Tag Archives: Scott Walker

A Constitutional Question

I’ve done a pretty bad job of posting lately. My interest in politics has been tested throughly. I’m just tired of the same arguments coming from either side over government spending and taxation. The Tea Party has thoroughly destroyed my faith in Congress, and the American public. I will talk more about that in a later post. Today, I want to pose a question. It’s a question I thought of a long time ago, but never got around to asking. First, a little reminder of our recent history.

Back in March, all the talk was about Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker was trying to push a bill that stripped the collective bargaining rights of public employees. State Senate Democrats fled in an effort to obstruct him. In the end the bill was passed, but not without gaining significant national attention and a repeated FOXNews claim that was completely wrong. In the last six months, I’ve been mulling this issue over in my head. Education is very important to me. I’ve been a public school system employee. I have strong views about the issue. Personally, I don’t believe that public school teachers have the awesome, easy job that conservative talking heads say they do. I also believe that we should be encouraging people to become teachers not discouraging it. Having the smartest people want to be teachers is good. Education in the cornerstone of everything we do.

All that aside, I thought of an argument that makes the repeal of public employee’s collective bargaining rights is unconstitutional. This argument maybe crazy. It may have been addressed already. I would genuinely like to know what you think. So please leave comments below. As long as their civil and honest of course.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says:

     “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We’re going to focus on the last part of that amendment. The government cannot abridge our “right to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  The way I read that is that collective bargaining is a right of public employees. Collective bargaining is people assembling (as a union) and petitioning the government over grievances (such as pay, working conditions and so on.)

I know that a strict constructionist view of the Constitution would not allow this, because it doesn’t talk specifically about collective bargaining, but collective bargaining didn’t exist. I believe we have to view the Constitution in the era it was written in, and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Let me know what you think.


Wisconsin Battle is Over. Who Really Won?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker finally got his way. His budget bill that strips collective bargaining rights from public employees is headed for his desk. Ohio Governor John Kasich will sign a similar bill. Other states are sure to follow. It’s unfortunate that the Tea party fervor and Democratic apathy in 2010 has led to this. In the back of my mind I can’t help but think, Gov. Walker may have won today, but will he win in the end?

I don’t think this move played well for Scott Walker. I think it was bad politics. As the protests continued, the Governor was losing public support. At one point polls showed the 2010 election would have had the opposite result were it held now. Walker could have been the good guy. He put up a bill and people protested. The unions agreed to concessions as long as they were allowed to keep bargaining rights. He refused to compromise. Democrats fled the state and prevented a vote. He still refused. He could have accepted a compromise and looked like a statesman and a leader to the people of Wisconsin. He didn’t. In refusing he forced himself into a corner and looked like the bad guy. Sure to the right he’s a hero. To the left he’s a villan, but what is he to the middle? That’s where he loses.

Political battles are won and lost in the middle. It’s the independents who matter. Walker could have looked like a great guy to the middle. A governor who is really ready to tackle a budget. A governor who is willing to set ideology aside to solve the problem. Now pictures of teachers standing up for their rights are all over the media, and Scott Walker is the guy who refuses to budge. John Kasich knew this was a thin line. He made a point that he wanted the signing of his bill to be low-key. The Ohio bill doesn’t reach as far as the Wisconsin bill, and Kasich still didn’t want to cause any stir.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of years. The Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations could spend as much as they wanted on political activities. That ruling also applied to unions. 2012 and 2014 could be years in which places like Wisconsin and Ohio are hotspots for union spending. The NEA, AFT, and AFSCME are all likely to be very interested in defeating politicians like Scott Walker.

Russ Feingold could be the big winner in all of this. Wisconsin took a swing to the right in the last election. I think it’s going to be swinging back and former Senator is a liberal icon in the state. If he has his eyes set on Madison, this might just be the time.

I’m an American

You may have noticed a bit of an uprising in Wisconsin the past few days.  It seems that the Governor, newly elected Republican Scott Walker, is dealing with a large budget deficit by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights. Since the last election left Republicans firmly in control of the Statehouse in Madison, the Democratic Senators left the state in protest. This action is delaying a vote on the bill.  Meanwhile, the rotunda of the Capitol has been filled with protesting public employees. The FOXNews anchors, in all their glory, have spoken against the hateful rhetoric and said it was about people trying to create chaos. Those are criticisms that were notably absent during the healthcare debate when angry citizens disrupted town hall meetings across the country. This is expected of FOXNews.  It’s their thing. Like Bing Crosby said in “White Christmas”, “Everybody’s got an angle.”

What’s got me angry about this is the new revelations of outside tampering with the situation. A group called the American Patriot Recall Coalition (Facebook page here), which despite its name does not want to recall those it sees as “American Patriots,” has filed recall petitions for some of the Senators who left the state. There are two things that are very interesting about the APRC. The first is that they are based in Salt Lake City. Yes, the Salt Lake City in Utah. Why is a group in Utah concerned with what is going on in Wisconsin? To answer that you have to look at interesting fact number two. The APRC is “non-partisan.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “non-partisan” as, “Based on, influenced by, affiliated with, or supporting the interests or policies of no single political party.” Does the APRC live up to that definition? The answer is a resounding no.They do not seem to be directly affiliated with anyone party, but a quick glance at their views shows that it is, at least, a conservative organization.

The founder and executive director of ARPC is Dan Baltes, a Utah-based lawyer. He is also the founder of “Americans Against Immigration Amnesty”, a group that is anti-immigrant at best. The real give away is a line from the APRC’s first press release that says:

“The President, Organizing for America, The Democratic National
Committee, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, other labor unions, as well as communist, Socialist and other progressive organizations have embarked on a campaign to undermine our Republic and the orderly operation of State legislatures.”

That’s forty words that boil down to, “Liberals are the Devil.” It’s no surprise that the APRC is going after only Democratic lawmakers, and one county Sheriff in Arizona who is critical of that state’s immigration policy.

The scariest characteristic that I’ve noticed about ultra-conservatives from Mr. Baltes to Michelle Bachmann to Glenn Beck, is their rampant use of hyperbole.  Glenn Beck goes on television every night like the world is ending.  He sounds like Chicken Little. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling.” If you listen to these people speak you will come away from it thinking two things. If people have brown skin they are either stealing all the good jobs, drastically increasing the price of healthcare, education, and so forth, and the government is the reason everything is horrible. Believe me EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. We just need to let business do what ever it wants, make sure the rich don’t pay any taxes (they create all the jobs you know), and everything will be fine. George W. Bush said, “You are either with us or with the terrorists.” These people have taken that statement to the extreme. That’s why Obama is a Communist (and Communist is a bad word.) That’s why liberals are the Devil. They think that if you disagree with them you are anti-American. They think they know what the Constitution says. It says government should stay out of our lives, unless you’re gay and you want to get married. It says your rights don’t matter if business doesn’t like them. It says just because you’re born here that doesn’t make you a citizen. Oh wait, we should repeal the 14th amendment so it does say that. It says, “We’re American and you’re not!” Well, I”ve got news for these people. The 1st Amendment says that you’re wrong. We all have an obligation to stand up and voice our opinions. I can say what I believe. Just because I’m not with you does not mean I support terrorism. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean that I’m less of an American. I say government can be a force of good and should help those that need it. I say gay people should be able to get married if they want to .I say Pres. Obama isn’t a Communist (and Communist isn’t a bad word.).   I say business’ interests should always take a back seat to citizen’s interest. I say if people are born in this country they should have the rights to citizenship. The 14th Amendment says so. To put it simply I say:

“I’m an American; you’re an American. Get used to it.”