Near Civil War in Wisconsin

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2015


The election of 1856 was hotly contested throughout the North, with state after state switching from Democratic control to that of the new found Republican party.  The Democrat incumbent Governor of Wisconsin, William A Barstow, was initially declared the winner of the contest by a mere 157 votes.  The Republicans cried fraud.  Democrats and Republicans formed rival militia units and began to converge on Madison, determined to fight if the “wrong” candidate were sworn in as governor.  Both Barstow and his Republican rival, Coles Bashford, were sworn in as governor in dueling inauguration ceremonies on January 7, 1857.  Civil War seemed all but certain.

The Wisconsin Attorney General now filed a writ of Quo Warranto seeking the removal of Barstow from office on the grounds that he was fraudulently elected.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on the matter, and, sure enough, evidence was produced that Barstow owed his margin of victory from “returns” from non-existent precincts in the sparsely settled northern part of the young state.  Barstow, who had initially said that he would not give up the governorship alive, ultimately decided that public opinion was running against him and resigned on March 21, 1857.  His Lieutenant Governor now was sworn in and stated that he would be the Governor come what may.  On March 25, the Supreme Court ruled that Bashford had won the election with a vote total of 1009.  The Lieutenant Governor/Governor decamped from Madison with his supporters and Bashford was recognized by the Wisconsin legislature as Governor.

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One Response to Near Civil War in Wisconsin

Witch Hunt in Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 21, AD 2015

“When it comes to
this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no
pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism
can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
Abraham Lincoln
Democrats were so fearful of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin that John Chisholm, the Democrat District Attorney of Milwaukee Country, launched a secret “John Doe” investigation seeking to uncover links between conservative groups and the Walker administration.  This bitterly partisan Democrat unleashed a wave of terror of “no knock” raids on the homes of conservatives in Wisconsin, using police tactics that might have  been appropriate if they were storming fortifications held by terrorists.  The victims were instructed to tell no one about the raids, especially their attorneys.  These Gestapo tactics are detailed in a magnificent story by David French at National Review:
But with another election looming — this time Walker’s campaign for reelection — Chisholm wasn’t finished. He launched yet another John Doe investigation, “supervised” by Judge Barbara Kluka. Kluka proved to be capable of superhuman efficiency — approving “every petition, subpoena, and search warrant in the case” in a total of one day’s work.
If the first series of John Doe investigations was “everything Walker,” the second series was “everything conservative,” as Chisholm had launched an investigation of not only Walker (again) but the Wisconsin Club for Growth and dozens of other conservative organizations, this time fishing for evidence of allegedly illegal “coordination” between conservative groups and the Walker campaign.
In the second John Doe, Chisholm had no real evidence of wrongdoing. Yes, conservative groups were active in issue advocacy, but issue advocacy was protected by the First Amendment and did not violate relevant campaign laws. Nonetheless, Chisholm persuaded prosecutors in four other counties to launch their own John Does, with Judge Kluka overseeing all of them.
Empowered by a rubber-stamp judge, partisan investigators ran amok. They subpoenaed and obtained (without the conservative targets’ knowledge) massive amounts of electronic data, including virtually all the targets’ personal e-mails and other electronic messages from outside e-mail vendors and communications companies.
The investigations exploded into the open with a coordinated series of raids on October 3, 2013. These were home invasions, including those described above. Chisholm’s office refused to comment on the raid tactics (or any other aspect of the John Doe investigations), but witness accounts regarding the two John Doe investigations are remarkably similar: early-morning intrusions, police rushing through the house, and stern commands to remain silent and tell no one about what had occurred.
At the same time, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations received broad subpoenas requiring them to turn over virtually all business records, including “donor information, correspondence with their associates, and all financial information.” The subpoenas also contained dire warnings about disclosure of their existence, threatening contempt of court if the targets spoke publicly.
For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state.
Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens.
For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions. “Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.”
O’Keefe, who has been in contact with multiple targeted families, says, “Every family I know of that endured a home raid has been shaken to its core, and the fate of marriages and families still hangs in the balance in some cases.”
Anne also describes a new fear of the police: “I used to support the police, to believe they were here to protect us. Now, when I see an officer, I’ll cross the street. I’m afraid of them. I know what they’re capable of.”
Cindy says, “I lock my doors and I close my shades. I don’t answer the door unless I am expecting someone. My heart races when I see a police car sitting in front of my house or following me in the car. The raid was so public. I’ve been harassed. My house has been vandalized. [She did not identify suspects.] I no longer feel safe, and I don’t think I ever will.”
Rachel talks about the effect on her children. “I tried to create a home where the kids always feel safe. Now they know they’re not. They know men with guns can come in their house, and there’s nothing we can do.” Every knock on the door brings anxiety. Every call to the house is screened. In the back of her mind is a single, unsettling thought: These people will never stop.
Victims of trauma — and every person I spoke with described the armed raids as traumatic — often need to talk, to share their experiences and seek solace in the company of a loving family and supportive friends.
The investigators denied them that privilege, and it compounded their pain and fear. The investigation not only damaged families, it also shut down their free speech. In many cases, the investigations halted conservative groups in their tracks. O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth described the effect in court filings:
O’Keefe’s associates began cancelling meetings with him and declining to take his calls, reasonably fearful that merely associating with him could make them targets of the investigation. O’Keefe was forced to abandon fundraising for the Club because he could no longer guarantee to donors that their identities would remain confidential, could not (due to the Secrecy Order) explain to potential donors the nature of the investigation, could not assuage donors’ fears that they might become targets themselves, and could not assure donors that their money would go to fund advocacy rather than legal expenses. The Club was also paralyzed. Its officials could not associate with its key supporters, and its funds were depleted. It could not engage in issue advocacy for fear of criminal sanction.
These raids and subpoenas were often based not on traditional notions of probable cause but on mere suspicion, untethered to the law or evidence, and potentially violating the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The very existence of First Amendment–protected expression was deemed to be evidence of illegality. The prosecution simply assumed that the conservatives were incapable of operating within the bounds of the law.
Even worse, many of the investigators’ legal theories, even if proven by the evidence, would not have supported criminal prosecutions. In other words, they were investigating “crimes” that weren’t crimes at all. If the prosecutors had applied the same legal standards to the Democrats in their own offices, they would have been forced to turn the raids on themselves. If the prosecutors and investigators had been raided, how many of their computers and smartphones would have contained incriminating information indicating use of government resources for partisan purposes?

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15 Responses to Witch Hunt in Wisconsin

  • This fits. Quote from the movie, The Untouchables” spoken by Sean Connery’s (old Irish cop) character, “What are you prepeared to do about it?”

    Alas, Conservative taxpayers do not riot or torch their neighborhoods . . .

  • “What are you prepared to do?” Quoted from the movie, “The Untouchables.”
    Conserrvative whites don’t riot or burn down their neighborhoods.
    And, the lying, liberal (I repeat myself again) will omit this. They believe that the “extremists” (anyone that does not advance the wevowution is an extwemist) should be liquidated, anyhow.

  • The common thread in many of the pathologies of our age is the ruin of the legal profession.

  • I hope with every fiber of my being these abusers of the community trust are sued to the bone, fired, and blacklisted from ever holding a government job, even if it’s just attending a toll booth. This is barely shy of a civil war declaration and now I hope Scott Walker runs because I want this incident hung around the neck of every democrat challenger until the entire party understands and the message is spread that this behavior is NOT tolerable in a free society.

    Too long has the message been spreading that abuse is “ok” if it’s by the right people. It’s time to counter that message and spread the societal news that this ^$#@ is what we fought England over and we won’t tolerate it again.

  • Art Deco wrote, “The common thread in many of the pathologies of our age is the ruin of the legal profession.”

    What I find odd is this: every petition for a warrant must commence with a charge or charges against one or more named individuals and then crave that “In order, therefore, that the said Accused may be dealt with according to Law, MAY it please your Lordship to grant Warrant to Officers of Law to search for and apprehend &c”
    Then follow the craves “to grant Warrant to search the person, repositories, and domicile of the said Accused, and the house or premises in which he may be found, and to secure, for the purpose of precognition and evidence, ail writs, évidents, and articles found therein tending to establish guilt or participation in the crimes foresaid, and for that purpose to make patent all shut and lockfast places; and also to grant Warrant to cite Witnesses for precognition and to make production for the purposes foresaid of such writs, évidents, and articles pertinent to the case as are in their possession…”

    Without a definite charge against a named person, how can the warrant define the scope of the search or precognition, either as to the places to be searched or the articles to be secured or produced? If witnesses are cited to produce “pertinent” evidents, how, in the absence of such a charge are they to know what is pertinent?

  • We have a right to defend ourselves against tyranny like this. We fought a Revolutionary War because of acts like this. Of course I do NOT advocate the initiation of violence, but sadly we may see 1st Maccabees Chapter 2 repeat itself before our very eyes.
    If a man – police or otherwise – comes into my home, threatening my beautiful wife, I have a duty and an obligation to defend her.

  • So, why do ‘John Doe’ laws that allow investigations with subpoenas without probable cause even exist? How many states allow them? I can understand a ‘John Doe’ investigation without subpoenas for situations where probable cause of a crime has not been determined yet, such as conspiracy cases, but not this.

    Symptoms of a sick judicial culture:
    1) ‘John Doe’ investigations of non-felonies
    2) ‘John Doe’ investigations with subpoenas
    3) Too many misdemeanors have been reclassified as felonies
    4) ‘Accelerated rehabilitation’ has been created to effectively turn felonies back into misdemeanors at the whim of any judge
    5) The piling of dozens of charges on a defendant
    6) The excessive use of plea bargaining
    7) No-knock warrants (gee, how did we survive before the 60’s?)
    8) The craven refusal of legislatures to repeal bad laws and impeach low level functionaries who violate the law
    9) The court that improperly ruled that impeached and convicted Federal judge Alcee Hasting was eligible to hold Federal office again – the judge who made that ruling should also have been impeached and removed
    10) Most campaign finance laws
    One could go on and on…

  • What I find odd is this

    You’ll have to pose that question to Mr. McClarey.

    The politics of this is simple enough to grasp. There is a particular political economy at work. You have occupational subcultures, generally given formal professional status even when that’s nonsensical, public employees (and these occupations are commonly public employees), the unions which organize public employees, and the Democratic Party. The vigor of the Democratic Party has in great measure due to the investment of its partisans in the activities of the state, which is crucially important in low-turnout low-information-content elections. The public employee unions mobilize their constituency for political activity, mostly by diverting dues money but also by organizing volunteers. Particularly in school board elections, this has been tremendously important. Walker’s administration with the co-operation of the state legislature did two things: truncated collective bargaining rights for public employees and ended mandatory dues. This threatened to cut off the blood supply to the Democratic Party and they’ve used every tool they could to stop it: recall elections, occupation of public buildings, inducing their partisans on appellate courts to issue rulings favorable, &c. The prosecutor is an elected Democrat and his wife is a teacher’s union steward. He somehow connived to get his investigations assigned to a retired judge who signed off on everything while hardly reading it. Again and again. When aspects of the mechanics of the investigation were made public, she abruptly recused herself. The succeeding judge to which the case was assigned said “Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot” and quashed a mass of subpoenas and warrants, crippling the current iteration of the investigation.
    It’s all an exercise in misfeasance. However, that’s been the favored approach of the Democratic Party in legal matters for some time now.

  • Is anybody surprised by this?

    Even the Federal Government doesn’t permit its workers to unionize and then strike.

    The Democrat Party is organized crime with the velvet fist of government power behind it. To hell with the Democrat Party. And, no this isn’t an endorsement of all things Republican.

  • MPS. I’m fairly certain that these ‘John Doe’ investigations carry charges. These charges appear to revolve around the campaign finance laws and laws restricting the activities of tax-exempt organizations. These laws are patently unconstitutional under the founding ideals of the American Constitution. This is the ultimate cause of the problem.

    My personal feeling is that there is also a proximate cause, which is judges’ unwillingness to hold prosecutors to a high standard of probable cause in the issuance of the subpoenas. One would think that any case involving laws which are so vague and which so threaten basic liberties would be suspect by judges. Again, perhaps this could have been avoided if the grand jury system were not bypassed.

  • My personal feeling is that there is also a proximate cause, which is judges’ unwillingness to hold prosecutors to a high standard of probable cause in the issuance of the subpoenas.

    1. Can we infer that the assignment system has been corrupted?
    2. Can we infer that Judge Kluka and the prosecutor have history and it was a conniving enterprise and not just gross negligence on Judge Kluka’s part.
    3. That aside, is there really any excuse for the prosecutor?

  • Art:
    1) Yes, unless the overall pool of judges is so riven with corruption that the assignment process is of no consequence.
    2) Yes. A truly vigilant legislature would have perceived this and removed them (judge and prosecutor) via impeachment
    3) No excuse. My only point is that a grand jury is a further check on such lawlessness. Yes, when bad laws exist, when they are badly written, a grand jury might not be able to stand up to the ‘experts’, but it still is better than nothing.

  • TomD wrote, “MPS. I’m fairly certain that these ‘John Doe’ investigations carry charges…”

    But a charge against, say, “a person or persons unknown” does not define or limit the scope of searches or precognitions. A warrant to search the repositories or domicile of a person unknown is a warrant to search anyone’s. For that reason, a warrant to seize the papers of “the printers and publishers” of a certain periodical (without naming them) has been described by the High Court of Justiciary here as “not merely irregular, but lawless; it not only fails to confom to, but is opposed to the principles and practice of our law.”

  • Welcome to the life we’ll all experience when Democrats control all powers of government. Thanks Catholics for your devotion to…the party instead of what you say you believe and pray for in church. Catholics are the ONLY REASON the Democratic thug Party has any electoral power at all to keep on murdering all unborn babies. And you bishops, this is what your redefining of pro-life in your “consistent ethic of life” 22 years ago has produced in our country – thugs like the Democratic Party using their powers to terrorize innocent people in the middle of the night just because they support Republicans like Scott Walker. You all will have to answer to Jesus when he returns why it was more important to you to be a Democrat than it was to be a Catholic. How are you obeying the Greatest Commandment of loving God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul when you endorse and support the Democratic Party that is diabolically opposed to what you say you believe and pray for? Goats…that is what you will all become when Jesus returns to judge the nations.

  • Unconstitutional use of office, for political purposes especially, is I think, a high crime. It should be investigated and prosecuted. Letting it pass paves the way for even greater offenses.

Close, But No Cigar

Wednesday, August 10, AD 2011

Unions spent north of $30 million* in a recall effort in Wisconsin in order to gain control of the state senate.  Six Republican senators faced recall elections, and the Democrats needed to win three in order to win control of the upper house.  They won two.  What’s more, two senate Democrats face recall elections next week, and the GOP has a good chance to win at least one of those two races.  So, in the end, the unions would have spent $30 million to gain a whopping one seat.  Not a very good return on investment.

Evidently the “news” team at MSNBC was trying to spin this as a victory for Democrats, but that strains credulity past the breaking point.  Of the two seats they won, one was in a fairly Democratic district and the other involved a scandal-plagued senator.  In fact, as Ed Morrissey suggests, this should be seen as a big defeat for big labor.

Next Tuesday, two more recall elections take place for the state Senate, this time two of the fleabagger seats, thanks to the reaction from the GOP to the union’s efforts to recall Republicans.  It’s possible that the unions will go 0 for 3 in 2011 and end up handing back the two pickups they got last night.  The unions will have ended up spending millions to end up right where they began — locked out of Madison — while adding a powerful display of electoral impotence to their brand.  They have discredited themselves with Wisconsin voters in a way that Walker and the GOP couldn’t possibly have planned, the victim of their own arrogance in attempting to overturn elections for no other reason that protecting their own featherbeds.

Markos Moulitsas is pushing the kool-aid that this is a progressive victory over at Daily Kos.  It’s actually kind of cute to see a man so delusional.

Beyond Wisconsin, if we can enjoy a similar “loss rate” in Republican-held districts (picking up 33 percent of them), Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a huge majority in 2013.

Yes, because the rate of victory in a special election in one state featuring roughly 1/5 of one legislative chamber is clearly a sign of things to come.

It’s going to be a long year, and tens of millions of dollars of Koch money (in addition to hundreds of millions more from Rove and allies) are going to force us to fight like hell for every inch of territory. They won’t cede it willingly or fairly. They’ll do their best to cheat or buy whenever they feel they can’t win fairly.

This is going to be the rallying cry for progressives.  As always, they complain when people besides themselves actually spend money and campaign against their interests.  I get a particular sense of amusement from the bellyaching about the evil Koch brothers, because it’s not like the Democrats have their own deep-pocketed sugar daddy, right?  And really, do guys like Kos want to talk about cheating to win elections?

But I can understand Kos’s wishful thinking.  They were on the precipice of revolution.  That revolution was halted in the fall of 2010.  This election was to mark the turnaround that jumpstarted that revolution.  The good people of Wisconsin were to throw off the shackles of their tyrannical GOP overlords and send a stinging rebuke to the heart of that evil monster Scott Walker. The people would finally join the progressives and take the necessary step to inch them closer to the utopia.

And then the people of Wisconsin sort of yawned and said they’ll keep the government that they have, thank you very much.

Dagger.  So what’s left to do?  Admit defeat?  Acknowledge that maybe the populace isn’t as enamored with your lofty plans as you’d like?  What are you crazy?  No, it’s time to just double down, retrench, and like Homer Simpson  cry out that “It’s still good!  It’s still good!”

Whatever you say, Markos.

*: $30 million figure seems to be a combined spending figure.  Union amount was in the $15 million range, give or take.  Still a lot invested for little return.

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12 Responses to Close, But No Cigar

  • I live in the 12th Senate District, one of two seats up for grabs next Tuesday, and it appears Kim Simac, the Tea Party candidate, has a good chance of beating Jim Holperin, one of the notorious 14 Dems who skipped town back in Feb. Holperin has outspent Simac at least 2-1 thanks to the huge union war chest, but the election is rated a toss-up. If she loses and the Dems take the other contested seat, then they regain control of the Senate by one vote.

  • If she loses and the Dems take the other contested seat, then they regain control of the Senate by one vote.

    That’s not quite correct Joe. Both of the seats up for recall next week are Democrat-held. The best the Dems can do is retain a one-seat disadvantage.

  • From the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel:

    By keeping a majority in the Senate, Republicans retained their monopoly on state government because they also hold the Assembly and governor’s office. Tuesday’s elections narrowed their majority – at least for now – from 19-14 to a razor-thin 17-16.

    Republicans may be able to gain back some of the losses next week, when two Democrats face recall elections.

    Full story can be found here:

  • This was a rout for the Democrats. The unions and the Democrats hand picked these seats to challenge and the unions blew 30 million bucks, all to take two of six, in special off-year elections normally easily dominated by aroused pressure groups like the unions in Wisconsin. And all of this in formerly blue Wisconsion, one of the most union dominated states in the Union. Times truly are changing. Thanks Dems and unions of Wisconsin for helping to underline that point!

  • Of the two Repubs who lost, one shot himself out of the race with an adultery scandal, and the the other barely lost in a heavily Democrat district.

  • Isn’t this the same movement where they used physical intimidation against those trying to recall the fleebaggers, plus the “mysterious” stolen signatures?

  • Who’d-a thunk!

    Seems Tea Party Terrorists are viciously threatening union goon squads.

  • More from Jim Geraghty about Kos’s claim that last night’s election was on GOP turf.

  • To kill some dumb memes:
    1. The Democrats were not selective in choosing recalls. They filed recall petitions against every eligible Republican.
    2. The Obama numbers are deceiving and were largely reflective of national issues, particularly dissatisfaction with the Iraq war. I think two of the districts coinciding with Kagan(D) losing to Ribble(R) after having defeated Green(R). The Walker margins in each of the districts were significant in 2010, averaging 13%.
    3. Joe Green is incorrect. The Democrats can only lose seats in the two races next week. They can’t gain any.
    4. There are no such things as moral victories in politics. The Democrats gained 2 seats they didn’t have when they started yesterday. They could have gained 4. They very easily could have only gained 1. But alas 2 is the number. A retention rate of under 80% is generally not seen as promising by any party. It is very difficult to get a person elected. Keeping a person elected is relatively easy.

  • Trying to paint this as anything but a disaster for the Unions and the Democrats is a hard task MZ and I salute your efforts.

    I tend to agree however with that notorious right wing rag The New York Times:

    “Two Republican state senators lost their seats in recall elections around Wisconsin on Tuesday, but Republicans maintained their control of the State Senate, ultimately handing a defeat to union groups and Democrats who had spent months and millions of dollars trying to wrestle away at least some of the state’s political power.

    The outcome was seen as a victory for Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican whose move to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers this year set off a firestorm of protests, then counterprotests and finally a summer of unprecedented recall efforts.”

    Mickey Kaus, one of the more insightful bloggers of the moderate Left puts it well:

    “Unions Lose Again in Wisconsin: It looks as if the organized labor movement has failed to recall enough Wisconsin Republicans to regain control of the state senate. That’s a) in an off-year election where union turnout usually makes the difference b) in famously progressive Wisconsin c) after spending many millions d) with a nationwide media and organizing push e) when labor had a galvanizing issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s direct assault on the institutional collective bargaining power of public employees, which led to a dramatic walkout by Democrats.”

  • Don.
    A totally irrelevant comment.

    You’re blogging at 4.04 in the morning?
    The last time I was up that early, I hadn’t got home yet 😉
    Mind you, that was a number of years ago now.
    Regards all, time for bed. (We’re actually on the same day at the moment) 🙂

  • Early to bed and early to rise Don! I am normally in bed by 10:00 PM-10:30 PM and I normally rise between 4:00 AM-4:30 AM, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. On Wednesday morning I didn’t awaken until 5:15 AM when I was roused by my wife waking up!

11 Responses to Wisconsin Bishops Neutral on Union Issue

  • “The teaching of the Church allows for persons of good will to disagree as to which horn of this dilemma should be chosen, because there would be reasonable justification available for either alternative. (This is unlike the case of abortion or euthanasia, for which reason can offer absolutely no justification in terms of the killing of an innocent victim.)”


  • Hmmm, maybe parishioners should take a neutral stand on funding the diocese. Specially since many will be working with reduced incomes due to economic collapse. I respectfully disagree with the Bishop’s view of the two sides and his assessment of their relative merit. Where is the neutrality in bringing down duly elected government due to decades of democrat/union collusion and maleficence? Where was the Bishop’s helpful remarks during the last several decades of this of this train wreck brewing?

  • There was a commenter over at another blog who observed that for many years, Catholics of politically conservative bent have (rightly) chided Catholic Democrats for being disobedient to the Church on issues such as abortion. Now, he said, perhaps it is the Republican’s turn to have THEIR obedience tested with the sharp anti-union (or more precisely, anti-public-employee union) turn in the GOP.

    Of course I realize the two issues are different in character and degree but I do think this commenter has a point.

    As Bp. Morlino himself notes, the Wisconsin union dispute is a true moral and social dilemma which has valid arguments on both sides and a faithful Catholic could come down on either side — which is NOT true of a non-negotiable issue like abortion. It is certainly not fair to accuse Catholics who side with Gov. Walker in this case of being disloyal “catholycs” a la Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi, as some have attempted to do.

    However, this situation and the recent bishops’ statements should serve as a reminder to conservative/GOP-leaning Catholics to avoid getting too carried away with the faction of their party that opposes ALL unions, not just public employee unions. The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands. The situation might also serve as a reminder to Catholics not to get too comfortable with EITHER political party or side of the political spectrum.

  • The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands.

    If the employer cannot be obliged to bargain with this labor cartel, either by law or by rough justice administered by union members, they do not have much purpose other than as fraternal or benevolent associations.

    Questions of fair dealing in contracting for labor and questions of occupational health and safety can be dealt with via state and federal regulatory agencies. These can proceed without imposing unsustainable pay and benefit regimes.

  • I don’t know how much the unions can be thanked or not, since I’m not a union member. But the State of Wisconsin has been bedy bedy good to me. 90K a year, I hardly pay anything into my pension fund, a pension which will be very sizeable, indeed, and health care from one of the finest health insurance companies on the planet, all at hardy any cost to me, and free after I retire. WoHoo!

  • The bill in play does not eliminate public unions, but rather leaves benefits out of collective bargining. Wages and work rules are left in play. When the Church orginally supported the right to organize, I doubt it had in mind the right to extract a posh early retirement, especially one extracted from tax payers–the vast majority of whom do not have a posh early retirement in their future.

    One may as well say that the Pope belives that health care is a right, and since some people claim abortion is health care, one should believe that the Church therefore supports state funded abortion. Just becuase a right exists does not mean that every possible facet of it is reasonable or even permissible.

  • For God’s Sake, we pray..
    If only those so radically fearfull and protective of their union with UNIONS and willing to demonstrate in the streets and the halls of government should it be even the least threatened would be as dillegently active in the preservation of LIFE and MARRIAGE.

  • Make no mistake about it this is a political issue with far reaching consequences. On one hand you have the unions yet these are NOT the unions of the past. They are a revenue generating venue for specific political gain. LEADERS (emphasize) of unions ARE political and many are standing with communist parties. These union dues are being used to support this agenda and the pensions are being used to manipulate the markets.

    On the other hand you have the term union being used a dirty word. Trade unions are not the same as unions set up for civil servants and untrained workers. Trade unions have NO guarantees as to employment and are subject to the economic conditions of the time. In addition, they work for public and private employers and are not solely dependent on the taxpayer.

    Members of all unions SHOULD feel the economic sting of this depression as will all in the private sector. Remember the civil servants are a function of the private sector and MUST represent a fraction of the public sector. For this to happen they must be brought down to parity.

    I am a Catholic first and an American second but I do not see a contradiction in my stand. I see this as a political fight that I must weigh in on and one my church must stay out of for the time being.

  • An interesting point overlooked by the commenters seems to be the point that the public employee unions have agreed to take the pay cuts ordered by Governor Walker. They have chosen to sacrifice economically as many in the state have had to do. What the union members wish to preserve are their rights to collectively bargain as an effective group.
    Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.

  • “Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.”

    In regard to corporations any thing they would contribute to the State of Wisconsin would have to be passed on to their customers. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect taxes from their customers. If the Democrats in the state legislature think that a “soak the rich” tax plan is the path to solving Wisconsin’s budgetary woes, then I would urge the Wisconsin Democrat “fleebagging” senators currently in Illinois to go back behind the Cheddar Curtain, resume their seats in the State Senate, and forthrightly make their case. Wisconsin currently has an 8% income tax on those making $225,000.00 plus each year, so all they would have to do is figure how high they could raise it before wealthy taxpayers borrowed a leaf from their book and fled the state.

40 Responses to Wisconsin Public Unions Defy The People’s Will

  • I’m very skeptical that they receive more than $44K in benefits.

  • I am ashamed that a site claiming to be Catholic would engage in such blatant misdirection. The average teacher’s salary in Wisconsin is not $100K. The article cited correctly states that total compensation, which includes, pension, salary, health benefits and probably other benefits, is over $100K. The average teacher makes $56K.

    Yes, the correct information is in the article cited, but the statement made in the post is wrong as stated and requires the reader to follow up to get the truth. A Catholic web site should put a higher standard on truth.

    In general, I am more often than not discouraged by the fact that American Catholic in general seems to be more interested in blogging about economically conservative (even though faithful (not cafeteria) catholics in the USA can disagree on those ideas) topics and even football than they are about issues of real substance to American Catholics.

    RR: With respect to the $44K in benefits, I can easily believe that figure. The cost of health insurance, particularly the relatively generous health plans state workers get, will probably top $15K per year for a family plan. In similar fashion, a generous pension that kicks in at 55 means the average teacher will be collecting their pension for almost as long as they actually spent working (Figure someone who makes it to 55 has better than even odds of making it to 80). Add other benefits like life insurance, sick pay, vacation pay (Though most teachers only get a few days of that per year), disability coverage, etc. and I can well see the figure hitting $44K.

  • MarylandBill,

    I would imagine that the mistake you point out is the result of mis-reading rather than malice. Assuming the contrary does not appear to get anyone anywhere.

    That said, most people prefer not to have to accept salary or benefit cuts. I don’t see the teachers are necessarily a “selfish bunch” for trying to keep their total compensation package the same as it is now. However, given that the public probably does not want to increase taxes further, they’re clearly going to have to end up accepting some sort of cuts, whether it’s some teachers getting laid off or all taking a benefit decrease.

    That, or the cuts get pushed off onto some other budget item and teacher compensation remains the same while some other program gets cut.

  • Bill, if the State Gov’t didn’t pay for those items for the teachers, they’d need to pay the teachers more money so that they could afford those items. It’s not so much a “blatant misdirection” as a “understanding finances differently than you” type of thing.

    I also believe you, Bill, are missing out on a lot of posts if you think that these guys only post about football and economics.

  • Bill,

    Total compensation equates to everything the teachers receive.

    It’s interesting how you read into what I typed as malice.


    100% of what you say is untrue.

    See, if I wanted to, I can make stuff up like you.

  • My wife worked for the diocese as a school teacher. Made 29K after being a teacher for 12 years. Health and dental benefits were minimal and required a huge contribution. NO retirement benefits. Also no union allowed. If it was social justice for the Church…

  • Phillip,

    Your wife will be rewarded in Heaven. She is an excellent example of selflessness and self-giving.

    Wisconsin teachers are the diametric opposite.

  • I wonder if vacation time is included as part of the benefits calculation. If so, then it’s easy to see how the average teacher would be getting more than $44k in benefits.

  • Tito,

    I’d tell her that but she might use it the next time she wants that trip to Florida. 🙂

    I like Jonah Goldberg’s take:,0,4678423.column

  • You can’t include unpaid vacation as part of total monetary compensation. If we did that, the unemployed are very well off.

    One of the biggest benefits of the union busting bill, IMO, is that it allows collective bargaining only for wages. That should result in less non-wage compensation. We’ll get a better idea of the total compensation.

    Tito, what did I make up?

  • Fire them all. Replace them with non-union teachers. Charge them with fraud and derilection of duty. Suspend the licenses of the doctors who gave them fake excuse slips. Use the videos and pictures as evidence. This must not be allowed to prevail.

  • RR,

    I don’t think I understand your point, or I think you may just be missing Tito’s (and mine) about teacher pay (and no, not maliciously):

    Let’s say a public school teacher works 200 days/year (including school-year holidays off and summer vacations)–I don’t know if that figure is too high, but let’s just use it for comparison’s sake. Then let’s take a private-sector employee who works 260 days/year (with the usual holidays off and two weeks paid vacation). if Jane teacher makes $56K in salary for those 200 days, while Joan private-sector employee makes $60K/year for her 260 days of work, then who gets the better salary, annual work time considered? That’s why many economic writers, when discussing salaries for teachers and professors, will perform a simple equivalency calculation to those in the private sector who receive far less time off. It doesn’t matter if one considers the summer vacation of teachers “paid time off” or “unpaid time off” if their salaries for their actual work time are considerably higher than those for the equivalent work time of private-sector employees.

    To all of the above, the usual caveats apply: no, not all teachers are so well-compensated, nor are all private employees badly compensated. And yes, for now I am a professor, although at a Catholic college whose pay rates for professors are 40% below the state average for public-college professors here in Texas. I only wish I made $56K/year plus generous benefits!

  • Some more perspective on public unions’ power. Again, contrary to CST? Probably.

  • You can’t include unpaid vacation as part of total monetary compensation.

    I don’t know whether summer vacation is included in the benefits calculation. But it seems reasonable to do something to take account of the fact that a teacher’s yearly salary represents pay for nine months work, as opposed to twelve months for most everyone else.

  • BA,

    I’m sure someone will rebut that it’s not a 9-month job, that there are many unpaid hours that go into teaching. Maybe so, but I think the unpaid hours vary by the commitment of the individual teacher. I think it’s entirely possible to do the bare minimum and keep the job.

  • From “On Human Work” regarding unions.

    “20. Importance of Unions

    All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions. The vital interests of the workers are to a certain extent common for all of them; at the same time however each type of work, each profession, has its own specific character which should find a particular reflection in these organizations.

    In a sense, unions go back to the mediaeval guilds of artisans, insofar as those organizations brought together people belonging to the same craft and thus on the basis of their work. However, unions differ from the guilds on this essential point: the modern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers-workers in general but especially the industrial workers-to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. Obviously, this does not mean that only industrial workers can set up associations of this type. Representatives of every profession can use them to ensure their own rights. Thus there are unions of agricultural workers and of white-collar workers; there are also employers’ associations. All, as has been said above, are further divided into groups or subgroups according to particular professional specializations.

    Catholic social teaching does not hold that unions are no more than a reflection of the “class” structure of society and that they are a mouthpiece for a class struggle which inevitably governs social life. They are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people in accordance with their individual professions. However, this struggle should be seen as a normal endeavour “for” the just good: in the present case, for the good which corresponds to the needs and merits of working people associated by profession; but it is not a struggle “against” others. Even if in controversial questions the struggle takes on a character of opposition towards others, this is because it aims at the good of social justice, not for the sake of “struggle” or in order to eliminate the opponent. It is characteristic of work that it first and foremost unites people. In this consists its social power: the power to build a community. In the final analysis, both those who work and those who manage the means of production or who own them must in some way be united in this community. In the light of this fundamental structure of all work-in the light of the fact that, in the final analysis, labour and capital are indispensable components of the process of production in any social system-it is clear that, even if it is because of their work needs that people unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.

    Just efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country. Union demands cannot be turned into a kind of group or class “egoism”, although they can and should also aim at correcting-with a view to the common good of the whole of society- everything defective in the system of ownership of the means of production or in the way these are managed. Social and socioeconomic life is certainly like a system of “connected vessels”, and every social activity directed towards safeguarding the rights of particular groups should adapt itself to this system.

    In this sense, union activity undoubtedly enters the field of politics, understood as prudent concern for the common good. However, the role of unions is not to “play politics” in the sense that the expression is commonly understood today. Unions do not have the character of political parties struggling for power; they should not be subjected to the decision of political parties or have too close links with them. In fact, in such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the £ramework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes.

    Speaking of the protection of the just rights of workers according to their individual professions, we must of course always keep in mind that which determines the subjective character of work in each profession, but at the same time, indeed before all else, we must keep in mind that which conditions the specific dignity of the subject of the work. The activity of union organizations opens up many possibilities in this respect, including their efforts to instruct and educate the workers and to foster their selfeducation. Praise is due to the work of the schools, what are known as workers’ or people’s universities and the training programmes and courses which have developed and are still developing this field of activity. It is always to be hoped that, thanks to the work of their unions, workers will not only have more, but above all be more: in other words, that they will realize their humanity more fully in every respect.

    One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike. While admitting that it is a legitimate means, we must at the same time emphasize that a strike remains, in a sense, an extreme means. It must not be abused; it must not be abused especially for “political” purposes. Furthermore it must never be forgotten that, when essential community services are in question, they must in every case be ensured, if necessary by means of appropriate legislation. Abuse of the strike weapon can lead to the paralysis of the whole of socioeconomic life, and this is contrary to the requirements of the common good of society, which also corresponds to the properly understood nature of work itself. “

  • My skepticism is directed only at the $100K+ figure. Maybe public school teachers are very well compensated per hour of work but that doesn’t mean you can extrapolate from high hourly income to high annual income.

  • I know where my sentiments lie on this issue. But with regard to the cartoon, why shouldn’t the state senators take every procedural step for their cause, even including “quorum-busting”?

  • Here are my emotions on the issue: I hated school and I hate taxes.

    Some times the achievements of government programs do not justify the expenses.

    Pinky: One, two can play that game; Two, elections and the consent of the governed matter. Pinkoes term that “dictatorship of the majority.”

  • In Milwaukee, the average TOTAL COMPENSATION package tops $100k.

    I’m sure someone will rebut that it’s not a 9-month job, that there are many unpaid hours that go into teaching.
    Sounds like a salaried position. This sort of thing abounds outside the realm of education. It’s not unique (and I don’t think you were asserting so) to teachers.

    My gut feeling is that teachers in WI don’t realize how well they have it comparatively. I see that in my own job (unionized engineers). Those that have not worked elsewhere don’t seem to realize that their benefits package is better than most.

  • Big Tex,

    No kidding. Their benefits package is better because they’re unionized. Don’t worry, though. Soon we’ll all be scraping by on $40,000, paying the majority of taxes, and our health costs will rise and rise. Fun times ahead!

    And then the richest 1% might get to own 30% of all actual wealth in the country!!

  • Actually WJ public employee unions did well because they hired their bosses through massive political donations and providing bodies for campaigns. Then the bosses paid back the unions through lucrative benefits packages and salaries, with the tab picked up by the taxpayers. It was a sweet deal for all concerned, except for the taxpayers. Now the money has run out and the public employee unions will soon be one with amalgamated buggy whip manufacturers. Of course, any members of the public employee unions who do not like the new economic reality are free to join the rest of us in the private sector!

  • Here is a link to a list of top political donors 1989-2010. It is astonishing that the Republicans are competitive politically in this country with the way the Democrats dominate big money donors, mostly, but not exclusively, labor unions, with most corporate donors giving similar amounts to Democrats and Republicans.

  • RR,

    “Total compensation” reflects the amount of money it takes to employ someone – and as these are government employees, that is how much of the taxpayer’s money it takes to keep one teacher on the job for a year: $100,000.00. It doesn’t mean the teacher takes all that home, but it is the total cost. The average total compensation of a private sector worker in the United States is about 40% less – it is absurd that any public sector worker should, on average, have a higher total compensation than the taxpayers who pay the bills.

    More important than the benefit package – that issue the Democrats are willing to surrender on – is the fact that Walker and the GOP are going for the liberal jugular – if unions cannot negotiate back room deals with politicians bought via campaign contributions, then the whole liberal power structure collapses. There is no public constituency for Big Government other than public sector unions…no one who will go to the mat for spending increases on other people. While a majority might, in theory, be in favor of, say, spending more money on government education, hardly anyone who doesn’t have a kid in school or employment with government will bestir themselves to ensure that such spending happens. So, too, with spending on the EPA, the Department of Energy, Commerce, etc…only those who are directly concerned with the government actions will organize and agitate for increased spending…taking the unions out of the equation means that there simply won’t be the “oomph” behind such efforts necessary…and that means that small government people will gain the whip hand in debates.

    This action, whether it was intended or not, is a new, American liberation…freeing us from the baleful and destructive hand of Big Government…and the unions who depend upon it know it, and will fight it tooth and nail with their Big Government allies among the Democrat and RINO parts of the Ruling Class.

  • Noonan, I’m aware what “total compensation” is, though some others seem to be confused. I’d love to see proof of this $100K figure. It’s possible but an average of $44K in benefits seems high so I’d like to see proof.

  • I really don’t know who to believe when it comes to the degree of public support, or opposition for Walker. On the one hand I can see where these protests and the Democratic legislators are doing more harm than good for their cause. On the other hand, there are still plenty of people out there who see unions as their best or last line of defense against the extinction of the middle class. I agree that the disproportionate power of public employee unions needs to be curbed, but Walker is taking a huge gamble here. He may succeed in breaking the union stranglehold on government, but it could still prove to be a Pyrrhic victory that costs the GOP far more goodwill than it gains.

  • there are still plenty of people out there who see unions as their best or last line of defense against the extinction of the middle class.

    Business proprietors are never union members and salaried employees very seldom are outside the public sector. How does one suppose that union membership will prevent the ‘extinction’ of a social stratum they never included? Given that only about 15% of wage earners in the private sector are members of unions, it is difficult to see how more than incremental modifications in income distribution are effected by union contracts.

    Unions in our time are first and foremost a crooked lobby for the interest of public employees as public employees.

  • RR,

    People in the video within this link ( plainly state it. They appear to be school board members of some government functionary… and not some sort of budget cutting crusader.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing. It is a reminder that this country was founded on the principles of a representative government, so for Americans to finally stand up for their needs and make their voice heard speaks volumes about the system that we have inherited. I don’t care if it’s people protesting their second amendment right or their right to collective bargaining–it is indeed that something to embrace as citizens.

    That being said, I’m not a teacher nor a resident of Wisconsin, so for me to say that these teachers have enough money and have no reason to protest, would be overreaching. We have to be careful when we say to people “you have enough benefits–enough money to live on.” Last time I checked, that is what Hugo Chávez does all the time to our middle class back in Venezuela.

  • It took at lot of clicking through links but I think I got to the bottom of it. The $44K in benefits is arrived at by dividing total expenditure on benefits (including Social Security and Medicare) by the number of active teachers. It includes benefits for current retirees. It doesn’t include unfunded obligations. So there’s significant over and under inclusion. I couldn’t find which predominates.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing.

    You mean the Tea Party? 🙂

  • “Last time I checked, that is what Hugo Chávez does all the time to our middle class back in Venezuela.”

    And what the teachers union is trying to do to the middle class in Wisconsin.

  • Actually, the claim that a group of people have enough money so we can tax them is quite a leftist thing.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing.

    You’re not the only one.

    I think it’s great that what is happening in Wisconsin (just as long as it isn’t violent).

    What I don’t sympathize with is that, with benefits included, these teachers make on average $100,000/year, more than most Americans take in.

  • “How does one suppose that union membership will prevent the ‘extinction’ of a social stratum they never included? Given that only about 15% of wage earners in the private sector are members of unions..”

    I find it hard to believe that union membership “never included” the middle class. Union membership peaked at about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce during the postwar industrial boom of the late ’40s and early ’50s. I would guess that a lot of them were, or became, middle class, if you define middle class as being able to buy a home and at least one vehicle, being able to purchase TV sets and most major appliances, take vacations, etc. They couldn’t all have been dirt poor or filthy rich.

    According to Wikipedia, from 1953 to the late 1980s union membership in construction fell from 84% to 22%, manufacturing from 42% to 25%, mining from 65% to 15%, and transportation from 80% to 37%.

    The question is, was this decline in union membership seen as a good thing or a bad thing by the workers themselves? Is it something that workers were by and large happy to see — were they eager to rid themselves of oppressive union bosses — or is it merely something they have learned to live with as a result of globalization, NAFTA, and other forces beyond their control, but would prefer had not happened? How many people blame union greed for driving manufacturing and other industries out of their states or overseas, vs. how many blame corporate greed? And how many blame both?

    My guess is that among those who think unions, while prone to abuses, are basically a good thing; who attribute the relative prosperity of the WWII and Baby Boom generations to unionism; and who wish they could still enjoy the benefits of union membership, are not going to be easily convinced that public employee unions are THE enemy.

    Yes, they will grouse about public employees being overpaid, lazy, and leeching off the taxpayers, and they will agree that concessions need to be made. But when push comes to shove, if they are forced to choose sides, they will side with the unions. And I suspect that certain elements of the GOP may have seriously underestimated how much residual goodwill remains toward the labor movement, and how much the public regards corporate greed (accurately or not), not union greed, as the real enemy of prosperity.

    That is why I believe that the best approach to this issue is NOT to unnecessarily stir up class warfare and pit public employees against private ones but to emphasize that it is in EVERYONE’s interest, no matter who they work for, to have a government that lives within its means and does not make promises that can’t be kept.

    Speaking of which, I predict (you heard it here first) that regardless of the outcome in Wisconsin, Ohio, et. al., the next big battle over public employee benefits may be between competing factions of Democrats, right here in Illinois. Our Democratic governor recently proposed a budget that leaves public employee unions pretty much untouched — in fact ADDS more employees in some areas like prisons — but makes drastic cuts in many human service programs, in Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes, etc. And this is even AFTER approving the infamous tax increase.

    Just wait till those factions start fighting over the crumbs of the budget. If every vendor, service provider, doctor, pharmacist, nursing home, etc. who had ever been stiffed by the State of Illinois decided to stage their own protest march on Springfield, it would probably dwarf the one in Madison!

  • Check out this statement by Bp. Robert Morlino of Madison concerning the labor situation:

    This is linked to also over at Fr. Z’s blog. (The note about the statement only being intended for distribution within the diocese doesn’t mean no one else is supposed to read it; it means that it is particularly addressed to Catholics of that diocese.)

  • Mr Talbot’s comments are ludicrous. Pope Pius the Tenth and Cardinal Mannig of England two of the most faithful resolute Catholics in many years SUPPORTED unions throughout their lives. It is sad so many arrogant Republicans from the General Jaruselski wing of the GOP such as Pence of Indiana, the fool govenor of Wisconsin and the late Ronald Reagan who had so much to say about Lech Walensa’s struggle to win benefits, bargaining rights, union reps. and wages are so much like General Jaruselski (Red Poland) when it comes to workers in this country. The Governor of Wisconsin is the height of Arrogance like Gen Jaruselski when he tries to use fiscal problems in Wisconsin to treat workers like the way Lech Walenska and the Solidarity union workers were treated by Red Poland., Pius the tenth and cardinal Manning fought their whole conservative lives against this while remaining true to the morals and faith of Catholicism. Manning (English Cardinal and Pope Pius the tenth urged people to form unions. ALL benefits such as the minimum wage, 40 hour work week, defined benefits pension, sick leave were given to workers by unions forcing bosses and their shills in the government(Poland, Wisconsin-USa etc.) to give this to all USA Americans and the Polish workers after Years of oppositions to every single one of these. Non union workers often almost NEVER have a 40 hour work week, pensions ,either Defined benefit or IRA, any kind of sick leave whatsoever, let alone senority or job security. Sad to say Mr. talbot is a sorry excuse for a Catholic and like the arrogant sorry excuse for a Wisconsin govenor never read the Catholic faith conservatives like Cardinal Manning and Pope Pius the tenth,& JP the second teaching- urgeing and supporting of Catholic to join unions. This is also why the very conservative pro life John Paul the second, openly and in monetary-secret terms supported Lech Walensa in Poland trying to achieve in Poland what the unions are defending against Jaruselski’s govenor clone in Wisconsin. Manning(Cardinal) and two Popes ,Pius the tenth and JP-2nd knew and preached that without unions collective barginning for wages-benfits you have Red, China, Poland etc. and NOT a free let alone a Christian Catholic society. Shame on Mr. Talbot for claiming his anti union jargon is even remotely Catholic, Cardinal Manning, and Pope John the second and Pius the tenth said and believed otherwise. Sincerely.Ed ,Pro Life, Pro family-Pro union for everybody from Poland to Wisconsin

  • It was Pope JP the second that should be the pope in my last paragraph of a previous post , Sincerely, Ed M. waterbury, Ct.

  • if you define middle class as being able to buy a home and at least one vehicle, being able to purchase TV sets and most major appliances, take vacations, etc. They couldn’t all have been dirt poor or filthy rich.

    I would not define ‘middle-class’ that way.

    About 65% of the population lives in owner-occupied housing. This figure has changed little in the last several decades. About 85% of the adult population own motor vehicles. Many of the remainder are college students and old folks who are unsafe behind the wheel. Television sets were (by 1970) found in 96% of American homes. Most of the remainder were accounted for by country people out of range of broadcast signals and by members of the intelligentsia. I doubt there are too many people younger than the two of us who remember apartments with shared kitchens. The last time I was in one was around about 1974.

    The foregoing improvements in consumption are attributable to improvements in productivity. Very little can be attributed to the re-distribution (from the salaried ranks to wage-earners and between strata of wage-earners) that accompanies the formation of labor cartels. The per capita income of the United States has trebled during the post war period. That is not going to magically evaporate if the extant unions are re-chartered as benevolent associations for the purchase of insurance and the provision of portable pensions.

    As for the ‘dirt poor’, a comfortable majority of the 20% or so whose personal income from other than public benefits lies below a statutory baseline are so because they are alienated from the workforce for a variety of reasons (age, disability, or learned helplessness). Unions are no help to them. As for the ‘filthy rich’, people with sufficient assets to live in modest comfort from a private income amount to about 4% of the population. Somehow, I do not see the strata which comprehend 3/4ths of the popuation evaporating and being redistributed to these other strata because the labor cartels which organize 15% of the workforce are dissolved.

Political Miscellania 6/24/10

Thursday, June 24, AD 2010

A roundup of recent political news.

1.  Nikki Haley, see the above video, crushed her opponent in the runoff 65-35.  She survived bizzare accusations of infidelity, attacks on whether she is a Christian, her parents are Sikh immigrants, and outright racism.  She is only 38 years old, her youth being something she has in common with the new generation of conservatives running and winning this year.  She has a 20 point lead on her opponent in the general election and is the odds on favorite to win in the fall and be the next governor of South Carolina.

2.  Tim Scott handily won his runoff against Paul Thurmond for the Republican nomination for Congress from South Carolina 1.  This is a heavily Republican district, so Mr. Scott, who many consider to be the most conservative member of the South Carolina legislature, will now almost certainly be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction.

3.  The bad news for the Democrats for November just will not stop.  Gallup released a poll this week which shows a huge enthusiasm gap in favor of the GOP.

The current average is based on four measures of this enthusiasm question since February, including the recent June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll. In that poll, 53% of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting and 39% were less enthusiastic, while 35% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting and 56% were less enthusiastic.

Republicans’ net score of +14 more enthusiastic in the latest poll compared with the Democrats’ net score of -21 represents the largest relative party advantage Gallup has measured in a single midterm election-year poll. More generally, Republicans have shown a decided relative advantage in enthusiasm throughout 2010, averaging a net score of +28, compared with Democrats’ net score of 0.

(Gallup instituted a separate enthusiasm question in March on its Daily tracking survey, which asks voters to say how enthusiastic they are about voting this year as opposed to comparing their current enthusiasm to their enthusiasm in prior elections. This new enthusiasm question lacks a historical trend but has also shown a consistent Republican advantage throughout the year.)

The 28 percentage-point party difference in net scores on the “more enthusiastic than usual” question in 2010 is the highest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, with 1994’s 17-point Republican advantage the only other midterm election-year gap coming close. (See the table at the end of the article for full data by party.)

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One Response to Political Miscellania 6/24/10

  • Re: Patty Murray’s challengers… Akers is solid, but he just doesn’t have much of a following among folks here in WA. He’s a businessman from Bellingham, who intends to streamline or LEAN out the bureaucracy.

    Rossi is (in my mind) a Johnny-come-lately to the race, and is the supposed establishment choice. He has name recognition, but he has yet to win a statewide race. In my time here, he’s the guy that lost to Christine Gregoire (governor) twice.

    Clint Didier is the man who has won my support. He’s a former tight end for the Redskins, and even caught a TD pass in the Superbowl. He’s a farmer, and a football coach back in Easter WA. By no means is he a polished politician, he admits quite frankly that he is not a polished politician.

    The Washington State Republican Party recently held their convention. Terra Mork, a local activist and pro-life conservative gives her take on the convention here and here. Additionally, Michelle at “Life of the Party”, another local local activist and pro-life conservative gives her endorsement to Didier as well.

    Anecdotally, the signs you see around town for Senate candidates are primarily for Didier. I have not seen one for Rossi. I’ve only seen one for Akers and one for Murray. WA is typically a blue state, but the enthusiasm seems to be falling mostly behind Didier, as Terra’s report of the straw poll seems to indicate. It should be interesting to see how the top two primary plays out to see who really will be on the ballot in the general.