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Graceless

I recently had a net-encounter that reminded me of dinner at a friend's house, back when I was in High School.

Now, see, my friend and I used to debate just about everything, often taking opposing positions just for the fun of debating them. She was fearless, at least at my house, willing to debate anybody. And mostly we hung out at my house just because the chaos factor at her house was...impressive...due to the sheer number of siblings.

But this one time I had dinner at her house, and her Dad tried to start a conversation. And I didn't pick up the clues my friend and her siblings were trying to give me. So I ended up in a solo debate with this grown man--a professional, in a profession that requires brains.

As a debate, it was disappointing long before he got up, insulting me, and insulting me again, exited the room.

What a pitiful way to end a conversation. All I could do was apologise for submitting his family to his rudeness--though, on further reflection, I decided that I must have been winning the debate for him to resort to such behavior.

And then I look at the spectacle happening in my state, with a few brave Democrats doing the only thing they could do to allow public debate, and a governor who insults them, trying to convince the world to blame them for the things he is threatening to do if they won't "behave".

Sadly, unlike internet trolls, the governor has the power to do more than sling insults.

It almost makes a person appreciate trolls.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
stryck
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Assuming you're talking about Wisconsin (unless it's Indiana)...

The Democrats are the ones that left the room, flinging insults. The debate was held, elections were held, the Republicans did what their districts elected them to do.

And now the Democrats are not doing what they were elected to do. If they stayed and put up a filibuster, you could say they were arguing their point. But they didn't. They ran and are hiding out from their jobs. Worse, they're getting paid for avoiding their work, just like the teachers who are faking being sick in order to go protest.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
You're entitled to your opinion, of course.

I live here, I have been watching this situation develop, and I think the Wisconsin Democrats are earning every penny of the paychecks they currently can't collect by doing exactly what they're doing. I'm proud of them, and thankful for them.

The news media are not covering all of the complicated and dull facts, they're showing the most "exciting" things they can find.

The Democrats could not have stayed and filibustered. All that staying could have accomplished would have been a quick vote to end debate, and a quick vote to pass the bill. It would have been over before any of the tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens who have protested in the Capitol or elsewhere in the state had a chance to even hear about the bill.

Now, the debate is happening everywhere--even in the Live Journals of people who'd rather talk about writing than politics.

As to insults--I've heard lots of insulting words from the man with the most power (the governor) and very few (if any) from the senators. (The protestors are a different story, of course.) Do you have a source for your claim that the Democratic senators left a room flinging insults, or is that your metaphor?

Walker did not debate taking away unions' bargaining rights while running for election. (He did run on other things that I think were dumb, and when he won, the Democrats conceded those things, doing things like stopping all work on high speed rail months before he took office.)

The Democratic senators are doing what they were elected to do--taking action to protect the interests of Wisconsin citizens.

I'm proud of those senators, one of whom is my own district's senator, and who decided to risk recall to give the people a chance to become a significant part of this debate. I'm glad they left and I'm glad they haven't yet come back to vote.

Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. They're fighting like Ghandi or Martin Luther King, without guns or other violence--but they are fighting, and I'm proud of them.

You're welcome to disagree, of course. I don't expect all of my friends to agree with me.
stryck
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
I was extending your metaphor. I get all my news from the internet these days (I can't stand watching "entertainment news" on TV, it's morbid), so my view of things in other places tends to be fairly dry. So, I'm sorry for letting my view of the issue cloud my view of the actions of the parties involved.

Still, both Ghandi and MLK Jr risked arrest. They stood up and faced their opponents, broke the law knowing there would be consequences. They accepted the consequences, because they knew that those who were watching would be fired up to change what had happened by the injustice being carried out. Because they accepted an unjust law, the law itself was changed to become more just.

It sickens me, the people who justify breaking the law and then not facing any penalty because "it's for a good cause". But what is the point of having any laws at all if I can break them for any reason and never face any consequences?

The Senators' actions are dishonorable, because they're avoiding their duty. Still, it's not as bad as what the protesting teachers are doing, as the Senators are, at least, not lying on official forms to squirm out of the consequences. And perhaps some of them will get the chance to justify their actions in a recall election, to see if they were really doing the people's will.

In the meantime, though, they're getting paid to not be at work. Wish I could get a job like that.
siege
Mar. 1st, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
The Wisconsin senators, I believe, do face penalties, or why would police be able to bring them back into the building to make quorum? This is why they crossed state lines, to prevent state police from doing just that.

Mitch Daniels is handling the Indiana situation much better; and Indiana's Democrats are, in fact, remaining in contact and observing the forms of negotiation in their self-imposed exile, so as to conduct business in absentia, or have it ready to conduct when they're ready to return. And I do believe that every absent legislator is giving up my week's pay for every day they are absent. Maybe that's not significant compared to the money each of them would be earning anyway, but it is still a rather large amount of money, and not the only potential penalty to be imposed.

So these people, all of them, are facing penalties, light or not. Yes, they are receiving support from their party and some constituents; that's neither here nor there, really. They are facing penalties for their actions, and still choose the action rather than a quick and easy defeat.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
I am more than a little appalled at the thought that someone arrested and dragged to the capitol in handcuffs can count toward a quorum.


siege
Mar. 2nd, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
If I recall correctly, one of the duties of the Roman magistrates or lictors (the guys who carries fasces) was to arrest Senators who refused to attend to their duty, and bring them in to work.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
I do admit, most or all of the obnoxious things people do have happened before.
(Deleted comment)
siege
Mar. 4th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
... coprism?
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
The senators in question are are doing their duty.

In response to one of your specific examples, it is my understanding that the Democratic senators have remained willing to negotiate from a distance, and I know that they have tried to conduct legislative business from that distance, including submitting amendments to bills, something they had previously been able to do while traveling. The governor has refused to accept any communications from them, and continues to refuse to use our wonderful modern technology to speak with them. That's not their fault.

Most recently, the governor decided to prevent their staff from even scanning or copying documents. That's not their fault either.

Legislators have always traveled when (in their opinion) the trip was in the interest of their constituents. This is not normally considered dereliction of duty. From what I can see, the governor is sabotaging their attempts to work effectively at the same time that he is repeatedly using his position to get free television time to denigrate his opponents.

Oh--and in the meantime, they're not getting paid. Right now it looks like they will get paid eventually, but for the moment, they have no income to offset the additional expenses of living away from home--expenses that we all know will not be approved as business expenses, whether or not we believe they should be.

You may disagree about whether my Senators' method of working for their constituents' interests is a good idea, but I have not heard anyone advance the opinion that they have some other motive for their behavior.

And it's very rude to call them dishonorable and derelict and all the other things I've heard them called when it is clear that their intent is to serve Wisconsin and its citizens as best they can.
stryck
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
But it's not clear to me that their intent is to serve all of Wisconsin's citizens equally. It seems they wish to serve the leadership of the public unions more than those whose wages go to union dues or those whose taxes go to pay the union members. The unions are running ads for their side, using money from compulsary dues which comes from paychecks funded by taxes. Guaranteed funds, unless the rules of how the dues are collected change.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
What do you base this conclusion on?

Also, if compulsory dues are the problem, why does the legislation target collective bargaining and leave the dues structure alone?
stryck
Mar. 2nd, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
It targets multiple items in the structure.

It seems no news outlet is reporting the compulsory dues, nor how they are collected in Wisconsin. I had to dig to find this resource:

http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/journal_media_detail.asp?prid=5622&locid=177

"The state’s civil service system, among the strongest in the country, would remain in place. State and local employees could continue to bargain for base pay, they would not be able to bargain over other compensation measures. Local police, fire and state patrol would be exempted from the changes. Other reforms will include state and local governments not collecting union dues, annual certification will be required in a secret ballot, and any employee can opt out of paying union dues. "

Right now, if you are a teacher in Wisconsin, you are automatically part of the union. Your dues are taken out by the state (just like your income taxes) and passed on, whatever your opinion of the matter, and there is no mechanism to vote to get rid of the union if the workers are not satisfied by their representation.

40% of the teachers may have called in sick, but what about the 60% who stayed to work? Are they all happy with the union? Don't they deserve a say?
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
Hmm...I doubt that the governmental entities have anything to do with union dues for teachers in private schools. That will bear thinking about.

I think it's totally unreasonable to assume that all or even most of the 60% of teachers who stayed at work like the bill. What they usually assume about letters (snail mail, anyway) written to governmental officials is that there are at least 10 people who agree with each letter who were too lazy to actually write. I would think that would be even more true of going out to stand in the cold in a Wisconsin winter day--much less days, or days and nights.

And there. have been protests in other Wisconsin cities too, that mostly haven't been covered by even the local press. I drove through a huge one in downtown Milwaukee that wasn't even mentioned in the local press.

If the union bosses had been abusing their power, which I admit is possible, I didn't see union or non-union people marching in the street about that here, not even in good weather. Nor do I remember my union or non-union friends complaining about the teachers' union, or the other unions of public employees.

In contrast, I do remember many of them complaining about the power and actions of the government.

Sure, both sides deserve a say. But even when a counter-demonstration at the Capitol was announced on all the TV news channels two days in advance, the pro-Walker turnout was low.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
It is good to hear from you, by the way.
stryck
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
Thank you. The baby keeps me busy! I hope to carve out some time for poetry again soon.
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Hooray for more poetry!
I do understand. Babies are like that.
(Deleted comment)
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
That particular Dad had much to apologize for, and wasn't likely to do any of the apologizing. As an adult, I wouldn't apologize either, but at the time I had never run into a grownup who behaved so poorly.

As to the governor, he has much to apologize for and I'm sure we won't hear an apologies from him either.
(Deleted comment)
wyld_dandelyon
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
He'll just repeat the same [stuff] he's been repeating already. And probably smile smugly and say, "I tried to help".

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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