If you dislike rap music, mute the player.
Saturday, January 14th, 2012
…is running it into the ground. All hail the lobbyist puppeteer, Scott Wetch.
California building contractors were thrilled when waterless urinals came on the market, thinking the devices would save them a fortune in plumbing costs.
The state building code would need to be changed, but that seemed an easy sell. The fixtures would prevent billions of gallons of water from being wasted, and California’s environmental lobby could be counted on as a powerful ally.
There was one hitch. His name was Scott Wetch.
Wetch is a Sacramento lobbyist for labor unions, and urinals without water pipes would not be good for his clients in the building trades. His campaign to derail the bill shows why he is considered one of the shrewdest operators in the Capitol.
First he played the health card, arguing that mens’ rooms would become breweries for pestilence and toxic vapors.
Then he took a more direct approach, reminding Democratic lawmakers that the bill threatened a key constituency — labor — and specifically his client, the California State Pipe Trades Council and its 30,000 plumbers and pipe fitters.
Finally, he splintered his opponents by crafting a compromise designed to appease environmentalists. The revised bill, signed into law in 2007, allowed developers to install waterless urinals. But they would still have to install the pipes, just in case something went wrong.
“It’s absurd,” said Kevin Dayton, an executive at the Associated Builders and Contractors of California. “Obviously, waterless urinals are a threat to plumbers getting jobs, and, therefore, he worked to make sure the jobs would continue even as the technology changed.”
Wetch doesn’t really argue the point.
“I do whatever I can,” he said, “to give a competitive advantage to unionized employees.”
Because that’s all that matters, the people of California be damned.
You’re a well-known libertarian but had a communist phase . . .
To say I had a communist stage would put me at the level of intellectual seriousness of, say, Christopher Hitchens. I had a confused early hippie phase, which was like a cafeteria tray of sloppy, semi-Marxist thoughts, absorbed second-hand. Have you ever actually tried to read that crap? I was a communist but I would spell that with a small “k”.
Do you have a serious side?
I do, but I try to keep it under control.
Are there any topics that are beyond satire?
As I get older, all sorts of things become less funny. Once one has children, any cruelty involving children becomes far less amusing than when one was at the mercy of one’s friends’ and relatives’ children.
What do you think of the likes of The Daily Show and the Onion?
The quality of the jokes is extraordinary. We could have gone months, back in the Seventies, without generating that many good jokes.
Is satire a tool for bringing about change, or a way of blowing off steam?
The latter. Satire doesn’t effect change. The most brilliant satire of all time was A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. You’ll notice how everything got straightened out in Ireland within days of that coming out.
Does Washington have any redeeming factors?
We need a government, alas, because of the nature of humans. We [also] need the rule of law. Politics is a necessary evil, or a necessary annoyance, a necessary conundrum. [But] we need to turn as few things as possible over to it.
Are there any politicians that you like? (more…)
The Washington rap on President Obama is that he’s humorless, but that’s unfair. He may not be Jay Leno funny, but his bit Friday on reforming and reducing government was great.
There he was in the East Room, explaining that “the government we have is not the government we need.” That’s for sure, and Mr. Obama even added the Gingrichian theme that “We live in a 21st-century economy, but we’ve still got a government organized for the 20th century. Our economy has fundamentally changed—as has the world—but our government, our agencies, has not.”
Alas, the President wasn’t talking about modernizing Medicare or the entitlement state. He merely wants Congress to give him more power to reorganize the government. He says he wants his team to scrub down the executive branch looking for waste, duplication and bureaucratic complexity, and then to fast-track their proposals to Congress for an up-or-down vote within 90 days.
Mr. Obama’s first targets for such “consolidation authority” are the six agencies related to business and the world economy, from the Commerce Department to the Export-Import Bank to the U.S. Trade Representative. Maybe the White House chose to start there because, with an eye on the GOP campaign, Rick Perry wants to eliminate Commerce and a few other cabinet departments he can’t remember.
Another way of putting it is that this new emphasis on streamlining the bureaucracy is Mr. Obama’s version of the Texas Governor’s “Oops.” Having presided over the largest expansion of government since LBJ—health care, financial reregulation, spending 24% of GDP, the surge of industrial policy—Mr. Obama’s pollsters must be saying that voters have the jimmy-legs about bigger government and that he thus can’t run only as a Great Society man…
Recently, a reader wrote to ask me why anyone would spend a million dollars to become a member of Congress, a job that pays less than $200,000 a year. I explained that there were several reasons. One, they seek fame. Celebrity is a major goal for a large number of people, and not just kids who are dying to switch places with rock stars and fashion models
Two, they want to oversee fiefdoms that would have been the envy of English royals. You often see the likes of Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner striding down congressional corridors, dozens of attendants in their wake. They don’t have anywhere in particular to rush off to, they just enjoy leading parades. Too bad they can’t twirl a baton.
Three, the cost doesn’t really concern them because they’re usually spending other people’s money when they run for office. Come to think of it, that’s really all they do once they get elected. Four, thanks to insider trading, grateful lobbyists and big fat pensions, they will leave office — if they ever do — far wealthier than when they arrived.
Finally, five, they just want to do good. Whenever possible, I like to end with a joke.
If I had my way, being a congressman would be a part-time job, and it would be conducted using modern technology, conference calls and the like. The main reason they convene in Washington, D.C., is for the convenience of lobbyists. Think of it as one-stop shopping.
In his recent book, “After America,” Mark Steyn observed that America has been busy exporting its unskilled jobs while, at the same time, through encouraging invasion by illegal aliens, importing unskilled workers. As a result, America is being bled to death providing schooling, health care, food stamps and prisons, for millions of non-citizens. And those who balk at providing the uninvited with all these goodies are labeled racists. Then, to compound the problem, we have a Republican candidate for president talk about amnesty for those who have been here for 25 years. Or it might be 20 years, or maybe only five years. Or perhaps it will be a week and a half by the time President Gingrich gets around to dictating a piece of legislation.
Between the influx of illiterates and our sub-standard public schools, it seems that the collective IQ of America is declining at an alarming rate, perhaps as much as a point a year. Still, when I first heard that half of high school seniors couldn’t identify George Washington, I was shocked. Then, after a moment or two, I was shocked that I’d been shocked. After all, one merely had to see the teachers in Wisconsin using phony medical excuses in order to play hooky from the classroom and riot over their pensions to understand why I and others hold the teachers unions in such contempt. If you recall, the hypocrites in Madison even had the gall to carry signs suggesting they were doing it for the kids. I suppose if drug dealers belonged to a union, they could carry those same placards.
Speaking of hypocrites, who else but Obama, after spending the better part of the year vacationing, golfing and appearing at fund-raisers, could even think of waging his re-election campaign against a do-nothing Congress?
Back in 2008, when Obama said he’d never, in 20 years of church attendance, ever heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright say anything offensive, we naturally assumed he was lying. After all, by that time we had seen the obscene videos of Wright’s ranting against America, against the white race and against the Jews in Israel.
But, after Obama’s first three years in the White House, I think we may have leapt to the wrong conclusion. I suspect now that he wasn’t lying. After all, when a person is in complete agreement with a psychotic racist like Rev. Wright, there’s no reason he’d find those demonic sermons the least bit offensive. Wright, I’m afraid, was merely giving voice to what Obama, in his heart, already believed.
It works the same way when liberals listen to left-wing bilge spewed by the likes of Bill Maher, Joy Behar, Rachel Maddow, Alan Colmes and Ed Schultz.
On the other hand, if these lunkheads weren’t gainfully employed in the media, they would probably be dues-paying members of some teachers union, devoting their time to turning your kids into George Soros’ brand of hand puppets.