Right-wing media continue to pretend that dozens of conservative lawsuits challenging various provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are principled legal challenges to supposed overreach from the Obama administration. In reality, these lawsuits are radical attacks on well-established law, and have been widely rejected by both legal experts and the courts.
On November 13, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Unite Here v. Mulhall, a case that could make it even more difficult for unions to organize workers. One of the issues in the case is whether a "neutrality agreement" -- where management agrees to remain neutral during a union organizing campaign in exchange for union concessions -- is illegal under a labor statute that prohibits employers from giving unions a "thing of value."
In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal glossed over the fact that these are voluntary agreements, instead claiming that they are the result of union intimidation and collusion. Moreover, the WSJ ignored that neutrality agreements have been an increasingly useful tool for both unions and employers during organization campaigns since a wave of Republican anti-union legislation has placed obstacles between workers and union representatives and disrupted opportunities for workplace productivity.
From the November 13 WSJ editorial:
With their membership declining, unions have become more politically creative and one of their tactics has been to cut deals with management to replace bottom-up organizing on the shoproom floor. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether so-called neutrality agreements between Big Labor and business are collusion that infringes on the rights of employees.
Martin Mulhall (Unite Here v. Mulhall) is a groundskeeper at the Mardi Gras greyhound racetrack in Florida, where he has worked for 40 years. In 2004, Unite Here's Local 355 struck a deal with the company to grease the skids for unionization.
Mr. Mulhall didn't want to join a union and objected to the company entrapping him in a unionized workplace. He sued, arguing that Mardi Gras's collusion with Unite Here is forbidden by the 1947 Labor Management Relations Act, aka Taft-Hartley. Under Section 302 of that law, employers are forbidden from giving any "thing of value" to a union that wants to organize its employees.
While unions typically win only 45% of secret ballot elections, they succeed in 78% of organizing efforts using card check, when the union needs merely to collect signed cards from 50% of the work force to automatically become the monopoly bargaining agent.
If the Justices agree that Mardi Gras's concessions represent a "thing of value," organizers will have a harder time getting companies to sign off on deceptive procedures like card check. Unions will have to spend more time convincing individual workers that they can provide a service worth having. That would be a real thing of value.
WSJ also says unions who bargain for neutrality agreements somehow "intimidate" management, even though in exchange for neutrality, management is assured that the union will not strike in the event of a dispute over the agreement.
A recent Obamacare special on Fox News' Hannity illuminated the network's political bias, pattern of misinformation, and questionable use of anecdotal evidence, brought to light when a former adviser to Montana's governor fact-checked the special and found that not one of the show's guests--who lamented the horrors of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on air--had directly suffered from the law or even visited the insurance exchange. Hannity's reliance on guests who condemned Obamacare due to existing political bias demonstrates Fox News' habit of misinforming on the ACA and raises serious questions about the credibility of other guests that have recounted the "consequences" of the law.
On October 11, Fox News aired a Hannity special, which attempted to misinform on the ACA by hosting six guests who recounted their alleged "'Obamacare' horror stories." After watching the special, Eric Stern, former senior adviser to Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, tracked down the guests and found that not one of them had been negatively impacted by the new health care law. Stern detailed his investigation in an October 18 article for Salon:
First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C. He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can't grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.
Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? "Well," he said, "I haven't been forced to do so, it's just that I've chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs." What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he'd call me back. He never did.
In an April 23 Salon.com blog post, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich responded to Bill O'Reilly for labeling him a Communist who "secretly adores Karl Marx." Reich stated: "For the record, I'm not a Communist and I don't secretly adore Karl Marx."
Reich added that ad hominem attacks such as these are destructive to public discourse and are merely "the last refuges of intellectual boors lacking any logic or argument."
From Reich's post:
For the record, I'm not a communist and I don't secretly adore Karl Marx.
Ordinarily I don't bother repeating anything Bill O'Reilly says. But this particular whopper is significant because it represents what O'Reilly and Fox News, among others, are doing to the national dialogue.
They're burying it in doo-doo.
O'Reilly based his claim on an interview I did last week with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, in which I argued that because America's big corporations were now global we could no longer rely on them to make necessary investments in human capital or to lobby for public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D. So, logically, government has to step in.
Since when does an argument for public investment in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D make someone a communist or a secret adorer of Karl Marx?
But obviously, O'Reilly has no interest in arguing anything. Ad hominem attacks are always the last refuges of intellectual boors lacking any logic or argument.
This is what's happening to all debate all over America: It's disappearing. All we're left with is a nasty residue.
In Washington, Democrats and Republicans no longer even talk. They just vent charges and counter-charges.
Reich's whole piece is well worth a read.
With birther conspiracy theory claims about President Obama again being hyped by the right-wing media, Media Matters looks at the myths and falsehoods surrounding Obama's birth certificate.
Right-wing media have attacked the Obama administration over the civilian court trial of Ahmed Ghailani, suggesting that testimony by a "key witness" excluded by the civilian court would have been admissible in a military commission and resulted in further convictions against Ghailani. But numerous legal experts--including the federal judge presiding over Ghailani's case--have argued that a military commission would have also likely excluded this testimony.
On Sunday, I noted that several journalists have criticized the Washington Post for the failure of its "Top Secret America" articles to acknowledge prior reporting by other news organizations. Though the Post, including its ombudsman, has responded to conservative complaints about the series, it has not responded to this criticism, which has largely come from liberal journalists.
Now, Salon editor Joan Walsh points out that the Post's reporting on problems at Arlington National Cemetery has ignored prior reporting by Salon, and notes that the Post's failure to acknowledge Salon's reporting is not just rude, but deprives readers of valuable information.
In a July 25 Salon.com post, Joan Walsh noted that Fox News is hyping "one 'scary black people' and 'Obama's a racist' story after another" and wrote: "Fox News has, sadly, become the purveyor of a 50-state 'Southern strategy,' the plan perfected by Richard Nixon to use race to scare Southern Democrats into becoming Republicans by insisting the other party wasn't merely trying to fight racism, but give blacks advantages over whites (Fox News boss Roger Ailes, of course, famously worked for Nixon)."
Walsh further noted of Fox News' and Andrew Breitbart's role in smearing Shirley Sherrod: "They should be ashamed of themselves, but they're shameless."
From Walsh's post:
The most important point is this: Fox News has, sadly, become the purveyor of a 50-state "Southern strategy," the plan perfected by Richard Nixon to use race to scare Southern Democrats into becoming Republicans by insisting the other party wasn't merely trying to fight racism, but give blacks advantages over whites (Fox News boss Roger Ailes, of course, famously worked for Nixon). Now Fox is using the election of our first black president to scare (mainly older) white people in all 50 states that, again, the Democratic party is run by corrupt black people trying to give blacks advantages over whites (MSNBC's Rachel Maddow laid out this history last week).
Politico's Michael Calderone reports this morning that, Alexander Zaitchik who "wrote a multi-part series for Salon looking at the life of Glenn Beck, probably the most comprehensive take in terms of back story that I've seen on the conservative talk star" will be releasing a new biography on the right-wing conspiracy-theorist this spring titled, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance (Wiley & Sons, 2010).
If you've not yet read Zaitchik's amazing series on Beck for Salon, you can do so here.
Some prominent media conservatives have harshly criticized President Obama's speech in Cairo, while others offered praise for Obama's address.
A few weeks ago, Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald received an "Izzy" Award from the Park Center for Independent Media – congrats to him on the accomplishment. Well, as FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher notes, the award sparked an email to Greenwald from Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kinkaid:
Sent: Monday, May 4, 2009 9:10:55 AM GMT -02:00 Mid-Atlantic
Subject: Your "Izzy" Award
It has come to our attention that on March 31 you accepted an "Izzy" Award from the Park Center for Independent Media, named for I.F. "Izzy" Stone. You called Stone an "independent" journalist.
However, as you must know, I.F. Stone has been exposed as a Soviet agent. This identification is based on information in the Venona World War II-era Soviet spy cables that a Soviet intelligence officer named Vladimir Pravdin had recruited I.F. Stone but that Stone had to be paid. Now, the May issue of Commentary is reporting additional evidence. See http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/special-preview--i-f--stone--soviet-agent-case-closed-15120
I am preparing a story about Stone and would like your comments and about receiving an award named for a Soviet agent. Are you considering disavowing or giving back the award?
Thank you in advance.
Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media
Greenwald's response speaks for itself:
Sent: Monday, May 4, 2009 9:33:54 AM GMT -02:00 Mid-Atlantic
Subject: Re: Your "Izzy" Award
Two of the most extremist and discredited entities in the United States are Commentary Magazine and Accuracy in Media. Someone who is smeared by those two groups immediately has their credibility enhanced. Don't you have Barack Obama's birth certificate to hunt down and Hillary Clinton's sex life to sniff around in?
Izzy Stone was one of the only journalists in America to challenge the government's lies about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, to oppose the Vietnam War from the start, and to relentlessly highlight the pernicious poison of the McCarthyite witch hunts, which are alive and well in the marginalized and irrelevant fringes of the Right, such as Commentary and AIM.
There is much dispute about what Stone thought in the 1940s and early 1950s, but what is not in dispute is that in one of his earliest newsletters, he wrote: "Whatever the consequences, I have to say what I really feel after seeing the Soviet Union and carefully studying the statements of its leading officials, this is not a good society and it is not led by honest men" and "nothing has happened in Russia to justify cooperation abroad between the independent left and the Communists." Those anti-Soviet statements resulted in the loss of numerous previous supporters, a courageous stance that dishonest propaganda rags like Commentary would never take.
A publication with some actual credibility, Columbia Journalism Review, conducted a comprehensive review of the evidence and thoroughly debunked these falsehoods.
The fact that Stone is being smeared by the likes of the consummately chicken-hawk, nepotistic, bloodthirsty Podhoretz family and the truly deranged, sex-obsessed, conspiracy-monger Cliff Kincaid will make me place my Izzy Award on an even more prominent shelf in my office.