The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    Puppy Training for Politicians. Or, How we got RTW in Michigan


    So it has happened.  Remember the other day when I wrote that Michigan had become a Right-to-Work state? It's not that I'm prescient or anything, announcing a done deal on Saturday when it didn't actually become law until yesterday (Tuesday), when Govnerd Ricky signed the two "Hasta la Vista, Union" bills hustled through the Republican-led legislature in a dazzling demonstration of warp speed.  No, it's just that I've come to know those guys.  No amount of talking, cajoling, coercing or begging was going to change the course of that bloody action, no matter what. Not from us, anyway.

    Know why?  Because it wasn't them, it was them:

    The ubiquitous Koch brothers, heirs-apparent to the throne once America says "Okay, OKAY! I give up!"

      Nobody wants to believe the obvious--that these two rather dorky brothers are up to their eyeballs in evil wherever it lurks these days--but there it is.  If money really talks, when it belongs to the Brothers Koch it says, "Stick'em up and don't turn around.  I've got a friggin' humungous bunch of greenbacks and I know how to use them!"

    Evidence abounds that those cunning Kochs look on American unions as icky Red maggots and have finally figured out a way to bust the guts out of them.  They do it by joining up with other gajillionaires (like, for instance, Dick deVos, notorious Michigan hoi polloi hater), by funding Tea Party think tanks such as Michigan's own Mackinac Center for (cough, cough, privatizing) Public Policy, and by buying legislators, congresspeople, and even governors from the Republicans.

    It's a marvel to watch.  If I weren't always on edge, scouting out good locations to run to for my life, I might be standing there in awe, pondering how, in a matter of mere months, two seemingly puny persons came out of nowhere to become our first and only potentates. (Eat your hearts out, Grover and Newt.  It is what it is. And it is money.)

    But enough about them.  Or not.  How about that ALEC? (The American Legislative Exchange (cough, cough, exchange for what?) Council)  From the Center for Media and Democracy's special report on ALEC's funding and spending:

    Almost 98% of ALEC's funding comes from corporations like Exxon Mobil, corporate "foundations" like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, or trade associations like the pharmaceutical industry's PhRMA and sources other than "legislative dues." Those funds help subsidize legislators' trips to ALEC meetings, where they are wined, dined, and handed "model" legislation to make law in their state. Through ALEC, corporations vote on "model" legislation with politicians behind closed doors.

     Sometimes what goes on behind closed doors gets out there in what we still laughingly call the "public."  It turns out the wording of those hallowed right-to-work bills bringing so much entertainment to Michigan Republican lawmakers were word-for-word the creations of the Koch-fueled ALEC bunch.


    Both HB 4003, which affects public sector unions, and HB 4054 / SB 116 affecting private sector unions, undermine collective bargaining by allowing workers to opt-out of paying the costs of union representation. As the Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves reported today, the move is calculated political payback attacking unions for supporting Democrats. Wages are lower for both union and non-union workers in Right to Work states, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
    The legislation is straight out of the Koch-funded ALEC playbook. Compare the language in HB 4003 and HB 4054 with the ALEC "model" Right to Work Act:

    Stunning, isn't it?  But--are you still with me?--here comes the fun part.  A 2010 article from The Mackinac Center's news service, CAPCON, called "Politician Puppy Training, What the Tea Parties can Learn from the Dogs" has surfaced.  I'm not kidding.  And neither are they.  I thought they were. I thought they were making a funny, Onion-style.  But, no.


    Almost everyone loves puppies, at least until they start making messes on the carpet.  With every puppy comes the responsibility of training it to become “man's best friend.” The same can be said about legislators.  While they are, of course, not dogs, they do need to be trained in order to be turned in to a voter's best friend. While most go to Lansing or Washington to do the right thing, many will end up making messes that result in less liberty.

    Training legislators, as with training puppies, must be done with care and common sense. An external system of rewards and punishments is used to guide the puppy toward doing the right thing.
    There’s a lesson in this for tea party groups who seek to communicate their concerns to politicians. You don’t need to explain the principles or speak their language to get your point across. Indeed, this is often the last thing that will work. 

    But, wait. . .

    Like the trained puppy, your lawmakers will follow the training that has been driven into them beforehand. Trying to teach these at the last minute is ineffective.  Representative democracy, like puppy training, means you teach the big idea well in advance and then trust the politician or the puppy to do the right thing with the specific details when the big moment arrives.

    Counter-intuitively, this means that you can often make the biggest difference well after the vote is over. Afterward, you can find out what your lawmaker knew at the time, and judge whether they made the right decision or not. If they barked smartly and did their business outside where it belongs, a tea party group can send a big important message by effusively praising them for it. But if they chewed your slippers, they should face swift consequences.
    With this past experience in mind, a politician will learn what is expected of them the NEXT time an important vote comes up. Whether the issue is taxes, spending, regulations or what not, a message has been sent to the politician regarding the type of conduct is acceptable – and what is not. Either way, they learn that praise or punishment from a tea party is a real consequence of their future actions.
    ...We try and give you the information that the politician had at the time of the vote, so you can make a fair decision about whether that vote reflected the metaphorical distinction between your puppy going on the rug or barking at the door.

    And that’s when it is most effective for you to decide whether to scratch behind their ears or smack them on the nose. Either way, they’ll remember the next time.

    There's more, and, as wildly hilarious as this is, remember, this wild primer on housebreaking is a legitimate plan. There are lessons to be learned here, and if we don't pay attention, we'll go on losing until all is lost 

    In a chilling article in New York Magazine called "In Michigan, the Republican Will to Power", Jonathan Chait writes: 

    Last year, the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing activist group, explained, “We fight these battles on taxes and regulation but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.” Republicans understand full well that Michigan leans Democratic, and the GOP has total power at the moment, so its best use of that power is to crush one of the largest bastions of support for the opposing party.

    In the coming days we need to keep talking about the impact right-to-work has on our nation's workers. We need to stress the need for the strong organized workplace oversight only labor unions can provide.

    We need to explain and offset the thundering opposition to a prosperous working class.  We need to expose the lies.  Our voices will be drowned out by those who have a vested interest in keeping the RTW momentum going, but we're not puppies and they're not our trainers.  They'll have no real power over us unless we give it to them by lying down and rolling over.

    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)



    For the most part, the way citizens smack politicians on the nose with the rolled up newspaper is by voting them out - either in the primary or the general election.  I don't know much about the politics of Michigan, but when I looked at just the state representatives, the numbers indicate Republicans currently control 70% of the seats outside of Wayne County.

    This says to me, once gets beyond Detroit, the Democratic message is not reaching the voters of most of the state. 

    RTW is not popular in the state from the polls I've seen, so maybe in 2014, when it appears the Governorship, all of the Senate seats, and the House are up for re-election, there is a chance to roll things back.  But for some reason, up til now the Republicans have found a way to resonate with the Michigan voters that the Democrats haven't. 

    I don't know if the Dems have been blamed in the state for the continued economic woes, and just voted in their opposition, which happened to be Republicans.  But it may be that if the Dems are going to wrest control in at least one of the three in 2014, they may need to understand what it was that motivated the Michigan voters to give all the control to the Republicans in the first place. 

    Jobs, jobs, jobs.

    There's your motivation.

    Jobs, jobs, jobs.

    That promise is what drove the Independents to vote in Republican majorities. So apparently how one gets voted into office is to lie. People love being lied to.

    Okay, if we accept the jaded view that people love being lied to, then that is the nature of the game. So - the Democrats, the left, and labor need to start figuring out how to better lie to the public, and thus giving them what they love. 

    Well, Trope, it seems the Democrats got out-spent and out-snookered.  Did you read any of the links?  This is a HUGE effort by the Right Wing to kill the unions.  HUGE.  The way to do that is to convince voters that the unions and the Democrats are bad for them.  Never mind that all evidence points to just the opposite.

     From Harold Meyerson at the Washington PostIt's about keeping jobs low wage and it's about money and power.  It's not about the failures of the Democrats or the unions.

    I understand what the motivations about the RTW movement is about, and the extent of their effort. But if it is about just a bunch of money and a willingness to lie through ones teeth, then Romney would have beat Obama in the last election.  My point is that it is up to the Democrats to explain why they are good for the voters and obviously this hasn't been successful in a significant way. 

    While there are a number of low information voters, who are very easily led in whatever direction with a 15 second commercial bombardment, the believe most voters have a pretty good idea of what they're getting when they pull the lever for a candidate with an R next to their name. 

    And while the Koch brothers, and other big money interests, have a significant influence on our election process, I believe that too often their money is used as a way to avoid looking at the failing on the other side of the battle.

    Just maybe there needs to be a re-working of the rhetoric coming from the left and labor to counter the conservatives.  Because obviously just having the evidence is not enough with a good portion of the voters. 

    Believing those on the left didn't fail at some level (which is different than saying all of the blame belongs to those on the left) in the game of persuasion is a formula for continued failure. 

    Your governor is just a lying scumbag.

    I watched him this AM on Jughead.

    What a lying sack of...

    But I still think that the union movement must reassess its position!

    The safety of the workers is at issue.

    The safety of the workers' pension plans is at issue.

    Discrimination in the work place is at issue.

    Whistle-blowing is at issue; which affects the public at large.

    Drug testing is at issue.

    A thousand and one weapons are now available to the employer.


    Here's the video linked in the Salon article noted in Ramona's piece. I thought it deserved its own special nod.

    How can a citizen win a fair political fight against people like this?

    let me begin by saying that I am personally against RTW legislation. but what does this video show that is so insidious?  the poll indicates that statewide it is pretty even split between those who support and those who oppose RTW.  so it is going to true that there are areas of Michigan outside greater Detroit that are going to be pro-RTW amongst the People.

    Isn't that Democracy? 

    Let's face it, the Koch Brothers didn't create hostility to unions and organized labor.  They just came in and built upon a hostility and at best ambivalence toward unions that exist even among many self-proclaimed liberals. 

    And in a democracy, if one wants to push one's agenda through, one waits for the right time to act, when the stars are aligned with the right decision makers are in place to push it through.

    For instance, as soon as the polls showed nationally that people supported gay marriage by something like 53% to 46%, liberals were calling for a time to act on a policy front.  Yet if RTW forces show a similar poll to justify pushing their agenda through, well...

    What leads you to believe that anything that man is saying in the clip is true?  A poll of 1200 people can be hand-picked or simply non-existent.  Twelve thousand people at the steps of the capitol building in Lansing might be construed by some as an even bigger poll.  Add to that, the many thousands who couldn't be there but were there in spirit.

    Where are the polls that say most people in Michigan want it to be a RTW state?  From what I've read, that's not true.

    This vote was not the people's choice. It was rammed through by a lame duck legislature because they knew there was a chance they wouldn't get in January.

    In Michigan this issue goes beyond what might be considered to be fair in other states.  The Republicans here--those "small government" Republicans--have done a good job of taking over the entire state, all thanks to the Koch Brothers, ALEC, The Mackinac Center, and who knows who else?  This is not just state leaders doing the will of the people, and we can't treat it like that if we ever want to get out from under them.

    To the Right Wing this is a coup like almost no other, and one they've been working on for many years.  They managed to make the state that was the historic leader of the labor movement buckle under and join the ranks of the pathetic low-wage, no-rights states that have always been so easy for private interests to manipulate.  That's why this is such a big deal. 

    Educating the outstaters would be a start, but their inherent mistrust of anything Detroit hampers that effort.  They don't trust government, either, but the Republicans have done a masterful job of hiding the fact that they are the government.

    And then there's this.  It's only the beginning if we can't figure out a way to get this control away from them.   


    In March, Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group released the most recent polling result on right-to-work in Michigan. The survey, commissioned by Inside Michigan Politics, showed that 58 percent of likely voters support right-to-work. Opposition among Michigan voters participating in the survey was at 37 percent.

    More than half of likely voters would support a right-to-work law in Michigan, according to a poll released on the eve of Labor Day weekend.

    The Grand Rapids Press commissioned the poll...In the poll of 300 voters, conducted this week, 51 percent said they supported this question: Should Michigan pass a right-to-work law that means employees cannot be forced to join a labor union?

    This is not to say that there isn't strong opposition to RTW in the state.  And yes it is a big deal for the reasons you stated. 

    But if unions and the labor movement is going to make progress, it has to recognize that anti-union sentiments are very real among the common people.  As a said, the Koch Brothers and their ilk did not create this sentiment out of thin air.  It was there before they arrived on the scene.

    I know too many people who are otherwise very liberal in their views, who have ambivalent feelings about unions at best.  And the struggle against RTW legislation faces the huge hurdle that it is easy to make the mandatory union fees seem like an act of coercion. (Howard Dean on Morning Joe yesterday made an excellent response to this view). 

    In other words, if one really wants to educate the people, one can't come at this issue as if it is simply some big wigs who want to destroy unions so the can make more gazzillion dollars. 


    Anti-union sentiment has been there since day one. The Koch boys exacerbated it. They didn't have to. But, they did. On purpose. To advance their own ideology. They brainwashed educated the low information section of the working class to embrace the phrase "right to work" which sounds so gosh darn AMERICAN.

    "I'm an American! I have the right to work! Go, me!" Like everyone else doesn't have the right to work.

    So, what you're saying is, the brainwashed must be re-brainwashed in order to turn the sentiment around. Okay, I can dig that. A break has to be made between them and the big wigs though. And how do you propose doing that without pointing a finger at the Koch boys and getting the information out there that they played the people like a kazoo?

    Let the reeducation begin.

    This is going to be a dirty fight because no one likes to give up power. That's the real.

    When one is attempting to persuade someone to embrace their ideology it is considered education, and when one's opponent does it it is referred to as brainwashing.  I would posit that telling someone that they're brainwashed is not a very effective method of persuasion.  And even if they are all just low information dupes, one can't frame one's stance around that. 

    Railing against the likes of Koch is like the Republicans railing against the unions support for Democrats for the reason they lost.  Pointing out the role of big money players like Koch is necessary, but, like union support of Democratic candidates, it is not the reason one lost.

    One lost because one has lost the political messaging battle.  For progressives and labor activists, 99 out of 100 times the other side is going to have more money, and usually a lot more money when the stakes are high and the payoff big - like in Michigan. 

    So whether one calls it education, re-education, brainwashing, propaganda, or marketing, the quest is to find a message that can reach and resonate with the "low information dupes."

    The environmental activist Hazel Wolff put it best - "if you want to persuade an economist, you need to talk like an economist."  She was referring to at the time how enviromentalists tended to talk about saving the environment in emotional and spiritual terms, rather than in economics terms.  As long as they did, they weren't going to reach the economists.  They might be fine with that, who needs them right?, but if they did indeed want to win them over, they had to change the way they framed the "value" of the forest or the watershed.

    So if the person filters things through America equals freedom, then the unions need to find some way to frame their message to show unions (collective bargaining, etc) means more freedom for them. Or something else that has the same emotional and intellectual resonance as "freedom."

    I would say that the current evidence would indicate that RTW legislation leads to lower wages and benefits for individuals, and does not have a positive impact for the overall economic well-being of the community.

    Now if it did help the local community's economic health, while diminishing the directly impacted workers economic health, one might be able to reasonably argue that it is a question of individual sacrifice for the greater good (just as in the argument for increasing taxes to support safety net programs or highway projects). 

    But one of the things that pro-union supporters face is that there is the view that unions cost the community jobs.  The biggest knock against unions I hear from liberals is that they refuse to lower their wages and other benefits so that in the end the company either goes under, or the company moves the jobs elsewhere.  In either case, the local community suffers by the loss of jobs.  The general sentiment is based on the logic that it is better to have, say, a $15 an hour job than no job at all. 

    I can think of three specific conversations in the past six months that I had with individuals who were very liberal, very well-educated, and highly engaged in the political information highway who said in effect unions tend to want to return to the golden days of the fifties and sixties.  That they are in effect unwilling to embrace the realities of the 21st century.  As a result they are ineffectual and provide, in their eyes, no current value to the today's workers, regardless of all the positive things they have accomplished over the many decades in the past.

    Taking the approach of "unions are great, and if you don't understand that you're an idiot or brainwashed or both," is an approach that will keep the unions on the down trend.  They have to show why they're a value - not only for their membership - but for all workers regardless of whether they are members of a union or not.

    I would argue calling those who chose to not pay the dues but reap the benefits of union negotiations as free loaders, while true, is ultimately counter-productive.  The leadership needs to be out there saying they'll volunteer to go to the negotiation table if need be, because they care about safe working conditions, livable wages, etc.

    No one wants to give up power (and that includes union leadership), and on this front the best way to get it back in places like Michigan is to find Democrats who can win the red districts, and Republicans who support labor and workers (there are few out there).  Just as in the 50 state strategy which meant allowing pro-life candidates into the Democratic tent, power is unlikely to come back to the Democrats in Michigan if a huge permanent line in the sand over RTW is drawn.  It is going to take a bit of time before those who were played like kazoos can be (re)educated.

    I am currently not in the mood for a kinder, gentler approach for 'splaining things. I'll leave that Shaolin monk stuff to Kwai Chang Caine.

    I can think of three specific conversations in the past six months that I had with individuals who were very liberal, very well-educated, and highly engaged in the political information highway who said in effect unions tend to want to return to the golden days of the fifties and sixties.  That they are in effect unwilling to embrace the realities of the 21st century.  As a result they are ineffectual and provide, in their eyes, no current value to the today's workers, regardless of all the positive things they have accomplished over the many decades in the past.

    Really?  Three conversations?  Three.  So now we should be convinced that unions are ineffectual and provide no current value to today's workers.

    If ever you need a job, AT, I'll bet these people would hire you.

    I wasn't pointing out the realities of the unions' value, I was pointing out people's perceptions of reality.  And in the game of politics, which is where the power is at, perceptions are reality, as the saying goes.  Maybe the left has had such a hard time gaining some victories because when someone comes around pointing the reality of perceptions, they are told they must belong on the other side. 

    Maybe you should put a disclaimer on your blog that it strictly a pep rally blog and, as such, no discouraging words are to be heard. People are only allowed to say how evil the other side is, how righteous our side is, and how we will all just march to victory against the forces of evil.

    And I was pointing out how perceptions of reality can be manipulated.  You should understand it better, now that you've been manipulated by the polling link you posted here.

    I don't expect that people will always agree with me, so, no, I don't think I'll post a disclaimer on my blog, but if I feel they don't really get it, I'm going to say so. 

    Sort of like what you're doing here.

    But you're making the implication that since I don't wholly agree with you I must be aligned with the other side.  Maybe, just maybe, we agree on the same ends, but disagree on how to frame the way forward.  Think about that before you make some judgment about who I should be working for.

    The bottom line here is that I am saying rather than spending your time whining about the Koch Brothers you should be writing about how do we (yes, we) reach out to those who believe the Republicans will improve the quality of the lives.

    Here is the link to the article where you got poll information from.

    First of all, the poll involved all of 300 people. Second, it was commissioned by the Grand Rapids Press. Grand Rapids is a fairly solid R area. I don't put much faith in this poll at all.

    The first poll from MRG link - which took in 600 callers, and the numbers were even more against the union positions, including showing support for the emergency financial managers.

    Sometimes reality is unpleasant to look at, but in this case, the reality is simply that the pro-union message is not as powerful or impactful as it once was, even in a state like Michigan that prospered so much from the efforts of unions. 

    300 or 600. I still have no faith in this poll. Bill Ballenger, number two on the MRG contact list, is a Republican pundit.

    One poll does not a mandate make.

    These stars in Michigan you spoke of above weren't aligned naturally. They were pushed and manipulated into place by the men who wish to be kings.

    Michigan Republicans are afraid of Democracy. It scares the living shit out of 'em. If they had any guts, if our benevolent overlord Rick Snyder had any guts what so ever, they would have let the matter go to referendum so the people could vote directly on whether or not rtw was what they wanted. The results of a fair and square vote by the people would then be the law. There's Democracy.

    What is happening in Michigan is not Democracy. Nothing even approaching representative democracy is evident lately.

    The citizens of Michigan were treated like imbecilic children by a handful of zealot lawmakers who believe we don't know what's good for us. Good for us as a whole and as individuals.

    If we are to resume being trusted citizens of this great state then we have to take issue with the trampling of our human rights by the few, voice our displeasure at their power grab, and make a show of not being willing to roll over and play dead.

    This isn't really pro or anti anything. What is happening in Michigan is the notion that a representative democracy has become a moot point. Like I said...if the issue was put forth on the ballot to be voted on by the people and the people voted for rtw, then so be it.

    But it wasn't.

    That's what I'm bitching about.


    Explain to me how those representatives voted into power in order to represent the people by voting on legislation is somehow the end of representative democracy.  What you're talking about with your referendum is direct democracy.  We have both operating on the state level in this country, and both are good and neither should be eliminated. 

    I can't explain anything to you because I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

    Elected representatives passed a piece of legislation, something they were elected to do. How is this the end of representative Democracy?

    Who said it was the end of representative Democracy? I said it was a moot point in Michigan, not the end.

    Oh lord.  A moot point is understood in general terms to be something of irrelevance.  You can look up what the meaning of irrelevance.  But I will say that if someone makes the comment about how representative democracy in America has become a moot point, I will take it to mean that democracy, in whatever form, has become a non-factor in day to day happenings that impact our lives. 

    So maybe it not the final end, but calling it moot  point (or as Joey in Friends would call a moo point) means it is for all intents and purposes non-existent, and thus ended for the time being.

    Good lord, AT, I realize you see yourself as the resident gadfly, but when it comes to what's happening here in Michigan, you really need to find better sources.

    Tom Shields and Bill Ballenger, the two top contacts for your polling link are both notorious Republican operatives.  Notice the name Dave Doyle on that list?  Another Republican insider.  Same with Paul King. (Note the first paragraph in King's list of achievements:

    Paul King joined MRG in 1991 and directs all aspects of survey research, including client development, marketing, project management, and analysis. In this capacity, Paul conducts research that influences strategy and message development for clients in the public and private sectors.

    The poll itself was commissioned by the Grand Rapids Press, not exactly known to be fair and balanced, except in Fox Nooze circles. 

    AT, this is how they do it.  This is how they skew the facts to suit them.  They are the pollsters.  They can make them say anything they want.

    Their contention, for example, that most of the state is in favor of the Financial Manager law is a lie.  We voted it down this November.  Not that it matters.  They're already working on ways to get it back in place.

    Your entire argument seems to be that the unions aren't as powerful as they once were and a lot of people don't like them.  Well, no kidding.

    The unions have fought many battles but what we're seeing now is that Vast Right Wing Conspiracy putting the pedal to the metal.  They are ruthless and without seeming weaknesses, and they're in hog heaven when people who really don't get it are out there spreading their phony message.

    I have to say, I'm surprised that you would take that poll as hard fact.  Everything about it shouts liar, liar, pants on fire.


    Thank you, Romona.  You beat me to the point.  Any one that has followed Nate Silvers and the poll analysis at Daily Kos during the past few years knows that LV (likely voter) models are not even close to reality.  They usually skew towards older white middle class conservative voters. The cross tabs where lacking in detail such as age, gender, income and minorities. So they called some cell phones and most counties. Also the samples are small for a state like Michigan and did not represent the actual population that lives in Michigan.  March was a life time ago in politics. These PR firms that did polling is just part of the snake oil that republicans drank.  This is good income for them.  I am beginning to believe that the uber rich has a political industrial complex going that if went out of business would cause unemployment numbers to rise a point or two nationally.  They were wasting time polling only 300 in Grand Rapids.  That was just a polling number dump. 

    Trking, I can pretty much guarantee they didn't poll anyone from Wayne County, our most populous county, where Detroit is, and a county that tends to vote Democratic.  No, they no doubt stayed on the west side of the state, where their peeps reside. 

    But where is the polling oversight?  Who can say for sure there even was a poll?  Nothing that comes from these people ever rings true, so I don't believe a thing that comes from them.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of Michiganders who do believe them, who want to believe them, and who will go on believing them, no matter what.

    There is much at stake for the RW conspiracists.  They didn't become millionaires and billionaires by taking a chance on the U.S.  Their money comes from money manipulation and cheap foreign labor.  Buying politicians and keeping the PR going is just the cost of doing business.  They can write it all off, and the gains for them are spectacular.

    This is not our parents' or grandparents' fight any longer.  The fight to keep things equitable for workers used to be a domestic fight.  Now we're competing globally and cheap labor is winning--and will go on winning unless we do something about it.

    In Michigan, we're trying to do something about it.  I can't say we'll win, but losing without a fight is not an option.


    While they may have voted the law down - the vote was 52% to 48%, in a state where Obama won 54% to Romney's 44%.  So the left can claim a victory on the emergency manager law, but 48% says there are a nice chunk of people who disagree the majority on this issue.  And that is the point. 

    I am quite aware of how the VRWC puts the pedal to the metal when it wants to.  The other side has always had more money and going forward, they will have more money.  If that equates to victory, then there is no point in fighting them. They've already won.  But if that only means they have only a significant advantage, then there is a chance to defeat their efforts.

    My original response to this blog was to point out, if labor and the left want to turn the tide, they have to figure out how to reach the voters that gave the Republicans such a majority in the state government in the first place.  Maybe understanding those 48% who approve of the emergency manager law is one place to start. 

    You can chalk it up to them being brainwashed or manipulated or whatever, or you can address the concerns and views that are underneath their acceptance of such legislation as the emergency manager law.  My point about the "3 conversations" was simply one way to point out that the labor movement has some work to do outreaching to the very people who should be their allies.  People who see the Koch Brothers and their ilk as evil, and who have had their views about unions long before any RTW propaganda. 

    Your blog came across to me as saying the left needs to start puppy training the politicians.  How can you do that if they don't fear the left when the elections roll around in large areas of the state.  On a positive note, Debbie Stabenow was re-elected by a huge margin.  Yet MI sent 9 Rep and only 5 to the US House of Rep (and, yes, I get the who gerrymandering thang).  But if you take Detroit area out of the mix, the proportion is much worse.

    I'm not taking the poll as hard facts - they were the only ones I could find.  Maybe the unions commissioned their own polls and they're just not getting pulled up in the search.  But if they didn't commission some polls, or at least one, then that is a major failure on their part.  But the polls do seem to be aligned with the voting behavior of MI citizens overall. 

    Or looking at it another way.  There was somewhere in the ballpark of 2% of the MI voters who pulled the lever for Obama, but then approved of the emergency manager legislation.  Were these liberals brainwashed by Koch supported messaging or conservatives brainwashed by union supported messaging?


    I was wondering when PPP was going into Michigan to poll all of this.  They are going to drop their numbers later this week end or Monday.

    This outfit uses good models and weighting.  They are hinting that the Governor's numbers are down. Let see if he beats Rick Scotts all time low of 29%.

    It is possible, and I wouldn't be surprised.  It is the other people commenting here that are saying the people are just a bunch of low information voters who are easily brainwashed by the money of the Koch Cartel.  Of course, if they're brainwashed, they wouldn't allow something like the behavior of the governor impact their views of things, in part because it would mean they have to at some level know what is going on.

    It is this double standard that gets me: if they turn against the governor, they are engaged People standing up for their beliefs.  If they turn against the unions, they are slobbering idiots duped by the propaganda machine.  Can't have it both ways. 

    The mistake would be that if the approval rating drops to 30% or something that this means that there is some vast pro-union mass out there just ready to sweep all of the Republicans out of state office.  It does mean that it provides an opening to get the message out to people who might be seriously ambivalent about unions, but are not happy with the way the governor and the Republicans handled things. 

     It is the other people commenting here that are saying the people are just a bunch of low information voters who are easily brainwashed by the money of the Koch Cartel.

    I 'spose you're talking about me. Meh.

    The double standard you speak of must be in your imagination because I said nothing about anti-union people being slobbering idiots. I said this:

    They brainwashed educated the low information section of the working class to embrace the phrase "right to work" which sounds so gosh darn AMERICAN

    How do you get the double standard thing from that?

    Pretzel logic only works for pretzels.

    Because if these same people disapprove of the governor in the PPP poll, I don't think you'll be saying how it doesn't mean much because it is just reflecting the opinion of brainwashed low information section of the working class.  Suddenly these brainwashed low information section of the working class will become enlightened in spite a lack of information? 

    If the PPP has the same or similar results as the poll you brought to the conversation, I will give it the proper recognition it deserves. I have a higher opinion of the PPP than the MRG. I'll wait to see the results before I say anything.

    Your predicting my responses is kind of a silly occupation, Trope.

    You're the one that threw the brainwashed meme out there.  If you want to back off that assertion I am willing to accept it.  Then again, you may not actually understand what the term actually means.  Who knows.

    Both sides have low information, politically disengaged voters on their side.  Charles Blow posted an op-ed piece with a poll that showed more Democrats couldn't name Biden VP was in 2010 than Republicans or knew Dems had a majority control of Congress. 

    Thanks for the PPP link, momoe.

    I think our benevolent overlord has a pretty good shot at taking the title of least popular gov. It's familiar territory for him. He usually polls in the low thirties. blush ... Shift+R improves the quality of this image. Shift+A improves the quality of all images on this page.

    This is a very good blog and seems to reflect what others are blogging about from Michigan. We all need to be just as angry. 

    I live in Florida a right to work state.  The state is a financial mess and in decline.  It was ground zero for the housing melt down and been a play ground for rich speculators and retirees.  The state's natural beauty and wild life is on life support.  Our schools rank at the bottom because of years of refusal to fund them.  More importantly the wages are low and we have very little manufacturing here. People die here because of the lack of health insurance.  We have counties in the northern part of the state that have higher infant mortality rates then most 3rd world countries. The jobs are in the hospitality industry.  So that is not saying much.  Hell...I am more afraid of a red neck with a concealed weapon or his crazy son, then the drug pushers down the street. 

    I was able to watch some clips yesterday from MSNBC and I noticed a purple suit as soon as the camera was on her.  I knew before she was introduced that she was a head of a service union because of the color purple.  A simple symbol the color purple that conveys solidarity and worker pride. The service employees unions have been able to organize small locals in the hospitality industry here in Florida.  It takes courage and the willingness to risk your job to organize a work place union but hotel maids, bell boys and ground keepers are doing it.  They are truly abused in the work place and union membership is growing in spite of the road blocks that the state laws have put in place to keep them from having rights.  They are doing something else,  they are in the community working.  I have seen them at food banks helping with their purple tee shirts, at democratic rallies, at habitat for humanity building houses and helping with getting out the vote.  They may not always have the union tee shirt on but they always wear the color purple even if it is just a ribbon in their hair or a purple tie.  In a low income neighborhood like mine they are heroes and respected.  The argument that unions have out grown their need and place into today's society is living in a bubble. Poverty is growing along with service industry jobs. 

    We get our news filtered through the lenses of the white successful male dominated MSM.  They are missing a lot of the story and what is really happening.  What is happening in Michigan and what has gone on in the great lakes area is being watched by everyone.  It is making a impression on this next midterm election.  Average voter is getting a little worried that just maybe the republicans in power are getting a little too destructive and do we really want to chance putting more of them in office in our states.  Have the media noticed how angry women are?  Have the media noticed how determined the minorities are?  Do they really understand the diversity of the younger generation that is going to change things in the near future?

    Here is something that you can take to the bank. The people who were forced to stand in long lines to vote last month will be back to vote in 2014 to vote the ones who made them stand in line out of office.  I bet the voter turn out will be high in the midwest too.

    I just read they passed a concealed weapons law that you can take a gun into a school.  Good Lord!!!. When I made my comment above I had no idea you were going to face the same tragic loss of innocent children from gun packing nuts that we have seen this year in Florida.  You got those whack job skin head groups up there too.  What else is on these fascists Christmas list?  You voted some of these nuts out of office and they are trashing everything they can before they are kicked out the door. 

    Yes this is fascism when you voted down a law that was a power grab and they decided that they can pass it again a try to keep you from voting on it again.  That is the way Hitler got started with his power grabs.  Some one with a ton of money wants some prime property or mineral rights or something they can not get any other way. 

    I hope there are some good judges in Michigan that will toss some of this crap out.

    Trking, if the school tragedy today doesn't cause Snyder and the Republicans to drop that crazy idea of allowing guns in schools, churches, etc., I have no hope for us.

    The insanity about gun freedom has to stop, and tomorrow would be as good a day as any to do it.  If not, (and I have no reason to believe that anything is going to change the minds of those who believe gun freedom is at the very core of our democracy) it's just one more fight we'll add to the growing list.

    So many fights, so little time.


    Trking, thank you for a great comment.  I hope you're right that people have long memories in Nov, 2014.  All we can do is work to keep those memories alive.

    I pulled out this paragraph from your comment because I think it says so much about why we need to keep this fight going:

    I was able to watch some clips yesterday from MSNBC and I noticed a purple suit as soon as the camera was on her.  I knew before she was introduced that she was a head of a service union because of the color purple.  A simple symbol the color purple that conveys solidarity and worker pride. The service employees unions have been able to organize small locals in the hospitality industry here in Florida.  It takes courage and the willingness to risk your job to organize a work place union but hotel maids, bell boys and ground keepers are doing it.  They are truly abused in the work place and union membership is growing in spite of the road blocks that the state laws have put in place to keep them from having rights.  They are doing something else,  they are in the community working.  I have seen them at food banks helping with their purple tee shirts, at democratic rallies, at habitat for humanity building houses and helping with getting out the vote.  They may not always have the union tee shirt on but they always wear the color purple even if it is just a ribbon in their hair or a purple tie.  In a low income neighborhood like mine they are heroes and respected.  The argument that unions have out grown their need and place into today's society is living in a bubble. Poverty is growing along with service industry jobs.

    This is why we do what we do, and why we won't stop.  Thank you.

    You are welcome.  Sometimes people need to be reminded we are talking about people's lives not all abstracts or ideology.


    Did Michigan Republicans even read the ALEC-Koch “Right-to-Work” legislation they just passed?

    It doesn’t appear likely. Why? Because the law may not be able to be implemented as intended.

    Just as the Wisconsin law violated their state constitution, so it appears the Michigan law does the same, albeit for different reasons. In addition to the violation of the state constitution, just as in Wisconsin, we also have a lawsuit filed over the violation of the Michigan Open Meetings law. But to the constitutional issue…

    Michigan Senate Democrats report, “The Michigan Constitution gives clear authority to the Civil Service Commission over conditions of employment for the state’s workforce. Experts have suggested today only a vote of the Civil Service Commission could enact Right to Work policies for state workers.”


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