Let's see . . . what's fun today?
Well, Grover Norquist calling John McCain "the nutjob from Arizona" -- and then apologizing, saying "I meant to say gun-grabbing, tax-increasing Bolshevik" -- is pretty funny. Say what you will about Norquist (I'd say that he's in the running for the title of "single most reprehensible person in American public life"), but he's always good for a quote. But he's not really a comic figure -- he's massively influential. And statements like this illustrate why McCain has a steep hill to climb if he wants the poisoned chalice of a GOP nomination in '08.
The Carpenters Union has joined the "Change to Win" faction of labor unions displeased with the current AFL-CIO leadership. Like its companions in the dissident group, the Carpenters claim that they're somehow more committed to organizing than other unions, calling the Change to Win group "the most dynamic unions in the country." But as an astute commenter on the Tasini post linked above notes, most of CTW unions -- including the Carpenters -- have lost members over the past 4 years. "The [UFCW] lost 42,000, the hotel workers 7,402, UNITE 23,400, and the Teamsters 74,000. These aren’t disastrous losses, but neither do they recommend any of the unions involved as organizing geniuses. Even the Carpenters union, which condemned the AFL-CIO for lack of organizing before abandoning the federation four years ago, lost 10,752 members." The Laborers, another CTW union, are down roughly 125,000 members since 2000, according to LM-2 forms on record with the DoL. By contrast -- of the Carpenters' and Laborers' siblings in the "basic trades" who are not part of the CTW: the Ironworkers have lost 3,000 members in the past 4 years and the Roofers have lost 500, while the OPCMIA and the Bricklayers have grown by small numbers, and the Painters have gained 26,000 members.
TNH needs a better name for this feature than "Short Takes." "Short Takes" is as generic an open thread title as "Open Thread." Your suggestions, and your other thoughts, below.