Fox News Sucker Punches American Workers Every Day

The InterTubes are abuzz with a piddling story about a douchebag from Breitbart/Fox News who got what looks like a popped pimple on his forehead after confronting union protesters in Michigan.

Steven CrowderSteven Crowder, is a self-described comedian (though there is no evidence to document that) who is trying to make a name for himself by emulating faux-journalist James O’Keefe. That mission brought him to Lansing, Michigan yesterday where he somehow managed to rile up an otherwise peaceful gathering of 13,000 union protesters. One has to wonder why the only report of hostility just happened to be where Crowder was stationed with his video team.

The video Crowder later posted on line was, in the style of O’Keefe, heavily edited. The portion that showed an alleged union member swinging at Crowder was cut to exclude most of the activity prior to the altercation. However, in a longer clip that was shown on Hannity (below), it could be seen clearly that just prior to the swingfest, the union member was on the ground. There is no explanation for how he got there, such as the possibility that he had been assaulted first by Crowder and was retaliating. Crowder has repeatedly lied in saying that he was sucker-punched, because the video also clearly shows that he was facing the union member at the time the punches were thrown. And it appears that the union member was reacting with the sort of anger that someone who had just been assaulted might be feeling. Also, Crowder rushed the union member after the first punch, displaying his size advantage, but then pulled back as if he just remembered that the cameras were rolling and he had forgotten momentarily his goal of portraying the protesters as violent.

For someone who was allegedly brutalized by fiendish thugs, Crowder seemed rather giddy in his subsequent appearances on Fox News (twice in less than 24 hours). He confessed to Sean Hannity that he intentionally sought to provoke the protesters, saying with a smarmy smile…

“I went out here to prove the left for who they truly are. Certainly, these union thugs. And I’ve achieved that.”

On Fox & Friends Crowder issued a contrived macho challenge to the union member to engage in a Mixed Martial Arts match – an absurd suggestion considering that he is bigger and younger than his opponent, and trained in MMA. Crowder is scheduled for another Fox stint with Neil Cavuto tonight.

The entire demeanor of Crowder in his post-bout media tour is one of someone proud of having successfully carried out a preconceived mission to fabricate bad publicity for the workers seeking to defend their rights. This is not a game to them. They have just been sucker punched themselves by a right-wing state regime that is assaulting their jobs, their livelihoods, and their families. The Michigan governor and legislators rammed this law through without notification or public debate.

To make matters worse, Fox News, and others in the conservative mediasphere, have thrown their own sucker punches at America’s working families by promoting right-to-work (for less) laws that have been proven to result in lower wages, worse working conditions, and have never been shown to create additional jobs. Nevertheless, Fox has characterized the Michigan law as a “victory for capitalism.” They have long sought to portray union members as thugs, rather than as the families they are, struggling to support themselves in a society that permits corporations to make record profits, lavish million dollar bonuses on executives, and then whine that they have no money to fairly compensate their working-class employees.

This sort of misrepresentation and vilification of average Americans goes on daily in the right-wing press. It is emotional abuse that has to pile up over time and create anxiety and frustration. While violence is never an appropriate response to a political dispute, these occurrences have to be evaluated in the broader context of the environment that surrounds them. And when people are being attacked by their so-called representatives, and their lives are being upended by out-of-touch elitists, it is hard not to expect that tempers will flare.

That may have occurred yesterday in Lansing. Or it may be that an overzealous media whore initiated the entire affair with his own provocative behavior and hostility. Time may shed more light on the facts, but it is undeniable that working Americans are not going to give in to the corrupt bosses in executive suites and statehouses. Nor should they. Working people are the backbone of our nation and they deserve better than to be exploited by self-serving politicians and third-rate clowns acting as outside agitators.

The Real Post-Wisconsin Right-Wing Agenda: Kill The Unions

During the long and bitter recall campaign against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the Republicans insisted that their sole purpose was to cut wasteful spending and bring down government deficits. Most of the working families of Wisconsin knew that wasn’t true. Walker’s agenda was aimed squarely at collective bargaining rights that had been won over decades of hard fought negotiations. The result was a better quality of life for workers in the state, both in and out of unions.

In the past week, however, the veil has been lifted, and the anti-worker conservative’s motives are now being expressed openly and without the deceptive pretenses that characterized the pro-Walker campaign.

Kill The Unions

Immediately following the election results, the National Review’s Rich Lowry published an article with the provocative title, “All That’s ‘Left’ Is to Sound the Death Knell for Unions.” Lowry gleefully wrote of the defeat of the recall, disparagingly portraying the 1.16 million pro-recall voters as “hippie leftovers and lefty college students.” But the unadulterated focus of the article was on his notion that public sector unions were on the decline and should be abolished.

Today on Fox News Sunday, that sentiment was affirmed by Indiana mayor (and prospective Romney running mate) Mitch Daniels, who said that “I think, really, government works better without them.” That’s a little like having the CEO of General Motors express his preference for not having to deal with auto worker’s unions. Of course not. They would both prefer to be able to exploit workers and deny them reasonable benefits and working conditions without the interference of worker’s advocates.

The fact that the right is now openly declaring their intention to abolish unions indicates the confidence with which they believe they can pursue that goal. They have always wanted to go back to the days when corporations could set the rules and employees had to take it or leave it. But after the success of the movement for worker’s rights and union representation they pretended to moderate their stance and accommodate the unions. Now that facade has apparently been demolished and management factions of business and government are re-mobilizing to roll back the gains won through prior negotiations.

Lowry and Daniels, and the right-wing media that support them, had better be careful. The results of the recall in Wisconsin were not an affirmation of some general opposition to unions. And with 1.16 million voters supporting the recall (vs. 1.33 million for Walker), there is still abundant support for the rights of workers. And there is no evidence that anti-recall voters were anti-union.

Not discussed much since the election is the fact that the recall of another Republican state senator was successful, which flips the majority control of the senate to the Democrats. So clearly the hooting on behalf of giddy Republicans is premature. They are not as popular as they think they are. And now, Walker’s regressive policies will not be rubber-stamped by a GOP legislature.

But Democrats must not be complacent. The right has overtly declared war on unions. It is no longer a secret agenda hidden behind a disingenuously expressed sympathy for workers. It is out in the open and it must be countered effectively and vigorously. They have thrown down the gauntlet and it is up to the left to step up and challenge them. This is a battle we can win because, while they may have millions of dollars from vested special interests, we have the people on our side.

Sarah Palin’s Estranged Union Brothers and Sisters

Sarah PalinIn a new Facebook treatise, Sarah Palin has proven again how oblivious she is to reality.

The essay begins by criticizing President Obama for remarks he didn’t make. Palin, and much of the conservative noise machine, is aghast that Teamsters President James Hoffa, Jr. gave a speech with colorful rhetoric about “going to war” against anti-labor right-wingers and “taking out” the Tea Party “sons-of-bitches” in congress in the next election. In the post-Giffords era it is unwise to use such provocative language. But for Palin, who still defends her brazenly hostile admonition, “Don’t Retreat – Reload,” to complain about it is an Olympian feat of hypocrisy.

Then Palin begins the third paragraph with something that actually sounds reasonable:

“To the same degree Americans are concerned about irresponsible, greedy corporate execs who got cushy bonuses from taxpayer-funded bailouts…”

That’s a pretty enlightened comment from a Republican. The problem is that she and her GOP pals have never before accepted the notion that corporate execs are greedy and irresponsible, even though the American people have known it for some time. But Palin spoils the moment with the remainder of her sentence:

“…we should also be concerned about greedy union bosses who are willing to tank our economy just to protect their own power.”

Here we have a small lapse in logic in that Palin provides no evidence that union bosses are doing any such thing. And since union bosses become bosses through union elections, union members are confident that their chosen leaders are working on their behalf. And if you listen to folks like Hoffa you can always hear their passion for policies that benefit labor, as opposed to Palin’s agenda of further enriching the wealthy and powerful. Palin goes on to make the ludicrous comment that union leaders are…

“…chasing American industry offshore by making outrageous, economically illogical demands that they know will never work.”

Why would they do that? How would it help them to retain their power, which is what Palin asserts is their motive? If What Palin says is true, then union leaders could just as easily support her agenda and produce more jobs, which would produce more union dues and the loyalty of members. So once again, Palin’s critique is utterly devoid of logic.

Then Palin really goes off the rails. She makes some sort of connection between union leaders and their “politically aligned corporate friends.” Since when were union leaders and corporate honchos friends? And Palin continues into fairytale land where Obama is both a socialist and a corporatist:

“This collusion is at the heart of Obama’s economic vision for America. In practice it is socialism for the very rich and the very poor, but a brutal form of capitalism for the rest of us.”

The gist of Palin’s argument is that Obama of advocating spreading the wealth to poor people via services to prevent them from starving, becoming homeless, or dying from lack of medical care. And she also accuses him of socialist advocacy for the rich via bailouts and cutting back on regulations. Unfortunately for Palin, Obama never signed a bailout bill. That was George Bush’s baby. And as for regulations, she is trying to have it both ways by accusing Obama of giving in to the corporations on regulatory policy at the same time as she is criticizing the administration for executing too may regulations. This peculiar schizophrenia is summed up in her next paragraph:

“Ask yourself if the folks you heard demonize concerned, independent Americans [her name for Tea Baggers] yesterday really speak for the working class when they’re all too happy to burden your families with the bill to bail out the President’s friends on Wall Street.”

Really? The union bosses are happy to bail out Wall Street bankers? Since when? Where does she get this stuff? I’m beginning to get worried about her. From this bit of dementia she segues to an insinuation that Obama is guilty of graft and cronyism simply because he lived in Chicago for awhile. She provides no proof, of course. It is just the most vile brand of guilt by association, which she says “isn’t just the result of a few bad apples. It’s the nature of a skewed system.” So, according to her, everybody’s guilty.

This long-winded assault on working people, and the leaders of the union movement that supports them, is Palin’s way of endearing herself to the group. I’m afraid she is not going to have much success with that plan. American labor isn’t stupid and they know when someone is trying to use and manipulate them. They know who their champions are, as well as their enemies. And without any doubt, they know who the sons-of-bitches are who would lie to them on behalf of the corporate masters that seek only to exploit them for greater wealth. Give it up, Sarah. It isn’t gonna work.

A Hire Power: The Local Approach To Resolving The Job Crisis Nationally

Hire PowerAmerica is at a crossroads on this Labor Day. We can sit back and wait for greedy, impersonal corporations, or politicians with conflicts of interest and hyper-partisanship, to come to the rescue of middle and low-income citizens, or we can submit to a Hire Power!

About two and half years ago the United States hit a boulder in the economic road. Venerable money center banks were crushed under the weight of spurious investments and barely legal schemes. There was a broad consensus that absent some dramatic response there would be a catastrophic failure of the nation’s financial foundations which, of course, would spread throughout the world.

The markets panicked, plummeting 5,000 points (45%) from September 2008 to March 2009. Home foreclosures skyrocketed and the unemployment rate rose from 6.2% to 8.6%. In the meantime, Washington scrambled to legislate bailouts and stimuli for banks, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers, somehow neglecting to provide aid to millions of middle and low-income victims of this banking-driven disaster.

Today the Dow Jones average is back above 11,000, about where it was in September 2008, and nearly double its low. Investment firms like Goldman Sachs have fared well also. Goldman’s stock today is 150% above where it had bottomed out. Automakers like GM and Chrysler are once again profitable and paying back their government loans. And the unemployment rate has … well … it’s gotten even worse, rising to 9.1%.

So by almost every measure the economic recovery has been swift and robust with one exception: Jobs. The nation is experiencing what analysts call a “jobless” recovery. The companies that have been enjoying renewed success thanks to consumer support are still hesitant about hiring. They are hoarding their resources to either avoid new risk or to reward themselves with higher salaries and bonuses.

It’s clear that the American people cannot rely on big business to address the jobs deficit that is still burdening so many families. It’s time to take matters into our own hands. Small businesses have the power to effect a massive change in the current economic environment. Some estimates show that more than 70% of new jobs are created by small businesses. It is within that market that ordinary citizens can bypass the greedy and insensitive corporations who are only interested in enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us. They have already demonstrated that they couldn’t care less about American workers by their refusal to create new jobs, or when they do create jobs, it’s for workers in other countries.

So what can we do about It? We can promote the creation of new jobs by small business in our own communities. If small businesses with fewer than 100 employees were to commit to hiring one person – just one person – the effect on the community could be significant. Take Rhode Island, for example. The state has about 6,200 businesses with between 10 and 100 employees. If each one of them hired a single new employee, that would be 6,200 Rhode Islanders with a job that previously did not have one. It would reduce unemployment in the state by one percent. It would mean that 6,200 fewer people would be receiving unemployment benefits and other government aid. 6,200 more people would be contributing to, rather than draining, public resources.

More importantly, it would mean an additional 6,200 people would have income with which to patronize other businesses in the community. Restaurants, dry cleaners, book stores, etc., would prosper. Suppliers and manufacturers who service those businesses would see increased demand. And all of those businesses would then be able to explore hiring more people as well, continuing the cycle of prosperity.

Make no mistake about it. The right-wing myth of trickle-down economics is a proven failure. For ten years corporations have enjoyed the supposedly temporary tax cuts implemented under the Bush administration, but they have not been creating jobs. The reason is simple. Companies do not create jobs for the heck of it. Lowering their taxes or repealing regulations will not produce a single new job. After all, why would a company hire people to make more of something that they aren’t selling just because their taxes went down? Companies hire people when they have increased demand for their products or services. Increased demand occurs when consumers are buying things. So when people have good paying jobs and money in their pockets they will make purchases which will spur companies to meet the new demand by hiring more workers.

But maybe there is a way to prime the jobs pump. The goal should be to put more people to work so that they can distribute their income back into the economy. This effort may take some measure of faith on the part of the businesses who take the initial step to hire a new employee. Some businesses may not be able to fully justify a new hire. Do it anyway! The potential upside for the business and the broader economy makes it a reasonable risk. There is a sort of patriotic duty to assume such a risk on behalf of the welfare of our country. If enough of your neighbors join in, the rewards will be substantial. In the worst case scenario, you may have to let the new employee go in a few weeks or months. But at least he or she would have been employed briefly, and the cost to the business would have been negligible. It’s the sort of speculative investment that is worthwhile even if it does not guarantee a return.

On the other hand, if it does succeed, the nation’s economic health can be restored community-by-community. We can build out this program and spread it across the country. Neighbors helping neighbors. No dependence on government programs that do too little and are too difficult to implement. Medium-sized businesses can participate by hiring two or three new people. Big businesses would eventually recognize the momentum and loosen up their own purse strings to hire in even greater numbers. And the spending by all of these newly employed citizens would finance the economic rebound that everyone has been hoping for.

Does this seem too idealistic? Too fanciful and unrealistic given the harsh dimensions of our economic hardships? Let’s ask the city of Atlanta whose “Hire One Atlanta” program is already in progress and showing promising results. So far, nearly 1,500 businesses have added more than 13,000 workers. They are aiming for 150,000 jobs over the course of a year. They make a compelling argument on their web site:

“Hire one new employee and you’ll start a chain of events that can positively impact individuals and our entire economy.  According to one analyst, a single new hire can (on average) increase U.S. GDP by about $100,000. Imagine if 150,000 businesses each hired just one person.”

That’s a $15 billion boost to the economy, and that’s just in one city. Last week the city of Greensboro, North Carolina announced that they will implement a program similar to the one in Atlanta. Why not spread this across the nation and put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work? The spike in spending, investing, and consumer confidence could be just what is needed to finally bring the economic recovery to the job market. And rather than just the top 1% of the nation’s wealthy elite enjoying the benefits of a rebound, all Americans can share in a growing and healthy economy.

The best part is that all of this can be accomplished by ordinary citizens inspired by the power unleashed in the simple act of of hiring their neighbors. So let’s get started. This is what we call Hire Power!

Whose Side Are You On, Reagan Or Labor?

FYI: The headline of this article is a trick question.

In the long-running debate over government spending, Republicans have repeatedly brought up unrelated issues connected to worker’s rights and collective bargaining. GOP governors across the nation are attempting to use the economic crisis to break unions and rollback the gains that working Americans have achieved over decades of organizing with massive popular support.

However, these regressive politicians who are doing the bidding of their wealthy, corporate benefactors, have a stark disagreement with one of their professed heroes:

Let me repeat that:

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”

That’s right. None other than the sainted Ronald Reagan recognized how valuable unions are to America. This comment is more than a passive bit of pandering to working class constituents. It is an unambiguous affirmation that unions are not just a tangential group of negotiators for farmers or factory workers, but a vital institution that is a necessary component of freedom.

This should not come as too much of a surprise when considering that Reagan was the first, and only, union president (Screen Actors Guild) who ever ascended to the presidency of the United States.

Nevertheless, GOP governors have been bad-mouthing unions and their members for months (years, really). They refer to them as thugs and conjure up Mafioso imagery. They have embarked on a coordinated campaign to smear and discredit the very organizations that are standing up for our nations citizens and families, most of whom are working people, not wealthy hedge fund managers. It’s dishonest and dangerous and intended to harm average Americans.

Speaking of dangerous, the GOP governors who are mounting these attacks are represented by the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA). That’s the organization that Rupert Murdoch gave a million dollars to last year. Well, I would stay away from their web site. Norton Internet Security, a leading Internet software company that monitors web safety, reports that the RGA.org is “Unsafe” with six live computer threats.

Republican Governor's Association

The irony is delicious. The Republican governors web site is unsafe, a threat even, just as are the policies of their members.

[Update} This morning the RGA’s site status by Norton changed to “Untested.” That’s still not particularly comforting. However, it is also not nearly as accurate. The GOP’s policies have been tested and they do not work. We’ve had Bush’s tax cuts for the rich (I mean “job creators”) in place for ten years. Where are the jobs?

Rupert Murdoch: True To Form

Last May News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch attended the All Things Digital Conference and made a few headlines with his commentary on the presidential election:

[Murdoch] on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months.”

That sort of talk had some folks wondering if the old fella was growing a soul. Could the uber-rightist media monarch be ever so slightly scooting over to the left? Asked directly whether he is supporting Barack Obama (like his daughter, Elisabeth) he said:

“I’m not backing anyone, but I want to meet Obama. I want to know if he’s going to walk the walk.”

Since then, Murdoch has met Obama. It should be noted, however, that on that occasion the purpose was primarily to persuade him to appear on Fox News. It was therefore imperative that he pour on the charm while appearing to be neutral. Subsequent to achieving his goal, Murdoch is now publicly displaying his expected preference for leader of the free world (other than himself), and it’s the Republican, John McCain:

Breaking down Murdoch’s reasons for supporting McCain, it seems to be primarily an anti-Obama decision as he never overtly praises McCain. Still it is perplexing given the facts. He says that Obama will:

  • “…give us a lot of inflation.” Never mind that inflation right now is at it’s highest level since 1991. At that time 17 years ago, Bush, Sr. was just wrapping up his term in office. Like father like son.
  • “…ruin our relationships with the rest of the world.” If that does not immediately invoke guffaws given the world’s perception of America under George W. Bush, then note this poll that shows that “Obama was favoured by a four-to-one margin across the 22,500 people polled in 22 countries.” 46% said that relations would improve with an Obama win, only 20% held that view for McCain. Those numbers parallel American’s attitudes as well (46% Obama/30% McCain).
  • “…find companies leaving this country.” As if they haven’t been leaving in droves throughout the Bush years. Forrester Research projects a loss of 1.2 million jobs to foreign soil for 2008, increasing to 3.4 million by 2015.

To an objective observer the facts support precisely the opposite conclusion to which Murdoch has arrived. Nevertheless, the septuagenarian media mogul hangs unto his opinion that it is Obama, and not the Bush/McCain cabal, that threatens the nation’s future. That’s evidence of just how confined he is by his partisan worldview. He goes even further to tar Obama with the crusty old conservative slander that…

[Obama's] policy is really very, very naive, old fashioned, 1960′s socialist.”

Coming from an old fashioned, 1940′s fascist, I suppose we’ll need to take that with a pound or so of salt.

Anyone who might have thought that Murdoch’s remarks last May signaled a shift in his political ideology may now return to their senses. He is as much a right-wing propagandist as he ever was, and he isn’t shy about it either. This appearance on Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” is one of many that he has booked for himself. To underscore how peculiar that is, try to recall the last time that the CEOs of GE/NBC, Viacom/CBS, Disney/ABC, or Time Warner/CNN, appeared on their own news programs. They are rarely, if ever, guests, and certainly not even close to the frequency with which Murdoch pastes his face on his air.

This most recent booking appears to have been scheduled exclusively to disparage Obama just as the electoral momentum is shifting in his direction. The looming financial crisis has focused the campaign dialog back onto issues as opposed to personalities, and Murdoch wasn’t going to sit still for that. The trivialities and tabloidism that is Murdoch’s stock in trade just happens to advantage McCain, whose campaign relies on shallow griping about celebrities and lipstick. So he goes on Cavuto’s show, calls Obama a naive socialist, enumerates reasons to vote against him that are actually reasons to vote against McCain, and concludes the interview by plugging his new and struggling Fox Business Network.

That’s Rupert Murdoch in a nutshell: An arch-conservative, self-serving, greedy, monopolistic, liar. And always true to form.

AMPTP Gets Punked

A website satirizing the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has been launched – no doubt by some enterprising and idle writers. They commandeered the domain AMPTP.com and produced a near copy of the producers site. It is absolutely hilarious. Some excerpts:

“While we’re not going to point fingers or assign blame, we do feel justified in saying that they [the writers] are entirely at fault.”

“It is now absolutely clear that the WGA’s organazis are determined to advance their own personal ideologies, political agendas, sexual preferences, barbaric tribal customs, canine wardrobe choices, religious beliefs and blood rituals upon working writers…”

“…we’ve got enough reality shows to choke a horse. Literally – one of the shows is “Can You Choke This Horse?” And for the fall, we’re already working on “Can You Choke This Horse With the Stars?”

I hope I never have to fight these guys. They are brutal.

Dems Sign On For AMPTP Image Makeover

Just when you think the cynicism meter is off the scale, you read an article like this in the Los Angeles Times:

“Seeking to shore up its flagging public image, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has turned to veteran political advisors from both sides of the aisle to guide its public relations battle with Hollywood’s striking writers.”

It’s not particularly surprising that greedy producers want to mount a campaign to make themselves look more sympathetic to the public, but the guns they’ve hired should raise an eyebrow or two. Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane are veterans of Democratic political campaigns. Lehane has been seen recently slinging for Hillary Clinton.

What I want to know is why have Democratic consultants signed on to serve as strike breakers? This seems a bit inconsistent with the mission of a party that represents itself as worker friendly. I can’t help but wonder what Clinton and their other clients would think of this new association. But if I were a Democrat running for office, I would look elsewhere for PR advisers. And I hope the writer’s kick their butts.

Update: Lehane and Co. will pay for their betrayal. Their contracts with unions SEIU and ChangeToWin have been canceled. I don’t know what the producers are paying them, but it will have be a small fortune to make up for what they will lose on these contracts and those in the future from Democratic enterprises who will no longer do business with these strike breakers.