MadCity Blogs

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 6:00pm

Belling Brings "Bimbo" Back Home

Uppity Wisconsin - 7 hours 44 min ago

Conservative radio talk show host Mark Belling, who has previously referred to teachers as "lunatics" and "not good people"; Hispanics as "wetbacks"; and the Milwaukee County Chairwoman as a "bitch," has a new line on his sterling resume:  He referred to a WTMJ female reporter as a "bimbo" for getting the definition of the so-called "right-to-work" legislation wrong.  

Humorously, in his mauling of Julia Fella for getting it wrong on a website, Belling corrected her with an even more egregious error on the air.   Belling repeated The Big Lie that union work places "force" workers to join and Right to Work would change all that.  

Simply not true.  

University of Wisconsin assistant professor Alexia Kulwiec recently appeared  on WORT-FM in Madison and explained that "Federal law cannot come to an agreement that forces someone to join a union."

Kulwiec continued to explain that under the current law in Wisconsin, workers in union workplaces have to pay smaller-than-normal union dues, know as "fair share."  The correctly-named "fair share" simply covers the costs that the union is spending to negotiate wages and work conditions and to represent workers in workplace disputes. 

What "Right-to-Work" does is simply allow workers to opt-out of paying "fair share" dues-- even  though  the union is still has a "duty of fair representation" and still must spend  time and resources representing and defending the "free-rider" worker that is no longer paying their "fair share" dues. 

But, let's go back to "bimbo."  It has an interesting history-- before it was a popular derogatory term exclusively aimed at women by belly-scratchers alarmed at their entrance into the workforce in the 1970s and 80s, it was a derogatory term exclusively aimed at men:  

 "stupid, inconsequential man, contemptible person"

Kudos, to Mark Belling for digging it out of the dustbin of history and bringing the term bimbo back home!

Categories: MadCity Blogs

"If you want to start taking classes at an Ivy League university unenrolled and undetected, says Guillaume Dumas, a 28-year-old Canadian, start with big lecture courses."

Althouse - 8 hours 48 min ago
"If you must sit in on a smaller seminar class, it’s important to show up consistently starting with the first session, instead of halfway through the semester. Also, one of the best alibis is that you’re enrolled as a liberal-arts student. 'That's the kind of program that's filled with everything and that you expect people to be a bit weird, a bit confused about what they do,' he says. From 2008 to 2012, Dumas claims he did stints on a number of elite North American universities—Yale, Brown, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and McGill, to name a few—sitting in on classes, attending parties, and living near campus as if he were an enrolled student. This deception may sound like a lead-up to a true-crime story, but Dumas’s exploits appear to be harmless, done in a spirit of curiosity."

From an Atlantic article by Joe Pinsker titled "The Man Who Snuck Into the Ivy League Without Paying a Thing/Guillaume Dumas attended classes, made friends, and networked on some of America's most prestigious campuses—for free. What does this say about the value of a diploma?" I went to that article because Instapundit linked to it in a way that made me want to say exactly 1 thing, but now, I want to say 10 things, and the first one is the one that Instapundit, by quoting only the title, made me want to say.

1. What it says is the class sizes are too large.

2. Sitting in on large classes was, in fact, the (obvious) trick Dumas used.

3. For smaller classes, if my name were Dumas, I'd pick French Literature.

4. The author of the article stresses the lack of need for a degree, which is good news for Scott Walker. (I'm just dragging Scott Walker into whatever I can, because that's the thing now.)

5. The author of the article never addresses the ethics of stealing what others are paying for. He's presenting it as if the payment is for the "diploma" and not for all the services provided.

6. The author has interestingly misused the word "alibi." An alibi is a defense based on your being somewhere else, which is what "alibi" literally means in Latin. Dumas needed an explanation for why he was there, not for why he wasn't there.

7. Perhaps the author first learned the word "alibi" — as I did — from The Four Seasons: "Big girls don't cry/That's just an alibi." That's not right but it rhymes:

8. Speaking of the 1960s, there was a network sitcom about what Guillaume Dumas didn't actually invent. The sitcom was called "Hank":

9. Back in the days of "Hank," we used to call somebody who was doing that a "drop-in" — slang based on "drop-out."

10. You'd think the schools would do more to prevent theft of services from drop-ins, but when they are big and when they don't rely on high-level classroom discussion from prepared and qualified students, they are asking for it.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

The UCLA student council debates whether a Jewish student is capable of serving without bias on its judicial board.

Althouse - 10 hours 5 min ago
That just happened.
The discussion, recorded in written minutes and captured on video, seemed to echo the kind of questions, prejudices and tropes — particularly about divided loyalties — that have plagued Jews across the globe for centuries, students and Jewish leaders said.ADDED: I do feel sorry for the students whose names are now connected forever with this controversy, which they worked through at the meeting and have apologized for. The link above goes to the NYT, which has put the students' names into the context of the terrible, historical wrongs of anti-Semitism, even though none of the students — from what I see in the transcript — were talking about anti-Jewish stereotypes. They were concerned about the candidate's activism on particular issues and whether there could be a conflict of interest in cases that come before the judicial board.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"Right to work" mash-up: Presenting Upton Sinclair and The Buckinghams

Uppity Wisconsin - 10 hours 19 min ago

The famous muckracking novelist Upton Sinclair had it right when he said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

He was speaking in the 1930s, another time of American economic upheaval, but Sinclair's observation very well applies to today's Wisconsin Republican Party, a bunch of ideologues and opportunists for whom facts and public sentiment don't matter as much as their own fortunes.

A more contemporary take on right-to-work comes from The Buckinghams, a great 1960s rock band from the UK, who in one of their quasi-political songs insisted upon "Our Wrong To Be Right."

The Wisconsin GOP has been busy exerting its Wrong To Be Right-To-Work. By the time you read this, the state Assembly likely will have passed the so-called "right to work" bill that Scott Walker, who not long ago said he wouldn't sign it, plans to sign Monday.

There is, as always, method to the evident Republican madness. In Walker's case, his paradoxical political stances come entirely from his presidential ambitions. In the case of state GOP lawmakers at large, it's more about just hanging on to what they've got.

You've heard all the arguments about the flaws and underlying, anti-union intent of this legislation. Republicans in theory have heard those arguments, too, and in spades, given the hundreds of individuals, groups and even hundreds of business leaders who testified against the measure in the GOP's blitzkrieg rush to enact it.

If the Republicans could only act this fast to cure the state's looming $2.2 billion budget deficit without laying waste to public education and job creation (the Walker budget actually cuts jobs). First things first! they cry. Let's kill all the unions!

Of course, Republicans really haven't heard the vast array of opposing arguments, because their livelihoods depend on not hearing them. To keep the campaign cash pipeline flowing from powerful special interests, Republicans need to pass laws that suit those interests, like right to work.

Now, because hypocrisy is not a comforting self-trait, many GOP lawmakers likely have convinced themselves of the measure's virtues, but some others merely rationalize, seeing themselves as doing what they have to do -- at your cost and mine.

Summing up his party's official view, Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) said Thursday that private-sector workers would benefit from the proposal by getting to decide whether to pay part of their wages to unions. Choice! Freedom!

Here's where Knodl's flawed logic really leads us: If you are no longer "forced" (by a voting majority of your peers) to join in paying a small portion of your salary to the union that represents everyone, you'll come out ahead financially.

That's the same argument Walker used to justify Act 10, the GOP's frontal assault on public employee unions. Sure, we're wrecking collective bargaining and cutting your pay significantly, but look at the union dues you'll save! Which is not only bad math but completely misses the point. Nothing of value is obtainable for free.

And yet, Republicans insist, Unions will be stronger after we weaken them! Because competition! Workers happy! Unions happy! Well, actually, this law will just makes hypocritical Republican lawmakers and their big-business sponsors happy.

In reality, less union membership means less union revenue from fewer workers and thus less union power. And that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and independent research, leads right-to-work states to overall lower wage structures.

Thank god Republicans can rely on conservative think tanks and their creative math to come up with countervaling arguments. It helps with the rationalization and the governmentin' and stuff.

The dissembling, self-delusion and downright misrepresentation didn't come just from Republican lawmakers.

Scrambling for voices to support this nefarious law, against the desires of many small Wisconsin business owners, the GOP managed to recruit the first and perhaps only vocal proponent among state manufacturers, the CEO and president of Badger Meter Inc., a successful tech company in Milwaukee.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Richard A. Meeusen told the Assembly hearing panel Thursday that passing right to work "would lead to a dozen more jobs at his Milwaukee firm in the near term and potentially as many as 30 to 50 more later on without a cut in wages."

He failed to explain how weakening unions statewide could possibly lead to that scenario or truly be credited to it. After all, couldn't Badger Meter hire those new workers at the same wages right now, without "right to work"? Yes it could. That's Logic 101. But "could" and "want to" are different conditions.

Meeusen went on to tell the newspaper that "there's no question that we'll begin to increase the number of union jobs right here in Milwaukee, assuming the employees we hire want to join the union."

But that's a false proposition, since right-to-work likely ensures that some of Meesuen's employees will opt out of the union. Indeed, that's the only purpose of the law. And Republicans claim it will increase jobs without hurting pay. Then again, as Mr. Sinclair foresaw, their own pay depends on them not thinking otherwise.

Here's an idea: Only a few homes catch fire, yet all of us have to pay taxes to cover the cost of our local fire department. What if I and a bunch of other residents or businesses wanted to opt out of those taxes, because we're well-insured and, well, consider ourselves lucky?

Don't laugh. In too many communities, some childless taxpayers continue to insist they shouldn't have to help pay for public schools, either. It's the same exact argument.

What today's breed of Republican doesn't -- or won't -- understand is the "tragedy of the commons," the idea that communities can only function well by sharing the burden for common tasks, like fire protection, roads and schools, and that once this sharing begins to break down, it's bad for everyone. And now with "right to work," Wisconsin, like 24 other states, is going to find out just how bad. Hang onto your wallets, folks.

Categories: MadCity Blogs

The Wisconsin state assembly debated all night on the right-to-work bill... and the vote just took place.

Althouse - 10 hours 22 min ago
Here's my assemblyperson, Terese Berceau, speaking just moments ago, as the debate that began yesterday afternoon, was coming to a close...

I took that screen shot from the live feed, which is over now, the bill having quickly passed upon coming up for its vote.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"'It is ambition,' he had written , 'that makes of a creature a real man.'"

Althouse - 11 hours 8 min ago
"Pride, embarrassment, gloating: such emotions could only hinder his progress along the road he saw so clearly before him — the 'vision' he had indeed held for so long. They were luxuries in which he would not indulge himself."

"The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson," Robert A. Caro.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

"John Roberts is charming and matinee-idol handsome, but does he stand a chance against Ruth Bader Ginsburg with her lace gloves and her questions about society offering skim-milk equality?"

Althouse - 11 hours 58 min ago
Asks Linda Hirshman in a New Republic article titled "John Roberts' Legacy Problem/Like it or not, liberal decisions are the ones that history celebrates. Just ask Notorious R.B.G."

Hirshman has this quote from Randy Barnett: "We have a media that is so uniformly Democratic, that if you’re a conservative, you’re sort of like a battered spouse... The left controls academia and the law schools and pop culture through Hollywood."

To that, Hirshman adds:
The legal profession—which holds the meetings, conferences, seminars, where so many Supreme Court justices make appearances—also skews liberal... [L]awyers as a group give more donations to the Democrats than the Republicans and to liberal causes rather than conservative causes. This pattern applies at all levels of the profession; as Barnett correctly perceived, elite law professors tend to fall way left on the political spectrum, but even big firm partners give more to D than R. And the pattern does not diminish as you move away from the experience of the Sixties. Younger lawyers actually skew more left than their elders.  Of course, judges know this. It's in their self interest, if they want to look good in history, to skew left, like the legal academics. You know, I've been here in legal academia since 1984, 9 years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg took her seat on the Supreme Court. She was a federal Court of Appeals judge then and had been since Jimmy Carter appointed her in 1980. And I can remember law professors expressing dismay that she was such a disappointment, that after her first-class women's rights advocacy as a law professor, she'd turned into such a conservative.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

Commentary On New Jersey teachers union stance on Health Benefits and Pensions

School Information System - 12 hours 20 min ago

Laura Waters:
The union is wasting its time and making leaders look like wimps by denying the ‘joint accord’ mentioned by Christie in his budget address.

“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop,” said pragmatist Herbert Stein, and the New Jersey public employee pension system appears to have hit that wall. Last week the bipartisan Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission declared that “the situation is not only getting worse, but is also fast approaching the point at which it will be beyond remedy.”

So what’s the cure for a pension system that Mark Magyar describes on this website as a “fiscal basket case?”

Categories: MadCity Blogs

NYT: "Scott Walker’s Electoral Record Is Less Impressive Than It Looks."

Althouse - 12 hours 21 min ago
The headline for this Nate Cohn column at the NYT intriguingly assumes we're already seeing something about Scott Walker, but I think the basis for the debunking is that Walker himself keeps pointing out that a blue state, Wisconsin, has elected him governor 3 times in 4 years.

Cohn has a chart comparing Walker to other candidates for governor in 2010 and 2014, the years of Walker's regular elections. (Walker also had to win in June 2012, midway through his first term, because there was a recall election.)
In neighboring and politically similar Iowa, the Republican Terry Branstad won election and re-election by a far wider margin than Mr. Walker.

To the east, in neighboring Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder won by a similar margin in a more Democratic state, even though he also picked a fight with labor.

To the south, a Republican candidate for governor won the dark-blue state of Illinois.

Farther away, Republicans won Ohio by a huge margin and carried states more Democratic than Wisconsin, like New Mexico, Maryland, Maine and Massachusetts.That is, it might not be anything so special about Walker. People in blue states might just have been hankering for Republican governance in 2010 and 2014.

Cohn branches out to senatorial preferences:
There’s even a case that Mr. Walker didn’t have the best Republican performance in Wisconsin. Ron Johnson, a self-funded political novice, managed to defeat an incumbent, Russ Feingold, by a five-point margin in 2010. Despite that showing, some analysts believe Mr. Johnson is the single most vulnerable senator of the 2016 cycle.That is, people were really leaning Republican in 2010, and you can't predict that 2016 will be another election year like that. What was going on with that 2010 senatorial election in Wisconsin? Why did Ron Johnson have "the best Republican performance in Wisconsin"? I think that was "a vote against what the Democrats have done with Congress," which is what I said on Election Day 2010. I guess in 2016, Feingold will have a "miss me yet?" argument against what the Republicans have done with Congress. But 2016, unlike 2010, is a presidential election, and our fixation on the presidency will keep us from thinking too much about Congress.

Which brings us back to Cohn. He observes that all 3 of Walker's victories came in non-presidential years, where Republicans get the advantage of lower turnout from the younger people who tend more toward Democrats. That is, Wisconsin is and remains a blue state, where Walker should lose, but elections are skewed in the off years.
Categories: MadCity Blogs

Are Prestigious Private Colleges Worth the Cost?

School Information System - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 1:42am

Douglas Belkin:
The Wall Street Journal invited three people to join in an email discussion of the issue. They are: Levi Bisonn, a senior at Olympia High School in Washington state who has applied to 13 schools, including Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington; Patty Pogemiller, the director of talent acquisition at Deloitte; and Scott Thomas, dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, who has researched opportunity in higher education.
Recruiting Edge

WSJ: Levi, the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins are both great schools but, depending on aid and scholarships, the price difference could be significant. If you were to pay full freight, Johns Hopkins would run you about twice as much. How much, if at all, will the price tag and prestige of the institution impact your decision if you get in to both schools?

Categories: MadCity Blogs

Elementary School Dumps Homework and Tells Kids to Play Instead 

School Information System - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 1:35am

Heather Holland:
A public elementary school is abolishing traditional homework assignments and telling kids to play instead — outraging parents who say they may pull their kids out of the school.

Teachers at P.S. 116 on East 33rd Street have stopped assigning take-home math worksheets and essays, and are instead encouraging students to read books and spend time with their family, according to a letter the school’s principal, Jane Hsu, sent to parents last month.

Categories: MadCity Blogs

Boys are being outclassed by girls at both school and university, and the gap is widening

School Information System - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 1:30am

The Economist:
“IT’S all to do with their brains and bodies and chemicals,” says Sir Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, a posh English boarding school. “There’s a mentality that it’s not cool for them to perform, that it’s not cool to be smart,” suggests Ivan Yip, principal of the Bronx Leadership Academy in New York. One school charges £25,000 ($38,000) a year and has a scuba-diving club; the other serves subsidised lunches to most of its pupils, a quarter of whom have special needs. Yet both are grappling with the same problem: teenage boys are being left behind by girls.

It is a problem that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Until the 1960s boys spent longer and went further in school than girls, and were more likely to graduate from university. Now, across the rich world and in a growing number of poor countries, the balance has tilted the other way. Policymakers who once fretted about girls’ lack of confidence in science now spend their time dangling copies of “Harry Potter” before surly boys. Sweden has commissioned research into its “boy crisis”. Australia has devised a reading programme called “Boys, Blokes, Books & Bytes”. In just a couple of generations, one gender gap has closed, only for another to open up.

Categories: MadCity Blogs

Addressing racial disparity in schools

School Information System - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 1:10am

Christian Schneider:
When the Madison Metropolitan School District School Board met in October of last year, members listened to teachers tell stories of being hit, bitten and kicked by students. The teachers were objecting to a new school district plan that sought to both allay the wide racial disparity in student suspensions and keep children in school for more instruction days. But teachers said the plan, which lessened punishment for many offenses that previously earned students out-of-school suspensions, was nothing short of a catastrophe.

Racial disparity in suspensions is an issue that has long plagued Wisconsin. According to a report released last week, Wisconsin ranks first in the nation in the rate of black secondary school students suspended. Previous studies have shown that in Milwaukee schools, black students represented 56% of the district’s total enrollment but made up 85% of the students who were given multiple out-of-school suspensions.

In Madison, however, the racial disparity is far more pronounced. Last year, black students made up only 18% of enrollment but comprised 59% of out-of-school suspensions. And the plan to lessen this disparity only seems to have made it worse; this year, while the total number of suspensions is down 41%, the rate of black students who earn out-of-school suspensions has risen to 64%. Further, teachers and parents alike argue that it leaves disruptive students in classrooms where they can lessen the quality of education for well-behaved students.

The Madison experiment’s problems are notable given the district’s proud status as a progressive stronghold. It would be difficult to find a district more sensitive to charges of racial insensitivity; and yet the district’s track record in dealing with black children is a near-scandal. In the 2013-’14 school year, 10% of the district’s black students were proficient in reading — that’s lower than the district’s special education students (14%) and students who speak English as a second language (19%). And this is occurring in one of the state’s wealthiest school districts.

Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

Categories: MadCity Blogs

Madison loath to admit that vouchers have an ‘educational purpose’

School Information System - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 1:05am

Chris Rickert:
From the way some of the more enthusiastic public school supporters talk, you’d think alternative forms of public education, such as voucher schools, were making millions on the backs of ill-treated kindergartners.
The vast majority of Wisconsin’s voucher schools are not-for-profit, though, and it seems unlikely that any of them is, say, forcing 8-year-olds into sweatshops or flogging them for chewing gum in class.

But you’d never know that from the Madison School District’s denial of an open records request from a pro-voucher organization on grounds that the request wasn’t education-related.

School Choice Wisconsin president Jim Bender says the “vast majority” of about 30 larger districts complied with the organization’s request for student directory data. It is considering plans to use the information to send out postcards reminding parents of the enrollment period for the statewide voucher program.

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"In one sentence I would say we are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us equally."

Althouse - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 9:43am
"Oh, if the country could be like this... This bill is a model — not just of legislation, but more importantly of how to bridge the cultural rift tearing America apart."

"We have to find a way to live together. We just can't endlessly be litigating against each other. We can't endlessly be in culture wars. If you want to know why Utah got it right, it's because they actually called a truce in the culture war."
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"Nor did the researchers find any convincing correlation between a man’s foot size..."

Althouse - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 9:25am
"... and the length of his manhood."

(What about nose size? If they found a convincing correlation, people wouldn't get so many nose jobs... or maybe there would be nose enlargements, like breast enlargements.)
Categories: MadCity Blogs