Link roundup 1/11/2015

How did Ben Carson’s support evaporate? He expressed doubts about fundamentalist doctrine on the apocalypse and Hell.

The outlines of Ted Cruz’s bold Southern Strategy.

America’s only truly dangerous foreign policy challenge – which no candidate will talk about – what happens to the world when China’s economy craters?

Only a bare majority of Americans still identify with a political party, a new low point.

The Supreme Court will hear Friedrichs today, with the potential to dismantle a miserable 19th century legacy of adversarial, politically active public employee unions.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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127 comments on “Link roundup 1/11/2015
  1. MassDem says:

    Somebody sent the Oregon militia a bag of flashlights, which they did not appreciate.

    They should hang onto that bag-in a pinch, it could be emergency rations.

  2. OT, but it looks like some U.S. sailors are now guests at Club Ayatollah. How very nice of our Iranian nuclear powers to help out with those “disabled” boats! Enjoy your SOTU, Mr. Pres. 😉

    BTW, I seem to remember Barrack taking Mitt to task over the notion that we don’t use bayonets anymore, and that our much reduced Navy is ever so much more technically advanced than in years past, so that we really only need, like, maybe three dozen ships, or some such. Curious, but I wasn’t aware that we’d developed Star Trek transporter technology, whereby our military assets can be in multiple locations at the same time. Guess I missed something. Oh, well. The parent-in-chief will make it all better, I’m sure.

  3. Doug says:

    OT but related to previous posts…

    For those concerned about how technology will affect the economy and your place in it, I just made a troubling observation. In the hallway outside my new office are three doors. They are labeled Men, Women, and Mechanical. This stuff is moving faster than I expected.

  4. 1mime says:

    It appears that the OR militia just can’t leave things well enough alone. If anyone here thought this was a “principled” stand, think again.

  5. Anse says:

    It is my understanding that only around 6% of China’s population is invested in their stock market. How much can we really assume about their economy based on their stocks tanking so badly? I’ve heard the biggest problem with China is that information is unreliable; reports from the government are often departures from the truth, but it’s hard to pin down exactly what the truth is anyway. That and a disrespect for intellectual property rights are probably the main sources of worry. Maybe the error is in thinking China’s emerging consumer class is going to take precedent over the country’s role as our chief manufacturer of American consumer goods.

    • goplifer says:

      Their stock market is just another canary in the coal mine. They are trying to centrally manage an economy that has grown too large to be centrally managed. And they are discovering that disentangling themselves from their commitment to central management is not just difficult, but life-threateningly dangerous.

      This development cycle is well documented. Growing past it is extremely difficult and usually violent. Brazil, India, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia, on the strength of relatively open democratic institutions are powering through that barrier. Argentina, Venezuela, Russia and Egypt are examples that failed. If China fails to execute this transition, and their lack of representative institutions suggests that they will, the global consequences will be enormous.

    • 1mime says:

      I watch a lot of financial news discussion, and the experts in this area state that China’s shift to a more open market concept (hardly capitalism…yet) is in its nascent stage – only about 25 years old. The thinking is that they are making mistakes due to inexperience and more significantly, the lack of experienced business advisers who would normally help develop and push for appropriate financial controls. I believe it is called, “a learning curve”. At the very least, the two market actions that they took within hours of oneanother – initially a disaster, then a total correction, showed they are not being obdurate or reluctant in their recognition that a correction was needed… matter how bad it made them look. That takes chutzpah and that is going to help them. False pride and arrogance seldom have positive outcomes.

      Couple that with a world that is experiencing financial difficulty and markets roil – theirs as well as ours. When your principle industry is building widgits for “other” people to purchase, and “other” people are having their own financial problems, the old supply/demand thing gets out of whack. Obviously this is an over-simplification, but despite strong jobs numbers, America’s economy is struggling. What will be very interesting is how the American voter assigns responsibility for a weak economy in the U.S. Traditionally, if the economy is poor, the party in power is held responsible. Who would that be today? How could it be Obama, when Republicans hold both houses of Congress, and, have fundamentally blocked most of his jobs efforts?

      If the American voter were making well informed, logical decisions, we might have a different slate of GOP candidates. Why, then, expect them to hold Republicans responsible for this economic malaise?

      • goplifer says:

        Weak economy? If this is a weak economy then we’re never going to see a “strong” economy again. Longest streak of job creation in our history, one of the longest streaks without a recession. It doesn’t get better than this in a developed economy without bubble conditions.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        With all respect, if we had a President Romney right now and the unemployment rate were 5%, we wouldn’t be able to get him to shut up about it and Republicans would be going around the country taking every last bit of credit that they could about an American resurgence. A new “Morning in America,” if you will.

        It is not an accident that when a jobs report comes out saying that we created around 300,000 jobs in a single month, congressional Republicans are silent. Literally, they say absolutely nothing about it.

        That said, no one, including myself, would argue that even with all that good news, we still couldn’t be doing even better; much, much better in fact. Like others here, I want to see the minimum wage reasonably raised and indexed to inflation, a guarantee of paid family leave like virtually every other country in the world has, a guaranteed minimum income to thrust open the doors of opportunity for every man, woman and child, progress on institutionalized racism, an end to partisan gerrymandering across every single state (progress which I’m proud to say my home state of Florida has been making as an example for the nation; something which I’m very rarely able to say), a reversal of Citizens’ United, etc, etc, etc.

        But even with all that, we’ve come back from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression and we’re on the cusp of an energy revolution in this country, one that promises to completely reshape the dynamic and create millions of jobs in the process if we take full advantage of it.

        For all its woes and its unfinished business, America’s future is bright.

      • 1mime says:

        The U.S. is a stable economy by global standards. We have enjoyed one of the longest bull runs in the history of the market and have very healthy jobs numbers. I’m thrilled with that. I hope President Obama gets some credit as he sure gets nailed for everything that goes wrong! However, too many people aren’t making ends meet and many market sectors – commodities, retail, energy – to name three big ones, are having a really tough time – or, as I stated, “struggling”. Don’t take my word for it – read the WSJ and other financial journals or listen to business and financial commentary. The economy is slowing (which isn’t all bad) and economists say that we can not sustain our spending levels at the current pace of growth. Fine, conservatives say. Reduce spending more while you cut taxes. Then, where is the revenue going to come from? We have all basically agreed that the wealthy aren’t spending and the middle and lower class workers can’t. Analysts comment daily about their concerns with the common theme being, a “slow down”. As I stated earlier: When is big business going to link their profitability with income sufficiency from the masses who make up their marketing base? Duh……….

        When one is still working, especially if one is employed in a highly compensated career, it is easy to ignore the warning signs. As someone who is retired, the view is a little less rosy. If you are working harder but for less net income while trying to meet expanding needs within your family, you’re screwed. I don’t back off one iota on what I said about America’s economy – Lifer and Ryan. I think America is in for a bad spell. Only time will tell. Here’s hoping I am wrong.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Far be it for me to wax on emotional sentimentality and boundless optimism, but I’m of the childish belief that America is a rising road and that everything is going to be alright.

        Whether it was the Civil War that nearly cleaved this nation in two, the Great Depression that sent America spiraling into the economic doldrums, the World Wars that threatened our very existence and our way of life or whatever else, this country has always bounced back and stood for the belief that if we don’t give up and don’t give in, then we will open a path forward to a better and brighter future.

        And we know what it is we have to do to walk that road. It isn’t some profound mystery or anything like that. The only difference now is every jerk, political pundit and all-around a**hole on the internet is regrettably entitled to an opinion and make it seem like the world is on fire all around us.

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For all our woes and all the unfinished business that we’ll see through, this is a generation with possibilities greater than any we’ve ever seen before. It’s a privilege to be alive right now and step-by-step, I think the end result will be a country and a world that we can look back on with a smile and with pride.

      • 1mime says:

        Beautifully stated, Ryan. I believe you and Pres. Obama said pretty much the same thing in his SOTU address last night. As one ages, it’s more difficult to filter out the unpleasant while still being grateful for all that is positive. That “half-full” glass is much tastier (-:

    • Stephen says:

      @ Ryan, Another initiative people are trying in Florida to get on the ballot is open primaries. With the two most vote getters even if from the same party running in the general election if no one wins a majority. California is already doing this I believe. This should tamp down the nut factor in our politics. To win even in the primary you would have to appeal to a much wider audience.

      The league of Women Voters were the main factor getting our anti-gerrymandering amendment passed and then going to court to force it’s enforcement after state legislators tried to evade the law. Here Lifer is one institution still strong and functioning well.

      • 1mime says:

        “Girls” do great jobs….LWV, take a bow!

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        That’s an interesting idea, but it’s an unfortunate reality that the number of people who vote in primaries are always significantly smaller than those who vote in actual elections. I don’t see how that changes, even if every primary in this country were open; and in addition to that, we run the risk of far-right and far-left voters and organizations going out of their way to try and disrupt primaries out of pure partisan spite.

        In order to realize this idea’s full potential, I feel it has to be coupled with a requirement to vote and online voting so that candidates go into their primaries with the recognition that they are absolutely trying to appeal to all their constituents and not just a small sliver of the electorate. Until we can get such a guarantee, the possibility for partisan corruption and the like is still much too high.

  6. MassDem says:

    OT, but I don’t care.
    Rolling Stones compilation of some of David Bowie’s greatest songs. So many memories!

    An amazing collection of duets on HuffPost.

    Thank you, David Bowie.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I’ve never been a David Bowie fan but I would much rather see him on the cover of Rolling Stone than El Chapo.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      IMO, MassDem, Bowie produced some compelling music and ear worms. ‘Fame’ has an incredible guitar lick (does it have a resonator on it? or is it some percussion instrument that I just think is a metal-topped guitar?) that just keeps on giving.

      And the Canadian astronaut’s cover of ‘Space Oddity’, delivered from the station, thrills me every time i watch the video.

      I didn’t exactly get Bowie when he entered the scene. But as I’ve aged, I’ve come to admire how he pursued his creative interests.

  7. MassDem says:

    So, Bevin is going ahead with dismantling Kynect & moving everybody onto the federal exchange by the end of the year.

    The comments are pretty funny for this one–most people have pointed out the irony in the anti-federal government guy ceding state control to the federal government.

  8. “America’s only truly dangerous foreign policy challenge – which no candidate will talk about – what happens to the world when China’s economy craters?”

    That ain’t the half of it. What’s gonna happen when 66 million strapping Chinese guys figure out they aren’t going to get laid, *ever*?

    21% of Chinese men unmarried by age 50 by 2070? That’s a lot of pent up frustration. 😉

    • 1mime says:

      Celibacy doesn’t work well.

    • Doug says:

      I’m not worried. I have my 401k invested in Chinese prostitute futures.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      I invested in something called “flashlights”?

      • Doug says:

        I got a free sample with the prospectus. Got arrested trying to get it to light up while out looking for the cat.

        You may want to pull out of that investment.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Doug – Yes, I doubt the quality of the company. The translation of the manual to English was a mess. Funny as heck, Although they did have a unique way of holding the flashlight, you know when you need two hands to fix something in the dark.

      • 1mime says:

        Two-handed grip: Not a problem if you’re used to holding a firearm, Unarmed (-:

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Doug is not from China, but he came as fast as he could.

    • johngalt says:

      Yeah, Tracy, that is a problem. No society has ever come out well with a lot of underemployed and unmarriagable males. Perhaps there will be a Himalayan war between the excess Chinese and excess Indian males.

    • MassDem says:

      Back in the mid-90s, when my son was a baby, I knew many families who had adopted an abandoned baby girl from China. How shortsighted of that country, to dispose of their girls by sending them overseas.

    • flypusher says:

      “That ain’t the half of it. What’s gonna happen when 66 million strapping Chinese guys figure out they aren’t going to get laid, *ever*?”

      Saltpeter in the water supply? But seriously, that’s what you can get when you devalue women. Too many people saying “I insist on having sons, and somebody else will have the daughters for them to marry.”

  9. 1mime says:

    Today’s Gallup poll announcement is interesting:

    “PRINCETON, N.J. — Americans’ political ideology remained essentially stable in the past year, with conservatives retaining the barest of advantages over moderates in Americans’ self-identified political views, 37% vs. 35%. Liberals held firm at 24%.”

    It is interesting because the middle group of those who see themselves as “moderates” must be doing some real soul-searching in this election. Obviously, both parties are going to go after that huge center and that is where the 2016 election will turn.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      No, it won’t. If either Trump or Cruz is the Republican nominee, they will lose Hispanics and other minority groups by a whopping margin and that’s the election right there. Game over.

      Secondly, as for that supposed “huge center,” I find that a bit hard to believe. Isn’t it more likely that a majority are just people fed up with the political process and being tied to either political party? Just because they call themselves Independents doesn’t mean that their ideological inclinations have changed. We shouldn’t mistake the forest for the trees.

      • 1mime says:

        And, if this “middle” is so fed up, do you really think they’ll turn out to vote?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        I’ve heard pundits and commentators on other forum boards talk about how those people are so fed up that Trump will turn their frustration and anger into votes and I also hear people like you talk about how they’re so fed up that perhaps they’ll simply give into despair and not vote at all.

        I’m not about to try and predict the future on what an entire voting bloc of people may or may not do. As it so often is, the truth may likely turn out to be a mix of both, but I don’t believe there’s going to be some mass defection that will turn everyone’s heads.

      • 1mime says:

        The truth is, nobody knows. We’re all speculating, tossing ideas out there. I think it is highly likely Cruz will be the nominee; you think he won’t. Both of us follow the political scene pretty closely and we may both be wrong. I guess that’s what makes politics so fascinating, right?

        I always enjoy your comments, Ryan. You are wise beyond your years.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Thank you for your kind words, though I’ll say that I don’t dismiss Cruz’s chances at being the nominee, not at all. He’s an incredibly calculating and intelligent individual, deplorable though he may be from a moral POV, and he has a very real chance at being the Republican nominee.

        We’ll have a much better idea of the political landscape in the Republican primary in just a few short weeks. In the short-term, I foresee two scenarios:

        The first is the worst-case scenario for the Republican establishment and Trump manages to eke out a win in Iowa over Cruz and then goes on to win solid margins in New Hampshire and South Carolina, states which I would bet money on Trump winning anyways right now. If that happens, Trumpmentum sweeps the Republican primary; he’ll rack up YUUUUUGE wins on Super Tuesday, at which point the Republican establishment collectively freaks the f*** out.

        Jeb! and Rubio may yet hang on even in such a hopeless situation, but they’ll drop out once Trump lays his gold encrusted boot down on their proverbial throats in Florida. After that, sit back and watch the chaos unfold in Cleveland.

        The second scenario is Cruz’s path to victory, which requires that he absolutely MUST win in Iowa. He has to dampen Trump’s momentum there. After that, it’s a fight between these two and no one goes into Cleveland with a majority of delegates, but if Cruz can go in with at least a plurality, then my best guess is that he has the leverage he needs to eventually clinch the nomination. It’s a fine line to walk, but if there’s anyone who could pull it off, it would be Ted Cruz.

        Technically, there is one other scenario that could play out, and that’s that all the other sizable establishment candidates fall out and rally their supporters together behind a candidate like Rubio or Jeb!

        Problem with this scenario is that it requires one of my fellow Floridians to drop out – something which I don’t see happening before the Florida primary – and give their still sizable support to the other. This needs to happen because even if ALL the other establishment candidates were to drop out – an unlikely scenario – their support is minimal enough that it still wouldn’t be enough to overtake Trump and Cruz, even all pooled together. Plus, there’s always Carson. If he drops out, care to take a whack at where the bulk of his supporters will go to?

        Essentially, the establishment’s only real hope is for either Rubio or Jeb! to fall on their own sword for the sake of the party. I won’t completely discount that possibility, but I sure ain’t betting money on it either.

  10. MassDem says:

    Revenge is a dish best served cold, but schadenfreude tastes good at any temperature!

    • 1mime says:

      Yes, Trump’s big mouth can cause unintended consequences. If Trump’s brand is sinking (costing him millions) simultaneous to financial losses we’re witnessing in the the broader economy, his losses could be even greater. Great enough to convince him to quit? I doubt it. He’s still having too much fun. And, besides, only Trump decides…..As for his kids’ fortunes being diminished with the Trump brand, they’ll just have to learn to live on millions instead of billions. Somehow I doubt he’s too worried about their inheritance. It’s really all about him.

      What is more interesting is where the wealthier, more educated Republican voter will land. Frankly, it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy for the problems Republicans are experiencing with Trump’s candidacy. I keep going back to the low income White voter Republicans have courted – Ryan has a point when he suggests that Dems need to carve out a voter segment from the GOP that shares more identity with the progressive platform. Let the Republicans have all these other people who vote Republican while admitting they are getting nothing in return. Such fickleness is really a waste of time and valuable resources. Just let them go and focus on attracting the more rational voter.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Makes sense. Trumps appeal to low brow, low class politics is repellent to the type of consumer hjs brand is supposed to attract.

      It’d be like if Apple started making cheap plastic iphones that cost $50

  11. 1mime says:

    Friedrichs is a very important case, one about which I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I don’t agree with compelling a worker to contribute to a union unless it is their choice; on the other hand, those who do contribute are paving the way for all in their group, thus benefiting even those who do not contribute. This will have a huge impact on party politics and elections, especially for the Democratic Party. Cynically, I am sure the timing of this appeal is to take advantage of the majority conservative membership of SCOTUS. It only takes five members to overturn the 1977 Abood ruling and they may just have the votes this time.

    More and more SCOTUS is becoming a legislative body, which I think is the real danger. Far better to resolve these issues through bi-partisan effort through the regular legislative process. Lacking that, it becomes a usurpation of the legislative process and an end run around. I don’t agree with SCOTUS functioning as a backstop to either party’s political goals. What appears to be happening is that our state and federal supreme courts have been effectively co-opted to make rulings which dictate law and circumvent a deadlocked Congress. It’s one thing for case law to naturally progress; it’s quite another to “use” the judicial process for the express purpose of making new law.

    • Creigh says:

      This ruling (if it comes down as expected) along with Abood, seems hard to square with ruling that conscientious objectors are not excused from paying taxes for military purposes with which they do not agree. It seems to me that the idea of free speech has been extended by the Court to activities that go beyond what the First Amendment anticipated. If by speech the founders meant “expressing an opinion generally,” then why did they separately mention freedom of the press? As with conscientious objectors taxes, so with political contributions and union dues. Money is not speech.

      • 1mime says:

        “Money is not speech”….Didn’t that issue get overturned with Citizens United, Creigh?

      • Creigh says:

        Citizens United equated spending money on political advertisements with speech.

      • 1mime says:

        I know that but the key common element was that “speech” became entangled with money. Those who are dissenting from mandatory union fees allege that all of the unions’ activities are political, even when they are addressing work conditions. It’s more complicated than most realize.

      • Creigh, are you suggesting that compulsory union membership has the same weight as the force of law? Now, that’s an interesting concept…;-)

      • Creigh says:

        No, I’m arguing that the relevant principle is that in a democratic situation, you sometimes have to acquiesce to something distasteful to you, particularly if the acquiescence is in the form of money. I see an equivalence between a conscientious objector being forced to support the military with taxes, and a union member (or a person who is employed at a union shop) being forced to support political activities they may not agree with by paying compulsory fees. In both cases, the person involved has a vote, but not a veto.

      • Ah, so you are arguing that union dues and federal taxes are equivalent. Got it. ‘Nuf said.

      • Creigh says:

        Actually, I should shut up about the idea that paying taxes for things I don’t approve of might be a violation of my freedom of expressions rights. Wouldn’t want to give R’s and the SC ideas…

    • MassDem says:

      This ruling would apply to all public unions, including police and fire who often lean Republican. Wonder how that will shake out. I don’t see how they could be exempted this time around.

    • So, uh, 1mime, I’m having trouble understanding your mixed feelings. I pretty much thought the left was entirely OK with the notion that compulsion is just fine and dandy, so long as the compulsory behavior is “beneficial” to the target of compulsion. Did I miss something?

      “It may not be nice to be good, little 6655321. It may be horrible to be good. And when I say that to you I realize how self-contradictory that sounds. I know I shall have many sleepless nights about this. What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him? Deep and hard questions, little 6655321.” – Anthony Burgess, “A Clockwork Orange”

      • 1mime says:

        I think I spoke clearly on Friedrichs. If you don’t understand, sorreeee….Life is not black or white, my friend. All sorts of nuances out there. I have no problem with law and order as long as it is fair. Have all the fun you want with that statement. I happen to believe that unions have a purpose, it is simply changing over time. Worker rights are important, and so are individual rights. It can be complicated. I would expect you to understand that.

      • 1mime, my prior comment/question was at least partly tongue-in-cheek. Kind of. By now I’m sure your realize that I’m not a big fan or compulsion or coercion in any guise. I’ll grudgingly put up with it in the form of government, but only to the extent that said government is absolutely necessary (with no other alternative), and no further. To suggest that union membership in a free society should be anything other than completely voluntary is borderline evil. Life may not be black or white, but compulsory union membership is farther down the dark and ugly totalitarian end of of the spectrum than I care to tread. The ends do not justify the means.

      • 1mime says:

        And, I already stated that I believe one should not be forced to contribute. The “rub” comes because those who are contributing are paying the tab for the lawyers and negotiation process that non-paying persons do not. I’m not sure what the proper solution is to this conundrum but it probably won’t matter. Everything I’ve found on the net indicates the public sector union agency fees are going bye bye.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Tracy – I appreciate your view on coercion. But, how do we implement the democratic process? Where a vote is taken and the majority decides? And should we enforce the decision on the minority?

      • johngalt says:

        And what to do with the free rider problem? One cannot help but suspect that Ms. Friedrichs wants the benefits of union membership (the set contract and work rules) without contributing anything to the structure that negotiates those.

      • “…But, how do we implement the democratic process? Where a vote is taken and the majority decides? And should we enforce the decision on the minority?”

        Unarmed, we implement democracy more or less as we have. We cede to government the legitimate application of force (i.e., coercion, compulsion), and then we apply that force as sparingly as possible (if we are wise). Under normal order it takes a super-majority to get any law passed in this country. We apply this methodology only to the passage of laws, which are by definition backed by the threat of force. (Witness the ongoing turmoil over Obamacare for an example in point of what happens when we deviate from this process.) When it comes to *anything* else, we are pretty much limited to action by voluntary associations of like-minded people. And after all, isn’t that what a union is supposed to be in the first place?

        The free rider problem is real, but ultimately of little impact. We are social creatures, after all. We manage to get by with all-volunteer armed forces, for goodness’ sake. Can we not apply the same logic to unions?

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Tracy – You make excellent points and I agree(for the most part). My viewpoint may be different than yours and I may envision a slightly different result, but I think your points are valid.

        A contentious relationship between management and labor can’t be as pleasant or productive as, say, consensus building.

        Of course in the natural way of things, that would be managements duty to produce that consensus, or at least provide the structure for agreement? And a failing on their part if there is always a contentious climate?

        And as Creigh says, “Lifer, a problem with your approach is defining political activity. Per Scalia’s line of questioning, everything a collective bargaining organization does is political activity”

        So, if we did disallow political spending from unions, possibly the Republican/Conservative/Rightwing animosity towards unions would dissipate. My feeling is, that the right’s attack on unions is at least partly because they usually support Democrats with money. However I am not sure what money means in the new political scene. Beyond a certain amount, it may be counter productive. After all the money spent by the NRA, and other rightwing PACs, huge amounts that produced little to nothing in the last election. Plus the fact that Bernie is raising quite enough money without PACS or large donations.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s a question for you: What is the difference between union political activity to support workers and PAKs who use political activity to support politicians? (and typically can do so anonymously?)

      • 1mime, the chief difference between unions and PACs is the PAC contributions are entirely voluntary.

        Creigh, you are right on the chile regarding the source of GOP animosity towards unions. Of course, barring unions from political activity would be an egregious 1A violation. Making union membership entirely voluntary is by far preferable, IMHO.

      • 1mime says:

        I was sloppy in my wording, Tracy. I was referring to those PACs which claim non-profit status and are involved up to their eyeballs in politics. I understand the voluntary vs involuntary differences, I was speaking more to the hypocrisy factor. Poor wording on my part.

      • Sorry, last directed to unarmed, not Creigh.

    • johngalt says:

      I think Ms. Friedrich should be allowed to withhold her contributions to the union. She would, of course, not be covered by the standard union-negotiated contract but would be welcome to deal with the school district on her own. Any takers on whether she’d do better on her own?

      • MassDem says:

        She might in the beginning be given some financial incentive to lure others away form the union. Then once the union is sufficiently weakened, the district can take whatever they want away from their employees.

      • johngalt says:

        Perhaps, but I doubt it. Good teachers unhappy with a district that takes “whatever they want away” can get jobs in other districts. Bad teachers can’t, and so the district and its administrators would spiral down the tubes.

      • goplifer says:

        ***I think Ms. Friedrich should be allowed to withhold her contributions to the union.***

        Or, go to the heart of the problem and fix it. The problem is not that she is being compelled to contribute to a union. The problem is that she is being compelled, by the state, into partisan political activism. So fix the problem. No organization whose members are compelled by state law to contribute to it, can engage in partisan political activity.

        It will solve the fundamental problem with public employee unions. It will still preserve those institutions as a less-powerful, yet still relevant means of aggregating the needs of public employees.

        Even FDR recognized this problem with public unions – their unusual negotiating posture and leverage. They end up becoming another branch of government, unaccountable by any democratic processes, and in some cases the most powerful branch.

        From that notorious union-buster and enemy of the middle class, FDR:

        “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

      • Creigh says:

        “If Friedrich goes as expected, I’ll refuse to join the office Lotto pool and then demand a share of the winnings.”

      • Creigh says:

        Lifer, a problem with your approach is defining political activity. Per Scalia’s line of questioning, everything a collective bargaining organization does is political activity.

        Also, I don’t understand FDR’s point. He says “the nature and purpose of Government makes it impossible for admin officials to represent fully or bind the employer” They sign a contract, dont they? And “admin officials and employees are…restricted by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.” Isn’t everybody so restricted?

      • 1mime says:

        If big business and management, generally, didn’t have such a poor track record on worker rights, there would be NO need for unions. Lifer can say what he likes but there are egregious abuses of working conditions and all sorts of related issues (wages, benefits, workmen’s comp, etc etc) which are compelling reasons – not excuses – for collective bargaining. The vehicle has been the union – which purpose has changed over time. I really don’t agree with making anyone belong to a union but I also believe that those in control have and will continue to take advantage of their workers. It’s a sad part of our capitalistic system.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t think the union can carve out special conditions for their membership. Like it or not, management wants one set of rules for all. Lifer must be doing handstands, workers are fearful as is the Democratic leadership. Each party has its constituency, but unions have stepped up financially and with their votes. They will doubtless continue to vote blue, but their diminished dues will impact their viability to compete.

        AFter reading the NYT piece written by Steve Israel about how challenging it is to compete against the big money Republicans can throw at a moment’s notice, I worry even more about the deadly affect excessive money is having on political outcomes. Are we back to “buying” offices? Is this what one does to win if the nation is shifting left and minorities are becoming our majority? The “common” man has never been more vulnerable.

        I had an interesting conversation last night with a smart man (50 ish) who is Mormon and Republican. (How unusual….) He told me he is supporting Cruz. I asked why and he said because since he has been elected in TX to the U.S. Senate, he has done exactly what he said he was going to do. When I replied that that could be said of many dictators, he said that he wanted someone in office who would stand up and be unafraid to challenge the status quo. Whereupon I asked if he also considered Cruz’ beliefs and agreed with them as well as the recklessness he employed in his “principled” stands. He did! This man has a PhD and is middle class and he is engaged and informed. We see the world differently.

      • johngalt says:

        This is, of course, nonsense. Public sector employees are no different than private sector ones. The public sector relationship has ended up with relatively low pay (at least for anything modestly skilled) in exchange for generous future benefits. This suits the politicians of today who don’t have to pay for this before their next election. This is exactly the same place that the UAW and GM ended up – generous future benefits that will screw up the bottom line of some future CEO. Stricter accounting measures to ensure that governments and companies properly cost out future benefits accrued today would be a far better solution than restricting free speech rights of employee groups. If you think that unions overcharge those who opt out of the political arm (e.g., they are illegally subsidizing political activities with dues meant for collective bargaining), then audit them.

      • MassDem says:

        Seriously Lifer?

        Here is a different Atlantic link that explains the issues in a little more detail (although this information can also be found in the link you posted):

        Public-sector unions are required to represent ALL employees, whether they are members of the union or not. The fees in question in Friedrichs are those that are paid by non-union employees to cover the cost of such representation. Unions are currently prohibited from using this money for political activities. The “ideological speech” in this case is in regards to contract negotiation, unfair termination, etc.

        This is so much BS. As is pointed out in the article above,

        “As new workers enter the workforce, though, many will make a cold judgment: Why should I pay the union to do something for me it’s obligated to do anyway? Alito’s opinion in Harris suggested that if unions are so all-fired great, employees will pay without being required to; Kagan tartly asked, “Does the majority think that public employees are immune from basic principles of economics?” If those laws apply, union membership will drop.”

      • Well, 1mime, I’m just a dumb geologist, and nobody would accuse me of being well informed, but given the alternatives, I’ll likely end up in the Cruz camp, too. For that matter, if it comes down to a Trump-Clinton or Trump-Sanders contest, I’ll be running to the polls, not walking, to vote for Trump. (God help me.) Heck, if it comes down to a 3-legged-dog vs. Clinton… then again, maybe the 3-legged-dog would be better than Trump. Hmmm. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        I am not surprised, Tracy. About anything you said. Cheers.

  12. flypusher says:

    I claim no expertise in economics, but it was obvious even to someone like me that these expectations of so much sustained growth just weren’t realistic.

    I thought the same thing about real estate back in the mid 2000’s. I’m not claiming brilliant thinking, just observation of the glaringly obvious. I remember Nightline doing a series (Realty Check) about that and a story about people buying and flipping Miami condos BEFORE the things were even built! My thought was “that’s insane”. Fast forward to after the bubble bursts, and there’s a story of a woman who has one of these condos (it’s built) and she’s badly underwater and desperately looking for any loophole to get out of her contract (the master bath is a half inch shorter in length than specified in the blueprints). Some People really need some expectation adjustments.

    • flypusher says:

      That’s in reference to the Chinese ecomony link, just in case there’s confusion.

      Ragarding Cruz, he’s a slimy pandering mofo, but he’s not stupid. Also no shock about Carson, as the people who believe in Hell are his base. It’s a bizarre spectacle to see the various Christian voting blocs swap between praising a candidate’s faith and viciously critiquing the various practices of his specific sect without skipping any beats.

      • Tuttabella says:

        I predicted a while back here that the Donald’s Downfall would take place when he arrogantly took full credit for his success in life, instead of thanking God, or when he admitted that he was not anti-abortion after all. Those are the only faux pas I can think of that would turn off his supporters.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even then, I don’t think any of us will win that $7 gift card for Lifer’s book, since Trump would have to go below 3 or 4 percent on a particular poll indicated by Lifer in order for his campaign to be considered “collapsed,” and I don’t see that happening, ever. Trump could drop out of the Republican race and still have a respectable percentage score thanks to diehards who refuse to give up on him. Even Rick Perry was at about 3 or 4 percent when he made the B team on the first debate on Fox.

      • flypusher says:

        I got myself a hard copy of the book in my last Amazin order. But I’m intersted to see who wins or comes closest.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Gee, and I was so looking forward to the collapse of Mr. Trump’s campaign so I could get that free book. 🙂

    • Creigh says:

      A recent story in New Yorker about rising seawater in Miami Beach gives a new meaning to ‘underwater.’

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