Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nutcase Alert! Is It A Full Moon?

Sometimes I just don't know whether to laugh or cry.

First, the labor movement's attempt to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) allowing for card-check recognition of unions rather than the traditional bankrupt NLRB elections is gaining so much support in Congress that it's bringing the wackjobs out of the loonytoon closet.

We've already written, ad nauseum, about Richard Berman and his corporate-backed anti-union Center or Union "Facts" (sic). Now we have "former union activist" (which somehow adds credibility) Peter A. List striking fear into the hearts of vulnerable freedom-loving, terrorist-fearing Americans
"One of the biggest threats facing America today is the threat from today's labor movement and the Employee Free Choice Act, a euphemism for what should be more aptly called the Kill American Jobs Act," explains Mr. List. "If this destructive legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law, it will be the biggest political payoff in history to any special interest group and will have a devastating impact on small businesses and American jobs."
Ooo, sounds bad. Why, it seems only yesterday that the "biggest political payoff in history to any special interest group" were Bush's tax cuts, or was it the bankruptcy bill, or the repeal of the ergonomics standard? It's so hard to keep track of these things.

List's view of American history is also a bit skewed -- particularly for a "former union activist."

"After killing off entire industries in America," List explains, "it seems rather depraved that today's unions have become so pathetically desperate that they are willing to sacrifice the rest of America's workers whose jobs are vulnerable to globalization in order to unionize jobs that they deem can't be outsourced.'"
Now this is a rather curious statement, particularly in view of a New York Times article earlier this week that the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. Meanwhile, productivity has been rising steadily. But, of course, everyone's not losing:
In 2004, the top 1 percent of earners — a group that includes many chief executives — received 11.2 percent of all wage income, up from 8.7 percent a decade earlier and less than 6 percent three decades ago, according to Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, economists who analyzed the tax data.
And what's one major reason for this sad state of affairs, according to the Times? You guessed it, "the weakness of trade unions." In other words, a rising tide doesn't raise all boats unless someone is powerful and organized enough to make sure all boats get raised. (More on that here.)

You can check out his full press release if you have the stomach. One thing I'll give him is that what he lacks in reason, honesty and intelligence, he makes up for in hyperbole.

OK, moving right along to the next group of nutcases.

You may have heard that CBS is running an updated version of the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning documentary "9/11" on Sunday, Sept. 10, in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the 2001 attacks. The documentary is an eyewitness account of the World Trade Center attack by firefighters and first-responders.

So what's the problem? Witnessing one of the greatest disasters in American history, some of the first responders filmed in the documentary regretfully lost their heads and used harsh language -- profanity that has rarely, if ever, been heard on network television. Although CBS has already aired it uncut twice before (with warnings), the Federal Communications Commission -- still obsessing over Janet Jackson's breast -- has since raised fines for on-air profanity to $325,000 per instance.

And as you might imagine, those right-wing religious guardians of our morals are having a shit-fit problem. Apparently fearing that children will be more traumatized by hearing the "F-word" or the "S-word" than they will by viewing people jumping out of buildings to their deaths and thousands dying beneath two collapsed skyscrapers, the American Family Association (defending "traditional American values") is calling for an "outpouring of complaints" to CBS and the FCC (emphasis in the original):
"9/11," which will be shown in prime-time, contains a tremendous amount of hardcore profanity. CBS has stated they have not, and will not, make any cuts in the amount and degree of profanity. CBS will ignore the law. The network is suing the FCC over the indecency law, saying they should be able to show whatever they desire whenever they desire. CBS wants no limits.

This is a test case for CBS to see how far they can go. If there is no out-pouring of complaints from the public, they will go further the next time.

CBS could very easily bleep out the profanity, but they refuse. The goal of CBS is to be able to show whatever they want at anytime. The network wants no restraints on their programming. If they are allowed to get away with this, they will simply air even more profanity in the future....
Or at least whenever terrorists knock down a couple of tall buildings.

I think Kathy Kirkland, director of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics said it best:
This one is personal. I've been speaking daily with responders to WTC. What they saw was the profanity, not what they said. If you haven't seen the documentary under discussion, plan to watch but do so with a stiff drink. This isn't a scripted melodrama, this was real life and should be shown as such.
She's suggesting that we organize our own outpouring by writing to CBS and the FCC to support the bleepless airing of "9/11." You can find your local CBS affiliate here and you can e-mail the FCC here.

Do it. Otherwise the terrorists have won.