Propaganda 101: Manufacturing and Misrepresenting Sources

This week you can probably expect a big push in the media for the cynically misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check), which I've written on before. One element of that push which will be getting coverage is an article by Seth Michaels on the AFL-CIO Now blog which heralds the fact that:

"A coalition of major investors who oversee more than $750 billion in assets is joining the fight for workers’ freedom to form unions by asking major corporations what they’re doing to protect and enhance the ability of workers to form unions."

Wow, that sounds pretty serious. That's a lot of investment money. It must mean that stockholders and important players on Wall Street are really concerned about making sure that unions can bully workers into joining by taking away their right to a secret ballot.

In fact, stockholders and major investment groups have not actually taken leave of their senses and decided it would be great to further burden businesses with rapacious union interference in our current harsh economy. What you actually have here is a classic example of how propagandists can use legtimate seeming sources to support their positions and create the impression of a popular movement or widespread support where it does not actually exist.

In the article there is a link to a press release from Domini Social Investments which further heralds this letter which has been sent to various Fortune 100 companies in support of EFCA by a group of "major institutional investors" controlling $757 billion in assets.

The effort here is to create an impression of widespread support in the financial community for Card Check. The core deception in this propaganda effort is that the letter is actually signed by a very limited group dominated by investors controlled by or closely associated with the unions promoting the legislation. The major signers on the letter are actually mostly international union pension funds or organizations representing union pension fund managers. Also signing the letter are a variety of specialty investment groups which invest in "socially responsible" businesses (unionized businesses), but they control only a small fraction of that $757 billion in assets and they are on the list mainly as a smokescreen for the union-controlled investment groups who hold the vast majority of the assets referred to.

In fact, the top signer on the list and the one with the largest assets is the AFL-CIO Employees Staff Retirement Fund, so the AFL-CIO is using their blog to promote this letter from "a coalition of major investors" without bothering to point out that they themselves are the major investors in question. Everything in the article is true as written, but the appearance that the unions have found major allies in the investment community for Card Check is entirely deceptive. The progressive angels of Wall Street who have joined them in their fight turn out just to be the unions themselves in a not very clever disguise.

What's more, the letter itself is hardly the clarion cry for EFCA which the AFL-CIO would have you believe. The letter actually makes an effort to look like it originates with the UNPRI a United Nations labor practices workgroup. The letter also does not actually endorse EFCA in any way as the AFL-CIO website suggests, but actually just solicits companies for their input on various labor issues. The letter says clearly:

"Please note that, although individual investors represented in this letter may have taken a view on the legislation, the group as a whole has itself not formulated an official position."

In reality the UNPRI and perhaps even many of the signers on the letter don't actually support Card Check at all. The letter also describes what policy towards unions and workers rights ought to be:

“The freedom to form or join a union of one’s choice or not, and to bargain collectively for the terms of one’s employment, are fundamental human rights that we as global investors recognize and respect.”

Who could disagree with that statement? It's broad enough that almost anyone would sign off on it, and would apply to the position of those who oppose the EFCA as well as those who support it. In fact, the main argument against Card Check is that it limits worker freedom to join unions by taking away the secret ballot which protects their free choice. So it could very well be that many of the signatories oppose the EFCA and it's certainly true that the group as a whole has not take a position on it and the letter is not an endorsement of it.

The letter actually seems to originate with a company called Boston Common Asset Management which like many of those signing the letter is a strange amalgem of investment firm and advocacy group. They're a worker owned collective which manages "socially responsible" investments, but seems to devote more of their time to lobbying for and promoting various left-wing causes. This business model raises all sorts of questions, like where they get the money to fund their advocacy work and how much of their customer base and revenue comes from union sources. Adding to my suspicions is that what appears to be the draft version of a similar letter to selected congressmen clearly originated on the AFL-CIO site, suggesting that these letters are being written by the union and passed on to these other groups for publication. Further research may turn up more evidence, but looking at the websites of these "social investing" groups I find it hard to believe that they could attract a great deal of money from legitimate private investors. My suspicious nature makes me wonder whether any of the groups signing the letter represent anyone other than domestic and international union interests.

What this example shows us is that when you have enough money and resources you can effectively generate your own news. Your shills issue a letter, you then hail that letter in your own publicity as a newsworthy event, you misrepresent it to make it seem more significant than it is, and then with any luck the compliant media picks up on it. With the letter released on Thursday, we'll see if that happens this coming week.

Meanwhile, in contrast with the score of shills advocating Card Check in this letter, 3100 businesses have sent their own letter to Congress opposing the passage of EFCA.

What will 2010 be about?

Sometimes, election years get focused on certain races to tell the story of the cycle. It is too early to tell what the stories of the next cycle will be, but here are two possibilities.

In Pennsylvania, recently re-minted Democrat Arlen Specter has said that he is not shifting his position on card-check, aka the Employee Forced (nee Free) Choice Act. SEIU and AFL-CIO are already pressuring Specter to cave by, among other things, encouraging Rep. Joe Sestak to run against him, in a race in which card-check would be a central debate.

Ironically, the 200,000 people that became Democrats, making Specter's GOP primary impossible, are likely Specter voters in a Democratic primary. As the Democrats have become more affluent, moderate tolerant, and less labor-dependent, the power of organized labor may not be so large.

What if the Democratic primary became a referendum on card-check for Democrats?  How important -- really -- is card check to Democrats? With Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, etc., all weighing in on the anti-card-check side. Wouldn't that be funny. Wouldn't a Specter/card-check victory be a decisive defeat for the unions? This race could become nationalized in much the way that the Lieberman race was in 2006.

Similarly, I can see a fight in New Hampshire over gay marriage in the general. The legislature has passed easily reconcilable bills that legalize gay marriage legislatively. It is likely that the governor will neither sign nor veto them, bringing the law into effect.

But New Hampshire is different than Massachussets and Iowa, where gay marriage has been created by judicial fiat and seems unlikely to be reconsidered due to the ballot initiative processes. It is also different than neighboring Vermont, which just legalized gay marriage by legislative action. This is a dead issue in Vermont.

But you could imagine a battle in the general election in New Hampshire over gay marriage. Democrats had not controlled the state legislature since 1874, and some of these seats could swing back. After all, in 2006, we lost, as Time put it,  "91 state legislature seats, six of [our] 16 state senate seats and both [our] congressional seats". And gay marriage would undoubtedly play a role in a number of swing seats around the state and be a nationalized campaign. Money would flood in from around the country for both sides.

My gut is that gay marriage will not be a compelling issue in New Hampshire, but this will be the only serious opportunity for pro-traditional marriage forces to defend their position at the ballot box. They probably cannot afford to pass it up.

Aside from all the questions about the ability of the GOP to comeback and the future of the redistricting process, 2010 could be quite fascinating.

Freedom Not Fear petition drive

Newt Gingrich asked me to Chair a national effort to protect workers rights and support “Freedom Not Fear” in the workplace.

In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, President Obama told over 100 top union officials that “we will pass the Employee Free Choice Act.” It’s now clear that President Obama, Big Labor, and their left-wing allies in Congress, will attempt an unprecedented power grab that is a mortal threat to our economy and our democratic values.

This is being done in a stealth manner because its backers know that this bill will not pass if the American people understand its destructive nature.

To expose and stop this effort, I’ve joined American Solutions as National Chairman of our “Freedom Not Fear” campaign, and you can join us by signing our petition here.

The Employee Free Choice Act, or “Card Check,” would eliminate the right to vote by private ballot when deciding whether to join a union, and it would undermine the right to freely negotiate contracts.

We can’t tolerate this. We must stand for freedom, not fear in the workplace. We cannot afford to be intimidated. Please stand with us now. This is about protecting our fundamental right to vote privately without coercion. It’s about protecting the right of employers and employees to negotiate freely. It’s about allowing businessmen and women, not bureaucrats and union bosses, to run our businesses. And in the end, it’s about saving and protecting American jobs.

Please sign the petition now.


Stop Solis for Labor Secretary

Americans for Job Security has launched a petition to urge Senators to oppose the confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor. Rep. Solis is a staunch opponent of the right to a secret ballot in organizing elections.  In 2007 Rep. Solis was a co-sponsor of the “Employee Free Choice Act,” sometimes referred to as Card Check, which would eliminate a workers right to a secret ballot in organizing elections.

Besides being an opponent of the Secret Ballot, Rep. Solis has also violated several campaign finance laws and the House’s own rules of Ethics.  Rep. Solis is a member of the board, and treasurer, of American Rights at Work (ARW) a pro-union advocacy organization.  In that capacity, she had fiduciary oversight on over $220,000 that ARW spent to lobby Congress on legislation she has sponsored a clear violation of House ethics rules and until recently Rep. Solis had not reported her position at ARW as she is required to do under House rules.

In addition to alleged violations of House ethics regulations others have charged that a more serious legal issue has arisen; whether or not Rep. Solis and ARW violated the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 by sponsoring television advertisements which the group classified as "electioneering communications” in a report to the Federal Election Commission.

Join Americans for Job Security in standing up and saying NO! to Rep. Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor. Visit our website and sign our petition today.


Obama Stimulus Will Fall Flat; GOP Must Stand Up and Fight

President-elect Barack Obama has laid out a plan to “create or save” three million jobs during his first two years in office. His plan is to increase government spending, deficit be damned, by at least $775 billion dollars over that same period. While the projects he plans to invest in are things that we Americans can all use, the stimulus plan will be a flop. Here’s how I got here:

Let’s start with the money. Obama plans to increase government spending without any increases in taxes, so that negates his use of PAYGO budgeting. At the same time, the total amount of money per job that he creates or saves will come out to more than $258,333 per job. There are business executives who don’t even make this money for their job, yet Obama, who has never held a private sector job in his lifetime figures the cost of a job to “create or save” at more than one quarter of a million dollars.

Any reasonable businessperson, like myself, will tell you that if it cost that much money to save a job, we would rather sooner terminate the job immediately. The problem here is that Obama and the other people in government have no real concept of what it costs to run a business, generally speaking. The purpose of a business is not to make customers happy or to employ as many people as possible. The end goal of a business is maximizing their profits and making their shareholders money. Those who do not live by that mantra of making money for the company and stockholders quickly go out of business.

The two things that the average person on the street does not realize are how much one billion is and how much one trillion is.  For the concept of one billion dollars, imagine that on the day of the birth of Jesus Christ you were given one billion dollars and had to spend $1,000 each day onward while gaining no interest, you would be still be spending money for at least the next 700 years.  By comparison, one trillion dollars is one thousand times one billion.

Second, according to the CIA Factbook, the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or the total value of all goods and services produced inside the borders of the United States) currently sits at $14.334 trillion. In other words the stimulus is only 5.4 percent of GDP. From here, that percentage goes down fast.

In the Highway Spending Bill that Congress recently passed, less than 26 percent of that money was spent within the first fiscal year. If this holds true, it then means that a value of less than one-and-a-half percent of the nation’s GDP will be infused in to the economy within the first fiscal year of the stimulus bill’s existence. For an economy that will be going in to a deep recession throughout 2009, this does not bode well for Obama.

The end result is an increase in inflation thanks to the increase of the deficit to a level that will approach or exceed two trillion dollars this fiscal year and a slow-to-respond stimulus bill that will actually, when implemented, cause the death of many jobs.

However, that is only half the story about Obama’s economic plans for America. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to get Obama to sign the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) which is Orwellian by name, but will cause considerable damage when implemented and enforced. Barring a miraculous filibuster by the Republicans in the Senate, America’s workforce will become unionized and small businesses will close their doors.

What’s more is that the unions will get the ultimate payback from the Democrats they helped get elected. Their membership and union dues received will increase which will give the unions considerable influence in American politics and with their membership. Also, the union bosses will be able to oversee how each of its members votes in a union election, bringing to an end the secret ballot. If the Senate Republicans cannot stop this bill, small businesses in the United States will either have to shell out more of their money to meet the demands of the unions or they will close their doors, or both.

If this comes in to play, the projections for an unemployment rate of nine percent will look good to Americans because the unemployment rate in the USA will be higher than at any time since Ronald Reagan’s first term following the horrific economic policies of Jimmy Carter. The only difference is that Reagan was able to lower the unemployment rate from its peak in December 1982 of 10.8 percent to 8.3 percent in December 1983 and ultimately to 7.2 percent the very month he won a 49-state landslide win against Walter Mondale. By contrast, Obama won his election with an inflation rate of 1.07 percent and an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in November 2008.

Finally, research from economists at UCLA determined that the Great Depression lasted seven years longer because of the New Deal. Obama wants to implement the New New Deal almost from the moment he takes office. Considering that the double-digit unemployment rates did not end until 1943, this means that had the New Deal not been implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Great Depression would have ended in 1936 leading to an easy reelection.

The reality is that Obama doesn’t have the luxuries that FDR had when he was President, yet he wants to take us back to the past with an economic policy that exacerbated and extended this long economic slump. If this plan flops (and it will), just like FDR, Obama will come back with a sequel of New New Deal II which will be used as a means to “save” his job during a time of economic distress.

If the Republicans are able to do anything, it will be to vote against the stimulus package and to attempt to block the EFCA. Should this happen, they will have the ability to say that these things are prolonging the economic crisis and that they fought it all the way. If not, they will be on the same side of the line as Obama and the Democrats in 2010 and again in 2012 which could pave the way for two terms of economic agony.

It’s almost crunch time and the Republicans need to fight the expansion of big government early and often, then turn around and use it as a means to defeat Obama and Obamaism when given the opportunities to do so in 2010 and 2012. If not, they will become a permanent minority party with previous successful Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan as distant memories of what was once great about America, but never will be again.

It’s time for the GOP to be ready to fight Barack Obama when he’s wrong (like on these matters) and Obamaism. 

The Best Case Scenario for the Right, Part 4: Soren Dayton

This is the first of a two-day discussion between TheNextRight.com (Soren Dayton and Jon Henke) and Culture11.com (James Poulos and Conor Friedersdorf) about the Best Case and Worst Case scenario for the Right in 2008.  Conor Friedersdorf's contribution is hereJames Poulos contribution is here.  Jon Henke's is hereSoren Dayton continues.

I have felt for a long time that the GOP's electoral collapse in 2008 is a disaster for America. While the GOP has demonstrated itself to the incompetent at both politics and governing, our country is facing serious issues. While the GOP's answers and the answers of conservatives are not completely adequate for the questions of the day, the Democrats and the left are much, much worse. Whether it is the future of international institutions, labor relations, electoral reform, immigration, welfare, taxes, trade, the nationalization of our banking system, among others, it is likely that the right will not have a seat at the table while these issues are resolved.

So let's take a deep breath and be adult for a moment. Without really disputing the points about conservatism benefitting from a sooner moment to reset and without disputing the real reasons that conservatives find John McCain wanting, the guy has to win for the sake of our country and our party.

The biggest dilemma that I see for us as conservatives or people of the right is the power of the left to enact policies that have long-term feedback loops. Let's look at some examples:

  • The Democrats are proposing the "Employee Free Choice Act" or card-check which would strip an employee of the freedom to choose -- or even debate -- the structure of their employment contract. Aside from the essential loss of freedom, this will flood the coffers of union PACs and divert union pension programs from their path towards self-destruction. A President McCain can simply veto this and fight this from the bully pulpit.
  • The Democrats are already drafting electoral "reforms" that will validate the essentially criminal behavior of Ohio Democratic Secretary of State who (seemingly) willfully refuses to implement the checks of the Help America Vote Act. The Democrats will talk about expanding the franchise, but they will really strip out the checks on fraud that are such a compelling story right now with ACORN. This probably wouldn't even come to a vote without a President Barack Obama to sign it.
  • The Democrats are salivating at the possibility of delivering an immigration reform proposal that delivers a contrast with Republicans that will help solidify Latino votes for the Democrats. Republicans will be struck with a brand in the Latino community as hateful while giving the Democrats the image of compassionate problem solvers. McCain is a compassionate figure in the Latino community who can take credit for the passage of this legislation, regardless of what conservatives think.
  • Obama's tax proposals create incentives for the same kind of dependency that conservatives dismantled 12 years ago. Again, not even conceivable with a McCain presidency.
  • Finally, Obama's proposal to expanding the service corps is going end up looking like dropping 300,000 new ACORN-style organizers paid by the government. McCain has a service program, but is there any doubt that his would look quite different recruiting different kinds and people and deploying them differently?

Let's be clear. If you thought that George W. Bush and Karl Rove were rigging the American political system against the left--a not unreasonable position--, Barack Obama and his allies are going to teach with you what patsies the Republicans are at this.

The Democrats have an agenda that has nothing to do with helping America. Barack Obama's whole political career has been about paying off his constituencies. And he could end up paying them off by delivering 3-5% of a national vote in a structural and long-term sense. The best case for the GOP this year is to be able to stop this with a President McCain in the bully pulpit, regardless of all of his many failings.

Card Check thuggery in Portland, Maine

A friend of mine is on the bus that is hown in the linked video:


.  Here is what he reports:

 Hi all.  I just came from a press conference held by the US Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.  It was held in Portland and dealt with the EFCA.  I spoke on behalf of ABC Maine and also got in a few words about FEA.  After the news conference we went on the US Chambers special bus to Monument Square in the center of Portland.  There were at least 75 union members holding a protest rally against the Chamber and in support of the EFCA.  The interesting thing is the protest was organized by the Maine Democratic Party.  There were about 15 of us on the bus and nobody wanted to get off so I led the way.  We were heckled, swore at, and called some names.  One of the young ladies from the chamber tried to set up some tables and put leaflets and information on it and the protesters kicked the tables over on the lady who was not hurt.  We then were interviewed by ABC, NBC, and CBS about the EFCA.  With the noise in the background I pointed out to the media that this protest is exactly why businesses have to work to defeat this bill.  When you disagree with organized labor they resort to bullying, intimidation, and peer pressure.  Why would any business want to subject there employees to that type of intimidation and bullying that was going on right across the street.  I will send you the clip once I get it.  They looked like morons which they are.

I sure am glad that  Maine's union workers, as few as they are, have the time to take out of their busy work days to go do a good ol' fashioned protest! 

No wait, I know, they are so productive that they actually sped up the line and finished early!  I didn't see them wearing all of their mandatory protective gear or properly warming up to avoid 'ergonomic' injuries either.  Somebody file a grievance.  You can find the shop steward asleep in the parking lot....making time and a half.




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