Markwayne Mullin, There's No Fighting In Here, This Is The War Room!

Class War
Markwayne Mullin, There's No Fighting In Here, This Is The War Room!

We keep forgetting that rightwing dipshit Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) is now a US Senator, having won the election last fall to fill out the term of retired snowball-thrower Jim Inhofe. Mullin was a ridiculous schmuck when he was in the House, bloviating about people who were too "physically fit" to be using food stamps and failing to be Rambo in Afghanistan. Now he's off to a glorious career of being ridiculous in the Senate.

During a hearing on union organizing rights yesterday in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Mullin got into a shouty hissyfit at Teamsters President Sean O'Brien, demanding that the union president "shut your mouth" and generally demonstrating why unions are very bad, since their presidents insist on not kowtowing to very important freshman Republican senators.

Committee Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) had called the hearing in hopes of building bipartisan support for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would make unionizing businesses easier, so Mullin figured some anti-union grandstanding was in order. He started out by saying he has nothing against unions, and that in fact "Some of my very good friends work for unions. They work hard and do a good job." Then they all go back to the storehouse where Republicans also keep their best Black friends for rhetorical safekeepiing.

Mullin then recalled how in the olden days of 2009, union pipefitters had tried to intimidate him and his non-union plumbing business into unionizing, and my goodness they were such thugs! Fortunately, Mullin is a man's man — a Mixed Martial Arts man's man even! — and was not afraid of getting into a fight, he told O'Brien:

"They would show up at my house. [weirdly sibilant: "housssssss" — Dok] They’d be leaning up against my trucks. I’m not afraid of a physical confrontation, in fact, sometimes, I look forward to it. And that’s not my problem. But when you’re doing that to my employees?"

The union members even picketed and chanted "shame on Mullin," as if he had anything to be ashamed of!

"'Shame on Mullin'? For what? For what? Because we were paying higher wages? Because we had better benefits, and we wasn't [sic] requiring them to pay your guys’ exorbitant salaries? You talk about CEOs that are making all this money? What do you make, Mr. O'Brien?"

O'Brien started to reply, but Mullin interrupted, saying that in 2019 O'Brien's salary was a princely $190,000, equivalent to pocket change for big companies' CEOS but still a lot of money to ordinary folks. Then Mullin started listing average pay for various jobs, and it was outrageous how O'Brien is paid anything at all since he doesn't do anything, nothing at all.

Mullin: I'll say one thing to you: What do you bring for that salary?

O'Brien: What do I bring?

Mullin: Yeah, What job have you committed, or have you, have you started? What job have you created? One job other than sucking the paycheck out of some other body, somebody else that you want to say that you’re trying to provide because you’re forcing them to pay dues.

O'Brien:No, we don't force them ...

Mullin was building up a good head of performative rage by then, and it quickly got stupider. This is where we're going to break in and give you the video, via MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes":

Sanders tried to admonish Mullin to let O'Brien answer the question, but was ignored because Mullin wanted to really belabor (haha, it is a pune, or play on words) the vast salary difference between UPS drivers' $35K a year and O'Brien's $190K in 2019.

Funny, Mullin didn't mention that UPS CEO Carol Tome's total compensation in 2021 was $27.6 million, which is rather more than the union leader's.

O'Brien: You're out of line, man.

Mullin: No, don’t tell me I’m out of line. Don’t tell me ...

O'Brien: You're out of line, you frame the statement ...

We have to wonder if O'Brien was going to mention CEO pay, with that "framing" bit, but he never got there, because Mullin started going apeshit and haranguing him. O'Brien muttered, "Oh, tough guy," yeesh it got yelly then:

Mullin: Shut your mouth!

O'Brien: Just talkin' 'bout Shaft

Mullin: We can dig it.

Oh, hold on, that's not right. More like this:

Mullin: Shut your mouth!

O'Brien: You're gonna tell me to shut my mouth?

Yes I did.

O'Brien: Tough guy! [mocking Mullin:] "I’m not afraid of physical…"

But don’t sit there and tell me I’m out of line.

banging gavel: Stop! Hammer Time! Hold it! Senator, you made the statement, you asked a question ...

I didn't ask a question!

It was at least nice of Mullin to admit he wasn't asking O'Brien for information; he was making a speech at him. Mullin and Sanders went back and forth a bit about whether it was a real question or a rhetorical one, and eventually O'Brien got the chance to talk about his actual job:

O'Brien: As far as my salary goes, my salary, if you follow me around, I walk. I actually ... look at this building. I bet I work more hours than you do. Twice as many hours as you do. That’s true.

Mullin: That's impossible.

O'Brien: That's true. [He did not say "I am your father!" after cutting off Mullin's hand with a lightsaber]

Mullin: You don't know what hard work is.

We would now like to take a short movie break, for illustrative purposes.

Again, the conversation turned to what the heck unions are even good for, apart from very dated movie references:

O'Brien: We create opportunity. [...] We hold greedy CEO’s like yourself accountable

Mullin: You’re calling me a greedy CEO?

O'Brien: Oh, yeah, you are. You want to attack my salary, I’ll attack yours. What did you make when you owned your company?

Mullin: When I made my company? I kept my salary down at about $50,000 a year because I invested every penny into it.

O'Brien: You mean you hid money?

Mullin protested that now O'Brien was out of line and demanded Sanders send him to the principal's office, and O'Brien joked, "So we're even!" But this is also where Mother Jones hops in with some facty-checky stuff. $50,000 in salary, huh?

In 2013, Mullin earned more than $600,000 from his plumbing companies, in excess of the $27,495 limit on outside earned income for congresspeople, according to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Instead of using his time to contribute to a debate about labor law, Mullin engaged in an ad hominem attack, and O’Brien gave it right back to him.

Also too, as O'Brien pointed out on Twitter, Mullin did OK when he sold his family plumbing business, when he saw his "reported assets balloon from a range of $7.3 million to $29.9 million at the end of 2020 to a range of $31.6 million to $75.6 million" in 2021.

O'Brien also tweeted another part of his testimony, discussing why unions matter:

As his rant time ran out, Mullin closed by asking O'Brien why, if he's such a friend of workers, he's against "right to work" laws, but he didn't give O'Brien a chance to answer, and that showed him!

Of course, O'Brien did discuss "right to work" laws at another point in his testimony, snarkily pointing out that they're the sole labor policy supported by half the members on the committee, and adding that they "lower wages, create substandard benefits and erode workers’ rights in every state where they’re passed."

And he didn't even brag about his willingness to fistfight anyone.

[Mediaite / CNBC / Mother Jones]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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