September 5, 2010

Politicizing Labor Day, Part 2: DOL’s Solis Uses Holiday Address As Propaganda and Attack Vehicle

HildaSolisWithCarOfTheFuture0810Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (pictured at right with what I would guess is her ideal car of the future) shamelessly used Labor Day weekend as an opportunity to score political points.

In a presentation that was more a political stump speech than an informative presentation, Solis recited a litany of alleged accomplishments. Many of them have no relationship to what her department does, while some are also objectively wrong. Second, she set up a host of straw men in the form of “those who would” and “to those who want to” to make her department and the administration where she works appear as if they and they alone are the bulwark against rapacious employers and their political allies.

What follows is the YouTube video (direct link here), and selected transcribed excerpts:

Excerpts:

(3:10 – 4:30) You can be certain that like the president, I will not stop working until every American is back on their feet and we have fulfilled our mission to provide good and safe jobs for everyone.

We’re making important inroads towards that goal. So let me tell you, briefly, what we have done so far to get there.

First and foremost, we have reversed the dangerous trend of job loss in our country. Because, just over a year ago, we were losing almost 700,000 jobs per month. We were on the verge of another Great Depression. We took immediate action to stop the bleeding and create jobs. Now, instead of losing jobs, we’ve actually added them in the private sector every month. We’ve averaged about 90,000 jobs for the last seven months.

But something else too, and this is important, our efforts, most notably the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, saved millions of American jobs in the auto manufacturing industry. [1] These efforts have also kept health care workers in clinics and community hospitals. They’ve kept hundreds of thousands of teachers in classrooms, and police and firefighters on the beat where they should be.

(4:50 – 4:58) Now we are making it possible for American entrepreneurs to create and grow businesses that will put people to work. [2]

(5:10 – 5:50) As a result of our quick and bold actions, millions of people are at work, building and rebuilding America’s roads, bridges, ports, and high-speed rail. [3]

And we’re also investing in a new American foundation, and a whole new American industry and employer, and that’s clean energy.

We look at that investment two ways. Advances in biofuels, wind, and solar power will reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and reenergize American manufacturing. I’ve long believed that green jobs can be great jobs, and jobs that every American can take advantage of.

(6:12) I am pleased that this administration is making student loans more affordable and available.

(6:40) Now, as we’ve done all that, we’ve also strengthened the safety net for American workers. We’ve expanded unemployment insurance programs in nearly 40 states so more people can receive benefits. And after decades of failing to rein in the out-of-control health care system, our reforms will control costs, improve care, minimize fraud, and provide security for millions of American families.

(7:23) In the weeks and months ahead, policymakers will be debating what should come next. There are some who will suggest that, when times are tough, it’s time to get tough on working people. [4] They’ll suggest that we cut back on worker training, to cut back on worker safety, and to cut back on giving workers a voice in their workplace. I totally disagree.

To those who say we can no longer afford to train, retool and educate our workforce, I say we can’t afford not to. To those who want to cut corners and disregard safety in the workplace, I say keeping workers safe matters far more than saving a few cents.

And to those who want to deny workers a voice in the workplace, let me be clear: This Secretary of Labor recognizes, respects, and celebrates a worker’s right to organize and bargain collectively.

As individuals and as a nation, we have very important choices to make. And each one merits careful and informed discussion. So in the weeks and months ahead, I hope we can continue this conversation. Each and every one of us has something at stake. And we simply cannot afford to make the wrong choices.

Here are three obvious errors in Solis’s presentation:

  • [1] – The “auto manufacturing industry,” even at is most broadly defined (which would include all transportation equipment, all motor vehicle and parts dealers, has only three million employees. The Labor Secretary is essentially claiming that there would be no industry without the stimulus plan. Other than to point out that Government/General Motors and Chrysler proactively killed tens of thousands of jobs at auto dealers, this claim is so utterly ridiculous as to require no further comment.
  • [2] – Even ignoring individual initiative, it’s as if this administration is the first in recorded human history to “mak(e) it possible for American entrepreneurs to create and grow businesses that will put people to work.” She’s kidding, right?
  • [3] – The total number of employees in “Heavy and civil engineering construction” was 888,000 in August (not seasonally adjusted). Even if you try to include a healthy percentage of the 2.1 million employed in the “Nonresidential specialty trade contractors” sector, many of whom obviously have nothing to do with infrastructure, there’s no way you get to “millions” of infrastructure workers, period, let alone “millions” who are working solely because of the administration’s “quick and bold actions.”
  • [4] – Seriously now, who has suggested this, or any of the other conveniently created straw men that follow?

Yes, Bush administration Labor Secretary Elaine Chao did give Labor Day addresses such as this one in 2002. But if she had created something as blatant as this video, the press would have been all over her for playing politics during the entire Labor Day weekend. As it is, I doubt we’ll see much if any criticism of Solis from the establishment press.

In a separate action, DOL removed the following opening paragraph from a web page on the history of Labor Day (original preserved at archive.org; revised) that had contained the same text for at least eight years:

“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”

More on why I believe that removal of Gompers’s statement occurred can be found here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP’s Sidoti Laments Dems’ Prospects in Ohio, Is Convincing as HuffPo Zealot

AssociatedPressLizSidoti0810In a post at National Review Online’s Battle ’10 blog last night, Mytheos Holt commented on a report seen at the Huffington Post:

HuffPo Panics about GOP Sweep of Ohio

Looks like the Huffington Post is buying into the “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation” meme this election cycle, based on a story out today.

The HuffPo item is by Liz Sidoti. But Sidoti is a national politics writer for the Associated Press, and what Holt really read was what AP would like us to believe is a supposedly “objective” analysis of the electoral situation in Ohio right off the wire. Word for word, the item at HuffPo is the same dispatch as found at the AP’s main site. The only clue as to its origin, which Holt missed (and it’s easy to see how), is the teeny-tiny AP logo where Sidoti’s byline appears.

In other words, Sidoti’s stridency and Democrat-sympathetic viewpoint are so obvious that she passes the HuffPo zealotry test.

Here are some examples of how Sidoti “successfully” came off as a  budding HuffPo pundit:

Dems’ prospects threatened by economic woes

Frustrated, discouraged and just plain mad, a lot of people who have lost jobs – or know someone who has – now want to see the names of Democrats on pink slips. And that’s jeopardizing the party’s chances in Ohio and all across the country in November’s elections.

In this big swing-voting state alone, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is in a dogfight for re-election. Senate candidate Lee Fisher may be even worse off. As many as six House Democrats could lose their jobs this fall. Recession-fueled animosity is dominating every race, giving Republicans hope of huge victories.

… In Ohio, like almost everywhere else, voters don’t much care for Washington, Wall Street or anything resembling the establishment. They grouse about every politician, including President Barack Obama, whom Ohioans played a critical role in electing. They fume over the nation’s teetering finances.

… Republicans are hoping to capitalize on voters’ economic disillusionment, frustration with Obama and tea party-generated enthusiasm.

Democrats are relying on a financial advantage, a robust get-out-the-vote operation and, mostly, the ghost of George W. Bush to curb an expected Nov. 2 shellacking.

… at Suzzie’s Beechwold Diner, Steve Reither epitomizes the Democrats’ other big challenge: a fired-up electorate tilting toward the GOP.

A Republican-turned-independent, Reither is sick of both parties and says: “They all talk about change and nothing changes.” But he saves his harshest words for Obama, whom he calls a socialist and a liar. This year, he says he’ll probably vote largely with the GOP in November – “I’ll hold my nose” – simply to fire Democrats.

“This administration and his cronies are running this country into the ground,” Reither, 55, says as he finishes his breakfast. The owner of a small auto restoration business, he says he’s been struggling for the past two years, and he blames Obama’s policies that “hurt the little guy.”

Democrats at all levels are sounding a populist tone, casting their races as helping voters on Main Street vs. Republican policies intended to help Wall Street. Republicans, in turn, argue that Democrats – led by Obama – are making a tough economic situation worse with a free-spending, big-government agenda.

Of course Sidoti’s work looks like HuffPo punditry, as it’s all from the Democrats’ “woe is us, these terrible things are happening” perspective. Republicans are seen as the unworthies upsetting the apple cart. And voters? Well, they’re just “mad” and full of “animosity.”

It’s quite instructive to see how an AP report is correctly interpreted as left-leaning output. And sad to say, Liz Sidoti isn’t anywhere near the wire service’s worst offender.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP: ‘Famed Flight Attendant … Captured the Nation’s Imagination’

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 10:26 am

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/StevenSlaterFacebookThe Essential Global News Network’s fascination with Steven Slater continues.

Mr. Slater (picture at right is from his Facebook page) is the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly “grabbed the plane’s intercom and made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute.” Slater was charged with “criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.”

Three weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press writer Samantha Gross rhapsodized over how Slater’s actions had fulfilled “a working man’s fantasy … rekindled memories of workers’ liberation … (and) sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay.”

Before getting to the AP’s latest sympathetic piece, let’s take a look at something originally associated with a magazine report about Slater that is not currently present in that story.

In a Google Web search on “Steven Slater” (not in quotes), here is the sixth result returned:

StevenSlaterFlyingHighPerPeopleMag0810

Really?

But when you go to the referenced People Magazine article, the statement cited in the result isn’t there, nor, as best I can tell, is it in the readers’ comments.

Perhaps the statement was never written, but I doubt it, as the Internet has a funny way of leaving tracks. A search on the exact sentence involved (“On his Facebook and MySpace pages, he boasted about flying high and taking a five year break from the skies” — entered with quotes) returned 15 items (Google’s header says it’s 130, but it’s really 15, before adding “similar items”). Was everyone who noted this, especially this link, which appears to have captured People’s RSS feed, just making it up?

With that little nugget as background, here is selected text from an unbylined AP story early this morning reporting that Slater will not be getting his job back (bolds are mine):

Sometimes there’s no going back.

JetBlue Airways says that there will be no second exits for famed flight attendant Steven Slater – who captured the nation’s imagination with his profanity-laced loudspeaker tirade and jump down a plane’s emergency chute, beer in hand.

Spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said Saturday that Slater is no longer employed by the airline. She said the airline won’t release further details out of respect for Slater’s privacy.

Slater’s lawyer had said he loved flying and wanted to return to work, and Slater’s folk-hero status among tens of thousands of online fans had led some of them to urge the airline to keep him on.

The airline said at the time of the incident last month that Slater was suspended pending an investigation. It told employees in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.

The former flight attendant still has to navigate the criminal justice system.

Given how sympathetic the wire service has been to his plight, and assuming he avoids jail, I have a perfect suggestion for who should be Slater’s next employer. He apparently won’t have to worry about whether he has a supportive environment.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Church is depending on youth, writes Benedict XVI in WYD 2011 message

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:59 am

From Vatican City:

Sep 3, 2010 / 07:14 pm

Drawing on the metaphor of a plant that grows firm on a foundation of strong roots, Pope Benedict XVI asked youth in his message for World Youth Day 2011 to strengthen their faith to counter the influence of secular society. The presence of youth, he wrote, “renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church.”

Directing his words to all youth who might be interested in coming, the Holy Father encouraged participation in the “decisive” experience offered by World Youth Day 2011. The encounter is set to take place in Madrid, Spain from Aug. 16-21 under the theme “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.”

Imploring young people to pursue their yearning for “something really truly greater,” Pope Benedict challenged them to confront secular culture. Next year’s celebration, he wrote, comes at an important time “when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots.”

Against what he called the “eclipse of God” in a contemporary culture that has the tendency to exclude God and consider faith only relevant to the private sphere, he encouraged youth to strengthen their faith, exclaiming, “You are the future of society and of the Church!”

A “solid foundation” amidst a “growing mentality of relativism” is needed, Benedict XVI wrote, adding that young people are entitled to “solid points of reference” from their predecessors to assist them in making life choices: “like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.”

As today’s “strong current of secularist thought” aims to marginalize God and create a “paradise” without Him, the Pope explained, “experience tells us that a world without God becomes a ‘hell’ filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. …

Go here for the rest of the story.