12/10/08

Wednesday wrap

What did Prez Bam know and when did he know it? ... Blago "understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1’s" -- Valerie Jarrett's -- "interest in the Senate seat." Blago informed the SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted candidates other than Jarrett to be considered for the Senate seat. The official said he'd look into whether Jarrett still wanted him to push for her. Then Blagojevich raises the idea of heading up a non-profit group affiliated with the union, though not Change to Win, saying "'one thing I’d be interested in' is a 501(c)(4) organization... SEIU Official agreed to 'put that flag up and see where it goes.'" So the SEIU is connected to Change to Win, but the conversation was NOT about Blago joining the group, per the complaint. And incidentally, the Dickensianly named Greg Denier's last name is pronounced De-NEER. (blogs.abcnews.com)

"He has talked with the Governor"
What did he know, when did he know it?



#1 Union Priority wrapped up in corruption ... Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested Tuesday, December 9, for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, considered a deal that would make him the head of a 6 million-member union pushing for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, according to a criminal complaint. Blagojevich, who was wiretapped by federal authorities, allegedly discussed approaching an official of the Service Employees International Union, one of the seven unions that joined together in 2005 to create Change to Win, to seek a high-paying job in exchange for filling the vacant Senate seat with a candidate believed to be favored by the union. (workforce.com)


I'm Andy Stern from SEIU and I'm here to help ... Let’s just put this in perspective. The largest public-sector union — the one that works most closely with governments — has officials in it that see nothing wrong with bribing public officials to get their preferred Senate candidate into office through a corrupt appointment. If Blago’s arrest reflects poorly on Illinois state government, then the involvement of this SEIU official says volumes about the way workers there and everywhere else get represented and organized, as well as how their union dues get used. If they’re willing to flat-out bribe a governor, they’ll be happy to use Card Check to intimidate workers into unions and increase their dues. They’ll then use those dues to buy more politicians, just as we see in this indictment. Card Check is nothing more than a Trojan horse to fund corruption and abuse on the largest possible scale. The Department of Justice needs to start investigating the SEIU’s activities now. Meanwhile, we need to remain firm against the EFCA. The secret ballot is all that will stand between corruption and its lifeblood. (hotair.com)


Prez Bam in center of scandal ... Even before Mr. Obama was elected president, Mr. Blagojevich was recorded telling an adviser on Oct. 31 that he was giving greater consideration to one candidate (described only as Senate Candidate 5) after an approach by “an associate” of that candidate who offered to raise $500,000 for Mr. Blagojevich, while another emissary of the Senate hopeful offered to raise $1 million. “We were approached ‘pay to play,’ ” Mr. Blagojevich said on a recording. (unian.net)


Chicago payola politics is business-as-usual for Prez Bam ... President-elect Barack Obama was untainted but not untouched Tuesday by the stunning scandal surrounding charges that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat in exchange for cash or a lucrative job in the future Obama administration. The charges against Blagojevich suggested that Obama rebuffed the governor, punctuated by Blagojevich's string of curse words to describe Obama. Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, said his office was not alleging that Obama was involved in the scheme, or even aware of it. However, the scandal, which Fitzgerald described as a "political corruption crime spree," threatened to be a distraction as the Obama team assembles a new administration. Some Chicagoans planning to move to Washington with Obama could find themselves facing continuing questions about what they knew about Blagojevich's alleged attempted shakedown. Obama's friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett, for example, is not implicated but likely will face questions about how and why she withdrew her name from consideration for the Senate seat. The charges allege that Blagojevich wanted a payoff from Obama or his allies to name her to the seat. She's now slated to be a top White House counselor to Obama. (centredaily.com)


Dem-SEIU scandal: How high will it go? ... Those of us who have followed Illinois politics for any length of time are tempted to give the Rod Blagojevich arrest and pending indictment a quick shrug, a knowing smile, and a cynical sigh of know-it-all arrogance. "We've seen this before in Illinois, nothing new here, just move along" is the condescending response to questions from out-of-staters that usually suffice when some Illinois politico is caught with his fingers in the taxpayer's cookie jar. But the Blagojevich True Crime Drama is not criminality as usual in Illinois politics. The malfeasance of Governor Rod Blagojevich is so outrageous, so brazen, so breathtaking in its scope and character that even jaded journalistic hacks whose beat has been the statehouse for years are shocked. In the long history of official Illinois corruption, the Blagojevich schemes to personally enrich himself, enrich his cronies, and use the power of his office to further his nefarious designs are unprecedented. (americanthinker.com)


Blago shames organized labor ... A major scandal touching on the incoming Obama administration and both chambers of Congress erupted Tuesday when federal authorities charged Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) with wide-ranging acts of corruption. Blagojevich, the official with authority to name President-elect Obama’s successor in the Senate, and his chief of staff were arrested early Tuesday morning in what federal agents are describing as a vast “political corruption crime spree.” A 76-page criminal complaint, filled with the governor’s profanity-laced conversations — recorded secretly by federal authorities — alleges that Blagojevich tried to trade the vacant Senate seat in return for a Cabinet post, an ambassadorship or a job with a lucrative salary for himself or his wife. A Senate seat is “a f—-ing valuable thing — you just don’t give it away for nothing,” Blagojevich said, according to the complaint. In an earlier recorded conversation, Blagojevich told another adviser that he would appoint himself to the Senate unless his demands were met. (thehill.com)


Andy Stern shames Democratic Party leaders ... Among the revelations contained in the complaint brought against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday was the description of an official with the Service Employees International Union acting as an apparent intermediary between the governor and Barack Obama's camp in discussions over Obama's Senate seat. The alleged role of the SEIU official was surprising, given that the union had not figured publicly in the investigation into Blagojevich (D). But on another level, the SEIU's apparent involvement is an indication of the extent to which it has, under the leadership of its ambitious and controversial president, Andrew L. Stern, become an omnipresent force in Democratic politics. (washingtonpost.com)


Not that there's anything wrong with that ... A Democratic source confirms that SEIU President Andy Stern is the "SEIU official" referred to in the federal complaint against Rod Blagojevich. There's no allegation that the SEIU official did anything wrong, and what appears to be a wiretap transcript has the official reacting non-commitally to Blagojevich's offer of a quid pro quo. Another Democratic source tells me that Stern was been in Chicago November 3 meeting with Blagojevich, a discussion thought to have included talk about the Senate seat -- though that meeting isn't mentioned in the complaint. An SEIU spokesman didn't respond to a call or email seeking comment. (politico.com)


Change To Win Corrupt? Denier says 'No.' ... Change to Win communications director Greg Denier says, in an emailed statement, that Change to Win was never in on the recorded internal discussions about Blagojevich's trading for a top job there: "No one connected with Change to Win ever considered, discussed or promised any position at Change to Win to Governor Blagojevich, his staff or his advisers. In the affidavit released by the United States Attorney, a position at Change to Win is discussed only in conversations between the governor and his advisers. The first time Change to Win learned of any of the matters raised in the criminal complaint was with today’s public release of the affidavit." In Blagojevich's conversation with SEIU President Andy Stern, the governor floats the idea of running an independent non-profit, and doesn't mention Change to Win. (politico.com)


Corrupt Blago shames Congress ... A day before Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was busted by federal investigators on corruption charges, he dared authorities to tape his phone calls if they thought he was guilty of anything. "If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it," Blagojevich said Monday outside a Chicago window factory where workers were protesting their layoffs. His comment came in response to a reporter's question about corruption allegations. Authorities had indeed bugged the governor's campaign office and tapped his home phone, catching him talking about alleged plans to sell the U.S. Senate seat left empty by President-elect Barack Obama. (cnn.com)


Playing politics with workers ... Bank loans should flow to growing businesses, not to provide life support for unions who may have priced themselves out of a job. Even more importantly, government should not force banks to loan money via a threat to cut off government business with the banks. This is extortion. It is also another manifestation of the growing threat of socializing our economy and putting its control in the hands of Democratic politicians. This may sound cruel and cold but it is in the nature of the principle of creative destruction trumpeted by famed economist Joseph Schumpeter . Such creative destruction of old industries can be the very lifeblood of a new stronger economy that provides all of America with a higher standard of living. (americanthinker.com)


Corrupt union agenda exposed ... 1. Employee Free Choice Act - In addition to the notorious “card-check” provision that strips union members of their right to a secret ballot, this bill also provides for increased penalties for employers who commit allegedly unfair labor practices. These increased penalties include treble damages and civil penalties of up to $20,000. 2. Repeal of Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley - Repeal of this section 14 of the Taft-Hartley Act would take from states the right to enact right-to-work laws. 3. Family Medical Leave Act expansion - Bills sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) in the last Congress proposed creation of an insurance system to provide for paid family medical leave and an expansion of the employers covered by the act. 4. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - This proposal is a response to the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision, in which the Supreme Court said that the 180-day statute of limitations for equal pay lawsuits begins on the date the pay was agreed to. The Lilly Ledbetter Act would re-start the statute of limitations each time that a paycheck was received. 5. Minimum Wage Hike - Barack Obama’s website promises to “raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011.” 6. Patriot Employer Act - This bill imposes tax increases on companies that have major operations outside the U.S. and tax hikes on those don’t agree to “labor neutrality,” card check, etc. 7. Government unions - Barack Obama promised during the campaign that he would fight for collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration workers. Big Labor will also seek the forced unionization of police, firefighters, and EMTs by federal fiat -- overturning the laws of more than two dozen states. 8. Union Financial Disclosure - Drastically revise the Office of Labor-Management Standards’ Form LM-2 that has embarrassed and caused legal problems for union bosses by forcing them to reveal their salaries and spending. 9. National Labor Relations Board - Ram through a pro-union-appointee to the NLRB and add more labor advocates to the board. Right now, of the five seats, three are vacant. 10. Overturn Bush orders - Immediate revocation of Bush executive order on Beck rights notices and Bush executive order prohibitions on use of discriminatory union-only Project Labor Agreements in federal contracting. (humanevents.com)


Forced-labor unionism rears ugly head ... "Unions are hoping to reap the biggest bonanza they have seen in the past 50 years because (Obama) has pledged to sign this law," says Michael Blickman, a partner in labor and employment at law firm Ice Miller. But Blickman happens to be not so gung-ho on the act. "I am not the only one who believes that a better name for the Employee Free Choice Act is the Employee Forced Choice Act," he says. "The bottom line is that the law would effectively do away with employers' rights to insist that employees cast pro or con votes in a secret-ballot election for whether they want union representation," he says. The bill would force employees to make public their decision on whether or not to support a union. Their decision would be made known to union officials, their employer and their co-workers. (indystar.com)


Stagehand big directs workers in strike farce ... A low-key stagehands strike against management of the National Orange Show Events Center continued Tuesday as union members sought their first new contract in two years. Rob Szoke, business agent for the local chapter of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, said the union has not had a contract with the Events Center since 2006. "We haven't had a wage increase in two years, and we told them we'd work one more year without a wage increase," Szoke said. The union represents about 80 employees, Szoke said. He added that members are not demanding a raise because they don't think one is feasible in the current recession. He is concerned, though, that Events Center leaders are attempting to break up the union. (sbsun.com)


Workers threatened by crushing tax hikes ... The city paints a "dismal picture" of "doom" and "fiscal devastation" for Gary and Lake County residents in the petition it submitted this week to the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board. If the state's new property tax caps take effect in 2009, according to the report, Gary would be forced to lay off 71 police and 74 firefighters next year, and about 800 other employees by 2010. Union leaders, who were asked by city officials to comment on the report before it was submitted, said details like that could help the city boost its case. "We do need the optimum level of public safety and other services throughout our city," Lorenzo Crowell, an internal organizer for the Service Employees International Union, said. Some, including the Teamsters' Ted Bilski and the Fraternal Order of Police's Del Stout, said they'd be willing to attend hearings in Indianapolis and lobby on the city's behalf, despite this year's pay-cut conflicts, depending on the timing. (post-trib.com)


Louisville's gov't unions dig in v. taxpayers ... Teamsters union officials say they have reached a tentative deal with Mayor Jerry Abramson to cuts costs by having members take additional furlough days rather than forgoing raises. Denny Norris, the Teamsters local principal officer, said union officials met with Abramson after members rejected the mayor's proposal to give up their 2 percent pay raises for the remainder of the fiscal year. Metro officials are trying to meet a projected $20 million shortfall. Abramson had asked all union employees -- about 75 percent of the city's 6,000 workers -- to forgo their raises to save about $2.6 million. The Teamsters, corrections employees and police union members all rejected the proposal. The firefighters union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local have not yet voted on the issue. (courier-journal.com)


Labor-state blues ... After a string of made-in-Boston Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Cider House Rules” and “Good Will Hunting,” the film industry disappeared from the Hub for several years amid a torrent of bad press and the extortion conviction of ex-Local 25 Teamsters boss George Cashman. After Cashman was sent to federal prison in the culimination of a federal probe into Teamster Local 25 shakedowns and intimidation, most major studio heads vowed to never again do business in Boston. (bostonherald.com)


Teachers Union: Strike Ban D.O.A. ... I recently attended a gathering to hear about the bill floating around Harrisburg to ban teacher strikes. It bans strikes and creates a timeline of public contract resolution (currently closed) for those who can't figure it out for themselves. The public is the ultimate checks and balances since most of us are reasonable and it is, after all, our money. There was a small contingent of union devotees and political hacks at this particular meeting hell-bent on putting politics before our children. What was really creepy was that they put their politics before even their own children. They began freaking everyone out by criticizing the good parents who are trying to encourage this bill through Harrisburg. During the Pennsbury strike, the unionites criticized many parents for not being involved. Now they criticize the most caring and dedicated parents I've ever seen. I wish they'd make up their minds. It was as if they were justifying future strikes. Maybe next time they'll criticize single moms who work two full-time jobs to pay union benefits they can't afford for themselves. That'd be a good time to bring up the $600,000+ of our tax dollars that goes right to union coffers that I'd rather see used to pay for full-day kindergarten, for example. While we're on the topic of unions ... How 'bout them American car manufacturers? What the union has done for them brings much goodwill and holiday cheer. It's not easy to make good cars while burdened with almost $2,000 per car of union oppression. The only solution is bankruptcy followed by a lean, high-performance reorganization. The wild bailouts of today just enable more anti-reality behavior while ignoring the problem. The entitlement, I'm-the-center-of-the-universe, you-don't-matter mentality extends way beyond the auto industry and creates an infernal path of inefficiency, underperformance and enormous waste wherever it advances. (thebulletin.us)


Alinsky Rules for Obamunists ... Mr. Obama needs to preserve the next election forhimself so he must avoida middle-class tax hike in the name of the environment. Obama “climate policy” may be rooted in the partial takeover of the Big Three automakers by forcing them to build “green” cars and tax consumers who buy something else available on the market. The Obama plan would be to use environmental trade groups to send back some of their subsidy funds to keep Democrats in power. Special interest groups, politicians and the bureaucracy would be left to grow, while gaining more power through smoke and mirrors. Promise the world but quietly pull the rug back after power is attained. Radical use of a Democracy to gain power while fibbing to your power base. Obama will implement his far-left radical thinking quietly so as not to cause a stink. The end result will be a socialist stinkhole. Saul Alinsky is applauding from his grave. Indeed! (agoravox.com)


New OPEC Leadership proposed ... The current oil price crisis has all the potential, therefore, to promulgate the formation of a new, more formal global axis of oil that includes both OPEC and key non-OPEC members like Russia, and whose participants agree to move in tandem on production in order to stabilize the price of oil within a target price band, likely $80 to $100 per barrel. On November 27, 2008, Russia presented to OPEC a draft cooperation agreement designed to address these very issues. The draft will be considered in detail at the next OPEC meeting on December 19, 2008. Thus, Russia, which produces about the same volume of oil as Saudi Arabia, appears ready to commit to working in tandem with OPEC to defend oil's price. Understandably, the markets are presently very skeptical as to whether Russia and OPEC members can really enact meaningful, in-tandem production cuts to achieve an oil price within a specific price band. Such skepticism is based on the shabby history of producer production cut agreements, except that history does record a few instances of genuine, coordinated cuts that did, in fact, defend oil's price for long periods. (atimes.com)


Who killed unionists in workers' paradise? ... On Dec. 2 Venezuelan interior and justice minister Tarek El Aissami announced the arrest of Julio Cesar Agrinzones (also given as "Arguinzones") Romero the night before on charges of killing three leftist Venezuelan unionists—Richard Gallardo, Carlos Requena and Luis Hern├índez—the night of Nov. 27 in the city of Cagua, southwest of Caracas in Aragua state. Although El Aissami said the government had not established who was behind the killing, he implied it was "over a job," hinting at internal conflicts in the pro-government National Workers Union (UNT), in which the victims were leaders. (ww4report.com)


Is Obama Following the Leninist Line? ... Is former Weather Underground terrorist Jeff Jones claiming that Barack Obama’s “centrist” appointments are a “smokescreen” and that he is pursuing a strategy of governing that would “make Lenin proud?” That shocking information is being reported by many different conservative blogs and Internet sites as proof that the President-elect is pursuing a political strategy designed to confuse people about his revolutionary agenda. Obama may be a Marxist attempting to fool people, but the “Jeff Jones” post on the Rag Blog website doesn’t necessarily prove it. It turns out that the “Jeff Jones” claiming Obama to be a disciple of Lenin is NOT the Jeff Jones from the communist Weather Underground. However, to further complicate matters, the Mark Rudd who is defending Obama on the same blog IS the former Weather Underground terrorist Mark Rudd. On the Rag Blog website, Mark Rudd makes some revealing remarks of his own, defending the “conservative appointments” of the President-elect and saying that they are part of a deliberate strategy to “feint to the right” and “move left.” He explains, “Any other strategy invites sure defeat.” Rather than immediately propose cutting the military budget, for example, Rudd suggests that Obama will pursue security “through diplomacy and application of nascent international law” and lay the groundwork for eventual defense cuts. (mensnewsdaily.com)


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