Fact-checking Wisconsin (5×8 – 2/18/11)

Weighing the statements from the Wisconsin Uprising, hiring the autistic, blood sweat and chemo, the reporter who was having a stroke wasn’t having a stroke, and boys wrestling girls.


In any political struggle, the rhetoric is going to go over the top. As the Wisconsin Uprising (yeah, I’m capitalizing it) enters a 4th day, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact looks into the statements surrounding public pensions. Sen. Alberta Darling claimed that limiting Wisconsin employees to wages-only bargaining — no bargaining on benefits — is the way it is in the private sector.

False, Politifact says. Federal law protects bargaining rights for private sector employees who are in unions.:

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.”

But Gov. Scott Walker says most state employees could pay twice as much toward their health care premiums and it would still be half the national average. That’s true.

And it’s false that Wisconsin public employees earn 8 percent less than private employees, it says. That’s a factoid that has rapidly spread.

Find more here.

This morning, ABC’s Good Morning America found one of the Democrats who fled Wisconsin to stall a vote on a bill that would remove bargaining rights:

FoxNews found the governor:

Meanwhile, MPR’s Tim Nelson compares Wisconsin public pensions with Minnesota public pensions and finds that Wisconsin’s are generally more bountiful. It doesn’t mention, though, that yesterday a Minnesota legislator filed a bill to eliminate pensions for the state’s public employees. But that’s probably more of a stick-in-the-eye bill than one that has a legitimate chance; it had no co-sponsors.


In Des Moines yesterday, a young man had an opportunity to win a state wrestling title. But he would have had to wrestle a young woman who had the same goal. He refused, the Des Moines Register says.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Cassy) and (Megan Black) and their accomplishments,” Joel’s statement read. “However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.”

What would you have done?


Here’s a video of the moment of triumph:

Question: Couldn’t the young man have stood with the ref and the victor?

Should the young man in Iowa have wrestled the young woman for the state title?Market Research


A fascinating story this morning from the Pioneer Press: A presentation at 3M yesterday said as baby boomers retire, employers should consider hiring employees with some form of autism:

“You get the people who are kind of quirky, kind of different, and they’re very good at one thing,” celebrity author Temple Grandin, who has autism herself, told hundreds of attendees at 3M’s Maplewood headquarters. “Don’t try to de-geek the geek. You can’t make him something he’s not.”

Here’s a Ted Talks of hers from about a year ago:

But it looks like it’ll be a long time before the lack of people to hire will be a motivating factor to get employers to reconsider their typical hiring patters. MPR’s Paul Tosto looks at the numbers and says it’s still a buyer’s market.


Andy Thieman, a local biker, was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Christmas Eve. So he did what a lot of people do: He started chemo and wrote a blog: Blood, Sweat, & Chemo. On Sunday, a fundraiser is being held in Minneapolis


The Los Angeles TV reporter whose post-Grammy live shot sparked concern that she’d suffered a stroke is talking about what happened. “I knew something was wrong about the third word in,” Serene Branson says:

Bonus: Where did OK come from? How did it take over the world? No less an institution than the BBC tackles this one.


Wisconsin politics are in an uproar over an effort to cut benefits and limit the right of public employees to bargain collectively. Should public employees belong to unions?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: While the recession technically ended eight months ago, the economy has no clear path to a sustained recovery. How will consumer spending gain traction? What will lead companies to hire more? How will American innovation be impacted in the future?

Second hour: Much has been written about George Washington, but less is known about how George Washington’s upbringing and private life shaped his view on politics and leadership. Historian Ron Chernow’s new biography aims to change that.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Republican legislative leaders on the budget: GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean.

Second hour: Garrison Keillor, speaking this week at Concordia University in St. Paul about comedy writing.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: How would you spend money for science research?

Second hour: How games can change the world for the better.

  • Allie

    RE: The wrestling match

    By refusing to wrestle a girl because he believes it’s inappropriate touch (let’s infer he believes it’s sexually inappropriate), doesn’t that sort of imply that boys are also engaging in sexually inappropriate touch during wrestling? What’s the difference?

    It seems like a pretty rhetorically weak argument to me.

    (And let’s be honest–any boy wrestling a girl is going to much more concerned about, say, NOT LOSING TO A GIRL than he is about copping a feel or taking advantage of the opportunity to grab some boobies.)

  • Bob Moffitt

    Re: the westler from Iowa, let me first say I think that I agree with idea that “co-ed westling” is a bad idea.

    However, I find the young man’s comment on “his faith” interesting. What faith, I wonder, supports ‘combat and violence’ among boys but forbids the same between genders?

    Does this faith prohibit westling with any other kind of person? Gays? Stamp collectors? One-armed Mormons?

    I agree he — and Casey — were put in a bad situation that really had no winners. He lost a shot at the title, and she scored no victory for equality in women’s sports.

  • http://www.insidetheclassics.org Sam

    Anyone who’s ever wrestled competitively knows that there’s nothing in the world less sexually charged than a wrestling match. My high school team had a girl for a brief time, and since wrestlers are matched up by weight class, she never looked physically overmatched by her opponents.

    I came out as gay when I was 15, just before wrestling season began, and as word got around our high school league over the next year, I suddenly found myself winning a suspicious number of forfeits. This was nearly two decades ago, though – things may be quite different today.

  • http://norwegianity.wordpress.com Mark Gisleson

    For me the intergender nature of the competition takes a back seat to the question of why a home-schooled kid is being allowed to compete on a public high school team?

    Sports are a reward for kids who take ALL their classes. Home schoolers are mostly home schooled because their parents are intolerant of mainstream values and good science. (In some cases it’s a reaction to poor public schools, but that’s clearly not the case in Cedar Rapids.)

    I’m sure he’s a great kid, but he stole his spot on that squad from another kid who had to sit through real classes before being allowed to compete.

  • kennedy

    Regardless of how you feel about the wrestling issue, it is neither right nor appropriate to put school children in the position of defining public policy. Some person or organization in a position of authority should release a public statement. A lukewarm policy of “accepting” female competitors is not sufficient. If coed competition is inappropriate for a particular sport, the rules should reflect that. If coed competition is appropriate, release a clear statement that also includes consequences for forfeiting a match.

    The coach or athletic director should have made the public statement and endorsed the athlete’s position.

  • http://redlabelband.us Matt Steele

    Bob, my band Red Label will be playing at the Blood Sweat Chemo fundraiser on Sunday (but I’ll be out of town) so thanks for the plug!