Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

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Mickey Kaus, blogger and writer, is running against Barbara Boxer in the Senate primary in California.  I have read with enjoyment his KausFiles for years.  Alas, Mr. Kaus is not pro-life.  If he were, I could imagine myself possibly voting for him.  He is taking on some of the major shibboleths of his party.  Here are a few examples:

Unions:

“Yet the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn’t how we’re going to get prosperity back. But it’s the official Democratic Party dogma. No dissent allowed.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we’ve seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

No wonder that in our biggest school systems, it’s become virtually impossible to fight the teachers unions and fire bad teachers. The giant Los Angeles Unified school system, with 33,000 teachers, fires only about 21 a year, or fewer than 1 in 1,000, according to the findings of an L.A. Times investigation. Now either Los Angeles has the greatest teachers in the world or something is very wrong. Talk to parents and you’ll know the answer.

When I was growing up in West L.A., practically everyone went to public schools, even in the affluent neighborhoods. Only the discipline cases, the juvenile delinquents, went off to a military academy. It was vaguely disreputable. Now any parent who can afford it pays a fortune for private school. The old liberal ideal of a common public education has been destroyed. And it’s been destroyed in large part not by Republicans but by teachers unions.

As the private economy has faltered, we increasingly have a two-tier economy: If you’re an insider, a unionized government employee, you’re in good shape. Even if you don’t do a very good job, you won’t be fired. Even in hard times, Washington will spend billions in stimulus funds so that you don’t get laid off. You won’t even have to take much of a pay cut. And you can retire like an aristocrat at taxpayer expense. But if you’re an outsider, trying to survive in a world of $10-an-hour jobs, competing with immigrant labor, paying for your own healthcare, forced to send your children to lousy public schools run by unfireable teachers and $100,000-a-year bureaucrats — well, good luck to you. But be sure to vote Democratic.

“The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits … while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers. Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide … but at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”

That quote is from Willie Brown, a Democratic hero, explaining why the state may go the way of Vallejo and General Motors. Easy for him to say; he’s retired. But you won’t catch any Democrats who are running for office saying it. They’re too dependent on organized labor’s money and muscle.

We need nonretired Democrats who tell the unions no. Or else, perhaps after more bankruptcies and bailouts, Republicans will do it for them.”

Immigration:

“There is not going to be an amnesty this year, or next year. The majority of the American people don’t want it, for good reason. They want to secure the borders first,” he said. “Amnesty before we secure the borders would only encourage yet another wave of illegals and hurt the wages of unskilled Americans (and legal immigrants).”

“But every time Democratic politicians in D.C. need to rev up the Latino vote, they dangle the false promise of an amnesty bill. At some point. Latino voters are going to realize they’re being used.”

Kaus is the only Democratic Senate candidate on the ballot to oppose amnesty proposals, even when they are packaged with enforcement measures and billed as “comprehensive reform.” The incumbent, Barbara Boxer, supports “comprehensive reform” that includes a “path to citizenship” for illegals–i.e., amnesty.

“It’s time Democrat politicians stopped holding enforcement measures hostage to their goal of amnesty–of giving citizenship to millions who are here illegally.”

“We need to secure the borders first. Build the actual, physical fence that was supposed to be built. Extend E-verify or another effective means of checking immigration status at the time of employment. Create a system for monitoring visa overstays. Let the ACLU sue. Let the Chamber of Commerce sue. Let MALDEF sue. Then if the system survives those assaults, and works–actually stops illegal immigration and sends a signal to the world that the game has changed–then in a few years we can start to talk about amnesty.”

“Until then it’s a false promise, a fraud.”

Kaus also commented on Arizona’s controversial new law:

“I’m not for mass deportations, or for rooting out and displacing people who are minding their own business ‘living in the shadows.’ But Arizonans have been sorely tested by wave after wave of illegal immigration, in violation of federal law, which has brought with it unprecedented levels of violence to the state.

The new law may turn out to be a reasonable response to the problem. It doesn’t say police can stop anyone they “suspect” of being an illegal. The police have to have some other legitimate reason for making contact. This gives them the power to ask for a driver’s license or other evidence of legality.

There is a potential for abuse. But let’s give it a chance and see how it works. If I thought it would lead to mass sweeps to check the ‘papers’ of brown-skinned people walking down the street, I would oppose it. The law on its face precludes that. If it happens in practice, it should be stopped. But until it does we should calm down and see if the law is abused or not.”

“If Obama and the national Democrats don’t like Arizona’s response, they should stop holding effective federal enforcement of immigration laws hostage to the amnesty they keep dangling in front of Latino voters.”

General Motors Bailout:

“Did GM CEO Ed Whitacre really write an op-ed titled “The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full?” He did! This is an astonishing lie–GM has given back a $6.7 billion loan it didn’t need, not the more than $50 billion in bailout money U.S. and Canadian taxpayers sunk into the company (in exchange for an equity stake, after it was determined that GM couldn’t reliably pay back a loan that big). And to think the FTC is investigating bloggers for consumer fraud. … If Sarah Palin told a propagandistic whopper this big she’d be doing run back up to Wasilla by the press. … It looks like, once the Obama administration realized GM was still in such bad shape there was no hope of pursuing Plan A–a public offering of stock to recoup at least some of the $50 billion capital bailout–they resorted to Plan B–a coordinated hype campaign to act as if the relatively puny $6.7 billion payback was the $50 billion. Larry Summers’ credibility was dragged into the cesspool of PR scamming! … Kausfiles calls on Summers to repudiate Whitacre’s op-ed, lest his post-administration stature sink to Orszagesque levels. … P.S.: GM really must be desperate for a way to counter resistance from bailophobic consumers if it has to blatantly jump the gun on claiming ‘payback’ like this. Whitacre’s announcement is itself a sign, not of turnaround, but of GM’s continuing weakness. … P.P.S.: You might think the problem was only an overzealous and underinformed WSJ headline writer. But the final paragraph of Whitacre’s piece–“Nobody was happy that GM needed government loans …”–makes it clear Whitacre wants readers to confuse the loans with the entire bailout. … [via Instapundit]

Update: After the bailout, GM and Chrysler made “few changes to [their] pension plans,” which are of the “defined benefit” variety, according to the Government Accountability Office. As a result, taxpayers may have to shore them up with another $10+ billion.”

California vs. Texas:

CA vs. TX: Why is the state of Texas doing relatively well in this recession–losing jobs later, and recovering jobs earlier–than California is? Dan Gross outlines some reasons: the energy industry is relatively recession proof, plus Texas is so big it can create its own “green” wind power jobs to power its cities without having to cooperate with neighboring states.  … Gross leaves off another potential factor, though: Texas has a relatively low rate of unionization–about a third of California’s. That means a) fewer rigidities in the labor market, allowing it to adjust to the market more quickly–tiny quick wage cuts for a lot of people, for example, mean employers don’t have to lay people off as quickly b) fewer rigidities in organization structure–they don’t have UAW-style work rules at Dell; and c) the absence of the public sector union “death-grip on state and local government” and politics and finances, which has helped produce near-bankruptcy at the state level (and actual bankruptcy in Vallejo). … When Texas creates green jobs, maybe it’s not just a power play by the union representing DWP workers to grab another stream of taxpayer funding, or by the Teamsters to monopolize employment at the port of LA.  Maybe they are actual green jobs! “

If we were living in a just world Kaus would be the odds on favorite in the primary against Barbara Boxer, one of the most truly unimaginative of the politicians who infest the Senate.  As we live in an unjust world, Kaus will be defeated going away.  However, he is getting publicity for new ideas in the Democrat party, and that is a healthy development for the party of Jackson.  Political miracles do occur on occasion, and this is one Republican who is keeping his fingers crossed for Mr. Kaus.

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