January 19, 2018

Madison: Your New Tropical Vacation Spot!

FoxNews ran clips of the Wisconsin demonstrations while a FoxNews reporter describes how liberal organizations (of which he could not name one–there were just too, too many of them!) were busing in out of state agitators. Funny how when Americans for Prosperity bused protesters into Madison from out of state (25 buses from Pennsylvania!) FoxNews was cheerleading them on.

For days we’ve been told how bitter cold and snowy its been in Madison, Wisconsin, that despite inclement weather a hundred thousand protesters showed up. Obviously, the main stream media is caught lying again. Its sunny and warm in Madison according to FoxNews! Protesters wear short sleeve shirts (CORRECTION: It has been pointed out correctly that no short sleeve shirts are visible in the video). Its almost tropical! Why Madison even has palm trees!

Take a look at the video:

Well, thank goodness for small favors. It could have been worse.

At least FoxNews didn’t try to slip in a shot of protests in Libya (also with palm trees)!

Next up: My old partner Steve Malzberg gets FoxNews presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to elaborate upon Obama‘s childhood growing up with the Mau-Maus in Kenya!

Gotta love Steve…I’ll never forget the time he railed into the microphone about Saddam having VX, sarin, anthrax and WMD. It was clear he was reading directly from NEWSMAX and didn’t know that WMD was an acronym (these were the early days of warmongering). I asked him what WMD stood for and he said it must be the chemicals in a poison gas. “Noooo,” I replied and began crooning the ‘Jeapardy’ theme song. I gave him the first word but he still didn’t get it.

If Steve heard that Obama was a ‘Keynesian’ he’d cite that as proof of his citizenship…

Krugman: Its not about deficits; Its about power

Krugman has an excellent understanding of what the stakes are about in Wisconsin.

There are ideologues in this country that want their country back. It’s a country where capitol has the right to aggregate for economic power but workers don’t, where corporations have the rights of individual citizens but citizens have restricted civil rights, where the rich and powerful face no legal or economic penalty for their destructive actions but middle class workers are scapegoated for the audacity of wanting to enjoy a decent life.

I don’t want that country back. It’s ‘gone with the wind,’ as was said about another romanticized, fantastically imagined American society. Gone with the wind and good riddance.

I want my country to evolving into a better and better country as our system has encouraged and allowed over past centuries.

American exceptionalism, an exceptionalism that has inspired nations and societies around the world is about moving forward with hope and courage not looking backward with regret and longing.

Don’t lean forward…MOVE FORWARD.

Paste and go:


The bill that has inspired the demonstrations would strip away collective bargaining rights for many of the state’s workers, in effect busting public-employee unions. Tellingly, some workers — namely, those who tend to be Republican-leaning — are exempted from the ban; it’s as if Mr. Walker were flaunting the political nature of his actions.

Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.

So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.

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.

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

WISCONSIN: The State of the Unions

“Fire a couple of rounds of rubber bullets into that crowd. That’ll take care of those demonstrators in Wisconsin,” opined the loudmouth swimmer in the pool at my condo. He’s from the same city as Carl Palladino with the same crude and bellicose manner. “A couple of rounds of rubber bullets will teach ‘em a lesson,” he bellows loudly, bouncing up and down in the pool as if addressing everyone poolside. He’s the same guy who brags about what he’ll do to a burgler with the .45 on the nightstand next to his bed and complains about Obama and the socialists ruining the country. I never respond. I come to swim and relax in the sun.

Among the other comments I’ve heard over the last few days are:

“They should’ve never been allowed to organize in the first place.”
“We need someone to do what Reagan did when he busted the Air Traffic Controllers union.”
“Unions were good at one time but we don’t need ’em anymore. They’ve outlived their usefulness.”

So let’s not pussyfoot around the issue. This isn’t about pensions or healthcare contributions. It isn’t about the deficit or the recession. It isn’t even about the election (although Governor Walker collected endorsements from the Milwaukee Police Association, the West Allis Professional Police Association, the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters and the Wisconsin Troopers Association during his campaign and they are state workers exempt from his new limitations. What a coincidink!).

It’s about an ideology with a goal to destroy unions.

Union leaders conceded to the Governor and legislature’s plan on financial matters last week. They agreed to the difficult concessions required by fiscal hard times. What they will not and cannot concede is the right of their workers to collective negotiation. Without it a union is not a union. It is a fraternal organization.

What Governor Walker proposes is to strip some municipal unions of any right to negotiate ANYTHING other than salary and that to cap even that right to CPI index. In effect even that negotiation is now negligible. He would also allow workers to enjoy the benefits of union membership without paying “fair share” dues. This would essentially contribute to destroying the union (why pay dues when you get benefits for free?)

I watched FOXNEWS Friday and Saturday to understand how this organization would frame this. They did so in their usual fashion: They lied. They presented it as an issue of union intractability on contributing to pension and medical funds even though unions had already agreed to do so. By Sunday this lie became to unsupportable even for FoxNews and they began to reframe. Now the issue was about phoney doctor’s notes and the Tea Party counter demonstration. Although 70,000 turned out to demonstrate against Walker and only 2,000 showed up from the Tea Party they became equal expressions of discontent.

Rush Limbaugh called unionized workers “bottom feeding freeloaders” “using children as human shields”. Who are the real workers of America? “Real Working Non-Unionized People” he proclaimed on Friday, Feb. 18th. He also mocked protestors who compared their political solidarity with those who took to the streets in Egypt complaining that such a comparison could only be made by an ‘idiot’.. Perhaps he will change his mind when he discovers that Republican Paul Ryan was the first to make this comparison on national television. (“It’s like Cairo’s moved to Madison these days,” Ryan said on MSNBC. “All of this demonstration … it’s fine. People should be able to express their way.” Feb 17.) Doesn’t Limbaugh do the minimum of homework before he goes on the air?

What constantly bemuses me is how Teabaggers can become incensed about an employee who spent years on an advanced degree of education receiving a salary of 48,000 a year (with healthcare, pension, vacation etc benefits of $24,000). Yet there has not been one protest against the financial wizards who walked away with hundreds of millions while destroying the American economy…Guides like Limbaugh and Dick Armey and FoxNews point them in the wrong direction at every turn, I guess.

But some unions, the ones who supported Walker politically and help him practically (by hunting down wayward Democrats) i.e. the Wisconsin Troopers’ Association and the police and firefighters’ statewide unions issued statements praising the Governor for recognizing their jobs are more important and thus their unions should be exempted from destruction.

I recognize that some unions have been guilty of corruption. As I stated in previous posts on this site I also favor sensible caps on union pensions and rules that prevent egregious abuses on how those pensions are calculated. But for a movement that derided Rahm Emanuel’s suggestion to ‘Never let a crisis go to waste’ the radicals of the Tea Party are quick to embrace this philosophy. This is not about solving the problem of statewide deficits. From the beginning their rhetoric has been anti-worker, anti-union, strangely recognizing only ‘capital providers’ as ‘THE PRODUCERS’. Capital investment is surely a necessary, central element of the American economy but it is labor that actually accomplishes production so it is an odd way to label the components. FoxNews would have its viewers frame this issue as ‘the unions vs. the taxpayers’, not even acknowledging that union workers pay taxes themselves.

I support the concept that a crisis can provide an opportunity, to learn, to change, to readjust how things are done. But when there is corporate corruption or abuse we don’t attempt to abolish corporations. We attempt to remedy the corruption and abuse to prevent ongoing damage.

As to the Democrats who absconded from the legislature, it may certainly seem hypocritical for those who decried the obstructionism of a Republican minority over the last two years to now applaud the obstructionism of Democratic representatives. But likewise, those that applaud and admire representation that will not yield on core principle (as I often hear Teabaggers assert) should understand the support many give to these 14 representatives. I sent money to support their efforts last Friday.

Surely, elections do have their repercussions and effects. And Walker and Republican legislators were elected in 2010. But they ran on platforms of fiscal responsibility not on promises to obliterate unions entirely. Politifact has a chart of Governor Walker’s campaign promises concerning education. Look at it and tell me which one justifies stripping the union of collective bargaining rights:


On the other hand, Obama DID run on a promise to initiate health insurance reform and he did win his election as did Democrats in both houses. Yet Republicans acted like they were surprised when Democrats fulfilled their promise. To Republicans healthcare reform was “rammed down our throats” and they virulently opposed his fulfillment of that promise. If Walker had run on a platform of abolishing unions and then fulfilled that promise one might say he was fulfilling his pledge to the voters. But he didn’t do that.

I should reveal that I am a proud member of three unions. Throughout my years in broadcasting my unions have supported me when I needed support as an actor or a broadcaster. I am such an ardent union member that I have paid my dues to every union twice annually for forty years though I could have taken a leave of absence during those hard times when I was not working. That’s how strongly I feel an obligation to union membership. It’s also true that for many years I made so much money in my profession that I probably had more direct power as an individual negotiator than I did as a union member. But I did not forget how purposeful and important union membership was to my career and my life.

It is undeniable that there are 13 states that prohibit or restrict collective bargaining by teachers and other state employees. It is interesting to note that most of those states have budget SHORTFALLS. A handful of them have deficits of 20% to make up somehow EVEN WITHOUT UNION WORKERS. Its also an historical fact that Franklin Roosevelt, perhaps our most pro-labor president was extremely wary of allowing municipal workers to unionize. Teddy Roosevelt’s most succinct statement supporting labor organization is mute on the organization of public employees: “It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.”

Yet it is also an ironic fact that Wisconsin was the very first state to authorize the collective bargaining rights of public employees and workers in many other states fought hard over years to follow in securing that right. That was in 1959, more than fifty years ago when Eisenhower was president. It is a right with more history than the right of interracial marriage, integration of public enterprise, the right to counsel in a courtroom and a woman’s right to choose.

Madison, Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Sixties Anti-war movement and the subject of a documentary film called THE WAR AT HOME. That movement spread across the country, galvanizing others, energizing millions.

Perhaps the rallying events of the past week will inspire a sequel.