Seventy-Six Trombones and 8.2% Unemployment

This week the economic news is so grim even the media's usual qualifier "unexpected" is meaningless. We have grown to expect a stagnant economy on the rocks.  Meantime, the Obama campaign is heading into full conman territory, hoping like the Wizard of Oz that we'll just pay no attention to the pint sized amateur behind the curtain pulling the government levers.

Thomas Lipscomb in a Facebook conversation explains:

The innate optimism of Americans makes us particularly vulnerable to con men... consider the Duke and the King from Huckleberry Finn, Melville wrote a whole book on it called THE CONFIDENCE MAN... and then we have THE MUSIC MAN, John Edwards, Sweet Daddy Grace, Farrakhan, Sharpton and Jackson Madow... the list goes on and on. And yes, we are complicit in our own defrauding... But when the lights come up and the illusion dies, we ALWAYS blame our codeceiver for the total fraud.... Now Obama is finding that out,

He and his troops are fanning out in a 24/7 re-election campaign in which they hope to draw together a rag tag coalition of former supporters and scare them into showing up at the polls to keep him in office.

We had the Republicans hate women scare for ill-informed women. You know the kind who don't understand, for example, that aborting girl children because they are girls is like, you know, the ultimate sexism.

Now the pitch is to blacks and anti-capitalists. And those categories proved not co-extensive.

The Attorney General headed off to speak to black ministers ostensibly to advise them of what conduct on the part of the churches is legal. In actuality he  attempted to scare them into concerted action to get out the vote by suggesting that voter I.D. laws were no more than efforts to deprive blacks of their "sacred right" to vote.  And when Florida started purging its voting rolls  of 52,000 deceased voters and 180,000 non-citizens (undoubtedly aided in election fraud by the ill-considered Voter Motor law), he dashed off a letter to the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner demanding the state stop the clean up.  Christian Herren, chief of the Department of Justice's corrupted Civil Right Division, demanded a pledge the practice would stop. Once again, (as it did respecting Arizona) the Department of Justice sees its role as precluding states from acting to protect their citizens and to promote proper function of state operations.

The conning of blacks is to be expected, per Lipscomb:

The conmen tend to come from the last ethnic group still unmelted in the barrel... for over a century from the potato famine to JFK's election it was the Irish who gave us Curley, Daly, Tammany etc... now it is the blacks. Unmelted ethnics tend to want to believe what is being dished out by their OWN, not trusting the wider America yet which they feel still excludes them.

... keep in mind that: Con men are MOST effective in their own ethnic groups where they understand the grievances and dreams with the skill of a cultural anthropologist. The CON is constructed to use both. So John Edwards understood the poor white, Farrakhan the ghetto black, and Curley the big city Irish, and Bernie Madoff, the upwardly mobile Jew.

If Lipscomb is right, and I think he is, the black conmen will be effective in the black community. But the attacks on Bain and Romney's business acumen seem to be far less effective to a broader audience.  

To the crowd not buying the Bain "vulture capitalist" attack last week, add Patrick Deval, governor of Massachusetts who called Bain "a perfectly fine company" and former President Clinton who said Mitt Romney  had a "sterling business career."

By the end of the week, Obama seemed to be moving on another track, suggesting to his supporters that the Supreme Court might well void Obamacare and they needed to re-elect him so he could re-do the entire healthcare legislation. I think this may be his least persuasive appeal yet. Those who hate ObamaCare -- that is, the majority of voters -- are unlikely to want to see him tinkering with the subject of healthcare ever again. Those who love ObamaCare would vote for him anyway because they know he wants healthcare nationalized.

Two even more troubling developments from Obama's point of view were evident this week.

The Effective Romney Campaign Operation

Romney turns out not to be McCain. He, in fact, is showing a nimble, well-coordinated election effort, which is already setting the Obama campaign back on its heels.  Obama's campaign headed off to Massachusetts, a diehard Democrat state where the putative candidate for Senate, Elizabeth Warren, is proving an autobiographical fabulist and inept campaigner.  The idea was to attack Romney and his former role as Governor of that state.  But the Democrat turnout was light for the David Axelrod kickoff and the Romney contingent was large and vocal, forcing Axelrod off point. If that weren't enough to kill the Romney-as-terrible-executive campaign thrust, at the same time Romney gave a presser outside the shuttered Solyndra solar panel factory, the site of a monumental Obama failure at great cost to taxpayers. What better  jujitsu to reveal that Romney was the far more qualified executive?

On television, surrogates like John Sununu have struck back hard at interviewers like Soledad O'Brien  who are but arms of the Obama campaign.  No more hoping that treating these on air partisans with kid gloves will pay dividends later.

The End of the Public Employee-Democrat Machine is Nigh

Former Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson  in 1959 made Wisconsin the first state to allow public employees to unionize. The cost to the state and its citizens proved to be untenable and Governor Scott Walker  signed into law legislation substantially weakening the power of these unions.  He dug in despite the most outrageous occupation of the state capitol, personal threats, and a recall election most of which was well funded by unions who saw the writing on the wall. In contrast to publications like The Nation, which assumed Walker would lose his brave fight, he appears to be winning.  All polls I've seen indicate that he will not be recalled when the June 5  balloting takes place.

Why this is so significant is obvious. The public service employees unions win all sorts of concessions, including dues check-off from Democrat  politicians in exchange for financial and manpower campaign support.  The cost to the citizens is enormous -- there is simply no one in the negotiations representing their interests. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership--by more than half for the second-biggest union.

Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees--the state's second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers--fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme's figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.

Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.

The American Federation of Teachers reports it has lost 6,000 of 17,000 members. These losses can be expected to mount as existing contracts expire. Once that happens, as the Journal explains, under the Walker reforms the state stops withholding union dues from the employees paychecks unless the employee asks to pay them.

Is it any wonder that Obama who relied so much on support of these unions and who condemned the Walker effort, has now sidestepped the state as the election nears?  With the unions no longer in a position to garner lavish benefits for union members who must now bear a portion of their health and pension benefits, it's unlikely that many workers will voluntarily re-join them. And without that, the unions' enormous campaign chests are a thing of the past.

But the end of the corrupt bargain has been a big financial benefit to Wisconsin citizens, and governors elsewhere -- Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie -- have followed Walker's lead. So have some Democrat mayors like Obama's close ally Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

How did this corrupt bargain develop in the first place and will the Democrats survive if it ends?  James Taranto fills in the blanks.

In a fascinating essay for The American Spectator's website, Jeffrey Lord attributes the Democrats' problems (or "The Death of Liberalism," the title of Spectator editor Bob Tyrrell's new book) to a cultural shift that took place after JFK's assassination.

Lord quotes Robert Caro, biographer of Kennedy's successor: "The New Frontiersmen--casual, elegant, understated, in love with their own sophistication . . .--were a witty bunch, and wit does better when it has a target to aim at, and the huge, lumbering figure of Lyndon Johnson, with his carefully buttoned-up suits and slicked-down hair, his bellowing speeches and extravagant, awkward gestures, made an inevitable target. . . . When he mispronounced 'hors d'oeuvres' as 'whore doves,' the mistake was all over Georgetown in what seemed an instant."

Kennedy himself, Lord writes, had a healthy respect for the American people and for his vice president. But after his assassination, "the attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy's liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists--slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself":

Slowly this contempt for the American people spread to institutions that were not government, manifesting itself in a thousand different ways. It infected the media, academe and Hollywood, where stars identified with middle-America like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were eclipsed in the spotlight by leftists like Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda.

This is the attitude Roger Scruton has termed oikophobia.

Obviously a political party cannot win elections, outside of certain rarefied locales, on snob appeal alone. To have a chance at a majority, then, Democratic politicians need to give substantial numbers of ordinary people a reason to vote for them. Public-sector unions accomplish this, at the cost of making government inefficient and eventually insolvent.

Gov. Walker's reforms ought to appeal to big-government liberals as much as they do to small-government conservatives. After all, a muscular government is a lean government. In the long run, the Democratic Party could survive and even thrive without the help of government unions, as it did in the second third of the 20th century. All it would need is a serious attitude adjustment.

I'm not seeing any "serious attitude adjustment" by the Democratic Party. It seems to me only the hard pressed, unemployed and heavily indebted voters are waking up.  That may be "unexpected" only to party hacks and the press.