Wisconsin is, in a sense, near-ideal terrain for a showdown with the Tea Party brand of Republicanism. The actors in the drama are overwhelmingly white, putting the raw class nature of capital’s aggressions in stark relief. With relatively few Black scapegoats to complicate the issue, white folks must confront the bare facts of the way late-stage capitalism tramples ordinary people as it careens from crisis to crisis. Or, maybe not. White supremacy is a dynamic ideology that has always been central to the domestic functions of American Exceptionalism, distorting not just race relations but all other social relations, as well. Once the foundational Nigger has been invented and given life in the public mind, with all his purported logic-bending and society-polluting defects, his characteristics can be imputed to other targeted groups – a ready-made demonization kit. Public employees in general and teachers in particular now find themselves Niggerized as lazy featherbedders, no-count malingerers, fellow travelers with welfare queens and other human malignancies that must be excised so that the free market can work its wonders. Glen Ford ☀
Nothing in this cartoon makes sense. The prank call to Walker shows that Walker has no idea what David Koch sounds like, so it’s pretty clear they don’t talk to each other. Needless to say, there’s no evidence that Koch ever suggested to Walker that Walker take on the public unions, much less that it would be “no problem” to do so. And Koch has no personal stake in the matter; he own private companies, and the fight is over public employees.
The billionaire Koch brothers played an “influential role” an overt national political campaign starting in early 2011 to end the collective bargaining rights of workers who belong to public unions. The push to bust the unions started in Wisconsin in February, 2011, and spread to other states that had newly-elected Republican governors whose campaigns had been supported by the Kochs. In a February 26, 2011 article, Andrew Stern of Reuters tied the Koch brothers and their businesses directly to the union-busting effort, saying, “Charles and David Koch, who both rank 24th on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people with $17.5 billion each, are behind campaign donations of tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republicans leading the anti-union effort.” As libertarian stalwarts, the article said, the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars since the 1960s to help destroy unions. “This is all a wave of political belief that the Kochs unquestionably have funded in various ways for years and years,” said Brian Doherty, editor of Reason Magazine, published by a think tank funded by the Kochs.
Scott Hagerstrom, executive director of the Koch-funded front group, Americans for Prosperity in a speech to attendees of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) , publicly advocated taking unions out “at the knees,” which contradicted public statements to the contrary made by Republican governors, like Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, regarding anti-union legislation being brought in state legislatures nationally. Walker has insisted unwaveringly to the public that the union-busting effort it purely an economic move designed to help bring the state out of debt.
As ThinkProgress has reported, the global conglomerate Koch Industries not only helped elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), but is the leading force orchestrating his union-busting campaign. Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent. Then, Koch political operatives pressured Walker to crush labor unions as one of his first priorities. Tim Phillips, a former lobbying partner to Jack Abramoff and current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” A Koch-financed front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has prepped Wisconsin GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative ideas.
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