Opinion Makers Muster Contra Dobbs

By December 17, 2006Dobbs Watch

Dobbs WatchInteresting. Seems like the tides of opinion-making have turned against Lou Dobbs.

The past month or so has seen numerous articles and columns that take on the populist pronouncements of the CNN personality, pieces in newspapers and magazines that span the political spectrum. (See Shopfloor.org covererage here.)

The latest to weigh in is Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review, in an article that focuses on the political context of Dobbs’ fulminating (as opposed to the media-criticism angle): The Apocalyptic Centrism of Lou Dobbs.

There are various ways to tap into public disgust with partisan politics as usual. One is with a tonal centrism. That is what is offered by Barack Obama, a liberal who presents himself with a tone of sweet reason. Then there is a technocratic centrism: the bland, policy-oriented politics of the sort former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner would have offered Democrats had he run for president. Finally, there’s an apocalyptic centrism, spiced up with paranoia and economic ignorance, and warning of the end of America as we know it. Think Ross Perot.

Dobbs is in the Perot tradition. He has taken Dennis Kucinich, Pat Buchanan, and a dash of John Bolton, thrown them into a blender and come up with a worldview that is nationalist and populist, while giving both of those things a bad name.

Boy, that’s a lot of dissing in a couple of paragraphs.

Lowry goes on to refute Dobbs’ usual erroneus facts and dark pronouncements. Lowry’s article also prompts some on-point e-mail commentary in The Corner here and here.

No grand conclusion being drawn here, other than to observe that perhaps Dobbs has simply gained enough prominence that his anti-capitalist schtick is earning the scrutiny it always warranted. (And, ahem, was provided early and often here from the Blogger-in-Chief.)

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • John Bello says:

    It is interesting that NAM is permitting their VP of communications to take a position that may not be supported by a majority of the membership.

    Maybe it is better to sit back as NAM lessens their overall credibility and adds to the divisiveness of domestic vs. multinational manufacturer.

    I don’t envy Pat..he has a very hard sell..just wish he’d debate the issues rather than resort to Dobbs bashing..

    of course, the flip side is..based on their true agenda, NAM cannot legitimately debate the issues so they have to resort to bashing people like Lou Dobbs. Unfortunately Lou Dobbs has placed a mirror in front of the collective faces of the US Chamber of Commerce and NAM. They’ve been exposed..and you are right..they are running VERY scared..if they don’t advance and advocate the mass exodus to cheap labor markets the power, the MONEY, and subsequesntly their paychecks, will simply dry up..

    it’s quite sad actually…it’s only going to get much worse for them..

    oh..by the way Pat..can you please let us know what law firm gave the opinion that the Hunter-Ryan Bill was not WTO legal? We checked with several and they all gave the legislation their blessing..of course..Schumer-Graham was a problem..we knew this from the start..

    Best Regards,
    John

    ..

  • Joe Dragon says:

    Wow Pat, I though it was just me. It turns out I’m not the only person on earth that sees NAM’s big business favoritism. You keep spouting about the equal big business/small business vote on the Hunter bill. What about the fist vote Pat? You know, the one where the large corporations threatened to pull out of NAM if NAM endorsed the bill?

    (Those who backed the measure are now circulating copies of NAM’s constitution to determine whether there are procedures by which the vote can be overturned. Pat Mears says NAM’s Executive Committee will decide on the policy when it meets in September. “If it is determined by the Executive Committee that this is what our policy is going to be, then that is what our policy is going to be,” she says. “We really do stand by the fact that we’re member driven.”) Or not……..

    Not everybody knows that NAM sent out a letter containing a big pile of “what ifs” and a directive to vote against the Hunter bill on their second vote.

    Nam wants small and big business to buy into their propaganda but ignores the popular vote. That decision discredited NAM more than anything I’ve seen. The local Tooling and Manufacturing Association sent a letter to NAM asking the same questions as these. (http://www.tmanet.com/publication/news/viewarticle.asp?ID=5523) NAM sent a typical form letter back “explaining” that they wanted to address the issue but felt the Hunter Ryan bill was the wrong way to do it (http://www.tmanet.com/news/pdf/img-Y221036-0001.pdf). Just more lip service to the multinationals.

    Not everybody is blind Pat. It seems you ticked off a lot of members. http://www.plasticsindustry.org/about/news/2006releases/namstmt-20061031.htm

    I’d like to see the complete list of letters written to NAM by current members and see their opinion of your soft China policy.

    I’d also like to see the membership data you are bragging about. It’s nice to say companies aren’t leaving NAM but just what are the numbers?

    O’Shaughnessy is a board member and also a member of NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers (SMM) group. He says the 300-member NAM board has only 50 members that are small and medium-size manufacturers, and that the “vote not to support Hunter-Ryan was two to one against. While it went down, it wasn’t as overwhelming as you might have expected.”

    More lies?

    “Under normal circumstances, the IEPC recommendation would become policy, but this particular issue is very divisive,” says John Hoskins, Jr., director of governmental affairs for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Curtis Screw Co., and a NAM member. “There are clear lines drawn between large multinational corporate members and small and medium-size manufacturers on this issue—for obvious reasons

    http://www.mbtmag.com/current_issues/2006/nov/views5.asp

    This is the kind of thing I would expect to be coming out of the Shanghai Board of Commerce,” House Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich., one of the bill’s 178 co-sponsors, said of the board’s vote.

    Making more friends Pat?

    http://www.metalformingadvocate.org/NEWS/trade.asp?id=2163

  • John Bello says:

    Pat..please..give it up..the membership committee voted two to one to support the bill..you guys overturned the vote and more than likely had the law firm write some sort of opinion that the WTO wouldn’t recognize the legislation as legal..the truth is Hunter-Ryan would have hurt the members that finance you..the BIG guys..this is why so many members left your organization, you have a severe credibility problem….the majority vote meant nothing..and, frankly, you’ve cleared up nothing…the core of your membership would prefer to go to the cheap labor countries and, you advance their agenda..I do appreciate the opportunity to debate you and get out all the facts..you do believe that it is important to do so, right? good..so..please read on..maybe you’ve forgotten all the facts surrounding the Hunter-Ryan fiasco..afterall… it’s been a six months..this article may refresh your memory…

    Manufacturing Business Technology

    >

    ECONOMIC POLICY
    Some large manufacturers disinterested in policing Chinese currency manipulation

    The board of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) voted against the recommendation of its own International Economic Policy Committee (IEPC) in choosing not to support the proposed bipartisan-sponsored Chinese Currency Act of 2005 now before Congress.

    The membership committee vote in June was near two to one in favor of supporting the bill; the NAM board vote roughly the reverse. At the time of the board vote, the U.S. House of Representatives legislation initially sponsored by Reps. Duncan Hunter and Tim Ryan had 178 cosponsors fairly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

    “Under normal circumstances, the IEPC recommendation would become policy, but this particular issue is very divisive,” says John Hoskins, Jr., director of governmental affairs for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Curtis Screw Co., and a NAM member. “There are clear lines drawn between large multinational corporate members and small and medium-size manufacturers on this issue—for obvious reasons.”

    The legislation adds currency manipulation to the list of unfair trade practices warranting action under U.S. and World Trade Organization (WTO) trade law. The bill would allow domestic manufacturers—especially small and medium-size companies—to file currency complaints against China with the U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking WTO approval of sanctions on Chinese products until the illegal practice is ended.

    Alleged currency manipulation, seen by many American manufacturers as effectively an illegal government subsidy giving Chinese exports unfair global advantage, is deemed as fueling trade imbalance between the U.S. and China. Multinationals that have set up production there are viewed as reaping similar benefit from the currency manipulation.

    “NAM follows the 80-20 rule,” Hoskins says. “Eighty percent of the members are small guys, but big guys give 80 percent of the money to operate. The big guys have invested billions in operations in China under the current currency regime. If somebody starts to mess with that, the value of their investments would be greatly altered. When they export from China to the rest of the world, they benefit from a 40-percent undervalued currency.”

    According to Pat Mears, NAM director of international commercial affairs, “Supporting the Hunter-Ryan bill wasn’t what the board thought would advance our goals. NAM is still concerned with the problem. We’re putting together a special U.S.-China task force to work with Treasury Secretary Paulsen, making our views known and seeing how best we can assist the administration in finding ways to help small companies that are using existing trade law.”

    Brian O’Shaughnessy, president and CEO of Rome, N.Y.-based Revere Copper Products, the company founded by Paul Revere, says, “It’s fair to say the multinationals with interests in China, or importing components from China, prevailed with their view to take, let’s say, a ‘Go slow’ approach.”

    O’Shaughnessy is a board member and also a member of NAM’s Small and Medium Manufacturers (SMM) group. He says the 300-member NAM board has only 50 members that are small and medium-size manufacturers, and that the “vote not to support Hunter-Ryan was two to one against. While it went down, it wasn’t as overwhelming as you might have expected.”

    Ryan Keating, communications director for Rep. Tim Ryan, says the sponsors of the bill will push for passage of the legislation in the lame-duck session following the November elections, adding, “If we don’t get it through then, we’ll push to get passage in the next
    Congress.”

  • Pat Cleary says:

    John:

    Whew! You’ve been busy — let me see if I can respond.

    First, on comments — yes, we approve ’em, which means I approve ’em. I write mostly at night, so that’s when I get around to looking through the hundreds (literally) of comments we get, almost all links to porn sites or selling Viagra. It’s just a personnel bandwidth issue. I rescue the substantive ones and post ’em. You’ll experience some delays as a result — sorry.

    As for the content of the posts, as you’ve seen, we’re not afraid to post dissenting views. This is a blog, after all. Rest assured we’ll post your views. What we don’t post is ad hominem attacks on people (other than me) or on our mbrs. Those in truth are few and far between.

    OK, to the substance of you comments:

    — Our membership and finances are doing quite well, thanks. We are not hemorrhaging members, quite the opposite, not sure where you’re getting your info;

    — On Hunter-Ryan, at our Bd mtg, the vote (by now well-known) was 55-25 AGAINST. Remember that there were 50 small mfr directors at that mtg. We also know that some large members were vocal supporters of the motion. That tells us that fewer than half of the small mfrs present at the bd mtg supported the motion. That kinda puts the lie to the large vs. small canard, doesn’t it? But it makes for a goods story, I understand;

    — The consensus in that room (as anyone who was there can tell you) was that Hunter-Ryan would have little effect, that it would take a very long time and with maybe no payoff in the end. Them’s the facts, sorry.

    Hope this clears up some wild stuff that’s flying around out there, but I was in the room. Anyone else who was there can tell you the same thing.

    Thanks for writing,

    Pat Cleary

  • John Bello says:

    Pat..the current system is broken..too many losers on our side…the American people are connecting the dots..by excepting and endorsing so many bad trade agreements..NAM has become part of the problem..frankly, I don’t care if you post or not..the fact is NAM IS losing their clout BIG TIME.many of your members, I’d say a majority of your smaller ones..are VERY disappointed ..and, feel that they’ve been tricked into joining NAM based on the pretense you’d fight to save their domestic operations..your posturing allows for the destruction on these companies in favor of illegal, unfair trading countries..it’s true Pat..time to change strategy..you cannot convince the masses that things are fine when they are not..look at the midterm results..If Lou Dobbs doesn’t mean anything, why the need to to bash him?…….another good article….I don’t expect you to post since the organization and the website is biased against the American worker in favor of the needs of the multinations…..but, please feel free to email me direct if you’d like…..

    by Phyllis Schlafly
    Business Week Concedes Globalism is a Problem
    December 16, 2006 02:31 PM EST

    Economists, academicians and financial consultants for years have been preaching that globalism is the wave of the future and that anyone who wants to survive in business must ride its surfboard or drown. All of a sudden, Business Week is having second thoughts.

    This voice of business now says that the United States is no longer the captain of our fate because “globalization has overwhelmed Washington’s ability to control the economy.” As recently as ten years ago, the United States could set its course for economic growth by tax and spending decisions made by our elected representatives.

    But no more. Whether you are a Republican supply-side tax-cutter, a Wall Street deficit hawk of either party, a Silicon Valley techie, or Nancy Pelosi pandering to those who want to boost the minimum wage, you must face the fact that you are marginal in comparison with the elephant in the room, which is globalization.

    By many traditional criteria, our economy is doing great. Unemployment, inflation and interest rates are low, the stock market and household wealth are high, and goods are cheaper than ever.

    But real wages for many U.S. workers are down over the past five years and have stagnated for others. Business Week now admits that our weak wage growth is driven by competition from cheap labor in Asia and that Congress is virtually powerless to make any significant difference.

    The effects of globalization are not equal. Janet Yellen, president of San Francisco’s Federal Reserve Bank, warned in a recent speech: “Globalization and skill-based technological change may have been working in combination to particularly depress the wage gains of those in the middle of the U.S. wage distribution.”

    Gone are the days when the man once acclaimed as the most powerful in the world, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, could manipulate our economy by tweaking our interest rates. Although President Bush’s tax cuts poured hundreds of billions into the economy and cut our federal deficit by 40 percent because taxes on business and high-income individuals were so much higher, they generated fewer U.S. jobs than expected.

    What about the area we brag about: research and development? Business Week admits that it’s no longer a given that U.S. workers benefit directly from U.S.-funded research because India and China are increasingly attractive places for U.S. companies to do R&D, and education is no answer because globalization depresses wages for the better educated as well as the poorly educated.

    In the Franklin D. Roosevelt era of the 1930s, conventional wisdom was that socialism, based on government spending to deal with all problems, was the wave of the future. That folly persisted into the 1970s, when Richard Nixon famously said, “We are all Keynesians now.”

    Fortunately, such nonsense died with Watergate and was replaced by Reaganomics and its assumption that government is the problem, not the solution.

    Now the fashion is to promote globalism as our inevitable future, but that means world socialism because any free market requires a government to regulate and enforce its rules and contracts. Business Week seems to concede this when it reports that some are toying with “the creation of global institutions for governing the world economy.”

    The 2006 election showed that the middle class understands that globalization means the free movement of labor as well as goods across borders, and that is the enemy of well-paid American jobs. Even if U.S. workers give up pensions, health care, overtime, and all the employment benefits that have become the norm in America, there is no way they can be competitive with the very cheap labor in Asia.

    Republicans should listen attentively to the campaign messages of the Democrats who won in November 2006. Sherrod Brown, who defeated Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), promised: “In the U.S. Senate I want to revamp U.S. trade policy to reward corporations that create jobs at home.”

    Campaign materials of Bob Casey, who defeated Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), proclaimed that Casey “opposes unfair trade laws like CAFTA that put U.S. workers at a disadvantage.” Jim Webb, who defeated Senator George Allen (R-VA), said, “The middle class is continuing to get squeezed by stagnant wages and rising cost of living. . . . We must reexamine our tax and trade policies … so that free trade becomes fair trade.”

    Ben Cardin, who was elected to the open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, said, “I will soon be introducing legislation to restore international tax fairness to prevent further discrimination against American workers.” Even Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary, who is now at the University of California/Berkeley, asks, “How long can and should the U.S. continue to subsidize the rest of the world?”

    The Democrats are full of rhetoric but are bankrupt of solutions. Nor does Business Week suggest solutions, merely pointing out that the old tools don’t work any more.

    If Republicans want to take back Congress in 2008, they will have to find solutions other than the tiresome mantras that we should improve our educational system and be more competitive with cheap labor abroad. The winners will be those who make friends with the middle class, a.k.a. the Reagan Democrats.

  • John Bello says:

    Pat..

    where are my other posts..?

    ..what happened?

    Pat..you are a good company man… you are simply trying to advance your organization’s agenda..

    ..unfortunately, NAM is not the sollution to the problem but part of the problem..

    when you get a chance..get back to us on the Hunter Ryan Bill..

    Best Regards and Happy Holidays!
    John

  • John Bello says:

    Just to refresh your memory..Like I said, NAM is in favor of multinational corporate managed trade..NAM couldn’t care less about the American worker or the domestic manufacturer having or continuing domestic operations..companies moving off shore to cheap labor countries is just fine in NAM’s eyes..thankfully, your action on this legislation has opened a lot of eyes..Lou Dobbs has known about you forever..so, you bash him…meanwhile his ratings continue to rise..and, you continue to LOSE members..anyway..here is a small protion of the article that appeared in Manufacturing News:

    NAM Board Votes In Favor Of Multinationals In Debate Over China’s Currency; Domestic Manufacturers Are Left Wondering What To Do

    ——————————

    BY RICHARD McCORMACK richard@manufacturingnews.com

    For members of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Domestic Manufacturers Group, September 28 will be a day to remember. Their two-year effort to persuade NAM to endorse a currency manipulation bill was rejected by the association’s executive committee and board of directors. Members of the Domestic Manufacturers Group (DMG) claim the loss was the result of opposition from the large multinational corporations that benefit from China’s pegged currency working in concert with NAM’s senior leaders intent on quashing an uprising. NAM leaders counter that the legislation was not going to force a sovereign nation of 1.3 billion to change its policies any time in the near future.

  • John Bello says:

    Pat..

    NAM’s agenda is to support outsourcing and the race to the bottom plain and simple..it benefits the core of their membership..not the majority…You’ve given awards to people like Rep. Rodney Frelinghusen,R-, of New Jersey who never saw a trade agreement he didn’t like..in fact..I believe he voted yes for all of them..!!..can you please explain what happen with the Hunter-Ryan Bill? It had been scrutinized by by top Washingotn law firms as WTO LEGAL..the excuse you gave was that it would not pass muster with the WTO?…you overturned the will of your membership who overwhelmingly voted to support the Bill..the true fact is it would have hurt your larger members..NAM is Sham..it’s been developed to let the administration look like they are getting support for their flawed failure of a trade policy..Next you are gpoing to tell us the The US Chamber of Commerce and The CATO are fighting for us, right..? Do us a favor, don’t do us any favors..we are on to you….fortunately, your membership, the “thousands” of small manufacturers you talk about, are also getting the memo and leaving your organization in droves..Tell the truth Pat..

  • Pat Cleary says:

    John:

    We fight every day for a climate that will allow manufacturing to survive and prosper in the US, like trying to trim the 32% non-wage cost disadvantage we have with our competitors. The Chinese didn’t do that to us — legal costs, taxes, energy costs, etc. We did that to ourselves. As for China, we have led the charge on trying to get them to let their currency float. There is small disagreement on tactics, but not on the goal.

    We have plenty of clout, thanks to the tens of thousands of mostly small manufacturers we have in membership, who weigh in with their elected officials every day.

    As for Dobbs, he’s just flat wrong on trade, saying trade agreements cause trade deficits. They actually open markets to US manufacturers. Are you one? Are you exporting? If not, you should be.

    Anyway,thanks for writing.

    Pat Cleary

  • John Bello says:

    Much like NAM I guess..??

    Your organization has been exposed for the sham that it is..you do not protect domestic business and manufacturers..in fact..your core is multi-national based..didn’t your governing council just recently go against your organization’s consensus on the Hunter-Ryan Bill??
    You do not represent the United States’ manufacturer nor are you a voice for the American worker..you are nothing more than a tool for the lobbyists and multinational companies that shape our current flawed, corporate managed trade policy..

    you are losing your clout..I guess you have no choice but to bash Lou Dobbs..huh?
    ..my guess is you won’t approve this post since it exposes your true agenda..not that it matters…NAM is not so meaningful these days..