Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Union bullying empowered by Obama
Labor unions, like the United Nations, are all too often judged by what they are envisioned as being -- not by what they actually are or what they actually do.
Many people, who do not look beyond the vision or the rhetoric to the reality, still think of labor unions as protectors of working people from their employers. And union bosses still employ that kind of rhetoric. However, someone once said, "When I speak I put on a mask, but when I act I must take it off."
That mask has been coming off, more and more, especially during the Obama administration, and what is revealed underneath is very ugly, very cynical and very dangerous.
First there was the grossly misnamed "Employee Free Choice Act" that the administration tried to push through Congress. What it would have destroyed was precisely what it claimed to be promoting -- a free choice by workers as to whether or not they wanted to join a labor union.
Ever since the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, workers have been able to express their free choice of joining or not joining a labor union in a federally conducted election with a secret ballot.
As workers in the private sector have, over the years, increasingly voted to reject joining labor unions, union bosses have sought to replace secret ballots with signed documents -- signed in the presence of union organizers and under the pressures, harassments or implicit threats of those organizers.
Now that the Obama administration has appointed a majority of the members of the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB leadership has imposed new requirements that employers supply union organizers with the names and home addresses of every employee. Nor do employees have a right to decline to have this personal information given out to union organizers, under NLRB rules.
In other words, union organizers will now have the legal right to pressure, harass or intimidate workers on the job or in their own homes, in order to get them to sign up with the union. Among the consequences of not signing up is union reprisal on the job if the union wins the election. But physical threats and actions are by no means off the table, as many people who get in the way of unions have learned.
Workers who do not want to join a union will now have to decide how much harassment of themselves and their family they are going to have to put up with, if they don't knuckle under.
In the past, unions had to make the case to workers that it was in their best interests to join. Meanwhile, employers would make their case to the same workers that it was in their best interest to vote against joining.
When the unions began losing those elections, they decided to change the rules. And after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, with large financial support from labor unions, the rules were in fact changed by Obama's NLRB.
As if to make the outcome of workers' "choices" more of a foregone conclusion, the time period between the announcement of an election and the election itself has been shortened by the NLRB.
In other words, the union can spend months, or whatever amount of time it takes, for them to prepare and implement an organizing campaign beforehand -- and then suddenly announce a deadline date for the decision on having or not having a union. The union organizers can launch their full-court press before the employers have time to organize a comparable counter-argument or the workers have time to weigh their decision, while being pressured.
The last thing this process is concerned about is a free choice for workers. The first thing it is concerned about is getting a captive group of union members, whose compulsory dues provide a large sum of money to be spent at the discretion of union bosses, to provide those bosses with both personal perks and political power to wield, on the basis of their ability to pick and choose where to make campaign contributions from the union members' dues.
Union elections do not recur like other elections. They are like some Third World elections: "One man, one vote -- one time." And getting a recognized union unrecognized is an uphill struggle.
But, so long as many people refuse to see the union for what it is, or the Obama administration for what it is, this cynical and corrupt process can continue.
Romney Braces For Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy
"There will be an effort," Mitt Romney said recently, "by the, quote, vast left-wing conspiracy to work together to put out their message and attack me."
By those words, many observers thought Romney, speaking to Breitbart News, meant the press. After all, the Republican nominee is likely to face some pretty tough coverage from left-leaning outlets in the months ahead.
But Romney meant much more than the press. In fact, "vast left-wing conspiracy" refers to a set of institutions whose work helps shape the coverage that ultimately appears in the press.
That's what Breitbart questioner Larry O'Connor was trying to get at in the Romney interview. Mentioning Think Progress, a pro-Democratic war room that is part of the lefty think tank Center for American Progress, and the left-leaning media watchdog organization Media Matters, O'Connor said to Romney, "You really are going to battle with the media and these nonprofit groups who are all working together. Are you guys ready for that fight?"
"I think you're absolutely right," Romney said, noting that he's fully aware that a vast left-wing conspiracy will be arrayed against him.
In the past few months Romney aides have watched closely as Think Progress, Media Matters and others have hit the former Massachusetts governor both on important issues like jobs, taxes, the deficit and foreign policy, and also on flap-of-the-day stories like the "war on women" and Romney's dog. Accusations that originate with those organizations sometimes make their way into lefty publications like Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, and then into the bigger outlets of the establishment press.
"There is a network that seems to coordinate and push the liberal agenda, which then gets picked up by the mainstream press," says a Romney aide. "We're working to combat that."
It's a network long in the making. In 2005 I wrote a book, "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy," that traced a group of then-new liberal organizations like the Center for American Progress, MoveOn.org and the precursors of today's super PACs as they created a new style of liberal political activism. The groups used the Internet to organize supporters and push a message of the day -- or a message of the hour, or a message of the minute -- into the political conversation with aggressiveness and speed.
Some of the organizers liked to call themselves the vast left-wing conspiracy, a play on the time when Hillary Clinton, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, referred to her husband's antagonists as "a vast right-wing conspiracy." (Don't be too serious: Neither name refers to criminal conspiracies or wrongdoing.) And they based some of their ideas on older organizations they saw on the right. The Center for American Progress, for example, was modeled in part on the Heritage Foundation, and Media Matters on the conservative Media Research Center.
But the Center for American Progress, founded by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, turned into as much a war room as a think tank, spinning off Think Progress and other overtly partisan political message centers. Media Matters became a research operation indistinguishable from the Obama campaign. (In fact, its founder, right-wing-hitman-turned-left-wing-hitman David Brock, hopes to become a major Democratic super-PAC player.)
It's fair to say that in terms of purely partisan impact, the Center for American Progress and Media Matters wield more influence than their older models on the right.
Of course, they're not the only parts of the vast left-wing conspiracy. There are the traditional regions of the media, academia and Hollywood, too. For example, earlier this month the AMC series "Mad Men" featured a scene in which a character who works for 1960s-era New York Mayor John Lindsay was on the phone discussing campaign appearances. "Well, tell Jim his honor's not going to Michigan," the character says, "because (George) Romney's a clown and I don't want him standing next to him." (Mitt Romney's son Tagg had a quick response on Twitter: "Seriously, lib media mocking my dead grandpa?")
Of course, Romney has new resources on his side, too. The fact that Romney was doing an interview with Breitbart News, founded by the late conservative Web entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, is an indication that Romney will be using new right-leaning media to press his case. And conservatives are founding other organizations, like the Washington Free Beacon, that are specifically designed to try to counter the strength of the new organizations on the left.
But when Romney talks about the vast left-wing conspiracy, he's not joking.
The SPLC Fails the Intelligence Test
What do you call an organization whose so-called intelligence reports are sometimes an insult to intelligence, an organization that brands some groups “hate groups” and yet, using its own criteria, should itself be branded a hate group? You call that organization the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center). The scary thing is that many people still take them seriously.
According to the SPLC website, its quarterly magazine, the Intelligence Report, “provides comprehensive updates to law enforcement agencies, the media and the general public. It is the nation’s preeminent periodical monitoring the radical right in the U.S.”
The radical right? Well, let’s do a fact check on the Spring 2012 edition, Issue Number: 145, entitled, “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2011,” so we can find out just who this “radical right” really is. I’ll focus on the article by Ryan Lenz (with help from Evelyn Schaltter), “NARTH Becomes Main Source for Anti-Gay ‘Junk Science’,” since I spoke at a conference the article describes and since I was able to have the article reviewed by a staff person at NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality).
The article starts off with a dramatic (and hardly impartial) description: “PHOENIX: Michael Brown took the dais in a sterile Marriott ballroom last fall, beaming for the 40 or so therapists who form the devout core of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). With a hulking frame packed tightly into a three-button black suit, one of the nation’s most vociferous anti-gay activists began his speech with a dire warning.”
Well, the “hulking frame” description wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t begin the speech with “a dire warning” and there were probably 75-80 (not 40) in attendance. So, not the best start for an investigative report. As for being “one of the nation’s most vociferous anti-gay activists,” I had no idea I had achieved that status.
Moving on, here are some of the most egregious errors in the report. Describing the NARTH conference itself, the article states that, “True to form, the people speaking at that conference were not therapists promising revelations about human sexuality, but rather prominent culture warriors of the religious right, like Brown [and Sharon Slater].”
This is unmitigated nonsense. As noted by my NARTH source (and as I witnessed firsthand), Slater and I were “the only two speakers who were not clinical, research, and academic experts, not to mention the keynote presentation of Dr. Nicholas Cummings, the former President of the American Psychological Association.” Broken down by the hour, “Clinical/Research/Academic presentations = 29.25 hours (21 speakers), Policy presentations = 2.75 hours (2 speakers).”
All Lenz had to do was look at the conference program to get the facts right, but who cares about facts when you’re writing biased articles designed to advance a particular agenda? Why let truth stand in the way when your goal is to discredit people by claiming they belong to the “radical right,” along with skinheads and neo-Nazis and the like?
The article claims that, according to NARTH, “homosexuality is an unnatural deviation from normal sexual development, a form of mental disorder.” Actually, my source notes that “NARTH does not use that term [a form of mental disorder] to label homosexuality.” The best the SPLC could do was cite a 15 year-old quote from a NARTH co-founder, the late Dr. Charles Socarides, but this was simply his personal opinion and is not part of NARTH’s official statements or standards.
The article quotes (and attacks) Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute without mentioning that he has nothing to do with NARTH. But why quibble?
The article then approvingly cites gay activist Wayne Besen who claims that, “There’s no other play in the playbook except going back to the fire and brimstone.” Is he kidding? A professional counselor helping a client deal with unwanted same-sex attraction equals “fire and brimstone”? And this is part of an “intelligence report”? (I know. The term is sounding more oxymoronic by the second.)
In 2009, a conservative watchdog group ran this headline: “Prominent homosexual activists lead screaming demonstration, terrorize Boston church sponsoring ex-gay religious event.” And it was none other than Wayne Besen at the helm of this event, shouting through a bullhorn outside the church windows. And he is a trusted source for the SPLC?
Besen is also famous for his over the top, vitriolic rhetoric, yet the groups he attacks, rather than his own organization, make it onto the SPLC’s hate-group list. (To give one of the more amusing examples, in a single article, he described me as a pathological monster, a slick, sick, cynical, diabolical madman with a messiah complex, also accusing me of trying to incite a bunch of “unstable thugs [referring to Christian families in North Carolina] . . . to engage in a violent physical clash with LGBT people.”)
Returning to the SPLC article, it claimed that, in 2007, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, then the president of NARTH, “came under fire after an essay seeming to justify slavery appeared on NARTH’s website,” as a result of which “Nicolosi stepped down as NARTH president after criticism mounted, but he remains instrumental in the group.” As noted by my NARTH source, this is a “total fabrication. Nicolosi was replaced as President by Dr. Dean Byrd, Byrd by Dr. Julie Hamilton, Hamilton by Dr. Christopher Rosik, all in good order as leadership changes on a regular basis.”
But I’m out of space. What is clear is that this “intelligence report” is riddled with fabrications, falsehoods, and fallacies, which means that either the SPLC is lying through its teeth or its research is so poor that it can’t even figure out how to read a list of conference speakers.
No wonder Townhall columnist and professor of criminology Mike Adams suggested to me that a more accurate name for the Southern Poverty Law Center would be the Intellectual Poverty Law Center.
More on The tyranny of cliches by Jonah Goldberg
I reviewed the book yesterday and another good review by Jacqueline Otto has just gone up. An excerpt:
"What I most enjoyed about this book, is the subtle subplot he builds, slowly attacking the pseudo-moral-superiority that liberals enjoy in their ephemeral insipidity. Liberals generally have little use for religion in public life, hence the "separation of church and state" cliché. But when they need moral-sounding arguments for their pet projects they trot out all manner of sentiments and scriptures. We ought to care for the poor, therefore we obviously need this agency, and so on. "I'm unaware of any passages in the Hebrew or Christian bibles," Goldberg points out, "where God says that doing good to others means supporting bloated, inefficient, and often counterproductive government programs."
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Posted by JR at 1:26 AM