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Thoroughly Modern Bob – Coming to a Legislature Near You!

Paul Hatfield
PERSPECTIVE-Thoroughly Modern Millie was a Tony Award winner. State Senator Bob Hertzberg is rolling out his own sequel. The only problem is the production cost. Actually, the real problem is we will be the ones bankrolling it if Bob gets the green light. It is the most expensive tax scam concocted, more than California HSR. I’m talking…

Elite Girls School Has Brentwood Up in Arms … Over Traffic

John Schwada
INSIDE LA-Hairdresser Mikell Powell is walking her two dogs in Brentwood along Sunset Boulevard just across the street from the Archer School for Girls (photo left). “I’m opposed to anything that would make driving on Sunset here anymore hellish than it already is,” Powell says as her dogs tug on their leashes. No question: there’s a 1.2 mile…

Homeless LA: Safe Havens, Not Sidewalks

Mike Bonin
WHO WE ARE-In recent years, Los Angeles has seen more progress in combating homelessness than it ever has – yet the problem is still getting worse. Since 2011, the region has housed more than 23,000 people – a record number even by national standards. Yet homelessness is on the rise. Encampments are proliferating in our neighborhoods throughout…

Can LA Afford Another Olympics?

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Boston bailed on hosting the 2024 Olympics when Mayor Martin Walsh refused to sign a host city contract with the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) that would have put Beantown (and possibly the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) on the hook for any cost overruns associated with this 17 day extravaganza. But Walsh’s refusal to…

The Petty Hypocrisy of Mandatory Ethics Training

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-As a member of a neighborhood council board, I am required by state law to do 2 hours of ethics training every 2 years. Elected officials such as members of the City Council are also required to take this training. The curious thing about our California ethics rules is that they prohibit the small stuff while looking the other way…

Los Angeles: Brown lives Matter!

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-According to the Los Angeles Times, over the last five years in LA County, coroner's data show that Latinos, who make up about half of the county's population, also represent about half the people killed by police. Of the 23 people fatally shot by law enforcement in the county this year, 14 were Latino. The Times raises an…

Grading the LA Times: Mike Feuer’s B+ Leaves Something Out

Noel Weiss
OTHER VOICES-Reading the LA Times’ Report Card grade of B+ for City Attorney Mike Feuer, it was good to see at least a 'hat-tip' to the issue of whether the City Attorney really is the “attorney for the people.” But their conclusion seems to be that he is not, and I believe that is wrong. Exactly who does the City Attorney represent? Certainly, he…

Beverly Hills Pounds Final Nail in Bike Lanes Coffin

Mark Elliot
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-If you expected that Beverly Hills might install bicycle lanes on our segment of Santa Monica Boulevard when reconstructing it next year, you will be sorely disappointed to know that City Council just pounded the final nail into the bike lanes coffin. City Council split on the Blue Ribbon Committee recommendation to expand…

Helter Skelter, Murder and the Looming Race War

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA-In one of our last conversations before his death earlier this year, author and prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi lamented that while he had successfully imprisoned Charles Manson, he feared he had only made a dent in the threat of an apocalyptic race war that the mass murderer had hoped to ignite. “Madness and mad men,” said Bugliosi,…

 

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Democrats Failed in Wisconsin Because They Failed Wisconsin

WALKER RECALL - On, Wisconsin! Or so it was meant to be with a union-led recall in the home state of Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette Sr., the populist governor and senator who once shaped the cry for anti-corporate social justice in this nation. After La Follette there was the Wisconsinite William Proxmire, the great conscience of the US Senate, followed by the equally impressive Russ Feingold, who, despite being exactly correct in warning of the consequences of unfettered banking greed, was turned out by Wisconsin voters in 2010.

Perhaps if the original McCain-Feingold legislation—gutted by the Supreme Court—was still the law of the land on campaign finance, the Democrats and their union base would have survived Tuesday’s election.

Certainly that is the excuse provided by what remains of the liberal media, which point to the lopsided advantage in funding for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and to the high court’s Citizens United ruling in seeking reasons for this “billionaire’s victory” over “people power.”
●●●●●
Other post recall perspectives:
“Big Money Wins in Wisconsin”-Peter Dreier
“In Wisconsin, Money Wins”-Randy Shaw
“Union Power Challenged”-Joel Fox
“Wisconsin Recall No Cause for White House Panic”-Earl Ofari Hutchinson
“Don’t Overstate Wisconsin”-LA Times Editorial
●●●●●
But the larger truth is that the spirit of populism has been perverted by the Republican tea party right and that Democrats are left defending government bureaucracy while remaining incapable of responding to America’s widespread economic pain.

At a time when so many are worried about obtaining or holding on to work, it’s difficult to rally around the guaranteed job security and high pensions of some privileged government employees. Not all public workers fit into this category, to be sure.

But nonpublic workers who must struggle with the vagaries of private employment have seen more than enough examples of government employee unions, the last stronghold of organized labor, exercising their power to ensure what appears to be outsized compensation for their members.

Of course this argument is a red herring. The budget crises of state and municipal governments were not brought on by excessive pay to firemen, cops and other civil servants, but rather by a banking meltdown that has enriched those who engineered it.

Housing values, and the local taxes dependent on them, are down because of financial shenanigans that wrapped mortgages into collateralized debt obligations, and that is the root cause of government red ink. But the job security and pensions of government employees make terribly convenient scapegoats at a time when so many Americans are lining up at food banks.

The electorate in Wisconsin, and San Diego and San Jose, Calif., that voted Tuesday against public employee unions were not expressing a rational response to the crisis, but rather a tantrum stoked by the lavishly financed demagogues of the right. The voters bought their story because the opportunism of the Democratic Party leadership has left progressives without a believable alternative to the tea party’s narrative.

Indeed, job creation became a bigger issue than collective bargaining in the Wisconsin race, and the dismal national unemployment figures that came out just days before the election didn’t hurt the Republicans’ cause.

By refusing to campaign in the state before Tuesday’s vote, President Obama proved he has no heart for engaging in a real debate about the sources of our economic crisis. As Bloomberg News reported in an editorial titled “All Eyes on Wisconsin, Except Obama’s,” the president made two fundraising stops within 50 miles of the Wisconsin border last Friday, but studiously avoided entering the state he easily carried in the 2008 election. Instead of visiting, Obama tweeted: “It’s Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I’m standing by Tom Barrett. He’d make an outstanding governor. -bo.”

Not a word of support for the unions that so slavishly support the president and spent millions propping up Barrett.

“Bo” emerged with his popularity intact, according to exit polls, and he will do better in November than Barrett did this week, despite media attempts to treat the Wisconsin election as an omen of things to come.

Few Midwestern independents and moderates will fault Obama for saving the American automobile industry from extinction, if Mitt Romney plays that weak card in campaigning against the president.

Nor will the president lack for funds to finance his message. Democrats who made such a big deal about the money from the superrich that poured into Wisconsin were frequently reminded on Internet comments pages that Obama raised more money from the well-heeled than did John McCain in the last election.

And to paraphrase those old Smith Barney commercials, Obama got Wall Street’s money the old-fashioned way. He earned it.

That cannot be said of the unqualified support Obama has received from organized labor and the working people it attempts to represent. He has failed both at every turn.

(Robert Scheer is the editor of truthdig.org where this column was first posted.) –cw

Tags: Walker Recall, Robert Scheer, Wisconsin election, Democrats, unions, Democrats failed






CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 46
Pub: June 8, 2012

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