.

    I like that pretty much no one on this blog is a starry-eyed utopian who doesn’t recognize that trade-offs are just that, and it’s a matter of what good effect is worth what bad effect.

    In short, thank you crawdad. 🙂

    • KC says:

      I second that!

    • Valissa says:

      HONK! HONK!

    • Yep. I’ve been mildly supporting the “right to work” principle while strongly supporting the Dems’ quorum walkout tactic — and haven’t got flamed for inconsistency yet.

      • jjmtacoma says:

        I was meaning to talk to you about that!

        No, really, I think I have inconsistent views too. My utopia doesn’t require perfect consistency but I am concerned about the messaging and proof.

        I don’t think the dem’s organization/campaign collection arm cares if the optics are bad because they are in this game to say they were there, not to achieve anything. This moment gives them something to point to (even if they screwed it up worse) when *they* want union concessions.

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Oops – I meant to say that I am concerned about the messaging LACKING proof. I am sick of spinning things to crazy proportions and then the huge back bend from that spun-up position to blame Hillary, SP or teapartiers.

        • WMCB says:

          LOL! jjm, I am not always consistent either, and am not positive of any solution being the “one true solution, world without end, amen”.

          But I enjoy talking with people who will say “I’d rather trade off some of a) in order to get b)”, because even if I think b) is not worth the cost of a), at least I can TALK with someone who understands that we are discussing relative benefits and costs, even if those benefits/costs are intangibles.

          Um, does that make sense?

        • jjmtacoma says:

          Yeah – it makes sense. Those discussions are sticking to facts, opinions and analysis.

          Some debates or discussions spin up to high emotional levels and I check out to lurking when the accusations, creative restating of what somebody else meant and name calling starts.

        • I was meaning to talk to you about that!

          Well, but it’s NOT inconsistent to approve one faction’s prinicple but also to approve the other faction’s tactic. That’s two different things.

          Some forums, as soon as I defended the walkout tactic, people would assume I opposed ‘right to work.’ It’s like defending SP’s behavior without necessarily agreeing with her philosophy.

  38. Non-members getting a free ride on the herd immunity? Hey, there’s the UHC mandate again. Except that with the UHC mandate, you at least get some choice of insurer. Whereas the current union may be the only one in town.

    Key difference: the union can offer some positive perks immediately to members, with no deductible. 😉

    • ralphb says:

      Some unions offer free tax advice/help, legal and the like to members. They don’t have to offer those to non-members so there are still valid reasons to join a union even in right-to-work states. It’s not all free ride.

      • Exactly. So ‘right to work’ gives the union incentives to treat its own members better. (As well as, as someone said, giving management incentives to spread ‘benefits like candy’ to keep workers from joining the union.)

        So if you have the union and management both competing for how much goodies they can offer the workers, win workers!

        Otoh if the unions collapsed altogether and no new ones formed, that wouldn’t work.

      • Valhalla says:

        No one said ALL union benefits are available to all people in the union’s industry. But in general, nonmembers benefit from things like higher wages negotiated by unions (and not just in the union’s industry). Non-union employers have to keep up in order to not lose all the potential workers to unionized workplaces (whether the employees are aware of why the pay/benefits are better is another matter).

        It’s no coincidence that the Republicans and their Dem collaborators are totally ignoring the unemployment crisis at the same time they’re trying to bust the unions — it means it’s a hirers’ market, makes people afraid to speak out on the job and more likely to accept really, really crappy (and often illegal) treatment.

  39. WMCB says:

    I wonder what would happen if teachers had a separate union, and all the administrators had to have their own?

    Now that’s a radical idea! There are a lot of places where administration is the bloated waste. That’s one of the things that is driving the disgust. Most people want teachers paid well. But the public never sees the union fighting to clean up the administrative deadwood, the rampant waste, and get the money to the teachers. What they see is a top-heavy monstrosity that trots out “the poor teachers” every time their power gets challenged, then goes right back to pouring money to everywhere BUT the teachers, like 14 redundant vice-principals and endless offices for paper-pushers.

    People are fed up. They don’t hate teachers, but there seems to be no way to stop the runaway train without the teachers taking a hit as well.

    What would happen if the teacher’s union was limited to JUST actual teachers, and administration had to collectively bargain separately? I’m sure there are reasons why it would be difficult, but I like thinking outside the box and throwing ideas out. Damn, that would shake up the status quo, huh? 😀

    • Good, and that ties in with your point about ‘right to work’ also allowing the workers to form a NEW union alongside the current one.

      • WMCB says:

        Yeah, there need to be reforms. There’s also the little fact that polls show that around 60% of state employees really resent where the political money from their union dues goes. Another driver of resentment is that unions are seen as totally an arm of and extension of the far left politicians, who they will support regardless of whether over half their membership is actually conservative in many areas. Perhaps if unions were seen as their own entity, rather than just a tool of the Dems, the public would be in less of a union-busting mood.

        Perhaps if a vote of the membership were required before campaign donations were made, republican politicians would be more supportive, since being pro-union would not be automatically tied to being pro-everything-else-Democrat.

        There are a lot of issues driving this whole thing. It’s not a simple good/evil matter.

    • Nijma says:

      Administrators in this state do not belong to AFSCME. Not in the schools, not in government service.

      • Nijma says:

        Teachers are not in the same union as clerical staff. They have their own union. So do nurses. It’s all AFSCME though.

        Our elected union reps are teachers like us and are always in the staff meetings. They are very quick to point out any conflicts between what administration wants and what is in the negotiated contract.

        • WMCB says:

          Good to know. Maybe your state is doing it better than others.

        • Nijma says:

          It hasn’t worked out for me. My hours have been cut in half and in half again, until I only have 8 hours a week. How do you live on that? And don’t even ask about health insurance. I’m in the process of relocating.

          Years ago, before the manufacturing jobs went to India and China, Chicago unions used to be able to do something for their members. The union leaders had names that ended in vowels and their executive assistants had cute nicknames like “Fingercrusher” and “breaka you knee”. Now they are all a politically correct ethnic mixture and the issues they are able to work have more to do with pensions than with being able to live a middle class life style. Dunno, maybe the K-12 teachers are better off.

          The influence of the blue collar unions is long gone, only AFSCME remains.

    • trixta says:

      I agree, the administrators make so much more than teachers. Administration is where budgets are bloated.

  40. Nijma says:

    Instead of comparing college bound students why not compare ALL the students.

    Here is state by state comparison of 4th and 8th graders. The union states of Wisconsin and Minnesota do very well in comparison.

    • WMCB says:

      It’s a mixed bag. Some of those states with collective bargaining have good schools, some have horrible ones. Illinois? DC?

      There are arguments to be made for collective bargaining for public employees, but automatic better education does not seem to be one of them, realistically. There may be many factors in why some states are doing better, including per capita income.

      • Nijma says:

        Illinois is not that far off the national average, not bad when you consider how many non-English speaking immigrants we have (that’s the population I work with) and the generation after generation of grinding poverty in some urban areas.

        But look at anti-union states like SC. No one can make the argument that getting rid of unions improves education.

        In general the non-union states are anti-intellectual, stingy, and poor, qualities that are mutually reinforcing.

      • WMCB says:

        The state I live in is not anti-intellectual, nor stingy. People help their neighbors – a lot. Poor? Perhaps in some areas. But if you ask them, they are very happy here in TX. Which, BTW, has a lot more non-english-speaking immigrants than Illinois.

        People are flocking to non-union states in droves, including here, and leaving heavily unionized states. I’d call that a “vote with the feet” phenomenon.
        I’d not be so quick to reveal your evident disdain for the “in general” backward rednecks. Every state has its benefits and its problems.

        Or, on second thought, please do keep spreading the idea that TX is a horrible place to live! ( *shhhhhh – keep the secret*) Yeah, it’s awful! Please, no one move here! Really, stay in California or Illinois – you’d be MISERABLE here. 😉

        • Mary says:

          Absolutely, WMCB. We Texans hate it here; it’s awful.

          (Wink wink) lol

        • WMCB says:

          It’s a complete poverty-ridden cesspool, Mary. Children starve on the streets. It’s practically the third world, we all pick banjos, can’t read, and no one has nice teeth.

          Really, people, stay away. We’re all inbred hicks with guns who will shoot you for Jaysus.

          😀 😀 😀

        • Mary says:


          Yeah, and we all wear cowboy boots and have gun racks in our trucks, and pick our teeth, and scratch our privates, in public.

          OOOOOOH. Don’t come here. Ick! 🙂

      • jjmtacoma says:

        We have collective bargaining, the schools are in the news somewhere in the state every fall as all the districts have different contracts for teachers. It forces the value they add or don’t to be debated regularly.

        I could see where people might forget to think about schools and assume they are just fine, even as the budgets are cut or reprioritized. Do people raise hell about budgets or class sizes if the union doesn’t make a big deal out of it? I’m curious, since I’ve never lived in a right to work state.

  41. Nijma says:

    Here’s a chart that gives some idea of what percentage of a state’s teachers are unionized:

  42. DeniseVB says:

    Here’s the bill the kerfuffle is over:

    It’s 144 pages 😀

  43. WMCB says:

    Rasmussen is out. Nationwide the public supports Walker 48/38, with the rest undecided.

    Biggest problem for the public unions? Independents support Walker 56/31. That’s the swing vote, folks. That’s what wins elections.

  44. votermom says:

    I just saw RD’s bad news post. 😦
    I think I get a ptsd reaction when I hear about someone I feel that I know getting downsized.

  45. Rangoon78 says:

    I got me some Krugman on my side:

    “The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.

    So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t.”
    My Man Paul

    • votermom says:

      I agree with Paul that the unions, corrupt or not, are one of the few opposition elements to the crony capitalists.
      Like the Tea Party, in a way, which is why it’s painful to see the TP battle the unions while the fat cats laugh.

      • ralphb says:

        If US unions had Lech Walesa you would have a beter point. We get the likes of Richard Trumka.

        • WMCB says:

          Lech Walesa gave a rousing speech at a TeaParty rally in Illinois, campaigning for the R candidate for governor.

        • ralphb says:

          I didn’t know that. Interesting.

        • WMCB says:

          Well, Walesa is one of those labor leaders who understand that big govt is not necessarily the answer, and can be a danger in itself. He was a pure populist who wanted worker autonomy and power, not a big govt guy.

          Both sides of the aisle, both legacy parties, try to shit on their populists. And do they their utmost to a) co-opt them (which I think they’ve largely done with the unions) and b) above all prevent the populists on both sides from ever joining forces on anything.

          Re: the co-opting of Big Labor, there was short-term gain for the unions in becoming tied foot and hand to the Democratic Party. But the long-term downside is that the public ceased viewing them as the voice of the workers, and began to view them as the voice of corrupt politicos, and solely Democratic politicos at that. They did not stick to only labor issues – they put their muscle behind any and every policy the Dems wanted done, and any and every candidate they wanted elected. They became footsoldiers for things not really related to labor at all.

          They are paying the price for that now. Why should over half the country that is not particularly leftist want to support organizations that do not speak for them? Who suspect that their agenda is less “Power to the Workers” and more “power to the Democratic Party”? The unions dug this hole for themselves. It’s similar in many ways to how the feminist organizations became less about women and more about propping up Democratic politics in general, even at a cost to women.

        • ralphb says:

          I couldn’t agree more. The whole lot are just front groups for one party or the other, Democrats in this case.

        • Valhalla says:

          Well, one of the things that is repeatedly forgotten is that unions had a huge amount of their bargaining power sucked out of them by Reagan. Walker/this year’s Republicans aren’t the first to try union-busting. It was brilliant, really, because people have totally forgotten and totally ignore this inconvenient little historical fact. It’s so much easier to carp about corruption and problems (as if ANY group of people over about 10 doesn’t have the same types of problems) and stir up resentment against better paid union-members than to follow the actual events.

          Not that I exempt Democrats from the sh*t-stirring tactics, as in Obama we see the fulfillment of the “soft” Republican crap among Ds with all his talk about deserving poor and incessant lecturing everyone on their faults. The worst thing Reagan et co did across the last 30 years was change the political discourse to be about hatred and resentment of “those other” people, whoever “they” happen to be according to whom they want to divide and conquer at the moment.

        • ralphb says:

          Some of us haven’t forgotten a damned thing, we just don’t agree about public sector bargaining rights.

  46. Valhalla says:

    Here’s a much better optic (trying to embed, hope that’s allowed):

  47. ralphb says:

    Gallup Poll of Dem v Rep states genuinely stupid.

    In order to get their numbers, they had to make Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia competitive, while Mississippi only leans Republican. New Mexico is solid Democratic with a Republican Governor? Gallup needs to try harder.

    • WMCB says:

      LOL! Man, I’m a SC native living in TX, and if either of those is “competitive” for 2012, I’ll eat my hat.

      • ralphb says:

        How can you call a state solidly Democratic when it has a newly elected GOP government like New Mexico. That thing is ludicrous. 😉

  48. WMCB says:

    Okay, the WI union is in trouble for sure, and internal polling on the issue sucks ass. How do I know? Because Friday Obama came out of the gate supporting them, calling Walker’s bill an “assault” on unions. But now? Well, now his administration says this to the NYT:

    Administration officials said Sunday that the White House had done nothing to encourage the demonstrations in Wisconsin.

    Hmmm. If there is one thing I know about Obama it’s that he will ride any winning horse and bail on a losing one faster than you can blink. If the WH is backtracking on their statements, then you can bet yer sweet butt that internal polls are telling him to back off.

    • Mary says:

      Oh my God. (stuttering)

      They’re really going to try and claim that had done nothing to encourage the demonstrations?

      They REALLY think that DNC/OFA paying for busses from all over the country won’t be connected to his political WH team?

      They REALLY think Americans don’t know how often Andy Stern and Richard Trumpka visit the West Wing?

      Frikkin idiots. Jaysus.

      • indigogrrl says:

        If the MSM doesn’t report this or make an issue of it it will go away….as do all of his misdeeds and lies.

      • jjmtacoma says:

        It depends, are they making the connection on TV? That is where the common understanding of events is spelled out according to what they want everyone to think about events. I don’t watch any TV news.

        • Mary says:

          Actually, like myiq, I got all that information on the blogosphere.

          One side promotes the disinformation, the other debunks it. It’s why I try to read both sides, and especially, Somerby.

          If people only read the blogs with which they disagree, they’re ripe for misleading.

        • Mary says:

          Oops….that should say “with which they agree,” not disagree. Duh.

    • votermom says:

      This is just another reason why the unions need to divorce themselves from the Dems, specially the ODems, asap.

  49. imustprotest says:

    Oscars in less than a week! Don’t forget the pool!

  50. ralphb says:

    Another earthquake hits southern New Zealand but it’s deadly this time.

    Really hate this.

    (CNN) — A 6.3-magnitude earthquake ripped through Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday afternoon, causing multiple fatalities as it toppled buildings onto buses, buckled streets and damaged cathedrals, authorities said.

    New Zealand Police announced on the agency’s website that a large-scale evacuation of the central city was under way. According to the news release, the earthquake killed an undetermined number of people at various locations around the city, including passengers on two buses crushed by buildings that had fallen on them.

    TVNZ reported that the 147-year-old Christchurch Cathedral’s spire had toppled, Christchurch Hospital was being evacuated and the airport was closed.

  51. Hokaay, here’s a problem with Walker’s bill — a good reason to not ram it through without more discussion and amendment.
    Walker’s plan, which has drawn thousands of protesters to Madison, could mean the loss of $46.6 million in federal mass transit operating aid for Wisconsin, and put a $2.5 million hole in Valley Transit’s annual operating budget of $8.5 million.

    At issue is a federal Department of Labor requirement that approved agreements protecting transit workers be in place before federal funds can be released to public transit systems like Valley Transit. Any changes in the agreements, such as altering collective bargaining powers, would jeopardize federal funds, according to federal officials.

    • Mary says:

      Did you know that within the Stimulus Bill legislation was written a small clause that anyone accepting those funds had to use UNION LABOR to get the money?

      Private companies need not apply.

      Is that lke “Irish need not apply?”

  52. When your opponents feel this strongly … don’t run over them.
    So it’s 2am here in Madison.

    I’ve just returned from the state capitol. Assembly Democrats are continuing to hold hearings to take testimony from ordinary people scared half to death by SB11 – Gov. Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill.” [….]
    I had my opportunity a little after 1am – please note that time. There were no Republicans present. [….]

    But it was the sleepers that left an impression with me.

    You see, hundreds if not thousands of people, worried about what the Republicans might do, decided that they needed to occupy the Capitol all day – and all night. [….]

    So I found myself weaving through an amazing number of people in sleeping bags and air mattresses, covered in blankets and winter coats, all sleeping in the people’s house.

  53. WMCB says:

    Two things:

    1) Rasmussen for today is out, and Obama has hit an all-time low with an approval index of -20

    2) Indiana Dems are pulling a WI and have now fled the state so as not to vote on another public union bill

    What those two things tell me is that the Dems are doubling down on stupid.

    • WMCB says:

      Correction – the “strong disapprove” is the highest ever.

    • votermom says:

      Dems sure are good at running away. LOL.
      Rasmussen is just being ray-cist. (snark)

    • WMCB says:

      votermom, I support their right to do it – or to protest according to their convictions by any legal means. But I’m shaking my head that they don’t have a clue how bad it looks to the public.

      • votermom says:

        I agree. I am mostly on the unions & the Dems side on this issue, except that 1)it does look bad and 2)why did Dems in general squander their majorities?
        That’s why I think unions should cut them loose and start supporting a third party instead.

        • WMCB says:

          I have a lot more reservations about public unions than private unions (which I wholly support in theory, though I have beefs with some). I think that’s true of many people. And I think that the public-sector unions, if they wish to have widespread support, need to acknowledge that their situation is not the same as a mine worker, and allow some brakes/reasonable limits on their collective bargaining because the intrinsic brakes of “the company having to compete and make a profit” don’t exist in their case.

          I’m not utterly opposed to public unions in any form. But I see problems with them that they’d do well to address if they don’t want even more backlash than they are getting. Trying to pass themselves off as the poor downtrodden being abused by the greedy employer is kind of STUPID, when the employer is not a private corporation but the voters and taxpayers, who don’t appreciate being painted as .a robber baron.

        • votermom says:

          Imo, the voters/taxpayers are not the employer any more than the shareholders of a corporation are the employers of private-sector employees. The employer is the one who calls the shots — the CEO.
          Walker is in the CEO position.
          Just as CEO corruption is a major problem in industry, so is political corruption a problem in government.

        • Imo, the voters/taxpayers are not the employer any more than the shareholders of a corporation are the employers of private-sector employees.

          Right. We simply don’t have the leveredge.

        • Three Wickets says:

          Seems to me shareholders exist to make profits from their investments…profits that can be enhanced by cutting labor costs. Public benefit or goodwill is not a prime or significant motivation. Taxpayers on the other hand pay taxes with the expectation of public services. Both shareholders and taxpayers vote in their own ways, and both groups can apply pressure on the employer executives, but shareholders vote every day by buying/selling stock whereas taxpayers vote every few years. One could make the case that private executives are under more sustained pressure to cut costs than public ones. That said, states have a legal requirement to balance their budgets. Private companies do not.

      • they don’t have a clue how bad it looks to the public.

        Which public, white woman?

        Do you have evidence such as a trend, showing the union side losing support from one day to another? Or has there been a poll distinguishing support of the policy vs support of the demonstrations?

  54. WMCB says:

    Weasel fuckface John Kerry is speaking for the Whitehouse on Libya today. He’s angling for Hillary’s job when she leaves.

    I said over a year ago that my dream, my hope (other than a presidential run) was that Hillary would choose the perfect time to walk out as SOS. That she would wait until the 2012 campaign got underway, at the worst possible time for negative press for BO, and pick precisely that moment to stab that arrogant fucker in the back and leave in a very public way, hurting his re-election chances badly, and smiling the whole time.

    I’d LOVE to see that!

  55. Susan Nunes says:

    I can’t believe the ignorant trash being posted here. “Right to work” means you have NO rights at all as a worker. So the OP thinks it is the public workers’ fault private workers got scammed out of their pensions and stuff? Guess what, people? Quit believing Fox News propaganda, ANY garbage coming from neoliberals in both political parties, and start working on improving labor standards in your own work. But don’t you dare FUCK with my pension because your private sector employees screwed you over. It’s not my fault you allowed this in the private sector and keep voting people in who created this goddamned mess.

    • myiq2xu says:

      We’ve had quality control problems ever since we out-sourced our writing to Punjab. They are proficient in English but don’t seem to have much knowledge of US history, culture and society.

      OTOH they are an improvement over the illegal aliens we employed when we first laid off our US workforce.

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