Conservatives losing the debate makes them show their ass

You would think that when a political debate involved adults, that there would be a civil debate about issues. If either side resorts to name calling then they have lost the debate. Conservatives know they have lost the debate on many current issues like the upcoming health care reform, so they resort to name calling and basic racist banter. Then when you call them on it they cry about “freedom of speech”. I agree they should be allowed to say what they want – even when it shows how much of an ass they really are.

A good example was a recent e-mail that was sent out with a picture of President Obama with a bone in his nose:

And then this morning someone forwarded me this email, which as far as I know is unrelated to the Malkin contest BUT follows a similar vein AND has been “making the rounds,” as the kids say, under the subject line Obamacare Healthcare is coming soon!

That’s right, folks! Barack Obama will tax your health benefits and then flee with the money to Africa, where he will convert all the tribespeople to Socialism and become their king after developing inhumanly muscular calves.

The Health Care Debate is Unleashing Creativity from Every Crevice of America 

Then there was this:

“A typical street whore.” “A bunch of ghetto thugs.” “Ghetto street trash.” “Wonder when she will get her first abortion.”

These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative ‘Free Republic’ blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama’s 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign on the front.

The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, “To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds.”

Conservative Free Republic blog in free speech flap after racial slurs directed at Obama children

And that happened after Conservatives basically accused comedian David Letterman of being a pedophile for telling a bad joke about Sarah Palin’s daughter – never mind that the joke was about the 18 year old daughter and not the 14 year old daughter the Conservatives tried to pin it on.

But like I said when you have no real answers to the policy debate it is easier just to call people names. I mean it worked in school – right?

Unions and free choice

A current issue being debated in Congress is about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) which would allow workers who want to form a union to decide if they want a secret ballot election or to accept union representation just based on a majority of signatures gathered. The debate has brought out the usual arguments both for and against unions and in some cases the people against EFCA simply mislead in their arguments. One such anti EFCA effort was expressed on the editorial pages of my boyhood hometown newspaper The Findlay Courier. It made me write a letter to the editor.

The editorial starts out:

An election would happen only if union organizers submitted cards from fewer than 50 percent of company workers. But unions know they lose most elections under such circumstances. Several have stated that their policy now is to seek an election only when 65-75 percent of workers have signed a card.

Un-free choice

Yes, Unions do lose elections even after getting more than 50% of cards signed. Why would that be? I mean if the person signed a card and then voted against a union in an election, what would make them change their mind?

Too many people have been brainwashed by the focus on mobbed up unions back in the day like the Teamsters even though the mob was driven out because of the work of FBI investigations and resulting prosecutions.

Yes, Unions are only as good as its leadership and like all organizations it can be stuffed with people on power trips but a majority of Unions do work for the members and do what they are intended to do – protect the worker from arbitrary actions of an employer.

From my experience the reason most people vote against a Union is after heavy intimidation by management. How would you feel if your boss told you that if a Union was voted in, that you would lose your job. People barely existing from paycheck to paycheck end up backing down because of fear.

As I said in my letter, my mom tried to unionize a place she worked at for several years. As much as her coworkers complained about unfair wages and dangerous working conditions – when elections came up they were too scared to risk their jobs for a Union. It happened time and time again. Her coworkers would complain, a Union would come in gathering signatures, the company would get nasty, the workers would back down. It was a vicious cycle.

The truth is you can lose your job whether you have a Union or not. Most employers include a clause in employment applications that you can lose your job for any reason. It’s called “at-will” employment for a reason. The company could decide one day “Tom we need to let you go. Sorry…” and that would be it. There is no law requiring them to have a reason. As long as they weren’t stupid enough to make it look like they were doing it for racial, gender, or age reasons they can do it and there is no recourse for you at all.

A Union helps in getting a contract with an employer for certain wage and working conditions – it can’t prevent an employer from closing down or laying off people. At least with a Union if a job loss happens, the contract has provisions to help ease the damage. Also Union contracts allow for a certain progressive discipline and grievance procedures that a non-union shop doesn’t have to have. The Union’s job is to enforce the contract.

Union contracts are a compromise between the workers and management. While the company agrees to certain work rules, the Union allows the company to decide who to hire – for example. One place I worked at used temporary employees during peak business periods. The Union contract allowed this but also had a clause that if the workers worked more than certain number of total hours they had be made permanent. Also this contract wouldn’t let a worker officially join the Union unless they had been there at least 2 years. A Union contract, for most unionized places, is unique to that business.

Another misleading argument from the editorial:

Most significantly, it would almost certainly result in job losses. How far can employers be pushed, especially in the current economy, before they fall, or give up, or move to Mexico or China? There are companies that, if “card check” passes, will simply shut down any of their facilities that unionize this way.

Just as Unions fight and get pay raises and other expanded benefits during the good times, they have also given back some benefits in order to save the employer. Rarely has a Union refused to renegotiate a contract if the contract might lead to a business closing. The UAW just gave back a lot during the current economic melt down effecting the auto makers. The Union representing Cooper Tire workers in Findlay gave back some previous gains so the company would keep the Findlay plant open.

What most people seem to forget is that Unions are always asked first to give back even while management doesn’t give up anything in return. Again no matter the Union status, companies have closed or moved production out of the country.

Unions are there to protect workers and they would be insane if they didn’t make an effort to help a struggling company where possible. Again management isn’t a victim. They have to agree to all contracts or there is a strike so when they agree to the expanded contracts during the good times they are a willing party. They can always walk away.

A Courier reader commented about my letter and expressed another false argument about Unions. They wondered why they are forced to join a Union and complained their freedom not be in one is being taken away when a Union comes in.

There are 22 states that are Right-to-work states where you can’t be forced to join a Union or pay dues but are still covered any Union contract.

I agree you should have the freedom to join or not, the Union should also have the option not cover you under the contract. Since federal law prohibits a Union from doing that then Right-to-work laws are unfair. Is it really ok to get the benefit of a contract without paying for it through joining the Union or paying dues?

Here is the full text of my March 18th letter to the editor as published:

Employers harass pro-union workers

The March 12 Courier editorial, “Un-free choice,” about the Employee Free Choice Act currently being considered in Congress, was misleading.

Currently, if employees wish to form a union they have to gain signatures of at least 50 percent of their workmates and then have a secret ballot election a month or so later. In that time between the collecting of the cards and the election, management hires a consulting firm to help them scare employees into voting against a union, harassing the organizers, and looking the other way when there are illegal activities to keep a union out.

Letters to employee homes, postings on bulletin boards, and face-to-face meetings are used to threaten anyone who votes for a union. Employees are told the place will be shut down or layoffs may happen. They are told that union organizers are crooks who will steal their union dues and don’t work for the employees, etc. Organizers at work are constantly watched, and any infraction, real or made up, is documented and used to fire them or to get them to quit.

If you don’t think that happens, then you don’t have farther to look then the efforts to unionize Consolidated Biscuit in McComb. My mother tried at least three times to unionize the place in the late 1980s before she was fired. Her case went through the NLRB process for a couple of years, and like all legal cases the company wore her out and she dropped the case so she could collect her pension.

EFCA would allow the workers a choice to avoid an election so it would lessen the thuggery management is allowed to do now. I support each side being given the chance to convince workers of their position, but the current laws and rules favor management and allow them to lie and intimidate without fear of punishment. EFCA would include stronger penalties for such actions.

Forcing arbitration would lessen another stalling tactic management uses to keep out a union by not bargaining in good faith, just to drag out negotiations as long as possible.

Having or not having a union doesn’t prevent a business from moving jobs or closing plants. Just ask Cooper Tire.

Douglas Berger

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!

Today marks the 200th Birthday of the man who forwarded the concept of Evolution of species, which is a basic foundation of the science of Biology. Evolution is also a flash point in arguments between people with different views on religion. Even though Evolution has nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs, it has been used as a scapegoat for some people’s beliefs that might conflict with the results and facts of Evolution. How did we get there?

One problem has been a misunderstanding of the term Evolution. In science Evolution’s basic definition is: a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations. 

That’s it. Nothing about monkeys turning into humans or “survival of the fittest”, which have been claims used against teaching of Evolution. All it means is to describe changes in a population over time.

Darwin called his idea “Natural Selection” and by that he meant species changed over time by adaptation controlled by the environment they lived in. Species that adapted appropriately passed their genes on to the next generation while those that didn’t adapt eventually died out. It isn’t that one species was “better” than the other only that one adapted better than the other and was able to pass on its genes.

Natural selection also infers that species can come from a common ancestor since it had to start some where to get to that particular point in time. There is strong evidence that Humans and apes share aspects that suggest we came from a common ancestor. At one time there was some species that then split into apes and another branch split into Humans.

That’s where religious people get upset. They fully believe that God created all the creatures on the Earth and if Evolution is true then it puts that idea into jeopardy.

The religious people are the ones who make it an issue. Darwin never cared about all it ALL began. All he did was forward the idea of how species got to where they are. Nothing in the study of Evolution is meant to be anti-religious or to intentionally contradict the story of creation. Many scientists support Evolution and consider themselves believers in a God.

However since Evolution, like all science facts, are tentative, there could be information collected soon or in the near future that solves the ultimate mystery of how it ALL got here.

That’s the promise of science – learning the answers to all the questions we have about the universe in which we live.

A tip of the hat today to the man who got the ball rolling – Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882).

Some links for further info on Darwin and Evolution

The Origin Of Species: 6th Edition

Charles Darwin bio

Charles Darwin Day

FAQs about Evolution and the religious debates

No moose in the headlights, but Palin still lost the debate

Well it seems Sarah Palin knows how to cram for an exam. Her debate with Senator Joe Biden lacked any “moose in the headlight” moments, mainly because there were no follow ups, but her folksy question avoidance didn’t win her or her ticket any help in the election. Tactically she did a good job but she lost the war. Her effort was a white flag of surrender for McCain-Palin.

The people have spoken:

CNN vote of debate watchers: Biden 51, Palin 36
CBS poll of undecideds: Biden 46, Palin 21 

Most scary moment:

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

Yes, she wants more power than Lord Cheney. Did you feel that chill?

In the lead up to the debate the right punditry went nuts about the fact that the moderator, Gwen Ifill, had written a book about blacks in politics – as if this some how made her biased. The right also complained about Palin mucking up her Katie Couric interviews – blaming the bad old liberal media and its “gotcha” journalism.

It is a the usual classic conservative attack mode – attacking the media.

Glenn Greenwald in Salon magazine summed this up perfectly:

Go pick whatever right-wing journals or polemicists you want and (with some isolated exceptions) what you will find is this simultaneously self-loving and self-pitying worldview permeating virtually everything they say, think and believe. You can reduce most of their arguments, and all of their group-based drives, to a rudimentary logical proposition: “I am X, and X is both superior and treated with deep unfairness.” It doesn’t matter what “X” happens to be for any one of them — conservative, male, Republican, Christian, Jewish, religious, white, Western, American — that is the formula that expresses how they perceive the world and their role in it.

Petulance and self-pitying grievance is what fuels them. This endless need to self-victimize would be one thing if the groups to which they belonged were small minorities targeted by a hostile and more powerful majority. But the exact opposite is true. By and large, the groups to which they belong (and therefore see as oppressed and treated with unparalleled unfairness) are the most numerous and the most powerful in the country and always have been. Yet still — nothing is their fault; they face hopeless obstacles imposed by Evil and Omnipotent Forces which hate them; “I am X, and X is both superior and treated with deep unfairness.”

They have run the country for the entire decade. For the last 14 years, they’ve controlled the House for all but 20 months. They spent substantial parts of the last eight years in control of all branches of government simultaneously. They’ve won 7 out of the last 10 presidential elections. The country’s largest and richest corporations — including the ones owning the most powerful media outlets — pour money into their party and perceive, correctly, that their interests are served by the Right’s agenda. But still — they can’t get a fair shake; everything is deeply oppressive to them; it’s all so unfair. 

The right’s two-pronged religion of rage and self-pity

So as we get closer to the election – including the next 2 presidential debates – look for more whining from the right as they assume their place on the victimhood mantle.

Obama makes good showing in first debate

Well John McCain decided to show for the first Presidential debate in Oxford Mississippi on Friday.

After more than an hour and half of non-stop debating I feel that Obama held his own and even scored some good points. What is funny is that McCain has been a Senator for 26 years while Obama has been in the Senate for only about 3 years yet both seemed like seasoned veterans of debate.

Some of the snap polls gave the debate to Obama but the BBC website curiously said McCain won on points.

If McCain threatening not to show up was meant to throw Obama off, it didn’t work.

Favorite line?

Obama: So John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the “surge,” the war started in 2003. At the time, when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said you knew where the weapons of mass destruction were — and you were wrong. You said we were going to be greeted as liberators — you were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shi’a and Sunni, and you were wrong. …if the question is, who is best equipped as the next president to make good decisions about how we use our military, how we make sure we are prepared and ready for the next conflict, then I think we can take a look at our judgment 

I also wanted to share one of my favorite pictures of this election season. It comes from the site Punditkitchen, which lets visitors add captions to photos.

Whenever the concern trolls show up on one of the blogs I read, someone will post this picture in the comments and it cracks me up every time.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures