August 02, 2002

Tom Tomorrow's Quote of the Day

Tom Tomorrow's quote of the day: Senator Robert Byrd:

This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow

"Since when did the al Qaeda become our role model for labor-management relations? I thought we were out to destroy al Qaeda--not emulate them."

--Robert Byrd (as reported in the Wall Street Journal), in response to Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr., who tried to defend the administration's union-busting Homeland Security provisions by noting that "al Qaeda doesn't have a three-foot-thick" book of labor regulations.

Posted by DeLong at August 2, 2002 07:29 AM | TrackBack


Yes Robert Byrd, always do the exact opposite of what your enemy does. I for one, have been secretly naming everything I see dryb trebor (there's the dryb trebor bridge, there's the dryb trebor library, there's the dryb trebor lawn jockey). I'm sure Robert Byrd has a much better grasp on this kind of crap than I do, since I wasn't born in a log cabin without a roof in the Forest Of Poverty and I never did secretly infiltrate the KKK. Thanks Brad for pointing this stuff out.

Posted by: d Smith on August 2, 2002 08:03 AM

Hmm... Two thoughts:

(1) "Union busting"? I'd have thought turning the nation's private-sector airline secuirity workers into unionized government employees would be appreciated as a very nice bit of union expanding!

Some people are just ingrates, I guess.

(2) During the transition from war to peace at the start of WWII, George C. Marshall replaced every single operational commander in the U.S. Army. (Except Fredendall, who soon engineered the fiasco at Kasserine Pass and was then replaced by Patton, making the turnover 100%.) Of course, each of those replaced all his underlings with his own people, who did the same all the way down.

But does anyone today think all that was justified? That such painful upheaval all through the ranks, so many firings, actually improved the army's performance during war? After all, all those changes were based just on the personal opinions of Marshall and his guys about who was "better" for all those jobs -- and another word for that is "cronyism".

Maybe things would have been much fairer if the modern Democratic homeland national security labor model had been followed. We all know that all government workers -- those engaged in security matters, especially -- all try their very best. And if we are being *fair*, that's all that matters.

So to be fair, make it a practical impossibility for hard-working homeland security workers to lose their jobs or be reassigned just on some superior's arbitrary, whimsical view of "performance". And, heck, expand this principle to the military as well -- they're security workers!

Marshall was very good guy, and if he'd only had our modern insight he no doubt would have fought WWII showing much more fairness to his own army. Fredendall tried his very best too!

Posted by: Jim Glass on August 2, 2002 02:58 PM

Need we point out that most police force have been heavily unionized for decades abnd no one has pointed to a loss in their efectiveness as a result. Similarly New York City firefighters and police are likewise unionized. Those who make this argument are being disingenuose (that means they are lying folks). Actually the Armed Forces does have a better than 3 foot thick book of opersonnel practices that gpverns everything fropm pay to promotions to housing. I've seen it, its more like 16 linear feet.

Posted by: Lawrence W. Boyd on August 2, 2002 03:43 PM

Here's a particularly good bit from Marshall on how ridiculous this is.

'Imagine that Al Gore was now president and he, not George W. Bush, had sent up a proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only in the Gore proposal all employees of the DHS would get free health care insurance, dental insurance, generous long-term care coverage, and copious allowances for repetitive stress injuries.

I assume editorialists would see this for what it was: a craven and disreputable attempt to bootstrap in the Democrats' workplace policy agenda under the guise of a critical homeland security measure.'

Posted by: Jason McCullough on August 2, 2002 08:25 PM

The trouble with unions is that they interfere with the meritocratic system we have borrowed from the House of Saud. You know, show merit by being born into a rich and powerful family and by grabbing everything you can.

Posted by: peasanty on August 2, 2002 08:28 PM

Jim, please notice that, according to your post, Marshall replaced every field commander but one. Not just some, in a new unit being organized.

The corresponding activity for the Bush administration would be to remove civil service protections, whistleblower protections and FOIA from the FBI, CIA, DoD and virtually all government agencies.

In addition, I'm not sure how (almost) all of the field commanders, and their underlings *and* their underlings, all the way down, could be replaced at the start of WWII. I thought that the US Army was in fact short of officers, and that most of them got promoted rather rapidly. If they were not removed from service, then all of this replacing simply shuffled lots of people around, in some game of 'musical chairs'.

Posted by: Barry on August 3, 2002 10:01 AM

I should clarify the end of my last comment - I can see how the most senior officers could be taken out of service, but not all the way down the line.

Also, as far as my limited mind can see, the equivalent of what Marshall did would be for Bush to have fired most of his cabinet/sub-cabinet officials. I don't think that he's done this.

Posted by: Barry on August 3, 2002 03:50 PM

The civil service is not the armed service. What an absurd analogy. Unions have helped build America in wonderful ways. To undermine civil service union protections for security issues makes no sense. New York City firefighters and police officers are union members and have shown how much they have to contribute. Also Marshall only "transferred" commanders and did not change the status of or transfer other soldiers.

Posted by: JD on August 5, 2002 11:28 AM

>>During the transition from war to peace at the start of WWII, George C. Marshall replaced every single operational commander in the U.S. Army<<

This suggests without stating that by the beginning of World War 2, the entire officer corps of the US Army had turned over! Jim, would you care to rephrase this in a less monumentally misleading way?

Posted by: Daniel Davies on August 6, 2002 02:44 AM
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