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I am a proud union teacher


I stand with my unionized sisters and brothers, especially in Wisconsin, but everywhere where teachers and unions are under attack.

I am the lead union representative for more than 100 teachers in my school.

Today, all across the country, teachers are blogging their support for our unionized sisters and brothers in Wisconsin, and you can follow some of the results of that at EDUSolidarity

Today I want to tell you why I am proud to be a union member as well as a teacher.

I teach my students one period a day.  We have 9, since some students take a zero period at 7:15 in the morning to squeeze in an extra course.  Most of my students are sophomores, with at least 6 courses besides mine.  I am only one of those responsible for helping them learn.

The Invisible Millions vs Deficit Terrorism

Not so long ago I distinctly recall hearing that President Obama's most trusted advisors, left behind at the White House while he made an overseas tour, reached the conclusion that the Democrats received a shellacking (not my word) in the mid-terms because they had wasted time and political capital on passing health care reform when what the country really wanted was an economic fix to create jobs. Therefore, the administration announced that jobs and the economy would be the focus in 2011.  Also, was not Virginia's Governor, a Republican, elected with the slogan "Bob for Jobs!"?  In fact, jobs was the theme pushed in most states in 2010, too, regardless of party.... wasn't it?

I confess, I must have dis-remembered (not my word, either). It seems that as soon as the polls closed, the cry of "jobs!" disappeared as if it had never been uttered; not even an echo remained. Within a nanosecond, deficit hysteria became The Immensely Serious Crisis which demanded immediate action in almost every statehouse, and most especially in Washington, D. C.  Even the Oval Office suddenly had amnesia, and began agreeing with the Republican victors flooding into Congress. When the new Republicans in Congress clamored for immediate budget cuts, even under Continuing Resolutions (CRs normally simply extend federal spending as-is until the new budget kicks in), the White House response was not "no, let's talk job creation," but "cuts? yes, yes, how much?"  

It turns out that the one-sixth of America's workers, those who either cannot find any kind of a job or who have had to accept part-time employment when they really want to work full-time, are in the same predicament as the severely wounded warrior with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome): they are ignored.  Used as an election slogan, or ostentatiously lionized for their patriotism, but then discarded once they had served the political purposes of the political class, the veterans and the permanently unemployed (sometimes actually one and the same) have become invisible. As Paul Krugman says in today's New York Times: "Washington has lost interest." Boy, was that quick---- but one has to ask Why? Why now?

Anti-Union Busting Rally

After ramming through his legislation denying most collective bargaining rights to public workers by using questionable maneuvers, and after approving actions in the Wisconsin Senate denying voting rights to recalcitrant (but returned) Democratic Senators, Governor Walker of Wisconsin and his Republican cronies deserted Wisconsin for a fund raiser in the District of Columbia, i.e., Washington, D.C. It appeared to be the action of a paid puppet running to his masters for a pat on the head, and bonus: "Good dog, job well done! Here's a treat for a good dog."

The hound and his masters had an unexpected welcome in Washington. In the lobby of the building where Walker was meeting his appreciative corporate masters, a boisterous crowd gathered to harass the self-satisfied plutocrats. It included not only Wisconsinites but a contingent from the Washington Metro area, in Solidarity. No report on whether or not the Governor and his masters even deigned to notice the protests. So far, anyway.

Public versus Private Workers in Wisconsin

One tactic used by Republican Governor Walker of Wisconsin and his corporate sponsors is a campaign to turn non-public and non-union workers against the unionized public workerss.  It has had some success, at least at first, not only with Wisoncsin workers but with the general public across the country. It is an obvious "divide and conquer" tactic, which plays on jealousy under the comforting banner of fairness, i.e., "since I had to suffer a paycut in this recession, why should I pay taxes to support the public workers? Let them suffer, too;" or "We all have to suffer to bring down the deficit;" or "Government spending is out of control; we have to protect our grandkids who will have to pay off our debt."

Listen to this interview of Frank Hammer (former President of the UAW) by Paul Jay of The Real News Network. Ask yourself: Since the recession was caused by Wall Street and the banks, it was not caused by the workers (unionized or not), why aren't Governor Walker and the Republicans enhancing revenue through taxing the big banks, Wall Street, and the super-rich perpetrators of the crash, instead of only targeting spending, and only spending on workers and the middle class at that?

It seems that, at least in Wisconsin, other workers are beginning to ask those questions, and there is speculation about calling a general strike---- first time in generations such a tactic has been used in the U. S.

Have Republicans Lost Their Minds/Are Crazy Like a Fox?

Even the most conspiracy-averse among us begin to see a pattern emerging as, in state after state, as well as in the national Congress, Republican legislators and governors come marching gleefully out of the closet, arrogantly and ruthlessly seeking to impose the most extreme demands of their corporate masters.  They seemingly no longer care whether they alienate large numbers of voters, whether it is women, minorities, workers, or even moderates. They no longer prettify their agenda, burying it under orwellian names ("Clear Sky," "deficit reduction"); in fact,  they act as if they are immune to political basklash, and pretty much are saying, like Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, "My dear, I don't give a damn."  What's really going on here?

Who Is The Enemy?

We watch the desperate citizens of Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate successfully against their resident dictators, and hope their joy is fulfilled, even as oppressed people under neighboring tyrants try to emulate them, and are slaughtered by the firepower of their own Establishments.  We have seen Greek workers and pensioners take to the streets, and even staid Englishmen and women in the UK rally against tax-cheating corporations, and against austerity programs which would be unnecessary had the corporations paid their taxes. We hear about food riots and the rising cost of food, and the threat of hyper-inflation.

Meanwhile, right here at home, we see the betrayed workers in Wisconsin fighting their ruthless Governor.  We worry about intractable unemployment and irrational anti-immigrant laws, and the steady increase in political violence, of which the Tucson shootings are only the latest example. We hear Representative Jackie Speier (D,CA) on the floor of Congress speaking eloquently against the Republican war on women.  We sign petitions against attacks on Social Security, the environment, the thievery of Wall Street, and the opening of the floodgates of corporate political spending due to the Citizens United decision. Does it not strike you that all of these battles have something in common?  That they are not isolated, local incidents, each with its own, individual backstory and provenance?

UPDATE: See above for video from Al Jazeera on revolution suppression in Libya tonight. The tyrant appears to be following the classic doctrine of using overwhelming force against the opposition.