February 14, 2009

Pulling People from the Union Machine

Justin Katz

The extremity of Mike Cappelli's comment about unions offers a starting point from which more tempered opinions can be considered:

Do these pigs ever acknowledge that the taxpayers are people, too? Do they ever acknowledge that their "clients" are children, too?

Dealing with these pigs is like dealing with Hamas, Justin. You just can't do it. You continue to delude yourself into thinking someway, somehow, there is a silver bullet out there to fix this problem, and you just need to find that one way to deal with these pigs.

I don't waste my time on such useless pursuits.

Mike pulls back from the direct comparison to terrorists, comparing instead the act of dealing with the group in question, but there's still an underlying difference that destroys the conclusion: Union members are not an isolated culture isolated from their fellow citizens. They are our neighbors, and the side that forgets the humanity of its opposition will ultimately fail.

Look, probably more than half of the emphasis in unions' propaganda is directed at their members, for whom questioning union tactics may lead to questioning union value. Local taxpayer groups can't be acknowledge as consisting of residents who are seeing their tax bills drive up their monthly mortgage payments, even as their employers scale back salaries; they aren't aging retirees watching their income flake away; they're "astroturf" groups, mouthing a bought-and-sold line of rhetoric funded by powerful interests from whom union members must seek protection. (In Tiverton Citizens for Change, we've taken to calling ourselves "crabgrass.") The numbers showing the disparity between union members and the people who pay their bills must be seen as spun, not factual illustrations of inequity. And so on.

The reasons that union members are susceptible to the chatter of their labor organizations are readily empathizable. Nobody ever feels as if they are compensated at their full value. Nobody fails to notice that they face sometimes uncomfortable restrictions on their spending. And yet, union members sense that they've got it good compared with their private-sector counterparts, and it's surely reasonable to fear that somebody will wash that advantage away, perhaps even with some justice.

Mike is correct to say that there is no silver bullet; no argument will prove powerful enough to shatter the illusions forged in self-interest and well-financed intellectual trickery. But inasmuch as union members can see through their glass boxes, they may be drawn out of them, into their full communities. Giving them violent images against which to react will only add layers to the walls.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I notice with interest that the commentor that finished the thread you linked was David. His comment was the most thoughtful and well constructed yet you choose to amplify comments by Mike Cappelli who refered to New Bedford firefighters as "PIGS" several times. No doubt you are in agreement with him so why not play off those comments and appear more reasonable. With the tone and tenor of most of your commentors that does not appear to involve any heavy lifting. But do not under any circumstances take on the more difficult discussions. And if all else fails just start banning people for their comments like you have just done. Maybe you have had someone throw you and your blog a few gold coins and are now dancing to their music.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 9:52 AM


Not a single one of your assumptions is accurate. I "amplified" Mike's comments to argue against them; that you take such an action as an indication that I in fact agree with Mike is illustrative of a sort of dementia (or, perhaps, of a stratagem). A sizable portion of my posts and in-comment discussion has to do with arguing against the other side.

No, we've received no "gold coins" (perhaps in part because we won't do the dance). Yes, I banned David because he slipped into vulgar insults against another contributor. I've endured them when he's pointed them my way, but I'm not going to let the practice spread to others.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 10:01 AM

Exactly right, Justin.

Mike's position is undone by the tenor and tone of his posts.

If he actually wants to make a difference instead of just mouthing off, if he wants to be EFFECTIVE, he has to figure out how to get his point across in a constructive, and not a destructive way.

Posted by: Ken Block at February 14, 2009 10:09 AM

Not to mention, Ken, that it would be conducive to Mike's own well-being to develop a more sympathetic view.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 10:31 AM

THe point is that you do not ban those that make vulgar comments. Go back and read comments of Mike and joebernstein in addition to the outrageous things that George Elbow and Mike Cappelli write on an on going basis with no action taken by you. But let a commentor who you do not agree with ideologically make a comment that is less offensive than many of those made by the ones I mentioned and you seem quick to go stone age on him. (I was going to say fascist but its so overused and may result in a very "principled" action taken against my speech).
And by the way I was not making an assumption that you received much from your beg-athon, but only asking the question.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 10:48 AM

Several factors come into play, Phil. A key one is the target: Attacking a public figure is one thing; attacking a group or concept ("unions") is another; attacking one of the hosting contributors of this particular Web site is yet another.

Generally, vulgar comments don't merit more than editing, and I'll admit that I sometimes lose track of them, given my schedule and the nature of my daily work. I'll also admit that I'm as prone to selectivity as the next person (although I do try to mitigate).

But I've banned very few people, and it's never an easy decision.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 11:00 AM

The language needs to be toned down. We certainly want to be somewhat civil. Maybe Mike should have said Hamas-like instead. I think Mike's tone is what a majority of folks feel. We are fed up of being told to shut up and pay when we have had our hours reduced, laid off, paying more for our health care, etc. These union folks need to realize that the citizens are tired of being shaken down. Times are tough, nobody is bulletproof.

Posted by: kathy at February 14, 2009 11:10 AM

"phil"-I may use vulgar language,but I stand by anything I say.I don't recall ever attacking union members or firefighters in particular.Not even teachers.I do attack the filthy scum in the ACLU and their handmaidens in the legislature.Likewise POS's like Kennedy,Whitehouse,and Reed who purport to represent this state's people.A fop,a functional idiot,and a sleazy money grubber are not what I think of as representation.
I know people like you "phil" would like to impose speech control,but you won't get to do it.
I don't consider a government run by Rahm Emanuel to be a legitimate one.No one elected that evil manipulator,but he might as well have a control switch implanted in Obama because he is making the decisions.Obama is the Medvedev and Emanuel the Putin in the USA right now.
Justin can ban me anytime it suits him-that he hasn't is his choice-I have never even met him-if someone doen't like what I say they can just go f**k off.I could care less.
It may surprise you to know that I post on RIF and haven't been banned(but I get my share of "0" ratings from offended leftists),and Matt Jerzyk
hasn't made any personal attacks on me.I won't make any on him either.I am about 180 degrees opposite from him on most issues,but I don't personalize it.I do with Steven Brown because he is a lying little scumbag just like David Cicilline.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 14, 2009 11:18 AM


You're wrong about people like me. I try to control my comments and my language but I do not want to control others. What Justin has done is exactly what you and others have sought not to occur, which is that comments that strayed into a category that Justin admits happens here has been dealt with differently in this one case. I feel passionately about certain issuses. They may be different than yours but if I used the language you do Justin would seek to use it as an excuse to get rid of my presense here.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 11:43 AM

Phil-I would hope you would not be banned for using comments like I do.I doubt it would happen.I haven't personally attacked you,Rhody,OTL,or anyone else here personally because I don't even know who you are.I will attack your ideas and opinions every time I strongly disagree.
I DO know who Steven Brown,Charles Levesque,etc are,and they are indeed public figures,so I just blast away.If you find that I've said something demonstrably untrue please enlighten me.
As far as Emanuel's control of Obama,that's waht I believe-I can't proveit and you can't disprove it,so we are at a standstill,aren't we?

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 14, 2009 11:57 AM


That is incorrect. If you made similar comments to Joe's targeted at Anchor Rising contributors, you would be banned. Public figures are another matter.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 12:09 PM


So the attack dogs can growl and snarl at your targets but not at the masters. Michael Vick would approve.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 12:50 PM

There are no attack dogs or masters, and you are free to snarl at whomever you like. Just don't bite your hosts.

Easy concept.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 12:54 PM

You're wrong. You have a political agenda that you push here. The union people that comment from time to time are also trying to advance their political ideas. To let the kind of insults rain down on them but reserve the right to exclude yourselves from far less virulent insults is what I see as your amazing hypocrisy. David used a phrase that is used over the airwaves daily when describing the thin skined contributer. You should reconsider your action. I would think better of you.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 1:52 PM

And you've given me so much reason, over the past six months, to be concerned about what you think of me!

I generally let the shots fly in both directions, by the way. Indeed, when it comes to editing, I tend to use a heavier pen against my side than the other. I'm going to insist on some basic respect for contributors, though. End of story, hypocritical or not.

Look, banning isn't a permanent state. Apologies work. I'd be surprised to receive one from David, though.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 2:08 PM


I agree with you about respect for contributers.

Posted by: Phil at February 14, 2009 3:05 PM

How did this become a commentary on Phil? Phil, if you don't like the rules here don't post. The argument that you will get kicked off for your views holds no water, you're still here. Please keep comments relative to the subject of the blog. I enjoy reading the blogs and comments but not when you act like children and quibble over nonsense.

Posted by: bobc at February 14, 2009 4:37 PM

If the day ever comes when I need Justin,or anyone else in the world to pick my targets,I better quit.
I think my anger is directed at people who just can't leave well enough alone.
Social engineering mf's who want to tell us how to live every waking moment.
I hate them.Period.I am absolutely happy to leave these jerks alone.If they can't leave the rest of us alone,there will be a price to pay,and it might be pretty high.The Obama house of cards will collapse in the near future,and as the saying goes"s**t will pick up".The honeymoon is over,if it ever existed.The next two years will decide the country's future.
I would rather be dead than live in a socialist anthill,but since my health sucks,that is not much of a statement.There are however,much healthier people who feel that same way.No slavery to Soros.Moveon.org are his storm troopers.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 14, 2009 5:41 PM

Why is Newport's long-banned and never missed Bobby O being allowed to post his ad nausueum misdirection under the name "Phil"?

Posted by: Mike at February 14, 2009 7:00 PM


I've seen no evidence that Phil is Bobby.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 7:45 PM

I've seen no evidence that Phil is Bobby.
Posted by Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 7:45 PM

Look up "Phil's" URL. I'll eat my 58 Mickey Mantle card if it's not from Newport.

Posted by: Mike at February 14, 2009 8:49 PM

Of course I meant IP number not URL.
I have the ketchup in my left hand!

Posted by: Mike at February 14, 2009 8:51 PM


Since I'm sure that card's expensive, I won't hold you to your oath, but the IP's not Newport. Not even East Bay.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 14, 2009 8:58 PM

re: Cappelli comments.
There used to be a saying at my old shop about the union-busting behavior from corporate: the actions of corporate are the best advertising our union can possibly have.
Mike's union-bashing makes a more eloquent statement about the necessity of unions in many workplaces than anything either myself or union advocates can possibly say. If you're the subject of a shrill attack like that, the chances are pretty good that you're doing something right.

Posted by: rhody at February 14, 2009 9:21 PM

I think the value in Mr. Capelli's statements are that they highlight the frustration regular, dis-connected Rhode Islanders feel about having a chunk of their hard-earned incomes re-distributed to the connected and otherwise squandered. While most of us may not express the frustration in the same manner, I think most of us can relate to it. The fact that so few are outraged is exactly why we remain in the same dire straights election after election, administration after administration.

Sand the spliters off Mr. Capelli's platform and you end up with an accurate assessment of the state of the State.

Posted by: George at February 15, 2009 9:15 PM
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