November 19, 2008

Pushing the big liberal mandate meme.

Rejected as a blog topic yesterday: "Barack Won A Mandate: Here's why you shouldn't let anyone tell you differently," by Jonathan Chait. (I know that, at the link, it's called "Defining Barack Down: In which we separate the mandates from the boy-dates," but the other title is what The New Republic successfully teased me with in its "Today at TNR.com" email.) Reason for not blogging it: Text nowhere near as interesting as either title.

Today: "It's Time to Give Voters the Liberalism They Want: Don't believe pundits who say there's a centrist mandate," by Thomas Frank. I'm biting because: 1. It's starting to look like a meme, and 2. Frank's piece feels more substantial.
[It's] possible that, for once, the public weighed the big issues and gave a clear verdict on the great economic questions of the last few decades. It is likely that we really do want universal health care and some measure of wealth-spreading, and even would like to see it become easier to organize a union in the workplace, however misguided such ideas may seem to the nation's institutions of higher carping.
If it's possibly clear, it's not clear. Obama never identified himself with these positions in a way that can be said to have transformed a vote for him into a vote for them. We voted for the man, and he was (and is) a man who built his success on creating the appearance that he is whatever it is we want.

66 comments:

Roger J. said...

It looked to me like Frank's article was all about card check, the SEIU and unions attempting regain some power.

As far as mandates go? We'll find out in the 2010 mid-terms if in fact there was a mandate for liberal policies.

rdkraus said...

If he wanted a mandate on those issues he could have run saying specifically:

I will work for universal health care.

I will spread the wealth around, I'm a socialist.

I am in favor of card check, ie. no secret ballot for union votes.

He specifically did not do that.

And when he made a "gaffe" and said spread the wealth to Joe the Plumber all hell broke loose. He never came back to that - ran away from it - talked about 95% of Americans getting tax cuts instead, taxing the "rich" (as variously defined).

ron st.amant said...

I believe President Bush won with less of a majority than has Obama and it didn't stop him or the GOP from claiming a mandate.

Obama seems to want a broad coalition in his administration, a competition of ideas, so in a sense he creates his own mandate for leadership.

Meade said...

So he clearly does have a clear mandate after all: to allow us to keep believing that we are clearly good, not just possibly clearly good.

Simon said...

He won a mandate, as I said last week, by winning a broad cross-regional coalition of states. But the mandate is for the lowest common denominator - for the planks of his platform support for which was most broadly shared. He has a mandate to cut taxes. He may have a mandate to do something about healthcare, it's hard to say. He does not have a mandate for gun control, card check, the fairness doctrine, and so forth.

Darcy said...

Oh, fellow Americans, don't be coy now. Embrace the liberal mandate! Let's get on with it!

Seriously, I'm pretty tired of being told that we are better than voting ourselves the goodies (other people's goodies, too! Woohoo!). We just did. Well, most of the voters did, anyway.

Mandate. Go for it. The Republicans can't stop it, the voters saw to that, too.

dbp said...

"I believe President Bush won with less of a majority than has Obama and it didn't stop him or the GOP from claiming a mandate."

Yes, and Clinton claimed a mandate too--even as he failed to get even 50% of the popular vote. Winning sides pretty-much always claim a mandate, we do not have to accept this claim though.

SteveR said...

You can "claim" a mandate all you want but it doesn't mean one exists. In Obama's case vs. say Bush 2004 when the GWOT was the overarching issue, there is no one or two issues that could be identified.

I think he was very delibeate about being nonspecific and was able to get away with it. To the extent he was specific (e.g. 95% tax cut) it usually came across as pandering not policy. People I know who voted for him, did so in spite of a lack of specifics. Frank is making shit up.

ftgaines said...

Secret ballots are for wimps! Give me card check and some buff organizers and I will show you a mandate.

John Althouse Cohen said...

We voted for the man, and he was (and is) a man who built his success on creating the appearance that he is whatever it is we want.

I still don't get this. Explain please! He absolutely did take positions, and so did McCain. People who disagreed with his positions were free to vote for McCain. Even though McCain had more experience and had a strong argument for distinguishing himself from Bush, most people, when forced to choose between the two imperfect candidates, rejected McCain and supported Obama.

As Chait says, that doesn't mean everyone who voted for Obama supports every position of his. But elections never mean that, and no one could seriously claim that, so that doesn't seem worth debating.

"Elections have consequences." Obama has always openly supported liberal policies, he's about to become the leader of the country, and we can only expect him to advance his liberal policies, tempered by whatever interest he has in reaching across to the middle. He's not bound by anyone's analysis of whether he got a "mandate"; he's bound by his desire to get himself and other congressional Democrats reelected. I don't even see how any of this is controversial.

Palladian said...

Stop saying "mandate"!! I hate that fucking word!

John Althouse Cohen said...

(I should have written: ...interest in reach across to the middle and the right -- which Obama certainly seems interested in doing on many issues.)

SteveR said...

JAC, for every person, such as yourself, who paid attention to specifics, and who weighed the pros and cons of all the positions in making a decision, I would expect that many voted for Obama just because: 1) he was a Democrat, 2) they were tired of Bush and the Republicans and weren't going to vote for McCain and 3) Obama is young, cool and different.

Barney Rubble said...

It was very amusing how, in that piece, Frank stated his thesis (such as it is) and then immediately turned to the SEIU for support. Imagine someone writing in 2000 tht George Bush won a mandate and as proof a quote from the Heritage Foundation is supplied. Why Frank gets published is beyond me.

But the real problem is this mandate idiocy. There is no such thing in our system of government and politics. I am not being reductionist about this; this is simply a creation of pundits and whoever else concocted it. We elect a president; we elect our congressional representatives. New policies and policy changes are initiated by the president or the congress. If those policies are enacted and implemented, it is not because the initiator had a "mandate" to do so; it is because there was political support for those policies. Representatives and senators vote for them, either out of principle or some perceived political benefit, support by their constituents or interest group backers, etc. And/or the president support the policies and sign them into law (or impose by executive order) for similar reasons.

"Mandate" has no meaning. The president doesn't get impeached because he tries to implement policies in the absence of a mandate. What does happen is that either the policies are blocked by congress or abandoned due to public outcry. In reality, "mandate" is a way of saying, "I think the president SHOULD push for this or that program, because I like it." As roger j. said in the first comment, the only real answer to this mandate crap is the next election. In the meantime, if Obama thinks something is good for the country and that he can persuade the congress to go along with it, then he should try to make it happen. That's his damn job. If Frank thinks those policies he writes about are good for the country and congress will go along with them, then bully for Frank and those policies and we'll find out. But trying to convince us that the public gave Obama a "mandate" for this or that policy is just sound and fury.

Darcy said...

John Althouse Cohen said...I don't even see how any of this is controversial.

It's not controversial. We elected a lefty liberal, and we should expect lefty liberal policy advanced.

I probably disagree with you that Obama has to worry about Dems getting reelected during his term, though. I think the MSM will continue to sell anything they come up with as good policy. Like bobbleheads.

It will take quite a while for Americans to figure out the harm I think will be done, and what policies caused it. That would require reading and digging beneath what the MSM has to offer.
Not likely, as I think evidenced by this last election. But we'll see.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

What a bizarre article. The subtitle could be "We want the mandate we paid for..."

I'm sure Frank knows that Obama outspent McCain four to one.

That goes unmentioned. But when Frank checks in with the Service Employees International Union, the money is on the table:

Their mood was optimistic -- as well it should be, since labor unions spent some $450 million during the 2008 races, orchestrated massive voter outreach, and saw their candidates triumph...."We've redefined the center," Mr. Stern said.

With this unbiased confirmation, it is easy for Mr. Frank to revisit the great cacophonic parade of the election and hear only the tin whistle of card check:

"During the campaign, you will recall, the debate over card check was supposed to be about principle..."

During the campaign, you will recall, the debate over card check was about Sarah Palin's wardrobe and Barack Obama's minister.

If Obama has a mandate, it is no more than the mandate of the ages. It is the mandate of the slush fund and the no-show job. It is the first free bet from the bookie, the favor from the Godfather, the chicken in every pot. It is beer and onions from the feudal landlord, bread and circuses in a bankrupt empire.

A lot of voters voted to give themselves a universal benefit. Just as with Mr. Frank's vision of a unionized Walmart, these voters have yet to consider who will pay the costs of their largess.

Robert Cook said...

I think the mandate is that the voters want competent and trustworthy managers of government on our behalf. I think the mandate is that the voters abhor the wretched government and criminal wars the Republicans have given us. I don't think there is a mandate for liberal change--unfortunately--because Obama cannot be considered as particularly liberal, and certainly not leftist--the misperceptions of others notwithstanding--if we consider his actual rhetoric and votes in Congress. In fact, I didn't vote for Obama, but for Ralph Nader, precisely because I am tired of these weak-assed faux-liberals (see Bill Clinton for a previous example) who ride into office promising to reform government "for the people" and who, in fact, govern as Republicans, (albeit as less extreme Republicans, perhaps, than such odious "real" Republicans as Bush, Cheney, Reagan, et al.).

If Obama's supporter truly expect a major liberal overhaul of goverment--one that is undeniably desperately needed--they will be sorely disabused of that misperception all too soon.

Rich B said...

Well, this is related and quite amusing-

http://www.howobamagotelected.com/

Note the attempt by 538 to discredit the poll. It may not be strictly representative, but there were clearly a lot of dumb-O voters.

Apparently, many Obama voters had only the vaguest idea of what they were voting for. The poll results accord with my anecdotal experience with their ilk.

If a product were advertised the way the big O was marketed, there would be an FTC investigation.

Hope and Change, my ass.

AJ Lynch said...

Diversity of opinion on Obama's cabinet. Was that snark? It appears Obama is re-contstructing the Clinton team which was primarily far left liberals.

Original Mike said...

Frank's defense of card check is far from substantial. He dismisses the most basic concern, that card check will allow union bullies to intimidate people into approving a union (or, as he put's it, the sacredness of the secret ballot), by noting that management holds "captive-audience meetings" to make their case against the union. The worker's ballots are cast in secret. So what that management has made a pitch prior to the election? I've heard this argument many times and I don't get the point.

I read Frank every week, and I have yet to see him make a logical, compelling argument on anything. I agree with Barney: "Why Frank gets published is beyond me."

jayne_cobb said...

He has a mandate; I don't think there's much denying that (he won after all). The question is for what? I would disagree that it's a mandate to suddenly go hard left on us.

In the state in which I live, PA, I've seen his commercials claim that he opposed gun control, supported massive tax cuts, and that he opposed full on govt. health care. As far as I know he never even mentioned the unions in any significant way.

So I will agree that he has a mandate. But it's hardly as extreme as some might think.

Hoosier Daddy said...

As a former non-union outside contractor who worked in the Gary Steel mills for five years I had a couple of opportunities to cast a ballot to become a union shop.

I'd be delighted if someone would explain to me how card check would have been a benefit when I was making my choice?

Moondog said...

Doesn't the mandate question get asked every election cycle? Seems the only purpose is to give editorial writers something to scribble about and partisans something to bicker about.

Original Mike said...

I'd be delighted if someone would explain to me how card check would have been a benefit when I was making my choice?

The nice union man would have helped you hold the pencil.

Darcy said...

You're not going to get that explanation, Hoosier Daddy. :) As someone said above, the media thought Sarah Palin's shoes were more important than a look-see into the pros and cons of card check! You'll get this and like it! Because it's good for you. ;-)

Trooper York said...

I remember when my uncles were in the ILA (International Longshoreman’s Union) in the sixties and they had a terrible strike. They needed a secret ballot to end it as the mob guys running it were holding out for more payoffs. The union was very important for them; it kept them alive when working conditions were horribly dangerous. Now a lot of the immigrants who are working in dangerous jobs need the unions to keep them safe. Every few months we hear about someone who dies in a construction accident. Without union inspectors it would be one or two a week. I know a lot of my conservative brothers don't believe in unions but they are pretty important. Of course like all human endeavors they have been corrupted over time. The elimination of the secret ballot will only serve to complete the destruction and degradation of their original purpose. The protection of its members.

Freder Frederson said...

As a former non-union outside contractor who worked in the Gary Steel mills for five years I had a couple of opportunities to cast a ballot to become a union shop.

First of all, as an outside contractor, how on earth did you get to cast a ballot in a union election?

But here is the answer that it is claimed you will never get. Over the last 28 years--since Reagan took office--there has been a wholesale assault on union organization in this country (and it didn't reverse during the Clinton years). By stacking the NLRB with members that are extremely hostile to unions, along with a non-stop campaign of blaming unions for every ill of the economy, companies are able to get away with all kinds of acts that would have been prohibited thirty years ago. Things like firing workers for union activity or refusing to hire workers who have a union background (both technically illegal but as long as you don't categorically state "you're fired because of your union activities", employers can get away with it). Employers can also mandate long sessions informing their employees on the evils of unions and about the only prohibited statement about the unionization of a facility is "if this facility votes in a union we will close it."

What card check does is prevent the employer from launching a long period of intimidation and threats between the time the cards are signed and the election where they can basically claim that everyone will lose their jobs if the union wins.

Pastafarian said...

Robert Cook said:

"...because Obama cannot be considered as particularly liberal, and certainly not leftist..."

Umm...yes, yes he can be considered particularly liberal. He can be considered the most liberal of 100 senators, in fact.

I'd hate to see what passes for "particularly liberal" in your book. Hugo Chavez?

Or perhaps you have in mind the classical definition of "liberal" -- in that case, I'd have to agree. The Democratic party has become completely illiberal -- opposing a war to liberate 25 million people from dictatorship; considering curtailing free speech with the "fairness doctrine"; stomping on the bill of rights with gun control.

Sorry I initially misunderstood your point. We're in complete agreement.

Freder Frederson said...

As for mob involvement in unions. You people need to learn a little labor history. The Mafia became involved with the unions at the invitation of management and the acquiescence of the government. They were seen as a way to eliminate the socialists and communists from the unions. They were brutally efficient at that.

Freder Frederson said...

Umm...yes, yes he can be considered particularly liberal. He can be considered the most liberal of 100 senators, in fact.

Bullshit. First of all, Bernie Sanders, who is a self-avowed socialist, is and always will be (as long as he is serving) the most liberal senator. And of course this same accusation was tacked on Kerry in '04 and I am sure if Hillary ran, she would have amazingly also been the most "liberal" senator.

John Stodder said...

Thomas Frank is the John Kerry of punditry: Misperceived as intelligent. Jon Chait, on the other hand, fools no one.

Since I voted for Obama, I can say authoritatively that his mandate did not include card check, and while he did campaign on the idea of raising taxes on "wealthy Americans," he put limits on it. He disputed the factual basis for the "Joe the Plumber" issue, i.e. that despite what he was caught saying, he was not a socialist, period.

Frank and Chait are too late anyway. Since elected, every move Obama has made has underscored his centrism, and he's done nothing that could even be perceived as a "hi howdy" to the left. I don't doubt that he will do so at some point. He's almost as green as Arnold Schwarzenegger, for one example. But during the campaign, it was the conservatives who claimed his election would be a mandate for liberalism -- a stance that frankly bothered me, because it seemed apparent he was going to win, and then he could in theory say, "You knew what I was all about. Rush Limbaugh told you I was a socialist and he was right."

Obama wants to be re-elected. He wants to have a historically successful, two-term presidency. He knows better than anyone that governing too far to the left will undo such hopes. This country is not where Thomas Frank thinks it should be. It never will be.

Pastafarian said...

Freder --

There are already laws against "intimidation and threats" by management wrt to unionization.

Even George McGovern, that ultra-conservative foe of the the workin' man, says that card check is a bald-faced attempt to allow union thugs to intimidate workers.

And while we're on the topic: How is it a "threat", anyway, to tell employees that, should they succeed in starting a union, the company will consider moving out of the country? Quite possibly, it's simply a true statement, and one that workers should weigh in their decision.

Imagine, for a moment, that you run a manufacturing business. You currently charge just enough for your product to cover your costs, plus a little profit, and this price has allowed you to carve out a modest niche among competitors from all over the world.

What will you do when a union comes in, demands a 50% increase in wages, and wins this in NLRB arbitration?

Will you:

a) Increase your price, selling fewer products, lay off now-unneeded workers, and gradually slide into insolvency;

or

b) Shut down the business and restart it in Costa Rica, with workers ecstatic to make $3 per hour?

Please don't bother to state "that will never happen" -- it's a hypothetical, and it's quite realistic.

Original Mike said...

So there's your answer, Hoosier. Card check saves you from having to listen to management's position. Democracy at it's finest.

John Stodder said...

Over the last 28 years--since Reagan took office--there has been a wholesale assault on union organization in this country...

This is:

a) a lame alibi for the decline in union membership in this country;

b) even if it was true, no justification for card check.

Go ahead, reform some of the marginal stuff around what companies can and can't do to influence elections. Maybe they've had the upper hand, maybe after hearings and careful study we will see there are abuses to be corrected. Most Americans are open to that.

But card check, depriving workers of the secret ballot and opening them up to physical intimidation, is flat-out evil and by the way completely illiberal. Talking about the Reagan years is a bullshit pretext for the biggest, grossest attempted power grab I've seen in domestic politics in my lifetime.

If it was such a hot idea, why are the unions determined to rush it through Congress with minimal debate? It smells, that's why. If you think this is social equity, why not call for a national debate on it? The unions are terrified of that, and their cowardice is well-justified. Card check would go down in flames if Americans knew what it was. It would be used against anyone who supported it in their next election. So it will get to Obama's desk, if it does, by way of the worst of backroom, anti-democratic politics.

Card check is a moral test for liberals.

Trooper York said...

Freder you ignorant slut. The mob was in the ILA to make money. Nothing more and nothing less. They could give a shit about the communists. If you want to read a little history read about the relationship of the Mob and Vito Marcantonio the erstwhile communist Congressman from Manhattan. Ironically enough first elected as a Republican but controlled by the mob in the person of Frank Costello. Although some of what you describe was true in some cases in the garment industry in the involvement of Louis Lepke Buchalter and Jake Shapiro in the case of both the Teamsters and the longshoreman they got into the labor business at the behest of the unions to battle the scabs and bosses and to aid in hijacking cargos and goods.

Please stick to science not mob history. Thank you.

Palladian said...

"So I will agree that he has a mandate. But it's hardly as extreme as some might think."

But you live in Pennsylvania, where bitter people cling to things like guns and religion and their hard-earned pay, so Obama had to project an image of himself as a centrist Democrat in order to win PA. Elsewhere, it was all "Si, Se Puede" and chardonnay and socialism. Obama, to borrow a metaphor from Chaka Khan, is "every woman, it's all in him". He's whatever you want him to be. What I'm wondering is when the Freder Fredersons and assorted leftist miscreants are going to start demanding that he be the hard socialist they wanted him to be.

Pastafarian said...

John Althouse Cohen said:

"I still don't get this. Explain please!"

Here's my attempt at an explanation: Some Obama voters thought that Obama was just too clean and articulate to be as far left as his very clearly stated positions (Prof. Althouse), and so they consider a vote for Obama to be a vote for what they hoped he was -- a middle-of-the-road pragmatist.

Other Obama voters, like Freder, knew what Obama was, and they knew that Obama's move to the right after dusting Hillary was simply a ruse to fool the hicks in the middle of the country. Now, even these leftist ideologues see looming disaster, with no cover -- they see that economic conditions that would become a deep recession under conservative policies will become a depression under Obama, and there are no Republicans around to blame -- Democrats in POTUS and hefty majorities in both houses of congress.

So they're stating the Obama isn't really all that liberal anyway; hell, he's practically a conservative Republican.
And they're hoping that he appoints a few Republicans to his cabinet.

Palladian said...

"Please stick to science not mob history. Thank you."

He's not so good at that topic either, Troop.

Robert Cook said...

Pastafarian:

Yes, I hear the baloney about Obama being the "most liberal" senator, but...according to whom? Based on what standards? How is "liberal" being defined? Frankly, I agree with your snark about the Dems having become "illiberal." They are largely Rebublican lite at this point.

Nice try in trying to promulgate the old saw that our invasion of Iraq was a "war to liberate 25 million people from dictatorship," but it won't wash. The invasion was never sold to us on that basis and it was never any part of our real reason for the invasion. It only became a predominant meme when the other reasons provided to justify our invasion were exposed as lies. Our subsequent treatment of the Iraqis proves, if it needed proving, that we didn't and don't give a damn about them. Unless mass murder, detention, torture, maiming, and rendering millions homeless is an expression of our solidarity with their "liberation."

Pastafarian said...

Robert --

Were 25 million people liberated, regardless of intentions?

That was enough for Hitchens to support the war -- and he's not exactly a conservative; he's a self-professed socialist.

I get the impression that this would have been a noble cause if the other party had been in power.

Pastafarian said...

Robert --

Re. your mass murder, torture, etc accusations -- the rules of engagement that our military has operated under during this engagement have been the most humanitarian in the history of warfare on this planet. In WWII, if there was sniper fire coming from a chateau in France, the US Army would drive a tank through that chateau. Now, they clear it room-by-room. Had we operated under WWII rules of engagement, we probably would have lost only 1,000 men instead of 5,000.

These people that we've sent over there have acquitted themselves admirably -- I've not seen stats on this, but I'm willing to bet that there have been fewer criminal acts by our forces in this war (rape, murder of noncombatants, looting, etc) than in any war of comparable scope.

They've not only liberated these people, but they've demonstrated to the populace over there that there are some Americans who are courageous and selfless and honorable, and I'm very proud of the job that they've done.

Pastafarian said...

Freder -- still waiting for you to play manager and answer my hypothetical.

Alas, I have to go back to work now, where I face actual decisions like that. Maybe I'll read your response later tonight, when I'm done earning wealth so that it can be redistributed to the masses, who will spend the afternoon in the comments sections of blogs like this, sipping coffee and snicking quietly at their own cleverness.

Original Mike said...

Please stick to science not mob history.

Heh, Freder! Have you figured out the mysteries of the incandescent light bulb, yet?

Freder Frederson said...

a lame alibi for the decline in union membership in this country

It is only part of the reason for the decline in union membership in this country.

As for your hypothetical. I don't agree that it is "quite realistic", that the union would be foolish enough to ask for a 50% across the board raise on an initial contract or that the current NLRB would approve such a contract in arbitration (and btw, arbitration rules are tilted so far in favor of management, as long as management shows up for contract negotiations the NLRB will find out it is negotiating in good faith and management and the contract will never go to arbitration).

But I'll indulge your little fantasy. Management would have no choice but to shut the plant.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Freder asked: First of all, as an outside contractor, how on earth did you get to cast a ballot in a union election?

Hi Freder, thanks for asking. US Steel, Bethlehem and Inland Steel to name the big three up in the Region all used outside contractors for certain jobs. Some of those contractors like Furnace Services were union, Operating Engineers Local 150 to be precise. Others like my former employer Martin Marietta Magnesium Specialties were not. A couple years after I was working for them, several of my co-workers petitioned to organize under the operating engineers local 150 and we had a vote. That’s how I got to vote in an election.

What card check does is prevent the employer from launching a long period of intimidation and threats between the time the cards are signed and the election where they can basically claim that everyone will lose their jobs if the union wins.

That’s fascinating because the Local 150 guys specifically told us to contact them as well as the NLRB if we were harassed or threatened by management. We were provided contacts for both that we could call 24/7 and it was plainly communicated to management by both the union and NLRB rep at the initial meeting. If anything it seems to me that card check removes the opportunity for management to threaten you and gives it to the union.

cardeblu said...

One percent is a mandate? Heh.

madawaskan said...

Trooper-

Well isn't it at al possible that the unions have out lived their usefulness?

Isn't there a redundancy now with labor laws and what unions original intend was?

You can have unions up to the point where they bring about their own demise and drag a lot of the economy down with them-


Detroit-for example.

How has the US automotive industry ended up where it is today?

As for mobs and unions well you said it yourself-in one word-protection-they both think that's their business.

My dad ran numbers for the mob, and had to join the army to get the hell away from them.

Not months after he retired-after 25 plus years they called him to help "organize" some steel mills out West....

Remember when we use to have a steel industry?

Unions are good for something-they get us out of doing the work Americans won't do like the rest of the world sooner.

We'll soon see what's left...

Robert Cook said...

Pastafarian said (with regard to the illegal invasion of Iraq): "I get the impression that this would have been a noble cause if the other party had been in power."

Nope. It would have been as much a war crime under Gore as under Bush. In fact, I consider the Dems to be complicit in Bush's war crimes, except for those few who were brave and smart enough to vote against ceding their Congressional authority and responsibility for declaring war to Bush, (who, although he didn't actually "declare" it, sure as hell started it!).

As to whether 25 million have been "liberated," I guess this depends on how you define the word. I'd say a country that has had its physical infrastructure smashed, its culturally diverse neighborhoods riven apart, its populace driven from their homes, the rule of law (albeit IRON law)erased, its stability undone, its economy destroyed, its treasures plundered, masses of people detained, murdered or maimed, the unleashing of competing terrorist and insurgent gropus within it, and so on and so on is better described as "broken" than "liberated." I guess, as in Viet Nam, we had to destroy the village in order to save it, eh?

Now, eventually--we will see--Iraq may pull itself together in some way, may cohere around some form of stable government...or it may not. But, had we never invaded Iraq, Hussein would eventually have died or been deposed. Frankly, it's not our business--even if it had been our purported rationale here, which it was not--and neither is it legal,to invade countries to "liberate" their people.

madawaskan said...

Remember when we us to have a textile industry?

What happened to that?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Over the last 28 years--since Reagan took office--there has been a wholesale assault on union organization in this country...

This is:

a) a lame alibi for the decline in union membership in this country;


I would agree with John Stodder on this. I lived in NW Indiana for ¾ of my life and that whole area is very pro union although the number of jobs have steadily declined, particularly in the steel industry mainly because the demand for steel has declined and technology has replaced a lot of workers. Let me give you an example. When my mom started working at USS Gary works in 1960 there were about 25,000 workers at that plant alone. When I started working there in 1990 there were about 6500 not counting contractors. The tin mill where my grandfather worked was gone and a huge empty area where that building was and the tube works was also gone because the demand was gone. These two divisions employed thousands.

I think unions have a place but they also are in need of serious reform. I watched guys come into work shit faced and instead of being sent home would be banished to the break room to sleep it off because management simply didn’t want to deal with the hassle of a grievance. Not every union worker was like that, in fact the majority weren’t but they also weren’t going to put in the extra effort either. Example, one night we needed to change an oxygen lance on one of the furnaces. That’s about a 20 minute job, 30 tops. Problem was it was 15 minutes before shift change and the millwrights simply pawned it off to the next shift. That kind of stuff was done all the time and was referred to as ‘fucking your buddy’.

Bethlehem was worse because we couldn’t even work on our own equipment. Once we needed to change a lance on one of our machines but we had to get a mill (union) pipefitter to do it. In that particular instance we had to wait 45 minutes for them to do a 5 minute job because they were doing something else at the time.

Trooper York said...

Well madawaskan the union I have the most contact with is the ILA and believe it or not the union and management are working together hand vs. the government. When Nanny Bloomberg tried to throw out a shipping company out of Red Hook, management and labor stood together to keep the company alive. That is the future for unions in this country.

John Althouse Cohen said...

JAC, for every person, such as yourself, who paid attention to specifics, and who weighed the pros and cons of all the positions in making a decision,...

I said in the comment you're responding to that we can't assume that everyone who voted for Obama supported all his policies. By the same token, of course you're right that few people who voted for Obama were aware of each and every one of his positions (down to the minutiae of his health-care plan, etc.).

I'm not trying to say that most voters are policy voters.

Sure, maybe only, say, 25% of people who voted for Obama were mainly voting for a specific set of policies (for the sake of argument). But everyone had the chance to vote for Obama or McCain based on their policy preferences.

Naturally, lots of other factors matter. But it's a little perverse to say that since Obama was the superior candidate not just on policy but also on a lot of his other strengths (including events outside of Obama or McCain's control), the people thus haven't approved Obama's policies. By that standard, no leader would ever have a mandate, since "the issues" are never the sole factor.

I don't remember hearing many Republicans back in 2000 arguing that since there were some factors outside of Gore's policy positions that helped Bush win (e.g. voters' distaste for Bill Clinton, Gore's stiffness, Bush's want-to-have-a-beer-with-him quality), Bush thus had no mandate.

Steven said...

Over the last 28 years--since Reagan took office--there has been a wholesale assault on union organization in this country

If only this were true. Unfortunately, we've only had a partial clawback from the government-enforced imposition of unionism. A proper full-scale assault would repeal the Wagner Act, and let employers decide for themselves if they want to negotiate with or employ members of unions at all.

But yes, let's enact card-check, and spread the advantages of unionism from the steel and auto industries and public education to all segments of the economy.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But I'll indulge your little fantasy. Management would have no choice but to shut the plant.

In fairness, leading up to the vote, we were told by management that depending upon the wage increase they may not be able to remain competitive. When I started I was making $10.50/hour not counting overtime and holiday pay. So if I never worked a day of OT and no holidays (yeah right) my based salary for the year was about $21K. My buddy who was with another contractor and an operating engineer (union) made $23.75/hr although he had 15 years under his belt. So let’s assume a 20% wage increase. At my $10.50.hr that would put me at $12.60/hr. Then I’d have to take into account union dues which drops that down although I confess I have no idea what dues were. I know for a fact that my wage was exactly the same for my job with our two main competitors. Then it simply boils down to how far does the company reduce its profit margin. I don't think a 20% increase is out of line either. Anything less and then it just goes to dues.

Alex said...

Sorry Althouse, but you don't get off that easy. This was a mandate for uber-socialism and YOU know it.

TMink said...

Oh my goodness I hope that the Left sees this as a mandate. Run with it comrades! Do it to us for our own good, you KNOW that you know better than us! Pity us clinging to our Bibles and guns. Save us, save us from our selves!

You won't last past two years if you do.

Trey

Paul Zrimsek said...

[It's] possible that, for once, the public weighed the big issues and gave a clear verdict on the great economic questions of the last few decades.

"For once"? What was the 1994 election, chopped liver?

blake said...

We voted for the man, and he was (and is) a man who built his success on creating the appearance that he is whatever it is we want.

I think he should deliver this. This would be the only truly fair thing he can do.

Here's how: Let all those interested in nationalized health care, wealth redistribution, unions, etc., opt-in for those things.

Let all those who prefer free markets, non-regulation, minimal taxation, etc., opt-in for those things.

Actually, we could go even further. Let's divide the country up into discrete areas, called "states", and each of these so-called states could act as a sort of laboratory for the sorts of polici--

Nah, never mind, that's crazy talk.

Pastafarian said...

Freder --

Thanks for indulging my "little fantasy".

Would the company be justified, then, in warning the employees (who have no idea what the company's total costs are, where the company's competitors' price points are, what the company's margin is, and so on) that the company might have to shut down should they demand significantly higher wages?

And who's to say that companies in extremely competitive fields (like CNC machining to customer specs, say), wouldn't be similarly crippled by a 20% increase in wages? Trooper indicated that it's unlikely that they'd make a smaller demand than this, since anything less would be eaten up by dues.

So that makes my little hypothetical a little less fanciful, doesn't it?

So how about it, Freder? Wouldn't it be better if the company could warn the employees of the outcome of their actions, rather than springing it on them as a surprise after it's too late?

You know, this whole discussion sort of makes one question the wisdom of allowing employees to determine their own wages. Maybe instead we could have a system in place where designated people, let's call them "managers", could make such decisions based on costs, sustainable prices for goods, and so on; and if the employees wanted to make more money, they would be free to go out and find another job that paid more. If companies couldn't pay high enough to attract enough good people, those companies would eventually go out of busi--

I seem to have contracted the same mental illness as Blake. Is mental illness covered under our new government health care?

Eli Blake said...

The best answer when someone says they have a 'mandate'

"With who?"

Freeman Hunt said...

Stop saying "mandate"!!

Just pretend they're writing "mandrake."

TMink said...

I have a mandate with my best friend about once a month.

But we are just good friends. 8)

Trey

John Stodder said...

Poor Michael Moore. Larry King put him his show tonight to talk about GM and the bailout, of course because of "Roger and Me," his attack on GM from about 20 years ago for closing a plant. Never has anyone seemed less prescient. His idea, which he seemed unable to give up even in the face of the current news, was that GM was closing plants out of corporate greed. Now, in an irony Moore doesn't seem to get, they want taxpayers' help in keeping plants open! He didn't seem at all sure what side to be on. It's rare to see the vapidity of what passes for thought on the left so nakedly exposed. And fun.

madawaskan said...

Trooper

Well hell I'm late with this, and usually I'm not a pessimist but I really don't see where America has an industry or edge on the competition anymore.

Cheap labor-India and China. Are we going to get the American consumer of their cheap made in China fix, make shopping at Wal Mart illegal-not anytime soon.

Democrats have control over everything that means higher taxes with more regulation and unabated lawyers suing at will leaving profit margins-plummeting.

So hey you know we got a leg up on the medical research and pharmaceuticals but nationalized health care will choke that goose.

And Democrats these days-they ain't your Daddy's Democrats they're the most Liberal in history with the Conservative Blue Dog democrat having gone the way of Zell Miller.

Obama has a mandate with Destiny and she ain't pretty....

madawaskan said...

I need a drink...

OK now there's something that might thrive...in the coming environment.