Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stupidity as a Strategy

If you recall the Iran-Contra affair, President Reagan was involved in the sale of arms to Iran, which was under embargo. It grew into a huge scandal, with Oliver North taking the brunt of the blame. When the Reagan was asked by the Tower Commission whether he had approved the sale, he at first admitted it, and then later said he couldn't remember having done so. If Bill Clinton had ever said that he "forgot" selling arms to our enemies, the entire country would have called bullshit on him. But with Reagan, you kind of felt that he was a kindly old gentleman, but didn't quite have it all upstairs. I could not only see him forgetting whether he sold arms to enemies, I could see him forgetting to put on his pants before a press conference.

Some of you may still recall the brilliant sketch in which Phil Hartman portrayed Ronald Reagan as a bumbling fool when the cameras were on but a sharp incisive leader when no one was around. If you're interested, here it is. Definitely worth a look, especially with Dana Carvey as Jimmy Stewart at the end.

I was reminded of this sketch after reading a comment by Norm on my post about why the UFT is "suddenly" playing dead. He said, "The UFT people are not in over their head. They know exactly what they are doing....They are colluding and collaborating...They are Vichy." At first I thought the comment a little over the top, and then I thought of this sketch about Reagan.

My point is that a lot of times during his presidency, Reagan was excusing for his bumbling mistakes because of his age. George Bush II likewise got away with murder because most people thought he was an affable idiot. Sure, he brought our country to war using trumped up intelligence, but that was the kind of foible you expected from the less-than-brilliant Bush. I can't even tell you how many times during the Reagan and Bush years I found myself saying "How can anyone so stupid be the President?" But after a while you learn to accept them and hope that you'll get something better down the road.

Now we come the the UFT and Norm's comment. How many times have you said to yourself "How can Randi Weingarten be so stupid as to agree to that?" I won't detail all of Randi's idiotic agreements as they have all been documented here and elsewhere many times. But now it's time to examine Mulgrew. How often have you asked yourself how Mulgrew could be so stupid? I'll list some of my least favorites:

How could Mulgrew have been so stupid as to:

  • Fail to endorse Thompson for mayor when the UFT's nod might have changed the outcome of the election?
  • Come to a rubber room agreement, outside of contract negotiations, that let the mayor off the hook for the situation he himself created?
  • Agree to a teacher evaluation scheme that ties test scores to teacher ratings?
  • Do all of the above without even getting the measly 4% pattern that the other unions have already gotten?
Can Mulgrew and Randi really be this stupid and gone as far as they have? I think it's a fair question. When Mulgrew got 91% of the vote in the recent election, did he view that as a mandate to take on the mayor, as he should have, or did he just realize that 91% of the union membership are just sheep who will keep putting him into office no matter what stupid thing he does next?

I think the Unity bigs and Bloomberg have the same goal: to stay in power. The mayor did that by buying a third term, and Mulgrew did it by giving the appearance of toughness. In the end, it doesn't matter to the UFT whether they get their $1000 a year from a senior teacher or a rookie. In many ways, the rookie is preferable; they are less likely to file those pesky grievances that cause work for the district reps and they are far less likely to question what the union does.

So you make the call. Reagan, Bush, and Mulgrew: Incompetent, stupid, or sheer geniuses in idiot's clothing?


reality-based educator said...

Spot on, Accountable. They know EXACTLY what they're doing.

They sent Mulgrew to my school to sell the '07 contract extension of the odious '05 contract (I work at a vocational school.)

He blustered his way through all the objections (lost days before Labor Day? Just take those days off!!! can't grieve a letter in your file anymore? don't get a letter in your file!!!)

By the end of the session three people, including myself, stood up, called him a tool and a bully and walked out.

I have felt the same way about him since. I tried to keep my mind open when he took over from Weingarten, but I knew what he was like in the past and I saw no reason why he would change now.

And the way he sounded during the teacher eval press conference reminded me EXACTLY how he sounded during the time he came to my school.

Like he doesn't give a shit about teachers, he will say and do anything to stay in power, and he is very good at bullying teachers into submission.

That's what we have seen the once he was safely elected.

And I expect we will see even more in the coming weeks. Furloughs to avert layoffs? Victory for teachers (even if it means $3000-$5000 less a year but Klein still gets to hire 10 new deputy chancellors and pay $5 million to the New Teacher Project)!!! 0% raises but no givebacks from Bloomberg like days or time or rights? Victory for teachers!!!

Yeah, he is in cahoots with Bloomberg and Klein, all right. And it's paying off big time for his Unity cronies and for him. For the rest of us, we will work longer and harder for less money after the pay cuts and salary step freezes and still have less job security and no forseeable pay raises in the future.

Heckuva job, Mulgrew!!!

ed notes online said...

I think to get perspective people should read the kahlenberg on Shanker who no one would ever claim was dumb. Kahlenberg loves Shanker. Who helped fund the book? Eli Broad.

Ask yourself why Broad - the chief ed deformer - would fund that book designed to make the ed deforms palatable.

If you don't read it all - start with Shanker's support for the Nation at Risk, through his alliance with the CLintons in Ark - did you know that he Shanker has Hillary debate Linda Hammond-Darling at the AFT convention in 1985 - Hillary was defending retesting for teachers to hold their license.

Then how Shanker and Reagan really got along on education stuff - and foreign policy. How Shanker supported just about all the stuff in preliminary form that has come about. His idea for charter schools is now talked about as him wanting to give teachers a chance to run schools but when I tried to convinve Randi to do that around 1998 she revealed the distrust she (and ShAnker too) and maybe disdain - for rank and file teachers.

Thus my point that instead of being our advocates the AFT/UFT play the part of the middleman - brokering deals to soften us up for the ed deformers. What do they get? Power and control. ANd they are let alone. No calls for end to agency shops so they get their dues.

IF CORE wins in Chicago as a militant new unionism, watch the attacks the union will undergo by political, press and even the AFT and AFL-CIO to try to undermine them.

The only way they can withstand such an assault is to have the total loyalty of the members- which requires an open and democratic union - the furthest thing from the AFT/UFT.

No these people are not dumb at all. MAybe somewhat inept in how they deal with being VIchy - and by the way. Vichy used to tell the French people how much worse it would be if they didn't cooperate with the Naziis. Their argument being - who do you prefer be in charge - at least we can try to mitigate the worst of what they want to do.

The way of thinking of the UFT/AFT is Vichy-like.

Anonymous said...

I have been begging people for years now to figure out that the UFT suits do more harm to us than the DoE.

They pull money out of our pitiful salaries to buy suits, jewelry, cars, vacations.

The UFT suits think they're "management," despise the teachers whom they live off of, rob us blind, and happily sleep with the DoE.

A federal anti-racketeering lawsuit needs to be brought against them. Each of them, including Weingarten, needs to be stripped of their monetary assets and imprisoned.

It is plain, clear, obvious if you will only evaluate what has been done to us over the years.