On Monday, in a story I will link after the jump, the Associated Press reported that on March 1 the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) dropped a lawsuit it initiated last year over the school district's refusal five years earlier to cover a prescription drug the union described as "an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members” (that link will also appear after the jump).
So the questions submitted for our readers to ponder are these:
1) What drug was involved?
2) How much has the district spent defending itself against the lawsuit?
Less than two weeks into his new gig anchoring the 3 p.m. Eastern hour at MSNBC, Martin Bashir has already called the Tea Party "disingenuous," hailed Obama's response to the crisis in Libya, and supported raising taxes on the rich.
This afternoon Bashir added another item to that liberal laundry list.
While President Barack Obama was delivering a speech on education reform in Boston, the former ABC "Nightline" anchor seized on the opportunity to advance the fallacious narrative that Republican governors across the country are trying to vilify public school teachers.
The Wisconsin public sector unions, in agreeing to compromise on their pensions and benefits in exchange for collective bargaining, have apparently done all they could to negotiate with the state's governor – according to "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski Tuesday. The self-confessed Democrat for whom appeal to sentiment is second-nature, Brzezinski painted the governor as "cold" and "mean" in the eyes of Wisconsin voters, to whom the union has "given blood."
"The union has given blood to this guy. They've given everything he's wanted," Brzezinski lamented. "I don't know what more they can do for him."
Brzezinski highlighted polls of Wisconsin voters, which show a majority now have an unfavorable view of the governor. "You know what the voters are saying?" she rhetorically asked. "He's cold. And he's mean. And he doesn't care about the little guy." Wow, it sounds like someone's getting coal in his stocking next Christmas.
In a short video on the New York Times's website, Brian Stelter, the paper's media reporter, comments on the "interesting" trend of cable news reporters "taking sides" in the Wisconsin budget battle - with Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left, of course - and supposedly twisting facts to fit partisan narratives.
Asked about commentators "looking for a certain narrative on the way in" - even when the facts don't support it - Stelter singled out Bill O'Reilly and Ed Schultz as indicative of the trend. But he needn't look so far from home. The Times's own partisan pugilist, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, has consistently twisted facts in an effort to fit the Wisconsin debate into a leftist narrative.
Shep Smith: putting the liberal balance into Fox News Channel's fair-and-balanced reporting . . .
On Fox Report this evening, Shep sneered at Gov. Walker's budget-repair bill, sniffing at it as "so-called" reform, sarcastically adding that as far as union members facing layoffs are concerned, "it's no repair to them."
Later, interviewing FNC's White House correspondent Mike Emanuel, a nervous Smith sought reassurance that Florida wasn't heading down Walker's Wisconsin path.
Liberal radio host and reined-in MSNBC flamethrower Ed Schultz has provided another example of his erratic reverence for the Constitution, specifically that pesky First Amendment.
On his radio show Wednesday, Schultz harkened back to halcyon days of yore involving "old Democrats" made singular by their intolerance for discussion of that most sacred cow, Social Security (audio here) --
The left-wing comedian Jon Stewart is at it again after ripping conservative Republicans for going after public sector collective bargaining. Stewart updated the situation in Wisconsin Thursday night on the "Daily Show," reporting on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker introducing his new budget proposals.
"He has put public sector unions on notice, and particularly teachers, that the gravy train is over – even if the gravy is actually lunchroom cafeteria-grade gravy-like rehydrated soy chips," Stewart spun, painting the comfortable pensions and benefits of Wisconsin public school teachers as dog food compared with infamous Wall Street bonuses. He also shifted the debate – instead of going after public sector unions, conservatives somehow are anti-teacher, according to Stewart's logic.
With all of the union strife in Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey, and indications of more to come, it might be time to shed a bit of light on unions as an economic unit.
First, let's get one important matter out of the way. I value freedom of association, and non-association, even in ways that are not always popular and often deemed despicable. I support a person's right to be a member or not be a member of a labor union. From my view, the only controversy regarding unions is what should they be permitted and not permitted to do.
According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions who voted for you.
Leftist blogger Ian Murphy is "a liar who broke every rule of journalism," with his phone call to Gov. Scott Walker in which he pretended to be conservative donor David Koch, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told the audience of last night's "Hannity."
The Media Research Center founder was reacting to CNN having practically promoted Murphy's prank by awarding him the title "Most Intriguing Person of the Day" on February 24 and by plugging his website, BuffaloBeast.com, on air.
Had Murphy been a CNN employee, he'd have been fired for his unethical and highly partisan manuever, Bozell noted, citing none other than CNN's own media reporter/critic Howard Kurtz. What's more, Bozell added, the media have been silent about Murphy's rabid left-wing rantings in the past, such as in 2008 when he wrote a piece entitled, "F**k the Troops" in Iraq.
Video embed and link to MP3 audio follow the page break
Earlier today, my Examiner colleague Mark Tapscott wrote on the left's tendency to create political bogeymen and then accuse them of just about everything under the sun. There's a bit more that needs to be added in the context of the left's newest bogeymen, the newly infamous Charles and David Koch. Just like they did previously in their attacks on the likes of Kenneth Starr and Richard Scaife, lefties are once again playing fast-and-loose with the facts regarding the Kochs.
Fortunately, lawyer John Hinderaker over at the Power Line blog has engaged in some industrial-strength deconstruction to debunk two hit-pieces against the Kochs and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker put out by Think Progress blogger Lee Fang. He goes through each piece point-by-point and demonstrates that when it comes to the Koch Industries and the environment (and everything else), there is no truth to the leftist smears. Both pieces (1 and 2) are must-reading.
Here's just a taste of the debunking (Fang quotes or summaries are in bold):
If public school teachers spent more time teaching in classrooms and less time community-organizing in political war rooms, maybe taxpayers wouldn't feel as ripped off as they do. Before the Big Labor bosses start complaining about "teacher-bashing," let's be clear: An increasing number of rank-and-file teachers feel exactly the same way.
Retired New York teacher Vinne Cusimano, who was required to pay forced union dues in order to work, wrote me this week after receiving the March 2011 edition of his union's monthly publication. The cover of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) magazine reads: "Defend What Matters! Educate. Collaborate. AGITATE." Inside the pamphlet, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi rails against "malicious politicians" in Wisconsin and elsewhere proposing "extreme anti-union" budget cuts. He urges his members to join "advocacy" efforts to "maintain critical resources" and lectures about the need to "value education over ideology and greed."
Cusimano, who taught for four decades in the Empire State, fired back at Ianuzzi in an open letter:
Battles over state policies concerning public employee unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and elsewhere have focused some attention on a question some conservatives have been asking for years: should collective bargaining be legal in the public sector?
During a report on the latest developments in Wisconsin for Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Cynthia Bowers proclaimed that the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Illinois to block Governor Walker's budget proposal from passing have "become heroes to protesters." She lamented: "Now comes word, albeit from a Republican, some may be ready to come home and concede."
Bowers used the "hero" label following a sound bite from one of the fugitive state senators, Jon Erpenbach: "For him [Walker] to use dedicated public servants who clear our roads, take care of our sick, teach our kids, as poker chips is ridiculous." At the end of her report, news reader Jeff Glor wondered: "Any timetable right now, as far as you know, of when those Democratic senators might return to Wisconsin?" Bowers replied: "No. But the Senate Majority Leader did indicate to us that some of them want to come home. It's just a matter of how to finesse it, so they don't appear to be the bad guy in this with their constituents, and the protesters."
Jon Stewart's latest anti-conservative screed included a satirical defense of top income earners and a tongue-in-cheek plea for teachers to pay their fair share, in the wake of the Wisconsin protests. On Monday's "Daily Show," the Comedy Central host offered a shallow assessment of the entire Wisconsin situation with not a single critical look at the state's public sector unions.
Stewart's simplistic take on events is that teachers are being unduly bullied by Republicans and the wealthy to help solve the budget crisis in this country. What could help, he opined, would be boosting taxes on the "top two percent" of income earners.
"Hey you know, one thing we could do – not extend the Bush tax cuts to the top two percent of the country. That would earn us $700 billion over the next ten years," Stewart remarked to applause. "Oh, oh, and maybe also we could close some corporate tax loopholes."
The Left has been making quite a bit of conspiratorial hay over the following paragraph Eric Lipton wrote at the New York Times on February 21 ("Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute") about the alleged degree of involvement Koch family members have allegedly had in the Wisconsin public-sector union showdown:
Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.
Notice something missing? How about quotation marks? Their absence is not an accident.
In response to a question from Klein about "the animosity between unions and workplaces" (that is what Klein says he said), Stern made an interesting assertion that most readers probably took at face value:
We grew up in that culture. In the '30s, people didn't want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes . . . we had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. It's not viewed through that light anymore.
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted a new poll claiming people support unions over Republican plans to cut state deficits: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that a majority of Americans, 56%, are opposed to cutting the pay and benefits of state workers to balance budgets while just 37% are in favor of it."
While Wragge called them "state workers," the actual poll consistently used the phrase "public employees," never state workers or government workers. On NBC's Today on Tuesday, pollster Frank Luntz explained how one phrase invokes a positive response while the other does not. Speaking to co-host Matt Lauer about the newly released CBS poll, he noted: "If you call them 'public workers' a majority of Americans respect them. If you call them 'government workers' a majority of Americans don't." Clearly, CBS and the New York Times selected wording that would elicit a response favorable to the liberal position on the issue.
I love teachers. I really do. And I'm sure that most are overworked and underpaid. Certainly, no one is getting rich from teaching kids. I applaud the hardworking teachers across this land.
But, as has happened in Wisconsin, when teachers unions muscle legislators like the Mafia and Democrats abandon their voting posts because they don't like projected outcomes, haven't we abandoned the very foundational principles of our republic? Where were the "be civil" mainstream media police last Friday morning, when union demonstrators screamed at legislators on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly while they voted?
More proof of union dominance and monopoly came out Feb. 22, when Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board released a report that disclosed the top 10 lobbying groups in the state. Look who is at the top of the list:
Joe Scarborough's "intuitive gut reaction" to the mess in Wisconsin is that Gov. Walker's holdout against union pleas for collective bargaining "seems kind of un-American" to him. It supposedly pained the self-described small-government conservative to say it, but he held to his opinion on Monday's "Morning Joe."
"I'm going to get killed for saying this," Scarborough hesitantly prefaced his confession. "I'm going to get so killed for saying this – I hate to say this, but the concept of telling people that they cannot come together to negotiate with a government – it just kind of seems un-American to me."
The "Morning Joe" panel was covering the latest updates on the standoff in Wisconsin between Gov. Walker and the public sector unions, who are willing to compromise on some demands but want to keep their ability to collectively bargain. Walker still refuses to meet their demands, saying that unions' historic abuse of collective bargaining power contributed to the budget mess his state is now in.
At the top of Saturday's CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cheered unions protests across the country: "Workers uniting. 50 rallies are planned in 50 states today, as organizers show solidarity with Wisconsin state workers, fighting to preserve their right to collectively bargain for benefits and work conditions."
Introducing the segment later, fellow co-host Rebecca Jarvis noted how the protests were organized by MoveOn.org. Rather than accurately label the organization as left-wing, she simply referred to it as "an advocacy group." In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers announced that "workers who are coming to these rallies around the country to support Wisconsin workers are being told to wear those red t-shirts we've become so familiar with." The headline on screen throughout the segment referenced Karl Marx: "Workers of the Nation Unite; 50 State Rallies to Support Union Rights."
Barack Obama's new era of civility was over before it began. You wouldn't know it from reading The New York Times, watching Katie Couric or listening to the Democratic manners police. But America has been overrun by foul-mouthed, fist-clenching wildebeests.
Yes, the tea party movement is responsible — for sending these liberal goons into an insane rage, that is. After enduring two years of false smears as sexist, racist, homophobic barbarians, it is grassroots conservatives and taxpayer advocates who have been ceaselessly subjected to rhetorical projectile vomit. It is Obama's rank-and-file "community organizers" on the streets fomenting the hate against their political enemies. Not the other way around.
Chuck Todd has developed an interesting device to delegitimize support for Gov. Scott Walker, depicting his backers as uneducated, frustrated, blue-collar people who are willing to "lash out at government workers."
Yup, there's no respectable basis to support Walker and his call for reforms on a collective bargaining system that has nearly wrecked Wisconsin and many other states. No, there's just the irrational reaction of the embittered, ignorant masses.
Todd offered his analysis on today's Morning Joe in explaining that the Obama administration is backing off a bold stand on Wisconsin, given its swing-state status.
From all appearances, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has a story, and he's sticking to it -- never mind the facts.
On February 17 (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in an item which mostly told readers that pending legislation would "eliminate collective-bargaining rights," Bauer let a kernel of truth slip into his second-last of nearly 40 paragraphs:
Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.
If "unions still could represent workers," and can still "seek pay increases," then they would still have at least some “collective-bargaining rights.” They wouldn't be as extensive, and perhaps they would be severely limited. But some level of "collective-bargaining rights" would still exist. Therefore, Bauer's claims and implications elsewhere in his report that the legislation would completely "eliminate collective-bargaining rights" were self-evidently false and deceptive.
In a laughably titled story ("Facts overshadowed in debate over union bill") datelined yesterday, Bauer again demonstrates, with assistance from colleague Patrick Condon, that he won't let a silly thing like the truth stand in his way. Each of the following excerpted items implicitly or explicitly asserts that all collective-bargaining rights would end:
Tuesday’s NewsBusters’ piece documenting the broadcast networks’ incredible double standard on protests — how reporters zeroed in on inflammatory signs to try and discredit the Tea Party while ignoring similar or worse signs at the left-wing union protests in Wisconsin — garnered national media attention.
On Tuesday evening, nationally-syndicated radio host Mark Levin cited the NewsBusters’ study as proving how the media “are a disgrace, absolute disgrace. You did everything you could to trash the Tea Party movement, and you do everything you can right now to protect the vulgarity and poison of the Left and the thugs in Madison, Wisconsin.” (Full transcript and audio link below.)
On Thursday night, during the “Grapevine” segment of FNC’s Special Report, anchor Bret Baier led off with our study (video and transcript below the fold):
Ed Schultz is a firm believer in the law. Most of the time.
On his radio show yesterday, Schultz demonstrated how he's willing to be flexible when it comes to legalities, especially if it helps those sharing his politics.
Schultz was talking with Democratic state senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the so-called "Wisconsin 14" who have fled the state to avoid voting on what they consider union-busting measures in Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget. After Schultz asked how the absent lawmakers were covering their expenses and Erpenbach said they were paying out of pocket, Schultz suggested this (audio here) --
While NBC was quick to cover a prank phone call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by a left-wing website on Wednesday, it did not give one word of reporting to a video sting earlier this month that showed Planned Parenthood employees agreeing to abortions for hypothetical underage girls involved in sex trafficking.
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News featured a report by correspondent Michael Isikoff, who argued that the prank call on Walker "provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they've been saying all along, to crush public unions." On Thursday's Today, news reader Natalie Morales similarly declared: "Wisconsin Democrats say a recording of a prank call to Governor Scott Walker is proof that he plans to crush public worker unions."
"It's like they have the same writer!" Fox News' Sean Hannity marveled after watching a montage of liberal journalists comparing the labor union protests in Madison, Wisconsin, with the anti-Mubarak demonstrations weeks ago in Cairo.
"Sean, this is really goofy. These reporters should be embarrassed," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell agreed on last night's "Hannity."
"If you want to find a comparison, I'll give you a comparison. What do Mubarak, Qadhafi, and the Democratic legislators have in common?" the Media Research Center founder asked Hannity, answering with the punchline, "They're all in hiding."
Paul Krugman’s New York Times column for Friday, “Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.,” used for both headline and text fodder a book of far-left paranoid propaganda by Naomi Klein to push Krugman’s pet idea: That Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to make a “power grab” in order “to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy.”
Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad -- specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.
The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.
Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Michael Isikoff claimed a prank phone call on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "provided his critics with evidence that his real motivation is what they've been saying all along, to crush public unions." On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill declared the "embarrassing" call revealed Walker's "plan for putting pressure on the big unions."
Isikoff suggested that Walker's private phone conversation with Ian Murphy of the left-wing Buffalo Beast website (who was pretending to be billionaire donor David Koch) ran counter to the Wisconsin Governor's public statements on his budget-cutting proposal: "Publicly, Governor Scott Walker has insisted the standoff over union rights in Wisconsin is all about saving money." On the Early Show, correspondent Dean Reynolds proclaimed: "Walker is heard discussing strategy to force Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin and vote. In another exchange, he tells of plans to punish state workers with layoffs."
Reporters also portrayed this as a national union issue, but mostly failed to point out the national problem of pension underfunding.
Actually, the battle is the result of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to balance the state budget by asking roughly 300,000 state employees to contribute more to their pension funds and health insurance and give up the ability to negotiate more than their wages. According to CNNMoney, the state faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit.
Only 1 out of 24 network evening stories about the Wisconsin "feud" since Feb. 16, reported a critical number relating to union pensions: $1 trillion. That's the huge deficit facing public workers' pensions in America and the reason Walker and other state governors are facing tough choices including demanding public workers contribute more.