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McConnell Takes a Steady Lead over Grimes in Recent Polls

A slate of recent polls give Republican Mitch McConnell the edge over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, thought not by much.

The the latest Bluegrass Poll, commissioned from SurveyUSA by the Louisville Courier-Journal and other news outlets, shows the Senate minority leader ahead of Grimes 46 percent to 42 percent. Another 8 percent said they were undecided and 5 percent of respondents supported Libertarian candidate David Patterson. The poll was taken before the resignation of McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton this past Friday. The poll’s margin of error was 4.2 percent.

Democrats have hoped to pick off McConnell in an otherwise difficult election cycle for the party, but the Bluegrass Poll is just the latest indicator that McConnell has a lead. Both an August Public Policy Polling survey and a July CBS News/New York Times survey both showed McConnell with a four-point lead as well.

In 1998, Charlie Crist Called for Bill Clinton’s Resignation, Now He’s Welcoming His Endorsement

Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist will welcome Bill Clinton to Miami for a Friday campaign rally. As is the case for Crist on so many issues, he used to sing a much different tune about Clinton.

During his 1998 Senate race, amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal facing then-President Clinton, Crist, who was running as a Republican, expressed his disappointment in the president and called on him to step down.

“Regrettably, I believe that the president has shattered the confidence and trust of the American people,” he said. “I think he needs to be accountable for that. That’s why I believe the best thing he could do for the country would be the resign the office of the president.”

Crist, who left the Republican party in 2010 after losing a Senate primary to Marco Rubio, is now looking to unseat the current Republican governor Rick Scott in what appears to be a close race.

Californians Tire of Obama, Still Hate Republicans

The Sacramento Bee reports that:

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to a record low in California, with nearly as many voters now disapproving of the job Obama is doing as approving.

Only 45 percent of California voters hold a favorable view of Obama’s job performance, according to a new Field Poll released today, down 5 percentage points from June and dropping below 50 percent for the first time since late 2011. Disapproval climbed to 43 percent.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, said the trend is ominous for Obama, because the latest declines come from his base.

This is “ominous” in what way exactly? Barack Obama is not running for president again, and, even if he were, the idea that he would lose California to a Republican challenger is preposterous. Turnout in the mid-terms doesn’t really matter, because neither of California’s senators are up for re-election and because there is likely only one vulnerable House Democrat in the entire state. At the local level, the consequences are similarly tiny: “The California Democratic Party,” the Bee notes “is trying to rebuild its two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature after three of its senators were suspended in March.” Meanwhile, Jerry Brown is absolutely crushing his challenger in the polls. 

In other words, while voters in the state may well be disappointed with Barack Obama, they are in no way becoming more friendly toward Republicans. Because America essentially has a two party system, it can be tempting on occasion to see politics as a zero-sum game. In this case, however, it’s not. Look at why Californians are falling away:

Support among California Democrats dropped 8 percentage points to 68 percent over the last three months. Approval was down 11 points in Los Angeles County and 7 points in theBay Area, usually liberal strongholds.

“These are constituencies that have been strong followers,” DiCamillo said. But there’s “frustration in the president not getting his way in affecting policy in Washington.”

Put another way, his staunchest supporters on the Left are finally getting tired of him — because he’s not getting them what they want.

Obama’s approval ratings have dropped steadily across the country since his second term began, though they have remained stronger in California than in most states. As high as 62 percent following his 2013 inauguration, support for Obama in California has hovered over 50 percent for the past year.

Thus is California falling out of love last. “Even Obama’s Democratic base is starting to wilt,” the Bee records.

That has been a source of frustration for James Gay, 53, a liberal Democrat from Folsom who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“I liked the man from the beginning, but then as it went on, he kind of changed face,” Gay said. “It’s like he tried to please too many people in too many places and didn’t stick to his vision.”

That “vision” is a progressive one. You will note that Gay is not running to change his voter registration. Instead, he’s considering giving up voting completely:

Gay is still planning to vote, but his general unhappiness with Obama, partisan bickering in Congress and corruption in Sacramento has him reconsidering whom he will support, and whether he will even continue to vote in the future.

“It might be my last time that I do,” he said. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth as a voter.”

A bad taste, it seems, that Republicans are not going to cleanse.

September 2, 2014

ISIS Claims They Won the Iraq War

ISIS terrorists forced American journalist Steven Sotloff to read a statement before his apparent beheading that implies the jihadists won the Iraq War.

“You’ve spent billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars and we’ve lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State, so where is the people’s interest in reigniting this war?” Sotloff says in the video, per a transcript released by SITE Intelligence Group.

The logic of that statement suggests that the terrorists, or at least terrorist propagandists, rejects the conventional narrative of the Iraq war as something that began, had a middle, and then was “ended” by President Obama. 

ISIS made Sotloff speak as if there was one lengthy conflict that ended in the defeat of U.S. troops, when they withdrew from the country in 2011.


Bruce Braley: ‘Damn Right’ I Read All 2,700 Pages of Obamacare

Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley hasn’t talked up Obamacare much on the campaign trail this year, but in his 2012 congressional campaign, he wanted Iowans to know he stood by every word of the law: “You’re damn right I read the bill,” the congressman told his opponent in a debate.

“I had every page highlighted, I had my handwritten notes in the margin and I had tabs there,” he said. His 2012 GOP opponent, Bruce Lange, expressed some skepticism that Braley had in fact read every word of the bill, which is by some counts 2,700 pages.

Obamacare has been fading a bit as an issue in the 2014 campaign, but the fact that Braley seems to have been such an ardent cheerleader for the law may give his opponent, state senator Joni Ernst, an opening.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi considered Braley part of her “go-to gang” on Obamacare, turning to him to help her whip votes for the controversial health-care law, according to the Hill. Braley, for instance, gave one of the closing arguments in favor of the law just before its passage in 2010.

It’s not clear if that means Braley will be standing by every one of the law’s provisions on the campaign trail, though: He voted for a bill, which the Senate didn’t take up, to allow consumers to keep insurance plans that would have been made illegal under Obamacare. The law will also make substantial cuts to Medicare, especially the popular Medicare Advantage. The Iowa GOP points out that the law will cut about $10,000 from Medicare budgets in the coming years for every Iowa senior, by reducing  the growth of payments to doctors and hospitals.

A range of missteps by Braley have helped push the Iowa Senate race, to fill retiring Democrat Tom Harkin’s seat, into a virtual toss-up.

White House: We Tried to Save Steven Sotloff

President Obama’s spokesman emphasized that the United States tried to save journalist Steven Sotloff, who has reportedly been beheaded by ISIS terrorists.

“The United States, as you know, has dedicated significant time and resources to try and rescue Mr. Sotloff,” Earnest told reporters when alerted that ISIS had claimed to have executed the kidnapped reporter.

In the video, the authenticity of which Earnest could confirm, Sotloff is apparently killed by the same British jihadist who killed American photojournalist James Foley.

“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” the terrorist says, per CBS, referring to airstrikes against the militants in northern Iraq.

Dem. House Nominee: Congressional GOP Worse Than ISIS

Over the weekend, the Democratic nominee for Alabama’s third congressional district compared the actions of the party he’d like to oppose in Congress to those of the terror group the Islamic State. 

He tweeted the following:

Smith is running to unseat incumbent Republican Mike Rogers, and has an uphill battle: The race is rated a solidly Republican district by the Cook Political Report.

IBD/TIPP: 73 Percent of Americans Want Obama to Do Immigration Reform with Congress

At Hot Air, Allahpundit records a brutal immigration poll that may help to explain why we are suddenly seeing caution from President Obama. For starters, support for immigration reform per se has diminished since last year:

Last year support for comprehensive immigration reform stood at 54 percent, with just 39 percent support for securing the border. Now the first number is down to 48 percent while the second stands at 47. A border crisis will do that for you.

As for Obama’s taking unilateral action, as IBD notes, the support simply isn’t there:

According to the latest IBD/TIPP poll, 73% of the public say Obama should work with Congress on reforms. Just 22% say he should “sidestep Congress and act on his own using executive orders” — something the president has repeatedly pledged to do…

Another trouble sign for Obama: The age group most fervently opposed to him on immigration is the young voters he has successfully courted in the past. Fully 80% of those age 18 to 24 want him to work with Congress on reform, and just 15% side with Obama’s plan to bypass Congress if they fail to act…

Specific mention of an executive order elicits a similar response. This make any such move likely to hurt, not help, the Democratic party’s attempt to retain control of the Senate. As Greg Sargent argued last week:

Dem hopes for survival rest heavily on turning out the unmarried women who are increasingly key to the Dem coalition but sit out midterms. The way to move them is with a message relentlessly focused onwomen’s economic issues. Any move that allows Republicans to argue Dems are focused on giving jobs to illegal immigrants — however demagogic — risks muddling that message in the minds of voters who arealreadysuffering from economic insecurity. While some argue acting would rev up core Dem groups, Latinos are not a major factor in these races and it might not have any such impact on these unmarried red state women.

Now that it is clear that the Republicans are not going to shut down the government, what exactly does Obama have to gain by acting quickly?

ESPN Poll: 75 Percent of NFL Players Agree with Obama on Marijuana

A poll conducted by ESPN found a majority of NFL-player respondents thought marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol. But the question was framed in a seemingly odd way. The survey asked, “Do you agree with President Obama that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol?” Rather than focus on how marijuana use impacts players, the survey sought to find out how many players agreed with the president’s position.

When three-quarters of the respondents concurred with Obama, ESPN wrote a glowing report of the players’ affection for the President. “When President Barack Obama said earlier this year that he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, his words resonated with NFL players,” an ESPN article states. “In siding with Obama on the marijuana issue, the NFL players surveyed are essentially saying they believe the punishment does not fit the crime. That’s perhaps even more understandable in places such as Denver and Seattle, as the two teams that played in the last Super Bowl are located in states where recreational marijuana is legal in certain amounts.” The article mentions the comment the president made to The New Yorker earlier this year, without pointing out that the president also told the magazine, “I would not let my son play pro football.”

As an afterthought, the article mentions Cleveland Browns standout receiver Josh Gordon’s season-long suspension for a positive marijuana test. Gordon is reportedly pursuing legal action against the league because of its disciplinary action. Fortunately for ESPN’s readers, the article does note that Obama “does not set or enforce NFL policy.”

Report: ISIS Beheads Second American Journalist

Islamic State terrorists have reportedly beheaded a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, as they threatened to do when they released the video of James Foley’s execution.

Senate Dem Outrages Crime Victims With Attack Ad

Senator Mark Begich (D., Alaska) attempted to blame his Republican opponent for a brutal crime, but he only succeeded in outraging the victims of the attack.

Begich has not complied with the victims’ requests to take down a campaign ad that tries to hold former Alaska attorney general Dan Sullivan responsible for two murders and a sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a man who got out of prison early.

“You are tearing this family apart to the point that your ad was so shocking to them they now want to permanently leave the state as quickly as possible,” Bryon Collins, the attorney for the victims’ family, wrote to Begich in a letter published by the Washington Free Beacon. “Again, to be perfectly clear, it was your ad that shocked them.”

Collins was relentless in his denunciation of Begich. “You[r] campaign is playing pure politics at the expense of my clients, and frankly has done only what is in the best interests of ‘Mark Begich’ rather than protecting the victims of the most serious crime in Alaska history,’ he wrote, after suggesting that Begich had “lied to” him.

“You said you would comply and respect the wishes of the family and have yet to do so,” Collins reminded the senator.

The lawyer was much more forgiving of the Sullivan campaign’s discussion of the case, which is still ongoing.

“Dan Sullivan’s campaign may have been perceived as insensitive by my clients when he talked about the ad directly in his response to your ad, but he did not cross the line directly into material facts of the case,” the family’s attorney wrote. “His ad also did not cause the extensive anguish that your campaign did. Yet, more importantly, the Sullivan campaign immediately recognized that the right thing to do was take it down.”

Via Lachlan Markay.

2002 Rotherham Whistleblower Silenced, Assigned to Diversity Training

When a researcher in the United Kingdom’s Home Office reported to Rotherham authorities in 2002 that 270 girls had been sexually exploited in the previous year, primarily by British Pakistani men, she was assigned to a two-day “diversity and ethnicity class.” That is the report from BBC’s Panorama, a U.K. investigative current-affairs program, which devoted its most recent segment to the recent report that more than 1,400 children in Rotherham, England, were victims of sexual exploitation from 1997 to 2013. The researcher spoke on condition of anonymity.

The researcher encountered victims of sexual exploitation through Risky Business, a youth outreach organization set up by the local government. Shocked by the graphic reports she heard, the research began “collecting data on who the perpetrators were, what cars they were using, their grooming methods, their offending methods, and what I was also collecting was information on professional responses,” she told Panorama’s Alison Holt.

But when she informed local council members of her findings, she was astonished by the response:

They said you must never refer to that again, you must never refer to Asian men,” she said.

“And [the] other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues.”

The researcher also says that before her report could be published, someone stole her data from her office. Because there was no evidence of a break-in, she says the thief must have been a council employee. The report was never published, Holt reports, “and the council even tried unsuccessfully to get the researcher sacked.”

“I was subjected to the most intense personal hostility,” says the researcher. “There were threats made from a range of sources. I’ve never seen back-covering like it, and I still feel extremely angry about that.”

Professor Alexis Jay, who authored the bombshell report released late last month, says that the researcher “was punished for speaking truth to power.”

This incident confirms what Jay reported — that because most victims identified Pakistani abusers, authorities were unwilling to investigate aggressively for fear of being considered racist — but goes even further: If the researcher’s claims are true, local authorities knowingly suppressed evidence of child sexual exploitation, perhaps going so far as to destroy it outright, and thereby enabled another decade of abuse.

Spreading Amnesia: Democrats Pin Hopes on Voters Forgetting Who’s Been In Charge

This Labor Day marked the unofficial end of the summer holiday season, and it was also the beginning of the two-month campaign sprint till the midterm elections.

Democrats are making it clear that their campaign will be about agitating the liberal base to get out and vote — which to some extent has to involve getting voters to forget they’ve owned the White House for six years. Vice President Biden spoke at a labor rally in Detroit and told union members, “It’s time to take back America” to ensure “you get an equal share.”

Take back America from whom?

President Obama cast his net for votes wider at a Laborfest in Milwaukee by declaring: “Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights and workers’ rights and civil rights and voting rights and gay rights and immigration rights,” he said. “Cynicism is a bad choice.  Hope is a better choice.”

I know that hope springs eternal, but many voters are fatigued that after six years of Obama they’re still waiting for change in the economy. That’s one reason why neither Biden nor Obama emphasized their economic record yesterday.

Thirty-four percent of the top third of income earners now report they gave made net gains in income, but wages for the bottom two-thirds of income earners are completely flat or have fallen. Even Benton Strong, associate director of communications for the left-wing Center for American Progress Action Fund, admits that many Democrats are “running on the reality that a lot of Americans aren’t benefitting from the recovery yet.”

Indeed, even though broad economic indicators have edged upward, the mood of voters is indeed sour. The Hill newspaper has this summary of recent polls: 

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released earlier this month found 71 percent of people blamed Washington for the economy’s woes, and dissatisfaction mainly fell on incumbents overall, rather than on a particular party.

That poll found roughly half of voters believe the economy is still in a recession, even though the economic decline ended in June 2009.

Similarly, Gallup’s index of economic confidence has remained unchanged for all of 2014. People are actually less confident about the economy now than they were in January, when the unemployment rate was nearly half a percentage point higher.

So just two months before the election, Democrats are pinning their hopes on holding the Senate on the fact that both political parties are unpopular and distrusted. That’s why both Biden and Obama did all they could on Labor Day to pretend they haven’t been in charge for the last six years.

Obama Approval Falls to 45 Percent in Democratic California

Barack Obama won more than 60 percent of the vote in California in both his presidential races. But now the respected 59-year-old Field Poll shows his approval rating in the Golden State falling to a record 44.5 percent low. As recently as January, 2013, Obama’s approval rating in the Field Poll was 62 percent.

The Sacramento Bee details the grim numbers:

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, said the trend is ominous for Obama, because the latest declines come from his base.

Support among California Democrats dropped 8 percentage points to 68 percent over the last three months. Approval was down 11 points in Los Angeles County and 7 points in the Bay Area, usually liberal strongholds . . . 

And without major progress on issues important to liberals, such as immigration reform, even Obama’s Democratic base is starting to wilt. “There’s very little, besides the health reform law, that he can actually hang his hat on,” DiCamillo added.

The disappointment with Obama cuts across ethnic lines. While he retains an 80 percent approval rating among blacks, only 47 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of Asians now approve of his job performance.

Most ominously for Democrats is DiCamillo’s conclusion about the mid-term elections.

“The opinions of likely voters in November are even more negative” than in the state as a whole, DiCamillo said. He noted that Obama’s unpopularity could impact Democrats in down-ticket races. Republicans are mounting strong challenges to four Democratic incumbent House members and trying to ensure Democrats don’t achieve a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature.

Lois Lerner Ignored Millions in Misreported Political Spending by Unions

In case further evidence was needed that Lois Lerner, former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department, may have been a bit biased in her enforcement of the IRS’s responsibilities, in 2007 she seems to have largely ignored claims that labor unions were not reporting millions of dollars in political spending.

According to documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, several unions reported vastly different quantities of political spending with the IRS and the Department of Labor. Lerner e-mailed a reply to the complainants saying that there was no evidence of misreported expenditures. There certainly seems to have been. The Daily Caller explains:

In 2006, the year leading up to Lerner’s email, the national headquarters for the AFL-CIO reported no direct or indirect political expenditures with the IRS on their 990 form, leaving the line 81a blank. That same year, the AFL-CIO reported $29,585,661 in political activities with the Department of Labor.

Also in 2006 the Teamsters Union reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $7,081,965 with the Labor Department.

Again in 2006, Unite-Here reported no political activity with the IRS and $1,451,002 with the Labor Department.

In 2005, the National Education Association also reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $24,985,250 with the Labor Department.

Lerner claimed that differences in reporting requirements between the two government agencies could account for the discrepancies. “Having said that,” she acknowledged, “we did see some instances that raised concerns and we referred that information to our Dallas office to determine whether examination is warranted.” The Dallas office does not appear to have inquired further, according to today’s report.

Landrieu Hit as ‘the Senator Representing the District of Columbia’ in New Ad

American Crossroads has released a new hard-hitting ad questioning whether Louisana senator Mary Landrieu lives in the state, following reports that her claimed address is her parents’ New Orleans home.

The conservative political-action committee suggests Landrieu, a vulnerable Democrat this fall, is a better representative of Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C., than her own state. At one point, the ad shows Washington mayor Vincent Gray referring to Landrieu as “the senator representing the District of Columbia until we become the 51st state of the United States.” Lobbyists and others are featured throughout the ad praising Landrieu for her efforts to fund various D.C. initiatives and projects.

Madison Scholar Condemns AP U.S. History Redesign

The History Wars are back, resurrected by the College Board’s decision to replace a brief and flexible set of guidelines for its AP U.S. History (APUSH) Exam with a lengthy, highly directive, and thoroughly politicized “Framework.” Today’s New York Times features an op-ed by James R. Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, hitting back at critics of the new Framework, including me. I’ll be posting a response to Grossman in time. Right now, however, I want to highlight a significant development.

Ralph Ketcham, distinguished American historian and author of a classic biography of James Madison, is the lead author of a White Paper released today by Boston’s Pioneer Institute. The report is titled, Imperiling the Republic: the Fate of U.S. History Instruction Under Common Core. In it, Ketcham and his co-authors Anders Lewis and Sandra Stotsky offer a deep and biting critique of the new AP U.S. History Framework. Here, I’ll discuss Ketcham’s response to APUSH, leaving the question of the relationship between APUSH and Common Core for another time.

To see what Ketcham has to say about the College Board’s new APUSH Framework, read pages 16-18 of the White Paper. Here I’ll simply present Ketcham’s bottom line assessment, along with his recommendations for action.

According to Ketcham, U.S. history has been “completely distorted” in the new APUSH Framework. He continues:

 . . . a core part of American history (the philosophical and historical antecedents to the Constitutional period, as well as the contentious issues with which the Framers grappled) has been deliberately minimized or distorted by the College Board in its redesigned AP U.S. History curriculum. How did a nation that once believed the learning of history was fundamental to the success of a democracy become a nation in which the evolution of democracy and of a republican form of government is minimized, ignored, left to chance, or politicized?

Toward the conclusion of his analysis of the APUSH Framework, Ketcham summarizes:

To paraphrase a Sergio Leone movie, the new APUSH curriculum represents the bad and the ugly but not the good of American history. The result is a portrait of America as a dystopian society—one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism, and injustice.  Stories of national triumph, great feats of learning, and the legacies of some of America’s great heroes—men and women who overcame many obstacles to create a better nation—are either completely ignored or given brief mention.

In the run-up to his analysis of the Framework, Ketcham provides a fascinating account of the importance of history to the Framers, and of the way in which history has been taught in different American eras. It is a history of the teaching of American history. This material is well worth a read, particularly at this moment.

Ketcham’s “history of American history” constitutes an answer of sorts to one of James Grossman’s central points. Grossman contrasts the claims of “respectful veneration” and our thirst for historical heroes with the need for “critical engagement.” Clearly, Grossman favors more criticism and less veneration. Yet in posing the alternatives this way, Grossman misses the mark.

American history is indeed filled with admirable heroes and achievements worthy of genuine and continued respect. Yet the most important reason for studying the Founders and the principles of our Constitutional system is that healthy republican government depends upon public knowledge of its historical and intellectual foundations. This was a central insight of the Founders, and of early American educators, as Ketcham makes clear.

In giving short shrift to the background and development of America’s founding principles, the new AP U.S. history Framework does far more than merely debunk or neglect stories of genuine heroism. By leaving out a proper account of the principles and history of our democracy, along with its genuine achievements, the new AP U.S. History Framework undercuts the development of the sort of informed citizenry required by a healthy democracy.

In response to the College Board’s attempt to impose so egregiously biased and civically impoverished a curriculum on the nation — in defiance of cherished traditions of state and local control – Ketcham and his co-authors recommend that “state boards of education, governors, and state legislatures . . . disallow public schools to use” the College Board’s new APUSH Framework. In its place, the authors recommend instituting a variety of history courses for all students, broadly inspired by Paul Gagnon’s book, Educating Democracy.”

Of course, it will be difficult for any single state to withdraw from the AP U.S. History program. On the other hand, once a movement begins and one large state (perhaps Texas) or several states withdraw from APUSH, the College Board would very likely be forced to delay or abandon its new Framework.

I’ve given you Ketcham’s bottom line, but do have a look at his brief, biting, and enlightening analysis of the new APUSH Framework. Then compare it to some of the already published reactions to the Framework. It’s a safe bet that this debate will not be going away anytime soon.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and can be reached at [email protected].

NR Seeks Full-Time Editor

National Review is hiring a full-time editor. Applicants should have several years of experience and be familiar with, and enthusiastic about, National Review. If you are interested, please send a résumé and a cover letter to editorial.applications (at)

The Truth about Leo Strauss

Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with Catherine H. Zuckert, co-author of Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy. We discuss who Leo Strauss really was, why his ideas became so controversial after his death, and what’s the difference between an “East Coast Struassian” and a “West Coast Straussian.”

Here’s How the NYT Covers Fast-Food Minimum-Wage Protests

The New York Times has a piece in Tuesday’s paper on a new facet of the multimillion-dollar efforts of the Service Employees International Union and related groups to push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and new union-organizing privileges in the fast-food industry — they now want it to apply it to home health-care workers, too. The reporter, Steven Greenhouse, writes:

The next round of strikes by fast-food workers demanding higher wages is scheduled for Thursday, and this time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests.

The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.

But by having home-care workers join, workers and union leaders hope to expand their campaign into a broader movement.

“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee. At a convention that was held outside Chicago in July, 1,300 fast-food workers unanimously approved a resolution calling for civil disobedience as a way to step up pressure on the fast-food chains.

The organizers don’t offer him anything in the way of explanation about why home health-care workers deserve the same wage floor as fast-food workers. Greenhouse does relay some of the relevant criticisms: Some say SEIU is trying to aggrandize its political power with these expensive efforts, rather than serve its dues-paying members, while business interests insist the wage regulation would wipe out the fast-food industry’s profit margins. President Obama’s measured praise for the effort is included. Unmentioned is the fact that industries don’t just let their profit margins get wiped out — they raise prices or cut costs, i.e., stop hiring people, in order to maintain profits for shareholders so they can keep attracting capital.

But it’s not exactly shocking Greenhouse leaves this out, because he doesn’t seem to have much respect for the other side of these still-minuscule protests. Here’s how he, a straight-news reporter on the labor issue, promoted his story on Twitter:

Adam Ozimek of Modeled Behavior, a tweep but hardly a free-market kook, delivered the appropriate smackdown:

Indeed, to most economists the idea of paying the least-productive fast-food worker $15 an hour is ludicrous, and quite worthy of mockery. Greenhouse’s story doesn’t mention that — it’s busy taking this absurd effort and playing it up big. The modal fast-food worker, also, doesn’t seem very interested: Greenhouse relates supporters’ comments claiming that the last big set of minimum-wage protests, in May, had an impact, but they can only cite the fact that “several” restaurants were closed for “part of” a day, in what was supposed to be a nationwide protest. (Josh Encinias reported for NRO on the lackluster, worker-light protests in NYC.)

A couple related notes: President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board issued a tentative opinion a few weeks ago aimed at giving these fast-food-unionization efforts a boost, by arguing that national corporations like McDonald’s can be held accountable for the labor practices of their independent franchisees. And Richard Yeselson, a labor activist and intellectual, mentions in an interview today with The New Republic’s Nate Cohn that he is optimistic about the opportunities for unionization in low-wage retail work but notes, as he did in a long, influential article for Democracy last year called “Fortress Unionism,” that most non-union industries aren’t about to be unionized rapidly (various “alt-labor” and progressive groups, he’s suggested, might be the right way to support workers in these industries for now).

UPDATE: Greenhouse points out that he covered what economic experts think the effect of a $15-an-hour wage would be in a December 2013 piece, and argues he was constrained by length in this one. It still seems important for readers to know that economists agree that the measure SEIU is pushing for would put a noticeable number of these people out of work down the road (a 1,200-word piece on the topic in the Times in July did not mention it either). I would note one noticeably good thing about today’s story from Greenhouse, and his reporting on the campaign in general: It makes the role of SEIU quite clear, which I don’t think has come through in a lot of other reporting.


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