Accentuating the Positive….

Some readers may be old enough to remember the Sammy Davis Jr. hit song, the one that advised listeners to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…and don’t deal with Mister In-Between.”

I think Governor Pence took that advice too seriously.

A couple of days ago, an Indianapolis Star article trumpeted the governor’s “good news” that “From February to April, Indiana saw a .5% decline in the unemployment rate, from 5.9% to 5.4%. That’s the 5th largest decline in the nation in that time period.”

That sure was accentuating the positive. The negative–which certainly was eliminated by both the Governor and the Star’s coverage– was reported by  the Institute for Working Families, which noted that during that same time period, 18,800 Hoosiers had dropped out of the labor force.

Per Derek Thomas, senior researcher for the Institute:

As a percent of the labor force, that’s the second largest exodus from the labor market in the U.S. during that time period – just behind Wisconsin. This means that the unemployment rate decline can be explained – in part – by the number of Hoosiers leaving the labor force. Workers are only counted in the unemployment rate if they are actively seeking work. If someone finds no success in the job market, gives up the job search, and leaves the labor force, the unemployment rate goes down – but not for good reasons.

The Governor also took credit for GM’s recent decision to invest 1.2 billion dollars in upgrades to its Fort Wayne plant. During an interview on a local radio show, he attributed the decision to passage of Right to Work and repeal of the Common Wage, implying that Indiana’s efforts to neuter labor unions were the key to GM’s decision.

Ironically, not only is the GM plant unionized, but the company’s massive retooling will be done by union construction workers pursuant to precisely the sort of project labor agreement that Pence demonized in television ads this spring.

I understand accentuating the positive, but inventing the positive takes real chutzpah.

I wonder what the weather is like in the reality the Governor inhabits.


  1. Was this statement/action by Pence a recommendation from the PR firm in NYC to improve his image? Or did he come up with this on his own? How will we know which is an actual political decision by him or him following recommendations of his highly paid out-of-state PR firm? Could he find no PR firm in this state to support his efforts to improve his reputation and that of the entire state of Indiana? In the words of the King of Siam, “Is a puzzlement!”

  2. So, in Indiana it’s “invention.” It can get worse. Here in Jacksonville the new REPUBLICAN MAYOR is taking it even further it’s called “magic.”

    mag-ic (maj’ik) n. [<Gr magikos, of the Magi, ancient Persian priests] 1. the use of charms, spells, etc. in seeking or pretending to control events. 2. any mysterious power 3. the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand, etc. `Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

    What's next? God only knows.

  3. Former President of UAW Local 2209, Randy Schmidt, now retired (full disclosure: I am a charter member and former bargainer for the union as well as a friend of Randy’s) wrote a letter uncovering the Pence ridiculous claims. I append it here to set the facts, or as someone once asserted, “true truths” straight. Feel free to circulate it as you see fit.

    Yesterday, May 26, 2015, was a big day for Fort Wayne. It was also a big day for the nearly 4000 members of UAW Local 2209– the folks who made it a wise business decision for General Motors to invest $1.2 billion in upgrades to its truck assembly plant in southwest Allen County. It should also serve as a teachable moment about Economic Development strategies that actually work.

    I have had a unique ringside seat to the 30 year history of this auto plant. In April of 1986, I was one of the original 30 hourly workers brought in to help staff GM’s new state of the art robotic paint shop. By 1990, as President of UAW Local 2209, I was meeting members of the GM Board of Directors, who made the risky decision to locate the plant in a green field site south of Fort Wayne. Here are some things you should know, about the 30 year history of public and private investment in GM Fort Wayne.

    Who deserves credit for bringing GM to town? While many folks jumped on the back-slapping bandwagon, it was the fierce public relations blitz of former Fort Wayne Democratic Mayor Win Moses, armed with a very competitive list of city, county and state economic incentives, that convinced General Motors to choose our city over several other viable options. Period.

    Who deserves credit for GM’s ongoing financial commitment to Fort Wayne Assembly? Car companies make their assembly plant investment decisions based on 3 criteria: overall operating cost, product quality and ability to meet schedule deadlines. The hourly workforce of UAW Local 2209 has made this facility a national award winner in all 3 of those categories– consistently, again and again, over a period of nearly three decades.

    Who does not deserve any credit– none at all? Governor Mike Pence spent yesterday crowing about his alleged role in GM’s decision to invest in Fort Wayne. He even went so far as to boast on local AM radio, that Republican union busting laws like “right to work” and repeal of common construction wage made this all possible.

    Well– workers at GM are union workers. They make middle class wages and benefits they negotiate as members of the United Auto Workers. In a viciously competitive world wide labor market, our Fort Wayne workers’ excellence has been recognized by General Motors, over and over again. Oh, and by the way, the massive retooling and rebuilding of the GM plant will be done by union skilled construction workers– guaranteed by a project labor agreement, the sort of thing Pence spent millions demonizing in TV ads this spring.

    Oh– and let’s not forget! Former Congressman Mike Pence voted against the federal loan package that kept GM alive during the George W Bush “Great Recession” of 2008-2009. He considered it an affront to free market ideology, and instead preferred a classic bankruptcy, one that would have liquidated GM’s assets, and sold the Ft Wayne plant in pieces to the highest bidder.

    So, what have we learned? Well, first of all, American union workers are the most productive, most skilled and most reliable workers in the world. And secondly, politicians like Governor Pence don’t seem to understand the concept of public Economic Development programs. Whether it is practiced at the local, state or national level, it is always the same thing. It is a form of public economic patriotism. You know– supporting the home team. Yesterday, the home team won.

    Randy Schmidt, Allen County UAW CAP
    United Auto Workers Community Action Program

  4. Why does anyone brag about the state or federal unemployment numbers when they’re not even close to accurate. I know of at least 28 people in Indy alone who are unemployed (age discrimination), seriously underemployed (again, because of age), or working three jobs or more, all without any government assistance.

    RE Governor Pence….he and his cronies are oblivious to anyone not living in their strange little world…..that’s not the kind of leadership this state needs! Perhaps the Koch money gives him a feeling of invulnerability?

  5. Wray, I hope Randy sent his letter to all of the editors of the Fort Wayne area newspapers.

  6. P.S. Wray – Randy might consider sending copies of that letter to both Pence’s wife and his mother. The two most important women in his life should be made aware of his bald-faced lies.

  7. Let’s face it folks, we have an Indiana governor who is a knave. Not a very smart one, but a knave none-the-less.

  8. Wray; my father worked for 37 years at Chevrolet Commercial Body plant on White River Parkway in Indianapolis; it was later renamed GM Truck and Bus. He worked there during WWII; he was a proud member of UAW Local 23 from it’s inception to long after he retired, until his death in 1998. He would have been appalled that the union members allowed that plant to close. After his retirement he came here from Florida yearly and always toured the Plant and bragged to me about the incredible improvements and miraculous engineering of the machinery. He was a machinist; he walked the picket lines in dead of winter, heat of summer and years before there were even thoughts of “strike pay”. I have several family members who were union members and some WERE Republicans. Mr. Schmidt’s message needs to somehow “go viral”; it is an important message not only to union members but to all workers in this state and the country.

    One of my family members is looking into the struggle to form a nurse’s union in local hospitals; what more deserving members of the work force anywhere in this country to have a union to protect their rights, their benefits and their wages? They are about the business of saving lives and on-the-job abuses and neglect are appalling yet they stay, put in long hours in understaffed hospitals who are about their business of making money. So; here we are again, back to follow the money. There are fears of job loss if active in union organization – that is always a fear – but for those who are saving lives, this should not be a consideration as they should have the right to form their union without interference from Republicans and the 1% who owns them.

  9. All I can say is: “Take action while you can.” You can lose it.

    Yesterday, I had the call I have been waiting for, for a long time.

    Tuesday, I will be testifying in court as an expert witness on “freedom of speech.” My testimony, which will include tangible evidence, is that there isn’t any in Jacksonville without threats of retaliation, or the real thing.

  10. Sheila’s written a lot about civic literacy. I’m sure that’s a term that can be considered in more or less broad stroked ways.

    If we consider it broadly it might include knowledge that allows one to distinguish the real validity of claims by politicians. Sort of a super Snopes. A BS filter adequate to the task of coping with today’s marketing of people.

    Very little of what is said by politicians today would get through it. Especially conservative politicians.

    Until a civic literacy pill becomes available, and BS immunization becomes commonplace, the next best thing is to treat all claims as a form of entertainment.

    We are at the the beginning of the BS tsunami called a Presidential election season. People who hate our country, especially our government, and wish it was small, weak, broke, and declining will be claiming nearly miraculous accomplishments by their favorite flavor of government and utter disastrous consequences of all other flavors while in search for weak minds devoid of civic literacy. In other words they will describe powerful government to sell weak government. Powerfully good or powerfully bad.

    Their claims are as inaccurate a way to consider government as commercials are in describing their products. Useless for informed minds but a powerful aphrodisiac for those longing for entertainment.

  11. As Baby Boomer I grew up when Unions were a dominant force. I was in three different Unions during my early years. My Father was a member of a Union as was my sister. My sister grew to be disgusted by her Union as she felt, they were knuckling under to Management. I had a relative who was in a Union at a power plant. They went on strike. Incredibly, not only did other Union Workers cross the Picket Line to make deliveries, but the Company offered retired Union Workers temporary jobs during the Strike and some went back to the plant.

    I went into the Financial Industry which did not have Unions. I always bristled when I heard people tell me Unions were needed in the past, but not now. There was little to gain from arguing with them. They believed it. ( Belief as in Dogma.) They blamed Union workers for turning out shoddy cars, but seemed to forget it was management who controlled the design and means of production.

    I personally find it abhorrent that people here in the USA expect our workers to compete against Foreign State Sanctioned Sweat Shops. Most of our consumers goods are now produced off shore.

  12. Speaking of disingenuous politicians (is there another kind?):

    “You thought he was the smart Bush. You thought he was the reasonable one. You thought he was the Republican with one foot in the 21st century, the man who wasn’t going to say crazy things to win the primary voter who believes in crazy things. But you haven’t been paying attention to Jeb Bush.”

    “Yes, he was strafed from both sides for his tortured and fact-challenged explanations of the Iraq war. The fumbling is understandable: Bound by family fealty, the fraternal load of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our time, Jeb Bush can’t state the obvious.”

    “But an equally astounding, and perhaps more absurd utterance, has not received nearly as much attention — his climate change stance. Bush the youngest believes the Earth is warming. No doubt, he’s willing to go further out on a limb and conclude that heat expands, cold contracts and a dolphin is not a fish.”

    When someone says “I am not a scientist” stop listening for science. It’s not intuitive, can’t be guessed.

  13. Are you advocating tariffs, Sheila? Are you advocating caps on corporate pay?

    Have you publicly called for any market or job protections?

    If you want jobs to be created in America, or preserved in America, what are you doing about it?

  14. Yes Gopper; many entertainers recorded that song, maybe Sheila preferred Sammy’s arrangement, I did. Bing had no range and didn’t have the great voice Sammy had. The message was in the words of the song – it wasn’t a singing contest between dead people.

    Sheila is not in the business of creating jobs; she is in the business of educating people who can perform jobs with greather knowledge…if the GOP would allow the government to create any jobs. And if banks had regulations regarding loans to create businesses which would create jobs which would allow more people to be educated to perform well in the jobs…if they could afford student loans and if there were jobs to be had.

  15. Jobs are created by innovation. It’s hard to schedule. The only thing that government can do is to borrow to fund recovery from recessions. And of course cause them.

  16. Sheila, Marv, Pete, and JoAnn: You’re on it! Really on it!

    Gopper: You missed it by a mile! Maybe two!

  17. Earl, take it easy on Sheila.

    What you deceptively concealed, or perhaps just didn’t know, was that Allen/Mercer wrote the song for Bing and the Andrews Sisters for that big wartime movie hit. Bing’s version was released within weeks of Allen/Mercer.

    Sammy’s came over a decade later.

    The Mercer version does have more pop, being a Big Band record, intended for a band audience.

    Some people on here just really hate America and will stoop to any evil to try to keep from losing. JoAnn trying to tear down the great voice of America, Bing Crosby? Do some people have no shame?

  18. “if the GOP would allow the government to create any jobs.”

    Big laugh on that one.

    That makes as much sense as:

    “The Great Volcano is unhappy. Sacrifice more virgins.”

    The means are utterly unconnected to the desired end.

  19. Jo Ann and Nancy,
    Thank you. Randy’s letter has been widely circulated and covered by the local news and papers as well as Face Book. It has even turned up under someone else’s byline as their original material, but, as Randy says, “at least the word is getting out.” We just have to keep fighting the good fight. We will never be without fakers and slimebags such as Pence. All we can do is keep urging voters to vote sensibly and pray that it actually happens.

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