This is going to be short. I have a clear and succinct point to make.
Wisconsin unions can now either give it all they’ve got, or they’re done for.
Right now, after Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Senate Republicans have pushed through this step in the decades-long corporate assault on labor, the unions really have their backs against a wall. Membership has declined, manufacturing has gone oversees, the national Democratic Party has abandoned them, and the cancer of the corporation has metastasized over not just government, but society. If the unions don’t rediscover their past, if they don’t turn around their more recent history of capitulation and infighting, they’ll die soon enough anyway. It’s their choice: militancy or death.
Well, the news is already out. Republicans now think they can pass laws with no public debate and without the presence of their Democratic counter-parts. We know why they do this.
Because they can.
Madison Wisconsin is a testing ground for the final battles of the Class War. “How much money and rights can we strip from the People and pass up to the Elites without actual consequence?” They ask themselves, while resting warm, well fed and comfy in their Executive Suites in the jobs the tax payers provide for them. “Eventually all those idiots will grow tired and go home. And, if they get in any way violent? We’ll call them terrorists and use deadly force. They’re broke and hungry, they have to go home sometime, or back to their jobs for whatever pittance we choose to pay them. We can just outlast them.”
In Michigan Republicans have decided that they can dissolve local Governments and appoint “Managers” that have every right to dissolve Unions, Contracts and “decide” the budget expenditures with no input from the voters at all.
(Video is a few days old and slanted toward the right)
“The House of Representatives is expected to soon vote on a funding proposal that contains drastic cuts to several federal agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board. The proposal would eliminate $50 million from this small administrative agency, or 18% of its total annual budget. Because the reduction would be squeezed into the final 7 months of the fiscal year, the cuts would be felt even more deeply – representing the equivalent of one-third of remaining 2011 funding.
Nearly all of the agency’s budget is spent on salaries and rents; there are no programs to eliminate or postpone. The only way to meet this extreme and immediate reduction would be to furlough all of the NLRB’s 1,665 employees for 55 workdays, or nearly three months, between now and the end of September. The great majority of these employees work far from Washington D.C., in 51 local offices, where every NLRB case begins. The economic impact of this cut would be felt by families and communities in 33 states.
If enacted, the House proposal could force the NLRB to curtail all agency operations, including investigating alleged illegal practices by private sector employers and unions, conducting workplace elections, and helping to settle election-related disputes. Regulation of a broad range of conduct, such as unlawful lockouts of workers, termination of union organizers, refusals to bargain with unions selected by workers, unilateral changes to contract provisions covering such things as health insurance and pensions, unlawful strikes, picket line violence, and secondary boycotts, would be stalled if this proposal were adopted.
The White House demanded that the NLRB scrub the statement defending the agency from its website, an NLRB spokesperson told The Huffington Post.
The White House pushback against the NLRB would sound familiar to Wisconsin demonstrators. The Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America, the group that is a remnant of Obama’s ’08 campaign operation, initially got strongly behind the pro-labor protests. But after the GOP criticized the White House for its involvement, an administration spokesman told The New York Times that “the White House had done nothing to encourage the demonstrations in Wisconsin,” as paraphrased by reporter Jackie Calmes.
Of course, this President is almost entirely absent from the Budget debate, except when it comes to throwing core Democratic Principles and Constituencies under the bus.
The President has been completely disengaged on the budget battle in Congress, preferring to let them battle it out while he jets around the country and says “win the future” a lot. And some members of Congress are sick of it. Now, part of this is Congress wanting to share the blame with the White House for whatever comes out. But the other part is a recognition that the caucus is rootless and without direction, and only a party leader can come in and impose that. The fact that Obama set Joe Biden to the task of working out a compromise, only to have Biden leave for Europe for a week, is testimony to the fact that there’s something wrong with this lack of engagement. When Joe Manchin, who I think got to the Senate three days ago, is calling you out for a failure of leadership, there’s a problem of engagement.
Why did we elect him again? Oh, he claims to be a Democrat.
Well, he’s not.
And he’s not even doing his job, he’s just an AWOL deserter.
Protest movement pleads for intervention as Gaddafi’s forces step up counter-attack
By Kim Sengupta in Ras Lanuf Thursday, 10 March 2011
As Colonel Gaddafi’s forces carried out bloody assaults on rebel-held towns yesterday, those on the receiving end of the wrath were increasingly asking a stark question: Why is the West failing to offer help in our desperate time of need?
Two frontline towns held by dissidents came under sustained attack and an oil facility was set ablaze yesterday during ferocious fighting that left dozens dead as Gaddafi forces rolled back military gains of the opposition.
The feeling was growing in opposition ranks that the disorganised and disunited political and military leadership of the protest movement would not withstand for much longer the sustained pressure being applied by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.
Nobel Laureat Paul Krugman has recently posted the lolcat above on his blog at the New York Times, and I’m happy to accept it as a companionable indication that despair about so-called “democracy” and the little blue planet which locally hosts it isn’t confined to bloggers with an audience in the single digits, like me, but extends all the way up to the top of the commentariat.
But on the bright side, Spongebob Squarepants now totally dominates cable TV!
Those of you that read this irregular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River. It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.
I never write about living people except with their express permission, so this installment is about a long dead denizen of Hackett. I never learnt what Dee’s real first name was; everyone just called him Dee.
He was a deputy sheriff just about forever. This was in the mid 1960s to around 1980, give or take. Here is what I remember about him.
I’m enraged. Wisconsin’s union workers this evening were temporarily outflanked by a legislative maneuver of questionable legality. And of despicably sleazy intent. The Senate decided that, as everyone in opposition to it has been saying for months, the union busting bill really wasn’t a fiscal measure, the previous pronouncements that it was be damned. No, it wasn’t a fiscal measure. It was a union busting measure. And therefore, the bill didn’t need a quorum in the Senate. It could pass the Wisconsin Senate with no democrats voting. Or even appearing. So there. This wonderfully disingenuous piece of legislative legerdemain has– let’s call it what it is– temporarily screwed Wisconsin’s public unions by withdrawing their right to bargain collectively.
And now. And now, amigo@s, comes the real test. Will the unions and their supporters and the demonstrators and you and I all throw up our hands in defeat and despair and slink home? Will we say in words or actions, “Oh, we lost, it’s over, let’s just forget about it and move on?” Or will we stand up now and fight on (nonviolently) with ever renewed dedication to overturn this evil, unpopular, antidemocratic, antiunion measure?
I hope that hundreds of thousands of people show up in Madison tomorrow to demonstrate against Governor Walker and the Koch funded Teapublicans. I hope an equal number will show up in Lansing. And in Union Square, New York. And in San Francisco. And Chicago. And in every town and city in America that recognizes the dignity of workers and their right to bargain collectively. I hope the recall efforts will be redoubled. I hope that the demonstrators inspire a nationwide high school strike tomorrow at 2 pm. And I hope the demonstrators will invite farmers to show their support, to come to Madison, to ride their tractors to and surround the capitol. And I hope that across Wisconsin and across America teachers and nurses and garbage collectors and firemen and bureaucrats and policemen will all link arms with other workers, students, progressives, anyone who supports the unions and sees that the withdrawal of public unions’ collective bargaining rights is a step back, a regression into the darkness of the Nineteenth Century.
Yes, I’m enraged. But I’m also hopeful. I’m hopeful that we, you and I, amig@s, will not let Walker and the Koch funded Teapublicans get away with this. I’m hopeful that this is the beginning not of a demonstration, but of an actual, popular movement. I hope that the movement will continue with increased strength and focus to preserve the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively.
Yes, I’m idealistic. And maybe pretty unrealistic. And not particularly practical. That doesn’t matter. I believe that what we are about to see is a real change. Coming from an organic movement. And that we will now begin in earnest to link arms and stand in Solidarity in the struggle for what I believe is the survival of the middle class. Here’s John Lennon: