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Muscle, Fists, Clout



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I’m not sure anyone wrote more interestingly on Wisconsin than Charles Lane. By “Wisconsin,” I mean that whole battle surrounding public-sector unions. Lane is a writer for the Washington Post, formerly editor of The New Republic.

I’m not sure anyone is writing more interestingly about the Chicago teachers’ strike either. Here is an article called “Students are victims in Chicago fight over clout.” Students? Are students relevant when a union is acting up in the streets?

Lane writes, “I cannot describe the moral repugnance of this strike by aggrieved middle-class ‘professionals’ against the aspiring poor.” I especially appreciate those quotation marks around “professionals.” “Well, I could describe it,” Lane continues, “but only by plagiarizing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s unprintable vocabulary.”

Lane also quotes “a certain former president” on “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Bill Clinton made a crack the other day: that he was the only speaker at either political convention to speak favorably of George W. Bush.

In a different article, Lane alerted me to something I had not known about: a column by Willie Brown, who presided over the California Assembly for years (and then was mayor of San Francisco). You might not think Brown would cross the public-sector unions, rulers of California. But maybe retirement loosens the tongue and stiffens the spine? And maybe some wisdom comes with age?

I don’t know, but here is Brown, on September 2:

The world is changing. Years ago it was the likes of Southern Pacific and other big businesses calling the shots in Sacramento, and we were all highly critical of them.

These days it’s labor. That’s not the portrayal union leaders like to see in the media, but it’s the truth.

Wow. Holy-moly. By the way, I once saw Mayor Brown in a Columbus Day parade, riding in an open car. Charismatic little son-of-a-gun. Natty as Jiminy Cricket. I couldn’t help grinning and waving at him, as he grinned and waved at the rest of us.



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