Public Unions

Big Labor Stumbles in Wisconsin

In a showdown with Gov. Scott Walker, democracy is the big winner.

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More Than They Bargained For: Scott Walker, Unions, and the Fight for Wisconsin, by Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, University of Wisconsin Press, 350 pages, $26.95.

It's not clear who first introduced the chant "this is what democracy looks like" to the epic early-2011 showdown in Wisconsin between angry public-sector union workers and newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The protesters shouting the phrase surely meant to insist that they were the true voice of the people. But despite the sheer size and raucous noise of the crowds that packed the Wisconsin State Capitol for weeks protesting Walker's proposed legislation to roll back union benefits and prerogatives, the demonstrators ultimately lost every fight that mattered. They lost because the voting public in Wisconsin approved of Walker's plan, albeit narrowly. 

The people had already spoken when they elected a Republican governor and legislative majority in 2010. Democracy then re-affirmed Walker's controversial decisions even under the glare of a nationwide spotlight and a hostile press. Nevertheless, the sloganeers were correct, just not in the way they intended.

As Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporters Jason Stein and Patrick Marley note in their book More Than They Bargained For: Scott Walker, Unions, and the Fight for Wisconsin, "The citizens of Wisconsin and indeed the country as a whole, sometimes derided as apathetic and out of touch, showed that they were eager to engage on both sides, to defend the rights of workers and to safeguard the state's financial future." The engaged activists "marched, they sent hundreds of thousands of emails and tweets, and they overwhelmingly held themselves to a peaceful, democratic purpose, which asserted itself even in the face of the many exceptions to that general rule. Likewise, the police and authorities also managed to handle the protests without serious injury or loss of life on either side. When it came time to vote, citizens set turnout records."

Engaged citizenry, vigorous debate, productive legislatures: This is everything that good-government types usually pine for. Yet most national media outlets viewed the Walker/union battle as something distasteful and unfortunate. "How did Wisconsin become the most divisive place in America?" clucked a New York Times headline. 

One of the greatest motivators for political participation, it turns out, is bitter division. As Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Beaver Dam) put it in February 2011, "Democracy isn't pretty all the time."

In their admirably evenhanded account, Stein and Marley leave readers to their own conclusions. But More Than They Bargained For suggests that the Wisconsin fight was less a failure of the Badger State's democratic traditions than an example of how strong those traditions remain.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of public-sector unions. The nation's largest such organization, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was founded there in 1932 as the Wisconsin State Employees Association. That history fueled the outraged response to Walker's attempted rollback of labor's power. This was their home turf. If it could happen there, it could happen anywhere.

Unionizing people working on the taxpayer's dime was a divisive issue from the start. "[Franklin Delano] Roosevelt said that such unions couldn't take the same approach or militancy given that 'their employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress,'?" Stein and Marley note.

Unlike in the private sector, government-employee union members are also a political constituency of their ostensible bosses. The average private-sector boss, when working out a contract with a union, doesn't have to worry that his employees might vote him out of a job—or give barrels of money to his rivals—if they don't like his contract. 

That political power gives public-sector unions an edge their private-sector counterparts lack. It's no coincidence that while private-sector unionization has plummeted from 20.1 percent in 1980 to 6.6 percent in 2012, the public-sector rate rests at 35.9 percent, down just a bit from a 1994 high of 38.7 percent, according to the Labor Department. In 2009 for the first time ever, the number of public-sector union workers exceeded those outside government employ. (As of 2012 the gap is 7.3 million to 7 million and growing.)

As Milwaukee County Executive from 2002 to 2010, young Scott Walker had clashed repeatedly with public-sector unions. Labor costs are one of the main elements in local government budgets. His Democratic predecessor as county executive cut sweetheart deals with unions, such as providing six-figure payouts to some retirees who were also getting $60,000 a year in annuities, driving up current and future costs. Walker fought, mostly futilely, to prune back those promises.

"Walker's agenda quickly brought him and the county's public employee unions into conflict," write Stein and Marley. "In negotiations, he struggled to get concessions and agreements that would produce the kinds of savings for taxpayers that he had built into his budgets. Unions countered that Walker was budgeting in bad faith, plugging numbers into his budget plans that he knew unions would successfully oppose at the bargaining table." Walker grew so frustrated that in 2009 he called for dismantling the entire county government and parceling out its functions.

Despite this history, few suspected the coming firestorm when the boyish-looking Republican was elected governor in 2010. Walker hadn't campaigned on rewriting public-sector union laws—a fact his critics would return to repeatedly, arguing he lacked a mandate. (Stein and Marley are sympathetic to this critique.) But Walker's county-level budgetary battles were never far from his mind.

To avoid a repeat of his setbacks in Milwaukee County, Walker set out to weaken union power from the get-go. In his first budget, the governor boosted the amount that government employees must pay for their health insurance and pension costs. He also proposed rewriting the state labor law to end automatic dues deductions from paychecks, limit collective bargaining to wages and not benefits, and require that the unions subject themselves to annual recertification votes of their members. 

In effect, Walker was calling for state employees to abide by right-to-work laws. The workers could still join unions, but the unions would lack the power to compel dues from those who did not want to join. This would place tremendous strain on Big Labor's resources and power. The weakened unions would in turn weaken the state Democrats who depend on them. 

It was as hardball as politics gets. Walker even exempted the police and firefighter unions from the legislation, precisely because he knew they had the strongest public sympathy and the best relationship with Republicans. (A key reason why Ohio Gov. John Kasich's similar reforms were successfully rolled back by unions in 2011 was that he didn't make this exception.)

Outwardly, Scott Walker was an unlikely catalyst for such a spectacular battle. The 43-year-old former Eagle Scout was an exceedingly mild-mannered technocrat with no prior reputation as a bomb thrower. But when Walker took office, the state had a projected shortfall of $3 billion, about 5 percent of the budget, for the next two years. (Wisconsin has biennial budgets.) The new governor did not want to start off with tax hikes, and the state's constitution requires a balanced budget. 

The problem fell into Walker's lap because money from President Barack Obama's February 2009 stimulus had propped up the state during the previous year and a half, papering over deficits. But now the federal spigot had run dry. 

The unions were not interested in giving anything up. After Walker's election, they pushed the outgoing administration and Democrat-majority legislature to quickly approve new work contracts before Walker and the new GOP majority could be sworn in. The effort failed thanks to a single vote cast by an irascible retiring Senate Democrat. 

When the governor and his aides revealed their union-busting plans to state GOP lawmakers in February 2011, Walker rather naively told them they could rush this through the legislature with a minimum of controversy. Older hands at the state capitol knew better. State Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) told Walker, "Come on, people kill each other's dogs over this shit."

While Wisconsin is generally seen as moderate, that's more of a mathematical average than a character of centrism. The state is split between heavily liberal Democrats dominating urban areas such as Madison and strong conservatives controlling the rural parts. The practical effect of this is that the state often swings radically from election to election. Hence a liberal senator like Russ Feingold can be replaced by someone equally conservative, Ron Johnson.

This means that either party's gains at the statehouse can be quickly washed away in the next election. Indeed, during the 2011 fight, the unions actually agreed to Walker's financial concessions, offering them in exchange for dropping the collective bargaining changes. But this wasn't the concession that it appeared to be: The unions knew they could get it all back the next time there was a Democratic majority. Part of what Walker was trying to do was to permanently change the state's politics.

Public controversy grew quickly after Walker's plans were formally announced in February. Within days, the state capitol was a circus. A group of 14 Democratic legislators fled to Illinois in a bid to prevent the bill's passage by making a quorum impossible. Daily Show correspondent John Oliver even tried to mount a visual gag linking the Wisconsin protests to the Arab Spring by bringing a camel to the capitol. The stunt misfired when the camel got its leg stuck in a fence and panicked.

Yet as rowdy as the Wisconsin protests were during the spring, they never got out of control. Astonishingly, there were only a few arrests. "The masses of people remained overwhelmingly peaceful and generally respectful, and that wasn't accidental or simply spontaneous," Stein and Marley write. "Unions assigned people to self-police their protests and try to intervene before problems developed. When the Senate convened, urgent messages on Twitter called on demonstrators to remain calm and respectful to law enforcement, emphasizing how damaging any act of disrespect or violence could be for their cause."

In other words, protesters policed themselves well because they knew how quickly a negative YouTube moment could go viral. This is a point to which the authors repeatedly return: It only looked from afar like the situation was out of control. 

Still, there was little doubt that Walker would eventually win. He had solid GOP majorities in both chambers of the legislature. When it became clear they couldn't get the 14 AWOL Democrats to return to provide a two-thirds quorum, Republicans simply tweaked the bill until they could pass it with a bare majority. Walker signed it, and that was that. The chanting crowds could not reverse the fact that the voters had already given Walker his majority. 

The protesters then sought to overturn the package at the ballot box. But despite three separate recall votes during the next year, they failed. Walker actually managed to win his own recall vote by a larger margin than he won election in the first place.

But if Walker was making a power play, the unions were moving to jealously guard their power—power that wasn't exactly little "d" democratic in the first place. They were, after all, arguing for their right to extract money directly from the taxpayer-funded paychecks of workers who had never wanted to join in collective bargaining.

In post-circus Wisconsin, it appears that many government workers have voted with their feet. Labor Department filings since More Than They Bargained For was published show that AFSCME Council 40—one of the union's four branches in the state—has gone from 31,730 members in 2011 to just 20,488 now. AFSCME Council 48 went from 9,043 members to just 3,498 during the same time period. (The other two state branches, like most public-sector unions, are not subject to the disclosure requirement, which applies only to unions that represent at least some private-sector workers.)

Some of those workers presumably dropped out because Walker's reforms strictly limited what AFSCME's bargaining could get for them. But if labor solidarity were as strong as the chanting crowds claimed, the declines should not have been that drastic so soon after the reforms passed. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that recall-election exit polls show that Walker got support from 28 percent of union members. A nontrivial minority apparently appreciated getting the choice of whether to join a union.

Stein and Marley's book is a fairly straightforward account, benefiting from their broad knowledge of the state's nuanced politics. The authors bust a few myths, such as the widely held belief that the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch brothers—left-wing bogeymen—were involved in writing Walker's legislation. In fact, it was the governor's own idea. His primary inspiration was Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who rescinded collective bargaining for state employees on his second day in office in 2005.

The book is filled with amusing anecdotes. One Senate Democrat left for Illinois so abruptly that he didn't have time to tell his wife, who had left a crockpot on and had to call a neighbor to get it turned off. Some Republican lawmakers snuck out of the capitol at night by donning hoodies, picking up signs, and pretending to be protesters.

Stein and Marley do lament the decline of bipartisanship that accompanied all this ruckus. "Compromise…had become a 'dirty word,'?" they write. But it is far from clear that a compromise would have done anything more than delay the inevitable policy reckoning of increasing labor payouts vs. decreasing government revenue. And the extremely high level of civic engagement would not have happened without an emotionally contested battle. There's a reason "politics as usual" is usually boring. 

No one can argue that the substantive issues in Wisconsin did not receive a full airing, or that voters were not aware of the policy consequences. This is what democracy looks like.

The protesters may even have done Walker a favor. Had he been able to ram his bill through as originally intended, the governor wouldn't have had a chance to publicly make his case or prove his mettle.

One reason the political class tends to shy away from divisive politics is that one side always stands to lose badly, which is something fans of Walker's actions should bear in mind. His fate could have easily turned out more like that of Ohio's John Kasich, whose reforms were ground into dust by Big Labor.

But sometimes it's better to have clear winners and losers. If Walker's reforms succeed, voters in and out of Wisconsin will have an example of how American policy and politics can change for the better. If not, they'll know who to blame.  

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  1. “”Compromise?had become a ‘dirty word,’?” they write.”
    Bullshit. They mean some GOPers won’t do what the Dems want. The unions were relieved of their gov’t-backed status and now had to convince workers by persuasion; that is a compromise.

    1. Compromise means doing what “reasonable” people want, Sevo. How dare you imply that the GOP is reasonable!

    2. Reminds me of a USA WEEKEND I just got in one of those ad packed bags they hang on your mailbox. It’s got a picture of Reagan and Tip O’Neill on the front, and has the headline “WHEN POLITICS WORKED” and some bullshit about Chris Matthews hearkening back to a more civil time. Cracked me up.

      1. Bill Maher went on record saying he liked Reagan Republicans. No comment from Shrike yet.

    3. Compromise means I don’t get all of what I want in exchange for not doing everything you don’t want me to do.

    4. Walker had to make his compromises with Reality. Recall that absent reform that the unions would not agree to, the entire edifice of teacher pensions would have collapsed. That’s fine by me, they’re commies top to bottom, deserving of slow starvation in their dotage, but Walker was more compassionate. He saved the idiots from their idiocy, something I would have never done. If Barack and Hillary were setting down to a symposium of sea water and arsenic, wouldn’t it be immoral to intervene? Yes, certainly. But Walker is a soft-hearted sort, inserting his very (political) body in between the Dem constituent clique of teachers and the planet’s gravity. Y’all should recognize because it could go right back into freefall very easily.

  2. It’s not clear who first introduced the chant “this is what democracy looks like” to the epic early-2011 showdown in Wisconsin between angry public-sector union workers and newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

    Progs don’t seem to know what Democracy is. You see, when Ted Cruz, an official elected via democratic methods, filibusters Obamacare, he is somehow ‘anti-Democracy’ and ‘Doesn’t know that elections have consequences.’

    When a mob of union members, none of them elected by the public, many of them actually shipped in from other states, swarm into a capitol building, THAT’S Democracy.

    They have it exactly backwards.

    1. “Progs don’t seem to know what Democracy is. You see, when Ted Cruz, an official elected via democratic methods, filibusters Obamacare, he is somehow ‘anti-Democracy’ and ‘Doesn’t know that elections have consequences.'”

      And the problem with the budget is that the GOP won’t do it Obama’s way, so that means they won’t “compromise”.
      Obama, OTOH, is not required to yield at all, since he has a D behind his nae.

      1. No argument about BO and the Dems being uncompromising, but this isn’t a simple budget battle. The GOP is trying to gut a validly passed and signed law that was ruled constitutional through the back door.

        That’s not necessarily wrong or anti-democratic (and indeed I support Cruz et al. on this) but it’s not like they’re just refusing to introduce a new spending program.

        1. So what is the constitutional basis for delaying the employer mandate? It seems to me that the Republicans are using perfectly legal, valid, and constitutional means against a law that the Konstitutional Scholar doesn’t even seem to want to obey…

        2. “That’s not necessarily wrong or anti-democratic (and indeed I support Cruz et al. on this) but it’s not like they’re just refusing to introduce a new spending program.”

          So you agree?

        3. Tulper reminds me of a law-respecting fellow I used to know, decades ago —

          He would sit around getting high on mary jane and then say if the cops busted him for it, he would deserve to go to jail because it was illegal.

        4. The Dems used very underhanded and devious method at their disposal to pass the ACA. The Cornhusker Kickback,The Louisiana Purchase, and the most devious was to “deem” it passed specifically to avoid Scott Brown’s vote.Brown was a Republican elected in a Democrat state with every voter knowing if he was elected he was going to be the deciding negative vote against the ACA. This was clearly a move by Dems to avoid the clear wishes of the people.

          In light of Dems method of passing it, I see any move the young gun Conservatives make to vote it out to be fair game.

          1. and the most devious was to “deem” it passed specifically to avoid Scott Brown’s vote

            Er, actually that was going to be Pelosi’s strategy in the House. It had nothing to do with Scott Brown in the Senate. And she didn’t wind up having to do it because Bart Stupak and the tiny Dem pro-life contingent caved at the last minute.

            The Cornhusker Kickback etc. didn’t make it into the final bill.

            In the Senate, they passed the original bill fair and square by the usual process, before the MA election. Then they used the budget reconciliation process, which was questionable but not unprecedented (the GOP had done this several times in the Bush years), to pass the conference committee report when the House version differed.

        5. “The GOP is trying to gut a validly passed and signed law that was ruled constitutional through the back door.”

          Democrats apparently want to ignore the law, that is the one giving the House the Power of the Purse, as written into the Constitution. You know, the one that means one Congress can’t bind the hands of future Congresses? This power is essentially a veto by the public since the House is the one closest to the people.

      2. Obama WILL NOT NEGOTIATE! Okay, then what are his demands? No one will say out loud because any plausible figure will break the $20t barrier; a headline no one wants ascribed to themselves.

    2. To progs democracy, like bipartisanship, means do what we want.

      And I do want to mention that it is not a coincidence that every time progressives lose Americans & America, in general, wins.

  3. “this is what democracy looks like”

    A tyrannous kleptocracy of the minority?

    1. “This is what democracy looks like”

      Progs: “Oh God it’s hideous, kill it with fire.”

    2. As our friend Andy Stern said to justify his union’s lobbying activity, “Democracy is an ugly picture sometimes”

    3. Except for the ‘minority’ part, which may or not be so, any classical figure would agree, and not happily. Yes, screaming loonies crapping in the fountains is EXACTLY what democracy looks like.

    4. Democracy looks like two wolves eating a sheep where all three voted on what’s for dinner.

      That is when a democracy is allowed to vote on laws that steal from or remove the liberties of certain classes of citizens. Like a law that forces you to pay a union dues to have a job with someone else. If such a law is acceptable, why not a law requiring unions to pay non-union members dues as well? If some union thug approached me as a legislator arguing for forcing other employees to pay dues, I’d suggest a law requiring them to pay citizens dues instead.

  4. This is everything that good-government types usually pine for. Yet most national media outlets viewed the Walker/union battle as something distasteful and unfortunate.

    That’s because progressives don’t actually believe in democracy. They see it as a useful tool to advance their agenda but will quickly move on to other tools when their agenda is democratically rejected.

    1. “Good government” is when they win.

  5. I’m a student at UW-Madison, and boy were the last few years fun!

    Couple experiences:

    1. The hunger striker who said he’d been hunger striking for over 127 days that I saw drinking booze and eating chips at midday.

    2. The people that handcuffed themselves to bike racks.

    3. Half the UW student body getting in sleeping bags and camping out in the capitol. Some of my… acquaintances were there, and when I walked up to the capitol to see what the hullabaloo was about, I asked them what they were doing. The response? “I donno, some Republican is being a jackass.” Ah yes, substantive politics.

    4. My girlfriend and I snuck up to the capital at 2:00 AM to “chalk” support for Walker. As you can imagine, all the sidewalk graffiti was profane, incoherent, and very anti-Walker. So she and I spent an hour and a few boxes of chalk putting our own opinions down, which were mostly libertarian. As we shuffled away back down State Street, we kept glancing back because an angry crowd was forming. A few homeless people had been watching us chalk, and they got up and read what we had put down. We heard this ridiculous screaming and we saw them waving their arms about. A few minutes later we saw them dumping buckets of water over our chalk. It was gone the next morning.

    5. I put a number of Walker/Ron Paul signs up in my apartment window, which led to a vicious fight with my roommates. At one point one came back drunk in the middle of the week and physically accosted me.

    1. +1. I graduated in 2011. The insanity of the union people was just wonderful. I actually worked at the capital during the union demonstrations.

      There was one guy that we called ‘Segway Jeremy’ because he rode around absolutely everywhere on a Segway and claimed to have some sort of health problem that necessitated that he go everywhere on it. I assume it was bullshit because we looked him up in some Wisconsin criminal databases and the man is basically a con artist who has been taken to court multiple times for non-payment of child support. He also made a website hitting people up for money because he claimed that he was doing such noble work at the capital (he made youtube videos where he yelled at Assemblymen) that he was unable to get a paying job.

      To recap: This is a man who didn’t pay child support yet had enough money to buy a $2000 Segway and refused to get a job. He also was so irresponsible that he didn’t pay for the well being of HIS OWN CHILDREN but called anti-Union people selfish for not wanting to pay bus drivers $80,000 a year. I’d say he’s pretty standard for the type of people that I saw at the capital.

      1. Haha! I know exactly who you are talking about. Before Ian’s moved across State street he used to ride up into the store on his Segway, which was completely plastered with leftist stickers, and order pizza.

        Perhaps we met at some point… I’ve been to a number of YAL and Students for Objectivism meetings. I was a body guard for Ron Paul when he came, and I write opinion articles for the Daily Cardinal as their token conservative/libertarian.

        1. I doubt I know you. I never went to any YAL meetings. I worked for the Republicans at the capital because, even though I’m generally not a fan of the Republican party, the Democrats in Wisconsin are just awful. Dane County is a fever swamp and they’ve completely destroyed Milwaukee economically.

          The Wisconsin Democratic Party gave us Russ Feingold, Tammy Baldwin, and Dave Cieslewicz. I can’t think of anyone the Republican party of Wisconsin has given us in recent years that is anywhere near as bad as that trio. I actually like the Fitzgerald’s and Walker seems to be a pretty good guy based on the one time I met him.

          A friend of mine was a journalism major who worked for the Daily Cardinal and became completely disillusioned with it as a career based entirely on the shitheads she had to deal with while there. I think she’s still working for the Republicans up around Milwaukee.

          1. Yeah… it’s a very leftist paper. That said, I just e-mail them an article once a week, rarely have to talk to them, and they print it.

            My articles have been the most attention getting and controversial in recent years because I don’t repeat the college talking points.

            I’ve had a few disagreements with the editors though.

          2. I know he’s actually kinda weaksauce on a lot of issues, but we should all be grateful that Walker beat the recall and got re-elected (he did didn’t he?). If he had lost, that would have been it across the nation for the kind of reforms he passed.

            1. Walker didn’t technically get ‘reelected.’ He won a recall so it’s still his first term.

              He’s got pretty good poll numbers now because of how good the fiscal shape of Wisconsin is, so I assume he will win when the next election rolls around.

              1. That’s what I thought.

        2. I was a body guard for Ron Paul when he came

          Between this and the above list, you sir are awesome.

    2. At one point one came back drunk in the middle of the week and physically accosted me.

      Hopefully you pressed charges.

      1. Well my girlfriend was worried so she called the police, the police asked if I wanted to press charges and frankly I just didn’t want to bother. It was only a bit of shoving, he was on the verge of dropping out of school anyway, and he is the kind of person who steals stuff from campus stores because he thinks the cost is too high. I’m guessing unless he gets his act together he’s going to end up in jail anyway.

        1. He’ll get his come-uppance life is funny that way. The Magnificent Ambersons, bro.

          He’s well on his way to becoming President of “blame others” fraternity. After all, Obama will have to step down one day.

      2. At one point one came back drunk in the middle of the week and physically accosted me.

        Hopefully you pressed charges beat the living shit out of him.

        FIFY

    3. You, young sir, give out Hope Rays that blanket the Corn Belt.

    4. Ghetto, while I’m not from Wisconsin, I did go to University and also witnessed first hand how wildly intolerant the left is of other opinions. So that was pretty fun reading your post as it brought me back to the mid-90s when I was in college.

      They’re the most myopic, insular bunch I’ve come across. You literally had to watch what you said and when you made a comment that was MILDLY off the reservation they’d look at you as if ready to stab you.

      It made for riveting stuff in class listening to those jackasses. They were incoherent and shrill most of the time.

  6. And *why* did compromise become a dirty word? Yeah, that’s a puzzler. Because look at all the wonderful laws compromise has produced!

    1. And if the lack of compromise, and the existence of “divisiveness,” is a dealbreaker justifying opposing a policy, why didn’t these concern-trolls oppose Obamacare?

    2. Eduard van Haalen|9.28.13 @ 12:39PM|#
      “And *why* did compromise become a dirty word?”

      Ask that hag Pelosi; she rammed that bill through.

      1. It’s a one-way ratchet. Pass a bill with only your party’s votes – that’s visionary and courageous. Then concern-troll the heck out of any proposed repeal, because it’s so divisive and shows an unwillingness to compromise.

    3. Above someone mentioned USA Today showing Tip O’Neill and Reagan as an example of “when politics worked”.

      Tip O’Neill and Reagan gave American mandatory minimums and harsher drug laws.

      1. Hilarious. When Reagan was in office, he was viewed as Satan incarnate.

        1. Yeah, if some journalist who was around during Reagan starts getting nostalgic about all the wonderful snuggly bipartisanship back then, look at the stuff they wrote at the time. When Reagan was actually in office, did these hacks write articles about what a bipartisan inclusive figure Reagan was? No, they were writing about how Reagan is much more divisive and hateful than nice Republicans of the past like Goldwater.

          And it goes back and back, until I wouldn’t be surprised if Democratic journalists during the Chester Arthur administration were waxing nostalgic about the bipartisan era of Thad Stevens and Charles Sumner.

          1. I would challenge these journalists – challenge them to start writing their encomiums to Rand Paul *now* so that after Rand has left the scene and new Republicans are in office, they can talk about the responsible Republicans of 2013, so unlike the divisive Republicans of 2043.

            1. Anyway, by the time 2043 rolls around, these guys will be so busy eating roots and hiding from Reavers that they won’t have time to write about politics.

          2. I grew up in the hey-day of Reagan and I agree with Eduard. It was nothing but hatred about Reagan and how dangerous he was for the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same jackasses referring to him as some sort of moderate are the same ones who hated him back then.

            I especially love Obama cynically inserting Reagan every chance he gets. You just know he doesn’t believe a word he says about Reagan. He’s too much of a left-winger. That’s a political calculation on his part.

            1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same jackasses referring to him as some sort of moderate are the same ones who hated him back then.

              One needn’t look any further than how Team BLUE treat McCain as the voice of reason in the Republican party.

              Just 5 years ago he was the devil; a man who was just as horrible as Bush and would do nothing but continue to Bush’s horrible policy. That he would get us in to illegal wars and keep Guantanamo open. Now he’s the only sane Republican that Team BLUE can imagine.

      2. True but it was more ONeill than Ronnie. That old gag, “Just Say No” was actually a walkback of something Nancy Reagan had said, presented with the police state required for the War on Drugs she asked, of the poor youthful drug-pushees, “Can’t they just say, no?” No such expression of individual liberty and culpability could possibly be left to stand. Instead of a friendly bit of advice it was turned into puritanical hectoring with the menace of incarceration behind it. ONeill and the other Dems of his day nakedly sought to turn the cocaine OD death of Len Bias at a basketball practice into electoral gold. They have successfully done so to this day and impleaded many an unwary Republican. Heck, some were plenty wary, sad to say.

  7. Lefties are believers in ‘the end justifies the means’. People like that never, ever, argue in good faith. Ever.

    1. See Shriek as exhibit A.

      1. Obama is an ardent defender of the second amendment. Obamacare is market based. He is a pure libertarian…..ad nauseum.

        In addition to his mendacity, he appears delusional. His characterizations of every situation and character analysis are wildly inaccurate. Notice yesterday he seemed surprised that I would be pleased by the shockingly good news of a cure for aids. Oh, and his unending characterization of all of us being Socons and bush fans.

        He seems to be an average leftie, as Goatherder and Irish note above.

        1. He may not be an ideological defender of the 2nd A but that jackass has sold more guns than Sam Colt. For this reason I actually favor ATTEMPTS at gun control. They put more steel into more hands. Beauty.

  8. This is a man who didn’t pay child support yet had enough money to buy a $2000 Segway and refused to get a job. He also was so irresponsible that he didn’t pay for the well being of HIS OWN CHILDREN but called anti-Union people selfish for not wanting to pay bus drivers $80,000 a year. I’d say he’s pretty standard for the type of people that I saw at the capital.

    Have some empathy, wouldja?

  9. OT: Maryland gun control push sparks record gun sales

    Maryland residents have been buying guns in record numbers before a law takes effect Tuesday, with provisions aimed at helping keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, strengthening safety training and banning 45 types of assault weapons.

    Opponents decry what they call an ineffective law that will only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise Second Amendment rights. They say the state also failed to prepare properly for implementation after Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, pushed the complicated measure through the General Assembly to build his credentials for a potential Democratic primary race
    […]
    The law also will limit gun magazines to 10 bullets.
    It gives the state police authority similar to that of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to check gun dealers’ inventory to find out if there are guns missing or any that have been sold to disqualified purchasers.

    Congratulations to the citizens of Baltimore on their new gun-free utopia.

    1. I may be transferring to a customer site in MD next year; I wonder how suspicious it will look if I keep my place in VA.

      Though with Grabber McAuliffe looking like a sure thing in the governor’s race, that may not be an option either.

    2. I’m entirely sick of the “law-abiding citizen” crap. There are so many laws at this point that it’s damn difficult to be “law-abiding”. And I would prefer to live next to a peaceable lawbreaker than next to a law-abiding asshole. I think some peaceable weirdo who makes illegal silencers and constantly smokes doobies is morally superior to the guy who legally smashes down people’s doors looking for pot.

      1. If you’ve got assets worthy of forfeiture, you’re a criminal.

        http://www.freep.com/videonetw…..fights-IRS

      2. Yeah, I break six laws before breakfast most days. You will never, however, find a single victim. Well, maybe a chick or two.

  10. Disgraced for peddling lying propaganda and padding her resume, former journalist gets a job in John McCain’s office.

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn…..-lied.html

    McCain Hires Syrian Analyst Who Lied About Her PhD
    Sen. John McCain has hired Elizabeth O’Bagy, the Syria analyst in Washington who was fired for padding her credentials, according to The Cable. She begins work Monday as a legislative assistant in McCain’s office.

    “Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year,” McCain told The Cable in a statement. “I look forward to her joining my office.”

    O’Bagy, who is 26, was fired after it was confirmed that she had padded her resume with a Ph.D. from Georgetown University. She also failed to disclose in for a pro-Syrian rebels op-ed in WSJ that she was part of a pro-Syrian rebel political group, the Syrian Emergency Task Force.

    1. But she is an “expert”. Nothing ever ends the careers of these sorts of creatures.

      1. Whoever was pulling her strings to be an Al Qaeda stooge had enough other pull in DC to completely cover her ass as well.

    2. So she pads her resume and lobbies for foreign wars. Like those are disqualification in Washington.

    3. She has the only qualification that matters: she is in favor of all the wars McCain is in favor of.

      Echo chamber, meet echo.

    4. Actually I love the OBagy story. Makes me optimistic that all I have to do is pad out my own resume’.

    5. http://www.understandingwar.or…..beth-obagy

      Looking up to see if she was hot (she is not) I came across the above link.

      Let me save you a trip:

      “The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”

      Classic. /pounding fist on table classic.

  11. my roomate’s ex-wife makes .$67. every hour on the laptop. She has been fired for five months but last month her payment was .$13980. just working on the laptop for a few hours. check over here@@@@@….

    http://www.Works23.com

    1. Dear Natalie,

      Why are dollar figures surrounded by periods? And what’s up with all the @ signs?

      I eagerly await your reply.

  12. my roomate’s ex-wife makes .$67. every hour on the laptop. She has been fired for five months but last month her payment was .$13980. just working on the laptop for a few hours. check over here@@@@@….

    http://www.Works23.com

    1. She sucks horse cock on webcam for that kind of dough. Guaranteed.

      1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    2. $13980/67 = 208 hours a month, or around 45-50 hours a week. These spams would be much better if they could do math.

  13. I wish people would stop using the word “democracy” when describing our political system.

    We live in a REPUBLIC. Very different.

  14. Walker hadn’t campaigned on rewriting public-sector union laws?a fact his critics would return to repeatedly, arguing he lacked a mandate. (Stein and Marley are sympathetic to this critique.)

    Well, Obama didn’t campaign on promises to run guns to Mexican cartels, hand weapons to Middle Eastern jihadists, spy on American journalists, use the IRS as a weapon against his political opponents, leave an Ambassador to die in Benghazi and use executive orders to enact legislation Congress wouldn’t agree to, yet here we fucking are.

    1. +1 mandate

    2. Fuck you, and fuck what *you* want… learn to compromise, by just doing it my way, STOP OBSTRUCTING!!!.. STOP OBSTRUCTING!!!…

      /Obama

  15. Very much on Topic: an interesting WSJ article about how Christie turned private-sector unions against the pubsec unions. Other stuff as well in there.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/…..on_LEADTop

    I know he’s not liked here, but Christie has been good for NJ. Vetoed a min wage increase, balanced the budget without tax hikes, I think he vetoed some environmentalist BS too.

    1. Maybe he just appears to be a RINO to pacify the whiny Obama?

  16. Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financialy rewarding I’ve ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $7439 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and practically straight away was bringin in at least $74, per-hour. visit this site right here http://www.Pow6.com

  17. So, according to the authors of this book, the protesters were “overwhelmingly peaceful and generally respectful”, yet, according to one of their apparently adorable anecdotes “Some Republican lawmakers snuck out of the capitol at night by donning hoodies, picking up signs, and pretending to be protesters.”

    WHY WOULD THAT BE NECESSARY IF THEY WERE PEACEFUL PROTESTORS?

    1. Because the authors lied.
      It’s not surprising. Read “Post War” (Tony Judt); he lies regularly until the facts force him to do otherwise.
      And I’m sure he was grinding his teeth when he had to.

  18. Now that union membership is voluntary for many occupations, membership numbers are in free fall.

    ooof.

  19. “But if labor solidarity were as strong as the chanting crowds claimed, the declines should not have been that drastic so soon after the reforms passed.” Mmmmm…actually, conservatives give twice as much to charity as liberals do. I wouldn’t want my paycheck to be based on whether or not liberals actually put their money where their mouth is. This is why they fight this battle so hard, they know their constituents would never voluntarily support them.

  20. “They lost because the voting public in Wisconsin approved of Walker’s plan, albeit narrowly”

    Narrowly my ass. Walker won his recall election easily.

    1. That’s a fair characterization. 53.1% to 46.4% for a margin of 6.8% is not exactly a squeaker. I guess it all depends on what you consider narrow. Anything less than double digits?

  21. “Unions assigned people to self-police their protests and try to intervene before problems developed. When the Senate convened, urgent messages on Twitter called on demonstrators to remain calm and respectful to law enforcement, emphasizing how damaging any act of disrespect or violence could be for their cause.”

    In other words, protesters policed themselves well because they knew how quickly a negative YouTube moment could go viral.

    Now only if we could get every cop in America to be in fear of a YouTube clip showing overzealousness, by holding them responsible for every YouTube clip that shows their overzealousness.

  22. my best friend’s sister-in-law makes $74 hourly on the computer. She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her pay was $14134 just working on the computer for a few hours. have a peek at this website….

    http://www.Works23.Com

  23. benefits and prerogatives, the demonstrators ultimately

  24. union workers and newly elected Republican Gov. Scott

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