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Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:12 pm - March 6, 2011.
Filed under: California politics,HopeAndChange,LA Stories

Public employee unions now (finally!) getting media scrutiny

Perhaps the biggest blunder, public employee unions and the Democratic National Committee made in organizing a practically permanent rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison was in gaining a media focus on the protests.  Now, while they (and Charlie Sheen) may buy into the mantra that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, perhaps the unions, like Charlie, should reconsider.

These protests have put the spotlight on the sweetheart deals Democratic legislators secure for the public employees.  Recall that in the 2010 California elections, where the public employee unions poured tens of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns, even running the party’s get-out-the-vote efforts, media in the state focused more on the millions the Republican gubernatorial nominee spent on her effort to win the governor’s chair.  And all but ignored the unions.

Now, as blogging law professor William A. Jacobson reminds us, even the New York Times is noticing the intransigence of public employee unions as states face massive budget shortfalls:

The Board of Editors of The New York Times is demanding significant cut backs in public sector union contracts, but refuses to recognize the cause of the problem, which is the entire structure of public employee unions

Jacobson is right.  Read the whole thing.

That said, while the Times‘ editors may diagnose the problem incorrectly, at least they recognize that there is a problem.  This added media focus may make Americans more aware just how big a factor the unions have been in various states’ spending sprees.  This focus could help strengthen the position of Republican governors and legislators seeking to restrain the unions in order to protect taxpayers.

UPDATE:  Michael Barone addressed this very matter in his must-read column on Saturday:

Voters are beginning to realize, thanks to governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, that public sector unions have negotiated unsustainable levels of pensions and benefits — and that public sector unions are a mechanism for involuntary transfers of money from taxpayers to the Democratic Party.

It’s Barone.  Read the whole thing.

Somewhere in Texas, someone is smiling today

Former French President Chirac to stand trial.  This is why this news brings such cheer to so many:

The former president, a bugaboo for George W. Bush during his rush to war in Iraq, on Monday becomes France’s first former head of state to go on trial since its Nazi-era leader was exiled.

Together with his sidekick, former German Chanceller Gerhard Schröder, Chirac raised such a ruckus opposing Bush’s efforts to enforce multiple United Nations’ resolutions in the early 2000s as Iraq repeatedly flouted them.   The American and European media used this opposition to peddle the (false) narrative that W had developed a go-it-alone foreign policy, acting without consulting our allies.  It was Chirac’s petulance that caused a rift among Western nations.

Yet, Chirac defied the United States not on the merits of the arguments, but for the sake of defiance.  And to try to preserve France’s stature on the world stage.

Now, to be sure, the trial does not address Chirac’s self-important posturing while President of France.  But, it is sweet to see such a man in legal jeopardy.  I believe the term is schadenfreude.

Would Ohio voters re-elect a Senator. . .

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:30 am - March 6, 2011.
Filed under: 2012 Congressional Elections

. . . who ties the Senate’s only Socialist for the title of most liberal Senator, a title he has held for two years running?  In a swing state like Ohio that has gone with the winner in every presidential election since 1964, a state which prides itself on avoiding extremes?

Methinks that if this information becomes public knowledge in the Buckeye State, Sherrod Brown will soon be returning to the private sector.