Winning on issues

At Communities Digital News this week, I opined that Democrats and their left-tilting interest group allies are probably hard at work on issues that straddle the line between news and pop culture to identify voters early on who might be receptive to campaign messages next year. The article talks about wages, religious freedom, and police-involved shootings as the primary opportunities.

If it hadn’t been for the Rolling Stone debacle, the broad umbrella (no pun intended) of women’s issues might make the list – and it might still, once the concern over shoddy journalism evaporates.

The point is, grassroots campaigns need hooks that bring in voters who wouldn’t otherwise show up. Whichever side does a better job finding and using them will have an easier time of it next year.

Unions Clamor For Smaller Government

This ad opposing Common Core standards popped up on a few right-leaning blogs this week, advertising the website StopGovernmentOverreach.org:

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Clicking through led to this landing page:

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Who’s behind these right-wing clarion calls to limit expansive government?  The AFL-CIO, of course.  They don’t particularly hide their involvement, but they don’t bang the drum to call attention to their funding either.

It’s actually a smart and mature move.  Opposition to Common Core education isn’t the sole dominion of people who would rather not see teachers held accountable; there are also people who hold principled stances against national standards superseding local control of education.

What would be interesting to know is how the AFL-CIO uses this data.  For an advocacy group, a list of people on the other side who agree with you on certain issues is an underrated asset.  If they can turn other policy positions into small-government arguments, they can go back to that list for future action.

Terrorism. Racism. Unions.

We have heard plenty of criticism of political activists in the past week.  Their methods were likened to terrorists and their tone, we were told, had echoes of the racism.

Surely those critics will be just as vocal in denouncing the California labor unions who have been trying to scare voters away from signing referendum petitions, right?

The Golden State’s finances are anything but, and unions are likely worried about the types of reform movements that gripped other states with budget woes (like New Jersey and Wisconsin).  There are real possibilities that those reforms could be enacted by ballot referenda.  And so, there are not one but two campaigns working to squash ballot measures before they even get on the ballot.

The California chapter of the SEIU’s Think Before You Ink laughably blames ballot initiatives for “silencing the voices of working Californians” through ballot initiatives.  You read that correctly: the SEIU says that allowing voters to vote on referenda silences voters.

More insidious is Californians Against Identity Theft, which tells voters to stay away from petitions on the flimsy premise that signing risks identity theft.  Petitions, of course, require voters to share their name and address – in other words, most (but not all) of the information that can be found in a phone book, if anyone uses those anymore.

CAIT gets more unhinged the more you dig.  Check out this image from the website masthead:

It looks like someone found LSD, Red Bull, and Photoshop in the same weekend and had a bad trip.  And if that’s not enough, listen to their radio commercial, which suggests that felons straight out of San Quentin are patrolling the Ralph’s parking lot, preying on your phone book information.  And they might even send your information to (gasp!) India.  Who knows what those Indians will do with it? the ad intones ominously.

CAIT is comically over the top; it is also a deceitful effort that plays on identity theft concerns and racial tensions to suppress voters from participating in democracy.  The SEIU “Think Before You Ink” campaign is less egregious, but just as dishonest.  Both are founded on the basic premise of sabotaging democracy.

Common Cause certainly knows it’s wrong, though Vice President Joe Biden has yet to liken the organized labor goons behind it to terrorist.

Crossposted at Punditleague.us.

Boeing learns there are strings attached

The National Labor Relations Board is gently suggesting that Boeing should maintain a factory in Washington state instead of South Carolina.  When the NLRB “gently suggests” something, that tends to involve filing a complaint that alleges unfair labor practices.  In this case NLRB felt that Boeing’s relocation to the Palmetto State was retaliatory against the union that represents those who would work in the Washington plant.

As one would expect, conservatives roundly criticized the NLRB for bullying Boeing.  Government, the allies of Boeing would argue, should not direct business practice, nor pick winners and losers in business matters.

But Boeing is hardly a poster child for the ideals of the free market.

In 2010, Boeing spent almost $18 million lobbying the government and over $2.6 million in campaign donations to candidates and PACs.  In return for these efforts, Boeing rakes in over $16 billion in government contracts (second only to Lockheed Martin).  That’s a pretty good return on investment.

Boeing isn’t alone – many companies, especially those in line for large defense department contracts, play the same game.  But when a sizable chunk of any company’s business relies on the playing the political system, the company can’t be surprised when politics winds up getting in the way of business.

As Former President Gerald Ford put it, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

NFL Players getting off message

From the coverage of the worst All-Star Game of any of the major sports, the Pro-Bowl, comes this nugget from game MVP DeAngelo Hall:

MVP DeAngelo Hall had one of his team’s five interceptions and returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown to help the NFC match a Pro Bowl scoring record in a 55-41 victory over turnover-prone AFC. He gets a new Cadillac for his efforts.

“I was just about to buy another SUV,” the Redskins cornerback said, “so to come out here and grab one for free, I like that.”

Yes, he really did brag that he was thinking about buying “another SUV” – not a “new” SUV, but another, as in addition to whatever car or cars he currently has in his fleet.

Clearly, Hall is missing a either a sense of context or the spirit of brotherhood with his fellow union members (and possibly both).

Even the normally-overkilled Super Bowl coverage seems to be overshadowed by news that the NFL labor situation may devolve in the same type of players-versus-ownership animus that has cost significant playing time – and even championships – in each of the other sports over the past 20 years.  Matt Hasselbeck and Antonio Cromartie got into a much-hyped war of tweets over the potential lockout.  (The football world remains shocked that a member of the normally stoic and reserved New York Jets got into such a verbal spat with a fellow player.)

The NFL Player’s Association needs to get their members on the same page or risk losing the important PR war that comes with high-profile CBA negotiations.  One cornerback lashing out at the situation and another openly wondering how to arrange his fleet of cars won’t help it score points with fans.

Ending Labor Day Weekend in style by bashing the DC teachers union

This is probably a losing proposition in Your Nation’s Capital, where local government officials and their cronies seem to conspire to keep the District depressed.  (Seriously, the unemployment rate in Southeast DC was as high as 28% in the last year, while the rest of the metro area was around 5-7%.  It’s like they’re trying  to keep people poor.)  But it’s still an excellent commercial – calling out teachers unions with the type of blunt-force sarcasm and satire necessary to warrant a chuckle during the morning news.  It’s been playing on the local channels for a few weeks now, and I expect it will continue through the mayoral primary next week.

Of course, the group behind the ads, the Center for Union Facts, might want to be careful – their antagonists’ version of blunt force might include populating the area under the end zones at the New Giants Stadium.

Secure employment

USA Today points out that fewer than 2% of all teachers nationwide lose their job due to poor performance, thanks in large part to teachers’ unions.

In Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont — states in which fewer than half of fourth-graders are proficient at reading or math — the average school district did not remove a single tenured teacher in 2007-08. It’s no wonder: Dismissing one teacher can cost upwards of $100,000, and the legal struggle can drag on for years.

In a related note, the California Teachers Association leads the Golden State in campaign contributions.  And Michelle Rhee has been publicly lambasted for her successful efforts to improve DC’s public schools.

The tragedy, of course, is the creation of a system which rewards bad teachers and fails to reward the best teachers.  But then again, for teachers unions, is education really the point?

State of the Unions

Washington, D.C. is under about eight feet of snow, the federal government has called it a week already, and the House has started their Presidents’ Day Recess a few days early.  Heck, the Metro isn’t even running trains to outdoor stations.  With no action on Capitol Hill, a Quinnipiac University poll showing that Republicans are gaining public trust has become the big political news of the day.  Analysts have pondered the falling support of the Obama administration among independents and speculated about what that means for the electoral chances among Democrats.

It’s a valid question, but Politico brings up an even more relevant issue: falling support of Congressional Democrats among their own Big Labor base:

Union leaders warn that the Democrats’ lackluster performance in power is sapping the morale of activists going into the midterm elections.

“Right now if we don’t get positive changes to the agenda, we’re going to have a hard time getting members out to work,” said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, in an interview.

Please note that the term “work” in Gerard’s quote refers not to the members’ day jobs, but their efforts on the campaign trail.  As many jokes present themselves about this being the only time a hardcore union activist actually works, this is an important source of energy for a Democratic campaign.  These are the folks that make phone calls, knock on doors, march in parades, and do all the other things that are so important leading up to election day.  And even though many snide remarks could be added about using a blackjack as a get-out-the-vote program or a beat down rod as a debate strategy, the truth is that boots on the ground that know what they’re doing make those things unnecessary.

Now, Democrats have some tough choices.  Pushing the Big Labor agenda means things like removing secret ballots from union formation elections and other ways to drum up union membership – meaning more union dues are siphoned out of paychecks, meaning more money in the coffers of the AFL-CIO, UAW, and their fellow travelers.  After unsuccessfully trying to sell the health care overhaul as a matter of “the people” versus “special interests” how does a Congressman face his or her constituents with a vote to whip up union membership fresh on the voting record?