Johnson replied that the union measures were actually part of the budget problem so it made sense to have the collective bargaining issue "tied together" with the budget issues. "The whole collective bargaining issue," he said, "was important in terms of bringing fiscal sanity to the state." He reminded us, of course, that it was the state's Democrats that forced the policies to be separated because they fled the state. Johnson said it was "pretty disconcerting" to have Democrats claiming that it was Wisconsin's Republicans that were thwarting democracy. "It's "pretty disconcerting the level of mob rule and thuggery that's occurring in Wisconsin. We're getting word from state senators saying 'this isn't what democracy looks like,' accusing he Republicans of not being democratic, but the fact of the matter is, what doesn't look democratic to me is the mob rule. And the fact that they simply weren't back in Madison doing their job."
That Americans' trust in government has plummeted to near-record lows isn't a surprise. After all, as the Pew Research Center documented, distrust of Washington is an American tradition, one which tends to rise and fall inversely with the economy. But the spike in anger towards the federal government, a fury which doubled to 21% since 2000, points to a potential midterm bonanza for the GOP. All of which suggests that the Republican Party whose anti-government rhetoric and incompetence in office helped kill trust in government may now be rewarded for it.
By now, the Republican recipe for badmouthing government into power should be all too familiar. First is to endlessly insist that, as Ronald Reagan famously said, "Government is the problem." Second is the self-fulfilling prophecy of bad government under Republican leadership, as the Bush recessions of 1991 and 2007, the Hurricane Katrina response, the Iraq catastrophe and the transfer of federal oversight powers to the industries being regulated all showed. Third, when the backlash from the American people inevitably comes as it did in 1992 and 2008, attack the very legitimacy of the new Democratic president they elected. Fourth, turn to the filibuster and other obstructionist tactics to block the Democratic agenda, inaction for which the incumbent majoirty will be blamed. Last, target the institutions and programs (Social Security, Medicare, the IRS) which form the underpinnings of progressive government.
Then lather, rinse and repeat.
Now, as the Pew data show, Republicans once again are proving that nothing succeeds like failure. As Pew's Andrew Kohut wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century." Congress and most agencies, Kohut reported, have suffered correspondingly steep declines in public trust:
Opinions about elected officials are particularly poor. Just 25% have a favorable opinion of Congress while 65% have an unfavorable view--the lowest favorable ratings for Congress in more than two decades of Pew Research center surveys.
Favorable ratings for federal agencies and institutions have fallen since 1997-98 for seven of 13 federal agencies included in the survey. The declines have been particularly large for the Department of Education, the Food and Drug Administration, the Social Security Administration, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As in the past, poor performance is the most persistent criticism of the federal government. But increasingly Americans say that government has the wrong priorities and that has a negative effect on their day-to-day lives. Sixty-two percent say that government policies unfairly benefit some groups, while nearly as many (56%) say that government does not do enough to help average Americans.
What if we had a weapon that could control, subdue and or disperse crowds without causing death or permanent harm? Well, according to David Martin and 60 Minutes, the Pentagon would be wary about using it in a combat arena like Iraq in favor of traditional (and lethal) methods. But we have such a weapon, one that the Pentagon has no problem demonstrating its use on groups like peace protesters. Hmmm....what are we supposed to take away from that?
Pentagon officials call it a major breakthrough which could change the rules of war and save huge numbers of lives in Iraq. But it's still not there. That because in the middle of a war, the military just can't bring itself to trust a weapon that doesn't kill.
And Rachel Maddow has an SOTU game, and you'd best arrange a cab ahead of time...
UPDATE: John Amato: Bush said that we've empowered him to make wise decisions...Did you hear the laugh track?<snark>
Looks like the same people standing and cheering. Are they seat savers? Let's see him say Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ten times in a row quickly...
I thought Dingell was Cheney sleeping...Bush said we must trust our scientists. Except when it comes to evolution I guess...When he talks about the destruction of human life, I wonder where the Iraqi people fit in?
Fascinating post by Jesse Wendel at Group News Blog regarding the kind of language the Democratic frontrunners are using to describe themselves and their campaigns:
Workers are all about competence. Why? ...Because workers sell their ability to make and keep promises. [The Worker Candidate] talks of her competence and experience, promises she will do what she's always done, and has the policy plans and papers to prove it...Clinton uses the language of a worker, the language of deep experience and competence...She tells us you can trust her judgment, knowledge and understanding, her years and years of being on the job, wisdom and training. She is no doubt genuinely baffled that anyone would choose someone who doesn't have the competency and vetting she has.
Managers aren't about declarations. Managers are about requests...[The manager candidate] requests you elect him to fix problems, lobbies for a change so he can fix the system. Edwards is an old-style Union man so even when his words are canonically declarative, if you listen carefully, what he's really doing is making a request for you to elect him because he can't deliver on his vision unless he's President.
Executives make the fundamental declarations of the enterprise: ...What business are we in? Who are we competing with? Who is our long term strategic ally? [The leader candidate] speaks in declarations, inspires, leads. ...When Obama speaks, he creates a future of an America in which all of us together will take on the troubles we know in our heart are coming and repair the damages which have occurred. Every time Obama opens his mouth, that future is more and more real. It happens AS he speaks. Obama's speaking makes it so. By declaration.
Obama is breaking out now because he speaks the language of a leader.
At YearlyKos, I met FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. He's an amazing man, but he told us something very disturbing. He thinks that the signs are out there that the FCC is getting ready to loosen media ownership rules against the will of the public. They have already done this with the internet, and Congress has not acted to remedy the problem.
A few days ago, the problem because crystal clear. AT&T censored political speech over streaming video by Pearl Jam at a concert. This was overt censorship of political speech. With the flurry of outrage, it's increasingly clear that corporate control over our media system is not only a huge problem but a well-understood problem by the public. AT&T is trying to pass this off as a simple mistake, though there's no particular reason to trust what the company has to say, and Wired is reporting that the company may also have censored political speech by the Flaming Lips and the John Butler Trio. But whether this is a mistake or not is not really important. The question is whether there should be a gatekeeper in front of what we have the right to say. And the answer to that question is obviously no.
I'm going to reprint Michael Copps's full speech below. It's a clear warning of some important regulatory changes that are underway right now at the FCC. We're going to need millions to speak out on this. Read the speech here...