Curse those wascally Wepublicans in Wisconsin, you'll never believe what they're up to now.
Bad enough for the Badger State GOP to abet Gov. Scott Walker in his nefarious scheme to prevent public-sector unions from bankrupting the state. Worse, they are hatching even more diabolical plots while Dem state senators continue their courageous evasion of the law to avoid voting on Walker's proposal.
Here are the sordid details, as ferreted out by ace ferret-outer Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Monday night (video after page break) --
Being consistently pro-union puts one in an awkward position when unions start making some very inconvenient demands. The Huffington Post is learning that lesson the hard way.
On the heels of AOL's $315 million HuffPo buyout - the largest such acquisition in the blogosphere's short history - the Newspaper Guild said the following in a letter to Arianna Huffington (h/t Joe Pompeo):
As we look to the future, we look to you, Arianna Huffington, as a leader in web-based news coverage, to demonstrate your commitment to the value of journalism, and to help prevent independent journalists from having to settle for third-world wages.
"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski and regular guest John Heilemann both pulled the class warfare card and pressured Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) Tuesday on why he did not raise taxes on the wealthy to cover the state's budget shortfall, rather than pushing to require union members pay into their pensions.
"You're receiving a lot of criticism for only asking the other side to give, and they have given – on health care and pensions. Are you asking people in your state across the board, including the wealthiest, to give, to help deal with the crisis....and I mean tax increases for the wealthy, or in any way, has anyone else been asked to give?" Brzezinski pressed Walker.
Following up on Brzezinski's question, New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann asked Walker why he cut the corporate income tax rate and chose to go after unions – but Walker corrected him. "We didn't cut corporate taxes," he answered.
On CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and compared union protests in that state to the democracy movements spreading across the Middle East: "There are also reports that this could spread to at least nine other states....Is Madison, Wisconsin, Congressman, the Tunisia of American politics now?"
At the top of the broadcast, Schieffer declared "protests at home and abroad" and moments later, he touted the size and duration of the demonstrations in Wisconsin: "For the fourth day in a row and in the largest turnout yet, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again in Madison, Wisconsin as they marched to protest major cuts in state spending. The question is, will the protests spread to other states where similar proposals to cut spending are also being contemplated?"
The liberal media have virtually ignored the scandal of medical doctors handing out fraudulent sick notes to labor union protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham noted on yesterday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
What's more, while the media have been quick to portray Wisconsin public sector employees as victims, media outlets have ignored the perspective of parents who have been inconvenienced by the teachers' sick-out, the Media Research Center director of media analysis told substitute host Stuart Varney:
On MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." Tuesday, liberal journalist Carl Bernstein criticized the continued stance of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) against the right of public unions to collectively bargain. The liberal Watergate journalistic "legend" labeled the governor's efforts as "ahistorical" and "demagogic."
When the governor cut into benefits and pensions of state employees to solve a budget shortfall, union members and supporters of their cause took to the streets of the state capital. Later they were willing to compromise on the amount they had to pay for their benefits, but they demanded to keep their collective bargaining ability. The governor was not willing to cut that deal.
Bernstein said Gov. Walker's move went beyond his own prudence, calling it a "very political, demagogic move by a governor who knows that the Democratic Party subsists to some extent on union contributions." He even called out conservatives for making too many issues into partisan battles.
Nothing more cogently demonstrated the left's apparent strategy in Madison, Wisconsin thus far than a group of pro-union demonstrators silencing a Fox News report on a budding scandal there with cries demanding that Fox "tell the truth." Demonstrators, and much of the left over the past week, were unconcerned with the content of Fox's report. The fact that Fox was doing the reporting meant that the truth was not being told.
Fox was attempting to interview the president of the MacIver Institute, a free market think tank based in Wisconsin, which had reported two days earlier that doctors were writing sick notes for union demonstrators in Madison so they could get out of work and attend the protests (check out video of the protesters below the break).
In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge worried about the fallout from budget cutting in Wisconsin: "It seems to look like this governor [Scott Walker] is trying to basically break unions and that other states may then follow suit. Is this – should unions be on alert all around the country?"
Huckabee pointed out: "I think unions have to get realistic. They can't expect to pay $1 in and get $57 from the state as a pension match. Nobody else gets that." Earlier, Wragge expressed skepticism of Governor's Walker's handling of the issue: "...what you've seen...with the workers and the unions versus Governor Scott Walker and the teacher sick outs, do you think this was handled the best way it possibly could have been?" Huckabee defended Walker: "I think he's got to call attention to the fact that this is a serious issue....You can't borrow money that you can't afford to pay back."
Normally you'd expect a left-winger like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to do cartwheels if current-day Republicans agree with opinions held by Franklin Roosevelt during the depths of the Great Depression.
This is not one of those times, however, as we are learning during the ongoing battle in Wisconsin over public-sector unions.
What's happening in Wisconsin, according to Maddow, is an existential threat not just to unions but to the Democratic Party. Since the Supreme Court ruling last year in Citizens United v. FEC, Maddow said on her show Friday, Republicans have increased their advantage in political donations from outside groups such as corporations, unions and advocacy groups --
In an interview with the Democratic minority leader of the Wisconsin state senate on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill proposed a solution to the political stalemate over curbing benefits for public union workers in the state, suggesting Democrats "work together" with "more moderate Republicans" to "come to some sort of agreement that could then put pressure on the Governor."
Minority Leader Mark Miller eagerly agreed: "Absolutely. I think cooler heads need to prevail....There is such a thing as compromise. The Governor needs to be part of that." Earlier, Hill had explained that: "There's been a proposal put forth by moderate Republicans in the state which would effectively take those collective bargaining rights away [from teachers unions], but only for two years, it would bring them back in 2013." To which Miller remarked: "Well, the problem is, is that the Governor has to agree. And the Governor has not done anything except insist...it has to be his way. All or nothing. And the Governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy, you negotiate."
Discussing the union protests in Wisconsin with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge noted: "You talk about this being a potential Tea Party movement for the Left." In response, Dickerson proclaimed: "...this is the energizing moment on the Left, progressives and unions have always been together....It's about the threat to their benefits."
It's interesting that Dickerson made a positive comparison to the Tea Party, given that last year he appeared on the Early Show and described how Democrats hoped the conservative movement would "overreach" and become "a stain on the Republican Party." On Monday, he further explained to Wragge how liberals "were a little dispirited, Barack Obama didn't turn out to be the president they had hoped. Well now they're quite energized and it's not about President Obama anymore."
Mika Brzezinski learned a life lesson this morning: look before you leap to defend liberals . . . [h/t reader Ray R]
At the top of Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough referenced the hateful emails he and Mika had received from the left and the similarly ugly signs held by Wisconsin union protesters. Mika reflexively defended the vileness, saying that people were "hurting and really don't feel like they're being heard."
Aww. But later, the show rolled video of some of the Wisconsin signs, including one with crosshairs on Gov. Walker, another calling him Hitler, one accusing him of rape, and of course that great old standard "death to tyrants."
To her credit, Mika did change her tune. View video after the jump.
In the midst of outcry that Wisconsin teachers were skipping school to protest the governor's new budget bill and demand collective bargaining rights, NBC's Norah O'Donnell provided the teachers' motives as an argument for their side. She failed to mention why Wisconsin Gov. Walker cut into their benefits in the first place.
Covering the story on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," O'Donnell remarked that "I know there are some that think this is a travesty for the schoolchildren of that state." She added, however, "But these teachers are talking about their pensions, and they're worried about having to pay more for their health care costs, right?"
The explosive debate has featured voices from the left and right crying about the compensation Wisconsin public employees receive and what they pay in, compared with that of private sector workers. The conservative Heritage Foundation explains that Wisconsin's budget was already in the red, and that state employees enjoy generous benefits that many other citizens don't.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge attempted to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb costly benefits for public sector unions in his state as purely political: "Your teachers union, which votes Democratic...hit very hard. Yet your police, state trooper, firemen unions, who all supported and endorsed you, did not get touched in any of this. Why is that?" [Audio available here]
In the live interview, Walker quickly dismantled the entire premise of Wragge's attack: "Chris that actually is not true. There are 314 fire and police unions in the state. Four of them endorsed me. All the rest endorsed my opponent." Wragge was undeterred in his follow up question: "But you understand their position with some of the state workers, saying you're essentially taking away their voice by trying to break these unions. You understand that, correct?"
A prominent Tea Party group has announced that it will stage a counter-protest in Wisconsin on Saturday aimed at supporting a measure in that state to revoke public employee unions' collective bargaining rights and to force them to pay a slightly larger amount into their own health and pension plans.
That measure sparked large protests in Madison Thursday by union groups, and a walkout by Democratic legislators in a successful effort to deny the State Senate a voting quorum.
The Associated Press's Scott Bauer opened his report ("Wis. lawmakers flee state to block anti-union bill") from Madison, Wisconsin today by completely misrepresenting the nature of the legislation involved in the current standoff:
Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public workers, Wisconsin Democrats retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.
Wow. That's pretty serious. Any reasonable reader of that paragraph would believe that evil Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature aim to end all collective-bargaining rights, break up the Badger State's public-sector unions, and relegate them to the ash heap of history.
But that's not what's at stake, as Bauer himself, after repeating the falsehood in his 34th paragraph, finally revealed what his definition of "elimination" is in Paragraph 36:
In the weeks following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) there was a constant media barrage dishonestly contending liberals never use violent rhetoric or imagery.
As Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker tries to balance his state's budget with a bold move limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees, the Left have come out in force dispelling the myth that only the Right uses harsh tones to make its point (video follows with commentary):
Andrea Mitchell invited on DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, on Tuesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports, to announce the Democrats have picked Charlotte, North Carolina to host their 2012 convention but the MSNBC host couldn't resist hitting Kaine from the left as she scolded Democrats for selecting a right-to-work state. Mitchell, taking up for Big Labor, even challenged Kaine: "I defy you to find a labor hotel for these delegates, for all the AFL-CIO folks coming to Charlotte."
The following exchange was aired on the February 1 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:
It would appear that if it weren't for the center-right blogosphere, Fox News, a few business dailies, a few conservative pundits, and talk radio, very few people would know about the hundreds of waivers granted by the Obama administration to companies, unions, not-for-profits, states, and other entities wishing to be spared the burdens of complying with Obamacare for at least another year.
The latest count as of last Wednesday's Health and Human Services Department press release was 732, including four states: Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, and Tennessee.
That the waiver situation is not more widely known is largely due to the fact that the establishment press has shown almost no interest in it.
The Associated Press has had five days to cover HHS's latest release. It is news, as HHS's release was, as far as I can tell, the first indication that "Over 500 waivers were granted in December." Here is the result of a search on "health waivers" (not in quotes) at the AP's main web site at about 10:00 this morning:
Just because the site was founded by an alleged plagiarist doesn't mean it's totally devoid of ethical clout. Though you do have to wonder: from where does the Huffington Post recruit its bloggers?
The site reportedly informed one of its unpaid contributors last week that he was being let go. The offense: he had used his press credentials as a HuffPo blogger to get labor union demonstrators access to a Mortgage Bankers Association event, where they staged a rowdy protest.
I was reading Associated Press reporter Sam Hananel's coverage ("Unions see sharp membership declines again") of Uncle Sam's latest report on union membership, and I came to this paragraph about what happened with private-sector union representation in 2010:
Union membership in the private sector fell from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent, a low point not seen since the infancy of the labor movement in the 1930s. The steepest decline was seen in the construction industry, where unemployment remains around 20 percent.
Naturally, I expected to see Hananel's reportage next address what happened in the public sector. As you'll see, readers only got half of what they should have been told:
If liberalism is more "academic" than conservatism, it's because it looks a lot better in a classroom (or a newsroom) than it does in real life. Just ask Harper's Magazine publisher John "Rick" MacArthur.
In a recent article, New York magazine detailed an ongoing fight at Harper's between MacArthur and his recently-unionized staff. MacArthur fought hard against unionization, and is now trying to lay off a veteran at the magazine who, according to NY mag, "played a key role in the union drive." The newly-formed union says the effort "is pure retaliation."
The irony of the situation has the righty blogosphere giggling: despite his vehement efforts to prevent unionization, MacArthur and his magazine have a history of supporting the labor movement.
From the New York Times on Thursday, in an item put together with the help of a half-dozen Times reporters ("Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down"; bold is mine):
... Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday (during the initial stages of the Northeast's post-Christmas snowstorm -- Ed.) underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.
“You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”
That's quite an interesting assertion, given the following item carried in the New York Post today:
The dictionary says that a rumor is:
- a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts.
- gossip; hearsay
The dictionaries in use at the offices of the New York Times must include the following backup definition: "Any set of facts and/or allegations reported by the New York Post."
After yesterday's blockbuster report ("Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest") Reporters at the Post piled on today, so to speak, with additional news relating to the snow removal slowdown in which New York City's unionized sanitation workers allegedly engaged:
Sanitation workers targeted specific neighborhoods
Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest
Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.
Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
In response to this outrage, the New York Times has swung into frantic action -- by scolding Gotham residents for expecting perfection, portraying the mayor as getting a handle on things, and criticizing private snow removal contractors who didn't drop everything when a late-to-the-problem city called them for help. Meanwhile the Times will only acknowledge that the city will "look into" the slowdown allegations.
When businesses, families and individuals face tough economic times, they have to tighten the belt. Businesses lay off workers and/or trim pay and benefits while families and individuals prioritize their budgets by foregoing vacation and entertainment spending.
The government sector, not so much, and the electorate are angry about it.
Accordingly, governors and governors-elect throughout the country are talking about trimming back state employee pay and benefits as part of austerity packages to balance state budgets.
The seemingly endless variety of "name that party" stunts has yet another wrinkle.
In this case, Matt Drudge is currently linking to a Des Moines Register story ("Culver OKs state pay raises"; also saved here at host for future reference) about how outgoing Iowa Governor Chet Culver has decided to rush through union contracts granting thousands of state employees 3% raises (before considering "step" raises that occur with seniority) in each of the next two years before Republican Governor Terry Bransted takes over in January.
The headline for Drudge's link is "Lame duck Dem governor in Iowa OKs $100 million in raises for state workers." Actually, it's $100 million a year for the next two years. But the linked Register article by Jason Clayworth never identifies Culver's Democratic Party affiliation, even though he tags the governor's opposition as Republican twice in the first two paragraphs. In other words, not that it was difficult to show that Culver is a Dem, but Drudge had to figure it out and tell his readers -- and we thank him for that.
Before critiquing, I should recognize that USA Today, while most of the establishment press has snoozed, has done a very creditable job of exposing the wide differential between federal employee and private-sector pay (Aug. 10, 2010; "Federal workers earning double their private counterparts"), and of identifying the outrageous degree by which salaries in the upper levels of Uncle Sam's empire are expanding (Dec. 11, 2009; "For feds, more get 6-figure salaries").
Yesterday, in a mostly well-done report, USAT's Dennis Cauchon, who also authored the two linked items in the previous paragraph, delved into many of the details concerning the growing number of federal employees who get paid $150,000 or more per year. Among his more important points is the fact that a great deal of the expansion into this high level of pay has occurred since President Obama took office, during a period when overall inflation has been very low:
Sometimes the liberal media's bias is subtle and nuanced, even, dare I say, clever.
This is not one of those times.
On Sirius host Lynn Samuels's eponymous program yesterday, Richard Bey, a liberal talk show host, peddled the laughable assertion that, compared to former President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama has governed as an inclusive, consensus-building chief executive.
"We embrace debate," declared Bey, referring to Democrats and liberals. "They don't. And if you want an example of that, go back and look at some of George Bush's town halls and then look at President Obama and some of the people who have approached him so closely that they're able to engage him in critical discussion, critical of his presidency, for quite a long period of time." [Audio here.]
Following up on yesterday's post ("Government/General Motors, UAW Hose Long-Time Members Twice in Two Weeks"; at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- What a "revolting" development this is, as reported in the Detroit News:
GM Orion assembly workers to picket UAW over two-tier wage structure
In an unprecedented move, Government/General Motors and the UAW are imposing a two-tiered wage structure involving pay cuts approaching 50% on union members with as many as 10-12 years of seniority. That's right; the Democratic Obama administration and the alleged champions of workers' interests are acting in concert to gut the earnings of hundreds of the union's longtime, dues-paying members.
Does anyone expect any press coverage of this outside of Detroit?
Here's more from the story by Louis Aguilar and Christina Rogers: