The UnionBuilt PC “LeaderBoard” The ‘Birdies, Bogeys and Pars’ of Union Leadership
– Guest Post by Fred Romanuk, Ph.D.
I asked Pete Marchese if I could write a monthly article on ‘Union Leadership’. He said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you write something and we’ll see if anyone reads it.” But, first, do a Bio so people know who you are”.
So, here goes. My name is Fred Romanuk, I am a Canadian, I worked out of Vancouver for most of my life from my own company, but from Baltimore for a number of years as Senior VP for an international consulting company, and I am an ‘Organizational Psychologist’. That simply refers to the fact that I have a Ph.D. in organizational psychology.
So what does that mean?
Well, to illustrate, there were 2 farmers talking to each other across a fence about their kids.
The first farmer said, “I here yer boy went off to College”.
The second farmer replied, “Yup, yup, he did”.
“What’s he doin there”? asked the first farmer.
“Well, he told me he wants to get this here BS Degree”.
“I reckon I know what that stands fer” said the second farmer.
“Yup, yup” said the first farmer. “Then he wants to stay there and get this here MS degree”.
“What does that stand fer?” asked the second farmer.
“I reckon that stands fer, More of the Same”
“What is he goin to do then” asked the first farmer.
“Well, then we wants to get this here Ph.D.”
“So what does that stand fer?” asked the second farmer.
“I reckon that stands fer, Piled Higher and Deeper“
* * *
Most of what I know about organizations I learned from my clients, not from school. And, I am a damn good Organizational Psychologist. I have worked with companies for 40 years and Unions for about 20 years. During that time, I have coached many Supervisors into Managers, Managers into VP’s and VP’s into Presidents. Now I want to coach Stewards, Union Reps, Business Agents, Local VP’s and Presidents to become better leaders.
The long and the short of it is that Unions need to get better at what they do.
I have worked with organizations in Canada, the USA and Europe. Some of my clients include Roadbuilders, Mining Companies, Manufacturers, Retail Stores, and Electric and Gas Utilities. I consulted with Panasonic in New Jersey, British Electricity International in London, and a Swiss Bank in Geneva. I have a lot to say.
Next month, I want to talk about “Giving Good Phone”.
Freedom is one of the most cherished American principles. But freedom means more than the ability to speak your mind, practice your religion, or choose your own democratically elected leaders. Our freedoms don’t end with the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Freedom is also the ability to enjoy economic security and stability. And that means more than making a decent living and having enough to pay the bills. It’s about both financially supporting our families and having time to be there for them. Freedom is the ability to take your mom or dad to a doctor’s appointment, to attend a parent-teacher conference, and to retire with dignity.
Unions provide the power in numbers that allow workers to secure and protect these freedoms.
Unions champion policies that benefit all Americans. They fight for affordable healthcare for all, especially now, as Congress is considering legislation which would inexplicably throw millions of people off the insurance rolls.
Unions fight to improve the quality of public services. Union member Tyrone Wooten is an environmental technician at a medical facility in Flint, Michigan. He knows firsthand the devastating impact of the water supply contamination in his community. And he traveled 14 hours by bus last year to Washington, to protest the testimony of the Michigan governor, whose austerity policies led to the water crisis in Flint.
Unions are also on the front lines when it comes to retirement security participating actively in protecting public pensions and safeguarding Social Security.
It’s hard to believe anyone could be against pregnant women and infants having quality health services, families having clean drinking water, or retirees having rock-solid Social Security benefits. But many people actually are. The privileged and powerful — CEOs, massive corporations, and the wealthiest 1 percent — do not just oppose these freedoms. They rig the rules to undermine them and they spend billions of dollars lobbying against them.
And because Unions fight for these freedoms, the moneyed interests have made Unions a target. They want to use the courts to chip away at the rights and protections Unions have won for everyone. They have now petitioned the Supreme Court to take a case called Janus v. AFSCME, in which the plaintiffs seek to impose “right-to-work” as the law of the land in the public sector.
Right-to-work threatens the ability of working people to stand together in a strong Unions, drives down wages and weakens workplace protections, while redistributing wealth upward. Moreover, right-to-work has its roots in the Jim Crow south, where segregationists pushed it to restrict the labor rights of African Americans and keep them from finding common cause with their white coworkers. Right-to-work, in other words, was created to inhibit freedom.
Americans value their freedom, and they define it broadly. It is the ability to earn a decent paycheck without sacrificing family life. It is the opportunity to live in a safe community and send your kids to a decent school. It is the peace of mind of knowing that an injury or illness won’t ruin you financially and that you can live in some modest comfort in your golden years.
The labor movement believes in — and are the guardians of — all of these freedoms. So, as the corporate special interests gear up for another well-funded attack, let us do everything in our power to protect and defend our freedom to join together in a union.
President Trump is looking for a surefire conservative for the Supreme Court. For all the escalating rancor, this round to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia could be the prelude to a more consequential battle. The possibility of a second Supreme Court vacancy in the near future is subtly affecting the strategy of the Republican Trump team in the final stages of selecting a candidate and of Democratic opponents girding for what could be years of political turmoil surrounding the composition of America’s highest court.
Scalia, who died last February, was a rigid conservative on social issues so Trump’s replacement would likely be a wash. But a Trump successor to either of the two eldest justices — liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will turn 84 in March, or centrist-conservative Anthony Kennedy, turning 81 in July — could truly transform the law in America.
How the Fate of Unions Fell Into The Hands of a Single Man
In Commonwealth v. Hunt, (1842), an American legal case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the common-law doctrine of criminal conspiracy did not apply to labor unions. Until then, workers’ attempts to establish closed shops had been subject to prosecution. Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw asserted, however, that trade unions were legal and that they had the right to strike or take other steps of peaceful coercion to raise wages and ban nonunion workers.
The case stemmed from a demand by the Boston Journeymen Bootmakers’ Society that an employer fire one of its members who had disobeyed the society’s rules. The employer, fearing a strike, complied, but the dismissed employee complained to the district attorney, who then drew an indictment charging the society with conspiracy. The Boston Municipal Court found the union guilty.
Justice Shaw, hearing the case on appeal, altered the traditional criteria for conspiracy by holding that the mere act of combining for some purpose was not illegal. Only those combinations intended “to accomplish some criminal or unlawful purpose, or to accomplish some purpose, not in itself criminal or unlawful, by criminal or unlawful means” could be prosecuted.
Shaw, in effect, legalized the American labor union movement by this decision.
Let’s hope that the inevitable Democratic show of force on the first nomination serves as a warning to Trump not to put up an uncompromising conservative for a more consequential opening.
President-elect Donald Trump had the most perfect New Year’s tweet. And by perfect, we mean perfectly awful. Say what you will, the man has an uncanny ability to compress his entire sick personality into a mere 140 characters.
“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” he tweeted.
It’s a little hard to celebrate the end of 2016, a truly awful year, when in 20 days, this petty, vindictive man with the maturity and impulse control of a five-year-old and the ossified views of a dinosaur will be president. Though you may be cowering under your bed in dread at the idea, we thought we’d take you on a little stroll to recap of some of the horrors and absurdities the right wing visited upon us during the year that was.
1. Donald Trump staged a year-long assault on the truth.
Donald Trump lies all the time. He lies malignantly, and he lies ridiculously. His entire political career is founded on the birther lie, which he still brags about. He ran his campaign on lies about black crime, dangerous immigrants and non-existent jobs, more or less defrauding the American people the same way he defrauded the students of Trump University. In some cases, the lies he told were so demonstrably false that they were almost funny. Almost.
“There is no drought,” Donald Trump told Californians while campaigning in the drought-stricken state last May.
If there is a water problem, he continued, it’s because someone closed the water, so Trump is going to open it.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” Trump said.
It’s just so crazy to say this. Arguably, it’s one thing to deny climate change, which is a bit complicated and requires scientists to explain it. But droughts? Not to mention air pollution. Dude, we can see those.
Another bizarre lie in the final days of the campaign was a depiction of how President Obama dealt with a protester at a Clinton campaign rally.
“He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him,” Trump told his insanely gullible crowd in Tampa, Florida.
“By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they [the mean old media] would say, he became unhinged! He spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”
This was, in fact, the very opposite of what happened. In what was televised for all to see, President Obama urged the slightly rowdy crowd to take it easy on the protester, who was older and appeared to be a veteran.
So this was not just a lie, it was a masterpiece of projection. For Donald Trump is the one who consistently endangered protesters at his rallies by inciting his supporters to rough them up and worse.
The persistence and outrageousness of Trump’s many lies can be attributed the sobering reality that the Trump era helped usher in the post-truth world we now find ourselves living in. The tweeter-in-chief spreads conspiracy theories, spins minor victories into major coups and occasionally in an unguarded moment spews some accidental truth about how he can’t believe so many people actually believe anything he says.
But still, you’re not supposed to just come out and say that truth and facts don’t matter.
CNN Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes confirmed all of our worst fears after the election when she said, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU, an NPR affiliate.
She was explaining the truth according to Trump to her fellow aghast panelists when it comes to Trump’s claim that “millions of fraudulent voters” gave Hillary Clinton her 2.8 million popular vote victory.
Here is what Hughes purported to be her logic:
“Mr. Trump’s tweets amongst a certain crowd, a large—a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some, in his, amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”
That is seriously scary. We have a president and his minions who now believe truth is what he says it is.
Trump’s videotaped assertions that he could grab women by the genitals because he is famous threw some of his surrogates into disarray, though not all. And a few of them performed some of the more hilarious contortions seen on the campaign trail to deflect attention from the damaging revelations.
One was Newt Gingrich who reinforced his already creepy image by conflating sex and sexual assault in a dustup with Megyn Kelly in October. While she pressed for answers and expressed concerns for women’s safety, Gingrich countered with the accusation that Kelly is “fascinated with sex,” because she kept talking about it.
Funnier still was Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor or New York, whose nutjob takedown of Obamacare invented the concept of death panels. She argued that if you like Beyoncé’s music, you can’t complain about sexual assault. Like other right-wingers, she seemed to think the problem with the leaked video was Trump’s foul language, rather than the whole rapey/consent thing.
Hillary Clinton, a fan of Beyoncé, likes bad words more than Donald Trump, McCaughey argued, before whipping out and performing the lyrics to “Formation.”
“‘I came to slay, bitch. When he f-ed me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.’ That happens to be from Beyoncé, her favorite performer,” McCaughey said of Clinton. “Whom she says she idolizes and would like to imitate. There’s a lot of hypocrisy, in Hillary Clinton expressing such horror at language on the bus.”
McCaughey was triumphant. She really scored there.
Later, after several women accused Trump of sexually assault, McCaughey called their accusations an example of “man-shaming” and suggested the women should not be believed.
“With all due respect, that was the same thing that the folks over at Bill Cosby’s camp said,” CNN Don Lemon pointed out.
“Well, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong,” McCaughey countered.
In October, Ted Cruz, who for some reason had forgotten that everyone including his own party detests him, floated an idea about the Supreme Court. Maybe, if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency, Senate Republicans really would just take all of their toys and go home and stonewall on any Supreme Court appointment she attempted to make. So there.
“There is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” Cruz lied at a campaign event. “Just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”
Cruz’s threat did not quite pack the punch of fellow tea partier Joe Walsh’s threat to “grab a musket” if the election did not go Trump’s way, but was more in Cruz’s trademark mealy-mouthed and thoroughly dishonest style.
For starters, there is no long history of that, and secondly, Breyer did not say that. The Senate’s inaction on Supreme Court appointees has severely affected the high court’s ability to do its job. Deadlocking on cases involving immigration and unions and other vital issues means the court is literally failing to do its job, which is to decide things.
The Supreme Court is only the best known example of the harm GOP stonewalling has done to the judiciary. Republicans have confirmed only 18 of Obama’s federal court nominees, and created a “judicial emergency,” which is a term for when courts are so back-logged and caseloads are so high that Americans’ access to justice is endangered.
Cruz knows about this judicial emergency and has gleefully propagated it. Unlike his idiotic fellow traveler John McCain, whom Cruz was echoing. Cruz is a lawyer and touts himself as a constitutionalist, but for some reason it’s okay for him to ignore the part of the U.S. Constitution that gives the power of appointing justices to the current president of the United States.
Cut to present and Cruz’s name has sickeningly been floated for a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, while Cruz accused the Democrats of threatening to be the most obstructionist party in history.
Ha! One hopes.
5. Melania Trump’s barely hidden misogyny revealed itself in an interview with Anderson Cooper.
At first glance, Melania Trump did a good job of seeming like a decent and sane person in her softball interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in October. She reported that her husband had apologized to her about bragging he sexually assaults women, and that she accepted his apology. But she pointed out, it was not his fault. Billy Bush made him do it. Donald is, she acknowledged, a big kid, barely more mature than their 11-year-old, Barron.
But her mixed messages about her husband’s level of maturity were only part of the problem. On closer inspection, there was quite a bit of misogyny lurking behind her words, and viewing women as the real predators seems pretty firmly ensconced in her worldview. Since boys will of course be endearing if potty-mouthed boys, Melania blamed the manipulative women who are always hitting on her husband, sometimes right in front of her, throwing themselves at him. This was in the context of talking about sexual assault allegations, so the unmistakable conclusion was that she was implying some women are asking for it.
As for Natasha Stoynoff, the People magazine writer who said Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a Lago, the most important thing Melania wanted to convey was that she was never friends with Stoynoff and would not recognize her on Fifth Avenue, despite the fact that Stoynoff attended the Trumps’ wedding. (And the most important thing Mr. Trump would have you know is that Stoynoff is not his idea of attractive enough for him to sexually assault. Stoynoff has recently confirmed that knowing Trump would attack her looks did give her pause before going public with her ordeal. How many more?)
6. Rudy ‘9/11’ Giuliani conveniently forgot when 9/11 happened.
In September, self-proclaimed September 11 hero mayor Rudy Giuliani managed to forget when 9/11 happened so that he could make the laughably false statement that there were no terrorist incidents before President Obama took office. Around the same time he made that brain fart, and right after the first debate in which Trump tanked badly, Rudy posted a banner week sucking up Trump’s fumes. Here were some of the lowlights:
Immediately following the debate, Giuliani was the first to float the idea that Trump should skip the rest of the debates. Why? Because Trump blew it so badly, and his gnat-like attention span prevents him from actually preparing? No, because it was rigged! Lester Holt was so unfair when he corrected Trump a few times on his lies! (Especially when Holt pointed out to Trump that the police practice he and Giuliani so love, stop-and-frisk, is unconstitutional and racist.)
Later in the week, Giuliani joined the fray in criticizing Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, because that’s just extremely relevant to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and Giuliani has always been an exemplary husband and father. Because he cares so much about women and children, Giuliani helpfully pointed out how “stupid” Hillary is to have stayed with Bill. In the same dizzying spew, Giuliani called Trump a “feminist” for hiring women (even if he fat-shames them and fires them for not being attractive enough). He also claimed Bill Clinton “violated” Monica Lewinsky, and as a former prosecutor, isn’t he supposed to know that’s not the case?
By the end of the week, Giuliani decided it was appropriate to make racist, anti-immigrant remarks and insult Mexicans working in the kitchen at the Waldorf Astoria during a black-tie event there, even managing to offend the various business leaders assembled. Red-faced, the head of the Commercial Finance Association, obviously a left-wing organization, was forced to issue a formal apology to attendees.
Diagnosis: The bile has finally eaten all the way through Giuliani’s brain.
7. Britt Hume idiotically whined about how he’s not even allowed to say Hillary Clinton is shrill and needs to smile more.
Hume, Fox News’ so-called reasonable one, gave the following critique after Hillary Clinton’s Democratic convention speech: “She has a habit, when speaking, of breaking into a kind of a sharp, lecturing tone, [it] makes you feel like. She has a great asset, as a public person, which is a radiant smile, but she has a not-so-attractive voice.”
Now, technically, he did not actually use the word “shrill” having somehow gotten the message that that word is not very well-disguised sexism. A few weeks later, Hume and Tucker Carlson were having a little chat about what they can and cannot say about Hillary Clinton. It’s so frustrating being a white male these days. Everybody’s always picking on you, trying to take away the privileges to which you’ve become accustomed.
They were discussing the outrage of Clinton not smiling enough while she was talking to the families of dead soldiers during the “Commander-in-Chief” forum. Carlson said he admires Clinton’s toughness (ha! no), but thinks she undercuts that when she mentions the sexism in the media’s coverage of her. How so? Not sure.
But poor Hume just doesn’t even know what he can say anymore, everything has become so unfair.
“You know at the Democratic convention, I was on after her speech, and it struck me that she did some things effectively in that speech, particularly her critique of Donald Trump,” Hume said. “But she seemed—and she has at other times in the campaign—to be kind of angry and joyless, and yes, unsmiling. I said that on the air, and I really caught it on Twitter from people who said, ‘You’re just a sexist, I can’t believe somebody’s saying that.’ But it raises this question, Tucker, in America today, is it possible for a woman to be shrill, and if so, or joyless, or unsmiling, is it possible for somebody to say that without ending up in jail?”
The dreadful persecution of Hume and other men who wish to call women shrill with impunity continues.
8. Pond scum emerges, says vile scummy things, gets book contract.
If there is a more despicable piece of shower mold than Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, we do not know it.
In a mediascape that normalized Trump’s demagogic drunk uncle act and legitimized him into the presidency, this other creature from a hateful lagoon was granted a hearing on ABC “Nightline” with Terry Moran.
Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign against the comedian Leslie Jones, something he is apparently proud of.
“I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll,” Yiannopoulos bizarrely self-aggrandized in the interview.
We like to think of him with a stake driven through his tongue, but hey, we like to think lots of things.
Moran thought maybe he could pull some decency out of this cockroach, and asked if Yiannopoulos would tell Jones “she looks like a dude” in person.
Moran again tried to reason with the moron. “You’re going to go after somebody’s body to denigrate their ideas? What grade are you in? Seriously. Are you a 13-year-old boy? Because somebody doesn’t have a weight that you think is proper? That’s revolting.”
Revolting is a word Yiannopoulos can relate to.
“I’ll tell you what’s revolting,” Yiannopoulos responded. “What’s revolting is the body positivity movement. What’s revolting is this idea now that you can tell women that they’ll be healthy at any size.”
And now, having discussed this vile piece of bellybutton lint, we need to go take a bath.
9. Trump sons went from comparing refugees to Skittles to just making sh*t up.
It was Donald Trump, Jr. who compared refugees to Skittles, prompting the candymaker to distance itself from the Trump campaign (as Tic Tac later did). But it was son Eric who made up the absurd original lie of his father’s sh*tshow of a campaign in the fall. He swore it was not President Obama’s Kenyan birth or his secret status as a Muslim Manchurian candidate, it was a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love a Christmas story?
During an interview, Eric said Trump entered the political sphere because the Obama/Grinches stole Chistmas. “He sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed Holiday tree instead of Christmas tree. I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.”
One teeny tiny leetle problem. It’s not true. As in has no basis in reality. Didn’t happen. Throughout the Obama administration, the White House Christmas Tree has been called the “White House Christmas Tree.” It’s not even the “White House Xmas Tree.”
So this is a made-up story, a myth, a manufactured crisis, and all part of the nonexistent war on Christmas that isn’t being waged anywhere.
Eric also pointed out other pseudo outrages galvanizing his father’s run.
“He opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck,” Eric Trump told the Stream’s James Robinson.
There are just a few things wrong with this statement. Chiefly, Donald Trump doesn’t open a paper. He opens his Twitter feed, Fox News or maybe Breitbart. Sometimes he glances at the National Enquirer, especially if “people are saying” there’s a good conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father or Hillary Clinton’s health on the cover.
The Kool-Aid in the Trump household was clearly very strong.
10. Before Trump surrogate Carl Paladino said horrendously racist and hateful things about the Obamas, he said other horrible racist things.
Back in August, while Trump was attacking the Khan family for having an American war hero son while being Muslim, his pal and upstate New York school board official Carl Paladino went on “Imus in the Morning” to defend his right to do so. He started by making up stuff about Hillary Clinton.
“We’ve got an unindicted felon [he means Clinton] as his opponent and you’re talking about Khan, about [Trump] making a remark about this man? All right, I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion. I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”
It’s hard to be worse than Trump himself, but apparently manageable for some.
Keeping the level of discourse as high as possible, Paladino went on to insist that Obama is a Muslim and Hillary Clinton is “devious” for hiding her alleged health problems (that have been thorougly debunked).
“But if you’re really looking at what’s been exposed about Hillary and Hillary’s demeanor, I mean, just look at the deviousness. If it is true about her health problems, I mean, how devious can a woman possibly be? And not telling the American people that she’s got some sickness, she’s definitely impaired.”
Diagnosis: Paladino is morally impaired.
11. Bill O’Reilly instructed black people to hate Black Lives Matter.
In December Bill O’Reilly let his white aupremacist flag fly in a rant about opponents of the Electoral College.
But we shouldn’t let that despicable moment obscure another despicable moment back in July, when several police officers in Dallas were gunned down after a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, which had nothing to do with the shooting.
O’Reilly took the opportunity to insist that everyone must hate and fear Black Lives Matter immediately. He and other Fox Newsians spent a good deal of their post-Dallas airtime whipping up as much hysteria and anger as possible against a group that has a name and a message no sane person can argue with. But sane people do not sit at Fox roundtables, as an episode of “Outnumbered” clearly shows. Meanwhile, colleagues Megyn Kelly and racist ex-cop Mark Fuhrman took it upon themselves to lecture black people to stop exaggerating problems with the police. You got that, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling?
But O’Reilly is just so sick and tired of black people not listening to him when he tells them what is good for them. Speaking to his guest, NAACP director Hilary Shelton, O’Reilly said, “So, you know what I think? I think that if you really want, if African Americans really want to bring the country together and have good racial relations, they have to distance themselves from Black Lives Matter. Am I wrong?”
Yeah, you’re wrong, Shelton said, explaining that the Black Lives Matter marches are occurring for a very good reason. And lots of people understand that.
But white people ha-a-a-te Black Lives Matter, O’Reilly whined, mistaking the echo chamber in his head for reality once again. “White Americans despise this crew. And if black Americans don’t understand that, we’re just going to grow further apart.”
Shelton carried on saying reasonable things that were in the spirit of bringing people together, among other things pointing out that people of all races join Black Lives Matter marches and believe in the movement and in justice for all Americans.
All on deaf ears. O’Reilly was just too busy breaking the douchebag-o-meter.
12. Fox Newsians said—with straight faces—that asking Trump for his tax return was discrimination against rich people.
No, seriously, Kimberly Guilfoyle really did say this. She and her co-hosts from “The Five” were discussing this terrible miscarriage of justice—the fact that Mitt Romney suggested there might be a bombshell in Donald Trump’s unreleased tax returns, and that now everyone is all over his case to release them. The Donald had up with various reasons not to produce them, including the hilarious statement that the IRS picks on him because he’s such a strong Christian. One suspects the real secret the Donald is hiding is that he is not nearly as wealthy as he makes himself out to be, which is the only revelation in the universe that could bring the shameless reality star the remotest sense of shame.
But Guilfoyle and equally idiotic Eric Bolling just thought it was so mean—so, so rude—to ask the Donald to produce his tax returns. Co-host Dana Perino tried to explain that the office of the presidency is that of a public servant, not the gold-plated throne from which to order decrees that Trump imagines it to be, and pointed out that although taxes are “complicated for [insert the word rich] people,” they would likely be an issue in the general election.
Juan Williams pointed out that Donald’s taxes are “relevant right now.”
Guilfoyle jumped all over that, whining, “What about discrimination, Juan?”
“Against rich people,” Guilfoyle said. “And one percenters. Nobody ever asks to see the poor—it’s so rude.”
What those striking are now bravely confronting in Atlantic City should resonate deeply with American workers, their unions, and beyond
In Atlantic City workers at the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel, members of UNITE HERE Local 54 wagered a struggle that should make it one of those crystallizing flashpoints that garner national attention and mobilize support from the entire labor movement, progressives, and working people at large.
Such flashpoints arise only occasionally in workers’ struggles for justice. In living memory, for example, Eastern Airlines, PATCO, Pittston, the Decatur wars, UPS, and most recently Verizon are among those that have attained that status.
Those flashpoints of national concern and mobilization occur when what particular groups of workers are fighting for and against connects with broader tendencies and concerns in workplaces and the society in general. Downsizing, speedup, outsourcing, privatization, capital flight, unsafe working conditions, profitable employers’ demands for concessions that imperil workers’ standard of living are all among conditions that have triggered those moments.
The striking Trump Taj Mahal workers are involved in precisely such a fundamental struggle now, one that should resonate far and wide among American workers and their unions.
How It Started
Nearly 1,000 cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail servers and other workers there went on strike on July 1—the culmination of a twenty-month struggle to restore pay and benefit cuts that Donald Trump’s crony and notorious billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn imposed on workers after obtaining permission to do so from a bankruptcy judge. Last year, it should be noted, Trump indicated that if elected he “would love to bring my friend Carl Icahn” to his administration as Treasury Secretary.
The Trump Taj Mahal Bankruptcy Ruling’s Devastation
Following the bankruptcy ruling, Trump Taj Mahal workers lost health insurance, pensions, even severance pay. Workers have seen their average total compensation cut by more than a third. One striker with a chronic medical condition recently died alone at home without access to medical care, and there is no reason to believe that his case is unique. There are many other horror stories, including workers faced with losing their homes and apartments in addition to suffering other material and emotional hardships.
Why This Fight is Everybody’s Fight
The Trump Taj Mahal strike is an important moment for us all because these workers are on the frontline against forces that threaten us all and that lay bare what a Donald Trump presidency would have in store for millions of American workers.
Both Trump, who built the Taj Mahal, and Icahn, who is the current owner, have taken millions from the property, driven it into bankruptcy, and left the workers holding the bag. Icahn, as Trump Taj Mahal’s sole debtholder between 2010 and 2014, took $350 million out of the business. Icahn has a long history—going back nearly thirty years to his takeover of TWA airlines—of bleeding companies of assets, gutting pensions and benefits, and then tossing aside the firms’ hollowed out carcasses. Manipulation of employer-friendly bankruptcy laws has also been a Trump specialty, one that he has used on several occasions to stiff contractors, going back to when he was the original “too big to fail” scamster at the beginning of the 1990s. Combined, Trump and Icahn have used the bankruptcy tool at the Taj Mahal multiple times.
Another reason we need to see the Trump Taj Mahal strike as all our fight—in addition to the outrageous injustice and hardship Icahn has perpetrated on these workers—is that this struggle in Atlantic City sheds light on some important mystifications that need to be clarified if we hope to turn the tide against the intensifying predatory assaults on American workers’ standard of living.
The Taj Mahal fight is a frontline battle in the systematic attacks on working people’s living standards in this country perpetrated by the likes of Donald Trump and Carl Icahn and their ideological affiliates Mike Pence, Scott Walker, Bruce Rauner, Pat McCrory, Paul Ryan and the Congressional Republicans, the education “reform” billionaires, the Koch brothers and ALEC, the many tentacles of the carceral state, all of whom are intent on destroying public goods and services, and good public jobs, if not the very idea of a public. To keep the focus on Icahn and Trump, however, what better poster boys could there be for the predatory “billionaire class”?
If the Trump Taj Mahal was permitted to operate on the terms Icahn imposed, workers, the union, and the broader community understand that the result would be a local race to the bottom, as other casino operators would argue that they have to compete with Icahn’s sweatshop model to remain viable. As by far the dominant industry in the city, the hospitality and gaming sector is directly linked to the economic health and well-being not only of casino workers but of the community at large. It is decent hospitality sector jobs that enable workers to buy houses and provide the backbone for the entire local economy.
And Atlantic City is not alone. Icahn’s attack on Taj Mahal workers is of a piece with broader right-wing attempts to drive down workers’ living standards everywhere. This is what is behind the systematic attacks on teachers’ unions and other public sector unions and efforts to destroy the national postal service. Partly it stems from a desire to eliminate any organized expressions of workers’ power, to clear the way to realizing the other objective: creation of a world in which we would have no alternative other than to accept work on whatever terms employers choose to offer it.
That, of course, would be employers’ utopia and workers’ hell.
The issues at the core of the Trump Taj Mahal strike reflect the concerns shared broadly by workers in this country. The struggle presents a clear window onto the danger within the false promises Trump seems to offer some, and the strikers and their union provide a clear, practical model of the sort of movement we will need to change this country’s political direction to center on the needs of working people.
Making this fight a national issue on the order of those earlier key labor flashpoints certainly seems like a no-brainer.
Research consistently has found: the best way to maximize returns across every level of risk is to combine asset classes rather than individual securities.
I use Modern Portfolio Theory to identify the ideal investment mix for each client. It is important to stress that every asset class has a known history of performance, and each one has a future which cannot be known. Every investment involves risk, which is another term for uncertainty. This is where things get tricky, because there is no risk in the past, no uncertainty about how things turned out. Then how are we creating the optimal mix? Diversification is the answer, investing in a variety of assets.
Predicting the long-term performance of just one asset class is harder than predicting the performance of a group of them. Even when most sectors of the market are moving up or down, there’s usually some outlier that’s bucking the trend. Because there’s no way to know in advance what that outlier will be, the best strategy is to own them all and weight them accordingly based on your specific risk tolerance and macroeconomic variables. What we need is long-term past performance data identifying the asset classes with favorable performance and acceptable levels of risk. 11 asset classes were identified based on decades of data and legions of academic researchers. I teach as many people as possible how to put those asset classes together into effective combinations of different investments.
From time to time I slightly overweight towards an attractive asset class when doing so will allow the portfolio to achieve good returns and helps to reach the client’s long-term goals. In the last few months I had several reasons to continue to slowly and carefully invest into the energy sector because fossil fuel related investments have a great chance to outperform their sector, industry or even the market as a whole, and they are at a great discount. I conducted an analysis and created an ENERGY BASKET containing an ideal mixture of US and international energy related equities, currency, and ETFs.
Looking for more information on how to build the perfect portfolio? Donald Conrad invites you to contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 631-439-7878.
A Message from Donald Conrad
I am Donald Conrad, President and CEO of Conrad Capital Management. CCM is based in the heart of Long Island, Islandia (New York), right between the Hamptons and Manhattan. I have offered investment counseling, retirement plan advice to families and businesses across the country since 1998. I began my career in the financial services industry in 1982. Throughout my 34 year professional career I have helped labor union workers throughout NY State. My clients have included indispensable, experienced workers with specialized knowledge from all walks of life, ranging from firefighters to nurses to police officers and air pilots. I have seen firsthand the benefits that unions bring to their members and I worked hard to provide highly customized face-to-face fiduciary investment advice for affordable fees to active and retired workers.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hold Series 7, 24, 63 and 65 licenses, as well as Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) Certification. I am an independent investment advisor; – registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as such subject to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of my clients. In this role I have worked with complex portfolios and served the many unique needs that often require special management strategies. Previously, I served as Senior VP – at PaineWebber (1993 – 1997), Sr. Vice President at Shearson Lehman Hutton (1987 – 1993) and Sr. VP at E. F. Hutton & Co. (1982 – 1987).
CCM is dual-registered, and has three divisions:
• Registered Investment Adviser
• Broker Dealer Association1
• Alternative Investment Vehicle/Hedge Fund of Funds – CCM Partners, LP
I lead a great team of professionals keeping client centric solutions in focus. Investors continue to demand an increasingly high level of expertise, integrity and objectivity. We work hard, walk our walk every day and strive to be the best that we can. The team at CCM is comprised of educated, multilingual, and multinational professionals who are experienced in the areas in which they operate.
The main reason that I became a wealth manager was to help people deal with their money. Working with my clients to get them on the right track to meet their goals is a very rewarding part of my job and it is something that I really enjoy doing. Preparing for a financially secure retirement has become significantly harder in the 21st century. There is something unique about making meaningful and positive differences in the lives of many working professionals helping their transition into retirement.
1 Securities are offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, member FINRA/SIPC. Headquartered at 18 Corporate Woods Blvd., Albany NY 12211. Purshe Kapalan Sterling Investments and Conrad Capital Management are not affiliated companies.
What is more interesting than the highly addictive launched on this week game – is the Pokemon GO privacy element, the casual ambivalence and/or lack of awareness displayed by users towards the data collection capabilities of the app, and what that means for the wider debate around privacy and the use of our personal information.
But first, just a quick glance at the stats surrounding use of this app only which is why it’s worthy of some attention:
Gotta’ Catch ‘em All
If you don’t already know from the millions of tweets, posts and updates flooding your social streams, Pokemon GO is massive.
How massive? ONLY SIX DAYS OLD POKEMON GO IS ABOUT TO SURPASS THE AMOUNT OF TWITTER USERS and amount of time spent using the iOS and Android game – AGAIN IN ONLY SIX DAYS – is nearly twice that of Instagram.
Pretty crazy, right?
On top of this, Pokemon Go has already surpassed 7.5 million downloads on iOS and Android in the US alone, and is generating more than $1.6 million in daily revenue.
Given the numbers, there’s good reason you’re seeing mentions of the game everywhere – and why you’re also seeing people wandering around the streets, almost zombie-like, scanning the world through their phone screens.
The short explanation of Pokemon GO is this – using your phones GPS co-ordinates, players are shown real world locations where Pokemon (cartoon characters with unique abilities) are located. You then follow the map to the designated locations and use your phone to look around for them. Pokemon are obviously not visible in the real world, but they’re shown on your phone screen. Once you find a Pokemon, you can use a Pokeball to catch it.
There’s more to it than that – there are meet-ups and other locations where you can obtain more Pokeballs and battle, but this is the basic gist. The new app is seen as a breakthrough for augmented reality, where computer generated content is layered over real-world locations.
But while it’s proven hugely addictive, and many have praised the app for helping bring people together based on fun and mutual interest (particularly given recent world events),Pokemon GO does raise some significant privacy and data-tracking concerns.
As noted Pokemon GO uses your phone’s GPS co-ordinates and is built on Google Maps. The company that created the game is called Niantic which is lead by John Hanke, who was also one of the founders of Keyhole, the 3D mapping company that Google purchased to power Google Maps back in 2004. As such, Niantic is well-aligned to the inner workings of Google Maps – in fact, Niantic itself operated under Google, then Alphabet, till August last year, when it became an independent company, and Alphabet remains a key Niantic investor.
Because of these connections, Pokemon GO operates on a slightly higher level that your regular map-based game, and can provide more accuracy as to where players are and what they’re doing.
Now, that, in itself, has already lead to some issues – police in Missouri, for example, reported that they recently arrested four men who were using in-game locations to target people searching for Pokemon.
In this sense, the game does lead to an increased level of exposure, and potential vulnerability for users.
For their part, the Pokemon GO developers say they’ve chosen real world locations that are “pedestrian safe” in order to ensure players don’t stumble into trouble, but given the capacity for others to track the locations and lay in wait for unsuspecting victims, there are some issues to be aware of.
But surface problems like these aside, there’s actually another, more significant privacy concern with Pokemon GO that many users are not aware of:
In order to play the game, you need to give it access to your Google account – which is fine, many pages use social logins and similar these days, no problem, right? What many people aren’t aware of, however, is that by signing in via Google, you’re also giving Niantic access to all your Google account information.
Of course, there’s nothing to suggest Niantic’s planning on doing anything untoward with that data access – some commentators have suggested this was probably built-in by default without thinking of the possible ramifications. But even if Niantic itself has no plans to do anything with all that info, you can bet the company’s now become a key target for hackers. If they could get access to Niantic’s servers, they’d be able to get a heap of information from the millions of Pokemon GO users who’ve signed up.
Why? Mostly because in order to block the app’s full access you’ll need to start the game all over again, losing your progress, which will be too much to bear for dedicated Pokemon users.
And that, in itself, actually highlights the true state of our wider approach to online privacy and data access.
Privacy vs Convenience
Overall, our attitudes towards online data access – whether we like it or not, whether we feel comfortable about it or not – really comes down to a question of convenience, of what we’re getting in return.
In a study conducted by The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania last year, researchers found that 43% of respondents were willing to accept a supermarket discount offer even if they knew that as a result the supermarket would analyze their purchase history and make assumptions about them. At the same time, only 21% of respondents – less than half that first group – indicated that they’d be willing to accept that same discount if they knew that the supermarket might use their their data to determine how much money they make. And only 19% would accept with the understanding that the company may use their data to determine their ethnic background.
All of these are ways in which that data is being broken down already – yet when people don’t know this, when they’re unaware of the depths to which that data can be segmented and you, personally, can be categorized, they’re far more willing to accept data tracking when it delivers them a benefit.
This is the same principle behind Facebook’s data access – while people know that Facebook can learn pretty much everything about them based on their on platform activity, then use that information to sell to marketers trying to reach you with ads, they generally accept this trade-off. Because what’s the alternative – stop using Facebook?
Because the benefit outweighs the concern, people click “I Accept” on the terms and conditions and move on.
And this happens all the time – how many times have you actually taken a moment to read through the specifics of what access you’re granting to a company via their documentation?
This leaves us significantly more vulnerable, while also fueling the new age of data-driven marketing. As has been famously quoted many times, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years, a huge amount of personal insights and specifics for any interested party who can benefit to trawl through and categorize you with, based on the most intricate and specific parameters.
Is it good that anyone, if they knew how, could get to know you based on your online presence alone? That they could use your emotional weak spots to target you, to hit with messages that’ll make you more inclined to spend money with them, to donate to their cause?
Whether you like it or not, this is happening, because we readily provide access to such insights via apps like Pokemon GO, largely without even realizing it.
But even when we do know it, even when there’s a heap of coverage and reporting on such data access, most still go along with it. Because it’s easier. Because it gives us access to something we want.
This is why the debate over privacy and data access is doomed to fail. Because despite the many warnings and data breaches and threats, people want to use these apps and features. If Facebook came out tomorrow and said they’d been recording and cataloging all your real-life conversations via the microphone on your smart device, do you think people would stop using Facebook?
Despite the headlines, the debate comes down to convenience versus privacy.
And in the modern world where everything’s available within the tap of a mobile screen, convenience is going to win every time.