McDonnell showing support for 'right-to-work' for less laws
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has recently extended his anti-labor credentials by caving to extremists in his state on the topic of project labor agreements. A series of e-mails recently released show that he did not have a problem with PLAs until recently, after being pressured by extremists in his party who oppose the rights of working families.
Phase one of the expansion of the Dulles Metrotrail expansion in Northern Virginia was completed under a PLA and the second phase was set to be conducted the same way. Now McDonnell is saying that he won't proceed with the project unless the PLA is revoked. The move not only takes away rights from working families and shows that McDonnell is a flip-flopper who caves under pressure from extremists, it also endangers jobs in the state during fragile economic times:
The aforementioned revelations unearthed by the Washington Post shown that a compromise was agreed to in principal before objections from the right caused them to break down:
The e-mails were provided to The Washington Post by people who are sympathetic to the MWAA and who have been frustrated that McDonnell?s shift has drawn little attention.
The dozens of brief notes exchanged over a period of four months and a subsequent memorandum of understanding among Silver Line contributors show that Connaughton and Jack Potter, the MWAA chief executive, worked carefully on the wording before agreeing to a set of principles that enabled a mandatory project labor agreement.
?Sean, are you okay with the principle below??? Potter asked July 27.
?Yes,?? Connaughton responded.
In November, in an apparent sign of continuing progress, the MWAA asked Connaughton where to send a copy of the agreement for his signature.
But the sentiment soon changed. Connaughton never signed an agreement for a PLA for Phase 2. In February, amid mounting Republican criticism of the PLA for Phase 1, the General Assembly enacted a law intended to prohibit PLAs on the Silver Line project.
Virginia?s ?Right-to-Work? law draws definite distinctions between ?mandatory? and ?voluntary? PLAs. Now, Virginia lawmakers are caught up in a game of words that would be pure comedy if not for the jobs that hang in the balance.
Administration officials acknowledge that Connaughton had been negotiating. But they say it was for a voluntary PLA, not a mandatory one. Later, McDonnell sent a letter saying Virginia would not accept an agreement that violated the state?s right-to-work law. Such statutes prohibit a company and a union from signing a contract that requires workers to be union members.
But Potter said Virginia?s right-to-work law allows a mandatory project labor agreement. ?I don?t think there was a comprehensive understanding of the right-to-work law.?
When it was finally decided that this PLA would not violate ?Right-to-Work? McDonnell all but made a handshake agreement via who he appointed to handle negotiations. The Governor quickly pulled back after coming under fire from his own party.
McDonnell was facing heat from the conservative wing of his party. ?They?re responding to the concerns of the legislature,?? said Del. Robert G. Marshall, a conservative Republican from Prince William who is running for U.S. Senate and has been vocal on the issue. ?He?s pulling back because Republicans are putting their foot down.?
Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) said McDonnell changed his mind on the PLA the same way he did when he initially agreed to give up to $300 million more for the project.
?That?s not what they had agreed to,?? Herring said. ?It was an about-face. There are certain voices in the governor?s party who didn?t agree and caused him to disagree.??
MWAA board member Bob Brown said Connaughton had negotiated a mandatory PLA for Phase 2.
?It?s very clear and the records showed that. We had a handshake deal,?? he said. ?We have had to constantly change things to accommodate this guy. He?s made more noise than anyone at the table.??
The mess that is Florida's voter-purge effort keeps growing by the day. Both the ACLU and the Department of Justice are suing the state, which in turn is suing the federal government. After the state's Division of Elections declared it had found around 182,000 noncitizens on voter rolls, the state sent letters to 2,600 people of them asking if they were citizens. Those who failed to respond risk being removed from the lists. The trouble, of course, is that 500 of them proved to be citizens. Less than 100 have so far been proved ineligible to vote. Because the list examines citizenship, Hatians and Latinos are disproportionately targeted. In the meantime, the 182,000-list looms in the background, though it has not been publicly released. As legal tensions boil over, the effort has been put on hold in just about every county. But with less than 90 days until the state's primaries, many worry there will be complications when people go to vote.
The debacle, however, brings to mind a larger question: How should states purge voter rolls? After all, it's in everyone's interests for the voter rolls to be kept up, removing the deceased and noncitizens. "List maintenance practices are good practices," explains Myrna Perez, senior counsel for Democracy Program at the Brennan Center. "They need to be done but they need to be done in a proper way."
In 2008, Perez wrote a report about best practices in maintaining voter lists. Her findings aren't too complicated. "Purges are problematic," she says, "when they happen in non-transparent ways, very close to an election [and] with sloppy methodology."
She cites egregious examples: a Mississippi official who purged 10,000 voters?wrongly?a week before the presidential primary, a Georgia official who removed 700 people supposedly ineligible for criminal convictions but which included those "who had never even received a parking ticket."
Perez offers some clear policy changes to keep such disasters from happening. Had Florida officials taken her advice, it's unlikely they'd face such a mess now.
The bulk of her suggestions focus on making the process more transparent. She pushes for states to establish clear rules around list maintenance and make them public?including a process for those to challenge their ineligibility. (Currently, there are no clear federal standards.) From there, the state should give public notice of any purges and make all purge lists available. Removal of any name would require sign-off from at least two officials.
Perez's report also suggests that states tighten up their criteria for removing a name from the rolls, and allow Election Day registration. That way, if a name is erroneously removed from the list and a person does not discover the mistake until he or she show up at the polls, there's still an opportunity to cast a ballot.
All of these recommendations stand in stark contrast to Florida's current predicament, in which no one knows what names are on the purge list and everything is happening with less than 90 days until the state's primary.
Voter purges, in and of themselves, are not the issue. "The problem," says Perez, "is sometimes folks, for a whole bunch of reasons, take short cuts, and don't do reasonable list maintenance practices?and actually do irresponsible maintenance practices."
People like me often complain about "he said/she said" reporting, which treats all claims by competing political actors as having equal validity, and doesn't bother to determine whether one side or the other might not be telling the truth. There are lots of reasons why that kind of reporting is harmful, but it's important to understand that it doesn't just keep people soaking in a lukewarm bath of ignorance, it can actively misinform them, leading them to believe things that are false.
Today's New York Times has a textbook example of what happens when political reporters can do when they refuse to adjudicate a factual dispute between candidates. In the story, Michael Barbaro doesn't just allow Mitt Romney to deceive, he actively abets that deception in the way he constructs his narrative. Here's the key excerpt:
In a speech here in Orlando, Mr. Romney seized on a statement that the president made on Monday about the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview, a television reporter had asked the president about a small business in Iowa, whose owner claimed that the president's health care legislation had contributed to its closing in the state. Mr. Obama said that such an assertion of cause and effect was "kind of hard to explain."
"Because the only folks that have been impacted in terms of the health care bill are insurance companies who are required to make sure that they're providing preventive care, or they're not dropping your coverage when you get sick," Mr. Obama said. "And so, this particular company probably wouldn't have been impacted by that."
A gaffe? Mr. Romney treated it that way, and in his speech at a factory that makes air filters, he called the statement "something else that shows just how much out of touch" the president is. "He said he didn't understand that Obamacare was hurting small business," Mr. Romney said. "You have to scratch your head about that."
Mr. Romney cited an online survey of almost 1,500 small-business owners, performed last July for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which found that three-quarters of them said they would be less likely to hire because of the burdens of the Affordable Care Act.
The candidates disagree about things many, many times a day, but because Barbaro's whole story is about "gaffes," his inclusion of this particular disagreement implies that Obama's statement must belong in that category. After all, if what Obama said was a plainly accurate description of the Affordable Care Act, then not only wouldn't it be a "gaffe," the disagreement would actually be an example of Mitt Romney being dishonest. But Barbaro classifies it as a gaffe (and don't tell me the inclusion of a question mark gets him off the hook for doing so), which can only mean that Romney is right, or at the very least that Romney has a reasonable case to make.
But of course, that's not true. Not even remotely. Obama was absolutely accurate in what he said. First of all, there are no provisions of the ACA that have already taken effect that affect small businesses. Secondly, the provisions that will take effect in 2014 will benefit small businesses. So if there's a business owner in Iowa who says he closed his business because of the Affordable Care Act, there are only two possibilities: either he's crazy, or he's lying. It's as simple as that. It would make no more sense to ask the president, "Mr. President, there's a guy in Iowa who says his business shut down because the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act mandated that he spend eight hours every day building life-size butter sculptures of Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem, and that left him no time to balance his books. Doesn't this show that the law is imposing impossible burdens on small business?"
I don't doubt that many small business owners believe that the Affordable Care Act is one day going to impose some terrible, as-yet-to-be-specified burdens on them. After all, they've been told that many times by Republicans, by conservative media figures, and by pro-Republican groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I'm also sure that many small business owners believe that they've been abducted by anal-probing aliens, or that astrology is a science. But that belief doesn't make it true. There is an objective reality here, and it isn't a complicated one to figure out.
If the candidates have a disagreement about how the ACA affects small businesses, and a political reporter isn't actually familiar enough with it to determine who's telling the truth, he has a few choices. He could use that secret trick known to only the most experienced journalists, called "picking up the phone," and call someone who knows what the Affordable Care Act does, and ask that person how it affects small businesses. There are a few hundred people in Washington who'd be happy to take his call and explain things. The reporter could also go to this thing called "the Internet," which can prove quite helpful on matters like this one. If you type "Affordable Care Act provisions affecting small businesses" into Google, you get this handy fact sheet from the Kaiser Family Foundation as your first result. Read it and you'll learn that most of the provisions relating to small businesses will make the coverage they obtain more comprehensive, and probably less expensive. You'll also learn, if you didn't know it before, that companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the Act's requirement to carry health coverage. It's true that companies with over 50 employees will have to offer insurance to their employees, but the fact sheet will tell you, intrepid reporter, that 92 percent of companies with between 50 and 100 employees already do, as do 97 percent of companies with over 100 employees.
These aren't complicated things to learn. You don't need a public policy degree to grasp them and incorporate them into your reporting. You could even ask Romney or his representatives exactly what burdens they believe the ACA imposes on small business, and when they say, "Um, regulation and stuff!" ask them again to be specific, and when they can't actually come up with anything, relate that fact in your story. Or there's a final option available to you, one that this reporter chose, and many other reporters do every day: You can just not bother to find out the truth and share it with your readers. Why do they deserve it, anyway? Better to just wait for the next exciting "gaffe" and write four or five stories about that.
When is a new study ?research,? and when is it propaganda? That?s the question to ask when looking at Mark Regnerus?s ?study,? released this past weekend, on children who had a parent who had an affair with someone of the same sex. Regnerus compares children who grew up in an intact household from birth to adulthood with children who started in a heterosexual marriage but who had a parent who crossed over to the gay side. And yet Regnerus is touting it as a study on the real-life experiences of children who grew up with lesbian or gay parents. Here?s what he says in Slate, of all places, which I usually respect:
? [M]y colleagues and I randomly screened over 15,000 Americans aged 18-39 and asked them if their biological mother or father ever had a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex. I realize that one same-sex relationship does not a lesbian make, necessarily. But our research team was less concerned with the complicated politics of sexual identity than with same-sex behavior.
The basic results call into question simplistic notions of ?no differences,? at least with the generation that is out of the house. On 25 of 40 different outcomes evaluated, the children of women who?ve had same-sex relationships fare quite differently than those in stable, biologically-intact mom-and-pop families, displaying numbers more comparable to those from heterosexual stepfamilies and single parents.
Well, here?s why his numbers were more comparable to stepfamilies and single parents: Because these children were in stepfamilies or had single parents. The study compares how children fare stable parents to how children fare under divorce or infidelity. We call that ?comparing apples to oranges.? Of course the oranges don?t have black seeds. They?re oranges. If he had compared how children did in heterosexual stepfamilies or heterosexual single-parent families with the lesbian or gay stepfamilies or single-parent homes, we might learn something. But as it is, his research?despite his propaganda spin, which argues that these findings should militate against same-sex marriage?tells you nothing about the effects of having parents who happen to be lesbian or gay. It says absolutely nothing about how children fare growing up from infancy in lesbian or gay households that affirmatively chose to be parents (as opposed to having them accidentally, which is, to understate the case, quite rare if you?re lesbian or gay). That affirmative choice is in itself a good thing for the children, real studies have shown.
A look at Regnerus?s agenda and at this study?s funders?the socially right-wing organizations the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation?tells all you need to know about Regnerus?s motivations. The New York Times? article about the study includes quotes that assess it appropriately:
Paul Amato, a sociologist at Penn State who was not involved in the study and has written in favor or same-sex marriage, said that many scholars suspected that some children with a gay parent might have more troubles than the average child, particularly in past decades when the stigma was greater. ?We know, for instance, that many people with a gay parent were essentially raised in a stepfamily, and went through a divorce, both of which are associated with modest but real disadvantages,? he said.
Others said the study was limited in its usefulness. ?What we really need in this field is for strong skeptics to study gay, stable parents and compare them directly to a similar group of heterosexual, stable parents,? said Judith Stacey, a sociologist at New York University?.
?When I look at his data, my main take-away is that divorce and family transition is not a great outcome for kids,? said Gary Gates, a demographer at the at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.
Box Turtle Bulletin has a thorough analysis of the study?s methodology, for those who want to dig in deep. Jim Burroway notes, among other things, that ?Regnerus notes that the original raw sample showed that 1.7 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 report that their father or mother has had a same-sex relationship. This is in line with several other studies on same-sex households with children.? And Media Matters has an excellent dissection of the study?s major flaws, expanding very clearly on these four points: the study doesn?t compare married gay parents to married heterosexual parents; the author admits the study doesn?t establish causation between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes; the study arbitrarily ignores overlaps in its subpopulations; the study doesn?t accurately define gay and lesbian parents; and the study?s author and funders have an agenda.
For the fourth point, Media Matters quotes John Corvino?s take-down at The New Republic:
Question: What do the following all have in common?
--A heterosexually married female prostitute who on rare occasion services women
--A long-term gay couple who adopt special-needs children
--A never-married straight male prison inmate who sometimes seeks sexual release with other male inmates
--A woman who comes out of the closet, divorces her husband, and has a same-sex relationship at age 55, after her children are grown
--Ted Haggard, the disgraced evangelical pastor who was caught having drug fueled-trysts with a male prostitute over a period of several years
--A lesbian who conceives via donor insemination and raises several children with her long-term female partner
Give up? The answer?assuming that they all have biological or adopted adult children between the ages of 18 and 39?is that they would all be counted as ?Lesbian Mothers? or ?Gay Fathers? in Mark Regnerus?s new study.
And for the fifth point, David Badash at the (problematically named) blog The New Civil Rights Movement goes into some depth about Regnerus?s ideology, funders, and ties, including his religious belief in abstaining from sex until heterosexual marriage.
Ross Douthat, of all people, while noting that he agrees with Regnerus?s underlying sexually conservative outlook, comments:
Regnerus?s study is necessarily a look backward. No matter where they lived or how they were treated by their peers, many of his subjects came of age when homosexuality was still marginalized and despised and gay marriage barely on the radar screen. The majority were born to male-female couples in which one partner later came out as gay (adding an extra layer of complexity and heartbreak), rather than being planned via adoption, sperm donation or in vitro fertilization. Almost none were raised in a single same-sex household for their entire childhood. Today the models of gay parenting have presumably shifted, the stability of gay households has presumably increased, and the outcomes for children may be shifting as well.
The old, discredited parenting studies used to do this: Compare the children of intact heterosexual families with the children of lesbian families formed after a heterosexual divorce. For serious research, go to Judith Stacey or Michael Lamb, the dean of research into fatherhood. When I wrote my book on marriage, I loved diving into Lamb?s studies, which reveal his surprise that while a second parent is extremely helpful, fathers don?t add anything distinctive because of their gender; rather, they bring a second perspective, an additional source of support and love, and all those extra resources that protect against poverty. Nan Polikoff summarizes his findings on child adjustment nicely here.
Given so many big and small guns aimed at this little study, why am I writing about it at such length? Because it is profoundly dangerous.
Years ago, I used to write about the parenting studies without much emotion. I read them pretty thoroughly, and was unsurprised that they basically found no differences between children raised by a man and a woman, and children raised by a woman and a woman. (At the time, there were no studies on children raised by two men.) That just made sense to me. How could the sex of the parents possibly matter? Consider that, historically, most children did not reach adulthood with both biological parents alive. Mothers died in childbirth. Both parents died of skin infections, minor tumors, farm accidents, the flu, the plague?things we?re now protected from by vaccinations, antibiotics, surgery, handwashing, plumbing, Clorox. Over those millennia of early mortality, children came of age in an astounding array of family structures: a father and grandfather, a mother and aunts, stepfamilies, boarding schools, a little village of your father?s wives and half-siblings. If the only way you could reach a healthy and productive adulthood was with two biological parents, the human race could never have survived. And given the variation from one father to another?from an easygoing Mr. Rogers type to a Marine drill sergeant who checks your bed for hospital corners, from a sexually abusive alcoholic to a wealthy man who becomes a dad by his third wife at age 65?how could ?fatherhood? possibly be lumped into one bucket? What could the mothering styles of Courtney Love, Hillary Clinton, Amy Chua, and your neighborhood church lady possibly have in common? The characters and behavior of the individuals involved?their affection, attachment, consistency, and reliability?have to be more important than having non-matching sets of genitals. Or as the social scientists say, family behavior counts more than family structure.
But I don?t feel blithe about this any more, now that I?m a parent. Very few people read deeply into social science. In fact, I dare say very few of you have made it this far in my absurdly long post. What most people hear are the headlines, which do make their way into the cultural conversation. Right-wing organizations are already rubbing their hands, ready to wield this crap in their campaigns.
And that?s dangerous. I don?t want my child hearing this nonsense parroted by someone else?s child. I don?t want him made to feel ashamed of the family he loves*. Because that really does hurt kids.
The only possible reason for Slate (full disclosure: I?ve published there in the past) to run this dangerous propaganda was to bring in clicks. You can tell they knew it was crap; above the article, they included a link to William Saletan?s analysis tearing it apart. But running it is still appalling and irresponsible. Slate?s editors should be ashamed.
*(Loves except, of course, on those days when he tells me I?m The Worst Mother In The World for enforcing bedtime or insisting he does his homework.)
The Senate Banking Committee hearing with Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase is scheduled to begin at this hour. A preview of today’s proceedings, including Jamie Dimon’s written testimony, is available here. You can watch the hearing on C-SPAN.[...]
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The management of the Eurozone debt crisis is dysfunctional. In our assessment, to save the Euro, policy makers must focus on competitiveness, common sense and communication. If policy makers strived to achieve just one of these principles, the Euro might outshine the U.S. dollar.
Let’s start with the simplest of them all: communication. In a crisis, great leaders have a no-nonsense approach to communication: providing unembellished facts, a vision, a path on how to get there, as well as progress reports. Just as in any crisis, such a leader typically only has limited influence on … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Saving the Euro
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I missed this while I was at Netroots Nation, but it's pretty awesome:
I look forward to spending a little more time with you. Thank you. Garret, would you see that one of those chocolate, uhhh, [pause] uhhhhhh [pause] chocolate goodies finds its way to our ride?To cut Willard some slack, I bet he thought it was a donut, but was scared it was actually a crueller and didn't want to sound gauche.
There's chatter this morning that Dems are worried that President Obama can't get his economic message right. He should be talking more about the future, not just what's happened over the last three and a half years. He should be arguing that his[...]
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Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Wednesday asked JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who recently announced that his company had lost at least $2 billion in the derivative market, to "guide" Congress in creating friendly banking regulations.
During a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing, DeMint told Dimon that lawmakers had no right to judge JPMorgan for their massive losses.
"We can hardly sit in judgement of your losing $2 billion," the junior senator from South Carolina explained. "We lose twice that every day here in Washington and plan to continue to do that every day. It's comforting to know that even with a $2 billion loss in a trade last year, your company still, I think, had a $19 billion profit. During that same period, we lost over a trillion dollars."
"As you can tell, there's a temptation here. Every time something goes amiss, we want to add a regulation, and we've surrounded the banking industry with so many regulations and we still seem to have problems here and there," DeMint added. "I think we do need to recognize that you are a very big bank, the biggest in the world. You've got very big profits. Periodically you're going to have big losses and we need to look at that as part of doing business."
The senator continued by asking Dimon "for some ideas of what you think we need to do ... to allow the industry to operate better."
"I believe in strong regulation, not always more," the CEO replied. "I would prefer a simple, clean, strong regulatory system with real intelligent design. And that's not what we did. We created a really complex, hard to figure out who's responsible, no one could adjudicate between all the various regulatory agencies."
"Obviously as we've seen, the laws and regulations are not necessarily improving things," DeMint agreed. "Some of the things you've done voluntarily -- and other banks -- like capital requirements. I think a best practice -- if we could do anything to encourage the industry to develop a lot of its own voluntary rules, that would guide us a lot better."
"So I guess if I could just leave you with any one thing, if you could come back this time next year and talk about how the industry has put together large-scale, best-practice committees, that would help us keep banking as a private enterprise rather than as a government institution."
A reader submitted this post:
It tells the now-familiar story of how an unwary person was conned by Michelle Rhee’s Students First. The reader was going through her email, and along came a “puppies-and-kittens” petition from Change.org, and “Click!”
Too late: “And suddenly, there it was?the wolf in sheep?s clothing, the Trojan horse of all Trojan horses: Join the Fight to Save Great Teachers…